They’re our closest neighbors.
June 15, 2013
They’re our closest neighbors.
June 15, 2013
An examination of our most dangerous eating utensil: the fork.
June 3, 2013
The desert is a hot, dry place and sand and sunshine are everywhere.
And the desert is the best place to get dessert, all kinds of sweets can be found there.
You’ll find Cactus Cakes, Tumbleweed Twists, Melted Ice Cream, Butter-brickle Brambles, and Dusty Cup Cakes.
And no one made better Dusty Cup Cakes than ol’ Toothless Jeb of the Okie Dokey Corral.
“Toothless” was a bit of a misnomer. You see, Jeb had plenty of teeth but when you’re an alligator like Jeb, 43 teeth doesn’t seem like a lot.
Each morning Toothless Jeb would set out his daily batch of Cup Cakes on the window sill of his store and open the window to let the wind sprinkle them with the sugar dust that blew in across the Pixie Dust Prairie.
Well, one morning wouldn’t you know it, along came A Cupcake Thief who called himself Cowboy X and Cowboy X stole those Cup Cakes and took off screaming “Cowboy X Yeee Haaw!”
A few miles down the road, Cowboy X came across what looked to be a mound of rags on the side of the trail. But it began to move! And low and behold it stood up and it was a person! A Cowgirl named Barstow Barbara, a wallaby.
“Well, howdy partner.” Barb said. “I’m Barstow Barbara. Or, that’s the name I go by. My name is Magill, I call myself Lill, but everyone knows me as Nancy. Nevertheless, the name I go by is Barstow Barbara.”
“Well, that’s clear as mud.” Said Cowboy X. “All around town my name is Mudd. But I go by the name of Cowboy X. You can call me X.”
“Well, X, I’ve been out on this here trail for a mighty long time. It seems since early this morning anyway, and I sure could use a nice refreshing Cup Cake. Could you borrow me a Cup Cake there partner? Whattya say?”
“Well, you mean will I LOAN you a cupcake.”
“I’m pretty sure what I meant,” said Barbara, “and I guess you got the gist of what I meant but what’s the difference?”
“Well I would do the loaning and you’d do the borrowing.” Said X.
“That’s great! Thanks.” Said Barbara.
“Now hold on a right darn rootin’ tootin’ New York Minute there, Ms. Magill Call Yourself Lill Everyone Knows You As Nancy and Goes By Barstow Barbara! I didn’t agree to any sort of loaning agreement by any means or terms between myself or any such party.”
“Look here X, I never did once celebrate anything nor have I partook in any party in my life. Not even one of my birthdays of which there have been several. All I wanted was for me to BORROW and you to LOAN me a Cup Cake. And that’s the end of that. Whattya say?”
Cowboy X scratched at his scruffy beard.
“Well, Barbara. I wish I could. I do. But the way I see it, for me to loan you a Cup Cake would require you to then give me back that same aforementioned Cup Cake. The self same and identical Cup Cake. Being the case that you would like to eat the Cake in question,”
“The Cup Cake, yes.” She interrupted.
“That is correct. The Cup Cake. Being that you would like to eat the Cup Cake. I don’t see how any lending would be possible in this here instance. Good day.” And Cowboy X walked away.
A short distance later, Barstow Barbara ran up alongside X.
“Sir, if I might borrow a moment of your time.” She said.
He glared at her.
“I’m sorry, X. I mean: if I could have a moment of your time…..”
“It is granted. Speak.” He stopped.
“How about we find a middle ground. A compromise as it were.”
“How about if we agreed for you to GIVE me a Cup Cake.”
Cowboy X considered for a moment then said,
“That would lessen my number of Cup Cakes by one.” He said, doing some math in his head.
“Your number would decrease, X, yes. This I do not debate. However, the total amount of Cup Cakes in general would remain the same.” said Barbara.
“The logic is sound.” Said X, “yet still my access to that particular Cup Cake would certainly diminish to the point of absolute zero as you ate that Cup Cake!” He said feeling quite satisfied.
“But, dear sir, you would still have all of your remaining Cup Cakes. From your perspective you would have 100% of the Cup Cakes and as I finished my Cup Cake not only would I have none of your Cup Cakes, I wouldn’t even have any of my ONE Cup Cake any longer. I would have no Cup Cakes and you would have them all.” She cleared her throat. “The bottom line Mr. X, is that in this scenario you would come out on top and in the end I would again have nothing but the rags on my back.” She folded her arms feeling quite accomplished.
Mr. X stood silent deep in thought.
“Aha! I’ve got it! We’ve been so bogged down in the specifics of who gets what and whatnot that we’ve completely overlooked the idea of you buying a Cup Cake from me.”
Mr. X exclaimed.
“Well, how much would a Cup Cake cost?”
“Actually, they’re not for sale. Sorry. It was just an idea. No harm in sharing ideas!” He said.
“Absolutely. No bad ideas in a brainstorm, that’s what Lill always says.” She said.
“Who’s Lill?” Cowboy X asked.
“Me. I call myself Lill.”
“That’s right. I’d forgotten that. Strange that everyone knows you as Nancy.” He stared off into the distance.
“Oh, that’s just because I look like my twin brother Nancy.” Barbara said.
“Nancy huh? And what does he go by?”
“He doesn’t. He’s largely unknown. He’s a struggling artist, writes anonymously, is often misquoted, dresses in disguises, is largely forgettable, and his cooking is terrible. All in all, Nancy is hardly a Nancy or any other name at all.”
“I see.” Said X. “Well, nice to have met you. Good day.” And he walked away.
A short distance down the road Barstow Barbara ran up alongside Cowboy X.
“Pardon me, X, but you said your Cup Cakes weren’t for sale.”
“That is correct Ma’am.”
“Well, how about trading?” She asked.
Cowboy X stopped. “A trade you say?”
“Yes. A trade. Fair and square. I’ll trade you a dollar for a Cup Cake.”
“Trade me a dollar for a Cup Cake huh? That sounds a lot like a retail transaction. Are you speaking of a purchase per chance?”
“I suppose you could look at it that way.” She said. “But that would only be if you wanted to use the dollar as a dollar. If you just wanted a piece of paper to turn into a paper airplane, a dollar bill would suffice and no ‘money’ would have exchanged hands. Suffice it to say, money that is not used as money is just a thing. A thing you could trade.”
“So,” X stopped walking, “If I wanted something shiny to look at and you gave me four quarters for a Cup Cake that would be a trade?”
“Absolutely.” She said.
“Okay. Let’s do it!” X said and held out his hand. He loved shiny things.
“Actually, I don’t have four quarters. I just have this dollar bill.” She held out her stiff crisp new dollar bill, just ready to be made into a paper airplane. “Do you have change for a dollar?” She asked.
“No!” He exclaimed. “I’ve only got my one quarter. It’s the last one I got!”
“Wow.” said Barbara staring at the quarter. “That is pretty shiny.” She liked shiny things too.
“Now, if you don’t mind…I’ve got to get moving along Barbara. You see, I’ve only recently stolen these Cup Cakes and I need to high tail it along the dusty trail before the sheriff comes looking for me.” Cowboy X turned to leave. “Oh, Barbara, before I leave: why do you call yourself Lill?”
“It works whether I’m talking to myself or talking to myself in the mirror.” She said.
“Because Lill is Llil backwards.”
“That’s right!” She said beaming.
“I think I’m beginning to understand you, Barbara. Good day.” And Cowboy X walked away.
Finally Barstow Barbara caught up with him again.
“You again!?” X said quite exasperated. “Why don’t you just leave me alone?”
“Because I am really very hungry! I haven’t eaten all morning!”
X looked at his watch. “It’s only 9 O’Clock!”
“Yes, but it’s late afternoon in France.”
“But we’re not in France!” Yelled X.
“Very convenient for you, isn’t it?” Barbara said flatly and crossed her arms.
“You’re full of nonsense!” Cowboy X grumbled and pulled his cowboy hat over his ears.
“My empty stomach stands in direct contradiction!” She answered and was so pleased with herself that she shook her rags and did a deep curtsy before finishing with a pirouette.
“I will not loan, sell, or trade you any of these Cup Cakes! Not one, not some….and not all!…I know you’d ask.” X hitched up his overalls and spat on the sugary ground for emphasis.
“How about a bet?” Barbara offered.
“Hmmm. What do I get if I win?”
“All of your Cup Cakes.”
“What if you win?”
“I get one of your Cup Cakes.”
