Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The long way to St. Louis

Normally, driving from Memphis to St. Louis is a straightforward affair. Simply take I-55 north and you're there 3-plus hours later. Except when I'm in this part of the country--which is to say, almost never--certain opportunities are not to be missed. Therefore, I did not drive to St. Louis in a straightforward manner, but rather took a more circuitous route, but one that was significantly more rewarding.

It's not every day I get a chance to drive through Metropolis and see the giant Superman statue, not to mention visit the Superman Museum. And the statue is giant, as they say. I stood beside it and my head only came up to the Big Blue Boy Sout's knee. Photos may follow, once I get home from NASFiC. The museum itself was a fun--if cluttered-affair. Tons of collectables from over the years, not to mention movie props and displays from everything from the old George Reeves television series to Superman Returns. There was a surprising amount of material from the late, unlamented Superboy series, and an entire room (well, room is something of a strong word. Let's say "squarish, closed-off section") devoted to Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl. One of the highlights for me was one of the actual space suits worn by the ill-fated astronauts from Superman II. That was pretty cool, as were all the 1970s-vintage Slurpee cups from 7-11, Pepsi glasses, chunks of translucent green Kryptonite, and, bizarrely, quite a few Underdog toys. Why Underdog? I saw only one Mighty Mouse toy on display, which makes more sense, since the original incarnation of Mighty Mouse was litigated out of existence due to blatant similarity to Superman. But Underdog? I don't get it.

I feel a little sorry for the workers at the Superman Museum/Gift Shop, however. The entire time we were there, a non-stop loop of John Williams' Superman soundtrack interspliced with various "Superfriends" theme music incarnations played over the speaker system. Even for someone like me, who really gets jazzed hearing those great, bombastic melodies, it was wearing pretty thin by the time we left. But hey, where else are you going to see one of the evening gowns Terri Hatcher wore on Lois & Clark, or Christopher Reeve's toupee collection from the first movie, or Nuclear Man's black leather boots (far less intimidating than the Phantom Zone criminals' black boots, which were also on display). For that alone, it's more than worth it.

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