Re: Snobs!

1

I think it's that reading is more work than listening, in the sense of second-graders find it more work to read a book than have someone read it outloud to them.

(And please, Unfoggers, don't respond by arguing how many books you devoured in 2nd grade. We are not a representative sample.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:27 AM
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Generally, I find listening harder work than reading, at least in the sense that my attention wanders more easily when listening and I find it very hard to maintain consistent focus at even a fairly minimal level for very long.* So the labour element runs in the other direction for me, I think.

* with the possible exception of very long drives, when audio books sort of work as my visual attention is otherwise focused on driving.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:33 AM
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For me, audiobooks were never a substitute for reading actual books -- they were a supplement. It wasn't a question of listening to books instead of reading them but listening to books I'd never take the time to read. I would listen to them while I drove or walked or jogged so I wouldn't feel the time was unproductive. For activities like that, I'd usually pick light, funny books or mysteries or popular books people were talking about that didn't seem worth my dedicated time, books that I probably never would have read otherwise.

I've found that I can only do that when I exercise outdoors -- my gym is too noisy to follow an audiobook so I listen to music or watch TV instead. I kind of miss the feeling of productivity that comes from finishing a book in otherwise unproductive time.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:33 AM
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Part of the problem may be that a great many recorded books are abridged. Listening to a recording that only contains 20% of the words in the original work is pretty much a "Cliff's Notes" equivalent, and deserving of scorn. In my experience, the displays of recorded books that you see in bookstores are mostly abridgments, possibly giving the impression that most recordings are.


Posted by: Bob Munck | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:34 AM
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The printed book is an awesome technology, affording the user built-in bookmarking features and the ability to easily flip around between passages, and replayable at any time that one has eyes (or, if reading in Braille, fingers). Since you don't have to be a scholar to appreciate these features, it is non-crazy to see "books on tape" as being a relatively inferior and unsexy alternative.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:37 AM
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I think people who are interested in books tend, for obvious reasons, to be people whose learning style is heavily weighted toward text, rather than listening. I'm like ttaM -- while I've listened to a couple of books (when I got an iPod, I tried listening to books while running) I found it very easy to get distracted from by my thoughts, and I kept on realizing that I hadn't heard the last five minutes.

If I thought everyone were like me, I'd assume that people who listen to books haven't really absorbed the contents in any meaningful way.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:37 AM
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Does this make sense to anyone?

It doesn't make sense, but it's an attitude I've heard hundreds of times. It's amazing how much work you sometimes have to do with a parent of a child with a serious learning disability to convince them that yes, listening to an audio book is "really" reading.

There is a very strong strain of thinking that audio books are "laziness". It's diminished mildly in the past 15 years, but I'm still astonished at the prevalence. In some cases it's even kind of vindictive -- the parent/teacher/book group leader's attitude is something like: "I had to suffer through this, so you should too."

I dunno.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:37 AM
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Does this make sense to anyone?

It makes perfect sense if you assume the NYT is a vapid rag incapable of publishing anything other than the most determinedly middlebrow conventional wisdom, yes.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:39 AM
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Thinking back, the audio books I've enjoyed most have been light, witty books that don't really depend on my continued concentration. Wodehouse, Richmal Crompton, that sort of thing.

My wife, on the other hand, who uses audio books a little like Becks, as an adjunct to reading rather than a replacement for it, listens to blockbuster unabridged classics which I simply wouldn't have the attention span to take in in that format.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:44 AM
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If I thought everyone were like me, I'd assume that people who listen to books haven't really absorbed the contents in any meaningful way.

Ah, I think that this gets at an important piece of it. I absorb information very poorly in an audio format, to a point that taking lecture notes is pretty much mandatory for me. The concentration necessary for an audio book is really tiring for me. I always feel sympathetic for dyslexic people afterwards -- if this is what it's like for them to decode the world, how exhausting.

Bob Munck's point above is good too. If you are only familiar with generally-worse versions from publishers (which are often abridged, done on the cheap, and have famous actors who are not necessarily any good at audio performance), your view of the quality of audio books is pretty different from a diehard George Guidall (RIP) fan of Recorded Books, Inc.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:46 AM
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4 is also an excellent point.

6: I think people who are interested in books tend, for obvious reasons, to be people whose learning style is heavily weighted toward text, rather than listening.

Not necessarily so. My learning style is as auditory as it is visual, perhaps more so, yet it's not hard to see the particular advantages of books.

