Saturday, April 28, 2012

Warmed Toilet Seats, Old Coins and Cheaters...

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If you've not been to Ephesus, Turkey, it is one spot you need to experience.  Started as a city in 550BC by the Greeks and then dominated by the Romans, it is the largest active excavation in the world.  It is compactt therefore, easier to experience.  We had been there in the early 1990's and at that point our guide told us that at one time the city had 330,000 inhabitants the majority of which were slaves.  On this visit we were told 400,000.  Maybe they adjusted the number, who knows.  On both of our trips we had highly educated guides.  On the first trip our guide was a professor of history and this time our guide was an engineer.  Yes, we believed them because of the quality of the tours we booked.  Anyway, this time we had friends with us who hadn't been. We get out of the bus and the heavens open.  What should have been an hour to an hour and a half  was 30minutes. Here's some of what my friends missed:  The Greeks and Romans were ingenious and sneaky engineers.  They built cisterns on the tops of the hills to catch rain water.  It then flowed downhill to provide running water. At right there is a picture of the latrines.  The seats were marble and therefore, cold in the winter.  So, the slave owners would send their slaves down to the latrines and have them sit on the marble to warm it up.  When it was warm, here came the owner.  At their feet was running water for them to clean themselves.  Read more...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Song List for The Fifty Shades Trilogy

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I should have included this in my last post.  These lists are from EL James' website:

Fifty Shades of Grey:

Lakmé (Act I): Flower Duet- Alain Lombard, Mady Mesple, Danielle Millet & Orchestre du Théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique- 50 Classics for Beginners

Sex On Fire- Kings of Leon -Only By the Night (Deluxe Version) Read more...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kinky F**kery: My Book Review on The Fifty Shades Trilogy

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I was at my allergist’s office waiting for the time to pass after I had gotten my allergy shots. Since I was getting ready to go on vacation and looking for something to download for the long flights, I noticed another patient reading her e-book. I asked her what she was reading and she blushed. She said, “You’re going to think I’m silly but I’m reading the Fifty Shades Trilogy.” Now I had heard of the Trilogy and knew it had something to do with bondage. OK, a little light reading for the trip. I downloaded the first book and finished it within 2 days and then realized that I hadn’t downloaded the other two! Where can I find a Wi-Fi to connect to?!!! AHHHHH! Many of my friends have read the books and mostly it’s, “oh my.” And that will normally be accompanied by a huge blush. E. L. James books

So here’s the deal. E.L. James, a British mother of two read the Twilight series and saw the movies. She basically said “wow”. I want to do something like that but for adults. She began writing the book and publishing it on fan-published erotica sites. It became such an online phenomena that an Australian publisher won a bidding war to get them published and now Universal pictures has picked up the rights for $5 million and E.L. has script and casting approval. That’s something Stephanie Meyer didn’t even have. There is one book sold every second. Why have these books started such a craze? Well, in the US the books are being called “mom porn.” I guess that means that there are a lot of lusty housewives out there looking for something “different”. The basic premise is this: 21 year old, gawky, technophobic, Anastasia Steele meets 27 year old uber rich, extremely handsome, standoffish, domineering Christian Grey. We are repeatedly told about his stunning grey eyes, his stunning physique and his wavy thick hair. Oh my. But little is actually said about Ana’s looks except that she has long brown hair, she’s pale and has blue eyes too big for her face. So what does Christian see in Ana that enthralls him? You see he’s into BDSM, bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism. Christian has a bleak and dark past and when he was 15 he was seduced by an older lady who brought him into the BDSM world. He has no clue about having “vanilla” sex. He sees Ana as a submissive and wants her to become part of his world. Now, when E.L. was asked on 20/20 about is it appropriate to portray a young woman as a submissive she replied,” Well, women take control all day…they go to work, they care for the kids, they cook, they clean…it’s nice to every once in awhile give control over to someone else.” Many reviews have been written criticizing the novels on this level. The only thing I could say is that James could have made Grey and Anastasia older. Anastasia being 21 AND a virgin keep niggling at the back of my brain. She’s not a virgin for long…But other reviews have said that the book has great overtones about learning to compromise, that when it comes to sexuality there needs to be an openness between partners as to what is, as Christian would say, a “soft limit and a hard limit.” On a basic level (really basic) it’s about the evolving dynamics of two people falling (possibly) in love.

