Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Totally True Story Of The Time I Met Kevin Spacey.

I may have already told you all this story before. If I have, just nod and smile, as if I'm a forgetful old grandpa telling you the same story every year at Christmas time.

Once upon a time, I had this dream that I was going to be a big time Broadway star. But I could never commit to leaving Michigan, due to its awesomeness. Instead, I had this weird idea that I could live in Michigan and worry about relocating to the Big Apple if I ever actually got a job. In industries that are not "acting in a play in New York," that's a smart strategy. But I've already mentioned what industry I was interested in, so my plan bleeeeeeeeeeeeew.

So, anyway, I would fly into New York, audition for shit, then fly home either the same night or the next morning. On one such occasion, I was walking around and saw the marquee for a revival of The Iceman Cometh. I had heard that Tony Danza was in that. I thought it would be funny to wait at the stage door and meet him, and get his autograph on one of the brochures you get out of the back of taxis. Because he was on Taxi, get it? I'm hilarious.

I go over to a cab, I get one of the brochures from the guy, I go back and wait at the stage door. People start coming out, but nobody I really want to see. Then the dude next to me starts talking about how he's the big Kevin Spacey fan, and he's so into Kevin Spacey, and I'm like, "That's nice, me too," and thinking, "Wow, it's weird that this guy just keeps talking about Kevin Spacey," and then I realize, oh, Kevin Spacey is in this show, and just then, bam, out the stage door comes Kevin Spacey.

So, I got Kevin Spacey's autograph on an index card, and it was pretty awesome. Except, I'm not really good at meeting celebrities (ask me about the time I puked in front of Tori Amos!) so I ended up pointing at his face when he was like, a foot away from me, and saying, "Hey! You're Keyser Soze!"

Then I started pretty actively hardcore trolling on Kevin Spacey fan email lists, but that... is a story for another time.

Oh, also, Tony Danza never came out, otherwise this story would have been way cooler.

Monday, July 30, 2012

50 Shades Darker Chapter 4 recap, or "Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson"

And lo, Jen said it was link times, and it was, and she looked upon it and saw that it was good. Aaaaallll good:

Product Review: Masturbation to 50 Shades of Grey: "WANKING TO THIS BOOK IS EVIDENCE OF A DISEASE."

Kate (from the comments section, not the book) brings us this link: 51 Tints of Granite

Kate's recommendation spurred Meredith to leave this comment:
OMG! That 51 Tints of Granite thing is hilarious! More to read. I love it! I have never been into fanfic before, but suddenly I'm seeking it out all over the place. Jenn, you have introduced me to a world I never knew existed. I think I love you.
This got me thinking. A lot of the criticism coming at the entire 50 Shades phenomenon has been that it's fanfic. And I think along the way a lot of people, myself included, have used "It's fanfic" to make fun of the horrible writing. But there are some really good fanfics out there, with absolutely stellar writing, and I think I would be remiss if I didn't point them out to y'all. So, expect an upcoming post with fanfic recs. Because fanfic is magic and the more people who participate, the better!

But for now, let's bust right through this chapter like it's Ana's problematic hymen.
As sanity returns,
You realize you're in an abusive relationship and leave him?
I open my eyes and gaze up into the face of the man I love.

Christian tells Ana how much he's missed her (in the five days they were broken up) and how much he missed having sex with her, and he tells her not to leave him again. Then she's all, "Thanks for the iPad," and then he says:
"Come cook me some food, wench. I'm famished."
Because this is Westeros or something. Or...

Oh my gosh. Does anyone else remember Covington Cross, that show that was on (and got immediately canceled) in 1992? I have been obsessed with that show for so long, I'm almost embarrassed that this is the first time I'm thinking of this in this context... the family name of the main characters was "Grey." I could write a 50 Shades of Grey fanfic... and it could be about one of the Greys from that show. My mind is spinning. What deadline?

Wait, what was I doing? Right, reading this book. Bummer.
As I scramble out of bed, I dislodge my pillow, revealing the deflated helicopter balloon underneath.
How does someone sleep with a deflated mylar balloon under their pillow? Isn't that all kinds of crinkly? Why didn't he notice the strange crunchy noise when they were fucking? They have a little conversation about the balloon, and then they get something to eat:
Christian and I sit on Kate's Persian rug, eating stir-fry chicken and noodles from white china bowls with chopsticks and sipping chilled white Pinot Grigio.
Try to read that sentence out loud without taking a breath. I hope that's not a real Persian rug, because who does that? "My roommate isn't here, so let's sit on what is possibly the most expensive thing in the apartment and eat with chopsticks." Also, thanks for the heads up, Ana, I would have never known Pinot Grigio was white unless you'd told me, because where I come from Pinot Grigio is bright green.
He's wearing his jeans and his shirt, and that's all.
That sounds... fully dressed.

Christian says the food is good, and Ana actually eats without them arguing about it, and she also says:
"I usually do all the cooking. Kate isn't a great cook."
Poor Kate, she probably never gets to eat, then, if she waits for Ana to make dinner.

They talk about Ana's upbringing a little, namely how her mother's third husband didn't like her, so she had to go back to live in Forks with Ray. Christian observes:
"Sounds like you looked after him,"
Sounds like you read Twilight, Christian.

Christian doesn't like the fact that Ana has taken care of people her whole life. I'm amazed that Ana has actually taken care of anything, because she's so utterly inept at taking care of herself. This woman can't remember to eat for four days. I would assume even houseplants wouldn't be safe with her. Christian tells Ana that he wants to take care of her, and she says that's nice, but he does it in weird ways, and he says it's the only way he knows how. So, that makes it okay that he bought your job, I guess.
"I'm still mad at you for buying SIP."
He smiles. "I know, but you being mad, baby, wouldn't stop me."
He might as well just pat her on the head and tell her that her feelings don't matter. Because they don't.

Take a deep breath. In and out. Because it's just going to get worse.

Christian tells Ana that her boss, "'that fucker,'" better watch out, and suggests that she not tell anyone at SIP that her boyfriend bought the company. Because I'm sure they'll never find out. Little stuff like "who owns the company" never concerns anyone who actually works there. Christian also says there's an embargo on the news of the company changing hands for four weeks... so, does he expect Ana won't be working there in four weeks? Because eventually, it's going to come out that Christian Grey Holdings Incorporated LTD. INC. & Company bought SIP. And you know who'll break that news? Book bloggers.
I scowl. "If I leave and find another job, will you buy that company, too?"
"You're not thinking of leaving, are you?" His expression alters, wary once more.
"Possibly. I'm not sure you've given me a great deal of choice."
"Yes, I will buy that company, too." He is adamant.
You know how you solve this one, Ana? Go get a job at McDonald's. I'd love to see Christian try to buy THAT company. Go work for Disney, or Time Warner. Good luck, Stalky McFuckhead, trying to buy THOSE.

Because Ana doesn't want to fight (yeah, if you fight over little, unimportant things like your boyfriend buying every company you ever work for in an attempt to exert total control over your life, what kind of a relationship do you have?), they decide to have dessert instead:
"Would you like dessert?"
"Now you're talking!" he says, giving me a lascivious grin.
"Not me." Why not me? My inner goddess wakes from her doze and sits upright, all ears. "We have ice cream. Vanilla." I snicker.
Because she's into vanilla relationships and vanilla sex, get it? By the way, we're only on page 74 and I've already lost count of the number of times Chedward and Anabella joke about being hungry, but not for food. It's one thing to use a cliche... it's another to overuse a cliche.

Christian asks Ana where the ice cream is, and she tells him it's in the oven, to which he responds:
"Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, Miss Steele."
Oh yeah, I'm soooo sure it is. Seriously, though, despite Ana telling the reader that Christian has a great sense of humor and he's so witty and funny, I've yet to see evidence that he actually is. Most of the time he's just stomping around, yelling, "I must protect you, helpless Ana!" I think he cracked a couple jokes in the last book. But pardon me if I'm not taking lessons in comedy from a dude whose go-to line is to act like he's confusing an offer of food for an offer of sex.

I will give Christian credit for the pun that comes next, after he exhibits sarcasm himself and Ana calls him out on it:
"Well, Anastasia, my new motto is, 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.'"
It's funny, because he beat the shit out of her with a belt while she cried and screamed, get it?