7.2: This attitude that reading is some terribly difficult chore that people have to "suffer" through is alien to me. One of the reasons, perhaps, that people tend to be skeptical of things like "books on tape" is that it seems to enable what appear to be bizarre attitudes toward actual literacy.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:47 AM
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10: Huh. That's funny, because come to think of it, I do fine learning things from people talking at me. Although straight lectures tend to put me to sleep -- if I can't talk occasionally, I've got trouble getting much out of a class.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:50 AM
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my attention wanders more easily when listening

Yeah, exactly. Also, I read very quickly, and listening to somebody read a book out loud feels painfully slow.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:51 AM
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Also, I read very quickly

I think this is true of anyone who's ever kept up with ALL of the goddamn comment threads for any span of time. Someday I'll embed comments at 3 am with scavenger hunt type instructions to determine who actually reads all the comments.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:54 AM
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I read very quickly

You read at 441 words per minute.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 8:59 AM
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"Also, I read very quickly"

I think this is true of anyone who's ever kept up with ALL of the goddamn comment threads for any span of time.

Which leads to the obvious question of when we'll start seeing audio-comments here.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:00 AM
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light, witty books

Do these still get written? David Sedaris is occasionally wonderful, but he's no John Collier. TC Boyle is sometimes witty, but not light. Thurber, Bemelmans, Dawn Powell-- there must be someone writing like this in English.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:00 AM
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What Apo said. Books on tape drive me up the wall. Too. Fucking. Slow. Pick up the pace asshole, I want to find out what happens next. Also, fuck everyone's performances. If I want to be annoyed by voices I can go to the mall or turn on shitty television.

That being said, I read quickly and tend to retain what I read. But if others retain it better by hearing it, what do I care how they do it.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:06 AM
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reductio--

i despise people who think you can get something from watching an rsc performance of shakespeare that you cannot get from reading the text.

i mean--c'mon, guys. the two media are just complementary.
a good reader, like a good actor, can actually provide *revelations* on tape, stuff you never would have seen or heard in your own mind.

that's part of what i learn every time i see a play on stage that i have already studied pretty intensively--damn, these director and actor people are pretty *good* at this. because they are forced to do it all out loud, at normal speech rhythms or slower, they have to think a *lot* about how the text should sound, and what every line means.

caveats--
of course most book-on-tape readers aren't in granville-barker's league, even if they are name actors.
and of course many books don't even deserve this treatment--if you had to ask yourself the best way to read a line in tom clancy, you'd go back to speed-reading.
and of course abridged tapes give you less of the book--which is true about written abridged texts as well as audio ones, right?

books, i.e. codices, are totally cool, fabulous technology, i'll never say a bad word about 'em. but, you know, the world is big enough for both.

i think slol nails it in 8.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:07 AM
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ditto everybody who said their attention wanders while listening to books on tape. Although: I do fine learning things from people talking at me. I don't know exactly what had in mind here, but certainly having someone talk TO you is different from having someone talk AT you.

The only reason for this snobbery in bookclubs I can see is that they want all of the members to have as close to the same experience with the book as possible. I don't know what sort of differences there would be, for purposes of book club discussion, between readers and listeners, and I don't think I'd want to belong to a book club that was anal enough to worry about it.

Also, what slolrnr said (8).


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:10 AM
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If I want to be annoyed by voices I can

...stop taking my meds.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:11 AM
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re: 16
Like this?

http://www.mcgrattan.f2s.com/audiocomments.mp3


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:14 AM
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Cue twenty comments by people saying they want to sex nattarGcM.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:17 AM
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Okay, here I am going to be a snob.

I would expect that someone who has a strong preference for audiobooks over printed books isn't terribly well read -- there isn't enough time in the day to read a lot of stuff if you're listening to it rather than reading it visually. So, while it's mean, I could see if I wanted to have a book club talking about books with people who were generally literate and well informed, kind of wanting to drive away people who didn't read paper books under the assumption that they were likely to be unsuccessful in engaging the text interestingly out of a lack of general education.

That's not an excuse for behaving badly, but I can see an intellectually snobbish attitude of 'Oh, god, one of those people' attitude toward people who listen rather than read as not being entirely baseless.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:19 AM
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22: Yes!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:19 AM
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22: Now is the appropriate time for me to confess that a while back I seriously looked into the possibility of running comment threads through a speech synthesizer and converting them to mp3s so I could catch up on long threads by listening to them on my morning commute.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:22 AM
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23: That would be tacky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:22 AM
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23: That would be tacky.

