Monday, December 7, 2015

The Complainist Sings!

So, there are a few reasons my posts have been so sporadic. I used to work less than I do. And I used to not be so burnt out on this book. So here's to a more productive 2016, somehow.

But one other little reason is the time spent working on these ditties. Please. Enjoy.

We're really not that sweary of a band, but when an album [Editor's note: we'd be very generous if we called this an EP. It's certainly not an album.] has "Fuck you!" right in the title, I suppose I don't need to tell you that this isn't safe for work. The other songs are not likely to, I dunno, get you an extra holiday bonus or whatever if you play them at work, but they are decidedly lower in swears.

Anyway. Now you know.

And hey. Merry Christmas or whatever.

Monday, November 30, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 12

So lots of writers--most obviously on tv--will have a couple of stories going so that they can build tension in one by switching over to the other. Pretty effective! EL tries to do a similar thing sometimes only she doesn't have two plots. Barely one. So instead what she does is just have the characters go do some pointless shit for a while in a section that really feels like fanfic inside fanfic because after a bunch of moping around, Ana and CG are going to fly out to Aspen for an unrelated adventure.


But first! Remember that cliffhanger from the previous chapter? Where we learned that Jack Hyde and CG were both born in Detroit? And thus Maybe Jack Hyde is CG's dad? Or long-lost brother? Or just the guy who murdered CG's mom? Srsly. That's a thing now. EL has put a loaded gun onstage and it's going to go off before this book ends. Plus there's also the literal loaded gun. So there's going to be an intersection of the literal loaded gun and the metaphorical loaded gun and that is how this terrible book is going to end. The death of Jack Hyde will prove, once and for all, that Ana and CG are great for each other. Does this make any sense to you? No? Weird. I don't know why. It makes total sense to me. I know lots of couples who've been brought together by one of them shooting a third person. Really tends to help people through tough times.

But wait. Where were we?

Friday, November 13, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 11

Ana and Christian kinda start having sex but more end up not because they're still in the middle of  a fight.

Good news, everyone! I bought every James Bond movie on itunes the other night so expect me to finally get back to that, about a year after I started it. Timely! Right? Yes v.

I'm sorry about the increasingly erratic publishing schedule. But hey. Better than nothing, right? Right? Kinda? A little bit, at least, huh? Sure. I'm just kind of determined to finish this, beyond any sense of logic. I should've quit a long time ago, but here I am!

It looks like this chapter is going to contain a few more nonsense revelations about CG's mysterious spooooooky past! So that's super exciting and all. Right? Yes. Also: there's some sex in this chapter. And a lot of just super boring food stuff and a lot of Ana being unable to follow the plot. Good times!

But wait. Where were we?

Friday, October 30, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 10

tldnr: Christian is mad at Ana for making her own decisions like an adult. 

Look this is the worst chapter in the whole thing. One could so, so easily skip it entirely and just go on to 11. 10 could just be a little parenthetical note: (Christian haz a mad.) And then that's it! No reason to go into details, really. In fact, the more detail, the worst. My draft of this chapter is better than EL's and mine takes way way less time to read so that's something.

Let's keep this brief, shall we?

But wait. Where were we?

Friday, October 23, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 9 part 2

We started this like, when? Ten years ago or something, right? Maybe longer? Seems like it. It literally seems like it. And it would be nice to say that we were closing in on the home stretch but we're not. We're so not. I'm getting slower. Each day that passes sees the average speed of this process decrease. Sadly, the limit of this equation is 0. Did I say that right? I think so.

It's like a blockbuster fantasy series where they split the last book into two movies. And then they see that last movie and they're like "ugh too long!" and split that in half. And keep doing that over and over and anyway here we are still on Chapter 9.

Have I been busy with other things? No. Yes. No. Mostly no but I've been procrastinating by working on music instead of writing which is a lot like when Michael Jordan was a baseball player only like an alternate version of that where instead of going from a thing where I'm an all-time great to a thing where I'm not that good at all, it's more like going from a thing where I'm just ok to a thing where I'm not that good at all. But hey maybe I'll post some here when some is post-able.

I had to remind myself what was going on in our story, because there wasn't much going on and that makes it harder to remember. But the good thing is that it doesn't really matter. This is one of those books you can pick up and start reading from any random page and then put it down again because it's terrible and what's the point and why don't you read a good book instead? That's my advice anyway.

Anyway. I don't know what's happening. Our heroes are still caught in a bad romance and Ana's ex boss is still trying to murder Christian and Christian is still legit spying on one of his ex gfs and Ana, in turn, is jealous that he might still like his ex.

Think about that right?

  • CG is getting updates on Leila from her therapist, which is totes illegal
  • He's probably paying her tuition just so he can keep track of her better
  • He has her gun in his office, stolen from a crime scene.
Look: if I'm Ana, I'm less worried that my husband likes his ex better than he likes me, and more worried that my husband is plotting his ex's murder because CG looks like a full-on murderer. I mean he's so murdery! Everything he does pretty much always is so murdery!

Wow. This book might actually end with Ana's former boss getting shot by CG and probably we'll be expected to applaud that or whatever. I mean we've been told all this shit about how Ana is a gun expert which is fitting because she's so competent and outdoorsy and stuff. But this is mostly a book about Ana doing absolutely nothing, so my bet is that CG is the shooter, and Jack Hyde is the die-er. I know this is pretty obvious but I just put it together now because I've been paying almost no attention to this book this year. 

Anyway let's see if I'm right! And if I'm wrong, I'll go back later and edit this shit so that future generations will be tricked into thinking I was right all along. 

Wait so where were we?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 9 part 1

So obvs I took a sabbatical. Mainly because I felt like I'd run out of ways to keep this interesting for myself and, by extension, for you, I expect. But I am a completist, and I received a handful of generous notes of support and for all I know there are only like 5 people reading this and the rest of my hits are all Russian spambots but still--still think that beats trying to win short story contests or whatever because hey. Five people is five people, and if three of them let me know that they'd keep reading if I kept writing, that's good enough for me.

I do intend to do *something* about Grey but I'm not sure what. Maybe just present a few selections of cuttings on themes, for your entertainment. One obvious one: "Every time Christian introduces the reader to a different woman" because every time a new lady enters the book, CG is careful to make sure we know that she's terrible and dumb but also wants to have sex with him and won't be allowed to.

Part of the reason I don't feel like writing a whole book about this book is that my sense is that it's been pretty strongly rejected by all but the most committed fans. Perhaps none of this ever needed taking down a peg, but Grey in particular seems to have been received at a pretty low peg and doesn't have much lower to go.

Perhaps I'm being optimistic, and perhaps I travel in small, biased circles but I do feel as though Grey's poor reception is indicative of a bit of a shift even in the last few years. The conversation when this book was new tended to focus on two boring points: 1) Oh hey did you hear that this started out as fan fiction? 2) Oh hey did you hear some women think about sex sometimes?

Very little to do with the book's content except for the (accurate) implication that since this was a watered-down, sexed-up version of a book for young adults, it probably wasn't very good.

And now, if anyone mentions anything about Grey it's to complain about what a gross money grab the thing is (boring but accurate) or to talk about what an absolute murderer CG acts like all the time. I like to think we've grown up a little bit and maybe, maybe can accept the idea that women think about sex every once in a while maybe while also being aware of what absolute misogyny fills these books.

But then again Grey is still #1 on Amazon so probably I'm deluding myself. (Editor's note: it's now down to 11 so that's something!)

Anyway moving on!

BONUS: When I decided to give this another try, I totally forgot that I'd actually written a fair bit on Chapter 9 already so this could be easy! Possibly! It's like finding five bucks in your own pocket. It feels like you're ahead even though, of course, you aren't.

Plus the chapter is like half bullshit emails and the rest of it's going to go quickly. That's my hope, at least! Fingers crossed! Nothing can stop us if we work together! As a team!

Hey remember how Avengers: Age of Ultron was like an action-movie adaptation of a motivational poster about teamwork and how great teamwork is? Very cool. I hope Hollywood adapts some more motivational posters! To help keep me motivated!

Ok here we go: CHAPTER 9! The nineliest chapter to date!

But where were we?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Initial thoughts: "Grey" is not very good.

Right so I haven't read all of this but I've read quite a bit and of course it goes pretty quickly since, you know--it's the same thing again. I do feel qualified to comment. I mean, as qualified as ever.

Grey is a retelling of all the events of Fifty Shades of Grey told from Christian's perspective rather than Ana's.

It's also an opportunity for EL to get a bit of a do-over. Many moments feel as though the writer is taking the reader aside to defend her choices: Yeah I know I went kinda overboard with Christian shaming Ana about her eating habits. But don't you see? He's deeply concerned about feeding the world and not wasting food and so on. So it's not weird, really. 

And yet, EL seems to have included every last bit of dialogue. Even the absolute worst bits are here. She could've easily trimmed some--a different narrator could've very well chosen to end the occasional scene early, for instance. But I'm pretty sure CG never does. Every scrap of CG/Ana dialogue seems to be here, so EL didn't give herself that much of a mulligan. It's an extremely repetitive experience for anyone who read the original.

And yet, Grey assumes (fairly!) that we've read the the original book. I can't imagine that there's an audience for Grey beyond a) true believers and b) grumpy critics, so it's safe to assume that anyone reading will know all about Ana and sex contracts and so on. This doesn't stop EL from being generally redundant and disrespectful of her readers' time but it does mean that certain key topics are not so much introduced but assumed. 
Vanilla sex? 
Can I do this?
This is in CG's head as he leads Ana into his bedroom for their first sexual encounter. But see, he's been thinking about having sex with her for literally the entire book, so the uninitiated would think it a little strange that he's now doubting himself. CG's specific desires are not something the book is kind of withholding from us as a mystery; the book presumes we already know and don't need to be reminded.

