December 26, 2010

Reading Teaches You Stuff

Jan has a couple of weeks off from school for Christmas break, and on one of our errand runs the other day, she wanted to stop by the library.  She has a stable of favorite authors, who happen to be very prolific, so she always seems to have something to pick out.  I went in with her, but held out little hope that I'd find anything that would intrigue me.

I'm a serial reader.  If I happen across an author that I like, I won't even think of switching to anything else until I've completely exhausted everything that he or she has written.

There are exceptions.  Stephen King comes to mind immediately.  This guy needs to give it a rest.  It's not enough that he writes under his own name, but then he starts with a pseudonym and after a while, his books take up a whole wing of a library.  I gave up on him, especially after realizing one day that the book I'd picked up was just like another one he wrote.  He hit rut-ville a long time ago.

My life is littered with authors that I've used up and left in my wake.  Steinbeck, Buck, Hemingway ... and more recently, McCarthy, Turow, Coonts, Gresham (Stephen King Jr.), and last ... and most regrettably Thomas Harris.

With the exception of one novel, Harris has written exclusively about that sophisticated, worldly, man-about-town psychopath ... Hannibal Lecter.

Harris clearly loves the character, and I do too.  I know you're supposed to hate the guy, because he has no compunction killing people and eating parts of them.  But, there's just something about him that you wish that you had a piece of ... his sophistication, his absolute appreciation of the finer things in life, and his general love of just being out there.

One of the devices that Harris uses with Hannibal is his ability to transport himself during times of great boredom or stress.  Stuck in stir for what seems like eternity?  Hannibal tours the great cathedrals and museums of Europe in his mind.  Enduring some rather brutal torture?  He transports himself to the top of an alp, or a quiet meadow on a summer's morning.

Pretty cool huh?  Well, I think so too.  And I've got a situation at work coming up this week that I plan to use the "Hannibal Technique" to get through.

Tuesday morning, I've been tapped (again) to be an observer for something called a "DP Assessment".  This is a big deal at Giant Pharmaceutical House and is somewhat akin to an individual becoming a Mason or a Notary Public.

For six mind-numbing hours, the observer (me) sits in a room and watches the assessor and assessed do Q&A.  The observer does nothing, and his sole purpose appears to be to throw a bucket of water on the participants if the exchanges become too heated ... and to sign and date a piece of paper.  Otherwise, the observer is free to go slowly insane.

Tuesday, I'm going to put the Hannibal Technique into practice.  The only problem is ... I haven't been to one lousy cathedral or museum in Europe, nor have I ever sat on an alp or in a meadow.  Okay, maybe a meadow, but the memory isn't exactly sharp.

So, I'll have to do an adjustment.

I wonder if I can visualize wandering the aisles of Walmart for six hours?


  1. Maybe you can just imagine that you're Hannibal and create elaborate menus and recipes using the assessor and assessed as the main ingredients.

  2. Good idea ... I'll have to go out later and see if I can find some fava beans.

  3. Ugh, good luck with that. Sounds like just about anything would be more to visualize than actually listening in on that crap.