Thursday, February 11, 2016

I Dream Of Geena

If superhero movies twenty years ago were the massive industry that they are now, Geena Davis could have been a 1990s Captain Marvel or Batwoman. She's a six foot babe with cheekbones for days, does her own stunts and could punch a hole through a wall. However, despite the lack of superpowered crimefighting in her past roles, she's kind of a feminist superhero already.

I recently watched Cutthroat Island for the first time and it was a fucking HOOT. It's got excellent stunts! Solid action set-pieces! Morgan the lady pirate whose signature move is threatening to stab dudes in the dick! A hammy villain called Dawg chewing up all the scenery! Two gorgeous pirate galleons blasting the shit out of each other on the high seas! Admittedly this is coming from someone who watched Battleship three times last year and thoroughly enjoyed herself on every occasion, but all those points still stand. It ends and begins with Morgan post and pre boning a guy on her terms! There's one brief and particularly terrible bit of green screen, but all it really does is serve to highlight just how real and CGI-free all the terrific explosions and sets getting smashed up were. There's no Andy Serkis running around covered in ping pong balls here.

Apparently Michael Douglas turned down the role of William Shaw because the part was smaller than Geena Davis's, like, welcome to Women's Hollywood Since Forever, buddy. It's unfair that the film's legacy is that of sinking of the pirate movie genre until Jack Sparrow stumbled onto screens, because it's a lot more enjoyable than some of the thunderously mediocre Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. And what's more, it gets routinely described as one of the biggest box office failures ever and the reason why Geena Davis's career faltered shortly afterwards, but if you look up the list of flops and their estimated losses on Wikipedia, it's far enough down the list to have not one, but TWO Ryan Reynolds films ahead of it and, well, he's just a lovable scamp rather than box office poison, right? Hollywood double standards can do one.

In further fun, fast-paced feminist roles, The Long Kiss Goodnight is an excellent action film starring our girl as Samantha Caine, an amnesiac housewife who undergoes one of the greatest movie makeovers of all time as her former personality, that of CIA assassin Charly Baltimore begins to reassert itself. She goes from unthreatening nice suburban lady curls to platinum razor bob, Claudia Winkleman levels of eyeliner and top notch murder skills. She knocks a guy out with a lemon meringue pie, for fuck's sake! It's amazing! Plus she gives Samuel L Jackson's character some well deserved shit when he catcalls a woman out jogging and minding her own goddamn business. I only just re-watched it shortly before Christmas and I already want to watch it again.

And I can't possibly talk about Geena Davis without mentioning A League of Their Own. Loved it as a child, love it now, hate James Corden's stupid fucking sports panel show for using the name and never being the film when I see it on TV listings. Which is ALL THE TIME. The Rockford Peaches are #squadgoals levels of sisterhood, supporting each other, sneaking out to go dancing and shift soldiers and an excellent fancy dress costume to boot. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!

Aside from her feminist sport/action/pirate films, (and Thelma & Louise and Beetlejuice) Geena Davis also established an institute dedicated to highlighting the lack of female representation in films and television and is one of a handful of women to ever portray a female American president in her role in Commander in Chief.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is, can we just put Geena Davis in charge of Hollywood? Yeah?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Hostage!

Man, to look at, Hostage! promises so much. It's got the exclamation mark title, which has served us pretty well in the past, it's got Regina being threatened by what's presumably a chloroform-soaked rag, held by some dude in a giant shirt, but it's actually just not that good. Plus, nothing depicted on this cover ever actually happens. But we're not going to let that stop us now, are we? ARE WE?

Sweet Valley High #26: Hostage!

Jessica and Elizabeth are sunning themselves in their back garden by the swimming pool and Elizabeth is trying to convince Jessica that something weird is going down over at Regina Morrow's house. Also, it's literally the second page and we've already had aquamarine eyes darkening with concern and golden hair being tossed from shoulders. And they're covering themselves in BABY OIL. GIRLS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING. Man, I've missed these sexy idiots. Anyway, Elizabeth heard from a student who works part-time as a delivery boy for the supermarket that Regina Morrow is back from Switzerland, having been over there for the last few books to undergo treatment to restore her hearing. Elizabeth called over to the house to welcome her back but the gates were locked and the place looked deserted. Also, Bruce Patman hadn't heard anything about it and when he rang the house, a strange woman claiming to be Regina's aunt answered the phone and told him that Regina was sleeping and her parents were away. But Regina doesn't have any aunts! Ruh roh!

Elizabeth is determined to investigate further so she calls by the house again, and the door is answered by a severe looking woman who must be up to no good, because severe looking people aren't allowed in Sweet Valley. Look wholesome and have twinkling eyes or GTFO. The woman tells Liz that Regina isn't there, but while trying to give her the brush-off, Regina appears in the lobby and looks frightened. The mystery lady tells her to go back upstairs and says that Regina is unwell and can't see anyone, before closing the door in Liz's face.

Convinced more than ever that something's afoot, Elizabeth tells Jessica about what happened and they come up with a plan. They find out from Eddie - the kid who works in the shop - when the next delivery is to be made to the Morrow's place and get Bruce to pose as a delivery boy. They hide a note for Regina in a copy of Ingenue magazine, asking if she needs help and instructing her to drop a message for them out her bedroom window and they'll come for it that night.

Cut to Regina sitting sadly in her bedroom, thinking about how everything went tits up for her when she got out of a taxi at the airport in Bern eight days previously. Her parents had sent a message saying that they were coming to visit and to meet them there, but instead it was the cross woman with a gun in her bag. She made Regina call her doctor and tell him that her parents are taking her home for a while. It turns out that Regina's parents are being held hostage and if she doesn't comply, they'll be killed. The lady took Regina back to Sweet Valley, where an equally severe looking dude was waiting for them. The kidnappers' plan is to steal a revolutionary prototype microchip from Mr. Morrow's computer company by having Mr. Morrow call his office, tell them that he's been detained "in Europe" and that he's sending Regina in to collect the microchip. Unnecessarily convoluted corporate intrigue! Gasp!

The lady kidnapper, Claire, tosses the copy of Ingenue into Regina's room, presuming the delivery boy made a mistake by including it in the order. Regina finds the note from Bruce, Liz and Jessica and drops a reply stashed in a silver compact out her bedroom window, onto the lawn below. The Scooby Gang collect the letter under the cover of darkness and find out all about Regina's parents, the kidnapping, the microchip plan and Regina warns that if she and her parents aren't all rescued at the same time, the kidnappers will kill whoever is left. She also tells them that her brother Nicholas is staying with a friend in San Francisco and to let him know what's happening. Oh and they can't get the police involved, or there'll be some dead Morrows.

They call Nicholas and fill him in on the situation, so he comes back straightaway. Regina mentioned that she thought she heard Claire say "money is heaven" while on the phone (she can't hear perfectly yet, so her hearing is at like 80%) but none of the intrepid investigators can figure out what it means. It clearly means Monday at seven. Nicholas and Elizabeth check out the house again and see a man coming out of the driveway in a blue car. Not one to miss an opportunity, Nicholas gets Liz to make out with him in the car so the guy won't suspect them. Goddammit Nicholas. They get the reg plate and Nicholas realises he's a guy called Philip Denson who was fired from his father's company years before for stealing. He went to prison and only got out last year and appears to have held a grudge about the whole thing.

Elizabeth finds a P. Denson listed in the phone book, so she, Jessica and Bruce cut school the next day and go with Nicholas to check out the house listed as Denson's possible address. There's a hot guy around Bruce's age mowing the lawn outside the house, so they deploy their secret sex weapon, i.e. Jessica, to go talk to him and find out whatever she can. Jessica tells him she's taking a census for a school project and blasts him with enough hair tossing and smiling sweetly to find out that he's Mitch Denson and his father works in computers. When Mitch goes inside to get Jess a drink of water, she creeps up to the sitting room window and looks inside to see Mr. and Mrs. Morrow on the couch. When she gets back and tells the rest of the gang what she saw, they have to convince Nicholas not to run in and punch Mitch in the face. They head back homewards and decide that they need to figure out when the kidnappers are arranging for Regina to go into her father's office before they can do anything else. It's Monday at seven, guys. Come on.

When the twins get home, Alice has left a message for Elizabeth saying that someone called Suzanne rang looking for her from the office at school. Elizabeth panics, worried that it's related to her skipping school, but when she calls back it turns out it was just Suzanne Hanlon, a sophomore who's organising a literary evening and wanted to know if Elizabeth would read something at it.

