Eight Stubborn Years Down the Blogging Road

March 2020 sunrise!

The morning of Monday, March 9, 2020, in the early days of folks beginning to retreat from physical civilization.

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, enthusiasm for, offense at, and/or detailed nitpicking of various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollowness, geek lifestyles, food, and Deep Thoughts.

Eight years later. 2,177 entries and over one million words later. Here I remain, still tending that same path.

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MCC Housekeeping Notes: The “Mentions” and “About” Pages

Randall A. Golden, Midlife Crisis Crossover

The previous outdated photo from my “About” page, taken at Starbase Indy 2011.

In this time of uncertainty and depression and aimless meandering around the house, sometimes it’s a good idea to pause, take a hard look at our surroundings, and change things up a bit, especially those things that haven’t been reevaluated in years. It’s not much of an overhaul, but with MCC’s forthcoming eighth anniversary, some mild effort seemed in order.

I’ve spent this evening tinkering with the reference pages linked at the top of every MCC entry. The mandatory “About” page, a common stop for fleeting passersby, has been half-rewritten with new material that clarifies the basics of MCC a little better, in a way that hopefully makes more sense to non-geeks while alienating anyone who works in online marketing. I’ve replaced the photo with a much better one from 2018 that longtime readers may recognize. Please don’t roll your eyes at me for sharing it again. It’s a treasured keepsake and we’re determined to get our money’s worth out of it.

I’ve created a new “Mentions” page that lists other, larger sites that have shared past entries to much larger audiences, with my utmost appreciation and incredulity. Comics news sites, creators, and historic SF fanzines are among those who nodded in our direction like Farmer Hoggett in Babe.

The old “100 Bullet Points” page has been deleted because no one had clicked on it in years. A link to the original entry has been preserved for historical safekeeping, but its value as a feature attraction has plunged to near-zilch.

Enjoy! Comments and questions welcome as always, even though I don’t always come out and say it because I thought it was implied by virtue of having a comments section.

The Best I Could Do on Twitter (So Far)

Clueless Detective Pikachu!

The internet in microcosm: strangers in varying garb, a few of whom actually like being around each other.

I’ve been online for nearly twenty years. I’ve been on Twitter for 9½ years. MCC is nearly eight years old, though I blogged intermittently for six years before that in an even tinier space. I’ve scampered around the tunnels of Usenet, dallied in several message boards, volunteered as an unpaid moderator/admin on one site for nine years, tried the untamed DMZ that is comics discussion sites before running away screaming, and learned quickly that comments sections on major news sites were even larger sinkholes. My internet experience has been a rewarding, exhausting, surprising, discouraging, uplifting, heartbreaking search for the right environments and vehicles for my expressive impulses and my feeble attempts at what those who fit in with others call “networking”.

Luckily for me and my shifting moods, the internet offers a variety of writing formats that suit my ideas, topics, styles, visions, objectives, and wordiness vibe on any given evening. In recent years I’ve carved out comfort zones for myself in two primary outlets: Twitter and this very blog. Each option has its pros and cons. Each yields different rewards.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2019 in Review: The Hermit’s Hunt for Happiness in Hiding

CNN Tour 2!

8/26: An unused souvenir photo from our tour of CNN Studios in Atlanta. The rain is fake. The 2019 mood is real.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the eighth annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This virtual cubicle was slapped together on April 28, 2012, as a place where I could entertain myself by making essay-shaped things out of whatever words and pictures I had at hand, as opposed to surfing social media and hoping all those wandering strangers might make for sufficiently provocative brain engagement. Often it’s been a fulfilling platform to share galleries, memories, Grandpa Simpson-style rambling jags, and peculiar opinions that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. At other times it’s been less satisfying, but I keep whiling away at one of my most time-consuming hobbies anyway. When my head is in the right space, I still enjoy the process in and of itself. Often I still enjoy the results. On rarer occasions, I’m also privileged and honored to enjoy any and every external response received from outside my own head.

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Memo from the MCC Errors & Omissions Department

The Shirt!

