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Sunday, July 31, 2005

storms and teacups

Lots and lots of letters this morning along the lines of,

Hi Neil,

Just wondering whether you'd seen the BBC's piece today titled ' Pratchett anger at Rowling's rise': http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/arts/4732385.stm

Seemingly Terry was rather peeved by a panegyric to Rawling in 'Time' magazine (http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1083935,00.html), and wrote to today's 'Sunday Times' saying:

'WHY IS it felt that the continued elevation of J K Rowling can only be achieved at the expense of other writers (Mistress of magic, News Review, last week)? Now we learn that prior to Harry Potter the world of fantasy was plagued with "knights and ladies morris-dancing to Greensleeves."

In fact the best of it has always been edgy and inventive, with "the dark heart of the real world" being exactly what, underneath the top dressing, it is all about. Ever since The Lord of the Rings revitalised the genre, writers have played with it, reinvented it, subverted it and bent it to the times. It has also contained some of the very best, most accessible writing for children, by writers who seldom get the acknowledgement they deserve.

Rowling says that she didn't realise that the first Potter book was fantasy until after it was published. I'm not the world's greatest expert, but I would have thought that the wizards, witches, trolls, unicorns, hidden worlds, jumping chocolate frogs, owl mail, magic food, ghosts, broomsticks and spells would have given her a clue?'

Is this a complete storm in a teacup? Or is he venting a frustration felt by many a contemporary fantasist?

Hope all's well,

Greg Daly.

P.S. - on a wholly unrelated note, having once linked to William Shatner's remarkable rendering of 'Common People' on your site, have you ever seen his interpretation of Elton John's 'Rocket Man' at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards? You can watch it here: http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2654003?htv=12


Er, dunno. I read the Time article and thought it was astonishingly badly written and worse researched. The bit that puzzled me the most was that I remembered interviews with Ms. Rowling where she loved the Narnia books (it was a few seconds of Googling to find a 1998 Telegraph interview where she says, "Even now, if I was in a room with one of the Narnia books I would pick it up like a shot and re-read it.") as opposed to the Time version of 'Rowling has never finished The Lord of the Rings. She hasn't even read all of C.S. Lewis' Narnia novels, which her books get compared to a lot. There's something about Lewis' sentimentality about children that gets on her nerves.'

The version of the history of "fantasy" that the article's writer paints is utter bollocks, and I assume Terry decided that needed to be said. I didn't see it as a swipe at Ms Rowling, though, but as a swipe against lazy journalists -- but "Pratchett Anger At Shoddy Journalism" is a much less exciting headline than the one the BBC came up with.

(I remember when Terry said some very sensible and good-natured things about the power of fantasy at the Carnegie Medals (in this speech, read it first), the headlines were all along the lines of "Pratchett takes swipe at Rowling, Tolkien" [here's an example].)

Mostly what it makes me think of is the poem in Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest's NEW MAPS OF HELL, which went, from memory,

"SF's no good!" they bellow till we're deaf.
"But this is good." "Well, then it's not SF."


And it's an odd double-standard that applies to all genre work as much as to SF. It's always been easier for journalists to go for the black and white simplicities of beginning with the assumption that the entire body of SF (or Fantasy, or Comics, or Horror, or whatever the area is under discussion) is and always has been fundamentally without merit -- which means that if you like someone's work, whether it's J.G. Ballard or Bill Gibson or Peter Straub or Alan Moore or Susanna Clarke or J.K. Rowling -- or Terry Pratchett -- it's easier simply to depict them as not being part of that subset. I'm not sure that writing letters to the Times will ever fix that, though.

(And yes, I've seen the "Rocket Man"clip, and it was one of those things that sort of made me feel faintly embarrassed to be part of the race that produced it*. Not really funny, more sort of argh please scrub my mind out with wire wool. Especially when the third William Shatner comes out with his tie undone.)




*the human one, I mean.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Deja vu. Or anyway deja scrawled.

When I'm on the phone or watching TV at present I'm also signing sheets of paper that will be bound into the front of copies of ANANSI BOYS, one to each dumpbin per store, or at least for the first 5,000 dumpbins.

Last time I did this, for American Gods, some people were hitting the bookstores on the day of release, finding the signed copy and sticking it on eBay. But mostly they were a pleasant surprise for the people buying the books.

The sheets of paper say,


THIS LIMITED AND SIGNED
FIRST EDITION OF
ANANSI BOYS
BY
NEIL
GAIMAN
-
HAS BEEN
SPECIALLY BOUND AND PRODUCED
BY THE PUBLISHER

and beneath that is a line above which I scrawl my name. I faintly worry that people will think that the publisher has signed the book, and that it's not me. I've done about three and half thousand of them so far, since I've been back, and I found myself having a strange flashback to this journal on Friday the 13th of April 2001, the last time I did this, when I wrote:


Friday, April 13, 2001

"What's in that box you just opened?" asked my daughter.

"Pieces of paper," I said.

"It says American Gods on the box. I thought it was books."

"No. They're just title pages. 5000 of them."

"5000 in that box?"

"750 in that box. 4,250 still to come."

"Why are they sending them to you?"

"Because I have to write my name on them?"

"On all of them?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Because America is a very big place, and not everyone can get to a book signing. This way stores who order them will be able to sell a signed, limited edition for the same price as the regular ones, and so people in Texas or Florida or Utah will be able to buy signed books. See down at the bottom where it says 'This is a signed first edition of a limited number of 5000 copies.'? I'll sign above there, like this."

"Does that say 'Neil Gaiman?' It looks more like 'Nel Gurgle.'"

"It's how I sign my name."

"Will they take a long time to sign?"

"I expect so."

"When will you do it?"

"When I'm on the telephone. Or watching TV. Or listening to music. Or travelling."

"Can I sign some for you, to help?"

"I'm afraid not."

"I could write Nel Gurgle as good as you can."

"It has to be me."

"Oh. Okay then. Have fun. I'm going to ride my bike."

It doesn't look like Nel Gurgle anymore. Maddy thinks now it looks more like Ned Gun. She made no effort to offer to sign any for me this time, though.

I also remembered the next blog entry from back then,

I signed the sheets of paper for the limited edition from the box of 750 sheets. I signed and I signed. Eventually I asked my poor assistant if she wouldn't mind counting them, because I was sure I'd signed a lot more than 750 sheets. Turns out the box contained 2,500 of the things. Mostly I'm just signing them. Sometimes I'm drawing eyes, too. Very occasionally I've started doodling and drawing, mostly so far drawings of a very crusty Uncle Sam. And most of the time I'm using other colour inks than black, so that the people who pick them up don't go "Oh, they just print those signatures". They don't. It's me.

And so Lorraine and I counted out sheets of ANANSI BOYS paper until we knew what a stack of a thousand looked like, and we established that I'd been sent about seven and a half of those stacks. So I put two of the stacks away and have been signing the other five.

Pretty much all signatures, though. No drawings, this time except for an occasional doodle of a lime.
...
Hello Neil~I hope you're recovering nicely from your tour. I don't know how you do it. I've just finished Anansi Boys, being one of the lucky 450 or so in the U.S. to acquire a galley. I loved it. You are my favorite author for many reasons, one of which I love your incorporation of myths and gods into the real world. Anyway, enough buttering up. I did really enjoy the story.When American Gods came out, I preordered a signed first edition of AG from Dreamhaven--aka neilgaiman.net. Will they be doing the same for Anansi Boys? I unfortunately can't make it to any of your signings--they didn't send you anywhere near me, I'm afraid--and when I look on neilgaiman.net, there's a preorder available for two editions (it appears) of Anansi Boys, but doesn't differentiate between a signed and unsigned copy. Help?Thanks,Regina
I think they've been nervous at DreamHaven because they don't get the books in until Friday the 16th (they don't go onsale until Tuesday the 20th) and they weren't sure that I'd actually be able to sign them before leaving for New York.
Having said that, I've now promised I'll sign as many as I can for DreamHaven. They are keeping their current policy at http://www.neilgaiman.net/ship-sign.php which says that they aren't having me sign stuff... But they will have signed copies of ANANSI BOYS. (I need to talk to the people at DreamHaven now that I'm home to organise it.)
***
And here's the French Translation of this blog -- http://www.neilgaimanfr.blogspot.com/ -- and the Portuguese one at http://www.livejournal.com/community/neilgaiman_port/ -- my enormous thanks to both of the people who are doing them.
(More translations as they occur, and there's a list up at http://neilgaiman.com/journal/foreign.asp)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Jet lag city

Actually slept through the night last night, instead of through the morning and into the early afternoon, which gives me hope that I'm slowly returning to US time.

Let's see. Lots of people have written asking if Fred the Unlucky Black Cat was the inspiration for either the Black Cat from "The Price" or the cat in Coraline. I'm afraid not - Fred didn't turn up until the summer of 2003, long long after both stories were written. The cat in Coraline came out of my head -- we weren't allowed pets in the flat in Nutley, and I wanted a cat badly -- while The Black Cat was real (and about twice the size of Fred) and was around in about 1997. We found a good home for him eventually.

Yesterday's mail brought a proof of the US cover of ANANSI BOYS. I hadn't expected to like it as much as I do -- it's printed in metallic inks which make it look more otherworldly than I had expected, while the words are embossed in white, and it looks, well, a lot classier than I'd thought it would. I also got samples of the material they'll be using to make the book with -- the first printing of the book will have black boards (the hardcover material under the paper cover) all around and a sort of light violet endpapers, while later printings will have a black spine and indigo front and back boards, and greyish endpapers -- and there will be a small drawing of a seven-legged spider done (by me) in light blue foil on the front of the book, beneath the cover.

