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Restaurant Review: Maccheroni Republic

A couple of weeks ago, Matt and I had literally the best meal I have ever eaten. I say that with no hyperbole, knowing that to make such a bold claim is a big effing deal. Well, this was one effing delicious meal. Maccheroni Republic is located downtown on Broadway, between 3rd and 4th. We went to eat there before we saw Something Rotten at the Ahmanson, and walked from the Music Center parking lot to the restaurant (we actually walked around downtown all day, and this is where we ended up). It’s not a short walk by LA standards, but it’s definitely doable and totally worth not having to park downtown twice. The restaurant is not in the greatest location downtown, but it’s tucked away and feels private enough that it doesn’t matter. They do not take reservations, so be prepared for a little bit of a wait (though we went at 5:30 to have plenty of time to eat and get to the theater and there was no wait). The most important thing is to come hungry.

We started out with a bottle of Malbec, which I tend to forget about a lot of the time, but every time I have it, I remember how smooth and delicious it is. I love that it is served in old school glasses, true Italian style.

The menu is very simple, just straight up delectable sounding pastas.

Matt had the Bigoli Della Nonna, which looks like spaghetti and meat sauce, but is so so so much more than that. The sauce was insanely good.

I had the Tortelloni Burro E Salvia and it was one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth (don’t be dirty). Guys, this pasta melted in my mouth. Every bite I took was more delicious than the last. The handmade pasta makes such a huge difference in the overall quality of the dish, and when you combine that with the sauce and the cheese…let’s just say I was in pasta-lovers heaven.

For dessert we had the Apple Tart and it was just as amazing as it looks. You can’t go wrong with apples and caramel. Not only was the entire meal so incredibly scrumptious, but our total bill including tip was under $100. That’s a bottle of wine, two entrees, and a dessert, plus tip for under $100. For a meal for two downtown, and one as good as this, that is a freakin’ steal.

This is the one and only time I have been to Maccheroni Republic, but I will literally be going back to this place for every single special occasion I have for the rest of my life. This is my new favorite restaurant, and I am seriously counting down until my next chance to visit. If you are going to be downtown, this stop is a must. You will not be disappointed!

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18 Things to Accomplish in 2018

Hello friends! It’s hard to believe, but we are already in the middle of January. It’s that time when everyone makes their resolutions and sets goals for the year, and this year I wanted to try something different. I often set goals at the beginning of the year that are vague and unspecific, and also many times are not totally within my control. This year I decided to come up with some more concrete actions to take throughout the year. Things that I can measure and actually check off my list as I accomplish them. I think accomplish is the important word. These are all things I have full control over, it’s just a matter of me actually getting off my ass and doing them. So that’s the plan! Get off my ass and do it! Here is my list!

I think most of these bad boys are pretty self-explanatory, but some of the ones I want to focus on are reading all the books I own, and finishing revising/writing my manuscripts. I probably own at least thirty books that I haven’t read yet, and right now, I am broke as a joke, so no more buying new books allowed! Making this one of my things to accomplish will hopefully help me control my book spending. Now, I will receive at least one new book a month from Owl Crate, plus any more that I am offered in exchange for reviews. Those will get added to the list. I also really want to focus on finishing my writing works in progress because I am really looking to grow my income (see broke as a joke, above) and this could be one possible way to do that.

In addition to focusing on work tasks, I also have some home organization goals to complete. I started a mini makeover on our living room and kitchen last year, but I still have a few projects to finish to complete the look. I also really need to do some serious organization in my office so that I have a functional space. Along with that, I need to dedicate some more time to crafting this year as I hardly did any last year. Not only does crafting relax me, but my DIY posts continue to be some of my most popular, so I need to come up with more!

I want to post at least one selfie or video a week to one of my (too many) Instagram accounts for a couple of reasons. Mainly, I just want to become more comfortable with putting myself out there and speaking in front of people. Even though it’s not actually speaking to people, it still kind of counts. I also know that when I make the time to do these videos or photos, I make sure to take care of myself a little better, and that’s always a bonus.

