2020 Road Trip Photos #6: Shades of Death

Anne and log!

My lovely wife while she was still smiling.

One major item on our travel agenda was more exercise. Long walks are a staple of nearly all our vacations. They’re our favorite form of exercise. Lord knows we needed them now more than ever. If you compile our past several years’ road-trip photo galleries into a flipbook omnibus, you can see us growing grayer and larger over time. We’ve been trying to get outside for more neighborhood walks, but the surroundings have become routine and repetitive. All we ever see are the same houses and sidewalks over and over again out here in cookie-cutter suburbia, which at times can feel like a Hanna-Barbera background. It’s much more fun to walk around unknown places, see new sights, and change up our terrain.

Well, usually it’s much more fun.

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My Just Barely Black Friday 2019

Kohl's Pillows!

Wheeling down the aisles at Kohl’s with my tiny cart piled high.

The one Black Friday item that Anne and I wanted more than any other this year was cheap pillows. We’re that old now.

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Birthday 47: Primo Pizza and Pointless Pondering

Thai and Creole!

The top half is Thai-inspired. The bottom half is Creole-esque. All of it is coated in smoked Gouda with no objection from me.

It’s that time again! This week I turned 47 without entering true Midlife Crisis mode yet, and managed not to whine about it. Much. Not out loud, anyway. The more I stare at our recent convention photos, the more gray hairs I see taunting me and trying to convince me I am, in fact, an old adult and not a mature teenager.

Fun useless trivia: I share my birthday with Dennis Hopper, Bill Paxton, Trent Reznor, Sugar Ray Leonard, Craig Ferguson, Howard Ashman, Bob Saget, Jordan Knight, and Dave Sim. Yet we never get together and combine parties. Sure, two of my birth-twins are no longer among the living, but still.

For the past several years my wife and I have made a tradition of going somewhere new for each of our birthdays. One-day road trips and events such as last year’s Garfield Quest give me the gift of new experiences and distracts me from the physical decay at hand. As it happens, we’ll spending my birthday weekend helping a relative move, which means we’ve had to postpone my official birthday outing till next weekend. I’m grown-up enough to handle delayed gratification, and am at peace with the notion of serving others this weekend instead of indulging myself.

In the meantime, today had its happy distractions, mostly in the form of food. Friends and family kept my mind off the aging process for most, if not all, of the day.

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Thanksgiving Between the Christmas Cues

Thursday paper!

Another ancient tradition falling by the wayside in today’s culture: newspapers thrown on driveways.

Before our first glimpse of Thanksgiving turkey or family, my long holiday weekend kicked off after work Wednesday when I arrived home around 4 p.m. to find Thursday morning’s newspaper already delivered, articles and all. The largest physical edition every year, Thanksgiving Day papers are coveted for their Black Friday ads, more or less the official Christmas season launch. Shoppers can’t wait to get started on it — hence more and more stores reopening on Thanksgiving itself, hours ahead of the Black Friday starter pistols. It stands to reason our carrier couldn’t wait to get past it, to unload this newsprint behemoth as soon as possible.

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Our Excuse for Skipping Three Conventions in One Weekend

Wedding Cake!

Actual wedding cake.

Dear Mr. Kotter,

Please excuse Randy and Anne Golden for skipping the Superman Celebration, Wizard World Columbus, and Indy Pop Con all at the same time. As evidence of their whereabouts, I submit Exhibit A: a photo of the official cake from the wedding they attended Saturday afternoon. Anne’s cousin and his new bride were the heart and soul of a wondrous occasion that marked quite a happy ending to a story that’s none of your business, if I may say so without you giving everyone detention. Also, in reply to your weird expression, yes, that is too a wedding cake.

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Birthday 46: The Food So Far

Sushi!

Sushi is about as close as I’ve gotten to an indulgent midlife luxury so far this week.

It’s that time again! This week I turned 46 without entering true Midlife Crisis mode yet, and managed not to whine about it or to start browsing prices for sports cars. My frequent sleeping issues, my imperfect hearing, my inadequate eyesight, and my everyday aches and pains all seem at about the same level as last year, which means technically I haven’t lose any ground from a health standpoint, as long as I continue ignoring my receding hairline and avoiding weighing myself. Every glance in the mirror is a reminder of the uncoolness slowly overtaking me and threatening to consume me whole by the time I retire, which is why mirrors should be illegal.

For the past several years my wife and I have made a tradition of going somewhere new for each of our birthdays. For me last year, it was Motor City Comic Con up in Novi, MI. For Anne last year, it was the Fanboy Expo Totally Awesome Weekend down in Knoxville, TN. Now it’s my turn. That’ll be Saturday, and it won’t be a convention this time, but as a prologue we did dinner with my mom on Thursday night at a great local establishment that no one ever talks about, that my family and coworkers had never heard of, and I don’t understand why not.

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Mamaw’s Temporary Setback

Mamaw!

