Wait, Wait, A Few Dern Moments: Notable Digital Freebies

By Daniel Dern: Got some eye/ear time available? Here’s a few that don’t require reaching for your wallet (assuming you still own and use a wallet).


If you like Broadway musicals with a strong dash of snark, you’ll probably love this quasi-fourth-wallish musical comedy spoof — great songs, great dance, great actors. So far (as of August 1), four of the six half-hour episodes are up.

Apple Plus TV is $4.95/month (and, like Display+ and HBO Max, among others, you can let several people share your account).

Meridithilly, (currently), all premiere episodes of Apple Plus series are available free without you having to even join…and you can get a free one-trial. So you could wait a fortnight and catch them all. (Of course, if you’re going to want to watch Foundation, or have already been Ted Lasso‘ing, etc., this advice is moot.)


I don’t consider myself an audio-book fan (versus the megahours of music, Firesign Theater, NPR segments, etc that I ebibe, along with enjoying author readings in person and Zoomed), but a friend not only recommended the ensemble Audible of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman (which I read as the comics came out, one by one, and periodically re-read my trade paperback versions of), and, so far, I’m enjoying it.

Gaiman is doing the narration; the all-star cast includes James McAvoy as Morpheus (Dream), Kat Dennings as Death, Andy Serkis as Matthew the Raven, among others.

I reserved the ten-CD, 10 hour 55 minute set through my library, but a friend re-urged me to simply go through Audible — The Sandman by Neil Gaiman — who currently offers this for free — it’s listed as “free sample” but at least for now, it’s the whole thing. A price that’s hard to beat. (My friend says “No Audible account needed” (or maybe that’s “no need to give any payment info” — I appear to already have four other Audible things on my phone, in the app that’s clearly been sitting there for a few years.)

(I don’t see this on HooplaDigital.com, though there’s a dozen or so other Gaiman audiobooks — and the comic book collections are all there, under e-books…)

This set covers the first three book collections of Sandman’s 75 issues.

“Act II” is apparently coming out mid-August.

The mix of Gaiman’s narration, the voices, plus SFX and music, are (so far– I’m early on) well done and feel true to the words-and-images source. I can’t say or even guess what the experience would be for somebody who hasn’t read (which, for comics, includes looking at, of course) the original comics (or listening first and then reading). (Let me know!)


Hoopla’s digital book/comic, audio and video loans already don’t cost anything — but you’re limited per month to whatever your library’s arrangement is with Hoopla. (Although if you can also accounts with additional Hoopla-partnering libraries, you can up your monthly borrows that way.)

“Bonus Borrows,” first introduced somewhere in the last year so, however, don’t count against your monthly quota — here’s https://www.hoopladigital.com/collection/13534 the batch that Hoopla just added.


Megapack collections are hundreds-to-thousand page collections of sf and other stuff, by authors known and lesser-known, mostly of older stuff, but some, I’m seeing, have new stories, interviews, and other materials. Lots of author and thematic SF (and pulp, detective, western, etc.) anthologies.

On Amazon/Kindle, these e-collections are inexpensive, periodically in the Meredith Moment range (a buck or three), making them inexpensive, ahem, Kindling to make sure you’ve got enough back-up reading material for a long trip…or a relaxing weekend.

Hoopla (hoopladigital.com), it turns out/I’ve just discovered, has bunches of said megapacks — https://www.hoopladigital.com/search?page=1&q=megapack&scope=everything&type=direct — Free! (Only requirement: You need a card/account with a public library that partners with Hoopla — and each library determines how many items a patron can borrow per month. Borrows auto-return if you don’t release them sooner, so you can’t run up overdue or “lost” fines.)

A quick look at the search results from the URL shows megapack titles including: Harry Harrison, Fredric Brown, Edgar Pangborn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, H. Beam Piper, Jane Austen, R.A.Lafferty, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack London science fiction, and topicals including Cthulhu Mythos, Robot, Whodunit?, Fantasy, Utopia, Steampunk, Mystery, Sea-Story, Vampire, Great American Novel, Space Opera…the task of filling up your list…

Tip: “Favorite” (“heart”) the ones you want, to keep track, and then judiciously borrow based on how much time you think you’ll have to e-consume.

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11 thoughts on “Wait, Wait, A Few Dern Moments: Notable Digital Freebies

  1. Audible’s full cast production of The Sandman is I will advise is definitely R rated. It’s done as horror, not dark fantasy and there were places when I listened to it when I actually cringed. It’s most, most excellent though. It won’t go unto my frequently listen list like the BBC production of Neverwhere.

