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More Shameless Self-Promotion

by DJ on December 20th, 2013 at 12:50pm

Yet another great review of my audiobook, Harmless! Thanks to the reviewer, Carol at for the kind words.

I have to thank the audiobook’s reader, DJ Holte for asking if I was interested in reviewing Harmless, otherwise it’s probably not a book that would have come across my radar, but it was a really good, unique read. The story’s told in the first person by Steve Pendragon and listening to it on audio rather than reading it in print seems perfect. Steve is a rambler, someone who conversation goes off on tangents and the audio came across that way, like Steve was telling us the story, got side-tracked, got back to the plot. It worked well and DJ Holte really made Steve come alive, foibles and all. and since it’s told, mostly, in the first person, he doesn’t have to “be” the other characters, he has to “be” Steve being the other characters, which he did well.

Steve (with a v) is definitely the center point of the novel. While it’s a mystery, it’s really more about the character than the plot. He’s an odd guy: obsessive-compulsive, a bit delusional, a stalker, an ardent admirer of the postal service. He functions in life, holding a job, but doesn’t have any close friends, unless you count the mailman or the lady at the Laundromat, or officer Thomas who he tried to sell a car to once upon a time. He’s a little nutty – talk about an unreliable narrator.  He starts unlikable but eventually you start rooting for him and hoping it won’t turn out that he did actually kill Kerry.

The story takes a couple of odd turns and a couple of twists I didn’t see coming, given that all I had was Steve’s version of the world. He doesn’t exactly have a clear grasp of what’s going on, although there is definitely maybe a cop determined to prove Steve is the killer, even when Kerry’s diary points in another direction.

It’s an unusual story, worth picking up. It’s funny, too, in a dark kind of way.  It had me laughing out loud a couple of times, which probably made me seem kind of odd, walking around laughing to myself with the ear buds hidden by my hair.

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“I’m adding DJ Holte to my list of favorite narrators”

by DJ on December 7th, 2013 at 7:06pm

Holy frijoles! Check out this rave review of the latest audiobook I narrated, Harmless (written by Ernie Lindsey). The review is by Judy Purdee, and appears on her review blog, Love2Listen.

My Thoughts:
I totally enjoyed Harmless! Actually enjoyed doesn’t really express how I experienced it.  I couldn’t put it down.  My plans to go out shopping or visit a relative flew out the window as soon as I started listening.  I took the whole day and listened from beginning to end. I love mysteries that include humor.  This book has all the required elements of that kind of mystery – laugh out loud moments, plot twists and surprises, and an unconventional love story.   Steve Pendragon appears at first to be a clueless, self-centered man.  The people he chooses to be his friends find him acutely annoying.  He can’t seem to get to the point of a story without going off the subject.   I found him fascinating.  I liked the way he observed the world and how he found character attributes in other people that he identified with.  He is a bit psychic and describes himself as “operating on a higher plane.”  He is obsessed with the post office and mail delivery.    

What I liked most about Harmless was the performance of the narrator, DJ Holte.  It was as if I had Steve following me around telling me his story and not minding when I laughed at him.  That’s an experience I would never get from the print version.  From the first word of the audio sample, I knew this was a voice I would enjoy.  I’m adding DJ Holte to my list of favorite narrators and hope to hear more of his work.

Author Ernie Lindsey has crafted a story that is funny and entertaining with a main character you will grow to love.  I highly recommend the audio version of Harmless and give it 5 stars all around.

Get your own copy at any of the links below:

We think it’ll make a great Christmas gift. 😉

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Happy Thanksgivukkah!

by DJ on November 28th, 2013 at 2:24pm

Have a great Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah and take stock of those people who are special to you. Make someone’s day by telling them how special they are. But don’t let them have the last helping of turkey! 😉

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Remembering A Mentor

by DJ on August 7th, 2013 at 2:17am

The acting world lost an amazing teacher tonight — my coach of over 10 years. A man who never sugarcoated the truth, always being brutally honest with you while at the same time showing compassion and total support. He was larger than life. He was truly a “character” — one of the most unforgettable personalities I’ve ever come across in my life. There was no middle ground with this man: you either loved him or hated him. Thankfully, I think there were many, many more of us who fell into the former category rather than the latter.  There is so much more I want to say, but for now, I just want to offer my gratitude for all that he taught me, all of his critiques, all of his guidance, and his friendship.

I love you, my friend. Safe journeys, Ivan — and well done.

Ivan Markota

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A Rail Treat

by DJ on July 19th, 2013 at 12:37pm

So, as I mentioned, I just returned from a month-long trip, and on the way back, I ended up taking Amtrak, because it was half the price of any airfare I could get (I was trying to book my travel less than 6 days in advance).

I’ve been on short train jaunts before — the Empire Builder between MN & WI, and whatever that train is which goes from LA to Long Beach — but this was my first experience traveling the rails for an extended distance. The train I was on is called a “SuperLiner”, and on this route, this particular train is known as the Southwest Chief.

