Problems with Food in 50 Shades of Grey

People make a big deal about the food in 50 Shades of Grey, but Ana doesn’t eat much of the gourmet food at all. Instead, she continually loses her appetite after Christian does something unpleasant or distracts her with sex. It’s repetitive to the point of being really uncomfortable to read about.

I made a spreadsheet of all the food and drink references in the three books to make sure I wasn’t selectively reading negative passages and not viewing things clearly.

Food and drink were put into three categories. Page numbers were taken from the e-book, although this is a bit inaccurate as they vary based on the size of the screen:

  • Green: positive, non-angsty descriptions of food.
  • Red: negative descriptions of food/lack of appetite.
  • Blue: references to alcohol (all alcohol was consumed without deliberation or protest).

The overall trend in Book 1 is that while Ana tends to skip meals on her own, she can eat generic foods fine with her friends and family. Her lack of eating intensifies around Christian, around whom she consistently loses her appetite. Since she easily capitulates to his sexual manipulation, the author needs some way of pretending she has a backbone (while retaining pages of sex scenes)–so an attempt at character defiance is shown by her refusal to eat in front of someone who seriously cares about regular meals. While he gets her to agree to sexual things she’s unsure about in his contract, she won’t agree to his request that she eat regular meals.

But because Christian Grey is Right About Everything and Ana is a Silly Woman, this also lets the reader see how conscientious and thoughtful Christian is in caring about food. Right, except all he does is rage about Ana not eating and how he needs to threaten her, then lets her go back to ignoring all the food on her plate because the conversation turns to sex after she suggestively eats one thing.

Another reading is that Ana is a timid heroine in a controlling relationship, who starves herself because it’s the only way in which she can feel in control of her life. She’s easily manipulated by sex, but she makes herself feel better after by defying Grey and not eating. However! This is seen as the most romantic novel of all time, something you read for pleasure, so I’m going to go with “clumsy attempt at characterization” as opposed to “grim portrayal of abusive relationship.”

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Six Years of Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Windows


I’m not big on Christmas traditions, but every year I look forward to taking pictures of the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows. While they have creative windows year-round, the holiday ones are particularly special. They make you feel festive without overt red and green displays or holiday props.

Most of the pictures I have are of the five main windows on 5th Avenue. While all three sides of the building have interesting windows, these five are the most elaborate. Sometimes I include pictures of the ones on 58th, such as the 17th century music room from 2005.

The pictures span 2004-2012, with breaks in 2006, 2009, and 2010 for various real-life reasons. For most years, I link to albums with some teaser thumbnails, but 2004’s pictures are a slideshow at the bottom. There’s around 200 total, so enjoy! Continue reading

Stop Cooking That Food

If you are looking to improve your character for Mists of Pandaria raids, going out and getting a stack of +300 food is generally not where to start. Yet in these early few weeks of the expansion, there is an irrational emphasis on cooking. Spending hours to acquire an extra +25 of a stat is the weakest way you can enhance your character–and it also takes the most amount of time. It’s the wrong set of priorities. However, players should be rewarded for choosing to farm top-end consumables, which I’ll address too.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t cook this food under any circumstance, but to put it in perspective–have you done the following?

  • Run enough random dungeons to get a significant amount of VP?
  • Run specific dungeons to get all possible ilvl 463 drops?
  • PvPed to fill in any unlucky drops/well-itemized armor?
  • Done daily quests to unlock epic rewards at Honored and make a dent towards Revered?
  • Gotten top gems, enchants, potions, flasks etc?
  • Poured gold for a Darkmoon Faire deck/BMAH epic?
  • Poured more gold into any other 476 BoE?
  • Read up on a boss fight, since you didn’t get to test them out since they were open on beta when you were at work?
  • Sit at a target dummy for an hour practicing your new rotation?

If so (and you have the time leftover), grats! Farming up those +300 foods is now your next priority. If you haven’t, doing any of these things on the list will increase your output more so than cooking. (A point could be made that Pandaren get +50 from top-level food instead of +25, but that’s still less than the overall benefit of buying a 476 BoE that would at least last until LFR.)

