Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 3)

Are you ready for more Fifty Shades of Unbearable Drivel? Hooray! First of all though, I've been shortlisted in the Humour category for the Irish Blog Awards and the Wildcard category for the Image.ie Blog Awards so a HUGE thank you and awkward hug to the people who nominated me. The Image.ie one is decided by votes, so if you enjoy my sweary rambling, then please click here and vote for me!

(Catch up: Vol 1 and 2)

And now, this.


Christian and Ana finally get around to making that stir-fry, although I imagine Ana did most of the work on that front, seeing as Christian was bewildered by unchopped red peppers earlier. They're sitting on Kate's Persian rug, eating their noodles and drinking white wine (easy known Kate is away, otherwise I'd hope that she'd tell these jerks to stop eating on her nice rug and use the damn table, fucking pronto) and Christian is described thusly:

Christian leans against the couch, his long legs stretched out in front of him. He’s wearing his jeans and his shirt with his just-fucked hair, and that’s all.

Two things.
A - Did she have sex with his hair?
and B - He's wearing jeans and a shirt and "that's all"?
That's pretty much fully dressed, Ana.

Their conversation eventually turns back to Christian buying the company that Ana works for, when she tells him that she's still mad at him.

“I know but you being mad, baby, wouldn’t stop me.”

Sound.

“If I leave and find another job, will you buy that company, too?”
“You’re not thinking of leaving, are you?” His expression alters, wary once more.
“Possibly. I’m not sure you’ve given me a great deal of choice.”
“Yes, I will buy that company, too.” He is adamant.


So apart from being infuriatingly condescending AND CRAZY, here's another situation where Ana has told him how she feels about his actions and he's just like "you're so cute when you're mad, and I couldn't give a fuck about what you want, remember? Let's fuck!" 

So instead of Ana being utterly horrified by the amount of control that Christian is hell-bent on having over her work life, they do some terrible, unamusing banter where they're supposedly being sarcastic with each other and then go have sex with vanilla ice cream thrown in the mix. VANILLA, GEDDIT? LIKE THE SEX THEY'RE HAVING! HA HA HA. THEY'RE SO FUNNY.

At least Ana actually uses the word vagina this time, so that's progress and a definite improvement on "down there". She also tells us really helpful things like "Oh...it’s cold" when Christian eats ice cream off her boobs. Such insight. Oh and when they both come, it's described as such:

Like the sorcerer’s apprentice I am, I let go, and we find our release together.

I don't know about you, but if I hear the words "sorcerer's apprentice", I immediately think of this:

Yeah, Mickey. You dirty little mouse.

After all the sticky sex and frankly, wasting of perfectly good Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Ana drifts off to sleep and has a nightmare about the girl that approached her outside work the previous night. She wakes up screaming and tells Christian about the encounter and to the surprise of exactly no-one, it turns out that it was Leila, his ex-sub.

What if she means a lot to him? Perhaps he misses her? I know so little about his past...um, relationships. She must have had a contract, and she would have done what he wanted, given him what he needed gladly. Oh no - when I can’t. The thought makes me nauseous.

Bear in mind that Ana is talking about a girl who was bedraggled and gaunt and quite clearly in a bit of a state when she saw her, not to mention the bloodied bandage on her wrist, which would read as a suicide attempt to anyone else, but Ana's main concern is that Christian might still be into her.

On hearing this news, Christian jumps out of bed in a panic to call someone named Welch, tells them to "find her", says he'll talk to Leila and that she's in trouble. Ana follows him out to the kitchen and offers to make tea.

“Actually, I’d like to go back to bed.” His look tells me that it’s not to sleep.

AH HERE. His unstable ex-sub has been FOLLOWING Ana and he said himself that Leila is in some kind of trouble, and therefore desperate but hey, let's bone. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

In fairness to Ana, she says she wants to know what the fuck is going on, in so many words. Christian is all "it doesn't concern you" only, eh, the fuck it doesn't, as this girl has TRACKED HER DOWN AT HER PLACE OF WORK. It turns out that "the situation" he kept banging on about in the last book when he had to leave Georgia in a hurry, was Leila turning up at his apartment and trying to kill herself.

Christian asks Ana why she didn't tell him about Leila yesterday, but she just forgot about it apparently and now it's time for more sex.

“Forget about her. Come.” He holds out his hand.

Oh, ok then. I suppose having TWO scary stalkers isn't anything to be worried about then.


The next morning, Ana is fiddling with her hair in the mirror, but oh it's just TOO LONG. Just like how she's TOO THIN and TOO PRETTY. She asks Christian how often he works out and he tells her about his personal trainer, Claude. He says she'd like him as a trainer and that he needs her fit for what he has in mind for her. Clearly Claude is on the approved list of men that she can be around, as Christian isn't flying into a rage at the thought of him LOOKING AT HIS PRECIOUS ANA AND MAYBE TOUCHING HER ARM SOMETIME.

“Okay, I’ll meet Claude.”
“You will?” Christian’s face lights up in astounded disbelief.


Astounded disbelief. I swear to god, these people have the weirdest reactions.

His expression makes me smile. He looks like he’s won the lottery, though Christian’s probably never even bought a ticket - he has no need.

BECAUSE HE'S SUPER RICH YOU GUYS, REMEMBER?

Ana says she wants to get her hair cut, lodge a cheque that Christian had given her from before (when they broke up, I think?) and buy a car. Christian then hands her the keys to the Audi he bought her for her graduation in the last book, which she had given back. Ah, no, the cheque was him reimbursing her for selling on her old VW Beetle. Something like that. Something boring. And again, way to leave people who haven't read the first book at all (or read it ages ago and can't remember all the interminable admin that went on) completely in the dark as to what the fuck is going on.

Ana tries to hand him back the cheque so she'll be buying the Audi off him instead of just being given one.

“Oh no. That’s your money.”
“No, it isn’t. I’d like to buy the car from you.”
His expression changes completely. Fury - yes, fury - sweeps across his face.


FURY x2. Again with the weird reactions. "Hello, I saw your car on DoneDeal, what's your best price?" "FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING FUCK." Sounds fair.

Ana rips up the cheque, so Christian storms off into another room and makes a phonecall, depositing a heap of money into her bank account.

"How do you know my account number?”
My ire takes Christian by surprise. 

 (Because he DIDN'T think that was an insanely intrusive thing to find out, unasked?)
“I know everything about you, Anastasia,” he says quietly.


NOOOOOOOOPE. NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

And just to be clear:


However, they're both standing there, really mad at each other, her at him for being a controlling asshole, and him at her for showing some backbone. So naturally, they end up making out up agin' a wall, but he's out of condoms so they go for breakfast instead of riding on the carpet. THANK GOD.

“Okay,” I acquiesce and just like that, our fight is over.

AGAIN. NOPE. Your fight isn't over, you're both just ignoring the glaring issues in your horrible relationship and going for pancakes instead. I mean, granted, pancakes can probably solve most problems, but I don't think a controlling, manipulative, fucking insane boyfriend would count among them.

Ana pays for breakfast, which makes Christian all grumpy, like the last time when she offered to pay for their meal in IHOP and he was TOTES EMASCULATED. Independence in women is SO UNAPPEALING.

Christian then brings Ana to a fancy salon called Esclava (which is the Spanish term for female slave, so at least EL went to the trouble of looking up at least one word in a dictionary) and we get another classic James description, like all the GLASS and STEEL of Christian's office building in the first book.

The interior is all white and leather. At the stark white reception desk sits a young blond woman in a crisp white uniform.

It's WHITE, you see, and the reception desk is WHITE and WHITE WHITE WHITE THIS WORD HAS LOST ALL MEANING. WHITE.

Ana is completely baffled by the fact that the receptionist and Christian know each other, like really really unnecessarily confused. I just thought maybe he gets his hair cut here, but I forgot about him being a super-successful super-rich super-businessman for a second, so it turns out that he owns the salon, along with three others. Suddenly, a gorgeous older woman in a black salon uniform appears  and Christian goes over to talk to her.

Ana refers to her as Platinum Blonde while describing her, which is something that Ana does constantly when she meets or sees someone whose name she doesn't know. Every time. So far in this book we've had Miss Very Short Hair and Red Lipstick (the girl who welcomed them to José's show), Blond Shock (a guy with "a shock of bright blond hair" who had the audacity to say that the portraits of Ana were nice) and Ghost Girl (Leila). It's extremely annoying.

Anyway, there's all this build-up to Ana figuring out who this foxy woman is, eventually culminating with:

Then it hits me like a wrecking ball, and I know, deep down in my gut on a visceral level, I know who it is. It’s her. Stunning, older, beautiful.
 

It’s Mrs. Robinson.


DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN. Mrs. Robinson is what Ana has been calling Elena, a friend of Christian's who had a fling with him when he was fifteen. Well, that and Mrs. Paedo. Because Ana is a massive child.

****
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WILDCARD, BITCHES!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 2)

Heyoooo it's that time again!

Catch up with Vol. 1 here.


Christian and Ana get to the restaurant and he immediately orders steak for the two of them, without so much as looking at Ana. He's essentially the asshole character from an Eighties film that Molly Ringwald finally realises is terrible and walks out on and everyone cheers. He is the opposite of a romantic hero. But apparently an arrogant, cruel, controlling and abusive fuckface is what women are looking for in a man nowadays and if you'll excuse me, I'm off to BURN DOWN EVERYTHING.

