Restaurants In Memoriam: A Pre-Virus Retrospective

Mediterranean Grill!

Loukoumadis (fried dough), our final dessert at the Mediterranean Grill in Avon, Indiana. Taken in April 2017 on their final weekend in business. If only we’d shared more meals from there…

Midlife Crisis Crossover isn’t an official foodie blog, but restaurants are among the many and varied subjects we touch upon as we refuse to focus on a singular topic. Whether they’ve enlivened our annual road trips, featured in our wedding anniversary celebrations, given us something to do on Super Bowl Sunday instead of watching ads or sports, or simply welcomed us in for one-time tryouts, restaurants are a treasured aspect of our travel experiences, in other states as well as around our own hometown of Indianapolis. As you can imagine, my wife Anne and I are missing a lot of them right now rather intensely.

We’ve shared photos and warm feelings from dozens of eateries over the past eight years. Not all of them lived to see 2020, which in some cases may not be such a bad thing. Regardless, in this moment of wistful nostalgia, here’s a fond look back at some of the places that are no longer with us, who shut their doors after we visited them and didn’t even call us to say goodbye, because that’s not how it works.

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Our Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Pre-Show: Who We’ve Already Met

Billy Dee Williams!

The debonair Mr. Billy Dee Williams at Cincinnati Comic Expo 2016, raising the bar for convention fashion.

This weekend my wife Anne and I will be attending the latest edition of Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm’s recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s will be in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. Previously on MCC, we shared our personal experiences with Celebrations 2002 and 2005, which were each held at our very own Indiana Convention Center. We’re happy they’ve turned our direction once more, but a bit flummoxed by a few aspects of the show, which we hope goes well despite our nervousness about a few early warning signs.

Bugging us more than anything else is the lack of big, big-name participants from either The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi. We had accepted that there would be a Wampa’s chance on Mustafar of The Mark Hamill coming within a thousand miles of Chicago that weekend after his not-so-great 2017 experience in Orlando. (Ditto Harrison Ford, which we absolutely understand.) But being snubbed by the main casts of the last two non-digressive SW films stings a tad. We also despaired when special guest Temuera Morrison (Aquaman, Attack of the Clones) canceled last week. He was at the top of our must-meet list and has now freed up some of our funds for other activities, such as slightly better Chicago food.

We hope to have fun nonetheless, but of those folks scheduled to attend, we’ve already met many of them. While we’re counting down to opening day this coming Thursday, please enjoy this look back at this year’s Celebration guests that we’ve already met at previous conventions. Please feel free to pretend this is an exclusive sneak preview of the weekend to come. For other folks besides us, I mean.

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Our 2018 in Jazz Hands: Yet Another MCC Convention Photo-Op Gallery

Tom Hiddlest

Of all the pics to lead with, of course I’m going with the one Instagram loved most, apparently one of the year’s best Tom Hiddleston photos judging by their reactions. Big thanks to Ace Comic Con Midwest for making this magically possible.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I are big fans of geek/comic/entertainment conventions. Sometimes we shell out for photo ops with actors from our favorite movies and TV shows. If they’re amenable and don’t mind taking posing suggestions from a pair of eccentric fortysomethings shaped like two lumpy bags of potatoes, our favorite theme is jazz hands. We’re not dancers and we’ve only attended two Broadway shows so far, but we love the idea of sharing a moment of unbridled joie de vivre with anyone who’s game. We can’t remember which of us had the idea first, though the inspiration surely came from a few different possible sources we share. So it’s our thing now.

We previously compiled collections of our first three years of jazz-hands photos (including one that was once used in Wizard World Chicago advertising materials), followed by a complete roundup of our 2017, the year we attended way too many cons for our own good. We didn’t expect 2018 to resemble 2017, but in tallying up the results it struck me that we had a pretty decent — and, if I may say, jazzy — year after all.

