Sunday, December 4, 2011
Cecil was a fantastic narrator, probably my favorite ever. A lot of Wodehouse's humour, particular in the Jeeves books, comes from his unnecessarily complicated sentences. It takes a lot of skill to articulate these sentences so that the humour comes out and Cecil was brilliant at it. He was also able to do voices for idiotic characters without making any of them annoying, which is really rare for a narrator.
I first listened to a Jeeves book narrated by Jonathan Cecil in Grade Six, and I'm sure it was partly due to his brilliant narration that I became a Wodehouse fan. Cecil's voice is synonymous with the Jeeves and Bertie books for me. When I read them I will always hear his voice.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
I do not like this story tape, including for the the following reasons:
- The main love interest is Lucy's boss. He refers to Lucy as "Gorgeous" and generally sexually harasses her in the workplace. Lucy considers this a good thing, because he is handsome, and because, let's be honest, all we girls secretly want to be the subject of sexual innuendo while we're typin' and filin', it's a complement!
- The concept of chocolate loving as an addiction is eye rollingly stretched. The man in the chocolate shop is Lucy's "supplier". Her chocolate cake is her "fix" etc etc.
- The narrator does bad voices. In particular, Lucy's love interest sounds like a total buffoon. His stupid voice makes it seem even less credible that any woman would want a bar of him.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
The blurb for the book is quite misleading. It refers to "hilarious stories" and I would not have described any of the stories as even amusing.
And some of them are quite sick. The second story in particular is unsettling. I was unsettled from the get go because the various narrator, Simon Pebble had a creepy tone (sounded like he might be about to say, "He looked down at his hands and saw the blood. Blood. Blood. So much blood. He screamed but there was no sound.") At first I thought it was an appalling choice of reader for a light-hearted McCall Smith romp. Then I realised what was going on in the story and I gave the narrator's inflections a big tick of approval.
Most of the the stories are engaging enough, but some don't really go anywhere. What carries the story tape is the various narrators who a really good job of making something out of not much really.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
When I'm listening to a story tape that I'm enjoying I find it very hard to stop. I end up listening to them at inappropriate times. While in the shower (can't really hear), while doing my tax return (can't really concentrate), while getting ready for work (can't really justify the 35 minutes it takes me to eat a bowl of cereal while listening to an audiobook).
But now, having finished The Women in Black two days ago I'm experiencing story tape apathy. Heavenly Date by Alexander McCall Smith is ready when when I am and I'm sure it will be delightful but I just can't quite come at it. I just don't really want to listen to it, even though I know I'll probably love it when I do.
And it's at these weak, uncommitted moments that I turn to Toddlers and Tiaras.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
- I'd seen this audio book in the library a few times but passed over it. Without fully forming the thought, I dismissed it as chic-lit. I should know better than this (as I've said many, many times, books about women are not necessarily bad) and The Women in Black is very funny and warm and well observed. St John is economical, yet interesting with words.
- The only problem with listening to such a cracker jack tape is that it will be difficult to find something to follow it. I just want The Women in Black to go on and on.
- Here is a sample.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
According to my friend's mum, I may as well park in a disabled space without a sticker. But that isn't right (I felt that quite strongly at the time but couldn't articulate why). The car parks close to Coles have no capacity to increase, but the number of audio books can.When I borrow an audio book from the library I am increasing the borrowing rate, which makes it more likely that the library will buy more titles, which increases the resource rather than diminishing it. I'm a champion!
The sad thing is that my friend missed out because of her mum's prejudice against audio books. Her attitude is not uncommon. A lot of people think it's lazy to listen to audio books if you can read the book. But the truth is, not everyone enjoys reading. That doesn't necessarily mean they don't like words or stories.
Anyway, I can't read and cook at the same time. I need audio books.
*Update* Of course that should say "the audio books are for blind people". Giving an audio book to a person who is deaf or hearing impaired is just silly and/or mean.
Monday, November 7, 2011
I was in Grade 4 and I don't know why I borrowed it from the library because by that stage I was in my "I only like books about wars and/or death" stage.
A couple of years ago I listened to a Mallory Towers story tape. I remember reading the series when I was a kid and thinking it was a bloody weird, but enticing world of midnight sausages and hockey. When I listened to the story tape as an adult I realised it's not just their timing of snacks that is strange - the plots are like a here's how of bullying and are very different to books written now.
In the world of contemporary Children's Literature: Kid is different. Kid realises being different is okay through appropriate role models and character building experiences.
In the world of Mallory Towers: Girl is different. Girl realises she should stop being different after being shouted at and excluded from the hockey tournament. OR Girl does not stop being different and is punished.
Anyway, back when I was in the Fourth at Newstead Primary School, my family listened to the Famous Five story tape in the car on the way to Wangaratta. It made the trip go a lot faster. Before I knew it, we were in Violet Town and I was a story tape lover.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
1. I keep watching crap on YouTube.
2. During my traditional Sunday night baking burden (I make muffins) I used to listen to a story tape but I have recently started watching Escape to the Country instead. I just can't get enough of wet English people being shown houses with everything they asked for, and yet still vacillating. It's so relaxing.
