One of my favorite stops on our 2020 vacation was the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy in his hometown of Vincennes. The exhibits cover his seventy years in the entertainment business from early theater to post-retirement art, provide context for visitors with little to no knowledge of The Way Things Used to Be in Hollywood mass media, and, if you string enough leftover photos in just the right sequence, build your own template to a successful comedy career. All you need is patience, talent, and/or an idol to copycat. That’s not how Skelton did it, but he isn’t around to stop you, now is he?
Twitter isn’t for everyone, but the designers have created a number of tools that allow users to shape their experience, curate their input streams, intertwine narratives, choose overall reading tone, defend themselves against the forces of evil, hide from polite disagreements, and, in my case, remove irritants. The tools aren’t perfect, but I appreciate their usefulness when it comes to surgically removing unnecessary ugliness and repetitive stresses that damage my calm. For me, internet moderation is a form of self-care.
Sometimes the results amuse me more than I’d intended.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: I wrote at length about a six-part miniseries that my wife and I watched on Crackle called The Final Tsars, in which I couldn’t be bothered to open an extra browser tab and verify the full name of the ruler at the heart of the story. The next morning, our first conversation after “Good morning” was a firm reminder that his official stage name was, in fact, “Czar Nicholas II”. MCC regrets the oversight and is sorry if any Russian historians were offended, but we don’t feel like editing the affected entry because it would undermine one of its underlying points and two of its jokes.
Disney’s crass rehashes of its extensive back catalog haven’t really been aimed at me, by and large. The Jungle Book had beautiful jungles, but some of those musical numbers…yikes. Our family unanimously hated Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I have yet to see Dumbo, Cinderella, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, or live-action brand extensions such as Maleficent, Alice Through the Looking-Glass, or Mirror, Mirror. (Snow White and the Huntsman found ways to surprise me, but that wasn’t Disney.)
I therefore have no plans to see Jon Favreau’s nearly Warholesque repurposing of Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers’ animated classic The Lion King…and yet I’ve spent half my Thursday reading the first wave of opinions out of skeptical curiosity. After the first five reviews I read from critics and websites I follow on Twitter, I saw patterns emerging. And thus the above artifact was born. Now I can make a game out of reading still more reviews.
The tabby cared not that the once-furnished domain was now barren. We could take away the bedding and the collections and the clothing piles, but we couldn’t take away the sunshine through the window. Unless we hung the curtains back up. Which was tempting, just to be spiteful.
I’m typing at you live from downtown Albany, New York, one of the stopovers on our 2018 road trip, where our hoteliers have gone overboard in assigning accommodations that appear far beyond our means, either because it’s an extremely slow night for them, or because either Anne or I resemble one of their local politicians. Probably Anne.
Pictured above is half our room. Well, almost half.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: a flashback to our second annual road trip, attending St. Louis’ second and final Gateway Sci-Fi Con in the year 2000. Actors from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were met, autographs were treasured, panels were enjoyed, and dozens of internet peers showed up to put faces with names. But we didn’t limit ourselves to the convention hotel’s property. None of us were from St. Louis; some of us were eager to explore and see what else the city had to offer.
Saturday night, seven of us piled into two cars and drove out to LaClede’s Landing, a district on the banks of the Mississippi River and down the street from the world-famous Gateway Arch. LaClede’s Landing is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with warehouses and facades dating back to the mid-19th century that were renovated circa 1975-1976. Not so renovated: the solid cobblestone streets we navigated at 2 MPH, feeling bump after bump after bump after bump after bump after bump as we crawled the blocks looking for sustenance and wishing someone would make the bumping stop.
Fate brought us to a saloon called Trainwreck on the Landing. Other Trainwrecks have existed in the 314 since the 1890s, but we knew nothing about any of them. We figured why not and gave it a whirl.
Hated it. We hated it so much, I wrote a skit about it four days later.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in November my wife Anne and I made our annual excursion to the Indiana Christmas Gift & Hobby Show, a beloved special event for her grandmother as it’s one of the few times she gets to venture more than two miles from home. Last month we shared a selection of our photos with MCC readers from here in Indianapolis, along with a light summary of who we saw, what we did, and other truthful statements about the occasion. It’s just this thing we like to do.
As we pushed Mamaw’s wheelchair around the East Pavilion, perused the wares, and sped past every pesky DirecTV huckster, meanwhile on Facebook I had fun sharing real-time photos with our family and friends who enjoy seeing our little outings, some of whom know Mamaw well and love to see her enjoying herself. This time for a couple of reasons I threw in a value-added twist to our live-at-the-scene reports:
It’s never too late to regret a Christmas gift whose inherent flaws were kept hidden at the time of unwrapping only to manifest weeks later like a time-delayed disappointment bomb.
[DIRECTOR’S NOTE: The following Christmas poem, written by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans, works best if read in the deep, laconic manner of Boris Karloff, James Earl Jones, Keith David, or Epic Voice Guy. As this piece hews more closely to the original book than to the Chuck Jones animated adaptation, we leave it to the individual reader to invent and insert musical numbers at their own discretion.]
Every Jedi down on Coruscant liked Christmas a lot
But the Emperor, who lived just this side of Coruscant, did NOT!
The Emperor hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now please don’t ask why. He’ll kill you without reason.
It could be that electricity in his eyes was too bright.
It could be, perhaps, that his robe was too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all
Was that his heart was two sizes too small.
But whatever the reason, his robe or his eyes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating Jedis.
Thanksgiving is nigh again! Time for gratitude toward those wonderful people who endure us, another round of overeating, more complaints about What the First Thanksgiving Was Really Like in Case You Haven’t Heard That One Before, and both budgets and self-control thrown out the window for the sake of the longest Friday of the year.
Trump. Trump, trump.
Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump Trump Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump-trump trump trump trump. Trump Trump trump trump trump trump trump (trump) trump trump trump trump Trump trump trump Trump Trump trump Trump. Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump.
Every year my wife and I attend two family reunions, both of them on her side. My family reunited exactly once about thirty years ago at some public park two hours away from home, where two cousins and I were the only attendees under 35, and the overall average age was somewhere in the lower 60s. That trivia and the crushing boredom are the only takeaways I remember. If they ever attempted an encore, I wasn’t informed. I’m fine with never knowing.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, we shared photos from the 2016 edition of Anne’s dad’s side’s reunion, once again held the Sunday after Labor Day at the exquisitely sylvan, rugged, sprawling, visually arresting Turkey Run State Park in western Indiana. It’s a compromise between us central-Indiana Hoosiers and a healthy, distant branch of cousins and cousin-like hangers-on who live out in eastern Illinois. It’s a bit of a drive for all of us from our respective directions, but everyone agrees it’s pretty and non-boring.
This past weekend was the other reunion.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: while waiting at Indianapolis International Airport for our (delayed) flight to Manhattan, I downloaded Pokemon Go as an amusing experiment just to see what would happen. Three weeks later, I’m still toying around, curious to see how much longer it’ll take me to get bored with it and move on. Yep, that should happen any week now.
Longtime MCC readers know I’m not the world’s biggest sports fan. I probably wouldn’t rank among the top 2 billion sports fans alive. I know more about baseball than any other sport by a slim margin because in third grade I read a book about baseball that contained a thorough glossary. I learned; I tried to stick with it; I fell away quickly. The passion never developed, but the vocabulary remained.
From time to time I’ll find opportunities to attend ballgames anyway. Our hometown minor league team, the Indianapolis Indians, provide occasional diversions, free tickets, and/or reasons to get out of the house. For tonight’s feature presentation, the primary objective was to get my mom some fresh air and holiday spirit. She hasn’t been out of the house much since her retirement at the end of May, but she does love some good old-fashioned fireworks displays. Anne and I could take or leave ’em. Nevertheless, we figured the outing would do her some good.
Occasionally, though, I got bored. Or in a mood. Some light phone usage may have occurred.
Normally I wouldn’t review a film till after I’ve seen it, but I get the impression from some corners of the internet that cause-and-effect are now passé and prejudging is all the rage with the poorly parented kids these days. I’ve been watching the ongoing Ghostbusters debates for months from the sidelines, but the following tweet kind of broke me Monday evening:
I can’t figure out which shopping site he was browsing, but honestly, that’s how we’re playing armchair critic, guys? By shooting things down that make us frown without even trying them? With attitudes like that, I’m guessing none of those faux advance reviewers ever gave vegetables a chance, either.
Hi, geese. Call me gander. Let’s go ahead and review Ghostbusters like it’s the greatest thing in the galaxy, 100% sight unseen, three weeks before it opens. Free country! Free speech! Free boorishness! Free self-immolation!
My wife and I were pleased to learn this evening one of our favorite shows now on the air, DC’s Supergirl, has been renewed for season 2 after a few rounds of negotiated compromises. Up front we’ve been told the show will be relocating from Los Angeles to Vancouver for cheaper filming, if they can find a few square feet not in use by the 300 other shows and movies already shooting there. Biggest change of all (for now): Supergirl will be moving from CBS to The CW, which is bad news for fans in numerous cities without their own CW affiliate. Here’s hoping your internet access is higher-quality than your local broadcasting industry is.
