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...



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.


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" 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.


“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.


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?


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 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.


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."
"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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 10)

Well, we're ten volumes in and it's frankly amazing that I haven't developed a drinking problem at this point. I think four more of these will see us through and out the other side so I get can back to sunshiney Sweet Valley and whatever else happens to catch my attention and/or ire.

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

So Ana is now trapped in the office kitchen with Jack, her very creepy boss who rambles on about how he had to fight for her to get her job and that he looked through her work email account but the only personal emails were from her to Christian and all of Christian's replies were deleted. So remember earlier when Christian kept giving out to Ana, telling her to use her Blackberry instead of emailing him through her work address, even though he kept fucking replying to it? He had one of his shady IT minions go into the server and delete all his emails to her, but left Ana's replies there, which makes NO SENSE AT ALL. But logic is a bonerkiller in these books, so never mind that.

Anyway, Jack accuses her of being a corporate spy and tries to blackmail her for sex. Then he weirdly calls her a "cock-blocking prick tease", which makes me wonder if he actually knows what cock-blocking means. He gets increasingly horrible and rapey, until Ana eventually knees him in the balls and runs away. Although not before snarling "Have a nice trip. And in the future, get your own damn coffee" at him. Which just seems foolish. I mean if you've just managed to stop a sex attacker, don't stand around being quippy, get the fuck out of there. Leave the snappy dialogue to Buffy.

Ana runs outside the office and collapses on the footpath outside, where Christian and Taylor have been waiting. However, instead of actually being concerned for Ana, Christian is furious because someone else tried to play with his toy. Taylor runs into the office building, presumably to bring the pain as only Taylor can, and Christian goes to follow him. Ana pleads with him not to leave her, and when she tells him that Jack has her personal emails to Christian, he calls up his guy to delete them and snarls "I am so mad at you right now" at his girlfriend who, moments ago, was ALMOST ASSAULTED.

He's so angry with her that "a frisson of fear" runs through Ana.

"This is Very Angry Christian. I've not seen him this mad before. He's barely holding on to his self-control."

Wowww and I'M barely holding on to my knickers. Is there ANYTHING sexier than a romantic hero whose anger terrifies his girlfriend? And when you read a line like "He narrows his eyes at me. He punches a number into his Blackberry" and you genuinely wouldn't be all that surprised if "a number into his Blackberry" was replaced by "Ana in the face", you KNOW you're onto a winner.

He then leaves her in the car and joins Taylor and eventually the two of them re-emerge with Jack holding a storage box in the universal sign for "just been sacked".

"Opening the driver's door, Christian slides smoothly into the seat, presumably because I am in the front, and Taylor gets in behind me."

Wise move, Grey. Couldn't have Taylor sitting beside Ana, seeing as his raw sexual magnetism would have Ana hopping onto his lap and riding him the whole way to Escala. Christian is cranky with Ana the entire way back, until he pounces on her in a sex-rage while they're in the lift. "I taste his relief, his longing, and his residual anger while his tongue possesses my mouth." Er, lovely.

"He said you kicked him in the balls." Christian's tone is lighter with a trace of admiration, and I think I'm forgiven.


However, all of ten seconds passes before the next argument, when Ana brings up her Friday hangout with José. Christian doesn't like it of course, but finally concedes that José can stay in his apartment for the night so he can "keep an eye on him", presumably while keeping a samurai sword pointed at José's chest at all times. Then Christian has to go do some work, so he leaves Ana to wander around the apartment, bored out of her mind, because she has none of her own stuff there and Christian's apartment is where fun comes to die.

She eventually finds the door of the playroom and discovers that it's open, so she goes in to have a look around.

"It's as I remember it. A womb-like room."

A womb like room in which he bangs women that look like his mother.

Ana is looking through a drawer full of butt plugs when Christian arrives in and suddenly she's scared of him again, because she feels like she's trespassing, oh and she also tosses out this little gem:

"You're always mad at me."

Now there's an indicator of a healthy relationship if ever I saw one. Anyway, Christian then says "Am I angry with you all the time? I wasn't this morning." Oh YEAH, there were those ten minutes earlier that day when he wasn't scowling or snarling or hissing at her. His mouth didn't even harden into a grim line, I mean how is that not enough for this broad? For real though, he's angry with her almost as often as I am, and THAT'S all the time.