Christian decides that vanilla ice cream is perfect for the sexy times, so he ties Ana up to the bed and drizzles ice cream on her:
Oh... it's cold. Each nipple peaks and hardens beneath the cool of the vanilla.
No shit, it's cold? Is it? Is ice cream cold? I'm glad Ana shared that detail. I'm also glad she pauses to tell us how hot everything is once the sex scene gets going. Then he drips ice cream onto her pubes and clit, and starts fingering her while he licks it up. I hope there are whole chapters devoted to the yeast infection she gets from someone pushing ice cream up her cooch.
"Hush now," Christian says softly as his magical tongue sets to work lapping up the vanilla, and now I'm keening quietly.
How does one keen quietly? Keening means wailing or screaming. If you're screaming quietly, you're doing it wrong. Or Chedward is doing it wrong. OH SNAP!

Oh yes I did, squirrelfriend.

"Oh... please... Christian."
"I know, baby, I know," he breathes as his tongue works its magic.

They have p-in-v intercourse (when is he going to "claim" her ass? He wanted to do that in the first book. When does the anal happen?) and it's all sticky with ice cream and passion.
I groan as he picks up speed.
"You are mine, Anastasia."
"Yes, yours," I pant.
"I take care of what's mine," he hisses and bites my ear.

How did this get here?

So, basically, Christian fucks Ana into accepting that he's going to buy every company she ever works for, in order to "protect" her, and all it takes is one magical orgasm on command for her to blithely accept this:
"Come on, baby," he growls through gritted teeth and on cue, like the sorcerer's apprentice I am, I let go, and we find our release together.
It's a good thing he tells her to orgasm, otherwise she might not at this point. And still with the "Come on," to get her to orgasm and "come," to get her to go somewhere. The fact that the confusion is so consistent is only more maddening, because it means he's saying the same thing in every single sex scene.
"What I feel for you frightens me," I whisper.
He stills. "Me too, baby," he says quietly.
Me three.

Christian tells Ana that he doesn't think he'll ever leave her, because he can't imagine getting tired of her. How romantic.
"I've never felt the way I felt when you left, Anastasia. I would move heaven and earth to avoid feeling like that again." He sounds so sad, dazed even.
Um. Didn't your mom kill herself in front of you when you were four, and you spent a bunch of days with her dead body? And you've never felt so bad as when your girlfriend dumped you? Okay.

Ana has a nightmare about the girl who confronted her outside of SIP, and I suppose the whole thing is supposed to be moody and cryptic, but it's terribly obvious and very short. Why is it that E.L. James can reserve ten pages every chapter for fucking, but glimpses into Ana's actual subconscious only get five paragraphs? Christian shakes her awake from her nightmare, and she finally thinks, "Gee, maybe I should bring up the weird girl I saw outside of work today and instantly forgot until it was more convenient for the author to address the subject."

Turns out the girl is Leila, the ex-sub who put "Toxic" by Britney Spears on Christian's iPod. This is an important detail that Ana remarks on, because as a reader, I care deeply about who does what with Christian's iPod.
My scalp prickles as adrenaline spikes through my body. What if she means a lot to him? Perhaps he misses her? I know so little about his past... um, relationships. She must have had a contract, and she would have done what he wanted, given him what he needed gladly.
Oh no - when I can't. The thought makes me nauseous.
The thought makes you "nauseated," Ana. What makes you "nauseous" is the fact that a girl who looks like the ghost from The Ring came up to you after an obvious suicide attempt and you're jealous of her. This woman clearly tried to kill herself at some recent point in time, she still had the bandage on her wrist. She was haggard and thin, and obviously not having a great time of things, and you're worried that she's going to steal your boyfriend.

Christian gets on the phone and, in a long, ellipses filled block of dialogue, implores someone named Welch to find Samara Leila. He's obviously stressed out, so Ana offers him tea:
"Do you want some tea?" I ask. Tea, Ray's answer to every crisis and the only thing he does well in the kitchen.
Isn't Ray supposed to be Charlie? Look, I read Twilight, and I guarantee you that Charlie hasn't so much as purchased a single tea bag in the entire time he's been alive. I know some of you have complained about people pointing out so-called Britishisms that aren't really Britishisms, but come on. The obsession with tea in these books? I'm not saying there's no tea in America, or that no one in America has a fondness for the stuff, or that everyone in the UK is always drinking tea all the time, because that would be patently false, but in America we usually associate tea with England. Because of that whole taxation without representation thing that happened a little while ago in the 18th century that turned us all into coffee drinkers. And because years of cultural conditioning starting with that whole "Fuck your tea, we'll throw it in the harbor and drink coffee instead," thing, a manly man's man like Charlie Swan would not be an old hand at making tea in times when consolation is needed, ergo, Ray would not, either. I think Ray and Charlie would both say that beer is the answer to everything.
I put the kettle on the stove and busy myself with teacups and the teapot. My anxiety level has shot to DEFCON 1. Is he going to tell me the problem? Or am I going to have to dig?
What do you think, Ana? Do you think he's going to tell you all about it, since he's so open and forthcoming?

She asks him if he's going to tell her what's going on, and of course he's not:
"Because it shouldn't concern you. I don't want you tangled up in this."
I'm surprised he doesn't just pat her on the head here, too. This fucking guy.

Ana gets him to tell her the truth, with surprisingly little pressure, actually. He admits that Leila is messed up, and that while he was busy stalking Ana in Georgia, Leila got into his apartment and tried to kill herself in front of the housekeeper. So, that was the "situation" that made him leave Georgia.

I know it didn't say it in the text, but fuck it, every recap could benefit from a picture of The Situation.

By the time Chedward got back to Seattle, Leila had taken off, although Mrs. Jones "got her to hospital." PS. Americans don't drop the definite article when we say that. We would say, "got her to the hospital."

Christian tells Ana that Leila is married now, but that she left her husband four months prior to her Christian Grey relapse. And this is where it gets eerily like something that happened to me:
"Let me get this straight. She hasn't been your submissive for three years?"
"About two and a half years."
"And she wanted more."
Okay, it's story time, dear readers. I once hooked up with a guy friend I'd been hanging out with for the summer. It was totally hot. However, what followed was not hot. See, he had an ex-girlfriend who was craaaaaaaaazy. They had been broken up for three years, and he hadn't been with anyone since her, so he broke a long, long streak by hooking up with me. Two days after the hook up, which was never intended to be anything more than just a little fun, the ex came into my place of business, grabbed me by the front of my uniform polo shirt and said, "If you ever sleep with [poor guy] again,  I will fucking kill you. He's mine." It was so utterly bizarre. Reading this part of the book, I actually got creeped out. Like, looking around to see if the freak was lurking around a corner somewhere. So let me tell you, I do not doubt that someone could go that nuts after a breakup that they would stalk the next girlfriend or boyfriend or casual hook up after several years. This is one place where this horrible book is rooted in fact.
I stare at Fifty, magnificently naked from the waist up. I have him; he's mine. That's what I have, and yet she looked like me: same dark hair and pale skin. I frown at the thought. Yes... what do I have that she doesn't?
This is a great excerpt to display how shallow Ana truly is. While a normal person would go, "Wow, that chick is messed up, I bet she wasn't able to hide that level of crazy and that's why they broke up," Ana can't figure out why it's her with Christian and not Leila, because they look the same. To Ana's thinking, two human beings with distinct personalities and quirks and thoughts are completely interchangeable, so long as they look exactly alike. Her self-obsession also keeps her from accepting the truth of the situation, that it has nothing at all to do with her. Christian could have started fucking Taylor, and Leila would still have shown up. It's not an Ana problem, and it's not even a Christian problem, it's a Leila problem.

Christian asks Ana why she didn't mention Leila yesterday, and Ana's excuse was that she just forgot. How do you just forget something that bizarre? Especially when she made reference to it in her internal monologue a couple times after the fact? That's not forgetting. That's the author wanting to have more sex scenes before the plot happens. Speaking of which:
"Forget about her. Come." He holds out his hand.
My inner goddess does three back flips over the gym floor as I grasp his hand.
Ana, you're being stalked by two people now! Let's fuck to celebrate!

Luckily, it's a section break instead of a ten page long sex scene full of "It's so freaking hot," and "jeez!" Ana wakes up beside Christian and tries to touch him, and he's all, "LOL, no," and then asks her if she wants sex or breakfast. Get it, they're HUNGRY, but not for FOOD. For SEX instead. Tee hee.

There's another section break, and Ana tries to fix her horrible, no good, very bad hair while watching Christian get dressed. She asks him how often he works out, and he says he does every week day. He runs, lifts weights, and kickboxes, which leads me to my biggest nit pick of the chapter:
"Yes, I have a personal trainer, an ex-Olympic contender who teaches me. His name is Claude. He's very good. You'd like him."
Kickboxing isn't an Olympic sport! It never has been! Claude is either a fraud, or Christian is talking a big game about his kickboxing trainer because he needs to sound FANCY.

Despite the fact that they allegedly threw the contract out and are having a vanilla relationship, Christian tells Ana she needs a personal trainer:
"But I want you fit, baby, for what I have in mind. I'll need you to keep up."
So, in other words, "We're not doing that whole contract thing, but you still need to follow the rules in it."
I flush as memories of the playroom flood my mind. Yes... the Red Room of Pain is exhausting. Is he going to let me back in there? Do I want to go back in?
Now, in the three times they've actually been in the Red Room, Ana has stood up, shackled to the ceiling, fucked against a bed post, been blindfolded while Christian fucks her, and then the last time, beaten with a belt. I'm not going to deny that these things would be somewhat physically taxing, but I can't think of a single exercise you could do with a personal trainer that would make you more physically capable of the psychological exhaustion involved in heavy BDSM. Ana hasn't been tired from the complicated acrobatics of sex with Christian Grey (because the sex being described just isn't that physically demanding), but from the emotional aspect of submission.
I flush, and the undesirable thought that Leila could probably keep up slithers invidious and unwelcome into my mind.
For real, Ana? Yes, fine. Leila is perfect, way more perfect than you. That's why Christian is still with her, and not with you, right? Get over yourself and your little pity party.

Ana tells Christian she needs to get a haircut and put a check in the bank so she can buy a car, because she's still without wheels. Christian responds by giving her the key to the Audi he bought her as a graduation present.
He's giving me back the car. Double crap. Why didn't I foresee this?
Because you have no short term memory? Because you're just too dumb and trusting? I don't know, Ana, help me out, why didn't you see this coming? Because we all did.

Ana tries to give Christian his check back, that way he's not giving her the car and the money for the car he sold for her. I'm not quite understanding this, because the original plan was that she would keep the Audi and he would reimburse her for her Beetle. However, that doesn't justify Christian's reaction to the suggestion that she would like to return the money. He gets super angry - the word "fury" is used twice - and they argue, ending with:
"End of discussion, Anastasia. Don't push me."
Why? Because you'll hit her? We already know that you won't leave her, because it was just too hard to not be attached to her for five days.

Ana rips up the check.
Christian gazes at me impassively, but I know I've just lit the fuse and should stand well back.
Christian leaves the room, and Ana messes with her hair a little before going to see what he's up to. He's been on the phone, and he's just hanging up when she finds him.
"Deposited in your bank account, Monday. Don't play games with me." He's boiling mad, but I don't care.
"Twenty-four thousand dollars!" I'm almost screaming. "And how do you know my account number?"
My ire takes Christian by surprise.
"I know everything about you, Anastasia," he says quietly.
Ana does not interpret this as the creepy, creepy red flag that it is, and instead argues that her car wasn't worth twenty-four thousand dollars. Christian says a collector bought it, and she can ask Taylor if she doesn't believe him. Because the dude Christian pays would be a totally impartial source.

So, how about him knowing your bank account number? Aren't you concerned with that, Ana?
And I feel it, the pull - the electricity between us - tangible, drawing us together. Suddenly he grabs me and pushes me up against the door, his mouth on mine, claiming me hungrily, one hand on my behind pressing me to his groin and the other in the nape of my hair, tugging my head back.
So, that would be a "no," I take it?
"Why do you defy me?" he mumbles between his heated kisses.
All this line made me think of was Jareth.

I am not ashamed to admit that I had this .gif in a folder named "Cool Labyrinth Stuff" on my desktop.

Christian wants to have sex with her, but oh darn, they're out of condoms. So he'll take her out for breakfast and a haircut, instead.
"Okay," I acquiesce and just like that, our fight is over.
Just like that, she forgets that he's somehow dug up her bank account number and dumped a huge amount of money into it, despite her wishes to the contrary. BECAUSE ROMANCE, DUH!

They go out for breakfast, and Christian gets grumpy because Ana pays the bill. Nothing is sexier than a man who clings to outdated gender stereotypes, let me tell you. He reminds Ana about a black tie benefit thing they're going to at his parents' house. It's a fundraiser for a drug rehab program for parents and their children, called "Coping Together." I did a search to see if this charity exists, and it does. Only, the real life "Coping Together" organization is for parents grieving miscarriage. Since these stupid books are inducing people to buy sex toys and trips to Seattle, I hope this organization gets some of the blow-back in the form of monetary donations.

Ana and Christian explore her neighborhood for the first time, and Christian takes her to a salon a couple blocks from her apartment:
Christian stops outside a large, slick-looking beauty salon and opens the door for me. It's called Esclava.
The door is called Esclava? That is one FANCY door.
The interior is all white and leather. At the stark white reception desk sits a young blonde woman in a crisp white uniform.
Always with the blondes. I bet she flirts evilly with Christian.
"Good morning, Mr. Grey," she says brightly, color rising in her cheeks as she bats her eyelashes at him. It's the Grey effect, but she knows him! How?
Yeah, how does she know him? The nerve of this bitch, being blonde and knowing Ana's boyfriend! But hold up, I thought the Grey Effect caused women to attempt suicide in front of housekeepers?

This evil!blonde is "Greta" (well, that's European if I've ever heard-). All you need to know about how Ana feels about her is right here:
"The usual, sir?" she asks politely. She's wearing very pink lipstick.
It's like Ana cannot meet a woman without critiquing her hair and lipstick color. Ana think it's weird that Christian has a "usual," until she has a stunning lightbulb moment that you guys have probably all figured out already:
Holy fuck! It's Rule Number Six, the damned beauty salon. All the waxing nonsense... shit!
For someone who is supposedly so super intelligent that everyone around her instantly notices how stunningly bright she is, Ana can be super dumb a lot of the time.
I glare at him. He's introducing the Rules by stealth. I've agreed to the personal trainer - now this?
Okay, it's not "stealth." He's not being particularly artful about this. It's open manipulation. He brought Ana to the same salon all the other subs went to because he knows she's insecure and will just do whatever he asks her to once she's started comparing herself to his past conquests.

Ana asks why he brought her to this particular salon, and Christian tells her it's no big, he owns this one and three more. Because he owns everything, I guess. Christian tells her all the things this salon does, and she says she just wants a haircut. Then, there's more anti-blonde, anti-European sentiment:
Greta is all pink lipstick and bustling Germanic efficiency as she checks her computer screen.
I bet she and European pigtails from the last book double up on Christian all. the. time.

But before Ana can get her haircut, enter another evil!blonde:
I peek up at him, and suddenly he blanches - something, or someone, has caught his eye. I turn to see where he's looking, and right at the back of the salon a sleek platinum blonde has appeared, closing a door behind her and speaking to one of the hair stylists.
Do you know who this evil!blonde is yet?
Platinum Blonde is tall, tanned, lovely, and in her late thirties or early forties - it's difficult to tell. She's wearing the same uniform as Greta, but in black. She looks stunning. Her hair shines like a halo, cut in a sharp bob. As she turns, she catches sight of Christian and smiles at him, a dazzling smile of warm recognition.
Seriously, are you getting a sense of build up here?
Christian looks upset about something. He's reasoning with her, and she's acquiescing, holding her hands up and smiling at him. He's smiling at her - clearly they know each other well. Perhaps they've worked together for a long time? Maybe she runs the place; after all, she has a certain look of authority.
Then it hits me like a wrecking ball, and I know, deep down in my gut on a visceral level, I know who she is. It's her. Stunning, older, beautiful.
Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline.
It's Mrs. Robinson.
That is the end of the chapter, and the first effective chapter hook E.L. has managed to execute in the series so far.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

50 Shades Darker Chapter 3 recap, or "All Hail King Jerkface"

Thanks everyone for your nice comments on my depression post. I always feel weird writing about stuff like that, like it's going to seem like I'm fishing for compliments or something, but to have so many people share their stories really reinforced how important it is for people with depression to be open and honest and talk about this stuff.

Before we dive right in to your ass the recap, I've got links! Oh, how I have links!

First of all, some jackass decided he should replace the the bibles in his hotel with copies of 50 Shades. Now, I'm not one of those ultra-religious people who think that every hotel room needs a bible or else some sinning might go down there, but seriously? This guy sounds like a douche canoe. I mean, he had first planned to replace the bibles with Atlas Shrugged. Sounds like someone just has a problem not showing off how irreverent he can be. Oh, you. But seriously, this article makes me furious. Not because he swapped out the bibles, but because the press keeps referring to this as an "erotic" novel with "graphic" sex scenes. How graphic is "down there," really?

Then, from Pastor Douglas Wilson, comes this op-ed piece, 50 Shades of Prey, at HuffPo. Now, I almost didn't link this, because I'm so fucking angry at HuffPo for giving those StalkTheGoodReadsUsersWhoseOpinionsIDon'tAgreeWith nutjobs a platform, but this is a guy who called out Twilight for training women to be in bad relationships, and now he's talking about 50 Shades, so I thought it was worth posting.

Okay, onto the recap. We last left Ana curled up in her bed, hugging a deflated mylar balloon and dreaming of her abusive boyfriend. It is now the next day:
The good thing about being carless is that on the bus on my way to work, I can plug my headphones into my iPad while it's in my purse and listen to all the wonderful tunes Christian has given me.
But Mo-Om, Taylor the bodyguard gets to listen to his iPod while driving!

Ana goes into work, where her boss has the audacity to compliment her:
"Good morning, Ana. You look... radiant." His remark flusters me. How inappropriate.
Why, because he's not a billionaire? I'm not going to lie, I have a real issue with guys who give creepy compliments. But Christian Grey gives them all the time. "I'm in awe of you," is much, much more disturbing than, "You look... radiant." The difference is, Jack is probably old, like in his thirties or forties (remember, in the first book Ana believes thirty to be impossibly old), and he doesn't fly a helicopter. So, he's totally inappropriate.

Jack finishes sexually harassing her and gives her four manuscripts to look over by lunchtime. She's supposed to read the first chapters and give him a report. I bet every "report" is going to compare the book in question to classic literature. But first, she has to email back and forth with Christian, about nothing at all that furthers the plot. In fact, one email is an almost direct rehash of one she sent him in the last chapter. Then we find out she eats a pastrami sandwich at lunch while listening to more of the music Christian put on the iPad, and then it's right back to the emails. In one of his replies, Christian writes:
Your e-mails at SIP are monitored.
Well, her emails at home are probably also monitored, stalker.

Ana is astounded by this news:
 Oh shit. I had no idea. How the hell does he know?
Because that's pretty much par for the course at any job, Ana. Now, I'm not saying that it's right, but lots and lots of companies monitor the content of their employees' email accounts. This shouldn't be news, and if you're going to send email to your boyfriend, why not use your personal email account? How on Earth did Ana get through four years of college and, hell, just being a teenager in America, without learning stuff about the internet and how it works?

At the end of the work day, Jack stops by Ana's desk to invite her out for drinks with him and the rest of the staff. Seems Ana might have been feeling a little full of herself, hmmm? She thought the boss wanted to get into her pants, and he was just inviting her out on the weekly staff outing. They're going to a bar called "Fifty's." Dollars to donuts, Christian owns it. Ana emails Christian the details and tells him:
The rich seam of humor that I could mine from this is endless.
Not really. So please don't. I rolled my eyes hard enough the first time the name of the bar was mentioned, I had to spank myself.

Ana invites Christian to come to drinks with her work colleagues, because she's never had a job before and doesn't realize how fucking awkward that is.
I check myself in the mirror. What a difference a day can make. I have more color in my cheeks, and my eyes are shining. It's the Christian Grey effect.
Huh. I would have thought the Christian Grey effect would involve having color in entirely different cheeks.

 Look, I'm going to be honest here. I googled for a picture of a baboon's ass, but then I saw this cute little fucker. And this book is so awful and depressing in its depiction of women and relationships that I feel like we all need a little break, and rather than a giant, swollen, red monkey ass, we needed to see this. In fact, something so infuriating happens in this chapter, that when it happens, I'm going to tell you to scroll back up to look at this adorable ass picture of this little baby monkey. And when you do, try not to remember that baboon tribes practice infanticide.

Ana thinks about how her clothes are different from the ones the other chicks at SIP wear, so she needs to get her some "floaty skirts" to fit in. Then she heads outside, and someone calls her name:
I turn expectantly, and an ashen young woman approaches me cautiously. She looks like a ghost - so pale and strangely blank.
This woman knows Ana's full name, and just stares at her until Ana says the polite version of "What the fuck do you want and why are you staring at me and also are you that girl from The Ring?" which translates into nice people speak as, "'Can I help you?'"
"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.
The ghost from The Ring is wearing designer clothes that are too big, and she's got a dirty bandage around her wrist. The ghost from The Ring asks Ana:
"What do you have that I don't?"
 Corporeal form and a DVD player, bitch.

Samara wanders off and gets lost in the crowd, and Ana thinks to herself,
What was that about?
Gosh, I wonder, Ana. What was that about? Some strange woman who looks just like you in expensive clothes and a suicide attempt wanders up and is all, "What do you have that I don't?" and you can't connect even one teeny tiny little dot here?
Confused, I cross the street to the bar, trying to assimilate what has just happened, while my subconscious rears her ugly head and hisses at me - She has something to do with Christian.
No. You don't say.

Ana uses her coworkers as a distraction to forget that she's going to die in seven days. She actually does have a conversation with the receptionist who has been the pinpoint focus of her white guilt every time she's mentioned, and then Ana remembers that Kate exists:
Absently, I wonder how Kate is... and Elliot.
I like how in the first chapter Ana couldn't live without Kate and missed her soooooo much, then she gets back together with Christian and it's like, "Oh, yeah... Kate. And that other guy. What's his name?" In literally the same paragraph, her thoughts go straight to Christian:
Oh, and Ethan, Kate's brother, will be back next Tuesday, and he'll be staying in our apartment. I can't imagine Christian is going to be happy about that.
It's Kate's apartment. It doesn't matter how Christian feels about it. It's something he can't control, so nanananabooboo and neenerneenerneener and all that.
When Elizabeth and Courtney leave, Jack joins Claire and me. Where is Christian?
Probably watching you from a corner somewhere.

Claire starts talking to someone else, and we find out that Jack is a close talker:
"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.
I hate people who do that. They always make me really self-conscious about my breath, even if I've just brushed my teeth.

Jack tells Ana that she's a bright girl, makes some chit-chat about where she lives and if she has any weekend plans. He leans on the bar and Ana feels trapped, and then our knight in shining armor shows up at just the right time:
I feel him before I see him. It's as if my whole body is highly attuned to his presence. It relaxes and ignites me at the same time - a weird, internal duality - and I sense that strange pulsing electricity.
That's how connected they are, guys. She can sense his presence. Shit, my eyes are rolling again. Time for another spanking, I guess. But what do you want to bet he was there the whole time, watching, like he was doing in Georgia when she was at the bar with her mom.
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. Softly he kisses my hair.
Ever notice, reader, how Christian only displays affection toward Ana in public when he's trying to impress a point on someone else? Ana finds it flattering, but doesn't it just reinforce that he isn't capable of feeling for her as a person, that he only views her as an object or a contest? Just throwing that out there, I don't mean to destroy the "romance" of Christian Grey.
I feel relieved, safe, and excited with his arm around me.
This is a really sneaky thing that Christian does with all the men Ana comes into contact with. He acts possessive, which in turn tells Ana that there is something to fear from all men - except him. He does it with Jose, he did it with Paul at the hardware store, and now he's doing it with Jack. If you've read the entire series, then you know that Jack really isn't a nice guy, but Christian doesn't know that at this point. What he's doing is setting up a false sense of safety and reliance, so Ana believes she needs his protection from all the men of the world. It's pretty gross.

Ana introduces the two:
"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 rarely actually LOL, but I LOLed heartily at that line. Seriously, I'm pretty sure that Jack isn't thinking of Christian as a "fine specimen of manhood." In fact, I'm pretty convinced that Ana sees Christian like this:

And everyone else sees him like this:

Jack and Christian do a little back and forth about how Ana mentioned an ex-boyfriend, and Jack is her boss, and they have to leave, blah blah blah macho posturing. And Claire gets her ass tossed right off the "possible friends" list:
I glance at Claire, who is, of course staring, openmouthed and with frankly carnal appreciation, at Christian.
Someone fix those fucking commas, I beg of you.

