A Review: I Am Iron Man

We took Thor to see Iron Man 3 last night.  Now y’all know I am all about the Iron Man.  I loved the first, didn’t hate the second, and flipped my wig over The Avengers.  I am 100% into all these Marvel character movies because they are good.  Iron Man 3 did not disappoint.

I’ll tell you that it didn’t thrill me like The Avengers did, and I’d have cut about 45 minutes out of it–including everything with the kid, which the real critics are raving over as having been some of the best parts of the movie–but I had a solid good time, a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, and found myself rooting for hard and loudly for [I can’t tell you this because it’s a spoiler.]

This is a classic tale of the hero being stripped down to the skin, and forced to rebuild himself to face a new reality.  Who is Iron Man without his suit?  Who is Iron Man after he’s saved the world from things he didn’t think existed?  What happens to Tony Stark’s god complex after he’s met gods?  I loved that these were the questions both asked, and answered by the movie.  I loved that they actually dealt with what happened in The Avengers and how it affected Tony Stark.  It was a lot more than just explosions and quips, and only RDJ could have made it happen.  Only the kid who made Less Than Zero could have made this movie work because Tony Stark is what Julian wanted to be.

There is a lot I won’t tell you because it would spoil all the fun, but I will say this:  I felt good as a mom and as a girl, watching this movie.  I felt like the relationship between Tony and Pepper was a healthy representation of equality in partnership, give and take in partnership, and even though I wouldn’t date a superhero (or live in Gotham City, hello?) I could see why Pepper Potts stuck around long enough to go from suffering Admin, to what really lights up Iron Man’s electro magnet.  This wasn’t a movie I walked out of thinking, “Well that was great! If you’re a boy…”  I walked out of this movie thinking it was smart, funny, and dead-on when it came to gender equality.

Yes, I know it’s weird to walk out of a superhero movie thinking about things like gender equality, but I always wanted to be a good superhero, and there weren’t a lot of good girl ones.  Wonder Woman was awesome, but her costume…  Batgirl and Supergirl were sidekicks.  And those were the only Underoos available!  Boys don’t get it, but it is painful, truly painful to want to be more than just a pair of jiggly boobs, or buttocks, but to be relegated to a star-spangled girdle and go-go boots.  No matter how cool Wonder Woman was, she still didn’t have any good weapons because she had nowhere to put them.

Iron Man 3 made me fall in love with the idea of a girl being a superhero again, and the last ten minutes felt like the action-adventure version of the last two minutes of Pretty Woman.  I wish I had a little girl to take to this movie.  I wish I could take 7 year old ME to see this movie.  It would totally make up for how lame Lois Lane was in the Superman movies, and about half the Bond girls ever.

While I was feeling bolstered and delighted by the turns of the story, Thor was howling with delight over the fight scenes. His face was one big ! for the last ten minutes.

4 out of 5 stars for worthwhile watching

5 out of 5 stars for entertainment value

Why I Laughed at Seth MacFarlane’s “Boobs”

Short Answer:  I thought it was funny.

Long Answer: 

You know that feeling, where you are standing in the middle of the room, laughing at a joke, and you realize that you are the only one laughing?  Erg.  I had that feeling Oscar night.  See, I laughed and laughed at Seth MacFarlane’s jokes.  I am still giggling about the We Saw Your Boobs song.

Most of MacFarlane’s jokes were lazy, and puerile, and at the expense of some group or another, but that didn’t stop me from laughing.  I laughed at the Rihanna/Chris Brown joke.  I laughed at the John Wilkes Booth joke.  I laughed at the Flying Nun gag so much that I missed part of it.  Because I thought it was funny.

You know why I found them funny?  Because, for most of them, my honest first impression was that MacFarlane was mocking the status quo by telling its jokes.  If Hitler is goose stepping, and you’re goose stepping beside him, exaggerating the motions, exaggerating the facial expressions, mocking his voice and his mannerisms, you aren’t walking like Hitler–you’re making fun of him.  I thought MacFarlane was making fun of Herr Hollywood. 

