The Kentucky Derby #Goodreads

Horses

Audiobooks

Won by JUSTIFY, trained by Bob Baffert, who also trained AMERICAN PHAROAH. The horse AUDIBLE placed third. From ESPN producer and Audible narrator Barry Abrams, whose last narration was Awakening Storm: “Audible should have won. He was the best of Todd Pletcher’s four horses. He showed an ability to succeed either by racing just behind the leaders or coming from much further back, so he had versatility.” Barry has a podcast on iTunes called IN THE GATE, about horseracing. “Justify your love” by joining Audible and downloading American Pharoah, and get it and another free in the process.  

 

Animal rights

In America dogs eat better than kids. Dog food is often 100% grass fed, “grain free.” McDonalds is grain fed. Relevant books: Fast Food Nation, Sugar Fat Salt, Brandwashed, The Filter Bubble, Future CrimesCoffee? Time to wake up.

Peter Berkrot Interview

Peter Berkrot

Jonathan Lowe) How did you come to voice acting? 

Peter Berkrot) I started acting and training in New York in 1973 when I was in 13 or 14, so how I came to voice acting is like how I came to Massachusetts or marriage. The longer the trail, the more paths there are. My focus then was theatre, of course. I was a theatre major at SUNY New Paltz but when I was cast in Caddyshack halfway through college, I began to see my career through a more expansive lens. The majority of voice work came when I left New York in 1989 and moved to New England. Very soon, I was doing VO work for documentaries, occasionally playing the American translation voice for the on camera speakers. That eventually translated into a great relationship at WGBH in Boston where I’ve been doing that type of work for FRONTLINE since 2004.

JL) Wow. A fav movie, and a fav PBS series! Bannon’s War? As a footnote, I once communicated with Frontline’s main narrator Will Lyman, who also did the voiceover for Jonathan Goldsmith, the World’s Most Interesting Man, who has a biography out titled Stay Interesting, which Goldsmith reads on audio. Interesting story, too. Jonathan says he was living out of his truck, and was killed on screen as an extra more than anyone, until that Dos Equis commercial. Lyman can’t talk about it, still under contract. Other formats? Commercials, games, documentaries?

PB) There was a ton of industrial work in the 90’s and 00’s so I did all sorts of on camera and VO work, often playing characters with a variety of dialects. Then I did a bunch of local games, creating a character called “I.M. Meen” at the end of the MS-DOS revolution. Google it. People have taken my song and twisted it around so I’m saying all sorts of nasty things. I started looking into audiobooks in 2006 and did my first in 2007.

JL) You recorded The Art of War, which is Trump’s favorite book, and a big seller. Any thoughts to share on the Machiavellian Sun Tzu philosophy, and if you think it relates in any way to Leadership and Self Deception, or maybe the stress levels described in Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, both of which you’ve also narrated?

PB) I was lucky enough to come of age between wars so I never experienced the horrors of war either first or second hand. I actually always feel a bit like a fraud when I’m playing all the real life and fictitious Navy Seals and marines I do in books. For The ART OF WAR I found that I was most authentic after channelling my inner Klingon, giving context I could understand to experiences I could not. As for this being trump’s favorite book, an oxymoron if I ever heard (or met) one, I would be astonished if he ever read a book cover to cover that didn’t include instructions on connecting the dots. It is a favorite of some of the greatest warriors, generals and military strategists in history and that’s part of his delusion so no doubt he said that. I bet his other favorite is the Bible.

JL) Yes, but he couldn’t name a favorite verse.