Same with his squeamishness about being touched. Would be even more confusing for a reader encountering this book before reading Fifty Shades. CG's entire inner monologue, pretty much, is about touching Ana. We're expected to know that he doesn't want her touching him back.

So in a lot of ways, this is simply EL's version of stretching The Hobbit into three new movies. She'll make a bunch of money and capitalize on the fact that there are lots of people who enjoy this world so much that they'll return for more time in it, even if the entertainment value drops off considerably.

EL's stated purpose, though, is to help us understand Christian, as though we hadn't already had enough of him. Because he's very complicated, you see. Yes very complicated.

But even that explanation feels pretty thin to me. CG is not Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. He dominates [Editor's note: Ha!] nearly every page of the original book once you get past the first couple of chapters. When Ana isn't talking to CG, she's emailing him. They're basically inseparable once their relationship begins. So the idea that we don't really get CG, despite reading so much of his dialogue, so many of his emails, and hearing his bedroom commands feels implausible. I guess there were probably people demanding this POV switch for whatever extra it might reveal, but to me, this is equivalent to saying, "You know, I totally get Ernie. But what's Bert's deal?"

Plus, there's never any subtext to discern in EL's dialogue. The double entendres are so blunt that they're not even entendres, really. And characters always say exactly the thing that they mean to say without ever implying anything or accidentally revealing more than they wish. Hence there's just not much beyond CG's actual words. Seeing more of this thoughts pretty much just confirms that, yeah, he's kind of a monster. Just like he always seemed like a monster on the outside, turns out, yeah. Monstery on the inside too. [Editor's note: There's probably an analogy here you could do, right? Like a monster who's actually super nice? Maybe a Muppet or something? And how CG isn't like that? I dunno figure it out.]

So there's basically no upside to being in CG's head instead of Ana's. And so you might well ask: Is there a downside?

Yes! It turns out that yes, indeed, there is a downside!

Lest it be unclear: I can't stand Ana. She's a miserable character. She's not clever. She's got nothing to say. She's passive and lets life happen to her while scarcely doing so much as expressing an opinion. She's just awful. 

And yet!

She's just so much better than Christian. I mean Ana is the worst. Just the absolute worst ever. Oh but when she's standing next to Christian? He's so much more terrible that he makes her look like she's a classic literary heroine. Compared to CG, Ana is like, I dunno. Somebody from a Virginia Woolf novel or something. Introspective! Complicated! Insightful!

And again: she's not actually any of these things. Really she's the worst. But I bet I'm not the only one who's reading this dumb book and saying, ugh this could use more Ana!

Because the truth is that shifting over to CG's POV almost cuts Ana out entirely. She's around of course and saying words and so on. But what the reader will pick up on pretty quickly is that, first go-round, EL did a better job of capturing CG's character through his dialogue and body language in comparison to the way she established Ana. We really need a bit of that Ana inner monologue to find Ana very interesting.

Part of the reason for this is simply that CG is so flat and uninteresting. His only notes are angry, authoritarian, and condescending. The only thing we get new from his POV is basically quantity. He seems more like himself, which is to say: he seems even worse than I'd assumed. CG isn't complicated. EL tries to make him seem complicated by putting some tragedy in his backstory but that's not the same as creating a compelling character. That's just tagging everything he does with an asterisk.*

*Remember! CG was abused when he was very small so don't judge him too harshly. 

But without Ana's narration, Ana slips into the background. Maybe [Editor's note: probably!] she was never really more than a sex object in the first place, but through CG's eyes? She really, really is nothing more than a sex object. She contributes a bit of dialogue. Most it opaque. And beyond that, all we get of her is pretty much CG telling us how fun she'd probably be to spank or whatever.

And was we get less of Ana, she becomes less compelling. And as she becomes less compelling to the reader, CG seems more and more like a terrifying sexual predator, since his obsession with her makes less and less sense. So it's pretty gross all around.

I'm undecided about how to approach this book. I mean other than these notes. Doing a chapter-by-chapter exegesis seems a little much considering that we've already covered all the plot points, such as they are. And all the dialogue. So no single chapter needs more than a handful of points to differentiate this one from the other one. I might also just do a few topical posts. Like, "EL still uses the same clich├ęs" or "Christian Grey seems like a real predator, huh?" or "Yeah this whole section is the same as the other book."

I dunno. What do you think? What would you like to hear about this thing? Or are you reading it too, and just want to vent a little?

Because it's pretty bad, is the thing.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Ok so here's what we know is happening:

EL James took a break from swimming around in her big ol' pool of money in order to rewrite the first book, Fifty Shades: Fellowship of the Shade from Christian's perspective.

It's available for preorder already. Somebody should buy me a copy and then I'll read it and say mean things about it. I haven't paid for any of these yet; this is the only kind of piracy I support. Hey what if there were like, hipster pirates who had a sailing ship and cruised around and boarded ships and stole their rum or whatever? Like real old-school pirates. Real artisanal pirates? I guess I would probably get behind that, right? But other than that kind of piracy that I made up, and people not paying for Fifty Shades: The Original Trilogy, I don't support piracy.

Basically what I'm saying is this: I have undergone no shortage of pain and suffering and time-wasting for the several of you who read this blog. And the suffering has only increased as we have plunged deeper and deeper into this. Right? So I'm not saying that you owe me exactly. But what I am saying is that I would like to keep not spending money on this series. [Editor's note: you watched the movie, dude. So don't play like you haven't already broken this.]

What I'm saying is, everyone who reads this should donate a dollar, and then that would be eight dollars, and then that would pay for the book and I'd be ready to go.

But seriously: I'll read it because I'm morbidly curious.

It's not going to be good, of course. It's going to be bad. And considering how much of the series is emails and conversations, this book is going to be a lot like book one. Like, a lot like it. These two characters are basically never apart from the moment they meet, so this is unlikely to offer us anything we didn't already know.


The the one thing that might kind of actually work better sort of (note all the qualifiers!) is the fact that the later parts of the series introduce these pseudo thriller elements. During the first book, CG is, on occasion, taking calls and stuff about his ex, Leila, to whom he was such a bad boyfriend that he literally infected her with mental illness! True story! I mean, actual thing in the novel, which is patently untrue. You know what I mean. And there's a buncha stuff going on with his other ex whose name I can't be bothered to look up at the moment.

It's kinda like how in The Hobbit Gandalf goes off and does some stuff and he's like BRB and you don't really know what he's doing because you quit watching the movies because they were to boring.

So even though Ana and CG basically do absolutely everything together, CG gets to do a little more stuff, probably because he's a boy? Probably why. So this new book won't work? But I can imagine a scenario in which it's a marginal improvement.

To my knowledge, this is the first actual book written by EL James. The previous "books" are just collected episodes, which is in part why they are so terrible. So who knows! Maybe the fact that EL sat and wrote this one without posting each chapter on the internets and letting her readers weigh in, and without concern for readers who might join partway through--maybe that helped her do a better job! So maybe this will be better! Fingers crossed!

And even if it's worse, it'll be better than reading the third book, like I've been doing, I think. Because Book 3 is bad enough that Book 1 could be a bit worse and still be better. So I think the math works and I think we should go for it.

Side note:

It's funny to me that EL is doing the thing that Stephanie Meyer set out to do and then stopped. Very full circle. Meyer started writing a book from the vampire's perspective. I didn't read it obvs but I guess he was like, telling a journalist all about his life or something? Whatever. Doesn't matter, because she didn't finish it after somebody leaked a chunk of it. But anyway. Even this follow-up idea is yet another Stephanie Meyer knock-off. And also, of course, a fanfic staple. I do think that my version of The Sun Also Rises from the perspective of a bull is pretty cool tho. And short, obvs so you can get through it in like, twenty minutes.

But anyway. That is happening.

If you wanna be my sponsor or whatever? Contact me via the secret Complaint Phone. Or like leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fifty Shad3s: Chapter 8 part 2

I just now opened up this draft of "Fifty Shad3s: Chapter 8 part 2" and was saddened to see that it was completely blank. This is basically a nasty trick that I played on myself--dangling the possibility that I'd actually done some work already, and then yanking away all optimism.

Hey did you guys read Hunger Games? Remember how it makes less sense as it goes, and then when you get to the end, you're kind of like "Meh"?

This trilogy is kind of like that, except for that the worst part of Hunger Games is way better than the best part of Fifty Shades. Hunger Games starts out fun and then you kinda get sick of it but Fifty Shades starts out real terrible and then you get sick of it and you're like, "Uh oh I'm only on the second chapter of the first book and it's getting more awful with every passing sentence. I can only imagine how bad it'll be at the end!"

Pretty bad it turns out. So, so bad.

It probably seems even worse on account of how slowly I'm reading it. This is the sort of thing that's designed to be taken in at a much faster clip. If you zip through a few chapters in a sitting (Editor's note: not actually recommended.) you might notice less the extent to which major plot elements go undiscussed for long periods of time. So because of my slow pace, it feels like months since we talked about Jack Hyde. I mean he's around somewhere I guess. Doing whatever. Scheming. And Ana had a big confrontation with CG's ex at the end of book 2 but I don't think that lady has even gotten a real mention during the first third of this book. Or maybe I just forget.

But still: mostly what we're getting are just bits where CG is outrageously jealous and controlling, and then Ana does some brain contortions in order to convince herself that this is all just about his love or whatever. I imagine that people who have to endure actual, non-fictional emotional abuse from a partner often think thoughts similar to Ana's. It's almost like this is a terrible romance novel that could be tweaked a little to be an extremely effective cautionary tale.

But I took another week off from this terrible thing so I really can't justify dragging this out any longer. Here goes: sex.

So where were we?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 8 part 1

Ana is extremely rude to the architect she and Christian hire to remodel their new home. 

So here's the thing:

Just moved. Not even really done moving. Lotsa bags and boxes still. Lotsa hey-where-did-that-go? still. Been taking up most of my non-work time. So that's why we're two full weeks out without an update. I know you all count on me. Me and this important service that I'm doing out of the goodness of my own heart and whatever. I'm sorry for letting you down.

I can't promise it won't happen again because this book is terrible. I barely finished my post on the last chapter. And even once I finished it? I'm pretty sure I never edited it and there are probably some weird parts that sneaked in accidentally. I mean weirder than usual. Ah well.

The discouraging thing is that I'm barely into this book. But the encouraging thing is that, since this is a trilogy, just being anywhere in the third book means that I'm oozing toward the finish line, so good job, me!

We can do this. I know we can. I know we can. I think I can, anyway. And if there's anything I learned from children's literature, it's that if you think you can do something, you can totally do it. (Editor's note: Alden just read an illustrated version of The Secret and I'm worried that it's affecting his judgement.)

So yeah. They had a fight last chapter. Ana got bullied into changing her name because Christian is a whiny baby who cannot handle his wife enjoying symbolic independence. Cool! So it's still the same dumb evening and in comes their architect.

But let's catch up more thoroughly shall we?

So where were we?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 7 part 2

This part is bullshit.

I did warn you guys the other week that this part was total bullshit but I mean, here it is! You can accuse me of a lot of things, for sure, but you can't accuse me of not being thorough because that is one thing that I am. Oh how I am.

I did take a week off. That's how bad this chapter is. It's so bad that I took a whole week off and then procrastinated through most of the next week, too, and now here it is and I guess I gotta do this. Or not. I could also not. But I think I will. I think I will fight my way through this.

I really could just say that the rest of this chapter is some bullshit where CG hassles Ana about not going by "Mrs. Grey" at work because that's all that happens. But if I did that, you would be spared the true depth of my righteous, seething anger. You would get the basic idea of the rest of this chapter, but you wouldn't really feel it. You would not understand just how truly, truly terrible this is. Terrible to read. Terrible to think about. Terrible to imagine as a real-world thing. Terrible to write about. And yeah- probably also terrible to read about! But we are in this together.

I will say one thing about EL: she keeps finding new ways to establish CG's shittiness. She keeps reminding us that, yeah even though our heroes are married and whatever? That isn't the end. Marriage isn't the end. There is no happily-ever-after for Ana. Instead, there's just this endless sine wave. Peaking at sex, then dropping down to another stupid, stupid fight with her stupid, stupid husband who's just a fucking tantrum-toddler who wants everything his way all the time and he wants it goddamn yesterday.

I suppose part of my beef is that I don't really get ladies changing their names. Life is a big enough hassle as it is. I gotta move soon because my new landlords want to make more money or whatever and I cannot bear the thought of changing my address on every goddamn thing. The bills. The credit cards. The Netflix. The everything. And that's pretty much just doing a bunch of forms online. Not like changing my whole goddamn name. That sounds brutal. If that's a thing that you want to do, do it! Please! But it seems like a pretty big hassle to me, and not one I'd ever ask anyone to endure for my sake. Plus? It's just another one of those old school things where it's like, "Oh see, legally, you used to be your dad's property, but now you belong to your husband. Good luck! Enjoy life!" So if you have found a contemporary relevance for this antiquated thing, great! I shan't judge you for having a strength of imagination that I personally lack.

I do judge CG for being an asshole tho. Ana is awfully proud to be Mrs. Christian Grey and she runs around calling herself Mrs. Grey and everything yeah. I just don't see any possible angle for CG to doubt Ana's commitment to him. He literally bosses her around all the time about everything, and then she's like, "Oh maybe I want to maintain a certain amount of professional distance from your name so that in my professional life, I can be judged on my own merit and not merely feared because of your reputation," and he flips out because he is a bad, bad person, and bad people need little reason to flip out I guess.

But anyway. I'm just delaying the inevitable.

So where were we?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 7 part 1

Christian starts flipping out about Ana keeping the last name "Steele" in her professional life. 

This is just several pages of me being angry about how bad this book is. I know it's always just that, but I get angrier than usual. Like, I literally take a break in the middle, leave, come back, and then I'm angrier than ever. 

