“Uncut Gems”: Baubles, Balls, Bets, Beats and Beatings

Uncut Gems!

“Howard Ratner sent away to Africa / For a gem to pay for Hanukkah…!”

Prior to checking out the gritty new drama Uncut Gems, my total Adam Sandler film experiences ranked best to worst like so:

1. The Wedding Singer

End of list.

Now Uncut Gems makes two. I tossed The Meyerowitz Stories into my Netflix queue after the same director’s Marriage Story lanced my heart. Someday that’ll make three.

I admit Sandler was okay on Saturday Night Live (“The Hanukkah Song” was a keeper and Opera Man had his moments), but his post-SNL comedy brand has never been my thing. The Wedding Singer benefited at the time from above-average reviews for a Sandler film and a brief run at a second-run theater that used to be a couple miles down the road from us. It was nice to save a buck whenever we could.

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 5: It Was the Summer of ’96

Olympic rings!

Erected in December 2018, “The Spectacular” is 5000 pounds of aluminum standing 11 feet tall and begging visitors for some selfie love.

Remember that time Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics? They certainly do. They’re one of only three American cities ever to hose the Summer Olympics (an exclusive club they share with Los Angeles and St. Louis), and they will never, ever let anyone forget it.

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Our 2017 Road Trip, Part 23: Camden Yards on $0.00 a Day

Babe's Dream!

“Babe’s Dream” commemorates baseball legend Babe Ruth, who was born in Baltimore and who’s among the very, very few players I read about during my short-lived baseball phase back in third grade.

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. For 2017 our ultimate destination of choice was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. You might remember it from such TV shows as Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, not exactly the most enticing showcases to lure in prospective tourists. Though folks who know me best know I’m one of those guys who won’t shut up about The Wire, a Baltimore walkabout was Anne’s idea. Setting aside my fandom, as a major history buff she was first to remind skeptics who made worried faces at us for this plan that Maryland was one of the original thirteen American colonies and, urban decay notwithstanding, remains packed with notable history and architecture from ye olde Founding Father times. In the course of our research we were surprised to discover Baltimore also has an entire designated tourist-trap section covered with things to do. And if we just so happened to run across former filming locations without getting shot, happy bonus…

Longtime MC readers know my wife and I aren’t sports fans. We’ll attend games, matches, or races if an employer holds an event at one of our local venues, such as that time we saw a Pacers game from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse cheap seats, or that time we took in a July 4th Indians game at Victory Field, or that time I spent an afternoon at Indy 500 practice. But when it comes to our independent leisure time or our vacations, sports arenas — even the famous ones — almost never factor into our planning. If they’re a convenient neighbor or backdrop to the attraction we actually came to visit, we’ll include them if they catch our eye.

Since 1992 Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been the home of the Baltimore Orioles. Their 2017 season recently ended in depressing fashion, but their stomping grounds seemed nice. The Orioles were out of town while we were in Baltimore, but Anne and I had two other reasons for dropping in. The park was next door to the next tourist attraction I wanted to see. More importantly, Anne’s sources told her there was a smashed-penny machine on the premises. Smashed pennies are kind of her thing.

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MCC Live-Tweeting: July 4th Sportsball

Fireworks!

Longtime MCC readers know I’m not the world’s biggest sports fan. I probably wouldn’t rank among the top 2 billion sports fans alive. I know more about baseball than any other sport by a slim margin because in third grade I read a book about baseball that contained a thorough glossary. I learned; I tried to stick with it; I fell away quickly. The passion never developed, but the vocabulary remained.

From time to time I’ll find opportunities to attend ballgames anyway. Our hometown minor league team, the Indianapolis Indians, provide occasional diversions, free tickets, and/or reasons to get out of the house. For tonight’s feature presentation, the primary objective was to get my mom some fresh air and holiday spirit. She hasn’t been out of the house much since her retirement at the end of May, but she does love some good old-fashioned fireworks displays. Anne and I could take or leave ’em. Nevertheless, we figured the outing would do her some good.

Occasionally, though, I got bored. Or in a mood. Some light phone usage may have occurred.

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Indy 500 Festival Parade 2016 Photos #2: This Year’s Guests

Kevin Sorbo!

TV’s Hercules bids you welcome and asks that you keep your applause to a thundering roar.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This year marked the sixth time my wife and I attended the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis. It’s an annual date-day tradition for us —- partly to see the floats and high school marching bands, partly for the famous names and partly because I love the sight of a bustling downtown Indianapolis. The next six entries (to be posted over the next few days as quickly as time and attention span 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, absolutely not trained professional photographers, sharing these from a hobbyist standpoint because fun and joy.