So Ana continues her tour of the sex toy press, finding a set of anal beads, which Christian then explains to her.

Oh! I examine them with fascinated horror. All of these, inside me...there!

Now come on Ana, if you're going to start referring to your asshole as "there", when that's already what you call your vagina, things are going to get very confusing. Eventually, Ana comes across a spreader bar, decides she likes the idea of this one, so it's riding time. Christian carries her to the bedroom, while Ana's inner goddess "pole vaults from the bunker onto her chaise longue" (unfortunately she doesn't land on her head and break her fucking neck) and if you'll excuse me a moment, there's some rum over there that I need to be pounding right about now.

They eventually get to the bedroom after Christian compares his proclivity for whips 'n chains to alcoholism (i.e. A DISEASE. Go fuck yourself, EL James) and there's SO MUCH shite-talk and terrible flirty banter, it's just unbearable. To be honest, this book's greatest crime, apart from the awful, repetitive writing, the romanticising of an abusive relationship, the complete misunderstanding of BDSM relationships and the central characters that you'd happily set fire to, is that it's...




They eventually get to the bedroom and Christian sets about strapping Ana's ankles at either end of the bar.

Reaching down he grasps the bar and twists it so I flip on to my front. It takes me by surprise.

It takes her by surprise? I would expect so, seeing as he's probably broken both of her fucking ankles right there. Either that or this is proof that Ana has actually been a plank in a bra this whole time, seeing as human bodies don't just flip over like that. Certainly not the ones with spines, anyway.

Banging ensues, followed by sleep, followed by morning banging, during which Christian somehow manages to kiss Ana "chastely" while fingering her, defying all logic and the very definition of the word chaste. Right before all of this though, Ana makes note of Christian's "dazzling, all-American-drop-dead-male-model-perfect-teeth smile". Good lord. So many hyphens. So much terrible.

Ana finally gets to drive her new Saab to work, although Christian comes with her so he can point to the ignition and tell her that's where the key goes (he actually does this) and not let her listen to the radio because he wants her to concentrate. Even though she's been driving for years and he's not her dad. Christian has arranged for the two of them to meet his therapist, Dr. Flynn, that evening, because Ana wants to ask him a bunch of questions about Christian that completely contravene doctor-patient confidentiality.

Before all that though, Ana has to go to work and is immediately summoned to Elizabeth the HR lady's office, who wants Ana to fill in for Jack until they find a replacement. Ana, who has been working there FOR A WEEK AS AN ASSISTANT in her first job out of college and spends all her time sending idiotic emails to her jerk boyfriend is now acting commissioning editor. Elizabeth assures her that she'll be well able (my HOLE) and praises her "shrewd mind". Everyone in this book falls over themselves to tell Ana how clever she is, despite there being absolutely no evidence of that. Anywhere. There's cheese in my fridge that has more intelligence than Ana Steele.

She sits down in her new office and calls Christian, telling him the news and asks whether he had anything to do with it. He says he didn't, but Ana asks again as she's not entirely convinced.

He is silent for a moment, and then he says in a low menacing voice. “Do you doubt me? It angers me that you do.”

Boyfriend! Of! The Year! Why be reassuring and sound when you can be menacing and angry and generally act like a cuntbucket rage-monster! Also, fuck this guy right in his facehole. He tries to control literally every aspect of Ana's life, so it's not exactly beyond the realms of possibility that he's still pulling strings on her career, seeing as HE BOUGHT THE FUCKING COMPANY SHE WORKS FOR. I mean it's not as if her asking the question is coming out of nowhere, considering his past behaviour. The prick.

Ana apologises (ARGH. TEXTBOOK ABUSIVE BULLSHIT) and they murmur at each other for a while. No, really.

“Okay,” I murmur. “I’d better go. I have to move offices.”
“If you need me. I mean it,” he murmurs.

Murmurmurmurmur. They are constantly murmuring and muttering and whispering and JUST FUCKING ENUNCIATE ALREADY. It's amazing that anyone can hear a word they say.

