Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fifty Shades of Grey: Chapter 24.

First order of business: is anyone going to the Geeky Kink Event this weekend?   Rowdy and I will be there and would love to meet people in person.  We will also be hosting a Pervocracy room party Saturday evening--I'll post about this when I know specifically when and where. (UPDATE: 7-11pm, 5th floor. Look for the room with "PERVOCRACY FIELD HQ" sign on the door.)

Also, I'm officially an RN now, so that's cool.


Onto the book.  When we last left our heroes, they were... you know what, I could write one of these that would work for literally every chapter.  When we last left our heroes, Ana was all "I want you, but I don't enjoy anything about your actual personality or sexuality," which was understandable because Ralph ChunderStorm's personality was mostly obsession and manipulation, and his sexuality was mostly violent coercion.

But in this chapter... well, all that is still happening, but in Georgia!




Content warnings for this chapter: Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, of course.  Forced eating.  Murder reference.  Child molestation.  Dog bites.  Another long-ass chapter.
Christian stands in a steel-barred cage. Wearing his soft, ripped jeans, his chest and feet are mouthwateringly naked, and he’s staring at me. His private-joke smile etched on his beautiful face and his eyes a molten gray.
I just realized that I have no idea what Arousal SexBerry looks like.  I mean, obviously he looks like Robert Pattinson in white greasepaint, but we're not supposed to know that.  All we know from the book is he's got gray eyes and messy red hair, and he's tall.  (And he's a white guy, but we only know that because E.L. James describes José as "all-Hispanic-American" and has him drop random Spanglish in every sentence, so we can assume anyone who doesn't get that kind of treatment is white.)  That doesn't exactly paint a picture.

Is he muscular or lean or soft?  Does he have freckles or birthmarks?  Are his features strong or delicate?  Is there anything about him--thick eyebrows, a slightly crooked nose, full lips, dimples, a few lines around the eyes--anything that makes him look like a specific person instead of a generic beautiful blankness?  I don't need an itemized list of all these things, but any of them would be nice.  It would do a lot for me compared to "he was hot, just take my word for it."
“Eat,” he says, his tongue caressing the front of his palate as he enunciates the ‘t’.
Go ahead and try this.  Try and say "eat" that way without spitting"eaTUH" or "eathhh" all over your keyboard.  You might want to be alone in the room for this.
“Wake up.” No. Please. My eyes flicker unwillingly open for a split second. [...] Why is he waking me? It’s the middle of the night, or so it feels. Holy shit. Does he want sex – now? “Time to get up, baby. I’m going to switch on the sidelight.” His voice is quiet. “No,” I groan. “I want to chase the dawn with you,” he says, kissing my face, my eyelids, the tip of my nose, my mouth, and I open my eyes.
At least it isn't sex this time.  He got her up at 5:30 in the goddamn AM because he's feeling whimsical.  What a peach.

We are now 86% of the way into the book.  I don't read a lot of romances so maybe I just don't understand the format, but this seems like a bit late in the game for the two leads to still have nothing in common and zero trust in each other.
“Can’t I have a shower?” He sighs. “If you have a shower, I’ll want one with you, and you and I know what will happen then – the day will just go. Come.”
Ew.  Ew ew ew ew.  Dude.  Having sex with someone is not an involuntary reflex.  You can decide not to have sex with her and then you won't do it.  (He can't even decide not to get in the shower with her?  That's an involuntary reflex too?)  This whole "men can't help themselves if sex is available" thing is awful, for both men and women, and patently untrue.

I'd add in "or she could stop him," but at this point, that's barely worth considering as an option.  We all know she can't.  The only thing that makes any of the sex or play in this book consensual is that she decides she's okay with some of the things she can't stop him from doing.
“I’ll have some tea. Can I take a croissant for later?” He eyes me suspiciously, and I smile very sweetly. “Don’t rain on my parade, Anastasia,” he warns softly.
This "soft warning" stuff pushes me into a very particular fantasy every time it comes up.  It's the fantasy where instead of going "oh my gosh sir, don't get angry sir, I'll do whatever you want to make sure this never goes beyond soft warning sir," I say "OR YOU'LL DO WHAT?" and make him spell out his bullshit.  See if it's still sexy then.

In this fantasy I am extremely good at martial arts and willing to use them, because that's clearly going to be necessary once he actually answers the "or what."

Also, this is one of those times where Face KnuckleTarget doesn't actually seem very dominant.  Of course there's different styles of dominance, so I don't want to say this way is wrong (if it were consensual and opt-out-able), but... I feel like the classically dominant thing would be to say "You will eat.  That's an order."  Not "YOU ARE MAKING ME HAVE A SAD."  That's more manipulative than powerful, and one of (many) reasons this book doesn't push my BDSM buttons at all.
“I want to roll my eyes at you.” “By all means, do, and you will make my day,” he says sternly. I gaze up at the ceiling. “Well a spanking would wake me up, I suppose.” I purse my lips in quiet contempla-tion. Christian’s mouth drops open.
So now she... likes spanking?  When did this happen?  Not onscreen, that's for damn sure.

I'm not sure if she's even saying she likes it here, or if she's just so used to it being part of her life that she might as well joke about it.
“You are, as ever, challenging, Miss Steele. Drink your tea.” I notice the Twinings label, and inside, my heart sings. See, he does care, my subconscious mouths at me. I sit and face him, drinking in his beauty. Will I ever get enough of this man?
You're not fooling anyone, E.L.  Ana just spent five pages miserable that he's waking her up at 5:30 to march her off God knows where.  Having her suddenly rhapsodize ecstatic about him remembering her brand of tea does not make up for that.