File photo of a souvenir my wife picked up from Indy PopCon 2015, where the special guests included Charles Nelson Reilly, TV’s Charo, and Joan Embry from the San Diego Zoo along with her amazing thirty to fifty feral pigs.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: I wrote at length about a six-part miniseries that my wife and I watched on Crackle called The Final Tsars, in which I couldn’t be bothered to open an extra browser tab and verify the full name of the ruler at the heart of the story. The next morning, our first conversation after “Good morning” was a firm reminder that his official stage name was, in fact, “Czar Nicholas II”. MCC regrets the oversight and is sorry if any Russian historians were offended, but we don’t feel like editing the affected entry because it would undermine one of its underlying points and two of its jokes.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover Celebrates 2,000th Entry with Gratuitous Food Metaphors

Indiana State Fair 2009!

Portrait of the author at the 2009 Indiana State Fair.

At times blogging can be like State Fair food science.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover vs. the 7-Year Itch

Funko Pop me!

When you weren’t reading, we held a lottery to give away this Midlife Crisis Crossover exclusive anniversary edition Funko Pop, and my wife won that lottery, so hey, big thanks to everyone who forgot to enter!

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, applause for, revulsion at, and/or confusion arising from various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollow marketing, geek life, and sometimes food. It was also my way of finding a way to give myself excuses to write during a time when joining other people’s conversations was becoming increasingly dissatisfying and rare. Nobody talked about what I wanted to talk about; when they did, my opinions usually got me sent to go stand in the corner or flat-out ignored. And just not typing my thoughts was killing me.

Here we are celebrating MCC’s seventh anniversary, still chugging away like the Little Engine That Could. No book ideas suggested or dreamed of, no writing gigs applied for or parlayed, and no danger of me ever describing myself unironically as an “influencer”, which sounds like an upper-class euphemism for “drug dealer”. But I keep writing anyway.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2018 in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Blogly

me at club!

4/23: Me at a business lunch, which are two words I haven’t strung together in over a decade.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the seventh annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This tiny sandbox was formed on April 28, 2012, as a place where I could entertain myself by making essay-shaped things out of whatever words and pictures I had at hand, as opposed to surfing social media and waiting for excuses to reply to strangers who didn’t ask my opinion. Often it’s been a fulfilling use of galleries, memories, and peculiar opinions that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. At other times it’s been less fulfilling, but something I continue cobbling together anyway, as long as I can keep the fires of motivation stoked.

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My Entry in the Internet Peanut-Gallery Database

Charles Linn page!

It’s cool to see your name in print even when you don’t understand all the words around it.

When you make a longtime hobby out of turning words and pictures into hopefully entertaining compositions, more for the sake of self-satisfaction and human interaction than for lofty aspirations to widespread fame and/or corruptive fortune, it’s always a pleasant surprise when something you did — no matter how tiny or inconsequential it seemed at the time — somehow catches the eye of just the right person and creates an unusual opportunity you’ve never had before, never saw coming, have trouble explaining to others, but draw a bit of pride from anyway.

I’ve had a few such occasions pop up in my life. Another one of those odd little things recently happened for me. I think I now have enough to assemble my own checklist. It’s not long or dignified enough to call a bibliography, but if there were an Internet Peanut Gallery Database — like IMDb, but for nobodies like me — then my IPGDb page would presently look something like this:

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Midlife Crisis Crossover Celebrates 6 Years of Stubbornly Blogging All Wrong

Business Mirror!

New head shot taken at a recent business lunch, which is not a phrase that comes naturally to me. Neither do selfies.

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, applause for, revulsion at, and/or confusion arising from various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollow marketing, geek life, and sometimes food. It was also my way of finding a way to give myself excuses to write during a time when joining other people’s conversations was becoming increasingly dissatisfying and rare. Nobody talked about what I wanted to talk about; when they did, my opinions usually got me sent to go stand in the corner or flat-out ignored. And I couldn’t just not type.

Six years and 1,772 entries later, here I remain, not permanently burnt out, not yet out of anecdotes, still finding new experiences to relay, and, once in a blue moon, pulling out a different Moral of the Story to share with the kids these days that I haven’t already hammered into the ground in twelve previous posts.

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Is There Room at the Table for the Fake Followers Among Us?

Buy Followers!

One of many robo-concierges polluting Twitter and willing to assist with your shallow self-image needs.

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.

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Midlife Crisis Crossover 2017 in Review: Our Colossal Comic-Con Year

Queen Anne!