It's actually out of control. Check this out:

Amount of times people "murmur": 100
Amount of times people "whisper": 100
Amount of times people "mutter": 100


Anyway, Ana's new job entails a lunchtime meeting, but she was supposed to meet Mia for lunch that day. Conveniently, Ethan turns up at the office right before Mia does, to see if Ana wanted to get lunch with him, because Ana is just so in demand and interesting as a person, so she pawns Mia off on him and everybody's happy because they're both hot and therefore immediately into each other.

When Ana gets back from her meeting, Christian has sent her flowers, kicking off some more emailing back and forth and OH YAY I was HOPING there'd be more sexy and hilarious and witty emails. That's JUST what this book needs. After work, Ana wonders what to get Christan for his birthday that weekend, sudden inspiration hits her and she runs into a nearby souvenir shop. Before going into Dr. Flynn's office, Ana hands Christian the wrapped present and tells him he can't open it until Saturday. I suppose EL James has to manufacture suspense somehow now that Leila has been taken care of. I for one can't wait to find out what it is.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 9)

While I've been doing these recaps/hatchet jobs, I've also been reading The Handmaid's Tale for the first time and it's been making me even less patient with this series, if that's possible. I know it's probably unfair to compare the two, but fuck that, we're not here for fair. The fact that both can be referred to as books doesn't sit right with me. You see, The Handmaid's Tale is an actual book and a compelling and beautifully written one at that. Fifty Shades of Grey is a badly rendered doodle of a cock on the back of a Tesco receipt. Although there's more intrigue and plot in a Tesco receipt, so maybe that's not fair either. To receipts, I mean. Every word in The Handmaid's Tale is so deliberate and filled with purpose and atmosphere, whereas Fifty Shades of Grey feels like it was written through the medium of EL James smashing her face off the keyboard. And it's one of the best selling series of all time. ALL FUCKING TIME.

And with that, onwards we go to Volume 9.

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

So Ana has arrived into her and Kate's apartment, only to find Leila standing there with a gun. SUPER TENSE MOMENT. And the first thing we're told is "My subconscious swoons into a dead faint, and I don’t think even smelling salts will bring her back." Because what we really want to know at this actually quite interesting turn of events is how Ana's stupid fucking imaginary friend is doing.

Ana proceeds to have a weird, strung-out conversation with Leila, who talks like a sad house-elf, caresses her gun and says things such as "Master is a dark man, but I love him." Ana wonders where Ethan is and hopes that Leila hasn't hurt him. Suddenly, Christian bursts into the room with Taylor behind him, which makes me wonder why he's wasting Taylor's goddamn time by employing him as a bodyguard if he's just going to burst into dangerous situations before him like that.

Taylor. Every day.

When she sees Christian, Leila freezes and he stares her down, then mouths something to her which causes her to drop to her knees in a submissive pose, the pose that Christian made Ana get into in the first book when he brought her to the playroom. It's CHILLING because it looks like Christian has brainwashed this woman. However, empathy isn't exactly Ana's strong suit.

Christian’s expression is raw, full of some unnamed emotion. It could be pity, fear, affection...or is it love? No, please, not love!

Christian tells Ana to go downstairs, like four times in a row but she doesn't want to leave him alone with Leila because she's worried that the unwashed, unwell, crazy woman with a gun IS GOING TO STEAL HER BOYFRIEND. FOR REAL.

Taylor ends up carrying Ana down the stairs to the ground floor where they meet Ethan, who has only just arrived. Once he's been filled in on the situation, he reacts like a normal person and asks if anyone has called the police, although Ana replies “No, it’s not like that” despite the fact that it's fucking exactly like that and the cops should have been called back when Leila first broke into Christian's place and tried to kill herself. But then that would resolve this whole dumbass subplot and would deprive us of all this needless dicking around.

Ana and Ethan go for a drink in the bar across the road where they just talk about Ana and her problems because she's the most important and interesting person in the whole world. Ana eventually gets back to Christian's apartment, to find Christian freaking out because he couldn't find her and she had left her bag in his car so he couldn't even track her whereabouts through her phone WHICH IS SOMETHING HE ACTUALLY SAYS. FUCK ALL THE WAY OFF CHRISTIAN.

