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Tuesday
Mar022010

Ray Bradbury - Story of a Writer

Ray Bradbury, known for his super-prolific writing habits and countless classic short stories, novellas, novels, etc. is highlighted in this TV piece from the past called "Story of A Writer". As I've said before, and will no doubt say many times after this, I love anything that gives a glimpse into the life of artists.

This 25 min. film is just that, a look behind scenes of what Ray Bradbury did as an author about forty years ago, and when you look at recent interviews it doesn't seem like much has changed for him. And when I say that, I mean it as the most sincere compliment, because his life has been, and continues to be, one of excellence in the pursuit of writing as art. Take a look and see what I mean.

(Note: If the video doesn't appear right away, it's because it's still converting over at Blip.TV, but will be up shortly)

Thursday
Feb252010

The Truth About An Author Book Trailer

Coming from a film background, these have been a lot of fun to make. With Leslie Nielson playing the role of Arnold Bennett, I've put together a short 1m30sec trailer for the upcoming book The Truth About An Author.

Originally published anonymously in the columns of The 'Academy', and reprinted years afterwards under the author's name, Bennett gives an unabashed account of his early struggles and successes on his way to becoming an English literary giant. Bennett's autobiography sheds light on what it meant to be an English writer around the turn the century. This version of Bennet's classic autobiography has been completely remastered and edited for complete clarity on the author's original vision.

Enjoy.

Tuesday
Feb232010

Arnold Bennett Who?

I have an awful knock-knock joke to illustrate my latest project.

-Knock, knock.

-"Who's there?"

-"Arnold Bennett."

-"Arnold Bennett Who?"

-"Exactly."

 

A common thread, both in my life and my website, is that I enjoy telling other people about stuff that I really like. I don't think I'm alone in this characteristic, I think most people tell their friends about the movies that they like, the bands that they just got into and such.

But I'm eccentric and so when I say I'm into this band or reading this book by this guy, I usually get a response of "What?" or "Who?", which is great, because I love sharing new stuff with people, just as much as I enjoy people turning me onto things that I had never heard of before.

So back to the joke, "Arnold Bennett who?", "Exactly."

I came across Bennett's work while digging through public domain for exercises for my first book. I came across a series of books he'd written on subject of "how to write", and for me "How to Write" books are something of an addiction, a compulsion, a must have collector's item, etc. I've read several "How to Write" books, many bad, some good, some exceptional, some life-changing.

Arnold Bennett's book The Truth About An Author, is Bennett's autobiography at a time in his life just prior to him achieving the great literary legend that we've come to labe him as. The work is something akin to reading the autobiography of The Beatles just prior to the recording of Sgt. Pepper, or Springsteen's Born to Run. At this point in Arnold Bennett's life, he had acheived a significant amount of success, so much so that he thought that he might have reached the top. Little did he know the best things he'd write and be known for, were just around the corner.

Seeing that the book had been out of print for some time, I took it upon myself to update it properly giving it a nice cover and updating the spelling into modern American English. The book is in its final stages of production and I am very excited about making it available ot everyone to enjoy again or for the first time.

Thursday
Feb182010

Why Buy The Milk, When You Can Get the Milk For Free?

If you’re up on your latest U.S. economy news, then you know, you’ve seen, you’ve heard, that things aren’t getting all that better in the market place. More than ever people are thinking about where their dollars are going and where they can cut costs at every corner.

So I ask, “Why buy the milk, when you can get the milk for free?”

The old adage, “Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free,” shows that there really isn’t a need to make a long-term investment of taking care of a cow, when you can get milk for free. Why go through all the work of caring for an animal to produce the resource that is already freely available to you.

Nowadays people not only charge for the cows, but the milk, the cheese, and on and on. But there are people out there giving away “milk” for free, and it’s just as good as the milk that’s available for purchase, and sometimes better.

Music:

Pbthal’s Vinyl Rips

Metallica’s album “…And Justice For All” is both loved and hated by fans and general listeners alike, because of its extremely dry audio mix. I have listened to the 45rpm four-record release of the album, the first and second Japanese mini-LP pressings, the MFSL version, various fan re-mixes, and the standard CD releases, only to be a disappointed Goldilocks without that bowl of perfect porridge. That is until I came across Pbthal’s website with a rip of the US Double-LP of the album, which is flawless start to finish. And there’s more, like Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow in Mono and Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin’ in Mono sound outstanding.