“I like those terms. What’s the wager?”
“That you can’t guess what day my birthday is on.”
“Well, let’s see here. There’s 365 days in a year and one of those days would have to be your birthday….I like those odds. Okay.”
Cowboy X set down his Cup Cakes and they shook on the bet.
“Well,” X said. “Using logic, I may be able to figure this out. Let’s see: you’ve already told me that you don’t celebrate your birthday and you don’t seem to be celebrating. However, subconsciously you may secretly want to somehow recognize that it’s your birthday…perhaps by eating a Cup Cake…and you certainly have been showing interest in my Cup Cakes today. And you seem to be the sneaky kind of wallaby that would choose a bet like this on her birthday just as a joke to herself…So…Using logic, reason, the power of deduction and insight and powered by intuition and my knowledge of you…I’m going to guess that your birthday is today.”
Barbara raised her eyebrows. “Cowboy X…It is indeed my birthday…BUT! But the question was ‘what day was my birthday?’ so what day is it today?”
“Nope. Today is Tuesday.”
Cowboy X threw his hat on the ground. “Dagnabbit!” He yelled. “This week has been going by so slow!”
Barbara laughed and laughed and held out her hand, very satisfied with herself.
Cowboy X thought quickly. “But! Wait! What about we go double or nothing. If you win, you get two of my Cup Cakes and if I win, I get to keep all of my Cup Cakes.”
“I like the terms.” Said Barbara. “What’s the bet?”
“That you can’t guess any day of the year that is NOT my birthday.” Said Cowboy X.
“Well, there’s 365 days in a year and most people I know, wallabies or not, are born only on one day…So…I like my odds! You’ve got a bet!” And Barbara shook X’s hand.
“I will guess that your birthday is not today.”
“Sorry.” Said Cowboy X. He yanked the Cup Cake back from Barbara and walked away.
A short distance later, Barbara ran up to X.
“Okay, X: you won’t lend, sell, trade a cup cake. And I’ve tried my best at betting you for one. How about I EARN a cup cake?”
“Well, that would depend on what you would do to earn a Cup Cake.”
“I could teach you how to climb a cactus!” She said.
“Well, that would be a very valuable skill to acquire. For, high atop the lofty cactus I would be able to espy the afar Sheriff on yonder and then turn and high tail it in the opposite direction, thus putting space and hence time between us. Bottom line is: I hire you for the wage of ONE CUP CAKE and by extension buy myself freedom AND the rest of my Cup Cakes.” Cowboy X tugged at his beard in thought. “Okay. You’ve got it Barbara. Teach away. I am your pliant and willing disciple.”
Barbara walked X to the base of the tallest cactus in the Dessert Desert, just West of the Pixie Dust Prairie.
“This here cactus will serve as our classroom.” She said and took out a small notebook and a big pencil. “What you will want to do is grab your arms around the cactus and slowly shimmy up it until you get to the very tippy top and then sit down.”
“By the sounds of it, that will be very difficult, Barbara.”
“I never promised you a rose garden, X. Now get going. Class starts now!”
And Cowboy X grabbed onto the cactus “Ouch!” and started climbing “OUCH!” and kept climbing “Ouchyouchyouchyouchyouchy!” until he got to the tippy top and sat down.
“Very good, X! You get an A Plus!” Barbara yelled up and grabbed her Cup Cake.
Before she could take a bite, X called down: “How do I get down?!”
But he was VERY HIGH UP and it was hard to hear what he said.
“WHAT?” Barbara yelled back up to him.
“HOW DO I GET DOWN FROM HERE?” He yelled very loudly.
Barbara yelled back very very loudly: “YOU JUMP!”
And Barbara laughed and laughed and laughed. She was about to take a bite of her delicious Cup Cake when all of a sudden: SPLAT!
Cowboy X jumped down from the tippy top and landed on all of his other Cup Cakes which broke his fall quite nicely because there were a lot of Cup Cakes and they all had a lot of very fluffy frosting on them.
Barbara was a bit surprised. “X, you look very happy!”
“Of course I am happy!” He said. “I got to see the most amazing thing ever. It was just amazing……”
Barbara was silent for a while and was about to take a bite out of her Cup Cake when curiosity got the best of her.
“What was it?”
“Well, I can’t really describe it. You’d have to see it yourself.”