  2. R is for Sandman: That aligns with much of the source material (the original comics).
    BTW, as I continue listening, it reminds me how much I love when older/other bits of comic book history/continuity gets woven in… here (Sandman), for example, the original Justice Society’s Sandman, Kirby’s (brief) interior-space-opera Sandman, Etrigan (Kirby’s rhyming demon, who shows up in lots of other comics), J’ohn Jonzz, and John Constantine. Examples elsewhere include Stanley and His Monster showing up in Kevin Smith’s great Green Arrow mini-series QUIVER.

  3. So this is a list “freebies” where only the Hoopla content is actually free?

    And, re:Hoopla, my local library participates with both Hoopla and Kanopy. Personally, I think Kanopy has a lot more interesting content than Hoopla.

  4. @Dennis Howard

    So this is a list “freebies” where only the Hoopla content is actually free?

    To re-iterate:

    Hoopla is free. Period, semicolon, pronequark, set, and match. Technically, “free to library users…” Your library is paying Hoopla, and your library is being paid by tax dollars, bake sales, donors, etc.”

    The Sandman 1-hour “sampler” is (currently) free from Audible. I’m about halfway through the download, listening via my phone. It looks like it’s the same thing as the 10-CD set I’d borrowed via my library (and returned once I got the Audible, saving me the 2 minutes to dig out my CD-Walkman if I wanted to listen while walking the dog, etc., versus on one of the sundry CD players around the house.)

    The premiere episode of Schmigadoon is free, you need the Apple Plus app (or perhaps via its web site), but neither need to sign up nor give a payment-account thingie. Apple Plus offers a several-day free trial, so if you don’t sign up for at least another week, all six half-hour episodes will be available during your free trial period.

    And, of course, my research and advice (here) has been free. Am I missing something (in your question)?

  5. @ Daniel Dern

    Sorry. I guess I was just looking for something new to me. Thanks for your research.

    Yes I understand that Hoopla is free. As I said above, my library participates with both Hoopla and Kanopy. I recently watched two film versions of The Color Out Of Space back-to-back. Kanopy has the 2010 German film and Hoopla has the 2019 Nicolas Cage version. I think that sort of reflects the kinds of content available on the two services.

    And of course most streaming services offer free trials. I watched Picard during a free trial of CBS All Access (now called Paramount+) and I watched all of A Discovery of Witches during a free trial of Sundance Now. I thought that sort of thing was common knowledge and that most everybody already does that.

  6. A quick browse confirms that Kanopy has lots of movies/TV/video, but I’m not immediately seeing much that grabs me… and between Acorn and Mhz, plus Amazon and Netflix, we are already ent-deep in things to watch. Plus the occasional library borrow, where JustWatch doesn’t show a stream match.

    And I’ve barely scratched the audio world. Spotify (which I use the free-with-commercials account, currently have nearly 3,200 ‘liked songs’ playlist) includes a world of stuff (as does Amazon Music, and others), including lots of the Smithsonian/Folkways collection(s).

  7. Daniel Dern says A quick browse confirms that Kanopy has lots of movies/TV/video, but I’m not immediately seeing much that grabs me… and between Acorn and Mhz, plus Amazon and Netflix, we are already ent-deep in things to watch. Plus the occasional library borrow, where JustWatch doesn’t show a stream match.

    I’m currently subscribing to Paramount+ and Peacock (which has both Eureka and Warehouse which I’ve been planning full rewatches of), plus I recently discovered the IMDB app which has all of the new and old Leverage runs. And of course I subscribe to Audible as well. More than enough potential content to consider consuming.

  8. It’s all a matter of taste, of course. But Kanopy — which is a free, library-affiliated service like Hoopla — has all sorts of oddball and ‘arthouse’ films that are right up my alley. They have Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse, Jean Rollins’ vampire films, lots of Italian giallo films from the 1960s and 70s, and many other films that are hard to find anywhere else.

  9. Oh I should have mentioned this one. Kanopy has “Death Bed: The Bed that Eats”, possibly the weirdest film I’ve ever watched. The film has its own Wikipedia entry if you want to know more about it.

  10. If nobody has yet put in a plug for “Ragnarok,” this is a plug for it. Its a Norwegian series, just finished its second season, and it manages to be awfully good with its low budget.
    The real treasure is the kid who plays Loki. No discredit to the wonderful actor playing that part in his own series, but this kid really gets the character right. He never does what you think he will do, and he takes total joy is what he is doing. He dominates every scene in which he appears, not by main force but but subtlety and stealth and wit.
    The disconnect between the English dubbing and the captioning is an ‘interesting’ feature that somehow does not spoil anything.
    And the show really adds new meaning to the phrase Giant Corporation.

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