Books:

Seth Godin, Cory Doctorow, Chris Guillebeau, myself, and many others make their ebooks free to read and download, but the print versions are available for purchase.

Education:

Go to Ivy-league schools through Academic Earth. Watch lectures from Stanford, Harvard, and Yale.

Television:

Hulu and more recently TVGorge make television shows readily available to be enjoyed from the first episode to the most recent.

Movies:

The Lionshare, which is being distributed mainly through torrent networks can also be viewed through various video-hosting websites. I thoroughly enjoyed the twenty-something “what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life?” plot in the film and wish it the best of success in its endeavors.

How Can I Help?

Well, until Flattr is up and running, you can support your favorite free stuff by talking about it, like I’m doing. I have never purchased advertising on other websites, and I don’t plan on doing it either, because I think if the stuff I make is worth anything, then people will tell their friends. And they’ll tell their friends, and so on, and so on.

All of the websites, authors, and bands I just mentioned have now received a little bit of advertisement from me. It doesn’t cost them anything, and it certainly isn’t hard for me to write about them, because I love their stuff. So when I get the milk for free I make it a point to tell others about the cows that are making it and give credit where credit’s due. That's what I do.

Tuesday
Feb162010

10 Ways to Slow Your Reading Down and Eventually Stop It All Together

1. Read Every Word, Every Word

The best way to start slowing your reading down is by reading every word that’s presented. Make sure not to skip over the “the”s or the “a”s, because if you do, it’s only the beginning to increasing your reading speed. And that’s not what anybody wants. So, be sure to read every word that’s written, even if you think the author is repeating himself, you shouldn’t skip over those repetitions, because you will only be increasing reading speed. You read that right? Good, we’re off to a great start.

2. Re-read Every Word You Might Have Missed (And Re-read Every Word You Might Have Missed)

Did you miss anything in that first part, to be sure, you should probably go back and re-read it, and if you skipped over any words the first time, don’t do it this time. Remember, we’re trying to slow your reading down, and if you only read each word once then you’re only going to be reading that much faster in the long run. This will become easier over time, because more studies are showing that re-reading decreases comprehension making it easier to develop the habit of re-reading.

3. Don’t skip over the small words

This is a repetition of what was said in the first paragraph, and the author has been kind enough to repeat himself making it easier to read a small blog post in a longer amount of time. And in case you still have some of those bad habits lingering about, don’t forget to re-read this passage, and the passage before it, and don’t skip over the small words, or the things that are repeated, because you’ll only be increasing your reading speed. (See what I did? I repeated myself)

4. Don't Learn New Words

It’s great when you come to a big word in a text that you’ve never seen before, because it can serve as hours of distraction from reading the rest of the material. And if you took the time to look up the word, and learn what it meant, and how to say it properly, then the next time you saw the word it wouldn’t take you nearly as long to read, and then you’d be reading faster. Not good, not good at all. Instead pride yourself on the ignorance of words like “NEUMONO­ULTRA­MICRO­SCOPIC­SILICO­VOLCANO­CONIOSIS”. And don’t go looking it up, you only be able to say it faster the next time you see it.

5. Don't Grammar Learn

A little joke to illustrate my point that a firm grasp of English grammar leads to reading faster. Afterall, you don’t really need to know corrct spelling cuz peeple can under stand what ur saying even when u dont spell it rite and hoo needs periods or comas or thos silly squiggily lines and stuff its all just fluffff getting in the way of communcadoing with the world so toss em out i say toss em out.

6. When You Must Read, Turn On The TV

Sometimes we have to read to keep our jobs or for school, and so it’s best to read with the TV on with a show that’s much more engaging than your reading material. Something with explosions and music like “24”, it’s got plenty of action and suspense to keep you from really understanding what you have to read. This is perfect, because by constantly being distracted you’ll be forced to re-read, which will decrease your comprehension, causing you to re-read again and if you’re in luck there’ll be some big words in there to help you slow down.

