Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Crash Landing!

After all that board-game excitement and boyfriend thievery, I suppose it's time to see what's been going down in Sweet Valley town. And this one has an exclamation mark in the title, so you just KNOW it's going to be good.

Sweet Valley High #20: Crash Landing!


Enid Rollins is in the air in a two-seater Cessna with her boyfriend George, on his first flight as a qualified pilot. She's having a lovely time, but George is wracked with guilt because he has to break up with her after this, having fallen in love with Robin Wilson, who used to be fat, as we are constantly reminded. But before George can come clean, there's a problem with the plane's engine and they go crashing into Secca Lake. George is knocked out from the impact and Enid saves his life by pulling him out of the cabin before the plane sinks, but damages her spine in the process, resulting in her losing all feeling in her legs.

The pair are rescued by the emergency services, while Todd and a bunch of Sweet Valley students watch from the lakeside, where they had been having a picnic and playing football like the sexy, wholesome teenagers they are. I particularly enjoyed this exchange between Todd and Ken Matthews (I almost typed Ken Adams there, and that's what happens when repeat episodes of Friends on Comedy Central are the background noise of my life):

"Does anyone know what happened to the people in the plane?" Todd continued, worried.
"We don't know yet," Ken Matthews said, soberly. 
"But it's not just people, Todd. According to Robin Wilson it's Enid Rollins and George Warren."

AND GODDAMMIT, SWEET VALLEY HIGH KIDS ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN REGULAR OL' PEOPLE WHOSE EYE COLOUR DOESN'T EVEN GET MENTIONED EVERY EIGHT SECONDS.

Jessica and Elizabeth are in the police station after the whole Jessica-almost-being-murdered thing and hear about the accident on the police radio, prompting Jessica to exclaim "I'll die if anything happens to Enid!" Which, as we all know is BULLLLSHIIIIITTTTTT seeing as Jessica has slagged Enid off in every single book so far, deliberately tried to ruin her reputation and constantly wishes that Elizabeth wasn't her BFF.

They all rush off to the hospital to find that George is fine but Enid is now paralyzed from the waist down. George is utterly miserable and decides that Enid must never find out about him and Robin and that he's going to stay with her now because he blames himself for what happened.

Meanwhile, Jessica and Lila have signed up for a gourmet cooking class because Lila has been banging on about how important it is to know how to make "elegant dishes" (says the girl with actual servants) and talked Jessica into joining her. It's awkward at first but they make up quickly after the events of the last book, because "Jessica was too good a friend to stay mad at for long" (wuh? Jessica is a TERRIBLE FRIEND. She literally JUST STOLE YOUR BOYFRIEND.)

Anyway, the teacher arrives and he's a sexy French dude called Jean-Pierre, so naturally Jessica is immediately on high alert. He's "the handsomest man she'd ever seen" (in this book anyway) and is all crooked smiles and charm and sexy Frenchness.

On the way home in Lila's lime green Triumph (so amazing), Lila tells Jessica that Robin Wilson has broken up with her boyfriend for some other guy and as they're passing Robin's house they see George Warren coming down the driveway to his car. Escandalo!

Robin wasn't actually home and George was calling over to tell her that they can't see each other anymore and he's staying with Enid. In any case, Jessica runs to Elizabeth with her wrong end of the stick and tells her what she saw, launching a Sweet Valley High cold war against Robin. The next day at school, Jessica and Cara are frosty and mean to Robin, with Jessica justifying it afterwards as them doing what they can to help Enid. Because bullying someone is the perfect way to help Enid. Of course.

This bit is swiftly followed by yet another reminder that Robin used to be fat and a line with a message so outrageously bad it's actually hard not to laugh.

A strict diet-and-exercise regime had helped Robin to become one of the prettiest girls in the junior class.

NOOO! STOP THAT! BAD GHOSTWRITER.

Anyway, Jessica continues to justify being horrible to Robin, with the following logic:

Fair's fair, she told herself. Robin shouldn't see George behind Enid's back. And that's all there is to it.

Because she's clearly forgotten EVERYTHING THAT JUST HAPPENED.

Poor Robin doesn't understand why her friends are giving her the brush-off and can't figure out why Jessica and Cara seem to be mad at her.

I'm just getting paranoid, Robin decided, looking hungrily at the ice-cream Cara had left uneaten in her bowl.

LOOKING HUNGRILY. Because lest we forget, Robin Wilson is nothing if not a walking bag of food issues and a fat bird at heart. However, even Elizabeth is short with her when she asks how Enid is doing, so something is definitely wrong when even Saint Liz won't give her the time of day. Afterwards, Robin eats a massive slice of chocolate cake with ice cream on top, because "it wouldn't matter if she did get fat again" now that "it didn't look like she had any friends left to notice". Goddammit ghostwriter, don't make me come over there.

ENIIIID! I am highly enjoying everyone's t-shirts on this cover. Although considering that Elizabeth wasn't there for the crash and she doesn't actually see Enid until she's in hospital, I'm not sure what's going here, unless Elizabeth is after sneaking into Enid's room to prop her up while she's asleep. Much weirder stuff has happened in these books.

Elizabeth visits Enid in hospital, but George is there and it's all a bit tense and awkward. Elizabeth mentions the upcoming school dance and Enid becomes all sad and wistful that she's going to miss it. The school has so many dances though, it's a wonder they can get through a single curriculum, so there isn't really anything to be too worried about on that front. Elizabeth feels guilty about keeping the truth about George and Robin from Enid and George feels terrible too, so as it stands, everyone is miserable.

Everyone except Jessica, who's still eye-banging her sexy cooking teacher and has come up with a plan to surprise her parents with a spectacular and romantic dinner on their wedding anniversary. This is because Jessica forgets it every year and then feels like an asshole when Elizabeth gives them some thoughtful and meaningful present. But really, what kind of jerk sibling doesn't give you a heads-up if they're getting your parents a cool gift for a special occasion, especially when you're all living in the same house? Liz is the asshole here.

Robin persuades Elizabeth to meet her in Casey's after school, because she's lonely and sad and needs someone to talk to, as everyone in school is freezing her out. She actually says "You're my only hope!" I see you, Star Wars fan ghostwriter. I see you. Robin orders a sundae and immediately regrets it, telling Liz that she's started to put weight back on.

"You look fine to me," Elizabeth fibbed. As a matter of fact, Robin did look as if she'd gained some weight.

FUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUU! Elizabeth Wakefield, the Obi Wan of quietly judgemental bitchery.

Elizabeth tells Robin that she's been avoiding her because she feels awkward about the whole her and George thing and Robin insists that they haven't even spoken since they both decided to stop seeing each other unless Enid gets better. Elizabeth is having none of it and storms out, leaving Robin and her sundae alone together, at last.

Enid has an operation on her back that all went well, but she's still in a wheelchair, even though the doctors said she should be able to walk again now. Elizabeth decides to host a dinner party for Enid, George and Todd at her house, because an integral part of being a Sweet Valley teenager is to act like a fucking middle-aged married couple. There's even classical music on in the background. It turns out that Enid has been skipping physical therapy and feels like there's something up with George, who is all quiet and nervous, so the whole evening ends up being weird and tense.

Meanwhile, Jessica has resolved to ask Jean Pierre to be her date to the dance, despite the fact that he's well into his twenties and that's surely the type of thing that'll put your name on some kind of register. However, before she gets the opportunity to ask him and make a show of herself, his gorgeous redhead wife appears, which thankfully puts an end to that scheme.

The night of the dance arrives, Jessica is looking foxy and tanned in her cream coloured dress, Robin Wilson is definitely getting fat (She really looks like she's gained some weight, Jessica thought critically) and then Enid shows up in a wheelchair and a hush falls over the whole gym like it's a wild west saloon, because the kids at this school are dicks.

Enid is super self-conscious and tells George to go dance with someone. The idiot goes and dances with Robin and apparently it's obvious to everyone that they're in love. Things haven't been right between George and Enid since the crash, so she figures out what's going on and confronts him, confirming her suspicions.

A few nights later, Jessica makes dinner for the family as a trial run for her surprise anniversary dinner for Ned and Alice, but manages to give everyone food poisoning with dodgy clams. FINALLY, something that Jessica isn't spectacular at.

Enid's mother calls over to see Elizabeth, because she's worried about her daughter's lack of progress, and of course even the adults in Sweet Valley come to Elizabeth Wakefield for help. Mrs Rollins explains that Enid's spine is physically back to normal and she should be able to walk by now, but the doctors seem to think there's some kind of psychological block stopping her from recovering fully. Elizabeth then drops over to Mr Collins at his house to pester him outside school hours for help, because being a teacher in Sweet Valley is a 24/7 job. Which must suuuck.

The Wakefields go out for dinner once they've all recovered from Jessica poisoning them, and she's getting fed up of everyone taking the piss out of her disastrous cooking. Then to top off her bad mood, Elizabeth surprises Ned and Alice with tickets to a dinner-theatre evening for their anniversary on Friday. Dick. So Jessica's secret plan to make dinner for them goes tits up and nobody seems to care when she tells them about it. Womp womp.

