Monday, June 16, 2008

The Areas of My Expertise (Audiobook)

The Areas of My Expertise (audiobook)
Released: 2006
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Obtained through: John Hodgman - The Areas of My Expertise - The Areas of My Expertise

Would you like an Audiobook in which 700 hobo names are read to you aloud? Then this might be for you. Wait, that's not all to this. Maybe that's misleading. Let me continue.

This is an audiobook of a book written by John Hodgman. Hodgman is known from his appearances on the Daily Show, NPR and "That PC Guy" from the Get a Mac Apple commercials. He also wrote a book, called The Areas of My Expertise, a bestselling book, now available at bargain prices almost everywhere.

Now, if you liked that now-inexpensive book then you will like the reasonably-priced audiobook even more. First, it's got John Hodgman reading most of the book, and his deadpan comic delivery adds a lot to the material, making it much funnier if you had read it yourself. More nasal.

Second, it's got John Coulton as straight man musical accompaniment on acoustic guitar. Nerds may know him as the guy who wrote that Portal song. Coulton's talents provide meat to sections, such as the section about the fifty states. In that, Hodgman reads factually inaccurate pieces about each state, and asks Coulton to play the song for each state, which is also inaccurate.

For example, the lyrics for the state song of Arizona:

"Airy Arizona, very airy, there's lots of air in Arizona."

There are many more examples of fine musical accompaniment, such as a Dungeons and Dragons theme, background music for the section about the Hobo wars, and a theme song for the entire audiobook itself.

The overall production of this audiobook is good. It's got the aforementioned reading of 700 hobo names which comes through your audio device as if it is being picked up on a ham radio and the information being relayed to you is coming to you from some pirate radio network. There's the descriptions of various snowballs read by Hodgman, presented with a dulcimer bells and the chorals of children playing behind him, making even snowballs called "The Gouger" come across as whimsical holiday fun.

I personally like the "Top Spots For Crabs" section, presented as if is if from a television food program. Here Hodgman gives an overly-enthused description of various fictional crab restaurants with upbeat guitar background music.

For those who have read the physical book itself, material in the audiobook covers a great portion of it, running at just about seven hours in length. The material ranges from the description of common short and long cons, to the tour of the Mall of America, to the reading of many charts.

I would recommend doing what you should do with most audiobooks and purchase them through digital methods rather than shifting around a pile of CDs, fumbling through them while driving cross-country, accidentally plowing into a cow outside of Redmond, Washington.

It's well worth the purchase.

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