Listening as an Act of Recognizing Humanity

Wax cylinder recording materials – 1965

Since the invention of the most rudimentary of sound-capturing technology coincided with European descendent explorations of geography annexed through hostile acts of imperialism, the opportunity to hear dying languages remains with us. Taking time to listen to such recordings can serve as a respectful acknowledgment of past violences which stripped the world of certain human and spiritual potentials in service to domination by others.

The Doug Ellis Audio Collection provides nearly instant access online to stories, memories, and historic accounts recorded during the mid-20th century in Cree communities of Ontario. The sound quality is good and contextual remarks both in English-speaking voice and archive notes, along with good searching capability on the site, make this a starting point with almost no technical threshold. John Wynne’s account of “How Ghost River Got its Name” is itself one of interracial violence between First Peoples.

Like animal species, human linguistic diversity is open to both threat of endangerment and endangerment, or loss, itself. To be considered endangered, a language has fallen to such disuse by its native speakers that they no longer incorporate it fully into daily life, passing it between generations. Seeking archival recordings made when such languages were threatened—and thus the subject of non-native, native, or both teachers and record keepers—may provide guidance for the future: how can we maintain an awareness that every language is an expression of humanity that is both shared and privileged.

This week in Literature and Arts

Birthday greetings to a pair of Chicagoans, who, alas, no longer are with us:  Warren Zevon born January 24, 1947, and John Belushi (1949).

Both left the world too soon—Zevon was 56 when he succumbed to cancer, while Belushi was only 33 when he OD’d.


Happy 258th birthday to Robert Burns, born in Alloway, Scotland, January 25 1759. Remarkably, he’s still considered Scotland’s national poet (I believe he was an early figure in the Romantic school, as well).

Burns isn’t so big in the U.S., but in Scotland there are monuments to him everywhere, including this three-story beast in Edinburgh in the shadow of the great castle.


January 27, 1970: John Lennon writes “Instant Karma” in less than an hour in the morning and records it in the evening with the help of George Harrison playing acoustic guitar, Klaus Voorman on bass, and Alan White drumming. It was released February 6.

Play it loud. John said so.


Happy 262nd birthday to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria. He farted out his first concerto at two months old. What a guy!


January 27, 2010: J.D. Salinger dies in his Cornish, New Hampshire, home at 91.

Whatever happened to all those manuscripts he left behind, were any published? Anyone know?


R.I.P. Mort Walker, who passed January 27 at 94. He drew Beetle Bailey for 67 years (the longest single run for any cartoonist). Saw him at New York Comic Con many times, nice guy. He also drew Hi and Lois (Lois is Beetle’s sister). His kids are going to continue to produce Beetle Bailey, but it won’t be the same.

Adios, Mort.


Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.

Coming of Age with Literary Webcomic Superpowers

Emma T. Capps has been recognized for her droll and beautifully colored print and webcomics since she was about junior high age. Now that she’s already published in a variety of kids magazines; earned stripes for being the youngest cartoonist Dark Horse Presents (#25, 2013) had collected their on-again-off-again anthology of new work and creators; and seen her webcomic The Chapel Chronicles into print, she’s continuing to concoct lovely work that is both sly and sweet—as well as a literary bonbon eater’s delight.

Welcome to The League of Fonts. The concept of a realm in which typefaces live, from their birth (creation as fonts) until each might fall into eternal disuse, is teased out with such wit that readers will get absorbed in contemplating the properties of identity bound up in those squiggles on the page and screen we typically (!) treat simply as means to an end rather than—as Capps show us—potential ends in themselves. It’s insightful, a fun view of design, but also a potent moral analog.

A word of warning: you may find yourself not only choosing your own fonts carefully after reading Capps, but also asking them if they’d like some tea.

 

Audiobooks for Building the Most Essential Communication Skill

Audiobooks have long been used in English-speaking countries to support new language acquisition for immigrant students. Their use in English language teaching in places outside these countries is beginning to take hold, now that digitally available audiobooks allow for more accessibility in secondary and university learning situations.

