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Confessions of a Former Costume Contest Fan

C2E2 2015 Finalists!

C2E2 semi-finalists, left to right: a Warhammer 40K Inquisitor; Takuto Tsunashi from Star Driver; an original Norse Valkyrie; the Khorne Marauder, also from Warhammer 40K; and I believe you’ve met Groot.

Each time my wife and I attend a convention, we love coming home with dozens upon dozens of photos to save for posterity once we’ve turned elderly and forgotten everything we ever did, to show to friends and family interested in what we do, and to share with followers and passing strangers here on Midlife Crisis Crossover. To us it’s all a part of the geek experience, a sort of community service for those who couldn’t be there, or for those who were there but are looking for more shots, different perspectives, or simply proof of their existence when they were unable to take or locate any pics of themselves.

On a related note, for better or for worse, MCC’s highest single-day traffic figures every year are nearly always from cosplay photo galleries. Longtime readers who have no use for cons may wonder why I devote multiple entries to each con, but for me the math is easy: cons provide plenty of new content, anecdotes, and visual wonders to share with the world; and we usually see a traffic spike with each miniseries, especially when it comes to reporting costume contest results. Everybody loves winners, and even runners-up in such showdowns are impressive in their own right.

The grandest of them all is Gen Con, which we’ve been attending since before the recent boom in the Indianapolis con scene. Anne and I aren’t even tabletop or TCG gamers, but their exhibit hall contains scintillating multitudes and their costume contest attracts some of the most imaginative, hard-working, dedicated fans around with a penchant for representing characters and concepts far from the mainstream norms. I come away from each Gen Con a little more wowed and schooled at the same time. I’ve made no secret that the costume contest is the primary reason I attend Gen Con.

After our recent con experiences and no small amount of self-examination on my part, I think I need to let the whole costume-contest thing go.

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Saturday Night’s Not All Right for Fast Food

Icky Dump

Three Saturdays ago my wife and I returned to town after a long, long drive and had neither energy nor willpower to cook supper at home. We weren’t in the mood to wait 60-120 minutes for a table at your Olive Garden/Red Lobster level of weekend hotspots. We’d already racked up a number of single-day expenses and were neither amenable nor properly dressed to go overspend on a nicer, classier, posher, less crowded establishment. So we decided to stop for fast food.

On a Saturday night. I know better than this.

When things went south, they set off a series of flashbacks to my previous career track and reminded me exactly why I should know better.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2014 in Review: Our 3rd Annual Stats Party!

Indy Pop Con!

This outtake from Indy Pop Con captures some of the brighter parts of my 2014: LEGO, conventions, new T-shirts, Star Wars, and my wife. Not in that order.

Hey there, supporters and strangers! Welcome to the third annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This modest site was launched on April 28, 2012, as a nervous experiment in writing whatever came to mind in a space to call my own, and so far it’s been a much more fulfilling pastime than lurking around message boards and tapping my foot impatiently while waiting for other fun people to discuss things I wanted to discuss. Last week saw the release of MCC’s 900th post, and so far I’m at a loss to explain exactly how that happened. I dreaded 2014 would be the year I ran out of anecdotes and opinions and jokes, but in hindsight I can’t think of a reason to let that stop me now. If this happened months ago, everybody do me a favor and don’t tell me, because the longer you let me ramble on like this, the funnier it’ll be to watch my eventual horrified epiphany.

MCC’s 2012 was a slow rise from nothingness to quantifiable somethingness. Our 2013 was about steady upward trending as I kept exploring my limitations and horizons. 2014, on the other hand, saw largely flatlined traffic except around a few key events. This peaceful plateau may be in part because 2014 was MCC’s first year without a single entry achieving the much-vaunted WordPress.com “Freshly Pressed” status, that prized occasion in which the WordPress staff shares a well-regarded work of yours with a much wider audience of fellow WordPress users. Without such a generous boost to accelerate audience growth this year, it meant trying to hold your attention with old-school methods — by keeping the content coming, by appreciating the greatest audience of all times, by digging into topics that might interest other humans besides myself, by trying not to suck, and by wishing really hard that magic search-engine genies would do all my marketing for me.

Continue here for MCC’s own best and worst of 2014!

My Super Awesome “Frosty the Snowman” Reboot Pitch

Frosty the Snowman!