Over dinner, Christian angrily tells Ana off for leading José on with her hug and kiss, as if his fucking planet-sized jealousy isn't actually the issue here. This is a guy who literally just bought seven giant portraits of Ana's face so OTHER PEOPLE CAN'T LOOK AT HER.

He snaps at the waiter he orders wine from (nothing gets a girl going like her date being unnecessarily rude to waiting staff) and Ana wonders what his problem is. But really, for a guy who's meant to be so WONDERFUL and MISUNDERSTOOD, he does an awful lot of snapping at and generally being an asshole to people he clearly sees as less important than he is. Would you like to know how often Christian "snaps" at people? Because I counted.

32 times. (He is CONSTANTLY SNAPPING. Although he only snarls at Ana 8 times.)

Isn't he a fucking DELIGHT?

In the meantime:

"Somewhere in the depths of my psyche, my inner goddess rises sleepily, stretches, and smiles. She's been asleep for a while."

Oh here we fucking go. Someone please shoot that bitch with a tranquiliser gun and maybe she'll go back to sleep.

They talk some stuff over, he tells her she should have used the safe word during their last encounter (which is true, although he also could have read the situation a little better) and says that he's been miserable for the past five days too, although his way of saying that is "I’m in perpetual night here".


Anyway, they eat dinner (when her steak arrives, Ana's reaction is "Holy hell. Food" because she's forgotten that she's in a restaurant, I guess?) and Christian says he has a proposition for her.

He has a proposition? What now? A couple of scenarios run through my mind: kidnap, working for him. No, nothing makes sense.

If KIDNAP is something that legitimately comes to mind when, over dinner, your ex-boyfriend says he has a proposition for you, THEN WHAT THE JAYSUS FUCK ARE YOU STILL DOING THERE?

They get into the car after dinner and Taylor drives them back to Seattle, while they discuss this proposition, which basically turns out to be something along the lines of "let's keep fucking, but this time I won't wallop you with a belt". Although Christian's opening gambit, said with an entirely straight face and without a hint of humour (because it's Christian and he's precisely zero craic) is:

"Do you want a regular vanilla relationship with no kinky fuckery at all?"

Imagine saying that and being dead serious. Imagine. Kinky fuckery, like. State of him.

They agree to do away with all the rules and punishments, but Christian still doesn't want to be touched because of his childhood, crack whore mother, etc etc, whatever. He actually calls his mother "the crack whore" in that conversation, because the writing in this is just so awesome. Also, he reveals that his mother killed herself and it took four days for her body and baby Christian to be discovered.

All that takes three pages of outrageously boring dialogue, with a few nonsensical Anastasia classics thrown in, such as:

"My anxiety level has shot up several magnitudes on the Richter scale."

On a completely unrelated note, MAGNITUDE IS THE KID WHO PLAYED LEE JORDAN IN THE HARRY POTTER FILMS. I discovered this fact about a month ago and still can't believe it.

"I stare at him, stunned, with no thoughts in my head at all - like a computer crash."

No thoughts in her head at all apart from the computer crash one, which isn't anything like what a computer crash actually is.

Christian drops Ana off at her place and gives her a big gift-wrapped box and says he wants to see her the following night.

“My boss wants me to go for a drink with him tomorrow.”
Christian’s face hardens. “Does he, now?” His voice is laced with latent menace.
“To celebrate my first week,” I add quickly.


LATENT MENACE. HOW LOVELY.

He agrees to collect her after her work drinks, Ana goes inside and opens the box to find the MacBook and Blackberry she had previously given back, along with a new iPad. See, latent menace is no big deal when it's swiftly followed by expensive gifts! Yaay! Also, the iPad has a playlist of songs that Christian put on it, to tell Ana how he feeeels because he has the emotional capabilities of a grumpy teenager.

The next day after work, Ana is heading for the bar across the road where everyone from the office is having a drink. Before that however, there's an infuriating amount of emails between her and Christian, many of which are only one sentence long, so I find myself hissing Have you cunts ever heard of texting? at the page.

Ana eventually leaves the office, only to be approached by a pale, dishevelled girl who looks a bit like her and knows her name. Her clothes are too big for her, she's got a manky bloodied bandage around one wrist and sadly says things like "What do you have that I don’t?" before wandering away.

"My subconscious rears her ugly head and hisses at me - She has something to do with Christian."

Ah, subconscious. Good of you to join us. Also, thank you Captain Obvious. She may as well have had TROUBLED FORMER SUB stamped on her forehead.

Ana gets to the bar, a bit shaken, has a few beers with her colleagues and proceeds to forget about the whole thing. Even though any normal person would be like "The weirdest thing just happened!" to the first person they'd meet. She gets talking to Claire, the receptionist and because Ana is just plain rude despite her innocent virgin act, starts to absent-mindedly wonder how Kate is doing on holiday, instead of listening to what Claire is saying. Thinking of Kate then reminds her:

Oh, and Ethan her brother will be back next Tuesday, and he’ll be staying in our apartment. I can’t imagine Christian is going to be happy about that.

OH HAI RED FLAG. For God's sake, it's none of Christian's business who Kate has over to HER APARTMENT, just because Ana happens to be sponging off her, rent free. And seriously, if your stupid boyfriend is going to freak out every time you interact with a man you're not related to, then it might be time to cut your losses and, as I've previously stated, RUN THE FUCK AWAY.

Anyway, Ana ends up chatting to Jack, her boss, (UH OH, UNSANCTIONED CONVERSATION WITH A MAN WHO HAS A PENIS) and when he asks her if she has any plans for the weekend, Christian magically appears and drapes his arm around her shoulder "in a seemingly casual display of affection - but I know differently. He is staking a claim, and on this occasion, it’s very welcome." OH PHEW, CRISIS AVERTED.

So he's meeting Ana's boss for the first time and instead of introducing himself and shaking his hand like a normal human, he wordlessly drapes himself all over his girlfriend, kisses her and "stares at Jack, his expression impassive." Then when Ana does the introductions, Christian goes “I’m the boyfriend.” Dude. Calm the fuck down. He's genuinely one step away from peeing in a circle all around Ana.

They leave and head to Ana's apartment, and Christian gives her a "scorching, panty-combusting look", which sounds downright painful. On the way there, Christian starts asking if Jack Hyde is good at his job and that he'd better stay away from Ana or "he’ll find himself on his ass on the sidewalk." Ana's all like "Eh, he hasn't done anything and you don't have that kind of power."

Christian gives me his enigmatic smile.
“You’re buying the company,” I whisper in horror.



CHRISTIAN HAS BOUGHT THE COMPANY THAT SHE WORKS FOR. ABORT ABORT GET OUT OF THE CAR. TUCK AND ROLL TIME, STEELE.

For once in her life, Ana actually has an appropriate reaction to something and is furious with him. He goes on about how he wanted to get into publishing anyway and SIP is a profitable company blah blah blah, it's clearly bollocks though, not least because his first explanation was “Because I can, Anastasia. I need you safe.” CHRIST ON A TRAMPOLINE. THE FURTHER SHE GETS AWAY FROM YOU, THE SAFER SHE IS. To her credit, she calls him an arse, although it's a wildly unlikely thing for an American to say, so well done there EL James. However, they both end up laughing, because his frightening need to control everything in Ana's life is actually hilarious, I suppose.

“Just because I have a stupid damn grin on my face doesn’t mean I’m not mad as hell at you,” I mutter breathlessly, trying to suppress my high-school-cheerleader giggling. Though I was never cheerleader - the bitter thought crosses my mind.

Really. Even with your sparkling personality. Quelle sur-fucking-prise. And surely right now you should be a little more concerned with the fact that your boyfriend is A TERRIFYING STALKER.

They get into the house and there's so much goddamn tedious conversation I can hardly stand it. He does his usual What's Ana Eaten Today? segment and when she says she hasn't eaten since lunchtime, he gets all frowny-faced, particularly when she says they'll have to go to the shop for food as there's nothing in the house and I keep thinking "Please just get a fucking takeaway and spare me a scene where you two insufferable titwipes go food shopping together."

“When was the last time you were in a supermarket?”
Christian looks out of place, but he follows me dutifully, holding a shopping basket.


Bastards.

Thankfully it's quick, but also completely pointless and doesn't actually move the plot along in any way, shape or form. They get back to the apartment, Ana gets started on a stir-fry and Christian says he wants to help.

I place a chopping board and some red peppers in front of him. He stares down at them in confusion.
“You’ve never chopped a vegetable?”
“No.”


Oh my fucking god. CONFUSED BY A VEGETABLE. Good luck making that sexy, Jamie Dornan.

Anyway, Ana has come up with a dastardly plan to drive him wild and makes sure to brush off him constantly while moving around the kitchen. Her plan works and Christian is overcome with desire:

“I think we’ll eat later,” he says. “Put the chicken in the fridge.”
This is not a sentence I had ever expected to hear from Christian Grey,
(?) and only he can make it sound hot, really hot.

