The Lope: August 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Skies of Home

The sun set along Hwy 400, just inside the Reno County, Kansas, line, Friday night.

The Dutch Mill Bakery sign in Yoder, Kansas, offers this neon windmill with "motion."

Along Yoder Road, clouds in front the already-set sun cast a dagger-like shadow.

This it the corner of Yoder Road and hwy 50, looking west down 50.

The Hutchinson sign is along hwy 61 as you head north into the city.

This isn't in Hutch, but you know what'd be cool? A Muffler man similar to the one above in Springfield, Il, but customized for Hutch with a shirt bearing the city slogan, holding a Mercury-Redstone rocket to symbolize the Cosmosphere (the local space museum) and wearing a salt-mining helmet with lamp that really lit up at night. That would draw the roadside attraction tourists like the beacon that it really would be. I'm serious, you know.

The Cargill Salt evaporation plant hums steadily in Hutchinson.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


The U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, looks down on Quark's bar for a few more days, but after Monday night, September 1, the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton closes for good.

In addition to a museum of props and prop replicas, and two different interactive "experiences", the attraction featured a replica of the bridge set from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ace Jackalope tried out the captain's chair.

Alas, it will be harder to get Romulan ale smuggled across the Neutral Zone. See more pictures on the original post from our 2005 visit. Hailing frequencies closed.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Things Seen on the Road

Windmill blades head North on I-71 in Missouri on August 17, 2008.

A cool 4-H sign heads south on K-61 near Hutchinson, Kansas, on July 24.

It's not a cheap piece of work - it looks shaped and curved instead of just being 2-D panels in a frame. It also looks like it might light up. Maybe we'll see it at the upcoming Kansas State Fair. I'm wondering if it had anything to do with a county fair somewhere, or if it's brand new...anyone?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Look Back at Another Clinton Speech

If you like Bill Clinton's speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, you might enjoy a speech he made in Manhattan, Kansas, last year. Here it is. That's Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius at right, who spoke previously. The photo was taken March 3, 2007.

Attack of the Deadly Maple

Could Autumn be testing the waters via this leaf in Joplin, Missouri, on August 21?

And what makes leaves turn red, anyway?

I know, I know. It's basic grade school stuff that green Chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down to reveal the the yellow (carotenoids) and red (anthocyanins) chemicals in the leaves.

But it turns out that in the case of maples, something else very devious is going on.

Maples leaves, in particular, also turn red because they're actually producing more anthocyanins. Why would they do that when winter is coming and the tree should be more conservative with its resources?

Because the tree is using anthocyanins as a chemical weapon of sorts; that's why - better not tell the administration.

A Study done by professor Frank Frey and former student Maggie Eldridge at Colgate University reveals that the anthocyanins, which leech into the ground via discarded red leaves, stunt the growth of other seedlings and stop some seeds from growing at all. This reduces competition for the tree's resources.

Of course, this offers potential for a natural herbicide. Maybe there's a green future in red leaves.

Add to this that Frey says anthocyanins may inhibit the growth of some cancer cells in vertebrates, and you've got a lovely case of something in nature being able to take and give life.

(same leaf, August 27 - sunlit this time)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Superman SuperTam Ice Cream on Route 66

I've been surprised at the lack of publicity given to the 70th anniversary of Superman's debut in Action Comics #1 in the summer of 1938. We haven't forgotten the Septuagenarian of Steel, though, and in lieu of a drink (he'd never approve) we decided to salute him with ice cream and lots of pictures.

It turns out the ice cream part is easily done along Route 66 in Carterville, Missouri, at the SuperTam Ice Cream parlor. I've been taking photographs of it for a year and a half, and a visit last night with friends and family in tow spurred me to do something with the photos before Supe's anniversary year is over.

The place is decorated with more Superman stuff than I've seen almost anywhere from the owner's 30+ year collection. And it's perky, too. You can't decorate with such bright primary colors without being perky.

So, about the name - owner Larry Tamminen originally called the place "Superman on 66." Though, I don't think there ever was a sign on the building by that name.

The legal forces of Time-Warner, which owns DC Comics and the Superman name, were not pleased. They swooped in and sent Larry a letter instructing him to drop the name of their copyrighted Kryptonian.

And so, the name became "SuperTam on 66", using the first three letters of Larry's last name - Tamminen. (2007 photo - prices may have changed)

He told me just last night that the corporation is allowing him to keep the Superman shield on his sign until it wears enough to need to be replaced. Then, he says, he'll replace it with a Route 66 shield.

I'm glad Time-Warner didn't come down any harder. Larry is, after all, a contagiously enthusiastic supporter of the Man of Steel and the merchandise that carries the Superman name.

