Open Post: Hosted By The Judges Of “The Voice Of Germany” Having A “Who?” Moment While Watching Rita Ora Audition


Question mark’s favorite singer Rita Ora went on The Voice of Germany to push her second album, which will be released the day after never exclusively in Neverland, and the producers thought it would be a real cute gimmick for her to do a blind audition. The audition was so blind that even when the judges took off their blindfolds (read: turned their chairs around), they still didn’t know who the hell they were looking at. ONTD posted this clip and said, “Even after turning around, the judges didn’t seem to recognize her.” I thought they were exaggerating, but then I watched the clip and a couple of judges do give the same confused face my dad would give me if I ran up to him today and said, “Dad! It’s me, your son Michael!”

While wearing a red fringe curtain and hot ho stroll boots, Rita sang “Your Song,” and it didn’t take long for all of the judges (Samu Haber, Yvonne Catterfeld, Michi Beck & Smudo and Mark Forster) to turn around. The producers were probably expecting the judges to turn around and violently shake before passing out from inhaling the hot and powerful fumes shooting off of a scorching A-list STAH! But when they turned around, they looked like Trump whenever he’s told that his daughter Tiffany is on the line. They gave off, “I don’t know her,” vibes.

Those judges should be ashamed of themselves. They are supposed to be music industry experts and so they should know a worldwide singing sensation like Rita Ora! At least one judge seemed to know who she is. And the audience gave Rita the respect she deserves by standing, and not only because of a bright blinking sign in front of them that read: Stand Up And Pretend Like You Know Who That Is.

In case you can’t watch that video, here’s the face that Nancy Kerrigan’s twin sister made when she watched Rita. It looks like the word “Who?” is forming on her tongue.


And here’s the confused faces the dude duo made:


One of the judges tried to play it off like he thought a Rita Ora impersonator was auditioning. Nice try, bitch, but how can Rita Ora impersonators exist when nobody knows who she is in the first place. But seriously, Rita should’ve auditioned for real so she can get a better record deal.

And here’s the most recognizable star in Germany at the Bambi Awards in Berlin last night:



*Ahem* SQUEEEEE: Beyoncé Will Voice Nala In Live-Action ‘The Lion King’

I don’t have a joke for this or anything. This isn’t funny. It’s perfect (purrrfect? ok, I’ll stop). Beyoncé has been officially cast in Jon Favreau’s upcoming live-action adaptation of The Lion King, playing Nala. She’ll be the lady-love of Donald Glover’s Simba. She’ll be a damn LIONESS.

It’s just SO PERFECT.

The rest of the cast is impressive too, of course. In addition to Bey and Glover, James Earl Jones will voice Mufasa (reprising his role from the original animated film), Chiwetel Ejiofor is Scar, Alfre Woodard is Simba’s mother Sarabi, John Oliver is Zazu, John Kani is Rafiki, Florence Kasumba is Shenzi, Eric André is Azizi, Keegan-Michael Key is Kamari, with Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen voicing Timon and Pumbaa. There was so much to love about this already. But now it’s like:


The film is slated for a 2019 release.


12 Things Armie Hammer’s Voice Sounds Like, According to These Thirsty People on Twitter

This week, Macmillan posted an excerpt from the forthcoming audiobook for Call Me By Your Name, which comes out Oct. 3 and is voiced by Armie Hammer. Armie, if you’re not aware, also stars in the film adaptation of the book; the movie, which co-stars young actor Timothée Chalamet, has already been igniting film festivals and causing major Oscar buzz. But you don’t need to wait for the film to have some pretty intense *feelings* about the story. In fact, this audiobook excerpt, featuring Armie’s delicious and velvety voice, is more than enough to cause some internal stirrings. We’ll leave it to the actual excerpt and these thirsty internet reactions to illustrate what we mean.

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There’s a Very Good Reason Why We’ll Never Hear the Night King’s Voice on Game of Thrones

Spoilers for Game of Thrones below!

As much as we hate to admit it, the Night King is easily the undisputed MVP of Game of Thrones season seven. With 12,000 years of experience on his side and the undying love of his undead followers, the OG ice zombie (who might actually be the show’s true hero, if you can believe it) is blazing quite the trail on his way to take over Westeros. Despite all that, don’t expect the Night King to deliver an epic victory speech anytime soon.

