Sunday, August 17, 2003

Blue Moon ice cream (Tasty world. Very Tasty...)

Holly leaves to go to college in about a week, so today we went off on a very small road trip together, down the Mississippi Valley. At one point we wound up at the Lark Toys Carousel, and we ate Blue Moon flavoured ice cream together.

I don't know what flavour Blue Moon is. (The only places I've encountered it were at the Lark toys place, and at the Baraboo CircusWorld Museum.) It's sort of vanilla-citrus flavour, is an extremely bright blue in colour and smells (Holly says) of fruit loops. I bought her a glow-in-the-dark rubber duck, and a new copy of a book I used to read her every night when she was tiny (Outside Over There, by Maurice Sendak, a book Maddy found much too disturbing and weird, when it was her turn to have it read to her.)

We had a wonderful time, in a quiet sort of ohmigodmydaughter'sactuallyleavingforcollegenextweek sort of way.


Dear Neil, I have read "The Wolves in the Walls" to my three year old daughter. We both enjoyed it very much. She has informed me that there are horses in our walls and that we need to use tools to open the walls up and have a look.
Please let me know if I should send the bill for damaged wallboard directly to yourself or to your publisher.

Let her know that she won't need to open them up and look inside. She just needs to wait until the Horses Come Out of the Walls...

Hello favorite author,
I will be attending the NY is Book Country thing which you are doing on the 20th (the day before my birthday), and was wondering whether you were reading AND signing, or just signing, and how many things you would sign for each person, etc. Oh, and ON my birthday the following day I see you are doing something with Mr. Speigelman at 92 and Y. Will that be a panel, just so I can organize my day around it. Thank you Neil.

Not a problem...

I'm reading and signing on the 20th, for anyone who has a ticket.

I'm signing on the morning of the 21st as part of the street festival.

I'm doing a panel with art spiegelman that evening at the 92nd St Y. (As part of the promotion for Little Lit 3 "It Was a Dark and Silly Night".) We'll be talking about writing for adults and for children. Not sure if there's a formal signing at this one -- I'd assume there isn't, if I were you.

As for what I'll sign for each person, it'll probably depend on how many people there are and how long they let me sign.

Dear Neil,

You're on the board of the CBLDF, so you'd know the answer to my question as well as anyone.

My question is in regards to the supreme court declining to hear the case of Jesus Costello. I am a cartooning student at SVA, the only college in the country with cartooning as a major. There are alot of students and faculty there, cartooning majors and not, that care deeply about comics. I was wondering if perhaps we could be of help in some way, by some form of petition perhaps. I was thinking something along the lines of writing the supreme court, letting them know that there really is a large, concerned group of americans who really think this ruling was wrong. I could easily get a large portion of the school involved in canvassing comic shops and getting signatures. It would be easy to get thousands of signatures. I know the CBLDF has pretty much chalked this up as a loss, though, so I was wondering if you thought this was a worthwhile endeavor at all. I just feel like I can't sit by as a citezen in a citezen-participatory government and let this happen. I have a great need to DO something about this. If you think I and my classmates could be of help, or have any reccomendations on how to go about it, I'd appreciate it.

Matthew Smith Bernier

Well, I can give you my answer -- it's not me speaking for the CBLDF, just a private individual, though.

The Jesus Castillo case is over. The Supreme Court is under no obligation to hear any case, and they've said no. Personally, I don't think that we ever had much chance to get the Supreme Court to hear this case (although I still think that it was a wrong thing that they refused to hear the Mike Diana case). It's done. It's not the end of the world. We got one entire case against him thrown out, he won't do jail time, the fine is paid, it could have been a lot worse.

It's a battle. It's not the war.

But yes, there are lots of things you can do. None of them are about the Jesus Castillo case directly.

The biggest one is, get yourself educated. The CBLDF's features page is a place to start. Follow the links...

Dave Marsh wrote an excellent book called "50 Ways to Fight Censorship", which is now out of print (although still floating around used). Here's the Amazon page for it. I wish some publisher would get Dave to update it, and bring it back into print.

You can get a pretty good idea of the approach that Dave Marsh was suggesting (and of things that you can do) with the chapter titles...

