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Friday, March 31, 2006

wolf words

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Box of Delights

I'm happy. It was as good a performance as it could be at this stage of the show (which is to say, it'll keep getting better as little fixes that aren't there yet go in and the actors become more comfortable and so on, and I'm sure it'll be a better show in ten days than it is right now, but it's a stonker right now).

Nervously awaiting the reviews tomorrow, but I suspect that anyone who didn't like it wouldn't ever have liked it, if you see what I mean. Happy crowd. Happy cast and crew. Happy author. And Dave McKean was glad I'd dragged him up to Scotland to watch it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What a difference a sleep makes....

It's a couple of minutes before midnight on a Tuesday night and loud Seventies dance music is making my hotel room shake from some function immediately below, and I find myself disliking the hotel, if anything, even more than I did before, which surprises me. I think I dislike it mostly because it fancies itself a posh, upscale hotel, and it isn't, it barely scrapes by at mediocre.

On the good side, the hotel did, eventually, find my laundry. (Which came back -- clean -- five days after my first attempt to give it to them.)

Many, many letters like this one awaited me when I got on line...

Mr. Gaiman,
Were you being subtle or did you not notice that the picture of James Blunt shown at the link is actually a photo of you? Although the two of you look a bit alike, that picture is exactly the same as one of you that pops up when you refresh the page on your journal. The wisps of hair are the same, the highlights on the leather are the same, etc. I guess you realized, and I'm just stating the obvious, but I wanted to be sure.
Yup. I'm pretty good at spotting pictures of me, so I knew it was me all along. I thought it was a bit funny that, somewhere out in the world, a newspaper picture editor had picked up a picture of me and put it into his newspaper as a photo of James Blunt, who isn't me. I sort of figured that I could simply put up the message I received and the link to the picture, and people would go "Ah, a James Blunt article run with a picture of Neil instead of James Blunt. How mildly amusing."

Instead, people wrote helpfully to let me know that it was a picture of me. Which means, I think, I should probably have included an explanation.


....

After a night's sleep, I feel sunny and bright and no longer desire to burn down the hotel and dance in the ashes. It's WOLVES IN THE WALLS today! And how could anyone feel grumpy on a day like that?

Here's a picture of me a couple of days ago, in front of the very small merchandise area.



Yes, I know I need a haircut.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The wolves are running...

Yesterday's lunchtime preview of Wolves was a bit of a shambles, albeit a fun one performed in front of 500 people. If things could go wrong they did (my favourite disaster was Cora being strangled in a telephone cord and falling over, followed by two hundred and fifty people turning to the person next to them and saying, "That was good. I wonder if she meant to do that?"). It was like an offering on the altar of Murphy's Law.

Which meant that Saturday's evening preview went perfectly. It was like a little gift from the gods. It was funny and cool and, although it has some way to go, it now feels like we're working on the real thing. I'm not worried about whether we'll be able to get it to come together by Wednesday night -- it came together, and now we just have to make it perfect.

And by "we", of course, I mean "everyone else". They don't need me any longer -- so I'm going off for a couple of days.

This is a good thing.

Hi Neil, Has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like James Blunt?http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j279/bacchus007/NeilBlunt.jpg One of your readers from Honduras posted this picture from a Honduran entertainment magazine on the web boards, but I wasn't sure if he sent the link to you.Please related the fluffiest of thanks to your website person who made the picture change every time you refresh the page on the blog section.
Happy Spring! Michelle

I am amazed and know not what to say.

...

Here's the cover of the Harper Perennial Edition of CORALINE that will come out later this year.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Dangers of Godwin's Law

There's a nice article about me and WOLVES IN THE WALLS in The Times -- http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22874-2096186,00.html -- don't know how much longer it'll be up though.

A few people wrote in wondering if I'd read this story and what I thought of it: http://technology.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1737444,00.html -- do I think it's a Freedom of Speech issue or an Online Digital Rights issue or something. And I don't have much of an opinion on it, really. It demonstrates that the Internet is still the real world, which people tend to forget. And it's still, among other things, a publishing medium, even if it's one in which people tend to call each other Nazis in much the same way that they nod casually at each other on the street in real life.

And at least the outline of the case as presented in the Guardian makes sense. (Whether there should be UK libel laws is another question, and what will happen the first time someone from country A sues someone from country B in the UK or in France because what was written was viewable on the internet in the UK or France will be another matter altogether, and I bet it'll happen.)

(If my memory serves, Elton John was quoted as saying, after winning a major libel case against The Sun, "You can say I'm fat, bald and untalented, but you mustn't tell lies about me." )

...

Yesterday I sat drinking tea in the hotel lobby and wrote a big chunk of The Eternals, and then typed it, and then wrote an email to my editor and Mr Romita letting them know I was attaching it, and proudly got on with other things. This morning I got up to find a very friendly email pointing out that I hadn't actually attached anything to the email. Oh well.

While I was writing the Eternals, and carrying on with the FRAGILE THINGS introduction, The Wolves in the Walls team were adding the song Nick and I wrote the other night to the show, rechoreographing the wolf-party, and doing lots of lighting things. I think the show that will go on today will have about 40% of the changes and suchlike in it. It'll still keep evolving until Wednesday night, I expect.

And I had dinner last night with my cousins Sharron and Laurence, which is always a treat.

There's an article in Icelandreview on why Stardust isn't doing lots of major filming in Iceland (http://icelandreview.com/icelandreview/daily_news/?cat_id=16571&ew_0_a_id=192388) and a little one from the usually fairly savvy SFX magazine that managed to be the worst-written short article about Stardust I've read, and it's not like there haven't been a lot to choose from -- http://www.sfx.co.uk/news/stars_and_stardust. In it Jane Goldman is described as "oddly married to Jonathan Ross", leaving me to puzzle about what was so odd about their marriage - was the service performed by someone dressed as Pirate Elvis, or is it something strange about the marriage itself we ought to know? -- while the final paragraph about Stardust being a comic-book movie only, er, not actually ever a comic-book, is a little miracle of the art of filling space.

...

We're experimenting with random photos appearing on the blog page, to try and add visual variety. Only a couple right now, but there will be more -- I'll go and ransack the archives. My thanks to the unofficial neilgaiman.com web-elf for actually making it happen.

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

I've known David Stemple -- as my friend writer and musician Adam Stemple's father, as my friend writer Jane Yolen's husband, as a wonderful, wise, witty man in his own right -- for as long as I've lived in the US, perhaps longer.

My thoughts and love at this time to Adam and to Jane and their families. Jane tells it better than I ever could: http://www.janeyolen.com/journal.html

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Mostly wolf-work...

The second ever performance of Wolves was a lot better than the first. It all sort of worked, even though none of the fixes have been done. They laughed and they screamed in all the right places. Brilliant...


There seems to be a certain amount of confusion as to which performance of Wolves on Saturday I'm doing the official Q&A-discussion after. It's actually the Saturday evening one, but because there are a lot of people who think it's the Saturday afternoon one, I'll probably do a chat after that as well. Even if it's just in the Tramway cafe.

...


"How would you describe the music of Wolves in the Walls?" I asked Nick Powell, who wrote it.

"Why?"

"Because they just interviewed me for Radio 4's Front Row and I didn't know how to describe it and neither did Vicky. We have to say something to reporters that isn't just, it's not like anything you've heard before, or it's all sorts of different stuff."

"Yeah. Don't say 'it's all different' because that makes it sound like it doesn't have an overall coherent point of view, or it's just pastiche or something."

"All right. So how could we describe it?"

Nick pondered. "Er... somewhere between Bjork and Sondheim...? I don't know. Ask Martin Lowe."

We went and asked Martin, the show's music director.

"Well, it's not like anything you've ever heard before," he said. "And eclectic makes it sound a bit dated...." then he brightened up. "It's haunting," he announced.

"Oh god," said Nick, gloomily. "Don't say it's haunting. That's what journalists always put in descriptions of my stuff when they don't know how to describe it. Haunting."

"But it is haunting," said Martin.

On the bus back from the Tramway we ran into the props person, who was off getting equipment to allow them to turn a tuba into a popcorn popper. "How would you describe the music?" I asked her.

"Er. It's sort of all really different," she said. "I mean, it's not like anything else, is it?"

Sigh. I just hope someone writes something about it we can steal, using neither haunting nor eclectic...

.....

Dear Neil,
I hope you will write a nice introduction to your new short stories collection like you did with Smoke and Mirrors. I loved how you explaned how you got the idea for each story, and whenever I finished a story, I would go back and see where it originated. I hope you include this in your new collection's introduction. Just providing a little feedback!
-Robin



You know, I got an email today from my editor at Morrow, the longsuffering Jennifer Brehl, saying much the same thing. Only she pointed out it was due on her desk in February.

Yes, there will be one. I hope to finish it tomorrow. Wish me luck.

...

Why did you not tell us about this?!

http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1002234221


I think I sort of did... at least, I mentioned it back here at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/03/dont-know-how-youll-feel-about-this.asp. But I was waiting for them to announce it to mention it on the blog. And now they have. So I have...

First Wolf thoughts...

My plan to write a blog entry in my hotel room last night foundered when I noticed that I was actually fast asleep on the sofa in my room with a computer on my lap, and I stumbled off bedwards.

So, yesterday I saw a dress rehearsal of WOLVES IN THE WALLS, and the very first preview. It's got some amazing stuff going on -- the cast are fantastic, the musical arrangements are wonderful, the technical wizardry is wizardy. The kids laughed, held their breath, (and, in the case of one small girl in the seats behind us, announced "I'll have nightmares, I know I shall" proudly and loudly to all of her friends during a scary bit).

It's not quite there yet -- which is why shows get previewed, and worked on, and why you have to do it in front of an audience to figure it out. If this was a novel we would be in the editing period, where you chop out bits that didn't work as part of the novel (no matter how well they work on their own) and stick in bits that glue it together as a whole. I gave lots of notes to Vicky and Julian, the directors, and to most of them they replied with "Yes, we know," or "That's being built right now but it hadn't arrived yet" or "it's already being taken care of". Nick Powell and I wrote a song last night for near the end, for a place where a song had been taken out because it didn't work but nothing had been put in to replace it and that didn't work, and I think (or I hope) that the new one will do the job.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hotel Internet.

It's not the fact that, at four pounds fifty an hour, this is the most expensive hotel internet I've ever encountered that irritates me.

It's the fact it comes in one hour lumps. And at the end of an hour I'm meant to put my credit card number etc in again. A fine way to make money, I think, and to make sure that your guests don't come back.

(Resolves to find wireless service in central Glasgow.)

Tomorrow I get to see a dress rehearsal of WOLVES. I do not know what to expect, knowing how much this show has grown in the last month or so. Truth to tell, I sort of like not knowing what to expect...

PS. I am worried about Fred the Unlucky Black Cat, back into the vet again, in my absence.

Where's Neil When You Need Him?

The first pencilled art from John Romita Jr has started coming in on The Eternals, and it's quite marvellous. When you're writing comics, for me anyway, the best moments are all where you see the art coming in, and go "Oh, you can do that? Well, then, I can do this, and that, and that..." and that's how this feels. Sequences still to come are already getting bigger in my head, moving around, getting odder.
...

I read an article in the UK Sunday Times a few weeks ago that ended by announcing that blondes would be extinct very soon, with the final few fair-haired people dying off in Finland two hundred years from now. Which seemed a bit like utter bollocks to me, and I was amused to learn through Snopes that it was rubbish that went back a long way -- www.snopes.com/science/stats/blondes.asp

...

I need to do a WHERE'S NEIL update pretty soon. But, as a small holding measure...

On Saturday I'll be talking after WOLVES IN THE WALLS at the Tramway in Glasgow.

I'll be at the Sydney Writers Festival which starts on May 22nd 2006, leave on the 26th, and then, using the power of the International Date Line to put me back a day, I'll somehow be at Balticon on the 26-29th of May. I'm MCing the Science Fiction Museum Hall of Fame awards (http://www.sfhomeworld.org/make_contact/article.asp?articleID=239) on June 17th, inducting George Lucas, Anne McCaffrey, Frank Herbert and Frank Helly Freas into the Hall of Fame.

Then in the autumn I'm due to be a Guest at Fantasycon and iCon.

...

Diane Duane wrote to let me know that the first chapter of her online subscription novel (as detailed in http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/12/i-saw-golden-eagle-today-on-fence.asp) is now online at http://the-big-meow.com/. Check out the website and ponder whether this is may become a new viable publishing method (interstingly, of course, it's a return to a very old, subcription-based, get a chapter-when-it-comes-out publishing method).

Neil,

I love your stuff, but can you tell us dear readers what phone you are using to take pix? I have a handset that takes crap images and would love to take better images like yours in your blog. Thank you!


That's a Nokia 6230i. Very basic and useful. I hesitate to recommend it, as the last time I mentioned it I found myself deluged with "why did you buy that?" messages, like,

why on earth did you get that nokia phone when you could have the Treo 700 Verizon PDA phone? Dude! Where is your head at? Sorry Neil, I really respect you, but do you know an inkling about technology these days? Nokia is so way behind the wire...... I run my entire life on the internet (sad as that sounds, it really isn't) and by FAR the verizon TREO 700 PDA phone is the best thing I have come across - having done business across borders with it. I really hope you take the recommendation seriously, I don't usually recommend electronics ect. of any sort.

To which I'm never sure what to say. It's a tri-band phone, so I can put in a UK SIM card when I'm here for a bit. It fits in my pocket. It makes phone calls and accepts text messages. It has a memory card with too many photos, some Magnetic Fields songs as ring tones, and a couple of Jack Benny episodes. It talks to my car and my computer and it takes decent pictures. I'm not asking it to do anything else. I'm sure it's as good as some other phones, not as good as others, and not as cutting edge technologically as some, but that's always going to be the case. It's hard to watch TV on it, but I don't really want to watch TV on my phone, so having proudly put an episode of Bilko and Tony Hancock's The Blood Donor on it and established that it would play them, I then deleted them. I was given a Blackberry a couple of months ago and I took it happily out of the box, then I stared at it, realised that I really liked not having the kind of job where I had to be able to get to my email wherever I am and wherever I am, and put it back in the box. (As long as my family, and my assistant can find me, I'm good, and they have my phone number.)

I am going to apologize for the absolute stupidity of this question in advance. While others are here to ask you about your writing (which I do enjoy), I'm here to ask you about your Slingbox, of all things.

See, I work at Best Buy, where we have about 40 of the damn things in stock, but no one can sell it, since we can't get straight answers on how well it works. And, since most of us are poor, we are in no position to buy it and try it ourselves.

It doesn't help that the rep that Slingmedia sent to the store had all the charm of a paper bag, with product knowledge to match.

So, really, my question is just "How do you like it," "What's the delay in it's control of the TiVo, cable box, etc.," and "How's the quality?"

Thank you for your time.

-eD! Thomas


I like it. I watched the first ten minutes of The Daily Show on my home Tivo, last night from my hotel room before I went to sleep. The delay is there but minimal -- a couple of seconds, no more. Quality varies a bit depending on internet connection, but so far I've been really impressed. It was easy to set up and it's nice to know it's there. Also, it astonishes people when you show it off, which is sort of fun.

...

Hi Neil,

I read with interest that you are being unfairly hassled by lawyers.
I am the person they should be hassling - and will remove the link to their, if truth be known, quite uninspiring website. If they don't want the thousands of visitors I get a day to know about them - it's no skin off my nose.

But while we are on the subject of links may we have the permission (ok somewhat belatedly) to link to your remarkable demonic tomato photograph, and therefore your website from tomatoesareevil.com? Hopefully this will avoid the need for your lawyers to send me a threatening letter.

I was sent the link to your photo by one of my users and felt it too good not to show.

Anyway this whole lawyer business is quite surreal and would have been a great work of art, but to avoid being sued myself I will remove the offending link, but thank you for the publicity you have inadvertently provided – it all helps in the great fight against the evil fruit.

Best wishes and a tomato free lunch

Matt
The real owner and webmaster tomatoesareevil.com


I told him that of course he could.

Actually it appears you did link to rotten tomatoes not the movie but the web site. Please look at your April 05, 2002 journal entry.

"Rotten Tomatoes has collected some of the reviews over at The Saragossa Manuscript (1965): Zbigniew Cybulski, Iga Cembrznska, Joanna Jedryka, Wojciech Has. You can buy it at any of the Usual Suspect places. Tell people you want it for your birthday. Find out if your local library or video store is going to get it in. You need to see this film. Trust me."

They are real lawyers and you may wnat to take this a bit more seriously.
Mark Brown, Esq.


Rotten Tomatoes is a web site that rates movies. They like it if you link to them. It helps them sell more advertising.

www.Rottentomatoes.com doesn't have anything to do with the people who put up an official web site for their silly movie then threatened to sue people who linked to it, which I didn't anyway. (Branfman and Associates and Mark I. Reichenthal may be real lawyers but I fail to see why I should take nonsense like this seriously: it's stupid and it's funny, and it doesn't get any less stupid or funny because they are real lawyers. That just makes it both sadder and funnier.) (For Cory Doctorow's take on it, see http://www.boingboing.net/2006/03/19/confused_lawyers_thr.html)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Disappointingly not Dada at all...

Emails flooding in tend to suggest that the people in the last post are real lawyers, and that they have probably decided that because the people at www.tomatoesareevil.com put my photo, holding a demonic tomato, up on their site, that I own it. What an astonishingly small amount of research they must do before firing off these bizarre letters.

Mystery Dada Tomato Threats

A mysterious communication arrived via my agent. It's a letter purporting to be from a lawyer which, as far as I can tell, seems to be ordering me to take down a link to a website, without actually ever giving the actual URL of the website I am meant to have linked to. The letter also seems to be suggesting that I own or control or have something to do with a website (http://www.tomatoesareevil.com/) that I manifestly don't, as the simplest websearch or WHOIS check would tell you. In addition it talks about me infringing the trademark and copyright, by linking, of a mostly forgotten movie. A Google for the web-site of the movie in question (which I vaguely remember as being a bad film that aspired to be "so bad it's good" but never got there) revealed an official website with 77 links to it, none of which, I'm happy to say, according to a Google link-search I did, came from www.neilgaiman.com.

Are they real lawyers, the people who wrote this odd letter, the kind who went to law school?Are they actually billing someone for writing these "take down your non-existent link to an unspecified website" letters? Is it an internet prank? Is there really a "Mark I. Reichenthal", a "Branfman and Associates", a "Beth Reno"? Are they perhaps surrealist lawyers, or cooler than that, Dada lawyers, who have decided to spread artistic confusion and mystery across the web with their "legal letters"?

I'm posting the letter here in the hope that one of my readers can shed light on its myriad puzzles for me, and also, if it is indeed, as I would like to think, a Dada art event, that others can bask in its aesthetic glow.

(Personally, I shall take it as a reminder that I'm meant to finish making the labels for the demonic salsa jars and send them out to do good in the world.)

(You'll need to click on the pages to enlarge them enough to read them.)


A Proper Post with Stuff In

There. Nobody's quite certain whether it was a mysterious website problem or a mysterious Blogger problem, but whatever it was has now just as mysteriously gone away, leaving me to upload a dozen photos for a second time, this time one by one. And it worked, more or less. (I still wish I'd been using a camera and not a cellphone.)

So the Stardust shooting begins this coming Saturday in Iceland. I won't be there -- I'll be in Glasgow, doing Wolves In The Walls stuff. (Actually, I'll be working, for I believe that's the day I talk to the audience about the play and the story, afterwards. So if you're in Glasgow, come along and say hi on Saturday.) So from this point forwards, Stardust-the-movie continues pretty much without me, alas, although I'd love to be around to watch it being filmed.

There's oodles of cool stuff I haven't had a chance to post, and dozens and dozens of intelligent letters from people I'll try and answer here over the next few days. In the meantime...

There's a great article about Wolves in the Walls at The Times (lots of quotes from Vicky Featherstone and Julian Crouch, and descriptions of the Wolves) while the Scotsman talks to them and to some of the actors (http://living.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=427032006) and the Evening Times has a lovely photo (click on the smaller version) of our Lucy, Frances Thorburn, coming face to face with an actual wolf who looks like he was photoshopped in, but wasn't. And over at http://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/content/default.asp?page=s148 they now have up a small video interview done with me at the end of the last trip in to work on Wolves (which was just at the end of all the Anansi Boys touring last year, which is why I look so very tired. I'm much perkier now.)

...

Incidentally, about 20% of the mail in over the last month on the FAQ line is people asking if I'd heard about Margaret Atwood's Long Pen signing device, and if I have, what I think. (If you've missed any mention of this, there's a whole article about it at http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,1724405,00.html)

In http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2005/02/and-saw-tibet.asp you'll find the link to my original comments on it, although her comments on my comments are locked behind some barrier somewhere. (Googles "Gaiman kissing Atwood" and finds that Ms Atwood has the letter to the Globe up at http://www.unotchit.com/faq.html, and comments on it from back then at http://www.writerswrite.com/writersblog/wblog.php?wblog=213051 and http://www.overtherhine.com/orchard/lofiversion/index.php/t4084.html)

...

Anansi Boys proved very popular with the readers on the SFSite (thank you, people): http://www.sfsite.com/columns/best06b.htm

And I'd promised myself I'd mention that Dr Who started showing in the US on the Scifi channel on Friday March 17th, but I wasn't expecting to be out of internet contact, followed by everything stopping working for a few days, and anyway, I didn't. However, it's started and you can find out about it at http://www.scifi.com/doctorwho/.

I've recently been re-reading my old issues of Sandman and got to the Convergence issues and it got me to wondering something. Is a large group of rooks really called a parliament because they converge in a large open area and listen to one rook caw for several hours before they either all fly off or peck it to death or did you make that up because it sounded incredibly cool...which it is. Thanks very much. -Jared Smith

I didn't make up that bit of rook behaviour, no. I'd read about it in old bird books, and since then people have sent me copies of articles which describe it occurring (including one in the Smithsonian magazine). When it comes to the collective nouns for rooks, the most usual ones are a building of rooks or a clamour of rooks. Parliament is more usually reserved for owls. But whether it started with me or not, parliament has now also slipped into the lists of collective nouns for rooks.

It's a kindle of kittens, by the way.

A question about Anansi Boys..

In the book you have a few Anansi stories/tales/call-them-whatever-you-likes and one of them was about how Anasi's grandmother died and then he played that trick on the barkeeper (poor him). Anyway, me and my friend were reading H.C Andersen's stories and there's this one called Little Claus and Great Claus in which there's part where Little Claus's grandmother dies, too, and he tricks an unlucky landlord the same way Anansi tricked the barkeeper. And Great Clays gets embarassed like Tiger. There are many parts which are practically identical, so I was just wondering where did you first hear/get the idea of the Anansi's story?

(Oh, and apparently you can read the whole thing in here: http://hca.gilead.org.il/li_claus.html. The whole story's a lot longer, but somewhere near the middle this part comes up.)

And one absitively unrelated thing, I don't know how much you like internet comics, but there's one called Otter Soldiers (when translated, it's originally in Finnish) which is absolutely hilarous. http://iperyys.net/ssos/ At least the "for your information" part about translating the names made me crack up. Thought you might enjoy it.

Buh-bye, mr Gaiman.


That story predates Anderson -- it turns up in Grimm's as well, and in other places. But the place I got it from was

http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/jas/jas135.htm

(and you'll find the story of Anansi pretending to be dead and the peas and the tar man at http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/jas/jas021.htm at the bottom of the page.

...

I spent a pleasant day yesterday at Dave McKean's house, and I can report that he is currently working on the long-awaited DVD of all his short films. He's even made a small documentary to go on it (my favourite bit is when he interviews himself-eight-years-ago), and has finished several unfinished films, including an animated film he made as a student and WHACK!, a film he made about Punch and Judy characters originally done for the Mr Punch CD Rom that never happened.

And, her sping break over, Miss Maddy went home this morning, flying as an unaccompanied minor, and I just got the call from Mary to let me know she'd picked her up safely at the airport. She was a delightful traveling companion, and has promised to do a list of books she likes and wants to recommend for this blog, when she remembers.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Odd

Not sure whether Picassa messed up sending those pictures or whether Blogger's just hiccupping mysteriously. But either way, I need to get off-line and go to sleep now, and I'll fix it the next time I get back on.

(And a thank you to the WebElves for letting people know it was broken.)

Recce #3

And a final little batch of four cameraphone photos, including Matthew Vaughn in a serious furry brown director's hat, Miss Maddy's fingers obscuring the (I think) location manager's head, and a photo Maddy took of me the previous evening because she said I'd turned several interesting shades of pink from all the walking in the brisk Skye air ("You look like you're wearing make-up, Dad. Hang on. Give me your phone...")





Tech Recce #2

The second and third of these were taken on the Quairang, which is a place that somehow looks like it came from a 1950s Viewmaster Reel stereoscope even while you're standing there -- the colours seem old-fashioned and the depth of field is all wrong. It was astonishingly cold up on the hills, even through the several layers of clothes and the special high-tech hikers' fabric coat-thing I was wearing over them.

(In the first photo, the blue blob is Maddy on top of a hill in the Fairy Glen, which is a peculiarly miniature place.)


Technical Recce

I'm back from distant Scottish parts. Had a wonderful time and didn't feel guilty for not being on the internet one little bit, not even when I logged on and saw several hundred emails waiting for me to read them...

I forgot to bring my camera charging cord, but I had a phone on me, so the photos that follow are a bit, er, cellphone-ish.

But if you want to see some pictures of a STARDUST technical recce in some of the prettiest spots in Skye, or just enjoy imagining how much prettier beauty spots are without a covey of shivery men in thick anoraks in them...

These are the Fairy Glen:






Monday, March 13, 2006

Snow thoughts from a brood

What I missed by coming to the UK:
http://www.birdchick.com/2006/03/birds-as-weather-forecaster.html.

I go up to Scotland tomorrow to rendezvous with the Stardust recce crew, where more snow probably lies in wait. (I'm not going to point out to them that the Quiraing and such places are probably going to look a bit different five weeks from now.)

Brilliant day. Any day you get to walk the deck of a ship that fishes for lightning in the clouds with your family has to be a brilliant day.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

An extremely not exciting day

Last night Miss Maddy watched the episode she missed on Thursday "America's Next Top Model" on a Tivo 4000 miles away, and it made me smile, mostly because I'd never watch something like that for pleasure, but watching it with her, as she covers notepaper with the names of the contestants she likes, crossing them out when she decides she doesn't like them after all, drawing thumbs downs next to them when they don't get selected or get sent away, makes it somehow enormously enjoyable.

Then we both slept for about 14 hours (good lord) and woke up feeling human. I took Maddy for a walk down to Covent Garden, bought her shoes (light blue Converse high tops) and fish and chips then wandered up to the British Museum and we had a cup of tea in the courtyard. I showed her the Reading Room, and failed to explain to her why it was so magical for me, or why getting my first Reading Room Card was so unutterably cool and important (I was about 21 and wanted to read rare James Branch Cabell stuff, and to research Caspar Hauser, for, I think, a radio play I was writing). She sort of took it on trust, and I hauled her through the Egyptian Room trying to explain why the Rosetta Stone was cool, but mostly she just wanted to be back in the hotel talking to her friends back home on the hotel computer. I bought a new cell phone (a Nokia 6230i) in the warren of electronics shops on Tottenham Court Road.

Maddy's now gone off to spend the night with her cousins, and I'm settling down in the hotel room to finish the last round on a script for a short film I'm writing. Tomorrow's a batch of interviews in the morning, then wander in to some Stardust casting, then out to Pinewood.

The beard has been, regretfully, consigned to the plug-hole of history, but my hair has decided to just get weirder to make up for it, and has sproinged off in several directions at once.

The most exciting thing I did today was successfully manage to copy the phone book off my old phone and onto my new one. (The most exciting thing I saw were Leigh Baulch's original 1987 character designs for SANDMAN, which he dug out for the Absolute Sandman collection, along with my first drawing of the character, which I gave Leigh for reference back then.) Given that it was a very quiet sort of recover from travel day, it was all the excitement I needed, and I have no doubt there will be a lot of excitement over the next three weeks to make up for it...

(From the hotel room above me comes a noise that sounds exactly like someone using a file to saw through prison bars. I just thought you'd like to know that.)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Home Thoughts from a Beard

In some sort of ironic weathery wossname, yesterday was the first true day of spring in my area of the Midwest. The sun shone, the snow all melted, snowdrops came up, winter was finally done, and so Maddy and I waved it goodbye and went to England where the first thing I heard as I walked through the hotel room door was a nice man on the radio saying that blizzards are expected in Scotland this week. I go up to Scotland on Tuesday.

Waiting for me in the hotel was a very impressive video camera which I'm meant to use over the next few weeks to record a sort of Stardusty Video Diary of things like Going to Pinewood, and Watching the Director Looking at Locations in the Highlands and Islands. I tried recording a sort of test burble-to-camera in the hotel room, played it back and discovered that my beard now looks like half a badger stuck to the lower half of my face, I could really do with a haircut, and that after a nice long transatlantic flight and not much sleep my eyes are mostly rather scary looking bags, in addition to which the white of my left eye seems to have turned a deeply disturbing shade of bad-horror-movie red.

I'm at that stage where all I want to do is sleep, but it's late afternoon, so I'd better keep going until tonight.

(A brief test showed that the Slingbox worked perfectly, which shouldn't have surprised me but it did. The realisation that I was using my computer to watch TV and control a TIVO 4,000 miles away is somehow much more science fictional than anything else that's happened this week.)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

scribble. scribble. scribble.