Wow, "put the chicken in the fridge"? Talk dirty to me Christian. "I've finished peeling those spuds." OOHHHH. "Is there any ketchup in the press?" SOOOO SEXYYYY. Tools.

He carries her to the bedroom and says that she has to tell him exactly what she wants.

“Undress me.” I am panting already.
“Good girl,” he murmurs.

And my face does this:


Then follows an excruciating sex scene, where Ana has to repeatedly tell us how hot the entire thing is and there are terrible parts like "he then reaches down to his discarded jeans, and like a good boy scout, produces a foil packet." What the hell are boy scouts getting up to these days?

Also, while Ana is mid-blowjob, she thinks to herself "I feel like Aphrodite".


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2 (Vol. 1)

Alright then!

I'm going to try to post one of these a week and hopefully it won't take until this time next year. So here's Fifty Shades Darker, aka Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2, Volume One.

Let's go!


We begin with a short prologue from the immediately grating perspective of baby Christian Grey, hiding under a table while an unnamed man is shouting at and beating up his mother. Most of this prologue is taken up by the words “You are one fucked-up bitch” as the phrase is repeated six times in a row for no reason other than to fill up the word count, I suppose. Welcome back to Terrible Writing Town, kids! Haven’t you missed it?

The man turns on baby Christian Grey, at which point adult Christian wakes up with a start, for ‘twas all a dream and I guess we’re supposed to feel bad for him and his unpleasant childhood, which is nigh on impossible given what an irredeemable asshole we know him to be.

But back to sad-sack protagonist Anastasia Steele, who is balls-deep in misery since breaking up with Christian at the end of the last book, which you would have to have read before this as there’s absolutely no indication for the uninitiated as to what the fuck is going on.

Ana has started a new job at a publishing company and OF COURSE her new boss wants to bone her because every male character in this series immediately wants to have sex with Ana, despite her being completely devoid of personality.

After her first day at the office, she comes home to an empty flat as Kate is away on holiday and so she stares at a brick wall for the evening. Seriously. Then a delivery of two dozen white roses arrives with a note from Christian, congratulating her on her first day of work. A perfectly normal thing to do once you've broken up with someone, yes?

"Dutifully, I make my way into the kitchen to hunt down a vase."

Dutifully. Because even inanimate flowers can boss Ana around.

Get us some water, bitch.

Also, Ana hasn't eaten in FIVE DAYS apparently because she's SO SAD, which just seems like such utter bollocks. I just had my lunch and I'm hungry again.

Then, at work, an email from Christian arrives (he's tracked down her work email address, but this doesn't bother Ana in the slightest) and OH MY GOD I FORGOT ABOUT ALL THE PAINFUL EMAIL EXCHANGES. From, Subject, Date, Time and To ARE NOT NECESSARY EVERY FUCKING TIME.

Anyway, Christian is asking whether Ana wants a lift to José's art show opening the following night back in Portland and because she's never heard of public transport, she says yes. This takes six emails, with either "Christian Grey, CEO, Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc." or "Anastasia Steele, Assistant to Jack Hyde, Commissioning Editor, SIP" at the end of every one, because email signatures must be somehow integral to plot development.

So Ana borrows Kate's plum dress and black boots because she still doesn't own any goddamn clothes of her own, although "The dress is looser on me than it was, but I pretend not to notice."

Who is she pretending to, exactly? No one has pointed it out, she's narrating this to herself, so she HAS noticed and is trying to convince herself that she hasn't? That sentence makes no fucking sense and I hate it.

Before meeting Christian after work, Ana sadly checks out her reflection in the bathroom mirror.

"I am my usual pale self, dark circles round my too-large eyes."

Ugh, how awful for her, being a skinny white woman with large eyes. Gross.

She then wishes that she knew how to use make-up, before USING SOME MAKEUP and adjusts her hair "so that it hangs artfully down my back. I take a deep breath. This will have to do." Life is such a struggle and her hair only looks ARTFUL this evening. THE HUMANITY.

Christian's car is waiting for her outside, so Ana gets in.

"I turn and climb into the back, and there he sits - Christian Grey - wearing his gray suit, no tie, his white shirt open at the collar. His gray eyes are glowing."

Grey, grey, grey, grey, grey, grey, grey.


Fun fact! The word grey (or gray for 'Merica spelling) is used 77 TIMES in this book. NOT INCLUDING HIS NAME. EVERYTHING IS GREY. SO SUBTLE. MUCH STORYTELLING.

So there she is, sitting in the car marvelling at his Greyness and guess what the first thing he says to her is? Go on, maybe something like "Hello!" or "It's nice to see you!" Right?

FOOLISH HUMANS.

“When did you last eat?” he snaps as Taylor closes the door behind me.
Crap. “Hello, Christian. Yes, it’s nice to see you, too.”
“I don’t want your smart mouth now. Answer me.” His eyes blaze.


FUUUUUUUUUUCK OFFFFFFFFFF.

Take your "blazing" eyes and use them to set FIRE to your stupid fucking FACE.

Taylor drives them to Christian's helipad, he manages to calm the fuck down somewhat, there's a bit of general "wahh I've missed you" carry-on and as they're getting out of the car:

"He gives me a warm, avuncular smile that makes me feel safe."

Uh oh. EL James has been at the thesaurus again. Avuncular literally means LIKE AN UNCLE. So that's not creepy at all. And I know this because I bothered to LOOK IT UP. I have already done more research for this book than she has.

Christian straps her into the helicopter and apparently there's massive, throbbing sexual tension going on between them, even though the part of Ana could be perfectly played by a plank with a sad face drawn on it. They do that infuriating "Mr Grey", "Miss Steele" thing that makes me want to punch them both in the throat and there's also a bit of "Icarus being drawn to the sun" bollocks thrown in (twice in quick succession, in fact), because she only has the one goddamn simile.

As they're being driven to the gallery for José's show, Christian pulls on his cranky-pants and gets on Ana's case again.

“Those beautiful eyes look too large in your face, Anastasia. Please tell me you’ll eat.”


They get to the gallery and for the entire evening, Christian refers to José as "the boy" in his conversations with Ana, which is both condescending and vaguely racist. WHAT A DREAMBOAT.

It turns out that part of José's show is a series of close-up portraits of Ana's face, which she didn't know about and really, it was kind of a dick move for José to include them without asking her first. Naturally, Christian is furious and buys all seven pictures.

"I don’t want some stranger ogling you in the privacy of their home.”

First of all, put your pants back on Christian, they're just photos of her face, it's not like she's got her tits out and secondly, isn't it just as well she doesn't have a Facebook profile so? Although considering how amazed she was to have an email account in the last book, the idea of Facebook might blow her tiny mind altogether.

Christian then laments the fact that Ana is never that relaxed and happy looking with him, (YA THINK?) so she quite rightly bats back with:

“You have to stop intimidating me if you want that,” I snap.

“You have to learn to communicate and tell me how you feel,” he snaps back, eyes blazing.


For fuck's sake Christian, she told you how she felt ALL THE TIME in the last book, and you just chose to ignore her, you ASS. Then, Ana lays out her exact feelings on the subject, how he tells her not to defy him, but says he loves her "smart mouth" and how generally confusing it is being with him. So there, that's her communicating, just like he says he wants. AND HE IMMEDIATELY CHANGES THE SUBJECT.

He then tells her to say goodbye to José so they can go get dinner, she wants to stay but he's having none of it. So instead of telling him to go fuck himself and that she'll get the bus home, she says goodbye to José, who she hugs and kisses on the cheek, seeing as he's her friend and all. However, Christian flies into a sex-rage and drags Ana out of the building, down a side alley and kisses her "violently". But it's totally hot, so no big deal, I guess.

“You. Are. Mine,” he snarls, emphasizing each word. He pushes away from me and bends, hands on his knees as if he’s run a marathon. “For the love of God, Ana.” (Kick him in the crotch and run the fuck away!)
 

I lean against the wall, panting, trying to control the riotous reaction in my body, trying to find my equilibrium again.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper once my breath has returned.


YEAH, HEY SORRY FOR MAKING YOU DRAG ME INTO AN ALLEYWAY AND SHIFT THE FACE OFF ME EVEN THOUGH WE'VE BROKEN UP AND I NEVER FUCKING ASKED YOU TO.

This guy.

My blood pressure is not going to thank me for this.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Throwing Shade

I said I wouldn’t do it. The first time around it made me so angry, so irritated and generally brought about such a sense of despair for both humanity and reasonably decent sentence structure that I decided that would be the end of it.

But it’s been two years. And recently my curiosity woke up from beneath her fur-lined blanket, peered over her horn-rimmed glasses and poked me in the side, to borrow and paraphrase a fucking awful literary device familiar to many.

I read the first chapter of Fifty Shades Darker. And it was exactly as terrible as I expected. If not more so.


Weirdly, the very next day, the first trailer for the film was released. (Which I've already talked about over on Beaut.ie) And now I kinda feel compelled to point out, in detail, how outrageously stupid the second book is. It would seem that I can’t read about that particular horrible relationship without grabbing it and tearing it to pieces through the means of swearing and gifs and caps lock.