Then Ana has another "I can't be what you need me to be" moment and tries to go so she can think things through and have a bit of space. Christian panics because he thinks she's leaving him altogether because these two fucknuts can't communicate AT ALL and in his desperation, Christian drops to his knees in the submissive pose from earlier and it's framed as this huge end-of-chapter cliffhanger.

Holy Fuck...Christian. The submissive.

It's actually so stupid that I just want Ana to laugh at him and kick him in the face. Instead, Ana stands there, appalled, thinking that it's "so wrong" and "so disturbing" that Christian is acting like a submissive, which is just a whole extra layer of gender stereotyping bullshit on this already crap-filled cake.

The thought of me dominating anyone is appalling. The thought of dominating Christian is nauseating.

This whole chapter is pretty much EL James saying a big judgmental and wildly misguided fuck you to people who partake in BDSM activities. Christian and Ana then have this long meandering conversation that goes nowhere and involves Ana prattling on about herself and it takes FUCKING AGES for anything new to happen, because at this stage we've been put through their "Don't leave me! - I won't leave, I love you, don't leave me!" conversations about a thousand goddamn times by now. Eventually the big reveal is Christian admitting that he likes to whip and fuck brown-haired girls like Ana "because you all look like the crack whore". Haaa! He's an actual motherfucker. I can't even begin to imagine how utterly insulting this must be to the BDSM community though. For real.

Ana's all "my poor damaged broken Fifty!" and then lashes out, calling him a sicko, there's some more repetitive "don't leave me! - I won't, don't leave me!" assholery before Christian reveals that Ana's magic vagina has cured him of his sadistic needs and ASKS HER TO MARRY HIM.

Ana wants time to think about it seeing as they've known each other FOR FIVE WEEKS and says she's tired and hungry and just wants to go to bed. Then there's this tiny sequence of events that don't actually mean anything but drove me fucking crazy reading it. Within half a page, Ana mentions that she's hungry, Christian says "you're hungry?", Ana replies that yes, she is. So having established that Ana is in fact hungry, Christian microwaves some macaroni and cheese for her and within that same half page, Ana suddenly comes out with “Christian, I’m really not hungry.”

JESUS TITTYFUCKING CHRIST. Apparently EL James can't keep her own godawful story straight within HALF A FUCKING PAGE. I HATE EVERYTHING.

While they're eating their microwaved pasta, Ana asks Christian what he did with Leila in the apartment when they were left alone and hey it was no big deal, just the most inappropriate thing you've ever heard in your life.

"We talked, and I gave her a bath.” His voice is hoarse, and he continues quickly when I make no response. “And I dressed her in some of your clothes. I hope you don’t mind."

First of all, those were probably Kate's clothes seeing as Ana doesn't appear to have any of her own and secondly, WHAT THE FUCK, DUDE? Both of these idiots are raging jealousy-monsters, but Christian thought it'd be totally fiiine to give the ex-girlfriend that both looks like and tried to kill his now-girlfriend some naked bath-time and dress her in Ana's clothes? NOT. COOL. Ana then runs off crying and falls to the bathroom floor, bawling her eyes out in super dramatic fashion.

Christian doesn't understand the concept of giving someone space, so he's over there like a shot, pulling Ana into his arms and finally carrying her to bed. Ana wakes up in the middle of the night and gets up for a drink. She's gone for all of five minutes when she suddenly hears a shout from the bedroom and runs back in to find Christian having a nightmare. Because she wasn't there. She literally can't get up for a drink in the night without him freaking the fuck out IN HIS SLEEP. JESUS. Get a grip Christian, you PAIN IN THE GEE.

Once Ana wakes him up from the nightmare, he gets all gropey, but suddenly the thought of her looking like his mother has put Ana off the idea of some midnight banging. So she asks Christian to stop, as she needs some time to process all the loopy shit that's gone down in the last 24 hours and because he respects Ana and her wishes SO MUCH, he stops. No, wait...

