Tuesday, May 06, 2003

From Next Door.

The winds of Barcelona blew open the door to the hotel balcony. I phoned the front desk. They were puzzled. "Close it," they said. "I did," I told them. "It just doesn't."

They sent a bellman up, and he shut the door, and discovered that it just didn't.

The winds of Barcelona blew through the bedroom and slammed closed the door to the hall. The rain blew in.

"Would you like a new room?" he asked, in the tone of voice of someone who hoped I'd say no, a nice breezy slightly wet room was just what I really really wanted. He knew I was English. It was worth a try.

I said yes, even though I was English I did want a new room, and he went downstairs and got me the key to the room next door, and went away before I could ask him to help me move. I hauled all my stuff into the room next door, and discovered that the hotel internet connection does actually work, just not in my old room.

I can hear the door next door blowing open and banging as I type this. It's loud, but it would be worse if I were still in there.


I forgot to mention the heckling yesterday, while I was being interviewed on Catalan radio, as two young men discovered that you can look in from the street straight into the studio, and watch people being interviewed. In this case, me, trying to figure out how to answer not-actually-questions from a REALLY enthusiastic interviewer, who had loved Coraline. "I think Coraline is very much about reflections, and mirrors." He would say, and I would say yes I supposed it was and talk about it for a bit, and then he would say "I think Coraline is a book that people of all ages will enjoy," and I'd say yes, I supposed it was, and go with that for a bit, and so on. First of all the two young men in the streets pressed their faces to the glass and tried to figure out if we could see them or not. They made faces. They pressed their noses and lips against the glass. They ran away and came back. They began to bob their heads up and down from beneath the window like demented puppets. They waved and banged on the window, trying desperately to get some reaction from us, or to throw us off.

Then they got even more imaginative. One of them, with the help of the other, even clambered up onto the window-sill, with a brilliant new idea for a way to definitely get our attention. None of this bothered the show's host, who had his back to them. Patricia from Salamandre, the PR, who was interpreting, was sideways on to them, and did her best to look away. I was facing the window, and was stuck with the view.

We finished the interview.

"Those boys," said Patricia, afterwards. "You'd think someone would have called security and made them go away. I couldn't look at them."

"They didn't actually manage to throw me off until the oral sex," I told her.

"Like I said," she said. "Somebody should have called security."


Today: more interviews and a signing at Norma for lots and lots and lots of very nice people, some of whom had come a very long way. Tomorrow I fly to Poland. (Potocki, I know, not Patocki. It was a slip of the finger.)

Mike Moorcock reviews Jonathan Carroll's WHITE APPLES in the Guardian. Actually lots of good stuff in the Guardian, including a Bill Gibson profile. (Which is really good, except for the stuff about Bill being "The American Ballard", which is a really odd metaphor. Although if that's true, then I suppose J. G. Ballard is the English William Gibson, which is an idea that makes me smile.


Several of you wrote in to tell me about other translations of the Arabian Nights that you prefer. I have the Burton (in a multitude of lovely volumes) and the Hussain Haddawy (which I like), and sure Sinbad and Aladdin may not belong in the Nights, but with all that, my favourite is still the four volume Mardrus and Mathers.

And some of you agreed with me, and had suggestions...

You've made my day by picking the Mardrus & Mathers translation of The Thousand Nights And One Night, as that's always been my favourite as well. Refreshingly blunt and not nearly as dry as Burton's. Huzzah.

One lil' thing though; the aforementioned translation IS in print; I picked up the first volume at a Barnes and Noble in paperback a year or so ago (Routledge was the publisher.) It's worth hunting around for at the local bookshop/megastore, if you don't feel like scrounging the internet for an old copy.

(And for the record, I got all four hardback volumes in near-mint condition from a very kind Ebay seller for the princely sum of 12 dollars; the paperback ones go for about $19.00 retail. Remember kids, Ebay is your friend.)

- B. Bolander


Not sure if you'll find this useful:
An entire website dedicate to airline meals, with pictures of airline meals from the 1960s, 70s and 80s which look pretty much exactly like the airline meals they still serve today, not useful? fie, sir. Some things need to be posted. Like this for example: One day it may save your job.

In your July 20, 2001 blogger entry you said that if enough of us went to the cbldf web site and purchased something that you would "go and find some goofy stuff sitting on the dustier bits of the hard disk and set up a "Goofy Stuff From the Dustier Bits of the Hard Disk" section of the website. Honest."
Did enough of us make a difference for you to put up some of that goofy stuff you were referring to?

Good question. I'll ask the Executive Director of the CBLDF, and get back to you on that one, probably at the very end of May. I suspect you did, actually.

Which reminds me: I'm starting to enter tee-shirt meltdown at home. There are too many black tee-shirts. Last time I decided that, I got fabric paint, signed a hundred or so and gave them to the CBLDF, who sold them at conventions. It seems to me that, given the internet, there has to be an easier way to get rid of them, and eBay seems so obvious (although they may well go to eBay in the end). If any of you have brilliant ideas for ways the CBLDF could make money out of me clearing out my tee-shirt drawers when I get home, send in suggestions.


There are lots of good wise questions and comments from people. But I'm tired and the door next door keeps banging.

And my theory about the two kinds of photographers will wait until another day, along with my comments on a book I finished reading in Portugal called Idlewild, by Nick Sagan. g'night.