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  • reviews
  • 17
  • helpful votes
  • 201
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  • Foundations of Eastern Civilization

  • By: Craig G. Benjamin, The Great Courses
  • Narrated by: Craig G. Benjamin
  • Length: 23 hrs and 21 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 536
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 465
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 463

China. Korea. Japan. Southeast Asia. How did Eastern civilization develop? What do we know about the history, politics, governments, art, science, and technology of these countries? And how does the story of Eastern civilization play out in today's world of business, politics, and international exchange?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A worthwhile "big-history" survey

  • By Acteon on 11-22-13

Pronunciation of Chin. distracts,but good overview

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-21-17

If you could sum up Foundations of Eastern Civilization in three words, what would they be?

Good basic introduction

What was one of the most memorable moments of Foundations of Eastern Civilization?

I wouldn't say memorable, but Prof. Benjamin's enthusiasm for the subject was definitely felt throughout.

What aspect of Professor Craig G. Benjamin’s performance would you have changed?

At the risk of being pedantic, I REALLY wish Prof. Benjamin's pronunciation of Asian language names and terms was more consistent and accurate. I'm not asking for native pronunciation to be there, but at least show a passing knowledge of East and Southeast Asian language pronunciation norms. Knowing a few East Asian languages, I was often confused and had to wait for context clues or refer to the reference materials to see exactly who or what he was referring to. For those who don't know these languages, I imagine any pronunciation is fine since they will most likely be using the course reference materials. So this shouldn't discourage the everyday student, but if you know these languages or are currently studying the one of them, prepare your ears to be pained.

Any additional comments?

I bought this to see how it faired alongside the courses and texts I used way back in the stone age when I was studying East Asian Studies and Chinese Language and Lit in university. As a general introduction, it does fairly well, and Prof. Benjamin is never boring. My gripes are just nitpicky ones on language, which distracted from my personal overall enjoyment. I am lenient with poor pronunciation coming from non-scholars of the East, but when it's your bread and butter I would expect more. The course, unfortunately, just teaches people to say the names and terms inaccurately. Again, I'm just being pedantic, enjoy and feel free to ignore me.

  • Born Standing Up

  • A Comic's Life
  • By: Steve Martin
  • Narrated by: Steve Martin
  • Length: 4 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,171
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,231
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,199

In the mid-70s, Steve Martin exploded onto the comedy scene. By 1978 he was the biggest concert draw in the history of stand-up. In 1981 he quit forever. Born Standing Up is, in his own words, the story of "why I did stand-up and why I walked away".

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic

  • By Andrew on 11-30-07

Read not Narrated - who would have thought?

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-04-14

Would you try another book from Steve Martin and/or Steve Martin?

I've read much written by Steve Martin, but this was the first time I bought an audio book of his, so I was excited that he was also narrating. However, it didn't take long for disappointment to set in. After having listened to George Carlin, Woody Allen, Neil Gaiman and others narrate their own works, I had high hopes for Martin to narrate his own story. His tone was flat and matter-of-fact; didn't stir up empathy for him. I would have gotten more out of it having read it than listening to it. So whereas I would buy another book by Martin, I wouldn't buy an audio book with his narration. His narration made what would have been an interesting memoir rather boring.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I would have hired a professional narrator. The story is his own - can't improve on that.

Any additional comments?

I was looking to engage with an actor whom I've enjoyed since growing up in the 70s, but couldn't get past the feeling that he wasn't too interested in his own text. I wasn't expecting a "wild and crazy guy" with a voice out of The Jerk, but at least the voice that made such movies as Roxanne and LA Story entertaining and moving.

  • Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain

  • By: A. Lee Martinez
  • Narrated by: Scott Aiello
  • Length: 7 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2,388
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,228
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,226

Emperor Mollusk. Intergalactic Menace. Destroyer of Worlds. Conqueror of Other Worlds. Mad Genius. Ex-Warlord of Earth. Not bad for a guy without a spine. But what's a villain to do after he's done... everything. With no new ambitions, he's happy to pitch in and solve the energy crisis or repel aliens invaders should the need arise, but if he had his way, he'd prefer to be left alone to explore the boundaries of dangerous science. Just as a hobby, of course. Retirement isn't easy though.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hilariously wacky!

  • By Kat Hooper on 04-09-12

Fun, Light, Escapist Quick Listen

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-19-13

Any additional comments?

I am all in favor of farce and absurdity. I will admit that I have been wanting to read a book by Martinez for a while now and just haven't gotten around to it. Taking this audio version of one of his books was a good way to fit him into my schedule and be introduced to his books. I will also freely admit that it was the absurdity of the title which brought me along with my love of old time radio sic fi, which took concepts like Martinez's seriously - oh the 40's and 50's, when life was so much simpler.

So can Martinez compare to people like Pratchett, Adams, Holt? I will need more books to know, but I think this was a fun start. Aiello's narration and characterizations were good. I had read one review that wasn't kind to Mr. Aiello for another book, but I believe he did a good job of showing the pomposity of the main character, the barely contained fury of our heroes companion, and the fanaticism of the pulp antagonist. The secondary characters all had distinct voices and personalities that I felt were spot on.

Was the ending predictable? Yes, saw the big reveal from a mile away.

Was the book with it's "reformed" anti-hero still fun? You bet!

I'm looking forward to another trip into the odd mind of A. Lee Martinez and sharing his works with my daughter. 11 year olds and 40 year olds can both be delighted by this quick read (listen).

