Friday, July 28, 2006

Not nearly cheeky enough

I knew it might be a busy week, writing-wise, so I tried to hire a blog double to post some Fried Rice Thoughts this week.

Where I probably made a mistake was in hiring a butt double. But I thought it might be a good idea, after I read this article at Slate. Surely, he'd be able to post a funny story or two about the life of showing his booty on screen, or maybe some bitterness about other, more famous actors getting credit for his ass.

The problem is, the dude can't write.

And he doesn't even like sitting at my computer because he doesn't get to show off, as he calls it, "the moneymaker." He also complained my desk chair was "too itchy," but if he'd been using some underwear, that might not have been a problem. However, I had something of an issue with his bare bottom touching my seat. I don't care how much care he takes care of his booty. I was spraying some Febreze, if you know what I'm sayin'.

This just isn't working out at all. He's parading around the house without any pants on, which isn't the biggest deal, except when he happens to be standing near me, as I'm sitting down and eating. (Hot dogs may not have been the best culinary choice this week, either.) And when I get up in the middle of the night to pee, there he is, flexing and clenching in front of the mirror. Yes, I do mind.

Plus, he's giving me tips on how I can improve the looks of my own butt, which I suppose I appreciate, but it's not helping my self-esteem. Plus, I don't have time to do those exercises right now. I'm supposed to be writing, remember? It's why I hired him in the first place.

I hoped to salvage my money's worth by getting him to cut my lawn. But the neighbors weren't real keen on a pantsless man strolling back and forth in my front yard. I tried to entice them by getting him to cut their grass too, but that didn't work, either. Plus, he says he doesn't do yard work. His gig is showing off his butt, whether it's by standing up or laid face-down on a couch or bed.

I tried to get him to leave by smacking him with a frying pan right on "the moneymaker," but rather than get mad at me, he asked if I could smack him on the side, instead of right across the surface, so I don't flatten his assets.

What a disaster. I just chucked money out of the window. I'm not even going to help if he asks me to write something for him. I'm too irritated now.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The babies keep coming!

Congratulations to my friend Lisa - otherwise known as "Mrs. K" in the comments section here - who gave birth to her first child last week. Welcome to this world, Esther Summer!

I'd post pictures of the happy new parents and their fresh spawn, but I'm told People magazine has exclusive rights to the first publicly released images of Lil' K.

I've been very bad about visiting Mrs. K, and I appreciate her patience with me. But with the arrival of Esther, I will be trying my best to see the new mama and bring some baby Air Jordans for the child.

And maybe I'll get to do my sweat-and-squirm when the K's ask me if I would like to hold the newborn. Somehow, I always hold babies like a football or a loaf of bread, trying desperately to keep the kid's head supported. I suppose the only way to get better is to hold more babies.

Lisa, I'm very excited and happy for you. You're going to be a great mother (as opposed to the bad mutha you were before.) Many adult beverages will be raised in tribute to you and baby Esther this week.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The geeking out apparently never ends

If I'm burned out on Superman posts, I know you guys have to be tired of reading them. (Though I'm currently reading the Superman Returns screenplay, and grinding my teeth over the cool scenes that were cut out. Help me, DVD - you're my only hope.)

But something else will soon likely take Superman's place on my geek mantle, subjecting you to posts of gleeful anticipation (and perhaps inevitable fanboy disappointment). Maybe it'll be the Transformers movie. Or Spider-Man 3. But I think the leader in the clubhouse would be the sequel to Batman Begins.

And with Comic-Con going on this weekend in San Diego (yet again, without me in attendance), lots of announcements about comic book movies are being released. For example, how about this guy...

... as this guy? Apparently, it's official. From Brokeback Mountain to Batman Whatever-It'll-Be-Called. Ennis Del Mar really is a "force of nature," eh?

Now if they could only get Jake Gyllenhaal to play the Riddler...

Paul Bettany (yay!) and Robin Williams (yeesh!) were frequently rumored as The Joker. I don't think Heath Ledger had ever been mentioned in those rumblings - which is why I think this is pretty cool. I don't know what the other movie/comic book fanboys will think, but I like this casting choice. You could've asked me to name 10 guys to play The Clown Prince of Crime, and I doubt Ledger would've come to mind.

And considering that Frank Miller portrayed The Joker as possibly being in love with Batman (or maybe their arch-rivalry as some kind of sick romance) in "The Dark Knight Returns," maybe some of that "Brokeback" subtext can carry over to Gotham City.

Just picture it: Under a brutal downpour, a demented Joker looks up at the Gotham City sky, lit up by the Bat Signal, and screams "I wish I knew how to quit you!" Or maybe that line would work better with these two arch-enemies up close, grappling in a struggle to the death.

Ooooh, Robin (if he existed in these new Batman flicks) would be so jealous...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Four-sentence movie reviews!

You, Me, & Dupree: It's amazing what you'll do when the temperature's in the mid-90s, the humidity is 100%, and your house doesn't have air conditioning. I watched Owen Wilson closely in this movie (which was way too long for a comedy of this sort), and it wasn't just his character that looked tired; it was his performance. I could see it in his eyes: Even he knew he was mailing it in for a paycheck. I should've spent my time more constructively, and looked closely at Kate Hudson, who's flat-out adorable.

Thank You For Smoking: If you like your comedy black - black as a smoker's lungs - you will love this. Aaron Eckhart's Nick Naylor is one of the all-time classic smooth-talking slimeballs (it's fun what an actor can do with a part he's fully engaged with), and he knows it. Does he experience the moral awakening that characters like this typically undergo? Well, maybe - but it's not what you'd expect, because the story's too concerned with skewering political correctness, public relations, "thinking about the children," and legislative bullshit.

An Inconvenient Truth: Wouldn't this be a great double feature with Thank You For Smoking? I like Al Gore, and voted for him, but I made sure to buy popcorn and candy for this, because I thought I was in store for the type of lecture and presentation I usually try to avoid. Yet the information (and Gore's story, which is interlaced throughout) was compelling (and sobering) enough to keep me riveted. Man, I thought about this movie a lot, wondering what I can do to help the environment, while keeping my car running in idle (for the air conditioning!) and tossing my candy and popcorn containers out of the window (because I hate junk in my car).

A Scanner Darkly: I'm not sure there's a more interesting American filmmaker working right now than Richard Linklater. His next film is a dramatization of Fast Food Nation, and before that, he remade The Bad News Bears (along with one of my favorite movies, Before Sunset). This time he's doing science fiction, albeit his way, with lots and lots of dialogue between people, and those characters trying to make sense of the world around them, along with facing the consequences of shirking responsibility and living for one's self. And with the help of a great cast (including an amazing Robert Downey, Jr.) and some hypnotically beautiful rotoscope animation (it just looks soooooo cool) that adds to the whole mind-trip feel of the story, he pulls it off wonderfully.

The Devil Wears Prada: I thought this would be another one I could attribute to seeking some air-conditioned shelter on a hot summer day. I'm not sure if it was due to Meryl Streep's fearsome performance, Stanley Tucci as a mentor we could all only hope to have at a job from hell, Emily Blunt's tartfully snotty supervisor/co-worker, or just that I like staring at Anne Hathaway (who, as much as she tries, just cannot pull off frumpy), but I had a great time with this. It was like watching another world I'll never visit, and I was grateful for the peek. There are a couple of lines in the script that imply Hathaway is supposed to be "fat," and since she's so clearly not, it would've been interesting to explore that ugly side of the fashion industry and its influence on the culture, but best not to get sidetracked sending a message, I suppose.

Superman Returns: Just kidding... sort of. Yet after seeing it twice, and mulling it over for the past two weeks, there's just something about this film that gives me an itch I can't scratch because it should've worked. Why wasn't this the instant classic I hoped for and (unfairly?) expected to love? I suppose it's not a good thing when you look back at a film and wonder how each of its flaws could've been fixed, but it's the type of scenario the writer in me loves to explore.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bowing to the Mistress Electricity

It was a dark and stormy night. Lots of boom-boom and whoosh-whoosh in the air. The streets were wind tunnels. While walking back to my car after a movie, a couple was almost blown back into me by a particularly strong gust, prompting the female half of the tandem to wonder if a tornado was on the way. Despite my cheeks occasionally rippling from the onslaught, I thought the gales provided a much needed respite from the oppressive humidity.

The drive home was strewn with downed tree branches and toppled trash cans. Traffic lights were out, leaving motorists to trust each other's judgment at intersections (which I #@$%ing hate, because I know that moron's gonna plow into me the moment I move forward).

None of the houses along the streets in my neighborhood had their porch lights on. The street lamps were out. I knew what was waiting for me at home. But after major clean-out projects during the spring and summer, I had no idea where the flashlights were. And that had to make someone, somewhere laugh. Because the whole point of getting rid of all that junk and clutter was to make everything easier to find.

Sure enough, Casa de Casselberry was without power. The night was spent in darkness. But since I was tired anyway, that wasn't bad. Once I fell over the edge of the couch I couldn't see, i figured I'd just stay there and sleep. With not even a fan to keep me cool. It would be a dark and sticky night.

So here's the deal: My power was out for 19 hours. Not the worst ordeal in the world, despite the helplessness that comes with realizing just how dependent you are on electricity and all the necessities and luxuries it feeds.

But I haven't opened my refrigerator since the power went out. I just did some grocery shopping the day before, and don't want to lose all the grub I bought. How long can food stay good in a refrigerator during a power outage, if it hasn't been opened? Eight hours? 12? 24?

What's that? "Ian, it's just food. Go out and buy some more. It's not worth potential dysentery and messy, violent discharges from both ends of your body."

I hear you there. But I can't really buy some more. Not this week. My self-imposed alloted weekly food budget is in that refrigerator. If I have to toss all that stuff out, I'll be subsisting on dry cereal, raw almonds, and canned tuna for the next week to two weeks.

So is it possible that the food is okay, kept in an airtight container that hasn't been opened for almost 36 hours now (16 of those with proper refrigeration)? There's not much raw meat or dairy in there. I already cooked the ground turkey. Is that still safe? The mayo is some eggless, vegan stuff. Soy milk is, like, soy. Eggs? Turkey bacon? Cheese? Butter? Possible losses. I could live with that, though breakfast wouldn't be so fun.

What has experience taught you? Any help and suggestions would be much appreciated. 'Cuz I'm, like, getting hungry and stuff. And this dry cereal ain't cuttin' it anymore. Papa needs to feed. On turkey burgers, preferably.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Readin' in the boys' room

During my after-dinner pee a couple of nights ago, I read something that I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around.

To me, one of the fringe benefits of using a dirty bathroom is that there's often all kinds of jokes and messages scrawled on the walls surrounding the various toilet fixtures. Once in a rare while, some of the stuff's pretty funny. But most of the time, the material's just not very good. I've called some of those phone numbers. They didn't really pan out for me.

Well, I don't know where to categorize what I read at a Royal Oak ethnic restaurant on Wednesday. Maybe you guys can help me out. Here's what I read above the urinal:

I love Darth Vader's wife in your ass.

I stood there long after my business was finished, trying to decipher exactly what that could've meant. Now I'm guessing it was something of a "jam," where someone added their own little flourish to what he perceived as an unfinished work. Since the ink was faded and the handwriting styles weren't all that different, however, it was hard to tell.

So it probably started out as "I love Darth Vader." Harmless enough, though one might wonder why a person would need to proclaim such love in a restaurant restroom. But he is the Dark Lord of the Sith, which probably inspires many followers and devotees.

From there, maybe someone else added "wife." Did he mean Queen Amidala? If so, I'm on board with that. Natalie Portman's a cutie. (And I wasn't always comfortable saying so, back in the days of The Professional and Beautiful Girls. But now she's, you know, woman.)

But the "in your ass" part - that's what throws me. Was this intended as a dismissal of the previously stated admiration? Like "blow it out your ass"? Or was it more of an agreement and affirmation?

Did this person want the previous writer to actually insert Queen Amidala in his rectum? (Maybe he just meant for the Queen to comfortably nestle between the young man's rear cheeks. But I'm always trying to see the good in people.) And if so, did he want to perform the actual inserting? Shouldn't somebody ask Natalie Portman what she thinks of all this?

If it was "in the ass," this might be clearer to me. Perhaps intended as an expression of desire to sodomize the Queen of the planet Naboo. Or maybe a proclivity toward placing, for instance, an action figure representation of Amidala, up the rear entryway. Kids and their toys.

See, here's where the phone numbers come in handy. If the author (or authors) of this brain twister left a number for me to call, we could have a good time debating the meanings and merits of this particular scenario. As it stands, however, I'm left to wonder. And that resulted in a rather unsatisfying feeling as I returned to my table.

"I love Darth Vader's wife in your ass." Am I right? It's a puzzler! Take the weekend to ponder it, and if you get a chance, get back to me next week. I need your help, my friends. I'm just terribly vexed by this.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hey kids! Do you like swearing?

I couldn't help myself. But I love me some Deadwood, and even more so, I love the post-mortem conversations that Mis Hooz and I bury ourselves in each week. We roll up our sleeves and get in, elbow-deep, talking about the stories, savoring a favorite line or six, express our admiration for a character (particularly the baddest of the bad, Mr. Al Swearengen), and by the time we're done, HBO's usually ready to serve up the next episode.

So this season - slated to be Deadwood's last, excepting a reported two-hour movie or two - I thought it might be fun if my favorite TV-watching pal and I put our conversations into blog form. The season lasts only 12 weeks or so, so it wouldn't drive us crazy.

We originally talked about doing something at's "Watercooler," which has reader blogs, but 1) they're not set up for group blogs, and 2) they don't allow swearing. And I don't know how the hell you can write about Deadwood without swear words. The language is just too important a component of the show.

I'm not sure how interesting it'd be for other people, since it's pretty much just me and Mis Hooz blabbing at each other, much as we would over the phone. And we're not always good about posting responses to each episode very quickly, sometimes not getting to it until hours before the next show. So if you stop by on Monday, looking for some immediate Deadwood chatter, you might be disappointed. The plan all along was to do it mostly for us.

But I think it's been working out nicely. So if anyone else wanted to come along and check it out, that'd be just fine. I try to post semi-regular updates from articles I find in the internet thoroughfare, just to keep things moving.

Be warned, if you're of a delicate constitution: There's plenty of swearing. (For someone who tries to reign that in around here, it's been damn liberating.) And I can get quite long-winded (which shouldn't surprise anyone who reads this blog regularly). Hoozie, thankfully for her and you, keeps her thoughts rather succinct, in comparison. I, myself, cannot exercise the same level of restraint.

The blog is Requiems For a Gleet. Welcome to #@$%ing Deadwood!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Letting my winged wheel show

It's been a rough week for Detroit Red Wings fans. Just before the July 4th holiday, Steve Yzerman - The Captain - a Detroit sports icon, retired after a 23-year career. And over the weekend, an important part of the Stanley Cup championship teams, Brendan Shanahan, opted to play next season with the New York Rangers.

I haven't said my piece on Yzerman yet, because I'm still trying to absorb all of the tributes that have already been written about him. But of all the athletes I've watched in Detroit over my lifetime, he's been one of the most special. So when I can finally articulate some coherent thoughts, I'll chime in.

But I do have something to say today on Shanahan, who took part in some of my favorite memories as a Detroit sports fan. You can check it out, over at my sports blog, Sweaty Men Endeavors.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Say hello to Skronk Box (and goodbye to Spin)

An old buddy of mine has finally decided to take the plunge into the blogosphere, so I thought I'd give him a welcome and shout-out. (I'd love to take some credit for nudging/nagging him into doing a blog, but I'm sure I had very, very little to do with it.)

Joe Lunday and I (along with Matt S., whom you often see in the comments) used to write about comic books in another lifetime. Not only does that seem like a long time ago, but it actually has been many years since then. But our conversations about music always made it clear that he should focus his writing talents there, because he has such a passion and sharp critical eye for it. And he was inspired by one of the best critics out there, Robert Christgau.

So I'm glad to see Joe's making music the focus of his new blog, Skronk Box. For his first post, he laments the demise of the formerly cool, culturally relevant Spin magazine.

I thumbed through Spin for the first time in months over the weekend, and I can only imagine long-time readers would set fire to the thing - if they could even be troubled to look at it. As Joe points out, it's almost shocking how brazenly they've copied other magazines such as Blender. I thought its page design has a distinctly US Weekly feel to it, also.

It's troubling to see a magazine that had some edge and grit to it, that often gave attention to music, art, and literature outside of the mainstream, and featured some talented writers, scrubbed so clean and given such a vapid personality.

I don't have nearly the appetite for music that I used to, so I definitely don't read much about it anymore. What little contact I had probably disappeared when I finally let what was becoming a lifetime subscription to Rolling Stone run out. And their music coverage has slipped severely over the years, too. So I can't say with much confidence or certainty which music mags are "good" these days.

Off the top of my head, I'd say Paste is the best of the bunch right now. It's a beautiful looking magazine, with good writing, and the CD included with each issue always has new stuff worth listening to. Mojo, Uncut, and The Big Takeover also come to mind. And Creem is back, which should be worth keeping an eye on. If anybody has other suggestions (Pop Candy had quite a few last month), I'd love to hear 'em.

But I've digressed a bit. Check Skronk Box out, if you get a chance. And Joe, it's nice to read your stuff online again.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Hey, Lois Lane had to wait five years, okay?

If I'd tried to write something right after seeing Superman Returns for the first time, my review would've looked something like this: "M-m-meh... f-f-flying... good! Routh... g-good! M-m-music... good! Story... well... kinda... weird." And then I would've passed out while holding my Superman blankie. So I needed a second viewing to cut through that "geek fog," as Mis Hooz calls it.

After almost 20 years since the last Superman flick (and at least 10 years of waiting for this current project), I couldn't wait to see somebody in blue tights and a red cape fly across the screen. To be honest, as soon as the first few notes of the theme song kicked in, they had me. And using similar opening credits to the original Superman: The Movie was a nice nod to nostalgia. But more on that later.

The special effects were spectacular. After watching Neo fly his way through the Matrix sequels, I thought there was no way a new Superman movie could top that. But this does. I don't see how it could've looked more realistic. He floats. He turns. He follows the air currents. And when he accelerates, it's not just the backgrounds moving faster. Superman really looks like he's turning on the jets. It's amazing to watch.

Something else I liked about the flying was how effortless it looked. Superman ascends and descends quietly. And gracefully. It's actually kind of beautiful.

And to me, that was one of the pleasant surprises about this film. It's really quite... elegant. Not what you'd expect from a Superman movie? Me either. That's not to say it doesn't deliver the action, either. Because it does in a big way. But there's a beauty in watching Superman soar through the sky, above all of the hustle and bustle, away from all of the world's chaos. You can see what exactly rocks Lois Lane's world when they go for a night-time flight, and not in the cheesy "Can you read my mind?" way Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder did it 30 years ago.

Yet for all the special effects, Bryan Singer really tries to humanize Superman, too. And does almost too good of a job with it. I said yesterday that the tragic, lonely side of Superman is what made him appealing to me. And that is all over this movie. He's awkward, and not just as Clark Kent. The man disappeared for five years, and is now trying to find his place in the world again. The new guy, Brandon Routh, captures that perfectly. There are a couple of scenes where Superman just floats above it all, looking down, and listening. And there were a couple of points where I thought it was the saddest thing I'd ever seen. He seems so alone. And only when she's floating up there with Superman does Lois seem to understand his greater responsibility to the rest of the world. Not the stuff that makes you jump up and down outside the theater, I suppose, but I loved it.

(And when I say Singer did "almost too good of a job with it," I mean that if you look at some of this stuff from a humorous angle, Superman seems kind of, well, creepy. Like Peeping Tom, Eavesdropping, Stalker Superman. But c'mon, he has the best of intentions, right? He's Superman. Who can see you through walls. And hear you from miles away.)

Lois? Will you come with me and continue reading the rest of this geekily epic blog post?

There's also a tremendous amount of iconography in the film. And I don't just mean all of the Christ imagery and allegory that other people have mentioned (though it's certainly there). One shot invokes the myth of Atlas. Another recalls Icarus. My favorite is an homage to the cover of Action Comics #1. You get Singer's point. Superman is the stuff of mythology.

Yet I thought Singer missed on one particular iconic pose. It's the first time Clark Kent rips open his shirt to reveal the "S" underneath. You know how it looks when he's about to change into Superman. Close your eyes; you can picture it. Yet what's in the film doesn't look like that. It's too quick, almost a throwaway shot. Singer (or his cinematographer) blew it rather badly, which is surprising, given how much attention he gives to such images throughout the rest of the film. If there was one shot you thought he'd have nailed lovingly, it would've been that one.

And that kind of sums up how I felt about this movie. For every two or three things that I loved, something else kind of bothered me.

I appreciated how reverential Singer was toward Richard Donner's original film. As I said, the opening credits are virtually the same. The set design is similar in a couple of scenes. Marlon Brando makes a posthumous appearance. Routh's performance seems to channel Christopher Reeve's at various times. And the story takes many of its cues from the first movie. But to me, this is both the blessing and curse of Superman Returns.

Yes, any Superman fan holds Donner's film in high regard. A new version would surely be compared to it. Singer's version skews heavily to those memories, and I'm impressed that he shows that much respect to the fans. He's obviously one of them. In many regards, this could be seen as both a sequel and a remake, if that makes any sense. But after I watched it for the first time, I wondered if Singer takes something of a shortcut by cashing in on that nostalgia. Maybe he was a bit too reverential.

I felt more strongly about this after another viewing of Superman: The Movie. In several places, the new story follows the old one. Superman finds his role in the world again, has something of a courtship with Lois Lane, and then has to thwart some madly diabolical scheme of Lex Luthor's. (That scheme, by the way, gets more ludicrous the more I think about it.) And there are a few lines which are taken virtually verbatim from the original script. A tribute? Probably. Amusing? Definitely. But some of the gloss was taken off Singer's film after I watched Donner's version again. And I can't imagine that was his intent.

I'm not saying this should've been Batman Begins, because that can be seen each week on the WB CW, and most everyone is familiar with Superman's origin nowadays. Singer obviously didn't feel a new interpretation of the character was necessary, because Richard Donner got it right the first time. I don't disagree, but it would've been interesting to see a different take on the character, too, with someone sticking their arms in, deconstructing the whole thing, and figuring it out for a new audience. Yet maybe Superman's too much of a cultural icon for that kind of treatment.

If I ever doubted that, those questions were answered when I left the theater. Just outside was a little kid with his mother, jumping up and down in the hallway, trying to propel himself into the air. But he couldn't stay up there. I know exactly how he felt.

I haven't been able to get my mind off Superman Returns since watching it. I can't quite say that Adult Ian loved it, because something just didn't click for him. So many aspects of its story seem like set-up for future sequels. But Young Ian thought it was a really damn cool movie.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What I love about Superman

Throughout the month of June, leading up to the premiere of Superman Returns, the fansite held an essay contest for a limited edition WETA Collectibles statue of Superman and Lois Lane flying above the Daily Planet.

The topic? What you love about Superman. 500 words or less.

Actually, I think it was 500 characters or less, which is probably why I didn't enter. That, and my ego just wouldn't stand for my essay to be lost in the shuffle of 2,000 other entrants. Not when I have this here blog. Plus, where the hell would I put this statue? On my dining room table? My bedside table? On top of the TV? Ain't no way there's room for that thing on my mess of a desk.

So in an effort to keep the K-Dog and others still waiting for my thoughts on Superman Returns (has it been more than a week already?), I'll post the essay I probably would've written.

His famous chest insignia has been on my keychain for at least 10 years (if not more). If I had to make a Top 5 Desert Island DVDs list, Superman: The Movie would be on it. John Williams' theme song still causes a tingle inside my chest. Yet Superman isn't my favorite super-hero. And with the exception of only a few stories, I have no use for most of his comic book adventures.

So what is it about this guy that turns me into a little kid whenever I see a Superman action figure, book, poster, or DVD?

Is it that famous symbol, which didn't even look like a "S" to me until I was a teenager? (I always focused on the negative space, which looked like a weird jumble of alien shapes to me.) Is it the eye-catching combination of red, yellow, and blue, colors which will probably always signify Superman to me? Do I secretly have a thing for spit curls, square jaws, and capes? (I'm not even going to address wearing underwear on the outside.)

I'm sure I can answer "yes" to all of those questions. But what also deeply appeals to me about Superman is what he stands for. He represents the best in us. No, we can't fly, deflect bullets, or lift up cars. And, of course, we're not fictional, fantastical characters. But if we could, would we choose to help people, as he does? Or would we peer through womens' clothing, smash cars, rob banks, and crush the skulls of anyone who pissed us off in our daily lives? Not that I would. Those are just - ahem - examples. But Superman holds himself to the values we all might like to think we follow.

As a kid, Superman was kind of boring to me. A goody-goody, with virtually no flaws. And as a writer, I'm sure I'd hate dealing with Superman stories because what kinds of conflicts and challenges can you create for a guy who can lift Manhattan into outer space? Give me someone with some tragedy to him, like Batman or Spider-Man, guys whose parents (or parental figures) were killed, who spend the rest of their lives fighting their guilt and anger, and making sure no one has to suffer that same sort of loss.

But over the past few years, I've realized some tragic aspects in Superman, as well. I'm not sure if it's from modern interpretations (such as Smallville) or not, but he's become much more compelling to me. He's the last of his kind, trying to find his place in his adopted homeland. What makes him special also sets him far apart from those he wants to get close to.

And no matter how much he tries to get the woman he loves to appreciate him for who he really is, his human side, it's the fantastic part of him, the super side that appeals to her most. Superman wants to be normal and spend time with someone who's not expecting him to save the world. But Lois Lane doesn't have time for Clark Kent. She's too infatuated with Superman. How sad is that? (The comic books have moved far beyond this aspect of the character, which is probably why they don't do much for me these days.)

He is so much more than us, yet he wants to be one of us. Yet if he tried to live as one of us all the time, he wouldn't be happy, either. Because he'd know he could be doing so much more with what he's been given. That's what I love about Superman.

And that is close to 600 words. Oops. Review of Superman Returns tomorrow. Really. (In the meantime, here's what Tom Peyer - who's written a few comic books in his day - liked about the movie.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Road trip to Metropolis?

I should've taken this trip two years ago, back when I could hop in the car on a whim and go virtually anywhere within driving distance (money permitting, of course). The trip probably would've been more fun this summer, however.

Metropolis: The only reason I could think of to drive to southern Illinois.

Maybe I'll still pack up the car one weekend. According to Mapquest, Metropolis is about the same distance from Ann Arbor as Iowa City (give or take an hour).

Any place with a Superman statue right in the middle of town, a newspaper named The Planet, a Superman museum, and a Superman superstore has to be worth an eight-hour drive.

And this year, the city's annual Superman celebration (17 years running) was on my birthday. How perfect would that have been? Man, if only I'd been paying attention. Oh well - maybe next year. And by then, maybe I could fit into some blue tights without completely embarrassing myself.

Believe it or not, Metropolis took its name before Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster named Superman's base of operations in the comic book. (Actually, it was named before Superman's creators were even born.) And it's the only Metropolis in the United States.

What do you think, K-Dog? Would it be worth leaving the wife and kids for a weekend to check out Metropolis, IL? Bring 'em all back some souvenirs. They'll understand.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Superman Week - Extended!

After the K-Dog sat me down for a tearful rebuke and stern lecture for failing to do my part in contributing to Superman Week, I'd like to apply for an extension and give the Man of Steel the week he deserves.

It won't be quite the same, since Superman Returns is now in theaters. But with us celebrating a holiday (and most of us likely out of the office for at least half the week), I think it's still appropriate to celebrate one of the world's most recognizable pop culture icons for one more week.

And frankly, I like writing about Superman. As I've said before, I've written papers on the guy and the iconography he embodies. (And I'll never stop being amused at my comic book geekiness helping me through college.) I doubt I'll post those papers, since they're heavily footnoted, academic-style. But I definitely want to post an essay I almost submitted to a contest. And, of course, my review for Superman Returns, which I've already seen twice.

In the meantime, check out reviews from those bloggers who wrote about Superman, instead of writing about not writing about Superman: the aforementioned Kevin Antcliff and The Film Geek.

(And since we're talking about reviews, thoughts and prayers out to Roger Ebert, who's hospitalized following emergency surgery last night.)