In this entry: the actors, musicians, local politicians, and other notable personalities invited to join this year’s procession. We’re finding that we recognize fewer faces with each passing year, but maybe they’ll mean a lot more to you than to us. So enjoy for us!

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Indy 500 Festival Parade 2016 Photos #1: The 33 Drivers in Your Starting Lineup

13 Scott Dixon!

Inside Row 5, car #9, 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon. (“Quick, while Mommy and Daddy are busy, see if you can find any twenties!”)

This year marked the sixth time my wife and I attended the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis. It’s an annual date-day tradition for us —- partly to see the floats and high school marching bands, partly for the famous names (even if the rest of the audience loves them more than we do), and partly because I love the sight of a bustling downtown Indianapolis (which needs to happen every single weekend ever).

The next six entries (to be posted over the next few days as quickly as time and health 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, absolutely not trained professional photographers, sharing these from a hobbyist standpoint because fun and joy.

First up: your qualifying drivers in the milestone 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, to be held Sunday, May 29, 2016 — i.e., the next day after I’m writing this. This may be the first time we’ve ever captured all thirty-three drivers in a given Indy 500 to at least some degree, as there’s usually a driver or two that totally dodge our cameras and we don’t get so much as a stray hand or a blurry Sasquatch image. A few drivers regrettably suffer here from interfering limbs, long distances, or other barriers, but the overall results for this year’s gallery were more encouraging than ever.

Other than Scott Dixon pictured above (our favorite pic of the bunch), the following drivers are presented in actual Indy 500 starting order from Row 11 to Row 1, barring any last-minute lineup adjustments in the morning. As always, photos are clickable for enlargement and resolution where desirable, or you can print out a copy of this entry and use it as your handy reference guide while you’re watching, listening to, or dreaming about the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Enjoy!

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Inside the Colts Training Facility

Vince Lombardi Trophy!

The Colts’ most prized possession is the Vince Lombardi Trophy they earned for winning Super Bowl XLI. They trusted us not to try running off with it.

As a reward for an above-average year, today my company sent numerous employees on a field trip to the Indianapolis Colts Training Facility on the northwest side of Indianapolis, where they spend hours upon hours working out, honing, drilling, planning, and doing everything within their power to man up so that when things go wrong during each game, it’ll hopefully be someone else’s fault.

I saw new things up close, had a few snacks, took a few photos, watched others enjoy some of the more physical activities, and maybe learned a thing about football.

Right this way for football, cheerleaders, one genuine Colt, and snacks!

Indy 500 Festival Parade 2015 Photos, Part 3 of 6: This Year’s Guests

Nico & Vinz!

Pop stars Nico & Vinz were among this year’s parade headliners who were more familiar to viewers under 40 than they were to me. But still: Nico & Vinz!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This year marked the fifth time my wife and I attended the Indy 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis. It’s an annual date-day tradition for us — partly to see the floats and high school marching bands, partly for the famous names (even if the rest of the audience loves them more than we do), and partly because I love the sight of a bustling downtown Indianapolis (which needs to happen every single weekend ever).

The next six entries (to be posted over the next few days as quickly as time and attention span permit) represent a fraction of the pics my wife and I snapped.

Part Three, then: this year’s lineup of celebrity guests and local personalities of note. Actors, musicians, and athletes are a staple of the Indy 500 Festival Parade, and it’s always interesting to watch their responses and see how many of them and their companions whip out their phones to take pics while they’re on the move.

Right this way for Pacers, Colts, singers, a mascot, and more!

Indy 500 Festival Parade 2014 Photos, Part 3 of 5: Some of Your Qualifying Drivers

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This year marked the fourth time my wife and I attended the Indy 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis. The next five entries (to be posted over the next three days 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 fun and joy.

Part One featured the singers, actors, and other celebrities who joined this year’s parade. Part Two featured glimpses of all the marching bands who rocked the streets. Here in Part Three, some of the thirty-three drivers in this year’s Indy 500. Since today was too busy for me to complete this entry before the race finished, the following is our collection of driver photos that came out least-worst, organized in the order in which they finished the 2014 Indianapolis 500.

This year’s winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay! This was his first Indy 500 victory.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Click here for more drivers, their families, their hats and their sunglasses!

