Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in Hannibal (4)


The 'Hannibal' DVD is coming... and it has a gag reel!

I don't know how the hell I didn't know that the season 1 DVD/Blu-ray for Hannibal comes out next week (Sept. 24). I absolutely love the show and have been eagerly anticipating the video release so I can binge on all 13 episodes like Dr. Lecter would on an unsuspecting churl who dared cross him. 

I'm certainly glad that the video release wasn't tied to the debut of season 2, scheduled for some time next year. That seems to be the typical pattern with TV DVD sets these days, giving fans little opportunity to catch up on the most recent season before the next one begins. 

However, the best news of all may be that the Hannibal DVD includes a gag reel, some of which I screencapped above. Let's hope we get to see Hugh Dancy's Will Graham smile a bit, since he looks so tortured, addled and exhausted each week on the show. 


An unsolicited suggestion for the 'Hannibal' writing team

I have plenty more that I want to write about NBC's new series, Hannibal, in another blog post. Three episodes in, I think it's already my favorite new show of the year. 

But for now, a decision was made to pull the fourth episode of the season — originally set to broadcast this coming Thursday — because of some content that resembled current events a little too closely. Apparently, the plot concerns someone brainwashing little children into killing other little children.

The prevailing sentiment seemed to be that executive producer Bryan Fuller, not the network, made the call to pull the episode because of the bombing at the Boston Marathon last week. Given the involvement of small children, however, I wonder if the fear was over the shootings in Newtown, Conn. last December.

Personally, I think that's a bit overreactionary. But it's probably right to not risk offending people's sensibilities. I remember seeing Jack Reacher last December and was surprised by how affected I was by seeing a sniper shoot down citizens so shortly after what had happened in Newtown. 

So it appears that the episode just won't air at all. NBC is moving all of the episodes up one week and ending the season early. I'd like to see the network offer the episode online, as opposed to clips that will help maintain continuity of serial storylines. I realize, however, that I'm thinking as a fan. 

Or maybe Fuller and the Hannibal crew could film a quickie episode tied to the latest headlines, much like Law and Order would have. Maybe Will Graham, Dr. Lecter, Jack Crawford and the gang can come down on a pet food manufacturer that's grinding up parts of dead pets and putting them in food. 

That sounds terribly grisly and gross, right? Yet this article at Slate suggests that very practice may be taking place at the plants that render these animal parts into something resembling food. 

Some rendering plants are pickier than others, and some process ingredients in different batches to comply with state or local laws. But on the whole, most tend to dump in whatever they receive and start the grinder when it is full: parts from slaughterhouses, whole carcasses of diseased animals, cats and dogs from shelters, zoo animals, road kill and expired meat from grocery store shelves (tossed in fully packaged, complete with plastic wrap and Styrofoam).

This might push poor Will Graham over the edge, since the show has established him as a rescuer of stray dogs. Hannibal Lecter would have a wealth of material to use in messing with Graham's head. 

Just a suggestion, Mr. Fuller. You know, just in case you need to produce one more episode for this season. 


My horrifying Hannibal Lecter story

With Hannibal premiering on NBC tonight, I thought it was a good time to share a story I don't believe I've ever told on this blog before. 

Years ago, when I worked at a bookstore, I was asked for help by one of my co-workers at the information desk. A customer had a question she couldn't answer.

This co-worker was a nice, sweet woman. She worked hard. But she was, how do you say, not bright. She also didn't know a damn thing about books, other than the romance novels she read. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But she was probably a representation of what happens when bookstores become big bookstore chains. It's just a retail job.

A deep knowledge of literature (or history, religion, cooking, etc.) wasn't really necessary, as it was in the days when prospective employees had to pass a book test to be hired at Borders. Just be friendly, look up a book in the computer, take the customer to the section, put the book in his or her hand and that's the job. No deep knowledge of Proust necessary.

However, a cursory understanding of the difference between fiction and reality certainly helps. 


As I walked by the front information desk, probably on my way to goof off in the break room, this co-worker asked me to come over and help her with a customer. 

"Sure — what's up," I said.

"This woman is looking for books on Hannibal Lecter," my co-worker said.

"OK, no problem. Is there a particular book she's looking for? Silence of the Lambs? Red Dragon? That Hannibal movie just came out. Is that the one she wants?"

"No, she wants a biography on Hannibal Lecter."

At that point, I figured it was the customer who wanted a nonfiction book on a fictional character. Oh, if only that had been the case. 

"Biography? Hannibal Lecter is a fictional character. Is she serious?"

"No, I know there is one. I just can't remember the name of it and I can't find it in the system." 

I'm not sure how long I paused and stared at her. I don't remember if my jaw hung open. I have no recollection of the room beginning to sway back and forth, my vision blurring and sound being muted out with my co-worker continuing to talk to me. But there was a definite moment of silence as I tried to comprehend if I was really being asked what I was just asked. 

"[Name redacted], there's no biography or case study of Hannibal Lecter. He doesn't really exist. The books he's in are novels." 

"I know there's one, OK? I saw it. I just can't remember the name of it and I can't find it in the system." 

"All right, I'll take care of it. She's up front?"

So I walked over to the information desk at the front of the store and saw the customer waiting. Thankfully, my co-worker did not follow me. I don't remember if she was supposed to be covering the desk at the time or went to shelve books or was on a mystery quest for true crime books on Hannibal Lecter. But at least I could avoid completely embarrassing her.

However, would I end up having to embarrass the customer? This would not be the first time I had to tell a customer that a fictional character didn't exist.

I once had a heartbreaking encounter with a very nice man with whom I had a nice conversation about jazz until he wanted to find CDs by Emmit Ray. Emmit Ray was Sean Penn's character in Woody Allen's film, Sweet and Lowdown.

This gentleman was so convinced Ray was real. I just couldn't break it to him. I know I should have. But he was so nice and genuine. I ended up telling him we didn't have anything, other than the soundtrack to the movie. Hopefully, someone eventually let the guy down gently. Either that or he's still searching, wandering the land (and record stores that no longer exist) like Kwai Chang Caine from Kung Fu.

(If I ever do meet Woody Allen, you can damn well bet I'll tell him that story. If anything, it's a compliment to how effective his movie was.) 

"Hi there," I said to the customer. "You're looking for Hannibal Lecter books?"

"Yes," she said. "I want to see the books he's in." 

So I took her over to "Mysteries and Thrillers" where Thomas Harris' novels were shelved, took all three of the Hannibal Lecter novels off the shelf and handed them to her. I then waited for the awkward moment in which she said something like, "No, I know about these. I'm looking for a biography." 

But she took the books and said "OK, great — I'm gonna sit down and take a look through these. Thank you."

That was it. We were done. The customer was not looking for nonfiction books on a fictional character. 

The scary part — perhaps scary than anything Hannibal Lecter did in print or on screen — is that I believe my co-worker eventually went on to work at the corporate offices of the bookstore chain we worked for.

Perhaps that provides at least some explanation as to why this particular chain is no longer in business. 


Waiting for 'Hannibal'

I’ve been eagerly anticipating NBC’s Hannibal show ever since it was announced. This teaser trailer does nothing to quell those feelings. It looks good — really good.  

I just wonder how long the show can — or intends to — draw out the relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter before eventually revealing the inevitable. 

I also wonder how fans will take Mads Mikkelsen as Lecter, since he doesn't convey a younger Anthony Hopkins — especially with his accent. 

Get here soon, April 4. 

(via Badass Digest)