It Is July 4th.

American Scarecrow!

Please feel free either to celebrate with this cheerfully American scarecrow or imagine yourself pummeling him if you’re actively looking for a straw man to attack. Call it freedom of art interpretation.

The entry title is not quite a 1990s Print Shop banner hung by a resentful Dwight Schrute, but for now it’ll do because I’m not interested in checking on the internet’s mood swings today to see whether or not it’s cool to openly celebrate the Fourth of July. I’ve managed to avoid Twitter doomscrolling for a full 24 hours and plan to continue that streak until at least Sunday because, all things considered, right now I imagine the last three months’ worth of discussions have devolved into repetitive anti-holiday vitriol that’s about as fun an atmosphere as wading into a chatroom of bitter single straight dudes on Valentine’s Day.

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Indiana State Fair 2011 Photos, Part 4 of 4: The Year in Soybeans and So On

Bennie the Bean!

Me and Bennie the Bean. Soys will be soys.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

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 either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. As if our dwindling downtime to-do list for 2020 weren’t already small enough to fit on a Post-It, Anne and I are still reeling from Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the 2020 Indiana State Fair has been canceled after too many vendors kept backing out, painfully aware that crowds and super-powered viruses remain a volatile mix.

Recounts of our State Fair experiences have been among MCC’s annual traditions ever since I launched the site in April 2012. But it’s not as though our lives began in April 2012. We have quite a few stories not yet shared here from pre-MCC days. We may not be able to make new State Fair memories this year, but we can wallow in the older ones we haven’t revisited in a while.

Hence this previously unshared flashback to our 2011 experience. We tried to make the most of our day in this, the Year of Soybeans.

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Lafayette Vignettes, Part 3: Drifting Around Downtown

Washington pediment!

A limestone pediment featuring George Rogers Clark, George Washington, and Tecumseh, three people who have never been in our kitchen.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2019 Anne decide she wanted to celebrate her birthday with a jaunt around the city of Lafayette, an hour northwest of our Indiana home. She cobbled together a short to-do list of things she wanted to see, not lengthy but enough for a leisurely afternoon — a bit of Indiana history, a bit of downtown tourism, and a bit of healthy walking…

One of our favorite simple pleasures of any visit to a new town is the stroll around their downtown, Main Street, town square, or whatever they call the heart of community commerce, whether it’s a presently vibrant neighborhood or a nostalgic patchwork of quaint artisans and hollowed foreclosures. Located at a remove from the Purdue campus on the other side of the Wabash River (which factored into a Jeopardy! clue the other night), downtown Lafayette showed signs that everyday life persists, just…maybe with a quieter ambiance on Homecoming weekend.

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Lafayette Vignettes, Part 1: The Astronaut Alumnus

Neil Armstrong statue!

Why did my wife want to go to college for her birthday? To see Neil Armstrong.

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2019 Anne decide she wanted to celebrate her birthday with a jaunt around the city of Lafayette, an hour northwest of our Indiana home. She cobbled together a short to-do list of things she wanted to see, not lengthy but enough for a leisurely afternoon — a bit of Indiana history, a bit of downtown tourism, and a bit of healthy walking.

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 21: A Limited Who’s Who in Georgia History

Jimmy Carter!

Once more, with feeling: Jimmy Carter! Sleeves rolled up, ready to work.

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.

Our walk around the Georgia State Capitol took us through ornate architecture, near the seats of government, and past packed displays that provided a number of perspectives on local history and issues. As with many other such buildings, we also saw statues all around the grounds commemorating notable politicians and contributors to society — some of them well known on a national or even international level, some not so much. But someone thought their faces were worth carving into metal or stone.

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Yet Another Convention Epilogue Starring Chicago

Chicago Nighttime!

The early-evening view from our hotel room during Star Wars Celebration. That’s the north face of Two Prudential Plaza, with Michigan Avenue lit up and trailing back and to the left. Rather like Coruscant minus flying cars.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife Anne and I attended our second Chicago entertainment convention of 2019, a scant three weeks after the last one. Before and after each day’s festivities we found a few opportunities to see more of the Windy City that we hadn’t checked out on our last several trips. Convention centers may capture our attention for most of our Chicago trips, but if we can sneak in better food and light art for extra credit, so much the better.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 37: Streets of Philadelphia III

A Quest for Party.