At some point on the last tour I remember explaining to some audience that you have to write, if you're going to be a writer, because elves won't do the work for you. Which is true, but, it seems, only up to a point. A few nights ago I was trying to finish up the work for the Headline uniform editions of my books, and, with no time left on the deadline, having wrapped up everything else I knew I still had to write introductions to their editions of American Gods and Neverwhere. I wrote the Neverwhere introduction while fighting to stay awake, then opened the American Gods folder, wondering how I was going to write an American Gods introduction in an hour with a head like a wobbly blancmange, and promptly discovered a file called something like "New Introduction to Headline Edition of American Gods", which I opened, slightly bemused. It was a complete introduction that, according to the line at the bottom, I'd written while on the plane from London to Singapore, and which, in all the madness of the tour, I suppose I must have completely forgotten about having written. This is slightly more likely than elves leaving it on the computer to get me out of a deadline jam, but only just.

Lots of people sending in links to me reading bits of Anansi Boys on the tour, and I'll round them up over the next couple of days, I think. (I don't know if Brisbane is up anywhere, which was my favourite reading and Q&A of the tour, mostly because I had a microphone, decent acoustics, and it was the last one.)

There's all this stuff I didn't have to think about on the last tour (American Gods 2001): people putting up audio feeds of each reading for example -- I tend to do readings in different ways. I think I did different bits of American Gods and Stardust, but the same bit of Neverwhere, while I only read from Coraline twice but each time I read the whole book, on their respective tours. For Anansi Boys I have to assume there are people who will be listening to each stop on the tour, so I need to decide which I'm going to do. The other thing that's changed is everyone has a digital camera or phone, and everyone wants a picture. On the last tour it was maybe one person in ten. Now it's nine out of ten, and I need to figure out how to make it so a) people get their pictures, b) it doesn't add a minute to each person (it may not seem much, but 500 people in the signing line would add 500 minutes to the signing, or a little over 8 hours...) and c) it doesn't blind me -- after 90 minutes in Manila on the first night we had to call a halt to flash photography because I was getting blinded, with one flash every few seconds, and it was starting to hurt, just behind my eyes...

Ah well. I'll figure it out, and I'm glad I had the recent tour to notice these things and to try out various solutions.

(One solution I've begun in advance, as of today, is start working out with a trainer three times a week, on the basis that that is the only way I shall actually survive a 20 day signing tour without a day off in pretty much a new city every day. Today was, well, it was a beginning.)

Lots of questions to answer and things to post, but that'll have to wait a few days while I catch up. Oh, and I opened the two boxes from Singapore today, of everything people gave me while I was there. Maddy seems to have snaffled the snake, the pig, the two goldfish and the stuffed shark, but left me with pretty much everything else. Lots of cool books in there that people gave me, including a few I wish I'd had when I was writing American Gods.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

slowly catching up

Having coped successfully with time change after time change as I stumbled around the world, I got home and it's all falling apart. Started falling asleep last night around 9.00pm, but would only sleep for a few seconds, then woke groggy but sure I'd slept for hours... finally fell asleep at 6.00am and slept until 1.30pm. Which means right now it's 5.00pm and it feels like lunchtime and I'm behind on everything. And I owe literally dozens of people phone calls...

A few quick follow ups to things:

Firstly, ANANSI BOYS got reviewed in the last of the for-the-book-trade publications, Booklist. It got a starred review, which is nice (and means that it was starred in all three publications). Again, a tiny spoiler removed.

BOOKLIST August 2005 STARRED Gaiman, Neil Anansi Boys
Gaiman exploits the conceit of his prizewinning American Gods (2001)��that the gods of America�s immigrant peoples are living in retirement, sort of, among us��for the purposes of a romantic screwball comedy seasoned with murder, magic, and ghosts. For feckless Fat Charlie Nancy��who actually was fat only between ages 10 and 14, during which period his mother left his father in Florida and took Charlie with her to England��his glad-handin�, practical-jokin� father has always been an embarrassment, and things just get worse after the old man croaks. At the interment, the neighbor lady tells Charlie he has a brother, and to ask a spider for him if he wants to get in touch. One drunken night back in London, Charlie takes the ludicrous advice. BLAM-O! Spider (that�s his name) arrives, steals his girlfriend (she thinks Spider�s Charlie, though they don�t look much alike), gets him terminated (and put under police suspicion by his embezzling boss), sets him bouncing between London and Florida by airplane and between our reality and that of ancient African animal-gods by s�ance, and has him winding up, after some pretty scary goings-on [...] on the Caribbean isle of St. Andrews. Charlie and Spider are, you see, their father�s sons, and since he was/is Anansi the trickster-god, they can pull some pretty nifty stunts, though Charlie takes awhile learning how. As for Gaiman, he�s the folksy, witty, foolishly wise narrator to perfection, drawing us into the web he weaves as skillfully as any . . . spider.

YA: Like a PG-13 comedy about love�and adventure.

I do like "a romantic screwball comedy seasoned with murder, magic, and ghosts" which is certainly what I was hoping to write. (And my love for films like It Happened One Night and His Girl Friday and Ball of Fire definitely crept in around the edges of the book.)

I really hope that publishers don't try to sell it as a thriller, or as horror, because it isn't really either, and people will just be disappointed.

...

I have often maintained that the group mind of readers of this blog between them know everything. Yesterday's question is here answered:

Neil, you are correct. The book is Hooligan a history of respectable fears by Geoffrey Pearson ISBN 0-333-23400-6. Yours etc Miles Curtis

Thanks, Miles.

GMZoe went as far as to go to SHADOWS IN EDEN and find Clive's quote:


This is the last page from Flame On! from Shadows In Eden:

...can I ask a question? Did anybody here ever cry reading a comic? Serious question. Tears down the cheeks, the whole lot? We go to movies, we get a whole bunch of responses from movies; we laugh, we cry, we get an adrenaline rush, you feel you really hate the villain, all those things. Now we've been making contrasts between movies and comics and all I'm asking is a simple question: in terms of the immediacy or gut response of comics, why do they consistently fail to... Well, I cry at books all the time, I laugh at books all the time, I dropped a book out of sheer shock, I have felt so sick at books I've had to put them down. In my years of reading I've read thousands of comics, seen thousands of movies: I get an effect of some kind or other beyond the fact I've spent time with the story, an emotional effect. (I take your point that this is not a definition of art, but it's a working definition of art.)
Now, I get an emotional effect from 60% of the movies that I see. That's a very conservative estimate, it's probably nearer 85%; very seldom do I walk out of a movie and say, "That was a total waste of time." The way I view comics (and this is not a pejorative) you can't do that [i.e. stimulate an immediate emotional response] with them, and if comics aspire to doing that they are going to fail because two other media at least - television and cinema - will always do it better.
*
The problem is this as I see it, the challenge is this: How can a comic strip become art without becoming art house?


And lots of you have written in to let me know that bits of Sandman made you cry -- but I wonder if they would have done if I hadn't taken that as something I needed to make happen, just as Clive's comment on making art without becoming "art house" went into the Making Sandman equation as well. It was a very good evening. (And the following day, in the same bar, I looked around at all the authors and editors and thought "I wonder if serial killers ever have conventions like this?" and then had to wait over a year until I could write the story, terrified that other people would do it first.)

...

Over at eBay, Michelle, the wonderful Mistress Mousey, has, inspired perhaps by the Endless Doc Martens Boots that were made for Fiddler's Green created a line of Endless Skirts, as a fundraiser for the CBLDF.

(I should say that I saw her in one of her skirts at Continuum in Melbourne, and she looked amazing, and that my assistant Lorraine has practically started working for Michelle ever since Michelle sent her and Malena skirts. You can read about it at Lorraine and Malena's blog -- http://www.lorraineamalena.blogspot.com/, a blog that started out promisingly as an examination of two musicians working together and creating an album of beautiful music, but now seems, frankly, to have devolved into photographs of ladies in tight corsets, much to the disappointment of music lovers internationally.) (Miss Lorraine says I should say here that the CD will be out soon and they will get back to their regularly scheduled programming, and that I'm just jealous because they have a corset deal and nobody ever offers me expensive fountain pens to model.)

If you, or a loved one, wants a Delirium skirt, or a Despair skirt, or any of the other five, and it's all going to a good cause that really needs your money (thanks to http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000261.shtml) then go and click on,

http://cgi3.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewUserPage&userid=bafog1

...

Send me links for translated versions of this website and I'll put them up. In the meanwhile, here's a chthulpoid commentary... http://www.livejournal.com/users/gaiman_cthulhu/
...


I realize you were out of the country at the time, but I just learned (apparently a week after everyone else as usual) that legendary DC artist Jim Aparo passed away on the 20th. See http://www.sequart.com/news/index.php?story=578 for details on sending condolences and best wishes to the Aparo family. This hit hard for me, as he was my favorite comic artist after Eisner. In fact, I liked him so much that I had a tattoo of the Joker made from one of his comic panels. To lose both these greats in one year is very saddening.