I’m looking forward to some new adventures, and really looking forward to accomplishing some major goals! Here’s to making 2018 a productive year! What are you hoping to accomplish this year?

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MCU Chronological Viewing Part Three: Thor, Avengers, and Iron Man 3

Aaaaand we’re back! I’ve been making some steady progress on my MCU checklist and I have another round up to share with you today. If you are new to this series, you can see the original post here, Part One here, and Part Two here. I was especially excited for this leg of the race as it meant I got to watch two movies featuring my second husband, Chris Hemsworth. And like a bad, bad wife, I had never seen the original Thor. Gasp. But all that has been remedied now, and I am happy to report that this section fared much better in my mind that Part Two. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on Thor, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3.


The Basics: Released in 2011 by Paramount, Thor stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins. It appears to be the last of the MCU not fully distributed by Disney, which may account for some of the low budge aspects to the film. As of this posting, Thor is available to rent on Amazon for $3.99

Important Plot Points: Though this is the first of the Thor movies, it is not really a creation story like many of the others in that Thor didn’t undergo any kind of transformation. He has always been the God of Thunder. In the beginning of the film, Thor is an egotistical ass who is about to take over the throne of Asgard from his father Odin. Odin doesn’t like that Thor wages an ill-advised battle without consulting him, and so Odin casts Thor out and sends him to Earth, along with taking away his hammer. On Earth, Thor meets Jane (Portman) an astrophysicist and they of course, fall in love. Back on Asgard, Loki realizes that he was born a Frost Giant and is not actually his father’s biological son. Thor’s friends start to think that Loki might have had something to do with Thor being cast down to Earth. Loki sets up a plot to have both his father and Thor killed. Thor battles the Destroyer, the giant metal robot guy Loki sent to kill him, with the help of his friends from Asgard. Back on his home planet, Thor battles Loki, who ends up falling off the broken Bifrost bridge (meaning Loki has fallen off into the ethers, and Thor can no longer travel to Earth). Coulson is also involved in this movie, as SHIELD is investigating the site of Thor’s hammer crash-landing on Earth. We also meet Barton for the first time.

End Credits Scene: Fury is showing Jane’s mentor, Erik Selvig, the Tesseract and explaining some of its dangers and powers. We see that Loki is actually possessing Selvig.

My Reaction: I didn’t hate this one as much as I thought I would. Based on how much I don’t like some of the other earlier films, I thought I would have more issues with this film, but overall, it was okay. It is very surface level in terms of character development, and I could have used another 20-30 minutes exploring Thor’s transformation from narcissistic asshole to worthy hero. I also think there should have been more development in terms of the relationship between Thor and Jane. While I love Natalie Portman, and I am all about showing a woman astrophysicist, I found Jane to mostly be annoying. In particular, I hated how giggly she was every time she was in Thor’s presence. I mean, I totally get being overcome by the gorgeousness that is Chris Hemsworth, but I was not a fan of the scatter-brained schoolgirl traits this educated, intelligent woman displayed. One of my favorite parts of the movie was seeing the beginning of the relationship between Thor and Loki, since it is so central to the MCU as a whole. I am very interested to see what happens to them in Infinity War, especially since we left off on such a high note at the end of Ragnarok.

My Rating: 7.5 out of 10, not the kind of movie I’m going to watch again and again, but it was better than I expected it to be.

The Avengers

The Basics: Produced  by Paramount and distributed by Disney, The Avengers was released in 2012. The film stars pretty much everyone from the original individual films, with the major change/addition of Mark Ruffalo as Hulk. As of this posting, Avengers is available to rent on Amazon for $3.99.

