Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Thor: Love and Thunder” End Credits

Tessa Thompson and Natalie Portman in "Thor Love and Thunder".

“Y’know, if we let Gorr end him, we could have the movie all to ourselves…”

Unlike some actors we know who used to earn eight-figure paychecks from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and now probably have to subsist on seven-figure residuals, Chris Hemsworth isn’t going anywhere. The star and Executive Producer is back for Thor: Love and Thunder, as is Taika Waititi, costar and director of Thor: Ragnarok, the Best Thor Movie Ever and possibly the funniest MCU film to date. Perplexingly, he’s followed up with my least favorite Waititi film to date.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 4 of 4: Stargirl and the Hobbits

Hobbits jazz hands!

Frodo! Pippin! Merry! Sam! And two humans searching the Shire for pizzazz!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This past weekend Anne and I attended the inaugural Fan Expo Chicago, the comics/entertainment convention formerly known as Wizard World Chicago, and before that the unbranded Chicago Comic Con. As a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont for our first time in four years to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

It all comes down to this: Saturday, July 9th, our final day at the all-star four-day show. At least, we hoped it would be our final day. We had to work Monday. We didn’t want to come back Sunday. We’re getting old and we need more recuperation time after these super fun pop-culture endurance tests. Conventions are the one place where we can hang out with fellow geeks who get our interests. Back home, people like us seem like an extinct species. But after a while hanging around with the hobbyist crowds, and walking for miles up and down the geek habitat of exhibit hall aisles, is wearying. Also, there’s that pandemic thingamabob people worry about sometimes.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 3 of 4: Apollo and the Clone Wars

Ashley Eckstein and Matt Lanter!

“Snips and Skyguy”, as the delightful Star Wars panel was billed.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This past weekend Anne and I attended the inaugural Fan Expo Chicago, the comics/entertainment convention formerly known as Wizard World Chicago, and before that the unbranded Chicago Comic Con. As a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont for our first time in four years to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

If we reused headline formats from our past comic-con write-ups, this one would be the Friday edition of “What We Did and Who We Met”. Once we emerged impatient and unscathed from Chicago construction traffic, Friday was a laid-back stroll around the exhibit hall because most of the action was scheduled for Saturday, when nearly all the scheduled guests would be around. Friday, they weren’t so much, but we had the pleasure of attending a pair of Q&As with actors who graciously dropped in a day early.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 2 of 4: Fandom Artifacts

Black Label me!

Now I come in a deluxe version with slightly more points of articulation! Soon to be on clearance at Target!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: this past weekend Anne and I attended the inaugural Fan Expo Chicago, the comics/entertainment convention formerly known as Wizard World Chicago, and before that the unbranded Chicago Comic Con. As a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont for our first time in four years to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

Before we attempt any real storytime and show off our latest round of jazz-hands photos, why not run through a gallery of Stuff We Saw Around the Show Floor. In hindsight we took far fewer exhibit hall pics than expected because we’re well acquainted with what comic-con booths look like and weren’t in a constant state of mind-blown-ness. We did dawdle a bit more than usual at the handcrafted displays of two charitable fan clubs, who brought their homemade replicas of props and vehicles and whatnot, which as usual made us regret letting our own artistic skills atrophy since high school.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 1 of 4: A Dash of Cosplay

Moon Knight!

TV’s Moon Knight welcomes you to a comic-con resurrection!

Once upon a time in 1972 humanity invented a major entertainment show commonly called the Chicago Comic Con, and comics collectors saw that it was good. In the late ’90s it was taken over by Wizard Entertainment, previously a specialist in geek magazine publishing. Wizard World Chicago continued the comic-con tradition for the next two decades, though with a decreasing emphasis on the “comic” aspect as nearly all the publishers withdrew their participation one by one and the show became all about meeting actors, with a nominal Artists Alley still attached in mild deference to its distant origins. Anne and I first attended WWC in 1999 (a Major Life Event for us), then made it an appointment getaway every year between 2010 and 2018. The company had been hemorrhaging cash and fan loyalty for years even before we decided to skip the 2019 edition in favor of our very first Dragon Con, which we consider yet another Major Life Event. The subsequent pandemic did Wizard World no favors, as you can imagine.

After one last gasp of a WWC in late 2021 that we understand was a pale shadow, Wizard World handed off their entire nationwide comic-con portfolio to Fan Expo HQ, a British-owned company whose Canadian comic-con wing has roots dating back to 1995 and who began acquiring inroads into the U.S. market in 2016. This past weekend, that corporate consumption process culminated in the very first Fan Expo Chicago, which is technically the inaugural edition and yet self-branded as a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, with a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

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My 2022 Reading Stacks #1

Barry Windsor-Smith Monsters!

Maybe not the best place to start while writing over July 4th weekend…or is it?

Welcome once again to our recurring MCC feature in which I scribble capsule reviews of everything I’ve read that was published in a physical format over a certain page count with a squarebound spine on it — novels, original graphic novels, trade paperbacks, infrequent nonfiction dalliances, and so on. 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, though I do try to diversify my literary diet as time and acquisitions permit.

