Sunday morning I was saddened and shocked to learn of the unexpected passing of Caroll Spinney, that dear absolute giant from the original cast of TV’s Sesame Street who brought to life two of that avenue’s great yet opposite creations: the childlike Big Bird, patron saint of friendly innocents; and the ornery Oscar the Grouch, a benign symbol of our selfish dark sides. He threw himself into both roles with gusto and aplomb for decades, and left his imprint on millions of kiddos.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited 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 tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.
DAY THREE: Tuesday, August 27th.
When we first began vacation brainstorming months ago, the Center for Puppetry Arts was among the top choices on my half of our list for a number of reasons. It’s a modest museum packed with puppets from around the world and across centuries, many of which you’d recognize from beloved movies and TV shows of your youth and mine. Of all the creators and craftsmen celebrated within their halls, none is represented in greater depth than the one and only Jim Henson.
If you were a fan of Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, or such films as The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth, chances are I don’t have to explain who Jim Henson was or his impact on the advancement of puppetry as a storytelling and entertainment medium. To the rest of you, there’s your explanation. Henson’s significance is so integral to the museum and to puppetry itself that he had the honor of cutting the ribbon when the Center opened in 1978.
As it worked out, our last out-of-state foray for 2017 took us to the longest-named event of our year. Since 2012 Fanboy Expo has been a staple of the scene in Knoxville, Tennessee. After a presumably successful show in June, this year they branched out to a second show in October, the Fanboy Expo Totally Awesome Weekend. We’ve never been to a basic Fanboy Expo, but we gathered the Totally Awesome Weekend spinoff was built to focus more on the actor guests than on the “comic” in “comic con”. I deduced this not from any public statements on their part, but on the fact that the guest list on their official website listed five (5) comics/animation artists and six tattoo artists. This is abnormal compared to the events held in our usual bailiwicks.
That disparity doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. My wife Anne and I are more satisfied when a show finds a fair balance comics and entertainment guests. This time, however, we saw FBTAW as a companion piece of sort, the flip side of the previous weekend’s Cartoon Crossroads Columbus. There, I’d had the opportunity to overdose on comics; this weekend it was Anne’s turn for a whirlwind reunion tour with familiar faces from the classic TV of her childhood. It was only fair, especially since her birthday’s this coming week.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
The next five entries (to be posted over Memorial Day Weekend as quickly as time and endurance permit) represent a fraction of the pics my wife and I snapped. In many cases, encores and additional takes of specific subjects may be available if anyone out there is interested in seeing more, or is looking for a loved one who was in one of the many marching bands that day. For first-time MCC visitors, please note my wife and I are relative amateurs, obviously not trained professional photographers, sharing these from a hobbyist standpoint because of fun Internet joyfulness.
The grand finale: giant inflatables and dioramas! First in line is my personal favorite of the bunch — Super Grover!