During an interview with Deadline in 2016, the fantasy drama’s showrunners, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, revealed the reason why they’ve kept the Night King from getting too chatty. «We don’t think of the Night King as a villain as much as Death. He is not someone who’s like Joffrey or Ramsay. He’s not really human anymore,» they said. «Evil comes when you have a choice between that and good, and you choose the wrong way. The Night King doesn’t have a choice; he was created in that way, and that’s what he is. In some ways, he’s just Death, coming for everyone in the story, and for all of us.»

As we saw at the end of the season seven finale, yet another huge clue about the true identity of the Night King has emerged. Is he actually Bran, somehow? Or maybe another Stark ancestor? No matter who he really was before the Children of the Forest turned him into the first White Walker, we won’t find out verbally. «In some ways, it’s appropriate he doesn’t speak,» the showrunners explained. «What’s Death going to say? Anything would diminish him. He’s just a force of destruction. I don’t think we’ve ever been tempted to write dialogue for the Night King. Anything he said would be anticlimactic.»

With all the screeching zombie Viserion has been doing lately, we wouldn’t be able to hear him anyway.

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The Voice of Mulan Is Actually 1 of Your Favorite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Nearly 20 years after its initial release, Mulan is getting rebooted with a live-action film, and our childhood (and adult) selves are practically filled with glee. While the details are still being pieced together, we are excited to see one of our favorite princesses come to life on the big screen. As Disney searches for the perfect heroine to fill out that armor, we can’t help but reminisce about who played the original Mulan.

Broadway star Lea Salonga, who was also the singing voice of Jasmine in Aladdin, sang the melodies in the animated film. But Ming-Na Wen was the speaking voice behind the character. Not only did she reprise her role as Mulan in the sequel and a few Disney spinoffs, but she’s also still kicking butt today. After voicing the Chinese warrior, the Coloane, Macau-born actress went on to join Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She currently stars as Melinda Qiaolian May, who is second in command on Agent Coulson’s team. Looks like some things never change.

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Review: ‘The Dark Tower’ Hasn’t Forgotten The Face Of Its Father, But It Has Forgotten His Voice

Confession time. I’m basically the ideal audience for Nikolaj Arcel’s The Dark Tower. I’d been waiting a long time for any adaptation (or interpretation, or continuation) of Stephen King’s magnum opus to surface, and I have been holding out hope for this one since the first inspired casting announcements came out. I have all the basic knowledge in place to know why I should care about this story. I also have a high tolerance for less than stellar entertainment, as long as there is some hook (seriously, the crap I’ve sat through…), so the possibility that this particular film might not live up to expectations didn’t deter me much. Would there be fancy gunfights? Then that’s enough to put my butt in a seat.

It’s no secret that it’s been a long journey from books to screen, and its very existence may not be a case of anyone cracking the code for how to wrangle so much material into a film, so much as a general sense of «fuck it, let’s just do this thing.»

The film opening this weekend is the result of all that effort. It’s the thing that they did. And it’s fine! It’s not terrible! It’s fast and lean and doesn’t lag for a moment. Considering the source material leans heavily on pop culture pastiche and the film is basically a Stephen King pastiche, I have an urge to compare the forward momentum of the film to that of Blaine the Mono, the train that first appeared in the third Dark Tower book, The Waste Lands. No, he doesn’t make an appearance in the film (or at least not one that I noticed). But like so many parts of the books, he’s an image that sticks. He’s a train rolling toward oblivion, operating with a strange sort of logic all his own. He’s also suicidal.

I know, the image is a stretch. But the thing is, attempting to tackle this King story, out of all his many many stories, is self defeating. The fact that Arcel managed to keep this bad boy on the right track at all is impressive.

To spare you more poorly conceived comparisons, I’m going to break this review down into two parts. First, let’s pretend you have never read a Stephen King book in your life. Then, afterward, I’ll try and drag in some insights for all you readers out there. Cool?

