In Which Wonderduck Complains About Audiobooks
As the three Pond Scum members remaining will recall, I work in a job that allows me... nay, friggin' requires me... to have something to distract my brain from the repetitive task I perform for 9-12 hours/day. Music was a good way to start but even with over 500 songs on the mp3 player, you start to hear the same songs over and over again.
This is not helped when the mp3 player in question loses its place when you have it on "random" and you press pause to go use the little ducks' room. Further, it's almost like the memory has a groove worn in it, because it seems to go back to the same songs repeatedly. The bad thing is, it's not the same songs every time. Today it might be this, that and the other... but tomorrow it'll be penguin, ocelot, and serval. So I can't even count on that. No complaints, but it does get a bit tedious.
So the next step was audiobooks. These have proven to be a mixed bag. On the plus side, some of them are long enough to last me a whole week of work. On the minus, dear god have these people never performed before? I can count on the fingers of one had just how many audiobooks I've listened to that do a good job on actually understanding what the author wrote. Just as an example of what I'm talking about, a few months back I listened to the audiobook of Starship Troopers.
Now, this is my favorite Heinlein novel, which means it's on the very short list of my favorite books. I cannot say how many times I've read it over the past 40 years... if you told me 100, I wouldn't be surprised. I know this book inside and out, is what I'm trying to tell you. It is at least theoretically possible that the man who did the audio reading had read the book before. I wouldn't put any money on it, but it's possible. Anybody who can read the line "C'mon you apes, do you want to live forever?" and make it sound like an actual question simply doesn't have a grasp on the subject material. And speaking of grasping, what they did to The Mote In God's Eye and the sequel, The Gripping Hand, is simply criminal. The reader does do a good job of differentiating voices, so points for that. Unfortunately, his interpretation makes it sound like everybody in the cast hates everybody else. Captain Roderick Blaine's relationship with his navigator, Kevin Renner, is completely and totally antagonistic, full of snarling and gnashing of teeth. Which is weird, because when I read it Renner was a much more lighthearted rogue trader, and Blaine the Navy captain/aristocrat that puts up with him. I'm fairly sure the reader took his cue from one line: "Blaine decided that he didn't like his navigator." If true, he blew it completely.
It's amazing just how common this is. Almost completely forgot the most egregious example: Robert Asprin's Phule's Company! If you've read it, you know it's a comedy novel. It's supposed to be funny. Somehow, the reader turned Willard Phule, aka Captain Jester, into a typical military man. Sorta puts a damper on the whole rest of the novel, y'know?
That's not to say they're all bad. I had cause recently to hear The Rise And Fall Of D.O.D.O., by Neil Stephenson and Nicole Galland, and it's a terrific listen. There's at least six different people doing different voices, which is pretty much a requirement for the book... in print form, it's made up of journal entries, computer logs, audio transcripts, etc etc etc, all of which look different from each other. So, in audiobook form, different voices for each character's individual entries. To be sure, if Tristan (our hero) shows up in Melisande's (our heroine/main character) entry, the woman who reads Melisande's stuff will differentiate for Tristan, it's not the person who reads Tristan's entries. Still, it works, and it's a hoot. Ditto for Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens.
But the best audiobook I've yet listened to is the classic With The Old Breed by Eugene Sledge. Unlike, I think, most other audiobooks, this one is actually read by someone who did research and knew the book inside and out. Which makes sense since Joe Mazzello, the man who played Sledge in the amazing HBO miniseries The Pacific, is the reader. It's a gruesome book, but that's good; it was originally written just for Sledge's family, so they knew what grandpa did in the War. It pulls no punches, and Mazzello brings it to life in a way no other audiobook I've listened to has managed.
More like that, please and thank you Audiobook companies. Get people who know the books to read 'em, huh?
The issues with audiobooks often are the same with dubs - the quality depends on how good whoever is giving instructions to the person recording it, and on the budget for the production (More budgets allow more takes.).
There is also the possibility that whoever is recording a book might not care too much about what they are reading and decided to have their own 'interpretation' on it. There is at least one person involved in audiobooks who has, off the recording, admitted to doing that occasionally.
