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The Birthday Gal and Me and Stella Makes Three

Stella, Indianapolis

The lovely lady and the surroundings (including wood-fired oven!) that made our night.

This week my wife Anne turned 47 and still looks half my age even though she’s a year-and-a-half older than me. The physical aging disparity has been a source of amusement for years. The best example happened about 18 years ago on an evening we took my son to Red Lobster. The hostess grabbed a kids’ menu for my son, then turned to me and asked if my daughter would also like a kids’ menu. I can’t prove it but I’m pretty sure Anne had us tip her far beyond 15%.

Officially her birthday road trip was last weekend, for which we have more photos to share in the near future. We took tonight for an additional birthday dinner to round out the occasion with flair, and without settling for Red Lobster.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 19: Visionary Edibles

Giant Gummy Wayne Coyne!

“Giant Gummy Wayne Coyne” by Derek Lawson, Julianne and Matt Lutz, and Coyne himself, lead singer of the Flaming Lips and the only artist’s name I recognized in the entire AVAM complex.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited 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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

Our wonderstruck tour of the American Visionary Art Museum continued beyond the shiny free exterior and into the admission-paying part. The Museum welcomes numerous guest curators on a regular basis to assemble temporary exhibits on assorted themes — again, populated entirely by the works of amateurs, aspiring part-timers, and self-confessed non-artists who just need to see an idea in their head come to full visual fruition.

When we visited in July, the main exhibit was “YUMMM! The History, Fantasy and Future of Food”. Nearly three dozen food scientists, farmers, nutritionists, multimedia practitioners, and more contributed a variety of sculptures, paintings, collages, and other displays of educational and/or nostalgic value. Not everything from the following photo gallery was officially part of that exhibit, but food is a subject matter that’s bound to be on everyone’s minds sooner or later.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 17: Mornings with Miss Shirley

coconut creme stuffed French toast!

My best breakfast of the week: coconut creme stuffed French toast. As Seen on TV!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited 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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

In our early road-tripping years, we couldn’t afford food-based tourism. We ate whatever we could find within range of the sights or near the hotel, whatever wouldn’t destroy our budget. I used to plan our hotel reservations around which chains offered free breakfast. It didn’t take long to get tired of weeks-old, shrink-wrapped, itty-bitty pastries. We’re used to having at least one McDonald’s stop per year — usually as our last meal before we arrive back home — but can’t handle seven straight days of it. Longtime MCC readers may recall we ate Subway so many times that I eventually declared it my mortal enemy.

Now that we’re older and in a somewhat stabler position, occasionally we can stretch our legs and try places we don’t have in Indiana, and dabble in pricing above fast-food levels. On the morning of Day 3 we decided to take a deep dive into Google Maps and see what breakfast we could find in the immediate Baltimore area besides the Hyatt buffet. That trail led us a few blocks northeast to the comfort of Miss Shirley’s Cafe.

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Chicago Photo Tribute #13: A Wizard World Chicago Epilogue of Edibles

Animal Tots!

Best food of our weekend: Park Tavern’s Animal Tots — tater tots topped with pulled pork, cheese curds, mustard, fried eggs, and gravy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I attended our ninth Wizard World Chicago up in Rosemont, IL, where the fans are fun, the festivities are fantastic, and the food is frightful. With rare exceptions, convention center food is never a highlight on any of our con experiences. The Chicagoland area itself has no shortage of top-notch restaurants, but virtually none of them are next door to the con. Unless you’re willing to settle or to pack a few days’ worth of picnic food to take along, you’ll have to search your surroundings and possibly venture a bit from your hotel if you want any sustenance beyond lukewarm pizza, bags of chips, or the McDonald’s a half-mile down the way or the Dunkin Donuts another half-mile past that.

This year we scared up three meals worth savoring — two of which validated our convention center parking without making us regret the food itself, and one a bit further down that served as a delicious capper to our weekend.

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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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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 8: Coming Up on Crab Country

Crab Cake Sandwich!

It’s not a proper road trip without an impromptu stop at an authentic small-town diner that refuses to serve small portions.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited 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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

After spending a few hours driving and walking around the grounds of Antietam, we were overdue for lunch. First we turned to Google Maps for nearby recommendations, which led to a merry chase up and down the nearby town of Sharpsburg for a barbecue joint that apparently didn’t exist, or perhaps was in someone’s basement, or possibly was floating in the clouds above us. I can’t say I was shocked, as Google Maps has let us down before — multiple times on our 2015 trip to New Orleans, in fact. Eventually we gave up and headed northeast toward Baltimore, hopefully to or near one of its higher-rated suggestions in the next town of Keedysville.

This time the restaurant existed, but showed up several blocks earlier than my phone told us to expect. Thus fate brought us to Bonnie’s at the Red Byrd, exactly the kind of diner you want to find when you’re starving and you’re dozens of miles away from the nearest corporate franchise.

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