Library Guilt?

I like to get the most out of my tax dollars by using the hell out of the library. The library has a great system if you know what you want to read. You can reserve any book in the library system from their web site and have it sent to the branch closest to you. I've had a library card since I moved to Nashville ten years ago and I've never known the limit of items you can have out at a time. Until I moved to a house two blocks from a branch library. (It's twenty-five in case you were wondering.)

Lately there have been a few books on my want list that Nashville doesn't have. Apparently Nashvillians are hard on graphic novels. So instead of paying my hard earned money I used the inter library loan feature. It's quite nice, but it takes a little while to get your book sometimes. The first books came from Memphis and I enjoyed them. The next two took awhile to get. So that brings me to the question for today.

Should I feel guilty that rather than spend $20 to buy the book myself the library had it sent all the way from Salt Lake City? I don't really feel bad, but it seems like I should since it probably takes as many resources to get it here than it would for me to just buy it myself.


Flags of Our Fathers

This one is a little late, but it happens. And it has nothing to do with that movie in the post title. I just liked the sound of it and I'm not above stealing something for a totally different use.

Back on the 4th of July I was cruising through the neighborhood as I turned onto the main road I suddenly saw a giant confederate flag coming at me. It seems one of my neighbors had decided to celebrate our country's independence by flying the flag of a foreign country. Not just any foreign country, but a country that tried to break away from ours.

On the one hand I can see that. The Confederates were trying to get their own independence from a government trying to force them to do things they didn't like. Just like the original 13 colonies. On the other hand the flag is a symbol of hate for an awful lot of people.

I was originally just going to report this as a funny occurrence, but then I got to thinking about it on the mile long walk from the office (stupid downtown parking) to the state parking lot. You hear a lot about patriotism these days and some people think speaking out against the President is unpatriotic. So why do those people not think that flying the flag of another country, a country that the U.S. fought a long war against, is unpatriotic? I've heard a lot of criticisms of the Confederate flag, but never that one. It's also comparable to last year when some children of immigrants put up the Mexican flag above the U.S. one at their high schools. They were deemed unpatriotic and told to go back to Mexico, so why is no one criticizing the Confederate flag that way?

On a slightly related note, The Mrs and I watched Silkwood not too long ago. Kurt Russell played the love interest. Every shot in his bedroom and apartment had a Confederate flag hanging prominently in the background but the movie takes place in Oklahoma. I suppose it's possible that character had some confederate pride because he was from Texas, which was part of the CSA. But I think it's a lot more likely that some set designer just confused his hicks. Some people can't distingush the difference between 'country' and 'Southern'.


Save Your Breath For Blowing Up Waterwings Breeder

When The Mrs. and I started talking about getting married, one of the earliest things that came up was kids. Back in my twenties I wanted kids. Preferrably two. Now that I'm in my thirties I'm less sure. I told her I wouldn't mind having kids, but I didn't want to be so old I couldn't keep up with them. And I really didn't want to be the oldest dad at the high school graduation.

The Mrs. very much wants to have children. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that she's adopted. Once you get to know her parents it's pretty obvious that she's adopted. She's very different from them. Fortunately though, their influences on her are very obvious as well. I think their influence is why the free form artist was able to fall and love and be happy with a logical engineer who likes to plan. And vice versa.

But I digress. The point is....... The Mrs. wanted to have kids badly, and I didn't want to be old and feeble when my kids were young. Everyone told us we should be married for awhile before trying to have a baby. And we both had our reasons for not waiting too long. Conventional wisdom is that it takes at least 6-12 months to get pregnant once a couple starts trying. I had just watched some close friends of mine try for a year before being successful. So with that in mind we decided to just let nature take its course and see how long it took. After all, "It'll probably take awhile."

So has anyone figured out where this is all going yet? It took six weeks. Less than two months after our wedding my wife told me she's knocked up. Holy crap I'm going to be a dad.

*Today's post title inspired by The Simpsons.


