darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Now playing in my Audible library: Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Liz (I call her Liz) says a whole bunch of the things Steven Pressfield said in his wonderful The War of Art, but I vastly prefer the way she says them. Pressfield uses a lot of sports and war metaphors that don't resonate much with me. Liz, as you might expect from the author of a book called Eat, Pray, Love, has a more spiritual and nurturing approach.

But they both talk about creativity and fear, and they both have a primarily writerly bias, so they're both inspiring to me in their ways.

Liz, more than Pressfield, focuses on creative self-expression no matter what. She specifically does not talk about "winning". Her anecdotes don't end in, "and then she won a Pulitzer," but rather in, "and then she was happy".

Both of them embrace a concept of inspiration as a real, living thing, existing independently outside of us, and interacting with us. I like that. For Pressfield it's the Muse; for Liz, "ideas". Pressfield sidles up to the metaphysical in a slightly embarrassed way, whereas Liz has it right in her book title: Magic.

Big Magic is read (wonderfully) by the author. It runs about five hours. It's fantastic for me as a writer. I'd think it would be inspiring to anyone who makes anything for any purpose.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Listening to fiction )

Listening to nonfiction )

Watching TV )

Watching a movie )

Reading things )

And, a propos of very little:

My fellow Fanmericans - The State of Our Union is...#SuperSleepy is canon! May God ship you & may God ship the United States of Fanmerica

(@TheOrlandoJones tonight on Twitter)
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Oh look. A new take on The Three Musketeers.

Musketeers )

Anyway, it was fun and I enjoyed it and it has huge fannish potential (as attested to by a flood of Tumblr posts today), and I'll probably watch the next two eps. It's certainly wonderfully filthy and muddy and harsh and the locations are gorgeous and the costumes: so much leather OMG.

Pirates )

Seriously, Audible, and publishers, and whatever corporate intellectual property bullshit concerns: you can't give me books 1, 2, and 3 of a series then withhold book 4 and expect me to just wait like a good girl. So please don't expect that.
darkemeralds: Image of an open book whose pages are turning into wings and flying away (Winged book)
Currently on the beside table, Kindle app, and Audible player: )

And in lighter reading: I'm back on a Supernatural kick. [livejournal.com profile] roxymissrose has some great classic recs here--Amnesia fics. It's a whole category. God, I love fandom.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Current audiobook: Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things, read by Juliet Stevenson. I never felt the faintest desire to read Eat, Pray, Love and my only exposure to the author's work is her well-known TED talk on creativity. I'm glad I took the plunge. Signature is a terrific novel (so far--I'm about a third of the way into it).

The Signature of All Things )

Current Bingewatch on Netflix: Arrow Season 1. Cheesetastic but good in unexpected ways. The acting is stronger than I would have expected from a CW Parade of Beauty, and the writing veers all over the place from comic-book operatic to really solid. I'm way more interested in it than I thought I'd be.

Current Book: Dawn Powell's The Wicked Pavilion. Published in 1954, forgotten by 1965, and revived in recent years. Powell has a snarky, trenchant style, a bit Dorothy Parker-esque, very New York. My niece living in New York City recommended it and I can see its literary worth while not, strictly speaking, enjoying it.

Current Fic: I'm off fic at the moment. Open to suggestions, though.

Current Shows: Agents of SHIELD is growing on me a little. I said I'd give it six eps, so it's got one more chance to really hook me in. The new season of Grimm started off with a bang last night. Still enjoying Elementary. Loving Sleepy Hollow in spite of myself.
darkemeralds: Image of an open book whose pages are turning into wings and flying away (Winged book)
Current audiobook: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzai. I bought it on the strength of Malala's speech to the United Nations, and because the audiobook reader is Archie Panjabi.

Malala's personal story is interspersed with political, geographical and historical detail. It's hard to escape a sense that this young woman is being swept along by the western publicity machine--maybe willingly, as she makes no secret of wanting to be the next Benazir Bhutto--but her story comes across as authentic all the same. I've learned more about Pakistan and the Taliban in a few hours of listening to this audiobook than I picked up in all the years after 9/11.

Malala herself reads her prologue, and it's interesting that Archie Panjabi, in reading the rest of the book, chose to replicate her youthful tone and, to some degree, her accent. It's very nicely done.

Current book: Captive Prince, Volume 2 by S.U. Pacat. It's good--everyone who recommended it was right. Self-published on Amazon and now picked up by Penguin, it's a fast-moving sort-of-medieval-alternate-universe where there's a lot of slavery and a lot of non-heterosexual sex and a whole lot of political intrigue. There's a long, slow-burn romance between the two leads (the captive prince of the title, and his captor, the crown prince of the enemy state) that is really compelling. The characterization of the crown prince is fascinating, and I can't be the only reader picturing Tom Hiddleston playing him. (Yes, Tom's too old. So what.)

