Halloween Stats 2020: How New Candy Protocol Saved the Night

Halloween decorations!

Longtime MCC readers have seen a few of these decorations before. All a part of the tradition.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, even when we’re expecting discouraging results.

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Reaching Out Through the Zoom Lens

Zoom Jazz Hands!

As you’d expect, our most requested pose. Special thanks to my sister-in-law for the screen shot.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: for the duration of the interim normal, all other human bodies are to be treated as walking land mines, held at a remove, and if one approaches you, go hide and let them detonate in someone else’s face instead.

In these extreme circumstances we’ve sometimes found ourselves doing things far outside the old, complacent, pre-fatality routines. Letting our hair grow into shaggy 1970s grotesquerie. Taking early morning walks around our neighborhood. Calling elderly relatives before they call us first. Posting on Facebook.

Our latest deviation from the norm: hopping on a communication technology bandwagon.

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Halloween Stats 2019: Into the Valley of Death Rode the 14

Halloween Decor!

Some of our yard decor. I really need to stock up on some new gear, though.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, no matter how discouraging the results.

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Photos #4: Rising with Skywalkers

Colbert Abrams Kennedy!

Our host Stephen Colbert., director J.J. Abrams, and producer Kathleen Kennedy, streaming to us live from a galaxy far, far away.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, 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 was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…

The centerpiece of the entire weekend, its biggest event, its most anticipated breaking news story, was the long-awaited first trailer for Star Wars Episode IX, as yet un-subtitled when the convention began. The trailer’s release was scheduled as part of an hour-long presentation which would star director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy, at the very least. Additional unnamed guests were promised. It was fair to assume these surprise pop-ins would be the big, big-name costars from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, almost none of whom were on the show’s main guest list.

Everyone wanted in on that event. Everyone wanted to be part of that live magic. Everyone wanted to count their first viewing of the trailer among their greatest SWCC 2019 memories. Not everyone got their wish.

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name Until They’re Gone and It’s Just You Left

Cheers Lady!

“You want to be where you can see troubles are all the same.” With or without alcohol, really.

Some introverts treasure those few places where we can feel like we belong. I mean in the physical world, not just online.

Comfortable spaces where we feel less weird and have reasons to hold up our end in a conversation instead of retreating from it. Areas where we can find common ground with folks who don’t think of us as strangers, who might even attempt eye contact despite how unnatural it can feel. Benign territories where the sight of a familiar face is a boost to our spirits, where mere recognition is validation, the baseline brownie points of existence. They admit they see me; they don’t slam the door in my face; ergo, I matter.

I’ve had a few of those places in my lifetime. That list doesn’t seem to be expanding much as I get older without becoming any more outgoing, which is a thing that happens for some folks as they age but hasn’t yet been the case with me.

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Halloween Stats 2018: 78 Minutes of Human Connection and Candy

Lowes Witch!

When the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations all compete for shelf space at the same time, it gets hard to remember which holiday is WITCH. EEEEEEH-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEEEEEEEE!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and beneficent snack donation. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, no matter how discouraging the results.

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Faces in a Crowd of Caring

Gleaners Food bank!

Our team of volunteers busy and bustling and bagging away.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, each year from 2014 to 2016:

[My employers] gave several hundred of us the opportunity to spend half a workday (on the clock!) participating in scheduled acts of service at various charities throughout Indianapolis — charitable synergy courtesy of United Way. I signed up and went forth to serve at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, one of the most prominent resources in local hunger relief efforts. Despite their long-standing presence and far-reaching efforts, Gleaners has yet to run out of work. Like any major city, Indianapolis has its share of poverty-stricken residents, food deserts, regrettable layoffs, and hard times during recessions. Officially, the Food Bank doesn’t hand out food directly to the needy; it’s the distributor that provides foods to food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, domestic abuse hideaways, and the like. The Food Bank, in turn, receives its supplies via donations from the big-box stores (Kroger, Meijer, Marsh, Walmart), from government suppliers, and from food drives held by other corporations and organizations. It’s a complex delivery system with many important components, and help is always welcome.

