Auralgasms #7

Happy National Audiobook Month!! Also? HAPPY PRIDE!! Oh wait, wrong Pride… In honor of PRIDE, a hopefully positive SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, and the closing of National Audiobook month, I’m featuring my all-time favorite LGBT audiobooks! Honestly, they’re just good as hell books. Gay/straight/asexual matters not. The story or the memoir or the short stories … Read more

Auralgasms #6

Auralgasms.

 

This week’s auralgasm, I’m featuring a narrator who is so ridiculously prolific (almost 600 listings on Audible) I had a difficult time deciding how and when to feature him.

Quick anecdote about the narrator I’m featuring before I dive into my review of his reading, ok? Ok. He’s British–very proper BBC Britty, and so is one of my daughter’s favorite people in the entire world, her Guncle Will. Will is also very proper BBC Britty. (Not always, he’s from the midlands–and used to sound as such. Oxford, Cambridge, and Princeton snipped the country right the fuck out of his accent.)

Anyway–oddly enough, their actual speaking voices are eerily similar. So similar, in fact, that one evening, when I was cleaning the kitchen, and listening to Bleak House on my small speaker on the counter, my daughter popped-up out of bed at eleven at night expecting to see her Guncle Will bringing her a bubble tea and storytime–as is their custom. Now, she’s listening to the young reader’s version of Gulliver’s Travels on audio, and she insists it’s her Guncle Will and not…

Simon Vance

Simon Vance is one of those narrators (along with, perhaps, Dina Pearlman, Davina Porter, and John Lee) whose voice is heard so often, in so many instances, that one sort of accepts it as a piece of the collective consciousness of readers. However, Simon Vance is not simply mellifluous notes imposed on words to carry a tale–no–he is the sort of engaging chameleon who interferes with one’s daily life, because, the soul he gives his characters cleaves to one’s imagination like taffy on an apple.

Honestly, there isn’t a genre he hasn’t narrated. However, the books wherein I feel his artistry is most evident? The classics. I have converted more than one reader who has eschewed the great works of literati past in favor of the sole concentration of contemporary authors, by luring them with the promise of Simon Vance’s quietly explosive performances of Victorian or Edwardian literature.

Me:”You don’t like (insert name of any one of a gajillion books here)? That’s probably because you couldn’t scrape through the text. Here–listen to this.”

Them:”Ok, it turns out I do like (Dickens, Wilde, Wodehouse…).”

{insert a long conversation about whichever.}

Simon Vance brings the past to life in a way that breeds curiosity into whether or not the man is actually a time traveling actor, bridging worlds between the late 1800s in England, and my kitchen, at eleven at night, whilst I’m completing my day’s tidying up.

I think this is his car.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/91470825″ params=”color=4a7c9a” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

In fact, I’m so very confident in the universal appeal of Simon Vance’s narration, I’m introducing a new series on B2B which his narrating could be a huge factor in.

adoring assigned reading

 

The new series will feature books which may or may not have been assigned to us in High School or college, and which we inevitably cheated ourselves by utilizing Cliff’s notes or the like, and avoided reading them. I will pair each chosen book with a contemporary novel with similar themes or a contemporary author who is greatly inspired by the classical novel/author.

How does Simon Vance play (pun intended) into this? Many–and I mean many of the classics I’ll be exploring have been put to digital by Simon Vance, and even better, many are available in the extremely affordable whispersync pricing through Audible and Amazon.

The classic I’ll be writing about is The Picture of Dorian Gray  by Oscar Wilde, and the pair is Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/91745631″ params=”color=4a7c9a” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Now for the recipe.

Ok, I’ll admit, I haven’t a bloody clue what foods Simon Vance may favor. Yes, I have asked narrators in the past for their favorites, but for this Auralgasms post I decided to go with the theme of British literature as opposed to narrating favorite. Why? Ok, the honest answer is that I’m obsessed with this current recipe, and I’m just going to (very possibly wrongly) assume that like all British people (because I’m American and I generalize the fuck out of people from other countries) Simon Vance likes curry. (Honestly–who doesn’t? Ok, I can think of several people, but I’m purposefully ignoring them.)

Curry is superduperpopular in the UK. India, a former piece of the British Empire, salted the country with its culinary influence and left a lasting impression. It’s available pretty much everywhere, in pretty much every incarnation.

here it is…

Creamy Coconut-Curry Almond Butter

It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s so godsdamned good with fig and date jam it’ll make you want to sexytime with a British colonist–bikram style.

creamy coconut-curry almond butter creamy coconut-curry almond butter

[bctt tweet=”Great #Auralgasms and Creamy Coconut Curry Almond Butter #audiobook #vegan #FitFluential”]

creamy coconut-curry almond butter creamy coconut-curry almond butter

 

Creamy Coconut-Curry Almond Butter

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: blender appetizer breakfast condiment sandwich side snack paleo vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (1 jar)

  • 2 cups roasted unsalted almonds (or really, any nuts)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid form
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

devour with your face hole.

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Auralgasms #5

Auralgasms.

 

It is no secret that I have mostly reserved my audiobook enjoyment to works of fiction. There is just something about layered voices telling a gripping tale that fills me with a pregnancy of want. Simply put–tell me a story.

ready for my bedtime story. get to it.

However, in the last month, I’ve been absurdly busy with my personal scholarship, and desirous of the words held in the books I wanted to re-read, but my time was limited. My recent conversion to a fully plant-based diet made me want to read the books that held this conviction in my mind.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

In Defense of Food

Salt Sugar Fat

So I decided to throw caution to the wind, and listen to a non-fiction audiobook. I’ve done it before and enjoyed it, with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and The Devil in the White City, but those books are so…gah…not typical–different–almost fiction in the manner in which they’re told. I never really placed those in the same category as other non-fic books.

When I purchased the books I wanted to re-read on audible/scribd, I paid no attention to the narrator. For me, this is akin to Sarah Jessica Parker just “throwing something on” to go to a premiere. I’m fucking picky with my narrators. A bad narrator can RUIN a book for me. I’ll either stop the story and never pick it up again, or I’ll switch to the words on pages version so fast it’ll make your head spin.

The first book I queued up was Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It’s an old favorite of mine. I’ve read and re-read it several times over. It’s one of those books that is the perfect sort of splint for your backbone. It is the gird for my plant-based loins. It answers a simple question: “If I can eat virtually anything, what should I eat?” That’s a BFD.

I downloaded the book and went about preparing dinner. (because, meta-life, yo.) I quietly chopped vegetables as I the words soothed me.

About fifteen minutes into my dinner preparation and reading/listening, I thought to myself homeboy sounds just like Leto Atreideswtf?! Sure enough, scrolling through my library, separated by narrator, I realize HOMEBOY IS LETO ATREIDES. That moment led me to scroll through, and realize he’s also Larson’s narrator, and Moss’s, and damn it all to hell, he’s the narrator of the book I’ve been putting off, (which was hugely and highly rec’d to me by a close friend) The Doll Maker

BTW, I’ve started The Doll Maker, and it’s scaring the fuck out of me–as expected. THANKS FOR THAT.

Who is the narrator?

Scott Brick.

He’s won a few audies, and racked up a fuckton of articles on sites like Audiofile, and the WSJ.

But the real reason to listen to him?

BECAUSE YOU WANT HIM TO READ TO YOU. This is the prevailing theme in my auralgasms posts. Do you want this narrator to read to you, and why?

Obviously, the answer (for me) is yes, or he’d not be featured, but it’s for very specific reasons. To me, Scott Brick’s style of narration harkens back to the golden age of radio. That of Orson Welles and “The War of the Worlds.”  It’s fantastical melodrama. It’s gripping and damn fun. When he narrates nonfic, it’s relaxed and easy to listen to. Even with challenging subject matter–it’s easy to listen to.

I am truly enjoying listening to a book about how we’ve been completely fucked sideways by the tenets of capitalism; and about how big agri-business does not give a single fuck that they put profit above everything–even sick children.  Sure, I’m getting fist-smashingly angry all over again, but not at the narrator or the author–at fucking Cargill and General Mills.

His voice is alarmingly disarming. You just kind of sit back and say, “well, huh. how about that?” Then you keep listening. You’re absolutely compelled to keep listening.

When I was doing research into his narrating life, so that I could design a recipe for this post, I found out something interesting: his partner is THE FUCKING BLENDER GIRL. I mean, I’m a food blogger, of COURSE I follow the blender girl. More than that, he’s FUCKING PLANT-BASED. GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! KISMET! It was totally the universe telling me to write this post! 