But I think I will give it up. I don't watch much commercial TV and tonight I've seen quite a few things that disturbed me.
1. An advertisement for Today Tonight promoted an hysterical piece on people smugglers and the evil people they smuggle, AND an equally hard hitting piece on the REVOLUTIONARY new swimwear that is guaranteed to suit every shape and size.
2. The host of Escape to the Country was wearing a pink polo shirt with the collar popped.
Friday, October 14, 2011
This is a Chivers audio book. One thing I like about Chivers audio books is that there's no extra crap. It's just the book read out loud. Whereas Bolinda audio books always have a snippet that plays at the start and end of each CD. It sounds like a nice idea, but after a couple of CDs it drives me mad. Also, sometimes the music is a bit weird and creepy.
So I say, stop trying to add value and atmosphere, just read the book. Anyway, this one is pretty good. At the start I thought the description might be a bit over blown but the family scenes and dialogue are great.
Friday, October 7, 2011
My eye was drawn to this after listening to The Plantation, which touched on some similar experiences in Malaysia.
I've listened to CD one of four. The first part of the book describes her terrific childhood and much fun it was. But when I left off the Japanese had just arrived - major bummer, and just when she'd got that lovely taffeta party frock. I listened to the first CD about five days ago and I haven't gone on to the next disk. I guess I'm a little aprehensive about how horrible it's going to be.
So what have I been listening to instead? Toddlers and Tiaras. I hate myself.
Monday, September 26, 2011
It's about about a plucky young Australian woman tracing her family roots back to a plantation in Malaysia.
I've listened to a few Di Morrissey books now and they've all been read by Kate Hood, who generally gets right into the spirit of things.
Her pronounciation is bothering me though because there are quite a few Malay phrases scattered throughout the book and I reckon she's saying them all wrong. I used to study Indonesian awhile back and there are a few simple rules that wouldn't be that hard to put into action. Then again, maybe I'm just ignorant and don't realise the differences between Indonesian and the form of Malay in the book. Or maybe she's doing it deliberately to reflect how the plantation owners would have spoken.
So I can't be sure, and I suspect I just need to loosen up.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
I've only just discovered the poofcasts and it turns out they have a back catalogue of 40 episodes! Luckily many of them aren't available, because otherwise I might overdose.
Because I'm all about balance, I'm also listening to Love over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Firstly I assumed it would be read by Jonathan Cecil, who I believe is the ultimate Jeeves narrator. Instead it is read by Nigel Lambert. I was concerned, but without cause, Lambert does a great job.
Secondly, I assumed Bertie Wooster would be present. He is not. Jeeves is instead in the service of Bill (Lord) Rowcester. I miss Bertie. Bill is also dim and bumbling, but he doesn't have Bertie's turn of phrase.
Thirdly, the book is explicitly set in the 1950s. There's all kinds of references to the modern world, like television and the welfare state. Not sure I'm a fan of this because Wodehouse is all about escapism for me.
And finally, no-one is trying to get out of an engagement. There is still the classic breaking of the engagement and subsequent reunion plot, but I like this to be paralleled with a fellow trying to get out of an engagement too.
So not 100% what I was expecting but still absolutely fine to cook dinner to.
Monday, August 22, 2011
The first was Carry on Jeeves by PG Wodehouse read by Jonathan Cecil. I know I've said before that I don't need to own audiobooks, but there are exceptions. Carry on Jeeves is a classic. I now know I can now listen to it any time without being dependent on the fickleness of library collections. This will help me sleep at night.
The second present was The Penny Pollard Collection by Robin Klein read by Rebecca Macauley. I loved these books when I was in Grade 4. I actually thought I was Penny Pollard. (It turns out that I'm not though because I'm scared of horses.)
The third present was an Indonesian novel Obsesi. I used to learn Indonesian at Uni and to keep my eye in I occasionally read pot-boilers in Indonesian. This makes it sound like I'm more proficient than I am. I don't understand a lot of the words, but it doesn't really matter, I still get the idea.
So, this was an excellent combination of presents. But did my sister have to scour the streets of Melbourne wandering from shop to shop looking for the perfect present? No she did not. She just went to this shop. They specialise in audiobooks and foreign books. All future present dilemmas solved - something for everyone! Brilliant.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
It is a ripper. It's a non-fiction book all about the discovery of the first antibiotic, sulfa. One of my favorite ever subjects at university was The Ecological History of Humans and was all about how diseases have shaped human history. And boy have they! The outcome of wars, colonisation, trade - all of these major forces have been at the mercy of diseases and our ability to deal with them.
So, as an old history and philosophy of science nerd I am flipping loving this story tape. My only criticism is that I find the narrator a little dramatic. He has a habit of extending and then falling away on the last word of sentences, which sounds like he's narrating a movie trailer. You can listen to a sample.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
I first listened to The Outsiders when I was in Grade 5. My sister and I lay on our bunk beds and listened to the whole thing in an afternoon, absolutely mesmerised. We then made all our friends listen to it and played 'The Outsiders' at recess, which mainly involved pretending to jump people and saying "Need a haircut greaser" a lot.
I'm now listening to the exact same recording, which is lucky because I couldn't stand hearing another narrator read it. For me, Jim Fyfe's voice is integral to the book. I once read The Outsiders and it was impossible to stop hearing his voice.
Listening to the audio book after all this time, I really want to join in on phrases like "Paul Newman and a ride home" in a terrible American accent. But I don't, because I'm sure would be very annoying.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
But not everyone has the time, inclination or ability to listen to a podcast. So for those people...
Podcast 11 was a return to form for the Sag Wagon team following a workman like Podcast 10. Host Sam Pang (stranger in a strange land ie knows nothing about cycling) and Dave Culbert (don't call him a former Olympian) opened with a solid gambit about the tour starting tomorrow in the mountains, as opposed to a week and a half ago when, to the untrained eye, the tour appeared to start. This provided the fuel and the theme for the rest of the podcast.
We saw a relaxed attitude to the agenda in Episode 11. As Sophie Smith (actually knows something and isn't afraid to show it) delivered the News the conversation naturally diverted to Podium Watch, Where did Tony Martin Finish and Aussie Watch. This worked well for them, and we may hear more of this in the future.
This episode was really all about consolidating already established names, including Greipel as the Baby Gorilla and the original Thor Hushovd, God of Thunder. Sophie Smith did not gain any new names and remains solid as the Lois Lane of Cycling, Agent 86 and the Jana Wendt of Cycling.
Did Sophie Smith go to Sleep?
This is the question I am always asking. The way I heard it, no. Although she did take a little Googling break to look up the definition of a viscount, she was, to my ear, conscious throughout the podcast. This was good to hear after a disappointing Episode 10 where she faded after delivering the News and probably nodded off.
So, that's my take on the coverage of the coverage. So I bet reading this is almost like being at the Tour, yes?
Monday, July 11, 2011
Last week I listed my top men crying moments. Well, I can add another one to the list today. Johnny Hoogerland cried while receiving the polka dot jersey. And having just watched the accident footage, I can see why. It is amazing that he managed to get up from that crash at all, let alone finish the stage and get on the podium.
It's a rest day on the Tour now so the Sag Wagon are also taking a break. Luckily, I can always fall back on that other great competitive spectacle for excitement, Toddlers and Tiaras. It's got the determination, it's got the spills, it's got just as much fake tan and just as little body hair. And as the pageant parents say, beauty pageants are just like sport. It's so easy to judge, but how is getting your five year old's eyebrows waxed any different from buying them a bike and putting Spokey Dokes in the wheels?
Thursday, July 7, 2011
They are quite funny.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
The take home message for me was that it is often not helpful to try to make grieving people feel better. Instead we should support people as they go through the natural but painful emotions and physical reactions of grief.
Coping with Grief included interviews with people who were experiencing grief along with experts and counsellors. It was good stuff, but I found myself misting up several times.
I am a big cryer. I once cried at the preview of Pocahontas. There was something about the way the leaves swirled around the Pocahontas' feet combined with the music that choked me up.
I find crying very helpful and it makes me worried that some people feel like they shouldn't do it. All of the experts interviewed in Coping with Grief talked about the problems caused by the stigma against men crying or talking about their emotions. The show was produced 15 years ago so I really hope things are starting to change.
I once saw an advertisement for men's moisturizer that encouraged men to "dare to care". Similarly, TAC used to advertise "power naps" rather than "nanna naps" to appeal to the tuckered out male driver. We probably need a manly name for crying like Tears of Steel.
I certainly don't think less of men when they cry. If anything, it can make me like them more. Here are my top men crying moments.
1. Kevin Rudd's "blub" when he was given the boot as Prime Minister. I was quite happy about having a female Prime Minister but his speech made me blub too.
2. When Ian James got hit by a ball in the face in Grade 4 during a game of rounders. I saw him cry and pretend not to. I fell in love.
3. In Dead Poets' Society when Charlie comes to tell Todd that Niels is dead. Charlie is crying. As was I. Actually, more like sobbing hysterically.
4. In Year 10 I went to the International Student Conference (aka the International Nerd Convention). My school's group had a fantastic week in Melbourne working with a school from Pretoria and we were devastated when it was over. We knew we'd never see the Pretorians again. On the way to the train station where we said goodbye one of the boys sat by himself and stared out the window of the tram. But you could see in the reflection that he cried.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
But it hasn't all been lovely.
Sometimes I think I get more emotional listening to audio books than I do when I read a book. (That explains the hysterical sobbing at the end of the The Outsiders in Grade 6.)
1932 A Hell of a Year covers some of the major depression era events in Australia and so gets into some pretty gruelling subject matter. I've found some of it quite hard to listen to without choking up.
1932 was the year Phar Lap died.
What I don't understand is why the author, Gerald Stone, keeps going on about incidental events like the sacking of the New South Wales Premier.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
I'm quite ignorant when it comes to Australian history. I'm embarrassed to admit I know more about America's Presidents than I do about Australia's Prime Ministers before my life time. So by listening to this story tape I am learning a lot and having fun at the same time. 1932 does a very good job of personalising the political figures and I am currently quite enthralled by the drama of the Sydney Harbour Bridge opening.
Sadly I'm to Broome tomorrow so I will have to wait 10 days to get back into it. And it's audio book month! If only I had planned ahead.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
So, what will I being doing to celebrate? Listening to audiobooks. Tick.
Actually I haven't been listening to many audiobooks lately. I just haven't wanted to. I don't know why. Maybe I'm a bad person. Or maybe the interminable 14th Century followed by the abridgement fiasco left me burnt out.
Anyway, I've just borrowed 1932 A Hell of Year, a non-fiction audiobook about Australia in the depression. Hot stuff! It's going to be the best Audiobook Month ever, I just know it.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
So I borrowed La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith read by Beth Chalmers.
I don't like it. I've just realised why. It's abridged. I hate abridged story tapes. Hate them.
It doesn't help that the narrator sounds like she could be reading Noddy, Watch the Carrots Don't Boil Over! or some such.
So I've gone from one extreme to the other. From arduously long and detailed to idiotically short.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Toddlers and Tiaras is pretty calamitous but I also think hilarious.
My favorite bits are:
- This girl. Hang in there - she eventually falls off her stool; and
- The Cutie Patootie song. She's only six! She's singing about shaking her booty! Oh dear!
Anyway, my partner has just pointed out that I should not be laughing at child abuse and he is right.
I will go back to being mildly diverted by the plague.
Monday, May 9, 2011
I drove back to the metrop with my sister. She is a lover of story tapes too and I was pleased that the car was stocked with Thank You, Jeeves! by PG Wodehouse for the home journey.
I was relaxing into the delightfully complicated sentences with hilariously redundant clauses when I was assaulted by the term, "nigger minstrels". Wodehouse used this phrase repeatedly for about ten minutes.
It hurt my ears.
I've read Thank You, Jeeves! before and didn't like the term then. But hearing it out loud was much worse.
I'm in two minds as to whether "nigger minstrels" should be edited to read "minstrels".
My reasons against changing it
The word didn't have the same connotations then, and it's interesting and illuminating to experience the the historical variations in language. Also, I believe in changing what you're saying not what you've said. He wrote it, it was published, the ship has sailed.
My reasons for changing it
It would be a smoother listening experience if the word was taken out. It jars in my ears, so I can only imagine how someone would feel if they'd personally experienced the word as an insult. Wodehouse is all about humorous, escapist fiction. Running into a word like that in his books is like finding a poo in a bag of pastries. Unwelcome.
(Although thinking about it, finding a poo almost anywhere is going to be unwelcome. Bascially, if you didn't already know the poo was there, finding out is going to be hard.)
Anyway I don't know. I just don't know.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I'm about half way through the 28 hour long audio book The Calamitous 14th Century, but I think I've actually heard about half of it. The other half I've missed while doing incompatible activities at the same time like having a shower, putting on the washing or reading articles about Ricky Nixon's disgraceful hair and conduct.
I normally stop audio books if I'm doing an incompatible activity but not with this one. The great thing about the 14th century is that the same things happens over and over again. War, plague, war, plague, nice trip to the country, war, plague.
So I'm finding it quite easy to dip in and out of the narrative, missing chunks of it, but still getting the general idea.
But I'm glad there's not a test.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
So I had to log back into my library account and check out A Distant Mirror again and then download it again.
Flipping hell! Why is my life so hard? How much more can I take? What about me? Flip!
They were the thoughts that were going through my head.
I have calmed down now and am trying to feel positive about not having the plague. Anyway, I've checked A Distant Mirror out for two weeks now. Will it be enough time? I dunno. I just dunno.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The selection was a little limited, but I found a winner. I'm listening to A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman read by Nadia May.
I will be listening to A Distant Mirror for some time to come because it is 28 hours long. That makes it the longest story tape I've ever listened to. But it feels good to push your limits when you know you've done the training.
Friday, April 22, 2011
I found this article that says that not all audio books have a director but they are a jolly good idea. I also found this adamant article saying that directors greatly improve the listening experience.
So now I'm wondering if I can tell the difference. Certainly The Careful Use of Compliments was very good. Davina Porter kept me interested even though almost nothing happened. But I'm not sure how this compares to audio books without a director.
I usually borrow story tapes produced by Bolinda Audio Books and their website doesn't credit directors. But maybe they use them and just don't mention it.
Does anybody know?
Saturday, April 16, 2011
The characters said "Oh my God!" a lot, and that was fair enough. They went through a pretty gruesome and gruelling time. The scariness, though very skillfully done, caused problems for me:
- I kept thinking about it when I was trying to get to sleep.
- I kept listening to it when I should have been going to bed/work because I couldn't stop.
To help recover from the scary thriller I am now listening to The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith. And if any severed heads turn up I'm going to be pretty pissed off.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I'm not surprised because I am a big Catherine Jinks fan. When I was a teenager and going through my "All YA is beneath me, because I've read Wuthering Heights" stage I made an exception for Catherine Jinks' Pagan series. I loved those books with an hysterical passion that saw me ending friendships if someone didn't like them, or even just didn't love them.
When I was a teenager I believed that the books you liked defined your identity. (In my view, anyone who didn't like reading wasn't even a proper person.)
It reminds me of the great video serious Talking Faiths presented by the Immigration Museum. Students pair up to talk about their faith and identity. All the participants are very respectful and keen not to judge the other's perspective.
But in this video there is a sudden moment of discord. Two girls are cheerfully discussing Harry Potter (1:50) when it is revealled that one of them is a Twilight fan and the other one isn't. No amount of awkward giggling can disguise the fact that this budding inter-faith friendship has hit a rocky patch. The Jewish/Muslim thing was fine but the Twilight/non-Twilight divide might be a breaking point.
Fortunately later in the video they're back on less controversial topics and chatting happily about wearing the hijab (4:35).
So my point is - if anyone doesn't like The Road then I don't like you. (Same goes for John Brown Rose and the Midnight Cat.)
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The Road is becoming quite tense and that is causing problems. Yesterday before work I became over-engaged in the story and just sat on the edge of the bed for 15 minutes listening instead of putting on socks etc.
I should have known this would happen after the whole Murder on the Orient Express debacle. Unfortunately I am not a very good learner by experiencer.
Yesterday I also went to a session to learn about sports nutrition. It was all about a frightening 1kg tub of protein. The fact that I found the catch phrase, "train harder more often" unappealing and would have preferred "train less hard less often" suggests that that the product was not really aimed at me.
However, I did learn something useful about nutrition yesterday after all. Don't eat a chicken and mayonnaise roll at 5.15 and then go for an energetic run at 6.30. Lesson learned. Although, I did previously learn a very similar lesson involving yogurt and a big piece of oat slice.
Monday, March 28, 2011
This might be because of an inconsistency in the text. Cassandra describes herself as having a difficult to understand cockney accent - then in the next chapter she says her parents moved in "high society" in England and her father was a banker, following in the footsteps of his father and father's father.
Possibly I'm just full of terrible stereotypes and don't understand how many third generation cockney bankers there are moving in London's high society. But Macauley definitely changed Cassandra's accent. Perhaps this was deliberate to try to match the text and then she just hoped no-one would notice. Well, ha! no such luck, with Penny the Pedant in town.
In general, Macauley's accents are solid, with the exception of the cockney, which is bloody difficult - look at Mary Poppins.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I enjoyed listening to it yesterday as I took up the baking burden and made the weekly muffins.
As usual, once the muffins were in the oven I was off and Googling about the book and author. That's how I discovered the website Photoshop Disasters and this photo. And that's how I lost another hour of my life looking at pointless shit on the internet.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Stephanie Daniel's voice in conversation was very different from her voice as narrator. Stephanie also mentioned that she used her "real voice" as the character of the nun. I'd previously assumed that narrators only put on voices for the characters' dialogue, not for the narration bits.
I now realise that Stepahnie would sound a bit weird speaking like this all the time. If I was chatting to her about an every day topic like the price of milk or Ricky Nixon's disgraceful hair and conduct I would quickly get tired of her slow sentences and perfect diction.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Whenever I see a Phyrne Fisher mystery by Kerry Greenwood I just borrow it. I don't bother looking at anything else on the shelf.
Phyrne is a super attractive and smart woman who solves mysteries in 1920s Melbourne. These books work very well as story tapes.
Phyrne has a lovely life and it is a delight to hear about her as I go about mine. After a very hard day of fighting crime Phyrne goes home, is greeted by her butler, has a hot bath run for her by her maid, is served chicken soup and a hot toddy by her cook and, thus bodily satisfied, she steelily determines to compose her thoughts and emotions.
And it's not just because she has help. Phyrne Fisher would be able to make herself bodily satisfied and compose her thoughts and emotions in almost any circumstances. Even if she was working in the ham hocks section of a bacon factory, at the end of the day, she would take a deep breath, have a gin and tonic, and put it all behind her.
I personally find this tricky. After a hard day of spreadsheeting, I come home, race around madly to get bodily satisfied but then - can I compose my thoughts and emotions? No. I am still fuming because someone told me Column C had the 2009-10 figures instead of 10-11.
But I find that listening to a Phryne Fisher mystery can, at least temporarily, rest my mind.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Last week I said I was intrigued by the writing process between Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow but was holding out on discovering more until I'd heard the whole thing. Well, the moment I finished the final disk I minimised the slice recipe and opened a new browser window, Googling like a mad thing.
Soon, all of my questions were answered with most of them covered by this interview.
To sum up, in real life Earls and Sparrow are not on together and they never frickin hated each other. So the the life cunningly disguised as art ingeniously impersonating life masquerading as art hiding under a flowerpot thing is confined to the tandem story writing, not to the actual plot.
Anyway, this was probably the most enjoyable story tape I've heard all year. Was funny and the authors were very good narrators.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I have very happy memories of being read to - John Brown Rose and the Midnight Cat by Jenny Wagner is a book whose brilliance is undiminished by repetition. I could listen to it every day. I know, because for a few months when I was three, I did. Now when I read the book I still hear my Dad's voice, particularly on classic lines like, "John Brown tipped it out again."
Nowadays I just have my story tapes. And sometimes people at work read out important news items from The Age website, for example on Sophie Monk's shock engagement (and end of) or Ricky Nixon's disgraceful hair and conduct. Not quite the same.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The book is dual perspective, with Joel's story written and read by Nick Earls and Cat's story written and read by Rebecca Sparrow. Happily, both authors do a good job as narrators.
The plot involves Joel and Cat writing a tandem story for an English assignment, with each of them taking turns to write a paragraph. This makes me extremely curious about the writing process for the book.
Questions occur: Did Earls and Sparrow use the tandem method to write Joel and Cat? Did they map out the plot beforehand? Did either of them make the other one change bits? Are they on together?
When I read books I am a terrible skipper to the ender. I frequently go to the last page or flick through to see if a character keeps being mentioned. With story tapes you theorhetically can't do that. Except, you sort of can if you Google the book, or look at reviews on Goodreads, or look up the author on Wikipedia etc. Recently I have not been able to resist reading spoiling reviews/interviews/articles of the books I've been listening to.
So I am determined not to impact my experience of Joel and Cat set the Record Straight by reading about it. Dammit, I will form my own opinions of the work, and let the plot unfold at its own pace.
I am finding it hard to resist the temptation to Google. Very hard. Like my core. (That is not true, core is not hard despite agressive once a week fit ball regime.)
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I went to my first babyshower two weeks ago. A lovely afternoon, but there was more smoking than I expected.
Last night I went to my first hens night. It was a great night, but there was more talking about death than I expected.
I'll know for next time.
I'm still listening to Undine by Penni Russon, a book about a girl discovering that she has nautically-inspired magical powers.
I'm enjoying listening to this story more than I expected, because I don't get into much fantasy. Perhaps because whenever I read a book like Undine I can't help thinking that poor Undies might be mentally ill rather than magical. This is clearly a failure of my imagination and I wish I was better at suspending disbelief. I keep telling myself that Harry Potter really did go to Hogwarts - he's not just a lonely boy in a basement who has lost his grip on reality.
At least when I read Liar by Justine Larbalestier, I didn't have any doubts or confusion about what "really" happened. I knew.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Undies is a Year 11 girl living in Hobart who seems to be discovering that she has nautically-inspired magical powers. (I'm only 2 discs in so there's a small possibility that the book is really about the devastating effects of mental illness.)
I am enjoying Undies' story very much. Apparently it's a trilogy and I can see myself listening to the next two books as well. I am extremely impressed with the narrator Melissa Eccleston - she adds just enough inflection and intonation to make it interesting without being distracting.
You can listen to a sample here.
The only thing that I don't like about this recording is the music (you can hear it at the start of the sample). Actually I think the music is quite appropriate, but I keep getting a a fright when it starts because it is a bit jarring and spooky. Mind you, I am easily scared by music, which is why I can't watch Doctor Who.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tonight was home-exercise night so I continued listening to The Man Within by Graham Greene. The plot has gone silly. I am losing patience with the main character and his tortured self loathing piggy-backing on his blatant madonna/whore view of women.
But there is some good news here.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I continued to avoid The Man Within all week. It seemed pretty grim to me. The cover is black and has a picture of a shadowy man holding a lantern. Like a coward, I just couldn't come at it.
Then today I drove to central Victoria for a baby shower. I was driving on my own (which I hate, avoid wherever possible and consider an achievement if I actually do it) and needed something to listen to.
I had no choice but to start on The Man Within. And I've enjoyed it so far. The narrator, James Wilby, is excellent. The book makes much of the characters' voices and Wilby does justice to these descriptions. I've read that Graham Greene was embarrassed by the book in later life, but I thought it was fine (although the female character's a bit of a saint, which shits me).
And! I didn't crash the car. So gold star for me.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
I run pretty slowly so it's physically fairly easy, but I find it psychologically challenging. At the start it seems impossibly long and far.
I would almost certainly enjoy listening to a story tape while running, but I've always resisted this. It feels like cheating because facing the boredom and loneliness is part of the challenge for me.