I know a lot of people are over Fifty Shades and all it entails and don’t want to hear any more about it, and I completely and entirely get that. However, I’m just doing this for my own amusement and if anyone wants to join me on this second little odyssey of anguish, then super. I’m going to try not to let it take over the entire blog (and my life) this time around, so I will hopefully have other things to talk about in between angry recap posts.

Fifty Shades of Tedious Fuckery 2: Coming soon.

And frequently. A lot like Ana Steele, really.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

That's Limerick City

Brief Exchange is back! And this time it's landed in Limerick, as part of the City of Culture shenanigans, so there are lovely weird posters all over the place down there, including mine!

This time around, the brief I got was:

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas Escher, Duchamp and Dali were pioneers in the art of visual manipulation. They each, using their own unique methods, mastered pieces which created illusions and took the viewer's eyes on a journey; forcing a double take. Contemporary artists, too, are digitally creating illusions which transform standard images into entertaining conundrums through a simple trick of the viewer's brain. You are invited to create a little visual trickery of your very own. Whether it's a painting or photograph that looks too surreal to be reality, or a simple graphic with a hidden image, your challenge is to design a poster which changes the familiar and causes the viewer to look twice.

Hoo boy.

I was stumped for ages and then ran off on holidays for two weeks, only to arrive back with six days to the deadline and STILL no idea what to do. However, our last day of holidays was spent in Disneyland (SUPERAMAZINGFUN), so I was on a bit of a Disney buzz when I got home and decided I wanted to do something princess-related.

The whole visual trickery thing was proving to be a difficult box to tick though and I also wanted there to be some kind of creepy element to it, because it's me. In fact, this is actually the first Brief Exchange poster I've done that doesn't have a zombie in it. I eventually came up with an idea that I was happy with, so here it is:


While I was putting it together I wasn't really sure if the underground part worked, as all I could see was the giant insect monster, but the Bear assured me that it does also look like a cave full of bunnies, like it's meant to.

However, my poster was almost immediately ripped by a passer-by (it's being replaced though - yay!) and I've decided that someone tried to steal it, rather than it being wanton destruction, so I'm taking as a big compliment from Limerick. Thanks, lads! They really went to town on it, actually.

The posters are all over Limerick city and on the Brief Exchange site, along with a map showing each one's location. There's some really brilliant design in this show, so do take a look.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Quelque Chose #26

You guys. I know I've been woefully remiss lately in terms of posting anything. At the end of June I ran off to LA and Vegas for a super amazing holiday, had tons of fun and then came back and had a HAPE of work to do, with a bit more work on the side. But I'm here now! And I have PLANS. PLANS, I TELL YOU.

But for the moment, join me in admiring this picture of a little known 1950s pin-up girl called Hilda, created by artist Duane Bryers and one of the only plus-size pin-ups to appear on American calendars.

So gorgeous!

More here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Head Over Heels

Let's do this thang. But first, have you taken the Buzzfeed "Which Sweet Valley High Character Are You" quiz? Because you should. I got Lila Fowler. SUCK IT, BITCHES.

Sweet Valley High #18: Head Over Heels


You may remember from the last book that there was mention of Bruce Patman and Regina Morrow being very cosy together. There was also the mention of Elizabeth being all concerned about it, (while berating Caroline Pearce for being a busybody, of course) and that's still on her mind at the beginning of this book. Well, that and the upcoming carnival that the school is throwing, "to raise money for handicapped children" (Cringe. Welcome to 1986.) at Fowler Memorial. Liz is the chairperson of the carnival committee, because she has a flair for organising "and this was a cause she believed in". Liz is so special, because it's not like everyone in the world would agree that raising money for disabled kids is a good idea.

But even Elizabeth Wakefield isn't quite as special as Regina Morrow. Beautiful, vivacious, raven-haired, beautiful, deaf - did I mention beautiful? - Regina. In the space of five lines, the word "perfect" is used three times in relation to her. It's amazing that Jessica hasn't already scratched her sparkling blue eyes out. But then again, Regina inspires happiness wherever she goes, and farts rainbows too. Perfect little rainbows.

It turns out that Elizabeth isn't the only one unimpressed with Bruce and Regina's rich-kid romance, though. Jessica is none too happy that Bruce is so smitten with Regina, treating her so well and fawning all over her, after he was such a dick to Jessica that time they briefly hooked up. Lila is also cranky, but that's just because she has a random vendetta against Regina, for also being rich and hot, but she reckons that Bruce and Regina might go the distance as a couple. And seeing as the lives of other kids at Sweet Valley are mere playthings to Jessica and Lila, they decide to make a bet. Jessica proclaims that they'll be broken up by the day of the carnival, Lila says no way and the loser has to write the victor's term paper. (Because betting money is "vulgar", according to Lila's daddy.)

After school, there's a carnival committee meeting with sexy Mr. Collins (did you know that he looks like Robert Redford? Because he does. 1980s Robert Redford, to be precise), where Elizabeth divides up all the carnival tasks and then everyone goes to the beach. Liz invites Mr. Collins to go with them, but he decides to actually be appropriate for once in his life and politely declines.

Not much actually happens at the beach, apart from Jessica seeing Bruce and Regina walking hand in hand, all loved up, which makes her vow to find a way to break them up. But really, the only reason I'm talking about the beach is because it's casually mentioned that both Jessica and Elizabeth slather on BABY OIL. WHILE SUNBATHING. IN CALIFORNIA. Good luck keeping those fabled peaches-and-cream complexions past the age of twenty, girls.

Regina goes for dinner at the Patman's Patmansion and it's a super stuffy affair, with five of them seated around a table big enough for fifteen and Bruce wearing a blazer and a tie. Chillin': you're doing it wrong. Bruce's mother is being really embarrassing and practically shouting questions at Regina, with mad exaggerated lip movements. She also gets weirdly competitive when it comes up that Regina's mother is the parent advisor for the carnival committee and that Mr Fowler has donated a bunch of timber for the booths, because she hates the Fowlers.

"According to Marie Patman, the Fowlers were nouveaux riches - newly rich. Not like the Patmans and Vanderhorns, who were among the first families in Sweet Valley."

Hang on, who the eff are the Vanderhorns? And why hasn't Jessica Wakefield tried to ride any of them yet?

Anyway, Regina comes home after a bit of canoodling with Bruce at Miller's Point, to find her family all excited and pouring champagne. It turns out that there's a doctor in Switzerland who might be able to restore her hearing with a year of special treatments at his hospital.

"You'll be able to hear as well as the rest of us. Concerts and birds singing and babies crying."

Who actually wants to hear babies crying? That is not the way to sell this thing, Morrows. Anyway, after her initial excitement, Regina freaks out when she realises how long it will take. You see, she's in love (sing it with me) for the verrrry firrrrst tiiiime and doesn't want to leave Bruce and all her friends behind for so long when she's just settled in and is happier than ever. So she decides she's not going to go and she's not going to tell Bruce about it either.

"If a day without Bruce feels like a year to me, what would a year without him feel like?"

I'm not very good at maths but I'm pretty sure the answer there is 365 years. There you go, Regina. You can have that one for free.

Elizabeth calls over to Regina's house to meet with Mrs Morrow and discuss their ideas for the carnival. However, Mrs Morrow isn't feeling well, because she gets stress headaches when things don't go well for Regina, due to her GUILTY SECRET. And of course, seeing as Elizabeth is the one person in town that people seem to randomly confess things to, Skye Morrow takes her chance to unload it all onto a teenager she hardly knows. It's why Elizabeth's hair is so big - it's full of secrets. And she wears the barrettes to keep them all in place.

So Skye tells Elizabeth all about her former days as a model in New York and how she took diet pills for a swimwear shoot in the early days of her pregnancy with Regina. The pills affected Regina's ear tissue and permanently damaged her hearing, so Skye blames herself for her daughter's deafness. She also tells Elizabeth all about the doctor in Switzerland, that Regina is refusing to go and asks her if she could try to change her mind about it.

Elizabeth figures that Regina hasn't told her parents that Bruce is the reason she doesn't want to go, but wonders how she can throw away such an opportunity and "felt she owed it to Regina to intervene."

"On the other hand, Elizabeth hated to interfere."

Bitch, PLEASE. You live for this shit and like nothing better than getting all up in other people's biznizz.

Aw, Regina looks cute. Bruce appears to have the exact same expression on his face as he did on the cover of Playing With Fire. He's like one of those gifs of Paris Hilton making the same face in every photo.

Meanwhile, Ken Matthews is cranky because he's running for president of the Student Centennial Committee (yeah, I don't know either) and had been running unopposed but suddenly Bruce Patman has declared his candidacy with a week to go until the election. Ken tells Jessica all about it and how Bruce is probably a shoe-in now that he's going out with Regina and is more popular than ever. Naturally, Jessica manages to come up with a way to use this information to fuck things up for Bruce and Regina and immediately begins scheming.

She decides to drop over to Regina's house, but calls beforehand, hilariously asking for Regina on the phone when her mother answers.

"Hello, is Regina there?" Elizabeth shot her a look. Jessica's cheeks turned bright red. "Oh how thoughtless of me, Mrs Morrow," she said quickly, "Of course she can't."

Oh Jessica, you beautiful, psychopathic dope.

