10 Timely Tips for Pandemic Fine Dining in Peace or Panic

Duck & Duck!

Oakleys Bistro in Indianapolis presents their “Duck & Duck”, two modest portions of sliced duck served with a rosemary duck confit arancini, charred broccoli spinach puree, pickled cherry relish, coriander crema, and leek puree.

Has pandemic fatigue got you down? Are you sick of subsisting on the two-year bulk-food supply you overstocked in your basement back in March? Could you use an hour-long break from staring at the same walls seven days a week? Have you become so annoyingly restless and loud that your family wishes you’d stop putting the “rant” in “quarantine”? Are you worried your favorite restaurant may collapse and die like Uncle Ben while you stand there like Peter Parker doing nothing about it? More importantly, can you afford to eat out right now? Most importantly, are you safe for other humans to be around?

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Downtown, Distanced

Social Distancing, Please!

Because we’re over three months into this catastrophe and some people still need practical advice.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: if your city’s like ours, and I know ours is, you had some protests and riots damaging your complacency back in May. Odds are you’re still seeing some combination of activity, activism, and/or action. Things seem quieter here in our own hometown of Indianapolis, though it could simply feel that way because local media have lost interest in encore performances and have moved on in their never-ending search for new hot topics to captivate audiences burned out on the old ones. In the daytime, at least, things have demonstrably calmed down.

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Indiana State Fair 2011 Photos, Part 4 of 4: The Year in Soybeans and So On

Bennie the Bean!

Me and Bennie the Bean. Soys will be soys.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

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. As if our dwindling downtime to-do list for 2020 weren’t already small enough to fit on a Post-It, Anne and I are still reeling from Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the 2020 Indiana State Fair has been canceled after too many vendors kept backing out, painfully aware that crowds and super-powered viruses remain a volatile mix.

Recounts of our State Fair experiences have been among MCC’s annual traditions ever since I launched the site in April 2012. But it’s not as though our lives began in April 2012. We have quite a few stories not yet shared here from pre-MCC days. We may not be able to make new State Fair memories this year, but we can wallow in the older ones we haven’t revisited in a while.

Hence this previously unshared flashback to our 2011 experience. We tried to make the most of our day in this, the Year of Soybeans.

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Indiana State Fair 2011 Photos, Part 3 of 4: The Year in Tragedy

Memorial.

The makeshift memorial that rose up near the Grandstand box office in the days after the events of August 13, 2011.

Have you ever looked back on an occasion, really dug deeply into those tucked-away memories, only to have your rose-colored glasses slapped off when you’re suddenly reminded of a truly terrible part that you’d managed to forget?

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Indiana State Fair 2011 Photos, Part 2 of 4: The Year in Lego and Canned Food Art

Cans Hulk!

Who makes a Hulk out of canned food but doesn’t use Green Giant vegetables?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

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. As if our dwindling downtime to-do list for 2020 weren’t already small enough to fit on a Post-It, Anne and I are still reeling from Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the 2020 Indiana State Fair has been canceled after too many vendors kept backing out, painfully aware that crowds and super-powered viruses remain a volatile mix.

Recounts of our State Fair experiences have been among MCC’s annual traditions ever since I launched the site in April 2012. But it’s not as though our lives began in April 2012. We have quite a few stories not yet shared here from pre-MCC days. We may not be able to make new State Fair memories this year, but we can wallow in the older ones we haven’t revisited in a while.

Hence this previously unshared flashback to our 2011 experience, which featured some of the same staples that longtime MCC readers should know by now. Prime example: super fun art installations!

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Indiana State Fair 2011 Photos, Part 1 of 4: The Year in Food

Ice Cream Burger!

Join us in a bit of nostalgia for the good ol’ days of eating out and mingling in crowds with impunity, won’t you?

You, the Viewers at Home, don’t need me to tell you 2020 is The Worst. And the hits just keep on coming, great and small. While more important people address the great, someone ought to tend to the small. Might as well be me, the Most Irrelevant Man in the World.

