Archive for the ‘Recommendations’ Category

I was very happy to learn tonight that David Friedman (economics professor of libertarian bent and son of Milton Friedman to some, medieval recreationist “Cariadoc of the Bow” to others) has been podcasting his fantasy novel Harald.

I loved that book, because it’s bracing. It’s full of action and adventure, and can-do spirit. You won’t agree with everything the characters think and do; but they wouldn’t expect you to. It’s set in a heroic fantasy world, not in our Middle Ages; but it’s not the sort of heroic fantasy you’ve read before.

I look forward to listening to this book. Like many, I’ve sat by Cariadoc’s fire on a summer night in the Pennsylvania mountains and listened to the tales floating upward with the smoke. There aren’t many like him.

So enjoy a free audiobook! (And if you’d rather read the book for free than listen to it, it’s part of Baen’s Free Library, too.)


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Librivox: The Collected Works of St. Patrick(translated by Cecil Frances Alexander). Includes his letter to Coroticus, his Confessio, and “The Deer’s Cry”, the beautiful “breastplate” prayer (lorica) ascribed to him.

The Dead White Guys podcast (sadly deceased, but still a good source of free audiobooks) includes a three-part reading of the Confessio.

Tantor Media has a non-free audiobook of Philip Freeman’s bio, St Patrick of Ireland. Don’t know anything about the book, but Tantor does some very good readings.

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A Catholic Canadian has been doing a great series this Lent, uncovering and commenting on various Catholic media.ย  He did a post on Maria Lectrix on the 11th! So go forth and check it out, along with all the other days.
(Sorry I didn’t note it before. I’ve had a lot going on, and haven’t actually visited the podcast much lately except to post. Choir season and all that.)

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Mr. Ron’s Basement, for those unlucky enough not to know it and fortunate enough to have it all before them, is one of the earliest and best literary podcasts. Its mission is simple: to read forgotten short stories. The Basement is mostly full of funny tales, but there are also a good many serious ones. Occasionally Mr. Ron branches into novels. He adorns each podcast with good public domain or podcast-safe music, and discusses his unknown authors’ biographies. Mostly, though, he appears to have a lot of fun.

Maria Lectrix is not, to be honest, a podcast in what has come to be the full meaning of the word. I use podcasting as a method of distribution, not an artform; what I provide is something like a serialized audiobook service. That’s not a bad thing, but that’s all it is.

Mr. Ron has been creating something quite a bit more artistic, civilized, and difficult.

My thousandth segment was a mere matter of endurance. His thousandth episode will be a milepost of rare beauty and joy. Be sure to be there.

To Mr. Ron’s Basement, and to Mr. Ron! Ars longa!

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One of Chesterton’s many collections of short essays, Alarms and Discursions, is up on Librivox. For those who have a hard time getting into Chesterton, this may be an easier listen. Each essay is reminiscent of a nice long blog post from a quirky blogger.

You can also listen to Chesterton’s short book about, and called, Charles Dickens. This is neither a biography nor a work of scholarly criticism; it’s more of an appreciation, pointing out things Chesterton liked and found of interest.ย  But I think you’ll find it very insightful.

Stories from Pentamerone by Giambattista Basile is a collection of folktales and fairy tales from late Renaissance Italy. As with most early fairy tale collections, the stories were told and collected by adults for adults. Bad Things Happen. You’re probably better off listening to the stories and retelling them to kids yourself, rather than having them listen direct.

One of the odder consequences of putting audio files into the public domain is their appearance on E-Bay as CDs! The Librivox crew get this all the time. It’s not illegal, and most readers don’t worry about it so long as the CD sellers aren’t deceptive about their source of material. It’s a pity, though, that public libraries aren’t as savvy about putting public domain stuff to good use as E-Bay vendors are!

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From our favorite chanting Brazilian monks, here are the chants for Mass on Ash Wednesday, along with handy scriptural citations! (In Latin, that is… but hey, otherwise it’d be in Portuguese!) You can get lyrics and translation of Office hymns at the good old Latin Prayers site, and Vultus Christi has brand new translations. Vatican Radio has .rm files of the Liturgy of the Hours from Rome.

While we’re at it, here’s an interesting page on a Polish musical traditionย  — a service in prayer, song, chant, prose, and poetry called the Lenten Lamentations.

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“On the Duties of the Clergy” by St Ambrose.

Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys by Amelia B. Edwards. Before she did Egypt (and inspired Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody) in A Thousand Miles Up the Nile, Edwards explored the South Tyrol region of Italy.

History of Holland by George Edmundson.

Dream Days by Kenneth Grahame. Children’s fiction and essays. Includes “The Reluctant Dragon”.

“Red Shadows” by Robert E. Howard. From the creator of Conan. Puritan adventurer Solomon Kane tracks his prey over land and sea and defies gods — all to avenge a woman he’d never met before.

