Monday, May 28, 2018

It's been a busy and crazy May! This month, I:

• completed my longest single audio title to date, THE NIGHTFALL DUOLOGY by Mickey Zucker Reichert (Official) , for HighBridge Audio​, a great fantasy adventure which clocked in at 37.1 FH! 😮💦

(In addition, it was entirely in UK accents at the publisher's request, including the base narration, which is like a second skin to me, but still requires concentration so as not to get schizophrenic.)

• attended the final Romantic Times Convention (RT Booklovers Convention) in Reno with a group of fabulous narrators from the Romance Narrators group! Several authors I've narrated for were also in attendance. I spoke on 2 panels, including what I think was our best-attended, "Men in Audiobooks", although perhaps that was due more to anticipation of bare-chested cover models, who were not in attendance.

• turned the RT Reno into an opportunity for a much-needed outdoor vacation! Flew into Phoenix, then hit Sedona, Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, the Grand Canyon (2.5 days), Las Vegas (where my brother Ben Stickel now works as a sound technician for one of the hotels), Death Valley, Lake Tahoe, and of course the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, where RT was happening. It was glorious.

• saw the release of my 1st narration of a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, RAILROADED by Richard White, for Tantor Audio!

• had my first in-person audition for Audible! It was several years in the making, but I finally got there! :) I think it went swimmingly, but still—fingers crossed.

• get to finish out the month with #APAC2018 and many wonderful narrators! Can't wait to reconnect with you all.

Friday, May 4, 2018

My #Narrator interview on the Talking Audiobooks​ #podcast is LIVE! Many thanks to Casey Trowbridge for having me. Have a listen! 😀 👂🏻

 Talking Audiobooks logo

We discuss backpacking, accents, and of course, a lot about audiobooks.

(FWIW, I never considered myself a true opera singer. I dabbled in all genres. My 1st union show was a Beatles-style rock musical.) 😎🚬

You can listen via iTunes, Podbean, etc. or directly via the website (

Audio sample within podcast:
WE EAT OUR OWN by Kea Wilson (Satire, Thriller):

Other #Audiobooks referenced in this podcast:
THE HORROR ON THE LINKS: The Complete Tales of Jules De Grandin, Volume One
• CHURCHILL, ROOSEVELT, & CO. (releasing May/June)
• THE NIGHTFALL DUOLOGY (releasing Summer 2018)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Audiobook Narration Reviews:

Maximum Volume

"This listening experience is a treat! Kenneth Womack's examination of George Martin's life will entertain those who fondly remember, and those who enjoy, the "British invasion" of popular music in the 1960s. Paul Woodson provides a beautifully professional narration with British inflections throughout. His timing, pacing, and flair are simply perfect. The record producer who initially spurned and later embraced the four lads from Liverpool is profiled in grand style. Martin's production work with Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Cilla Black, and many others, is examined with meaningful behind-the-scenes narratives. The audiobook's greatest strength is a perfect level of detail to maintain the listener's interest. This is the first of two intended volumes--this one ends in 1966. It sounds like more great listening lies ahead." —AudioFile Magazine


"Koeppel’s popular book about banana science, culture, cultivation, and consumption poses a challenge for audiobook narrator Paul Woodson, which he fully meets. Koeppel shifts back and forth from a lighthearted study of the role bananas play in our lives in the U.S. to the tragic blood-soaked history of banana cultivation in the tropics around the world, particularly in Central America. Woodson must find a tone suitably somber to discuss the machine-gun massacre of workers in Colombia and suitably lighthearted to discuss the Chiquita banana song at length. With his smooth baritone, he does an excellent job. His pronunciation is clear, and his pacing as always good. He conveys his interest in his subject—whether it’s banana genetics, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, or Wall Street corporate takeovers." —AudioFile Magazine

The Efficiency Expert

"Here Paul Woodson's spirited delivery enhances one of Burroughs's few realistic stories, which also parallels his own life. It's 1921 when Jimmy Torrance, who barely finished college, moves to Chicago in search of a good job. Woodson's Torrance is enthusiastic and meets every obstacle with confidence and optimism." —AudioFile Magazine 

Captured by the Pirate Laird

"Paul got inside the heads of the main characters with this thrilling tale. He WAS Anne, he WAS the Laird. His voice only enhanced this exciting story as the emotional tone of the characters flowed exquisitely through the telling." - Eileen Dandashi, Booktalk with Eileen