I do like the audiobooks when they have a cast recording it, instead of just on person. It feels very much like a radio play - I remember listening to audiobooks of Clive Cussler's Deep Six and Cyclops years ago, along with a non-fiction book about the Walker-Whitworth espionage case.
Posted by: cxt217 at September 26, 2018 05:51 PM (EGo5e)
Does the local library have audio books on CD or other media that you can download to your device?
Posted by: jon spencer at September 26, 2018 07:48 PM (6SO50)
Jon, probably... but I can count the number of times I've been in a public library the past 15 years or so on the fingers of one wing. And even then, it was to visit The Librarian, not to check out books.
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 26, 2018 09:24 PM (8i+JN)
The audiobooks for Wiseguy and Casino are both excellent; except that they're abridged editions edited to follow their movie adaptations. Which also makes them short. Still very well performed, though.
Poor reading: I'm a big Jack Chalker fan, and I picked up all of his Flux and Anchor books on audio a couple of years ago. AWFUL. The guy reading them (all of them) speaks as if he's reading abridged Disney-fied fairytales to five-year-olds. Like in the hundreds of story collections Disney published back in the 60's and 70's. His voice has that sparkling delight and touch of humor designed for delivering Mother Goose to pre-schoolers.
If you've ever read Chalker, and specifically the Flux and Anchor books, they're loaded with body horror, depictions of corrupt, empowered bureaucrats abusing their powers, commentary on governmental extremes, and EXPLICIT SEX.
It is such a complete failure on tone, it's unlistenable.
Posted by: Ben at September 27, 2018 12:49 AM (4TRZx)
The series I can recommend are Terry Pratchett's Discworld books (read by Nigel Planer for the first half of the series, then Stephen Briggs), Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan and Chalion books (mostly read by Grover Gardner, except for those with a female lead character), and Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos books, read by Bernard Setaro Clark).
They're all good books with consistently good readings.
One other thing that might be of interest is the Dragnet collection available from Audible. I don't have it yet myself, but 379 episodes for 1 credit is kind of tempting.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at September 28, 2018 05:17 AM (2yngH)
Mrs. Will - The Dresden Files books are read by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy). The actor in the TV series (which I liked a lot) was Paul Blackthorne.
Something about Marsters' performance doesn't sit right with me, but I'll give them another try.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at September 28, 2018 05:20 AM (2yngH)
FWIW, I talk about the Dresden audiobooks here... I stopped after the third one. Harry's outlook on life was seriously depressing.
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 28, 2018 06:53 AM (8i+JN)
Interesting sidenot about James Marsters. IIRC, commentator Knirirr at Hell in a Handbasket commented that Marsters' accent as Spike was the closest he had ever heard an American properly do an English accent - so much so that he had to double-check to make sure Marsters was not English.
The audiobooks of the Monogatari novels are interesting because they used several different VAs to perform the characters from the books, which is not often the case. Maybe they will actually not drive me to distraction compare to reading the actual light novels.
Posted by: cxt217 at September 28, 2018 05:30 PM (EGo5e)
Larry Correia's works are read by either Adam Baldwin or Bronson Pinchot. They are both reputed to be very good.
Posted by: Mauser at September 28, 2018 07:32 PM (Ix1l6)
12"The audiobooks of the Monogatari novels..."
CXT, there's more than one now? Hmm. I might need to look into that.
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 28, 2018 09:01 PM (8i+JN)
No, that was my mistake. I did think they had recorded more than Kizumonogatari, but it appears not.
Posted by: cxt217 at September 28, 2018 10:31 PM (EGo5e)
Figure Foto Fun Four: All Right Mr DeMille, I'm Ready For My Close-Up
A little while ago I picked up a set of extension tubes for my camera lens... basically they turn it into a macro lens for closeups. I mean, it's not like it was terrible at them before, but now it's a whole different portrait level. For example:
The lighting on this one is... pretty okay. But I got better.
Just a tiny bit of color editing, and voila, Haruhi's happy.
