Performers and audiences

theater-399972_1280

I am convinced that alongside (but poorly if at all correlated with) the personality dimension Introversion-Extroversion is another I think of as “Performer”. I am highly introverted, but love standing talking to an audience. By contrast I know several strong extroverts who really do not enjoy that sort of attention, but if thrown into a den of lions room full of people would be happily chatting to new acquaintances within minutes (I’d still be hiding in the furthest darkest corner, trying mentally to project an invisibility screen).

So, I prepare the 5 minute Bible podcasts and read the stories because I hope for an audience. The bigger, the better!

This morning I was depressed looking at the stats and realising just how few people actually listen to a full episode. (Facebook has begun to show how long people listen for, and most switch off in the first moments and few are left by 30 seconds into the piece.)

Then I got a treat, an email from Librivox from the “thank a reader” section containing this encouragement:

He reads the book like an actor acts in a movie. He acts out every character that he reads. He puts so much passion and life into his reading and he is so expressive. He keeps the listener so engaged and his pronunciation is excellent. He is by far one of the best readers I have ever listened to.

That is just what I was trying to do when reading my part in Woman in White! Then to complete the chasing away of the blues, searching for a post I had made in one of the forums I came across this reference to my voice:

his voice is: soft, tender and warm. When I listen to his voice, I have a feeling that I have just been given a freshly baked, warm and soft doughnut.

This introverted performer is delighted. Until the next time I look at the stats and see how few people do actually listen till the end.

BTW it is my birthday tomorrow (15th May) so if you want to “make my day” just invite some friends to listen to a story or a Bible podcast and drive those terrible stats up ;) I might even do an encore!

Three excuses and a fine old story

I know, I know, I have not been posting as often, or as deeply, as I used to. Let me offer three excuses and a fine old story.

Excuse the first: I am retired and no longer think about teaching the Bible all the time (it is now a hobby, and looking after steers, sheep, pigs, ducks, chooks, fruit trees and vegetable patches are now my “work”). In this connection I have been learning to make proscuitto, salami etc. and experimenting to produce the world’s healthiest chocolate treat.

Excuse the second: the blogsphere has changed and gone “mainstream”, by and large people now only comment on and discuss “celebrity” blogs, it was the discussion and argument I enjoyed, not merely publishing ideas into the wild blue yonder.

Excuse the third: I have been writing and publishing in more academic formats than I used to, witness my CV and my Academia.edu page.

And the fine old story? Well I saved the best to last. Because those of you unfortunate enough to live in places with indecently long copyright terms (the United States of Disney or the Kingdom of Sony spring to mind) must listen illegally if you are to listen to it at all. I have been recording A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and have currently completed six chapters.

Two pleas, please!

Jim West needs more Logos users to “preorder” his commentary series it is a remarkable effort by one pastor/teacher to write clear straightforward comment on every book of the Bible (so far there are 36 volumes “covering 59 books of the Bible and 4 books of apocrypha”). I believe that the commentaries do not share the sometimes histrionic tone of his blog, where he claims logos are planning to kill him if the series gets sufficient preorders ;) But rather offers sensible useful comment aimed not at other specialists but at everyone.

That’s the first plea, for a serious work, but presented humorously. The second plea is not like unto it, rather it is free and without cost, but a birthday wish. To celebrate the fact that I have survived 66 years I am collecting audio and video readings of classic stories for children and adults. The request is simple, just if you have a blog link to the site, or if not share it on Facebook or other soacial media. Then people will start to visit, the great and wise Google will deign to notice its existance and my effort will be worthwhile :)

Liminality? Well transgressing boundaries…

I do not like boundaries. (Well except the ones I erect to keep the animals in ;) It is fun to cross borders, things are different on the other side. Travel broadens the mind.

So, for my latest Librivox reading I’ve tried two of La Lontaine’s Fables both from book 9. Both were fun, and both, for an anglophone, mind-twisting. I read:

05 – L’Écolier, le Pédant, et le Maître d’un jardin – 00:02:48
[mp3@64kbps – 1.3MB]

and:

08 – Le Fou qui vend la Sagesse – 00:02:23
[mp3@64kbps – 1.1MB]

But what a shame that so few people try to experience the “otherness” of Scripture by learning to read in Hebrew or Greek (or Aramaic, but all that effort for just a few chapters may be more understandable laziness).

