The October 2020 Birthday Trip, Part 6: Flora and Media

My wife standing atop a pile of dirt in Bloomington's WonderGarden

Anne imagines herself queen of the hill in WonderGarden. Deep into autumn, we found at least two things wrong with that name.

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 one-day 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.

Well, at least we did before 2020. Anne turned 50 this year, but for work-related reasons involving the Age of Coronavirus, I’m currently not allowed to leave the state of Indiana for the foreseeable future. Anne did some local travel research, a longtime hobby of hers (you have no idea how many of our future road trips she’s already mapped out), and came up with a few things she thought would be fun to do on a Saturday in autumn. Naturally we had to start with a long walk around someplace with millions of leaves changing colors. When you live in Indiana, it’s what you do. After picking up some sugar for breakfast, our first attraction of the day was McCormick’s Creek State Park, southwest of Indianapolis…

…and then it was on to Bloomington — home of IU, filming location for the 1979 Best Picture nominee Breaking Away, and hometown of such luminaries as David Lee Roth, Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot, animation voice actor Dee Bradley Baker, wrestler Mick Foley, sex scientist Alfred Kinsey, Jerry from ER, and the guys who wrote and directed both Hoosiers and Rudy. We didn’t exactly follow their footsteps, but we enjoyed finding our own path and picking up souvenirs along the way, where permitted.

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The Horrors We Can Contain

Arkham Horror!

Sometimes systems that look like unmitigated chaos from the outside are easier to navigate once you’re fully on the inside. Or they can consume you whole.

If now is not the time for a tortured metaphor involving a convoluted board game set in a fictional universe created by a flagrant racist, I don’t know when is.

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The Last New Comics Day?

New Comics 03-25-2020!

New releases on my pull list for the week of March 25, 2020, a date I can hopefully forget someday.

As dimwitted youngsters insist spring break simply must go on, as certain stubborn governors take turns doing their macho impression of the mayor from Jaws, and as other top-ranking officials demand we all agree to hurry up and pretend everything is basically fine ASAP…it’s painfully obvious Americans hate change, hate being told what to do, hate self-control and self-restraint, hate hate hate when someone tells us we have to be patient, and intensely, passionately despise when the solution to a problem is “do what other countries did”. Like an insufferable teen rebel, we think we know best and we want to do things our way because, like, freedom an’ fun an’ whatnot.

Thousands of people are hospitalized. More will need the same as Coronavirus/COVID-19 testing becomes less of a unicorn-level rarity. Sacrifices are being made on innumerable levels. Nevertheless, idiocy continues to run nearly as rampant as the virus itself because the ramifications aren’t being grasped, the horrors are being downplayed, and the fatalities aren’t occurring four inches away from those in denial. That senseless obliviousness can’t last. Sooner or later this catastrophe will get to someone or something they do care about.

It might be major upheaval. And it might be the small stuff.

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The Delaware Problem

Pixar Collection!

Once upon a time Pixar was so bulletproof that I aspired to a complete collection as each new film was released. You’ll note there are now intentional gaps as well as one pretender that speaks to why there are gaps.

Collections. Series. Runs. Seasons. Sets. Discographies. Filmographies. When geeks love a thing, they’re often overwhelmed with the desire to consume or possess all of that very thing. It’s not enough to say you’ve done some or many or several or a lot of a particular thing. Whatever you did, watched, read, listened to, or owned, what matters most is you managed all of it.

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Photos #6: The Droids We Weren’t Looking For

purple light-up astromech!

Purple light-up astromech guts.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…

It was a Star Wars Celebration. Of course there was a veritable droid army on the premises. Far more than we’d expected, once we stumbled upon their barely advertised hiding place. Granted, there were a couple patrolling the exhibit hall…

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The Culling of a Comics Collection, Chapter 1

Comics Culling...

Indiana as a state has an abysmal track record when it comes to encouraging recycling efforts, but options do exist if you know where to look.

