State of The Trout: “Poo Brain” edition

So, do any of you guys watch Adventure Time? It’s an awesome show. In an early episode, the heroes, Finn and Jake, find their sleep disturbed when a horse won’t stop staring through their window at night. It can’t moved, reasoned with, or dissuaded. It just stands there, staring. Jake diagnoses the animal as having “poo brain.”

poo brain

 

I have come to adopt this phrase in place of “Fibro fog,” the common description of the mental sluggishness that is symptomatic of a Fibromyalgia flare-up. It’s a way better term for how I feel. I don’t feel “foggy,” I straight up feel like someone took a shit in my brain, and it’s good for nothing.

Luckily, my case of poo brain didn’t last longer than a week, but that week ate up a considerable chunk of writing time. I mostly tweeted and tumblred, because that was how long my attention span lasted. I couldn’t focus on anything.

So, now I am behind. Way behind. I had a manuscript I wanted to turn in to my publisher today; I still have a scene and a chapter to go. But because I’m off schedule with that, it means I’ve having to start work on my next project at the same time. Which means extra work, which means less time here for wacky blog shenanigans.

So, this is a State of The Trout update to let you know that I am not dead, I am still alive, I’m just overwhelmed with work I fell behind on when I got poo brain. After this week, I’ll hopefully be back to a normal schedule and I can get an Apolonia recap done and work on some Buffy.

I also want to publicly apologize to Nicholas at the Portage Crossings GameStop. I told him I would take his survey within the next three days, but I forgot. Sorry, Nicholas.

Merlin Club S05E06: “The Dark Tower” or “This explains so much…”

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Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

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Paying my respects to Bertrice Small

When I was twelve years old, I found a book at a garage sale that would forever change my life. The book was called All The Sweet Tomorrows, and it told the tale of Skye O’Malley, a beautiful raven-haired widow on a mission to find her not-so-dead-after-all husband in Algiers. This book introduced me to dildos, dubcon, anal sex, foot torture, and pony play. No, I’m not kidding, this book, which was originally published in 1986, had all of that.

That book set in stone my destiny as a romance reader and writer. It also really helped hone my reading skills; as a child with learning disabilities, I was supposed to practice my reading. Nothing makes you want to practice reading more than learning about the seedy sorts of things adults are getting up to with their private parts.

Since that book, I’ve read many, but not all, of Ms. Small’s novels. I say not all because she wrote over fifty in her career, each one a grand, sweeping saga that helped define old school romance, as well as evolve the historical genre. When I had the pleasure of meeting her at the Romantic Times convention in 2008, I asked her to sign my favorite.

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When I handed it to her, she smiled fondly at the cover and said, “Oh! I love this book.” There is nothing quite as fantastic as hearing the creator of something you love express how much they also love it. It’s a feeling I will never forget.

I also told her my story about finding All The Sweet Tomorrows and how her work had shaped my career. “And now,” I told her proudly, “I’m a USA Today bestselling romance author, and I never would have been if I hadn’t read your book.” I had tears in my eyes. So did she.

That was the one and only time I ever met Ms. Small, who wrote “God bless!” in her kink-tastic novels and dotted the “i” in her name with a heart. She passed away on Tuesday at age seventy-seven, leaving behind a legacy that will live on for as long as the romance genre endures. I won’t say that we lost one of the greats, because that phrase doesn’t cover it. I will say instead that we were lucky enough that she shared her ingenuity, her boundless talent, and her fantastically wicked imagination with us all.

Rest in peace, Ms. Small.

CandyJar.com review and unboxing photos

So, a few weeks ago someone on Facebook signed my death warrant by posting a link to CandyJar.com, a website that sells bulk candy by the jar. You pick a small, medium, or large “jar” and fill it by selecting “scoops” of the candy you want.

Since candy is my writing fuel and I’m also a shut-in, I decided to give it a shot. No one at CandyJar.com asked me to do this, and I’m not receiving anything in trade for this review, but just heads up, CandyJar.com, I’m really the perfect spokesperson. Email me.

