Wednesday, July 23, 2014

50 Shades Illogical

I read and review Fifty Shades Freed so you don't have to.

I don't even know where to begin. Maybe with the question I kept thinking over and over during this last section: I'M SORRY, WHAT?????

E.L. James spends the last two numbered chapters of her book trying to wrap everything up in a neat little package. SPOILER ALERT: SHE FAILS. Instead what happens is she creates more questions than she answers, and the few things she does answer have explanations that make NO SENSE. I mean, AT ALL. Seriously, even working from within the horrifying stereotypes she's set out for her characters and "why they are like this" the ultimate, core "reasons" why various people are so fucked up do not follow any known pattern of logic that has been discovered by either philosophy or science. It's like she just vomits words onto a page, has a look, and decides she's satisfied with that effort because she can see some bits of corn in there and she remembers there was corn in the salad she had for lunch a week ago Tuesday.

Chapter 24 begins in Ana's hospital room during breakfast. Side note: despite both being pregnant and constantly mentioning how much she feels like she's starving, Ana is still basically being force fed by Christian right to the end. I guess this is supposed to illustrate Christian's adorable bizarre hang ups about food and eating left over from when his mom was a crack whore and forgot to feed him, but all I can see is a 21 year old girl in deep denial about her dangerous and all consuming eating disorder. Anycrap, they are discussing the baby and Ana casually mentions that, hey, you know, you keep talking about this little boy we're going to be having but do you realize it's possible we could be having a girl? Which, hey good job Ana! The science totally supports your opinion for once! Christian is massively alarmed by this statement. I'm not sure if this literally just did not occur to him, like maybe thinks he ought to be able to control his sperm and make it so only the male ones can swim through sheer force of will because I AM THE MASTER OF MY HOUSE or something, or if having a girl is somehow the end of the world in his mind for any number of misogynist reasons. Personally, I am also alarmed because while no child of his is likely to be allowed their own personhood or encouraged to develop autonomy or even so much as their own opinion regardless of gender, I can totally see this guy insisting a daughter be denied an education so she never learns anything scary or meets another actual person, and only being allowed outside with a surgical mask over her face Michael Jackson style because someone might look at her. They have a conversation about how she needs to tell her parents she's pregnant, and then immediately following that scene speaks to both her father and her mother and never mentions it.

Ana's been given permission to go home and does. After a shower scene that includes no sex much to Ana's disappointment despite her being in a massive amount of pain, she casually mentions that she doesn't understand why Elizabeth was helping Jack. "I do," says Christian. And this is where E.L. James completely looses whatever tenuous grasp she'd had on how cause and effect actually works. Because, you see, it turns out that up until Ana kicked him in the balls, Jack Hyde habitually raped ALL of his assistants. Not just raped them, but beat and raped them because "he likes it rough". BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. He also videotaped his assaults on all these women. But not to have some kind of fucked up souvenir rapist trophy to relive his experiences like a serial killer does. No no no, the videos are for blackmail. Elizabeth was helping Jack try to kill people because she was being blackmailed with a video of...her own rape? Whuuuuuuut. I cannot, CANNOT wrap my head around this explanation. At no point are we given the impression that the sex Jack was having with his assistants was in any way consensual. He didn't seduce them and now they are embarrassed about it, he AT BEST coerced them through having power over their careers, and more likely ATTACKED them the same way he attacked Ana. Those videos aren't blackmail, they are EVIDENCE. That not one of these women thought "Hey I can go to the police and tell them my rapist made a video of my rape" is completely ludicrous in and of itself, but that their reaction INSTEAD was "Oh shit! There's evidence of my rapist raping me that would totally put him in jail where he can't attack me again, I guess my only choice is to help him MURDER PEOPLE" MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO DONKEY FUCKING SENSE. No. Just, no. I...no.

No.

Oh also in this scene, Christian decides to equate serial rape with a side of beatings with his own desire for consensual BDSM sex acts with happy and consenting women and concludes that he is pretty much the exact same amount of evil as Jack. ALSO NO. Also FUCK YOU.

Anyway, Ana reluctantly eats some soup, complains about not having sex, and takes a nap. When she wakes up, Christian has had a visit from his investigator dude and he is all shaken up because THIS EXPLAINS EVERYTHING. Except it doesn't. Doesn't explain anything; doesn't make any sense. Ok, so remember how Christian was born in Detroit and Jack Hyde is from Detroit? As I predicted, it turns out they have a past. In between the time that Christian's crack addicted mom died and the Greys adopted him, he was fostered for a couple of months by some nice family that likes helping children. Christian has no memory of this and is convinced it is because it was so traumatic that he blocked it out, despite remembering tons of stuff from when his mother was alive that actually was traumatic. Personally I think he doesn't remember it because it was something that happened for a very short period of time when he was 4 years old, the same way I have no specific memory of the first time I saw Cinderella. The nice family that was fostering him was also fostering some other kids at the same time. GUESS WHO ONE OF THEM WAS YOU GUYS. As proof, Christian shows Ana a photo. In it are the nice family and their foster kids, including a terrified little grey eyed boy, and another slightly older boy who is scowling at the camera with unbridled hatred. The scared one is Christian, the angry one is Jack Hyde. Because you can TOTALLY TELL from a photograph taken 25 years ago exactly what kind of people those kids will be today. But here's the thing: even if that was true, this photo does not fit with the follow up explanation. Because the reason Jack Hyde hates and wants to destroy Christian is because the Greys adopted him and not Jack. There's so much about that that doesn't make sense here. For one thing, the Greys were ALREADY in the process of adopting Christian. He was only in foster care because adopting a kid takes a lot of paperwork as the state of Michigan isn't in the business of just giving kids away to whoever. It's not like adopting a dog from the pound where a family just picks a dog and the dog in the next cage had just as much of a chance and if dogs were sentient it might totally resent the dog that got adopted. This adoption was ALREADY HAPPENING before they ended up in the same foster home. Also, this level of resentment is just not reasonable. Are we supposed to believe that a kid harbors so much resentment that someone got adopted "instead" of him that he spends the next 25 YEARS OF HIS LIFE trying to find that kid and kill him? WHO DOES THAT? Maybe that's not what happened, because Christian says Hyde didn't start stalking his family until a few weeks after Ana started working there. So he coincidentally employs the girlfriend of a former foster brother, realizes who Christian is AND THEN goes into a murderous rage over it 25 years after the fact? Neither of these scenarios make sense. And as for the photo, if the thing that triggered his hatred was Christian's adoption, and in the photo Christian is not yet adopted, what exactly is he so angry about? This explanation for Jack's behavior is about as clear as an elephant's turd and has roughly the same chance of passing the smell test.