I agree. I firmly believe that Jim's work in the early 70s (the last year on Aquaman, the Phantom Stranger run with Len Wein, many of his Brave and Bolds) was as good as anything in comics, and was thrilled that, when Bob Schreck asked me who I'd like to draw the Phantom Stranger page in the Superman-Green Lantern story I did, and I asked for Jim, he consented to do it -- he was almost retired at the time. So I got to write one page of comics for Jim Aparo, and it had the Phantom Stranger on it, and I was happy. He was my first "favourite artist", before Neal Adams, before Bernie Wrightson...

I wish I'd met him.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Photographic evidence

Several people have written in accusing me of making things up. Books and stories and so on are fine, it seems, but mice who hide spaghetti in Mini engines was obviously going too far.

Luckily, while I removed the greater part of the spaghetti yesterday, I did not remove all of it, so I was able to nip out with my little Nokia phone and snap a picture of the remains of the engine spag:




...and the immediate subsequent arrival of Fred The Unlucky Black cat in the engine, because, I suspect, it all smelled rather mousy in there, was also then documented, for a sense of scale and so that this blog can finally, after four and a half years, be a proper one with a photo of a cat on it. Spaghetti remains can be seen just beneath him...



For those who have any doubt, I'm afraid this journal is still non-fictional. (And my guess is the spaghetti came from the compost heap, just behind the garage.)

Ok, in this thead on the Rue Morgue discussion forum - http://www.rue-morgue.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=10223 - on emotional response to comics, the following claim was made.

"So, a friend of mine( an EXTREMELY reputable source and my best friend) met with Neil Gaiman once and got to discussing his relationship with Clive Barker.

"Neil was quoted as saying that his "friend Clive" never considered comic books a relevant artform, because they couldn't make you cry.

"Take this as you will, obviously I'm not looking for attacks on him."

This struck me as rather dubious and out of character. Can you please confirm or deny this? Thank you very much.


Well, it's more or less true, except for the fact that Clive's being misquoted and the context is omitted, and context is, of course, everything.

I'm pretty sure that's actually someone talking about me discussing an interview I did with Clive from November 1988, at World Fantasy Con in London (and the bar conversation afterwards) for Steve Jones's excellent book on Clive Barker Shadows In Eden, where we were talking about the strengths and limitations of comics, because Clive, who loves comics and knows his comics well, had already had a number of comics adapted from his work, so we were talking about the various Books of Blood adaptations, and the way Bernie Wrightson drew werewolf legs, and why Clive wanted to be the Human Torch when he was younger. And one thing that Clive said -- and I think it's in the book -- was that he felt that, for all their strengths, comics didn't connect in the same way that books and movies did, because he would cry in some books and movies, but had never cried even while reading comics he adored. But obviously Clive felt and thought, even seventeen years ago when the view was that of a minority, that comics were a "relevant art form" or we wouldn't have been doing the interview in the first place.

At the time I was just starting out as a comics writer -- the first issues of Sandman and Black Orchid were a month away from being published -- but it definitely left me wondering whether or not I could write a comic that might be able to get people to cry, to make that emotional connection -- which is yet another debt that I owe the inestimable Mr Barker (actually the best thing I learned in that conversation was when he pointed out that if you're in an argument with lots of people and you want to make them listen, it's much better to get quieter than to get louder. And it's very true).

Neil,
I don't remember seeing you mention the International Edible Book Festival (http://www.books2eat.com/) in your blog, but it seems like the sort of thing you would like. Cheers!


And by jove, it is.

Here's some information about the Chicago ANANSI BOYS event:


Dear Neil,

As a Napervillain, I visited my local Anderson's Booksellers to find out about your visit. This is what I was told:
1) Tickets are required only if one wishes to get something
signed.
1a) Tickets will be handed out at the door on a
first-come-first-served basis.
1b) Priority tickets will be given to those who
purchase Anansi Boys from Anderson's. Pre-
orders being taken now.
2) if one just wishes to be at the reading and not get
anything signed you won't need a ticket.

Apparently I was the first person who asked (2 mos. away, go figure) and there was a modicum of calling on phones and whispered discussions before they were able to answer me so let's hope the above is correct. I did pre-order my book but they wouldn't take money until the books physically came in. So much for being No. 1.

- mike lee


Napervillian, surely? And finally, this came in,

Hi Neil,
I saw you at Continuum 3, and you mentioned a book on crime in the Gods and Monsters panel that said that the common conception is, "35 years ago, the streets were safe, 60 years ago was the golden age". I was interested in the book and wondered whether you knew the title and/or author's name so I could hunt it down.
regards,
Danika.


and, with no memory of the book's title other than if it didn't have the word Hooligan in it ought to have done, but with a good memory of the book jacket and where the book ought to be, and a perfect memory of the blurb, I just went downstairs and spent a good half hour failing to find it. Having said that, I did find all the books I've failed to find the last few times I've gone looking for books and failed, like the bird books for the official bird lady of Neilgaiman.com, and a bunch of archy and mehitabel related stuff I need to send to H. Campbell in Australia, which I discovered sitting bizarrely and coincidentally next to a mis-shelved copy of her ancestor E. Campbell's Alec: The King Canute Crowd.

So either someone will write to me and let me know what book I was talking about, or more likely I'll bump into the book in question the next time I go looking for something totally different. And then I'll be unable to remember who it was wanted it or why....

Monday, July 25, 2005

the whole mice and spaghetti question

Home. Tired. The garden has turned into a fecund jungle in my absence, and when I opened the bonnet (that's the hood for Americans) of my Mini today it was apparent that mice (I presume) have a) stripped some of the insulation from under the bonnet of my Mini to build nests with, which I suppose I can understand, and b) found a convenient space near the car battery to use as a place to store spaghetti, which I find somewhat stranger. Why do mice need a place to store spaghetti anyway? It's all a bit surreal, but then everything is sort of surreal right now.

Some of the garlic I was growing had flowered and gone to seed in my absence. I picked the seedheads with a vague idea of putting them into oil or something, and then, an hour later, stuffed a chicken with them and a lemon, and put it on to roast. Then I watched an episode of Bewitched with Maddy, who was very happy to have me home, without exactly falling asleep. Discovered that garlic seedheads make roast chicken a very good thing.

Lots of messages from people who would like to do translated blog things (go for it -- there's no format, but if you do set up a new blog/journal for it, rather than putting it in with your own, it at least gives me a clean URL to point people to). Lots of messages from people wanting answers (to the person in the Philippines who was very worried about forgery, no, those are both my signatures. I tend to do the 1602 signatures differently from the others, with all the vaguely Elizabethan curlicues underneath, because, er, it seemed like a good idea at the time).

Lacking the energy to answer the questions waiting for me, I shall refer you to a page of further unanswered questions at Snopes.com http://www.snopes.com/humor/question/urgent.asp and now I shall either sleep, or just stare at the ceiling vibrating gently and wondering about mice and spaghetti and cars.

PS. Just changed the time on the blog back to US Central. Suspect I've now mucked up all the RSS feeds. Apologise if this is the case.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

...and it's goodbye from him

The next time I get on a plane, I shall get off at home. You have no idea how happy that makes me.

I think I really like Tokyo, and the next time I come back here it will be for longer. (Maybe for Worldcon 2007 -- although that's in Yokahama. But Yoshitaka Amano is the artist guest of honour...)

When I mentioned I'd be stopping over here lots of nice people wrote to offer hospitality, and last week I forwarded them all to my assistant Lorraine and told her to pick someone, so she did, and yesterday afternoon I got to wander the streets of Tokyo with Ms. Terri MacMillan (I don't know if there was something in particular about her letter that Lorraine liked or if it was just that she was the first to offer) because I really needed to walk and look at people after all that time on the plane, and we saw the COSplayers (among other things) and ate nice sushi and I was back in my hotel to sleep by around 8.30 pm...

I was going to work but instead I slept.

Terri mentioned that it was a pity that this blog wasn't up in Japanese, and while it took me a little by surprise that anyone would want to read it in any other languages but English, I gave it a ponder, and eventually concluded "Well, I know I'm currently translated into about 30 different languages, and it's quite possible that some of the people around the world would like to read about authors cleaning up cat vomit at 3 in the morning," but I wasn't sure how it could happen.

And then I thought, well, there are probably people out there who might want to give it a try, if only to exercise their language skills.

So if you feel like translating this blog, or selections from it, into any other language than English, then feel free. The only condition is that you translate as best you can and don't stick your own opinions etc in, or add exciting adventures for me where I don't have any in the original (and if you need to add stuff to make sense, then make it clear what's yours), and that, like the original, it's non-commercial, so you can't make people pay to read it.

I don't know how interesting it'll be, or whether anyone will want to keep it up for long -- but if you have any urge to translate this blog or its archives into Japanese, Mandarin, French, Greek, Israeli, Arabic, Portuguese, Italian, Korean, Finnish, Tagalog, Estonian or any other language, then go for it. (Yes, the copyright in the blog remains mine.)

I'll have our new webmistress, Kelly Jones (who has replaced the wonderful Julia Bannon) put a webpage up at Neilgaiman.com with links to foreign language versions of the blog, if anyone decides to try it. Oh, and you have to speak both English and the language you're changing it into, and not try and do it with babelfish or google translator. Using google translator back and forth, incidentally, the last sentence of the cat vomit post came out: I have something immaculateness, which retards from the carpet of the night, which, I must begin back.