This month The Journal of Language Teaching and Research has published a new and compelling study of the benefits of “Using Audiobooks for Developing Listening Comprehension among Saudi EFL Preparatory Year Students” (Manal Mohamed Khodary Mohamed, Suez Canal University). The literature review noted in its opening paragraph speaks directly to the role of listening skills in communication success:

Listening is considered the most important language skill for achieving effective communication and good academic achievement among learners. It is a highly integrative skill because it is generally the first skill which learners develop (Oxford, 1993; Vandergrift, 1999). It has been emphasized as an essential component in the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) process (Vandergrift, 2003). It has a great role in the construction of language abilities of a Foreign Language (FL) learner (Rost, 2002). It has acknowledged a great importance in FL classrooms (Richards & Renandya, 2002; Rahimi, 2012). The role and importance of listening in SLA exceeds acquiring meaning from sounds because it does not only mean recognizing the sounds but it also involves detecting, conveying and comprehending the information and it allows comprehending the world and creating social relationships among humans (White, 2006). In spite of the importance of listening, it did not get concern in language teaching for many years (Richards & Renandya, 2002; Nation & Newton, 2009). It was the least understood and the most overlooked of the four skills (Nation & Newton, 2009; Wilson, 2008). Moreover, listening is the most difficult task for learners when they begin to learn a FL and it is the most challenging skill to be developed (Berne, 2004; Vandergrift, 2007).

In addition, then, to the experimental design, methodology of analyzing its results, and the reported results, this paper offers a concise introduction to the value of aural competency and how it can be developed through audiobook listening.

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 90th birthday to William Kennedy, born January 16, 1928 in Albany, NY. Don’t know if he has a new book coming. The last one was in 2012, but he takes his time.


Happy 70th birthday to musician and horror/sf director extraordinaire John Carpenter, born January 16, 1948 in Carthage, NY. Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, Escape from NY, his films are loads of fun.


Monster kids, give up for Carl Laemmle, born January 17, 1867 in Laupheim, Germany. Carl opened a string of nickelodeons in New York in the early 1900s, later advancing into making the films himself by founding the Independent Motion Picture Company in New York. Once the business gained momentum, he moved out to California reorganizing it as Universal Studios in 1912.

Carl played an important role in many of the great horror films from the Chaney silents through Frankenstein and the Big D as well as hundreds of other movies of every ilk. A true film pioneer.

Salute, Carl.


Happy birthday to Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay in Louisville, Kentucky January 17, 1942. Forever the Greatest.


January 18, 1985: The world meets the weird and wonderful Joel and Ethan Coen with the release of their first feature film, Blood Simple. The brothers have done lots of solid films since then (a few truly strange ones, too), but Blood Simple remains arguably their grittiest work. If you haven’t seen it in awhile reacquaint yourself. Good stuff.


January 18, 1952: Following a series of strokes that left him incapacitated and mostly hospitalized for more than a year, Curly Howard dies at 48. He is buried at Home of Peace Memorial Park, the Jewish cemetery outside LA. Shemp is there, too.


January 18, 1936: Rudyard Kipling dies of complications following surgery for a perforated ulcer. He was 70. His ashes are interred in the Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.


Happy 208th birthday to the father of the American detective mystery, Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston, MA, January 19, 1809.

Is it just me, or does this guy have a huge, oddly shaped head? And the right  side of his mustache is longer than the left.


Birthday greetings to Colin Clive, born January 20, 1900 to English parents in France (his father was an army officer). A terrible leg injury dashed his own plans for a military career and sent him toward the stage. Alas, it also drove him to heavy drinking and smoking leading to tuberculosis that killed him at only 37.


January 21, 1946: The Fat Man debuts on ABC radio. Although the detective drama was credited to Dashiell Hammett, producer Mannie Rosenberg performed most of the heavy lifting. Starring J. Scott Smart as the title character, the series ran until 1951, making the jump to the big screen in a William Castle-directed feature film starring Smart the same year.


Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.

