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A gay old time in Gay Parita September 25, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, People.
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KY3-TV in Springfield, Mo., did a feature about Gary Turner and his re-creation of the Gay Parita gas station on Route 66 in nearby Paris Springs.

Those who’ve visited Turner and his station will find many of the details familiar. But a couple of interesting details stand out:

In the past year and a half, Turner says more than 6,000 people have made a pit stop here at his old Sinclair station.

And this:

Turner sends everyone in his guestbook a Christmas card.

That’s classy. No wonder Turner’s place has become popular in a relatively short time, despite its off-the-beaten-path location.

“Cars 2″ moves up release date September 24, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies.
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IGN.com reported today from the Walt Disney Studios Showcase that “Cars 2,” the sequel to the Disney/Pixar hit movie “Cars,” will likely be released earlier than originally thought:

Among these in-development projects is Cars 2, which Pixar will now rush to complete in time for a 2011 (rather than a previously announced 2012) release date. […]

Cars 2 is being directed by Brad Lewis, producer of Ratatouille.

Of course, it should be noted that the release of “Cars” was delayed by about six months — from Christmas season 2005 to summer 2006.

Regardless, the folks at Disney/Pixar are going to bust a hump to have “Cars 2″ in theaters by 2012. That’s because the massive Cars Land amusement park at Disneyland Resort is projected to be finished that year, if not sooner.

Slashfilm.com also has a few more details at the showcase from “Cars” director John Lasseter:

He also revealed that the idea for a sequel came to him as he was traveling the world doing publicity for the original movie. He wondered what the characters of Cars would think about all these different locales, with the weird traffic situations and strange foreign automobiles. The sequel will follow Mater the tow truck who gets his passport and takes a worldwide trip with Lightning McQueen.

A series of short interstitial Cars-based cartoons titled Car-toons will begin to air on the Disney Channel. One or two might even be shown theatrical before Disney released films. The shorts are structured as Mater’s Tall Tales, and each new short will feature a new outrageous story. The first short in the series was shown. Mater explained to Lightning how he use to be a fire truck, and even saved McQueen from a burning building. The next two shorts will feature the tall tales of how Mater use to be a daredevil (ala Evil Knievel) and a bull fighter.

Variety reported that one of the reasons “Cars” is being moved up and taking a higher profile with shorts in theaters, online and on television is because the film’s merchandising has been so profitable. Anyone who’s been in any store’s toy department in the past two years would have to agree.

But while watching one of the shorts, the MTV Movies Blog became uncertain whether “Cars” star Owen Wilson will be back:

Although the unmistakable voice of Larry the Cable Guy was back as Mater, I’m virtually positive that an Owen Wilson-impersonator had stepped in to voice Lightning McQueen. Could this mean that Disney/Pixar has decided to sever ties with the actor following his recent troubles, or will Owen Wilson return for “Cars 2”?

It’s also uncertain whether Paul Newman, who played Doc Hudson, will return because he is reportedly in poor health.

(“Cars 2″ logo courtesy of Disney)

Book review: “The Complete Route 66 Lost & Found” September 24, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books.
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For those who don’t have either of Russell Olsen’s excellent books, “Route 66 Lost & Found” and “Route 66 Lost & Found, Vol. 2,” Voyageur Press has published a new volume, “The Complete Route 66 Lost & Found” (hardbound, 320 pages, $25), that combines the two.

For those who are unfamiliar, Olsen’s books are a collection of before-and-after photos of longtime Route 66 businesses — one during its heyday and one in the current age. Olsen tries to shoot the modern-day photos from the same angle as the old image. This often produces startling and even sad contrasts that show the ravages of time and development.

Sure, a few longtime Route 66 businesses are little-changed, such as the Coleman Theatre in Miami, Okla., and the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Ill.

A few businesses were transformed out of necessity — the Dixie Truckers Home in McLean, Ill., because of a fire, and the Cozy Dog Drive-In in Springfield, Ill., due to a short-distance relocation. And a handful are gone completely, such as the Mojave Desert town of Bagdad, Calif., and the Rio Puerco Trading Post in New Mexico.

Although the side-by-side comparisons of the old and new photos are endlessly fascinating — along with Olsen’s well-researched text — the publication of “The Complete Route 66 Lost and Found” feels rushed and a bit ill-advised.

One significant change is that the new book has been shrunk. Olsen’s previous two volumes, published by MBI, were in a 10-by-10-inch format. Voyageur, a division of MBI, published “The Complete Route 66 Lost & Found” in an 8-by-8 format. So some of the photos’ details will be lost in the smaller page size.

Olsen’s original volumes organized the listings east-to-west, like a Chicago-to-L.A. road trip. For “The Complete Route 66 Lost & Found,” the logical thing to do would have been to simply intermesh all the entries from both books into one cohesive east-to-west volume. Instead, “The Complete Route 66 Lost & Found” essentially is two books with a new binding.

Also somewhat disappointing is that no effort was made to update any of the businesses listed. In the past few years, the Pig Hip Restaurant burned down, the Tri-County Truck Stop closed, and Lucille’s was lovingly restored. Such omissions seem strange for a meticulous researcher such as Olsen.

It turns out that Olsen had little input in the repackaging of his books. In an e-mail to me, he said:

… I wish it was not done. I did not have much to say about it. I like the two separate volumes better but I guess from a marketing/business point of view it was a good idea. What I do not like is the reduction in size from 10×10 to 8×8.

So while the new volume is still a good book, there was a missed opportunity to make it better.

But here’s good news. Olsen isn’t done with his “Route 66 Lost and Found” series. He wrote:

Volume 3 will be out in early 2009 matching the size if the complete Route 66 Lost and Found. This will be published by Paul Taylor and Route 66 Magazine.

So that’s something to look forward to.

Hackberry will get new fire station September 24, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Towns.
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The Kingman (Ariz.) Daily Miner reports that the small Route 66 town of Hackberry, Ariz., will be getting a new fire station, with the help of a longtime Route 66 business:

The new station and engine will also benefit travelers along the Route 66 corridor and will respond to fire and other incidents in Valentine, Truxton and Valle Vista with other NACFD No. 1 resources.

“Providing this fire station fills a void for our district by completing our coverage of the Route 66 corridor and allows our district to achieve our goal of providing emergency services in rural areas that have traditionally had no type of fire or emergency services,” said Jimmie Bodenhammer, NACFD No.1 Board Chair.

John and Kerry Pritchard of the Hackberry General Store donated land for the new station.

History of the Yellowhorse empire September 24, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, History, People.
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New American Media has an exceptional story about the history of the Yellowhorse Indian trading posts along the Arizona-New Mexico border on Route 66. It’s a story of bootlegging, bamboozlement and good old-fashioned gimmickry to make a buck. And those stores are still going strong.

Start your day with a good breakfast September 24, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Uncategorized.
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ChicagoBusiness.com tells you how — with this video about Lou Mitchell’s on Route 66 in Chicago.

(Hat tip: David Clark)

More from the Lost Dogs September 23, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Restaurants, Road trips.
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The Lost Dogs are still in the midst of their music tour on Route 66. Here’s a song, “If You Want To,” during the band’s gig in Tulsa a few days ago.

And here they are, fashioning a jingle for the Cozy Dog Drive-In in Springfield, Ill.:

UPDATE: Fixed link on second video.

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