L: Superman v. 2 #75 (January 1993), art by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding
R: Superman: The Man of Steel #75 (January 1998), art by John Bogdanove and Dennis Janke (credited as "after Dan & Brett")
(Click picture to Mxy-size)
Hmmm, it's time for Bahlactus's Friday Night Fights again, and I'm not certain if I'm actually allowed to put up the fighter I've been training all week. Let me consult the Friday Night Fights rule book:
Hmmm, according to this the only rule is 'Two men enter, one man leaves.' And here's the important part: it says they don't actually have to be men. Okey dokey then!...here's my fighter...weighing 529 kilograms, standing fifteen hands high and with shoes made of tempered steel...ladies and gentlemen and bulls of all ages...the fighting skills of...Black Fury!
Hey! Stop laughing! My new fighting horse is unstoppable! Don't bullieve me? Well, check it out:
Horse versus cougar!
Horse versus mountain lion!
Horse versus what looks like a man in a bear suit!
Horse versus wolves!
Horse versus snake!
Horse versus wolves and snakes!
Horse versus horse!
Horse versus puma!
Horse versus some more wolves!
...and yet some more snakes!
Horse versus man!
Horse versus nature!
Horse versus...what, is that a midget in the bear costume now?
Horse versus gravity!
But lest we think that the life of our equine hero is all fight fight fight...yes, even a horse needs love!
Fellow blogger Laura (aka Tegan) has already done most of the heavy lifting in recounting the tale of our momentous meeting in their Seattle suburban home last Friday (in a post and photos she put up while I was still bouncin' around Seatac Airport on Friday night!), but out of synergy and also in synchronicity with a very special day both Friday and today (more on the latter at the end of this post), here's my post and photos about meeting one of my favorite pair of bloggers, Laura (Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog) and her husband Eric (The Wonderful Blog of Oz). I'm a big fan of both blogs and I'm definitely a big fan of the Gjovaags.
It was very wonderful to meet them and have them shake my hoof. They invited me into the home, and yes, I saw the amazing Aquaman collection. Of course there were photo opportunities for me as I met the incredible Torvald, Laura's troll who has been more places and met more celebrities of the SF and comics world than you have had hot dinners. Really, Torvald's travels make mine look like wandering down to the corner to pick up a loaf of bread and a can of condensed milk for a teatime snack...check 'em out here! (He's even met Two-Face!) But for all that world-trotting, he's a pleasant and placid personality and we soon became close friends. Maybe it's our similar stature but I think we saw eye-to-eye on a lot of things:
John and Laura snapped away merrily like paparazzifunnily enough, they both managed to take almost exactly the same photos every time!as I met another member of the Gjovaag household: Monty the television-top penguin:
Monty even let me try on his beautiful Fourth Doctor scarf. Thanks, Monty! And check out the Gjovaags's ultra-cool comic book spinner in the background...man, I'm jealous!:
We had a lovely dinner at the award-winning Italian restaurant down the hill (early for Laura and Eric, late for me still on New York time, but it all balanced out.) Pay no attention to Laura's scurrilous comments about my table manners and eating habits, though: I do not chew with my mouth open. (My best pal and traveling companion John on the other hand sometimes has to be reminded of that and to keep his elbows off the table). I did fall in the ravioli at one point but thanks to the wonder of the Shout Stainstick, no harm done. We had a lovely chat about our lives, respective towns, travels, blogging, Aquaman, Doctor Who, and Oz, until full of pasta and garlic bread, we all waddled back up the hill where I got a chance to meet another member of the household: Scraps the Patchwork Girl of Oz, the star of my very favorite L. Frank Baum Oz book. Oh, Scraps, you are so colorful and lovely with your patchwork dress and button eyes!
Together we giggled and danced and sang:
The wolf is at the door,
There's nothing to eat but a bone without meat,
And a bill from the grocery store.
Which brings me to that momentous occasion of today that I mentioned earlier: today, Tuesday May 15, is the birthday of L. Frank Baum, the First Royal Historian of Oz. Although it's not as an amazing confluence of events as last year when it fell on the same day as Miracle Monday, celebrate today and Baum's life and work by reading an Oz book or comic book (I'm especially fond of this one myself!). Oh okay, you can watch "The Film" too if you want! But especially today's a great day to check out Eric's Wonderful Blog of Oz...fun any day of the year, but especially on May 15!
Back to Friday: we all exchanged some fun 'getting to know you' gifts (thank you for the books and DVDs, Laura and Eric!) and then John and I had to hop back into the rental car and zip down Route 5 for our red-eye flight back to New York. We were both beaming all the way. It's a wonderful thing to be part of the blogosphere and I love reading other blogs and when people email or comment on my little puppet-town cow-blog here, but it's fantastic when you finally get to meet and shake hooves with the people behind your favorite blogs. I'm especially looking forward to this year's San Diego Comic-Con to meet some more of y'all, because, blogs are fun. But people are funner! 'Specially good folks like the Gjovaags. Thanks for welcoming little stuffed me into your home, and hope to see you again soon!