Admiral Jack Womack of Harper Collins sends more information on two of the signings (Chicago and one of the Bay Area ones) from the ANANSI BOYS tour:

Friday, September 30 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO & BAY AREA
Cody�s
At the First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way
Berkeley, CA
510-559-9500

CHICAGO AREA
Anderson's Bookshop Presents
Neil Gaiman
Thursday, September 22, 7:00 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.
Pfeiffer Hall at North Central College
310 E. Benton Avenue, Naperville, IL 60540
Tickets are required (and FREE)*


The best thing about doing the offsite readings/Q&As and signings is that people can sit down instead of standing for several hours...

Okay. Breakfast, then airport.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Tokyo

Outside my hotel window is somewhere that looks astonishingly like Tokyo, and in the hotel room's bathroom is a toilet with a control panel jutting out of one side, rather like the kind of thing starship captains have, which I find faintly troubling.

Having left Melbourne at 3.00 pm yesterday and arrived on Japan at 7.00 this morning I need to unpack, to recharge my iPod, to have a bath and to nap, because the world is feeling faintly odd right now, as if I'm walking around in a bouncy castle.

I just weighed myself in the hotel bathroom, and discovered, to my gloomy not-surprise, that a month on the road with barely any exercise, lots of sitting and signing, and every meal in a restaurant or hotel, means I've put on a good ten pounds since I left home. So when I get back (tomorrow!) I need to

a) lose the weight I've put on (not really hard)
b) start exercising (not really hard either and helps with (a))
c)make a plan for how to survive the US leg of the signing tour without getting as hellishly zombified as I got on this one and also plan to keep exercising in hotel rooms and figure out some way not put on another ten pounds despite the fact I'll be doing the same sort of tour only with American-size meals on my plate (a bit harder but not impossible) and then
d) actually stick to the plan from (c) (extremely hard).

My assistant the Fabulous Lorraine has gone and found me a personal trainer for when I'm home, and I'll report back on how that works and whether it works.

Speaking of exhaustion, nice article/interview at The Age (the Melbourne paper) at this link. You'll need to register or bugmenot to read it.

While at http://news.inq7.net/lifestyle/index.php?index=2&story_id=44509&col=122 there's a summary of my trip to the Philippines. (I just wish I'd read all the books on Filipino mythology before I went there, rather than on planes across Australia.)

Hi Mr. Gaiman, or Neil we're not sure what to say. We are Alex and Callie. We're both twelve and living in Ontario (we are just introducing ourselves so you dont think we're strange by calling ourselves "we.") We have a question, and if the answer is no, we have a suggestion to make. We both loved your book Coraline, and each read it countless times, and wondered if you had considered making it into a movie. Again, if the answer is no we DO think you should team up with Tim Burton to make it into one. Why Tim Burton you ask? Tim Burton's style would complement your way of writing, and Coraline's creepy yet wonderful adventure. We would love it if you would consider this, and we know alot of others who would as well. We've also put a lot of thought into the cast. If you want to know who we had in mind, please reply to our question also with a question, if you get our drift. Thanks for keeping us entertained with literature, and for reading. Sincere and hopeful Callie and Alex (and callie rhymes with Sally, for a pronunciation check.)

Dear Callie and Alex,
well, Coraline is now officially in production. And it's not by Tim Burton, but it is by the man who directed Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mr Henry Selick. It will have songs by They Might Be Giants. According to this article -- http://www.timeout.com/film/news/540.html -- it will probably be out sometime in 2007.

Hi Neil,

Congratulations on finishing your tour. I'm sure you must be aching to get back to your family and garden. Just thought you'd like to know, the trailer of Mirror Mask is now available at Apple.com. For the fans who were unable to see past the crowds during your sneak preview on your tour stops, here is the URL: http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/mirrormask.html

We can't wait. Have a good trip home and please send my regards to Eddie Campbell whose work on From Hell still gives me that wonderful feeling of dread.

Karlo S.
Philippines


Oh good. Eddie and his family were, as always, wonderful. I was just sad that I didn't have longer there.

You are coming to LA in october I just saw. I read in Poppy's diary a while ago about the rules that go at signing sessions. But I wanted also to check in with you. What is the maximum amount of books you will sign for one person? Is it ok if you are in LA for two days to come both of these days and get one or two books signed each time or is that very rude for your other fans? Thanks you in advance for your answer and your time !

I don't think it's wrong to show up on different days, although because the LA Sunday signing is at the bookfair it will only last for an hour, because that's how bookfairs work. (What this will mean in practise is that people will have to decide whether to see me talk or get a book signed afterwards, I expect.) The Vromans signing on the saturday will go on until everyone's done.

The current plans for the tour are that I'll sign as many copies of ANANSI BOYS as you get (in case you're getting copies as presents for friends and family) and two additional things you bring with you.

Different shops will have different rules, so the most important thing is to check with the bookshop early. For example, I just got an email from Troy at Joseph-Beth booksellers in Charlotte, which I'll reproduce here in full as an example of how one shop is organising the signing:


People are encouraged show up between 5 and 5:30 so that all pre-orders can be retrieved for the attendees since the books will have just officially gone on sale the day prior.

We are selling pre-order vouchers of the book. Each pre-order will be accompanied with a Group Ticket Letter. Early pre-orders will have Group 'A', then 'B,C,D'...so the earlier the purchase the earlier that group gets called to get in the line for the signing portion at the end of the event. Pre-orders can be purchased over the phone and held for the event. If the person is coming for the event they can pick it up the 20th or 21st, if they are picking it up after the event please tell us how it should be personalized or if it should be signature only.

The event will start at 6pm with a 15-20 minute reading from 'Anansi Boys', then 15-20 minutes of Q&A with the signing following immediately after it's conclusion.

Neil will be happy to sign as many copies of 'Anansi Boys' that an individual wishes to purchase, but will limit to two the number of additional items a person might bring with them, in addition to the new book.

Hopefully this will help everyone out there planning to attend.


The only thing I'd want to point out is "tell us how it should be personalised" means Would You Like Someone's Name On It? and Is It A Birthday Or Wedding Present? It's not an invitation for you to leave a message saying "Please have Neil copy out the attached Shakesperian Sonnet on the dedication page and then do a drawing of a cat learning German irregular verbs and underneath that write Dearest Alexandra, do not give up on your studies, who knows what will happen if only you follow your dreams, also please try to listen to your parents more and would it kill you to tidy your room once in a while?"

Really wondering now about your meeting with Eddie Campbell. Last thing I saw by him was in the recent The Escapist No. 6 (80 Page Giant: Gregarious Gregory), which contains the required reading of Will Eisner's last graphic work. But ever since Campbell's case of Egomania cleared up, we have been left wondering if he's tired of dusting his wine bottles or is finally "up to something" or can be compelled to be up to something by a certain mop-haired Minnesotan. Surely he's producing one of his "Alec the Artist" type books, maybe After the Snooter II: The Armageddon?Gregory from Midd Tenn

One of the best things about seeing Eddie is getting a sneak peek at upcoming Campbelliana, in this case the next Alec book, of which Mr Campbell said, in a recent communication:

...the book is called 'The Fate of the Artist' and tell him it's all finished and ready to come out next march/april and it's the dog's bollocks.

Having read it, I can assure you that it truly is the dog's bollocks. (Note: while Bollocks means literally testicles and less literally rubbish, you may be pleased to hear that The Dog's Bollocks means exceptionally good. If you don't believe me, look at http://english2american.com/dictionary/b.html.)

Finally, anyone who reviews comics, or comments on comics, or thinks they might one day write about or review comics in a newspaper has to read Jessa Crispin's pithy tirade first. It starts with 1. �They�re not just for kids anymore� is not an original, interesting, clever or even remotely intelligent opening statement. You�re recycling a decades-old stereotype, akin to declaring �Novels: They�re not just for ladies of leisure anymore� in a review of a �real� book. And it goes on from there.

Okay. To the bath. At least that doesn't have a control panel.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hah! I'm done! It is over! (for 6 weeks anyway)

It's over! I don't have another tour until the actual ANANSI BOYS tour in September, by which time I trust that my hand will no longer feel like it's been signing 3000 things a day...

So. Got to Brisbane. Slept from the moment I got onto the plane until the moment, shortly before landing, when the plane did one of those extreme stomach-plunging momentary drops, which proved good for waking me up.


Then did an interview with Flora from Headline which will go into the back of the new pretty uniform Headline editions of the books which come out when ANANSI BOYS comes out. (They'll look pretty much like the ones I've put up here, although they won't all have the same Bill Gibson quote on the front.










Then on to the Pulp Fiction signing, which was probably the most fun of all the tour, although I suspect the fact that it was the last had a lot to do with that. It ended at around 12.30 and a fine time was had by all.

Just about to check out of my odd hotel (it's the Conrad Treasury, an upmarket hotel in the former treasury offices, and the bedrooms feel like large, posh, wood-panelled government offices with beds in).

Off to stay with, and spend time with, Eddie Campbell and his family now.

......................................................

And in case any of you are wondering what I'm going to be doing in late September...

