Thursday, December 27, 2012

50 Shades Darker Chapter 3

So I am with my family as I write this chapter. Which means I am reading 50 Shades Darker with my parents and siblings in the same room while they watch TV. On the up side it means that there is already a drink in hand! LET THE AWKWARD GIGGLING AND GROANING COMMENCE!

Last chapter Ana and Grey agreed to get back together and reset the rules with a grandiose gesture of him forcing the gifts she had given back onto her again, along with an iPad loaded with a mixed tape and a shit ton of books. Now they're dating like normal people who happen to have kinky sex, no rules, no punishment, and Ana still isn't allowed to touch him. He also revealed his Dark Tragic Past TM in more detail in that his Mother was a crack whore who didn't protect him from her pimp and killed herself in front of him leaving him alone with her corpse for four days.

This chapter opens with Ana levitating from the force of her sheer glee, glad she no longer owns a car because it means that she can listen to the iPad on the bus on the way to work! As she happily levitates into the office, her boss naturally notices she seems... different.

“Good morning, Ana. You look . . . radiant.” His remark flusters me. How inappropriate!

He then politely asks her to do some work. I've got mixed feelings on this one. I don't think telling an employee that they look nice is inappropriate, per say, but I also think she is well within reason for being uncomfortable with him saying such. It isn't like he's leering and saying "nice shirt" or anything, but telling her that when she looks happy for a change she looks radiant. I kind of wish Ana would say something to him at this point. This would be a safe point to speak up, I think? Nothing has had time to become established, so it will just seem like "nipping this in the bud" and not be a big dramatic thing. "I know you're being nice/mean well/etc but it makes me uncomfortable when a boss offers compliments on my appearance. I know you mean well but could you please try and tone it down?" Maybe I'm just too broken by kitchens when smacking someone in the ass with a spatula is totally fair game, so what do you guys make of Jack Hyde? I anticipate he will become a caricature of the sexually abusive boss, offering Ana raises in exchange for blow-jays, but who knows. I got a pretty big shock last chapter when Grey offered to reboot the whole relationship, I'm not confident in myself anymore on making these calls.

So Ana is at work, and like anyone who just got a break in the publishing world, which isn't known at all for being competitive or something like that, is spending a fair bit of her day e-mailing her boyfriend, from her work account. The usual banter/nagging ensues, down to talking about making each other beg about sexeh timez later. I work in a kitchen. The fact that I have a work e-mail is bizarre, and there is a tag in my work email, a little message that warns me that my emails are monitored. When I get emails from The Boy from his work account, there is an automated signature that says it is a monitored email address and everything I get from it is confidential. The same thing with his old email from his old job. I get that Ana doesn't computer, but I don't remember ever not knowing that work emails are monitored. Which is why I am so miffed at Ana for using it to send cute/sexy emails about being bored and wanting to jump his magical unicorn boner over her work address when she has a blackberry that can send emails.

I get that writing characters a very different age than you can be hard, but has she not met a 21 year old at all ever? Or have no cultural awareness? Or... done even a little bit of research on it? Like, read Cosmo or something? Made any effort at all?

Naturally Grey needs to point out to Ana that her emails are probably monitored, because there wouldn't be things like tags and signatures or a legal mandate that she be alerted of such things. Grey needs to explain to the little wimmin how email works! Ana's response was to go and delete all the inappropriate emails, because that will make them all magically go away! I half expect Jack to come and harass her about it because there was some sexual over tones to the emails and it would be an easy lead.

So Jack tells Ana that the ominous drinks he invited her out for is a weekly group thing, and Ana goes outside to have a random disheveled woman in a designer trench coat with slit wrists starts to talk to her.

I turn expectantly, and an ashen young woman approaches me cautiously. She looks like a ghost—so pale and strangely blank.
“Miss Anastasia Steele?” she repeats, and her features stay static even though she’s speaking.
She stops, staring at me from about three feet away on the sidewalk, and I stare back, immobilized. Who is she? What does she want?
“Can I help you?” I ask. How does she know my name?
“No . . . I just wanted to look at you.” Her voice is eerily soft. Like me, she has dark hair that starkly contrasts with her fair skin. Her eyes are brown, like bourbon, but flat. There’s no life in them at all. Her beautiful face is pale, and etched with sorrow.
She laughs, a strange, discordant sound that only feeds my anxiety.
“What do you have that I don’t?” she asks sadly.

And the woman wanders off with leaving Ana with an ominous feeling that she has something to do with Grey! I'm wondering if this is his ex Dom Elena or an ex sub who he left ruined. Considering this woman (who we are given no gauge of how old she is. Young woman to me is anything under 35, and we're never given a real gauge of how old Elena was supposed to be) knew Ana's name, and where to find her I'm going to guess Grey's ex/friend who he still talks to/woman who molested him as a child/business partner. I don't think he still talks to any of his old Subs, and if he does I don't think he'd have told them about Ana/where she works.

Ana wanders into the bar, forgetting the whole thing, and starts chatting with her co-workers and Claire starts to ask casual chatty questions. This is Ana's response:

My patented distraction technique works and I’m saved.

She's saved from having to talk about herself at all. We get some details about Claire, has siblings and isn't from around there. What I find interesting about this is that Ana is constantly seeing people trying to get to know her or asking how she's doing as super invasive. The most innocent questions are seen as an inquisition. She's actually a very private person, to the point of being guarded and closed off. I don't think we're supposed to take that away from the character, because we don't see her doing that with Grey, but she does it with literally every person she encounters. Her Mother, her best girlfriend, her Dad, her best dude friend, people at work she thinks she can be friends with, she keeps her cards close. I suppose this plays more into Bella Swan, the character she's based off of, also being a rather private person, but I don't think we're supposed to get that from Ana. People say how she's smart and generally wonderful but she actively avoids talking in conversation. She has a patented method to turn the conversation onto the other person for just that reason! So I'm surprised that Ana's actions all scream "I AM A PRIVATE AND QUIET PERSON" but no one ever interacts with her in this way.

So Ana keeps chatting with her new coworkers and drinking and I am once again frustrated that we don't get to see any of these conversations. We're just told that Ana talks to her coworkers. Some are named, some aren't. And on it goes. Until she interacts with someone who has romantic interest in her, or who will talk to her about Grey.

Jack then corners Ana at the bar and proves my point because we see this conversation.

“Ana, think you made the right decision coming here?” Jack’s voice is soft, and he’s standing a bit too close. But I’ve noticed that he has a tendency to do this with everyone, even at the office. My subconscious narrows her eyes. You’re reading too much into this, she admonishes me.

Alright, so, trigger warning time: Sexual assault, normalization, lack of agency!

I was ranting that James wouldn't handle the topic well, but this actually rings very true. You do try to normalize things, "He does this with everyone" "I'm the one who's making a big deal out of it." and the reason you try to normalize it is because it's dangerous and risky to speak up. You don't want to be a shit disturber. You don't want to cause trouble or drama. The fact that many women have stories of trying to speak up against sexual harassment in the work place and end up getting fired for it means the fear isn't unfounded. In the face of sexual harassment you're going to try and normalize it, because you don't want to be a victim. If it isn't sexual harassment then you're not a victim and nothing is wrong! You don't NEED to speak up!

“Do you live far?”
“The Pike Market district.”
“Not far from me.” Smiling, he moves even closer and leans against the bar, effectively trapping me. “Do you have any plans this weekend?”


Who hasn't seen this dude at the bar? This is the point where Ana should say "Antiquing with my boyfriend" instead she, shockingly, feels trapped and scared! It has taken me years to train myself to actually say shit like that when guys start to edge in on me, because it is terrifying when they do. What if they don't react so well? Maybe I should just seem scared and polite and hope that they get the hint and think I'm boring and move on? Maybe if I mention my boyfriend/fiance he'll move on? So Ana's terror here is... about right. The fact that this is her boss trapping her in a corner, commenting that she lives really close and hey by the way what are you up to this weekend? SUPER CREEPY AND INAPPROPRIATE! If he really is like this with everyone, why has no one else commented on this, or warned her, or or- aerfkhe.





Ana, and the reader, are saved from Jack by Grey turning up. Ana can sense Grey enter the bar (no really) before she sees him. She knows he has entered because she gets a spontaneous lady-boner. "Hmm, I have started to gush like a fire hose. Must mean Grey's in the room" see? Further proof that he is in fact a warlock using black magic glamor.

Christian drapes his arm around my shoulder in a seemingly casual display of affection—but I know differently. He is staking a claim, and on this occasion, it’s very welcome.

I want to snark this, but honestly? I've been there. "Oh thank god meat shield." Still, shockingly, I'm still irked that Grey is going to the THIS IS MINE! thing.

I can’t help but feel relieved, safe, and excited with his arm around me. He draws me to his side, and I glance up at him while he stares at Jack, his expression impassive. 
Jack shuffles back uncomfortably.


“I’m the boyfriend,” Christian says with a small, cool smile that doesn’t reach his eyes as he shakes Jack’s hand. I glance up at Jack who is mentally assessing the fine specimen of manhood in front of him.
“I’m the boss,” Jack replies arrogantly. “Ana did mention an ex-boyfriend.”

Ugh. This reminds me of the Firefly episode where Mal and Wash basically start fighting over who Zoe likes better. Wash, her husband, or Mal, her old war buddy/boss/good friend. The whole episode is a little icky on this one. The whole "I'm her boyfriend" "Well I'm her boss!" "NO YOU BIGGER!" childish and creepy. The fact that Jack is tossing out "she mentioned an ex" has stripped him of any potential credibility. It's grossly inappropriate, simply because you don't say that to a person you think may have just gotten back together with their ex. You don't say that to the boyfriend of your new employee, or any employee. What if they had just gotten back together, or were a new couple? There's no way to take this that isn't grossly immature and inappropriate. I bet Jack thinks he's a Nice Guy and girls just always go for big jerks like Grey, too.