Dream Country. Neil Gaiman may or may not have coined this phrase, but the title of his Sandman arc has a different meaning in my little stuffed-with-beans head.
I like dreaming. Cause dreamin' can make you mine. I like dreamin', closing my eyes and feeling fine. Oh wait, I'm channeling seventies pop radio there for a minute. Let me start again. I like dreaming. It's a dandy way to have a vacation without ever leaving your bed. I especially enjoy those dreamsc'mon, you know you've had 'emwhere you're in some new and detailed oneiric landscape that is both vaguely familiar within the context of your actions in the dream and at the same time someplace you've never been in before. It's a fictional environment, not necessarily a fantastic one: there are houses and hills and roads and trees, not aliens and time machines and dinosaurs. In short, it's like the world around the corner, but you've never seen it before, and after you wake up, you'll never see it again unless you fix it in your head, which I like to do when I jot down my dreams (don't worry, I'm not gonna blog 'emI know how boring dreams can be if you haven't dreamed 'em yourself). I call these fictional landscapes my own Dream Country.
Of course, I dream about London a loty'all know how much I love England's capital city. But more often than not I'm not dreaming about St. Paul's or Big Ben or the Thames or Hyde Park, I'm dreaming about out of the way corners I've never been in before, mundane and ordinary London locationsand nearly always set in a London Underground Tube station or catching a big red London bus. Not surprising, if you know my obsession with London Transport. I will be happily wandering in my dream and come across a London bus in an usual locale and run to hop on board even though I don't know where it is going. I love dreams like that.
What's this got to do with my drive around Seattle last Friday, you ask? Well, imagine my surprise riding in the big rental car down the Bothell Everett Highway towards the home of fellow bloggers Laura and Eric, idly looking out the window while John drove, and spotting this:
"Stop! Stop!" I screamed, and John swerved and pulled off the highway with a crunch and spray of gravel into the parking lot of Country Village, an antiques and craft market. After John scolded me for yelling in the car, we hopped out and ran up to the mirage only to discover that yes, it is indeed an authentic London Routemaster double-decker bus:
Now, it's not that I've never seen a London Routemaster outside of London before. They're all over the place in Manhattan as tourist buses, for example. But it was just the surprise of finding one purely by serendipity, added to the fact that it's basically unrestored, that gave me that weird and uncanny feeling of déjà vu. Why, you could even see where this bus was supposed to go, the wonderful Dream Country of Clackney Wick:
Or maybe I'm misreading that crumpled destination roller and it says Clapton and Hackney Wick. But...no. This is a Dream Country bus, and it goes to a place only in my dreams, that you can't find on Google unless I'm talking about it. (See?) That's the joy and the delight of Dream Country: a place that doesn't exist but ought to.
Maybe this only matters to someone as captivated by London Transport as me. Maybe it only felt spooky and mysterious because there was no one else around, and whatever the Routemaster had been turned into (I thought it was a photography studio, although someone on one of my Flickr groups thinks it's a bead store), it was closed so I couldn't find out its true purpose. Or maybe the utter surrealism of the place was due to the freakin' giant chicken behind us in the parking lot:
Whatever it was, that's one of the things I love best about excowsions: finding the usual and unexpected around every corner. Just like in Dream Country, real-world travel is the journey, not the destination.
A lovely Friday (this past one) in Seattle. Balmy springy weather, sunny bright blue skies, a stomach full of pancakes from Julia's of Wallingford, and a rental car with a full tank of gas. Could there be (in my Chandler Bing voice) a more perfect day?
Yes! Yes, there could be. Head on down Route 5 towards Seatac airport and swerve off (don't forget your turn signals) onto exit 158 and head for Boeing's Museum of Flight. I've been to Seattle a bajillion times and every time I pass the big billboard with the SR-71 Blackbird soaring across the sky and narrowly missing Air Force One I say to myself "Self, you oughta go to the Museum of Flight." Well, Friday was the day!
The Museum of Flight is built in a giant horseshoe around the original Boeing "Red Barn" aviation factory, which provides a dandy historical context from the age of the Wright Brothers to the Starship Voyager. Oh wait, it doesn't go up quite that far, but there's still plenty of cool stuff to see. Right from moment one when you pull your rental car into the space-age parking lot there's stuff to look at. See, somebody parked their planes right on the front lawn! I always get in trouble when I leave my toys on the lawn at home:
Plop down your fourteen bucks at the front desk to get a dashing wristband that gives you admission to the entire museum. But don't rent that audio tour! The sign says "Audio tour rental, $5.00"...but when I asked to rent one they pulled out a credit card machine and said "And we'll also need a credit card to take a deposit on the audio tour module." Well, okay, sez I, slowly taking out my MasterCow. Then desk clerk runs my card through the machine and hands me back the slip to sign on the deposit for a total of
wait for it
Six hundred dollars.
