Thursday, April 10, 2003
something and someone worth knowing about.
And - in addition - he writes poetry that rocks.

Hmm. What a great blog -- filled with the kind of trivia that makes you feel faintly proud when you did know something, and like you've learned something when you didn't. The Reverend E. Cobham Brewer would have been proud.

...would you mind if we used your poem 'Vampire Sestina', from Smoke and Mirrors as an example of a sestina in an article about poetic forms for our school literary magazine? We don't get much form poetry, and we haven't had a sestina in at least four years. If you'd like, we could send you a copy of the magazine, although we can't decide whether this qualifies as 'threatening behavior'.... No, I don't mind. Run a copyright notice, and say it's used by permission.

Dear Mr. Gaiman,
This isn't really a question, so please feel free to disregard it. Several weeks ago, you posted a link to the Washington Post's review of "the worst novel in the English language." I thought you might like to know that Robert Burrows' book, The Great American Parade, is now free to download on You can get your very own copy and see just how terrible it is.

Thanks. I think.

Speaking of the Gorgons, were Stheno and Euryale really immortal? I mean, why those two but not Medusa? Maybe nobody ever tried cutting off their heads.

There's a lovely site at with a host of classical references, and the story of Medusa is at In the story the way it is now, Medusa was a beautiful young woman who made the mistake of comparing her beauty to that of the Goddess Athene (and I think we can assume that the comparison wasn't "Oh, the Goddess Athene is so much more beautiful than I am,") and was transformed into a Gorgon. Stheno and Euryale were Gorgons already, and were used to it. And Athene was irritated, because Medusa had gone from being a girl with a nice head of hair, to the most beautiful Gorgon there had ever been...

And I was sent a horrified link to, an article which points out that

Welcome to the new millennium of war toys. Gone are cartoonishly idealistic action figures, soft plastic guns and the model jet fighters of yore. They have been replaced by bazookas with explosive noises, exacting copies of long-range sniper rifles, a "peacekeeper" battle station complete with tripod-mounted cannon and counterterrorism advisers as action figures.

High-tech and perhaps a bit too highly realistic, this toy fare is creating ripples among concerned parents and peaceniks alike.

"War toys have been around forever, but the problem here is the change in focus. Before such toys were more in line with the ideas of self-defence," said Eric Garris, who is webmaster of the California-based, which has started a campaign about against the Forward Command Post toy.

"This is not just another war toy -- it's a total paradigm shift in the war toy industry. It's setting up the young people for this new kind of war, where soldiers come into your house and take it over when they need to."

with a nice illustration of a destroyed house from which the soldiers are sniping or peacekeeping or something. And I looked at it and felt rather approving. I mean, it looks a lot less fun and clean and pleasant than the "idealistic action figures" and I can't believe that's a bad thing. You would not want these soldiers to come to your house and set up a command post there...

And I keep thinking of the Saki short story, "The Toys of Peace", which you can read (it's not long) at Go and read it, if you haven't. It's about war toys, and children, and was written almost a hundred years ago, and is no less relevant or true now than when it was written. And, like so much of Saki, it's very funny.

(And I should point out that H.H. Monro, who wrote under the name of Saki, was killed in the first World War. He'd claimed to be younger than he was, to join up. His last words, before the German sniper shot him, were "Put that bloody cigarette out!")