NaBloPoMo Success Celebrated with New URL, Facebook Page, Self-High-Five

NaBloPoMo 2012 Badge

My NaBloPoMo 2012 Merit Badge

Congratulations to any and all bloggers of the universe who succeeded in their thirty-day posting spree for NaBloPoMo 2012. I’m two days late commemorating the completion of my own marathon because I wanted to use the final day to move one step closer to the end of our long, drawn-out vacation saga, which a lot of people abandoned as soon as Kansas returned to the forefront like a much-dreaded super-villain. As for yesterday, NaBloPoMo went likewise unmentioned because I was too partied out to celebrate anymore. I’m feeling much better now.

For the record, NaBloPoMo on Midlife Crisis Crossover remained on target and on schedule, with 31 posts in 30 days that broke down as follows:

vacation photos: 7
things about movies: 6
Things containing Thanksgiving or Black Friday: 4
Revolution recaps: 4
convention photos: 3
random photo collections: 1
Geek Demerits: 1
MCC Request Line: 1
family anecdote: 1
fiction: 1
political griping: 1
NaBloPoMo iambic pentameter: 1

When I began November, I somehow thought the results would be more random by the end. Too late to diversify now, I suppose.

About that bonus 31st post: I usually limit myself to one post per day, but two converging events demanded equal time within the same narrow time frame. I was glad to finish them both for the sake of the readers interested in each respective piece, but it was not the most pleasant experience of my November.

In addition to “Yay NaBloPoMo!”, we have two more MCC announcements:

1. I’ve taken the plunge and officially purchased the domain name, just to see what happens. and all contents should now redirect to The speed of DNS propagation to other ISPs as a result of the URL update may vary, so the site may act uncooperative for some readers for a short time. I’m told this should pass in a few days.

2. MCC now has its very own Facebook page! Readers who Like MCC on Facebook will enjoy numerous benefits, including but not limited to:

* Instant notice whenever new entries are published! (Twitter already does this for me, but my Facebook involvement trumps my Twitter use by a wide margin.)

* The ability to Like and/or comment on each MCC entry without using the Web-based WordPress Like button or comments section! (For those who prefer one set of tools over the other, now you have more options for validating or refuting me.)

* Access to exclusive MCC Facebook content! (Whatever form that may take. Stay tuned!)

* Another “Like” to throw on your Facebook “Like” pile! Who doesn’t need dozens more of those?

As always, thanks for reading and supporting. Questions and requests always welcome.

2012 Road Trip Photos #33: Underground Salt Museum, Part 3 of 3: Hollywood Under Glass

The curators of the Underground Salt Museum realize that visitors want their money’s worth for the experience. Staring at shelves filled with real film canisters and acid-free storage boxes isn’t the most stimulating visual aid to the average tourist. Either to drive home their mission statement or to dazzle and delight us, the tour ends with a collection of sample movie props that have been forwarded to Underground Vaults & Storage for permanent preservation. If American civilization ends and the next wave of settlers happens to be searching for clues as to the leisure-time predilections of their predecessors, the contents of this fortified entertainment bunker will tell them all they need to know about the movies and characters that meant the most to all of us, that transcended commerce and became High Art worth saving from oblivion.

They’ll also see the Mr. Freeze suit from Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin.

Mr. Freeze suit, Batman and Robin

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My Geek Demerits #5: No Alcohol

Bloody Mary, podium, convention

Convention photo: Bloody Mary at the podium.

[Being the fifth in an intermittent series covering assorted areas in which I feel resigned to live as a minority among geeks.]

Despite the fun my wife and I have had attending comic book and sci-fi conventions together, I’ve heard the best con-related stories happen after hours, whether at the scheduled night-owl events or at the nearest hotel bars after official programming is over. Casual encounters and chats in the convention hallways or between panels during daylight hours have their charm and keep the weekend lively, but the Internet keeps telling me that con parties are where the real geek gathering happens. Be there or be even squarer-than-square.

The last convention we attended made no secret that drinks are part and parcel of the community experience. The guests on stage and the more boisterous audience members traded comments back and forth about their plans that evening, about the drinks that left the most indelible impression on them, or about the previous night’s unforgettable rowdiness. In such settings, everyone’s an adult capable of making their own decisions and surrounded by like-minded folks out for a good time. The convention is an attractive draw in itself, but it’s also a great excuse for sharing hobbies and activities other than science fiction or comics. To a certain extent it beats the good old days, when everyone lived in isolation in separate states because they had no idea that anyone else on Earth was quite like them. There’s something to be said for engendering fellowship and the interconnectedness of “family”, so to speak.

