Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Podcast files: irksome omissions

I've become a bit of a podcast junkie, especially since the electrical troubles started in my car and the radio/CD player no longer works. I just download podcasts on to my phone and listen to them as I drive. This helps me keep awake during my zero-dark-thirty commute to Port Townsend three days a week. If I'm really tired, it helps keep me awake on the way home, too.

Soon I hope to delve into the realm of podcasting myself, mostly as director/engineer for my historian husband who really needs to have one. That said, I listen to 'casts with an ear for what works and what doesn't; what seems smooth and professional, and what is grating and amateurish. I like short intros with minimal music. I like folks who get to the point and dig into it. I don't like constant background music in a 'cast longer than 30 seconds or so. I loathe team podcasters who talk over each other. I am utterly bored by teams who drone on about in jokes and digressions of digressions. I like people who keep up a steady pace without seeming rushed. I cringe at speakers who punctuate every single sentence with "um", "er", and "uh" over and over and over. Stop that.

I really appreciate folks who add album art to their files. It's one of those "metadata" things that really isn't that hard to add, and it makes for a nice "at a glance" visual branding thing on a smart phone or Mp3 player. I really REALLY appreciate folks who have taken the time to actually give their sound files titles, track numbers, and other markers. Again: this is not rocket science. It's really annoying to have to do this oneself so when one is perusing files on one's Mp3 player one sees things like "The Bobcast_Episode_12_flirting with quirts" instead of "TB20dkhfdkl19dl.mp3" or just "Bobcast". Note: don't go looking for a Bobcast, because I just made it up.

I will go so far as to make my own album art for a 'cast that I like enough to download several episodes of. I like to be organized.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Island ApartIsland Apart by Steven Raichlen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book resonated with me perhaps more than any other novel I have ever read. I'll still always have works like "Lord of the Rings" at the top of my favorites list, but LotR is more of a "I want to be there" and "this journey is important to me" kind of experience, "Island Apart" feels like the author got in to my head while he was writing and concocted a tale just for me. The setting, Martha's Vinyard, is an East Coast version of where I live in the Pacific Northwest. The male lead in the story is an extreme version of me: reclusive, introspective, and wary of painful contact with other humans. He's perfectly content in his solitude and comfortable living life his own way. The other islanders refer to him as "the Hermit", and it fits.

I'm a big fan of Rosamund Pilcher, and this is basically her style but told by a Yank in a Yank setting, with the requisite flashbacks to an earlier time and gentle explorations of interpersonal relationships in a colorful setting. Skillfully drawn characters galore. The female lead does a bit of overreacting at one point, dangerously close to the "psycho-harpies" who annoy me in cheap romance novels. But it's a brief, solitary moment and doesn't mar the story at all.

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