P. Kirby's Blog
August 19, 2014
“Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were going to do anyway.” ~Robert Downey Jr.
Even though I’d like to think of myself as given to speaking my mind, the truth is, even now, I rarely do. My default reaction to shit that pisses me off; people trying to give me commands; or plain old human stupidity, is “Uh-huh.”
“Uh-huh” is code for “Fuck you.”
If I think it’s in my best interest to not be a total asshole–because like Captain Mal of Firefly my driving motivation is “what’s of use to me” –I’ll give you a faint smile and lie to your face, feigning interest in your totally wrong point of view or pretending I’m going along with your moronic plan. A frequently-played song in my passive aggressive repertoire.
But…then I’ll go and do the exact opposite of what you proposed.
Because, as the saying goes, it’s easier to apologize than ask permission.
August 3, 2014
On watching Guardians of the Galaxy, two things become quite evident. First, Thanos should hire better minions, or he needs to get his bad-ass, mad Titan self off the throne and fetch his magical McGuffins o’power all by himself. Because the hired help, thus far, in Marvel movie ‘verse, just aren’t working out.
Also, if it weren’t for daddy issues, nothing–good or bad–in the universe would get done.
Of course, if it weren’t for dead mothers, no hero would ever get motivated. Consequently, the first scene in Guardians shows a young Peter Quill, eventual Starlord, sitting outside a hospital room, listening to that awkward predecessor to playlists, the mixed tape. His grandfather appears and ushers him into a room where a deathly pale woman lies in bed. Before getting down to dying, Mom rambles about the boy’s father, using the word “angel,” so that you know young Quill is something special.
Mom lifts a trembling hand toward the lad and says, “Take my hand…” And in my head I hear Les Miserables‘ Fantine singing, “…and lead me to salvation.” The lad, however, is too freaked out to take mom’s pasty paw and he runs from the room and out into the night, were he is immediately sucked up into a spaceship.
And I breath a sigh of relief, because nothing fracks up a good action adventure than a shit-ton of needless emotional, dead-mommy, this-is-why-the-character-is-what-he/she-is schmaltz.
Fast forward a couple decades and Quill (Chris Pratt) is now grown up and tromping irreverently through the ruins of a once prosperous city somewhere that isn’t Earth. He’s still got his trusty Walkman and he’s dancing through dark, grotty crumbling buildings, kicking the local pests, rat-lizards, like soccer balls and moving unhurriedly toward his goal–the story’s McGuffin. Just as he finds the thing–a pretty, silver filigreed metal orb–he’s beset by henchmen, muscle employed by Ronan, the story’s main antagonist. A scuffle ensues, nifty gadgets are deployed and spaceships start a-flying, and things shift into a speedy gear that is sustained for the remainder of the film.
Which is a good thing [Martha Stewart voice]. Guardians knows it’s a ridiculous, physics-defying, minimal character arc romp, and it goes with it, giddy, funny and full of shiny CGI hyperbolic action. Take the initial meet-cute-with fists between Quill, Rocket, Groot, and Gamora. Rocket (Bradley Cooper), the scene-stealing raccoon, and his Ent-ish companion, Groot (Vin Diesel), want Quill for the huge bounty on his head. Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Thanos’s daughter-not daughter, wants the orb to get back at Daddy (more daddy issues). The madcap chase scene that follows gets all four thrown into prison. Where they meet the fifth team member, Dax (Dave Bautista), who has sworn blood vengeance against Ronan for the death of his wife and daughter (again, dead women are great motivators).
Ronan is Gamora’s current employer and making her dead would go far in fulfilling Dax’s revenge fantasies. Quill, however, manages to convince the big lug to postpone killing Gamora in exchange for the opportunity to kill Ronan, himself. And so the team is formed, they escape the prison and make for their appointment with destiny. Where destiny means keeping possession of the orb long enough to sell it to the highest bidder, provided that bidder doesn’t plan to use it to rip apart the universe, and stay alive in the process.
Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) wants the orb so he can explore his genocidal impulses on the Xandrians (perhaps they killed his mother?). Thanos wants the orb because he’s Thanos and likes things of power. The Collector (Benicio del Toro) wants it because…well, d’uh. And Quill’s foster-dad, Yondu (Michael Rooker, Darrell’s brother in Walking Dead) wants it because he’s a space pirate and pirates love swag.
Ironically, the two things that could have turned Guardians of the Galaxy into a cinematic bomb are what transform this messy story into a fun romp. The talking raccoon and the sentient flora. Yeah, Rocket and Groot steal the show. Saldana and Pratt are likable as Gamora and Pratt, although their slight romance is a sort of tepid, as if the two actors just weren’t that into each other. Wrestler-turned-actor Dave Bautista’s inclination toward wooden actually works for the subtly humorous Dax.
But the instant Rocket arrives, engaging in a bit of people watching and doing what most of us do (but deny), make fun of the objects of our scrutiny, you know he’s going to be walking all over the rest of the cast. And Groot (“I am Groot”) is the oaken version of Chewbaca to Rocket’s Han Solo.
The folk on the villainous side of the equation, however, suffer from script neglect. Lee Pace does a respectable job emitting a menacing and sorta sexy* vibe underneath his black, tar-like smudge of a beard and heavy black leather. (*Yes, I have a thing for Pace.) But he doesn’t get much acting in until the final, inevitable confrontation, and consequently, isn’t a particularly memorable villain. Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora’s sister, and loyal henchgirl to Ronan, looks awesome in her makeup, but again, doesn’t get much to do besides the expected throw-down with her sister.
The world building is similarly weak, with the story hopping from one new location to another, each setting eye-catching and CGI-enhanced, but lacking a strong sense of real place.
Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t perfect, but it’s a testimonial to the power of an engaging ensemble cast, a collection of actors (real and CGI) who seem to be having so much fun it’s impossible not to get caught up in the adventure and easy to forget the film’s flaws.
July 28, 2014
The statement is significant, in that my spouse, unlike me, is generally kind to movies. Me, I love excoriating a bad movie, detailing its sins against plot, characterization, cinematography, etc. But the hubs usually just shrugs and says, “It wasn’t good, but there were some funny parts.”
To say The Lone Ranger is a hot mess is to disparage steaming piles of poop everywhere. After all, certain types of excrement make good fertilizer. Not so, The Lone Ranger.
Possibly taking a page from The Princess Bride, the story alternates between the actual adventures of the masked man and native sidekick, and a conversation between a cute lad and an elderly storyteller. Only instead of Fred Savage and Peter Falk’s cute chemistry, we have a young boy trying to illicit a response from a sullen, elderly Tonto, played by Johnny Depp.
Many critics have complained that Depp’s Tonto is a retread of Captain Jack Sparrow, but with worse headgear and more eyeliner. My feeling is that only in those few moments when Tonto emits au de Jack, is Tonto even remotely alive. I’m tempted to lay the blame entirely on the director, Gore Verbinsky, but taking into account Depp’s experience as an actor, it’s difficult to understand how the two couldn’t come up with a character who was dynamic and possessing Jack Sparrow’s psychotic joi de vive, without actually being Jack.
The problem isn’t when Depp is too pirately, but rather when he is the dull-eyed, wooden, cigar store Indian of the majority of the film. It’s like whenever Depp started to show any hint of life, the director told him to tone it down, and all the actor had left was moribund misery.
The meat of the story (think hamburger left in the sun for a week) is the meet cute between The Lone Ranger and his sage Native American minion Tonto. (A name which always makes Spanish speakers giggle.) Tonto and notorious criminal Butch Cavendish (William Fitchner, the only actor who seems to be enjoying himself in this stinker) are on a train, in police custody and bound for a hangin’. Cavendish, who obviously has some inside help, slips his chains, kills the guards and is about to escape when John Reid (Armie Hammer) arrives in the nick of time and stops him. Well, almost. See Reid is the district attorney and the ultimate Dudley Do-Right. Instead of just plugging Cavendish with some well-place lead, he monologues about truth, justice and honor, blah-blah. Cavendish, of course, kicks his ass, and escapes.
