Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Inner Goddess journal sneak peek

One of my tweeps, who will remain anonymous so I don't accidentally impact her livelihood, managed to get her hands on a copy of E.L. James's soulless cash grab writing journal, and took pictures to share with all of you:

I assume the key is a metaphor for unlocking the secrets of blatantly ripping off another author's work and making crazy mad bank on it.

But what does it look like inside?

I imagine this is what people will be saying when someone shows them this styled up and branded blank book and says, "It cost $9.99."

When it was first announced, we were horrified to learn that Inner Goddess: A Journal was going to feature writing "advice" from E.L. James herself.

Isn't that just the most precious advice from a fanfic writer? Shake off the bullshit and you find the core of the sentiment: "I didn't write it for you, I wrote it for myself and I don't care if you like it!" Spend any time at all perusing the reviews at FanFiction.net and you'll find this same statement over and over from immature authors responding to even the mildest forms of criticism. I can only assume further pages of Inner Goddess share wisdom like, "I had to write it for school, I don't care what you think!" and "Don't like, don't read!"

One must assume "So long, suckers," was considered tacky.

Heads up, you could buy nine notebooks at the Dollar Store for the amount you would pay for this one. Alternately, for four more dollars you could buy a Moleskine, and those fuckers last forever. Also, no one has written a bunch of twee shit about reaching for your dreams inside of it. 

So, a fool and his money, I guess is what I'm getting at here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Two Things That Happened That Involved My Husband.

Thing The First: My grandparents brought over a box of those pre-made Rice Krispies treats for the kids. You know, I remember a time when my grandparent bought ME those pre-made Rice Krispies treats, but whatever. I bitterly digress.

Anyway. I was trying to get the box open. If there is one thing I am not good with, it's packaging. Even simple, non-window bearing envelopes give me troubles. And this box was glued shut. So, I asked my husband for help, and he just walked away. Sensing that I would perhaps exercise poor judgement in this situation, he returned to find me using one of those rounded-blade, metal icing spatulas to jimmy the box open. Picture Steve Martin in Roxanne using the credit card to open Daryl Hannah's front door, and but with a fat lady and a box of treats. Obviously, my husband had to stop this, because he didn't want to drive me to the ER. He muscled me out of the way, manfully tore open the box, and lifted the lid so that I could gaze upon the bounty within.

It was like looking into the Arc of The Covenant, but your face doesn't melt off and there aren't any Nazis standing around. Oh, and the Arc of the The Covenant is full of Rice Krispies treats.

I'm about to reach out and take one. My fingers are nearly inside the box. And that asshole slams the lid down and puts the entire stash where I can't reach it. Not on the highest shelf in the cupboard, but on top of the very cupboard itself.

I have seen the face of true evil, my dear, dear readers. And his name is Joe.

I stood there, silently mouthing my screams of "Why! Why! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?" so that my anguish would not awaken our children and disturb them or alert them to the eating of Rice Krispies treats.

And Joe said, "Why would I open the box and show it to you, like a treasure chest, then put it up on the highest spot, where you can't reach it? For this. For this moment."

Thing The Second: As I explained the Ana-Steele-is-Mary-Bennet slam in my recent 50 Shades Freed recap:
Jenny: "Trust me, you don't get it because you've never read Pride and Prejudice, but that is a sick burn."
Joe: "Oooh, yeah. Girl burn."
And yes, "girl burn" was said in admiration.

Fifty Shades Freed chapter 14 or "My god. My god, there is actually something CORRECT in this book."

Before we get started, some links!

Sean sent this article about how the Khaleesi might be Ana in the 50 Shades movie. Oh jeez.

Second, check out this video Katharine Coldiron shared with us, in which Ron Charles discusses why E.L. James was named, quite rightly, publishing person of the year.

Then last night, when I was done watching videos of people popping ingrown hairs and cleaning their ear wax out and all that other weird shit I watch on youtube, I watched this video of Stephen King talking about 50 Shades of Grey. This link will start the video at 48:20, which is where he addresses 50 Shades, but if you've got an hour to kill and you're into writing, it's really worth watching the whole Q & A, because he's fucking brilliant and super laid back.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Roadhouse talks about stuff we don't understand.

There are fads and shit we don't understand. We sit in the haunted gazebo and talk about all the fads and trends we don't understand.

The Boss chapter thirteen is up!

Chapter thirteen of The Boss is up! You can read it here.

And, if the gods be merciful, Roadhouse will be up tonight.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch s01e08 "I Robot, You Jane"

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone drink her coffee before it's cool and end up with a mouth like the tattered red velvet curtain of a haunted theatre. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow's magic is utterly useless (this one won't be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn't as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they're watching along with me, and that's awesome, but I've seen the entire series already and I'll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So... you know, take that under consideration, if you're a person who can't enjoy something if you know future details about it.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dear 50 Shades fan: BDSM doesn't need or want your defense.

WARNING: This is going to get real. Real real. So I'm putting it behind a jump. If you don't want to hear graphic details about my sex life, this isn't the post for you. And needless to say, adults only.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

50 Shades Freed chapter 13, or "Ana is the only gay in the village."

Let me say thank you, dear readers, for your patience with my spotty updating lately. And thank you for being understanding about the fact that today is 4/20 and I observed it heartily, watching alternating episodes of Little Britain and The Aquabats Super Show and that's why this isn't posting until 9:15pm EST.

So, I really hate this fucking book.
We land smoothly at Sardy Field at 12:25 p.m. (MST).
Damn. I can never catch a break.
"Good landing." Christian grins and shakes Stephan's hand as we get ready to file out of the jet.
"It's all about the density altitude, sir." Stephan smiles back. "Beighley here is good at math."
I wish Beighley would have been good at science, instead, and then all of these characters would be dead now.

There is a silver lining, however, in that I can totally imagine Stephan as Stefon, dropping double entendres and maybe not-so-subtly wiping the corner of his mouth when he said the math thing.

"He's excellent at long division, Seth."

They get off the plane and into a minivan. Which surprises me, because it's not a gold-plated minivan, or a minivan studded with diamonds and full of BDSM gear or something. It's just a regular minivan, and Christian makes a joke about making out in the back of it.
I giggle. Who is this man, and what has he done with Mr. Unbelievably Angry of the last couple of days?
I'm no psychologist, but that's not going to stop me from diagnosing Christian Grey with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
For some unfathomable reason I feel shy with him today. Why? Last night? Being with company? I can't put my finger on it.
It's because you're used to being completely isolated with him, and now there are people around, so you don't know how to behave or what your role is supposed to be, and you're afraid you're going to be punished if you don't do everything exactly right. And gosh, I don't know where you got that idea from, when Chedward has been such a supportive and understanding partner so far.

Hey, have you ever overheard someone criticizing a piece of art by saying, "My kid could draw that?"
The trees are green, but a whisper of the coming fall is evident here and there in the yellowing tips of the leaves. The sky is a clear crystal blue, though there are darkening clouds to the west. All around us in the distance loom the Rockies, the highest peak directly ahead. They're lush and green, and the highest are capped with snow and look like a child's drawing of the mountains.
My kid could draw that.

I'm a bit confused at the description of Aspen mountain. Because as mountains go in the United States, it's not that big. It's probably not even in the top 100 tallest mountains we have. And it's certainly not the tallest of the Rocky Mountains. That's Mt. Elbert. And I'm not sure there's snow on Aspen mountain in the summer. Anyone from Aspen want to confirm or deny the presence of snow in August?

But the statement that it looks like a child's drawing is just so classically Ana. She cannot be impressed with anything. Ever.
We're in the winter playground of the rich and famous. And I own a house here. I can barely believe it. And from deep within my psyche, the familiar unease that's always present when I try to wrap my head around Christian's wealth looms and taunts me, making me feel guilty. What have I done to deserve this lifestyle? I've done nothing, nothing except fall in love.
There's nothing I like more than a little Dutch Reform Protestantism in my poverty shaming porn. Let's talk some more about worldly wealth and how if you're not "deserving" of it, you should be ashamed to have it or aspire to it. This does not sound classist at all.

Ethan asks Ana if she's ever been to Aspen, and it turns out Kate and Ethan came there all the time as kids to go skiing.
"I'm hoping my husband will teach me how to ski." I glance up at my man.
I struggle to hold back my vomit.
"Don't bet on it," Christian mutters.
"I won't be that bad!"
"You might break your neck." His grin gone.
Oh. I don't want to argue and sour his good mood, so I change the subject.
"Husband, I would like to do this activity that, while carrying a high amount of risk at advanced levels, is safe enough that a child can do it as a beginner. That's okay, right?" "NO! Now get back into your plastic bubble, and don't even think about standing and walking anywhere ever again. You might get a blister and my fragile psyche couldn't bear even the slightest injury to your person."

Yeah, that's totally sane, right?

