Midlife Crisis Crossover 2012 in Review, Assuming the Next Thirteen Days are a Complete Write-Off

Midlife Crisis Crossover was launched April 28, 2012, as a creative attempt to do something different with my spare time, my ostensible talents, and four decades of accumulated monumental mistakes and mental minutiae. Though it wasn’t my first blog, it was my first time attempting a blog without an immediate support system or preexisting audience. The MCC experience has been eight curious months of dedication, persistence, failures, sleep deprivation, loneliness, stubbornness, prayer, and occasional wild luck. Over the course of the first 240 posts I’ve discovered new peers, made new friends, learned new things about myself and HTML, improved 2% at photography, and remembered one or two stylistic rules I’d forgotten since college, with several more still repressed and yet to be rediscovered.

Empty Obama Chair, Clint Eastwood's arch-enemy

The infamous empty chair, a.k.a. “Obamachair”

The WordPress.com Weekly Writing Challenge has encouraged us to look back at our year and remember where we’ve been. Even before I began assembling my MCC year-end lists, I already knew which post would top most of them: “The Day an Empty Chair Ruled the Internet” was the watershed event that drew the most Likes, Comments, and Shares (and nearly the most traffic) of anything else I’ve written this year, arguably even in my full thirteen years of Internet participation, thanks in large part to its “Freshly Pressed” status that saw it spotlighted for all WordPress users to see over Labor Day weekend.

For its outstanding achievement of Attracting an Audience, “Empty Chair” is the first and only entry in the MCC Hall of Fame, even though it was about political events and my incredulous disdain for same. If we set it aside in a class by itself, my memories of 2012 look like so:

* * * * *


1. GenCon 2012 Photos, Episode 2 of 4: Media Guests and More Costumes!
2. GenCon 2012 Photos #1: Costumes! Costumes! Costumes!
3. GenCon 2012 Photos, Part 3 of 4: Last of the Famous International Costumes
4. They Might Be Giants Dance Number on “Bunheads” Wins My TV Week, and It’s Only Monday
5. Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Brave” End Credits

I conclude from these results that I must now attend GenCon every year for the rest of my life, or at least repost photos from my previous GenCons and turn MCC into a real party.

Those same five posts also constitute my Most Popular Posts of 2012 in terms of traffic, except the order becomes 5, 2, 1, 4, 3. Believe it or not, GenCon traffic at its height even trumped my “Empty Chair” traffic, thanks to shots of a very special gathering of League of Legends cosplayers, indisputably the greatest gamers of all time.


1. “Very Inspiring Blogging Award” Nominee Begins Saving Up for Full-Page “Variety” Ad
2. GenCon 2012 Photos, Episode 2 of 4: Media Guests and More Costumes!
3. A Photo Salute to Green, Before it Retreats into Hibernation for the Winter
4. (tie) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Trick-or-Treaters
4. (tie) How Not to Drop Out of College Twice
4. (tie) Grateful for “Freshly Pressed” Status, Hoping Not to Turn into Egomaniacal One-Hit Wonder

Extremely gracious thanks are owed to my most regular commenters/supporters who help drive away the forces of evil, overbearing Internet silence, and to any other non-bot non-spammer who wants to reply to anything ever.


1. A Photo Salute to Green, Before it Retreats into Hibernation for the Winter
2. Reflections in a Giant Magic Bean
3. 2012 Road Trip Photos #37: Tow Mater Welcomes You to Route 66
4. (tie) 2012 Road Trip Photos #27: Lamar, Colorado — Last Stop, This State
5. (tie) 2012 Road Trip Photos #28: Kansas Flatland Interlude

Conclusion: people love photos. Creative captioning helps, not to mentioning posting them during prime Internet usage hours instead of in the middle of the night.

In a very special category of its own: the hardest post to write all year was “Aurora.” It wasn’t the greatest epic ever, but writing it while stifling emotional reactions kept me up till after 2 a.m. In retrospect, I’m saddened that my reaction to Newtown has been muted by comparison, possibly even repressed.

Speaking of things that haunt me:


These are the five most recent posts to elicit zero Comments, zero Likes, and zero reactions from the Viewers at Home. None of them even got so much as a token pity-Like. These all occurred before “Empty Chair”, kept me humble, and probably ruined my mood the next day. They were either lousy, offensive, useless, or just published under a bad sign.

1. Wizard World Chicago 2012 Photos, Part 2 of 5: Sci-Fi Actors Ahoy!

Readers love convention costume photos. Pics of the actors and comics creators, not so much.

2. “Dark Knight Rises”: in Three Hours Batman Will Rise, But Results Will Vary

My movie reviews are often too long and laborious, even when I break them down into bullet points.

3. How Not to Respond to Aurora: a Plainspoken Primer for Pundit Pretenders

Too soon.

4. My Geek Demerits #3: Speaking and Writing Without Cursing

Who doesn’t love an Internet opinion that represents an extremist minority? Answer: everyone.

5. Pixar to Spend Billions Making 350 Versions of “Monsters U”, One for Each Billy Crystal Ad-Lib

When I put more work into the title than into the post itself, you can just tell.

