Thursday, January 31, 2013

E.L. James needs to shut her ignorant mouth about abuse.

Dear Readers:

Since I've started on the long (the very, very, very long) journey of blogging about 50 Shades and why the relationship at its core is a predatory, abusive one between an aggressive stalker and his victim, a lot of women have come to me and said, "this is just like the abusive relationship I was in," or "this reminds me of the ex who tried to stab me in the throat with a screwdriver." I'm beyond horrified at the number of emails and comments I've received from women who have had their own "Christian Grey" and managed to escape him. This shouldn't be happening as often as it does, and the only reason it does is because our culture tells us that as women, we need to be first and foremost available for male attention - and to not make ourselves so is to be rude and not a very nice woman.

So, when Emma sent me a link with E.L. running her ignorant mouth about allegations of abuse in her books, I lost my fucking mind:
James says she "freaks out when she hears people say that her book encourages domestic violence. "Nothing freaks me out more than people who say this is about domestic abuse," she says. "Bringing up my book in this context trivializes the issues, doing women who actually go through it a huge disservice. It also demonizes loads of women who enjoy this lifestyle, and ignores the many, many women who tell me they've found the books sexually empowering."
One would think that since she has at minimum a third-grade understanding of the English language, E.L. James would be able to understand a few core concepts.
  1. No one is talking about BDSM being abusive, you fucking lunatic. The elements of the relationship that are abusive have nothing to do with the incredibly mild BDSM in the book. Even though the BDSM is shitty and unsafe and portrayed as a mental disease, the BDSM sequences aren't really where the abuse happens. The abuse happens in all the places where Christian asserts his dominance over Ana outside of the bedroom, by stalking her (showing up at her work, following her across the country when she's asked him for space, putting money into her bank account - the number for which he got through a private investigator), refusing her any agency (she must be followed by his "security team" - read: spies - anywhere she goes, her clothes are purchased for her by a shopper who knows Christian's tastes, he even tells her when and what to eat and bought her job), and getting her drunk (read: drugging her) to get her to consent to shit she doesn't want to do. All that stuff is abusive. Tying her up and making her listen to Medieval chant while he fucks her? No one thinks that's abusive.
  2. Bringing up the abuse in your book doesn't trivialize the issue, you fucking lunatic. You know what does trivialize the issue? Ignoring very real concerns about the abuse in the book because you don't want to admit you're just a shitty writer or a shitty person and you don't care about abused women at all because you're making tons of money and omg, everyone is being so mean about the shitty book you wrote about a shitty guy who abuses a woman. Talking about an issue in a serious way doesn't "trivialize" it. It brings awareness to people who might have been wrong in their thinking. The only problem is, the people - like E.L. James - who most need to listen and learn about why they're propagating dangerous cultural stereotypes about what women need or want, refuse to listen. So, by dismissing the issue, E.L., you're really the one doing the trivializing. 
  3. Protecting women from abuse doesn't endanger the sexual preferences of women who like BDSM. Look, I'm going to say it. I love to be submissive during sex. I love to get spanked, bitten, slapped, choked, I like to have my hair pulled, to get fucked hard, you name something perverted and I am into it, so long as the person doing it to me is calling me a cheap slut while he's doing it (and also as long as it's Safe, Sane, and Consensual). Do I realize that some people feel that's dirty, bad, and wrong? Yeah, but fuck them. Because it doesn't matter if other people think that I'm gross or depraved or fucked in the head, because I know that's not the case. There's no reason for anyone to try to protect me from what I want to do in the bedroom. And I don't need E.L. James to defend my lifestyle choices, either, so she doesn't need to be the champion for all the poor, repressed women out there who like BDSM. There is, however, lots of reasons that we need to protect women who are being abused from abuse, namely because our culture won't. It's not setting back the sexual revolution to call out Christian Grey as an abuser pretending to be a Dom. It's not taking away the sexual agency of women who like to masturbate to 50 Shades. It's not "either, or" here. We can say, "Yes, freedom of sexual exploration is amazing, and what you do in your bedroom is not anyone else's business," while acknowledging that if the "Dom" attitude turns into an excuse to victimize and control a woman who doesn't want to be a 24/7 sub, it has crossed the line from sex play into abuse. People in the BDSM community WANT to talk about this type of thing, and they were talking about it at length BEFORE 50 Shades came along. Now, E.L. wants to shut down that whole conversation as a matter of feminism, or something? Why? Because women are too stupid to handle nuanced issues? Or just because we can't care about more than one thing at a time, and naturally jilling off to this piece of shit book is the highest priority, and we'll get to the abuse later?
  4. Women going through, or who have gone through, domestic abuse are not fucking thrilled with 50 Shades. Before E.L. tries to stand up and say that she's angry because highlighting the abuse in her books trivializes all those poor, battered women she supposedly cares so fucking much about, maybe she needs to talk to some of the women I've heard from. Maybe she needs to hear abuse victims saying, "You're wrong," so she could get it through her head. Oh, my bad. A lot of these same women HAVE tried to contact E.L. James, only to be blocked on twitter. That's right. If you try to contact E.L. James with your heartfelt plea for understanding, based on your own personal experience at the hands of an abuser like Christian Grey, you're going to find your twitter account blocked. Because she doesn't want to hear it. The inability to listen to even the mildest criticism of her perfect, perfect hottie, Christian Grey, proves that E.L. James doesn't get angry over those allegations on behalf of abused women. She doesn't give enough of a shit about them to read 140 fucking characters, unless those characters are all glowing praise for her master work. Yeah, she really fucking cares about abused women, so much so that she sees their real-life experiences as an attack against her glorious creation (that's making her so much money).
So, there you go. E.L. James cares so much about you, abuse survivors, that she's willing to prioritize a woman's right to be spanked over your right to not be stalked, intimidated, beaten, and controlled. She cares so much, that she won't even listen to you when you try to tell her what's wrong. And she's so, so terribly concerned about you that she doesn't want anyone to even talk about the abuse in her books or the potential for abuse in a BDSM relationship... because she doesn't want to upset you, and she knows best. Or something. I don't know, I'm honestly considering the possibility that this woman is gluing up before her public appearances.

Is E.L. James the real-life inspiration for Cheryl Tunt?

The bottom line is, this is a problem E.L. James could fix, easily. First of all, she has to drop this whole, "I want to protect abused women" bullshit line that is clearly not true at all. And she has to stop touting her books as some kind of sexual saving grace that women are learning and growing from. Then, when someone says, "Hey, Christian Grey is an abuser," she can say, "You're right. The relationship portrayed in my books is not a healthy one. However, as a fiction writer I am telling a story, not writing a how-to manual. If my books are encouraging women to be more open in their sexuality, I think that's great, but I would advise them to seek out other, nonfiction resources for instruction in the BDSM lifestyle. And I would ask them not to hold up the relationship between Christian Grey and Ana Steele as one to aspire to."

That's all she has to do. But she won't. Because at the end of the day, women, E.L. James doesn't give a shit about you, or your experiences. And she was only writing this for school, anyway, so OMG SHE DOESN'T CARE IF YOU LIKE IT!

(The link to the original story I took E.L.'s quote from is here, but be warned there are two auto-play videos of the same commercial badly out of sync at the top and bottom of the pages)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

50 Shades Freed recap chapter 5 or "False Tension Blowout! Featuring The Most Boring Car Chase Of All Time!"

Amy sent me a link to this chart about what to read this summer instead of 50 Shades of Grey. I know it's not technically summer in my hemisphere, but still, it's a pretty clever chart. Though I'm not entirely sure if someone looking for hot, sweaty, abusive naughty times is going to be that thrilled with Maus as an alternative.

@Aka_Kody suggests this horrible, and entirely true, lowering of the bar for love stories in a terrifying macro.

So, the false tension circus really comes to town in chapter five. Brace yourselves, there's going to be a lot of drama with little payoff, for confusing reasons. Gird your loins.

After the nightmare Ana has for no reason in the end of chapter four - oh, silly me, of course there was a reason. She had the nightmare so it could be like Bella's nightmare in the Twilight books - she wakes up to find Christian not there:
I stir, instinctively reaching for Christian only to feel his absence. Shit! I wake instantly and look anxiously around the cabin.
Is she worried that he escaped?

Not to worry, Christian is just creepily watching her from the chair across the room. And he's wearing his cut-offs and a gray t-shirt. Raise your hand if the thought of a man in cut-offs only conjures up the most homoerotic beer commercial you've ever seen. E.L., you truly understand what straight women want to read about.
"Hey, don't panic. Everything's fine," he says, his voice gentle and soothing - like he's talking to a cornered wild animal.
Or the girl he has his in the pit in his basement.
"You've been so jumpy these last couple of days," he murmurs, his eyes wide and serious.
Gosh, I wonder why she would be jumpy, Christian. You're constantly telling her your lives are in danger and insisting she travel with an armed entourage to protect her. You think that might, you know, be getting to her a little?

This is the thing about abusers and paranoid people. They want to force the person they're with to be as paranoid as they are. To be drawn into their delusion, so they have company in there. And as long as Christian can make Ana afraid and powerless in the face of some shadowy, ill-defined conspiracy  against her, she has to cleave unto him for protection. It effectively traps her, and now he also gets to show concern over the situation, making him her knight in shining armor! What's wrong with that, besides the manipulation and control?
"I'm okay, Christian." I give him my brightest smile because I don't want him to know how worried I am about the arson incident.
WHAT ARSON INCIDENT WAS THERE SOME KIND OF FIRE I HADN'T HEARD.
"Were you watching me sleep?"
"Yes," he says, gazing at me steadily, studying me. "You were talking."
"Oh?" Shit! what was I saying?
You were saying something about how this was another thing plagiarized from Twilight. So, I'm going to assume Bella Ana said Edward Christian's name while she was sleeping.

Why is she freaked out if her husband heard her talking in her sleep? Could it be because... they don't really know each other? Because they've only been together like... three months and they've never had a real conversation because they're both trying to be exactly what they think the other person wants, rather than having any genuine thoughts or feelings?

Despite constantly telling Ana to be terrified of everything and everyone, Christian doesn't want her to be scared. But she's not, see, she's just scared for him:
"When you frown, a little V forms just here. IT's soft to kiss. Don't worry baby, I'll look after you."
"It's not me I'm worried about, it's you," I grumble. "Who's looking after you?"
He smiles indulgently at my tone. "I'm big enough and ugly enough to look after myself [...]"
Yes, remember, everyone, how big and ugly Christian is? Despite us constantly being told how hot and elegant and charming he is, he's also a bruiser who can look after himself, provided he has twin French dudes and a scary bodyguard following him around 24/7.


Christian tells Ana it's time to get up, because there's one last thing he wants to do on their honeymoon. She thinks:
We've had a blissful honeymoon. With a few ups and downs, I admit, but that's normal for a newly married couple, surely?
Actually, I'm sure lots of domestic violence assaults take place on honeymoons. But that doesn't make it okay. And it certainly doesn't make this tripe readable.

The thing Christian wants to do before they head home from France is go on the jet ski with Ana driving. They have some of the most boring banter ever:
"Fair point well made, Mrs. Grey. Are we going to stand on this platform all day debating your driving skills or are we going to have some fun?"
"Fair point well made, Mr. Grey." 
OMG DO YOU GET IT HE SAID THE THING AND THEN SHE SAID THE THING BACK TO HIM THE THING THEY ALWAYS SAY OMG THEIR RELATIONSHIP MUST BE SO EXCITING WITH THE WAY THEY CONSTANTLY REPEAT THEMSELVES OVER AND OVER IN EVERY CONVERSATION.

They get on the jet ski and oh my god, Chedward has to sit behind her with his thighs pressed to hers and it's so exciting and thrilling that she has to go zipping off toward the seaside airport. Now, she's aware it's an airport, and mentions that she is specifically heading toward the airport, but for some reason, this happens:
As we zoom over the cool blue sea toward what looks like the end of the runway, the thundering roar of a jet overhead suddenly startles me as it comes in to land. It's so loud I panic, swerving and hitting the throttle at the same time, mistaking it for a brake.
"Ana!" Christian shouts, but it's too late. I'm catapulted off the side of the Jet Ski, arms and legs flailing, taking Christian with me in a spectacular splash.
Ana gets scared by a plane. Outside of an airport. Which she goes to great pains to describe to the reader in the preceding paragraphs.

Anyway, of course she falls off and Christian panics, but Ana is thinking:
See, Christian? That's the worst that can happen on a Jet Ski!

 Not the worst thing that could happen, Ana...

It's pretty obvious that the winner of this scene is the jet ski, which bucked these two idiots off in a desperate bid for freedom. Float free, little jet ski. Your day will come.

There's a section break, and we're in the first class lounge at Heathrow, waiting for their flight home. I thought this guy had a plane? Plus, if someone is trying to kill him, isn't he endangering the lives of everyone on board? He's already had one instance of airborne sabotage.

In any case, because this is the most boring book in the history of boring books, we get to wait with them for their flight while they talk some more about the arson. For real. It's like the bottom of one page, top of the next, and it's all just waiting in the airport and talking about how Christian is going to have Welch's balls if he doesn't get to the bottom of the whole thing. Then there's another section break, and they're home, and totally exhausted.
I am so tired. Travelling is exhausting, even in first class. We've been up for more than eighteen hours straight.
Very soon, Google image search results for my name will be just pictures of me flipping off this book.

Oh wow, that must be so terrible to stay up for eighteen whole hours in a row. That must be unbearable. That's like getting only six hours of sleep a night, how could you possibly do that? Do bodies even work that way? Never mind the fact that some people, like writers and parents and parents who are writers are lucky to get a full six hours. It must be terrible to have to stay up for such a long, uninterrupted block of time. Poor Ana.

Of course, it could have been longer, as she reminds us that in her "fatigue" she may have miscounted the hours. You guys. She could have been totally awake (except for the fact that Christian is waking her up in the car at the beginning of this section, and the uninterrupted hours of sleep she could have gotten on the flight) for like, twenty whole hours.

Christian picks her up out of the car like a fucking child. No, seriously:
I hear my door open, and Christian is leaning over me. He unbuckles my seat belt and lifts me into his arms, waking me.
So, not only wasn't she awake for the paragraph before this one, but somehow narrating the events to us, but also it's time to put your shoes on, sweetie, we're at Grandma's house.

I'm starting to agree with the pedophile analogy from the first set of recaps.


 Not only does Christian treat Ana like a child, there's also this bullshit:
"Mrs. Grey, I am very pleased to announce that you've put on some weight."
So, look, we all know she's pregnant. It happened in Twilight, so it's going to happen in here, too. But there are better ways to foreshadow that your heroine is pregnant. For example, she could think she had a stomach bug that turned out to be morning sickness, or she could get really busy with work and lose track of when her last period was. You know what's not a good way for your heroine to notice she's pregnant? By having the hero call her fat, when he's completely aware that she's got fucking food issues that he pretends to care about all the fucking time.
"What do you mean I've put on weight?" I glare at Christian. His grin broadens, and he clasps me closer to his chest as he carries me across the lobby.
"Not much," he assures me, but his face darkens.
"What is it?" I try to keep the alarm in my voice under control.
"You've put on some of the weight you lost when you left me," he says quietly as he summons the elevator.
Oh, that's right, guys. Remember how dangerously thin Ana got in the five whole days she and Christian were broken up in book two? And lest we forget that Ana is suffering from anorexia nervosa with a heaping side of a narcissistic personality disorder,  she just described how hot her body is now two chapters ago. So, not only does it take next to no time for her to lose enough weight that people grow concerned about it, she also can gain weight and look totally hot. She's the perfect woman, we all lose, pack it up and go home everyone.

Christian tells Ana how happy she's made him, and she responds:
"Even though I'm fat?"
And he reassures her with:
"Even though you're fat."
Ah, romance. I hope there is time in this chapter to show her not eating, so he can tell her to eat, and then call her fat again, because I haven't had anything really great to talk about in my therapy appointments lately.

Even though Ana is a land whale, they decide to have sex. I don't know how they manage, what with Christian choking back his revulsion at bedding his fat wife, and Ana barely able to stay awake after a full eighteen fucking hours of consciousness broken up only by travel-induced naps, but the important thing is, we don't have to read a fucking word of boring sex because it goes right to a section break and we pick up the next morning. Of course he's still asleep, so Ana gets a chance to watch him and rehash all the fucking boring stuff we've already heard over and over again for the last two books:
So much has happened in the last three weeks - who am I kidding, the last three months - that I feel that my feet haven't touched the ground. And now here I am, Mrs. Christian Grey, married to the most delicious, sexy, philanthropic, absurdly wealthy mogul a woman could meet. How did this all happen so fast?
He bought you, like he buys everything he wants. And when he gets bored with you, you'll go into storage beside his glider and his broken helicopter and all the other stuff he used to like to ride. Congratulations on making the shitty life choices everyone tried to help you avoid.

Ana thinks about how crazy it is that she's going to have to go back to work in the real world and spend time away from Christian, because it's totally normal and healthy to want to be with another person nonstop without a break every moment of every day:
One would think that spending so much time together would be suffocating, but that's just not the case. I've loved each and every minute, even our fighting. Every minute... except the news of the fire at Grey House.
I honestly can't remember, can someone who has the poor fortune of owning these books on an e-reader do a search of them and tell me if his building has ever before been referred to as Grey House? It's possible that the mind-wiping procedure I had done to try and Eternal Sunshine these books out of my head wasn't entirely successful, but it definitely removed that detail.
My blood chills. Who could want to harm Christian?

Someone in his business? An ex? A disgruntled employee?
Someone who met him once, a person who has read this book, perhaps? How many people could possibly want to fucking murder this guy? EVERYONE.

Ana eventually stares at Christian so hard that he wakes up, and then they have sex. It's off screen, though, so we can tag along with them to lunch at Christian's parents' house. It's a lunch in their honor, to celebrate them coming back from their honeymoon. Christian and Ana are driving in the R8, and Ana feels pregnant out of sorts, so she picks a fight by asking if he would ever let her drive his precious Audi. His response is actually playful, instead of horrified:
"Of course," Christian replies, smiling. "What's mine is yours. If you dent it, though, I will take you into the Red Room of Pain." He glances swiftly at me with a malicious grin.
Shit! I gape at him. Is this a joke?
So, Ana can't tell if he's joking or not, probably owing to Battered Woman Syndrome, but she appears to be in on the whole thing when she says:
"You're kidding. You'd punish me for denting your car? You love your car more than you love me?" I tease.
So, she's teasing him... that makes her in on the joke, right?
"It's close," he says and reaches across to squeeze my knee. "But she doesn't keep me warm at night."
"I'm sure it could be arranged. You could sleep in her," I snap.
Okay, so wait, a minute ago you were teasing him, but now you're offended?
I gaze at him and he gives me a face-splitting grin, and although I want to be mad at him, it's impossible when he's in this kind of mood. Now that I think about it, he's been in a better frame of mind ever since he left his study this morning. And it dawns on me that I'm being petulant because we have to go back to reality, and I don't know if he's going to revert to the more closed pre-honeymoon Christian, or if I'll get to keep the new improved version.
This entire scene in the car completely baffled me, and not in the cracked.com use of the word. Like, this entire exchange was legitimately confusing. At first, Ana is playfully teasing Chedward. Then, he gets in on the fun, and she gets mad. I was trying to figure out how this all fit into the dynamic of an abusive relationship. And then I remembered I wasn't reading a book that depicted an abusive relationship on purpose, so it's likely just bad writing. And then I realized what the real problem is:
"I'm kidding, Christian," I mutter quickly, not wanting to kill his mood. It strikes me how unsure he is of himself sometimes. I suspect that he's always been like this, but has just hidden his uncertainty beneath an intimidating exterior. He's very easy to tease, probably because he's not used to it. It's a revelation, and I marvel again that we still have so much to learn about each other.
You guys. They don't even like each other. They are totally incompatible. They do not belong together. They're just two Barbies being smashed together and made to kiss. When we're not watching, they're just two actors without any chemistry pretending to be in love in a bad soap opera.

I have cracked the code.

At the Chevalier-Trevylan-Grey Manse, Carrick is grilling burgers in a stereotypical goofy dad uniform, and Ana is in a better mood until someone mentions a woman who isn't her:
"Gia is due to come over to discuss the plans tomorrow evening," replies Christian. "I hope we can finalize everything then." He turns and looks expectantly at me.
Oh... this is news.
"Sure." I smile at him, mostly for the benefit of his family, but my spirits take a nosedive again. Why does he make these decisions without telling me? Or is it the thought of Gia - all lush hips, full breasts, expensive designer clothes, and perfume - smiling too provocatively at my husband? My subconscious glares at me. He's given you no reason to be jealous. Shit, I am up and down today. What's wrong with me?
You're pregnant. Also, I love the assertion that Christian has given her no reason to be jealous. For most of their very short relationship, he's remained friends with an ex who openly admitted to trying to sabotage his love life. He keeps pictures of all the other women he's fucked. He gave his ex-sub a bath in Ana's tub, hell, he probably used her loofa to exfoliate Leila' poor, crazy feet. There are all sorts of reasons for her to not trust him, but the biggest one is that he doesn't trust her.

On the other hand, what are the chances that Ana has communicated anything about Gia to Christian? Slim to none, I would wager.

Everyone toasts the happy couple for their safe return, and Mia quickly slips in:
"And congratulations to Ethan for getting into the psych program at Seattle,"
That's right. Kate's brother got into a good school, but everyone is celebrating these two idiots managing to not drown themselves on their honeymoon. I mean, even Kate doesn't bring it up, Mia is the one who has to remind everyone, "Hey, someone at this table actually achieved something of measurable value." Jesus Christ, these people are horrible.

Ana sits sullenly through the meal:
I pick at my food. Christian said I was fat yesterday.
Do we really need further proof that she has an eating disorder?
Elliot accidentally knocks his glass onto the terrace, startling everyone, and there's a sudden flurry of activity to get it cleaned up.
I was honestly expecting Ana to be involved in that flurry. Then she could cut herself and Jasper Ethan could try to eat her.

Christian uses the distraction to warn Ana that if she doesn't knock off her snotty attitude, he's going to take her to the boathouse to spank her. And this makes her feel better, because apparently she lives in a never-ending state of subdrop that can only be cured by being treated like shit? I don't know, I've seriously given up trying to make sense of this shit as though their relationship were happening between two actual people and not their cardboard cut-out stand-ins.

After dinner, they go inside and Christian plays piano and sings, and everyone gets all flustered because oh my god, they've never heard Christian sing before. It's this big, dramatic moment that I think is supposed to show the reader that he's made all this progress, but he's really just singing a shitty pop song, and nothing about him or his psyche have really changed. It's another moment of false tension, false plot. His mom hugs Ana and cries, because that's all Grace does. If you open up her day planner, it's like this:

  • 8:15PM marvel at Christian.
  • 8:16PM cry and hug Ana
  • 8:17PM say something crediting Ana with saving my son, even though I'm the one who adopted him and raised him and shit.
  • 8:19PM ignore the fact that my son is still waaaaay fucked up.
They leave the Grey compound to head back home, and Christian offers to let Ana drive with this stunning vote of confidence:
"Here." Christian throws me the keys to the R8. "Don't bend it" - he ads in all seriousness - "or I will be fucking pissed."
So, no pressure. Which is good, because Ana needs to be relaxed and at ease for THE MOST NEEDLESS AND BORING CAR CHASE OF ALL TIME.

Where do I start criticizing the car chase? First of all, it's too goddamned long. It starts on page 96 - and this is trade-sized, not mass-market - and goes all the way to page 102. They realize they're being followed by a Dodge with false license plates. How do they realize this? Oh, because their security detail is in an SUV behind them.

That's right. This is a big, scary, freak out scene with a safety net, because if the "unsub" (as security refers to him throughout the sequence) does catch up with them, they have an SUV full of security guards right behind them. Immediately, this destroys the tension. It's also kind of odd, because there is no mention of the security detail at all in this chapter until the chase is underway. It's almost as if E.L. began writing the scene, thought, "You know, someone might wonder why they went somewhere without their ever-present security. I should put them into this scene," without realizing that once your hero and heroine are backed up by people who can easily step in and save them, the tension is gone. They're not in any real danger.

Well, at least, they're not until Ana starts trying to outrun this Dodge. Except, we're not sure what kind of Dodge it is. Is it a Dodge Dart? A Dodge Ram? A Dodge Charger? Dodge makes an insanely varied range of models. Some of them could keep up with an Audi R8, but without knowing which one is chasing them, the whole scene, again, feels like there isn't much tension there. The first thought I had was that there was a guy chasing them in a Dodge Neon, and I thought to myself, "Oh, well, they should be fine. The Neon was mostly styrofoam and shook like it was going to come apart if you got it over 80 m.p.h."

Author abandons continuity from the first book:
I touch eighty-five. I don't think I have ever driven this fast. I was lucky if my Beetle ever hit fifty miles an hour.
She drove Kate's Mercedes pretty fast on her way back from interviewing Christian Grey.

Ana does the driving for the chase, by default since she's behind the wheel. But Christian and Sawyer (in the SUV) feed her information like this is a goddamn NASCAR race. At one point, Christian says:
"Where are the cops when you need them?"
Why not call them? Oh, that's right, because staying on the cell to your security, who are following the follower, is more important.

Because they're being chased, the obvious thing to do is to head straight home, so the pursuer will know where they live. They don't go into the underground garage, though, they pull into a parking lot near the building and fuck. No, I'm not kidding. First, Ana has to wipe her nose on fucking everything in car, though:
I wipe my nose on the back of my hand and take a deep steadying breath.
"Use my shirt." Christian kisses my temple.
"Sorry," I mutter, embarrassed by my crying.
"What for? Don't be."
I wipe my nose again. He tips my chin up and plants a gentle kiss on my lips. "Your lips are so soft when you cry, my beautiful, brave girl," he whispers.
Then, without any hand sanitizer or anything, they just start banging. Leaving aside the creepiness of complimenting how sexy your wife is when she's crying because she was just the driver in a high-speed car chase, GET SOME FUCKING KLEENEX AND PUT IT IN THE FUCKING CAR. Seriously, the infantilization of Ana is gross at the best of times, but it's especially disgusting when it involves wiping her snot on her hands like a fucking four-year-old.

What's worse is, they get right to the making out and intercourse in the car. Seriously, there is now snot on everything. Is this another of Chedward's fetishes? Or are we supposed to believe that they're both so turned on and hot for each other that snot doesn't matter? Because I can't imagine any situation, not even a high speed car chase, in which I would be such an emotional wreck that I could move from snot to sex without a stop at wash your hands junction for a track change.

I won't excerpt the car sex, because it's basically the same thing from every other scene, but this time in a car. Then they get out and call Sawyer for information on the person who was following them.
"Her?" he gasps. "Stick with her." Christian hangs up and gazes at me.
Her! The driver of the car? Who could that be - Elena? Leila?
"The driver of the Dodge is female?"
"So it would appear," he says quietly.
Is this an elaborate set up for a joke about female drivers? Because if so, I'm not impressed.

Christian drives the car to the Escala, while Ana asks questions about Sawyer and tries to initiate road head or something by feeling up Chedward through his jeans. Apparently, Sawyer is ex-FBI. Considering what we've seen of Christian's bang up security operation, I think I know why Sawyer is ex-FBI. If you know what I'm saying.

I'm saying Christian's security people are incompetent. Is what I'm saying.

I mean, they don't even ride in the same car as the bodies they're supposed to be guarding.

Juuuuuuust saying.

When they get into the parking garage at Escala, Christian suggests they should have sex again, this time over the hood of the car. But then they are smacked by the mighty hammer of foreshadowing, when a BMW drives in and this guy gets out:
He's young, casually dressed, with long, layered dark hair. He looks like he works in the media.
What, like, he's got a face for radio? Could you make that more of a broad generalization for us, E.L.? "He looked like he had a job doing something." I mean, I still kind of get a sense of this person being a human male, are you sure you don't want to be less specific in your description?

The guy introduces himself as Noah Logan, a new neighbor.
Noah flushes a little as he gazes at me a fraction too long. I mirror his flush and Christian's arm tightens around me.

Christian is not psyched to meet Noah, and says he would prefer not to know the other people who live in the building. Which is, you know, totally safe, because if someone is trying to kill you, you definitely don't want to know who is and isn't supposed to be coming in and out of your building. The guy got on the elevator with them and asked a bunch of questions. What floor do you live on, how do you like the building, and he also drops the bombshell that he just moved in. Ana calls Christian a hermit:
"Hermit. Stuck in your ivory tower," I state matter-of-factly.
You know those hermits. Always living in ivory towers.

Swanky!

Sawyer is waiting for them in the apartment when they get there. So, you know. Thank god he's safe. Christian says he wants to be debriefed by security in an hour. Why an hour? Because he has to go have rough sex with Ana.

No. Seriously. He's going to make his security team wait around for an hour to tell him some shit they already told him on the phone while he goes and has rough sex with Ana.

This is the bestselling book of all time.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why do I keep doing this to myself, and by extension, to you guys?!

So, as you are probably already aware, I try to post my 50 Shades posts on Monday or Tuesday. Because it starts the week off right. But stuff keeps derailing me, like yesterday's combination snow day/neck injury-a-thon that laid me flat on the couch with screaming children swarming around me. I didn't get the recap finished, hell, I didn't even get the chapter annotated all the way. I thought, "No big, I'll just post it on Wednesday."

Well, shit, Jenny. Do you even know what Wednesday is? That's right. Wednesday is the 30th, aka, the day chapter 2 of The Boss comes out. If I posted a recap on the same day, the posts would be in direct competition with each other, and I happen to know that the recaps? Are big time hair pullers.

Instead, I'm posting chapter two of The Boss a day early, and you'll get your recap tomorrow. If you're not reading The Boss, then you have no one to blame but yourself for your disappointment at this announcement.

You can read chapter two here, and chapter one as well, if you're not caught up. And the recap will be out tomorrow, barring anymore bulging discs or bad weather that traps me with my children.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Roadhouse episode 15.5 "Wednesday talks about Buffy"



My daughter talks about Buffy. Well, actually, she mostly talks about Harmony and her unicorns and posters.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

50 Shades Freed chapter 4 recap, or "Tickle Me Chedward"

While I was dying from the flu, a lot of people sent me the link to the story about Alisa Valdes and her anti-feminist memoir. But all I'm going to say on the subject is that I'm very sorry she had to go through an abusive relationship, but I don't feel she's owed anyone's forgiveness or understanding for continuing to promote and profit off a book glorifying abuse and denouncing feminism, especially when her comments about her current boyfriend writing her abuser a thank you note show that she doesn't seem to really grasp why her book is dangerous. If you want a Cliffs Notes version, here's the Jezebel article about it. For the record, you cannot spank feminism out of a woman, no matter how erotic you think you can make it.

In funnier news, Amanda sent me this comic, that illustrates the phases of reading 50 Shades of Grey that we're all so, unfortunately, familiar with.

Meanwhile, Genevieve Burgess imagines a confrontation between evil!blonde hater Ana and evil!brunette hater Taylor Swift at her blog.

We last left Christian and Ana on the honeymoon that will never end. I hope you guys enjoy the boat, because we're still. fucking. on it.
I'm restless. Christian has been holed up in the onboard study for over an hour. I have tried reading, watching TV, sunbathing - fully dressed sunbathing - but I can't relax, and I can't rid myself of this edgy feeling.
How does "fully dressed sunbathing" work? Do your clothes soak up all the vitamin D? Granted, it is better for your skin, and I think Ana mentioned before that she's pale, so maybe fully dressed is the way to go.

Ana goes to find Taylor, because she's bored. Don't get your hopes up, she just wants to go shopping, and she wants to ride the Jet Ski. Taylor is reading an Anthony Burgess novel, which is absurd. Taylor is obviously an Ian Fleming guy. Taylor tells Ana that "Mr. Grey" wouldn't be comfortable with her taking the Jet Ski.
Oh, for heaven's sake! I want to roll my eyes at him, but I narrow them instead, sighing heavily and expressing, I think, the right amount of frustrated indignation that I am not mistress of my own destiny.
You have never been mistress of your own destiny, Ana. For this entire series, all you've done is get pushed around by one person or another. The only real decisions we've seen you make are when you took the job at SIP, which your boyfriend then bought, and when you're buying a present for Christian. Or choosing which outfit you're going to wear, but it's from clothes Christian bought you.

Ana finds Christian in the onboard study, dealing with the fallout from his office fire.
Shit. Why do I feel like I've entered the principal's office? This man had me in handcuffs yesterday. I refuse to be intimidated by him, he's my husband, damn it.
The first time I read that excerpt, I was like, "Wait... what kind of schools do they have in the UK?!" Then I reread it and I was like, "Ohhh... she's saying she SHOULDN'T feel like she's in the principal's office BECAUSE of the handcuffs. Got it. So, sixty-one pages into the third book, I finally got a moment of enjoyment out of this series, and then only because my reading comprehension wasn't the best and I imagined, briefly, that schools in the UK routinely employed handcuffs for discipline and how great that would be if we did that here.
"I'm going shopping. I'll take security with me."
"Sure, take one of the twins and Taylor, too," he says, and I know that whatever's happening is serious because he doesn't question me further.
Uh, did you think she was going to take the other security, Chedward? Because all we've heard about are Taylor and the twins.

Seriously, the references to "the twins" is messing my head up, because I'm reading A Dance with Dragons right now, and there's a castle/bridge set up known as the twins that is constantly referenced in that series. All I see now, when someone mentions "The Twins" in that book are the guys from the Matrix.

Like this, but on wave runners with Chedward.

Ana decides that since Christian is her husband, she can kiss him without asking permission first. Yes, she actually goes through this line of reasoning for us on the page. His response:
"You're distracting me. I need to sort this out, so I can get back to my honeymoon." He runs an index finger down my face and caresses my chin, tilting my face up.
There was a fire at your business. There, sorted it out for you. What needs sorting out? "Hey boss, there was a fire, it's out now, we're handling it." Either go back to your honeymoon, or go home and go to work. These are your options. Trying to micromanage shit from a boat is probably not going to achieve the results you're looking for.

Ana's subconscious reminds her that she never mentioned taking the jet ski, and Ana calls her a harpy. I don't understand why Ana's subconscious is suddenly worried about this. The way it's been set up so far, the subconscious seems pretty anti-Chedward. Shouldn't her inner goddess be the one whinging about making Chedward mad? Or is she too busy being passed out from amazing sex on top of a pile of dirty romance novels? Which stereotype are we supposed to be siding with here? It seems to me that Ana's subconscious - if this were a book with anything even remotely close to consistent characterization - would be saying, "Ana, you are twenty-two years old, you don't need permission to ride a jet ski."
Taylor patiently talks me through the controls on the Jet Ski and how to ride it. He has a calm, gentle authority about him; he's a good teacher.
Mmmm, I bet he is.

Oh my gosh, guess what happened while I was ill? My husband comes in from getting the mail and he says, "It's Christmas for Jen," and drops this on my keyboard:

 I bet you are, Jason. I bet you are.

So, Ana learns how to drive a jet ski. Reading the description of Ana learning to drive a jet ski takes longer than actually learning how to drive a jet ski, in case you were wondering. Also, Ana manages to stall the damn thing somehow, leaving my cousin D-Rock to wonder, "How fucking stupid do you have to be to stall a jet ski?" No, she hasn't read these books yet.

Anyway, Ana manages to get the jet ski going, and she goes zipping around the harbor a little bit. Man, as a boater, there is nothing I like more than inexperienced people flying around on jet skis. That is the best.
This rocks! No wonder Christian never lets me drive.
"Wow, this is really fun! I totally understand why the guy who is supposed to love me would want to prevent me from having this kind of fun!" Congratulations, your new husband is even more of a selfish dick than you thought.
Rather than head for the shore and curtail the fun, I veer around to do a circuit of the stately Fair Lady. Wow - this is so much fun. I ignore Taylor and the crew behind me and speed around the yacht for a second time. As I complete the circuit, I spot Christian on deck. I think he's gaping at me, though it's difficult to tell. Bravely, I lift one hand from the handlebars and wave enthusiastically at him.
Bravely, guys. She bravely waves at her husband, knowing that he's angry because she's riding a jet ski. She's practically Norma Rae here.


Ana rides the jet ski to the dock. Gaston and Taylor arrive behind her:
His expression is bleak, and my heart sinks, though Gaston looks vaguely amused. I wonder briefly if something has happened to chill Gallic-American relations, but deep down I suspect the problem is probably me.
Are you sure it's something you did, Ana? Because you just made your brave aquatic stand, I'm thinking yeah, that might have something to do with the mood. Sure enough:
"Mrs. Grey," Taylor says nervously, his cheeks pink once more. "Mr. Grey is not entirely comfortable with you riding on the Jet Ski." He's practically squirming with embarrassment, and I realize he's had an irate call from Christian.
Is Taylor a bodyguard, or a babysitter? Because I think Christian is getting those two roles mixed up.

Hey, um, you might want to do a shot of something or take a handful of pills before this next excerpt. A cuddly kitten will be provided to help control your rage, afterward, but I just want you to be prepared.
I cannot believe how fond I am of Taylor, but I really don't appreciate being scolded by him - he's not my father or my husband.

Are we feeling calm again? Good. Because I'm about to lose my shit in an epic way.


I know for a fucking FACT that there is some dumbass out there going, "OMG ANA IS SUCH A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER BECAUSE SHE WON'T LET SOME MAN BOSS HER AROUND UNLESS IT'S HER DAD OR HER HUSBAND WHO, BY RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP, AR THE ONLY MEN ALLOWED TO DO THAT! WHOO FEMINISM!" And when I find that woman, I will scream "NO!" into her face as loudly as I can, until I burst every vessel in my face and blood boils from ruined eyes in my blinding rage.

Newsflash, Ana, EVEN YOUR FATHER AND YOUR HUSBAND DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO CONTROL YOU.

Newsflash E.L. WOMEN ARE NOT FUCKING PROPERTY AND I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU THAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS.

But wait! There's more!
I sigh. Christian's mad - and he has enough to worry about at the moment. What was I thinking? As I stand on the dock waiting for Taylor to climb up, I feel my BlackBerry vibrate in my purse and fish it out. Sade's, "Your Love Is King" is my ringtone for Christian - only for Christian.
FUCK YOU.  Christian is obviously not that busy with work, or else he wouldn't have come up on deck to spy on you, allegedly for your own good. "Your Love Is King?" That doesn't mean that he's literally your lord and sovereign. The fact that you want him to be? Means you're a fucking idiot, and I hope you drown. Also, the "I sigh" part was italicized. Meaning Ana's internal thought included, "I sigh?" What? How is this even happening? Why are other writers not committing suicide in droves after having read this piece of shit? This book is like proof that world is bad and people are too stupid to know what's good for them.

At this point, I accidentally spilled coffee on the book, and I swear to Christ, I felt bad for the spilled coffee, that it now has to be a part of this mess.

Ana verbally prostrates herself before Chedward via phone, telling him that she won't ride the jet ski again, even though it was fun.
He sighs. "Well, far be it from me to curtail your fun, Mrs. Grey. Just be careful. Please."
Oh my! Permission to have fun!
I wish both of you were dead. Also, the phrase "curtail your/the fun" was used just a page ago. I guess there was a gas leak in the copy editor's office, then?

Ana gets in the car and sets out to go shopping. At no point in this whole "riding a jet ski" thing did her shoes or clothes get wet? I'm sorry, but I've been on my fair share of jet skis. It's not a dry activity. I mean, you can avoid getting totally soaked, but her shoes at the very least would be sopping. At least that will account for all the icy stares the evil!blonde shop assistants will be giving her.

Hey, ever notice how the evil!blondes looking askance at her in businesses are always like, the shop assistants? Not managers or owners? Probably because they've got vaginas, amirite?

Once she's out shopping, Ana remembers that she hates shopping, and refuses to go to all the fancy stores, opting instead for some place touristy, where she buys a five euro bracelet.
This is me - this is what I like. Immediately I feel more comfortable. I don't want to lose touch with the girl who likes this, ever. Deep down I know that I'm not only overwhelmed by Christian himself but also by his wealth. Will I ever get used to it?
Boy, I hope this entire fucking book is about how hard it is to be rich and what a terrible burden that is to bear. I mean, I'm struggling to keep food in the cupboards, but tell me, fictional character, how you don't ever want to lose touch with the simplistic side of yourself that drove your rich roommate's Mercedes and never had to pay rent a day in your life. I can see why  your integrity and fiscal humility are so important to you.

Ana thinks she needs to get Christian something to take his mind off the fire at his office. Here's a souvenir keychain, sorry your job burned? Yeah, that should work.
When I spy an electronics store, our visit to the gallery earlier today and our visit to the Louvre come back to me. We were looking at the Venus de Milo at the time... Christian's words echo in my head, "We can all appreciate the female form. We love to look whether in marble or oils or satin or film."
It gives me an idea, a daring idea. I just need help choosing the right one, and there's only one person who can help me. I wrestle my BlackBerry out of my purse and call Jose.
"Who...?" he mumbles sleepily.
"Jose, it's Ana."
"Ana, hi! Where are you? You okay?" he sounds more alert now, concerned.
"I'm in Cannes in the South of France, and I'm fine."
"South of France, huh? You in some fancy hotel?"
"Um... no. We're staying on a boat."
"A boat?"
"A big boat," I clarify, sighing.
"I see." His tone chills... Shit I should not have called him. I don't need this right now.
Further evidence that Ana is a shitty, selfish friend (as if we needed more): upon ignoring time zones and calling her friend on the west coast of the United States, a full TEN HOURS behind, wakes him up, and sighs at his confusion when she said "boat" instead of "yacht," she's mad at HIM for the way he reacts to her doing all this. But she still asks for his advice. I'm relieved it was just advice, I was worried she would call him and be like, "Get on a plane and get here immediately to take naked photos of me so my husband can have you murdered."

After a paragraph break, Ana is back on the boat, wrapping Christian's present. Raise your hand if you've ever taken wrapping paper, tape, and scissors on vacation with you. That's what I thought.
"You were gone some time." Christian startles me just as I am applying the last piece of tape. I turn to find him standing in the doorway to the cabin, watching me intently. Am I still in trouble over the Jet Ski? Or is it the fire at his office?
Why, did you set the fire at his office? I would like you better if you did, Ana. You can tell me, you are among friends.

Ana gives Christian the gift, which is a camera. It is also the emblem of all of Ana's insecurities:
"Today in the gallery you liked the Florence D'elle photographs. And I remember what you said in the Louvre. And, of course, there were those other photographs." I swallow, trying my best not to recall the images I found in his closet.
So, this is less about hot erotic sexy times, and more about trying to erase Christian's sexual past. That's healthy. Christian asks Ana why she thinks he'd want to take naked pictures of her, which, let's be honest, isn't the most reassuring thing a dude could ask you when you've just offered to let him take naked pictures of you. But at least Chedward has a good reason for asking:
"For me, photos like those have usually been an insurance policy, Ana. I know I've objectified women for so long," he says and pauses awkwardly.
Leaving aside how stupid it is to have such an insurance policy - "How dare you tell people I like kinky sex! I have no choice but to release these photos of us having kinky sex to defend myself from such spurious allegations!" - he's not really owning up to the objectifying being bad here. He just doesn't want to objectify Ana, because she's his wife, and the theme of this book seems to be, "it doesn't matter what the man you love did to all those other whores, he's not going to do it to you because you're pure and virginal and good, and the power of love makes you special and not a whore." So, Genevieve's Taylor Swift comparison is starting to make more sense all the time.
"I am so confused," he whispers. When he opens his eyes again, they are wide and wary, full of some raw emotion.
Shit. Is it me? My questions earlier about his birth mom? The fire at his office?
OH WAS THERE A FIRE AT HIS OFFICE I HADN'T HEARD UNTIL JUST RIGHT NOW ABOUT THE FIRE THAT HAPPENED AT HIS OFFICE WHEN HIS OFFICE WAS ON FIRE DURING THE FIRE AT HIS OFFICE WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?
"Why do you say that?" I whisper, panic rising in my throat. I thought he was happy. I thought we were happy. I thought I made him happy. I don't want to confuse him. Do I? My mind starts racing. He hasn't seen Flynn in nearly three weeks. Is that it? Is that the reason he's unraveling? Shit, should I call Flynn? And in a possibly unique moment of extraordinary depth and clarity, it comes to me - the fire, Charlie Tango, the Jet Ski... He's scared, he's scared for me, and seeing these marks on my skin must bring that home. He's been fussing about them all day, confusing himself because he's not used to feeling uncomfortable about inflicting pain. The thought chills me.
Damnit, I still have to finish this book, and now it's going to smell like a goddamn campfire.

Ana. You don't realize this, because you're the victim of abuse, but CHRISTIAN SHOULD FEEL BAD ABOUT YOUR BRUISES BECAUSE HE'S THE ONE WHO PUT THE BRUISES ON YOU. REMEMBER HOW MAD YOU WERE ABOUT THEM?!
"Christian, these don't matter." I hold up my wrist, revealing the fading welt. "You gave me a safeword. Shit - yesterday was fun. I enjoyed it. Stop brooding about it - I like rough sex, I've told you that before."
Oh. So. No, you don't remember.

Here's the thing. Safewords only work if you know what's going on in the situation. She didn't know he was leaving bruises. It isn't unreasonable to ask that a partner not leave marks on you during a BDSM encounter, okay? Some people bruise more easily than others, and sometimes shit happens by accident, but what he did to Ana was on purpose, specifically to disfigure her so she couldn't display her body/his property, and she did not want him to do it. That's not a part of BDSM or rough sex. That's a part of fucking abuse. Mark up your sub all you want, so long as it's clear that s/he isn't going to mind it. That shouldn't be difficult for the guy who wanted all their sexual activity documented in triplicate before they could even vanilla bang.

Ana decides that if he won't objectify her, she'll objectify him, so she starts taking silly pictures of him:
"Well, it was supposed to be fun, but apparently it's a symbol of women's oppression." I snap away, taking more pictures of him, and watch the amusement grow on his face in super close-up. Then his eyes darken, and his expression changes to predatory.
"You want to be oppressed?" he murmurs silkily.
"Not oppressed. No," I murmur back, snapping again.
"I could oppress you big-time, Mrs. Grey," he threatens, his voice husky.
You mean besides using her sexual inexperience to exploit her, rushing her through all the pesky steps of a normal relationship so she's legally bound to you before she has a chance to think things through, and physically abusing her to keep her in line with your control freak behavior? Is there anything left to oppress her with? Do you want to sabotage her birth control, too?

So, because joking about how silly feminism is gets them hot, Christian starts tickling Ana, and then it turns into sex. Because everything turns into sex with these idiots:
I stare up at his dear, dear face bathed in the intensity of his gaze, and it's as if he's seeing me for the first time.
Then Christian kisses her, and he's all, "'Oh, what you do to me,'" because he hasn't said that in this book yet. He gets them quickly bottomless, and then:
He holds my head and with no preamble whatsoever he thrusts himself inside me, making me cry out - more in surprise than anything else - but I can still hear the hiss of his breath forced through his clenched teeth.
I was about to say, "That would hurt both of them," but then I remembered that Ana has an ever ready, autolube vagina. And then she has the biggest orgasm ever, blah blah blah, we've read this before. Then Ana asks him what's wrong, and when he won't talk, she starts reciting their wedding vows to make the point that he needs to communicate with her. Then, he starts reciting their wedding vows back at her:
"I promise to love you faithfully, forsaking all others, through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health, regardless of where life takes us. I will protect you, trust you, and respect you.[...]"
There's more to those vows, but I just want to point out that already, on their honeymoon, he's broken the protect, trust, and respect part. He didn't even make it a full month before breaking his vows.

Christian tells Ana that the fire at his company was arson, and he's afraid that if they're trying to get him, they'll come after Ana. I like how the first thought isn't, "I bet it's some pissed off ex-employee who was trying to cause trouble after being let go." No, it's, "Someone set fire to the server room while Christian Grey was out of the country, they must be trying to kill him."

Okay, because this book is shitty and stupid, we know that's exactly what's going on, but Jack Hyde needs to get better at murdering. He sat outside Christian's parent's house all night at the end of the last book, he couldn't just, I don't know, top of my head here, bring a gun and shoot him when he left? Instead, he waits for Christian to get married, go out of the country on vacation, and then he sets fire to the server room? How many CEO's spend time in the server room of their company? How many CEOs actually work in the same building as their company's servers? I'm a better assassin than Jack Hyde. I bet I could kill Christian and Ana in a day, day and a half, tops. For starters, my attempt would happen in the place where my targets actually, you know. WERE.

Then they talk about how Christian wasn't tickled as a child or something, and Christian asks where she wants to go eat, and she says she wants to go wherever he does, and I guess they go across the country, because after the section break it says this:
We wander through the opulent, gilt splendor of the eighteenth-century Palace of Versailles. Once a humble hunting lodge, it was transformed by the Roi Soleil into a magnificent, lavish seat of power, but even before the eighteenth century ended it saw the last of those absolute monarchs.
First of all, Versailles and the building Louis XIV did on it dates to the seventeenth century, you ignorant twat. Second, I didn't realize they served fucking lunch there, and it's no where near Cannes, so I guess this is a flashback? Thanks for cluing the reader in, E.L.

It should really speak to the quality of my character that I'm more pissed off about the botched French history in this paragraph than I have been about all of the misrepresentation of BDSM, the glorification of abuse, and the anti-feminism of the entire series combined.
The most stunning room by far is the Hall of Mirrors.
Built during the third building campaign and begun in 1678, completed before the eighteenth century, just a heads up, E.L. and also HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN THE FUCKING CHAPEL? THE MOST STUNNING BY FAR IS THE HALL OF MIRRORS? HAVE YOU NO EEEEEEEEEYYYYYEEEES?!
"Interesting to see what becomes of a despotic megalomaniac who isolates himself in such splendor," I murmur to Christian as he stands at my side.
He dies of gangrene after a long and prosperous reign in which France sees sweeping technological and industrial reform? BECAUSE YOU'RE THINKING OF THE WRONG KING ANA.
"I would build this for you," he whispers. "Just to see the way the light burnishes your hair, right here, right now." He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. "You look like an angel."
And then he buys Versailles for her.

Totally kidding. But couldn't you see it going down that way? Nothing else in this book is believable or correct, why shouldn't he just write a check and give Ana Versailles?

There's another section break, and then they're actually at lunch. Christian asks Ana what she's thinking about, and she says she's thinking about Versailles, so I guess that was a flashback. For no reason, by the way, except to set up a "nightmare" Ana has later. Seriously. Nothing earth shattering happened at Versailles (well, to Ana and Christian, at least), but because it's a cool setting for a nightmare, we had to endure that flashback full of historical misinformation about one of my absolute favorite monarchies in European history. It's like this book was written as a direct slap in my beautiful, beautiful face.

Ana decides to catch up on her emails:
There are e-mails from my mom and from Kate, giving me the latest gossip from home and asking how the honeymoon is going. Well, great, until someone decided to burn down GEH, Inc....
I love that the abbreviation for Christian's company is phonetically the exact sound I make every time I turn a page of this POS.

Kate has sent her an email asking about the fire:
Kate is online! I jump onto my newfound toy - Skype messaging - and see that she's available.
I will never understand people who use Skype to instant message. I know you're probably out there reading this right now, going, "What's wrong with Skype messager?" but listen. Skype is the technology that has been peddled to us since The Jetsons, and we're using it to IM people? Why not just open up Skype and make a video call? It's not like you can't afford it, Ana.

Kate asks Ana about the fire, and rather than using this conversation to further the plot in any way, we just read about how about no one knows anything still. No new information is revealed, it's just the same shit we already know, but instead of Christian telling it to Ana, it's Ana telling it to Kate. We do learn, however, that Kate knows about the whole D/s aspect to the relationship, because she asks how the "ex-dom" is:
Trust Kate to be on the trail of this story. I roll my eyes and shut Skype down before Christian sees the chat. He wouldn't appreciate the ex-Dom comment, and I'm not sure he's entirely ex...
I sigh loudly. Kate knows everything, since our tipsy evening three weeks before the wedding when I finally succumbed to the Kavanagh inquisition. It was a relief to finally talk to someone.
Ana, you're a shitty friend. Kate expresses concern over the fact that your new husband's business was on fire, and you think she's just out to gossip. You spill the beans about your relationship to her and you acknowledge the fact that you're glad you did, but you blame her for finding out? Fuck you, Ana. You're the worst friend ever and I hope Kate won't participate in the 48 Hours episode they're going to make after Chedward kills you.

There's a section break before Ana's "scary" "nightmare" that we had to get wrong information about Versailles for:
I am in the Hall of Mirrors and Christian is standing beside me, smiling down at me with love and affection. You look like an angel. I beam back at him, but when I glance into the looking glass, I'm standing on my own and the room is gray and drab. No! My head whips back to his face, to find his smile is sad and wistful. He tucks my hair behind my ear. Then he turns wordlessly and walks away slowly, the sound of his footsteps echoing off the mirrors as he paces the enormous room to the ornate double doors at the end... a man on his own, a man with no reflection... and I wake, gasping for air, as panic seizes me.
Jesus Christ, even her nightmares are boring.

Blah blah blah, he's there for her, he soothes her, blah blah, chapter is over.

Jess Haines once dropped her iPhone in a corpse. Also, here is her cover reveal and a giveaway!

So, once upon a time, Jess Haines and I bonded in a cemetery, where she let a stranger drop her cell phone into a corpse.

She probably didn't want me to tell you that story, but what she does want me to do is reveal the cover of her upcoming Forsaken by The Others. Here is the awesome cover:


What's this awesome looking book about? Let's find out, shall we?


The Others--vampires, werewolves, things that go chomp in the night--don't just live in nightmares anymore. They've joined with he mortal world. And for private investigator Shiarra Waynest, that means mayhem...

Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head...and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town--namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who'd like to turn her into a chew toy.

On Royce's suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten--literally--in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them--and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge...

So, do you want to win this book? Of course you do. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out other stuff about Jess and get more chances to win on her blog!

Yesterday, my home country swore in its 44th president for his second term. Because a president's term of office always ends at noon on January 20th (because this government is nothing if not inconsistent about the importance of setting specific dates for important shit - our presidential elections don't have a set date, but are always on the Tuesday that falls between November 2nd and November 8th), Obama was actually sworn in yesterday, but since we do all of our official government shit on Mondays, he gets sworn in twice. He'll actually be the only president to ever be sworn in four times for two terms, because last time he was inaugurated, the dude who swore him in botched it and they had to do it over the next day.

But you know what's really cool about the second swearing in and the inauguration festivities happening today? One of the floating holidays here in America is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's beyond fair to say that without the work of Dr. King, Barack Obama would not be president, so I thought it was so cool when Allison Morris got in touch with me and asked me to take a look at an infographic she helped create. I thought it would be awesome and appropriate to share it with you guys today (from http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/life-of-mlk):

MLK Infographic

So, thanks, Allison, for sharing this with us!

I also want to take this opportunity to point out that many public schools don't close on this day, and people like John McCain and Ronald Reagan were at one time opposed to this holiday. There are people in the United States vehemently opposed to honoring the sacrifices of a civil rights leaders, but the majority of people still somehow support Columbus day, when we honor the legacy of slavery and genocide that Christopher Columbus left us when he "discovered" America.

Juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust

sayin'.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Are you reading THE BOSS? Do you want to talk to other readers?

The lovely Vampbard and Jen from That's What I'm Talking About are hosting a read-a-long of the boss! The Saturday after a chapter posts, they'll be hosting discussion about it. You can ask questions and chat with other readers, it's like a book club but you don't have to put on pants or leave your house for it!

The first post is live now, so have a look. You can find it here!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Roadhouse Cancelled Due To Illness

Don't worry! We'll have part 2 of our Jossverse discussion next week. I was just way too shitty feeling to do literally anything this week. So instead, look at this cute person I incubated, singing "Still Alive" from Portal at his school assembly:


I'm just about out of the woods with this devil disease, and everything should be back to normal with a recap on Monday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This is the spot where a recap usually goes...

...but I'm sick. Like, the kind of sick that makes you hate everything except blankets. The kind of sick that makes you yell at your dog and burst into tears because you feel bad for doing so. So, the recap is delayed until all that is over. Because if I gave it to you right now, it would be like:
"Something stupid," I said, doing something stupid and gazing stupidly at Chedward.
Uuuuuuuuurgh why are the kleenexes all the way over there? You guys, PITY ME.

And no one wants that. I'm going to take a handful of expired prenatal vitamins, because I'm a mature and responsible adult who only tries to prevent getting sick after I'm sick, and probably do a lot of fetal-position crying. As soon as people stop holding up crosses at the sight of my pale, sickly face, I'll have a recap for you.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I really didn't think through the details, so have THE BOSS a day early.

So, when I set up that impromptu "Wish D-Rock a Happy Birthday" thing? I kind of didn't remember that she would have to stay up until midnight counting tweets. So, I have no idea if we made our goal or not. And since I want to go to bed...

Here's THE BOSS, chapter one, a day early.

Do you guys want chapter one of THE BOSS early?

So, tomorrow is my cousin, friend, and Roadhouse co-host D-Rock's birthday! Could you guys help me out with that? I want her to get 100 birthday tweets at her @DRockFinn twitter account. If she gets 100 happy birthday tweets by midnight tonight (eastern standard time), I'll release the first chapter of The Boss a day early. Sound good? Go forth and tweet birthday shenanigans at D-Rock!

5 Things I Didn't Notice About Les Miserables The First Time I Saw It

Yesterday, I went to see the film version of Les Miserables for the second time. I went with my friends Bronwyn Green, Ginny (whose full name I won't put here because I don't know her pseudonym, but whose manuscript is currently under consideration at Astrea Press, so cross your fingers for her) and Temple Hogan (who is my pal and also my grandma, so you should buy her books about pirates getting down). I had seen it previously with my husband and my friend Jill, so seeing it a second time gave me a chance to notice some things I hadn't noticed before:

  1. The songs in the stage version are in the wrong order. In the play, the rousing number most associated with the show (and which should probably be adopted as the French national anthem) comes after "Red and Black" and before "A Heart Full of Love," when Marius goes to meet Cossette for the first time. The first time I saw the movie, when "Red and Black" finished and "Do You Hear The People Sing" didn't happen, my heart was broken. You see, some totally freak left the song off the soundtrack album. I don't know who made that decision, but they're stupid. Anyway, since it's not on the album, I assumed it had been cut from the show. I fumed through "On My Own," and "One Day More," which were also in the wrong order, certain they had ruined the movie by leaving it out. But then, "Do You Hear The People Sing" happened. And it happened as an active part of the beginning of the protest. Holy balls, did that make the song more effective. The second time around, when I wasn't furious at the apparent exclusion of the song, I was able to appreciate that the song was probably always in the wrong place in the musical. Another song whose order changed was "I Dreamed A Dream." Again, the change made the song even more moving to the audience. Is it more effective to listen to Fantine lamenting the horror of her life after she's lost her hair and her teeth and resorted to dangerous 19th century street prostitution to save her child, or right before that happens, as in the musical? Now, when I think of the musical, I think that the songs are in the wrong order, the correct order being the one presented in the movie.
  2. Russell Crowe's singing isn't actually as bad as I thought it was. Okay, he's no Phillip Quast or Norm Lewis. But the first time I saw the movie, I wanted to cry (not just from, you know, the unrelenting sadness of the narrative or the piercing hope that the human condition will somehow improve and we'll all become Jean Valjean) because they fucked up the casting for Javert so badly. He couldn't sing. He was wooden and unsure of himself. In the car on the ride home, my husband vehemently defended Crowe: "He knew he couldn't sing! He knew he was the worst singer there, and it showed. And it made me like him, because he was trying to win me over." When I watched it a second time, I realized that Crowe's wooden, unsure acting was actually helpful the characterization. And his singing wasn't as bad as I remembered. Yes, it was amateurish, but it was no where near as painful as listening to Hugh Jackman struggle through "Bring Him Home," which brings me to...
  3. They probably could have brought some of the vocals down a few keys. Back when Madonna was cast as Eva Peron in Evita, musical fans ripped her to shreds over the fact that she couldn't handle the mezzo-soprano score, and some of the most famous numbers had been transposed down to accomodate her alto voice. Then the film came out, the changes were barely noticeable, and the adaptation was a critical success. The overall structure of the score wasn't obliterated by the changes, and a lesson should have been learned by everyone: no one wants to listen to an Actor Who Sings trying (and failing) to hit notes that are out of their workable range. And yet there we are, watching Hugh Jackman visibly strain to hit the impossible counter-tenor notes in "Bring Him Home." An apocryphal theatre story holds that the song, whose high A comes, brutally, midway through the second act of a three hours plus show, was originally written lower, but that Colm Wilkinson decided to take the song up just because he had the stamina. The school edition of the musical changes the key to accomodate the untried teen voice, so why not take it down a little bit for Jackman, rather than make us listen to him juuuuuust barely hit the notes in an uncomfortable, pinchy voice?
  4. As an adult, I found it harder to have sympathy for the rebels when they've just ruined a funeral. Having been to more than one ruined funeral in my time, I have to say that my opinion on the rebels has changed. Did they really have to hijack a hearse? I get that Lamarque is a symbol of their cause, but what about his grieving family? And yes, this is exactly how the Parisian June Rebellion went down in 1832, but somehow reading about it in the novel or historical accounts makes it all seem rather grand and romantic, but seeing a bunch of handsome Hollywood types swarming over Lamarque's cortege made me go, "Hey. That's not nice. Bunch of jerks." If you disagree, just imagine how you would feel if you were grieving a loved one, and some dude in an Adam Ant jacket up and hijacked his dead body while singing about politics and discontent due to a cholera epidemic.
  5. WTF is that random cow doing? Shortly after the funeral ruiners make their move, we see the construction of barricades in the city streets. Common people throw furniture from their windows to aid the rebels, and in one shot, for some reason, hand to god, there is a fucking cow standing there. It actually appears to be a Red and White Holstein, and it looks super fucking confused. We never see it again. So, knowing the expense and danger of having an animal that big on a movie set... why was it included? Just to show us that someone owned a cow in the city? Why on earth was that cow there? Keep in mind, it's highly unlikely that the cow just wandered into a movie set. Someone actually had to look at the sweeping epic of this musical and go, "You know what's missing? Less than a full second of cow."
This might sound like I was unhappy with the film version overall. Actually, I couldn't be more pleased with it. It's as close to what I had envisioned the Les Miserables movie looking like in my head for the twenty years between the time I discovered the musical and the time the movie came out. These were just things that, upon rewatch, made me go, "hmmm...."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Roadhouse Episode 14: "The Jossverse pt. 1"



We discuss the things we like/don't like about the Jossverse, in the first part of a two part episode.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

50 Shades Freed recap Chapter 3 or "Wherein Jenny uses the fuck word nonstop for thirty pages"

Previously, on 50 Shades Freed:


Thanks, Carolyn, for sending that along. I think we can all sympathize with the poor guy.

We last left Ana and Chedward on the open sea. On a hilarious boat. (Yes, that's the boat picture Jaycie sent me and I lost and lamented through the entire last goddamn chapter. Isn't it magnificent?).  Ana and Christian have just had the most pure, true-loviest, not in any way abusive and/or creepy sex that she wasn't allowed to pee for, and now she's gone to the bathroom and found something... amiss.

No, she's not peeing blood from a UTI, as you all gleefully speculated in the last recap's comments:
I gaze in horror at the red marks all over my breasts. Hickeys! I have hickeys! I am married to one of the most respected businessmen in the United States, and he's given me goddamn hickeys.
So, yeah, she's covered in hickeys. I don't see what being married to a respected businessman has to do with it, other than Ana needing to remind us at every turn that she's married a rich husband and it's such a fucking hardship. Also, how is this guy a respected businessman, exactly? From everything we've seen of his company, he seems to run it with his dick. Ex-Domme wants a hair salon? Better buy it for her. New girlfriend has a job with a male boss? Not on my watch, pal, I'm buying the company. And then we'll take the company jet on our honeymoon, naturally! How is this jerk even successful, let alone respected? He's the CEO of a company that doesn't even have a board of directors, and he runs the place like a fifth grader's lemonade stand.
How did I not feel him doing this to me? I flush. The fact is I know exactly why - Mr. Orgasmic was using his fine-motor sexing skills on me.
What does that even mean? And also, bullshit. How do you not feel someone sucking on you hard enough to give you a hickey, a bunch of times, all over your body? This is first person POV here, and the only time she mentions sucking in the last sex scene is when he's trying to make her come from playing with her tits. Plus, she was blindfolded, so the only things she could really describe to us were what she heard and what she felt. I'm so not buying any of this.
My subconcious peers over her half-moon specs and tuts disapprovingly, while my inner goddess slumbers on her chaise longue, out for the count.
I sincerely hope that bitch is dead. I hope Ana's subconscious bludgeoned her to death with a better book than this one while Ana was busy having orgasms.

Now, let's move on to the really fucking troubling part:
I gape at my reflection. My wrists have red welts around them from the handcuffs. No doubt they'll bruise. I examine my ankles - more welts. Holy hell, I look like I've been in some sort of accident. I gaze at myself, trying to absorb how I look.
So, she's taken aback by how fucking beat up she is after sex with Chedward, when in the last chapter he was like, "I don't want to hurt you, you're my wife, not my sub, I'm not going to cause you pain, it's just going to be intense." Now she's covered with hickeys (and you know what? Hickey is just another word for bruise. They're the same thing, just one is caused by canoodling and the other by violent trauma. Both are sore.) and her arms and legs are all marked up from being handcuffed. So, of course this is the moment when Ana realizes that she's made a huge mistake, that Christian will never change, and that she needs to get out before this possessive assholery escalates.

Nope, she talks about how skinny she is, instead:
My body is so different these days. It's changed subtly since I've known him... I've become leaner and fitter, and my hair is glossy and well cut. My nails are manicured, my feet pedicured, my eyebrows threaded and beautifully shaped. For the first time in my life, I'm well groomed - except for these hideous love bites.
"Love" bites, whatever. The important thing is for the reader to know that, abusive tendencies aside,  fucking Christian Grey is like having an in-home stylist and a Bowflex. By the way, those last two excerpts? They're in the same paragraph. It's not like I cut out some part in the middle where she comes to grips with how awful it is that he did this to her. It's literally, "I have bruises everywhere from sex, wow, look how great I look." That's Ana's cognitive follow-through: "I'm skinny and hot, so that makes everything okay."