“Well show me it!” She said excitedly. She hoped it was shiny. Barbara really liked shiny things.
“I wish I could. But you can’t see it from here. I could only see it from up there.” Cowboy X pointed up.
“Up there?” Barbara questioned questioningly.
“Yup. I could only see it from up there. And it was pretty amazing. Really.You may never have seen it yourself it all your life.” Cowboy X said as he brushed off the fluffy frosting from his coveralls.
“Well I want to see it!” Barbara exclaimed.
“Well get on up there then!” Cowboy X encouraged.
“Will you hold my Cup Cake?” She asked.
“You won’t eat it will you?”
“Not even a little bit.”
“It’s just that I earned this Cup Cake. I earned it fair and square through work, okay? It’s mine. This Cup Cake is my wage. I don’t want to have a labor dispute with you. I like you Cowboy X, I do. You’re professional, you’re a natural leader. I wouldn’t say you’re a friend per se, but as much as you were my student you were my boss. And I think that we had a good rapport as a supervisor and employee.”
“I agree, Barbara. I totally agree.”
“So please. Don’t sour this experience for me okay? I’ve wanted a Cup Cake all morning and this solitary and singular Cup Cake is all I want in life right now. It’s the only thing I’ve got going for myself. Look at me. I’m covered in rags! And this notebook and pencil are really just props. The notebook doesn’t have any paper in it and the pencil is really dull–they’re just for show, you know…To make me look the part of a teacher for when I teach people how to climb cacti. You know. So please. Cowboy X….don’t…just…please don’t eat my Cup Cake.”
“Sure thing Barbara now climb up that cactus.”
She handed X the Cup Cake and started climbing.
It hurt. It hurt really bad.
And as an aside, just me to you: don’t ever try to climb a cactus. It is horrifically painful and possibly life threatening.
When Barbara got to the tippy top and sat down she looked around.
“Cowboy X? What was it? What was it that you saw up here? That I had never seen before and you could only see from up here?”
“The top of your head!”
And Cowboy X laughed and laughed and laughed through a mouthful of Cup Cake.
“Cowboy X! Yeeeee Haaaw!”
And Cowboy X ran away across the Dessert Desert.
After a couple of hours Barbara saw two figures coming from a long distance away, their shadows laying long ahead of them. In a couple more hours, the Sheriff and Toothless Jeb stood at the foot of the cactus.
“Who’s up there?” Toothless Jeb yelled up.
“It’s me! Barstow Barbara!” She yelled down.
“Oh. That’s the girl named Magill who calls herself Lill but everyone knows her as Nancy.”
Said the Sheriff.
“Whatcha doing at the tippy top of that cactus?” The Sheriff asked.
“Don’t ask!” She called back down.
Thankfully Toothless Jeb had brought a basket of Cup Cakes that he laid down so that Barbara could jump down into them. They were very shock absorbent.
“What are you two doing way out here in the Dessert Desert anyway?” Barbara asked thinking she was pretty lucky they came along.
“Oh, we’ve been looking for a Cup Cake Thief.” The Sheriff said and he pulled out a Wanted Poster with a picture of Cowboy X on it. “His name is Nancy, he calls himself X, and all around town his name is Mudd.”
Barbara scratched her head. “Not a bad looking guy, is he?”
“Meh. His looks are pretty forgettable.” said Jeb.
“Yeah,” said the Sheriff “and his cooking is terrible.”
May 31, 2013
There once was a tree, a tree, a tree
as big as any tree could be.
It had bark and roots and leaves and leaves
and all around flew big bright bees.
the honeybees buzzed
and that was all because because
the tree was happy and jolly and lovely
and the sun shone down from above-y above-y.
The tree was oak, okey doke
and it could always tell you a funny joke!
Like: “What’s the difference between me and yew?
The tree told jokes, not necessarily good ones.
From that oak there fell two acorns.
Two wonderful acorns named Tammi and Sammi.
And they were friends.
Tammi loved Sammi and Sammi loved Tammi and they loved
love and loved a lot. They were acorns.
Tammi said to Sammi:
“I like your brown-ness, your roundness, your all around mound-ness.
You’re beautiful Sammi, and I am your friend.”
And Sammi said to Tammi:
“I like your ability to soundly express
your political views with ease and kindness.
