Who’s Up for Packing a Year’s Worth of Conventions into Three Months?

Tom Hiddleston from TV's "Loki"!

That time Anne and I met TV’s Loki at Ace Comic Con Midwest 2018 remains among our all-time favorite extravagances and we will never, ever stop finding reasons to share it.

Hey, you guys remember that time when we used to attend comic-cons and entertainment conventions and they were fun, and then we posted photos and those were fun too? Heh. Yeah, that, uh, that was awesome.

Then came the pandemic. The body counts rose worldwide, long-term illnesses wrecked many a survivor, everyone stayed home and all event calendars were wiped clean, tossed into File 13 and set afire. Our last show was GalaxyCon Louisville in November 2019. We skipped C2E2 the following February because the guest list didn’t wow us and, frankly, who loves a con in Chicago wintertime? After that, every con we know either scrapped their 2020 plans or kept postponing and postponing and postponing, biding their time until either vaccines or alien saviors cleared a path back to geek normalcy.

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Not Put Asunder, 17 Years and Counting

Mitchell Corn Palace!

JAZZ-HANDS PHOTOS WILL RETURN IN 2021.

It’s that time again! Another year of shockingly blissful marriage to the amazing Anne. This year I can even tell people we survived a pandemic together.

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Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Black Widow” End Credits

Marvel's Black Widows!

Never, ever mess with war Widows.

Nearly a decade in the making and fourteen months in the releasing, the next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here at long last, two years after Spider-Man: Far From Home capped off Phase III in theaters. Fans had to content themselves with Marvel’s new above-average TV fare on Disney+ (or, I guess, some comics) until the world was ready for Black Widow…or at least a lot of the world. Calling them “most of the world” might be an overstatement considering the pandemic has not yet been called off in numerous countries and states. Alternatively, Disney+ subscribers who can’t wait for the home video release in October can cough up thirty bucks and slightly expand that virtual library of above-average TV fare.

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When Words Failed the Spelling Bee Contender

Charlie Brown in the spelling bee!

That time in February 1966 when Charlie Brown thought he’d win friends and respect through good spelling. Today’s internet would eat him alive.

A lot of other middle-aged guys have cherished memories of the good ol’ days when they were on sports teams and won games and fame and attention, followed decades later by the deep frustration with how their athletic-hero phase was temporary, the pinnacle of those wonder years left far behind.

Me? For a few proud minutes, I had spelling bees. Recent headlines, in particular the exciting news that the National Spelling Bee at long last had its first Black American winner this week, dredged up a few of my own recollections and regrets.

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“A Quiet Place Part II”: Prolonging the Silence

A Quiet Place Part II

Sometimes it’s just nice to get out of the house.

If you and your loved ones are still debating whether or not it’s time to return to theaters and leave the safety zone where you’ve been harbored for the past year, might I suggest starting with the simplest of creature comforts? Emphasis on the “creature”.

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Our 2021 Road Trip: Six Teaser Images on the Go

President Obama statue!

Barack Obama and daughter Sasha say hi! He’s one of 43 different statues of past American Presidents (along with at least two bonus non-President statues) standing on downtown street corners in Rapid City, South Dakota. [UPDATED 7/5/2021 per comments and online verification.]

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife…

…and so on. Thus begin variations on the same intro I’ve been using for over eight years and rewritten countless times. I’ll be tweaking it again for this year’s road trip series when it starts, but first:

  • I have a backlog of other entries in mind that ought to be done before I return to that annual tradition.
  • After 2600 miles on the road and seven full days away from real keyboards, I’ll need to remember how to type with these Ben Grimm fingers of mine.
  • Speaking of which, we should actually finish the vacation itself.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 8 of 8: Mondo Muncie Miscellany

peach crisp, Neely House.

A shared dessert of peach crisp at the Neely House in Muncie. Mmmm, sugar.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

…with which we were nearly done and largely satisfied by the time we left the grounds of Minnetrista. Before we left town, we needed food and more art. Muncie offers a cornucopia of both.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 7 of 8: Nature and Other Valuables

Indiana purple flower.

Longtime MCC readers may recall I’m not great at identifying pretty flowers. This might be a thistle? the ones in Skyrim are flatter.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

Lest I fixate too much on the Bob Ross Experience, Minnetrista has more to offer the Muncie community and guests like us. Their welcome center has rotated exhibits since our last visit in 2014, but their springtime outdoor decor game remains competitive.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 6 of 8: Tangents from the Joy of Painting

blue butterfly art.

I gaze upon this large backyard butterfly and I smile as I’m reminded of Skyrim.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

The tour of the original house where PBS legend Bob Ross filmed his cult-classic instructional/mediational series The Joy of Painting up in Muncie was the centerpiece of my birthday weekend, but creativity continued to surround us as we left the Lucius L Ball Home and explored more of the Minnetrista grounds. We didn’t have to walk any farther than the Ball House’s backyard to find inspiration and tranquility, much of it geared toward kids who might prefer an augmented outdoor setting to indoor history.

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The Spring Birthday 2021 Trip, Part 5 of 8: Maximum Bob Ross

Bob Ross landscape.

If 2021 is the year we’re all looking for palliatives for our 2020 mental health issues, might I suggest a few contemplative minutes with some happy little trees?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. Last year my birthday trip was among the billions of traditions ruined by the pandemic, all of which paled in significance to the millions of lives lost (and still counting). This year is a different story. Anne and I have each received our pairs of Pfizer shots and reached full efficacy as of April 24th. This past Friday and Saturday the two of us drove out of Indianapolis and found a few places to visit in our eminently imitable road-trip fashion…

For my birthday weekend seven years ago we drove up to the city of Muncie, mostly known to folks outside Indiana as the favorite vacation destination of the Gergich family from TV’s Parks and Rec. Among our other May 2014 highlights we visited Minnetrista, Muncie’s leading cultural center, art venue, community gathering space, and gracious host for a Saturday morning farmers’ market during the nicer seasons. In 2020 they added a new exhibit to honor a man whose celebrated works of simple aestheticism and encouraging entertainment were painted and recorded in a building on their very campus when I was a kid.

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