Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: this weekend Anne and I are attending this year’s Star Wars Celebration in scenic, freezing Chicago. Once again we returned to McCormick Place, a mere three weeks after C2E2, so the layout and the stress levels of Chicago traffic were still fresh in our minds.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
It’s that time again! My wife Anne and I just got home from the tenth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous conventions in larger, more popular states. We missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team…
…and found activities together as a team. Given that C2E2 is the most comics-centered of all the giant cons we attend each year, its activities often appeal more to me than to her. But we do try to take turns being each other’s plus-one throughout our various cons and travels, so eventually it balances out.
My favorite piece of journalism so far this year was just published January 27th over at the New York Times and struck a nerve in a number of places. In an epic-length article entitled “The Follower Factory”, the NYT plumbed the wobbly world of Twitter and those peculiar, insecure users who boost their Follower head count by paying a company actual money to bless them with hundreds of thousands of automated “bot” accounts that pretend they’re fans clinging on to their every tweet, for the purpose of making the paying customers look more popular. Some are piecemeal accounts, with profiles barely filled out. Quite a few are the product of surface-level identity theft, cribbing photos and usernames but with a character altered to make it unique (relatively speaking). They don’t praise you, go forth in your name, act as your “street team”, or interact with you or other humans in any meaningful way. They just Follow. They sit there, shut up, and act like you rule.
Companies such as Devumi cheerfully offer low-price options for ordinary web-surfing rabble like me, but they also bank some major cash selling bot followings by the hundreds of thousands to B-list celebrities, politicians, creators, reality TV dwellers, and others at varying levels of fame. The NYT named a few names I recognize — actor John Leguizamo, Chef Michael Symon, onetime MST3K guest star Kathy Ireland, and film critic Richard Roeper, whose Chicago Sun-Times reviews have been suspended pending their internal review. Of those who responded to requests for comment, a few buyers insisted it wasn’t them personally pushing the buttons, but an assistant or social media manager who bought a hollow audience on their behalf for PR strategy or whatever. Whether their deflections are true or not, boosts of fake fame are kind of sad. Granted, some personalities receive perks and bonuses from their corporate overlords based on the looks of their social media metrics, which means a return on their invidious investment is entirely possible. To them I imagine it’s all part of the Game.
Trump. Trump, trump.
Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump Trump Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump-trump trump trump trump. Trump Trump trump trump trump trump trump (trump) trump trump trump trump Trump trump trump Trump Trump trump Trump. Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump.
Okay, after a self-mandated 24-hour cooling-off period, I think I’m ready to tackle that Friday night fiasco.
Once upon a time, Midlife Crisis Crossover provided same-night recaps of every episode of Sleepy Hollow. I’m not a pro reviewer entitled to advance copies of any TV shows, so every recap was an intense, on-the-fly, two- to three-hour marathon writing session, thinking and typing as quickly as I could to combine plot summary with top-of-my-head commentary in 1500- to 2000-word bursts — partly to see if I could do it, partly because sometimes there’s an audience for such a thing. This formerly fun exercise became a thankless chore if I paid too much attention to the competition from actual pro websites given days to prepare their material so they can click “Publish” mere seconds after each episode ends. It’s a nice luxury if you can work your way into it and don’t have to worry about sleep deprivation disrupting your full-time day job.
When Fox moved Sleepy Hollow to Fridays for the back half of season 3, I figured it was the perfect time to pull the plug on that ongoing MCC feature, not only due to diminishing returns but also because we have a family commitment every other Friday that precluded same-night recaps. Past experiences have taught me that delayed recaps are a waste of time and bandwidth, so that wasn’t an option, and that’s why this entry is not a straight-up recap. My wife and I still followed the show as fans, and every other week I’ve been live-tweeting it, which turned out to be a much better format for me. All of the MST3K-style improv joke-writing, none of the boring golf-commentator filler.
The timing worked out so that I could live-tweet last night’s season finale, “Ragnarok”, an astoundingly disappointing episode that encapsulated all of this season’s flaws to date, then one-upped them with the most poorly orchestrated mistake in series history. And after it was all over, I was there to watch the internet burn. Not just once, but twice.
Last night my lovely wife made spaghetti for dinner because it’s a thing we like. Buried inside the sauce are meatballs she made using a recipe online. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite home-cooked meals. I’m sure Chopped judges would probably have copious disappointed notes about what they would do differently. They wouldn’t mix two different kinds of pasta just to use up a nearly empty box in the pantry. They’d make fresh sauce from scratch rather than rely on a national jarred brand. Their meatballs might be more consistently colored and stuffed with fifteen extra ingredients. They’d serve it on a set of plates that cost more than we spend on one week’s groceries, with a side of fresh bread bought that same morning from a renowned Italian baker. And so on.
Their level of pasta craft doesn’t invalidate our meal. But at the same time, Anne didn’t claim to create her own sauce recipe, or make her own pasta from the flour up. She’s not gunning for the position of Prego family matriarch. It’s just supper at home. I reiterate: to this biased reviewer, A-plus.
I was reminded of our evening meal plans earlier in the day when a friend of mine retweeted the following clever joke:
One of the twelve million “It’s funny because it’s true!” wisecracks that pop up on Twitter during any given day. Some go no further than a single circle of friends. Some might be shared with friends-of-friends. Some go “viral”, a word I’ve grown to detest. But you get the picture.
Then I was reminded of something else: I’d seen this joke before from another user. Possibly from more than one.