Our GalaxyCon Louisville 2019 Photos

Day and Ray!

Me with Jonah Heston and Kinga Forrester, a.k.a. Jonah Ray and Felicia Day from Netflix’s MST3K revival. Yes, this was a very good day.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last year my wife Anne and I had the sincere pleasure of attending the inaugural Louisville Supercon, a three-day festival of comic-con goodness with screen actors, anime/animation voice actors, comic book creators, and other talents in the house to sign, pose, chat, and thrill. A con on the cusp of a holiday season was a tough sell for us, but we gave it a shot and had a blast, albeit on a tight budget at year’s end.

Fast-forward to today, and here we are again. Our budgetary crunch was even tougher because this year half the inanimate objects in our house have broken down and demanded attention. We made plans for a return engagement in Louisville anyway, now subsumed into a larger organization and rechristened GalaxyCon Louisville. Once again all the dreams we could afford to indulge were fulfilled, and we didn’t experience a single issue that could be blamed on the con. It was smoothly run A-plus fun except for the part where our aging bodies failed and imposed limits upon us. (Among other lessons, I learned trying to carry a heavy convention bag with the strap slung on your shoulder that’s just received a flu shot the day before is…not a pleasing sensation.) Otherwise: 12/10 very awesome, much entertainment, would convention there again.

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MCC Home Video Scorecard #11: Where the Movies Begin or End

MST3K The Return!

Repeat to yourself, “It’s just Netflix, I should really just relax!”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the recurring feature that’s me jotting down capsule-sized notes about Stuff I Recently Watched at home. In this batch: frankly, I’ve procrastinated returning to this idea for so long that my list has grown out of control and consumes far too much of my MCC idea back-burner file, so I’m dumping all its current contents here, zipping through whatever recollections have stuck with me, and resetting the counter to zero. Three cheers for fresh starts!

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Our 2005 Road Trip, Part 2 of 10: In Search of the Southern Sasquatch

Monster Mart!

Hi, I’m the Boggy Creek Monster! You might remember me from such films as The Legend of Boggy Creek and Boggy Creek II: The Legend Continues! But I would be shocked if you did.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Welcome to the first installment of another special MCC miniseries, representing the original travelogue from our 2005 drive from Indianapolis to San Antonio, Texas, and back again in far too short a time…

Anne and I have been to Arkansas exactly once. Sure, we could’ve spent that singular opportunity hiking Hot Springs National Park, visiting the official Walmart headquarters and museum, peeking inside our first Bass Pro Shops, or touring something related to the Clinton family while my wife made faces and rolled her eyes. But my peculiar TV fandom took us off-course in another direction…

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Our Hall of Heroes Comic Con 2017 Photo Gallery

MST3K Mads!

Say hi to the roadshow cast from Manos: The Jazz Hands of Fate.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last May my wife and I traveled three hours north to the town of Elkhart to visit the Hall of Heroes Museum, an impressive collection of toys, comics, merchandise, and movie memorabilia. We also walked along their Main Street downtown, enjoyed ourselves despite the unseasonably bitter temperatures, and expressed hopes of returning one day.

Today was that day. This weekend museum owner Allen Stewart oversaw the first annual Hall of Heroes Comic Con, a natural extension of his longtime hobbies and all our favorite comic cons where we’ve encountered his company’s booth on multiple occasions. Thanks to the event explosion we’ve been enjoying in or near Indianapolis over the past four years, we’ve had chances to attend more shows and meet more creators and actors than in all our previous forty Hoosier years combined. We can’t attend every show ever, but we’ll make the time and the drive if something or someone nails our interests.

For me, Stewart and his team did exactly that. Pictured above at left is Frank Conniff, a.k.a. TV’s Frank from Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of my all-time favorite TV series. At right is Trace Beaulieu, better known as TV’s Frank’s nefarious boss Dr. Clayton Forrester, and the original voice of Crow T. Robot. We previously met him at C2E2 2015, but this is a far better photo, and not just because it has TV’s Frank in it. Beyond meeting Joel Hodgson at Indy Pop Con 2014 and Mike, Kevin, Bill, and Mary Jo in St. Louis in 2000, the esteemed Mr. Conniff was the only major cast member I hadn’t met yet.

For that alone, for giving me the unexpected opportunity to complete the autograph set on my copy of The MST3K Amazing Colossal Episode Guide, I deem this a fantastic weekend, 12/10 hope to visit yet again someday.

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Road Trip Origins Year 2, Part 2 of 3: Trainwreck at the Trainwreck

Trainwreck!

American history! Frontier architecture! Bison tongue appetizer!

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.

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Road Trip Origins Year 2, Part 1 of 3: Internet Fandom Rendezvous 2000

Gateway program!