Branly Cadet’s “A Quest for Parity”, September 2017.

Towns with a long and storied history tend to be big on statues and sculptures. Nothing brings great Americans to life more robustly than three-dimensional stone doppelgängers. We concluded Day Five with one last stroll through Center City Philadelphia, surrounded by art on all sides as the sun retreated into the west.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 31: They Forged a Flock of Founding Fathers

George Washington!

Obligatory George Washington statue. We lost track of how many times his face appeared in metal on this trip.

The voluminous main floor of the National Constitution Center was interesting and educational in and of itself, but an unusual display awaited us on the second floor in the George H. W. Bush Gallery, a room in which the momentous signing of the U.S. Constitution takes on real-life proportions and surrounds visitors in history and metal.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 28: Princeton Americana

Seaweed Springsteen!

A very different look for New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.

Though we’d already toured one esteemed educational establishment on this vacation, we weren’t in Princeton to walk the halls or grounds of Princeton University. While in town, though, we complemented our historical stop at Princeton Cemetery with a few quick examples of the art in the vicinity, which gave life to memorable moments in New Jersey history from the American Revolution through 20th-century rock music.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 8: Erie’s End

Shark Girl!

Casey Riordan Millard’s “Shark Girl” welcomes you to Canalside!

We hadn’t intended to spend all morning and half the afternoon in Buffalo, but we found too much to do and too many roadblocks making it all take twice as long. Regardless, we had one last stop in mind before ending our Buffalo stance: a long, sunny walk along a former critical intersection in American history.

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Our 2018 Road Trip, Part 7: The McKinley/Roosevelt Losing Ticket

Roosevelt statue!

Once you’ve heard about some of Teddy Roosevelt’s true-life adventures, it’s hard to find Chuck Norris jokes funny.

Longtime MCC readers are well aware we sometimes fall short of our goals. Sometimes we don’t have time to fit in every possibility we brainstormed for our to-do list. Other times, circumstances block a seemingly simple objective. We’ve had our moments of overcoming obstacles and persevering anyway. We’ve also had those times when we cut our losses and decided the hassle outweighed the potential heroism.

We missed two key items while we were in Buffalo. One could’ve been accommodated if we’d been willing to dawdle more in Buffalo and sacrifice later parts of our itinerary. The other, which according to our research should’ve been an easy click-‘n’-run, threw us a disadvantage with a kind of barrier we hadn’t expected: a surprise street party.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 6 of 6: House of the Cool Cats

Garfield @ Fairmount!

#11 of 11, “Cool Cat”.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

Our grand finale awaited us in the town of Fairmount. Yet another Indiana town that dates back to the mid-1800s and once prospered from the Trenton Gas Field around the turn of the 20th century, Fairmount today is largely a commuter town, a popular living space for folks working elsewhere nearby. Garfield creator Jim Davis was raised there and still lives and works not too far away.

Some in Fairmount might argue Davis isn’t their most famous son. After we completed our Garfield collection, a few feet to our right was another familiar face waiting to welcome us to town.

James Dean standee!

You might remember him from such films as East of — wait, we already did that joke.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 5 of 6: Four Far-Flung Felines

Garfield EXTREEEME!

EXTREEEME GARFIELD.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

After hitting that four-pack of Garfields in Marion, the next four were each in separate towns, not all of them next door to each other, and would feel like more of a slog in comparison. The overall path for all eleven Garfields was close to circular — more like a backwards ‘P’ if viewed from above. The path from Garfields #7 through #10 formed the western-facing bowl of the rather large P.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 4 of 6: A Cat at the Heart of Matter

A Person is a Person!

“A person is a person no matter how small…” — wisdom from Dr. Seuss.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

Last time we showed you three Garfields in the city of Marion. But Marion has four Garfields. Between the hospital and the golf course, we found another Garfield in an unexpected wonderland of public art.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 3 of 6: Three Cats, the Marion Kind

Dr. Garfield!

Dr. Garfield ready to perform his next CAT scan. (I…I’m sorry. I really am.)

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

From the Pawnee-inspired digression we headed twenty miles west to the city of Marion, the only locale on our itinerary with a population over 6,000. If we’d had an appetite for lunch yet, it would’ve been the most likely place to find a bite, but artisan breakfast and ice cream kept us going well beyond that stop. Apropos of our objective, Marion was the birthplace of Garfield creator Jim Davis as well as one legendary actor…whose history inspired yet another non-Garfield-related detour.

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 2 of 6: The “Parks & Recreation” Giants

Indian Chief...

“High-five to the first tourists of the day! And possibly the month!”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

My wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

In brainstorming my options this year, I returned to the idea of the Garfield Trail. Thirty to sixty minutes northwest of Jim Davis’ offices at Paws Inc. near Muncie, a dozen Garfield statues stand in front of various businesses in nine cities and towns as tributes to his entertainment value, to his merchandising power, and to some of the personal accomplishments that make those locales proud. In my mind the Garfield Trail was not just a basic road trip to view some roadside attractions, but a live-action side quest. No controllers, no trophies, no monsters to fight, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter —- just the two of us, a series of “levels”, and a checklist of eleven items to “collect” (minus one Garfield down for repairs)…

From a narrative standpoint in a tale of Garfield statues, it may be counterintuitive to have a Chapter 2 that contains exactly zero Garfields. Our research phase brought up a limited number of bonus attractions in the same general vicinity, but two in particular immediately stoked our interest upon discovery. It’s not often you’re in a small town that can lay claim to an As Seen On TV artifact, let alone two of them. It’s rarer to find such objects related to a TV show we both really, really liked. And we had to be honest: how likely were we to venture out this far again in the near future? Or the oh-so-distant future, even? Why not catch them while we’re up here anyway?

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Birthday Quest 2018, Part 1 of 6: Garfields of Dreams

Garfield @ Upland!

Arguably our first-ever photo of a “jazz paw”.

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a tradition of spending our respective birthdays together on one-day outings to some new place or attraction — partly as an excuse to spend time together in honor of our special days, partly to explore areas of Indiana (or in neighboring states) that we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For my birthday last year we drove all the way to Michigan for a comic convention. That’s an average expedition for us, but this one required a five-hour drive that proved a bit much to cram into a single weekend. The con itself was a fabulous experience; the next several fatigued work days after, not remotely so. I wouldn’t mind doing that show again someday, but not as an annual event.

This time I decided to keep us slightly closer to home. The answer still involved comics, though not the “book” kind. It was a direct sequel to a previous birthday trip. And it was loosely inspired by video games.

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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 11: The Wall Drug Trip

Jackalope Rider!

Legends are whispered about the brave and fearless jackalope tamer bringing law and order to the Old West.

Camp. Kitsch. Hokum. Cheesiness. Roadside attractions are all about leaving an indelible impression, sometimes without regard for decorum, class, dignity, or societal aesthetic norms.

If you’ve ever been to South Dakota’s fabled Wall Drug, you know where this is going.

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Our 2009 Road Trip, Part 6: How Green Was My Giant

Giant + Anne!

Remember, kids: eat all your vegetables — especially the canned ones — and you can grow up big and strong like this vegan colossus.

Everybody loves advertising mascots! Granted, kids may not fully appreciate mascots trying to convince them to eat things they think are terrible. They’ll follow those characters’ extremely short cartoons, but stop short of paying attention to their endorsement. In that sense, the Jolly Green Giant is one of those heroic hucksters who may appeal more to nostalgic adults with broader palates than to kids who don’t understand why they never get to see him stomping on bank robbers. Sure, the Green Giant could use his powers for good rather than for capitalism, but then he’d be taking valuable jobs away from our hard-working police forces. Also, good luck trying to convince him to wear a body-cam.

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Our 2008 Road Trip, Part 6: By Neptune’s Trident!

Neptune + turtle!

Beware the power of my trusty trident and my TERROR TURTLE!

In designing and composing our travelogues, we pride ourselves on capturing the narrative that we lived through. Sometimes we find ourselves in a state of zealous motion, pausing only for fleeting glimpses of our surroundings. Other times, a notable sight will stop us in our tracks and invite closer examination, sometimes indulging in variations on a theme like the following mini-gallery. Such was the case when we approached Virginia Beach, where a certain King of the Sea towers over the boardwalk and commands the attention of anyone with an eye for detail who isn’t in a hurry to go get sunburned.

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