Birthday Quest 2018, Part 6 of 6: House of the Cool Cats

Garfield @ Fairmount!

#11 of 11, “Cool Cat”.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

Our grand finale awaited us in the town of Fairmount. Yet another Indiana town that dates back to the mid-1800s and once prospered from the Trenton Gas Field around the turn of the 20th century, Fairmount today is largely a commuter town, a popular living space for folks working elsewhere nearby. Garfield creator Jim Davis was raised there and still lives and works not too far away.

Some in Fairmount might argue Davis isn’t their most famous son. After we completed our Garfield collection, a few feet to our right was another familiar face waiting to welcome us to town.

James Dean standee!

You might remember him from such films as East of — wait, we already did that joke.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 5 of 6: Four Far-Flung Felines

Garfield EXTREEEME!

EXTREEEME GARFIELD.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

After hitting that four-pack of Garfields in Marion, the next four were each in separate towns, not all of them next door to each other, and would feel like more of a slog in comparison. The overall path for all eleven Garfields was close to circular — more like a backwards ‘P’ if viewed from above. The path from Garfields #7 through #10 formed the western-facing bowl of the rather large P.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 4 of 6: A Cat at the Heart of Matter

A Person is a Person!

“A person is a person no matter how small…” — wisdom from Dr. Seuss.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

Last time we showed you three Garfields in the city of Marion. But Marion has four Garfields. Between the hospital and the golf course, we found another Garfield in an unexpected wonderland of public art.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 3 of 6: Three Cats, the Marion Kind

Dr. Garfield!

Dr. Garfield ready to perform his next CAT scan. (I…I’m sorry. I really am.)

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

From the Pawnee-inspired digression we headed twenty miles west to the city of Marion, the only locale on our itinerary with a population over 6,000. If we’d had an appetite for lunch yet, it would’ve been the most likely place to find a bite, but artisan breakfast and ice cream kept us going well beyond that stop. Apropos of our objective, Marion was the birthplace of Garfield creator Jim Davis as well as one legendary actor…whose history inspired yet another non-Garfield-related detour.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 1 of 6: Garfields of Dreams

Garfield @ Upland!

Arguably our first-ever photo of a “jazz paw”.

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For my birthday last year we drove all the way to Michigan for a comic convention. That’s an average expedition for us, but this one required a five-hour drive that proved a bit much to cram into a single weekend. The con itself was a fabulous experience; the next several fatigued work days after, not remotely so. I wouldn’t mind doing that show again someday, but not as an annual event.

This time I decided to keep us slightly closer to home. The answer still involved comics, though not the “book” kind. It was a direct sequel to a previous birthday trip. And it was loosely inspired by video games.

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Indiana State Fair 2015 Photos, Part 4 of 5: The Art of the Fair

State Fair Clonetrooper!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

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 and big-ticket concerts by musicians that other people love. My wife and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. We’re not as thrilled about carnival rides as we used to be, and the State Fair almost never invites musicians I like. In between snacking experiments, our day at the fair tends to be all about sightseeing…

ART! It’s everywhere at the State Fair! It’s in the buildings or along the streets, it’s made by kids or by adults, it’s made of traditional media or of food, it expresses a thought or teaches a lesson or celebrates an idol or all of the above. These, then, are random examples of those very things that caught our eye.

Naturally we had to lead with Clonetrooper helmet. Its display-case roommate looks vaguely Legoesque, but I could be wrong.

Right this way for more things made by people! For things’ sake!

2014 Birthday Road Trip Photos #3: Stalking the Great Orange Cat

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For the last few years, my wife and I have spent our respective birthdays together finding some new place or attraction to visit as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on this most frabjous day, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. My 2014 birthday destination of choice: the town of Muncie, some 75 miles northeast of here.

Sure, many people would spend their birthday drinking, partying, and making the day wild and regrettable. We have our own agenda. Finding creative ways to spend quality time together. Embarking on road trips that wouldn’t occur to our peers. Searching for gems in unusual places — sometimes geek-related, sometimes peculiar, sometimes normal yet above average.