Privately, Elizabeth thought Suzanne was a little bit affected. She seemed to like giving everyone at school the impression that she was sophisticated and very cultured. But Elizabeth didn't want to judge her.

DIDN'T WANT TO JUDGE HER! Oh my god that whole bit is just Elizabeth in a nutshell. You little wagon.

On Saturday, the twins and Nicholas are over at Bruce's mansion and put their heads together in a effort to break the fiendish "money is heaven" code. They don't get far with it (MONDAY AT SEVEN, GODDAMMIT) and try to logically work out when the kidnappers are most likely to send Regina into her father's plant. While they're busy doing that, Jessica suddenly cracks it and works out that it'll be Monday at seven. (Suck it, Elizabeth.)

"I told you reading all those mysteries would pay off one day, Liz."

Oh come on, being a bookworm is totally out of character for Jessica. As if she's ever sat at home reading Agatha Christie with a hot chocolate. Those boyfriends won't steal themselves, you know. What are you even doing, Ghostwriter Lady.

Anyway, they come up with a plan to try to rescue Regina's parents while Claire is with Regina at the plant, so Claire won't know what's happening and even so, Regina will be relatively safe as the plant is guarded. The only snag is that they don't know where Philip Denson will be while all this is going down, so everyone turns to Jessica to act as sex-bait for Mitch Denson again and try to find out from him where his dad will be. She reluctantly agrees and then tries to throw Bruce into the pool. Yeah I don't know why, either. Then they all go to beach for the afternoon.

On Sunday morning, Skye and Kurt Morrow are in the Denson's kitchen eating a breakfast that Mitch made for them, while Skye reassures her husband that none of this is his fault and he says things like "My business is very high-profile. I get so much publicity." which sounds like Tommy Wiseau dialogue from The Room. Then Philip Denson comes in, with a toothpick hanging from his mouth because he's a Bad Guy, see. He fills the Morrows in on the plan for tomorrow and how he's going to sell the microchip to some guy in Rio and when the Morrows ask what's going to happen to them he tells them not to worry about it, leaving them convinced that they're going to die. BAD GUY!

Regina. That yellow sweatervest. I'd kidnap you too, if only to take you to Topshop.

Meanwhile, Jessica arrives at the house in a carefully-chosen blue denim miniskirt and a halter top and rings the doorbell. Mitch answers and Jessica launches her charm offensive, inviting him to a beach party the following night. He says Monday isn't a good night for him and doesn't give a straight answer when she asks if his dad will be there that night, so Jessica looks hurt, strokes his arm and gets him to agree to her dropping by at seven and if he's busy she'll go on to the made-up party without him. So she doesn't actually get to find out where Philip will be and Mitch is too squirrelly to get any further info out of him.

Monday rolls around and Philip gets Kurt to make a phonecall at gunpoint. He calls the plant and tells them that he's been held up in Switzerland and has an important meeting in a few days and is sending Regina in that evening to pick up the microchip before she catches a plane back to Bern.

Jessica, Nicholas, Elizabeth and Bruce all meet up and run over their plan one last time. Nicholas and Elizabeth are going to go to the plant, where Elizabeth will intercept Claire and Regina on their way out and stall them. There's a payphone just out of sight of the main entrance to the plant, which is where Nicholas will be positioned. He'll call Jessica and Bruce who will be in Nicholas's Jeep (which has a carphone) over at the Denson place as soon as he sees Regina enter, which will be their queue to send Jessica to the door to keep Mitch occupied while Bruce sneaks into the house and rescues the Morrows. Then Nicholas has to call the cops while Elizabeth is talking to Regina and Claire.

Everyone takes their position and Jessica and Bruce eventually get the call. Jessica rings the doorbell and Mitch answers again, but tells her that it's not a good time. He sees his father's car coming towards the house and tells Jessica that he likes her but she has to leave right away, for her own good. Philip goes in the side entrance of the house, so Jessica screams for Bruce to warn him and runs in past Mitch, but collides full tilt with the Morrows and Bruce, at which point Philip is pointing his gun at all of them. Mitch shouts at him to leave them alone and knocks him over, giving them all a chance to make a break for it and run to the Jeep.

Back at the factory, Elizabeth pretends to be a reporter for the Sweet Valley News and bothers Claire with a bunch of questions while Nicholas calls the cops. Claire pulls Regina away and they begin to leave, so Nicholas runs over and grabs Regina. Claire says she's got a gun but then Jessica, Bruce and Mammy and Daddy Morrow arrive on the scene in the Jeep, closely followed by Mitch and Philip, so everyone ends up together with both Claire and Philip pointing guns at them. Philip does some Bad Guy talk explaining how terrible his life has been since getting out of jail, but then there's the sound of police sirens approaching, so Nicholas and Bruce jump on Philip and pin him to the ground, Claire fires a shot and just misses Nicholas and then a bunch of cops arrive and arrest Philip, Claire and Mitch.

Everyone goes back to the Morrow's mansion for takeaway pizza and champagne. It turns out that Regina won't have to go back to Switzerland to complete her hearing treatment and can finish it off in an outpatient clinic in LA instead. The Morrows are going to throw a Hooray Nobody Died party to celebrate all this great news and also because there hasn't been a party or dance in this book yet. Oh and Mitch was let off because he was being lied to by his dad and wasn't really involved and is moving to New Jersey to live with his aunt. So that's nice!

Notable outfit:
Jessica runs home with this one in her outfit for the party at the end of the book.

Jessica was wearing a black leather miniskirt and a white t-shirt, the short sleeves rolled up. She had two clips in her hair that looked as if they should be holding loose-leaf notebook paper, and a brand new pair of sandals.


Things I counted:
Number of pages: 135
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 4
Amount of times the kidnappers are described as "mean": 4

Monday, January 18, 2016

I Know What A Tracker Mortgage Is*

Hello. It's been awfully quiet around here for the last while, but you see the reason for that is because the Bear and I went and bought a HOUSE! With walls! And a stairs! And doors and everything and it's all OURS!

It's been a legit rollercoaster of emotion since we decided to look for a place to buy last March, complete with falling in love with places that we got immediately outbid on, swearing revenge on useless estate agents, despairing over banks acting like it's a total disaster that my job is contract-based rather than permanent and briefly overreacting to rejection for life cover from two insurance companies in one day (i.e. welling up at my desk and wailing "they think I'm going to DIE!" before pulling myself together).

Then there was the STRESS of the run-up to getting the keys, where two days before the appointed Key Day we were informed that the bank had issues with our application even though they'd already given us approval and basically dicked us around for a week and a half filled with intensely stomach-churning anxiety, checking my inbox for updates that never arrived when they said they would, and three days of waiting for someone in their head office to email a fucking form. It was the sort of antsy stress that led to Wednesday pints in an attempt to blow off some steam, which resulted in a hangover the next morning where my lack of co-ordination had me drop the last tablet in my pack of Ovranette so I ended up on my knees in the kitchen, Googling "missed last pill in pack" while holding a fork covered in cobwebs from unsuccessfully trying to fish it out from the gap between the floorboards and the wall behind a large wine rack. I've had better weeks.

Slagging off estate agents in Stellar magazine.

In any case, we got there eventually and it all worked out and now our evening and weekends and any free time in general has either been spent carrying boxes around in a house-wide game of moving Tetris, patching up and painting damp bits on walls, wandering around B&Q without a fucking notion of where anything is and having four hours slide by in Ikea in the blink of a Swedish meatball. We've had a week and a half of no heating because the ancient boiler had long given up on life, where we kept warm by lighting the fire in the sitting room and carrying an electric heater around from room to room as needed. You could see your breath in the hallway, bathroom and kitchen, but as I've been told, it's all part of the "moving into your first place experience", which is nice and all and works as a charming anecdote in that vein, but mostly I fucking hate being cold so YAY NEW BOILER. Then the shower broke, so there was a week of dropping over to the Bear's sister's house for showers in her lovely bathroom that had a Max Benjamin candle burning in it and Kerastase shampoo for me to be delighted by. (I'm so unfamiliar with Kerastase that it took me three attempts to spell it and I had to look it up in the end.)