I used to be really good at writing lots of different things at the same time. These days, er, not so much. The first few pages of the Eternals have gone off to John Romita JR; another script lurches through the night towards being done; an introduction gets slowly written; and I have to start thinking about writing something on Superman for Wired. Meanwhile I keep thinking of things I need to blog, and the questions and such keep coming in. Not to mention a long interview with the Times today I'd forgotten about...

But in case you were wondering, Roger Avary and I are indeed writing a film adaptation of Charles Burns's wonderful BLACK HOLE together; Dave Mckean is going to be directing S.F. Said's lovely Varjak Paw for Hensons; Peter Straub is going to fulfill his lifetime dream by appearing on the soap opera ONE LIFE TO LIVE starting March the 27th (playing a character called "Peter Braust"); and the strange distant howling noise in the room that I couldn't figure out what it was turned out to be what happens if you leave your web browser on http://www.gaimanmckeanbooks.co.uk/wolves.htm and then forget about it (I wanted to show the Improbable Theatre/National Theatre of Scotland people the Wolves in the Walls eCards and screensaver that Bloomsbury did, because they're so very cool).

Also, while going through papers yesterday I found the diary that I wrote and Dave McKean drew (with occasional small drawings and comics by me) of our US signing tour for Mr Punch in 1995ish. I'm very tempted to transcribe it and put it up, if Dave doesn't mind people seeing his drawings (including an elf-juggling Santa and us as a raven and a cockroach signing books...). I'll ask him.

(And for those of you who've written in wondering, Robert De Niro's part in the Stardust movie, Captain Shakespeare, is basically Stardust's Captain Alberic with a bit more to do, renamed by Matthew for mysterious personal reasons.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why I won't do homework...


Let's see -- Kelli Bickman's eBay art auction is in its last day. She's auctioning off this piece, the original design for the mural she did for me, for the CBLDF and the Tibetan Women's Association.

In addition, the CBLDF is inviting comics professionals to Jim Hanley's Universe tomorrow, Wednesday March 8th, to sign the Danish Flag, in a gesture of support for Danish cartoonists (it was Colleen's idea).

One of my heroes -- Ivor Cutler -- is dead. Here's the Times Obituary.

Hello Mr. Gaiman. My name is Daniel Antolin, a print journalism undergrad at Cal State Northridge in California's San Fernando Valley. I was reading your article in The Guardian about comic book movies while doing research for an article I am writing about how comic book movie fan sites are influencing the way movie studios make such films. I had some few questions in that regard I was hoping you would be kind enough to answer. Do you frequent any of the comic book movie fan sites? Which ones and what is it you like about them? What sort of director tends to make a good comic book movie? At first antagonistic to comic book movie fan sites, movie studios are now cozying up to these sites, giving them free promotional material, inviting them to press junkets and to their sets. What do you make of all this? Is it because they really want to make a quality comic book films with fanboy input or are they trying to control the content of these sites by telling them what to report? As a screenwriter, how are superhero movies harder to write than regular movies, given that there is so much comic book/graphic novel source material to keep in mind? Do movies tend to help out a comic book's official story line in any way, say by filling in time gaps, making material more realistic, tweaking characters? What are some example of this occuring in comic book movies? Have you ever had to change something from in a screenplay from the comic book/graphic novel mythos? If so, what did you change and what was the reason? Working as a movie screenwriter, what seems to be the attitude of Hollywood bigwigs toward a comic book's source material? Do they take it seriously? What is the transtion from a graphic novelist to a movie screenwriter like? What specifically did Alan Moore dislike about V for Vendetta? What is the state of comic book and graphic novel sales as of late? Is business good? Do movie adaptation boost sales? Do you have any major gripe s with the new Superman and X-Men movies coming out this summer, from what you have seen thus far? Why do you think more Marvel comics are made into movies than DC comics? If so, what are they?

Hello Daniel. You know that bit on the Ask Neil page that says I won't do your homework? I'm afraid this would count as doing your homework. Good luck with your article.

Hi, I love your work and do you mind if I ask you a few questions. Also, how do I contact you directly, instead of using this form?
Mark


Well, you could always try to find the next signing I do and ask me questions there.

I'll be doing a Q&A after one of the Preview performances of Wolves in the Walls in Glasgow.

hi neil, i recognized that the book covers for anansi boys are really much alike the ones for susanna clarke's "jonathan strange & mr. norrel". is that a concidence , or am i missing a trend? greetings eva


I think they're much more like the covers Headline already did in paperback... (I thought I'd posted them here before, but I can't find them now.) Which reminds me -- the search function is now working...

Hello Neil,

See what Dave McKean had to say about you:

http://filmfocus.co.uk/lookat.asp?FeatureID=72

See what I had to say about your film:
http://filmfocus.co.uk/review.asp?ReviewID=20628

See what happens if you abuse the livestock:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4748292.stm

love from

Simon
http://0tralala.blogspot.com



The poor goat.

And Dave is right, of course, especially about film being a director's medium. It can be astonishingly frustrating for a writer during the process -- at some point I've had each of the directors I've written for over the years say words to the effect of "Well, of course you can write that if you want to. But I won't shoot it."

(It's also worth pointing out that writers don't have any say in casting. Ocasionally we get a vote but it's only a vote.)

Which is one reason why writers occasionally say "sod it" and direct something.

(Here's another interview with Dave McKean.)

Neil-Dumb question but how many black leather jackets do you own? And where do you get them from? bye- Deb

I think there are about five of them, some heavy, some lighter. And they come from all over (one came from Jonathan Carroll, one came from Aardvarks on Melrose, one came from another leather jacket shop now closed on Melrose and was then heavily customised and reworked by Talana Gamah and Ieish, one came from a leather jacket shop in Neal St...). The lovely paper-thin Armani one I got to wear in Singapore and the Philippines dissolved in Chicago while I was on tour.

You appear to be agonizing over the order of stories in your next collection. As a reader I rarely experience such collections in order. I scan through the list of titles and pick and choose the ones that appeal to me depending on my mood. Am I depriving myself of the authors intended experience, or are you just over thinking it? Miss Idlewild


I think it's a reader's prerogative to read in any way he or she wants (I'll sometimes pick some of the shorter stories to read first in a collection). You can skip the poetry, or start at the back and work forward, and the author won't mind (or this one won't). Some people don't read introductions -- I think they're missing out on something interesting (which is why I'll be writing an introduction to the new collection on the plane to the UK on Friday) but that's up to them -- it comes free with the rest of the book. As an author it's nice to think that the order you're putting the stories in is a better experience than just putting them down any old how. My editor, Jennifer Brehl, just sent me her suggested order, and I think we agree on how it begins, and I think we agree on the broad sweep of what happens after that, but disagree on the details. And I think that's a good thing. It may not matter, but it's nice that we care.

...


Hello, I have been translating the journal from English to French for 6 months or so, and will now need to pass the torch, as it were.I find myself with much less time than I had previously, and well, you blog a lot.Should anyone like to take over the french blog I'd created, I'll gladly hand it over. I have put such a notice on the blog itself. http://neilgaimanfr.blogspot.com
Best regards,sky

Thanks so much for all your hard work, Sky. And if anyone wants to take it over, let her know...



And finally, Maddy would like it to be widely known that she voted for Kellie Pickler in tonight's round of American Idol.

hasty postings

Deadline world is getting weirder, and I'm doing almost nothing but writing, eating, sleeping, and, when I remember, bathing, given that I'm flying to the UK on Friday (and bringing Miss Maddy along, as it's her spring break), and have to get several other things finished before I get out there and plunge myself into WOLVES (with, perhaps a smidge of Stardust on the side -- and incidentally, according to today's Variety
Paramount has set Robert DeNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer Claire Danes, Charlie Cox and Sienna Miller to star in "Stardust," an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel to be directed by Matthew Vaughn. Pic begins shooting in the U.K. and Iceland next month.)

(And Mark Strong will be playing Septimus.)

Several people have written to let me know that the Tournament of Books has begun at http://www.themorningnews.org/tob/ and that you can wager money (for a good cause)at http://www.coudal.com/tobmorningline.php. Anansi Boys has dropped from 8-1 odds to 5-1...

More stuff (and I hope, more interesting stuff) later.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

secrets revealed...

You know, I'm much too good sometimes not posting things I know them. The aintitcoolnews brigade post things when they find them out though. So if you want to find out about Stardust (although it's talking about a draft of the script that isn't the current one, that was indeed on the secret Hollywood best scripts of 2005 list) and if you want to find out the Stardust casting secrets that I'm not at liberty to talk about here (with the caveat that I think one of the seven cast members that Moriarty names isn't going to be in it) then you want to go and read this.

Charlie Cox, pictured here in Casanova, is indeed going to be playing Tristran Thorne, and is also a very nice guy.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Divine Extermination and Wolves, Wolves, Wolves

I'm reading up on the myths and beliefs of the Middle Ages currently, mostly for pleasure although I suspect it may turn into something one day, and I keep stumbling over odd things. Like realising, with a start, that I recognised a number of names and places and stories in Sabine Baring-Gould's CURIOUS MYTHS OF THE MIDDLE AGES from the work of James Branch Cabell (and I'd noticed, years ago, that Cabell had taken something of his book The White Robe from a history quoted in a Baring-Gould book on Werewolves -- and the same account had inspired Saki in "Gabriel-Ernest", and me in "Only The End of the World Again", although we'd all taken the story to different places). Starting to wonder how much of Baring-Gould was in Cabell's library.

Also, as something that I found faintly shocking, but which explained something about the Middle Ages, was a paragraph in the William Granger Ryan translation of the The Golden Legend (which is much fuller and better than any of the Caxton versions of the
Golden Legend up on line), where I learned, in the chapter on the Birth of Jesus that...

Even the sodomites gave witness by being exterminated by wherever they were in the world that night, as Jerome says "A light rose over them so bright that all who practiced this vice were wiped out; and Christ did this in order that no such uncleanliness might be found in the nature he had assumed." For, as Augustine says, God, seeing that a vice contrary to nature was rife in human nature, hesitated to become incarnate.

The idea of a god of love whose first action, before becoming incarnate, was to cleanse by "exterminating" an indeterminate number of people for having sex with people of the wrong gender, is one I find remarkably disturbing, although it gives a very immediate picture of a specific mindset, not always medieval, just as the Grimm's tales in which Jews are laughingly killed set the stage somehow for the horrors of Nazi Germany.

Fascinating too, is the attitude to the old gods, who are mostly identified as being Satan, but not all and not entirely, as if the original stories of Saints versus Gods have been rewritten to make sure people know that really it was The Devil they were battling -- there's a great almost head to head between Saint Nicholas and "the wicked Goddess Diana", when he frustrates her plan to burn down a church with magic burning oil. (The Caxton version is up at
http://www.catholic-forum.com/Saints/golden133.htm for the curious. And note the interesting behaviour of Diana in http://www.catholic-forum.com/Saints/golden132.htm.)

Hi Neil,
I just saw listed on Locus Online that you have Fragile Things being released in October. I hadn't seen any mention of it in the Journal. Is it a collection of shorts or such and I have just complelely blocked any mention of it before?
Thanks
Steve
http://www.stevethorn.com/blog


It's the next short story collection. The US cover art is lovely. I've not mentioned it that much here before because I'm feeling guilty about it -- I ought to be finalising the story order and writing the introduction to it, and I've still got a couple of things to finish before I can get to that point.

...

And finally, designer-co-director Julian Crouch told me that he wouldn't really mind if I posted a snapshot or two from the musical Wolves in the Walls workshop I was at last November here... So this is Julian himself, in the Tramway, showing us a prototype wolf's head he'd just made from burlap and glue sticks... Or possibly it's a wolf, showing us a Julian Crouch he'd made earlier...




More details and info about it at
http://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/content/Show_Wolves.html a web-site currently covered with Dave McKean (or, as the Daily Mail had it, Dave McKenna) wolves. (And I'm found talking about the Wolves production at http://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/content/default.asp?page=s3_1)

Friday, March 03, 2006

"Bizarre, bonkers... rather brilliant"

Dominic Wells in The Times writes an article much like the one I did on comics and films, only much better, at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22872-2051239,00.html, and he reviews MirrorMask at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22872-2062264,00.html, while Wendy Ide reviews it for the Times at http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,14931-2064442,00.html.

The Daily Mail hated it, which made me oddly happy, particularly because the reviewer made a big point of it being a Waste of Lottery Money. That MirrorMask wasn't made with Lottery Money, of course, would never bother the Daily Mail, who were, the last time I looked at a copy, very concerned with people wasting lottery money and asylum seekers. I'm sure that it was only due to shortage of space that they didn't accuse MirrorMask of harbouring dodgy foreign asylum seekers.

(I can't see the review on line, I'm afraid. But looking for it, I idly googled Flook, the "Trog" cartoon strip that was, when I was growing up, the only thing worth reading in the Daily Mail, and found myself reading the obituary of Sandy Fawkes, married for a while to Wally Fawkes, who was Trog, and shaking my head in wonder. When I die I want someone to write that sort of obituary about me. She wore clothes that had been in the height of fashion in the 1970s, for, since she ate little, she had kept her figure. She habitually wore a fur hat that made it look as if a cat was curled up on her head...)

The UK cover of ANANSI BOYS in paperback just arrived in my email, and I discovered:

a) that it will come in two versions, the white and the blue, each with a silver spider's web on it.

b) despite the cover having the same content and typeface as the UK hardback -- showing my name, the book's name and a spider's web -- this version is somehow really cheerful and upbeat, while the hardback, with a different web, was sort of sinister...

c) it will have a quote from Ian Hislop on the cover, which probably won't mean very much to non-Brits, but will mean a lot to readers of Private Eye or watchers of Have I Got New For You?

It will look like this:


and it won't be out from Headline for a few months.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Why I Am Not Running A Cat Circus

The article I wrote last week for the Guardian is in the paper on Friday and now up and readable at http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,1722069,00.html; along with a Channel Four review by the floppy-haired and enthusiastic Saxon Bullock at http://www.channel4.com/film/reviews/film.jsp?id=154243.

A few people have written to complain that it's now taking about nine hours for the blog entries to show up on the LiveJournal feed. Nothing I can do about it, I'm afraid.

This article explains how to train cats to do magical tricks in circuses. "Each cat likes to do her own trick," said Kuklachev, whose show has not been the target of animal rights protesters. "Maruska is the only one who does the handstand. I find the cat and see what they like to do and use that in the show." I find this with my own cats. Fred the Unlucky Black Cat, for example, would have an amazing career in any circus in the world if you could just make Running Up Enormous Vet Bills For Mostly Trivial Things a spectator sport.

Season 3 of NewsRadio is now out on DVD. You needed to know this.

And I keep trying to work out the moral from this news story. Honesty is Probably Mostly the Best Policy, perhaps. Or If You're Going to Allegedly Fake Your Own Death to Get Out of A Speeding Ticket, then Don't Keep Speeding perhaps.

Polish Book Trailer Here

Mag, my Polish publishers, said it was more than fine with them if I put their ANANSI BOYS commercial up here. I think it's mainly going into Polish cinemas. Obviously, the actors in it are Polish, rather than Anglo-Caribbean, but I think it's really fun, and it made me smile...

(I tried to find a website for MAG, and found their edition of Smoke and Mirrors instead, with a really sweet cover.)
[Ha! Found it. http://mag.com.pl/]

The commercial is in Windows Media format, and is about 1.5 megs.

I think there should be a lot more ads for books, and not just in Poland...

Click here, or right-click and save it...anansi_wmv.wmv

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Polish Book Trailers...

Neil,Others have probably written in about this, but this business about NO needing books has been floating around the internet, and their library web site says otherwise:"Many caring people have contacted us to offer donations of books for our damaged libraries. While we much appreciate any offers of assistance, the best way to help NOPL at this early stage of our rebuilding process is to donate funds."And, if my source (an anonymous comment made in another blog, so I can't credit its authenticity) is right, "it makes sense that they can't handle a big influx of books right now. Only 5 of 13 locations are open. Their offsite storage warehouse is closed. Some branches are closed indefinitely."

Point taken, although I do wish you'd sent a link -- for at http://nutrias.org/ it does say "Many caring people have contacted us to ask how they can help. You can assist by donating funds or books. New books will be used to replace those damaged in our branches; the Friends of NOPL will accept used books for their fund-raising book sales".

But it definitely looks like they need money to restore things much more than they need books.

...

Artist Kelli Bickman has put up a slide show of the creation of the painting she did for my room at www.kellibickman.net -- it's in the murals area. Meanwhile in her news we learn that she's auctioning the original drawing she did for the painting on eBay, with the money raised going to the CBLDF and the Tibetan Women's Association. Link here.

[Edited to add, you can see Kelli working on the drawing in question at http://homepage.mac.com/kellibickman/home2/PhotoAlbum31.html]

...

I'll be a Guest of Honour at my first UK Convention in a few years in September, alongside Ramsey Campbell and Juliet E. McKenna -- http://www.fantasycon.org.uk/. My first FantasyCon was in September 1983. It was the first con I'd been to. I was 22, a freelance journalist, and I interviewed Gene Wolfe and Robert Silverberg, and I even wrote an article about the con itself for a London Magazine (that was never published because when I went to the magazine to turn it in the publisher-editor was loading the last of the office furniture onto a van, never to be seen again). It'll be good to go back . And according to the Fantasycon blog, Clive Barker will be a guest as well, which is going to be fun -- I've not seen Clive for much too long.

...

The oddest, strangest and coolest thing in my email today was from Poland, where they've made a minute-long commercial that's basically a film trailer for the Polish release of ANANSI BOYS. I love the idea of commercials for books, and this one is marvellous -- Polish actors playing Spider, Fat Charlie, Daisy and the rest, and it looks funny and charming and sweet and scary. If they give me permission I'll put it up here.

The second-coolest thing was three versions of the cover of the US paperback version of ANANSI BOYS, with different typefaces. And I'll see if anyone would mind if I put them (or just the one we picked) up here tomorrow...

Goodnight.
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