"A good story with a wonderful narrator…This is the first audio book that I have listened to with Mr. Paul Woodson narrating and I really enjoyed his narration– of one of my favorites. Mr. Woodson has such a wonderful modulated quality to his voice that makes it really a joy to listen to and is able to change the tone of his voice with each character from Calum to Wharton, Denton, and Bran, who is a child, and lastly Anne, the heroine of the book. I really enjoyed Mr. Woodson’s pleasant vibrant voice and would definitely listen to more of his narration of any audio books again!" -  Roslynn, Audible Reviewer

"…All his Scottish characters had brogues that were easily distinguished between each one and the Hero's voice was very sexy." - Carolyn, Audible Reviewer

To Bewitch a Highlander

"Loved his accent, first of all, and the way he could use his voice and still differentiate between the characters. There was no question as to whether characters he was reading were male or female.  I particularly liked his interpretation of Aidan - he always made me laugh! I will listen to more of Mr. Woodson's performances in the future." - Plaidninja814, Audible Reviewer

Highland Thunder

"Loved it"
"What a great story and narrated by Paul Woodson made it even better than when I read it. Loved the connection between the main characters, Duncan and Brenna, despite their difficulty in reaching their HEA, but when they finally connect it is wonderful. Adding the voice of Mr. Woodson made it almost real, his deep voice, full of passion and the Scottish burr makes my heart melt." - Seelk, Audible Reviewer

Highland Solution

"Mr. Woodson really brings this story to life; his accents, pitches, emotions come across beautifully. You've got to listen to this!!!" - Seelk, Audible Customer Reviewer

His Scottish Pet (under pseudonym)
"Breathtaking! I love this erotic Scottish story and to listen it from a voice with a sexy Scottish accent... Swoon.... Listening like this, added one more pleasure to the whole experience of this book!!" - Maria, Audible Customer

"The gentleman that reads it for you will make you melt!" - Coleen Deneroy, Goodreads

How to Raise an Honest Rabbit (under pseudonym)

"I loved the narrator's voice. He made Jeremy sound like a con man at times, which he was, and lost and confused, which he was even more often. Aiden, just amazing." - Princess, Audible

"Narration is great – his voice is distinctive and age appropriate for the characters, and is pleasant to listen to. Perhaps the best compliment I can give the narration is that at times I became to engrossed in the story that I simply forgot he was narrating a story. He never becomes a distraction and makes the characters come to life. A simple delight." - Leisa, Prism Book Alliance

Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny's Lair (under pseudonym)

"[The narrator] did a great job performing this story. He brought these characters to life and showcased their emotions spectacularly." - PizzyGirl, Prism Book Alliance

Knitter in His Natural Habitat (under pseudonym)

"[This narrator's] best yet. His Johnny interpretation was fantastic but he excelled with the swishy yet cranky Stanley. This is his range, as it were, at its best." - Morgan A Skye, Amazon

"I felt this narrator did a good job on this story. His voices for the characters were distinct and spot on for what I would picture for these men. His accents were great and the emotion came across easily." - PizzyGirl, Prism Book Alliance

Sunday, February 4, 2018

AudioFile Magazine review of my narration of Beatles expert Kenneth Womack's great bio MAXIMUM VOLUME, about George Martin, record producer of the Fab 4!

 Audio sample

"This listening experience is a treat! Kenneth Womack's examination of George Martin's life will entertain those who fondly remember, and those who enjoy, the "British invasion" of popular music in the 1960s. Paul Woodson provides a beautifully professional narration with British inflections throughout. His timing, pacing, and flair are simply perfect. The record producer who initially spurned and later embraced the four lads from Liverpool is profiled in grand style. Martin's production work with Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, Cilla Black, and many others, is examined with meaningful behind-the-scenes narratives. The audiobook's greatest strength is a perfect level of detail to maintain the listener's interest. This is the first of two intended volumes--this one ends in 1966. It sounds like more great listening lies ahead."— AudioFile Magazine

Have a listen:

Buy the audiobook:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

To celebrate, I'm giving away some free audiobooks!

 Matter of Time image

That's right, Book 4 in Jennae Vale's THISTLE & HIVE series, A MATTER OF TIME, was chosen by fans as the winner of the #HistoricalRomance category. (There's some time-travel in there for good measure.)