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Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Rise of the Guardians” End Credits

For anyone who ever pined for a children’s version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Dreamworks has answered your odd prayer with Rise of the Guardians, an adaptation of an ongoing book series by Rolie Polie Olie creator and Academy Award-winning author/animator William Joyce, whose WikiPedia entry names a surprising number of other works in which he had a hand.

I don’t know how closely the movie hews to the books’ original premise, but the big-screen version is an all-star supergroup featuring the world’s most popular public-domain holiday icons — Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman (not, alas, the Neil Gaiman version), and impudent new recruit Jack Frost. Under the guiding light of the mysterious Man in the Moon, Our Heroes are tasked with preserving the precious beliefs of children worldwide who lend each icon their powers and make their respective holidays possible. The foe that unites them is the Boogeyman, who plots to dispel all that belief, render the Guardians moot, and divert the world’s thoughts unto himself so that he might rule with terror and nightmares. Presumably this radical shift in the status quo would leave the Gregorian calendar depressingly blank except for Halloween and Tax Day.

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2012 Road Trip Photos #32: Underground Salt Museum, Part 2 of 3: To Preserve Man

In addition to their service as a simple salt mine, the subterranean chambers of the Underground Salt Museum provide a stable temperature, humidity, and overall salt-heavy atmosphere ideal for slowing the biodegradation process and preventing everyday objects from crumbling into dust. To prove the point, one of their museum exhibits is a stand filled with vintage garbage, looking just as freshly disgusting as it did when Don Draper’s contemporaries first threw it all away decades ago.

trash preservation, Underground Salt Museum

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“Revolution” 11/26/2012 (spoilers): Mustache Dad vs. the Cape

NBC, Revolution, Matheson, Monroe“It’s been a long trip.”

Charlie summarizes the series to date with five simple words during the long-awaited family reunion that comprises this week’s fall-finale episode of Revolution, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” (title taken from another Led Zeppelin track, because last week’s tribute episode demanded an encore). After a 760-mile walk from Wrigley Field in Chicago to Independence Hall in Philadelphia for the sake of her brother Danny, she’s calm and resolute all throughout, even when everyone but Miles is naturally taken captive in the first ten minutes. Blame Miles for putting his trust in an ineffective friend named Kip (special guest Glynn Turman — ex-Mayor Royce from The Wire!) who’s useless against the brute competence of Major Neville’s henchmen. Everyone is spirited away so they can be bait in Neville’s obvious trap for Miles.

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Starbase Indy Photos, Part 3 of 3: Costumes! (and other objects in space)

Let’s face it: costumes are the real reason to attend a sci-fi convention. Celebrities are okay. Talented writers and artists are nice to meet if they’re not terrible people. Panels, Q&As, and fan club meetings are great opportunities for great minds to hang out together. There’s also something to be said for wandering the dealers’ room for new hobbyist purchases, whether new items you’ve never seen or vintage collectibles you could never afford. My wife and I even attended an interesting lecture on nineteenth-century forensics, which drew comparisons between the original Sherlock Holmes stories and later historical developments in the field.

When it comes to Internet recaps, though, costumes are the main attraction. They celebrate our favorite characters, they showcase the creativity and inspiration of dedicated fans, they enliven the dullest moments of any convention, and they help distract us from garish hotel carpeting.

Among the best of this year’s bunch: a pink samurai, hanging out for a moment here with one of Indianapolis’ own Naptown Roller Girls.

samurai, Starbase Indy 2012

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Starbase Indy 2012 Photos, Part 2 of 3: Ezri Dax, the Real Astronaut, and the Hippie Space Chick

Despite the focus of Part One on Klingons extraordinaire Robert O’Reilly and J. G. Hertzler, they weren’t the only unforgettable personalities appearing at this year’s Starbase Indy convention. For Trek fans who’d attended previous cons (and therefore already had the chance to meet each Klingon warrior), the headliner would be Nicole DeBoer, making her first Indianapolis appearance. She’s known to us as Ezri Dax, a season-seven regular from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who had big shoes to fill when Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax exited the series.

Nicole DeBoer, Ezri Dax, Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, Starbase Indy 2012

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Starbase Indy 2012 Photos, Part 1 of 3: The Day the Klingons Sang

As if Black Friday weren’t busy enough, my wife and I attended the seventeenth iteration of Starbase Indy on Friday and Saturday. This fan-run Star Trek convention is a longtime Thanksgiving weekend event that she and I have done several times (see previous entry). The convention cordially welcomes actors and fans from other shows and universes as well, but Trek still commands center stage.

