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Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
Glen Weldon (Author)
A celebration of Superman's life and history - in time for his 75th birthday. How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action-packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today.
Hardcover: 352 pages
I sit here typing this from our hotel room in Metropolis, Illinois on Neal Bailey's laptop computer. Neal is still fast asleep.
We arrived last night, having met earlier in the afternoon at the airport in Memphis, before catching the same flight to Paducah, Kentucky, where we were picked up by Kevin Hambrick (brother to Super Museum's Jim Hambrick) and his wife Connie.
Neal, my sister Carol and I also met up with Josh Boltinghouse, the new official town Superman for Metropolis, who was also on the same flight. You'll see a video interview I conducted with Josh later in the week. In fact I'll be conducting quite a few video interviews and video blog messages during the celebration, so look for those to be posted on the site when I get back home next week.
Neal and I will be posting daily reports on the Superman Celebration here in Metropolis over the next four days. So keep an eye out for them amongst the news updates.
The celebration starts tomorrow. Today I plan to show Neal and Carol around the Super Museum, take photos in front of the 15 foot Superman statue, tour the Americana Hollywood museum, and see which other Superman fans have arrived early for the 4 day festival.
It's gonna be a blast!
I have to admit, it's not what I expected.
When I came here, I thought that I would be hanging out with Steve, pretty much, seeing a few bits of Superman paraphernalia, and perhaps buying something from the auction. I was wrong. Dead wrong. This is much, much more, and I can see why people are hesitant to attend the celebration at first, but after they've gone once, they want to come back every year.
Since I've arrived here I've been party to numerous, wonderful occurrences. Seeing my evil half-brother Michael Bailey appear out of nowhere, meeting the leaders of rival sites and shaking playful fists at them before sitting down to chat, pumping the fist of my buddy Scotty V, who not only knows me from the page but works with me on audio dramas. I got to sit on the plane with Josh Boultinghouse, the new Metropolis Superman, press the flesh with Noel Neill and Larry Thomas Ward. I've seen suits from the movies and visited an amazing museum of Americana (as Steve jokingly pointed out, my favorite part was the anatomically impossible Pamela Anderson room. My brain still puzzles...)
I am utterly amazed that such a small town can suddenly explode with such activity, and as Michael put it while I was talking to him, I believe it was, it's amazing to actually see a city where you're not treated as the odd man out for liking the Man of Steel. Generally speaking, Superman can be a bit of a whipping boy, as can most people who stick to their guns and try to do what's right on a constant basis, and here, everyone realizes how cool it is to be a good person, like Superman, and they tend to interact as such. There's no contention here. The worst I've seen is some backhanded debating of the merits of one actress over another, and that's a beautiful experience after many conventions where the first thing out of anyone's mouth is: "So, didn't X suck?"
This morning at breakfast I sat with Scotty, Steve, Carol, Neil, Larry, Michael, and even Scotty's wife and child, and we just had a solid blast. It's been amazing so far. Larry showed us Noel's scrapbook, and asked us to actually sign the thing. I was blown away, and I don't know if the guys saw it, but being able to write something to Noel, the fact that she'd care what we might have to say, brought tears to my eyes and made me emotional... I hope what I wrote was good enough for her. She's apparently a bit under the weather, so we're watching that and hopeful that she feels better soon. She is, after all, the first and best Lois, and a woman after our own hearts.
I got up earlier than noon, to give you an idea. I was actually struggling up from tartarus when Steve was writing yesterday's update... do not be fooled! I'm a bit like a lawnmower. At least eighteen different attempts before I wake up, but then I am not only cutting and mowing, I am also mulching. YEEE HAW! Onward to victory, ribbon cutting, malarkey, chicanery, and reporting!
Billy "Chips" Weatherton
(AKA Neal Bailey)
Sorry I didn't post this last night, but we didn't get back to the hotel until after 11pm.
The first day of the four day Superman Celebration really didn't kick off until 5pm with the official opening ribbon cutting ceremony, but for Neal, Carol and I the day started a lot earlier.
As Neal's morning report explained, we took in breakfast at the Baymont Inn (formerly the Amerihost Inn) and then we headed off for the day up to the center of town, where we met even more Superman Homepage members. So far we've been lucky enough to catch up with, and hang out with, Stephany (aka Kryptonian), Rob (RedHobbes), Jennifer (LoisLane73), Eric (known as EO), and a few others that I'm forgetting (forgive me I just woke up). Of course we've been hanging out with Scotty (Scotty V) and his wife and little daughter, and Michael Bailey and his wife.
Inside the Metro Chamber building we caught up with Noel Neill. You'll see a video interview I conducted with her soon. Between Neal and I we've actually been doing quite a few little video interviews for the site. We've caught videos with the above-mentioned Superman Homepage members, as well as other celebrities and local personalities. I spoke with Jamie Kelley, runner up in the "Search for Superman" contest, a fan of the site, and an all-round nice guy.
We've taken quite a few photos, but unfortunately the internet access here is quite slow and inconsistent, making it almost impossible to upload any photos or videos. When I get back home next week I promise I'll put it all together and you'll get to see it all. At this rate we seriously look like having a 12+ part video diary of our time here. There's some funny stuff in there too... with Neal that's par for the course.
Thursday's ribbon cutting opening ceremony was quite well done. Stephany (mentioned above) organized a fun skit around the whole intro, playing the role of Lois Lane, while Bizarro and "The Red Mullet" attempting to take over the role as the new official town hero. Josh Boultinghouse, who of course is the REAL new official town Superman arrived on the scene, looking absolutely terrific in the iconic costume, and saved the day, to officially open the 4 day festival.
There wasn't too much else on the official agenda for Thursday night, but unofficially everyone was headed down to a local restaurant for a big get together. While there we met a couple more Superman Homepage members, amongst them Mike (MikeK).
After we finished eating about 30-40 of us headed to a local ten pin bowling alley to compete for the first annual Super Bowl(ing) tournament. Neal Bailey, my sister Carol, Michael Bailey, Rob (RedHobbes) and I bowled on one team together. Sadly we didn't win the night, but as much as the other guys would like to blame me, I beat them all. I'm blaming the "Bailey Boys". ;) A big thanks to Rob, who's been kind enough to drive us around. Top guy!
We're all having a great time, with more good times ahead I'm sure. We've got the Fan Baseball match this morning. Larry Thomas Ward (Noel Neill's friend and author) was kind enough to have asked Neal and I to join the Metropolis Marvels team which he belongs to. We're up against the Smallville Meteors. Look out for the match report and the rest of the day's events in an update later tonight.
Friday morning started out hot, very hot. The fan baseball game went for 2 hours, with our team, the Metropolis Marvels, easily defeating the Smallville Meteors by something like 27-13. A high scoring game. I'd never really played Baseball before (it's not a big sport in Australia), but thankfully I took to it pretty well. Neal was easily one of the stars of the team.
After the game we headed back to the town center, where the Superman Jeopardy game was about to begin in the main tent. Michael Bailey and I were unsuccessful at getting selected to be one of the four contestants, but nevertheless we both managed to win Metropolis coffee mugs by answering audience questions.
During the Jeopardy game a weather warning announcement was made... a big thunderstorm was headed to Metropolis. About an hour later it hit. Quite a few people disappeared, but the Superman Homepage battled on. We attended the Q&A at Artist Alley where the legendary Murphy Anderson was one of four panel members. I have video of the session, which will make the website next week, but it was quite interesting to listen to one of the true legends of Superman comic books talk about his career.
With the rain bucketing down, Neal and I made our way down to the Press Conference being held at the Harrah's Hotel. The panel was supposed to include all three major celebrity guests, but Allison Mack had been delayed. The new town Superman, Josh Boultinghouse took Allison's place, joining Noel Neill and Ned Beatty on the panel. We also have video of this session, with Neal and I both asking numerous questions to both Ms. Neill and Mr. Beatty. Ned Beatty was wonderful. He entertained the press in attendance with some interesting stories and memories of his acting career. He had some special words to say about Christopher Reeve.
The conclusion to the Press Conference gave Neal and I just enough time to head back to our hotel room to get ready for the Hollywood Ball... yes, Neal wore a button-up collared shirt!
The Hollywood Ball was a 1940s affair held in tribute to Noel Neill's 60th anniversary playing Lois Lane. A tribute video was supposed to have screened, but due to technical difficulties it was never shown. However Larry Ward (Noel's friend and author) has promised to get me a copy of the video. A great night was had by all. Some guests really got into the spirit of the event, wearing 1940's style clothing. I think Neal danced with half the women in the room.
It's bright and early Saturday morning as I submit this. The weather outside is overcast, but it doesn't look like rain, which is good, because Saturday is the biggest day of the 4 day celebration. I'm looking forward to the 4.30pm Superman Homepage meet and greet behind the Superman statue later today.