Also, conversations with me have become incredibly boring, as now when I'm asked if I got up to anything for the weekend, the reply is something along the lines of me being overly excited that our washing machine and dishwasher have finally been plumbed in. I found myself watching The Walking Dead a few weeks ago and admiring kitchen cabinets in the background of a gory stabbing frenzy. I joined Pinterest and have a board filled with bookcases and subway tiles. I swear, I'm >this close< to tweeting a photo of our new Ikea doormat.

So, what I'm saying is that life has become a never ending string of house-stuff that's really exciting for us, but probably not huge fun to listen to and I PROMISE I'll have a Sweet Valley post up soon. After all, Regina Morrow isn't going to kidnap herself, now is she?

*Kinda. And it turns out they were pretty fucking sweet.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 3 (Vol. 13)

Unlucky thirteen but not for me because this finally spells the end of the odyssey of poorly written ballsack that has been the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I've been asked a few times if I'll recap Grey, the latest mutation from the laptop of EL James in which she rehashes the entire first book from Christian's perspective because I suppose we'll need something to burn for warmth after the apocalypse. And the answer to that is I'm sorry but no fucking way and also, why do you hate me? My blood pressure is dicey enough at the best of times, so this is the end of the Tedious Fuckery journey, but fear not, because soon I'll be back to the lovely and non-rage-inducing silliness of Sweet Valley and it's going to be such a massive flipping relief, let me tell you.

So! Let's finish this bitch off once and for all! And thank you for sticking with me. You guys are lovely.

(Catch up: Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 aaaaand 12.)

Christian starts telling Ana all about how he and Elena started banging back when he was fifteen or sixteen or whatever and Ana's reaction the whole way through it is "Do I want to hear this?", which, after three books of obsessing over Elena and desperately wanting Christian to talk to her and tell her stuff, leads me to wonder; "are you fucking kidding me?" The gist is that he was doing work in the back garden of the Lincoln's house, Elena brought him some lemonade, he made some smart remark, she slapped him, kissed him and slapped him again before walking back into the house like nothing happened. He was a tortured, lonely, sexy adolescent with a wheelbarrow full of issues and her predatory banging made him cop on and sort his life out, apparently.

He goes on about how meeting Ana changed everything and how his life before he met her suddenly seemed "dull, empty, mediocre". Which, incidentally, would be a frankly generous review of this entire series.

Their conversation goes on for-fucking-ever and essentially goes in circles, so we have this exchange on one page:

“I fell in love,” he whispers.
I stop breathing. He caresses my cheek.
“So did I,” I murmur with the little breath I have left.
His eyes soften. “I know,” he mouths.
“You do?”
Hallelujah! I smile shyly at him. “Finally,” I whisper.

Followed not two pages later by:

"Your stupid stunt”—he stops—“that saved my sister,” he whispers, his words full of relief, awe, and disbelief. “That’s how I know.”
“Really know that you love me.”
I frown. “You do?”

They are quite literally the most tedious couple that have ever existed. Mrs Jones and Taylor need to orchestrate their escape, pronto. Christian then tells Ana how he tried to go see Dr. Flynn after storming out on her, but he was at a school parents evening. (“Ironic,” I whisper. Christian smirks in agreement. Kill me. Kill me now.) So he ended up walking and walking and before he knew it, he found himself outside Elena's salon, she invited him for a drink and tried to make a pass at him. Christian recoiled from her, she backed off and said she missed his friendship and that she sees his life is with Ana now, so they said goodbye and Christian said he wouldn't see her again. Guys, this whole conversation goes on for about eight and a half pages. It's such a last-ditch attempt at wrapping everything up and yet achieves nothing of the sort.

On Monday morning, Ana wakes "with a start", presumably because Christian isn't beside her and decides she's going to go to work.

It’s Monday, and I spent all of yesterday lounging about in bed. Christian only let me go out briefly to see Ray. Honestly, he’s still such a control freak. I smile fondly. My control freak.

My husband has such a tight leash on me that I'm barely allowed to see my stepfather who almost died recently and is still recuperating in hospital! IT'S SO ADORABLE! Ana gets dressed in something sexy to make Christian want to fuck her, as he's actually listened to the lady doctor's advice and still hasn't had sex with Ana. She heads to the kitchen, where he's eating breakfast and to the surprise of exactly no one, he immediately insists that she's not going to work, as the doctor told her to take a week off.

I slide onto a bar stool beside him and hoist my skirt up a little. Mrs. Jones places a cup of tea in front of me.“You look good,” Christian says. I cross my legs. “Very good. Especially here.” He traces a finger over the bare flesh that shows above my thigh-highs. My pulse quickens as his finger runs across my skin. “This skirt is very short,” he murmurs, vague disapproval in his voice as his eyes follow his finger.
“Is it? I hadn’t noticed."

Mrs Jones holds her hand over the burning ring of the oven hob, just to feel something. Anything. A smile comes to her face as she pictures herself surreptitiously lacing two plates of scrambled eggs with poison. "Enjoy your breakfast, Mr. Grey. Mrs. Grey." Enjoy it, you fucks. No more mornings spent trying not to vomit while you practically dry hump each other on the breakfast bar and act like I'm not even here. No more picking up after you in your sex room, cleaning jizz off carpets and washing your janky vibrators. Turning her attention back to Ana's breakfast, she felt a little better after her murderous daydream. Soon.....soon.

Ahem. Anyway, it turns out that Christian isn't going to work that day, so Ana decides not to either.

“I’m not sure this look is suitable for the workplace,” he murmurs.
“Well, since I’m not going to work, that’s a moot point.”
“Moot,” I mouth.

They go to the site of their new house and see how Elliot is getting on with the work there, and he reckons that they'll be able to move in before Christmas.

Holy cow - Christmas overlooking the Sound. I can’t wait. A bubble of excitement blooms inside me. I have visions of us trimming an enormous tree while a copper-haired little boy looks on in wonder.

You're due in May, you fucking dope.

They have a little wander around the house and go for a picnic in some long grass nearby, apparently out of the sight of the construction crew, and continue to talk shite. Christian has been taking work calls the entire time because there's nothing more romantic than listening to your husband being snappy on the phone to his subordinates while dicking around in a meadow. The last call he takes makes him sit bolt upright and get super serious all of a sudden.

The change in his mood is instant. Gone is my teasing, flirtatious husband, replaced by a cold, calculating master of the universe. He narrows his eyes for a moment then gives me a cool, chilling smile. A shiver runs down my back.

No wait, there's nothing more romantic than being genuinely afraid of your husband and his sudden changes in mood. Oooh.

Apparently Elena's ex-husband is the one who bailed out Jack Hyde when he was in custody, so Christian calls Ros and has her do some things with the shares he owns in Lincoln Timber that mean the ex (who he calls Linc, so is he Linc Lincoln? Who knows! Who cares!) has now been fucked over and bankrupted or something. Years ago, he beat up Elena when he found out that she was fucking Christian and now getting Jack out of jail was the last straw.

“I didn’t mean to frighten you,” he whispers.
“You didn’t,” I lie.
He arches a brow, amused.
“You just took me by surprise,” I whisper, then swallow. Christian is really quite scary sometimes.

Then it's time to fuck, which they do right there in the meadow and I don't care how out of the sight of the crew working on the house they think they are, if there's anyone on the roof then they're getting the whole show. The sex scene goes on for four entire pages and features this immortal line:

My panties disintegrate.

Because Christian can't just move them aside, he has to physically rip through them because he's a passionate and super strong vampire, I mean billionaire.

Christian previously mentioned that he missed doing his (terrible, irresponsible) Dom thing, so a few days later, Ana puts on some sex clothes and kneels by the bedroom door with Christian's sex jeans folded neatly on the floor beside her and (OF COURSE) emails him from the next fucking room WHY OH WHY WON'T YOU JUST TEXT EACH OTHER WHY. He arrives in and sees what Ana wants, puts on his sex pants and leads her to the playroom.



Ana is lying on a blanket outside "The Big House" enjoying the peace and quiet and because this author is the legit fucking worst, we get a flashback to "last night at our home in Escala" and at first I thought it was a flashback to the scene that ended the last chapter but it isn't, it's the previous night at this new later point in time because that's totally fucking necessary. Ana fills us in on how Christian flogged her arse and rode her and then we section break back to Ana on the blanket. Christian is lying beside her and puts his hand on her pregnant belly.

“How’s my daughter?”
“She’s dancing.” I laugh.
“Dancing? Oh yes! Wow. I can feel her.” He grins as Blip Two somersaults inside me.
“I think she likes sex already.”


