Monthly Archives: May 2013

Behind The Audio: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself

Adam Boretz -- May 31st, 2013


This week in Behind the Audio, we take a look at comedian, actress, and author Jen Kirkman’s debut memoir, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a Happy Life Without Kids.

The audio edition, available from Tantor Media, is narrated by Kirkman herself. Here’s what she had to tell us about the project:

When I found out that Tantor wanted me to record an audio version of my book I was ecstatic. I thought, “This kind of counts as another comedy album and now I won’t have to record one of those this year.” As a stand-up comedian, it meant a lot to be able to read my own book — not that Morgan Freeman wouldn’t have given a respectable performance, but I don’t think he can impersonate my mom as well as I can.

While reading my book into a microphone, I remembered a game a teacher of mine used to play. The class would gather in a circle and one of us would read aloud until we screwed up and then pass the book to the next person — I excelled at not screwing up. It was a dream come true to finally make a living at this very specific skill!

Ever since the age of five, I have sounded like a two-pack-a-day smoker with a sinus infection. I sat in the audio booth with about three cups of hot water and honey. What I remember most about the experience is how often my bladder got exercised and my skin had a healthy glow from drinking a gallon of warm water a day. Some people may buy my audio book for the laughs and stay for the sexy vocal fry.

Once my book was on your favorite store bookcases or Amazon warehouse shelves — the way people read it is up to the voices in their head. That takes some surrender on the part of the author. I found great satisfaction in narrating the audio version of my book so that I could give certain sentences the inflection I feel they needed. Thank you Tantor, for giving me the opportunity to soothe my inner control freak.

For an audio excerpt from I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, check out the following SoundCloud clip:

The Great Big Reading Poll

Gabe Habash -- May 23rd, 2013

big book

The last Official PWxyz Poll we did saw To Kill a Mockingbird win the Great American Novel title. Now: we want to know about how you read. Print or digital? New or used? Bookmark or dogear? See if you’re as neurotic as other PWxyz readers!


Listen While You Work Out with Macmillan Audio

Adam Boretz -- May 20th, 2013


Just in time for Spring, our pals over at Macmillan Audio have launched “Listen While You Work Out” — a campaign aimed at helping people get in shape by listening to audiobooks.

Macmillan is encouraging its staff, colleagues, and listeners to use audiobooks as a way to log in extra time at the gym. Just by continuing to work out until the end of whatever chapter (or book) they’re listening to, people can burn more calories and get in shape more quickly.

Participants can log the hours spent working out while listening to audiobooks to track how much more they’ve exercised. As you can see from Macmillan’s Facebook page, people are really racking up some impressive numbers — with Macmillan’s own Esther leading the pack with a whopping 900 plus minutes active!

And, the campaign is getting some serious press — check out these stories from Fitness Magazine, Parents, and Fox. Summer may be almost here, but “Listen While You Work Out” is far from over. So sign up, download an audiobook, grab your iPod, and get to the gym today.

10 Biggest Book Adaptation Flops

Gabe Habash -- May 16th, 2013

For this list, we didn’t just want book adaptations that were a critical/audience failure or a box office failure–we wanted both. That’s why the films you see below might not be the biggest money losers or the most panned; instead, they’re a combination of the most hated and most wasteful uses of celluloid out there. If none of these movies were made, over $913,000,000 would have been saved and approximately 4 billion viewing hours would have been saved.

(The following films were either critical or money failures, but not both, so they couldn’t make the list: The Great Gatsby [the Redford one], Lolita [1997], Treasure Planet, Beloved, The House of the Spirits, many more)

10. John Carter (2012)

Net Losses (inflation adjusted to 2012): $67,221,900

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%

Representative Review Quote: “There’s nothing to see, nothing to think about, nothing to care about, and nothing to feel, just emptiness. The emptiness is never filled over the course of 132 long, barren minutes.” -San Francisco Chronicle

Everyone was excited to call John Carter a flop before it even came out in 2012, and though it did tank, it lost less money than some of the other films on this list and it actually received so-so reviews. It’s hard to justify the $250 million dollar budget, and while it was trying to capture the same adventure feel of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it ended up being compared to the worst aspects of Prince of Persia, The Phantom Menace, and Cowboys & Aliens. Yeah, I forgot about Cowboys & Aliens, too.

9. Atlas Shrugged: Part I, II (and probably) III (2011-2014)

Net Losses (first two parts combined, not adjusted): $22,036,572

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 11% (Part I); 5% (Part II)

Representative Review Quote: “A disaster as a film, Atlas also is laughable in its presentation of Rand’s ideology.” -Philadelphia Inquirer

Have you seen the poster? The trailer? Continue reading

Beckett’s Trilogy in Pie Chart Form

Gabe Habash -- May 9th, 2013


Then I went back into the house and wrote, It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining.

We’ve been at this literary pie chart thing for awhile now (other pie charts: UnderworldMadame Bovary, Crime and Punishment, The Metamorphosis, Ulysses, and 2666), but making a pie out of Samuel Beckett’s Trilogy is the most challenging yet. Modernist Cuisine challenging. So, in order to do justice to the writer’s masterwork, we special-ordered an emulsifier and a blowtorch. And though we stunk up the PWxyz kitchen during our many failed attempts using logic, reason, and hope, just when we thought we couldn’t go on, we went on.

Here’s our steaming Melton Mowbray pork pie, an ode to the hatchet/bludgeon work of Lemuel, Molloy, and Jacques.beckett2

*Other ways to put this: proposition/negation; function/inverse function; considering/reconsidering

Kennedy’s Last Days Comes to Audio

Adam Boretz -- May 6th, 2013

Following up on the huge success of the audio editions of conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot, and Killing Lincoln: The Assassination that Changed America Forever, Macmillan Audio is set to release another offering from the O’Reilly Factor host — this time a children’s title.

On June 10, Macmillan will publish the audiobook of Kennedy’s Last Days, the children’s adaptation O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy.

This time around, veteran narrator Edward Herrmann reads the book, with O’Reilly narrating the prologue. Check out this video from Macmillan for an early audio excerpt:

Can You Guess the Authors by Their Nobel Citations?

Gabe Habash -- May 2nd, 2013

Mr. Murakami is not pleased, Swedish Academy.

PWxyz doesn’t have time for non-nerdy quizzes; there are too many of those. Instead, here’s one of the more blistering tests this side of the Badwater Ultramarathon–guess the Nobel winner by citation. The format is much like a non-demanding English course–everyone’s favorite: multiple choice! In an attempt to make it less trying, we’ve narrowed down citations and choices to the more household-known Nobel winners. Sorry, 1903 laureate Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, you just missed the cut.

Oh, and let’s say a 10/10 gets you a coveted one-way ticket to Mars. Tell us your score in the comments!


1. “For having transported the destitution of man into his exaltation”

A. Albert Camus

B. Samuel Beckett

C. Isaac Bashevis Singer

2. “For a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”

A. Pablo Neruda

B. W.B. Yeats

C. T.S. Eliot

3. “For his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

A. Rudyard Kipling

B. John Steinbeck

C. Eugene O’Neill

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