Elizabeth has come up with a plan to jolt Enid past her mental block and get her out of the wheelchair, so she invites her over to the house one evening. She's recruited Mr Collins' six year old son Teddy to take part in this mysterious plan, which turns out to be her leaving Teddy and Enid alone for a few minutes in the back garden and having Teddy PRETEND TO DROWN IN THE POOL.

WHAT THE FUCK LIZ. NO.

Anyway, her insane plan works and Enid jumps out of her chair to save Teddy (who can actually swim really well) and everybody is super happy because Enid can walk again. Enid then cuts George loose so he can be with Robin and later that day everyone goes to Casey's for ice cream or whatever and Elizabeth gets a STANDING OVATION when she walks in. Because even when you've overcome a psychological hurdle and propelled yourself out of a wheelchair to save a drowning child, Elizabeth Wakefield is somehow still the hero.

Notable outfit:
Another disappointing lack of hilarious dresses and ruffles and whathaveyou, so this one goes out to the ever-foxy Mr. Collins and the Robert Redford head on him.

That night Mr. Collins looked even more dashing than usual in a white linen jacket and navy blue trousers.

You forgot to be on a yacht, Roger. With Don Johnson.

Things I counted:
Number of pages:151
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 8
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6
Amount of times people bite their lip: 7 (We're almost getting Fifty Shades of Grey levels of lip biting up in here.)

Monday, January 05, 2015

Sweet Valley High - THE GAME!

I demand a recount. Christmas can't be over, it just CAN'T. Although considering the fact that the other day, when I bent down to pick something up, a button LITERALLY pinged right off the front of my coat, maybe it's just as well. Christmas belly has reached critical mass. So now we're all back at work, trying to remember passwords and what it is that we actually do here (I had to write something down a minute ago and suddenly realised I hadn't even held a pen in two weeks), I'm going to distract you with something frivolous and fun.

Among the very cool presents that the Bear got for me this Christmas, one in particular was RIDICULOUSLY exciting to open. For you see it was the 1988 pastel-coloured masterpiece of board game tie-ins, the Sweet Valley High game.

ER. MAH. GERD.
I took it home to Waterford for the Christmas break and roped my mother, my brother Fish and his girlfriend Princess into playing it with me. I was Enid (I'm probably secretly most like her anyway, despite my delusions of Lila Fowler awesomeness and caviar sandwiches), Mam was Jessica and seemed to revel in Jess's bad behaviour, Fish strapped on a pair of goody two shoes to play as Elizabeth and Princess played as Lila. (I was kinda jealous.)


Each player gets a scoreboard which has a list of items to collect for their respective big dates, including a teacher and a boyfriend. For some reason Enid's boyfriend is Winston Egbert, which, as we all know, is clearly crazy talk. Also, Mr. Collins is part of Elizabeth's items to collect for her "Weekend Bike Tour", because as ever, there's a man who wouldn't know how to be appropriate if his life depended on it. Step away from the sixteen-year-olds, Roger. Also, why the hell is this old Mr. Fellows dude at Lila's birthday party? Goddamn Sweet Valley High teachers. You can't take your eye off them for a second.


The person playing as Jessica gets to roll first, because obviously, and if it was any other way, you just know that she'd come up with some kind of scheme to ruin your life. She's done it for less. The object of the game is to make your way around the board, collect all your items and get back to your home square with everything intact. The item cards are all upside down too, so you need to try to remember what's where once they've been looked at. (I couldn't for the life of me remember where Enid's surfboard was, and could only seem to say it like Beyoncé, so there was quite a bit of "Where the hell is my surfboard? MY SURFBORT!")


Also, it's not so easy when there's frequent "Change Boyfriends" squares to land on, which led to quite a lot of boyfriend-stealing and Ken Matthews being passed around the table like some kind of man-whore, as he was the only boyfriend card we unearthed for a lot of the game. (We didn't even find Todd until the game was over. Fish/Elizabeth was most displeased with Todd's excellent hiding skills. "Todd, you bastard!")


In amongst the items there are also "Go to detention" cards to trip you up and make you miss your next turn, as well as a deck of cards to draw from when you land on a "play a card" square that could either make things easier for someone or mess up their scoreboard completely. They mostly seemed to focus on Jessica constantly screwing people over for, like, no reason, as is to be expected.


In the end, as in life, Jessica (and in this case, Mam) was victorious and managed to sneak back to her home square with everything she needed for her prom date (including Bruce Patman), while everyone else was ganging up on me and stealing Winston from my grasp - Elizabeth's goody two shoes came loose pretty effing fast, let me tell you - when I was almost back to my square with a full card.

It's actually really good fun to play and the boyfriend stealing side of things is hilarious. Those Sweet Valley boys get around even more than Jessica does. And that's saying something.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Quelque Chose #28

I've had an idea to write a post about lady wrestlers in the 40's and 50's knocking around my head for the last while, (as there were quite a few and they were all pretty amazing), but I just haven't gotten around to it due to being, in turns, either quite busy or very lazy. (Murder She Wrote and Jem aren't just going to watch themselves on Netflix now, are they?) But while looking for photos for such a post, I found these deadly ones of a vaudeville act in the 1910s, that comprised of two sisters who would box and wrestle onstage.


And they were called the Bennett Sisters, which is pretty cool.

Oh Mr. Collins, please just take no for an answer, would you?
No?
*BODYSLAM*

Hey Mr. Wickham, running off with my underage sister, are we?
*FACEPUNCH*


(Photos via)

Friday, December 05, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Showdown

Oh it feels amazing to be free of EL James and her woeful writing! I had to take a bit of a break there to shake off the sense of despair that 50 Shades instills in me. Now I'm back and it's high goddamn time we checked in on the denizens of Sweet Valley and see what Elizabeth and Jessica have been up to. I bet it involves them being spectacularly beautiful. Let's do this thing!

Sweet Valley High #19: Showdown


The Wakefield twins are doing the dishes after a family brunch on a Sunday and discussing a pool party that Lila Fowler is throwing later that day. You see, she has a new boyfriend and as Elizabeth notes, "she probably invented this whole pool party just to lure him over to her house and show him off to everyone". That's exactly what Lila is up to, but Elizabeth laughs "good-naturedly" after saying as much, because she's a wonderful person you see, and wasn't being bitchy because that's just not possible. She's honesty personified, after all.

Jessica, however, is already on a mission to steal Lila's new boyfriend, without even having met him. Lila screwed Jess over at the end of the last book by only getting her a D in the term paper she wrote for her after losing a bet and Jessica swore she'd get back at her. Although even if none of that had previously gone down, I expect Jess would still try to poach this dude anyway. ♫ That's what frenemies are forrrr...

So everyone is at Lila's mansion and hanging out by the pool, Elizabeth and her "lithe, tanned body" are making out with Todd and his "lean, muscular build" because they're both just SO FREAKING SEXY, Nicholas Morrow and Winston Egbert are having doggy paddle race in the pool and Olivia Davidson is playing her guitar under a tree somewhere like the goddamn hippy she is.

Lila's new beau eventually shows up and his name is Jack, he's super handsome and wears Lacoste shirts and Top-Siders (which I had to Google and appear to essentially be Dubarry shoes). When Jessica spots him, she leaps into action, whipping off her robe to reveal a tiny turquoise bikini and backflips into the pool like a fucking pro. She then calls Lila and Jack to join her and notes that Lila's shiny black bikini is as skimpy as hers and that "Lila's trim figure was almost as good" as Jessica's. Almost. All the money in the world can't buy those sexy Wakefield genetics, Fowler!

Jack charms everyone at the party, but doesn't really talk about himself and gets all squirrelly and flustered when Nicholas Morrow says he looks familiar and tries to figure out if they've met before. Jessica eventually gets Jack to herself when Lila has to answer the phone (it's the servants' day off, you see) and tells him to give her a call sometime. They're in the Fowler mansion foyer and there's no pen or paper nearby, so Jess grabs a book of matches, strikes one, blows it out and writes her number on the inside of the cardboard cover with it. It's a small detail but I love it, because Jessica appears to be the MacGyver of hooking up with cute boys.

However, it turns out that Jack is actually a construction worker, which makes Jessica back off for a while, because ew, Jessica Wakefield couldn't possibly be seen with a mere manual labourer. She might get poor on her. You'd think Lila would have a similar attitude, but she reckons there's more to Jack that he's not telling her. Later on, when all the guests have gone home, her suspicions are confirmed when Jack tells her that his father is a very powerful man and was trying to run his life for him, so he left home to see if he could make it on his own. They arrange to meet up the following Friday, as Jack can't go out during the week, what with work and all.

"I'd love to." Lila's smile was as genuine as the diamond pendant hanging around her neck.