Then, another goddamn section break has Ana waking up to the sound of her son squealing in delight and playing with Christian and I guess we're still on Ana lying on the blanket day? Who the fuck knows. Their son is called Teddy and Taylor's daughter Sophie is there too, who asks if she can take Teddy for a walk.

“Don’t go too far.”
“No, Mr. Grey.” Sophie’s hazel eyes are wide and serious. I think she’s a little frightened of Christian.

Cool, your husband frightens ten year old girls. Definitely a fucking keeper.

Christian tries to convince Ana to stop working (again) and she brings up the possibility of naming their daughter after his birth mother (whose name was actually Ella, rather than The Crack Whore, as this entire series would have you believe) but that make Christian cross and Ana immediately backs down.

Shit...I don’t want to anger him.

Anyway, won't they have to call her Carlace or Grarla?

In the meantime there's been a whole story arc about Teddy getting a popsicle and dropping it on the ground and being upset about it and I have no idea why all this extraneous bullshit is required oh my god will this nightmare never end. They all head towards the house and there's a mention of Taylor fixing an old motorbike which was the only interesting thing in the last eleven pages of epilogue. Then we hear about Christian reading The Lorax to Teddy at bedtime and HEY ANOTHER FUCKING FLASHBACK ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME EL JAMES.

Ana's in labour and the doctor is saying they need to do a C-section.

“About fucking time!” Christian growls at her.

Nice to see that he's consistent in being a cunt to the healthcare professionals that look after his wife. Ana has her C-section and the only reason we have to endure her going on about the whole thing and how scared Christian looks is literally because Twilight has a delivery scene so this does too. Thankfully Christian manages to stop short of biting off the umbilical cord like he's Brian Blessed and the whole thing is ultimately pointless and serves no purpose in this epilogue. Then we're back to the house and Ana says she was thinking about Teddy's birth.

Christian blanches and cups my belly.
“I am not going through that again. Elective caesarian this time.”
“Christian, I—”
“No, Ana. You nearly fucking died last time. No.”

Oh, YOU can't go through that again, can you Christian? And tell me, how has your C-section scar healed up? Did you get stretch marks? How is your vagina these days? Also, not your fucking choice so shut the hell up. Then Christian sets up a train set for Teddy because it's his birthday the following day and Ana tells us how everyone is coming over for his birthday party and just when I'm starting to wonder if I'm actually in Hell and this epilogue is never actually going to end and I'm trapped here forever, IT FINALLY FUCKING DOES.

Oh, apart from the Author's Note that details a conversation that Christian had with the bank manager to explain away how Ana could withdraw an insane amount of money with no notice, a "Bonus Materials" chapter of "Fifty's First Christmas", written from the infuriating perspective of baby Christian's first Christmas with the Greys AND THEN another fucking chapter which is their first meeting from the first book from Christian's perspective.

To all of which I say...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 3 (Vol. 12)

I'm off work sick today, which to be perfectly honest is the only reason I've managed to crank out this week's post. While at home and coughing like a dying girl in a Victorian BBC drama, because I'm that sound.

(Catch up: Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.)

The next chapter begins with Ana in the hospital, unable to open her eyes and overhearing Christian talking to a doctor and asking about the baby, who is fine, and Christian is relieved.

He wants the baby. Oh thank God. I relax, and unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain.

And then Ana wakes up and is fully informed of everything that has happened in the intervening time since she passed out.

Of course not! First we have to endure SEVEN FURTHER POINTLESS VIGNETTES in which Ana wakes up and then loses consciousness again, locked in an epic battle against...

As I surface from the fog, consciousness hovers, a seductive siren just out of reach.

The fog closes in.

The fog lifts but I have no sense of time.

Dad! He’s here. I fight the fog...fight... But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No...

The fog surrounds me once more, and I’m dragged down...down. No!

Ooh that lousy fog, with its murderin' sailor ghosts! No wait, different fog. Pity.

While Ana is busy providing us with these not at all annoying snatches of dumb conversations we discover things, such as the fact that Mia is recovering from being roofied, Grace has given out to Christian for being an asshole, Elizabeth is telling the cops everything and then lots of bits with Christian sounding anguished. There's also this exchange between Ana's stepfather Ray and Christian:

“If you don’t take her across your knee, I sure as hell will. What the hell was she thinking?”
“Trust me, Ray, I just might do that.”

My face almost got stuck like this.

And then Detective Clark tries to interview an unconscious woman:

“Detective, as you can see, my wife is in no state to answer any of your questions.”
Christian is angry.
“She’s a headstrong young woman, Mr. Grey.”

Ana finally fucking wakes up properly, putting an end to this nonsense (or you know, this particular bit of nonsense seeing as there is nothing but wall-to-wall nonsense in this never ending book). Christian is there, of course, and Ana needs to pee. She tries to sit up, but she's weak, so Christian tells her to stay still and calls for a nurse while Ana still tries to sit up.

“Will you do as you’re told for once?” he snaps, exasperated.

Cool. She hasn't even been awake for a full minute and he's already exasperated. WHERE OH WHERE IS MY CHRISTIAN GREY, HE'S JUST SO GODDAMN FANICABLE.

The nurse comes in ("She must be in her fifties, though her hair is jet black. She wears overlarge pearl earrings." This bitch just doesn't miss a single opportunity, does she?) and tells Ana that she has a catheter, but Ana's like, ugh gross, I want to get up to pee, so the nurse is going to remove it for her.

"Mr. Grey I am sure Mrs. Grey would like some privacy.” She looks pointedly at Christian, dismissing him.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He glares back at her.

Ana has to literally beg him to leave the room, which he eventually agrees to.

“Fine!” he snaps and runs his hand through his hair. “You have two minutes,” he hisses at the nurse.

Isn't it SEXY how he doesn't even pretend to entertain his wife's wishes? Isn't it SO HOT how he's so aggressively rude to the people who have been looking after said wife in the hospital, who work their fucking asses off and have to do so for ludicrously long hours, while having to deal with entitled, arrogant, ungrateful pricks like Christian Grey? It's all just SO FUCKING SEXY.

Also, fun fact, Christian "hisses" at people (mostly Ana) a total of 20 times in this book, leading me to believe that he's actually a giant snake disguised in a copper coloured wig. Like Chicken Boo, but a cunt.

Christian then barges back in, presumably after counting out the two minutes on his diamond Omega watch through gritted teeth while standing outside the door, and insists on taking Ana to the bathroom, instead of allowing the trained medical professional to do so, who protests the entire time. He lifts Ana up into his arms like the tiny pregnant baby that she is and carries her to the toilet.

“Mrs. Grey, you’re too light,” he mutters disapprovingly as he sets me gently on my feet.

Yeah, you should definitely get on her case about her weight immediately after her being in a fucking coma. He then won't leave the bathroom when Ana asks him to, and tries to make her pee while he stands there, staring at her. He eventually agrees to stand at the open doorway with his back to her, and in real life I imagine the nurse would have called security by now to get this fucking asshole out of her way and away from the woman he's essentially harassing.

The nurse then checks out Ana's blood pressure and asks her how she's feeling. Ana's hungry, and Nurse Nora (surely she's Nurse Dye Job or Nurse Tacky Jewellery or something, no?) says that they'll have to get her doctor's approval before she can eat anything. So naturally, Christian calls Taylor and tells him to bring Ana some chicken soup, because he knows better than some dumb doctor. He even puts it in front of Ana while the doctor is with her, without checking if she can actually eat yet, because Christian is Master of the Universe and some woman doctor isn't going to tell him how to live. When they're alone, he tells Ana that what she did was both brave and stupid, but it must be mostly stupid because he's then really mad at her and tells her that Taylor is mad at her too, because she must not be feeling bad enough about trying to save Mia I suppose.

“I have died a thousand deaths since Thursday.”

Hmm? Oh nothing, just bits of the video for that song from the soundtrack of that other completely unrelated and not-really-that-similar series which this one certainly hasn't unashamedly ripped off.

Anyway, it turns out that Christian was able to find Ana and step in to rescue her in time (although it was probably Taylor doing all the rescuing and beating up the bad guys, let's be honest here) because she had borrowed the bank manager's phone, which was the one Elizabeth threw in the bin, while Ana's one was stashed with the bags of money, because it's really a good thing that Christian tracks Ana's whereabouts through her phone. When it's night and time for Ana to sleep, she gets Christian to climb into the hospital bed with her so they can sleep together and I can't imagine how fucking awkward and uncomfortable that would actually be, not least because Ana's hooked up to a goddamn IV, but I suppose their love heals all neck cricks and stabbing pains in your back from sleeping at a weird angle all night.