Ana gets no support from her new work buddy, Clair, as these two start basically fighting over Ana, because she's too busy dripping at the sight of Grey. Grey then declares it is TIME FOR THEM TO GO EXIT STAGE LEFT! Jack isn't too pleased.

“Why did that feel like a pissing contest?” I ask Christian as he opens the car door for me.
“Because it was,”

This will be interesting when Ana goes back to work on Monday.

“Your boss, Jack Hyde, is he good at his job?”
Whoa! That’s a sudden change in direction? I frown. “Why? This isn’t about your pissing contest?”
Christian smirks. “That man wants into your panties, Anastasia,” he says dryly.

“That’s the point. He wants what’s mine. I need to know if he’s good at his job.”
I shrug. “I think so.” Where is he going with this?
“Well, he’d better leave you alone, or he’ll find himself on his ass on the sidewalk.”

This is interesting to me. Grey has decided that any man who talks to Ana wants in her pants, and has been... not so nice to these men simply because he believes they want into Ana's pants. In this case, Jack does obviously want into Ana's pants and given Grey reason to believe that he can't be trusted to act professionally. Him declaring "I WILL RUIN HIM IF HE LAYS A FINGER ON YOU!" is... ridiculous, but for once, I am totally on board with the fantasy that is being sold here. Grey goes on to point out if he's acting inappropriately that she needs to tell him because it is sexual harassment and that is bad. When I try and talk about my experiences being sexually harassed in the work place, I'm met with a lot of "They were just joking/you're reading too much into it/etc". If I had told someone, and they believed me without question or comment, I would count that as a huge fucking win. If they didn't doubt me and could do something about it? Oh, god, the giant pile of baked goods they would get from me.* So while I think this is ridiculous and awful that rather then giving Ana the tools to deal with it herself or offering support he is simply screaming "I WILL SLAY THE BITCH!"

Ana however points out that Grey doesn't have the ability to fire Jack. OR DOES HE?

“You’ve bought it. SIP. Already.”
He blinks at me, warily. “Possibly.”
“You have or you haven’t?”
What the hell? “Why?” I gasp, appalled. Oh, this just is too much.
“Because I can, Anastasia. I need you safe.”
“But you said you wouldn’t interfere in my career!”
“And I won’t.”

The following was the conversation I had after I read this:


Time Lord: ...
That can't

Ana is, shockingly, furious. He didn't tell her- he wasn't going to either, I imagine, that he had bought the company she worked for simply because she worked there. So Ana is now going to have to be super careful no one finds out that she's dating the owner of her company- or that he bought it because she worked there. Everyone would be terrified to so much as look at her. She would never be able to get another job elsewhere, because that is the sort of thing that spreads. She also needs to try and wrap her head around how obscene this is. He bought the company she works at. To keep her safe. If they get in a fight she now needs to worry about what he might do. In trying to give Ana more power over her environment he has effectively stripped it all away.

Ana, still pissed as hell, gets out of the car and starts to storm to her apartment. Grey follows, and tries to explain that he was going to buy SIP anyways so really it's all cool. Ana doesn't agree.

“Technically, I’m your boss’s boss’s boss.”
“And, technically, it’s gross moral turpitude—the fact that I am fucking my boss’s boss’s boss.”
“At the moment, you’re arguing with him.” Christian scowls.
“That’s because he’s such an arse,” I hiss.

He actually just tried to pull the "You know you work for me now" card. I don't even- I- Wha- No. Just, no. However Ana calling him an arse is just soooo cute that he bursts into giggles and the two of them move on from being pissed off at each other.

“As ever, Miss Steele, you are unexpected.” He leans back and gazes at me, his eyes dancing with humor. “So are you going to invite me in, or am I to be sent packing for exercising my democratic right as an American citizen, entrepreneur, and consumer to purchase whatever I damn well please?”
“Have you spoken to Dr. Flynn about this?”
He laughs. “Are you going to let me in or not, Anastasia?”

Augh. Once again, he weasels past Ana's legitimate question.
"This action is grossly inappropriate and I think you should talk to your therapist about it"
"Are we fucking or not?"

I am still mad at him—his stalking knows no bounds, and it dawns on me that this is how he knew about the e-mail being monitored at SIP. He probably knows more about SIP than I do. The thought is unsavory.

Or he knew about it because 9 out of 10 large companies do it.

So Ana watches him stalk around her apartment, annoyed as all hell at his blatant disregard of boundaries. Until his black magic glamor washes over her and she remembers she loves him and they're back together and then she's back to feeling pretty good about this relationship. Then comes the sex! Hooray!

He leans down, and again I think he’s going to kiss me, but he doesn’t.
“Do you want me to kiss you, Anastasia?” he whispers softly in my ear.
“Yes,” I breathe.
“You’re going to have to be a bit more specific than that. I told you I am not going to touch you until you beg me and tell me what to do.”
My inner goddess is writhing on her chaise longue. I am lost; he’s not playing fair.

"I won't fuck you until you start to give me instructions" isn't unfair, it's fun. Or forcing you to actually consider what you do and don't like in the sack. Neither are bad things.

I reach up, and immediately he steps back.
“No, no,” he chides, his eyes suddenly wide and alarmed.
“What?” No . . . come back.
“No.” He shakes his head.
“Not at all?” I can’t keep the longing out of my voice.
He looks at me uncertainly, and I’m emboldened by his hesitation. I step toward him, and he steps back, holding up his hands in defense, but smiling.
“Look, Ana.” It’s a warning, and he runs his hand through his hair, exasperated.
“Sometimes you don’t mind,” I observe plaintively. “Perhaps I should find a marker pen, and we could map out the no-go areas.”

Ana is just a bitch here. He has yesterday revealed he doesn't like being touched because of a history of specific horrific abuse to explain WHY he didn't want to be touched. Her response is to ignore it and try to push for him to compromise on it. I don't think she's wrong to point out that "there are some places that are and are not okay and I would like to know what is and isn't okay" but when she sees him looking alarmed and scared, it means you table that shit and come back to it later. I just- augh. If she can't respect his boundaries how can he respect hers?

Grey then declares that there will be no sex at the moment, they must eat first!

If only my seduction skills were better, I’d know what to do, but not being able to touch him does hamper me.

You're allowed to touch his junk. Just tell him to turn his head and cough! She doesn't and they go off to the grocery store because Ana has absolutely no food in her apartment. Oh, joy, more delay to the hilarious sex scene. EL JAMES YOU KNOW WHAT I AM IN THIS BOOK FOR WHY YA GOTTA BE LIKE THIS?!

Two women coming in stop and stare. Oh yes, eye my Fifty Shades, I think despondently.

My precioussss!

So they get back to her place and she muses how she doesn't know him that well despite the fact that he has been inside of her. He then tells her he'd like to help with dinner but OH NO HE'S NEVER TOUCHED A COOKING IMPLEMENT IN HIS LIFE!


“I’d like to help.” His expression is sincere.
“You can chop the vegetables.”
“I don’t cook,” he says, regarding the knife I hand him with suspicion.
“I imagine you don’t need to.” I place a chopping board and some red peppers in front of him. He stares down at them in confusion.
“You’ve never chopped a vegetable?”

How were you planning to help not knowing how to cook? My parents made damned sure growing up that I knew how to take care of myself. I knew how to cook, clean, and launder growing up because otherwise they were counting it as a fail. I understand that many people don't feel the need to make damned sure that their kids can cook and such, but he went off to university. Did he not learn even the most basics there? I have some friends who's ability to boil water I am suspect of. However I have for some masochistic reason still let them into my kitchen and help out. How can you not know how to cut a vegetable? I just- I get that as a Food Wizard these things are more basic to me than many, but really? He's never even cut vegetables?! My liver. It hurts.

Ana shows him how to chop a pepper- sexily. That is going on the list of sentences I never expected to write but have. Because of this book. Ana bats her eyelashes- a shit ton- and innocently keeps rubbing her ass on him as they start cooking. BECAUSE THAT ISN'T OBVIOUS AT ALL!

“If you do that again, Anastasia, I am going to take you on the kitchen floor.”
Oh, wow. It’s working. “You’ll have to beg me first.”
“Is that a challenge?”
“I think we’ll eat later,” he says. “Put the chicken in the fridge.”
This is not a sentence I had ever expected to hear from Christian Grey, and only he can make it sound hot, really hot.

Yay hilarious sex scene time! Disappointing that EL James missed an opportunity for sexy kitchen times, or sexy chicken times. Maybe they'll bust out the chicken suit later?

Mmmm. Yeah you do.

Also Ana I'm glad we have both encountered a new turn of phrase today. I feel we're bonding- which is strange because you're a fictitious character and (as far as I know) I am not. Also Grey made a biiig show about "NO WE MUST EAT FIRST" but the second he's got a bigger boner it's go time? Diiiiick!

So they stand there staring at each other before licking the inside of each others mouths and heading to the bedroom. Again, why NOT the kitchen? They're alone in the apartment. Right there on the counter! He also carries her to the bedroom with NO EFFORT AT ALL because Grey is super fit and strong and manly and perfect. 

Holy crap. “Undress me.” I am panting already.
He smiles and hooks his index finger into my open shirt, pulling me toward him.
“Good girl,” he murmurs, and without taking his blazing eyes off mine, slowly starts to unbutton my shirt.

I've noticed this before, but it seems if you're wearing a a button up shirt in fiction your odds of getting laid triple. Which makes me more sad that I can't wear them. The girls, they are too mighty to be restrained by buttons. So what I'm saying here is if you really want to pick up, wear a button up shirt. That is what media has taught me. 