Last night I even saw a little boy playing with a red, yellow and blue toy in a basket of assorted Superman toys Larry keeps for kids' amusement. Thus, Larry is helping impress the Superman brand on another generation of potential consumers of licensed products. There's even kid-oriented wallpaper in the restroom that features DC Comics characters.

I'll even admit that after a visit last year, I stopped at the Joplin Hastings store and bought a Superman comic book, just to see what the ole' boy was up to.

And here's a cone with two scoops of actual Superman Ice Cream, shown by one of Ace's chauffeurs. The stuff tastes a lot like bubblegum and sports Superman's colors of red, yellow and blue. Larry also sells several other rather tasty flavors of ice cream. I heartily recommend Superman, Butter Pecan and Moose Tracks.

Just to avoid any confusion I should point out that Larry does not make Superman ice cream. It's a manufactured flavor that has been around quite a few years, has its devotees, and is not as available nation-wide as many would like it to be. It seems to be somewhat easier to find in the upper Midwest. The maker of Superman ice cream has legal permission to use the name as far as I know.

Larry says this cloth and plastic hand puppet is the oldest Superman piece he has on display at the store.

Here's a striking example of how the same subject can be rendered in entirely opposite ways. Compare this mondo macho Superman figurine...

...with this Superman by Enesco in which Superman looks like he's checking his lipstick.

This statue represents Superman's first encounter with Supergirl. See the bottom of this post for more Supergirl stuff.

The parlor's location on Route 66 is echoed throughout the store, as it is here in the bathroom.

Insert your own caption.

Carterville is an old mining area, hence the "sunshine lamp" on Superman's head.

This Kit-Cat clock is a limited Route 66 edition. I wonder if Larry got it when the world's largest Kit-Cat clock caravan came through last year.

Larry tries to photograph all visitors the first time they come in the store.

Larry's car

Two Christmases ago, we noticed a Superman-themed tree.

SuperTam Ice Cream is open (March - September) Tuesday through Sunday, 4:30PM to 9M. In October through December the parlor is open only Friday through Sunday 4:30PM to 9PM. It is closed for the winter in January and February.

If you're a Superman fan, you might also enjoy seeing:

The huge fiberglass statue of Superman in flight at Hamleys Toy store in London in October of 2006.

The city of Metropolis, Illinois, which contains the Superman Museum...

...and a huge Superman statue at the end of the main drag.

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum currently displays a Superman costume worn by Dean Cain in the TV show, Lois and Clark...

...and a model of the Daily Planet used in the movie, Superman Returns. Go there; it's cool.

Here's a Supergirl whose superpower is whining for money in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, August, 2005.

On a pleasant note, a very nice Supergirl at Trek Expo 2008...

...where we met actress Helen Slater who played Supergirl in the movie of the same name. I really tried to include Ace in this picture, but I can never seem to catch Ace and Superlope in the same place at the same time.

If you'd like to see the building on which DC's Justice League headquarters is based, check out our visit to the Cincinnati Union Terminal.

And if you're into ice cream parlors, you may enjoy Aglamesis Brothers in Cincinnati.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama Text Message Announcing Biden as VP Candidate

Just in case anyone who didn't sign up for this message was curious about it, here it is:

The text reads:

"Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3PM ET on Spread the word!"

It hit my phone at 2:44 AM Central Daylight Time, August 23, 2008, from number 622-62.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama Headquarters' Open House in Joplin

The same day that John McCain pulled ahead of Barack Obama in a prominent poll, a dreary rain suffused Joplin, Missouri, as the Democratic Party campaign headquarters held its open house, yesterday.

A Reuters/Zogby's poll of likely voters showed McCain leading Obama 46% to 41%. However, a LA Times/Bloomberg poll of registered voters still showed Obama leading McCain 45% to 43%.

Over 300 Obama supporters sardined into the not-quite-big-enough offices at 2727 E. 32nd Street, Suite A. I didn't stick around long; with that many people, it was a bit carbon dioxidy. These folks near the vaguely Warhol-esque poster were in the foyer, looking into the main room.

Attendees listen to an address via telephone by Senator Clair McCaskill. McCaskill said of the turnout in Republic-dominated Joplin, "This can't be Jasper County, can it?" I heard several people remark they'd not previously seen this degree of attendance for a local Democratic Party office function. This mirrors my experience at the Reno County Kansas Democratic Party Caucus.

Across the hall, Dynasty Transportation displayed its support of McCain.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Man Looks at Family Member in Coffin; Baby Jesus Regards

Seriously. That's what I thought of when I first saw one of these signs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nocturnal Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

Any Presidential candidate should understand the "great American pastime" and its anthem, so Ace had some peanuts and Cracker Jacks at the ole' ball game last night.

And when I say "last night", I mean all night. Look at the time. It was 2:21 AM when this runner for the Liberal Kansas Bee Jays rounded third base at Wichita's Lawrence Dumont Stadium during the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series. We'd previously attended the tournament two years ago.

