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Month: February 2013

SPOILER ALERT. So, The Walking Dead sucks now.

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Sunday night wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it’s one of the straws that will eventually crush the poor bastard if I decide to keep watching. Season 3 has been a fucking train wreck, and I was hoping that after the midseason break, things would get better. But we’re getting to the point where I can no longer suspend disbelief and continue enjoying the show when it’s obvious that literally none of these characters would be surviving the zombie apocalypse if there weren’t writers playing deus ex machina for them. Before I start outlining why I now hate the show, let me say that I don’t care what happened in the comics, because the writers of the show are clearly not concerned with that, either. And don’t begin an argument against one of these points with, “They explained it on Talking Dead,” because that doesn’t hold water with me. I shouldn’t have to watch a second show to get the plot holes of the first show explained away for me. I’m taking the show itself on its own merits, and I’m finding it lacking for the following reasons (again. There will be spoilers):

  1. This season’s entire plot would have been avoided if they’d had the foresight to scavenge for baby supplies in the nine months that Lori was pregnant. Think about this, guys. We’ve seen these characters go in and out of abandoned houses and stores and things. I’m sure that in their travels, they had to have come across supplies like diapers and formula and bottles. They had nine whole months to get what they needed for the impending arrival. Instead, they wait until the baby is there, send two of their people out to get supplies, and they get captured, leading to the conflict with Woodbury. Why did it happen like this? Because the writers need to be able to send characters down to the store for a gallon of milk so that they can run into the plot.
  2. There is a scientist in Woodbury who is fucking useless. Hello, my name is Glasses McUseless, and I work as a scientist in a big lab in Woodbury. I’m sorry, what was that? Find a cure for the zombie disease that will wipe out humanity? No, I’m really busy trying to figure out if zombies remember their grandchildren when I play this old record and ring a bell. This is a good use for our resources.
  3. The writers of this show think we can’t tell two black male actors apart. It’s pretty clear that T-Dog had to die because they were introducing Tyrese, and in Walking Dead-land, more than one black guy in the group is just unacceptable. Look, we started out in season one with Morgan and Duane. Rick split with them to go find his wife and son, but there were hints in the narrative that they these two would find Rick again. Once Rick met up with Camp Dinner Bell, though, we were introduced to T-Dog. At the beginning of season 2 it was again hinted that Morgan and Duane might return, but they never did, and Camp Dinner Bell didn’t meet any more black people (except for the dude who got tore up by zombies during the stand off in the bar and whose total screen time contribution was being shady and eaten). T-Dog stuck it out for the whole season, though he was never given anything important to do other than get an infection and carry stuff, and he barely had any lines. Then season 3 started, and the group found the prison, where they met two more black guys, one of whom Rick promptly locks up in a prison yard with some zombies, but the other guy joins the group, so RIP, T-Dog for no reason. But then Tyrese showed up, and I thought, “Well, this noble prison guy isn’t long for this world.” And boom, he dies in the attack on Woodbury. Now we’re back to one black male main cast member. He better hope Morgan and Duane don’t show up, or else he gets the axe next. Of all the stupid Hollywood conventions the writers of this show fall back on, this one is the most frustrating. Not just because of the obvious racism, but because they’re establishing these characters and hinting at their pasts and personalities to get us interested before killing them off with no pay off, or just abandoning their story lines for a whole season while they carry stuff in the background. While the people behind the show trust our ability as an audience to tell the difference between any number of dirt smeared white blond ladies, clearly we’ll become confused if there is more than one black male involved in the story at any time.
  4. The characters are surviving without making any smart choices or adapting in any way. It’s roughly one year post-zombie apocalypse, and the characters are still relying on automobiles for transport and survival. They’re still running down to the store for one or two items with the idea that they’ll go back if they need anything else (this was the most obnoxious in season 2, when Glenn and Maggie would make trips to the pharmacy so the writers could develop their relationship and put people in danger that never paid off). They find a prison where they can stay safe from walkers and outsiders, then they immediately start splitting into groups and running around outside of the prison. If it weren’t for the writers saving them, they would all be dead already, and that’s super frustrating. It’s hard to root for characters who won’t do anything to assure their own safety or survival.
  5. How are they keeping these cars running, anyway? In the first episode of season three, we saw our band of survivors creeping around yards, through houses, on foot. I assumed it was because they had ditched their cars. Then they find the prison and go back and get their cars. First of all, at the end of season 2, they were hard up for gas. Where and when did they find more in the eight or nine months between seasons? And where did they find brake pads for the Hyundai that was squeaking like a sugar glider on coke back in season 2, but now sounds just fine? Furthermore, if these people have cars, why did it take them so long to find the prison, which at the end of season 2 appeared to be at most a mile away?
  6. I thought we were rid of Lori. Ghost Lori is just unacceptable, okay? I didn’t like her alive, I want no part of her dead.
  7. Every character has flipped personalities, or new characters have stepped up to don abandoned personalities. Tyrese is clearly the Rick of his group, and that other guy whose name I’m not going to bother to learn because he’s going to die soon anyway is the Shane. Tyrese argues with Rick that if they leave the prison, they don’t have a chance… and Rick becomes season 2 Herschel, arguing that they can’t trust them. Meanwhile Herschel has become season 2 Maggie, arguing that they can’t just let this new group go. Carl has taken on the role of season 1 Rick, and now Rick is losing his marbles, so I guess he’s the Shane of their group now? It’s like the writers have a finite number of characterizations and no idea how to complete an arc, so they just Invasion of The Bodysnatchers everybody until there’s no more room for further lunacy, then they kill them. This is not satisfying television, guys. It’s frustrating.
  8. Andrea is the worst. 