What else does this mean for the show? What other corners will be cut? What wrongheaded executive demands will ruin everything and turn us all against it? I shudder to contemplate what the future holds for our beloved stars and the only CBS show I’ve followed within the last four years.
It’s that time again! On Sunday 99% of America will be watching Super Bowl 50 and joking about how calling it “Super Bowl L” would’ve made the whole thing sound too Kryptonian. Meanwhile, we eclectic 1% have our own viewing plans: the twelfth annual Puppy Bowl! The geniuses at Animal Planet once again acknowledge that people like me exist and counterprogram for our tastes with a repeated two-hour pretend-competitive event in which a bunch of animals frolic and gambol with a bunch of other animals, and the announcer and referee each take turns making the worst puns of the year. Puppy Bowl is mostly a dog’s field, but other animals such as cats, hamsters, and even penguins have assumed roles at times in this increasingly diverse production.
As is our custom, we here at Midlife Crisis have dinner plans that night in an empty restaurant with no TV. Before our big date, rest assured we’ll be tuning in for Puppy Bowl XII even though we’ve convinced ourselves we already know what the showrunners are planning to unleash that’ll really shake up this year’s judgment-free dog show.
Just when you thought entertainment corporations had cooled down on the idea of rebooting their property catalogs, along comes a day like today to remind you to stop overestimating entertainment corporations. This morning Entertainment Weekly reported Hanna-Barbera has struck a deal with DC Comics — that bastion of work-for-hire literary integrity — to jump-start some of its most well-known characters as 21st-century comics for a new generation who doesn’t know them and/or an old generation that will shell out money for any repackaged remnants of their childhood.
The article linked above includes teaser images from DC’s planned reboots of Scooby-Doo (now with weapons and tattoos!), the Flintstones (realistic proportions + painful Stone Age puns = PROFIT), Space Ghost and Brak (no more Adult Swim irony, natch), and more. (Jonny Quest’s cast looks surprisingly unchanged, but we’ll see what happens after half of them are killed in the first issue.) The official press release offers additional details omitted from the EW summation, including the part where the Scooby Gang will be fighting nanites, which are now officially Over if they weren’t already. (Trivia undisclosed in the article: DC, Hanna-Barbera, and EW share the same giant parent company.)
It didn’t take long for Twitter to burst into laughter and kick off another round of reboot jokes. Within the first thirty seconds after I caught the news, I next saw other users lining up to brainstorm concepts for a grim-‘n’-gritty Yogi Bear, scoffing about a Jabberjaw revival, hoping Mighty Man and Yukk were up for grabs, and so on. By the time I got home after a long work day and in a better position to interact, I didn’t even bother checking Twitter because I assumed all the best jokes and obvious intellectual properties were spoken for, and my late contributions would be tired and redundant. What’s a sarcastic guy to do?
Fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been up in arms the past two months over the complete lack of a dedicated action figure based on Rey, even though she’s the movie’s main character, arguably its most interesting new hero, and quite possibly a powerful descendant of one of the series’ most famous faces. While Hasbro has given Rey a one-way ticket to the Island of Misfit Toys, all the major male characters boast their own figures and multi-packs and variants and prominent roles in numerous other Star Wars toy assortments and games.
Online protesters suspected the executives at Hasbro were just being big fat sexist jerks, but their rage has been further fueled by an interview published Wednesday with an alleged Lucasfilm insider who claims The Powers That Be mandated that Rey specifically be denied an action figure because girl. Fans of Daisy Ridley’s amazing performance are unhappier than ever and demand Rey figures and justice now, in that order. Hasbro, who have yet to reveal the exact location of the landfill where they deposited seven years’ worth of unsold Padme in Immobile Ballroom Gown figures, could not be reached for comment.
While Hasbro squirms and harrumphs in its Rhode Island lair, we here at Midlife Crisis Crossover are betting that somewhere in California, the folks at Mattel are watching the debacle, taking notes, and adjusting their own plans for the eventual toys that we presume will coincide with the 2017 release of the first Wonder Woman theatrical film in world history. Of course there’ll be action figures! If you have a super-hero toy license, it’s what you do!
We’ve consulted our greatest prognosticating minds and our own secret anonymous sources, and have assembled our definitive predictions for the complete release schedule of the Wonder Woman action figure line, broken down by the waves to be released every 4-6 weeks as demand ramps up and the collectors beg for more. We’re thinking 2017 will be a very good year for DC Comics toy manufacturers and the boys who love them.