Actually, it just sounds kind of pathetic, like seriously, knowing what your partner likes to drink is not that magical.  Here, I'll do it right now: Rowdy likes Starbucks coffee, medium roast, no cream or sugar.  Am I an amazing super-boyfriend or what?  And I don't communicate entirely in death glares, so, hey, bonus.
Outside, in the relative cool of the half-light of pre-dawn, the valet hands Christian a set of keys to a flash sports car with a soft top. I raise an eyebrow at Christian, who smirks back at me. “You know, sometimes it’s great being me,” he says with a conspiratorial but smug grin that I simply can’t help emulating. He’s so lovable when he’s playful and carefree.
I've got a lot of words for this, but "playful" and "carefree" didn't make the list.
[Toxic Womanizer is blasting music in his car and Ana doesn't like it so she changes the song to Britney Spears. I dunno.] He turns the music down a little more, and inside I am hugging myself. My inner goddess is standing on the podium awaiting her gold medal. He turned the music down. Victory!
Once again, Ana going "sooo wooonderful" about being thrown scraps is not having the intended effect on me.
“It was Leila,” he answers my unspoken thoughts. How does he do that? “Leila?” “An ex, who put the song on my iPod.” Damien warbles away in the background as I sit stunned. An ex… ex-submissive? An ex– “One of the fifteen?” I ask. “Yes.” “What happened to her?”
Hey, one of "the fifteen" has a name!  Although Ana seems more concerned with being quietly horrified that... why exactly is she horrified?  She already knows Clod Thuddington has had submissives before.  Is this exchange supposed to show that she can only cope with that fact through constant denial?  Charming.

For me, anyway, the horror comes from that last question.  What happened to her?  They broke up, obviously.  But Ana seems like she expects the answer to involve a shallow grave in the woods.
“What happened to the other fourteen?” I ask. Jeez he’s talking – take advantage. “You want a list? Divorced, beheaded, died?” “You’re not Henry VIII.”
"Ha ha, no, but seriously, did you behead someone?  I wouldn't put it past you."
“Okay. In no particular order, I’ve only had long term relationships with four women, apart from Elena.” “Elena?” “Mrs. Robinson to you.” He half smiles his secret private joke smile. Elena! Holy Fuck. The evil one has a name and its all-foreign sounding. A vision of a glorious, pale-skinned vamp with raven hair and ruby-red lips comes to mind, and I know that she’s beautiful. I must not dwell. I must not dwell.
 EW!  EW EW EW!  "I bet your molester was gorgeous! I'm so jealous."  OH GOD EWWW.

..."Elena" is foreign-sounding?
He turns and grins at me as the GPS urges him to turn right into what looks like an industrial complex. He pulls up outside a large white building with a sign reading Brunswick Soaring Association. Gliding! We’re going gliding? [...] “Another first, Miss Steele,” he says as he climbs out of the car. First? What sort of first? First time flying a glider… shit! No – he said that he’s done it before. I relax.
This whole "I've never done anything nonsexual with anyone but you" shtick is getting really depressing for me.  I know I'm supposed to be thinking about how special Ana is, but instead I'm thinking about fifteen (nineteen? how does that math work) women who all got the "sorry, you're only good for sex" cold shoulder about sleeping in his bed or participating in his hobbies.
He walks round and opens my door. The sky has turned to a subtle opal, shimmering and glowing softly behind the sporadic childlike clouds. Dawn is upon us.
I made a picture of what that would actually look like.


“Hello, Taylor,” I murmur shyly. [Taylor is Lord Growlingly's personal assistant, or manservant, or something like that.] “Miss Steele.” He nods a greeting at me, and I frown. “Ana,” he corrects himself. “He’s been hell on wheels the last few days. Glad we’re here,” he says conspiratorially.
Okay, time for a lesson about Good People.

Good people are good all the time.  They may not be nice or happy all the time, but they are non-abusive and generally decent all the time.

There is no such thing as a conditionally good person. If someone is selectively good when they're getting everything they want, but monstrous when they don't, they are not a good person.  That's like saying a dog is tame because it only bites people when it's hungry or angry or the weather is bad or someone is wearing stripes.  After a while you've just got to admit that "well, it doesn't always bite" is not going to win it a Canine Good Citizen title.

It is not other people's job to make sure that demanding assholes always have everything they demand to keep them "good."  If they were actually a good person, they would be good even when they were slightly inconvenienced.
I hear and feel his movements as he climbs in behind me. Of course he’s strapped me in so tightly I can’t move round to see him… typical! We are very low on the ground. In front of me is a panel of dials and levers and a big stick thing. I leave well alone.
I know that this is actually just E.L. James being too lazy to research, but it comes off as Ana being incredibly incurious and passive.  I mean, I don't know a damn thing about flying, but I would at least want to know which indicators were for speed and altitude.  It's hard for me to like a character who writes off 99% of her surroundings as "probably something technical or whatever."
We head west, inland away from the rising sun, gaining height, crossing over fields and woods and homes and I-95. Oh my. This is amazing, above us only sky.
Well, I should hope so.  You're in a goddamn plane.  If there's something else above you, you need to be very concerned about that.
“See the joy-stick in front of you?” he shouts again. I look at the stick that is moving slightly between my legs. Oh no, where’s he going with this? “Grab hold.” Oh shit. He’s going to make me fly the plane. No! “Go on, Anastasia. Grab it,” he urges more vehemently. Tentatively, I grasp it and feel the pitch and yaw of what I assume are rudders and paddles or whatever keeps this thing in the air.
Stick between her legs, tee hee hee.

Really, "rudders or paddles or whatever?"

And man, why can't anything ever be fun?  This ought to be awesome, right?  She's getting to fly a glider!  That's totally sweet!  Except that the framing is all about her being terrified and going "no no no," and him not giving her a choice.  Can't we ever just enjoy anything in this book?
[They land uneventfully, which I guess is a good thing, but in terms of writing, it's kind of a "god forbid anything should actually happen" thing.] As soon as I’m out, he grabs me and holds me flush against his body. Suddenly his hand is in my hair, tugging it so my head tips back, and his other hand travels down to the base of my spine. He kisses me, long, hard, and passionately, his tongue in my mouth. His breathing is mounting, his ardor … Holy cow – his erection… we’re in a field.
Holy cow, we're in a field!  Holy horse, we're in a barn!  Holy guinea pig, we're in a box of wood shavings!
“Breakfast,” he whispers, making it sound deliciously erotic.
I have another challenge for you.  After you're done spitting "eaTTT" at your computer, whisper "breakfast" erotically.  Try it.  This will be fun.
[They go to IHOP. Erotically.] “I know what I want,” he breathes, his voice low and husky. I glance up at him, and he’s staring at me in that way that tightens all the muscles in my belly and takes my breath away, his eyes dark and smoldering. Holy shit. I gaze at him, my blood singing in my veins answering his call. “I want what you want,” I whisper. He inhales sharply. “Here?” he asks suggestively, raising an eyebrow at me, smiling wickedly, his teeth trapping the tip of his tongue. Oh my… sex in IHOP. His expression changes, growing darker.
“Can I treat you?” I ask Christian. “Treat me how?” “Pay for this meal.” Christian snorts. “I don’t think so.” he scoffs. “Please. I want to.” He frowns at me. “Are you trying to completely emasculate me?”
This is completely unsurprising, but it's weird when you remember that this is a character we're supposed to like.

I bet you this scene won't be in the movie.  Come for the erotic romance!  Stay for the bickering about who pays for the Moons Over My Hammy!
Of course he doesn’t ask me for my mother’s address. He knows it already, stalker that he is. When he pulls up outside the house, I don’t comment. What’s the point?
You know what emotion is really romantic?  Resignation.  So hot.

[Ana goes home and finds out she got the publishing job she applied for a couple chapters ago. She's planning a barbecue with her family and Brisket DryRub, but of course he cancels at the last second.]
“I have to return to Seattle. Something’s come up. I am on my way to Hilton Head now. Please apologize to your mother – I can’t make dinner.” He sounds very businesslike. “Nothing serious, I hope?” “I have a situation which I have to deal with. I’ll see you Friday. I’ll send Taylor to collect you from the airport if I can’t come myself.” He sounds cold. Angry even. But for the first time, I don’t immediately think it’s me. [...] Oh no. The last ‘situation’ he had was my virginity . Jeez, I hope it’s nothing like that.
"I must go!  Someone, somewhere, hasn't had sex with me!"

...No, actually, that's an incredibly weird assumption to make because someone used the word "situation."  Although I can't entirely blame her for wild guessing, because of course he can't be arsed to actually tell her.

They exchange some pissy zero-content emails.  It's amazing how much page space you can fill when every one-line email has full headers and signatures.

Ana talks in her sleep apparently, and of course Meat WobbleSack won't tell her what she said, because everything's gotta be difficult around here.  Presumably it was "I love you," because he's being all cagey about it, but whatever.  The chapter kind of just ends at this point.

101 comments:

  1. Yay for RNs! Boo for Mr. StickOfNoJoy!

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  2. "Holy guinea pig, we're in a box of wood shavings!"

    This is glorious.

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  3. Congratulations on being an RN!!! Proud of you!

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  4. "This whole "men can't help themselves if sex is available" thing is awful, for both men and women, and patently untrue."

    Thank you for this. I wish we could kill this insulting trope once and for all.

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  5. --> ..."Elena" is foreign-sounding?

    I think it's another Britishism. Elena is a Slavic name, not common in the UK. In the US it's just another of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, etc, but in Britain it's foreign :)

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    1. I think it can also be a Spanish name, but yeah.
      Also, Christian's "flash sports car"-- isn't using "flash" to mean fancy or expensive a Britishism too?

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    2. I always think of Mama Elena from Like Water for Chocolate, which is Spanish.

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    3. Um not so much. *Brit waves* At least in my neck of the woods(colloquialism for local area) in the home counties (central southeast England, where the author is also form *shudders*) Elena is pretty common name and sounds indistinguishable from the traditional name Eleanor, it in no way sounds foreign to me or any Brit I've met. Usually "flashy" is expensive, "flash" is also toilet cleaning product :) (sorry if I've missed a joke) I vaguely remember it being meant to be set in the US I wonder if EL James was trying to sound american? We all know how great her research is...

      Totally different topic *woop* Cliff RN! Congrats :D so chuffed for you! Enjoy Geek Kink Event (if anyone knows of one of *those* in the UK, I'd be super interested :)

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    4. I dunno about the UK. But growing up on the west coast I knew 3 Elenas, plus an Alana and Elana (all pronounced just like Elena!) We had to go with nicknames and initials to keep everyone straight. So the whole "that sounds foreign" thing was one of the more ridiculous statements so far...

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    5. Another Brit here: I think it partly depends on pronunciation. To me, Elena (accent on the first syllable) could be an unusual spelling of Eleanor, which is quite common. Elena (accent on the second syllable) would sound a bit foreign - I would guess Spanish.

      My first thought, reading this, was that Elena is almost exactly as 'foreign-sounding' to me as, say, Anastasia.

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    6. Elena, from Russian "Елена", pronounced "Jeljena" is actually a slavic version of Helen.

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    7. she wanted a vampire name, so she named her after the wife of the romanian communist dictator? that would be uncaractheristically much research...

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    8. IIRC (it's been a while), the original Mrs. Robinson was Irina, one of the vampire sisters from Denali, and not a common name in the US. Only details explicitly "Twilight" were pulled, so that sentence stayed in, even if it doesn't make as much sense anymore.

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  6. I know that this is actually just E.L. James being too lazy to research, but it comes off as Ana being incredibly incurious and passive. I mean, I don't know a damn thing about flying, but I would at least want to know which indicators were for speed and altitude. It's hard for me to like a character who writes off 99% of her surroundings as "probably something technical or whatever."
    This is another problem with 50SoG-as-kink-porn: the hacker instinct is strong in kinky people (it's one of the reasons -- at this point, probably the main reason -- for the popularity of "pervertables"). Ana clearly doesn't have it. It is possible to be kinky without it, but it's rare, and it makes it (even) harder to believe that Ana is kinky.
    And I have a feeling E.L. James doesn't think Ana is kinky. She thinks it's sexy (I guess) to show a total innocent being thoroughly corrupted. And I don't think that's how it works.

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    1. That's a good point. Not every kinkster is geeky, but quite a lot of us, and the total ungeekiness of Ana and Viper GulpFish makes it even harder for me to recognize them as "my people!" the way I sometimes do when I see kinksters in the media. (Have you seen Rihanna's "S&M" video? I don't know about her, but whoever did these rope ties on her was definitely my people.)

      Hell, they don't even geek out over kink itself. Can you picture Glob WhaleMeat taking the time to learn knots, or the difference between thud and sting, or the risk of harness hang syndrome, or the psychology of humiliation? I can't. For all the fuss he made about his "training," he doesn't seem to know a flogger from a singletail. It's very disappointing. How am I supposed to care about his BDSM play when he doesn't even care?

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    2. Let's face it, if I were the romantic lead in this story, if Ana didn't get "corrupted" by BDSM, she'd probably come out of the relationship a huge Classic Who nerd or never, ever wanting to hear the word "Tardis" ever again. Either way I'd probably wind up telling her every bit of production trivia I know, which is a lot...

      (... I'm now imagining Time Lord-themed kinky roleplay. Which is hilarious, because Time Lords are very pretentious and you'd have to refer to the 'flogger of Rassilon' and such, and also because of those huge collars.)

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    3. Isn't the point of this story that Ana gets to have hot, kinky, depraved sex, but because she doesn't enjoy it or consent to it, she still gets to be a good person? If she happened to be the kinky sort, she wouldn't be good anymore, so we wouldn't be able to empathise with her. Because we, as delicate ladyfolk, absolutely must remain good at all costs, and we would resent a heroine who went against this way of living, which we have won with our sacrifice of hard work and self-denial. Or something.

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    4. I think that's also why she's so weird about "the fifteen"--because they were women who were actually kinky, there's something debased and disreputable about them, to the point where they barely count as people. It's a hell of a mindfuck to feel like the only acceptable way to want BDSM is to not want it.

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    5. Ugh... I'm starting to suspect that a lot of Ana's discomfort around the fifteen is that she feels like her boyfriend is tainted by association with them. God.

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    6. That explains Ana, and as for Christian, I assume the thought process was something along the lines of: But you can't show kinky people being geeky, especially not a dom! After all, they're rich, intimidating, damaged, and mysterious - just like vampires! And just like everyone's dream guy, right?!

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    7. I don't think it's okay that EL James portrays Ana as being so innocent and getting "corrupted" by BDSM, and I can see that Ana's lack of interest in things is supposed to make her seem more innocent, like a blank slate. But it is not every kinky person who has that hacker instinct. I have been kinky my whole life but I'm really not geeky at all, I don't have any kind of hacker instinct, I am pretty much the only one in my community who doesn't understand xkcd, and yes, I don't always feel like I belong because of this. Kinky doesn't always mean geeky. But I do agree that Ana's lack of interest in virtually anything gets annoying pretty fast.

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    8. Could you please elaborate on the "kinky hacker instinct"? I ask because I'm planning some erotic fiction of my own, and some of my characters are kinksters. (N.B.: it's not set in modern Earth, so modern-day geekiness won't apply.)

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    9. I think of it as ... well, kink is like hacking sex. We all get ready-made sex from the factory, and it comes in a few varieties to account for different mixes of genitalia. A number of people (most? I'm generalizing from me and the people I hang with, which, selection bias holy fuck) feel that the ready-made sex doesn't work for them. Some sigh and resign themselves; some set about tinkering with it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the sort of people who dig tinkering generally are going to massively overlap with the sort of people who tinker in this specific area.

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    10. Aug 16 anon: Not every kinky person is also geeky, but the combination is common enough that if someone is kinky, the instinct will be conspicuous by its absence -- especially in fiction, which relies a lot more on conventions and personality types than real life (which, after all, is stranger) does.

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  7. I laughed so hard at the "holy cow" joke I choked.
    A.

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  8. My acting coach says I need to work on being more seductive. Maybe I should walk into my next class and just say "Eat breakfast" all sexfully.

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    1. I'm not sure even Lauren Bacall could manage that.

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    2. Well, she died this week so you're not wrong.

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  9. Damn, these recaps are amazing. The erotic breakfast had me laughing loudly all by my lonesome. You, sir, are hilarious.

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  10. First I've heard of GKE (this is what comes of not hanging out with PB folk all the time) so I'm past ticket deadline, but it sounds like an awesome time.

    And congrats on the RN!

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  11. This is amazing, above us only sky.

    Imagine that.

    I don't know how you managed to read this book. I would have been ready to throw it into the Schuylkill River after about the hundredth chorus of "Holy crap", "Holy Fuck", etc.

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    1. This has to be a John Lennon reference though right? "No hell below us / above us only sky"

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    2. Ooh, good catch.

      And very E.L. Jamesy to change the context from "there is no God, we are only accountable to each other" to "literally, there's a sky there, because we're outdoors."

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    3. In my head I read that line singing but it made no sense in context, so I'm still not sure if it was intentional. Maybe the author just thought putting in a song lyric would sound pretty or something.
      A.

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    4. "Song fic" and dropping lyrics in where they make only the most tenuous amount of sense is quite common in shit fanfic.

      However, most of the other shit fanfic writers who I've seen do this have been about 12-15 years old. I did it at that age, because I thought it was a cool and innovative thing to do and didn't realise that soundtracks only really work on film...
      No idea what ELJ's excuse is.

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  12. If there isn't yet fan fiction of Clonk ButtSoup's "The Fifteen" and the "Seven Evil Exes" from Scott Pilgrim hanging out and swapping stories I might have to write it myself. I can't help but associate the two for obvious reasons and good lord if somebody deserves to explode into Mario coins from an epic punch, its this guy.

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    1. The Twenty-Two Disposables. It's a superhero team dedicated to the rescue and care of those casually dehumanized to make way for protagonists.

      Every time Superman or Batman knocks over a building to fight the bad guy and doesn't care who else it falls on, the Twenty-Two Disposables are there, evacuating civilians.

      Every time an action hero punches out a security guard and walks on by without even looking down to see if he's breathing, the Twenty-Two Disposables are there, treating his wounds.

      Every time a romantic comedy character realizes they were part of the "hilariously bad dates before meeting The One" montage, the Twenty-Two Disposables are there, if only for emotional support.

      ...Yeah, we could work with this.

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    2. I'd read that comic book, and re-buy it in TPB, and see the movie.

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    3. Someone did write a fic with one of the fifteen come to rescue Ana:

      http://twispitefic.livejournal.com/55349.html

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    4. Oh, for that fic, TW for mentions of rape, abuse, injury, and pretty much everything else that Christian Grey does.

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    5. That fic ^ OMG that was so good! They managed to make Ana into a complex, likeable and still true-to-the-book character in a story short enough to read in 10 minutes!

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    6. Oh that sound amazing, someone write that!
      A.

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    7. [Comic Book Geek] Please! Batman and Superman care about civilians.

      Okay, Henry Cavill!Kal-El didn't, but that's just evidence that Man of Steel was an awful, awful rendition of Superman. [/Comic Book Geek]

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  13. I am delurking to heartily endorse this story idea. I freaking love it. Especially this part:

    Every time Superman or Batman knocks over a building to fight the bad guy and doesn't care who else it falls on, the Twenty-Two Disposables are there, evacuating civilians.

    I am so goddamn sick of watching movies in which entire cities are laid to waste without any actual acknowledgement of the (at minimum) tens of thousands of people who must have just died. I mean what the actual fuck?

    Anyway, I love this idea and support it whole heartedly and congrats on the RN. You rock and these recaps are great.

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    1. Geek note to Peaches: That's pretty much why Douglas Adams wrote the sperm whale character in 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy'. In that case he was watching a cop show with people getting shot, not a superhero movie, but the principle was the same - people got KILLED, and the programme didn't show anybody else spending ten seconds expressing regret or sadness or anything over this. He said he decided he was bloody well going to have a go at writing a character whose sole function would be to get killed for the sake of a small plot detail, and he'd make the audience care about the character even if none of the other characters in the show did.

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    2. To your point, Peaches, I think its particularly sad that *Superman* of all characters - the super hero so traditionally morally upstanding that he's been mocked with the moniker "big blue boy scout" - is now so firmly associated with mass-scale urban destruction and implied death thanks to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. I don't think that stories should completely halt themselves to mourn the deaths of background characters, but a few touches of humanization can go a long way. The way that Rose Tyler learns the name of one of the janitors before said janitor gets killed on the space station she and The Doctor are on in the second episode of the first season of modern Doctor Who is a good example of this.

      On the blockbuster film front, at least Pacific Rim made a point of showing the robots and their pilots saving a fishing boat from a giant monster attack as well as people safely hiding out in an underground evacuation shelter during the one major action scene not taking place in open waters. All of which is pretty humane in comparison to the kind of casualties that protagonists are responsible for in the kind of giant robot anime that the movie's partially inspired by.

      Either way, I'm on team Twenty-Two Disposables.

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    3. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY SPOILERS AHEAD, ALTHOUGH I AM AS NON-SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE

      I think The Avengers showed the heroes trying to get civilians to safety, and I know that Guardians of the Galaxy showed scenes of people being shielded and evacuated before the big climax.

