A Twist Of Fate
June, 2007 Entries
As seen in Huh? Sports? Illustrated magazine and The Price Is Right Episode B7F8

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(06/30/07 - 10:32 PM)
I went to buy paint at a store yesterday that rhymes with "Rome Repo", only to find that the paint I wanted was available in 2- and 5-gallon containers. The deal was, that the 2-gallon containers were on sale. As I required ten gallons, I would save $34.00 if I bought it in 2-gallon increments.

"Great!", I told the guy. "Sign me up."

There was just one problem, he went on. They had just spilled a 2-gallon container and it would require cleanup that might take a while. Maybe 5-gallons would be better after all. I told him that I had a few minutes, even though his partner had already begun mixing my 5-gallons anyway.

So I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. And then I went to look, and the cleanup had not yet even begun to happen in earnest. There was simply paint everywhere.

Again, I was asked if I was sure that I didn't just want the five gallon containers. What I was not asked was if they could get a Manager for me, to approve the 2-gallon price on the 5-gallons because of their inability to sell me what I required. I'm going back tomorrow to have it out with the Manager. For, you see - the sale is now over.

To me, this doesn't seem hard. Customer satisfaction should be paramount. What ever happened to that?

(06/25/07 - 10:32 PM)
I finished reading Michael Corbett's "Find It, Fix It, Flip It!". While informative on some levels, I disagree with a good deal of his advice. EXCEPT, that almost all of it is geared toward the high-end California markets - where it may be wholly relevant.

If you've only thought of flipping a house before, and you haven't watched every flip and cursory show on television yet, then this book is a good start to learning some tricks and tips that you might not otherwise know. If you've done the prior, however, I think that it can pretty much be foregone.

I have the top four Flip books in hand, and will move on to another today. I'll let you know how that one goes.

(06/25/07 - 10:32 PM)
I couldn't sleep the other night, so I went downstairs and turned on The Weather Channel (or should I say "Storm Stories" interspersed with the occasional weather report.)

On my screen, they were showing the results of heavy rains in Oklahoma, resulting in flooded roads. On said roads, they showed signs saying things like "Road Flooded" and "Do Not Drive On Flooded Road", etc.

Then the narrator mentions a woman who tried to drive on the road anyway, and had her car swept off by doing so. Oh! And then they interviewed her. It went something like this:

"I figgered I could make it, but there was just so much water. I had no idea that it would be that bad. It's just disappointing, because we was goin' to buy some fireworks. So I guess now that we won't have no fireworks for the Fourth."

I won't even rant. I won't tell you how many things are wrong with that statement. You're smart people.

(06/24/07 - 11:18 PM)
Few entries this week. When I wasn't lamenting my having to work for a living, I was trying to avoid a killing spree of some sort to vent my pent up frustration at the world in general (you just can't fix stupid.) I'm joking of course, but it's the only thing that keeps me sane.

Plenty of stuff happened this week, but bitching about the exact same things week in and week out tends to wear one down. Sooooo...

Short entries this week (if at all) and perhaps more next week if I'm not so lazy - and something funny or interesting happens.

(06/23/07 - 9:25 PM)
My brother and I went to my mother's house today to begin tackling her to-do list. We got a ton accomplished, including taking her good-but-no-longer-wanted items to Goodwill.

Two of these items were pristine bowling balls in cute little cases. We were unloading the truck, and taking the items inside when the surly manager guy says, "We don't take bowling balls."

"Oh", I replied, "I didn't know."

"It's right on the door", he retorts.

So, now I'm feeling a bit sheepish. To cover this, I use humor, "I guess I'm just not used to reading doors."

His reply? An extremely snide and condescending, "No, of course not."

Now, granted - I'm sure that a number of people use businesses such as this as their own personal dumping ground. But come on - do you have to be a dick to a guy who sincerely missed reading a sign on a door?

(06/22/07 - 11:21 PM)
It's tough to find a pop song that is so catchy that you simply cannot get the CD quickly enough.

Some past examples for me were:
"Worm Me Down" by Rachael Yamagata
"Another White Dash" by Butterfly Boucher
"Too Bad You" by The Megan Slankard Band

And now: "Suddenly I See" by K.T. Tunstall.