You have sinned in your heart, LB.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:23 AM
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running comment threads through a speech synthesizer and converting them to mp3s

Now I love you, but you realize they would make absolutely no sense?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:24 AM
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24: I understand the reasoning, but I'm not sure it holds. People I know who listen to audiobooks actually consume far more 'literature' than I do because they can make use of the audio to multitask -- 'read' while on the treadmill, expressway, doing laundry, etc. Since I have never tried listening to an audiobook, and since things like commuting, chores, etc. take up so much of my day, I wind up reading remarkable little. If I were a book club snob, I'd much rather have my audiobook friends in the club than someone like me.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:25 AM
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28: Did I deny it?


Posted by: Jimmy Carter | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:28 AM
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I'm still sure I read much more by consuming printed books than I would in audio form if I used audio books during my commute [when I usually read a book anyway] and during chores since I'd be surprised if there's more than an hour or so each day when I would get some audiobook usage in where I can't already read. Obviously, for other people, depending on the pattern of their daily life, the calculation might run heavily the opposite way.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:30 AM
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30: Yeah, it falls down for people like Ogged and Becks and nattarGcM .srM, who aren't text-averse, but find audiobooks a reasonable way to supplement paper-reading.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:30 AM
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I'm a pretty fast reader and years of department colloquia have eroded my ability to listen to anything and gain information out of it.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:33 AM
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I've actually never used an audiobook.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:33 AM
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I would like to make the case for certain audiobooks. I realized, for example, that I was never going to be able to get through The Pilgrim's Progress. My eyes shut tight after two paragraphs and I'd fall dead asleep. Then a friend at school gave me the 9-CD audiobook version, recommending that I turn all the lights out and listen to it with a glass of bourbon. It took several sessions, but it was fantastic. I own PP, the book, but I'll probably never actually read read it. It makes a much better spoken book than a silent one.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:34 AM
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29: you realize they would make absolutely no sense?

They could have, given sufficient work and ingenuity. I quickly realized that the first thing that would need to be done would be to pre-process the threads to strip out all the "Link to this comment"s and other unnecessary stuff. Then I would want to have it use a different voice to represent italic or quoted text. Carried to the (il)logical conclusion, I would want to have it use a different voice for each commenter. Of course, numbered references to previous comments would make less sense, depending on how good your memory is, and there'd be no way to properly deal with hyperlinks. Still, it would have been cool.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:35 AM
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they also have advantages with a car full of kids on a long drive.

i have also read to our kids in the car for hours--even after they were fully literate themselves--because they sometimes get to feeling car-sick when they read.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:36 AM
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I have to drive for a couple of hours a day. I listen to podcasts, mostly of interviews that occur because the host has read an article and, in many ways, converts its content by making it the subject of dialogue. This is collaboration between interviewer and author to render something in naturally aural form. Having the author read the article on air would be much, much worse.

I've been very impressed by how much of the content of articles, often very carefully written, comes through this way, when I've been so enthused by the interview that I go look up the article.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:38 AM
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37: This is insane, but if it were possible would probably be great.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:40 AM
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The one audiobook I did sit through was Jimmy Carter reading his last book. I listened to it during a long drive and enjoyed it. He pronounces "nuclear" like it doesn't contain the letter L.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:41 AM
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MAE, you are completely insane, in a Magellan/Gagarin kind of way.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:41 AM
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re: 37

What you need is audio samples from each commenter. For full-on creepy immersion.

re: 39

Yes, I like dialogue. I can listen to discussion on the radio for ages. Or a well made radio documentary. Audio books or lectures don't engage my attention in the same way.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:41 AM
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What you need is audio samples from each commenter.

Alternatively, each commenter could just identify the celebrity they sound the most like, and you could get samples of those for full on audiobook effect. Unfogged as read by Charles Bronson, James Earl Jones, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Tilly, Katherine Hepburn et cetera.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:44 AM
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we could just resurrect mel blanc and have him do all of them.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:46 AM
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DS, I like the cut of your jib.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:47 AM
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That's just what I have going in my mind's ear when I read the blog, anyway.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:50 AM
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In tonight's performance, the part of Doctor Slack will be read by Gilbert Gottfried.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:51 AM
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My grandfather used to say that he couldn't stand James Michner books before he went blind. Afterwards, however, he could listen to them on tape, doze off for fifteen minutes at a stretch, and not have missed anything that mattered.
(There was some distant intermarriage between his family and Michner's family, so he and his books were more of a subject of discussion than one would normally expect)


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:52 AM
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Then I would want to have it use a different voice to represent italic or quoted text. Carried to the (il)logical conclusion, I would want to have it use a different voice for each commenter.