7. Don’t Watch Films With Subtitles

I know I told you to watch TV, but be careful of what type of TV you watch because some it can have subtitles. And sometimes movies start out without subtitles only to be filled with them, later on, case in point: The Godfather, which switches over to subtitles while Pacino’s in Italy. There’s probably nothing worth seeing during those scenes anyway, and my advice is, if you can’t watch it dubbed then it isn’t worth watching.

8. Make Sure To Only Search for Videos and Images

When you must use the internet be careful only to use search engines that you can search for videos and images otherwise you’ll be reading and you’ll probably have to read a lot to find what you were looking for. Be careful.

9. In Fact, Just Stay Away From The Internet

The internet can seem like a place devoid of reading, with all the YouTubes and YouPorns and Flash Games and such, but it’s really only a disguise to get you to read more. Those videos and games can only be accessed or found through a series of queries and summaries, and the more you look, the more you’ll be reading, and then you’ll be reading faster. So just watch TV, it’s better because you don’t need to read to enjoy it.

10. To Be Safe, Just Stop Reading All Together

Every once in a while you may be tempted to read a book, or an article, or something, but I caution you DON’T. The more you read, the faster you read, it’s one of those weird facts of life that the more often you practice a skill the faster and more efficient you become at that skill. And in the case of reading, the more you read, the faster you’ll read, and that’s just going to make your life easier. And nobody wants that. God forbid, you might enjoy reading one book, you might read another, thereby doubling your reading speed, or more. And if you enjoyed reading, and read a lot, then who knows where that might lead.

I’m certain nothing good can come from knowing more than what you presently know, so there’s really no need to read anyway…

Right?

Friday
Jan292010

A Typecast Tribute to J. D. Salinger

Click the page for original size or download the PDF here.

Saturday
Jan232010

#8 on Lifehacker's Top 10 Tools for Better Reading

Thanks Kevin Purdy for putting me on your top 10 tools for better reading list. Click the picture to get to the lifehacker article and check  out some other awesome reading tools.

 

Tuesday
Dec152009

Thankyou For the Happy Birthday Wishes

Hi Everybody,

 

Thankyou to everyone sending me "Happy Birthday!" wishes. In case, I don't finish responding to everyone today, thankyou in advance.

 

Take Care,

Kris Madden

Wednesday
Dec022009

Leo Babauta, I love you dude, but your last post sucked.

A Little Backstory:

When I was younger, my group of friends and I developed our own brand of juvenile etiquette for disagreeing with one another. And so when you needed to tell your buddy something you didn't like about them you opened up the conversation with this phrase, "I love you dude, but…" then your criticism.

Example:

"I love you dude, but the peach-fuzz mustache is not cool, and it doesn’t look good."

If the comment was made in front of the group, an immediate voting on the criticism would ensue. The comment would either be ratified into fact, or vetoed, but most often it was ratified.

Example:

"Yeah man, the mustache needs to go. Everybody thinks so, that’s why we’re telling you."

Some may have seen these exchanges as insincere but within our group, opening up without with the line, "I love you dude" was a form of respect. Granted, it's not the most poetic term of endearment, but it allowed us to be honest with each other, without all the hurt feelings. And so you knew that your buddies were telling you something not because they hated you, but because they cared.

Now that we're caught up, there's something I'd like to say about Leo Babauta's post: "Why reading faster doesn't increase productivity".

"Leo, I love you dude; I'm a big fan of zen habits, read a lot of your articles, and I agree with many of your principles but... your last post sucked."

 

From Your Post:

"I think you should read slower, and focus on doing things slower. It increases your effectiveness, which is a different definition of productivity than 'doing things faster'."

If I understand you correctly, you're saying that focused slower reading increases a person's ability to effectively comprehend the text their reading.

I disagree. In terms of a person's reading rate, there's quite a lot of research that points to the opposite.

Example:

Lori Nunez's dissertation: An Analysis Of The Relationship Of Reading Fluency, Comprehension, And Word Recognition To Student Achievement (May 2009). Her dissertation looked at statewide elementary students in Texas and analyzed various methods for developing reading skills.