Tech Instruction via Webcomic Wisdom

Over at geekculture.com, The Joy of Tech is carrying along nearly into it’s third decade. Nitrozac and Snaggy, as this pair of Canadians sign themselves for their work here, publish fast-to-understand lessons in the form of half a dozen or fewer panels per take-away. These are insights and explanations that speak to experienced geeks and casual users of technology alike:

Published between four and 10 times monthly, The Joy of Tech, as one would expect, has an elegantly searchable archives. While reading individual posts is of course free, site registration for geekculture.com is encouraged, and Nitrozac and Snaggy have also set up a variety of ways to pay for what is very much an effort worthy of monetary support. With laudable transparency, the donations page spells out, too, exactly where the money goes as well as the various Patreon, non-Patreon, and even advertising routes available. As with all aspects of the webcomic, even this part of The Joy of Tech experience gives the reader a great précis to apply to other sites and situations when investigating their monetizing strategies.

This is a webcomic with a community and even the casual visit is likely to send the individual reader off to find someone else with whom to share it. In short, this is a webcomic that not only explains tech but also evokes why tech in truly humane terms.

 

 

In Celebration of a Compelling Speaker

On 19 July 1962 Martin Luther King Jr became the first African American to speak at the National Press Club. His post-lunch remarks were delivered days after he’d been convicted of participating in a peaceful protest against  segregation in his home state of Georgia.

The Press Club rediscovered tapes of the speech and made them available online in very recent years. They can be downloaded in MP3 format and a transcript s, of course, included.

This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 140th birthday to three-time Pulitzer winner Carl Sandburg, a dean of American poetry as well as a journalist and biographer, born January 6, 1878 in Galesburg, Illinois.


Birthday greetings to Sherlock Holmes, born January 6, 1854, presumably in England but Conan Doyle didn’t specify. Nice to see the character enjoying a renaissance.


Happy 83rd birthday to Elvis, the Tupelo, Mississippi Flash, born January 8, 1935. He’s 12 or 13 in this pic, about when his mother bought him a guitar as a birthday present. He wanted a rifle or a bike. Moms always know.

Hail to The King, baby!


Happy birthday to Soupy Sales, born Milton Supman in Franklinton, NC, January 8, 1926. Throw a pie in someone’s face today. You know you want to do it—it’ll feel really good!


January 10, 1961: After a lifetime of smoking, Dashiell Hammett dies of lung cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He was 66 and hadn’t published in years.

He’d served in both world wars permitting burial at Arlington. Visited him there a few years ago.


January 12, 1966: Batman debuts on ABC with the episode “Hi Diddle Riddle.” The series lasted three seasons, wrapping March 14, 1968.

If you were a kid back then, this show was such a big deal. Yeah, it’s campy, clichéd, etc., but it also sported many Hollywood veterans elevating the material while enjoying a career boost and a new audience. Everyone looked like they were having fun (Adam West later revealed that he and others were stoned while filming it, which helps).

Remarkably, 52 years later at least two cable stations I receive air this daily, and I’ll bet it’s still broadcast all over the world—even in the shithole countries!


Happy birthday to Jack London, born January 12, 1876 in San Francisco. Along with being of the early 20th century’s literary superstars, he was a solid photographer. He burned out fast, was dead at 40.


January 13, 1941: Following surgery for a perforated ulcer, James Joyce dies at 58 years old. He’s buried at the Fluntern Cemetery outside Zurich, Switzerland.


January 13, 1968: Johnny Cash performs at California’s Folsom Prison. The legend is that among the yardbirds attending the show was Merle Haggard. Don’t know if it’s true. What is true is that Cash was stoned out of his mind. Nonetheless, the fabulous recording edited together from the two shows won Cash the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year award, and 50 years later it’s still good stuff. One of the great, great live recordings.


January 14, 1957: Throat cancer takes Humphrey Bogart at 57. Booze and smokes. What a waste. All the films that weren’t.


Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.

Let’s Mansplain That (in Webcomics)

With women in the United States continuing to refuse to step away from both mic and spotlight as they talk back to a Western tradition of white male entitlements, the time is suited to tuning into webcomic “Manfeels Park.” The team of Morag & Erin use commentary (from men) found in current news account and even quoted from found dialog that sits there begging for satiric puns. The art harkens to the title’s Jane Austen roots stylistically and also manages to introduce current day settings for the kinds of occasions in which the particularly featured commentary fits.