This, of course, sets the pattern for the rest of the film, with Reid opting for the bureaucratic path to justice, which invariably backfires and gets more people killed. Tonto, meanwhile, follows along, driven by his own need for vengeance against Cavendish, and urges Reid, a.k.a., The Lone Ranger, to just effing kill someone. This is the extent of their partnership–Reid makes like the Great White Moron and Tonto rolls his eyes. Hardly the stuff that great friendships are made of.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto’s bromance-that-wasn’t is set against an uneven tonal backdrop that careens between serious message movie (progress, Manifest Destiny=bad; Indians= noble and good) and campy shoot-em-up. One wonders if the intent was create a film with a Quentin Tarantino vibe, a bloody cheese fest that was simultaneously lampooning bloody cheese fests. Except the violence in The Lone Ranger is tame, even the sequence where Cavendish cuts out a man’s heart is sanitized and tidy; and the action sequences too much old timey Saturday matinee. The scenes where the tone turns serious feel like excerpts from another movie altogether. For example, there’s the backstory on how Tonto got his feathered headgear and case of crazy brain. The sequence is designed, one assumes, to inform the audience that Tonto is sad, sad clown, but it arrives in the story like a ton of bricks.
Eventually, for no particular reason, other than the movie being over budget, The Lone Ranger decides to get his hero on, and in yet another ridiculous train sequence (there are many), brings the killing to the baddies. Notable in this sequence is the fakest fake horse in the history of ever. I mean, at this point, the cinematographers were too lazy to even attempt to hide the fact that Silver, in the close-up riding sequences, is a big, fat, stuffed horse.
(Speaking of horse, however, the flesh and blood equine(s) who plays Silver is the best actor in the movie.)
As a fan of movies with swords, guns, space, car chases and numerous explosion, I’m adept at ignoring a high percentage of cinematic sins and crimes against physics. What dooms The Lone Ranger, however, is the relationship, or lack thereof, between the two central characters. Had Depp and Hammer possessed the delicious zing of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes, The Lone Ranger‘s other weakness could have been easily ignored. Instead, Tonto and his white protégé never progress beyond mild antipathy.
Maybe the sequel (if there is one) should simply be about Silver.
July 8, 2014
Been AWOL, busy, making like a hippy (growing my hair). And creating art.
May 3, 2013
"Dancer" flower pot whimsy
Looking for something fun to do in Albuquerque? Drive just a smidgen north to historic and charming Corrales, New Mexico for the annual Art Studio Tour, the first weekend in May.
This year, me and the hubs will be participating! We will be opening our studio/workshop and garden and exhibiting our metal art. Gardeners: this means you can visit an established Corrales garden, free; get ideas for your own yard; and see what works in my high desert garden. The garden is at its finest mid-June through July, but stuff is starting to bloom now.
Tree of life garden gate by Justin Kirby
The Corrales Art Studio Tour is the first weekend in May (the 4-5) and maps can be picked up at the tent outside of Frontier Mart and at Villa Acequia (Preview Gallery), both on Corrales Road. Maps can also be downloaded here. Did I mention it’s free! Free tour! We’re Number 69 on the tour.
The weather should be great. See you there!
Click on images for larger view.
April 12, 2013
Give a husband an iPhone and he shall torture the dog.
In which I try to teach the greyhound geology.
The lesson is precipitated by our new granite countertops and because I have nothing better to do (other than laundry, yard work, writing, taxes, etc.).
I’m in the kitchen, having a healthy snack of baby carrots and the greyhound is watching in that bright-eyed, super intelligent way that dogs have been watching humans with food since the dawn of time. I crunch a carrot, chew, swallow and consider the hound.
“See this?” I point at a reddish smudge on the counter. The greyhound, a very tall dog, shoves his skinny nose where I’m pointing. “That’s garnet. My birthstone. Can you say, ‘garnet?’”
Finding no food where I’ve indicated, he flares his ears out like a bat and stares at me in a way that says, “Carrot!”
“No, not ‘carrot.’ ‘Garnet.’”
I try again, finger on a black streak. “This here is biotite, a mica. Can you say, ‘biotite?’” ‘Mica?’”
Because I’m stupid that way, I try with feldspar and quartz. I go back to garnet, because it sounds like carrot.
