The causation of this book’s variable inattentiveness to any coloring detail is the same source of the book’s greater fundamental and overarching flaw. Fifty Shades of Grey just has too much sex in it.
Do you know Jon & Kate Plus Eight? Some years ago I was in a supermarket checkout line and noticed every tabloid had pictures of that family coupled with dire big headlines. I had no idea who these people were and assumed they all died in some tragic house fire or something. I was naive then; I could not imagine such people could have their own television show. Worse, everybody I asked knew about the Gosselins — I was the odd man way out. Ever since then I have been consciously trying to keep up with the cultural phenomena propagated by the new and vaster media. So in spring of 2012, the words “fifty shades of grey” started popping up on my sonar. I caught snippets of television shows with female experts talking about sex and having “conversations” about sex and so on. Just general blather-chatter from self-appointed superiors who I suspected were really squarer than the general public they thought they were educating. You know how they often start: “American women are . . . ,” etc. But even they were not really clearly demonstrating what exactly the book Fifty Shades of Grey was about or meant, or vended seemingly contradictory assessments. So, thinking like a typical dopey male, I assumed the book is about a female who does it with fifty guys. But then I started to read snippets in newspapers talking about “sado-masochism” and “obsession.” Later, in the fall, I found a short but more elaborate reference about “light bondage” focusing on a men’s necktie. So, I thought, is the big to-do about making the book a vehicle for girls to bring up something with their current guy without intimating they had learned of it with some other guy earlier? But then, why the talk of sadism too? Inside the online chats I looked at, it seemed the girls most into the book were not chattering about sex at all. Words like “Twilight” and thoughts of getting into a man’s mind were much more prevalent. Tens of millions of copies of the book have been sold, and there is a “phenomenon” around it including huge online speculation and recommendation of which actresses and actors should play what roles in an upcoming film version. I found the idea of “Fifty Shades of Grey” intriguing, so I decided to read it too.
It was a battering experience. It starts out pretty good, but around page 951 when the protagonist, a young twenties Brit lit chick named Anastasia Steele, agrees heartily to “debasement” due to a weird influence from a Thomas Hardy book, I start to lose it. I cannot doubt it is good female pornography; look at its sales. But in my opinion, it has too much sex. It is also a confusing book. I openly concede it was not written for me. But I think the confusions are purposeful, even a brilliant manipulation of female emotions. For over 250 pages I was subjected to “slamming” “vanilla” sex and chatter and confusing, unsatisfying motives on Ana’s part for her interest in a billionaire named Christian Grey. Then at page 355 her motive alters: she thinks she can change him. That is more understandable motive. With that alone I would not consider laying down my own analysis of the book because I would still only give a very lukewarm thumbs-up for the book. Of course, as I said, it was not written for me — although I had to read every last word of Fifty Shades of Grey to make absolutely sure about that. Rather, I feel compelled to forcefully respond to FSG because it contains one critical, all-encompassing and fundamental flaw that really pisses me off. I suffered every last word of the book to be certain the fault I perceived was not remedied, so I decided to return the disfavor and beat, maybe even defeat, Fifty Shades of Grey.
Given my gender limitations and much less space than 514 paper pages, here is what I am going to do: I am going to respond to the book as a guy. Guys are more picture oriented and have limited attention spans regarding sex. There will be variety. I will deliver visions of chicks from ten flicks. There will also be lots of visual interest for girls too. I promise. Amidst these pics I will discuss the book and what comes to my mind in a meandering manner, kind of like how guys manipulate their television remotes. I will provide commentary from my hairstylist, who is light years ahead at understanding the underpinnings of FSG of any “expert” I heard or read. I will also provide a little music, poetry, and food. There will be parakeets. You might want to skip the text altogether and just scroll though the pictures. I suspect many of you will, and I wholeheartedly encourage that. In fact, I hope you follow my example and find other flimsy excuses to post pictures of girls on the internet masquerading as cultural criticism. Let me make clear from the beginning there are some things I like about the book Fifty Shades of Grey. I even have a pet name for it: Coffeeless in Seattle. But to find out how the book is intrinsically faulty you will have to read my text. I reveal the big fail at the eighth film — but do not skip forward to it. You have to experience both my selection of pictures and text together to comprehend the gravity of FSG’s major error. Or you can just flip through the pictures. Time to lay down some.
The short film Thriller is variously regarded as a masterpiece, the greatest “music video” ever, and otherwise acclaimed. But nobody writes about its cute girl. She is like the girl next door. Or the country girl down the road. She has a nice smile. An even bigger one when she gets a ring from her boyfriend. She gets into some danger, and you want to rescue her. She transforms into a city girl, and an incredible thing occurs. She does not turn into a tramp, something I cannot otherwise remember in 1980s and 1990s music videos. You know, like those hair metal-types where the good girl undergoes a metamorphosis into spandex? What a buzzkill. You are enjoying the scenery, then the girl dons some clothes and shoes she can barely handle. Compare the Thriller girl. She has dance moves, but they are classy and sexy, not amateur stripper. Thriller does the good girl right.
Dark Passage (1947)
This great film has a really bad girl. I mean really bad. But first some pictures of Lauren Bacall, perhaps the most beautiful woman ever in film:
See what I mean? Dark Passage is a very romantic story. Co-stars Bacall and Humphrey Bogart had been married for two years when they made the film, but act like they just met. Bacall plays Irene, a “great dame.” In fact, she is the greatest girlfriend ever in film. Not only is she beautiful, she is incredibly adept at aiding and abetting. This is the girl who has never met you but totally believes in you. She helps you escape from prison. She stashes you in her home when the law is looking for you. She is independently wealthy and lays on you heavy cash for nothing in return. She buys you great clothes. She tends to your medical needs in her own bed. I can think of no greater film fantasy girl for a guy. Here are some more pics:
I do not want to get too man crush-y here, but Dark Passage hosts some great male friends too. There is Bogart’s old pal George, who is totally game to help Bogart out of a jam. But the film’s cabbie takes the cake. Best bud ever. Very practical, a real guy’s guy. Having him as your friend is like having your own personal Robert Kardashian. That big.
The film transpires mostly in San Francisco, pictured above. San Francisco looks great in shades of grey, does it not? All girls love San Francisco except some who actually live there. Seattle, where most of the action in Fifty Shades of Grey takes place, is a great town too, with often grey skies also. The book’s author, E. L. James, is from England, another place known for its grey skies. Heck, they know grey so well over there they even named a tea after it. James’ writing is very fluid and readable, although I wish there were was less of it. But I am well aware this book was not written for me. The author does an excellent job capturing the voice of a West Coast American twenty-something girl. Although a few times she gives her foreignness away. For example, relating to the hardware store Ana works in, James uses “DIY” and “do-it-yourselfer.” An American would say “doing home repairs.” I like these insignificant faults because they act like footlights to highlight how well this Englishwoman imitates an American girl’s cadences. Please note, normally I would be providing citations for every text-specific reference to FSG. I happen to be into endnotes, footnotes, and marginal glosses. But I will not do that for FSG.
I am too angry with it.