Two of this year’s guests approached their Saturday Q&A with an unusual flourish. Fans of Star Trek: the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine will remember Robert O’Reilly as Chancellor Gowron, ruler of the Klingon Empire and frenemy of Worf. Don’t let his now-genial features fool you. Once upon a time, Gowron’s gaze was penetrating and frightening. Today his voice is no less stentorian.

Robert O'Reilly, Gowron, Star Trek

J. G. Hertzler was DS9’s General Martok, a longtime ally of Worf, key player in the Dominion War, and successor to Gowron upon his death at Worf’s hands. As with O’Reilly, Hertzler could still be heard at the back of an auditorium even when his microphone malfunctioned.

J. G. Hertzler, Martok, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

O’Reilly and Hertzler shared a Q&A on Saturday in style. With the remarkable assistance of makeup artist John Paladin, the dastardly duo spent a few hours donning familiar faces and uniforms that the fans haven’t seen in a very long time.

Gowron, Martok, Star Trek, Starbase Indy 2012

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My Quiet Black Friday Road Trip Without Stampedes or Duels

The following photo was taken outside an Indianapolis store on Black Friday around 9 a.m. At far left in the background is a strip mall; at far right, a Best Buy.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Castleton Square, Black Friday 2012

If your answer was, “There are empty parking spaces,” you win! Congrats on spotting the unoccupied tarmac in the upper-right corner. I owe you one imaginary cookie with your choice of pretend toppings.

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“Skyfall”: My New Favorite James Bond Film, Says Lifelong Bond Hater

Historically speaking, the average moviegoer loves James Bond films a lot more than I do. I have nothing against the spy genre itself, but the Bond concept never appealed to me. Based on the trailers, the TV commercials, the very few Bond films I caught, and the same five scenes constantly referenced throughout pop culture, my impression of the scripts for most Bond films went like so:

PANICKY POLITICIAN: Ladies and gentlemen, a deformed billionaire Dick Tracy reject has a preposterous plan to take over and destroy the world, and we’re not sure in which order. We need our best man to stop him.
BRITISH CIA HEAD: How about James Bond? He’s a millionaire who knows a lot about sex, bartending, and tuxedos.
PANICKY POLITICIAN: Brilliant. Send him a million-dollar car and a box of our latest, deadliest, billion-dollar single-use Sharper Image toys.
BOND JAMES BOND: There’ll be sex, right? I was promised sex.
FUNNY-FACE VILLAIN: I’m killing your sex partner and stealing your scenes! And also incidentally detonating things and ruining world peace because of issues.
BOND JAMES BOND: Not my sex partner! You fiend.
[Bond chases or runs from henchmen, using up his toys one by one. There are explosions.]
BACKUP SEX PARTNER: Job well done. Join me in my lair.
BOND JAMES BOND: Way ahead of you. Do you like expensive booze?

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Turkey Leg Rock (because every holiday needs carols)

Thanksgiving turkeyThis Thursday will mark my first time in almost two decades, and my wife’s first time in her life, that she and I will attempt to cook a turkey. We volunteered for turkey duty because one of our usual turkey chefs is under the weather this year and sorely needed a relief from her duties. We appreciate my wife’s grandmother’s years of service, but we think her turn to rest and watch while someone treats her for a change.

I thought to sing an ode to our forthcoming meal (pictured), but traditional Thanksgiving carols are few and far between. Once you get past “Over the River and Through the Woods”, the pickings are pretty sparse. No one’s written “Have Yourself a Merry Little Thanksgiving” or “White Thanksgiving” or “O Come, All Ye Hungry” or even “O Butterball”. I couldn’t even find a single hymn praising Squanto for giving the Pilgrims maize. Fie on those tuneless ingrates.

So I wrote my own ode. Feel free to serenade your own meal as well. And if you’re off the Internet between now and then, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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“Revolution” 11/19/2012 (spoilers): Charlie vs. Imagination Station

Reed Diamond, NBC, "Revolution"As this week’s new Revolution episode “Kashmir” opens, Our Heroes have commuted a full 280 miles from last week’s endpoint in Ford City, PA (or wherever the Allegheny rapids dumped them south of that), all the way east to West Chester, twenty miles west of destination Philly, and home of a Rebel Alliance faction led by special guest star Reed Diamond. The costar of TV’s Dollhouse and Homicide: Life on the Street was a welcome change of pace from the long line of guests I haven’t been recognizing. I presume this means the show’s mighty ratings have finally earned it a higher casting allowance.

