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Random recommendations from a rambling mind

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My podfics can all be found at AO3 and jinjurly's archive.
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The reviews that follow reflect my own erratic but strongly held tastes. I listen to a lot of podfics--largely slash with a mixture of het and gen--in a number of fandoms. I prefer long, if not epic, stories with some notable exceptions. The story matters most to me so the readers' skill levels vary widely from the near professional to those just starting out. I'm always amazed at the level of energy and labor readers bring to podfics so I find them all pretty impressive. Finally, I'm trying this as an experiment but I suffer from both distractibility and procrastination so I don't know how prolific I'll be. Regardless, I hope someone will find this useful.
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Podfic: Horseshoes and Handgrenades by Omphales 
Readers: Luzula, Crinklysolution, Helens78
Length: 2:27:16
Fandom: Due South -- mostly gen with implied RayK/Fraser

The original story is written in documentary style -- letters and interview clips mixed with traditional narrative and sprinkled with historical photographs.  It's very well suited to podfic and the unconventional style was embelished by including several well-chosen selections of historical audio.   With three readers, it's easy to follow the quickly shifting points of view.  Omphale builds the canon alienation of all three main male characters, in their very different ways, into the World War II setting.  Fraser's ghosts, Vecchio's restlessness, and Kowalski's anger all fit well with their experiences first as soldiers and then as veterans trying to find their footing after the war.   The result is a fascinating way to spend two and a half hours.
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 Come at Me by Closer.  Read by susan_voight.  (3:10:24 length)

Summary: 
Steve gets a lesson in pop psychology, drives a roadster, fends off an aspiring killer robot, conquers Tetris, wins a quarter, buys pants, battles the undead, and falls hard for Tony Stark and Pepper Potts.



Steve's at the center of Come at Me, as the summary indicates.  In many ways, it's as much about Steve learning to love the twenty-first century as Tony and Pepper.   Closer keeps the story firmly rooted in New York and the details of dining, driving, and shopping give it an almost 1920s feel -- further evoked by Steve's reference to the Great Gatsby.  She does a great job of illustrating Steve and Tony's cultural gap of time, experience, and economic background in this early conversation about their early goals:

 
The differences between them make their connections and shared loneliness stand out even more.

I also like Closer's portrayal of Pepper, who is a hard-working corporate tycoon in this story, and Tony's adoration of her which doesn't conflict with his growing fascination with Steve.  Pepper and Steve build an independent connection apart from Tony which gives the eventual threesome additional versilmitude.

  Susan_voight reads the story clearly and engagingly.  Technically, it's flawless.  This is a great way to spend three hours.  The reader's suggested that she might eventually do the next story in the trilogy (Bruce and Natasha) which would be a great addition.  

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Aethel recorded Limited Release by rageprufrock.  The recording is well done: clear and easy to listen to with a fun intro and cover.  Limited Release is one of my favorite fics.  It's well written like everything rageprufrock writes and it has wonderful touches of humor:  

"I truly have a very noble and impressive reason for missing our date," Charles remembers saying, looking up at Erik's too-tight expression and Moira's worried face, "but mostly I hope that you won't be so mad at me you won't give me another chance because I've been practicing with Raven and I can talk about normal things not including genetics and I was planning on being incredibly charming and sexually permissive."

The story is an ensemble piece, shifting points of view from Alex to Erik to Charles to Angel and so on through whole gang.   The different stories open up this alternative universe to the reader where mutations are known but mutants are more tolerated than accepted.  Erik leads the special mutant FBI task force, including Angel, Armando, Raven, and Shawn.  Charles is a geneticist, mutant integration activist, and Erik's partner.  Alex is a hapless criminal, desperately searching for his missing brother, Scott, with Hank's help. 

It's an excellent story but I have a particular love for it because it takes Charles seriously as a disabled person (partially paralyzed in a failed assassination attempt) without making the story be about his disability.  (Charles had always thought sex could be funny on top of being fun, but he had never really anticipated being over thirty and snapping a cock ring into Erik's eye by accident.)  Limited Release was the first XMFC story I read that did that (though I've read several others since then) and it cemented my love not just for this story but for the pairing.    
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I really like the Black Widow in the Avengers films.  Or maybe I adore the fanfiction version of the Black Widow in the movies.  Regardless the following are fun vids.

I Don't Believe in Fairy Tales by TatyanaOracle (HD available):



This is a Natasha/Clint vid.  I like the choice of music -- "I don't believe in fairy tales but I believe in you and me" is a good motto for them.  I also like how the vidder made a virtue of necessity in dealing with the imbalance of clips available between Natasha and Clint:  Natasha is almost always in motion while Clint is mostly stationary which works with him as a sniper and as the one in need of rescue. 

Settle Down by almostgaby -- the vid seems to have been removed from youtube but you can still download it from mediafire

The vid is very technically well done with a great choice of clips. (At least to my uneducated eye.)  The great part is watching Natasha "trying to get a hold on this" as people keep doing stupid things all around her.  I hadn't realized how many great "you idiot" facial expressions she made until I watched this vid.

So What by kaydeefalls

The last isn't really strictly a Natasha vid.  The vidder describes it as "A tribute to the kickass ladies of the Avengers cinematic universe" and that's just what it is.  The song is a lot of fun and the clips are great -- not just the expected Natasha ones but others like Peggy Carter punching a GI and shooting Steve.   (I'd forgotten how much I liked Peggy and Steve.) 
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When I record, I find that my volume levels can vary widely from too loud to too soft.  The Compressor effect levels out the volume swings and makes sure that none of the audio is too soft.  After I am done recording and editing, I select the entire narration track (or multiple tracks if necessary) and select "Compressor" from the "Effects" menu.  There are a number of potential settings but so far I've just ignored the options and clicked "OK."  The result is a clear and even podfic narration.  A more sophisticated user could experiment and fine tune the results but so far the defaults seem to work well for me.   

I tend to think of the Compressor as the magic tool but there's a good, brief explanation in the "Audacity Tutorial - Mixing a Narration with Background Music" (http://manual.audacityteam.org/man/Tutorial_-_Mixing_a_Narration_With_Background_Music).  
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I'm currently working on a larger project and I keep getting lost in my editing, forgetting where I am in relationship to the text and the audio.  One thing that helps is the Audacity "Labeling Track".  Go to the "Tracks" menu and select "Add New."  Select "Label" as type of track.  You can type directly in the label track, leaving notes to describe the current section or directions for future editing.  In this case, I've had to resort to numbering the story paragraphs via my word processor and typing paragraph numbers periodically into the track. (Sadly, I wasn't exaggerating  about getting lost -- )  If you select "Sync Lock Tracks" on the "Tracks" menu, the audio and label tracks will stay aligned despite editing.  I think there is a better way to do this last bit via the Alignment command but I haven't figured out how that works yet. 
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