SHE'S EXTREMELY WEALTHY, YOU SEE. IN CASE THE EARLIER MENTION OF SERVANTS DIDN'T GIVE IT AWAY.

Lila promises not to tell anyone Jack's secret, but that night when she's alone in her room with her pale blue princess phone, she simply can't resist confiding in Cara Walker, so naturally the next day at Sweet Valley High, everyone thinks Jack is a runaway prince or something.

At lunch, Lila mentions that Jack is taking her out that Friday night and Jessica is furious, because all it should take is her saying hello to give a dude a permanent boner, so what the hell is up with Jack? By the by, Lila has a "butter and caviar sandwich" with her for lunch because OF COURSE SHE DOES. She also mentions that her father is angry with her for having a party while he was away and all his fancy cufflinks and tie pins have mysteriously gone missing. HMMM. WHO COULD POSSIBLY BE RESPONSIBLE?

During the week, Jack calls Jessica and arranges to meet up with her on Wednesday night, because no-one is impervious to the sight of Jessica Wakefield in a bikini. Elizabeth isn't so sure about Jack though, she has a funny feeling about him and wonders what kind of a guy "would date two girls at one time". Jack and Jessica go for a romantic walk on the beach and Jessica is already convinced that she's in love.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has taken over editing The Oracle, while Penny Ayala is out sick with mono. A mystery photographer has been taking hilarious candid pictures and leaving them outside the office, so Liz brings them with her when she calls over to Penny's house to discuss the upcoming issue. Penny's little sister Tina answers the door and when Liz introduces herself, Tina replies:

"I know". Tina grinned. "Everyone at Sweet Valley High has heard of you and Jessica."

It's all quite eye-rolly. But then I realised that while the Wakefields would probably be the kind of teenagers that are famous on Instagram and have Tumblr blogs dedicated to them and their perfect hair, they're most likely well-known due to the near-death motorbike crash, the kidnapping incident, the bar fights and the false rape accusations. I assume.

While Penny and Liz discuss the articles for the paper, they mention one that Robin Wilson has written about the flying lessons she's been taking. Penny is impressed with Robin's writing and had no idea that Robin wrote so well. What follows is...odd.

"She used to write all the time" Elizabeth explained, "before she lost all that weight. Remember? When she was the butt of everyone's jokes instead of the girl all the boys want to date?"

HEY REMEMBER WHEN ROBIN WAS SO FAT AND DISGUSTING THAT THE VERY APPEARANCE OF HER NAME WAS SWIFTLY FOLLOWED BY A MENTION OF HER FAT ARMS OR HER IMMEDIATELY EATING AN ENTIRE CHEESECAKE?

Well, it turns out that she was good at writing, as well as cheesecake-eating, but now that she's skinny and hot, she doesn't need no stinkin' creativity! WRITING IS FOR FATTIES.

Jessica hasn't told anyone that she went on a date with Jack and she's been avoiding Lila because she can't bear to hear her going on about Jack like he's all hers. Lila is meeting him that Friday for a date and Jessica is convinced he's going to finish with her, so she's none too pleased when it turns out that they hung out all weekend and are the talk of the school.

Jessica looks like she's about to BATE the head off Lila, possibly using her weirdly massive jawline as a weapon. Lila looks lovely and perfectly stuck-up.

However, Jack calls a few days later and arranges to meet Jessica for another midweek date. Liz asks Jessica if he's explained what's going on with Lila yet, which sends Jess into a huff until they descend into a tickle fight for some reason. The doorbell rings and Jessica is horrified that Todd is calling over to sniff some glue with Liz, no wait, STUDY, I meant study with Liz, because he might find out that Jack is seeing Jessica. It turns out that both boys are waiting outside as they arrived at the same time, so Jessica's secret is out. Jack is all charming and handsome as per usual, but Elizabeth notices that his eyes are red and when she makes a lame French joke, he doesn't get it, despite previously saying that he was fluent in French. VERY SUSPECT.

Jessica's wallet goes missing during the date and Jack convinces her she must have left it at home. He also insists that he and Lila are just friends and promises that he'll make that clear to Lila that weekend. Jessica is satisfied with this so they go make out at Miller's Point, where all the Sweet Valley teenagers go to have sex in their cars.

On Thursday night, Elizabeth is finishing off the issue of The Oracle that she's been working on, and runs into Tina Ayala in the corridor outside. It turns out that Tina is the one who's been taking the great photos and leaving them under the office door, because she didn't think her older sister Penny would take her seriously or some such nonsense. This whole subplot is really just a means for Elizabeth to see a particular photo that Tina took out on the airfield. And it's a photo of Robin Wilson (you know, used to be a big giant fat girl? Ate a lot of ham?) and George Warren (Enid's boyfriend) "locked in a heated embrace!"

Meanwhile, Jack has no intention of breaking up with Lila and they spend their next date drinking wine in the Fowlers' outdoor sculpture garden like a pair of forty year olds.

"Mmm," Jack said, swirling the wine in his glass and savoring its bouquet, "this wine is almost as exquisite as you are. But not quite."

This dude is meant to be like seventeen or eighteen. I'm not buying it. No teenager is that into wine. They should be drinking alcopops and they know it.

Anyway, they say that they love each other and end up getting engaged, but it has to be a secret because Jack doesn't want his father to find out where he is. By the way, Lila doesn't even know this guy's last name.

Elizabeth decides to confront George and Robin about their shenanigans, so she drives out to the airfield on the afternoon that the flying class are getting their pilots licenses. After the ceremony, Elizabeth approaches them and they end up explaining that they've fallen in love and never meant for any of it to happen like this. George says that he's planning on telling Enid that night after bringing her up for a spin in the plane and Robin says she's already ended things with her boyfriend, Allen.

Lila is supposed to be meeting Jack for a special celebration that night, but she's got the flu and has to cancel. So Jack arranges to meet up with Jessica instead and tells her that he's levelled with Lila, prompting Jessica to come into Elizabeth's room to gloat about her victory.

"I mean why would any guy want to spend time with Lila, when he could spend it with me?" She ran her fingers through her hair in an imitation of a femme fatale.

"Ah, yes, my dear, you are so bee-you-tee-ful, they are breaking down the front door just to get a glimpse of you. In fact, you are almost as bee-you-tee-ful as me." Elizabeth mimicked Jessica's femme fatale imitation perfectly.

Then they both collapse into giggles over how beautiful they both are. They're just so relatable.

Jessica and Jack go for pizza and run into Nicholas Morrow and a friend of his called David. Jack gets all weird again when he spots the two of them and scares Jessica a bit with how angry he suddenly becomes. He reels it back in and when they've finished he practically runs out of the place after paying the bill. Jessica stops to say hi to Nicholas on her way out and then agrees to go back to Jack's place with him, thinking she might find out more about him.

Nicholas tells his friend that he thinks he knows Jack from somewhere and eventually they both figure out that he previously went to school with them and got kicked out for robbing a girl he was dating at knifepoint. As in, he robbed her at knifepoint. He wasn't dating her at knifepoint. That would be extremely difficult. YOU LOOK LOVELY! HERE ARE SOME FLOWERS, BITCH!

Nicholas and David drive to the Wakefields' house, hoping that someone there might know where Jessica and Jack are headed to next. On the way there, David explains that Jack's family died in a boating accident and afterwards Jack started doing drugs and making up stories about how rich and powerful his family are and would steal stuff to keep himself well dressed and looking like a rich kid, but would fly off the handle if anyone asked too many questions.

They find Elizabeth and fill her in on what's happening, so they all rush off to find Jessica before it's to late. After checking a bunch of places, Elizabeth calls Lila to find out Jack's address and ends up having to tell her all about how Jessica has also been seeing him and about Jack's lies and violent tendencies. Elizabeth eventually gets the address after some shrieking and a horrified cry or two from Lila.

Meanwhile, Jessica is poking around in Jack's bathroom, looking for some clues about his background, as his apartment isn't giving her anything.

She'd never been in an apartment quite this gloomy before.

I have to wonder if she's ever actually been in an apartment before at all, though. It seems like only poor and/or shady people live in apartments in Sweet Valley. Anyway, she finds a box filled with "all kinds of drugs" (I kinda love how vague that is) under the sink and figures that this must be the reason for Jack's strange behaviour. Instead of making her excuses and leaving, Jessica bursts into the living room, brandishing the box and demanding to know what's going on. She catches Jack rooting through her bag and realises that he took her wallet and stole Mr. Fowler's cufflinks. Jack loses the rag, lunges at Jessica and starts choking her.

Elizabeth, David and Nicholas arrive just in time and break down the door, only by then Jack has a knife and they all end up in a mad tussle. Jessica manages to break free and CHEERLEADER-KICKS THE KNIFE OUT OF JACK'S HAND. It's actually kind of amazing.

And the game was finally up for Sweet Valley's mystery prince.

And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those pesky kids.