…and so it went again in this outtake from September 2017, when dozens of my coworkers and I flocked to Gleaners once more for another round of assistance with their various anti-hunger processes. This year I was on a team tasked with filling up bags of groceries that would be handed out to local schoolchildren in need — canned, boxed, and pouch-shaped items of varying degrees of nourishment, all to ensure they’d have something to eat besides their school lunches.

I didn’t write up the experience this time for MCC because honestly, after four years, what else is there to say? Other than copying-and-pasting the same description, which I just did there? The work is sadly still necessary, and many of us were happy to pitch in. We weren’t there to show off or stand out or selfie our way to victory. We were just faces in a crowd ready and willing to do our little part. I lost track of how many bags we put together in all — somewhere in triple digits? — but we kept busy, kept the assembly line going steady, and kept up hopes that we made a difference to someone out there.

security camera!

A reflection of our volunteer group off the overhead camera shield, milling about in our service.

Halloween Stats 2017: Kudos to the Comeback Kids

Lowe's Skeletons!

Happy couple enjoying their minutes in the Halloween spotlight at a local hardware store before Santa shoves them out of the way.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and beneficent snack donation. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, no matter how discouraging the results.

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Special Holiday Clearance Giveaways with Love

Meat Donations!

If you’re viewing this photo gallery from a comfy living space on a full stomach, these discount meats probably aren’t meant for you.

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Halloween Stats 2016: Rattling Sabers at Absent Neighbors

David S. Pumpkins!

Oddly, I never took a single Halloween-related photo this year, so instead please enjoy this nearly irrelevant salute to David S. Pumpkins before he changes into his Thanksgiving gear.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and beneficent snack donation. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that fiends for taking head counts, no matter how disheartening the results.

Right this way for our annual holiday stats round-up!

Halloween Stats 2015: The Comeback Before the Storm

Star Wars Halloween!

At Walmart, The Force infringes on the Great Pumpkin’s religious turf.

Once again our annual Halloween traditions were besieged with lousy weather that interfered with the one day out of the entire year that my neighbors and I agree to look at each other. Fortunately, this year Mother Nature compromised: temperatures were in the rather hospitable low 50s, much preferable to last year’s anti-seasonal snowfall, and the rains didn’t arrive till around 7:30. In fact, the precipitation was so gentle that we no idea it was even raining till I went to shut off the lights at 8:30. That went a long way toward explaining why we’d gone a full 55 minutes with no further visitors. Duh.

Right this way for three more photos, including my wife’s first costume in years!

Prayers and Thoughts Needed for the Rarasaur Family

Grayson Queen.

Rarasaur’s husband Dave, a.k.a. “Grayson Queen”.

Last year around this time, MCC brought you an inadequate summation of the story of Rarasaur, an optimistic, indefatigable, widely beloved WordPress blogger who’d been sent to prison under deplorable circumstances.

As of this writing she’s still serving the remaining time on her sentence. We asked for your prayers, thoughts, and other forms of benevolence on her behalf. The happy dinosaur button in the lower-right corner of this page remains in place as tribute. Before The MAN sent her up the river, she was among the neatest of the coolest of the awesomest ’round these parts.

In her absence, her husband continued his own blog and self-publishing efforts under the name Grayson Queen. It goes without saying that times were tough for him throughout her initial months away, but a series of entries earlier this year had indicated an upswing in his fortunes, new employment opportunities, and a renewed dedication to the pursuit of his creative endeavors.

Up until last week, anyway. In the two most recent entries he reported signs of physical issues that to me sounded downright frightening at the time. His subdued writing style conveyed some slight urgency, but not really panic. Maybe he downplayed the symptoms. Maybe he did have them under control. Maybe they were wholly unrelated to what happened next.

Last night the WordPress community received word from the couple’s loyal friend DJ Matticus that he passed away this week at age 35.