If you recognize the logo that this program cover is aping, then you may appreciate who we met that year…

Every year since 1999 Anne and I have taken a road trip to a different part of the United States and seen 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. My son rode along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. From 2004 to 2011 we recounted our experiences online at length for a close circle of friends. From 2012 to the present we’ve presented our annual travelogues here on this modest website for You, the Viewers at Home, which I’m grateful includes some of those same friends. Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, we told the story of our very first road trip together, an amateur expedition to Wizard World Chicago 1999.

Fast-forward one year later to July 14-16, 2000. While we remained best-of-the-best friends in separate apartments, we had begun pooling resources on select line items and seen our situations improve when she left McDonald’s after a ten-year stint and switched to an adjacent, much better-paying career track — call-center work for a major mail-order club. It was still customer service, but with 100% less grease and 0% chance of having to stand for hours at open drive-thru windows in zero-degree weather. Overall we were in slightly better standings one year after WWC when an idea for a second road trip walked right up, pinched my cheeks, and wouldn’t let go.

As with our inaugural outing, this would be another geek convention in a state beyond our own, with a guest list of well-known media personalities and hotel accommodations required. However, the proposal was far more ambitious in one groundbreaking respect: it would be our first time meeting people we knew only from the internet.

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Former Kickstarter Junkie VI: Reboot MST3K? You Do It, I’m Bitter

Bring Back MST3K!

If you’ve never seen an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I’m really sorry that you’ve been deprived of the pleasure. I missed the first several seasons of its basic-cable run, but the Rhino Home Video releases began in May 1996 at exactly the right moment in my life when, more than any other, I needed powerful reasons to laugh, to overlook emotional pain, and to appreciate sci-fi puppetry. Joel, Mike, Crow, Tom Servo, and the rest of their motley crew were like a shining, snarky beacon through so much real-world darkness. I snapped up every episode as it was released and filled up a few shelves. When I could afford basic cable again circa 1998, I caught up to speed with the Sci-Fi Channel reruns, and the rest is a great time in history for this latecomer MSTie.

Some of its funniest fans were among the first online citizens I met when I discovered the wild world of Internets. My wife and I met several of those odd-fellows in person and quite a few cast members over the past fifteen years — at a St. Louis convention on our 2000 road trip, at Indy Pop Con 2014, and at C2E2 2015. It’s been kind of a wild ride.

Today news broke out across my social circles that MST3K creator Joel Hodgson, with the assistance of the good Samaritans at Shout! Factory (the show’s home-video distributor for the last several years), has obtained the rights clearance to pursue a full-on revival with the same puppets but probably an all-new cast — a bit like the Sci-Fi years in a sense, so some of us are bound to fret and complain till we get used to Tom Servo’s new voice. Rather than rely on modern studio executives to come to their senses and right the wrongs committed by their soulless ancestors, Hodgson has launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign that will allow fans, newcomers, and hopefully kindhearted deep-pocketed investors to determine whether or not the world’s greatest Cowtown puppet show deserves another chance to live and riff.

As a fan, I hope it succeeds and I wish I could help. I also wish there were a way to do it without Kickstarter.

Right this way for more MST3K info! And for an update on this regretful ongoing MCC series!

C2E2 2015 Photos, Part 8 of 9: Stars of Comics and Screens

Hayley Atwell!

My wife and I enjoying ten seconds of proximity with Hayley Atwell, winning star of Marvel’s Agent Carter, Marvel’s Agent Carter: the Winter Soldier, and Marvel’s Agents of C.A.R.T.E.R.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I went to C2E2 and took photos! Other chapters in the series:

Part 1: Costume Contest Winners
Part 2: The Rest of the Costume Contest
Part 3: Edge of Deadpoolverse
Part 4: Mighty Marvel Costumes
Part 5: More Comics Costumes
Part 6: Mystery Science Costume Theater 3000
Part 7: Last Call for Costumes
Part 9: Random Acts of C2E2ing

Today’s feature: the writers, artists, and renowned actors we encountered on Friday and Saturday. The photo op with Hayley Atwell, a.k.a. Peggy Carter, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., was the weekend’s finale to a long line of nifty creative types in the house.

Right this way for comics creators, Marvel Cinematic Universe stars, a Hollywood director, and more!

C2E2 2015 Photos, Part 6 of 9: Mystery Science Costumes 3000

MST3K!

We fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 had great reasons to show up this weekend. More about that in later entries. For now, you should really just relax.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I went to C2E2 and took photos! Other chapters in the series:

Part 1: Costume Contest Winners
Part 2: The Rest of the Costume Contest
Part 3: Edge of Deadpoolverse
Part 4: Mighty Marvel Costumes
Part 5: More Comics Costumes
Part 7: Last Call for Costumes
Part 8: Stars of Comics and Screens
Part 9: Random Acts of C2E2ing

Today’s feature: costumes from sci-fi movies and TV! And a smidgen of fantasy for texture.