Millions of viewers used to love watching Frosty the Snowman every year when it aired around Christmastime. The beloved 1969 animated special was one of several perennial favorites in my childhood household. We knew the song, we knew most of the lines, we recognized those familiar cartoon voices, and we knew every beat of the story, from the flop magician to the snowman’s parting promise. Frosty was common knowledge among us kids.

See that face up there, full of angst and pathos and magic? That classic hero just turned 45 years old. Isn’t it time for his 21st-century reboot?

I don’t mean as a feature film, because that declining box office is depressing. I also don’t mean another one-time TV Christmas special, because that’s thinking too small. See, I’m thinking live-action regular series. So many facets of this undervalued intellectual property yearn for a modern update with better fashions, extra pizzazz, hipper attitudes, and supernatural warfare. Frosty himself could stay CG, but there’s no reason Karen, her friends, the other townspeople, and most of the town scoundrels couldn’t be played by real actors so we can crank out episodes more quickly and minimize our animation needs. Unless we send this proposal to Fox, animating it will get us nowhere. I say it’s time for Frosty to start over, but this time keep it real.

I’ve taken the liberty of mapping out a hypothetical thirteen-episode first season that would rebuild the Frosty universe from the ground up and make it relevant and “sick” to a whole new generation of impressionable prime-time viewers. This, then, is what my preliminary episode guide looks like for…

SNOWMAN: THE SERIES!

Right this way for capsule summaries of all thirteen season-one episodes and a sneak preview of future storylines!

Former Kickstarter Junkie III: the Former and the Furious

Molly Danger!Behold two panels from the cool thing that landed in my mailbox last week: Jamal Igle’s graphic novel Molly Danger. This forty-eight page tale about the responsibilities and hardships of a government-allied teen super-hero is spunky, dynamic, written from the heart, suitable for all ages, and highly recommended for anyone who could use a break from comics about white guys by white guys.

This first volume was made possible through a Kickstarter project that was launched in August 2012. My local comic shop had a copy on the shelf in November 2013. As one of the 1,240 backers whose pledges helped make the project possible, my copy just now arrived, seven months after retailers could sell it and nine months after the original, estimated delivery date of September 2013. Unfortunately for everyone, U.S. Postal Service rates skyrocketed sometime between project launch and project completion, which means shipping/handling costs exceeded what he’d expected. Once the books were printed, Igle mailed out backers’ copies a few at a time whenever he could afford to do so.

It’s a great book and I look forward to seeing future Molly Danger projects, but this aspect of the experience didn’t turn out quite like anyone had hoped.

Igle’s story is ultimately understandable and pretty benign compared to others I’ve faced. Am still facing, in fact.

Hang out at any geek-news site, wait a week or two, and you’re likely to see the latest headline about a Kickstarter fiasco whose broken commitments ended in teeth-gnashing and garment-rending. Here’s a link to a recent one in which things have turned so grim and sour that the Washington State Attorney General’s Office is involved. Since Kickstarter assumes no accountability or liability for its users’ inaction or delinquency, it was only a matter of time before someone began channeling consumer rage into legal threats.

Hi. My name is Randy. It’s been eighteen months since I last gave a single dime to a Kickstarter project.

Right this way for never-ending status updates…

“Star Wars: the Clone Wars” Season 6: Ranking the Story Arcs

Jar-Jar Binks, Mace Windu, Star Wars, Clone Wars  Season Six

Our Hero and his new partner, Mace. #TrueDetectiveSeason2

My wife and I were previously disappointed when Cartoon Network pulled the plug on Star Wars: the Clone Wars for what I imagine were the worst of reasons, which wouldn’t be out of line with their past history of greedily motivated cancellations. We were surprised and a little excited when Lucasfilm announced that season six would be released on Netflix, not even a month after we finally became official subscribers.

Though many fans put life on hold and held a thirteen-episode Season Six marathon as soon as they woke up on release day, we didn’t complete our own leisurely runthrough till this past weekend. She’s the hardcore Expanded Universe enthusiast who’s frequently taken issue whenever the animators have wantonly disregarded the novels in every other episode. I’m a more casual SW viewer who’s liked many episodes, but I’ve had my own recurring peeves about the series since season one. Together we have our opinions as to how the four arcs in this season worked out. Of those four, I most enjoyed the one that I thought I would give me convulsions, and the one I ended up loathing the most convinced me the Cartoon Network execs weren’t entirely off-base for once.

This way for the opinions of a pair of happily married madpeople!

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