PB) If he were somehow “clockwork oranged” and forced to read the whole book, there is no indication that he understood a single concept based on how he conducts himself. I’m sure his lawyer’s lawyer’s spokesman would agree. As for LEADERSHIP AND SELF DECEPTION, unlike many self-help books in the Business category which are about leveling the playing field and getting the edge on the competition, this is a much more spiritual approach to leadership, asking the listener to look within him or herself to deeply evaluate ones relationship to oneself, to others, to work and so forth. It is about growing and getting out of your own way and not blaming or undermining anyone else along the way. It’s tremendous popularity is probably attributed to the creative prose which is a series of scripted scenes and opportunities for self evaluation. There actually are some connections between THE ART OF WAR and WHY ZEBRAS DON’T GET ULCERS, although it may seem to be reaching. The ability to reduce stress will add years to your life. Planning for every contingency in battle and holding the better defensive position requires a calm and logical mind as well as strength and resolve. In Dr. Sapolsky’s book, he brilliantly illustrates through the explanation of his title why we can also live longer, though the war is internal. Stress is supposed to be a survival mechanism. If you’re a zebra running from a lion, you absolutely require the adrenaline and hormonal barrage that stress brings to make sure you’re not the slowest zebra in the herd. The moment the threat is gone, the stress levels drop to neutral and the zebra renews his strolling and grazing. A human being would lie there on the steppes and worry about the next lion until one came and he’s ‘run and worry and run and worry’ until eventually, he’d die of a heart attack or diabetes.

JL) We’d eat pizza too while worrying. Comfort food. What did you read as a teen that may have influenced you?

PB) I loved series books as most kids do. And Dr. Seuss. But I was 6 or 7 when the original STAR TREK hit the air and 12 or 13 when I saw my first Twilight Zone. Those were my major influences which drew me from the small screen to the small page. I started writing a lot of Horror and Science Fiction stories, big on time travel. Then the real reading kicked in. Robert Heinlein’s STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND was huge for me and everything by Kurt Vonnegut. Then Catch-22 and Stephen King.

JL) You narrated a couple of Richard Matheson titles, who was a short story master, like Ray Bradbury. You’ve also done Philip K. Dick and Dean Koontz. That’s a lot of genres under the umbrella “speculative fiction.” Any preferred genre?  

PB) Yes! Time Travel! Anything related to time travel! Watching STAR TREK and TWILIGHT ZONE naturally led me to Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov. Of all the comic books I read as a kid I liked Legion of Super Heroes best because they were in the future. When I get to narrate anything by Philip K. Dick or the others in this genre, I feel it as an honor and a challenge, a thread connecting me to my past and my future.

JL) Another footnote, did you know Harlan Ellison is an audiobook narrator too, and he knows the scoop on both Star Trek and Scientology first hand? His tell-all is the audiobook The City on the Edge of Forever, the story behind the script he wrote. He actually saved Star Trek from cancellation, early on, by petitioning for it. Bradbury helped launch Playboy magazine, too. Fahrenheit 451 was first published in the first issues. What is next for you?

PB) In terms of books, “Caddyshack, The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story” by Chris Nashawaty is just released, certainly the most personal and bizarre narrating experience I had, especially quoting myself. Next I go into the booth to record BLOWN by Mark Haskell Smith, the sixth novel of his I have had the extraordinary pleasure of narrating. Funniest. Guy. Ever. Then, the opposite. The brilliantly crafted but emotionally shattering memoir THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT by Robert Goolrick for HighBridge Audio. And then I’ll be spending 46 hours with Dwight D. Eisenhower courtesy of Audible Studios. More books. More teaching! I haven’t talked about my teaching or private coaching but its one of my strengths and passions. More Skyping, and maybe one day I’ll save up enough money to do a play again. While I can still memorize. And walk.

JL) I once saw a woman walk into a tree while reading a print book. As I passed her with my iPod, I said one word: “Audiobooks.” Thanks for taking time for an interview.

Happy World Book Day

Ariana Grande

Reading list?

Going Postal in the News

Audible

Postmarked for Death now at Audible. A postal clerk in Tucson targets government offices and mail processing equipment supporting food stamps and Mexican immigrants near the border fence/wall. He is hunted by a rookie postal inspector while police search for the wrong man. (Calvin continues to work and mail letter bombs, with a patsy/fellow postal worker framed and tied up in an abandoned Titan missile base in the desert just north of Nogales.) A psychological suspense told from two viewpoints, with a look into the mind of the bomber (who realizes that shooters are committing suicide!) Based on actual postal shootings, like the one in Edmond Oklahoma that killed 14, and the Unabomber. New to audio, read by Len Cassamas. “A class performance, powerful and accomplished. Mystery at its best.” –Clive Cussler  