Notable outfit:
This one is not particularly hilarious, in fact it sounds kinda nice:

Jessica stood in the middle of Elizabeth's cream-coloured bedroom and modeled a slinky, royal blue dress. It fell softly to just below her knees, with a slit up both sides to mid-thigh.

It also sounds a bit slutty, which makes no sense as it's meant to belong to Elizabeth and she usually dresses like a Victorian babysitter. It seems like Jessica is the only one who wears Elizabeth's sexy clothes.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 9
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 14)

You guys! We made it! It's the last installment of this rage inducing series! And OH BOY am I looking forward to the palate-cleansing sorbet of Sweet Valley High after this shit sandwich of misogyny, emotional abuse and mind-numbing fuckery. So without further ado, let's crack on with Volume 14!

(Catch up: Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13) Phew!


Now that Kate is confronting Ana and Christian, EL James uses all the words from her bag of word-magnets and ham-fistedly jams them into Ana's reaction:

All the color drains from my face as my blood turns to ice and fear lances through my body.

WELCOME TO METAPHOR CITY. POPULATION: YOU. Kate demands to know what the hell is up with all this contract business and asks Ana what Christian has done to her. Ana tells her it's none of her business and it turns out that the email was in the pocket of a jacket Christian had left on the back of Ana's bedroom door. Ana's response to this is really something, coming from her.

What the hell is she going through my clothes for? It’s usually the other way round.

SHE WAS PROBABLY LOOKING FOR HER PLUM DRESS AND ALL HER OTHER STUFF, YOU THIEVING BITCH.

Christian asks Kate if she has told anyone about the contract, but she hasn't and Ana then reassures Kate that everything is good between them (I...give up) and the contract stuff is in the past.

“Ana has consented to be my wife, Katherine,” he says quietly.

Imagine a 27 year old talking like that. Because that's how old Christian Grey is, by the way. Twenty fucking seven. Actually no, it's his birthday so now he's twenty eight. MUCH BETTER.


Once Kate has been assured that Ana is happy with her terrible relationship, she's delighted for her and everything is fine and that whole chapter-ending cliffhanger is resolved within a page and a half, so it was just another load of pointless tension that went nowhere.

Christian's mother comes into the dining room to get them, because there's a crowd of people waiting to welcome their guest of honour and they all burst into applause when Christian comes into the living room. And everyone is there! All his friends! And by friends I mean employees! i.e. Mac from the boat, a random black guy that was briefly seen in Christian's office in the first book and hasn't made an appearance since then, Ros the assistant and even Dr. Flynn, turning up to his patient's social gatherings like a big weirdo. Oh AND Elena is there. Because she's a friend of the family and we need to manufacture some last minute drama, goddammit!

But first, Gretchen the sexy blonde waitress (who was also in the first book) turns up with a tray of champagne, just in time for Ana to remember that she hates her, "flushing and fluttering her eyelashes at Christian" like the big smelly whore she undoubtedly is. Everyone comes forward to wish Christian a happy birthday, including Elena, who hugs and kisses Christian and asks why he hasn't been returning her calls. He gives her the brush off and says he has an announcement to make to the room.

"This beautiful woman” - he glances down at me - “Miss Anastasia Rose Steele, has consented to be my wife, and I’d like you to be the first to know.”

Again with the consenting. Why can't he talk like a normal fucking person? It's an especially weird choice of words, considering that he couldn't give a tiny twirly fuck about Ana's consent in literally every other situation. Ana looks around the room, which is again filled with applause and notes how jealous all the other women are. Because obviously there's no point in getting engaged if everyone else isn't choked with envy.

Lily (Mia's bitchy friend who is in love with Christian and was kinda mean to Ana previously), who is standing beside Mia, looks crestfallen; Gretchen looks like she’s eaten something nasty and bitter. As I glance anxiously around at the assembled crowd, I catch sight of Elena. Her mouth is open. She’s stunned - horrified even, and I can’t help a small but intense feeling of satisfaction to see her dumbstruck.

YOU SEE THAT, OTHER WOMEN/COMPETITORS? ANA IS VICTORIOUS AND HAS CAUGHT THE GOLDEN SNITCH OF ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS. SHE WINS AT BEING A WOMAN BECAUSE OUR OBJECTIVE IN LIFE IS TO BAG A HUSBAND THAT EVERYONE ELSE WANTS TO FUCK. IT'S ALL OVER. EVERYONE GO HOME.


Mia then asks to see the ring and Christian says they're going to choose one together, while "glowering" at his sister for asking a perfectly legitimate question.

“When will you get married? Have you set a date?” She beams up at Christian.
He shakes his head, his exasperation palpable. “No idea, and no we haven’t. Ana and I need to discuss all that,” he says irritably.


I know I gave out about Mia being a pretentious headwrecker in the first book, but it seems like Christian is constantly mad at her for no fucking reason. These are the questions that LITERALLY EVERY engaged couple get asked when they make the announcement and he's acting like she's asked whether they've had anal sex yet. (They haven't, by the way.)

Ana and Christian end up chatting with Dr. Flynn and his wife Rhian. Dr. Flynn congratulates Christian on his engagement by saying “That was one googly you bowled there, Christian”, because he's English and sure we all know that Brits can only communicate through the medium of tea and royal babies and cricket references that they know full well Americans wouldn't understand. 

I had no idea Dr. Flynn would be here, or Elena. It’s a shock, and I rack my brains to see if I have anything to ask him, but a birthday party hardly seems the appropriate venue for a psychiatric consult.

Jesus Christ. YA THINK.

While chatting to Rhian, Ana realises that Christian and Dr Flynn are discussing Leila and she just can't help trying to listen in, "rather rudely tuning out Rhian". Well at least this time she knows she's being fucking rude. Anyway, they're talking quietly so she can't make out what they're saying but they stop when the group is joined by Ros and her girlfriend Gwen.

She’s one of the few women I’ve met who isn’t dazzled by him...well, the reason is obvious.

LESBIANS ARE IMPERVIOUS TO CHRISTIAN GREY. GOOD FOR YOU, LESBIANS.


Grace then announces that dinner is being served buffet-style in the kitchen, which seems unlikely for a giant mansion with servants doing the rounds with trays of champagne, but whatever, this book is almost over so let's just power through.

While everyone makes their way towards the food, Mia catches up with Ana and offers her a lemon martini.

I glance up at Christian, who releases me with a best-of-luck-I-find-her-impossible-to-deal-with-too look, and I sneak into the dining room with her.

I know, right? What a TOTAL BITCH. SO IMPOSSIBLE AND RUDE.

Mia says she needs some advice, and can't talk to her friend Lily, who is apparently very judgemental (Ana is the best of all the women, you see) and also very jealous of Ana because she fancies Christian and thought she had a shot with him.

This is something I will have to contend with for a long time - other women wanting my man.

Well, that's the price you pay for winning the Woman Hunger Games, Ana. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, and all that.

Anyway, Mia's problem is that Ethan doesn't want to date her because his sister (Kate) is going out with Mia's brother (Elliot) and he thinks it's all a bit "incestuous", but Mia knows he likes her. Ana's advice is to give it some time, seeing as Mia has only just met him, which she at least realises is a bit rich coming from her and tells Mia to try talking to Kate, which she runs off to do.

However, as soon as Mia leaves, Elena appears and closes the door, cornering Ana alone in the dining room and suddenly shit gets real. And by real I mean so ridiculously over-dramatic that the Dynasty and Dallas writers would probably have found this conversation a bit much.

“I would offer you my heartfelt congratulations, but I think that would be inappropriate.” Her piercing cold blue eyes stare frostily into mine, filled with loathing.

Oooh, piercing! Cold! Frostily! WHAT A VILLAIN!


“I neither need nor want your congratulations, Elena. I’m surprised and disappointed to see you here.”
She arches an eyebrow. I think she’s impressed.


KA-POW! Such verbal sparring! This goes on for a while, and involves words like "worthy adversary" being carelessly bandied about, Elena asking Ana what she thinks she's doing "consenting to marry Christian" and Ana replying with "what I’m consenting to do with Christian is none of your concern". I don't think I've ever in my life heard anyone refer to getting engaged as "consenting to marry" their other half, and the characters in this book literally can't stop saying it. It's so weird.

In any case, Elena calls Ana a "mousy little gold-digger", at which point Ana throws her drink in Elena's face. It's actually kinda refreshing to hear Ana being described as something other than beautiful and amazing and witty and shrewd. Christian then enters the room, unwittingly knocking Elena off-balance with the door before she can lunge at Ana and pull her hair or whatever, and then proceeds to shout at Elena, when he sees what's going down. They have a big loud argument about their previous creepy relationship when Christian was younger and next thing you know, Grace appears and overhears what her friend got up to with her then-teenaged son. Grace slaps Elena and kicks her out of the house and Ana runs off to Christian's room upstairs while Grace and Christian have a mother-son chat.