The same economics that locates phonebanks in countries where the hourly wage is lower could apply here. These are public domain scripts to be converted by struggling actors in Hyderabad and Norilsk into performance, to be subsidized by adword revenues.
It will be necessary to mention a consumer good in every 7th comment, though; the Tacky food thread might serve as a pilot.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:52 AM
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Heh. Jennifer Tilly.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:53 AM
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asilon has already picked out my voiceover.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 9:58 AM
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For me, the issue is that they are not the same.

I dont care if people listen to audiobooks. Listening to something well done can be very enjoyable. (see thisamericanlife) But, it isnt the same as reading a book.

If I ride my bike following Boston Marathon route, I have run a marathon.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:06 AM
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53 was me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:06 AM
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Author of 53, please don't identify yourself.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:07 AM
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I tried.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:07 AM
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If I ride my bike following Boston Marathon route, I have run a marathon.

Come again?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:07 AM
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Alternatively, each commenter could just identify the celebrity they sound the most like, and you could get samples of those for full on audiobook effect.

I don't sound like any celebrities because my voice is deep yet monotonous and nonresonant and nobody charismatic could have such a voice.

That being so, I'd like my comments to be read by Ryan Phillippe doing his Scottish accent from Gosford Park.

36 - Am I right in thinking Pilgrim's Progress was written largely for people to read aloud to each other anyway? With different goals in mind, people write in different ways.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:09 AM
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Come again?

If I had a dollar....

I meant to say, "I have not run a marathon."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:10 AM
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45: Among the living I think Jim Dale could pull it off.

Or else maybe Tom Kenny.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:11 AM
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I would like my comments read opera style. Preferably by a tenor.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:13 AM
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SHIRLEY HENDERSON PLEASE


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:15 AM
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I have been told I sound a bit like John Hannah, and also Ewan MacGregor. However, I think that's coming from people who aren't that familiar with Scottish accents and are searching for someone they can think of who doesn't have a Glasgow accent.

If I could choose someone, might as well make it Richard Burton or someone like that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:15 AM
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re: 62

NO! Her voice grates. A lot.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:16 AM
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Heebie is so picky. I guess adding up columns of figure all day long does that to you.

It was a simple plus-minus error. No big deal. Will should get half credit at least.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:16 AM
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58: You are correct about PP. I don't think it's made for silent reading. It's hypnotically repetitive and there are lots of fun characters' voices to do. The actor who did the one I had was incredible, really fun and expressive. I never would have gotten so much out of Bunyan by myself.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:16 AM
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48: I'm told Bryant Gumbel. Oddly, Gottfried seems a less geeby option.

58.1: Ergo, Ben Stein. See how easy?

And Peter Sellers for Ogged.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:18 AM
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I call Cash.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:18 AM
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You should hear Shelley Duvall reading my comments outloud. I would get a kick out of that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:19 AM
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I've been told I sound remarkably like Marlene Dietrich.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:20 AM
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I rarely listen to audiobooks but one I would recommend is the audio version of Portnoy's Complaint read by Ron Silver. Philip Roth is listed as the "Director" -- the only time I've seen a credit like that on an audio book.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:22 AM
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I want Lotte Lenya.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:24 AM
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All Scottish commenters must be voiced by Kevin McKidd doing an impression of Sean Connery.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:26 AM
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73

Moo


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:27 AM
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LB and AWB are both intimidating Germans?

I do imagine Ogged sounding like Frylock. Particularly since he spoiled the font size thread with his funless attitude.

I've changed my mind, Ryan Phillippe's Scottish accent is too annoying. Please imagine my comments being read by Ignignot.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:29 AM
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I'll have Russell Crowe. And he'll beat you all up, too.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:30 AM
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All Scottish commenters must be voiced by Kevin McKidd Darrell Hammond doing an impression of Sean Connery.

As for Welsh commenters, the only Welsh celebrity I can think of is Tom Jones, so all of dsquared's comments will be sung to the tune of "You Can Leave Your Hat On".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:30 AM
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Please imagine my comments being read by Ignignot.

Your name is Ignignot Montoya. I killed your father. I should prepare to die.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:30 AM
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Lenya's not intimidating! She's adorable and cranky!

True story: In college, I wanted to sing like Lenya, so I deliberately spoiled my voice with booze and drugs.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:31 AM
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Nobody wants Curly or Mo?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:33 AM
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70, 73, All together now...