After this revelation, Ana decides Christian needs to ask his parents about his time in foster care that he can't remember because for some reason she thinks this will completely change his life. So they call his parents and ask them to come over. They do, knowing what they are planning to talk about, but inexplicably bring Mia with them, who just as inexplicably calls everyone else to come over because Christian's parents coming over to help him through a major existential crisis is the perfect time to throw a fucking party at a house you don't live in. Champagne is in order because Ana is either Batman or Batman's dumb-enough-to-wander-into-a-dark-alley-looking-super-rich parents, and Ana has an angry internal monologue about how mean Christian is for not letting her get all crunk just because she's pregnant. No seriously. It's so mean of him to only let me have just a little champagne, I should get to endanger my baby if that's what I feel like pout pout. CHOKE ON MY METAPHORICAL NUTS, ANA. After everyone finally leaves and more "explanations" that don't make sense happen, Ana and Christian get ready for bed. Ana wants sex because that's the whole point of their entire relationship but Christian says no, he wants to tell her a bedtime story instead. He wants to tell her the story of: How the Evil Elena Seduced Me when I was 16 and it Ruined My Life. Because for NO REASON AT ALL this seems like a great time for that. Ready you guys? Once upon a time....END OF CHAPTER. ARE YOU SERIOUSLY STILL DOING THIS JAMES?

Chapter 25 begins with "I can barely breathe." (You're recovering from getting repeatedly kicked in the ribs, stop being surprised.) "Do I want to hear this?" Well, let's see. You've been saying you wanted to hear this since the first time he told you he was sub to an older woman TWO BOOKS ago, and have hounded him for the exact details he's about to finally tell you for months on a practically daily basis so, I don't know, PROBABLY? I, on the other hand, most decidedly DO NOT want to hear this because I already know it is going to be a steaming pile of stereotyped pathological bullshit nonsense psychobabble demonization just like everything else in these fucking books and I hate you with every scrap of hate I have available plus some hate others have loaned me temporarily so I could have the requisite amount of hate for it, which is a value that exceeds my own personal capacity to hate. Oh, by the way, Christian's eyes are "full of disquieting memories". He has pensieves for eyes I guess. She should have just stuck her face in his eyes months ago. The crap fest unfolds thusly: One day, teenage Christian was doing yard work at Mrs. Lincoln's house because reasons. "Out of nowhere" she brings him some lemonade (he says this happens "out of nowhere" immediately after saying he was doing backbreaking work shoveling rubble. If my best friend's son is doing convict level labor in my backyard, bringing him some lemonade is not "out of nowhere" it's "not being a dick"). Then she 1. slaps him across the face, 2. kisses him, 3. slaps him again, 4. walks off without comment or explanation. I have never been a 16 year old boy; I have no idea if slapping one across the face repeatedly is a good pick up line for seducing one. But it probably wouldn't be my opening volley. He goes on with the stuff about not liking being touched and he couldn't kiss the girls at school because they wanted to touch him, but Elena kissed him without otherwise touching him so it was ok. Ana assumes she "must have known" about the not wanting to be touched thing because Christian's mother had told her and concludes that she was using this knowledge to trick him into fucking her somehow. It makes no sense. Christian goes on. This sort of thing started happening more often. And here's where James completely jumps the shark, because Christian says this whole experience was really really helpful for his psychologically damaged teenage self and it fixed everything. Actual quote: "It was exactly what I needed." Another actual  quote: "And even when it was over, my world stayed in focus because of her." Wow. A woman who cared about you came into your life, found a way to reach you, helped you get through a lifetime of emotional trauma and allowed you to gain the piece of mind you had so desperately been longing for? THAT MUST HAVE BEEN FUCKING TERRIBLE FOR YOU. I am not kidding you guys. He credits this woman with fixing EVERYTHING wrong, which, somehow, was wrong and sick and bad and something he is now ashamed of. ANOTHER actual quote which follows the first two: "It was only recently that I saw our relationship for what it was." By this he means terrible and abusive. WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT? It was so helpful Ana! It solved all of my problems! WHAT A BITCH, AMIRITE? James, please explain to me, in clear language that follows a logical progression, how a relationship that turned a raging, self-destructive teenage borderline alcoholic into a calm, controlled, self-sufficient, successful individual is the worst thing that ever happened to him. BECAUSE THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE AT ALL YOU INCOMPREHENSIBLE TWAT WAFFLE. Oh wait, nevermind. Here it is! Because in the middle of this conversation this sentence happens: "If you grow up with a wholly negative self-image, thinking you're some kind of reject, an unlovable savage, you think you deserve to be beaten (emphasis mine)." Oh, I see. So a relationship that restored a troubled youth to a reasonable degree of sanity was bad specifically because said relationship was BDSM based. This oh so helpful relationship was in fact not helpful at all because BDSM makes you a sick freak who doesn't deserve to be loved. Got it. Just one thing though:

FUCK THIS SO HARD.

No, seriously. Coat a giraffe in coarse sand and then shove its entire head and neck up your stupid shitty vagina. Yes, I said vagina, because "down there" is not what you call that when you're a fucking adult. Vagina. VAGINA VAGINA VAGINA.

After I put out the smoldering book that I accidentally set fire to when flames shot out of my eyes, the shit show continued. Christian now finally believes that Ana loves him, reason being she put herself in incredible danger for the sake of his family. You watch too many movies, Christian. In real life you can believe someone loves you based on their every day loving gestures without them having to put their self in mortal danger on your behalf. Christian also mentions that while he's happy about the baby, he's not sure yet if he will want further children. Ana freaks out in her head: "No...Not an only child. Not like me." This is the first time in this entire saga that Ana has made any sort of comment about having been unhappy about being an only child. When did this become a problem? You are supposed to be clearing all this shit up, James, not creating new pointless plot twists you'll forget about in ten seconds and never resolve. When Christian went to see Elena after the "how could you be so stupid getting pregnant" episode, Elena made a pass at him. Weird since they haven't had a sexual relationship in seven years, but he turned her down because he loves his wife, surprising both of them apparently. "It's been over since I laid eyes on you," he tells Ana. "I finally realized it that night and so did she." So, you didn't realize it was over until JUST NOW? You married someone else without being sure your other relationship was over? Classy! Then my favorite nonsensical plot point comes up again, that Christian feels that only a terrible garbage person would love their own mother if said mother was a prostitute with a drug problem. Toddlers should be excellent judges of character and should not condescend to love their parents if those parents have flaws or weaknesses. I don't understand this at all. I understand having issues related to his mother having failed him and then dying, but I do not understand how this translates into HE is a monster if he loved her anyway. Ana magnanimously decides she can now let this "Elena is a threat to everything" imaginary bullshit go (bet she can't!) and the horrifying conversation finally ends and they go to sleep.

