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Indiana State Fair 2018 Photos #3: The Art of the Fair

Where Does My Poop Go?

Every great scientist starts with an inquisitive mind. And every inquisitive mind has to start somewhere.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. Usually we’re all about the food…

…but we’re also excited to see what new works of paint, photography, building blocks, and science have been offered up for the various competitions. The State Fair holds its massive celebrations on behalf of our farmers, but Indiana has no shortage of artists, either. They come from all demographics, work in multiple media, bring ideas from pop culture as well as from their own home life, and all contribute in their own ways to the Hoosier State hometown legacy.

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Indiana State Fair 2018 Photos #2: The Year of the Circus

human cannonballs!

Presenting Mr. and Mrs. Human Cannonball!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. Usually we’re all about the food…

…but when we’re full, or encounter long stretches of walking between food stands, we also get a kick out of visiting the various exhibit halls. Whether it’s handiwork by kids in 4-H, local adult artists, and/or innovative collectives, artists a-plenty have their creations tucked away all throughout the land. Sometimes there’ll also be featured historical collections, which is nice and often incidentally educational.

After going for a year or two without any discernible theme, this year our state fair landed on celebrating The Year of the Circus. A variety of contributors played along with that motif, inspired entirely by the real live circus that planted their Big Top on the north end of the fairgrounds and offered three performances every day for the entirety of the fair, included basically free with the price of fair admission. For anyone who loves the concept, it was a brilliant bit of entertainment synergy.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 4 of 6: A Cat at the Heart of Matter

A Person is a Person!

“A person is a person no matter how small…” — wisdom from Dr. Seuss.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

Last time we showed you three Garfields in the city of Marion. But Marion has four Garfields. Between the hospital and the golf course, we found another Garfield in an unexpected wonderland of public art.

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My Free Comic Book Day 2018 Results: The Best and the Least Best

Maxwell's Demons!

A boy and his toys go to war. From Maxwell’s Demons #1, art by Vittori Astone.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on May 5th I once again had the pleasure of once again observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all, 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 entertaining ordinary folk. Each year, America’s remaining comic book shops (and a handful in the UK that can afford the extra shipping charges) 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.

This year my Free Comic Book Day involvement took on a different form. My local shop offered a special deal that sounds crazy on the face of it: for a fair sum of money, we could pre-purchase a bundle of all 52 Free Comic Book Day comics that their stores planned to order. Normally these would all be free, but you’d look like a schmuck for casually walking in, picking up all 52, and walking right back out. Instead they set aside copies of all those comics, bagged ’em up, and let buyers pick them up late Saturday afternoon, once all the furor and hubbub had subsided. I went for it. I liked the idea of playing the role of patron, donating extra cash to help facilitate Free Comic Book Day for other folks in town, in a way that would help my shop offset the costs.

I spent the rest of Saturday night and nearly all of Sunday reading all 52 and then posting my impressions on Twitter after each comic, along with photo excerpts from every single comic. I took photos rather than scans because (a) our scanner sometimes ruins the hard work of comics colorists, (b) I wanted to capture the feel of comics on actual physical paper, (c) I wanted to test my new phone, and (d) snapping pics was faster than scanning. This reading/photography project took until 11:30 p.m Sunday night to complete, and would’ve taken until sometime Tuesday if I hadn’t cut corners somewhere. I had to put this entry off for a few days because I needed a break after spending so, so much time with them all.

This entry, then, is a condensed version of that epic-length tweetstorm: my ranking of the twenty best books of the bunch, followed by my six least favorites of the entire stack. I never trust a comics reviewer or website that shares nothing but relentlessly glowing opinions — nor, conversely do I trust a critic who hates all comics and can’t be pleased — so this is my way of not becoming that which I disparage.

Up first: that happy Top 20. On with the countdown!

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 16: The Art of Pittsburgh

Honus Wagner!

For the sports fans out there: we ran across Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner in front of PNC Park while searching in vain for a Mister Rogers statue. Not really the same thing.

Every vacation has a final day, by which time everyone’s overloading on new memories and experiences, exhausted and ready to return home to the comfort of their own bed, and in dire need of time apart from their travel companions. On our early road trips we came to learn that the final day of our trips felt ten times longer if we didn’t give ourselves something to do on the way back, something to look forward to besides the open road itself. Downtown Pittsburgh had more than enough character for the three of us, even on a deserted Sunday morning.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 41: A Meeting on Mount Washington

Points of View!

Two men enter. Two men leave. It was more of a debate than a cage match.

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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

DAY SEVEN: Friday, July 14th.

When morning came, I didn’t want to leave the Omni William Penn, but we didn’t want to live there, either. It was time to go home. Before we left Pittsburgh we made one last stop — beyond downtown but with a fantastic view of it. We previously visited the elevated neighborhood of Mount Washington on our 2010 road trip, but somehow missed one of their storied attractions, a reminder of a pivotal time in pre-American history.

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