Can cranes and herons pick up objects with their feet? Can their feet even reach their mouths (e.g. to bring a food item to it)?
So, though they look pretty similar, cranes and herons aren’t that closely related. Herons are part of Ardeidae, with other stabby-faced predatory birds like egrets and bitterns. Cranes are all the way over in Gruidae (I guess… also stabby-faces, but different, okay), and the two families are not even that closely related.
That being said, both herons and cranes can, in fact, reach their terrifying knife faces with their weirdo spindly feet!
As I mentioned before, when you think about it, they are technically “birds of prey” - i.e. they are predatory birds. They’re distinguished from the true raptors by not having murder talons to match their murder face. Their “talons” look like they belong on some kind of beautiful, delicate songbird instead of a leggy fish assassin. Not at all suitable for murder.
They can grab with their feet, and will use them for very impressive high-kicks, but their primary “tool” is their beak. Anything that requires manipulation, such as nest-building, hunting, picking something up - their first instinct will be to use their beak. So I guess my final consensus would be that they could bring something up to their mouth, but they probably wouldn’t.
I’ve been into the occult for as long as I can remember. At 8 I was checking out books on satanism, vampirism, and witchcraft from the library, at 10 I started doing my own spells and interacting with Faefolk, at 13 my mom told me about the spell work she used to do growing up. I have grown a lot since those days of building fairy houses in my front yard out of rocks and flowers and leaving little offerings of honey or juice in exchange for good luck or help finding something I lost, and in those years of navigating the pagan and witch communities both online and off, reading books nonstop, blogs nonstop, etc, I noticed a trend.
Paganism, the occult, and the craft are all very very white. Not only that but whiteness is centered as the one and only way to participate in these interests. First it started in the wiccan books I read as a child, the “white vs. black” magic that is shoved down the throats of aspiring wiccans and witches and eventually they spew it back at anyone else who will listen. If you’ve been on my blog a bit, you already know my gripe about white or black magic. If you haven’t browsed my blog or been there for my rants here is the nitty gritty: The idea at it’s simplest is rooted in colorism and racism, where white is seen as good and black or darkness seen as bad, this trope has been carried over into many different movies and books featuring magic as the villian who usually practices “black” magic has darker features, dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair, while the good characters practice white magic and as such represent purity with their fair skin and hair and eyes. Not only this but historically the magic and practices of those of color, brown and black people, have been demonized for centuries while magic performed by white people are seen as some kind of fairy tale, quirky, beautiful, sipping tea by a potted plant, aesthetic.
“You’ll look like a boy,” my mother tells me. The implication is that I will be uglier than I already am: pimpled, greasy, in sore need of braces. “Your face isn’t the right shape.”
I notice no one ever tells boys these things, giving them haircuts. I am a spindly, pointy little creature – a bag of wire hangers, as my father says – hiding behind a long curtain of dark brown hair. It is consistently a rat’s nest of knots and dingy-looking oil. I have a muddy look about me, a certain dullness. At nearly thirteen, the average observer tends to guess my age around nine; my slim hips and small, vestigial-looking breasts might almost give me a chance at androgyny, if I didn’t have ten inches of pure and unadulterated nonsense growing out of my scalp. I am the only girl in my grade who takes no pride in her appearance. Perhaps if they had to contend with the face in my mirror every morning, they wouldn’t either.
“What do you want to cut your hair for, anyway?”
There is no telling my mother that in spite of the topographic map of flaws which comprises my face, I have kissed a girl. I look for women like me on television, in books, and I find them, but they cut handsome figures, short of hair, strong of jaw. I am weak and flowery in comparison. I want that kind of strength, that thing called butch which seems to elude me.
“It gets in the way.”
My mother huffs, irritable. “It’ll look greasier the shorter it gets. All that oil will stay on the top of your head.” She gestures to my limp, ugly strings. I flush. “You could have such pretty hair if you took care of it. There’s no reason to chop it all off.”
Here she strikes a sore spot. She knows I crave some kind of beauty, some meager peer approval. To say I don’t want pretty hair, no matter the length, would be a baldfaced lie. I try to say it anyway. She rolls her eyes.
“You can cut it to your shoulders,” she says decisively, “but that’s it. And we’ll get you layers, that’ll look nice.”