They leave and Ana points out that she knows the whole "meeting my boss" thing was a pissing contest, and they get into the Audi, where Taylor is behind the wheel.
My cheeks turn pink, knowing that Taylor can hear us, grateful that he can't see the scorching, panty-combusting look that Christian is giving me.
I'm sure Taylor is grateful that his panties aren't going to combust, too. That would be awkward. And look, I know that "My cheeks turn pink" was probably swapped for "I flush" by a copy editor who later committed Seppuku with a letter opener, but seriously, Ana, you can't see your cheeks turn pink, and you just skewed your POV.

There is a lot of uninteresting and juvenile hinting about how they're going to have sex later, and they decide to go to Ana's apartment, for a change. Then Christian is all:
"Your boss, Jack Hyde, is he good at his job?"
Ana can't fathom why he would ask, since she's not interested in Jack beyond a professional capacity, and I'm already getting a real, real bad feeling about where this is going...
"That's the point... he wants what's mine. I need to know if he's good at his job." 
Ana tells him that she thinks Jack is pretty good at his job, and then Christian says:
"Well, he'd better leave you alone, or he'll find himself on his ass on the sidewalk."
 I don't know who made this, but it's coming in so damned handy.

Ana tells Christian he's being silly, because Jack hasn't done anything, and Christian says that if he makes one move, he's going to get fired. Then Ana points out that Christian can't fire someone who doesn't work for him, and then...

Let me show you my copy of this page of the novel:

"You don't have that kind of power." Honestly! And before I roll my eyes at him, the realization hits me with the force of a speeding freight truck. "Do you, Christian?"
Christian gives me his enigmatic smile.
"You're buying the company," I whisper in horror.
E.L. James has a crazy idea of how business works, and here's why. Christian is supposedly this uber-successful entrepreneur... who makes business decisions based entirely around controlling his girlfriend? Doesn't this company have a board of directors, or stock holders, or anyone who might say, "Um... what the fuck are you doing?"

So, why did he buy the company?
"Because I can, Anastasia. I need you safe."
Well, that's a good reason, right? Until he realizes that she's apocalyptically furious with him and asks him, "'I mean, what kind of responsible business executive makes decisions based on who he is currently fucking?'" At that point, his tune changes to:
"First, I haven't fucked you for a while - a long while, it feels - and second, I wanted to get into publishing. Of the four companies in Seattle, SIP is the most profitable, but it's on the cusp and it's going to stagnate - it needs to branch out."
Let's examine the absolutely infuriating facts here:

  • Christian wanted Ana to come work for him.
  • She refused.
  • She then got a job at SIP
  • And broke up with Christian.
  • So, Christian bought the company she works for.
  • Now, they're back together AND she's working for Christian.
  • Christian has everything he wants
So, pardon the fuck out of me if I don't believe that he really wanted to get into publishing.

Ana's anger is, predictably, short lived, because Christian makes her laugh, and he smiles at her:
And he smiles, a dazzling, full-toothed, all-American-boy smiles, and I can't help it. I am grinning and laughing, too How could I not be affected by the joy I see in his smile?
If you had a brain, or self-respect. Just those two, off the top of my head.
"Just because I have a stupid damn grin on my face doesn't mean I'm not mad as hell at you," I mutter breathlessly, trying to suppress my high-school-cheerleader giggling. Though I was never cheerleader - the bitter thought crosses my mind.
Seriously, Ana? Are you fucking serious? A man has just used his wealth and power as a weapon and blasted his way into your career against your express wishes, and you're bitter because you were never a cheerleader?!

Go back up and look at the baby monkey picture. I'll wait, and you probably need it.

Of course, they go inside together, and Ana has some inner thoughts about how shitty it is that Christian bought the company, but there isn't anything she can do about it. Because breaking up clearly doesn't stick. Then they start talking about how they're totally going to do it, tee hee, but Christian needs to make sure she eats because clearly, she hasn't been able to feed herself for the twenty-one years before she met this asshole. He tells her she's going to have to tell him everywhere on her body she wants to be touched, and they talk about mapping out areas on his body that she's allowed to touch. Then, it's birth control times:
"Have you been taking your pill?"
No, of course she hasn't. If you remember, Christian, she was only taking those pills because she was dating you, and then you broke up. And in the first book she makes it really clear that it's either you or a house full of cats, and none of them are going to get her pregnant, unless this turns into a real weird fucking book.
"You need to eat and so do I," he murmurs, burning eyes gazing down at me. "Besides... anticipation is the key to seduction, and right now, I'm really into delayed gratification."
Says the guy who impulsively bought his girlfriend's job.

He tells her she's too skinny, because a chapter can't go by without that happening YOU GUYS ANA IS SKINNY DO YOU GET IT YET SHE IS SUPERMODEL SKINNY YOU GUYS DANGEROUSLY SKINNY SHE IS SO SKINNY DO YOU GET IT THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT and he tells her that she'll be less mad over that whole, "I bought your job" thing when she's had something to eat. Because Ana is a cranky toddler. But Ana is so incredibly skinny that she has no food in the house, so they have to go grocery shopping.
"Does Mrs. Jones do all the shopping?"
"I think Taylor helps her. I'm not sure."
I bet Taylor and Mrs. Jones are boning. I feel a fanfic coming on.

While they shop, Ana asks Christian how long Taylor and Mrs. Jones have worked for him:
"Taylor, four years, I think. Mrs. Jones, about the same. Why didn't you have any food in the apartment?"
Because she has an eating disorder.

The wine in the supermarket isn't FANCY enough to satisfying Christian Grey, classist dick, and then Ana sees some women looking at him and mentally remarks on it "despondently" and then they leave the grocery store trip where literally nothing happened to move the plot along.

They go back to the apartment, and Christian asks if he can help with dinner, but then says he can't cook. So I don't know how he thinks he's going to help. There is a lot of "Oh, it's so sexy that he's carrying groceries and chopping vegetables like a real person and not the God of Lust that he is," stuff, and this:
I wash my hands and hunt for the wok, the oil, and the other ingredients I need, repeatedly brushing against him - my hip, my arm, my back, my hands. Small, seemingly innocent touches.
So, Ana is a geisha now, I guess, with all these little touches. She keeps goading Christian into having sex with her while they cook dinner, and I can't help but get the feeling that she's doing it to avoid eating. Either the whole "Ana/Mia" thing is a coincidence that is messing with my head, or this chick really does have an eating disorder. They don't wind up actually eating the stir fry they make, because Christian is so overcome with his desire for her that he must have her at once!
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.
How can he unbutton her shirt if it's already open? Theres is some more foreplay, and then:
"Kiss me," I whisper
"You know where."
Oh, he's taking no prisoners. Embarrassed, I quickly point at the apex of my thighs, and he grins wickedly.
This is the reason that every time someone says, "the sex scenes are so hot," I want to be able to just pull out a random samurai sword and chop the damn book in half. How is it hot that the heroine can't say what she wants in bed? Why is this an ideal we're striving toward? So. Much. Bullshit.

Here's more of this sex scene bullshit:
He stands and gazes down at me, and his lips glisten with the evidence of my arousal.
It's so hot...
Well, thanks for telling us. Seriously, I don't mind reading, "He did this and it was hot," once or twice in a book, but it's thoroughly annoying how often Ana has to inform the reader that what is happening is supposed to be sexy. It happens constantly throughout all the books. And it's not needed. The first sentence in that excerpt gets across that it's sexual and exciting. It's totally superflous to add, "It's so hot."
I peek up at him through my lashes,
Try that. Try it right now. Try to look up at something and still see your eyelashes.

They have sex, and all the usual culprits are there, like "he really starts to move," and him telling her to "come on" to get her to have an orgasm on command, and then the chapter ends and I realize that I have referenced Japanese culture three times in this recap and I can't figure out why, because it's not a particular interest of mine, but I did watch Memoirs of A Geisha the other day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Depression is a mean fucker.

I hate depression. It makes me into a different person, a person I don't like. A person who snaps at her kids, a person who takes everything too personally. A person who googles "Jennifer Armintrout sucks" just to see if anyone agrees with her.

I get stuck in these deep grooves with depression, where I think I'm worthless, and I consider quitting writing. I feel absolutely no drive or passion to write, I open up old projects I've abandoned and tell myself, "You're so lazy and worthless. You could at least finish this and self-publish it. You'll have to, because no one will buy it, since you're a shitty writer. You should just quit. Today. Contact everyone involved in your career and tell them to throw out your contracts and just quit. Go get a real job and stop being such a loser. Look at what you're doing to your family. You're never going to come up with any good ideas again, and if you do, you won't follow through on them. You should just give up today."

How can I let myself talk to me that way? That's insane. If I heard someone saying that out loud to another writer, I would punch that person's teeth in. I would be outraged beyond words.

But I suspect I'm not alone. I bet any number of writers struggling with depression have said those exact things to themselves. I bet I'm not the only person who struggles with this, even at the best of times. And while my career is certainly not enjoying it's "best time," things aren't the worst they've ever been, either. So, what do I have to be defeated about? Nothing. It's just a trick of my diseased brain, telling me mean stuff to knock me down a peg, just for kicks.

I don't know why my brain chemistry hates me. I don't know why it tries to destroy my confidence and mess with me, but I know that tomorrow I won't feel this way. If that's enough to get me through today, maybe tomorrow I'll have confidence again, maybe something will smack me in the face and say, "Suck it up. When you google 'Jennifer Armintrout sucks' the first page of results is mostly shit you've said about yourself."

That's the carrot dangling in front of me right now. I'm going to just survive today. But if you suffer from depression, please feel free to share your stories in the comments, if that helps you.

Apologies times

I got snappy with some of you this morning, in comments on this blog, twitter DMs, and an email. And I want to apologize. I'm astounded by the enthusiasm with which you guys have passed this blog around the internet, and my silly little recaps have become much, much bigger than I thought they would. I'm overwhelmed, and I reacted badly to readers because of that. There's no excuse for an author who routinely rants about bad author behavior, to participate in bad author behavior. So, I'm really sorry to the parties involved, you know who you are.

Let me show you the best fish in the world.

I love animals. I have lots of pets. I have two cats, two dogs, and some fucking amazing fish.

You may recall that in my book Blood Ties Book One: The Turning, I used the goldfish's infamous three second memory as a metaphor for... something. I don't remember. That was like six years ago. I can't even remember my husband's birthday half the time. But the point is, goldfish actually have memories. Mine, for example, remember that my cousin D-Rock is bad news, because she reaches into their tank to terrify them. They are also loving and awesome.

I get more attached to fish than to probably any other animal. I always have. I have a long history of awesome fish, but these are my current awesome fish:

I like to think they are saying, "Jen's back! And she has a camera!"

That picture gives you a sense of their awesome scale. That is a thirty gallon tank. They are enormous.

They have some stuff in their tank, which I change up every now and then so they don't get bored. The pirate ship and the octopus are in there all the time, but the chicken is sometimes swapped out for a glow-in-the-dark zombie. I like to think I'm broadening their experience by including non-aquatic themed tank decorations.

The two fish on the bottom came from my great-grandmother's house. She kept them in what I believe was a light fixture she mistook for a fish bowl. They were about half the size they are now, and great-grandma was afraid her cats would eat them, so she deviously promised them to my children when I was not around to stop that from going down. I was pretty mad, but in hindsight, it was one of the best things to happen to me, because they are awesome. The one on the top belonged to D-Rock's niece, who gave me the fish when she left to live in Seattle. That fish was even smaller than the other two, due to bowl living. I was pretty convinced he'd be eaten by the other two, but thankfully that didn't happen. Probably because I introduced the Plecostomus, the tank nemesis.

You can see the Plecostomus behind the pirate ship. He is also enormous. We got him at the same time as a little whip-tail, who didn't survive the first week in the tank. No one ate him, I think it was overcrowding, though on paper the arrangement seemed like it should have worked.

You may have noticed that the goldfish have missing scales. This isn't due to any kind of sickness. It's from the nightly tank wars, in which the goldfish fuck with the Plecostomus until he attacks them in a rage. They will pick up rocks and swim over to where he's hanging out and spit them at him, until he can't take it anymore.

See that fish? That fish is a bully. But he's so cute!

This is what the Plecostomus looks like in rage-quit mode. My kids call him Bowser (because they think the fish all have Mario names), but I'm the mom and I say that his name is "Cthulu's Mom." 

Those are my fish. I videotaped the fish wars, so I expect I'll be posting those to YouTube soon. You better believe I will provide a link.

Monday, July 23, 2012

50 Shades Darker Chapter 2 recap or "Kinky fuckery"

Before we get into the recap proper, I have to address something that came up in the comments, re: formatting of the book. In my last recap, there was a section where all the dialogue blended together, like this:
"I am saying something," person one said. "I am saying something, as well," person two said. "Well, I am not listening to you," person one replied.
Some of you have commented that since this book started as fanfic, it's bound to be rife with errors. I feel like that's kind of insulting to fanfic. I've read a lot of it in my time, and let me tell you, this is some of the worst fanfic I've ever read. It's right up there with the one where the Incredible Hulk rapes Princess Jasmine to death. Let's not tar all fic with the same brush.

But that said, formatting errors like that aren't present in the book. At least, the Vintage Books paperback. What happens is that every so often, when I use the block quote function on Blogger, it goes all stupid and lumps everything in together. When I proofread the post, it looks okay. But when I hit publish, sometimes, things go terribly wrong.

I understand blogger in the same way that I understand facebook: I can sort of convince people that I know what I'm doing, but I actually have no idea what's going on.

So, just like with Jose's missing accent mark, the book is properly formatted, I just can't get blogger to accept that format. There is no justice in blogger, and there is no mercy.

When we last left Miss Steele, she was about to drop dead from hunger, because she's just so skinny. Waaaaay too skinny. So skinny, in fact, that Christian says this upon entering a restaurant:
"This place will have to do," Christian grumbles. "We don't have much time."
Because the timed chip he put in Ana's brain is set to explode if she doesn't eat on a certain schedule.

Here is the description of the restaurant that Christian is "settling" for:
The restaurant looks fine to me. Wooden chairs, linen tablecloths, and walls the same color as Christian's playroom - deep bloodred - with randomly placed small gilt mirrors, white candles, and vases of white roses. Ella Fitzgerald croons softly in the background about this thing called love. It's very romantic.
One of things I find most annoying about Christian is how he makes a huge deal about how rich he is. Now, I'm not talking about the buying lavish gifts thing. I'm talking about how nothing, ever, is up to his standards. The complimentary wine at a graduation reception or an art show. A perfectly nice restaurant. Other people's cars. He turns up his nose at everything, and Ana, because she's Ana and totally naive despite having allegedly attended four years of college with people from all different walks of life, always seems to believe that it's because he's rich. It's not. It's because he wants people to know that he's rich, and he wants them to be impressed and intimidated by his very high standards and exquisite tastes. Or maybe he really believes that because he's rich, he deserves to have the very best of everything all the time. Either way, this guy is still a massive dick.
"We don't have long," Christian says to the waiter as we sit. "So we'll each have sirloin steak cooked medium, bĂ©arnaise sauce if you have it, fries and green vegetables, whatever the chef has; and bring me the wine list." 
Ana doesn't get to order her own food. But more on that in a second, I've got a nit that needs fierce picking. He makes a big deal about how the restaurant will "have to do," because it's clearly not FANCY enough for his FANCY tastes, and then he orders... sirloin and fries? Meat, starch, veg... what a FANCY meal for a FANCY guy. Seriously? If he wanted Ana to be impressed, he should have ordered the filet, and when they said, "I'm sorry, sir, we're just not FANCY enough to carry that cut," he should have flipped the table and shouted, "THIS IS BULLSHIT! WE ARE LEAVING!"

Just don't do that at an Applebees, because the tables in those booths are bolted to the walls. Or so I hear.

Ana asks him what the fucking deal is, ordering for her, and he tells her she's acting childish. Because ordering someone what you want them to eat, rather than what they want to eat, is not a childish act of control. But Christian isn't referring to that:
"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?" Christian presses his lips together in a thin line and scowls as the waiter returns with the wine list.
I blush - I hadn't thought of that. Poor Jose - I certainly don't want to encourage him. Suddenly I'm mortified. Christian has a point; it was a thoughtless thing to do.
I hate that Christian has a point, by the way, but he's right. I just find it interesting that in the midst of all his rightness, Ana is still going to end up eating what Christian ordered for her. I have this crazy feeling that Christian is less concerned for Jose and more concerned with changing the subject. To capitulate to her demands for control over what she puts in her body, he tells her to choose the wine. Probably so he can point out how not fancy enough it is. It doesn't matter, though, because whatever they order, it will have spit in it. Christian treats the waiter like total shit.
I frown at Fifty. What's eating him? Oh, myself probably, and somewhere in the depths of my psyche, my inner goddess rises sleepily, stretches, and smiles. She's been asleep for a while.
Too bad she's not in an irreversible coma. What is with calling Chedward "Fifty" all of a sudden? Did he get shot nine times?