You’re beautiful Tammi, and I am your friend.”
They sat next to one another on that sunny hillside
and to one another they each would confide
their secrets and things that would made themselves cry
and their dreams and their longings and made their hearts fly.
Sammi and Tammi were acorns and were friendly.
Tammi and Sammi were acorns and lovely.
Then, one night, one stormy night a storm
appeared and did perform
a sight to see! that scared the acorns.
A BOOM and a flash
And lightning crashed
And rain came pouring down.
A storm in the night
and a shivering fright
and scary lights and sounds.
And in the morning Tammi was gone.
Sammi looked everywhere and asked the neighboring flowers
but no one had seen Tammi.
And Sammi was sad.
For Sammi it seemed that rainclouds hung over her everyday.
Sammi learned that she would feel better when she swept the side of the hill.
She would use a little broom to sweep all the blades of grass into a pretty little pattern and she would feel better. For a little while.
Then she asked her friend Chippy The Chipmunk to help her brush all the flowers’ stems into pretty little rows and she felt better. For a little while.
Then Chippy brought over more Chipmunk chums to help Sammi along and she felt better. For a little while.
Then Chippy The Chipmunk tied a broom to a kite
and Sammi sailed it high to the highest height
and wouldn’t you know it that by and by
that broom-kite swept the clouds from the sky!
And Sammi felt better.
Guess for how long….A little while.
And then one night a big storm started brewing
and the crows stopped cawing and the pigeons stopped cooing.
And the lightning started with a BOOM and a CRACK
and Sammi thought: ‘would you look at that?’
To her, the lightning looked different.
Like pretty, like special, like magic.
And Sammi sighed.
And Sammi whispered:
“Tammi, I love you and always had loved you. Wherever you are, I love you.”
and Sammi took root.
May 28, 2013
Take the Metro Rail to the Rosslyn Station.
Metro Rail Map:
Upon exiting the station, head North on N. Lynn Street.
You’ll go a couple of blocks, cross Custis Memorial Parkway.
As soon as you are on the North side of the Memorial Parkway
turn Right onto the Mount Vernon Trail bike/hiking path.
You’ll soon see the foot bridge to the island on your left.
May 13, 2013
This is a story. A story about Crooked Bill.
If, as the story goes along, you find yourself uninterested by it you are welcome to change the names of the characters and the actions they undertake until you find it more pleasing.
That’s a little trick that you can use the next time some one begins to tell you “how their day was.” The minute you begin to feel bored just replace “Me and Tim” with “A Dragon and a Robot” and replace “went to eat tacos” with “went to Jupiter to investigate a newly discovered species of penguin.”
But back to Crooked Bill.
It’s a story that’s never been heard before and I know that for certain because it’s never been told before so if it seems familiar it may just be that you had the same dream that I did which inspired the story. But don’t worry! Although you and I may have shared the same dream we may have awoke at different times during the dream so your ‘ending’ might be different than mine.
So anyway, The Story of Crooked Bill.
Are you getting tired yet? It looks like it. Did I just see you yawn? Hmmm.
Can you yawn? How big can you yawn? Wow. That was a big yawn. It was such a great yawn in fact I’m about to yawn myself! Yaaaaaawwwwnn! Whew. That felt good.
Crooked Bill got mistaken for Ethan Hawke a lot. It wasn’t so much that they looked alike as it was that they shared the same smile. Or I should say, “type of smile.”
It would be very troublesome for someone to have to come over to your house, knock on the door, and say “Sorry to bother you, but I just heard a great joke and need to smile. May I borrow yours?” “Well, certainly you may borrow it. But I will need it back tomorrow morning because I plan on looking at the birds.”
And the story of Crooked Bill gets mistaken for a lot of other stories.
Some think it is about a Toucan (because toucans are birds with big crooked bills, you see). Some think it is about an Albatross who lived in the Land Of Black Hole Potholes where time fluctuated like a roller coaster and the days were as crooked as the day is long.
But, no! This is the Story of Crooked Bill and Bill was a Chickadee.
When he was little, he was very little. He was little even compared to other Chickadees and was so small that he was about the size of a Bumblebee.
In fact some of the other Chickadees were not very nice and would say that Bill was more a Chicka-Bee than a Chickadee. Bill didn’t like it when others said unkind things and he would feel sad when they teased him.