The day before my tour starts, I do this:


Monday, September 19
7 PM, Peter Jay Sharp theatre at Symphony Space
2537 Broadway (at 95th Street), New York, NY
Tickets: $18 (Members: $15; Students/Seniors: $16)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke
Interviewed by Neil Gaiman
Selections read by Christina Pickles
Monday, September 19 @ 7:00 pm (Peter Jay Sharp)

Susanna Clarke discusses her remarkable debut novel, the BookSense Book of the Year, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell with her friend, novelist Neil Gaiman. Information: (212) 864-1414, or visit www.symphonyspace.org, or e-mail info@symphonyspace.org.


and that will be followed by,


ANANSI BOYS: THE TOUR


Tuesday, September 20 6:00 PM EDT
NEW YORK CITY
Barnes & Noble #2675
33 E. 17th Street
New York, New York
212-253-0810

Wednesday, September 21 6:00 PM EDT
CHARLOTTE
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
South Park Mall
4345 Barclay Downs Drive
Charlotte, NC
704-602-9800

Thursday, September 22 7:00 PM CDT
CHICAGO
Anderson�s Booksellers
(TK)
630-355-2665

Friday, September 23 6:00 PM EDT
BOSTON
Harvard Bookstore
At the First Parish Church Meeting House
3 Church Street
Cambridge, MA
617-661-1515

Saturday, September 24 (Time to come) EDT
WASHINGTON, DC
National Book Festival 10 AM � 5 PM
The National Mall between 7th Street and 14th Street NW
Fiction and Fantasy Pavilion
Washington, DC
www.loc.gov/bookfest/

Sunday, September 25 7:30 PM EDT
WASHINGTON, DC
Borders #45
5871 Crossroads Center Way
Bailey�s Crossroads, VA
703-998-0404

Monday, September 26 7:00 PM CDT
AUSTIN
Bookpeople
603 N. Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX
512-472-4288

Tuesday, September 27 7:30 PM MDT
DENVER
Tattered Cover Bookstore
1628 16th St.
Denver, CO
1-800-833-9327

Wednesday, September 28 7:30 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO & BAY AREA
Kepler�s Books
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA
650-324-4321

Thursday, September 29 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO & BAY AREA
Michael Chabon & Neil Gaiman in Conversation
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA
415-927-0960

Friday, September 30 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO & BAY AREA
Cody�s
2454 Telegraph Ave.
Berkeley, CA
510-559-9500

Saturday, October 1, 12 Noon PDT
SAN DIEGO
Mysterious Galaxy
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA
858-268-4747

Saturday, October 1, 7:00 PM PDT
LOS ANGELES
Vroman�s
695 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA
626-449-5320449-5320626-449-5320626-449-5320

Sunday, October 2 2:00 PM PDT
LOS ANGELES
In Conversation with Neil Gaiman
Book signing @3:00 PM PDT at Golden Apple booth
West Hollywood Book Festival 10-6 PM
West Hollywood Park
647 N. San Vicente Blvd. (across the street from the Pacific Design Center)
West Hollywood, CA
323-848-6515

Monday, October 3 7:30 PM PDT
PORTLAND OR
Powell�s
At First Congregational Church
1126 S.W. Park Ave.
Portland, OR
503-228-4651

Tuesday, October 4 7:00 PM PDT
SEATTLE
University Bookstore
At University Temple United Methodist Church
1415 NE 43rd Street
Seattle, WA
206-634-3400

Wednesday, October 5 7:30 PM PDT
VICTORIA, CANADA
Victoria Conservatory of Music
Alix Goolden Performance Hall
907 Pendora Ave.
Victoria, British Columbia
250-595-4232

Thursday, October 6 (TK)PDT
VANCOUVER, CANADA
(TK)

Thursday, October 6 7:00 PM PDT
VANCOUVER, CANADA
(In Connection with the Vancouver International Writers Festival)
Magee Secondary School
6360 Maple Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
604-681-6330

Saturday, October 8 (TK) EDT
TORONTO, CANADA
(Details still to come)

Monday, October 10 6:30 PM CDT
MINNEAPOLIS
Musicland
Mall of America
60 E. Broadway
Bloomington, MN
www.mallofamerica.com



I've just noticed the extreme lack of days off, which is odd because I thought I had at least one at some point in there...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

penultimate day

Tonight I think I moved past tiredness and into genuine exhaustion. Mostly just pleased that tomorrow night is the final stop on the tour. Everyone was very nice, both at the lunchtime reading and signing, and this evenings, but I can feel I'm running out of steam, like a kettle left on the stove too long.

Brisbane tomorrow, and then a day off, and then I set out for home.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Slough of Desmond

Let's see -- Continuum 3 is over. Poppy put her impressions up on her journal. She also told the story of how she built me a helicopter.(http://www.livejournal.com/users/docbrite/257542.html) I enjoyed the con very much, but felt a bit awkward -- I'd expected a con more like previous Australian conventions I'd been to, with lots of hanging around at the bar and by the end of which I'd know absolutely everyone there and, quite often, their family. This con had almost 500 people, though, and so the hanging around and just catching up with the world didn't really happen. I got to catch up with lots of old friends though, and Medge and Bean were my support team, something they've done several times before, and they do it so well, and I wanted to thank them here.

(Incidentally, here's an article in The Age, notable mostly perhaps for Danny Oz's halo and assorted background thingies in the accompanying picture.)

I was given a black scarf, knitted during the convention, at the end of it, and I've been wearing it pretty much ever since as it was bracing in Melbourne and seriously chilly in Canberra.

Oh, and

Hi Neil - In one of your panels at Continuum you mentioned Lucy Clifford's eerie stories and how difficult it is to find them. Research geek that I am, I had a hunt round and turned up a site at http://www.geocities.com/orwellus/rhenetheist.html which has all of "The Anyhow Stories" (including "Wooden Tony", which was originally in a different anthology, "The Last Touches", but was included in later reprintings of "The Anyhow Stories". The stories do appear to have been scanned, and OCR being what it is, there are some typos - but they're better than nothing.It was really lovely to meet you and thank you so much for all your time at the con. I hope your hand's not too sore from all the signings! Cheers, Zoe


Which for us Lucy Clifford fans is excellent news. (I have a copy of the stories, photocopied for me by China Mieville, but I'm so happy they're online for everyone.)


The last thing I did on Sunday night was change hotels to the Westin. Yesterday -- Monday -- was a day of interviews, starting around 8.30 am, and I slowly realised I was getting more and more tired. Finally slept for an hour before the Library event, because everything was getting foggy, and woke up unfoggy enough to talk to the people and then to sign and sign.

Like every sold-out library event I've done in the last few years, there were still some empty seats and the people who came along and chanced a standby all got in. (So it's definitely worth turning up at even sold-out events.)

After, a small knot of us went out and ate, and then I was introduced to Chloe, a painting that is the pride of Melbourne. And then back to the hotel at midnight.

I really like Melbourne, which is the only major city in Australia I'd not previously visited. It feels welcoming. Nice art and architecture, wonderful food, and good people.

Up early this morning to do phone interviews with the US, mostly talking about MirrorMask, and the MirrorMask prequel story that Tokyopop will be doing. One interview ended early, and I ate a hasty breakfast, and then once the interviews were done I scurried around packing my bags to head out for the airport.

It's the bags that are the worst part of being on the road for a month. I can find things at the start of a tour. By the end, everything's been thrown in and out of bags a hundred times and I can't find anything at all.

Off to Canberra. Slept on the plane.

Then did a signing that was really fun and felt like I'd taken a time machine ride back to the old days -- less than a hundred people, I think, and I got to do a small reading and chat to everyone who wanted to chat while I signed, and it wasn't a gruelling marathon. Then to the university, where I read another bit of ANANSI BOYS -- the room was about 2/3 full, which again gives me hope that Sydney and Brisbane may be easier to cope with.

Truth to tell, I was expecting the whole of the Australian end of the trip to be quiet and relaxing, and today was the first day that I felt like my batteries were actually going to get to recharge.

On the other hand I'm sitting here hastily blogging while waiting for a room service breakfast to arrive at quarter to midnight, because it was the only thing on the menu I could muster any enthusiasm for.

In case anyone doesn't know, here are the details on the last three events:

Date: Wednesday 20th July
Time: 12:30pm-3pm
Format of event: Signing Session
Enquiries tel no: 02 9267 7222
Email: sf@galaxybooks.com.au
Venue:
Galaxy Bookshop
143 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Cost: None
Are bookings required: No, BUT, we are expecting a lot of people for this event, so arrive early and please be patient. Please bring no more than 3 ITEMS to be signed.


Date: Wednesday, 20 July
Time: 5:30pm
Format of event: Straight signing session
Enquires tel no: 02 9262 7996
Venue:
Books Kinokuniya
Level 2, The Galeries Victoria
500 George Street
Sydney, NSW
Cost: Nil
Are bookings required? Bookings essential. Please call 02 9262 7996 to reserve your spot. Please be patient. Please note only 3 items per person can be signed.


Date: Thursday 21st July
Time: 7.00 for 7.30pm
Format of event - Neil to talk, do a bit of a q&a, then sign (3 ITEMS per person). His new book, MIRRORMASK on sale, along with backlist and we're taking preorders - at a special, discounted, on-the-night price for ANANSI BOYS.
Enquires tel no: Pulp Fiction Booksellers, 07 3236 2750
Venue:
The Atrium,
Anzac Square Building (Pulp Fiction's building!),
Edward Street
Brisbane
Cost: $15.00 - food and wine provided.
Are bookings required? ESSENTIAL!!! Ticketed event - admission by ticket only!!! Please note only 3 items per person can be signed.


and I plan to read different bits of ANANSI BOYS at each event, whenever they'll let me. I'm enjoying working out which bits I like reading aloud.

....

There are two things that are cool in this article -- http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050719/latu076.html?.v=18 -- and they are

1) you get to see the opening of Henry Selick's Moongirl online. Henry told me he was playing with CGI stuff, and was planning on using it along with stop motion in CORALINE, and I was doubtful, but it's lovely.

