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  • gilwilson 4:07 PM on March 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    NerdUp Podcast #002 "Matter of Life & Death" 

    the nerdup podcast goes on the road.  Podcasting on his Commute home, Gil T. Wilson discusses nerdy things such as the Graphic Audio release of Marvel Comic’s Civil War Audiobook.http://www.gilwilson.com/audio/nerdup002.mp3

  • gilwilson 11:06 PM on March 19, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    “Civil War” (Marvel Comics) by Stuart Moore 


    “Civil War” (Marvel Comics)
    by Stuart Moore
    Multi-cast production
    Produced by Graphic Audio
    Approx 6 hours

    Okay I have to start this review out with a confession. That confession is that I just experienced a six hour nerdgasm. Holy freakin’ cow, this audiobook just rocked my world.

    Now that that is out of the way let explain a few things. I’m a huge Marvel Comics fan and have been for years. What makes me a fan is that all of Marvel’s heroes are realistic. Yes I know super powers aren’t real, but Marvel makes it so that the heroes have everyday problems and how they cope with those problems and fight for what is right is what gives them the everyman experience to which the average reader can relate. Iron Man/Tony Stark struggles with his own alcoholism, Spider-man/Peter Parker has to contend with high school (in the early years) and bullies, the Fantastic Four have family problems and Ben Grimm has to contend with being made of rock, never able to be normal. Being able to relate to the average comic book reader makes Marvel, in my opinion, the most enjoyable comic book publisher around.

    Over a decade ago It was announced that a live-action Spider-man movie was going to be released and when this theatrical magic that was thrust upon us by Sam Raimi hit the theatres I was one of the first in line. Spider-man is my all time favorite, by the way. When the opening movie credits started I wept tears of excitement. Finally, my hero is on the big screen. By the end of the movie I was emotionally drained and pumped up at the same time. Not long after the release of the Spider-man movie I was forced to stop my weekly visits to the comic book store due to an economic downfall on my part and later moving to an area that had no comic book stores. I wasn’t able to go back to reading comics until just about a year ago.

    During my comics hiatus I missed some exciting events in the Marvel universe. One of which was the mega-crossover event that is covered by this novel. The “Civil War” created a major schism between the heroes in the Marvel Universe. This schism is a lot like the events that happened after 9/11 and the following P.A.T.R.I.O.T. A.C.T. in the United States. Where people (heroes in this case) were forced to give up freedom for the nation’s security. After a major accident that occurs with some heroes and leaves a town in New England decimated and over 900 dead, the government decides that superheroes must become registered and screened before they can use their powers. Captain America does not believe that freedom should be surrendered, and Iron Man (who stands to make lots of money selling weapons to Homeland Security in the deal) thinks that this is what must be done to protect innocents. the superheroes are split on this and thus begins the “Civil War.” Those that do not register are hunted down and imprisoned.

    In a curious note, this story can also be related to today’s issue of gun control. Where some events that have taken American lives lead to gun legislation arguments.

    During my comics hiatus I had heard about this crossover and was extremely curious. I can’t say I was too excited because I hate those stories that pit hero vs. hero. But with the political aspect involved I was intrigued to see how each hero would react. I then decided when the chance came up I would find the trade paperbacks of this crossover and read them, this turned out not to be so easy for me. Then I heard a novelization of the event was coming out and I knew I’d be reading that, but just when I heard about the release of the novel I heard that GraphicAudio was going to do an audiobook version of the novel. I was psyched at this point and knew right away I was going to wait for that release. After nearly a year of constantly checking the GraphicAudio website, it was released and to make it even more exciting was offered a review copy. Pure excitement ran through me. Finally, I will hear some of the world’s greatest heroes as portrayed by the excellent productions of GraphicAudio.

    I was first introduced to GraphicAudio about five years ago through a DC comics audiobook. That production blew me away. The fights were all realistic, and the otherworldly sounds that can only happen in sci-fi or comics were so original that It seemed as though they had actually gone to a rift in space and recorded a superhero battle. I then started listening to every comic book audiobook created by GraphicAudio. At the time all they did were DC comics and even though I was a marvel fan I took them all in and just let the “Movie in your Mind” aspect of GraphicAudio wash over me. In fact because of GraphicAudio, when I did start purchasing comics again I picked up some DC comics and gave them a chance where I would have not done before.

    GraphicAudio’s tagline is, “A Movie in your Mind,” and with every single audiobook they produce they deliver. With surreal sound effects and exciting music the illustrated artistry that is the main punch of comic books comes to life with sound. Once you experience this from GraphicAudio you will not be able to listen to an audiobook the same again.