Christian is gone the next morning and Carrick comes to visit Ana to check on her and remind her that everyone is mad at her for saving Mia. Man, these guys must really hate Mia. Christian comes back, bringing Ana's breakfast with him and they talk about the fact that Ana's pregnant. Ana suggests that Blip might be a girl, so of course Christian has to have a weird fucking reaction.

 “Two women, eh?”
Alarm flashes across his face, and his dark look vanishes. Oh crap.
“Do you have a preference?”
“Boy or girl.”
He frowns. “Healthy will do,” he says quietly clearly disconcerted by the question.

Presuming he's disconcerted at the thought of a daughter because he'd need extra security if he's got another female subject to control and manipulate. And also a tower to build and a dragon-guard to hire. Christian changes the subject and reads the paper to Ana while she has breakfast. Detective Clark then comes a-knockin' for Ana's statement and Christian is so overly and unnecessarily hostile to him that any other cop would start to think this dude has something to hide.

“Mr. Grey, Mrs. Grey. Am I interrupting?” 
“Yes,” snaps Christian. 

“My wife should be resting.” Christian bristles. 

And it's certainly not the fact that he's a huge asshole, anyway.

When Ana is done recounting what happened with Jack, she's cleared to go home, but not before Christian privately chats to her doctor about whether or not he can fuck his wife for the next while, because remember, Christian's boner is the most important thing in the world. (They actually can't have sex for a while though.) They go to visit Ray on the way home, who picks up the Everyone Is Mad At Ana parade until they tearfully hug. In the car on the way to Escala, Christian tells Ana that his investigator guy Welch has found out something about Jack Hyde and is coming in from Detroit to tell him. Not that he just volunteered that information of course, first Ana had to ask what was wrong because he looked nervous. He'd actually never tell her anything if it wasn't for her constant, and as it turns out, quite necessary wheedling.

When they get home, Ana is suddenly overcome by everything that happened and breaks down in tears. Christian sits her down and she apologises between sobs "for everything. For making you worry, for risking everything - for the things I said." Christian then comes out with:

“I’m sorry. It takes two to tango, Ana.” 

Yeah and it only takes one inconsiderate wankstain to berate and storm out on his newly pregnant wife before completely avoiding her for two days. Dick. They take a shower together and Ana continues to cry and then has the worst possible epiphany.

And in that moment it occurs to me; any explanations on his part have to come from him. I can’t force him—he’s got to want to tell me. I won’t be cast as the nagging wife, constantly trying to wheedle information out of her husband. It’s just exhausting. I know he loves me. I know he loves me more than he’s ever loved anyone, and for now, that’s enough. 

Nope. Nooooope nope nope nope. This is a terrible idea and what did I literally JUST SAY about how her wheedling is actually necessary in this relationship? IS THIS THING ON?

Anyway, Christian then proceeds to wash Ana and his "anger is palpable" as his fingers skate over the big purple bruise on her hip, because he's the only one allowed to bruise his wife, you see.

 “I want to kill him. I nearly did,” he whispers cryptically. 

Yeah fucking right, Christian, we both know that Taylor was probably the one who did the actual ass kicking during that confrontation and is also someone who wouldn't put bruises all over his wife's tits so go fuck yourself. Afterwards, Ana wonders why Elizabeth went along with Jack's plan and Christian says he knows why, and swiftly tries to change the subject yet again, which Ana ignores and gives him her "tell-me-more expression" because WHEEDLING IS INTEGRAL IF SHE'S GOING KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON. Christian eventually tells her that Jack had videos of himself having sex with Elizabeth and all his PAs, which was somehow blackmail material? I don't see how that's the case, particularly if those women were coerced into it, so how does proof of their possibly being raped work as blackmail against them? Then again, we've pretty much given up on anyone's motivations making any sense at this stage of the game. Also, since coming home, Christian has gone out of his way to turn Ana on and then tell her no when she responds and it's all just so fucking unnecessary and stupid and typically controlling of him. I hope his dick falls off.

Ana take a nap and when she wakes up, Welch has just left and it turns out that Christian and Jack lived together for a few months after his mother died. They were with the same foster family for around two months before the Greys adopted Christian, but he doesn't remember any of it. Ana convinces him to call his parents as they'll be able to fill in the blanks for him, so they call over that evening with Mia in tow, who has also invited Kate, Ethan and Elliot and decided to make it a welcome home party for Ana with no fucking notice in a house that isn't hers. This is the kind of shit that makes your family wish that you hadn't been rescued from a hostage situation, Mia. Continuing in that vein, it's then Kate's turn to be mad at Ana. She then tells Ana that they've set a date for their wedding and it'll be May the following year, but Ana's like "uh oh, that's when I'm due, oops it's going to have to be all about me I guess" but doesn't tell Kate that she's knocked up.

When everyone has gone home, Christian tells Ana that some of the memories from that time are coming back to him and figures that Jack is trying to murder him and ruin his life because the Greys should have adopted him instead or something. It makes, like, no sense. When they're getting into bed, Christian then starts to tell Ana a "bedtime story", which is about sixteen year old Christan working in the back garden of the Lincoln's house and END CHAPTER BECAUSE HALF ASSED CLIFFHANGER.

Nearly there. So very nearly there.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 3 (Vol. 11)

I actually didn't think I was going to get this one written in time this week, but here we are! I'm not even pretending like I can give any preamble to these anymore though, as at this point I'm just trying to get to the end of this endurance test and move the fuck on to some sweet sweet Sweet Valley. Let's go!

(Catch up: Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.)

Ana is freaking out over the text from Elena, sinking into a chair and weeping and rocking back and forth, but then again that's probably how she'd react to running out of her precious Twinings teabags, because normal human reactions are unequivocally Not Her Thing.

His wrath and fear, his need to lash out at me I can understand, and forgive - just. But this...this treachery is too much.

Mmm hmm. Sounds healthy.

Ana then hatches a plan, which is just her forwarding the text to her Blackberry and then forwarding it on again, to Christian's phone (which is where the text already is) with her own text asking if he wants Mrs. Lincoln to join them when they eventually discuss the aforementioned text. It's as pointlessly convoluted and fucking stupid as this entire series. Anyway, in the process of her ingenious scheme, Ana sees that Christian's wallpaper on his phone is a collage of photos of her, "a patchwork of tiny Anastasias in various poses", like a total psychopath, and she finds an email from Barney the investigator guy, detailing a bunch of stuff found on Jack's computer and mentioning that a woman rented the car that chased them a while back, or something. It serves absolutely no purpose, so of course we get the entire email and list in full, before getting back to Ana's fiendishly clever plan. She then locks herself into the playroom and sleeps there for the night, waking up in the morning to the sound of Christian banging on the door and freaking out because oh no, she wasn't there when he woke up and this is the worst punishment these idiots can bestow upon each other apparently.

Ana emerges and pointedly ignores Christian when he follows her to the bathroom asking her where she was. Because the locked room with a bed in it couldn't possibly be the answer I guess. She locks the door of the bathroom and takes a shower and Christian is still waiting outside when she's done.

His expression is wary, that of a hunted predator.

Jesus fucking Christ, do words just not mean anything anymore? AM I LOSING MY MIND? Christian tries to talk to Ana while she gets dressed, but she cuts him off every time and bizarrely and quite intentionally puts on something of a show in the process, dropping her towel, "shimmying" into her La Perla knickers and bending over to dry her hair, which is a really weird way to be mad at someone. Christian actually has the nerve to ask her why she was snooping on him, which is fucking rich coming from someone who literally has Ana's birth cert and bank account numbers in a folder from BEFORE THEY EVEN GOT TOGETHER. WIND YOUR FUCKING NECK IN, GREY. Ana tells Christian that him running off to Elena really hurt her and that he needs to cop the fuck on and then starts talking like she's in the Bible for some reason.

"You may not be happy about this baby. I’m not ecstatic, given the timing and your less-than-lukewarm reception to this new life, this flesh of your flesh."

Right. She also tells him that when she gets home from work she's going to move her stuff into the spare bedroom and then Christian threatens marital rape, because he's such a FUCKING DREAMBOAT.