There's plenty happening today, with autograph signings and Q&A panels, capped off later tonight with the annual Auction Dinner, so look for another report tomorrow morning.
Saturday at the Superman Celebration is celebrity day, with four autograph sessions scheduled throughout the day, allowing fans the opportunity to get photos and signatures with Noel Neill, Allison Mack and Ned Beatty.
Neal and I managed to grab Ned Beatty for a 2 minute chat on video. The man is a joy to talk to, with stories and anecdotes aplenty. Unfortunately, while we tried valiantly, we were unable to get any time with Allison Mack for an interview, but we did get her to pose for a photo or two. Having arrived late, due to flight delays, Allison looked quite exhausted, but battled on and did not let her fans down, smiling and signing autographs all day.
The celebrities only paused long enough between autograph sessions to attend the Q&A at the main tent, where hundreds and hundreds of people waited to hear them answer various questions (you'll get to see the video here before too long).
Jamie Kelley (runner up in the Search for Superman contest), dressed as Clark Kent, was joined by his Lois Lane for a German TV piece set inside the Metropolis Planet newspaper offices, where our own Neal Bailey played an off-screen Perry White. We're hoping to get a video of that too...
We caught quick video interviews with authors Michael Eury ("The Krypton Companion") and Marc Tyler Nobleman ("The Boys of Steel") inside the Artist Alley building, with Marc also presenting his up-coming book via an on-screen presentation. It looks like a must-buy for all Superman fans.
The 4.30pm Meet and Greet with Superman Homepage members and fans was a great success. We had over 20 people attend the get together, with another half dozen guys unable to get there as they were still waiting in line at the Autograph Sessions. We took a large group photo in front of the Superman statue, which I'll also be posting on the site along with everything else we've filmed and photographed here. (Boy have I got a lot of work to do when I get back home!!)
The Auction Dinner started at 6pm, with well over 200 items up for auction. Before the auction started however there were awards to be given out. The big award of the night is the George Award, given to someone for their efforts and dedication to Superman and the celebration, and I'm honored to say that this year's recipient was me. I still can't believe it. I'm just blown away. The golden George Reeves statue will definitely be something I'll display with pride.
The auction itself featured some magnificent items, chief amongst them being an authentic Superman cape worn by Christopher Reeve, and signed by many of the movie's cast. The cape sold at auction for US$2,200 by David Olsen, who, already owning three similar capes, sold the cape to the second highest bidder Hugh Troyer who had his heart set on it. The auction, which was attended by Noel Neill and Murphy Anderson, finished after midnight.
Those who didn't attend the Auction Dinner were treated to a Christopher Reeve tribute inside the Artist Alley building, where "Superman: The Movie" was also shown. Reportedly a good time was had by all.
Tomorrow (Sunday) is the fourth and final day of the Celebration, with the two main events being the $1000 Superhero Costume Contest and the Guinness World Record attempt at the "Most People dressed as Superman".
I sit here typing this at 1am, so I've probably forgotten to mention something or someone important... but I will say that we met some more wonderful people today. People from all over America. Guys, girls, young and not-so-young. Broken ankles. Little kids. Superman costumes. Superman tattoos. Old friends. New friends. All great people.
While I can't wait to get home to my wife, I just know I'm gonna miss being here. I wish I could attend every year.
The final day of the 2008 Metropolis Illinois Superman Celebration is not as busy as the second and third, but it was exciting nonetheless.
There were two main events not to be missed on Sunday... The $1000 Costume Contest, and the Guinness World Record attempt at the most people wearing a Superman costume in the one location.
The costume contest was broken up into 5 categories: Best Superman/Clark Kent, Best Supergirl or Lois Lane, Best Villain, Best Superhero (other than Superman), and Best Creature. The Best Creature Costume was won by a 10 foot tall robot costume that had to be seen to be believed. The Best Villain went to an impressive Bizarro. Best Hero went to an entertaining Indiana Jones. Best Supergirl or Lois Lane went to the only Lois Lane in the contest, played by Ronda, fiance of Jamie Kelley, who also just happened to win the Best Superman/Clark Kent costume contest. Not only that, but Jamie Kelley was then also chosen as the over all winner of the $1000 Costume Contest. It couldn't have gone to a nicer guy.
The final event of the 4 day Superman Celebration was the World Record attempt. 100 people were required to set the record, with Guinness people on hand to personally authenticate that each entrant's costume met the required standards set. Amongst those in costume were legendary comic's artist Murphy Anderson and his wife, official town Superman Josh Boultinghouse, and Superman Homepage staff member Scotty V. Scotty was also joined by his wife Michelle and there daughter Chloe, who was celebrating her second birthday. Many Superman Homepage members were amongst the 122 people who successfully set a new Guinness World Record!
While the celebration was officially over, many of us were still keen to continue on. A group of us, approximately 16 people, drove to nearby Paducah to watch "The Incredible Hulk", before heading back to the hotel for a late night swim.
We've already had to say goodbye to a few friends, as people begin to leave Metropolis to head home. Neal, Carol and I fly out Monday afternoon. We're on the same flight from Paducah to Memphis, where we'll have to say goodbye to Neal as he catches his flight home to Tacoma, Washington. Josh Boultinghouse is on the same flight with us, and will continue on the Memphis to Los Angeles leg of the journey with Carol and I. From there Carol and I will catch our LONG 14 hour flight to Sydney, Australia. Home...
Once I get over the jet-lag, I'll dive right in to preparing and uploading the many, many photos and videos we've captured during the 2008 Superman Celebration. I promise you it'll be well worth the wait.
Thanks to everyone here in Metropolis for the hard work and dedication organizing this annual celebration. Thanks to Karla Ogle and her crew. Thanks to Jim Hambrick and his family. Thanks to all the wonderful people we've met, and all the new friends we've made. This has been a trip I will never forget.
This first video was recorded on Friday, June 7th in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, where I and my sister Carol spent some time before continuining on our way to Metropolis. This video documents my first meeting with Superman Homepage staff member Jeffrey Bridges.
This video was recorded on Tuesday, June 10th and documents my first meeting with Metropolis' new official town Superman, Josh Boultinghouse; and Superman Homepage staff member Neal Bailey.
This video was recorded on Wednesday morning, June 11th and sees Steve and Neal going through the Superman Museum.
This video was recorded on Wednesday night, June 11th and sees Steve and Neal meeting two more members of the Superman Homepage for the first time, Michael Bailey and Scotty V.
This video, recorded on Thursday, June 12th, sees Steve and Neal interviewing various Superman Homepage members, and Neal bowling for a date with Allison Mack.
This video, recorded on Thursday, June 12th, captures the ribbon cutting opening ceremony/skit for the Superman Celebration.
This video, recorded on Thursday, June 12th, sees Steve interviewing Noel Neill.
This video, recorded on Friday, June 13th, captures the Fan Baseball game between the Metropolis Marvels and the Smallville Meteors, and also sees Steve interviewing another Superman Homepage member, Gina (aka Krypto80).
This video, recorded on Friday, June 13th, sees the Press Conference at the Harrahs Hotel in Metropolis, Illinois with Ned Beatty, Noel Neill and Josh Boultinghouse.
This video, recorded on Friday night, June 13th, features highlights from the 1940s Hollywood Ball "Tribute to Noel Neill" and Steve's interview with "Boys of Steel" author, Marc Nobleman.
This video, recorded on Saturday morning, June 14th, sees Steve interviewing Ned Beatty (who played Otis in "Superman: The Movie" and "Superman II").
This video, recorded on Saturday, June 14th, features Steve's interview with "Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway" author, Bruce Scivally; and Michael Bailey's interview with "The Krypton Companion" author Michael Eury.
This video, recorded on Saturday, June 14th, features the Celebrity Q&A with Allison Mack, Ned Beatty, and Noel Neill.
This video, recorded on Saturday night, June 14th, features Steve Younis accepting the George Award at the annual Auction Dinner, aswell as Neal Bailey paying tribute to Christopher Reeve at a screening of "Superman: The Movie".
This video, recorded across June 14-15, features Neal Bailey attempting to get a date with Allison Mack.
This video, recorded on Sunday, June 15th, features the $1000 Costume Contest.
This video, recorded on Sunday, June 15th, features the Guinness World Record for "The Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Superman".
This video, recorded on Monday, June 16th, features Steve and Neal's farewell message from Metropolis.
We hope you enjoyed our video coverage of the 2008 Superman Celebration.
JOY AND LOVE IN METROPOLIS
I really think I'm going to be all right, now.
I mean, the shocks and insecurities of a writer are well known to many, and for my entire life I've been plagued with guilt and fear that I'd never be able to make it as a person or a writer.
Metropolis changed that.
I mean, we write into the dark here, folks. There are very vocal comments, there are strong true believers, and there are those who are kind enough to meet us in person, but until I went to Metropolis, I had no idea that what I did had any kind of actual impact beyond my own amusement and maybe the amusement of a few loyal, good friends.
Metropolis, I repeat, changed that.
I could not sit for more than five minutes without someone coming up and thanking me, and Steve beside me, and Michael beside him, for what we've done. And Scotty V, and Carol, and even Sonia (Steve's wife), from afar. It was... flatly insane.
Josh, the town Superman, knew who I was, hung out with us. Jamie Kelley, the runner up, knew who I was, hung out with us. We were never without six people at any one time, walking down the street. There were people who seemed nervous to talk to us. Do you know how insanely cool and insane in general that is?
People bought me food. People took PICTURES with me. I was...
Steve and I spoke of it. I talked to him about how I watched Billie Joe commenting on a Green Day tour once, and he said, in responding to why he toured so much, it's the glory and the love and the attention, etc, and then, in the end, you go back home to be an ordinary shmuck again.
I am at home, and thanks to the love and kindness of the good people of Metropolis, I, for the first time in a long time, don't feel like a shmuck. I feel cared for. I feel missed, and I miss. I don't feel like I'm typing in the dark, and that's a beautiful thing. I wrote ten poems on the plane, I have ideas for at LEAST five new stories, and there is still a cloud following me, but it's to stop the accursed sun.
Does this make any sense?
WHAT I MISSED
Music. My dog. Shade.
That's really about it.
STEVE IS NOT A MUTANT
And other news at eleven.
When I whipped around the corner to the gate where Steve and I were going to catch the same plane (unplanned, just a happy coincidence) to the small town of Paducah just north of the small town of Metropolis, I was not confronted with the thoughts I expected of a final, inescapable reunion. I was confronted with: HOLY CRAP! SUPERMAN!
Josh Boultinghouse had the same plane, and was sitting next to Steve. I figured myself hallucinating at least. Well, actually, that was at best.
But I stagger over to Steve, who actually held out a hand (can you believe this guy?) and I threw a big hug around him, turning around to see Carol (Steve's sister). Amazing. Eight years. Eight long years of online conversations, birth, death, life, love, and finally he's standing in front of me. So we do the obvious... we talk Supes. Not, of course, before I turn to Carol and stand stark still awaiting the flash... turns out it was video. This happened no less than three times to me. I am ridiculous.
The plane to Paducah is up and down in fifty minutes. Cruising altitude: 8,000 feet. Drink service: none. But sitting next to Josh, the new Superman, was insanely cool. We spoke of Superman Returns, and I asked him how much he worked out, what his schedule was. You'll never believe this, but he actually works out more than I do.
THOUGH HE IS A BETTER REPORTER
As I mentioned in my (lone) day one report from the con, Steve was writing his report while I was rising from the pits of Tartarus. Sleep, more particularly dreaming, is a very important thing to me. I am proud to say that I woke up before noon on each and every day of the last week, despite a two hour time difference. I am very proud of this, and every time I said I was proud of this, Steve and Carol rolled their eyes. Something about a full day time difference or something, I don't know, I was nodding off. Take that, Futureboy!
I kid, of course. But I did call Steve Futureboy about fifteen times.
Steve and Carol were very accommodating to my weirdness, and there is a ton of weirdness about me and my daily grind. I don't report, and generally, journalism is not my thing. As I pointed out to Steve, Barry's a much better reporter, and Steve is as well. I watch. I absorb. I think. And then, after I've lived whatever it is I'm supposed to write about, I blurb it all up in some massive outpouring such as this. It makes me a very poor contributor of reliable information. There's a preview for a new Hunter Thompson movie whereby he explains that he started a rumour that Muskee was on Mescaline, and then reported on it as fact. This is more my style. Even Bukowski told reporters who he treated poorly in a story that it was his story, and they could tell their own. And many thanks to Steve for doing that, because he covered my butt so I could live to write this.
Did you hear the rumor that Allison Mack made out with me?
Point of fact, as we speak we are in the process of extracting Barry-iac from our systems. He was such a good reporter that he's assimilated the site, and is, even now, in every correspondence screaming something about restoring Krypton.
Steve dealt with my fear of going and speaking to people who wanted to speak with me, he dealt with my propensity to read to all hours of the morning, and he dealt with my inane questions about Australia. He even called me a "dag" despite my chicanery, which I believe is some form of compliment as to my astuteness in dress.
(I continue kidding; do not assume me ridiculous.)
He was actually more than patient every time, when someone would say something about Australia to him, and I would say, "Hey, don't tick him off. He can kill a man with a boomerang at forty yards."
"Metres, Neal." (Sigh)
"Yeah! Yeah, metres!"
Thanks to Steve and Carol, I will now call shrimp prawns, I am now adding "-o" to names, and when I'm treating someone, it's my shout.
Speaking of Carol... she was SO shy when I turned the camera on her, and she stepped silently back when we were parading about like idiots. She made sure I never caught on fire, encouraged me to continue eating, reminded me to take my pills, and her makeup was never an inch off. She's a gorgeous, wonderful, intelligent, and kind person. I made her gamble on the Harrah's casino with my money. I am a bad man.
PALPATINE ON ICE
If I am ever arrested for kidnapping a baby, it will be Scotty Vinnacombe's. He writes reviews for the site, but I've known him for quite some time, my first letter says 2004 on it, but I know him as a good conscience, a friend, and the voice of Palpatine on my Star Wars serial for Pendant Audio. It took half the week, but he finally, spontaneously erupted into Palpy. He did this AFTER the baseball game, where he sang the national anthem in a way that would make an Irish barman cry. The boy's got pipes. Little does he know, it's now ensured that Palpatine will sing a song in a fever dream in some later episode...
His daughter is a very frank, auspicious, cute gal named Chloe. As you all know, I have a predisposition for liking gals named Chloe, and she was no different. Blue eyes that could literally get anything she wants, this baby is a future mankiller who will probably be able to take me in a fight. Well, given that when she's old enough to fight I'll be old enough for Geritol, that's not a fair statement, but still...
Adults can be boring, kids are insightful, and there wasn't a single time I couldn't turn to her for an astute response to the situation, and quite honestly, the things she said are likely the basis for most of these paragraphs.
"So, Chloe, what do you think?"
"Yeah! Isn't that a cool costume?"
"Yeah! I'm hungry!"
"Me too. Let's eat."
At any rate, I want a child, and I can't have one until I have enough money to do so (and a woman for my demon spawn to spring from), so I cling tenaciously to the wonderful kids around me, of which Chloe was a prime example.
Her mom's no slouch either, (Scotty, you lucky dog!) Perhaps a double kidnapping. Curses! I am planning crime in a widely read article again!
MY EVIL CONJOINED TWIN
Michael Bailey and I interact regularly on the ye old livejournal, so I already knew he was a cool guy, but I had no idea that he had my exact, cynical, sarcastic sense of humor. We shared dirty jokes, oblong references, but he wouldn't follow me to the fried pickles at Willy Jack's. That was too much...
Michael's actually one of the reasons I was so nervous about going out there and talking to people. He's a fine writer, and he's an esteemed colleague, and frankly, he got a bit of a shaft in terms of people coming up to him. Steve and I got approached by a lot of folks, but Michael is a damned fine writer in his own right (Scotty too), and I always felt bad getting the attention just because I make fart jokes loudly.
Beyond the simplicity of our capacity here, he's one of the most insightful guys in terms of film, books, and the like that I encountered, and I enjoyed sitting at breakfast with him jawing about the state of Superman, the way people overreact, what we're hoping for...
I sat next to him for the screening of Superman: The Movie, and, though we told everyone we were evil conjoined twin half-brothers, we're unrelated. When "Can You Read My Mind?" came on, however, we both sighed at the same time, and got up to walk to the back where soda was being dispensed.
"Bout that time again."
So we drank a soda, had another soda, walked around the block, wrote a short novel, and by the time we got back, the scene was half over. Michael says that when that scene happens, he hears car breaks screeching. You know what I hear?
Nothing. But I usually wake up covered in blood screaming "It's not my fault!"
To those who malign Superman Returns, realize... every movie has its flaw. Just take what you like. We can talk of the bad things, and critics do, but don't let that ever undermine an enjoyment. Turn a flaw into a fun irony.
Michael can and did, and that's why I admire him.
Mike Kelley writes an existentialist, crazy, genre-defying hero named Barker. He's released one trade with the character, and here, I got to see another, the first proof. It was incredible, as he'd shown me Xeroxes of the piece in progress.
Mike's a bit of a shy guy, but he's got it where it counts. A rad car, a great writing sense, and somehow he's discovered the fountain of youth. He looks insanely young despite his age, which I won't reveal, because quite frankly, I don't want him troubled by Ra's. Needless to say, he's my age in looks, but has great experience. He was present for rides, insight, and just general good times.