On the car ride, Ana notices something not right about Kate's mood:
[...] Kate is quiet, and I wonder if she's brooding about Jack Hyde or something else. Then I remember. Aspen... Christian's house here was redesigned by Gia Matteo and rebuilt by Elliot. I wonder if that's what's preoccupying Kate.
This paragraph really shows us how selfish and self-centered Ana is. She's making the assumption that Kate is as consumed by Christian Grey drama as Ana is. I can understand the thought that she might be concerned about Jack Hyde, since Elliot is affected and they were just talking about it on the plane. But seriously? Why would Kate be worried about Gia Matteo? Ana's taking it for granted that Kate is as threatened by this woman as Ana is, and that Kate is as insecure about the fidelity of her relationship as Ana is. The fact that Kate has just been treated with open rudeness and hostility by Christian doesn't cross Ana's mind; since she thinks Chedward is the most amazing person to ever live and because she's content to let him treat her like an underling, Kate will automatically share the same opinion. At this point, I can't tell if it's a coping method born from denial, or if Ana is just a horrible human being.

Ana asks Christian why he bought a place in Aspen:
"Mom and dad used to bring us here when we were kids. I learned to ski here, and I like the place. [...]"
"Ana, I just really want to drive the point home here. I don't think you're capable at age twenty-two to safely engage in an activity that I, the almighty Chedward, mastered as a child."

He also tells Ana that if she doesn't like the house, they'll just sell it and get another one. Remember how his brother, you know, built the place? And he's in the car with them while they're having this conversation? Just pointing that out.

They arrive at the house, there's a description of it, but all you really need to know is that it's modern and sleek like every other place Christian Grey has ever lived in/been to. I wonder if he sends someone ahead to the dentist's office to report back on whether or not it's minimalist enough for his tastes.

A woman comes out to greet them:
She's tiny and her raven-colored hair is dusted with gray.
So, she's old, and therefore she may live without constant death glares and conflict over imagined slights from her new employer. Christian tells Ana that the housekeeper is Mrs. Bentley, and I double over laughing because he's a billionaire who drives an Audi and has a housekeeper named Bentley.

We learn that Mrs. Bentley and her husband live at the house in Aspen full time to take care of it. Why not, and this is a fucking crazy idea, just close up the house, get an alarm, pay a security company to check it out every now and then, and have Mr. and Mrs. Bentley open the house when you want to use it? I need to be in charge of managing Christian's finances, because it's a fucking vacation house. It's not Downton Abbey.

They go inside, and of course we have to hear how humble Ana is:
How much did this place cost? And I have contributed nothing to it. Briefly I'm transported back to the first time Christian took me to Escala. I was overwhelmed then. You got used to it, my subconscious hisses at me.
I am getting so tired of this whole, "Oh, I'm so uncomfortable with wealth" bullshit from Ana. We already know that Kate's family is rich, and that Ana has benefited from that wealth. She lived rent free all through college because of it, and moved (briefly) into another free apartment because of it. She had no problem taking from Kate, even going so far as to borrow Kate's Mercedes and drive it super fast on the highway for fun. But Christian's wealth is somehow sacred. Why? I get a moment or two of, "Holy shit, this guy is super rich," when they get on the private jet or whatever. But at this point she's seen his house, he's bought her two cars, they've gone out on his sailboat, they spent weeks in France on a yacht, he bought her a house... why is she still bowled over by how rich he is?

My theory is that by having her subconscious snark at her about money, the author is trying to convince us that Ana is a "good person," since "good people" should be uncomfortable about money they didn't earn. Instead, it comes off like Ana has short-term memory loss: "What?! My husband is RICH?! How do I even deal with this?!"

Speaking of Ana's subconscious, I'm officially imagining these two as her subconscious and inner goddess:
Dame Sally's books are also infinitely better than this one.

Christian gives her a tour of the place, everything is marble this and sleek, modern that, and when he shows her the den and she sees the billiards table she gapes and blushes because OMG THEY ARE SO NAUGHTY AND SEXUALLY ADVENTUROUS THEY HAVE FUCKED ON A POOL TABLE BEFORE.

The master bedroom has a view of the mountain:
"That's Ajax Mountain... or Aspen Mountain, if you like."
"Because I own it and can name it whatever I choose! If you don't like it, I'll knock it down and put up a rainforest instead! We'll level the whole town and fuck on any pool table we like! THE WORLD IS OURS!" Yes, I know locals call it Ajax, but I don't care. It's funnier to imagine our Master of The Universe renaming mountains as he pleases.

Ana is like, obsessed with Gia, because she brings her up again. I'm really starting to believe the theories about Ana's latent homosexuality you guys have come up with, because she cannot let Gia go in this chapter. She asks what she did to the house, and she asks if Christian knows that Elliot slept with her, which leads to another homophobic conversation. You know, since we haven't had one of those in a while:
"Elliot's fucked most of Seattle, Ana."
I gasp.
"Mainly women, I understand," Christian jokes. I think he's amused by my expression.
Christian nods. "It's none of my business." He holds his palms up.
"I don't think Kate knows."
"I'm not sure he broadcasts that information. Kate seems to be holding her own."
I'm shocked. Sweet, unassuming, blond, blue-eyed Elliot? I stare in disbelief.
I can't even with this nonsense. First of all, why does Ana assume that Kate must not know about Elliot's sexual past or bisexuality? The thing about relationships that aren't with Christian Grey is, people talk to each other in them. Second, is Ana implying that if a woman finds out her guy is bisexual or has had sexual experiences with men in the past, that's an automatic break up? Third... what the hell does being blond and sweet have to do with anything? I didn't realize hair color had anything to do with sexuality.
Christian tilts his head to one side, scrutinizing me. "This can't just be about Gia's or Elliot's promiscuity."
"I know. I'm sorry. After all that's happened this week, it's just..." I shrug, feeling tearful all of a sudden.
She's tearful after talking about Gia, this woman she's obsessed with, and Elliot being bisexual? Yup, you guys called it. Ana has some major confusion over her own sexuality.
"I know. I'm sorry, too. Let's relax and enjoy ourselves, okay? You can stay here and read, watch god-awful TV, [...]"
Read a god-awful book, start drinking just to cope...

Christian advises Ana to forget what he said about Elliot, because apparently someone's sexuality can totally ruin someone else's good time. Ana thinks Elliot's sexual past is why he teases Christian:
"He really has no idea about my past. I told you, my family assumed I was gay. Celibate, but gay."
I giggle and begin to relax in his arms. "I thought you were celibate. How wrong I was." I wrap my arms around him, marveling at the ridiculousness of Christian's being gay.
Yeah, how fucking ridiculous! A gorgeous guy who is attractive to women being GAY.

I'm sorry, what was going on? I blacked out when all my blood rushed to my lady parts, and it was hard to get a breath what with my mouth automatically opening. And how did I get down here on my knees in the first place? What was my name again? Where am I?

Ana asks Christian why he has a place in Aspen, and he says it was because he was waiting for her and didn't know it yet. So... he was waiting for the woman of his dreams, someone he could whisk away to Aspen, where she's not allowed to do anything outside of the house because it might be too dangerous? Why not just stay at home and save the gas money?
"Christian, you are the state lottery, the cure for cancer, and the three wishes from Aladdin's lamp all rolled into one."
For my first wish, kill them. Kill them both.

After some more talk about how Christian is such a catch but also a damaged little boy or whatever, there's a section break, and it's raining outside.
We are sitting around the dark wood table in the kitchen, having consumed an Italian feast of a mixed antipasto, prepared by Mrs. Bentley, and a bottle or two of Frascati. I'm replete and little buzzed from the alcohol.
Antipasto isn't a feast. It's a starter. Now, you may be thinking that two bottles of wine between six people isn't enough to get a routine alcoholic like Ana buzzed, but they're at a higher altitude now. See also, Jenny after ONE DRINK at the Harlequin sales conference in Colorado Springs.
"There goes our hike," Elliot mutters, sounding vaguely relieved. Kate scowls at him. Something is definitely up with them. They have been relaxed with all of us but not with each other.
You mean, not as relaxed as, say, a woman who feels "shy" around her own husband, Ana?

It takes about a page for them to decide that the guys are going to go fishing (I know I have some city slickers who read this blog, so let me assure you, fishing in the rain is not as stupid as it sounds), the girls are going to go shopping, and Elliot is going to go buy a watch battery.