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    4. I always liked how Dragon Ball Z, of all things, always had the heroes insisting on going out to the middle of nowhere to fight.

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    5. Well, when the source material is a comic that was drawn weekly, it benefits the artist a LOT to move the lengthy fight scenes to the most barren environment possible.

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  14. Woo!! Nice work on the RN!! And have a blast at the con. I'm so addicted to these. And your Cosmockings should literally be required course reading somewhere.

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  15. Congratulations on the RN! and for getting this far with 50 Shades of Grot. Well done!

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    Replies
    1. I now want someone to write 50 Shades of Groot.

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    2. Oh my god, with Rocket as a sub? JUST DIED OF TERMINAL SQUEE, DO NOT RESUSCITATE.

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  16. So I spent ten minutes trying to say eat breakfast in a seductive way that resulted in half an hour of giggling by the roomies. I feel like these characters have no real sense of humour because let me tell you that's impossible to say without laughing at the ridiculousness of it.

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    Replies
    1. When I eat breakfast, it typically involves zombie-like shuffles to the coffee pot, mostly successful efforts to navigate spoonfuls of granola and yogurt to the correct face-hole, bed-head, and communication by grunting. And I'm wearing sweatpants and a tank top with Insomniac Cthulhu on it. My boo thinks it's cute, but erotic? No.

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  17. It actually amazes me how awful she is at writing. There are lots of great fan fic writers! Why publish this one!

    BUT more importantly: Congratulations Cliff!!! I would feel better to have you helping me, if you were my nurse.

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    Replies
    1. After pooh-poohing James' writing, that last sentence turned into a weird one. It was supposed to mean that I think you're caring and great, so your help would be really nice to have.

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    2. He's never been mean to me. And you can't really talk if you think misgendering people is an okay way to behave.

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    3. When you say that Cliff was cruel to your sister for being autistic, do you mean that Cliff used ableist slurs against her or mocked her for the autism? Or do you mean that your sister behaved badly and was called out by Cliff, but your sister thinks that she ought to be excused because she's an autist and that supposedly means that she can't help behaving badly? There's a really important distinction here, you know.

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  18. I wonder when Disney will buy this idea out. I like Star Wars better.
    Ana struck me as being the kind of person who, once she got to the edge of the high dive platform, could not dive and could not back down the ladder she climbed. So she seeks out people who can push her or carry her forcibly back down the ladder. But maybe that's just because I couldn't read the book in it's entirety.

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  19. "You know, sometimes it’s great being me,"

    UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH.

    He sounds like he was imported from a bad 80s snobs vs slobs movie. Is he going to close a rec center or a summer camp for underprivileged kids?

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  20. And now I'm triply disappointed to not be able to go to GKENE this year, now that I know you're going. Finances, whyyyyyyy. Though I should say, it's a really nice event that I can't recommend enough. Last year was pretty awesome and I had a great time.

    "Why is he waking me? It’s the middle of the night, or so it feels. Holy shit. Does he want sex – now?"

    Am I the only one who read this as "oh, no, does he want sex now?" Because that's the way it feels. Not "yay, sex!" but "why is he waking me up? clearly he must want sex!". Like she assumes everything related to him is about sex (see the "if he says 'situation' he must be having sex" thing).

    I almost wonder if it's because the only thing they have between them *is* sex, so she assumes that everything he does is sexual, even if logically it really isn't. Like a lack of sexual object permanence.

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  21. You know, for a long time I thought that, as this was Twilight fanfiction, Ana and Christian would have the same attitudes toward kink as Bella and Edward did toward being a vampire. That doesn't seem to be happening though. I mean, if that were the case, Christian would feel like it was wrong to be into it, be worried about hurting Ana because of it, and try to make sure Ana wasn't involved. Ana would be all "No, it isn't a bad thing, and I trust you not to hurt me. I really want to do it with you!" Admittedly Christian would somehow be forced into introducing Ana to kink (I have no idea how that would work), but I still feel like it would be a better dynamic overall.

    If I got anything wrong, sorry about that. I read Twilight a long time ago.

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    Replies
    1. No, you're right. The thing about Fifty Shades is that it's not even *good* Twilight fic in terms of characterization. Ana and Christian have all of Edward and Bella's worst traits, turned up to eleven, and none of their positive qualities.

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    2. Original anon here: Yeah, I mean, it's good enough that I could tell who all of the characters in this were based on (except for Mrs. Robinson, who I'm still confused about), but there are a lot of things that don't match up. It's possibly even weirder if you assume that the kink in 50 Shades isn't actually supposed to be the stand-in for vampires. Didn't Bella try to convince Edward to have sex with her for quite a while before they actually did? She wasn't nearly as clueless as Ana is, and Christian is pretty much the opposite of Edward in that respect.

      Actually, the more I think about it the weirder it seems. Christian pushes for both sex and BDSM, to the point of pretty much telling Ana she has to get involved in it if she wants a relationship with him. Edward spends a lot of time trying to convince Bella to not become a vampire, and he doesn't even want to try having sex with her because he's worried he'll hurt her.

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    3. Wait, maybe we're all misinterpreting it! Maybe it's actually an AU where BELLA was the vampire/Dom and EDWARD was the mortal/sub!

      Delete
    4. The one thing that's similar is that Edward was stalking and controlling too... Also, he would tell Bella over and over again that he COULD easily kill her and was TEMPTED to do so, but he didn't kill her because he was such a good guy. And she took responsibility upon herself not to provoke him too much. So yeah. Their relationship was quite abusive in that respect.

