Alice Reviews?

Hello?  Is it me you’re looking for?  Lionel Richie maybe?  Where is he anyway?  Alive, hopefully, or this is is awkward.

Good news, I am alive!  I thought about making a post so many times.  I had so many post  ideas – they were great posts, wonderful posts.  I was going to review stuff like hurricanes. I hear they’re wet.  Or maybe just movies. I did review a few with the help of my Things and tiny wooden people.  You can see them if you look back.  Also, I got a lot of prep stuff for reviews like beauty masks (there are pictures I promise I will show one day including one with me wearing, I am not making this up, a penguin on my face) and make up and movies, etc.

The Things and I played with the prep stuff, but then did nothing with it.  It takes time to take pictures of little peg people and we were like, busy.  Or they were with school, and activities and staring at their laptops and stuff.  I was busy contemplating the universe, or possibly hoping my meds would work and then we got Netflix along with Amazon Prime, and the streaming Roku thing we already had, and that was that.  I’m not sure how Roku, or streaming, or Netflix works. I have multiple degrees, but those are in useful crap like liberal arts.  So I figure it’s like electricity – little fairies carrying T.V. programs and such fly across invisible wires to my television.  Well, sometimes.  Sometimes the fairies get lazy and I have to call those Internet people.  Freaking fairies.

I’m not actually stupid, I just don’t like researching electronics.  Just in case you recently got here and don’t know me.  Also the Things are my children.  And I have mythical friends named Sad Pony and Squirrel.  They say I’m sane.

What was I going to say here?  Hang on, there’s a point, unless you’re my husband in which case you gave up a while ago.  Oh, right, about the Things, and if you just got here, etc.  I recently – I think it was 2018 – said that I should start over with a new blog because I had changed so much in the last year and blah blah pretentious blah.  So I did start over, and then did nothing.

And then I realized that I hadn’t ever really changed after all.  I’m still Alice, and as far as I can tell, I pretty much still have the same personality as long as I am taking the right meds, etc., that I did when I was twelve.  Maybe this should have changed by now, I’m not sure, but I don’t really care cause I think it’s okay as it is.  Also, the whole idea of trying to make a blog where I only review things because that would be more organized was a bad idea.  I’m not organized.  It’s just not happening.

I pondered whether I should give up the whole blogging thing cause I was no longer funny, or no one wanted to read it, or if after forty I should do stuff like normal adults.  Whatever that is.  Cleaning, I think, and working a normal 40 hour job in which I get roughly 3 hours of work done a day and spend the rest of the time wishing I was at home.  Instead I am ferrying high school students (TWO of them) around and watching TV and buying health products cause I’m sure I’ll go to the gym if I have the right leggings.

But the blog posts never go away – I still write them in my head all the time.  That’s why my counselor originally said to write it down, since my angst according to her was funny.  Yes, this has all been a mental health exercise for me.  Yay you, reader.  I hope there’s a reader or two.  But I guess that’s not the most important thing, since I used to write like crazy even when my only readers were my best friend and this Indian guy who liked very large American women in patriotic bikinis according to his blog site.

So I’m going to do that again!  Uh, blog that is!  And I’m going to do it back on Aliceatwonderland cause I’m Alice, and on that blog you just know I’m Alice and that’s why.  Also I understand more of how to use that blog format.  So I’m going back there.  If you follow the link, you’ll find my old / new blog and a version of this post (it will be like time travel). 

So I spent all that blathering to say I’m going back to my old blog and leaving this one, though I’ll eventually transfer posts over before I abandon it, and I am going back to blogging.  I promise I will post at least once every 3 months or so!  Also, I will try to read blogs if they interest me. I have a short attention span (think reality TV) so I’ll do my best and all.  

I hope to just have some fun and maybe get out some more angst and that sort of thing.  If someone still wants to read, come on over.  I might even wear a patriotic bikini.

Just follow the link for fun and adventure.  Or something.

~Alice

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Marvel Reviews: Iron Man II

I spent the last post telling the story of Iron Man I with wooden peg people and cotton balls.  But Iron Man, and its sequel I’m about to cover, isn’t about Iron Man – it’s the story of the man in the suit: Robert Downey, Jr.  I mean, Tony Stark.

 

iron man 1 interface
Tony Stark in the suit using this interface thingy to control . . . it’s an excuse for us to see Robert’s face while he talks.

 

His story doesn’t end when he kills one of his bad guys, with him becoming “good” and just staying that way.  If that could happen, I’d have achieved perfection at five (back when I was cute and skinny and played a rocking show girl in ballet) and never had to try again.  Iron Man II begins with Tony enjoying his success as Iron Man while his past and present come back to haunt him.  When Tony is good, he is very, very good, but when he is bad, expect mass destruction.

iron man II poster
Oh, look the actual review!

The movie opens with a big Russian guy who hates Tony Stark.  After his dad dies, he angrily opens a bunch of blueprints with the name of Stark’s father, and starts building himself a shiny thing with hammers and a forge – probably for the science fair.

Cut to Tony, making a discreet entrance to the Stark Expo (science fair for rich people) by leaping out of a plane through fireworks and landing on a stage in the middle of a bunch of dancing girls to the tune of “Shoot to Thrill” by AC/DC.  After robotic cranes remove his armor to reveal him in a nice suit (Tony dresses and undresses faster than your average Barbie), he delights in the roaring crowd.  Just because he’s a new man who isn’t selling weapons to terrorists (as far as he knows) does not mean he can’t still get attention for what an awesome hero he is and how no one can challenge him!

 

Dancing queen
Tony’s celebrations are always very subtle.

 

After nearly drowning in his own ego laden speech, he lets a video of his dead dad, Howard Stark, (played by Walt Disney I’m pretty sure) talk about Tomorrowland while he checks his blood toxicity level, as anyone would.  Next up is a visit with the Senate who grill him on the use of his technology using his pal Rhodey (new actor but trust us, still him) to present his weaponized armor suit as a possible threat.  No way.  Tony defends himself saying “You can’t take my stuff” and “You’re welcome.  I’ve privatized world peace.”  Because yeah he has, all the world needs is him.  Duh.

So he goes to Monaco with the two people who actually tolerate him for pay, head of security Happy (Jon Favreau) and former personal secretary Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), who he has just hired as CEO.  Again, yeah, that’s their names.  Pepper is trustworthy, having babysat him fairly well for years.  She’s not too happy with the new secretary he hired Natalie (Scarlett Johansson), who is there for more than taking notes.  Not like that.  Mostly.  More later.

 

tony pepper widow
Natalie is totally just a secretary.

 

After arguing with Pepper while they force smiles for the camera (I love their scenes together), he’s grabbed by that one annoying kid that always spots you in the hallway, Justin Hammer, a weapons manufacturer and real wiener.  He brags on himself, but not in a charming Tony way, and I immediately wish someone would kill this guy.

 

tony and hammer monoco
Justin Hammer is just so charming. Kill him.

 

Tony checks his toxic blood levels again (not good) and decides to tell his friends that the thing in his chest that is supposed to be protecting his heart and powering his suit is poisoning him.  I’m just kidding.  He decides it’d be a great idea to jump into the drag race that’s about to start.  Pepper turns away for one minute, only to find him racing down the track at 100 miles an hour.  Must have forgotten Tony’s bell and leash again.  She and Happy grab his armor suit in a suitcase (convenience!) and run.

Angry Russian guy picks this time to show up even though no one knew Tony was going into the race, not even Tony, so he must have counted on him being out of his mind.  If so, good research, Russian dude.  He jumps onto the track while swinging two long electrical jump ropes and sporting a blinky thingy on his chest.  He smacks down cars with the ropes, and they blow up a lot, and then Tony shows up and he makes his car go boom.  Other race cars blow up behind Russian guy as he walks toward Tony, though I’m not sure if it’s from the jump ropes or if they just spontaneously combusted.

 

vroom.
This doesn’t look good.

 

Tony tries to defend himself against the jump ropes of death, only to nearly lose a rather personal piece of his equipment and get smacked into a car.  Speaking of smacking, his pals show up and smack Russian guy with their car and Pepper screams at him hysterically as he argues back- until Russian guy cuts the car straight down the middle.  He gets his case and zip – the armor just pops right onto his body.  I want one of those suitcases.  Mornings would be much easier.  Now with his armor, Tony takes him out and yanks away his blinky thing.  Only Tony gets the blinky things! 

Turns out Russian dude is named Ivan Vanko.  He’s thrown in a cell, but soon broken out by Justin Hammer, Tony’s competitor who still needs to be killed.  Go, Ivan, go.  Hammer instructs Ivan to build him more suits like Tony’s, cause of course this maniac can be trusted to be a good worker.

 

Ivan and Hammer1
Go, Ivan, Go!!!

 

Rhodey shows up at Tony’s garage and expresses concern, but Tony, who looks like death,  insists he is totally in control while reaching into his chest.  He takes out one rusty, smoking computer chip thing and replaces it with a fresh one, before slamming the whole reactor thing back in his chest.  Hey, I’m convinced.

 

rhodey talks to tony
Aw, he’s fine, Rhodey!

 

More scenes with Hammer whining at Ivan.  Come ON Ivan, I’m counting on you. At least smack him around a little.

Tony is drinking again (but he’s not an alcoholic, he just likes drinking and stuff) and the hot secretary Natalie sits in his lap.  I’m waiting for Pepper to walk in, but instead he asks what to do for his last birthday.  She says “Anything you want.”  That should go well.

 

tony and black widow before birthday
Great encouragement, Natalie!

 

He throws a birthday party, puts on his weaponized suit, and gets stumbling drunk, impressing the crowd by peeing in his suit.  Pepper tries to pull him off the stage but he refuses, throwing out an arm and accidentally breaking lots of glass with a hand blaster.  Whoops.  Rhodey, who was assigned by the military to get Tony back in shape, grabs one of his extra Iron Man suits – you need one for every occasion like shoes – and orders the crowd who was actually enjoying watching him blow stuff up to get out.  Aw, and they could’ve gotten killed by Iron Man!

Tony asks for good music to beat his buddy’s butt to, and the DJ plays “Another One Bites the Dust” as they beat the crap out of each other in giant armor suits, destroying much of the house in the process as crowds of people watch his idiocy.  Rhodey finally defeats Tony and takes off in his armor suit.

 

tony and rhodey drunk fight
Rock ’em, sock ’em!

 

The military likes the suit Rhodey took, but decides it needs to have more weapons slapped onto it (of course), and hire that Hammer guy to do it.  WHY?  Ivan has been making his own new blinky thing and sparkly jump ropes instead of doing what Hammer asked him to do, and Hammer gets out of sorts.  Good time to kill him Ivan.  You’ll be a hero!

Cut to Tony sitting in a giant plaster donut on top of a store, eating donuts in his suit.  Samuel L. Jackson shows up and asks him to “Please exit the donut”.  Turns out Jackson is playing Nick Fury, head of intelligence agency SHIELD, and he and Natalie, who turns out to be a spy named Black Widow wearing tight leather, try to talk him into not being an idiot so he can join their totally normal group.  Fury gives him some of his father’s old stuff that maybe he can use to help find a new power source that doesn’t kill him.

 

tony in a donut
I’m BUSY right now, guys!

 

Turns out old Ivan is the son of one of Howard Stark’s physicist partners who got arrested and sent to Siberia for trying to make money from their inventions.  WMDs were fine, but not Howard’s super secret formula for remaking an element!  He plays some old films of his dad (I swear it’s Walt Disney), and Dad says he built his model of a future Tomorrowland for him, and that Tony is his greatest creation.  Aw, that would have been so cool if Dad had said he loved Tony while he was, you know, ALIVE, but better than nothing.  Also would have been better if Howard had stuck to cartoons.

 

howard is walt lol its legit my dude
Howard Stark / Walt Disney. COINCIDENCE? I think not.

 

Tony figures out the Tomorrowland park  concept is the model of an atom or something and psychobabble and boom, after remodeling the garage and ripping stuff apart, he recreates an element that . . . it powers his suit better without poisoning him.  It’s just in time cause Hammer Weasel is showing off his robot drone fighters when Ivan, shock, hacks into the computer and starts controlling the suits, including the one Rhodey is wearing. 

 

whoosh
Wow, look at those flames comin’ from their rocket launchers and stuff!

 

Uh oh.  Tony flies out of the expo, trailing robot drones and his best friend who are all trying to kill him, though not intentionally this time.  Back on the ground, Black Widow breaks into Hammer’s shop and kills a bunch of guys with her thighs, etc.  She reprograms Rhodey’s suit so that they can fight the drones instead of each other, and Pepper has the police kill Hammer.  I mean, sigh, arrest him.  Bunch of robots go boom, then Ivan shows up with those darn jump ropes but is defeated by Tony and Rhodey who then realize that the drones will all blow up and one of them is right by Pepper, naturally.

Tony swoops down and saves her just in time, bringing her up to the roof where they argue and then kiss while Rhodey watches.  He was on the roof first, man, so that is not at all creepy. 

 

tony pepper kiss rooftop
Smooooooooooooooouch!

 

Later Tony meets with Fury again, but finds out that while Iron Man is approved to join the Avengers club he’s creating, Tony is not.  Something about erratic, self-destructive behavior and extreme narcissism (he acknowledges that one), but he is offered a spot as a consultant.  In an after credits scene, a giant hammer (an actual hammer, not the tool they put in jail) is found in the desert.  I wonder what the next movie’s gonna be about.

 

cartoon_stock_2017_085523

 

~ Alice

Marvel Movie Reviews: Iron Man I

IM Payoff 1sht

 

Iron Man is the story of Tony Stark, the self-described “Billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist” who inherited lots of money and a big weapons manufacturing company from his father.  Mom and Dad died violently when the rich little genius, who is also super good with tech and building stuff, was a pouty teen, so most of the company was placed in the hands of his dad’s totally responsible partner until he came of age.

 

tony young and dead parents
Young billionaire Tony is sad for his mom.