    On top of the excellent ambient sound, GraphicAudio has some of the best voice actors I’ve ever heard. Each actor portraying the heroes in “Civil War” captured every essence of the characters and the plethora of emotions, which really pulled out the basis which makes Marvel my favorite. The actors all related to the characters and made them sound like heroes with the nuance of everyday problems. I was ready to nit pick this aspect, being the big Marvel fan, but there was nothing done wrong. Every hero sounded exactly like I imagined, no wait, strike that, they sounded better than I imagined.

    Once again I was so psyched about this marriage of Marvel and GraphicAudio that, again, I wept with excitement at the opening credits of this audiobook, and even doubly so when Spider-man fought his battles. I’m sure the other drivers in traffic would have thought me crazy if they happened to look over while I was cheering Spidey on in his battle.

    All I can say is, no matter what your preference in comics, audiobooks or escapism, you must go out and get this audiobook and be ready to be blown away.  When this book was over I was physically and emotionally drained, yet pumped up.  Pumped and ready for more.

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  • gilwilson 6:50 PM on March 17, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: adventures, , , , , , , ,   

    “Gun Boss of Tumbleweed” by. L. Ron Hubbard 


    “Gun Boss of Tumbleweed”
    by. L. Ron Hubbard
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio
    Approx 2 hours

    What I like about books would be a list that would deserve its own blog entry, but for right now I’ll summarize what that entry would contain. Books are great for learning new skills and ideas, but the best part of books would be the entertainment. I’m a big fan of the escapism provided by books. I talk to a few people that say that the more fantastical stories the less interested they are, for me it is just the opposite. The more fantastical the more chance I have to escape and enjoy the story. I’m one of those that just absorbs the story and allows it to unfold as I progress through the reading (or listening, in the case of audiobooks).

    During the mid-20th century in the United States, the pre-cursor to comic books, Pulp magazines provided that escapism for the masses. These magazines were called pulps because of the cheap pulpy paper used in their printing. Usually selling for a dime an issue these magazines would contain thrilling stories in many genres. If you were a sci-fi fan you could get yourself a variety of stories from different magazines. If you were a fan of westerns they had you covered with many different western magazines. This time around in my diving into another group of stories by L. Ron Hubbard are from the western genre and even more specific from the same “Thrilling Westerns” magazine.

    I was never a fan of westerns until I was introduced to these stories from Hubbard, even more specifically, through the audiobooks produced by Galaxy Audio. Galaxy Audio takes these already fun stories and through the magic of audio production turn these stories into perfect escapism stories. Mixing in the music between chapters creates the perfect transition, the original music fits the mood and settings of the stories so well you almost don’t notice it, but what you do notice you are more involved with the story for. The sound effects are so spot on that at times during the gunfights you’ll be dodging bullets, and on the trail rides you’ll be dusting off the trail dust. Mix that all in with the excellent voice actors used and you’ll find your 30 minute commute seeming to be over before you know it. Or like I did a couple of times, drive the long way home so that you can get as much listening time in as possible.

    It is this high production value that makes these Hubbard westerns fantastical. The feeling that you are riding along or dodging bullets along with the heroes and villains. It is because of this that no matter what the genre, I will be anxiously waiting for any and all future releases from Galaxy Audio.

    This time around the release contains two stories. The first and title story, “Gun Boss of Tumbleweed,” was originally published in the April, 1949 issue of “Thrilling Western” magazine. This story features Mart Kincaid who is a hired gun hand for Gar Malone, except the hiring was actually done through blackmail. Gar knows a secret about Mart’s brother and in order to keep that secret Gar forces Mart to do the dirty work. The latest job is to run the true owners off the Singing Canyon spread. Mart hates Gar and hates the jobs but does them to protect his brother. This particular job is the last straw for Mart and decides it’s time to make his last stand.

    The next story, “Blood on His Spurs,” was originally published in the September, 1949 issue of “Thrilling Western” magazine. This time around a feud between two men, Bates and McLean, is put aside to save to save McLean’s son and stop a band of cattle rustlers.

    Fun western adventures with audio production that will put you right in the middle of the action.

  • gilwilson 8:32 PM on March 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , attila the hun, , , , , globe trekking, , , thomas perry, treasure hunting   

    “The Tombs” by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry 


    “The Tombs”
    by Clive Cussler and Thomas Perry
    read by Scott Brick
    published by Penguin Audio
    11 hours and 21 minutes

    When it comes to global trekking adventures I have found a new favorite author in Clive Clussler. This is the second book by him I’ve heard, and it will definitely not be my last. If you are a fan of the world-travelling, clue-solving, treasure-hunting adventure novels (which made Dan Brown famous) then check out this thrilling author and especially this novel.

