I Finally Read Ch. 5 of Fifty Shades of Grey. Be Grateful That You Didn’t

Chapter 5 is challenging my comedic ability: It’s not funny, it’s just dumb. Like Ana. Short version: Ana wakes up in Christian’s hotel room; they shower but not together; they eat breakfast and have awkward conversation; they make out in the elevator. To which I say ‘it’s about fucking time.’ I was beginning to think there wouldn’t be any anything (and by anything I mean ‘sex and its related activities’).

Sooo…Chapter 5. Yeah. Ana wakes up hung over in a strange room and is not one bit worried about this fact. Instead she gazes around the room grinning like a lobotomized orangutan, enjoying its delightful strangeness. Cue the eye rolling. Because that’s what always happens when you wake up hung over in a strange place. You might expect that Ana would wonder where she is, or how she got there, but not our Ana. Poor special Ana. No wonder Christian keeps backing off. He’s trying to determine if she even has the legal capacity to consent to sex (I’m not convinced that she does).

Suddenly the hamster that powers Ana’s brain starts running again because she realizes that this is Christian’s hotel room.  Then she puts the pieces together and realizes this is not just Christian’s hotel room, but also Christian’s bed! And she has no pants! Now she is worried.

Ana then finds Advil and a glass of orange juice on the nightstand and immediately thinks, “What a control freak!” Oh sweetie, normal people call this “thoughtfulness”. You may not have heard of it. I can’t help but wonder if Ana was raised in a laboratory, with a Real Doll as a mother substitute because she doesn’t seem to understand how normal human interactions work. I get that R. L. James is setting up the whole dominant/submissive thing but its sooo heavy handed. She just shoves it into places where it doesn’t fit (hehehe that’s what she said).

Christian appears in the bedroom fresh from a workout and the crappy couple talk awkwardly about last night. Christian threatens spankings all around. “If you were mine…” he says. Your what? Your daughter? Blech. It’s supposed to be erotic, but it comes off like this:

And then comes the part where I almost cheered out loud: Ana finally figures out what all those funny feelings “down there” are all about – sexual desire. And she did it all on her own! I’m so proud of her. She’s all grown up now. *Sniff* With that, Ana’s subconscious does a happy dance in a bright red hula skirt. You heard me. Those actual words appear in this book. They made it past the editor _and_ the proof reader. Apparently Ana’s subconscious is a very busy bunch of ladies.

Christian then threatens to beat up Jose for no real reason, and Ana tells him he is very disciplinarian. Again with the heavy handed foreshadowing. Oy Vey, it’s annoying! Moving right along: Christian showers, Ana showers, they have breakfast. During breakfast Christian asks normal friendly questions which Ana characterizes as The Christian Grey Inquisition.  She gets ridiculously offended. I would too, if somebody asked me rude, intrusive questions like, “Do you have any plans for this week?” or “Would you like to work for my company?” Christian Grey you are such a prying ass!

Christian tells Ana that he won’t touch her ‘that way’ until he has her consent in writing. Considering  Ana’s intellectual capacity, that’s probably for the best. Ana agrees to come back tonight and find out just what he means by that. Christian then calls his assistant, saying he’ll need Charlie Tango. Ana wonders who Charlie Tango is. Face, meet palm. She’s never heard of the NATO phonetic alphabet? You know: Alfa, Bravo, Charlie? Ringing any bells? Nothing? Sigh.

Ana is amazed to find out that Christian has a helicopter. He’s supposedly stinking rich, so of course he has a helicopter, stupid. But then, Ana is also amazed when his employees do what he tells them to. And she says so. Out loud. In a line straight out of the Simpsons, he tells her that he can be ‘very persuasive.’ I imagine him saying, “Awww come on…leave town. I’ll be your friend. Awww…You’re mean!” I’m not sure, but I don’t think that’s what E. L. James had in mind.

They finish breakfast, and Ana goes to dry her hair. In the bathroom she brushes her teeth with Christian’s toothbrush. Eeeewww! Who does that? But even grosser: why did she wait this long to brush her teeth?! That whole time she’s been wafting vomitty morning breath onto Christian?! She’s like Ke$ha lite. Or ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Ke$ha’ even. Bleh!

Finally, Christian escorts her into the elevator where hilarity ensues. Once inside he shouts, “Fuck the paperwork,” and they make out like awkward 16 year olds until the elevator stops to pick up more passengers. “You brushed your teeth,” he says (sexfully). Oh Christian, you silver-tongued devil! I practice basic hygiene? Sexy, sexy basic hygiene?! I’m yours!

We’re on a roll here folks! Maybe someday they’ll have actual factual sex. Or something. Maybe in Chapter 6? One can only hope. And sigh. Lots of sighing.

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I Read Ch. 4 of 50 Shades of Grey

So, remember where we left off in Chapter 3? Yeah me neither. Let’s look…Oh yes. That. Christian has saved Ana from falling into traffic, and she’s in his arms, lips puckered cartoon-style, and then…Chapter 4.

Christian closes his eyes and…shakes his head no. Then he launches into a soap opera style, “It’s not you, its me…” thing, and pushes her away. Ana’s ‘head swims’ from the confusion. It does this a lot. It must be very fit.

Chapter 4 has events, but they manage to feel, well, uneventful. First and most importantly no one mentions the ‘gay incident’: its the non-event I’ve been waiting for! Short version: Ana leaves, cries, writes exams and then goes to bar. Christian shows up and Ana passes out. There’s no sex.

Much more excruciating long version: Christian sends Ana off by wishing her luck on her exams. She’ll need it (she’s a bit special). Ana then ‘disappears down the sidewalk.’ Disappears?  Is she magic? Did she activate her teleport watch? She rematerializes inside the carpark where she falls in a heap and cries. Eventually Ana gets her sh!t together and drives home, although I don’t know why she doesn’t just teleport.

Kate asks her how ‘coffee’ went, as Ana doesn’t like coffee. Again with the literal coffee-ness? I cannot believe that there are two people alive in the continental U.S. who do not understand the social construct known as the coffee date. Is it because E. L. James is British? Is the coffee date not a thing in the U.K.? How did these two naifs find each other? Sigh.

We then fast forward a week, and see Ana and Kate finish their last exam. They drive back to their apartment where they find a parcel addressed to Ana. Ana is surprised, because she hasn’t ordered anything from Amazon lately. See? She’s got the internet. So there’s no excuse for her being so naive: the internet knows everything. The package turns out to be a ridiculously expensive first edition set of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. There’s no return address, but it’s pretty clearly from Mr. Grey, and it contains another cryptic warning for Ana. It could only be creepier if it was all magazine-clipped letters like a ransom note. Nothing says hot lovin’ like self-loathing psychopathy!

Our two special ladies then head off to the bars for some college-student drunkiosity. Ana tells us she has never been drunk. And she made it all the way through college? Was she raised by the Duggars? It really would explain a lot. She mentions that Jose won’t graduate for another year, but he comes to the bar anyway. O! M! G! He’s drinking and it’s not a major life milestone? I think you’d better stage an intervention!

This is where the only mildly amusing thing so far happens. Ana has drunk a lot. She decides she’d better slow down, and orders a pitcher of beer. Geddit? Watery American beer? It’s like not drinking at all! Haw Haw!

Ana then staggers to the bathroom and decides that a drunken, harassing phone call to Christian Grey is just the thing to pass the time while waiting for a stall to free up. She takes the Wiz, then goes to order the pitcher of beer. Feeling ill (poor thing, she must have caught that MacGuffin that Kate had in Chapter 1) she heads outside for some fresh air. Jose follows her out for some more drunken harassment, at which point they are set upon by, you guessed it! Christian Grey, who has found Ana by tracing her cell phone. Totally not creepy!

