Eight Stubborn Years Down the Blogging Road

March 2020 sunrise!

The morning of Monday, March 9, 2020, in the early days of folks beginning to retreat from physical civilization.

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, enthusiasm for, offense at, and/or detailed nitpicking of various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollowness, geek lifestyles, food, and Deep Thoughts.

Eight years later. 2,177 entries and over one million words later. Here I remain, still tending that same path.

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MCC Housekeeping Notes: The “Mentions” and “About” Pages

Randall A. Golden, Midlife Crisis Crossover

The previous outdated photo from my “About” page, taken at Starbase Indy 2011.

In this time of uncertainty and depression and aimless meandering around the house, sometimes it’s a good idea to pause, take a hard look at our surroundings, and change things up a bit, especially those things that haven’t been reevaluated in years. It’s not much of an overhaul, but with MCC’s forthcoming eighth anniversary, some mild effort seemed in order.

I’ve spent this evening tinkering with the reference pages linked at the top of every MCC entry. The mandatory “About” page, a common stop for fleeting passersby, has been half-rewritten with new material that clarifies the basics of MCC a little better, in a way that hopefully makes more sense to non-geeks while alienating anyone who works in online marketing. I’ve replaced the photo with a much better one from 2018 that longtime readers may recognize. Please don’t roll your eyes at me for sharing it again. It’s a treasured keepsake and we’re determined to get our money’s worth out of it.

I’ve created a new “Mentions” page that lists other, larger sites that have shared past entries to much larger audiences, with my utmost appreciation and incredulity. Comics news sites, creators, and historic SF fanzines are among those who nodded in our direction like Farmer Hoggett in Babe.

The old “100 Bullet Points” page has been deleted because no one had clicked on it in years. A link to the original entry has been preserved for historical safekeeping, but its value as a feature attraction has plunged to near-zilch.

Enjoy! Comments and questions welcome as always, even though I don’t always come out and say it because I thought it was implied by virtue of having a comments section.

The Best I Could Do on Twitter (So Far)

Clueless Detective Pikachu!

The internet in microcosm: strangers in varying garb, a few of whom actually like being around each other.

I’ve been online for nearly twenty years. I’ve been on Twitter for 9½ years. MCC is nearly eight years old, though I blogged intermittently for six years before that in an even tinier space. I’ve scampered around the tunnels of Usenet, dallied in several message boards, volunteered as an unpaid moderator/admin on one site for nine years, tried the untamed DMZ that is comics discussion sites before running away screaming, and learned quickly that comments sections on major news sites were even larger sinkholes. My internet experience has been a rewarding, exhausting, surprising, discouraging, uplifting, heartbreaking search for the right environments and vehicles for my expressive impulses and my feeble attempts at what those who fit in with others call “networking”.

Luckily for me and my shifting moods, the internet offers a variety of writing formats that suit my ideas, topics, styles, visions, objectives, and wordiness vibe on any given evening. In recent years I’ve carved out comfort zones for myself in two primary outlets: Twitter and this very blog. Each option has its pros and cons. Each yields different rewards.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2019 in Review: The Hermit’s Hunt for Happiness in Hiding

CNN Tour 2!

8/26: An unused souvenir photo from our tour of CNN Studios in Atlanta. The rain is fake. The 2019 mood is real.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the eighth annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This virtual cubicle was slapped together on April 28, 2012, as a place where I could entertain myself by making essay-shaped things out of whatever words and pictures I had at hand, as opposed to surfing social media and hoping all those wandering strangers might make for sufficiently provocative brain engagement. Often it’s been a fulfilling platform to share galleries, memories, Grandpa Simpson-style rambling jags, and peculiar opinions that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. At other times it’s been less satisfying, but I keep whiling away at one of my most time-consuming hobbies anyway. When my head is in the right space, I still enjoy the process in and of itself. Often I still enjoy the results. On rarer occasions, I’m also privileged and honored to enjoy any and every external response received from outside my own head.

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Memo from the MCC Errors & Omissions Department

The Shirt!

File photo of a souvenir my wife picked up from Indy PopCon 2015, where the special guests included Charles Nelson Reilly, TV’s Charo, and Joan Embry from the San Diego Zoo along with her amazing thirty to fifty feral pigs.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: I wrote at length about a six-part miniseries that my wife and I watched on Crackle called The Final Tsars, in which I couldn’t be bothered to open an extra browser tab and verify the full name of the ruler at the heart of the story. The next morning, our first conversation after “Good morning” was a firm reminder that his official stage name was, in fact, “Czar Nicholas II”. MCC regrets the oversight and is sorry if any Russian historians were offended, but we don’t feel like editing the affected entry because it would undermine one of its underlying points and two of its jokes.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover Celebrates 2,000th Entry with Gratuitous Food Metaphors

Indiana State Fair 2009!