    Clive Cussler has several adventure novels and from the two I’ve read they are a thrill a minute ride into mystery. The one I read before this was in the world of Dirk Pitt and the NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency) personnel. The Dirk Pitt novels run more along the line of a detective stories where as this novel, “The Tombs,” is the fourth in the adventures of Sam and Remy Fargo.

    The Fargos are world renowned treasure hunters who spend their time not hunting treasure for profit, rather, they hunt the treasure for the thrill. They also have a penchant for running into egomaniacal evil men seeking the same treasures. This time around they run into not one but two evil egomaniacs all while hunting for the treasures of Attila the Hun.

    Legend has it that Attila was buried in a gold coffin which was surrounded by jewels then placed in a coffin of silver surrounded by the treasures of many kings conquered by the Huns and then that coffin was placed in a coffin of iron. The final resting place of Attila is a mystery and lost to the ages, until a German Archaeologist discovers a massive burial site with a thousand Hun warriors that may contain a clue to the final resting place of Attila the Hun.

    Along the way Sam and Remy Fargo must battle a group of thieves wanting to jump any treasure claims, a Hungarian crime lord who believes himself to be a direct descendant of Attila, and a Russian mob boss bent on kidnapping Remy for the treasure. This adventure takes the reader/listener on a clue-solving treasure-hunting trip through Eastern Europe. Along the way they will be riddles and digging up tombs while dodging bullets and bad guys.

    The book is read by Scott Brick, who is one of the best audiobook voices available. Brick’s talent for bringing out all the emotion and portrayal of various characters makes this book come alive. This performance from Brick combined with the writing from Cussler creates a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat and hammering out clues until the very end.

    As a bit of a side note, I’ve discovered that Clive Cussler writes himself as a character into each novel. Each time the Clive Cussler character is a bit of a Deus-ex-Machina character providing help for the hero when the reader/listener thinks there is no hope. This time around he just happens to be at the right place when all chips are down and is able to help Sam and Remy escape. This makes for a fun piece in the books that also is a bit of comic relief in the form of an inside joke.

  • gilwilson 8:15 PM on March 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bonobos, Brian Hare, chimpanzees, cognition, dog training, , domestication, , , , Vanessa Woods, wolves   

    “The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think” by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods 


    “The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think”
    by Brian Hare & Vanessa Woods
    read by Fred Sanders
    Published by Penguin Audio
    Approx. 8 hours

    Every once in a while I venture off into the world of non-fiction, and I never know what will intrigue me. This time I saw this book on the list of new releases from Penguin audio and, being the owner of a too-smart-for-his-own-good Jack Russell/Beagle mix, I had to see what it was all about. I was surprised by the material contained. Not only did this book talk about the cognitive abilities of dogs, but also the reason dogs are smart and how dogs compare to other animals thought to be smart.

    Brian Hare is a dog researcher, evolutionary anthropologist, and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, and Vanessa Woods is a Research Scientist at Duke University, and has worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo studying bonobos, and the People’s Republic of Congo studying chimpanzees. Together they uncover the intelligence of dogs and how they became intelligent.

    The gist of the findings is that dogs domesticated themselves and thanks to being around humans they are smarter than their ancestors, wolves. While that sums up the book into one short sentence in no way does it reveal the depth of the information covered in this book. The book doesn’t just talk about dogs. With Vanessa Woods studying bonobos and chimpanzees one can expect some comparisons between dogs and the intelligence of the primates, and as a listener to this audiobook I enjoyed hearing about the intelligence of all the animals mentioned. One of the points made is that intelligence cannot be measured the same for all species, for example if a bird has the ability to crack a nut to get to the tasty morsel inside the shell that is a sign of intelligence, but just because a dog cannot crack a nut does not mean the dog is not intelligent. Testing has to be relative and the tests discussed throughout this book are very intriguing.

    Along with dogs, chimps and bonobos the authors discuss the domestication and intelligences of foxes and wolves, so all around this book provides a great study in animal cognition and sociology. With all of that information this book also discusses the ways in which dogs interact with humans and why they so eagerly want to please us.

    Taking in all the information from this book one could gather some really good hints and tips as to how to train your dog and why some methods work and others don’t. Some of the discussion of the training methods also includes a bit of a philosophy/psychology discussion about behaviorism and cognitivism. Like I said enjoyed the plethora of information and discussions in this audiobook. I just thought I was going to find out more about why my dog is “too” smart, but ended up getting a general liberal arts education.

    This is a very informative book containing some great anecdotes that any dog lover will enjoy as well as create a better understanding for man’s best friend.

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