Ana, Kate, and Mia go into a boutique where they get Ana to try on a really skimpy dress.
I glance down at The Dress in my hand. Dress is perhaps an overstatement. It's backless and very short, but Mia has declared it a winner, perfect for dancing the night away. Apparently, I need shoes, too, and a large chunky necklace, which we'll source next. Rolling my eyes, I reflect once more on how lucky I am to have Caroline Acton, my own personal shopper.
She's actually Christian's personal shopper, remember, and bought all of Ana's clothes based on Christian's tastes. But because Bella doesn't like shopping (and this scene is clearly the stand-in for the prom dress shopping scene in Twilight), Ana can't, either. While Mia and Kate try on clothes, Ana looks out the window and sees:
Through the boutique window I'm distracted by the sight of Elliot. He has appeared on the other side of the leafy main street, climbing out of a large Audi. He dives into a store as if to duck out of the rain. Looks like a jewelry store... maybe he's looking fo that watch battery. He emerges a few minutes later and not alone - with a woman.
Fuck! He's talking to Gia! What the hell is she doing here?
As I watch, they hug briefly and she holds her head back, laughing animatedly at something he says. He kisses her cheek and then runs to the waiting car. She turns and heads down the street, and I gape after her. What was that about?
Mia and Kate don't see this exchange, and when they come out, Ana doesn't tell them about it. Which is a wise move on her part, I think. They go to pay for their stuff, and Ana gets all weird about the sales assistant:
The young sales assistant - who has more gloss coating her lips than I have ever seen in one place - smiles at me. "That'll be eight hundred and fifty dollars."
What? For this scrap of material! I blink at her and meekly hand over my black Amex.
"Mrs. Grey," Ms. Lip Gloss purrs.
Why is Ana so snarky about this woman?! There is absolutely no reason this exchange had to be included in the book at all! We don't care about her purchasing the dress. There is more important (relatively speaking) shit going on right now! The only reason E.L. James included the sales girl with the lip gloss was to give her heroine yet another chance to openly disparage another female! That's all! It's there ONLY FOR THE MISOGYNY.

They go and buy thousand dollar shoes and an eighty dollar necklace, and Kate and Ana discuss how uncomfortable Ana is with spending money, because that hasn't been talked about enough in this chapter. Ana asks Kate how things are with Elliot, but Kate doesn't want to talk about it, and Ana starts mentally referring to him as Elliot Manwhore Grey, because there isn't enough misogyny in this book, either.

Back at the house, Kate makes strawberry daiquiris and they sit around in front of the fire. IN AUGUST. I checked in with my husband and read him this passage:
Once back at the house, Kate decides we deserve cocktails after our shopping extravaganza and whips up some strawberry daiquiris for us. We curl up on the sitting room couches in front of the blazing log fire.
Now, keep in mind that Mr. Jen is a bit... fiery, before you read his response: "Everything about that sounds awful. The imagery of strawberry daiquiris in front of a fire makes me uncomfortable. Imagine trying to suck down a goddamned sweet as shit daiquiri in front of a goddamned bonfire in your goddamned living room in the middle of the goddamned summer. Boy is that classy! And who goes to fucking Aspen in August? Does he have the shitty slot for the time share?"

I pretty much have nothing to add to that.
"Elliot has just been a little distant lately," Kate murmurs, gazing into the flames. Kate and I finally have a moment to ourselves as Mia puts away her purchases.
"And I think I'm in trouble for getting you in trouble."
"You heard about that?"
"Yes. Christian called Elliot; Elliot called me."
EXCUSE ME? Let's examine the reality of what Ana calls "Cocktailgate." The actual reality, not the one the author wants us to accept as fact.

  1. Ana decides to go out and have drinks with Kate.
  2. Christian gets mad at Kate because Ana decided to go out.
  3. Christian calls Elliot and confronts him.
  4. Because Elliot is dating, and therefore owns, Kate.
  5. Elliot gets mad at Kate on his brother's behalf.
  6. Because Elliot is dating, and therefore owns, Kate.
Now that we've got that all taken care of, what does Ana feel is the real problem with Kate and Elliot's relationship?
I resolve not to mention Gia, though I might mention it to the manwhore himself. How dare he mess with my friend's affections like this?
No, Ana. Elliot isn't messing with Kate's affections, Christian is. He's trying to drive a wedge between Kate and his brother because he doesn't like Kate. And it would be a great one-two punch to Ana's friendship with Kate. "You can't see her anymore because of how things fell apart with my brother." Then Jose and Kate would both be out of the picture. He's systematically cutting her off from everyone she knows.

Ana goes out to the garage get more wood for the fire, where she runs into Elliot. He suggests she try out the dirt bikes, and she says no because, of course, Christian wouldn't like her to do something dangerous:
Memories of Ethan bravely endeavoring to teach me how to ride last summer flash through my mind. Unconsciously, I rub my arm where I badly bruised it in a fall.
Oh, you mean when you were Bella Swan and Jacob taught you how to ride dirt bikes? But notice how Ana is a far superior wife compared to Bella; even though Bella knew Edward wouldn't want her riding dirt bikes (because Edward Cullen was also a controlling ass in the beginning of that series), she did it anyway. How DARE she.
"Christian has, um... issues about my safety. I shouldn't."
"You always do what he says?" Elliot has a wicked sparkle in his baby-blue eyes, and I see a glimmer of the bad boy... the bad boy Kate has fallen in love with. The bad boy from Detroit.
That last part is so silly. Elliot was a child when they moved away from Detroit. It's not like they were hanging out in street gangs or something. The most "bad boy" thing Elliot probably did in Detroit is color on the walls.

Christian and Ethan get back from fishing:
"You're wet," I murmur.
"It was raining. [...]"

Christian wonders why everyone is in the garage, because at this point, Kate has come in, too.
"Ana came to fetch some wood." Elliot arches an eyebrow. Somehow he manages to make that sentence sound smutty. "I tried to tempt her to take a ride." He is a master of double entendre.
So, he's not only making innuendos about his brother's wife in front of his brother, but he's doing it in front of his own girlfriend, who is also Ana's best friend. Elliot is just as much a catch as his brother is, I guess.
"Listen, I"m all for standing around discussion what Ana did next, but shall we go back inside?" Kate snaps. She stoops down, snatches up two logs, and turns on her heel, stomping toward the door. Oh shit. Kate is mad - but I know it's not at me.
At least one character in this shit show can hang their anger on the right peg. JeSUS.

Just in case you were looking for resolution on the whole dirt bike thing:
You can ride a motorcycle?" he asks, his voice laced with disbelief. 
 "Not very well. Ethan taught me."
His eyes frost immediately. "you made the right decision," he says, his voice much cooler.
I look forward to book four of this series, in which Christian learns that Ana had a male math teacher in seventh grade, then has the the guy killed and Ana's memory of numbers erased so that she has never learned anything from any man other than Christian.
"[...] You're wet... Let me run you a bath."
That's not really going to take care of the "wet" problem now, is it?

Ana runs a bath, but she and Christian have sex while it's filling up. It's off-screen sex, and we come back from a section break to find:
"Shit, the water!" I struggle to sit up, all postorgasmic and dazed.
Christian doesn't release me.
"Christian, the bath!" I gaze down at him from my prone position across his chest.
He laughs. "Relax - it's a wet room."
Yeah, relax, Ana. Listen to Christian "I care sooooooo fucking much about Africa" Grey, running a ton of fresh water all over the place while all over the world children drink contaminated water and get horrible diseases.
We sit at opposite ends of the bath, which is very full - so full that whenever we move, water laps over the side and splashes to the floor.
But whatever.

I wouldn't be so annoyed by the water wasting thing unless he hadn't made it such a sanctimonious point about how much he cares about developing countries and their food and water and making things sustainable for the environment blah blah blah. Is it too much to ask for just one thing about this series to be consistent? If he had just said, "There's good money in pretending about this environmentalism bullshit, so that's why I do it," then I could understand the water wasting and the giant, petroleum guzzling yacht trips.

Ana tells Christian that she saw Gia in town, and Christian says he thinks she has a place in Aspen, and he's not worried that Elliot is cheating on Kate:
"Ana, they're just friends. I think Elliot is pretty stuck on Kate." He pauses, then adds more quietly, "In fact, I know he's pretty stuck on her." And he gives me his I-have-no-idea-why look.
"Kate is gorgeous." I bristle, championing my friend.
He snorts. "Still glad it was you who fell into my office."
Just in case you were worried that Ana saying something nice about Kate might make Christian fall head over heels in love with her, rest easy. The author reassures us once again that Edward Cullen is fully, truly in love with E.L. James and not some blonde hussy. Erm, I meant... oh, never mind.

It's time to go out and party. Let's see how Ana looks:
My hair is full and straight, my eyes ringed with kohl, my lips scarlet red. I look... hot. I'm all legs, especially in the high-heeled Manolos and my indecently short dress. I need Christian to approve, though I have a horrible feeling he won't like so much of my flesh exposed.
Because she's a fucking prisoner in her own marriage, she picks up her BlackBerry and emails the warden. The warden who, by the way, is in the same house, but god forbid a chapter go by without a page long email exchange between the two of them.
As I read his e-mail, the bedroom door opens, and Christian freezes on the threshold. His mouth pops open and his eyes widen.
Holy crap... this could go either way.
"Well," I whisper.
"Ana, you look... Wow."
"You like it?"
"Yes, I guess so."
Oh Chedward, but you do know how to turn a girl's head.

He stands behind her and makes her look in the mirror while he hikes her dress up and fingers her, talking all the while about how short her skirt is:
"This is mine," he murmurs in my ear. Closing his eyes, he moves his finger slowly in and out of me. "I don't want anyone else to see this."
This is another one of those disappointing lines that could have been hot, if we didn't know that by "this" Chedward doesn't mean her vagina in the context of their D/s relationship, but literally every single facet of her life in the context of their fucked up, controlling marriage.

But listen, everybody. Remember when we kept hearing from various anonymous commenters that in the third book, Christian actually gets better and is totally swoon worthy? This is the chapter where it happens:
"You approve?" I whisper.
"No, but I'm not going to stop you from wearing it. You look stunning, Anastasia."
Here, you might need this.

