Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Carol Burnett, Carrie Fisher, Gilmore Girls

“This book contains some stories from my life: the awkward growing up years, the confusing dating years, the fulfilling working years, and what it was like to be asked to play one of my favorite characters again. You probably think I’m talking about my incredible achievement as Dolly in Hello, Dolly! as a Langley High School junior, a performance my dad called ‘you’re so much taller than the other kids.’ But no! I’m talking about Lorelai Gilmore, who, back in 2008, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see again. Also included: tales of living on a houseboat, meeting guys at awards shows, and that time I was asked to be a butt model. A hint: all three made me seasick.” — Lauren Graham Her new memoir is TALKING AS FAST AS I CAN, which she also reads. In THE PRINCESS DIARIST Carrie Fisher opens up on her personal past after finding a diary she kept at the time of the original Star Wars movie. Includes poems she wrote then, too! She was hired at age 19 by George Lucas, and no one expected the movie to become such a monster hit. "It was more than a movie," she says. "It was like being one of the Beatles." There was shampoo, and Pez dispensers. Everyone on planet Earth knew about the movie, except maybe lost tribes in the Amazon. (Don't go there.) How many movie directors could say that, then? (A new bio of George is out, too.) Carrie also describes how she and Ford came to accept the roles in the new remake, along with thoughts on fame, life, and acceptance that nothing lasts forever...except the movie itself. Carrie reads most of the book herself with a self deprecating charm and wit. The Boss also has a new bio out WHICH HE NARRATES, and Carol Burnett's autobiography IN SUCH GOOD COMPANY has just been nominated for a Grammy. To order these, click on the link to the upper right, or go to  

Sunday, November 27, 2016


There are many views of Castro, and it depends on who you ask. If you ask his former bodyguard there is this: In The Double Life of Fidel Castro, one of Castro’s soldiers of seventeen years breaks his silence and shares his memoir of years of service, and eventual imprisonment and torture for displeasing the notorious dictator, and his dramatic escape from Cuba. Responsible for protecting the Lider maximo for two decades, Juan Reinaldo Sanchez was party to his secret life–because everything around Castro was hidden. From the ghost town in which guerrillas from several continents were trained, to his immense personal fortune–including a huge property portfolio, a secret paradise island, and seizure of public money–as well as his relationship with his family and his nine children from five different partners.Sanchez’s tell-all exposé reveals countless state secrets and the many sides of the Cuban monarch: genius war leader in Nicaragua and Angola, paranoid autocrat at home, master spy, Machiavellian diplomat, and accomplice to drug traffickers. This extraordinary testimony makes us re-examine everything we thought we knew about the Cuban story and Fidel Castro Ruz. 40% Off download until Dec.1 in Cyber Monday Sale. Narrator Timothy Andrés Pabon is an English and Spanish-speaking voice-over artist who has worked extensively in advertising and audiobook narration.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE TALKING BOOK might have been titled “The Secret History of” since even spellcheck still wants to correct the word "audiobook," and even today there still lingers the idea that audiobooks are not books, although the industry is now a billion dollars in sales and growing since many busy people have less time to drop everything and read. Author Matthew Rubery probes not only the history of audiobooks, but sound recording back to Edison. He discusses in a more or less linear way how we got to now from the very beginning, with interesting side stories along the information highway. Audiobooks are still thought of as “cheating,” he says. Not real reading. "They are for blind people." At least that is the public perception among sighted people who haven’t tried them. And that’s a hefty percentage of the population still. If you go on Instagram you will find hundreds of book related accounts, but almost all of them are about print books, mine being a rare exception. But here’s the thing: we're all stuck in traffic, (which is how the commercial audiobook came to be back in the 1970s.) Some people, including a man who spearheaded the industry, were drivers tired of listening to talk radio and Top 40. They wanted to learn something new, to be entertained, and to exercise their imaginations. You can’t drive or walk or cook or bike (or fill-in-the-blank) while reading a print book accident free. You can’t people-watch or scenery watch. But you can get eyestrain, reading in sunlight on the beach. You can cause more trees to be cut down. You can limit your “reading” time to only a few books a year instead of dozens (or over a hundred in my case.) No longer are audiobooks dry reads, but they are read by professional voice actors (like the narrator of this one, Jim Denison.) Some celebrities narrate too, like Brad Pitt or Carrie Fisher or Bryan Cranston or Natalie Portman. In the science book “What Should We Be Worried About,” written by multiple scientists in various fields, one of the major themes is the glorification of ignorance. Americans are reading less, and relying more on what I call “McNews” sites or Youtube and Twitter. Fake experts offering up fake Flat Earth-like “news” (always with popup ads attached) are becoming more prevalent as time goes on, and this is causing people to become lost and to begin to believe anything that makes them feel good, whether it be myopic, jingoistic, or just egotistical. The solution to this mindset is audiobooks, not just print books. They free up time that is otherwise lost to the purpose of education and progress. Rubery’s audiobook version is a good way to become convinced of this, and to give audiobooks a try. Highly recommended, and a win/win. (Available as download or in CD or Mp3-CD formats. Click on title link above.)