Wonderwings and Other Fairy Stories by Edith Howes.

Chamber Music by James Joyce. A 1907 collection of his poems.

The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Thoughts of the Stoic emperor.

Brewster’s Millions by George Barr McCutcheon. A young man must go through a huge amount of money in one month to inherit an even greater sum.Yes, they made a movie out of it.

Anthem by Ayn Rand. Science fiction work by that crazy philosopher chick. Worth downloading, if only to know what the Rand fans get so excited about. (It has its moments, but you have to live in a culture that’s in pretty bad trouble to find Rand’s philosophy at all convincing or inspiring.)

The Moon Metal by Garrett P. Serviss. Early science fiction from an old school astronomer.

Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum. If you want to learn about self-reliance, read this real life adventure, published in 1899.

The Fur Country by Jules Verne. Weird stuff happens, and it’s by Verne. Do you need to know more?

The King of Schnorrers and The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill. A hilarious satire and a clever mystery novel, by an extremely interesting Victorian writer.

Old Indian Legends by Zitkala-Sa. 14 Dakota legends.

I should also note that a good chunk of the Bible is available from Librivox: the translations used are the American Standard Version and the World English Bible. There are also works up in many languages: French, Finnish, German, Chinese, and Japanese. There’s even a book in Old Church Slavonic.

Anybody can submit audiobook readings in any language, as long as they are reading something in the public domain.

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Sorry, folks. I think I’d better just adjourn the podcast for the week. Next weekend, I’ll feel better.

Meanwhile, the folks at Librivox have finished reading an unabridged English translation by John Ormsby of Don Quixote. Your literature teacher will love to point this out as an anti-chivalry book; but really, I think it’s the Northanger Abbey of knightly romances. As we all know, you can’t really mock a genre effectively unless you’ve read a ton of it…. ๐Ÿ™‚ What’s more (as Chesterton pointed out), Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a great knight and gentleman himself, who Went Places and Did Heroic Things. So if he finds chivalry funny, it certainly didn’t stop him from doing a lot of it himself. ๐Ÿ™‚

Where, risen from a doubtful seat and half attainted stall,
The last knight of Europe takes weapons from the wall,
The last and lingering troubadour to whom the bird has sung,
That once went singing southward when all the world was young.

…Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath…
And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,
Up which a lean and foolish knight for ever rides in vain,
And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade….

I haven’t given a lot of links for kids here, I’m afraid. Activated Stories seems to be a good podcast for them.

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Librivox seems to have achieved that happy state, possible only for a distributed group project, of constantly churning out new material. This week is particularly rich.

On the nonfiction front, we have one of the great classics of adventure and Egyptology, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile by Amelia B. Edwards. (And yes, she inspired Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia. I can’t wait to listen.) We also have The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, which is not only patriotic and edifying but entertaining, too. I think this may be the expurgated version, but it doesn’t say. Plato’s dialogue Ion has Socrates torquing off a professional poetry reciter. (What’s wrong with covers, Socrates? Or do you have something against fame?) H.L. Mencken makes an appearance In Defense of Women, but mostly ripping on men. (Love or hate Mencken, he’s a lot better at snark, cutting criticism, and insult than most of today’s proponents of the art.)

On the fiction front, they’ve released a single reader version of The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton. There are two finished books by Lord Dunsany: Time and the Gods (in which he builds a mythology of sorts) and The Book of Wonder, which is simply chock full of classic fantasy stories. The classic mystery writer J.S. Fletcher (an old Librivox favorite, if you may recall The Temple Murders and The Paradise Murders) tells us about Dead Men’s Money. You can also laugh with the first Blandings Castle book from Wodehouse, Something New; or get ready for English class with Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, or Galsworthy’s first Forsyte Saga book, A Man of Property.

(I’ve never read Galsworthy. But when they say ‘saga’, apparently they don’t mean anything about carving out a kingdom or slaying dragons. They’re comparing it to the ones where Olaf Crazyeyes spends twenty years feuding with the friends and family of Snorri Odinpriest because somebody might have slept with somebody else or coveted the south field, and where everything ends in a farmhouse full of people burnt to a crisp.)

In other news, my sinuses have finally drained. Right down my throat. Sigh. We’ll see how I feel tonight.

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I don’t know if it’s just the cable company throttling my download speed, or bad internet traffic, or what. But I’m finding it very slow to load up anything, and particularly anything with any connection to Google. (Sites with ads, sites with Google Analytics, sites owned by Google….)

Unfortunately, wordpress.com does use Google Analytics. If you’re experiencing the same problems, know that we’re all in the same boat. So consider using my Feedburner feed, which may be faster at the moment. (Yeah, I know that’s owned by Google now, too, but at least they don’t seem to be using the same servers and sloooooow connections!)

