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Last night, Christian Grey kept me up very late. Past midnight. I’m very tired this morning.

I first stayed up to finish Jennifer Armintrout’s recaps, chapter by chapter, of 50 Shades Darker, the second book in the 50 Shades of Grey series. I finished reading her recaps of the first book on Tuesday night.

Before I get to my point, I want to make some clarifications about my experience with this book. Because of the hype about it, I downloaded the free previews — the first two chapters — of each book to see if I could even stand to read them. Set aside the fact that E.L. James couldn’t write herself out of a paper bag, I got really, really, really bored and decided it wasn’t worth the torture to even try. Then I read Katrina Lumsden’s reviews of the books on www.goodreads.com and they were so funny that I kind of wanted to read the books just to laugh at them. But the thought of spending actual money and adding to the fortunes of the publisher who stooped so low as to publish this drivel was too much for me. So, if someone wants to lend me a free copy of the series, I’d appreciate it. 🙂

So … with that said, let me take you all through a couple scenarios:

Imagine, if you will, a 19-year-old girl sitting in a mall food court with a man. They’re having a conversation and once or twice something catches her attention out of the corner of her eye and she glances in that direction, finds nothing of particular interest and looks back at the man she’s with and continues the conversation.

And then …

He accuses her of staring at a man who was in the general direction of where she’d turned her head to look. She tells him she didn’t see anyone, but he doesn’t believe her. Of course, this “staring” she did in the split second during which she turned her head means she wants to have sex with a man she didn’t see. An argument erupts and in the end, they make up and move on.

A few months later, this same teenage girl and the same man are in a restaurant having dinner. By now, she’s learned to keep her head down in public, lest someone with a Y chromosome wanders into her line of sight. They get up to leave and she notices that there are three men sitting in a booth towards which she must walk in order to get out of the restaurant. She is careful to cast her eyes to the floor and not look at them at all on her way out.

And yet …

The man screams at her for hours about how she was “staring” at the men in the booth.

Every time she’s in public with this man, she gets a sick feeling in her stomach. He calls constantly and demands to know who she’s with and what she’s doing. He attempts to separate her physically and emotionally from her family and friends she’s known her entire life.

Put billions of dollars in his bank account and make him “hot” (as in good-looking, not with a fever) and I present you with Christian Grey, the man millions of women are “in love with.” The man millions of women compare to their own boyfriends or husbands and find their real-life partners lacking.

Let me tell you right now, Christian Grey is not a catch. He is not a good person. He is not someone you want to be involved with. He is most definitely not romantic or heroic. If someone you cared about was in a relationship with him, you would be afraid for her life and begging her to leave him.

Prior to reading Armentrout’s blog, I was mostly just annoyed that a publisher picked up the books. The writing is horrible. The theme and plot barely exist. This thing with Leila? I’m not even sure why James bothered. Take out the sex scenes and these books are the ideal romantic relationship that might spring forth from the not-quite-formed psyche of a ten-year-old girl. But they came from the clearly stunted psyche of a woman who, based on photos I’ve seen, is in her thirties or forties.

To the women who look at Christian Grey and see the ideal man, I ask: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU??? I know I’m going to offend some people, but seriously, you need therapy. Intense, serious, deep therapy.

This book would have made more sense and been a more honest story if it was a thriller about a young, innocent woman who fell in love with a billionaire who turned out to be a psychopath (because that is absolutely what Christian Grey is) and she has to somehow escape him. Hmmm … perhaps this should have been Sleeping with the Enemy fan fiction. It’s closer to the reality. One of them will have to end up dead in the end because that is how this kind of thing ends.

I know plenty of people are going to comment here about how it’s “just a book,” but it isn’t. I can understand that the sex scenes maybe turned you on. I can get that you maybe even enjoyed the story. But what I don’t understand, the thing that should concern any of you who think this way, is why you believe this is a romantic story? Why do you think Christian Grey is the man of all your dreams? Why in the holy hell would you want to even know someone who won’t even allow you to choose your own food or when you will eat it?

Here’s a tip: If you enjoy having every last detail of your life micro managed, commit a crime and go to jail. You’ll have more autonomy that way.

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Someone on a fitness website message board posted a link to an article by a woman talking about how her good looks have worked against her in social situations with other women. Click here to read.

This is the woman people see as "ugly" and "plain."

Based on the photos accompanying the article, she’s by far not the most beautiful woman I’ve ever see. But as someone who doesn’t photograph well, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she might just look better in person. And even if not, she’s tall, thin and blond and she’s certainly a far cry from unattractive in any other sense. She’s a pretty woman and she possesses physical attributes that people, especially men, seem drawn to.

Objectively, she’s beautiful.

She says other women are intimidated by her and are downright nasty to her and attributes this to her looks. Some people commented that they thought she was attractive but that her attitude in the article made her less so. I can get on board with that, though I disagree that she had such an attitude. My impression is of a woman who’s saddened that she doesn’t have close female friends. The only thing that made me question her sincerity is that she dyes her hair blond. If she really, truly wanted to tone down her looks, why do that? But otherwise, she seems like a normal person with normal wants and needs when it comes to human decency and companionship.

But most of the comments, both on the message board and on the article itself, were that this woman is downright ugly. People said she was forgettable, “beige,” that she just blends in and that no one was shunning her, they just didn’t notice her.

Why all the hateful comments? Normally, I’m the last person to use the word jealousy over how certain people treat others, but it is clearly the case here. And it proves the point the writer was making in the first place.

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The other day, a friend of mine on Facebook posted a photo of a protester holding a sign that read, “Humans are the only species that pay to live on this planet. WHY?” Following the photo, as per usual, was a rant against “greedy corporations.”

First, long before the idea of a corporation or land ownership or anything else modern, people traded and bartered for goods and services. We use money in our modern society, but humans for most of our very long history, have in one way or another purchased items for life from each other. It may have been that I have a cow and you have an orange tree so I traded milk for oranges.

But beyond this, let’s think about whether we truly want to model human society based on what other species do or do not do:

  • No birth control. This is a current hot topic, but really, what other species uses it?
  • Along those lines, in order for a man to be allowed to copulate with a woman — and she’ll have to be open to said copulation every time she ovulates — he will have to physically fight other men or develop something like peacock feathers and strut around in front of said ovulating woman.
  • No more central heat, air conditioning or indoor plumbing.
  • Give up your cars, bicycles and all other forms of transportation other than swimming or walking.
  • Build your own house with no power tools.
  • Build that house without tools made with any form of power tools.
  • Quit your job to do nothing but hunt and garden and fight for resources.
  • The weakest among us will have to be shoved to the side and allowed to be eaten by other animals.
  • No more flower gardens.
  • No one will be allowed to keep pets. In fact, you can’t have that cow I mentioned above because what other species keeps cows? Or dogs? Cats? Horses? You’re on your own. PETA will be happy.
  • No music.
  • No dancing.
  • No alcohol. Or cigarettes.
  • No ovens. And for that matter, no cooking food at all. You’re going to have to learn to eat all food (including any meat you are able to catch and kill) raw.
  • No more books.
  • Chuck the computers, e-readers, cell phones or anything else technological.
  • No more school — forget college. You don’t even get preschool if we’re going to follow other species’ leads.
  • Moms, if for some reason you can’t breast feed, you better find a surrogate who can or watch your babies starve to death.
  • Coffee and chocolate? Nope.

I could go on, but I think I made my point. So, we can stop using any sort of currency or barter system and we’ll all just fend for ourselves the best we can. Hope you’re a good hunter with a green thumb.

Good luck!

