Saturday, September 17, 2011


This is apropos of nothing bookish. This is about mice.

Mice. In my kitchen. Under the sink.
I hate mice. In my kitchen. Under the sink.
This means war.

Ten years ago, when I lived in a Arts & Crafts bungalow just outside of Washington , D.C., we had a mouse problem. Neighboring properties (yes, that's plural) were undergoing renovation and, as a result, field mice started flooding adjacent homes. At first, my sweet, tiny, adorable cat named Thurman (a polydactyl cat whose paws looked like baseball catchers' mitts, hence the name a la Thurman Munson, the catcher for the NY Yankees) was having a field day in the back yard. It looked like a killing field of genocidal proportions. She (yes, Thurman the cat was a she) would bring me offerings of dead mice, dumping them at my feet, I'm told, to impress me. Ugh. But eventually, she retired. Maybe she felt she had nothing left to prove, so she took her place in the windowsills, sunning herself while the hordes continued to pour in. Maybe we should have named her Swartzkopf.

And there were hordes of mice. Our dogs, while willing to patrol the perimeters of the property for larger threats (drunks from the disreputable liquor store) seemed unconcerned about the "smaller" threat that was infiltrating our home. When I discovered the rodents in the kitchen, I freaked. I used to be insanely obsessive about cleanliness and this was unacceptable. Plus, they had holed up in our stove, making turning on the stove or oven an untenable proposition. The smell was nasty. Mice apparently love to hang out in the warm space right under the stove top, leaving their droppings and that strange ammonia smell. Eeewwww!

So now, I'm surrounded by sneaky mice and some of them are holed up in the Tora Bora that is my stove. First thing, we had to remove the stove and throw it away. Yes! Previously, a perfectly good stove, it was now contaminated and ruined. Behind the stove, we cleaned up, soaking the wood floors with Pine Sol. In fact, all the wood floors in our home were swabbed down with Pine Sol because we were told mice hate Pine Sol. This seemed like a good solution as this meant the mice would be disgusted with the smell and go away. And many of them did. But not all.

There was a cell still occupying the kitchen. I would see something flit out of the corner of my eye and track it down until I came to a hidey hole. Sometimes, the holes were no bigger than a dime, bored into the baseboards when telephone lines were installed or; sometimes a mere slit under which the mice would slip. So out came the caulking guns. Now were're sealed, but the mice are either making their way though the caulking or making new holes! Now, at this point, we hear that the best thing to do is spackle the holes with steel wool, chicken wire and bits of broken glass. I'm a bit horrified at the idea of mice getting caught up in this mess and, then dying behind the walls where they will remain as their tiny bodies decompose (and presumably smell.) At this point, however I'm willing to try this and deal with the aftermath later. I worried for nothing because it didn't work.

I'm going insane. In the middle of the night, I'm sitting on a chair in the middle of the kitchen, waiting for a tell-tale sign that the mice are afoot. I begin being able to identify the different mice. I name the big one Omousa bin Laden. Perhaps a flick of a tail against one of the dog dishes (sparkly clean dog dishes mind you. The dog and cat dishes are cleaned every night now and; the dog and cat foods have been sealed in plastic containers out on the porch.) I develop night vision. I can see them. I can hear them. I can smell them. And I am armed. With broom and a shoebox close at hand, I even manage to corner one. I'm closing in. I'm ready. Then DH comes in and offers to help. I say NO! NO! I GOT HIM! But of course DH is a man and he's genetically incapable of not helping with this mouse capture. He helps. Or I should say, he helped the mouse escape. Thank you Mr. Fucking Pakistan.

And now, I turn to my husband and say, we need traps. The catch-and-release kind. So he goes to the hardware store and gets a couple of shiny metal boxes that guarantee the humane capture of mice. We put a bit of peanut butter into the traps and wait. We catch a couple, which DH dutifully releases into a field far enough away that I'm reasonably assured that they will not return. But we only catch a couple. I don't know why they stopped falling for it; but they did.

And now I've stopped thinking about them as God's creatures who should be spared if possible. I want them dead. I can't put out poison because of the aforementioned dogs and cat and; I'm not agile and quick enough to catch them myself and strangle their tiny little throats, so the real traps get set. You know. The kind with the spring arm. Though I want them dead this particular kind of trap sends shudders through me. Unhappily, I set some with peanut butter and some with cheese and you know what? I think mice can see the big spring arm and can tell it's a big trap, because we didn't catch even one. We moved those traps around thinking it was a matter of placement; but no dice, no mice.

Our last ditch effort seemed to have worked though: the glue traps. Using my reconnaissance, I knew their trails, so we set the traps up in their pathways. I won't tell you what we did with the captured mice except to say it was very Abu-Graibish.

And now they're back. Ten years and three-thousand miles away and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. And there's the mouse droppings. While not the hordes I encountered before, it's still a nasty bit of business.