PS for my English readings of other really good literature (one example which involves transgressing borders is Kipling’s American Notes) here’s the list so far.

Kindle versus spindle?

For the post related to the image below see Reading Digitally

Screenshot from iPad Alice video

JPS has a post, Computers, you, and books that after rehearsing some of the common (and justified) concerns of modern-day Socrates that we use electronic texts so much that our attention span is withering. [For Socrates bemouning the terrors of writing it was memory that was in danger.] He quotes from the Chicago Tribune:

A friend of mine in her early 20s managed to poke a finger through the tissue-thin argument that iPads, Kindles and Nooks are just as good as books, that reading is reading, that content is all that matters.

She and her classmates at the University of Notre Dame were invited to the home of a revered professor. It was a gleaming palace of erudition, she said: Room after room was filled with elegant floor-to-ceiling bookcases; each bookcase was filled with beautiful volumes; each volume seemed to glow with the written legacy of the world’s wisdom.

It was, she recalled, breathtaking.

Alphabet book by Muffet

Alphabet book by Muffet

Here, lightly edited are my comments:

I’ve loved books, all sorts and conditions of book, for at least sixty years now. But, there are increasingly few books I am willing to fetishise. Some because this particular tome has memories, like the copy of Just So Stories my father read to me, some because the physical production is just so beautiful… but such volumes are rare, and becoming less commonly available and at a higher relative price. I notice that even renowned bibliophile Jim West hesitates before the cost of Brill’s handsome volumes…

Esther scroll from a Sephardic Synagogue (Wikipedia)

The issue, as always, seems to me to be not the format of books, but the forming of readers. That requires not the rants of creaky old curmudgeons, but the time and energy of influential parents and grandparents (or those temporarily, perhaps, in loco).
Now I do not mean that either JPS or others of you who bemoan the (not yet accomplished, indeed looking likely to survive with far more life than the scroll has done) death of the codex are  curmudgeons, but I do think you may resemble the King Canute of fame and fable ;)

The real job is reading to small children who then learn to want to read, whether on Kindle or spindle matters much less than the simple desire!

Woman in White review

Free Listens has reviewed an interesting Librivox project I was involved with a while back. (This recording has also been getting good reviews on Archive.org.)

The Woman in White is a mystery novel, told like a court case in the voices of different “witnesses”, so for the Librivox recording we used different people for these characters retelling the story. That probably makes the nineteenth century prose an easier listen than it might otherwise be. The novel has also been adapted into a musical by Andrew Loyd Webber, and filmed several times. Two recent books have also provided a “sequel” and a reimagining of the story.

Several of my other recordings have been getting 4-5 star reviews on Archive.org :) Including the old (poor quality) Just So Stories I think so far the new Librivox version is un-reviewed…

Audio week again: More William

Cover of Richmal Crompton's More William

I did say this was audio week round here, didn’t I? Well the Richmal Crompton  project More William that Barbara and I collaborated to read has appeared. It had a somewhat checkered history, a victim of house sales and buying, and B’s new job in Tauranga, but over Easter we finished the reading and now it’s all available.

More William by Richmal Crompton (free audio book) also at Archive.org

“It was on Christmas Day that the centipede appeared on Aunt Evangeline’s plate, the library clock was found mysteriously dismantled, and the conjuring trick with the egg went disastrously wrong. But as William’s Aunt Lucy told him, A Busy Day is a Happy Day – and William is always eager to please adults.
The terror of the Brown family is back, leaving a trail of havoc behind him – with the very best of intentions.” (More William book jacket)

Lovers of British family sitcoms are either already William fans, or are likely to become avid followers of the dogged and imaginative child and his not always patient family.

Richmal Crompton’s William series of books tells the relationship between adults and children from a child’s perspective hilariously highlighting the different viewpoints. Most of us have been William (e.g. children who cannot understand the strange and arbitrary or contradictory rules the adult world imposes) or have dealt with a William (never sure whether he is the little boy pointing out the emperor’s lack of clothes or a nuisance defending his crimes with infuriating [il]logic. Although the world of middle class homes with cooks and gardeners has long vanished generations of adults and children alike laugh at William’s explotis, and often sympathise with either the hero or his long-suffering family.