“Tell me what you want, Anastasia.” His eyes smolder and his lips part as he takes quick shallow breaths.
“Kiss me from here to here,” I whisper trailing my finger from the base of my ear, down my throat. He smoothes my hair out of the line of fire and bends, leaving sweet soft kisses along the path my finger took and then back again.
“My jeans and panties,” I murmur, and he smiles against my throat before he drops to his knees in front of me. Oh, I feel so powerful

"And next do my laundry and clean my toilet with a toothbrush. Your toothbrush. And let me ride on your back like Yoda while you do"
Oh, he’s taking no prisoners. Embarrassed I quickly point at the apex of my thighs, and he grins wickedly. I close my eyes, mortified, but at the same time beyond aroused.

Why are women so embarrassed about speaking up and saying things like "Please bend me over the sofa, slather maple syrup all over my body, pick an orifice and go to town"? 

He kisses me and unleashes his tongue, his joy-inspiring expert tongue.

When Grey is feeling particularly philanthropic he just walks down the street sticking his tongue out to inspire joy in everyone he walks past. 

So Ana stands up, points at her junk, and then the bed while grunting loudly that it is MOTHER FUCKING GO TIME!

He stands and gazes down at me, and his lips glisten with the evidence of my arousal.

Or saliva. 

So now it's Ana's turn to strip him down to his skivvies, well, his underpants. Shirt stays on. Because taking it off means touching, I guess?

So she gets down on her knees to take his pants off- because THAT'S MORE SEXY! NOW SMELL HIS PEENY WHILE YOU'RE DOWN THERE!

Very tentatively, I put him in my mouth and suck—hard. Mmm, he tastes good.
“Ahh. Ana . . . whoa, gently.”

I've never understood the phrase "She could suck a gold ball through a garden hose" being a good thing. That just sounds... painful.
“Please what?” he murmurs between my breasts

I like to think he's talking TO her breasts to be honest. I can't be the only person who has to deal with that, right? "DAMN IT MAN THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT TO DO FOR DINNER THEY DON'T HAVE A MOUTH AND THE ABILITY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS OR EAT!"**
So then they fucking, reaaaaaaal slow until Ana begs for him to pick up the pace.

He gazes down at me in triumph and kisses me hard, then really starts to move—holy cow, a punishing, relentless . . . oh fuck—and I know it will not be long. He sets a pounding rhythm. I start to quicken, my legs tensing beneath him.

Ow? I mean, I get that sometimes that is exactly the way to go about it, but Ana seems to consistently just need to be hammered away on and BLAM ORGASMS EVERYWHERE! Must be... nice?

His words are my undoing, and I explode, magnificently, mind-numbingly, into a million pieces around him, and he follows calling out my name.
“Ana! Oh fuck, Ana!” He collapses on top of me, his head buried in my neck

I'm picturing a broken marionette on a pile of broken glass. I mean, Ana must be made of glass if she keeps shattering so often.

And that brings us to the end of this truly insane chapter. I just- have at this shit in the comments, I'm out of pineapples. Till next Tuesday dear readers!

*This is not code for anything. I would bake them all of the things
**Totally a thing that I've had to say. Frequently. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

So, since today is posting day, but also Christmas, I decided to get festive! Here are some neat links:

Awkward family Christmas photos

Christmas traditions from around the world! Admittedly I'm a little irked at the "strange" there's nothing strange about it to them, just you, person writing this article. It's still a neat article, though.

50 things Yule Never know about Christmas!

I hope you all are eating tasty food with people you like. I'm going to go and watch the greatest Christmas movie ever and try to decide how to make vodka "festive"! Usual 50 Shades post will be up on Thursday. Until next time dear readers!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

50 Shades Darker Chapter 2

Alright fair readers, are you ready for chapter two? I hope so, because I sure as hell am not, and really, one of us really should be.

This chapter opens with Ana and Grey sitting down in a cozy romantic little restaurant that Grey sighs will have to do and they don't have much time.

“We don’t have long,” Christian says to the waiter as we sit. “So we’ll each have sirloin steak cooked medium, béarnaise sauce if you have it, fries, and green vegetables, whatever the chef has; and bring me the wine list.”
“Certainly, sir.” The waiter, taken aback by Christian’s cool, calm efficiency, scuttles off. Christian places his Blackberry on the table. Jeez, don’t I get a choice?

This passage bothers me more as someone who works in food than it does for other reasons. I mean, ordering for Ana is obnoxious, but we'll get to that in a minute. The waiter isn't taken aback by Christian's "cool, calm efficiency" he's taken aback by what a massive cock hole he is. Want to know why you don't order like that? Because your waiter is a fucking human being who 1) deserves some basic civility. "Sorry, we're in a real rush, can we please just have ..." vs "we don't have long so bring me this chop chop" 2) is not a fucking robot and that is a lot to process in seven seconds.

“And if I don’t like steak?”
He sighs. “Don’t start, Anastasia.”
“I am not a child, Christian.”
“Well, stop acting like one.”
It’s as if he’s slapped me. I blink at him. So this is how it will be, an agitated, fraught conversation, albeit in a very romantic setting but certainly no hearts and flowers.
“I’m a child because I don’t like steak?” I mutter trying to conceal my hurt.
“For deliberately making me jealous. It’s a childish thing to do. Have you no regard for your friend’s feelings, leading him on like that?”

Remember what I said last chapter about Grey quietly accepting Ana owning him and then making a few huge power plays to reestablish dominance? Like demanding that they leave right that second and then pulling her into a dark ally way, ramming his tongue in her mouth, and insisting she was "his"? Now she's trying to resist him ordering for her like she's a little kid. A reasonable complaint, especially if she actually doesn't like steak (I have no in text support one way or another on this) and his response is to call her childish. He immediately undermines her, insults her, and then begins to guilt her over her childish, inappropriate actions. Like leading poor, innocent Jose on just to make him jealous. Want to know what is childish? Flying into a jealous rage simply because she looked at a dude. The possibility that she was just hugging one of her best friends doesn't exist to him. She was hugging Jose at him! The possibility that Ana and Jose could be platonic friends doesn't exist in his world either. Now lets make this all more depressing by making him right. I would also be more forgiving of Grey if I thought his behavior actually had to do with being jealous of Jose and not just trying to reassert his dominance over her.

I blush—I hadn’t thought of that. Poor José—I certainly don’t want to encourage him. Suddenly, I’m mortified. Christian has a point; it was a thoughtless thing to do.

Alright, I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I don't think it's on the woman to police all of her actions least the poor innocent men folk get the wrong idea. Ana has said she doesn't care about Jose and is not interested in him. This was said in an awkward conversation as they re-established their friendship after he tried to assault her that one time. Jose can accept that this is the norm, they're friends, the huggy type, and nothing more, or he can continue to hope for more, and that's on him, not Ana. However and I feel dirty writing this however, if you have a dude friend you're super close to who you know is carrying a torch for you, maybe toning down the touching is the... considerate, thing to do?

“Two glasses of the Barossa Valley Shiraz, please.”
“Er . . . we only sell that wine by the bottle, sir.”
“A bottle then,” Christian snaps.
“Sir.” He retreats, subdued, and I don’t blame him. I frown at Fifty. What’s eating him? Oh, me probably, and somewhere in the depths of my psyche, my inner goddess rises sleepily, stretches, and smiles. She’s been asleep for a while.

Snapping at the waiter. Charming. I'm sure you've all heard the little adage of "Someone who is nice to you but not the waiter isn't a nice person" and I kind of want to print this on a t-shirt  and distribute it to wait staff as a new uniform shirt. I also fucking hate Ana's "inner goddess" and would have been quite happy if she spent the whole book in a coma. Her inner goddess has been asleep for less than a week, and is being awoken at the knowledge that she is the cause of frustration and bitchiness in someone she cares about. Clearly this is a character I'm supposed to like!

The conversation takes a turn to the serious. Grey points out that he has told Ana he wants her back and she's said nothing. She points out that while she adores and misses him, nothing has changed and she can't be a good little Submissive like he wants her to be. I'm a little proud of Ana right now, not going to lie.

“You are what I want you to be,” he says, his soft voice emphatic.
“No, Christian, I’m not.”
“You’re upset because of what happened last time. I behaved stupidly, and you . . . So did you. Why didn’t you safe word, Anastasia?” His tone changes, becoming accusatory.

“I don’t know. I was overwhelmed. I was trying to be what you wanted me to be, trying to deal with the pain, and it went out of my mind. You know . . . I forgot,” 
...“You forgot!” he gasps with horror, grabbing the sides of the table and glaring at me. I wither under his stare.
Shit! He’s furious again. My inner goddess glares at me, too. See, you brought all this on yourself!
“How can I trust you?” he says, his voice low. “Ever?”

There is so much to unpack here. Ana left because Grey beat the shit out of her- at her own request, and she realized "If this is what he needs then this is not going to work" and does the difficult and adult thing and PEACES THE FUCK OUT! Ana had asked him to go to town so she could make exactly that decision, "Is this something I can do?" and she decided "FUCK AND NO". That isn't behaving stupidly, that's cutting to the chase because she was tried of all this pussy-footing around. I don't agree with it, or think it was the best way to do it, but I don't think it was stupid, either.

Grey sees this as her fault- she should have used the safe word! She shouldn't have made him act like that! She shouldn't have provoked him! How can he trust her! What Ana should say here is "Well, we're not together anymore, which you're making me say a third time. So that isn't really a problem." and walk away with both middle fingers held proudly above her head. Maybe a song and dance number where she belts out "I will Survive?". Sadly I never get what I want in this book and that doesn't happen. What happens is Grey getting upset. Grey isn't just upset and blaming Ana for being overwhelmed and scared in what was an overwhelming and scary situation, he's getting furious and physical. So furious that Ana is getting nervous. His actions are all very physical, he's grasping tables and glowering and hissing and sounding, once again, fucking terrifying.