Are you loving or hating this season of The Walking Dead? I’m interested to see what y’all have to say about it, because I know some people are feeling this is the best season yet.

Why I’m pissed off about guns in my kids’ school.

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This morning, I was having my coffee, doing my normal Facebook creeping when I found a local news story about the school that my son and daughter attend. Normally, I would never disclose this information about my kids to the internet at large, but this is a special circumstance.

I do not want my children in a school where anyone is carrying a gun. Not because I’m a raving anti-gun liberal. I think I’ve made it very clear in the past that I am a fan of guns and shooting things that aren’t people. I think guns are rad as hell. But I also have a working brain and I realize that while a gun is a tool, the same as a hammer or a chainsaw, it is not the only tool for a job, or the right tool for every job.

The school board, other parents, and local police feel differently. And that’s fine. I think it would have been awesome if parents had been notified by someone other than the local news station about this impending change, but whatever. Here’s why putting guns in the school is going to make it a dangerous place, and why I’m going to be making some tough choices about the future of schooling of my children:

1. More guns won’t solve our mass shooting problem. Columbine had armed security. Didn’t help. In the Aurora shooting, the suspect was wearing body armor. A trained sniper would have had trouble taking him out, and it wouldn’t have been a shot that was possible with a handgun. Allowing teachers and other volunteer civilians to carry firearms in school will just mean more bullets flying around, killing children.

2. People in positions of authority over children already abuse that power to be predators. I’m not saying that all of the volunteers in this program are molesters. I’m not suggesting that even one of them are inclined to molest a kid. However, we’re talking about a program in which the people carrying the firearms are anonymous. How long before, “Don’t tell mom and dad, because I have a gun and can shoot you,” becomes a useable threat? Even by people who aren’t in the program, because remember, we don’t know who has that gun. Answer: At exactly the same time we have people anonymously carrying guns in the school.

3. Kids shouldn’t be afraid of getting shot at school. Not by a teacher, not by another student, not by a volunteer or an armed gunman. It shouldn’t be a possibility. Psychologically, what does it do to these kids to know there are armed people wandering around the school? “But Jenny, you can just tell your kids that the people with guns are there to protect them.” Awesome, now do they not only have to fear a school shooting in the first place, but I’ve just indoctrinated my kids into the gun culture behind the mass shootings in the first place. You know, the culture that tells us guns are always the solution? On top of that, I’m teaching my kids that stranger + gun = safety. Great plan, school system, bang up job.

4. An intelligent person would not trust someone they don’t know to have a gun around their child in their absence. That seems like it should be Parenting 101, guys. There are people in this town I wouldn’t trust around my kids, and sure as hell not with a gun. And since I don’t know who’s got a gun, I don’t know if I can say it’s okay for my kids to be around them.

5. If there are more guns in the school, there are more guns for a shooter to use. What happens when a school shooter exchanges fire with an armed civilian, then kills the civilian? All the video games and movies the shooter has ever seen have already trained him or her to pick up that gun and ammo and continue on the rampage with more fire power. Furthermore, when the kids figure out who these armed volunteers are (and they will find out. Some kid is going to tell their friends, “my dad brings a gun to school, so he can shoot you,” and the cover is blown. Kids don’t keep secrets), all it takes is for one kid to disarm that teacher or volunteer. Now, that kid is armed, whereas he might not have been before.

6. These volunteers are human, and they will make mistakes. No matter how much training someone has, they can always panic, or snap, or be irresponsible. The worst case scenario is that one of these armed volunteers will go on a spree themselves. The more likely scenario is that someone will leave their gun in a bathroom or something because people are prone to dumb mistakes, no matter how certain we are that we could never, ever do something like that.

Look, I’m sure the people who signed up for this program are really nice people. No, actually, I’m not sure, because I don’t know who the hell they are. So, you know, see #4. But let’s assume they all went into this program with the good intention of wanting to protect kids. I’m absolutely sure Chief Pierce is training the volunteers well and I have every confidence that he’s also coming at this program from a good place, but I am not willing to send my kids to school where there are people I do not know wandering around with guns.

I realize this post is scattered at best and nonsensical at worst. But I firmly believe that the best way my kids can avoid being shot at school is for there to be no guns in their school, no matter who is carrying.

50 Shades Freed recap chapter 5, or “In praise of vague anal.”

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We had an amazing weekend on twitter. Someone came up with the idea to make a #50ShadesIsAbuse hashtag. Actor Stephen Fry (!) tweeted the hashtag to his followers and the damn thing exploded. Once the 50 Shades fans caught wind of the criticism, they circled the wagons. Some of them promptly jumped at the chance to threaten violence against people who didn’t like the book, and to tell real domestic violence survivors that they deserved their abuse or should be the targets of further abuse. Some went a more subtle route, repeatedly reporting one #50ShadesIsAbuse poster until his account was suspended twice.
So basically, these books are attracting only the very best people.
In response to all this, a 50 Shades is Abuse blog ring was created. If you feel like despairing at humanity for exalting this book, here’s the link.
Also, someone more familiar with Twilight than I am is calling out the instances of blatant plagiarism in 50 Shades. Lest we forget that E.L. James isn’t an author. She’s a plagiarist.
And then there’s this: A fool and his money are soon parted.

When last we left Ana and Christian, they were going to make the security team wait in the other room while they had sex. Christian asks Ana if she wants “kinky fuckery.”

I nod, feeling my face flame. Why am I embarrassed by this? I have done all manner of kinky fuckery with this man. He’s my husband, damn it! Am I embarrassed because I want this and I’m ashamed to admit it? My subconscious glares at me. Stop over-thinking.

