So. This is 50, then. Time to ramble like an old!
(We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.)
So. This is 50, then. Time to ramble like an old!
(We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.)
Dateline: Monday, May 16, 2022 – Tonight I stepped foot on the campus of Butler University for the first time in 19 years because the Neil Gaiman thoughtfully included Indianapolis on his current cross-country speaking tour, and Clowes Hall was the venue of choice for the occasion. In exchange for this rare opportunity, strict rules were implemented. Rule #1: Masks were required. Freebies were handed out to those who needed them. No problem: I brought my own.
Rule #2: No photos or video during the performance. This isn’t an unusual or oppressive rule to me (especially not video — no pivoting to same on this website), but whenever this rule is laid down and I’m itching to share the story online, most venues have something I can photograph as a memento of the event in lieu of the performers themselves — a marquee, a billboard, a cardboard standee, any kind of one-night-only visual prop as evidence that a festive occasion was in store. Clowes Hall had absolutely nothing. We might as well have been walking into calculus class.
It’s that time of year again, but slightly delayed on my part! Saturday, May 7th was the 21st Free Comic Book Day, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or in rare instances real-world protagonists. It’s one of the best holidays ever for hobbyists like me who’ve been comics readers since the days when drugstores sold them for thirty-five cents each and comic book movies were sad, cheapskate abominations.
Each year comic shops lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration. After the online-only FCBD of 2020 A.P. (Annus Pandemus) and the delayed-gratification post-vaccine FCBD of August 2021, this year’s model returned to the traditional observance on the first weekend in May. Also per tradition, a major comic-book movie was released the same weekend and sucked up an awful lot of my free time that otherwise might’ve been spent reading and then writing-about-reading.
by Anne Golden, MCC Staff.
EDITOR’S NOTE: My wife Anne has contributed to our past ten years’ entries in a variety of ways — photography, ideas, punchlines, caper-partnering, next-day proofreading, encouraging, fact-checking, nitpicking, and so on. She otherwise generally prefers to enjoy the site as a reader rather than as a separately credited blogger. This entry is a special case: she’s MCC’s very first Guest Blogger, though “guest” feels a tad off the mark. Except for light editing and two jokes, these paragraphs are all hers.
Her essay is aimed at fellow Star Trek viewers, whether they love or loathe Patrick Stewart’s further adventures so far, and presumes familiarity with common fan abbreviations for the various shows. And, relevant fun trivia noted previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, Q is one of her Top 3 Favorite Fictional Characters of All Time. Suffice it to say the season finale struck a nerve. This entry is a rumination attempting to make sense of a tale that frequently didn’t make sense and in some ways still doesn’t. It’s a contemplation. It’s a eulogy. It’s a catharsis.
(Courtesy spoiler warning if you haven’t seen season 2 in general or the finale in particular.)
A coworker of mine was invited to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on opening weekend despite the fact that she’d never watched a single Marvel product in her life. While I chuckled for a few minutes and mentally judged the invitee for his selfish chutzpah, another coworker generally on the same pop-culture page as me graciously tried to recap both the first Doctor Strange and Spider-Man: No Way Home in hopes that it might give her the slightest help before being dragged into the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s kind to show someone how to dog-paddle at least a little before they’re shoved into the deep end of the pool by some dude eagerly looking forward to giving her swimming lessons while she’s drowning. Oh, the gleeful countdown he probably kept in his head for days until that heroic moment when he could point at Benedict Cumberbatch onscreen and proudly, loudly whisper to her, “That’s Doctor Strange!”
Meanwhile, I’m unhelpfully daydreaming how this exchange might’ve been twice as entertaining, but only half as helpful, if at all helpful, if coworker #2 had delivered the recap in the style of Ant-Man’s pal Luis. I am arguably an enabler of the problem here.
It’s just the Dolby Cinema sensory overload talking (ten days later, even), but my favorite thing about The Northman is it may be the closest I ever get to Skyrim: The Motion Picture. Granted, in his painstaking simulation of a savage tenth-century Scandinavia, co-writer/director Robert Eggers has omitted dragons, magic, nonhuman races, skill leveling, heavy armor, and evil demon gods. Such is the movie biz, where compromise is inevitable and was definitely not a Viking invention.
Not counting animated gigs (ranked by quality and in reverse release order: Spider-Verse, The Croods, Astro Boy) the last time I paid to see Nicolas Cage’s distorted face live on a theater screen was 2009’s Knowing, which I’d forgotten existed till just now. I suspect I’m not alone in having given up on Cage’s career after he descended from the ranks of Oscar-winning A-listers to join the Redbox human-running-gag lineup as the easiest possible means to solve his gargantuan tax and debt issues. Once upon a time it would’ve been the second-easiest means, right after “do an A-list film for an A-list paycheck”.