There is also the deep self loathing that is coming from Ana's inner goddess as to her subconscious about how she's bringing this all on herself and deserves his ire. He wouldn't get mad at you if you stopped fucking up! What?! EVERYTHING IS WRONG HERE! Also I can't be the only one who sees some pretty obvious abusive patterns here, right? The victim thinks it is their fault and they deserve it because the abuser has been feeding them a steady diet of "You MAKE me hit you/drink/cheat/etc it is all YOUR fault. If you didn't burn dinner this would never happen."

So, Ana, being wrong and bad, and Grey, being good and right, does what anyone in her situation would do. She apologizes for not using the safe word, and suddenly everything is different because she could have stopped him! This was not something she made clear at the time, if memory serves. Gas lighting? Gas lighting.

“You said you’d never leave, yet the going gets tough and you’re out the door.”
“When did I say I’d never leave?”
“In your sleep. It was the most comforting thing I’d heard in so long, Anastasia. It made me relax.”

I get why Grey was into hearing that, I get why Ana thought it, but I hate how he is holding something she said in her sleep against her like this. Unless they're confessing murder or infidelity, I think you should let things they mutter in their sleep stay off the books. People should get to have their private thoughts and dreams. If she had been a flippant bitch to him in his dream would he hold her accountable to that, too?

Deep down I know I’m hungry, but right now, my stomach is in knots. Sitting across from the only man I have ever loved and debating our uncertain future does not promote a healthy appetite. I look dubiously at my food.
“So help me God, Anastasia, if you don’t eat, I will take you across my knee here in this restaurant, and it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification. Eat!”

I get that this is supposed to be "I CARE SO MUCH" but it comes off as "Women need a big strong man to take care of them" and HE IS FUCKING THREATENING HER IN A PUBLIC PLACE IF SHE DOESN'T DO WHAT HE WANTS! Yes, in this case, it is "for her own good" but damn it she is an adult and if she wants to take her time and nibble because if you haven't eaten in 5 days a fucking steak is not going to be easy, you should let her. If he was really worried about what was best for her, he wouldn't have ordered her a steak, but something small and light that would be easy for her to eat and easy for her stomach to handle. She's going to probably be ill after eating a huge hunk of red meat after 5 days of fasting.

“Okay, I’ll eat. Stow your twitching palm, please.”
He doesn’t smile but continues to glare at me. Reluctantly I lift my knife and fork and slice into my steak. Oh, it’s mouthwateringly good. I am hungry, really hungry. I chew and he visibly relaxes.

Still mad as she agrees to do what he wants, but naturally he was right and she was soooo hungry and the steak is like super tasty! Grooooaaaan.

So they finish eating in mostly silence and get into the car with Taylor, Grey's manservant, driving because Grey thought he might drink. I appreciate this, actually. Grey has had all of a glass, maybe two, of wine, and is arranging not to drive because of it (and, you know, to have more alone time with Ana). You don't see that often in writing and it's a touch I enjoy. The driver is listening to music so he can't over hear Ana and Grey (though if Ana started to scream bloody murder he would) and Grey gets to his mysterious "proposition". I'm terrified on Ana's behalf.

He starts to ask questions about their sex life and the parts she does and doesn't like to "get a more clear picture" and half of me is expecting this to end with him proposing.

“Fundamentally, Christian, it’s your joy in inflicting pain on me that’s difficult for me to handle. And the idea that you’ll do it because I have crossed some arbitrary line.”
“But it’s not arbitrary; the rules are written down.”
“I don’t want a set of rules.”
“None at all?”

Oh look there's Ana's back bone again! Hello there! Grey just keeps asking more questions.

I shrug. “Yes, I suppose.” Oh, where is he going with this? My anxiety level has shot up several magnitudes on the Richter scale.


He strokes his chin, deep in thought. “Anastasia, I want to start again. Do the vanilla thing and then maybe, once you trust me more and I trust you to be honest and to communicate with me, we could move on and do some of the things that I like to do.”

So, the offer is to scrap all of the contracts and rules and threats of beatings and punishments and just... fucking date and ease into it. Which is what I have been screaming at these fictional characters to do from the start.

I think this might be the most aroused I have been reading this series.

Joking aside, I hate how even when he is offering the biggest compromise he ever has, it's riddled with "and YOU stop fucking up" because he is the more experienced one here. It is on the Dom to take care of the Sub after play because sometimes, shit gets real and the Sub is left a mess. It's on the Dom to anticipate that. Sure, you can't expect them to be psychic, but after Ana's first spanking Grey just LEAVES and is then furious at her for not speaking up. He didn't stop, ask her how she was, ask if she wanted anything, just... "Welp I'm off!" and off he went. He has repeatedly left Ana improperly cared for in these situations, and he gets upset at her for not knowing when to speak up? He hasn't shown her when it is and isn't okay to speak up, why is he surprised that she's afraid to? Every time she tries he undermines and dismisses her.

Grey continues, a grandiose proclamation of love, just shy of "I love you" and goes on and on and on about how wonderful and special and perfect Ana is, and for once, Ana, rather than saying "NO HE DOESN'T MEAN THIS!" actually takes it as a confession of love and calls him out on saying he's dark and twisted because he's SO WONDERFUL AND AWESOME ZOMG! From here they move onto how "touching is a hard limit" for Grey, and Ana once again feels the need to ask why? This has been ongoing, and now we get an answer! Trigger warning: Appropriation, domestic abuse, neglect of children and things of that ilk.

Grey starts to talk about how the "crack whore's" pimps beat him- maybe molested him, it's vague, and then gets onto the real trauma!

He snorts. “I think it was me who looked after her. When she finally killed herself, it took four days for someone to raise the alarm and find us . . . I remember that.”
I cannot contain my gasp of horror. Holy mother fuck. Bile rises in my throat.
“That’s pretty fucked-up,” I whisper.
“Fifty shades,” he murmurs.

I know I shouldn't start here, but if this book keeps throwing around "50 shades of BLANK" I'm going to set fire to something. Probably myself. Now, Ana, in response to "I was left alone with my Mother's corpse for four days" "that's pretty fucked-up" seems like a bit of an understatement. As Grey reveals his HORRIBLE PAST to explain why "no touching" is a rule Ana... tries to snuggle him better?

I turn my head and press my lips against his neck, seeking and offering solace as I imagine a small, dirty, gray-eyed boy lost and lonely beside the body of his dead mother.

I guess it's only no touching with her hands? I don't even know where to start with this one, you guys. I get that we're not supposed to sympathize with Grey's Mother, but I do. She was clearly a disturbed and troubled woman, one who had fallen so far that she could be dead for 4 days and no one thought to check up on her, or her kid. The book is trying really hard to paint her as a bad guy. She was a crack whore! She didn't protect Grey from her pimps! She killed herself and abandoned her son! And yes, these things are all horrific, and maybe it's because I don't have kids, but I see an incredibly depressed, troubled, sick, and hurt woman just as much as I see a damaged kid. The damaged kid at least was given help and another chance at life shortly after all this, she never did. Speaking of Grey's second family, it's mentioned he was adopted by his parents because his Dad knew his Mother at some point. If his Dad knew his Mother WHY were children's services not called earlier? He's a doctor, isn't he? Shouldn't he have seen some pretty fucking obvious red flags?

Then Ana curls up in his lap and takes a nap. No, really. "So my Mother was a crack whore who killed herself in front of me, rotted for 4 days and never protected me from her pimps" "Dude, that shit be whacked" "Yup." "Welp, nap time." Grey doesn't seem bothered by this and drops Ana off with a promise to see her tomorrow and hands her a big mysterious wrapped up box. He had been planning to give her some sort of extravagant gift from the start, despite the fact that she had given the last few back. He kisses her goodnight, gets annoyed at her for having plans to go out for drinks with her boss tomorrow, and informs her that he's not laying a finger on her until she orders/begs him to. So no hilarious sex scene huh?

:/ Okay, then.

Also how long do you think they'll drag the "no fucking until she begs for it" thing out so they can have a second "first time"? THIS IS EROTICA. I WANT TO GET BACK TO THE HILARIOUS SEX SCENES DAMN IT!

So Ana goes up to her apartment, and opens up the mysterious box. There's the mac book she forcefully gave back to him, along with the blackberry, and a new iPad. Would he have still given her all this if she hadn't agreed to get back together with him? I can't help but think she was ending up with this box one way or another.

With the iPad is a note saying it's basically a mixed tape, and loaded up with a shit ton of e-books, the back ground is a picture of the glider she gave him when it's locked, and the background a picture of them when unlocked. This... Is actually the first thing that Grey's done that I can't help but think is sweet. The background when it's locked is something innocent but personal, the actual background still innocent but nice, and he actually thought about the things she's into when he loaded it up. He didn't just buy books, he's set it up with the British Library, since Ana has a soft spot for classical British literature. Between this and him saying "Okay, so, start over, none of this contract BS that I was scaring the crap out of you with and boring the readers to tears with. Lets just feel it out and go from there, kay?" if I squint real hard I can almost see the appeal! Almost. He's still a controlling, abusive, manipulative douche canoe, but I think I can almost see a good point in there now.

So Ana cracks open the play list, and once again things take a turn for the fanfiction-y. It's loaded with songs with very obvious titles like "witch craft" and "try" and there have been an ass ton of title drops through this chapter that I've been trying to ignore and then the big important one.

Ana cries a bit as she listens to it, seeing it as an apology, and I get why the author picked this song, but she doesn't tell us what the lyrics are. If you're not already familiar with it, or willing to look it up, the reader is going to be left wondering what the hell, why is a song about science making Ana cry?

This chapter has been riddled with song and band name drops, and this is just starting to hurt.

Does this mean Christian’s going to try? Try this new relationship? I drink in the lyrics, staring at the ceiling, trying to understand his turnaround. He missed me. I missed him. He must have some feelings for me. He must. This iPad, these songs, these apps—he cares. He really cares. My heart swells with hope.

