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Three Recommended Audiobooks

Audiobook-Headphone-Logo

Playing on the theme of my previous post, here are a few audiobooks that have provided me with innumerable hours of pleasure and personal satisfaction. My initial inkling to explore the medium was to naturally gravitate towards authors whom I adored in print, but our senses often tend to have a motive of their own. The voice-actor, I’ve come to find, are as pertinent to my satisfaction as the contents of the books themselves. But I was relieved to notice that these audiobooks have been narrated by professionally practiced patrons. Afterall, why shouldn’t they be? They are widely acclaimed classics…anyways, without further ado, here are they:

1) PG Wodehouse – The Code of the Woosters, narrated by Jonathan Cecil (Link)

My love of PGW is no secret and if there is such a thing as pure love, I ought to not apologize for my constant recommendation and so, I will not. What I would commend highly instead is Jonathan Cecil’s most delightful rendition of Bertie Wooster for the silly, urban and brave bachelor that he is. “Constantly landing in the soup,” as my memory reminds me. Wodehouse is an ideal candidate for dramatic narration, radio work, use of his funny metaphors in real life, as the master of verse leaves much to the imagination to fill in for the delights to occur. Pure joy and happiness – get, listen and be prepared to be satisfied to just exist beautifully.

2) Stephen Fry Presents a Selection of Oscar Wilde’s Short Stories (Link)

Stephen over here does a sublime job of exposing the intricate wit of Wilde. For instance, in The Devoted Friend, which recollects the story of the miller and little Hans through a conversation between a duck and a rat, there is a great quality of losing myself in the narrative tracks of Mr. Fry’s voice. I remember Stephen once remarked about standup comedians, that the important thing for a staged performer is to able to communicate to the audience that everything is going to be fine, and reassure them in a way that would make them rest back in their seats. After having read Mr. Fry’s autobiographies and his combats with his emotions and physical insecurities, I’m yet doubly astonished by the reassurance of his voice. There’s hardly any intimidation in these recordings. Plus, there’s something to be said about that brand of British accents (Alistair Cooke, Richard Burton…) towards which we are all, rightfully, suckered in. Evelyn Waugh might lampoon me for making such a statement, but hey, Mr. Waugh can go toss it! Go Wilde and get Fried.

3) Rudyard Kipling – Plain Tales From the Hills, narrated by Mike Harris (Link)

I’ve only recently come across the output of Librivox and I’m astounded. I was on the lookout for short stories a night ago and my mind decided to gravitate towards Rudyard Kipling (funny how two of the three recommendations are children’s tales.) I’ve only read a couple of his shorts before, but I’ve quickly found that Kipling is fun, Kipling is fine, and Kipling exudes that strenuous sense of balance required to live in any day and age (in my school years, the poem ‘If..’ was given to us boys as a sort of anthem for growing up.) The great bard of children’s stories has still yet an arresting effect on my mind, and the beauty he evokes in these tales has a lot to do with the rhythm and music of the prose. Mike Harris, in this free recording, although slightly monotonous, is also possessed of a deep bassy voice that you would instantly agree with if the bass guitar happens to be your favorite instrument. Oh, I forgot to repeat that it’s free. What more, if I have succeeded in converting any of you readers to Wodehouse by now, then feel free to grab his recordings of PGW’s short stories as well, which is bound to bring only more joy and happiness. Undesirable consequences, of course.

Righteo then, cheers for reading.

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In Praise of Audiobooks

Codeofthewoosters 

Given the ever-increasing shortage of time at our disposal for the perusal of books, the accumulation of knowledge, which in turn accords us a greater perception of the world, audiobooks have briskly become a medium in helping to bridge this gap. It is common to find that even students of philosophy entering college, due to the demands of the curriculum (in school and subsequently in college,) have hardly had time to let their minds settle down on a work of Zeno,Cicero, or Plutarch. Although there is the difficulty involved in receiving serious works through the ears whilst on the go to school or work – since it doesn’t allow for the dialogue and the give-and-take process involved in the reading of printed words, there is yet some virtue to be had in the form of an introduction to the said author rather than to not have read the text at all. But these discrepancies shouldn’t distract us in getting to the meat of the matter – which is that some audiobooks – especially, I submit, of short stories, of the dramatization of comedies, and of essays, often end up highly satisfactory in experience.

