F is for Fifty Shades of F***ery

There have been so many horrible reviews written about the Fifty Shades Trilogy by E. L. James that my mind was made up to not bother reading any of it.  But Book One got downloaded to our shared Kindle (by either one or the other of my daughters, doesn’t matter who)  (and if I did it myself, I don’t remember!) and so there it was, and I thought, what the hell, and started reading.  Finished it and downloaded the second one.  Finished that and downloaded part three.  Seriously, it’s like some kind of strange addiction to the weirdest fairy tale ever written.  Somebody called it “literary crack”.  It’s a modern-day fairy tale fantasy for a day dreaming adolescent, unbelievable in so many ways, and yet I found myself reading away, wanting to believe the unbelievable.  Because it’s just so f***ing unbelieveable I can’t believe it.

Quick character synopsis – Ana Steele, a socially awkward 22-year-old virgin (rolling your eyes already?) who has no idea she’s brilliant, gorgeous and desirable,  meets Christian Grey, a drop dead handsome 27-year-old billionaire control freak who flies a helicopter, owns a jet, lives in a penthouse, employs full-time security staff, has darkly erotic tastes, plays the piano, suffers flashbacks and nightmares from early childhood trauma, was seduced as a teenager by a family friend old enough to be his mother, is heavily into sexual role-playing, has self-loathing issues and been in therapy all his life, and is using his vast wealth to combat world hunger.  Yes. Really.

Even Quicker plot synopsis – They can’t keep their hands off each other or be physically separated without feeling suicidal.  There is a lot of angst.  They work it out.

There is really not much of a plot, very little character development, repetition that will drive you mad, a bit of melodrama here and there, but never any doubt whatsoever that it will all end blissfully and happily like every good romance does.  Oh yeah, and physical intimacy and gratification on every other page. Sometimes every page for pages and pages and pages.  If there were a sexual olympics, Christian and Ana would definitely be contenders.

Who can say why this trilogy is a runaway best seller?  It’s not literary genius by any stretch of the imagination.  There are many more talented writers out there.  I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it.  But I did read the entire thing.  Just like I read the entire Hunger Games Trilogy.  As for Twilight and Sleeping Beauty – couldn’t make it past book one in either case.

Anyway, now I guess I have a better idea what all the fuss is about.  Much ado about nothing much.  So of course perfectly suited to being turned into a full length movie or two!  My head hurts just thinking about it.  Read it for fun or diversion or to be a critic or to become a six star fan.  Or not at all.  More power to Ms. E.L. James who is laughing all the way to the bank in spite of what we think.  And threatening to write MORE!  I am SO biting my lip (and rolling my eyes) in breathless anticipation.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Tonight we played the game called Things, which has motivated me to write about all the things that made me happy today.  Yes, I am THAT desperate for inspiration.

1.  We slept late. That’s the royal we.  Probably everyone else was up and being quiet.

2.  The fog rolled in and then it started to rain.

3.  The rain stopped and the sun came out.

4.  Canada won the Men’s World Curling gold medal, because Scotland let them catch a break.  It was very close.

5.  We had a lovely roast beef dinner.  My contribution was a broccoli dish which actually turned out to be edible.

6.  I got a really great picture of my grandchildren sent via phone, an easter greeting from my daughter, a couple of texts from W, and a gazillion requests to play Words With Friends.

7.  My brother told us some stories about the wild things he did when he was in his teens.  I don’t understand how he got away with them.  I wonder why I didn’t learn from his example.  Or maybe I did.

8.  I’ve been into the spiced rum.  It tastes just as good here as it does anywhere else. And after the third one, even better.  But I switched to Bailey’s after that and lost my powers of observation for a bit so I’m unable to comment on what happens after…how many did I say?  Four? And what was I counting again?

9.  I ate a piece of apple pie.  It seriously would not be an Ontario holiday if there wasn’t pie.

10.  I haven’t had time to comment on anyone’s posts, although I’ve been quickly reading and enjoying them when I can.  The only reason this is on my list of things that made me happy is because getting back to blog surfing is one thing I’m looking forward to when I go home.

My days seem to be getting shorter at one end and longer at the other.  Eventually I’ll have to get that turned back around.  A good start would be not reading half the night away.  Which I better get going on while I’m still conscious.  The only thing here that goes bump in the night besides the dogs tail is my book falling on my face when I doze off.  And if I’m reading my Kindle – ouch.

Here’s to March

With rushing winds and gloomy skies The dark and stubborn Winter dies: Far-off, unseen, Spring faintly cries, Bidding her earliest child arise; March!  (Bayard Taylor)

Taken from my front door, entitled “Waste and Recycle Collection Day on Gillingham”.  Not as poetic as the above, but really, really close.

It’s the beginning of the mad days of March, and the first day of yet another month to fill up with bold numbers on my little calendar over there on our right.  If this year ever ends I will probably go back to posting bi-yearly.  No, really, I’m having a blast, I swear.  When the swearing gets out of control you’ll know it’s no longer such a fun process.

I’ve heard the “in like a lion, out like a lamb” saying my whole life but today is not very lion-like.  There’s a bit of snow falling, but it’s not blustery and it’s only 13 below.  After tomorrow, we’re supposed to get sunshine for a week.  March winds, April showers, Bring forth May flowers….yes, we’re headed for spring.  Yay!

(Use your imagination.  There’s green grass under there somewhere.)

Today is also National Pig Day, but I don’t think we’re supposed to celebrate that by roasting pork. And it’s St. David’s Day in the UK, and Peanut Butter Lover’s Day wherever lovers of peanut butter hang out.  I’m content to simply celebrate my Thursday off, enjoying the early March weather by staying out of it, and savoring the view from every window in my house.  Or the vague reflection of it on my kindle screen – even better.

Egg On and Early TV

(Perry and Della – the unbeatable team)

These topic suggestions have egged me on.  Such a strange expression – makes me think of someone pelting me with raw eggs to set me in motion.

What’s the best way to find out about new books you might like?  Go to the Word Press Home Page and click on the Books topic.  Lots of people out there are reading like crazy and sharing their experiences.  All of the e-books on my Kindle come from Amazon of course, and the reviews and suggestions there are great.  The “customers who bought this item also bought”  thing can be very helpful too if you’re looking for books that are similar to, or just as interesting as, the ones you’ve already enjoyed.  It never hurts to have friends who read a lot and like to make suggestions.  And I love bargain book tables.  Although those aren’t piled high with new books, they’re usually new to me and there’s always the possibility of discovering some obscure gem.

How do you spend the majority of your non-work time? Non-working.  Eating, sleeping, reading, blogging, playing games, keeping up a house, washing my hair.

If you were going to redecorate your home, what would you change? A better question might be, where would you start?  But frankly I’ve spent a lot of years changing things up and around, and now I’m at the point where I don’t really care that much about it anymore.  Our house is too big for just the two of us.  If we ever move to something smaller I’ll think harder about the whole decorating thing.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?  Nope I’m not really either one.  I don’t get up excessively early, and I don’t go to bed ridiculously late.  So I’m one of those boring intermediate chronotypes with no sleep disorders, unless you count liking sleep a lot as a disorder.

What creeps you out?  Unexplainable mystery noises in the dark. The kind of strange sounds you’re not quite sure you actually heard, because they might have been part of a dream, so you listen so hard you stop breathing but you don’t hear anything else.  And so you drift back to sleep.  And promptly hear something slightly different that could have come from the same unidentifiable source so you have to start the whole listening without breathing process all over again.  Or you get up to investigate and make your own mystery noises in the dark because you only knock over extremely cacophonous objects when you’re trying really hard to be quiet.

You can pick one chocolate from the box.  What kind of filling do you hope is inside?  Deliver me from sweet cream fillings that burn my throat and hard chewy centres that stick to my teeth for three hours.  Just give me chocolate covered nuts – in fact, how about a whole box of them so I don’t have to read the quide and try to figure out the pictures and decide what exactly might be inside a Himilayan Pink Salt Peanut Butter Red Velvet Dark Chocolate Truffle From Hell.

What’s your most treasured possession?  My brain.  Such as it is.

Who are your all time favourite authors?  Absolutely impossible to say because I have no idea even where I might begin.  Every single person who writes has something to say, ideas to get across, stories to tell, insights to share.  If I read a book I particularly like, I’ll always see what else that author has written but it’s not good to get bogged down in any one particular genre.  There is brilliance everywhere.  And complete garbage too, but how would you recognize the great stuff without the crap?

What were your favourite tv shows when you were a kid?  We didn’t get a tv until I was nine years old and then we had only one channel so we watched whatever stupid thing happened to be on.  We especially liked staying up later than our normal bedtime to watch a show, which meant that The Ed Sullivan Show and Bonanza (on Sunday nights all the way to ten o’clock) became our favourites by default.  Later on I liked to watch Dr. Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare, and argue with my sister about which one was more sexy and swoon-worthy.  I liked Perry Mason a lot too, because he never lost a case, and I was convinced that Della Street was the main reason why.


Now seriously, who would not prefer those sexy hairy arms and Ben’s brooding good looks to Dr. Hairless Wonder there on the right who looks like he’s fresh out of grade eight?  (My sister isn’t here to defend her heart throb from the ’60’s so I feel like being a bit ruthless).  We argued about hockey players too, pretty much just for the sake of arguing because it rarely had anything to do with the game or their hockey skills.  And then we moved on to male singers (Mick Jagger vs. Eric Burdon, for example).  It’s an endless list for a fun game of ‘have an opinion and defend it, no matter what’.   All in the spirit of egging eachother on.

Here Comes Santa Claus

Or maybe he’s not on his way, if you’ve been naughty all year.  I’ve been talking to my sister and she filled me in on the McArthur Christmas – naughty, nice, the elf on the shelf, tickle monsters, Chase and Alexis, jello that wouldn’t set and a turkey to die for.  I think the chef in the family (Andy) should spread himself around a little better for the holidays, or at least give us all crash courses in how to cook the perfect bird.

My brother starts his treatments the week after next.  Two trips to London, and then the rest of the five months (five months!) he can have them done in Owen Sound, so at least the travelling won’t be as grueling.  Ann says he’s in very good spirits, or if he’s not he’s putting up an excellent front.  His take on it is that everyone dies sometime, some sooner than others, and at least he’s been given a heads up.  I love my brother.  He’s more like our parents than he knows.

Our turkey is thawing, the stuffing is ready to go, the kitchen is a mess, and I’m on my second rum of the evenning.  Christmas Eve is good for something,  in this case an excellent excuse to drink.  Work dragged itself by today and there was only one insane purchaser of eyewear.  Mostly I watched the carts of little old ladies for them while they went to the washroom.  Then I took the damned Christmas tree down, and what was left of the decorations because no one will be back working in the Vision Centre until the 27th.  If there’s one thing that bugs me about this holiday season it’s how we prolong it.  There will be nothing even remotely christmas-y in my house long before the New Year.  Bah humbug, I suppose.  I am eternally thankful that I don’t have to work on Boxing Day when everyone returns or exchanges every gift they got.

Tonight we had some friends drop in for a drink, so that’s what got me started on the rum.  They were on their way home from helping out with Christmas dinner for the homeless.  Or just the unfortunate at a downtown church.  W worked at the car wash all day and then decided to walk home.  He sent me a text at about 4:20 and finally showed up at home some time after six o’clock.  With a tree branch in his hand.  So obviously he’d been into the Christmas cheer all afternoon.  Yep, I’m rolling my eyes.  I’m glad he didn’t drive home, but I could have gone and picked him up.  Of course then we wouldn’t have the pine bough that he snapped off of somebody’s front yard tree. He wants to put it on top of a heat register so that the scent of pine will fill the house.  Between that and my gazillion lit candles the place is smelling down right festive.

The prompt for today is to name the best holiday gift I ever received.  Without a doubt that’s my Kindle from my brilliant daughter-in-law, truly the gift that keeps on giving.  And if you’re talking about non-material things, that would be our incredible families, close and extended, here, there, and everywhere.  Going to be tucked up in my bedroom reading my Kindle very shortly, and fast asleep before you know it.  Visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  Spiced rum does that to me.

My Winter Reading List

You might think that the queen of lists would have a winter reading list, but the truth is I have never made a list of things I want to read based on what season it happens to be. In fact, I don’t even understand the concept. Should there be hot books for summer and cool books for winter? Maybe some warm fuzzy ones for December and refreshing snappy biting page turners for the beach in July?

At the moment I’m having recurring freak outs because I don’t have a charger cord for my Kindle. It’s on order and it’s been shipped, but the e.t.a. is between the 22nd and 24th of December! My Kindle can’t hold a charge for that long! Even with the wireless turned off! Especially since I can’t just turn it off and stop using it even though living in fear of it powering out is making me a bit crazy.

Of course there are real books and my phone has the Kindle App and I could read things on my lap top, but I don’t want to. I want a fully charged Kindle and I want it NOW. Poor me.

Okay, sorry, that was way off topic. But since I don’t get seasonal reading lists, that seemed to be at least vaguely related. Currently I’m reading Alan Bradley’s “I Am Half Sick of Shadows”. I love Flavia de Luce from “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”, “The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag”, and “A Red Herring Without Mustard” and this latest one is yet another of her mystery/adventures.

So there you go. I talked about reading and I made a sort of list. And it’s definitely winter out there. I think that’s all the bases covered for this go round.

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Book Recommendation

I’m sure not EVERYONE will find this one funny, and I don’t recommend that you read it to your kids. But it’s a lovely little stress reliever for every parent who has been driven up the wall by those endless bedtime routines.

I’ve got it on my kindle, so I’m missing these lovely illustrations.

I forget how much I paid for the version without pictures, but the price is well worth it either way.

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10 Things to do Before 2012

I would like to:
1.    Stop making absurd lists.
2.    Quit setting ridiculous deadlines.
3.    Discontinue establishing meaningless goals.
4.    Give up all this crushing negativity and get over myself.
5.    Keep breathing.
6.    Figure out once and for all what the hell happened to that blue back-pack my son had in grade six so we can put that haunting family question to rest and finally be able to sleep again at night. And for those of you who had forgotten all about it, sorry to bring it up.
7.   Stay reasonably sane.  Please don’t tell me it’s too late for that.
8.   Read another 80 (or more or less) books via Kindle.
9.   Write at least three sentences in a row that relate to each other and make sense to someone besides myself.  What the hell.  Try for four.
10.  Clean out the damned fridge.  There are things walking around in there.

Belonging to a Group

I used to belong to the Alberta Opticians Association, but now I belong to the College of Opticians of Alberta.  Because the name got changed.  And I have to belong, otherwise I can’t be licensed and practice opticianry.  Or whatever the hell it is I do.  I am regulated by the Health Professions Act.  I suppose there are worse things to be regulated by.

Also used to belong to book clubs but now that I live about a block away from Chapters and own a Kindle, there’s really no point.

In school I was never the club joining sort, lacking the passion I suppose for anything in particular.  When I was a stay at home mom living in the NWT I joined a Stitch and Bitch club, but the bitch percentage of our evenings was way too high for me.  Plus sewing makes me a little crazy.

Belonged to a chat board once that was great fun.  A select few, who were completely fed up with the Canadian Idol Forum and wanted a safer more sane place to converse, formed this group.  Then Facebook kind of took us over, but I still consider the people I came to know there, who are now my Facebook friends, as highly valued as any of my friends in real life.

And then there’s Plinky of course.  A group of blogging writers in various states of seriousness.  A wordsmith motley crew. Where some pretty amazing people keep me coming back for more.

Missed Prompts

I’ve decided to answer the Plinky prompts I’ve missed this month.  Once you’ve read the questions (and my inane answers) it will be less of a mystery as to why they were passed up in the first place.   That is, besides the fact that I was spending time with family and the internet connection was less than ideal.  Mostly it’s because the questions just confused the hell out of me.

What’s the most important thing I’m putting off?   Well, if it was actually IMPORTANT, I wouldn’t be putting it off.  So although I put many things off in a day, something important would not be included on that list.

Ever considered becoming a vegetarian?  Not really.  I like meat.  I don’t think true vegetarians get enough fat and protein.  Life without fat and protein would be dull.

lol cats – sick of ’em, or can’t get enough?  The last lol cat pic that made me laugh was the one where a kitten is looking at a rubiks cube and saying WTF?  Haven’t seen any lately.  Never think to search for them.

Three things that I want to accomplish before 2011.  Well seriously, if I haven’t accomplished them by now, they better be pretty short-term goals.  I’ve ordered a new kindle so that my daughter and I can share our reading material.  I’ve started drinking protein shakes every morning.  Who knows if that will last.  I get lazy.  And I’ve gone to M&M meats and purchased two lobster tails.  Because OMFG they are so good.  There.  That’s three things.  Done.

What’s my favourite holiday movie?  I don’t have a favourite.  I like to watch new ones.  Although Clark Griswald never gets old.

If there were no consequences, what is the most evil thing you’d do?  Another question from hell.  Every act has consequences.  Otherwise, what’s the point?

Describe what your laugh sounds like.  I don’t have any idea, because for some strange reason when I’m laughing I never think to analyze that.  If I did, I’d probably stop laughing to listen, and have to start over.  If you really want to know the answer to this question, please feel free to tell me something hilarious.

Is it better to know the truth, even when it hurts?   Well, better than what – believing a lie?  Of course it’s good to know the truth.  Even if you don’t believe it.  The question is vague, it deserves an obscurely abstruse response.  Abstruse is my new favourite word, by the way.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?  Having it as the first of two days off in a row makes it pretty perfect.  Any day on which I can curl up in a comfy chair with a great book is a perfect day.  Candles burning.  Dinner in the oven.  Warmth.  Quiet.  Nodding off.  Bliss.

Taking any trips this holiday season?  Yes, actually.  Already accomplished.  A 45 minute plane trip to Grande Prairie.  A three week holiday at “Chalet 2000”.  I don’t even know why it’s been dubbed that, but it’s also known as the ranch and our favourite Christmas destination.  Family is a beautiful thing.

Write a letter to someone you knew in highschool.  Dear Fred:   I’m terribly sorry for treating you badly in grades 9 through 13.  Well, not that I did anything so terrible except to ignore you and not take your crush on me seriously.  And throw up out of your car on the way home from our grad party.  I do hope that drunken episode helped you to put your ill-placed infatuation behind you and move on to better things.  Thanks for the ride.  I wish now that I’d gotten to know you better and had been less of a conceited little snot.  You were sweet.  Probably you still are.  Remember when I said you were too good for me?  At the time I think I didn’t really meant it, but it was completely true!  I hope you had a great life.  I’ll never forget you.  Sincerely, Mademoiselle McArthur

Name three countries you’d like to visit.  I don’t want to go anywhere.  I don’t like to travel.  I want to stay at home.  Leave me alone.

Name someone who deserves more credit.  That would be that guy who wants to buy something incredibly expensive for his significant other, doesn’t have the cash, and needs his credit limit raised.  He deserves it because he’s doing it for somebody else.  If it was just for himself, that wouldn’t be so deserving.

What are your favourite holiday beverages?  Coffee with hazelnut cream or baileys.  Spiced rum and diet Pepsi on ice with a dash of lemon or lime.  Champagne.

Share a photo of something that makes you smile. Kenzie with her “Bella” face.  And Kale looking cuter than Justin Beiber.







How do you stay entertained when you’re snowed in?  See the perfect Sunday above.

Who are the top three funniest people in the world?  Since I don’t know everyone in the world, it’s impossible for me to say.  Justin and Kristen and W. are all pretty funny.  In a funny kind of way.

Well, that takes care of all those days I missed blathering about stupid stuff.  Making it a perfect morning.  And it’s not even Sunday.