The Dark Tower is the story of a boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), who has been having some crazy-ass fucked up dreams. Dreams of a Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), and creepy people with faces that seem to slide off. Dreams of a mysterious abandoned house, and a Gunslinger (Idris Elba). Dreams of a tall Tower, and a bunch of children being strapped to a device that somehow channels their energy into a beam aimed to bring the tower down. If that happens, he sees darkness and fire. The dreams seem to coincide with mysterious earthquakes that are shaking New York City. His mother, step-father, and therapist all think that he just hasn’t gotten over the death of his father, a firefighter (probably all that darkness and fire stuff). So they agree to pack him off for a weekend to an asylum recommended by the school. Because, you know, asylums can fix people over the course of a weekend. NBD.

Too bad the people who show up to collect him have that weird face thing going on. So Jake runs away and manages to find the house from his dreams, stops the house from trying to eat him (natch), and then jumps through a portal into a barren wasteland («Mid-World) to look for the one man he’s seen stand up to the Man In Black: the Gunslinger from his dreams. A man named Roland.

If you hadn’t figured it out yet, Jake isn’t just your average boy from Brooklyn. He is A Very Special Boy. He’s probably The Specialest Boy In The World(s). He’s Harry Potter. Only instead of magic he’s got the Shine, as they say (in The Shining, for example). It’s basically telepathy, or psychic powers, or I dunno, mental woo woo shit. Those kids the Man in Black has been using to try to tear down the Tower aren’t doing the job fast enough because their shine isn’t strong enough. But Jake is the pure, uncut shit. He is just what the Man in Black needs to get the job done.

So Jake is searching for the Gunslinger, who is searching for the Man In Black (who killed Roland’s father, poor dear Dennis Haysbert), who is searching for Jake. Got it?

Jake finds his target first, and after a little light «WHO SENT YOU?!» (complete with some mild dangling off a cliff), Roland lets him tag along — because he realizes that Jake has seen the base where the Man in Black (who is named Walter, by the way) is stationed. And here we get some handy fireside exposition as Roland explains why the Tower matters in the first place. It connects all the worlds (his, Jake’s, and more), and when it takes damage it reverberates across the realities. Hence those earthquakes. Should it fall, it will unleash all the horrible bad icky demon things that are waiting just outside its beams, trying to get in. Which apparently is Walter’s evil end game. Not that Roland cares. He’s not trying to save the Tower, he just wants to kill the Man in Black.

And here is where their journey begins together, through the woods to a weird agrarian steampunk village and straight on to New York again (which is on «Keystone Earth» apparently) as they try and make their way to Walter’s base and his kiddie-powered laser.

The movie has to cover a lot of ground — introducing characters, motivations, multiple realities, and a whole world-shaking mythology. This is an entirely new fantasy journey told in 95 minutes. And to keep the steady pace, it relies heavily on expository dialogue. Like, a lot of it. But it’s mostly coming from Elba and McConaughey, who sell the shit out of it. The Gunslinger is dusty and weary, with sharp eyes and a gravelly voice. He’s a hero that has already fallen, and you can almost feel all the stories in his past just radiating off him like energy. It’s a given that Elba elevates anything he’s in, but that doesn’t mitigate the joy of seeing him take center stage in a Hollywood epic like this. He’s not just stealing a few scenes while being sidelined as an Asgardian gatekeeper or a pilot or yelling at people in giant robots. He’s working a leather duster and some fancy six-shooters like a BOSS. He’s flat-out captivating. And McConaughey has the toughest job of the lot, selling a lot of chunky verbiage while playing a gleefully malevolent wizard. Everything about him is a bit too much (oh god, the dyed black hair and exposed chest!), but he plays Walter as a breezy, unpredictable force that isn’t actually forced. He somehow makes it all look natural and fun, every time he casually tells someone to stop breathing or kill or hate (and they do it). It’s impressive, frankly, because it would be so easy to just Pacino the crap out of that role.

But it’s Jake’s movie more than it is theirs, and that’s the problem. Tom Taylor is great. And by that I mean he manages stand next to those titans on screen and not annoy you like a lot of child stars do. He is brave and scared and bewildered in turn, and I think he’s perfectly cast. It’s just that no matter how good he is, it’s Elba’s Gunslinger who feels like the gravitational center the whole story wants to revolve around. The movie comes alive when the two meet, and it isn’t until that moment that you realize just how by-the-numbers it felt until that point. And in the end, when you walk out of the theater, you’ll realize that the whole movie was an exercise in by-the-numbers storytelling — albeit one that takes a lot of detours to cram in set pieces.

