Friday, July 5, 2013

"Literary" Musings - Rated R

So, remember when I posted about 50 Shades of Grey and the resulting media firestorm and really people should be allowed to read whatever they want (with possible exceptions of how to build bombs or similarly national-safety-threatening items)?

Well, since then I've continued my trend of eclectic reading material.  Some I will openly proclaim.  I like all of Patricia Briggs "traditional" fantasy -- haven't read any of her urban fantasy.  And I will be forever grateful for eBooks for making it feasible (read: cheap) for authors to re-emerge, such as PC Hodgell, whom I have very much enjoyed.  Nevermind that both authors write very strong female heroines ... whose cleavage is prominently displayed on the covers.  Frown.

The Patricia Briggs novels that I have read have all involved romance, mostly in a PG or PG-13 sort of way.

The PC Hodgell novels about the Kencyrath have definitely been more PG except for one thing.  The heroine's love interest is her brother.  (There's a bit more to it, but nothing changes the fact that he's her brother.)

Now, in this world and culture that Hodgell has created, this is acceptable by society.  In fact, given the strength of their bloodline, it is both desirable and expected by some.

However, in our current society, this is beyond a faux pas and into criminal territory -- as in, you can't marry someone closer to you than a 2nd cousin (based on a 5 second Google search).

I find it interesting that I like this author and this character enough that I am rooting for this romance, despite my occasional head tilt. 

In somewhat related news, I still read some things that I can only call crap -- primarily romance novels.  (Note -- I'm not saying all romance novels are crap.  But many are.)

Since 50 Shades came out, a lot of authors who tend toward the steamier / more explicit side of romance have definitely hopped on the bandwagon.  No blame here -- a capitalist society typically generates such reactions.

My qualm is this.

50 Shades is an explicit romance about a monogamous relationship that involves BDSM.  And I don't have an issue with that.   

My issue is that I've read some books that seem to me to be a game of one-ups-manship -- who can be the most daring, in hope of attracting the most readers.  

  • Oh you had a scene with bondage, so I'm going to have a scene with spanking.
  • I see your bondage and spanking, and raise you a threesome.
  • ...And so forth with the escalations (I'm trying not to be too graphic here)

One particular author that I've read (because Amazon recommended her to me, based on previous purchases ... sometimes it's like you either don't know me, Amazon, or you don't know what you're recommending...) crossed my personal boundary by inviting other people into the room.

More explicit explanation in smaller font for those who choose to skip over it:

Though there are a few scenes in different books, and all at least begin with consent from the woman, the example I'm thinking of involves a woman being nude when her partner's business associates come up to a hotel suite for a meeting.  She is bound before them, and things escalate to a point where she no longer is willing to participate, and things get out of hand.  No actual rape occurs, but video of the incident later surfaces, and the male partner involved is upset because he had only started this to prove to himself that he didn't have an emotional attachment to the woman.

When reading this novel, for the first time ever I threw my Kindle across the room in disgust.  (Luckily I throw like a girl, and it just ended up at the end of the bed.)

What I am saying is that in no way did this behavior appeal to me.  I did not find it in any way romantic.  I did not and do not have any sort of fantasy about this behavior. 

My intention here is not to judge anyone.  I have always believed that what goes on between *consenting* adults is their business -- so long as no one is harmed.  If this is someone else's cup of tea, more power to them.

As for me, it felt more like being at a steakhouse as a vegetarian.

What I find demoralizing here is that so very many of these books seem to be about women relinquishing control to a man.  Very few are about women taking control.  Based on that, I assume that the submissive-women-plots sell more and are more popular.

I just wonder what implications that has for our society.

I also wonder what it says about me, that I am more on-board with an incestuous romance in a fantasy world, than a submissive romance in the real world.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Marrying Down

The husband of a good friend told her that he had "married down" as part of an argument/discussion/conversation that I won't go into.

This upsets me on many levels, and since I am trying my damnedest to butt out of a relationship of which I am not a member, I will be venting now.

First, this woman is my friend.  No, she is not perfect.  She has flaws.  We all do.  But she has been my friend for years, and I am loyal to her.  Therefore, when someone says anything that hurts her deliberately - which I can only assume this comment was intended to do - I get what you might call "furious."  (You do not want to upset my mama bear instincts, people.  It becomes ouch-time for you.)

I had to restrain myself from texting her husband to tell him "look, jackass, you don't get to talk to my friend that way."  But I did.  Restrain myself.  Because I am a grown-up, and I realize that what goes on in the privacy of their relationship is none of my business.  Even though I don't like it that my friend was hurt, it is not my place to confront her husband about it.  It is hers.

Second, and I say this as someone who has never been married, I simply can't imagine ever telling my spouse that I "married down."  Presumably, you get married because you love each other.  Presumably, if you love each other, you think the world of one another.  I'm not saying this means you don't recognize that neither of you is perfect -- again, we all have flaws.  But you both agreed to commit to one another enough to be married, so you agreed to accept each others' flaws. 

I can understand perhaps having a conversation with a spouse in a supportive way -- something along the lines of "I think you're great - you have so much potential - what can I do to help you fulfill your ambitions."  Perhaps even a more assertive "Let's talk about short-term goals for our family -- I was thinking this -- and that might mean some changes.  What do you think?"  type of conversation. 

As a single person, I can't say I've really ever been in a position to have these conversations.

But I just simply can't imagine what amounts to saying "You know, I'm way better than you" to someone I love enough to be married to.

I've been upset about this for hours.  Hopefully by blogging about it, I can put those feelings down.


Monday, July 1, 2013


I am wearing a sleeveless dress today at work.

Why is this post-worthy?  Because I have never, ever done it before.

Almost everyone is self-conscious about some part of their body.  I tend toward this more than the average person.

I think my arms are ugly.  They are jiggly and piggly and wiggly and other iggly-adjectives.

But as my sister said (of herself) -- it's not like someone looking at me can't see that my arms are fat, even if I have sleeves on.  So I might as well wear what I want.

Today, I'm giving it a try. 

I've got a cute dress on.  It doesn't have sleeves.  And I'm not wearing a cardigan over it. 

I'm not entirely comfortable, but I'm working on it. 

And no one has stared and pointed / laughed.   

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Damn you, Candy Crush

I've never done illegal drugs of any variety. 

But my guess is that Candy Crush Saga is as addictive as heroin.

Damn this little girl and her sweet tooth

Candy Crush Saga is a free game available on Facebook or iTunes and probably other places but I really don't need to know about more places to play this game, alright?  After a certain point, you can pay $0.99 to unlock more levels, or you can ask Facebook friends to help you, or you can do "quests" -- basically go back to previous levels and succeed with more challenging goals -- to unlock them.

Mechanically, it's very similar to Bejeweled.  Multiple colored items (candy / jewels) in a grid -- switch two adjacent items to form a color match of at least 3.  Special results if matching 4 or 5 items. 

Candy Crush Saga takes it one further in that it adds obstacles to the grid every 10 levels or so.  First rocks, then "jelly" squares that you have to clear, then evil-evil-evil chocolate that spreads and takes over other cells, removing items and limiting possible matches.

The game (at least the free version) only gives you 1 "life" every 30 minutes, with a max of 5 lives.  So if you are stuck on a level, you may expend all your lives, then have to wait at least 30 minutes to give it another go, or wait another 2 and a half hours to have a full 5 lives to expend on it and keep dying keep dying keep dying damn you chocolate for spreading if I'd only had a purple man I only had one square left to clear of that stupid jelly ....

Sorry, PTSD moment. 

To clear a level, you not only have to meet the objective -- these can be "clear all jelly squares" or "get 10,000 points in 60 seconds" or "drop all ingredients to the bottom of the grid" -- before your time or number of moves run out.  But you also must generate enough points to meet the minimum threshold for the level.  So the greatest indignity is "Yes!  I cleared the level on the last move!  Wait ... no no no ... I am 100 points short?!?  Oh the humanity!"

In short, I am addicted, and I might need help.  After I finally beat this one level.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Things I have yelled at the TV during Game of Thrones

Spoiler Warning.  Turn back before it's too late. 

Much as I deplore it in others, I talk back to the television. 

I try very hard not to do it when others are also watching, but sometimes I can't help myself.  It is a compulsion, and I always have a hard time ignoring those. 

We are one week away from the Season 3 finale of Game of Thrones.  Having read the books, I find myself yelling at the screen quite a bit during this show.  Most frequently "That's not what happened in the book!" -- though usually in surprise, not anger.  Like the HBO show exists only to fulfill my expectations.  (Completely rational thought, I'm sure.)

Now that I've taken up enough space on the screen to avoid feeling guilt if someone doesn't want to see spoilers, here are some things I have actually yelled at the tv during Game of Thrones over the past 3 years.

  • Ouch, that's gonna leave a mark.
  • Ouch, that's not gonna grow back.
  • Holy <insert expletive of choice>!
  • S/He totally had that coming!
  • Melisandre, you do NOT get to sleep with Gendry!
  • Oh Theon, you poor, stupid fool.
  • Joffrey, I can not WAIT until you die horribly (at mumble spoilers mumble)!
  • Don't F--k with Arya!    (mass effect 2 reference)
  • Damn Lannisters!
  • Whoa, those dragons sure do grow fast!
  • Khaleesi, stop jerking sir Jorah around!
  • Stupid Sansa -- grow a pair!
  • Don't mess with Tyrion!
  • Ewwwww!
  • I love Jaqen!
  • Arya, just stop and marry Gendry, okay?
  • Oh Littlefinger, you clever jerk-face!

But the word I most often yell is NOOOOO!

Even though I know what's coming -- for the most part, since there have been small tweaks from novel to screen -- I still resist some paths on the journey of the story.  I find this amusing in some ways, like I should know better.  But perhaps it is part of human nature, some sort of feeling that even as a passive observer of a fictional universe, I should be able to affect the outcomes of events.

Yeah, I know.  I'm full of crap. :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yesterday I was happy

This morning I said to a friend "yesterday I was happy for the first time in about 3 months." 

2013 has been a rough year so far.

Work has been hectic.  I am juggling three client assignments right now, and am used to only one.  It's good for my career in the long-term, but in the short-term, it's been a struggle.  I'm not used to struggling at work.  I'm used to being a badass.  I have learned a lot in the process...foremost of which is I prefer being a badass to struggling.

My health has been, shall we say, less than optimal.  I've been to the doctor more so far this year than in the previous 5 years.  Short version: I have two long-term health issues.  One has been dealt with temporarily through a minor surgery.  The surgery went fine, though I was very nervous about it.  Waiting and getting my blood drawn were the hardest parts.  Now, it's a wait and see game.  The other issue I will be taking medication for the rest of my life.  Always fun.

Personal life has been ... I don't have a good adjective here.  My constant companions anxiety and depression have been seductively close to me for the past few months.  Sometimes I can see through their masks to the liars underneath, but sometimes the bed with the black satin sheets just looks so inviting that I tumble in.  And once I'm there, I don't really want to leave.  

This is just more evidence that struggling sucks.  File that under things-you-already-knew.

Anyhow, I've been thinking for a while that getting back to writing would be good for me.  I don't know how funny or sarcastic I'll be.  But I'll be me.  Whichever me I am at the moment.