Saturday, February 27, 2010

10 Phun and Phractious Phacts About Phoenix

Phoenix is my third adopted hometown after Alexandria, VA and Denver, CO. I have lived here, along with Martha, for thirteen years next month. I thought you might be interested to learn a little about the place, but if you aren’t just move on to another less-interesting blog.

1. Phoenix lies at the northern-most point of the Sonoran desert. The Aztecs called it the “Land of the Bone People.” Smart people, the Aztecs, except for Sunday morning church services. The desert does not have sand dunes ala Lawrence of Arabia; rather, it looks like this most of the time:

The exception is spring if there is adequate rain: it blooms with millions of wildflowers.

2. For the entirety of 2009, total rainfall for Phoenix was less than 4 inches. The population of the metropolitan area for the year 2008 was 4.3 million [Wikipedia], not counting illegal aliens [my guess]. Nevertheless, there are no water restrictions, except for golf courses. With thousands of swimming pools, year-round grass (bermuda in the summer, rye in the winter), and a metro-wide anal obsession for washing cars, the reservoirs and Lake Powell are at all-time lows. But nobody seems to give a shit.

3. I love the name of the airport: Sky Harbor. Unfortunately, the planes land and take-off just as they do anywhere else. It would be nice if it were a true Sky Harbor, just hovering over the tarmac and dropping rope ladders to load the peanut entrees, the tiny bottles of airplane helper, and passengers.

4. Palm trees are not indigenous to the desert and require care in the form of trimming. If one does not trim one’s palms, this is what happens:

Notice all the dead fronds above the firefighter. Cockroaches love to nest there. When tall palms are struck by lightening they have a tendency to explode, which in turn sets nearby houses on fire from the flaming fronds. But palm trees can be your friend if you are good to them in return.

5. Phoenix and its suburbs have a lot of pests. Not only do we have Jehovah’s Witnesses attempting to save us, but we also have a mess o’ Mormons.

6. Phoenix and its suburbs also have a lot of insects. Sometimes Martha isn’t too observant, as was the case when she happened to look at a cardboard box of files at work. Noticing that most of the files were little more than sawdust, she was told they’d been eaten by termites. “Good!” she said. “Now I won’t have to haul that heavy sucker upstairs to storage.” Insects can be your friend if you are good to them in return.

7. During the summer, which lasts about six months, the temperature gets a might toasty. But it’s a dry toast with little or no humidity—a boon for people with lung diseases. It's the pollution that kills.

8. Phoenix, like Texas and Florida, is a retirement haven for the elderly. In addition, we have a monied influx of snowbirds (or sunbirds, depending on your perspective), retirees from western Canada and the middle states of the U.S. Imagine, if you will, Ma & Pa Hayseed from Nowhere, Kansas piloting their Queen Mary on Wheels through a maze like this:

It isn't necessarily the fact of being elderly that causes daily chaos. The freeways are designed by sociopathic engineers with the strangest on- and off-ramps I've ever encountered. And this is the confluence of just two highways—you oughta stop by sometime and take a gander at the three stackers!

9. Residents of Phoenix are referred to as Phoenicians (the latter is called a "demonym," a new word for me). I, along with Martha, live in the suburb of Chandler, so I guess our demonyn is Chandlerite. In any event, try out this new word at the next high-brow party or low-brow tavern you attend. “Hey, babe, what’s your denonym?” will probably elicit a good poke in the eye with one of those sharp drink umbrellas.

10. To me, the best thing about Phoenix is the wildlife. Just south of the city is the Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation— and wild horses that roam as freely as they did thousands of years ago. Sometimes, they are quite close to the highway in the dry Gila River bed, every one a different size and color—but of course I never carry a camera. They are awesome.

Flicks of some of our other wildlife:

The Mediterranean gecko. We have two who live in the house to eat flies and crickets.

Hummingbirds, They are extremely territorial here because of a lack of nectar. Feisty little buggers, too: one used to dive bomb Martha and scare the hell out of her.

A road runner. Martha thought they were a figment of my Warner Brothers—cartoon—mind until she saw some on the Gila reservation. "Gee, they're really fast!" she exclaimed like it was front page news.


(click photo)

So there you have it, a peek at where on earth I live. If you have questions in your comments I will, with joy and glad tidings, attempt to answer them.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: This is Where I Leave You

This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper

Dutton Hardcover, 2009
ISBN 9780525951278
352 pages

Opening lines from Chapter 1:

Dad’s dead,” Wendy says off handedly, like it’s happened before, like it happens every day. It can be grating, this act of hers, to be utterly unfazed at all times, even in the face of tragedy. “He died two hours ago.”

“How’s Mom doing?”

“She’s Mom, you know? She wanted to know how much to tip the coroner.”

Welcome, book fanatics, to the writing of Jonathan Tropper: both hilarious and touching, I found this book immensely readable. Tropper has a near-perfect ear for dialog, and he uses profanity, graphic sex, and a touch of scatology to round out his marvelous talent.

If Wendy sounds insensitive in the opening quote, she isn’t. Talking to her brother Judd, their father’s death was imminent and expected. Wendy does have a bomb to drop, however. Dad was an aetheist, but his dying wish was for his family to sit shiva—the Jewish equivalent of an Irish wake minus the booze.

To use the term dysfunctional for the Foxman clan would be an overused cliché; the family doesn’t function at all, dys or otherwise. But family they are, and they reluctantly agree to sit shiva for seven days.

Mom is Hillary Foxman, age 63, a woman with exceptional double-D implants and skirts that barely cover her bits in the low shiva chairs. There are three sons—Paul, Judd, and Phillip—and a lone daughter, Wendy. Add mates, girlfriends, a constant influx of mourners, and the stage is set for an outrageous farce.

Except that This is Where I Leave You is not at all farcical. Judd, the middle brother, is the narrator throughout the book. Just a few weeks before his father’s death, Judd found his boss having sex with his wife. A wife he adored. Homeless, jobless, wifeless, and now fatherless, Judd is a man lost. This is Tropper’s real genius: mixing poignant and emotional back story with the present.

Because the narrator is male, Tropper concentrates on the three brothers and their relationship with each other. To me, they were little more than boys walking around in adult bodies: anger, resentments, shouting matches, and several bouts of fisticuffs ultimately led to the question, “What the hell has happened to us?”

Peter at Kyushi Reader suggests there is a new fiction genre called “lad lit.” He cites both Tropper and Nick Hornby in this category, and I tend to agree with him. Men do have emotions, they do fall in love, and they do stick around after the honeymoon is over. I read a lot of me in this book, which is probably why I liked it so much: I could relate.

Nevertheless, ladies, don’t pass this book up because of a label. It’s great.

[Thanks to Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea for recommending this book!]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

O Canada

“O Canada” is a beautiful national anthem. It isn’t that I dislike “The Star-Spangled Banner”—I just don’t have the opera diva’s voice to sing it.

I have some connection to Canada, but not genetically. I grew up on the south shore of Lake Ontario in New York State, roughly across from Toronto. Whenever the Arctic winds were blowing (wailing) south, I got Canada on me and in my lungs if my mouth and nose weren't covered properly. I think I swallowed a Canadian chewing gum wrapper one time and nearly choked to death.

Have you ever noticed that the border on most maps between Canada and the U.S. is a white dotted line? It used to be that Mexicans had to swim across the Rio Grande River to enter the U.S. illegally; all Canadians have ever had to do is step over the white line. It must have been a bitch painting all those lines, especially across the Great Lakes.

Shit. Three paragraphs already and I haven’t gotten to the point of this post. I must be in an especially digressive mood today. I guess I can scratch Twittering, as usual.

Okay, drum roll please, and plenty of applause from the studio audience. I am thrilled to introduce my latest Canadian blog friend, Ponita in Real Life. She lives in Winnipeg (Manitoba, for the geographically challenged), is an overworked nurse (is there any other kind?), walks her beautiful dog Zoë when it’s -20C (-4F), and is a very good writer (the link to her site is one of her creative pieces).

And wait until you get a load of her mastHEAD.

This is the perfect time to re-introduce my other Canucklian friends. Or Canuckleheads, as Ponita mentioned in a comment. Listed in chronological blog time is

Stinkypaw, Montreal, Quebec

Wandering Coyote, Rossland, British Columbia

Barbara Bruederlin, a/k/a Zombie, Calgary, Alberta

Tui, a/k/a Tiffin, North Cowpat, Ontario (Tui doesn't blog, but she's a super-intelligent commenter.)

I could say that I’m humbled to have you ladies as friends, but that would be a lie because I’m not at all humble. All of you, however, have made my life richer, and that is a priceless gift to me.

[HAH! All you people thought this was a post about the Olympics, didn't you.]

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Coming Distraction: Sean Hannity

NOTE: This is NOT a political rant because I don't do political rants.

Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama's Radical Agenda, Sean Hannity

Harper Paperbacks, 2010
ISBN 9780062003058
256 pages

Release date: March 30, 2010

From's Product Description:

"Barack Obama and his radical team of self-professed socialists, fringe activists, and others are trying to remake the American way of life. They have used their new Democratic majority to launch an alarming assault on our capitalist system—while abandoning the war on terror, undermining our national security, and weakening our position in the eyes of our enemies. The "candidate of change" is threat- ening to change our country irreparably, and for the worse—if we don't act to stop him now."
* * * * *

Sean Hannity, for all of you non-Americans, is the host of a daily radio call-in show and a nightly TV program on the Fox Network. Like others of his ilk* he is a Master of Shitting Bull. After reading the blurb from Amazon, any thinking person will know he is fucking nuts. And therein lays my problem.

Thinking people pay no attention to him, but the sorry fact is that idiots outnumber thinkers by 100 to 1. And millions of idiots believe his trash: “If it’s on radio and TV then it must be true!”

Worse, I truly believe that hate-mongers like Hannity are partly (if not more) responsible for the incredible political divisiveness in America today.

A personal example:

I had a friend whom I respected, a fellow who served with the Marines in Vietnam before the public even knew about Vietnam, followed by a long career as a policeman. When he retired, he got into Internet groups that espouse Hannity’s “journalism.” He began sending me forwards of forwards of emails, assuming I belonged to the idiot faction. The last one I received a week ago was something about Obama no longer allowing troops to pray before they go into battle. Wazzat?

I lost a long-time friend because I refuse to comment on undocumented and unproven allegations by slick, fast- talking assholes.

Hannity has a right to free speech and I would never impinge upon that freedom. His radio producers defend him by saying his show “is for entertainment purposes only.” It’s all shtick, folks, but the believers will never believe it.

* Others of his ilk:
Rush Limbaugh
Anne Coulter
Bill O'Reilly (also on Fox)
Glenn Beck
Michael Savage
Local radio "hosts"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Movie Memories

Someone famous once said, “The sincerest form of flattery is thievery.”

I have a sneaking suspicion that my quote may be incorrect, but it sounds okay to me: I thieved Savannah’s idea and her time-trip back to some of her favorite movie music.

Maybe we should make this a meme and I won’t feel like such a scoundrel.

This clip is from The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) and Michelle Pfeiffer does her own singing. One wag on YouTube commented, “I didn’t know you could make love to a piano.”

I’m not ashamed to admit that Grease (1978) is one of my all-time favorite movies. Stockard Channing, at 33, played Betty Rizzo (Rizz), the girl “with a reputation.” A pro from Broadway, she does her own singing of this bittersweet song.

Yup, that’s Johnny Depp in Cry-Baby (1990), a film by John Waters that is a cross between Grease and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The girl is Amy Locane. I have no idea if they did their own singing or lip-synced, but I love the bluesy song nevertheless.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Review: Under the Dome

Under the Dome, Stephen King

Scribner Hardcover, 2009
ISBN: 9781439148501
1,088 pages

In 1978, King wrote the 823-page The Stand, an epic tale of Good versus Evil. Jump ahead thirty- one years to 2009. Feed Steve a large helping of mental methamphetamine, and the result is Under the Dome, an epic tale of Good versus Evil where, for 1,073 pages, the action never stops.

Other than the theme, The Stand and Under the Dome have little in common. The former was post-apocalyptic, while the latter takes place in the now. In the former, King was still honing his writing skills (he re-worked it in 1990); in the latter, he pulls out his full bag of tricks and uses them profusely. Steve has ramped up the profanity, the gore, and he almost writes his first-ever coitus scene—backing off to the usual authorly cliche, “Afterwards . . .”