I wouldn’t call MacFarlane a brilliant satirist.  I would call him a brilliant Fool.  A professional Boob.  He is a capering court jester, not a sleek satirist.  He isn’t Jon Stewart.  He isn’t Steven Colbert.  He is smart, but he isn’t smooth.

When MacFarlane sang the Boob song, I thought he was poking fun at how Hollywood undresses its actresses and makes boobs the focus of their careers.  Remember what a huge deal it was when Halle Berry was going to expose herself in Blowfish?  There’s always this major media explosion when an actress is going to bare her chest for the first time, and I thought MacFarlane was mocking that.  I thought Scarlett Johansson got thrown in there because the media exposed her, since she has refused to expose herself.  I thought these things because that’s what hosts do at the Oscars, they make fun of Hollywood and the media.  It’s like a roast for the entire entertainment industry as a whole, where the talent gets to make fun of the industry standard, while getting rewarded for playing along with it.  It didn’t even occur to me that he was being a sexist tool until I opened my Twitter feed and saw the outrage.

Maybe because I actually laugh at The Family Guy, I feel like I am in on the joke with MacFarlane.  That doesn’t mean I found all his schtick amusing.  I didn’t think Ted was funny (or offensive, just egregiously stupid.)  I didn’t like the Don Cheadle joke, which was lazy and boorish.  I didn’t think it was appropriate to make the joke about Qvenznicantspellit becoming a sex object “soon enough” in front of her because she’s 9, and 9 isn’t the right age for that joke.  But, I’d be lying if I didn’t look at every child actress and think, “I couldn’t do that to my daughter.  She’s going to be someone’s sex object before she’s hit puberty.”  Making fun of the Countdown to Legal clocks is always appropriate–doing it in front of the children being counted down isn’t.  I didn’t laugh at his joke introducing Hoffman and Theron.  I didn’t laugh at the closing number.  I thought the closing number was ridiculous.

I don’t know.  It’s all a matter of taste, isn’t it?

I do know this:  The women who were offended have the right to be, and they ought not be called humorless.  I find a great deal of mainstream humor to be offensive.  I can’t stomach Sarah Silverman, for one.  Even my beloved Tina Fey walks a fine line at times.

Comedy is hard because humor is entirely subjective.  Drama, we can pretty much agree upon.  Death is sad.  Loss is sad.  Triumph is good.  It’s easy to to write a love song.  No one is going to complain about that.  But where my son thinks farts are the height of hilarity, he doesn’t have any idea why I laugh so hard at Parks and Recreation.  Where I love a good, dark WWII joke (see Jeremy Clarkson’s faux commercial about Volkswagon, with everyone fleeing Poland because of a “German” invasion), I don’t find rape jokes funny at all.  I will laugh at Countdown to Legal Clock jokes, but I will break up with your sorry ass the very first time you ever tell me a joke about pedophilia (just ask that one guy–I have no sense of humor where that is concerned.) 

I do not think Dumb and Dumber, or Something About Mary were funny at all, but Drop Dead Gorgeous is #1 on my comedy hit parade.  Subjective.

Was Seth MacFarlane a good Oscar host?  I thought so.  Would Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been better?  Duh.  Yes. 

But can’t you say that about just about anything?

Fight or Flight?

My mom and I were watching the Olympics last night, and sucking in our breath as gymnasts wobbled and tottered on the balance beam, then righted themselves only to run for another pass of flips, twists and turns that I would not ever even attempt for fear of breaking my face.  I said to her, “I think that’s the amazing thing about world-class athletes: They can make a huge mistake, shake it off in split seconds, then run for the next challenge.  Or how they can lose it entirely, then get up again and go to the next competition.  They don’t focus on the failure.  They just focus on the next challenge.  They really understand living in the moment.”

How many times have I let a failure or an embarrassment keep me from trying again?  Or worse, how many times have I let fear of failure or embarrassment keep me from trying in the first place?

I was watching these little girls wipe out on their apparatus, huge failings in the eyes of the audience and the judges, and still keep going.  I wondered how strongly the flight side of the fight-or-flight coin would influence me in the same situation.  How much easier is it to just bolt and run, than to finish?  How badly would I just want to hide my face, rather than to set my jaw and show the parts I am capable of completing?  I think I actually learned something.

My former chiropractor, Bob Deering (who is only former because he and his lovely wife moved their practice to New Mexico), noticed that I always used to walk with my hands in my pockets.  He gave me a little coin with the word “fight” on one side, and “flight” on the other.  I was supposed to keep it in a pocket to remind me to stay out of my pockets.  It became a little OCD mantra for me while I walked.  Fight or Flight.  Fight or Flight.  Fight or Flight.

It never occurred to me to turn that into a question.  But, I think I’m going to take some time to consider it as a question and apply what I learned watching the Olympic athletes to my doings.  Can’t hurt, can it?

Lord, I Hope This Day is Good. So I’m going to make it good.

I introduced Thor to the music of Don Williams recently, and said something about it to Mom in front of him.  Thor nodded and said, “Yes.  And he has this song where he says ‘God, make my day good.'”  (If it has God in it, Thor is all over it.  He has been assimilated by Larry the Cucumber.)  The song is actually, “Lord, I hope this day is good.”

I was thinking about that this morning. 

Listen, last week was ROTTEN!  Car trouble with both cars (fixed, thankfully), landed gentry trouble (that’s going to take some time and money to repair, but that’s what I get for having made slumlord jokes), and assorted semi-serious issues combined to make me feel like wallowing.  And I did wallow.  But you know what wallowing gets you?  Dirty.

This morning, I was humming Don Williams.  I stopped to think about the lyrics of the song.  “Lord, I hope this day is good.  I’m feeling tired and misunderstood.  I should be thankful, Lord, I know I should.  But Lord I hope this day is good.”

I’m not the kind of girl who waits for things to happen.  I am impatient.  I’m not wishin’, and hopin’, and prayin’.  I’m doing.  I’m going.  I’m getting.  If it is important to me, I am on the move.  This does not always work to my favor because every good hunter knows that there is a time to lie in wait and a time to go crashing through the underbrush, but it’s who I am.  I do.  I go.  I get. 

I don’t expect God (or anyone else) to give me a good day.  I expect that I have been given all the tools with which to command my destiny, and it is up to me to use them.  When I feel tired and misunderstood, it is up to me to put it to bed (withholding sleep is a way that I punish myself) and explain the misunderstanding.  When I know I should be thankful, you better believe I am thankful.  That’s probably the one thing I have down pat.  Gratitude.

I will tell you that at the bottom of my heart, I will always be able to be thankful for what I have had.  Even if the day comes when I have nothing at all, I will always have what has been, and I have had such love and goodness in my life to date, that I can always be thankful for that.  Even the smallest spark makes a light in darkness, and sometimes that’s the best you can do.

I realized that I haven’t been on top of making sure Thor understands that happiness is his choice and his decision.  I want him to understand that his attitude is his to command, and his temper does not have to be a reaction to the world.  I never want him to wait for someone, or something else to make his day good.  So, when we got in the car this morning, I asked him, “What are we going to do to make this day good?”

He wasn’t sure, so I told him what I was going to do.

“I am going to find something good to say about everyone,” I told him.  “I am going to tell people nice things.  If I think someone looks nice, I will tell them.  If I think they do a good job, I will tell them.”

He smiled and intoned, because it was an imitation of some vegetable he’s been watching, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  That’s Proverbs.”