Since the book transpires mostly in Seattle and Portland, one of my first thoughts was how well will E. L. James handle the indigenous coffee fetishes and foodie-ism? She nails the coffee angle by taking it out of the picture from the beginning. At page 38, C. Grey asks Ana out for coffee. She agrees two pages later, then:
“I make my way down the corridor, my knees shaky, my stomach full of butterflies, and my heart in my mouth thumping a dramatic, uneven beat. I am going to have coffee with Christian Grey . . . and I hate coffee.“
At page 41 he takes Ana to the “Portland Coffee House.” She asks for English Breakfast tea. He raises his eyebrows and says, “No coffee?” A funny joke that only works around Portland or Seattle. As for the foodie-ism, I thought James hit a home run early with nettle soup at a restaurant outside of Olympia, WA (154). Nettle soup: rare, unusual, very woodsy. But then at a hotel meal in Portland, Ana says she has never had an oyster before (219). Ana is from Montesano, which is near Olympia. How likely is it a person from there has never had an oyster? In the later and better part of the book, Ana dines with C. Grey’s wealthy family. The main dish is “Beef Wellington.” Huh? I figured Copper River king salmon would be apropos. The family dinner occurs on May 29, 2011, so I checked, and yes, the Copper River salmon season was then open. According to the Seattle Times May 17, 2011, article, “Season’s First Copper River Salmon Arrives in Seattle”: “Seattle-based Alaska Air Cargo delivered the season’s first shipment of Copper River salmon Tuesday to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The plane carried Copper River king and sockeye salmon.”2
FSG is completely salmon-less, a big demerit for Seattleite authenticness. Salmonless in Seattle. Such is one of the book’s deficits, but not the fundamental flaw that violated my trust. In fact, there is hardly anything at all distinctive about Seattle in the book except for a Seattle Mariners cap (151). But back to a great film about San Francisco. Dark Passage has one very bad girl. She is Madge Rapf, acted by Agnes Moorehead. Bogart’s character figures out she is a very naughty girl and goes to her apartment with a box of chocolates. He does not hand her the box, but puts it on a table, making her ask if it is for her, a smooth move. She admits she “is not easy to get along with.” He delivers a great seduction line, “Maybe I like it that way.” She becomes intrigued. Then the candy causes her to make a very sexy approach. She fondles his wristwatch. Films did sex well in those old days, unlike today’s.
Dark Passage is a so-called “black-and-white” film, but color is critical to the plot. What gives Madge away is her love for things colored orange. This is a carryover from the book, wherein Madge is orange-obsessed while the parallel character for Bacall has a thing for clothing and furnishings that are grey matched with violet, or everything all yellow. I think that is one of the film’s few faults; they should have figured out some other device for a non-color film. Grey is boring. By definition it is dull, so I move on to a 1968, a colorful year.
Do you like fantasy, science fiction, or comic books? Then Barbarella may be a girl for you. Based on a colorful soft-pornographic French comic book, the title role is played by Jane Fonda. The film’s director is Roger Vadim, who was married for three years to Fonda at the time. The film proves he knew her well. Fonda plays a futuristic sex-babe space pilot. I could use the opening credits scene alone to knock Fifty Shades of Grey out of the ring. It displays Fonda slowly, sensually, and seductively stripping off her grey space suit in simulated zero gravity:
Wash those shades of grey away! Jane has lovely, graceful hands like Agnes. Throughout Barbarella we find Fonda on the ground: asleep, knocked out by a snowball, seduced, clumsy feet, etc. Here are some examples:
Ana calls herself “Anastasia Steele of Clumsyville.” (215) When she meets billionaire sadist Christian Grey for the first time, she stumbles through his office door, “tripping over my own feet and falling headfirst into the office. Double crap — me and my two left feet!” (7). She then observes her new friend, “So young — and attractive, very attractive. He’s tall, dressed in a fine gray suit, white shirt, and black tie with unruly dark copper-colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes that regard me shrewdly” (7). A rich young guy with grey eyes . . . hmm, where have I heard that one before? Screenwriter Terry Southern added his Candy character persona to the French comic book character. The filmmakers gave Barbarella great colors:
Fonda is so hot. In the pink pic she exits her spacecraft. Remember that one for later when I talk about the Super Bowl. Barbarella‘s plot is basically about the hunt for a renegade weapons scientist named Durand Durand, whatever. Barbarella has great babes and is colorful and does a lot of good things even with grey. Here are some more greys, including a beautiful girl’s hair:
It would take too much time to explain why the silver liquid turns chartreuse-y green, or even come to a common understanding what shade of green “chartreuse” exactly is. Again, my primary purpose is to provide pictures that guys (and girls) might like. So, in furtherance of that pursuit, Barbarella also has strange, suggestive military devices:
Barbarella has lots of binding and other forms of restraint. In fact, it is the first film I thought of when thinking how to cinematically react to Fifty Shades of Grey:
The film even has machine sex. In the comic book there is an “Excessive Machine,” but Terry Southern turned it into a musical instrument. He was very creative. If you question that, read his novel Blue Movie. Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey, Barbarella depicts sexual sadism and masochism and rough bondage with humor. For example, after the heroine destroys the orgasm-piano machine, Durand Durand says: “I got something in store for you. You’ll wish you had died of pleasure before this day is done. Now you shall learn the wisdom of the lash. I’ll do things to you that are beyond all known philosophies. Wait until I get my devices!” Rather, Durand Durand is defeated. Fonda affects a blasé and sometimes wryly funny attitude about it. But there are a few situations in Barbarella where the infliction of pain is depicted wherein Fonda looks as if she might like it. But these are hyper-comical scenarios. The first is a scene where a group of children tie her up, then set several mechanical dolls upon her. Each doll has metallic shark-like teeth that snap. They bite and scratch Fonda all over her lower body. She looks to be somewhere between pain and ecstasy. Personally, I found the dolls to be visually revolting and disturbing. Southern wrote them differently. In his script he describes the dolls as: “toy soldiers, Barbie dolls, ballerinas, baby dolls, black mammy dolls, little Boy Blue dolls, etc.” Believe me, if Barbarella showed Fonda munched by Barbie dolls, I would be cropping and pasting for you visions of that. Instead, the film’s dolls are of a creepy European variety.
Very funny is the cage of birds. “Yes the birds. Give her to the birds!” the evil hot lesbian queen (Anita Pallenberg) exclaims. So Durand Durand throws Fonda into the cage. A flue opens, and hundreds of parakeets blow in. They attack her. She acts as if she is being pecked and scratched by the birds, but one can see they are just sweet things — that is why the scene is funny:
Those parakeets look delicious, like flying candy. They look great against Fonda’s grey chainmail. I will show more parakeets later, I promise. Barbarella has good music. The opening song contain these lyrics:3
there’s a kind of cockle shell about you
dazzle me with rainbow color
fade away the duller shade of living,
get me up high!
teach me to fly!!
