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“Downton Abbey”: For Fans and Country

Downton Abbey!

Perhaps a bit smaller than stately Wayne Manor, but it’ll have to do.

We thought we’d seen the last of our favorite early-20th-century British property owners, their splendidly ornate possessions, their struggle to maintain their lifestyle even as all their peers fail in droves, and the working-class employees who were more like us. Even though the series finale brought closure and a happy ending — without the doom and gloom that traumatized us in earlier years, no less — leave it to writer/creator Julian Fellowes to confound those expectations and serve one last course of fan service for Anglophiles.

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“Joker”: The Day the Clown Cried and People Died

Joker!

Toys and statues now available on Etsy and eBay! For other versions, check your local comic shops, big-box stores, Barnes & Noble toy sections, or good ol’ Amazon! Buy Joker stuff wherever you shop, work or bank!

Every review of Todd Phillips’ controversial Joker that I’ve read so far — and I’ve read several, none of them by youngsters who love DC Comics unconditionally, but not all of them scathing — has name-checked Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver because, per their consensus, the homage is so derivative that it’s practically an attempted reboot of both, or possibly the conclusion to the trilogy they never were.

I haven’t watched Taxi Driver in over twenty years, and I’ve yet to see The King of Comedy, which wasn’t available on any of my streaming-service subscriptions as of a week before release. Aside from noting how hard I snickered at an obvious, neutered copycat of the famous “You talkin’ to me?” scene, that means I can’t simply spend 1500 words deriding its Scorsese allusions scene by scene, and will instead have to come up with my own words and thoughts, as opposed to typing a derivative homage to all those other reviews. IF it turns out like that anyway, don’t blame me. It’s everyone else’s fault but mine.

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“Ad Astra” Per Verba Omnium

Ad Astra!

If his space soliloquies mend just one broken father/son relationship out there, then they were worth it. Did they, though?

In the grand, 21st-century tradition of Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian, and First Man comes another tale of an A-lister shot into space with a massive budget both in-story and in reality. Honorable mention goes to Duncan Jones’ Moon, which had to make do with a fraction of the cash but was more relatable than at least two of those tentpoles.

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“IT Chapter 2”: That Previous Evil Clown Movie Before the Next Evil Clown Movie

IT CHAPTER 2!

No, I am not ready to let go our our Dragon Con 2019 memories or souvenirs yet, thanks for asking.

My Stephen King phase lasted from roughly 1986 to 1993, and began when a late-night cable viewing of Christine spooked me so much that I checked out the novel from my junior high school’s library. Having consumed that, I resolved to catch ’em all. To an extent I inherited the fixation from my mom, whose all-time favorite novel is The Stand. I proceeded to read every novel from Carrie through Gerald’s Game, skipping only The Dark Tower series because the first one was impossible to find when my King spree began. (Drifting away from King’s work wasn’t his fault exactly. 1993 was among my darkest years.)

Though I do have my favorites among them, I have a particularly fond memory of the It reading experience. I sat down one evening with the 1000-page paperback edition and proceeded to devour the first 500 in one go. At 6 a.m. my grandma got up for breakfast and was quite surprised to see I hadn’t gone to bed yet. I haven’t done that in ages and would dearly love to have the free time and concentration power to devote to any task for that many hours in a row at my age. I blame the internet.

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The Road to Dragon Con: “The Dark Crystal” Puppet Parade

SkekUng!

SkekUng of the Garthim, a baddie due to make hhs grand return soon.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited 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. 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of our annual tradition, which began with our very first Wizard World Chicago. Apropos of our history, we’ll be honoring the occasion by combining two of our favorite shared pastimes: vacation and convention.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

When we first began vacation brainstorming months ago, the Center for Puppetry Arts was among the top choices on my half of our list for specific reasons we’ll cover in the future. It’s a modest museum packed with puppets from around the world and across centuries, many of which you’d recognize from beloved movies and TV shows of your youth and mine. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area, and not just because they have their own free parking lot.

Upon our visit they were the proud hosts of a temporary exhibit featuring numerous puppets from the 1982 Jim Henson/Frank Oz classic The Dark Crystal, which featured some of the most startlingly dramatic puppets of the decade. This exhibit is perfectly timed with the arrival of the all-new Netflix prequel series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, scheduled to premiere this Friday, August 30th. Also perfectly timed for both the new series and for Dragon Con, the Center is planning an event this Thursday night the 29th called “The Dark Crystal Ball: Gathering of Gelflings“, for which fans can gather in costume, mingle, imbibe, party, and so on. Deep, constructive preparation was well underway when we walked in on Tuesday.

Please allow me to shut up now and share photos of awesome puppets that were actually used in the actual making and filming of The Dark Crystal, for anyone who can’t be here in person while the exhibit lasts. Enjoy!

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The Road to Dragon Con: Hollywood Comes to Georgia

True story: certain works filmed partly or entirely in Georgia have earned cumulative billions in international box office. Not all of that was from Fried Green Tomatoes.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited 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. 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of our annual tradition, which began with our very first Wizard World Chicago. Apropos of our history, we’ll be honoring the occasion by combining two of our favorite shared pastimes: vacation and convention.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

As I type this we’re snugly in our hotel and decompressing after Day 3 of 8. We’ve crossed most of the primary attractions off the “tourism” half of our to-do list and have a few more places we’d like to see before it’s time for autographs, photo ops, cosplay, and tens of thousands of other fans descending on Atlanta and making our restaurant waits much, much longer than they’ve been so far. We’ve already amassed hundreds of photos for sharing in future MCC galleries for our regular readers and stray search-engine users.

Until then, please enjoy a ten-pack of samples from my favorite surprise today. We visited the library and museum of President Jimmy Carter under the expectation of seeing grand displays of American history as well as artifacts illustrating his numerous post-Presidency accomplishments. What we didn’t expect was a bonus exhibit saluting the hundreds of movies and TV shows that have been filmed in Georgia over the past 80+ years. While we’re still out of town and not prepared to post all the things yet, please enjoy these ten images from the Carter Museum’s super fun assemblage. You may recognize a few of these.

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