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Audio Buzz, Past
Audio Book News
By Jonathan Lowe

APRIL 2014
by Jonathan Lowe

For over a decade now, nothing has sold like Steve Jobs. His brand and legacy have made Apple iconic, and the off-and-on number one company in the world along with Exxon. Sitting on a mountain of cash, Apple has been creative in every sense, and now the book CREATIVITY INC by Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull seeks to rewrite the history of Jobs with the perspective that he wasn't personally such a bad guy, after all. Of course in the sheer business sense, Jobs was a genius visionary and perfectionist who was required to demand that everyone live up to that vision. It makes sense that if you want to rule the planet you need to either inspire your employees to greatness or else push those employees hard, with little regard for their feelings. Jobs did both, albeit maybe not at Pixar or in the presence of Catmull. Now, as Disney's Animation president as well, Catmull has chosen not to write an autobiography but rather an inspirational business book about Pixar subtitled "Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration." One of those unseen forces at Apple was Steve Jobs, according to that other biography. Yet after Jobs got sick, his modus operandi changed, he mellowed, and, like his one time nemesis Bill Gates, he came to realize that money wasn't that important. Changing the world was more important. Written with Amy Wallace and narrated by Peter Altschuler on audio in a clear and conversational sytle, Catmull's book covers nearly twenty years at Pixar, as he created the world's first animated feature, Toy Story, and went on to produce Monsters, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, and Wall-E. "Jobs didn't try to interfere that often," Catmull says. Instead, Steve appreciated their story-telling talents, and supported their creative culture within a unique environment (that may or may not be recreated by others.) Sharing of ideas on Notes Day, and mixing people arbitrarily to foster and encourage new contacts, is but one of many tools listeners might incorporate into their own businesses. Do they have the same playing field or people like John Lasseter, though? Maybe not, but anything that encourages innovation, cooperation, and change must be considered in the plus column, so this audiobook shouldn't be missed.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is a comedic screenplay due in theaters as a movie on May 30. It's by Seth MacFarlane, the most financially successful comic writer alive, creator of Family Guy and American Dad (and the movie Ted.) The movie stars Liam Neeson and Charlize Theron, with MacFarlane as Albert, and Neil Patrick Harris as Foy. The novel version is narrated on audio by Star Trek's Riker, Jonathan Frakes. It's about a cowardly sheep farmer who falls for a new woman in town, then must face her husband---a notorious gun slinger.

There's a reason why the guy is a sheep farmer. And why Sarah Silverman is also in the movie. There's a lot of gratuitous whatever. The movie looks to be hilarious, with both the book and movie making the spoofy point that the old west has been romanticized in literature and films for too long, and MacFarlane has a lot of fun pointing out the fallacies of that romance with spicy romance and derring-do of his own. As MacFarlane's first novel, it's fleshed out a little more than the movie can be, but nonetheless suffers from being slow in parts and too confusing, not being the original source material. Set in 1882 in Arizona, the plot isn't meant to be taken seriously, so criticism shouldn't attempt to compare Seth to Elmore Leonard, Max Brand, or Louis L'Amour. That's like comparing apples with rattlesnake eggs. Think Three Amigos or Blazing Saddles in fan fiction format, instead. With plenty of jokes and melodramatic action scenes. As a novelist, Seth still has something to learn about pacing and character development. Which is not to say that his novelization won't become a bestseller when the movie comes out, or that Frakes' narration isn't interesting and, at points, melodramatically entertaining. Just that "no one is going to say the book is better than the movie." Which is the same thing the Washington Post is saying about Divergent.

Bravo to Dr. Mark Hyman, who isn't afraid to call it as it is. Of course there are a ton of diet books coming out every month, especially those which promise quick success. What makes this one different is he doesn't promise results if you don't fully commit. There's science behind it, too, not just hokum. The tough love in his 10 DAY DETOX DIET is breathtaking, as part of a "Blood Sugar Solution." After hitting listeners with the facts about how much sugar Americans consume, primarily as soda (which he calls "Liquid Death"), he shows why and how one can overcome cravings for bad foods by resetting their metabolism. Chronic diseases are the result of poor nutrition and lack of exercise as much as genetics, while sugar is 8 times as addictive as cocaine…which is why he talks about overcoming one's primitive "inner T-Rex," the reptilian brain which goes for the bad stuff automatically. "Food manufacturers design their products to addict you to them," he says. Since you're already pre-disposed not to resist, what chance do you have, given the 3000 ads a day you're subjected to---mostly for bad foods? (No wonder we're the fattest country on Earth, with the highest health care costs.) Sports (which has become our true religion) is married to junk foods and soda, sometimes disguised as "sports drinks" like the so-called "Vitamin Water," which even Coke admits isn't really good for you. And how much does Coke and Pepsi spend on advertising? Even in sci fi movies like Blade Runner, future cities have huge Coke signs whose design hasn't changed, since the ads are so effective (and why change what works?) These companies are not on your side, they only care about profits (just like drug dealers on the street corner.) Hyman is all about getting back to natural, unprocessed foods as a way to circumvent diabetes, cancer, digestive disorders and joint pain while losing weight…and if that means turning off the TV to help do it, so be it. While he pushes supplements, that aspect of the book can be ignored only if you're willing to purchase a wide range of natural foods (and if they're available.) The subtitle is "Activate Your Body's Natural Ability to Burn Fat and Lose Weight Fast." Hyman reads the audiobook version himself for Hachette Audio, with an earnest yet optimistic tone. He is chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and director of the UltraWellness Center.

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