Grey sucks, vibrant color is so much better. About music, Ana listens to the group Snow Patrol. An interesting pick. I would have chosen something Northwestern American, not Scottish, for her. Ana grew up near Olympia, so how about something from Bikini Kill (e.g., “I believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure, babe. I do. I do. I do”).4 How about some Hole, too? Courtney Love comes from Oregon and once wrote a song about Olympia.5 About 35% of the way through FSG I started imagining repetitive music to help me get through the “slamming” sex scenes and chatter and everything else I was slogging through in the book. Then it hit me: Flipper’s elemental masterpiece “Sex Bomb” is the perfect accompaniment for most of the sex in Fifty Shades of Grey. You can find this record on Youtube. Just go there and enter the words “flipper sex bomb.” Try it. With C. Grey’s voice, E. L. James urges you to “research” C. Grey’s particular flavors of sex on the internet. “You’ll be amazed what you can find on the internet,” C. Grey murmurs. Really, “murmurs” (148)? C. Grey later says, “Always start with Wikipedia” (185). Since what I write is generally and variously imitative of what I write about, I too urge you to listen to “Sex Bomb” on the internet. If you like it, good. If you hate it, you will just have to concede the possibility that maybe I can outdo E. L James sadism-wise. Do it now.
Another repetitive record I started replaying in my mind was Devo’s great “Gut Feeling.”6 I thought it fitting for more than a few reasons, one being Ana’s habit of talking to her insides. Throughout the book she interacts with her “inner goddess,” her “sub conscious,” and her “medulla oblongata.” It is strange. The “inner goddess” is the most evident interior shade of Ana; here are some descriptions: “my inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot” (309). “My inner goddess has her pom-poms in hand — she’s in cheerleading mode.” Very strange, I wish to forget that visual. You know, a Bikini Kill–Hole pairing would have a great catfight potential at the FSG film premiere. I would watch that. But Barbarella reminded me of another song even better for a FSG film: Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.”7 That one would work either way; if the film were played straight or comic. Another great song is Madonna’s “Beautiful Stranger”8 (for your convenience, these endnotes contain hyperlinks to videos of the mentioned songs). In fact, “Beautiful Stranger” is the perfect song for an FSG film. E. L. James has scored her own book with music that you can find at her Youtube page.9 It is presented like suggestions for arranging the music for a future film. But Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” for a Pacific Coast girl? Sorry, no. Do “Beautiful Stranger.” Are they really going to show the sex as it is in the book? Such a film could only work as a comedy. Today is March 15, 2013, and at the Yahoo home page there is a headline about a German hacker who discovered Emma Watson is going to play Ana in the film. Now there is another story about her denying it. Okay, I am still relevant. Anyway, E. L. James also has an album of classical music personally chosen by herself as suitable for her book.10 Wow, what can I say but be blunt here: she is totally out of whack with the demeanor of her book. Or maybe she imagines the sex for the film will not be so “slamming?” Maybe Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” would work.11
Sex and the City (2008)
Have you ever hated something without trying it? Then you tried it and you liked it, much to your surprise, even chagrin? That is my experience with Sex and the City — the film. I assumed I would hate it because of earlier emotional trauma experienced by watching the television show. I was there at the beginning of it, I heard the hype, the word. I must have watched eight of the earliest episodes when the feelings of nausea began to be unbearable. There came a point for me just like when Mark Mothersbaugh yells in “Gut Feeling:” “I’ve had just about all I can take, you know I can’t take it no more!” As an aside, if one did the FSG film comically, Mothersbaugh would be good for the music; he has good wit. One time a girl told me she liked watching me complain. To each her own, I guess. Also, enter “Fifty Shades of Grey” into Google to see the millions of hits for “cast” and “movie.” The net is littered with content and chats offering casting advice for the film. It is a big phenomenon. Anyway, has anything killed more romance and sex in the world than the Sex and the City television show? Did it have a hidden anti-heterosexual agenda? However, the film is good, despite beginning tantalizingly bad. There is an auction for jewelry owned by a girl who was kicked out of her billionaire boyfriend’s abode where she lived for ten years. Did I mention C. Grey is a 27-year-old billionaire and great-looking? Funny, none of the “experts” I heard on television mentioned that as a possibility for girls’ interest in the book. Anyway, the Sex in the City girls commiserate over the unnamed ex-girlfriend’s loss and how wronged she was, chatting in their staccato, disjointed New York-speed fashion. This reminded me of those aggravating unrealities from the TV show. No, in reality most girls would ask the obvious question — what was his reason for kicking her out? Maybe he had a good reason, maybe not. Is it not also reality that absent the knowledge of actual facts, the girls would tend to favor the guy and trash the guy’s ex-girlfriend? Even with the facts?
Here is some more weirdness: the dumped billionaire’s girlfriend decides to get her “revenge” by selling off her jewelry. Here is the voice-over from the film:
Blair Elkins was a waitress turned model turned actress turned billionaire’s girlfriend who came home one night to find herself unceremoniously turned out on the street. And now she was getting the ultimate breakup revenge. An embarrassing and very public auction of all the jewelry he had given her when they were happy.
Does that make any sense to you? Just start with the words “model” and “actress”; are not those typical reasons for one girl to loath another, not bond together? The ultimate bad signifying word is “blonde.” Just this week a girl work friend of mine was trashing blondes — and she is a natural blonde herself. And how is this action revenge? He gave his girl jewelry; that is a gift transfer. It is only “revenge” if the girl only or mostly valued the relationship by the fact of what jewelry she received. She is lucky her ex-boyfriend did not figure out she was a materialistic parasite ten years earlier. But the television show badness ends early in the film when Carrie flirts with the idea of using a cheap outfit for her wedding gown. But I should shut up and show some pics:
The girls look great in this film. The filmmakers did a great job; forget any caviling on my part. The subtextual storyline is also good. It addresses in an adult fashion a very difficult and tender subject for the average Sex and the City fan: the reality that guys are more sensitive and caring than girls. The main males in the lives of Carrie, Miranda, and Samantha are real good guys who deserve better. But Charlotte is okay. She deserves her husband. I had a little thing for Charlotte once, maybe six episodes. Here are some pics:
She even looks good in yellow. There are things I do not get. For example, the whole Miranda sex crisis. She is lawyer who went six months without having sex with her husband. (Remember, you can skip the text and just scroll through the pictures.) He had a one-time thing with some other girl, then stupidly confesses and apologizes to Miranda out of some dumb idea it would be like reaching out to her or something. Miranda leaves him and stays in a very angry state for over six months, refusing to take him back despite her friends’ suggestions she do so. Does that sound like what a lawyer would do? Miranda says what bothers her about the one-time event, “it’s the cheating part. The behind my back part. The violation of the trust, that’s what’s killing me.” No, a real lawyer would either play it cool and start hiding assets, or go angry for short while and discipline the wandering husband into forceful dishwashing or a submissive gesture such as the proffering of a pink gemstone, a la Vanessa Bryant. Speaking of pink, Sex and the City has plenty of that:
To the question “What do women want?” I know this one. Gifts. That is the universally correct answer. Gift-wrapped gifts. Sparkly or shiny paper always helps, but ribbon is almost a narcotic to them. I know some girls who save bits of ribbon from gifts for memory sakes. Guys, if a seller of a gift provides the paper but no ribbon, get some and add it, unless the paper is really great in itself. Get someone professional to do it. If you wrap the gift yourself, absolutely do not tell your girl about this. They do not take such as a considerate gesture. It is buzzkill to them for you to inject yourself between them and their experience of the gift. Also, do not let her open the gift right away. Deliver a birthday gift days before. Make them watch it for a while. They like that. Check out what Humphrey Bogart does with the box of chocolates in Dark Passage. Again, professional gift wrappers — highly recommended. See all the hanging red, purple, and pink curling ribbon in the pic just right of Charlotte? That is from the Valentine’s Day dinner scene between Carrie and Miranda. Carrie leaves in an angry huff and gets all bound up in the Valentine’s ribbons. She does not look to like it, so I move on. See my ties? I bought a whole roll of silver grey wrapping paper just to make a point about how mad Fifty Shades of Grey makes me. I should point out the book is not without color. For example, Ana has a pale blue bra (112) and a blue tankini (397). Her face is constantly turning red, e.g., “I go crimson”; “I flush scarlet”; “I flush, but then I feel seven shades of scarlet from his heat” (291). Grey eyes and scarlet. Hmm. I did like this one: “I set off into the opal and aquamarine dusk” (187). There is very little in the book about what Ana looks like, but this book was not written for me.
The Devil Wears Prada (2005)
Do you like girls who project authority? Then how about Meryl Streep as the magazine editor and mother of two in The Devil Wears Prada? Here are four pictures of her:
Very stylish too. My picture selection here slants to women’s fashion because I learned somewhere that if you make a guy-type of film, you should show good clothes to give the girls something to look at.
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Do you like Japanese girls? How about Chinese girls acting like Japanese girls? If so, you might like Memoirs of a Geisha. The film has some great-looking good geishas, exampled here:
The film also has a bad geisha. A nasty cat, but cute:
Here are four pics I believe will be particularly appealing to Japanese guys:
The film lays out like poetry for me. Not just the pacing, but the colors. This film has great color. Here are some examples:
Visually poetic. My good acquaintance Harry Northup is a poet. He is an actor too, appearing in numerous films like Mean Streets (1974) and Over the Edge (1979). I like how he incorporates color into his writing. Here is a passage from his poem “diagonal upsweep”:
black grapes, bees full, peaceful sky
blue with clouds, pastoral
low clouds above rectangular houses
where on earth the light goes up
yellow brandishing light!
Here are the first lines of his “red snow fence”:
nebraska, where i threw baseball after
baseball against the cinder block
building: px, post office, barber shop
nebraska, where winds whipped snow into
white loaves against red snow fences
hypnotized drivers with ruddy faces
looking to get around the curve
You can find hyperlinks to both poems at endnote no. 12.12 Beyond color, Harry’s work is apropos because he writes great guy poetry. “red snow fence” is one of my favorites. Harry told me, “I grew up, surrounded by wheat fields, in the small town of Sidney, Nebraska, where the people are good, hardworking, family-oriented, church people.” He explained to me that “snow fences” are actual fences that catch and collect snow blowing around the prairie at ground level, and that these fences “exemplify where I grew up.” What does E. L. James explain about Seattle in Fifty Shades of Grey? Squat. I asked Harry why he uses basic colors so much. He replied immediately with reasons grounded in his film work: “Those are the colors coming out of my subconscious when I write. Costume designers put stars in primary colors, and the secondary players get muted colors. Primary colors stand out.” Harry also told me a great story how he introduced a red shirt into Taxi Driver (1976). Harry played the cabbie named Doughboy. The other cabbies were Peter Boyle, who played Wizard, and Norman Matlock as Charlie T. For the last cabbie cafeteria scene Harry told me this: “I thought blood and mayhem was coming, so I’ll wear a red shirt that I bought on 42nd St. I thought my red shirt will be a foreshadowing or a connection to the shooting and killing and blood flowing. I know Scorsese uses red a lot. I figured it would fit. So I wore the shirt to the set and [costume designer] Ruth Morley and Marty loved it. It fit.”
Commentary from My Hairstylist (2013)
My hairstylist, who works at the Capelli Lounge13 in the Westwood Village section of Los Angeles, turns out to be the most knowledgeable person I have met about Twilight and the Fifty Shades trilogy. She is very well versed in literature and is a great stylist, as is everybody there. In February she was cutting my hair, and within 60 seconds of her talking about FSG I knew she was more an expert on what FSG is “about” than any other source I heard or read. So I bribed her and her co-workers with some chocolates and desserts, and she agreed to be a source for me. She told me that for Twilight book fans the intrigue with FSG is not sexual but about experiencing danger and the omnipresence of it. She read the Twilight books because they were popular, not because she is a fan. She read the Fifty Shades trilogy all together. She had not known of the Twilight connection before reading Fifty Shades. In fact, she thought the sex was a distraction in Fifty Shades of Grey, and the trilogy’s latter books are more to her liking.
My stylist has lots to say about the books, but what struck me as most interesting (and relevant here) were her very first words about FSG when I told her I was writing about it:
I found the Twilight books and movies interesting. I immediately recognized thatFifty Shades of Grey was Twilight related. [E. L. James] is very clever. I think she wrote the book for teenage fans of Twilight who entered their twenties. But what I noticed the most was the books are full of product placements devised to look like a road map for a movie. Twinings tea, Audi cars, the music like Snow Patrol and Frank Sinatra, it all struck me as contrived, but very clever. I wish I thought of it.I strongly experienced the books like I was looking at blueprints. Later I saw that [E. L. James] was a television show producer, and that did not surprise me at all. She organized the books for a movie; that is how I experienced them. I do not think she had an idea the books themselves would become so big, beyond people interested in Twilight.
I found evidence to confirm this hypothesis, such as E. L. James preparing a Youtube page that appears to suggest how a film score could lay out. For my own product placements, I have two. The above-mentioned chocolate bribes were purchased at a Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop. The one near me has a sub-specialty emphasis on foreign candy from Japan and Europe.14 Here are two pictures:
The desserts come from a boutique bakery less than a year old, Eat Sweets Pastry.15 Girls love the sweets here. Everything made from scratch. I recommend all of them. The lemon bars are epically on point, and work:
Blades of Glory (2007)
See the male skater above? How many shades of grey are stitched into his stupid get-up? Six, maybe seven. My title says “Ten Shades of Girl.” Have I not delivered on that promise already? Do you see where I am going with this? Blades of Glory has two hot chicks, the athletic Amy Poehler and the submissive Jenna Fischer. But its colors are cool. The art direction and costuming of the film imbue wintry hues, totally appropriate for the ice skating season theme, and extremely well done. It is also a very funny film. Here are some pics of Amy:
Amy looks great. She plays a pairs ice skating competitor. Her partner is her brother. Their younger sister is Jenna. Here are some pictures of her:
Jenna is the slave of her siblings. She serves them like an indentured gofer (not “gopher,” FSG 36). The elder siblings manipulate Jenna’s feelings of guilt over causing their parents’ vehicular deaths while a child. The explanation for Jenna’s submissive role is more credible than the one for Anastasia’s interest in “submission.” Ana is a tea-sipping Brit Lit graduating from university chick. After she meets C. Grey for the first time she works on an essay about Tess of the d’Ubervilles. She thinks she does not have a boyfriend because her ideals are too high because, “I’ve spent too long in the company of my literary romantic heroes” (24), and concedes she is looking for a “literary hero” in a man (34). Thereafter comes some more Tess stuff, then later at page 95 C. Grey says, “I could hold you to some impossibly high ideal like Angel Clare or debase you completely like Alec d’Uberville.” Ana says, “If these are the only two choices, I’ll take the debasement.” Thereafter there are lots of vigorous sexual interludes that are usually fairly normal but a few times border on pain inflicting. She does not really want or take debasement except maybe twice, once at the end for sure. The middle of the book is confusing as to her motive, and why she ignores warnings, but it gets better at page 355 when Ana shifts gear and decides she can change and rescue C. Grey. “He’s not a hero; he’s a man with serious, deep emotional flaws, and he’s dragging me into the dark. Can I not guide him into the light?” In a New York Times opinion piece titled “She’s Fit to Be Tied,” author Anne Rice, who I totally respect, says, ” ‘Twilight’ is like ‘Jane Eyre.’ Or Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca.’ As is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ ”16 Maureen Dowd, the author of the piece, says, “[FSG] cleaves to hoary conventions out of Harlequin: powerful and wealthy heroes with a sense of entitlement who need to be rescued; smart and strong-willed heroines who tame their men” (‘hoary’ — good shade!). The second half of the article is one of the better things I have read related to FSG, and it is merely an opinion piece with small quotes.
I am glad none of the girls in the article mentioned Tess of the d’Ubervilles because that makes me feel more confident that I do not have to read it in debt to some sense of due diligence to read everything that could be an influence for Fifty Shades of Grey. Because I always thought the Tess talk was mostly a distraction even before I realized the book broke its trust with me. There may be the influences of Jane Eyre and “Harlequin” and such, but the whole Brit lit thing E. L. James spins can be interpreted as a misdirection.17 Actually, C. Grey is very gracious. Except for the sadism thing. But he has a very gracious manner toward Ana. He is a rich “gentleman” who does not have an arrogant air of entitlement, as I see it. Ana is not economically subservient to him. She is independent, and she loves him. For most of the book she obsesses about getting into his head, understanding him. In the latter part of the book she wants to change him. I know the “literary hero” basis for C. Grey because I happen to be into color.
I know Fifty Shades is a trilogy, and I am aware of the bigger ending. I realize Ana is the Brit lit chick who conquers the Ashley-Rhett amalgamation. That is some re-colonization! Well done. However, I am looking at Fifty Shades of Grey. E. L. James is an expert at American voices. She has some things to say about Georgia. I wish she would say more about Seattle. Ashley Wilkes is the epitome of wealthy graciousness. Katie Scarlett O’Hara is obsessed into understanding his thoughts and motives. Later, after the war, she tries to change him. Ashley is the literary Mount Everest of female man-changing fantasies.18 C. Grey also has Rhett Butler’s gusto and Bill Gates’ super bucks. My diagnosis for the primary source of C. Grey’s intertextual personality disorder is Gone With the Wind — the book by Margaret Mitchell. Scarlett is obsessed with knowing how Ashley thinks:
Why he should have captivated Scarlett when his mind was a stranger to hers she did not know. The very mystery of him excited her curiosity like a door that had neither lock nor key. The things about him which she could not understand only made her love him more, and his odd, restrained courtship only served to increase her determination to have him for her own. (GWTW 27)19
She loved him and she wanted him and she did not understand him. (GWTW 26)
And she had thought that if she listened closely she would know the answer to Ashley. (GWTW 531)
Sounds just like Anastasia, for example, “He’s still such a mystery” (FSG 187). “Will I ever be able to understand this mercurial man?” (FSG 334). Ana, like Scarlett, is desperate to get into the head of an emotionally distant man. Unlike Scarlett, she gets the Ashley because he is also the Rhett. Mitchell is very into color. I am too. I happen to think about color or notice it more than average. Maybe a lot more. It is an inclination of mine. You might be above averagely attuned to certain sounds or how people park their cars. It takes all kinds to make a world. I happen to remember color. Ashley’s eyes are grey, told from the first time we see him:
She had been on the front porch and he ridden up the long avenue, dressed in gray broadcloth with a wide black cravat setting off his frilled shirt to perfection . . . He had alighted and tossed his bridle reins to a pickaninny and stood looking up at her, his drowsy gray eyes wide with a smile and the sun so bright on his blond hair that it seemed like a cap of shining silver. And he said, “So you’ve grown up, Scarlett.” And, coming lightly up the steps, he had kissed her hand. And his voice! She would never forget the leap of her heart as she heard it, as if for the first time, drawling, resonant, musical. She had wanted him, in that first instant, wanted him as simply and unreasoningly as she wanted food to eat, horses to ride and a soft bed on which to lay herself. (GWTW 25)
Ashley’s eyes are described as “gray” sixteen times in GWTW.20 Similar for C. Grey in FSG. The word “gray” appears at least 96 times in Gone With the Wind. Grayness is strongly present in the book, due in part to that color’s association to the Confederacy. Recall also that when Ana first meets C. Grey he is wearing “a fine gray suit, white shirt, and black tie.” C. Grey’s hair may not be silver, but it is still metallic: “copper-colored.” Kind of like Leslie Howard’s hair in Gone With the Wind (1939), especially in the copper-red rail-splitting scene.21 In the latter part of FSG that takes place in an “upscale bar” in Savannah, Georgia, C. Grey’s hair is described like this: “His hair glints burnished copper and red under the recessed halogens. His bright gray eyes are shining” (FSG 418). In the latter part of GWTW that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, Ashley’s hair is described like this: “See the sun glinting on his silver-gilt hair” (GWTW 924; cf. 214, “his hair shining silver in the morning sun”). Just to go off topic for a moment:
Ashley — ashes — grey? See the connection? (“Ashley” literally is meant to invoke ashes, the ancien regime.) See why FSG invents a trip to Atlanta and Savannah? It is practically a pilgrimage. Savannah is Ellen Robillard’s home town, and where Irishman Gerald O’Hara begins his life in America. Where their daughter Scarlett (GWTW 78), and years later Ana (FSG 397), go to the beach. One might say Anastasia Steele is the resurrection of Scarlett, or a descendent. Ana certainly turns scarlet a lot. Scarlett turns crimson ten times herself. Flushes seven. But the demeanor of C. Grey is totally Ashley, except for the danger and the amazing vigorous “vanilla” sex — those come from Rhett.22 I absolutely have no problem with sources; I encourage them. But if some girl author is going to try to wild goose chase me with Tess of the D’Ubervilles, and otherwise seduce me into reading a 514-page lie, I am going to tell everybody.
All this heavy chick lit stuff makes me want to bring up the Super Bowl. By the middle of January 2013 I finished FSG and started plotting my counterattack. But some performance anxiety arose in me, mixed with feelings of possible inadequacy. What if writing about FSG was passé and dull now, like writing about Jon & Kate Plus Eight? (BTW, the word “grey” is a synonym for “dull” — did I mention that?) Would I be submitting myself to social humiliation and appraisals of cultural datedness? Sure, people are still chatting on the internet about the upcoming film, but is that enough? (BTW, there was a big communal hoo-ha surrounding GWTW and its film too.23) Then, like an angel, Amy Poehler appeared before me on February 3, 2013.
It was a miracle. During the first half of the Super Bowl a sexually suggestive advertisement for the Best Buy chain of stores came on starring Amy. She looks great in it, as happy as Scarlett in bed. The ad eroticizes the electronic consumptive experience. For example, Amy roughs up the poor shoppie, talks about megapixels, and even reenacts the door hatch scene in Barbarella.24 She gazes into a tablet and says, “Will this one read me Fifty Shades of Grey in a sexy voice?” The shoppie says, “No.” Amy says, “Will you?” The end. I thought, “Wow, I am still relevant.” Then, “Wow, I just watched Blades of Glory yesterday.” Then, “Wow, they did Barbarella.” Wow, that was some assignation.
The Big Sleep (1946)
The Big Sleep has bad girls. Rich bad girls. Two degenerate sisters. Drugs, lots of alcohol, too many guys. Bacall’s little sister Carmen is played by the very hot Martha Vickers. Vickers has a distracting habit of biting her thumb:
Private detective Bogart rescues Vickers from a late-night pornographic photo session that turned into a murder scene. She is drunk and drugged, but does not act like an unwilling victim. She actually likes that kind of scene. (In the book she is naked.) Bogart tries to slap some sense into her, but it only gets her motor going:
Bogart throws Vickers onto a couch and scouts the crime scene. Then he drives Vickers home and throws her onto Bacall’s bed. He makes a slightly provocative observation about the relationship between Bacall and a missing man. Bacall reacts. Bogart grabs her wrists. He says, “Take it easy. I don’t slap so good around this time of the evening.” Immediately thunder and lightning boom and crack. There is lot of frisson going on here. This film is very raunchy. It has a very cute cabbie. She makes a very risqué joke, but I do not want to get into that. Rather, I want to think more about the bookshop girl. Very beautiful, but takes off her glasses way too early. One of the sexiest film scenes ever.25
Bookshop girl does pencil great, even better than Agnes Moorehead does wristwatch. The Big Sleep is riddled with suggestive hand gestures, I think I get most of them. In the book The Big Sleep the bookshop girl does not drink rye with Philip Marlowe. But she does this: “She blew a soft gray smoke ring and poked her finger through. It came to pieces in frail wisps.” Coincidentally, on January 29, the day I cut and cropped the film’s bookshop girl and other Big Sleep pics, a new book called The Tin Horse was released. It is a family historical saga centered on and extrapolated from Raymond Chandler’s bookshop girl. One of my sisters read it; her comments are at endnote 26.26
Later in the film Vickers shows up at Bogart’s apartment. She has changed her hairstyle and color to seem more adult. She still wants him, but he orders her out. She refuses to leave; she is used to getting her way. Bogie tosses her out without ceremony:
Do you know the song “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover”? Bogie gets to throw out the girl himself. My relationship with FSG is a little like Bogie’s — I threw the book to the floor. Have you ever heard that Eskimos have fifty names for snow? It is actually true. Do you want to know something that is totally false? I read Fifty Shades of Grey from cover to cover. Here is my question: where are the fifty shades of grey? WHERE ARE THE FRICKING FIFTY SHADES OF GREY!? This book is so frustrating; its first four words are fraudulent. It has sixteen shades of grey at most, and I am being generous assessing that many. The title is monster fail. No, this is not a minor point. The book goes at length to create the sensations that C. Grey is a very deep person, fifty shades deep, and includes eyes and clothing in the calculation. Women in online chats get all hot and bothered about how “deep” and “complicated” C. Grey is. No, he is just not that deep. To help prove my point, here is the list of the sixteen shades:
The Sixteen Shades of Grey
1. The words “of Grey” are tinted grey on the book jacket.
2. His name is “Grey.”
3. He has grey eyes, often mentioned (7, etc.).
4. One time the eyes are described as “dark smoky” grey. (190) Another time they are “silver” grey (455). I will consider one of these to be a shade-shift from no. 3 due to lighting change.
5. He has one silver grey necktie. Although a necktie appears on the book cover art, and a lot of women chat about it, the tie is a relatively minor part of the book. First there is some rugged making out in a hotel elevator (78). Next there is a ten-page long first sexual intercourse session (112-122). E. L. James is very good at play-by-play pornography; I would never try to outdo her at that. The next morning Ana puts her hair in pigtails and does some bathtub sex (136-137). Ana and C. Grey move back to the bed. He retrieves a silver grey necktie from his closet and binds her wrists with it. He orders her to keep her hands above her head, which she mostly does (139-142). Later he shows up at her Vancouver, WA, home with the same tie again. He binds her wrists, then ties the other end to the headboard. There is foreplay with wine and ice, a single butt slap, then intercourse (191-196). That is all the sex for the necktie, but certainly not for the book. Rather than elaborating issues of control, I will reference the glider trip as a metaphor for it (454 1/2-455 1/2).
6. He is cold to his employees.
7. He was abused as a young child.
8. He was adopted into a rich family and acts accordingly.
9. When he was fifteen he was turned into an emotional submissive by an older dominant woman, a friend of his mother. That relationship lasted six years. She is still around as one of his business partners. Referring to The Graduate (1967), Ana often calls this woman “the evil Mrs. Robinson.” FSG does have its funny parts.
10. He has food issues.27
11. Pinot Grigio is consumed with the nettle soup.
12. C. Grey’s business headquarters has a sign, “GREY HOUSE written discretely in steel” (4). Ana’s last name is “Steele.” I will consider steel color another shade of grey. Why are his grey clothes never described by shade? Not one charcoal grey? Not one “light” or “dark” modifier? Why? Likely because E. L. James was getting so caught up in her sex she forgot her book’s basic promise and premise.
13. C. Grey is a sexual sadist. But he has his limits. For one, he proposes that he will do “no acts of breath control.” What is wrong with a little of that? Ana, heck the whole book could use some.
14. He does not like to be touched.
15. He is a stalker.
16. Despite being a sadist and not wanting to be touched, he just happens to be a super man-tastic fantastic lover. I suppose if he was not so good, many girls would not read the book. “Vanilla” sex is more important erotically for FSG. The foreboding sadism elements are for the danger.
So much for
Fifty Sixteen Shades of Grey. I will now move into some reds.
The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
Sex bomb baby, yeah!
Terry Southern was involved with the film as the final script writer. So, of course, it has to have 1960’s “sex kittens.” Like Pussy Galore’s pilot squad in Goldfinger (1964):
You know those web pages for guys that show pics of various kinds of girls and things for different tastes? None of them has 1960s sex kittens — except this one. The redhead in The Cincinnati Kid is Ann-Margret. The blonde is Tuesday Weld.
Director Norman Jewison says in his DVD:
If you’ll notice, all the colors in the film were muted. We took out all the primary colors. There are no bright reds, bright yellows. Everything is muted. This is because the film takes place in the 30’s . . . Color has always been an important aspect of my work in film. And as you notice here the color, the feeling of period, the kind of muted tones, are very, very important, and when you see the color of the cards they will pop at you because we saved those primary reds and whites.
You know what? If Mitchell titled her book “Fifty Shades of Red,” I would say she was modest. She even contrasts reds, Scarlett and Rhett, to the dull and deteriorating black and greyish-white exemplified by the enervated Melanie and Ashley. No one does red like Mitchell. Here is a passage from GWTW about cotton farming:
Already the plowing was nearly finished, and the bloody glory of the sunset colored the fresh-cut furrows of red Georgia clay to even redder hues. The moist hungry earth, waiting upturned for the cotton seeds, showed pinkish on the sandy tops of furrows, vermilion and scarlet and maroon where shadows lay along the sides of the trenches (GWTW 7).28
Did I come through with the promise of my title? Yes I did. Was my point about colors better than grey valid? You cannot say I did not make a good argument for it visually. Did I myself deliver fifty shades of grey? I think that is a possibility. I went further. FSG has some literary quotes from Thomas Hardy. I provided poetry from Harry Northup, who acted in Taxi Driver. I win that one hands down. I suggested much better music for an FSG film. I spared you my ideas who should act in it. Best of all, I produced the evidence. I detailed my argument why “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a lie, and that there are no more than sixteen shades in it.
I also took you to some places in Nebraska and my neck of the woods. What did FSG show about Seattle? Near zilch. Ana’s apartment is near Pike Place Market. That market is a colorful and interesting place. Does she go there? No. No colorful fruit and berry stalls are visited, no fish-tossing, nada. C. Grey’s digs are in a building called Escala. His headquarters are in “downtown Seattle.” That is it. However, Portland is painted with some detail. There is a hotel, a restaurant, a cafe, a bar, azaleas, a walk in the street. Even though E. L. James may dislike coffee, she twice describes floral latte foam art experienced in Portland (42, 53). The causation of this book’s variable inattentiveness to any coloring detail is the same source of the book’s greater fundamental and all-encompassing flaw. Fifty Shades of Grey just has too much sex in it. As the accumulation of shades of grey slowed at about the time of the helicopter trip to Seattle (88 et seq.), so did the attention to local detail and flavor.29 I wanted more description and character development of Ana. But this book was not written for me.
However, I can say without shading, the ending of Fifty Shades of Grey sucks. Anastasia breaks up with C. Grey after he whacks her butt hard six times with a belt. This is the one time in the book pain is actually clearly induced. A girl wrote that? I prefer how the film Rocky ends, written by a guy. Rocky, by Sylvester Stallone, may be the most romantic story ever written for film. Among other things, many people like how Stallone turned Adrian (Talia Shire) from this:
I will get back to that. Rocky happens to be a very red film. The reds are muted throughout most of the film:
But in the climactic prize fight scene all the reds, and blues, become primary, basic colors.
The brighter colors make the film feel like it took a turn for excitement. They also enhance the feeling of the importance of the event, along with arriving in 1976, the Bicentennial year of the United States. The brightest reds are reserved for the flag imagery, Adrian’s hat, and Rocky’s blood. The film is not without advice for guys. Rocky’s old grizzled trainer sternly warns him, “Lay off the pet shop dame. Women weaken legs.” So what? Also, Rocky is very smooth at removing Adrian’s glasses. He does not, until just before the first kiss. (Of course, one could leave them on.) Adrian’s glasses are meant to look nerdish or dowdy in parallel with her clothing, but I happen to like her eyewear.
The cat-eye frames are shaded, top to bottom, violet to lavender to clear.30 Colorless plastic eyeglasses frames are often called “crystal.” Rocky himself wears crystal reading glasses, seen twice in the film. I myself have been wearing such colorless eyeglasses for many years. Re-viewing Rocky, now I have ammunition to critiques of nerdiness: “But Rocky wears them.” One cannot get manlier that that.
Finally, Rocky examples the problem of the color grey via Adrian’s ongoing clothing metamorphosis. In the two pet shop scenes Adrian is garbed completely drab grey. In the ice skating scene she dons a grey hat and a dark maroon overcoat. At Rocky’s apartment he removes the grey hat marking colorfully her transition into romantic maturity. Then Adrian wears some pink and dull reds but blooms orange red (like Rocky’s robe), then bold black and red at the climactic fight scene. I totally approve of the color change, but I take issue with the film’s implication that Adrian at the pet shop was not very desirable. Rather, I like her. A lot. Pet shop girl has a hot spark under those grey clothes that makes her interesting, dominant hierarchies of lookism be damned!
The centerpiece of the second pet shop scene is a cage of parakeets. Rocky says, “Don’t these birds look like candy? Like flying candy.” What more can be said against grey? Like Fifty Shades of Grey, Rocky ends with some brutality. But it is a great boxing match of men in sport, not some guy hitting a girl six times with a belt. To top that, Rocky ends with six of the most romantic words in film. Adrian: “I love you.” Rocky: “I love you.” The end. What can beat that?
- James, E. L., Fifty Shades of Grey (Vintage Books, New York, April 2012). [↩]
- http://blog.seattlepi.com/aerospace/2011/05/17/seasons-first-copper-river-salmon-arrives-in-seattle/ [↩]
- “Barbarella opening credits”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw6WMdrzbJw [↩]
- “Bikini Kill — I Like”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwh7iilWrp0 [↩]
- “Hole — Olympia” (aka “Rock Star”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDr-HZzNGOQ [↩]
- “Devo — Gut Feeling / Slap Your Mammy — 1978 — France”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YievWIX9AKk. Recommended. [↩]
- “Duran Duran — Hungry Like the Wolf”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOg5VxrRTi0 [↩]
- ” “Madonna — Beautiful Stranger (Drowned World Tour)”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqj3zuciGtU. Highly recommended.
Yes, I realize “Beautiful Stranger” was supposedly written “for” the film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). But that film barely used the song, and the relevance between the two is slim. Take another great song, David Bowie’s “Cat People.” It was deployed wastefully by the film Cat People (1982) as mere background music for its closing credits. In Inglourious Basterds (2009), Quentin Tarantino employed “Cat People” in brilliant synchronicity with his film’s narrative and vision. Likewise, “Beautiful Stranger” could have a second, and better, cinematic life in a FSG film. [↩]
- “Fifty Shades of Grey Soundtrack by E. L. James”: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB312986D77054D9A [↩]
- “Fifty Shades of Grey — The Classical Album”: http://www.myspace.com/variousartists-49382515/music/albums/fifty-shades-of-grey-the-classical-album-18671731 [↩]
- “Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky — 1812 Overture (Finale) [Conductor: Zubin Mehta]”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh9dHyTxYkI [↩]
- Here is a link to “red snow fence”: http://timestimes3.blogspot.com/2013/03/red-snow-fence-poem-by-harry-e-northup.html
Here is a link to “diagonal upsweep”: http://timestimes3.blogspot.com/2013/03/diagonal-upsweep-poem-by-harry-e-northup.html [↩]
- Capelli Lounge, 1001 Gayley Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. (310) 824-2711
Actually, I am seeing two girl hairstylists (not “haircutters,” I am firmly instructed) there interchangeably, and prefer both. [↩]
- Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shops, 1067 Broxton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. [↩]
- Eat Sweets Pastry, 964 Gayley Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. (310) 208-7659 . Owner-chef Megan tells me she is originally from Virginia. She worked for ten years on food-oriented television shows, in capacities ranging from producer to food stylist. (She arranged the sweets in the photo; I added some of the store’s ribbons.) She also worked on music documentaries and was a personal assistant to actor Gary Oldman. Megan then went to culinary school and later became a pastry chef for restaurants, then private catering. She calls her store a “small batch boutique bakery.” All items are made from scratch and produced on site. She and her husband, a television editor, personally grow the citrus and lavender used in the pastries. [↩]
- Dowd, Maureen, “She’s Fit to Be Tied,” New York Times, March 31, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/opinion/sunday/dowd-shes-fit-to-be-tied.html [↩]
- One example: Ana says she would like to visit England because “It’s the home of Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy. I’d like to see the places that inspired those people to write such wonderful books” (47). Rather, she visits Georgia. [↩]
- At GWTW 34-35 Gerald says, “”And I don’t mean that Ashley would run off with another woman, if you were his wife, or beat you. You’d be happier if he did, for at least you’d be understanding that. But he’s queer in other ways, and there’s no understanding him at all. I like him, but it’s neither heads nor tails I can make of most he says. Now, Puss, tell me true, do you understand his folderol about books and poetry and music and oil paintings and such foolishness?”
“Oh, Pa,” cried Scarlett impatiently, “if I married him, I’d change all that!”
“Oh, you would, would you now?” said Gerald testily, shooting a sharp look at her. “Then it’s little enough you are knowing of any man living, let alone Ashley. No wife has ever changed a husband one whit, and don’t you be forgetting that. And as for changing a Wilkes — God’s nightgown, daughter!” [↩]
- “GWTW” herein references: Mitchell, Margaret, Gone with the Wind (1936; Warner Books, New York: 1999). [↩]
- For example, “Her mind went swiftly back to those times when she had caught him looking at her in that strange manner, when the gray eyes that were such perfect curtains for his thoughts had been wide and naked and had in them a look of torment and despair.” (GWTW 69) And, “He swung around in a flash and his gray eyes met hers with an intensity that made her hands go to her throat. ‘Damn your looks!’ he said with a swift violence. “You know you always look beautiful to me” (GWTW 723). [↩]
- In the book, Ashley’s first words to Scarlett in the rail-splitting scene are, “They say Abe Lincoln got his start splitting rails . . . Just think to what heights I might climb!” (GWTW 526). Similar is said in the film. Mitchell does not mention his hair in this scene, but in the film’s corresponding version Ashley’s hair does shine. The whole scene has a coppery hue, which I do not know is imbued by art design or later tinting. I could find no statement about the cinematography here. But it strikes me that the Lincoln reference may have brought up the idea of copper color, and the penny’s little worth correlates to the poverty of Tara at that time. [↩]
- I am no chick lit expert, but the stairwell scene in the book reminds me of sentiments in FSG. It might be core text for the genre: “He swung her off her feet into his arms and started up the stairs. Her head was crushed against his chest and she heard the hard hammering of his heart beneath her ears. He hurt her and she cried out, muffled, frightened. Up the stairs he went in the utter darkness, up, up, and she was wild with fear. He was a mad stranger and this was a black darkness she did not know, darker than death. He was like death, carrying her away in arms that hurt. She screamed, stifled against him and he stopped suddenly on the landing and, turning her swiftly in his arms, bent over and kissed her with a savagery and a completeness that wiped out everything from her mind but the dark into which she was sinking and the lips on hers. He was shaking, as though he stood in a strong wind, and his lips, traveling from her mouth downward to where the wrapper had fallen from her body, fell on her soft flesh . . . She was darkness and he was darkness and there had never been anything before this time, only darkness and his lips upon her. She tried to speak and his mouth was over hers again. Suddenly she had a wild thrill such as she had never known; joy, fear, madness, excitement, surrender to arms that were too strong, lips too bruising, fate that moved too fast. For the first time in her life she had met someone, something stronger than she, someone she could neither bully nor break, someone who was bullying and breaking her. Somehow, her arms were around his neck and her lips trembling beneath his and they were going up, up into the darkness again, a darkness that was soft and swirling and all enveloping.” (GWTW 939-940) Also see succeeding paragraphs for Scarlett’s morning-after feelings, e.g., “But stronger than shame, was the memory of rapture, of the ecstasy of surrender” (GWTW 940-941). “A few days later Rhett tells her he is taking their daughter Bonnie to England. He angrily says, “Have her packed up and ready for me in an hour or I warn you what happened the other night will be mild beside what will happen. I’ve always thought a good lashing with a buggy whip would benefit you immensely” (GWTW944-945). [↩]
- “But the search for Scarlett was to become the most famous talent search in history. Already a topic of national discussion, the question who would play the part quickly reached absurdly widespread proportions — a reflection on both the extraordinary popularity of the novel and the movies’ hold on the public’s imagination. Selznick bragged with some justification that as a result of numerous arguments over the relative merits of one Scarlett hopeful or another, Margaret Mitchell’s opening description of her heroine began to challenge the Bible and Shakespeare in frequency of quotation: ‘Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful but men seldom realized it . . . ‘ ” Flamini, Roland, Scarlett, Rhett, and a Cast of Thousands — The Filming of Gone With the Wind (New York: 1975) 73-76. [↩]
- After Fonda exits her spacecraft, she wanders around a bit aimlessly on the lake of ice. Possibly this promenade inspired the Best Buy ad people to have Amy walk around the shop floor. The stroll includes a polar view with penguins. [↩]
- “Very Small Favor — The Big Sleep (1946)”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqoxk3SrZRw [↩]
- From my sister: “I really thought The Tin Horse was great. Readers are transported back and forth in time via characters’ memories and their investigations into their own pasts. I was intrigued. The book’s flow was exciting. That surprised me because it is about a retired academic who is trying to trace her sister who ran away from the family forty years previous. But since you mentioned Twilight, I want to mention one of my favorite books. It is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. The Historian is exceptional in that it reworks the Dracula story with more complexity and originality than any other work since Bram Stoker’s novel. Dracula emerges as a completely horrific figure. Essentially he is a cannibal, and romantic enslavement is not his ultimate goal. It is the most entertaining book I have read in years.” [↩]
- FSG hints that C. Grey was abusively starved by his birth mother. Ashley also starved, in a prisoner of war camp. For example, ” ‘Starving’s not pleasant,’ he said. ‘I know for I’ve starved, but I’m not afraid of that. I am afraid of facing life without the slow beauty of our old world that is gone’ ” (GWTW 530). By the way, Mitchell totally delivers on the promise of her title. [↩]
- Another example of Mitchell’s mastery of red is her description of the Tarleton girls: “They were a pretty, buxom quartette, so crammed into the carriage that their hoops and flounces overlapped and their parasols nudged and bumped together above their wide leghorn sun hats, crowned with roses and dangling with black velvet chin ribbons. All shades of red hair were represented beneath these hats, Hetty’s plain red hair, Camilla’s strawberry blonde, Randa’s coppery auburn and small Betsy’s carrot top” (GWTW 86). [↩]
- The nettle soup restaurant, 152-155, is encountered on a trip back to the Portland area, well outside of Seattle. [↩]
- The glasses in Rocky V (1990) that purport to be Adrian’s from Rocky are not the same. [↩]