Oh hey look, more patterns of abuse! The second Ana tries to run Grey becomes warm and charming and pulls some big romantic gesture! Rather then just say "I'm sorry I was a cock but I'm crazy about you" he has to do it THROUGH SONG! Like any normal nearly 30 year old man would. Communicating by sending songs to each other and letting the other person try to discern your meaning is totally an adult way to communicate.

So Ana and Grey e-mail back and forth, once again, instant responses rather then just call or text him until Ana goes to bed happy that the world has fixed its self again!

Ugh. This one was shorter than the one before it, but I think it hurt more. The first one had some obscenity to hide behind (angst zombies and Grey being absolutely nuts) but this one didn't. This was just the two of them LOVING at each other and I'm just going to go drink all of the things now k?

See you next week and sound off in the comments, I want to know what you guys make of this fluster cluck. Posting will continue on the normal Tuesday/Thursday schedule through the holidays, for those of you desperately looking for distractions from your family, I've got your back.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

90ies Boy Bands

I was the right age at the right time to be hit with the full force of the 90ies boy-band hype. For some reason* I never really bought into it. Well, not the current ones, anyways. While most girls were losing their minds of Back Street Boys and their ilk, I was too busy rocking out to The Beatles and The Monkees** and wondering if Davy Jones might maybe think I was cute? It never clicked for me that he was, you know, older than my Dad. Still, it's hard to avoid things like top 40ies music (though God knows I try to this day) and there were a few that I kinda liked. Such as O-Town. Or at least, the two songs by them I knew. I came across mention of them and one of those two songs did not come up, so, out of curiosity, I looked it up. It's... Uh... Just watch it, we'll talk about it after, okay?

What? What is this I don't even-

Okay. So, a band who is aimed at 13 year old girls is blatantly singing about wanting to get their dicks stuck in a woman. I also think they might sort of be promoting hitting women? He wants to go "knock knock" and is miming punching things. Not sure they thought that dance move out. What really floors me about that video, though, isn't the fact that he's singing about "triple X dreams" to a girl, and as far as I can tell, propositioning a woman with tales of his dreams and promises of their junk getting stuck together, or even the fact that their target audience was 13 year old girls and their singing about just wanting to bone. It isn't even the fact that she's chilling out on a speed boat in a LBD (protip: Not a good wardrobe call there). No, what really floors me is the fact that all five of them are sharing this woman.

I don't have any issues with it, but I'm surprised. I wouldn't have thought O Town would be super into polyandry. I actually kind of love that they're all frolicking on the beach and having a grand old time with this woman when they all clearly are seeing her at the same time and everyone is just super okay with this. Do they all see one girl at a time, or do they all see other girls, too? It really raises a lot more questions than I think they ever wanted to.

Also, can I go on record and say if some dude tried ANY of these lines to proposition me and we weren't already fucking, I would be freaked right the fuck out? I want to be in you? I've had so many triple X dreams that have been starring you? I wanna go "knock knock" our bodies to the beat? What the fuck guys? No. Just, no. Take your over done hair and go to the corner and think about talking to women like human beings, not just sexy boob havers who you want to smell.

Also also- I kind of love how out of place Dude-With-A-Hat-And-Guitar is. It's like he showed up to the wrong band or something. He seems like the most fun, though. The others are all just sort of making out and he's all "nah I'm gonna play this guitar I had surgically attached to me, hang out, and dance with you, that cool?"

*To quote myself when explaining to my co-worker why I got bored of Family Guy somewhere around season 3 "I have this pesky thing called taste"

** I never said they were good tastes.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

50 Shades Darker- Chapter 1

Trigger Warnings: Sexual harassment, sexual harassment in the workplace, appropriation, domestic violence, borderline stalking, Grey being, well, Grey.

Alright. I've had a month to rest and recover, it is time to sit down and start reading this tripe again. I don't know what my innocent liver has done to deserve it, but apparently something horrible. I want to point out that in the foreword, we get this:

E L James is currently working on the sequel to Fifty Shades Darker and a new romantic thriller with a supernatural twist.

That's right boys and girls. We're being told before we even start "Hey, uh, just so you know, there's AT LEAST one more of these things". Well, thank you for trying to warn me off, book. I appreciate your efforts. Although I do have one question. Why does the book keep calling it's self a "romantic thriller with a supernatural twist"? What about these books is supernatural? Is Grey really a warlock? WAS I RIGHT?! Is BDSM supposed to be witchcraft or something now? So many questions, so few answers...

Also, I had heard that EL James wouldn't allow her work to be edited, but there is a note in the foreword thanking her editor, telling her she rocks. I WILL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT, JAMES!

We left off at the end of part 1 (which was identified as such) with Ana doing the smartest thing she's ever done and RUNNING THE FUCK AWAY from the sociopath that is Grey. She immediately began to angst over it and lament her HORRIBLE CHOICE and wondered why she couldn't just compromise all of her wants and needs to be with him. 50 Shades Deeper Darker starts off with a charming scene of some of the most generic domestic abuse ever. The scene is meant to be from Grey's view, but seriously, so very generic and bland.

He hits Mommy with a belt. Get up! Get up! You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch. You are one fucked-up bitch.
Mommy makes a sobbing noise. Stop. Please stop. Mommy doesn’t scream. Mommy curls up small.

And then the faceless villain goes and calls Grey a little shit and we're left to believe that he gets the shit kicked out of him too, but he wakes up from his flash back dream first.  Now, domestic violence is not okay and not something to be taken lightly, and that is half the reason I take issue with the way EL James uses it in her writing. It only exists as angst for our sexy hero. Grey was "rescued" by getting adopted by his wealthy family, I doubt we'll ever find out what his Mother went through, and she's simply been described as a "crack whore" to us. Her abuse has not earned her the right to be humanized, apparently. See? Actual issues here. However since I am a terrible human being, what is really bothering me about this passage is how badly it is written.

We get the kinda creepy first person narrative of a little kid riddled with lots of "Mommy". Our faceless villain wears boots, smokes, and smells like alcohol and just repeats "you are one fucked-up bitch." over and over again. I'm just saying, I think she could do better. This isn't horrific to me. This just looks like something meant for an after school special. The abuser is cartoonish, boots, belt, smokes, and drinks*. There are no other descriptions besides that. The mother doesn't get a face or voice, either. The child watching hardly even gets a voice. I feel there would be a lot more internal terror, or screaming, or more description going into the sobbing maybe? Give me something to work with here.

We then jump to chapter one. Which takes place THREE WHOLE DAYS after Ana and Grey had split. EL James really hates time jumps. Ana tells us about how things have been a haze and she's started hew new job and a special mention to Mr. Jack Hyde, her new boss. Jack Hyde. Why not just name him Jekyll and get it over with? He's described in fairly warm terms, sparkling eyes and such, and we're treated to a super short bit of dialog between the two of them.

“Excellent work, Ana. I think we’re going to make a great team.”
Somehow, I manage to curl my lips upward in a semblance of a smile.
“I’ll be off, if that’s okay with you,” I murmur.
“Of course, it’s five thirty. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight, Jack.”
“Goodnight, Ana.”

That's it. He creeps on her a little bit, leaning on her desk, and Ana gives wooden and hollow responses. However he's still into it because... she has nice tits? I guess? I am a big fan of "show, don't tell" and "try not to write too much filler" but character establishing isn't filler, it's important. So is setting a scene. I can only gleam as much as I can about Jack because he was painfully obviously named as our next antagonist, and because EVERY MAN in this book wants into Ana's pants. Glad to see getting her first book published didn't go to EL James head and she remained as ham-fisted as ever!

We then get treated to Ana being an angst-zombie, barely human over HOW AWFUL LIFE WITHOUT GREY IS! I just- YOU DATED FOR LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AND LEFT BECAUSE YOU REALIZED IT COULDN'T WORK! Yes, you get to be sad and watch bad movies and eat ice cream and cry, but angst zombie? Really?

Grey, being super respectful of the fact that leaving was obviously painful for Ana, sends her flowers with the following note:

Congratulations on your first day at work.
I hope it went well.
And thank you for the glider. That was very thoughtful.
It has pride of place on my desk.

The glider, for those of you coming in new, was something Ana had bought for him after their last Big Romantic Date because he brought her gliding, and she booby trapped his apartment by leaving it on his bed after they broke up.  So Ana reads this note, feels like shit, but tells herself he had nothing to do with it, it was all his assistant. What? Why the fuck would his assistant be sending flowers to his ex-girlfriend without getting pretty specific instructions to do so? He OBVIOUSLY had something to do with it. Ana, being the paragon of good judgement, dutifully plops the flowers into a vase where they can sit there and remind her of WHAT SHE HAS LOST OF WOE IS HER!

And so a pattern develops: wake, work, cry, sleep. Well, try to sleep. I can’t even escape him in my dreams. Gray burning eyes, his lost look, his hair burnished and bright all haunt me. And the music . . . so much music—I cannot bear to hear any music. I am careful to avoid it at all costs. Even the jingles in commercials make me shudder.
I have spoken to no one, not even my mother or Ray. I don’t have the capacity for idle talk now. No, I want none of it. I have become my own island state. A ravaged, war-torn land where nothing grows and the horizons are bleak. Yes, that’s me. I can interact impersonally at work, but that’s it. If I talk to Mom, I know I will break even further—and I have nothing left to break.

I think the real reason Ana is avoiding everyone isn't because she can't stand the thought of opening up- but because she knows they will tell her she's being a melodramatic git. Yes, break ups suck, yes, you can be sad, but Ana isn't eating, she isn't sleeping, she is engaging in dangerous and destructive behaviors because she split with a dude she had been seeing for about two months because it wasn't working out. They left on civil and friendly terms! She should be more worried that he keeps contacting her even though she asked him not to. She knows he has stalker tenancies! Augh.

