The Ex-Capital Birthday Weekend, Part 6 of 10: Cozy Corydon Cuisine

Open-faced meatloaf sandwich on a wooden table in noonday sunlight. See caption.

An open-faced meat loaf sandwich made from ground beef and duck, wrapped in bacon, served on sourdough, doused in bourbon brown gravy, and topped with white American cheese, greens, and fried leeks a la Skyrim.

Of course there’s a chapter for the good foods we found. The gallery is a quickie that could’ve been squeezed into one of the other chapters, but then that chapter would’ve been too long, you wouldn’t have clicked on it, and you’d have missed more cute pics of my wife who’s perfectly happy being 52 now.

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GalaxyCon Columbus 2022 Photos, Part 4 of 4: Columbus Is Our New Chicago

A bunch of toys glued to a car roof; downtown Columbus is hazy in the distant background.

A toy army prepared to march the streets of downtown Columbus.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year when there isn’t a pandemic fully raging, my wife Anne and I love attending entertainment and comic conventions throughout the Midwest and occasionally a bit beyond. We’re fascinated by the spectacle of each and every in-person nexus of geek cultures that presents a confluence of comics, artists, cosplayers, hobby artifacts, rare collectibles, IP-inspired handicrafts, talented performers and celebrity guests with fandom connections of varying levels of dedication and/or awesomeness.

This past weekend’s inaugural GalaxyCon Columbus (the one in Ohio) set out more than enough bait within reasonable road-trip range that the two of us were lured out of the house once more after previous 2022 outings to Star Trek: Mission Chicago, Indiana Comic Con, and Fan Expo Chicago. We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

We’ve already shared all our stories from the Convention Center grounds apart from a few photo outtakes, but we’d be remiss to neglect the fun times we had in and around the neighborhood. Our third stop in town this year was at least as stimulating as the first two. Longtime MCC readers will recall when we used to find ourselves at Chicago cons a few times every year, up until the pandemic ruined everything for a while. This year Columbus has gone above and beyond in catching our straying eyes and luring us eastward instead of northward.

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How I Spent My Thanksgiving Holiday

Ten pies brought to Anne's family's Thanksgiving this year.

Pies nearly outnumbered people at Anne’s Thanksgiving this year.

It’s the holiday season! Yes, again! The past two weeks have been far from boring as Thanksgiving came and went, events kept sliding into our schedules, opportunities for both travel and sedentary diversions fought to take up our head space, and Christmas kept trying to assert its dominance too soon. Some of the busyness lent itself to pictures.

Some of the things I did:

* Thanksgiving at home! My side of the family has more or less forfeited turkey-time now that most of us live far from each other — states away, in some cases. In lieu of that, on Thanksgiving Day itself the last few years we’ve been inviting my mom over so she doesn’t have to spend the day alone. Anne makes a feast for the four of us that would feed a full-size gathering. I watch a movie with Mom, I spend a few seconds reminiscing in my head about how I used to spend Thanksgiving night studying the Black Friday ads in the newspaper, and then we dine on the leftovers for days. That’s baseline Thanksgiving of late. I finished the sweet potatoes Wednesday morning for breakfast, and thus were our leftover duration standards met.

Our Thanksgiving 2022 dinner with boneless Butterball turkey, sweet potatoes, rolls, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and so on.

Not pictured: the second of two boneless Butterball turkeys Anne made, our household’s event-dinner poultry of choice.

* Thanksgiving way from home! After Anne’s grandma passed away in 2018, her side’s turkey time went on hiatus as everyone suddenly began focusing on gatherings in their other circles that they’d been missing over the years, or they indulged other non-holiday activities while Mamaw was no longer around to guilt-trip them sweetly into coming over. This year two key relatives moved up to Indiana after a decades-long stay in Kentucky and offered to host a Thanksgiving comeback special. One catch: it was Friday at noon, which meant no one could spend the entire day shopping. As most folks rely more heavily on online shopping nowadays and are okay with driving local proprietors into the poorhouse, nobody complained about schedule conflict.

As seen in our lead photo, we had too much pie, a phrase that sounds like heresy, and yet there it is. I limited myself to sliver-sized slices from three different pies and pretended that was a mature choice. Even before the Friday shindig, we’d already had pumpkin and pecan pies at home…and a chocolate pudding pie the weekend before, as a pre-Thanksgiving teaser dessert, kind of like how some families let kids open one gift on Christmas Eve. All told, the pie collection featured were pistachio, squash, pumpkin, Oreo, different Oreo, chocolate non-Oreo, Tollhouse Cookie, custard, cherry, and my favorite, pecan chocolate chip. For anyone demanding a change of pace, there was a store-bought pumpkin roll, and the last faction to arrive brought a cake I never got to see.

A few of our preferred groceries have become scarce or nonexistent during the temporary recessional inflationary supply-chain crisis-esque inconvenience meltdown trifle catastrophe that’s been status quo for like two years straight, but at long as we can find pie, or pie can find us, we believe America will stand tall and brave any other challenges ahead. Hopefully.

Our relatives were pretty happy to see each other again. Right on time, my social awkwardness kicked in as all the most interesting and ebullient talkers decided the best place for mingling in varying groupings would be in the room where I wasn’t. Three of us guys who weren’t much on initiating chitchat (all of us being plus-ones to blood kin) were left in the living room with the TV off and no one volunteering to do anything about it. Instead we agreed to find separate directions in which to stare off into space, avoid eye contact, and fall back on the hoary excuse that we were “digesting”. I kept my phone pocketed for as long as I could, but eventually caved. I got in a good forty minutes’ silent, boring doomscrolling before anyone checked on me.

In a few ways I’d missed that. Sort of.

A big black and white doggie sitting by my feet, staring politely.

Their doggie kept me company through some of that. I didn’t get her name.

* Black Friday shopping anyway! On my old blog I used to have an annual tradition of keeping a “Black Friday War Journal”, a complete rundown of times, stops, and purchasing results written throughout the hours I’d spend on Black Friday out there in the predawn pandemonium and the maddened crowds, all written in the terse, paranoiac style of Frank Castle. I walked away from all that as Black Friday metamorphosed into a very different thing over time, but I do miss keeping those War Journals.

Despite our noon engagement, I got out for a few hours in the morning beforehand to grab a couple of minor sales. I saw no customer feeding frenzies, no fistfights, and no police springing into action to quell riots. At 8 a.m. Barnes & Noble was teeming with dozens of teens. At 9 a.m. Target was already sold out of a popular Nintendo Switch game in their ad (or they hadn’t bothered to order any — I checked two different Targets, mind you). By 10 a.m. Best Buy had almost no line at the registers. I was home by 11.

* Family Game Night! That was Saturday evening. I’ve posted in the past about some of our experiences with new board games. The ones that catch our attention are too expensive for us to make this a regular habit, although after seeing how many Likes my Instagram posts get whenever I share them, it’s really tempting to reinvent myself as a Board Game Guy. Our latest acquisition is Terraforming Mars, a 2016 release in which each player is a future corporation doing its part to turn Mars into Earth Junior, ostensibly in the name of solving a humanitarian crisis and advancing humankind’s frontiers and scientific achievements, but also you’re competing to see who can take the most credit. Corporations gonna corporate.

The setup and teaching phases took us far too long, but eventually we picked up speed as we got used to the rules, slowly realized which of the zillions of scores ‘n’ stats mattered most, and figured out how to sabotage other’s plans in the grand corporate tradition. My son won this initial skirmish, but I expect different results next time. Hopefully.

Terraforming Mars board game, which comes with literally a few hundred components, including over 200 cards.

Anne and I hope to start on season 3 of Apple+’s For All Mankind in the next few weeks or so. This game feels like an apropos prologue.

* Solo Game Nights! Or, “how I spend every night after 9:00 when I’m not sleepy and not writing, which is most of them lately.” Fallout 3 has been keeping me company. I’ll write more about it in the next annual “Old Guy with a PS3” entry, but for now let me say that, considering the number of years I spent playing nothing but Skyrim, luring me into a game whose mechanics and sandbox sprawl are virtually identical to Skyrim‘s was like handing a Jack Daniels gift-box to your alcoholic dad. Thankfully there aren’t nearly as many locations, and the Capital Wasteland is far smaller than Tamriel, so maybe I’ll “finish” it sometime early in 2023. The less I write here, the more time I have for covering ground there.

"Radiation Warning" sign in Fallout 3.

The fence around Fallout 3‘s crater where the White House used to be. Lately this image could also double as Twitter’s home page.

* Xfinity Watchathon! A few times per year, our old-fashioned cable TV provider will treat their customers to several free days of premium services they refuse to subscribe to normally. That’s when I catch up on my HBO stories. My last Watchathon was devoted entirely to season 3 of Barry, which remains amazing; this time in between all the other activities I just wrote about above, I managed to fit in ten episodes of Succession (I ended with season 3’s riotous shareholders’ meeting, and hope the next episode doesn’t begin with poor Frank still trapped at the podium vamping for time), the HBO Max original film See How They Run (a frivolous whodunit with some historical facts blended in, and I cheered when I recognized Lucian Msamati from the awesome Gangs of London as Agatha Christie’s husband), and, for Mom’s Thanksgiving afternoon entertainment as a lifelong fan of disaster films, Roland Emmerich’s Moonfall, the worst 2022 film I’ve seen so far. Thanks, Comcast, mostly!

* A funeral. Anne’s great-uncle, her Mamaw’s youngest brother, passed away Thanksgiving Eve after three years of compounding illnesses and conditions. He was an Air Force veteran who went on to work for the FAA, he served on the local township school board for sixteen years, he spent over five decades in the Lions Club and assorted charity works, he used to take the family out for Christmas dinner every year at Gray Bros. Cafeteria in Mooresville, and he was always kind to me and my son whenever he saw us, same as he was to pretty much anyone who intersected with his path. His numerous accomplishments added up to the sort of obituary that makes you hope your own obit won’t end up a two-line slug that just says, “Mostly harmless.”