As if our dwindling downtime to-do list for 2020 weren’t already small enough to fit on a Post-It, Anne and I are still reeling from Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the 2020 Indiana State Fair has been canceled after too many vendors kept backing out, painfully aware that crowds and super-powered viruses remain a volatile mix. Recounts of our State Fair experiences have been among MCC’s annual traditions ever since I launched the site in April 2012. It isn’t the first tradition thrown off-track this year, and it may not be the last.

But it’s not as though our lives began in April 2012. We have quite a few stories not yet shared here from pre-MCC days. We may not be able to make new State Fair memories this year, but we can wallow in the older ones we haven’t revisited in a while.

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Valentines the Day After

Artisan Bakery!

These scrumptious baked goods are actually the end of our story, but when you invoke the word “Valentine”, no one wants to put off the sugar till later.

This year our Valentine’s Day was a wash. Anne and I both had to work, which was time well spent in the sense that more work means less debt. The evening was equally unromantic. While I tended to a recurring family responsibility, Anne spent those same hours errand-running. Sacrificing that time frame meant far fewer interruptions in the rest of our weekend.

United at last at the end of the day, we exchanged gifts and red-tinged, heart-covered cards with jokes on them. Then we hurried up and fell asleep because we’re older now and we had a date to look forward to in the morning.

As some families celebrate Christmas not on the day of, so went Cupid’s cutesy custom for us.

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Merry Christmas from MCC!

Merry Christmas!

Considerably sized Christmas tree live from the heart of downtown Indianapolis.

Longtime MCC readers may recognize the above-pictured tree has graced this site before. I try not to post the exact same images or words to mark every single Christmastime, but other sites do it, so why injure myself trying to uphold a standard that doesn’t bug anyone except me. Besides, I think I deserve at least a tiny moment of coasting — I officially finished my Christmas shopping three days ago and have yet to receive a single pat on the head for it. So this quick “Merry Christmas” post is my own personal “TREAT YO’SELF” reward.

I mean the sentiment nonetheless, though: Merry Christmas to you ‘n’ yours from us here at Midlife Crisis Crossover, High-Spirited Holidays, Vivacious Vacation, Divine December, and/or congratulations on reaching the light at the end of the 2019 tunnel. May your day be merry and bright, your celebrations invigorating, your downtime rewarding, and your internet circles calm and peaceful and filled with joyous content besides premature Best of 2019 listicles.

Halloween Stats 2019: Into the Valley of Death Rode the 14

Halloween Decor!

Some of our yard decor. I really need to stock up on some new gear, though.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, no matter how discouraging the results.

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Our First Day Trying the New IndyGo Red Line, Which Sucked

Red Line Anne!

My wife Anne hanging out in the bikers’ wing because there was no room for us anywhere else aboard.

I love the idea of mass transit. I got used to buses as a wee tyke when my mom and my grandma took me on them all the time. As adults my wife and I have had positive experiences in Denver, DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Manhattan. (Baltimore was a mixed bag.) I loved the NYC subways so much after our first visit, I begged Anne to let me dig a subway tunnel connecting NYC’s MTA and our front door. My request died in committee.

Meanwhile back in Indianapolis, “mass transit” doesn’t mean quite so much. Our medium metropolis was built over the course of decades with no room allotted for subways or light rail. There’s no such thing as “hailing” a cab here — they exist but if you want one, you have to phone for one. We have a bus system called IndyGo, which is…well, it’s certainly a set of things on wheels that provides a traveling alternative under certain limited conditions. It isn’t exactly renowned. From time to time, some idealistic, would-be innovator comes to town with an idea to do a “mass transit” thing and improve quality of life for commuters and folks without cars. Nine times out of ten, those benevolent thinkers are sent packing. I’d use the old cliché “they’re run out of town on a rail”, but this would be an obvious lie due to the lack of rails to spare.

This year IndyGo and our city government conspired to introduce a new concept to our Indy road scene: Bus Rapid Transit. Per their grand vision and ubiquitous marketing boilerplate, it could change the very face of Indianapolis mass transit if their plans and dreams come true. If.

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Our HorrorHound Indianapolis 2019 Photo Album

Patrick Wilson!

Patrick Wilson and me, posing for a TV Guide ad for our new CBS procedural dramedy.