      But you're right, the sex thing is different. Also, what's so weird about Twilight and sex is that Edward gives a good reason as to why they shouldn't have sex, which is that he's got super strength and would hurt her by accident. But once they're married, having sex is suddenly okay, despite the fact that Bella is STILL NOT A VAMPIRE and thus STILL NOT INVULNERABLE. That was weird as hell.

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    5. I think it's a good Twilight fanfic, actually. I mean, Edward is pushy and dominating, and Bella is submissive. If the intent of FSoG was to show explicitly how what happens in Twilight is Rape Culture, and how Edward would treat Bella if he didn't happen to be against sex outside marriage ... I mean, it's two sides of the same coin, isn't it? Bella's body is owned by Edward, therefore she cannot have sex, and Ana's body is owned by Face KnuckleTarget, so she can't NOT have sex. Of course, being forced to NOT have sex is better than being raped, but it all stems from misogyny; the notion that women's bodies are not our own.

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    6. Original Anon again:

      Dvärghundspossen - That's true, so it isn't entirely different. I guess it was mainly just that I thought the attitudes towards kink were supposed to be a parallel to something Twilight. You're right that the relationship in Twilight was still pretty bad though. Admittedly, I read it when I was probably 12 or 13, so I don't remember all of it.

      That definitely was weird, and I have no explanation other than that symbolism was apparently more important than logic.

      Anon at 7:15 - I mainly agree, except I'm not entirely sure about the idea that Edward not wanting them to have sex means that he feels he owns Bella's body. I do think other parts of the book do point at that, but that in itself doesn't. I mean, if I told someone I was dating that I didn't want us to have sex, that's not because I'm trying to control them, it's because I don't want to and I have the right to choose when and with whom I have sex. Edward has the same right. In a monogamous relationship, if someone doesn't want to have sex, yes that does mean the other person isn't allowed to have sex with anyone, but that's obviously much better than the person who doesn't want to have sex feeling like they have to. Now, if you're arguing against monogamy, then that makes a bit more sense, but otherwise... No, Edward is under no obligation to sleep with Bella, because while he does not own her body, he does own his, and his body would obviously be involved, so he has veto power here. That's not misogyny, that's a basic right of everyone.

      Delete
    7. There's also a difference between Twilight and FSoG. Besides the whole bit about some aspects of Twilight obviously not being possible in the real world and FSoG arguably being possible, or at least parts of it. Or, well, partly related to that. Vampires don't exist, while BDSM is actually practiced in the real world. In Twilight, however, Bella doesn't really have a problem with Edward being a vampire. Ana, however, has a problem with Christian being dominant (or, at least, his window dressing) and very clearly looks down upon anybody who is kinky. And, if I'm getting the details I've heard about the last book right, eventually "cures" him. Without getting into any of the abuse stuff, that's...problematic as fuck, to put it mildly. And it's always bugged me.
      Not going to argue that Twilight isn't bad in other ways, but I feel like it got this part much, much better than this series did.
      Sorry to bring this up again, but this change squicks the hell out of me.

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    8. Anonymous: I generally agree that it's definitely not wrong for someone to say in a relationship "sorry, you can't have sex with me, I want to wait until I get married". The weird thing about Twilight is that Edward says to Bella that he can't have sex with her for her own good, because it would harm her if they did it. And that's fine if you interpret it literally, as he literally has superpowers and she's literally NOT invulnerable as a human being, so it makes sense. But then they still have sex with her in human form after they get married, which makes the thing suddenly seem more symbolic than literal. And if it's a symbolic thing, if the man goes "no, I can't have sex with you, because that would taint your purity" or some shit like that, it seems misogynistic. So IDK. It's weird, is all I can say.

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  22. Congratulations on becoming an RN, Cliff!!!

    A word of advice (that will obviously come way to late for anyone reading this post): Do NOT read while at work. It's painfully awkward having to explain to your boss why you're laughing until you can't breathe. (It was the IHOP bit that did me in.) ;-)

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  23. Comradde PhysioProffeAugust 15, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    Congrats on the RN!!!

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  24. Has it occurred to you that maybe those 14 other woman are actually completely fictitious and that he just made them up because he doesn't want to sound like a creep that doesn't know the difference between BDSM and abuse?

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    Replies
    1. Well, we get confirmation that one of them, Leila, exists in book 2, although christ what he must have done to her was horrible because her mind appears to be completely broken.

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  25. OK, reporting back on the results of the Enunciate Boringly Common Words Sexily challenge:

    1. Saying the 't' sound in 'Eat' while caressing palate with tongue can certainly be done without spitting, but does produce a bizarre stutter which made me think of malfunctioning robots.

    2. Trying to say 'Breakfast' seductively came out sounding really creepy. I don't mean in the sex creep sense, but in the horror movie sense. It put me in mind of Lurch saying 'You rang?' (Now that I think about it, it sounded more like a Lurch 'You rang?' than what I managed when I last *tried* to imitate Lurch saying 'You rang?')

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  26. "I just realized that I have no idea what Arousal SexBerry looks like. I mean, obviously he looks like Robert Pattinson in white greasepaint, but we're not supposed to know that. All we know from the book is he's got gray eyes and messy red hair, and he's tall."

    My friend and I are Oingo Boingo fans...as soon as we got to the "tousled copper hair" part, we both automatically pictured 80's Danny Elfman.

    Can't decide if that's better or worse than Rob Pattinson in grease paint. (Better because Elfman was hot as hell, or worse because now my brain links him to Pissy McDouchecanoe.)