I'm naming this one al-Zawahairi.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Love Note from Mark Twain to His Wife

Love Note from Mark Twain to His Wife

Hartford, Nov, 27/88.

Livy Darling, I am grateful --- grate-
fuler than ever before --- that you were
born, & that your love is mine & our two
lives woven & welded together!

S L C.

Monday, September 12, 2011

BBAW: Community

This is basically going to be a big THANK YOU to some the bloggers who have inspired me, influenced me, helped me and continue to inform me:

The Bloggers Who Inspired Me:
For many years I kept a book journal. It started out as a list of books that I wanted to read in a series or; the titles of books in an author's oeuvre. The lists eventually evolved into a word doc journal running over a hundred pages long, containing everything from my thoughts on a a title, a related movie, photos, recipes, charts... I was encouraged by Ann Kingman at Books on the Nightstand to try and migrate the entries online. I approached a couple technical savvy people who looked the material over and said the easiest thing to do would be to just start blogging. My original vision of having an interactive web-site was replaced with the more pragmatic goal of simply blogging. Rebecca Schinksy (BookLadysBlog) was very supportive from the first days of my appearance on twitter by offering to have me post audiobook reviews on her site and, then cheerleading me in the early days of blogging. I would also me remiss if I didn't mention Jason G (Brain Candy Book Reviews) for being one of my earliest online friends and champions.

The Bloggers Who Have Influenced Me:
In the beginning, I was not aware of the number of audiobook bloggers out there, so I was visiting and/or following a lot of print book bloggers. I didn't comment very often so much as I caught a feel for the way bloggers' relationships worked with publishers and, how book were promoted and trended. Combining that with what I knew/experienced in the publishing industry opened a whole new dimension to the concept of blogging and put a new square in my mental flow cart of the publishing industry as a whole. Social media, especially the twitter platform, became a bigger factor in my approach as well. Books on the Nightstand, BookLadysBlog and S. Krishna's Books were and still are influential blogs in my google reader.

The Bloggers Who Have Helped Me:
Sometimes it's a technical question, sometimes it's help facilitating an idea or a meme, sometimes it's a general question and, sometimes it's even "just" moral support. I could spend hours and spill a lot of ink for each of the bloggers who have made me feel welcome in the blogging community. These are just a few:

Jennifer C. (literatehousewife): From twitter convos about The Thousand Autumns of Jacob deZoet to creating the Bond Girls Posse (Shaken, NotStirred) to convos about our kids and, being Good Little Catholic Girls, Jennifer C. has been simply great. Cannot stress that last word enough.

Jennifer K. (DevourerofBooks): A print book blogger who always has a project or two going with Nicole B. (Linus's Blanket) also regularly features and promotes audiobooks (Audiobook Week, Sound Bytes.) Her professional approach and amazing ability to wring 50 hours of work out of a twenty-four hour day is impressive.

Jennifer L. (Jenn's Bookshelves): A print book blogger who promotes indie Bookstores (#indieThursday) and regularly features audiobook reviews, Jennifer L. has a upcoming feature for the month of October that I find pretty exciting: Murder, Monsters, Mayhem (#MX3.) Features like this (see also DevourerofBook's Audiobook Week and Sheila at Book Journey's Where Are You Reading? Challenge) force me to step up as a blogger. I like that.

Candace L. (BethFishReads): A professional editor who also blogs about books and audiobooks, Candace L. also runs an imprint awareness feature, Weekend Cooking feature and the What's in a Name? Challenge too. Also, don't get her started about mid-century feminism :-)

The Bloggers Who Continue to Inform Me:
In the past few months, the audiobook blogging community has been becoming more sharply into focus for me. Part of the awareness is a result of my job whose many disparate responsibilities includes sending out review copies from the-company-I work-for to various listener advisory services, bloggers included. I've been introduced to some great audiobook blogs/blogs that feature audiobooks, including, but not not limited to, John and Maggie True ( and Bob Reiss ( Their love of audiobooks, thoughfulness and honesty in reviewing are obvious. I love it when they recommend a Blackstone Audio back to me, but no less when they aren't so happy with a title I've sent them or; when the raves are for another audiobook publisher's title(s). Some seriously good stuff :-)

I am truly grateful to all the bloggers out there who take the time to write a thought or two about the books they love (or hate) and promote wordsmithing as a whole. As I continue to try and find my blogging voice, their intelligence and passion for the published word continues to humble and amaze me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jitters: A Quirky Little Audio Book

Jitters: A Quirky Little Audio Book
by Adele Park
performed by Adele Park, Susan Paige Lane, Paige Allred, Kristen Henley, Desiree Whitehead, Garry Morris, John Gibson, Steve Coppola, Chrystine Hyatt, Dave Cochran, Chase Nichter, Tim Porter, Doug Caputo, Rick Pickett and, Guy Smith
Straight to Audio Productions
6.5 hours

"When Radio and polygamy collide..."