That's not funny, Jen.

They argue a little bit about how grumpy Chedward is, but he has a very good reason to be grumpy:
"Ana, the last time we spoke, you left me. I'm a little nervous. I've told you I want you back, and you've said... nothing."
Okay, it's been five days. First of all, were they even dating long enough to use the phrase "you left me"? They didn't live together. They weren't even really boyfriend/girlfriend. They were more emotionally-stunted billionaire/sexual servant. And the way he's phrased it sounds like he's expecting that since he asked her to take him back, she's just going to. Although we know that she's going to take him back (because we know that this entire series is just a landslide into frustrating abuse-apology), he doesn't know this. And he's just... expecting it. After being broken up for five days. What has changed so much, in five days?

Ana says that she's missed him, and that it's been "difficult" without him:
This last week has been the worst in my life, the pain almost indescribable. Nothing has come close.
I understand that what the author is trying to do here is show us how strong the love between Christian and Ana is, that it so completely destroys them to be apart. But this just comes off as melodramatic. Really, nothing has ever hurt as much as breaking up with your first love? I admit, first heartbreak suuuuuuucks. And the ones that follow? Not fun either. But if that's the worst pain you've ever felt, to the point that you've never felt anything like it? Ana is living a pretty charmed life.

Ana tells him that nothing has changed, she can't be the person he wants her to be. He argues that she's exactly the person he wants her to be, and then he says this:
"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, becomes accusatory.
This skeeves me off so much. You took her into your Red Room, knowing that she was afraid of pain, and beat her with a belt. Not a flogger, not a whip, not a strap, not a paddle, a fucking belt with a buckle on it, and you beat the shit out of her. Whether or not she used the safe word doesn't matter, you should never have taken her into that room that night in the first place, because she specifically said she was going to go beyond her limits in a negative way, just to see how much it could hurt.
"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," I whisper, ashamed, and I shrug apologetically.
This is exactly why she should not have been in that room. And you know, Christian, it's okay for you to shut down the session, too. You kind of have a responsibility, as a dom, to be in control of the situation and make sound judgments, because guess what? People do sometimes get caught up and forget to use the safeword. If you didn't want to beat the shit out of her with a belt, her not using the safeword didn't force your hand.

Christian tells Ana he doesn't know how he's ever going to trust her again, and then he's a dick to the waiter again, and Ana apologizes to him for not using the safeword. Christian uses the opportunity to make her feel even more guilty, saying:
"I'm anything but fine. I feel like the sun has set and not risen for five days, Ana. I'm in perpetual night here."
The original title of this book was "Twilight 6: Night."
"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."
Well, that solves the mystery of the thing she said in her sleep. I like how he thinks he can hold up statements made when one is unconscious as evidence of some kind of betrayal. "You said in your sleep that you'd stay! It doesn't matter that I wouldn't tell you what you said, I expect you to stick to it!"

The food comes, and so does the unavoidable conversation about Ana's eating habits. Unsurprisingly, she doesn't want to eat, and Christian wants her to.
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!"
So... it would be a regular old beating, then? Is that what you're saying, Christian? Let it be known, the hero of this not abuse-promoting book is threatening physical violence in an non-BDSM context against the heroine. Swoon ladies, swoon.
We eat our supper in silence. The music's changed. A soft-voice woman sings in the background, her words echoing my thoughts.
This is the stuff I live for in these books. They eat their supper in silence... listening to music. Well, that's not silence, is it? You just didn't speak, is all.

Ana decides to try to have a normal conversation, so they talk about the music a little bit. But normal isn't as fascinating as talking about how much Ana eats.
I have eaten half the food on my plate. I cannot eat anymore. How can I negotiate this?
Just say you're not hungry anymore? I mean, seriously, Ana, you could just say, "Christian, I'm not hungry anymore. I'm going to need a doggie bag." And if he says anything else about it? Kick him in the dick and scream "No! NO NO NO!" just like they tell you to do in self defense for women.
He stares at me impassively, not answering, then glances at his watch.
Mercifully, Christian is as bored with the "What did Ana eat today" conversation as we all are, and they're going to leave. Ana asks if they're going to take Charlie Tango, which sounds like a great idea after they've been drinking. Luckily, Christian has arranged for Taylor to drive them back to Seattle:
"[...] Taylor will pick us up. Besides, this way I have you in the car all to myself for a few hours, at least. What can we do but talk?"
Remember how he was talking about their communication problem? They've been doing nothing but talk about their relationship this entire evening. When they haven't been talking about their relationship, they've been talking about what Ana is eating. And when they haven't been talking about that, they've been talking about how they need to talk about their relationship. Their communication skills appear to be so incredibly bad that they can't even recognize that they're talking about their relationship while they're talking about their relationship. They're stuck in some kind of endless loop of talking about their relationship while simultaneously thinking they need to talk about their relationship. It's like Portal, where you put the orange portal directly about the blue portal, and you jump in and just keep falling faster and faster and faster until you'd seriously concerned that you might not be able to get yourself out this time and you can't remember when you last saved.
Now you're thinking with poor communication skills!

Ana points out that Christian is "brusque" with people, even employees he likes, like Taylor. Christian says he just likes to get to the point quickly, and Ana tells him that he hasn't gotten to the point all night. Oh, snap, Ana, you read my mind. Christian tells her that he has a proposition for her:
He has a proposition? What now? A couple of scenarios run through my mind: kidnapping, working for him.
Maybe he wants you to work for him, and the job will be kidnapping people. Seriously, those are the first two options that jump to mind? Not, "Maybe he wants to revise the sex contract," or "maybe he wants to put the Audi in my name," something like that. I mean, I understand the one about working for him, since he's dangled that carrot in the past. But kidnapping? How does she arrive at kidnapping now, and not waaaaaay back in the first book, when he was buying abduction supplies literally right from her? Ana is a weird person.

They go to the car, and Ana's obsession with kidnapping continues unfettered:
Christian opens my door. Climbing in, I sink into the plush leather. He heads to the driver's side; Taylor steps out of the car and they talk briefly. This isn't their usual protocol.
I love that she's cautious now. Not in the first book, where she went back to his fortress of solitude after knowing him for like, a week, and in that week she'd seen him buy Dexter-level murder supplies. Not when he locked her in a room with him against her will, or when he stalked her all the way to her mother's home in Georgia. She let those things pass without a second thought, but she gets suspicious when he changes his car-getting-into protocol, like she's some foreign dignitary in a hostile country.

When Christian does get into the car, he wants to talk about their relationship, but Ana is concerned about Taylor overhearing. Christian reassures her:
"Happy now? He's listening to his iPod. Puccini. forget he's here. I do."
Not only is Christian super charming in the way he treats his employees, he's also got his driver listening to earbud headphones while driving. Yeah, that's illegal in Washington state. It's illegal in a lot of states, actually, and could endanger Taylor's commercial driver's license. Also, I wonder if Christian picked the music Taylor is listening to. I bet he did.
"Did you deliberately ask him to do that?"
No, Ana, he accidentally asked him to wear earphones so he wouldn't overhear your conversation. Isn't that a funny coincidence?

Christian gets right down to business with the proposition:
"Let me ask you something first. Do you want a regular vanilla relationship with no kinky fuckery at all?"
Kinky. Fuckery. Forever, that phrase will be burned into my brain. Keeping in mind that the "kinky fuckery" was the reason Ana ran for the hills in the first place, this is her response:
"I like your kinky fuckery," I whisper.

Girl. Girl, girl, girl. Girl. Sit down and shut your obviously confused mouth for a quick second. You like his "kinky fuckery"? You spent all of the first book talking about how much you hated that he was into BDSM, how much you hated doing it, and then you ultimately broke up with him because you thought he was fucked in the head for liking it. You seriously were so disgusted by the "kinky fuckery" that you broke up with him. And now you like it?

She goes on to explain what she doesn't like about the "kinky fuckery," and basically, it's all of it. She doesn't like pain, she doesn't like not being able to touch him, she doesn't like punishments or anything in the Red Room. So basically, she fucking loves pizza, except for the cheese and the sauce and the crust and the toppings.

Oh, and the eating part, lest we forget.