After a section break (and after I recovered from my shock at Christian not demanding Ana don a full body burlap suit complete with hood), everyone on the Aspen trip is waiting for dessert in the restaurant.
Christian seems at ease. He's been talking animatedly with Ethan. They obviously bonded over the fly-fishing. They're talking about psychology, mainly. Ironically, Christian sounds the more knowledgeable.
Of course he does. Ethan is only going for what, his masters? Of course Christian "know it all" Grey knows more about psychology than Ethan. Ana chalks this up to his numerous therapists. Is that how it works? You just have enough interactions with someone and you become an expert at their profession? Congratulate me, everyone, I have just become a medical doctor AND a bartender.

Ana thinks Kate and Elliot seem like they're not having a great time:
Have they had a fight? What's eating him? Is it that woman?
Wherein the blogger contemplates the appropriateness and maturity of a rimming joke.

HA! Rimming.

Ana is still real, real hung up on Gia:
I glance at the entrance, half expecting to see Gia calmly saunter her well-groomed ass across the restaurant to us.
God, Ana, why are you so interested in how Gia grooms her ass?

You know, it occurs to me that "well-groomed" is used as an insult quite a bit in these books. That's a really bizarre thing to look down on someone for, isn't it? "Oooh, I hate Marjorie, she's always so clean looking and nice smelling! The nerve of her, I hear she brushes her teeth twice a day and puts on clean socks. The cow."

Then Elliot proposes to Kate with the corniest, most fake-sounding proposal in the history of shitty writing:
"My beautiful Kate, I love you. Your grace, your beauty, and your fiery spirit have no equal, and you have captured my heart. Spend your life with me. Marry me."
And naturally, Ana's reaction is:
Holy shit!
Thus ends yet another chapter. But now I'm over halfway done! HUZZAH AND HURRAH ALL AROUND!

Roadhouse season 2 is on like Donkey Kong.

I meant to post this last night, but YouTube was still processing the video at like 1:30 AM and I had to call it quits and get some sleep. But it worked its magic in the night, so here it is! Roadhouse, season 2, episode 1: "Gone Too Soon" in which we talk about shows that were cancelled before they had a chance to gain a following or explore their story arcs fully.

Oh, who are we kidding, D-Rock just wanted to talk some more about Firefly.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Boss, chapter twelve, is up!

If you're following my free serial, The Boss, chapter twelve has been posted here.

That's all I've got. Monday, Bronwyn Green and I will be co-blogging a celebration of our 10th Friendiversary. There should be a 50 Shades Freed recap tomorrow, and season 2 of Roadhouse starts tonight.

That is all.

COVER REVEAL AND GIVE AWAY: This is Forever, S.A. Price

If you downloaded my short story Sex, Lies, and Inventions, you may have noticed the dedication to Stella Price. Stella is an entire romance industry unto herself who runs the insanely fun Authors After Dark conference (I just confirmed I'll be at the 2014 event in Charlotte, NC and I wish it were already here!), designs covers (including the one being revealed today), and writes scorching hot stories with her sister, Audra, under the name S.A. Price. Stella and Audra have a new book out, and I was so pleased to be included in their cover reveal and give away for This is Forever, a New Adult novel in their Thirteen Shades of Red series. So, I'm going to let them take it from here, and if you know other readers who enjoy New Adult, pass on the news!

Maybe you have seen this little graphic about?

Did it get you curious? Winter is the very sexy bassist for the band 13 Shades of Red, and his book, THIS IS FOREVER will be releasing December 2013. Wanna see the cover?

Now isn’t that just sexy? From now till December if you check out some of your favorite blogs that are rocking the mini graphic on the side column, we will be giving some teasers, excerpts and interviews about the book, on the 10
th of the month. 
Believe me; it really is going to be a Long Hard Winter. *wink*
And now… for a sexy sneak peek at THIS IS FOREVER…
(sneak peek and give away announcement after the jump!)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Trigger warning: I'm going to talk about the bombing. There will be no pictures, if that makes a difference for you.

Today, I got up and went running.

It wasn't the smartest thing to do. I haven't been running in weeks, I haven't been in tiptop shape, and I really overdid it.

But I'm totally grateful.

Last night, after promising myself that I wouldn't go looking for graphic images of the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, I went looking for graphic images of the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. I always do this, whenever there's a national tragedy. I'm not a ghoul (well, I am a ghoul, but my gleeful celebration of the macabre doesn't extend beyond gory fiction); I just always find myself imagining in the worst things possible. Then I seek out photos to prove to myself that whatever I've imagined is far worse than the reality.

This has never been a successful tactic. Often times, the things I am imagining have a dramatic, Hollywood tone to them. For example, in the aftermath of 9/11, I sought out pictures of the jumpers. Because that was the most horrifying aspect, to me, that fabled rain of bodies the media kept talking about. I went looking for pictures, expecting to see fear and panic on the faces of the people plummeting to their doom. What I saw were grainy photos of tumbling bodies, and some horrific images of pools of blood and torn clothing on the ground. The fact that the reality looked so unreal, that it didn't fit my Hollywood perception of what a disaster should be like, made it even more difficult to cope.

Yesterday, I vowed I wouldn't let that happen again, and yet again I couldn't keep my promise to myself. Those of you who struggle with mental illnesses like depression and obsessive thoughts will understand what I mean when I say I had no choice in the matter; the longer I avoided the news sources, the more graphic and morbid my thoughts became. And even though I knew that looking would not make me feel any better, I did. I found pictures of people covered in blood and dust, bodies laying on the ground, first responders checking pulses. There was blood, too, so much of it that it didn't seem real.

And I saw a photo of a young man in a long-sleeved t-shirt, being pushed in a wheelchair by three first responders. And the flesh of his calf was gone. It was just gone. The bone was still there, sticking out surreally from the ragged end of his knee. But the injury wasn't the most shocking thing about that photo. It was his face. He wasn't screaming. He didn't look shocked or horrified or even in much pain. He looked like he was grieving. As though the moment that photo was taken, he was just realizing how his life, his body, had been irrevocably changed. That only minutes before, he was standing, or walking, that he had the ability to stand and walk. That only minutes before, he had legs.

I don't know if he was a runner. It's hard to tell, from his clothing. Maybe he was a spectator, cheering on a friend. Maybe he was thinking, "Gosh, [friend/relative/partner] is so crazy, I can't believe anyone would do this to himself," in the gentle way we non-marathoners think about our marathoning friends. Maybe he had dreams of qualifying one day, himself.

My husband tried to comfort me by reminding me about prosthetics and physical therapy. All I could think about was the time table involved in that. It isn't like this guy is going to go home tomorrow with a new plastic leg and life will be normal. It's going to take weeks of surgeries and rehabilitation to walk again. Not to mention the life-long mental devastation of being the victim of an act of terror and forever being branded "that guy with his legs blown off in that photo."

So, when I got up today, I decided I would run. Not because I could change anything that happened, or because I thought I was doing something supportive or helpful or anything like that. It wasn't a prayer or "sending energy," it was my own selfish expression of how grateful I am to have legs. And, again selfishly, I hoped that if I could appreciate the fact that I can still run, I would forget that picture, and that man's gray, mournful face. That I could actually outrun what I had seen.

I don't know if that man died. Traumatic amputation is one of those things very Hollywoodized in our minds as a survivable injury. But often, it's not. That man could be dead now. He could be alive.  I don't know. But that picture, and the expression on his face, are going to be in my memory forever. I can only imagine how affected the people on the scene were, the kind of images they will try to outrun. For the rest of us, maybe rather than seeking out more about the tragedy, more speculation, more rumor, more graphic images, maybe we should protect ourselves. Be good to ourselves. And never stop appreciating how fragile our lives are, and how quickly everything can change.

"Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides." - Carl Sagan

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Recap schedule update

Hey everybody! My ongoing medical bullshit has sidelined me again, and I've been partially bed-bound for four days. I try to not too talk a ton about my super fascinating personal problems, but in case I haven't mentioned it before (I feel like I mention it constantly), I have Fibromyalgia, a fun syndrom marked by chronic, widespread pain, debilitating fatigue, and roughly 50% of everyone you meet offering you advice on homeopathic remedies that worked for their aunts. It also affects how your brain functions, so basically for the past four days I've been sick and stupid, which is an awesome combination that doesn't make for getting much work done, but I am tearing my facebook games UP. As such, the recap is delayed until I can get out of the grips of this flare up that has knocked me down.

However, in the interest of not just saying, "I'm sick, shit isn't getting done," for the forty-billionth time this year, let me offer you a selection of what I feel is my finest blogging work, that you may not have seen before:

So, tl;dr, the recap will, like a beautiful allergy sneeze softly illuminated by the setting sun, happen when it happens, and thanks for your patience.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Let me fix that for you, Mr. Howey.

Hugh Howey, author of the phenomenally popular book Wool, made a blog post today (were y'all aware that it's not April 3rd today, but is, in fact, April 12?) that is making the rounds on twitter. And not in a positive way.

