Tuesday, 31 July 2012

50 Shades Of Despair

So it's been a couple of weeks since I wrote my post about 50 Shades of Grey.
Back then, I was innocent.
Back then I was pure.
Stop laughing.
Okay, back then I was at least ignorant of what a massive pile of inexplicable tripe this book is. Let me break it down for you. My friend Wetsoks, after reading that post, kindly and very nicely (read: she's a unforgivable dillhole) found me a pdf copy of 50 Shades. I sat down to read it one night, cup of tea in hand, mind crowbarred partially open, and felt ready to try not to make a snap judgement. 19 horrendous pages later, I quietly shut down my mac and went to lie face down on my carpet (which is my equivalent of the foetal position when experiencing trauma and/or a state of over-inebriation). I gave it a few days and tried not to think about how angry it made me, or how much I wanted to set my mac on fire. Then another friend  @Stavvers, of angry blog fame, sent me the original fanfiction pdf, complete with Twilight names. I sat down again, twitching slightly this time, and tried again.

I have always thought English to be a poor language. It can sometimes be very hard to convey exactly what one means using only English words, which is why I really enjoyed learning both French and Portuguese (and come to that, Greek and Latin). However, it might be for your benefits, readers, that I cannot quite express how much I despise this book. If you can imagine a giant spider astride a giant camel wearing Crocs, and yelling about how it just didn't understand Shakespeare and especially the DiCaprio version because he was cute but the words made no sense and how could you even tell what was happening and wouldn't you rather watch a Jersey Shore marathon while debating about how marriage should be between a man and a woman because that's how it's always been and nothing in history has ever changed or needed to change in the last 3000 years, well. That comes pretty close to combining ALL THE THINGS I HATE. Never mind my mac, I wanted to set everything on fire, including myself and my literary beliefs, which are clearly out of date in this modern world.

I haven't been able to continue reading it because I value what is left of my IQ, but this brave soul has - http://bizzybiz.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/50-heaves-of-puke.html  - so do check out her various ranty posts about it. Some of them are absolutely priceless, unlike the book itself, which is absolutely worthless. For everything else, there is Mastercard, or alternatively, stabbing yourself in the face.

One thing that I will point out from my trudge through those 19 or so pages, was that Christian Grey: Dreamboat Extraordinaire turns up at the hardware store where You/Ana/Bella works. I have a number of issues with this whole section. First, he's a billionaire. People build stuff for him. People run errands for him. He doesn't need to do anything for himself. He has MONEY. So when You/Ana/Bella starts to think "hey, maybe he came to see me... nah" - it makes me want to punch you. Then after leering at you openly, he reels off a list of items he requires for his "hiking" trip, such as rope, duct tape, and cable ties.
Cable ties, people.
It's the murder bag post all over again. Sigh.
So instead of You/Ana/Bella swooning and gibbering like you're in heat at the sight of a nice jawline and pants that 'hang off his hips' (boy needs some braces, by the sounds of it), you should really be nodding, smiling politely, then sidling into the backroom and frantically calling the police. Because this guy is clearly going to leave your body in a woodland area.

If I can bring myself to slog through any more, I am sure that it will provide plenty of fodder for a further rant.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Just Like A Prayer

This is a short post, but the conversation amused me enough to make me want to splash it around on the internet. Behold!

We've got a new Tesco now. It opened recently, and while it's not exactly huge, it stocks a decent amount of products. I dragged Wetsoks along with me this afternoon, despite her complaints, only to find that there were crowds of people meandering slowly along the pavements, blocking our path.

Me: Oh, what fresh hell is this?

Wetsoks: I know! Madonna is performing tonight at Murrayfield.

Me: Ah! You know, I would have liked to go to that but it was kind of pricey.

Wetsoks: I don't like people. I don't like being outside. I don't know why I'm here.

Me: It's good for you to see sunlight occasionally.

Wetsoks: It really isn't.

Me: Don't you want to cherish these moments?

Wetsoks: No.

Me: Open your heart!

Wetsoks: Sweet merciful lord-

Me: Wetsoks, don't preach. We're in trouble deep.