I give the hound the damned carrot.
November 22, 2012
When Pigs Fly
Poking the sleeping blog to do some art promotion.
This holiday weekend, November 23-25, 2012, in Corrales, New Mexico, please come out to the Corrales Society of Artists Holiday Show. Just drive north up Corrales Road until you see the big white tent on the left side of the road. Parking and admission is FREE and there will be loads of talented artists selling their work at very inexpensive prices.
Where's the Picnic?
My hubby and I will have a booth there–Adobe Dragon Designs, featuring our functional and fun metal art. I’ll also have copies of my book, The Music of Chaos, available for sale.
Do come out and visit!
August 13, 2012
And, no, the greyhound isn’t budging from his spot on the carpet.
In fact, his head is up is because he saw me with the camera and wondered what was going on. In the absence of the camera, the end result would have been a roughly greyhound-shaped dirty spot on the carpet.
He also does this with the lawn mower, so he isn’t allowed outside when I’m cutting the grass.
On the other hand, he’s wary to wet-himself-afraid of nearly everything with a heartbeat. Even rabbits, yes rabbits.
Of course, Wonder Horse was quick to exploit the hound’s neurosis.
Once upon a time, before heading out for a mid-afternoon walk, the hound and I would stop by the barn to visit the horse. I’d bring along carrots for both critters. We’d meet the horse at the gate and there I’d give a carrot to the equine and one to the canine, then another to the equine, and so on. The greyhound would eye the horse very warily, but tempted by the carrots, stay at my side.
Then one day, the horse, in one of his Professor Snottypants moods, banged his hoof on the metal gate, making a delightful racket. The hound leaped back, startled. At this point, you could see the wheels turning in the Wonder Horse’s brain. After a pause, he banged again. Dog leaped in the air, and strained on his leash, trying to get as far from the horse as possible. Horse smirked and banged again. And thus was the demise of carrot sharing at the gate.
To this day, when the horse sees the hound approaching, he lifts a foot, poised to start hammering on the gate. I have to drag the hound, his long legs braced and feet sliding through the sand, to get anywhere near the barn.
The hound, the predator, is deathly afraid of the horse, the prey animal.
August 10, 2012
Five minutes later, and I’ve got this. Four quick horse sketches. Because I can’t stop myself. I’ve been drawing horses since I could hold a pencil. People are hard to draw, with their weird round heads and walking on two legs.
Anyway, I’m making this a sketchbook dump Friday and excerpt Friday. Technically, the sequel to The Music of Chaos is about 90-percent done. First draft, anyway. I got stuck on a scene at the end, and then wandered off to two other projects. The problem is, I got two author voices–Hello, Sybil!–the snarky, first person, Mary Sue-ish voice of The Music of Chaos and the third person voice that I use elsewhere. The second voice has been in control lately.
In this bit of dialogue from Chapter One, Hallowbone Holiday (working title), Regan O’Connell leaves work, the day job, early….
“That’s it,” I said, switching off my computer. I scooped up my briefcase and headed for the door, changed my mind and turned around and headed for the admin offices.
Eva Osborne had recently scored a promotion, and was now the head of the human resources department. Her promotion earned her a tiny office, not much bigger than a typical cubicle, but with real walls and a door. Taking the partially open door as an invitation, I marched boldly through the doorway.
“Hey, I–” My greeting strangled in my throat as I nearly collided with a very large man.
“Regan,” said the man, a sneer on his face.
“Erm, Kyle. How the heck are you doing?” I asked. Eva, who sat behind her paper-strewn desk, beamed at me and then at her lover.
“Good,” said Kyle, his gaze moving immediately to my chest and just as quickly moving away, poorly veiled disdain on his face.
Kyle Peterson was the classic all-American guy. Square-jawed, with a powerful physique that someone less generous might call steroid-enhanced, he was probably most women’s idea of sexy. I found him rather simian. Most humans, with their total absence of magical ability, held no attraction to me.
“Regan, honey. Are you going home? You just got here,” asked Eva.
“I’ve been here. . .” I looked at my watch, “three hours. Plenty of time to download an eternity in hell’s worth of pornography.”