Right this way for Star Wars, Spaceballs, and more!

Indy PopCon 2014 Photos, Part 8 of 8: What We Did and Who We Met

The General Lee!

Hey, kids! It’s the world-famous General Lee from TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard! Everyone likes TV cars, right? TV cars are pop culture and therefore totally on-topic at Indy PopCon. Please enjoy this eye-popping, gas-guzzling, moonshine-runnin’, crooked-cop-defyin’, Southern-fried, toy-selling idol of millions and be sure to Like and Share the heck out of it on all the best social media so I can finally take one evening this week to go rest and relax without fear of the oncoming post-convention traffic plateau. Remember, the power of my recuperation is your hands.

At long last, the week-long marathon reaches the end of its journey here on MCC! Presenting one last round of photos from the first annual Indy PopCon at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Yes, we here at Midlife Crisis Crossover realize we’re still reliving this shindig long after the rest of the Midwest has gone back to their daily routine and stopped reminiscing about last weekend. And I can’t deny it’ll be nice to move on to other subjects and writing forms after this. We’re almost there, I promise.

Part Eight, then: the sights we saw (besides costumes) and the personalities we met.

Right this way for the last Indy PopCon 2014 hurrah!

My 2012 Staycation Movie Marathon Midweek Report

I’m blessed to have spent the past twelve years working for a company that firmly believes in allowing its employees too much vacation time. Each year I take one week off to spend with my family in the summer (cf. the ongoing “Road Trip” series) and one week in the fall to spend at home alone. While my son is in school and my wife is at work, during the daytime I have the house all to myself, as long as I don’t mind sharing the territory with our dog.

I’m also ridiculously blessed with a wife who doesn’t view my annual one-man one-week staycation as an opportunity to hit me with a dreaded “Honey-Do List” of five hundred different odd jobs that remain undone around the house. A friend at work complains that whenever he takes a staycation, his wife schedules enough activities for him that he spends all his so-called “time off” alternating between playing handyman and Mr. Mom. This is not a problem for me because my wife wants me to rest, in hopes that she’ll get to keep me around and alive for as many decades as possible. I wouldn’t call myself a workaholic, but I do have my frequent moments of appearing burnt out and frazzled. I’m told that relaxation makes a difference in my condition.

In most years, when I haven’t violated the premise and written myself a lengthy to-do list, my staycation usually takes the form of a week-long movie marathon. Like many American families, we suffer the first-world problem of buying more DVDs than we can possibly watch in a reasonable number of sittings. In an average week, when I’m burning the candle at both ends between my full-time day job (plus overtime) and my part-time non-paying night job (i.e., the blog), to say nothing of other activities and requirements of adult life, I’m lucky if I have time to sit still for three TV shows and a single movie. The high ratio of purchasing-to-watching means I have a never-ending stockpile of works on hand to ensure that I’ll never be bored inside my own home for the rest of my life.

The portion of the stockpile with the densest accumulation is comprised of things that no one in the house except me is interested in watching — movies and shows that have little chance of making the cut for Family Quality Time, a few of which I arguably shouldn’t be watching. Lately I’ve been actively curtailing my purchases in that subsection — partly for spiritual reasons, partly due to volume, and partly because watching things alone is a lot less enjoyable than viewing experiences that I can share with others around me. Anything in that subsection has to wait on the shelf and collect dust until I have extended time to myself and an inclination for solitude.

That’s where my annual one-man one-week staycation comes in handy. It’s one of my best opportunities to chip away at that particular viewing pile. Much of this week has been spent running errands around town, sleeping too much, and busying myself with the Internet and my part-time non-paying night job, which cruelly offers no paid vacation time. In between all of that, so far I’ve found time to watch six movies that I’d never seen before. I’m saving the DVD extras for another time, to fill small time slots between activities in future work weeks wherever possible.

Ranked below from best to worst, this week’s staycation feature presentations have been:

1. Broadcast News. Writer/director/producer James L. Brooks’ lamentation of the ever-growing superficiality of network TV news, and its increasingly money-minded fixation on entertainment value, is a tragic reminder of how little has improved since 1987. Amidst the anti-sheen commentary is a complicated love triangle between William Hurt’s shallow but skillful anchor-hunk, Albert Brooks’ sharp-minded but blindered nebbish, and Holly Hunter’s professional but bamboozled producer. I picked this up for the satire, but was surprised to discover that it cloaked a relationship film that I wished had been longer. Fortunately my copy is a Criterion Collection edition that includes additional scenes and an alternate ending among the extras, so eventually my wish for more will technically be granted.