From here we get to jump back to Ana at work, being annoyed at her boss hovering and asking personal questions. I would usually assume these are "trying to get to know you" type questions but we don't see any of them, and I'm sure he's going to turn into a big sexually harassing monster in the near future, so they probably ARE awkward and personal, but EL James doesn't tell us what they are, just tells us that he asks them. THE WRITING IS SO BAD IT BURNS!

Ana then gets an e-mail from Grey offering her a ride To Dartmouth. From Seattle. Four hours (if memory serves). To her friend's art show that she had invited him to when they were still together. Her friend who he refuses to even acknowledge by name he hates his guts so much. THIS SEEMS PERFECTLY REASONABLE! Ana then has a moment to realize that her phone was sent to forward all of her calls and messages to the Blackberry Grey had given her.


Why were you paying for two phones rather then changing the number of the blackberry?

Ana cries in the bathroom and the narrative gets kind of confusing, talking about crying herself to sleep and reminding herself that she's at work. She laments over if she can see Grey,  and if she can stand it. Apparently there are no other options for getting between Seattle and Portland? Like maybe a bus, or a train. Because university towns never have those sorts of things to the nearest big city. Naturally she'll accept Grey's offer, but that's because Ana is a big stupid head.

So the book goes on with Ana dwelling on Grey and his Dark Tragic Past TM and her boss being SUPER creepy until finally we're in the car. I'm actually going to pause her to talk about her boss.

Jack keeps saying things like "You're doing such a good job!" and hovering and opening doors and suggesting they should get drinks to "celebrate her awesome first week" how the hell could she be having an awesome first week when she is apparently living on lattes and angst? Any reactions that get described to us are wooden and forced on her part. So, he is being super duper attentive to his new assistant. His young, pretty, new assistant. Maybe he sees shes sort of... down, and just wants to cheer her up, but I'm not going to bite. Consider this the "sexual harassment" part of my rant because seriously, fuck you EL James. I will be SHOCKED if his behavior is treated as anything more than a minor annoyance, and that will confirm to me that EL James has been lucky enough to never been sexually harassed in the workplace herself.

I don't think people should stay away from writing about things they've never experienced first hand. I've yet to torturer a person to death, or have an arm ripped from its socket, but I'll write about those things. I do think, however, when you start getting into things like domestic abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace, you need to consider how you handle it. They're real issues.  Issues many women (and men) have had to deal with. Have been helpless against it because you still need to work and so what if the owner sometimes suggests you should straddle a broom handle and cram it on in there for his amusement**? It pays better than your other options. You normalize it, too, if you're helpless to do anything about it. "It isn't so bad" "they're just kidding around" I'm sure you're all at least on paper familiar with the things a person would tell themselves. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe EL James isn't appropriating real, traumatic issues simply because she wants to make her plot a little more edgy and they'll be treated as real issues, but I will be very, very surprised if she does. Hell, I'll mail the woman a card and a cookie if she handles sexual harassment in the work place like a real issue and not some fantasy land sort of thing that is all magiced away by Grey. [/end tangent]

Ana for reasons I still don't understand gets in the car. Grey is all sexy and good smelling and he immediately starts reaming her on not eating because it looks like she lost 5 pounds, and Ana commented that her dress is looser than before, too. ... IT HAS BEEN 5 DAYS! If she has been eating as little as she says she is, she would have passed out and been hospitalized by now. Assuming she is eating more than that, is 5 pounds in 5 days even possible? Or enough time to have a such a drastic change that your clothes would fit differently and people would be able to tell by looking at you? He then goes on to get growly that her boss waves at her because how DARE she know other men!

“Well? Your last meal?”
“Christian, that really is none of your concern,” I murmur, feeling extraordinarily brave.
“Whatever you do concerns me. Tell me.”
No, it doesn’t. I groan in frustration, rolling my eyes heavenward, and Christian narrows his eyes. And for the first time in a long time, I want to laugh.

Anything she does is a concern to him. Switch shampoos? He wants to know. Paint her toenails blue? How DARE she not send him a text! I get that this is supposed to be part of his appeal. He's super into anything she thinks/does/wants to do. I get the appeal of the fantasy of someone who is interested in anything you might have to say. Sometimes I start talking about writing and The Boy's eyes just sort of glaze over- but despite the fact that sometimes it's frustrating, usually I'm pretty grateful that there are parts of my life that are just mine. He cares because they affect me, but he's pretty content to let me handle it myself unless asked to help. I LIKE having that separate space from him, otherwise it would get boring. He has his shit, I have mine, it keeps us both our own people and breathing room instead of turning into some sort of horrible blob monster. Is the idea of a guy who wants to know EVERYTHING YOU DO INCLUDING WHAT YOU ATE really that appealing to other women?

Now, to touch on the other problematic part here. The eye rolling. In the last book Ana got her first spanking, an experience that read as really rape-ish and uncomfortable to me, over eye rolling. It turned into an ongoing issue, she wasn't allowed to be exasperated ever. Or at least she wasn't allowed to show she was exasperated ever. That is why it is driving them both to giggles because IT'S SO FUNNY THAT HE HIT HER OVER ROLLING HER EYES!

“Ana, please. We need to talk.”
I’m going to cry. No. “Christian, I . . . please . . . I’ve cried so much,” I whisper, trying to keep my emotions in check
“Oh, baby, no.” He tugs my hand, and before I know it I’m on his lap. He has his arms around me, and his nose is in my hair. “I’ve missed you so much, Anastasia,” he breathes.
I want to struggle out of his hold, to maintain some distance, but his arms are wrapped around me. He’s pressing me to his chest. I melt. Oh, this is where I want to be.

BOUNDARIES MAN! BOUNDARIES! This is not an okay way to handle your ex. He doesn't hug her, he doesn't go for an arm around the shoulders or something more... subdued. He pulls her into his lap. And holds her there with enough force that she doesn't think it's worth it to even try and escape. He knows he just has to wait and his black magic glamor*** will kick in and she'll be a puddle in his crotch.


That sounded way better in my head.

And, uh, they seem to be back together now? He's holding her hand like it ain't no thang as they go up to the helicopter because duh. In the elevator to said helicopter, the boners start.

He glances down at me, gray eyes alive, and it’s there in the air between us, that electricity. It’s palpable. I can almost taste it, pulsing between us, drawing us together.
“Oh my,” I gasp as I bask briefly in the intensity of this visceral, primal attraction.
“I feel it, too,” he says, his eyes clouded and

 What. If I was just standing in an elevator with some chick I wanted to bone and she let out a twitterpated "Oh my!" out of fucking nowhere my response, even if I was full on lady-bonering right back at her, wouldn't be "Hellz yeah I feel this too" it would be "What the hell did you just see? Is there a monster in the elevator? Damn it. I thought I had that skink infestation taken care of!". What I'm trying to say if I'm bad at being sexy. So they get out of the elevator and Grey is still being super snuggly with Ana and she isn't stopping him. As they get into the helicopter and start to head out, he gleefully points things out. Such as the Space Needle.

“I’ll take you—we can eat there.”
What? “Christian, we broke up.”
“I know. I can still take you there and feed you.” He glares at me.

Three lines, and so much to unpack. Grey is clearly not processing that they split, or sees it as a temporary thing even though Ana was pretty clear when she left. He still sends her flowers, e-mails her, takes her for helicopter rides, and at no point stop and thinks what she might want. He thinks that Ana didn't mean it and still wants him. He, unfortunately, isn't wrong, but it shows a very blatant disrespect for her choices, boundaries, and wants. Ana has been so stunned and so swept up in this that she hasn't been able to remind him that they are not together until he starts to blatantly pretend their not. When she tried to reassert her boundaries, what's his response? To be snippy, ignore them, and glare. SO DREAMY YOU GUYS!

“What’s your boss like?”
“Oh, he’s okay.” How can I tell Christian that Jack makes me uncomfortable? Christian turns and gazes at me.

Okay, so bets on the whole "Ana's boss is going to be sexually harassing her" thing being resolved in a way that involves Grey financially ruining him?

“Good thing for you this is only three floors, in those heels,” he mutters to me in disapproval.
No kidding.
“Don’t you like the boots?”
“I like them very much, Anastasia.” His gaze darkens and I think he might say something else, but he stops. “Come. We’ll take it slow. I don’t want you falling and breaking your neck.”

Because Ana can't take seven steps without falling over. Actually, that isn't true. Ana is based on Bella Swan, from the Twilight series, who actually can't take seven steps without risking horrible injury. It's meant to make her cute and give lots of strong beefy men an excuse to heave her around. Ana has in text managed to hurt herself... I think once? There's a lot of talk about how she's sooo clumsy but it's really starting to feel like an informed trait here. Which makes it all the more annoying that she apparently can't be trusted to walk down a few flights of stairs in a pair of heels. I am a klutz. The fact that I work in kitchens and haven't died is miraculous. I am constantly covered in cuts and bruises, and I can still walk in heels just fine. Is expecting characters to be consistent and realistic enough that I can suspend my disbelief really so much to ask?


“Good evening and welcome to José Rodriguez’s show.” A young woman dressed in black with very short brown hair, bright red lipstick, and large hooped earrings greets us. She glances briefly at me, then much longer than is strictly necessary at Christian, then turns back to me, blinking as she blushes.
My brow creases. He’s mine—or was. I try hard not to scowl at her. As her eyes regain their focus, she blinks again.


The woman in question somehow knows Ana by name- I'll assume there's a portrait of her up at the gallery somewhere, and Grey is shuffled off so Ana and Jose can have a scene where he's in a suit and Ana gets teary because HE'S HER ONLY FRIEND YOU GUYS! Well, while Kate is gone. Her only friend who she's made no effort to contact for over a week at least. He gives her a bear hug and we get this.

“Hey are you okay? You look, well, odd. Dios mio, have you lost weight?”