After a while, Christian comes looking for Ana and tells her that his and Elena's business relationship is over and then gives out to Ana for drinking without having eaten.

"You need to eat. It’s rule number one. I believe we’ve already had that discussion after our first night together.”
Oh yes. The Heathman.


Oh yes, the time when they didn't really know each other and he said he was going to take her back to her place when she was blind drunk and instead took her to his hotel room, took her pants off and watched her sleep all night like a terrifying fucking psycho. A magical night.

When the last of the guests have left, Christian brings Ana to the boathouse and she gets all giggly on the way there, thinking about the last time he brought her there. The time that he dragged her there over his shoulder while furious at her for resisting him groping at her crotch under the dinner table while his parents were there and she had to plead with him not to spank her. AGAIN. MAGICAL.

This time, however, the boathouse attic is filled with flowers and fairy lights and Christian gets down on one knee so he can re-propose, only this time it's all romantic and what have you and he's got a ring. "Jeez - it's big..." Ana says yes again and tells us that they're "meant to be" and I guess it's meant to be all wonderful and lovely, despite Christian being:


And just when you think it's over and you can throw this book into a fire, BOOM! POINTLESS EPILOGUE! RIGHT IN THE FACE!

A shadowy figure is hiding outside the Grey mansion, blowing smoke rings and drinking "cheap bourbon", so you KNOW he's bad news.

The helicopter had been a rash and bold move. One of the most exhilarating things he'd ever done in his life. But to no avail.

ERMAHGERD, SABOTAGE. The shady new narrator goes on about how Christian underestimated him, just like everyone else always does, but that his chance will come soon and it's all super ominous and mysterious, except it's clearly creepy Jack, Ana's former boss. Who seems to think that attempted murder is a reasonable reaction to him losing his job. When it was his own fault for trying to rape his employees.

END OF FUCKING BOOK.

So despite the fact that everything could have been wrapped up at the end of this one, there's an entire third book, because this is basically Twilight after all, so there has to be a wedding and a demon-baby or something. A demon-baby that Christian will probably be jealous of and end up insisting on a C-section delivery, because no one is allowed near Ana's vagina but Christian. NO ONE.

It took two years for me to calm down sufficiently before I could even entertain the notion of recapping this one (Fifty Shades Darker, as it's actually called), but I probably will do Fifty Shades Freed at some point. Just not right away.

For now, I'm out.


Thursday, November 06, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 13)

Ok! We are SO CLOSE to the end, I can FEEL IT. So let's do this thing and sally forth to Volume 13. This one's got its fair share of rage-inducing moments, so HOLD ON TO YOUR BUTTS.

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


José heads off home and as soon as the lift doors have closed, Christian notes how José "still wants into your panties, Ana", because the only thing certain in this life are death, taxes and everyone wanting to have sex with Ana Steele. Christian notes that Ana didn't tell José that they're engaged and Ana points out that she wants to tell her mother and Ray, her stepfather first. Christian says that he should ask Ray for his permission and Ana laughs it off, saying this isn't the eighteenth century and that they'll talk about it later. (Remember this bit and in particular the fact that Ana wants to tell Ray herself.)

She changes the subject by saying that she wants to give Christian his other birthday presents. The first one is a small wooden model helicopter with a solar powered rotor blade, which she had obviously gotten before the almost-crash, but Christian loves it.

“It’ll keep me company while we salvage Charlie Tango.”
“Is it salvageable?”
“I don’t know. I hope so. I’ll miss her, otherwise.”
Her? I am shocked at myself for the small pang of jealousy I feel for an inanimate object. 

My subconscious snorts with derisory laughter. I ignore her.

Me and her subconscious should get hammered together and bitch about Ana.


The next present is the one she was putting together when she found the sexy photos hidden in Christian's room and is a box full of stuff he owns, such as his iPod, his silver tie, a butt plug and nipple clamps. Ana wants back into the playroom but Christian is anxious and asks if she's sure. She is, as long as there's no "whips and stuff", so it's off to the playroom they go, for more banging.

Christian pauses before going into the playroom, to make sure Ana is certain that she wants to get freaky with him and asks if there's anything she doesn't want to do, despite the fact that she literally just said what she didn't want to do at the end of the last chapter. No whips and stuff, pay attention, geebag.

Before going inside, Ana asks Christian not to take any photos of her once they're in there. He looks at her weirdly and agrees not to, so they enter the room and he tells Ana to strip off. He then holds up the butt plug that Ana had placed in the gift box and explains that it's too big to start with, so he's going to use his little finger instead.

I gasp, shocked. Fingers...there?

WHERE DID YOU THINK THE BUTT PLUG WAS GOING, ANA? THE CLUE IS KINDA IN THE NAME THERE.

Christian then swaps the nipple clamps Ana had chosen for some less severe ones, because she didn't have a fucking clue what she was doing while putting together this gift of things he already owns. Ana asks how he wants her to behave and Christian is like "eh, however you want to".

"Were you expecting my alter ego, Anastasia?" he asks, his tone vaguely mocking and bemused at once. I blink at him.
"Well, yes. I like him," I murmur.

No you fucking don't! That was the whole reason you left at the end of the first fucking travesty of a book. WEREN'T YOU THERE?

He then gets her to kneel on a table, facing him and cuffs her arms together behind her back.

This man is going to be my husband. Can one lust after one's husband like this? I don't remember reading about that anywhere.

No Ana, people usually get married because they hate each other.


Ana is then blindfolded and Christian puts a vibrator inside her, which, she is astonished to discover, vibrates. Who knew. It's in her vagina, by the way, which isn't totally clear when you're reading it, because it's all "there", "down there", "not here, but here" so it's anyone's guess where Christian's fingers are at any given time. Australia, possibly. Then there's more riding, followed by her usual "I love him so much, he's all mine, etc etc" bollocks.

So many sides of Christian - his sweet, gentle persona and his rugged, I-can-do-what-I-fucking-well-like-to-you-and-you'll-come-like-a-train Dominant side - his fifty shades, all of him.

As I've typed out that excerpt, there's a big red "this is grammatically incorrect or misspelled" line under most of it and I'm like, TELL ME ABOUT IT, COMPUTER. Someone needs to confiscate the fucking hyphen button on EL's laptop. Also, how does one come like a train? Like, by shouting "CHOO CHOOO!" at the moment of climax? Overcharging for a return trip to Cork? Who the fuck knows.

I'm aware we don't know each other well, and we have a mountain of issues to overcome, but I know for each other, we will - and we'll have a lifetime to do it.

She's marrying this guy. That she doesn't know well. But he's hot, so yay, I guess.

Apparently, after all the sex, they "talked and talked and talked", but instead of letting us in on any potential character development, when we rejoin them Ana is taking the piss out of Kate with an impersonation that Christian is finding hilarious, because meaningful dialogue is for chumps.

"To think it could have been her who came to interview me. Thank the Lord for the common cold," he murmurs and kisses my nose. 

Yeah, because Kate probably wouldn't take your domineering bullshit and would tell you to take your misogynistic, controlling attitude and shove it up your hole. Thank god for a naive sap like Ana who can be manipulated and kept in a constant state of fear around you. PHEW.

They eventually get up and Christian has some work to do, so Ana gets busy making lunch, seeing as Christian is bewildered by something as basic as slicing peppers.

Christian is in his study on the phone. Taylor is with him, looking serious but casual in jeans and a tight, black t-shirt.

TAYLOR!


Taylor comes into the kitchen, where Ana is, and she asks if his daughter is ok.

"Yes, thanks. My ex-wife thought she had appendicitis, but she was overreacting as usual." Taylor rolls his eyes, surprising me.

NO TAYLOR! What the hell, dude? You don't slag off your ex for being TOO concerned about your daughter's goddamn health! Why'd you have to do me like this, Taylor? WHY?

Anyway, he calls Ana "ma'am" at the end of their conversation.

I flush...will I ever get used to Taylor calling me ma'am? It makes me feel so old, at least thirty.

At least thirty.

AT. LEAST. THIRTY.


Ana checks her phone, and there's a text from Kate, saying she's looking forward to seeing her that evening and catching up properly. Ana replies "Same here" and thinks about how good it will be to talk to Kate. After sending a two-word text message to her friend that she hasn't seen properly in about a year (I swear that's what it feels like at this stage), Ana then proceeds to EMAIL CHRISTIAN WHO IS IN THE NEXT ROOM. GODFUCKINGDAMMIT. What's almost worse is that he actually replies and it's making me wish that the Doctor would materialise, tie the two of them together, fly to a black hole in outer space and kick the pair of them out the door of the TARDIS. Then come and get me for some sexy adventures in space and time and really, that's a whole other fanfic right there.

Ana goes to the study where Christian is working, to let him know that lunch is ready. He says he has one more call to make and then notices the dress she's wearing, which was in the wardrobe full of clothes that he had a personal shopper choose for her.