2) LAIKA Entertainment, which will produce animated films in the $50 to $70 million dollar range, has greenlit Coraline, based on the Hugo Award-winning, international bestselling children's book by Neil Gaiman. Henry Selick will direct the feature length CGI animated project, which LAIKA will produce in association with former Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairman and CEO Bill Mechanic and his Pandemonium films.

Which means I currently have two films in production and greenlit, Beowulf and Coraline. Fun.

Neil,If reviews of Anansi Boys are coming out now, how come the book isn't being released till mid September?-Aaron

Those are reviews for the book trade, not for the public. The reviews for the public will come out in September.


...

Mr Gaiman just dropped his cellphone in his scrambled eggs. He thinks it's time for bed now.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Anansi in PW, and Manila links

A couple of starred reviews in from the publishing press, for the book trade.

from Publishers Weekly July 18, 2005.

Anansi Boys

NEIL GAIMAN. MORROW $26.95 (368p)

If readers found the Sandman series creator�s last novel, AMERICAN GODS, hard to classify, they will be equally non-plussed � and equally entertained � by this brilliant mingling of the mundane and the fantastic. �Fat Charlie� Nancy leads a life of comfortable workaholism in London, with a stressful agenting job he doesn�t much like, and a pleasant fianc�e, Rosie. When Charlie learns of the death of his estranged father in Florida, he attends the funeral and learns two facts that turn his well-ordered existence upside-down: that his father was a human form of Anansi, the African trickster god, and that he has a brother, Spider, who has inherited some of their father�s godlike abilities. Spider comes to visit Charlie and gets him fired from his job, steals his fianc�e, and is instrumental in having him arrested for embezzlement and suspected of murder. When Charlie resorts to magic to get rid of Spider, who�s selfish and unthinking rather than evil, things begin to go very badly for just about everyone. Other characters � including Charlie�s malevolent boss, Grahame Coats ("an albino ferret in an expensive suit") witches, police and some of the folk from AMERICAN GODS � are expertly woven into Gaiman�s rich myth, which plays off the African folk tales in which Anansi stars. But it�s Gaiman�s focus on Charlie and Charlie�s attempts to return to normalcy that make the story so winning � along with gleeful, hurtling prose.


and this is from Kirkus, but it's filled with spoilers, so I've edited it down a bit to kill things that really are things you're meant to find out by reading the book:


ANANSI BOYS
Author: Gaiman, Neil

Review Date: JULY 12, 2005
Publisher:Morrow/HarperCollins
Pages: 368
Price (hardback): $26.95
Publication Date: 9/20/05
ISBN: 0-06-051518-X
ISBN (hardback): 0-06-051518-X
Category: NONE
Classification: FEATURE

The West African spider-trickster god Anansi presides benignly over this ebullient partial sequel to Gaiman's award-winning fantasy American Gods (2001).

In his earthly incarnation as agelessly spry "Mr. Nancy," the god has died, been buried and mourned (in Florida), and has left (in England) an adult son called Fat Charlie�though he isn't fat;... Charlie's hitherto unknown brother Spider, summoned via animistic magic, thereafter an affable quasi-double and provocateur who steals Charlie's fianc� Rosie and stirs up trouble with Charlie's blackhearted boss, "weasel"-like entrepeneur-embezzler Grahame Coats. These characters and several other part-human, part-animal ones mesh in dizzying comic intrigues that occur on two continents, in a primitive "place at the end of the world," in dreams and on a conveniently remote, extradition-free Caribbean island. ... Gaiman juggles several intersecting narratives expertly (though when speaking as omniscient narrator, he does tend to ramble), blithely echoing numerous creation myths and folklore motifs, Terry Southern's antic farces, Evelyn Waugh's comic contes cruel, and even�here and there�Muriel Spark's whimsical supernaturalism. Everything comes together smashingly, in an extended d�nouement that ...reasserts the power of stories and songs to represent, sustain and complete us. The result, though less dazzling than American Gods, is even more moving.

Intermittently lumpy and self-indulgent, but enormously entertaining throughout. And the Gaiman faithful�as hungry for stories as Tiger himself�will devour it gratefully.


(The unedited version is here.)

(People who ask me why I don't pay more attention to reviews are suggested to ponder how the prose can both hurtle and ramble at the same time.) Anyway, both reviewers love the book, and that makes me happy.

Survived convention. It was great but I'm too pooped to write about it. Morning spent doing interviews, and was enormously relieved to discover that I'm not addressing the Australian Film Institute for lunch, and will instead just have a small lunch with friends.

Neil someone has collected allt eh blog and livehjournal of when you come to Manila, if you want to see, it is at http://www.livejournal.com/users/eula_tequila/183159.html and he is right the best pictures of you are at http://www.livejournal.com/users/_juki_/69758.html#cutid1. Erwin's interview of you is at http://www.philstar.com/philstar/LIFESTYLE200507159708.htm.

Thanks so much. I'm not sure if I'll get time to go through them at this point, but I'll put them up for the world.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

the incredible shrinking me

The convention continues to be fun, but so far without really any down time. I had a Guest of Honour speech today, in which I read from Anansi Boys and showed the MirrorMask trailer.

I also helped launch Lucy Sussex's book, A Tour Guide to Utopia, helped judge a costume ball, grabbed a hasty lunch with the local chapter of the Thingies (it's an alt.fan.neil-gaiman thing that started in Australia) and signed, signed, signed.

Over at the Dreaming -- www.holycow.com/dreaming -- Lucy Anne continues to do sterling work gathering articles together from all over the world, including a bunch of recent ones from Singapore and the Philippines. (The one that puzzled me most was the one that reveals I'm only 172 cm tall, which left me rather puzzled as I was 179 cm tall the last time anyone checked, and honestly, it's quite worrying to learn that somewhere between America and Singapore you've shrunk almost 3 inches. If I continue to shrink at this rate I'll be hobbit-sized by the Anansi Boys tour, and will need to be propped up on piles of phone books in order to sign.)

And this came in

Hi Neil, I saw that you were having problems with Xplay and itunes 4.9. I am just writing to let you know that KennettNet Software has a nice application called PodUtil. Their newest version (2.7.1) is compatible with itunes 4.9 and runs on both Machintosh and Windows platforms. It allows you download your music catalogue from your ipod to your PC. Also, as a side note, I have read practically everything you have written and consider it utterly fantastic, and commend you for being a modern master. I literally can't wait for Anansi Boys!-Justin

followed by

I just sent a messgae regarding XPlay and Podutil. I suppose a link would probably be helpful. The download section for Podutil can be found at http://www.kennettnet.co.uk/software/download.php .-Justin

Which turned out to be a lovely little piece of software and solved my problem completely. (It's particularly galling when the thing you want to get off your iPod but can't get at is something you've written yourself.)

Friday, July 15, 2005

tired but functional

Continuum is underway -- I wasn't sure that a "debate" was going to be a great program item, but once Jack Dann explained that the object was to entertain rather than to convince I felt better, and a rollicking good time was had by all.

Charles Brownstein from the CBLDF asked me if I would point people to the amazing Sandman and Death sketches and drawings at http://www.sandman.tv/cbldf/intro.htm -- it's being auctioned at San Diego in a couple of days -- as it explains+

These items will be auctioned off on Saturday July 16 as the Fund's Gala auction, beginning at 7 PM in Room 8 of the San Diego Convention Center. If you can't make it to the show, the Fund is accepting sealed bids until Saturday, July 16 at 3 PM Pacific Time. To bid send an e-mail to director@cbldf.org with the words "sealed bid" in the subject line. In the body, include the item you wish to bid on, your bid amount, a valid credit card number, and a phone number at which you can be reached. All sealed bids will be shredded following the auction, and the files deleted. If you have any questions, please e-mail Charles Brownstein at the above address.

Details on how it's being auctioned -- along with lots of other cool stuff -- is at http://www.cbldf.org/articles/archives/000265.shtml

...

Hi, Neil! I was one of the volunteers for your signings here in Manila, and I would just like to say thanks so much again for being so patient with everyone and for being just the nicest person. We all enjoyed working with you. :) We hope you come back to see more of the Philippines. :) Also, your readers might like to know that Fully Booked just found out that your segment at MTV "Hanging Out" will air on August 5 instead of July 15, as previously announced. :) Take care! :) *** meann http://www.neilgaimanphilippines.tk

Consider them informed.

Dear Neil, I'm sure you have much more important matters to discuss, but your mention of Poppy Z. Brite made me wonder.Do you prefer saying "Zee" or "Zed"? As a Canadian, I very much prefer the latter...but I was just wondering what your opinion was on this issue?Thank you for humouring me, Mike

I say "Poppy Zee Brite" 'cos that's what she says. And I say "Zee" to Americans when spelling things out aloud because otherwise they get extremely confused and the whole spelling process grinds to a halt. But in my head the alphabet still goes from A to Zed.

Mr. Gaiman,If the World Fantasy Convention were to be held in Wisconsin, and if Stephen Jones, Peter Straub, Charles Vess, and Gene Wolfe (among others) were all planning to attend, what are the odds that one might encounter "Mr. Punch" there, too?-Nemo

Pretty much zero, I'm afraid, because I'll be in the UK, wrapping up Beowulf stuff, and either doing a preliminary book signing in Dublin or starting the official Anansi Boys signing in London.

