My 2020 Reading Stacks #9: Giant Leaps for “Antkind”

Antkind!

A book by a filmmaker about film-making and film criticism. What could go wrong?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

At the beginning of each year I spend weeks writing year-in-review entries that cover the gamut of my entertainment intake, including capsule reviews for all the books and graphic novels I’ve read. I refrain from devoting entries to full-length book reviews because 999 times out of 1000 I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it.

As time permits and the finished books pile up, I’ll be charting my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections I’ve read throughout the year in a staggered, exclusive manner here, for all that’s worth to the outside world. 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. Novels and non-pictographic nonfiction will pop up here and there, albeit in a minority capacity for a few different reasons. Triple bonus points to any longtime MCC readers who can tell which items I bought at which comic/entertainment conventions we’ve attended over the past few years.

And now…it’s readin’ time. Again. This time it’s all about one book that consumed a lot of my summer, which worked out because I happened to have some free time in 2020.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #29: The Week in Breakfast

Knead the Dough haul!

Can YOU name your favorite flavors seen here? Good, because I forgot to write them down.

Restaurant photos are naturally a frequent part of our travel experiences. However, one practical benefit of using your own home as your road-trip command base is you don’t have to eat out for every meal every day. A few times on this vacation, we settled for ordinary home-cooked breakfasts that let us unwind for a few extra minutes before takeoff to faraway towns. On three vacation mornings this year we incorporated early pit stops into our itinerary because sometimes we do need a change of pace from our groceries. This was especially true during the Age of Coronavirus, which may have been an ideal setting for the sedentary homebody in me but has been nonstop frustrating for the lover of new experiences.

Or at least relatively new. Donuts don’t exactly qualify as rare exotica. But this trilogy of breakfast mini-galleries isn’t all about donuts.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #28: Kokomo-a-Go-Go

Barack Obama alley art!

Flashback to calmer times. Alley art by Jules Muck, a.k.a. Muckrock.

I like art. I like very specific kinds of shopping. I like taking walks around non-bland areas. Downtown Kokomo held opportunities for all that and then some.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #27: Mega Mantis and the Magic Mart

KokoMantis Kokomo!

Eat fresh and RUN!

We may not have been allowed to leave the state in search of roadside attractions, but Indiana is no slouch in that department if you do the research and hunt them down like Mulder and Scully tracking aliens, except we do it to admire creativity and imagination rather than save the earth from world domination, even when the attraction’s origin is exactly the size you’d expect invaders from beyond to be.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #26: Little Park of Horrors

Anne vs. Willie the Whale!

“FEED ME, JONAH!”

If you enjoyed our previous chapters at Shades State Park, Spring Mill State Park, and George Rogers Clark National Historical Park…well, this one’s for all you fans of walks in parks.

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“Tenet” abed? Tides reversed it? Debate, ‘Net.

Tenet!

walking into a 2020 theater like

Has Christopher Nolan’s Tenet conked out too soon in its beleaguered theatrical run, snoozing while no one’s watching? Would it have performed proportionately better had it not capsized in the vast, tumultuous sea change that is the Age of Coronavirus? Perhaps it isn’t fair to argue over its meager box office profits while much of the American theatrical market is shut down or heavily restricted, but argue over it we must, for we are Of The Internet. Sometimes we must ponder things deemed insignificant in the grand scheme, and sometimes we go to tortuous lengths to justify our painfully contrived palindromic headlines.

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Let’s (Not ALL) Go to the Movies: A Handy 4-Step Safety Guide (Safety Not Guaranteed)

AMC at Night!

What’s missing from this picture? The answers may not surprise you!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: once upon a time I used to go to the movies a bit too often and write about my experiences. In 2020 I managed to catch Birds of Prey, The Invisible Man, and Onward on the big screen before the Age of Coronavirus slammed the doors shut on that hobby for the foreseeable future. On a related note, next January’s “Best and Worst Movies of the Year” entry should take me far less time to write than usual.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #25: Fight and Flight Responses

BA53 thermonuclear bomb.

Someone set us up the BA53 thermonuclear bomb. Presumably all the fissile materials were removed after these were retired in the 1990s.

Up near the town of Peru, Indiana, Grissom Air Museum on the grounds of Grissom Air Reserve Base had an impressive collection of airplanes representing numerous eras in American aviation. Other artifacts and scenes around the grounds provided an in-depth look into our nation’s history, as well as telling glimpses of our present that will one day tell a story of their own.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #24: Plentiful Planes Parked in Peru

Passionette Paulette!

