Fantasy Novel by Tim Powers. * * * 1/2 (explanation)

Twelve year old Koot Hoomie Parganas, also known as Kootie to the school chums who torment him, comes home to find his ex-hippie parents murdered.

Now it's true that since they had been setting him up to be the new Krishnamurti, with the whole lucrative charismatic religion thing behind it, his childhood had been far from normal or even happy. But that didn't mean someone should murder them.

Kootie runs away, understanding that whoever killed his parents was probably looking for him, too. Pretty soon, though, someone else takes over Kootie's head. The ghost of Thomas Alva Edison, which he inadvertently inhaled while destroying a mantel ornament in his house.

The story progresses as dozens of ghost-snorting junkies pursue Kootie around the Los Angeles Basin looking to extract this powerful hit from his brain. Read the book to see what happens.

This is what passes for Magical Realism in American mainstream literature. Still, it's a great story, fun to read. So is the sequel, Earthquake Weather.

The date after which a perishable item is no longer fit for consumption or use, at least according to its manufacturer.

Expiration dates are commonly found on food items like dairy products (including milk, cheese and yogurt), eggs, meats and fruit juices. Drugs and medical products usually have expiration dates.

The choice of an expiry date is somewhat arbitrary. For example, it's not as if milk is perfect up until its expiry date and then becomes completely undrinkable. The process of milk turning bad is a gradual one. From personal experience, however, I can say that milk is definately undrinkable four months after its expiry date.

I didn't know that we were over 'till we were over. She said we were finished, that there was nothing left and that it was time for us both to move on to other things. I didn't know what things she meant, since I had no other things on my calendar. I mean, I hadn't even planned for this event.

She said that whatever we had was "gone" and she used the words "used up" a few times,as if there was a certain allotment of stuff between the two of us that was, apparently, consumed. I asked if one of us shouldn't have been keeping track of the supply. This was not greeted with the humor in which it was intended. I guess laughter was one of those things that was no longer in stock.

She started packing up her things and in a few hours, was gone.

It's not your fault, Nothing is forever.

Well, I sorta knew that. I mean after Toad the Wet sprocket broke up and Doctor, Doctor went off the air, I knew that much. Life is about change and making difficult transitions. But in previous cases I had some warnings-trouble signs. Bands that argue-break up. Go and buy their albums before the resulting surge in price. Television shows that have some intellectual appeal are not long for the screen. This is why God made the VCR.

But in this circumstance, I had not noticed anything, so of course, THAT was the problem. It had gone bad for us without my participation. This was milk gone sour overnight. Long before the blue numbers on the container promised. One morning you pour it on your Wheat Chex and find that, NO this was not going to work.

I wonder if next time I will be overly cautious and circle some imaginary date on the calendar:

OK now, what is 6 months and 6 days from Today??

That seems both cruel and overly paranoid. I know that. I also know it's not right to label people but warning labels may prove to be necessary.

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