Twitter Minus Twitter

This Tweet.

What was he thinking about? I’ll never know.

Twitter isn’t for everyone, but the designers have created a number of tools that allow users to shape their experience, curate their input streams, intertwine narratives, choose overall reading tone, defend themselves against the forces of evil, hide from polite disagreements, and, in my case, remove irritants. The tools aren’t perfect, but I appreciate their usefulness when it comes to surgically removing unnecessary ugliness and repetitive stresses that damage my calm. For me, internet moderation is a form of self-care.

Sometimes the results amuse me more than I’d intended.

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Our Dark Summertime Binge: HBO’s “Chernobyl”

Chernobyl!

Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, and Jared Harris handling the truth.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: with weeks to go till vacation and no pressing obligations, my wife Anne and I have been bingeing a few different shows together, while I’ve done some additional grim watching on the side. Certainly not through careful planning on our part, each of the shows has had their own depressing and/or tragic aspects. Veronica Mars season 4 had its mad-bomber mystery and its upsetting finale. Season 2 of Hulu’s Light as a Feather made teen horror out of a slumber party game. The Netflix documelodrama The Last Czars reminded us Russian history is more fatalistic than many of our TV stories. Season One of Chopped revealed its secret origin as a parable of man’s inhumanity to man.

I had expected this special MCC miniseries to conclude with the Chopped entry. Then one unexpected August day our cable TV provider announced their next annual or semiannual “preview weekend”, that generous time of year when all subscribers are allowed to watch HBO free for a limited span to see what pop-culture touchstones they’re missing. We haven’t subscribed to any premium channels in ages. We live on, find other things to do, and satisfy ourselves with the money that our uncoolness saves us. But we will occasionally brake for free prestige TV when opportunities intersect our path and trip us up.

Apropos of too many things, we ran right back to the subject of Russian history. This time, though, it was ripped from the headlines within our own lifespans.

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Yes, There’s a Scene During the “Vice” End Credits

Vice!

Jason Alexander IS Charles Foster Kane!

Writer/director Adam McKay’s The Big Short remains one of my favorite Best Picture Oscar nominees from the past few years, and not just because I was thrilled to see our mortgage companies getting dragged on the silver screen. I was less enthusiastic when I saw the trailer for Vice because I’ve developed an anti-partisan revulsion to the sight of 21st-century politics anywhere outside Twitter, which, despite careful curation, is roughly 85% all about 21st-century politics on any given day, even on slow news days. Sooner or later every discussion finds a way to go there, even in the sharing of cute animal GIFs.

Cross-pollination into movies was inevitable in this climate, what with the creative arts being one of the more profitable forms of protest and dissemination. But it’s a Best Picture nominee, so I stuck to my tradition and here I am.

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Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!

I Voted!

Me as of 15 minutes ago.

(sung to the tune of the old “Meow Mix” commercial)

Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!
Vote vote vote vote!

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Primaries Count as Voting, Too

Electiontrooper!

Free stickers: a cornerstone of our democracy.

It was that time again! The first Tuesday in May was once again the pre-Election Day dry run when Americans in many districts have the chance to vote in primaries to decide which candidates will move forward in our aggravatingly binary political system. Primaries tend to lure a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the votes that actual Election Day does, but in some local races, our votes are no less important. Basically, 90% of the population cedes quite a few decisions to the 10% of us who feel compelled to show up and take advantage of their inertia. Advantage: us.

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Indiana State Fair 2017 Photos, Part 1: The Farmers’ Surprise Press Conference

Sonny Perdue!

“For the last time, I am NOT Ed Asner and I have no idea who should star in a Lou Grant reboot. Next question.”

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 that other people love, and farm animals competing for cash prizes and herd bragging rights. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. Usually we’re all about the food.

This year we ran into something we hadn’t expected: a very special appearance by a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. Not exactly a common fairground attraction.

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Mamaw’s Big Fat Fraudulent World Tour

firefly bear!

