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Catoosa seeks grant to buy Blue Whale December 31, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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The city of Catoosa, Okla., has applied for a $600,000 grant to buy the iconic Blue Whale landmark and make improvements on its grounds, according to the Claremore Daily Progress.

Officials should know by February whether it receives a state Transportation Enhancement Grant to purchase the Blue Whale, enlarge its parking lot, install decorative signs, and build a trail along Route 66 from a Reasor’s grocery store west of the grounds.

The whale has been privately owned since it was built in the 1970s, and Lamkin said only one member of the owning family — Catoosa resident Dick Belt — survives.

Belt told city officials he’s willing to sell if the city vows to preserve the landmark. He owns the whale, the parking lot and surrounding land — all of which city officials hope to buy.

With excitement increasing, Lamkin believes the time is right.

“We have an opportunity with one remaining family member who’s the sole owner of all of it now,” she said. [...]

She said there are also plans to replace the deteriorating former Animal Reptile Kingdom, a model of an ark, with a replica.

According to the story, the entire project would cost $720,000, with the city covering $120,000 of that.

To their credit, city officials have done a lot of work and organized events to bring more interest to the Blue Whale, including a Christmas lighting ceremony a few weeks ago.

Severe storms, tornadoes strike Missouri and Illinois December 31, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Weather.
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Severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes lashed Missouri and Illinois roughly along the Route 66 corridor on Friday.

Developments are coming fast, so here’s the important stuff so far:

  • A tornado touched down in Fort Leonard Wood near Waynesville, Mo., injuring at least three and prompting a temporary closure of the military base.
  • A state of emergency has been declared in Missouri by the governor.
  • Three people in Missouri are reported dead in the storms.
  • Sunset Hills, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, saw extensive damage and flattened homes along the Lindbergh Boulevard corridor (aka Route 66).
  • One woman and 25 homes were damaged north of Rolla, Mo.
  • The News-Leader in Springfield, Mo., has video of what looks like a tornado near Rolla.
  • A tornado reportedly touched down in Petersburg, Ill., north of Springfield.

UPDATE 1/1/2011: Here are some next-day updates:

  • The Pulaski County Daily reports that 159 homes were damaged or destroyed by tornadoes in the Fort Leonard Wood area. Four were hurt.
  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch posted a gallery of images from the storms.

    Hello from Japan December 31, 2010

    Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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    This is a version of Bobby Troup’s famous song by The Roosters, a Japanese rockabilly band that recorded in the late 1970s to the late 1980s. According to the YouTube listing, this is a previously unreleased song from a studio session.

    Stamps of Pixar characters coming in August December 30, 2010

    Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies.
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    Five U.S. postal stamps featuring characters from Pixar Animation Studio will be coming this summer, including Lightning McQueen and Mater from the Route 66 movie “Cars” and the upcoming “Cars 2.”

    According to a U.S. Postal Service release:

    The Send a Hello stamps, which go on sale Aug. 19, are a natural outgrowth of the Art of Disney stamp series issued between 2004 and 2008. Originally intended as a series of three annual issuances depicting friendship, celebration, and romance, the Art of Disney stamps proved so popular that the Postal Service expanded the series to include issuances in 2007 and 2008 to celebrate imagination and magic. [...]

    This pane of 20 stamps includes five different designs featuring Pixar characters: Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars (2006); Remy the rat and Linguini from Ratatouille (2007); Buzz Lightyear and two of the green, three-eyed aliens from Toy Story (1995); Carl Fredricksen and Dug from Up (2009); and the robot WALL*E from WALL*E (2008).

    Although the original “Cars” was a moderate hit by Pixar’s lofty standards, it continues to be a blockbuster money-maker with toys and other memorabilia from the film. The amount of stuff in the marketplace is just staggering.

    Crossroads at the crossroads December 30, 2010

    Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, Restaurants.
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    Sandy Clark, a Dine on Our Dime columnist for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, reviewed a restaurant off old Route 66 that’s flown under our radar.

    It’s the Crossroads Restaurant, on the crossroads of Missouri Highway 96 (old Route 66) and Missouri 39, behind an old gas station. It’s listed in some directories as being in Miller, Mo., but it’s practically in the hamlet of Albatross, Mo.

    Clark reports the restaurant owned by David and Barbara Manning opened at that location in March 2010, closed for a few weeks after a recent kitchen fire, and has reopened.

    It’s open for dinner only on Friday and Saturday, and features ribeye steak, chicken fried steak and one particular specialty, fried green beans. And plenty of desserts.

    This excerpt in the story got me wanting to go there bad:

    I ask about the pie. Why is it so much better than the cake? I discover Simpson’s mother made it. Yup, motherly love, that will do it.

    As you come into Crossroads, there is a bulletin board. I tell people that’s a good sign for any roadside diner. If you can’t sell a load of wood or a tractor there, then there is probably a reason. Either it isn’t part of the community or it’s not good enough to keep regular diners.

    Simpson has that figured out. They aim to build something that will serve the community and reach a wider audience.

    “The old Route 66 sold me on wanting this place,” Simpson says. “I want to theme the restaurant around that eventually. Right now, we’ve got people that eat here three times a day. All the law enforcement eat here. This has come a long way since we got it.”

    The bulletin board indeed is a good sign. And William Least Heat-Moon noted in his classic road book, “Blue Highways,” that the quality of a restaurant also can be measured by the number of calendars on the walls.

    So who wrote “Take It Easy”? December 30, 2010

    Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Music.
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    The omidog! blog, a site for dog lovers, answers two questions related to the Eagles‘ hit song “Take It Easy” — who had the greater contribution to writing the song, and who does the statue on Standin’ on a Corner Park in Winslow, Ariz., depict?

    The answer to the latter question isn’t terribly thrilling. The statue is just a “generic 1970s man,” not co-songwriter Jackson Browne, as many people believe.

    As for who had the greatest contribution to the song, it’s Browne over Eagles front man Glenn Frey. Frey wrote only a line or two, but they were a doozy:

    While the song brought Browne, the Eagles and Winslow some much-wanted notoriety, the corner referred to in the song was actually in Flagstaff. But Winslow sounded better. (That leads me to question whether seven women were actually on Browne’s mind, or if maybe it was just three, and seven sounded better.)

    Browne was still working on the song when Frey, his friend and neighbor, heard it. Browne had written the opening part of the second verse, then ran into writer’s block.

    Here’s how Frey explained the collaboration in the liner notes to the 2003 album, The Very Best of the Eagles:

    “I told him that I really liked it. ‘What was that, man? What a cool tune that is.’ He started playing it for me and said, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know — I’m stuck.’ So he played the second unfinished verse and I said, ‘It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.’ That was my contribution to ‘Take It Easy,’ really, just finishing the second verse. Jackson was so thrilled. He said, ‘Okay! We cowrote this.’ But it’s certainly more of him.”

    The real corner that the song was about was next to the “Dog Haus,” a hot dog drive-thru on Route 66 and Switzer Canyon in Flagstaff.

    Here’s Browne a few years ago on German television, performing that song:

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