My 2020 Reading Stacks #3

Reading Stack 2020 3!

Three books edited under the same guiding principle: for fans, by fans.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year, each and every squarebound work of qualifying length that I’ve read gets a capsule review apiece. I refrain from devoting entries to full-length book reviews because 999 times out of 1000 I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it. As time permits and the finished books pile up, I’ll be charting my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections in a staggered, exclusive manner here, for all that’s worth to the outside world. Due to the way I structure my media-consumption time blocks, the list will always feature more graphic novels than works of prose and pure text. Novels and non-pictographic nonfiction will still pop up here and there, albeit in an outnumbered capacity…

And now, we rejoin reading time already in progress…

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #6: Still More Cosplay on Parade Continued Yet Again

Whovians!

Doctors and Daleks and Davros, oh, my!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

…such as that Saturday morning parade through downtown Atlanta. In this installment we throw in a smattering of Doctor Who and then another roundup of random characters from science fiction and here and there and everywhere. Same cautions apply as last time: we’re pros, not fans; corrections are very welcome if we misname anyone; we do take requests, but can’t guarantee we photographed every parade participant; enjoy!

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C2E2 2019 Photos #2: David Tennant!

David Tennant!

The Tenth Doctor is very, very in.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! My wife Anne and I just got home from the tenth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous conventions in larger, more popular states. We missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team…

…and often pose for jazz-hands photos as a team. To wit: our special moment with David Tennant. You might remember him from such shows as Doctor Who, Jessica Jones, Broadchurch, and more. Technically this moment should’ve happened sooner — Tennant was originally scheduled as a guest at Wizard World Chicago 2017 but had to cancel on the day-of for understandable, serious reasons. Frankly, I was worried he’d have to cancel again, but he thankfully didn’t encounter the same work-visa issues that have hindered the plans of other would-be convention guests from overseas over the past few weeks. For us, this photo therefore represents relief, fandom fulfilled, and extremely delayed gratification.

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Wizard World Chicago 2018 Photos, Part 6 of 6: Objects of Affection

cat nurse!

Space taxidermy! Me and a Sister of Plenitude from Doctor Who.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found ample enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. A few guest cancellations dampened our spirits somewhat, but we persevered and enjoyed our couple’s outing anyway, especially since Anne’s entire weekend admission was free as a consolation prize given to her and a couple thousand other fans after David Tennant’s last-minute cancellation last year.

Now that site traffic has subsided to its normal insignificant levels and all our visitors and new acquaintances have retreated to their respective internet corners, we wrap our miniseries with one last photo gallery in honor of what it’s all about: all that stuff around the convention. Everywhere we walk in an exhibit hall, we’re surrounded by millions or nifty items , whether for sale or for display only. Two organizations in particular brought their finest collections to entertain, to educate, to raise funds, and/or to treat fans to deeper glimpses into revered elements from their favorite fictional multiverses.

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Our 2017 in Jazz Hands: Another MCC Convention Photo-Op Gallery

Alex Kingston!

My personal fave from this year: at WIzard World Chicago, Alex Kingston, whom I first saw on NBC’s ER. Much later she returned as Doctor Who‘s Professor River Song. She was one among three of the Doctor’s companions we met in 2017.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, one year ago:

Here in the doldrums of January, when not much is going on outside our humble abode, my wife Anne and I have already tentatively mapped out our 2017 convention plans, with room for additions if any wild opportunities come up in the months ahead. As an antidote to the soggy winter blues and the current political climate that has all but murdered my enjoyment of most of the internet lately, we’d like to take a look back at the actors we’ve met over the past three years with this very special photo compilation of one of our favorite convention activities: asking actors if they’ll join us in a bit of jazz hands.

That previous gallery collected our jazz-hands experiences from 2014 to 2016. Our 2017 has come and gone and, as previously reported, we broke our personal record for most events attended in a single year, which added up to a veritable chorus line full of what Broadway pros call “Fosse fingers”. We won’t come anywhere close to topping ourselves in 2018 or for the foreseeable future, so 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, including one accredited pro who was actually there on the front lines at the dawn of the jazz-hands era.

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Wizard World Chicago 2017 Photos, Part 5 of 5: Who We Met and What We Did

Billy Boyd!

Ain’t no party like a Pippin party ’cause a peppy perky poppin’ Pippin party got pizzazz!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time once more! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found much enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. Friday night left us near death by the end of our day, after a few miles’ worth of walking up and down the aisles and hallways, with breaks to go stand in lines of varying lengths and value. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Our ninth visit to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center of course had its share of ups and downs. Some letdowns were beyond our control. Some stresses could have been avoided. Some volunteers could’ve used actual training. But for our entertainment tastes, temperaments, and frequently adjusted expectations, this year’s WWC was an overall success. It helps that we’re Doctor Who fans. If there’s anything we’ve learned from the Doctor, it’s that weird twists are all part of the game, and sometimes you just have to resign yourself to a lot of running.