Ana, no one would ever acuse you of over thinking. But what really pisses me off about this paragraph is her assumption that because this man is her husband, she should be able to just give up her body and her desires to him without any reservation. The thing is, that kind of relationship requires trust, and there’s no trust between Ana and Christian except for the trust he’s forced her to put in him. And even then, she has doubts, so tell me again why she should be totally comfortable sharing anything personal with him at all?

Christian asks if he has “‘Carte blanche'” during this kinky fuckery:

Carte blanche? Holy fuck – what will that entail? “Yes,” I murmur nervously, as excitement blooms deep inside me.

You may remember that the last time she gave him “carte blanche,” he beat the ever living fuck out of her with a belt, and not in a sex game way. In a “I want to cause you as much pain as possible because your suffering gets me off even if your consent is dubious and uninformed,” kind of way.

They go into the “play room.” I guess that’s what we’re calling it now, instead of the Red Room of Pain, and thank god. Red Room of Pain sounds like a New Wave band or a Boston-based Irish rap group.

The playroom smells reassuringly familiar, of leather and wood and fresh polish. I blush, knowing that Mrs. Jones must have been in here cleaning while we were away on our honeymoon.

Why, was someone else using it while you were on your honeymoon? Why would it need to be cleaned?

What will he do? He locks the door and turns.

Again with the locking door. Like, dude, you live alone, with a highly trained security staff. Do you think the arsonist is going to drive his Dodge right through that door and interrupt your sex? What is the likelihood of someone busting in on them in the apartment where only they live? I know this is a small detail when compared to everything else in these books, but I’ve totally fixated on it.

Christian asks Ana what she wants, and she tells him to surprise her. With the exception of, “beat me as hard as you can with this belt so I can see if I can still love you after,” has Ana ever actually told Christian what she wanted? It seems like most of the time, she demurs and lets him take control. Which I get, she’s a submissive, but hell, he’s asking you.

So, read this excerpt, and I’ll ask you a question on the other side:

“Here,” I whisper, gazing nervously at him as I remove the hair tie from around my wrist and hold it up for him. He stills, and his eyes widen briefly but give nothing away. Finally, he takes the small band.

“Turn around,” he orders.

Relieved, I smile to myself and oblige immediately. Looks like we’ve overcome that little hurdle.

What hurdle? I re-read this part over and over, trying to figure out what all the drama was about, and the best I could come up with was that maybe he didn’t want to braid her hair like he did to his subs? Because she’s his wife now? Or something? But there’s no way to tell. All this tells me is that he’s somewhat reluctant to touch a hair tie, for no reason. Or they’ve overcome the hurdle of telepathic communication, since all she had to do was say, “Here, braid my hair.”

Now it’s time for bold that word rep! Obviously the emphasis is all mine:

“Now turn around and take your skirt off.  Let it fall to the floor.” He releases me and steps back as I turn to face him. Not taking my eyes of his, I unbutton the waistband of my skirt and ease the zipper down. The full skirt fans out and falls to the floor, pooling at my feet.

Step out from your skirt,” he orders. As I step toward him, he kneels swiftly down in front of me and grasps my right ankle.

I get that sometimes, word rep can be sneaky and hard, even for copy editors. Sometimes, there’s no way to avoid it. But this is kind of inexcusable.

Suddenly he kneels up, grabs my hips, and pulls me forward, burying his nose in the apex of my thighs. “And you smell of you and me and sex,” he says, inhaling sharply. “It’s intoxicating.” He kisses me through my lace panties, while I gasp at his words – my insides liquefying.

You just fucked in the car, your “insides” are already sloshing with liquid. Pardon me while I imagine Christian getting a huge glob of his own gelled semen up his nose.

Christian tells her to face the wall, so she won’t know what he’s doing, and she listens while he opens drawers and thinks about how much she loves anticipation and how he’s going to do all this naughty stuff to her. Which would be hot, except it’s followed by this:

The subtle hiss of the sound system coming to life tells me it’s going to be a musical interlude. A lone piano starts, muted and soft, and mournful chords fill the room. It’s not a tune I know. The piano is joined by an electric guitar. What is this? A man’s voice speaks and I can just make out the words, something about not being frightened of dying.

Quick question, does anyone else get a murdery vibe from that? By the way, the song she’s describing is “The Great Gig In The Sky,” which is not music I would choose for a BDSM scene. Pink Floyd is definitely music to have sex to when you’re stoned and laying on the floor and you’ve already gotten tired of trying to match the lyrics up with Wizard of Oz, but the borderline screaming would make it super distracting if you weren’t high as absolute balls. Also, I refuse to believe Ana got through college in the Pacific Northwest without ever once hearing Dark Side of The Moon. Why can’t she just say, “Christian puts on a Pink Floyd song?” Why is E.L. so fucking coy about the music or naming songs if she’s just going to put the list of songs up on her website, anyway?

Oh, shit! I know why she’s coy about the songs, I’ll bet. Because back in the day, cracked the fuck down on “song fics,” fanfiction where the author would write stories based on popular songs, or built around the lyrics of popular songs. For a long while, they were super strict about this; one of my Phantom of The Opera fics got removed because I included the lyrics to an aria (which was in the public domain, but whatever, in the Pit of Voles, you get what you pay for). I wonder if that’s why songs aren’t mentioned by name. This is only speculation, of course, since 50 Shades is obviously not at all fanfiction of any type, right? It says so in the disclaimer in the front.

Maybe it’s a copyright thing? Like she was afraid someone was going to come after her from a legal standpoint if she used the titles of songs in her published work? Which is kind of… not seeing the forest for the trees, isn’t it, considering that her entire work is plagiarized?

Continuing with his theme of “love means never having to use a safeword,” Chedward tells Ana:

“You must tell me to stop if it’s too much. If you say stop, I will stop immediately. Do you understand?”