Occasionally I’ll sneak in a contemporary review if I’ve gone out of my way to buy and read something brand new. Every so often I’ll borrow from my wife Anne or from our local library. But the majority of our spotlighted works are presented years after the rest of the world already finished and moved on from them because I’m drawing from my vast unread pile that presently occupies four oversize shelves comprising thirty-three years of uncontrolled book shopping. I’ve occasionally pruned the pile, but as you can imagine, cut out one unread book and three more take its place.

I’ve previously written why I don’t do eBooks. Perhaps someday I’ll also explain why these capsules are exclusive to MCC and not shared on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites where their authors might prefer I’d share them. In the meantime, here’s me and my reading results, which I should’ve begun tracking months ago…

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Lightyear” End Credits

Lightyear!

To finity and no farther!

“In 1995 Andy got a new toy for his birthday. It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”

That’s paraphrasing (i.e., possibly misquoting from fading memory) the first lines from Lightyear — its high-concept, low-bar mission statement and its disclaimer to deflect any viewers who might’ve refused to relax without some form of canonical context, no matter how tenuous or superfluous. Critics’ memories of the exact verbiage differed from one site to the next. The erstwhile animation trailblazers at Pixar were hoping those same fuzzy memories might forgive/forget the shamelessly unnecessary Toy Story 4 and embrace this, their latest merchandise revival to be contrived from the greatest animated film trilogy ever.

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“Jurassic World: Dominion”: The Locust Job

Jurassic World Dominion cast!

In which the old crews get together for one last heist and take down one last reckless billionaire.

[EDITORS’ NOTE: The following entry knowingly contains minor, non-shocking spoilers.]

Much like the TV show Leverage, the Jurassic series has always been about disrupting high-level corruption in wealthy companies whose prideful execs think they’re too rich and clever to fail. Past Jurassic installments have tackled such hot-button issues as animal rights, eugenics, science ethics, theme park safety protocols, nepotism, big-game hunting for sport, neglectful mishandling of dormant IPs, natural disasters, black-market endangered-species trafficking, and more. Cautionary tales have taught us many important lessons all along, starting with that time Steven Spielberg and co-screenwriter David Koepp brought Michael Crichton’s bestselling screed about corporate accountability to a worldwide audience, some of whom took the Moral of the Story to heart and resolved not to live their lives with the hubris of Dr. John Hammond. Some of the filmmakers who followed in their footsteps paid more attention than others.

This time, much like the Leverage season-4 episode “The Hot Potato Job”, Jurassic World: Dominion turns its journalistic eye toward American agriculture and the manipulative opportunists who dominate the landscape and push out hard-working independent farmers who don’t have the resources to compete with the cutting-edge agritech wielded by richer, amoral hands. It’s to Universal Pictures’ credit that they dared to spend $165 million on a 60 Minutes exposé wrapped in a heist flick, which returning director/co-writer Colin Trevorrow and two co-writers kept intentionally mediocre so that the razzle-dazzle of basic cinematic quality wouldn’t distract from the message.

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Best CDs of 2021 According to an Old Guy Who Bought Five

2021 CD Releases!

Hi, I’m Fat Casey Kasem and welcome to half a Top Ten list!

As part of every annual set of year-in-review entries, I remain one of six people nationwide who still prefers compact discs to digital. I don’t splurge too much because it’s increasingly tougher for new music to catch my ear as I grow older and more finicky, and as my favorite acts of yesteryear die, stop recording, or turn toward musical directions that take them beyond my zones of interest. That usually means missing out on what the majority loves, thus further dragging me down the long plummet into total irrelevance as chronicled on this very website a couple times per week.

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“Downton Abbey: A New Era”: Travels, Talkies, and Other Traumas

Downton Abbey A New Era!

One of our local theaters showed this in Dolby Cinema with perfect picture and volume-17 sound. Oh, how the Dowager Countess would judge them.

They’re back! Lord and Lady Grantham! The Dowager Countess! Lady Mary! Edith! Cousin Isobel! Tom Branson! Mr. and Mrs. Carson! Mr. and Mrs. Bates! Thomas! Mrs. Patmore! Daisy! Andy! Mr. Molesley! Miss Baxter! Mrs. Denker! Bertie! Lord Merton! Lucy! Sybbie! George! Marigold! Lady Rosamund! Mr. Mason! Dr. Clarkson! Mr. Murray! Dolores Umbridge! The ol’ gang’s back together again for Downton Abbey: A New Era, the latest chapter in Julian Fellowes’ beloved historical drama about waning British affluence, surviving well past the six-seasons-and-a-movie threshold for true pop culture immortality.

That’s 29 characters whose original actors returned for this shindig. And yes, I double-checked: three of their tiny offspring have indeed been played by the same moppets since season 5. Triple bonus points if you recognize all 29 without cheating — as I did to peg Lady Violet’s lawyer — but then you’re docked half those points if we catch you complaining that the MCU has gotten just too darn huge to keep track of.

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