My Fifty Shades Confession


grey-colorsI’m going to admit to something I thought I would take to my grave: I recently read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. I hadn’t planned on sharing this, but I find myself inspired by this daily prompt, and Fifty Shades certainly gives me something to talk about. So, here’s the thing…

Fifty Shades of Grey (and its sequels) are ridiculously awful.

When I picked up the first book, I knew little about the premise other than it was an S&M flavored bodice-ripper that was making housewives across the country weak in the knees. (This includes some of my friends, like Angie who shall remain nameless.) I’m always up for a literary aphrodisiac – bring it on!

As soon as I started reading, it only took me a few pages to become annoyed with Christian Grey and all of his “Miss Steele” business. My maiden name is “Miss Steele” and I wanted to pop that smug prick in his chiseled jaw halfway through the first meeting. Also, Ana Steele was a giant wuss who cursed like a six-year-old, even within her own internal monologue. Double crap?  Really? I hadn’t read clumsy banality like that since the Twilight saga. In fact, the only remarkable thing about the writing was how incredibly similar its subpar quality was to another series: Twilight. I couldn’t get over the likeness. Of course, I soon found out that’s because Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fanfiction, and it is supposed to sound exactly the same. (Apparently you can sell millions of books doing that now.)

Disgusted with this drivel, from the “Miss Steele” business to the whole fanfiction concept, I quit the book before finishing the first couple of chapters. Then I told anyone who would listen that Fifty Shades of Grey was everything that was wrong with literature and I went back to reading Hemingway and Steinbeck and volunteering at the homeless shelter. (Actually, only the part up through slamming the books is true; I made the rest up to illustrate how fancy and superior I was feeling at the time.)

A year or so passed, and for reasons I still don’t understand, I decided to give Fifty Shades another try. I muscled through the lackluster writing and the myriad typographical errors. (Do publishing houses seriously not employ proofreaders anymore? What is going on here? I know we have spellcheck and all, but there is no substitute for a set of well-trained eyes. I am tired of reading published books with typos. This has become an epidemic and it is making me lose my faith in humanity. Please, someone do something about this. Sorry for that tangent, folks.)

Needless to say, since I’m writing all of this, at some point, I started to like it. I can’t begin to describe how painful it is for me to admit that not only did I read all three of the books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, but that I actually enjoyed them. I suppose it’s apropos, since the entire plot of the books is predicated on a young woman who unwittingly finds herself sucked into the web of a handsome sadist who enjoys causing pain and spoiler alert: she likes it too!

Of course I could write some feminist dissertation on everything that is wrong with the premise of these books, but it’s really not that serious. The whole thing is so ridiculous that it’s not worth debating the social mores or implications of the relationships found therein. Mostly you just skim over the poor choices, roll your eyes, suspend your disbelief, and hope you get to the good parts while your husband is lying next to you in bed and not when he’s out of town running a drywall trial at a manufacturing plant in Wyoming. Or maybe that’s just me.

The best part of indulging in this guilty pleasure was quite unexpected. (No, I’m not talking about my sex life – that benefit was wholly expected.) E.L. James, the author of the Fifty Shades series, actually did me a great service. See, I love writing, and I love books. I read as much as I possibly can and of course I’m inspired by my favorite authors. But something E.L. James did for me that none of my favorite authors have been able to do thus far was this: she put writing within reach. Because if this lady can sell her mediocre “Spank Lit” and make millions, there’s a market for me too.

I can’t wait to be someone’s guilty pleasure.

What’s That Noise?


records1I know I’m officially getting old because I don’t understand this fucking music that kids listen to today. I realize that every generation says this about the following generation’s music; it’s practically a rite of passage into adulthood to hate your children’s music. (I don’t have children, but I’ve seen kids around, or whatever. And I have a radio.)

Here’s the thing: I’m not disgusted with these kids’ musical idols because they’re too vulgar or too loud – quite the opposite. Saccharine pop stars like Justin Bieber and One Direction are so flaccid and cheerfully nonthreatening they make me want to…well, I’d like to say they make me want to scream, but I can’t work up the energy to care that much. I guess they make me want to take a nap. When I heard that “The Biebs” was caught smoking pot, I thought with a yawn, “Well, that’s a start, but call me when you find him passed out with a needle buried in his arm a la Nikki Sixx.” Maybe then he’ll make a decent record. Nikki used to chase the dragon in a backstage bathroom and then light his leather pants on fire. That’s a rock star. I don’t know what Justin Bieber and his hair are doing before a show. Reading the bible? Finger-banging Selena Gomez? Annoying the fuck out of me just by existing? I’ll tell you one thing though: His dad is kind of hot.

I started getting into music in sixth grade. My first few albums were: Licensed to Ill (Beastie Boys), BAD (LL Cool J), Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi), and What the Cat Dragged In (Poison). That was back in the cassette days of course, but I still have the first two on CD and they’re in my car right now. I remember when Appetite for Destruction came out in seventh grade. It was exciting. Guns N’ Roses felt like something new and different and…dangerous. (Speaking of dangerous, if you want to see something truly frightening, look at a current picture of Axl Rose. Plastic surgery is hazardous to your rock cred, dude.)

My parents hated my music because it was rude, I played it too loud, and my dad thought that Poison, based on the album cover, were a bunch of “ugly women”. (Maybe Poison and Bieber have something in common after all.) The point is, bubblegum popstars don’t scare anyone. (Unless we’re talking about Britney Spears during her bald, umbrella-wielding period.) If you turn this Millennial dreck up too loud it just makes the autotune that much more obvious.

Come on, kids. Give me something worthy of my disapproval. Is that too much to ask?

Excuse Me, Stewardess? I Speak Jive.


jive_dictionaryJust like Barbara Billingsly’s helpful white character in the 1980 comedy film Airplane, I’ve often found myself in a position to translate the urban vernacular to my fellow Caucasians. (This mostly comes into play at my standardized test scoring job where I am one of the few employees under 75 years of age. Some of these kids use a lot of slang in their essays. I once had to explain to a group of senior citizens what a chickenhead was.)

I don’t have any actual street cred or anything. I did grow up in Michigan, but I’ve only been to Detroit twice. I didn’t grow up on Eight Mile. I just love rap music – the angrier the better. If I had a 40 oz. of Old English right now, I’d pour some out for Easy E.

For the record, I don’t really speak jive. Jive grew out of the jazz culture in Harlem in the 1940’s and doesn’t share much actual terminology with the slang you hear in rap music today.  But the idea is the same: develop your own language so only people of the same mindset will understand what you’re saying. It’s like a secret handshake. (But while we’re on the subject, can we bring back jive? It sounds really cool.)

Anyway, people, you shouldn’t be afraid of something just because you don’t understand it. For this reason, I’m providing a service to those who aren’t “down”. I’m translating a couple of popular hip hop songs into Uptighty Whitey Vernacular (UWV) so that the parents of the world can rest assured that their children are simply enjoying some bumping tunes and not plotting world domination. Not yet anyway.

Song: Pop, Lock and Drop It
Artist: Huey

Toot that thang up mami make it roll
[Lovely lady, shake your rear end around while dancing.]
Once you pop pop lock it for me girl get low
[When you find a comfortable position, freeze and bend your knees, getting closer to the floor.]
If your mama gave it to you baby girl let it show
[If you inherited an attractive derriere from your mother, we would like to see it.]
Once you pop lock drop it for me maybe we can roll (oh)
[Perhaps after you complete this dance, we can leave this venue and spend some time getting to know each other.]

Pop lock and drop it [8x]

[Verse 1:]
Baby Huey
Tonight it’s gon’ be some changes
[Things will change tonight.]
No acting sadity
[Do not act conceited.]
So stop acting and get it clapping
[Stop being so full of yourself and join along in the fun.]
‘Cause I’m knowing you feeling me
[I suspect you are interested in me.]
Yeah you cute
[I admit you are attractive,]
But don’t let that shit go to your head
[But I would prefer you don’t act conceited.]
‘Cause with this cutie won’t do
[If there are sexual activities you choose not to engage in with me,]
Pimping another one will
[That’s ok because I can find another woman who will.]
You prepared rocking a skirt
[You are dressed to impress tonight with a lovely skirt,]
And your heels so tall
[And sexy high heels.]
And we ain’t with none of that tricking but our bills so tall
[Although we will not fall prey to your womanly wiles, I must admit we do have quite a bit of money.]
I’ve been peeping you for a while and you’re throwing it back
[I have been watching you from afar and I suspect you have been interested in me also.]
If you looking for you balla we got dough in the back
[If you are interested in a man with a lot of money, power, and influence, I have more than you even see here.]
Look your color carmello brown
[Your skin is a rich, caramel brown color,]
And your skin so smooth
[It is smooth and beautiful.]
I’m having fantasies about what you and me can do
[I am indulging myself in sexual fantasies about you.]
And you an undercover freak
[I suspect you enjoy the kinkier forms of sexual relations.]
You probably thinking the same
[I imagine you suspect the same of me.]
I’m seeing light up on your face because you peeping my chain
[You are excited because you notice that I am displaying my wealth through my expensive jewelry.]
And I ain’t tryna put you out there as if you a freak
[Make no mistake, I’m not suggesting you are a loose or lascivious woman.]
So don’t even take it that way just say you did it for me
[Don’t worry about that. We’ll pretend you only do those kinky things with me because I am special.]
And yeah you probably roll with me ’cause it’s money in my pockets
[I imagine you will go home with me because you are interested in my wealth,]
So before then I gotta see you pop lock and drop it
[But before I take you home for some affection, I would like to see you dance a little more.]

[Chorus 1x]

[Verse 2:]
Baby Huey
I ain’t gotta be your man
[We don’t have to engage in a long term relationship,]
But I really wouldn’t mind
[Although I may be amenable to that.]
We ain’t got to talk again I’m just tryna have a time
[If you want to cease contact after this encounter, that’s fine with me.]
If you a balla pulla stack out and smack her on the ayyy
[Hey fellas, if you are wealthy and powerful like me, show her your money and tease her with it!]
Pop locking cock blockas get up out the way
[If you are trying to stop me from making time with this lady, I must ask you to leave.]
Let lil mami get low
[Sweetheart, do that dance again where you bend your knees and squat.]
Give a space let her sweat
[Fellas! Give her some room so she can do her dancing.]
The club turning to Hooters ’cause they shirts is so wet
[The women dancing here are getting so sweaty that their t-shirts are wet. It almost looks like the club “Hooters” where women where tight t-shirts and serve buffalo wings.]
From the window to the wall
[Throughout the entire venue,]
Lil mama showing her thong
[My lady friend is showing her g-string underwear]
The broad freaking herself it’s telling me that it’s on
[My lady friend is now rubbing herself suggestively and indicating to me that she is ready for a sexual encounter.]
You ready then we can roll I’m telling you we can go
[If you are ready to leave and commence sexual relations, I am also ready.]
I’m thinking if I can handle it the way you make it roll
[I think I can show you a good time based on the skills you are exhibiting.]
You grooving and speeding up
[You are dancing more and more suggestively.]
You right in between us
[You are dancing between my friend and I].
If you a stripteaser then baby don’t tease us
[You are being very suggestive; I hope you aren’t just teasing us with no intention of fulfilling our desires.]
At first I thought I was tripping
[Initially, I thought I was mistaken,]
But my vision getting clearer
[But now I can see more clearly.]
You moving that thang around as if you practice in the mirror
[You dance so well, I suspect you practice at home in front of the mirror.]
She doing a new dance
[You are now engaging in a new dance,]
What the next man said
[Another man watching your moves thought you were beginning a new dance.]
I’m like naw she just pop locking on a headstand
[I corrected him by informing him you were just adding some finishing moves to your previous effort.]

[Chorus 1x]

Song: In the Club
Artist: 50 Cent

Go, go, go, go, go, go Go, shorty
[Dance, attractive woman!]
It’s your birthday
[It’s a celebration!]
We gon’ party like it’s your birthday
[We are going to enjoy this evening as if it were your birthday.]
We gon’ sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday
[We are going to drink Bacardi Rum in celebration.]
And you know we don’t give a fuck
[We are not going to let any worries impede our enjoyment]
cause it’s not your birthday!
[It’s not really your birthday, just a fun celebration of life!]

[Chorus (2x)]

You can find me in the club, bottle full of bub
[I’ll be in the dance club, drinking champagne.]
Look mami i got the X ,if you into takin drugs
[Sweetheart, if you enjoy using illegal substances, I have procured some Ecstasy.]
Im into havin sex i aint into makin love
[I’m interested in the physical act of procreating, but not necessarily the emotional involvement generally associated with it.]
So come give me a hug if you into getting rubbed
[If you would like to engage in sexual relations with me, embrace me to let me know.]

When I pull out up front, you see the Benz on dubs
[When I drive my car up to the front of the club, you notice my fancy Mercedes car with it’s custom 20 inch rims.]
When I roll 20 deep, it’s 20 knives in the club
[I have 20 other fellows with me; They are armed to protect me in case any violence occurs.]
N*ggas heard I fuck with Dre, now they wanna show me love
[Potentially unpleasant associates are aware that I am friends with famous businessman and rapper Dr. Dre, and consequently, they are interested in being my friend rather than being contentious with me.]
When you sell like Eminem, and the hoes they wanna fuck
[When you have exceptional record sales, like my colleague Marshal Mathers, you may find that lascivious women want to engage in intercourse with you.]
But homie ain’t nothing change hoes down, G’s up
[I haven’t changed though. I still prioritize time with my friends over evenings with loose women.]
I see Xzibit in the Cut that n*gga roll that weed up
[There’s my friend Xzibit! Let’s share a marijuana cigarette, buddy.]
If you watch how I move you’ll mistake me for a playa or pimp
[You may observe my walk and suspect that I am putting on false airs by strolling in a manner that is overly affected.]
Been hit wit a few shells but I dont walk wit a limp(Im ight)
[As a matter of fact, I do not walk with a limp, despite being shot nine times. I’m actually quite fine.]
In the hood, In L.A, they saying “50 you hot”
[From the old neighborhood to Los Angeles, all the people are admiring my music and congratulating me on my success.]
They like me, I want them to love me like they love ‘Pac
[Although people seem to like me, I would prefer that they hold me in the highest exultation, much like they hold the late rapper Tupac Shakur.]
But holla in New York them n*ggas’ll tell ya im loco
[Unfortunately, on the East Coast, you’ll find that my peers are not as fond of me.]
And the plan is to put the rap game in a choke hold
[As a matter of fact, they would like to see me fail.]
I’m full of focused man, my money on my mind
[I remained focused on my career, and the money I earn from working diligently.]
I got a mill out the deal and I’m still on the grind
[I’ve made a million dollars, but I’m still putting forth considerable effort to improve my craft.]
Now shorty said she feeling my style, she feeling my flow
[This attractive lady had indicated to me that she is interested in my persona and my talent.]
Her girlfriend wanna get bi and they ready to go
[Her bisexual girlfriend is with her and they would both like to retire for the evening with me.]

[Chorus (2x)][Bridge]
My flow, my show brought me the dough
[My incredible rapping skills have allowed me to earn a substantial income.]
That bought me all my fancy things
[I’ve been able to purchase many fine items,]
My crib, my cars, my clothes, my jewels
[I bought a new house, several fine automobiles, new clothing, and jewelry as well.]
Look n*gga i done came up and i ain’t change.
[Fellas, rest assured that despite my success and money, I’m still the person I always was.]

And you should love it, way more then you hate it
[I would expect you to be proud of my success, not jealous or angry.]
N*gga you mad? I thought that you’d be happy I made it
[Why are you so upset? Aren’t you feeling congratulatory towards me?]
I’m that cat by the bar toasting to the good life
[I’m that guy having a good time, pleased with his good fortune.]
You that faggot ass n*gga trying to pull me back right?
[I suspect you are jealous and would prefer to keep me from continued success.]
When my jaws get to bumpin in the club it’s on
[Once I begin rapping, my fans are powerless under my control.]
I wink my eye at you bitch, if she smiles she gone
[All I have to do is wink at your girlfriend and she will gladly leave with me.]
If the roof on fire, let the motherfucker burn
[It may be getting hot and contentious in this venue, but that’s ok; I’m not worried about it.]
If you talking bout money homie, I ain’t concerned
[If you are suggesting that my money won’t last forever, I’m not concerned about that either.]
I’m a tell you what Banks told me cause go ‘head switch the style up
[I’ve been told I can change around my rapping style and still be successful]
If the n*ggas hate then let ’em hate
[If my colleagues are jealous of my talent and success, I can’t let that bother me.]
and watch the money pile up
[I will continue earning substantial money with my talent and hard work.]
Or we go upside they head wit a bottle of bub
[If all else fails, I will assault you with this bottle of champagne once it is empty.]
They know where we fuckin’ be
[I believe you now understand my position.]

[Chorus (2x)]

Caligula: Mastur(bation)piece Theatre


caligulaI don’t usually take my movie watching cues from Larry Flint, et al, but last month’s Penthouse alerted me to a special occasion that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.  This year is the 20th anniversary of “Caligula”.

I haven’t been much for historical epics since Mel Gibson ruined Hamlet for me, but this was different.  I had a vague recollection of hearing references to “Caligula” here and there.  It was always something indicating that the movie was taboo or offensive or inappropriate.  After recently watching it, I can assure you, it is all three and then some.

My curiosity got the better of me, and I put “Caligula” on my Netflix list, at the top of my queue.  (Sorry Mandy Moore and John Krasinski, you’ve been bumped.)

“Caligula” opens with the title character, Gaius Caligula (Malcolm McDowell), cavorting around the forest with the lovely Drusilla (Teresa Ann Savoy).  This may have been unremarkable save that underwear was clearly optional, giving us a prime view of Drusilla’s lady bits, and the fact that Caligula and Drusilla are brother and sister.  Oh, but that’s only the beginning, folks.

For the next two and a half hours, I watched what can only be described as “Hostel” meets “Clash of the Titans” meets every 1970s porno in existence.  I can’t say I’m a big fan of Bob Guccione’s freshman filmmaking effort, but it does take a certain artistic insight to combine that much gore, camp, and oral sex into one historical biopic.

Maybe the most remarkable thing about “Caligula” isn’t the anal fisting, fellatio, Sapphic cunninlingus, or even that lovely circle jerking scene where Ennia (Adriana Asti) gets covered in male ejaculate.  What strikes me is the cast associated with this movie.

A top player in “Caligula” is, of course, Malcolm McDowell.  This isn’t quite as much of a stretch as the others – have you seen “A Clockwork Orange”?  MM is sort of known for his strange choices.  Helen Mirren, on the other hand, is not.  That’s right. Oscar-winning actress and Queen Elizabeth portrayer Mirren plays Caligula’s wife, who also happens to be the most infamous prostitute in town.

To add to the illustrious cast, we have Sir John Geilgud, an Oscar winner known for his performances in myriad historical films.  Geilgud plays Nerva, friend and assistant to Caligula’s predecessor (and Grandfather), Emperor Tiberius Caesar.  Who plays the mighty emperor you ask?  That would be Peter O’Toole, eight time Oscar nominee and respected actor.

A movie that depicts well-respected actors and actresses, 20 years younger, weaving their craft among piles of writhing naked bodies engaged in various sinful orgies is…surprising.  I mean, the lesbian carpet munching scene shot in 6x zoom was shocking in itself; I didn’t expect it in a movie starring “The Queen”.

So, if you’re interested in bloody, pornographic Penthouse Pet promotion with a quasi-accurate historical twist, give “Caligula” a try.  Since watching “Caligula”, it’s interesting to see the additional movies that Netflix is recommending to me.  “Based on your rental of Caligula, we would like to recommend ‘Naked Torture Part 8′”.  I’m convinced that my name is now flagged in some FBI database somewhere.  Thanks a lot, Helen Mirren.