Now that he’s officially announced himself debt-free, the next obvious step is a comeback tour. For me that journey began last year with Pig, such a lovely little heartbreaker of a film that I wish I’d seen it sooner so I could’ve ranked it highly in one of my year-in-review lists. That apparently wasn’t enough to win back the hearts of millions of forsakers, though. Perhaps its sincerity and low violence quotient frightened and confused younger Cage fans who simply assumed he too was battling elder abuse and aphasia. Hence the comeback tour’s Plan B: whimsical self-deprecation.
Thus the face of the dude who might be the new Hardest-Working Man in Showbiz returns to theaters in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent courtesy of writer/director Tom Gormican (a creator of the short-lived Adam Scott/Craig Robinson misfire Ghosted) and co-writer Kevin Etten (Comedy Central’s Workaholics). Rather than stand aloof while the internet mocks him with every new release, why not lean into the mockery and subvert it from within? Then perhaps we can all laugh together, do some healing, forgive at least twenty of his last three dozen films, and start a useless change.org petition to get National Treasure 3 greenlit.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: I launched this wee blog on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, enthusiasm for, offense at, and/or detailed nitpicking of various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollowness, geek lifestyles, food, and Deep Thoughts. MCC has also served as a digital scrapbook for our annual road trips, comic cons, birthday expeditions, and other modest travels. It’s a general repository for any other content that comes to mind and feels worth the time and effort to type up, proofread, and release unto a world-at-large that rarely visits websites anymore unless social media points them there.
Basically it’s me me me me me, plus special appearances and other invaluable contributions from Anne, my wife of 17 years and #1 fan. This unpaid quasi-boutique hobby-job was built on a thin foundation with no claim to fame, virtually no preexisting fandom, no networking skills, no books to sell, no merch with my face on it to hawk, no funding from the Chubb Group, no patience for marketing (and pretty please never ever offer to provide me some for a price, because if you think I’m worth it, then by all means go share my works with your social pals for free, same as you do with anything else you genuinely like), and no educated grasp of “SEO” except to know that it rhymes with Vern Tessio, the Stand by Me kid played by Jerry O’Connell, who grew up to costar in Star Trek: Lower Decks, of which Anne and I have six episodes left to watch as of this writing, and watching those might be a more productive use of my time than registering my thoughts online for whomever to see, but it’s late and she’s asleep, which is the general household ambiance during my prime posting hours, so here I am.
It’s 2022 and the multiverse is in!
Comics and science fiction fans are well acquainted with the essentially fictional theory that infinite Earths exist in infinite universes, one for each possibility at every crossroads in every human life ever. All across the space-time continuum(s) there’s hypothetically one version of you for every major decision that you personally have ever had to make. Sometimes you chose well; sometimes you chose poorly and ruined everything. Either way, whatever choices you didn’t make, there’s a you for those. Of course that isn’t counting the timelines where you didn’t even exist because your parents or your ancestors chose poorly, or someone killed them too soon, or Earth was prematurely destroyed, or our planet survived but the dominant lifeform was amoebae, dinosaurs, or orcs.
Alt-timeline hi-jinks are plentiful in pop culture, in which characters bounce back and forth between their Earth and one (1) radically different Earth, compare and contrast What Might Have Been with What Is, and learn what George Bailey should’ve taught them when they were kids. But now, thanks to the success and awesomeness of Into the Spider-Verse, two measly Earths in a single story is no longer enough. Next month’s Doctor Strange sequel threatens to capitalize on its ingenuity, expand on the foundation laid in Avengers: Endgame and TV’s Loki, and overwhelm viewers with potentially more universes than Spider-Verse had, each with its own Benedict Cumberbatch, all of whom have to split a single paycheck. DC Comics, the very first publisher to give us Earth-vs.-Earth conflict in funnybook history, remains hard at work on riding Marvel’s multiversal coattails with their long-gestating Flash movie, which, given its current production pace and behind-the-scenes embarrassments, may give Marvel some stiff competition when it’s ready for release in the year 2525.
But why should superheroes have all the fun? If we take the multiverse as a given, then it stands to reason that there are in fact realities where multiversal mayhem occurs but isn’t centered on costumed do-gooders because they don’t exist. Enter writer-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man), who took a small cast, a modest budget (about the same as a single Loki episode) and who knows how many substances, and together concocted the madcap psycho-farcical Everything Everywhere All at Once.
…or, How We Spent Our Independence Day 2022.