Merry Christmas from MCC!

Buddy the Elf Buddies!

A coworker and I showed up at the office at the same time in near-matching ugly sweaters. So now we’re Buddy buddies!

Hey, kids! It’s that beloved holiday tradition where we just post a couple of recent Christmas-themed photos with some short yet sincere seasons’ greetings, and we give readers a break from my usual self-indulgent verbosity. It’s the most wonderful time of the MCC year!

Christmas in Metropolis!

Looking for places to celebrate Christmas spirit while distancing from others amidst a pandemic? Try an outdoor mall at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night when it’s below freezing!

Merry Christmas to you ‘n’ yours from us here at Midlife Crisis Crossover, High-Spirited Holidays, Vivacious Vacation, Divine December, and/or congratulations on reaching the light at the end of the 2021 tunnel despite the obstacles and heartbreaks. May your day be merrier and brighter, your celebrations invigorating, your downtime rewarding, and your internet circles calm and peaceful and filled with joyous content besides premature Best of 2021 listicles.

Introducing Our New Kindness+ Subscription Service

Kindness+!

Act now! Operators are standing by! But don’t expect them to actually pick up the phone. Leave a message or whatever.

The other day a friend of mine rhapsodized to acquaintances and followers about Christmas wishes and gave a gifting suggestion that might prove useful to some in this particularly tough holiday season: “Be kind to one another. We could all use more kindness, and best of all, it’s free!”

And I thought to myself: like, just give it away? In this economy?

Continue reading

Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” End Credits

Spider-Man No Way Home!

It wouldn’t be a true Spidey film if Peter didn’t unmask for the final battle.

Here’s the Too Long, Won’t Read version: despite some wonderful interplay among the main cast and the special guests at the heart of the film (and one beautifully meta performance in particular), Spider-Man: No Way Home is my least favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe film since Thor: The Dark World. I’m in the minority on this, but no other 2021 film has aggravated me as much as this box-office leviathan did.

Hope that helps? You’re now free to go. Thanks for stopping by. I do understand. I just need to get the following 5000 words out of my system. Imagine it’s Martin Scorsese’s rapid voice so it’ll move faster.

Still here? Cool, but fair warning: it’s been a long time since I front-loaded a movie entry with a courtesy spoiler alert. There’s no way I can adequately express my reactions without moving beyond the trailer-approved plot points and into its numerous surprises, some of which were foretold on various geek clickbait sites and some of which I predicted from the trailers. Really, the courtesy spoiler alert is for real, anything goes. You might find plenty of reasons for irritation with me, but by venturing beyond the courtesy spoiler alert guard post you hereby forfeit the right to count “AAAHH! SPOILERS!” among them.

Once again, for those just joining us: courtesy spoiler alert. Thank you.

Continue reading

“West Side Story”: The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Anita and Bernardo

West Side Story!

Ariana DeBose steps into Rita Moreno’s shoes and dashes away with them as the new Anita.

It’s extremely rare nowadays for me to watch films I’ve already seen, but last week on a staycation whim I revisited the original West Side Story, which I have on DVD and my wife remembers me liking when we watched it together sixteen years ago. Maybe it gave me the impression this was the essence of Real Broadway. At the time we had little frame of reference, years before we had the opportunities to see actual Broadway shows in 2011 and in 2016. I’d forgotten much of it till I cued it up. The lyrical verve and the intricate dance numbers certainly struck old chords, as did Rita Moreno’s performance, far and away the best among the cast. Beyond that, the enchantments from my first time seemed a little faded. The Happy Days hoodlums and their 1960s color schemes held my attention for a bit, and some songs drew me back in when my eyes wandered to other gadgets (“America” and “Officer Krupke” are each satirical exemplars), but…I dunno. It was still fine? It’s creaky compared unfairly to a 21st-century stage production, but I guess I still get it? Setting aside the problematic aspects a thousand better websites have already covered?

I was not among the front lines of any protests insisting a remake was unnecessary or pointless. Every classic Broadway show has its revivals, often with revisions and updates for later generations with differing sensibilities. Why not this one? And why not let lifelong fan Steven Spielberg take a crack at it? Especially teamed up with his Oscar-winning Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner, the main behind the acclaimed Angels in America? Again, setting aside the problematic aspects a thousand better websites have already covered? And which Kushner acknowledged in a fascinating New York Times interview with film critic A.O. Scott? Why not? If nothing else, it diverted his attention away from potentially worse project choices like Ready Player Two.