He swallows and takes a step forward. I step back and hold my hands up.
“Don’t even think about it, Grey,” I whisper menacingly.
“You’re my wife,” he says softly, threateningly.

“I’m the pregnant woman you abandoned yesterday, and if you touch me I will scream the place down.”
His eyebrows rise in disbelief. “You’d scream?”
“Bloody murder.” I narrow my eyes.
“No one would hear you,” he murmurs, his gaze intense, and briefly I’m reminded of our morning in Aspen.

Really? Because I'm reminded of a terrifying serial killer, the tagline for the classic sci-fi horror Alien and the fact that you need to RUN THE FUCK AWAY.

They continue to argue and get precisely nowhere, so Ana heads for the office, while talking to "Little Blip" and saying things like "Let's go kick ass at work", which is ridiculous because all Ana seems to do all day at her job is cancel appointments and fight with her husband. When she gets home that evening, Christian is working late and not home by the time she goes to bed. Then the next morning he's gone before she wakes up and I pretty much spent this entire chapter just shouting "FUCKING BAIL, DUDE!" Christian sends Ana a terse email saying that he's flying to Portland that day and doesn't even allude to sex or change his email signature so things are obviously going terribly for these two fucknuts. Ana then gets a call from Mia, but when she answers, it's Jack Hyde on the phone. Quick! We need some manufactured drama to drown out any opportunity for this truly awful couple to meaningfully resolve anything about their monumentally horrible relationship!

Jack tells Ana that she and Christian fucked up his life and now they're going to pay. Jack wants "his fucking money" and is demanding five million dollars, giving Ana two hours to get her hands on the money and make the drop. (Really? Dude's a billionaire Jack, go big or go home.) And if she calls the cops or tells Christian or the security team, he'll somehow just know and then Mia is dead. Ana runs out of the office, tells Hannah to cancel her appointments (yet again) and gets Sawyer to drive her home, telling him she's not feeling well. She then has to orchestrate an escape from the apartment and her security detail because Ana lives in an actual prison. A shiny and sleek and expensive prison, but a prison nonetheless. Before doing that, she finds the gun that Christian still has left in a desk drawer like a fucking dope and takes it with her.

He knows nothing about guns. Jeez, he could get hurt.

Jeez, ya think? Maybe you should leave more guns around the place actually, do us all a favour. She also grabs a duffle bag and Christian's gym bag, because two hand held bags are definitely enough to transport five million dollars in cash. She drives to the bank after manufacturing a distraction for Sawyer and making a dash to the lift to get out of Escala unaccompanied and with the chequebook for a joint account in her and Christian's name.

“May I help you, ma’am?” The young woman gives me a bright, insincere smile, and for a moment I regret changing into jeans.
“I’d like to withdraw a large sum of money.”
Ms. Insincere Smile arches an even more insincere eyebrow.

Even under pressure like trying to withdraw ransom money on a tight deadline to avoid her sister-in-law getting murdered, Ana still finds the time to be a cunt to other women and bestow her patronising nicknames upon them. It'd almost be impressive if it didn't make me want to fling her into the sun. Once Ana clarifies to the lowly information desk clerk that she is, in fact MRS. CHRISTAN GREY, she stares at her in "disbelief and awe" and immediately becomes pleasant and helpful (because all these tertiary bitches are mean to poor little Ana until rightfully put in their place) and brings a manager to her.

Ana informs him of her intention to withdraw five million dollars and he's like "we normally ask for notice for large amounts of money, but sure! Why not!" and accepts her fucking credit card as proof of ID because her driver's licence still has her old name on it. This bank is ridiculous and everything that happens in it is total nonsense. Oh, and Ana has a gun jammed down the back of her jeans while all this is going on. The entire transaction is painfully stupid, so I'll just skip to the part where the manager calls Christian and Ana acts like he's after ratting her out or something, despite the fact that she's asking for actual millions from a joint account with zero notice and acting all squirrelly about it to boot. Christian thinks she's leaving him and Ana has to lie and say that she is, because she thinks if he gets involved then Mia will end up dead.

“But why the cash? Was it always the money?” His tortured voice is barely audible.
No! Tears roll down my face. “No,” I whisper.
“Is five million enough?”
Oh please, stop!
“And the baby?” His voice is a breathless echo.

How can someone's voice be an echo when they're not even repeating anything that's already been said, and not actually an echo at all? Hmm? I see that 'words not meaning anything' is becoming a recurring theme here in Fifty Shades of Phoning It In. Manager Guy then comes back in and tells Ana that it'll be about half an hour to get the money ready in this alternate dimension where this is all totally plausible.

A few moments, minutes, hours later - don’t know - Miss Insincere Smile reenters with a carafe of water and a glass.
“Mrs. Grey,” she says softly as she places the glass on the desk and fills it.
“Thank you.” I take the glass and drink gratefully.

But not gratefully enough to stop calling her names, I see.

When the money is ready and Ana is about to leave, she suddenly sees Sawyer waiting at the entrance to the bank, so she tells manager guy that there's someone following her. He asks if he should call the police and she says no and then asks if she can use a back exit of the bank. This lady in his bank is visibly distressed, has been bawling her eyes out for the last half an hour and now has someone following her, all while withdrawing millions in cash. In real life, the cops are already there. Anyway, she calls Jack on Mia's phone and there's an SUV with blacked out windows waiting out the back for her. The manager has two clerks help with the bags and there are two security guards with them too, who all stand by and wave her off as she climbs into this hilariously suspect vehicle with her massive amounts of money.

The driver’s door swings open, and a woman clad in black with a black cap pulled low over her face climbs gracefully out of the car. Elizabeth!

Who? I actually had no idea who this was supposed to be, but it turns out it's the head of personnel at Ana's office or something. She was in the last book I think? Christ, who even cares at this stage. Elizabeth throws Ana's phone into a bin so they can't be traced and they set off to meet Jack. Ana deduces that Jack must have something on Elizabeth for her to go along with this plan. They come to some dilapidated old buildings and meet Jack, who keeps calling Ana "bitch" and then smacks her across the face, knocking her onto the ground.

I scream a silent cry of suffering and shocked terror.


Jack kicks Ana in the ribs, Ana grabs the gun out of her arse, shoots him in the leg and passes out. But not before hearing cars screeching and doors opening and "Christian’s voice...Christian’s agonized voice" before the darkness closes in. Oh GREAT.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 3 (Vol. 10)

Look at this! Two posts in one week! Ka-blammo!

And now, back to this drawn-out pile of bollocks.

(Catch up: Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.)

Ray has woken from his coma and Ana has reverted to being a toddler. "He’s back. My daddy is back." She proceeds to call him Daddy for the rest of their interactions, even though up until this point she only ever called him Ray, and while I know some women might still call their fathers Daddy even in their twenties, it's Ana so it's really fucking annoying. She goes out to the waiting room to tell Christian, who, after asking how he is, immediately comes out with:

"Now that he’s awake, I want to get him moved to Seattle. Then we can go home, and my mom can keep an eye on him."

Like...what? Pretty sure it's not actually your call there, Chrissypants. The man is literally just out of a coma and he's like "Right! Let's get the fuck out of here and move this severely injured man completely unnecessarily and away from his doctors!" Ana at least recognises that this might be a bit much.

“I’m not sure he’s well enough to be moved.”
“I’ll talk to Dr. Sluder. Get her opinion.”
“You miss home?”

Oh ok cool, let's make it all about you then. Also, I suppose Ray doesn't actually get a say in this then, no? I'd also just like everyone to bear in mind that Christian Grey is 28 years old. For a handy equivalent, he's the same age as Zac Efron. Imagine some lad the same age as Zac Efron bossing you around, telling your da what's best for him and deciding he knows better than a bunch of doctors? Get the fuck out of here, High School Musical.

They head back to the hotel in Ana's new birthday car and as she hands the keys to the valet, notes how "He’s eyeing my car with lust, and I don’t blame him." Oh, to be Anastasia Grey. Women want to fuck her husband and men want to fuck her car. They get into the room, order in some dinner, accompanied by Dido "warbling on about white flags". Then there's some of their trademark excruciating flirty banter, followed by banging. Christian ties Ana up with the belt of one of the hotel dressing gowns and changes the track on his iPod to Sweet About Me by Gabriella Cilmi. Or, if you're EL James:

A sweet, almost childlike female voice starts to sing about watching me.

The sweet voice sings that there’s nothing sweet about her.

The next morning, they go back to see Ray in the hospital and he wants coffee and donuts, so Ana heads out to get him some, stopping to tell Christian, who's alone in the waiting room talking on his phone. He tells Ana to take Taylor with her when she leaves, so Ana rolls her eyes.

“There’s no one here.” His voice is deliciously low, and I know he’s threatening to spank me. I am about to dare him, when a young couple enters the room.
She is weeping softly.
I shrug apologetically at Christian, and he nods.

GAWD, can't these gross normal non-millionaire people take their potential family bereavement somewhere else so Christian can fuck Ana over a hospital waiting room chair? So RUDE.

Later that day, the detective working on Jack Hyde's case arrives because he wants to interview Ana about Jack and for some reason has come all the way to Portland to do so. He tries to talk to Ana alone, but of course Christian isn't having it. He tells her that Jack has been saying that it was actually Ana who was sexually harassing him, rather than the other way around. Ana tells Detective Clark exactly what happened and how she took Hyde down when he cornered her. Clark mentions that all the PAs who previously worked for him won't say anything bad about him and Christian mentions that his security chief had the same issue when he interviewed all five women.

“And why’s that?”
Christian gives him a steely glare. “Because my wife worked for him, and I run security checks on anyone my wife works with.”
Detective Clark flushes. I shrug apologetically at him with a welcome-to-my-world smile. 

Your world fucking sucks.

Anyway, as far as I can tell, the whole point of this exchange and Clark coming all the way to Portland for this useless interview is so we can notice that Clark asks whether Christian has had any further thoughts about "the note" and Ana's like "Huh? Note?" because of course Christian is still keeping important information from her. And that's pretty much the only reason that the last four pages happened.

The next day, everyone is back in Seattle, including Ray. The literal day after he woke up from a coma, they shoved him onto a helicopter and horsed him into a rehabilitation centre in another city. Where he doesn't even live. Because Christian Grey. While Ana is leaving Ray's room, she bumps into Dr. Greene, who rushes over to ask Ana why she cancelled her last four appointments. Ana suddenly realises that she's missed her birth control injection each time and SURPRISE! SHE'S PREGNANT. THANK FUCK FINALLY.

Dr. Greene does an ultrasound and ascertains that Ana is four or five weeks pregnant. Her patient is visibly shaken at this news and has just told her that she's shocked and Greene says:

“Looks like the shot ran out early. Oh well, that happens sometimes.”


She points out a "tiny blip" on the screen which means that we have to endure Ana referring to the foetus as Little Blip from now on. She heads back to the car and while Taylor drives her to the office, freaks out thinking about how badly Christian is going to react and how it's too soon for this to happen.

Perhaps I...perhaps I should end this. I halt my thoughts on that dark path, alarmed at the direction they’re taking. Instinctively my hand sweeps down to rest protectively over my belly. No. My little Blip.

"Dark path." "Alarmed." "Instinctively." "Protectively."

I see what you're doing, EL James. I see you. And fuck you.

Ana falls asleep in the car on the way because she's a narcoleptic toddler and has a dream about her stupid baby which then turns into a nightmare with Christian walking away from her in disgust. She gets back to the office and is all snippy with her assistant Hannah because it's apparently her fault that Ana's a fucking idiot. She's mad at her for cancelling appointments when she asked her to and for not assuming responsibilty for her boss's contraceptive choices, I guess. Anyway, Ana continues to quietly panic about telling Christian for the rest of the day.

When will I tell him? Tonight? Maybe after sex? Maybe during sex. No, that might be dangerous for both of us.

Dangerous for both of us. Nothing says romance like the threat of bodily harm or murder.

Christian collects Ana from work and is cross at her for not having eaten that day.

He shakes his head in frustration. “Do you want me to add ‘feed my wife’ to the security detail’s list of duties?”

Do you want to go fuck yourself?

Ana tells Christian over dinner that she's pregnant and he:
  • Bangs his fist on the table and shouts at her
  • Calls her stupid
  • Accuses her of getting knocked up on purpose
  • Shouts at her some more when she starts crying
  • Shouts even louder when she says he'll be a good father
  • Storms out and slams the door

Ana falls asleep in the library and Christian isn't home yet when she wakes up, so she sleeps on the couch in order to be there when he gets in. Christian eventually falls in the door absolutely hammered and Ana has to put him to bed. On the way there he suggests that they bone, she tells him he needs to sleep and he starts sulking and going on about how "it begins", and he's heard that "babies means no sex". Because why wouldn't she want to ride you after you screamed at her, disappeared for hours and came back gee-eyed? You fucking gremlin.

He runs his hands up and down my hips then jerks me forward, pressing his mouth against my belly.
“And we have an invader in here.” I stop breathing. Holy cow. He’s talking to Little Blip. “You’re going to keep me awake, aren’t you?” he says to my belly.

I swear to god, I was half expecting him to punch Ana in the stomach at this point. He goes on to whinge about how she's going to "choose him over me" because he's literally and actually jealous of a foetus right now. He eventually goes to sleep and when Ana picks his clothes up off the floor, his phone falls out of a pocket, revealing a text from Elena, saying it was good to see him and that he'll make a wonderful father, which explains where he's been all night. Fuck me, does anyone even care at this point? BECAUSE I SURE DON'T.

Monday, November 09, 2015

I Spy With My Little Eye

It's Brief Exchange time again! This is the exhibition that my lovely friend Noeleen has organised over the past few years, and entails a bunch of designer types each writing a brief for a poster, which then all get switched around and assigned at random. This year, the brief I got was short, sweet, and left me wondering how the hell I was going to do it.

I spy with my little eye...

So I thought, "Alright then! Spies it is!" While trying to figure out where to go from there, the Bear was helpfully suggesting subjects like Edward Snowden or the Cambridge Spy Ring, which led to me declaring "I don't care about dudes! It's going to be about LADY SPIES!" Having decided that much, (who am I kidding, of course it was going to be about lady spies. The lads always get the epic historical biopics and tales of derring-do.) I then remembered reading an incredible obituary a few years ago, of a woman who was known as The White Mouse during the Second World War, and set about reading up as much as I could about her. Because historical bad girls are my jam. (That, and strawberry.)

Her name was Nancy Wake and she was not to be fucked with.

Born in New Zealand, married to a French dude and with a reputation for being a party girl, Nancy wasted no time getting stuck in when Germany kicked off, working as a nurse and driving an ambulance during the invasion of Belgium. When France had fallen, she worked as a courier for the Resistance, set up a safehouse and smuggled hundreds of Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain, so the Nazis couldn't get their hands on them. When she got word that the Gestapo were closing in on her she escaped across the mountains, but not before a failed attempt that involved her jumping from a moving train with German bullets whizzing past her as she legged it through a vineyard. By then, she was the top of the Gestapo's Most Wanted list, with a five million franc bounty on her head and cool nickname to boot. The White Mouse, because she always managed to escape the Nazi's traps for her. She reached London and was trained by the Special Operations Executive (which was excellently nicknamed the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare) in espionage, combat and guerilla tactics.

Nancy was then parachuted into occupied France as a field agent, led and organised local resistance groups and co-ordinated successful attacks on German bases. When she landed, her parachute became tangled in a tree and the resistance agent that was meeting her made some sleazebag remark about how he wished that all trees "bore such beautiful fruit", to which she replied "Don't give me that French shit." You could say that she was exactly my kind of broad. Apparently she went nowhere without her Chanel lipstick and made a point of looking good during the war, so she wouldn't look like a hunted woman. Her brazen confidence had her winking at German checkpoint guards while she'd saunter past, flirting her way out of danger, but she's also a woman who killed a Nazi guard with her bare hands before he could raise the alarm during one of her raids. She was quoted after the war as saying; "In my opinion, the only good German was a dead German, and the deader, the better. I killed a lot of Germans, and I am only sorry I didn't kill more." She was basically a real life Agent Carter, but more murdery.

Click to enlarge.