Thanks and congratulations as well to the talented author Jennae Vale for engaging me in the narration of her wonderful books, and to The Geeky Blogger for the contest!

Congrats to all the other winners, as well! I feel I'm in good company.

For a very limited time, I am giving away free audio copies of either Book 1 or Book 2 in the THISTLE & HIVE Series. Visit my Facebook Page for the full details on how you too can obtain a copy! Perhaps it will even whet your appetite to get all the way to the Award-Winning Book #4!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I've moved my analysis of Aronofsy's film "mother!" to a separate blog page, so it's not taking up so much room on my main page.


 You can view my analysis HERE,


OR even better, listen to my narrated analysis on YouTube HERE.

Youtube Mother Link

Saturday, June 3, 2017

#APAC2017 was a whirlwind couple of days once again, but this time I felt more prepared, more relaxed, less overwhelmed. I just stuck to the schedule this time and let Fate guide me the rest of the way.

It was the first year, I think, that as many people approached me (“Hey, you’re Paul Woodson!) as I did them (“Hey, you’re Narrator McFamous!”), which allowed for more casual interaction and less pressure to be that sort of creepy-assertive-proactive-convention-stalker type. (Which I’m bad at anyway.)

It was still humbling of course to hear such stalwarts give excellent readings at the Listening Lounge, and watch the #Audies winners stroll in to the #Naudies in their tuxes and gowns and medals, but it felt like a room I was welcome in; the atmosphere was warm and embracing. I drank far less this year too, so I actually can remember the Naudies from beginning to end, and I don't think I told any bad jokes to drive Jeffrey Kafer away this time. Mission accomplished!

Thanks to everybody who has helped usher me along on this adventure bit by bit; you are too numerous to name, but it has been a great ride so far and I have no intentions of getting off the coaster! I will try always to keep narrating quality work, and routinely to have a fresh FB selfie of me with a pint in the foreground or a mountain in the background (or ideally both simultaneously). 🍺🏔

Sorry my lovely wife Christine (and Kellgren doppelgänger, which was the source of mistaken-identity humor last year in Chicago) was not around at the festivities; but she has been informed of your interest, and I will make sure she meets you all again next time round!
And after enough brutally honest conversation with you all, I will finally concede that yes, I did indeed marry up. She’s way out of my league and far too hot for me. I do get the message loud and clear.

I didn’t get enough pictures of the events myself, but it’s been a pleasure seeing all of yours! I feel so honored to be a part of such an intelligent, talented, attractive, and generous group. Hoping to continue to get to know you all better as each year comes round! Cheers! 🍻

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Universal Coffee Vortex

Setting: Land of Checagou
A Panera, a Starbucks, and a Peet’s directly alongside one another.

I’ve found the Coffee Vortex of the Universe, my comrades. They say no mere mortal ever returns.

It beckons, and I must follow. There is good chance you may never see my face again.
I do not advise coming to my rescue, but if you must pursue, bring a sawbuck to tip the ferryman to guide you across the River Styxigan Avenue (make sure to use the passphrase “Come Sail Away”), and I will find you when Hades and Persephone open at 5 am.

More on my APAC adventures to follow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

RUM SWIZZLES – What Are They, and Which Is Best?


–A Guest Post by Christine Woodson–


On a recent trip to Bermuda, and my very first time, I made it my personal mission, during my limited time on the island, to see which establishment made the best rum swizzle.  I visited three.
The Rum Swizzle, while many establishments have their own way of making it and their own secret ingredient, mostly consists of Black Rum, Gold Rum, Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, Grenadine, and various other items depending on how you make or where you get it.

SWIZZLE INN – near Grotto Bay Resort

During my husband Paul’s research, we knew we were going to be going to the Swizzle Inn a few times as it's located just down the road from where we were staying.
The Swizzle Inn’s site says that Bermuda’s national drink originated here.  Their motto is “Swizzle Inn - Stagger Out!”.  Our first night in Bermuda, I tested out this theory of theirs.  Instead of a single glass of swizzle, Paul and I decided to go all in and ordered a pitcher of it.  Granted, he probably slugged back more than I, but I did my fair share.  It had not only the extra ingredients but a good amount of rum.  And I was “almost” staggering by the time I left the establishment.  Definitely had the tipsy going on.  
HOG PENNY PUB - Hamilton

On our second day in Bermuda, we ventured all over the place.  At the end of the day, we wound up in Hamilton.  We stopped by the Hog Penny Pub, another place Paul had researched.