Portrait of the author at the 2009 Indiana State Fair.

At times blogging can be like State Fair food science.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover vs. the 7-Year Itch

Funko Pop me!

When you weren’t reading, we held a lottery to give away this Midlife Crisis Crossover exclusive anniversary edition Funko Pop, and my wife won that lottery, so hey, big thanks to everyone who forgot to enter!

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, applause for, revulsion at, and/or confusion arising from various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollow marketing, geek life, and sometimes food. It was also my way of finding a way to give myself excuses to write during a time when joining other people’s conversations was becoming increasingly dissatisfying and rare. Nobody talked about what I wanted to talk about; when they did, my opinions usually got me sent to go stand in the corner or flat-out ignored. And just not typing my thoughts was killing me.

Here we are celebrating MCC’s seventh anniversary, still chugging away like the Little Engine That Could. No book ideas suggested or dreamed of, no writing gigs applied for or parlayed, and no danger of me ever describing myself unironically as an “influencer”, which sounds like an upper-class euphemism for “drug dealer”. But I keep writing anyway.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2018 in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Blogly

me at club!

4/23: Me at a business lunch, which are two words I haven’t strung together in over a decade.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the seventh annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This tiny sandbox was formed on April 28, 2012, as a place where I could entertain myself by making essay-shaped things out of whatever words and pictures I had at hand, as opposed to surfing social media and waiting for excuses to reply to strangers who didn’t ask my opinion. Often it’s been a fulfilling use of galleries, memories, and peculiar opinions that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. At other times it’s been less fulfilling, but something I continue cobbling together anyway, as long as I can keep the fires of motivation stoked.

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My Entry in the Internet Peanut-Gallery Database

Charles Linn page!

It’s cool to see your name in print even when you don’t understand all the words around it.

When you make a longtime hobby out of turning words and pictures into hopefully entertaining compositions, more for the sake of self-satisfaction and human interaction than for lofty aspirations to widespread fame and/or corruptive fortune, it’s always a pleasant surprise when something you did — no matter how tiny or inconsequential it seemed at the time — somehow catches the eye of just the right person and creates an unusual opportunity you’ve never had before, never saw coming, have trouble explaining to others, but draw a bit of pride from anyway.

I’ve had a few such occasions pop up in my life. Another one of those odd little things recently happened for me. I think I now have enough to assemble my own checklist. It’s not long or dignified enough to call a bibliography, but if there were an Internet Peanut Gallery Database — like IMDb, but for nobodies like me — then my IPGDb page would presently look something like this:

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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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Our Privacy Practices Have Changed! Please Come Back Now, Europe?

Certificate of Completion!

We did it! We did it! Now someone tell our European readers we’re safe and legal again.

Over the past few days, internet users have been flooded with notifications from various websites, apps, and mailing lists they signed up for in a previous millennium, all declaring the official implementation of new updates to their privacy practices as mandated by the General Data Protection Regulation, Europe’s latest tool in the war on online shenanigans. At the core, it’s a good thing — European residents using computing gadgets should now have more insight and control into how their personal data is collected, stored, used, abused, and repurposed into fuel for the corporate engines that rely on us to be their consumer puppets. On a certain level it feels like an annoying form of paranoia, but this is the kind of response that occurs when multi-billion-dollar companies can’t give straight, morally upright answers to basic questions about what they do with all the 1s and 0s they harvest from our keystrokes.

As is wont to happen in the wake of radical societal upheavals, Comedy Twitter has been having a field day with the wave of emails, notifications, and pop-ups they’ve been receiving from organizations and proprietors desperate to comply and eager to keep their traffic from European visitors uninterrupted. I’ve laughed at too many to relay here without diminishing the effect, but some responses have been comedy gold.

Then tonight I found out even my own site was affected. I didn’t see that coming.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover Celebrates 6 Years of Stubbornly Blogging All Wrong

Business Mirror!

New head shot taken at a recent business lunch, which is not a phrase that comes naturally to me. Neither do selfies.