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  27. After a few tries, I think I got "breakfast" to work.

    Also, too, congratulations.

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  28. OK, so actually saying "eat" while caressing the soft palate is not really possible, but saying "eat" in a way that is both dominant and somewhat caressing in tone *is* possible. And probably what she meant. But, you know, writing skills. I'm not sure you can actually say 'breakfast' erotically though.

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  29. On the upside, as soon as you said, "Forced eating. Murder reference," my mind went to Hannibal and Abel Gideon being forced to eat his own leg. So in comparison, this is all much less abusive :D

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    Replies
    1. Haha, that has to be the best "pro"-FSoG argument ever: "See, Dick PunchWorthy is much less abusive than Hannibal the Cannibal!"... who at least has no illusions about being a serial killer. And, who has style, too.

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  30. Breakfast? with raised eyebrow. Alternatively, gesture toward an indulgent breakfast you've already staged in an intimate venue. Announce breakfast with a desultory/self-depreacting inflection, but a sultry alto or baritone voice.

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  31. Interestingly, what most disturbed me in this chapter was the interaction over the music. Ana wants the music turned down, and she knows enough by now to realize she can't simply go, "Hey, could you please lower the volume a little?" or any similar variant. I mean, just asking is the typical way to solve this problem, and it's always worked well for me with a wide range of people. But now, she knows enough not to feel safe requesting even something so trivial as slightly lower volume on the music. So, instead she switches songs. She takes some form of control. As if she knows that showing any initiative, even something so minor as picking which song to play - that doing anything to get herself something that she wants while around him - will lead to him reacting to take power back and make sure she can't just have what she wants. And sure enough, she correctly understands him, and he reacts by lowering the volume. If she had actually wanted to listen to the song that would have been annoying (at least if she liked the high volume), but she's smart enough now to hide what she truly wants from him so she can better protect her interests.

    Or, at least, that's how it reads to me. And that's just so incredibly sad and messed up. It's that sort of everyday, subtle interaction that really drives home how utterly horrible this relationship is. She can't even enjoy some music with her boyfriend. No, he ruins absolutely everything for her.

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  32. "Holy guinea pig, we're in a box of wood shavings!" gave me a nice chuckle, which is more than can be said for the actual book at any point.

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  33. You know you've come inured to the horror of 50SoG when the worst thing you can do is think, "But Moons Over My Hammy is a Denny's menu item!!"

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  34. You know, a lot about the tea conversation read to me like it's imported from a much better book. Most of it read to me like witty banter from a cute couple in love, with the tea bit like "he even remembers how exactly I like my tea!" after being wonderful in many other ways.
    And then I remember what book this is actually from. A book in which the male lead is not in any way wonderful, where there is no witty banter between lovers, and no fun ever, only misery. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. Well, unless you stop reading after the first one, maybe?
    Also, I could have sworn that the one lady's name was Therese. So I was getting disproportionately excited about the possibilities of a crossover with Phantasmagoria 2 because the name of the boundary-crossing dominant lady was the same for both. But, alas, her name is apparently Elena. I'm very sad now.
    Also, I still really want an AU where Christian's an incubus. Everything would make so much sense. And Kate's a demon hunter and saves Ana and teaches her how to be a demon hunter too and then they kiss and stuff? And then it could like...have a crossover with Twenty-Two Disposables. Or something. I haven't quite gotten it figured out yet.

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    Replies
    1. Well, there was this? http://archiveofourown.org/works/608134

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    2. I think that you should write that as FSoG fanfiction, then file the serial numbers off of it and get it published as a mainstream novel.

      I, for one, would totally read it.

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  35. Hi Cliff!
    This is totally unrelated to the FSoG post, I just wanted to ramble at you for a minute, and thank you for running a nice blog that includes poly stuff.
    Years ago I read some fanfic that had a triad in it, and I thought: "That sounds great, it sounds like exactly how I'd like to live my life, but this is just fic-land, where everything is sweet and possible. I'd never have that." Then after getting to 24 without ever having a relationship with anyone else, I thought my ideal relationship would be having some housemates who would hug me of an evening. They could do their own things romantically, sexually, whatever they liked. I would just like regular hugs.
    Then I found out about asexuality and after dithering for a while I realised I was ace, and met up with some lovely ace people. One of them introduced me to pervocracy for cosmocking, but I stayed around for the talk of kink and polyamory. I realised that polyamory is a thing that people do, and I was so relieved. Now I'm dating two people from my local ace group. We have so many hugs, and we talk all the time about boundaries and expectations for the relationships.
    I'm extremely happy where I am relationship-wise at the moment, and a fair bit of that is due to you.
    So thank you, Cliff, for running an amusing and inclusive blog. You've made my life warmer.

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  36. "His breathing is mounting, his ardor … Holy cow – his erection… we’re in a field."

    Oh my God how did this get published.

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    Replies
    1. The pages are flipping, the weight... Holy cow – the editing... we're bestsellers.

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    2. What is this 'editing' of which you speak?

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    3. This part reads WAY better if you imagine the characters to be actual cows.

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  37. I found a copy of the original. Is anyone brave enough?

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/13430562/master_of_the_universe.pdf

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  38. I actually do "erotically whisper" breakfast on a regular basis, but only because my SO has a vore fetish that is basically always present when we have sex. Buuuuut I don't think I've ever said that in relation to actual real life breakfast.

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  39. This is the funniest thing I've come across. Thank you!

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