We close the MCC Year in Review with two photos. The first is my hands-down favorite moment of the year, previously presented in 2012 Road Trip Photos #17 — standing 14,000 feet above sea level upon scenic, thin-aired Pikes Peak. This too-brief moment resembled absolutely no other minute of my life. Highly recommended.

me on Pikes Peak

The other photo has never been posted on MCC until now, because I’ve had trouble finding a premise. My favorite photo that I personally took this year was at my wife’s cousin’s college graduation party. Her amazing, craft-minded boyfriend designed a super-sized Jenga set that stood over five feet high with its base, made entirely from wood blocks scaled to exacting proportions. If we’d been careless, this thing could’ve injured or killed someone.

We were careful, but sooner or later someone had to lose. The impact was jarring, but a blast to watch.


Mega-Jenga endgame!

Here’s hoping Mega-Jenga isn’t symbolic of my future writing adventures.

Thanks for reading! See you in 2013.

34 responses

  1. Randall, this is a terrific year in review post, not the run-of-the-mill rehash my own look back most certainly would have been if I’d made the effort to do it. I think it says volumes that you know what readers enjoyed and why posts that didn’t get the response you’d hoped for still needed to be written. Love the Jenga pic, of course you knew I would, and that you are part of my must reads. Whether I comment or not, whether I hit like or not, I read your posts. Some are long, some are uproariously funny, some make me think, all have given me my own reasons to keep writing. There are only a few male voices that I don’t immediately call BS, yours is one. Don’t take that lightly, it’s that rare.
    I hope 2013 brings you everything you wish for and some good stuff you don’t even know exists yet. All the best to you and your family, now and always.


    • I’m having trouble wording my tremendous appreciation for the extremely kind words, and for the support and feedback you’ve given me this year. There’s a certain cheery but candid straightforwardness in your writing, whether in comments or in your own work, that’s always a joy to read and respond to. I’ve had the same experience with your blog in kind — reading each entry and finding something hilarious, incisive, or just plain entertaining to liven up my day, even if I’m not pounding on the Like button like a weird stalker. Best wishes to you ‘n’ yours as well for the upcoming year, and congrats on your school plans!


      • Bowing to you now Randall. Peace in our time, in our minds, in our homes and schools. It takes every kindness we can muster to get through it all with some dignity. We are awesome! Yes we are! 🙂 I appreciate you too.


  2. Heh … very awesome way to end the year. I’d do that on my blog but sorting through the data and making those value judgments is almost too much like work. I applaud your moxie.

    Certainly, a highlight of my year was meeting you (seriously!) and your giving me an epiphany as to the real reason I should dress up like fairly obscure comic book characters (hint: it ain’t for my ego alone, but for the happiness of those around me). Plus, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of your blogs.

    You have a splendid Christmas holiday and if the Mayans don’t kill us all, maybe I’ll do a year-end blog too … BIG maybe on that one.


    • Those pesky Mayans. I hate them SO MUCH.

      Your rendition of Uncle Marvel was without a doubt one of my favorite sights of the year. it was an original choice, excellently executed (even if some young whippersnappers didn’t get it), and I had fun explaining the Marvel Family to my wife, who only knows of SHAZAM! from the live-action TV show. Enjoyment of inspired costumes is a big deal for her and myself.

      And thanks for the kinds words! That means quite a lot to me coming from a pro like yourself. Since GenCon I’ve been following your blog and enjoying those nuggets of wisdom and experience. Much appreciated.

      Happy holidays to you, too! See ya in 2013!


    • I could feel it trying to get me down, but I just kept hydrating and rehydrating until I staved it off. Wolfing down a few extra fried donuts from the Summit House atop Pikes Peak didn’t seem to hurt, either. 😀


  3. Your talents are not only ostensible, but downright impressive, I daresay. Great writing! And those snowflake thingies in the background make me feel all warm and giggly. Thanks for that.


  4. I appreciate your extensive and exhaustive self-analysis. I want you to know, though, that at least one other person (me) shares your sentiments from “#4. My Geek Demerits #3: Speaking and Writing Without Cursing”. I’ve come to tolerate cursing as an unnecessary but prevalent evil I must endure, but I still think it (almost always) represents a lazy and unimaginative mind.


    • Thank you. Sincerely, thank you for that. It was a piece I wrote when an online friend pressed me on the subject, because — much as he and I get along and agree on a wide variety of topics — this is one area where he and I disagree. It’s nice to know someone understood. (He kind of did, too, but I can’t say it brought about a change of heart. Alas.)


    • Too, too true. I appreciate the sentiment. I wasted far too much of my youth doing that very thing. In that sense, I was my own worst bully. I’m kinder to myself now, but I do try to learn from my missteps, too.


    • Thanks for the kind words. It hasn’t been easy sticking with it, especially in the early days when my readership consisted of my wife, two longtime Internet friends, and any passing spambots. Working at it has meant a lot of sleepless nights, ignoring my other hobbies, and occasionally smashing my head against my keyboard…but it’s been a surprisingly interesting trip.


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