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, applause for, revulsion at, and/or confusion arising from various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollow marketing, geek life, and sometimes food. It was also my way of finding a way to give myself excuses to write during a time when joining other people’s conversations was becoming increasingly dissatisfying and rare. Nobody talked about what I wanted to talk about; when they did, my opinions usually got me sent to go stand in the corner or flat-out ignored. And I couldn’t just not type.

Six years and 1,772 entries later, here I remain, not permanently burnt out, not yet out of anecdotes, still finding new experiences to relay, and, once in a blue moon, pulling out a different Moral of the Story to share with the kids these days that I haven’t already hammered into the ground in twelve previous posts.

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Is There Room at the Table for the Fake Followers Among Us?

Buy Followers!

One of many robo-concierges polluting Twitter and willing to assist with your shallow self-image needs.

My favorite piece of journalism so far this year was just published January 27th over at the New York Times and struck a nerve in a number of places. In an epic-length article entitled “The Follower Factory”, the NYT plumbed the wobbly world of Twitter and those peculiar, insecure users who boost their Follower head count by paying a company actual money to bless them with hundreds of thousands of automated “bot” accounts that pretend they’re fans clinging on to their every tweet, for the purpose of making the paying customers look more popular. Some are piecemeal accounts, with profiles barely filled out. Quite a few are the product of surface-level identity theft, cribbing photos and usernames but with a character altered to make it unique (relatively speaking). They don’t praise you, go forth in your name, act as your “street team”, or interact with you or other humans in any meaningful way. They just Follow. They sit there, shut up, and act like you rule.

Companies such as Devumi cheerfully offer low-price options for ordinary web-surfing rabble like me, but they also bank some major cash selling bot followings by the hundreds of thousands to B-list celebrities, politicians, creators, reality TV dwellers, and others at varying levels of fame. The NYT named a few names I recognize — actor John Leguizamo, Chef Michael Symon, onetime MST3K guest star Kathy Ireland, and film critic Richard Roeper, whose Chicago Sun-Times reviews have been suspended pending their internal review. Of those who responded to requests for comment, a few buyers insisted it wasn’t them personally pushing the buttons, but an assistant or social media manager who bought a hollow audience on their behalf for PR strategy or whatever. Whether their deflections are true or not, boosts of fake fame are kind of sad. Granted, some personalities receive perks and bonuses from their corporate overlords based on the looks of their social media metrics, which means a return on their invidious investment is entirely possible. To them I imagine it’s all part of the Game.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2017 in Review: Our Colossal Comic-Con Year

Queen Anne!

Alternate take of Queen Anne on the Iron Throne at Wizard World Chicago 2017.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the sixth annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This unassuming site was launched on April 28, 2012, as a cathartic experiment in writing whatever came to mind without waiting for other people to start my conversations for me, and so far it’s been a fulfilling use of galleries and essays that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. Come January we’ll be reaching our 1,700th entry, reflecting once more on the thousands of man-hours expended to date on this self-expressive vanity project, and rationalizing new excuses to keep sharing even on those harder days when it’s just me, an unresponsive void, and my wife Anne saying nice things to cheer me up.

Good news on the stats front, in a way: 2017 site traffic was up 10.75% over 2016’s, which had nearly matched 2015’s. We’re still nowhere near returning to 2014’s historic levels, but I’ll take any signs of improvement. MCC had a few memorable moments this year, including one special, horrible, awful occasion that saw our largest traffic influx since 2013, the last year we posted costume photos from Gen Con. Curiously, our biggest attraction the previous year was also the result of an unhappy headline that sparked interest in our own personal tangent. The readers of the internet have spoken loud and clear the past two years: they love us most whenever we have something to share about unhappy things. In a coincidental twist, this may also be why people turn to Twitter more than ever for their daily fix of news and/or commentary and/or metaphorical exploding heads.

Onward, then, to our annual blog-stats party! Featuring a selection of photos from the year that was, all outtakes previously unposted here on MCC. Enjoy!

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Midlife Crisis Crossover Celebrates 5 Years of Midlife, Crises, Crossovers

Official Crisis Crosssovers!

For those unfamiliar with the origin of this blog’s name, the clues lie in these DC Comics from 1985.

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, applause for, revulsion at, and/or confusion arising from various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollow marketing, geek life, and sometimes food. That’s more or less what MCC’s About page says, but with a different set of words because verbosity is my shtick.

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The View from Atop the Badlands (and 1,500 Entries)

Badlands!

Call it “South Dakota Gothic”. Photo taken by my son, age 14 at the time and too happy to stay off-camera whenever we’d let him.

Dateline: July 2009. Our road trip east across the length of South Dakota took us to Badlands National Park, which is end-to-end entirely made of geology and panoramas and tourist taking turns whispering, “Whoa.” The above photo from that particular road-trip collection is one of several I’ve never shared online before now. The wide, wondrous view from atop one of the Badlands’ many peaks has come to mind more than once today, least of which was a late showing of Logan in which Our Heroes take their own road trip up through the Dakotas and enjoy a scene in these familiar surroundings. To be honest, said scene was set in North Dakota, not South, but the coloration, texture, and height are identical. And in our case we saw a lot less bleeding. Otherwise, close enough.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2016 Year in Review: The Likes, the Loves, and the Losers

Monument Circle!

May: a rare selfie with my wife Anne on Monument Circle downtown on the day of the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the fifth annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This unassuming site was launched on April 28, 2012, as a cathartic experiment in writing whatever came to mind without waiting for other people to start my conversations for me, and so far it’s been a fulfilling use of galleries and essays that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. Sometime this spring we’ll be reaching our 1,500th entry, reflecting once more on the hundreds of man-hours expended to date on this self-expressive non-profit project, and rationalizing new excuses not to stop, even if by the time I die it’s just me and ad-bots posting harsh emojis at each other down inside the spam filter.

Right this way for our rundown of MCC’s best and worst of 2016!

Partners! The Musical!

Goldens!

Maybe not really. Anne and I do have our sing-a-long moments, whether we’re busting out hymns in the same church service or indulging secret nostalgia on road trips passing through towns where ’80s Top-40 still lives, which describes nearly every small town today outside Footlooseburg. I’m not convinced we could carry our own Broadway show, off-Broadway vanity production, or community performance-art stunt, but if we tried, it would look like this except you could see our jazz hands better on stage. Also, it might be nice if we found a talented stylist to hide all that stately gray that’s overtaking my beard. Nagging aging defects like that can lead to bouts of vain grumpiness and haunting incidents like the time we went to a Red Lobster and the waitress asked me non-jokingly if my daughter would like a children’s menu. True, unfair story.

Right this way for a quick note on another MCC blogging milestone!

If We Were Having Strawberry Shortcake…

Strawberry Shortcake!

Shortbread biscuit, big scoop of vanilla ice cream, generous serving of strawberries drenched in juice that spilled onto both hands and one shoe, and dollop of whipped cream that the top of the box flattened and made slightly less photogenic. This seven-dollar fundraiser dessert was fine by me.

I realize the popular thing for bloggers looking to commiserate with other bloggers is to participate in the popular #WeekendCoffeeShare, in which everyone pretends they’re drinking coffee while rambling about personal goings-on and this interaction eventually translates into superstar writing careers for one and all. I’ve never tried it because I’m not great at blogging according to a calendar (mine or anyone else’s), it’s established fact that I’m terrible at networking and will therefore toil in obscurity till I die satisfied with my choices, I never go to the kind of coffeehouses that serve coffee worth photographing, and I tend to avoid topics that would necessitate resorting to stock photos unless my brain refuses to let such a topic go. But I have new photos from a special occasion today, and a busy night ahead of me before an even busier weekend after that, so I ask your forgiveness for stream-of-consciousness multitasking a smidge outside the box.

Right this way for Indy outdoor photos plus rambling!

20 Lessons Learned from 4 Years of Blogging for Satisfaction Instead of Success

WordPress 4 Years!

Fun trivia: if you try to pay Facebook to “boost” one of your posts so more than five followers will see it, they’ll refuse your money and deny the request if the post has no images, or if its primary image contains more text than picture. I learned that one firsthand in August 2014. Y’know, for science.

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process and this fallen world’s degrading standards on my impressions of, reactions against, and general experiences with various works of art, commerce, wonder, majesty, and shamelessness. It’s my way of keeping the writing part of my brain alive and active, rather than let it atrophy and die. If you’ve read my “About” page, you know this part already.

With four years and 1,277 entries racked up, I’ve now spent more time and enthusiasm on this long-term project than I did in college, both attempts combined. I’ve learned a few things along the way. Sometimes I put one or more of those lessons to good use. Other days, I just gotta be me, and hope that’s good enough for anyone else outside my own head.

Right this way for What I Know Now That I Didn’t Back Then…

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