 Honestly, is he wearing a sombrero, too? Has Ana over FIVE DAYS really managed to loose that much weight? I get that she was skeletal before but seriously how is this even possible?

“Christian brought me,” I say, suddenly apprehensive.
“Oh.” José’s face falls and he releases me. “Where is he?” His expression darkens.
“Over there, fetching drinks.” I nod in Christian’s direction and see he’s exchanging pleasantries with someone waiting in line. Christian glances up when I look his way and our eyes lock. And in that brief moment, I’m paralyzed, staring at the impossibly handsome man who gazes at me with some unfathomable emotion. His gaze hot, burning into me, and we’re lost for a moment staring at each other.

Well aren't they just SO DESTINED to be together? Just gawking at each other like a pair of turkeys. Ana then has a moment of "OH MY GOSH HE WANTS ME! THIS PERFECT MAN WANTS ME! STILL!" and I think I just face palmed so hard I gave myself a black eye. Jose tries to give Ana a warning about something (the inevitable portrait) but is dragged off for an interview or something of the sort. Ana at this point starts to actually look at the photographs around her. Mostly landscapes, which is his thing and was mentioned before. They're apparently pretty good?

So the random photographer spots the SUPER FAMOUS AND ENIGMATIC Grey and asks for a picture. Grey agrees and drags Ana into it- this is a big deal because he has now twice been photographed with her for some press thing, and when Ana internet stalked him before there were no pictures of him with women. We then- ugh. I'm just going to throw it up here, it hurts too much to try and paraphrase.

"...No, I don’t do dates, Anastasia—only with you. But you know that.” His eyes burn with sincerity.
“So you never took your”—I glance around nervously to check no one can overhear us—“subs out?”
“Sometimes. Not on dates. Shopping, you know.” He shrugs, his eyes not leaving mine.
Oh, so just in the playroom—his Red Room of Pain and his apartment. I don’t know what to feel about that.
“Just you, Anastasia,” he whispers.

BECAUSE ANASTASIA ROSE STEELE IS THE MOST SPECIAL AND UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE TO EVER GET STUCK UP SOMEONES NOSE! GRLEHIAH. Again, I get the fantasy here, powerful, sexy man who gives a shit about what you had for breakfast is treating you special and differently because he thinks you're special and different. Not like those Other Women who will fawn over him at every opportunity, no, you're a real person. My issue comes with the hamfisting presentation of it. Show, don't tell. Isn't that the first rule of writing?

So Ana finds the portraits of herself.

We turn the corner, and I can see why I’ve been getting strange looks. Hanging on the far wall are seven huge portraits—of me.
I stare blankly at them, stupefied, the blood draining from my face. Me: pouting, laughing, scowling, serious, amused. All in super close up, all in black and white.
Holy crap! I remember José messing with the camera on a couple of occasions when he was visiting and when I’d been out with him as driver and photographer’s assistant. He took snapshots, or so I thought. Not these invasive candids.

So, I get that he was about to warn her about this before getting dragged off but shouldn't he have asked if it was okay to use pictures of her first? I can't imagine Ana would have agreed to it. She didn't even realize he was taking the pictures. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be an "ART!" sort of thing or "invasive, creepy, and way too personal" sort of thing. Discuss in the comments. Grey naturally starts to get mad that another man has noticed his perfect special snowflake (though really, Jose was on the scene first and had noticed her before Grey came into the picture, so it's more that he wasn't the first to notice his super duper special unicorn of a girlfriend).

“Did you just buy one of these?”
“One of these?” he snorts, not taking his eyes off them.
“You bought more than one?”
He rolls his eyes. “I bought them all, Anastasia. I don’t want some stranger ogling you in the privacy of their home.”

I didn't think I need to bust the pineapple out this soon. I hope she throws her wine on the portraits, sets them on fire, and skips out merrily to go bone Jose for hours on end. I don't even like Jose as a character, he basically tries to date-rape Ana in the first book, but it would piss off Grey and therefore I support it. And then the banter starts. The "OH WE'RE SO CUTE AND WITTY LOLOLOL" banter that has plagued the last book. Heavy with "I want you to slickle my peeny with your smart mouth"**** subtext. JUST STICK IT IN HER BUTT ALREADY!

“You look very relaxed in these photographs, Anastasia. I don’t see you like that very often.”
What? Whoa! Change of subject—talk about non sequitur—from playful to serious.
I flush and glance down at my fingers. He tilts my head back, and I inhale sharply at the contact with his long fingers.
“I want you that relaxed with me,” he whispers. All trace of humor has gone.
Deep inside me that joy stirs again. But how can this be? We have issues.
“You have to stop intimidating me if you want that,” I snap.
“You have to learn to communicate and tell me how you feel,” he snaps back, eyes blazing.


Ana's magical appearing and disappearing backbone decides it's time to make an appearance at this point.

“Christian, you wanted me as a submissive. That’s where the problem lies. It’s in the definition of a submissive—you e-mailed it to me once.” I pause, trying to recall the wording. “I think the synonyms were, and I quote, ‘compliant, pliant, amenable, passive, tractable, resigned, patient, docile, tame, subdued.’ I wasn’t supposed to look at you. Not talk to you unless you gave me permission to do so. What do you expect?” I hiss at him.
He blinks, and his frown deepens as I continue.
“It’s very confusing being with you. You don’t want me to defy you, but then you like my ‘smart mouth.’ You want obedience, except when you don’t, so you can punish me. I just don’t know which way is up when I’m with you.”

If this was how Ana usually acted, I would adore her character. Here she's articulate, concise, and stands up for herself all while telling Grey off for being a d-bag, and she does so without resorting to screaming of]r name calling. Can I get a fuck and yes? I think this is how EL James sees Ana, but this is not the Ana we see normally. Only when the plot demands it. It's sort of like her Ultimate Form. Grey agrees that she made a good point and then, since he has lost control of the conversation, gets awful again.

“Come, let’s go eat.”
“We’ve only been here for half an hour.”
“You’ve seen the photos; you’ve spoken to the boy.”
“His name is José.”
“You’ve spoken to José—the man who, the last time I met him, was trying to push his tongue into your reluctant mouth while you were drunk and ill,” he snarls.
“He’s never hit me,” I spit at him.
Christian scowls at me, fury emanating from every pore. “That’s a low blow, Anastasia,” he whispers menacingly.

AND POINTING OUT HOW ONE OF HER BEST FRIENDS TRIED TO MAKE OUT WITH HER ISN'T?! A half hour for one of her best friends openings. Grey had been invited by Ana initially, and it asked to bring her all on his own. Now he's dictating it's time to leave because she stood up for herself and he wants to assert his power. He brought her there, he gets to decide when they leave. Now, I do think he has a point in his reasoning for disliking Jose, however it's Ana's choice, and he should respect that she and Jose talked about it and worked it out. He's allowed to still dislike him, and frankly should, I still do, but he should learn to reign that shit in. If I believed for a second the reason he disliked Jose was because of the fact that he practically tried to molest Ana, I'd be more on side, but I think it's that Jose has feelings for Ana, and that is Unacceptable to Grey.

Ana has flown hours to go and see her friend and his opening, and wanted to be there badly enough to accept the ride from her ex she was still torn up over. This means nothing to him, and she tries again.

“Please, can we stay longer?”
“No. Go. Now. Say good-bye.”

What a dream boat, amIrite ladies?

So Ana goes over to say bye to Jose, who notices that she seems PISSED and she tries to downplay it. He accepts this and is all affectionate bear hugs and spinning. Grey is having NONE OF THAT and stalks over to stake his claim on Ana as HIS even though they're not together.

He looks quickly up and down the street then heads left and suddenly sweeps me into a side alley, abruptly pushing me up against a wall. He grabs my face between his hands, forcing me to look up into his ardent determined eyes.
I gasp, and his mouth swoops down. He’s kissing me, violently. Briefly our teeth clash, then his tongue is in my mouth.

Alright, so, I'm not the only one who thinks this is TERRIFYING right? He just dragged her into a dark alleyway and is violently ramming his tongue in her mouth. Ana isn't given a chance to consent, or to protest. Now, naturally, she wants it because Grey is a fucking warlock and that's part of his magic, but this is an insipid thing to sell as part of a fantasy. A man so jealous that he's moved to violence is supposed to be a good thing? And lets be honest, this is violence. He's grabs Ana, unaware, and pulls her into a dark alleyway so he can have his way with her despite the fact that she's been vocal about being upset with him and confused and not dating him. It's one thing for your boyfriend to decide it is spontaneous sketchy alleyway sex time, it is another for your ex to.

So they make out, naturally, and it's a super intense emotional make out that leaves them both winded. Kay, show of hands, who has ever actually been left panting just from making out?

“You. Are. Mine,” he snarls, emphasizing each word. He pushes away from me and bends, hands on his knees as if he’s run a marathon. “For the love of God, Ana.”

You. Don't. Own. People. And she's your ex. She has decided that is actually not the truth at all! See? Terrifying stalker.

His tactics have worked, though, and Ana, blinded by her lady-boner, apologizes. See what I mean about the vanishing back bone?

“I’m sorry,” I whisper once my breath has returned.
“You should be. I know what you were doing. Do you want the photographer, Anastasia? He obviously has feelings for you.”

So not only is it not enough that he has made Ana apologize for having a dude friend who hugs her, he now has to guilt her over it. How dare Ana not anticipate the needs and feelings of every other man and just lead him on like that! How dare she! It isn't like she has explicitly told Jose that she only sees him as a friend or anything! Clearly any touching means you want his dick!

This is all wrapped up with a charming declaration from Grey that he's usually so STOIC AND IN CONTROL and with Ana he just fucking looses it! It is her fault that he's being such a wanker! Shouldn't that be a reason to stay the fuck away? Just saying, if someone made me loose my head, and broke up with me, I'd take that as a sign to get my shit back under control and move on, not pursue them harder. Then they're off to eat.