One of these days I'll take a good picture of this figure and I'll be so surprised I'd probably drop dead. Something about it defies good photography, and by "good", I really mean "whatever I'm able to produce."
Seventeen Years Ago
It was a Tuesday morning at Pond Central. Tuesdays meant New Release Day at the bookstore I ran at the time, which required resetting the new Top 20 display at the front of the store. I woke up about a half-hour earlier than I normally did, intending to get to the store early. Nothing too out of the ordinary there, truth be told.
That all changed when my clock radio turned on. Instead of hearing the usual light-hearted sports talk, I realized that the morning duo sounded... serious. I mean, really serious. Something about one of the World Trade Center buildings having been hit by an airplane. Honestly, my first reaction was one of total unconcern; as a World War II buff, of course I knew about the B-25 Mitchell flying into the Empire State Building in a thick fog. Of course I thought that it would be something similar. I headed out to Pond Central's kitchen, grabbed some orange juice, then turned on the TV to see what was going on.
I had had just enough time to say to myself "that's a really big hole, and a lot of smoke. It sure wasn't a light airplane." I also noted that the sky was clear and blue, so it couldn't be that the pilot had gotten lost in the fog like the B-25 had. But before I could really boil all that down to the obvious conclusion, the second plane hit. In my rush to get up close to my 13" TV/VCR combo, I spilled my orange juice and barked my shins on the coffee table. I stood there for 10 or 15 minutes, before heading for the shower. Listened to the shower radio the whole time, got dressed, then watched the TV until I absolutely had to leave. At the time, I literally had to drive from one end of Duckford to the other, at least a half-hour long jaunt.
As I was driving, the South Tower collapsed, and I very nearly bent the Duckmobile's steering wheel in shock and surprise. I drove the rest of the way in thinking to myself, "there's a sister bookstore in the mall underneath the WTC." It was kind of a weird feeling, knowing that some people that you've got a very very weak tie to have probably just died... people just like you, probably got in early to set the new Top 20 display, and they just had one of the tallest buildings in the world fall on their heads.
(I'm going to interrupt my story to let you all know that no employees of that bookstore were killed, or even injured, that day. The rest of the chain didn't find that out for a couple of days, however. I can only imagine how the manager's phone call to their District Manager went...)
With that image in my head I pulled into my mall's parking lot, and practically sprinted into the building, so best to pull the boom box out of the back room and bring it to the cashwrap so to keep listening to the events of the day... and discovered once again that fluorescent lights scream like banshees in all sorts of radio frequencies. I managed to find a station that wasn't drowned out by static, waaaaaay up at the top of the dial. I think it was broadcasting from Wisconsin, but I don't remember for sure anymore. And sometime between leaving my car and tuning in WCHZ, the North Tower had collapsed. Not knowing what else to do, I started resetting the Top 20.
At 10am, I opened the gates to let the flood of customers into the store... and by "flood", I mean "nobody." Exact times get a little hazy around this point. I did have one customer come in, we talked for a bit, and then she left. She almost looked dazed, and to be honest, I probably did too. My DM called, said that half of the stores in our district were having to close because their malls were shutting down early. I hadn't heard anything yet from my mall's manager, but I'd let her know as soon as I did. I suspected it wouldn't be long: other than dazed woman, I couldn't see a single customer anywhere in the mall.
Then stores began closing up on their own. The guy who ran the tuxedo place directly across from me said that his boss had called and said "I don't care what the mall is doing, get out of there." If you weren't working in a mall or a big building at the time, you might not remember the fear that permeated that day. There was a lot of concern that more attacks might occur. I know that they evacuated both the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Building in Chicago because of a report of another hijacked plane. Why would terrorists attack a small, dying mall in upstate Illinois? Doesn't matter... there was a lot of irrational thought occurring just then. Eventually, the Powers That Be at the mall said "shut it down," so after calling my staff to tell 'em not to come in, I did just that.
On the way home, I stopped at a grocery store. Looking back at it, that was a weird decision for me to make, but what the hell, I needed my frozen pizza. Unsurprisingly, there was no wait for a cashier. Once I got home and got my foodstuffs put away, I turned the TV back on and took up residence on my couch for the rest of the day and a good portion of the night. A little while ago, I mentioned this to a coworker. He asked me why I didn't get on the internet to follow events that day. Did I mention that he is a very young coworker?
I've probably told the story before, but: We usually woke up to the "adult contemporary" radio station's morning playlist, so basically the soft-rock option (it's what the missus-at-the-time and I could agree on). When the radio kicked on at its usual time and all we heard was news commentary, we realized something was up. It took a couple of minutes to figure out what was going on.
Basically none of my family was left in NYC by that point and I had no Internet friends there either, so it was a more generalized horror for me. And then we got news that Grandma Hjordis died that morning. (Of natural causes. In Kingsville TX.) So it was weird to be at work (at a radio station) dealing with... all of that. I looked terrible enough to get a lot of "Did you lose someone?" and having to go, "Well, yes but not for the reason you think."
Posted by: GreyDuck at September 12, 2018 07:47 AM (rKFiU)
"The rest of the chain didn't find that out for a couple of days, however."
The place I was working at the time had an office in WTC7, and we had the same issue (like you, nobody in our office was hurt). Communication out of NYC was pretty fragmentary for a couple of days.
My mother-in-law was driving from Maine to Florida that day, though, and we didn't hear from her for hours. She'd been through NYC well before the planes hit.
Posted by: Rick C at September 12, 2018 08:30 AM (Q/JG2)
I was at my ATC facility (Denver ARTCC) that morning, out on break in the cafeteria. The "Today Show" was on the TV behind me. They cut to their New York correspondent, who said that it appeared a bomb had gone off at the WTC. I turned around and looked, and realized what everyone else already had. Big plane. We all went back to the control room, where it was already news. We put 258 aircraft on the ground in about 23 minutes. Then, for several days, there were nothing but military aircraft in the sky. (Well, I did have one pilot who chose to go it alone on day 2, but he got caught... that's another story).
Posted by: skyhack at September 12, 2018 09:56 AM (KrC5e)
I turned on the TV for some odd reason that morning. Not a normal routine. Saw the plane hit the second building. Left for work following the events on the way by listening to WLS where Roma was doing her best to calm Don down because he was losing it on air. Got to work where co-workers had no clue what was going on. Was unable to keep it together enough to explain what had happened. Had to do storytime that day. Drove home that night on 20 flanked by flags.
Posted by: Librarian at September 12, 2018 09:02 PM (kUEJc)
I was at home at the time. It was around the start of my long period out of work, and I was building my BattleBot down in the shop, when my neighbor Robin came by and said "Did you hear? A plane hit the World Trade Center," and I was glued to the TV for the rest of the day. Like everyone, at first I thought it was an accident, until I saw the second plane hit, and I got that icewater feeling in my gut, knowing that something was going seriously wrong.
Posted by: Mauser at September 13, 2018 12:17 AM (KeWu2)
I Call For A Boycott!
There is a minor league baseball team in Akron. They are called the Akron Rubberducks. I am calling for all right-minded waterfowl (humans can join in, too) to participate in a boycott of the Akron Rubberducks.
I can hear you saying "But Wonderduck! They're the Rubberducks! It'd only be natural for you to love them!" And you would be correct, normally. But! A team named the Rubberducks should sell Rubberducks rubberducks, and they don't. They do sell rubberducks, but those rubberducks aren't Rubberducks rubberducks, they're regular rubberducks.
So until the Rubberducks sell Rubberducks rubberducks, I will boycott the Rubberducks. Really, it's quite sad. After all, I collect rubberducks, so a Rubberducks rubberduck would be great to own. But I can't put a Rubberducks rubberduck in my rubberduck collection, as the Rubberducks don't sell a Rubberducks rubberduck.