There were actually a couple hundred scattered people still in attendance in the wee hours of the morning.

Mike Hargrove is a bit of an enigma to baseball fans. He's kind of a big deal.

In his 38 year career, Hargrove managed major league baseball teams the Seattle Mariners, the Baltimore Orioles and the Cleveland Indians. He left his position with the Mariners just last year, saying his "passion has begun to fade" for baseball. The Mariners were the most successful major league team at that time.

Now he manages the Liberal Bee Jays. As a Kansan, I think this is rather cool. Ace and I caught up to him right before the Bee Jays' game with the Hays Kansas Larks.

Oblivious to the runner stealing second base, Ace used his bat for crushing peanut shells and his glove for holding them. Obviously, as his campaign manager, I have some work to do.

The score board at Lawrence Dumont is an older style and the letters are changed manually; numbers are changed from behind the board. No, they weren't selling beer by the quart. He's about to replace the beer ad with a sign for the quarter finals.

I was curious about what constitutes a Cracker Jack prize these days. When I was kid, I loved the little plastic toys. This paper prize turned out to be a history lesson about Susan B. Anthony.

I caught the end of this fan singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

I, however, am not really a baseball fan. I'd gone to the game mainly to see my brother Steve, who turned his baseball fandom into a profession, having co-produced The New Ballgame with Iowa Public Television. He's currently working on a documentary on Baseball in Japan.

It was 4:28 in he morning when the game ended.

Hargrove congratulated his players after they defeated the Larks 7 to 1. The tournament continues today.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Leslie Bernard's Bikes

I don't know anything about bikes, but when the Hutchinson, Kansas, online magazine What's Up Hutch? posted a video of a man riding an oddly tall bicycle and asked for more information, I couldn't resist stopping when I saw the cyclist in traffic a few days later.

Leslie Bernard of Hutchinson proceeded to show me the home-built bicycle he calls the "Tornado."

He demonstrated to me and a small group of passers-by how he mounts and dismounts the bike (above), and then rode off to return with a second bike, this one helped along by a motorized fan (below).

Bernard told me the design was similar to early bicycles called "penny-farthings", a name which referred to the British penny and farthing coins of the time being very different in size, such that when placed beside each other, they reminded one of the differing wheel sizes of the bike.

(Fans of "Family Guy" will recognize the bicycle ridden by the two Victorian moustached muscle men as a penny-farthing. The logo of "The Village" in the 1960s British counter-culture sci-fi show "The Prisoner" was a penny-farthing.)

He calls the motorized version the "Hurricane." As near as I can tell, the motor helps only the fan and is not connected to the gears.

I believe the stabilization rotor on the rear wheel is just for looks, in imitation of those on helicopters.

Bernard delighted in explaining the origins of some parts of his bikes, but kept a few secrets for himself. He did mention a third bike, the "Tsunami"; if I run across that one, I'll post.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Air Supply

Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, the duo that forms the core of Air Supply, played in Wichita this past Saturday night.

Yeah. Air Supply, a soft rock ballad duo from the 80s - not normally my thing. I've always been more of a 70s progressive rock and current alternative guy. When he learned I'd gone to the concert, my brother even called me and said "I know it was free, but...Dude?...Air Supply?"

The last time I thought of Air Supply by name is when Stewie on Family Guy did a systems check in a vehicle and says "air supply?", whereupon his computer plays "Lost in Love."

But I gotta admit, I had a blast. The group's musicianship was tight, yet their informality engaged the crowd. And those songs - I guess it's no surprise that a sound as ubiquitous as Air Supply was in the 1980s can run beneath the waves of your mind like a subliminal submarine which needs only a reminder to surface. It's four days later, and I'm still running "Lost in Love" in my head. So far, it's not annoying.

The deal was that my friend Sandi had two tickets to the show - free, courtesy of it being a kick-off event for the Wichita Open golf tournament at Crestview Country Club. The concert itself is listed as being sponsored by Cox Cable.

Sandi couldn't go because she unexpectedly had her son that weekend and she deemed it inhumane to subject the lad to 1980s soft rock, so she offered the tickets to me and forked them over during a visit to the Anchor Inn, just just outside the Rudy Love concert, Friday night.

My friend Patsy and I had already decided to go to Wichita Saturday to do some thrift store shopping. I tried to give the tickets away a couple times, knowing Patsy wasn't that interested. We finished at 8PM, across town from where the concert was already starting. "What the heck? Let's go over there", we said.

Concert goers were supposed to meet at the parking lot and be bussed over to the country club. When we arrived at the lot, well after 8, a security guard told us the last bus had left and that we couldn't park near the country club.

Of course, how much fun do you have in life if you concede defeat so easily? So, we headed over to the country club where Patsy, in her best affected Southern girl accent, asked if we couldn't park there. (A Southern Girl is an asset to most any quest.) He graciously allowed us to look for a spot, and we found a peachy one.

We lead charmed existences, and we know it.

Patsy settled into her camping chair at a nice spot in the back. I headed toward the stage and quickly shot one general photo in case I was stopped on the way and told cameras were not allowed.

But it turns out cameras were allowed - cameras, cell phone cameras...I even saw a few camcorders. Holy crap. Do you know the last time I got a camera into an event like this without pulling strings? I don't even remember.

And because I have pictures, I wrote this post, which'll be picked up by Google and possibly help sell tickets to Air Supply shows where you actually have to buy admission. Not to mention the scads of other people who had fun taking photos and showing them to their friends. Good PR, that.

Remember that Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman concert I blogged from England? No? Oops, that venue stopped me from taking photos so, this being a photo blog, I blew it off and never wrote about the show. See how that works?

It was hot, btw - in the upper 90s when the show started at 8PM. You can see Hitchcock sweating. I never understand the tendency of musicians to wear jackets and leather pants when it's so frickin' hot. They did change costumes once during the show.

Bass player Jonni Lightfoot

Jed Moss on keyboards

Mike Zerbe, formerly of the Coates Twins, has played drums for Air Supply since 2003. Zerbe was raised in Glendale, Arizona, and now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, where his wife, Rashell, is a police officer.

This was an all-ages event.

This little girl was in an adult's shoulders for a better shooting position. It occurs to me that for this girl's entire life, phones have been able to take pictures.

It looks like she likes what she's getting.

I was expecting and older, mellower crowd. Many women near the stage flashed, sometimes small groups of them would do this in a pattern like the wave. At one point, there were bare breasties behind me and to the right of me. Of course, with my digital camera's shutter lag, I didn't get any R-rated material, not that I could have shown it here anyway.

I did point the camera at a women just after she flashed. She smiled politely and said "Sorry; you're not with the band."

Women weren't the only gender sending messages to the stage. I didn't notice until I was editing these that the guy on the right had made a heart out of his glow necklace.

And now, a video of the end of the encore song, which was "I'm All Out of Love" as a sing-a-long. I wouldn't post it, except it's pretty much about the audience at this point. You can hear a woman yelling at the stage, "We want to party with you, after..."

After the show, Hitchcock and Russell signed autographs and posed with people (and jackalopes). I've never made a music-oriented outfit for Ace, which is a lapse on my part as his clothier.

Back to that part about leading a charmed existence that leads to unexpected fun - You know how it happens? Friends. I had one that offered me tickets, and another that wanted to go to Wichita. Lone explorations are satisfying, but some kinds of fun don't happen in a vacuum. A healthy social network facilitates good fortune.

See more pictures here, here, here, here and here. And for a different selection of my pictures, and Patsy's take on the evening, look here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Love in the Park

Rudy Love (left) and the Love Family Band performed in Hutchinson, Kansas, Friday night as part of the city's Emancipation Day Celebration in Avenue "A" Park. The concert was sponsored by the Hutchinson Reno Arts and Humanities Council.

The show was free, as were hot dogs, lemonade and ice water.

Avenue "A" Park in a nicely sculpted bit of landscape through which Cow Creek flows.

I shot another concert here just three weekends ago.

The evening sun back lights the aquatic part of the park.

Rudy Love is a musical prodigy who has been performing since the 5th grade. He toured with Little Richard when he was 18.

Love became the musical director for Sly and the Family Stone in 1975. After that, he toured Asia and Europe as a solo artist and leader of his own band. His 1997 disc "Out of Rhythm" went platinum.

The list of people this guy recorded with is impressive: Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Marvin Gaye, Chaka Kahn, Van Morrison, Billy Preston, Buddy Miles, Herbie Hancock, Tower of Power, Bill Wyman, and Isaac Hayes.

Love lives in Wichita now (hey, impressive song title, that would be) and still writes, performs and records. He recently worked on the sound track of the movie "American Gangster" and he has collaborated with hip hop artist Jay Z.

I believe the guy on the right is Rudy's brother, Bill Love.

See two more pictures here and here.

A painted mural on the other side of Main Street serves as a distant backdrop for Rudy Love's son, Rudy Junior, as he plays keyboards.

There are some other members of the Love Family Band here, here and here. I can't find their names online. Perhaps someone can supply them?

More Avenue "A" Park views:

See more on Patsy's blog, and read more about Rudy Love on his website and his My Space.

The concert in Avenue "A" Park ended a little after 9, but the group announced it would move a few blocks south to a parking lot on the corner of Main Street and Avenue E.

We didn't catch them there, but were impressed with another band, Ncyte, which was playing in that show, sponsored by Greys Barber Shop. That looks like an old diner behind them, in front of the Tyson plant. I'll have to find out more about the diner.