Important Plot Points: At the beginning of the film, Fury and Co. are dealing with the Tesseract, which is freaking out. It becomes a portal, through which Loki enters Earth and possesses Barton and Selvig, with a few other SHIELD agents as well. The whole SHIELD facility is blown to smithereens. Fury sends Coulson and Natasha Romanoff to assemble the Avengers, who are scattered across the globe. Captain America is the first to join up, and when Coulson meets him he totally fangirls over Cap. Natasha brings in Bruce Banner, Coulson brings in Tony Stark. Cap’s first mission is to take down Loki, who is infiltrating a black tie event in Germany in order to steal some important chemical or something. Cap and Iron Man are able to bring him in, but Selvig and Barton get whatever it is that they need. Nat interrogates Loki. Bruce and Tony bond over being huge engineering nerds. Thor tries to take Loki back to Asgard so he can face justice for the crimes he committed, but the others refuse to let him go. Cap discovers that SHIELD has been attempting to harness the power of the Tesseract to make weapons, which the crew has mixed feelings about. Loki’s team of possessed agents attacks the airship that is acting as SHIELD’s base. Thor and Bruce are sent flying back down to Earth. Coulson is killed during the battle. Fury uses Coulson’s death to bring the remaining team together.The team members descend on New York, where Loki has opened a huge portal in the sky above Stark Tower. Hundreds of crazy robot things come out of the air and wreak havoc on the city. There’s a lot of fighting and destruction, leaving basically the entire city of New York decimated. Nat figures out how to close the portal, but by the time she gets in position to do so, the government has sent a huge missile to New York, figuring it is better to blow up the city than let the aliens continue to invade. Iron Man is able to grab the missile and send it through the portal, barely making it back in time before Nat closes the portal for good. Everyone survives (except for Coulson…but more on that later) and Thor takes both Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard.

End Credits Scene: This is the first movie with more than one. In the first, we see the Other (Loki’s backer) telling an unknown that challenging the humans on Earth is futile. We then see that the unknown is actually Thanos. In the final credits scene, we see the team sitting around a table at a destroyed restaurant, eating schwarma.

My Reaction: To me, this is the movie that really set the tone for all of the MCU films that follow. It is by far the most complex and interesting in the MCU up until this point, and I think this movie is responsible for a lot of the success enjoyed by the later movies in the universe. This movie has everything you could ever want: action, humor, memorable characters, and awesome effects. It gave us such memorable lines as “He’s adopted” and “I understand that reference”. It has heart, humor, and no shortage of kickass fight scenes. It set the bar that the MCU continues to meet and surpass. This movie makes me like characters I previously didn’t, namely Tony and Bruce. Seeing Tony as part of the Avengers makes him seem more human, and it makes me like him more in Iron Man 3 (more on that in a minute). This is the kind of movie that makes non-Marvel fans become fans.

My Rating: 9 out of 10, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn close.

Iron Man 3

The Basics: Released in 2013 by Disney and Paramount, Iron Man 3 stars the IM regulars, along with Rebecca Hall and Guy Pearce. At the time of this post, Iron Man 3 is available to rent on Amazon for $3.99.