I've threatened, at various points, to abridge my own edit of one or more of these books and I still think it's kind of a good idea because I bet I could get it down to like, 100 pages per book and then if people really wanted to know what the deal was they could just read those. And the main reason that I think this would be plausible is just how repetitive everything is, all the time. Every chapter just circles through these repeated bits where CG and Ana say the same goddamn things to each other and my eyes kind of glaze over because I'm like, "Oh this again" and I start scanning more and more rapidly and then pretty soon I'm at the end of the chapter and I realize that I've gotten all the way through to the end and nothing at all has happened. Not anything.

So anyway take this chapter, for example. Where nothing happens. Oh! But you might want me to catch you up on the previous nothing that already happened. Or didn't happen. Since what did happen was nothing. Right? Cool.

So where were we?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 6

Ana figures out who the arsonist was. 

At long last our heroes get around to some buttstuff.

It's always a bummer when I know I have to start talking about sex. It's like, c'mon guys. Can't you like, lead up to it a little? Or just, you know. Leave out part of the sex? Because I get it! Christian Grey is so good at sex! Probably the best sexer who ever sexed a sex. But now, I gotta read about it. At least I know that they can only have sex for an hour because CG has to yell at his security people or some shit. Remember how there was a weird car chase last chapter for no reason? Oh and how Ana and Christian just had car sex in the afternoon like, five minutes ago? Well here comes some more! #yay

Wait. Should probably catch you up to speed. I mean just in case for some reason, you decided to start right here and don't know what's happened already. Don't worry! You haven't missed much. You haven't missed anything. 

Where were we?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 5 part 2

Car chase / car sex. 

I wonder if I'll be like, invigorated after going to see the movie and not even hating it that much? Probably not. Because the problem is that book-Christian is just as bad as movie-Christian, and book-Ana is way, way worse than movie-Ana. And while early in the movie, Kate calls Ana a "goddess" as a "clever" nod to the worst thing in the book, I'm probably going to have to keep reading about inner goddesses and whatever for several hundred more pages.

All I do is just give, give, give.

Lessee. Where were we?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Special Movie Edition: We Watched It

Meh. Not that bad.

OK so here’s the deal: 

The movie isn’t that bad. If, some crazy how, this blog hasn’t, on its own, provided you with a detailed-enough account of this mess, and you're like, "Ugh I still want to learn more tho," please please please just watch the movie and don't read the book. Please don't. Please.

Of course, this introduces a bit of a conundrum: is it possible that all my enjoyment of the movie is directly related to the misery that the book has caused me? Probably! So it's very possible that someone who hasn't dissected the book(s) in the pointless way I have would totally hate the movie and be like, "Ugh why'd you make me watch this, Alden?" And I'd like to respond to that in two ways:
  1. I didn't make you.
  2. At least you didn't read the book. 
Here's the main thing the movie has going for it:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 5 part 1

Honeymoon ending. Jet ski. Flight back to Seattle. Sex. Breakfast in Bellevue. Car chase.

I still haven't seen the movie yet. I'm sorry. I'm going this weekend. I'll tell you all about it. I mean, if you're interested.

Where were we?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 4

Ana buys a camera.


I have not seen the movie yet. I made one of my pilgrimages to New Orleans to participate in a religious festival and pretty much all of my friends were too busy with their spiritual commitments to go see a movie with me, so I didn't, and so far, I haven't. Looks like it's successful, which everyone ought to have assumed despite all the inside-baseball grumblings about its problems. It being "good" or "bad" should never have weighed into our guesses about its popularity. The source material is not good, and it's the most successful human endeavor in history, basically, so why should it matter whether or no the movie is "good"? What does that even mean anymore? Ugh how postmodern.

But I will see it and I'll tell you all about it I swear.

Oh hey discussion question before we get started in earnest:

Is 50 Shades pornography? 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

50 Shades: The Movie Is Coming!

The marketing machine behind the 50 Shades of Grey movie, out this week for V-Day, has gone completely dysfunctional. Basically all of the press is bad. If you've encountered any press at all, you've heard bad press.

Two themes:

  1. The leads don't get along.
  2. The director and EL don't get along. 
Here's an extra bad one, tho, that I'm going to share with you. Spoilers for the end of the first book, tho I can't imagine that the sort of person worried about spoilers would be here reading this blog, so w/e. 

Most relevant bits:

In the ending favored by James, who wrote the original film script with Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks), the final word in the film is "stop." But in the ending favored by the director, which apparently came from a rewrite by Patrick Marber (Notes on a ScandalCloser), the last word in the movie was "red," which is used in the trilogy as a "safe word."

Ok so the article kind of doesn't give enough context for the reader to understand that both of these versions leave us with a pretty big problem. I'm not going to go into any analysis of the difference between "stop" and "red" because I don't know the context. Astute readers of this blog will know that, in the final spankening that ends Book I, Ana does not say either "stop" or "red" but instead endures all six of the spanks that Christian found her deserving. After that she gets just real angry at him and bounces, basically. 

