Friday, August 28, 2015

Having finally seen Waitress, I'm reminded of how much I liked Adrienne Shelly: her acting, directing, writing were all utterly charming. In interviews she always had a guileless, quirky sweetness about her, and always looked like a radiant ingenue even in her late 30s, which belied her fierce intellect below the surface. Plus she'd attended my alma mater, Boston University, only a couple years before me. I'd always wished to see her make it bigger than she did, but this allowed her to create a lot of her own opportunities in film.

It still stuns me to remember that she was murdered in 2006, at age 40, by a 19 year-old Ecuadorian construction worker, in her own Manhattan apartment. She had a happy marriage, a 2 year-old daughter, and WAITRESS had just been submitted to Sundance. It would be her final acting and directing project. She never had the chance to flower into the fully-fledged writer/director she certainly would have become on the heels of that film's plaudits.

It seems such a senseless waste of life of a woman who clearly embraced the bittersweet humor of everyday life. That some violent kid could just take it away from her, and from those that loved her, blows my mind. Remembering Ms. Shelly gives me pause and reminds me that every day is precious, that your life can turn on a dime. Perhaps I'm driven to write this because of the recent murders of journalist Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward, whose deaths were equally shocking and sudden.

On this, my wedding anniversary, I am grateful for my life, the love of my life Christine, and the great family and friends that surround me. I guess my tribute to the late Ms. Shelly is also partially meant to inspire all of us to seize our opportunities to live every single day as fully as possible. Even when things are presumably on track and stable, tragedy can strike– yet the world must continue on. This seemed to be Adrienne's own outlook. May your legacy live on, Ms. Shelly. I admired your work greatly.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Interviewed for AudiobookReviewer Website!

Thanks to and Paul Stokes for interviewing me for their website! I didn't think to sexy-up my booth before getting a picture, but despite the milk carton and the wall cracks, I really do get great sound in here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Paul's Backpacking Tips

  • Keep it lightweight, but be able to carry lots of water if necessary.
  • Bring music; it makes me hike faster and takes my mind out of the doldrums that creep in on long stretches. I use an iPod Shuffle separate from my phone, but most thrus I saw this year simply used their phones.
  • Keep your phone/camera in a light, flat, easily accessible waterproof transparent pouch (I use an eCase). Unless it's a torrential downpour, or you're climbing rocky stretches where falling is a danger, you can keep it sealed in your pocket safely but pull it out at a moment's notice for a quick picture or get information.
  • My standbys for quick energy (these have contributed to some of my high-mileage days): Trader Joe's coffee packets (milk & sugar already pre-mixed; $1.99 for 10 and they taste just as good cold as hot); Nuun Electrolyte tablets which come in a cool tube the size of a quarters roll and a multitude of flavors (and they make other tablets for Vitamins and Energy; I'm talking the ELECTROLYTE ones); and also Clif Shot Blocks. Combined with decent food, they will serve you well.
  •  Also, carry a secondary battery pack. I have one from Monoprice that cost me $30, charges 2 devices simultaneously, weighs about 5 oz., and gives an iPhone about 3 full charges. I've never run out of juice, even without power for 3-4 days.
  • To get the longest life from your phone/device, put it in Airplane Mode and turn off Location services unless you really need them for a specific reason. You can leave your device on in these modes for days without a significant loss of power (unless you are reading/listening to music, etc.). Just enable those features when you need them.

You can also peruse Paul's Appalachian Trail Journals and Pics from the past 12 years at

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to Spend a Fortune on Cheap Food


Feeling fleeced twice in Astoria, Queens, tonight.

I think I'm done with Dillinger's Wing Night. Not that I was ever a big fan to begin with. But for all its touted value, it is subject to more rules and hidden costs than other local establishments which are more forthcoming about their deals.

My recent favorite Happy Hour watering holes along 30th Ave.– Dominie's and Blackbird's Café– have always dealt straight with me, and I've never left either place feeling grumpy, as I generally do when I leave someplace feeling like I just got conned.

I decided to give Dillinger's one more try tonight. I've had a spotty track record there– despite my first experience being generally enjoyable, the rest were pretty irritating. The last time I tried to dine there before tonight, I could not even get a seat, was largely ignored, and was passed over in favor of couples for table space,  and couldn't order food or drink without being seated.

What's the draw? Well, every Tuesday, Dillinger's has "25¢ Wings". (Those quotes will be explained shortly.) So every Tuesday, a normally quiet little neighborhood bar & grill becomes a madhouse of poultry-chomping deal-seekers. I'm not embarrassed to count myself among those who like a beer and a meal for a discount price, and as I said, both of those are found at Dominie's ($5 weekday pizza, delicious) and Blackbird's ($6/12 wings and $4 for all beers, mostly quality microbrews Wed. Nite) with less crowds and less restrictions.

Oh, and better overall pricing, when you get down to it.

But let's start with the rules. Unable to determine anywhere online what time "Wing Night" actually began, I ventured into Dillinger's at 7 minutes to 6 p.m., noticing on the sign outside that it began at 6:00. Good,I thought, I'll be getting a jump on the crowds. I was easily able to take a seat at the bar (although asked to slide a seat over, later, to accommodate the growing hordes), and asked whether I had to wait until exactly 6 p.m. to place my order. The answer was technically, yes, but I could order my drink now.