After the way our past two months have gone off the rails, we’re confident 2019 will be dramatically scaled back whether we like it or not. While we’re working on finding ways to make austerity measures entertaining, please enjoy the following clipfest starring a plethora of talented folks who have impressed us in movies or on TV who were willing to play along with all that jazz.

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13 Dead Presidents Pocketed: Our 2018 Road Trip Prologue

John Adams!

The earliest President whose burial site we’ve seen so far: #2, John Adams, d. 7/4/1826, age 90. Beneath the United First Parish Church in Quincy, MA. From our 2013 road trip.

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. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating. We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America.

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Farewell, Daily Post: A Very Special MCC Clipfest

Mega Jenga!

Sooner or later all games must come to an end, as in the collapse of this adult-sized, hand-crafted Mega-Jenga collapse at a 2012 gathering with my wife’s cousins.

Over the past several years the good folks at WordPress.com, facilitators of this very website you now clutch in your device, have provided bonus services to users in the form of The Daily Post. A fine team of editors provided springboards for would-be bloggers who were interested in writing but needed ideas, offered networking opportunities between WordPress users like me who lack the skills to meet fellow entertainers, start conversations, find the right cliques, and expand both their online reach and their Friends lists. The Daily Post’s guidance came in the form of writing prompts every day, weekly mixers for new bloggers to ask questions and seek suggestions, and the regularly scheduled themed “challenges”, which invited our take on whatever particular word of phrase came to the editors’ minds. We were free to interpret and respond to their suggestions at our discretion, then seek out other respondents and compare their approaches to ours. It was a fun way for WordPress customers across the board to expand their horizons and bond as a community.

Alas, that era of fun corporate block parties has come to an end. As of May 31st The Daily Post has shuttered its services and will no longer offer new topics or assignments for our use. We writers, photographers, artists, poets, mommy-bloggers, retired wool-gatherers, lecturers, fireside storytellers, collegiate navel-gazers, marketer wannabes, spammers posing as humans, and all-around social typists are left to our own devices, to create our own ideas from whole cloth, and to figure out how to network without trained professionals lending us a hand. Frankly, some of us may be doomed.

Regardless! Over the past six years we’ve had our own stories to tell and opinions to express here on MCC, and are in no danger of running out anytime soon. Current projections show that I may be in for awkward times around late 2019, but for now we’re good. Throughout the long history of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenges and Weekly Writing Challenges, MCC participated roughly 95 times among our 1700+ entries to date. The Daily Post’s editors signed off their final programming week with a retrospective of their favorite results from years past. Now, it’s MCC’s turn. The following is a look back at our most popular Weekly [whatever] Challenge submissions — the all-time favorites as determined by You, The WordPress Viewers at Home.

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Indiana Comic Con 2018 Photos, Part 3 of 3: Who We Met and What We Did

David Harbour!

David Harbour, a.k.a. Chief Hopper from Netflix’s Stranger Things, getting more than he bargained for in his big weekend.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! This weekend my wife Anne and I attended the fifth annual Indiana Comic Con at the Indiana Convention Center in scenic downtown Indianapolis. It was another opportunity to dive into comic boxes, meet people who make comics, boggle at toy displays, make way for the youngsters who can’t get enough of anime merchandise, and find space to breathe in those cheerfully ever-growing crowds. To be honest, we were surprised how many of the actors on hand were folks we’d met at previous cons, but Anne and I found a few new intriguing names on the guest list and decided to drop by once more.

The biggest name we hadn’t met was, of course, our man Chief Hopper, the hero of Hawkins, the guardian of Eleven, and one of the great cast members from Stranger Things. He was a later addition to the con’s guest list, but his recruitment sealed the deal for our participation. We were far from alone on this, accompanied as we were by thousands of other fans excited for the opportunity.

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The MCC Halloween Archive! (Updated)

David S. Pumpkins!

Straight outta C2E2 2017, he’s still David S. Pumpkins. Any questions?