2. The Town. The second film from writer/director Ben Affleck, making the most of the second phase of his career as he’s successfully moved beyond the grasp of super-stardom that placed him in several awful films in a row before he stepped back and took stock of his life. Affleck directs himself and an explosive Jeremy Renner as Charlestown bank robbers with a lifelong hometown-boy camaraderie, but slowly diverging opinions as to what they should be doing with their lives. Renner is perfectly happy to stay the course, but Affleck discovers new motivations to find a new direction for living. In that sense it’s practically a parable of Affleck’s own film career before segueing to directing. (If one reached too far, one could even insert an unfair observation about Renner standing in for Matt Damon in yet another context…)

3. Miller’s Crossing. The third big-screen collaboration between young Joel and Ethan Coen, this 1990 production about a 1920s gang war is mostly two hours of Albert Finney, Jon Polito, Marcia Gay Harden, and various other actors taking turns punching Gabriel Byrne in the face and stomach. In between the body blows, Byrne’s convoluted plan to establish long-term peace by escalating the war into a bloody free-for-all reminded me of Kid Loki’s recent efforts in Marvel’s Journey into Mystery series. The ambiguity of some characters’ actions was occasionally dissatisfying, but would evolve into a polished motif in later Coen Bros. films.

4. Last of the Wild Horses. This was actually a sixth-season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the celebrated TV show that mocked a different bad film in every episode. The original feature was a so-so Western about…something. I’m not even sure now. All I remember is a cranky wheelchair-bound father being shot to death on his front porch in poorly conceived indignity. Mike Nelson and the ‘Bots defend themselves against the movie’s mediocrity with verbal slings and arrows. As a parody of the Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror”, the host segments center around a transporter calamity that causes Mike Nelson and Tom Servo to swap places with their evil counterparts from another dimension. We know they’re evil because Evil Mike has a mustache and goatee, and Evil Servo wears a yellow sash. Meanwhile in the MST3K mirror universe, the good versions of Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank are forced to watch the first twenty minutes of the film, marking the only time those two entered the theater in the show’s history.

5. Sucker Punch. On the plus side, Zack Snyder’s girl-power action yarn is much less exploitative than I’d feared, even as reconfigured into a 127-minute Extended Edition. This alleviated some anticipated guilt, but didn’t make it a success. Emily Browning (Violet Baudelaire in A Series of Unfortunate Events) is a victimized teen consigned by her wicked stepfather to a mental asylum, which she reimagines to herself as a stylized brothel in which she’s trained to dance alongside fellow inmates Jamie Chung (Premium Rush), Disney’s Vanessa Hudgins, Abbie Cornish (the Robocop remake), and Jena Malone (Johanna in the upcoming Catching Fire). Rather than hire a choreographer to design a memorable Bunheads-style routine for Browning to master, Snyder instead has her delve one level deeper into her subconscious and symbolically represent each dance as a vapid, meaningless, expensive video game sequence. A rotating onslaught of giant artillery-wielding samurai, undead WWI German trench-dwellers, Lord of the Rings orcs, and sci-fi security robots each take turns destroying everything and meaning nothing. Some might find comfort in the movie’s message of The Power Is In You, but I was occasionally bored and ultimately bothered by the passing structural similarity to Pan’s Labyrinth, a more poetic and far superior film about a young girl escaping an oppressive environment through a secret entrance into a fantastical world.

6. Blow Out. Writer/director Brian DePalma’s 1981 take on the Hitchcockian wrong-place/wrong-time thriller sees post-Kotter John Travolta as a sound technician for grade-Z film productions caught in a conspiracy web when he records a fateful car accident with a high-profile victim and a telltale sound effect meant to go unheard. Robocop‘s Nancy Allen is surprising as a ditzy call girl with even worse timing that Travolta’s. Dennis Franz is suitable as a sleazy paparazzo who makes things even worse. John Lithgow cuts his teeth in what would be the first of many irredeemable psychos he would play throughout his career. I enjoyed the old-time scenes of Travolta editing and cutting recordings the old-fashioned way on reel-to-reel tapes, with all the constant rewinding and forwarding. Undercutting the suspense and making this difficult to recommend are the satirical pandering of the first five intentionally exploitative minutes, and the final thirty seconds of the film, in which an ostensibly tragic ending instead came off as out-of-character and revolting.

That’s what has passed for “relaxation” for me so far this week. I’ve exhausted my errands list, but I’ve no shortage of movies on deck. Assuming I don’t oversleep any more, I’ll see how the moods and options guide the rest of my staycation.

To Be Continued!

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