BTW, this is one of the restrictions– one which I totally understand– you must order a drink with your Wings. I get that; they need to make up their price and they are balancing the cost. No problem there. But then, all drinks are full price. No happy hour discounts during a time and weekday that EVERY other bar in the area– indeed, most of the USA– is offering $3-4 beers. No, here I paid the full $6 for a pint of Long Trail, for the privilege of my "25¢ wings". But OK, sacrifices must be made in the name of cheap wings. I understand.

When 6 o'clock rolled around, and I was able to place my order of 15 Garlic Wings, the server looked doubtful and said, "You might have to order another drink for that many wings." Really? 15 is considered a large number? I asked how many were usually OK to order with just one beer, but because of a language barrier (and a bit of loudness at the bar), I never really heard the answer. In the end, I bought another beer anyway.

Which was my next mistake. Granted, their $11 Yuengling & PBR Pitcher special is a pretty good deal– and in retrospect, I should've just ordered a pitcher all to myself. A full pitcher of Yuengling would have cost LESS than the 2 pints of Long Trail & Yuengling I ended up ordering ($11.50). I didn't even know I'd be expected to order a 2nd drink all because I was going to ingest the unheard-of-except-in-Guinness-Book-eating-records total of 15 Chicken Wings, but I went along with it. Because at this point, I was pretty much trapped at my barstool.

When the check came, I was flummoxed to learn that my "25¢ Wings" were in fact 45¢ apiece. Because I'd ordered Garlic, you see. And tasty as they were, I would have gladly forgone that herb to get wings that were actually A GREAT DEAL. There was no warning from the server, "You know, those cost extra," or anything. Just add it to the bill, and suddenly the deal isn't looking like such a bargain. Oh, and ranch dressing on the side is an extra 50¢. That last one doesn't irk me too much as I knew it beforehand, but it adds up.

So instead of 25¢ wings and 2 happy hour beers, we have 45¢ wings, 2 full-price beers, and extra for the sauce. I ended up paying nearly double my expected tab, and more than I've ever paid for the same amount of food and beer at Blackbird's Wing Night– despite their deal actually NOT looking as tempting on paper. Alternatively, I would've spent less for a full Mexican platter and nice cerveza at a private booth in my favorite local sit-down restaurant, than I did for 2 beers and a plate of wings at a cramped barstool in a noisy bar on "Discount" Night.

I might not have balked at the price on a regular night. But since this was supposed to be the Great Deal, the Big Bargain, I couldn't help but walk away feeling like a sucker.

To alleviate my frustration, I stopped in for dessert– something I never do– at 16 Handles on 30th Ave. on my way home. I'd tried it before in Manhattan, and had always been meaning to try the local franchise, just blocks from my apartment.

Already full from the wings, and wary of any further price gouging, I judiciously selected the smallest cup, filled it only ¾ full with soft-serve yogurt, and added only the most meagre of toppings: 2 incredibly tame half-spoonfuls of crushed candy bar. Proud of myself for my economy of selection and self-control, I strode up to the scale/register.

This cost $7.20.

My little cup came to $7.20. This has to be a joke, I thought, as I forked it over. I enjoyed a couple ashen mouthfuls on the 5-block walk back to my apartment, by which time much of it had melted into mush.

Moral of the Story?

Until further notice, Blackbird's Café on Wednesday Nights ($4 beer, $6 for 12 wings), and Dominie's M-Th Happy Hour ($5 beer, $5-6 pizzas from scratch) are far better 30th Avenue deals. Even the beer selection is better at both places. If Dillinger's had been less Ranger-Beaver-ish about its rules, warned me about the inflated prices on options, had Happy Hour pint specials, and for that matter, had a better selection of beers, not to mention not made me feel like a criminal for thinking I could get 15 "discount" wings (which weren't) by buying only ONE pint, perhaps I would've stuck it out.

Sorry, Dillinger's, but you lost me this time.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

August Audiobook News from Your Friend and Humble Narrator


It's been a busy summer for your droog Paul Woodson. Here's a roundup of recent audiobook endeavours. 


Paul joins roster of Deyan Audio Narrators

I'm excited to be in the great company of Deyan Audio! More news on this as I learn more myself.

Night Slashers released!

I'm pleased to announce the recent release of the audiobook of Rashad Freeman's NIGHT SLASHERS. I've done a few mysteries, but none quite so gritty as this. A New Orleans plastic surgeon's life is in uproar when people around him keep being murdered. Whodunit? His business partner? His grizzled old Army buddy? Or even the surgeon himself, during a number of blackouts that are peppered with flashbacks of his service in Vietnam? You'll have to listen to find out!



A Bridge Through Time by Jennae Vale–
Production Complete; Available Soon on Audiobook

It was a pleasure to narrate the first book in Vale's THISTLE AND HIVE Series. Featuring a pastiche of English, Scottish, and American accents, this delightful Romance novel juxtaposes a modern American woman and a medieval Highland Laird! Of course it's love at first sight, with a smattering of time travel, adventure, and humour! This was a favourite of mine to narrate, and I think it will be one of yours, too– if you enjoy manly, burly Scots sweeping lassies out of their ghillies. Och aye!

The audiobook is not yet released; but in the meantime enjoy this preview clip on SoundCloud!


Engaged to Narrate and Produce Keira Montclair's
Brightest Star in the Highlands!

I'm very happy to begin pre-production on an audiobook by bestselling Highland Romance author Keira Montclair, THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE HIGHLANDS! The author herself selected me to narrate this next book in her Clan Grant Series. I'm eager to begin this new arrangement and add to my repertoire of rugged Scottish heroes and intrepid Highland heroines! Watch for it in a couple of months! In the meantime, read (or listen to) the first six books in the series (not narrated by me, FYI).