Reading: Nerd Links for June 26-July 2 2016

Comic Book Resources Interviews writers Julie and Shawna Benson and artist Claire Roe:  CBR talks to the creators of the new run of The Birds of Prey.  Makes me wish I would have given the Birds of Prey show from the turn of the century a chance.

Why It’s So Great that Ta-Nehisi Coates is Writing Black Panther:  Jordon Minor of Geek.com explains how he fell in love with comic books because of Mr. Coates approach to his new Black Panther run. Mr. Minor’s thoughts often echo my own about the new run, which is wildly positive, especially since I’m new to Black Panther.

The Politics of Marvel’s Black Panther:  The above story sent me to this well written look at the history and politics of Black Panther by Evan Narcisse.  T’Challa, the Black Panther, is the King of Wakanda so by nature he has to be political when he is doing his day job. He also, more than any other character on the Marvel roster, collides with real world issues which Narcisse discuss in detail. More importantly, it made me want to go back and read older Black Panther stories.

Where Have All the Good Men Gone and Where are All the Gods? Reflections on the Rifts in Superhero Fandom:  Andrew Wheeler discusses the fandom fatigue with dark comics, which started with Watchmen. He doesn’t blame Watchmen, but it did spawn plenty of writers who think that’s how all comics should be. He also laments that every major event in the Marvel Universe in the last decade has been Hero vs Hero stories. He calls for more hope in supehero comics, especially with the big two.  He calls for more inclusion and for stories not to be so hyper-masculine. This would make it more in line with its readers which is showing a growth in all the underrepresented minorities in comics (i.e. everyone but white males). I don’t agree with every point he makes, but he does have a point.  

Word Ballon Podcast Dan Jurgens on Superman’s DC Rebirth: John Siuntres, whose podcasts are a treasure trove of information for comic book fans, talks with Superman writer Dan Jurgens.

Louisiana During World War II: A documentary written by Jerry P. Sanson of LSU at Alexandria and directed, edited and narrated by William B. Robison. Dr. Robison was one Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple’s professors during her undergrad and graduate days at Southeastern Louisiana University.  Many of her professors during her time there, as well as many others from around the state, are featured in the video.  The link takes you to the 1st video of the series which are all on youtube.

NOLA-ing: Memorial Day Options

Unknown Soldier Marker at the American Cemetery In Normandy France

Unknown Soldier Marker at the American Cemetery In Normandy France

Memorial Day: Living in New Orleans, we have access to one of the best museums in the world with the WWII Museum.  Starting as the D-Day Museum, it has expanded to preserve the history of the entire war. Having been to Normandy, we truly enjoy the European theater section especially the part on D-Day.  However, the Pacific section is just as well done, and we learn something every time we go.  While they have many events scheduled on Memorial Day itself, this would be a good weekend to take a visit.

OPA!: The New Orleans Greek Fest is this weekend, and we cannot recommend it highly enough.  First, you cannot go wrong with the food.  The spring lamb is one of the best festival foods you can get at any festival.  If you have never tried Greek food, this is a good place to start.  The Greek Dinner gives you a good sampler, and the goat burger is better than most festival burgers. There are tons of activities at the Festival, such as a 5K, canoeing, dancing, and live music.  We thoroughly enjoyed the Cathedral tour, so make sure you put that on your agenda.

Traveling: Normandy, Day 1

The next morning was an early morning and when we landed in Normandy, we landed at Sword Beach, where the British 101st Airborne launched their invasion on D-Day. Our first stop was to Pegasus Bridge, where, right after midnight on 6 June 1944, the British 6th Airborne Division, pulled in by gliders that basically crash-landed on specific targets, captured two important bridges. The bridge over the Caen Canal was renamed Pegasus Bridge in their honor (it was their insignia). The campaign, led by John Howard, was imperative in cutting off the Germans from supplies and for not letting them get more troops across the Orne River and it’s sister canal. The plan was successful, the bridges remained intact, and the Allies gained a strong foothold in Normandy.

Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal, Café Gondrée

The reconstructed Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal, with Café Gondrée in the background.

Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal

Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal

Not only did we get to see Pegasus Bridge, but we also saw Café Gondrée, where the Gondrée family acted as spies in the resistance against the Nazis. It’s still run by their daughter, a feisty lady still very proud of her family’s legacy, as she rightly should be.

At Pegasus Bridge, we picked up Martin Morgan, a D-Day aficionado. The knowledge he possesses is unreal, and I was somewhat dumbstruck just listening to the history he espoused. I yearn to be that knowledgeable on some subject. He was a real asset and treat for the remainder of the Normandy leg of the trip.