Vor der Kaserne
Vor dem gro├čen Tor
Stand eine Laterne
Und steht sie noch davor
So woll'n wir uns da wieder seh'n
Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh'n
Wie einst Lili Marleen...

Believe it or not, it just came on the radio.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:33 AM
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I call Lyle Lovett.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:33 AM
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75: Oh, the person who told me that was lying -- I don't sound anything like Marlene Dietrich. But I thought it was worth throwing in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:34 AM
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You don't sound like Lyle Lovett, Ben.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:34 AM
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On the subject of Lyle Lovett, I finally heard a couple songs by Teddy Thompson on the radio, and guess what, he has not inherited the capacity for genius. He sounds like Lyle Lovett, except worse.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:34 AM
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all of dsquared's comments will be sung to the tune of "You Can Leave Your Hat On".

Or alternatively, "What's New, Pussycat?"


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:35 AM
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I'm aware of that, ogged.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:35 AM
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As long as we're clear.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:36 AM
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I've been told I sound like Gillian Anderson and that I have a good speaking voice, but I don't know, because if I hear myself on tape I cringe.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:44 AM
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I would like to have my comments voiced by a Frankensteinian synthesis of the on-air voices of the top smooth jazz radio DJs in all of the major mid-market cities: Cleveland, Sacramento, Portland, St. Louis, etc.

Either that, or a similar exercise creating a voice entirely from the stereotypical super-excitable Japanese commercial voiceovers.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:44 AM
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Your dad is craggily awesome, Cala.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:45 AM
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Indeed he is.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:46 AM
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My comments would only be done justice by reanimating Barry White.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:49 AM
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Upon consideration, Opinionated Grandma should be voiced by Darth Vader.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:51 AM
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93: See, I was thinking Patrick Warburton.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:52 AM
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AWWWGED, I AM YOUR GRANDMOTHER.


Posted by: /p//n/t/d gr/ndm/ | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:52 AM
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I finally heard a couple songs by Teddy Thompson on the radio, and guess what, he has not inherited the capacity for genius

I beg to differ. I haven't heard anything off his new album (which is all country songs) but Separate Ways is one of the best new albums I've heard in a long time. I was, in fact, just listening to it the other day and noting that my appreciation for it has not faded.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:53 AM
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Apo does have a deep, rumbly voice. Not as smooth as Barry White, but why deny him the satisfaction?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:54 AM
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Audio comments would make the Presidentialized voices a lot of fun, especially given the general content of those comments.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:55 AM
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99: Yes, I'm envisioning all the embarrassing sexual/interpersonal confessions coming with patriotic fifes playing behind them to set them apart.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 10:57 AM
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99: I'm thinking all the male presidential comments should get two choices:

1) Contrite, ashamed: Bill Clinton's quiet, strained, vaguely whiny voice from the national apology speech

2) Proud, amazed at the sexual deviation accomplished that day: JFK giving his speech announcing the start of the Apollo space program


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:00 AM
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Ogged's comments can be read in that super-terrible, cringe-inducing fake Middle Eastern accent they're teaching all of the brownish people in Hollywood.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:02 AM
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(when actually they should be read by someone like Tom Brokaw)


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:02 AM
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104

102, 103 - Frylock is the clear choice. Or Carey Means, I guess.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:03 AM
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I have no idea whose voice I'd want. I would hope that it doesn't sound like my own, however.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:03 AM
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101: You forgot Poland! peevish, defensive indignation (used mostly in the feminism threads).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:04 AM
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106: Good God, the sound of Bush's voice in that video (well, and always) makes my heart thump with anger and fear. I hate him i hate him i hate him. I sometimes forget how much.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:07 AM
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"I read the front page."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:07 AM
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105: I recommend this guy to be Emerson's voiceover.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:09 AM
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I'm trying the thought experiment of Bush apologizing for his equipment, but it doesn't work. Different deficiency.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:10 AM
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I won't sign in so they won't let me hear it. Who is it, Ron Jeremy?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:13 AM
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I can't get to the Adults Only Youtube clips right now.

I'm assuming that it's Walter Brennan or possibly Wilford Brimley.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:15 AM
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113

Ron Jeremy?

That's inspired.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:15 AM
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re: 107

Yes, I find it astonishing just watching him that anyone voted for him. The guy looks and sounds like a prick. Ditto Blair. Blair's fake sentimentality and patronizing bourgeois tone make me think of the whole 'boot stamping on a human face, forever' line.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:15 AM
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Here, non-Youtube version.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:16 AM
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Yes, I find it astonishing just watching him that anyone voted for him. The guy looks and sounds like a prick.