(Like, did they REALLY need to go back to NYC together? Fuck no. But I’m not gonna argue with Idris as Roland as a fish out of water, scaring some nice doctors with his crazy talk and drinking Coca-Cola for the first time. It was enough fun that you almost don’t mind that it’s clearly a detour they intentionally wrote in JUST for those interactions.)

The heavy exposition and the economy of the script rely on the fact that we are all versed in fantasies and hero’s journeys at this point — but having a lot of story and making us care about that story are two different things. The cluttered simplicity doesn’t stop when Elba shows up. There’s just something so much better there to distract you.

If nothing else, there is novelty in seeing a movie attempt that amount of world-building in such a short amount of time, compared to the other bloated 2+ hour epics that are all the rage these days. Credit where it’s due, the fact that it accomplishes so much while still making sense and fitting in some surprises makes it all the more impressive — and frustrating. Just because it’s a pastiche doesn’t mean it needs to rely on the same old tired story beats to move along. King’s story was a pastiche of a lot of elements (Clint Eastwood meets The Lord of the Rings), but it used those elements in new and original ways. Perhaps that’s the thing the filmmakers could have focused on.

Ultimately, I think the movie may be more enjoyable to non-King readers, who will have an easier time taking it for what it is: a relatively competent little fantasy film, carried by a remarkable cast, that doesn’t take up a whole lot of your time. As always, it’s worth it for Idris Elba. For the more serious King fans, there are a lot of enjoyable little moments that only they will pick up on — but they may be more distracted by their own expectations based on the source material.

And that’s where I’ll leave things, as far as the movie itself is concerned. For those of you who want a few more thoughts on how it ties to the books, along with some some heavy plot spoilers regarding that ending, read on.

Still with me? Ok. First, I’m sure you’re aware that there are a lot of fun little King Easter eggs in the film (some, like the ruins of the Pennywise theme park, were pointed out in the trailers). Numbers play a big part in the books, so I was always on the lookout for those, but the one that made me smile was a «1408» sighting (which is the title of one of his short stories, about a creepy hotel room). Book fans may miss Susannah and Eddie, but I missed Oy the billy-bumbler. Or I did, until I saw a very pointed commercial playing on a TV in a hospital room featuring talking raccoons. There are plenty of those sorts of nods and nuggets sprinkled throughout the movie, things that don’t make a difference one way or the other in terms of the plot, but still let you know that someone behind the screen cared enough to include them.

If you’ve read the books, you know that they were never really about Jake at all. They were always about Roland, and that DNA was hard to shake in this reimagining. I get why they chose Jake: common wisdom asserts that we need a character whom the audience can relate to as our window into any strange new fantasy worlds. A nice kid from Brooklyn, or a weird vaguely Arthurian/Spaghetti Western knight from another reality? Safe money is always on Brooklyn. But to sell it, Jake is transformed from an important kid into that Specialest Boy In The World — which I called Harry Potter before, but you knew what I really was talking about. He’s Danny Torrance from The Shining. He’s Jack Sawyer from The Talisman. He is every gifted or important child in any Stephen King story ever. It’s a nice bit of homage in and of itself, really. It’s classic King. But those children were the stars of their own tales, and so this movie had to contort a plot that is literally about how «The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed,» into a story that is all about Jake. And to be fair, they found all the necessary elements in King’s writings, waiting to be remixed. Jake was always a bit psychic. The Breakers, those special kids being used to break the beams and tear down the Tower, are a part of the tale. But Jake’s real importance always stemmed from his ties to Roland and his contribution to their ka-tet. Roland is the one who can get to and save the Tower. He may need help along the way. He may need Jake. But the movie replaced all that with Jake being used to break the Tower, and Roland having to save him (and by extension, the Tower).

So here is the big climactic spoiler. Ready? In the end, Roland succeeds in killing Walter and rescuing Jake. Then they go back to NYC, eat a hot dog, and hop into another portal… to somewhere. The fact that Walter dies fits with the ending of The Gunslinger, the first book in the Dark Tower series, before King reissued a corrected version that makes Walter’s death more ambiguous (so that he and Marten Broadcloak could be the same character later on — the man who is also Randall Flagg). The big question I have is whether this film is a one and done thing, or if it will continue into a larger series that will tackle more of the books. If there are more movies, will we find out that Walter didn’t die of his (rather mortal) wounds? Will Marten appear, and be a separate character? The door is open to more films, because the Crimson King, who is truly the adversary in The Dark Tower books and the one orchestrating the Tower’s collapse, is mentioned in passing on graffiti in the film. It isn’t revealed that Walter is working for him, or what his role is — but the fact that his name is there could be more than just another Easter egg if they want it to be.

The issue is how to interpret the idea that the film represents the next and final cycle of Roland’s journey to the Tower. Much has been made of the fact that Roland has the Horn of Eld in his possession this time around, which he didn’t have in the books. Which makes the film a sequel, really — and goes a long way toward waving away any of the changes made between the books and film. So Roland saves Jake rather than letting him die (as he does in The Gunslinger), and Walter perhaps doesn’t have to be Marten. Who knows! It’s hard to tell, because this movie just isn’t really the tale from the books. It pulls elements and remixes them, but the further it goes off-book the harder it is to anticipate the implications.

One thing I will give the film is that, while it may not feel like the Dark Tower that I have in my mind, it does feel like a Stephen King story to an extent. Not just because of Jake’s Special Specialness, but because of the little moments. The house that tries to eat him. The creature from another dimension hiding in the woods, taking the forms of Jake’s and then Roland’s fathers. The Can-toi henchmen. The ballsy outlandishness of the entire plot, where psychics can break a tower that is the lynchpin binding whole worlds. But the Dark Tower series also had a certain amount of poetry to them, and a way of gripping your mind. I can’t keep all the plot threads straight, but there are scenes I remember from the books so vividly I could have lived them. The movie never comes close to that. It has the trappings of King, but not the spirit.


The Longtime Voice Of Kermit The Frog Got The Can

'Muppets Most Wanted' Screening

It was reported last week that Steve Whitmire, the voice of Kermit the Frog, was retiring after 27 years. Well, apparently The Muppets set took a turn for the Jane Pauley/Deborah Norville, because Steve didn’t retire. He was fired! Steve was let go for mouthing off, and it wasn’t even to Miss Piggy! But don’t feel too bad for Steve. I’m sure he’ll a bright future ahead as a clairvoyant invited to dinner parties on any number of the Real Housewives franchises.

Steve says Disney gave him his pink slip for running around claiming Jim Henson (who died in 1990) wouldn’t have agreed with the direction Kermit was going in. Kermit’s voice will be replaced this week by Matt Vogelwho has been brought into the Muppet mix.

One of the big issues Steve had was how the now-cancelled ABC series The Muppets had an episode where Kermit and Miss Piggy (the rich man’s Ross and Rachel) break up. On the show, Kermit lied to his nephew Robin as to why. Kevin explained to the Hollywood Reporter:

“I don’t think Kermit would lie to him. I think that as Robin came to Kermit, he would say ‘things happen, people go their separate ways, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about you.’ Kermit is too compassionate to lie to him to spare his feelings.”

I was really expecting Kevin to start talking about how Disney execs were trying to get on board the Breaking Bad gravy train by making Kermit and Miss Piggy deal meth to Zoot and Animal (they are rockstars, after all!). Maybe even run a brothel. But a white lie?! C’mon, Kev, live a little! Kermit probably has PTSD from sleeping with a hot-head pig all these years, so it’s only natural he’d want to fib in order to keep the waters calm.

Disney’s version of the story is basically that Steve has been a pain in their felt ass since they acquired the Muppets franchise in 2004, saying he was hostile and unprofessional. While we await word on whether or not Miss P notices anything slightly off in the bedroom this evening, I’m sure that slut pig (literally!) Denise (whom was introduced on The Muppets last year) is having the last laugh! “First I wrecked your home, and then I offed your Kermie! MWAHAHA!



John Oliver Cast As Bird. Just His Voice, Not His Body. #SAD

I think we can all agree that John Oliver deserves all the good things in life. Well, everyone except those anti-vaxxers in my Facebook feed who felt so betrayed by Oliver after his recent Last Week Tonight segment on vaccination (I see you now, randos I went to high school with, and I will definitely not be letting my future theoretical imaginary maybe-progeny near yours).