Apparently, my wife was familiar with the song. But I had not yet heard it. And it was fantastic.

Good power-pop is not dead - it's still alive. The problem seems to be that the great pop songs go unplayed, and the bland and inoffensive and overhyped crap is all that gets through.

Power-pop bands that you probably missed (but shouldn't have):
Fountains Of Wayne
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
Plus the good folks listed above.

(06/16/07 - 9:03 AM)
Recently, we were informed that Wisconsin Power & Light, nee, Alliant Energy would no longer be our provider for Gas and Electric service. (We miss you already, Alliant!) Instead, we would be served by Rock Energy Cooperative.

Within days, we received all sorts of warm and fuzzy newsletters, welcome letters, and magazines from said cooperative. This meant one thing to me: Any company wasting this much money to promote self-image has something to hide. I felt a shiver run up my spine.

I like to pay my bills in advance, so that I feel more financially encumbered than I actually am (I'm weird, so sue me), so I sent in my first payment to cover about 5-6 months of service.

I received one bill, then another, each showing credit balances. Life was good.

Then, I received today's bill. And the warm and gentle and fuzzy cooperative showed its darker side. Here is what the bill said:

Previous Balance: $282.44 CR
Amount Paid: $0.00
Balance Forward: $282.44
Current Electric Charges: $47.92
Current Gas Charges: $34.60
Total Amount Due By 07/02/2007: $199.92 CR

That cute little "CR" means credit balance, F.Y.I. for those of you just tuning in. All normal. But below all of this it went on:

This disconnect notice serves as a reminder to pay your past due bill of $ -282.44. Last day to pay to avoid disconnection is: 06/21/2007. No other information will be mailed. See back for additional information.

WTF? Then, it got even nicer - in big, bold, blue letters across the bottom it said:

** Past Due Balances Are Due Immediately **

Are these guys for real? Are they contacting the credit bureaus to notify them that I am now (apparently) two months "delinquent" with my CREDIT balances? Should I be demanding my money back from them faster? Is that what they're telling me here?

I can't wait to call these suckers on Monday (or, rather, I can because it's a major inconvenience that I should not have to suffer - I have done nothing wrong.) Thanks a pantload, Chet. Sorry for paying my bill in advance!

Can you imagine that you are the owner of a business, and that you accused your best customers of not only being deadbeats - but of making them go to the trouble to prove that they are, in fact, not? How long would they remain your customers?

But, hey - this is the power company. You're essentially a captive consumer. It's enough to almost make me vote Democratic next time around.

I almost hope that they DO turn my power and gas off. My brother Nick is a young and ambitious attorney - "Hey Nick! Wanna stick it to a large power cooperative?"

Whatever happened to just being a good, honest, citizen? When did that become a crime?

(06/15/07 - 10:37 PM)
June 15th was a double-entry sort of day.

This evening, I witnessed the end of an era.

The Price is Right is no more. What's even more ironic is that I change the header on my blog periodically (look at the top of this page) and this month I put in a TPIR joke. I swear to God, that was totally accidental. Maybe I'm psychic - I don't know.

Now, as a kid who spent more time at home than in school as a youngster (I was sick a ton), Bob Barker was something of an iconic figure in my life. I don't remember when I first watched TPIR, but I can say that I always remember liking it. On the surface, it's just a glorified commercial. But there's skill, luck, and showmanship that for decades made this humble game show into a television institution.

So, I turned on Bob's last hurrah tonight. And there, on the stage, was my old friend, Denise "Tweety" Williams (whose last name is probably something else now, as there was a new ring on her left hand.) What are the odds?

She was in the first showcase showdown and had already won a Corvette (I missed the first half.) I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Here was a lady I hadn't seen in the better part of ten years taking The Price is Right out with a bang. But she wasn't done yet - not by a longshot.

She not only won the first showdown - she also won a bonus $1,000. And then she won her showcase too - a Lincoln Navigator, a trip to Ireland, a Mediterranean cruise, and a fancy-pants grill.