Most of the people who voted for him did it out of spite and fear. The rest are either people who hate government and want as many taxes reduced as possible, or people who think he was the better choice for helping the United States carry out the mission of Jesus Christ against other religions.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:26 AM
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115: Apo, please please tell me that guy is Opinionated Grandma's husband.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:26 AM
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I can live with that. The hair and teeth are reasonably close.

Dead-pig-fucking? Victimless crime. Who cares what the little vegan sluts think? Let them screw their vegan SNAG TAs.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:29 AM
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Of course, after everything that's been blocked, 115 came through just fine.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:32 AM
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As entertaining as the celebrity voice discussion is, there's no way you would want to use concatenative synthesis for this sort of thing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:36 AM
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The people who voted for Bush only watch TV with the sound on, while listening to audiobooks at the gym. See? Audiobooks are bad after all.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:42 AM
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My commute is a 50 minutes drive each way (no LIRR or subway), and audiobooks have kept me relatively sane for the last year or so. I've listened to a combination of serious and not-so-serious books (a couple of months ago, it was DeLillo's Underworld and then Cosmopolis, this month it's Stephen King's Lisey's Story).

Now, having said that, audiobooks MUST be unabridged, or else it's totally cheating. Agreed. And if the author narrates the unabridged recording, so much the better. And there are some books that make very little sense in an audiobook form, such as Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves (which, by the way, I totally recommend).

Otherwise, it's a great way for someone like me to make great use of otherwise dead time. All you literary snobs who think that audiobooks are for the not-very-well-read or those who aren't "real" book lovers, you people can kiss it.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 11:48 AM
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Three comments!

1. I would like to be voiced by Leonard Cohen, but not quite so dignified and sad and slow. I will settle for Anthony Michael Hall.

2. What you need is audio samples from each commenter.

In the same way that a pangram contains all the marks of an alphabet, is there a paragraph that could be recorded to capture a sufficient range of syllabic utterances for use in a voice synthesizer? Teo's use of big words that I don't know in 120 suggests to me that he may know the answer.

3. I listened to Under the Banner of Heaven while traveling across northern Arizona. It was terrifying, sublime.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 12:47 PM
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My 123.3 above should be read as affirming "you people can kiss it".


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 12:48 PM
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Here's kind of a mixed case: Stephen Hawking's books being read through a voice synthesizer. Sure, it's audio, but it is essentially the author's voice.


Posted by: Bob Munck | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 12:55 PM
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122: Ironically, Danielewski reading chunks of House of Leaves got a lot of radio play the summer before I actually read the book (thanks to "Hey Pretty") and it made it really hard to not hear his voice in my head while reading. Parts of the book are really suited to pretentious spoken-word cadence.

The typographic gimmickry, of course, doesn't carry over.


Posted by: elemund | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:02 PM
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Once when I drove across the country I listened to Updike's "Rabbit is Rich" on audiobook. The reader would alter his voice when reading dialogue for each character. Later, when I read "Rabbit at Rest", I heard each character in my head in the same voice that the reader had used.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:06 PM
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It's taking me more than a year to get through Moby Dick on audiobook, mostly because I'm not dedicated to listening everyday. But since I started reading the book in 1999 and hadn't finished it by 2006, I'm still making more progress on audio.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:24 PM
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The obvious extension of the view that audiobook listening isn't reading is that no blind person has ever actually read any book at all, but engaged only in some somewhat reading-related activity. Just to be a nuisance.

I have eye and hand problems. It's hard for me to hold any book comfortably and be able to read it for very long. And when I'm uncomfortable, as with most people, my retention rate goes way down. A good unabridged reading opens up the text to me...and it's a big help with, say, Margaret Macmillan's book on the 1919 peace conference, or anything by Dostoyevsky, or a biography of Timur, or even something fluffy like Sherlock Holmes, to have the pronunciations right. (Wasn't there a thread about that here recently, or was that someplace else?)

Anyone who'd like to hear good unabridged reading samples may want to check out Audible.com, which has a ton of 'em. History and mystery are particularly good for good readers, in my experience.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:31 PM
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In the same way that a pangram contains all the marks of an alphabet, is there a paragraph that could be recorded to capture a sufficient range of syllabic utterances for use in a voice synthesizer?