Look. My opinion of safewords is, you should probably use them. However, there are situations where people decide to not use safewords, or to just make the safeword, “Ouch, that hurts in the bad way.” To engage in safeword-less BDSM, you need a few things:

  • A Dom/Domme who can tell the difference between “(don’t) stop!” and “Stop!” Christian has already proven that he can’t do this, when he beat the fuck out of Ana while she screamed her head off in a clear, “I’m not into this,” way. He was confused afterward, because he felt it was her responsibility to safeword, not his responsibility to monitor the scene (which he shouldn’t have engaged in, because she didn’t want to play, she wanted to test him on an emotional level.)
  • Trust. Sure, Ana trusts Christian. But that’s because Ana is stuck in a loop of learned helplessness. She has to trust him, because she has no other choice. He’s broken that trust time and again (putting hickeys and bruises on her on their honeymoon, when she couldn’t see what he was doing and couldn’t object, for one), but since she doesn’t have any agency left, she can’t not trust him. That’s not trust, that’s brainwashing.
  • Clear and open communication. These two do not communicate. They talk a lot, but not about anything important, until someone has a huge breakdown. And if Ana does try to communicate with Christian, he just manipulates her out of being concerned about whatever it was that bothered her in the first place.
So, basically, no. These nitwits should not be in the playroom without a safeword.
They have some boring interplay about how she wants him to spank her, and he blindfolds her, and then he sticks his fingers in her, and then he plays with her asshole and tells her they’re going to have fun with it. And I’m like, “FINALLY. Three books in and we’re FINALLY going to see some backdoor action.” He fingers her and talks about how wet she is, and I’m like, “Duh, you came in her not five minutes ago, did you get spunknesia or something?”

I hear the quiet spurt of some liquid, presumably from a tube, then his fingers are massaging me there again. Lubricating me… there!

I’m so tired of “…there!” I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of “everything south of my waist” (which, by the by, is used in this scene as well). If you want to write a naughty book, write a naughty book. Just say that he put lube on your asshole, for fucks’ sake.

Also, Ana does a lot of hearing in this scene. She hears the drawer opening, she hears the “soft hiss” of the sound system (is he putting on a vinyl LP here? I haven’t heard a “soft hiss” since the 1980’s, and certainly not on a digital format), now she can tell that there is liquid coming out of a tube. Not a bottle, specifically a tube, and she can tell this because she’s fucking Daredevil.

“Most people don’t know I’m blind, just because I’m so great at anal!”

“This is lube.” He spreads some more on me.

Thanks for mentioning it, because otherwise she might have thought it was salad dressing.

Oh god, I just pictured Ranch dressing on somebody’s asshole. There goes lunch.

I groan. And I feel something cool, metallically cool, run down my spine.

“I have a small present for you here,” Christian whispers.

An image from our show-and-tell springs to mind. Holy crap. A butt plug.

Anastasia Steele, Psychic Buttsecks Detective.

Are you ready for the most appallingly vague description of anal play you will ever read in a modern novel? Grab your ankles and brace yourselves, because this is happening:

And gently, while his fingers and thumb work their magic, he pushes the cold plug slowly into me.

“Ah!” I groan loudly at the unfamiliar sensation, my muscles protesting at the intrusion. He circles his thumb inside me and pushes the plug harder, and it slips in easily, and I don’t know if it’s because i”m so turned on or if he’s distracted me with his expert fingers, but my body seems to accept it. It’s heavy… and strange… there!

“Oh, baby.”

And I can feel it… where his thumb swirls inside me… and the plug presses against… oh, ah… He slowly twists the plug, eliciting a long, drawn-out moan from me.

“Ah!” I groan loudly at the supposedly kinky book. It’s not graphic… and it’s disappointing… and I have… feelings! I’ll use… ellipses… to… avoid… describing… anal… because I’m lacking experience or imagination or both.

Throughout this scene, Ana mentions being nervous, having anxiety. This does not a loose asshole make.  But there’s no discomfort at all? Not even like, “It’s a weird feeling like I’m accidentally shitting myself?” Just, “Oh, it’s all pleasure because I’m just soooo turned on, even though I’m nervous and I’ve never done this before and also I’m routinely terrified of the person who’s wielding the butt plut?”

I hesitated to add that part, because I know someone in the comments is going to be like, “Actually, I loved anal the first time I had it and it doesn’t hurt everyone and that’s not very sex-positive of you to say it does when it doesn’t for everyone,” and then I was like, fuck it. If you were an anal queen the first time out of the gate, good for you, but most people aren’t and this scene doesn’t add up to me, knowing everything we know about Ana and Christian. It’s just straight up unrealistic first time butt play. She’s nervous, a first-timer, and he does nothing to prepare her apart from squirting some lube on her butthole. She has never done butt stuff before. So, the first and most obvious choice would be to finger her asshole, right?  Nope, straight to the butt plug. Which I find really amusing, because he’s like, soooo concerned about rushing her into butt stuff, and they have to go super slow and it’s this long, intensive process to go through before he can put his wang in her butt, but then he skips the first and most obvious step. But whatever.

Then he has P-in-V with her while pulling the plug in and out, and we get this crazy-ass description:

And he picks up the pace, his breathing more labored, matching my own as he thrashes into me.

Thrashes? What an odd word choice. All I can imagine is Christian violently swinging his cock from side to side like the pendulum in a broken grandfather clock while he tries to penetrate her.

He moves one of his hands from my hips and twists the plug again, tugging it slowly, pulling it out and pushing it back in. The feeling is indescribable, and I think I’m going to pass out on the table.