“Regan,” she chided. The first time Eva laid eyes on me she decided I was a waif in need of mothering. Normally, I’d resent that sort of attitude, but Eva softens her maternal instincts with baked goods and I’m a cookie whore.
“Monica and Barry still haven’t lost that lovin’ feeling. My lunch, on the other hand, is fixing to see daylight if I don’t get out of here.”
Eva leaned forward, a prurient glint in her eyes. “Really? Are they in there now?”
“Er, yeah, but I’d rather not talk about it or think about it.”
“Oh, okay,” she said with a gentle smile. I’m sure my prudish attitude to sex only enhances her need to mother. What she mistakes as youthful shyness is actually the remains of a Victorian upbringing.
“I gotta hit the head,” Kyle said.
“Okay, sweetie,” Eva oozed, her sweetness wasted, since Kyle was already out the door.
The divorced mother of two teenagers more demonic than actual demons, Eva was still a rather attractive woman of about forty. By no means a small woman, she was shaped like Barbie. That is, if Barbie ate three square meals a day with generous snacks in between.
Five years Eva’s junior, Kyle was married and the father of a three-year old daughter, though Eva didn’t know this. There was a hell of a lot Eva didn’t know, including the true nature of his employment.
As far as I knew, Kyle had found Eva’s desire for something more than casual sex irritating and had dumped her about a month before.
His sudden reappearance in Eva’s life was worrisome–”shivers up and down my spine like someone is doing the tango on my grave” worrisome.
“Regan? What’s wrong?” Eva’s voice dragged me from my thoughts.
Realizing I was staring warily in the direction Kyle had gone, I forced a cheerful smile. “You and Kyle are back together?” I asked, hoping the answer was “No.”
Her supernova-bright smile almost made me feel bad about begrudging her any happiness. Almost. Kyle was an asshat and I didn’t for one moment think any good could come of their relationship.
“Yes,” she said with a girlish titter. “Kyle and I are going to the movies tonight. Maybe you and Jason–?”
“Er. . .no, Jason and I are having a cooling off period.” Think Ice Age.
**Copyright 2012 Patricia (P.) Kirby, All rights reserved****
August 8, 2012
It all started with a beep.
At 3 AM in the morning.
Remember that episode of Friends where Phoebe’s fire alarm keeps beeping? She unplugs it, takes out its battery, beats it with a shoe, and then throws it in the trash, but it keeps beeping.
Yeah, it was like that.
Beep! Then blessed silence. Just as I start to doze off again, “Beep!” Like the flipping Roadrunner, but without Wile. E. Coyote and his army of ACME toys. (Roadrunners, btw, don’t beep; they don’t eat seed–they eat cute little bunnies; and coyotes don’t fuck with them because they’re mean.)
After about a half hour of this, my husband growls and staggers out of bed and into the living room. He returns a minute later and flops back in bed. On the floor, the greyhound stretches his long legs, claws scratching on the bed, sighs and goes back to sleep.
“Fucking alarms,” says my husband after the fifth beep. He gets up again and turns on a fan to block the noise.
“I hate the fucking fire alarms!” Angry spouse climbs out of bed and scratching noises from the living room follow as he yanks the offending alarm out of the ceiling. He returns to bed.
Lather, rinse, repeat as my Dearly Beloved blisters the night air with curse words and removes the alarm’s batteries.
Husband growls, gets up and I hear the sound of a door opening and closing as the alarm is sent out to commune with nature (roadrunners!). Greyhound’s tags jingle as he lifts his sleepy head, wondering what’s going on and if it involves feeding the hound.
“Just close the door,” I suggest. He closes the bedroom door.
Once more, husband goes into the fray, this time shutting off the fire alarm’s circuit.
Horse is now neighing at the house, because, hey, we’re up, it must be time to feed the horse. Husband and I both try to ignore the noise, and start to doze off. We’re nearly asleep when the beep is accompanied by the sound of the clock radio’s alarm. We owe, we owe, it’s off to work we go.
A while later, something is still beeping. A weird bit of inspiration strikes and I come out and eye the carbon monoxide detector that’s sitting by the fireplace.
Yeah…it was that damned thing. All along.