Nine time out of ten, when Mamaw believes she’s smiling for a photo, this is the result. Technically it’s a good sign.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each November my wife Anne and I take her grandmother to the Christmas Gift & Hobby Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Now on its 68th year, the Show provides a variety of vendors selling Christmas decor, Christmas gift ideas, loving handicrafts, licensed character products, off-topic home improvement services, telemarketing schemes, and more more more. For Mamaw the fairgrounds are a premier destination for her two biggest annual affairs. The Indiana Flower and Patio Show in March is her Super Bowl; the Christmas Gift and Hobby Show is her San Diego Comic Con. Longtime MCC readers were treated to photos of previous expeditions from 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

This year, we’ve run into a bit of a complication.

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A Day in the Waiting Rooms

Mom.

Last Friday we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. when the waiting room doors were supposed to open. The nurses were running a bit behind, leaving us waiting on the waiting room. While I paced back and forth, Mom sat quietly and tried to compose herself before her big transplant operation.

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“Logan”: The Old Man and the Series

Logan!

“Wow, Cyclops is an even bigger jerk in the comics. Maybe I should give these a chance after all.”

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Logan the Greatest Wolverine Solo Movie of All Time!

That’s not a hard claim to make after the soggy mishmash of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the mostly not-bad The Wolverine, a Japanese action-adventure yarn that held up well until the final boss battle pitted Our Hero against a vengeful geezer-mech. The latter’s director James Mangold reunites with The Hugh Jackman for one last assembly with Marvel’s once-merry mutants in what may be the X-Men film least likely to sell a single action figure.

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Lord, Grant Me the Resilience of a 91-Year-Old Great-Grandmother

Mamaw!

Photo by loyal wife and granddaughter Anne Golden, taken at the 2016 Indiana Christmas Gift & Hobby Show.

Pictured above is my wife’s Mamaw, one of the most resilient people we know. When she was born, Calvin Coolidge reigned as the 30th President of the United States of America. Her husband, who served as an ambulance driver in WWII and refused to discuss the experience with the grandkids, passed away in 1996. To this day she lives in the two-story house he built for them decades ago, with assistance from family as needed for transportation, errands, groundskeeping, major repairs, and her biennial special outings — the Indiana Flower & Patio Show and the Indiana Christmas Gift & Hobby Show. Each year they’re her World Series and Super Bowl.

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Old Man Yells at Bulbasaur: My First Day of Pokemon Go

Bulbasaur! Pokemon Go!

It took me 44 years to catch my first Pokemon in the wild, but the goal I never had until today has been achieved at last thanks to rapid advancements in phone technology and Japanese monster-tracking software, whose use was made possible by a slow day at Indianapolis International Airport.

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For a Happy Retirement After a 50-Year Run

Gift Basket!

For fifteen years my mom and I worked at the same company in different departments. She retired May 31st after nearly fifty years in the rat race. This was the gift basket her coworkers assembled to help kick off her next era and keep her busy with creature comforts for the short term till she gets settled into a new daily groove. At least one of these items is outside her bailiwick, but such special occasions aren’t the right moment for nitpicking. I appreciate that they took to heart most of the ideas I gave them. Maybe she’ll surprise me and give those untested things a try. Or maybe she’ll hang on to them till Christmas and then hand them off to me or my wife. Whatever works for her.

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2016 Ain’t Nothing But a Number

2016!

Muhammad Ali. Prince. David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Patty Duke. Garry Shandling. Nancy Reagan. Abe Vigoda. Raymond’s mom. Frank Drebin’s boss. Grizzly Adams. TV’s Schneider. The Phantasm guy.

For these names and others you’d recognize, 2016 has been a bad year. Whenever three or more well-regarded famous people die within the same year, that year’s name is mud. Everyone curses its name and declares it Worst Year Ever. Add in one or more horrifying wide-scale tragedies, and that year will never be allowed a moment of recognition for all the good it hosted. 2016 isn’t halfway over, but if it were an internet user, it would already be receiving daily death threats and getting trolled into oblivion by millions of typists blinded by fury at all the implied promises broken by that stupid backstabbing jerk Baby New Year 2016. Remember in January when Ryan Seacrest invited us all to welcome that baby with open arms and hearts and hopes? Now WE HATE THAT BABY SO MUCH. THANKS, SEACREST.

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Wizard World Chicago 2015 Photos, Part 7 of 7: Why We Convention

Jeremy Renner VIP Badge!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time of year again! Anne and I are at Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we’re so far having a blast even though parts of it resemble hard work and our feet feel battle-damaged after two days of endless walking, standing, lining up, shuffling forward in cattle-call formation, and scurrying toward exciting people and things…

My wife and I took an okay number of photos over the course of our three-day stay and will once again be sharing the most usable over the next several entries.

Tonight’s episode: the miniseries finale! The panels we saw! The comics pros I met! The winners of the Annual “Convince Me to Spend Money in Artists Alley” contest! The troubles with conventioning while old! And more!

