Our 2022 Road Trip #5: A George Bailey Family Christmas in June

It's a Wonderful Life poster!

“Christmas in July” is more idiomatic, but our timing was six days off.

We previously did A Christmas Story tourism back in 2013. This year, another beloved classic got a turn.

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The Road to Dragon Con 2021, Part 1 of 8: Firefight Club

1922 Model T fire truck!

Our lovely model Anne shows off a 1922 Model T fire truck, a one-ton, double-tank exemplar of first-responder innovation for its time. Also, a photobombing Dalmatian.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in 2019 my wife Anne and I attended our very first Dragon Con in downtown Atlanta, even went so far as to make it the centerpiece of our annual road trip. Their long-running, multi-site extravaganza may be the closest we’ll ever get to immersing ourselves in a mind-blowing geek gathering with anything approaching the size, depth, and logistical magnitude of San Diego’s fabled own. We were so blown away that we executed an encore presentation in 2021, which was a similarly amazing experience even with strongly enforced pandemic precautions in place. It likely won’t be our last time in town.

Alas, we regret we’ll be opting out of D*C 2022 for a variety of reasons despite numerous temptations, but we’re trying to content ourselves with the next best thing: constantly taking turns asking each other, “Hey, remember that time we did Dragon Con? That was awesome!” While we loiter on Memory Lane offline, here on MCC I’ll be indulging in the next-next best thing: sharing the previously untold tales of our two-day drive down to Georgia and the sights we caught along the way. Because if there’s one lesson I’ve learned from J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, Vince Gilligan, the Minions, and whatever CBS energy vampire spawned Young Sheldon, it’s that it’s perfectly okay to make a prequel nobody asked for. And anything they can do, I can do worse.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 7: All Around the CMA

Columbus Museum of Art!

Foreground: Jeff Koons, One Ball Total Equilbrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J Series), 1985. Background: Anselm Kiefer, Tutein’s Tomb, 1981-83.

[EDITORS’ NOTE: The following entry knowingly contains Art. Viewer discretion is advised.]

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 short-term 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.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

The Columbus Museum of Art had drawn me in with their big exhibit celebrating the pre-1960 works of hometown legend Roy Lichtenstein, but other rooms commanded our attention as well. A sampler of those works, many by Big Names, seems in order as a companion piece.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 6: Lichtenstein Pre-Pop

Washington Crossing the Delaware II

Washington Crossing the Delaware II, 1951.

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 short-term 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.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

As a comics fan I think I’m supposed to loathe Roy Lichtenstein and his Pop Art appropriations of single panels from the hard labors of countless underpaid artists from years past. I generally get the anger of an artistic fandom predisposed to condemn any product that reeks of unaffectionate tracing and/or outright theft. (Hence some especially vehement online condemnations of self-styled “NFT artists”.) On the other hand, I’m also a lifelong lover of parody and satire, of deconstruction and deflating pretensions. On that level Pop Art has always fascinated me, from Warhol to Lichtenstein to Rauschenberg and beyond. Their often passively-aggressively snide answers to the question, “What is Art?” are fair game both for criticism and as criticism.

As it happens, my birthday weekend had a gift waiting for me: a special exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art called “Roy Lichtenstein: History in the Making 1948-1960”. Lichtenstein was born in Manhattan but earned his degrees at Ohio State University in Columbus (with a three-year intermission for WWII homefront service) and consequently counts as a hometown hero. He moved on to teaching elsewhere while taking steps into the art world, leaving representational figures quickly behind as he entered a phase of dabbling in Cubism and Surrealism as means to interrogate, deconstruct, or merely spoof well-known images of his time, haughty American history, or random pictures that caught his eye in Life Magazine. His fame/infamy would be later claimed in the Pop Art movement; in contrast, the CMA’s exhibit collected works showing his earlier evolution…or, if you can’t stand his work, his villain origin.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 4: COSI All Around

COSI sign!

Obligatory Marvel cameo helps us segue from the first three chapters to the rest of our mostly non-Marvel weekend.

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 short-term 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.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

The Marvel exhibit alone was worth the three-hour drive, but the Center of Science and Industry had more to it than that. Perhaps the average 50-year-old wouldn’t kick off their big birthday celebration at one of those large, fancy kids’ museums that are entertaining staples in many a big city, but that’s where our choices took us. As a compromise to seem slightly less weird, we did not visit all their exhibits, but we encountered enough extras to compile a bonus COSI gallery. Museums: they’re not just for kids anymore!