Then Bill met Hush.
Hush was a Scarecrow who was very nice. He had a very pleasant smile painted on his face and although he never said a single word, he always had his arms opened wide to give the whole corn field a big hug.
Bill told Hush about all his favorite things.
What are some of your favorite things?
Every person has different favorite things and Chickadees are no different.
Bill’s favorite things were: seeds, insects, and berries.
As the summers and winters went by, Bill wondered where all the Autumns and Springs had gone to, but he realized that time had a way of slipping away like that and soon enough even his Tuesdays and Afternoons in general disappeared.
He matured, grew, learned, failed, tried again, became stronger, made mistakes, got teased more, became wiser, made bad decisions, made new goals, and on and on.
He tried ballet dancing, painting, biochemistry, palm-reading, farming, piloting, shoe repair, hair styling, and rodeo clowning until he finally he found himself playing guitar at a coffee shop.
And then, one Wednesday (which had crept up on him–golly his weeks seemed to zip right by) he discovered the blues.
Blues music is a type of music that even though it sounds like someone’s heart is breaking you feel better by the end of the song.
Bill traveled the countryside playing blues on his guitar and came up with the name Crooked Bill to perform under.
He chose Crooked Bill because of the winding path he took in life before he discovered the blues.
He became very famous in Topeka and Omaha and almost famous in Oklahoma City.
Crooked Bill loved to hear the sound of the audience’s applause.
“Yay! Crooked Bill! Go go go!” “We love Crooked Bill!” “Yippee! Hip hip hooray!”
The audiences would say.
And Bill became older, as all Chickadees do as time goes by and the people who came to see his concerts became older, quieter, and fewer.
One night after a show, Bill got on the last train out of town.
“Choo! Choo!” Said the train as it closed it’s doors.
“Chugga Chugga” It said as it started slowly down the tracks.
The next day Bill hopped off the train and walked down a quiet old highway past the crossroads. There he stopped and pulled his guitar from its case and began singin’
and a strummin’:
“Don’t need me no money
Sure don’t pay no rent
Cuz underneath stars honey
Is where I lay head.
Don’t need me no money
Got nuthin’ to call my own
Cuz underneath stars honey
A bird can feel at home.”
The corn stalks clapped against each other in the wind
and Hush had a big ol’ smile.
Anywho, that’s how my dream about Bill ended.
May 9, 2013
Iron Man 3 is a fine film. I got a kick out of it and so did the group of comics fans sitting behind me in the theater. (It’s always fun to see a Marvel movie with other comics folks around.)
Here’s some ideas on the movie including how it could have been even a better movie.
1. Don’t start a movie with the Eiffel 65 song “Blue” for any reason. This will definitely be included in YouTube’s CinemaSins video.
2. ….But this song is part of a larger problem: it is included in the “1999 Preface” scenes.
This whole section is unneeded but more on that later. So “Blue” was chosen to ‘set the mood’ of late 1999. Uh. I get it but isn’t “Blue” the one song of 1999 that everyone would rather forget? There are many better choices of song from 1999!
“Scar Tissue” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers,
“Hard Knock Life” by Jay Z,
“Last Kiss” by Pearl Jam,
“Miami” by Will Smith!
You might not want to include the chorus, because the movie later uses Miami as a backdrop but it could be a nice choice to use just a verse.
3. But again: this is all pretty moot because the whole intro 1999 Preface is unhelpful to the film. It is slow, it adds little new or surprising information about Tony. When we see Happy, I thought “Hmmm. Jon Favreau is wearing a costume to add weight as though he was heavier in 1999. Nope. That’s just him, as we see when we come to current day.
4. We need some consistency about Tony’s alcoholism. We see him drinking alone in his wine cellar, and later he refuses beer from Trevor Slattery. No one every makes reference to Tony’s drinking nor does the film seem to acknowledge it in any way. Even the scene where Tony goes to the honky tonk bar and speaks with the drunken grieving mother there isn’t a glimpse of Tony judging or reacting to her appearance nor does the camera work seem to acknowledge it.