Somehow Crompton’s William is so real, though somewhat larger than life, that he reduces the other characters to bit-players, and her female leads seem restricted to mere supporting roles. Despite (or perhaps because of) this her stories are enjoyed by girls as much as boys.

More William is the second book in the series and was published in 1922. It contains fourteen hilarious family comedies.

Audio April: Kipling’s Just So Stories

Old Man Kangaroo by Rudyard Kipling

April has just been declared Audio Month in the Bulkeley household, as well as starting nearly daily podcasts on the Essential 100 Bible readings over on 5 Minute Bible, I have just completed another – rather different – project I am rather proud of :) I’ve been reading Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories for Librivox. During the reading I “discovered” a new-to-me story “The Tabu Tale” and also read the picture descriptions (which really are vintage Kipling). This together makes this the most full and complete audio edition ever (so far*) of these magnificent children’s stories that adults love to read, and listen to.

If you want entertaining on a journey, or just want to listen to a new Just So do try them!

* There might one day be a more complete edition, one which includes the “bogus” story “Ham and the Porcupine” an item of biblical pseudigrapha (yes, that Ham not the forbidden one) from Kipling’s final years – but it has almost never been collected in print with the originals, so as well as still being in copyright in the USA, not in the same category with “The Tabu Tale” which was in the first US edition of 1903.

Just So Stories

One of my hobbies is reading for Librivox. I’ve just finished what (I think) is the first/only complete audio book of Kipling’s Just So Stories to contain not only the stories, poems, and picture descriptions, but also the 13th story (see below). I have also written a blurb for the book. Can any one suggest things I should say I have left out, or things I could say better. The goal of the blurb is to encourage people who may enjoy the stories to download them but allow others to save their time ;)
Here’s the blurb (I really would appreciate criticism, as I am not used to writing this sort of text ;O

This recording of the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling includes not only the twelve stories most often published under this title (from the original British first edition) but also “The Tabu Tale” a thirteenth story (that was included in the first US edition). It also includes Kipling’s descriptions of the pictures he drew for the book. These pictures can be found in a PDF file to accompany each chapter (the file has its own page on Archive.org). This is the first complete audio book to contain all thirteen Just So Stories and the picture descriptions.

The Just So Stories for Little Children are among Kipling’s best known and loved works. The Nobel prize-winning author’s enjoyment in playing with the sounds and meanings of words are very evident throughout, and add to adults’ enjoyment of these stories for children. This playfulness is also dramatically present in the plotting. For both reasons these stories been loved by generations of both children and adults. Because the writing plays with sound and meaning they are best enjoyed when read aloud.

As we all are, Kipling was a child of his time and social setting, so for example in “How the Leopard Got his Spots” he uses what one recent reviewer called “the N word” to refer to the Ethiopian. Each listener will need to both examine critically Kipling’s attitudes, and their own.

Twelve of these stories were first published together in 1902 (and in 1903 in the US edition all thirteen were collected) but have been presented in various other ways since. They have hardly (if at all) been out of print since. The Kipling Society publishes an excellent freely available online edition with a good set of notes on the text.

The stories are fanciful, and not intended to offer historical, scientific or religious accounts of the way things became. They are simply and exquisitely stories to enjoy.

So please enjoy them in this reading. (Introduction by Tim Bulkeley)

Note: there is a fourteenth story, “Ham and the Porcupine“, it was published in 1935 and was the last story Kipling wrote, it perhaps lacks the verve and wordplay of the others, and has only rarely been collected with them.

Request for help

The Djinn in charge of all deserts and the original camel

The Djinn in charge of all deserts and the original camel (Rudyard Kipling)

I am recording the Just So Stories for Librivox, and I want to make this the most full and complete audio version of the book ever. So, I have included the 13th story, that was in the first US edition, but left out of most later ones (superstition?), and Kipling’s entertaining descriptions of the pictures he provided for the book, as well as the poems that follow each story. Including the picture descriptions means that listeners need access to the pictures, but many may not have the book, or want to look at a book while listening, so I have prepared a booklet with all the pictures. Can you look at it, and give me feedback and criticism that might make it more usable by people listening to an audio book? (The file is here, as PDF.)

Thanks!