Ana asks Christian if he's trying to redefine the hard limits:
"Not as such. I'm just trying to understand you, get a clearer picture of what you do and don't like."
That's called dating, Christian. Most people do this shit as they go along, instead of trying to force their partner into a mold to make them adequate in one conversation that will settle it forever and for all time, which is what the contract tried to do in the first place.
"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."
If you remember the contract from the first book, you'll recall how incredibly vague those rules are, leaving literally any of Ana's actions open to "punishment." It's totally arbitrary, because Christian can and has fit any of her actions and reactions, even involuntary physical reactions, under some clause or another so that he's allowed to "punish" her.

He asks her if she minds being spanked with just his hand, and when she says she's okay with that, and she actually liked it when he used the ben wa balls and spanked her, this is how he interprets her answer:
"So you can deal with some pain."
That's not what she said at all! She said she didn't mind being spanked with ben wa balls in her cooch. I wonder how long it's going to take Chedward to use this against her? "But you said you could take some pain! By refusing to let me beat you with a patio umbrella, you're betraying me!"
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 communicate with me, we could move on and do some of the things that I like to do."
In other words, maybe if we get back together and get more serious, you'll be invested enough in this unhealthy relationship that I can manipulate you into doing things you don't want to do. Have your panties magically melted off your body yet, ladies?
He wants the light, but can I ask him to do this for me? And don't I like the dark? Some dark, sometimes. Memories of the Thomas Tallis night drift invitingly through my mind.
If you haven't read the first book, the Thomas Tallis night was when Christian tied Ana up, blindfolded her, put headphones on her and played classical music while he teased her with like, a feather and some light flogging before he fucked her. It was about as dark as a game of Candy Land.

 In 50 Shades of Candy Land, Lord Licorice does unspeakable things 
to that little purple dude in the Red Rope Room Of Pain.

Christian agrees to ditch the rules and punishments, but Ana is worried that such a relationship won't fulfill his needs. He argues that he needs her more than he needs the kinky fuckery, and he doesn't like to see her in pain. At least, not emotional pain. And not if it's not enabling his control.
"But I'm a selfish man. I've wanted you since you fell into my office. You are exquisite, honest, warm, strong, witty, beguilingly innocent; the list in endless. I'm in awe of you. I want you, and the thought of anyone else having you is like a knife twisting in my dark soul."
HA HA HA HA WHAT? Why is he talking like a seventeen-year-old goth kid writing breakup poetry before he's ever even gone on a date? "a knife twisting in my dark soul?" I'm pretty sure that's from a Sisters of Mercy song. And I love the "endless" list of adjectives to describe Ana, that tops out at six items, half of which aren't true at all. Ana isn't honest, she lies to her friends constantly about her relationship with Christian. She isn't warm, not even to her mom or dad. And she sure as hell isn't strong, if she's planning on getting back together with this creepo rather than go through some post-break up depression.

After listening to Christian objectify her for a few paragraphs, this is Ana's response:
If that isn't a declaration of love, I don't know what is.
Clearly, you don't know what a declaration of love is. The guy basically just said he'd settle for fulfilling your needs because he views you as a toy he doesn't want to share. But positively dazzled by his declaration of "love," she tells him that she didn't try very hard at their relationship the first time, and that she thinks the pain of being without him would be worse than any physical pain he could inflict on her. She gets into his lap and says:
"I love you, Christian Grey. And you're prepared to do all this for me. I'm the one who is undeserving, and I'm just sorry that I can't do all those things for you. Maybe with time... I don't know... but yes, I accept your proposition. Where do I sign?"
Do all what for her? Not beat her because she doesn't like it? What a fucking prince. Oh, hey, is this my domestic violence handout that Kelsey St. James sent me? I think it might be. "You feel bad about yourself when you are around him." Huh. You mean like, thinking you're undeserving and feeling guilty that he's sacrificing his sexual fetish for you? Gee.

Christian hints that the reason he doesn't like to be touched is because his mom's pimp molested him or abused him or something. I'm confused about this whole pimp thing, myself. Isn't a crack whore (and yes, he refers to his mother as "the crack whore" in this scene) someone who fucks people for crack? Do pimps really need their girls tricking for drugs? I thought the whole point of pimping was to make money. Have rappers been lying to me all along? He also tells Ana that he was alone with his dead mom for four days after she committed suicide. 

Somehow, the story of Chedward's horrific childhood of abuse and trauma lulls Ana to sleep, and she doesn't wake up until they're in Seattle, where Christian comments that he could "watch you sleep forever, Ana." So, yeah, I guess we're still on schedule for that murder. Chedward doesn't want to sleep with Ana, because she has to work early in the morning. I feel like he's getting that wrong, that's what you say when you're leaving the girl's house after you've fucked her. Also, he wants her to have to beg him first. Probably something like, "Mister, if you let me go, I won't - I won't press charges I promise. See, my mom is a real important woman... I guess you already know that..." depending on the situation.

This is kind of how I see the whole thing going down.

He does have a present for her, though, and she's supposed to open it when she's inside. But first, she has to tell him information he doesn't need to know, in order to complicate her life further:
"My boss wants me to go for a drink with him tomorrow."
Christian's face hardens. "Does he, now?" His voice is laced with latent menace.
I don't think "latent" is a word you can use to describe Christian Grey's menace. He suggests that he could pick her up after drinks, and she thinks this is a fine idea and not a bid for control in yet another aspect of her life. There is some kissing, it is dramatic and moany, and he says "laters, baby," and I take another shot.

Inside, Ana opens the present. It's her laptop and BlackBerry. I suppose those are her rewards for going out with him again. A commenter suggested that there is a keystroke logger on the laptop, and I laughed, and then realized that yup, there probably is. There is also an iPad, and a note from Christian saying that the music on it says what he feels.
I have a Christian Grey mix tape in the guise of a high-end iPad. I shake my head in disapproval because of the expense, but deep down I love it. Jack has one at the office, so I know how they work.
Wait, Christian made a mix tape for your boss? He's so thorough.

The wallpaper image on the iPad is a picture of the model glider she gave Christian as a breakup present. There's also a picture of the two of them at Ana's graduation.
Christian looks so handsome and I can't help my face-splitting grin - Yes, and he's mine!
Stand back ladies! He's all hers!

Ana does a walkthrough of all the apps on the iPad. No, I'm not kidding, she tells us all about the apps, from one of the British Library's historical collection, a food app, etc. There is an entire page, all about the damn iPad and the apps,  before she gets to the music. Ana mentions a few songs by name, the most unsurprising of which is "Possession." I can only assume she means Sarah McLachlan's "Possession." Have you ever heard it? I suggest you listen to it right now. Try to ignore the fact that she looks like Buffy's mom.

Funny story about this song. It's not meant to be romantic. It was written by McLachlan modeled on letters she was receiving from "fans," some of which had threatening sexual content. Even just a cursory listen tells you that it is an entirely appropriate song for Chedward and Anabella's relationship, but not the way Ana (and I suspect, E.L. James) thinks it is.

Ana listens to some more of the songs ("Try," by Nelly Furtado, "The Scientist," by Coldplay) and thinks about what they mean.
This iPad, these songs, these apps - he cares. He really cares.
That would make a great Apple commercial, right before Valentine's Day or Mother's Day or something. "Show mom you care, with the gift of apps."

As Ana listens to the songs and compares the meanings against her relationship, I become more acutely aware that this was a fanfic. If you are unfamiliar with fanfic, then let me tell you, the device of having a character apply lyrics and meanings of popular songs to the (relation)ship in the fic is so common that it has its own name: Songfic.

Ana being Ana, she's ready to just dismiss the whole iPad thing, thinking that she's probably reading too much into this. See, if they just accepted that they want each other, there would be no reason to continue with the book, so Ana needs to doubt Christian every step of the way. This gives the illusion of conflict.

They email each other about the iPad, and during the exchange, we learn that Christian also put "Every Breath You Take," by The Police in the "I love you/I want to make a dress out of your skin" playlist. You have got to be fucking kidding me. He also tells her that spanking can be a part of "vanilla" relationships, "Usually consensually and in a sexual context... but I am more than happy to make an exception." So, that's the second time in this chapter alone that he's threatened to hit her in anger. Of course, Ana responds to all of this with hearts and flowers and romance, and she even pulls out the deflated mylar balloon he gave her and hugs it in bed. Because Ana is fourteen.
Jose Gonzalez starts to sing a soothing melody with a hypnotic guitar riff, and I drift slowly into sleep, marveling how the world has righted itself in one evening and wondering idly if I should make a playlist for Christian.
I don't know, Ana. How many times can you put "Good-bye, Earl" on repeat?