...

Faintly frustrated -- I wanted to pull some obscure songs off my iPod and just discovered that iTunes 4.9 does stuff to an iPod such that Xplay (which I use to get under the hood) can't access the files. They'll put out an update next week that'll fix it, but that will be slightly too late. Oh well.

If anyone's sent in any urgent questions about Australian signings and events, feel free to send them again.

Continuum starts

The convention has started but I'm up in my hotel room madly finishing things for people all over the world. Dinner last night with Poppy Z. Brite -- you can read about what we ate over at Docbrite's livejournal -- http://www.livejournal.com/users/docbrite/ -- under the heading Flower Drum. As Poppy says, the Peking Duck was the Platonic Ideal of the dish. It's the Peking Duck of Narnia or of Amber, of which all other lumps of duck wrapped in a pancake with brown sauce and something green and crunchy are but pale reflections.

Also had the strange experience of seeing a friend -- someone I'd even dedicated a book to -- and not knowing them. In my defence, Hayley Campbell is now 19 and about six feet tall, and the last time I saw her she was twelve, and the time before that she was about six (and I tried out THE DAY I SWAPPED MY DAD FOR TWO GOLDFISH on her, and dedicated it to her as well).

Neil,

In an earlier blog both of the Sydney events were listed as a Talk Q&A and Signing - now neither of them are - they're both straight signing sessions. What happened? I was really looking forward to hearing you speak.


and

Neil

I was hoping you'd be doing some readings or answering our questions when you come to Sydney next week. In fact, your blog indicated that's what was happening. I eagerly reserved a space at Kinokumia (sp?) to hear you. But the blog today (15/7) indicates it's just a signing. While I'm happy just to meet you in the flesh and actually get a live signed copy of something (as opposed to what I can buy at dreamhaven), I was hoping for a little more insight, a preview of Anansi Boys or a discussion of Mirrormask - even if the intimate experience was shared by hundreds. Please say it's an error. We don't often get to see you. Kath


I don't know -- I've just been posting what I'm sent. Am investigating.

...

Right. I just spoke to Ineke from Headline, who said that whatever I'd like to do is fine, and I'd like to do a reading and Q&A if possible, because that's a lot more fun than just signing people's books. Having said that we'll have to make sure that the logistics work.

So I shall find out more and report back.

...

And the Aristocrats has a website, as of today -- http://www.thearistocrats.com/. Check it out...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blog times

Neil, could you add local times in your blog while you're on the road? (Unless you really did go to bed at 10:16 in the morning last night.) I'm really like posts from you, for a brief time, in my very own time zone for the first time in 12 or so years. But I don't know how to translate your blog's time zone into Sydney time. See you up here, Zacha, in Sydney.

Sure. (I fixed this one manually, but I'll go and tinker with the blog settings.)

Australia. Edinburgh. Aristocrats.

Er, to respond to the several people who wrote in to let me know that they are heartbroken that I'm apparently now an American, no, I don't have a US passport. I have an extremely battered British passport, and when I get back to the US I'll write to the nice people at the British Embassy in Washington DC and fill in the forms and get a new one. No plans to become an American citizen. I like being English.

...


I asked Ineke, who represents Headline Books in Australia, for information on the signings and events in Australia, and I got this back from her.


Date: Monday 18th July
Time: 6:30pm - 8pm
Format of event - talk with q&a then signing
Enquires tel no: 03 8664 7014
Venue:
State Library of Victoria
Village Roadshow Theatrette
Entry 3,
La Trobe Street
Melbourne
Cost: $10 full, $5 concession
Are bookings required? SOLD OUT - FULLY BOOKED, NO PLACES LEFT. Only 3 items per person can be signed.


Date: Tuesday 19th July
Time: 4-6pm
Format of event: signing session only
Enquires tel no: Tel: 02 6239 3633
Venue:
Gaslight Books, Fyshwick
Unit 10/ 83 Wollongong St
Fyshwick 2609
Cost: Free
Are bookings required? No, but patience is. Please note only 3 items per person can be signed.


Date Tuesday 19th July
Time 7pm
Format of event - q&a with Colin Steele followed by book signings
Enquires tel no: 02 6125 4144
Venue:
Lecture Theatre1
Manning Clark Theatre
One Union court
ANU
Cost: None, it�s FREE!
Are bookings required? No � but it�s advisable to turn up early ie: 6.30pm. Please note only 3 items per person can be signed.



Date: Wednesday 20th July
Time: 12:30pm-3pm
Format of event: Signing Session
Enquiries tel no: 02 9267 7222
Email: sf@galaxybooks.com.au
Venue:
Galaxy Bookshop
143 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Cost: None
Are bookings required: No, BUT, we are expecting a lot of people for this event, so arrive early and please be patient. Please bring no more than 3 ITEMS to be signed.


Date: Wednesday, 20 July
Time: 5:30pm
Format of event: Straight signing session
Enquires tel no: 02 9262 7996
Venue:
Books Kinokuniya
Level 2, The Galeries Victoria
500 George Street
Sydney, NSW
Cost: Nil
Are bookings required? Bookings essential. Please call 02 9262 7996 to reserve your spot. Please be patient. Please note only 3 items per person can be signed.


Date: Thursday 21st July
Time: 7.00 for 7.30pm
Format of event - Neil to talk, do a bit of a q&a, then sign (3 ITEMS per person). His new book, MIRRORMASK on sale, along with backlist and we're taking preorders - at a special, discounted, on-the-night price for ANANSI BOYS.
Enquires tel no: Pulp Fiction Booksellers, 07 3236 2750
Venue:
The Atrium,
Anzac Square Building (Pulp Fiction's building!),
Edward Street
Brisbane
Cost: $15.00 - food and wine provided.
Are bookings required? ESSENTIAL!!! Ticketed event - admission by ticket only!!! Please note only 3 items per person can be signed.


...

MirrorMask is at the Edinburgh Film Festival this year!

http://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/movies/show/mirrormask/

Not sure if you're out of the loop, or you've been trying to keep it hush-hush, but the cat's out the bag!

Tickets can be booked online from Friday 15th July.

Can't wait to see it.

Stu Corrin


I knew about it, but I'm not allowed to announce film festivals here until they've said anything themselves. There are a few more coming up over the next few months.

...

You may remember me talking about a film called The Aristocrats here. I saw it at Sundance, and have seen it again since, and strongly believe that it's one of the best films about art and being human I've seen. It's also a hundred comedians telling or talking about one dirty joke. It's amazing. (If you don't remember, or you want to refresh, use the neilgaiman.com search facility at http://www.neilgaiman.com/search/search.asp and search for Aristocrats.) Anyway. As good a film as you'll see...

If you live in the US, it looks like you won't see it if you have an AMC or a Loews cinema near you, I'm afraid.

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/8561995/

Blase added that even if "Aristocrats," which showcases a string of comedians telling the same vaudeville-era dirty joke, performs well when it opens in limited engagements July 29 in Los Angeles and New York, AMC will not try to secure it for one of its 3,500 screens.
"We are trying to program more specialty films in our theaters, but we are very selective," Blase said. "We've made a business decision and evaluated all the factors and we will stick with that decision."



Which is a strange thing to say: If the film does well and people want to see it, we won't show it, and that's a business decision.

If it was, we won't show it because we don't like it, or we don't want people to see it, that would at least be honest.

Spread the word. Because you want to see The Aristocrats. Honest.

I wonder if there's anywhere one can complain. (Does a quick google. Looks like there are lots of ways to contact AMC at http://www.amctheatres.com/contactus/index.html.)

Melbourne and me

I am in Melbourne and suspect that tomorrow I shall buy a sweater, for it is just chilly enough to notice (especially after the tropics), although the amazingly thin new leather jacket helps a great deal (but I seriously miss the old rhino-hide one I sent home with Maddy). I learned at immigration that my passport is now officially more battered than the Australian Government is comfortable with, but they let me in anyway. I suppose I'll have to get a new one when I get back to the US, two years early. Was met by Justin Ackroyd at the airport (you can buy books from him at http://www.slowglass.com.au/), and it was a pleasure to see an old friend...

Was fed by Clare Coney and Peter Nicholls, old friends I knew in the UK. We talked about old times and about books, and the food was as good as the company, and both were delightful.

You said in the blog:

"In the Philippines, the people are enthusiastic on a level that makes the Brazilians look reserved and polite"

May I ask you, politely, what do you mean by that? That Brazilians aren't (or weren't) polite? Lemme see...

po�lite Pronunciation (p-lt)
adj. po�lit�er, po�lit�est
1. Marked by or showing consideration for others, tact, and observance of accepted social usage.
2. Refined; elegant: polite society.

Geez, Neil, what happened when you came to Brazil? :)

(PS. I'm not mad or offended. Yes, I am Brazilian. I really want to know what made you say that, but, honestly, I am not offended, just curious)


I'm glad you're not offended, for I love Brazil, and I love the Brazilians, and what I was trying to say was that until I got to the Philippines, the Brazilians were the most enthusiastic audiences I've encountered. For example, Brazil is the only place I've ever been where, when I finished talking -- an onstage interview -- the people in the audience actually rushed the stage, and I found myself picked up by a large bouncer, handed to another large bouncer who put me through the door out of the theatre and locked it behind me. Doesn't usually happen.

For that matter, I don't usually do signings for 1,200 people, as happened the last time I was in Brazil (read about it at http://www.neilgaiman.com/archive/2001_05_01_archive.asp on May the 22nd and 23rd).

