What women want, to judge from Fifty Shades of Grey, is not just people doing It. Many pages go by in this book without any of It getting done, although there is a great deal of thinking and talking about It. The thoughts are provided by the narrator and main character, Anastasia Steele, who is a twenty-one-year-old American woman as well as such a clueless, self-absorbed ninny that you, the reader, find yourself wishing that you still smoked so you would have a cigarette lighter handy and thus could set fire to certain pages, especially the ones where Anastasia is telling you about her “inner goddess.” This is a hyperactive imaginary being—I keep picturing Tinker Bell—who reacts in a variety of ways to the many dramatic developments in Anastasia’s life, as we see in these actual quotes:
“My inner goddess is swaying and writhing to some primal carnal rhythm.”
“My very small inner goddess sways in a gentle victorious samba.”
“My inner goddess is doing the Dance of Seven Veils.”
“My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.”
“My inner goddess has stopped dancing and is staring, too, mouth open and drooling slightly.”
“My inner goddess jumps up and down, with cheerleading pom-poms, shouting ‘Yes’ at me.”
“My inner goddess is doing backflips in a routine worthy of a Russian Olympic gymnast.”
“My inner goddess pole-vaults over the fifteen-foot bar.”
“My inner goddess fist-pumps the air above her chaise longue.”
That’s right: Her inner goddess, in addition to dancing, cheerleading, pole vaulting, etc., apparently keeps furniture inside Anastasia’s head. Unfortunately, this means there is little room left for Anastasia’s brain, which, to judge from her thought process, is about the size of a walnut.
Oppressed peasant and champion of the laboring man (despite being himself a highly paid journalist and graduate of Brown) Kevin Roose gate-crashed a financial industry’s private club party at the St. Regis, and was shocked, shocked to find joking about the financial crisis (and cross dressing) going on.
Roose indiscreetly waved his cell phone around, recording songs and monologues, and taking snapshots, until they finally recognized him as an interloper and threw him out.
As I walked through the streets of midtown in my ill-fitting tuxedo, I thought about the implications of what I’d just seen.
The first and most obvious conclusion was that the upper ranks of finance are composed of people who have completely divorced themselves from reality. No self-aware and socially conscious Wall Street executive would have agreed to be part of a group whose tacit mission is to make light of the financial sector’s foibles. Not when those foibles had resulted in real harm to millions of people in the form of foreclosures, wrecked 401(k)s, and a devastating unemployment crisis.
The second thing I realized was that Kappa Beta Phi was, in large part, a fear-based organization. Here were executives who had strong ideas about politics, society, and the work of their colleagues, but who would never have the courage to voice those opinions in a public setting. Their cowardice had reduced them to sniping at their perceived enemies in the form of satirical songs and sketches, among only those people who had been handpicked to share their view of the world. And the idea of a reporter making those views public had caused them to throw a mass temper tantrum.
The last thought I had, and the saddest, was that many of these self-righteous Kappa Beta Phi members had surely been first-year bankers once. And in the 20, 30, or 40 years since, something fundamental about them had changed. Their pursuit of money and power had removed them from the larger world to the sad extent that, now, in the primes of their careers, the only people with whom they could be truly themselves were a handful of other prominent financiers.
Perhaps, I realized, this social isolation is why despite extraordinary evidence to the contrary, one-percenters like Ross keep saying how badly persecuted they are. When you’re a member of the fraternity of money, it can be hard to see past the foie gras to the real world.
Traditional WASP culture, any Ivy League graduate should know perfectly well, is not utterly and completely built around hard work, steady habits, and the Protestant Ethic. It occasionally lapses into self-mockery and carnival.
WASP culture has a recognizable penchant for creating extremely socially exclusive, but purely farcical, tongue-in-cheek “secret” societies devoted to holding occasional banquets featuring abundant alcohol, comedy sketches, and cross dressing.
The Financial Industry’s Kappa Beta Phi is clearly an institution created on the basis of the same impulses, and operating the same way, as San Francisco’s Bohemian Club. Membership in this sort of club is a rare honor, awarded only to persons famous and eminent, but it is also entirely a joke.
You clearly couldn’t have a mock secret society of progressive journalists with its own annual comedy dinner. They take themselves too seriously, and are too poorly informed to be capable of accurately identifying the causes of current events like the great recession. Kevin Roose thinks it was the financial industry’s “foibles,” rather than federal meddling in real estate finance followed by Obamacare, which produced “real harm to millions of people in the form of foreclosures, wrecked 401(k)s, and a devastating unemployment crisis.” He would never get the point of a comedy routine, mocking the failure of the News Industry to properly vet a radical democrat candidate for the presidency.
Short but pleasant enough Russian shooting game. You are a Russian Federation officer with gold braid on your sleeve, practicing shooting your Makarov. Hit “start” (the button near the trigger). Control your wobbling grip, line up the sights on the bullseye, and quickly trigger off the three rounds you’ve been allotted. This is a rapid fire game. You are being timed, and do not have enough seconds to line up individual shots.
I found it pretty easy to get a good group in the vicinity of the ten-ring. This game makes me wonder if real Makarovs have such nice trigger pulls.
“Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith.”
—The Fellowship of the Ring, “Farewell to Lorien.”
NB : The whole wheat flour gives the bread a tan color, if you prefer, you may use white flour.
Grind the pine nuts and sunflower seeds with a pestle. Melt the butter and mix with the flour in a bowl. Add the egg, before attempting to break the egg, say the Elven prayer: “In May ninista” which means “I am well aware of that,” for indeed, the elves do not like having to take an animal’s life, even if it is only in the form of an egg! If you cannot pronounce the Sindarin, say “I see you.” I think that also works ;-)
Add forest honey and the juice of a section of tangerine (squeezed by hand). In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix with the dough, kneading well. Form a ball of dough and chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 180° C (310° F) Spread your dough 1 cm thick and cut into squares. Incise a diagonal cut on each square and then say: “Alamenë” which simply means “Go with my blessing.” This will help travelers who eat the bread on the road. I can not guarantee that this works but why not take the risk of trying it? :-)
Bake about 25 minutes, the bread is lightly brown but not risen. Take it out of the oven and allow it to cool. Meanwhile wash the leaves and dry them on a clean cloth. Finally, finish your lembas by folding the leaf around the loaf.
(The elves use large leaves from the mallorne, also called the golden tree, which is found today in Lothlórien. For a substitute, you must choose large solid and flexible leaves, which most importantly must be non-toxic. ... I use the leaves of an old magnolia that grows near the woods where I played as a child. ... Remember to rinse the leaves with clear water and dry them on a clean cloth.)
The Elven bread keeps for weeks and months and is incorruptible, a quality we hobbits, men, dwarves, and other creatures devoid of elven powers cannot reproduce. It is principally due to the mallorne leaves which protect the bread so that it does not become moldy. Your bread will, however, only remain edible and good for three days, if you protect it from damp and excessive heat.