Important Plot Points: The movie opens with a flashback to 1999, pre-Iron Man, when Tony Stark is just an egotistical asshole, instead of an egotistical asshole who also saves people. We see him totally dismiss a scientist who wants to work with him, Aldrich Killian, and we see him have a one night stand with another scientist, Maya. Both come back to haunt him in this movie. Back in the present day, Tony is still reeling from the events in New York that took place at the end of The Avengers, namely his near-death experience  delivering the missile into the portal and barely escaping. He is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, has been making countless suits, and starts to have panic attacks. In the meantime, a terrorist named the Mandarin is infiltrating the American airwaves and committing terrible acts against US citizens and soldiers. The government’s response is to paint Rhodey’s War Machine suit red, white, and blue and rename him the Iron Patriot. Aldrich shows up at the Stark offices for a meeting with Pepper, who he knows. Since 1999 Aldrich has turned himself into quite the business man, and he proposes Pepper invest in his latest project, Extremis. Pepper turns him down because of the potential to weaponize the project. Things are strained between Tony and Pepper, since he is working around the clock, and seems to be suffering from some kind of PTSD. Happy, who has become head of security at Stark Industries, decides to follow Aldrich’s bodyguard because he didn’t like the whole meeting between Pepper and Aldrich. While following him, Happy is lead to a meeting between Savin (the bodyguard) and a former soldier, who becomes a human bomb and blows up Graumann’s Chinese Theater, putting Happy in a coma. This blow sends Tony over the edge. He tells a group of reporters, on air, his home address, then goes home and works with Jarvis to figure out who is responsible for the explosion. They uncover a similar incident occurred in Tennessee, so Tony has Jarvis set a flight plan in his newest suit. Maya shows up at Tony’s house to warn him of an attack, which follows shortly after she shows up. Savin and his men descend on Tony’s Malibu home and destroy it. Pepper and Maya survive, mostly because Tony sends one of his suits to cover Pepper. It seems like Tony has died in the attack, but a suit finds him and flies him to Tennessee. Tony crash lands and finds a random workshop to use to fix his suit, where he meets a kid named Harley. Harley takes Tony to the site of the other explosion and then Tony meets up with the victim’s mom, who has a classified file of information prepared for someone else she is supposed to be meeting. Using all kinds of random help, Tony is able to figure out that the two former soldiers who exploded were part of the Extremis program. Meanwhile, Rhodey is hunting the Mandarin, but is led into a trap that allows the Mandarin’s men to steal his suit.  Tony successfully tracks the Mandarin to Miami, but arrives to find that the Mandarin is a front–he is a paid actor who is mostly just a sloppy drunk. He has no idea who is in charge of the operation or where he is. Savin uses the Iron Patriot suit to sneak onto Air Force One, with the full knowledge of the Vice President, to attack the President. He sends the President to Miami in the suit so that he can be strung up and publicly executed. Tony and Rhodey engage in an epic battle with the Extremis soldiers using all of the Iron Man suits Tony has created. Pepper has been captured by Aldrich and dosed with the Extremis serum, and it is she who finishes off the fight. Aldrich admits to being the Mandarin before he is killed. Tony then destroys all of the remaining suits, in an effort to show Pepper he is going to focus on her, and maybe try to get his shit together. He cures Pepper, and has surgery to remove the shrapnel from his heart, meaning he no longer needs to arc reactor to live.

End Credits Scene: We see Banner and Tony sitting together in an office, Banner is sleeping and Tony is recounting the story to him, as if he has been narrating the entire movie to Banner, who has been asleep for most of it.

My Reaction: This is definitely my favorite of the Iron Man movies, who is by no means my favorite of the Avengers. Tony felt like a real person with real problems in this movie, and his interactions with the kid Harley in particular, showed a softness to him that I think was needed. There are some pretty breathtaking moments in this movie, but the one that stands out to me is Tony using the “Barrel of Monkeys” approach to save thirteen people who have been thrown out of Air Force One. The way he manages to save them all is pretty cool looking. That along with the final battle make this one of the better looking Marvel films in terms of the action sequences. I also like how this movie picks up from the Avengers, but also ties into future projects (namely Agents of SHIELD) which will be covered in future posts. I still don’t like Gwenyth Paltrow, but I think this is the last time she appears, so that’s cool. Also, the end credits of this movie are awesome. It’s like a four minute montage of all the highlights of Iron Man, from the first movie to this one. It’s a nice little look back at all that has happened to Tony.

My Rating: 8 out of 10, Iron Man will never be my favorite, but this was the most enjoyable of his movies for me.

Holy moly, that was a long ass post. The deeper we get into the MCU, the more in depth these stories become so the longer these posts are going to be! Up next is Agents of SHIELD, so stay tuned!


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10 Things I’m Obsessed with Right Now

This post contains affiliate links.