The story takes place in Chester’s Mill, a picture-postcard town of 2,000 in where-else-but-Maine. On a lovely autumn morning, an inexplicable and impenetrable dome literally falls over the town, effectively cutting it off from the rest of the world. The dome is transparent and a curiosity to the residents—until, that is, they witness the carnage wrought on the humans and wildlife attempting to enter town from the other side. Fear sets in quickly. Is it aliens? Is it a secret sect of sick scientists? Even worse (and the most night- marish), is it a government experiment?

It might be all or none of these things, but the dome has effectively set up Chester’s Mill as a captive laboratory for observing human nature. Let the games begin, the Great Battle of Good versus Evil.

Since this huge book takes place over just seven days, the action is frenetic. With the dome as catalyst, the bad guys use it to their advantage to take control of the town; the good guys, meanwhile, have to stop a takeover from hap- pening and solve the dome problem as well. At any point in the book there are a dozen things going on, going wrong, or in the midst of going. Add King’s frequent foreshadowing of dire events yet to come and the reader is hard-pressed to get off the rollercoaster.

Unlike many reviewers on Amazon and elsewhere, I refuse to write anything specific about the dome or the characters. Under the Dome should be as fresh and surprising to you as it was to me. I can make some general comments, however.

Is this classic Stephen King? For the most part, yes. He writes to entertain, and Dome is pure entertainment. As always, his characterizations are superb. For fun, he drops in references to Seventies and Eighties culture and some of his other books, many of which younger readers will miss. What is not classic is his over-the-top gore factor and his use of book-as-soapbox: he takes several swipes at Bush, Palin, and whoever else angers him at the moment. For those so inclined, be warned that he treats Christianity very badly throughout the book.

I liked this book and give it a thumbs up. I recommend it to diehard King fans only; it is definitely not a Stephen King primer.

[Please remember that this review is my opinion only—your results may vary.]

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Useful Tip

No silliness this time, blog friends. Here is a tip many of you may not know about yet and it is quite useful.

Since February 5, Blogger now does pages like WordPress, minus the tabs. If you look above this post, you will see the pages I have set up in blue. Click on “Currently Reading” and you will see a page that shows what I’m, er, reading currently. Click on “Home” and it will bring you right back here.

You will find “Edit Pages” on the Posting tab, the same place you go to do a new post. They are easy to set up, you can have ten of them, and they are great for cleaning up a crowded sidebar. Ideas for a page:

“About”—you can write your entire life story.

“100 Things About Me”—for those who have done this meme.

“Favorite Posts”—either yours or the readers, or both, with a link to each post.

Book bloggers especially should find many uses for pages (not a pun).

This tip is brought to you by . . .

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Tip for Mom


Save ½ the water and ½ the soap!

Think about it, moms. Why separate the child from his clothes, wash the clothes in one tub, and wash the child in yet another tub? Stupid, isn't it.

Well here's your answer. Just hose the kid down, rub a little soap on him, and hang him on the clothesline to dry! No more expensive electric bills to run the dryer, and no need to spend scarce money on big fluffy bath towels. Best of all, you won't have to fight the little troll to take a bath, which is common among the male of the species.

If you're Catholic or Mormon with an average of 8.6 kids, this tip will save you—and Earth—a BUNDLE.

This tip is brought to you by . . .

Saturday, February 06, 2010


My friend Mapstew in Eire has three daughters. The eldest is Kate, who is a singer like her dad. And she writes songs, and poems, and short stories, and a blog. Phew. It is one of her poems that inspired this post and, unless you read it first, the rest of my blather will not make much sense: The Telephone.

I have never been one much for poetry, but Kate's instantly hit a chord with me: a memory came flooding back in full force, a memory hidden in some dark recess just waiting patiently for me to remember it.

* * * * *

She was my First Great Love, my first real love that did not have the word puppy for a prefix. The first time I saw her, she was standing at the top of the stairs handing out welcome packages to us incoming college freshmen. I stopped in the stairwell and just stared at her, causing a chain-reaction collision of human bodies behind me. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, and I was in stomach-churning, light-headed love.

