It should be said that I am a lover not a fighter, and what I love most is beauty in any form. However, this can result in... overly high expectations. As a person who too often sits on her pedestal of self-righteous judgment, monitoring how the world is "going down the tubes" and martyring herself on the Hellfire of what she deems contemporary incompetence, the articles of this blog will offer my cynical, social, intellectual, and pop cultural observations, which will both serve to vent my frustrations and-- after some counteraction-- convince me that the human race still has a chance. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that "Life is Beautiful," always was, and always will be, even when it isn't, wasn't or won't seem to be. “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” — John Burroughs (Photo of London Library after the Blitz of 1940).

Sunday, May 12, 2013


It only seems fitting, as a writer myself, to devote my first whining session to the subject of literature or the current lack of it. No, this is not a Kindle vs. Hard Back dispute,  a topic on which I remain bi-partisan. (One option is a welcome space saver, the other a tactile, vivifying experience-- the weight and smell of words is oh so magical...). Nay, today I broach the topic of craft, author integrity, and the power of the pen. It truly is mightier than the sword, and I often fear that we are currently wielding a dangerous weapon of increasing mental ineptitude.


... People are still droning on about Fifty Shades of Grey, which I deem to be One Giant Hue of Nonsense. I'm sorry, but explain to me the probity, mind-blowing progression of human intelligence, and social advancement that this alleged modern interpretation of romance is supposed to induce? The only 'probing' involved is anal, the only 'blowing' being done is penile, and the writing is frankly both infantile and insulting, which puts us back quite a few paces in terms of what it takes to obtain literary achievement.

E.L. James's openly and admittedly plagiarized cocktail of the Twilight franchise,
mixed with different character names and the substitution of sex
for the supernatural, tastes more like a donkey's blind piss than a 
whiskey sour. It also makes me want to drink to forget.

Let me go ahead and put my feminist hat on-- don't worry, I'm still wearing my "Bros are my Hos" button. What exactly is the worth of a "novel," (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit), whose heroine is a girl-- not a woman, mind you-- so lacking in identity that she needs to become a man's sexual punching bag to feel special? Some may argue, "Oh Mer, it's just a book. It's only a silly something to read for fun and... erstwhile inspiration." Fine. I accept that. We all need safe outlets for our sexual energies. God invented brothels, Hefner, and Skinemax for a reason. I dig. Some others may get defensive and say, "Well, I like it, and I shouldn't have to apologize for that!" This too I comprehend, which is why I have persistently bitten my tongue when this jewel of a psychically draining trilogy is discussed in my presence. It's a free country. I'm all about the freedom. Read away. I don't want to insult your taste(s). Some still may argue that the intensity of the sadistic erotica in this book is just a way to magnify human, carnal sexuality at its most lethal and (allegedly) divine while delivering the heroine into her own physical and sexual awakening of womanhood-- with the modernist acceptance of necessary kinky toys, of course. This too is fine, (kind of). 

But think about it: Young girls all over the world are reading this, most of whom are in their pubescent, formative years when they begin the awkward and confusing process of maturation. The wounds and lessons in this period arguably run deeper than at any time in a human being's life. The world around them starts to inform who they should later be as women. Their generation's "normal" is being directly and indirectly defined for them based on the experiences, people, and mediums penetrating their once protected, ignorantly blissful personal space.  Therefore, teens are absorbing this harmless, porno-rific tale of Mr. Grey and his whipping toys and consequently absorbing it as an expression of reality in terms of what constitutes both romantic and sexual relationships. 

And what lesson does it teach? If you lie on your back for a man and perform his sexual fantasies, understandably but only occasionally saying "No" when his ideas get too rough-- like when he wants to beat your ass with a Bo Staff-- said Man will fall in love with you, change for you, and marry you. Literally, boys will like you if you sleep with them, even if you are boring as sh*t like the great and complex "Anastasia" of Grey. In addition, they will love you even better if you let them pretty much violently rape you, mentally and physically. That just means he loves you that violently, that's all. In addition, this man, to whom you should be grateful for both claiming you and making you a woman, will shower you with gifts and treat you like a princess as a reward. He is rich too, of course-- the modern stable boy who is secretly a prince in disguise. (Gimme a break, but don't break me off a piece, of that crock-of-sh*t. This endorsement not brought to you by Hershey). He also will never get mad at you, unless you try to live outside his definition of you as his property. Remaining submissive is how you capture a man, and in turn, he will be gratefully and adoringly submissive to you.


Ignoring the fairly blatant reading of sexual/gender roles, the book is just ridiculous. When skimming through its pages-- I did not purchase, don't worry-- I came across a line about "claiming" someone's butt hole. (Pause for Starbucks spit-take). Apparently, this less than poetic jargon turns some people on. I, on the other hand, simply started laughing. I couldn't even get through the first few pages, not just because the dialogue was so atrocious that it seemed to be written by a 12-year-old, but because it was so, friggin' funny that I couldn't take it seriously. Yet the public attachment to it is so eager, desperate, and ravenous, I can only hypothesize that there are a Helluva Lotta women not getting... proper service from their providers. (Ho bros, do your duties)!

In conclusion, I am not upset by the fact that this book exists. What bothers me is its dominance. Even banned novels of the past, particularly those dealing with a female sexuality-- Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Georges Sand's Indiana --- seemed much more liberating than degenerative, as this novel-- which essentially confines women to the same male-female standards that we have so long fought to outgrow-- seems to be. I could easily forget it's existence, yes. What I can't shake off is the fact that other generations sat around discussing or debating the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Moliere, Virginia Woolfe, Kurt Vonnegut, and Normal Mailer, and we are talking about this... sloppy... thing. They (of the past) delved into the complexities of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and its dark implications concerning God, life and death, moral responsibility, obsession, egomania, and both the violence of human nature and the helplessness of human frailty. We (of the present) are in talks to make a movie adaptation of Fifty Shades. They asked questions, pushed the envelope of social mores, and broadened the spectrum of modern thought, social acceptance, and discovery. We, after billions of years of evolution, can think of nothing better to do than go back into the caves and play with ourselves. 

Other generations had the disturbing and genuinely provocative Dorian Gray. We have Christian Grey.

Yes, I am tempted to hate the world...


This past weekend I unexpectedly met a young author: Michael Boccacino. His first novel-- Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling-- was published just last year. Shocker: a writer in my own age bracket, an accomplished and not just aspiring author of today, has written a book, by his own pen, from his own head, with his own creativity and ingenuity, with no further agenda than to tell a story-- and one complete with touches of the Gothically supernatural and a tangled web of the fantastical reaches of mortality and what follows death. This chance encounter taught me that a verbal craftsman still indeed exists, which consequently proposed the theory that he cannot be the only one. Of this proud fact, I needed reminding. Just when I had given up, there is hope. There is still talent. My generation still has words to speak that go beyond the simple, lazy, and thoughtless ease of "Blah, blah, blah." Thus, my hissy fit, which has lasted a full year since the appearance of the constipated Mr. Grey, has been quelled. Beautiful minds are out there and capable of extraordinary things. Of this, I am yet again a believer.

My people, we are more than we think we are. We aren't goners yet!

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