This is one of dozens of webcomics archived by the Library of Congress. For their parts, Morag & Erin go the distance to provide source notes for each strip’s commentary. Once a fellow fan of puns, satire, and active counter attacking of mansplaining falls for this gem, there’s some back matter worthy of exploring as well in the Links section of their webcomic, including a not-too-long of other webcomic recommendations, some recommended blogs, and a couple of other projects the creators of Manfeels Park are undertaking online.

Build Listening Awareness with Challenges

Omnivorous readers with competitive bones in their bodies (if only to seek a personal best), and librarians and teachers seeking some self-managed professional development, look to reading challenges to stimulate self-accomplishment. Biblioblogs of all sorts publish them to ring in the new year, and the range on offer includes some better suited to relatively neophyte casual readers to those for word warriors. A benefit to many all along this spectrum is the sense of community joining a challenge can bring: who else has taken the challenge? How’s it working out for them? Is there someone among them who can offer support when the reading gets dull? Is there a well-matched super-reader to provide extra motivation for the high-achieving competitor?

A number of these challenges suggest participants take the occasional “challenge” of trying an audiobook. And there are a few audiobook-specific challenges on offer as well. The Caffeinated Reviewer has a well developed one that offers various intensity levels as well as the opportunity to find a listening buddy or buddies. This is a high quality, no-fee skill-building opportunity that can appeal to readers’ advisors, audiobook collection selectors and developers, language arts teachers, and families.

If joining a group doesn’t appeal, this audiobook listening challenge—and many others—can be undertaken independently. All you need is a good supply of audiobooks (library, OpenCulture, anything but piracy, please), listening advice and recommendations, and a will to listen more, and more deeply.

Introducing Sequential Art Online: Webcomics

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/digital_resource_lifespan.png
Randall Munroe’s webcomic XKCD regularly offers unexpected nuggets of information management insight as well as real answers to seemingly unanswerable questions

With the new year, NSR pushes further into published online content, including a weekly visit to the world of webcomics. This expressive medium has been around for more than three decades. It’s a realm of stories, reports, and visual creativity, some the early forms of later publication in paper or e-resource format. Others have, some will, and, meanwhile, a lot do live long and happy lives in web only form on such graphics-friendly blogging platforms as Tumblr, and through software custom-designed specifically for creating and sharing comics content.

Webcomics give both amateur and professional cartoonists a means for sharing out new content, experimental techniques, and fan art or homages to comics artists. The web has also become a right-sized location to build a following via webcomics to gain monetary support through Kickstarter for eventual paper publication. We’re not going to be dropping into these projects much except to note subject matter themes arising that reflect more broadly on content innovations. Continue reading Introducing Sequential Art Online: Webcomics

Book of the Week: The 401(k) Owner’s Manual (Scott Everhart and Brian Hanna)

In an effort to draw attention to quality self-published literature and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week, including a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction. This week’s pick:

The 401(k) Owner’s Manual: A Blueprint for Building and Maintaining an Elite 401(k) Plan For Your Employees

Scott Everhart, President and founding firm member of Everhart Advisors, located in Dublin, Ohio, is a nationally recognized plan advisor and speaks with authority on the topics of fee transparency, revenue sharing, and cost control. Scott has been named as one of the nation’s “300 Most Influential Advisors in Defined Contribution” by 401kWire.com, and “20 Rising Stars of Retirement Plan Advisors” by Institutional Investor News. Scott earned his Certified Financial Planner designation in 1998.

Brian Hanna is a Senior Plan Consultant at Everhart Advisors and joined the firm in 1997. Brian has received formal training in fiduciary responsibility and due diligence, along with extensive experience in plan design, investment selection, and cost control. He has been a guest lecturer at workshops presented with the U.S. Department of Labor, Ohio Society of CPAs, Columbus Bar Association, and the Center for Due Diligence. 

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.