I looked and looked for her in vain, until one night when I was tending bar at a neighborhood tavern. I was busy serving both the customers and myself when three people came in and sat down at the quiet end of the bar. I knew the two adults, but she was with them. She was their daughter. I stopped being busy, and I stared at her. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, and I was in stomach-churning, light-headed love all over again.

I asked for her ID so I would know her name and age. I was in a jocular mood thanks to a beer here and there, and it was with beery courage that I asked her to go out with me. She said yes, and for the first time I heard her full, throaty laugh.

The telephone. I remember it like it was yesterday, and how I wanted to reach through the wire and touch her hair, to touch her face, to hold her hand, to hold her in my arms. She was, after all, my First Great Love.

I think Charles Aznavour, in one of my all-time favorite songs, can sing about her better than I can write.

[Thank you, Kate, for publishing your poem, and to you, Map, for making me aware of it.]

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Sherlock Calhoun

After my tour of duty overseas, I still owed the Army a year of subservience. I was a cryptographer (a code guy) by training, so I was a assigned to the motor pool (Do NOT question military logic because it can't be done). This is one of my scribblings and a bit long, but the story is true—except for some embellishment of the dialog in Part One.

* * * * *


“Hey Calhoun, c’mere.”



“Are you yelling at me, Sarge?”

“Do you see any other chucklehead standing around here doin’ nuthin’?”

“Nope, I sure don’t.”

“Then why do I always have to holler at you twice, Calhoun?”

“Because my name isn’t Calhoun. It’s Callahan. See, the nice lady sewed it right here on my shirt in big black letters: Capital C, small ‘allahan’.”

“Listen here, Calhoun, I ain’t got time to pick nits with you all day. The company’s goin’ on maneuvers tomorrow and I’m short a driver. You know how to drive one a these big rigs?”

“Nope, I sure don’t.”

“Well you do now ’cause you just volunteered. Hop up there in the cab and I’ll teach you ever’thing you need to know.”

“Boy, it’s really high up here, Sarge! And look at this big-assed steering wheel! Vroom, vroom, VROOOOM!”

“Quit actin’ like a peckerhead and listen up, Calhoun, ’cause this is important. See that gauge there says ‘pressure’ on it? If the needle’s in the red zone you can’t go nowheres ’cause the air brakes won’t work. Got that?”

“Yeah, yeah, where’s the radio in this thing?”

“This is a U.S. Army vehicle, boy; it ain’t got a radio. Now about them brakes. You hafta wait ’til the needle’s in the black part ’fore you go somewheres. Got that?”

“Yeah, yeah, where’s the seat belt?”

“I tole you this is a U.S. Army vehicle, boy; it ain’t got safety equipment. Just grab onta your pecker and hold on tight. Now listen up, Calhoun. There’s a hole in the back a the truck where the air hose from the trailer goes. If you ain’t haulin’ a trailer then you gotta make sure the plug is in the hole, elst all the air will leak out and you won’t get no pressure for your brakes. Got that?”

“Yeah, yeah, where the hell’s the ashtray?”


I push in the clutch, turn the key, give it some gas, listen to the engine go “vroom, vroom, VROOOOM”, put the gear- shift in first, let up on the clutch, give it some more gas, and off I lurch at one mile per hour. Man, is this ever neat! I feel just like a real trucker, except I don’t have a radio to say shit like, “What’s your 10-20, good buddy?”

I take a right out of the motor pool, grind through second and third gear, and I’m zooming right along at thirty in no time. So far so good, but something’s bothering me—not to mention a buzzing sound that hasn’t shut the fuck up for two seconds. I have a funny feeling that I’m forgetting something I was supposed to remember, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it is because I completely forgot what it was in the first place.

Oh well, maybe it’ll come to me when I pull up at the stoplight ahead and I have a minute to think.

There is a lot of cross traffic at the intersection so I step gently on the brake pedal to slow down. Huh. That’s odd. No response. Typical Army bullshit, issuing me a truck with a faulty brake pedal. I apply a stronger gentleness, but still nothing happens.

And then it suddenly dawns on me as I remember what I forgot to remember. The air pressure gauge! The needle is in the red! Not only that, it’s pointing at ‘zero’! I forgot all about the hole in the back a the truck! So that’s the buzzing I’ve been hearing all day! Ah HAH! Mystery solved!