Continue reading

Yes, There’s a Capybara After the “Encanto” End Credits

Disney's Encanto!

Not many family photos could double as a cover for their own superhero comic.

Once upon a time, new Disney and Pixar animated films were an automatic “see in theaters” category for our family. (Well, generally speaking. Maybe someday I’ll get around to The Good Dinosaur.) Works from other animation studios were not so guaranteed and were judged on a case-by-case basis. Our last animated theatrical experience was Pixar’s Onward, which was back in March 2020 and just-okay. For non-Disney fare (not counting shorts) I’d have to go clear back to the third How to Train Your Dragon in 2019, which was likewise just-okay.

Then along came a pandemic that interrupted our traditions and our rhythms. Some studios kept releasing new cartoons anyway, albeit on a protracted schedule. We ignored all of them, even after getting our shots, because of inertia. I recently caught up with a few 2021 releases on streaming services, but they haven’t been a top priority. (Maybe someday I’ll get around to Raya and the Last Dragon.) Amidst this current holiday season my son and I noticed the oversight and revived our tradition at last with an outing for Disney’s Encanto — apropos of the occasion, a film about family, tradition, and ruination that we think comes from without when in fact the disruption is coming from inside the house.

Continue reading

Our 2021 Road Trip #29: Goodbye Yellowstone Road

Mammoth Hot Springs Upper Terrace Yellowstone!

The view of Mount Everts from Mammoth Hot Springs.

It all comes down to this, our final hour in Yellowstone. Nine hours after leaving Cody 180 miles ago, I was so done with driving. The entire day had confirmed our hypothesis that, yes, Yellowstone is big. Like, really really really really really big. I tried my best to care deeply about the remaining flora, fauna, geological peculiarities, and man-made obtrusions that stood between us and the park’s north entrance, which in turn would lead to respite at the next hotel and check a new state off our lifetime to-do list.

Continue reading

Our 2021 Road Trip #28: From Sheepeater Cliff to Mount Everts

Yellowstone Huckleberry Ridge Tuff road!

The frequently photographed portion of Grand Loop Road as it vertiginously curves around Huckleberry Ridge Tuff before heading down into Golden Gate Canyon.

The Grand Loop Road around Yellowstone kept going and going and going, and so did we…

Continue reading

Our 2021 Road Trip #27: From Gibbon Falls to Willow Park

Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone!

At a mere 84 feet high, Gibbon Falls isn’t the tallest waterfall we’ve seen, but it’s perfectly pretty as-is.

After we finally parted ways with the Grand Prismatic Spring, our next few hours in Yellowstone were a blur of frequent stops and pervasive wonders. Each point of interest had its highlights, but few of them have enough photos to merit their own individual, full-length galleries. Honestly, after so many hours on the road in those surroundings, I was in danger of scenic overload.

Continue reading

My 2021 Reading Stacks #5

George Takei and Gene Luen Yang!

Once again, patterns emerge from this year’s pile: in this case, Asian-American graphic memoirs.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Welcome once again to our recurring MCC feature in which I scribble capsule reviews of everything I’ve read lately that was published in a physical format over a certain page count with a squarebound spine on it — novels, original graphic novels, trade paperbacks, infrequent nonfiction dalliances, and so on. Due to the way I structure my media-consumption time blocks, the list will always feature more graphic novels than works of prose and pure text, though I do try to diversify my literary diet as time and acquisitions permit.

Occasionally I’ll sneak in a contemporary review if I’ve gone out of my way to buy and read something brand new. Every so often I’ll borrow from my wife or from our local library. But the majority of our spotlighted works are presented years after the rest of the world already finished and moved on from them because I’m drawing from my vast unread pile that presently occupies four oversize shelves comprising thirty-three years of uncontrolled book shopping. I’ve occasionally pruned the pile, but as you can imagine, cut out one unread book and three more take its place.

I’ve previously written why I don’t do eBooks. Perhaps someday I’ll also explain why these capsules are exclusive to MCC and not shared on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites where their authors might prefer I’d share them. In the meantime, here’s me and my recent reading results…

Continue reading

Our 2021 Road Trip #26: Grand Prismatic Spring Fever

Grand Prismatic Springs cloud reflections!

This looks like some of my Trapper Keeper folders from junior high.

Sure, Old Faithful had the fame and Biscuit Basin had the scintillating colors, but our next literal hot spot had the hottest temperatures, the largest dimensions, and the longest line of the day. Such was the fierce competition among Yellowstone points of interest.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: