Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: I do the democracy thing twice a year (yes, even primaries) because I believe I ought to and because they keep letting me. I don’t recall why I didn’t post about it last year. Maybe society was to blame? Or maybe the reason was so dumb that I was counting on my aging brain to forget the reason why, just so I couldn’t blame myself for not writing about it I can’t recall, so maybe Past-Me’s plan worked. Politicians prefer long-term memory loss in their constituents anyway, so really this is just my brain getting into the spirit of the occasion.
“If two million people do a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”
I dived into all the old collections of Berke Breathed’s Bloom County comic strip as a teen. Some of its jokes have aged well. Some, not so much. Some political references would fly miles over my head uncaught. Not until decades later did I learn who Jeane Kirkpatrick was or what Bill the Cat might’ve seen in her.
30+ years later, I’ve never forgotten that simple quote from P. Opus, the world’s largest-nosed penguin. Even before 2020, I thought about it a lot. The voices in my head have found no reason to retire it yet.
It’s that time again! Election Day is nigh, which might need to be mentioned to anyone outside America who was wondering why everything American and online intensified above and beyond our average 2020 levels of hysteria over the past few days. Whatever happens Tuesday and over the next several days as election staffers count ballots cast across a multitude of platforms and processes, America guarantees we won’t be dull to watch. Outsiders looking in may find themselves worn down by our emphatic, repetitive displays of all our worst concerns, fears, prejudices. and fiercest histrionics. If you stay tuned, we’ll have some cool toy commercials coming right up, we swear.
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.
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.
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.
(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!
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.
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.
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: