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Month: April 2013

Inner Goddess journal sneak peek

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

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

But what does it look like inside?

I imagine this is what people will be saying when someone shows them this styled up and branded blank book and says, “It cost $9.99.”
When it was first announced, we were horrified to learn that Inner Goddess: A Journal was going to feature writing “advice” from E.L. James herself.

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

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

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

Two Things That Happened That Involved My Husband.

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

Anyway. I was trying to get the box open. If there is one thing I am not good with, it’s packaging. Even simple, non-window bearing envelopes give me troubles. And this box was glued shut. So, I asked my husband for help, and he just walked away. Sensing that I would perhaps exercise poor judgement in this situation, he returned to find me using one of those rounded-blade, metal icing spatulas to jimmy the box open. Picture Steve Martin in Roxanne using the credit card to open Daryl Hannah’s front door, and but with a fat lady and a box of treats. Obviously, my husband had to stop this, because he didn’t want to drive me to the ER. He muscled me out of the way, manfully tore open the box, and lifted the lid so that I could gaze upon the bounty within.
It was like looking into the Arc of The Covenant, but your face doesn’t melt off and there aren’t any Nazis standing around. Oh, and the Arc of the The Covenant is full of Rice Krispies treats.
I’m about to reach out and take one. My fingers are nearly inside the box. And that asshole slams the lid down and puts the entire stash where I can’t reach it. Not on the highest shelf in the cupboard, but on top of the very cupboard itself.
I have seen the face of true evil, my dear, dear readers. And his name is Joe.
I stood there, silently mouthing my screams of “Why! Why! WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?” so that my anguish would not awaken our children and disturb them or alert them to the eating of Rice Krispies treats.
And Joe said, “Why would I open the box and show it to you, like a treasure chest, then put it up on the highest spot, where you can’t reach it? For this. For this moment.”
Thing The Second: As I explained the Ana-Steele-is-Mary-Bennet slam in my recent 50 Shades Freed recap:

Jenny: “Trust me, you don’t get it because you’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, but that is a sick burn.”

Joe: “Oooh, yeah. Girl burn.”

And yes, “girl burn” was said in admiration.


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

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Before we get started, some links!

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

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

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

Okay, so when we last left everybody in this clusterfuck, Elliot had just proposed to Kate.

The attention of the entire restaurant is trained on Kate and Elliot, waiting with bated breath as one. The anticipation is unbearable. Silence stretches like a taut rubber band. The atmosphere is oppressive, apprehensive, and yet hopeful.

It’s only oppressive to Ana because, as stated, Kate is the center of attention and not her.

Jeez- he could have asked her privately.

Wait, what was that?

Jeez- he could have asked her privately.

Is that… wait. Guys. GUYS.




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Oh fuck, that’s right. Even though Ana apparently understands that a private proposal is less embarrassing and exerts a lot less pressure on the person being proposed to, these books are still a steaming pile of shit. I guess it’s a good thing I stopped my celebration before posting Liza Minnelli singing “New York, New York,” or David Hasselhoff singing “I’ve Been Looking For Freedom” atop the crumbling Berlin Wall or some shit like that. Because that level of enthusiasm would have been embarrassing.
So, of course Kate says yes, and Elliot gives her the ring he picked out with Gia, which Ana finally gets even though it was telegraphed super fucking hard all through the last chapter.
Christian orders champagne to celebrate and tells Kate:

“I hope you are as happy in your marriage as I am in mine.”

That’s rude.
Mia wants to go clubbing like, right now.

I think we should ask Elliot and Kate what they’d like to do.”

As one, we turn expectantly to them. Elliot shrugs and Kate turns puce. Her carnal intent toward her fiance is so clear I nearly spit four-hundred-dollar champagne all over the table.

Notice how when Ana is embarrassed about sex stuff, she flushes or blushes, but if Kate is embarrassed, she turns puce, a red-brown color named after, I shit you not, flea droppings. Because Ana can be the only pretty girl in the room.

Zax is the most exclusive nightclub in Aspen- or so says Mia.

It’s so exclusive, even the Aspen Chamber of Commerce has no clue it exists. You know, I’ve never worried that something I wrote might influence tourism or send vacationers to a place that doesn’t exist. Because that sounds like crazy talk. Even E.L. James didn’t expect her book to become such a success, because no one honestly does. This strikes me as just insanely funny; people are so slavishly devoted to these shitty books that they’re trying to track down the most exclusive fictional nightclub in Aspen… if it’s so exclusive, how do they think they’re getting in?

I glance at my watch- eleven thirty in the evening, and I’m feeling fuzzy. The two glasses of champagne and several glasses of Pouilly-Fume during our meal are starting to have an effect, and I’m grateful Christian has his arm around me.

I get that Ana is a big league alcoholic now, but I’m highly doubting that at an increased altitude she’s “fuzzy” and not black-out unconscious after all of that.

“Mr. Grey, welcome back,” says a very attractive, leggy blonde in black satin hot pants, matching sleeveless shirt, and a little red bow tie. She smiles broadly, revealing perfect all-American teeth between scarlet lips that match her bow tie.

I like how “all-American” is totally a positive thing in this book, while “European” is used as an insult. It doesn’t give insight into how an American character thinks, so much as it gives insight into how a non-American author thinks an American character should think. 

A young man dressed entirely in black, fortunately not satin, smiles as he offers to take my coat. His dark eyes are warm and inviting. I am the only one wearing a coat- Christian insisted I take Mia’s trench coat to cover my behind- so Max has to deal only with me.

See, he let her make her own choice with regards to the dress. She just has to wear a fucking trench coat all night, in August.

“Nice coat,” he says, gazing at me intently.

He’s not flirting, Ana, he’s wondering why you’re wearing a coat in August when it’s clearly so warm that no one else is doing so.

Beside me, Christian bristles and fixes Max with a back-off-now glare. He reddens and quickly hands Christian my coat check ticket.

You can tell the author is really skilled if the only way she can show the romantic connection between two characters is by having them be constantly jealous of people they will never, ever see again and will never have to interact with in day-to-day life.
Ana once again refers to a woman as what she’s wearing:

Miss Satin Hot Pants flutters her eyelashes at my husband, flicks her long blonde hair, and sashays through the entryway. I tighten my grip around Christian, and he gazes down at me questioningly for a moment, then smirks as we follow Miss Satin Hot Pants into the bar.

What, is this woman going to literally rip him from your arms? “I touched him last, he’s mine now!” Jesus. And when will these two idiots get that people who are waiters and waitresses at bars, nightclubs, restaurants, etc. are usually flirting for a bigger tip? It’s not because they have a genuine interest in their customers. Flirting just loosens up some wallets and you have to make that money somehow.
They go into the nightclub, which Ana describes but I really don’t give a shit. The only thing that bothered me was:

The floor and walls vibrate with the music pulsing from the dance floor behind the bar, and lights are whirling and flashing on and off. In my heady state, I idly think it’s an epileptic’s nightmare.

I’m just super offended by that, and I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I have seizures, myself, and I get annoyed with other people who don’t decide what will/will not cause seizures. Usually, because it’s all the same jokes about flashing lights or Japanese tv. But I could be oversensitive because of all the other stuff I hate in these books.
They go to a booth, where I can give you some writing advice:

Kate and Elliot sit back on the soft velvet seating, hand in hand. They look so happy, their features soft and radiant in the glow from the tea lights flickering in crystal holders on the low table.

Word repetition is a bear for every single writer. In fact, if you ever meet a writer who says they don’t have an issue with accidental word repetition, throw holy water on them because they’re a gremlin in disguise. Every writer struggles with this. Here’s how you get rid of word rep like the one I emphasized above. See the first usage? Name a time when velvet has been, I don’t know, sharp or hard as iron. Right. So, if Kate and Elliot just sit back on the velvet seating, we know already that velvet is soft. The first use is unnecessary.
Kate shows Ana her ring, and Christian says he’s picking up the tab for the entire table, despite everyone’s objections. And Ana thinks:

I gaze at him lovingly. My Fifty Shades… always in control.

The obsessive need to control other people isn’t a lovable quality. I’m going to guess that his brother has caught on to Christian’s habit of using his money to control other people, and that’s why he doesn’t want Christian to buy the drinks.
But whatever.
Ana has issues with the waitress, too:

“Thank you, sir. Coming right up.” Miss Hot Pants Number Two gives him a gracious smile, but he’s spared the fluttering of eyelashes, though her cheeks redden a little. 

I’m sure Christian is super relieved to not have a beautiful waitress flirt with him. Because he’s so not-at-all-shallow and totally doesn’t get off on other people having a good opinion of him to the point that he’s buried his actual personality beneath glass-and-steel office buildings and apartments and lavish excess in public. I also feel compelled to point out that once again, the woman who “flushes” or “blushes” over a hundred times in the first book alone is critical of another woman doing the same thing when meeting a famous person in real life.

I shake my head in resignation. He’s mine, girlfriend.

Okay, enough. Just fucking enough with this whole jealousy bullshit. It’s stupid and appeals only to jealous people who base their entire self-worth on whether or not someone else wants what they have. To the rest of us, who have realistic amounts of self-esteem and shit? It just looks petty and immature.
Then, there is a whole fucking chunk of page devoted to Ana once again pointing out to Christian that women find him attractive, and Christian once again pretending that he’s never noticed, and then both of them deciding that neither of them have anything to be jealous about. THEN WHY DID YOU JUST WASTE MY TIME?
Christian gives Ana water to drink:

“Here,” Christian hands me a glass of water. “Drink this.”

I frown at him and see, rather than hear, his sigh.

He doesn’t say, “I don’t want our obvious and overly telegraphed baby to be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome,” though.

“Three glasses of white wine at dinner and two of champagne, after a strawberry daiquiri and two glasses of Frascati at lunchtime. Drink. Now, Ana.”

I call bullshit. TRIUMPHANTLY, I CALL BULLSHIT. Here’s the thing about Colorado: if you’re not from there, it tries to murder you the second you get there. I’ve been to Colorado ONE TIME. It was for a sales conference for Harlequin. Now, I drank a lot at the time. Like, “lie on the form you fill out at the doctor’s office when it asks how much you regularly drink” kind of a lot. I had ONE drink in Colorado Springs, a rum and coke, a drink that I regularly had four or five of a night, and it laid me OUT. Like, staggering, can’t talk kind of laid out. Because I didn’t know about altitude. I also got altitude sickness and was almost strangled to death by my own lymph nodes. I do not buy that Ana could drink that much after being in Aspen for a day and not be in the fucking hospital.

Taking  the glass of water, I down it in a most unladylike manner to register my protest at being told what to do…again. I wipe my hand across the back of my mouth.

Give that last sentence a minute. You’re right, Ana, it is pretty “unladylike” to jam your whole hand into your mouth in public.
The women hit the dance floor, where Ana realizes, hey, she actually really likes dancing:

Why did I spend the first twenty years of my life not doing this? I chose reading over dancing. Jane Austen didn’t have great music to move to and Thomas Hardy… jeez, he’d have felt guilty as sin that he wasn’t dancing with his first wife. I giggle at the thought.

Ana, if you’d ever read any novels by Jane Austen, you would know that Austen herself didn’t have a bad opinion of dancing. In fact, dancing was a pastime that women of her class would have endeavored to be good at, because music and dance were such an important part of culture. And yes, Jane Austen had plenty of “great music” in her time; she lived during what is known as the classical period, a time in music when composers like, you know, Mozart and Haydn and Beethoven and Bach and Gluck were writing music. Sure, their works pale in comparison to Britney Spears’s “Toxic,” but I guess what I’m trying to say is, shut the fuck up, Ana. You aren’t as smart as you think you are.
Oh, also? In Pride and Prejudice Austen wrote: “To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.” So, no, she was not of the opinion that one could either dance or read. If Ana were any character in any Austen book, I’d say she was Mary Bennet.

It’s Christian. He has given me this confidence in my body and how I can move it.

Well, I’m glad your knight in shining armor rode up to rescue you from such a dull life of reading.
This theme of “Christian knows my body better than me” drives me absolutely bonkers. Maybe if you didn’t buy into the patriarchal myth of virtue and virginity being tied to a woman’s worth, you’d be more confident about your body. Now, I get it, we’re all a product of the culture we’re raised in, but Ana is supposed to be this brilliant genius, and she hasn’t figured out she has bodily autonomy yet? Hell, I can’t reliably follow the plot of The Following, for Christ’s sake, and even I know that my accomplishments aren’t all creditable to my husband and his influence over me.

Suddenly, there are two hands on my hips. I grin. Christian has joined me. I wiggle, and his hands move to my behind and squeeze, then back to my hips.

I open my eyes. And Mia is gaping at me in horror. Shit… Am I that bad? I reach down to hold Christian’s hands. They’re hairy. Fuck! They’re not his. I whirl around and towering over me is a blond giant with more teeth than is natural and a leering smile to showcase them.

Ana screams and slaps him, then reinforces the rape culture that got her ass groped in the first place:

I thrust my uninjured hand in front of his face, spreading my fingers to show him my rings.

“I’m married, you asshole!”

Yeah, you show him, Ana. He can’t just sexually assault you! You’re not some kind of whore who’s free for the taking! Someone OWNS you!
The fact that someone probably uses that specific scene to defend Ana as a strong female character makes me want to pry out my teeth with a rusty carving fork.
So, Christian sees the whole thing and comes over and punches the guy, and of course the guy backs right off because Christian is so scary and fierce and manly and intimidating, and Ana is afraid that he’ll literally kill the guy because he’s so angry. Because that’s LOVE, you guys. Your husband being willing to commit murder with his hands on your behalf is ROMANTIC. I guess I just don’t understand the appeal of a violent man, but whatever.

I rub my palm, trying to dispel the sting, and bring my hands down to his chest. My hand is throbbing. I have never slapped anyone before. What possessed me? Touching me wasn’t the worst crime against humanity. Was it?

No, but I feel like if someone puts their hands on me in a way I don’t want them to, they should be prepared for me to put my hands on them in a way they might not like, either. Men decry this as a double standard, “If we’re not allowed to hit women, why are women allowed to hit men?” Well, the simple answer there is, “Some men don’t understand any other language, and you have to do what you have to do as a woman to prevent yourself from being fucking assaulted.”
Ana, has a different take:

Yet deep down I know why I hit him. It’s because I instinctively knew how Christian would react to seeing some stranger pawing me. I knew he’d lose his precious self-control. And the thought that some stupid nobody could derail my husband, my love, well, it makes me mad. Really mad.

So, ladies, remember: it’s not okay to hit someone to stop them groping your ass cheeks in public, but it’s totally justifiable if you’re doing it so your explosively violent husband can save face and not be bested by “some stupid nobody.”
For some reason, they haven’t been thrown out of the bar for fighting, so Ana asks Christian to dance with her:

“Dance with me.” He’s still mad. “Dance. Christian, please.” I take his hands. Christian glares after the guy, but I start to move against him, weaving myself around him.

Pronoun confusion, Ana. You’re moving against the guy, weaving yourself around him.

Oh… Christian can move, really move.

No shit? Because we haven’t read that in EVERY SINGLE GODDAMNED SEX SCENE IN THIS SERIES SO FAR.

He makes me graceful, that’s his skill. He makes me sexy, because that’s what he is. He makes me feel loved, because in spite of his fifty shades, he has a wealth of love to give. 

Usually, I’d be like, “No, the good parts of your personality don’t come from other people, they come from you and I’d wish you’d see that,” but there are no good parts of Ana’s personality to defend. She’s just… there. Sucking up space and being awful, like the human embodiment of a tax audit.
They go back to the table, and I assume someone somewhere in the editing process gave E.L. the note, “Hey, they would have gotten kicked out of a club for fighting like that,” because Ana thinks:

I’m vaguely surprised we haven’t been thrown out.

Because that’s how lazy authors handle their edits, folks. “Gosh, this unexplainable thing happened. Huh. How weird. Moving along.”
They get ready to leave, and at the coat check Kate and Ana discuss what happened on the dance floor:

“He’s rather hot-headed, isn’t he?” Kate adds dryly, staring at Christian as he collects my coat.

I snort and smile. “You could say that.”

“I think you handle him well.”

That’s not praise. No one should have to “handle” their spouse because their temper is so explosive they might get into legal trouble for beating on someone. The only “handling” that situation requires is the insistance that the violent person seek treatment and make substantial changes.
Ana falls asleep in the car, and Christian wakes her up when they get home. Then he takes her inside and takes her shoes off for her, because she’s a sleepy toddler who just got to Grandma’s house:

“I had delightful visions of these around my ears,” he murmurs, staring down wistfully at my shoes.

I have delightful visions of them around your ears, too, Christian. With the heels jammed into your ear canals, spearing through your worthless brain.
Hey, speaking of violent impulses, Jenny. Jesus.
Christian takes Ana upstairs, where he removes her makeup for her, because as we have already established, she’s a fucking child who can’t care for herself.

“Ah. There’s the woman I married,” he says after a few wipes.

“You don’t like makeup?”

“I like it well enough, but I prefer what’s beneath it.”

I hate that guys feel like they can tell women whether or not to wear makeup. Hey, newsflash? We’re not wearing it to impress you. Okay, some of us are. But lots of us wear it because it’s fun. Or it makes us feel good to wear it. Why do so many men think women want to hear that they look better without makeup, that it’s some kind of compliment to criticize our appearance or give us permission to not use makeup? That’s gross, guys. It’s gross.

“Let me help you out of what little there is of this dress. It really should come with a health warning.” He turns me around and undoes the single button at the neck.

“You were so mad,” I murmur.

“Yes. I was.”

“At me?”

“No. Not at you.” He kisses my shoulder. “For once.”

I smile. Not mad at me. This is progress.

It’s progress that her husband doesn’t hold her responsible for the bad actions of another person. Yes, truly, I see what everyone was saying about Christian getting SOOOOO MUUUUUUCH BEEEETTTTEEEEERRRR in the third book. What was I thinking? Clearly, this is a bastion of feminism and empowerment for women.
But even though Ana wants to have sex with Christian, he won’t. Because she’s drunk (that’s never stopped him before, in fact, he used to get her drunk to get her to consent), because she’s tired (even though she’s insisting she’s not), because of the altitude (didn’t bother him in the bathroom earlier). She’s being punished, regardless of the “progress” he’s made. He won’t sleep with her, because she wore slutty makeup and a slutty dress and some other man touched her. Even though he doesn’t tell her this, it’s pretty fucking transparent; he’s ready to ravish her at a moment’s notice, until she expresses confidence in her sexuality and her body. Instead, he’s going to go work, while on vacation, because that’s something he can control.

“Close your eyes. When I come back to bed, I’ll expect you to be asleep.” It’s a threat, a command… it’s Christian.

Swoon, ladies. Swooooooon.

I grin widely, the word progress running around my brain as I drift.

And if you couldn’t tell from the fact that she’s falling asleep, the chapter is over.

The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch s01e08 “I Robot, You Jane”

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

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

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

This episode opens in Cartona, Italy in the early thirteenth century. A green demony dude gets a young Scott Baio impersonator on his knees, so right away you’re thinking, “Wait… is this the right show? Did I accidentally put on some really weird porn?”

The focus on love in this monster porn makes me emotionally uncomfortable. Just get to the fucking.

No, you’re fine. The demon tells (in subtitles, in case you can’t understand poorly accented Italian) Chachi (who inexplicably has Joanie’s haircut) that all he wants is his love. Chachi tells the demon no troubles, I totally love you, and the demon kills him. Isn’t that just like a demon? They get what they want and then they’re just done with you.

A very passionate monk with a great big book starts talking about how Moloch the Corruptor is walking the earth again, seducing people to their deaths. The monks do a spell and trap the demon in a book that conveniently has his picture right on the cover. So you know some monk was like, tirelessly working on that all night.

Yeah, come, demon, and see what a nice job brother Ethelbert did on this scrapbook.

The monk puts the book in a crate and says he hopes it’s never disturbed or something ominous like that, I’m flicking back and forth between windows. The point is, of course it’s going to be disturbed, because:
The library is in chaos, dear readers. There are computers set up on the table, and Giles is all flustered about which books go where. He tells Buffy that after he’s examined the book, Willow can “skin” it. And this is how we meet computer sciences teacher Jenny Calendar:

Jenny: “Scan it, Rupert. That’s… scan it.”

Giles: “Of course.”

Jenny: “Oh, I know our ways are strange to you, but soon you will join us in the twentieth century. With three whole years to spare!”

Die-hard Buffy fans who are a thousand years old, like I am, will remember Jenny Calendar better as “Pearl,” one of Prince’s character concept dancers from his Diamonds and Pearls album. She’s not just on the cover, but in at least three videos that I can remember:

This was in the olden days, when three-ways were still shocking
I’m a huge Prince fan, so right away, I love this woman. The character can do literally no wrong, in my eyes, even when- no, especially when- she’s teasing Giles for being an old fuddy duddy.
And Giles makes this face at her:
Damn, baby, tell us how you really feel.

Giles does not like computers. At all. He even incorrectly calls them “the idiot box,” opening himself up to more teasing from Jenny. But even she isn’t as passionately intense about computers as Fritz, a student who declares that if you’re not “jacked in,” you aren’t alive. I think Fritz needs to do a little less jacking in and a little more jacking of another kind, if you get my meaning. It’s a stress buster.
His top three internet searches are murder, murder, and fly fishing.
Jenny tells the kids it’s time to wrap up, but Willow is going to stay behind to finish scanning the books. She asks Xander if he’ll stay behind and help, but even their friendship isn’t enough for him to voluntarily spend more time in class, and Giles gets torment by Ms. Calendar some more:

Giles: “I’m just going to stay and clean up a little. I’ll be back in the middle ages.”

Jenny: “Did you ever leave?”

So, you know they’re going to do it, right?

Jenny Calendar is kind of an important character in terms of evening out the creepiness of an adult man hanging out with teens all the time. If Giles has a hot lady teacher to be interested in (even if he doesn’t realize he’s into her yet), and that hot lady teacher has a similarly close relationship with her own band of misfit students, they form a unit unto themselves that seems a lot less weird, because their primary relationships aren’t with, you know. Students.

Willow is hard at work using all the blistering technology 1997 can provide to scan in the book containing Moloch.

Interestingly enough, the most outdated thing in this picture is the book. Paper? What, are you new here?

And then Moloch is all:
You’re in Windows 95! Run, Moloch! Run!
After the opening credits, we see Willow strolling dreamily through the hall. Buffy catches up to her and says that she tried to call her the night before, but the line was busy. Willow tells Buffy that she met someone and was talking to him all night and… WHAT THE FFF-

Red flag, guys. Jesus. “I have this picture of this male teacher I hang out with all the time in my locker. I don’t have pictures of like, anyone else I hang out with. Just this adult man I spend a lot of time with.” #8

As they walk to Willow’s computer class, Willow explains that she has never actually seen Malcolm, the boy she’s into, in real life. They’ve been talking online. Then Ms. Calendar comes in late, looking fine as hell and tells Buffy to make the visit short so she doesn’t disrupt class time. And she does it in a really cool, not condescending way that cool teachers use to talk to students like they’re adults. I AM IN LOVE.
As Buffy warns Willow of all the dangers of internet dating in 1997, the computer’s webcam takes a photo of Buffy’s face. Then, on a computer elsewhere in Sunnydale High, Buffy’s student information randomly pulls up:
And transmits to Fritz’s computer:
And Buffy somehow got a year older and skipped a couple grades. Also, my fellow fanatically obsessed people will note that if Buffy were born in 1979, she should probably have been at least a junior in high school in 1997, provided she didn’t get left back or fucked over by some state headstart rule. Also, neither of the birth dates shown in this episode match up to the one that is ultimately put on her headstone when she dies, which puts her birth in 1981 and fits a little better with Buffy’s educational timeline of graduating a year behind me. Yes, my graduation year is the gold standard I’m using, damnit.
Moloch is communicating with Fritz through the computer, and he tells him to watch Buffy. Meanwhile, Buffy is hung up on the idea that Willow is falling for a boy she’s never seen. Willow is unconcerned with his appearance, saying that stuff like that doesn’t matter if you really care about each other. I used to think that, too, before I hooked up with a guy through Yahoo! Personals.
Jenny confronts Fritz about the amount of time he and another student, Dave, have been spending the computer lab. When she asks if she’ll be excited by the secret project they’re working on, Fritz says, “You’ll die.” Which, in Sunnydale, should really be a clue that something is up. Get your shit together, Ms. Calendar.
In the school courtyard, a student using the laptop handed down by his great-great-grandpappy is stressing about his school report suddenly reading like pro-Nazi propaganda.
You know what? I actually had that laptop.
Xander catches up to Willow and asks her if she’s going to The Bronze later, to which she replies that she’s calling it an early night to talk to Malcolm some more. Oh, in case you’re wondering why Buffy couldn’t get Willow on the phone while she was online with Malcolm, that’s because in the hellish dark ages of the internet, we used to have to choose between the phone and internet. It was awful.
Willow isn’t interested in Xander anymore. How does he take this?

Buffy: “She certainly looks perky.”

Xander: “Yeah, color in the cheeks, bounce in the step. I don’t like it. It’s not healthy.

Xander complains to Buffy that everyone is deserting him, and Buffy calls him on the fact that he really liked having Willow’s attention, even if he isn’t interested in her romantically. Good call, Buffy, and we’ll see this happen a lot throughout the series. Xander is never interested in Willow romantically until she’s in a relationship with someone else. He clearly views her as a “back burner” girl, someone he can fall back on if he ever gets desperate enough. Because #5.
However, Xander makes a good point about something: Willow is devoting a lot of time and emotion to a guy she’s never seen in person. Xander says that he could pretend to be an elderly Dutch woman on the internet and people would believe him, and this line of thinking devolves into Willow being axe murdered by a circus freak in Buffy’s imagination.
The next day, Willow is late to school because she overslept. When Buffy points out that she’s altering her normal behavior patterns, Willow becomes defensive. She doesn’t understand why Buffy can’t just be happy for her in her new relationship. Buffy tells her that she wants to be happy for her, but she thinks Willow is throwing caution to the wind when she should really be more careful. Willow tells Buffy that Malcolm warned her that Buffy wouldn’t understand, and Buffy tells Willow that Malcolm was right. Buffy, you are an awesome friend.
Buffy approaches computer geek Dave to grill him about talking to people on the internet. Dave confirms that you could pretend to be anyone on the net, and tells Buffy that it’s a “challenge” to find out which physical location an “e-letter” came from. This episode is like a beautiful and unflinching time capsule of the early days of mainstream internet use. But when Buffy brings up Malcolm, Dave gets defensive and tells Buffy to mind her own business. Buffy thinks “Malcolm” is really Dave, but he denies it and shuts down the conversation.
When Buffy goes to Giles for help, he doesn’t have any answers, owing to his admitted terror of computers. He suggests she follow Dave, and Buffy makes a joke about wearing dark glasses and a trenchcoat to spy on him, and tells Giles to never mind, she can figure it out on her own. So naturally, the next time we see her, she looks like this:
No one else is wearing a coat, Buffy. You look ridic.
Dave pulls up outside of a building with a fence and armed guards, and talks to a guy in a lab coat. For future reference while watching this show, a lab coat is shorthand for evil. In fact, now that I think about it, we need to add a new number to our list. #13, Science and technology are not to be trusted. A security camera points at Buffy, transmitting the image back to Fritz in the Sunnydale computer lab. He tells the computer that Buffy is too close, and asks what he should do.
We all knew that was coming, right?
The building Dave went to is a research and development company Xander’s uncle worked for before it shut down. Buffy points out that it didn’t look shut down, and Giles insults Xander really unnecessarily: 

Xander: “What, I can’t have information sometimes?”

Giles: “It’s just somewhat unprecedented.”

We already know that Giles has a pretty low opinion of teenage boys, from what he said about them in “The Pack.” But what is it about Xander, specifically, that Giles doesn’t like? I’ve watched this show a thousand times, but I can’t figure it out. Unless it’s that Giles can recognize the “Nice Guy” aura radiating from Xander.

Buffy and Xander want to go to CRD, break in, and have a look around, and Giles is warning them against taking such action when Ms. Calendar comes into the library. She accuses Giles of not checking to make sure the new database is working, and he snaps that he was too busy cleaning up the mess she left. Then she notices Buffy and Xander standing there and says:

Jenny: “You guys here again? You kids really dig the library, don’t you?”

And she makes this face:

So at least ONE teacher in Sunnydale thinks that maybe these kids spend too much time with their grownup man friend.

Over in the computer lab, Willow is inexplicably talking out loud as she types messages to Malcolm. He tells her that Buffy only causes trouble, and that’s why she got kicked out of her old school… but Willow doesn’t remember ever telling him about Buffy being kicked out. When she questions him further, Malcolm replies that it was on Buffy’s permanent record, then says Willow must have told him. Uneasy, Willow signs out and leaves the lab.

Back in the library, Jenny and Rupert are fighting like Sam and Diane:

Jenny: “You’re a snob.”

Giles: “I am no such thing.”

Jenny: “Oh, you are a big snob. You think that knowledge should be kept in these carefully guarded repositories where only a handful of white guys can get at it.” 

Giles: “Nonsense! I simply don’t adhere to a knee-jerk assumption that because something is new, it’s better.”

Giles is terrified of the internet and its power to manipulate people. He says “musty old books” have more to say than webpages, and Jenny picks up the Moloch book, which is now blank, owing to the fact that the demon has been scanned into the computer. When she points out that it doesn’t have a lot to say, and Giles realizes what it is, he can’t wait to get her out of there:

Giles: “Well, it’s been so nice talking to you.”

Jenny: “We were fighting.”

Giles: “Must do it again sometime. Bye now.”

In the courtyard, the school nurse is freaking because penicillin allergy wasn’t on a kid’s chart. WTF is a school nurse doing prescribing antibiotics, anyway? Dave catches Buffy and says that Willow was looking for her in the girl’s locker room. Buffy knows something is up. Dave knows that Buffy knows something is up. Shit is about to go down.

Fritz is in the girl’s locker room, waiting for Buffy. He starts the shower, and Buffy, thinking it’s Willow in there, heads in that direction. She sees the shower on and nobody using it, mutters about droughts, and goes to turn it off, overlooking this:

Dave has apparently had a change of heart over the whole murder thing, and warns Buffy just as the water hits the exposed ends of the cable, and she’s blasted out, relatively unharmed.

Her boots, however…

In the computer lab, Dave is having a meltdown. He tells the computer that he can’t kill Buffy, and the computer tells him that all he wants is his love. So, any viewer who hasn’t figured it out by now knows it’s Moloch in there, and we’re all on the same page. Note how they never hit us over the head with the whole, “It’s that demon” thing? This a good episode for “Show, Don’t Tell.” Dave knows that what he’s being asked to do isn’t right. He continues to refuse, and Moloch starts writing his suicide letter, as Fritz stands creepily in the shadows behind Dave.

Anyone else reminded of Full Metal Jacket?
Giles makes tea for Buffy, because tea fixes everything including electrocution, and fills the kids in on Moloch, who is no longer trapped in the book. He sort of blames “that dreadful Calendar woman,” since she’s the one who found the book. They realize that someone would have seen a horned demon walking around Sunnydale, and pretty quickly put together that Moloch has been scanned into the computer and is running around on the internet. Giles suggests that they delete Willow’s file on the computer. Which probably sounded really impressive and tech savvy in 1997, but doesn’t make a lot of sense. They’d have to delete the specific file the book was saved as. Instead, they just find a folder on the desktop labelled “Willow” and try to move it to the trash icon.
It doesn’t go well. I think they need more RAM.

Xander doesn’t see what makes Moloch so dangerous, as long as he’s stuck in a computer:

Xander: “Are we overreacting? He’s in a computer, what can he do?”

Buffy: “You mean besides convince a perfectly nice kid to try and kill me? I don’t know. How about mess up all the medical equipment in the world?”

Giles: “Randomize traffic signals?”

Buffy: “Access launch codes for our nuclear missiles?”

Giles: “Destroy the world’s economy?”

Buffy: “I think I pretty much capped it with that ‘nuclear missile’ thing.”

Giles: “Alright, yours was best.”

Banter! I love it. Convinced, Xander asks what they can do about Moloch. Buffy says they should find Willow, since she’s probably talking to Moloch at that very moment. She goes to the computer lab. Despite the fact that it’s empty, all the computers turn on when she walks in. And then she finds Dave:

Everybody dies at this school. It must be haunted as all hell.

In the library, Xander tries to call Willow at home. There’s no answer, but he doesn’t get a busy signal so he knows she’s not on the internet. LOL, 1997. LOL. Buffy comes in and tells them about Dave, and says she thinks Fritz must be involved with CRD, as well. She asks Giles to talk to Ms. Calendar, since she knows about computers and Giles knows the ritual for binding the demon. When Giles points out that it’s probably going to be tough to convince the computer teacher that there’s a demon in the internet, Buffy tells him it’s that or come up with a new plan.
Willow comes home from school to find that she has email. She ignores it and turns off the monitor, but it comes back on by itself, insisting she has mail. Then the doorbell rings.
Surprise! It’s Fritz, your friendly neighborhood chloroform sample distributor!

In Giles’s office, he’s listening to the voice of Joss Whedon over the radio. Joss announces that the FBI’s serial killer profile database has gone missing, and there’s all sorts of general chaos involving computers. Jenny Calendar shows up and says she got Giles’s message. He tries to dance around explaining that there’s a demon in the internet, but then settles for, “There’s a demon in the internet.” To which Jenny says, “I know.”
Xander and Buffy arrive at Willow’s house, find the door open, and come right in. They find the email message from Moloch, saying he wants to meet Willow, and they decide to head to CRD.
Meanwhile, Giles learns that he has grossly underestimated Jenny Calendar:

Jenny: “Come on, there have been portents for days. I mean, power surges, online shutdowns… you should see the bones I’ve been casting. I knew this would happen sooner or later. I mean, it’s probably a mischief demon, you know, like Kelkor or-“

Giles interrupts her to tell her that it’s Moloch, and when she totally knows who that is, Giles grills her on where she got her knowledge. Jenny gives him a dressing down for his snobbery, insisting that magic exists in cyberspace just as much as in the real world. Jenny is a “technopagan,” and she’s willing to help Giles cast the binding ritual. Buffy calls from CRD to tell Giles about Willow being kidnapped, and asks him to hurry.

Willow wakes up inside CRD, and she finally gets to meet Malcolm face-to-face:

This is EXACTLY what happened to me on Yahoo! Personals!
Moloch is some kind of robot now. I kind of wonder why he went with the horns look and such. I mean, he could have had a much better body that isn’t so, you know. Scary and demon like. He talks about how good it feels to have form again, so he can experience the world and kill Fritz. Buffy and Xander are still on their way, not-so-stealthily climbing the fence outside. Back at the library, Jenny tells Giles that they need to form a circle on the net, so she sends out a message to her fellow technopagans. Moloch tells Willow that he wants to repay her for giving him life again by scanning him out of the book. Moloch is legit in love with Willow, but Willow is not having it. He’s literally offering her the world, but she’s rejecting it. This is a brilliant moment where Willow gets to be a strong female character. She has a guy who is obsessed with her, wants to give her everything she’s ever desired, and she’s turning him down because it’s not what she wants for her heart. Go Willow, go!
Buffy and Xander try to bust into the room where Willow is being held, while Jenny and Giles do the ritual. All the while, Willow is going through the worst breakup of all time. The ritual works, the library computer explodes, and Xander gets to hit someone! Finally! Moloch is bound, and the world is safe.
Except, oh shit, he’s not in the book, and Buffy, Willow and Xander still need to escape CRD. Moloch busts through a wall, Kool-Aid Man style:
Oh yeah!

and punches Xander down. Buffy can’t really fight Moloch, because he’s a robot and therefore very, very strong. He monologues about how powerful he is, then tries to hit Buffy, slams his hand into a circuit box, and that is the end of poor Moloch Malone.
The next day, Giles comes by the computer lab to return Jenny’s earring. Which he says he found with some books, but… uh… wait, what was she doing in the library that her earring came off? Quick, to the smutfic machine!
Jenny teases Giles about his aversion to technology, and asks him what it is about computers that bothers him so much:

Giles: “The smell. 

Jenny: “Computers don’t smell, Rupert.”

Giles: “I know. Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower or a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell must and- and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is-it… it has no texture, no, no context. It’s there and then it’s gone. If it’s to last, then the getting of knowledge should be tangible. It should be, um… smelly.”

Oh, and he looks like this while he’s talking about how fucking much he loves books:

Pardon me. There are some things I need to do. ALONE.

Jenny makes a crack about him being old-fashioned, and he makes a joke about her earring and how it’s like “dangling a corkscrew” from her ear. Then she says that’s not where she dangles it from. Wait, so how did she lose it in the library? Girl has been spending too much time with Prince.

 In the courtyard, Xander asks if they’re all going to go to The Bronze, but Willow is still really upset that the only boy who have ever liked her turned out to be a demon robot. Buffy and Xander try to console her over the fact that Buffy fell for a vampire and Xander almost had sex with a giant praying mantis. Then they all laugh over the fact that they’re doomed to never have a satisfying romantic relationship.

And then they stop laughing.

This episode is a really good example of how something you write can get dated very quickly. A viewer seeing it for the first time today would probably think it was very cute and funny that there was a tv show in the 90’s talking about the dangers of internet dating, something that has become very commonplace now. It’s also a good reminder of how scared we as a society were of technology that we later embraced and incorporated into our daily lives. Rather than using the internet occasionally for things like researching papers or finding recipes, many of us spend our entire lives on the internet. We have friends we never meet in person, bond over common interests, all the stuff that Moloch was misguidedly trying to do when looking for love. So, in a way, aren’t we all kind of Moloch?

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

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

So, I really hate this fucking book.

We land smoothly at Sardy Field at 12:25 p.m. (MST).

Damn. I can never catch a break.

“Good landing.” Christian grins and shakes Stephan’s hand as we get ready to file out of the jet.

“It’s all about the density altitude, sir.” Stephan smiles back. “Beighley here is good at math.”

I wish Beighley would have been good at science, instead, and then all of these characters would be dead now.

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

“He’s excellent at long division, Seth.”

They get off the plane and into a minivan. Which surprises me, because it’s not a gold-plated minivan, or a minivan studded with diamonds and full of BDSM gear or something. It’s just a regular minivan, and Christian makes a joke about making out in the back of it.

I giggle. Who is this man, and what has he done with Mr. Unbelievably Angry of the last couple of days?

I’m no psychologist, but that’s not going to stop me from diagnosing Christian Grey with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

For some unfathomable reason I feel shy with him today. Why? Last night? Being with company? I can’t put my finger on it.

It’s because you’re used to being completely isolated with him, and now there are people around, so you don’t know how to behave or what your role is supposed to be, and you’re afraid you’re going to be punished if you don’t do everything exactly right. And gosh, I don’t know where you got that idea from, when Chedward has been such a supportive and understanding partner so far.

Hey, have you ever overheard someone criticizing a piece of art by saying, “My kid could draw that?”

The trees are green, but a whisper of the coming fall is evident here and there in the yellowing tips of the leaves. The sky is a clear crystal blue, though there are darkening clouds to the west. All around us in the distance loom the Rockies, the highest peak directly ahead. They’re lush and green, and the highest are capped with snow and look like a child’s drawing of the mountains.

My kid could draw that.

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

But the statement that it looks like a child’s drawing is just so classically Ana. She cannot be impressed with anything. Ever.

We’re in the winter playground of the rich and famous. And I own a house here. I can barely believe it. And from deep within my psyche, the familiar unease that’s always present when I try to wrap my head around Christian’s wealth looms and taunts me, making me feel guilty. What have I done to deserve this lifestyle? I’ve done nothing, nothing except fall in love.

There’s nothing I like more than a little Dutch Reform Protestantism in my poverty shaming porn. Let’s talk some more about worldly wealth and how if you’re not “deserving” of it, you should be ashamed to have it or aspire to it. This does not sound classist at all.

Ethan asks Ana if she’s ever been to Aspen, and it turns out Kate and Ethan came there all the time as kids to go skiing.

“I’m hoping my husband will teach me how to ski.” I glance up at my man.

I struggle to hold back my vomit.

“Don’t bet on it,” Christian mutters.

“I won’t be that bad!”

“You might break your neck.” His grin gone.

Oh. I don’t want to argue and sour his good mood, so I change the subject.

“Husband, I would like to do this activity that, while carrying a high amount of risk at advanced levels, is safe enough that a child can do it as a beginner. That’s okay, right?” “NO! Now get back into your plastic bubble, and don’t even think about standing and walking anywhere ever again. You might get a blister and my fragile psyche couldn’t bear even the slightest injury to your person.”

Yeah, that’s totally sane, right?

On the car ride, Ana notices something not right about Kate’s mood:

[…] Kate is quiet, and I wonder if she’s brooding about Jack Hyde or something else. Then I remember. Aspen… Christian’s house here was redesigned by Gia Matteo and rebuilt by Elliot. I wonder if that’s what’s preoccupying Kate.

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

Ana asks Christian why he bought a place in Aspen:

“Mom and dad used to bring us here when we were kids. I learned to ski here, and I like the place. […]”

“Ana, I just really want to drive the point home here. I don’t think you’re capable at age twenty-two to safely engage in an activity that I, the almighty Chedward, mastered as a child.”

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

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

A woman comes out to greet them:

She’s tiny and her raven-colored hair is dusted with gray.

So, she’s old, and therefore she may live without constant death glares and conflict over imagined slights from her new employer. Christian tells Ana that the housekeeper is Mrs. Bentley, and I double over laughing because he’s a billionaire who drives an Audi and has a housekeeper named Bentley.

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

They go inside, and of course we have to hear how humble Ana is:

How much did this place cost? And I have contributed nothing to it. Briefly I’m transported back to the first time Christian took me to Escala. I was overwhelmed then. You got used to it, my subconscious hisses at me.

I am getting so tired of this whole, “Oh, I’m so uncomfortable with wealth” bullshit from Ana. We already know that Kate’s family is rich, and that Ana has benefited from that wealth. She lived rent free all through college because of it, and moved (briefly) into another free apartment because of it. She had no problem taking from Kate, even going so far as to borrow Kate’s Mercedes and drive it super fast on the highway for fun. But Christian’s wealth is somehow sacred. Why? I get a moment or two of, “Holy shit, this guy is super rich,” when they get on the private jet or whatever. But at this point she’s seen his house, he’s bought her two cars, they’ve gone out on his sailboat, they spent weeks in France on a yacht, he bought her a house… why is she still bowled over by how rich he is?

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

Speaking of Ana’s subconscious, I’m officially imagining these two as her subconscious and inner goddess:

Dame Sally’s books are also infinitely better than this one.

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

The master bedroom has a view of the mountain:

“That’s Ajax Mountain… or Aspen Mountain, if you like.”

“Because I own it and can name it whatever I choose! If you don’t like it, I’ll knock it down and put up a rainforest instead! We’ll level the whole town and fuck on any pool table we like! THE WORLD IS OURS!” Yes, I know locals call it Ajax, but I don’t care. It’s funnier to imagine our Master of The Universe renaming mountains as he pleases.

Ana is like, obsessed with Gia, because she brings her up again. I’m really starting to believe the theories about Ana’s latent homosexuality you guys have come up with, because she cannot let Gia go in this chapter. She asks what she did to the house, and she asks if Christian knows that Elliot slept with her, which leads to another homophobic conversation. You know, since we haven’t had one of those in a while:

“Elliot’s fucked most of Seattle, Ana.”

I gasp.

“Mainly women, I understand,” Christian jokes. I think he’s amused by my expression.


Christian nods. “It’s none of my business.” He holds his palms up.

“I don’t think Kate knows.”

“I’m not sure he broadcasts that information. Kate seems to be holding her own.”

I’m shocked. Sweet, unassuming, blond, blue-eyed Elliot? I stare in disbelief.

I can’t even with this nonsense. First of all, why does Ana assume that Kate must not know about Elliot’s sexual past or bisexuality? The thing about relationships that aren’t with Christian Grey is, people talk to each other in them. Second, is Ana implying that if a woman finds out her guy is bisexual or has had sexual experiences with men in the past, that’s an automatic break up? Third… what the hell does being blond and sweet have to do with anything? I didn’t realize hair color had anything to do with sexuality.

Christian tilts his head to one side, scrutinizing me. “This can’t just be about Gia’s or Elliot’s promiscuity.”

“I know. I’m sorry. After all that’s happened this week, it’s just…” I shrug, feeling tearful all of a sudden.

She’s tearful after talking about Gia, this woman she’s obsessed with, and Elliot being bisexual? Yup, you guys called it. Ana has some major confusion over her own sexuality.

“I know. I’m sorry, too. Let’s relax and enjoy ourselves, okay? You can stay here and read, watch god-awful TV, […]”

Read a god-awful book, start drinking just to cope…

Christian advises Ana to forget what he said about Elliot, because apparently someone’s sexuality can totally ruin someone else’s good time. Ana thinks Elliot’s sexual past is why he teases Christian:

“He really has no idea about my past. I told you, my family assumed I was gay. Celibate, but gay.”

I giggle and begin to relax in his arms. “I thought you were celibate. How wrong I was.” I wrap my arms around him, marveling at the ridiculousness of Christian’s being gay.

Yeah, how fucking ridiculous! A gorgeous guy who is attractive to women being GAY.

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

Ana asks Christian why he has a place in Aspen, and he says it was because he was waiting for her and didn’t know it yet. So… he was waiting for the woman of his dreams, someone he could whisk away to Aspen, where she’s not allowed to do anything outside of the house because it might be too dangerous? Why not just stay at home and save the gas money?

“Christian, you are the state lottery, the cure for cancer, and the three wishes from Aladdin’s lamp all rolled into one.”

For my first wish, kill them. Kill them both.

After some more talk about how Christian is such a catch but also a damaged little boy or whatever, there’s a section break, and it’s raining outside.

We are sitting around the dark wood table in the kitchen, having consumed an Italian feast of a mixed antipasto, prepared by Mrs. Bentley, and a bottle or two of Frascati. I’m replete and little buzzed from the alcohol.

Antipasto isn’t a feast. It’s a starter. Now, you may be thinking that two bottles of wine between six people isn’t enough to get a routine alcoholic like Ana buzzed, but they’re at a higher altitude now. See also, Jenny after ONE DRINK at the Harlequin sales conference in Colorado Springs.

“There goes our hike,” Elliot mutters, sounding vaguely relieved. Kate scowls at him. Something is definitely up with them. They have been relaxed with all of us but not with each other.

You mean, not as relaxed as, say, a woman who feels “shy” around her own husband, Ana?

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

Ana, Kate, and Mia go into a boutique where they get Ana to try on a really skimpy dress.

I glance down at The Dress in my hand. Dress is perhaps an overstatement. It’s backless and very short, but Mia has declared it a winner, perfect for dancing the night away. Apparently, I need shoes, too, and a large chunky necklace, which we’ll source next. Rolling my eyes, I reflect once more on how lucky I am to have Caroline Acton, my own personal shopper.

She’s actually Christian’s personal shopper, remember, and bought all of Ana’s clothes based on Christian’s tastes. But because Bella doesn’t like shopping (and this scene is clearly the stand-in for the prom dress shopping scene in Twilight), Ana can’t, either. While Mia and Kate try on clothes, Ana looks out the window and sees:

Through the boutique window I’m distracted by the sight of Elliot. He has appeared on the other side of the leafy main street, climbing out of a large Audi. He dives into a store as if to duck out of the rain. Looks like a jewelry store… maybe he’s looking fo that watch battery. He emerges a few minutes later and not alone – with a woman.

Fuck! He’s talking to Gia! What the hell is she doing here?

As I watch, they hug briefly and she holds her head back, laughing animatedly at something he says. He kisses her cheek and then runs to the waiting car. She turns and heads down the street, and I gape after her. What was that about?

Mia and Kate don’t see this exchange, and when they come out, Ana doesn’t tell them about it. Which is a wise move on her part, I think. They go to pay for their stuff, and Ana gets all weird about the sales assistant:

The young sales assistant – who has more gloss coating her lips than I have ever seen in one place – smiles at me. “That’ll be eight hundred and fifty dollars.”

What? For this scrap of material! I blink at her and meekly hand over my black Amex.

“Mrs. Grey,” Ms. Lip Gloss purrs.

Why is Ana so snarky about this woman?! There is absolutely no reason this exchange had to be included in the book at all! We don’t care about her purchasing the dress. There is more important (relatively speaking) shit going on right now! The only reason E.L. James included the sales girl with the lip gloss was to give her heroine yet another chance to openly disparage another female! That’s all! It’s there ONLY FOR THE MISOGYNY.

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

Back at the house, Kate makes strawberry daiquiris and they sit around in front of the fire. IN AUGUST. I checked in with my husband and read him this passage:

Once back at the house, Kate decides we deserve cocktails after our shopping extravaganza and whips up some strawberry daiquiris for us. We curl up on the sitting room couches in front of the blazing log fire.

Now, keep in mind that Mr. Jen is a bit… fiery, before you read his response: “Everything about that sounds awful. The imagery of strawberry daiquiris in front of a fire makes me uncomfortable. Imagine trying to suck down a goddamned sweet as shit daiquiri in front of a goddamned bonfire in your goddamned living room in the middle of the goddamned summer. Boy is that classy! And who goes to fucking Aspen in August? Does he have the shitty slot for the time share?”

I pretty much have nothing to add to that.

“Elliot has just been a little distant lately,” Kate murmurs, gazing into the flames. Kate and I finally have a moment to ourselves as Mia puts away her purchases.


“And I think I’m in trouble for getting you in trouble.”

“You heard about that?”

“Yes. Christian called Elliot; Elliot called me.”

EXCUSE ME? Let’s examine the reality of what Ana calls “Cocktailgate.” The actual reality, not the one the author wants us to accept as fact.

  1. Ana decides to go out and have drinks with Kate.
  2. Christian gets mad at Kate because Ana decided to go out.
  3. Christian calls Elliot and confronts him.
  4. Because Elliot is dating, and therefore owns, Kate.
  5. Elliot gets mad at Kate on his brother’s behalf.
  6. Because Elliot is dating, and therefore owns, Kate.
Now that we’ve got that all taken care of, what does Ana feel is the real problem with Kate and Elliot’s relationship?

I resolve not to mention Gia, though I might mention it to the manwhore himself. How dare he mess with my friend’s affections like this?

No, Ana. Elliot isn’t messing with Kate’s affections, Christian is. He’s trying to drive a wedge between Kate and his brother because he doesn’t like Kate. And it would be a great one-two punch to Ana’s friendship with Kate. “You can’t see her anymore because of how things fell apart with my brother.” Then Jose and Kate would both be out of the picture. He’s systematically cutting her off from everyone she knows.