So what I was trying to get across was that in terms of enthusiasm and sheer volume, the Filipinos pulled into the number one spot, forcing Brazil (which previously occupied the World's Most Enthusiastic Country spot in my head) to number two. It's perfectly possible that the next time I go back to Brazil it will reclaim its title.

This might've been asked before but do you know what time your interview in MTV Philippines will air here in Manila? Or any other time you know of? (We'll just do the math.) Me and my friends wuld love to know before the interview airs on Friday

5.00pm on the Hanging Out show.

...

I'm trying to gather all the details on the various Australian signings -- they all seem to have different rules about how you can get in to them; none of this "just show up and get in the queue" stuff here, and as soon as I know I'll post details.

Several more letters from people in Perth pointing out that I never ever come to Perth. Which is odd, because the last mainland Australian convention I was at was in Perth, so I do not, alas, feel adequately guilty.

I meant to blog about lots of sensible things, but my mind is a perfect blank, so I shall now go to bed instead.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I'm in Kuala Lumpur airport, where the lounge has free, working wireless, so this is a very short post.

Some Frequently Asked Questions from the Philippines that I'm going to answer in haste.

1) The assumed name that Fully Booked registered me at the hotel under was...

Mister Punch.

2) The pen I've mostly been using is a 1950s Omas flexinib. If you want one like it it's cheaper to find old flexinib Watermans on eBay. The ink I've mostly been using is Mont Blanc Bordeaux I got in Singapore. It's not my favourite ink (I'm not a big Mont Blanc fan) but it's a decent colour and I love the bottle design.

They're calling my flight.

I go, farewell. Farewell, I go.

Okay. Leaving for the airport in a minute, in a thunderstorm of epic proportions. And I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who made my trip to the Philippines the most memorable trip ever. I'd thank you all personally but there are several thousand of you, and my fingers would start to hurt again.

But thanks again to you all. And yes, I do want to come back.

On to Melbourne...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Ten happy little fingers and they're mine all mine...

There's nothing quite like coming back from a day of signing and signing and signing and talking and talking and signing, to be met with several thousand people pointing out that though my head thought "Leonard Cohen" my fingers typed "John Cale".

I do not blame my fingers. A number of times in the last two days they have happily written inscriptions for people while my head has struggled to catch up. "Gosh," I think. "It's a copy of Good Omens. What are some of the things I write in Good Omens?" while my fingers have already efficiently written most of Burn This Book. Probably they just got confused by "Hallelujah" or something.

I don't think I've ever been more exhausted at any point in a signing tour than I am right now. (Having said that, I don't remember ever having felt so loved by so many people.) But I get to sleep until I wake up and that's so good...

PS. I think I'm now addicted to calamansi juice.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"My friends are gone and my hair is grey..."

I woke up with a line from John Cale's song "Tower of Song" going round in my head "...I ache in the places where I used to play...". I ache pretty much everywhere at this point, although I'm still enjoying myself. Still paying my dues in the Tower of Words, I suppose.

So yesterday I did the local MTV (an MTV station so far out of the cultural mainstream that it still plays rock videos, how cool is that? I think they'll put the interview out on Friday here) and some more interviews and, after finally conquering the evil of the hotel's printers, successfully printed some ANANSI BOYS out. And then I read to a large crowd, and signed for about grateful 600 people (including, at the end of the night, the ones who had stuck around hopefully outside in the heat but didn't have line numbers, although they only got a signature).

The FAQ line is completely filled with messages from people in Manila saying "when I got to the front of the line I didn't say anything/burst into tears/said something stupid but what I wish I'd said was....", all of which are really nice and none of which I'm posting here.

And instead I'm going to get up and get dressed and fight with the evil printers one last time before going off to the morning's first interview. (You must imagine me on one side, all early-morning bleary, holding a golden sword of truth and righteousness, while these printers lumber menacingly over the hill towards me).

Saturday, July 09, 2005

In the Tent

In the Philippines, the people are enthusiastic on a level that makes the Brazilians look reserved and polite. They shout very loudly when they're happy, too. There's a noise that a few thousand of the locals make when they all shout at once to let you know they're happy to see you that made me finally understand the idea of a wall of sound...

Apparently over 3000 people turned up to see me, although only 700 tickets guaranteeing you a signature were given out (and had all gone well before lunchtime). (Which I still don't quite understand as I was told it would be limited to 500. But there you go.) It began late, due to overrunning tv interviews, followed by Printer Hell, when I couldn't get something to print out on the hotel printer, so I had to read it on stage from the laptop -- which left me feeling I'd made the right choice in getting a laptop that weighs about 2lb. So the event began a little after 4:00pm. A short ANANSI BOYS reading, a short Q&A, and then I signed...

I stayed till everyone still there in the tent was done -- I finished signing for the last people in line, all of us more than somewhat shellshocked, around 1:25 am.

Goodnight.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Open Secrets

As a postscript to the last one: I got back to the hotel after dinner and the man with the metal detector ran it over me to make sure I wasn't a terrorist, then said "Welcome back, Mr Gaiman." A nice man held open the hotel door for me and said "Welcome back, Mr Gaiman." A lady pushing a trolley across the lobby hesitated, and I stopped for her, and she said "Thank you, Mr Gaiman." And then I got up to the floor I'm staying on to be met with a conspiratorial "Did you have a nice dinner Mr ahem?" from the receptionist. [Ahem stands for the mystery name. She didn't have some kind of horrible cough.]

It's actually dead sensible registering under someone else's name, and I even do something like it myself at big convention hotels (ever since the time someone phoned my room at 3:00 am to tell me how much he liked my stuff, having phoned every hotel in San Diego asking for my room). But the name they chose catches me by surprise and makes me smile every time.

...

http://www.bookslut.com/features/2005_07_005981.php is a comic of my speech at the Nebula awards in Chicago a couple of months ago.

http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=5517 lets all of you going to San Deigo for Comic-Con know that...

The Jim Henson Company, Destination Films, Samuel Goldwyn Films, and Dark Horse have teamed up to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund by hosting the Fund's MirrorMask Welcome Party at Comic-Con International. Featuring art, props, and images from the upcoming film MirrorMask -in theaters September 30-this gala party will be held at the Westgate Hotel's Terrace Under the Stars on Thursday July 14 from 8 PM until 11 PM. The catered event will be free to card-carrying CBLDF members and open to all others for a suggested $5 - $15 sliding scale donation. Attendees will also receive a MirrorMask Takeaway, courtesy of The Jim Henson Company, be entered into a special raffle, and view a trailer of the film.

Yet another reason to be a CBLDF member. Apart from supporting free spech and all that stuff.

...

And to all of you writing all the terribly nice messages from Singapore telling me you had a good time and asking me please to come back, the best thing to do is for you to write to Lena St. George-Sweet OBE at the British Council, and tell her you think I ought to come back, or just thanking her for bringing me in. Then she can wave the messages at the powers that be to help there be a next time -- and this time they'll hqave a much clearer idea of what to expect. (http://www.britishcouncil.org.sg/whatson/event_details.asp?EvID=156 has the email adresses and mail address).

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Welcome to Manila

I've a few free minutes in Kuala Lumpur airport, so I just wanted to post a few thank yous. First and foremost, thanks to Lena St. George-Sweet of the British Council, and to the British Council for bringing me in to Singapore. Lena is a treasure and I'm not sure I'd have survived it without her.

There are lots of other people I ought to thank here -- Eddy Teo, the indomitable Jane Tay, Loi Zhiwei, all from Penguin Books (who distribute Headline Books in Singapore) ("Hey," said Eddy casually, the day after the library@orchard reading. "After you did that reading from Anansi Boys, I doubled our order for it. I think people will like it.")

The Borders folk (too many to name but starting with Sallie Fox and Farokh Mohamad), Kenny Chan and his team at Kinokuniya, and Lee Han Shih and Carol Tan & Meng at ComicsMart who did so much to make the Cineleisure events work.

And thanks to Ker Lay Hong, Tan Siang Teck and Boey Ying Hao from the British Council for providing support.

Also especial thanks to whoever brought the packet of Marks and Spencers chocolate raisins during the Borders signing, which helped when I flagged. And everyone who stood for a long time to get something signed, and was still cheerful when they got to the front of the line...

I wore a leather jacket in Singapore -- it was new leather jacket, an Armani thingie I got on sale, with a perfect clean line I've already ruined by stuffing pens and things into the pockets, and honestly not much thicker than a shirt, so it was perfect for all the refrigerated environments I kept walking into.

I'm in Manila now (the phone just rang, and it was my host letting me know that 10,000 people are about to have a spur-of-the-moment political rally somewhere fairly close to my hotel) and I doubt I'll wear the leather jacket much. They don't quite seem to have the same sort of enthusiasm for serious air conditioning here.

It was a huge contrast, coming out into in the funky sprawl of Manila from the gleaming bustle of Singapore. I was VIPed through the airport quite wonderfully by a lady who was puzzled that I didn't have an entourage (Me: "Er. Sorry.")

And other than that, I'm just starting to recover from the last few days, blinking a lot and smelling a little like Tiger Balm. And I am staying in my hotel, I learned on check-in, under an assumed name. "Hullo," I said to the lady checking me in. "I'm Neil." "I know," she said. "But we'll be calling you Mr _________." Identity can be so gelatinous sometimes.
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