Anyway, one of the many good things that Oliver deserves is a piece of that sweet, sweet Disney money-pie (#TeamPie), which apparently he’s going to get now that he’s joined the cast of Jon Favreau’s upcoming live action remake of The Lion King. He’ll be playing Zazu, the sassy hornbill majordomo who served both Mufasa (reprised by James Earl Jones because you don’t fuck with Vader) and Simba (played by Donald Glover, because having Vader in the movie isn’t enough Disney synergy so why not add baby Lando?). In the circle of life, lions totally need help from birds. And apparently this casting is in spite of Oliver’s previously expressed opinion that birds are just a shitty sequel to the dinosaurs.

I joke, but it’s really from a place of pain and disappointment. When I hear all these incredible stars are joining a so-called «live action» remake, I want them IN COSTUME, AS A BIRD/LION/WARTHOG/WHATEVER. You know, performing the roles as living beings, like they did on Broadway (preferably with stilts). When it’s a voice cast, no matter how impressive (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan are playing Timon and Pumbaa, which is also perfect), it makes me think it’s animated. Like, you know, the original Lion King? I get that Favreau pulled all this off with his version of The Jungle Book, but that film also gave rise to this:

jb idris.jpg

Is that Idris Elba cuddling a giant tiger, like he does in my dreams? No, that’s Idris Elba sitting next to Shere Khan, the character he voiced in The Jungle Book, as part of the marketing for the film which tried to leverage his good looks without putting them in the damn movie. You know when chicks post «thirsty» pics on Instagram? I don’t know what that means, but I think it might be similar to this.

Now, let’s take a moment and imagine a version of The Jungle Book where Idris Elba, in elaborate makeup, actually PLAYED the tiger. Or John Oliver is made up to play a bird, harassing Donald Glover in a lion’s mane. I want to live in a world that gives us those kinds of movies, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, more John Oliver is never a bad thing. The Lion King is currently set for a July 19, 2019 release.


A New Voice Reads Burma

In Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar (formerly Burma), there is a lively booksellers district on Pansodan Street. Like the rest of the country, the street is a clash between the old Burma and the new. The majestic pastel façades of colonial buildings—once gleaming new offices and stores, now more than 100 years old—are crumbling. Shopkeepers young and old (who, locked away from the world for decades by a brutal military regime, gained access to the Internet only a few years ago) buy cheap SIM cards and smartphones to communicate with friends and follow political news on Facebook. Inside the tiny shops and their crowded shelves, it’s impossible to avoid stumbling on relics of colonialism: teak-foresting manuals from the 1920s, Burmese-English translations of Wuthering Heights, trashy Burmese-language romance novels. And if you keep browsing, some modern English-language classics might turn up—stories by some of the greatest writers of the last two centuries—set right in Myanmar, a country still mysterious to much of the Western world.

For the most part, the English literary history of Myanmar has revolved around the British colonial experience. There’s George Orwell’s 1934 novel Burmese Days, based on his experiences working as a police captain in Burma (which scholars suggest is where he got his first taste of dystopia). More recently, Amitav Ghosh’s 2000 epic The Glass Palace traces the downfall and desolate exile of Burma’s last king. Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which won the 2014 Man Booker Prize, depicts the unspeakable horrors experienced by Allied prisoners in Burma during World War II. And of course, there’s Rudyard Kipling’s 1892 poem “Mandalay,” cemented in popular culture by Frank Sinatra’s “On the Road to Mandalay.” I found myself humming the campy tune as I sat in the teak-adorned Kipling’s Lounge at the Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel.

These acclaimed works—though separated by decades—share one common thread: All of them are white male-centric narratives. But this summer, a female writer will cast her gaze on her mother’s homeland with the publication of a stunning new novel. Miss Burma, by Charmaine Craig—the daughter of famous Burmese-born beauty queen and Karen freedom fighter Louisa Benson Craig—will give English-language readers an unprecedented glimpse into Myanmar’s culture and history—not only through the eyes of a woman, but also through those of the persecuted Karen people, who suffered for centuries in their country’s bloody ethnic conflicts. 

A view of Sule Pagoda in Yangon.
Image credit: Martin Puddy/Getty Images

The political history of Myanmar in the 20th century is complicated. If you’re familiar with the country, you probably know that Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, recently won control of the government after a half century of rule by a brutal military junta. Even the former name of the country, “Burma,” was a point of violent contention—it refers to the ethnic Burmese people, just one of the hundreds of ethnic groups who have long called the country home, including (among many others) the Karen, Mon and Kachin people. 

