Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Box Full of Sin, Sunday Stories, and a Lizard Invasion

I'm going to alter the date to make it look as if this was posted on Sunday, although it's really Monday. I'm sneaky that way.

First things first. In the Oh.My.Gosh. category, this box full of chocolate arrived from Nikki in Italy, Saturday afternoon:

Thank you, Nikki!!!!! Only one item was slightly melty, thanks to the fact that the postman walked the box to our doorstep. That would be the slightly mushed-looking KinderEgg on the left, which let me know with a quick sag that it was in need of a chilling. Hubby helpfully marched the box straight to the fridge. The days of chocolate puddles are coming, but not yet here. Good timing, eh?

I was in a hurry to photograph everything before I lost the sunlight, though, and look what I did: plunked the eggs on the grass upside-down. Ah, well. You get the idea.

For Sunday Indulgence, I read bits of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murikami, Life Class by Pat Barker, and The Last Single Woman in America by Cindy Guidry (which is so offensive that I'm tempted to ditch it). I also managed to squeeze in two short stories:

I don't give away the endings in the following summaries, but skip both if you plan to read the stories soon, as they may contain spoilers.

Oddy and Id - from Virtual Unrealities: The Short Fiction of Alfred Bester. Set in a far distant future, the story describes the strange life of Odysseus Gaul, who was so named "in honor of Papa's favorite hero, and over Mama's desperate objections." In spite of frequently throwing himself in harm's way, Oddy is spared repeatedly by phenomenal good luck. Encouraged by all who know him, a turn comes when one of his college professors, while checking over Oddy's lab work, discovers that Oddy is not just lucky -- he's the opposite of accident-prone: he's good-luck prone. The impossible occurs simply by way of Oddy's desire for it to happen. Aware of Oddy's ability to effect events by mere desire, a group of professors set out to ensure that Oddy is taught in way that will cause him to absorb the best of morals. Imminent war, they reason, will then be prevented by ensuring Oddy's yearning for peace; and, only good will come of his natural ability. Unfortunately, there's more to Oddy's special talent than meets the eye.

Well, gosh. I heart Bester. It was seriously tempted to just toss everything else aside and keep chugging through Bester's short stories, but I kind of like reading short stories by different authors on Sunday, so I think I'll continue to hold back.

13 Phantasms - from 13 Phantasms and other stories by James P. Blaylock. A man by the name of Landers goes up to explore the attic of his rental house, where the widowed landlord has preserved 4 boxes belonging to her late husband and labeled with the single word, "Astounding". Inside, Landers discovers neatly stacked and well-preserved issues of Astounding Science Fiction from the 1940s. After reading one magazine from cover to cover, Landers merrily fills out an order form for a series of books entitled 13 Phantasms, sticks the first of 6 one-dollar installments in an envelope and mails it, expecting his dollar to disappear. Instead, the books soon arrive with a note -- What, the sender inquires, is the meaning of that 50-star flag on the stamp?

*End spoiler warning*

Like the movie The Lake House, 13 Phantasms is a story of time-traveling mail but with a unique twist. Again, I was tempted to ditch everything else and continue reading Blaylock's short stories, but I stopped myself. We'll see if I last till next Sunday. 13 Phantasms is a recent library-sale purchase. I had no idea what a lucky purchase I'd made!

An interesting aside: I have a sneaking suspicion that I read some Star Trek fan fiction by Blaylock in the 70's; the name sort of rings a bell. Since I only bought one book of Star Trek short stories and I still have it (both boys have claimed it at one point or another), I think it's a safe bet I'm remembering the author's name correctly.

And, the lizard invasion . . . The husband and I pulled into our driveway on Saturday and counted 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . . 5 lizards peeking out from the window shutters on our garage. Yes, of course I ran for the camera.

Coming up: A review of Persuasion by Jane Austen. But, we have a storm headed our way, so don't hold your breath.

Blogger funkiness: I'm currently unable to update my sidebar layout because of Blogger Gremlins. So, apologies in advance if the book covers don't change in sync with my reading, for a time. I know from experience that these things usually clear up within a week or two; hopefully, the problem won't last long.

Happy "Oops, it's Really Monday" from Bookfool


  1. Lucky you that looks like some tasty loot! That's one of the reasons why I decided to move back to the UK... Kinder chocolate and I heart those Happy Hippos! :)

  2. Geez, woman! I thought I'd lost my mind...

    What d'ya mean I have?

    The goodies look wonderful and I went ahead and read your reviews, both of which have made me want to read more. I'm not big on short stories but those sound very interesting.

    The lizard is adorable, too.


  3. Ashleigh,

    Kinder chocolate is worth moving for, although I admit I'd move to the UK for the jaunts to historical sites. Lucky chick. I've never had Happy Hippos, before. I'm trying to ration so I don't blow up like a balloon, if you know what I mean. :)

  4. CJ,

    Ummmm, no comment? ;)

    European chocolate is the best. If you were here, I'd give you a bite. But, I cannot be forced to share those Pocket Coffees; they're a hoot. You bite into them and coffee explodes into your mouth. What a total buzz.

    You know, I used to think I was not a fan of short stories, but now I realize that you just have to find the right authors. There are a lot of writers who can whip out a rocking fine novel but can't write a short story that feels "complete" for all they're worth. I guess it's just a matter of trial and error or looking for solid recommendations.

    My lizard thanks you. :)

  5. I'm so jealous of all that chocolate!!!
    Every year when we go to Germany we stock up on all of those goodies. We try to ration them when we get back but I have no willpower :)
    Oh and love the lizard pic. Hee,hee.

