…that come in 35 hour-long packages of audiobook awesomeness that can easily make your day. Anna Karenina as read by Maggie Gyllenhaal was released by Audible today. Which I probably would have bought for the retail price $40, y’know, if I didn’t have a credit to spend. And, that too: I would have totally paid a full credit for that book, one of my favorite books read by an actress I respect, y’know, had I not been given the awesome you-already-own-the-ebook discount. So… best two bucks I ever spent.
With my book-slash-novel reading (mostly) locked into my bigger novel-reading effort, I’ve been finding that I haven’t had much brain-share to devote to fiction that falls outside that category. Sure, I’ve been reading a lot of great books (new and again) but I’ve been so focused on that effort that I’m trying to avoid regretting the inevitable rut this has been threatening.
One way I’ve mostly avoided a rut has been with audiobooks, and even better with audio-non-fiction. A couple years ago my Audible subscription (I’ve been a member going on a decade now) was awesomely supplemented by a partnership (buyout?) by Audible with The Great Courses, a company that independently has sold and still does sell audio lectures on interesting topics by professors or scholars or experts on those topics.
Before this partnership, these lectures could run you about $50 to $100 a piece, and even though they consisted of as much as twenty-four hours worth of content, I could never bring myself to buy one. But with the Audible deal, I can get them for a single credit — or about $15.
In other words, I will admit that over the last couple years I’ve splurged on more than one interesting series on topics like music, physics, nutrition, parenting, and even language itself.
Last month I stumbled across a short-but-interesting series called How Great Science Fiction Works, which I immediately downloaded.
Ten days later I’ve already listened to all twenty-some lectures and am now –almost literally– bouncing with excitement about reading or watching or even writing some science fiction. If nothing else, my Kindle wish-list is now bursting at the seams with books I’d never heard of or books I’ve heard of but never given a second look.
If you are even remotely interested in science fiction and have a bunch of spare hours to devote to what is essentially auditing a literary studies course on the topic of the role of science fiction in society across the last two hundred years, I would definitely recommend this. I mean, I doubt it’s going to make you a better person or help you earn more money in your career, but at least you’ll have a better appreciation next time you drop your Star Wars bluray into the player and put your feet up to watch.
What posts in June? Oh, thooooose thirty posts in June… again. It seems that for the fourth year in a row I’ve climbed aboard the daily blogging train and continued that monumental, multi-year writing effort to string a topic or idea across the vast reaches of years. Each day a new post on a new topic, but on the same blog-per-day topic as last year, creating another set of Those 30 Posts in June. Today, that post just happens to be:
June 9th // Something You Have Heard
I’ve been an Audible subscriber for at least five years… maybe longer. This isn’t an endorsement, per se, but there is a reason I’ve still never cancelled my subscription after a couple hundred books. I just like it, I guess.
About a year ago something new appeared in the Audible library: selections from “The Great Courses” –a collection of advanced lecture series on a wide range of topics. Pick a topic, and there is probably a lecture on it: music, arts, metaphysics, nutrition, literature, history, whatever…
I took a chance and downloaded a couple of these lectures. After all… what the heck: only a credit and you don’t get a dozen hours of entertainment for less than fifteen bucks very often anymore these days.
The verdict: I’ve got a lot more listening to do…
#100happydays #dailyhappy (19/100) … listening to the dramatization audiobook of “12 Angry Men” and then listening to it again, all over one more time. And knowing that I only paid 99 cents for it. #dailydeal
Once more it is June. Again. And again I embark upon that epic effort of daily blogging, take three, wherein I call upon myself for a kind of rambling focus, picking from a list of daily topics, and with neither planning nor advance writing, strive to pepper this blog with the free-thought, free-writing wonder that is another one of Those 30 Posts in June. Today, that post just happens to be:
June 3rd // Something You Have Read
I might gush a little bit here, but if I’ve never recommended the Neal Stephenson book Anathem to you prior to today, then here you go: duly recommended.
It’s been nearly five years since the release of that mind-bending, spec-fiction epic, a book I first “read” as an audio-book download a few months after it came out, and in the span of time since I personally have gone back to the novel now… I’m gonna say… six times, in various forms. I own at least three copies of the massive tome, legally — Kindle, Audible, and hard-cover — and as such it has become my “go to” book, my having it hanging around novel that I can pick up and read from when I just need something to listen to or read from.