At the moment few details are available, but the gracious Mr. Matticus, who’s already been immensely generous in helping to relay Rara’s ongoing behind-bars journals to her fans where possible, has provided what little is known, and he’s provided contact info for anyone who’d like to mail condolences, prayers, thoughts, or other direly needed supportive expressions of love to Rara during this absolutely tragic worst-case scenario.

I’m fumbling for words on this inconceivable occasion, but that last link has the important details and an outpouring of heartfelt words in their honor.

Thanks sincerely for your consideration.

#RawrLove

Let Me Know When “Community” Season 6 is on DVD

Community!

Abed and Jeff during the premiere’s Apology Montage. Maybe someday I’ll accept it, but I’m just not ready tonight.

The big television event is here! Except not on television. At last, the fabled meta-sitcom Community returned tonight with the first two all-new episodes of its sixth season, but not on NBC anymore. Instead, in what I hope was a self-aware feat of ironic self-handicapping, the show has relocated to Yahoo! Screen, which spent the past ninety minutes of my life acting like RealPlayer used to in the ’90s, except larger and hopefully with a little less spyware. Yahoo!’s entry into the internet streaming competition didn’t fare well in the test sessions I’d performed prior to tonight, but I wanted to persevere anyway for the sake of the show that’s produced four of the funniest seasons of TV ever.

I took performance notes during the experience for posterity and as an outlet for my disappointment. With the streaming results, I mean, not with the actual show.

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Halloween Stats 2014: Snow Falling on ‘Treaters

White Halloween!

Maybe next year we can buy new Halloween decorations with voice chips that sing Christmas carols.

The photo at left was taken earlier tonight, on Halloween night. No, those aren’t real birds. Yes, that is real snow. This kind of poorly timed, anti-holiday pandemonium is what happens when you live in a state that refuses to legislate holiday weather. THANKS, YOU PARTISAN HACKS. I’ll remember this next week on Election Day and all of you will pay somehow.

We knew tonight would be rough. Everyone around us has been talking about the ominous weather forecast for days and preparing for either disappointment or pneumonia. Last year’s event wasn’t freezing or flurrying; worse, it brought a severe thunderstorm that forced Indianapolis to take unprecedented drastic measures and postpone Halloween till November 1st. I didn’t blame them, but the rescheduling killed our turnout. If there were a cartoon nemesis actively trying to end Halloween as part of his master plan to take over the world, he probably spent that night cackling and proposing toasts to himself.

Tonight’s Halloween proceeded on schedule, despite some early light rain and sharp, gusty winds all throughout. I understand snowflakes showed up much earlier in other parts of Indiana, but ours came later. Regardless, the damage was done. We saw very few kids under age five, very few loners braving the harshness solo, and very few young Method actors opting out of winter gear in the name of costume integrity.

Right this way for this year’s attendance figures!

The Hunger Boxers

Gleaners!

Photo by a cheerful Gleaners representative. They strongly encouraged social media sharing. Consider it done!

No, that’s not a photo of my interim reign as CEO of the Box Factory. But I can dream.

Last week my employer tried something new: they gave several hundred of us the opportunity to spend half a workday (on the clock!) participating in scheduled acts of service at various charities throughout Indianapolis — charitable synergy courtesy of United Way.

I signed up and went forth to serve last Thursday morning at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, one of the most prominent resources in local hunger relief efforts. Oddly, my shift happened a full week before our local media declared today as Hunger Action Day. My coworkers and I may have missed that holiday, but I should hope our efforts were useful regardless of timing.

More about my day in a makeshift Minecraft scene…

Rallying for Rarasaur.

Rarasaur!

The original Rarasaur mascot says hi!

Once upon a time, there was a happy, prolific blogger named Rara, read and loved by many. In her time on WordPress she’s been a font of creativity, effervescence, community spirit, encouragement, whimsy, thoughtfulness, and simple ways of pulling out of downward spirals. She’s been featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed main stage more than once. She’s been a frequent guest contributor on other sites, from relative unknowns to the official site for The Queen Latifah Show.