Alternate take of Queen Anne on the Iron Throne at Wizard World Chicago 2017.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the sixth annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This unassuming site was launched on April 28, 2012, as a cathartic experiment in writing whatever came to mind without waiting for other people to start my conversations for me, and so far it’s been a fulfilling use of galleries and essays that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. Come January we’ll be reaching our 1,700th entry, reflecting once more on the thousands of man-hours expended to date on this self-expressive vanity project, and rationalizing new excuses to keep sharing even on those harder days when it’s just me, an unresponsive void, and my wife Anne saying nice things to cheer me up.

Good news on the stats front, in a way: 2017 site traffic was up 10.75% over 2016’s, which had nearly matched 2015’s. We’re still nowhere near returning to 2014’s historic levels, but I’ll take any signs of improvement. MCC had a few memorable moments this year, including one special, horrible, awful occasion that saw our largest traffic influx since 2013, the last year we posted costume photos from Gen Con. Curiously, our biggest attraction the previous year was also the result of an unhappy headline that sparked interest in our own personal tangent. The readers of the internet have spoken loud and clear the past two years: they love us most whenever we have something to share about unhappy things. In a coincidental twist, this may also be why people turn to Twitter more than ever for their daily fix of news and/or commentary and/or metaphorical exploding heads.

Onward, then, to our annual blog-stats party! Featuring a selection of photos from the year that was, all outtakes previously unposted here on MCC. Enjoy!

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The MCC Halloween Archive! (Updated)

David S. Pumpkins!

Straight outta C2E2 2017, he’s still David S. Pumpkins. Any questions?

As a Halloween extra for Midlife Crisis Crossover readers who’ve joined us in recent times, or for anyone who loves a good rerun, we offer any or all of the following links to previous themed celebrations of the Halloween season, all eminently worth reviewing and/or sharing with your closest 50,000 followers. Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

* “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Trick-or-Treaters” — In which I give American kids unsolicited advice on how to do their job properly and earn their free junk food with a clear conscience.

* “Pumpkin Flavored Everything” — Among the precious pieces of fiction ever attempted in MCC’s 1600+ entries to date, this 1000-word tale about family, obsession, and the Great Pumpkin remains the most-Liked.

* “Back When I Wore Halloween Costumes” — Memories of my personal cosplay history, from trick-or-treating as a kid to dressing up in the workplace and other scenarios. Someday I need to plunge into our 35mm collection and dredge up a few of the more embarrassing ones.

* “The Mantis (With Apologies to Poe)” — This obligatory spoof of “The Raven” is based on the absolutely true story of the time a most peculiar animal sat upon our door for several days. And sat. And stared. And sat and sat and SAT.

* “Halloween Stats 2016: Rattling Sabers at Absent Neighbors” — I’ve kept track of our trick-or-treater traffic every year since 2007, when we became first-time homeowners and escaped our old apartment that trick-or-treaters refused to approach. It helps me determine the next year’s inventory, and sometimes I think counting things is fun. Expect a follow-up Tuesday night, though hopefully more than two dozen kids show up for us this time.

Nightmare Pumpkin!

That time I helped paint a Nightmare Before Christmas pumpkin but got denied a prize. Hmph.

Midlife Crisis Crossover Celebrates 5 Years of Midlife, Crises, Crossovers

Official Crisis Crosssovers!

For those unfamiliar with the origin of this blog’s name, the clues lie in these DC Comics from 1985.

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process on my opinions of, applause for, revulsion at, and/or confusion arising from various works of art, expression, humanity, inhumanity, glory, love, idolatry, inspiration, hollow marketing, geek life, and sometimes food. That’s more or less what MCC’s About page says, but with a different set of words because verbosity is my shtick.

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Our 2002 Road Trip, Part 5 of 5: The Day the Vice Presidents Took Over

Man in Space!

Anne hanging out with Jud Nelson’s “Man in Space”, our greeter at the Ford Museum. Per aspera ad astra, and all that.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: a flashback to our fourth annual road trip, a meetup in Grand Rapids with fellow Star Wars fans for opening day of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones. Before and after the movie, we spent our first time in Michigan hitting a few key tourist attractions in the vicinity.

Our miniseries finale begets a confluence of regrets, as eventually came the time to take our leave of our gracious hosts and hit the road home. We had three more stops planned along the way. Two of them worked out. I’d love to share a thousand solid words and a couple dozen photos from what we did that Friday. Yep. Sure would be cool. I’ll get to what we do have in just a moment.

Caution: travelogue finale contains some meta elements of writing about writing…

Midlife Crisis Crossover 2016 Year in Review: The Likes, the Loves, and the Losers

Monument Circle!