No, that stunning leap of reasoning happens in the next paragraph:
I don't want to think about grooming at the moment.
(But you did.)
I'm too mad. How dare he mark me like this, like some teenager. In the short time we've been together, he's never given me hickeys. I look like hell. I know why he's done this. Damn control freak. Right! My subconscious folds her arms beneath her small bosom - he's gone too far this time.
EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS DISAPPOINTING AND WRONG. Ana's reaction hits all the crucial points on a 50 Shades bingo card. She's talking about the short time they've been together while on their honeymoon. She's just gone on at length about how hot she is, then claims to look like hell. Her subconscious objects, but ultimately it won't count because she has small titties.

Ana sits down to brush her hair, because when you're angry, ladies, nothing calms you down like a good hair brushing, am I right? Christian calls to her to see if she's okay. She's not okay:
I ignore him. Am I okay? No, I am not okay. After what he's done to me, I doubt I'll be able to wear a swimsuit, let alone one of my ridiculously expensive bikinis for the rest of our honeymoon.
I guess she "got used to it" then, huh?
I seethe as fury spikes through me. I can behave like an adolescent, too!
Yeah, that will definitely help things, you should go do that.

Ana goes into the bedroom and throws a hairbrush at Christian, then runs up on deck.
I need some space to calm down. It's dark and the air is balmy. The warm breeze carries the smell of the Mediterranean and the scent of jasmine and bougainvillea from the shore. The Fair Lady glides effortlessly through the calm cobalt sea as I rest my elbows on the wooden railing, gazing at the distant shore where tiny lights wink and twinkle.
 Juuuuuuuust sayin'.

Robert Wagner Christian comes up on the deck and is all, "Y U MAD THO?" and Ana actually has to explain to him what the fucking problem is:
"Christian, you have to stop unilaterally trying to bring me to heel. You made your point on the beach. Very effectively as I recall."
He shrugs minutely. "Well, you won't take your top off again," he murmurs petulantly.

 Ana says that hickeys are a hard limit for her, and Chedward says that her taking her clothes off in public is a hard limit for him. The next excerpt was honestly hard for me to read:
"Look at me!" I pull down my camisole to reveal the top of my breasts. Christian gazes at me, his eyes not leaving my face, his expression wary and uncertain. He's not used to seeing me this mad. Can't he see what he's done? Can't he see how ridiculous he is? I want to shout at him, but I refrain - I don't want to push him too far. Heaven knows what he'd do.
A lot of people have left comments on my recap posts saying, "How can people not see that this is abuse?" Well, frankly, it's because they're willfully stupid. I'm not saying that every person who reads this book or likes it is stupid. I'm saying that the people out there who are defending this book and saying it doesn't depict an abusive relationship are fucking stupid. There's no other way to describe them. It's like if you showed someone a picture of a duck, but they insisted it was a chicken, even after you explained all the ways that it's, for real now, a fucking duck. The women who read this book and think Christian's behavior makes him desirable? They want to be stupid. Yes, our society tells us that everything a rich man does is right, but at this point in our cultural evolution there are enough resources out there to educate people that the only reason anyone would want to defend this piece of shit book and its piece of shit hero against allegations of abuse is that it's just more comfortable to be fucking ignorant. That excerpt above? That's the picture of the duck that millions of really fucking stupid women insist is a chicken, because it's more fun. No fucking wonder abused women and rape victims get blamed for the crimes perpetrated against them. It's more fun if a privileged group (and yes, I'm blatantly stating that women who have not faced the realities of abuse and rape are a privileged group, if that's a problem, oh fucking well) can cordone off a DMZ around their shallow, vapid little word view and shoot down any possible challenge to their outdated perceptions of the world before anything can get close enough to make them think for themselves for two seconds.

I realize that I'm coming off hostile here, but really, is there any other way to be at this point? When this piece of shit is the best selling ROMANCE of all time? When this relationship is the relationship that publishers are trying to sell to women as being the be all and end all, and we should all be sad about our marriages and how our husbands treat us with respect instead of as property? That's it. After this chapter, I'm not pulling punches.

If you want to be in a relationship with Christian Grey, you're fucking stupid.

Moving on.

Christian tells Ana that he gets it, and says he has a lot to learn. Dude, you're almost thirty, if you haven't learned that disfiguring another person isn't okay, you're probably not smart enough to figure it out.
Dr. Flynn's words come back to me... Emotionally, Christian is an adolescent, Ana. He bypassed that phase in his life totally. He's channeled all his energies into succeeding in  the business world, and he has beyond all expectations. His emotional world has to play catch up.
Bullshit. Even adolescents are capable of understanding that hitting women, disfiguring them as punishment, etc. is wrong. And if he's so amazing and adaptable that he's been able to overcome this difficulty in order to become a success at business, why hasn't he also been able to overcome it in personal relationships? The fact that he's intelligent enough to recognize that he has to behave a certain way to be successful at business shows that he's able to do the work. He's just not willing to, because it doesn't interest him the way business does.

But Ana's a fucking idiot, so she thinks this explains everything, and in response to Christian's assertion that he has a lot to learn, this happens:
My heart thaws a little.
"We both do." I sigh and cautiously raise my hand, placing it over his heart.
What do you think you need to learn, Ana? Besides "how to not get beat up by your abusive asshole husband?"
"I've just learned that you've a good arm and a good aim, Mrs. Grey. I would never have figured that, but then I constantly underestimate you. You always surprise me."
So, Christian compliments her, and the fight is over. She immediately responds with something about Ray teaching her how to shoot, and they tease each a little bit, then she falls into his arms and:
"Am I forgiven?"
"Am I?"
I feel his smile. "Yes," he answers.
"Ditto."
We stand holding each other, my pique forgotten. He does smell good, adolescent or not. How can I resist him?
I would say that I hope you both get cancer, but that would be grossly unfair to cancer. Cancer shouldn't have to put up with your bullshit. In this case, I'm Team Cancer.

Christian asks Ana if she's hungry but not for food:
"Yes. Famished. All the... er... activity has given me an appetite. But I'm not dressed for dinner." I'm sure my sweatpants and camisole would be frowned upon in the dining room.
WTF is this shit, Downton Boatsby?

Except I can't decide who I hate more, Ana or When Irish Eyes Are Whining.

After a section break, they're already on dessert, and thank God we don't have to actually sit through them having dinner because I don't know if I could handle "willful anorexia as an act of defiance against my abusive husband" fun times after all that other bullshit. Ana asks Christian why he braids her hair when they're going to have sex, and he says it's because he doesn't want her hair to catch on anything. Then he has a dramatically visible painful memory, but Ana urges him to ignore his emotional pain and move on to what's the most important - which is obviously her - and she asks him if he loves her despite her "disobedience." Remember, "disobedience" in this case is sunbathing topless on a beach where everyone else is sunbathing topless. Christian tells her he loves her because of her disobedience... so... does he want her to run around topless or what? Don't worry, Ana can't figure it out, either:
I crack my spoon through the burned sugar crust of my dessert and shake my head. Will I ever understand this man? Hmm - this creme brulee is delicious.
Lack of accent marks on the creme brulee are my fault. I love how this line seems to indicate that Ana is moving from Anorexia Nervosa straight on to Bulimia town. She's actually eating, and she's turning her lack of control over her love life into an intense concentration on food. That's going to be healthy in the long run.

There's another section break, which is a damn shame, because I would rather hear about Ana eating creme brulee than Ana interacting with Chedward, but oh well. She asks him why she wasn't allowed to pee earlier, and he tells her exactly what all you guys said in the comments, that it makes the orgasm more intense. You know, so does edging, and there's less chance you're going to get peed on by mistake.

Pictured: A dramatic reenactment of what happens when you do the pee thing after two pregnancies.

Chedward wants to dance with Ana, so he puts on some music:
A slinky, cheesy melody starts. Is this a Latin rhythm?
Latin music = cheesy?
"You dance so well," I say. "It's like I can dance."
He gives me a sphinxlike smile but says nothing, and I wonder if it's because he's thinking of her... Mrs. Robinson, the woman who taught him how to dance - and how to fuck. She hasn't crossed my mind for a while.
Yeah, for like, 46 whole pages so far. That's a personal best.
 Christian has not mentioned her since his birthday, and as far as I'm aware, their business relationship is over. Reluctantly, though, I have to admit - she was some teacher.
I think we previous established that this is a woman who took sexual advantage of a teenager who was clearly emotionally troubled. But yeah, thank god she taught your husband to fuck, because it probably didn't screw him up to be preyed upon by a sexual predator.
"Come to bed with me?" he whispers, and it's a heartfelt plea that tugs at my heart.
Good job, copy editor, you're definitely earning your keep.

Ana wakes up the next morning:
I marvel at what it is like to go to bed with two different men - angry Christian and sweet let-me-make-it-up-to-you-in-any-way-I-can Christian.
That's not going to bed with two different men. That's going to bed with one man and his personality disorder.

Ana finds Christian shaving:
I love watching him shave. He pulls up his chin and shaves beneath it, taking long, deliberate strokes, and I find myself unconsciously mirroring his actions. Pulling my upper lip down just as he does, to shave his philtrum. He turns and smirks at me, one half of his face still covered in shaving soap."
"Enjoying the show?" he asks.
I would like it better if it were this show.

Christian asks Ana if he should shave her "again," which means it's flashback time. Apparently, at the beginning of their honeymoon, Ana tried to shave her beaver and of course it becomes this whole big controversy about whether he likes it or not, etc. Of course he likes it, it was in his rules at the beginning of the first book, but anyway, she missed a spot, so he decides he's going to shave her:
"Christian! You are not shaving me!"
He tilts his head to one side. "Why ever not?"
I flush... isn't it obvious? "Because... It's just too..."
"Intimate?" he whispers. "Ana, I crave intimacy with you - you know that. Besides, after some of the things we've done, don't get all squeamish on me now. And I know this part of your body better than you do."
I gape at him. Of all the arrogant... true, he does - but still. "It's just wrong!" My voice is prissy and whiny.
Thank god, I thought I had been imagining her voice all wrong during the last two books. Fuck this guy, seriously? He knows her body better than she does? Fuck her, too, then. It's her body. She's in it all day, she knows it best, no matter how many women Christian Grey has beaten before.

And try to imagine an American man saying, "Why ever not?" Did you do it? Did he sound old? Because I can't imagine an American man under seventy saying, "Why ever not?" It's just not how like, 99% of young American men talk. They'd be like, "Why not?" or "Huh?"

Christian tells Ana that shaving a woman turns him on, so of course, she decides she's got to do it. Because it doesn't matter what turns her on, or what she's comfortable with. The end goal is to please Christian Grey, He Who Must Be Pleased Above All Other Things. Ana makes a crack about how "kinky" it is, probably because she's never, ever looked at the internet even once in her whole life.