Good old Proverbs.  Proverbs and Romans are my stomping grounds.  Another Proverb says that you should not only get wisdom, but that you must have understanding of that wisdom.  Knowing the square root of pi doesn’t mean you know how to apply it to anything useful, and what good is knowing 1.772453850905516027298167483314 if you don’t know what it means, or how to get there? 

So, I said to Thor, “That is the truth.”  And I asked him, “How are you going to use that?”

He still wasn’t sure, so I offered some understanding of the wisdom.  “You can use your words to make people feel good, and seeing that you have made someone happy will make you happy. 

“How about you tell one of your teachers thank you for taking such good care of you?  And, how about you tell one of your friends what you like about him?  And, if you think someone is good at a game, why don’t you say so?  Then, you’ll make someone else’s day good, and that will help make your day good.”

He liked that.  I like that.

I’m not telling you I am always on top of this.  I’m telling you that I let life get to me last week, and I ignored a lot of opportunities to turn my attitude around because it felt better (or at least easier) to wallow.  But I have it back on track this week.  I started with apologizing to someone for an overreaction I had.  As I explained to Thor, “Sometimes, you realize you were wrong a few days later.  You still have to bite that bullet and go say so.”

Summing up:

The goodness of my day=my responsibility


What is Sexy: Part Five and Final

In just a couple of days, on May 22, you’ll see The Outside Lane featured on theNickelodeon Parents Connect Sexy Mama Boot Camp.  Leading up to that, I’d like to introduce you (and any new readers) to some things I think are sexy.

1.  Taking care of yourself is sexy.

The older I get, the more truth I find in the addage, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  And, mama can’t be happy if she is sick, tired, or sad.  I find in my own family that my attitude affects everyone.  Last year, around this time, I felt like I was mired in a mess of myself and tired of making excuses for putting off taking care of Lane.

  • I had not taken time to exercise because I already had working-mother-guilt about leaving Thor in daycare, and I couldn’t stand the thought of him being in someone else’s care for even five minutes more than was absolutely necessary.  This was an excellent excuse to avoid the gym!
  • I had neglected my eating habits because I didn’t have time to shop, prepare, or cook decently.  This was an excellent reason to order pizza!
  • I had completely ignored my emotional self because I was trying to be a soldier.  This was an excellent reason to…uh…blog?

A friend’s divorce (that mirrored my parents’)  pushed me over the edge.  I was reliving the same hurt I had experienced with my parents’ nasty split, and old splinters from that broken heart were working their way into the present.  It jolted me and forced me to really take stock of what I had, and what I needed to have in order to get me through the next fifty years of my life.

Breaking points don’t have to be bad.  You remember Glow Sticks?  The only way to get anything good out of them is to break the capsule inside, release the chemical compound that catalyzes illumination, then shake like crazy.  The potential to glow is in the stick the whole time, but until you crack the hard shell surrounding the hydrogen peroxide and let it out into the phenyl oxalate ester and fluorescent dye (thanks, Bill Nye, Science Guy!), activating the potential, you’ve just got a whole lot of nothing at all.

I think a lot about glow sticks when I’m having a rough patch.  How will I shake up what’s been broken, so that instead of being bitter, I can be brighter?  Sounds corny, doesn’t it?  Rave on!

Last year, I quit making excuses for not taking care of myself. 

I got into therapy, joined Weight Watchers, started working the menus I had through my membership to JulieAnneRhodes.com, and I hit the gym.  I worked on healing my heart, my health, and the circumference of my hips.  I swam laps.  I did yoga.  I substituted apples for Doritos.  I went for long walks with my family.  I changed jobs.  I made changes in relationships.  I learned to say no to other people, and yes to myself without guilt.  And I like to think I am brighter for it.  I know I’m happier.  I know I’m healthier.

Following is a list I can highly recommend for sexy, sexy self-improvement.  Some of it is local to me (in Dallas/Fort Worth), but it’s a starting place of what to look for if you’re outside the area.  Take care of you, Boo.  No one else is going to do it for you, but everyone around you will benefit when you get started.