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Our 2003 Road Trip, Part 1 of 7: About the Boy

Black bear!

A black bear welcomes travelers to a rest stop in Pennsylvania, where apparently black bears are all the rage.

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen 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. Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, we’ve fired up the WABAC Machine and retold the stories from our first four outings together:

* 1999: our first Wizard World Chicago
* 2000: the second and final Gateway Science Fiction Convention in St. Louis
* 2001: our first Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL
* 2002: hangout with internet friends in Grand Rapids for the opening of Attack of the Clones

2003 was a milestone for a number of reasons, at least one of which you can discern from our lead photo. No, not the bear.

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“Fences”: Living On After the Dreams Have Died

Fences!

My annual Oscar-quest begins anew! Every year since 1997 I’ve endeavored to see every film nominated for Best Picture in the Academy Awards race, even if its place in the running can be attributed to blatant studio machinations, even when I know a film and I will be at odds with each other the entire running time. Fences, on the other hand, met my high expectations and then some. The only real issue I had wasn’t the film’s fault. I misread the theater seating chart, bought the wrong assigned seat, and got myself stuck in the second row from where the the cast all looked like towering monster heads.

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Late Thoughts on “Luke Cage”

Pops!

Always forward. Never backward.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

I will never finish binge-watching any series at the same time as the rest of the world. Never. TV has to wait its turn in line for my attention along with internet, writing, moviegoing, gaming, full-time day-jobbing, homeowning, husbanding, and whatever other errands and obligations lure me away from home. I get to things when I get to them even if it means I miss out on all the really cool chat circles.

By the time I held my personal Stranger Things marathon over Labor Day weekend, everyone else had already moved on to salivating over the nominal teaser for season 2 and whatever else was cool by then that I no longer remember. Without another three-day weekend at my disposal (alas, if only Halloween had been a federal holiday), I’m kinda proud I found time to finish Netflix’s Marvel’s Luke Cage before Christmas. Like the other Marvel series it has its flaws, but one of Cage‘s overarching themes resonated and stuck in my head even as the later episodes didn’t hold up to the promise of the first half.

(Some of this entry will have Luke Cage spoilers, but I assume if you’re interested in the show, you’ve already seen it and aren’t waiting for distant DVD release.)

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My 2015 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

Ultron!

2015’s movie theme: The Year of Trying to Bury Your Father.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Once again it’s National List Month, when all of Hollywood runs down to Hallmark and buys “For Your Consideration” cards to mail out to their fifty thousand closest friends. Meanwhile on the internet, where no one sends us free stuff to buy our love, we dedicated theater-goers are forced to make up our own minds, revisit our opinions, and vote with our bullet points. I saw twenty-six films in theaters in 2015, but five were Best Picture nominees released in 2014 and therefore disqualified from this list, even though two of them amazed me, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates…

And now, on with the countdown:

Right this way for our picks of the year’s best films!

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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“Creed” and the Fight to Mean Something

Creed!

You wanna climb to the top, be ready to do the footwork.

It was probably unfair of me to assume Creed would be one of my favorite films of 2015 before I walked into the theater. Previously in the tragic Fruitvale Station, director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan together made my favorite film of 2013. A year earlier, Jordan costarred in Chronicle, a left-field surprise that became my no-contest favorite of 2012. Prior to that, he was in season one of The Wire and thereby granted a lifetime pass for any future catastrophes beyond his control.

On the other hand, I’d only seen three of the six Rocky films — the first one as part of a successful ’90s mission to watch every Best Picture Oscar winner ever; Rocky III at the drive-in, where a furious, pre-laughingstock Mr. T frightened 10-year-old me almost to tears; and the shamelessly jingoistic yet totally engrossing Rocky IV, the only time in my life I’ve ever seen dudes in a theater jumping out of their seats and cheering and fist-pumping at all-American awesomeness overload. Yes, really. I’ve never felt the urge to keep up with the Italian Stallion since then, or to backtrack for the second one.

So in fairness, I had to allow that Creed could’ve gone either way.

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