Friday, November 18, 2016

FLYOVERS by Jeffrey Sweet (and other Dramas over America)

FLYOVERS is a relevant flashback drama that deserves a listen (as do many audio dramas produced by LA Theatre Works.) A renowned film critic returns to his small Ohio hometown for a high school reunion—and to make peace with his past. The town and most of his former classmates, including the school bully, have fallen on hard times, and the successful critic soon finds himself caught up in a culture clash of economics, sex and long-submerged resentment. A winner of the Joseph Jefferson Award for best new script. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Amy Morton, William Petersen, Linda Reiter and Marc Vann. The Los Angeles theatre company is world renowned for live drama performed radio style in front of an audience, employing many Hollywood regulars from John Lithgow and Lawrence Fishburne to Annette Benning and Hilary Swank. I once met Marsha Mason and theatre director Susan Albert Loewenberg at the Audie Awards, and their productions of plays by dramatists from Yasmina Reza to David Mamet to Neil Simon in their own venue are augmented by traveling programs in their Touring Program. Having written and co-produced a number of short radio dramas myself, I can relate to the fact that there is much work in post production to such plays, but they’re much fun, especially for audiences (and on audio as downloads.) Audio movies can be even more effective than visual movies, since you visualize (and exercise) your mind in the process. Support literacy by purchasing directly from small providers like this one instead of the media giants that spy you and sell your personal data to third parties. (You know who they are. Bigger isn’t better, anymore. Ask the author of Antifragile about that! Or the author of The Filter Bubble.) Only you can prevent the forest fires which the monopolies represent. So fire them for a change. It’s a win/win. (Oh, and if you want to read a passage from a book yourself to introduce something literate to the fake news on Youtube, send me your link, details here.) 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump Wins: Need Coffee?

From the New York Times–bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Where Good Ideas Come From, a look at the world-changing innovations we made while keeping ourselves amused. This lushly illustrated history of popular entertainment takes a long-zoom approach, contending that the pursuit of novelty and wonder is a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. Steven Johnson argues that, throughout history, the cutting edge of innovation lies wherever people are working the hardest to keep themselves and others entertained. Johnson’s storytelling is just as delightful as the inventions he describes, full of surprising stops along the journey from simple concepts to complex modern systems. He introduces us to the colorful innovators of leisure: the explorers, proprietors, showmen, scientists and artists who changed the trajectory of history with their luxurious wares, exotic meals, taverns, gambling tables, and magic shows. Johnson compellingly argues that observers of technological and social trends should be looking for clues in novel amusements. You’ll find the future wherever people are having the most fun. A well read (by George Newbern) and fascinating exploration of the quirky things that history holds...and our own future under Trump. (Order all audiobooks by clicking on the banner at the upper right.) 

Monday, October 31, 2016

MARS: Our Future on the Red Planet

MARS: Our Future on the Red Planet by Leonard David, narrated by Andrew Reilly. This is a National Geographic miniseries made into an official companion audiobook, three and a half hours on audio describing NASA’s plans and considerations in undertaking a mission to our nearest possibly habitable world (although Matt Damon didn’t have much luck.) While some scientists argue that we aren’t “there yet” in terms of technology (to be planning a Mars mission), others do want to go sooner rather than later (who knows when funding to NASA may dry up.) In an anti-science political environment it is difficult to imagine it would even happen, which is why NASA has gone on the offensive in capturing the public’s imagination with documentaries and pop science shows. This companion book describes the difficulties being encountered by scientists in fighting radiation, weightlessness, medical and psychological factors, equipment for life support, physics, food, and the scientific experiments they hope to conduct. Many robot missions have been to Mars, even from India and (soon) Dubai. Why go there with humans, other than for bragging purposes? “Hands” say the authors. Human hands operated by human minds actually working on the planet are the most needed tools. This is particularly useful for drilling operations, which robots have not done well. Surface water is nearly non-existent on Mars, and life improbable on the surface due to harsh conditions, but subsurface water is suspected for several reasons. And there is an abundant mineral that could be heated to release water. NASA is hoping to reach Mars with astronauts sometime in the next 25 years, if current technology improvements continue on track. Narrator Reilly is a skilled and listenable reader, a multilingual drama teacher who has traveled widely. Author David is an award-winning contributor to space related sites, and co-authored Buzz Aldrin’s biography.