Oh, one more thing: Researchers have observed chimpanzees going to war with each other. So, we can still do that! 🙂

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I came into work one morning the week before Christmas to this on my desk:

It’s been since debated on Facebook, but hey! It makes a pretty good blog post, too, for those who are not my Facebook friends.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know I am not Christian. I am not really anything one could put a name to, really. I’m just … me. Atheist and agnostic aren’t proper terms. I think pagan would probably cover it, but the general sense, not anything specific like Wiccan. I believe in some sort of great spirit or energy. I believe the universe has a sort of harmony and everything is connected. I believe humans, animals, even plants to a degree, have souls and live on after death — whether that’s in some kind of afterlife heaven or hell or if we’re reborn on earth or some other planet or both or something entirely different, I don’t know. But I don’t think a soul dies with a body.

What someone else believes, so long as it doesn’t involve harming others in some way, I just couldn’t care less. If you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or worship garbanzo beans, it’s just plain none of my business.

I’ll even discuss it with you. I’m fascinated by the history or religions, how they evolved, the similarities — many might be surprised at how closely the lives of Jesus and Hercules resemble each other — why you believe what you do and I believe what I do, you name it. I respect your beliefs. I want you to respect mine.

What I won’t tolerate is someone pushing his or her beliefs. It’s not OK if you knock on my door to try to convince me to join your religion and it’s not OK for a coworker (especially anonymously!) to leave literature on my desk. And it certainly is not going to turn me in the direction that person wants me to turn. In fact, my general inclination is to turn in the opposite direction. The more you want me to be Christian, the more I’m going to dig in my heals and insist on being anything but.

Some people on Facebook mentioned going to human resources (I do have an idea who may have left it). I wouldn’t do that. I don’t think anyone deserves to get in trouble over such an incident. I’m not unreasonable.

I did, however, visit one of the local New Age stores and bought this to hang in my cubicle in a rather conspicuous spot:

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Hang Up and Drive

Last night, I met a friend at a local coffee shop and a walk. I encountered the following on the drive there:

  1. I was turning right and a woman coming the other direction and turning left (no arrow) decided it was perfectly reasonable to turn in front of me. We nearly collided. She was on a cell phone.
  2. I was on the next stretch of road behind an SUV. The driver was going below the speed limit. The car in front of him was a good football field away. He kept breaking (there were no cross roads, so he wasn’t looking for his turn). I passed him and looked over. He was on a cell phone.

Later, on the way home, I came up to my left turn. The light was green and there was a green arrow. The car in front of me came to a dead stop at the green arrow. She was on (you guessed it) a cell phone.

Clearly, if you think you can talk on your phone and drive safely, there’s a very good chance you’re mistaken. Of course, this being Tallahassee, there’s a good chance that if you live here you’re a lousy driver regardless of any distractions, so there’s that …

And just to add insult to injury, the illegal left-turner was holding her phone to her ear with her right hand and twirling her hair with her left hand. She was steering with her elbow.

I’m amazed I make it anywhere in this town without dying.

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What Makes me Sad

I wasn’t a fan. I don’t think I ever once listened to an entire song by Amy Winehouse. I didn’t know her. I don’t know anyone who knew or cared about her.

But she was a human being. And there are people alive in the world who loved her and were frightened for her life every day for the past who knows how many years, until last week when what they feared most came to pass.

And the world, the members of which who have not had to stay up nights frightened for the lives of loved ones are extremely lucky, reacted with jokes about a very young and (reportedly) talented woman who died a senseless death.

It’s bad enough that random people posted jokes on Facebook about her, but then The Onion joined in. And not only did The Onion post a link to its story once on Facebook, but twice. And in the comments, people berated those who found it offensive for having no sense of humor.

Those of you who know me know I have a very good sense of humor. I can laugh at just about anything, including myself. It may be dry and reserved, but it’s healthy and full. I loved The Onion. Ninety-nine percent of its stories are laugh out loud funny.

But this … this was wrong. Hurtful and wrong and unnecessary. I should have “unliked” The Onion the first time the story appeared. I didn’t. But the second time? That was the last straw.

The Onion and all the rest of you who find something like this funny — just because you didn’t know her — should be ashamed of yourselves. I’m disgusted with the individuals who took part and incredibly sad for society in general that we can’t find something else to laugh about.

Winehouse made her own bed. This is true. But she never hurt anyone but herself and those who loved her most.

I wonder how you would all feel if someone you loved ended up like Winehouse and the rest of the world could do nothing but laugh?

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Magazines fawned over it. Friends far and wide posted praise for it all over Facebook. It looked cute and funny in the previews. The Boyfriend was wary (“It’s a girl movie.” “I’ll probably be the only guy in there!”).

But he went, anyway.

Chris and I went last week to see Bridesmaids. He was not the only guy. It was a pretty packed theater, even for a Tuesday night (probably because all movies are five dollars a ticket on Tuesdays), but I counted about five or six other men whose girlfriends/wives probably dragged them along. And Chris liked it. A lot. He seems to think it’s the funniest movie ever made.

Me? Eh.

I laughed. It was funny. I’ll give it that. For cheap entertainment, it was not a bad choice. There were even moments that made me cry. Anyone who has That Friend you’ve known forever and love possibly more than anyone else in the world would cry over certain scenes.

But I didn’t think it was the great movie everyone else thought it was. In fact, it was just one more raunchy comedy with the obligatory graphic sex scene and juvenile comedy such as a scene where the bride and bridal party succumb to food poisoning while trying on very expensive dresses. The scene, to say the least, is gross. It could have been funny without being graphic.

I also learned that Kristen Wiig (who has the most screen time of all the characters — the movie is really about her character, Annie) is a lousy actress. If you’ve watched her on Saturday Night Live (SNL), you’ve seen her play Annie. Her mannerisms and voice tone are perfect replicas of every character I’ve seen her play on SNL. I kept waiting for her to morph before my eyes into some hybrid of Gilly and Penelope. The characters are funny in short sketches. Not so much in a full-length feature film when the character clearly is not supposed to be those characters. Someone give Wiig an acting lesson. Please. And give me more Maya Rudolph. She wasn’t in the movie nearly enough.

One saving grace, though, was the character Megan, played by Melissa McCarthy of Gilmore Girls fame. I’ve seen McCarthy in a few different roles, but nothing like Megan. Raunchy, but lovable, she brings life to the film. It’s almost worth watching simply because she’s there. Thank you, Melissa.

This is only the latest in a long line of films that are, basically, the same. I think it started with The Hangover, which was actually very good. But once was enough. Or maybe it began with Wedding Crashers, moving on to The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Then there was Hall Pass. And these are only the ones I’ve seen. I’m getting tired of the same joke. It isn’t so funny anymore.

Melissa McCarthy as Megan in Bridesmaids.

One reason I will never see another movie starring Will Ferrell is that he has a knack for taking a joke entirely too far. Jokes that start out quite funny and clever in his movies drag on for ten minutes at a time until you’re just sitting in your seat hoping it will be over soon and move on. There was quite a bit of that in Bridesmaids. The movie lasted more than two hours. If the writers/directors/whoever-was-in-charge just cut those jokes each by several minutes, the movie probably would have lasted an hour. OK. Maybe ninety minutes.

Timing in comedy, they say, is everything. Somehow, Hollywood hasn’t received the memo.

It isn’t just comedy being recycled. The movie studios keep giving us the same movies wrapped in different packaging over and over and over until I just want to rip my hair out. Rarely is there a movie anymore that I want to see. There have been a few gems recently. But they are very few and very far between. It’s depressing.

I won’t say don’t see Bridesmaids. As I said, it’s funny and entertaining. But don’t go expecting greatness or originality. Seen The Hangover? Just imagine women in the roles and you’ve seen Bridesmaids.

UPDATE: Since there was no better option and we just wanted to see a movie last night, Chris and I went to see The Hangover 2. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t great. And there were some pretty gory parts. The original was the perfect movie. They should have left it alone.

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