Once she's gotten to the house, under the pretense of asking Regina and Skye to take part in a mother-daughter fashion show for the carnival, Jessica puts her plan into action. After complimenting Regina on a diamond bracelet that Bruce had given her, she casually mentions that there have been rumours going around about the two of them which suggest that Bruce is just dating her so people will vote for him in the totally not at all pointless Student Centennial Committee thing. Regina didn't know about Bruce running for the election, so she buys Jessica's lies. I really don't know why anyone believes a word that comes out of Jessica Wakefield's constantly lying mouth.

While she's on her way out, Jessica runs into Donald Essex, who's been staying with the Morrows. Donald was a patient of the Swiss doctor that Regina's parents want to send her to and he was invited to stay with them in an effort to convince Regina to give it a shot, as his hearing has been restored. Donald is super sexy of course, because only good-looking people get invited to Sweet Valley. There are definitely border patrol hotness checkpoints around that town. So Jessica flirts her pretty face off with Donald and then speeds off in the red Fiat, satisfied with her discord-sowing efforts and encounter with a random handsome dude.

Regina confronts Bruce about the election and he gets all weird about it, because he had intended it to be a surprise for Regina if he won, although I don't know how that would have worked as a surprise, seeing as it'd surely involve some manner of campaigning in the lead-up and she's deaf, not blind, dude. Regina takes his unwillingness to talk about it as proof that he's been using her, so they get into an argument that culminates with them breaking up and Regina flinging a ruby pendant at him that he had previously given her. Rich Kids of Instagram have fucking NOTHING on Sweet Valley's elite teenagers.

Elizabeth and Todd have some carnival business to discuss with Skye Morrow, so they call over to Regina's house. Sexy Donald answers the door and is all flirty and familiar with Elizabeth, thinking she's Jessica. Also, literally every time Donald turns up in the book, his sandy hair and green eyes get mentioned. He's practically a Wakefield! Anyway, for some ridiculous reason, Elizabeth is baffled by his reaction to her.

He looks as if he's seen me before, she thought. But I don't know who he is!

Christ on rollerskates Elizabeth, has it escaped your attention that you have an IDENTICAL GODDAMN TWIN? We're only reminded of it every eight seconds you know and really, this kind of thing happens all the freaking time to twins. My mother is a twin, so I know this to be true. It makes no sense at all for her not to realise what's happening here, especially since she KNOWS that Jessica had been over at the house previously. Anyway, Mrs Morrow isn't home, so Donald takes a message for her. And as they leave, Todd gets his knickers in a twist over how friendly and flirty Donald was and goes all huffy with Liz over it.

"What was all that about?" Todd demanded, following Elizabeth down the walk. "He seemed pretty friendly Liz, where'd you meet him?"

"Come on Todd", Elizabeth said lightly, getting into the car and fastening her seat belt. "I don't even know that guy!"
"Well he sure seems to know you." Todd said moodily.

HOW WILL WE EVER SOLVE THIS MYSTERY? Idiots.

Meanwhile, Regina has agreed to go to Switzerland after all, now that her and Bruce are splitsville. She tells Elizabeth about her decision and her view of what happened between her and Bruce, conveniently leaving Jessica's role out of things. Elizabeth ends up talking to Mr Collins about it, who reckons she shouldn't be so hard on Bruce and that people can change and she should keep an open mind about him. I mean, it's not like he tried to rape her when she was vulnerable and out of sorts after a motorbike accident or anything. OH WAIT.

Elizabeth and Todd eventually make up when they discover the glaringly obvious fact that Donald had mistaken her for Jessica. Well done, geniuses. It turns out that Todd is also of the opinion that Bruce has changed his ways and is genuinely miserable without Regina, so much so that he encourages Elizabeth to go to Bruce's house when he asks her over because he wants to talk to her. Sweet Valley collective amnesia. That must be what's happening here.

Elizabeth is wary at first (too bloody right) but sees that Bruce is really torn up. He breaks down crying, asking her if she has any idea why Regina broke up with him. Elizabeth takes pity on his sorry ass and explains Regina's reasons. He tells her that it was all a misunderstanding and he had wanted to keep the election stuff a secret in order to surprise Regina, etc etc. Then Liz drops the bombshell that Regina is leaving for Switzerland in a few days and that he shouldn't try to work things out with her or she'll never go.

That night, Bruce decides to write a letter for Regina, explaining everything and telling her how much he loves her. It's all very melodramatic, with lines such as:

"By the time you read this it will be too late for you to change your mind about the treatments."

He asks Elizabeth to sneak the letter into Regina's luggage, so she'll know the truth but will still go through with the procedures in Switzerland. Elizabeth obliges, because she sees that Bruce has really changed and is no longer a rapey asshole. So she drops over to Regina's house while she's packing and puts the letter into a scrapbook of photos in her suitcase.

At the carnival committee's final meeting, Elizabeth convinces everyone to vote for Bruce Patman in the centennial student rhubarb rhubarb president thing because he's such a GOOD GUY now. I can't remember what it's actually called and it's so pointless I'm not bothering to check.

Regina discovers Bruce's letter while on her flight and is all happy and crying and finds the ruby pendant in the envelope, the one that she had previously flung back at him. So that's all grand now, although so much shit goes down on a weekly basis in Sweet Valley, who knows what things will be like when she gets back in a year's time.

The day of the carnival arrives and it's a roaring success, there's food and games and people get to throw pies at Winston Egbert's face for a dollar a go. They raise a bunch of money for the hospital and Bruce wins the stupid election thing. Seriously, this might have been the most boring subplot so far. NEEDS MOAR VILLAINY. Speaking of which, seeing as Lila had technically lost the bet with Jessica, she wrote her term paper for her, but screwed Jessica over, only getting her a D. Considering how Jessica is never held accountable for her attempted life-ruining actions and tactics, this is probably as much retribution as we can expect. Oh, and now she's vowing revenge on Lila, as all good frenemies are wont to do. The end.

Notable outfit:
There wasn't nearly enough outfit descriptions in this book, so I'm giving it to Regina's Sunday morning ensemble:

"She got up and dressed quickly, putting on a pair of white cotton jeans and a striped t-shirt."

Oh hai Liz Hurley. And as a bonus, Lila also wears white trousers later on in the book. They're clearly the uniform of any self-respecting Sweet Valley rich girl.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 152
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 5
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 6
Amount of times people's eyes/faces "darkened": 4
Amount of times "beauty"/"beautiful" was used to describe Regina: 6

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Good Queen Jess

Warning: Contains lots of excitable caps lock action.

Last weekend, I skittered off to London to see Blithe Spirit on the West End. It's a very funny Noel Coward play, which happened to be starring a lady you may have heard of before and who I may have mentioned every so often in adoring tweets and whatnot, i.e. ANGELA AMAZO LANSBURY.

Luckily, my supercool friend Brenda lives in London and is a fellow Jessica Fletcher fan, so it stood to reason that we'd go to see her onstage together. Ridiculous premium seats were bought, because fuck it, IT'S JESSICA FLETCHER AND I WANT TO SEE HER EYEBALLS.


The day finally came, wonky excitable selfies were taken outside the theatre, a dinner of Fruit Pastilles, peanuts and delirious joy was had in Row H, because we weren't organised enough to have dinner before the show at 7.30. Incredulous whispers of "It's actually happening" and "We're in the same building as her RIGHT NOW" were shared.

The curtain rose. The show began. There were around fifteen minutes of sparkling dialogue, witty retorts and mentions of the soon-to-arrive Madame Arcati, who travels everywhere on her bicycle, apparently, which prompted me to happily hiss "OF COURSE SHE DOES!" at Brenda.


The doorbell rang on stage. She walked out.

SHE WAS FINALLY HERE. The place exploded in applause. Myself and Brenda almost gave her a standing ovation then and there, before she'd even said a word.

The show was absolutely brilliant, which was a pleasant bonus seeing as I would have been happy even if it was just her knitting a scarf for two and half hours. The whole cast were great but you couldn't take your eyes off Angela, who also delivered some knockout physical comedy BECAUSE SHE'S THE MOST SPECIAL LADY IN THE WORLD.


After the show (when we finally got to stand up and whoop and cheer our admiration) a beeline was made for the stage door, where a crowd had already gathered and barriers were in place. There were to be no autographs, warned the security man, (which was fair enough, seeing as she's an 88 year old lady after all and she'd be there all evening if that was the case) when she came out she was going wave to everyone and make her way to her car and that would be that.

She finally emerged from the door and the crowd went nuts. I took around twenty shockingly bad blurry photos, partly because I was so excited and also because I suddenly realised I was looking at her through my phone when she was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME IN REAL LIFE, so I wasn't even looking at the screen for a lot of it. But I got one! And that's all I needed!


OH HAI JESSICA

Best. Night. Ever.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Love Letters

Well well well.

Shall we see what's been going down in Sweet Valley town?

Let's.

Sweet Valley High #17: Love Letters 


Our story opens with school gossip Caroline Pearce getting up the morning after the big Patman party from the end of the last book. But don’t worry and for god’s sake, stop panicking because the Wakefields haven’t been forgotten about. It’s ok. We don’t even get as far as halfway through the second page before they’re mentioned, as everyone in Sweet Valley is just living their lives in relation to Jessica and Elizabeth.

You see, we’re kicking things off with Caroline because she’s been getting all these romantic letters from a guy called Adam and has been reading them out to everyone in school, which is a frankly bizarre thing to do. But she’s been getting loads of attention from the other girls in her class, as well as her sister because of the letters. Attention which she’s been longing for as poor Caroline is super lonely and fed up of being unnoticed and unpopular. However, what no one knows is that there is no Adam and Caroline has been writing these letters to herself.

It turns out that Caroline is such a gossip because she just wants to make friends but goes about it all wrong. She tries to know what’s going on with everyone because she feels left out, although her sister Anita points out that telling stories about people is the surest way to stay left out. Apparently it’s easy for Anita though, with her good looks and her almond shaped eyes and her excellent grades at college.

At breakfast that morning, Anita is reading the paper and disinterested in Caroline as usual, until she mentions that she’s going to the beach with the Wakefields, at which point she’s all ears.

“Anita thought the Wakefields were the nicest girls in Caroline’s class. She was always pushing Caroline to get to know the twins better.” 

Even college girls have a boner for Jessica and Elizabeth.

When Caroline says that she’s going to the beach with the Wakefields, what she means is that she overheard Cara Walker offering to give Jessica a lift there and butted in to ask if she could go along too. Apparently Jessica looked “noncommittal”, but that was good enough for Caroline to decide to chance her arm and stop by the house that morning.

Jessica sees that it’s Caroline at the door and persuades Elizabeth to answer it instead and fob her off. Elizabeth thinks it’s mean, but, surprise, does it anyway and then gets annoyed when Caroline tries to convince her to come to the beach as well, because she wants to work on a play for some competition at school. Even Saint Elizabeth, the personification of honesty and fairness and sympathetic smiles and kittens in flowerpots is kind of a bitch to Caroline. Having been rejected by both twins, Caroline leaves the house all sad and accidentally finds a copy of a letter from Alice Wakefield to a design firm in San Francisco by the bin that was put out for collection. Yes, I know, tenuous at best. However, the letter reveals that Alice Wakefield is considering a major job offer which, if she accepts, would mean the twins are moving to San Francisco.

DUN DUN DUUUNNN.

Cheered up by her newfound slice of juicy gossip, Caroline heads off to the beach in search of people to hang out with. Eventually, she spots Jessica, Lila and Cara sunbathing with their slender legs and perfect manicures. She tries desperately to think of something interesting to say to them and ends up blurting out some story about a row between Annie Whitman and Ricky Capaldo. The conversation soon turns to her mysterious boyfriend though, with Lila wanting to know when they can all meet him. Caroline quickly changes the subject and runs off to say hi to someone, but then catches Jessica doing an impression of her when she comes back. Fed up with trying to win favour with this bitch, she angrily throws the San Francisco letter in Jessica’s face. Ha! Take that, Wenchfield!

Jessica runs home distraught, as leaving Sweet Valley is “a fate too horrible to consider” and shows the letter to Elizabeth.

“A mixture of confusion, hurt and panic flashed in her blue green eyes.” 

Wakefields are fucking CHAMPIONS at emoting.

That evening, over pizza, the twins confront their parents about the potential move, but their plan to be reasonable goes out the window when Jessica starts shrieking about how unfair it is and how selfish they’re being. Ned angrily throws his napkin down on the table and sends Jessica to her room. She storms out, tossing her napkin on the table and Elizabeth follows, but she neatly folds her napkin before leaving. I’m not sure why we get so much napkin detail, but there you go. #napkin

Elizabeth has been busy writing her play, which is inspired by the romance between Victorian poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, after Olivia Davidson loaned her a book of Barrett’s poetry. Apparently the play that she’s been hard at work on is “filled with letters Browning had written”, so it sounds like she essentially plagarised the entire thing. HOW NOBLE AND FAIR AND HONEST.

But she’s not the only one who’s been lifting content wholesale from the Barrett-Browning love affair, as Caroline Pearce’s love letters from Adam have also been getting the Victorian poetry treatment. She’s been borrowing books of their work from the school library, all sneaky-like so no one will find out what she’s up to and wonders what it must have been like to be Elizabeth Barrett. (Out of your box on laudanum, if Wikipedia is to be believed.)

However, Caroline kicks it up a notch to get her sister Anita’s attention and pretends to be on the phone to Adam one evening when Anita arrives home after college. The plan works and Anita asks who she was talking to, so Caroline shows her the love letters and tells her all about Adam, delighted that her sister is so interested. Anita offers to go shopping with her the next day and says she knows a place that’ll do “something terrific” with Caroline’s hair.

Caroline is thrilled, but also can’t fight the feeling that the only reason Anita and the girls in school are taking an interest in her is because of her fake boyfriend. I actually really feel for Caroline, she’s so lonely and just wants some friends and a sister who actually gives a fuck about her! Come on people!

Meanwhile, the Wakefield twins have been plottin’ and schemin’ to convince their parents that Sweet Valley is the best place to live in the world EVAR and San Francisco is full of murderers. Their grand plan is to sign their parents up for all the mailing lists about events in the town, so basically they’re spamming them with brochures, which is supposed to remind them of all the good times they’ve had in Sweet Valley. Apparently Ned and Alice don’t react like normal people do to junk mail. i.e. FUCKING JUNK MAIL BULLSHIT FILLING UP MY GODDAMN RECYCLING BIN.

Back at school, Caroline is feeling more confident with her new hurr and scoop neck t-shirt, but still manages to put her foot in it with Bill Chase when she asks how his play for the competition is going and inadvertently comes off as a prying busybody. Then Annie Whitman tears into her for spreading stories about her and Ricky Capaldo. Womp womp.

After talking to Bill about the play, Caroline thinks he might be cheating and getting help from Mr Jaworski, the drama teacher and rushes over to tell Elizabeth, who is having lunch with Todd on her high horse.

When she leaves, Todd talks about Caroline being a troublemaker and how she should stay out of other people’s business. But while he’s MID SENTENCE, Elizabeth “held up her hand, signaling for Todd to be quiet”, like she’s Cleofuckingpatra and immediately starts to wonder aloud why Bruce Patman is sitting with Regina Morrow.

WELL ELIZABETH, MAYBE THAT’S NONE OF YOUR FLINGIN’ FLANGIN’ BUSINESS, YOU HYPOCRITE.

Also, may I remind you that she’s the one who writes the school paper’s gossip column and LITERALLY STALKED Regina in the last book to find out why she was leaving school early instead of just backing the fuck off when she clearly didn’t want to tell anyone what she was up to. But somehow Caroline is the Sweet Valley busybody, of course.

Here's Caroline all delighted with her fake letter. But oooh watch out, Elizabeth Judgeypants Wakefield is lurking. We know it's Elizabeth because her clothes are so fucking BORING. Also, barettes.

Anyway, that evening the twins move to phase two of their plan to stay in Sweet Valley and treat their parents to a takeaway veal dinner from their favourite restaurant and lemon chiffon pie from Sweet Valley’s most spectacular bakery. Then Elizabeth announces that she wants to read her play to the family for their feedback and makes a big deal out of how the competition is the only one like it in California and how lucky she and Jessica are to go to Sweet Valley High. While saying all this she sounds like one of those insufferable radio ads where two idiots have a conversation that consists of repeating the name of a tile shop and its website over and over.

So Elizabeth reads out her dumb play and to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention, Jessica suddenly realizes that the Robert Browning letters that Elizabeth has filled her one act play with - instead of actually writing anything original - sound verrrry familiar.

As soon as Elizabeth is done, Jessica rushes off to ring Lila and tells her that Caroline has been writing the letters to herself. Lila reckons there still is an Adam but that he’s just been plagarising his letters. Either way, the two decide to up the ante in order to find out what’s going on and demand to know when Caroline is going to see him again, telling her they’re going to throw a party in Adam’s honour at Lila’s mansion.

In between all this, Caroline digs herself even deeper into the lie and tells everyone that she’s going to visit Adam in Cold Springs for the weekend. She’s even got all her proof sorted out, as her cousin gave her a Cold Springs tshirt when she broke up with a non-imaginary guy that went to the school there and after rummaging around the Oracle office in secret, manages to get her hands on a Cold Springs school paper.

How and ever, Jessica sees Caroline out by the Las Palmas Canyon that weekend while she’s on the way back from dragging Ned Wakefield out there under false pretenses in order to remind him how nice it is out there. Sure what else would you be doing of a Saturday.

But when she and Lila pounce on Caroline back at school, Caroline brazens it out with her Cold Springs tshirt and stories about romantic dinners and hiking and picnics. Jessica evilly twirls her silky hair around her finger and points out that Elizabeth might like to hear one of Adam’s letters, seeing as she’s working on a play about them, the Barrett-Browning ones, to be precise.

The next day, Lila and Jessica get Caroline over to their table at lunch while Elizabeth is there and make her read out one of Adam’s letters. When Elizabeth realizes the letters are cogged, she keeps quiet in front of Jessica and Lila, but is furious with them for setting up Caroline like that.

“Angry sparks shooting from her blue-green eyes, Elizabeth tried to catch Jessica’s gaze.” 

LIZBOT MALFUNCTION. MEEP MORP.

When they’re alone, Caroline tearfully fesses up to Elizabeth, as she knows she can be trusted. She asks Elizabeth not to read her play at the competition as then everyone will figure out what’s been going on and she’ll be a laughing stock. Liz, however, is none too pleased.

“She’d slaved over this play and she’d been really looking forward to reading it.” 

Girl, please. You ripped off a dead poet’s letters and considering it’s a one act play, how much original dialogue actually made its way in there? Slaved me hoop. Anyway, she agrees to look into seeing if she can submit her play without reading it aloud.

Elizabeth then confronts Jessica to see what her game is with torturing Caroline, without letting her know the truth. Jessica tells her she doesn’t think there really is an Adam, but instead of confronting Caroline outright, she has decreed that Caroline needs to be publicly humiliated for trying to trick her and Lila, which is why they’re throwing the party that weekend. Jessica Wakefield ain’t nothing to fuck with. She also calls Caroline a spoiled brat, which is a bit rich considering that this whole conversation takes place with Jessica sunning herself on a lilo in the Wakefield’s pool.

Meanwhile, Caroline miserably ends up telling her sister Anita what’s going on when she asks after Adam. When she sees how lonely and unhappy Caroline is, Anita has a heart to heart with her sister where they talk through Caroline’s behaviour in school and how she needs to realise that if what she’s about to say is going to hurt anyone, then it’s not worth it. Caroline attentively takes in all of Anita’s advice and decides to change her ways, so she apologises to the people in school that she had spread rumours about and tells Elizabeth to go ahead with her play reading. Elizabeth asks if she's sure and says she doesn't want to cause any problems for Caroline.

"Caroline was amazed, and very ashamed of herself. Never in her life had she been that selfless."

There's no better way to realise what all your worst faults are than by standing in the slender blonde size-six glow of a Wakefield twin.

Back at the split-level, ranch-style, overly-hyphenated house, Ned and Alice return home after a dinner in some other favourite restaurant of theirs that the twins arranged. They then reveal that Alice isn’t taking the job offer after all and they’ve been yanking the twins’ chains for the past week because they reacted like selfish jerks when they first heard the news. It’s just as well, as surely the Wakefields leaving Sweet Valley would be akin to the ravens ditching the Tower of London.

So Elizabeth reads her play the day of the competition, to "wild applause" (ugh) and – oh shocker – she wins. Caroline congratulates her and Elizabeth decides to try to help Caroline out, as the party is the following night and she hasn’t managed to work up the nerve to confess the truth to everybody yet. Elizabeth and Todd seem to have a plan to rescue Caroline, so they meet her outside Fowler Crest (you’ve got to love it) and arrive at the party together. But not before a backhanded compliment from Todd.

“Wow”, was all Todd could say. “Is that really you?” 
Caroline smiled shyly. “Do I really look nice?” 
“Yeah. There’s something different about you tonight - and it’s not just your new dress. You’re pretty,” he said. 

Fuck you Todd.

So Caroline sweeps into the party and decides to make her announcement, but before she gets to confess that Adam is made up, she’s interrupted by a tall handsome stranger, who calls her name and apologises for being late with a hug and a kiss. It turns out that it’s a friend of Todd’s called Jerry Fisher, called in to save Caroline from having to admit the truth. Hooray!

Jerry plays the part perfectly all night, dances with Caroline, only pays attention to her and even rejects Lila Fowler’s request for a dance. Ermahgerd! However, Caroline’s relief wears off after a while when she realizes that now she’ll have to keep the deception up after the party and decides it’s better to tell the truth. So she gets up to make another announcement, confesses that she made Adam up and that the guy with her is just playing a role and runs off crying. Jerry follows her out onto the lawn, tells her how brave she is and that most people would have just kept quiet. Most people, i.e. me, because while reading all that I kept thinking “What are you doing! Fuck those smug bitches, you don’t owe them anything!”

I would not do well in Sweet Valley High. Anyway, Jerry really likes Caroline, she gets the shift for real this time and they agree to write to each other and visit when they can. Yay, pen-pal fuck buddies! The end!

Notable outfit:
"Caroline looked beautiful. She was wearing a flattering new green satin dress, and Anita had brushed her hair back with tortoiseshell combs. Her eyes looked bigger than usual, thanks to a bit of green shadow lining her lashes."

YES. Eighties Debs dress realness. (Why yes, I have been shotgunning episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race at every opportunity.)

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 10 (Blammo.)
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 5
Amount of times people blush: 11
Amount of times people cry: 7

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ready? Fight! In An Organised Fashion!

While MarioKart on the SNES was the first video game I ever played, Street Fighter II wasn't far behind. I love Street Fighter II and because of it, beat 'em ups were my absolute favourite type of game to play when I was growing up. Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Dead or Alive, Soul Blade, love, love, love, LOVE.

So when the Bear got me a collection of early 90s Street Fighter II pins as a present, I was obviously delighted. (However, stuff from the 90s being listed as "vintage" on eBay most certainly does not delight me.) And look! How cool! Right in the nostalgia!


But what to do with such a deadly set of little badass motherfuckers? It was only a few days ago that I finally realised how I could use them, in a way that was both practical AND showed them off.

I had been thinking that our kitchen needed a memo board, because I kept finding expired Tesco and Boots vouchers that would get lost in the piles of crap that kept accumulating all over the flat. So during a rather epic clear-up over the weekend, I had an idea. A stroke of goddamn genius, if I may say so myself.

STREET FIGHTER MEMO BOARD.

One trip to Ikea later and BLAMMO! 


I'm so pleased with myself, it's actually ridiculous.


Organisation has never been so kickass.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Rags To Riches

WELL. Will we do another Sweet Valley High recap? Go on so. But first, here's a brilliant article by an ACTUAL FORMER SVH GHOSTWRITER. It's so good and it's fascinating how her own life at the time was pretty much the polar opposite to the sparkly, sunny world of the Wakefield twins. (Thanks to lovely Sinéad for reminding me of it recently!) Go read it. It's great. And it also suits this particular recap rather well, as this book was her first foray into the ridiculousness that is Sweet Valley High.

Now then. Let's GO!

Sweet Valley High #16: Rags To Riches


So, you guys, remember Roger Barret? He's super good at running, but also really poor and Lila Fowler was suddenly interested in him when everyone saw what a great athlete he was, until she found out that he had to secretly work as a janitor to pay the rent because his mother was on her own and also quite sick and he ended up going out with his hippy friend Olivia who had been there for him all this time? Yeah? Good. Well, his mother died at the end of the last book and it turned out that his father was actually Bruce Patman's deceased uncle. TWIST! Which means that Roger is now really rich and Bruce's cousin to boot. Hence the title of the book.

Since this revelation, Roger has moved into the fancy Patman mansion (Patmansion?) and his new family are throwing a welcome party in his honor in the Sweet Valley Country Club, so everyone at school is all excited. Everyone including the sun-streaked, sparkling and perfect size six Jessica Wakefield, who suddenly finds herself thinking that Roger looks pretty cute and it DEFINITELY doesn't have anything to do with his overnight millions. Definitely.

But back to Roger. He feels awkward living in the Patman's house and Bruce is being kind of a dick to him, which doesn't help matters. Nor does Mrs Patman, as she's a haughty bitch who looks at him disdainfully and does things like coolly lecturing him on how important it is that he makes a good impression while she rubs moisturiser onto her fancy face in front of her vanity mirror. She's pretty much a lady-villain from Dynasty.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Todd think there's something up with Regina Morrow. She's missed a few classes over the last while and Todd saw her waiting in the car park at school, looking all nervous and she ran off when he asked her if there was anything wrong. So naturally, they decide to spy on her and follow her the next time she leaves school early. The nosy-ass detectives see her meet a handsome older man downtown, who accompanies her into a tall, glamourous office building. It's a MYSTERY and also none of their goddamn business, but hey. They also run into Lila Fowler, who had a dentist appointment and seems to have spotted Regina too. Oh, and then Roger shows up with Mr Patman outside The Sports Shop, because Mr Patman is buying him a load of new running gear. That's genuinely what the shop is called. The Sports Shop.

Anyway, that weekend the Patmans are throwing a barbeque in order to get to know Roger's friends before the big country club hooha. At this stage Jessica is full on gunning for Roger, breaking out her brand new swimsuit from Foxy Mama especially for the occasion and getting her preppy on in tennis shorts and a polo shirt. Elizabeth gets worried, because:

"The last time she'd seen her twin dressed so conservatively was when she'd fallen madly in love with Bruce Patman and started buying clothes from The Boston Shop."

The Boston Shop. I'm sensing a trend here. Also, while chatting to Liz, Jessica mentions Regina and her older mystery man, so Lila has clearly been spreading rumours around about what she saw downtown.

That weekend, everyone in school descends on the Patman's place for the barbeque, which is being held beside their Olympic sized pool. Natch.

"Tables had been set up under the yellow-and-white umbrellas, where lunch would be served later on."

OH MY EFFING GOD IT'S SOUTHFORK. How long before a row breaks out and someone is shoved into the pool? Eeeee!

Jessica implements phase one of her plan to snag Roger and spends the whole time sucking up to Mrs Patman, complimenting her flowerbeds (not a euphemism), collecting empty glasses and making polite conversation with the boring adults. Mrs Patman takes the bait and makes a fuss over what a wonderful girl Jessica is and what a good couple she and Roger would make at the big upcoming party. Phase one complete. While this is going on, Olivia is all uncomfortable and fidgety because Roger is too busy playing host to hang out with her and Mrs Patman was mean to her earlier, so she feels self-conscious and sad. :(

Olivia foolishly admits to Jessica that she wishes she was more confident (no one should ever admit anything to Jessica) so of course Jessica decides to offer her advice that will ultimately get her out of the picture and off Roger's arm. This dastardly plan involves convincing Olivia to take a dessert as well as a burger when everyone is getting stuck into the fancy buffet and for some reason this embarrasses both Olivia and Roger when they sit down at a table with some other kids. I have no idea why though, I don't think I know anyone who would actually give a shit about something like that, let alone a table full of high school teenagers. WHO CARES. LET'S ALL JUST HAVE CHEESECAKE FOR DINNER.

Jessica then arranges a doubles game of tennis between her, Bruce, Roger and Olivia. Of course, with Bruce being captain of the tennis team and Jessica being a Wakefield and therefore spectacular at everything, it's the perfect opportunity to show Olivia up as not good enough to be a Patman girlfriend. Jessica arranges to meet Olivia at the mall so they can go shopping for tennis clothes at...you guessed it...The Tennis Shop. However, Olivia decides that the starched white shorts and polo shirts aren't very her, as she's more the wraparound skirt and leather sandals type. But nevermind, they stop off at The Designer Shop (OH COME ON) to look at dresses. While all this is going on, Elizabeth is getting suspicious of her sister's sudden good will towards a smelly hippy like Olivia.

"Was is possible Jessica had something in mind other than good-natured friendship?"

YES, ELIZABETH. OF COURSE SHE FUCKING DOES. Someone hasn't been paying attention for the last fifteen books.

Watch out Roger! Jessica Wakefield is coming to GET you, with her pointy boobs and lavaliere! And wearing two shirts won't save you!

Meanwhile, in Regina Morrow's subplot, Elizabeth, Todd and half of Sweet Valley High see the handsome older dude waiting in the school car park, next to his beige Ferrari (BEIGE = OPULENCE) and when Regina hops in with him before he drives off, everyone jumps to the conclusion that they're having a sexy affair. Or at least they do when Lila Fowler starts insinuating it, due to a random vendetta she seems to have against Regina for no reason other than the fact that she's also gorgeous and rich.

Jessica arrives at the Patman's mansion for the tennis game and proceeds to make a show of Olivia by being brilliant while poor Liv flails cluelessly around the court. Jessica has carefully crafted every situation so it looks like she's helping Olivia to fit in with the Patmans, while sabotaging her at every opportunity and dropping mean little lies into their conversations, like telling her she overheard Roger wishing that Olivia cared more about monocles and boats, or whatever it is that rich people are into.

Regina asks Elizabeth to call over to her house after school because she simply HAS to talk to someone. Scandal! Although, not really, as it turns out that Regina was scouted by a modelling agency and Beige Ferrari Man is Lane Townsend, who runs the agency. She's going to be on the cover of next month's Ingenue magazine and swears Elizabeth to secrecy. You see, she doesn't want anyone to know until the issue is out, because, I dunno, B-plots don't write themselves I guess.

Jessica's dastardly scheme is all going to plan, with Olivia getting more and more insecure about her appearance and clothes with every passing day. When she shows Jessica the dress that she's been making for the fancy country club party, Jess tells her it's too informal for such a big event, rattling Olivia even further and making her wonder how she ever thought Roger would stay with her. No Olivia! You're playing right into her hands! Punch her in the boob!

Back at the Patman manor, Mrs Patman broaches the subject of who Roger is bringing to the country club party and suggests that Olivia might be too awkward a date for such an important night. Roger can't win with his mean aunt, as she thinks his track running is antisocial and his ambitions to be a doctor are no good either, as medicine is so "messy". There's just no pleasing this bitch. And she's doing haughty all wrong, a stuck up wagon like her would only love to have a doctor in the family.

Meanwhile, it's Lila Fowler's turn to follow Regina downtown to see what she's up to with her alleged fancy man. She tails her all the way into the office building, which turns out to be the Lane Townsend Agency and hears someone talk about how amazing Regina is and how great the proofs from her photoshoot look. Lila is inexplicably enraged and makes an appointment to see Lane, because:

"There must be some way to convince Mr. Townsend not to print her picture. [...] He'll take one look at me, she assured herself, and he'll tear Regina's pictures up and start from scratch."

The whole thing is very strange, as this sudden mission to destroy Regina really came out of nowhere. Maybe this is just what happens when Lila gets bored.

Olivia tells Roger that she can't go to the country club party with him because she feels so uncomfortable around his new family. They end up shouting at each other and sort of breaking up because each thinks the other doesn't understand how they're feeling and GOD PEOPLE, STOP GIVING JESSICA WHAT SHE WANTS. SRSLY.

As soon as Jessica hears about the break-up, she scampers off to Roger and talks shit about Olivia, telling him that she had gotten jealous of how rich he was now and that she was going to break their date for the country club dance so Roger would have to turn up alone and everyone would laugh at him. Which quite obviously doesn't sound in the least like anything Olivia would ever say, but for some reason people just believe every word that comes out of Jessica's perpetually lying mouth. Anyway, Roger buys it and Jessica ends up tricking him into asking her to the dance and making him think it was his idea. Operation Golddigger complete.

But back to Lila and her sudden, one-sided rivalry with Regina Morrow. She meets Lane Townsend at his office, pretending to be there to find out more about the Ingenue magazine modelling competition. However, Lane tells her that the competition was cut short a few weeks beforehand when they found Regina. And then, oh god, and then, the wonderful parting shot:

"Lila, try not to be too disappointed about the modelling job. You're a pretty girl, but you don't really have the right facial structure I'm afraid. You wouldn't like how flat your face would look in photographs."

AHAHAHA! Oh LILA. You flat-faced bitch.


So the night of the big party arrives and while Roger is looking for cufflinks, he overhears his aunt on the phone, talking about how great it is that Roger is taking Jessica to the dance instead of Olivia and mentioning that she and Jessica had a dastardly scheming chat on the day of the barbeque about making such an outcome happen. Furious, Roger calls over to the Wakefields house and for some reason wants to talk to Liz as well.

"What's going on, Roger?" Elizabeth asked, her blue-green eyes warm with concern.

Oh fuck off Liz.

Roger seems like he has some crafty plan up his sleeve, but all he actually does is tell them that he has to convince Olivia to come with him to the dance and makes a point of mentioning how close she and Jessica have been, in such a way that lets her know that he's now wise to her game. When he should really be giving her a bollocking or at the very goddamn least push her into the pool. Come ON, she's awful! Instead, he and Liz rush over to Olivia's house (I have no idea why Liz is involved in this at all to be honest, other than her love of getting unnecessarily involved in other people's biznizz) while Jessica calls up Neil Freemount to bring her to the dance at the last minute, because consequences are for plebs.

Roger apologises to Olivia for allowing himself to be manipulated by Jessica and they patch things up while Liz sits in the corner like a spare tool. Olivia agrees to go to the dance with Roger and then Elizabeth assures her that the dress she made is actually lovely and that she should wear it to the party.

Everyone arrives at the country club, which is all decked out with lace tablecloths and glass water bowls with floating candles (ah remember floating candles! They were everywhere for a while there in the nineties. I think my mam got floating candles as a birthday present from me and my brother for about four years in a row).

Then at some point during the night there's a receiving line for Roger and Olivia, which is pretty fucking bizarre, even for Sweet Valley. A receiving line! He's not the president guys, everyone calm down. The Patmans' mean and snobby friends, Mr and Mrs Ferguson arrive to be formally introduced to Roger and Olivia and when Mrs Ferguson asks why Roger isn't with "that pretty blond girl", like a cunt, the line goes quiet and Roger politely explains that Olivia is his girlfriend and there was just a misunderstanding earlier.

Mrs Patman gets sand in her vagina about the whole exchange and angrily pulls Roger aside, berating him for his "inexcusable" behavior towards whatsherface. But then Mr Patman swoops in, telling his wife to cop on to herself and that Mrs Ferguson was the one who was rude. He actually seems like a really nice guy, so I have no idea why he's married to such a weapon. So yeah, the whole SVH crew is happy at the end, except Lila because everyone is making such a big deal out of Regina's Ingenue cover, which came out that day. Sooo...yeah. The end!

Notable outfit:
There's lots of Olivia outfits in this one, to remind us of her carefree, bohemian style. But I went with this one:

"Olivia, who was wearing oversized army pants, sandals and a bright yellow t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Her usual bandana was twisted into a thin band around her forehead, holding her froth of brown curls out of her eyes."

It's actually not bad, although it could definitely do without the Rambo bandana and sandals. Put your damn toes away for once in your life, Olivia.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 151
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 12 (TWELVE! Fucking JACKPOT!)
Amount of times Jessica admires her own legs: 2
Amount of hair tosses: 3

 
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