Well folks, it is officially 2018. Damn. How did that happen? Why does time continue to speed up the older I get? Also, how am I just now realizing that I will turn THIRTY-FIVE this year? FML. But this actually has nothing to do with today’s post. I haven’t done an obsession post lately, and since we have been on a podcast hiatus, I have a bunch of cool new shit in my life that I haven’t been able to talk about. But that ends today! Here are a few of the things that have been tickling my fancy lately.

1. The Greatest Showman: I have already seen this movie twice, and I will be going again. It is my favorite movie musical since Moulin Rouge and I can’t get enough of it. In fact, it’s getting its own post soon I love it so damn much. If you walk out of this movie without a smile on your face, you have no rhythm in your soul. Not only is the movie great, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack non-stop. I act out the entire show every day in my car, and while I may not be quite as talented as Zendaya, I think I could give her a run for her money. I keep having these fantasies of randomly pulling up next to Zac Efron at a stoplight and blasting “Rewrite the Stars” and dueting with him. Totes gonna happen.

2. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Okay, so I was reluctant to try this show, available on Amazon Prime, because it beat out Oasis in the Amazon Prime Pilot Battle. And any show starring Richard Madden is a show that deserves to be picked up (in my opinion). But I decided to give it a shot, and I am so glad I did. From the creator of Gilmore Girls and starring Rachel Brosnahan, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel follows Midge, a 1950’s housewife, on her journey from jilted wife to stand up comedian. There is nothing more to say about this show other than it is feminist and fucking funny. Win win.

3. NYX Lip Gloss: I cannot stop buying these things! For one, they’re so cheap, and for two, they’re so pretty! I have like five of them, and they are all almost the exact same shade. But I love them so much I can’t stop buying them! They are super pretty and shiny and fun. Just don’t wear them if you’re planning on making out with anyone.

4. Movie Pass: I wrote a whole post about my love of Movie Pass so I won’t spend too much time on it here. Suffice to say, it is the best $10 investment I have made in a long ass time.

5. Chewie and the Porgs: Ch-ch-ch-chewie and the Porgs! Please sing that a la Benny and the Jets. I bought this book for Squirt for Christmas and it is awesome, and I love it. It also was the inspiration for our super awesome sign we made for the Rose Bowl that no one got to see because Gameday sucks. But that’s another story.

6. Something Rotten: Matt got me tickets to this show for Christmas and I loved it even more the second time. I originally saw it in New York with the OBC, who were great, but I was so excited to see Adam Pascal play Shakespeare in this production. It was so much fun and I just want to see it again and again.

7. Casting Call: Okay, how egotistical am I? I’m putting my own book on this list. Go me. But there’s a reason! I am spending some time adding to and expanding my first self-published book, and hoping to release the second edition within the next couple of months. Now that I have finished a second manuscript, and am halfway through my third, I realize that I did not give this book its due, and frankly, I can do better. And since I’ve sold like ten copies of the original, and I’m pretty sure all of those were bought by people I know, I feel like I can put a version out there that is new and improved! So stay tuned for that!

8. The Marvel Cinematic Universe: This should come as no surprise, as I have been chronicling my journey through the MCU checklist. I am getting ready to start Agents of SHIELD tonight!

9. Outlander: Okay. I’m low-key annoyed by this book. I started it like three weeks ago, and it is literally the only thing I have been reading. For three weeks. I can’t stop reading it because it’s awesome, but it is so damn long. I still have 200 pages to go! I just want to be done so I can read something else!

10. Nerdy Accessories: I recently wrote a post about repping your fandoms in your everday outfits, and since then, I have been wearing my geeky chic accessories pretty much every day.  I not only love how cute they all are, but it’s super fun when some random person recognizes one of the symbols and strikes up a conversation about our common fandom. (Okay, being a total introvert who sucks at meeting new people, this actually kind of freaks me out, but it’s way better to talk to a stranger that you have something in common with than just some rando on the street.)

Alright folks, there you have it. While I fully and wholeheartedly recommend checking out all these things for yourself, you have been warned: obsession may follow!

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Movie Pass is the Shizz

This IS NOT a sponsored post. I am receiving no compensation from this company, I just love this service so much, I want to share it with you!

