Wednesday, June 23, 2021

A Little Self-Criticism

 Robert Boyd

Over the past year, during the COVID restrictions and COVID-related unemployment, I've lived in books. In August of 2020, depressed at being cut off from the world, I started recording some thoughts about the books I was reading. Right from the start, I felt awkward doing it. I'm not a smooth talker--I'm not telegenic--I didn't organize my thoughts well. I didn't take advantage of the incredible power that PowerDirector for Dell (the editing software I use) put at my fingertips. I could have easily edited out every awkward phrase, every stumble, every um, but I was too lazy to do it.

The reason I'm thinking about this now is that I have stumbled across a book channel on YouTube that does everything right in my opinion. I've found several YouTube book channels, and for one reason or another, they are all mostly unsatisfactory--often because of the books that the hosts seems to love. But all of them are sleeker and more "professional", for lack of a better word, than my Book Reports.

But I've found one book channel that satisfies me on every level--in the depth of its analysis, the books being discussed, and the presentation. The title of the channel is Better Than Food and the host is Clifford Lee Sargent. I think when it started he was living in Portland, Oregon, but has moved around since then to Los Angeles and, I think, Austin, Texas. But from the point of view of his listeners, he's always in a room filled with books.

Why do I feel Robert Boyd's Book Report is not as good as Better Than Food? His presentation of each book is clear--he has a thesis. And he gets to the thesis by digging deep into the book. And his delivery is quite good, but you can tell it's not seamless--he has edited the shit out out of his reviews. There are lots of random edits where I think it is obvious he cut out some bit of awkwardness or a place where he misspoke. Years ago, when I lived in Hollywood, I hired an actor to do a voiceover for a video I produced to promote the comics line I was editing. We went to the recording studio on Hollywood Blvd., and this guy--an ordinary-looking schlub with a TV newscaster voice read the voice-over I wrote. But he didn't read in straight through--he would make mistakes and start sentences over on the spot. Listening to him, you knew he knew that his voiceover would be edited to create a smooth, seamless delivery. 

I think Sargent works in a similar way, which I should emulate. If what I'm saying isn't perfectly expressed, I should just stop and say it again better. Then edit out the awkward bit before I upload it.

Sargent also has the advantage of being good looking and somewhat stylish. Well, I can't do much about my looks, but I can strive to present myself better on camera.

Anyway, here is Sargent talking about one of my favorite books from the last few years, Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas.

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