The “jars” come in three sizes, and none of them have cutesy names, which I appreciate. They’re just small (32 oz), medium (64 oz), and large (128 oz). Standard, normal, no “Vente” or “Gotta Have It!” or anything like that.

ron swanson seal of approval

I ordered the large jar. And yes, I was aware at the time that the large is basically one gallon of candy. It says so in the little window where you select your jar size, almost as if in a warning. I did it anyway. It’s not like it showed up and I was surprised by the amount of candy I had ordered. I did this to myself.

The shipping was fairly quick. I think from order to delivery it was something like a week. But I’ll be honest, for me, that was too long. Once I start thinking about candy, I want the candy like, now. So, the shipping is speedy, but if you’re like me, even an Amazon drone wouldn’t be able to deliver sweet, sweet lady sugar faster enough.

When it did arrive, it came like this:

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I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the details when I ordered, probably because I was so focused on the whole “I’m buying an actual gallon of candy” thing. I didn’t know if I was just going to get a box of candy at the approximate weight, or if there would be an physical jar. The answer was both:

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Some of the candy came on top, and the rest came like this:

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It’s all wrapped up in neat little bundles inside the jar, which is made out of slightly flexible plastic, like a peanut butter jar, and has a metal screw-top lid. You have the option of keeping it all separate, if you’re too good for candy that’s all mixed together, you snob.

Having ordered candy through the mail before, I know that things can go wrong (for example, I can tell the difference between a broken Zotz and a whole Zotz by feel alone these days). I am happy to report that only one type of candy didn’t quite make the journey in pristine condition:

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I don’t know how candy corn manages to shatter, but it totally did. The outside was dry and crumbled into pieces, the inside was oddly moist and stuck together. It was really strange, considering the rock candy, the one I was most concerned about, came so perfect that not even a single crystal had broken off:

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One of the things that confused me about the site was that on some items, I couldn’t tell what, exactly, constituted a “scoop.” For example, I ordered three “scoops” of rock candy, which ended up being equal to three of these bundles (that either had four or five sticks in it, I should have counted). But I ordered five scoops of Chupa Chups and got nine of these:

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which each had four pieces inside. I mean, I’m not complaining, because I love these (they were absolutely huge in the ’90′s, if you don’t remember. Celebrities were being photographed with them. They were the PinkBerry or Ugg Boots of 1996). But it’s just nice info to have for next time.

I wanted to see if I could indeed fit all of this candy:

  • three different assortments of salt water taffy
  • gummy cola bottles
  • gummy cherries
  • sour cherry rings
  • gummy raspberries and blackberries
  • sour peach slices
  • Chupa Chups
  • rock candy sticks
  • candy corn
  • Pixy Stix
  • Smarties

into the jar. I’m sure that if I’d bought all gummies or all taffy they would have fit with no problem, but the Pixy Stix threw off the whole groove. Even the Chupa Chups didn’t have a problem playing nice with the other candy, but the Pixy Stix and Smarties just couldn’t fit in with the rest.

I wondered if the price would be worth it ($49.99 USD for the large… I’m not sure what sounds worse, “I bought a gallon of candy,” or “I bought fifty dollars worth of candy.”), and to be honest, I haven’t really researched the prices of these individual items. They definitely don’t have as wide a selection as some bulk candy websites, but you have more control over the amount you can order, so you can get more variety. Most bulk sites are fine if you want to buy 5 lbs. of, say, Zotz, but this gives you a chance to make a customized mix without having to shell out for huge amounts. They do carry chocolate candies, but I didn’t buy those, because I like candy, not chocolate. Get out of here with that chocolate business (although I will eat it occasionally).

All in all, I’m happy with my experience with CandyJar.com. Two thumbs up, will be ordering again. Probably next month. Because I have a real impulse control problem.

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A few more 50 Shades related items

Hey everybody! Just a few more 50 Shades of Grey related things for all of us to shake our heads about this lovely Saturday evening.

50 Shades of Grey fan has doxed an anti-fifty blogger. @Kaydeelex has had to choose between her professional career or her blog, which points out the abuse in 50 Shades of Grey. You can read more here. I am not at all surprised to see a 50 Shades of Grey stan behave so abusively, for obvious reasons.

Miss Quin and I talked about 50 Shades of Grey…for like almost an hour. If you’re interested in hearing our somewhat bewildered take on the movie we watched the night before, you’re in luck!

The images in the 50 Shades of Grey posts will soon be fixed! There is a crack team ready to roll on this. They are not unlike the Avengers. PS. I was in this total state of crushing anxiety, like, how am I going to meet my deadline and fix this and I’m letting everybody down, etc. and then so many of you emailed me to help out with this. When I told Mr. Jen, he said, “I knew they would have your back.” So thank you, thank you, thank you for having my back.

E.L. James is fixin’ to tank her sequels.  Variety reports that James is demanding more control over the sequels (including writing the screenplays, despite having no experience), and Vanity Fair reports that Universal is actually entertaining the idea. Meanwhile, notoriously accurate Hollywood gossip peddler @EntyLawyer had this to say (thanks, @Katiebabs, for bringing this to my attention)

No matter what happens, it’s surely not great news for the franchise if the sequels are in this much trouble just a week after the first movie opened.

Trout Nation, I need help!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR OVERWHELMING AND SPEEDY RESPONSE, GUYS! I THINK I’VE GOT WHAT I NEED, BUT IF THE CRACK TEAM THAT SIGNED ON NEEDS MORE HELP, I’LL LET YOU ALL KNOW! AGAIN, THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE OVERWHELMING SUPPORT!

Hey everybody! You may have noticed that suddenly, there are no images on most of this blog? Why is that? Let me tell you a tale.

Back when I moved from my old wordpress site to my own domain, I exported the blog using WordPress’s export tool. It tells you that your posts, pages, and comments will export. The comments part is hit-or-miss; most of my comments didn’t follow me over here, which is a shame. My pictures all did, thank goodness. Eventually, I didn’t need the old blog anymore, so I deleted it.

And suddenly, all my pictures were gone. See, one thing that was never brought up during the export process was that the images don’t export, just the source URLs do. So all of my content was linking to where the old files were. And when I deleted the old blog, all of those pictures went up in smoke.

There’s a way I can fix this. I can go through archive.org and my old blogspot blogs, grab all the pictures from my old blog, and painstakingly slot them back in. That’s all my Buffy recaps, 50 Shades posts, and basically any blog post since before January, 2014. As a bonus, this is the only way it can be done; the hard drive that contained the bulk of those photos had to be wiped due to some technical thing that I’m just calling “hard drive no workey.”

This is where you guys come in. I don’t know anyone I can hire for this job, but that’s what I’m looking to do. I don’t even know what the job title of a person who does this would be, or what they would charge to do it. I don’t even know if I can afford to do it, but I know for a fact that I can’t do it. It’s too much work and I’m already spread too thin. So, if you know anyone who does this type of work, or you yourself would be willing to do this type of work, please let me know. We’ll hash out the details of how many posts you’d be willing to do and what you want to be paid. At this point, I’m fucking desperate (not a great way to open a negotiation of fees, I know, but I’m being honest) and I’m feeling so incredibly hopeless in the face of having years of work damaged.

If you or anyone you know can help, please contact me at jenny@jennytrout.com, and thank you for your patience if this is bumming you out as you try to read through Buffy and 50 Shades recaps.

Merlin Club S0505, “The Disir” or “Nah, you probably shouldn’t worry about prophecies and shit, Merlin, I’m sure it will all work out just fine.”

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Merlin club is a weekly feature in which Jessica Jarman, Bronwyn Green, and myself gather at 8pm EST to watch an episode of the amazing BBC series Merlin, starring Colin Morgan and literally nobody else I care about except Colin Morgan.

Okay, I lie. A lot of other really cool people are in it, too.

Anyway, we watch the show, we tweet to the hashtag #MerlinClub, and on Fridays we share our thoughts about the episode we watched earlier in the week.

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Jenny’s 50 Shades of Grey movie review.

I know a lot of you have been waiting for me to go see 50 Shades of Grey and come roaring back to the blog in a blaze of righteous fury, but it’s a little difficult for me to do. The film is bad. And not bad in a fun, Showgirls kind of way. Bad in the way that feels like you’d be doing the actors a service by turning away from the screen and sparing all of you a lot of embarrassment.