So hop to it, Rubberducks! Carry an Akron Rubberducks rubberduck, so I can send you my money for an Rubberducks rubberduck. Oh, I know there's some problem in licensing since the Major Leagues doesn't have a rubberduck manufacturer anymore, but c'mon! The ball is in your court... pond... stadium... whatever.
F1U! Where, Wonderduck?
I ended up sleeping instead of doing the F1U! for Monza. It was a good race, well worth your time to watch it if you can. But this weekend has either been annoying (Saturday), or relaxing (Sunday, Monday).
The plan had been to do it Monday morning... get up, do morning things, sit down at the computer and bang the writeup out... but I didn't actually get up until 1130a. So I got up, did morning things in what technically turned out to be the afternoon, had lunch, put together what is basically a one-shelf bookcase, though that's not what I'll be using it for, fiddled about, then I took a nap around about 630p. I had intended to to wake up at 9p and do the writeup then.
Intentions are not what happened. I actually woke up at 11p. Which brings us to now. But it was a nice nap, and with the office on mandatory 10 hours of OT this week even with the holiday, a nap that is likely to be needed.
I did try to get some of that OT in on Saturday, but the system was down. The system was down. The system was down. Down down down. Zakazakazakazakazaka system systemsystemsystem. The system was down. Which pissed me off to no end, since I had willingly come in on a day off to do work. Okay, not that willingly. Which made it worse, actually!
So, yeah, OT sucks. I'll do F1U! on Tuesday. Hope y'all had a good holiday off, or for my non-US readers, a good monday.
*looks at picture* And where IS our next great feel-good slice-of-life girls-doing-obscure-activity anime, anyway?
Speaking of anime, I'm several episodes into Love Live! and I'm enjoying it far more than expected. (Moreso than I am Revue Starlight, come to think of it.) The writing's moderately smart and sharp and it's adorable as all heck. Thanks for the rec, good sir.
Posted by: GreyDuck at September 04, 2018 07:39 AM (rKFiU)
2Sora to Umi no Aida. Girls go fishing... in space!
There ya go, GD!
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 04, 2018 08:29 AM (BR8oG)
Having it be in space might be over-egging the recipe a...
<body suits with thigh-high boots because it's IN SPACE!!!!>
Posted by: Ben at September 04, 2018 10:50 AM (osxtX)
I enjoyed Love Live! more than Revue Starlight, but that is primarily because I enjoyed the original Love Live! a great deal. It was less expensive to enjoy than Idolmaster.
Revue Starlight is, if you can get pass the PCP-fueled trip that is the first two episodes, an enjoyable series so far. It is an insane mix of Love Live! meets Utena, or even Yuki Yuna is a Hero. It is not the best show in the season, but unlike Cells at Work, I did not have to watch an episode that made me angry at an anime (For the third time ever.).
Posted by: cxt217 at September 04, 2018 10:16 PM (BcQU4)
I'm a Love Live Sunshine guy, m'self. It's not often you get to see an idol group actually FAIL at their main goal, but LLS did.
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 05, 2018 12:23 AM (8JgDk)
I could never get into Sunshine, though the backlog I had at the time (And still possess.) did not help.
Posted by: cxt217 at September 05, 2018 01:54 PM (BcQU4)
CXT, while I obviously don't agree with you, I can certainly understand liking the first LL series over the second. It's not like there aren't a ton of similarities between them after all. Even the girls are more or less duplicated.
I just like the LLS girls MORE. What it comes down to is that they're almost all hicks from the sticks. Either Riko and Mari have much greater exposure to the city than all the rest combined. Riko is actually from Tokyo, having moved out for good reasons, and Mari's American father is a hotel magnate, she's lived all over the world.
But the rest? Well, back when I lived in Minnesota my ha-ha-only-serious description of where I lived was "People from Mankato go to the Twin Cities for fun. People from New Ulm go to Mankato."
LLS essentially takes place in New Ulm. I like that.
Posted by: Wonderduck at September 05, 2018 09:38 PM (42Vhn)
I'm nowhere near Sunshine yet. Still only about 2/3 through original-LL.
Posted by: GreyDuck at September 10, 2018 07:33 AM (rKFiU)