 

I’m not talking about Batman, so shut up.  This is Iron Man, and there are actually a few differences.  Tony wears armor, not a skin tight bat suit with nipples, saves his broodiness for when the booze wears off, and is not afraid to reveal his identity to everyone he knows, because while highly intelligent, he has the forethought of a hamster.  He works on his inventions in a “man cave”, not a literal cave, cause while he’s unbalanced, he is anything but socially isolated.  He’s funny, charming, obnoxious, great with insincere party people, and as his story goes on through each film, capable of character growth.  It helps when you start at rock bottom.

 

Wowie
Iron Man armor shows no nipples. Batman armor shows nipples. No contest.

 

In the beginning, we see Tony (Robert Downey, Jr.) avoiding another award’s ceremony in his honor by playing at a casino, drinking heavily, and flirting with women.  The women naturally fall at his feet, cause he’s rich and handsome and Robert freaking Downey, Jr.  Except for one woman, his private secretary Ms. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow and yeah that’s really the character’s name), who is stuck cleaning up his messes including shooing out his one night stands for him in the morning.  That definitely falls under “and other duties as assigned”.

 

tony and girls
Tony can’t help it if he’s beautiful.

 

Since his company, Stark Industries, is promoting a new giant missile called Jericho he has designed for the U.S. Army, he decides it would be a jaunt to go to Afghanistan to show it off, cause if there’s one thing they like over there, it’s rich white Americans.  Though his military friend, Rhodey (Terrence Howard), warns him to stay with more protection, he prefers to ride in the “Fun-vee” as if he’s on a ride at Disneyland, while he entertains the army guys with talk of parties and himself.  Guess what’s about to happen; you are never going to guess.

 

tony funvee talk

tony funvee boom

Yup, boom, the jeep is attacked and Tony is blown out – right beside a missile with the name of his own company scrawled upon it.  He doesn’t have time to say “irony sucks” before it then blows up and he’s injured again, right in his cold little heart.

tony BOMBBB
Just great.

 

He wakes up in a cave filled with terrorists instead of bats.  They aren’t very nice terrorists either, but say they’ll let him live if he will only build them that great missile he was advertising earlier.  Tony kinda thought that weapon was being built for the U.S. military only, instead of being sold to bad guys.  Like who does that?

 

tony and terrorists
Tony is a bit out of his comfort zone.

 

Luckily, he has help from the mentor-doctor-inventor-you-just-know-is-gonna-die guy, Yinsen – a fellow captor who saw that Tony had shrapnel headed for his heart, so naturally stuck a big electromagnet in his chest.  Makes sense to me.  They both know the terrorists won’t let them live, so they create an arc reactor to power the magnet to keep the shrapnel from reaching Tony’s heart.  Cause they just did, that’s how.  Also, instead of building a missile, they start work on a flying suit of weaponized armor out of spare parts. (I guess Tony had just been thinkin’ this up in his spare time and thought, gonna die, why not try it?)

 

tony and dying mentor
Yinsen gives Tony sage advice.

 

Luckily these terrorists aren’t that perceptive despite the cameras in the cave, so they almost get away with it till the last minute.  Yinsen dies helping Tony escape, and Tony flies off in his tin can super armor after burning lots of terrorists with his armor’s fire shooters.  Cause he just did, that’s how.

He crash lands in the desert and breaks his suit, but luckily Rhodey soon finds him in a helicopter and takes him home.  They just leave the armor bits, I mean, what can be done with spare parts and crap?  Tony was deeply affected by nearly getting blown up by his own weapons and getting tortured and forced to hammer stuff while showing off his muscles for three months, so he decides his company should take a new direction and stop selling weapons.  This goes over about as well as the head of the NRA saying he now wants to fund global warming research, so lots of people are mad at him, especially his Dad’s old partner and his trusted mentor, Obidiah Stane, who has been running most of the company while Tony partied and played with inventions in his man cave.

 

tony conference
This is gonna go well!

 

Guess who’s gonna be the new bad guy?

Tony builds another way cooler looking suit with a better power supply in secret in his man cave.  The only one really supportive of him is Pepper (her real name is Virginia but why would you still go by – nevermind) who likes that he’s not as big of an a-hole since he returned.  She takes the old arc thingy and puts it in a nice case saying “Proving Tony Stark has a heart”.  That is, she does after having to yank out the old one from his chest (pop!) and help replace it with the new one (and other duties as assigned!) while arguing with him and freaking out simultaneously.  She is totally not going to be his love interest.

 

pepper unplugs tony
Nothing more romantic than sticking your hand in your boss’s chest cavity.