The recipe was easy to think about after that. I give you the recipe inspired by this narrator:

Cuban Chickpea and Plantain Burgers

(ok, he’s not Cuban, but still…)

[bctt tweet=”Listen to your gut. #Auralgasms and Cuban Chickpea-Plantain burgers. #Audiobooks #vegan #FitFluential”]

 

 

Cuban Chickpea and Plantain Veggie Burgers

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: bake entree sandwich gluten-free kosher vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (9 patties)

  • 1 very ripe plantain
  • 1, 15.5 oz can chickpeas-drained
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • juice of half of a lime
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4-1 cup binder of your choice–breadcrumbs, tortilla crumbs, coconut flour, dry puffed amaranth–ground, etc etc etc

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350

puree plantain with spices in a food processor

add remaining ingredients and pulse until just a bit smoother than very chunky slowly add in binder of your choice, until it looks like you could form it into balls

form into baseball sized balls

flatten into 3/4″ thick patties

place on cookie sheet lined with parchment

bake for 10-15 minutes

serve as you would a traditional burger or in a lettuce wrap

to freeze leftover patties, wrap first in plastic wrap, and then foil, and then place in a ziptop bag.

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Auralgasms #4

YAYAYAYAYYY!!!

ONE WEEK UNTIL THE BOSTON MARATHON!!!

*insert nervous vomiting here.*

Ok, Ok, let’s get beyond the nervous gag reflex and move onto happier subjects. Namely: AUDIOBOOKS!

Because, it’s time for:

Auralgasms.

 

This week’s narrator is OH SO very satisfying. Actually, she was the first narrator I ever  listened to!

When I was pregnant with the Peanut, I was placed on bed rest. I don’t know if you know this, but BED REST SUCKS YOUR SOUL OUT OF YOUR EARS AND SLINGS ARROWS AT YOUR HAPPY.

Beyond that, my hyperemesis was giving me such bad vertigo that I couldn’t read without getting dizzy. I would get about ten pages into something, and spots would appear on the page, and the nausea would become so overwhelming that I would have to lie on my side with a pillow over my head for complete darkness. It was miserable.

I needed an alternative. I’d watched every Golden Girls episode 198357x, I could quote entire scenes from Wes Anderson films, and DJ Lance from Yo Gabba Gabba had infiltrated my dreams at night.

On a whim, I took out my 3g iPhone to see if Amazon sold audiobooks. (This was earrrrly 2011, and I don’t think I even owned a KINDLE at that point.) Lo and behold! HUZZAH! There was an APP FOR THAT.

That night, and I think it was release day, I purchased my very first audiobook:

I had never before heard of the author. I had certainly not heard the narrator read another story. However, the subject matter intrigued me, the narrator had killer ratings, and JUST LOOK AT THOSE SHOES, THAT SCYTHE, that manicure. 

I listened to the brief sample, and I thought “well this is different, but okkkkk.”

An hour later, I was hooked. I didn’t come up for air until it was finished. My husband and son must have thought I’d gone into some weird pregnant-lady trance to cope with the drudgery of being forced to lie about like some sort of land-stranded manatee.

The narrator, Lorelei King, was my gateway drug. She was the one to give me my first auralgasm.  I was blown away that having the book read to me could not only be an efficient manner in which to feed my incessant need for books, but that it could also enhance the enjoyment of the experience of reading.

Lorelei King’s narrations are second to none. It’s impossible to tally the numbers of characters she has going at any one gallop. I’m certain that she lives with a cast of at least 50 (that I could count in research for this post) in her head every day.

I’m not lying. I counted fifty individual voices. I’d also be lying if I told you I didn’t buy more of the books she’s narrated as “research.”

Sidenote: did you know they’ve put Louisa May Alcott on audio? I squeed. (loudly, and to tangible, physical effect.)

She narrates TWO of my favorite series: Mercy Thompson and the above mentioned Charley Davidson. I’ve reached the point where I don’t even buy the kindle version of those books, JUST the audiobook. If Lorelei King isn’t reading it to me?