I see him at practically every con I go to, seemingly, and he's always a blast.
BOWLING FOR STUPE
The first place we all got together was the bowling alley, as I recall. Scotty appeared across the street. Michael appeared, I think, on the way back from first visiting the museum. Mike appeared the third day, as I recall. I don't really know. I know I could check Steve's report and find out, but that's not the point. The point is that, from nowhere, a coherent family appeared out of the fog and we began working as a unit, like in the book It. Where you don't know why, but everyone just clicked and worked together. There was no oddball. Well, okay, maybe me, but there was no oddball in the sense that "Oh, let's get rid of him/her, she just ate a baby."
There were ancillary folks who would drift in and out on the constant. Jamie Kelley, Eric Owens, Stephanie, and many people whose names I am too dumb to remember. Jamie's wife, Ronda, AKA Lois. Jim Hambrick would pop up constantly from seemingly nowhere, a gracious and awesome host who lent a very fatherly spirit to the celebration, a leader and a strong argument for a good businessman. He has the air of an outsider who's lived in the city for many years, a man who knows exactly where he is and what he's doing.
Even non-ancillary (ancillary sounds horrible, I just mean people that weren't there every single minute) have yet to be defined. Rob, AKA Red Hobbes, was a constant companion, keeping Carol from killing me, driving us to and from the hotel, and bowling on our team.
Jennifer was a constant companion, one of the Lois Lanes pulling on my arm (along with Jamie's wife) in one of the pics that Steve will shortly be uploading. She hung around for my gambling affair (a horrible example of me using the Martigan to profit and then gambling away a hundred dollars on one roulette toss... as I then remarked, well, it killed Dostoevsky), took me for a walk by the river, and just in general was a close confidant and friend in all respects. She also has the best tan on planet Earth... and a Lois Lane license plate that rocks.
We gathered to bowl that first night, in teams of six. Stephanie organized us... I've forgotten our last name, but she's the gal that everyone in the city got a crush on, myself included, before the week was over. She constantly went back and forth between groups, making sure everyone was comfortable, happy, and having a good time, and having a good time on her own. She also makes a killer Lois... check the interview. Many apologies, Stephanie, if I scared you dancing at the Noel ball.
But at any rate, here is where I learned that Steve is a crushing bowler, a competitor in every true sense. Well, actually, I just say that because he's afraid he's too competitive, to pull his leg. He bowled extraordinarily well, and when Michael got below fifty, Steve killed him.
He got better.
We hurled insults, bowled backwards, I knelt and prayed to Gilgamesh for a shot. We set prizes: Next strike gets a date with Allison Mack, the next Annette. I got none of the above. And bah!
Still, as a random assortment of goons, we Homepagers did great! No, actually, we bowled miserably, and we should hang our heads in disgust. But I mean, seriously, looking down the line... geeks can't bowl. They just... we really, really can't bowl. The owner was crying, and I believe the shoe man committed suicide behind the pulltabs. We should stick to reading comics. Fun was nonetheless had.
ALCOHOL IS A GREAT THING, ISN'T IT?
This is what was said to me by a very angry seeming woman when I walked from Noel Neill's ball. Why? Well, because I danced with every woman in the place except Noel herself, and that's just because she was too high class for me.
Stomping feet, bouncing like a retarded monkey on crack, I grabbed just about every gal in that room and danced with them. Chloe most, though. Chloe would cut in, angry, when I was dancing with other gals. Understandably so... she's quite the catch.
I even got to dance with one of the hot gum gals they gussied up in striper outfits. I tried to get dances for Rob (Red Hobbes), and Mike (MikeK), and everyone I could see. Hope I didn't miss anyone.
For the record, I didn't get any booze in me, mostly because I didn't have any cash. Believe it or not, lady, there are some people so insanely committed to enjoying their life that they will do brave, even bold things in order not to miss an opportunity to have fun. I learned that from Christopher Reeve, and Noel Neill, and since it was her ball, I figured I might as well embrace her spirit of life. If that makes me a drunk in your eyes, caveat stupor, and sic semper baccardus, because that's the way I want to live. And it's the way we should live.
The big band rocked the place with slow versions of what should have been manic tunes, but I didn't care, it allowed for a slow dance.
The real reason for the night, Noel being honored, went extraordinarily well, despite a presentation being lost to technical difficulties. Larry Thomas Ward went up and gave his speech, as did a friend of Noel's. She always seems so shy, as if she's nervous about people honoring and loving her.
All this week, we had a running gag about how I was going to meet Allison Mack and ask her out, damn the consequences. It didn't end up happening, because she came in late and was tired and busy, plus, we didn't want to bug her really, unless it was something she was amenable to. I really, really wanted to meet Allison. But Noel is more of an honor. I was explaining to someone, I forgot who, that to meet Allison would be a novel thing, a great thing, but getting to meet and speak to Noel Neill is like meeting with an ex-president, or the person who invented television. She's walking, living history, an embodiment of a concept that will likely outlive America in its first incarnation.
Noel means the world to me, and everyone in Metropolis. Every time her name was even mentioned, cheers erupted, and rightfully so. Bless her.
JUST LIKE BUKOWSKI
Jamie Kelley and his wife Ronda invited me to play Perry White in a dramatization for German television. A skinny, beautiful, dominant german lady scrambled about, telling people to clear out, lining up shots. I appeared in probably three or four shots, shooing people out of the way in the Metropolis Planet (an actual real life newspaper) before the shot, and opening the door for Lois and Clark.
"Great Caesar's Ghost! Titano's attacking Suicide Slums!"
I miss the film goofing of college. It felt like the good old days.
At any rate, we did take after take, and the editor of the Metropolis Planet, Matt Jones, put up with our malarkey rather well, despite needing to secure the place with Noel Neill doing a signing inside, and despite our attempts to hush everyone in the building for a few small shots.
I don't know where the film will be shown, or how, but working with a german film crew made me think of Shroeder.
"STOP LOOKING AT ME!" she'd spout kindly, adjusting the viewfinder, before sprinting off to find a mayor or interview the green Superman.
Surreal. Bolting, I hotfooted it to meet Allison Mack, while Steve waited inside the Chamber of Commerce.
CHLOE... CHLOE... I LIKE YOUR RAINCOAT... LEAVE JIMMY...
You'll see video, but I never actually got to meet Allison, you know, say words. I did, however, stand about ten feet from her for about an hour, taking pictures of fans. I figured it'd be neat color to get folks who had neat stuff to sign, and hey, if they got a break, maybe we could do a bit.
The lines were hectic, and there were some people who wanted more than they got in terms of access, but I mean, she's a pretty big actress. All in all, I thought it was handled well.
She's very tiny, but more gorgeous in person, if you can believe it. Larry Thomas Ward pulled Steve and I into the green room briefly to speak in a break, and she was escorted in by what might have been a bodyguard or boyfriend, and we went over briefly to see if she could do a brief video. She declined, and her manager/guy said to come back at 5:30, which, after a few times, means "Ah, come on, guy, we're rushing around here" in con speak, so we left her be, but as we walked away, she shook Steve's hand, and gave me a look and a smile that melted me into a puddle of goo. My god, she's just gorgeous. I'll remember that smile for my whole life, and while I'm not one for being bowled over by beauty (love is another thing), I would probably have cut out my own heart and handed it to her for that smile. Kristen and Erica have NOTHING on Allison. Period. She killed me from five feet away.
Every person who came up, she made feel like a million bucks. She was a very, very nice person, and I can see why so many people waited to see her. I would never have gotten near without my press pass.
Speaking of which, I have to thank Metropolis for finally recognizing Steve and I and the Homepage as legitimate press. It's hard to get in most places, and where in most cases we're blown off, here we were allowed unfettered, constant access to everyone except Allison, for obvious reasons. We got to speak to Ned Beatty. We got to lean on the Superman statue to take pictures where other people were shooed back. They even referenced Steve in things he had nothing to do with. Our presence was constant, respected, and it felt like home.
They held a press conference (see the video soon) where Ned Beatty relayed some awesome stories, as did Noel and Josh, and we got in without question. Grand time.
GETTING A LITTLE EMOTIONAL
Aside from the awesomeness of the last night, where we hung out on the back deck, swam (screaming MISS TESSMACHER!) in the hotel pool, aside from the baseball game (2 for 3, two runs), aside from four meals at Hardee's, aside from the Supermuseum and its wonderful displays, the Americana museum, aside from the costume contest and seventeen other glorious memories (my head over a Supergirl standee, doing the Stephen Colbert dance down the street with a possee doing the Jets snaps), aside from so many wonderful people...
Saying goodbye killed me.
After we reached my gate (the first, it had to be), I gave Chloe a hug, Scotty, his wife, Carol, and finally Steve. Twice Steve. Already I was bawling like an idiot. They walked off, and I just sat down, and I cried. I cried for about a half an hour, and would randomly cry for the rest of the night. I mean, I still kind of am.