What’s wrong with this picture? The answer may shock you! Or possibly not!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in November my wife Anne and I made our annual excursion to the Indiana Christmas Gift & Hobby Show, a beloved special event for her grandmother as it’s one of the few times she gets to venture more than two miles from home. Last month we shared a selection of our photos with MCC readers from here in Indianapolis, along with a light summary of who we saw, what we did, and other truthful statements about the occasion. It’s just this thing we like to do.

As we pushed Mamaw’s wheelchair around the East Pavilion, perused the wares, and sped past every pesky DirecTV huckster, meanwhile on Facebook I had fun sharing real-time photos with our family and friends who enjoy seeing our little outings, some of whom know Mamaw well and love to see her enjoying herself. This time for a couple of reasons I threw in a value-added twist to our live-at-the-scene reports:

LIES.

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Trump: Trump trump Trump? (Trump…Trump?)

Trump Trump!

Trump trump trump Trump Trump trump trump, trump trump trump trump trump trump trump Trump trump trump.

Trump. Trump, trump.

Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump Trump Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump-trump trump trump trump. Trump Trump trump trump trump trump trump (trump) trump trump trump trump Trump trump trump Trump Trump trump Trump. Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump.

Trump trump trump trump…trump, Trump. Trump.

It Takes More Than Seven Minutes to Save America

I Voted! I Count!

Another year, another free sticker. Too bad I haven’t owned a Trapper Keeper for sticker displays since junior high.

Once again it’s Election Day here in America, the taut finale to one of the worst seasons our political showrunners have written for us to date. When I began typing this shortly after a new episode of Chopped Junior ended, Twitter was having itself a series of roiling meltdowns as everyone insisted on paying too much attention to the early returns even though some states won’t be finished tabulating or even voting for the next several hours. That’s setting aside any pending conflict resolutions or triple-overtime recounts for those neck-and-neck battleground states where the Big Two are finding their supposedly easy leads in the Presidential race thwarted by votes siphoned away by third-party candidates and repelled away by their own morally compromised candidates and constituents.

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Hoosier Homecoming Photos #1: Adventures in Local Government

Lieutenant Governor's Office!

This desktop quote in the Indiana Lieutenant Governor’s office encapsulates the novel ideal of humility in public office.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, waaaay back in January 2016:

2016 will mark Indiana’s statehood bicentennial, and we discussed the idea of trying to find more Indiana activities as our own little way of celebrating where we’ve lived all our lives. Friends of ours can already guess which two geek conventions are most likely to make that list in the months ahead without even trying, but we’re curious to see what else is going on this year ’round these parts…

On October 15th, downtown Indianapolis hosted a very special convention of sorts to mark the occasion. The “Hoosier Homecoming” was a celebration held at the Indiana State House in honor of Indiana’s 200th birthday, with a host of well-known local faces in attendance, an opportunity for self-guided tours of the State House, and the closing ceremonies to the Indiana Torch Relay, a 37-day event in which a specially lit torch — not unlike the Olympics’ own, but inspired by the torch on our state flag — traveled through all 92 Indiana counties by various transportation methods until its final stop in Marion County at the Homecoming.

We were grateful for the turnout. We were appreciative of the chance to see where our local government conducts its business and works at improving our lives. And we were surprised by the politicians who cared enough to join the festivities.

Right this way for a few of our elected officials and a very special MCC video!

Greetings and Regrets from the Indiana Primary Scene

Indiana Primary!

The pathway to my precinct’s voting HQ, marked along the way by glimmers of hope and dread.

Today I performed my civic duty as an Indiana voter and participated in our May 3rd primaries despite the options. My wife and I have differing political philosophies, but we were unanimous in our non-enthusiasm for any of the four remaining contenders going into our less-than-super Tuesday. Once upon a time, my wife could walk into any election headquarters, throw the straight-ticket lever, and be out the door before they could finish peeling her “I VOTED!” sticker off its backing paper. Not so much anymore.

Indiana’s voting laws are flexible enough that it doesn’t matter which party you normally identify with — for primaries you simply tell them which party’s ballot you want to use, then you’re off and running. No proof of allegiance, no mandatory party registration, no pop quiz, nothing. Despite that flexibility, Anne and I each deliberated much longer than usual in choosing between the Reality Star, the Clinton dynasty, the Televangelist, and Old Man Cloud-Yeller. And this is just the primaries. We have a lot of thinking to do between now and actual Election Day in November.

But of all the messages I’ve been sifting through on social media tonight in between The Flash live-tweets, one will stick with me longer than any other.

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The Fate of Indianapolis is Partly in My Hands

My Vote, My Voice!

“Take as many as you want,” said the nice clerk at the polls five minutes before closing time. I tried to keep it subtle.

Dunno about your locale, but here in Indiana today we had our annual opportunity to participate in the Election Day primaries that determine which political candidates will be allowed by their respective parties to run for office for real in November. It happens on the same Tuesday every year, so it’s not exactly a trade secret, but the voter turnout is always paltry. Voting for positions such as city-council seats or school board members or tax referendums isn’t as glamorous or intoxicating as voting for mayor, governor, President, or American Idol, but it’s a privilege someone has to exercise so the system will keep running according to The Way Things Are and we don’t have to appoint new leaders by choosing from random LinkedIn profiles.

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Indiana Senate Bill 101.5 to Replace Governor Mike Pence with Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat!

If you’ve been following Indiana’s tumult in national headlines, which I covered to a limited extent in last night’s entry and satirized obliquely last week, then you’re aware that the signing of Indiana’s remix of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has incentivized the American jester majority to demote every resident in the once-kind-of-okay state of Indiana to the status of infamous generalized punchline stereotype for the next six months. So that’s been pretty inhibitive to my mental state, especially when internet quote-unquote “friends” join in the pummeling. Because, y’know, it’s my personal fault that a Congressman became governor by carrying 49% of the vote in an election with something like 52% voter turnout, and I have no idea how many eligible Hoosiers aren’t registered to vote and would drive the per-capita percentage still downward. Doesn’t matter to the world, though: if one-fourth of us make a wish, so wish we all.

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Indianapolis v. Indiana

Indianapolis Welcomes You!

…even if the rest of the state doesn’t.

For those just joining us: on March 26, 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a variant of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act intended for application at the state level, but the entire affair was conducted under, um, unique circumstances that have resulted in 90% of my Twitter feed turning into serious headlines and snarky generalizations alike that collectively amount to “INDIANA R STUPID HUUUUUUUUR!”

Pence fumbled his first attempt at damage control Sunday morning on live national TV, and even earned himself the attention of The Onion, which is never a sign of victory for your side. He and/or his speechwriters penned a second try that’s online now and scheduled for publication in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Early prediction, based on the excerpts I’ve seen: it won’t help.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and the Indianapolis City-County Council aren’t sitting still for this. As numerous local and national corporations of impressive size and power express their outrage and economic threats, tonight the Republican Ballard and the mostly Democrat Council gathered before a standing-room-only crowd and voted to semi-cordially ask Pence and the Indiana General Assembly to, in so many words, KNOCK IT OFF. Several Republican members were on board with this.

In a Council of 28 members the resolution required more than fourteen votes to pass. Even before the vote, it had sixteen co-sponsors.

So we’re effectively looking at a schism between the state and capital city governments.

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Mr. and Mrs. Kay’s Very Bad Indiana Shopping Trip

Pence RFRA signing, 3/26/2015

The actual Indiana Governor’s Office photo from today’s behind-closed-doors ceremony for Governor Mike Pence’s signing of the RFRA. No Photoshop or verified cosplayers were involved in the making of this picture.

[The scene: Kip and Kasi Kay travel from their hometown of Lewiston, Indiana, to do some shopping at a quaint stretch of stores up in the Big City. It’s the weekend after Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law and dramatically improved the world and changed lives and ushered in a new era of human greatness and so on.]