I will be the first to admit openly that, as I was live-tweeting the results of the Audies, I was extremely bemused when Jitters was announced as the winner in the Multi-Voiced Performance category. I had no dog in this fight and I had only listened to one title in this category (The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde; performed by a full cast from L.A. Theater Works, starring James Marsters;) but Jitters was up against not only "Ernest;" but the high profile title, Room (by Emma Donoghue; narrated by Michal Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff and, Suzanne Toren,) Great Classics of Science Fiction (by H.G. Wells, Stanley G. Weinbaum, Lester Del Ray, et al; narrated by Simon Vance, Nick Sullivan, Robert Fass, et al) and The Shadow Effect (written and narrated by Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and, Debbie Ford.) Big titles, well-known authors and veteran narrators were superseded by an unknown quantity. Adele Park reached out to bloggers this summer and I, eager to hear the David that slew its Goliath competition at the Audies, readily accepted a review copy for consideration.

The story itself is funny, clever and full of surprises. Set in the fictional small towns of Navel and Zion Flats, Utah, shock jock Nancy Neptune arrives to shake things up in the small Mormon community. Nancy has been exiled to a remote, risk-adverse radio station to be its program director and, dj the morning drive. (So, right off the first joke is on the listener as this isn't a radio drama; but a drama about radio!) The story of Nancy Neptune's impact on the community is told from several characters' points of view, each of the twenty-two chapters dedicated to a voice to advance the story. The format is such that each testimony is preceded by a radio news spot which also provides a tell as to the action off-camera. Nancy's presence is a lightning rod for events that have unanticipated results and, for a slew of eccentric characters including (but not limited to): an obese, divorced woman, a drag queen, a one-armed argro reporter/erstwhile detective and, a mentally challenged, inbred Yeti-like man who likes to sing along to Cheap Trick songs... While the easy laughs lie in the obvious idiosyncrasies of the characters, in the physical humor of their mere existence, the surprises come as the complexity of their characters is revealed.

There are eight key characters and, a number of smaller roles and bits, all performed by the voice-over talent that Adele Park has assembled. Exaggerated accents/mannerisms provide each character with a distinctive and appropriate voice. Because the setting and premise of Jitters is predicated on the radio theme, the production quality also adheres to the same clear, perhaps over-articulated, sound. [If I quibble here, it's only because there are reasons I don't listen to radio anymore and, one of them is that I find radio very harsh on the ears.]

There is absolutely no subtlety here. The precociousness of the writing and of the performances can wear a bit thin; but it is certainly original in all regards.

Other Stuff: This book qualifies for the What's in Name? Challenge #4 hosted at BethFishreads. Jitters: A Quirky Little Audio Book is an audiobook with [size] in the title, "Little."

This book also qualifies for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey. Jitters: A Quirky Little Audio Book is set in the fictional towns of Navel and Zion Flats, Utah.

View dogearedcopy map 2011 in a larger map

Wordless Wednesday: Swings

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Thank You Economy

The Thank You Economy
written and narrated by Gary Vaynerchuk
5.6 hours

If you are a small business, a larger business or, a major corporation, this is the social media bible for you and every single person in your employ. Whereas Crush It! is the bible for individuals with the entrepreneurial spirit seeking to implement social media, The Thank You Economy is the guidebook for companies that need to be using social media correctly. The book defines the new rules of engagement when it come to establishing and maintaining relationships with customers via social media platforms; counters arguments against using social media in and for the workplace; makes general recommendations about incorporating social media into your company and; provides examples of how this works for different kinds of businesses. The core message of the book is that companies need to engage all of their customers in a personal and meaningful way that is made possible by the social media platforms that are now available. This book is absolutely invaluable for anyone who seeks to utilize social media in business and; also for any business that thinks that social media is irrelevant.

Gary Vaynerchuk's enthusiasm is as famous/infamous as it is infectious. He is brilliant but; for the uninitiated, his passion can be startling. In the middle of the audio, there is a certain amount of fatigue and; less extemporizing on the part of Gary Vaynerchuk that seems to settle in - all of which seems in contrast to his normal hyperactive style and makes for a certain uneven feel to the overall production. Regardless, only Gary Vaynerchuk can narrate this material because, in a way, it's very much his story, his memoir. Gary Vaynerchuk eats, sleeps and breathes this stuff and, needless to say practices what he preaches.

The clip below about the Morton's Steak bit that went viral is a perfect illustration of the principles outlined in The Thank You Economy. Ignore the lame graphics and editing. Seriously, the guy really should pay more attention to production quality. In his defense, Gary Vaynerchuk has perviously averred that message trumps media quality; however, poor production quality hurts the message. It's like sending a crippled runner with an urgent message :-/

Other Stuff: I received a digital dnload copy of The Thank You Economy upon request from Harper Audio, Inc.