Uh uh. No way. Nuh-huh. I'm not signing that. The clerk explains that this is just a deposit in case the module is lost or broken, but I'm not feeling at all confident in carrying around a six hundred dollar plastic phone, especially since my hooves are full of my cameraand I'm feeling a little paranoid since I put a crack in my laptop screen a couple days before. I've done enough audio tours in museums (for example, the excellent audio program in London's Cabinet War Rooms) and have never been asked to put down this kind of moolah as a safety. "I'm sorry, I don't think I want this," I explain. "I'm kind of a butterfingers." She tries to convince me that the thin lanyard strung from the end of the plastic phone will keep me from dropping it, but I fix her with a stern stare and say "It's more difficult with hooves." In the end she grumbles a bit and holds me up for another five minutes while she voids my receipt, tears up the credit card slip, and refunds my five dollars. I head off for the museum feeling safer if a little worked up. Sitting on the end of the counter is a placard promoting the audio tour. It lists a "fifty dollar cash deposit required." Huh. Looks like some contradiction there, huh? I might have put down fifty dollars cash deposit for a good audio tour and not been too devastated if I accidentally sat on the phone. But six hundred? Why, that's two hundred copies of 52. That's four years worth! I will not spent four years in this museum! Later when I get home I do some research on the Museum of Flight's website and find that I probably just shoulda downloaded some of their podcasts, but whatdaya gonna do? What did I do? I fired up my Star Trek soundtrack playlist on my iPod and stepped into the museum.
Start your visit in the original Boeing building, the "Red Barn," which features a great early history of Boeing and Seattle/Pacific Northwest flight and aviators, plus a dandy sideroom exhibition on the Wright Brothers. Peer in historic Boeing offices, see early planes in construction, plus a whole buncha plane parts that I wouldn't be allowed to play with because I'd probably wind up with some nuts and bolts left over. The room is bright, airy, and sunnya perfect exhibition spaceand there's something to see everywhere you turn. Look, here's a Sopwith Camel just my size. But they've got it strung from the ceiling so I can't get in it and soar about. Curse you, Red Baron!:
Move from here into the large two-story Personal Courage Wing, both floors a very thorough and comprehensive history of aviation during the two World Wars. There's a lot of great planes and models to look at, plus plenty of multimedia including film and radio to give you background into the lives of the fighters and fliers of the World Wars. The equipment and machinery are amazing and fun to look at, but most touching was an exhibition of photographs of National Medal of Honor winnersthe men and women behind our victoriesaccompanied by their own words. Very touching and a vital addition to learning the history. It made me reach for my little monogrammed handkerchief. See, already I have things in all my hooves; I surely woulda dropped that audio tour phone!
Of course, don't miss all the cool planes:
And there's even a small display that includes a Steve Savage, Balloon Buster comic book. Boy, am I sure glad I didn't buy a balloon in the gift shop:
From World War II step into the modern age of aviation in the massive and aptly named Great Gallery, which has seventy-eight, count 'em, seventy-eight planes and plane replicas in its hangar-sized exhibition space:
...including the Lockheed Blackbird...yes, that's the X-Men's plane. Thankfully, Gambit was nowhere to be seen:
...the front half of a commercial jetliner...hey, this must be that plane from Lost!...
...and didn't I see Tattoo and Saruman flying this one in The Man with the Golden Gun?:
Some of the planes have simulators set up so you can fly 'em. Look! I'm taking the highway to the Danger Zone! Goose! Goose!:
Don't forget to stop in the gift shop (I bought a souvenir pencil). But even after you're done with the big Boeing complex, you ain't done with the Museum of Flight yet, buddy! Oh no no no no no! Dart across the curiously named four lane highway that is East Marginal Way and if you make it, you can tour an outdoor exhibition yard with some of the Museum's biggest-name attractions. No, not Orson Welles, but something even bigger: Air Force One!:
If Harrison Ford isn't busy battling terrorists on board, you can step inside AF1 and see the President's flying palace in all its 1970s glory, including the conference room...:
...the communication station...:
...and the Presidential biffy. Hey, if I was designing this, I woulda put the presidential seal on the toilet seat:
That ain't the end of the fun! Step across the tarmac and come face to pointy nose cone with the Barry Allen of planes, the Concorde!:
I was very surprised at how narrow and small the Concorde was. There's only four seats across in both coach and the forward first class section, and even for slender slender me it's a sideways squeeze down the aisle. I guess if you're riding the Concorde, you're riding it for speed and not luxury. But man, are its bathrooms aerodynamically designed for speed!:
Also, exactly what you'd expect from a major museum: placards relating rumors:
But I kid Rod Stewart. Seriously, if you're in Seattle, don't miss a grand day outhead on down to the Museum of Flight and come away with your spirit soaring. Unless you dropped your six hundred dollar audio tour, in which case the only thing flying will be dollars out of your wallet.