The next morning, Ana wakes up alone. She is starving for sex. She is sure she hasn't gone this long without sex since ever. She is wrong about this: it's been roughly a week since she had sex. After the time he hit her with the belt and they broke up thus dramatically ending the first book, she didn't have sex for, I don't know, a month? It's September now in the book. She's only known this person for about, what, six, seven months? You have a remarkably shitty memory Ana, you should maybe sign up to lumosity.com or something. She wonders how someone as into sex as Christian is can have so much self control. She has spent three entire books telling us about how her husband has iron-fisted control over absolutely every single thing on the earth, this should not be a Scooby-Doo mystery for her. Is it because of THAT WOMAN? She's not sure. "We haven't spoken of the Bitch Troll once since his confession." I'm no expert Ana, but I think that's probably because that happened EIGHT HOURS AGO and you've been asleep since IMMEDIATELY AFTER THAT CONVERSATION HAPPENED. After all this time, James can still surprise me with her astonishing inability to be internally consistent WITHIN THE SAME SENTENCE. She finds Christian in the kitchen and eats voluntarily for the first time in her entire life. Christian decides to take the day off work and they go over to see how work is progressing on their "green" but completely environmentally unfriendly house. On the way, she muses yet again on how laid back Christian has been since "the talk" (her quotes). For fear of repeating myself, Christian has only been awake for about two hours since that talk ended. James is writing these scenes as if months have gone by. She is the fucking worst at telling time. There is another example of this almost immediately. Construction is going well, and Christian's brother thinks they can be in the house by Christmas. Ana is excited; she can totally see her new baby boy looking up at the giant Christmas tree in wonder! I'm not sure why she can see this since she's five weeks pregnant and Christmas is three months from now. You are not going to have a baby at Christmas time, you are not even going to be halfway through your pregnancy. Please explain how you managed to get past the 2nd grade without being able to count to nine. After the house tour, they go outside for a picnic, during which Christian learns that it was Elena's ex-husband who posted Jack Hyde's bail, so immediately has his company destroyed, as you do. I don't know what this has to do with anything. There is no need for this plot point and she doesn't do anything to explain how this happened or why. How does he know Jack Hyde? Why is he only helping to kill Christian now when he caught him with Elena eight years ago and is long divorced from her? Why are we just now finding out that he used to beat the living shit out of her? Why does Christian own the majority shares of his company? What the fuck does Christian mean by "consolidate the shares into GEH"? (Investment expert hat on again: You can't just take shares you own of one company and decide they are now shares of a completely different company. That's not a thing. I can't even imagine what kind of business transaction James is trying to illustrate with this sentence.) I DON'T UNDERSTAND ANY OF THIS. Ana is scared? impressed? at Christian's impulse for vengeance and ability to take down another man's entire life with one phone call, so it's TIME FOR SEX, which happens on the lawn presumably in full view of the entire construction crew. It is boring, but leads to a conversation about something Christian had said the night before about missing BDSM sex. Suddenly she has no problem with it! Now that she's "saved" him from wanting it and stuffed him into prison of shame and guilt over it, it will totally be fun! Right? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

The last scene in the book proper is them going back into the sex room to do kinky sex things because since kinky sex is super bad for him they should totally start having it again. Or something. I don't know. I'm so used to her chapters ending in "dramatic" cliffhangers that when she actually finishes one like a normal human being I am totally confused. Also, I've been hammered over the head for THREE FUCKING BOOKS about how BDSM means you are both a broken damaged victim and a horrible rapist monster at the same time and it is something you must be rescued from and can ONLY be rescued from by the love of a selfless and determined woman. Why is this even happening? YOU JUST SAID THIS WAS BAD. The actual sex scene isn't in there, it's just suggestive talk up to the door of the room followed by another syrupy and moronic declaration of love for her abusive dipshit husband. AAAAAND SCENE.

THAT'S the ending? You've left so much unexplained. The eight million questions I have about this thing with Elena's ex-husband. Since when is Ana upset at being an only child? What's happening with Jack Hyde? Will Ana have to testify? Why won't you tell your parents you're pregnant? Why is BDSM suddenly ok now? How does Christian know everything and have more access to people's secret information than the fucking NSA? Is he Biff Tannen? What happened to all the shit about Ana not wanting to run a company and Christian insisting on buying it for her? Why can't you understand the passage of time? Why does anyone think Ana is smart or good at anything? Why does being a billionaire make abuse romantic? WHAT JUST HAPPENED YOU GUYS?

There's actually three more chapters, but they are all epilogues of sorts and I will address them all in another post. I will also, at StereoNinja's suggestion, be doing a video review of the new Fifty Shades movie trailer that's supposed to come out roughly now, so there's that to look forward to.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Invasion Continues

I am hysterical right now.

I have mentioned before that this house has a spider problem. That problem is getting worse. StereoNinja sprays and sprays, and all that happens is they start showing up where he hasn't sprayed. Spray the corners? They move to the middle of the crown moulding. Spray the whole perimeter of the ceiling? They move down to the middle of the wall. Spray the walls? "Fine, we'll just crawl on the floor!" they laugh derisively.

It's a daily, multiple spider problem. I didn't write about it at the time because it was a happy post, but while I was cleaning the living room for my 4th of July party, I had to stop dusting just to the right of the television because just left of the television I could see four spiders clinging to the wall. Work ceased while StereoNinja eliminated those and the other ones he found that I hadn't seen on the adjacent wall and inside our wall sconce. I handled life fairly well after that, up until last week. One morning last week, I woke up at 6 a.m. for what seemed like no reason...until I lazily looked up toward the ceiling and discovered a spider hanging down over the bed, over ME, not three feet above my head. I slid out of the bed onto the floor and woke up StereoNinja. I must have used my OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO DIE voice because he woke up already in instant rescue mode. But then he had to coax me back into bed, because what if they were lined up somewhere I couldn't see waiting for their turn to try to GET ON ME while I was sleeping? What if they'd formed a colony behind the headboard and were going to swarm as soon as I closed my eyes? I didn't sleep the rest of the night.