Take these two forms for instance: what the short story and essay often have in common is that they are contained and are a highly concentrated version of the author’s thoughts and experiences. If written well, the goldmine of experiences in the offering is a small price to pay. Plus, there’s the added bonus of mobility and convenience. We’d be much the poorer without the bewitching beauty of Oscar Wilde’s short stories or John Stuart Mill’s emancipating tract on liberty. There’s no reason why one shouldn’t read the printed text – by all means, do so. But there’s also the satisfaction (that word once again) to be had in the repeated ingestion of these tales and tracts, and what more, whilst on the move.

Secondly, I’d put forth that it makes better listeners of people. The activity demands a certain concentration of the mind and the open receptivity to ideas. It’s important to train our ears to listen with attention to what others have to say. This is conducive to prodding, questioning, and understanding our fellow human beings than to just wait for their uttering to end and have our own preconceptions discharged. A key to developing our individualism is to be able to take the knowledge that one has gained, and turn them into understanding. Thus, the flourishing of human relationships and civilized society demands to a certain extent that we develop our individuality whilst simultaneously acknowledging the individuality of others. To express one’s will and self-determinism is vital to the armoury of the freethinker, and the ears are the antechamber to the birth of new ideas. It is said of Mozart that some of the best tunes he penned were the one’s he picked up from musicians in the streets of Vienna and reworking it for his own purpose, and subsequently, to our profit.

Lastly, I’d also submit that to listen brings back a traditional norm from centuries past when the production of a book was an expensive task. “Group reading” has been quite the trend amongst college students for years, but isn’t it the case that what one gets out of a book is what one reads by themselves? But with the elimination of the visual aspect of printed words, sounds of a narrator enter in through our ears, up into the brain, and strait to the imagination.

This isn’t taking into account the possible talents of the narrator, whose capability to jump in and out of different characters and pacing the scenario as and when it demands. None of this is meant to replace the printed word, but give it a try. You may pleasantly be surprised by Martin Jarvis’s masterful rendition of the Wodehouse classic, The Code of the Woosters. Or Frank Muller’s gloomy recording of All Quiet on the Western Front.

The War That Ended Peace – two recommended books on the Great War of 1914-1918.

Although the Great War of 1914-1918 is skewed in most people’s memory, it did nonetheless bring many large scale changes that shook the foundations of our planet. There was the use of chemical weapons in the Western Front, with exploding canisters giving rise to shouts of ‘Gas!’ by the soldiers. An entire generation were mercilessly sent to the slaughter, with old world tactics of ‘proper attacks’ by unwitting generals confronted by the new order of fortified artillery and machine gun fire. Some soldiers signed up thinking of it in a sense of an adventure and what they found instead was disillusionment. The picture of a world with a jackboot forever on your face or a court-martial if abscond was popularized in this era. Then there’s also the gripping thought of the survivors of this war becoming the trainers of posterity in an even greater war by the mid of that century – giving a whole new meaning to the notion of ‘fathers and sons.’ Continue reading The War That Ended Peace – two recommended books on the Great War of 1914-1918.

What ho fellow wordpressers and interweb addicts

As our first foray into the world of blogging as amusers, provocateurs, connoisseurs of good taste and *gulp* prestidigitators, we would like to throw a couple of names in here who may end up contributing to the elusively sumptuous posts to follow.

The “we” here refers to the blog’s URL. Studio Five Pictures is a small gang of New York based film enthusiasts who have their own production studios in the lower west regions of Manhattan. As a production company, our curiosities are aroused by anything film related – acting, designing, lighting, or even the silver lining of a turgid day of shoot, such as the coffee shop, the excessive cigarettes, the rampant cursing, or the lavatory – a palette to satisfy most preferences. But what it also means is what we also take a great interest in the contents of the films we direct and produce. This can range from literature, politics, psychology, religion, history, the etiquettes of drinking whisky or the differences between a proper swear and an ill-placed one. Thus by exploring and extrapolating the themes of our films, we hope to provide at least slither of personal satisfaction to the readers of this blog.

The chief contributors of this blog may be twofold, with the possible occasional guest appearances. The writer of these sentences is one of them. Myself – I’m Abhinav, or Abhi, or AB. I read a lot, write a lot, have a propensity towards using many words to describe something when few would do (no, no! not superfluity.) And for the most part, I will be the main person to preside over these pages.

The other contributor to this blog is Yunus Shahul. Yunus is a director and producer for the studio and has numerous short-films as producer and director under his belt. Rather than me rambling on about his achievements, I’ll let his reel do the talking. A sneak peak into the possible pleasures and satisfactions that is soon to unfold.

Signing out.

Cheers.

Yunus Director’s Reel