When I was a kid I used to attend a camp where there was a similar feeling of family. We'd band together as a group and then explode apart, coming together each year as a team. The camp ended in 2001, being on a military base, in the wake of 9/11. This is the first time I've felt that love, care, dedication, and sense of being on the same team, warden. I miss it.
I'm back home now, and I am a schmuck. But I am still a dag.
I will be doing everything I can to do this every year. Contact me if you want to pool resources. Let me know, we'll try and arrange a club of folks to keep this going. Call it the Supermen of America, or Supermen of Metropolis, because good folks like Steve and Carol come along. Well, there goes the "men" part, too. Call it anything you'd like. I just know I want my family of folks back, and will miss them now that they're gone.
It's the only place on earth where a guy can pop a ball back over the backstop, I can say, "That was a hit in Bizarro World" and people will laugh.
Staring back as I floated west over middle America, I ended a pivotal moment in my life. I might actually make it. I felt beloved, and I loved. I had a touch of that thing I'm looking for, and now, now?
I miss my friends.
METROPOLIS HONOR ROLL
Larry Thomas Ward
Michael Bailey and his wife Rachel
Scotty V and his wife Michelle and daughter Chloe (Chloe! Happy birthday!)
Josh Boultinghouse (AKA Superman)
Any one of the hundreds of the best I missed HERE.
Yep... this old bird hopped on a plane and traveled thousands and thousands of miles just to see Superman... and boy was it worth it. It is easily one of the best experiences of my life. Thank you so much Steve for allowing me to tag along and share in this incredible experience with you. Thank you for allowing me to write it all up here to share with everyone else. This is a recap of the Celebration as I saw it. Not necessarily from a female's point of view but more of just me sharing the experience as a fellow Superman fan who was lucky enough to tag along with the Homepage staff to this year's Superman Celebration in Metropolis Illinois... A Celebration I now wish every Superman fan could experience at least once in their life.
So here goes...
Friday June 6th 2008... After a grueling 12-hour flight from Sydney, Australia to L.A., Steve and I were relieved to finally touch firm ground. I've personally never made such a distant journey before, however for Steve this was his fourth trip to the USA and his second to the Superman Celebration... attending his first back in 2003. For me though, this was my first time to the USA and I was like a kid on a school excursion... I just couldn't wait to experience it all... and who better to share it all with than my brother Steve. Yeah I know... what a suck up lol... but it's true.
Now I always thought 'jet lag' was an excuse some lazy person made up that just caught on... but HOLY COW is it real! Our first day was spent getting our bearings again, trying to fathom how we just traveled back in time going north of the equator, how we went from winter to summer, getting used to using American money and trying not to get ourselves killed crossing roads (we not only drive on the left side of the road here in Australia, but our steering is on the right side of the car too). Steve and I spent the following four days taking in Santa Monica, Disneyland and Universal Studios. Many thanks to Jeffrey and Susan Bridges from www.pendantaudio.com (Jeffrey also writes some reviews for the Superman Homepage) who spent one of those days driving us around Hollywood where we were able to do the Hollywood walk of fame and see all the sights. You guys were wonderful and it was a pleasure meeting you both and Clark of course (their son).
Tuesday June 10th... Ok, so here comes the part about Metropolis. Now I know Neal has gone into much detail about his whole experience at the celebration in his report... which I have to say, thank you Neal for all your kind words... but I still think you're a big 'dag' lol. Steve and I met Josh Boultinghouse (the new official Superman of Metropolis) before Neal did when we were back in L.A. while waiting to catch the same flight to Memphis. It was at LAX airport where for me this whole Superman adventure started to become real... this guy WAS Superman! Steve and I were waiting to board when he spotted a guy wearing a Superman T-Shirt and he said to me "I wonder if he's going where we're going"... taking a closer look Steve turned and said "I think that's Josh Boultinghouse". Oh yeah... that was Josh all right! When he stood up... I'm sure mine wasn't the only jaw to hit the ground. This guy is built like you wouldn't believe. I have to say this about Josh... not only is this man very good looking and perfectly built to don the suit, but as Steve and I came to know Josh over the course of the celebration, he is one of the most genuine, down to earth guys you could ever hope to meet. He is now someone Steve and I can both call our friend... even though he kept referring to me as "My favourite Aussie" and giving me little hugs... *sighs... faints*... ok fan girl moment over lol, moving right along...
At Memphis airport we were met with the one and only (and thank God there's only one... ) Mr Neal Bailey. This was the first time Steve and Neal had met in person. After about 8 years of friendship online, working together each day to bring all that is the Superman Homepage, witnessing these best friends meet for the first time was truly memorable. I am only joking around when I knock Neal, he's cool like that. Snores like a camel and entertained Steve and I many times with his sudden outbursts in the middle of the night during his sleep... "Now I'm babbling like an idiot" waving his hands in the air was the best one lol. But seriously Neal... mate, you're one of the most honest and open-minded guys I've ever met. You show people a lot of respect no matter who they are, that's such a great quality about you. To know Neal Bailey is something remarkable... to call him my friend is truly an honor. Thank you Neal. Both Steve and I will miss you very much... you're family now.
So anyway, from Memphis Steve, Neal, Josh and myself flew (pardon the pun there Josh) on to Paducah Kentucky where we all met with our rides to Metropolis. Many thanks to Kevin and Connie Hambrick for our transportation and for making us feel so welcomed (they both work tirelessly at the Superman Store/Museum for Jim). Thank you Jim Hambrick who has almost single handedly put Metropolis on the map because of his dedication and passion of all things Superman. However without the help of the entire town, Karla Ogle and her staff, the celebration just wouldn't be possible, so thank you to them also.
Wednesday June 11th... The day began with the best breakfast ever! I'm not talking about the food but rather the company with which we were so honored to be in the presence of that morning. Lois Lane herself, Miss Noel Neill was dining there when we walked in. It's true what everyone, including Steve, has said over the years, Noel Neill is the sweetest lady you could ever hope to meet. At 87 years young, she's as beautiful as she's ever been. Her smile alone can warm anyone's heart. Steve has known Noel and her author/friend Larry Ward for several years now and when he introduced me to Noel, I really felt like I was in the presence of royalty. She was so friendly and genuine. I gave Noel a tiny toy Koala from Australia that she wore each and every day of the celebration clipped to her "Blong" as she called it (her necklace, a very 'long' chain... hence why she named it Blong and not "Bling" lol... cute lady, very witty). I was thrilled seeing her wear it each day. After breakfast and for the rest of the day Steve, Neal and I ventured around the town of Metropolis as organizers started setting up for the celebration which was to officially start the next day, Thursday June 12th. We decided that it was the perfect time to take in both of Jim Hambrick's museums, the Super Museum and the Americana Hollywood Museum... both just jaw-dropping. You'd easily need a day or two to take in everything in both museums. Some of the rarest and most extraordinary items... Jim's collection is something that has to be seen to be believed. Absolutely amazing!
Thursday June 12th... Day 1 of the Superman Celebration... Official start of the festival took place at 5pm in front of the Superman statue in the main street of town. Now this statue by the way is incredible. Standing 15 feet tall in a classic Superman pose, it towers over and almost feels like it protects the town of Metropolis by it just being there. I'm quite sure there wasn't a person at this celebration that didn't have their photo taken in front of the statue. Before 5pm came around, we managed to meet up with more Homepage staff and members. There was Michael Bailey (Superman Homepage reviewer)... no relation to Neal but boy did these two take great delight in conjuring up elaborate stories to mess with people's heads. Michael you are such a great guy, you constantly had me laughing with your crazy humor. You and your lovely wife Rachel were a lot of fun to hang out with. Scotty V (Superman Homepage reviewer), you had me amazed with how well you could do the Aussie accent, well done mate. You, your wife and your gorgeous daughter Chloe were great to meet. Rob (RedHobbes), it was great to meet you in person and we thank you so much for driving us around everywhere. I hope the sunburn has eased up... lobsterman! Mike (MikeK), you were so quiet but when you got talking, you had some great stories to tell and it was terrific meeting you in person also. There were many other wonderful members from the site who were there, Jennifer (loislane73) and Michelle (Mish-El) - Superman fan chicks RULE! Jamie Kelly (Kal-Elvis) and Ronda... you two ROCK! William (kal-el2374)... omg those tatts! Daniel (Superfan Unlimited), Gary (Batmouse), Zach (zalel) and Dave, Isaac (tinmanfrisbie) and the many others whose names fail me right now, but who were a joy to meet nonetheless.
After the official opening a lot of folks headed down to Willy Jacks, the coolest pub in town where all had dinner. Thanks to the lovely Stephanie, little gatherings like this were made over the following days, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. One of those being the bowling competition after dinner that night in which Steve, Neal, Michael, Rob and myself joined forces to become what was known as team "Perry's Pinheads"... yeah we lost but we had fun watching Michael continuously bowl down the gutter lol.
