Posted by & filed under Denton, Hollywood, Local History.

Seventy-four years ago in March 1942 a local theater magnate, a Shetland pony farmer, and Hollywood studio executives turned a 1-minute short film into a county-wide contest built on patriotism, nostalgia, and a love for little ponies. In a series of 3 blog posts, we will learn about this bizarre and amazing event. Today we discuss the origins of the film. Stay tuned in the coming days for more!

 

“Texas is ranch country, and we felt that no other pony farm was in as fine a setting as Mr. Williams.”

An Unusual Occupation: The Williams Shetland Pony Farm

Will Williams was the son of native Dentonite Alex Williams, the first sheriff of Denton after the Civil War. A prominent citizen and businessman, Williams first became involved in the Shetland Pony business in 1905 when he bought his children several of the small animals, ordered directly from the Shetland Islands.  As his children outgrew the ponies and the animals became valuable as an import, Williams acquired his first stallion and became one of the country’s most active breeders.  Williams sold ponies to people all over the world and many reportedly ended up in the circus, movies, and other entertainment venues.In 1942, the Will Williams pony farm caught they eye of Jerry Fairbanks Studios in Hollywood. From 1937 through 1949, Fairbanks Studios produced a series of theatrical short subjects, “Unusual Occupations,” for Paramount Pictures. Stories in this series featured eccentric, remarkable, and “unusual” people throughout the country who had chosen for themselves exotic jobs and strange hobbies. Potential subjects were nominated for inclusion by local Chambers of Commerce, theater managers, newspapers, magazines, and by the unusual people themselves. Once a story had been selected it was then marked with a pin and slip of paper on a large map of the United States on the research department wall. Action was taken when the clusters of pins “become thick enough to warrant sending one of the mobile photographic units to that particular area to photograph the stories.” It’s unclear who submitted Williams for consideration, but when producer Fairbanks learned of the farm he dispatched cameramen to Denton to shoot the farm. The film shows Williams caring for Shetland ponies on his 640-acre farm in Denton, Texas. His 5-year-old granddaughter, Kay Williams, rides and feeds one of these “little ponies for little people.”  Williams is also seen performing a favorite trick which involved teaching his herd of ponies to stop everything and come running whenever he rang the bell and said “Hey!” Of the film and its production, the Denton Record Chronicle later reported that an “expensive color camera made a movie set out of this pastoral farm” and that “Williams and his granddaughter, Kay Williams, became actors for the day. The ponies were slicked up and gradually grew accustomed to the strange equipment. Denton was in the movies!” The stills below are taken from the film which is available for check-out on DVD at the University of North Texas Media Library (DVD 16659R)
unusualocc-kay ranchcountry
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“It Started With a Bang!” Patriotism and Ponies for Little People

On January 29, 1942, the Denton Record Chronicle announced that J.P. Harrison (Interstate Theaters) had secured from Paramount the world premiere of the short subject featuring the Williams Pony Farm for March 5, 1942. The Chronicle reported that the film which “presents in color and natural surroundings the beautiful little ponies on the Williams farm which has become known over the world” was awarded a special preview screening in Denton “through prompt action on the part of J.P. Harrison, manager of Interstate Theatres.” A dizzying whirlwind of publicity immediately followed as new methods of promoting both the film and sponsoring local businesses were developed. Throughout the month of February there were near daily articles, advertisements, and classified advertisements related to the event. Less than two months had passed since the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Denton County residents’ patriotism was reflected in their “Most Popular and Patriotic Boy and Girl” contest. Winners of the contest would be announced at the Texas Theater and would be awarded a Shetland pony. Denton County residents were encouraged by the Chronicle to “Vote today!” and earn voting coupons by shopping at local businesses including the City Drug Store and Tobin Drug Store, the Williams Store, and on Theatre Row. Local boys and girls including Bobby McMakin ,Mack Kenneth Foster,  Quincy Merl Hughes, and Patsy Manson posted classified advertisements soliciting votes. Webber Jan Farris even involved her father. Her advertisement in the Chronicle on February 9th reads, “My dad said he would help me in the ‘Patriotic and Popular Boy and Girl’ Contest in which I am trying to win the pony, and if you have any votes I could have if you will telephone he will come for them, and I would certainly appreciate your help.” As the contest neared its end on February 26th, the 10 highest-ranking boys and girls (of the 339 registered contestants) were named on-stage at the Texas Theatre. The Record Chronicle reported on March 2nd that the contest’s official vote tabulator, Boyd Vaughn, had stayed up late to count the votes and the four highest ranking contestants (of 300 remaining) would be selected and presented on-stage at the Texas on March 3rd .   DRC_1942_02_02-01 By February 6th, a sub-contest had emerged to name the Shetland ponies which would be awarded to the most patriotic boy and girl. The advertisement, which called for names for “Two Beautiful Registered Shetland Ponies” promised two $5 defense saving stamps for the two best names with names of a “patriotic nature preferred.” Eligible names would be reviewed by the Texas Theatre’s unnamed “Pony Contest Manager.”

