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Thursday, May 31, 2007

a harum scarum life

Off to the UK in a few hours to present some clips from Stardust at the Hay on Wye festival, and then up to London to be interviewed a lot and to see an ALMOST finished cut of Stardust. I've been holding out these last six months against seeing the incrementally more finished versions of Stardust, wanting to see it with all effects and music in place. We aren't quite there yet, but I'm finally going to get to see it anyway, and will report back. Then home on Tuesday. Too much bloody globetrotting going on, if you ask me.

Occasionally I grumble about low standards of journalism out there in the world, but I was fascinated to see how the Independent created their "cell phones are destroying bees" story out of, more or less, thin air. They were obviously proud of their article -- and as they said in a follow up about a town that had banned cellphone masts because of the damage it would do to bees. Last month, The Independent on Sunday reported exclusively that exploratory research at Germany's Landau University suggested the radiation interferes with bees' navigation systems. Read this Herald Tribune article, as they explain that the Independent article was "a good story....



except that the study in question had nothing to do
with mobile phones and was actually investigating the influence of
electromagnetic fields, especially those used by cordless phones that work on
fixed-line networks, on the learning ability of bees. The small study, according
to the researchers who carried it out too small for the results to be considered
significant, found that the electromagnetic fields similar to those used by
cordless phones may interrupt the innate ability of bees to find the way back to
their hive.... cellphones and cordless phones emit different types of radiation and what you learn studying one type is not necessarily significant to the other, according to the researchers.



Which means that it's not science, it's just bad reporting. End of grumble.


And finally, before I leap into a car and drive to the airport, here's a sneak preview of the cover of Smoke and Mirrors that will be out, er, I'm not sure actually. The trade paperback (oversized) US Harper Perennial editions of the books will be getting new covers in a uniform edition. They will all, for the next few years, look sort of like this. Which is to say, both respectable and odd. For reasons that I do not understand (but doubtless some of you do) the colours went utterly weird when I tried to upload it to Blogger, so I imported the jpg into Picassa and tried to wrench the colours back to where they are on the version I was sent, except the picture in the window window isn't blue, it's a sort of a mustard green...



Hang on. I'm going to try again. Maybe if I juggle it between formats....





Hmm. Well, the version I got from Harper Collins was a sort of a cross between the two... perhaps the best thing is for you to use your imagination, and it will look like that.

...

And now I have to run. Or at least, drive.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

a general sense that you haven't been sleeping in clover



I sat on the couch last night around 9.30pm with many things still to do, planning to watch a bit of TV with Holly before I went back to work... and I woke up at 3.00ish in an empty room with a crick in my neck and the certainty that last night's quota of Doing Things was done.

Anyway. This is just a quick one to say that the copy of Ultimate Spider-Man 100 with a blank cover that was pencilled by me and inked by Joe Rubinstein (who magically manages to make my drawing look decent) is now up on eBay where it is making money for the Hero Initiative ( a wonderful organisation that provides assistance to elderly comics creators) (http://www.heroinitiative.org/).



[Edit: I've found a bigger picture of the Spider-man cover -- click on it for a larger version.]

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Monday, May 28, 2007

This is not a blog post

I'm still proofreading the second volume of ABSOLUTE SANDMAN. It's not just proofreading the comics -- I just finished going through the script for Sandman 23 -- the first time I'd read it since I wrote it back in 1989...


Which means I'm not writing the story of how "Ivory Bill" Stiteler and I figured out what was wrong with the house network (unsurprisingly it sort of had something to do with the photo back in this icy entry), and I'm barely blogging about the Cornish Tamworth Racing Pigs and my puzzlement over the animal rights spokesperson's quote at the end of the article, which seems to come down in favour of killing the pigs as long as they don't have to race. If I was a pig, I can confidently assert that I'd rather race than be eaten. And I'm not going to blog about the campaign to get Northampton's Finest Son an honour of some kind (http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/AlanMoore/) which seems very sweet, but frankly I'm not interested unless they make him Official Wizard of England. Now that would be an honour. An MBE, on the other hand doesn't seem the sort of thing that Alan needs. He'd just put it down somewhere and it would wind up under the sofa. But if they made him Official Wizard he would wear a hat.

Over at http://www.birdchick.com/2007/05/memorial-day-bee-update.html you can see photos and even some videos of Bill, Sharon, Lorraine and Cabal-the-wonderdog a bee-ing on Saturday in my absence. That's a proper blog entry. (This isn't.) And Sharon was so impressed by Clan Apis that she's decided to write a graphic novel about Peregrine Falcons, and is looking for an artist -- learn more at http://www.birdchick.com/2007/05/seeking-comic-book-artist.html.


