Tag: Reviews

Aaron Gold’s “Don’t Mind If I Don’t” Podcast

My Fucking Day Job keeps my hands and eyes busy most of the time, but my brain and ears are usually bored. I try to make use of this time by listening to audiobooks and podcasts, as well as a variety of music. With the audiobooks, I try to do stuff that will help my preferred field of writing erotica. I bounce back and forth between stuff on business/finance/promotion, erotica, sex/health education, and classic or popular books that can help me learn how the great writers did what they did.

With podcasts, my selection is mostly oriented the same way–all stuff that helps me sharpen my skills as a writer of erotica–but there’s other stuff in there too. I listen to Ted Talks of all sorts, because there are a lot of story ideas in those things, and because I just like learning new things and thinking new ideas. I’ve been listening to the Donkey Banana Show, because somebody I know on Twitter recommended it. There’s a bunch of stuff.

One of my favorite shows is the “Don’t Mind If I Don’t” podcast by comedian Aaron Gold.

The premise of this show is that Aaron picks something that he doesn’t like, then gets people to come on to the show to convince him to like it. He might be indifferent to the subject, simply not getting why it’s a deal to anybody. He might have a negative reaction to the subject, but see some kind of appeal. Or he might hate the subject with a burning passion.

At the beginning of each episode, Aaron gives a rating of 0 (indifference) to -10 (extreme hatred) for how he feels about the issue in question. Over the course of each episode, the guests try to explain to Aaron why he should like the subject, try to convince him to become a fan of it. Aaron explains and explores why he dislikes it. At the end of the show, Aaron gives his new rating to show how his feelings have changed.

Usually, the number moves closer to zero, because Aaron wants to enjoy more things; part of the point of the show is that he’d like to open his mind, and to find more pleasures in life. Sometimes, as I believe happened with the David Lynch episode, the number moves the other way, and Aaron finds that the more he knows about the subject–or the ways the guests/experts tried to convince him to like it–has pushed him even more toward the extreme hatred end of the spectrum.

Sometimes I agree with Aaron’s view, sometimes I agree with the guests’ views, and sometimes I agree with everybody, but I always empathize with Aaron because I have my own quirks and a long list of dislikes. I have my own hot-button issues, and plenty of popular topics that I hate. Most people do. At the same time, I also–like Aaron–want to enjoy life more, and I think that it’s good for people to have an open mind whenever possible.

Regardless of how it turns out, I enjoy listening to Aaron’s exploration of his own emotions.

A lot of the time, I feel like the guests aren’t doing a great job. They often forget that they’re not there to defend the topic’s general appeal; they’re there to specifically pitch the subject to Aaron in a way (or ways) that will make HIM specifically find more enjoyment in the issue. They don’t always pay attention to his objections, so sometimes they accidentally make pitches/arguments that only play up the factors that anger or annoy him. Other times, they fail to take notice when they hit on something that could seriously sway him, some point that he expresses interest in, but that the guests move on from all too swiftly.

Much of the time, the fans’ or experts’ arguments boil down to “But it’s SOOooo good!”, a blatant emotional appeal that’s not going to convince many people. Other times, the fans or experts come up with fascinating angles or information, things that catch Aaron (and/or myself) off-guard, and manage to change the way he looks at the issue in question. Either way, there are almost always jokes, ideas, and fun moments that make the show well worth my time and attention.

I follow both the podcast (@dontmindpodcast) and Aaron Gold himself (@HeyItsAaronGold) on Twitter, and I recommend that you do the same, as well as giving the podcast a try if you’ve got any free listening time. He’s affable and amusing, but can also be endearingly cranky in ways that I identify with. If you like things, or if you don’t like things, this just might be the show for you!

Do any of my readers have podcasts or audiobooks that they’d like to recommend to me? If so, let me know in the Comments section here. Pitch it to me in a way that’ll make me like it. 😉

Why I Don’t Review Fellow Authors

I don’t review other authors, not as a rule. This is for several reasons, starting with the fact that many of my fellow authors’ egos are easily bruised. I, on the other hand, went to college specifically to study the craft of writing, and I experienced years of peer review sessions where my work was constantly judged by my fellow classmates. This judgment was not always kind, and was sometimes even brutal.

That was fine with me, and with most of the rest of the serious writers in the classroom, because what we wanted most was to know how we could improve our work. Yes, praise for the things that we did well was important, but we also needed to hear what our areas of greatest weakness were, and how to fix them. That’s not the kind of lesson that we could learn if we were easily hurt by hearing what other people really think of our writing.

Consequently, I’ve built up a callous that many other indie writers often seem not to have.

Another factor is simply my own decades of internal critiques and analyses of various popular works. When I read a book, watch a movie/play/TV show, listen to a song, and so forth, I always come away from the experience with a list of praises and complaints. I vivisect the writings of others, and I discuss writing with other people, and I read reviews. All of which has thoroughly demonstrated to me that audiences as a whole have very different tastes in entertainment, writing included.

There have been many popular works of entertainment or education that I have personally loathed, and have felt were absolutely horribly written. That doesn’t affect their popularity. Likewise, there have been any number of critically panned and/or unpopular pieces of entertainment or education that I have personally found quite enjoyable and/or well-written. Again, my opinion doesn’t affect the overall popularity or success of the work. Just because some people dislike something doesn’t mean that everybody else will, and just because some people think that something is bad doesn’t mean that everybody else will agree.

I’ve learned over time to not take bad reviews very personally, because everybody has a right to their own opinion, but that opinion doesn’t necessarily mean much about how other people might view the same work.

Moreover, there are quite a few works of entertainment that are masterfully written, but that are simply not to my particular tastes, and there are any number of works of entertainment that are poorly written, but that I personally enjoy. Quality is only one aspect of appreciation, and personal taste accounts for a lot.

So when receiving reviews, I tend to take most criticisms in stride simply because I’m not likely to be much affected by one person’s opinion of my work. Not all authors have the same attitude, however, and cannot seem to take my review of their work as simply my personal view of their work, as just Some Guy’s Opinion. They can often take it personally, no matter how politely, and/or gently I try to express myself to them.

For that matter, some authors don’t even want reviews to be gentle, and can take that kind of soft serve response as an insult in its own right. Even when attempting to determine what kind of author I’m dealing with, what kind of feedback they’re looking for, I’ve inadvertently hurt people’s feelings. After reading one author’s work, I asked how they wanted the criticism, if they preferred it to all be super-nice, or more toward the soul-crushing side of things.

Just the fact that “soul-crushing” was a possible end of the spectrum greatly upset this author.

All of which wouldn’t matter much, except that there’s often a lot of drama that goes along with hurting another author’s feelings. Especially as an indie author, I try to avoid feuds and drama with fellow writers. It all gets in the way of accomplishing my goals of writing and selling my own stories. I’ve seen too many other authors get caught up in drama following a review of a fellow author’s work, and I’ve rarely seen it pay off very well.
Even if I was willing to deal with that kind of thing, yet another factor is that I don’t have nearly as much free time to read as I’d like, and I already have a reading list that would take months or years to get through. Adding to that list, only to end up hurting another author’s feelings, is not a particularly enticing opportunity.

In short, I am a picky reader who is likely to find some kind or level of fault in almost anything and everything that I read, and in my experience most indie writers cannot deal well with people pointing out their faults. That’s perfectly fine; I’ll be quite content to avoid reviewing them for that reason.

Of course, there are always those authors who feel insulted when they don’t get reviews at all.