Hollywood prop alert: Passionate Paulette here is a B-25J, one of eighteen used in the filming of Mike Nichols’ 1970 adaptation of Catch-22. B-25s have also appeared in Pearl Harbor, Sucker Punch, and other, better films.

Yes, yes, I know we were just showing you an airplane collection earlier, but these are totally different planes at a completely different museum on the opposite end of the state. Well, not the far end, but comparatively opposite.

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Just watched all 103 episodes of “Person of Interest” in 30 days, AMA

Person of Interest!

“You are being watched,” said I to Our Heroes.

Once upon a time in 2011 I was in the mood to follow a TV show on CBS, of all channels — Person of Interest, the latest project from Jonathan Nolan, best known for writing or co-writing many of his brother Christopher’s films. The first seven episodes were one part above-average hard-boiled CBS procedural, one part very-near-future SF drama. Then the show began skipping weeks, returned without notice, and skipped more weeks. When I realized new episodes were airing, catching up was impossible because some miserly executive forbade it from being available On Demand, on CBS.com, or anywhere else for streaming after the fact. I gave up on following along as it aired, but vowed I’d catch up one day when the time was right.

At the end of 2013 our household joined the Netflix achievers. I added PoI to my queue as soon as I saw it was available, and looked forward to catching up at long last.

Then, because I’m old and forgetful and surround myself with far too many hobbies and to-do lists and internet distractions, seven years blinked by.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #23: Boot City Outskirts

cattle and cowboy!

Cut ’em out! Ride ’em in! RAWHIDE!

At the end of a long day of road tripping, after hours of walking and perusing and appreciating and photographing and learning and gawping and filling your head with new mental notes about memories-to-be and storytelling to come, sometimes all you want to do is return to the car and head straight home without stopping, not even for bathrooms or snacks.

Then you pass one last roadside attraction that catches your eye and won’t let go. It lassos your brain, sweet-talks your sense of exploration, and hollers like a rowdy bartender, “I reckon y’all could spare us just a few minutes ‘fore ya head for the hills, can’t ya?” Next thing you know you’re piling outta the car and takin’ a look-see at what they wanna show ya, if’n you ain’t yella-bellied and if you don’t get up too much gumption to ask why the voice’s southern accent is more cornpone than Rogue’s dialogue in old issues of Uncanny X-Men.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #22: The Skelton Keys to Comedy

pratfall stage!

Hey, slapstick fans! Learn how to pratfall in three easy steps! Practice several times on this very stage until you can do it without breaking any bones, just like a professional Hollywood stuntman or classic entertainer!

One of my favorite stops on our 2020 vacation was the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy in his hometown of Vincennes. The exhibits cover his seventy years in the entertainment business from early theater to post-retirement art, provide context for visitors with little to no knowledge of The Way Things Used to Be in Hollywood mass media, and, if you string enough leftover photos in just the right sequence, build your own template to a successful comedy career. All you need is patience, talent, and/or an idol to copycat. That’s not how Skelton did it, but he isn’t around to stop you, now is he?

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2020 Road Trip Photos #21: Legends of the “I Dood It” Guy

TV Weekly cover!

The many faces of Red Skelton covered an October 1967 edition of the LA Herald-Examiner‘s TV section. Art by Bob Bentovoja.

Throughout our years of travel we’ve visited a variety of specialized museums off the beaten paths, institutions of all sizes that focused intensely on subjects we know a little about, subjects firmly within our respective wheelhouses, and subjects about which we know next to nothing. We’ve enjoyed quite a few opportunities for education, for eye-opening, and for amusement. Despite our ever-advancing ages we still have a lot to learn about any number of subjects and personalities whose heydays were well before our time. If they should happen to provide broader context in some of the past movies, books, and TV shows we’ve consumed over the years, so much the better.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #20: On the Banks of the Wabash

Lincoln Memorial Bridge!

The Lincoln Memorial Bridge spans the Wabash River from Indiana to Illinois.

As a consequence of my unusual workplace situation, I’m basically not allowed to leave the state of Indiana until and unless killer nanobots hunt The Virus to extinction or my employers exile me to work-from-home, which would pose problems to multiple parties. 2020 is the first year we haven’t crossed the state line since at least 1998. It may have been longer, but we’ve been to Kings Island in Ohio so many times that I’ve lost track of which years were which.

The closest we’ve come to exiting Indiana since New Year’s was the city of Vincennes. Standing between us and Illinois was the Wabash River, known locally as the star of our state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away”. You’d think our state song would be “Back Home Again in Indiana”, which Jim Nabors used to sing before the start of every Indy 500, and which they actually taught us to sing in grade school. “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” was a big hit on the pop charts in 1897, long before there was pop, charts, hits, or catchy electric guitar hooks, and is sung today in the occasional State Fair hootenanny and nowhere else. I just now listened to it for what I’m reasonably sure was the first time in my entire 48 years, and I suspect I’ll forget it by morning. Not on purpose, mind you. But I know how my brain works.

Our view of the Wabash itself, by contrast, should prove eminently more memorable. Vincennes likewise had its share of nifty imagery about town, from fixtures to food.

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10 Timely Tips for Pandemic Fine Dining in Peace or Panic

Duck & Duck!

Oakleys Bistro in Indianapolis presents their “Duck & Duck”, two modest portions of sliced duck served with a rosemary duck confit arancini, charred broccoli spinach puree, pickled cherry relish, coriander crema, and leek puree.

Has pandemic fatigue got you down? Are you sick of subsisting on the two-year bulk-food supply you overstocked in your basement back in March? Could you use an hour-long break from staring at the same walls seven days a week? Have you become so annoyingly restless and loud that your family wishes you’d stop putting the “rant” in “quarantine”? Are you worried your favorite restaurant may collapse and die like Uncle Ben while you stand there like Peter Parker doing nothing about it? More importantly, can you afford to eat out right now? Most importantly, are you safe for other humans to be around?

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2020 Road Trip Photos #19: War Mementos (Miscellaneous Wars Edition)

Time v Hussein!

Time gives the kill order on Saddam Hussein.

War. What is it good for?

For inspiring movies, TV shows, novels, video games, a few board games, protest songs, and museums about war.

Your move, Edwin Starr.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #18: War Mementos (WWII Edition)

Time v. Hitler!

Time gives the kill order on Adolf Hitler.

Anyone who really knows Anne is well aware of her long-standing interests in American history in general and World War II in particular, with an intense specialization in the European theater. When opportunities arise to learn more about it and to view its remnants in person, those tend to rise near the top of our travel to-do lists. And so it went in Vincennes.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #17: War Machines

TM-76B Mace!

A TM-76B Mace cruise missile, previously stored at Air Force bases in Warner Robins and Orlando, welcomes you to the Indiana Military Museum!

I consider myself generally antiwar, but when faced with collections of giant machines larger than cars, some part of my brain interprets them not as armed conflict tools or purveyors of bloody destruction, but as really cool, super-sized toys. Maybe it’s some primeval boyhood attachment to the Matchbox and Hot Wheels collections I gave away in junior high. Maybe I subconsciously perceive sleek steel mechanisms as an extension of 1980s macho action flicks. Maybe the part of me that loves fast driving yearns for some opportunity to sit behind the controls of any fantastical vehicle that can exceed 100 mph without legal retribution or instant crashing. All I know is it’s fun to look at planes up close.

Longtime MCC readers have seen airplane galleries from past vacation stops such as the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, the National WWII Aviation Museum in Colorado Springs, and the USS Intrepid Museum in Manhattan. But we didn’t have to leave our home state to see more examples of vehicles our nation’s massive defense budget purchased throughout the last century.

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The MCC Mighty Mask Try-On Haul!

Marvel Heads Mask!

Me sporting a brand new Marvel Super-Heroes mask in a pandemic-era downtown parking garage as gray and uncaring as the year 2020 itself.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: it’s been over five months since I posted photos of my initial masking possibilities for navigating our broken pandemic world. At the time, masks weren’t yet mandated by state or city ordinances. They were simply among the best ideas for reducing your chances of catching The Virus, besides simply quarantining at home and bricking over all your doors and windows from the inside like a reverse “Cask of Amontillado”.

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2020 Road Trip Photos #16: Xavier’s Church for Gifted Soldiers

Christ cross runway.

This statue of Christ on a cross with its own runway is actually part of a cemetery.

One of our biggest regrets about our annual road trips is we always fail to make time for church services on Sunday. Occasionally we’ll happen near a church that’s built up enough exterior decor that it counts as a tourist attraction, but we’re never in a position to attend services. We’ve visited such houses of worships in New Orleans, Colorado Springs, and New York City, among others.

So it went in Vincennes as our walk took us slightly adjacent to George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, where we found holy grounds whose history predates Clark’s arrival in the area, not to mention the American Revolution itself. It was a Tuesday and we aren’t Catholic, but we appreciated a chance to spend a few minutes with our minds pointed more toward God.

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