The Least August of All Augusts

Wizard World Chicago 2020!

The formerly real Wizard World Chicago 2020 guest list, still happening this weekend in a much brighter timeline.

August has never been my favorite month under ordinary circumstances. Comics creator Evan Dorkin recently and accurately captured the essence in describing every August as “31 hot Sundays in a row”. Perfect description.

August has no major holidays and no whimsical minor holidays apart from fake internet ones. (I once created my own party-a-day August calendar, but no one supported this ambitious and deeply time-wasting endeavor.) Nearly all our local schools reopen, which means more traffic clogging up my daily commute. Temperatures soar to unpleasant levels. TV networks continue airing dross until the fall season’s starter pistol is fired. Movie studios run out of highly excitedly anticipated blockbusters and fill out their slates with second-tier products that should’ve gone straight to home video. Augusts would be a total waste of calendar space if not for the events humankind created to pass the time until September at least does us the kindness of bringing our next federally sanctioned three-day weekend.

Leave it to 2020, which is less like a year and more like a nonstop acid-rain thunderstorm over a minefield cursed by a cackling witches’ coven, to lay waste to any and all potential August plans and make the worst month even worst-er.

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Words of Advice from a Two-Time College Dropout

Graduation Cupcakes!

High school graduation parties can be cool, but what if life seems all downhill from there?

Like anyone with a working Internet connection, from time to time I find myself completing online surveys about various companies or products, whether for fun, for freebies, or in hopes that the survey will include an essay question that you can use as a soapbox to unleash a thousand-word tirade about the last time their services ticked you off and ruined your day. “That’ll show ’em!” you think to yourself as your carefully crafted vitriol is forwarded to the survey company and assimilated into the results database containing hundreds of thousands of other surveys, someday to be skimmed by a distracted HR rep who might raise an eyebrow at your poison-pen screed, if you’re lucky.

Every such survey has the obligatory section whose questions are designed for demographic pigeonholing of your results. I don’t mind revealing my ever-advancing age, blissful marital status, or conspicuously dull bloodline. My least favorite question is always, “What is the highest level of education you have completed?” It sounds simple and uncomplicated, especially if you earned a degree. Sometimes I wonder if those who attended graduate school and/or who hold multiple degrees receive a little bonus from the survey company in return, to thank them for bolstering the results with certified demographic classiness.

Mine is the humble ignominy that requires me to check “Some college”. It’s always a multiple-choice question, never a write-in field, so you can’t fall back on the standard glib answers such as “school of hard knocks” or “school of life”, joke answers such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” or “Hogwarts”, or even obscure answers such as “School of Fish”, in hopes that someone in the survey company will agree how cool a song “3 Strange Days” was. Every time I spot the bland, undecorated phrase “Some college” on a survey, I wince for a second and have to shake off the reminder of a young adulthood that wandered astray.

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My Diet Year: Our 2005 Road Trip Prelude

Me Before and After.

July 2004 at Lake Ontario vs. July 2005 at an Oklahoma overlook.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in recent weeks we’ve been sharing the stories of our annual road trips that we undertook before I launched MCC in April 2012. Starting from the beginning and working our way forward, so far we’ve covered 1999 to 2004. Before we make the leap to 2005, a digression is in order regarding some personal development that affected, among other things, some of my vacation photos.

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Farewell, Milano Inn. We Just Barely Knew Ye.

Milano Inn!

At the time we were excited to be there and had no idea the stop sign was deep, clever foreshadowing.

When it’s time to pay respects and say goodbye to a cherished person, place, or thing, sometimes it’s good not to wait till the last minute. Better still, keeping in touch and enjoying their presence while things are going well means you don’t have to feel quite so lousy if they depart without you orchestrating a proper sendoff.

Today my wife and I had fun plans in downtown Indianapolis in the morning, a nephew’s birthday party out in Brownsburg in the afternoon, and a gap between them that might fit a nice lunch. Our schedule filled itself out when we learned this week that the Milano Inn, a renowned Italian restaurant serving the Circle City since 1934, would be closing its doors for good at the end of 2016, a year that just won’t stop racking up casualties. A husband-and-wife date before their farewell seemed in order.

Key word: “seemed”.

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Missing Blog Post Vexes, Frustrates, Makes Eventual “Complete Works” Anthology Impossible

I’m fanatical when it comes to keeping my littler possessions organized so I lose as few things as possible. I’m well aware my memory and concentration skills aren’t improving with age, despite how much I wish the opposite were true. If everything I own is filed and placed according to a system, then — theoretically — when those memory lapses happen, my system should direct me to where the lost object should be, if I’m on top of my filing.

I have one assigned pile for bills; one stack of Post-It notes scribbled with either to-do-lists or writing ideas that occurred to me at work; one area under the monitor for filled pocket notebooks; one assigned organizer slot for the pens I prefer to carry with me; a separate dumping drawer for pens that don’t fit the criteria; and one assigned organizer slot for my wallet, keys, and absolutely nothing else (any items carelessly dumped in this slot are immediately removed and strewn on the counter). My computer directories are set up in similar fashion, even if they make sense to no one else except me. When I want to locate something, the card catalog that I’ve turned our house into can simplify the process and lighten the mental burden.

