A Dance with Dragons

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. MartinBecause I’m a pathetic little shit who needs to have her opinions validated, about halfway through the monstrous tome that is A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin, I went looking for reviews on Goodreads and Amazon and was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only one who was less than impressed with the latest installment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. (One reviewer, rather hilariously, refers to it as Twenty-Four Characters in Search of a Story.)

Well, okay, maybe I’m not that insecure. Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s hairy little ass about other people’s opinions. At the same time, I’m self aware enough to feel a smidgen distanced from humanity, when said humanoids all worship at the altar of what I think is a mediocre book. Rather than “pathetic,” call me…”curious.”

FWIW, A Dance with Dragons is entertaining, but at the midpoint, I renamed it Public Administration for Lords and Ladies in Westeros and Beyond, because the bulk of Jon and Daenerys’s chapters consist of endless haggling with the bureaucracy. Alternately, it could be A Guide to Dining in Westeros, The Free Cities, and Valyeria, given the amount of verbiage spent on eating. (Note to self, when in Mereen, don’t eat the meat, because, *cough*, dog. Also, avoid long marches through the snow with Stannis Baratheon unless you develop a craving for horse meat.)

Many readers’ complaints can be summed up as Continue reading

Posted in A Game of Thrones, Book reviews, G.R.R. Martin | Comments Off

Lost in the Opposite of Paradise

Kelly Marquez and Eric JonesIt’s summer in the desert; it hasn’t rained in months; it’s hot.

In other news, water is wet.

As the blog name suggests, “But it’s a dry heat.” By comparison to the deep South, this is true. Except we’re edging up on our so-called monsoon season, which is New Mexico for “if we’re lucky, three inches of rain will fall in about a month.” The season announces itself with blithering heat and slight bit of humidity. The problem is that many of us still rely on evaporative cooling, i.e., the swamp cooler. Basically, a metal box that pushes wet air into the house. Works great in bone dry climes; add even a touch of humidity, and it’s not even an improvement over a fan.

It’s too damn hot to do anything but work on my current WIP, a romantic space opera. But I am writing, and as proof, I give you, an excerpt. Along with an appallingly bad sketch. This, kiddies, is what happens when artists who can’t draw people draw people without using a reference photo. Setup: Kelly, mild-mannered bookstore owner attends the gallery opening of Eric, an artist and escaped convict from another universe. Although, Kelly isn’t aware of the latter. (Unedited, in the raw.)

****Lost in Paradise, WIP, excerpt****

The first painting looked like a photo from Continue reading

Posted in Desert life, Work in Progress, Writing | Comments Off

The Curious Case of the Dead Lagomorph

My little killer pony

Stone cold killa?

Rewind, several years ago, on another hot summer day….

I get home from work and trudge out to the barn to visit the Wonder Horse. Heat is pouring down like scalding rain and splashing off the pavement and sand. A roadrunner sits on a fence pole, beak open, panting like a dog. Nothing else is moving, even the little gray lizards have gone to ground in the midday sun.

The Wonder Horse, tough Arabian horse of the desert, is under his shady porch. I hear the clomp of hooves on rubber stall mats as he stamps at flies. Seeing me, he whickers, leaves the shade and comes to the gate to greet me.

It’s too hot to do anything that expends more than a thimble-full of calories, so I grab the halter and a brush. Lovely, occasionally Continue reading

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Bosque Fire

Corrales bosque fire june 2012“It’s a dry heat” is another way of saying, “It’s combustible.”

I started a funny little post about the Wonder Horse’s murderous tendencies, but lost heart when I saw this. Just a mile or two up the road, our Bosque is on fire. At any given time in New Mexico, something is on fire, but until now, our bosque has escaped the summer conflagrations.

Sigh. Not this year, I guess. News helicopters are rattling overhead, but the footage they’re showing is utter worthless. Dear Channel 7 KOAT, you suck, donkey balls. Typical.

Anyway, horsey post to come in a day or so. Provide the fire doesn’t get worse.

Posted in Desert life, New Mexico | Comments Off

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyI expected to like this movie.

Instead Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy turned out to be a Black Swan, dripping with the slobber of critics who probably didn’t understand the convoluted mess either, but needed to flex their intellectual superiority complex.

I mean, it’s a spy movie set during the Cold War. Given the genre, it’s not unreasonable to expect a taut plotline and measure of suspense. It doesn’t have to be The Bourne Identity with a multitude of explosions and high-speed chases, but a decent thriller should convey the feeling that something is at stake, quite possibly the protagonist’s life.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a lugubrious crawl, like a Galapagos turtle trudging through tar while on lithium.

The movie begins with Control (John Hurt), the elder spy, assigning Continue reading

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Monday, Hulk Style

Monday, It's Like That, Loki Hulk SmashMonday? Again? Seriously?

We just had one last week. Here I am, minding my own business: not getting up at the ass crack of dawn to shuffle off to a job that makes watching paint dry seem like a high intensity spectator sport, and…SMASH!…it’s Monday.

Spent part of the morning seriously considering calling one of those “Make Money at Home” adverts in the back of magazines. Of course they’re a scam, but they probably won’t be any more expensive a fantasy than a daily lottery ticket. Speaking of which, every week, my husband checks his tickets. Every week, he comes up empty. Well, not empty. There was the amazing payoff of 2012 (last week), when he won…two bucks.

Every time hubby and I think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, some financial crisis comes along and further binds us into unholy servitude to a suck-ass job. Last month, the septic leach system failed. I’ll spare the details and simply say, we’re now working to pay off the “luxury” of flush toilets. Yay, us!