Short answer, no. The problem is that sounds change in context, so what you would need to capture them all is a text containing all possible contexts for every sound. The big concatenative synthesis systems in use today generally use about 10 hours of recorded speech to extract tokens, and they still don't do a very good job with many contexts.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:35 PM
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You seem to think that would make the comments sound less awesome, when a moment's thought should let you see that they'll be much more awesome.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:37 PM
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In fact, it's already been done at Unfogged.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:40 PM
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I feel comforable in saying that no blind person has read a book. Or ever truly loved a kitten.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:44 PM
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134

no blind person has ever actually read any book at all

Maybe not with their eyes. But reading a book in Braille is arguably equivalent to reading with your eyes, and definitely more like reading than listening to an audiobook.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:45 PM
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If listening to an audiobook counts as "reading" a book, then so does watching a movie that is scrupulously faithful to the text.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:48 PM
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is there a paragraph that could be recorded to capture a sufficient range of syllabic utterances for use in a voice synthesizer?

If Mission: Impossible III is to be believed (and why wouldn't it?), then yes.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:52 PM
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136: But don't we have to ask ourselves to what end the book is being, er, consumed? If your book discussion group is such that you can participate successfully after having listened to an audiobook, then all's well, right? If you want to learn about a topic and there's a good audiobook available, then yes. Of course, if your book discussion group gets into the fine points of a passage and you've been listening to an abridgement, that's a problem. It doesn't seem to matter too much to me; I have the attention span of a gnat and I'd probably be much improved by listening to more audiobooks.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:54 PM
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Er, 137 is really to 135.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:55 PM
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I don't think anyone who pronounces words as they read really reads.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:56 PM
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Authors who read their work aloud as they're writing it and make changes based on how it sounds are not really writing.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 1:58 PM
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I don't think anyone who pronounces words as they read really reads.

I'm pretty sure that's the only way to read poetry.

And probably greatly enhances appreciation for poetic prose.

But you're just kidding anyway, right?



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:05 PM
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As long as we're clear.

Ogged is Tom Cruise? Ben is John Travolta?


Posted by: DaveL | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:06 PM
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Oh I've no problem with someone listening to audiobooks. I don't care whether or not you read. But listening to audiobooks isn't reading. That doesn't mean it can't be educational and enlightening and entertaining and on and on, but again so can watching films. They're just two different things. If your book discussion group is such that you can participate successfully after listening to a book or watching the movie, then "all's well", as you say. But in neither case have you "read" the book. Which, again, doesn't necessarily mean anything important.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:06 PM
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Volumes that are crudely printed using barbaric machines, rather than being carefully lettered and illuminated by hand, are not true books.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:07 PM
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Rereading 134, it comes across as unfairly taking the quoted bit from 129 out of context, and I didn't get around to making the point I wanted to make, and now that I'm rethinking it that point is not as clear as I thought it was, and I'm going to be quiet now.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:07 PM
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I ask: can an illiterate person listen to an audiobook? I ask further: what is the definition of "illiterate"? I ask finally: is listening to an audiobook reading? I expect there to be only one response.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:09 PM
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what is the definition of "illiterate"?

I can read and write my name worked in 1381.
Check out the top result in a google search for the phrase.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:12 PM
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I see your point, Brock. But how is that like seeing a movie?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:13 PM
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Marshall McLuhan would be so proud of this thread.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:14 PM
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I hate reading books anymore. Now I just download public-domain stuff and convert it to audio files using the Festival Speech Synthesis System. For French and Spanish I use MBROLA.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:15 PM
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It doesn't work so well with plays and dialogues, though. Somebody should format the texts with a markup language or whatever, so a synthesizer can do the characters in different voices.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:16 PM
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Cyrano de Bergerac was one of my school district's required texts for high school, but by the time we got around to it, my English teacher had just about given up on our class. So instead of making us read the book, she brought a TV/VCR into the classroom for two days and had us watch the Gerard Depardieu version, reasoning that because it was subtitled, by watching the film we would in effect be "reading the book."


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:17 PM
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If we're reanimating people, I call Paul Robeson.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:18 PM
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Marshall McLuhan would be so proud of this thread.

Marshall McLuhan just appeared right beside me, and he said that he was actually completed disgusted by this thread.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:19 PM
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Marshall McLuhan doesn't understand this thread at all.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:22 PM
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Peep is really Woody Allen.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:23 PM
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Are any of Marshall McLuhan's books on audio? I feel like I should read his work.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:24 PM
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155: Marshall McLuhan just told me that Ogged couldn't tell a medium from a massage.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:32 PM
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Audiobooks: I've only listened to one, Making Love the Bruce Campbell Way, which is more like a radio play than a literal reading of the book. (By the way, if you're not watching Burn Notice, you should be, even if you don't like Bruce Campbell.)

Voices: No one has told me that my voice sounds anything like any celebrity's, which probably means I sound like Jennifer Tilly and no one has the heart to break it to me. So I would like you all to read my comments in female BART voice.


Posted by: Magpie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:36 PM
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Oh I've no problem with someone listening to audiobooks. I don't care whether or not you read. But listening to audiobooks isn't reading. That doesn't mean it can't be educational and enlightening and entertaining and on and on, but again so can watching films. They're just two different things.

Reading a book and having the exact same book read aloud to you are a lot less different from one another than reading a book and watching a movie are. How do you feel about the in-between case: say you and your friend or sweetheart read a book aloud to one another, alternating chapters. Have you read the book?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:41 PM
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i've been told several times that i sound like kermit the frog.

i am very flattered.

funny story about kermit--jim henson (may he rest in peace) said that when people would do audio interviews with him, they would often get bad sound quality for the portion when he was voicing kermit, because the people would unconsciously stick the mike in kermit's face.
they were just that used to thinking of kermit as sentient, that even when they saw him on the end of henson's arm, even when they had just had the mike in henson's face seconds ago, they would still move it down to kermit.

i loved jim henson possibly as much as i loved fred rogers, and now they're both gone. and the replacement voices for henson? nowheresville.

they don't sound a *thing* like me.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:41 PM
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If listening to an audiobook counts as "reading" a book, then so does watching a movie that is scrupulously faithful to the text.

No movie could ever be remotely as scrupulously faithful to the text as the same text, simply read aloud, could be.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:42 PM
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160--
woohoo, you go rfts!
slice that salami!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:42 PM
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Jim Henson was wonderfully wonderful. His memorial statue at the University of Maryland is really great -- he's sitting and chatting with Kermit, who is sitting on his knee, but not being a puppet, and it's just very nicely done.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:45 PM
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Reading a book and having the exact same book read aloud to you are a lot less different from one another than reading a book and watching a movie are

What about watching the movie with your eyes closed? What if it's Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:49 PM
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say you and your friend or sweetheart read a book aloud to one another, alternating chapters. Have you read the book?

No, you read half the book and had half the book read to you.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:52 PM
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i've been told several times that i sound like kermit the frog.

Hey-ho, kid bitzer weporting live!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:52 PM
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What about watching the movie with your eyes closed?

That could be kind of like an incredibly abridged audiobook, but no. I am thinking primarily of prose; plays, as you suggest, are the edge case. I would never disagree that reading things and hearing them read aloud are indeed different, much as reading a play and seeing (or hearing) it performed are different. Any film of a novel will, however, be a great deal more different than that.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:54 PM
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Reading a book aloud is also different from reading it to yourself, silently and at your own natural pace.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:55 PM
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You seem to think that would make the comments sound less awesome, when a moment's thought should let you see that they'll be much more awesome.

Fair enough. I was assuming the intention was for the comments to be intelligible. If that's not the case, go nuts.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:56 PM
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I had the novel version of Charles In Charge. With pages of photographs from the sitcom in the middle.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:56 PM
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i don't remember kermit having trouble with his 'r's.
that sounds more like gussy fink-nottle, or who's that woman on npr who talks about the classics, elaine something brit-twit from central casting.

probably i'm just forgetting a kermit character?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:56 PM
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Oh yeah? You try writing Kermonics phonetically.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 2:57 PM
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160 - I think I'd get more out of the audiobook than reading aloud with a sweetheart. Less mind-wandering about how to move from the book-reading to the sex-having part of the evening.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 3:00 PM
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173--
i'm constantly writing kermonics.
or so i've been told.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 3:04 PM
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174: Becks is Francesca! http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2007/07/dante-in-siena-inferno-5-9.html


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 3:08 PM
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Oh, definitely Harvey Fierstein for me.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08- 2-07 4:21 PM
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I used to listen to books on tape when I commuted by car. The anti-book on tape people are nuts.

Abridged is totally cheating, except that a lot of non-fiction books are bloated and need some editing anyway.

The teaching company tapes are the best for commutes:

http://www.teach12.com/teach12.asp?ai=14265


Posted by: joeo | Link to this comment | 08- 3-07 12:07 AM
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