USA Today

Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a visually intensive “blast.” Stephen Spielberg pulled off many amazing stunts and scenes, utilizing the latest special effects technology. The look of the film, which seems to have an unlimited budget, is designed to capture gamers and video game lovers attention. Lots of virtual reality weapons, car and truck racing, explosions, and many movies playing a part like a Disney theme park come to life. (The Shining was particularly effective and fun.) My favorite scene was when Chucky and a emoji attack players. Their real world is broken, and depressing. Slum trailer parks and mansions, little in between. Based on the novel by Ernest Cline (narrated on audio by Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame), it features a USPS van driven at the climax by the heroes, who are being attacked by corporate killers. The message of the film is that “VR is not reality, only reality is real.” So in a way it takes the path of Avatar, drama and romance and war, ending with food for thought. The switch from first person shooters to adventure games with puzzles may get some fans to switch from thinking “Reality is Broken” as an escape to thinking “Reality can be fixed. Let’s do it.” 

Playing with Fire

Audio Drama

Click on image above for link to the Radio Drama, which is downloadable for your local radio station or website. Produced for Sun Sounds Radio for the Blind (art museum related horror,) with a link to the charity. Free download; several others are there too. Full cast and sound. In news, my novel Awakening Storm has been released at Audible, narrated by ESPN horse racing producer and voiceover talent Barry Abrams. 

Barry Abrams

Hurricane Season

Audiobook News

Audiobooks

Even the ones which get the boot are worth a look, or listen…

Through the Audie Awards® competition, publishers enter titles in various categories for recognition of excellence. Finalists are selected by a diverse group of experienced judges and one winner is awarded the Audie in each category. Finalists for Industry Awards for Excellence in Design, Marketing, and Production and for Audiobook of the Year announced. For more information and to see a list of all of the nominees, visit www.theaudies.com.

Some of the nominees we recommend are:  Glass Houses by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio / How to Work for an Idiot (Revised and Expanded with More Idiots, More Insanity, and More Incompetency): Survive and Thrive Without Killing Your Boss by John Hoover, narrated by Brian Sutherland, published by Audible Studios / Peak Performance by Brad Stullberg and Steve Magness, narrated by Christopher Lane, published by Brilliance Publishing / The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss, narrated by Kate Reading, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Beartown by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Code Girls by Liza Mundy, narrated by Erin Bennett, published by Hachette Audio / Carpet Diem: Or…How to Save the World by Accident by Justin Lee Anderson, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies, published by Tantor Audio, a division of Recorded Books / The Handmaid’s Tale: Special Edition by Margaret Atwood and Valerie Martin, narrated by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, and a full cast, published by Audible Studios / Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope, narrated by David Shaw-Parker, published by Naxos AudioBooks / The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, narrated by Ruthie Ann Miles, Kimiko Glenn, and others, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Macmillan Audio / Nevertheless We Persisted, edited by Tanya Eby: Blunder Woman Productions / Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A. Romero, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Rex Linn, Gabrielle de Cuir, Adenrele Ojo, Richard Gilliland, Ray Porter, Kristoffer Tabori, and Kasey Lansdale, published by Blackstone Publishing / Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy, published by Listening Library / Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork, narrated by Roxana Ortega and Christian Barillas, published by Scholastic Audio / Now, isn’t this all “The Voice” for Voice Actors? Somebody call Adam Levine. Today is his birthday. On today, March 18, if you say, “Alexa, Hello,” into your Amazon Echo, she will tell you this. Scary? She’s an AI. What happens when AI happens for real, with real emotions? Real narrations, robot actors? For now, Alexa can play your Audible audiobooks, and keep track of chapters and how much time is left in the book! AGT.

Whiskey Business

If your audiobook doesn’t win, you could turn to whiskey. Whiskey Business, that is! An audiobook narrated by Barry Abrams. A Powerball winner was announced today, too. Consolation prize? Or you could win next time.