KIP: Hello, beer man! We would like ten kegs of your finest brew.
KASI: We need it for tonight’s white-power rally.
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: What? Uh, no. You can go now.
KASI: But we have money and we brought our own truck.
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: Sorry, no. My church believes God created all humans as equals regardless of skin color. I can’t possibly.
KIP: We didn’t ask. Here, have money.
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: No can do. RFRA, folks.
KIP: What’s a roofra?
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: New law just took effect. Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Way I took it to mean, I don’t have to make any sale that offends me on religious grounds. Racists are one way.
KASI: You only sell to non-racists? Do you actually ask everyone? Is there a test they have to take before you’ll let customers go get drunk?
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: Who I sell to and when I sell it to ’em is my business. Good day, folks.
KIP: We’ll get you for this!
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: Wouldn’t advise it. I’m in the alcohol industry. I know some people you don’t wanna know.
[Kip and Kasi exit, confused and upset. Later that night, an angel leaves a quarter under Mike Pence’s pillow.]

Right this way for more of this very special MCC short play…

Top 10 Best Parts of Tonight’s State of the Union Address

SOTU 2015!

President Barack Obama delivered tonight’s State of the Union address with a cartoon angel and devil at either shoulder.

From the Home Office in Indianapolis, Indiana:

10. Biden blinking in Morse code “BIDEN/BEYONCE 2016”
9. One lone applauding Republican getting tased by the Senator next to him
8. A frustrated John Boehner wishing his bottled rage could turn him into Red Hulk
7. Ambassadors from Iran and Cuba giving each other cutesy quizzical Jim-and-Pam looks
6. Three-minute ovation every time Obama took a selfie
5. Special guest Sidney Poitier awarding nine honorary Oscars to Selma
4. Anointing of Anita Sarkeesian as head of newly formed Department of Gamer Tolerance
3. Preview footage from The Force Awakens in which Jedi Knight Obama and John Boyega fight Imperial ninjatroopers
2. Sheepish apology for preempting Marvel’s Agent Carter

And the number one Best Part of Tonight’s State of the Union Address:

1. Scene after the end credits: all-Democrat conga line while speakers blare “Everything is Awesome!!!”

Hollywood Concedes Free Speech Battle on World Stage

James Franco!

appleseed : apple tree :: The Interview : cyberwar

I had no plans to see The Interview because I lost my tolerance for most R-rated comedies years ago, and the last time I tried a Seth Rogen film, The Green Hornet turned me against it within its first fifteen minutes, and it wasn’t even R-rated. That was before the brouhaha of the past few weeks.

Today Sony Pictures announced it’s canceling the Rogen/Franco flick’s planned theatrical release after all the major chains refused to carry it in the wake of strongly worded orders from our new internet overlords overseas. Even before our normally unflappable cinemas exercised their right to back down, Sony had been suffering through the controversial widespread release of every byte of information ever stored on every computer they’ve ever bought. Movie plans, budgets, salaries, sensitive personal data, candid undiplomatic emails, and zillions of other choice insider tidbits were extracted from behind whatever Sony cutely referred to as a “security system” by the forces of [GLORIOUSLY REDACTED] and dumped on the virtual front lawns of every muckraking internet quote-unquote “journalist” with Wi-Fi access and a dumbstruck conscience. After a long couple of weeks, some anxious Sony elder probably felt the theater-owner dogpile was the last straw, that the lives and livelihoods of thousands of employees were ultimately unfair stakes to put up against a possible gigantic bluff without thousands of notarized authorization forms from said employees, and that The Interview wasn’t worth any more headaches.

Sony is a for-profit corporation, not a ragtag team of do-gooder movie underdogs sworn to uphold their idealistic Lawful Good alignment at all costs. Just the same, it would’ve been awesome and patriotic of them to act like it and release the movie anyway. If we accept George R. R. Martin’s outraged argument that behemoths like Sony could buy and sell tiny Asian countries at will if it suited their interests, and if we accept the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, there’s a school of thought that believes the movie, if released now after all of this, could probably rake in five or ten times its original box office projections and afford to hire elite counter-hackers and armed mercenaries to protect their interests and civilians, albeit probably in that order.

All I know is, all of a sudden I really want to see this crappy comedy on principle.

Follow the link for more thoughts and a few tweets…

Election Day 2014! Vote Tuesday! Win Prizes! Change or Ruin Lives!