Ana then vomits at length all over the parking lot. See? She didn’t need Grey. Two more minutes and the Jose situation would have dealt with itself. Christian then tells her sternly that he is all about pushing limits (he actually uses those words. (His real secret is that he used to be a valley girl. (I just used triple nested brackets. Ha! You can’t stop me!))), but that being drunk in public is beyond the pale. Really? Seriously? We’re supposed to believe that he’s some kind of S&M god, but drinking offends his delicate sensibilities? I’m holding my hands together to form a big W, because WHATEVER.

Also at this point, Ana’s subconscious is, ‘tutting and glaring at me over her half-moon glasses.’ Wait. Her subconscious is Professor McGonagall?

Okaaaay…I’d assumed you had to be smarter to attend Hogwarts, but it does explain the disappearing.

Ana and Christian go back inside the bar for a round of drunken, stumbly dancing in a cloud of vomitty halitosis, and then they head for home, whereupon Ana faints spectacularly. Before she passes out she manages to be shocked that Kate is on the floor dancing. With a guy she doesn’t even know! Quelle horreur! And on that scandalous note Chapter 4 mercifully ends.

What wonders await in Chapter 5? Not sex, I’m told. So likely it’s more tedious confusion and needless scandalizing. See what I do for you?

 

The Girl Who’s Seen Too Much Reads Ch. 3 of 50 Shades of Grey

Er. Mah. Gerd. Chapter 3.  There is nothing funny to say about Chapter 3. It’s crappy, yet lame*. Send it back to the chef, I think he put too much lame in it. First off, this is the worst porn ever. I’m fifty pages in and there is still no sex. I want my money back; I’ve been mizzled**. Whoever called this mommy porn has never seen/read any actual factual porn. Because 50 pages and no sex. This is all pretty tame really. But maybe its just me; maybe I’ve seen too much?

Chapter 3 opens with Ana hiding in the stockroom and calling Kate on her cell phone to set up the photo shoot. The boss’s brother, Paul, walks in and suggests Ana might want to work, or something. It’s a good thing he’s in love with Ana (we’re told), because in the real world Ana would be very fired by now. Hiding in the stock room doesn’t even make sense in the context of the story, because we established in chapter 2 that she makes her own hours, and sets her own duties. Why wouldn’t she make her own ‘call whoever I want on my cell phone at work’ rules?

The actual action of this chapter involves setting up the photo shoot and executing it. ZZzzzzz. These are valuable life-seconds I’ll never get back. Ana calls Christian to confirm a time for the appointment while her roommate chants, “Ana and Christian sittin’ in a tree…” Ok, she doesn’t. But pretty damn close: It seems like the kind of conversation 13 year-olds have. And I have a 13 year old, so I can attest to this personally.

Christian then has his driver take everyone back to school so he can get his freak on with Ana. No. Not really. They walk to a coffee shop and have polite conversation. Ana agonizes again about the gay thing, and muses that she is going to need therapy around the issue. I wish E. L. James would f*cking drop this already, it’s getting annoying. Why is everyone such a GD homophobe? If this happens in chapter 4, I swear I am going to put this book in the blender.

The chapter very nearly almost ends on a high note as Ana falls into traffic (Yes! Yes!) and Christian sweeps her into his arms (crap). Then this happens (Here I quote directly from the book. Avert your eyes if you are faint of heart):

“And for the first time in twenty-one years, I want to be kissed.”

WTF?! What. The. F*ck. Double, no triple, interrobang. Ana’s 21 and has never, ever had any kind of sexual feelings for anybody ever? Just how old _is_ E.L. James? Does she remember being 21? Wait here while I google it…ok I’m back. She’s 49. Maybe she doesn’t remember. In any case, I might be persuaded to purchase this particular nugget of bullsh!t for a dollar if Ana was 15. But she’s 21. Have I said that already? 21.

Which leads me to a revelation. All through reading Fifty Shades of Grey something seemed a little off, and it took me until this chapter to figure it out. Fifty Shades of Grey reads like a YA novel. A dirty, filthy YA novel. Only without the filth. Consider: Ana also tells us no one has ever held her hand. Not her innocent grade 3 crush? Not her mom when she was crossing the road? WhatEVAH!  Consider further: there’s not much swearing: Ana says ‘crap’ and ‘double crap’ even inside her own head. And also ‘Oh my’…I mention this because every time she thinks it, this is what I hear:

Sure it’s sexy, but I don’t think it’s what the author was going for. In any case the language and diction, and also the repetitiveness says, ‘written for a younger audience’ to me. Someone ought to be offended by this.

On the stupid front, Ana has a brief moment of panic because Christian has invited her for coffee and she doesn’t like coffee. Come on! She’s that literal? At 21? How did she even get into university? I really think I’m on to something with my ‘raised by monks theory’. How else could she possibly not know that going for coffee means going to a coffee shop and ordering the beverage of your choice? Excuse me while I extract my palm from my face. It’d gotten pretty deeply imbedded there.

Something I haven’t mentioned, but should do: for some reason every time Ana and Christian touch hands, there’s a staticky zappy thing that happens. A sexy staticky zappy thing. It’s a sort of physical instantiation of the ‘whenever we touch it’s electric’ thing but it happens so often that I want to pencil in one of these jigs ^ and write in, “Ana makes a mental note to buy some dryer sheets.” All you aspiring writers out there: less really can be more.

And that’s chapter 3. Srsly. That’s it. Aren’t you glad you aren’t reading it?

*I stole this from South Park. I credit my stolen jokes.

**Misled. I think we all know somebody who pronounces it ‘mizzled.’

I Read Ch. 2 of Fifty Shades of Grey

The beginning of Chapter 2 has Ana nearly falling out of the elevator and staggering out of the building. She asks herself the question I was asking myself all through the last chapter: ‘What in heaven’s name was that all about?’ Yes. What *was* that all about? She’s so confused by her reaction to Christian that I wonder if she wasn’t raised in a secluded monastery by an order of silent ascetics. Seriously, has she never heard of the internet? It can clear up all her questions about those confusing feelings ‘down there’. Who needs ‘the talk’ when you have Google Image search?

Ana eventually manages to calm down and drives back to Vancouver. During the drive she rehashes the interview in her mind instead of paying attention to the road. She’s furious and ashamed that she asked Christian if he was gay. Again people, why U no like the gheys? Ana then realizes she’s driving cautiously because Christian told her to. In a tiny act of rebellion she decides she can drive as fast as she wants. No honey, sweetie, mitten pie, you can’t. We have something called speed limits that prevent that. You probably haven’t heard of those. What with the monk thing.

Next we learn that Anastasia works at a hardware store, although I’m just a little bit surprised she can hold a job, as she’s so easily confused, and has such a low tolerance for excitement. I mean, what if one of the customers was gay? I think she’d be stricken with the vapours, and spend the rest of the day being mortified on his or her behalf.

Ana shows up at said work after telling her supervisor she won’t be coming in, and then informs him she can work for a couple of hours. Yeaeeehhhh. Because that’s how it happens. And this is my wife, Morgan Fairchild. Yeah. That’s the ticket. It’s pretty clear that E.L. James has never worked a McJob, because you show up when they tell you to, or not at all. Ana then proceeds to stock shelves even though no one has told her to, a task she’s ‘totally absorbed’ in. I call bullshit. Stocking shelves is boring and mindless, you might describe it as ‘zen’ on a charitable day. Much the same way as you’d refer to your own screaming brats as ‘spirited’.

Then Christian, in a move that totally doesn’t say icky creeper, shows up at Ana’s workplace. Ana shows Christian around and wonders exaggeratedly what he could possibly be buying masking tape and zip ties for. I get the feeling here that the author is having trouble separating herself from her character. The author knows why, and has Ana fall all over herself in confusion and disbelief. For no real reason.