Friday June 13th... Day 2... The day started with a Baseball game between the Metropolis Marvels and the Smallville Meteors... Steve and Neal both played for the Marvels and did the Homepage proud. The Marvels winning 27 - 17 I believe. Scotty V was the man to start the game singing the national anthem and man what a set of lungs you have on you, well done! After the game it was off to the main tent to watch the Superman Jeopardy followed by our ritual lunch at Hardees with the many friends we'd made. Each day we'd study our guide which listed all the events going on during the celebration and so after lunch it was off to the Q & A session with comic writers/artists Murphy Anderson, Lin Workman, Dave Beaty and Antone Wade... all brilliant artists of course but seeing the legendary Murphy Anderson in person was the icing on the cake. What a terrific artist! He had the audience so captivated even though it was during this time that the town of Metropolis took a beating outside from a huge thunder storm.
The 1940s ball in Noel Neill's honor that evening had everyone really excited. Not all got dressed up in the 40's theme but everyone was there in their best attire and looking forward to a memorable evening. The entertainment was a big band and Neal Bailey's dancing lol. Noel Neill looked absolutely gorgeous and it was a very special evening and a wonderful tribute to this incredible lady. There were big posters around the room of movies Noel had starred in and you couldn't help but feel honored to be there for such an important event. All in all it was a great night.
Saturday June 14th... Day 3... This was the biggest day of the whole celebration. The day started off with a Q & A session with Allison Mack, Ned Beatty and Noel Neill in the main tent. It was another scorching hot day but one that many were happy to sit through just to get a glimpse of their favorite stars. The signing sessions over the celebration were very long and exhausting cues that not all were able to endure, so grabbing a peek at these celebrities on stage was the next best thing. It took a lot for Neal to restrain himself from charging the stage and professing his love for Allison that morning... I don't know if it was because the Metropolis Police were there tight that day... but we were proud of Neal nonetheless.
From the main tent it was up the street to the Artist Alley where we sat in on a presentation by writer Marc Tyler Nobleman about his book "Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman". This is an illustrated book about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's lives coming together to create the character of Superman. It's written and illustrated in such a way as to grab readers young and old. Marc read his book to us his audience and then preceded to explain the finer details of why certain parts were written and/or illustrated that way...I'm glad I went along, it was rather interesting. Good book!
4:30pm: The Superman Homepage Meet and Greet. What a terrific turn out! Putting faces to member names I'd seen many times on the Homepage was just awesome. Hearing them praise both Steve and Neal for their hard work on the site was really something. That was the funny thing about tagging along with Steve and Neal for this whole celebration... these two were treated like celebrities a lot of the time, no joke! Every few minutes someone was there waiting to our side eager to shake Steve's hand and tell him how much they love the Homepage... and then turning to Neal telling him how much they love his reviews. There were many that asked to have their picture taken with Steve and Neal... and get this, there were even some that wanted Steve's autograph (he's still trying to comprehend that one even now). I mean all the attention Steve and Neal received was well deserved, but these two humble guys were just blown away by it all and still can't believe the reception and the respect they received. Being able to witness this happening for Steve was truly something that as his sister I couldn't have been more proud of. I had to stop myself many times from tearing up as I watched Steve just shine during this whole celebration.
The Auction Dinner saw the appreciation for Steve and the Superman Homepage taken to a whole new level. The most prestigious award of the whole Superman Celebration, the "George Award" was presented to Steve in thanks for his contribution and dedication to all things Superman. The look on Steve's face was just priceless. In front of hundreds of people gathered in the Baymont Theatre, Jim Hambrick presented this award to Steve who then gave a speech. What an honor! I've never seen Steve smile so much, it was fantastic! After all the speeches were made, the auction then began. Over 200 items were up for bid, some items going at bargain prices. A group of us however left the auction to join others that had gathered at the Artist Alley for a special tribute to Christopher Reeve and a screening of Superman: The Movie. What a huge buzz it was to sit there amongst others of the same kind... all of us cheering and clapping at the same moments... most of us even mouthing the dialogue as it went along... most of us rolling our eyes at the same time when 'Can you read my mind' rang out... most tearing up as we heard our favorite piece of music and saw that famous smile fly by... it was wonderful!
Sunday June 15th... Day 4... Last day of the Superman Celebration... We started out the final day with the costume contest under the main tent. The effort some of the contestants put into their costumes was terrific. There were quite a few that entered but of course there can only be one winner and it couldn't have gone to a more deserving contestant... Jamie Kelly (dressed as Superman of course). This guy knows what it means to wear the suit and with his Lois Lane (Ronda) by his side, these two received the praise they deserved for their efforts.
5pm saw the final event of the Celebration take place, the much anticipated Guinness World Record attempt at gathering the "Most People dressed as Superman" in the one place. Everywhere you looked, there was Superman. Young and old, male and female... they turned out in a sea of blue red and yellow. Even Murphy Anderson and his wife donned the suit for this history-making event. 122 was the number that set the record and after a 5 minute wait to make it all official and have the photographers on the cherry picker above us take the photos, it was an exciting 10 second count down to a huge cheer that ended the celebration. Josh Boultinghouse (Superman) was asked in front of the entire crowd if he'd come back to be the official Superman of Metropolis for the next 3 years... to which he so gladly accepted and with that the crowd started to slowly disappear. There were many sad farewells, email addresses exchanged, and promises to meet up again next year. Again Stephanie organized for the gang to stick around and see a movie together, so 16 of us in all took in the new Hulk movie, which was followed by pizzas and a swim back at the hotel. What a great way to end the celebration being surrounded by all these wonderful people who are now friends for life. I will miss you all, thank you.
Monday June 16th... From Metropolis to Paducah to Memphis to LA to Sydney, Australia... 3 back-to-back flights, over 17 hours flying... it was so good to be back home (I hate jet lag). With many photos, videos, stories and a nice tan to show off in the middle of winter, this Superman fan has spent the last few days bragging to everyone I know about my trip. I truly had a fantastic time. I know Steve will be posting the many photos and video footage we took over the next week, so keep an eye out for them guys! Thank you everyone for welcoming Steve and I into your country and extending us your friendship. Thanks Neal for putting up with me and showing me how to gamble... you bad man! Steve thanks again for allowing me to tag along, I love you dearly and I couldn't be more proud of you mate.
Thanks for reading folks. Cheers!
I wanted to to write Steve a review of my experiences at this year's Superman Celebration for all you "definitely next year" guys. You know what I'm talking about, the ones who salivate over every detail of the celebration reports and leave their comments at the end how they're gonna save up and "definitely go next year." That was actually me for the last four years, I said I would definitely make it next year only to find some excuse, timing, money, etc to get out of going. But because of this year's anniversary and going back to school I made a commitment to go for the first time. Let me tell you there is no way I can come close to doing justice to the celebration by explaining everything in complete detail, also it would take you close to an hour to read, so just let me hit you with the highlights:
Matt Popp aka bq06
Tribute to Christopher Reeve and Superman: The Movie
I think it is fair to assert that for many Superman fans Christopher Reeve is not only the real life personification of that character but is also the reason we got into the character in the first place. He embodied the character in a way that few performers before and after him have been able to match and even after his time as the Man of Steel ended he proved to be a hero on a number of fronts. It's because of this that I wasn't surprised to see the auditorium area of Artists Alley fill to overflowing leading to the people running the tribute to take down a wall and bring in more chairs to allow everyone a chance to join together in honoring Christopher Reeve and watching the film that changed super-hero films forever.
It was heartening to see so many people wanting to take part in the event. The tribute had some stiff competition with the big awards dinner (where Steve received the recognition he richly deserves) and auction but that didn't deter this crowd. After some technical difficulties the tribute finally got underway as a picture of Reeve appeared on the screen with the years of his birth and death underneath. The opening was brief and reminded the crowd of why we were there and why Christopher Reeve was such an important man. It was announced that after the first tribute video people would be invited to get up and tell the crowd what Reeve meant to them.
This was followed by a moment of silence. It was slow to come, not out of disrespect but because this is probably the one time over the entire celebration that a group of people so happy and excited to be able to talk with one another about Superman had been asked to stop. The moment came and went and I for one found it sobering, which made the next portion of the event and the introduction of the emcee a little...odd.
The emcee was not a man but a mule. It may sound strange but one of the guests of the celebration was a creator named Kevin Willaims whose comic strip character is a mule appropriately named Muley. Apparently Muley is also a puppet and for this event he was decked out in a super-hero costume, which is amusing in a way but I don't know if it was the best of ideas for this particular tribute. Part of me saw where they were going with bringing a little levity and reminding the room that as serious as this tribute was we should also be able to laugh and celebrate Reeve's life. Another part thought that it was almost making light of the situation.
