Ilivetolearn's Blog

February 14, 2010

336.87 hours in the car

Filed under: books/authors,lyrics,on the road — ilivetolearn @ 12:43 am

Recently I was looking over the list of books I read in 2009 and was surprised to find that I had actually listened to almost as many as I consumed in what my fellow crossword-lovers call the “dead-tree version.” And given that I only do books-on-CD in the car, and only when I am driving alone or with 100% of my passengers asleep, I am clearly logging way too many hours behind the wheel.

Out of 54 books (and I am cheating and counting the three I didn’t actually finish because I hated them or lost interest) 24 1/2 were on CD. Here’s the half:  I started listening to Girls Like Us, by Sheila Weller–a triple biography of Carly Simon, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell–and I loved the content but had to switch to print because the reader was not to my liking. For one thing, every time she came to song lyrics, which as you can imagine were integral to the narrative, she read them. Tonelessly. I don’t blame her–I would have done the same. How to compete with those three singers? But it’s a pleasant surprise when a reader does sing, and I am in awe of the talent most of them display for dialogue, accents, timing, and sheer drama.

Here’s the current line-up–one finished, one in progress, and two waiting in the wings:

Yes, the number in the title is the actual elapsed time I “read” while driving last year. And 2010 is shaping up to set a new record for pages/miles/ear candy.

February 5, 2010


Filed under: names/language — ilivetolearn @ 9:38 pm

The last two months’ obituaries have taught me a thing or two about branding. Did you think Price Club was so called because of its low prices? Wrong. It was founded by Sol Price, who died in mid-December. It’s now part of Costco, no doubt named after Willard S. Cost (OK, I made that up).

How about Taco Bell: given that name because it makes for a cute logo and seems to carry the subliminal “ring the Pavlovian bell and be rewarded with Mexican food” message? Wrong. Founded by the recently deceased Glen W. Bell.

And for a more historical perspective: there’s the Outerbridge Crossing, connecting Staten Island with New Jersey. Happens to be the most remote of the Port Authority bridges and the southernmost bridge in New York State. Hence the name? No. It was named for the first chairman of the Port Authority, Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, who lived in Staten Island at the time.

The reverse is true sometimes: Cross Campus at Yale is called that because it…crosses the campus. Not, as I had been authoritatively telling people, after Wilbur Cross, who will have to be content with the high school and the parkway as namesakes.

Now how about the name Eugenius…is it a) a Roman emperor, b) an indie rock band, c) a 12th-century pope, d) a digital imaging firm, or e) all of the above?

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