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A Right Way and a Wrong Way to Do Coffee and Donuts

Hilligoss Bakery donuts

Three fine ways to kick off a Saturday morning before a shopping spree.

Behold my Saturday morning sugary wake-up call from Hilligoss Bakery, a local establishment in the nearby town of Brownsburg since 1974. They relocated several years ago to a standalone building that once housed a frozen custard joint, but have made the place their own with an exemplary array of donuts and danishes, as well as fast and reliable customer service. They sell a limited selection of drinks on the side, including a couple of different varieties of freshly brewed coffee — nothing fancy, no aspirations to double as an artisan coffeehouse, but they keep it brewing steadily for not-so-finicky coffee drinkers like me. They’re pastry purveyors non pareil located fifteen minutes from our house, but in a direction we rarely find reason to travel, so we’re not quite regular customers (yet). We do recommend them to anyone with an excuse to be in the vicinity.

This morning I made the command decision to go out of our way toward their vicinity. To be honest, Hilligoss wasn’t our first stop, but our day had started off on the wrong foot and I knew they’d set it right.

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FandomFest 2017 Photos, Part 1 of 2: The Hopeless Optimists’ Version

Matthew Lillard!

Ladies and gentlemen, Matthew Lillard! You might remember him from such films as Scream and Scooby-Doo! He’s a party!

“…and that’s why I say Louisville CANNOT STAND for this grave injustice one moment longer!” I bellowed into the Q&A stage microphone.

The crowd of righteous, wronged fans cheered me and waved their Funco Pops in the air while a pair of Louisville detectives escorted the owners of FandomFest away in handcuffs, ankle cuffs, and scarlet letter Rs (for “ripoff”) spray-painted on their thousand-dollar suit jackets. At last, all the sins of these unrepentant hucksters stood exposed and would be held accountable. Justice would soon be ours thanks to the newly instituted Department of Geekland Security.

I passed the mic to the nearest Colonel Sanders cosplayer, who had been hastily appointed the convention’s interim chairman in accordance with Kentucky convention regulations. Next to him stood a six-foot tall KFC bucket because of course it did. He shook my hand and faced the crowd.

“I am SO SORRY that fandom has had to endure this charade, but soon we will put this right!” He pointed emphatically at random points in the crowd. “I vow that you shall get a refund! And YOU get a refund! And YOU get a REFUND! ALL Y’ALL WILL GET REFUNDS!”

The applause and roars and whistles reached ear-shattering decibel levels, a standing ovation rivaling any ever endured at the Oscars. And just when we thought we fans couldn’t explode any harder, a pair of hands burst through the giant paper chicken bucket and waved at everyone.

Out of the mega-bucket climbed an enthusiastic Weird Al Yankovic. He’d come after all, cleverly disguised as food. We should’ve known.

Weird Al took the mic from the Colonel, summoned his band out from behind the nearest support columns, and proceeded to play a free three-hour greatest hits dance-party concert, followed by unlimited photo ops and autograph signings that lasted well into the night.

We were content.

* * * * *

…okay, so FandomFest didn’t turn out exactly as I’d imagined.

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Our 2017 Road Trip #1: Avis Presents the 100-Mile False Start

Temp Gauge!

Pro driving tip: red lights on a dashboard are not good. They are not reminders that Christmas is coming.

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, and again in 2016 when we returned to New York City by plane, a rare departure from our usual road trip format. This year Anne and I felt the road beckoning to the two of us once more and returned to our usual wingless, wheels-down approach to viewing the American countryside without skipping all the informative and/or imaginative stops between points A and B.

After months of deliberation, 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.

As residents of a sizable metropolis that sometimes appears on “10 Dangerous Cities” lists ourselves, we know what it’s like to dwell someplace that has plenty of worthwhile businesses and activities that are safe to check out as long as you know which ‘hoods aren’t the kindest to casual bystanders. We did our homework, vetted our possibilities, steeled our nerves, asked our friends to stop making those faces, and made it happen. Please be assured no chapters in this very special MCC series will contain our obituaries. We proved to ourselves that a Baltimore getaway is doable and has highlights to offer. As added incentive, we discovered a number of historical stopovers on the way there and back again to enliven our driving experience.

But first we had to escape Indiana. That should not have been a hard part in our journey.

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Farewell, Milano Inn. We Just Barely Knew Ye.

Milano Inn!

At the time we were excited to be there and had no idea the stop sign was deep, clever foreshadowing.

When it’s time to pay respects and say goodbye to a cherished person, place, or thing, sometimes it’s good not to wait till the last minute. Better still, keeping in touch and enjoying their presence while things are going well means you don’t have to feel quite so lousy if they depart without you orchestrating a proper sendoff.

Today my wife and I had fun plans in downtown Indianapolis in the morning, a nephew’s birthday party out in Brownsburg in the afternoon, and a gap between them that might fit a nice lunch. Our schedule filled itself out when we learned this week that the Milano Inn, a renowned Italian restaurant serving the Circle City since 1934, would be closing its doors for good at the end of 2016, a year that just won’t stop racking up casualties. A husband-and-wife date before their farewell seemed in order.

Key word: “seemed”.

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Saturday Night’s Not All Right for Fast Food

Icky Dump

Three Saturdays ago my wife and I returned to town after a long, long drive and had neither energy nor willpower to cook supper at home. We weren’t in the mood to wait 60-120 minutes for a table at your Olive Garden/Red Lobster level of weekend hotspots. We’d already racked up a number of single-day expenses and were neither amenable nor properly dressed to go overspend on a nicer, classier, posher, less crowded establishment. So we decided to stop for fast food.

On a Saturday night. I know better than this.

When things went south, they set off a series of flashbacks to my previous career track and reminded me exactly why I should know better.

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Our Least Favorite Wizard World Chicago 2014 Souvenirs

Autograph Ticket!My wife and I are now at home recuperating after spending the last two days at Wizard World Chicago. As usual it was a whirlwind cavalcade of comics, costumes, actors, fans, merchandise, art, commerce, geek glee, exhaustion, frustration, and disappointment. All of those elements, for better or worse, are unavoidable in the average convention experience. Some pleasures make us giddier than others; some situations grieve us more than others.

To its credit, we’re not knee-jerk Wizard World haters. For all the flak they draw online for a variety of reasons, they get a lot of things right that other fledgling convention companies take years to figure out. We’ve personally attended conventions where management was poor, tempers were boiling, and mutinies were nigh and not entirely unjustified. We’ve heard still other horror stores from other Midwest cons. Numerous entertainment companies are out there competing for the chance to become the San Diego of the American heartland. Wizard World is not in last place.

As expected, MCC will be providing you, the Viewers at Home, with copious photos from our Wizard World Chicago 2014 experience over the next few days, though I honestly have no idea how many entries in all. I haven’t yet uploaded my pics or looked at my wife’s as of the moment I’m typing this sentence, and we still have a Doctor Who season premiere to watch On Demand. Also, there are adult, non-internet chores begging for my attention. I’m pretty sure some of you will be pleased with the results, even though we skipped the costume contest. We had our reasons, some of them logistical.

In general, this weekend was successful on a number of levels for us. But not on every level. Pictured here are Exhibits A and B for the prosecution — the front of one card, and the front and back of another. Together these limited-edition artifacts cost us $40.00 to bring home unredeemed.

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