 

Interview with Ctein

Ctein

Ctein has a double-degree from Caltech in English and Physics. He has written over 500 articles, columns, books, and manuals on photographic topics, and done research in everything from solar astronomy to computer screens, and from the seventy-year-old dye transfer printmaking process to state-of-the-art electronic color displays. He has made new discoveries about ordinary B&W photographic printing and new designs for computer printers. Most recently, he became a novelist, co-authoring Saturn Run with John Sandford, and is hard at work on a new novel, a disaster thriller, with Scifi author David Gerrold (who, among many novels, wrote “The Trouble with Tribbles” script for Star Trek.) 

Jonathan Lowe) How did your book collab with John Sandford come about? I heard he wrote you, and you didn’t want to do it at first, money being “the root of all evil.”

Ctein) This is, in fact, 99% true. We concatenated a couple of different conversations for the sake of narrative, and I never said money was the root of all evil. John stuck that in – he thought it amusing, but it is true to life.

Lowe) And the new book project? Not with Sandford?

Ctein) No. After Saturn Run, I had an idea for a natural disaster thriller, based upon a paper that appeared in Nature about 15 years ago – a computer model of what kind of tidal wave would occur after a major Hawaiian offshore landslide, which happens every couple of hundred thousand years. John wasn’t available to write another book with me. He and I like working together, but he’s contractually obligated to turning out two of his series novels a year, and there are only so many hours in the day. We may well work together at some point in the future. I’ve got this idea for next book. I could write it myself, but it happens I like collaborating. More fun. About the time the Saturn Run was coming out a long time good friend of mine and science fiction author David Gerrold asked me if I might be interested in having him as a collaborator at some point. So I rung him up on the phone, pitched the natural disaster novel idea to him and asked him if he’d be interested in doing something like that, and he said hell yes. The new novel is tentatively titled “Ripple Effect” and it’s about 75% done. Can’t tell you when it will come out, but I’m hoping within a year. In the meantime, a 35,000 word excerpt from it that stands on its own will be appearing in the May/June issue of Asimov’s science fiction magazine under the title “Bubble & Squeak.” To be clear, Ripple Effect isn’t science fiction. It’s a contemporary natural disaster thriller, set a few years from now for convenience, but it doesn’t make particular use of that. But it is hard science – all the actual disaster/geology stuff is as accurate as we know how to make it.

Lowe) Sounds great. Look forward to it. Do you have a mentor or someone who influenced you to write? Mine was Ray Bradbury, who answered every letter I wrote him as a teen fan.

Ctein) I met Ray Bradbury when I was in college. Several of us got to go out to dinner with him. It was not long after I had decided that my chosen career would be photographer, not physicist, and nobody was objecting but it was not the sort of thing that one got a lot of  explicit support for at Caltech. After dinner, Ray asked us what we planned to do with our lives. He got to me and I very hesitantly said, “Well, I was planning on becoming a photographer.” Ray clapped his hands and boisterously exclaimed, “Good for you!” It was the first time anyone had shown enthusiasm over my choice. It made a huge difference to me. That is why my first book was dedicated to Ray Bradbury.

Lowe) As was one of mine! Incredible. It’s a small world, after all. Thanks.

Saturn Run

Science Fiction

Vintage scifi, with a early Ray Bradbury story. Note AE Van Vogt. His novel “Voyage of the Space Beagle” (Darwin’s ship) inspired the Alien series. His estate sued, and Ridley Scott settled out of court. The new HBO series Fahrenheit 451 was inspired by a story Ray wrote called “The Pedestrian,” which later featured David Ogden Stiers in a Bradbury TV series, and foretold driverless cars and drones. The drone helicopter, piloted by a robot, takes two men out for a walk (instead of watching sports on their “viewing screens” –flat screen TVs) to the “Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.” The 2002 movie Equilibrium, starring Christian Bale, is another reinterpretation on Fahrenheit 451…this time featuring burning and guns. It is also interesting to note that “Voyage of the Space Beagle” inspired David Gerrold. His seeing “The Man Trap” on Star Trek caused him to submit his “The Trouble with Tribbles” script, and the “The Man Trap” was inspired by the Van Vogt novel. Gerrold also used the animal, a “Coeurl” in his book “A Season for Slaughter,” which is the creature’s name in the Van Vogt novel. Trivia, but interesting, no?