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Friday, June 27, 2003

I also named Boston Brand's dog Pittsburgh, of course.

Dear Neil,
Thanks for your great journal. I try to check it every day and love the friendliness of it and general just chatting feeling. Question about the Goodies DVD. Did you get that here or is it from England and you have the fancy player that plays both regions? I went to school in England in the 70's and remember the Goodies. Mary Whitehouse and the film festival episode are 2 that I remember still. Just wondered. Thanks for your time if you get to this, Gail


I've got a fancy player -- http://www.dvdshippers.com/itemjaton7611k.html is the one I wound up with after a year's worth of DVDs almost playing on a Sampo 611 with a software hack. (Things stuttered. Region 1 protected things wouldn't play. It was a headache. The Jaton so far has played everything just fine, and allowed me to tape from UK DVDs as well. Dead useful.)

The Mary Whitehouse episode is on the "Goodies at Last" DVD. Maddy thought it was as funny as I did, for a completely different set of reasons.

Dear Neil,

I've noticed while reading through your various interview bits that you seem to hold some sort of grudge against Pittsburgh. Or, to be exact, you said you found it to be "weird and disturbing" the last time you were there, in 1989 (and also "dull", I believe). Now if I'm right, you were just in Pittsburgh again recently, for a comic convention at the Expo Mart in Monroeville. Has your opinion of the city changed any over the years? As a resident of Pittsburgh, I must admit I was pained to read your curt and somewhat dismissive assesment, especially as you are the creator of the greatest comic book of all time and thus, I hold you in high esteem. I am a little surprised by how defensive I'm feeling on this subject. After all, no one is more critical of a city than its residents, but perhaps that is a right reserved for residents alone. Either way, I've been to New York, I've been to LA, and I must say that Pittsburgh has a realness to it that is dreadfully lacking in the larger cities. Pittsburgh has 87 different sections, many of them retaining the same ethnic make up for almost 200 years. You can go to Polish Hill and get REAL perogies, made by little crooked Polish women. You can go to Bloomfield and eat the best veal parmigiana anywhere outside of Italy. We also have 1800 bridges and were voted the third best art city in the US. And it's all accessible. To paraphrase a conversation I had recently at the "Tiki Lounge" in East Liberty with a guy from LA:

Me: Nice bar, huh?

Guy: Bah! In LA we have twenty places like this.

Me: Yes, but can you find a parking spot right in front of them? Can you buy a beer for under $2? Can you watch three bands perform for no cover charge? Do they have a DJ who specializes in weird surf, monster, and novelty music from the past 100 years?

Guy: No.

Me: Then who cares?

As Neal Pollack said, Pittsburgh is the most rock and roll city in the world, if you can find its rock and roll places. And with that, I'll leave you to reconsider your position.

Sincerely,

Randall DeVallance


I don't think I've said anything rude about Pittsburgh in the last four years have I? I've mostly only spoken about it as somewhere that seems to have changed a lot, for the better, in the last fourteen years. When I was there for the first time (in 1989) I found it weird and depressing: walking into the dingy airport bathroom to find a large man beating the crap out of a much smaller man at 6:00am seemed like an appropriate sort of thing to see as you leave.

I'd forgotten I was there in 1993 for the Pittsburgh Convention... well, I didn't really enjoy the convention (in memory at least it was two days of sitting at a table and signing for a line of people which never seemed to get any shorter -- which isn't really my idea of a fun convention. They've probably improved it a lot since then,) or see anything of Pittsburgh except the convention and adjoining hotel.

Then I did the Onion interview reproduced on this site, in January 1999, in which I mentioned that I'd found Pittsburgh weird and disturbing in 1989, but when I went back to it a few weeks after the interview to sign for STARDUST, I found it cheerful, chipper, pleasant with a very impressive airport (and no beatings-up going on in the -- now clean and new and sparkly -- men's toilets), and completely useless for my fictional purposes. And I passed through there touring for American Gods and it remained a very nice place. (You know, I should go and make sure that Interviews on this site at least have dates on them. And having looked at the Onion interview, I'm not even sure that we had John or the Onion's permission to put it up on this site -- we should probably take it down and link it in to the version of the interview on the Onion site. Ah well. I'll stick it on the list of things to do...)

(John Krewson said that it would have been a much better interview if his tape recorder hadn't died half way through, and he hadn't been forced to sort of reconstruct it from memory and scribbled notes.)

...

Watching more MirrorMask dailies. It's really chilling and beautiful, and funny too. It's going to be gorgeous and accessible, and still look and feel like Dave McKean. It'll change how people do children's movies. (Well, maybe not. But it'll certainly expand people's horizons as to what you can do and how you can do it.) I'm used to giving scripts to Dave McKean and getting wonderful things back. It's just up until now they've been on paper.... (bounces happily.)

...

So, I said to Holly this morning, did I ever tell you about the circumstances of your birth?

Only every year, Dad, she sighed. On my birthday.

Ah well, I said, I'll tell you again, then.

And I did, but I improved it greatly this time. It included all the usual stuff about us driving to the hospital at great speed through narrow windy roads in a tiny battered MG Midget (with Mary, my wife driving, and me timing the contractions, on the sensible grounds that she felt safer driving, even when having contractions, than she would with an incredibly nervous me driving), but this time I added in mysterious flashing lights, and several small grey people who came and said "It is given to you to have a child who shall be the dawn of the master-race. And you shall call her Enid. Or Stephanie. I mean, both are nice names," and then got back into the glowing lights and vanished again.

Peculiarly, she didn't believe a word of it. Ah well. I've got another year to come up with something more convincing.

...

With regards to the secrecy surrounding 1602, I have to say that I rather like it! I really enjoy using my imagination to wonder just what you're going to have different characters in the Marvel Universe do, who those characters might be, what the title has to do with it, etc. Nowadays I think too much is revealed too soon about everything. Everyone with the slightest bit of fame or noteriety has their entire personal life on display for the world to see (important or not), movie trailers revealing so much (sometimes up to and including the ending) more than a year in advance of their release date...I don't know...I know I'm going off, but it just seems that no one respects or desires anticipation anymore...I guess I'm just trying to say that, speaking as a deep down devoted reader, fan, wordsmith and, well, let's face it, comic book geek...I'm wholeheartedly content to wait until the day I have my copy of 1602 in my hot little hands before I find out more than the new Neil Gaiman comic published for the first time ever by Marvel.

Jewels


Well, the 1602 cat is now out of the bag.... if you do want to learn a little more, http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=2406 has some images and a capsule description. And if you don't want to learn any more, I'll try and only put 1602 links to interviews and images up, and not actually talk about it here, until the first issue is out.
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