The post is titled: The Bitch from WorldCon.

Now, I'm not a big fan of men using the word bitch. I feel that coming from a man, it's never going to be anything other than a misogynist slur used to denigrate and devalue a woman. Yes, even you, gay men. Stop doing that. So, right off the bat, I thought, "You know, he's made a misstep here." But then the post went on. And on. And on. And I got more and more angry. I sat there thinking, "Oh, so you're FINE with "crazy" people, huh? We're all so RELIEVED that you like us. Oh, you can tolerate people with austism? Let me help you pin this medal to your chest." By the time I got to the part where he's openly mocking the woman's appearance by comparing her unfavorably to Mayim Bialik (really, you gonna crack on Blossom in front of God and everybody?!), I was ready to hit the comments and rip him a new one.

And then I thought, you know... there's no point. There are already tons of people commenting about how great it is that he's refreshingly un-PC (can we just take "PC" as a term out to the woodshed and pull an Old Yeller? Because it's clearly spreading disease at this point). They can't be reasoned with, and they're the only voices that Howey is going to hear.

So I decided instead to use his blog post as a teaching tool for other author/bloggers. Since so many of you are writers or aspiring writers, and I know a bunch of you blog, we can talk about how to avoid his missteps.

For starters, he could have used his WorldCon story as a way to explain what is/isn't appropriate behavior when approaching authors at cons. I don't think anyone would disagree that what the woman in his story did was rude. It was. You don't walk up to someone and say, "Hey, you're self-published? That's a totally invalid choice. Let me, a stranger, tell you how to run your career." It's super rude. As a self-pubbed author who has done extraordinarily well in his career, Howey has a platform he could use to give good PR to self-published authors everywhere. While self-publishing is gaining ground, there are still hold-outs who feel it's unprofessional and kind of a joke. Rather than proving them right with a blog post about how that "bitch" at Worldcon can "suck it," he could have made a post calling out that kind of behavior and how wrong it is for people to disrespect self-pubbed authors. Not because some far-off day a self-pubbed author might win an award and tell all those rude haters to suck it, but because making assumptions about a stranger's success or lack thereof is super duper shitty.

Second, he could have just told the story without referring to the woman as a bitch, insinuating that she's ugly, and comparing her to a woman on tv he finds unattractive. If this woman at the con had been conventionally beautiful, if she had been a sexy cosplayer, would he have not found her behavior so offensive? What if she had been a he? Furthermore, why the need to include that his wife thinks it would have been okay for him to "slap the bitch?" Leaving any of this out wouldn't have hurt his point in any way: that it's shitty for strangers to make assumptions and criticize your life when they don't even know who you are. In fact, I think a lot of people would have valued his point a lot more if it hadn't been obscured by his vitriolic, gender-specific hatred.

Third, dude, why the bizarre pre-apologies to "crazy" people and people with autism? Especially if in the next sentence he was just going to go on and stereotype them by talking about bad skin, comic books, and D&D? What did that have to do with anything in the story? Nothing. And I know that his characterization of the mentally ill and non-neurotypical turned off at least one potential reader today.

Look, I understand the desire to get the big movie scene comeuppance. I have revenge fantasies about at least 108% of people in writing business. "Just wait until x happens, I'll show her!" But I recognize that these fantasies are fruitless and destructive, and they're not helping me get anywhere.

Case in point: I was at a con last year. At cons, my fashion sense falls somewhere between "shut in" and "mall goth." I was leaning toward the latter at the first icebreaker of the week. Standing in line behind me and my friends was an author and an editor from a New York publisher. They looked smart. They were dressed professionally. Because we were in line a while, I introduced myself (because that's what I'm there for, right?), mentioned that I was an author, too, and they asked me about my books, where I had been published before, etc. The moment our conversation ended and I turned around, I caught a glimpse in the mirror beside us of the author leaning over to the editor to say something in her ear. The editor responded, "No, I don't think she is, either," and they smirked to themselves. Basically, they were looking at me and saying, "I don't think she's really an author."

Was my first reaction super kind and not at all full of gendered insults? I'm not even going to try to lie. The first word in my head was, "Bitch."

Later that week, I did win an award. But when I got up to accept it, I didn't think to myself, "Ha, I'm showing that bitch." It was, "Oh. my. god. My readers are the fucking best. I can't believe they turned out and voted for me. I can't believe I won this. Shit. I didn't write a speech. Maybe I should have taken Stella's email about writing a speech more seriously. I hope I don't swear. I really hope I don't swear." I got up, I swore, I was elated, I sat down.

But you know what? If I had gotten up there and thought, "SUCK IT, BITCH!" that would have robbed me of the entire experience. All that joy would have just been gone. Because revenge isn't satisfying. Showing people up just makes you feel more mean, and it makes your accomplishments all about them. That's no fun.

I think about that a lot when people say, "When your book is bigger than 50 Shades you can tell E.L. James to suck it," or whatever. Holy shit, guys. If I ever wrote a book that got bigger than 50 Shades, the last thing I'd want to waste my time on would be running around trying to make sure everyone I didn't like (especially people I've never met in person and who have never personally wronged me) knew I felt that I was better than them.

And that's how Howey's post came off. "Look at me, I'm better than this ugly, possibly mentally ill, probably autistic (because autistic people act like that, amiright?!) bitch that my wife wanted to slap! I am validated!"

Mr. Howey. You were already validated by being a really good writer. By the success you have, and the support of your readers. There will always be someone who wants to make themselves feel important by acting like they're "in the know." There will always be that guy at the book signing who asks you how long it took to get your book published, and then follows up that question with, "But what if it's good, how long does it take then?" There are going to be people who offer their really good ideas to you, who want to tell you about this awesome new way to publicize your book, or who loftily offers to see if they can maybe get your story into their friend's zine "if there's space." But their behavior doesn't take away from your success. It's a sign of your success. Ignore it. Roll with it. Call them out if you want, because that woman needed someone to say, "Hey, it's not cool to bash self-publishing in front of a self-published author."

But don't write a blog post calling her a bitch, calling her ugly, calling fucking BLOSSOM RUSSO ugly (she is the voice of a generation, goddamnit!) and making assumptions of your own about the importance of an intern experience. You alienated a lot of readers today. You alienated women, crazy people, autistic people, Canadians, Blossom fans, interns... all those people probably would have bought and enjoyed your book. You didn't "show" the bitch at WorldCon anything, but you sure showed your ass to a lot of people who are now regretting buying your book. What did you gain from that? A momentary sense of mean satisfaction you could have easily gotten from just having this conversation in private with friends who won't ask you to explain your "tone."

And P.S., this:

is the only man I will tolerate "suck it, bitch," from, thank you very much.

The Boss chapter eleven is up!

And you can find it here.

New 50 Shades recap will be up on Sunday, as I have a Saturday obligation this week. So you can read it on the lord's day.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Firmoo Sunglasses Review or "How to review sunglasses when the sun has apparently died."

Several weeks ago, I was contacted by Firmoo.com to try out a pair of sunglasses and review them. I said okay, they sent me the glasses and...

Every. Single. Day. Since.

So, how does one review sunglasses when the Michigan weather is being so very Michigan-y?

You have to get creative.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch s01e07, "Angel"

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will complain nonstop about the cramps she's having. Jesus, when will this whole reproductive thing end?! She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:
  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow's magic is utterly useless (this one won't be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn't as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they're watching along with me, and that's awesome, but I've seen the entire series already and I'll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So... you know, take that under consideration, if you're a person who can't enjoy something if you know future details about it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Stuff that has been going on in my house, in no particular order.

  • Two nights ago, when I stumbled wearily to bed, I used the last of the toilet paper in the upstairs bathroom. Because I am a loving wife, I used my lipstick to make a note on the mirror, to warn my husband of the situation: "TP BEFORE U POO." This morning, husband I found the message neatly corrected, in a different shade of lipstick, in our eleven year old's handwriting: "TP AFTER YOU POO."
  • Firmoo, an online eyeglass store, contacted me about reviewing a pair of their sunglasses. I accepted, received the glasses, and... we haven't had even a little bit of sun since.
  • Yesterday, D-Rock, Mr. Jen, and I made the biggest Secret Breakfast yet. Pancakes, bacon, candied bacon, chorizo breakfast burritos, chicken fried steak and gravy, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and orange juice hand-squeezed by D-Rock. And we ate it up before the kids came home from church. Behold the insanity:
  • D-Rock spat in my eye.

New Buffy recap will be up tomorrow. In the meantime... TP after u poo.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

50 Shades Freed recap chapter 12, or "How's your Aspen?"

My tweep Purva alerted me to this really dumb slide show. Let's all suffer together, shall we? I think the most frustrating one was the cupcake one. Since when do cupcakes need a fucking backstory to enjoy them? Also, who the fuck wants to eat a pile of fondant as big as those decorations were? And they're sex themed cupcakes. The only way that's okay is if there is some kind of gooey, salty filling in them. That's the only way I'm on board.

Tweep Anna sent me this link to David Bunce's review of 50 Shades of Grey. It's definitely worth a read.

Okay. Let's get this over with.

LOL, remember when recaps used to start with, "On to the recap!"? All enthusiastic and shit because my soul wasn't irreparably withered? Just for reference, when I started reading these books I was a church-goer. Now I'm an atheist. I'm not saying they've destroyed my faith in God all on their own, I'm just suggesting they may have been a contributing factor.

When we last left them, Chedward had just told Ana that he was born in Detroit, and it is apparently a mind-blower:
"I though you were born here in Seattle," I murmur. My mind races. What does this have to do with Jack?
I don't know, maybe your crackerjack narrative will tell us at some point. You know, after you murmur and muse about it for seven or eight chapters, and then the big reveal ends up being something incredibly stupid. But yeah, no reveal in this chapter.

Since it's been two weeks, I'm going to remind you guys that at this point, he's done orgasm denial that caused her to safe word and she broke down crying. He's yet to ask her if she's okay or if she needs anything, and we're now talking about his traumatic childhood and the conversation is all about him.

This is the face I'm making right now.

Christian explains that he and Elliot were both adopted in Detroit, but Grace wanted to leave, to be on the west coast and away from "the urban sprawl." Which is pretty rich, considering Seattle's geographical size is about half a square mile less than Detroit's. Ana asks Christian how he knew Jack Hyde was from Detroit:
"I ran a background check when you went to work for him."
You know, like any non-psycho boyfriend does.
Of course he did. "Do you have a manila file on him, too?" I smirk.
Christian's mouth twists as he hides his amusement. "I think it's pale blue."
I'm glad they can joke about Christian's repeated and obsessive invasions of privacy against people in his life and people who are only marginally connect to people in his life.

Ana asks what's in Jack Hyde's file, and Christian is all, "'You really want to know?'" like it's going to shock Ana so badly he needs to protect her fragile female brain from the terrible reality of who Jack Hyde is. When Ana asks how bad it is, Christian immediately reminds her of his horrible childhood:
"I've known worse," he whispers.
No! Is he referring to himself?

I didn't mean for TLJ to become a thing, but it seems like this is the recap where he becomes a thing.

Rather than just telling Ana what's in the fucking file,

"What's in the fiiiiile?"

they talk some more about his horrible childhood and how he's like, clearly 100% over it:
Christian stiffens. "I wasn't talking about me. I don't want your pity, Anastasia. That part of my life is done. Gone."
"Except for when I need to manipulate you into doing something or staying with me when I've treated you like shit," he definitely did not say next. "So let's never talk about it, because if you think I've gotten over it, I won't be able to use it as a weapon against you anymore."

Even Ana knows that's bullshit, and she calls him on it:
"That part of your life is not done, Christian - how can you say that? You live every day with your past. You told me yourself - fifty shades, remember?" My voice is barely audible.
But before you're like, "Right on, Ana, call him on his bullshit so he has a microscopic chance of healing or whatever, as if I even gave a shit what happens to this guy," she continues:
"I know it's why you feel the need to control me. Keep my safe."
"And yet you choose to defy me," he murmurs, baffled, his hand stilling in my hair.
Whatever, "Jareth."

I frown. Holy cow! Do I do that deliberately? My subconscious removes her half-moon glasses and chews the end, pursing her lips and nodding. I ignore her. This is confusing - I'm his wife, not his submissive, not some company he's acquired. I'm not the crack whore who was his mother... Fuck. The thought is sickening. Dr. Flynn's words come back to me:
"Just keep doing what you're doing. Christian is head over heels... It's a delight to see."
That's it. I'm just doing what I've always done. Isn't that what Christian found attractive in the first place?
Oh, this man is so confusing.
So was literally ALL OF THAT. What thought is sickening? The thought of his mother? Of being his sub? Of him acquiring companies? And no, dummy, your personality isn't what Christian found attractive. The fact that you looked like his mother is what made you attractive to him. You already know that. He could have never been attracted to your personality, because in the first book you never said more than a few words at a time to him, because you were terrified of him. He found you attractive because he thought you were going to be a fuck doll he could manipulate and abuse until he got tired of you and threw you away.

Ana tells Christian that she's just doing what Dr. Flynn told her to do, and she defies his orders to get him "'away from your past,'" which would make sense if she didn't bring up his fucking past every time they had the slightest argument. We're in Ana's head, so we know how often she's thinking of him as being some grubby, abused toddler. Christian is not impressed that his psychiatrist suggested something that he feels might actually help him, and Ana says:
"Christian, I know you loved your mom, and you couldn't save her. It wasn't your job to do that. But I'm not her."
He freezes again. "Don't," he whispers.
"No, listen. Please." I raise my head to stare into wide eyes that are paralyzed with fear. He's holding his breath. Oh, Christian...  My heart constricts. "I'm not her. I'm much stronger than she was. I have you, and you're so much stronger now, and I know you love me. I love you, too," I whisper.
Okay. First of all, Christian's mother was a single mom, a drug addict, a prostitute working in unsafe conditions and under the control of her abusive pimp. She was trying to raise her son in abject poverty in Detroit in the 1980's (not one of the city's finest decades). She was not weak, Ana, you ignorant, privileged asshole. Strength has nothing to do with that situation.

I fucking hate, hate, hate this book.

Second, you tell Christian it wasn't his job to save his mom, and you're not her, but then you tell him you're strong because of him. Which completely contradicts the point you were trying to make about not needing to be saved in place of his mother.

I fucking hate, hate, hate this book.

 You know what's coming.

His brow creases as if my words were not what he expected. "Do you still love me?" he asks.
"Of course I do. Christian, I will always love you. No matter what you do to me." Is this the reassurance he wants?
She will always love him, no matter what he does to her. So... he doesn't really need to change. He can keep abusing and isolating her, forcing her to make "choices" that are already pre-decided, and run her off from her dreams and aspirations until she's exactly the person he wants her to be. That must be a load off his mind.

Christian tells Ana that when she asked him earlier in the day if he hated her, he didn't understand why, and Ana asks if he still thinks she hates him. He says:
"No." He shakes his head. "Not now." He looks relieved. "But I need to know... why did you safe-word, Ana?"
What the hell kind of question is this? Wait, let me clarify: what the hell kind of question is this for Christian Grey to ask? Because a good Dom is going to ask, "What was it about the situation that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, and is there anything I can do next time to avoid making you feel that way?" That's not how Christian is asking it. He's asking why she safe worded because he sees it as an act of betrayal against him. The implication here is that she used the safe word because she hates him or wants to punish him.

What was Ana's reason (Trigger warning):
What can I tell him? That he frightened me. That I didn't know if he'd stop. That I'd begged him - and he didn't stop. That I didn't want things to escalate... like - like that one time in here. I shudder as I recall him whipping me with his belt.
If the control issues in their relationship were confined purely to their sex play, if they had a healthy BDSM relationship in which one partner didn't expect their D/s roles to continue outside the bedroom when the other partner didn't have that same expectation, this would be a fine and a sensible answer. In this context? It's Ana admitting that she's afraid of her husband and the fact that he uses BDSM as a way to abuse her.
I swallow. "Because... because you were so angry and distant and... cold. I didn't know how far you'd go."
She doesn't trust him enough to submit to him. End of story. They should not be engaging in D/s play at all. Lack of trust is what makes their sexual relationship abusive, because Christian has been aware of her lack of trust and has done nothing to build her faith in him. He prefers her frightened, so he can manipulate her.

Ana asks Christian if he was eventually going to let her come, and he says no. Which is totally shitty, because he never said, "Hey, are you cool with some orgasm denial?" before they started. In fact, he made it seem like they were going into the Red Room for mutual satisfaction. He can't get Ana's consent if he doesn't ask for it, so once again, we read a rape scene dressed up like sexy sexin' times. He also tells her that he's glad she safe worded:
"Yes. I don't want to hurt you. I got carried away." he reaches down and kisses me. "Lost in the moment." He kisses me again. "Happens a lot with you."
Oh? And for some bizarre reason the thought pleases me... I grin. Why does that make me happy? He grins, too.
"I don't know why you're grinning, Mrs. Grey."
"Me neither."
Me neither.
"It means I can trust you... to stop me. I never want to hurt you," he murmurs.
I love how he always says this RIGHT AFTER HE HAS DONE SOMETHING TO HURT HER. And by love, I mean I want to set myself on fire.

There's nothing wrong with a Dom expressing gratitude for the trust he has in his sub's ability to stop him from crossing the line unintentionally. But I think we're all aware that Christian is making Ana solely responsible for controlling him when they're together. If she forgets to safe word because she gets into a bad place mentally, well, open season I guess, because we already know from the belt incident that Christian feels the onus is on Ana to keep the scene from going too far. Which is really funny in a "this writing is so fucking pathetic" way, because Christian goes on and on about how much he needs to control Ana in every aspect of her life, but he can't exert any control over his own actions in his role as Dom. It's another case of the author telling us what kind of a person the character is, while showing us tons of evidence to the contrary.
This is the heart of our dilemna - his need for control and his need for me. I refuse to believe these are mutually exclusive.
This is the heart of every abusive relationship. One partner's need to exert control over the other partner, through any means necessary, and the abused partner's utter refusal to accept the reality of his/her/zir situation.
"I need you, too," I whisper, hugging him tighter. "I'll try, Christian. I'll try to be more considerate."

