And then, “BOO!”

Virginia Linn at the PG has an article about what you can do to pass the time as you sit in “Detour Hell” for the rest of your days on this Earth until you are freed by the sweet release of death and angels then carry you to heaven where the only orange cone you’ll ever see will be orange sorbet that tastes like rainbows and is spoon-fed to you by David Conrad (assuming he’s in his own personal hell).

Virginia’s suggestions include satellite radio, learning a new language and books on CD.

One of her suggestions?

This also could be a time to catch up on the classics. The Unabridged version of Homer’s “The Odyssey” includes 11 CDs and runs for 12 1/2 hours.

Twelve and a half hours of Homer? When drivers start accidentally launching their cars off of bridges because they fell asleep at the wheel, we’ll all know who to blame.

Virginia Linn.

I’m not knocking The Odyssey. It’s a great read. But you’ve really got to sit down and read that shit. Usually the same couple of paragraphs over and over to keep all of those names straight, and even then, you might want to have the Cliff’s Notes handy. Not the best CD for getting you through Oakland.

I mean:

She went upstairs and got the store room key, which was made of bronze and had a handle of ivory; she then went with her maidens into the store room at the end of the house, where her husband’s treasures of gold, bronze, and wrought iron were kept, and where was also his bow, and the quiver full of deadly arrows that had been given him by a friend whom he had met in Lacedaemon- Iphitus the son of Eurytus.

During my days of college in Texas, my sisters and I would drive from Pittsburgh to Texas several times a year and do it in less than 18 hours. We were able to accomplish this through several practices.

1. You eat, pee, and fuel up the car all in one stop. There is no such thing as a bathroom break and if you have to pee in between an “eat, pee, fuel” stop, you’re pretty much screwed. I have a sister that had to hold it one time from Cincinnati, Ohio all the way to Bucksnort, Tennessee. I think she may have cried a little. She was 21 at the time.

2. You listen to books on CD! Once, three of us were driving late at night somewhere in the middle of Hell, or you might know it by its other name — Arkansas, so engrossed in Dean Koontz’s Icebound that we would not have noticed a tornado sitting on the hood of our car much less a little traffic jam/detour.

At one point, during a super tense moment in the book, The Voice made a reveal that was the equivalent of him whispering “boo,” and we actually screamed.

So the point of this post in which I’ve suddenly veered into Julie Gong‘s awesome rambling territory is two-fold:

1. Pittsburgh traffic sucks.

2. Books on CD rock.  Except Homer.

There you go.


  1. Evil Twin
    January 9, 2008 9:18 am

    Eat, pee, fuel up…isn’t that what everyone does!!!!

  2. Schultz
    January 9, 2008 9:19 am

    “It’s a great read. But you’ve really got to sit down and read that shit. ”

    I beg to differ, my dear. Homer was meant to be heard, not read, and heard in poetic form, not the trite prose you posted.

    It was also meant to be heard in Greek, but I won’t be that picky.

  3. Bram R
    January 9, 2008 9:42 am

    I love hearing the classics of CAS English on audiobook! To me it helps you scoot past all the imposing verbiage, and you can just let the gist and the impressions flow over you. I remember Voltaire’s Candide was hysterical on audiobook, and I remember a long cartrip to and from Providence, RI that took exactly as long as 1984.

  4. pittgirl
    January 9, 2008 9:56 am


  5. Michael
    January 9, 2008 11:01 am

    Haven’t tried classics, but definitely have listened to many books I probably wouldn’t have picked up off the shelf to read. Helps the travel across the desert that is Ohio.

  6. Mr. Wind-up Bird
    January 9, 2008 11:24 am

    Internet Archive ( has a pretty extensive collection of open source audiobooks that are worth browsing. Because it is a volunteer project some books are ruined by a lousy reader, but there are some gems. I suggest the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” read by Mark Smith.

    I downloaded “Ulysses” hoping, like Shultz says, that it would be better heard than read. The group that read it decided to experiment a little and made the recording in a busy bar to add environment. Unfortunately, half of them apparently didn’t bother to read the book in advance, so they stumble through and repeat sentences. Some of the recording is barely audible because of the background noise. It’s one of those ideas that sounds better than it actually is.

  7. Dee
    January 9, 2008 11:51 am

    Eat, Pee, Fuel, the only way to travel!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Adam
    January 9, 2008 2:58 pm

    Books on CD do rock. Once I had to read a book for a class during my undergrad. and the store was out of the printed copies so I bought the CD. So while sitting in Miami traffic,I was able to finish the book for my class.

  9. Dawn
    January 9, 2008 3:24 pm

    When I would travel around the country to teach reading (ironically) to kids in the summer, I’d listen to audio books on CD in the car. I was studying for the English Lit GRE at the time and there were a number of books on the insane reading list that I hadn’t read and I wouldn’t have time to sit down and read, so I did it with the unabridged audio books.

    If you haven’t read War and Peace and you want to, it’s definately worth listening to (only 11 hours!).

    Just be careful… If you’re anything like me, you can zone out and realize three exits late that you missed your turn!

  10. NoSide15212
    January 9, 2008 6:03 pm

    I’d add any foreign language audio program to the list of impossible to concentrate/learn while driving. And throw Hawking’s “The Universe in a Nutshell” on to the pile of “looking for a bridge abutment to drive in to” audiobooks. On the other hand, highly recommend “Don’t Know Much About History.”

  11. zarum
    January 9, 2008 6:07 pm

    Fiddle de de on reading “The Odyssey”. Watch “Oh Brother Where Art Thou”, instead. You’ll get the gist of it.

  12. Still A Fan
    January 9, 2008 6:09 pm

    i listen to two things in the car:

    howard stern and/or kevin smith’s SModcast

    ……..or Air Supply

  13. NoChasingiguans
    January 9, 2008 6:26 pm

    I had to read Moby Dick for class. I realized that this would severly and negatively impact the amount of time I could spend playing Spider Solitare, so I got it on CD. 18 discs, and 20 hours of Spider Solitare…

  14. MountaineerHoo
    January 9, 2008 8:16 pm

    The best thing to have in the car is a stockpile of This American Life podcasts. You can be so caught up the wonderfully-told stories (and the hilarity that is David Sedaris) that you forget about hellish traffic in Detour Hell or Charlottesville. I highly recommend it!

  15. heather
    January 9, 2008 9:00 pm

    May I suggest a few audiobooks for your enjoyment…
    The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Neffen!@#@!??
    The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (read by the weird guy from Love Actually)

  16. Aeran
    January 10, 2008 1:43 am

    I second the This American Life recommendation. Those podcasts are so good, they even make jogging enjoyable.