Everyone always talks about the book being better than the movie.
But where do most people stand on the audio book compared to the book?
That’s pretty much what I’m going to be sussing out for myself in the next couple days as I listen to the Orson Scott Card classic Ender’s Game on Audible.
Not an ad for Audible, but could be an ad for Audible?
Hit me up, Audible. I could stand to listen to more books and it might help if I had extra motivation.
Anyway though. I will be listening to Ender’s Game over the next few days.
I’ve actually read the book before, years ago — sometime just before or after I blew through my Dad’s big physical collection of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series (condensed into one publication).
I was having a hell of a space phase back in Middle School/early High School, apparently.
However, as a part of the curriculum for Gaming in American Culture, I must read the book again. Apparently it fits in well with the themes of video game use by the military, our discussion for this upcoming class.
As much as I enjoyed the book years ago, and certain scenes continue to stick in my head (mostly the bursts of graphic violence and groin kicking oddly enough), I don’t exactly have a lot of time to sit down and read ~350 pages in the span of three days.
Midterms have stolen that from me.
So I’m going to be listening to the story instead. Work it in during my drives in place of podcasts for a while.
I don’t listen to audio books too often, so it should be interesting to see how the experience lives up to my time with the original book. Will I retain more? Will I notice things that I never have before? Will I use that momentum to finally go ahead and listen to/read the sequel novels past the quarter of Ender’s Shadow I read back in the day?
When I was picking up my sister from school, there were so many butterflies going around that I thought they were leaves at first.
It was nuts.
But I also don’t have a lot to say on it considering I didn’t take photos or videos of the phenomenon. So that LA Taco article will have to do.
Beyond that, all my time today has been devoted to the gym and homework. So… Yeah, disregarding butterflies, listening to the audio book for a book I have already read is the most interesting part of my day.
Purely due to the more philosophical questions I’ll be considering about the difference in media consumption over the next few days.
So hey, maybe I’ll come back to this topic at the end of the week.
Or even if I don’t, maybe I’ll have some more interesting blog topics from here on out!
This little premise is probably something that could be served better as a brief question on Twitter, but I figured I would pose a more elaborate version on the off-chance I get interesting responses beyond the shelf life of a tweet.
It’s undeniable that the language of social media has injected itself into our common vernacular, to the point that I can say something like “the shelf life of a tweet” without turning any heads — Just imaging saying that to someone from the 1800s!
However, I’m not particularly concerned about social media terms in real life, general use.
My inquiry is aimed toward how people use an at sign (@) or hashtags (#) ((or the pound sign, though that’s not how I’ll be using it)) in the world of Twitter reading.
That probably sounds like dumb technobabble, so let me explain further.
Obviously the at sign and hashtags serve functional purposes in the world of Twitter. The prior acts as a mention to draw attention to individuals, while the latter compiles specific topics for analytics on what might be popular.
They are essential elements one must know when using the service to get the most out of it.
Outside of their mechanical functionality, both symbols have audible names so they can be discussed in the abstract. Even if I sometimes just mime mid-air finger drawings that vaguely resembles the “@” symbol during real life interactions.
Other symbols in our language have similar mechanical functionality while also being named for discussion.
The last sentenced ended with a period, which either sits silently due to our shared understanding of what it represents (an end point) or can be audibly referred to for emphasis.
Period. End of story.
Yet the period has existed for hundreds of years, affording it a place in the general lexicon that is taught in every high school English class. We all, I assume, have the same understanding of the period’s uses in the manner I have described.
I’m just not sure whether or not the same thing exists for modern pseudo-punctuation.
“… I just couldn’t get Netflix’s Umbrella Academy out of my head.”
“… I just couldn’t get at Netflix’s Umbrella Academy out of my head.”
For this sentence I wager it would not make sense to include the ‘at’ verbally.
