Sunday, November 10, 2019

Passing the Bat-on: advocating for Bill Finger from the 1960s to today

When people thank me for my efforts to get Bill Finger credited on Batman, I thank them right back, and also make clear that it was not a solo effort, nor was I the one who got the ball rolling.

I often say “Without Jerry Bails, there’d be no me.” He did not formally pass the baton after he introduced Bill to fandom in 1965, but others in scattershot formation picked it up where it lay.

Below are those whom I consider the VIPs in the decades-long push to officially acknowledge Bill Finger. (So many more have championed Bill; the people on this list took on the challenge in a particularly concrete way, i.e. writing about Bill.) They are in loose chronological order and rather than describe each again here, I’ve linked to a previous post about him or her. (If deceased, the year of passing is in parentheses.)

Monday, November 4, 2019

Visiting Beatles sites in Liverpool, England

In 12/18, I cobbled together my own Beatles tour of Hamburg, Germany, where they first played outside of the UK.

But I failed to mention that 25 years earlier, on 4/20/93 to be precise, while in college and traveling Europe for the first time, I had already done an ad hoc Beatles tour...of Liverpool, England, where it all started.

 251 Menlove Avenue ("Mendips"), 
where John Lennon lived 1945-1963

 The Cavern Club, 10 Mathew Street; 
the Quarrymen (first band Lennon and McCartney appeared in together)
first performed here in 1957; as the Beatles, they first played here
in 1961 (where future manager Brian Epstein first heard them) 
and last in 1963...with 273 times in between; 
the original closed and was torn down in 1973; 
it was rebuilt (in part from bricks of the original) 
and re-opened in 1985 
(but would go through more closures/reopenings)

 Eleanor Rigby, lonely no more.

 One end of Penny Lane.

 The barbershop mentioned in "Penny Lane."
(Squint to make out the photo I'm looking at.)

Strawberry Field, the children's home on whose grounds 
a young John sometimes played. 
It closed in 2005; the grounds opened 
to the public for the first time in 2019.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Speaking on the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship

It’s been claimed that the “three most written-about subjects of all time are Jesus, the Civil War, and the Titanic.”

From October 11-18, my three most talked-about subjects were Batman, fairies, and the Queen Mary 2, which (probably in large part because it was my first cruise) reminded me of the Titanic.

Cruise ships like to provide nonstop stimulation for their passengers, especially on days at sea when no excursion options exist. I believe this is why cruises began to invite all kinds of experts and enthusiasts to speak on board. I am now one of those enthusiasts. 

It took roughly a year of prep before stepping foot onto the gangway, and I’m not talking about my lectures (as they are called in the cruise biz). I mean learning best practices for being a cruise lecturer plus the logistics of scheduling travel of any kind.

In recent years, it seems, the role of cruise lecturers has expanded; they are now expected to be available to guests even when they are offstage. We’re there to share, then to interact at any point if guests would like to chat. (Of course, most speakers would be recognizable only to those passengers who have attended their lectures, and fewer than 100 of my ship’s 2,600 passengers did so. Always a lot of competition!)

My cruise (Quebec-Halifax-New York) lasted six days, two of which were at sea, so I was scheduled for two lectures: one on 10/15, the other on 10/17. First talk (Bill Finger) went well. Second one (fairies)…went. 

Well, I think it went well to the audience, but unbeknownst to them, in the two hours before I spoke, I got seasick…four times. I still wasn’t myself when I went onstage, but (by land or by sea) the show must go on. And I had taken steps to feel better, including something I don’t normally do (onstage or otherwise): I chewed gum. Specifically ginger gum, because ginger can reduce nausea. 

This was my last full day on the ship, and the only day when the sea was rough. Apparently, it was one of the choppiest days at sea the ship had experienced in a while. The stage was gently rocking the whole time I was on it, but I did my best to keep my mind on my material and somehow managed to get through it.

Then I slept most of the rest of the day.

Thank you to Cunard and cruise agent Tim Castle for inviting me on board. It was a privilege and a pleasure.

Highlights:

 My wife Daniela and I before boarding, with the ship behind us.

 The lifejacket fit.

 The ship’s library. The bookcases were illuminated.
Every night, every one of them had to be locked
manually.

 On our first night, I played the 10 pm movie trivia in the ship’s pub.
I won a bottle of wine.

 Batmoose. (It’s Canada.)




 Daniela on the top-deck helipad.

 Saguenay, Quebec. We took a boat tour on the fjord.

 The ship’s nightclub, G32. Most of the passengers were in their sixties
or older. G32 was not crowded.

 Every night, the program for the following day was slid under the door.
This one announces the first of my two lectures. One of the other speakers
was Roger McGuinn, frontman of the Byrds. He shared some great
anecdotes about the 1960s rock and folk scene.

 The entrance to the auditorium where lecturers spoke and
where movies were shown (none of which we went to).

 That guy in the front row sat there for both of my talks and
both times kept his hand on his head the whole time.

A few dozen of the hundreds of small placards identifying
food options at the buffet. 

 My favorite item at the buffet. 
(See my author bio for The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra.)

 Sunrise as we pulled into Halifax.
That white dot at top left is the moon.

 Just before 6 am. 

 Just after 6 am. (Daniela is behind the porthole.)
The yellow flag signals that the ship is free of disease.

 My sunrise shipboard shadow with the 
moon still visible.


 Peggy’s Cove, Halifax. Lighthouses and bagpipers
are both fun to observe, so here is a two-for-one.

 I thought it was funny to see a “Buses Only” barricade
haphazardly misplaced on the rocky terrain surrounding
the lighthouse. 


 A cool wave slide in Halifax.

 A funny yet sad sign at a pier craft market in Halifax that caters
to the cruise crowd. Come on, peoplebe considerate!

 One of many historical signs on board, this one
about how the ship kept children entertained.

 The running path on board was deck 7, the only deck that encircled
the ship. Three laps roughly equaled one mile. I ran it twice; a third day I had 
to run on a treadmill at the gym due to wet weather.

Time-lapse of one (walking) lap around deck 7.


 To photograph this long banner asking other ships to keep a safe distance,
I had to stretch my arm out over the water. 
If that seems reckless, it wont compared to this.


 During the second-to-last dinner, the 160+ chefs who worked in 
the biggest restaurant on the ship were invited out 
for a hearty round of applause.




 My second ship lecture (but first while seasick).

 Showing off Eliza Wheeler’s bewitching illustrator photo
for Fairy Spell.

 Hard to tell here, but I had a bigger turnout for the second 
lecture. 


 Ship lectures were filmed to be broadcast on a loop
on a channel on the stateroom TVs. 



 My wife took this postcard-ready photo on the day the sea
was roughest.

The ship going under the Verrazano Bridge (3-foot clearance)
in New York.

 Pulling into New York at sunrise.

 Posing with spare propellers.

Back in the USA.
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