As a Halloween extra for Midlife Crisis Crossover readers who’ve joined us in recent times, or for anyone who loves a good rerun, we offer any or all of the following links to previous themed celebrations of the Halloween season, all eminently worth reviewing and/or sharing with your closest 50,000 followers. Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

* “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Trick-or-Treaters” — In which I give American kids unsolicited advice on how to do their job properly and earn their free junk food with a clear conscience.

* “Pumpkin Flavored Everything” — Among the precious pieces of fiction ever attempted in MCC’s 1600+ entries to date, this 1000-word tale about family, obsession, and the Great Pumpkin remains the most-Liked.

* “Back When I Wore Halloween Costumes” — Memories of my personal cosplay history, from trick-or-treating as a kid to dressing up in the workplace and other scenarios. Someday I need to plunge into our 35mm collection and dredge up a few of the more embarrassing ones.

* “The Mantis (With Apologies to Poe)” — This obligatory spoof of “The Raven” is based on the absolutely true story of the time a most peculiar animal sat upon our door for several days. And sat. And stared. And sat and sat and SAT.

* “Halloween Stats 2016: Rattling Sabers at Absent Neighbors” — I’ve kept track of our trick-or-treater traffic every year since 2007, when we became first-time homeowners and escaped our old apartment that trick-or-treaters refused to approach. It helps me determine the next year’s inventory, and sometimes I think counting things is fun. Expect a follow-up Tuesday night, though hopefully more than two dozen kids show up for us this time.

Nightmare Pumpkin!

That time I helped paint a Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkin but got denied a prize. Hmph.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover…

Photobucket Rescue!

From the pre-MCC archives: Anne and I as a very different dynamic duo at Wizard World Chicago 2010.

Welcome to Midlife Crisis Crossover! If you’re only recently discovering the site, tonight we present a quick overview of what we’re frequently about when we’re left to our own devices. If you’re an occasional visitor, you might see a tidbit or entry you missed the first time around. If you’re a longtime follower who reads the site so devotedly that you could win trivia contests about us, please enjoy the above photo as a random bonus never before shared here.

Right this way for an MCC recap for new and lapsed readers!

From the MCC Archives: Star Wars! Star Wars! Star Wars!

Walmart Vaders!

That name again: Star Wars! Official merchandise and irrelevant products of marketing synergy are now available in literally every Walmart department! Star Wars: It’s Not Just for Toy Aisles anymore!

From time to time, the Star Wars saga crosses our minds here at Midlife Crisis Crossover. Occasionally it’s a serious thinkpiece; usually it’s poking fun; either way, it’s coming from a longtime affectionate immersion in that phenomenal universe. In honor of the upcoming release of The Force Awakens, the seventh chapter in the live-action film canon as rendered by director JJ Abrams and a cast of whippersnappers and old folks alike, we present the following suggested reading list of essays and gags from MCC’s past. These entries may be undiscovered experiences for new followers, pleasant reruns for our longtime associates, or the perfect drugs for anyone who’s fiending for any form of consumable entertainment with the words “Star Wars” in or on it.

For a virtually complete revue of every major Star Wars entry we’ve ever posted, you can follow MCC’s “Star Wars” tag and, among other omissions, take a tour of every convention and event we’ve ever attended that drew a large turnout of Star Wars cosplayers, including our experiences at Star Wars Celebrations II and III. And don’t forget we were just talking about it a few days ago, though that entry’s far too new for the “archives” label and is therefore disqualified from inclusion. Maybe if we do this again for Episode VIII.

Enjoy, rest assured this list contains no real spoilers for The Force Awakens, and MTFBWY!

Right this way for your recommended Star Wars reading list!

The MCC Christmas Archive 2014!

Christmas with Morgan Freeman

Submitted for your re-approval: the third annual MCC imaginary reading of A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ version of the Christmas story by Not Morgan Freeman. (Freeman photo credit: CynSimp via photopin cc)

By the time many of you glance at this, the Christmas season will be over and your internet contributions for the rest of the year will consist mostly of blocking former loved ones on Facebook and brainstorming New Year’s resolutions that were made to be broken. For anyone who wants to prolong the magic, the following guide to recommended Midlife Crisis Crossover Christmas entries from 2013 and 2014 is provided here as a value-added holiday gift for anyone who’s been too busy for reading this month, for longtime MCC readers who love themed compilations, for those who forgot what last year was like, or for incorrigible MCC spammers who need new pages to infiltrate. For new readers who joined us in 2014, last year’s MCC Christmas archive should bring you up to date on what you missed from MCC Year One, and provides glimpses into what ideas I might be tempted to recycle in 2015.

Enjoy! And if I don’t see you tonight or tomorrow: Merry Christmas!

Frosty the Snowman!

* “My Super Awesome ‘Frosty the Snowman’ Reboot Pitch” — If you click on just one of these entries, let it be my outline for a thirteen-episode Frosty series reboot called Snowman, which totally deserves a mid-season slot on The CW, or maybe Esquire TV. My favorite thing I’ve done all month, possibly one of my five favorite 2014 entries in terms of sheer writing joy.

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The MCC Christmas Archive!

Christmas with Morgan Freeman

Remember when putting words in the mouth of Academy Award Winner Morgan Freeman was a thing? Did that ever stop happening?

Before the Christmas season is too far gone and everyone turns off their internet for the rest of the year, the following guide to Christmas entries from the Midlife Crisis Crossover back catalog is provided here as a value-added holiday gift for any new MCC followers who joined us in 2013, for longtime MCC readers who love themed compilations, or for incorrigible MCC spammers who need new pages to infiltrate. If you’re running low on online reading matter or are interested in seeing the state of MCC ’round this time last year, these free samples are just what the MCC programming department ordered.

PLEASE NOTE: the presentation of this clipfest does not mean I’m going on hiatus until January like a network TV show. I’m still allowing for a day off each week, as I’ve been doing for the past several months, but I expect to stick around and do my part to fill the void left behind by other bloggers jetting off to Grandma’s or Antigua or whatever. To me, holidays don’t seem like a time for not writing. Also, if I take more than one day off per week, site traffic paranoia kicks in and I have to breathe into a paper bag for a few hours, until enough internet wanderers click on that one undying, year-old Wreck-It Ralph entry to make me feel useful again.

Enjoy! And if I don’t see you before then: Merry Christmas!

* * * * *

* “What Christmas is All About: an Imaginary Dramatic Reading” — The meat of this entry is shown above, but the link contains a couple more notes for temporal context.

More MCC Christmas stocking stuffers from last year!

The MCC Halloween Archive!

October fire pit

Bring a lawn chair, cozy up to the fire pit, and share an MCC entry or two from last October with the entire family!

As a Halloween extra for Midlife Crisis Crossover readers who’ve joined us within the past year, or for anyone who loves a good rerun, we offer any or all of the following links to last year’s themed celebrations of the season:

* “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Trick-or-Treaters” — In which I give American kids unsolicited advice on how to do their job properly and earn their free junk food with a clear conscience.

* “Pumpkin Flavored Everything” — Of the four (4) pieces of fiction ever attempted in MCC’s 530-odd entries to date, this 1000-word tale about family, obsession, and the Great Pumpkin remains the most-Liked so far.

* “Halloween Stats 2012; or, the Decline of Trick-or-Treating Civilization” — I’ve kept track of our trick-or-treater traffic every year since 2007, when we became first-time homeowners and escaped our old apartment that trick-or-treaters refused to approach. It helps me determine the next year’s inventory, and sometimes I think counting things is fun. Expect a follow-up this year, though a day late because Indianapolis has officially postponed festivities to Friday due to rampant murderstorms in our Thursday night weather forecast. Boo, hiss.

Enjoy! And Happy Halloween!

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