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Tomorrow we’ll learn about Denton County’s even more ambitious plans for the “Unusual Occupations” premiere.

  If you have any additional information about this film or the pony express event, please contact Laura Treat at laura.treat@unt.edu or by phone at 940.369.5293. If you or a family member were part of the extravaganza and have home movies, photographs, or other memorabilia, please consider bringing them down to UNT for a free community digitization event on Saturday April 30, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 5 p..m. More details about this event are available with Laura Treat or on the project’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/SpotlightNTX  

Posted by & filed under Board Games.

Our second in a series of videos on board game design. Darrell Louder of Panda Game Manufacturing, designer of Compounded, discusses with us what goes into graphic design for board games, and the common methods and pit-falls within the industry.   Join us Thursday nights from 6pm-8pm in the Media Library (Chilton Hall Rm. 111) for Pixels & Pieces, the UNT Libraries board game design guild and turn your gaming ideas into a reality.

Posted by & filed under Movie Recommendations, Television Recommendations.

Do midterms have you feeling bummed? Are you at the point in the semester where you see no light at the end of the tunnel? Here at the Media Library we have that flicker of hope that may just keep you going. If you’re looking for some happy-go-lucky films that’ll help you through some mid-semester blues, you are on the right blog! Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – DVD 443 Ferris Bueller is a high school cool guy who develops an elaborate plan to skip school with his two friends. Endlessly uplifting for anyone who opposes The Man and just wants to have fun. The Breakfast Club – DVD 2620 Five vastly different high school kids meet in detention and realize they have a lot more in common than originally thought. Battle Royale – DVD 1556 Set in the future, a group of 9th grade kids from a Japanese high school get taken to an island by the government and are forced to fight and kill each other. A great film to watch when you’re getting tired of school because at least you’re not forced to fight to the death! Legally Blonde – DVD 3621 When sorority sister Elle Woods is dumped by her boyfriend, she sets out on a mission to become a student at Harvard Law. Truly a tale of inspiration. Freaks and Geeks – DVD 2829 v.1-6 A high school mathlete starts hanging out with a group of burnouts while her younger brother navigates his freshman year. – By Chloe Flores, Student Assistant, UNT Media Library

Posted by & filed under Hollywood, Movie Recommendations.

Last weekend Deadpool, the newest movie in the Marvel series, came out in theaters. General consensus of the film is pretty positive (84% @ Rotten Tomatoes), though some are disturbed by the extreme sexual and very much so “Rated R” content.     This new Marvel movie is definitely not a family movie, no matter how many families you may see in the theaters. And that’s not the only major difference in this movie compared to previous marvel productions, there’s also a noticeable shift in how they’re portraying characters, particularly for female lead actresses.   2F9C209000000578-3374326-image-m-4_1451088194470Brianna-Hildebrand-Deadpool-InterviewDeadpool-Photo-Vanessa-Copycat-and-Wade-Wilson   This can also be seen in recent series Agent Carter, where there are various lead female characters versus most Marvel content with male leads.   Marvels-Agent-Carter-TV-Seriesangie_playlist_cover-8573MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER - ABC's "Marvel's Agent Carter" stars Bridget Regan as Dottie Underwood. (ABC/Bob D'Amico)dottiejpg-56e88f_1280wmiriam_fryMARVEL'S AGENT CARTER - ABC's "Marvel's Agent Carter" stars Wynn Everett as Whitney Frost. (ABC/Bob D'Amico)   If you’re feeling up for a Marvel Marathon, we’ve got your list all figured out, from Spiderman to Agent Carter, and perhaps you’ll notice some shift in how Marvel Studios (Twentieth Century Fox has some influence too) has developed over the past few years.  
Spiderman DVD 1451 Avengers DVD 13717
Spiderman 2 DVD 3947 Avengers, Age of Ultron DVD 16577
Spiderman 3 DVD 8032 The Incredible Hulk DVD 15697
X-Men DVD 635 Captain America, The Winter’s Soldier DVD 15947
X-Men, First Class DVD 13273 The Amazing Spiderman DVD 16095
X-Men, The Last Stand DVD 14669 Guardians of the Galaxy DVD 15773
Fantastic 4 DVD 8952 Ant-Man DVD 16719
Iron Man DVD 13925 Agent Carter, Season 1 DVD 16721 v.1-2
Iron Man 2 DVD 12142  X-Men Origins, Wolverine DVD 10561
X2: X-men United DVD 3328 Daredevil DVD 3901
   

Posted by & filed under Board Games.

Smallworld_Blog Ratmen, Trolls, Elves, and Sorcerers: What do they all have in common? They want to rule the world! Only, the world is small after all (please no singing…). When one race expands, another must fall. Small World, by Days of Wonder, takes place in a realm where every intelligent species vies for power in a limited space. Each player drafts a different fantasy race with a varying power, then begins conquering territory. Eventually the board will be full, and each race will be stretching its resources beyond its ability. At this point, the player can send his race into decline in favor of choosing a new race and beginning their attempt at global domination anew. Through the game, each player gains points for each territory that their current race and declined race possess. These points, kept secret until the end of the game, determine who wins after a given set of rounds. Small World is a highly strategic game that is also fairly easy to pick up, yet each game varies vastly and requires new and evolving tactics to keep in the lead. During our recent play through, a slow start eventually overcame the early leader through slow attrition and smart plays. A highly expansive game, Small World currently has numerous expansions and combines with Small World Underground for a larger and more varied game. We would like to thank Days of Wonder for this great donation, as well as their donation of Ticket to Ride. If you would like to give Small World a try, or another of Days of Wonder’s games, they are available for check out here, at the UNT Media Library.

Posted by & filed under Television Recommendations.

Valentine’s Day seems like one of those days you either completely ignore or embrace only with that special other, but I mean, why? Remember back in elementary days when everyone gave everyone a special treat? Valentine’s day can be more than a day about romantic relationships. What about simply appreciating those we care about (chocolate, please)? Let’s face it, that’s probably the core meaning of most gift-giving holidays.

 

 

In celebration, here’s a compilation of some of the TV series at the media library who have their own obligatory Valentine’s episodes:

(just add chocolate)

 

The Office DVD 6426 v.3, “Valentine’s day”

Distraught Pam + February 13th hook up + Happy dance Michael

 

Modern Family DVD 12038 v.3, “My Funky Valentine”

Boyfriend painting + Naked under the trench coat + Awkward speaker conversation in the car

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Supernatural DVD 16536 v.4, “My Bloody Valentine”

Angel eating a burger + Cupid hugs + This smile

 

The Simpsons DVD 3368 v.3, “I Love Lisa”

Ralph says more than 3 words + Ralph shows emotion towards another person + Creepy train

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Arrested Development DVD 4111 v.2, “Marta Complex”

Michael give a love speech + Marta may be in love + Lindsay wants a divorce

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So we agree that V-day is just a commercialized way of making people feel pressure to buy red and pink things right? Agreed. But that’s what Sitcoms are for, right?

maybe.

 

 

Posted by & filed under Board Games.

Our first in a series of videos on board game design. Sean McCoy of Tuesday Knight Games, co-designer of Two Rooms and a Boom, discusses with us what it takes to design games, from concept to production. Join us Thursday nights from 6pm-8pm in the Media Library (Chilton Hall Rm. 111) for Pixels & Pieces, the UNT Libraries board game design guild and turn your tabletop ideas into a reality.

Posted by & filed under Local History, Movie Recommendations.

Alright guys, this upcoming Sunday will be one for the records. Superbowl’s 50th anniversary. Panthers vs. Broncos. Are you ready?

This list of football themed movies at the media library may help you out:

Necessary Roughness (1991) p08_feedback_necessary_roughness1   Filmed right here in Denton, TX! (see our blog about it here). Any Given Sunday (2000) Let me just list some of the awesome people in this film: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Jim Brown, and Lawrence Taylor. Do I have you hooked yet? If not, Al Pacino’s speech just might: We Are Marshall (2007) wearemarshall A heartfelt story about the tragic aftermath of a plane crash killing 37 football players and 38 others people from their crew. Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox star in this film addressing the healing and rebuilding of the football program. Undefeated (2011) A documentary about the struggles of a high school football team. This film was well received by football and film fans alike, winning the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Concussion (2014) Starring Will Smith who portrays  Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who discovers a pattern of dementia and brain deterioration in NFL football players. This film may terrify you about the reality of NFL football hierarchy, and reiterates the passion of football that many Americans have.

So…  Abundance of greasy food? check.

Beer and Soda for your health’s delight? Check.

Awesome Football movies for pre-game prep? Check!

You’re all set for Superbowl Sunday!

 

Posted by & filed under Board Games.

Every year, the UNT Libraries are graced with numerous patrons and donors that drive our work in supporting the student community in more ways than we can count. Bi-weekly, here on Contribution Corner, we will acknowledge one patron by exploring one of their donated games or movies. This week, our game of choice is:  

Vault Wars, Floodgate Games

VaultWars Let us start from the beginning. Fantasy worlds are overloaded with adventurers seeking to advance themselves within society. This leads them to do three things. They kill monsters, they loot hordes, and inevitably they die. This leaves an abundance of chests and vaults behind filled with loot, and no one to pay the storage cost. Vault Wars picks up here. In this new title by Floodgate Games, the players take on the roles of up-and-coming adventures attempting to get a jumpstart on adventuring by making money and collecting equipment through buying these vaults, and selling the goods within. The mechanics of the game succeed in mimicking the feel of Storage Wars, a TV show from A&E. Each player takes a turn opening and leading an auction for a vault as each other player bids on it. The winner pays the auction master, or the auction master pays the bank. Then the vault contents are used to equip the character, store for victory points, or sell to fund buying more vaults. If a player begins to run out of gold, they can visit the loan shark, but doing so will reduce their victory point total at the end. Once all of the vaults have been sold, players tally up victory points to determine the winner. This Game is a great addition to the UNT collection and definitely one you should check out. Its creative use of an auction mechanic to explore a different side of RPG adventuring makes Vault Wars an interesting and fun experience all around. During our play through, each player used a different tactic based on availability of items and our hidden character cards, yet each tactic held its own viability for victory. This ultimately left each player, both hardcore gamers and casual gamers alike, feeling that victory was within their grasp until the end. The theme was immersive and led to deep interactions between players, each trying to read and outplay each other to gain the vaults for the most profit. We would like to thank Floodgate Games for this donation, and their support of the UNT Libraries as a whole. If you would like to give Vault Wars a try, it is available for check out here, at the UNT Media Library. Keep an eye out for more Floodgate games to come in the future.

Posted by & filed under Denton, Movie Recommendations.

February, Black History Month, is just around the corner, and this weekend Denton will be having it’s 2nd annual Denton Black Film Festival! In celebration, here is an insight to some awesome films at the media library created by black filmmakers. Shaft (1971) Shaft_GBQ   One of the classic blaxploitation films of the 70s, Shaft is about one kick-butt dude who will take on anybody and anything. Directed by Gordan Parks, the first major Hollywood black director. Just Another Girl on the I.R.T (1993) tumblr_inline_njudwj22VP1qzsyre Directing-debut by Leslie Harris, this film is about a black & rebellious teenage girl from Brooklyn who struggles with her desire to escape from poverty with dreams of a better life. When she finds out she’s pregnant, she must also quickly gain maturity and step up to become someone who doesn’t want to be just another teenage black girl on the subway.The film won Leslie Harris a special jury prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Do the Right Thing (1989) Directed by Spike Lee, one of the most popular black filmmakers of our time, Do the Right Thing explores racism including within minorities, and discusses expectations people may face within each intertwined culture, all within the context of a hot summer day in Brooklyn. Submarine (2010) A movie that may stand out from the rest, Submarine is centered around a young boy aimed at getting the girl of his world. With quirky dialog, unique set design (notice the color scheme), and all around youthfulness, this film is sure to make you feel some feels inside. Another Director-debut film, Richard Ayoade was nominated for British Academy Film Awards for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for Submarine. Pariah (2012) kinopoisk.ru Directed by Dee Rees, Alike is a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents Audrey and Arthur and younger sister Sharonda in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. She has a flair for poetry, and is a good student at her local high school. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity–sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward. Selma (2014) Capture Selma takes us back to the 1960s, where the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was de jure but not de facto, and discrimination continues to destroy black’s opportunity to vote. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (played by David Oyelowo) and his followers march from Selma to Montgomery, in the efforts of equality. This is an emotional and provoking film by director Ava DuVernay which reveals that from that even at the peak of progress, it is just as easy to slide down backwards as it is to move forward.       Denton Black Film Festival tickets and information can be found at DentonBFF.com! 12507300_1020457544678251_2534932302714979413_n    

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