2. Register and Vote!
3. Send Your Senators and Congressperson Letters or Mailgrams.
4. Teach Your Children How to Know When Censorship Appears in the Classroom, or Elsewhere.
5. Oppose De Facto Censorship of the News Media by the Wealthy and Powerful.
6. Get Involved With Your Library.
7. Make Art That Fights Censorship.
8. Speak Out About Freedom of Speech at Schools, Churches, and to Youth Groups in Your Town.
9. Write a Letter to Your Local Paper in Defense of Free Speech.
10. Call Your Radio Station Talk Show.
11. Support Those Retailers Who Fight Against Censorship.
12. Read Banned Books. Read Everything About Censorship and First Amendment Issues.
13. Gather Information and News Clippings on Censorship and Send it to a Central Clearinghouse.
14. Buy Banned Records.
15. Write and Perform Songs About Free Speech and the Perils of Censorship.
16. Write Movie Moguls and Tell Them to Eliminate the MPAA Ratings Code.
17. Watch "The Simpsons" and Other Controversial TV Programs.
18. Contact Your Local Cable Outlet to Find Out if It's Being Pressured to Censor Its Programming.
19. Join the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
20. Join the Freedom to Read Foundation.
21. Stop the Attack on the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
22. Join Article 19.
23. Support the American Booksellers Association Foundation for Free Expression.
24. Get to Know the Censorship Groups. Study Their Literature, and Expose Them to Public Scrutiny.
25. Investigate the Tax-Exempt Status of Pro-Censorship Lobbying Groups.
26. Find Out Your State's Requirements for Purchasing Textbooks.
27. Run for Public Office On a Platform Supporting Freedom of Expression.
28. Write to Your Favorite Artists; Find Out What They're Doing to Help Preserve Freedom of Expression.
29. Make an Anti-Censorship Home Video Showing the Various Benefits of Free Speech in Your Community
30. Write About Your Positive Experiences with Art.
31. Become a Voter Registrar. Organize a Voter Registration Drive.
32. Form a Group That Establishes a First Amendment Litmus Test for Politicians.
33. Start an Anti-Censorship Petition Campaign.
34. Boycott Products Made and Marketed by Companies That Fund the Censors.
35. Start a Grassroots Anti-Censorship Organization.
36. Start an Anti-Censorship Newsletter.
37. Contact Local Arts and Educational Organizations; Persuade Them to Stage a Free Speech Events.
38. Set a Good Example by Starting a Parents Group to Combat Censorship.
39. Contact Local TV Stations and Propose a "Censored Films Festival."
40. Use Community Access Cable or Community Radio to Raise Awareness of Free Speech Issues.
41. Stage a Mock Trial on Censorship.
42. Sue the Bastards!
43. Create a Public Service Announcement to Be Aired Over the Radio.
44. Make Sure Local Schools Have a Course on Freedom of Speech.
45. Contact Others Concerned About Censorship--Use the Classifieds!
46. Talk to Teachers About What They're Doing to Ensure Free Speech.
47. Picket the Censors.
48. Have a Moment of Silence to Keep Speech Free.
49. Have a Speak Out Day.
50. Make the Real Obscenities the Real Issues.

(And yes, when he wrote the book, The Simpsons was indeed a controversial TV programme.)


Jess Nevins is annotating 1602 at


and lots of messages coming in that are more or less evenly divided between ones like this:

You write:
>And enough e-mails and messages come in from people who just like
>having it here (some of them read my books and comics, and some of
>them wouldn't if you paid them, but they like coming here and reading
>the journal) that I feel like it would be missed if I stopped.

I certainly enjoy reading it and would miss it. I am, on the other
hand, confident that the enjoyment of a new Neil Gaiman novel would
more than outweigh any sadness from missing journal entries. Therefore
I say that if putting the journal on hiatus would be needed in order
to write a novel (or even just would make it better) then by all means
do that. I'll understand, and I bet most of your other readers will too.

David Goldfarb

and ones like this:

DEAR Neil,I read the suicide girls interview & nearly died at the thought of not having this journal up for any long period of time. Then I thought well he has to do what he has to do & if in order to write a new novel that means no journal for awhile... I can certainly understand the need for no ,or rather less, distractions. Then I remembered how long it took you to write American Gods & started hyperventilating all over again! Now after having just read the latest journal entry by you it seems there's a CHANCE that it may not "go on hiaitus"....PLEASE,PLEASE,PLEASE don't take this journal away!!!!!! (that's my true heart's desire my sensible brain part will wrest control away long enough to say )- forgive me for asking anything of you because you already do give soooo much of yourself to your fans & God bless you for it,& if that's what you need to do I will understand & will survive...I will try...honest.....but,oh God!Please don't!!! (sorry)

Well, the next novel won't be as long as "American Gods". It's not that kind of book. Beyond that, I haven't really decided anything yet. And when I do, and if I do, I'll put it up here. So don't start hyperventilating yet. I'm still here. Unless, of course, I'm actually Tom Clancy. (I think I'd rather be me, really.)

Dear Neil,

Just in case you missed it going up today, Fantastic Metropolis has just posted Jeff VanderMeer's amazing Survey on the "Physicality of Books," where he interviewed about 70 authors, including you and me, by asking 5 questions about books and posting everyone's fun responses.

Here is the URL:

Vera Nazarian

...which was a good excuse to look at Fantastic Metropolis again. There are undoubtedly lots of you who won't care one way or another that Alan Moore's Jerry Cornelius introduction/essay/pastiche for Moorcock's "Firing the Cathedral" is up on line. But it made me enormously happy. I met Jerry in pretty much exactly the same way that Alan did, only I was 11, not 14...