Hog Penny’s website says that they had one of the best swizzles around.  Happy’s Famous Rum Swizzle (“Happy Jack” Godfrey’s original and highly secret recipe).  I was game.  While Paul ordered a beer, I asked the bartender for the Rum Swizzle.  In his very apparent British accent, he told me it was a good choice but also warned me that the mixologist did not make the best ones that day.  Another bartender, laughingly agreed with him and even went further to say that it had the essence of a cherry Hi-C.

I am not, by any means, a cherry person.  But I was still willing to give it a go.  The drink was poured, the straw put in place, and the drinking commenced.

The second bartender hit the nail on the head.  It DEFINITELY tasted like a cherry Hi-C.  It had been a long while since I have even HAD a cherry Hi-C, but that memory will always stay with you, no matter the experience.

While, cherry was not my favorite, I finished it nevertheless.  But with much less enthusiasm.  There was way, way more cherry flavor and hardly any rum.  In no way was I staggering.  Granted, I only had one drink but it was a pretty good sized glass.  Not even any vocal slurring.

To be fair, I was warned about the batch made for that day.  Would I give it another try?  Sure!




On our third day in Bermuda, we explored St. George and the surrounding area.  For dinner that evening, we went to the White Horse Pub & Restaurant.  The website says that their rum swizzle is Gosling’s secret recipe that will have you coming back for more…they promise.  Well, perhaps they shouldn’t make promises they cannot keep.  Okay, I’m not saying it was bad.  I did drink it, but it had more pineapple in it than rum.  You could barely taste the rum.



We had such a great time in Bermuda!  We enjoyed all of our adventures.  At the airport, we even went shopping at the Duty Free shop and picked up Black Rum and Swizzle Inn’s own “secret ingredients” package.  As an afterthought, we also bought their Rum Swizzle which comes already made for consumption.
After we arrived home, and since we were still on vacation, Paul made us homemade Rum Swizzles with the rum and packet of “secret ingredients”.  WOW!  In no way can I complain that it wasn’t strong.  He had picked up the 140 proof black rum!  That’s my husband! J  Over the week, he did perfect it with the additional fruit juices, which we switched to after we finished off the packet.  My honey does make a good Rum Swizzle!


While each place had their own versions of Rum Swizzles, the Swizzle Inn was hands down the best!  While you could argue that we had ordered a pitcher, their glasses were small.  Two of their glasses equaled one glass from the other establishments.  Not only could you taste the rum in the drink, but there was a perfect blending of the ingredients within the cocktail.
This personal journey of tasting/testing one of Bermuda’s most famous cocktails was worth the headache that “may” have accompanied the first night ;)
Congratulations, Swizzle Inn!
- Christine Woodson 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Interviewed by Author D.P. Prior about my Audiobook Career, as well as the recording process of his new Fantasy novel, CARNIFEX: LEGENDS OF THE NAMELESS DWARF!

I had a great time recording the audiobook of CARNIFEX; hopefully you'll have an equally great time listening to my narration of it! Learn about the ins & outs of producing an audiobook, my history with accents, both acting and personal, and what it's like to voice a Scottish dwarf.

Read the interview HERE on D.P. Prior's Website


LISTEN to the Audio Sample from CARNIFEX here  



Thursday, February 25, 2016

"SPRING" merges Linklater-style verbal romance with Lovecraftian weirdness

On the recommendation of a podcast, I just caught SPRING, a quirky, suspenseful romance with just a dash of horror.

I can't reveal too much without spoilers, but this indie, beautifully shot in Italy, is an understated gem. Don't let the "Horror" moniker fool you; although there are some grotesque moments, this is a Romantic Drama through and through. (And the "horror" parts are actually kind of sweet.)

 This scene, and SPRING itself, evokes BEFORE SUNRISE. Literally.

After the death of his mother, our downtrodden 20-something hero Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) journeys to Italy seeking to find something to give his aimless life meaning again. After a series of twists and turns, he finds himself in a picturesque coastal Italian town, and falling under the charms of Louise (played by the utterly captivating Nadia Hilker). As they walk and talk and fall in love under the European twilight, Evan seems to have found his perfect mate. There's just one snag…

Basically, imagine a variation on BEFORE SUNRISE, except that Julie Delpy has a pretty important secret. (And it's probably not what you're thinking.)