This second feeling was driven home during the first tribute video. The opening piano music from Five For Fighting's "It's Not Easy" played over the speakers as a medley of clips from the 1978-1987 Superman films appeared on the screen. I've seen a lot of these over the years and settled back to see which clips this video used.
Then Muley began singing.
Now I'm sure all of this was presented with the best of intentions. I'm equally sure Kevin Williams is a fan of Christopher Reeve and this was the way he wanted to express those feelings. At the end of the day, though, it was still a puppet of a mule singing and even now I'm a little uncomfortable with it.
The song ended and people were invited to speak. It took some prodding but eventually several of us accepted that invitation. The stories ranged from experiences with Christopher Reeve as a man and as a Superman. Neal Bailey and I both said a few words though Neal was far more eloquent than I was. It was touching to see people from different walks of life and of different ages relate their experiences.
After that another video was played. This one had a piece of classical music playing behind it and I wish that I could tell you what piece it was but I completely forgot to ask. This video was different because it included clips that not only spanned his entire acting career but also videos of the actor after his accident. Between the clips some of more profound statements Reeve made over the course of his life were displayed. I found this video very moving. The combination of the words, images and music came together as a very fitting tribute to the man and his legacy.
Following this the winners of the raffle were announced. Over the previous two days tickets were sold at a dollar a piece to support the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation. The grand prizes were three absolutely stunning prints supplied by Jim Bowers of CapedWonder.com but one of the vendors also supplied some prizes as well. Scotty V won something and it was kind of amusing to see them butcher his last name.
After the prizes had been handed out the tribute came to an end but the evening had not.
It hit me as I was walking to the tribute that not only had I never seen Superman: The Movie on the big screen but I also had never seen it with a large group of people. I was too young to see the film in 1978 and much to my dismay the Special Edition has not made it's to Atlanta. So I was excited to see how the film played larger than life and in front of a crowd.
I had more fun than a person has a right to. Seeing it with Neal made it even better as we seemed to see eye to eye on the flick, though he loved Lex Luthor a little more than I did. He mentioned in his report that we both got up during the "Can You Read My Mind" scene, which I found hilarious because I thought I was the only one who found that sequence boring. I see what Donner and crew were going for and it is romantic in a sense, but it just brings the film to a screeching, tire squealing halt and for me the only redeeming quality is the scene directly after when Clark considers telling Lois that he is Superman.
The short novel Neal wrote was wonderful, by the way. Full of pathos and humor. It's a read for the ages I tell you and is soon to be a major motion picture from Evil, Conjoined Twins Productions.
The crowd was wonderful. We cheered at all the right moments, laughed at the right moments (especially when Superman steps out of the revolving door and is complimented on his attire), and there were very few Mystery Science Theater 3000 type comments made. I mean there was this one guy who yelled, "It's good!" when Clark kicks the football in Smallville, but other than that it was a pretty smooth viewing experience.
Except for, you know, Margot Kidder reciting bad, eighth grade level poetry.
The guy who yelled, "Its good!" was me, by the way. I thought it was funny but I am sure there were others that disagreed.
After the movie the evening ended and the crowd dispersed. I had no idea how the whole thing was going to play out but aside from the few technical snags and a singing puppet it was a grand experience. It was a fitting tribute to Christopher Reeve as both an actor and a man. It also allowed his fans who wouldn't normally be able to get together to do so and for one evening express their love and admiration for a man who, to most of them, is the very embodiment of Superman.
It's an experience I won't soon forget.
By Scotty V
So it was my little daughter Chloe's first trip on a plane and we were going to a Celebration in honor of Superman. There's nothing strange about that, not for this family. I've been personally enamored with the character since before I was three, since that's the age I was when Superman: The Movie arrived in theaters. My parents took me to see the big show and I wore a red napkin from dinner around my neck to "fly" in the aisle throughout the film. It was a little sketchy for a while, what with the somewhat slow buildup to Superman's actual appearance in the film, but I'm told I was excited nonetheless and that the people in the theater thought I was cute as a button. I wonder what happened to that me? So in the tradition of seeing the Man of Steel at a very young age, my wife Michelle and I took Chloe, who wasn't yet two years old, on a big trip to Metropolis, Illinois: "The Home of Superman."
It was our first trip to the Celebration and having never been there we didn't really know exactly what to expect. Well, with the exception of one small encounter with a guy on a Harley who was upset we were crossing the street, the one word that sums up much of the adventure is "kindness." It all started on the first plane we were on, from Newark, NJ. There we met a guy named Al who, upon seeing the Superman shield on my backpack asked if we were on our way to Illinois. My brain must have still been in Jersey because I for some reason told him no. After quickly correcting myself though, we walked with him through our stop in Memphis, Tennessee and he and I talked of Superman - the shows, the comics and the fact that he's been going to the Celebration every year for 20 years! Then, when we landed in Paducah, Kentucky, which is the small service airport 30 minutes from Metropolis, a woman who wasn't even going to the Celebration offered us a ride over, because she was "passing by there anyway so why should we pay for a taxi?" I am remiss in that I don't remember her name but she was delightfully helpful and kind and I thank her.
Pulling into the parking lot of our hotel, I could swear I saw Steve Younis and Neal Bailey walking with a small group of people. Now this is Wednesday night around ten and the whole shebang doesn't really kickoff until Thursday night at five so not to many people have really arrived yet. After we checked in and took our stuff to our room, I went out to have a look around and that's when I ran into Steve, Neal, Carol, Michael Bailey and his wife Rachel. They were on the opposite side of the street and it was dark but Steve's signature Australian voice rang out in the night and I called out to them. It was a great coming together of a group of like-minded individuals. We talked for a few minutes, filmed a small segment for the site and then we parted ways for the time being. What a great group of people. They were all so open and friendly that it just helped to make my arrival in a strange town feel more like home. Rachel even offered several times throughout the trip to hang with Chloe while we did certain things the baby wasn't directly involved in.
On Thursday morning, at the continental breakfast, my family and I ran into the whole gang again and this time we all met and talked a bit. Plus, on the way from our room, we met Noel Neill and Larry Ward who were also staying in our hotel. Then, as we were eating breakfast and chatting Superman, Josh Boultinghouse came over and joined in the conversation for a few minutes. Now, other than the video online where you could vote for the new "Official Superman of Metropolis," I had yet to see Josh (who won the online vote-in) in a Superman costume, but his attitude and physique alone were enough to have my mind telling me "this guy IS Superman." Josh didn't have much time to talk as it was just about 9 am and he'd already been up since 4 doing radio and television interviews and now had to commence with his three-hour workout! He was a very busy man all weekend and just an all around great guy who was obviously excited about his new job.
Later that day we took a walk down to the Metro Chamber of Commerce, where more kindness was unleashed on us. I swear, it was like everyone around, except for that one biker (so if you're reading this you'd better "turn over a whole new leaf") had his or her very own superpower - friendliness. That may sound corny but the truth is, so many people made this trip so special and so much more than just a family trip to Illinois that it's true. At the Chamber, we met the woman, and again I've forgotten her name, it may be Wilma or Wanda, who planned a little birthday singing for Chloe, who would be turning 2 on the Sunday of the Celebration. We really appreciated this and it really made the trip extra special. No one had to do it; we didn't pay anything extra or ask for it. The Chamber, with Wanda/Wilma taking the lead, planned it and was happy to do it. Even before Sunday though, all weekend in fact, all the ladies of the Chamber fell in love with Chloe and they'd spot her as soon as they saw us. Chloe made just as many friends on this trip as I did, and I knew several people before we even got there! So if there's anyone thinking that they'd be left alone in Metropolis too far from home with no one to help you, think again.
Around 8 that night it was time for Superfan Bowling, but not before we'd gone out to Willy Jak's (the one sit-down type restaurant I was actually able to find in all of Metropolis during my stay) for some cool food and even cooler friendship making. Once we got to Bob's Bowling, Rachel hung with Chloe and kept an eye on her throughout the evening, she and Chloe really hit it off. Steve, Neal, Michael, Carol, Rob (red hobbes from the Homepage) all bowled together, while I and my wife Michelle (we'd signed up before we knew the Homepage crew would be there) bowled with some other nice folks from the Superman Celebration message boards. Stephanie Perrin, from the boards, organized the event and even handed out prizes to the best and worst scores. Sadly, though I'm sure I was close to the bottom and the Homepage staff team was close to the top, with Steve's skill almost being enough by itself, none of us won any prizes.