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Wizard World Chicago 2017 Photos, Part 4 of 5: Objects of Affection

Throne Anne!

We don’t watch Game of Thrones, but I trust Anne has nailed the intended mood.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time once more! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found much enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. Friday night left us near death by the end of our day, after a few miles’ worth of walking up and down the aisles and hallways, with breaks to go stand in lines of varying lengths and value. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In this penultimate gallery: a look at some of the nifty items around the show floor, whether for sale or for posing with. The merchandise! The snacks! The movie vehicle replicas! The Iron Throne!

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Keeping the Ships in Order

TARDISes!

I like to imagine myriad Doctors from across the multiverse fighting over which TARDIS is whose.

Pictured above is a forgotten scene from Indiana Comic Con 2016, a perfect example of how much work goes into planning and executing a convention, and how organized and squared everything appears to onlookers if you pull everything off without a hitch. Every large-scale convention requires a lot of moving parts — much in plain sight, a few under the hood, plenty moving across the counter if buyers and sellers each play their parts. Maintaining the order is no simple feat.

As the routines go for those behind the counter, so goes a different set for those of us approaching the counters, bringing our offbeat interests to the party, our want lists, our spending impulses, and other critical factors that make comic, toy, and collectible shops a viable career track for anyone. Planning is vital for the sake of the geek economy.

Right this way for not much more than this!

My Free Comic Book Day 2017 Results, Best to Least Best

Spectacular Spider-Man!

Spidey and the Vulture, both older than they’ll appear in the next film. Art by Paolo Siqueira, Frank D’Armata, and one of the four credited inkers.

On May 6th my wife and I had the pleasure of once again observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all. Readers of multiple demographics, thankfully including lots of youngsters, flocked to our local stores and had the opportunity to enjoy samplers from all the major comic companies and dozens of indie publishers. This year’s assortment saw a metric ton of all-ages comics far outnumbering the adults-only options, served up by a plethora of publishers great and small, hopefully many of whom will still be around a year from now.

I never grab copies of everything, and this year I restrained myself a bit more than usual. Sometimes reviewing comics can be fun, but I wasn’t in the mood to read that many kids’ comics in a row. Also left behind were a few books based on cartoons and movies, reminders that some publishers see comics more as a second-tier merchandising stream than as a literary medium unto itself.

The fifteen comics in my FCBD 2017 reading pile came out as follows, ranked from Totally Not For Me to I Would Pay Monies For More, complicated by the fact that several of these contain two or more stories. I considered concocting some sort of system involving grade-weighting and averages that would even up the scores, but ultimately I’ve decided to base everything on subjective non-math and internal whims instead. As most listicles are.

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The Complete MCC Convention Photo-Op Jazz Hands Collection (so far)

John Barrowman!

One of many faves from Wizard World Chicago 2016: John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Arrow), who’s game for just about any pose you suggest, several more that never would’ve occurred to you, and a few you’ll never live down.

Here in the doldrums of January, when not much is going on outside our humble abode, my wife Anne and I have already tentatively mapped out our 2017 convention plans, with room for additions if any wild opportunities come up in the months ahead. As an antidote to the soggy winter blues and the current political climate that has all but murdered my enjoyment of most of the internet lately, we’d like to take a look back at the actors we’ve met over the past three years with this very special photo compilation of one of our favorite convention activities: asking actors if they’ll join us in a bit of jazz hands.

Right this way for an easy-to-browse all-star gallery!

My Free Comic Book Day 2015 Results, Best to Least Best

Secret Wars FCBD 2015!

Valeria Richards addresses her troops in Secret Wars #0. Art by Paul Renaud.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I observed Free Comic Book Day 2015 this past Saturday. Readers of multiple demographics, thankfully including lots of youngsters, flocked to our local stores and had the opportunity to enjoy samplers from all the major comic companies and dozens of indie publishers. As an incentive for the younger recruits, the shop we visited split the all-ages material apart from the rest and put up “KIDS ONLY” signs discouraging greedy adults from hoarding everything and leaving nothing behind in their wake.