I know sometimes authors (myself included) use “indescribable” to show the reader that this character is overwhelmed by something. But given the vague descriptions in this scene, I’m going to assume it’s just literally indescribable because the author isn’t skilled enough to describe it.

And then they come and it’s the most amazing orgasm ever and all sorts of trite descriptions, blah blah. Then there is a section break and they’re still listening to the same song. I’m like, “That song is about four minutes long, way to have staying power, Chedward,” until Ana clarifies that it’s on repeat. You know, I love Pink Floyd as much as the next person, but if someone blindfolded me and locked me in a room with “The Great Gig In The Sky” repeating,  I would consider that legitimate torture.

Then they have their usual post sex talk, all quiet and gentle with shy smiles and uncertainty, because nothing turns people on more than needless drama after sex. Christian starts gathering up their toys and says he’s going to go run them a bath.

“Who cleans these toys?” I ask as I follow him over to the chest.

He frowns at me as if not understanding the question. “Me. Mrs. Jones.”

WHAT? First of all, when frowned like he didn’t understand, I was like, “What, he doesn’t clean his buttplugs?” Then he said that his poor, sweet housekeeper Mrs. Jones cleans them, and I was like:

Seriously? You do the anal, you clean your own damn toys. Jesus! You’re a millionaire. Get a little dishwasher for the playroom and use it only for that. WTF is wrong with you. “Hey, will you clean someone else’s shit off this? Thanks.”
Whatever Mrs. Jones gets paid, it is NOT enough.
Prepare yourselves, dear readers.

Taking my hand, he unlocks the playroom door, then leads me out and downstairs. I follow him meekly.

The anxiety, the bad mood, the thrill, fear, and excitement of the car chase have all gone. I’m relaxed – finally sated and calm. As we enter our bathroom, I yawn and loudly stretch… at ease with myself for a change.

Okay. There are people who are so into the submissive mindset that they do have mood swings or feel generally ooky if they haven’t been dominated in a while. I believe this is more common in 24/7 D/s relationships, but I don’t know that anyone has done a study on it or anything. HOWEVER, Ana and Christian are not representative of an actual D/s couple. Ana is now psychologically addicted to Christian’s brand of dominance (abuse), and though there was nothing technically abusive about that sex scene, I have to wonder if this isn’t a way to justify how Christian treats her even when they’re not having sex.

And then I got very sad, and I ate my feelings with a side of burritos.

Christian has noticed that she’s been out of sorts:

“Yes, you’ve been in a strange mood today, Mrs. Grey.” Standing, he pulls me into his arms. “I know you’re worrying about these recent events. I’m sorry you’re caught up in them. I don’t know if it’s a vendetta, an ex-employee, or a business rival. […]”

How incredibly artless. It’s all three, guys. Just a heads up here. She couldn’t even be bothered to throw a red herring into this “mystery”.

They take a bath together and Christian tries to get Ana to give up work. Because being a housewife with a live-in housekeeper and no children is going to be real fucking personally fulfilling to a woman, right? Because all we truly desire is to sit around being available for men. Then there’s a section break, and Ana goes downstairs and hears Christian giving Sawyer a different kind of ass reaming:

“Where the fuck were you?”

Oh shit. He’s shouting at Sawyer. Cringing, I dash upstairs to the playroom. I really don’t want to hear what he has to say to him – I still find shouty Christian intimidating.

So, Ana is still afraid of Christian. That’s a healthy marriage, right? Being afraid of someone? Also, fuck you Christian. Where was Sawyer? He was in the SUV behind you because you absolutely have to drive your own car. And then you made him wait for his dressing down while you had sex and a bath. So I really hope the answer is, “I was sitting in your study waiting for you to get concerned about the plot again.”

Taylor will be back tomorrow evening, and Christian is generally calmer when he’s around. Taylor is spending some quality time today and tomorrow with his daughter. I wonder idly if I’ll ever get to meet her.

Why would you? If Taylor is smart, he’ll keep his kid well away from the fucked up people he works for.

Ana decides to pull her own weight and clean the butt plug. She’s intercepted by Mrs. Jones as she tries to make it to the bathroom. Mrs. Jones now calls Ana “Mrs. Grey,” and when Ana tells her to use her first name, Mrs. Jones says she’s not comfortable with it. Now, Ana, the correct answer here is, “I pay your salary, get comfortable with it,” but instead she thinks:

Oh! Why must everything change just because I have a ring on my finger?

Because it’s a tiny shackle.

Mrs. Jones wants to look over the menus for the week with Ana, who is shocked at the idea. Probably because she never eats and has only heard of food when other people talk about it, or when her dreamy abusive husband force feeds her. After a brief description of Sawyer crossing the great room, Ana resumes her butt plug cleaning journey.

I dump Christian’s shoes on the floor and my clothes on the bed, and take the bowl with the butt plug into the bathroom. I eye it suspiciously. It looks innocuous enough, and surprisingly clean. I don’t want to dwell on that, and I wash it quickly with soap and water. Will that be enough? I’ll have to ask Mr. Sexpert if it should be sterilized or something. I shudder at the thought.

Why would you shudder at the thought of a sterile butt plug? You should shudder at the thought of a dirty one, really. And I love that she doesn’t want to dwell on the fact there’s no poop on the butt plug. How could there be? Ana doesn’t ingest any physical nourishment. I’m sure she only takes a crap biannually. But the time you don’t want to dwell on a butt plug is when there is poop on it.

Christian has given Ana the library to work in, so she goes there.

Part of me dreads going back to work, but I can never tell Christian that. He’d seize on the opportunity to make me quit. I remember Roach’s apoplectic reaction when I told him I was getting married and to whom, and how, shortly afterward, my position was confirmed. I realize now it was because I was marrying the boss. The thought is unwelcome. I am no longer acting editor – I am Anastasia Steele, editor.