If you follow me at all on social media, you might have noticed that I have been making lots of trips to the movies lately. In the past month alone, I have been to the movies four times. While I have always enjoyed going to the movies, mainly as an extension of my love of theater, I have never been what one would call a movie aficionado. I like them, I see them, but it was never what I would call a hobby. However, I discovered in recent months how much I love going to the movies alone. Now, part of this is probably because I have a toddler, so any alone time is awesome time. But in addition to that, we discovered that our local theater serves beer and wine, has great food, and has recliners. So much winning. This is what I do: on a weekday night, usually Tuesday or Wednesday, as soon as Squirt goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00, I kiss Matt goodbye and head to the Starbucks conveniently located next to my movie theater. I have a coffee and get some work done (productive alone time?????). I then walk over to theater and take in a 10:00 show. I’m not missing any time with the kiddo, I get to see a movie, and I get to kick back with a beer and a pretzel.

Now, if you have been to the movies lately, you can probably see the problem with this whole scenario. Seeing a movie a week is going to cost about $80 a month, not including said beer and pretzels. And that’s where Movie Pass comes in. Movie Pass is a subscription service like Netflix, except it gets you access to movies at participating theaters. For $9.95 a month, you can see one movie PER DAY. Holla. You literally only have to see one movie a month for the subscription to be totally worth it. Now, of course, there are some restrictions, but really, they’re not that big of a deal. The main one is that 3D movies are not included. For me, this is fine because I hate seeing movies in 3D anyway. You also cannot use Movie Pass for advance ticket purchases, so if you want to see something on opening night, you’ll have to buy your tickets the old fashioned way.  But that’s pretty much it.

Here’s how the whole deal works: Sign up for your subscription online (note: this is NOT an affiliate link, I gain nothing from you clicking or signing up!). About 7-10 days later you will receive your Movie Pass card in the mail. It looks like a debit card. Once you have your card, download the Movie Pass app, log in, and enter the last four digits on your card. Set your location on the app to see participating theaters in your area. Click on the desired theater to see the list of movie times. Click on your desired time, and then click check in. Important note: you cannot reserve your spot until you are within 100 yards of your theater. What I usually do is check Fandango first to make sure my desired movie is not sold out, and then I head over to the theater. Once you’ve checked in to your movie on the app, go to the ticket counter to pick up your actual ticket. If your theater has reserved seating, this is where you will select your seats. Then head in and enjoy the show!

Guys, please believe me when I say this subscription is worth every penny. Since I signed up for Movie Pass about a month ago, I have seen The Last Jedi, Thor, and Greatest Showman twice. I would never have spent the extra money to see Star Wars multiple times, or to see Thor for the third time. But with Movie Pass, it’s totally worth it. I am LOVING this subscription, and given how many friends I have recommended it to, I figured I should recommend it to all of you as well. If you are even just a casual movie-goer, Movie Pass is worth looking into. Their website has a list of participating theaters that you can search based on your location, which may be the only downfall for those of you in smaller towns. Being in Southern California, I have a ton of local options and have already used Movie Pass at multiple theaters.

You will hear me raving about Movie Pass all the time, I’m sure, so definitely go check it out for yourself! If you sign up, let me know! I’m happy to share my experiences with you!

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MCU Chronological Viewing Part Two: Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2

Let’s just say that leg two of the MCU race has not been nearly as enjoyable as part one. (If this is your first time checking in on my Marvel challenge, you should check out my original post here and Part One here.) I had a feeling this was going to be my least favorite section of the challenge, and so far, I was right. But a lot happens that is important to the MCU as a whole, so while I didn’t particularly enjoy these films, I’m glad I watched them. And hopefully I can give you some good notes so you don’t have to suffer like I did! Part Two:

Iron Man 

The Basics: Iron Man was actually the first project in the MCU in terms of release date, though the story of Captain America takes place first in terms of time. Released by Paramount in 2008, Iron Man stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff Bridges. At the time of publishing, Iron Man is available on Amazon Prime.