It's also true that I do some valuable thinking when I'm running. I'll start the run feeling confused and stressed about something, but by the time I'm really tired at the end, I've generally distilled the issue down to it's fundamental core.
For example, at the start of the run I might wonder, "Are face cloths really a good idea? Or are you just wiping germs onto your face?" But by the end of the run I'll have got to the heart of the matter, "I really need to do a load of towels this afternoon."
So maybe I use the running time to work out the issues in my life. And I couldn't do that while listening to a story tape.
On the other hand, I always listen to a story tape when I'm cooking on my own. I would never make muffins in silence. Perhaps this is weakness though, and I could use that lonely sifting time to resolve my feelings towards my father.
Friday, February 11, 2011
How do I cope? I listen to Frasier episodes on YouTube. I find this a very pleasant accompaniment to cooking/cleaning etc. It also has an added benefit. My partner pretends to find this even more annoying than story tapes. So when I go back to the audio books he is more tolerant. Variety! Good on!
Monday, February 7, 2011
I really enjoyed The Social Network, but I am not enjoying listening to the book the film was based on, The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Monedy, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook.
- It's very one-sided. Ben Mezrich has extensively interviewed Eduardo Saverin but has not had access to the other major players, including Mark Zuckerberg.
- To get around his lack of actual knowledge Mezrich cheekily overuses phrases like, "It is easy to picture" and "we can envisage", and words like "perhaps" and "maybe" to cover scenes where he actually has NO IDEA what happened.
- Mezrich is very mean about geeks assuming that they are all hate themselves and are desperate to be cool. I know this is not true. He also assumes that, in the normal course of events, a computer nerd will never have sex with anything more attractive than a bin-liner. This is also not true.
- The narrator, Mike Chamberlain, reads some parts really slowly as though they have momentous import. Chamberlain would be better off reading really fast and mumbling in the hope that no-one would notice sentences like, "He forced his pulse to return to a steady beat, like the steady bytes and bits of a processing computer hard drive."
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
I was surprised to find that there is only one disk! It's just MP3 files. What an innovation! No more changing disks/cassettes, just a'changing times. You can also borrow audio books online from the library - no disks/cassettes at all.
I know it is often said that "on the wings of the trampling hooves of change doth we fly forward on our journey hand in hand with technology and cherubs". And I agree with that statement. I am very happy to embrace new technology (I admit this might not be obvious given that I still refer to audio books as story tapes).
However, I would like to have one moment of nostalgia for the plummy voice on the Chivers audio books announcing, "That is the end of Side X. The story will continue on the next cassette".
Just thinking about it makes me a bit misty.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Holly (town newcomer renovating a B&B) will realise she is being a selfish bitch by moving to the Bay when she should be supporting her husband Andrew (property developer who loves making money, ruining natural treasures and shagging his mistress) in Sydney.
Holly leaves Andrew and shacks up with her builder Mitchell. I am disgusted by this plot resolution. Do modern writers have no moral compass?
Holly returns to Sydney and does a leadlighting course to fulfil herself (turns out this is plenty).
Holly is emotionally and sexually fulfilled in her mutually supportive relationship with Mitchell. What kind of message does this send out?
Holly tries to be more alluring to keep her husband from straying.
Tina (spunky earnest lighthouse ranger) and Eddie (spunky earnest documentary maker) will get it on. Possibly on the lighthouse stairs.
Actually it was at a waterfall and then in the lighthouse.
Billy (possibly not gay hairdresser) and Amber (makes soap, hates her mother) will shack up. Soap and hair make for a great business opportunity.
Apparently Billy is not gay but happily married. Amber becomes even more successful at making soap and it is implied that she will become a millionaire. No man!
Kimberley (concerned mother) either doesn't need a man, or Ashok (Kimberley’s husband who went to India) will return and revert to being Tim, or whatever he was called before.
Ashok comes home. Still called Ashok though. Kimberley becomes more assertive by getting a job at the council and breeching public service values by blabbing confidential information to her friends. This is considered fine.
Bonnie (went crazy when her husband left her for his secretary. Has a daughter and a shop) will get a man who hasn't been introduced yet.
No man! Bonnie becomes less crazy and uses this new skill to help other people be less crazy too.
Bonnie will start being nicer to her shop (too late for daughter).
Daughter burnt to a crisp in a house-fire. Bonnie is sad but soon feels strong enough to start being nice to her shop on a part time basis.
That's only 3/8 but no wonder I was confused. Not everyone gets a man! Very confronting stuff.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Intially I thought that 14 CDs at an hour a disk might be too much. But to give Di Morrissey her due I am hooked and powering through it. Up to disk 5 and I can't see myself stopping.
One of the most interesting aspects is who is going to get together in the end.
These are the main characters.
Holly: A Sydney socialite mother for 20 plus years she has just moved to the Bay to try to make something of herself at last. She bought an old house and wants to rennovate it and open a B&B.
Mitchell: Older gent. Spunky, but technically unqualified builder. Has a deep sense of purpose and spirituality in renovating Holly's bed and breakfast. Meets Holly on the beach where their dogs get along famously.
Andrew: Holly's husband. Wants to ruin the Bay by building a resort on the foreshore. Having an affair. As he says to his mistress,"We know exactly what the world is all about these days. Grabbing life by both hands and having a ball. Consolidating our futures as winners in the new economic era."
Holly will realise she is being a selfish bitch by moving to the Bay when she should be supporting her husband in the new economic era. Returns to Sydney and does an leadlighting course to fulfill herself (turns out this is plenty). Tries to be more alluring to keep her husband from straying.
That much is obvious. Moving away from the main protagonists though it all gets a bit murkier. Here are sub-characters.
Amber: Makes soap. Troubled past?
Billy: Hairdresser. Might not be gay. (I was putting on the washing and missed his introduction to the story.)
Eddie: Very spunky film maker going around the Bay looking for stories and scoping the chicks. Has a bitch of an ex-wife who just doesn't get what he's on about.
Tina: Lighthouse park ranger. Climbs the stairs everyday, which keeps her toned for Eddie to perve on.
Kimberley: Concerned mother. Her husband changed his name to Ashok and moved to India.
Bonnie: Crazy lady. Her husband ran off with his secretary so Bonnie decided to become a mad, drug crazed lady. She owns a daughter and a shop and doesn't look after either of them.
It's all a bit tricky because there don't seem to be enough men to go around. But this is my best guess:
- Tina and Eddie will get it on. Possibly on the lighthouse stairs.
- Billy and Amber will shack up, (if Billy isn't gay). Soap and hair make for a great business opportunity.
- Kimberley either doesn't need a man, or Ashok will return and revert to being Tim, or whatever he was called before.
- Bonnie will get a man who hasn't been introduced yet. She will start being nicer to her shop (too late for daughter).
Needing a cassette based story tape for the car (and one that wouldn't shit my partner to tears) I borrowed Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington/Nugi Garimara read by Rachael Maza.
This was top story tape selection. Not only is the story itself gripping but I felt like I was learning something. And something important too. Listening to the tape I realised that I haven't engaged with many stories about the stolen generations in Australia. This book helped me imagine how I would feel if it happened to me.
Also, in case you're wondering just how glorious our sporting achievements were, let's just say that we both saw a bit of the podium. From the crowd during the presentations. Not to worry. We are friends with the girl who came third - reflected glory!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I've listened to a couple of other books by Di Morrissey on story tape. I found them extremely irritating. I've chosen to borrow another one because I enjoy being annoyed. It is fun to shout, "No-one describes their own house as a mansion!" or, "Vexed exposition!" or, "I hate you all!"
Unfortunately, I have never been able to convince my partner to join me in this activity at home. Not only does he not enjoy being annoyed by bad story tapes, but he acts like story tapes in general are annoying. (I say "act" because this is clearly not true. Story tapes are great. Everyone loves them because they are so great.)
At the other end of the spectrum, my sister has jumped back on the story tape train and is listening to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday. She says it is very good. Her partner has been sucked into it too, so she has to wait for him to come home before she can listen to it.
At least I don't have that problem.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Proudhon wrote in the mid-19th century and has a flourishing style. In particular, he loves exclamation marks, writing sentences such as, "Days of conflagration and anguish!" He really peaks in brilliance though, with his two word explosions of repulsion. For example, "Deplorable pride!"
You don't see many sentences like that now. But I think there is no better way to decry. Let's take another example. The sentence, "False calculation." sounds like the sort of thing an accountant might write in the margin of a tax return. But the sentence, "False calculation!" suggests an error of mammoth importance, which we will naturally want to get hysterical about.
I also like the economy of this technique. When Proudhon writes, "Debased creature!" in just two words we are left in no doubt that, in his opinion, the way the bourgeoisie are behaving is pretty well not on.
So I would like to see more of the 19th century two-word exclamation of disgust in modern writing. I thought I'd start by describing some of my worst ever story tape experiences using this form. I am not saying that these books are necessarily bad, just that I had a rotten time listening to them.
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus: Infuriating inaction!
Momento Mori by Murial Spark: Existential calamity!
The Reef by Di Morrissey: Vexed exposition!
The Clicking of Cuthbert by PG Wodehouse: Interminable golf!
The Daredevil Tycoon by Barbara McMahon: Total crap!
So I recommend that you have a go yourselves. It's fun. Wretched abacus! (That one doesn't make sense, it just sounds right).
Friday, January 14, 2011
I had half an hour to wait until my partner was due home.
Things to Make and Mend was tantalisingly close through the locked door but I couldn't get at it. I had no entertainment. I sat on the carpet, did some stretches, listened to the rain and the trains and thought about the Queensland floods. I was surprised how quickly the time went sitting quietly by myself.
Also, the kitchen didn't burn down so that was good.