However, let’s say I wrote half a dozen tweets asking Netflix to start streaming Umbrella Academy season 2 already. I get tired of throwing all my complaints at the service and express it in a further tweet.
How would you write that?
“I’m tired of throwing all these tweets at @netflix, why won’t they answer?!”
“I’m tired of throwing all these tweets @netflix, why won’t they answer?!”
Either could potentially work. Either you read the “@” as an extra word or ignore the “@” as a purely mechanical necessity when mentioning Netflix.
As someone who tries to sounding grammatically correct in my open publications, I suppose the usage I would consider correct depends on context.
If there would be an ‘at’ naturally before the at sign, I might be inclined to leave it out at risk of sounding repetitive.
However, if no at would naturally preceed the symbol, I would just ignore that at sign.
Thus my question remains: How do you handle the @ when you’re reading through Twitter? Are you like me, depending on context? Or do you adamantly always/never read the symbol out loud?
Science demands your compliance in this unofficial study.
For those of you who aren’t aware (as I wasn’t before our trip today), the Skirball is a Jewish institution opened in 1996 that, frankly, is quite beautiful. Right next to Mulholland Drive and… Well…
Just look at this patio. There’s plenty of fancy little resting places like this all over the museum.
It’s also, to their credit, very handicap accessible. Which is quite important for us since my dad had foot surgery a while back.
But that’s another story, because I’m clearly not here to talk about my family medical history. I’m here to show off all the cool pictures I got walking around a bunch of different exhibits!
I’m splitting up my slideshows in order of the exhibits we looked at this time around, so that said I hope you enjoy this little look into a place you might not have heard about.
Leonard Bernstein at 100
I’ll be blunt, I’m not great with names that aren’t in constant circulation through the circles I follow. So off-hand I couldn’t have told you who Leonard Bernstein was despite the apparent long legacy there.
Of course you bring up West Side Story and the New York Philharmonic and it all essentially slides into place. Especially since our family has apparently been on a WSS kick after that play we attended a while back.
Still, Aly would be most disappointed that I don’t know music people super well.
But that’s okay because she’s never beaten a single Pokémon game. #ShadeThrown
Again, besides the point. We’ve got pictures to look at.
The Jim Henson Exhibition
Or, as an alternative introductory picture:
Alright here’s the part we were all here for. Mr. Bernstein was a nice appetizer, but if there was anything that was going to get me out of bed early this morning, it would be Jim Henson.
We all love Jim right? I mean how could we not.
The Muppet Show.
The Dark Crystal.
Need I say more?
Though it might be partially attributed to all the build-up that led into it, the Henson portion of our day at the museum was definitely the coolest. Not only were there actual puppets (Muppets? Though more than just them) all over the place, there were also behind-the-scenes paraphernalia like scripts and storyboards for different projects.
Those were particularly cool in my opinion.
But don’t just take my word for it, check some of it out for yourself:
Visions and Values
Now we move into the Judaism portion of our tour. Over on your left you’ll see a brief history of the experience of my ancestors from ancient times to their transition into America.
This area was the most fleshed out portion of the museum for… Well, obvious reasons.
As a Jewish Cultural Center, this exhibit was the one thing at the Skirball that’s always available to the public while the other pieces rotate out.
Anyone with an eye on history would enjoy walking through the different descriptors of timelines, holidays and culture. However, the thing that stood out most for me was all the artifacts.
I don’t think I’ve seen a larger collection of Torah, Menorah or other household antiquities together in one place. Everything was really pretty — unless it was more of an oddball. Like the Menorah shaped like a cactus.
Yeah that exists.
Check it out, along with other wicked things like an actual full-scale recreation of the Statue of Liberty’s torch arm, here:
Now over on your right you’ll see the much less serious portion of our trip through the Hebrew arts.
The Noah’s Ark side of the museum was pretty heavily built-up as well considering it was the one portion that we needed to reserve a time to get into it in advance.
Unfortunately it wound up not actually being an informative, historical look at the story of the flood. No sort of deeper examination into whether actual evidence existed or any sort of intellectual approach of that caliber.
No, Noah’s Ark was a play place for young children.
While it wasn’t exactly a place meant for us to enjoy, there were some pretty cool things about it. All of the animals on the ark were interactive or made of some wacky material that all contributed to a very interesting style overall.
Seriously check out some of these animals. Lord knows a few of them may just be in your nightmares tonight.
While I had a great time at the Skirball with my family, I’m a little exhausted after doing that museum visit alongside a trip down Mulholland, a stop at Mambos for a Cuban lunch and a half-a-dozen other different things this afternoon.
This would have been up way earlier if not for that… So I’m not going to waste too much time concluding things.
Mostly I wanted to take this last opportunity to point out a couple of funny things we found in the museum’s gift shop. Because yeah the super pretty collectible glass Menorah and Jim Henson puppets that were available all made for lovely gifts. But they’re also way less funny then some of the random novelty goods.
For example, this series of books.
You know. For when you want to teach your kid how to be a Yiddish dork that throws random words out at their Catholic friends to confuse them.
Or hey if reading isn’t your thing, maybe you’re more into board games. Well in that case, this is the perfect gift for you:
I love Monopoly, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing really inherently funny about the game itself.
What I think is hilarious is the fact that if you’re playing a Jerusalem-themed Monopoly game, something like the Wailing Wall just HAS to be a location on the board, and I can’t get over the idea of building a hotel on the Wailing Wall and forcing your friends to pay $1,000 just to go pay their respects.
That’s just funny no matter who you are.
But anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter. Hopefully you enjoyed this little visual tour of the museum with my family.
If you’ve got any fond Jim Henson-based memories, let me know about them in the comments! That sounds just wholesome enough to be fun.
So this post comes in response to what I wrote the other day about the dichotomy of transcription, why it’s a terrible thing to do but also why it’s the best thing one can do when practicing journalism.
I know there was a gap where I talked about videa gaymes because of timely E3 business, but these extended thoughts kept nagging at me.
There was another ‘con’ to the act of transcribing that I considered going into while sitting in Starbucks with mom, working on the first post. But I decided not to include it because the more I thought about it, the more the problem felt like one example of a larger, personal idiosyncrasy of mine.
The idea of being subjected to total silence as something potentially uncomfortable to endure.
Now, to preface this discussion with myself, I’d like to say that I don’t actually feel like I’m the only person on the planet who might just be uncomfortable with silence. If anything, I think it’s an inherent part of being as social a creature as humans are.
There are likely hundreds of scientific studies out there on the matter, covering things like our tendencies to fill dead air in a conversation by changing topics or inserting speech fillers like “um” or “ah.”
But I’m going to be looking at the subject from an entirely personal perspective. None of those silly “empirical tests” and whatnot to murk up my subjective torrent of words.
I’ve always been a rather introverted person growing up. Ironic for someone going into a field where they need to constantly talk to people, I know.
My passions have always leaned toward personal activities like reading, writing and video games rather than group activities like partying and sports. I had my groups to do things like play video games with of course, but you get the idea.
Because of that I’ve generally considered myself the kind of person who enjoys, if not thrives in more silent environments. Sitting sheltered off in my room to do work, for example, which has in the past led to my parents deeming it “the cave.”
Yet the more I reflect on my past, the more I’ve come to realize that perhaps it’s more the isolation in which I thrive, rather than the quiet. I say that because more often than not I’ve always tried to fill the silence with other noises even when I’m not with other people.
Video games themselves are the perfect embodiment of this. I’ve been playing them my whole life, and the songs and sound bites from a number of titles are just as iconic to me as some images, just as likely to help recall certain events or moments from my life.
As a quick example, I’ll never be able to disassociate the opening theme to Pokémon White 2 from the specific Target (right across the street from the South Bay Galleria) where I started to play the game for the first time after having put it down unfinished when it first came out.