Important Plot Points: Much as the first Captain America takes us through the “creation” process for Cap, Iron Man follows much the same trajectory. The main difference is that Tony Stark creates his own superhero persona as he sees it as his only way out of a pretty dire situation (kidnapped by terrorists). Stark learns that his business partner (Bridges) has been selling weapons to terrorists, and the final showdown is between Iron Man and the guy who has basically been like a father to him. We do meet Agent Coulson in this film, and it’s our first introduction to SHIELD, which has not established its acronym yet.

End Credits Scene: After Tony admits to being Iron Man in the final scene of the movie, Nick Fury shows up at his house and tells Tony he wants to talk to him about the Avengers Initiative.

My Reaction: This was not my first time seeing Iron Man, though it has been years since I’ve watched it. I remember liking it before, but I did not love it on this re-watch. The beginning of the movie is hard to watch given the current political climate. Seeing Tony being captured by terrorists, and then learning his company has been providing said terrorists with weapons–weapons that we see are used to kill innocent people–is disturbing to say the least. I also am not a huge fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, and though many like the couple together, I found the way they constantly talked over each other to be grating. Also, it’s amazing how far we have come with graphics and tech in just the nine years between this film and Thor Ragnarok. It looks dated, which is a shame because many of the other movies have held up better.

Rating: 7 out of 10, I’m meh about the whole thing.

The Incredible Hulk

The Basics: Released by Universal just one month after Iron Man in 2008, Incredible Hulk stars Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, and William Hurt (with a random appearance by Ty Burrell). As of this posting, Incredible Hulk is available on HBO Now.

Important Plot Points: Again, like Iron Man and Captain America, this movie takes us through the creation of the Incredible Hulk. And I seriously think that is the only important part of it. Bruce Banner takes some experimental drugs and turns in a huge, green monster.

End Credits Scene: Important note if you are watching on HBO Now–the end credits scene is before the credits, not after. But the scene entails Tony Stark approaching Hulk’s former boss about the Avengers.

My Reaction: Okay. Lots of thoughts here. I pretty close to hated watching this movie for many reasons, but the main one is that because none of these actors appear in later films, it feels completely disconnected from the MCU. It also is, so far, the only movie released by Universal, which is odd and may account for why it feels disjointed. I found it hard to connect with Edward Norton’s Hulk because in my mind, Mark Ruffalo is the Hulk I know and love. I also can’t stand Ed Norton, so there’s that. I couldn’t help but notice that all of the problems in this movie stem back to narcissistic male egos. First, with General Ross, who “creates” Hulk in the first place, and then with Blonsky, who pushes the limits of the power so far he turns himself into a monster. People die because this particular group of men are egomaniacs. Eff that. Hated the plot. Didn’t like the actors. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s short.

Rating: 4 out of 10, and I feel like I’m being generous.

Iron Man 2

The Basics: The main players from the original cast return for Iron Man 2, released in 2010 by Paramount. The film stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, and Scarlett Johansson. As of this posting, the movie is available to rent from Amazon for $3.99.

Important Plot Points: The US government is trying to get a hold of the plans for the Iron Man suit so they can create an army of super soldiers (which is the same basic premise as the Hulk movie, which we all know turned out great). A crazy Russian named Ivan (Mickey Rourke) is able to replicate the suit, despite Tony’s insistence that it’s impossible. Turns out, Ivan’s dad used to work for Howard Stark and Howard got him deported. So he’s pissed about that. Tony’s weapons rival hires Ivan and Ivan becomes the typical Russian bad guy and creates a whole army of robots–no operator necessary–and sets them loose on the Stark version of the World’s Fair. In order to help Tony defeat the robots, Rhodes dons one of the prototype Iron Man suits and becomes War Machine for the first time (though he is not referred to as War Machine during the movie). It’s important to note that between Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Don Cheadle takes over the role from Terrence Howard, and is Rhodey from this point on. In addition to battling robots, Tony is dealing with a problem with his arc reactor–he needs it to stay alive, but the palladium in the reactor is poisoning him. He solves this problem when he finds secret plans from his dad for the creation of a new element, which of course, he is able to replicate and save himself. We also meet Natasha Romanoff for this first time in this film. She is posing undercover as Pepper’s assistant, though she is working for SHIELD and attempting to keep an eye on Tony. Her identity is revealed before the end of the movie. In the final scene, Nick Fury tells Tony he is too volatile to be a part of the Avengers, so they’re only going to use him as a consultant from now on.