May: a rare selfie with my wife Anne on Monument Circle downtown on the day of the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade.

Hey-ho, reader! Welcome to the fifth annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review. This unassuming site was launched on April 28, 2012, as a cathartic experiment in writing whatever came to mind without waiting for other people to start my conversations for me, and so far it’s been a fulfilling use of galleries and essays that might otherwise either languish unwritten in my head or collect endless rejection emails from every professional website ever. Sometime this spring we’ll be reaching our 1,500th entry, reflecting once more on the hundreds of man-hours expended to date on this self-expressive non-profit project, and rationalizing new excuses not to stop, even if by the time I die it’s just me and ad-bots posting harsh emojis at each other down inside the spam filter.

Right this way for our rundown of MCC’s best and worst of 2016!

20 Lessons Learned from 4 Years of Blogging for Satisfaction Instead of Success

WordPress 4 Years!

Fun trivia: if you try to pay Facebook to “boost” one of your posts so more than five followers will see it, they’ll refuse your money and deny the request if the post has no images, or if its primary image contains more text than picture. I learned that one firsthand in August 2014. Y’know, for science.

I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process and this fallen world’s degrading standards on my impressions of, reactions against, and general experiences with various works of art, commerce, wonder, majesty, and shamelessness. It’s my way of keeping the writing part of my brain alive and active, rather than let it atrophy and die. If you’ve read my “About” page, you know this part already.

With four years and 1,277 entries racked up, I’ve now spent more time and enthusiasm on this long-term project than I did in college, both attempts combined. I’ve learned a few things along the way. Sometimes I put one or more of those lessons to good use. Other days, I just gotta be me, and hope that’s good enough for anyone else outside my own head.

Right this way for What I Know Now That I Didn’t Back Then…

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover…

Photobucket Rescue!

From the pre-MCC archives: Anne and I as a very different dynamic duo at Wizard World Chicago 2010.

Welcome to Midlife Crisis Crossover! If you’re only recently discovering the site, tonight we present a quick overview of what we’re frequently about when we’re left to our own devices. If you’re an occasional visitor, you might see a tidbit or entry you missed the first time around. If you’re a longtime follower who reads the site so devotedly that you could win trivia contests about us, please enjoy the above photo as a random bonus never before shared here.

Right this way for an MCC recap for new and lapsed readers!

On Pasta and Copypasta

Spaghetti!

I guarantee this spaghetti dinner was not made by photographing someone else’s spaghetti dinner and then cranking out a replica on a 3-D printer.

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.

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Blogarrythmia

Kings Island King!

Author file photo, taken at an uncertain theme park circa 2006-2008, the years I used the Kodak EasyShare you see dangling from my lanyard. I ultimately decided not to buy the crown.

Welcome to Midlife Crisis Crossover’s 1200th entry! In the grand tradition of 20th century comic books and sitcoms that ran five seasons too long, every 100 entries we mark the occasion as a sort of accomplishment and sometimes celebrate it. Not all those 1200 moments have been winners, but they’re integral components in the comprehensive mosaic of the last few years inside my head — the distractions, the fancies, the traumas, the endless parade of lists.

Before I launched MCC on April 28, 2012, I’d already been writing here and there online for years. My early efforts at self-expression and public entertainment comprise a couple thousand Usenet posts (a few longform pieces in the bunch, mostly irretrievable and irrelevant now), several thousand message-board posts (much easier to sort through, a few of them previously transferred and preserved here), and a LiveJournal I kept for a few years but can barely stand to skim now. In 2006 the longtime message board that Anne and I call home received a software upgrade that added blogging functionality for any member who wanted their own little playground contained within the site itself. Between April 2006 and March 2012 I penned 110 intermittent entries before I decided to stake my own separate claim here among the WordPress territories. That virtually invisible blog was good practice in a number of ways, most of them involving some balance of creativity and humility in the face of a mostly empty studio, so to speak.

As part of this MCC celebration that I just realized could technically double as a “Throwback Thursday” nod, we present the following flashback to an essay originally published May 16, 2006. This oddity, which I’ve lightly edited for a broader audience, represents my very first “meta” post about the odd act of blogging. It was written within and for the confines of the internet equivalent of a shed with a single skylight, but I’m a little surprised how much of my nascent impressions still ring a bell today. Please enjoy, and thanks for being here.

Right this way for a very special Throwback Thursday!

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