Saturday marked our fifth trip to HorrorHound Indy, an annual Indianapolis convention in honor of the scary, bloody, icky, haunting, stabbing, disturbing, black-garbed aspects of pop culture. The folks at HorrorHound Magazine orchestrate the festivities so loyal fans of the murderous and the macabre can enjoy a themed geek space of their own apart from Star Wars and Star Trek and whatnot. (Well, mostly.) As we’ve gotten older and more puritanical, our touchpoints with horror, terror, and gross-outs have dwindled in number compared to the average attendee, but the intersections between their guest list and our favorite worlds continue to delight and surprise and draw us back into their waiting wings.

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Encore: Last Day, Last Call

FAIR us!

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

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, 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…

But then four days later we drove once more out to the east side and enjoyed a 4-hour whirlwind do-over. It all comes down to this: one final gallery of what else we did at this year’s Indiana State Fair — the superheroes, the animals, and the one ride we rode. Enjoy!

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Photos, Part 6 of 6: Random Acts of State Fairing

INDY!

The intent is to effect a military stance and spell out “INDY”, but to me this actually appears pronounced “ANNNDY”.

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, 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…

…and it all comes down to this: one last round of imagery from our State Fair experience on Tuesday the 6th — giant harvests, cardboard cutouts, collegiate promotions, and a special tribute to a beloved Indiana citizen we lost earlier this year. All this and more!

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Gen Con 2009: The Lost Photo Parade

Yu-Gi-Oh-ize me!

It is I, Token the White Guy, rarer than a Blue Eyes White Dragon and yet far less in demand!

Every August since 2003 our hometown of Indianapolis has hosted the Wonder of the World that is Gen Con, one of America’s oldest and largest gaming conventions. Whether your gaming mode is RPGs, tabletop games, TCGs, dice games, family board games, or video games, Gen Con has its sights aimed in your direction. Try a new game, pick up supplies for your current campaigns, network with gamers from faraway lands, or just wander the premises and gaze upon the wonders. Attendance over the past two years has topped 60,000 and shows no signs of slowing down. On the occasion of their 50th celebration in 2017, as phenomenal as it was by all accounts, I’m surprised a squad of fire marshals didn’t simply shut the whole city down.

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2 Hours of Jazz, 40 Minutes of Animals: Indy Zoo Revue #10

lemur concentrating!

A ring-tailed lemur trying really hard to concentrate despite distracting humans.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: our family has been to our Indianapolis Zoo several times over the years. Now that my son is an adult and we’ve seen most of the animals a dozen times each, attendance for us isn’t an annual tradition, but we’ll drop in from time to time for special occasions.

Last week my wife Anne and I availed ourselves of a five-week event series called “Animals and All That Jazz”. Each Thursday evening a different jazz band has been invited to play a concert in their pavilion. Concert tickets cost a bit more, but they included zoo admission and the show lasted until after normal closing time. With a gracious one-time special discount through my employer, the two of us decided to check it out. It was a pleasant getaway from our current restlessness that has us pacing back and forth while waiting for our vacation week to arrive.

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Birthday 47: Primo Pizza and Pointless Pondering

Thai and Creole!

The top half is Thai-inspired. The bottom half is Creole-esque. All of it is coated in smoked Gouda with no objection from me.

It’s that time again! This week I turned 47 without entering true Midlife Crisis mode yet, and managed not to whine about it. Much. Not out loud, anyway. The more I stare at our recent convention photos, the more gray hairs I see taunting me and trying to convince me I am, in fact, an old adult and not a mature teenager.

Fun useless trivia: I share my birthday with Dennis Hopper, Bill Paxton, Trent Reznor, Sugar Ray Leonard, Craig Ferguson, Howard Ashman, Bob Saget, Jordan Knight, and Dave Sim. Yet we never get together and combine parties. Sure, two of my birth-twins are no longer among the living, but still.

For the past several years my wife and I have made a tradition of going somewhere new for each of our birthdays. One-day road trips and events such as last year’s Garfield Quest give me the gift of new experiences and distracts me from the physical decay at hand. As it happens, we’ll spending my birthday weekend helping a relative move, which means we’ve had to postpone my official birthday outing till next weekend. I’m grown-up enough to handle delayed gratification, and am at peace with the notion of serving others this weekend instead of indulging myself.