Wetsoks: NO! Stop that!

Me: We've only got 4 minutes to save the world. Tick tock tick tock.

Wetsoks: I am unhappy in all the ways.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

50 Shades Of Otter

My dear otterfriends, I am sure that - unlike the oblivious parent of almost any Disney protagonist in the first 5 minutes  - you suspected this was coming. After all, even though my posts tend towards stupid conversations and small snapshots of my life, I have on occasion written about current events.  I really tried to ignore this one, but people kept asking me if I'd read the much-publicised and apparently very poorly-written 50 Shades of Grey (I haven't, and I genuinely really don't want to but I will, as soon as I can find someone to lend me a copy since I refuse to part with actual currency for it) and whether I was planning to blog about it.

Honestly - I wasn't. It seemed like one of those things that happened despite everyone's best efforts ( much like Rebecca Black, or the global financial recession) and I was really hoping that I could ignore for a while until it went away and stopped yelping at me, or at least until the initial fuss died down. However, 50 Shades Of Grey is cropping up more and more in my  life every week. There are people on my Facebook timeline talking about it. There are people on my Twitter timeline talking about it. And, more seriously and much more worrying, I have seen people in real life reading it on public transport. I can no longer avoid it.

50 Shades Of Grey is, from what I can gather, a very basic concept. A naive but beautiful student called Anastasia Steele meets a wealthy young businessman called Christian Grey, and falls in bed/love while ignoring his abusive nature in favour of the fact that he's super chiselled and rich. It was originally based on the author's Twilight fanfiction, and the excerpts I have seen certainly read like total fangirling wank. Let me assure you, this is not Saramago, or Hemingway, or Bulgakov. This is not even in the realm of the most insane fanfic ever written, 'My Immortal'. I'm fairly sure I'd rather read Kafka's The Castle again than attempt to trudge through 50 Shades Of Vom but I will in the name of Doing Science. Also because sometimes even when I know something is so awful that it will give me nightmares if I look at it, I can't help but look anyway. I blame my otter curiosity.

I won't bore you by going over the many issues that I am sure others have already covered in detail (the amazing stupidity of the protagonist; the fact that although she was supposed to be a student, she didn't have an email address until he set her up with one; the fact that the purported BDSM apparently amounts to little more than a light spanking, some rope and a buttplug; and something that bothers me more than anything else - the continued mention of Ana's 'Inner Goddess' and the unusual physical things her Inner Goddess gets up to during various events which include gymnastics, dancing and ice skating for totally inexplicable reasons).

If I do get around to reading it, I will of course review it for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this beautiful, amazing video, which you do not need any prior knowledge to enjoy.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Disney Life Lessons

Last night, Wetsoks, Fleetch and I watched a range of Disney films. As a sidenote, the Fleetch came over to see if I still had a power drill she thought she left with me (like I'd know where any of the DIY things are) and then got suckered in. No one can resist the power of the first film we watched, my ultimate favourite Disney film of all time, Hercules.

That might surprise some of you, given how often I make terrible Lion King quotes, but I have always adored Hercules. It's genuinely funny, has excellent characters including the snarky-but-with-a-heart-of-gold Megara, and intertwines classic Disney storytelling with Greek mythology (albeit a bit sporadically and with some artistic license) without it being such a forceful propaganda piece for marriage. Not like the next films we watched - The Little Mermaid, and then Aladdin. Now, I don't know if you've recently watched either of those, but the life lessons they teach are pretty appalling:

1. If You're Unattractive, You Can't Be Happy
During her busty rendition of Poor Unfortunate Souls, Ursula - you can tell she's the villain because she's mainly black and purpley, which is classic Disney stereotyping - tells Ariel a story of a girl who wanted to be thin, and a homely boy who wanted to find a girl. They came to her for a magical remedy, which fixed everything and presto! Love! She sort of sweeps over the fact that they couldn't pay the price afterwards and ended up being one of those wormy things attached to the floor of her lair in favour of touting her magical wares, as expected of a villain, and points out that Ariel won't need a voice to secure a man because she has her looks. Yes... men don't want you to talk. Ever. You won't need to have an opinion or a personality, as long as you're pretty!

Fleetch: Oh no, I'm a beautiful mermaid princess! My life is hell!

Me: Girl, please. First ocean problems.

Fleetch: Listen to to the lyrics "the girl who has everything" - yes. You have everything you could possibly want, and you're still whining.

Wetsoks: The seaweed is always greener.

Me: True dat. Incidentally, someone should be concerned about her obsession with collecting shiny things. The lyric is "but who cares, no big deal, I want more". Hoarder much?

Westoks: There's a show about people like her.

2. If You Wait, The Universe Will Hand You Stuff
One of the things Aladdin says in the first few minutes is "some day, Abu, things are going to change." Are they? How? You are not even trying to better your situation. The universe owes you squat, street rat.

Fleetch: You know what would solve a lot of Aladdin's problems? Getting a job. Does he think those bakers and fruit vendors can afford his constant theft? I bet they have starving families to feed.

Me: Good point. And sure, I can believe she's a princess, but I refuse to believe that she doesn't understand what 'payment' is. Oh Disney, trying to convince us women need help for even the simplest things.

There was silence for a few minutes while we watched Aladdin descend into the sand tiger cave, and get the lamp. And spoiler alert, Abu the greedy monkey can't help touching the largest jewel even after they've both been warned not to touch anything but the lamp. The flying carpet grabs Aladdin and they sweep towards Abu who is about to be melted into the lava lake created by his own greed and stupidity.

Me: I know this isn't going to be a popular opinion, but... look. The monkey got you into this mess. Leave him there. Who's going to know?

Wetsoks: Wow, dude. That is cold.

Me: I'm just saying. If we're ever in a situation where we're told "touch nothing but this one item and come right back" and you then touch something that endangers all our lives, I won't hesitate to leave you at the lava lake. Consequences. Face them.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Two Can Keep A Secret (If One Of Them Is An Otter)

My friend Wetsoks is a very special person. Her bedroom is full of Harry Potter memorabilia, zombie survival kit items (some of which this Otternator purchased, during a spree at Amazon, figuring that it might get me brownie points or at least shotgun seat in the car when the inevitable apocalypse actually happens) and a crazy, crazy amount of pills. Don't get me wrong, they're all relatively safe and were prescribed or legally purchased at one point or another, but it blows my mind - as a person who owns approximately one pack of paracetamol at any given time and can never find it when needed - that she has literally drawers full of various tablets, pills and other medication.

Some of these she takes for her back pain (see previous postings for descriptions of said pain) and some she keeps, according to her, for various reasons, up to and including being able to run a black market pharmacy during said apocalypse.

Me: So, at the Taste festival last weekend, I saw a really cute barbecue

Wetsoks: Cuteness is not the point of a barbecue.

Me: Well if you need a portable device to grill meat, I find it nice to be able to choose from a range of pretty pastel colours.

Wetsoks rolled her eyes at me.

Wetsoks: I saw one on I Want One Of Those which folded up into a briefcase. That was cool. You know, when I had the car, I used to keep a bag of stuff in the back in case I ever needed to leave or was stuck anywhere.

Me: Oh yeah? What kind of stuff?

Wetsoks: Like.. a clean set of clothes, a shovel, an extra pair of shoes, um-

I looked at her with unease.

Wetsoks: (ticking things off on her fingers) - a first aid kit, some black bin bags, lighter fluid...

Me: (horrified) That's a murderer's bag!

Wetsoks: What?! No it isn't! I also had some of these pills. And, er, plastic cutlery.

Me: Then it's a cannibal's murder bag.

Wetsoks: (sulkily) It wasn't a murder bag, goddammit.

Me: Buddy. That's... messed up. I can't believe you had a murder bag.

Wetsoks: It was all stuff I couldn't live without!

Me: I genuinely have nothing more to say to that.

By the way, check out I Want One Of Those. It's full of pretty cool stuff, although you'll have to put together your own murder bag. http://www.iwantoneofthose.com

Friday, 6 July 2012

Holding Out For An Otter

I really have nothing to say that could adequately preface this post. I think it speaks for itself. I also love that my friends indulge my daily insanity.

From: Otternator
To: Wetsoks

Buddy. I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero until the end of the night, and I have several specifications he should adhere to in order to attain the position.


From: Wetsoks
To: Otternator


Thanks for your request. Do you have a full job spec for this role?

Kind regards.

From: Otternator
To: Wetsoks
Cc: Cublet

Thanks, please find list below.

1. Strong
2. Fast.
3. Fresh from a fight (might be negotiable since am aware this may be more difficult)
4. Sure
5. Larger than life.

Basically we're looking for some sort of superman who can sweep me off my feet. Ideally we're looking to get this position filled asap.

From: Cublet
To: Otternator

I don't think you should negotiate on the "fresh from a fight" aspect - demonstrates physical prowess and ability to protect lesser members of the team

From: Otternator
To: Cublet

Fighting skills are indeed necessary for the role, however I don't believe that it is legal to request that the candidate is fresh from assaulting another human in order to proceed to the next stage.

From: Cublet
To: Otternator

I'd go one further and suggest that they should be holding the severed head of their opponent. It'll separate the wheat from the chaff.

From: Otternator
To: Wetsoks
Cc: Cublet

Hi - please see attached email containing project manager's advice. Severed head desirable, candidate should bring with them to first interview.

From: Wetsoks
To: Otternator

I will keep this information in mind when reading CVs - however must add that given today's priorities, your role is 36th in line to be processed.

From: Otternator
To: Wetsoks

This is totally unacceptable (and I will be addressing the issue with your manager once she's finishing dragging down her IQ points by reading poorly-disguised Twilight fanfiction, masquerading as real books) as you well know I am seeking someone for this position by the end of the night.

From: Wetsok
To: Otternator

Good luck with that.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Birthdays And Otters And Whiskers On Kittens

Dear otterfriends. It was my birthday yesterday.

27 years ago, at 8:49am, a small infant was delivered into the world, (after causing my mother some distress since she began labour on the Sunday afternoon and I wasn't born til Tuesday morning - haha, you're welcome, Mum!) opened one eye, gazed suspiciously at the surrounding team of medical staff, decided there was nothing of interest happening and then promptly fell asleep. I think this was a pretty good indication of the kind of person I was likely to turn out to be.

The entire tale of my entry into Life is quite amusing; from the point my mother claimed she was going to have a totally natural birth and then caved about 10 minutes after her first really painful contraction, to the moment she grabbed the nitrous oxide mask from my father's hands so fast that she didn't realise she'd ripped it away from the tubing and was in fact inhaling only oxygen (much to his amusement) to the moment she woke up in agony and stitched to the nines, to find my father sitting in a comfortable chair with his feet on the bed, enjoying a cup of tea and a selection of chocolate biscuits. Apparently his gentle and loving enquiry as to how she was feeling was met with a much less loving and gentle tirade of verbal abuse. I can kind of see her point.

In any case, my parents drove through to Edinburgh yesterday to take me for dinner. Wetsoks joined us, and I am so glad, because without her the following conversation would never have occurred.

Mum: (almost at the end of one glass of wine and already giggling a lot) So, let me tell you about the time she-

Me: Mum, please!

Waiter: Can I get you anything else?

Me: No, I think we're fine, thank you.

Waiter: Is it someone's birthday?

Me: Mine.

Waiter: Ah! Happy birthday!

Mum: (leaning forward conspiratorially) It's almost my birthday too. I'm going to be 40, aha.

This is untrue on a epic scale.

Waiter: (uncertainly) Oh?

Wetsoks: Yes... 40 plus VAT.

Mum: What?

Wetsoks: Value added tax.

Dad: What is it now - 20%?

Wetsoks: Yep.

Mum: (pausing for a moment in outrage) I'm not 60!

Dad: Darling. Think about that for a moment. What's 20% of 40?

Mum: You know I can't do percentages!

Me: (pissing myself laughing) Best birthday dinner ever!