So whether the last word is "stop" or "red" the audience is still confronted with an ending wherein the romantic leads break up. And it happens basically right at the end. So, how do you make it work? How does the movie show us that final, climactic spankening, and Ana's negative reaction to it, while still making us feel like we just saw a romance for Valentine's Day? And how does the movie make us want to watch the inevitable sequel? Because unless this thing is a total bomb there will be a sequel. And it won't bomb utterly just because there are so many fans desperate to go and go a bunch of times. That's the thing about this: it doesn't have to be good in order to please its built in audience. In fact, it's probably better if it's bad, as far as they're concerned. 

So basically EL and director Sam Taylor-Johnson disagreed on how to handle the tone of the end and I gotta tell you: I agree with Sam Taylor-Johnson. I don't know anything about Taylor-Johnson, but she's not EL James and therefore I trust Sam's instincts utterly, at least where debates with EL are concerned. 

That's kind of my biggest question going into this: can Taylor-Johnson make the ending seem like less than a total bummer? I don't know! 

Probably not! I kinda liked the ending but only because I like CG being miserable and I was rooting for them to break up for the whole book and so when they did, I was happy. I am perhaps not a typical audience member. So no idea. No idea how this movie is going to try to handle the conclusion but I have a hard time imagining it working very well. Theory: I bet there's some shit after the credits where Ana like, I dunno. Quietly does something in her room that suggests that she misses CG's kinks. Ugh. So now I'm going to have to watch the thing, and also stay past the credits? W/e. My sacrifices are famous and also ongoing. 

Anyway. The movie is coming. I suggest not watching it. Or watching it with me, if you really have to watch it. And if you do have to watch it, because you got dragged there or something, go ahead and read some of my earliest essays. Nothing can prepare any of us for this particular film experience, I don't think. But I've tried, is the thing. I've tried absolutely as hard as I can, so please. Don't let my efforts be for nothing.

Don't thank me. Be on the lookout for poor souls who seem likely to end up watching this movie, and send them here. And then they can thank me. It's kind of like a pyramid scheme, only with you getting people to thank me.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 3 part 2

Hey I need a new band name so help me out if you can. Or if I should accidentally string any words together on accident that work as a band name in the midst of this post I'll try to notice them. One of my pals suggested picking a band name based on some of my post tags, which led her to "Gazpacho Fingerblast" which is totally available on bandcamp if you want it. I mean I like it, obvs. But I don't love it. I mean, I love it but I'm not in love with it, if you get me. You get me, right? Cool.

SO last week we were pretty much just talking about how the book objectifies Ana, and now we're going to talk about that some more. Hurray! I mean that's basically a theme throughout but sometimes it's way worse than others and it's worth taking some extra time to address now and then.

First, we  had the whole thing with all the hickies that appeared on Ana after they did sex and she was angry about it and rightfully so. Her reasoning was largely just to complain that this was a pretty high school type of move for CG to pull and she was totally right but also? It's pretty gross how CG demands to quite literally control Ana's appearance as proof that he possesses her.

He was pretty explicit about it: "Well, you won't take your top off again." I am going to mark you as mine. You are a thing and I own you. 

And then his other thing was getting just way too excited about Ana shaving her pubes. That whole section was pretty gross, just because even when Ana takes a little bit of initiative and tries to make a decision about her sex life, CG has to barge in and take charge again. It doesn't even really bother me that she did it for him, with nothing to gain herself other than the pleasure she she hoped to take from pleasing CG. That's a perfectly legitimate reason to do a thing.

What bothers me, I guess, is that CG pretty much operates like a shitty boss. He's like the boss who takes credit for every idea anybody around him comes up with. At the end of the scene he might as well say, "Wow! Sure was smart of me to insist you shave your lady situation!" (Editor's note: Lady Situation is like, 4/10 as a band name.) 

And he just bullies his way in and pretty much mansplains Ana's vulva to her. Right? "Hey I'm much more familiar with this sort of thing than you are, silly girl, so let me take over." Ugh.

Hey do you remember how this book tried to convince us that Ana only started shaving her pits after she met CG? That Ana was like, an adult woman in America who hadn't decided not to shave her pits for her own, personal reasons, but like, wasn't aware that this was a thing that adult women in America tended to do? That was funny, huh? Good times.

And now, I guess we're primed to continue! Neat I guess.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 3 part 1

Ana sees that Christian gave her a bunch of hickies and she's mad for like one minute. 

Hey so this is important:

The film version of this trainwreck is coming, and soon. I plan to watch the movie version of this somewhere, somehow. Do you want to watch with me? I mean, it's not going to be good. It's going to be bad. But it'll only take like, two hours. And let's be real: I can't even get through like, half a chapter of this dumpster fire in two hours. So surely you could put up with a two-hour movie. I know you could. Your moral support would mean a lot to me. So, I dunno. Leave a comment! Or something. If you want to participate in the official Complainist viewing party. I'll be drunk.