Since then I've had to deal with spiders daily. I won't walk around the house without socks. I carry a can of spider spray with me everywhere I go, with the cap off, holding it in front of me like some kind of fucking sword. StereoNinja comes home every day to a report detailing where all the spider carcasses that I sprayed that day are so he can remove them and check the area for friends of theirs that might have come to mourn or to get revenge. I take lightening fast showers because I'm terrified of being in such an enclosed space. Today the fast shower didn't work. I had JUST got out and started drying myself when a spider decided to just mosey right across the door frame on my bedroom floor, no doubt laughing maniacally. Once it had passed, I ran out and jumped on the bed, where I had left my spider spray (I won't be making the mistake of not taking it into the shower with me again) and turned around... and then I couldn't find it. I couldn't find it because it was one of those skinny beige spiders with legs the thickness of human hair that like to hang out in bathrooms. And the carpet in my bedroom is, of course, beige. It is also covered in clumps of my hair because my hair is too long right now and when I brush it, it gets everywhere. All hairlike things immediately became suspect, as did my actual hair since if it got in my hair I wouldn't notice that it was ON ME until it was too late. It could be anywhere, and I was naked on top of the bed, clear across the room from my sock drawer. I texted "I'm trapped" to StereoNinja. And he called me and talked me into throwing the duvet on the floor to create a bridge to the door so I could escape. This was a less than perfect plan however, since beyond the door I still wouldn't be wearing socks and I didn't know what else was out there. Also my toothbrush was inside my bathroom which I a) could not get back to unless I was sure the spider wasn't in there and b) was terrified of getting trapped in. StereoNinja said to grab my toothbrush and go in his bathroom but I was adamant that I couldn't: "What if it went in the bathroom? It's one of those ones that likes the bathroom." I stood on the bed another five minutes psyching myself up. Eventually, I threw down the duvet and jumped on it like a drowning man who found a life raft floating by. And then screamed loud enough to wake up the entire island. The spider HAD gone into the bathroom and was already hard at work building a web from my counter to the door, and I had located my island of "safety" RIGHT FUCKING NEXT TO THE DOOR. I sprayed it and it took forever to die, but at least I knew where it was. Unfortunately, my toothbrush was behind the web it was building and it could have been ON my toothbrush for all I know. But I did at least get to grab some socks so I could go to a different part of the house.

The problem with the spiders is that the alarm response is cumulative, and every time another one appears it reinforces the idea that nowhere is safe. I checked the WHOLE bathroom for spiders before I got in that shower, only to have one attack me the moment I got out. Obviously vigilance will not save me. So when I say I'm hysterical right now, what I mean is, the entire time I've been typing this I am perched on the edge of the couch (that way I'm not touching the floor but can easily jump off if a spider crawls onto the couch - this has happened twice in the last few weeks) and I stop every few words to check, in this order: the perimeter of the ceiling, the rest of the walls, the floor immediately in front of me, the floor between me and the door, and the back of the couch behind me (with another look at the wall behind the couch and the ceiling behind the couch for good measure). I will do this in every room I go into, every doorway I go through, every time I get into my car, until a sufficient amount of time has passed between spider sightings that I eventually calm down. If I've seen one spider on one day this takes a couple of hours. If I've seen many spiders on one day it take many hours. If see some two days in a row it can take the better part of a week to calm down. If I keep seeing them, in multiples, for so many days in a row that I can't remember the last day I haven't encountered one...I don't actually know. I imagine it could take weeks. Which is where I am at right now.

I tried an app that is supposed to help with arachnophobia called "Phobia Free". It was developed by a psychologist who specializes in the area and features a pink cartoon spider with a bow in her hair called Itsy that barely looks like a spider to help you. I made it through most of the first three levels. But then it makes you play some games. In the first one you have to flick flies into a spider's web (not Itsy, a more normalish spider but still very cartoonish in shape and color) so it doesn't starve. I tried and tried but kept over shooting or under shooting until I finally realized that the only way to land the fly in the web was for your finger to go over the spider. That was as far as I got. I KNOW YOUR GAME, SPIDER APP THINGY, YOU CAN'T FOOL ME.

I came on here to write this hoping I could make it funny and that it would calm me down, but it hasn't really worked, and also does not appear to be all that funny. Not the way my other spider stories have been. This is not a joke anymore, you guys, it is EFFECTING MY SENSE OF HUMOR.


UPDATE: OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE. Since posting this at lunchtime, I have encountered seven, that's SEVEN, more spiders. The first was a huge one hanging out on the blinds at my therapist's office while I was in therapy. OH THANKS A LOT SPIDER DICK IT'S SO MUCH EASIER TO TALK ABOUT MY PROBLEMS WHEN MY BIGGEST ONE SHOWS UP AT THERAPY TO TAUNT ME. So I sat through an hour of CBT while staring at a thing in the corner lest it move and going over and over my escape plan if it did. So you know, I'm sure I made a ton of progress today. THEN, I left therapy and got in my car to go home. It's hot in my car because I need more coolant for my air conditioning, so I rolled down the window. And then rolled it right back up again as a startled spider I'd failed to notice dropped down and tried to get in my window, so the whole way home I was all FUCK NOW I'M TRAPPED IN MY CAR. Once comically removing myself from it (when the heat became unbearable and my choices were face a spider or actually die) I went in the house and found another five spiders, one in the kitchen and four in the living room. I haven't been back to my bedroom since this morning. I'm currently stress eating to pass the 4-5 hours before StereoNinja gets home. Sorry, MrBalls, I'm eating your american Doritos (I did warn you they'd get eaten if you didn't come rescue them).

SECOND UPDATE: Trying to do laundry. Laundry seems safe - I had StereoNinja check the laundry for spiders this morning, what could possibly go wrong? A SPIDER IN THE BOTTOM OF THE LAUNDRY BASKET, THAT'S WHAT. C'MON MAN, THIS IS NOT EVEN STATISTICALLY POSSIBLE ANYMORE.

THIRD UPDATE 7/24: StereoNinja went through the entire house when he got home that night, spraying things and killing dozens more that were hiding in corners I hadn't looked in. They're STILL HERE. Right this moment he is outside hosing down the house and spraying things and killing spiders he can't reach with a broom. He says he's killed about 100 on the outside of the house. Pretty sure I'm going to die.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

And Now For Something Completely Different

Last night I spent several hours watching some 70-year old men tell penis jokes. If this sounds like a weird thing to do, let me follow that up by saying said men are the surviving members of Monty Python, and that I did NOT get choked up when I realized I was singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" with the actually Pythons, and I definitely did not cry when they put "Graham Chapman 1941-1989" up on the screen behind them. They say this is the last time, and while celebrities "retire" all the time, this is entirely likely - John Cleese is 75 years old and it's starting to show.

Having said that, it was fucking brilliant. I don't want to say too much about it because it's going to be live on tv tomorrow night and I don't want to spoil it for everyone. Let me just say that if you were thinking "Hmm, maybe I'll watch that", fuck the "maybe" part, drop what you're doing and watch it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

50 Shades Absurd

After a long absence, the penultimate review of Fifty Shades Freed, read by me so you don't have to.

Here's what this book is doing to me: in the three chapters that I read for this review, a husband threatens to rape his wife but the only part I got upset about was that E.L. James has no fucking idea how banking works. I'm a monster.