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Notes for a “Cinderella” Reboot Nobody Needs

Walt Disney's CinderellaThis weekend I revisited Walt Disney’s twelfth animated classic Cinderella for the first time since the late 1990s. Of all the numerous Disney films our family has owned in multiple formats, this is one of several that rarely saw repeat viewings even when my son was a toddler who insisted on watching every animated movie over and over again until I hated it.

As with many older Disney films, parts of it have aged better than others. I’ll admit I had trouble staying conscious all the way through. Even if I’m alone in this struggle, the film is now over sixty years old and therefore in need of a gratuitous overhaul on shallow principle. In the spirit of today’s remake-happy medium that thrives on second-hand ideas, the following notes are my suggestions to downconvert this one-time children’s favorite for the modern, unsophisticated audience that Hollywood executives so dearly crave:

1. We need to believe that Cinderella’s dad would have good reasons to want to marry the wicked stepmother. As drawn and acted, she’s a horse-faced harpy. Was she, once upon a time, a gregarious looker? Were they married for so long that her looks and demeanor have simply deteriorated over time? Was the marriage that hard on her? What does that say about dearly departed Dad? Cinderella’s trauma at his loss means he wasn’t an unlovable tyrant, so the only other sensible option is that he was a spineless doormat forced into marriage by this conniving harridan. Clearly we need copious non-linear flashbacks to Dad and Stepmom’s deceptively happy wedding day before it all went wrong, when he turned into Walter Mitty and she became Miss Hannigan from Annie.

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2012 Road Trip Photos #31: Underground Salt Museum, Part 1 of 3: Into the Mines of Morton

We ended Day Seven with a hotel stay northwest of Wichita in Hutchinson, a city large enough to have its own dying shopping mall and not one, but two notable attractions. Thus did Day Eight commence in the heart of the Kansas heartland…at the Underground Salt Museum.

I realize the name carries an excitement level on par with a box factory or the state of Delaware, but the Salt Museum is no ordinary salt mine. Granted, yes, part of it is an ordinary salt mine, but we’d never seen one of those before, either. Could it possibly be fascinating to gander inside the workplace that provides us with one of the greatest-tasting minerals on Earth?

This rusty but imposing chainsaw-mobile says yes.

Chainsaw-Mobile, Underground Salt Museum, Hutchinson, Kansas

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A Photo Salute to Green, Before it Retreats into Hibernation for the Winter

This week’s edition of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is the first such challenge I’ve ever attempted. It’s not a fierce competition with a major award at stake, but I feel sheepish daring to share a theme with so many top-notch professionals who do this for a living and/or have had extensive formal training. In the spirit of fun, though, I’m giving the Challenge a whirl anyway.

Behold my octet of entrants from my own collection, submitted in the categorical competition of general greenery:

1. Sugar Creek runs through Turkey Run State Park near Rockville, Indiana.

Turkey Run State Park, Rockville, Indiana

2. The Jolly Green Giant, standing tall and proud in Blue Earth, Minnesota.

Jolly Green Giant, Blue Earth, Minnesota

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Once Upon a Time When Black Friday Was My Thing

winter crowd, downtown IndianapolisNo one would deny that Black Friday, on a base level, has always been about crass consumerism. Even in more mild-mannered times when the day after Thanksgiving was simply the starter pistol that signaled the first day for many people to initiate Christmas season protocols, phase one was almost always, “Commence gift-shopping.” Within that oft-derided framework, though, for the past several years I managed to develop myself a fun routine in which I found fun and purpose in my own little ways.

My ritual would begin each Thanksgiving evening, after all relatives were finished with my presence for the day. For just this one special day out of the year, I would spend several hours reading a newspaper. My wife and I would open up the day’s issue of the Indianapolis Star, toss the articles to one side for later skimming, and have several hundred pages of ads lying before us. I would assess our technological and living situation; brainstorm a list of things that could use replacing, upgrading, or first-time owning; then study all the ads laboriously like Rupert Giles researching an obscure monster. I created a notebook index of my most viable store options — potential deals for the items on our want list, both the most impressive sales and the next-best alternatives in case I was beaten to the punch by too many other, wilier shoppers. I would assemble a strict chronological itinerary visit in descending order of store opening times. In my own special way, I prepared for war.

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2012 Road Trip Photos #30: Boot Hill Museum, Part 2 of 2: Dedicated Hobbyists of the Old West

Previously on MCC: The most notable event of Day Seven of our road trip was a quick tour through the Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City. The main attraction is a preserved portion of the original Boot Hill Cemetery, still populated by the original customers, still marked by low-budget tombstones of the Old West.

