>> The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
>> Identity Thief
>> Gangster Squad
>> Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
>> Zero Dark Thirty
>> The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
>> Hyde Park on Hudson
>> Safety Not Guaranteed
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>> Peeples (PG-13) [trailer]
>> Aftershock (Limited) (R) [trailer]
>> And Now a Word From Our Sponsor (Limited) (NR) [trailer]
>> Erased (Limited) (R) [trailer]
>> Sightseers (Limited) (NR) [trailer]
>> Venus and Serena (Limited) (PG-13) [trailer]
Las Vegas: Satan Vacations Here
by Victoria Alexander
April 30, 2012
Back from Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Big Al's Comedy Club at Orleans: Brain McKim is hilarious, Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey, and more...
Burma! TDH is back! Our holiday touring Burma was extraordinary! Everyone should put Burma (or Myanmar) on their wish list! In coming weeks, I will give more details about this brilliant Buddhist country!
No one can agree if the country is called Myanmar or Burma. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made an official visit to Myanmar in December 2011. She was the highest-ranking American to visit the country in half a century. Americans are welcomed. Everyone smiles!
Everyone – men and women - wear the traditional national dress, the longyi. Men tie it differently though. The longyi is now my uniform.
It was called "Burma" up until 1989, when the military junta enacted the Adaptation of Expression Law. This decreed changed geographic locations, including Burma becoming Myanmar and the capital Rangoon becoming Yangon.
Known as one of the world's most isolated and repressive nations, yet we saw no oppression or a high military presence. All the people we came across seemed delighted and excited to see us.
Clinton met with Burmese president U Thein Sein as well as opposition leader, the sainted Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. In January 2012, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi announced that she would run for a seat in the country's parliamentary election in April 2012, in which her party, the National League for Democracy, would enter the new political structure for the first time. Aung's party won 43 of 45 parliamentary seats.
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spent most of the past two decades under detention after her party, won an overwhelming victory in the 1990 elections but was denied power by the military junta, which has ruled since 1962. She was released from house arrest on Nov. 13, 2010. Her party's apparent landslide added to the enormous symbolism of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's own election to Parliament after 15 years of house arrest and the violent suppression of her supporters.
Background: In 1988 Suu Kyi (pictured) returned to Burma, at first to tend for her ailing mother but later to lead the pro-democracy movement. Her two sons were 15 and 11 years old when she left the U.K. Her husband, Dr. Michael Aris' visit in Christmas 1995 turned out to be the last time that he and Suu Kyi met, as Suu Kyi remained in Burma and the Burmese dictatorship denied him any further entry visas.
Aris was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 which was later found to be terminal. Despite appeals from prominent figures, the Burmese government would not grant Aris a visa and instead urged Aung San Suu Kyi to leave the country to visit him. She was unwilling to depart, fearing that she would be refused re-entry if she left, as she did not trust the military junta's assurance that she could return.
What about her boys? How could she leave them?
Dr. Michael Aris died on his 53rd birthday in 1999. Since 1989, when his wife was first placed under house arrest, he had seen her only five times. She was also separated from her two sons, who live in the United Kingdom but starting in 2011 they have visited her in Burma.
Before we left, we watched "The Lady", a French-English co-production directed by Luc Besson, starring Michelle Yeoh as Kyi and David Thewlis as her husband. Yeoh describes the film as "an incredible love story" against the background of "political turmoil". The film is a wonderful introduction to Burma and the political history of the country, but I still cannot get my head around the fact that Kyi left her two sons behind!
Who supported her for all those years under house arrest?
Big Al's Comedy Club at Orleans: Brian McKim. I love going to Big Al's, and for $19.95 including one drink, how can you not go? So I went to see Brian McKim and Traci Skene.
Brian McKim was a semifinalist on Season 7 of NBC's Last Comic Standing. He is a writer and professional standup comic who has performed in all 50 states.
I laughed hysterically for his entire set. He's brilliant and I want Big Al's to have him back.
At the end of his act, he told us that his opening act, comedian Traci Skene, is his wife. Oh, what about all those jokes she told about her husband? Brian acknowledged that we are now probably thinking about those jokes. Traci Skene was featured on Season 7 of NBC's Last Comic Standing. McKim and Skene have written a fascinating and penetrating look at the art, the craft, the lifestyle of standup comedy called The BIBLE: THE COMPLETE RESOURCE FOR ASPIRING COMEDIANS" published by Barron's Educational Series in North America (and QUARTO PUBLISHING worldwide. It's available on Amazon.
Why not join me on May 5, to see is a surly misanthrope Robert Duchaine? His sarcastic social commentary pokes fun at a myriad of topics including race, religion, and relationships. He's been kicked out of every organization he was ever forced to join, from the Cub Scouts to the U.S. Army, and fired from every job he ever finagled. Robert finally found a refuge where he can make his own rules - the stand-up comedy stage.
Jill Bryan will be opening for Duchaine. Married mother of two, Jill didn't discover her true calling until July of 2006. Since then, she's worked with great comedians at Stand-Up Live, the Improvs, The Comedy Store and other respected venues around the country. Every Tuesday night you can catch Jill hosting her own comedy show at Dos Gringos, a sports bar in Tempe, AZ, where the comedy is mediocre and the food is Mexican.
Robert Duchaine and Jill Bryan will be at Big Al's Comedy Club from May 2 - 6, 2012.
Book Review. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. It's a phenomenon that might even surpass the Harry Potter Domination of Literature. It sounds like a romantic reworking of The Story of O (published in 1954 by French author Anne Desclos under the pen name Réage) for the Twilight audience. In fact, it started out as a Twilight fan fiction. In Twilight fan fiction, anyone can re-imagine Stephanie Meyers' gothic vampire romance and create their own stories of chance encounters, alternate universes and even erotic encounters. Erotic fan fiction is called "slash fiction."
For an authentic erotic memoir, Catherine Millet's 2002 The Sexual Life of Catherine M. and her 2008 sequel Jealousy: The Other Life of Catherine M. are shocking first person accounts. Catherine M was the heroine of orgies. I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey yet, since I prefer reading nonfiction and am currently plowing through Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo.
TDH's newest contributor, Loren Michelle Barone (pictured), reviewed the book for TDH and it's a review that heralds it as "addicting, intoxicating read." Thanks Loren!
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Reviewed by Loren Michelle Barone.
Hearts, Flowers, and Flogging...
From Twilight fan fiction to New York Times best-seller, Fifty Shades of Grey, the first in a trilogy by E.L. James, has invaded suburban book clubs and bedrooms. Yes, you read that correctly-bedrooms. It's the erotic novel that has women everywhere asking one another in hushed, muffled voices, "Have you heard about or read that book Fifty Shades of Grey?" Your gal pals are not exaggerating when they describe it as "lady or mommy porn." We're talking Kinky with a capital "K", ladies.
Fifty Shades of Grey chronicles the unconventional love affair between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. Anastasia is a virginal English Literature student approaching her college graduation. Christian is a sexy, enigmatic, self-made billionaire. When her roommate falls ill with the flu, Anastasia agrees to conduct an interview with the "mega-industrialist tycoon", Christian Grey, for the graduation issue of the student newspaper. From the moment Ms. Steele falls (literally!) into Mr. Grey's office, she experiences a sexual awakening and becomes quickly schooled in the world of domination and bondage.
To say I love this book would be an understatement. Fifty Shades of Grey is an addicting, intoxicating read achieving guilty pleasure status. It ranks up there with eating your favorite ice cream straight out of the carton and watching a juicy Ryan Gosling flick. I found myself reading during my lunch hour, in between laundry loads and cooking dinner, and just before bed (perfect night stand reading). I couldn't put the book down, and neither will you!
It's important to stress that this book is not just about kinky sex and the BDSM (Bondage, Discipline/Dominance, Sadism, Masochism) lifestyle. If the novel was that shallow and one-dimensional, it wouldn't resonate with women the way it has, and we'd toss it aside after the first several chapters. Author E.L. James (pictured) is a master craftswoman in the characterization department. I found myself falling in love with and caring deeply about the main characters. I was determined to keep reading in order to figure out what makes these characters tick. If the title character, Christian Grey, was strictly portrayed as a controlling, stalker-like, sexual deviant, then we'd label him as a major jerk, not a hero. To her credit, E.L. James explores how and why an individual comes to confuse the thin line between pleasure and pain. Thus, we female readers, like Anastasia Steele, find ourselves falling in love with the cliché bad boy, as well as the wounded inner child with "unruly dark-copper-colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes."
I highly recommend reading E.L. James' erotic page turner on an e-reader. First, it's discreet. No one, not your spouse, kids, friends, or coworkers will know what you're reading unless, of course, you want them to. Second, hard copies of Fifty Shades of Grey are becoming increasingly difficult to come by due to its mainstream success. A second printing hit bookstores on April 3, 2012.
For your literary penance, I assign you to snuggle up with the classic British novel Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy and a steaming cup of Twinings English Breakfast Tea. There are several references to Tess of the D'Urbervilles in Fifty Shades of Grey, and Anastasia Steele prefers tea to coffee. So, this is a very Anastasia-like thing to do, and will satisfy any self-respecting literature snob.
After reading Fifty Shades of Grey, you may find yourself grabbing one of your man's silk woven ties and choreographing a wrist bondage scenario. But, please, not until you both agree on a safe word. Loren's blog is called Under the Greenwood Tree. http://lorenbarone.blogspot.com/
James may be the new Hemingway, but if you can't wait to devour this newest sensation, The Daily Beast's Lizzie Crocker offers ‘50 Shades of Grey' Speed Read: 14 Naughtiest Bits" that begins: "Spanking, wrist cuffs, and dirty talk that's fit for a porno (read: NSFW), the most shocking bits from E.L. James's bestselling erotic novel. Plus read Katie Roiphe's Newsweek piece on spanking going mainstream." http://www.thedailybeast.com
If you would like to contact me about this column, or be included on my private distribution list for a weekly reminder, just email me at Masauu@aol.com.
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