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.

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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

 

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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

 

Alice Reviews Lots of Crap

Hi ho, Alice here and I’m ready for some good old bashing reviewing of just about anything.  Over the years, in my first blog, I reviewed songs and videos, children’s TV, Disney movies, Game of Thrones, horrible books especially 50 Shades of . . . Grey, and even offered my fabulous opinions on products you should definitely not get your child, or anyone else, for various holidays.

I also wrote about all other sorts of things in my life, but I’m trying to narrow that just a bit to what I feel I do best: review and complain about the works of others.  It’s like deciding on the career of career counselor because you can’t think of anything else to do.  I plan to do my best to critique all entertainment, including politics of course, for your benefit.  You’re welcome.

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Who didn’t just love those wacky debates?

There are few things I won’t subjugate myself to, dear readers.  I am willing to review almost anything.  I say “almost” because there is the possibility that something is worse than 50 Shades, though I have yet to find it.  I plan to add some old reviews in with my new ones.  If you’re a new reader, you won’t know, and if you came from my retired blog, you’ve probably forgotten, so win-win.

50shadeszombies
You can only hope to forget these books.

As far as new reviews go, I invite your suggestions.  Do you want to know if those bizarre mask things women put on their faces – not like superhero masks, but charcoal and honey and unicorn dust made into a thick paste designed to clear out your pores – really do anything?  Is there a movie, book, T.V. show, meme, youtube clip, political debate, fictional or not you’d like to know more about?  I specialize in the truly awful, but don’t mind dipping into the good things, because even good things have some delightful goofiness to them.

Possible topics: Marvel movies, wacky songs and videos, new and classic books (the more irritating or dumber the better), Star Wars movies new and old, Disney films, Lifetime movies, anything from T.L.C., Game of Thrones (I do need to catch up on that), teen dramas, 50 Shades movies (God help me), P.B.S. (whether penguins or those charming kiddie shows that make you want to screw a nail into your ear), and the many promising products out there that are sure to change your life.  Like this one.

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I love how uneasy the fish looks

 

Just let me know.  And meanwhile, sit back, relax, and (I hope) enjoy.

Alice

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I like to review from my blanket fort.