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 3: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way

Amazing Spider-Man #252 cover!

I was 11 when Amazing Spider-Man #252 debuted his black costume and blew my mind. Art by Ron Frenz and Klaus Janson.

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 short-term 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.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

Now we’re to my favorite part of the Marvel exhibit at Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry. The statues were fun and the MCU film props and costumes were quite a sight to behold up close, but original comics art is a rarity for me to see in person. Growing up, buying original art was something rich comics investors did for fun and showiness, nothing a poor kid like me could ever afford. In adulthood I’ve climbed up the ladder high enough that I now own a few modest pages, nothing fancy.

The Marvel exhibit features over six dozen pages drawn by the original artists across 80+ years of the medium’s history — not just reproductions, the real thing, largely loaned by private collectors identified below each frame for provenance and gratitude. Some were autographed by the artists; in a few of the older pieces, you can see where artists (and Stan “The Man” Lee) autographed them years after the fact. The following gallery, less than half the total works on display, is a selection of those that stuck out to me for various reasons and didn’t succumb to blurry photography. One of them even has color. (Painted, at that!) A few have behind-the-scenes Easter eggs, such as our lead photo — if you click on the cover to ASM #252 you can read Klaus Janson’s notes in the margins addressed to George Roussos, the colorist who handled all Marvel covers at the time. For me, the little details add to the thrill of comics art appreciation.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 2: Mighty Marvel Cinemania

Iron Man Mark I armor!

The Iron Man Mark I armor, the very first costume in the official Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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 short-term 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.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

…so we old folks had fun roaming around a kiddie museum, Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry, immersing ourselves in the all-ages roadshow exhibit “Marvel: Universe of Super-Heroes”. As you’d expect from a mainstream celebration of a massive multimedia corporation with an audience of hundreds of millions, many vitrines were devoted to keepsakes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Costumes and props worn and touched by the actors (and/or stunt doubles) were all around the hall, imbuing onlookers with that keen vibe of authentic Hollywood proximity. We’d previously seen MCU items on our Atlanta trip back in 2019, but I was gratified to notice very little overlap between the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum’s collection and this one.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 1: The Merry Marvel Museum Menagerie

Spidey and jazz hands!

I began collecting Amazing Spider-Man at age 6, around the first time Aunt May died. 44 years later, one of us has aged better.

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 short-term 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.

Whether through a lot of lucky cosmic dice rolls or by divine interference, I’ve just now lived to see 50. We’d had to keep Anne’s own 50th-birthday outing modest because the pandemic curtailed our options. It was her wish that we wouldn’t have to compromise the same way for mine. After weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio. We’ve driven through them several times on our way to other states, we’ve checked out their As-Seen-on-TV giant burgers, we’ve twice attended the most awesome indie comics show in the Midwest, and we’ve even been inside their capitol dome. We dug a little more deeply and learned they have still more to offer, especially in my fields of interest.

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The 2021 Birthday at Newfields, Part 2 of 2: Arts of a Whole

LOVE jazz hands!

The birthday gal and this writer in front of a replica of Robert Indiana’s iconic Love, which I’m pretty sure used to be on the art museum lawn.

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. Well, except last October when it was her turn, Anne wanted to keep her special outing simple — a single day spent together here in town. We managed to find some pretty things for the occasion at Newfields, the institution formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art… Continue reading

The 2021 Birthday at Newfields, Part 1 of 2: Light Show Van Gogh-Gogh

Anne on phone!

Anne strolls through a scintillating art kaleidoscope, unaware she’s posing for my work computer wallpaper.

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, except during raging pandemics before vaccines are ready. Or when one of us isn’t in the mood. Last October when it was her turn, Anne wanted to keep her special outing simple — a single day spent together here in town.

We managed to find some pretty things for the occasion at Newfields, the institution formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Last year they emptied out their top floor and converted it into a temporary, floor-wide installation with a very different approach to art. Instead of hanging paintings on the walls, they turned out the lights, turned the walls into projection screens, and filled the place with a rotating array of blown-up paintings. The montages emphasize the works of Vincent Van Gogh, but other Impressionists might be in the mix, along with works from at least one other continent altogether.

Welcome to the Lume.

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