Right this way for one last batch of photos, anecdotes from the weekend, and one (1) costume pic!

The Sweetest Gal in the E.R.

Anne!

Though I’ve been wanting to try out the camera on my new phone in a variety of settings, photography testing wasn’t among my original plans for Wednesday night. My beloved wife Anne agreed to this unusual photo-op while we were waiting calmly for the physicians on duty to determine the cause of the chest pains she’d been having all day.

Make no mistake: that pretty smile belied some pretty frazzled nerves.

Right this way for more about Anne’s fate. Also: a musical number!

Birthday 43: a Road Trip for Comics, Art, and History

Freimann Square Park!

Freimann Square Park, an eminently photogenic city block in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

It’s that time of year again! As of today I’m now 43 years old and trying not to obsess on the fact that I know at least three different guys who died at that exact age, including a near-forgotten high school acquaintance who popped up in last Thursday’s Obituaries section of the local paper.

…CUT. Forget that paragraph. Maybe we’ll set that aside for another, drearier time. Let’s start over.

For the last few years, my wife and I have spent our respective birthdays together finding some new place or attraction to visit as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on this most wondrous day, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. My 2015 birthday destination of choice: the city of Fort Wayne, some 100+ miles northeast of here. It’s home to several manufacturing concerns, one major insurance company, a selection of buildings with historical importance to the locals, and a small comic book convention I’d never heard of before this year. We checked out the area, we found ways to enjoy ourselves, we got some much-needed exercise, and we took photos.

Right this way for the things I just said there would be!

The Most Irrelevant Man in the World

Xmas 2014!

No editor can stop him from posting Christmas photos in March. He is…The Most Irrelevant Man in the World!

His favorite musicians are eligible for AARP membership.

He was once this close to live-tweeting A Passage to India.

He thinks #TheDress is all the colors of the rainbow. He is…The Most Irrelevant Man in the World!

Thoughts ensue on how aging can affect blogging…

Can We Count My New PS3 Toward My Obligatory Midlife Crisis?

Bioshock!

Here I come to save the day in a cruddy pic from this afternoon’s Bioshock session.

For a blog with “midlife crisis” in the title, it may seem odd that I don’t discuss the concept much. Other than the casual references in my About page, my only direct treatment of the subject was in an entry from MCC’s first month, before I had readers or any clear idea where this site would be going.

The short version of that old entry: I think I’m okay on the midlife crisis front. So far, no urge to go splurge on a flashy sports car whose insurance payments, speeding tickets, and designer gas requirements would devastate me. No desire to go prowling for an under-25 replacement wife that I’d disappoint on multiple levels. No fleeting whims to quit the day job that makes this entire long-term experiment possible. No chance of drastic fashion overhaul, hair implants, or radical blubberectomy. And, thankfully, no therapy sessions scheduled to scrutinize a burdensome lack of Happy.

Yet, anyway.

But there was one item I picked up on Black Friday 2014 that I’m hoping will be the one big unplanned expenditure to fully sublimate any such lingering, as-yet-imperceptible, subconscious urges to escape reality or to revisit those bygone days of youthful vim and vigor: a used PS3.

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The Spirit of Health Care Yet to Come (for me)

Health Care.

I can think of four or five things wrong with that sign.

After five months without a chronic back-pain incident, I wake up this morning with slight, tender stiffness. Clock in at 7 a.m. Twenty minutes later my back begins to throb a little. I grab cafeteria breakfast at 7:30. Five minutes and three bites after sitting back down at my desk, the throbbing promotes itself to full-on spasms. Waves of pain roil outward from my lower back, on and off for thirty to forty minutes. So much for this week’s overtime.

Back pain and I are no strangers. It’s a recurring issue for me caused by, I’m told, years of poor posture plus the weight I’ve regained over time in the years after my diet. Some bouts last a day or two; some, only an hour before the pain dissipates at the mercy of ibuprofen. Not every incident requires a medical intervention.

And then there are days like today…

Birthday 42: a Road Trip for Comics, Art, and Nature

Birthday cupcakes!

Gifts from my coworkers: chocolate cupcakes with peanut-butter-cup centers. This is so much better than a birthday pitch-in where 9 out of every 10 participants bring potato chips.

It’s that time of year again! As of today I’m now 42 years old and decided hours ago not to contrive a Hitchhiker’s Guide joke from that. All things considered, I’m a much happier guy at 42 than I was at 21. By the time I’m old enough to want to lie about my age, I won’t be able to get away with it anymore.

For the last few years, my wife and I have spent our respective birthdays together finding some new place or attraction to visit as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on this most frabjous day, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. My 2014 birthday destination of choice: the town of Muncie, some 75 miles northeast of here. It’s the home of Ball State University (my sister-in-law’s alma mater), hometown of Garfield creator Jim Davis, scene of a fair amount of works of art, and location for, of all things, a notable comic book shop I wanted to see.

Alter Ego Comics!

This way for props, flowers, shops, and doggies!

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