When we last saw our heroine asshole, she was (dramatically at the end of a chapter) staring at a completely benign and innocuous but for its originator text message on a phone belonging to her husband that she "accidentally" turned on. Chapter 21 begins with her reacting with the kind of despair normally reserved for finding out your house burned to the ground with your whole family inside. She curls up in a fetal position and sobs while rocking back and forth. James actually writes "I rock to and fro" as if that's something people say. Her husband freaked out about a pregnancy neither of them wanted which was caused by her own awe-inspiring irresponsibility, and ran to a woman who was a very important and influential figure in his life for practically his entire life, and everything is ruined now forever. There is only one thing to do and that thing is to attempt to deliberately upset herself even further by going through ALL of Christian's text messages and emails. She is relieved to find nothing else from "the Bitch Troll" (actually capitalized! Like a fun title!) and apropos of nothing, none from Leila either. What she does find is an email terrible plot device from someone who can't write a fucking story from an investigator about the comings and goings of one Jack Hyde, attempted rapist and failed murderer extraordinaire. There is absolutely no point to this email being where it is. She reads it and immediately goes back to speculating on WHAT IT ALL MEANS and how horrible everything is now that her panicked husband did a shitty but completely understandable thing and goes to sleep in another room because LOLZ HE'LL WAKE UP AND BE SO SCARED I'M NOT RIGHT WHERE HE LEFT ME SRSLY I AM SO MATURE HAHAHAHAHAHA.

She's right though. When she emerges the next day, she finds that the entire staff has been combing the desert looking for her, though no one thought it would be a good idea to check the sex room. You know, the one with a bed in it that would be a totally likely place for someone who didn't appear on the security footage as leaving the house to likely be sleeping in. She ignores Christian's repeated attempts to have a mature and rational conversation about the pregnancy while she gets dressed for work. With extra sexy dressing activities because, you know, that's the kind of thing you take great pains to do when you're so angry at your husband you're thinking of leaving him. In the middle of this, she tells him about the text message she found and accuses him of "spinelessly" running off to fuck Elena, confirms his greatest fear by telling him she DOES choose the baby over him, and then goes mega pot/kettle on his ass by claiming that he, HE!, is the one behaving like a "petulant adolescent". Christian's attempt to solve this problem is by being all "You bring up an interesting point, let's fuck about it and see what happens" and Ana for once turns him down. No problem, says Christian, I'll just rape you then. Of course he didn't literally say "How 'bout I rape you instead?" The ACTUAL FOR REAL exchange, and it is clear from Ana's inner monologue that the reader is supposed to be SUPER FUCKING TURNED ON by it, is this:

"Don't even think about it, Grey."
"You're my wife."
"...if you touch me I will scream the place down."
"You'd scream?"
"Bloody murder."
"No one would hear you."

You guys. "You're my wife"? That hasn't been a legal excuse for rape in decades, and hasn't been a legitimate one since, um, EVER. But no matter, "No one would hear you." NO ONE WOULD HEAR YOU. Because when I want to rape my wife, Imma fucking rape the shit out of my wife, man! Ain't no stopping THIS rape train! LET'S DO THIS. I'm not saying I had even one shred of respect for E.L. James as either a writer or a woman before this, but I felt like maybe I should get some respect for her just so I could lose it again because she wrote, in a book, that people were meant to read, that rape. Is. Sexy. I hate everything.

Anyway, he nobly backs down and decides not to rape her after all. She goes to work and comes home and goes to bed before Christian and he's already gone when she wakes up the next day. She doesn't hear from him until she gets a terse email at work telling her he's flying to Portland for work. It's while she's over reacting to this that she takes a call she thinks is from Mia. But it's not Mia. It turns out to be Jack Hyde. Calling from Mia's phone. How odd! Gee, now that I think about it, Jack calling her from Mia's phone seems kind of ominous. Should we go to the next paragraph? Of course not! There is no next paragraph! It's merely the end of the chapter!

Ugh.

Anyway, Chapter 22. Jack has kidnapped Mia and if Ana doesn't bring him $5 million in the next two hours he's gonna kill Mia and maybe rape her first for good measure. And of course, she shouldn't call the cops or her security guards or anything because he'll totally know. Which is kind of a pointless instruction because these people NEVER call the police, so why would she start now? But whatever. The scary man wants the arbitrary value of $5 million, she's gonna give him $5 million. She leaves work and goes back to the house to get the checkbooks (plural) and conveniently discovers that Mr. Guns Are Bad still has an unlocked and fully loaded pistol just sitting there in the desk drawer. Mrs. Guns Are Great If You Know How To Use Them Safely does the safe thing and shoves it down the back of her pants, presumably with the safety off. I hope she shoots her own ass off. She then sneaks out of the house to go to the bank with security hot on her heels but as always one step behind.

Okay. So I used to work at the investment arm of a bank. And before that I worked in investments for years and had to deal with banks. And before THAT I've had a checking account since I was a teenager and have been to an actual bank. Let's just say I'm familiar with how going to the bank works. E.L. James clearly is not. Here's what happens. Ana gets to "the bank". I have no idea if this is a branch bank or the main bank building for this particular bank because she never says, but let's give her the benefit of the doubt that this is the main bank. She walks in and asks to withdraw $5 million. The manager, correctly, tells her that you generally need to give notice to withdraw that much money, but incorrectly follows up with, "Fortunately, however, we hold the cash reserve for the entire Pacific Northwest". No. No you absolutely do not. Because that isn't how fractional reserve banking works. Even if you are the main branch of this particular bank which for some reason keeps their entire cash reserve in one building, you do not hold the cash reserves for every commercial bank in the pacific northwest because you are not the central bank and that is not how banking works and it doesn't work that way because to do so would be colossally, unfathomably stupid. But James is just warming up. He next asks her for ID and she gives him her driver's license which still says "Anastasia Steele" on it. Her name on the account, of course, is "Anastasia Grey". But this also is not a problem because, hey here's my Amex card with my new name on it! And the bank manager is like, "Oh, cool that totally works. You said $5 million right?" THIS IS ALSO NOT HOW A BANK WORKS. If I walked into a bank with the wrong name on my ID and tried to withdraw even 500 dollars from my account they would not give it to me. You are asking them to hand over $5 million.And a piece of plastic that has a name stamped on it, but no picture of your fucking face is not a legitimate, legally acceptable form of "ID". IT'S JUST A CREDIT CARD. If the store you're shopping at is doing what they should be doing, they will be asking you for an actual ID when you try to buy something with that card, and if your name doesn't match they will not let you buy the thing. And that is a store. This is a bank. The bank is not going to hand you $5 million on the strength of your name being on a credit card, especially if you've already established that the name on the card is different from the one on your ID. But not this bank, this bank is all "Totes!" The bank manager tells her she'll have to write a check to cash and given all the other more egregious problems here, I should probably skip over the part where withdrawing $5 million from a checking account requires more paperwork than that and said paperwork would include a withdrawal slip or similar which would negate the need to write out a check, but I'm not going to because also, it is not normal to keep $5 million in a checking account in the first place. There are better and safer account types to keep that kind of money in while still remaining relatively liquid and therefore writing a check to cash in this situation is not a likely story. OH BUT IT GETS EVEN BETTER. The bank manager has at least enough sense to call Christian and ask him what the fuck is going on. I'm going to let slide the "you can't authorize transactions of that magnitude over the phone" because the bank manager called him and not the other way around, but, eh, probably this wouldn't happen at a real bank either. It turns out I was right about not keeping $5 million in a checking account because Christian authorizes him to liquidate $5 million worth of assets to cover Ana's withdrawal request. No mention of what particular assets he wants to liquidate. I'm curious because different types of securities have different levels of liquidity. Without getting too shop talky, the time between placing an order to have your assets liquidated and the amount of time it takes to process that request, sell the securities, and hand you the cash can take as much as three days depending on what you want to sell. Even if it's a more liquid security than that, the lag time from order to cash in hand on $5 million worth of transactions is going to be longer than the approximately five minutes this transaction seemed to take. Sorry but THAT IS NOT HOW A BANK WORKS. AND HAVE I MENTIONED THAT ALL OF THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON WHILE SHE HAD A LOADED GUN SHOVED DOWN THE BACK OF HER FUCKING PANTS? IN A GODDAMN BANK? Anyway, while all this shady bullshit at the First National Bank of Ludicrously Unlikely Transactions is going on, the bank manager hands the phone to Ana to talk to Christian who is understandably confused and wants to know what's going on. This would have been the perfect opportunity to mention that Jack Hyde has his sister and maybe he should use his magical problem solving skills to find her and helicopter her the hell out of there or something, but Jack said not to tell him, so instead she decides the best thing to do is upset him by telling him she needs the money because she's leaving him. Not "I'll tell you later" or "It's a surprise" or even "Just trust me on this ok?" No. The only answer she can think of to give him is "Fuck off, asshole, I'm taking your money and your baby and I hate your fucking guts." Afterwards Jack calls her back with instructions to take the money outside to his waiting van, get in it, and throw away her cell before she gets in. The bank has two courier guys carry the money out for her in several bags, saving me the trouble of complaining about how a girl that hasn't eaten in months and weighs about the same as a broomstick carried 110 pounds worth of cash all by herself and also the volume of that much cash totes fit in one sack, but I do suspect that this was for story telling purposes and not necessarily because James realized lack of strength would prevent the first thing and physics the second.

Ana dutifully throws a cell phone in the trash and gets in the van which is being driven by Elizabeth from work, because, apparently, Jack has some "dirt" on her. They drive to Jack's remote location and when they get there, Jack starts beating the crap out of her. He pushes her to the ground where she hits her head hard enough to pass out...but not before she can pull out her gun and shoot him in his kneecap! Hooray! And also not before...yes...you know it....Christian comes running up out of nowhere LIKE A MIRACULOUS PHANTOM to dramatically hold her while she loses consciousness! Wait, wasn't he in Portland? How did he get there in the, like, 15 minutes since he was just on the phone with her? It DOESN'T MATTER, you guys. ROMANCE.

I really thought the banking thing was going to be the low point of this writing. I was immediately wrong. Chapter 23 features literally THE WORST and most contrived plot device I have ever read in a published volume. Ana is in the hospital. She is in the hospital because she has a skull fracture, "a major contusion to the head", and I imagine probably a concussion because generally you do not hit your head heard enough to be (mostly) unconscious for DAYS and NOT have a concussion. But how does one advance a plot when the first person narrator is unconscious for two entire days? Well, you do that by having her just barely wake up for a few seconds at a time JUST IN TIME to hear bits of conversations people are bizarrely having in the room with her that all coincidentally happen to advance the plot. And of course if she's unconscious for two whole days, you do this EIGHT TIMES. IN A ROW. And NOT ONLY do you advance the plot through convenient windows of consciousness EIGHT TIMES IN A ROW, but you also close EVERY ONE of those vignettes with a vomit inducing overly dramatic return to unconsciousness :

1."...unconsciousness claims me once more, stealing me away from the pain."
2."The fog closes in."
3."I fight the fog...fight...But I spiral down once more into oblivion. No..."
4."The fog surrounds me once more and I'm dragged down...down. No!"
5."The world dips and blurs and I'm gone."
6."Oh...the darkness closes in. No-"
7."Sweet oblivion beckons."
8."I try. I try. I want to see him. But my body disobeys me, and I fall asleep once more."

I can't even process this. Just, why? WHY would you write this this way? You couldn't have just had people TELL HER ALL THESE THINGS WHEN SHE WOKE UP? And the seemingly random italics...how did you decided which words out of these mini shit parades should be in italics? When I do it, it's for emphasis. When you do it...I don't know, I just can't tell. By the way, in my head I do all these noes in Luke Skywalker's voice when he finds out Darth Vader is his father. It's the only way I can go on.

Anycunt, what we find out in this awful, AWFUL, expositional stunt is that Christian really does want the baby, Mia is recovering from being roofied but is otherwise fine, Elizabeth is telling the police everything, everyone thinks Ana is practically the goddamn Batman, and Christian's mom thinks he should say sorry to Ana when she wakes up for being a total piece of shit. The fact that this plot device was not necessary to advance the story is proved when Christian tells her even more things when she finally does wake up, like that Jack and Elizabeth have been arrested and how they figured out where she was (the cell phone she threw out was the bank manager's; she had cleverly hidden hers inside the bags of money so the people who she hadn't told she was in trouble could track it if they figured it out on their own which of course they did.) Since Christian has decided he wants the baby (that neither one of them wanted three days ago) all the stuff about Elena is forgiven without ever really being explained, and the rest of the chapter is just gross things James thinks are romantic, like Christian not letting her pee without him standing there and forcing food on her that directly contradicted her doctor's orders, you know, typical abusive dick moves, swoon swoon. The chapter ends with more typical Christian self-flagellation about how he'll be a terrible father because he's a total piece of shit (though in his defense, he's right) and a nauseating conversation about whether they should name their child "Junior" or "Blip". Personally I would name it "Get adopted by mature responsible people who are way more suitable to be parents than we are" but god forbid anything logical or healthy happen in this entire fucking trilogy.

-----

So anyway, sorry I made you wait seven or eight months for that. There's really only one more left of the actual book, and then I understand there are something like three different epilogues to the story which will probably get covered as a bonus post. Those should come with much shorter breaks in between as I am now using "getting to blog" as an incentive to write my actual dissertation. On that front, I am not going to lie, I am finding it massively difficult to write about the BDSM/romance aspects of the books without making snide comments about how everything else about these people is also stupid. Because seriously, everything in these is so fucking stupid.

MAJOR NEWS!

GUESS WHAT EVERYBODY. I am about to post the long awaited second (or maybe third) to last Fifty Shades Freed review. I know you probably think I forgot about it or gave up, but I didn't, I just had a combination depression/school is hard and takes up a lot of time/everything in my whole life changed at the same time and I freaked out/ wait, where did all my money go so fast? thing going on, and I could barely face blogging AT ALL, let alone writing exceptionally long blog posts about something that I genuinely hate reading and/or thinking about. But I finally got around to writing the review for the chapters I read last November and it's going up in about five minutes, with all the typos and grammatical errors still in it that I will fix after it's posted because for some reason I can see my errors better on the blog itself than I can in compose mode. I don't know, it's a thing. So, yeah. Posting that now. Thought I should warn you. Tell your friends that have given up on me to please come back.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

You Will Be Assimilated. Resistance Is Futile.

Me: Why are you reading? We're supposed to be looking at flights together.

StereoNinja: Why?

Me: Because we're going on holiday together.

StereoNinja: Holibobs!

Me: Oh my god. I just reflexively said that without even thinking about it.

StereoNinja: What?

Me: "On holiday". Jesus. We're going on VACATION together.

StereoNinja: Say "holibobs". Say "happy holibobs!"

Me: I absolutely fucking will not say that.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Epic Weekend of Pasta Salad and Loud Noises

I'm in the midst of a recovery day, my friends. There has not been so epic a weekend since the Epic Austin Weekend of Boobs and Cake. I am in actual physical pain due to its awesomeness and am also having a small existential crisis, and that is the result of only one of the three, THREE!, fantastical events in a roughly 30 hour period.

I would begin at the beginning, but I feel a need to explain something first. I noticed back in autumn that homesickness seemed to be at its worst during times that are important to your culture but just a regular day where you live now. For example, I suspect that Canada Day, for a Canadian who now lives in Spain, is probably kind of a bummer since no one is saying "Happy Canada Day!" or pouring maple syrup all over their naked bodies (is this what you do on Canada Day? I don't know, I'm not omniscient). I felt it a bit at Halloween - because people do Halloween here, but not like it's done in America where everyone goes insane - but when it really jumped up and kicked me in the cunt was on Thanksgiving, which in this country is just known as "Thursday" and everyone goes to work just like a normal day. I had Thanksgiving dinner with my neighbors, but it was on Saturday, not Thursday, and they were all very excited about this novelty dish I made called "cornbread" - I mean, they raved about it (because of course they did, it's CORNBREAD) which was very nice, but delighted surprise is not a typical reaction to cornbread at Thanksgiving dinner. Also there wasn't a shitty Cowboys game going on in the background. It felt weird.

Having experienced this once already, I decided that I would try to head off the "boo-hoo everyone is having fun but meeeeee" feels by having a 4th of July party. Unfortunately this is the time of year that literally half the country goes on holiday so most of our closer friends couldn't make it and also our neighbor The Commodore, so called because he recently became commodore of the nearby yacht club, stole all of our neighbors and took them to a ball at said yacht club, so it ended up being a much smaller affair than I had intended. BUT! It actually worked out great because the people who did come were my American study buddy (hereafter known as the academic) from my masters program and his English husband, my childhood friend the turk, who now lives in London with her English husband, and another American classmate from my program who I don't have a blog name for yet. We did it up American style, with burgers and brat(wurst)s on the grill, florescent yellow mustard, America shaped cookies, buckeyes*, and an enormous pasta salad. I have never seen people so excited about a pasta salad. It's not like pasta salad doesn't exist here- I've eaten some from M&S myself. But it seems using an entire package of pasta to make a party snack is uncommon here. This arrangement turned out to be perfect. We sat in the garden (these people all live in the city and were absolutely knocked the fuck out by the sheer volume of wildlife available a mere 40 minutes from London) drinking beer and/or wine and/or margaritas playing rounds of Cultural Differences and debating the proper pronunciation of words. One I didn't know is the word skeletal is pronounced here as skhe-LEE-tal, which by the way is wrong as evidenced by the fact that He-Man's nemesis is not called "SkeLEEtor". Eventually it got dark (i.e. spiders were starting to surround us) and we went indoors to tell childhood stories of terrible camp songs, fencing lessons (the turk and me, 5th grade) and archery. In the midst of this we saw some flashy lights outside and upon opening the door realized they were accompanied by exploding sounds...IT WAS FIREWORKS YOU GUYS. WE GOT TO SEE FIREWORKS IN ENGLAND ON THE 4TH OF JULY. Having achieved a perfect day, I took some people back to the train station, the academic and his husband (potentially Mr Coffee???) stayed overnight and I went to bed happy and exhausted.

StereoNinja and I got up very early the next day and rudely left our guests to fend for themselves, because we had tickets to the British Grand Prix and it is well known that driving to and from Silverstone on race day is a colossal clusterfuck. Now, I know nothing at all about F1 or any racing really, mostly because I don't have any real interest in cars or going fast and in my country the popular racing to watch is NASCAR, an interest I find fucking hilarious in other people. Conversely, prior to my converting him into an ice hockey fan, F1 was literally the only sport StereoNinja followed or gave a single fetid shit about. I haven't been exposed to his F1 fandom however, because we don't get Sky on principle so he can only watch about one out of every three races which makes it hard to follow. I was excited to go because he was excited and because I got to do a new thing, but my excitement had little to do with with the race itself. We got there and inhaled a shitty hamburger before finding our seats in the grandstand. Which is about when the Red Arrows started flying their impossible formations of awesomeness, complete with red white and blue smoke and a fucking heart that they drew in the sky. I got some sand or something in both my eyes.

And then it was race time. I was all ready to experience my first F1 race and excitedly awaited the first time they would go flying past me. I wound up waiting a long time, since 58 seconds in there was an enormous crash that knocked three cars out before it had even really started and damaged the barriers to a degree that took and hour to replace. But eventually the race got underway again and...You guys. The last thing I needed was another sport to follow, particularly another sport that it was difficult for me to be able to watch due to limited availability. However. FORMULA ONE IS FUCKING AWESOME. It wasn't even a particularly good race as it was clear from about halfway through who the winner was going to be and the only thing in question was who would win the battle for fifth place. But. For serious. Driving inches from each other at those speeds, making a play to get past someone in a corner by breaking later, which is pretty much challenging them to a game of high stakes chicken...I don't know how these cars can even go that fast with how much their balls must weigh. Next thing I know I'm reading in the program about innovations in engine design and strategies for dealing with the new limit of 100kg of fuel per race. So apparently I'm now both a racing fan and burgeoning petrol head. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE.

The race ended with with a British racing driver as the winner making everyone mad with joy and patriotism, and me bewildered at myself and realizing that I had a sunburn for the first time in over 10 years (it's all coming back to me now. Having a sunburn SUUUUUUUHHKS). StereoNinja and I hightailed it back to the car in order to drive all the way to London to see Ben Folds with the Heritage Orchestra at Barbican. I've seen Ben Folds with an orchestra before. What I had not seen before was Ben Folds' new piano concerto which he'd spent a year writing and which was a highly unusual mix of classical and modern styles. Nor had I seen him lead an entire orchestra in a spontaneous episode of Rock This Bitch. For the uninitiated, Rock This Bitch is a thing that happens at many Ben Folds shows in which someone in the audience waits til a quiet moment to shout "ROCK THIS BITCH!" and then Ben Folds makes up a song on the spot containing the words "rock this bitch" that is completely different from any version of Rock This Bitch he's played before. This is not the first orchestra he's convinced to play Rock This Bitch with him, but it is the first time I'd seen it live, so I can pretty much go ahead and die now. If you'd like to be ready to die also, here's a video of the whole process:


Once Ben Folds had finished blowing my fucking mind again, we headed home. After a concert, an F1 race, and a brilliant party, I was completely exhausted (also crispy and pink as all fuck) and not looking forward to going home and cleaning up the mess we'd made on Saturday. So imagine my total fucking delight when we finally got home only to find that the guests we had abandoned in our house had cleaned up absolutely EVERYTHING before they left like a couple of magical party debris erasing genies, thus making the entire thing into a PERFECT weekend. Or indeed, the Epic Weekend of Pasta Salad and Loud Noises.

Update: I have just remembered another conversation from my 4th of July party between the four Americans that occurred when the turk mentioned she had gone somewhere that had REAL rye bread and the other three of us all sat up and went "Get out. Seriously? With the seeds and everything? WHERE? WHERE IS THIS RYE BREAD?" The reason we all reacted so strongly is that we've all had a common experience, shared I suspect by almost all Americans living here, of having ordered a sandwich on rye or rye toast somewhere and being served instead with bread that is actually white bread and pumpernickel swirled together. Listen, because I cannot stress this enough: that is not rye bread. There's not even any caraway seeds in it, which while some real rye bread doesn't have caraway seeds either, that kind of rye is pointless. If there is one food I miss from America more than any other food it is rye toast to go with my omelette. Without rye toast, an omelette is just eggs with some other shit in it. Rye toast is the shit, man.

I now return you to you irregularly scheduled self deprecation and spider freak outs.

*These were specifically for the benefit of the turk since as a native Ohioan she was the only one likely to have had them before. If you don't know what a buckeye is, as far as I can tell it is a nut (or seed? I'm too lazy to google which one it technically is but I think of it as nut) that is either exactly the same as or indistinguishably close to a conker. The tree it grows on is the state tree of Ohio and it is the mascot of the state's largest institution for secondary education, The Ohio State University. Somewhere along the line, some total fucking snack genius got the idea to make balls of candied peanut butter and dip them in chocolate, which is both delicious and looks exactly like a buckeye. Despite not encountering them before, the group ate the crap out of them and now I don't have any more.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Amberance Goes To [REDACTED]

About a week ago, I was doing this temp job for a few days which turned out to be the single most blogable thing that has happened to me since I've been here. And annoyingly I can't really tell you anything about it, because I had to sign a social media non-disclosure agreement that said I wouldn't tell you where I was and I wouldn't tell you who else was there (this was a pointless concern, since if someone important/famous had been there, I almost certainly wouldn't have recognized them because knowing who people are is not my strong suit (witness my once asking my brother "What is a Kardashian?"), so I couldn't tell you who I may or may not have seen even if I wanted to. I would, however like to point out that posh people generally do wees the same as everybody else in my recent experience). It even had specific words in it that I wasn't allowed to use in conjunction with anything I said on the subject, which eliminated most of the nouns and verbs I could use to talk around the situation.

The only word that seems to be left to me at this point is "hat". SERIOUSLY YOU GUYS, WHAT IS WITH YOUR HATS? First of all, where are men even getting these top hats? Is this an item in every Englishman's wardrobe that I didn't know about? Can you rent them? Why don't more top hat wearers grow mutton chops, which in my mind is the entire point of wearing a top hat? Also, god forbid that you take your hat off. There are people walking around, mostly men, also wearing hats, politely taking people aside and saying "Sir, I am afraid you can't be in this area without a hat" and then the other guy goes "Oh sorry, my bad" or something a lot more stereotypically British and wealthy sounding and goes and dons a hat. And I am not kidding about stereotypically wealthy sounding Englishman - StereoNinja does a joke voice which I call Posh Old Man Voice that I think is hilarious, and I overheard a guy talking like that and started giggling, then realized he wasn't "doing" a voice, he actually talks like that.

That is just the men. The women...I don't even...seriously, WHAT IS ON YOUR HEAD? Is that...an aquarium? Mind you, I was also made to wear a hat (which was provided to me because in what universe would I own a fancy hat?), but my hat was just, you know, a hat. And sure, lots of ladies around me were also wearing hats that did in fact resemble a hat, but those hats mostly appeared to have been deliberately created to go with the dresses they were wearing, which I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure mostly were mostly the work of top class fashion designers that people who are not me will have heard of. But then the crazy hats. I am not kidding about the aquarium hat, by the way, but there were others, each one bigger, weirder and less hat-like than the next. Oh and also a camera crew running around the place all day long grabbing crazy-hatted women and stuffing a microphone in their face and saying "TELL ME ABOUT YOUR HAT!" I really, truly, could not have been more out of my element in this setting if it had taken place on Venus.

Oh, as far as who I maybe did or didn't see: I think it is probably within the rules to report that, as predicted, I recognized not one single person. The closest I got was when I was coming out of the ladies toilets (which have baskets full of hair pins and extra nylons and other assorted things it would never occur to me to provide for my guests) and one of the other workers said to me, "Oh, you just missed [REDACTED] going by! She was right over here not two minutes ago!" to which I replied "Huh. Neat." because there was a zero percent chance I would have known who that was without being told even if I had been there when she walked by.

Finally, I would just like to report that [REDACTED]*-drawn coaches look all fancy and cool, but really they just go too slow and back up traffic for miles and shit all over the road.



*For real, the thingy I signed says I can't use that word if I talk about this.