Moving on, because I'm not going to be able to handle the rest of the fucking scene in which Ana earnestly apologizes to Christian for not being a good enough abused wife for him, Ana wakes up, still in the playroom, and Christian is, predictably, having another manipulative, thrashy nightmare.

This is what Christian Grey looks like when he's sleeping.

She wakes Christian from his dream, and they immediately start fucking:
"Ah!" I cry out, not from any pain, but from surprise at his alacrity.
Alacrity means being ready to do something in an cheerful way. Like, "The alacrity Jenny showed sprinting toward the liquor store was truly impressive." It's not the right word to use when someone has just woken up from a violent, screaming nightmare and starts desperation fucking the nearest available hole. They fuck, he comes, she doesn't, and finally, FINALLY, he asks her if she's okay:
"You okay?" I breathe, caressing his lovely face.
Oh, shit, no, HE STILL DIDN'T ASK HER IF SHE'S OKAY, SHE ASKED HIM. Because he is the most important.

Now, a lot of people have been like, "Oh, he fucks her again and leaves her hanging," but he really doesn't. When he realizes she didn't come, he immediately heads south and gets her off orally, and then, with practically no refractory period required, fucks her again, and this time they both come. So, he does take care of the orgasm thing. And that's where she could have used the word "alacrity."

They get up and head back to the bedroom, and I'm not sure why we need a scene of them discussing this, especially since the scene takes up approximately a page of text. Other than to show them going from the playroom to the bedroom, which could easily have been done in a single sentence in the next section, which begins:
My eyes spring open. Something is wrong. Christian is not in bed, though it's still dark. Glancing at the radio alarm, I see it's three twenty in the morning. Where's Christian? Then I hear the piano.
You know why she had the feeling something was wrong? Because there wasn't an "Edward plays Bella's lullaby" scene in this book yet. It's weird that Ana is waking up all the freaking time to find Chedward not in bed with her (this is because Edward Cullen, a vampire, never slept, and in Breaking Dawn Bella wakes up to find him not in bed with her, so it has to be a theme E.L. beats to death in her fanfic) and yet she always finds it so alarming and crazy. "He's not in bed with me? This has only happened a hundred and fifty other times! SOMETHING IS WRONG OMG HYDE MURDERED HIM."

Also, why is it important for us to know that the alarm clock has a radio in it?
Quickly slipping out of bed, I grab my robe and run down the hallway to the great room. The tune he's playing is so sad - a mournful lament that I've heard him play before. I pause in the doorway and watch him in a pool of light while the achingly sorrowful music fills the room. He finishes, then starts the piece again. Why such a plaintive tune? I wrap my arms around myself and listen spellbound as he plays. But my heart aches. Christian, why so sad? Is it because of me? Did I do this?
Yes, Ana. Your abuse is all your fault and you should feel bad about making him do that to you. OMG THIS BOOK IS SO FEMINIST BECAUSE IT MAKES ME PLAY WITH MYSELF.
When he finishes, only to start a third time, I can bear it no longer.
That is a really long time to stand and creepily watch someone play piano. After Ana goes over and sits by him, he tells her the piece he's playing is Chopin's "Prelude No. 4 in E minor (Suffocation)," so that means Ana stood there for like, almost six minutes listening to him before she said anything. Go stand and silently watch someone do something for six minutes. It's a long time.

Also, it's pretty funny that we're supposed to be all, "Oh, he's so talented, playing the piano in the night like some tortured genius," because that's actually not a very complicated song to play. A friend who teaches piano told me she uses that piece to strengthen an intermediate student's left hand timing. And I was all, "That's what she said," and then she hit me. But whatever. Christian's playing a pretty simple tune and we're all supposed to be impressed at his skill.
 Reaching over, I take his hand. "You're really shaken by all this, aren't you?"
He snorts. "A deranged asshole gets into my apartment to kidnap my wife. She won't do as she's told. She drives me crazy. She safe-words on me." He closes his eyes briefly, and when he opens them again, they are stark and raw. "Yeah, I'm pretty shaken up."
More proof that Christian Grey should never, ever Dom. Ever. EVER. He takes the use of a safe word as a personal insult, a thing that shakes him up. Remember, Ana was sobbing, she didn't want him to touch her, she felt violated, but he's shaken up by it?
I squeeze his hand. "I'm sorry."
She's sorry. For safe wording, for not mindlessly obeying him. She's apologizing, again, for him abusing her.
"I dreamed you were dead," he whispers.

Ana comforts him over his awesome dream, his pajama bottoms hang THAT WAY, and they go back to bed.

Ana wakes up with Christian laying all over her, like usual:
Hard to believe that the man lying beside me, looking so serene and young in his sleep, was so tortured last night... and so tortured me last night.
So, file "tortured" away with "beat" and "hit" from the first book.
But am I strong enough for both of us? Strong enough to do what I'm told and give him some peace of mind? I sigh. He's not asking that much of me.
Just that you relinquish all personal autonomy and live in his glass castle, never leaving or having any contact with the outside world but always ready to sexually service him and listen to him cry about his childhood. That's not too much to ask at all, is it?
I flit through our conversation of last night. Did we decide anything other than to both try harder? The bottom line is that I love this man, and I need to chart a course for both of us. One that lets me keep my integrity and independence but still be more for him. I am his more, and he is mine. I resolve to make a special effort this weekend not to give him cause for concern.
That's right, Ana. You need to shoulder the burden of fixing your relationship, and be a better person for Christian so he doesn't have to do anything. Because he didn't decide to try harder the night before. He just let you apologize over and over for making him abuse you.

This book is fucking sick. I remember when I was first reading them, and everyone was like, "You're going to change your tune when you get to book three, because he's sooooo different and gets sooooo much better." No, he doesn't. He doesn't change at all. If anything, he gets slightly worse, but only because with a ring on her finger, he's emboldened to let his diseased personality run wild. The only person who changes is Ana, because she makes a concerted effort to put up with his abuse.

Christian wakes up and they have their intensely belabored dialogue, as is standard for their mornings:
"Good morning, Mr. Grey." I smile.
"Good morning, Mrs. Grey. Did you sleep well?"
Every time they wake up, they remind me of the fish from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.

"Oh look, Chedward's being eaten."

Ana asks Christian what he would like to do today, and he tells her he wants to take her to Aspen. Then they talk about how they're going to get there and blah blah blah, we can skip to the next scene. Taylor drives them to the airport, where Christian's corporate jet is waiting.
He looks dreamy, all tousled hair, white T-shirt, and black jeans. Not CEO-like at all today.
There's that damn description again. He either looks exactly like a CEO, or not at all like a CEO. At this point, I'm begging for just one variation on the theme, like, "He looks nothing at all like a rodeo clown," or "he looked every bit the guy who obsessively brushes his teeth."
He takes my hand as Taylor glides to a stop at the foot of the jet steps.
"I have a surprise for you," he murmurs and kisses my knuckles.
I grin at him. "Good surprise?"
"I hope so." He smiles warmly.
Hmm... what can it be?
Considering you ran into a bit of pronoun confusion and this tender exchange has taken place with Taylor, not Christian, I hope the surprise is that Taylor is going to murder your husband and steer that jet to Europe.

But you know what? Taylor doesn't deserve to put up with your bullshit, Ana. He can stay with Mrs. Jones.

They get into the plane:
Christian and Stephan shake hands. "Good morning, sir." Stephan smiles.
 This is going to make the scene somewhat bearable guys, just roll with it.

"Thanks for doing this on such short notice." Christian grins back at him. "Our gests here?"
"Yes, sir."
This week, Seattle's hottest club is GEH Jet. They have everything: a sadistic billionaire, a timid brunette, her nosy best friend -
I turn and gasp. Kate, Elliot, Mia, and Ethan are all smiling and sitting in the cream-colored leather seats. Wow! I spin around to Christian.
Uh... if they're RIGHT THERE, why did Christian have to ask if they were there? Just for the drama?

Ana is speechless to find her friends there. Okay, not strictly her friends. Her friend, her friend's brother, and Christian's brother and sister. But still, more people than she's usually allowed to associate with:
"You said you didn't see enough of your friends." He shrugs and gives me a lopsided, apologetic smile.
If he was really apologetic, Jose would be there, right?

This is exactly how I felt when I typed that sick burn on a totally fictional character. My life has meaning.

Ana is totally grateful, and of course it's time for her to show her gratitude by being objectified, so Christian puts her over his shoulder and marches her past the friends she's there to spend time with in order to go straight to the bedroom. There is a description of Elliot "whooping like a demented gibbon," and all I can think of is the comment someone left on another recap that read "I come loudly, whooping like a demented gibbon," and I cannot stop laughing.