“Christian... Stop. I can’t do this,” I whisper urgently against his mouth, my hands pushing on his upper arms.
“What? What’s wrong?” he murmurs and starts kissing my neck, running the tip of his tongue lightly down my throat. Oh...
“No, please. I can’t do this, not now. I need some time, please.”
“Oh, Ana, don’t overthink this,” he whispers as he nips my earlobe.

Oh yeah, I forgot that he's TERRIBLE AND I HATE HIM. Then follows another dumb sex scene, where Christian says “You are going to unman me, Ana” and like, who the actual fuck talks like that? Seriously? And this is actually the second time he's said that in this book. I gave him a pass the first time around because there are only so many things I can make fun of in this hape o' shite but COME ON. However, Ana is finding it hard to come, because of the whole not being into having sex in the first place thing, not to mention almost being murdered and whatnot, but it's fine because CHRISTIAN TELLS HER TO COME AND SHE MAGICALLY DOES. BECAUSE THAT'S HOW VAGINAS WORK.

Also, within four pages Christian is described as being wrapped around Ana "like a vine", Ana clings to him "like a vine" and Christian is then wrapped around her "like ivy". Just. Stop. After the sexing, Christian says how serious he is about marrying Ana.

"We can get to know each other then."

Ana is late for work the next morning so Taylor drives her super fast across the city to get there and by now Taylor looks like Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad in my head for some reason. Just a stone-cold badass dude. Ana ends up being fifteen minutes late and when Jack snaps at her not to let it happen again and orders her to type out some letter for him she genuinely thinks to herself "Why’s he so mad? What’s his problem? What have I done?"

She then proceeds to send stupid fucking emails over and back to Christian for about half an hour and takes a personal call from José, who wants to deliver the giant portaits of Ana to Seattle because his show is closing and he wants to meet her for a drink and is also hoping for a place to crash. Ana then wonders how she's going to handle this with Christian, because if your boyfriend is going to give you "a truckload of grief" (HER ACTUAL WORDS) for meeting a friend and giving them a couch to sleep on then you should DEFINITELY marry him.

“Ana!” Jack pulls me abruptly out of my reverie. Is he still mad? “Where’s that letter?”
“Er - coming.” Shit. What is eating him?


Then Ethan calls her and wants to collect keys from her again although I don't know why she doesn't just lend him her keys altogether as it's not like she can go and spend a night at her apartment without Christian throwing himself off the top of Escala in ridiculous despair. So that's two personal calls, a friend dropping by the office, incessant emails to her boyfriend instead of working, all on top of her being late into the office and Ana just CAN'T UNDERSTAND why Jack is being short with her today. It's like we're meant to think that Jack is being unreasonable and punishing Ana for having a boyfriend, when the reality of the situation is that she's fucking terrible at her job.

Jack sends her out to get his lunch and because she's actually been kinda working, there are three unopened emails from Christian on her phone, the last one of which is essentially PLEASE ANSWER ME WHERE ARE YOU ARE YOU OK. She's at WORK you fucking MORON. I SWEAR TO GOD. Ana rings Christian so he won't file a missing persons report (Ha! As if he'd actually go to the cops!) and at the end of their conversation they do that "you hang YOU hang up" thing that everyone stopped doing once they got past the age of fourteen.

Ana then goes to Starbucks for her lunch, (which is a latte - altogether now... YOU MUST EAT ANA) and thinks about what a "good man" Christian is (HA!) and how he's "entitled to unconditional love" (the fuck he is), before she starts to wonder which clothes of hers Christian gave Leila to wear.

"I hope it wasn't the plum dress. I like that."


Suddenly Ana realises that her lunch hour has run over, so she rushes back to the office and when Jack is all snarly with her, she thinks about what a bastard he is. Worst. Employee. Ever. Then she gets a call from Mia, telling her that it's Christian's birthday that weekend and there's going to be a party at his parents' house. Then there's another round of MOTHERFUCKING EMAILS where Ana asks what he wants for his birthday and it immediately devolves into lame sex innuendo, coupled with Christian telling her to stop emailing him with her work address and to use her Blackberry. Even though he replies to that address every time. JUST FUCKING TEXT EACH OTHER YOU ASSHOLES.

Jack is leaving for New York that night and it's just him and Ana in the office that evening. Christian is collecting her at 6.30, but when Ana goes into the kitchen because she's suddenly realised she hasn't eaten all day (give me a fucking break), Jack follows her in, closes the door and decides to get creepy as all get-out.

"Now...are you going to be a good girl and listen very carefully to what I have to say?"

RUH ROH. How will the intrepid Ana get out of this one, seeing as she has all the intelligence of a toothbrush? Tune in next week!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 8)

Alright! With minimum preamble, let's DO THIS MOTHERFUCKER.

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

The promised spanking and banging ensues, after around three and a half pages of "witty" banter and meandering build-up, during which Christian refers to Ana's "delectable derriere" which makes him sound like the 13th Duke of Wybourne from The Fast Show and Ana gets all graphic up in our grills with "He kisses me...there."

I stand paralyzed like a complete zombie, my heart pounding, my blood pumping, not actually able to move a muscle.


And sometimes they can dance really well.
Christian tells her they won't be using a safe word, because "lovers don't need safe words" apparently, which is an incredibly stupid thing to say. Who the fuck else would you be using a safe word with? The bank manager? "Just fill out this form here." "Avocado! AVOCADO!" It's also pretty insulting to couples who do engage in BDSM as it implies that they don't love each other. Dick move, EL.

Before going to bed for the night, Ana asks Christian if Sawyer can just bring her as far as the door when he accompanies her to work the next day, which is what I assumed would be the case anyway and Christian grumpily agrees. Which makes me wonder what the original plan was, I mean did he expect Sawyer to sit at her desk beside her all day like a spare tool?

Ana gets into the office and of course there's an email from Christian, because it's been all of half an hour since they've spoken to each other. In it, he says "I hope you never leave, ever", which is apparently his way of asking Ana to move in with him. They've known each other for all of FIVE WEEKS even though it feels like around ten years. And since the start of this book only three goddamn days have passed, because time moves at a glacial pace in this universe.

Anyway, Ana says they can talk about it later and then Jack, her boss, interrupts the incessant emailing to inform her that he's going to New York later that week for a conference and he needs her to come with him. Ana's first thought is, of course, that Christian isn't going to like it, but she emails him to let him know and he immediately comes back with "If it's with the sleazeball you work with, then the answer is no, over my dead body." Even though she wasn't fucking asking for his permission in the first place.

Ana tells him to cop the fuck on and trust her and in the meantime she gets an email from Elena, asking again to meet her for lunch sometime. There are eighteen emails in this one chapter. EIGHTEEN. JESUS CHRIST. Suddenly Jack comes barging out of his office, telling Ana not to book any flights because orders have come from "up top" right that second that all company spending has to be pre-approved by senior management. Ana immediately knows it's Christian wading in to stop the New York trip, because he's a controlling fucknugget. They argue about it over more annoying emails (all through her work email, by the way, because she's a fucking dope), during which Ana tells him about Elena's message and then Jack tells Ana she has to work late.

When everyone else has gone home, Jack comes over to Ana's desk and proceeds to be super fucking creepy.

He tucks a strand of hair that's come loose from my hair tie behind my ear and gently caresses the lobe.

He eventually backs off when Ana tells him that her boyfriend is Christian Grey, because he's one of those cunts who will only leave a woman alone if he thinks that she "belongs" to another dude. Christian picks Ana up from the office and all his interfering assholery from earlier is forgotten because he's SO SEXY and they end up banging in the lift on the way back up to the apartment and I can't help thinking that they must both be dying from friction burns at this stage.

Over dinner, Ana tells Christian that he was right about Jack but assured him that he backed right off once he knew that her boyfriend was THE Christian Grey. She then points out that Christian has to let her fight her own battles and stop interfering with her job and says that if he can do that she'll move in with him. Because that definitely won't put his controlling tendencies into overdrive.

Next thing, Taylor arrives (yay Taylor!) to tell Christian that Elena is on her way up and announces her before she comes into the room because this is Downton Fucking Abbey, apparently. Elena is surprised to see Ana there and apologises for barging in. It turns out she's being blackmailed, but they only talk about that for a few lines and when Ana leaves the room, they then spend a page and a half talking about how great and strong Ana is. People keep saying how strong and bright and funny Ana is throughout the book, despite there being little to no evidence of any of those things. JUST BECAUSE YOU KEEP TELLING US SOMETHING DOESN'T MAKE  IT TRUE, EL JAMES.

After Elena leaves, Christian and Ana argue about her, with him shouting at Ana to let it go, but can you IMAGINE what he'd be like if Ana had an ex that she was friends with who turned up unannounced at her house? He'd go into full-on gamma rage murder-frenzy for fuck's sake.

Ana goes to bed and then wakes up at two in the morning but Christian isn't there. She wanders out to find him playing the piano, which is almost exactly the same as a scene we were already put through in the first book, but this series is nothing if not repetitive.

"Why do we fight?" he whispers, as his teeth graze my earlobe.

Because you're an emotionally stunted fuckwit who tries to control his girlfriend's every move, ignores her wishes, constantly manipulates her and flies into a rage on the rare occasion that she shows a bit of backbone? Maybe? No?

They end up banging on the piano and it's essentially the scene from Pretty Woman with some oral sex thrown in, culminating in the two of them boning on the lid. Which is a great way to wreck a piano's tuning.

He hovers over me and I'm panting, gazing up at him with raging need, and I realize he's naked. When did he take off his clothes?

The next morning, Ana asks Christian if he has any happy memories of his childhood. Behold his answer:

"I recall the crack whore baking. I remember the smell."

The smell of baking or the smell of the crack whore? What do crack whores even smell like? Apart from crack?

As they're both being driven to work by Taylor, Christian gets a call from Elena and it appears that the blackmail threat was from her sub as part of a sex game, so that whole drama of her calling over to the apartment and Christian and Ana arguing over it and then angry-fucking WAS COMPLETELY POINTLESS. THANKS FOR WASTING OUR TIME, EL JAMES.

Ana gets cranky when she realises that it's Elena calling Christian again, but he brings her around by sucking and biting her little finger. Anyone else would probably ask him what the fuck he's doing, but this is Ana.

Whoa! He has a hotline to my groin, I gasp and glance nervously at Taylor and Sawyer, then at Christian, and his eyes are darker.

Ana gets to work and has a really dumb conversation with Claire the receptionist, who is black so Ana is totally cool with her talking about how hot Christian is (because she's super-cool to minorities, remember).

Your boyfriend is so dreamy, Ana," she says, her eyes glazing over.
I am tempted to roll my eyes at her.
"He's not bad looking," I smile and we both start laughing.

Whereas any time a white girl has so much as looked at him, Ana's inner monologue has been filled with "stop looking at MY BOYFRIEND, you WHORE!" type thoughts.

Jack is all snappy with Ana, because he knows there's something going on at the senior levels of the company, but doesn't know the details. (You see, Christian's sociopathic purchase of SIP has been embargoed - wooo boring corporate intrigue.) He asks Ana to keep an ear to the ground, but says it in the most dickish way possible: "I know how you girls talk," as if he's Don Draper and the women in the office are the fucking typing pool.

Ana and Christian exchange more stupid emails, with hilarious and sexy subject lines like "Wet Hardware" because they still haven't grasped the idea of texting. Later on in the day, Ana gets a call from Kate's brother Ethan, who has come back from the seemingly endless Barbados holiday that Kate is on and says he'll drop into the office to borrow Ana's keys to her and Kate's place. Claire calls Ana when he's there at reception, saying "You sure know some hunky guys" even though no one actually talks like that. Ana gives the keys to Ethan and they arrange to meet for dinner with Christian that evening after work.

Christian meets Ana outside the office at six and hey! "He's wearing his gray pants, my favourite ones that hang from his hips - in that way." Welcome back, hanging hip pants! We've all missed you terribly.

When they pull up outside Ana and Kate's apartment, Christian has to take a call so Ana runs up to get Ethan, who has left the door open for her. Except he hasn't, because when Ana gets inside, Leila is waiting for her in the kitchen with a gun. Finally! Where the hell have you been, Leila!

I'm 100% rooting for the unhinged would-be assassin at this stage.