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My Favorite Steve Ditko Comic, According to Me at Age 7

Killjoy!

If you only know Steve Ditko from Spider-Man movie credits, there’s a lot you don’t know.

Comic book fans are in mourning tonight over the news that legendary artist Steve Ditko was discovered dead in his apartment on June 29th. To the majority he’s known for a variety of creations and co-creations to his name — not just Spider-Man, but Dr. Strange, Squirrel Girl, DC’s the Question, the Creeper, and a long list of lesser-known quirky, oddly dressed champions of justice.

If anyone asks what the quintessential Ditko comic is, the correct answer is Amazing Spider-Man #33, an unconventional story then and now. Our Hero spends nearly the entire issue trapped under several tons of wreckage, unable to free himself easily, despondent that this may be his last hurrah, but slowly, surely, convincing himself he can find some way to save the day.

When I heard of Ditko’s passing, Spidey #33 wasn’t the first comic that popped into my head. As my brain is wont to do, it went obscure and reached farther back in time to a comic I hadn’t thought about in years.

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Adam West 1928-2017

Adam West and Burt Ward!

That time two Dynamic Duos met at Awesome Con Indy 2014.

Saturday morning, Anne and I were at a major event waiting to meet TV’s Dean Cain when news broke that the Adam West had passed away at 88 from leukemia. At first we didn’t believe it. Whether we’re in a small town or a big city, whether we’re among fellow geeks or ordinary folks, that’s the kind of allegation we don’t accept at face value.

“To the phones!” I half-jokingly shouted as we both clicked to our most trusted sources for confirmation. Alas, it was true. The moment was depressing yet sublimely absurd — here we are in line for Superman only to have someone tell us Batman is dead.

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Cowboy Bob, 1942-2016

Cowboy Bob!

Until I was in high school, the only TV our family could afford was a 13-inch black-and-white set. This, to me, is how Cowboy Bob always looked and always will look. Except much squarer, because this image is cropped in the wrong shape.

For once the worst news of my entire day had nothing to do with deaths or Presidential election. Any Indianapolis native over the age of 30 was saddened today to hear about the passing of local TV legend Cowboy Bob, a kiddie-show host and super-friendly personality who played a major role in so many childhoods during his illustrious career on the air, along with his dog Tumbleweed and his greatest puppet, Sourdough the Singing Biscuit, who was as deformed and low-budget as you’d imagine. But he was our deformed low-budget singing biscuit puppet and Cowboy Bob made him happen.

(All the professional news sources insist his name was Bob Glaze. This information is injurious to my rare moment of nostalgia. These journalists were clearly children at the wrong time. His name was Cowboy Bob. SAY HIS NAME.)

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Portrait of the Writer as a One-Time Two-Parent Kid

Golden!

Me at seven months old. My grandma’s caption written on the back of the photo begins, “Mommie had to take him. Daddy was in too big a hurry + didn’t give him time to look at him first.”

The annual MCC year-in-review clipfest and stats party will be coming later this week, but before we get to the fun stuff, perhaps a separate epilogue is due for one of the most (ostensibly) significant events that happened within any of my circles in 2015.

Back in September my father passed away after years of illness and decades of questionable choices. The week that followed was unlike any I’d experienced before — leaving me at a loss for words for a few days, engendering a wellspring of condolences from family and friends, creating no small number of moments both heartfelt and awkward and rife with flawed, generous assumptions.

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The MCC Swag Box! As Seen on TV in My Head!

MCC Swag Box!

When your humble Midlife Crisis Crossover narrator was a kid, Hickory Farms ruled the gift-set market with their carefully arranged and packaged snack assortments that were perfect for holidays, birthdays, and weddings for couples who forgot to register anywhere. The big HF put presents inside their presents so you could gift while you gift. They’re still in business today, but their marketing is more selective than it used to be in those halcyon shopping days when we could drive to the nearest mall and stock up on summer sausage anytime we felt like it.

In recent years the burgeoning geek-demographic market has taken the idea in a different direction. For those who’d rather buy hodgepodges for themselves and keep them rolling in like clockwork, Loot Crate offers a monthly subscription service that fills fans’ mailboxes with bobbleheads, remaindered toys, unpopular overstock, weird reading matter, and more bobbleheads. Sensing a possible fad in the offing, Wizard World launched its own copycat club called ComicConBox, which does much the same for more than twice the price. If you want your house filled with random knickknacks and characters you’ve never heard of, either service is a fine way to accumulate future Goodwill donations.

I recently exchanged words with a rep at a company called Man Crates, which returns the gift-set idea to its roots as a single-package special event, but expands the paradigm beyond the old meats-and-cheeses domain. Mind you, those are still on the table, in sets with names like “Cow-pocalypse”, “Pit-Master”, and one that sells itself with the one-word name “Bacon” (kinda like “Madonna” or “Thunderlips”). As befitting the name, several Man Crate options focus on other manly-man pursuits such as golfing, grilling, tools, shaving, large dogs, hot sauce, and zombie defense (because YOU NEVER KNOW).

For other not-manly-man folks like me, they have gift sets for gaming, coffee, baby care, and Asian snacks (my son would love this). When thinking of me, the Man Crate rep thought of their nostalgia-riffic “Old School” crate, which teams up classic playthings like Rubik’s Cubes and Pez dispensers with an array of candies as seen in the drive-ins, drugstores, and corner convenience stores of my youth. If you or your loved ones have the means to open an actual wooden crate, they have a Man Crate in mind.

The rep posed a question to me: what would I pack in an “Old School” crate?

That brings us to a little spinoff invention I’d have to call…the MCC Swag Box!

Right this way for my idea of what made the ’80s!

MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #8: “Scorpion”

Scorpion!

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Scorpion the Best New Series on TV!

That’s my honest assessment based purely on how its pilot stacked up against the nine others I’ve watched so far in my ongoing marathon. When I first read about the premise — the short version is, our government pays wacky hackers to save the world every week — my initial impression was a CSI: Big Bang Theory that would have depressing things in store for me. I feared the limited plot possibilities that would be solved every episode with some combination of “Let’s Enhance!” zooms and frenetic compute-offs in which Our Heroes must TYPE FASTER OR ELSE THINGS EXPLODE, all while we point and laugh at their personal defects. The first twenty minutes of the pilot saw my prophecy fulfilled for the benefit of CBS viewers who prefer that their shows look exactly like other CBS shows.

Then a strange thing happened during the back half of the premiere. This time, things got personal for me.

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