My only real quibble with it--one that I hope an editor at Penguin will help sort out--is that it's slightly under-written. Its narrative is so stripped down, and so many characters, important places, plot points and political factions are introduced with less than a full sentence, that I've felt completely lost a few times. Had to go back and re-read Volume 1 and half of Volume 2 before I could continue. Not that I minded.

In fact I'm not quite finished with Volume 2 and I'm trying to stretch it out, because there's a Volume 3 that isn't out yet.
darkemeralds: Poster image of farm-fresh food (Eat Food)
I just finished Michael Pollan's newest book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation and I liked it so much that I went back to Chapter 1 and started it over.

Cooked )

Note: the audiobook is read by the author, who does a terrific job. And there's a story in it about a pig named Kosher. Kosher: The Porcine Prometheus.

It's a really good book.

Listening

Apr. 27th, 2013 10:26 pm
darkemeralds: An old book whose spine reads Signsls and Cyphers, with the text DarkEmeralds (Cyphers)
Just finished my third and probably final pass through Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler.

I first listened to this one about three years ago, and one of the authors' key findings left a big impression: that your position in your social network a) has a lot of influence over your well-being and b) is partly heritable. If you're peripheral (few friends, weak ties, less able to benefit from the network), there's an even chance that you were born that way.

This notion planted a seed in my brain that's borne some interesting fruit. A vague sense that asexuality and "attachment disorder" (god I hate that term) might be related to network position has led me to a lot of research and some new ideas about myself and how maybe I don't need fixing. (My post about my simple mind the other day may be loosely bound in this constellation too.)

It's a fascinating book. For a short version covering the high points for free, Christakis gives an entertaining TED talk, and a more sciencey TED talk.
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I just finished listening to The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond, he of Guns, Germs and Steel fame. It's...I'm not quite sure what it is. Four books in one, I guess. Lots of cultural anthropology about New Guinea, a diatribe about diet and exercise, a warning about not romanticizing small non-state societies, and a bit of a rant about logical vs illogical safety precautions.

I think I enjoyed it despite its multiple personality disorder. Diamond makes a fairly good case for selectively adopting the wisdom of our hunter-gatherer brethren into our WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) lives: aspects of their child-rearing methods, elder care, and (surprisingly) safety standards, and a big chunk of their diet.

The World Until Yesterday is alternately amusing, interesting, and tiresome--really a mixed bag--but overall worth a read/listen if you're into this kind of "let's look at humanity's long history and draw some conclusions for modern life" type of thing, which I am.

The audiobook is very competently and unobtrusively narrated by Jay Snyder.

Outtake

Apr. 8th, 2012 10:05 pm
darkemeralds: Jared Padalecki laughing, with text MIAEL, Mine Is An Evil Laugh. (Laugh)
Here's an outtake from my reading of John James's The Great Field. It was too silly to throw away. Length: 17 seconds.

darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I've begun work on a non-fandom audiobook, and before I get too far into it, I feel I need some opinions other than my own in order to improve.

If you
  • have the time and inclination to listen to a 21-minute file and write me some spot concrit
  • listen to podfic or pro audiobooks enough to know what works and doesn't work for you
  • like non-fiction
  • don't mind material of a spiritual nature
I'd love to get some feedback.

My reading is the intro and first chapter of The Great Field by John James. I'm not authorized to record it and this isn't a "real" recording job, it's just me starting out.

I'm looking for comments on my reading (speed, interpretation, voice quality, language clarity, suitability to the text, etc.) and the recording (editing, sound quality, volume, noise, etc.). My recording setup is amateur, to say the least, but given that constraint, I'm trying for a professional nonfiction audiobook style, so I'm truly looking for improvement.

I've got nothing to offer in exchange except my gratitude, but there would be lots and lots of that!
darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)
In the last few days I've been indulging what seems to have been a pent-up appetite for mainstream media.

Books, shows, movies... )
darkemeralds: Photo of a microphone with caption Read Me a Story. (Podfic)
My week's vacation has been filled with good things: long bike rides in bright, cold sunshine, lots of knitting, a visit to my good friend [personal profile] roseambr (who is housebound following some foot surgery), a session with a spiritual healer, and some really good reading.

I knit Stephen King into my new fisherman sweater. )

I made significant progress on my current knitting project, a pale-gray Aran-style cardigan, while listening to 11-22-63 (that is a really hard title to hold in the mind!), and now Jake Epping/George Amberson, the Yellow Card Man, and the tail-fins of 1950s American gas-guzzlers are entwined in the moss-stitch and cables of the left sleeve.

It's cold and sunny again today and I'm going out in a few minutes to treat myself to a pedicure.

Then I'm gonna start on Death Comes to Pemberley. I'll get back to non-fiction next week.
darkemeralds: An old book whose spine reads Signsls and Cyphers, with the text DarkEmeralds (Cyphers)
Stress, weakened eyesight, busy-ness, online activity, sore hands, fanfic, annoyance at technology, an internet-induced attention deficit, and probably a few other things have all conspired in recent years to curtail my reading of books.

Lately, though, I've sort of taken it up again, this book-reading thing. [personal profile] ravurian has heckled me into a bunch of it, actually going so far as to send me books.

I was gonna list a bunch of them here, but then I got all knotted up over fiction vs nonfiction and paper books vs ebooks vs audiobooks, and then I realized that if you count audiobooks, I've never stopped "reading", and if things like lectures and podcasts count as audiobooks, my absorption of material has been pretty good all along.

And of course, if you count fanfic, which...why would you not, really?...well, I read more than I thought I did.

But still, I was sitting up in bed last night with a nice bright reading light on, and a cat nearby, and a real book* in hands whose achy joints I was completely ignoring, and it was really nice.

*Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Witi Ihimaera.
darkemeralds: Baby picture of DarkEm with title 'Interstellar Losers Club' and caption 'Proud Member' (Geekery)
I'm listening to What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, an examination of the relationship among technology, human culture, and evolution. The chapter I was listening to last night on the ride home was about Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, and his anti-technology manifesto.

Tonight it was the Amish (among whom the author has spent a lot of time).

It's compelling stuff, very persuasive, so there are some parts where I'm going, "Oh no! Please don't tell me I have to turn off the internet!" and some parts where I'm going, "Yay! I don't have to give up my phone! Even the Amish use cellular phones!"

And all the while, I'm listening to this audiobook on my new cellphone, which is so amazing and shiny and dopamine-inducing that I'm like a character on that dumb episode of ST:TNG called "The Game" where the discs went into the tubes and you got a rush off it.

It is a really cool device. I'm going to go read some Sherlock Holmes off it now.
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
I just finished Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler, and found it such compelling food for thought that I turned around and dived into What Technology Wants, by Kevin Kelly.

Sometimes I get in these moods.

Connected )
What Technology Wants )

Fires

Nov. 5th, 2009 11:08 am
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Bonfire Night! I won't pretend to get all the nuances of Guy Fawkes Day, having lived in England for only one of them, but I love my annual chance to use this icon. *waves to all her UK friends*

Speaking of fire, I'm reading/listening to The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, by Timothy Egan, the surprisingly thrilling and subtextually homoerotic history of the founding of the United States Forest Service.

I know, right? But the friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot was passionate and deep, and founded on a love of the American West that gave rise to the very concept of conservationism in the US. (I've lived near the Gifford Pinchot National Forest most of my life, and didn't know until this week that Gifford Pinchot was just, this guy, you know?)

Egan uses a devastating forest fire that burned much of northern Idaho and Montana in 1910, as the linchpin of his story--it's the kind of book that starts with a vivid and horrifying description of the approach of a disaster--the titular fire--then goes back in time and traces the threads that led up to that disaster and its importance as "the fire that saved America". I still don't know whether the town survived!

[ETA: [livejournal.com profile] nwhepcat has been there! It lives! Wallace, Idaho.]

The audiobook is read by Roberston Dean, whom I know nothing about except that he has a deep, rich, James-Earl-Jones-ish voice that's wonderful to listen to.

Highly recommended.

Nudged!

Oct. 23rd, 2007 10:49 am
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] serenity_valley hath nudged me.

::waves at [livejournal.com profile] serenity_valley::

She noticed that my last post was eight weeks ago. Here's why:
  1. Deadlines
  2. Another hard drive crash, this one unrecoverable
  3. Economy
  4. Leg-warmers
  5. His Dark Materials


1. Three weeks of deadline-meeting work on the project, involving evenings and weekends--I mean, evenings and weekends actually spent in the office. Working. It throws a person off, you know?

2. It's amazing how oddly floaty and cut-off I feel, having lost all my email and about a year's writing. Fifty bucks' worth of backup software and an hour's attention could have prevented this. Again. But no. Denial is a powerful force. I have finally established a regular backup procedure.

3. I'm starting to understand what "fixed income" means. The spending power of my salary has stagnated for years and is starting to creep backwards. So I'm eschewing both driving and restaurants. I've been spending a lot more time cooking and not-driving than I used to. Given number 1, above, there have been days when I've brought my breakfast, lunch, and dinner to work with me in a bag. On the bus.

4. My dancer niece tells me that leg-warmers are back in style. Oh yay. So I started knitting her a pair of stripey wool ones. And now I'm back on an obsessive knitting bender.

5. I've been listening to the marvelous audiobook version of Phillip Pullman's fantasy trilogy for the last few weeks. It's a challenging story that takes up a lot of mind-space. I want a daemon of my own!

And also? Dumbledore is gay. How cool is that?

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