5. Happy’s relationship to everyone is hampered by his one-note characterization as an “overly protective goof ball with inflated sense of importance.” Hey! Happy has been in all the movies and he is gravely injured in this film. We would care about it a little more if someone ever gave him some dignity before the bomb went off. He actually does some ‘detective work’ by following a lead and placing himself at risk to get to the bottom of a hunch. That’s cool. But we need to see him in a positive light before this. If Pepper or Tony saw him as ‘cool’ or the script gave him something other than goof balling around we would have.
6. There are two instances of the gag “Cliche is said and it is revealed that its meaning is not understood.” Sheesh. In the initial voiceover from Tony he says “We create our own demons” and then backs away from it and basically says he doesn’t understand it and it has no meaning. Then, Killian says to Pepper something like “We see victory through the fog of failure.” and she says “What does that mean?” and he basically shrugs.
Uh. How smart are our heroes? Why use a cliche if only to expose that cliches are stupid–and then have your main characters be too stupid to get them anyway?
Waste not want not! Wait. Is that pertinent here?
7. Why do Tony and Rhodie hang out at what looks to be a Chilis or a TGIFridays?
8. Why is Pepper with Tony? This question is not handled too well. We get that Pepper has motivated Tony to choose monogamy and ‘settle down’ a bit and she has given him motivation to be a hero (more on that….). But why does this very smart, powerful, beautiful woman love Tony? She are shown that perhaps they have a lot of physical attraction but that is about it. Instead of showing us examples of their relationship, they are separated for much of the movie and they are simply shown
b) post coital sleeping
c) witty bantering
9. And Tony is her ‘hero.’ She takes the role of Princess Peach for the last act of the film (ugh) and Tony tells her that “after New York” he feels a lot of pressure to “protect her.” Tony is a knuckle head so we can understand that he needs to feel that he gets his identity as his girlfriend’s “strong protector.” Uhhh…But!
10. I love that Pepper steps up and is awesome. She dons the suit well, and when she’s Extremis powered she saves Tony. I love that. (I’ll not get into the issue of Pepper stepping into heroism through violence here but that’s a good discussion to have.)
11. We’re given a Christmas themed movie in May. Why? Was the release date screwed up a bit or was the Marvel studio thinking about DVD/Netflix/Redbox release dates? Which brings me to….
12. The “Christmas Carol” theme. It begins in fact on New Years, but it is a “past flashback” sequence. We have the fireworks bookending at the end also (the blowing up suits). Tony has his Scrooge-like awakening of heart (the suit was a cocoon!) and he is a changed man. He even has his heart literally repaired. Go buy the biggest Christmas goose! Tony even tells the kids in the restaurant they look like they’re from A Christmas Carol. This is a cool repurposing of a classic ‘myth.’
13. The whole “Tony does detective work in Tennessee” is useless. He goes to investigate a lead from the Happy bombing. But then he is given the coordinates of the Mandarin’s suspected whereabouts in Miami. These scenes in Tennessee give good “Tony time.” It’s the ‘breakdown’ of the hero. He’s been defeated, he needs to regroup, and is befriended by a child who allows him to see himself in a new light. All this could still be achieved without this phony “I’m doing detective work!” stuff.
14. There is a big missed chance at the end of the film. The Tennessee Kid walks into his garage and finds that Tony has gifted him a bunch of expensive name brand gadgets. He’s even left a note! Uh. Wait. The Kid already has been left by a father and isn’t this just a little bit like an absent father trying to buy their redemption with a kid?
I suggest that it could be shown that the kid and his mom are sitting around in a renovated garage video chatting with Tony who then introduces Pepper to “his friend.” This way we see that Tony is continuing a relationship, and Pepper and he can be a type of extended family with the Kid all under the supervision of the Kid’s mom. It would have been a five second shot and it would have shown us more of a changed Tony and been more meaningful.
So: In closing my favorite line of the film was one that seems easy to miss.
It’s when the Kid says “I’m cold” and Tony says “I know. How’d I know that? Because we’re connected.”
This sums up the movie’s themes pretty well. We see Tony communicating with his near symbiotic suit through the film and yet he is often disconnected from those people around him–especially Pepper. But it is empathy and compassion that are the most powerful assets that we can have. As cool as it might be to communicate with gadgets and technologies and A.I., without human empathy we’re lost.
By the way, despite the weakness of this film I did like it. Especially the falling out of the airplane rescue.
Excellent to-the-point essay on the Christmas Carol theme from Forrest Wickman: