Tag Archives: sex

Fifty Shades Again and Again

Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed 



Pros: Holds your interest in more than the sex vignettes.

Cons: Small print is still my nemesis. Reading in the bathroom for two hours causes your legs to fall asleep.

Having already read (and reviewed) Fifty Shades of Grey, I couldn’t wait to read the next two installments. I planned to write a separate review of each, but as I read Fifty Shades Freed, it didn’t make sense to write about these two novels separately. To do so, I might end up giving away plot points instead of writing a review.

What I would like to explore is the “I couldn’t put it down” phenomenon that began with Fifty Shades of Grey. I fell victim to that sensation, too. But I didn’t observe it in my husband when he read it. I’m not using my husband as an example of all men, nor am I an example of all women. Yet, there is definitely a difference as to how we responded to E. L. James’ writing style.

I read all three books while in the bathroom. The overwhelming majority of us read on the toilet but are hesitant to admit it. That’s okay, I’ll be the poster child for readers on the go. I would plan to read until my main purpose had been accomplished. James’ style wouldn’t let me put the book down. Chapters end and begin at pivotal moments – creating and resolving cliffhangers. Even when the chapter break wasn’t during a dramatic or sexually driven section, it was always in the middle of something interesting. There are natural scene breaks within each chapter that I used to help me switch gears and get off the pot. Most of the time I was able to do that, but only because I had to get dressed for an appointment.

Another habit of mine is to read one book from beginning to end. When I’ve tried read more than one book at a time, I would confuse characters and plots. This is just how my brain works, period.

My husband’s reading style is completely different from mine. He reads two books at a time – one serious, the other light. He typically reads non-fiction. His favorite place to read is in bed, but he’ll also read in the living room or spare bedroom. He never reads in the bathroom – not even the newspaper. I think his reading style makes him immune to the “I couldn’t put it down” phenomenon.

Another interesting factor in the Fifty Shades series is that it’s set in the United States. With the exception of a few chapters in Fifty Shades Freed, nearly all of the story takes place in Seattle and Portland. Along with this, there is a lot of product placement. Christian give Ana an Apple Notebook, iPad, and iPod; a Blackberry, and cars from Audi. Perhaps this is a trend in newer novels, but it serves its purpose. Reading the actual product brand name makes the extravagance of Christian’s gifts believable for me. I can understand that he’s so wealthy that big ticket purchases don’t make a dent in his wallet. We all know what it costs to buy technology, and most of us would have to max out our credit line to purchase more than one of these items in a year while Christian buys them all within a week or two. Moreover, he can’t understand why Ana has difficulty getting used to having all this and more showered upon her.

Their sexual vignettes are described in excruciating detail. I was often breathless after reading these sections. Every possible sex toy, whether for domination or just kinky enjoyment, is described from Ana’s perspective. She’s never seen any of these items, so we learn what they look like and feel like through her before we learn what their names are. Sometimes, they’re not named at all.

Despite all the sexual acrobatics, this is a love story between a woman who had to work for everything she had and a man who had everything money could buy except for emotional stability – a flawed Prince Charming. Christian’s possessive tirades are almost his undoing. Ana has learned to be submissive in the Red Room but fights Christian toe-to-toe when her independence is at stake. Ana’s rebellious nature is nearly her undoing.

Without giving anything away, it’s safe to say that we learn more about Christian’s family, Ana’s friends and family, and all the events that made Christian the person he is today.

Now for the husband/wife seal of approval:
We both enjoyed all three books in the Fifty Shades series. As for the sex toys, I discovered that there was a lot out there that wasn’t covered in 37 years of a sexually active marriage. My curiosity was piqued. My husband was not as curious about them as I was. I teased him a little about being stodgy, but for all my curiosity, I wouldn’t actually buy any of those things. It’s nice to think about the possibilities.

Actually, I started imagining how Ana and Christian would do it in their 60s. In one escapade, Christian tells Ana not to go to the bathroom beforehand. If Ana and Christian were 60 and 67, she wouldn’t have made it through the cuffing before bursting. He might have had his own prostate-driven emissions.

All joking aside, I wanted to see Ana and Christian grow old together. Fifty Shades Freed gives a small glimpse of their near future together through a series of epilogues. I don’t want to give anything away, but James does a great job of tying everything up with a ribbon. Instead of calling it a happy ending, I prefer to think of it as a happy beginning. The very last entry in the epilogue series is a pleasant surprise that I refuse to expose. Trust me, it’s fulfilling!

I realize that I’ve been bouncing around more than I would in a standard book review. Fifty Shades has that effect on me. There is so much more than a standard book formula. Ana and Christian are stuck in my head, along with everyone they know. If James decides to write about middle-aged-to-senior Ana and Christian, I’d be first in line for more.

Your Tax Dollars at Work Making Animal Porn on PBS! SEX IN THE WILD




Pros: Undeniably fascinating; doesn’t “dumb down” its subject matter

Cons: I’m sure some people would find this show “distasteful”

Though the channel has long been associated with straight-forward documentaries, chipper childrens programming, and stuffy British dramas, PBS’s newest show suggests that the venerable public television channel might be making an attempt to gain more viewership through including more “salacious” programming. Wednesday night’s Sex in the Wild follows comparative anatomist Joy Reidenberg and veterinarian Mark Evans (fresh from National Geographic’s Bigfoot: The New Evidence documentary) as they uncover the rarely-discussed reproductive habits of various animals in rather explicit detail. Obviously, studies of animal mating behavior have figured into many nature documentaries over the years, but this show focuses all of its attention on the subject to the point where the program includes a warning to viewers that it contains “detailed scenes of animal mating and reproductive studies.” In the end, though it’s possible that Sex in the Wild would elicit snickers from the more immature viewers out there (but, they don’t watch PBS in the first place, do they?), I’d have to call this program an outstanding, eye-opening, and refreshingly frank examination of a subject that (let’s face it) is rather fascinating.

“Hurry along kids…nothing to see here…”

Episode one of the series premiered on July 16, 2014 and dealt with a study of African elephants. Alternately filmed in the nations of South Africa and Botswana, this episode saw Reidenberg explain the mating and birthing process of the large mammals while Evans chronicled the efforts of a South African team to chemically sterilize bull elephants in order to control populations (contrary to popular belief, in some nature reserves, elephant populations have grown to the point of being unsustainable). Throughout the course of the episode, a viewer not only learns about the unique challenges involved when large creatures weighing several tons a piece attempt to mate, but also find out why the elephant has the longest gestation period of any mammal on earth at around 22 months(!).

This premiere episode includes some rather compelling scenes and a plethora of compelling and intriguing information. Shocking though it is to see the “rodeo ride” that’s in store for Evans as he prepares to extract a semen sample from “one of the most impressive reproductive organs on the planet,” it’s revealed that the elephant’s massive penis has the ability to move completely independently of the pelvis due to the female elephant’s rather odd but absolutely practical anatomical structure. A 200 pound elephant calf would be injured if it had to drop from tail-level to the ground as it was born, thus the male penis more or less has to “feel” its way around the lengthy, curved birth canal during mating. Perhaps more conventionally remarkable is a scene showing the birth of a elephant calf which gives the viewer a sense of why elephants have a nearly two year gestation period. Within ten minutes of being born, newborn elephants have gained a startling level of control over their nervous system, and are able to stand up and even run. This is a necessity considering how utterly helpless newborn elephants are – they’re extremely vulnerable to predation in the wilds of the African savanna and desert. I also found the depiction of elephant social behavior to be heart-warming: turns out that Dumbo wasn’t far off-base in detailing a mother elephant’s love for her newborn.

Hosts of the show Reidenberg and Evans; while Reidenberg gets to play with cute newborn animals, Evans has to manually extract elephant sperm…

Remember those trips to the zoo as a kid when the chaperones would try and brush children past animals that were getting a little too “frisky?”  The best thing about Sex in the Wild in my opinion is that it doesn’t try and brush past or “dumb down” its subject in an effort to make the program more digestible for potentially sensitive viewers: sex is, after all, a natural process and one that is absolutely vital to any living species. As might be expected from a PBS program, Sex in the Wild is generally pretty sober and is put together extremely well – even if it does (perhaps inevitably) have a few “look and point” or “EWW!” moments. This initial episode made nice use of footage recorded under controlled situations (i.e. with elephants that were held in semi-captivity) as well as scenes showing elephants roaming freely in the wild, and a variety of camera techniques (including aerial shots and infrared cameras) were used to record the action. Editing during the documentary was slickly executed with the narration provided by Reidenberg and Evans explaining what we’re seeing onscreen quite well. I also thought the ponderous music score fit the mood of the program perfectly.

Coming soon to a PBS station near you: ROMEO and JULIET as played by kangaroos…

I suppose it goes without say that this program would not be appropriate for or to the taste of some viewers; it may be the most obviously potentially objectionable program on PBS – but is it really that awful in the bigger scheme of things? Sex in the Wild (which will have a four-episode run this summer – orangutans, kangaroos, and dolphins being the other topics – with future episodes to be decided upon later) certainly has a few moments that might make some people uncomfortable, but I think the educational value of the program makes it more than just a show to gawk at. Ending on a bit of a bittersweet note, this first episode definitely held my interest throughout its hour-long run time and presented a wealth of information that I would not otherwise have known. If nothing else, this program proves that even as most “educational” channels continue to cop out with lowbrow reality television, PBS’s lineup of new programs and established staples (Nova, History Detectives, and Frontline are outstanding) remains as strong as ever.