I’ve heard a lot of chatter about Marie Kondo, the lady with the Netflix show who, if I understand all of last year’s internet squabbling correctly, recommends everyone throw away all their possessions except their Top 10, keep only one pet and release the rest into the wilderness, stuff half their food in the garbage disposal, raffle off any jewelry that weren’t featured in magazine articles, or something like that. For the record, I haven’t watched a single episode, so I’ve not been hypnotized and chanting, “I must give away all my possessions and join the KondoMinimizers,” or whatever.

No, I’ve been planning the act in the above photo for a few months now — consciously, at least. Subconsciously, maybe a lot longer.

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Old Guy with a PS3, Year 3: The Never-Ending “Borderlands 2”

Face McShooty!

In Borderlands 2, some missions are harder and more meaningful than others. The showdown with Face McShooty is not one of them.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover two years ago:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures…

…which brings us to our third annual round-up of how I spent my retro-gaming time this year. In previous entries I would list all the games I played that year in the order I played them and with my trophy percentages included, whether impressive or embarrassing.

This year, it’s a short list, he understated:

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Requiem for Another Indiana Comic Shop Closed

Android's Dungeon!

Whenever a comic shop closes its doors, Marvel kills off another Angel.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in July 2014 I expressed hopes and well wishes for the Android’s Dungeon, a new comic book shop that had opened in Avon, Indiana, in a heavily commercial area in otherwise comics-less Hendricks County. The owners were a nice young couple; the selection was diverse; the perks were kind. All signs pointed to potential success.

On August 31st, last Wednesday, the Android’s Dungeon observed one last New Comics Day before closing its doors for good.

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Board Games and Breaking Away

Star Wars Monopoly!

On a board far, far away…

My son has been staying with us this week, getting away from his isolated college apartment for a bit to enjoy better cooking and some human contact. Twice this week we plowed into our stash of board games and had ourselves some old-fashioned family quality time. While we were immersing ourselves in other, tinier worlds and their simpler structures of governance, obviously we couldn’t know this would end up an atrocious week for American civilization beyond our cozy, secluded walls.

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The Days Are Saved, Thanks to Scrapbooking!

Short entry because I’ve spent much of the night immersed in one of these:

Scrapbook!

For preserving our family’s experiences, I have my writing and my wife has her scrapbooks. When my memories falter, her photo spreads help jump-start the recovery process for those old, lost anecdotes. She’s been assembling these for years and years, building up quite the family library. Vacations, conventions, special one-time outings, random notable occasions, family holidays — if we did something besides work, sleep, eat, or stare at screens, she’s scrapbooked it.

I’ve delved into this one tonight to retrieve several old 35mm photos from our 2006 vacation for future use. A few were previously scanned, but not all of them. It’s so weird looking back at my son, tall for an 11-year-old yet far from his adult height; my wife, timeless as always; and me, the year after my diet. And many of the shots with her 35mm camera looked better than the results from the frustrating digital camera I had at the time. Quite unfair. So I’ve been scanning and scanning and scanning and scanning the night away and I’m really, really tired of staring at the scanner and waiting for the platen elves to hurry and make with the magical uploading.

Sometimes we’ll share her scrapbooks with friends, walk them through with tag-team narration. For the most part, they’re for our own future use, especially for revisiting in those golden years (so to speak) when individual tales begin to blur, vital details vanish, names become scrambled, and punchlines lose their impact. If either of us are stricken with one of the worst-case-scenario kinds of conditions, the ones that pulverize mental faculties and effectively sever any connections to prized talents and qualities, I want these scrapbooks right beside us as our reminders, as our life-savers, as our virtual tour guides to ourselves, imbued with all that we were and all that we meant.

The above pictures-in-picture are from a small-town Wizard of Oz festival we attended in 2006, a cavalcade of Oz cosplay, surviving Munchkin actors, arts-‘n’-crafts booths, and general whimsy. One day we ought to share that story, but I kept it in reserve for a few reasons, none of them personal. When the time is right and the story yearns to be told, either to ourselves or to others, the scrapbook will be waiting.

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