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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Long Underwear Land

The weather in this part of the world can sometimes change the way you think in peculiar ways. Take, for example, your correspondent this morning, looking at the outside thermometer on the kitchen wall, and beaming. "It's nine degrees," I announced happily. "Brilliant. It's warming up." (That's minus 13 C).

Last night, according to the thermometer, it went down to minus twenty-one (-30C). When it's that cold outside the cold creeps into your bones, and going outside becomes more than a little problematic, and yesterday I didn't leave the house and crept off, with black long underwear beneath my jeans, to write in the attic.


Today, at nine degrees, it's almost springtime...

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We won Best Weblog, and Lifetime Achievement, which is rather nice. Thanks to all who voted. (And some of the people I voted for won things too. Hurrah.)

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An old friend of mine is currently serving in the US army in Iraq, and she wrote a personal letter in reply to the comments about Baghdad and Sandman 50 the other day...

I’d have to say that Baghdad isn’t exactly doing all that well. I’ve flown over the central city several times via Blackhawk……and I don’t think this city looked nearly this much like Detroit after a championship loss (or win, for that matter) twenty years ago. There doesn’t seem to be a single block w/out destruction visible from the air. It isn’t just the damage we’ve done (although we have done and continue to do our share)….

It’s the IEDs….the mortars….the destruction of water treatment plants by AQIZ so that people won’t have any potable water….the destruction or simply the overload of sewer lines, so that sewage runs in the streets—that is just as likely to have been caused by too many people having crammed into a small area as a terrorist blowing up a plant or by our tanks having driven over pipes.
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The utter lack of garbage pickup…..which if someone suggests it, leads at best to twice-weekly neighborhood burns. Hence the phrase you may have seen elsewhere re Baghdad burning—one never knows if those plumes of black smoke are from the aforementioned IEDs, mortars….or mass garbage burnings. Things are burned for light, because there is only electricity a few hours out of 24 after the bad guys have taken out the power lines or even power station again. Burned for heat, because there isn’t enough kerosene during this cold (definitely below freezing at night!) weather.

Roads: overpasses crumbled, due to poor infrastructure to begin with (and no-one keeping it up) or a VBIED or (once again) tank traffic.

Walls: see above, except for the tanks. Unless one just has to go through “that wall, right there.”

And really, now—there are multiple explosions every day. These explosions usually kill or injure someone; they *always* cause physical damage where they are located.

Having said all that, much is being rebuilt and/or built in the first place. The city wasn’t built so very solidly in the first place, and the population explosion (two thirds of the population of Fallujah came here, for example – does anyone really think they *all* went home afterwards?) combined w/ongoing damage makes it occasionally feel like the tide comes in on a regular basis and wipes out everyone’s efforts…..

So I guess I can understand where the good captain was coming from, I just don’t want people *underestimating* what the residents of Baghdad are facing. If he isn’t going out in the streets, and is passing judgement based on the buildings of Victory Base Camp…..well, he isn’t seeing their lives. I’m not outside the wire much, but I pay attention to what I can see and what people are saying.

That’s my rant, I’ll stop now. This will be a beautiful city and great tourist destination someday. Really it will! The most incredible full moons over sparkling waters, reeds lining the canals, glittering lights leading up to mosques…. And skies that can go on just forever, at night with stars so sharp they poke your eyes.

(I asked her if I could quote this, and she said yes, and added, Seriously, my concern at ever being quoted—and you are someone I trust re this issue—is that statements are kept in balance. This environment is created and sustained by such a multiplicity of factors; when I see stateside reporting focused purely on terrorist damage (a la Fox) OR damage we have done (say, truthout.org), especially when the reconstruction efforts by MNC-I (the coalition forces) and NGOs (non-governmental agencies) alike are ignored or disparaged, I just want to slap someone upside the head.)

Thanks, Lys.

Looking at the last page of Sandman 50, while the kid is clambering across a bomb-site, the intact buildings and power lines in the earlier panels was meant to indicate a city that was still standing, not a wasteland, but I can see how people might assume that the rubble he's climbing over in the last panel was meant to represent the city; it wasn't.

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Mr. Gaiman, First off, thank you for continuing to update your wonderful blog (though, I do prefer the old design). My question, while not the most appropriate because it does not pertain to one of your books, is about Martin Millar's forthcoming novel, Lonely Werewolf Girl. The only place I have ever read about this novel is on your journal, and, when I search google for more info on this book, I only get directed back to you. Even Millar's website (martinmillar.com) does not have any info on this book. Can you tell me if and when this book will ever be published? And, if possible, where I can find more info on it? Thank you for your time. Kelly Shaw Milwaukee, WI

I definitely want to get more variety added to the site design. For now, we're still focussed on the content -- there's now a sitemap (at http://www.neilgaiman.com/sitemap), and more video content at http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/Video, but there are strange mysteries (I don't understand about the "Contests! Win Free Stuff Here!" part of the site.

And I don't know. It may never have found a publisher. Sometimes that happens. Right now I'm just glad that Soft Skull are going to be reprinting The Good Fairies of New York, and hoping that it works for them and they bring a lot more of Millar's work back into print.

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The Quotable Neil site is filled with useful quotes for writers this week.

http://quotableneil.blogspot.com/2006/02/nice-meaty-one-for-writers-out-there.html

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Some years ago I posted a link to a video made from 15 second camera films of a song by Fredo Viola, called Sad Song. ( In http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2004/07/in-which-author-is-briefly.asp). There was a brief aftermath, in which Fredo found himself with an unexpected bill for many thousands of dollars because of the web traffic, although on the good side he also wound up with some unexpected gigs making film music and suchlike because of it.

He's just done his first live gig, and has film footage of it up at http://www.fredoviola.com/dactyl.html.


Hey Neil,It's entirely possible I missed this, but I can't seem to find it, either on your site, or in any information from DC.Will the Absolute Sandman books also feature the 2 Death books, Dream Hunters, and Endless Nights (Dust Covers?), or will they be strictly the original series?Much thanks,-Kev.

Absolute Sandman won't include the things you've listed, but it may include stuff that hasn't been seen much before now. I suspect the Death books will wind up, along with some other content, like the Jeff Jones short story and the Death Gallery, in an Absolute Death, in a year or so.

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Marcus at Blackwells sent me a tape of the Lenny & Me Event last November, along with a press-out TARDIS, which Maddy took great joy in assembling last night. We're starting to get serious about the podcast page, instead of just putting up links to audio stuff.

Michael Zulli let me know that he's revamped his website at http://www.michaelzulli.com/main.htm. He didn't as me to mention that he has three new oil paintings up on eBay, but I shall anyway -- click here to check them out.

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