When I lose things anyway, I try to remain calm. Misfiling can occur, regardless of safeguards. Tantrums will not summon lost items from their hiding places or their kidnapper hideouts, whichever the case may be. Most lost objects turn up sooner or later. Sooner would be better, but isn’t always possible. To a certain extent, computers are usually easier to manage than physical reality because they’re equipped with search functions that can reveal files that have been misplaced or saved in the wrong folder. I’ve spent the past few days looking around the room for a Search field in which I can type “Lowes receipt from last week” in hopes of locating a little slip of paper that I know is here somewhere, which I need to return some unnecessary, overpriced grass seed. No such luck — whatever construction company cobbled together this non-futuristic hovel of ours totally failed to install a search engine for the occasion. A wider, more thorough manual search may be necessary, but may be fruitless and really boring to conduct, so I’m continuing to procrastinate the manhunt for now.

Unfortunately some losses are beyond our control and must be accepted, whether memory is at fault or not. I’m trying very hard to focus on that right now because I was reviewing my past blog entries the other day, all the way back to Day One when it was just me and my muse hanging out together, and discovered that one of my early posts has vanished. I only recall deleting a post once (#46, according to my stats page), but I immediately reposted it a few minutes later once the issue that was aggravating me had been resolved. This, on the other hand, was not an intentional deletion on my part. This was either random computer error or an evil act of sabotage. I’m guessing the former, but I have no evidence to disprove the latter, except for the complete lack of tampering with anything else (which is circumstantial at best, and still leaves the door open for far-fetched conspiracy theories).

Through the miracle of Google Cache, I was able to retrieve a fraction of the purloined post:

Avengermania Fuels Nostalgia for Early Whedon Works Like “Cabin in the Woods”
Posted on May 6, 2012

After waiting an eternity’s worth of hours after opening day, I finally saw Marvel’s Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. At last I can rejoin the Internet, already in progress. By and large, I was a happy camper through most of the

That’s all that remains of the body of the victim. I have no idea when or how its silent elimination occurred.

Through additional searches I can tell the original tags included “movies”, “The Avengers”, “Avengermania”, “Joss Whedon”, “ancient gods”, and “Primeval Part 2”. From memory I can testify that it was a spoiler-filled, mixed-feelings piece about my issues with Cabin in the Woods, including a special appearance by Bat-Hulk to serve as a spoiler buffer. Thus does the forensic trail abruptly end.

I’m 75% certain it wasn’t the greatest post I’ve ever written. It was born in the very, very early days of MCC, when my daily traffic was still in the single digits, therefore likely to have drawn no ire or aroused any attention from other humans. Nevertheless, its absence is driving me batty. A few jokes I barely remember have all gone to waste, and I may never know why. Random computer error seems a more likely culprit than malice aforethought, but it’s no more comforting, and doesn’t even afford me the option to plot revenge against something or someone (or at least daydream about said plotting). Then again, I’m not sure the annoyance of such a trivial loss would fade any faster if I had a confirmed target to blame, so perhaps it’s just as well.

I’ll let it go in another day or so, but for now it remains a disappointment. If I never find that Lowes receipt, at least that unwanted grass seed can be returned for store credit. If I never find the rest of that lost Cabin review, my only recourse for recovery would be to watch the movie a second time and recreate it from scratch.

I’ve managed to retain the happy memory of Fran Kranz in action, but I’d rather let the rest go, including my own lost efforts.

How Not to Drop Out of College Twice

Like anyone with a working Internet connection, from time to time I find myself completing online surveys about various companies or products, whether for fun, for freebies, or in hopes that the survey will include an essay question that you can use as a soapbox to unleash a thousand-word tirade about the last time their services ticked you off and ruined your day. “That’ll show ’em!” you think to yourself as your carefully crafted vitriol is forwarded to the survey company and assimilated into the results database containing hundreds of thousands of other surveys, someday to be skimmed by a distracted HR rep who might raise an eyebrow at your poison-pen screed, if you’re lucky.

Every such survey has the obligatory section whose questions are designed for demographic pigeonholing of your results. I don’t mind revealing my ever-advancing age, blissful marital status, or complete lack of Hispanic bloodline. My least favorite question is always, “What is the highest level of education you have completed?” It sounds simple and uncomplicated, especially if you earned a degree. Sometimes I wonder if those who attended graduate school and/or who hold multiple degrees receive a little bonus from the survey company in return, to thank them for bolstering the results with certified demographic classiness.

Mine is the humble ignominy that requires me to check “Some college”. It’s always a multiple-choice question, never a write-in field, so you can’t fall back on the standard glib answers such as “school of hard knocks” or “school of life”, joke answers such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” or “Hogwarts”, or even obscure answers such as “School of Fish”, in hopes that someone in the survey company will agree how cool a song “3 Strange Days” was. Every time I spot the bland, undecorated phrase “Some college” on a survey, I wince for a second and have to shake off the reminder of a young adulthood that wandered astray.

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