I mumble thanks, and three days later come home from the salon looking like a young man’s senior yearbook photo from 1975. It looks horrible, but I take a grainy, yellowish webcam photo anyway, an autistic’s poor approximation of an enthusiastic smile pasted on my face.
Seven years later, I find myself in another salon. I have forgone the lumpy, monochromatic, slightly feminine clothing of my childhood for men’s work shirts and polished leather boots, and I look good, but my hair is the longest it has ever been. I almost feel a kind of pride in having generated so much dead protein.
“So what kind of cut were you thinking of?” the stylist asks.
My mother and I fought about this until the very second I got into the car to leave. She insists upon me leaving some kind of long, wavy bit at the top of my head, enough perhaps to sweep girlishly over one eye. I want it off. “Don’t do anything too drastic,” she warned me as I stepped out the door.
The picture I bring with me has no such extraneous length. Short on all sides, a little longer on top. All-purpose, utilitarian, not a trace of anything lacy or lissome. The stylist nods and gets to work, shows me the ways to make it as masculine as possible. She sweeps it back handsomely with men’s gel and pomade and when I leave I have never felt better in my entire life.
My mother’s horrified shock is temporary, but my father approves. “You feel good, kid?” he asks.
I've actually decided that I can hairspray my fringe, which makes it crispy and less soft but it isn’t doing this *flips into his eyes* while I’m trying to talk. So there’s my little beauty tip. Second beauty tip I’ve learnt: If you’ve just had a hair cut or your hair is not working properly put some dry hair shampoo in your hair before you go to sleep because then your hair releases oils in the night and that’s when the dry hair shampoo can be like “no, I am a barrier!”, so I’ve been doing that. And it’s made my hair look nicer the next day, if I’m having one of those days. “Oh my gosh, beauty tips with Phil #BeautyTips”. I know. Look at me knowing how to use dry hair shampoo. Phil, the hair specialist. Depends on what kind of hair you have. I’ve just got hair that turn into a bit of a greasy rat after about a day, so that helps. *chuckles* Yeah, so that’s my beauty tips. Any other beauty tips? We need some kind of beauty vlog music though for beauty tips. *finds generic royalty free background music* Is this beauty? It sounds like I’m going on a journey with my animals to get to a new circus. So your next beauty tip is, if you have a zit, try putting some toothpaste on it the night before you go to sleep because it dries you out. Also try not to pop the zit because that hurts and it can leave a scar. This should just be the theme tune to my life. I’m just going to play this. *continues to wiggle to the music* Other beauty tips with Phil… I don’t have any other ones… hmm… don’t drop things on your feet because it makes them bruise. It’s getting a bit DanAndPhilCRAFTS now. Protip! … What other beauty tips? Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated. ‘Cause then your skin will have a drink. Don’t be afraid to moisturise. I actually started moisturising quite a lot. Cleanse in the shower, then afterwards your face will be a bit dry so then you moisturise after you’ve done that. Protip! “What moisturiser do you use?” I don’t really have… oh, I got some Clinique for Men. I need to stop this now *turns off music* this is endless. I got some Clinique for Men. Why is it for “men”? I would just have the normal Clinique but I got for Christmas in like one of those Christmas things. Apparently it’s specifically designed for my roughed skin. But that is working quite well. Smells quite nice. … “Gendered skin care is ridiculous.” What I think is ridiculous is how the women’s deodorant is always more expensive than the men’s and it’s exactly the same product. It just smells a bit nicer. I can’t believe that. That's should be changed. If it’s the same product, why is it more expensive to be a girl and need deodorant? Who knows? Why does it even exist?
“to me, beauty is something very individual. it’s something that has meaning to each specific person, and it can either be nostalgic, or bring up some kind of memory or some kind of emotion […] beauty is something rare, it’s something individual, it’s something to be cherished and appreciated.”
“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose…
…Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty - describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. - And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.”
And I’ve given it a few days to really kick around in my head.
And I’m just….so conflicted over it.
Because on one hand, yeah, it’s…kind of progress. I mean, at least Disney is willing to have an explicitly gay character now, instead of just queer coding all their villains. And it should open the door for more in the future. And every little bit helps.
Disney has been queer coding the villains FOREVER. So turning their Fool side villian canonly gay is the smallest possible step they could take. It will be played as unrequited and comic relief. Like, unrequited butt of the joke comic villain is gay might have been progress in 2000.
But it’s 2017. This just feels like crumbs. Too little too late in the game.
Maybe it’s not realistic to expect Disney to go from 0 to legitimately progressive for the time in a single leap. But god damn. We couldn’t even have the supportive best friend cliche? We had to have the evil crony fool?
And Yuri’s breath catches in his throat at those words. He looks up at Otabek, so fast he feels his half bun bouncing on the top of his head. Otabek is looking at his knees avoiding Yuri’s eyes and there is a blush on his golden cheeks.
Otabek barely ever blush or look embarrassed by anything but right now, he looks like he wants the couch to swallow him up and just disappear.
It’s the only reason why Yuri knows he didn’t dream those words, the way Otabek isn’t looking up, the color on his face and the almost violent way he is worrying his bottom lip with his teeth.
And he looks so beautiful like this. Some kind of beautiful Yuri never witnessed before and he wants to remember this picture, he wants to cherish it.
Yuri knows he sould say something back. Fuck, this is more then he asked for. But at the same time, this is also all he ever wanted.
They were talking about past relationships, how it never worked for neither of them, between training and flying around the world for different competitions, for the olympics, even.
Yuri knew why it never worked for him, because he was in love with Otabek and he couldn’t love anyone else. Because he kept comparing anyone to the kazkah boy at every chances he got. Eyes too light, too tall, to thin, hands too delicate…
But when he asked Otabek why he never was in a relationship, he never expected that to be his answer.
And Yuri was speechless for too long now because Otabek is standing up,”I’m sorry I- I’ll just go to bed and we can just… We can forget I said anything I’m sorr-”
Yuri grabs him by the wrist and pulls him back on the couch but he pulled a bit too hard in his haste to keep Otabek close and, he ends up falling back on the couch. Or, more falling back on Yuri’s lap, with his thighs on each side of Yuri’s waist and his strong arms holding himself up on the back cushions.
Finally their eyes meet and Otabek looks so scared Yuri’s heart breaks a little bit just looking at him. “Don’t you dare going anywhere,” Yuri whispers slipping his fingers up Otabek’s neck and into his hair, “Do you mean that?”
Otabek only nods, still holding himself up, trying very hard not to sit on Yuri’s lap.
Otabek’s strong arms would be distracting for Yuri if his eyes weren’t so wide, and his lips so inviting. All it takes is one tiny little glance at Yuri’s own mouth and Yuri is losing every ounce of self control he has.
He pulls Otabek closer and claims his mouth in a kiss like he wanted to do for years now. He pulls Otabek closer by his neck but also by wrapping his other arm around his waist and finally Otabek lets himself sit fully on Yuri’s lap and there is nothing in the whole damn world, better than the comforting weight of this beautiful boy on top of him.
Yuri breaks the kiss for just a few seconds, enough to whisper against Otabek’s mouth “Good, because I love you too,” and they are kissing again. They are kissing again and Otabek starts smiling in the middle of it, and their teeth knock and their noses bump but who cares about all that when you finally get to kiss the boy you’ve been in love with for years.
Inside Choices is a behind-the-scenes blog from the Pixelberry team!
With Choices nearing its one year anniversary, The Crown & The Flame trilogy has come to an end. It’s been an epic year-long journey for Kenna, Dom, and the rest of their ragtag crew. As one of the first books to launch with Choices, the team behind TC&TF started work on it long before August. Months later, saying farewell to one of our first series feels like saying good-bye to an old friend.
The team has weathered marathon brainstorms and late-night writing sessions, and celebrated epic plot twists and awesome character art. With the final chapter in the rearview mirror, the writers of TC&TF took the time to reflect and reminisce…
The Crown & The Flame trilogy is over, and it’s been quite the journey. How do you feel?
Kathleen: Super weird. It kinda feels like graduating from college, actually. Like, you’ve been immersed in this cool new world for so long and surrounded by these people you’ve grown to love (even though Val’s always stealing your food and Dom wants to party all the time instead of doing homework), and you get so attached that you kind of forget there’s a world outside. Now graduation is looming and half of me is like “oh thank goodness” but the other half is going “WAIT, NO, I LIKE IT HERE, AAAAA”.
Eric: So many feelings! Sad because I’ve dedicated so many hours to TC&TF, and it’s like saying goodbye to close friends. Happy because we were fortunate enough to get to create this whole world from scratch! Proud because I feel we’ve brought the series to a satisfying conclusion. And of course grateful for the fans, whose passion for it made Books 2 and 3 a reality.
Since we’re at the end, why not talk about beginnings? How did TC&TF first come about? What were the early days like?
Kathleen: Lot of brainstorming, LOT of revisions. The first story that we outlined was much more focused on courtly intrigue, less so on the action. It looked totally different from the version of TC&TF that exists today, but there are a few relics from that first version that we kept because we loved them so much. For instance, Sei Rhuka was one of the first characters we created for that earlier story, and she survived the move to TC&TF pretty much unchanged (because what would you change? She’s perfect).
There were some late nights, and times when I definitely thought I was gonna crack under the stress. Fortunately I had Eric and Kara, two heroes of legend, fighting by my side.
Kara: The first draft of TC&TF was written under so much pressure and at such a frantic pace that it was nothing like the book that ended up being released. To give you an example of how much things change, Val Greaves, everyone’s favorite mercenary, was originally a male character just named Mercenary. Kathleen had the idea of making her a woman, and then the character of Val really started to emerge as the snarky, mean voice that the cast was currently lacking.
Another thing that came about because of that time was just the incredible trust between the writers. On most products, there’s a more formal process of logging changes, but because we were so short on time, we were just actively editing each other’s work, and I think we managed to get through that without killing each other, so it really says a lot about how well we work together! Sometimes you write your first draft and you don’t realize how much better it can be until you take a step back. I wrote a scene once where Dom is carrying a sack of flour down the castle hallway, and I thought, this is boring, I’ll add in a choice. Oh, I’ll give the choice a timer! Then I realized I’d just made a minigame about carrying a sack of flour. So I cut the whole thing. But sometimes it isn’t until you write the scene that you realized you’re going down a bad or boring path. The early days were a lot of that.
We rewrote a lot of things together, but it was such a privilege to work with Kathleen and Eric on creating this world. It was amazing when we reached a point where we’d revised and revised and revised and finally felt like we’d burned away everything that was boring or not working and all that was left was even stronger than it had been before.
Eric: Hectic! It’s one thing to write a book now, knowing what Choices looks like, but back then we were writing with placeholder art (everyone was Queen Adriana!) and we just had no idea what was going to work and what wasn’t.
Also, I echo everything Kara said above about trust. So many times I wrote a thing and thought, “Oh gods, I’m a fraud! I’m a terrible writer!” and then had either Kara or Kathleen or Jessica swoop in and turn my garbage into gold. Having the safety net of a great team makes standing on the tightrope a lot more fun.
Strong world building is crucial to any good fantasy story. That ranges from history and culture to what you yell when you stub your toe. What was the worldbuilding process like for the Five Kingdoms?
Kathleen: You start super general (place names, general time period/level of tech, climate), then build your details on top of that. Every detail comes from somewhere, everything is the way it is for a reason. In those early stages it helped us to give each of the kingdoms a “thing” that they’re known for. For Fydoria, it’s knowledge and art, for Thorngate, it’s trees and archery, for Lykos, it’s jerks and backstabbers, lol.
That gave you a jumping off point for what these people would be like, and how they relate to the other kingdoms. We were also very deliberate about what colors and styles of clothing the different kingdoms would wear, which I was really into. It’s great to look at a character and immediately know whose team they’re on (or whose team they want you to think they’re on…)
Then you take your pages and pages of notes to the artists, and they do some kind of beautiful magic that turns your dreams into something real you can look at. We work with some AMAZING artists. I have the Aurelian castle set as my computer’s wallpaper because I like to stare at it all day.
Eric: Ditto what Kathleen said. The incredible art helps tremendously with this process. Sometimes we’d get a piece of art back and it’d be SOOOOO good that it’d inspire us to go in a new direction. That kind of moment (like with Val) is really special.
What did you consider the most challenging part of writing TC&TF?
Kathleen: Not making every chapter 5,000 lines long, haha. I have issues with writing these super long, flowery dialogues, but thankfully Eric is there to keep me in check. It can also be hard to find a character’s voice sometimes, especially if you and that character don’t have a lot in common.
Eric: Keeping Kathleen in check. HA! Seriously, though, we had a HUUUUGE cast, and all of the characters have compelling backstories and fun voices and fans on social media. Trying to make sure everyone got ample screentime (while still telling a good story) was tough.
Going off of that, what were your favorite scenes to write in TC&TF? (Spoiler alert!)
Kathleen: Oh man. I’m a mean person who loves writing the super intense emotional climaxes where everyone is crying and screaming at each other. So basically the whole Whitlock/Hex arc. One of my favorite writing moments though was when I was working on that kraken scene in book 2 and I had to turn to my boyfriend and say “Hey, what sound does a kraken make?” Boyfriend: “<kraken sound>” Me: “Yeah… but like, how do you spell that?”
Kara: My favorite scene to write was a dream sequence where Kenna and Dom get married, because I got to jump around in different scenarios and it felt a lot like fan fiction in the best way. But my second favorite was when Val has to pretend to be a handmaiden for Zenobia Nevrakis. I loved the idea of getting to see from Val’s point of view as she has to infiltrate this girly world of gowns and bodices. She’s usually a character who’s seen it all and can handle anything, so it was fun to get her out of her element for once.
Brandon: I had a major blast with the entire final battle, but I have a special place in my heart for the scene between Luther and Kenna in Chapter 13. I love when you get to shine the spotlight on a bad guy, in a way that makes you almost sympathize with them…but not quite.
Eric: By far, the action scene where Dom turns into a dragon for the first time. I was actually writing from my apartment, and I was like, “If I turned into a dragon, what would be the most fun, badass things I could do?” (Cut to me flapping my arms through the air as I run around my apartment breathing imaginary fire on unsuspecting Nevrakis boats…) It was silly, but I did get some good stuff outta that.
TC&TF is filled with so many different villains, heroes, and everyone in between. Who was your favorite character to write?
Kathleen: I have a soft spot for terse warrior types who just have no time for your nonsense, so writing Sei is always super fun. She behaves the way we all sort of wish we could, except she can get away with it because she’s crazy strong and can light you on fire with her mind.
Brandon: Oof, tough choice. I think we all have a lot of fun writing Val (because who doesn’t love that character who gives the bad guy the finger?). Personally, though, my favorites to write have been the Nevrakis, specifically Luther and Zenobia. Zenobia is just so annoyed and out of place most of the time, which is fun to play with. She’s like, “Ugghhh, dragons? Really? Whatever.” It’s like she stepped in off the set of Mean Girls. And Luther is just such a fun jerk. He’s got sort of a cynical wisdom, but also has zero self-awareness and is totally unapologetic for any of the ruthless stuff he’s done. That is a character I really love to hate.
Eric: Severin. I felt like his art asset was really imposing, and his character represented this first challenge for Kenna on this impossible path. It was fun to make him this physical, monosyllabic, gruff presence that couldn’t be reasoned with. She’d have to eventually fight him in combat to prove herself. Plus, he’s kinda dumb, and I love writing dumb characters. Alas, no one seems to care much for Severin…
In a way, TC&TF lives on in The Royal Romance. Olivia in TRR is a descendant of Zenobia, for one thing. If Kenna and Dom and the rest of the crew were around now in present day Cordonia, what do you think they’d be like?
Kathleen: Kenna is super responsible and runs her Kingdom like a proper adult, but when she gets frustrated with politics she dreams of running away to tour with Val and Sei’s metal band (Damsels of Destruction). Kailani just won like, 12 olympic medals for weightlifting and martial arts. During the off season she and Noa split their time between running a gym and touring with Cirque du Soleil. Whitlock runs one of those tech companies that does supersonic maglev trains and smart dishwashers and stuff. He’s totally gonna colonize Mars. This is fun, I wanna do this all day!
To write fantasy, you had to know the fantasy genre pretty well. What makes the fantasy genre special to you? And what are some of your favorite books?
Kathleen: I was raised on a diet of Grimm fairy tales and Greek legends (which probably explains a lot about me). I love the fantasy genre because you take these wild, magical worlds that look completely different from anything we know, and use them to explore themes that are really close to home (coming of age, sacrifice, family, etc). Fantasy is a dramatic metaphor for real life. Because I’m a huge nerd, I dig fantasy books that have logical, internally-consistent magic systems. Sabriel by Garth Nix is hands down my favorite book, but the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede was the first series I got super into. Arglefraster!
Eric: When I was little, I wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons with the older kids in my neighborhood, but they wouldn’t let me play. That led me to this one book (I don’t remember the name) that was basically like single-player D&D. It had a page where you kept track of your hit points, potions, etc. It was incredibly nerdy, but also the awesomest book I’d ever experienced. Little did I know it was paving the way for my career.
Pixelberry was the first place where I really felt comfortable letting my inner nerd loose. I finally got to not only play D&D (we ran a campaign after hours), but to write something within a similar world…
What’s next for The Crown & The Flame team? Can you give us a hint about what you’ll be working on after this?
Kathleen: *Evil cackling, hands rubbing together in glee* Ahem. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say that I seem to have been typecast as a genre writer and I am 100% okay with this.
Eric: No hints. We’re definitely not planning something for Halloween.
Ooh, intriguing… To all the fans of The Crown & The Flame, thank you for coming with us on this epic journey! Check back every week for more Choices adventures!
So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty — describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember.
Author’s Note: This is a prompt fill for @onegoodframe who asked for prompt #20, “Do you ever think about it? Us? Married?” Thanks to @zennie-fic for looking it over. Hope you like it!
“Do you ever think about it? Us? Married?”
Alex took a deep breath and glanced up from the chart she was reviewing, shooting a worried look at Cat Grant. Much to her surprise, the Queen of All Media didn’t look ruffled by Kara’s question in the least, but she did smirk slightly.
“Do you?” Cat asked nonchalantly, leaning forward in her chair as Kara stared at her from her bed in the medical bay of the DEO.
Biting her lip, Alex barely refrained from interjecting. Her sister had always had some weird… thing… for this woman, and, for the first time, Alex was witnessing it firsthand. She had to admit, the two women had chemistry, but with Kara powerless and drugged to the hilt on pain medication, now might not be the best time to let a former reporter interrogate her sister.
“Do I what?” Kara asked, sounding so light and airy Alex wondered if she’d float out of the bed if she’d been able to.
“Think about us being married?” Cat’s smirk became more pronounced.
Predictions: Kat predicted, halfheartedly, that someone was beautiful. Conventionally? Unconventionally? Who can say. Alex got mixed up with Some Kind of Wonderful, and wondered if perhaps this movie was a rip-off/spin-off/parody of that movie.
Plot: Pierce Brosnan is a poetry professor in Cambridge, England, whose father was also a poetry professor…maybe also in Cambridge, England? He always aspired to be just like him, which he seems to have achieved by being a terrible person, sleeping with students, etc. At the beginning of this movie, he is dating Jessica Alba. Is she a student?? Is she a grad student?? Is she just his girlfriend visiting his class, but happens to be about the same age as all his students???? It is unclear, but…none of these options are great, you guys.
At any rate, they have been dating for about six months, and she is soon to graduate (from…Cambridge?? probably?) and move back to the US, so she wants him to meet her family. He arrives at the hotel/restaurant and, while waiting for Jessica Alba to show up, hits on Salma Hayek at the bar. They seem to share a real connection, but then, obviously, she is Jessica Alba’s half-sister. She thoroughly disapproves of him, saying Jessica Alba has daddy issues, which Jessica Alba denies (but which is 100% true), and then, for some reason, Jessica Alba thinks this is a good time to tell them both that she’s pregnant. Will you move to Los Angeles with me and our child, Pierce Brosnan? He will!
Fast-forward to a few years later. Pierce Brosnan now lives in LA – wife and kid, community-college teaching job, etc. But, oh dear, Jessica Alba has realized that she never truly loved him at all (see above re: daddy issues), and is cheating on him with Ben McKenzie. They break up, while at the same time Salma Hayek gets engaged – but then they also break up due to cheating. So much cheating. So much. Anyway, Pierce Brosnan, wanting to remain close to his (adorable) young son, moves into the guest house and tries to salvage his splintering life. Unfortunately, things do not improve. Among other poor choices, he mixes painkillers with alcohol one day before attending what is essentially a job interview, fails spectacularly, and gets a DUI. As a result, Salma Hayek is asked to come visit and keep an eye on him and the kid, while Jessica Alba and Ben McKenzie go away. Blah blah blah, they obviously have sex.
Meanwhile, Pierce Brosnan also has immigration problems. Apparently, even though he got married to Jessica Alba several years ago, and has been living here in the US ever since, he is too much of a dickbag, for some reason, to go to his goddamn greencard interview???? Now, it is his last chance, and he needs her to come with him to the interview, and he needs to complete this alcohol diversion program, and he needs…oh, so many things he needs. Long story short, he gets deported and divorced and everything is terrible. But then! His dad dies, and, as a final gift(??) to his son, wants his ashes scattered in California. So Pierce Brosnan flies to Mexico and…crosses the border with a bunch of Mexicans????????????
In the end, Salma Hayek and Jessica Alba – who have been in a fight, as you might imagine – make up, and the whole weird family goes to scatter Pierce Brosnan’s dad’s ashes together. Pierce Brosnan then…proposes to Salma Hayek on the pier???? They all live…happily ever after????????
Best Scene: When Pierce Brosnan first meets Salma Hayek at the hotel/restaurant. At this point, we did not yet know that this movie was not the romantic comedy we had imagined, and we thought that they would just have a nice meet-cute, and the rest of the movie would be about him breaking up with Jessica Alba and getting together with Salma Hayek. How wrong we were, but, at the time, this first scene was kind of charming and funny.
Worst Scene: You mean, besides when PIERCE BROSNAN illegally crosses the border from Mexico?????? Casually, no big deal, not like this is a life-or-death situation and not just a charming scene with a man in a scarf???? WELL. BESIDES THAT SCENE, we suppose the worst scene could have been when he a) bombs at the faculty-mixer-job-interview thing – bad – or b) drives away drunk/high, careening horrifyingly down the street – really bad.
Best Line: “Obviously, you are looking for a father figure, but, in our case, it means a self-centered, cheating womanizer who’s not to be trusted.” – Salma Hayek, sizing up Pierce Brosnan when they first meet, and advising Jessica Alba not to be lured in by her daddy issues. Strange, really, to think that Salma Hayek later is psyched to marry this man????
Worst Line: Honestly, the whole movie was very mediocre, and it was hard to pick a best or a worst line. But, if pressed, we’d say that Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek’s reunion is pretty gross, as was everything that came out of Pierce Brosnan’s dad’s sleazy British mouth.
Highlights of the Watching Experience: Well… At one point, Salma Hayek walks in on her fiancé?? husband?? cheating on her in their bed with her gynecologist. We have already learned at this point that this guy is a self-absorbed author, but this scene allows us the particular magic of discovering that he HUNG A GIANT PICTURE OF HIMSELF over their bed. Hey, Salma Hayek – sorry to say it, but we feel like you could have seen this coming.
How Many POC in the Film: Many! Jessica Alba. Salma Hayek. Merrin Dungey as Pierce Brosnan’s community-college colleague/friend. Some other professor at that faculty mixer. Pierce Brosnan’s dentist, who advises him NOT to mix those painkillers with alcohol, and then he doesn’t listen. Pierce Brosnan’s immigration lawyer. Pierce Brosnan’s immigration lawyer’s other clients. Pierce Brosnan’s immigration comrades as he crosses the border from Mexico (UGH, UGH, A THOUSAND TIMES UGH).
Alternate Scenes: Well…the normal romcom we thought this movie was going to be, before Jessica Alba announced she was pregnant. Or, the version of this movie in which Salma Hayek and Pierce Brosnan fake-dated to solve his immigration problem, and also there was no DUI. Or, the version of this movie in which Pierce Brosnan just sent back the freaking letter on time, and then none of this would have happened, you entitled British moron.
Was the Poster Better or Worse than the Film: Better. The poster suggests that Pierce Brosnan is a dad-type having some sort of midlife crisis, but then realizes how great his life really is, with his wife Salma Hayek, and his daughter Jessica Alba. As much as this film about Pierce Brosnan’s white-guy problems would have also bored us, it might have been preferable to the movie we actually watched.
Score: 3.5 out of 10 don’t-drink-and-drive smooches. DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE, KIDS!!!!
Ranking: 41, out of the 54 movies we’ve seen so far. This movie…was it a romcom?? If it was, it was not a very good one. If it was a drama, it was also not a great one of those. It…had a lot going on. In…not a lot of time?? And yet, it felt like an eternity.