The writing is really, really bad. James admits this. She repeats herself time after time: Oh my, kinky f***kery, holy cr*p, Ana constantly biting her lower lip, her inner goddess is always doing back flips and his flashing grey eyes. It seems she gets erotically charged every time Christian comes around (OK, that’s loaded with some double entendres). And how many times can he grab a fist full of her hair and pull her head back?

So why then read the books? It’s purely guilty pleasures. A woman’s sexuality is awakened by a very experienced man (who has a Red Room of Pain). You get to follow their sexual exploits (with kinky f**kery) as well as their developing relationship. Plus there are some side stories of some interest. But the story is all Ana and Christian’s.

Buy or download Fifty Shades of Grey and see if it’s for you. It’s definitely not hard core but even if a little BDSM is too much for you, don't waste your money. Fifty Shades of Grey introduces you to Ana and Christian and their push and pull (OK stop with that) relationship. Fifty Shades Darker leads you to why Christian is the way he is and his learning to compromise and Fifty Shades Freed gives you the climax (stop that!) to the story. James wraps the last book up nicely by ending with Christian (in real time) experiencing  his first meeting with Ana. That is where you learn what she really looks like and why he becomes entranced by her.   (Jamie Dornan will play Christian and Dakota Johnson, Ana.)

Final take: I thoroughly enjoyed all three books. If the movie studios follow the books, the movies will have to be NC 17. And the big question is…who will play Christian and who will play Ana? James wants unknowns and I tend to agree with her. And if you're really into the novels, try this link to Goodreads where readers wrote in with their favorite quotes: .

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hostile Cab Drivers,Helpful Locals and Mark Twain

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We all have stories to tell of hostile cab drivers whether NYC, Hong Kong or ISTANBUL.  My girlfriend and I decided to head directly to the Grand Bazaar and we asked the concierge how much a cab would cost from the hotel to the Bazaar.  He said pay no more than 20 Turkish lira (1.44 lira to the dollar).  We verify with our driver that it will be MAXIMUM 20 lira.  16 lira it cost.  After having fun getting lost in the maze of the Bazaar, we head outside to get a cab.  The first cab driver:  we got in the cab, asked to verify the price, 20 EURO!  When we said no, he backed up at lightening speed so as not to lose his place in line, and shooed us out.  Next cab driver:no.  Next: no.  Next: no.  Finally I see a policeman and ask for his help.  Would he really help?  He also verified that we should pay no more than 20 lira.  He asked 3 other cabs and they all said no.  He finally shouted to a cab driver driving in the opposite direction to take us.  He did at 16 lira.  We quickly learned to only get cabs at hotels or restaurants.  We had a great seafood meal at Sur Balik on the Bosporus. Yes, there are Starbucks but no commemorative Istanbul coffee mugs.  Drat!  Read more...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book Review: Phantom by Jo Nesbo

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There was a time when Jo Nesbo was called “the next Stieg Larsson”. Not any more. The Norwegian crime writer has sold over 14 million books worldwide as well as having been translated into 40 languages.  Since I began reading Nesbo last year,  I've found that his publisher has been playing fast and loose with publishing dates. In Nesbo’s novels featuring the detective Harry Hole, there are 9. But his publisher will publish a new Harry Hole novel in the UK and US before publishing an old one. It makes it very hard to try and keep up with where Harry was the last time you saw him. Now let’s deal with the name, Harry Hole. There are some people in the US who would put this bull’s eye of a name on their kid. I had to find out if this was the name used in the Norwegian language novels. I wrote a review on Amazon UK and asked if someone would respond to my question, “Is his name really Harry Hole or is it Lars something?” I got an answer from a UK reader. He led me to the BBC Worldwide Book Club which had an interview with Nesbo. He was asked to pronounce Harry Hole in Norwegian. Here it is phonetically: Hurree Who-la. Read more...