Ana goes out to the garage get more wood for the fire, where she runs into Elliot. He suggests she try out the dirt bikes, and she says no because, of course, Christian wouldn’t like her to do something dangerous:

Memories of Ethan bravely endeavoring to teach me how to ride last summer flash through my mind. Unconsciously, I rub my arm where I badly bruised it in a fall.

Oh, you mean when you were Bella Swan and Jacob taught you how to ride dirt bikes? But notice how Ana is a far superior wife compared to Bella; even though Bella knew Edward wouldn’t want her riding dirt bikes (because Edward Cullen was also a controlling ass in the beginning of that series), she did it anyway. How DARE she.

“Christian has, um… issues about my safety. I shouldn’t.”

“You always do what he says?” Elliot has a wicked sparkle in his baby-blue eyes, and I see a glimmer of the bad boy… the bad boy Kate has fallen in love with. The bad boy from Detroit.

That last part is so silly. Elliot was a child when they moved away from Detroit. It’s not like they were hanging out in street gangs or something. The most “bad boy” thing Elliot probably did in Detroit is color on the walls.

Christian and Ethan get back from fishing:

“You’re wet,” I murmur.

“It was raining. […]”

Christian wonders why everyone is in the garage, because at this point, Kate has come in, too.

“Ana came to fetch some wood.” Elliot arches an eyebrow. Somehow he manages to make that sentence sound smutty. “I tried to tempt her to take a ride.” He is a master of double entendre.

So, he’s not only making innuendos about his brother’s wife in front of his brother, but he’s doing it in front of his own girlfriend, who is also Ana’s best friend. Elliot is just as much a catch as his brother is, I guess.

“Listen, I”m all for standing around discussion what Ana did next, but shall we go back inside?” Kate snaps. She stoops down, snatches up two logs, and turns on her heel, stomping toward the door. Oh shit. Kate is mad – but I know it’s not at me.

At least one character in this shit show can hang their anger on the right peg. JeSUS.

Just in case you were looking for resolution on the whole dirt bike thing:

You can ride a motorcycle?” he asks, his voice laced with disbelief. 

 “Not very well. Ethan taught me.”

His eyes frost immediately. “you made the right decision,” he says, his voice much cooler.

I look forward to book four of this series, in which Christian learns that Ana had a male math teacher in seventh grade, then has the the guy killed and Ana’s memory of numbers erased so that she has never learned anything from any man other than Christian.

“[…] You’re wet… Let me run you a bath.”

That’s not really going to take care of the “wet” problem now, is it?

Ana runs a bath, but she and Christian have sex while it’s filling up. It’s off-screen sex, and we come back from a section break to find:

“Shit, the water!” I struggle to sit up, all postorgasmic and dazed.

Christian doesn’t release me.

“Christian, the bath!” I gaze down at him from my prone position across his chest.

He laughs. “Relax – it’s a wet room.”

Yeah, relax, Ana. Listen to Christian “I care sooooooo fucking much about Africa” Grey, running a ton of fresh water all over the place while all over the world children drink contaminated water and get horrible diseases.

We sit at opposite ends of the bath, which is very full – so full that whenever we move, water laps over the side and splashes to the floor.

But whatever.

I wouldn’t be so annoyed by the water wasting thing unless he hadn’t made it such a sanctimonious point about how much he cares about developing countries and their food and water and making things sustainable for the environment blah blah blah. Is it too much to ask for just one thing about this series to be consistent? If he had just said, “There’s good money in pretending about this environmentalism bullshit, so that’s why I do it,” then I could understand the water wasting and the giant, petroleum guzzling yacht trips.
Ana tells Christian that she saw Gia in town, and Christian says he thinks she has a place in Aspen, and he’s not worried that Elliot is cheating on Kate:

“Ana, they’re just friends. I think Elliot is pretty stuck on Kate.” He pauses, then adds more quietly, “In fact, I know he’s pretty stuck on her.” And he gives me his I-have-no-idea-why look.

“Kate is gorgeous.” I bristle, championing my friend.

He snorts. “Still glad it was you who fell into my office.”

Just in case you were worried that Ana saying something nice about Kate might make Christian fall head over heels in love with her, rest easy. The author reassures us once again that Edward Cullen is fully, truly in love with E.L. James and not some blonde hussy. Erm, I meant… oh, never mind.

It’s time to go out and party. Let’s see how Ana looks:

My hair is full and straight, my eyes ringed with kohl, my lips scarlet red. I look… hot. I’m all legs, especially in the high-heeled Manolos and my indecently short dress. I need Christian to approve, though I have a horrible feeling he won’t like so much of my flesh exposed.

Because she’s a fucking prisoner in her own marriage, she picks up her BlackBerry and emails the warden. The warden who, by the way, is in the same house, but god forbid a chapter go by without a page long email exchange between the two of them.

As I read his e-mail, the bedroom door opens, and Christian freezes on the threshold. His mouth pops open and his eyes widen.

Holy crap… this could go either way.

“Well,” I whisper.

“Ana, you look… Wow.”

“You like it?”

“Yes, I guess so.”

Oh Chedward, but you do know how to turn a girl’s head.

He stands behind her and makes her look in the mirror while he hikes her dress up and fingers her, talking all the while about how short her skirt is:

“This is mine,” he murmurs in my ear. Closing his eyes, he moves his finger slowly in and out of me. “I don’t want anyone else to see this.”

This is another one of those disappointing lines that could have been hot, if we didn’t know that by “this” Chedward doesn’t mean her vagina in the context of their D/s relationship, but literally every single facet of her life in the context of their fucked up, controlling marriage.

But listen, everybody. Remember when we kept hearing from various anonymous commenters that in the third book, Christian actually gets better and is totally swoon worthy? This is the chapter where it happens:

“You approve?” I whisper.

“No, but I’m not going to stop you from wearing it. You look stunning, Anastasia.”

Here, you might need this.

After a section break (and after I recovered from my shock at Christian not demanding Ana don a full body burlap suit complete with hood), everyone on the Aspen trip is waiting for dessert in the restaurant.

Christian seems at ease. He’s been talking animatedly with Ethan. They obviously bonded over the fly-fishing. They’re talking about psychology, mainly. Ironically, Christian sounds the more knowledgeable.

Of course he does. Ethan is only going for what, his masters? Of course Christian “know it all” Grey knows more about psychology than Ethan. Ana chalks this up to his numerous therapists. Is that how it works? You just have enough interactions with someone and you become an expert at their profession? Congratulate me, everyone, I have just become a medical doctor AND a bartender.

Ana thinks Kate and Elliot seem like they’re not having a great time:

Have they had a fight? What’s eating him? Is it that woman?

Wherein the blogger contemplates the appropriateness and maturity of a rimming joke.

HA! Rimming.
Ana is still real, real hung up on Gia:

I glance at the entrance, half expecting to see Gia calmly saunter her well-groomed ass across the restaurant to us.

God, Ana, why are you so interested in how Gia grooms her ass?

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

Then Elliot proposes to Kate with the corniest, most fake-sounding proposal in the history of shitty writing:

“My beautiful Kate, I love you. Your grace, your beauty, and your fiery spirit have no equal, and you have captured my heart. Spend your life with me. Marry me.”

And naturally, Ana’s reaction is:

Holy shit!

Thus ends yet another chapter. But now I’m over halfway done! HUZZAH AND HURRAH ALL AROUND!

Roadhouse season 2 is on like Donkey Kong.

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

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