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The Art of a Downtown Knoxville Walk

Kool-Aid Man!

Kool-Aid Man now comes in new Graffiti Punch flavor! OH, YEAH!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Earlier in October Anne and I drove down through Kentucky and down to Knoxville, Tennessee, to meet a few fabulous folks at Fanboy Expo’s Totally Awesome Weekend, a convention we’d never done before. After we’d had another round of geek fun, we capped off our weekend with quite a bit of sightseeing (including but not limited to a giant dragon)…

After the convention and an elevator ride into the Sunsphere, lunch was an immediate necessity. Other than a restaurant choice pegged through the magic of Google Maps, we didn’t have complicated plans for our downtown wandering — head from point A to B; eat food; marvel at incidental sights along the way. The area in general and one alley in particular caught our eyes and brightened our day.

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Journey to the Heart of the Sunsphere

Sunsphere!

That’s over 266 feet (approx. 81 meters) worth of architectural achievement up there. Of course we had to visit it.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: earlier in October Anne and I drove down through Kentucky and down to Knoxville, Tennessee, to meet a few fabulous folks at Fanboy Expo’s Totally Awesome Weekend, a convention we’d never done before. After we’d had another round of geek fun, we capped off our weekend with quite a bit of sightseeing (including but not limited to a giant dragon).

Knoxville’s most prominent landmark is the Sunsphere, one of two surviving major remnants from the 1982 World’s Fair, but this remnant enjoyed a spot of fame in an episode of The Simpsons. We showed you the iconic exterior from a distance, which for us raised an obvious question: what about the inside?

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An Afternoon Walk for Art: Our Cincinnati Comic Expo 2017 Coda

Toy Heritage!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last Saturday Anne and I attended the eighth annual Cincinnati Comic Expo in the heart of their downtown. Once we finished up at the show, the urge for exploration hadn’t faded yet. Last year we’d checked out a few of the local tourist attractions but had to leave some possibilities behind for future years. Our time was short, but we wanted to cross at least one objective off the outtake list.

Hence our lead photo: “Toy Heritage”.

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Our 2017 Road Trip #4: Morgantown RFD

Don Knotts statue!

One man. One career. Five Emmys. One hometown. One bullet.

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…

Full disclosure: we knew we couldn’t reach Baltimore from Indianapolis in a single day by our own driving rules. A stopover would be needed along the way. We’d never heard of Morgantown before our research turned it up, but we’re grateful we found a nice place to hang out for a night and a morning before we moved on…entirely thanks to this man.

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Return to Paducah: Our Superman Celebration 2017 Coda

Welcome to the Atomic City!

One of 50+ murals painted along Paducah’s Ohio River flood wall. Anne took pictures of nearly all of them while the sunshine baked us in our skins and now we’re dead. The End.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on June 9th and 10th my wife Anne and I attended the 39th annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL, a grand bash in honor of the Man of Steel in particular and all the super-heroes who owe their existence and livelihoods to him in general.

Across the Ohio River from Metropolis is the city of Paducah, Kentucky. We first explored their downtown on our first road trip to the area in 2001, but had found mostly empty storefronts, a few old antique shops, a couple of murals, a scary comic shop, and easy access to the Ohio River in case we wanted to take our chances on a dunking of questionable content. On our second through fifth trips to the area, we bypassed downtown and limited our Paducah exploration to our hotels and the restaurants closest to them.

On the occasion of our sixth visit, we dug more deeply into our online research, now that more resources are available to us today than we had in 2001. We learned of a few roadside attractions we missed the first time around and we found encouraging evidence that they’ve made some upgrades over the past sixteen years. Once we’d had our fill of super-hero glory, festival food, and sunburn, we decided to hop back across the Ohio and see how they’re doing.

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Wizard World Chicago 2016 Photos, Part 8 of 7: On the Occasion of Rosemont’s 60th

Rosemont 60th!

If you attended Wizard World Chicago 2016 and stayed at the Hyatt across the street, or at another nearby hotel linked through the same skybridge network, you missed this mural.

(Consider this entry the scene after the “Wizard World Chicago 2016 Photos” end credits.)

Though it’s named for the Windy City, Wizard World Chicago is held each year at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in the suburb of Rosemont, which was incorporated January 20, 1956. We’ve done WWC eight times and still find something new in Rosemont every time we visit. That three-story mural in the lead photo adorned the free parking garage attached to our hotel for the weekend, known to WWC fans as “The Other Hyatt” — i.e., the one a mile north of the con and far away from all the good parties. It’s cheaper, quieter, and easy to make reservations there by accident if you don’t pay attention to the differing street addresses on Rosemont’s two Hyatts.

The Other Hyatt’s mural was our first notice about Rosemont’s 60th anniversary. On Saturday as we walked through the center corridor of the convention center parking garage, from the con over to MB Financial Park for dinner, we discovered another tribute to Rosemont’s 60th in the form of famous paintings brushed large but altered with homages to various Rosemont points of interest (some more interesting to the locals than to us out-of-towners). Anyone who didn’t walk the same walk, or who didn’t look closely while driving in our out, would’ve missed them easily. We caught a few of our favorites to share here for posterity as a sort of post-con epilogue. Enjoy!

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