Miss Burma is the story of Craig’s mother, born to a Jewish man and a Karen woman in the opening days of World War II. Through the lens of historical fiction, we watch the lives of these characters unfold—the British leave after the war, infighting for freedom gives way to a coup and 60 years of authoritarian rule sets in. The book tells a story little known to English audiences, taking readers to corners of the country still largely inaccessible to foreigners. A significant portion of the novel takes place in the wild forests of central and northern Burma, which are areas of conflict even today. Outsiders still need special permission from the government to enter huge swaths of the country, and are discouraged from leaving the modern cities. 

But the novel also provides readers and travelers eager to connect with the history of their surroundings ample landmarks to visit and begin exploring the country’s history. The story opens at Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), where the story’s central couple struggles to understand each other’s language, culture and faith. The synagogue is still open to visitors and worshippers, despite Myanmar’s dwindling Jewish population. Today, Muslim caretakers maintain the grounds and protect the Torah, unconcerned with the religious and territorial conflict between the two peoples a few thousand miles away.

You can still stroll across the lush green grass of Fytche Square, renamed Maha Bandula Park in 1935. In the novel, Craig’s grandfather crosses the park every day to visit government buildings to acquire permits for his various businesses. The park is adjacent to the sparkling gold Sule Pagoda, which is now encased in a traffic circle that requires real courage to cross on foot. The regime did little to improve infrastructure, and even the once-sparkling Jewish-owned stores of Craig’s grandfather’s youth are still standing, their imported Mancunian tile floors now coated in dust. 

But the world is still catching up with the long-sequestered nation. Myanmar is a place of extremes: The great wealth in the ruling military class is contrasted with the dire poverty of the people who have been left behind. There are banks in the major cities with ATMs and plenty of kyats to dispense, though progress is slow—only a small handful of hotels accept credit cards. In more existential ways, progress is even slower. As the young democracy struggles to form a national identity, it needs heroes like Louisa Benson Craig—and stories like Miss Burma.

Main image: ACP/Trunk Archive

The post A New Voice Reads Burma appeared first on DuJour.


Open Post: Hosted By The Pure And Angelic Nightingale Voice Of Katie Price 


It’s been much too long since the ears of the world have been gently caressed by the velvety wave of powerful musical notes leaping out of the mouth of the most beautiful and talented swan in Britain, Katie Price! Katie’s highly impressive singing career started out in 2005 when she auditioned for Eurovision and she hasn’t released any music for a while. But along with various fillers, musical talent has been brewing inside Katie and she could no longer resist the urge to let it all out.

Katie has a new song out called I Got U. You can’t get it on iTunes in the U.S. Apple did have it on iTunes worldwide but their servers were brought down by billions of people trying to download the song of the millennium, so they yanked it off. Katie performed the song on Big Brother’s Bit on the Side last night (click here to watch it, motherfuckers won’t let me embed), and also on the talk show Loose Women (she’s a guest panelist on that) earlier this week. The other panelists were left stunned and were obviously not ready for those vocals, which were a mixture of recorded auto-tuned track and hound dog getting castrated without sedation. Katie not only can do a flawless impersonation of a Blow-Up Doll (see: picture above), but she can stun hos with her glorious voice. I can’t hate on Katie’s dancers for not really staying together. It’s physically impossible to concentrate on dance moves while in the presence of such natural, overwhelming talent!

Of course, haters slammed the nightingale of England for both performances, and said that she made their ears bleed. Katie said that she had “technical problems” during her Loose Women performance and doesn’t care about the haters. Katie shouldn’t care, because they have no idea what they’re talking about. Of course their ears bled. Their ears bled from the sheer power of that voice hitting them. They weren’t prepared, just like they weren’t prepared over a decade ago when Katie and her then husband Peter Andre delivered a whole new world of talent. Haters will still say this was auto-tuned.

Welcome back to the world of music, Katie! Ears have missed you (but Adele, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand haven’t, because they have to file for unemployment now).

And here’s Katie “Putting Adele Out Of A Job” Price at Royal Ascot today:



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