Alone in the private part of the cabin, Christian says:
"That was fun, Mrs. Grey." And his grin widens. Oh boy. He looks so young.
 He is 27. In what universe, even to a twenty-two year old, is twenty-seven not young? As Kody Thomas points out in her analysis of the plagiarism in the series, both Edward and Christian are depicted as seeming older than their years. But that's because Edward is a vampire. It makes no sense for Christian to be thought of as old. At all. Except for the part where he was plagiarized off a vampire.

They have a moment in the bedroom of the jet, and Christian reveals the reason for the trip:
"[...] I thought it would be easier to avoid the press in Aspen than at home."
The paparazzi! He's right. If we'd stayed in Escala, we'd have been imprisoned. A shiver runs down my spine as I recollect the snapping cameras and dazzling flashes of the few photographers Taylor sped through this morning.
Leaving aside the part where I imagine Taylor actually speeding through hapless photographers, their bodies exploding like water balloons filled with blood and bone chunks, and the part where we've already discussed that Americans don't give a shit about the day-to-day lives of industry tycoons who aren't fictional,  WTF? You're going to Aspen to get away from paparazzi? Great plan, because as everyone knows, NOBODY FAMOUS EVER GOES TO ASPEN, RIGHT?

Christian and Ana rejoin their friends, because it's time for takeoff. Now, I know I just told you that, but I'm also going to let Stephan tell you that, so you can imagine Bill Hader is on the plane with them:
"Please be seated, ladies and gentlemen, as we'll shortly begin taxiing for takeoff." Stephan's voice echoes calmly and authoritatively around the cabin. The brunette woman - um... Natalie? - who was on the flight for our wedding night appears from the galley and gathers up the discarded coffee cups. Natalia... Her name's Natalia.
"Good morning Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey," she says with a purr. Why does she make me uncomfortable?
Because she's female?
Maybe it's that she's a brunette. By his own admission, Christian doesn't usually employ brunettes because he finds them attractive.
So, because Christian can't trust himself to behave ethically around an employee he finds attractive, he actively discriminates against certain types of women? HE'S SO DREAMY I NEED TO TOUCH MY NO NO.

But Ana is distracted from further misogynistic musing on the subject of bitches who want to steal her man, because she's going to think about Christian instead:
He seems relaxed and happy, even though we're with company. Idly, I wonder why he can't always be like this - not controlling at all.
No, not controlling at all, even though you're on a last-minute surprise trip out of state that he planned so he could micromanage your socialization. Not controlling at all.

Remember how in the first two books, and to a lesser extent, in this very book, everybody described Ana as "bright" or "intelligent" within two paragraphs of meeting her? Keep that in mind during this next exchange:
"Hope you packed your hiking boots," he says, his voice warm.
"We're not going skiing?"
"That would be a challenge, in August," he says, amused.
 At tonight's performance, the role of Jenny Trout will be played by Dule Hill.

I hate so, so much being TOLD by an author than a character is a certain way, when the character's actions are SHOWN in a completely contradictory way. Ana is super duper smart... and she thinks they're going to go skiing in AUGUST. But don't worry, reader, she's bright, and you know that because the author said she was. As it is written, so mote it be.
Natalia runs through the plane's safety procedures in a clear, ringing voice. She's dressed in a neat navy short-sleeved shirt and matching pencil skirt. Her makeup is immaculate - she really is quite pretty. My subconscious raises a plucked-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life eyebrow at me.
Ana starts to think something complimentary about another female, and her subconscious puts the lid on that right quick. Plus, I love that we just got this detailed description of the flight attendent, but I still have no fucking clue what Elliot looks like. I mean, from any of the information in any of the books, not just in the scene. There are minor characters I could draw a police sketch of, but secondary characters who are just faceless blanks shambling around in the story.

As they taxi out, Kate asks Christian questions about Jack Hyde. Because, you know, the guy she's been with for exactly as long as Ana has been with Christian (longer, because she and Elliot didn't break up due to him going sickhouse on her with a fucking belt) is at risk of being murdered by Jack, as well. But Ana doesn't see it this way. She sees Kate's questions as an intrusion, so when Kate asks why Christian fired Jack, this happens:
"He made a pass at me," I mutter. I try to kick Kate's ankle beneath the table and miss.
She tries to physically assault her best friend because Christian wants to be in complete control of the information flow regarding Jack Hyde.

I also want to point out that Christian beefed up security for Mia and Elliot, but Kate never mentioned anything about getting security for herself. If Jack is so deranged that he wants to hurt the Greys at any cost, wouldn't he go after Elliot's girlfriend? But Christian doesn't care, because let's be honest, if Kate dies, he gets Ana all to himself.

They keep talking about Jack Hyde, and there's no new information revealed, really. It's all about how Kate is so exasperating and terrible, asking all these questions. Even when Elliot gets in on it, it's unacceptable:
"What do you know about him?" Elliot asks, oblivious to the fact that we are hurtling down the runway in a small jet about to launch itself into the sky, and equally oblivious to Christian's growing exasperation with Kate.
Elliot, who has to have extra security because of Jack's secret and horrible internet search history, isn't entitled to information about what makes Jack a threat to his safety. Christian explains Hyde's background:
"We know a little about him," Christian continues. "His dad died in a brawl in a bar. His mother drank herself into oblivion. He was in and out of foster homes as a kid... in and out of trouble, too. Mainly boosting cars. Spent time in juvie. His mom got back on track through some outreach program, and Hyde turned himself around. Won a scholarship to Princeton."
Yeah, I'm not buying that someone who had a record and spent time in juvie would be admitted to Princeton. It seems like that would be one of the things they'd use to weed out applicants.

I'm getting a little pissed off at the stigma against single mothers and low-income families in this series. Christian and Jack were both kids from impoverished backgrounds who became successful, but they're both emotionally fragile, apparently because of their upbringing. Their childhoods were marked by violence - Jack's father died in a bar fight, Christian was abused by his mother's pimp - and addiction - alcohol; crack - and they were both "saved" by money. Christian was adopted by wealthy parents, Jack got into a prestigious school. And yet both of them are still so scarred by their upbringings that they fall apart at the slightest stress. Christian snaps and whips Ana with a belt, Jack loses his job and decides to start sabotaging helicopters and stuff. Because growing up without two parents in a heteronormative nuclear family environment leaves you irreparably damaged, and every person who comes from a background of poverty or fatherlessness is in the same situation.

Think about it - Ana's parents are divorced, but she's "normal" because of the presence of Ray or Charlie or whoever in her life (I honestly can't remember which dad is in which book) and his masculine influence. Everything useful that Ana has ever learned, she learned from Rarlie. What has she learned from her mother? A legacy of bad decisions about men. Because of this masculine influence from her stepfather, Ana is a whole person. Christian and Jack are incomplete, because their mothers weren't "strong" in the way Ana is.

This is exactly how I looked when I realized I had uncovered yet another problematic aspect of this book.

I thought I was done finding things there were wrong with this crappy series. But there. Right there. No fucking wonder Ana's subconscious is always reading Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. THIS IS SUPER JUDGEY ANTI-POVERTY PORN. Poor urchins are saved spiritually and physically by huge doses of vitamin $.

"Princeton?" Kate's curiosity is piqued.
""Yep. He's a bright boy." Christian shrugs.
1. Kate's curiosity was already piqued, it's why she's been asking questions the whole time.
2. Further down the page, we learn that Jack Hyde is thirty-two. So Christian is only calling him "boy" because Edward was a vampire.
Much as I'd like to know what's going on, I don't want to encourage Kate's questions. I know they're irritating Christian, and I'm sure she's on his shit list since Cocktailgate.
If a friend told me I was on her husband's "shitlist" because she chose to go out for drinks with me when he'd asked her not to, I would never speak to that person ever again. I am not submissive to other people's men, thanks a bunch and go fuck yourself.

Ana asks Christian if he thinks Jack is working with Elena "the bitch troll." I will never tire of that delightful phrase, let me tell you. Christian says:
"You  do like to demonize her, don't you?" Christian rolls his eyes and shakes his head in disgust.
Yeah. People tend to demonize adults who prey on emotionally damaged teenagers in the hopes of grooming them into the perfect sex slave. Something about that doesn't sit right with most people, for some reason.

There is some back and forth between Christian and Elliot, and Elliot and Kate are suddenly not getting along great - because obviously, Elliot needs to rein her in and make her stop annoying the billionaire important man with questions about the guy who might end up killing her - and Ana thinks about how since she's Christian's first real girlfriend, Mrs. Robinson and the fifteen subs don't matter.
"Okay, ladies and gentlemen, we'll be cruising at an altitude of approximately thirty-two thousand feet, and our estimated flight time is one hour and fifty-six minutes," Stephan announces. "You are now free to move around the cabin."
In my head canon, this is where the lights go out and the human suitcases roll down the aisle.

Now, it's a pretty well-established rule of novel construction that your chapters should end with some kind of hook, something that will make the reader want to continue reading even though they've reached a convenient break. This can be the revelation of important information, a sudden exclamation, or a resolution of a minor problem that creates new questions the reader will be anticipating as they move into the next section of your story. Here's how chapter twelve ends:
Natalia appears abruptly from the galley.
"May I offer anyone coffee?" she asks.

Masterful. Positively masterful.