And that's the end of chapter 1! I'm torn on how I feel about this one. On one hand, I was expecting the first few chapters to be slow and draggy since Ana would just be sitting in a corner in a catatonic state. Maybe there could have been a time jump, I sort of expected that, too. Instead we get dropped right back where we left off, treated to an over dose of angst followed up with Grey being absolutely terrifying. I just- what the fuck? WHY is this popular? Why do women looove him? He's terrifying!

Well, that's all from me until next week. I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments, as comments encourage me to keep reading this God awful book!

*Not that there is anything wrong with wearing boots, smoking, or drinking.
**True story, happened to me. Not the worst thing he did. His brother-in-law was worse than he was on top of that.
***For new readers, this isn't in text explicitly, but it's the only way I can make any fucking sense of people's reactions to him.
**** Over eager high-fives to anyone who gets that reference. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

50 Shades of Domestic violence

"Wait, I thought chapter 1 was going up Thursday?" It is, but I saw something at stfucouples *that I needed to re-post.

How much do I love this poster? So much. And it's Canadian. *NATIONAL PRIDE*

I've gone over a lot of it before as I've gone through the deconstruction, and I just really want to go and work for them now. I also love the fact that someone said "There is this huge deal being made over books that are romanticizing abuse** and that shit is not okay. What can we do about it?" AND DID SOMETHING. Sure, it's a simple poster, but I hope that you'll all join me in spreading the SHIT out of this thing.

*There was a bit of commentary from a blog that just tore into the meat of it, and is kind of amazing, which you can find here under December 3rd.

**They're also doing BDSM wrong. Just saying.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy holidays/Festivus/Winter Solstice/Chrinukaza

I get the sneaking suspicion that outside of North America simply saying "I am from X country" is enough of an answer to when people ask you "Where you from?" in Canada (and I think the US, though I have less authority on that one) it isn't. You're Irish/Scottish/Lithuanian/German. You're African/Chinese/First Nations. You're what ever bizarre and often convoluted mix you are, as to simply Canadian.

My family, on all sides, has been in Canada for at least 4 generations. As many people who have a blood line that has stayed in a place that has a fair assortment of backgrounds, mine has gotten hilariously mixed up, and I look a little... Exotic? When I'm talking to someone who's Greek, they think I'm Greek. Same with Lebanese, Italians, Ukrainians... The list goes on. Rather than try to go into it all, I just tell people I'm a mutt and hope they leave it at that. They never do. However I'm not joking when I say I can't keep track of my own genealogy, I discovered that my family name used to be a "ski" but was changed when my Grandfather's family first moved to... the US before coming to Canada. The border guard just went "Yeah, you're Smith* now. Welcome to USA". Whenever people start pressing for my family history (this is a totally normal thing here) I short hand it to the two easiest to explain ones. "French Catholic and English Jewish"** they also come from different economic classes, too, for extra fun.

Yeah, I know, I know. I'm sure you can imagine what it's like when you get the two sides of my family together.

They fucking love each other. No, really. I never realized that was strange until I was like, 16. What do you mean people don't ignore each others religion and backgrounds and judge them simply based on who they are and what they do? I miss that delusion. *Wistful sigh*

Although all of this is a very round about way of saying "I celebrate more than on pantheons worth of holidays simply because of my upbringing" and while I am on paper Catholic, I was raised with Jewish traditions, too. So when December rolls around and it becomes polite to tact on some sort of holiday greeting at the end of any conversation, it is a big struggle for me. No, really. Do I wish them Merry Christmas? Happy Hanuka? Do I try to potato masher the two together? Christmkunaka? Is that prefaced with happy or merry? Shit, what about New Years? That's just around the corner, too, right? So instead I just wish people "Happy Holidays".

People for some reason don't like that. Near strangers to good friends will roll their eyes and say "Oh, stop with the PC crap". My Facebook feed is FILLED with "IT'S MERRY CHRISTMAS NOT HAPPY HOLIDAY" venom.

It is at this point that I grit my teeth, fight the urge to launch into a rant about how they celebrate both Christmas AND New Years so "Happy Holidays" is really just a good catch all, and it's dickish to assume that everyone celebrates YOUR holiday. It's bad enough that two months are jacked for it, and people have to listen to Christmas music and see Christmas decorations everywhere. Can you fathom how obnoxious Christmas is for people who don't celebrate it? Are you aware of how big of a jackwagon you're being by policing me for wanting to simplify and be inclusive at a time of year that is very exclusive?

I don't do that, though. I grit my teeth, make deliberate eye contact, smile sweetly and say "Happy Chanukah!"

This ends one of three ways.
1) The person smiles, and graciously wished me a Happy Hanukkah back.
2) They look confused, apparently not totally clear what Hannukah is.
3) They look awkward and guilty.

I'm happy with 1 or 3, when 2 happens I get a little bit depressed.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have no issue with someone saying "Merry Christmas!". I used to wish it to people, and never once was I given flack or an eye roll for it. No, I only get that for "Happy Holidays!" and that, dear readers, is where I take issue.  If someone wants to go around and feel they have the freedom to wish people "Merry Christmas!" they should allow other people the freedom to choose what ever seasons greetings they want to without comment, too.

So, on that note, since Hanukkah started yesterday, Happy Holidays one and all!

*My last name isn't Smith, but something equally generic and simple. 
** I mean Canadian English and French, for the record.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

50 Shades of Grey - Recap

As I prepare to dive into the next book in this "epic saga" I figured it would be in good form to do a quick re-cap of what happened in the last book for anyone coming in new who didn't want to read through the archives over here. It's okay, I understand, it's a lot to read. So for anyone coming in new (or people who have forgotten what happened in the last book since I took a month off) here is the short version of what happens in 50 Shades of Grey- as told from what I can remember off the top of my head.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Okay, fine, I'll try harder.

An older man into BDSM* hooks up with a young, wide-eyed, innocent, and barely legal girl. There's a lot of painful "Dark Knight" imagery and unintentionally hilarious/horrifying sex scenes where two apparently mature adults fail at communication on every single fucking level. Also there's something about an Evil Ex?

The cast-

Christian Grey - The epitome of male perfection, the text will tell you over and over and over and over again. Except that he has a Dark! Tragic! Past! He's into BDSM because he hooked up with an older woman who got him into it! And by "hooked up with an older woman" I mean "was molested as a child" but the character never frames it this way. When the narrator does she's made to seem jealous and irrational. He's a pushy d-bag who throws money around and isn't so good at this whole "treating people like people" thing. He's controlling, over bearing, ignores people's boundaries, and just generally a despicable jackwagon** and stalker.

Anastasia Rose Steele - Yes, that is really her name. No, seriously, that is her name. She's a jealous, irrational, overly emotional "good girl" who's only hobbies include reading and eating paste. Oh, and she's the POV character. Oh! And it seems EVERY SINGLE DUDE she meets wants to date/bone/marry her for some reason. She is also one of the only female brunettes in the cast.

Kate - Ana's mandatory over-protective way more attractive female friend. She's supposed to be savvy and awesome and no-nonsense but I get more "selfish shrieking harpy" from her myself. I mean, she lets some dude who was border line stalking her innocent BFF take her home from the bar when said innocent BFF is passed out drunk because she was into his brother. And he didn't take Ana home like he said he would, he took her to his hotel, and Kate didn't call the cops/blow up Ana's phone with frantic "DID HE KIDNAP YOU?" texts/calls.

Elliot Grey - Christain's brother. He's, uh, there? Looks nothing like his brother (because Chris is adopted) and is meant to be a foil for him by being cheerful, friendly, fun, warm, and affectionate to people. YES CLEARLY THE DUDE HE IS MEANT TO BE A FOIL TO IS THE ONE I SHOULD WANT TO BONE NOT THE ALSO GORGEOUS FUN ONE!

Jose Rodriguez - The mandatory "other love interest" who if I had to sum him up based on the treatment the text gives him in one word - Brown. Seriously, they underscore it at every chance, and never in a way that is productive and not awful. He's basically Jacob from Twilight, but with none of the bits that make him interesting or likeable. No, really, he basically tried to date-rape Ana very early on before just... vanishing from the text until he is needed to give Grey a reason to be mad/jealous.

Ana's Mom - I seriously can't remember the woman's name, they use it... twice? Maybe? She's flighty and flaky and on her third or fourth marriage. When we see her she talks entirely in cliches and it hurts. Not fun hurting, either.

Grey's Mom - Also can't remember her name, but that might be because I can't be bothered to. She's a doctor, and naturally perfect in every way.

Grey's Dad - See above. Not sure if he's a doctor, however.

Mia Grey - Grey's little sister. Meant to be Ana's TRUE BFF I imagine because she is thus far the only other brunette in the entire cast. She's a manic pixie dream girl.

Ray - Ana's Mother's second husband (I think second? So many to keep track of.) who's kind of like a Dad to her. He has no personality to speak of. He, uh, fishes, and hunts and sports? Seriously the man doesn't talk. He's just... there.

Mrs. Robinson - She has a real name, but again, it comes up once. Ellena, or something like that? She's the antagonist (I think? We haven't actually met her yet) of the story. Grey's ex-Dom/his first girlfriend/the older woman who molested him as a child who's now a business associate.

There might be other characters but they're all so mundane and seemingly unimportant that after a month I really can't remember anything about them.

Right, tune in next Thursday for chapter 1 of 50 Shades Deeper Darker and bring your beverage of choice! I'm sure it'll be a doozy!

Something not-50 Shades will be up come Tuesday, for those of you interested in the other things I write. Till next time!

*I use the term with great apprehension, as what he's into is more "being a dick" than "BDSM" in my books.
**I kind of want "Despicable Jack-Wagon" on a t-shirt.