If it’s unwelcome, why don’t you get a job and prove yourself somewhere else? Oh, that’s right, you can’t, Christian will just buy that company too, and make you the CEO.

I’m sorry, but I’m not feeling Ana’s “poor me” bullshit over getting promoted to editor within a week or two of working at SIP. Christian was supposed to stop steamrolling over her career. She was outraged when he bought SIP, and she was angry when she accused him of getting her promoted to acting editor in the first place. But now, she knows for a fact that she’s gotten promoted because she married him, and she’s fine with it? Whatever, we all know she’s not going to keep working there for long.

I haven’t yet plucked up the courage to tell Christian that I am not going to change my name at work. I think my reasons are solid.

“I don’t want to change my name.” There’s your solid reason. I absolutely fucking loathe that it’s still considered a given that a woman will change her name after she gets married. If you want to change it, change it. But the idea that society totally defends the right of a man to be angry about his wife not taking his name is just mind-boggling and infuriating.

Ana decides to get the honeymoon pictures off the digital camera, and then shit goes all One Hour Photo up in this bitch:

Picture after picture of me. Asleep, so many of me asleep, my hair over my face or fanned out across the pillow, lips parted… shit – sucking my thumb. I haven’t sucked my thumb for years!

Oh wow!  That’s totally not creepy or infantilizing at all! How romantic, that being with her husband makes her so vulnerable and child-like again!

Or not, because fuck this. Fuck all of this.

And there’s one of him and me on the bed in the master cabin that he took at arm’s length. I am cuddled on his chest and he gazes at the camera, young, wide-eyed… in love.

What a gentleman, he took a surreptitious selfie with the chick he just banged. Oh, shit, was that description not romantic enough? Sorry, I guess I recognize malignant narcissism when I see it.

Seeing the photos he creepily took of her while she was sleeping (look, I’ll give him one or two, but not “picture after picture”), she’s all, OMG I love him, I can’t believe someone would want to kill the most perfect and precious human being on the planet,” and she runs to his study. He’s on the phone with Barney, looking at something on his computer.

When I crawl onto his lap, his eyebrows shoot up in surprise.

Do you suck your thumb, too, Ana? Look, I’m all for some age play, but this isn’t written as age play. It’s written as totally normal behavior, for a grown ass woman to lapse back into sucking her thumb and crawling into daddy’s lap. It’s gross, like E.L. is trying to make children or being child-like (without consciously choosing to engage in age play) sexy. And I’m sorry, but this book is fucked up enough.

Christian is looking at his computer, at images of the server room before the fire.

The picture blurs, then refocuses moderately sharper on the man consciously gazing down and avoiding the camera. As I stare at him, a chill of recognition sweeps up my spine. There is something familiar in the line of his jaw. He has scruffy short black hair that looks odd and unkempt… and in the newly sharpened picture, I see an earring, a small hoop.

Holy crap! I know who it is.

It’s Mister Clean.

“Christian,” I whisper. “That’s Jack Hyde.”

Or maybe it’s a pirate. Are you saying all guys with small hoop earrings look the same to you? That’s racist against pirates.

And then the chapter is over. I’m so glad it was only fifteen pages long, because damn.

Short, Neck Pain Fueled Rant: Stop saying “grammar Nazi”

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“I’m sure the grammar Nazis are going to come take me away.”
Yes. Yes, people expecting you to follow the most basic rules of your native language with some reasonable fluency is just as bad as the Holocaust. That’s such an apt comparison to make, I don’t know why we didn’t all think of it.

“Tee hee, I’m sorry, but I’m such a grammar Nazi!”

No, you’re not. And why would you ever want to compare yourself to a Nazi, and be fucking proud of it? Are you under the mistaken impression that Nazis were totally awesome? You’re trivializing a truly horrifying period in human history over how someone spelled some shit on Facebook. Knock it off.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

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Who has two thumbs and had the best weekend ever?

That’s right. I did. Oh, what was that? Your daughter had a baby? You found out your Leukemia is in remission? I STILL HAD AN AWESOMER WEEKEND THAN YOU.

Okay. Maybe not. I’m sorry I was aggressively competitive back there. Congrats on the baby and the cancer.


I did have a really big weekend.

First of all, can we all discuss Destiny’s Child for a second?

Are you fucking kidding me? Besides the fact that many of my tweeps were convinced only Bey’s mic was on (“Kelly, can you handle this? Michelle, can you handle this? I don’t think you can handle this. So we’re cutting your mics.”), OMFGWTFBBQ?! For real? Destiny’s Child, on stage, looking fanfuckingtastic, singing the classics, they even did the Charlie’s Angels thing at the end, like they were on purpose reminding us that their song will forever outlive and out shine the movie it was written for. Are you serious right now? How can the rest of 2013 deliver anything at this point? As far as I’m concerned, it blew its load right there, beginning of February. We’re all in a giant refractory period until 2014, at which point Beyonce will probably be the first diva in space or something.

Okay, this post isn’t chronologically correct, but if you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that on Friday I was all, “I have big news, but I don’t know if I can tell you or not!” And I’m sure you were like, “Yeah, whatever Jen. I bet you have real big news.” Well. I. Do. So. Nyah.

Early last year I was approached by Nick Harris of The Story Foundation about developing an idea he’d had for a Shakespearean-themed YA. The way my agent pitched it to me was, “It’s sort of like… Hamlet meets Ghostbusters.” And I was like, “I’m so in.”