Sports-Averse Old Hoosier Attends His Very First Pacers Game

Tonight’s very special outing was a historic first: I attended my very first Indiana Pacers game. The average 41-year-old Hoosier has already attended dozens of Pacers games in their lifetime. I, one among the single-digit minority statewide that doesn’t yearn for sports, never had the opportunity before. Tonight’s deal was irresistible, though: thirteen bucks bought us the cheapest seats possible at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, in the upper atmosphere where oxygen can’t reach and you can hear the sound of harps and gently flapping wings behind you. For this one-time special ticket offer, they also threw in a free T-shirt (none in my current size), free hot dog (large enough for a kid), bag of chips, and soft drink.

My wife and I are of one mind when it comes to sports: we’re not huge fans, but why not anyway. More quality time for us to spend together, and we were treated to new sights, such as the scenic Fieldhouse going rave-tastic with a pregame light show.

Bankers Life Fieldhouse light show, Indianapolis, Indiana, 12/13/2013

This way for #pacersgamenight !

A Photo Salute to the Little Things About Baseball

night game, Louisville Bats, Victory Field, Indianapolis

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my aversion to sports… [but] a boon from my employer facilitated tonight’s very special date with my wife at fabulous Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians, our local minor-league baseball team.

(We took many photos for sharing, but the night and I are no longer young. Another time for those, I think, along with the story of how I earned those free tickets…)

I later shared the story of how I earned the tickets, but tonight we present the long-missing conclusion of the Great MCC Baseball Trilogy — i.e., those photos I said I’d share. With the 2013 World Series underway this week, pitting our old pastor’s favorite team against the guys from Fever Pitch, now seemed as good a time as any to recapture that date night my wife and I spent at Victory Field. Our best photos focused largely on the ephemera surrounding the showdown between our Indianapolis Indians and the Louisville Bats. We were more intrigued by the details around the edges rather than by the game itself. We’re weird, atypical Americans like that.

That’s not to say the game didn’t have its moments. Night games in particular are fun for me at Victory Field, chiefly because this was a rare excuse for me to remember what nightlife looks like. I’m not one for barhopping or full-price matinees, and nighttime is when all the best TV shows are on, not to mention it’s my key time slot for internet typing. Diversions from routine can be invigorating, though.

This way for more ballgame memories…

A Night at the Ballgame (Baseball Optional)

Victory Field, Indianapolis Indians

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my aversion to sports. I was raised in a household with zero male authority figures and consequently never acquired the stereotypical male’s tastes for sports, among other fields. (Also: car repair, gas-powered tools, alcohol, partying, sexual conquest, bar fights…) That’s not to say I’m ignorant of sports. I learned most of the rules during childhood, so I can follow most games if necessary. American football still puzzles me, but it’s a relief to me that its order of operations has yet to factor into any life-or-death situations.

In fact, one of my little-known secret rules is that, schedule permitting, I’ll gladly attend any sports event to which I’m given free tickets. Invited by a friend? Won ’em in a contest? Someone had extras? Deal. I’m sold. So far in my life I’ve been a guest at one college basketball game (Butler vs. Purdue, though there was more shoving than dribbling); won tickets to the RCA Tennis Tournament when it was Indianapolis years ago; watched a few events at the 1987 Pan Am games back; was invited along to two (or was it three?) runnings of the Indianapolis 500; and tried to attend two of our niece’s junior-high softball games, but one was rained out and the other was held at a completely different park from where we’d driven.

In that same spirit, a boon from my employer facilitated tonight’s very special date with my wife at fabulous Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians, our local minor-league baseball team.

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Super Bowl XLVI Pre-Party Photo Archive: When the Big Game Came to Indianapolis

Super Bowl XLVI, Indianapolis, Doritos

“You got your snacks in my football!” “You got your football in my snacks!”

This week all of Planet Earth is clearing its weekend calendar, stocking up on snacks, upgrading their TVs, and preparing for the greatest spectacle in American football. Super Bowl XLVII hits the airwaves this Sunday, February 3rd, as the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens will face each other at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome down in New Orleans. Here in Indianapolis, Colts fans are disappointed that rookie quarterback Andrew Luck didn’t carry the entire team to the grand finale on his back, but they’ve consoled themselves with the knowledge that those infernal New England Patriots didn’t make it either.

As mentioned in previous entries, I’m not a sports fan, so the Super Bowl usually holds no meaning for me. I’m not even one of those casual viewers who attends a bona fide Super Bowl party to gorge on refreshments and watch the world’s most expensive new TV commercials. My family has its own Super Bowl Sunday traditions, none of which involve feigning sports interest for a day or being invited to parties by other people. It’s just not our thing.

For the space of a few hours, last year’s Super Bowl XLVI was a slightly different story.

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