It is the unfortunate lot of Nebraska (one of the 8 states I have not yet been to) to share an anniversary with Ohio (March 1, 1803), a state I have actually lived in. So, while I have quite a lenghthy post about Ohio, I have virtually no reflections about Nebraska except to remember a friend from graduate school, Don, who came from Omaha. He and I both had relatives in Appleton, Wisconsin. I also remember that Julie Kotter, from the old television show "Welcome Back Kotter" came from Nebraska. Normally in a case like this, I would ask my geographer husband to guest blog for me, but indeed, Nebraska is one of only four states he has not been to.
I was glad to find this news item about Omaha libraries in my library newsletter last week, so I would have something more to post today. http://www.ketv.com/news/22533931/detail.html. True to form for any library story in the popular press, the comments section contains all kinds of negative comments about what a waste of tax money libraries are. I cannot understand why newspapers have no qualms about choosing and editing letters to the editor that appear in print, but allow any post to appear in the online sources. And to those who would post those comments I would keep this in mind: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Libraries are truly the "people's university". There is no admissions requirements and the reading rooms, and reference assistance are generally available to all. We get these services no matter what town we are in, even if we don't pay taxes there. I have one other comment about Nebraska Libraries which is to say that I am very pleased to know that The Nebraska Library Commission uses an article I wrote (Fear and Loathing: Censorship in All its Glory) about banned books on its educational website "Intellectual Freedom and the Core Values of Librarianship".
Goodnight, Nebraska by Tom McNeal tells the story of Randall Hunsacker, who moves from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Goodnight, Nebraska after he steals and wrecks the car he finished restoring in shop class, after he discovers that his sister is having an affair with his mother's tosser of a boyfriend. The sister and boyfriend move to West Virginia, and the mother follows in hopes of getting him back. Randall is left in juvenile detention until his football coach finds him a place on the Goodnight high school football team. This book has a lot of characters. They move in and out and through the story. For some, the reader gets more insight into than others. McNeal weaves back stories about some of the charcters into the novel, for others we simply get a "bonus chapter" that gives us a glimpse into what makes them who they are. In many cases, however, we don't get a wrap up for them. Widow Lucy Witt appears to play a major role when she agrees to board Randall when he arrives in town. She discovers something she finds distasteful about Randall, and from there she simply fades from the storyline. There is no grand epilogue to let readers know what happened to all the characters, only for Randall and his wife Marcy do we get a window into their future lives. This is how life is. We only ever get a window onto others' lives. Even those we know well have a frame around them that no one else can completely see around.
The Brandon Teena Story is a documentary about the murder of trangendered Teena Brandon/Brandon Teena who was born female, but lived as a man. After transposing first and last names to create a name more appropriate to the gender, Brandon Teena moved to Falls City, Nebraska. He dated women and made friends with people who did not know his history. When rumors about his identity began, he was raped and beaten by two of his male friends and humiliated in front of his girlfriend. Transcripts and tapes of the inteview between Brandon and the sheriff show he was further humiliated when giving his statement to the police. No arrests were made, and the two men tracked Brandon to his friend Lisa Lambert's home in another town, where Brandon, Lisa, and another friend, Phil Devine, were all executed. Lisa's infant son was the only one spared in the massacre.I knew about this case from seeing the movie Boys Don't Cry, a feature film starring Hilary Swank several years ago. I recommend watching both films. It is an unfortuate truth that transgendered individuals are much more likely to die of murder than the general population.
For dessert tonight we had Nebraska Raisin Bars. These cookie bars were lighter (less dense) than other cookie bars I've had. I used more raisins and less sugar than the recipe called for. My mantra for desserts is: Less sugar, more flavor. These are tasty.