So. Another chapter of this. So.

I'm going to tell you now: the plot does not start yet. I hope you aren't expecting the plot to start yet? Because it does not start yet. No, it does not start yet at all. It's another one of those chapters that follow a false cliffhanger but the false cliffhanger is resolved immediately but only sort of. Which is to say that the false cliffhanger is always a symptom of what a super shitty dude Christian is. So the immediate problem might be addressed, but the larger problem--Christian is shitty--goes unresolved. He's still shitty. And he'll always be shitty. And the only way to "resolve" his shittiness would be for Ana to, I dunno. Seek asylum somewhere? It's tough getting involved with super rich people because they're difficult to escape.

But yeah. Let's read another chapter! Probably they'll make up real fast and eat some food and drink some food and have sex and then get in another fight about how shitty Christian is and then the chapter will end and you'll be like, "Wait did Alden accidentally write about Chapter 2 a second time instead of writing about Chapter 3?" and you'll never know. None of us will ever know.

Where were we?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 2 part 2


I realized the other day that I say "So" instead of "um." It's not much better. Just a pointless syllable that gives me an extra little moment before I have to proceed. It's hard to dive into these things; you'll forgive me just a little bit of procrastination before I leap in. So.

Here's what's bothering me the most: so there was never any plot in this thing, in the standard sense. Just a general, unpleasant tension between Ana and CG punctuated by either big dumb fights or sex. Just two character bumbling back and forth between these two poles, both basically uninteresting.

And that's where we still are, only they're married now. In real life, of course, the wedding isn't where the story ends. But this is a book, and that's where the book is supposed to end, because it's a big deal or whatever. So now that we've raced through the wedding, into territory unknown, where will we stop? I don't know where we will stop. I have no idea where this will stop or why it even started. Why did it even start? Oh well.


Onwards and upwards.

Where were we?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter 2 part 1

CG is mad about Ana taking her top off but a jet ski cheers him up a little. 

So. Chapter 2.

I'm having a harder time sticking with this. I think it's weakened me, in general. Like, I think I used to be kind of smart or whatever. But I think I'm less smart now than when I started. I think that this is actually making me a worse person? Reading this book? Thinking about this book? I've become that piece of cheese that you find in the back of the fridge, and you open it up, and you're like, "Huh. Well. This looks like cheese. And it's something in the blue family; it was always moldy. But was it this moldy? Is this safe to eat?"

I was always moldy. But was I always this moldy? I don't know. You tell me.

So where were we?

Our story thus far:

Ana Steele is married to billionaire / kink-enthusiast / child-abuse survivor Christian Grey. He is domineering and they are usually upset with each other except for when they're having sex. 

  1. Ana takes her top off on a beach while reminiscing about the wedding and Christian gets mad.
Not off to a very good start! Hey. Onwards, I guess. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

50 Shad3s: Chapter One

Ana and Christian are on a beach honeymoon and maybe people see Ana's boobs.

Having a difficult time getting back into this, pretty much because it's so, so terrible. You get to the end of the chapter, and these people are just doing the same stuff that they always do. Having their little fights which hint that Ana is straight-up going to get murdered if she strays from Christian's rules. Doing rich-people stuff that somehow feels false, like it was thought up explicitly for the sake of sounding rich to readers who are not actually rich.

Oh and you know that thing on TV shows where they have somebody get married because I guess that's good for ratings or whatever and people like watching weddings? EL decided she was having none of that! The young couple's entire engagement and wedding is dispatched with boring efficiency. Great, I guess! Gets us through this first chapter, and onto the rest of the book! Whatever that's about. I have no idea, yet, what this book is about. Probably the same as the other books.

But holy shit this is a dumpster fire.

Ok. Am I prone to hyperbole? Sure. But omigod this is so brutally bad. Here's what Chapter 1 is like: Chapter 1 is like fanfic by a 50 Shades superfan. It's fanfic of fanfic and it's just bullshit. It's so bad that it's gone past good and back to bad again.

I feel bad for having potentially overused the phrase "dumpster fire" in my recent life so I might need to retract that. Instead I'm going to call this chapter a shitcano, which I definitely haven't overused because it's a dumb nonsense word that I just mashed up right now. (Editor's note: gets about 3.5k hits on google so you're not that original, Eagle.)

Here's the thing: there just isn't any book in this book. There's no story. There are none of the conventional things you need to like, make you read a book.

Since there's no story in this story, you don't really need to be offered a plot refresher but hey. I'll do it anyway because I'm a very generous person.

Ana Steele is engaged to billionaire / kink-enthusiast / child-abuse survivor Christian Grey. He is domineering and they are usually upset with each other except for when they're having sex. 

. . . only now we'll have to update this straight away because [gasp] they're already married! We learn it immediately so don't worry. No spoilies. After the jump!