So, armed with amazing details like all of that, I went about putting my image together, which involved an afternoon spent carefully drawing the outlines of WWII machine guns, Enfield revolvers, Sten guns and grenades, because, seriously, you didn't mess with Nancy. I decided to make the shape of a mouse, illustrated using bits and pieces from her frankly astounding time spent fucking things up for the Gestapo, as well as stuff she liked, such as her drink of choice (double gin and tonic), cigars and heels, as well as her many service medals. The mouse's tail is Morse code, repeating the text underneath and the silhouette in the second A of her name is actually based on a shot of Peggy Carter, as it sort of seemed apt. There was TV movie based on her life made in 1987, which she hated, because it depicted her making breakfast for the lads and having an affair with a soldier. “For goodness sake, did the allies parachute me into France to fry eggs and bacon for the men? There wasn’t an egg to be had for love nor money, and even if there had been, why would I be frying it when I had men to do that sort of thing?” Top notch saltiness.

The whole exhibition is online on the Brief Exchange site and there's a heap of brilliant design going on over there, so do check it out!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 3 (Vol. 9)

It's another late-ish one this week, as I seem to have lost track of the usual passage of time and have ended up being mad busy with stuff and also things. As well as all that, I've now caught up on myself as all along I'd managed to get these Fifty Shades posts written a little in advance so I wasn't under pressure to get one out every week so let's see how THAT pans out for the next few installments!

(Catch up: Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.)

Ana rushes out of the office, but not before describing her assistant Hannah as "pale" and "pinched" because there's always time to remind us that Ana is beautiful and all other women are garbage, even in the midst of a family emergency. She tells Sawyer that she needs to get to the hospital in Portland immediately because her dad has been in an accident and calls Christian on the way, to let him know. He's got some super important meeting that he can't cancel, but he'll follow her there as soon as he can.

“I have a meeting with some guys over from Taiwan. I can’t blow them off. It’s a deal we’ve been hammering out for months.”
Why do I know nothing about this?

Because Christian doesn't tell you anything, ever.

Ana and Sawyer arrive at the hospital and Ana gets directions from an "officious nurse with a myopic stare" (EL James has such a cromulent command of the English language).

“My father, Raymond Steele. He’s just been admitted. He’s in OR-4, I think.”
Even as I say the words, I am willing them not to be true.
“Let me check, Miss Steele.”
I nod, not bothering to correct her as she gazes intently at her computer screen.


"The waiting room’s there.” She points toward a large white door helpfully labeled WAITING ROOM in bold blue lettering.

That's right, fill that word count out Erica. You've definitely earned that net worth of $60 million.

José and his dad are in said waiting room, and José fills Ana in on what happened. The three of them were on a fishing trip in Astoria and their car was hit by a drunk driver. José has bruised ribs, his dad has a broken wrist and ankle and Ray's in surgery because the car hit the side he was on. Ana starts shaking, so José puts his jacket around her and Sawyer gets her some tea. Ana's main focus for the rest of the time sitting there is on her tea, until Christian arrives.

Sawyer reenters, bearing a paper cup of hot water and a separate teabag. He knows how I take my tea! (Hot water and a teabag, how revolutionary!)

I slowly sip my tea. It’s not Twinings, but some cheap nasty brand, and it tastes disgusting.

I glance at my watch: 2:15 p.m. He should be here soon. My tea is cold... Ugh!

I love a good cup of tea, but oh my god, shut the fuck up, Ana. Eventually, the door swings open and it's everyone's favourite buzzkill.

Christian strides in. His face darkens momentarily when he notices my hand in José’s.

Seriously dude. SERIOUSLY.

Christian sits with them, and is filled in on events so far, while "eyeing José’s jacket" and then a doctor arrives in with news. He asks Ana if she's Ray's next of kin, she tells him she's Ray's daughter and then this happens:

“Miss Steele—”
“Mrs. Grey,” Christian interrupts him.


Once Christian stops swinging his dick around the room and stapling MRS. CHRISTIAN GREY labels all over Ana, the doctor tells them that Ray had severe internal injuries and swelling in his brain so he's in an induced coma for now and is stable but still critical. Ana can go to see him in half an hour, so José and José Sr. head home for a rest and will come back later. Ana and Christian go to see Ray, who is being attended by a blonde nurse called Kellie.

I glance up in time to see her gape. She’s finally gotten a good look at my husband. I don’t care. She can gape at Christian all she likes as long as she makes my father well again.

I'm actually running out of things to say about this whole series to be honest. There's only so many ways to say FUCK THIS ENTIRE STUPID THING AND EVERY FUCKNUGGET IN IT.

ANYWAY. Christian takes a call outside and Ana prattles on to a comatose Ray about the weekend in Aspen and going sailing and their plans for the house and oh my god, imagine being trapped in a coma and having to listen to Ana babble incessantly at you. Just pull the plug on him guys, it's the kindest thing to do.

Ana and Christian go to the Heathman hotel to rest for a bit and are staying in the same suite where Christian took her when Ana was drunk and unconscious and he kidnapped her from a night out with her friends in the first book. It was super cool of him. Christian asks Ana what she wants to do and she realises that he's "rudderless" and doesn't know what to do because for once he can't "manipulate and predict" the situation.

“A bath. I’d like a bath.” I murmur, aware that keeping him busy will make him feel better, useful even.

Cool how Ana has to worry about her man-baby husband's inability to deal with not being the centre of her attention as well as her father potentially dying. They take a bath together and then head back to the hospital, where they meet José on his way out from seeing Ray. José and Ana hug and say goodbye and Ana congratulates Christian "for not frothing at the mouth", because they're such a super well-adjusted couple.

It turns out that Christian's mother, Grace is in the room with Ray and she knows the doctor who's looking after him and assures Ana that she's an expert in her field. Ana and Christian go back to the hotel, get into bed and Christian tells Ana to get some sleep, thus ending the chapter. Ana wakes up the next morning (beginning the next chapter, in accordance with The EL James Centre For Writing Books Good) and remembers with a start why she's in a hotel room.

“Shit! Daddy!” I gasp out loud, recalling with a gut-wrenching surge of apprehension that twists my heart and starts it pounding why I’m in Portland.

That is probably the most unwieldy goddamn thing I've ever seen. I had to read it three times before it made any sense. It's Ana's 22nd birthday today, so after asking “I want to wish you happy birthday.
Is that okay?”
(this is the man who basically doesn't take no for an answer when it comes to sex, but for this he asks permission) Christian gives her a little gift wrapped box with a charm bracelet in it. Ana tells us all about each charm and how they all relate to their honeymoon, the helicopter and Christian's precious feelings (i.e. a key “To my heart and soul” and so on). There's even a letter C charm, because god forbid Ana would have her own initial on it. In fact there's nothing relating to Ana's personality on the bracelet, and to be fair, I suppose you'd be hard pressed to mine that bitch for ten charms.

The last time I was here I was single, and now I’m married at twenty-two! I’m getting old.

Christian has also gotten Ana a white Audi R8, because money CAN buy you love, and they go to the hospital to see Ray. They wait around while Ray is having a CT scan done and Christian talks to his father on the phone about the drunk driver, saying things like "I want you to throw the fucking book at him, Dad", despite the fact that they're in a completely different state to the one where Carrick practices law, and as other bloggers have pointed out, he has absolutely no business getting involved, as he's not the District Attorney for the area. Which would be Clatsop County, where Astoria is. And the DA is this guy:

His name is Joshua Marquis and look how much he loves Astoria! Can't get enough of the place.

Doing more research into the things that happen in this book than EL James has done continues to be a theme in this series of recaps.

ANYWAAAAY, Ana then realises that maybe she should call her mother to let her know about Ray and wonders why she hasn't already gotten in touch to wish Ana happy birthday, but there's no answer when Ana rings. It turns out that the swelling has gone down in Ray's brain and he'll be taken out of the coma the following day, so he's healing up at a spectacular rate, almost as if the writer of this story has just given up on reality altogether. Then a bunch of exceedingly boring scenes happen, in which they go for a drive in Ana's new car, have lunch and end up back seeing Ray in the evening, until Christian decides it's time to go.

“I want to feed you. Come. It’s late.” Christian sounds insistent.

He also sounds like a grumpy zookeeper.

They go back to the hotel, change clothes and head down in the lift, to have dinner.

The two women inside shoot admiring glances at him and less generous ones at me. I hide my smile. Yes, ladies, he’s mine.


They walk into a dining room and it's a surprise party for Ana, her mother is there with her husband Bob, along with the Josés, Kate, Elliot and all the assorted Greys. It's a dinner party and nothing really happens, the next morning they all have breakfast together and Ana opens her presents because none of these idiots knows how a birthday party works. Ana and Christian go back to the hospital and Ray wakes up. Ta daah.