The idea of making sound ever-present in my life goes much deeper than that, however.
As much as I love driving as an activity, I find my commutes to-and-from Cal State Fullerton nearly unbearable when I can’t listen to a podcast or a video as I go.
When I’m falling asleep, I can never just lay back and go to sleep. I have to do what I consider pre-dreaming, where I start to imagine some sort of scene in my head – a scene that includes some sort of dialogue or musical score – in order to really lull myself into unconsciousness.
While reading tends to be one of the exceptions to this rule, as sometimes ill sit silently just imagining the pages play out in my head, sometimes particularly boring novels for class can get so unbearable that I need something else running in the background to help me get through it.
More often than not I have my computer somewhere in the bathroom as I shower, that way I can continue to listen to whatever video series I have running while standing under the relaxing spray for arguably way too long.
The list, as I’m sure you can assume, goes on-and-on.
Having gotten far off-track with that background information, let me tie everything back to why I believe feeling uncomfortable with silence is one of the reasons transcribing audio is such a terrible thing for me. As counter-intuitive as that must sound.
Sound. Audio puns. You know the drill.
When I imagine audio that fills all of the dead space in a moment, it’ll often be the sort of things I’ve discussed already. Podcasts. YouTube videos. Music.
Hell, more often than not my family has the TV on, but it’ll be on a mindless channel like the Food Network just to create background noise while we do other things.
However, I don’t consider work audio, something I’m transcribing, to be in the same category of unencumbered noise to distract from the uncomfortable void.
Part of that could be distilled down to the psychological difference between doing something for pleasure versus doing something for work, I suppose. But I think it goes deeper than that.
When transcribing an interview, you aren’t simply jamming out or getting engaged with an adventure someone else is describing. Unless of course your interviewee is describing an adventure… But again, semantics.
Rather than having the chance to just mindlessly enjoy something and absorb what’s happening, transcription is a much more heavy-duty job. You’re listening to someone talk in the same way, but instead of just absorbing it passively you’re very actively listening to that audio, translating it and jotting it down before going back to make sure what you’ve jot down is accurate.
You become more like a wall or a mirror than a sponge, bouncing that information off to a different place rather than just taking it in. The activity is much more taxing, and it becomes easier to lose your interest.
But on top of that, the requirement to constantly repeat things for accuracy leads to a whole host of other internal issues inherent to the process. While transcribing is a “listening” activity, large portions are spent in total silence. Silence is needed to finish copying down the sentence you just heard before the subject moves into their next thought. Silence is needed as you go back in time to listen to something again, and one can’t even have any other sorts of sounds going on the side because the copying needs to be as accurate as possible.
Then let’s not forget the fact that when one is transcribing audio, they can’t necessarily think about anything else other than that audio, either.
While a mind can wander while going to sleep and fill empty space with memorized sounds, transcribing requires a person to repeat what they’ve heard over-and-over again in their head to make sure they don’t forget what they’re writing so they have to go back and hear it again.
That reminder of the sentence is noise to break up the silence, yes, but again it plays back to the mundane, repetitive nature of transcribing that makes it somewhat unbearable as an activity.
Imagine constant switching between total silence and hearing the same sentences on repeat for a few hours. That’s what transcription is at its core.
Whether or not everyone else in the world feels the same way about silence and how it effects things like transcribing is hard to judge since I’m just going off of my own thoughts.
But if nothing else, simply reflecting on those thoughts and trying to imagine why certain things make me feel the way they do, even if I don’t come to any sort of substantial conclusion, is something else that’s inherently characteristic of being human.
The ability to reflect on one’s own situations, and even reflect on the ability to reflect in the first place. That’s the kind of meta that I find fascinating.
Especially when it comes off of an essentially pointless “deep thought” that winds up boiling down to me complaining about my job, if you think about it hard enough.