Lorelei King’s comedic timing could set the international clock it’s so fucking perfect. I’m not kidding. There have been times, where I was just in awe. In one of the Charley books, I can’t remember which, Charley makes a very funny quip about how she acquired a jockey from either a hockey or soccer team. I remember A: laughing hysterically, and B: being completely wowed. It was as though Lorelei King was absolutely making it up on the fly, just as though she’d thought of the joke just then. Exactly as intended.

Flawless.

 

Incredible, right?

Want to know the WILDEST thing (in my opinion) about Lorelei King?

Ok, so most narrators have a pretty recognizable speaking voice. If you hear them in a conversation, you recognize their speech as their “base” voice. That vaguely familiar inner-monologue or “God voice” that runs through the books they narrate.

Lorelei King sounds NOT ONE FUCK like her conversational voice you hear over the radio or in an interview and it SCREWED WITH MY DAMN MIND.

por ejemplo:

What.The.Actual.Fuck.

That means that every single voice this woman records is a character. Let that sink in.

Mind.Blown.

She’s also apparently quite lovely, because when I asked her on the twitter if she had a favorite sweet, she was awesome and responded.

She happened to mention two of my favorite things: pistachio and meringue. 

Immediately, I thought of my latest NYC obsession: merveilleux. It’s a Belgian/French treat made of meringue cookies stacked with fresh whipped cream, and rolled in something awesome. I’ve made a few variations, and I have to tell you, this one is my favorite so far.

Pistachio and Orange Blossom Merveilleux

A delicate Merveilleux with orange blossom whipped cream and rolled in toasted pistachios.

pistachio and orange blossom merveilleux

[bctt tweet=”#Auralgasms featuring @loreleiking AND! Think French pastry is difficult? YOU’RE RIGHT! but I can help. #Merveilleux”]

pistachio and orange blossom merveilleux

 

Pistachio and Orange Blossom Merveilleux

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: depends if you make your own m

Cook Time: see above.

Keywords: bake appetizer breakfast dessert cake cookie

Ingredients (6 merveilleux)

  • 12 meringue cookies. I like this recipe.

for the cream

  • 10 oz box heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

toppings

  • roasted, salted, crushed pistachios
  • orange or clementine zest.

Instructions

to make the whipped cream

whip the cream in a mixer with the whisk attachment on high

when it starts to peak, sift in the sugar

slowly add water and extract

Avengers, ASSEMBLE!

place six of the meringues top up

pipe or scoop a few tbsp of cream onto each meringue

place another meringue on top, face down

smear the sides of each meringue stack with whipped cream like you would frost a cake

roll in pistachio

freeze for 30 minutes

pipe a rosette on top of each stack and top with zest and nuts!

EAT THIS RTF AWAY!

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Auralgasms #3

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before today, but I am in rehearsals “Twelfth Night.” I am playing Viola. I’m going to assume I’m getting to play this awesome role because of talent, and possibly nepotism, and not because of nepotism and the fact that I’m shaped like a 13 year old boy.

Anyways, that’s beside the point. Theatre, in all of its madness and chaos of live performance and all that rot, is essentially a liquid, living, visual experience. As an actor, I’m able to use my body, my face, and the stage to portray everything I want to as that character. Really, it’s all very Waiting for Guffman. 

This is where we’re going to pretend I get all Inside the Actor’s Studio about acting, and what it takes to do it and yadda yadda yadda, more shit people don’t care about if they’re not actors….

But I will answer this:

Because it’s so easy. It’s “cunt punt.” Sorry, PSM.

Moving on, my point is, when I’m on stage or in front of a camera, I have a fuckton of means available to convey emotion and everything else. HOWEVER, some of the ABSOLUTELY MOST DIFFICULT work I’ve done as an actor is voiceover work. You’re expected to make magic with only your instrument. (insert skin flute joke, here.) It’s a very solitary gig. It’s just you and the producer, in a disturbingly quiet room, and a microphone that stares at you like it’s about to eat your face.

Sometimes, if you’re recording dialogue for a cartoon, you get sketches or stills for inspiration. Also, chances are, you’re going to be doing one or two of the voices–so, not so bad. You flail, you pull your hair, you get all “method” in front of the face-eating microphone.

If its an ad, it’s a reasonably straight-forward gig. Read, get it clear, get it across, get it done. Great. BAM. Thank you very much, don’t forget my check.