* Things that will get their own MCC entries in the week ahead! Stick with us as I’m on staycation all next week and should have plenty of time to write about:

  • The Menu, a wicked but sadly overlooked satire of wealthy foodies and the restaurateurs who take too much pride in serving them.
  • A field trip to see a collection of special Christmas trees in a local museum.
  • Our next convention! I spent Monday night prepping for this coming weekend’s big soiree, which will take us to a city in another state that we’ve already visited twice this year, whose convention center we walked around once but have never been inside before.

…and maybe even more, more, more, right here on MCC! If you don’t read about all these by next Wednesday, please tell Anne to go drag me out of Fallout 3 kicking and screaming.

The Ex-Capital Birthday Weekend, Part 1 of 10: Unrelated Pastry Prologue

Anne smiling and holding a pecan twirl pastry.

The woman I love with a pecan swirl she adored.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In 2022 Anne turned 52, a number that begs me to insert a gratuitous DC Comics reference here, but it was her birthday, not mine. Indiana offers no shortage of tourist attractions for history aficionados like her. We’ve visited quite a few of those over the years, but this year we felt it was time to check off one of the Hoosier State’s biggest trivia answers: Corydon, our original state capital before Indianapolis.

History tidbits will be forthcoming. But first, our opening act: sugar.

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Our 2022 Road Trip #18: Champlain Happy

Champy and Anne!

Anne meets Champy, the local celebrity mythical water monster.

By the time we reached Burlington, the largest city in Vermont, we’d seen Lake Champlain from a mountaintop, from the roadside, and from a small pier jutting into the middle of it. At lunchtime on Day Four, we were okay with seeing it yet again, but tried slowing down long enough to traipse around it and bask for a while.

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Our 2022 Road Trip #16: Obligatory Vermont Maple Syrup Intermission

Anne doing jazz hands at Dakin Farm.

Hurray for sugar and sugary products!

“Did you buy any maple syrup while you were there?” asked far too many people whenever we mentioned our trip to Vermont. So…yes. Yes, we did. WE HOPE YOU’RE ALL HAPPY.

I mean, we do hope you are. Sorry if it sounded sarcastic.

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Our 2022 Road Trip #14: A Night at the Old “Newhart” Place

Waybury Inn west side!

Some ’80s kids saw the front of this place on TV, though the owners have had new windows installed since then.

Vermont! At last! Naturally our first stop was a pop culture reference from our childhoods.

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Our 2022 Road Trip #8: Stylin’ Syracuse Sustenance

Korean Breakfast Corn Dog!

These treats were billed as Korean Breakfast Corn Dogs — dipped in Cinnamon Toast Crunch pancake batter, drizzled with a hot honey ‘n’ sweet cream sauce,

Not all the food we had on this trip need to be raised on their own commemorative pedestals, but Syracuse, NY, earned bonus points for providing us with not one, but two of the best meals of the week. That’s worth a single-entry shout-out.

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Our 2022 Road Trip #1: The Accidental Convention

Schwarzenegger and Anne!

Dey are Arnie und Anne, und dey are going to pump [*CLAP*] you up!

Since 1999 Anne and I have taken one road trip each year to a different part of the United States and seen attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. We grew up in families that couldn’t afford annual out-of-state vacations. We’re geeks more accustomed to vicarious life through the windows of pop culture than through in-person adventures. After years of contenting ourselves with everyday life in Indianapolis and any surrounding areas that also had comics and toy shops, we chucked some of our self-imposed limitations and resolved as a team to leave the comforts of home for annual chances to see creative, exciting, breathtaking, outlandish, and/or bewildering new sights in states beyond our own, from the horizons of nature to the limits of imagination, from history’s greatest hits to humanity’s deepest regrets and the sometimes quotidian, sometimes quirky stopovers in between.

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

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Indiana State Fair 2022 Photos, Part 1 of 6: Our Year in Food

pickle pizza and me!

Presenting the winner of this year’s Taste of the Fair competition. No, not me.

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, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context.

Usually we’re all about the food. On Thursdays they have “$3 Thursday” specials, for which every food vendor joins in the sale with at least one item for that price, whether it’s a smaller portion of an existing item or a chintzy, non-special soft drink. Above and beyond that, each year a new lineup of “Taste of the Fair” offerings showcases new ideas from assorted stands in hopes of luring in foodies and/or impressing attendees who want to do more every year than simply eating the same corn dog again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The lineup is announced weeks in advance so everyone can plan their meals and experiments accordingly. Every year, some vendors are more ambitious than others — arguably even more so this year, mired as we are in the current inflationary era where gambling on new products can kill your bottom line if you’re not careful. But at least some tried.

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