Overall, it’s a great way to travel. Pros include: Much wider seats and tons of legroom (akin to first class on an airline); the ability to get up and move around whenever you want; numerous bathrooms so you usually don’t have to wait very long, like you often do on a plane; a lounge car which has plenty of room to view the scenery, and tables to sit and visit with friends or play games on; a diner car which serves breakfast, lunch & dinner; a snack car which offers cheaper and quicker alternatives for about 15 hours every day; and occasional stops where you can depart the train for a few minutes to stretch, run around, enjoy the sun, smoke, or whatever. Cons: While the seats are comfortable to sit in (and this is coming from a large man), they’re still not very comfy to sleep in — they don’t recline far enough (only slightly more than a typical airplane seat) for that; while there are various rooms (sleeper cars) available, they’re cost-prohibitive —for my trip, the most expensive room would have added over $1100 to my bill; the train actually averages a fairly slow speed —I think top speed on the Southwest Chief is somewhere around 80 mph, and there were many times we were going very slow, or when we just stopped for extended periods; also, trains lurch around a fair amount, so you have to brace yourself when walking around — although it’s still preferable to airplane turbulence, in my opinion.

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My Take On Some Of The Upcoming TV Shows

by DJ on May 16th, 2013 at 2:58am

I recently watched previews for upcoming shows at the major networks. Here’s my take on what I saw, along with links to the previews for each network.

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Is House Of Cards Built Upon A House Of Lies?

by DJ on March 14th, 2013 at 2:42am

Okay, that (admittedly tongue-in-cheek) headline is what they call a “grabber” — and I guess if you’re reading this far, it worked. I’ve only started watching the Netflix series House of Cards with Kevin Spacey, but already it seems to me that it’s borrowing quite a lot from two other recent cable TV series. I know that House of Cards is based on a British show, and I know nothing of that program, so it could be that the UK version did all this first. But what I’m seeing is that the American version appears to be a mixture of the Don Cheadle Showtime series House of Lies, along with the Kelsey Grammer Starz series Boss. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far, after having only seen two episodes…

House of Cards = Boss
SIMILARITIES: Scheming political leader values power above all else, and fabricates stories about other politicians who do not serve his needs, in order to secure his own choices firmly in place in those positions. Newspaper reporters are fed stories by the politicos, and argue amongst themselves about the legitimacy of what they intend to print. A young female reporter becomes the flavor of the month, much to the chagrin of a slightly older female reporter who has paid her dues for much longer. Also, Robin Wright = Connie Nielsen. Sexy, strong middle-aged blonde wife of the lead character, who pursues her pet projects thanks to the name recognition and power afforded her by her husband; she may have somewhat questionable morals herself, and often feels shut out by her spouse, but when it comes down to it, is completely supportive of him.

House of Cards = House of Lies
SIMILARITIES: Firebrand hotshot works the system to get his way. Is the go-to guy when things need to get done, and he doesn’t care if he has to bend the rules to make it happen. Frequently breaks the 4th wall and talks directly to camera, letting the viewer in on the secrets of his business, and his keen insights on the people he deals with day-to-day.

There were a lot more moments in House of Cards that were extremely reminiscent of these other two shows (especially Boss), even down to some very similar scenes. But, all that having been said, I do count myself as a huge fan of Spacey (and of many of the other actors in this show), so I’m hoping it eventually carves out its own niche in the television landscape as it progresses.

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My Thoughts On The 2013 Oscars

by DJ on February 25th, 2013 at 2:02pm

2013 Oscar Winners
Okay, let’s get the Seth stuff out of the way first — and allow me to set the stage for what I’m about to say here: I follow Seth MacFarlane on Twitter, and I watch Family Guy every week. For me, his humor quotient displayed on both media is hit-or-miss… while I find lots of his tweets and many moments of FG laugh-out-loud funny, slightly less than half of the time I’m just not amused at all. But that’s okay — as far as I’m concerned, the funny bits more than make up for the tweets/episodes that don’t do anything for me. Thus, I didn’t come into last night’s Oscars as either a knee-jerk Seth hater, nor as a he-can’t-do-anything-wrong Seth apologist. I had, I thought, an open mind about his prospects, as I sat down to watch. And indeed, in the first 2 or 3 minutes, I started to get quite optimistic about what kind of host he would be for the show. Then, things got a bit off-track. Then even more off-track. It seemed to me that Seth MacFarlane couldn’t decide what kind of host to be, and so, vacillating between opposing poles (but never really embracing either end of the spectrum), he came off to me as simply bland. The comedy was also off, overall. Jabs at the industry are to be expected from any Oscar host, but there’s a fine line, which is easily crossed. Many of his jokes came off as mean-spirited (like the one which ostensibly was aimed at Rex Reed, but at its core was making fun of Adele for being overweight). I think a good rule of thumb for anyone asked to emcee this event is, “Can you imagine Johnny Carson telling these exact jokes?” Johnny poked fun at nearly everyone, but in such a gently teasing way that it was nearly impossible for the butt of the joke to take offense. Johnny, after all, might have to look that person in the eye one day and interview them on his show. Seth’s humor last night was more in the vein of Howard Stern than Johnny Carson. But, Oscar host is admittedly one of the toughest showbiz gigs there is, and Seth MacFarlane was far from the worst. There were, in fact, moments where you could see a pretty decent host shining through the facade. So, while I won’t be upset if he doesn’t host again, it was surely far better than the Franco/Hathaway debacle.

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