But when it’s an AUDIOBOOK. It’s JUST YOU. (mostly) For HOURS. You’re doing every voice, every emotion, every call and wail, every breathy intonation, every bit of it. Face Eater just hangs there in judgement of your every word. Your producer occasionally stops you dead in the middle of the line to tell you that you need to swallow. (perfect place for another skin flute reference.) You have a script in front of you with eighteen different colors of highlighter splattered across its pages like some sort of evil modern art graffiti. You drink approximately a gallon of throat coat, and proceed to wiggle through the last 4 pages because your bladder is about to explode. By the end of the day, you’re wanting to add some gin to that tea, because you have had it with hearing yourself talk.

Also? Sometimes you read books that may make my jokes about *woodwinds* seem like the most innocent of humor. Sometimes, you find yourself describing, in detail, very interesting scenes. There could be moaning…heavy breathing……….grunting.

Sometimes, if say, you’re a pale-ass Slav with a fundie father, you develop a fever of the face through the entire read.

There’s a good reason why I do theatre, and why I admire the ever-loving fuck out of actors who make their living reading for audiobooks. It is seriously hard, and somewhat lonely, and GAH! HARD! *twhs.

Auralgasms.

This week’s aurgasms narrator, Xe Sands, makes it sound effortless. Like, homegirl just walks up to the face-eating demon recorder, says “FUCK YOU, I WILL CUNT-PUNT YOUR ASS INTO SUCCESS!” and then she just rocks that book like the San Andreas fault rocks Cali. Or how I rock myself in a corner before I go into the recording studio. (it’s all very Emily Rose, for me)

I want to rock like Thorin.

The first series I listened to that she narrated was the Nightwalkers, series by Jacquelyn Frank. The series itself is pretty boss, great writing, fun plot, interesting characters, good books, right? Would I have stayed with the series through its entirety, and listened to the spin-off series if not for the narrator? I don’t think so. I think if it was on my kindle alone, it would have sat in the long line of TBR that I have no idea if I’ll ever read.

Her reading of Euphoriaone of my favorite books of last year, was ABSOFUCKINGAMAZEBALLS. Her accents, her characters, her men, her women, everything. Perfect. My cast mate came in while I was listening to it, and he looked at me, and said “that voice should read me to sleep every night.” I sent him to her audible page.

If he chooses the right novel, sleep won’t be what’s on his mind…

Her voice is reminiscent of Kathleen Turner, only a bit more youthful, a bit less tobacco. It’s sexy in a way that’s exactly the right amount of turn-the-page hotness, and toned-down seductress. She is exactly who you’d choose to read the chapters of your memoirs that deal with your clubbing 20s and peak 30s.

I also think it’d be hilarious to hear her totttalllly sex up a read of bad high school emo poetry, because I am fucked up like that.

A lot of my emo poetry from high school is ALL ABOUT unrequited love, and my gay boyfriend not really knowing what to do when he felt me up. It was an embarrassing time for all.

I’m about to kick some serious ass, running all weekend, and just POUNDING a series narrated by Xe Sands. (plus a few others, I have ADHD.) I suggest you do the same.

The recipe for the narrator.

Thankfully, Xe Sands is on social media and I could ask her for her favorites. She was polite enough to respond, and thus, y’all are getting

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts.

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts

 

[bctt tweet=”Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts and latest #Auralgasms post! #donuts #audiobooks #narratorfangirling”] Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts

These are like the best bakery sour cream donut, combined with delectable dark chocolate, and an ooey-gooey glaze that makes your mouth sing.

 

 

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Donuts

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 45 minutes chi

Cook Time: 5-8 minutes

Keywords: fry appetizer bread breakfast dessert

Ingredients (1 dozen donuts)

  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 1/3 cup AP Flour–sifted twice
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • fat for frying

glaze

  • 100 ml HOT, but not scalding whole milk
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbsp white corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Instructions

whip together wet ingredients in a mixer on high

reduce mixer speed to slow

sift in dry ingredients, save chips

stir in chips

cover and chill for 45 minutes

preheat 2 cups of oil in a shallow pan

bring oil to 325F

roll out dough on floured surface and cut into rounds and cut out centers 1/2″ thick.

re-roll excess and repeat

fry each donut 3 minutes per side

let cool

make glaze

glaze

whisk sugar and extracts and syrup into hot milk with a whisk

AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE!!

dip each cooled donut into the glaze and set aside for a few minutes

eat.

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