I’ve read it, re-read it, re-read it again, then read it some more in bits-and-pieces, and despite a tip-of-the-tongue feeling that I should be able to better explain why that is, I find myself stuck for a clear and precise explanation of what got me hooked.
It’s a dense novel, for a start. I find new things in every time I read it. New ideas pop from the narrative and new things to think about tumble out of the pages (or headphones, whatever) with each passing consumption of the story. It is one part philosophical thinker, one part speculation on quantum physics, one part coming-of-age-novel, and it is peppered generously with dystopian-tinted sidelong glances at a circus fun-mirror kinda of reflection of ourselves. And if I told you anything else, I’d just be ruining the fun.
It is odd, though, that we find books like this to latch ourselves onto. I don’t know that everyone does that, but I assume that somewhere, everywhere, people find themselves with stories or bits of modern media that become touch-points, comfort-reads, or fall-backs for with we find ourselves relaxing and just slumping into a zone. Or maybe it’s just that I’m getting older and this is what happens to my generation, a generation that’s been raised on seemingly unlimited fiction and boundless abundance of mass media; We roll ourselves into a metaphorical ball and narrow that consumption into a mediated, controlled, and predictable influx.
Or maybe I just really like the book.
So, it’s been about two and a half weeks since I broke down and did an early upgrade on my phone, landing myself with a very slick — and now orange-be-cased — Samsung Galaxy Note. The early infatuation-crush is still lingering, but I can sense the practicality and predictability that comes with any long-term tech relationship starting to settle into a comfortable rhythm. As such, I thought I would make some notes on my Note, and share some of the interesting, clever little tricks I’ve discovered and adapted to fulfill my functionality potential with this particular device.
1. On Watching Vids…
We’ve been with Netflix for about a year and a half now, and we are quite happy with the service. It didn’t take much to get the app up and running on my account and over our home wifi. Perhaps it is simply an temproary bias, but having a six-inch screen with headphoned-audio has been awesome for the last week or so. While our televsion has been tuned by Karin to pretty much permanently show the Olympics coverage, I’ve been plugged into something more my speed and style — namely old scifi and sitcoms on Netflix — without being excessively obvious or obtrusive. One ear for the show, and one for being more social.
2. On Reading Audio Books…
I’ve subscribed to Audible for about three years now, so it almost goes without saying that I have a fairly epic audiobook collection. On of the first apps I installed was the Audible app, a self-contained player that tracks my listening and manages my audiobooks. I was impressed using this on past phones, iPhone included, but the Android version has two advantages, (1) in the form of a widget that lets me control my listening without actually re-loading the app, and (2) in that the player controls are actually usable with human-sized fingers (because I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating Apple’s audio control scheme is for an audiobook, where one off-pixel click can flick you back to the start of a six-hour track when you were only trying to pause and leave you struggling in frustration to remember where you’d last heard, scrubbing through said track while walking down a busy street.)
3. On Consuming Podcasts…
I’m a bit of a fickle podcast listener, and one of the things that I never did get settled to my satisfaction was the automation of podcast retrieval on my previous phones. The thing is, in order for podcasting to be a truly seamless medium, the cast should be a single click away: in that I simply mean, if I need to think about downloading it before I download it, then fine — but I’ll probably give it a miss if only because by the time I realize I want to listen to it I’m off in no-wifi land and I’m not going to eat up a double-digit percentage of my meager mobile data limit on a podcast file. I’ve been using a (paid-for) app for a couple weeks called Beyond Pod. It not only lets me subscribe to podcasts right inside the device, but I’ve refined the download schedule so that it only downloads when I’m on wifi, plugged in, and at night. This means most every morning I wake up with fresh casts. Very cool.
For the entire month of June I’m planning on writing a series of blog-a-day posts based on a set series of open-ended questions to myself. This is one of those posts.
June 9th // Something You Have Heard
I’m sitting here at the computer in my basement pondering what to write while iTunes hums away through my music collection in the background. And here I am again thinking about the so-called spirit implied by these questions. I mean, I could just tell you what I’m listening to right now and get onto playing some Minecraft instead of trying to write a blog post — which is all I pretty much feel like doing right now — but instead I’m caught in this vaguely half-assed attempt at coming up with something half-way meaningful in the context of something I’m seemingly implying has meaning. So — instead — I’m thinking, pretending, assuming, skipping-the-caring-bit-and-just-telling-you what you want to read here is perhaps a snapshot of the many different things I’ve heard over the course of today, as weirdly random as that might be. Care or not, it fulfills my daily blog obligations.