But Sherlock Calhoun still has a very large problem. I’m trying everything I know to slow this beast down, which is exactly zilch. I’m crying, but that doesn’t help, and I want my mommy, but that doesn’t help, and I grab my pecker and hold on good an’ tight, but all that does is make me good and horny. THE HORN! I lean on the horn to warn everyone, except it doesn’t work because, like every air horn ever made, it needs . . . air.

And that’s something I’m really, really, really short of right now.

“HONK! HONK! RUNAWAY TRUCK! FUCKING HONK!” I scream out the window as I roll slowly through the intersection. Luckily, there’s no one around to hear me because the window is closed and all I’m doing is screaming my lungs out at a piece of glass. It’s a good thing I didn’t throw my cigarette butt out of the closed window: not only would I have been airless, but I would have had a forest fire in my ear hair to contend with too.

The truck finally rolls to a stop, everybody is safe, and I have a huge lump in my throat. Great. One tragedy just barely averted and now this: I have an inoperable throat tumor. What the hell else can go wrong today? But that’s just my usual hysteria talking after a barely-averted tragedy.

Geeze, talk about overreacting and getting myself all worked up over nothing. I mean, I can understand a few nerves if I was test-driving a jet fighter or an aircraft carrier . . .

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Review: UR

UR, Stephen King

Storyville, LLC, Kindle edition, 2009
Unknown number of pages

How utterly prescient of me to find this piece of crap just a few days after I reviewed the Kindle! (See A Bibliophiliac and His Kindle if you give a rat’s patootie.) Hawked by as a novelette that will not be included in any print collection, I think it is a fine idea now that I have read it.

I fell for the hype because I am just as curious as any other idiot is, and I parted with $2.99 of Martha’s hard-earned money to download it—a perfectly good waste of 3 bucks, as it turns out.

I have been a fan of King since he published Carrie in 1974. The man who wrote The Stand (the original version) and the incredible Sci-Fi-fantasy-horror epic The Dark Tower has become, I am sorry to say, a story whore. He has long been a book cover blurb whore, but UR really takes the Kindle.

Which brings me to the story about a Kindle (nice segue, Charlie) and its owner, Wesley Smith. Wes is a Professor of English at a small college and, during a lecture, he spots a student fiddling around with a Pong game machine. When Wes confronts the student, the kid shows the Prof a Kindle! After class, the suck-up student extols all the features and virtues of his new e-reader.

Thus begins a “story” that is a blatant advertisement for the Kindle. I recognized much of the wording directly from Amazon’s hype shop: size, portability, wireless download-ing—even battery life, which, like, I could care less about, like, you know? What I do care about is I spent three dollars for an advertisement! According to P.T. Barnum, I am one of those suckers he was so fond of . . .

There is a Kingish-type story weaved through the hype when Wesley receives a pink Kindle from the UPS guy. Weird, man. Pink. Bad juju, pink. The books Wes downloads are from parallel universes (ala The Dark Tower) by authors like Shakespeare and Poe—except they are books unknown in our universe. Smith becomes addicted to these new books, especially an unknown Nancy Drew (I’m kidding), but then things take a turn for the worse in our own universe.

Suddenly, Pinkie is showing Wes newspapers from the future—or future newspapers—whatever. One is the local rag, dated two days hence. **SPOILERS** Wes is aghast at the headline because the college’s women’s basketball team and their coach, Wes’s girlfriend, are all killed when a drunken driver plows into the bus carrying the team home from a tournament. With two days notice, Wes vows to stop the event from happening, and he does!

Life is good for Wes—until the men in yellow raincoats (ala Hearts in Atlantis) show up and give him a mere tongue-lashing for changing the future. C’mon, Steve—every durn fool knows that past and future history cannot be fooked with. How many of those females will produce generations of people who are not in the Master Scheme of Stuff? What then? Huh? **END OF SPOILAGE**.

To the astute reader of this review, I am somewhat biased and non-objective. Where I differ from many book reviewers is I call ‘em as I see ‘em; a piece of advertising trash deserves a fair and honest trashing.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: For those who are Kindleless, UR will be available February 16, 2010 as a Simon & Schuster audio CD. For $10.11 US. Jeff Bezos, my friend, you must have a pair that you trip over when you are unclothed.