For me, it made saying sayonara to Mr. Spay N' Neuter all the more personal. I still remember the day "Plinko!" was unveiled for the very first time in television history (again, I was home sick for that one.) I'll always remember the yodeling mountain climber guy, or the beyond-buxom, overly-rotund chick whose boob popped out of her top because she was too boisterous and too well endowed - all at the same time. I still remember the times when a geriatric woman would win some prize distinctly designed for a 20-year old, devil may care male - and Bob would jokingly ask them what in the world they were going to do with a Flameblaster Redneck-Express2000 Dune-Stomper Buggy because you just knew that no matter what they answered that it was bound to provide a good-natured giggle. And who could forget Rod Roddy saying those three magic words that contestants dreamt about and wet themselves over when spoken aloud by his commanding voice: "A new car!" Or trying to guess the current MSRP of Rice-A-Roni during any given year. And that the show was originally a Mark Goodson/Bill Toddman television production (whoever they were.) Whatever happened to them, anyway? Or the ladies who invariably went the entire show bidding one dollar, only to make it up on stage at the last possible chance. Good times, Bob. Good times.

My mom thinks you're creepy Bob - but I'll always remember the good times we had.

(06/15/07 - 9:17 PM)
Marijuana may be bad for you, but man - it sure can be funny. We have a pair of guys at work - Tom, the driver and Rocky, the saw operator. They're close friends - remember this.

Yesterday, Rocky's grandfather passed away. They were very close, and Rocky took it hard. I offered him my sincerest, heartfeldt condolances.

We like to get cards for the bereaved parties at work - little reminders that while we may all be different people, we're all still people on the same team. So, I sent my assistant out for one for him today. I had everyone who cared to sign it do so with their own personal thoughts and condolances, etc.

It made the rounds and was presented to Tom, the driver. Even though it was a religious, "sorry for your loss" type of card, and even though it had been signed with the thoughts and prayers of nearly all of Rocky's co-workers, and even though Tom knows Rocky better than anyone in the whole shop, that did not stop him from proceeding to sign:

"Happy Birthday!"
- Tom

When a co-worker pointed out this faux-pas, Tom hastily began scribbling out what he had written. But not before another co-worker saw what he was doing and joked, "What? Did you forget how to spell your name?"

I laughed for a solid two minutes. When I was done, I went out and asked Tom, "Dude - 'Happy Birthday' - really?"

To which he replied, "Yeah, I thought it was kind of strange 'cuz his birthday is in October."


(06/14/07 - 10:22 PM)
How many of you have ever had those door-to-door cleansing solution salesmen come to your home? Show of hands? Two, three, uh huh and - hey! That's not a hand! Put that away!

Okay so, several of you. Now, is it me or are these guys the happiest dudes you've ever come across? They're positive, their friendly, and they have to realize that they're fighting an uphill battle.

Now, how many of you have actually ever bought something from them? Anyone? No? Hmmm...

See, here's the thing:
While I may not actually want whatever it is they are selling, I have to give them a great deal of respect for simply being out there and trying. So many people throw up their hands and play the 'entitlement' card these days. And public policy is all too often there to welcome them with enough altruism to choke a wide-necked mammal.

And yet these guys choose this door-to-door path rather than simply lying down in defeat and saying "Me too!" to a system often designed to allow for just that. They pull themselves up in an act of stalwart defiance that seems to say to the world at large, "Not me too!"

I not only want to buy things from these people on principle - I would like to hire some of these guys, most days. If I could get half the energy and enthusiasm out of some of my employees, our company would be a far better place.

Think about that the next time a kind stranger comes to your door, wanting to sell you something that you most likely don't want or specifically need. Sure, he's annoying and you don't necessarily want to hear his schpiel - but he's out there, working, trying to make a living.

Just think about it...

(06/13/07 - 10:33 PM)
Back on the subject of the Ted Kuhl murder book...

The book was not worth reading, in my humble opinion. It was a fictional interpretation of factual events - something that might work for the likes of James Ellroy in a work like "The Black Dahlia", but does not work for a former reporter from the Rockford Labor News in a work like "Shadow in the Rain". To be fair though, part of the problem might be my close proximity to the characters to be able to enjoy their fictional counterparts. I knew some of the facts - and the people - so it made it hard to get lost in a world of literary fantasy.

BUT - at the end of the book, there was a synopsis of the evidence and testimony that ultimately convicted Ted. And it was pretty damn interesting how convoluted and unconvincing the evidence was. It would appear as though no one but the guy who changed his testimony sixteen times saw Ted shoot his girlfriend. And that Ted had all of twelve seconds to hide a gun that was ultimately never found - in a parking lot, no less. Hmmm...

Couple these facts with the fact that he had just finished dinner with these good folks and had nowhere to HIDE a gun on his person, and the case gets muddier yet.

While I did not sit on the jury that convicted him, I can't understand what I'm missing here. I DO know that crucial evidence and facts were withheld, and this causes me some alarm.

Is Ted innocent? I hope so - I believe so. I remember him as a mild mannered, fair guy. Check out the website if you like at www.deniedevidence.com to see for yourself.

(06/12/07 - 11:55 PM)
Dear Alan Moore:
You are a genius.
Love & Kisses,

I finished "V for Vendetta" and was nothing short of blown away. Think "1984" meets the very near future and you get the impression.

This book outlines what is, potentially, a very plausible future for our society. It surrounds a society that is based on totalatarianism and intolerance. The clean races have prevailed, while the other races have perished at their hand. Society is ruled by a small group of interconnected heirarchies of individuals no better (and usually worse) than those who were destroyed for the betterment of the whole.

Enter V. An enigmatic character in Guy Fawkes regalia who we are led to believe was among those "cleansed" - but who got away. And he's pissed. But not just for himself - oh, no. He's pissed for every other individual who was wronged in the beginning - and for every other individual who is now being wronged daily by the regime that is in place to guide their daily lives.

V's answer is a wake up call to the populous, much like the parable of Sodom and Gamorrah - the vox populai must be heard; must be strong and unified against the tyranny that shackles their very existance. If it is not, then all hope is lost. And V feels that it would be better to be dead, than to continue living in such a state.

While his motivations appear to be nothing short of glorified vigilantism, we see things from both sides of the mirror to help us judge for ourselves who it is that truly ought to be villified. And it's nothing short of striking - powerful and compelling.

This book is a must for anyone who enjoyed the frightening harbingers of things to come in George Orwell's magnum opus "1984". Even if you haven't read that work, I still recommend this one. Gems like this don't come often, and when they do you have to seize them with both hands, hold on, and avoid the potential future which they so subtly decry - or continue to simply condone it by doing nothing.

The choice is yours.

(06/11/07 - 11:44 PM)
Doing your homework pays off. Not only was the property a flip dud - it was a rental dud too. Now, that isn't to say that it didn't have its upsides. But, surprisingly enough, I found two other properties with similar features (and more bedrooms) within a 5-block radius for the same asking price - $10,000 less than appraised value.

So remember:
When it comes to Real Estate - do your homework! There's some helpful links on my links page to give you the kind of information that you need to be a resourceful and informed shopper. Good luck!

(06/10/07 - 9:03 AM)
Hello! My name is Ralph. I am Heath's automated assistant. He asked me to let you know that he's running spreadsheets and making phone calls and checking web sites today, so there will be no witty entry. He's naked right now, munching on a microwave burrito and singing "They call me 'Big Steve'". Wait, now he's yelling at me. Something about sharing too much information. I wonder what he means? I'll just ask him what - Hey... HEY! What are you doing? No! No, don't pull tha..."


(06/09/07 - 9:32 PM)
We went and looked at another flip today...

As a flip, I think its a dud. BUT, as a rental... hmmmm... the price is right; it has "Rental Property" written all over it. But what happens when I go to sell it? Will I be able to? Looks like a day of spreadsheets and phone calls to me (I'll do that tomorrow - tonight I have a date with The Simpsons and some Hurricane.)

Do I really want to be a landlord though?

(06/08/07 - 11:57 PM)
I got a call from my boss today as he was leaving a book signing that he had stumbled into. Not only did he get a signed copy of the book, but he also got his picture taken with the author for the newspaper. He's good at stumbling into things like that (like the time he accidentally had lunch next to Toby Keith, without really knowing who he was. He only got an autograph and a mention in the paper that day.)

Anyway, he bought a copy of the book, had it signed and inscribed, and then called me to tell me I could read it for him (he was kidding - sort of.) He said, "It's a book based on factual facts (this is why we love him) about a local guy who supposedly killed his girlfriend but is innocent.".

Initially, I wasn't all that interested - I hadn't heard of the author, and the book signing was at a scuba shop (don't ask). But now he had my interest at least motivated. Then it got real interesting real fast...

"The guys name is Ted... Kull... Kill... Kuhl... Kuhl - yeah, that's it."

"Yeeps!", I said. "Ted Kuhl lived down the street from us. He was my Scoutmaster and I slept over at his house a bunch of times and went to breakfast with him and his family" (I hung out with his son, Jake, alot.)

Now, I had heard that he had killed his girlfriend ten years ago, and that was a surprise to me. Then it slipped gently out of my mind. Turns out, there's a Leonard Peltier-like crusade out there to get him retried and free, as a good many people believe him to be innocent.

I can't believe my boss actually bought a book that I can't wait to read.

(06/07/07 - 11:02 PM)
I like cake.

(06/06/07 - 09:39 PM)
Kelly Link's claim to fame is that she once won a trip around the world by answering the question, "Why do you want to go around the world?" with "Because, you can't go through it." Her most recent collection of short stories, entitled "Magic For Beginners" is alternately interesting and abysmal.

The good:
"The Faery Handbag", "The Great Divorce", "Magic For Beginners" & "Lull".

The bad:
"The Hortlak", "The Cannon" & "Stone Animals".

And the ugly:
"Catskin" & "Some Zombie Contingency Plans".

She has talent, but this book was more often than not hard to read - and hard to follow. Her first story came off like Neil Gaiman in his prime, but things pretty much deteriorated from there on out. Just keep on walking past this title, methinks. That or, if you're a glutton for short stories of modern-day fable, check it out at the library and just stick to the good stuff within it.

Recommended Reading:
"Angels & Visitations" - Neil Gaiman

(06/05/07 - 08:32 PM)
"The Price Of Oranges" is Nancy Kress' shortest book. And, with a print run of only 100 copies, it is also the most difficult to get one's hands on. It originally appeared in a science fiction magazine, and was published in a numbered and signed limited edition therafter.

The story is about two Medicare-aged guys who hang out (one of whom can travel back to September, 1937 at will via his closet) at the park as they watch society crumble around them. A society that includes one of these fellows granddaughters. And he is saddened to see her in such a bleak frame of mind. So, he hatches a plan: he will go to 1937 and find her a chivalrous, kind, compassionate man - and bring him back.

It's a cute story, flimsy premise or not, and takes all of about twenty minutes to read. I'd recommend it, but you'll most likely never find a copy. But, maybe - just maybe - you can find a portal in your closet, and go back to 1989 when the original 100 were printed...

(06/04/07 - 06:47 PM)
"Requiem For An Assassin" is Barry Eisler's sixth installment in what is fast becoming the wildly popular John Rain series of novels.

For those of you unfamiliar with the backstory, John Rain is a half Japanese, half American mercenary assassin for hire. The only people who have ever seen him are usually dead, and his specialty is leaving no trace that he was ever there to begin with.

These books are usually great reads; occasionally they drag in spots, but not often. This book never dragged for a second and I could not put it down. Yeah, it was that good. Finally, Eisler is at the top of his form and man oh man does it show here. This book was "un-put-downable", and I lost eight hours of my life in the blink of an eye. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

This book is a must, with the only real problem being that to truly appreciate all of what is happening you must have read the entire first five books in the series. This is both good and bad: Good, because it feels like the other five novels were an exciting precursor to this major literary event; bad, because you have alot of catching up to do if you haven't been keeping up - but it's worth it.

(06/03/07 - 09:27 AM)
"The Overlook" is Michael Connelly's newest book. It was originally a 16-part serial in The New York Times Magazine, but was compiled and expanded upon to create this new book.

Yeah, and it sort of shows. Now, don't get me wrong - this is Connelly we're talking about. My personal, undisputed champion of mystery novels. And this is a Harry Bosch novel, so it still has some points for it there. But this one just didn't feel right. I'm not sure why, but it just felt awkward. Perhaps this is a direct result of the method employed to author this work: I'm not sure.

So, if you're not a Harry Bosch fan, or a die-hard Connelly fan, I can sadly say that you can avoid this one.

There is a phenomena occuring in Great Britain that I have been keeping a sharp eye on: The next "Harry Potter"-esque phenomena is occuring. And the boat has already left the dock...

The book is called "Justin Thyme" by a mysterious author known only as Panama Oxridge (not his or her real name). There were 1,239 first editions printed (known as the 'lined copies'), and the author wrote, illustrated, printed and published the whole shooting match from start to finish via a publishing house named Interrobang. The book itself is one massive puzzle from cover to cover - literally. Within its confines, are the clues to find out more about the upcoming storylines, as well as to find out who the author really is.

Each of these copies is numbered, signed, and inscribed. Sixty copies featured doodles and a thumb print of the author (these are long sold-out) and 26 lettered copies - thirteen for the author's amigos, and thirteen for contest winners - all hold a piece of a puzzle that, when put together, are revealed. Intrigued yet?

I was, so a month ago I paid a princely sum of $63.00 for one of three copies available. There is now only one available for sale in the secondary market - at $110.00. That's it. There aren't any more available, and if you could swing it, I would still encourage you to buy even this copy - it will be worth far more, especially when the U.S. gets wind of this title.

Okay, so you might have missed your chance to get rich on the British first editions. But, here's the good news: No one here really even knows about this title. And it is planned for a U.S. release sometime in the near future (last I heard.) So, when it is released here, you can make sure that you get a first U.S. edition in a first printing, and squirrel it away. I can almost guarantee that you will not regret it.

In fact, as I was writing this, I just got the newest issue of The Book Thinker where Editor Craig Stark said:
"If you read Contributing Editor Claire Main's column when it was delivered on April 27, you had just enough time to grab first printings of Panama Oxridge's Justin Thyme. Inside of two days, it was sold out, and Interrobang's publisher Robin Garnet was compelled to order a second printing a month early. Bookseller's who scored a copy or more will likely be pocketing a nice profit sometime soon."

(06/02/07 - 8:07 PM)
We got our first oil change for the new Subaru today, which can mean only one thing: A trip to Madison. And what would a trip to Madison be without going to my own personal Mecca's there (in best Homer Simpson voice, "But there's two!"): Half-Price Books.

Store one was a major disappointment, on the whole; though I did find an original [second printing] first-edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Smith Of Wootten Major" for ten dollars. This was a book I once owned a pristine, first edition / first printing of, save for the gift inscription on the front flyleaf to its former owner. I bought it for a buck or two, and sold it for fifteen - and I now wish that I still had it.

Store two, however, had two gems waiting for me. I got excited when I saw a Frederick Pohl trade paperback (not something I normally even buy, as I avoid trade paperbacks these days.) What made this stand out, is that I saw the Axolotl Press logo on the spine. And I know that most of the stuff they put out is not only limited - it's signed. Sure enough, the limitation statement was found - on the last page, where anyone who doesn't know to look for it would probably never find it - and there was a dimunitive but present autograph on the frontispiece page. Jackpot at four bucks!

Gem number two came in the Michael Crichton section. Old Mike is an author who I pick up when I find a first edition / first printing in near fine book and jacket condition. I have most of his current stuff, but lo and behold there was a book-club edition sized copy of "The Terminal Man" and "Sphere" staring me in the face. There were an inordinate amount of his books on the shelf as well, so I began piecing together what happened. Someone came in one day and sold off their entire run of Crichton, and these were included. What I couldn't figure out was why they were still here. The only sane answer was that they were book club editions (pretty much worthless), but having never seen firsts of either personally (and knowing that sometimes a publisher will change things up from a 10" to a 9" format at will, depending upon a books content and length) I put my skepticism aside, and started looking for the tells. "The Terminal Man" was a snap. It not only lacked a price, but it stated "Book Club Edition" on the inner jacket flap. The number line and Edition statement were also missing (classic BOMC) and the obligatory blind stamp was on the rear, lower spine. This one not only had one or two tells of a book club edition - it had literally all of them (did I mention the five-digit code? That was there too.)

So, I assumed that the copy of "Sphere" would yield the same results. Apparently, everyone else did too. I actually checked, though.

There was a price on the inside flap. Good, good. There was no blind stamp. The number line was non-existant. Uh, oh. But wait! This was a Knopf book - Knopf often avoids a number line on first editions, in favor of just putting "First Edition" on the first printing, and the inserting the number line on additional printings, while removing the "First Edition" statement. Guess what it said? "First Edition".

There were no Book Club statements and... holy crap, it really was a First Edition / First Printing (No, it wasn't a Franklin Library Edition, for those of you who really know Crichton's work, but false-scarcity doesn't bother me. All the better, because there was no Franklin Library statement on this one - meaning this was a TRUE first - this was the real deal.) Not only that, but it looked and opened as though it were BRAND NEW, with the exception being the obligatory rubbing on the silver-foil of the cover (which is next to impossible to prevent on silver foil, making it one of my arch-enemies.) For a book from 1987, it had done pretty well for itself. While not a rare or expensive book, it's still fun to find books that you don't often see roaming free. And I was relatively certain that it was worth all of the $4.98 I paid for it.

Can I get a Yee-haw, here?

I also got another piece of good news as I looked through their cabinet of stuff they feel is too valuable for the dregs of society such as myself to handle. I had picked up a John Updike novel called "Rabbit Redux" for Wanda when I came across it at a local antique mall one idle Sunday morning. It was damn near perfect, and it was only $6.50. I never bothered to look up the price, as I wasn't buying it for any other purpose than to fill a hole in our run of Updike. Imagine my shock when I found this book to be selling for $60.00 here. Who knew? (Alright, I knew it was worth more than $6.50 when I bought it, to be fair - but still.)

So, now all we had to worry about was lunch. Both of us were uncharacteristically hungry. Schlotzsky's Deli was right down the street, and has been a favorite of ours whenever we could find one. Except that three years ago we were both destroyed with food poisoning - while on the first-leg of our week-long vacation 3,000 miles from home - by none other than the aforementioned chain, at a franchise store in Idaho. Ever since then, every time we think about it we both pucker the old sphincters and our stomachs begins to do the cha-cha.

For three years, we could not get over what our brain had hard-wired into us over those horrifying 48-hours (I lost twelve pounds and found God - it was just that bad) Schlotzsky's Deli = Excrucuating pain, Puking And "Other unpleasantness".

Today, finally, we were able to eat there again. We were skeptical, and even a bit leery; and our stomachs were actually somewhat upset, believe it or not, when we sat down to eat. Psychological or not, we had clearly been damaged by our experience. But, in the end, we finally ceased our three-year hiatus (almost to the day) on this sandwich that we both hold so dear.

In closing, I would like to say: Deluxe Original Schlotzsky's sandwich - I'm glad that you're back in my life.

(06/01/07 - 11:22 PM)
Nancy Kress is, first and foremost, a science fiction, short-story author. This, even by her own admission, is her strong point. Her short stories are indeed some of the better that I have read, but her science fiction novels - occasionally - aren't half bad either.

Nancy Kress the mystery writer, however, was not something that I was at all familiar with. And there's probably a good reason for that. She figured she'd give mystery a go (more power to her) with "Oaths & Miracles", and while the result wasn't bad, it also was not in any way memorable.

The premise of the story surrounds biotechnology and the Mafia, but that's about where the excitement ends. I won't bore you with details, because all I really have to say is: Don't bother with this one. I applaud her effort, but it just doesn't seem to be her cup of tea in any way, shape or form. It feels almost accidentally phoned in, and its awkwardness shows through.

Recommended Reading:
"Beggars In Spain" - Nancy Kress

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