It's All About The Baggage

Today's alternate title: Blame Mom.

Disclaimer: This is a book review. I don't think I'm giving away too much of the plot, but read at your own risk.

Hannibal Lecter makes serial killing look easy, and we finally get to find out why. Turns out it was the eastern front in World War II that did the damage. Hannibal started the war as the eight year old son of Count Lecter of Lithuania living in the castle his ancestors had built 500 years ago and filled with famous works of art and literature. He ended the War as an orphan living in the same castle which had been commandeered by the Soviets as an orphanage.

Hannibal Rising is the prequel a lot of people have been waiting for. Author Thomas Harris finally gives Hannibal an Episode 1. You have to hand it to Harris. He's created one of the most compelling evil characters of the 20th Century. As near as I can tell, Harris has written five books. Four of them are about Hannibal Lecter, and all have been made into movies. One of them even got made into two movies.

Hannibal has always been an interesting contrast. On the one hand he's brilliant and civilized. He's a doctor and surrounds himself by all the refined pleasures the world has to offer. Wine, gourmet food, music, opera, literature. On the other hand he's a cannibalistic murderer. He's the ultimate villain. The deductive reasoning abilities of Sherlock Holmes with no moral or conscience what so ever. A character like that is money in the bank. Complete lack of morals and conscience are what make a truly fascinating villain.

This time around Harris gives us a look at what made Hannibal the way he is. His early childhood was as eastern European nobility with the best that money could buy. Precocious young Hannibal had a genius tutor and access to some of the greatest works of art in Europe. Until the Nazi blitzkrieg.

I won't go into details, but I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say the war treats Hannibal badly. At the end of the war he's an orphan too traumatized to speak and he lives in Hannibal Castle which has been converted into an orphanage by the Soviets. Eventually his uncle's Japanese wife brings him back to reality as he admires her beauty and refinement. And the rest of the book is about his revenge on the soldiers and war profiteers who did him wrong.
There's really no way to justify what Hannibal does in the earlier books, but this one goes a long way toward explaining it. A Russian winter spent in captivity to looters explains his cannibalistic tendencies. The fate of his little sister explains the protective feelings he has toward certain people in his life and his extreme reactions to threats toward people under his protection. So you have it all wrapped up in a neat little package. Hannibal's love of the finer things in life was instilled in him by his Japanese aunt, and the brutality and willingness to commit brutal murders came from the war.

I was actually a little disappointed to learn Hannibal's back story. It was just like Darth Vader. It just ruins a villian to find out they used to be regular folks. I feel a little cheated to find out villains are that way because of their baggage. I prefer my evil to be just for the sake of selfish evil. It's a nice writer's trick to make you feel sympathy for the villain, but it makes me feel dirty to be sympathetic toward Hannibal Lecter. The writers of The Wire use that trick to their advantage regularly. I suppose you can also see it in the way he picks his victims. They've never went into any detail about the murders that originally put him in prison prior to the novels, but most of the murders he commits while we watch are actually reprisals for slights to Lecter or someone he likes.

I also found it very interesting when I read the earlier stuff by Harris. He's written four books now which include Hannibal Lecter. In the first two Lecter was a supporting character. Harris uses A caged resource used by the FBI to find other serial killers. After the 'Silence of the Lambs' movie Hannibal suddenly blew up. He's the focus of the novels after that. I think the factor that made Hannibal big is Anthony Hopkins. He was an interesting supporting character until Hopkins made him real. 'Red Dragon', the first novel with Lecter was made into a movie called 'Manhunter' prior to 'Silence of the Lambs', but once Hopkins took over as Lecter in 'Silence' they actually did it again with Hopkins. I think it's safe to say Harris created the character, but Hopkins made him a household name. (It's also a commentary on the effects of books versus movies on our culture. Books rarely hit it big until they become a movie.)

I'm reserving judgment on the Hannibal Rising movie until I see it, but it's sitting on the coffee table right now. I was impressed that it was released almost simultaneously with the book this time.