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

Part One was a general “hey, wow, still got a pulse!” birthday entry. Part Two was a salute to artwork around Muncie. Part Three covers the results of our primary objective, the twisted plan we knew no one would approve. It was a quest we’re sure many have tried, but few have confessed to attempting.

As it so happens, Muncie was once the town of residence for Garfield creator Jim Davis and his company, Paws, Inc. (Both now officially reside in Albany.) In honor of that intellectual property’s 25th anniversary in 2003 and its impressive long-term survival against all internet snark, dozens of Garfield statues stand in his honor all over Grant County and in Muncie. We weren’t prepared for a tour of neighboring Grant County, but Muncie boasts eleven of the known Garfield statues. We wanted to see how many we could track down. Because they were there.

We stumbled across our first one while visiting Minnetrista, inside their Orchard Gift Shop. Each statue has a name; this one’s “The Spirit of Minnetrista”. Coincidence, I’m sure.

The Spirit of Minnetrista!

This way for more curious artifacts like this…

Offer of Free CRT Monitor with Any Purchase Lures Zero Takers

48 hours after the fact, I remain wiped out from our nine-hour 90-degree yard sale last Saturday. Six families contributed assorted items, leftovers, and baked goods as a charity event to benefit three different needs identified by our church on local, national, and international levels. Our results exceeded our humble expectations by far will hopefully fund many a blessing in the future, but fell short of 100% sell-through.

Luckily for my overcrowded bookshelves, my set of the first eighteen Garfield collections sold in the first hour to an elderly gentleman who also carted off a second armload of children’s books. I was equally glad to pass along a Wheel of Fortune home game that we’d used only once but ultimately rejected when its questionable structural integrity began to damage our calm. My wife cheerfully chatted with the two separate families that now provide new homes for her duplicate Star Trek: the Next Generation still-on-card action figures. A pair of small boys each gave a quarter for the only other action figures on hand, a loose Nightwing and an unidentified all-gray DragonBall Z figurine with one point of articulation. A discerning music collector nabbed himself four zero-hit Oasis CDs (naturally we retained Live Forever and What’s the Story, Morning Glory?). The most surprising sale was our redundant copy (long story) of Spider-Man: the Complete Clone Saga Epic, Book 4.

The other five families had their share of victories, notably in the departments of tiny girl clothing, Disney Animated Classics on white-cased VHS, men’s tools (the hot item of the day — figuratively at first, then literally after hours of sitting in intense sunshine), the aforementioned baked goods, and extremely heavy objects.

If we do this again, next time we’ll have a better idea of what not to bring. I’m not sure why I thought a charity drive was the right place to give up old horror anthologies like Kirby McCauley’s Dark Forces and David Hartwell’s The Dark Descent. Also untouched were my dub copies of Metallica’s S&M, which wore out their welcome long ago after a second listening, but somehow evaded all my previous collection culls. My wife’s Grease soundtrack sat alone and unloved all day. My thirty-year-old copies of Bargain Hunter and Life, both still playable, went into the Goodwill sacks at closing time. The only two large-scale objects that she and I brought, our obsolete 25″ CRT TV and my ancient microwave, returned home with us perfectly functional yet rejected by all.

In fact, all things CRT wound up the biggest loser category of the day. We started at eight a.m. with eight CRT monitors and one flatscreen monitor. We ended the day with eight CRT monitors. By one p.m. we were willing to make crazy deals with the few customers bold enough to brave the afternoon heat just for roadside discounts, but no one would touch the monitors. By three p.m. one of our more adventurous companions was offering a free monitor to every customer, with or without a purchase. No luck. Imagine if the concept of “Get Eight Monitors for Just One Penny!” had been concocted years ago, perhaps Columbia House and BMG might still be in business today. Such a shame that window of opportunity has now passed. Customers were kind enough to continue making charitable donations in addition to their small random purchases, but Adopt-a-Monitor was a total no-go.

Maybe we should’ve added Garfield stickers on the sides of each one and labeled them “Collector’s Item Classics!” or even “Actual props from that one scene in Office Space!” Maybe that’s what we need to work on for our next yard sale. Maybe our problem wasn’t poor merchandise, but poor marketing.

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