“That dress is very short,” he adds.
“You like it?” I give him a quick twirl. It’s one of Caroline Acton’s purchases. A soft turquoise sundress, probably more suitable for the beach, but it’s such a lovely day on so many levels. He frowns and my face falls.
“You look fantastic in it, Ana. I just don’t want anyone else to see you like that.”


GET. TO. FUCK. RED FLAG RED FLAG RED FLAG.

Moments later, Christian emerges from the study with the phone, with Ray on the line, because he went ahead and called him anyway to ask his permission to marry Ana, just like she explicitly asked him not to do earlier. Remember? "Let's talk about it later" clearly means "go ahead and do whatever you want when it comes to my life and family." DICK.

Ana is understandably pissed off with Christian, but takes the phone and talks to Ray, who's wondering what the hell is going on, considering it's been a matter of weeks since they got together. Ana explains that Christian, the man who ignores her wishes and doesn't want anyone to see her looking nice in a dress, is her "happily ever after" and Ray just says he hopes she knows what she's doing and agrees to give her away at the wedding. Christian takes the phone back and then comes into the kitchen after a few minutes, proudly declaring that he has Ray's "rather begrudging" blessing.

Ray could learn a thing or two from Mel Horowitz.

Despite Ana being quite rightly pissed off with Christian, he's delighted, because he got what he wanted, and remember kids, how Ana feels about it doesn't actually matter.

He’s acting like he’s just negotiated a major new merger or acquisition, which I suppose on one level, he has.

OH GOOD, NOW YOU'RE THINKING OF YOURSELF AS ONE OF HIS POSSESSIONS TOO. EXCELLENT. FEMINISM IS FOR LOSERS, ANYWAY. TIME FOR THAT "PROPERTY OF CHRISTIAN GREY" TATTOO.

While they're eating lunch, Christian asks Ana why she said not to take photos of her in the playroom, so she confesses that she found his pictures of former subs. It turns out that they're usually in a safe and Leila must have moved them. Yeah, I don't know why either, or why she'd go to the trouble of hiding them. Also, apparently they're Christan's "insurance policy" against exposure, despite the fact that trust between parties is equally as - if not more important than - getting off in BDSM relationships. It would be much less creepy if he just took the photos to wank over. Also, Leila could open the safe because Christian has the combination written down, the fucking genius.

“I wonder what else she knows and if she’s taken anything else out of there.”

OH HAI FREDDIE FORESHADOWING.

Ana then decides to call her mother and make a birthday cake for her new owner.

“A cake?”
I nod.
“A chocolate cake?”
“You want a chocolate cake?” His grin is infectious.


Like crabs.

Ana then rings her mother to tell her about the engagement, and her first response is to ask if Ana is knocked up. Because, duh.

“No, no, no, nothing like that.” Disappointment slices through my heart, and I’m saddened that she would think that of me.

THAT SHE WOULD THINK THAT OF ME. WOW. I think EL James might be Katie Hopkins in disguise. Christ. Imagine. Ana's mother then gets upset on the phone when she wishes that Ana's father was still alive to see her getting married and Ana's all "the familiar tale is retold...again" and "She’s wistful and maudlin again" because she's just AWFUL. It's totally understandable for her mother to wish Ana's dad was around for such a milestone and it wouldn't kill Ana to not be such a little bitch about it.

I shake my head thinking about my mythical father.

OHMYGAD WAS HE A UNICORN?

Anyway, after the phonecall, Ana gets busy making the birthday cake but has to run out to the shop for some chocolate to finish it off. On her way out, Christian asks if she's going to "put on some jeans or something", otherwise the whole world will be able to see her whore legs and this will devalue her as one of his investments. Ana rolls her eyes and leaves, although the line "I make it to the elevator before he catches up with me" is pretty unnerving. While she's out, Ana decides that the dress actually is a bit too short and immediately regrets making him angry.

But I feel strongly that I should wear what I like.

THE FACT THAT THIS IS EVEN AN ISSUE IS A PRETTY GOOD INDICATOR TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF THIS RELATIONSHIP.

When she gets back to the apartment, Ana apologises to Christian for wearing a dress that he bought for her.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”

I believe it's called NOT BEING A FUCKING DOORMAT.

Christian apologises for being a cunt and tells her to wear what she likes (WOW THANKS) and they fuck in the study, because of course they do. All their problems are solved by banging. Or at least, ignored in favour of banging. Oh, and while she was at the ATM, Ana discovered that Christian has put $50,000 in her bank account without telling her and her only reaction is "And so it begins."

They eat the stupid fucking cake and then head to Christian's parents house for his birthday party. However, Kate is there before them and furious. She corners Ana and Christian alone in the dining room and waves a piece of paper at them, demanding to know what the fuck it is. Ana takes it from her and it's a printout of her email response to Christian, discussing the sex contract from the first book. No, I don't know why Christian printed out her email either. Who the fuck prints out emails?

EL James, probably.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting

I've talked before about how much I love Street Fighter II and beat 'em up games in general, and when I was a young wan playing my cousin's SNES, I'd always play as the girl character. Mortal Kombat? I'm Kitana or Mileena (Sonya just seemed kinda boring in comparison). Killer Instinct? I'm Orchid. Street Fighter? I'm obviously Chun Li.


She's a character I've wanted to dress up as for a long time, but it always just sort of seemed like it would be a bit too hard. I mean, the dress! The spiky bracelets! All that kicking! However, after taking a look on Adverts.ie, I found a short blue cheongsam being sold not too far from where I live, and by a weird stroke of luck, it turned out that I knew the seller, who very generously offered to give it to me, so I swapped with her for a bottle of wine. It needed a little bit of altering, but thankfully my mam is handy with a sewing machine, which was just as well as I can hardly sew a button without stabbing my finger with a needle.

The spiky bracelets needed to be huge and cartoony. I didn't want to use the small studded leather type ones that I wore back when I was a nineteen year old metaller in a homemade Slayer t-shirt, so I was going to have to make them. Which I did! Out of foam, duct tape and party hats, of all things.


I'm not going to lie, I was pretty excited with how they turned out.


The pigtail covers were white circles of fabric with a bit of elastic to keep them over my hair and I stuck some gold star stickers to the ribbons, which isn't strictly canon but I figured if anyone deserves some gold stars, it's Chun Li. Plus they matched the gold thread in the dress, so why the hell not.


I wanted orangey-red coloured tights for the old school Chun Li look and found a pair that were just the right colour. Unfortunately they were from American Apparel, a shop I dislike quite a bit because their ad campaigns look like they've been shot by a sex offender. However, there was 20% off on the day I went in, so that was some consolation. The runners were from New Look and reduced to €6, in fact they were the only pair left and just happened to be in my size. I have to say, this costume mostly came together through blind luck and duct tape.

Anyway! Off we went to Rocky Horror in the Sugar Club for their Halloween show, we had a blast, there was a lot of pretend fighting and I managed not to fall over, which is most unlike me. Speaking of pretend fighting, here I am squaring up to my friend Fi, aka Harley Quinn on the night.


If that was a real video game I'd totally play it.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Quelque Chose #27

It's Halloweeeeeeeen! I love this time of year, although this unseasonal heat can feck right off as far as I'm concerned. October is for boots and scarves and jumpers and crunchy leaves, not sweating your make-up off by the time you've walked into work. Boo and indeed, hiss.

Anyway, look at this great Halloweeny photo of tiny old witches sitting down for tea!


Except of course they're not witches, they're elderly ladies in a home for impoverished women in Norfolk in the 1920s. The refuge was set up in the early 1600s and the "sisters" who lived there dressed in traditional black hats and gowns when they went to church on Sundays. They look like witches because the typical pop culture idea of what a witch looks like was based on how old women that lived in the countryside used to dress.

It's still a pretty great photo though.

Have a super Halloween everybody, whether you're going out in fancy dress and covered in fake blood, or getting drunk on the couch and watching Hocus Pocus. Either one sounds like lots of fun.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 12)

When we last left our insipid heroine, her manipulative and deeply unpleasant boyfriend had just been reported missing, but apparently this is a bad thing and not cause to celebrate. And so, with our fingers crossed that he died in the middle of an angry strangle-wank, onwards we go to Volume 12.

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


The next chapter opens with Ana staring at the fireplace in Christian's apartment, while pretty much every other character in the book is milling around quietly in the background, being worried and watching the news coverage, which includes rolling headlines declaring CHRISTIAN GREY MISSING. But all these other people, such as Christian's parents and siblings, are a mere backdrop to Ana's pain and inner turmoil. Ana is replaying conversations with Christian in her head, things like "Carpe diem, Ana", “You’re my lifeline” and other things he's said between bouts of being furious with her.

It's all very serious, you guys. Because Christian has been missing...

FOR EIGHT HOURS.

EIGHT FUCKING HOURS. THAT DOESN'T COUNT AS MISSING. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE. LITERALLY NO TIME HAS PASSED SINCE THE LAST CHAPTER ENDED. I FEEL LIKE I'M TAKING CRAZY PILLS.

It's one of the dumbest fucking things to happen so far and this is Fifty Shades we're talking about here. It's wall-to-wall dumb shit, but this one takes the fucking cake. And then licks it so no one else can have any.

At one point Mia, the girl whose brother is missing ("missing") comes to sit beside Ana and comfort her, some bird he's known for all of five weeks. I can't help but feel that that should be the other way around. But anyway.

“He will come back,” she says, her voice initially determined but cracking on the last word. Her eyes are wide and red-rimmed, her face pale and pinched from lack of sleep.

Lack of sleep. It's around half eleven on a Friday night at this point. SHE WOULDN'T HAVE EVEN GONE TO BED YET SO HOW IS SHE PINCHED FROM LACK OF FUCKING SLEEP THAT SHE WOULDN'T HAVE HAD IN THE FIRST PLACE? RIDDLE ME THAT, EL FUCKFACE JAMES.


Seriously, if that editor hasn't been tied up or kidnapped or chloroformed, then they have a lot of explaining to do. Like, A LOT.

Ana continues to wring her hands over Christian being gone for what is an average work day, thinking about how super brilliant he is.

He is so many people: control freak, CEO, stalker, sex god, Dom - and at the same time - such a boy with his toys. I smile. His car, his boat, his plane...Charlie Tango... no... no...

I feel like someone needs to take her aside and explain that "stalker" and "control freak" are not actually good character traits in a boyfriend, particularly when the "control freak" aspect tends to be concerned with her job, what she wears, who she socialises with and her menstrual cycle. Also, I quite like how Ana's strained "Charlie Tango...no" sounds as though she's more upset over the helicopter than anything else.


Anyway, Christian eventually turns up, because of course he's not dead, such is our luck. His family all start crying, everyone is delighted to see him and Christian is completely bewildered. Join the club, dude. But not so bewildered that he doesn't find something to get mad at Ana for. Of course.

He looks up and scans the room until his eyes lock with mine. He blinks and glances briefly at José, who lets go of my hand. Christian’s mouth tightens.

How DARE she hold the hand of her male friend while thinking her horrible boyfriend might be dead? She's probably pregnant with José's Latino baby by now.

But never mind all THAT!

He spies Taylor hovering at the entrance and nods. Taylor nods back.
“Your daughter?”
“She’s fine now. False alarm, sir.”
“Good.” Christian smiles.
Daughter? What happened to Taylor’s daughter?


WHAT THE HELL YOU GUYS? What HAPPENED? I can't believe we were stuck with Ana moping around, staring at a fire and putting us through her and Christian's dumbass conversations while there was actual excitement involving Taylor going on elsewhere! GODDAMMIT!

Anyway, Christian explains that he was flying back from Vancouver in the helicopter with his assistant, Ros (who?), they took a detour to see Mount St. Helens, when a fire broke out in the tail of the helicopter. He had to make an emergency landing and managed to put the fire out.

“How did you put out the fire?” asks Kate, her Carla Bernstein instincts kicking in. Jeez, she sounds terse sometimes.

And you sound like a fucking insufferable idiot ALL THE TIME. Also, there's no famous person called Carla Bernstein. When you Google the name, the first result is for the investigative reporter Carl Bernstein, who was instrumental in breaking the Watergate scandal and wrote All The President's Men. Other than that, there's a health worker in Queensland, Australia called Carla Bernstein, but I don't think that's who EL James meant. So. Yeah. If only there were some female reporters that she could have used as a reference instead. It might have actually made sense then.

"How did you put out the fire?” asks Kate, her April O'Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instincts kicking in."

There. Fixed it for you.

Christian continues, and tells them that they couldn't radio for help because the electronics on Charlie Tango were out, there was no coverage for them to call anyone on either of their mobiles, so they ended up making their way to the nearest road.

"It took us four hours to walk there. Ros was in heels.” Christian’s mouth presses into a disapproving flat line.

Oh, so he's a judgemental dick to women he isn't actually banging, too. That's interesting.


Once they got as far as the road, a truck driver then picked them up and gave them a lift as far as Seattle, but apparently he didn't have a phone (because long-haul drivers don't need to communicate with anyone, ever! This is definitely real life) so they still couldn't call anyone to explain why they hadn't arrived when their flight plan said they would. Oh, and they couldn't stop to make a call at any point because Christian was so anxious to be back. Because José was staying over. And clearly Ana can't be trusted not to immediately have sex with the first penis waved in front of her when Christian isn't around.

Everyone goes home and José goes to bed, because being left in a room with Christian and Ana eye-fucking each other and CONSTANTLY MUMBLING legally counts as torture under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Christian takes the gift box that Ana gave him earlier that week out of his jacket pocket and Ana tells him he can open it, because it's after midnight and technically his birthday. Inside is a crappy souvenir LED keyring, but it's flashing the word YES on one side. Yaaay, she's going to marry him. It's such a good idea.

He inhales sharply and moves suddenly, grabbing me and swinging me round in a most un-Fiftylike manner. He’s laughing, young and carefree, radiating joyful elation.

Him being happy is "most un-Fiftylike" and out of character for him. Why wouldn't you want to marry someone who's absolutely zero fucking craic to be around 90% of the time?

So Christian is all delighted and then realises that she had obviously made up her mind a few days previously, before going to see Dr. Flynn, during which time he had been hassling her for an answer, so she was deliberately leaving him hanging.

“I believe some retribution is in order, Miss Steele,” he says softly.
Retribution? Oh shit! I know he’s playing - but I take a cautious step back from him anyway.


Ah yes. Love is...taking a cautious step back from your partner because you're not 100% certain that he won't fly off the handle and beat the shit out of you. AWESOME.

Christian picks Ana up, throws her over his shoulder and brings her into the bathroom. He pauses to take his phone, wallet and keys out of his pockets and turns the shower on so they both get soaked with cold water and it all sounds highly unpleasant, if you ask me. And I guess it's just as well Ana didn't have anything in her pockets that would get damaged by water, but even if she did, her possessions and feelings don't actually matter, as long as Christian is happy.

They undress each other and Ana grabs the body wash, which has been an ever-present smell throughout this book.

He smells of fresh laundry, body wash, and Christian - the most calming and arousing scent on the planet.

He smells of linen, fabric softener, body wash, and my favorite smell - Christian.

He smells outdoorsy, slightly sweaty, of body wash, and Christian, the most welcome scent in the world.

Those are genuinely three separate lines from this book. Christian constantly smells like body wash and Christian. Even after a helicopter crash landing, putting out a fire, walking through backwoods for four hours and being in a truck for six hours. It's pretty pungent stuff.


Anyway, they bang in the shower and because it's Saturday, Ana's contraceptive injection has kicked in so we're spared the "telltale rip of the foil packet", THANK FUCK.

The next morning, Ana wakes up before Christian, and decides to make breakfast for him, as it's his birthday. She goes out into the kitchen, to find José eating cereal.

I can’t help but flush when I see him. He knows I’ve spent the night with Christian. Why do I suddenly feel so shy? It’s not as if I’m naked or anything. I’m wearing my silk floor-length wrap.

UGH. SHUT THE FUCK UP.

“Morning, José,” I smile, brazening it out. (What the fuck is there to "brazen out" exactly? He's not your mother, you're a grown ass woman. Technically.)
“Hey, Ana!” His face lights up, genuinely pleased to see me. There’s no hint of teasing or salacious contempt in his expression.

BECAUSE HE'S AN ADULT AND EVERYONE ISN'T AS FASCINATED BY YOUR SEX LIFE AS YOU SEEM TO THINK, YOU GOWL.

José observes that Ana is really into Christian and when she tells him that she's in love, he jokes "What's not to love?" while gesturing around the enormous apartment.

Hmm... will I always have this leveled at me? That I’m marrying Christian for his money?

Yes.

Also, yet another annoying thing about Ana is the amount of times she says "Hmm..." It comes off as such lazy, filler-type writing. The word "Hmm" appears 55 times in this book. FIFTY FIVE. FIFTY FIVE FUCKING SHADES OF HMMM. It's like EL James has a bag of word magnets, fires a handful at the fridge door and writes down the results. The repetition in this series might actually be impressive if it didn't make me want to fling every copy of this book into the sea.

Ana changes the subject and offers to make an omlette for José, "I don’t want to argue" she thinks, despite the fact that no one is arguing, you clown. Christian appears in the kitchen, wearing only pyjama bottoms "that hang in that totally hot way off his hips - Jeez!" EVERYONE FINISH YOUR DRINK.

He proceeds to shift the face off Ana, to make things as uncomfortable as possible and manages to stop short of peeing on her and growling at José. He chills out when José mentions a fishing trip he's going on with his dad and the pair of them chat about that for a while.

Aaand we're going to leave it there for this week, because I'm out of booze. And patience.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fifty Shades Of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 11)

Alright, let's take care of some bidness.

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


Christian and Ana arrive at Dr. Flynn's office, and I immediately want to push Ana down a flight of stairs when they meet the receptionist.

"She greets Christian warmly, a little too warmly for my taste - jeez, she's old enough to be his mother - and he knows her name."

OF COURSE HE KNOWS HER FUCKING NAME, HE'S BEEN COMING HERE FOR AGES. Also, just in case we'd forgotten, every other female character in this book is a rampaging whore, according to Ana. They go into the office and great care is taken to tell us exactly what the room looks like and what Ana thought it would look like and where Christian sits and how exactly all of his limbs are arranged and that he and Ana are at right angles to each other and it's all just so goddamn unnecessary. It's like the dancefloor exits from the fundraiser party all over again.

Dr. Flynn asks Christian what he'd like to discuss, Christian "shrugs like a surly teen" (so sexy) and says that Ana was the one who wanted to see him. It's all really awkward, which should come as no surprise to anyone who isn't an idiot, considering that Ana has known Christian for all of five weeks and now they're in therapy together. Dr. Flynn asks Ana if she'd be more comfortable if Christian left them alone for a bit. She says yes, so Christian gets into a huff and "stalks out of the room", because of course he fucking does.

Oh, hey Christian.
Dr. Flynn then appears to forget how to talk to other humans who aren't qualified therapists, as he keeps tossing out terms like "Solution-Focused Brief Therapy", "haphephobia" (fear of being touched, apparently) and "parasomnia" (night terrors) while talking about Christian and the progress he's made. It just feels like EL James found a bunch of words in a psychology textbook and wanted to show them off but had no idea how. She'd have been better off just replacing Dr. Flynn and Ana's whole conversation with a recipe for a pasta bake or something. It would've been infinitely more entertaining and actually useful. All that happens, apart from EL James shoehorning in phrases like "Damascene conversion" is Flynn telling Ana to...eh...carry on as normal or something? Like, we don't actually learn anything new, it's just a completely unrealistic conversation that somehow manages to be incredibly boring. It also includes Flynn telling Ana how attractive she is and saying "there's no point in breast-beating about the past" and "we can all beat our breasts about it" within one page of dialogue. Just give me the fucking pasta bake instructions instead.

Afterwards, Ana gets a call from José and has to talk in monosyllables to him because Christian is standing there glaring at her the entire time she's on the phone.

"So are you allowed out tomorrow?"
"Of course I am." I hope. I automatically cross my fingers.

What an awesome relationship. If only I could buy some flammable clothes with quotes from this awesome relationship printed on them. From, say, Tesco.

Oh yeah. I can. (Tip o' the hat to Aoife and Catherine for that particular revelation.)

Ana and Christian then argue about who gets to drive and I start to wonder why Christian even bought Ana a car in the first place if he's never going to let her drive it. He also has the gall to say "I don't like to be driven" WHEN THAT IS LITERALLY WHAT TAYLOR IS EMPLOYED TO DO. THIS FUCKING GUY.

Ana eventually gets to drive and the arguing continues, to the point that she pulls over so they can get out of the car and argue at each other some more by the side of the road. Honestly, the next four pages consist almost entirely of these dickholes arguing. Then Christian drives and is being all mysterious about where he's taking Ana.

They eventually arrive at a big mansion on the coast and are greeted by a woman who, of course, Ana is in immediate competition with.

Her isn't-he-dreamily-gorgeous-wish-he-was-mine flush does not go unnoticed.

The lady turns out to be an estate agent and Ana manages to restrain herself from scratching this bitch's eyes out long enough for Christian to steer her out the back to the terrace. There's a super amazing view from there and then the sky is described for us in a manner that sounds like Ana working her way through a Dulux colour chart.

Vermillion hues bleed into the sky - opals, aquamarines, ceruleans - melding with the darker purples of the scant wispy clouds and the land beyond the Sound.

Christian then asks Ana how she'd like to live there "for the rest of her life" (so, probably until Christian murders her in a jealous rage for smiling at the postman) and says how he's always coveted these houses on the coast. Oh and that he intends to buy this one, knock it down and build a new one in its place.

"Why do you want to demolish it?" I ask, looking back at him. 
His face falls slightly. Oh no.
"I'd like to make a more sustainable home, using the latest ecological techniques."


Well that makes perfect fucking sense! Why there's nothing more environmentally friendly than pointlessly tearing down a perfectly good house and wasting a bunch of resources building a new one in it's place! After all, houses are usually constructed by the fucking fairies from Fern Gully and an architect just wishing really hard. Seriously though, how did this idiot ever become a bajillionaire?

Ana asks to look around the house, which has a music room, library, indoor pool, a games room and a cinema in the basement and Ana's conclusion is:

It's a little shabby now, but nothing that some TLC couldn't cure.

Shabby, like. Shabby. IT'S GOT A FUCKING CINEMA IN THE BASEMENT.

As they drive back into the city, Christian says he's going to buy the house and Ana asks if that means he'll sell the penthouse apartment in Escala and he's like "duh, no, I'm Daddy Bigbucks, idiot" because a husband keeping an apartment in the city always ends well.

They're going for dinner to celebrate Ana's completely ridiculous promotion and Christian takes her to some fancy members club called - groan - The Mile High Club. Hang on, I just have to chase my eyeballs across the floor as they appear to have rolled entirely out of my head. Before they sit down to dinner, Christian tells Ana to go and take her knickers off and they have a really annoying dinner where Ana is AMAZED when she's served sea bass ("I don't believe it" - wuh?) and Christian makes a point of not touching Ana in order to drive her sex-wild. It works, so Ana performs a blowjob on some asparagus to get back at him and on and on it goes until they finally finish dinner and Ana appears to have forgotten how to talk.

"I believe you have certain expectations, Miss Steele. Which I intend to fulfill to the best of my ability."
Whoa!
"The best...of your a...bil...ity?" I stutter.

A - That's not a stutter. B - Christian, your love doll robot appears to be malfunctioning.

The pair of them are so horny that Christian fingers Ana in the lift on the way down to the ground floor, despite the fact that the lift IS FULL OF PEOPLE.

Oh my. I gape at the people in front of us, staring at the backs of their heads. They have no idea what we're up to. 

No Ana, they're all just too fucking polite and uncomfortable to acknowledge you getting fingerbanged in the corner behind them. Unless that lift is utterly massive, they know what's happening.

As they walk through the lobby, Ana mentions that she's never had sex in a car.

Christian halts and places those same fingers under my chin, tipping my head back and glaring down at me.
“I’m very pleased to hear that. I have to say I’d be very surprised, not to say mad, if you had.” 
I flush, blinking up at him. Of course; I’ve only had sex with him. I frown.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“What did you mean?” His tone is unexpectedly harsh.
“Christian, it was just an expression.”
“The famous expression, ‘I’ve never had sex in a car.’ Yes, it just trips off the tongue.”

Jesus Christ, she was just thinking out loud you massive tool. He actually just looks for things to fly off the handle about. They get as far as the foyer of Christian's apartment before they end up boning on the table by the lift and Christian gives out to Ana for closing her eyes while they're fucking, because in case you hadn't noticed by now, HE'S THE WORST.

The next morning, Christian has left early for a meeting and while Ana is getting ready to leave for work, she thinks of another present for him, but we're not told what it actually is exactly, because, again, fake suspense for shit I don't care about. While looking through some drawers for one of Christian's ties, (because this has something to do with the present) Ana finds a black box full of photos of former subs in the playroom. While driving into work, she wonders whether she should tell Christian that she found the photos.

No, screams my subconscious, her Edvard Munch face on.

What she means here is that her subconscious is making a face like Munch's The Scream. It's a face that she makes quite a lot, because, like the whole Icarus thing, once EL James has found a metaphor she likes, she proceeds to use it and then reuse it and use it again a few times, until the arse has been well and truly torn out of it.

Either that, or Ana's subconscious actually just looks like Edvard Munch at this point. In any case, I'm sure he'd be super-jazzed to know that his most famous painting, borne of years of depression, family tragedy and anxiety has been used as shorthand for a fictional idiot's imaginary friend being worried.


Ana gets into the office and immediately begins sending stupid emails back and forth with Christian, until she admits that she's planning a surprise for his birthday, which he replies to with a terse "I hate it when you keep things from me." We can only assume that he stomped his foot when he pressed send, and then he doesn't reply to her for the rest of the day. Ana meets José and Ethan after work and Kate is finally back from her four year holiday in Barbados so she comes along too and meets them at the bar, complimenting Ana on the dress she's wearing. I'm betting that she's just glad Ana finally has some goddamn clothes of her own and maybe now she'll get her fucking plum dress back.

There's still been no reply from Christian, so something is definitely wrong because he can't go ten minutes without emailing her. Ana's suspicions are confirmed when Elliot calls and tells her that Christian and his helicopter have GONE MISSING. ERMAHGERD.

Hopefully he's dead.

 
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