My beloved thinks the road to riches is paved in cults. I.e., start a cult and part the gullible from their money in exchange for enlightenment. So long as there is an audience for Jersey Shore and whatever the hell the Kardashians do, there will be no shortage of brain-addled sheep to fleece.

Maybe, L. Ron Hubbard-style, I could based my teachings on my books. Side bonus: sell more books! I’ll wrap my theology around the premise that Breas Montrose, my favorite obnoxious vampire, is an avatar for the Elder God Botox, his teachings on immortality available here and here.

Happy Monday, if that’s possible.

But It’s a Dry Heat

Posted in Humor | 4 Comments

Plants for the Desert Southwest

Moth or Phlox penstemon

Moth or Phlox Penstemon

This Sunday, June 10, is the Corrales (New Mexico) Garden Tour, which runs from 9 am to 4 pm. Come on out to the historic village for a great opportunity to see what can be grown in our dry desert landscape.

With that in mind, I thought I’d show you a few of the star performers in my little slice of hot, dry hell. Here in the Albuquerque metro area we get less than eight inches of rain a year (much less, lately), the summer temperatures rise into the 90s, with the occasional span of 100s; the winter lows can dip into the single digits (recently going as low as -10), with very little snow. Operative word is “dry.” The added complication in my yard is the soil, which is better described as beach sand.

In my garden, most of the plants below do so well that they are downright invasive, reseeding themselves everywhere. Probably not good plants for fussy gardeners who want crisply maintained beds and well-behaved plants, but great in a more rustic, relaxed setting.

Phlox or sand penstemon (Penstemon ambiguus) is a workhorse in sand. In fact, I’m not Continue reading

Posted in Albuquerque, Chocolate, Desert life, gardening, New Mexico | 2 Comments

Some Home Time Religion

Stucco before

My hero, at work.

Do it yourself (DIY) projects are for people who don’t want weekends. The kind of twisted mofos who might also enjoy a nice evening of waterboarding.

Uh, okay. Hyperbole. But the dining room project is the last big DIY project that’s happening in the history of ever after at Casa de Kirby. Because..gah…never again. The interior work was completed (mostly) a few months ago; but it wasn’t officially done until this weekend.

Once upon a time, on a desert planet far, far away, the dining room was a garage. A small garage; so teeny, you couldn’t park a clown car in it without grease and a shoehorn. For a time, it functioned as an artist’s studio, where Continue reading

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The Avengers

Oh, how you go on. They were ugly buildings. I would have rebuilt a better, more beautiful New York. Have you seen Asgard? Like Asgard, but better!

And once again, I’m glad I live in New Mexico, because we have a complete dearth of crap worth blowing up. Granted, there was the minor dust up in a too-Anglo-to-be-New Mexico town in the movie Thor, but that was just a few buildings. Hell, that alien robot didn’t even bother to mutilate the local livestock. (Even the aliens in Cowboys & Aliens knew that the genre requires the immolation of a few hapless bovines.)

Mostly, though, aliens land in New Mexico, but faced with the absence of tall crash-y buildings, quickly move on, probably afraid we’ll set up another cheesy alien museum, a la Roswell. Because that’s just embarrassing.

If the alien version of urban renewal is too violent for you, then New York city should be low on your list of places to settle. As exemplified by The Avengers, where yet another group of folks who aren’t from around these parts, revel in Continue reading

Posted in Action flicks, Movies, Worth Watching | Comments Off

My Little Pony Goes Crazy

Horse liability sign, New MexicoThe sign says it all.

Horses are big dangerous and destructive animals. Why girls go horse crazy is beyond me. (Ahem. There’s a joke in there about men…moving on….)

This is the Wonder Horse’s second liability sign. The first, made of plastic, was destroyed in a few weeks, reduced to a collection of white shards in the sand. The best he can manage with this metal version is to bend it. Metal, you see, makes the most delightful racket when struck with hooves. Especially, at two in the morning. Oy.

Friday morning: I’m fumbling with the faucet in the shower. Outside, a horse neighs, the Arabian horsesound coming through the skylight in the bathroom. The Wonder Horse has heard activity in Chez Kirby. “The two legs are up. Time to feed the horse.” He neighs again.

“You’re not the boss of me,” I mutter and get in the shower.

Forty minutes later, I’m out the door and headed for the paddock. A thick pall of dusty tan hangs in the air, sand kicked up by hooves. The Wonder Horse has worked himself up into a right lather. He sproinging around the paddock in that big bouncy deer-like trot that’s beauty in motion but is absolutely impossible to ride.

Rearing horseI go back in the house to get the camera and he shrieks equine obscenities at me. Back outside, I stop and take a picture of my loony horse. Recognizing the black thing and its significance–”she’s going to fiddle with the fucking thing and not feed me!”–he comes unglued.

He gallops back and forth, skidding to a stop at the gate, spraying sand in all directions. When that doesn’t work, he lets out a couple more angry neighs and throws a tantrum. He’s a whirling dervish,  leaping in the air, bucking and spinning. The long black tail lashes with a snap, he kicks a hind leg, and tosses his head. All this punctuated by rumbling horsy mutters and Bucking horsesnorts.

Finally, I relent and head for the barn. Hooves clop angrily under the little porch; the metal feeders rattle as he shoves them with his nose. “Empty! Fix! Now!” I take my time, and he lets out a long, ratting snort. He’s like that really rude customer in a restaurant who expects the food to arrive the instant it’s ordered. Well, except that once the food arrives, he’s happy. He’d never, ever send it back.

Kicking horseI still, however, wouldn’t expect a tip.

Click images for larger version.

But It’s a Dry Heat

Posted in Desert life, Horses, Humor | 2 Comments