End Credits Scene: Agent Coulson and his team find Thor’s hammer in the New Mexico desert, which is of course the lead in to the next film on the list, Thor.

My Reaction: I liked this one better than the first. I’m always down with girl power, so I was happy to see Natasha, and happy to see Pepper take charge of Stark Industries. I still am not a huge Tony Stark fan. I really don’t know why. I love sarcasm, so he should be one of my favorites, but the rich, entitled, arrogance is a little too much for me. I think I like him better as part of the Avengers, so maybe that is why I struggle with his individual films. I did think the fight scenes in the early part of this one were lacking, but the robot battle was alright in the end. It was overall, just alright. I did enjoy the fact that this movie is more than just an origin story. I realize that we need those to lay the foundation for the MCU, but there are a lot of similarities in all these creation plots and it was nice to see something more original.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10, an improvement over the first, but not by much.


I am looking forward to the next branch of the challenge as I get to see my second husband, Chris Hemsworth, multiple times. I should have the next section completed soon so keep an eye out for Part Three!

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Top Ten Posts of 2017

It’s that time of year when I rehash all the awesomeness I have thrown out into the interwebs during the course of the hurricane that was 2017. These are NOT my favorite posts of the year (though some of them are high on my list), rather these are the posts that had the most pageviews, which kinda sorta means they were popular with you fine folks. Here’s what you were into:

10. Owl Crate Subscription Box December: I actually stopped doing these posts because they didn’t seem to be very popular, but December must have been a good month because you guys were into it!

9. It’s the Ten Disney Commandments: This was definitely one of my favorite posts to write. Now if I only I could get people to start following these rules…

8. How to Step Up Your Style in 2017: Looking back, I maybe did not actually accomplish a lot of these style goals I set for myself, but overall, I think I stepped up my game. A little.

7. Scum and Villainy Cantina Review: We had a blast at SVC and I am dying to go back.

6. Me Too: This was one of the hardest posts for me to write this year, but I am so glad it is on the list. I think it is so important for all women to be able to share their stories, and it really did help me to share this experience. I also got tons of great feedback from women in my life, both past and present, who said the post resonated with them. Which is awesome, and I love it. Girl power.

5. I Wrote a Book: Typing that still kind of freaks me out. But hey, not only did I self-publish my first book this year, I also wrote a second one! So far that one is bringing me nothing but agent rejections, but I did it, and 2018 is going to be the year of writing.

4. 2016 Year in Review: Not exactly the most positive year in review post because 2016. But it felt reeeeaaaaally good to let that shit out.

3. Beauty and the Beast at the El Capitan: Kinda surprised this one ranked so high, but BATB was a big movie earlier this year, and there is something so special about seeing it at the El Cap. I’m glad I got to share my experience with others who might be not be able to get there themselves!

2. DIY Watercolor Bookmarks: I’m still obsessed with these, so I’m so glad y’all like them too! I just printed out another batch that I need to watercolor. They are so much fun to make and I love using them.

1. Shrinky Dink Pins: Guys, this post has more than double the pageviews of my number two post. Wha tha wha?!?!? I don’t know what it is that stuck out about this post, but yay for nerdy pins!

Wow. 2017 was a year of ups and downs, and honestly, it’s nice to just focus on the ups for a minute! I had a ton of fun writing (most of) these posts and I am thrilled that you guys loved them too. Here’s to 2018!

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