I never grab copies of everything, and this year I took even fewer items than usual because I don’t really have the time or inclination to be the guy who thinks he’s obligated to read and respond to everything. I came away with a dozen comics of varying interest levels and finished reading the last of them the next morning. In my mind, each issue ought to be a satisfying experience for any new reader who opens the cover without any foreknowledge. Historically, each publisher’s offerings tend to fall into one of six story levels, ranked here in order from “Best Possible Display of Generosity and Salesmanship” to “Had to Slap SOMETHING Together, So Whatever”:

1. New, complete, done-in-one story
2. Complete story reprinted from existing material
3. A complete chapter of a new story with a proper chapter ending
4. Partial excerpt from an upcoming issue that will also contain all these same pages
5. No story, just random pinups or art samples
6. Disposable ad flyer shaped like a comic

The twelve comics in my FCBD 2015 reading pile came out as follows, from least favorite to definite favorite:

Right this way for the countdown!

Indiana State Fair 2014 Photos, Part 4 of 5: Geek Handicraft

geek signpost!

Welcome to the Nexus of All Geek Realities!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides and big-ticket concerts by musicians that other people love. My wife and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context.

When Mom took me to the fair back in the day, I hated, hated, hated walking around the exhibit halls. For me the carnival rides, games, and snacks were the only reasons for its existence. I had no use wandering the 4-H Building looking at posters drawn and pasted together by other children. The farm-product contest entries in the Agricultural/Horticultural Building were mostly vegetables and therefore The Enemy. The dresses on display in the Home & Family Arts Building were obviously not my thing. Sometimes the art and the photography were okay, but only if they painted or took pictures of really cool things such as super-heroes or toys. But the adults were in charge and I followed my marching orders, in exchange for promises of actual fun and games.

My adult perspective has flip-flopped. Rides hurt now. All the games are scams except the water-pistol races, but I don’t have much use for stuffed animals anymore. The State Fair hasn’t brought in a video arcade in years. Meanwhile, sometimes in those formerly boring buildings are lovingly crafted, inspired little treasures if you know where to look.

Right this way for fun acts of artfulness!

Wizard World Chicago 2014 Photos, Part 7 of 7: the Geek Stuff

Rocket Cookie!

Rocket Raccoon: the Cookie! Northbrook bakery Max and Benny’s had a booth selling cookies shaped like numerous characters and personalities. My wife and I split a cookie shaped like Star-Lord’s head. It was great and I wish we’d bought a few dozen more.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This weekend was that time again: our annual excursion to Rosemont, IL, for Wizard World Chicago. My wife and I took plenty of photos as usual, many of them usable. We’ll be sharing those over the next several entries…

…blah blah blah blah blah. And now it all comes down to this, Part Seven, the not-really-grand finale: non-living objects and items that caught our eyes on the premises.

Right this way for random objects of power!

Wizard World Chicago 2014 Photos, Part 1: Costumes! (Movies, Games, Doctor Who)

Sephiroth!

Personal fave of the entire show: 8-bit Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII.

This weekend was that time again: our annual excursion to Rosemont, IL, for Wizard World Chicago, a four-day entertainment convention packed with tens of thousands of attendees seeking actor autographs, viewing the panoply of cosplayers demonstrating their sartorial talents, wandering Artists Alley in search of new comics and art, or hoarding merchandise from the dealers and exhibitors. The big-name comics publishers haven’t attended in years, but WWC seems to be doing well nonetheless, playing to their strengths and not paying total lip service to their comic-con roots.

My wife and I took plenty of photos as usual, many of them usable. We’ll be sharing those over the next several entries, but I’m still too fatigued from the experience to figure out how many entries these will take. Part One begins arbitrarily with costumes from movies, video games, and from Doctor Who, because arbitrary categorization helps me organize my thoughts more clearly. I’m not the kind of guy to upload fifty random cosplay photos and yell, “HERE!” Hence, themes.

Enjoy! Right this way for Round 1…

Top 10 Rejected “Doctor Who” Battle Cries

The 12th Doctor!

The Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, had “ALLONS-Y!” The Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, had “GERONIMO!” or sometimes “YOWZA!” The Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, had…well, mostly he said “Hello!” with a silly grin. For my wife and I, he was our first Doctor, so he gets a free pass.

The last two men to bear the Doctor Who mantle rallied us to their cause as they leaped into various forays with a flick of the sonic screwdriver, a fierce look in their eyes, and a snappy catchphrase to mark the exact moment at which their enemies’ downfall began. With one week to go until the August 23rd season premiere, plenty of questions remain for those of us who didn’t already rush to devour the Season 8 materials that were leaked prematurely onto the internet by impatient killjoys. To me, one question is most intriguing: what words will Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor, use to inspire us and his allies before running headlong into conflict?

From the Home Office in Indianapolis, IN: Top 10 Rejected Doctor Who Battle Cries:

10. “NORM!”

9. “WHO-WHO-KA-JOOB!”

8. “HASHTAG-VICTORY!”

7. “YES, WE CAN!”

6. “FRIES ARE UP!”

5. “WINNER GETS THIRTY MINUTES IN THE BALL PIT!”

4. “NO MORE DALEKS!”

3. “ASK ME HOW YOU CAN SAVE 15% ON CAR INSURANCE!”

2. “TEQUILA!”

And the number one Rejected Doctor Who Battle Cry:

1. “DOCTOR SMASH!”

Why I Shouldn’t Be Around Memes

Family and some friends may have noticed I’m not on Facebook often nowadays. Or maybe they haven’t noticed because so many other people aren’t on Facebook often nowadays, including said family and friends. Naturally I have a long list of reasons for this, because having long lists is this thing I do, but one of the more benign reasons in the middle of that list is I begin to have issues whenever I’m around memes, Photoshop jokes, partisan pie charts, Buzzfeed quizzes, and fake Morgan Freeman quotes. Since this is now 90% of what Facebook is, abstinence becomes a sort of self-defense.

Sometimes I can keep to myself while I’m catching up on recent events. Sometimes I lose control and make things worse. This most recent example was shared by a friend today:

The Doctor v. Twilight v. Harry Potter

Whoever made this doesn’t understand how lucky we were.

Right this way to see things go south!

Indy PopCon 2014 Photos, Part 7 of 8: the Sylvester McCoy Hour

Sylvester McCoy!

My wife and I with the Seventh Doctor, a.k.a. Radagast the Brown. Yes, you may have already seen this photo in Part Four of this series. Keep reading for more pics…

The marathon continues! Our first six installments in this miniseries brought you all the photos my wife and I took of various costumes and cosplayers appearing at the first annual Indy PopCon last weekend in Indianapolis. Links are enclosed at the bottom of this entry for fun and clicking.

And now for something completely different: Part Seven chronicles one of the one-and-a-half events we attended at the Indy PopCon Main Stage: an hour-long Q&A with Sylvester McCoy, celebrated thespian and player of spoons. The following writeup is a rare guest contribution from my wife Anne, marking her fourth appearance in writing under the MCC masthead. Please note some questions are slightly paraphrased, but most of them weren’t complicated enough for us to misrepresent. Beyond some light editing, I turn the floor over to her. Geronimo!

– Right this way for McCoy’s Q&A!>

Indy PopCon 2014 Photos #4: the Costumes of the Doctor

The marathon continues! As promised in our first installment, please enjoy more photos from the first annual Indy PopCon convention. Same guidelines apply: we’re fans, not pros; corrections and comments welcome; hope they’re enjoyable.

Part Four: people and things related to the world of Doctor Who. After years of avoiding his corner of universe, my wife and I finally relented and began watching the show last winter. We’re now partway through season six and hoping that major events such as Indy PopCon stop sucking up our precious TV-watching time so that we might stand a chance of catching up with the rest of the world before season eight arrives in August. If Netflix would hurry up and add season seven to their roster, that’d be outstandingly helpful to us as well.

Anyway: what once flew over our heads and outside our camera range in previous cons is newly fascinating to us. We’re naturally obligated to commence here with the Ninth Doctor because he’s our “first Doctor”. It’s also the first time I’ve spotted anyone as him at a convention. Accompanying him in the costume contest was an adorable li’l Seventh Doctor.

Doctors Who!

Right this way for more Doctors, including a real one! Allons-y!

C2E2 2014 Photos, Part 2 of 4: Costumes on the Show Floor, Not-Comics Division

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: photos from the fifth annual C2E2 convention in Chicago. In this installment: more photos from around the exhibit hall and other convention areas, but with fewer super-heroes than last time. If you recognize any of the unlabeled characters, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top feel free to chime in so proper credit can be given. Thanks very much in advance!

Sharknado costume!

One of my two favorites from this batch: Sharknado!

This way for movies, video games, anime, and so on!

Latecomers to the “Doctor Who” Party

Christopher Eccleston, Doctor Who

…yes, we realize we’re running years behind the rest of the universe.

Last weekend marked the second time in my life I’ve ever sat through an episode of Doctor Who. After marathoning two seasons of Sherlock, three seasons of Downton Abbey, three seasons of Luther, and all the Chopped we could find On Demand, we were in talks for a while about our next mutual binge-watching quality-time subject. Lo and behold: she discovered all seven modern seasons of the world-famous Doctor Who are temporarily available On Demand as part of the big 50th-anniversary celebration.

Our new goal for this holiday season: see how many episodes we can barrel through before the end of the year.

Just now, you ask? Well, kinda…

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