In her role, Dakota Johnson did the impossible: she made me like Anastasia Rose Steele. Every annoying quirk and simper of her book counterpart is washed away, in part because the audience is spared the litany of complaints and absurdly antiquated expletives that made up her internal monologue in the book . Although she still bites her lip–my guess is that at least $500,000 of the film’s $60M budget was spent on chapstick–and trips over her own feet, movie Ana is funny and endearing. She has a backbone that book Ana lacked, and more sexual agency than E.L. James afforded her. There were places in the film where her delivery seemed to suggest that she was as bewildered by the actions of Christian Grey as the audience should have been.

The best that can be said about Jamie Dornan is that he showed up to the set and stood in the correct lighting. I can’t even say that he did the best he could with what he had to work with. It has to be difficult to perform in a role where the character’s singular personality trait is “sexy weirdo,” but Dornan doesn’t even appear to be trying. There’s a sense throughout that he knows he’s too good for the material, but rather than coming off with the same oh-jeez charm that Johnson exudes, Dornan flounders, seemingly unwilling or unable to find a workable angle to slip more than one dimension into the character. It’s as though the leads are aware that they’re in a bad movie, but only one of them is trying to make the most of it.

The rest of the cast is hit-or-miss. Marcia Gay Harden breezes through her scenes as Christian’s mother in a bad impression of Lucille Bluth, while Jennifer Ehle infuses the role of Ana’s hopelessly romantic mom with effortless maternal sweetness. The fathers might as well be wallpaper, and Rita Ora, whose casting was touted as the second coming when it was announced, is reduced to uttering a handful of earnestly delivered, but forgettable lines. She shows a lot of promise for the sequels; though the script keeps her effectively silent, she steals the attention from the rest of the supporting cast in her scenes.

Screenwriter  Kelly Marcel and director Sam Taylor-Johnson managed to trim many of the most ridiculous and creepy bits from the novel. Not only did they do away with the infamous tampon interlude, but they mercifully shortened the fingering-under-the-dinner-table scene at Grey’s parents’ house, and we were spared Ana’s forced gynecological consultation. References to the helicopter were reduced by at least 90%, and when Christian fails to kiss Ana outside of the coffee shop, she doesn’t crumble to the ground weeping in a parking garage. Gone too is any mention of Ana’s sexual non-history. Though she tells Christian that she’s a virgin, the script doesn’t bring up her startlingly absent pre-Grey sexuality.

But even without the melodrama, 50 Shades of Grey is destined for absurdity. The on-set fights between the director and author are well-documented. It’s fun to guess at which lines remained at the author’s insistence; when Dornan mournfully tells Johnson, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up,” you can almost hear the screenwriter’s resumé revising itself. It’s no surprise that in moments when the dialogue skews to the side of clunky, it’s almost always on lines that appeared in the book. “I don’t make love. I fuck, hard,” and “Laters, baby,” both statements that fans of the novel swooned for, fall flat when spoken aloud, and more than a few bursts of laughter punctuated the showing I attended, usually at moments where the audience was clearly meant to engage emotionally. The soundtrack does no favors, either. As Christian took care of Ana’s virginity “situation,” Sia warbled the lyrics, “You can do it,” in the background, as though the soundtrack was unintentionally cheering him on thrust for thrust.

And oh, the thrusting. The only real disservice the movie does to the book is not deviating from the sex scenes as written. The novel contained endless pages of repetitive sensuality; he ties her up, he goes down on her, they introduce a prop of some sort, he mounts her and she “detonates around him.” As mind-numbingly copy-pasted as those scenes read, the hastened pace of filmmaking renders them more unbearable. Viewers are given a tantalizing glimpse into a room with far too many and far too similar sex toys: my friend Quinn remarked that Grey’s Red Room sported no less than five identical canes, and he appeared to have enough multiples of the same type of cuff to bind a sub with seven arms. Yet a blindfold, some dangerously represented bondage, and a few timid slaps with a riding crop and a flogger is the only kink the audience sees. Yes, the visual is more tantalizing than reading vague descriptions of touches down there and ellipses-heavy orgasms, but we never actually see the culmination of all their breathy passion, either. Instead, we’re treated to various angles of vigorously flexing buttocks and some extremely light sensation play, none of which seems to back up Grey’s deep need to cause Ana pain. I’ve been on connecting flights that were more painful than any of the BDSM in this movie.

A common theme in reviews I’ve seen from other bloggers was a sense of relief that Grey doesn’t come off as abusive. This makes me wonder if I didn’t accidentally wander into the wrong theatre and see something else entirely. Christian still tracks Ana’s cell phone to find her and take her away to undress her and sleep beside her in his hotel room. When Ana sends him a message giving him the brush off, he enters her apartment uninvited in the name of  seducing her. He steals her car and sells it, replacing it with a more expensive one without asking her, and when she objects, he spanks her and leaves her without aftercare. Another spanking incident takes place at his parents’ house, where he hoists her over his shoulder and slaps her behind out of anger at her failure to clear her vacation plans with him. Perhaps the most disturbing example of his abuse comes at the end of the movie, when, at Ana’s request, he lets loose on her with with a braided belt. Though she doesn’t safe word, the sight of her lying there, openly weeping and clearly not enjoying herself, isn’t enough to stop him. Without Ana’s inner monologue describing how terrified and intimidated she is by Grey’s behavior, his abusive tendencies and exertion of total control over her really are lessened in comparison, much in the same way that having a cavity filled is less unpleasant than having a root canal. The abuse is still there in full force, and though Ana comes off as spunky, she doesn’t object to Christian’s actions until the very end of the movie. No matter how much agency the script gives Ana, her simply not minding or being able to excuse Grey’s stalking and possessiveness doesn’t absolve him of it.

The run time, a bloated 125 minutes, caused one gentleman in the theatre to stand up and shout, “Thank God!” the moment the credits rolled. Considering that E.L. James is rumored to have demanded to write the sequel’s screenplay, maybe we should all just be thankful that this first movie wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did wear a little something special to meet Mr. Grey:

IMG_20150217_204700230(For those who’ve asked, I made the t-shirt on Zazzle, and it’s available here)

 

Yes, I did see 50 Shades of Grey, thanks for asking.

Last night, I went and saw 50 Shades of Grey. I have feelings. Feelings that are going to be explored more in-depth in some vlogs I’ve done with @ThatMissQuin (her feed is NSFW), and with a review I’ll be posting tomorrow or Friday, if I can’t handle my emotions.

In the meantime, I did live tweet the movie, and I’ve Storifyed (Storified?) it to tide you over until I can deliver more Shades shade.

 

Don’t Do This Ever: “Giant piece of human garbage” edition

When a rape survivor confronted E.L. James on Twitter, this was how the author responded:

trash ass bitch

Screen shot added in case she tries to delete her bullshit.

The link she sent?

read the book

Because clearly the best way to respond to someone who has experience violence is by sending them a .gif of violence.

E.L. James is the pinnacle of the Badly Behaving Author. Was the original tweet scolding in tone? Yes. Was her response warranted? Hell. No. When someone comes at you about your book, you know what you do? NOTHING BECAUSE THAT’S HOW IT WORKS. This shouldn’t be news to a “professional.”

I don’t care if you like it. I don’t care if Anne Rice likes it. You just ignore and move on. I’m sorry that your piece of rape and abuse apologist, plagiarized trash isn’t as universally loved as you believe it should be. I really am. It must suck for an author who’s been spoiled by her faithful legion of fawning idiot sycophants to hear an outside opinion that doesn’t directly kiss your ass. I bet that’s really hard for you. But you’re the person who tried to write a love story and turned it into a horror story. You’re the “author” who can’t write well enough to make your “LOVE story” (as she has aggressively asserted in her bio) come across as romantic to millions of abuse and rape survivors. That’s your fault. Nobody is interrogating this text from the wrong perspective.

So let me say once again:

  • 50 Shades of Grey promotes abuse and rape through the actions of its “romantic” hero.
  • 50 Shades of Grey was ripped off from Twilight, the author of which is too classy to run over to E.L. James’s house, take her earrings off, and throw down the way she is totally entitled to.
  • E.L. James is now and forever shall be a badly behaving author.

angry dome