We then went to a small museum, where they housed the original Pegasus Bridge and sign (the bridge was replaced in 1994, the sign in 2002), in addition to the remains of an actual glider used on D-Day. Well worth it to see such an exciting piece of history. I’m so happy our professor assigned us the Pegasus Bridge book by Stephen Ambrose as one of our required readings, because after learning the history of Pegasus Bridge, it made the trip there even more exciting and poignant.

Pegasus Bridge

The original Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge

The original Pegasus Bridge: You can see the bullet marks on the wall.

HORSA Glider

Part of a HORSA Glider used on D-Day. They were completely made of wood, with no engine of their own. Scary.

After a drive through Juno Beach, which is where the Canadians landed and was the second deadliest beach (Omaha was the first), we saw a circular cinema experience of D-Day called the Arromanches 360. It tells the story of the Battle for Normandy on 9 screens, without any narration. Thus, you become immersed in the experience, listening to Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and even Hitler, and the story is told through images, video, and radio recordings. I thought it was a powerful experience and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bring a tear to my eye. The only thing, having it on 9 screens that encircle you, is you feel like you’re missing something on a screen opposite from where you’re looking (though they did pair similar images on all the screens). Definitely something new and different to see each time you view it, and if I ever go back, I will be viewing it again.

Arromanches 360 view of Gold Beach

Arromanches 360: view of Gold Beach from across the theater

Arromanches 360 view of Gold Beach and Mulberry harbor

Arromanches 360: view of Gold Beach and Mulberry harbor

Out in the water at Gold Beach, you could still see the remnants of the artificial, makeshift ports/piers/harbors called Mulberry Harbors. Basically, the Allies sunk heavy cement and then built a pier out to the ships, since the beaches were not conducive as ports for unloading ships.

Mulberry harbor at Gold Beach

Mulberry harbor at Gold Beach

Gold Beach

Gold Beach

After lunch, we found a shop selling dug up D-Day paraphernalia and bought an unopened Allied first aid kit and a Nazi playing card. We then went to explore old German bunkers and gun stations. Made almost entirely of cement, these fortifications still stand today, as do some of the big guns.

German guns in Normandy

German guns in Normandy

German Bunker in Normandy

German Bunker in Normandy

Just looking at the beautiful landscape, completely surrounded by gorgeous wildflowers, with the picturesque beach in the background, it was so hard to imagine that such atrocities and bloodshed occurred not even 70 years ago. My grandparents are older than 70…this occurred in their lifetime. My head sometimes has trouble wrapping around this fact…how different the world was. I cannot imagine a war breaking out in Europe today, with a maniacal dictator at the helm, hell bent on domination. I think that is why it is important for us to never forget…history is doomed to repeat itself if people become too complacent, too relaxed. They start to glorify war, romanticizing it, without truly understanding what war entails. It scares me to think, especially in this day and age with nuclear weapons, that another world war could occur, and that some people today clamor for it.

Picking me a wildflower

Picking me a wildflower

German outposts against a beautiful Norman field

German outposts against a beautiful Norman field

German outposts against a beautiful Norman field

How can such ugliness exist in such a beautiful world?

Sorry for the tangent, but seeing and experiencing Normandy, the beaches, the graveyards…it changes it you. It affects you profoundly. It makes you see things in different ways. I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to witness this in person. I’m tearing up just writing this…

Okay, back to the trip. After checking out the German remnants, we visited the German Military Cemetery for the Germans that died from 1939-1945, located in La Cambe. It was very enlightening to see the other side of the war. These young men that died, some of them had no choice but to join the Nazi regime. Above all else, they were people, and the decent thing to do is to bury them properly and respect the sanctity of a life lost, even if it was for the “wrong” side. In death, everyone is equal.

German War Cemetery at La Cambe

German War Cemetery at La Cambe

German War Cemetery at La Cambe

German War Cemetery at La Cambe

German War Cemetery at La Cambe

German War Cemetery at La Cambe

One famous Nazi, Michael Wittmann, is buried there (famous for his tank tactics).

Michael Wittmann buried at the German War Cemetery at La Cambe

Michael Wittmann buried at the German War Cemetery at La Cambe

I think I’ll split our Normandy days in two. It was emotionally taxing to write today, and tomorrow is another day full of raw emotion, pride, and awe.

 

Traveling: Portsmouth aka Peace and Safety

Our time in London, one of my favorite cities, draws to a close as the next leg on our adventure begins. Today we departed for Portsmouth to set sail across the English Channel on a ferry for Normandy. But first, we stopped at the Southwick House near Portsmouth. The Southwick House is the country house where, on 5 June 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower made the historic and risky decision to launch the  D-Day invasion. What makes the Southwick House awesome is that not only do you need a special appointment to even visit it, since it’s located on a Royal Military Police base, but it also still has the maps that Eisenhower used to plan the D-Day invasion.