Full disclosure: I’m a follower. We’ve exchanged comments back and forth on each other’s sites and shared geek thoughts and sensibilities. Many, many other folks in the WordPress community could say the same and have better, more inspirational stories to tell. She’s respected and cheerily infectious that way.

And then one dreadful day she saw coming, The MAN sent Rara to jail.

How you can help in little ways…

Halloween Stats 2013: Citywide Raincheck Crushes Holiday Spirit

cheap Halloween mascots

My two perennial centerpieces, the disturbing duo of Plastic Faceless Reaper and the Bewildering Spider-Skull . And MCC readers who look closely will recognize a character from a previous entry!

First time in my life, as far as I can recall: this year the city of Indianapolis postponed trick-or-treating until November 1st due to a severe thunderstorm forecast for Halloween night. Considering how the eventual storm left thousands of residents without power for hours, I can’t dispute that it was the right call from a public safety standpoint. Our household was spared the worst of the ostensible onslaught. Our lights blinked once, and one of my Halloween crows fell on its side. If there’s a problem level more insignificant than “first-world problems”, that’s where our threat level fell.

The unavoidable rain delay killed our neighborhood turnout, though.

Click here for dismal results…

“Community”: Subjective Observation of Carcharodon Hurdling Symptoms

Puppets, Community, NBCI’ve tried to watch the fourth season of Community with an open mind. I promise I have. I wanted the privilege of cheering it on as it defied the cliché of the TV series that falters after the departure of its creator. I wanted to witness a strong group collaboration surviving the loss of a single participant, no matter how integral he was. I wanted to see a show continue defying convention and seeking eccentric storytelling methods within the corporate IP context. I wanted more of the same Community whose first three seasons had repeatedly surprised and outsmarted me.

Perhaps I wanted too much. Perhaps I wanted all the wrong things. All I know for sure is that I didn’t want an ordinary sitcom. With each passing week the evidence keeps pointing in that disappointing direction, no matter how hard I wish for the opposite.

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Geek/Nerd Clichés I Thought Were Over by Now

Community, Troy, Abed, BrittaI had been looking forward to last week’s new episode of Community, “Conventions of Space and Time”, which invited us into the inner workings of an official Inspector Spacetime convention, a place where Troy and Abed could meet other fans of the obscure British TV series, indulge in a few hobby-related purchases, and generally be themselves. As someone who’s been to C2E2 twice, Wizard World Chicago four times, three GenCons so far, two Star Wars Celebrations, and several local Trek conventions, I was curious to see how the generally geek-approved series would approach such a setting. I tried to keep my expectations modest — without creator Dan Harmon around anymore, this season’s first two episodes were a little shaky. I’ve stuck with the show and keep hoping for the best.

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“Community” Returns, Makes NBC Thursdays Super Again, With or Without Ratings

Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, Community, NBC

Warning: those uncharacteristically dopey smiles are a LIE.

Before the autumn start of the 2012-2013 season, Thursdays had been my densest, most entertaining network-TV viewing night of the week. No single network is capable of capturing my attention for two straight hours in a single night anymore, but for two years NBC assembled a potent lineup that successfully reserved ninety minutes out of several of my Thursday evenings. Last fall they tampered with the formula and diminished my enjoyment. Their grave aesthetic error freed up a little more time for me to spend on other activities, but a tiny part of me regretted the price that was paid for it.

As of tonight, NBC is back in the business of catering specifically to me once again. For the next few months, my Thursdays have returned to form with all the right series back in the correct batting order as follows:

* Community: For dedicated fans like myself and my son, October 19th arrived at long last tonight with its fourth-season premiere, a full 111 days after NBC first promised it would be. The four-month drought was dispiriting, filled as it was with very little meta-humor, a complete lack of Troy and Abed in the Morning, and a heartbreaking parade of lost souls who keep telling me how much they prefer The Big Bang Theory, just to make me cry in my sleep.

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