Those things are:
- CBC news as I flipped on the radio during breakfast;
- the chimes of the LRT echoing along the concrete platform in the warm spring moring air announcing the next arriving train barrelling towards the station;
- a few unremarkable lines, chords, maybe verses of some random-and-generic adult contemporary song playing over the cafe speakers as I bought my morning coffee;
- a chapter from my current Audible book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” via my iPhone while I chugged through processing some site changes at the office;
- the rah-rah chant of a random group of corporate challenge people riding a superbike through Churchill square while I ate an “AndyDog*” from Fat Franks at noon;
- the familiar bings of a crosswalk signal as I wandered across downtown to a meeting;
- the two buskers in Central Station — who are always in Central Station at the end of each and every work day — playing their guitars, strumming out the same Counting Crows covers;
- three sciencey-type articles from the audio edition of The Economist via my iPhone as I plodded through the commute;
- again, the CBC news broadcast in my car as I drove to my running clinic;
- the exercise-induced huff-puff-huff-puff of the eleven runners out doing our first night of many hill training nights, barely breathing as we reached the top of the climb on our last circuit;
- the podcast edition of “The Age of Persuassion” as I ate my supper recently rewarmed from the microwave;
- Claire, from her bedroom where she should be sleeping, asking dozens of delay-tactic questions followed by “goodnight! seeyouinthemorning daddy!”; and
- a selection of random electronica playing right now from my computer’s speakers…
Yeah. Just a smattering of random things. (I’m going to go play now.)
*AndyDog: The Art Gallery has an Andy Warhol exhibit on right now so Fat Franks, the hot dog street vendor, is selling a promotional/special so-called AndyDog which consists of a european weiner, a pickle, mustard, onions, and crushed potato chips. I thought I’d explain because I couldn’t find any reference to this having any sort of real meaning to anything relating to Andy Warhol via a Google search… but I might just be lazy.
Claire has a list of new words she loves to say. Thanks to the visitation of her grandparents and aunt, up to this weekend she has added or improved (with her own toddler-play on each, of course): auntie, grandpa, grandma, run, daddy run, snap, sparkle, arm, bowl, apple, fish, cheese, a variety of letters of the alphabet, the first line of about six songs, and just about too many others to keep listing them here, really.
We actually got out of the house and saw two shows this weekend. “Doubt: A Parable” at the citadel was enjoyable and was a multi-layered commentary on experience, respect, evidence, hierarchy, and lost innocence. “Annie” playing at the Jube, was just Annie. It was good, and the under-plot of mid-depression-era politics felt particularly prescient for some reason.
A reminder… PhotoShootChallenge #3 is at the half-way point. It’s never too early to submit your entries!
I ran the St. Patrick’s Day 10 K run on Sunday morning. When I woke up I was slightly motivated by the lack of overnight snow. But by the time we were standing on the start line it was chilly and the near-blizzard conditions left a visibility who’s only advantage was that we couldn’t see the upcoming hills. I finished in a little more than an hour. Best. 10k time. Ever. (For me anyhow!) My crew is now talking half-marathon clinic starting mid-April — but my sanity isn’t entirely sold.
Had a great meal at New Asian Village on Saturday evening. It’s always great when one goes to a curry buffet, though.
Try as I might I can’t keep up to my Audible credits. I’ve got about two hours left on my current listen, and another two waiting in queue (thanks to a six-month-membership-anniversary freebie). Top that off with the fact I’ve got two pending and unspent credits, I’m gonna need to take a week off just to listen to audio books. Suggestions on good reads or listens?
We’ve unofficially started potty training. Enough said.
We finalized our bookings for Vegas in July. Flights, hotel, and event all bought and paid for. I guess there is no backing out now — at least not without cancellation charges.
Spent some quality moments with Mario Kart Wii this weekend: I finally unlocked all the tracks. It’s not a matter of sucking at the game, but rather it’s a matter of moderate inadequacy mixed with a decided lack of free time.
Someday soon I will find time for a good night’s sleep, too. Someday.