So, then Christian shaves her and is just starting to finger her when we hit the paragraph break.  Back in the bathroom, Chedward is still shaving his face, and Ana is embarrassed about him shaving her that one time we just heard about, and THESE ARE THE PROBLEMS THESE PEOPLE HAVE.

Get your mind around that. In a world of crashing economies, record joblessness, women dying from gang rapes and denied abortions, children being murdered by drone strikes, the problems these idiots face? "Is letting my husband shave my beev too kinky?"
"Hey, I'm just teasing. Isn't that what husbands who are hopelessly in love with their wives do?"
OTHER THINGS HUSBANDS WHO ARE HOPELESSLY IN LOVE WITH THEIR WIVES DO:

  • Not disfigure her in a jealous rage.
  • Not publicly shame their wives for sunbathing topless.
  • Allows her to shop wherever she wants and buy what she wants to wear.
  • Gets along with her friends.
  • Refrains from incessantly calling his mother a crack whore after constantly telling his wife how much she looks like her.
  • Does not buy her job.
  • Does not seek to isolate her from her family.
  • Does not follow her across the country when she needs space.
These are just a few, but it's a good jumping off point for you, Chedward.

Ana decides that since he shaved her bush, she should finish shaving his face:
Holy shit, he's going to let me shave him. Tentatively I slide my hand into the damp hair at his forehead, gripping tightly to hold him still. He clenches his eyes closed and parts his lips as he inhales. Very gently, I stroke his razor up from his neck to his chin, revealing a path of skin beneath the lather. Christian exhales.
I couldn't find a picture of a more abusive fuck getting shaved by his wife, so I'll settle for this one of Mister, who is about the same level on the asshole scale as Christian Grey.


Christian wants to take Ana ashore and buy some art, since they can't go to the beach because he's insane with jealousy:
"I know nothing about art, Christian."
Except for the part where she totally did, in the last two books. In fact, the first time she meets Christian, in the very first book, they talk about the art hanging in his office. She told us all about the styles of paintings in Christian's apartment. One of her very best friends is an artist, and she and Christian went to his gallery opening together, where Ana told us all about the composition of the various photographs. A part of me thinks this is just inconsistency on the author's part, another, meaner part of me thinks it's intentional, to show that Ana doesn't need to actually know anything as long as she has a man to form her opinions for her.

Christian tells her he wants to buy art for their new house, the plans for which they just saw a few days ago. You know, the plans for the house Ana asked him not to build, in favor of keeping the house they bought?
Oh, the architect. He had to remind me of her... Gia Matteo, a friend of Elliot's who worked on Christian's place in Aspen. During our meetings, she'd been all over Christian like a rash.
We've officially reached the inner circle of hell, folks. Ana doesn't even need other women around to hate them anymore, she can do it via satellite.
How can I tell him that I don't like Gia? My dislike is irrational. I don't want to come across as a jealous wife.
But you are a jealous wife. And you were a jealous girlfriend. In fact, the only difference between you and Christian in terms of possessiveness is the fact that he's aggressive about his jealousy and you're passive about it. And no, it's not irrational to dislike a woman who is really trying to break up your marriage, but since Ana isn't the most reliable narrator when it comes to this kind of stuff (after all, she thinks her relationship with Christian is romantic and that he is desirable), I have to wonder if all these women really are into him, or she's just imagining they are because she's a freaking lunatic.
"You're not still mad about what I did yesterday?" He sighs and nuzzles his face between my breasts.
No, you fool, how could she be? You graced her with the touch of your magnificent penis, it's impossible that she might still be angry over you maliciously marking her body as a sign of ownership.

Christian takes Ana to Saint-Paul-De-Vence, a Medieval French city:
We pass a tree-covered square where three old men, one wearing a traditional beret in spite of the heat, are playing boules. It's quite crowded with tourists, but I feel comfortable tucked under Christian's arm.
God, I fucking hate it when I'm trying to be a tourist and there are too many tourists around. I'm just trying to watch these old men be stereotypically French for my amusement.
In the first gallery, Christian gazes distractedly at the erotic photographs in front of us, sucking gently on the arm of his aviator specs. They are the work of Florence D'elle - naked women in various poses.
Those sound like some amazing sunglasses.
"Not quite what I had in mind," I mumble disapprovingly.
"Good heavens, this art is full of naked people!" I absolutely love that Ana is jealous of naked women in photographs now. Is this like the Weeping Angels? A photographic representation of a naked woman actually becomes a naked woman, and if you blink she tackle-fucks your husband? This marriage has a rock solid foundation, y'all.
"Me neither," Christian says, grinning down at me. He takes my hand, and we stroll to the next artist. Idly, I wonder if I should let him take photos of me.
Who, the next artist? Have we totally given up on subject/verb agreement here? Is it too hard? Also, LOL at the idea that if Christian wants nude artwork, she has to be the nude. Maybe Jose can photograph that. Of course, this is all because she feels the need to play keep up with the other subs that he photographed.

They find some paintings they like, and they discuss how much they cost and how Ana needs to get use to spending tons of money on stuff, because lord knows it's practically sinful to have money and not throw it around. The best possible thing rich people can do with their money is, you know, let it trickle down.

After lunch, Ana and Christian are having coffee and talking again about why he braids her hair. You guess right if you speculated that it would have to do with his mother:
"The crack whore used to let me play with her hair, I think. I don't know if it's a memory or a dream."
Whoa! His birth mom.
He gazes at me, his expression unreadable. My heart leaps into my mouth. What do I say when he says things like this?
I would go with, "Stop calling your mother a whore."

Ana tells him she thinks he loved his mother, and he goes all mute and catatonic for a minute, then decides it's time to go:
I exhale, relieved, and shrug. "I am just glad you're still speaking to me."
"You know I don't like talking about all that shit. It's done. Finished," he says quietly.
Um, you're the one who brought it up this time, Chedward, so suck it.
No, Christian, it isn't. The thought saddens me, and for the first time I wonder if it will ever be finished. He'll always be Fifty Shades... my Fifty Shades. Do I want him to change? No, not really - only insofar as I want him to feel loved. Peeking up at him, I take a moment to admire his captivating beauty... and he's mine. 
I would say, "maybe you should have thought of all of this before you got married," but it's clear that marriage, and ownership of Christian, was her end goal, no matter how fucked up he is. You know, because he's pretty.
He gives me that look, down his nose, half amused, half wary, wholly sexy, then tucks me under his arm, and we make our way through the tourists toward the spot where Philippe/Gaston has parked the roomy Mercedes.
There's really no better vehicle for a Medieval walled city with roads designed for horse and foot traffic than a car as wide as a Mercedes. Good thinking, Chedward.

In the car, Christian looks at the bruises on Ana's wrists, and she reassures him that she's fine, he didn't really hurt her, then immediately tells us about the expensive watch he bought her in London, and how romantic that is. Priorities, ladies. A man can do whatever he wants to you, so long as he buys you expensive jewelry. It's not prostitution, it's just the way things should be.

After a paragraph break, Chedward buys Ana more jewelry, a platinum bracelet that costs 30,000 euros. Remember those starving children he's so worried about?
"There, that's better," he murmurs.
"Better," I whisper, gazing into his luminous gray eyes, conscious that the stick-thin sales assistant is staring at us with a jealous and disapproving look.
Ana is going to make fun of someone for being too skinny?

I'm tired as fuck of "skinny" or "thin" being used as characterization shorthand for "evil bitch." Especially when so much of the last two books concentrated on how Ana can't/doesn't eat and how she's so thin every man wants to fuck her while simultaneously feeding her cookies for her own good. Plus, Ana, you moron, that sales assistant just sold a 30k bracelet. I'm sure she's not disapproving. She's probably not even paying attention to you. It might just be that she gets a disapproving look on her face when she's doing the mental math to calculate her commission.

Christian has bought the bracelet, by the way, because he wants to cover up the bruise on her other wrist. I suppose when he gives her a black eye, he'll buy her an eyepatch covered in Swarovski crystals, and all will be forgiven.

But when he says he needs to buy the bracelet, she says:
"No, Christian, you don't. You've given me so much already. A magical honeymoon, London, Paris, the Cote D'Azur... and you. I'm a very lucky girl,"
Yeah, you've given her so much. Like hickeys all over her body out of anger, and bruises she didn't ask for on her ankles and wrists because you're not a very good Dom. You've given her a beating with a belt, a good thorough stalking, all your emotional baggage, and a free ride to your hotel room when she was passed out drunk and couldn't say no. You've given her so much. What you haven't given her is like, respect, personal agency, a healthy relationship, aftercare, the freedom to do simple stuff like have her own bank account and job, etc. Just little shit no one really cares about anyway.

I'm so glad someone is out there, training women to value the things that are really important. Like money, and letting rich men do whatever they want to women without any consequences.

Back in the car, Christian looks at Ana's ankles, and the bruises he left there.
"Doesn't hurt," I murmur. He glances at me and his expression is sad, his mouth a thin line.
He's probably thinking that he has to spend another 60,000 euros to cover those bruises, and wondering if it wouldn't just be cheaper to dump your body overboard once you're back on the boat. But good on you for trying to make your abuser feel bad for abusing you.
"I didn't expect to feel like I do looking at these marks," he says.
Oh! Reticent once minute and forthcoming the next? How... Fifty! How can I keep up with him?
"How do you feel?"
Bleak eyes gaze at me. "Uncomfortable," he murmurs.
Oh no. 
Yeah, what a fucking shame that he feels bad for, at best, being an irresponsible Dom, at worst, being an abusive fuckwad who should have his balls smashed in a vise.

Ana tells him that aside from the hickeys, she liked everything else. Except, when she was first examining the marks on her body, she didn't like the bruises left by the handcuffs. But I guess if it makes Chedward feel bad, she should just get over it and let him use cuffs that hurt her even if she doesn't like it, because pleasing him is really the end goal.

Ana tells him the sex was mind-blowing:
He shifts in his seat. "Mind-blowing?" My inner goddess looks up, startled, from her Jackie Collins.
Get it? Women who don't like sex are all nerdy prudes with small tits who read Dickens and lead bleak, horrible existences, and women who do like sex only read Jackie Collins, because it's impossible to be smart enough to read literary fiction when you like sex. The best part of this is that a) Jackie Collins writes a much better book than E.L. James does, and b) E.L. just subtly insulted her readers by being dismissive of genre fiction. Which wouldn't be the first time, since she blatantly used the Twihards to get famous and now shits on them every chance she gets.

E.L. James is a bad person, is what I'm saying here.

Christian gets a phone call, which sounds not great:
"Anyone injured? Damage? I see... When?" Christian glances at his watch again, then runs his fingers through his hair. "No. Not the fire department or the police. Not yet anyway."
So, there was a fire at Christian's office. As established in the last two books, Christian won't call the police for any reason. Not even if his ex-girlfriend breaks into Ana's apartment and holds her hostage at gunpoint. Now, there's a fire in the server room at his office, and he doesn't want to involve the fire department or the police? Exactly what is this guy doing, that he's so afraid of the police coming anywhere near him?

Christian tells Ana that they're not sure if it's arson yet, but they decide to head back to the boat, and Ana wonders what more could possibly happen. The awesome part of that is, I really don't give a fuck what happens to them, as long as it's something tragic and violent, and then the chapter is over.