 

After finding out he wasn’t invited to his company’s charity event, he actually shows up and dances with Pepper, and she worries that she forgot her deodorant and I just love that about her, and they go to the balcony and almost kiss, but Tony chickens out and goes to the bar where he meets the reporter he slept with in the beginning but forgot about instantly.  She has good info though, namely that oh-oh, more of his weapons have been delivered to those terrorists that held him hostage, and are being used to attack his dead doctor mentor pal’s village.  Then Tony learns that Obidiah (never trust Jeff Bridges) has been selling his arms to criminals worldwide this whole time, and is now taking over his company.  That’s not a very good mentor.

So Tony flies back to Afghanistan in his new shiny armor (bright red and gold for maximum stealth!), and saves the villagers with super cool effects.  He gets shot at by military jets on his way back, cause they’re like wtf is that on the radar, but tells pal Rhodey (of course he’s there) who he is, and manages to get home with only a few dozen bullet holes in the armor.

 

Tony flying ignore the wire!
Tony flying! What wire??? And yeah, that’s totally the new red armor.

 

Meanwhile those wacky terrorists (they’re called the 10 Rings, cause they really like Tolkien) gather all those spare armor parts Tony left in the desert, along with his plans, and give them to Obidiah who kills them in gratitude and reverse engineers his own bulky armor suit.  Pepper hacks into the company computer and finds out old Obi also wanted the terrorists to kill Tony (he really should have found better terrorists), so she tells an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., an intelligence agency (more on them later on), about that rotten Obidiah jerk.

Since Obidiah’s scientists can build the suit but can’t figure out the arc reactor thingy, he goes to the source, giving Tony a temporary paralytic and yanking his reactor out of his chest.  Pop!  Ouch.  He can’t help gloating about how he no longer has to help the rich brat anymore, and oh yeah, he’s gonna kill Pepper cause he really hates spices.  Also she knows about him.  Then he leaves Tony alone, cause he’s no smarter than the terrorists.

 

tony gets unplugged by bad guy
Not again.

 

Despite looking like road kill, Tony drags himself back to the lab once the stuff wears off, takes the old reactor Pepper saved in the award and shoves that back in his chest.  Kinda like shoving one of those round pegs in a round hole – you learn it in kindergarten.  Former mentor has a more powerful suit since he took his fancy new reactor though, and their fight takes them to the top of Stark Tower, where he beats the crap out of Tony a while (this is to become a recurring theme), until Tony gets Pepper to overload the large arc reactor powering the building (oh yeah arc reactors do that too – with clean energy!) causing an electrical surge that drops old Obi into the exploding reactor.  Boom.

 

tony blows up bad guy
ZAPPPP! Oops, I overloaded the darn circuit.

 

The next day Tony holds a press conference where he tells the world he is what the press has dubbed “Iron Man”.  Beats buying a pair of glasses.

Iron Man made a lot of money, so Marvel decided Tony still has a long, LONG, way to go to learn to adult, so stay tuned for the sequel, Iron Man II.

~ Alice

 

Marvel Movie Reviews: The Props

In order to review a movie like I’m gonna review a movie (really!) it helps to have images.  I often get these from Google – the ones with no copyright protection of course – as far as I know.  My kids and I have also acted out weird stuff with dolls.  So it just seemed natural to try to combine it all.  Wait, don’t go yet.

First off, there are the pictures.  It’s possible my Pinterest has one or two of these photos.

robert downey jr
Robert Downey, Jr.

He is definitely the very best movie prop.  Oh, but there’s more.

My Things and I recently discovered some intricately painted little figures to represent the Marvel universe characters.  The likenesses are astounding.

Pin mates cap and iron man
They’re spectacular!

You might be thinking these guys look just a little like the Fisher Price Little People from back in the 60’s, 70’s, etc.  These are COLLECTIBLES, though, made by Bif Bang Pow (the company) and called pin mates.  As you can see from the box only those 14 and up are recommended to play with them.  Which makes total sense to me.  Luckily we are old enough – physically anyway.  At least we have never put them in our mouths.

The two represented are Captain America and Iron Man as played by Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr.  If you squint a little.  And forget that they have no movable arms or discernible legs.  You have to admit that the goatee is pretty awesome.  Naturally I had to get these guys, along with quite a few other super hero pegs as you can get them for very cheap if you frequent Amazon more than you should.

They didn’t make enough to represent ALL the characters, though, so we had to improvise.  Now when some people see these cute wooden peg dolls, they might think of the charming little families they could make with them.

doll army
We saw an ARMY!

So we got some of those in order to make some left out characters, as well as possible cannon fodder for the many battles.  There is also a wooden plane from Walmart Thing Two assembled and painted- only the best for these reviews.

Luckily we have some old props to use for important buildings, as well as a new one.  This one’s made totally out of sturdy paper, but you’d never know it.

iron man papercraft
It’s like being in Iron Man the movie!

