Could someone point me to a tutorial for beginners on how to save/get variables stored on an external file/database into flash?

As I understand it I need to learn the basics of either MySQL or XML as the database language AND a side server script like PHP or ASP to speak with the database from Flash.

I can't belive Flash hasn't somehow figure this thing out and made it much much easier to save data.

Anyways, anyone have an URL for anything that discuss this?