In the meantime, today had its happy distractions, mostly in the form of food. Friends and family kept my mind off the aging process for most, if not all, of the day.

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48 Stories Over Indianapolis

Monument Circle!

Monument Circle, the center of Indianapolis. Don’t asl me why someone built a little house on one of those rooftops.

At 49 stories, Indianapolis’ Salesforce Tower is the tallest building in town. Once upon a time it was Chase Tower; the time before that, it was the Bank One Tower. I’m old enough to remember a time before it was added to our downtown skyline and made the formerly insultingly labeled “Naptown” feel all the smaller as we tried to catch up with fifteen or twenty other, larger cities nationwide. Measured by population we rank 16th; measured in skyscrapers, we earn a “Participant” ribbon. But we cherish our ribbon.

Longtime MCC readers may recall we’ve been in taller buildings — more famous ones such as One World Trade Center, Willis Tower, and 30 Rockefeller Plaza, which for some unsightly reason is now called the Comcast Building, which would be a terrible name for a sitcom. All of these pale before the magnificence of Pikes Peak, but that’s neither here nor there.

For Hoosiers, Salesforce Tower is as high as we can get without wings or catapults. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a work-related function on their 48th floor. Of course I took photos of my surroundings. Prominent features are labeled where visible and remembered.

Our skyline may not be an iconic fixture in pop culture, but to us it’s home.

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Our 2019 Super Bowl Deserted Restaurant Getaway

Cuban Creme Brulee!

I’m a grown-up and I can skip to the dessert photo if I wanna. Behold the Cuban Creme Brûlée — espresso custard topped with caramelized sugar, Chantilly cream, shaved chocolate, and raspberries. 11/10 would gladly eat first next time.

Each year our family has indulged in our own special Super Bowl tradition: while the rest of the world is watching football and swapping snacks and beers with best friends and chatting about The Sports, we have dinner at a fancy restaurant. Between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., anyplace without a large-screen TV is usually empty and totally ours for the taking.

Usually we’ll try someplace we’ve never been elsewhere in town, but this year we stuck to Indianapolis’ west side and head up the road to Rick’s Cafe Boatyard, where my son and I hadn’t been in many, many years. Once known as Rick’s Café Americain Restaurant, it’s located on the shore of sometimes scenic Eagle Creek Reservoir. Over half their menu is seafood, but they also offer chicken specialties, artisan pizzas, and fancy sandwiches to pacify any fish-haters or tag-along allergic diners.

As expected, only a few other families were on the premises. For lack of competing tables, service was speedy and friendly. We did our best to ignore the half-dozen TVs hanging from the ceiling and threatening to keep us in the loop on a sport none of us follows. We did catch a glimpse of Gladys Knight singing the National Anthem, but otherwise focused on fun conversation and mostly fine food.

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Halloween Stats 2018: 78 Minutes of Human Connection and Candy

Lowes Witch!

When the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations all compete for shelf space at the same time, it gets hard to remember which holiday is WITCH. EEEEEEH-HEE-HEE-HEE-HEEEEEEEE!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and beneficent snack donation. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers there’s a stats junkie in me that thrives on taking head counts, no matter how discouraging the results.

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The Birthday Cemetery: Our 2012 Crown Hill Tour, Part 2 of 2

goddess!

To approach this crypt you must first pass the Trial of the Stone Goddess!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

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 of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2012, we willfully stayed in town for a change and spent a Saturday at a pair of nearby attractions with connections to the Halloween season. It’s not her favorite holiday, but October is her birth month and she had her motives. The first half of that fun-filled day was spent driving around the most famous final resting place in all of Indianapolis, Crown Hill Cemetery. A renowned institution since 1864, Crown Hill houses several of the Circle City’s bigger names in history and/or local government, as well as the highest elevation point in central Indy…

Our feature presentation was the gravesite of Benjamin Harrison, the only American President buried in Indiana. We also found the burials of a number of Hoosier Vice Presidents and other famous figures and contributors to society. Beyond the purview of our preceding photo gallery, a number of other Crown Hill tombstones, crypts, and special features caught our eyes as we wandered the grounds, took in the sights, tried to be respectful, and hopefully angered no vengeful spirits.

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