  6. Iliana,

    You go to Germany every year? Cool!! That's a gorgeous bundle of goodies, isn't it? I'm working hard at the rationing. I had a Pocket Coffee, this morning, and I am telling myself I have willpower. Ask me if I succeeded in a week. :)

    Thanks. Those lizards are such fun. I just went outside and got one hilarious shot of a neighborhood cat that I've got to load. I can't wait to see it full-screen. The animal life is such fun.

  7. Lizards! I'm so happy to see them (again, from a distance), but I think I might just be warming up to the little buggers. Maybe when I see one on our porch later in the spring and summer I won't scream and run this time. Woot!

    And YUMMY chocolate! *lust*

  8. Yay! It looks so much prettier in your grass then it did at my house. At least one of us took a picture of it.

    I'm so glad you and your family are enjoying it. And those pocket coffees are addictive and a little unpredictable at first. I think it's so cute that some came in the espresso cup. Pocket coffee is a coffee cup? Perfect.

  9. Andiloo,

    I'm going to get you lovin' those lizards, yet. LOL Seriously, just spend a while watching one from a decent distance, some time, and I'll bet you'll be hooked. Even my husband thinks they have "personality". Don't ask him to do the catch-and-release thing, though. Not happening. :)

    Ain't that chocolate perty? Bet you wish you lived next door to me, right now.


    It looks pretty anywhere, I promise!!! But, it begged to be posed outdoors while the weather was decent.

    The coffee cup is definitely a perfect . . . um, accessory? Can you accessorize chocolate? I just loved that first chocolate explosion experience. Unpredictable is right! But, in a good way. I can imagine an American chocolate company totally ruining the concept with waxy chocolate and bad coffee. LOL The taste is amazing!

  10. Oh wow that looks yummy. None of the names sound familiar but I bet that just makes it all the better!

    I think lizards are so cute... in photos only lol. Great pic!

  11. Tink (Jen?),

    Ridiculously, sinfully, terribly yummy. Most dangerous, that chocolate is. I'm loving it. :)

    Mississippi's not a great place to live if you don't like to see the lizards up close and personal!!!

  12. Very, very nice chocolate stash! Wow!

  13. By the way -

    According to our local newspaper, we currently have 22 inches of snow on the ground.

    TWENTY TWO INCHES and you're taking pictures of bloody daffs!!

    Okay, I feel better now.


  14. Tara,

    Is very tasty and bad for hips. :)

  15. CJ,

    Did I tell you I've been sneezing my head off, my eyes itch like crazy and are watering, and I would love to be buried in snow? But, uh, 22 inches. Gosh. Yeah, you definitely could have a mini Iditarod on that!

    The daffodils wilted. Feel better? No? Maybe someday we could do a house-switch for a week. :)

  16. I always wish I lived next door to you, Nancyroo. But the chocolate does further sweeten the deal. :)

    I'll try to scope out some lizards. I haven't seen too many during my tenure in NC. Saw one a couple of years ago loitering around B's grill, and if memory serves me I think he leapt onto the lighted grill (and quickly back off again). Hurts me just thinkin' about it.

  17. Mmmm, nutella! What a wonderful surprise. Hope the storm doesn't blow you away; we got our first snow of the season last night. Texas weather is so strange--Saturday it was in the high 70s!

  18. Andiloo,

    Awwww, you're too sweet. You would like the chocolate, though. I just ate a Happy Hippo. I'm not even sure how to describe it, apart from the hope that I'm not what I eat.

    Oh, wow, that is the scariest story I've ever heard and definitely a good reason to learn to love thy lizards. LOL We have so many of them that I think it would be kind of difficult to live here if you couldn't appreciate them. They eat bugs, right? Anything that munches the insects is okay with me.

  19. Trish,

    The Nutella was gone in no time. I ate a few bites, returned home and found an empty package. Ah, well. I enjoyed what I got!

    The storm wasn't quite as bad as expected. They actually let the kids out just a few minutes early, which made it easier for the kiddo to drive home (he's got a permit, so I'm letting him drive me, daily, cringe). Yeah, Mississippi weather is wacky, too. Just FYI, the eldest called me a bit ago to say it's snowing in Memphis!

  20. Yum!! That candy looks so good and I'm a sucker for Nutella. That stuff is delicious!

    Ooh, how's the Wind Up Bird Chronicle? That one's been on my list forever. And I'm sorry you ended up with a horribly offensive book...did you ditch it?

    Yay! I see the lizards are back...Spring must be coming!

  21. Chris,

    I've resisted Nutella, in the past, just because I was afraid I'd like it too much. Fortunately, that was a small package and the kiddo ate more than half. LOL

    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is great, but it's long-winded and weird. I have to work to concentrate on it. I'm not even halfway through. But, I am enjoying it.

    Apart from the return of cold mornings, it sure seems like spring is here. I can't wait till the lizards start making little hatchlings. They're so unbearably cute. :)

  22. Daffodils are blooming here, not wilting. The first ones I saw around town were coming up in February! Really strange and way too early.

    The Last Single Woman in America by Cindy Guidry is offensive, huh? I received a copy, too, but I haven't started it yet. Maybe I won't be in a hurry.

  23. Bonnie,

    January or February is about right for daffodils, here, but the other stuff -- azaleas in February? That was weird. My daffs are all gone, but I only had a smattering of blooms.

    Yes, The Last Single Woman in America was offensive, in my opinion. I'm working on my mini-review and having trouble putting my thoughts into words. I'm actually quite curious what you think of it. It was just that she went into great detail about her sex life. Yuck.


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