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.

Continue reading

“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.

Continue reading

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.)

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

“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.

Continue reading

In Honor of the Final Guy Night

July 9, 2013: dinner at the Gourmet Dumpling House in Boston’s Chinatown. Most likely my son’s final vacation with us.

[Tonight’s centerpiece is a previous MCC entry dated October 18, 2012. The photo, intro, and epilogue are new additions for follow-up purposes in light of upcoming major events.]

* * * * *

Continue reading

My Son: Day One

babyI remember when this tiny baby wasn’t ready for college.

Continue reading

Loner Dad’s Long, Proud, Awkward Day on Campus

college presentations

Consider, if you will, the following case of orientation disorientation.

This past Monday my son’s college held a special all-day program for incoming freshmen to undergo orientation, hear intros to their respective schools, meet their advisors, register for their first semester’s classes, experience an actual dorm food-court meal, and endure a self-guided campus walkabout to accomplish all the other activities at various buildings, only some of which are next door to each other. I tagged along to multitask the roles of chauffeur, navigator, sidekick, and personal ombudsman whenever he needed to question or vent about something. By and large, my parts were played with utmost competence.

Continue reading

Fleeting Moments on Graduation Day

Eighteen years of life, thirteen years of schooling, and countless evenings of coaching, admonishing, encouraging, lecturing, applauding, tolerating, and loving all led up to a single day that required tremendous coordination and patience to align all the pieces just right for the series finale. Though today felt about three hundred hours long, its unique centerpiece will seem fleeting when viewed in retrospect years from now.

Today was my son’s high school Graduation Day.

Graduation Day, Class of 2013

Continue reading

My Kid Could Paint That. And Did.

alien worlds, high school art class

This weekend our local school system held its biennial art fair, a celebration of the efforts and creations of students of music and art from all age groups. I had one or two drawings on display in my junior year, though two decades later I no longer remember which ones. My wife and I were pleased to learn that my son, now in his final month of high school, would have several pieces on display this year. We made a point of checking out the fair not just for the sake of parental beaming, but because we knew this might be our last chance to view his works.

Continue reading

College Dropout Prepares to Pass on the Opposite of His Legacy

This weekend’s main event was eighteen years in the making, an experience I never imagined because few parents want to daydream that far ahead in their children’s lives. Sure, we look forward to a few milestones — first steps, first words, first day of school, all the best parts of the cute years. I suppose some parents dwell on the long-term forecast and begin planning for the arrival of their grandchildren. I’ve taken more of a walk-before-they-can-run, crawl-before-they-can-walk approach when it comes to second-guessing my son’s future for him.

That being rambled on about: Saturday I drove my son up to West Lafayette for a tour of the campus of Purdue University, where he’s been accepted and is scheduled to attend this fall. Needless to say, our family is mostly thrilled (there’s always a naysayer, isn’t there?) and, having seen what’s in store for my former infant, I now feel ten years older than I did last year.

Purdue Clock Tower

Continue reading

Yes, There’s a Scene After “The Croods” End Credits

Dreamworks, The CroodsAs unimpressed as I was with the trailer, The Croods turned out to be an unexpected delight, with a sincere message for parents who want to protect their children from the world, but struggle with the knowledge that someday that job won’t be theirs anymore. (Says the nervous guy counting down the days until his son begins college.)

Continue reading

Pumpkin Flavored Everything

The DPChallenge Family!In that blessed golden age when my sister and I still had Dad in our lives, years before we would begin taking turns conducting periodic manhunts in vain, we never saw him happier or more vibrant than when Mom would let him dress us in our Sunday finest so we could walk with him door-to-door around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and extolling the virtues of the Great Pumpkin.

Continue reading

Wednesday is Guy Night.

Father/son quality timeOf all our household’s rules and guidelines that aren’t Scripture quotes, one of the simplest and most scrupulously enforced in our family is four simple words: Wednesday is Guy Night. What we call “Guy Night”, normal people call “father/son quality time”. Then again, normal people rarely use the word “enforce” in that conversation.

This rule was instituted in spring 2003 after a blessed but stunning turn of events that resulted in my obtaining custody of my son from my ex-wife. This unbelievable, unpredicted, somewhat intimidating lifestyle change occurred after six years of liberal non-custodial visitation, thousands of literal miles of two-way ferrying, and countless little reminders from society and the media that, in 105% of all divorce situations, the mother is good and the father is evil. The short, impersonal summation of our situation is that it had become necessary in the opinion of the majority of those affected, and thus it was written.

I believe Guy Night was my best friend’s idea. I trust her as usual to correct me gently if I’m misremembering. When he moved back in with me full-time and was no longer a beloved privileged visitor, we decided it was important to establish as soon as possible after the big move that — whatever else might be done with my week, with his schooling, or with other family and friends — he and I needed a regular block of time carved out that we could dedicate to spending with each other. When she and I married in 2004 and merged households, this became more important than ever with the closer quarters and the advent of the prefix “step-” into numerous aspects of our new living phase.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: