Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chapter By Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades of Grey: chapters 6-10

Chapter Six


In the Greymobile, Ana is all upset that Christian is saying nothing about their kiss. This is more than likely because the kiss just happened and there’s nothing really to talk about. Ana starts getting really irrational about how Christian is driving so perfectly and not talking and I’m like, what does she want him to do? Pull down her panties and start giving her a handy while they drive? He’s driving a car. Leave him alone.

The silence is soon broken by Christian taking a bunch of phone calls on speaker just to show how important he is. One of those people is his brother Emmett…er...Elliott, who apparently went home with Kate the night before. Elliott is a pretty nice guy, proving that Christian’s problems stem from sociopathy rather than his upbringing. Ana gets sort of jealous about how free and easy Kate and Elliott are with each other, and Christian’s like, “I’m not going to kiss you again unless it’s premeditated” and Ana is fine with that instead of wanting to run away.

Elliot tells Kate, “Laters, baby,” and you need to remember this because it will be in the book about ten thousand more times.

So, Ana and Christian have a date set, and it involves strapping Ana into a helicopter harness. Christian enjoys strapping her in, and then starts making comments about how she’s always biting her lower lip, and he wants to be the one to bite it, etc.

Basically, he wants her to control a nervous tick of hers because it drives him crazy, and he apparently has no self-control. Well, this is actually okay since Ana apparently doesn’t either.

Is the lip-biting thing a nod to how Kristin Stewart “acts” in Twilight? She’s all lip biting and twitchy and looks like she’s going to throw up every few minutes, which is somehow even more annoying than Bella Swan, so I’m just curious about this lip biting thing.

Ana asks if they’re going to make love, and Christian’s all, “I don’t make love. I fuck. Hard.” And he’s not going to do anything until she understands what she’s getting into.

I have this in my notes: “Oh, who am I kidding. i don't care how kinky the author wants things to get, if there's anything other than missionary in here, i'll eat my hat.”



Chapter Seven



Christian takes Ana to his playroom. She says, “The walls are dark burgundy giving a womb-like effect to the room.” Eh. Yeah. So sexy. Eugh. Jeez.

who's a cute widdwe ewephant? Who? You are! You are!


So, when I first read through this, I thought he had figured out that she was a virgin, seeing as how he knew everything about her from her clothing size to her address to her taste in books, but apparently he hadn’t figured it out yet, so I was really incredulous during this scene. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t just have sex with her regularly a few times just to get her acclimated, and then introduce the other stuff, so I found this whole scene really disconcerting.



Ana, to her credit, asks some good questions about the whole thing, and she wants to know what she gets out of being a sub. She gets him, of course.

All aboard the Bingley express


So, I’m not an expert at D/s. It’s not really a lifestyle I’m into, but I have known others who are into it. Some who have even kept subs in collars and whatnot. It’s an interesting lifestyle, but it’s not usually combined with sex. D/s is usually a fulfilling activity in its own right, and it’s not unusual for people who participate in the lifestyle to go for months at a time without having actual sex. I will say this again: Christian is into kink, not BDSM. He likes sex. Rough sex. He likes to spank and punish and order someone around, but at the end of the day, he likes sex. It’s what he’s after. The spanking and the ordering around is not enough for him.



He also wants to not really have much of a relationship with his sub. This again would be against BDSM guidelines. Doms and subs need to be able to trust each other implicitly, and you don’t get that sort of relationship from spending a few hours in a playroom on the weekends. If you are a sub, then your Dom has complete control over you unless you tell him/her to stop. If you don’t trust them to stop when you tell them to, then you cannot trust them. If you are a Dom, you need to trust your sub to tell you when to stop. When you don’t trust that other person, people get hurt. People who are in these relationships usually know more about each other than couples who have been together for fifty years.



Anyway, eventually Ana informs Christian that she’s a virgin and he freaks out quite a bit because he’s all about control, and this was something he hadn’t foreseen. I will admit that his reaction is mildly adorable. He’s like, “We need to get you de-virginized STAT!” Of course, he’s pissed that she didn’t tell him about it. What was she supposed to do? When was she supposed to tell him? When they first met? I don’t get this guy. He makes no sense.



Chapter eight



They have sex. Geez. About time. Afterwards, he goes all sad sparkley vampire and plays a song on the piano.

The only time it's acceptable for a man to brood while playing piano. Hi, Johnny.


Chapter Nine



Ana wakes up, turns on her music, and starts dancing around the kitchen. Of course Mr. Creepy comes to watch and order her around, but that’s what he does.



Ana finally calls Kate, which is about twelve hours later than she said she’d call her. I’m totally disappointed in Kate for not calling the cops. Really, Kate, this is what friends do.



Okay, before I say this next part, I just want to be honest about the fact that I haven’t read much about this book before I actually read it. I did know that it was supposedly about BDSM, and that it was based on Twilight, which isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination, really. But I didn’t know which direction the book was going in (see above, re: my thinking Christian had to know Ana was a virgin). But this was my thought process:



This book is about BDSM (supposedly).



It’s based on Twilight.



Twitards are all about fantasy and making men who seem perfect but are really deeply sociopathic.



BDSM makes sense in that context, HOWEVER—



There is no way that this story would have been popular if it was about actual BDSM AND SO



The book must be about Ana finding out what happened with Christian earlier in his life that led him to this path and must THEREFORE



Find a way to cure Christian of his BDSM preoccupation.



Note from the future: You are so good, baby. Laters.



I’m really sorry. Really, I am. I’m slightly disappointed that it turned out to be this way. But these are my notes:



“christian says he never had vanilla sex before, which makes me wonder if he jumped in only doing bdsm, which is sort of like trying to build a highrise without a foundation.






well, this book wouldn't be very popular if it was actually about kinky sex, so maybe ana is supposed to teach christian how to do vanilla.”



I do think it’s nice that Christian tells Ana that she’s beautiful and compliments her and whatnot. It really is a good thing to tell the girl you’re sleeping with that she’s pretty.



I have issues with Ana performing her first BJ perfectly, and that she’s done it in a full bathtub as well. I’ll admit that I started skimming once the sex got graphic, but this is a bit unbelievable. People need help with this kind of stuff, so either she’s been practicing on her own, or she’s a miracle worker because he gives her an A.



Christian really wants her to sign the contract. I would think that if he really had her sexual well-being at heart, he’d want her to have more experience. Oh, but he owns her virginity. Retch. Whatever.



His mom comes over and Christian wants Ana to meet her. I hope we learn why he’s so messed up.



Chapter Ten



His mom wears neutrals because of course she does. She seems like a pretty decent lady, though, and she seems to be pleased that Ana is there.



After Mom goes away, Ana answers her phone thinking it must be Kate, and it’s Jose.



Okay, so the night that Christian came to the bar to “rescue” Ana, he found Jose pawing at her and trying to kiss her, and Christian has hated Jose ever since. And now he’s all pissed off that Ana is talking to Jose, and Ana wants to know why, and it’s because she’s Christian’s, not Jose’s, and…yeah. Way to set feminism back three hundred years. Does Jose need to give him a goat and three chickens to make up for it?



Christian says that Ana wanting to discuss their relationship is defiant on her part. So is wanting to have friends and a social life and all that other stuff that Christian thinks she shouldn’t have because she’s “his” and he doesn’t need those things.



Okay, so one of the things that makes a lot of sense is that Christian wanted Ana to sign a nondisclosure agreement. I get this. Could you imagine if Bill Gates was into BDSM? Heck, could you imagine if Jared from Subway was into BDSM? The tabloids would have a field day. But Ana needs to talk to Kate. Not about the bondage, but just about the sex. Christian isn’t into this. He thinks Ana should ask him all of her sex questions. Yeah. This is how he is. So, finally, he’s like, “Be discreet.” She will.



He drives her home, and I have this in my notes: “he is obsessed with her eating. is this a thing in the twilight fandom? is it because of the first book when edward was all over bella to eat and drink her coke after she almost got raped? is this their gauge at how much a guy likes you? i am glad i don't know, but sort of wish i did.”



I don’t get the eating thing. He lords over Ana until she is too nervous to eat, and then she can’t eat, and he lords over her for not eating.



Ladies (and gentlemen…), if this is what your relationship is like, you need to get out of it. This is not an equitable relationship. I feel like I need to stress this over and over again. This is not a good relationship. If a guy (or girl) makes you feel badly about yourself, you need to walk away from them. It will be hard, but you have to do it.



Okay, so Ana and Kate talk about sex and all that, and then Jose calls and accuses Ana of liking Christian because of his money. This goes over as well as you think it would. We can’t like Jose of course. If we liked Jose, we might think that he’d be better for Ana, and if we thought someone would be better for Ana, then we'd think Christian wasn't right for her. It's this sort of logical fallacy that keeps us going in this story. "Well, who else can she be with?" because her being single is out of the question. Don't forget: if she doesn't snatch up Christian, she'll be a crazy cat lady in her thirties and she'll never be loved by anyone!



Later, Ana is able to eat without Christian nagging her. Big surprise! He’d better stay away from the Souplantation. I was there over the weekend, and someone had three huge pieces of bread on a plate in the busboy station. It was pretty shameful. I mean, it's a buffet. You take one piece of bread, and if you want more, you go back for more. How hard is this? But they had to take three pieces and only eat a half of one. There are starving children in Africa!



We find out that Christian Grey was taken under the wing of a much older Dom while he was in high school, and Ana (and pretty much everyone else in the world) considers this to be sexual abuse. Again, I have this as my note before I read the rest of the book: “I wonder if he would look at it that way? Since I predict that this book will be about making Grey less kinky and more normal, I guess we have to deal with his angst later.”



I am sooo good. Really.



Our last thought before the end of the chapter is Ana thinking she’d never know about BDSM if she didn’t know Christian. I actually want to know how she’s never known about it before. I knew about it by the time I was….fourteen? I think? Grow up, little girl.



Laters, baby. More to come.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chapter by Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapters 3-5

Chapter three


I have this in my notes: “i wish kate was a sassy black friend instead of the dull white girl that she is. this book needs some color. i'm tired of all the grey. wokka wokka.”



So, Kate is Ana’s really close friend (and my friend Cassandra pointed out in her article that Kate never wonders if Ana is gay despite the fact that Ana has men swarming her and isn’t interested in any of them. Sort of odd, yeah?), and she’s all rich and Society and enjoys shopping and crap. Her parents bought a duplex for her when she went to college, and a nice Mercedes and all sorts of stuff, but she still manages to be a nice person.



Guess what, Author? The kids at my college who are given all that stuff? They are clueless moronic frat boys and sorority girls. They have no sense of responsibility or money, and they don’t take any pride in ownership. Their cars start out the year all shiny and sleek and end filled with empty Del Taco cups and scratches and dings and a layer of dust on the paint job. If you want to make Kate a really well-rounded character, I need more from you. You see, I live in this world, and I have never met a girl like Kate who wasn’t put through paces of work at an early age.



Anyway, it turns out that Ana doesn’t even know why Kate had her interview Grey. She thought it was just some sort of project, but it turns out that Grey will be giving a commencement speech, and he is awarding a 2.5 million grant to the college. I would like to know if it’s a one-time grant, or a yearly grant, because honestly, 2.5 million isn’t huge in the scheme of education. Anyway, Ana’s cluelessness knows no bounds, how can she be unaware of this? I’m assuming that Christian is supposed to be like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. If one of these guys was going to speak at your university, wouldn’t you know about it? If they gave grants, wouldn’t you have heard?



So, Kate is working really hard on the article and bemoans not having a picture of Grey. This is stupid. That’s what Google Images is for. Ana calls her “Carla Bernstein” and I roll my eyes hard. (note from the future: rolling your eyes is apparently bad.) Ana decides to call Christian Grey on his cell phone, which he gave her the number to while they were at the hardware store, and ask for a photoshoot. Of course, the usual photog for the school paper is out, so it will have to be Jose who takes over. This is going to go over like a lead zeppelin. These two are going to get along great.



Apparently, Ana can hear Christian’s “sphinx-like” smile as she talks with him. I have in my notes, “do sphinxes smile? QED.” The answer is…no! They do not! The definition of sphinx-like is “mysterious and not allowing people to know what you are thinking.” She asks him to do a photo shoot. He says yes. All of her needed interactions with him are currently satisfied. She doesn’t need to know any of his other secrets.



So, Christian shows up a day early for the commencement so Kate can get some pictures, and he goes to the room with pants that hang from his hips. Are they palazzo pants? They hang from his hips? He’s a CEO of a very large multi-million dollar corporation. I have a hard time believing that his pants are not impeccably tailored to fit him perfectly. Heck, Bill Gates is the kind of guy who shows up places looking like he jogged the last half-mile in 90% humidity, and yet his pants are tailored. Surely someone as gorgeous and good-looking as Christian Grey has pants that fit even better. But no, they hang from his hips, and every gang-banger in Santa Ana with their pants sagging down past their hips is now as well dressed as this imaginary CEO.

Pictured: Palazzo Pants hanging from the hip


Ana describes a bodyguard-type guy and makes sure we know he’s watching everything with his hazel eyes. I’m SO GLAD we cleared that up. How would I know what to think of this (yet again) white guy if I don’t know what color his eyes are? Heaven forefend! Now I know so much about him and feel so much better for the knowing.



Kate is not flustered by Christian. According to Ana, it’s because her family has money and shit, but really? Can it be that maybe Kate doesn’t lust after the guy? And maybe if she does lust after him, she’s just really good at hiding it because she’s not some socially awkward person who can’t hide her feelings?



Christian Grey has copper-colored hair that is wild and crazy, and that makes me think of the guy who plays Bingley in the current Pride and Prejudice movie.


Simply Resistible. But totes adorbs.


Yeah, he’s cute and all. But he’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Pictured: My cup of tea.


I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to change the ideal of what a handsome, macho man is. I think it’s great that we’re seeing more heroes who are blonde and ginger, and yes, at times, even (gasp!) brown or black (not in this book, though…just so you know). But the obsession that this author has with this guy’s hair is just unhealthy, and that we get every few minutes an update on how wild and unruly it is…I don’t care if he’s Prince Harry. I don’t want to hear it. Give him some actual characterization already and leave his hair alone! It’s probably going to fall out in the next ten years anyway.

Pictured: Prince Harry. Most people's cup of tea.


Where was I?



Oh, right. The book.



Jacob…er…Jose and Christian don’t like each other after just one look. That’s it. No more. They hate each other. But they do the photo shoot.



I have this in my notes: “everyone is still murmuring and muttering. doesn't anyone just talk in this book?”



So, the murmuring and muttering. No one “says” a word. They murmur, mutter, mumble, whisper, choke, shout, caress, taste, but no actual talking in an understandable way. I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that there would be a lot fewer misunderstandings later on in the book if everyone would just “say” something now and then. And while I hate it when an author has their characters “say” a question rather than “ask,” I have never faulted an author for just letting their characters talk. I read a book a few months ago where all the characters “chuckled” out their words, no matter how inappropriate a chuckle would be with said words, but I never felt like shouting “Mumbler!” at them.



Moving on.



So, Christian asks Ana out to coffee despite the fact that Ana doesn’t drink coffee (sorry, no tea or frappuccino for you!), and she says yes, but then Kate goes all mother bear on her and is like, “He’s dangerous for a girl like you.” and “like you” means “a virgin” because going for coffee means having sex immediately afterwards, perhaps even in the bathroom while drinking the coffee.



I have this in my notes: “okay, no one has even held her hand? has she been in a convent or a cult for the last twenty-two years?” This is what the narration says. No one has held her hand.



A few more notes:



“how do you gaze at someone through your lashes? do you have to squint? wouldn't that be unattractive?






i'm so glad i know the table they're sitting at is birch veneer! i'd hate to be under the impression that it's real walnut or pine!






he wonders why she's so repressed and uncomfortable around him. probably because he's the only one to ever make her feel sexually attracted to anyone.






she's always blushing.






so, he asks her if she has a boyfriend, and if she's uncomfortable around men, and all this, but she asks him if he has a girlfriend, and then she gets embarrassed?






and he doesn't do the girlfriend thing.






of course she almost falls into the street.






he saves her and they embrace, and she wants to be kissed for the first time.






no one said lust made sense.”






And that’s the end of the chapter.



Chapter four



Christian warns Ana away from him. He’d just be no good for her and he can’t give her what she wants. So no to sex then? Then he goes on and on about what could have happened in the bicyclist had hit her, she could have been seriously injured or something, and he just “shudders to think” what could have happened. It’s just…the most insane rejection I’ve ever read, coming from a character who is going out of his way to put himself in the presence of this woman, which reads to me that he’s emotionally unstable and she’s better off without him.



Well done, Ana. Good job of dodging that bullet. Next thing you know, he’ll be trying to run your life. (note from the future: there is no way to get him to stop running her life.)



She finally thinks of the guys she’s rejected in the past, and she wonders if they’ve ever felt this way about her. Well, in her defense, she’s never asked them out, shot off probing questions at them, and then told them to stay away from her. And now I’m mad because I’m defending her, but come on. There’s a huge difference between leading someone on and telling someone no.



Ana decides to get drunk, which she’s apparently never done before. Before she gets her drink on, though, there’s a delivery of books for her—several first edition books from the 1800’s—from Christian of course. This is how he gets her to stay away? Is this supposed to be sexy?



At the bar, Jose says, “Dios mio.” I counter with, “!Hijole!” Ana is apparently countering with “Reposado.”

Guacatelas.



Ana eventually becomes so inebriated that she decides to drunk dial Christian because that’s what anyone who got drunk would do, and no I’m not saying that sarcastically. This is why you leave your phone at home when you’re mad at someone and decide to get drunk. There is no way this can end badly.



What’s horrible here is not that Ana drunk-dials Christian. I mean, that’s normal. What’s horrible is his reaction. He gets all upset, and then RUNS DOWN TO THE DAMN BAR TO GET ANA BEFORE SHE CAN HURT HERSELF BECAUSE SHE IS THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE WORLD TO EVER GET DRUNK AND HAVE TO RELY ON THE GOODNESS OF HER FRIENDS TO GET HER HOME.



This is so ridiculous. I cannot find this man attractive. He is overbearing and controlling and high-handed and so very, very sanctimonious and I just don’t get the attraction. There is no way that this man is anything other than annoying and to be avoided at all costs. He is not sexy or protective. This is not what you want in a man, ladies. If you are dating someone and they treat you like this, run!



He tells her that her being drunk is “beyond the pale.” Yes, he says that without any hint of irony. He also decides to spin her around the dance floor after he found her puking in the bushes, which just goes to show that he’s as stupid about her safety as she is. Jeez. What kind of idiot does this?



So, she faints.



Chapter six



Ana wakes up in Christian’s hotel room, in his bed, and then gets a huge lecture about responsibility and getting drunk and thanks a lot, Dad! Then he says that if she were “his,” she wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week. Thanks again, Dad! Time to cut those apron strings. She is so much better off without him and why oh WHY am I on Ana’s side? Good lord I hate this book!



He makes her take a shower and then scolds her for having damp hair because that’s how you catch a cold, doncha know. It has nothing to do with germs and viruses, just cold hair. You know what, Christian? She’s survived twenty two years without you ordering her around, I’m sure she can survive a whole lot longer.



Ana’s all concerned about waking up in his bed, and Christian writes that off quickly. He won’t touch her without written consent. This is not creepy in any way.



So, Christian went all Richard Gere in Pretty Woman on the breakfast items, and then starts scolding Ana for not eating much. He hates wasted food. Maybe he should have thought of that before ordering one of everything from the breakfast menu. It’s so nice to see that the plagiarism ideals Cassie Claire started all those years ago are still running strong. The only reason I can see for him ordering so much is so that he can yell at Ana when she wastes food, and then to keep her from seeing through his straw man, he starts scolding her for not eating before she got drunk the night before.

I wasn't sure what you would like, so I orderd one of everything. OMG, why aren't you eating it all you wasteful bitch!


If Christian is really upset about how Ana was the night before, then he should have just let her be. Blaming her because he’s a controlling sociopath who has a desire to own and control the lives of other people is not a decision based in logic. It makes no sense, and he is in essence blaming someone else for his own mistake.



THIS IS NOT SEXY! THIS DOES NOT EVEN LOOK LIKE SEXY! THIS DOES NOT BELONG IN THE SAME ROOM WITH SEXY! IT IS TO SEXY WHAT A HAWK IS TO A HANDSAW!



So, they go down in the elevator and make out. He holds her hands over her head the entire kiss so she can’t touch him. See above.



More to come.

Let's talk about sex.

Hi, ladies. Let's talk.

Look, I know that more than a few of you had really bad experiences the first time you had sex. Some of you were maybe pressured to do it before you were ready--maybe by your friends or boyfriend--and some of you just wanted it over with already. Some of you even wanted it for the wrong reasons.

Sex is a very emotionally charged act, especially since you're usually naked when it happens, and you often feel vulnerable both before and after, and that first time can be sort of odd and painful and, as I heard once, can make you have that embarrassing feeling like you just wet the bed.

Even after that first time, sex can be dirty and sticky and be had for the wrong reasons, or can be an unbalanced act where one partner is more invested than the other and everyone ends up feeling it was less than desirable. Sometimes, hindsight can make good sex seem bad, especially after a really bad break-up. Especially if that was your "first."

But let me just tell you; that experience? That's part of you now. Your virginity? You didn't "give" it "away." You absorbed it. Your hymen is yours, it will remain yours, and it will always be yours. The guy you were with? He doesn't retain any part of you, except that lingering feeling that he lost a really good thing when he lost you.

Your sex is what you make of it, whether you want FWB or a committed relationship or a polyamorous commune. It is your body, and no one owns it but you. Your pleasure is yours to be had, and shared if you wish. Own your body. Own your sex. Own whatever area of your life, whether you are proud of it or not. It is yours to cherish and learn from. Don't be embarrassed by any of it.

Finally, do not, under any circumstances, write a book about the way you wish you would have lost it, and create a guy to lose it to who is in no way resembling of any man alive. You are better than that. You are human, and so is the guy you had sex with at the first. Also, that guy you're imagining? He will never exist, and you don't want him to, either. Don't be EL James and Stephenie Meyer and Kathleen Woodiwiss and all of those other authors who create really outlandish men and the virgins they seduce.

Just be you.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chapter-By-Chapter Synopsis: Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapters 1 and 2

We open our book with our heroine staring at herself in a mirror. This is not the worst plot device ever conceived. I’ve never seen it done well, though, not even by seasoned writers. We learn through this mirror contemplation that AnaBella has dark, unruly hair and blue eyes that are too large for her face. Her skin is, of course, pale like porcelain and we the readers are supposed to think, “Oh, she’s so plain!” Yes, women with elfin faces are just heifers.

I do sympathize about the hair, though. My own hair is naturally wavy and then has large curls at the very ends (just the ends, mind—and I mean the very ends—the last half –inch or so), which was very annoying when I had it cut in a shorter jaw-length bob, but since I’ve grown it out past my shoulders, it looks slightly Middletonian, but only if I spend about twenty minutes on it in the morning with a blow dryer and a wide round brush.

Do you have a good idea about what my hair looks like now? AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO LOOK IN A FREAKIN’ MIRROR TO DO THAT. (Yeah, I know you thought I was being vain or something, but I was just showing how it’s done. If you want to know about my eyes, they’re green, just the right size for my face, and I have freckles so no porcelain skin for me. Boo. I guess I’ll never be as plain as a fanfiction heroine.)

AnaBella has a roommate who is also her best friend and has been all through college. I’m not saying this is impossible, I’m just saying that an eighteen-year-old heading into a situation where she is suddenly on her own for the first time in her life might actually find herself with a completely set of circumstances four years later when she is ready to leave said situation. But personal growth isn’t what we’re looking for here. AnaBella must be as unchangeable as a rock. Said roommate is Kate, a strawberry blonde who looks good even while having the flu and wearing flannel PJ’s with bunnies on them (um…where can I get a set of those jammies?), which would be a great place for the author to put AnaBella’s description as a contrast, rather than have her look in a mirror. Just saying.

Anyway, Kate needs AnaBella to head into Seattle for an interview with billionaire telecommunications mogul Christian Grey. She gives AnaBella a bunch of questions to ask him, a recorder, her Mercedes, and a wish of good luck, and soon AnaBella is off to another world where high-rise buildings are modern works of art (yes, they can be) made out of nothing but white walls, sandstone counters, and steel. In this world, there are only pretty blonde, impeccably dressed interns, and AnaBella is just totally out of her element. She should have worn a suit or something more suitable to the atmosphere.

In my college, we are forced to take a class that prepares us for any sort of interview, and the professors impress on us over and over again to always wear well tailored and pressed suits and plain shirts in an office setting, so I’m surprised that AnaBella didn’t figure this out on her own. Again, this twenty two-year-old is still acting like a sixteen-year-old.

We get our first glimpse at a non-white person who (of course) has dreadlocks and is dressed in yet another impeccable suit. I can’t help but wonder if this will be the only minority in this book. I think every minority in the world is hoping so.

Finally, AnaBella gets to meet Christian Grey, who she knows nothing about, and spectacularly face-plants on the ground by tripping over her own feet before doing so. This is because she’s clumsy. I mean, we can’t make her eyes too small for her face, or give her the odd pimple every now and then, or even a little rosacea around her forehead and on her cheeks, so we have to make her clumsy. I have to wonder if she can open a gift without getting a paper cut. Probably not.

Christian Grey is an Adonis. No, she actually calls him that. When I think of an Adonis, I think of Shemar Moore, not some pasty redhead, but to each her own.

Shemar Moore. You're welcome.

Chrisward has copper hair and grey eyes. If he had some other color, would his last name be different? AnaBella’s last name is Steele, so if they got married, their name would be Steele-Grey. Oooh, author. I see what you did there!

The interview commences, and AnaBella asks him really innocuous questions about how he got started, etcetera, and Chrisward answers politely and truthfully, and AnaBella decides he’s being very arrogant and calls him on it. He’s like, “Yo, I have twenty thousand people working for me. If I quit what I’m doing tomorrow, all those people would be out of a job. I have responsibility to them you lackwitted imbecile.” AnaBella’s all, “Oooh, he’s so arrogant! How dare he comment that he has that sort of power over people? How dare he know who he is and what he wants out of life! Who does that, anyway?”

Who indeed. Who indeed.

I’m sorry, I need to go and weep for anyone who thinks this character is a strong woman. Good lord, she doesn’t even know what she wants to do after college! And she’s been there for four years!

The author tries to go all Bogey/Bacall, Tracy/Hepburn, Grant/Russell on us, but it all just falls flat. AnaBella keeps trying to argue with Chrisward about how arrogant he is, but his answers are so logical that I as a reader think she sounds like a petulant little whiner. Also, her thought processes are just so crazy, she decides that everything he says is a double entendre, so her responses are also double entendres, and it’s very uncomfortable for me as a reader to think that he’s turning her on by saying that there’s nothing wrong with owning things, or knowing what you want and going and getting it.

In my notes, I have: “she does realize she’s putting everything on a recorder, right?”

AnaBella finally gets that she’s in an argument she can’t win, so goes onto the next question Kate put on the list. “Are you gay?” This of course makes Christian Grey angry. A guy secure in his straightness would laugh this off, so my personal answer to this question is “probably. Either that or a huge homophobe.” Since the story hinges on these two getting together, I’ll go with the latter.

Seriously, my dad asked me if I was gay, and I laughed so hard at that. I was angry at him for asking me because it was none of his business, but when he asked, all I could do was laugh.

So, Chrisward finally gets good and angry at AnaBella, which good for him. I hope his anger is because it’s none of her business and not because he thinks it’s an insult, and calls in for quid pro quo. Quid pro quo, Clarisse. He starts asking her all the questions. Really tough ones, like what she wants to do after college. When she has to admit that she doesn’t know (she’s just in college for fun? Just to spend time? She has no goal in mind? I think of Auntie Mame where Mame asks Gloria what her major is, and Gloria's like, "My what?") Chrisward offers her an internship, which is pretty nice considering he doesn’t know what her major is. AnaBella thinks about all of the gorgeous blondes in their impeccable suits and says that she just so obviously wouldn’t fit in at Grey Enterprises or whatever it’s called. He’s all, “I don’t think it’s obvious at all” and a million fangirls cream themselves because he can look past her awkward, ugly exterior and see how good she is on the inside!

Finally, AnaBella decides to go, and Chrisward walks her out and helps her into her jacket. When they touch, sparks fly. She can feel it! The electricity between them is so palpable!

I have this in my notes: i'd love a counter to this in chrisward's perspective. "Stupid young girl comes into office. trips all over herself. starts asking probing questions and getting flustered and even visibly angered by my responses. i escort her out in order to ensure she actually leaves my office, and she gasps when i put her jacket--some low-class nylon thing she more than likely bought at WalMart...good God, what if she accepts my intern proposal and comes dressed in this...jacket? It's a jacket, yes?--on her and touch her shoulder. just to unnerve her, i call her by her given name. who names their kid anastasia, anyway? she calls me by my christian name and i can't help but laugh at how pathetic she is at playing hardball. a tenth grader could talk his way into her pants. pathetic."


In chapter two, we open with AnaBella not trying to think about Christian Grey. Oh, Chrisward! The first man AnaBella has ever thought of in this way! And she wants to know what it was about him. One of the markers was his civility. Civility? Is this Regency-Era London? No other guy has ever been civil to her? This is the great power he has over her? Oh, AnaBella. There is so much more to life. Too bad you’ve never tried to learn what.

Back at home, Kate is walking around and talking for some reason, and I wonder if the author has ever had the flu. Either Kate was faking, or the soup AnaBella made for her had angel tears in it, because she’s all ready for food and to talk about Christian Grey. AnaBella gives Kate her tape and muses that Chrisward is so very cryptic and arrogant because a guy who takes his responsibilities seriously, and who doesn’t appreciate personal questions about his sexuality is just an enigma wrapped in a Batman cape and deep fried in the blood of orphans.

In my notes, I have: protagonist: ur doin it rong

So, Kate can tell that Chrisward was totes into AnaBella from the recording and teases her about it, so AnaBella throws herself into studying and work in order to not get all hot and bothered by the implications of Chrisward liking her. Are we in middle school?

To keep her mind busy, AnaBella calls her often-married mother who immediately picks up on the fact that AnaBella met someone because that’s how mothers work. She then calls her mother’s second husband, who AnaBella considers to be her father. He apparently taught her the difference between a hawk and a handsaw. I must be a genius, because I didn’t need my dad to teach me the difference between the two.

hawk

handsaw









It’s also really good that AnaBella knows the difference, since there are a lot of hawks in Washington State, and she works at a hardware store. It’d be terrible if she mixed them up.

We eventually meet José, who is totally not Jacob because Jacob is Native American, and we all know that South Americans, Mexican Americans, and Native Americans have nothing in common with each other. José brings our minority count to two, and considering that there are only three actually white characters so far, this book is already 100% more racially diverse than Twilight.

Joscob has the same role in this novel as in Twilight, which is to be in love with AnaBella, but in an unrequited way. He is a photographer, and a studio in town wants to display his photos, and I love this because I think every college student has a friend who is either an artist or a photographer, and they always manage to get their work displayed somewhere, and then everyone has to go and see it and ooh and ahh like they’re Ansel Adams or Van Gogh, so nicely played, Author.

AnaBella goes to work at the hardware store where she firmly knows the difference between a hawk and a handsaw, but no word yet on whether she can tell the difference between a paint gun and a porcupine. Of course Christian Grey walks into the store, and of course AnaBella can tell what he’s wearing from his boots to his cream-colored sweater. I have in my notes: chrisward cullrey is standing behind her counter, and she knows the sort of boots he's wearing already. walking boots. when customers stand behind your counter, you look at their shoes first. of course he's wearing a neutral color. and of course he's at the hardware store by sheer coincidence.

Stalking: ur doin it rite.

So, this is the “warm and husky” voice quote part:
"his voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel...or something."

Yes. Or something. That is what ten dollars buys you. Or something.

Chrisward spends a lot of time smiling enigmatically like he has a secret only he knows. I can understand someone laughing at a private joke, because I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of that, but I don’t get how you get that from a smile. I’ve seen smiles be mocking or grateful, or acknowledging an act of kindness. But if I’m talking to someone and they’re smiling, I tend to think they’re smiling at me or at the situation we’re in. The only time I’d think someone was smiling at something I wasn’t a part of is if they were on their own, in which case, their smiling at some secret thing would make sense. AnaBella really projects a lot onto Chrisward. And there can be no other explanation because the narrator is Word of God, and that’s all we get. How about, “He’s smiling, and I hope he’s smiling at me and not laughing at a private joke he’s thinking of as I talk to him.”

So, Chrisward is at the hardware store for really creepy stuff like zip ties, duct tape, and rope. I can’t help but wonder if he has a van with tinted windows and an airbrushed painting of unicorns and naked women on it in the parking lot.

Zip ties, duct tape, and rope. Maybe he’ll invite AnaBella to his pad to check out his severed toe collection later.

We find out that AnaBella thinks her subconscious resides just below her medulla oblongata (brain stem just doesn’t sound sexy enough, I guess), and then a friend returns from Stanford and gives Bella a nice hug, then puts his “possessive” arm around her shoulder. This is not a friendly arm or a comforting arm. It is possessive. AnaBella can tell these things because she's psychic.

I have this in my notes: christian grey is watching them like a hawk. good thing she knows he's not watching her like a handsaw. (no, I will never let this go. Couldn't it have been "The difference between a bansaw and a handsaw? Or a hawk and an eagle?)
AnaBella continues to be convinced that Chrisward is talking in double entendres, but has no concept that she’s a box of Hefty heavy duty trash bags away from selling him a serial killer kit, so I at this point am sure that she has a dirty, juvenile mind prone to flights of fancy, yet she is unable to live in the real world.

Thankfully, Chrisward walks “with renewed purpose” out the door before AnaBella can embarrass herself any further, and I just have to stop and remind everyone of the many projections AnaBella puts onto Chrisward. Along with double entendres, being arrogant, and smiling at his own secrets, he now walks with renewed purpose? I get the impression that this means he leaves with a quick step. Does she not think that he’s trying to get away from her? Is he just so excited about his Jeffrey Dahmer special that he’s purposing to get to stalking and killing someone for fun tonight?

Stay tuned for more idiocy.

Edit from the future: Okay, I just finished all three books, and this whole part is put in at the end through Christian's perspective. I loved it because you get to see Christian being a complete and utter asshole without Bella...er...Ana...attempting to convince you that he's just OMGSohandsomeOMG.
So...handsome?
It was also awesome because Ana's jacket is totes from Walmart! Ha! I can't believe I got that right! I totally punched the sky when I got to that part. The roof was too low and I had to raise it.

I also loved how overbearing and controlling he already wanted to be, when he noticed it was raining and he wanted to "forbid" her to drive in the rain. Hey, asshole! Thousands, perhaps millions, of people drive when it rains. The precipitation in the Pacific Northwest is such that one must expect rain almost all the time. If you want someplace dryer? Try moving to Southern California. Ask anyone; it never rains here. The bottom line is that if you expect to "forbid" Ana to drive in the rain, then you are basically asking her to never drive. Grow up. Get a life.

Ladies, if you think this guy is in any way attractive or what you'd want in a man, please see a counsellor and find out why you'd enjoy an abusive relationship.

Baby, we are so good. Laters.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"God loves you, and that's the only thing you need to know."

Those words were spoken to a friend of mine at a church when she asked a lady her name. Now, there is a bit of background to this that I don't want to share because that's her story, but let's just say that people were praying for other people, and my friend wanted to know "Who are you, oh woman who is praying for me?" and the lady was like, "God loves you, and that's the only thing you need to know."

I'm a Christian, which is something I don't always advertise because some people out there also claim to be Christian, but behave like they actually think they are The Trinity rolled into one person, and are able to dictate everyone's lives and beliefs to them whether those people appreciate it or not. But as a Christian, I am told time and again that my only relationship that needs work is the one I have with God. This rankles me, because I have not seen much evidence of this in the Bible. In fact, what I find in the Bible is a bunch of people, up to and including Jesus, exhorting me to love my fellow man.

When I was little, we would sing the "I John 4:7-8 Song" which said, "Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and he that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. But he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." When I was little, John 3:16 was also the most quoted scripture. Nowadays, it's "Judge not lest ye be judged." (Mat 7:1). I can't help but think that if we were busier loving our bretheren and getting to know them, then we wouldn't have to worry about judging them because we'd be too busy loving them to judge them harshly. It's funny, but the more you love someone, the more you excuse their shortcomings and overlook it in favor of the whole person in front of you. Yes, there are times when it gets to the point that you don't want to be their friend any more, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you're sitting in judgement on them, and saying that everything they do is wrong. You can not like someone and yet not judge them.

So, my friend was at this church, and it was a terrible church. I don't know why she persisted in going there; I think she was going through a masochistic phase or something, and this lady said that to her, and she lost it. She wanted to know why Christians are always trying to make it seem like all you need is God when they themselves have a huge support network. I don't get it either, especially when I feel that the Bible is so explicit about this. So many of us want to pawn off our duty to our fellow man to God when He isn't available for hugs and afterwork drinks, He isn't going to take them shopping for new shoes or drag them to a massage parlor for some "me" time when they need it. He isn't going to roll up His sleeves and help someone change their oil, or accompany them to an auto dealership to make sure they don't get taken advantage of. Even if God had a corporeal form, it would still be up to us to do these things because that's how we demonstrate love, and in demonstrating love, we demonstrate God.

Well, a few weeks ago, I was at my weekly "home group", which is basically a group that you meet with outside of church, and you pray and read from scripture, and basically try and form a support network of other people. The lady who leads the group said that we need to have a closer relationship with God, and that when people are "struggling" (life is sucking for them), that we need to remind them to hold onto God.

When we broke up into smaller groups to pray, I told my group that it was a cop-out, and that I feel we need to be there for each other to demonstrate the love of God to people and to prop them up. I didn't put the lady down or anything, I just said that for me, I wasn't going to turn away from someone and just tell them to "seek first the kingdom of Heaven!" when they can't pay the rent because they had to choose between the rent and feeding and housing their grand kids, I'm going to help them out. Guess what? That's what the Bible says to do. The Bible says that if we see someone in need of clothing or food, then we are to feed and clothe them (by Jesus Himself). In the story of the good Samaritan, he didn't say, "Maybe you need to work on your relationship with God." No, he picked the guy up and put him in a house and got him a doctor.

Now, I want to make it clear that I don't think you should just walk up to homeless people and start bringing them home. But you can go to Costco and buy a huge box of granola bars for about ten bucks and hand those out when you see someone who looks hungry. Some of those people are going to get mad at you because it's not money. I even had a guy tell me he had a gluten allergy the other day, so I took the bar back. And then he realized that his allergy wasn't that bad, and decided he wanted it after all. And then he told me I was an uppity white girl (he was also white), but that's not going to stop me from giving people food.

The thing that bothers me is that folks from other religions and non-religious folks all get this. They understand that our fellow man is what's important. Nowadays, a church will hardly move towards any sort of charity unless they can advertise upfront that it's X Church, and THIS is what we believe, and you have to listen to a long speech by a pastor before we'll give you your new shoes and sandwiches. I do know many churches that have quiet charities and have often surprised patrons when those people found out that it was a Christian organization, because there weren't crucifixes all over the place, and no one gave a huge sermon.

Anyway, I want to do my duty as a fellow human. I want to help people, not just preach at people. I want to be proud of my religion again. I want people to stop being selfish.

That's all.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not keeping up with kartrash

I was sick this week. I got hit with a really nasty sinus infection, which you know it's a horrible thing, but all of my--ahem--snot was stuck up in my head, which made me dizzy every time I stood up, and my eyes got all swollen and weird. I've been waking up feeling like someone punched me in the face all night, too. Thankfully, I got medicine (oh, these modern times we live in!) and it's helping to...um...drain...(sorry!)...everything out. (What's grosser than gross? Post-nasal drip and that all-day nausea it can cause!)

Why do I say this?

Well, it used to be, back in the day when I had cable TV, I'd keep up with the Kartrashians when I got sick. Since I would get sick like that about every 4-6 months, there were always new episodes to watch and silently mock/judge.

(BTW, my mom always calls them the Cardassians, which as a Trekker, I find hilarious.)

This deviant artist made a more lifelike humanoid than any Kardashian ever will.

So, now all of my Kardinformation comes from EOnline, which I also point and mock at, so here's what I know:

Khloe, the only "normal" one (and by "normal", I mean, "less likely to make you want to rip your face off") is shutting off her show for a while to focus on her husband and his career, which appears to be in the toilet right now, and I can say that from this information, Khloe continues to be the only sane person on reality TV (relatively speaking).

Seriously, it's gotta be hard to drop a sure-thing paycheck in favor of concentrating on helping your husband through his tough times. Khloe is showing herself to be better than Kate Gosselin and Donald Trump in one fell swoop, and that's something. Good job, Khloe. Keep it up. Really.

Kim, the Meal Ticket in this family, is now dating KANYE WEST, YO because that's what you do after a 70+-day marriage to make people think that you have actual boundaries and standards.

Yo, Kim, I'm happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but Amber Rose was the best beard Kanye ever had of all time! Of all time!

I am happy that Kim apparently endorsed Obama for his gay marriage stance. Any woman who so totally managed to make a mockery out of heterosexual marriage has no business putting down gay marriage, so the fact that she came out in support, while irrelevant, was at lease something positive.

Kourtney, or The Other One as I like to think of her: having a baby girl. All I could think about this news was that it must have really hurt poor Khloe, who has been very open about her TTC failures. Kourtney still seems to be with the idiot hipster douchebag Scott Dick, so go her. Nice to see someone in the family can make a relationship work. Or whatever.

Last night, Kim tweeted a picture of herself and her sisters in lingerie, whoring out the seventh season of K-Trash.

Lingerie.

Yeah.

Keep it Klassy, ladies!

Edit: Last night, I had to go to CVS, and while there, one of the ragmags had a headline about how Kim Kardashian is being blackballed by people like Beyoncee (of the folding baby bump that totally wasn't for publicity), who showed up to the Met Ball wearing a see-through gown (classy!), and Gwynneth Paltrow, little miss Better Than Thou Art because they think Kim is a fame whore.

So...Kim is a fame whore. But tell me, when Gwynneth posts on Goop about her outdoor wood burning stove, her cleanses, and her clean way of life, putting herself out there for everyone to read about, what is she doing? And don't tell me that Beyoncee's freakin see-through dress (so classy!) was anything other than a bid for All Of The Attention.

Yes, they are famous for not being famous while I have enjoyed some Gwynneth movies (Um...Emma? I don't think any others...), and I do like Beyoncee's music, but don't get down on someone for doing what you do. Sure, the Kardashians don't have any discernable talent and are richer than God, but life isn't fair, and that's why they are. Really.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Helper 12 by Jack Blaine

"Blaine? That's not a name! It's a disease!"

Sorry, I have to say that every time I see the name Blaine. It's a reflex.

Anyway, this book was very good. It's a dystopian novel, which isn't unusual for me.

The thing is, I'm sort of getting tired of dystopians. I know that many authors in the past started the dystopian novel, most notably being Aldous Huxley, Orson Scott Card and George Orwell, and the books are revolutionary. I think ever since Thomas Moore wrote Utopia, authors have thought about how horrible it would be to live in perfect harmony with everything around them, and how limiting it would be, so the idea of dystopia was just a natural step in that direction.

Dystopias always look exactly the same, though, and it doesn't take a sociologist to tell you that the societal structure of a dystopia is a lot like communist governments.

I am going to be very honest and say that I get why communism can be popular amongst certain people. After all, there's this ideal behind the equitable sharing of all resources so that all people are equal in all things. That is communism.

Unfortunately, in  practise, communism always ends up like a dystopian society where only an elite percentage of the population is able to live in relative comfort while the rest have to drudge about , eking out a bare living and sometimes not surviving. What dystopian novels do is make the elite few very, very, very elite while making the drudges slaves to the government, often sterilizing them, isolating them, and keeping close watch on them.

In the early 20th century, with the fall of the Russian Tsardom and the rise of powerful players such as Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, and of course, Rasputin, the idea of Big Brother watching held the imaginations of the free world, so it was no surprise that 1984 and Brave New World, Farenheit 451 and Slaughterhouse 5 caught on so hard and fast. This was real! This could happen!

It's easy to see how they caught on, especially in this sort of carnation. But the world is changing. Shouldn't dystopian fiction change as well? I mean, the end for a dystopia is always going to be losing one's identity to a machine, but I can't help but wonder if there is a new and different face we can give this. However, according to my history teacher (oh he of the Harrison Ford face and three-piece suits), communism is still the biggest threat out there, so what do I know?

So, that being neither here nor there, Helper 12 is yet another dystopian fantasy with the communist set-up that 1984 and Brave New World first introduced us to, complete with view screens and the threat of big brother watching at all times. Blaine also includes a bit of Card's Unaccompanied Sonata into the mix by having the government begin testing of babies at birth to see where they'll be "placed" in society, even having an "artistic" track that allows these drudges to create, and "thinker" tracks for thinkers. (Stop being surprised that I know so much about the origins of Sci-Fi. I know my stuff. Tcha.) The elite are the only ones allowed to have "family units" and procreate at their own will. For the drudges of society, birth is controlled and only those marked as "breeders" are allowed to carry babies.

Helper 12 is a baby helper for newborn-through-six month babies, and everything she knows is tied up in her job. There are words she can't read because they don't pertain to her industry, and things she can't know or do because her job is to be a baby helper, nothing more, nothing less.

What's interesting is that everyone has a name and number, a ward, and etcetera. But what no one says is that the baby helpers give all of the numbers a name, a real name, that eventually gets told to that child when they're old enough to start understanding what individuality is. So Helper 12 has a real name, and she gives her charges real names, and she tells that name to whomever takes the child next, and so on.

On the night we meet Helper 12, she is taking care of a baby she particularly loves, whom she has named Jobee, and some people come in and decide to buy both the baby and the Helper, and just like that, it's done. It's highly illegal, but in all societies, communist and free alike, money talks.

The book is very fast-paced, and well written, but it has quite a few flaws. The people who buy the baby buy him just before going on a three-week vacation, which makes no sense. Why not buy him after they get back? And instead of having a plan in place, they buy Helper 12 on the fly, which again makes no sense because one does not simply walk into a dystopian hospital and buy a baby illegally without some sort of forethought, do they? It's pretty stupid if that's all it takes. I get that the government in this society is more lax towards the elite, but one of the plot points is that the labor-class birthrate is down, so it should go without saying that the government would have a high stake in keeping all babies in Labor/Helper as possible, no matter what the whims of the Society are.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book, I just wish the author had taken more time and really thought about the logic of his decisions. One of the big plot points was that homosexuals, or "kinks" are persecuted against, which again doesn't make sense in a future where other people are giving birth to the working class, and then it's not even as a parent but as a breeder. Homosexuality is a threat during low birth-rates, or in religious groups, but I don't see where the persecution would come from in this sort of dystopian society. If the author had helped to make us understand why homosexuality is still a no-no in the future, it would have helped.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good Books Are Good

I love Jen Lancaster. She's a great author, and she makes me laugh. She is very active on her facebook, blog and Twitter, and as a reader and fan, I totally get behind that.

She usually writes memoires, her first being "Bitter Is The New Black" which follows her from being a rather large, wealthy fish in a rather small pond to being out of work, in incredible debt, and trying to make her way after the huge market crash following 9-11. It's a great story, especially since she is so self-deprecating. You see the build-up in the way she is, the way she spends, and you know what's coming. And when it does, it's somewhat gratifying that a spoiled ex-sorority girl trying to claw her way back up, but you also feel badly for her because it must have been hard. My favorite memoire of hers is "Such a Pretty Fat" which follows her through trying to lose weight. Again, you get a huge beginning of abject indulgence followed by a huge fall from grace when she starts realizing how her weight is affecting her health. Her honesty is what you're there for, and her descriptions of her friends, dogs, husband, cats, and her various apartment-related-issues of living in the big city (Chicago) and being surrounded by all kinds of crime and Redneckishness, wanna-be gang members (and real gang members) and homeless crack heads. Jen (can I call her Jen?) might not always have the perfect witty comeback at the tip of her tongue, but her reflections are always golden.

I kind of want to be like her when I grow up.

Anyway, I'm reading her new novel, "If You Were Here" which actually came out quite a while ago (I've been busy!) to the point that she actually had another book come out in the last few weeks (Jenneration X) and is currently doing a tour for it, so I am admittedly behind on things here.

But the book. Oh, the book. The book does not disappoint.

It follows Mia and Mac (who are suspiciously exactly like Jen and her husband Fletch) as they embark on their first foray into homeownership. Mia is a writer who writes YA novels about teenaged Amish zombies.

No, no, I'm serious. Teenaged Amish zombies.

They're teenagers, and they're Amish, and there are zombies. Sometimes they're in love with the zombies.

Someone needs to get into this genre quick.

I'm actually not very far into the book yet (only about 28%), so I can't speak for the whole thing, but so far it's great. However, just like most of her books, there are huge foreshadowing clues that sort of hit you in the head about what will go wrong.

For one, they are buying a house based on the fact that it was Jake Ryan's house in Sixteen Candles (Mia's reason) and because it has a panic room (Mac's reason). There is no way this can go wrong. (Also: Jaaaaaaake!)

For two, Mia spends so much time talking about how cute and adorable her inspector was, but very little time actually talking about what he inspected. This house has stood vacant for over twenty years, there is no way that it's going to get a glowing report. I'm surprised there wasn't grass growing through the foundation.

For three, Mia and Mac's former landlady is called Vienna Hyatt, and...well, I'm sorry Jen (I can call you Jen, right?) but that's a little...um...not smart and witty. It's the opposite of smart and witty. And you're smart and witty, and you're too good for that. Vienna Hyatt makes me think of Chekhov's Gun (not a reference to my cat or the Star Trek character, but to the actual writer and if you don't know what TV Tropes is, I can't help you here), and I'm sure she's going to make a reappearance at some point because you just don't invest that much into someone unless you're planning on resurrecting their character at some point.

For four, apparently the people of the neighborhood were going to tear down the house and turn it into some sort of community property, so they hate Mia and Mac already. And that never bodes well.

So far, the book is making me laugh, and I'm already driving my mom crazy by reading out blocks of text to her while she's trying to do her own thing, but she loves Jen (I'm just going to call her that) like I do, and she laughs with me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Meat Market

So, summer's here and I'm thinking of dusting off my online dating profile and updating my pictures, etc. Except I'm not happy with how I'm looking right now since I gained weight lately (like, a lot--maybe 15lbs.). Still, this happens. Especially when stress is introduced into your life.

Still, online dating is really...well, it's just such a horrible thing. It's great, but it's horrible.

I asked a friend one day why there are no self-help books for men on dating sites and she was like, "Would men read one?"

I don't know, but a lot of them need it.

Like, I'm all for specificity. I like men who can make me laugh, and a guy without a sense of humor is not what I'm looking for. I really like sarcastic, ironic, satiric humor and I very rarely run into anyone who can do this, so I'm not surprised when I find few online, and even less surprised when even fewer are interested in me. I mean, I have to be realistic here. In life, not everyone is attracted to you. But then you look at men's profiles, and...it just seems like they think they're owed the world. One profile said "I like petite, athletic women with long, blonde hair and long manicured nails." I mean, great. That's great. It's nice to know, as a taller-and-larger-than-average-woman that this guy wouldn't be interested in me. However, a) he wasn't much of a looker and he was overweight himself, which seemed really hypocritical, and b) ew. Gross. Creepy. Even if I had fit the bill, I would have turned and ran as quickly as possible. Is it really that hard to weed through your responses and open communication with women who are physically your "type" without putting THAT on your profile?

Then there are the car pictures. I have rarely seen a profile of a guy where he's not standing in front of his car/motorcycle/truck. It doesn't matter if it's a Porsche or a Yugo, they will pose in front of it like it's a Nobel Peace Prize or something. I appreciate a guy who takes pride in ownership and keeps his car clean for our dates or whatever, but aside from that, it's really not something to get that tripped up about. It's a car.

Then there are the guys who email you one-to-two-word emails.

Them: Hey.

You: ...hi?...

Which can either result in another one-word answer (usually: sup?), or a misspelled tirade about how you obviously feel you're better than him, he was just trying to say hi and you just had to act like such a bitch. Jeez. What's wrong with you?

And then you report them and have them blocked and it's a hassle because then they just create a profile under another name and try the same thing later.

I'm sure that men have other horror stories. I mean, some girls out there think that men are their own personal ATM's and chauffeurs and bringers of gifts. I'm sure we have pictures that make men think, "Why are they always posed X way?" or something. But I don't look at their profiles. I only see the men's profiles. And one guy said that he liked women who mentally challenged him, but he wasn't expecting a "genious." It took me a while to figure out that it wasn't an ironic spelling.

People talk about the bar scene like it's disingenuous or shallow, but then you go online and you get the exact same stupid frat boys who think they're god's gift intermixed with nerdy-and-not-that-bad-looking-but-not-that-great-either-average-is-okay-but-I'm-totally-looking-for-a-supermodel-and-will-complain-for-hours-that-women-only-want-bad-boys-and-not-nice-guys-like-me and very rarely a guy who just wants to date someone and maybe try and settle down. But you still have to weed through them all, just like you'd have to at a bar or a booze cruise or any of those other places that are looked down upon. "Oh, you met on a cruise around Balboa Island? Hmm...pick-up artist, anyone?"

So...I need to hunker down on the working out and really push myself (I'm trying to make it to a ten-minute mile) and try to handle my stress better, and then maybe I'll feel like taking pictures soon. Hopefully before June.

Fifty Shades of Puke

I keep circling this book.

On the one hand, I know it's going to be horrible.

1. The chances that a fanfiction writer has actually researched the complexity of the D/s relationship is highly doubtful.

2. The chances that a Twilight fan would know any position other than Missionary is highly doubtful.

3. The chances that a Twilight fanfiction writer can write good BDSM in a coherent way is highly doubtful.

4. The chances that a Twilight fanfiction writer can fill in the rest of the book with a coherent plot is highly doubtful.

However

5. The chances that I would enioy this book in any way is highly doubtful, and my friend Cassandra always says I write better reviews when I hate the book so

6. I might just do it.


Edit: I just found this quote at Reasoning with Vampires:

Related Quote: “Twilight at least has the benefit of being fascinating in its awfulness, like a car wreck where you can’t tell if the primary cause was one driver’s cataracts, another driver’s onset of peanut allergy, the rockslide, the sudden appearance off a horde of rabid badgers, or the mysterious solar eclipse. Fifty Shades of Grey is just a drunk driver. Both are hailed as automotive revolutions.” — Audreyii


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And now it's summer

I took my final on Monday, and my lab final the week before. I don't have school tonight or for the rest of the summer. I'm taking an online course for American History, which I'm pretty burned that I have to take.

Well, it's my fault. I had filled out this form of all the classes I needed to take for the university, and I also had to fill in any prerequisites or classes that needed to be taken to graduate Community College. World History fulfilled my "arts and humanities" requirement, and there were two classes. History of the World Part I, and History of the World Part II: Hitler on Ice. (My teacher actually said that at one point, and I was so tempted to say, "We're at now now. Everything that is happening now is happening now." "But what about then?" "We passed then." "When?" "Just now." "When can we go back to then?" "Soon." but it never happened.) (Did I ever mention that he looked like Harrison Ford and always wore a three-piece suit and a fedora? I miss that class.) (Where was I?) (Oh, right, I took both classes.) Only I didn't have to take both classes. I needed to take American History (X) instead of History of the World Part II: Hitler on Ice.

It's not that I don't care about the history of America. I do. I've learned about it all my life. Besides, World History included America, so why couldn't I just go with that?

Oh, no dice, said my counselor. It's a requirement.

And so, I am taking American History now in the summer semester just to get rid of it. Plus, it'll give me something to do so I don't get all caught up in my usual summer depression. And I still have my kick-punch class to look forward to.

Oh, and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore has been sent to my Kindle! It's been on there since April 30th, but I've been busy getting through the fourth Green Rider book, so I haven't noticed until just now. I'm almost done, and it's not disappointing me so far.

Naturally, I still have the Cat Stevens song stuck in my head. But that's okay.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book V Movie: The Devil Wears Prada

I read the book several years ago when everyone was talking about it, and then I just recently saw the movie, which I had been avoiding like the plague, and I can't tell you how disappointed I was.

I mean, I'm used to the book being better (unless it's by Frances Hodgson Burnett, JRR Tolkein, or Jane Austen), and I'm even used to characters being compressed into one, or Harry Potter suddenly having blue eyes instead of green. What I wasn't prepared for was for a role that clearly had Kate Hudson's name on it to go to someone as vanilla as Anne Hathaway.

I'm sorry, Anne is very pretty, and she seems nice and I love the fact that her love life is a quiet mess and that she just stays to herself. I like that she's not a size zero and has dark hair and eyes and a set of knockers made for porn, but uses them for "art." She is not, however, a Jewish upstate New Yorker. That's why the film writers had to make her from the Midwest. No one would have believed it otherwise. Anne makes a great princess, and even a pretty good rodeo queen, but she was not a convincing Andrea Sachs. And it was so sad to me, because Kate Hudson would have done a great job. I mean, she was born for this role.

Andrea Sachs is a very unsympathetic character in the book. She's not a horrible person or anything, she's just not incredibly likable. She's one of those people who hates her job, and makes everyone else miserable because of it. For instance: she takes cabs instead of ordering a car service so that she can charge the magazine for the cab. If she had just taken the car service, it would have been billed directly to the company to be paid at the end of the month. Since she took the cab, though, she has to go to Petty Cash to be reimbursed, which takes the time of the person in charge of Petty Cash, takes her time, and takes everyone else's time, too, which she feels vindictively good about, despite the fact that she is inconveniencing everyone except the boss that she hates, which renders the whole thing pointless.

Andrea is also in charge of getting the coffee in the morning, which she takes her sweet precious time doing, leaving all of the office work to Miranda's secretary and all the other players in the novel who are pretty decent people, and who don't deserve the pressure Andrea puts them under by disappearing for so long.

Andrea's last holdout at the magazine is her wardrobe. She works in fashion, but doesn't care about it, so she feels no shame at showing up in Ann Taylor shoes or Levi's Jeans instead of Louboutin's and Se7en's. When Jeffy, the guy who is in charge of the closet at the magazine, finally notices that Andrea is doing her best to stand out, he pulls her aside and says, "Do you really want to lose your job, idiot?" (I paraphrase.)

I knew that this scene in the movie was going to warrant a makeover montage, and I was not (well, I was) disappointed, Anne Hathaway got her makeover, but Andrea just sort of quietly began adding to her wardrobe and making herself available to designers when they wanted to give her stuff instead of blowing it all off like it's just stupid. Andrea also takes really great pieces that don't fit her (she's in the 4-6 range instead of a zero, the fattie) and sells them to a second hand shop in Manhattan to augment her income, which as an intern, isn't much. I didn't notice Anne Hathaway doing this, because that may have made her unlikable (questionable stealing), but it was one of the few smart things that I think Andrea did.

BTW, she's called Andrea through most of the book. She's Andy in the movie. Because, you know, likability.

Andrea's best friend Lily (who is black in the movie, which is great, but why could they make the best friend black, but not make Andrea Jewish?) is a Russian Literature student, I think working on her doctorate? anyway, she's becoming an alcoholic, which is something Andrea really doesn't have time for because she's at the 24-7 beck and call of a crazy woman, so for a good part of the book, you're upset with her that she's putting her own interests ahead of her friend's illness, but isn't that what people do? I love my friends, but if they're addicted to something, I can't help them until the want help. Lily is a huge bone of contention between herself and her boyfriend, because he thinks she should be there for Lily, and he's right, but in what capacity? I wish the author hadn't made Andrea sort of shallow in this area, and I really even more wish the movie hadn't glossed over this plot point. In the book, it's one of the huge reasons why Andrea breaks up with her stupid boyfriend (didn't like him much, either), but in the movie, it looks like he just is too selfish to deal with Andrea's budding career. In the book, you marvel at how he hung around for so long.

Emily is Miranda's secretary, and she is very much into the fashion scene. She loves her job, and even though Miranda bothers her at times, she does what she can to shake it off because she has a passion for this stuff. She has dreams, but Andrea considers them to be shallow since they revolve around fashion. In the movie, Emily is played by a red-headed Emily Blunt, and she's just some anorexic sjlubh that Andrea has to put up with in order to do her job. In the book, Emily wants Andrea's year to be up so that Andrea can get a job she'll actually like, leaving the assistant spot open for someone who actually wants to work at a fashion magazine and doesn't think she's just too good for all this crap. In the book, Andrea had been running ragged to get something done for Miranda, I can't remember what. I think it was getting her lunch just right or something, only to have Miranda be like, "What is your problem? This isn't what I asked for" (which is usually Miranda's response once Andrea turns the world over to deliver something to her) and Emily loses it and calls Miranda a bitch, but then redacts and turns on the Stockholm Syndrome to Andrea, which is a great scene in the book because it shows how cleverly Miranda dangles the carrot over her underlings to string them along.

Miranda herself was portrayed excellently by Meryl Streep, but that's like saying a Van Gogh painting is a piece of art. Streep will always play her part well, except for that Mama Mia thing we won't talk about (ever). Miranda is a mean, vindictive, horrible human being who enjoys sending people on extreme errands, interrupting Andrea during her gynecology appointment, requesting books that aren't in print yet, running her assistants ragged planning some great event and then taking all of the credit, and blaming everyone for every mistake whether it was their fault or not. In the movie, Anne Hathaway decides to leave Meryl Streep after a little heart-to-heart reveals that Miranda expects Andrea can one day surpass herself, and that she reminds her of herself a lot. In the book, Miranda berates Andrea for not checking to make sure her twins have passports when the twins have a mother, father, and nanny to look after all that crap. I don't know why that was the last straw, but it was. And then Andrea tells Miranda just what she thinks about her in front of a huge crowd, and heads back to the USA, waiting for Miranda to send the police after her or something.

In the end, Andrea decides that she has a pretty good story on her hands, and she finds herself back at her old building going for an interview for a position at another magazine, and she feels a sense of nostalgia.

The book is pretty good, but I can see why no one really liked the movie too much. There was just so much that wasn't explained, which is usual in adaptations, but it felt even more absent here. Anne Hathaway just didn't have the right sarcasm to play Andrea, and Kate Hudson just could have knocked it out of the park. When Anne rolls her eyes, she looks petulant and childish. Kate could have conveyed so much with that look.

Oh well. Maybe someone else will remake it some other time with a better-suited actress.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What you define as attractive

I'm just going to come out and say that I love a guy in drag.

I don't know if it started with Tim Curry, or if there was some other beginning to my fascination with transvestites, but I do know that when I see Eddie Izzard strutting his stuff, I love it. Those sky-high heels, the skirts and leggings. So sexy.


I also appreciate the androgyny of people like David Bowie and Annie Lennox, though I don't quite find it as appealing as Bowie in full on Jareth clothes.

Bowie has never really shied away from the use of makeup, though, and I think that's one of his appeals. He's also pretty gorgeous. So is Eddie.

I was sad when Eddie started wearing menswear more often. I mean, I'm glad for him that he continues to wear what he likes when he likes it, and he doesn't care what anyone says, but his blue eyes just cry out for liner and mascara, and why shouldn't he obey that call?

I'm not really into the whole RuPaul Drag Race, though. I think that what those people do is incredible, and that having men live out loud in their preferred choice of clothing is helping other men turn to their own predilections, and that's a wonderful thing.


I am, however, a straight woman, and when it comes to romantic entanglements, I like straight men. Straight men who aren't afraid to wear women's underwear under their trousers. I envision a relationship where my guy and I go lingerie shopping together, for each other.

I don't know why I am this way. I mean, assuming that this way isn't normal, although it must be...I don't see how it's not normal. Clothes are clothes, and for some reason, most clothes have gender associated with them. Women wear frills and soft lines. Men wear military cuts. It's the way of the world.

Yeah, whatever. I know what I like. I like the military cuts. I just like silk and frills underneath it.