On Friday morning I participated in the 2nd Annual Superfan Baseball game along with Steve, Neal and so many other new friends I couldn't possibly remember all their names. I do remember another friend who watched the game, but more importantly gave me a ride there or I wouldn't have been playing at all - thanks Janet. Steven Kirk and Stephanie Perrin, who are heavily involved with many aspects of the Celebration; Stephanie even played Lois in a skit to open the whole thing, and Steve hosted the costume contest, both had a hand in organizing and planning the game. I was honored to have the opportunity to volunteer to sing the National Anthem before the game. Although I started a little high, and therefore my voiced cracked ever so slightly toward the middle, I still think it went really well and it's a time I'll never forget. Early on, once I'd learned that Steve and Neal were coming to the Celebration, I decided I'd want to be on their team and so we were all mates on the Metropolis Marvels. The game was one of the best times I had at the Celebration, there was teamwork, hits, runs and all had great fun. Larry Ward, writer of Noel's book, was our coach and team captain, and through his great leadership the Marvels were able to pull off the win. It was a close one though, 27 to 13 or something, but that wasn't even important, it was just a great experience. The game was called after four innings because it was so darn hot and because everyone got a hit at every at bat. So by my count we'd still have been playing at around 7 pm had we stayed to finish.
It should be said that Noel Neill is a fantastic example of an actress who loves and respects the fans as well as the legendary character she was involved with. Too many times it seems actors want to be disassociated with such famous characters and even try to change the character so that maybe people won't know they've portrayed him or her. Noel is different. She seems truly honored to have portrayed such a famous character. My understanding is that she comes to the Celebration every year. She signs autographs anywhere and all the time, all a fan needs do is ask. This "First Lady of Metropolis," as Miss Neill is called at the Celebration, is truly deserving of the 1940's Hollywood Ball Tribute that my family and I attended on Friday night.
At the ball little Chloe danced with so many people I couldn't even count. Myself included, Chloe cut the rug (or hardwood dance floor) so well that she had everybody smiling. Everyone in attendance seemed to have the time of their lives. There was even a "Best dressed 40's man and woman" contest which was awarded to two folks who dressed in military inspired costume. Chloe went up to many tables and asked everyone "You dance wif me?" I tell you, if I received as many yeses from girls I asked to dance growing up as Chloe did throughout the night, I'd have been one very successful guy. But of all the dance partners she had, Neal Bailey was the most childlike and fun. Neal was spinning with her, jumping, and squatting on the floor. Neal's just really good with kids and even offered to buy Chloe at one point, saying he really loved my family. I love them too Neal and I thank you.
Saturday is the big day at the Festival, with the celebrity question and answer, as well as the autograph sessions and the Auction later at night. I even tied to win at Superman Jeopardy! It was very interesting to see Allison Mack, Ned Beatty and Noel Neill all together in one place answering questions from the fans. Allison and Ned came in together and seemed to have a really good report, as they were chatting it up and smiling for photos together on their walk from the Superman statue to the Q&A tent. As perhaps might have been expected, Allison received the most questions; though it probably didn't help that Noel had trouble with her microphone, couldn't really be heard and no one really gave her much of a hand in fixing the problem. I myself asked Ned if he enjoyed having his own theme music (the Otis theme from Superman: The Movie) and if he ever heard it in his head while walking through life. I know, dumb question but hey, if I had a theme song like that you know I'd be singing it when I walked around! During the autograph session, though pictures with the celebrities was frowned upon, one of Chloe's Chamber friends and Allison collaborated to get Chloe an excellent birthday photo with Smallville's Chloe: Allison Mack.
We decided we couldn't make the Auction Dinner, both for the cost of the ticket and because I couldn't afford to actually participate and buy anything, so instead we went to the Christopher Reeve Tribute showing of Superman: The Movie. Before the tribute and film though, Wilma/Wanda from the Chamber of Commerce brought in Chloe's cake and the host for the evening announced that it was her birthday, brought us up in front of the gathered crowd and everyone sang Happy Birthday to the kiddo. It was a fantastic, family-like experience and Chloe was speechless. So many people singing to her was just so different and so exciting that when the host pulled the mike over and said she could say something, she was only able to tell us her name. I found the tribute to Christopher Reeve, singing mule and all, to be a touching way to celebrate the man's life while still keeping it somewhat light and fun. Watching the film was really great in a crowd of Superman fans. I've never seen it with a group of people who would burst into applause, cheer and clap at the end so that made it very poignant for me. I even realized during the screening, that the movie wasn't as silly and outdated as I'd started to believe. There are even jokes and moments I didn't get before hearing a crowd reaction to them. I find that incredible for the simple reason that we've all seen that film countless times and yet, that night new things were brought to my attention that I'd never noticed before.
The $1000 costume contest was held on Sunday where a Lois Lane, a Bizarro, a robot, an Indiana Jones and a Superman were each chosen as the best costume in their respective categories: Best Lois or Supergirl, Best Villain, Best Monster, Best Hero, and Best Superman/Clark Kent. In the end the grand prize went to Jamie Kelley (another member of the Homepage), who was dressed as Superman and who, throughout the weekend went around in character as Clark Kent. I really expected the Robot costume to win, as it was simply ingenious and must have taken an immense amount of effort and time to come out so well. Though to his credit, Jamie was in character every time I saw him throughout the weekend, so that may have come into play as well.
Later that day was the Guinness Book of World Records attempt for "Largest gathering of people dressed as Superman." As far as I know, I was the only staff member of the Homepage to actually get a costume in time to participate, and despite the heat, it really was a good time. It was incredible to see that many people dressed as the world's greatest superhero even if most of us were fairly sad interpretations of what Superman should look like. There were a few really good, tailor made costumes on people that actually looked good in them though. Josh was there in all his "Official Superman of Metropolis" glory, along with Murphy Anderson (Historic Superman Inker and Artist) and his wife dressed in costume. Noel Neill was the official timekeeper for the event; as we all had to remain gathered for 5 minutes in order to qualify.
Steve Kirk, who came up with the idea, contacted the Guinness folks and had a great looking Supes costume, stood up front with Josh, Murphy and his wife and the Chamber staff. They all held a banner in front of 122 gathered people dressed as Superman and we succeeded in making the record, as has been reported before, because we only needed 100. The Guinness photographers were set up on a crane and we were gathered under the 15 foot Superman statue so expect to see some awesome aerial-esque photos in the 2008 Guinness Book of Records. Chloe, Michelle and I are right near the front, so depending on the shot and angle they go with, if you've got a magnifying glass you should be able to see us when the book comes out - we're almost all the way over to the left in the second row or so.
On Sunday night, the folks from the Homepage as well as those from the Celebration message boards all got together to go see "The Incredible Hulk." For this ride I can thank Rob from the Homepage. I found this to be another great experience because it's not often you get a gathering of over 20 people who all love the genre and are likely to cheer in the right places, laugh at the in-jokes and just really enjoy the film all that much more because of the vibe emanating from the group. I'd have to give the film a positive review, even though it wasn't my favorite of the year (that honor goes to "Wanted," you should definitely see it) and recommend it to anyone who likes superheroes or especially the Hulk. His powers are a little off and underused, as they often show him as more Tarzan and less able to leap up to 5 miles, but that's a minor thing. I only wish DC would take a page out of Marvel's movie book and catch up to their filmmaking prowess, for then we might really have some great DC character films. First X-Men, Spidey, Iron Man (and even a miss like Electra is forgotten) and now this; what can I say Marvel does it again. On the way out of the Cinemark, we all chatted it up and ran out to town Superman Josh, who was going to see "The Happening." Josh wasn't sure if the Hulk would be good because of his disappointment with the Ang Lee version from a few years back, but with 20 people telling him not to worry, he decided he'd have to see it.
On Monday the family and I went through the Superman Museum, which as you've seen is quite cool, had a final meal at Willy Jak's (again the only place to really eat in Metropolis. There is a Hardees but you can get that anywhere, right?) And then headed off to the airport for the first leg of our journey home. Neal, Carol and Steve were on the same flight with us back to Memphis and as we each arrived at our gates, we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. There were some tears and yes, there was sadness, but the emotion speaks volumes for the friendships and connections that were formed during a short trip to the Mid-west. Chloe chased Neal throughout the airport trying to keep up, saying things like: "Neal wait" and "Ohhh, I missed Neal," when Neal turned a corner and she could no longer see him. Now, when she and I look at the photos from our adventure, she screams out "there's Steve" and "that's Neal," with a laugh. Neal is indeed very funny. Not so much to look at but in that way that even Chloe, who's just turned two years old, can tell. Everyone at the Celebration endeared themselves to us and I'm sure that everyone who attended has similar feelings and stories. Indeed, the best part of the Celebration wasn't the baseball game in itself, nor was it the ball or the Guinness gathering, but rather the sense of connection, family and kindness that permeated every soul we came in contact with. If you haven't yet started planning for next year's Celebration, start planning and take my word for it that in some future year you too will find the same spirit of fun and togetherness that Michelle, Chloe and I found in Metropolis, Illinois in 2008.