In the conclusion, Nunez wrote:

"Consistent with the findings of previous research (Allen, 1988; Buchanan, 2006; Flindt, 2007; Stroud & Henderson, 1943) and the National Reading Panel's identification of key reading components, the study confirmed that early development of reading fluency, comprehension, and word recognition do impact reading performance of students by the middle elementary grades. The results of the data analysis revealed that reading fluency, the number of words read per minute, had the strongest relationship with scores on the third grade reading TAKS. ...It would appear that fluency, the speed and accuracy of words read, contributed to comprehension and understanding of the material read, and ultimately to success on the reading assessment."

And

"In the study, the skill of reading fluency had the strongest relationship and made the greatest contribution to reading TAKS scale scores. The findings of the study supported Rasinski's (2001) argument that the rate a reader reads is significantly correlated to the standardized and informal measurements of comprehension and word recognition."

 

From Your Post:

"productivity isn't about speed, even if we've been led to believe it is. It's about being effective. It's about accomplishing things -- and that's about doing the most important things, not the most things."

I disagree.

"Productivity is from 1809 with meaning 'quality of being productive;' economic sense of 'rate of output per unit' is from 1899."

Reference:productivity. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 02, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/productivity

The two words that stand out for me are the words "quality" and "rate", and the word "rate" is most definitely associated with speed.

 

From Your Post:

"When we speed through tasks and projects, we lose perspective. We forget what's important and just try to do things as fast as possible."

Your quote makes the assumption that when a person does something faster, they sacrifice their effectiveness.

 What about firefighters? Or paramedics? Or doctors?

The rate at which these people do their jobs can determine whether someone else lives or dies, or many people live or die. I think "speed" can have a lot to do with a person's "effectiveness" in the world around them. Firefighters don't rush into a burning building to try to save the most important people; they try to save everyone they possibly can in the time they have.

This not only pertains to the lives of people, but also in people's careers and the lives of companies, in which a person's speed can be determining factor in whether they get to keep their job.

 

From Your Post:

"If reading is important, focus on it, and do it slowly. It'll be that much more enjoyable, and so will the project. And when you absolutely love what you're doing, then productivity is a natural by-product."

If I follow your argument here correctly, you're saying, "If I want to read something that is important to me, the rate at which I read it corresponds to the level of enjoyment I’ll receive from reading it."

I agree that certain texts can be more enjoyable when read slowly, but I disagree that all of the texts that are important to us need to be read this way. I believe, and research shows, there are more factors in the process of translating text into meaning than just voicing the words on the page. The process of visual interpretation of text into meaning is an extremely fast process, and your statement concludes that this method, while fast, will lessen my enjoyment of reading the text.

 

Lastly, From Your Post:

"Slow down, don't speed up. Read slower -- you'll read less, but enjoy it more."

What I don't agree with in this statement, is the assumption that text should be read at one speed. A person can enjoy a fast paced action sequence in an old dime novel reading 400wpm, and then slow down to 150 wpm when detective is explaining how he figured out who the killer was. The reader can read fast and slow throughout the book without losing joy in the text they’re reading.

I was a slow reader for quite some time, and even though reading was important to me, reading slow did not make reading more enjoyable. In fact, quite the opposite.

I don't think I'm alone on this, but maybe I am… I’ve found the more I read, the more I enjoy reading.

We only have a short time in this life, and my approach to reading is much like that fireman running into a burning building. There's too many great things to read in this world that to read them all would take several lifetimes, I'd like to enjoy reading as many of them as possible before my time's up.

Leo, I love you dude, but your last post sucked.

 

Respectfully,

Kris Madden

Thursday
Nov262009

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut drawings to right, but a more appropriate title for today might be, "Thanksgiving is no way to treat a turkey".

I'll be working all day getting the books in their final format for release tomorrow. And then hanging out with the family and having the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Thank you to everyone supporting the website with your views, the book with your reads/downloads. And thanks goes to everyone who has emailed me with their questions, comments, stories, etc. I have enjoyed reading and responding to them all.

A SUPER BIG THANKS goes out to those who have  supported my efforts by purchasing the book. 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


And for those that don't celebrate the holiday:

Happy Last Thursday of November!

 

- Kris Madden