I hope to see more of Ms. Hilker, who's German, in more English-language films very soon! She's in the next 2 Divergent films, so I guess there's that.

B+. Seek it out on DVD or various streaming services!

Also Read Rolling Stone's capsule review, which is in their "10 Best Horror of 2015". (Though again I admonish, "horror"? Is it, though? Welllll, a little bit, sorta…)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

John Lennon Remembered, and CHAPTER 27 (film)

My 2nd residence in Manhattan was the same block as the Dakota. (I'm still not sure how I got such a great deal on W. 72nd St. to be able to afford it.) Every time I walked up the street to Central Park I thought about him, and all the history there. And every 8 December, there were always many acolytes both at the Dakota Apartments, and the "Imagine" Memorial just east, inside Central Park.

My parents were massive Beatles fans and I know that my birth name was at least partly influenced by Paul McCartney. John Lennon, though, was the strongest id of the group. He had such an amazing life journey, not just the fame and fortune of it all, but his transformation from a frustrated, pent-up, almost criminal youth to a peace-and-love, universalist embracing philosophy. What a cultural touchstone he was. And what a tragic waste.

Mark Chapman was an addled excuse for a human being, but he was portrayed with intriguing commitment (seriously, with the weight gain he is unrecognisable) by Jared Leto in the sleeper CHAPTER 27 (2007), which follows Chapman's time in NYC leading up to his assassination of John Lennon. He's not glamourized or sympathised at all, and it's sad because you know how it's all going to end, but it does put you into an interesting time and place, and the supporting cast (generally all playing Lennon fans – Lindsay Lohan, reminding us that she CAN be a really good actress– or paparazzi– Judah Friedlander of 30 ROCK fame– that Chapman interacted with) are all phenomenal.

Friday, October 30, 2015

3 Fun Low-Budget Thriller/Horrors for Halloween!


3 Fun Low-Budget Thriller/Horrors…

Currently on Netflix

All released within the Last 3 Years!

Image result for creep movieImage result for zombeavers movie

Did a Triple Netflix thriller feature today, in the spirit of Halloween!

All 3 made on a shoestring budget, all worth catching in their own way (but your mileage may vary):

1. CREEP. Videographer gets hired to film creepy Mark Duplass for a day. Starts normal, then #ThingsGoWrong.

2. ZOMBEAVERS. The title really says it all, doesn't it? Surprisingly far better than it has a right to be, probably because it was far worse than I was expecting. But worse in a good way. Characters are all unpleasant assholes, but the cast playing them is surprisingly engaging, which makes them watchable. Obnoxious oversexed college girls visit a Cabin In the Woods, Toxic Beavers rise from the dead, and #ThingsGoWrong.

3. WOULD YOU RATHER. Agatha Christie meets SAW? A dinner party is hosted by ghoulish billionaire Jeffrey Combs (veteran of Re-Animator), who promises a lucrative prize to the 1 of his 8 guests who "wins the game". Which means that #ThingsGoWrong.

Happy Halloween viewing!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fargo Season 2 So Far

Well, I am still waiting for Season 2 of FARGO to wow me in the same fashion as Season 1. Last season kicked off with a thrilling opener and never eased up.

2 Episodes in on S2, though, and despite some nice touches, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

1) No Lorne Malvo, or any character resembling him.
2) No Lorne Malvo. (Yes, a second time. It's that important.)
3) S1 showed our sleepy, smiley Midwest folk being shaken up by evil influences (again, it all comes back to –mostly– Malvo.) In S2, it seems the Evil is already alive and thriving, and nobody's surprised or shocked. It's all jaded cynicism from Day One.
4) The motivations of our young couple make no sense. Unlike S1 Lester (the delightfully weasel-y Martin Freeman) who was pulled into the Vortex by Malvo (see? again!), our S2 antiheroes begin their misdeeds and cover-ups for no understandable reason whatever. As a result, they are unrelatable.
5) I don't want to spend this much time with the quirky gangsters. There are far too many of them, and besides, they're not really amusingly quirky at all. They're mostly just very unpleasant.
6) Aliens? Really?

One plus: if this gets any new generations to listen to Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, well, that's a minor win.

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).