Because these purchases are not out of the ordinary at a hardware store.

For the record, I once had a pair of guys come through my checkout line with crowbars and balaclavas. And, you know what? I didn’t fall all over myself. I smiled and asked, “Big plans for tonight?” ‘Cuz that’s how it’s done.

Christian then turns all ice princess at one of Ana’s male acquaintances, and cashes out his purchases. To end off the chapter on a high note he tells Ana he would luurrrrvvv a photo session to go along with the interview if only Ana would set it up. And that’s all.

So again with the no sex. I really get the feeling that these chapters were tacked on later to set up the sweet, nougatty middle of kinky, kinky, sex. Because proper books don’t often dive right into the sex. But all it’s done is bore me. I’m not intrigued, or titillated. Really, the only joy I got out of this chapter was imagining that all Christian’s dialogue was being performed by Billy West doing his  Zapp Brannigan voice.

It’s a marked improvement, non?  In fact the whole thing is better if you imagine it voiced by the cast of Futurama. Any chance these guys will voice the audiobook? No, huh?

So, stay tuned as I slog onward through Chapter 3, where maybe there will be some of the aforementioned sex.

 

I Read Ch.1 of Fifty Shades of Grey

I did it: I made it through chapter one of Fifty Shades of Grey. For you, dear reader, only for you. And I didn’t throw it, or stab my eyes out. Sooo that’s good, right? For the purposes of full disclosure, I’ve never been a fan of romance novels. The last two books I read were Redshirts and Wonder, so that should give you an idea where I’m coming from. I was hoping for a few larfs out of this book at least, but all my hopes were in vain.

My thoughts went something like this:

Not much actually happens in chapter one. We meet the main characters, and they meet each other. Lit student Anastasia Steele is pushed into interviewing wealthy businessman, Christian Grey, by her journalist roommate, Kate, who has fallen ill with a bad case of MacGuffin. Ana bumbles through the interview with all the style and grace of Inspector Gadget, and yet at the end Grey hints at offering her an internship. Perhaps he’ll be paying her ‘some other way’?

We don’t find out much about Christian Grey except that he is loaded, and his staff are terrified of him. Also, he gasps melodramatically when asked if he is gay. He’s so obviously offended that Ana apologizes for asking. You get the feeling he might be having chest pains. Seriously. He’s supposed to be twenty-something right now. And he’s that mortified about teh gays? Dude, welcome to 2012.

And Anastasia Steele. Sigh. What should I say about her? The blurb on the back of the book calls her, “unworldly, innocent Ana…” but I think what they really mean is ditzy and scatterbrained. One paragraph in and Ana is already stupid. She’s having major hair drama – she has crazy hair because she washed it before bedtime and then slept on it. Why doesn’t she just wet it down? Why?

I’m left wondering if poor, special Ana isn’t in need of a diagnosis of some kind? She can’t keep her thoughts straight, and has trouble focusing on the interview. I’m thinking adult ADD? But then ADDers are usually smart. Consider: Ana is supposed to be finishing her exams for what I assume is a bachelor of arts in literature. But when Christian Grey asks her about her job plans, she admits it has never occurred to her to think about it. You heard me. She’ll be done university in a week or two and she has never once thought about how she might pay her bills after that. Not once. Did I say that already?

Writing-wise you can really tell that 50 Shades started life as a fanfic. It reads like any of a hundred Mary Sue’s I’ve read. Ana, for instance, describes herself as having eyes that are too big for her face. Seriously?! What a terrible affliction! And just how big? Big enough to allow her to see in ultraviolet? It would be a much better story if the answer was yes.

On the porn meter, (which is what y’all came to hear about right?) this scored a solid zero, on account of no sex at all, and only the vaguest bit of sexual tension toward the end of the chapter.

So it’s done, and at this point I’m left with characters I don’t give a pigs damn about, and no desire to read on. But read on I will. So you don’t have to.