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50 Shades of WoW

1. “Show me how you died to the boss.” “What?” I frown. “Don’t be coy, Ana, show me,” he whispers. I shake my head. “I don’t know what you mean.”

2. “I think we’ll do LFR later,” he says. “Let’s queue up for Tol Barad.”

This is not a sentence I had ever expected to hear from Christian Grey, and only he can make it sound hot, really hot.

3. “Are you backpedalling deliberately?” he asks darkly. I blink up at him, gasping, strafing out of the fire.

4. I eye Christian’s healthstone. It would be like having him in my mouth. Grabbing it quickly, I eat it in double quick time even though I’m at full health. I feel so naughty. It’s such a thrill.

5. Holy hell, he’s been working out at the training dummies. He’s in Tattered Cloth Pants that hang, in that way, off his hips and Tattered Grey Vest, which is dark with sweat, like his hair. Christian Grey’s sweat, the notion does odd things to me. I take a deep breath and alt-tab.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 11: Side Quests

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 11: Side Quests

Perculia: With only the final dungeon remaining, I’ve found myself looking for all sorts of diversions…even going so far as to fish. I was initially upset, upon becoming Adult Link, that the minigames from the child world were now cut off forever, but upon discovering I could simply replace the sword to warp back (Hamlet: another story element that doesn’t totally make sense, that I think we just don’t think about too hard), I found myself frequently taking breaks between dungeons to clean up all the storylines. From what I understand, I’ve ended up poking at most of the side-quests, so it’s interesting to see both what interested me initially, and why I wasn’t interested in pursuing a select few things.

Magic Beans: When I first met the Magic Beans vendor by Zora’s River, I wasn’t interested in buying any of them–not even for 10 Rupees (H: Heh, I suppose it is true that “magic beans” are something people are usually skeptical of. With a bit of genre savvy though, you can guess the in-game ones are probably not as useless as the real-life variety). However, when I couldn’t access the vendor as Adult Link before learning the Prelude to Time, I suddenly had to know what the beans did.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 10: Spirit Temple

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 10: Spirit Temple and Gerudo Valley


Gerudo Fortress

Perculia: Gerudo Fortress quickly establishes itself as a fresh area–you’re stuck in prison immediately. The thieves, seemingly without a leader, have thrown terrified carpenters into prison, and if you get too close to them or fail to block their signature attack, you’ll end up back in prison too. While the guards are hostile, they don’t seem wholly evil from the start–it’s more that they’re testing you to become a better fighter, up to their standards. I admit I struggled with this part at first, trying different combat moves against them and getting discouraged when I was sent to prison before I really knew what happened. I ended up being able to defeat the guards in contrasting ways–gaining distance, side-stepping attacks, and slashing right after, as well as staying in close range, cornering the guard, and waiting for the right moment to attack. I also paid attention to the large commonrooms in between the passageways and cells–by jumping onto a floating block via hookshotting the ceiling, I learned I could avoid patrolling guards below. I also dodged the patrolling guards, but I was curious about the presence of the stone platforms and their function. As it turns out, hookshotting the ceiling was the solution to bypassing a hallway blockage leading to a rooftop chest and heart piece.

Hamlet: One stealth sequence in every adventure game or RPG is a trope that’s about as old and pervasive as they come. Ocarina’s isn’t bad. The game is not exactly cut out for that sort of hide-and-seek gameplay, but they keep it short and come up with a few distinct obstacles. The Hookshot is your only heavy-duty non-combat tool (Hover Boots are pretty unexciting), but they definitely get some mileage out of it here.

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Notes on Ocarina of Time, Part 9: Shadow Temple

This is a continuation of our Ocarina notes project. You can see all the parts here.
Part 9: The Shadow Temple

Kakariko Village

Perculia: Seeing Kakariko Village in flames, the one zone that’s remained relatively stable through Adult Link’s explorations, sets the tone for this creepy segment.

Hamlet: Especially going back to some much earlier comments on the Village, and how it’s the oddly peaceful area with random goofy characters set off from the world. It was always a very comfortable place (interesting distinction from Link to the Past, where Kakariko is transformed and no longer safe in the Dark World).

P: This instance gave me the most initial confusion, even more so than the Water Temple (which was easy to figure out once I mentally reorganized the Temple’s map by water levels instead of the actual map floors). Much of this was due to being able to enter the Shadow Temple and obtain the Hoverboots and Dungeon Map without the Lens of Truth–it didn’t cross my mind to return to this segment as a child because I hadn’t needed to when prepping for the other three temples–Forest, Fire, and Water. It’s logical that the Shadow Temple would build upon the complexity of the Water Temple, and part of that would be elaborating the mini-instance required to access the actual Temple. The Forest Temple required you to race Dampe in the Kakariko graveyard, the Fire Temple had you meet Goron Link, and the Water Temple really kicked things up by sending you through the Ice Temple, a mini-dungeon with a map, compass, and loot chest at the end.

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Diablo III Banner Customization Guide

There isn’t much personalization in Diablo III, but your character can display customizable banner on the menu screen and in-game. Since the banner interface is unwieldy when it comes to matching up locked designs with achievements (it tells you the name of the achievement needed to unlock any design, but doesn’t link you to it or give any other information), this guide covers the information behind all banner shapes, patterns, sigils, and accents. It presents each row of banner shapes, patterns, sigils, and accents as they appear in-game, with a description of all the achievements required.

There are patterns among the types of achievements and rewards: kills on certain difficulties reward specific augmentations, as explained below. Worth noting is that among Co-op kills, only Inferno ones have banner rewards, and among Hardcore boss achievements, only Normal kills have rewards.

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The Auction House is Currently Available

Another collaborative essay by Perculia and Hamlet (see About for more info), this time not about WoW.

Diablo has always had a formula: elevating the mundane task of clicking and looting into something inexplicably enthralling. Everyone who’s played any Diablo game understands it, other games have tried to replicate it, but nobody ever seems to know exactly what the secret ingredient is. Diablo 3 looked as though it was going to remain safely in this well-charted territory. But over the hours we’ve spent playing in the first four weeks since the game’s release, one element we didn’t foresee has, for better or for worse, altered the formula on quite a fundamental level. We want to discuss the new system in Diablo 3 that, since it was released into the wild, has bent the entire game around its existence: the Auction House.

Blizzard has remarked that the game’s testing was done in an AH-free environment. While simulating the AH for internal testing would have been obviously difficult, it seems the ramifications of the AH have taken everyone by surprise. Having had time to see it in action, we discuss how the AH has affected players across the spectrum, from low-level first-time players which make up a large part of the user base to high-level Inferno players. We also explain why we now believe the AH’s omnipresence was inevitable once it was introduced.

As of this writing, on the planned eve of the arrival of the real money AH, the effect that will have on the landscape remains speculative. There’s no doubt it will be interesting, and will provide fodder for more analysis once everyone has digested its effects. But we wanted to write this piece before that took place, because the effect of the AH on the nature of the game, even without the more complex real money factor, is quite dramatic in its own right.

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Armor Dyes in Diablo III

This post has nothing to do with theorycrafting. It will instead cover Armor Dyes found in Diablo III, including what difficulty level they are first available in, item costs, vendors, and related achievements.
General Info
  • There are 20 dyes available, not counting two reusable dyes from the Collector’s Edition. Dyes are purely cosmetic items and will recolor a player’s armor.
  • Each level of difficulty unlocks several new dyes. Dyes available from easier tiers are still available for their cheap prices in later tiers.
  • Each in-game dye can be used only once. It can dye one of the following armor slots: helm, shoulders, chest, gloves, pants, boots. Belts, bracers, weapons, amulets, and rings cannot be dyed.
  • Dyes can be traded between party members, sold on the AH, stacked up to 20, and put in a stash. They are initially found on vendors (see section below).
  • There are no level requirements to using dyes: a dye only available in Inferno can be put into a stash and used on a fresh level 1 character.
  • The following list of dyes shows the earliest difficulty level the dyes can be found at. The dyes then have a chance at showing up in all later levels.
  • Some details on distinctive armor cannot be completely dyed. An example of this are chest panels on Demon Hunter-only shirts. Other dyed armor may only show a faint tint on an item’s metal detail.