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • X Minus One

  • Old Time Radio, Sci-Fi Series
  • By: Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, and others
  • Narrated by: Old Time Radio
  • Length: 20 hrs and 5 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 215
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 193
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 190

X Minus One was a half-hour science fiction radio series broadcast from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958 in various timeslots on NBC. Initially a revival of NBC's Dimension X (1950-51), X Minus One is widely considered among the finest science fiction dramas ever produced for radio. The first 15 episodes were new versions of Dimension X episodes, but the remainder were adaptations by NBC staff writers, including Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, of newly published science fiction stories.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Dying Art Form: Great Old Time Radio Sci Fi

  • By Amazon Customer on 03-19-13

The Dying Art Form: Great Old Time Radio Sci Fi

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-19-13

What did you love best about X Minus One?

Many of the stories in this radio drama are staples of the Sci Fi canon, and it was fun to hear them acted out with the serious tones of the times. I'm a sucker for radio dramas in many ways, and wish audible would get more of these old shows in their collection.

While many of the concepts might be dated and pulpy, there is a sincerity in the voices of the actors. I was immediately transported back to the days of my childhood (in the 70's - not THAT far back), when I would curl up under my blanket at night to listen to scary and fantastical stories in my room, while my parents watched Gun Smoke, Bonanza, The Waltons or whatever was on that night - we had different tastes.

The special effects come off surprisingly well, and there's plenty of room to flesh out the images in your head.

What was one of the most memorable moments of X Minus One?

Ray Bradbury has always been one of my favorites, so I enjoyed the dramatizations of the stories included. Nightfall by Asimoz was also a standout. But if I had to pinpoint what makes this a memorable collection, it's that we get to hear stories that haven't been published, i.e. the stories written by Lefferts and Kinoy specifically for the program. Whereas nowadays we can see reruns of classic shows on TV and see the skill that many script writers had, sadly we are not able to get so many of the stories from radio easily.

Which scene was your favorite?

Hard to choose a favorite scene or story. There were many "corny" scenes, which when filtered through the lens of "that was the 50's" are still more enjoyable than cringe worthy.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As for being moved, it was more about being taken back to the "tell me a bedtime story" era of my youth, the nostalgia that keeps me optimistic and wanting to go to bed with just the slight sense of unease that the universe is huge and there just might be a monster under the bed.

Any additional comments?

If there is something to complain about, it's that the collection is not complete as it states. It ends after about the first third of episodes. I knew this coming in to the purchase. Though there are many repeats on the original broadcast run, there's no way 20 hours can fit 120+ episodes. I'm hoping with get the rest out soon and correctly call this Volume 1 of 3.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • The Passage

  • The Passage Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: Justin Cronin
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick, Adenrele Ojo, Abby Craden
  • Length: 36 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 15,239
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,031
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,017

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • You love it or you hate it...

  • By Nicole on 06-23-10

Pretty good overall except for one narrator

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-08-13

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would in fact recommend this audio book, but would also recommend that the listener have the ebook version or print version, as well. The main reason is that I can see some people having difficulty with the jumping around between story lines. I understand it gets more complicated with the next book, The Twelve.That said, overall the narration works well.As for the story itself (which is most important, yes?), beyond the obvious comparison's to The Stand, the book stands well on its own and does a good job of linking the myths behind vampirism with the "vampirism as virus" storyline. Cronin is a good writer and world builder. It's good that he doesn't let himself get caught up so much in world building that he tries to create a "new speak" for the world a century from now - which would have made an audible book hard to follow when trying to decode "future slang" from only listening.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Passage?

Being honest, I found the book more entertaining than moving. So for me the memorable moments are any time we get to hear the thoughts of The Twelve. Even though we only get "I am Babcock, I am The Many" etc, it's the eerie cadence of the writing and the narration that works to keep these background antagonists intriguing enough to want to see them more in the next book.

Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not heard other works by these narrators, but I do have to say that while I enjoyed two of the narrators, the narrator for Sara's diary at the end (and at other moments) kinda destroyed the book for me and left out the possibility of any emotional punch at the end.Even though Sara is giddy about her near future and apprehensive about her longterm future, the narration takes this woman who has gone through many trials, has risked death or becoming a vampire many times, has seen people she loves killed, has traveled through a post-apocalytic landscape, is a medical professional - the narration takes this woman and makes her sound like a college coed without much life experience who still wants to sound like a teenager. What could have been an ending that built in its tension to a strong emotional punch in the gut (though the tone of the writing lent itself to much foreshadowing), ended up sounding silly.Since she only narrated a few times, I didn't knock off more than one star, still giving the book 4 stars overall.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It wasn't a book that lent itself to laughter, which I found entirely in keeping with the book's theme, so it's probably good that I never laughed. However,I wasn't moved to tears, either.

Any additional comments?

While the author did explore many issues, I did find it odd that Cronin didn't address whether any religious/superstitious/cultish cultures evolved in the wake of such a strange apocalypse. I can't imagine a world overrun by the "living dead" not creating a few new traditions or building on old. Even when cult-like groups were created, e.g., Haven, it was more the mind control of one of The Twelve which seemed to be guiding things rather than a belief system. The only thing that didn't completely ring true for me. Granted, we only really saw three communities: The Colony, Haven, and a military unit, so maybe we'll learn more about the mythology of this new world in book two. All in all, a good listen (read) if you are looking for a novel about people put in extraordinary situations and trying to find the heroism in themselves. It doesn't matter in my mind that some will label it "genre" fiction and dismiss it - there's much to satisfy any reader.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful