Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Evidently the term Superman in fitness (at least in this article) refers to "Lying flat on your stomach, simultaneously raise both arms and legs (knees locked) as high as you can". From the pose Superman makes when he flies, no doubt.

Interestingly, that pose is sort of justified in The Iron Giant. I watched that not too long ago. It's fantastic, but I watched it because there's a lot about Superman in it. In an essay in the Man From Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman, David Hopkins says that the movie uses Superman as a guide to morality for powerful people. But Hogarth (the kid who befriends the Iron Giant) tells the giant to hold his arms out like Superman to steady himself as he flies. It works.

The latest edition of Wired UK has the Superman logo on the cover. For whatever reason, the computer I'm using won't download the on-line sample of the issue, so I don't exactly know why, but the cover blurb reads "How science is re-engineering your mind, body, and spirit..." so that may have something to do with it. Superman is, in some ways, and especially in the All Star version, about perfecting humanity.

A while back, Neil Gaiman and Adam Rogers wrote a brief piece in Wired called "The Myth of Superman." It's not a bad little essay, though I disagree with their assessment of Superman's villains. Sure, a lot of them are disposable, but as far as I know the only villain who's entered the general lexicon of pretty much everybody is Bizarro. Brainiac gets used pretty often, too. And everybody knows who Lex Luthor is.

I read a really good article on Halloween, called "Does the Word 'Dog' Bite?" It's by the legendary folklorist Linda Degh--legendary because of her primary area of study (legends) and her stature within the field. Her book Legend and Belief changed the way I approach narratives in general. The article only mentions Superman once, as a disguies for children on Halloween, but it's just generally interesting, so I thought I'd mention it. She points out that dressing up as Superman is enacting the legend of superman, a retelling of the story that she labels ostension (after Umberto Eco).
Then there's this, Superdavid:

There's a site called It ran a contest called Superhero ModRen. People were invited to take a renaissance painting and photoshop in a superhero or villain. Three different entries portrayed Michaelangelo's David as Superman. I liked this one the best, but that's just me. Looking at that statue from the front, it's easy to forget that it's actually a portrayal of David of David and Goliath fame. Once around back, you can see the sling draped over his shoulder in detail, and the story comes into focus. He was supposed to be perfection, I guess, as is Superman. He sired a line of kings that putatively lasted until Jesus.

In a related story, my wife Mandy and I went to see that statue in Florence. Waiting in line, a pigeon pooped on her head.


  1. Isn't it supposed to be good luck or something if a bird poops on you? Every time it's happened to me, I just thought it was gross.

  2. Every time? How many are we talking about here?