However, the Boot Hill Museum is more than those preserved historical plots. Beyond that and the spacious gift shop, visitors can also walk along a simulated Dodge City strip mall of the Old West. Some of these shops are inaccessible, but several invite visitors and contain display cases filled with souvenirs and paraphernalia of the Old West. The saloon even has occasional rounds of singing, and waitresses who invite you in for a glass of sarsaparilla, which I was afraid to sample. There’s also a working ice cream shoppe, but the tourism-level prices inspired us to bide our time and fetch snacks later at a Dairy Queen down the street instead.

Boot Hill Museum stores, Dodge City, Kansas

Not all the contents are vintage 19th-century items. One room is dedicated to TV shows of the Old West in general and Gunsmoke in particular. Their short-sighted gift shop missed a profit opportunity by not offering copies of these objets d’art for sale. What child wouldn’t want to pop Gunsmoke’s Festus…Sings and Talks About Dodge City and Stuff! into their parent’s CD player and listen to it twelve times a day?

Gunsmoke, Boot Hill Museum, Dodge City, Kansas

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The “Wreck-It Ralph” Easter Eggs You’ll Never See

Disney, Wreck-It Ralph, Fix-It Felix Jr.In this day and age where moviegoers can wait until the home-video release before watching a movie multiple times, how often are we willing to devote extra time and money to encore presentations of a theatrical release? The case agreeing to my second showing of Wreck-It Ralph tonight consisted of two winning bullet points:

1. My son and I really, really liked it the first time we saw it. This is the first year for new Pixar and Disney Animated releases in which we liked the Disney film better.

2. We had free passes.

I had hoped to catch more details and Easter eggs this time around. Regretfully, I am old and the film’s background characters are spry. We managed to see a few items we missed the first time around: the other three Pac-Man ghosts; a mounted ostrich from Joust; the resemblance of the TurboTime cabinet design to that of Rally-X; and graffiti on a wall reading “Aerith Lives”. That list is too short. I’d also hoped to catch additional Easter eggs and overlooked scenes more to my liking, including but not limited to:

* A sign in Tapper’s bar reading, “Now Hiring Waitresses”.

* An autographed photo of Fix-It Felix Sr. bearing a strong resemblance to Alec Baldwin.

* The monsters from Rampage standing on a street corner outside the Niceland apartments, just staring and drooling.

* A traffic jam outside the terminal whose gridlocked commuters include the Moon Patrol rover, the OutRun Ferrari, an Armor Attack polygonal tank, an ExciteBike, and Nathan Drake in a Jeep. All sport the same license plate: “RIP G4”.

* A Grand Theft Auto thug being arrested by Mappy.

* A terminal convenience shop run by a Moogle and selling movies on DVD with titles such as Citizen Liu Kang, Disney’s Knights of the Old Republic, Wolfenstein 3D in 3D, and Galaga vs. Gyruss.

* A sidekick barbershop quartet with Clank, Daxter, Sparx, and Luigi.

* Pac-Man throwing a fit at Felix’s party because all the snacks are fruits, and for decades he’s been dying to have just one lousy steak.

* An inter-game prison populated with Leisure-Suit Larry, PaRappa the Rapper, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

* A political-activist poster advocating a unilateral ban on all Minesweeper mines.

* Alternate end credits with the big-head Journey avatars singing the same thirty-second snippet of “Separate Ways” over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

…but I guess that’s what cutting room floors are for. Those, and the dreams of over-the-hill gamers who can imagine a film with three times the budget and none of the legal hassles.

“Revolution” 11/12/2012 (spoilers): Charlie vs. the Annoying Little Sister

David Meunier, Sgt. Strausser, NBC, "Revolution"In this week’s new Revolution episode, “Ties That Bind”, it’s finally Nora’s turn in the flashback spotlight. Intense situations evince memories of her post-blackout childhood in Texas. Her mother was murdered by home invaders in San Antonio; her father was last known to be in Galveston; and her younger sister Mia was close by her side. Throughout the ensuing years of chaos after the blackout, the two orphans would learn to rely on each other and no one else, not unlike last week’s gaggle of gun-toting independent orphans.

(Incidentally, said orphans are nowhere in sight this week. Presumably Our Heroes inspected the abandoned half-building where they were dwelling, deemed it safe enough for them to raise each other, and bade them a hearty farewell with no fear whatsoever that the Monroe Militia would come mow the rascals down.)

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