See what the keen folks at WordPress put together? Feel free to use this tool to move your voting plans forward so you, too, can add your voice to the fray, maybe make a difference, and help topple incumbents left and right!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover 2012:

After being raised in a household free of overt political discussion, I never had any idea which political party was mine. A moment of clarity arrived in eleventh-grade Physics class when a fellow student named Jeff sought to offer me personal definition: he asked me my views on abortion. I gave him an answer. He told me which party was mine. To him, it was as simple as that. I decided then and there that the two-party monopoly left a lot to be desired. Thus was my head sent spinning into years of aimless political apathy, college-campus pluralism, irritatingly noncommittal neutrality, alternative-newspaper perusal, and Jello Biafra spoken-word albums. Truly it was a time of intellectual isolation for me, though the accompanying music could be cool at times.

Two decades later, I’m no more into taking arbitrary sides, generalizing entire parties based on the actions of a single faction, or collecting campaign buttons than I was in my misanthropic youth. However, at least now I can say I’m participating in the voting process anyway, because the small local elections are close enough to home that the votes really can make a difference, free of interference from unhelpful interlopers like the Electoral College. Also, just because I can.

Right this way for thoughts on my local races and the podium-gladiators who crave them!

President Obama’s Top 10 Secret Winning ISIL Strategies

President Barack Obama!

Our Commander-in-Chief gears up for conflict as part of Operation: Desert Suavé.

The past several years have not been America’s best in the realm of foreign policy. All that never-ending awkwardness, tension, and/or bitter feuding wasn’t exactly alleviated this week when President Barack Obama delivered a special address Wednesday night outlining our military’s proposed strategies for tackling the Eastern-Hemisphere forces of ISIL or ISIS or whatever this week’s code-acronym is for headline news’ newest bad guys.

Depending on where you stand with him and/or this escalating conflict, the speech was either too long, too short, too detailed, too vague, too overdue, or too Obama and you’re not listening no matter what LALALALALALALALA. Rest assured, our President and his speechwriters know better than to provide sensitive information to all listeners equally. We three hundred million onlookers will never know the full story behind all the extensive plans being concocted and implemented by our top officials, officers, politicians, diplomats, advisers, think-tankers, and other various hangers-on with useful knowledge or arsenals at the ready. Whatever they’re coming up with, the best we can do is hope it doesn’t blow up in our faces like an explosive cigar from a third-world novelty factory.

This realization, then, begs a question. Given that his speech was merely a superficial overview to assure Americans that they do indeed have concrete plans afoot, even if they can’t share blueprints or instruction booklets with us; assuming they aren’t just trying to save face and feign confidence in the face of roiling international controversy; knowing that the U.S. hasn’t exactly been scoring A-pluses in overseas negotiations over the past several years; I ask, then, because I can’t possibly be the only one who wants to know: What does Obama really have in mind here? How much is he not allowed to tell us, either to withhold info from enemy hands or to forestall embarrassment at the parts that might not work?

Right this way for tonight’s list!

One Good Thing to Come Out of the “Bridgegate” Scandal

Chris Christie, New JerseyFor those just catching up on the week in headline news: Republican politician Chris Christie, currently governor of New Jersey but intermittently mentioned in hushed tones among optimistic rank-‘n’-file as a possible party savior in the 2016 Presidential race, has been accused of directing his subordinates to pull transportation strings and create a four-day traffic snarl where the George Washington Bridge connects Manhattan to the New Jersey town of Fort Lee, allegedly because its mayor hadn’t fallen in lockstep with his party colleagues and publicly endorsed Christie’s future endeavors.

Or something like that. I’ve missed some finer details. Political stories don’t stick with me for long. (When I first began noticing heated debates in my circles about Benghazi, my only reaction was, “Is that Ian MacKaye’s new band?”) Bridgegate was unusual enough and filled with enough bipartisan hot-button issues — political extortion, abuse of power, petty vengeance — that I finally relented and read an article or two about it. At this point it’s now all about denials, apologies, firings, and now I’m seeing the word “subpoena” creeping onto the battlefield. I imagine this brouhaha is only in its infancy and in no danger of falling off the main page anytime soon.

I am grateful for one noticeable change that’s a direct result of Bridgegate: over the past two days, whenever internet users were overwhelmed with the urge to take potshots at Christie, the jokes were no longer about his weight.

The following has zero to do with politics…

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