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Apparently, Mr. Jeffrey Robert Adams is another of us crazy podcasters who cain’t say no. In his case, this has led to more than one podcast. He does BlendedFolk Catholic Podcast and Catechetical Comments, but that’s not enough. He also has not one but two audiobook podcasts: The Summa Cast, featuring readings from your buddy St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Catholic Audio Book Podcast, currently featuring The Imitation of Christ.

(It’s a rule, man. Everybody doing Christian audiobooks has to start with a recording of The Imitation of Christ. I’m pretty sure St. John Damascene included that in On Holy Images somewhere in his comments on CDs and tapes as an image of speech, but the editor must have cut it.) ๐Ÿ™‚

He also produces The Jace Cast, and apparently co-produced both the eponymous Jace and his newly released brother, Jude Thomas Adams. Understandably, the pressures of the nursery tour have slowed down even the busy Adams pater familias, but stay tuned for more audiobook goodness this summer.

Sorry I didn’t link to this guy before, but I just found out about him via A View from the Catholic Trenches.

(Apparently, this guy’s buddy won a raffle, and he had the gift passed along to him, solely so that he could remedy this egregious lacuna in my knowledge of the audiobook podcast world. Ah, the mysterious ways of God.)

(Why, yes, I am slaphappy. Why do you ask?)

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Julie D. from Happy Catholic has taken up the happy task of podcasting audiobooks. (With assistance from her loving husband on the intro, too!) Her first Forgotten Classics podcast is “A Tale of Three Tales” from Tales from Silver Lands, a Newbery Award winner of years gone by.

Her idea is to promote unjustly forgotten literature and authors — featuring a “little about the authors and their writing, with samples” for what’s still under copyright, but reading entire works when they’ve risen into the sunlight and fresh air of the public domain. Sounds like we’ll get a lot of variety, that way.

So pop on over and give those South American folk tales a listen, and subscribe to her podcast so you won’t miss whatever comes next!

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Utopia, the great early science fiction novel by the sainted and knighted Thomas More. If you haven’t read it, you should give it a listen. But if you think he’s being totally serious and describing a perfect society, you’re missing the point! ๐Ÿ™‚

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People of the Book just did a little news item on the University of Pennsylvania’s rather remarkable audio poetry archive, PennSound. None of this streaming crud or RealAudio files — nope, actual mp3s in easily used formats, each free to download (and use for classes). Not just old poetry, but the contemporary kind, too. There are also lectures and talks available. (Probably not reliably work-safe.) I haven’t really had time to look it over, but even a cursory look reveals stuff of interest.

For instance, SF fans will find Samuel R. Delany on the site. Here he is discussing Hart Crane. (I assume they didn’t invite him just for Crane’s sf/f tropes, so he is probably discussing Hart Crane more in terms of his alleged sexual actions or attractions than his writing. But every century has its limitations and prejudices. You just have to fast forward through the standard marginalizations of this era of lit-crit.) The thing about Delany is that there is generally a great deal of gold to be panned out of the mud — and he does talk about literary stuff in an interesting way — so it’s probably worth a download. It really helps that he’s not only been a writer and poet, but has done it for pay, affected by the likes and dislikes of editors and readers. Most literary critics today have never been influenced by anyone outside of academia or the New York Times book reviews.

The interesting thing is that we do boast a true group of contemporary professional poets in this country who are widely known and adored. But they are called “rappers”, not professors, and they do not bother to submit to the journals. This does seem to have aroused the ire and competitive instincts of literary poets, leading to livelier outlets like poetry slams. Perhaps mp3 archives like this are another step out of the dead end of poets who despise the public. Or perhaps we will learn to embrace the witty artificialities and conventions of the contemporary cavaliers. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jonathan Coulton sings that timeless lyric of Sir Mix-A-Lot

Gilbert and Sullivan cover Sir Mix-A-Lot

Another cover from Richard Cheese and Lounge against the Machine

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Just a head’s up about the new Blake’s 7 audio adventures now available on Sci-Fi Channel UK’s website. For those who don’t remember it, the old Blake’s 7 series was a moody drama of resistance against tyranny — by a band of rebels who weren’t even sure they agreed with each other! Sort of like Robin Hood with less merry Merry Men. The show was a great fan favorite for its grit and snarky characters. Tanith Lee loved it so much she even wrote and published an unofficial fantasy novel spin-off, Slay the Dead!

The first three new radio/streaming audio adventures are penned by Ben Aaronovitch, one of the more interesting and original Doctor Who writers. Marc Platt will also write eps. The new series apparently follows the original storylines, but with a whole new cast and script (and a lot of streamlining). I haven’t listened yet, but from what SFFAudio says about it, it sounds like fun!

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