Over the next few months and numerous phone calls and emails, Nick and I hammered out the details of the story, in which Hamlet, a paranoid recluse/ghost whisperer, meets Romeo, a young man of Verona who has recently botched a suicide attempt. Romeo is travelling the world on the advice of a soothsayer, trying to find someone who can help him restore the life of his tragically lost love, Juliet. Together, Hamlet and Romeo buddy cop their way through the afterlife looking for Juliet, while Hamlet is, you know. Trying to revenge his father’s murther. They run afoul of giants, trolls, valkyrie, serpents and grueling psychological traps on the way.

Well, I’m so happy to announce that this project. This amazing, quirky, unique project that I am SO pleased to have been asked to be a part of, has found a home. Entangled publishing has picked up Such Sweet Sorrow for their phenomenally successful Entangled Teen line.

I am over the moon about this. While I’m sure Shakespeare purists out there are sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches, let me express to you how big a Shakespeare geek I am, and how much care and love has been poured into developing this project. It’s going to be truly epic, and I can’t wait until you all can read it!

Let’s talk about 50 Shades in a calm and rational way.

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I’m asking you, 50 Shades of Grey reader and enthusiast, to come into this post with an open mind. In the past, I’ve said some pretty strong stuff about you, that was all coming from a place of frustration. Because I am frustrated. But now I’m having a moment of clarity, and I really hope that you give me a chance to explain to you why so many people are so angry about this book.

I know you’re not stupid. I know I can write these things, and you can read them and at least entertain the other side of the issue. Because that’s what intelligent people can do. And trust me, I’ve entertained your side a lot, in order to be able to write this post.

Let’s start with the most basic reaction I’m seeing from people defending 50 Shades of Grey.

It’s just fiction/entertainment! Why are you so mad?

You’re absolutely right. 50 Shades of Grey is just fiction, and as such, it’s totally open to interpretation. Some people are interpreting it as a touching love story. Others are interpreting it as story about an abusive relationship. And now, those two interpretations are clashing.

If you believe that 50 Shades is a love story, do me a favor and imagine this right now. I want you to imagine the worst thing that has happened to you in your entire life. This could be the death of a loved one, or getting cancer, or being dumped. You might be really lucky, maybe it’s just spilling coffee on an expensive shirt. But it’s still the worst thing that has ever happened to you, right? Now, imagine that someone writes a book, and in that book you see details of the very worst experience of your life. But the story isn’t portraying those events and feelings negatively. And everyone around you is reading the book and talking about how amazing it is, and they wish the things that happened to you would happen to them. Okay, maybe it’s not a serious wish. But that almost makes it worse. The people around you are now joking and laughing about how awesome it would be if the most painful, or one of the most painful, harrowing, scary experiences of you life would happen to them.

Dude. That would suck, right? You’d feel really lonely and probably angry. You’d probably be worried that somewhere, someone might think your experience was glamorous enough to try and reenact it for themselves. You don’t want anyone to experience what you did, so you feel like should step up and say something.

That’s why people who believe 50 Shades promotes abusive relationships get so furious about the subject. Many of them are either currently involved in an abusive relationship, or have escaped from one. Or they know someone who was harmed by an abusive partner, or who are in an abusive relationship and can’t leave. And when we hear someone else say, even in a joking way, “I wish my boyfriend was like Christian Grey,” all we’re hearing is, “If I had the experience that you or your loved one had, I would be happy, so what happened to you was okay.

Okay, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. That doesn’t mean it’s responsible for Domestic Violence.

No, and I don’t think any sensible person would argue that it is. However, our ideas of what is and isn’t acceptable as a society are constantly present in our art. While our ideas and opinions shape what we see in our media, the reverse is also true. For example, we live in a culture where hyper-violent videogames are a normal, celebrated form of entertainment. Some have argued that living in a culture that glorifies violence has led to more real life violence. And while most people can sit down, play a violent game, and never have the urge to gun down someone in public, there are members of our society who can’t make that distinction, which is why it’s important to keep an open dialogue on the subject.

It’s the same thing with 50 Shades of Grey. Because of the way the book has been marketed, both by the author and by the publisher, people are looking to 50 Shades of Grey to fix their sex lives or help them understand their partner. An advertisement for the book ran in Maxim, a men’s magazine that gives its readers tips about, well. How to get laid. And the tag line they used for the advertisement was:

50 shades what women want
(Sorry for the image quality, the original was lost somehow to the ravages of the internet)
“What every woman wants. Read it and share the experience.” That isn’t a message that promotes the idea that this book is fiction. The sales pitch is that this book is a manual. And the author isn’t doing anything to discourage this, saying in numerous interviews that scores of women have credited her and the book with saving their marriages and sex lives.

Some people do not see it as a fantasy. There are women out there who are absolutely looking for a literal Christian Grey. And those women aren’t going to find charming millionaires they can heal through the power of their love. They’re going to find sexual predators who will be more than willing to act like Christian Grey… with the caveat that there is no writer pulling the strings to keep these would-be Anas safe.

So, no one should ever write anything, because someone might emulate it and get hurt?

Not at all. But if someone does produce a work of fiction, be it a violent videogame, or a book with a relationship that could be construed as abusive, the creators and marketers absolutely must be clear that this is a work of fiction. They can’t flirt with the line between fiction or nonfiction, or make some outrageous claim about emulating the behaviors in the work being somehow beneficial. Can you imagine how furious people would be if that technique were to be used in marketing a book like American Psycho? Suggesting that people buy it for graduates, like it’s a real life How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying? People would utterly reject that. Serial murder is universally viewed as immoral and wrong. But since 50 Shades of Grey is being used to explore an often misrepresented sexual kink, many people don’t realize that the BDSM in these books is conducted in an unsafe way, and they don’t see anything wrong with using it as a guidebook.

It’s true, there are some people who want 50 Shades banned. I may have flippantly suggested such a thing once or twice during my other blog posts. But if someone is seriously calling for a ban on the book, I don’t support that. And I don’t think most smart people support banning books, or any form of artistic censorship. I want a person who enjoys 50 Shades of Grey to be able to continue enjoying it. I would rather that some of the themes I found present in the series not be so prevalent in our media, but I don’t think banning a single book or series is going to solve that problem as much as a healthy, unimpeded discussion would.

Well, what do you want, then?

I want, and I think most people who are frustrated with the phenomenon feel the same, just want E.L. James and Vintage Press to come out and say, “This book is not a self-help phenomenon, and we were wrong to hint that it was. Some of the behaviors exhibited by characters in the book are not behaviors we endorse, and we were wrong in the way we communicated with domestic violence survivors.” Or, you know. Something better than that.

But why? E.L. James doesn’t owe anyone anything, and it’s not her fault if someone reads her book and does something stupid. Besides, she wrote it for herself and for people who “get it.”

Part of being a creator is taking responsibility for your creation. Dr. Frankenstein didn’t do that, and look what happened to him. Whether or not E.L. James wrote 50 Shades for herself, when she posted it to, she put it out into the world for consumption. Like Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, she’s responsible for what she created, no matter how out of control or huge it gets. By the way, I’m not using Frankenstein to be snarky here. It’s just a very easy analogy.

The fact that E.L. couldn’t have possibly known that selling her fanfiction to a small publisher would rocket her to superstardom actually works in her favor here. She could easily say that she was overwhelmed by the popularity of her books, and she didn’t respond to criticism well. I think most of us would forgive her, and be less hurt, if she just accepted responsibility for spreading a dangerous message by touting her books as being helpful to women.

It’s not abuse, it’s BDSM!  You just don’t understand kink!

Many people in the BDSM community – people who were into kink before these books came along – have found the portrayal of Dominance and submission unrealistic at best and downright dangerous at worst. In a book being sold as a work of fiction, this wouldn’t be a major problem, it would just mean that people who were familiar with the lifestyle would probably choose to read something else. However, the popularity of 50 Shades lies in the promise that readers will want to try out these new, exciting sexual scenarios in their own homes. The advertisement above, if not explicitly saying “DO try this at home,” is at least winking and nudging at the idea that buying this book will result in great sex.

So, the only thing you’re mad about is that E.L. James won’t tell people not to try this at home?

Well, it was the only thing I was mad about. But then someone sent me an article in which E.L. had this to say about the concerns over the content of her books:

James says she “freaks out when she hears people say that her book encourages domestic violence. “Nothing freaks me out more than people who say this is about domestic abuse,” she says. “Bringing up my book in this context trivializes the issues, doing women who actually go through it a huge disservice. It also demonizes loads of women who enjoy this lifestyle, and ignores the many, many women who tell me they’ve found the books sexually empowering.”

She leaps easily to the defense of the women who have enjoyed her books and offered her praise, women who have helped her attain her meteoric rise. But she doesn’t defend the women “who actually go through it.” She asks that people not discuss the subject with her, or in the same conversation as her creation. She doesn’t want to hear about abused women, because they’re not enjoying her book. Even more disturbing, she says that calling the relationship in her book abusive “demonizes” women who enjoy BDSM. She asserts in the wording of that statement that if you suggest someone is a battered woman, you are insulting or degrading them, because being a victim of abuse is something to be ashamed of.

You’re just putting words in her mouth! You don’t know if that’s what she meant. She could have just said it wrong.

I suggest that as a professional author, she should be perfectly capable of expressing herself with the appropriate words.

It’s not like she said that to a survivor directly. She probably does worry about those women.

If she does, she has an odd way of showing it. Many abuse survivors that have contacted her on twitter have been blocked. For example, Kody, whose account you can read at this link. When she saw E.L. James advised her fans not to “feed the trolls” in regards to discussions of domestic abuse,  Kody, a survivor herself, sent a single, civil tweet making reference to James’s earlier comment about trivializing domestic violence. James blocked her without a reply.

So, I want to ask you a question, 50 Shades of Grey and E.L. James defenders:

What do you get out of defending this woman and her books?

E.L. James has derailed discussions of domestic abuse, treated survivors who have approached her in good faith as trolls and nuisances, yet claims to care about the issue affecting them. When faced with either listening compassionately and accepting responsibility for the way she has behaved in the publicizing of her book, she chooses instead to throw her support behind women who, frankly, don’t need supporting. There is a far larger bias in our culture against women who “let” themselves be abused than there is against women who like to masturbate to mild erotica.

I would never, for one second, assume that if someone enjoyed 50 Shades of Grey, they supported and endorsed abuse. No more than I would suggest that my own enjoyment of horror movies meant that I support and endorse chainsaw murders. And no one wants to stop you from reading books you enjoy. But is your enjoyment really impeded by a contrary opinion? If you loved cookies, but I didn’t, would the cookies not taste as good to you? Of course not, that’s absurd. So where is the danger in me discussing my dislike of cookies?

When you say, “It’s only fiction, get over yourself,” you are endorsing abuse, because you’re trying to silence actual discussion of an important issue, and discussion is how we resolve these issues within our culture. You’re telling abuse survivors that the enjoyment you derived from the book is more important than their real life concerns over real life experiences; that you would rather they keep these experiences to themselves so you can continue to enjoy this book. Is that really how you feel? Are you defending the book, or yourself for choosing to read it?

No one wants to ban 50 Shades or tar and feather E.L. James. But it would be nice if she would accept the fact that she has written a book that has clearly hit a nerve for many women, and have the courtesy to not shut down the dialogue just because she doesn’t wish to speak about it.