Seen here is the workshop for Iron Man, which reverses to make his swanky apartment!  Also there are box headed robots.  They seem to have forgotten the stock of alcohol in the apartment, but we’ll let that go.

As far as explosions, you’ll just never guess how we accomplish those.  We’re getting firecrackers and matches ready.  Stay tuned!

~ Alice

 

 

 

Avengers’ Addiction: a Review of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel3
Did you notice us?

I’ve been on ice for a while, but I’m back to talk about one of my latest obsessions: all them Marvel superhero movies.  In case you’re not sure what Marvel is, it’s a comic book company.  About ten years ago, they decided to turn these comics into movies, at least two of the suckers a year usually, with moderate (bazillions of dollars) success.

There are two big companies of comic books: D.C. and Marvel.  When I was a little girl, my big brother used to read his D.C. comic books to me and I loved them.  I could read by then, but he had the best voices.  D.C. comics include superheroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Krypto the Super Dog (really).  Most people know these superheroes whether they’ve ever seen a comic or not.

superdog
The wonder, the majesty . . . the Superdog!

So Marvel was new to me, and while D.C. booted and rebooted movies to varying success, you didn’t hear that much of Marvel.  Then Disney got them, and no one brands crap like Disney does.  Some people were worried about what Disney would do with this franchise, just as they now worry about their recent acquisition of Fox.  That’s the Fox network, not Fox and Friends, though I would love to see Mickey and Donald delivering angry reports of “fake news” in the Disney kingdom with their squeaky voices.

In the case of Marvel, the tale of the Avengers, a super hero team, worked out very well.  I know many people think superhero movies are just about hypogonadal (fun word!) sexist men, scantily clad girls with the power of baking, and lots and lots of explosions for no good reason.  I’ll have you know there is more than that in these movies.  Yeah there are muscle bound men.  Very nice-looking, muscle-bound guys who sometimes feel the need to take off their shirts, because those things are tight.  I’m not opposed to this.  And of the few women there is one who lets her zipper slide on her skin tight uniform, but like, she’s a SPY, so it’s part of the job.

black widow hawkeye
Dude, stop spying my boobs.

As far as explosions – okay you’ve got me there.  And there’s bad guys to fight, though in the mean time they are really good at fighting with each other.  That is part of the fun of these movies.  There is a lot of humor, and the kind of bickering you’d expect from a team of super powered egos trying to just get along and play nice.   Yet there’s not so much humor that it takes away from the actual drama you can find – wait, I’m serious.  There is realism to be found in the heroes of fantasy.  They have actual character, they grow and change, make and break friendships and romances, and even have family members, including two with children.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it is dramatically called, makes you identify with these people, because under all the bizarre super powers, freaky armor, and spandex, these are people.

The movies started back in 2008 with Iron Man.  Some might think it’s a lot of repeat drivel, but over the past ten years Marvel has created a story arc lasting ten years and 19 movies, connecting each movie, and culminating in the recent Infinity War.  That’s pretty impressive.  I’ve been re-watching the movies, and it makes even more sense when you have fresh perspective on each one. Yeah, I said “makes sense” regarding superhero movies.  Maybe I’ve seen too many.  Nah.

rdjr eye roll

The writing is good, the actors have amazing chemistry with one another, and best of all, while they seek to tell greater truths none of the movies take themselves too seriously, with characters sometimes relating the weirdness of the entire thing within the movie.  So I’ve blathered on enough about my love of super heroes.  Stay tuned for reviews of each movie, complete with my usual snark. For while I love these movies, I do recognize the silliness of them too, and it’s too much fun not to talk about the movies, as well as the massive amount of Avengers merchandise I may have purchased some of, for the sake of the blog, guys.

So strap on your armor and straighten your capes, we’re gonna dive into Superville.

~ Alice

 

Mean by Taylor Swift, a song review

taylor swift mean
Yes, THAT Taylor Swift

Wait, am I reviewing a song by Taylor, you might ask?  Alice listens to that chick, the one no one wants to admit to listening  to, yet somehow is a multi-millionaire?  Yup, that one.  And I’m not going to mock it – much.  Because while “Mean” is one of her earliest, still country-ish songs, it’s one of her best ones.  Because it is that simple.  Sometimes people are simply mean.

The song is more country, almost hokey-ish, yet there’s a lot of good stuff there.  Taylor is well known and often criticized for taking her enemies to task in her song writing.  She’s not unusual there, though.  Writers of all stripes use their lives in their writing.  That’s why you should probably be careful about angering one.

mad writer
True.

The pen truly is mightier than the sword, and it smarts just as much inside.  While most people think of romantic relationships when it comes to exes, not as much is spoken about friendships, even though many women especially will tell you it is their closest girl friends they most value.  They are the ones they tell their innermost secrets to, the ones they go to when the guy dumps on them.  They aren’t supposed to be the ones who dump you.  But it happens from the time we are children, and it can hurt every bit as much as a romantic relationship.

The video is a good one.  You are presented with three different young people who are being bullied; a boy interested in fashion, a girl working a demeaning job to save up college money, and a little girl who is forced to eat in a bathroom to avoid the mean little brats who I’d really like to shake.  These situations are all real.

mean little girl
There’s nothing funny about this little girl’s face.

The lyrics are simple, but powerful.

You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me
You, have knocked me off my feet again,
Got me feeling like a nothing
You, with your voice like nails
On a chalk board, calling me out when I’m wounded
You, picking on the weaker man

Remember kids, children are like packs of hyenas.  They smell fear, and they will take you down.  But be sure to never cry when others torture you; it’s a sign of weakness.  I know this, because I was that little girl.  I even wore my hair like that when I was that age.  And I got picked on a lot.  I remember the extra creative names like “cry baby” from the kids, or worse, “too sensitive” from the adults.  For goodness sake’s, don’t be too sensitive!  Seems to me like it’d be nice to have a little more sensitivity in this world, not less.

mean boy
Spotted in the wilds of the football lockers, the bow-tied teen is easy prey.

You can take me down
With just one single blow
But you don’t know what you don’t know

Taylor sings about how, in the future, things will be better.  You might move to a “big old city”.  Someday you’ll be big enough so they can’t hit you.  In other words, you will grow up, and you will gain strength to fight off people not just physically (I’m pretty sure I could take those little grade school girls) but emotionally.  You will move on, while the worst of the bullies will just stay mean.

I’m not saying I have never bullied anyone. I did it when I was a kid, a time when I hung out with someone who would put any of my fleeting mean thoughts into practice.  Pretty sure she’d have helped build a nuke if I’d thought it up.  Anyway, I haven’t forgotten the look on the girl’s face when I hurt her, ever.  Because what I did was wrong, and it didn’t make me feel better.  It made me feel worse.

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Hey, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

You, with your switching sides
And your wildfire lies and your humiliation
You have pointed out my flaws again
As if I don’t already see them
I walk with my head down,
Try to block you out ’cause I never impress you
I just want to feel okay again

I’d like to say it gets all better when you are an adult.  Yes, you have more options then, more knowledge, but it still hurts.  I’ve actually experienced this recently, as a forty-one year old.  A friend I was very close to, who claimed she loved me, who often spoke of how long we’d been friends, and that we’d always be together – she dumped me.  She was an online friend, but more real than many friends I’ve had offline.

First she blocked me during an argument.  Facebook makes it easy.  Unfriend.  Block.  Nanner, you can’t speak to me anymore!  I win!  I was very shocked.  She was angry and accusing me of hurting her.  I was angry at being accused.  I waited it out a while.  After all, we were both adults.  Maybe we just hit each other at the wrong time.  I would apologize, though I didn’t believe I had done anything wrong – certainly I would not have done it on purpose.  So I emailed her.

She came back with – well – “words like knives, And swords and weapons that she used against me.  She knocked me off my feet again.  Got me feeling like a nothing.”  I’m not saying I’m by any means perfect, and sometimes words can definitely be misunderstood, but good gravy this was unreal.  And the email went on “with her switching sides, And her wildfire lies and her humiliation.  She pointed out my flaws again.  As if I don’t already see them.”  

mean little girl 2
And I’m back in the restroom with my lunch again.

As Taylor says, “I just want to feel okay again.”

So why did she do this?  I have a few ideas.

I bet you got pushed around
Somebody made you cold but the cycle ends right now
‘Cause you can’t lead me down that road
And you don’t know what you don’t know

She’s hurting.  I know she is.  We all do.  But it doesn’t give us the right to put others down and step on them, to find their weakest points and exploit them, to do to someone else what someone did to us.  You find out Taylor’s gripe, when she says someone is “grumbling on about how I can’t sing”.  Specifically, it was a reviewer.  And as popular as she already was at this point, clearly it hit her hard.  Because deep down, we all still have insecurities, no matter how much proof there is to the contrary.

The video ends with each of the kids finding better lives in the end.  The kid into fashion gets a job – in fashion, where his opinions are finally respected.  The girl stuck in the Mcjob earns enough to go to college, and get a professional job she enjoys.  And the bullied little girl, sitting in the theater watching Taylor perform, gets a bit of hope.

mean little girl 4
I love this part.

So, yeah, I do like this Taylor Swift song.  I admit it!  I also like the one where she goes totally psycho on her boyfriend!  Wait . . .that’s a lot of them.  Nevermind, I’m talking about “Mean” which has probably the best last lines of a song.

But all you are is mean
All you are is mean and a liar and pathetic
And alone in life and mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

Tell us how you really feel, Taylor.  Oh – and thank you.

~Alice

Best Birthday Gifts for your Teen Girl!

Before I start this review, I should give a little background info for those who don’t know about my so-much-better-than-your children.  I have two daughters who I call Thing One and Thing Two (the doctor was confused until I pointed out that there are still kids named “Neveah”) who are both teenagers.  Today is Thing Two’s fourteenth birthday, so I thought I would give her the best gift of all: a blog post.  I’m sure she’ll love it in lieu of silly, material gifts.

For those who are still looking for a gift for that teen girl on your list, you are in luck!  I searched Amazon (all hail the overlord!) for “teen girl gifts”.  I found some great products you and your teen are sure to love.  Keep in mind that every one of these gifts came from my search for “teen girl gifts”. 

1. Pink Walkie-Talkies!

teen girl gifts
If only there were some easier form of communication . . .

Considering that most of my kids’ friends had smart phones in the second grade (wish I was kidding), I figure that they might not need a set of these.  Sure, I was cruel and made my kids wait until their teens for phones (to be fair, I waited until my thirties), though my eldest teen did not see the need to carry hers to a week long camp. Why when someone else always has one you can borrow? 

I’ll tell you what most teens probably don’t have though, and that’s a bubble-gum pink walkie-talkie.  Get these and your sophisticated teens will be fighting over them like they do that cool hipster record player in your basement. 

2. Lunch box!

teen girl gifts6
And a water bottle holder too?  Thanks, mom!

What holds a lunch and conjures up thoughts of the misery of school?  A lunch box, of course!  Now this is a nice, useful gift for a teen, and what teen doesn’t appreciate that?  You can store lunch in it, or your lost dreams of childhood.  Perfect as an addition to socks and underwear!  Nothing says party like “Lunch box / cooler”.  Just be careful of those sneaky teens who might put caffeine beverages in their so-called water bottles.

3. A Facts of Life PSA Book!

teen girl gifts3
Required reading?  Par-tay!

In case you were still wondering if anyone in their right mind would give this to their kid, especially as a birthday present, here’s an honest-to-goodness review on Amazon.

I purchased this for my great nephew for his 15th birthday. I hope that he has read it. I glanced through it and it seemed to be very fitting for a young teen.

I’m sorry, Great Aunt May, but young Spider-Man didn’t read the book.  He already knows through word of mouth and nose that bodies do lots of stinky and embarrassing things, and that the best inspiration comes from bathroom walls. I’m guessing his feelings were something appreciative like “What?  No walkie-talkies?  Lame!”

For girls, you could add in a box of tampons to make the gift complete.  Great assurance if you never want them to visit you.

4. A Girl’s Guide to Manhood!

teen girl gifts5
Now I’m just confused, Amazon.

Once again, this book did come in my search for “best gifts for teenage girls” as you can see in the fine print above.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it is a good idea for teen girls to learn how to cook steak, change a tire, and impress a girl, but “manual to manhood”?  Why is it manhood?  In the first two pages of my search results, I did not find anything that would really work (and be entertaining) for both genders.  I’m not saying all girls should play trucks and all boys should love Barbie, but sometimes they both play video games, watch super-hero movies, text on phones, and annoy their parents. 

So maybe make this an actually useful manual for all teens, and besides changing a tire and cooking make it include wild stuff like balancing a budget and not sending naked pictures of themselves.  Since many adults and the federal government can’t do it, it’ll be a stretch.  But it’d still be more useful than inspirational quotes and body issues. 

5. Cool Gift for the 14 year old going on 8!

teen girl gifts4
Some might say he’s “dabbing”, but I think it’s a face palm

I’m really sad that I did not get this for my Thing Two on time.  She would have loved it so much.  It’s got all her favorites, purple and pink, an embarrassed unicorn, and the number 14.  I know all teens like to emblazon their ages on their wardrobes.  I think if they were going to have a number on their shirts, “21” would be a good one.  No need for ID, the unicorn says it all, officer!

Thanks anyway, Amazon, but none of these gifts seem quite right for my brand-new 14-year-old.  I did find something that would be on the top of her gift list, and probably that of lots of other teens, for certain, though.

6. Best Gift Ever!

teen girl best gift
But Moms like it too!

That’s right, a life-size Captain America, as played by Chris Evans.  Captain America is a great role model for anyone.  He’s strong, he’s brave, he’s noble, he has a friend named “Bucky”.  Also he’s hot.  Now teens (or others appreciative of patriotism) can have him all the time, and stop stalking Chris Evans.  A win-win for all.

Happy shopping, and Happy Birthday to you, my fabulous Thing Two.

~ your mom, Alice