Southwick House: Eisenhower's D-Day Headquarters

Southwick House: Eisenhower’s D-Day Headquarters

Southwick House: Eisenhower's Original Map

Southwick House: Eisenhower’s Original Map

Southwick House: Eisenhower's Original Map

Southwick House: Eisenhower’s Original Map and I’m standing right by the Normandy beaches, the planned invasion spot

Now here’s a cool story about the map. Eisenhower and his men needed a giant wall map of England and the French coast in order to plan the invasion. They needed something durable enough to withstand constantly moving pieces as they changed and replanned the invasion. They decided to use the type of material from which companies make games boards, so they hired two gamemakers into their service. In order to keep the details of the invasion a secret, the gamemakers had to make a giant map of all of Europe. Eisenhower kept the pieces he needed and discarded the rest, and the gamemakers were basically quarantined so they couldn’t talk. Talk about making a risky game…the decision to launch D-Day was extremely risky, and Eisenhower had no idea if it was the right decision…but thankfully, it all paid off in the end.

We then headed to Portsmouth. After eating lunch at The Ship Anson, which was just pub food, we went to the D-Day Museum with the Overlord Embroidery. The short film was well worth it, and the Embroidery of D-Day was awe-inspiring. Think of a modern day Bayeux Tapestry. Some of the panels were truly beautiful. The museum was more of the same as we’ve seen, not much different then our National World War II Museum in New Orleans. One big highlight was that there was a veteran in the museum, and we all sat down and listened to his first-hand story. He joined the war effort a bit later, around 1944 since that is when he turned 16, and worked as an electrician in the Navy. He was hilarious, completely flirting with the girls and giving them big hugs. He asked Kurt where we were from, and we said New Orleans where the food is good, and he pointed to my chest and said,”I can see!” and just laughed. These girls aren’t just from the food, but thanks for the compliment, I guess…?

D-Day Museum at Portsmouth

Everyone listening to the WWII veteran at the D-Day Museum at Portsmouth

D-Day Museum at Portsmouth

The WWII veteran at the D-Day Museum at Portsmouth. Unfortunately, I did not catch his name. He was a hoot, however. He made me retake his picture because he said he didn’t look good in the first one and his medals weren’t being shown off enough. 🙂

View of the water behind the D-Day Museum at Portsmouth

View of the water behind the D-Day Museum at Portsmouth

We then went to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and went aboard the HMS Victory, a 250 year old ship, famous for, among other things, where Admiral Lord Nelson fell and died in 1805. It was very impressive to see the guts of the ship like that. I was surprised at how small some of the doorways/roofs were; Kurt even hit his head coming down the stairs! If ships or naval history entices you, then you cannot pass up the chance to go aboard this fabulous old ship.

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Inside the HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Tribute to Admiral Lord Nelson in the HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Tribute to Admiral Lord Nelson in the HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

After sneaking a kiss to King Henry VIII, and wishing we could have went to the new Mary Rose Museum since it houses many Tudor artifacts, we ventured to Gunwharf Quays, which was like an outdoor mall. It was nearing closing time, so we didn’t shop, though I did get the most delicious and cheap chocolate strawberries ever. The lot of us decided to go back to The Ship Anson to drink/have dinner. I chose an Aspall Cyder, which was delicious, though not as delicious as this apple juice tasting thing some others shared. I could not taste the alcohol…very dangerous for an ex-lush like me. Luckily, the Aspall was enough, and I paired it with Pancakes and Ice Cream…super yummy. Kurt ate a Steak and Ale Pie, which looked good as well, but was too heavy for me to eat. He also drank a Greene King IPA, which he enjoyed very much, but I don’t really care for IPAs.

King Henry VIII at Portsmouth Dockyard

Gazing lovingly at my favorite tyrant, King Henry VIII at Portsmouth Dockyard

Steak and Ale Pie at The Ship Anson

Steak and Ale Pie at The Ship Anson

Aspall Cyder

Extremely tasty Aspall Cyder

We then boarded the ferry, which was definitely more like a cruise ship. I don’t know what I was expecting, I guess along the lines of an overnight train, but this was way bigger and fancier. After exploring a bit, Kurt and I were pooped, so we hit the sheets early. Tomorrow begins our two days in Normandy, something I am looking very much forward to! Until then, peace and safety, everyone.

Ferry from Portsmouth, England to Normandy, France

Our “ferry” aka cruise ship from Portsmouth, England to Normandy, France

Ferry from Portsmouth, England to Normandy, France

Aboard the ferry from Portsmouth, England to Normandy, France…goodbye, England! Until we meet again. 🙂