paced impatiently in his cavernous space of an office, a picture of frustration. He had sworn he would not watch the performance. But somehow the enormous panel of flat-screen televisions, occupying an entire wall of the office, was on. And against all odds, and out of all the options, the cooking shows and do-it-yourself channels, it was on one of the dozen or so channels broadcasting the concert. Yes, Luthor's arch-enemy, Superman
had composed a piano concerto
, and was preparing to perform it on live national television as a tribute to "the goodness of the people of Metropolis
As if it was not bad enough that Superman had dropped out of the sky to show humankind how weak and stupid we are by comparison to him, Luthor fumed. Now he goes and writes a concerto to show us how inferior we are in talent as well. Surely he had done this simply to get back at Luthor for that interview in which Luthor made that very point, that Superman's very existence diminished and denigrated humanity.
The first note rang out, a stirring pomp
. A bit ham-handed, Luthor reflected, but promising a great swelling of notes to come. But then.... they didn't. The piece went straight to crescendo
-- too early!! Wait, was this yet some advance on a clever variation to come? He waited, almost hopeful despite himself, but.... No!! The piece simply repeated its refrain, in four predictable variations, repeated three predictable times, and then a fourth time with an equally predictable softening and lowering of tempo
. Luthor was unexpectedly beside himself with glee-- the piece was.... boring!! Better yet, it was vaguely derivative of any of a dozen of the lesser lights of composing history. The main progression was practically lifted from Beethoven's fourth, with no more than minor changes (and bad changes at that, oversimplification of the motif and a backing note repeated too powerfully, too many times. Too many horns in this part, no subtlety, no invigorating dance of the violins to resurrect the thing. It was a piece which died on the draft of its notes, and never to be rescussitated.
Superman, the Man of Steel, the People's Hero.... had written a bad concerto!! Luthor cackled aloud at the spectre of it. He even thought of picking up the phone to make sure some key music critics would be persuaded to savage the piece, but quickly decided that he need do nothing of the sort. Some critics would politely praise the performance, but it was bad enough to carry itself into disrepute amongst any credible authority on classical composition.
, clad in her finest concert-going gown, trundled up the steps to her downtown brownstone
, shellshocked by the boring lack of magnificence in Superman's performance earlier that night. She stopped in the hallway, realizing that muffled musical notes could be heard from inside her apartment -- had she left the radio on and forgotten? Had the cat stepped on the remote control and turned on the television? She opened the door and there he was! Superman, sitting at a piano in the middle of her living room, playing a tune -- much different from the one he had centered his concerto on, this was a really good one, lively and surprising in his flawless rendition of the piece.
"Hi Lois," he nodded with a subtle smile and only the slightest raising of his eyebrow, a not missing a beat in his performance. Jumping to the unasked question, he nodded toward the piano; "it's from the Met. They've let me borrow it for a few hours."
Lois's jaw dropped. "You wrote that?" she asked of the piece he now performed. He knew he didn't need to answer the question, as the pieces came together in her mind, honed sharp through years of investigate reporting. "You wrote the bad one on purpose." She tilted her head quizzically. "Why?"
Superman shrugged, "Lex Luthor was right when he labeled me an outsider in that interview. I've come here from somemplace else, and I make people feel like they are lesser people, simply because I was born with a few advantages."
"So," Lois replied, her brow furrowed in increduilty, "you wrote a lousy concerto so that people would still feel there were things they could do better than Superman."
His present performace coming to a lilting, uplifting end, he rose from the bench, and smiled. "But I couldn't let you
think as poorly of me. Now, I believe we have dinner reservations at your favorite restaurant?" They prepared to head out for then date -- but suddenly Superman cocked his head and declared, "a distress
call!! Sorry Lois, I have to fly." She began to protest the state in which he was leaving things, but he quickly called back, "I'll come back for the piano as soon as I can!!" And then, he was gone, disappearing into the night sky as he had done so many times before.
Lois Lane glanced across her rearranged living room, now centrally occupied by a grand piano. "Superman," she muttered to herself, shaking her head in bemusement, "you are just a pill