I know you're fond of the Web Elf, and we're all fond of the Web Elf for doing such a great job with the site -- but if things ever get tough, and you've got to let her/him/them go, you could always be your own webmaster, like this author:


http://noonebelongsheremorethanyou.com/


I've never heard of her, have no idea if her writing's any good, but that's a great idea for a site -- if I wasn't poor and all, I'd run out and buy her book right now. And thanks many times over for your own site, it's the best!-- Teresa C.


Yup. That's the kind of website that makes you want to buy the book and give chocolates to the author. How cool.



How did you get ahold of so many Jack Benny recordings?-Ticia



I think I got them at http://www.otrcat.com/jackbenny.htm.

...


Now back to proofreading (and colour-checking, and obsessing over details on) A Game of You...

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Graduation Days

So this is Holly last week at Bryn Mawr, getting her degree...


With her brother and sister in attendance...


And these are a few photos of Maddy and Mike from this morning, when Mike got his Masters from Brown.



And, in case you were wondering, this last one is a photo of me and Maddy last night and it's rather blurry, and I've just started growing a scruffy beard, and I'm not sure who took it, but there weren't any other photos of me on my camera, mostly because, well, it's my camera and I was taking the photos. I'm sure there will be lots of decent ones with me in as well on Holly's camera, mind you.

Also I am typing this with an 80lb dog asleep on my foot. He seems astonishingly pleased that I came back.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Up betimes...

The last few days have mostly been spent proofreading -- first the CORALINE graphic novel...
(lovely art by P. Craig Russell. Here's a page with some rats on it)





...and then the second volume of Absolute Sandman. (I've done about 250 pages so far.) I fixed the Joshua Norton announcement declaring himself emperor, which was right in the script but had somehow been changed when it was lettered, and I also changed a word that I realised a few years ago did not mean what I thought it meant when I originally wrote that issue (no, I'm not telling you which word).


Author copies of Interworld and M is for Magic arrived today.


I've reeived my Mysterious Device From the Big Company, and am still in the stage of playing with things and making my mind up. I know it's brilliant in theory, not so sure about it in practice, yet.


I learned from a Variety article that Beowulf would be at the Venice film festival, but I asked and was told it probably wasn't going to happen. The New York Times correctly says that Beowulf will be in 3D where available.


Hi Neil, I have a recoloring question regarding Death in the (absolutely gorgeous) Absolute Sandman volume(s). In the original comics, Death had a vaguely "flesh tone" skin color (albeit very pale) in "The Sound of Her Wings," but appeared to have totally white skin for the rest of the series. In the Absolute volume, she now has a more clearly defined pinkish skin color (contrasting with Dream's white) not only in TSOHW but also in "Men of Good Fortune." So my (long-winded) question is: will this change be made to Death in her later appearances in subsequent volumes? And if so, why the change? Thank you! Jon Van Hoose


Death was meant to have pale skin, but not white, and that was how she was coloured in Sandmans 8 and 13. On her third appearance (in "Facade", Sandman 20, reprinted in Absolute Sandman Volume 1) Steve Oliff coloured her white, and it stuck that way for the rest of the series. I'm not really sure why the change. I used to get to approve things up to the point of colouring, but the production process back then meant I never got to see the coloured art until it was printed. (I was thrilled working on 1602 and Eternals to find that I could see -- and make little corrections -- on the actual colour.) And no, we won't recolour her.


Glad to see you doing the beekeeping thing. I've beenconsidering getting a hive for some time now and actually have theequipment (i.e. hat, veil, smoker, etc.). The only thing that worries me a bit is the stinging. I know that's a silly thing to worry about if one is going to keep bees, but still. Have you been stung yet at all, or does it worry you much while you work on the hives?


Currently we (me, the birdchick and her husband Bill, Lorraine and anyone else who helps out with bees) have a pool, and the first one of us to get stung gets $10 from each of the others. Over a month into beekeeping no-one's yet collected anything. I'm not sure that it worries me too much, actually -- bee stings are, I am informed, good for preventing arthritis, something I like the idea of not getting.



Neil -I don't know if anyone has pointed this out to you yet, but a friend of mine recently posted this e-bay auction:http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230133612433


It's a tea set based around the Endless, complete with fish-covered Delirium teapot, bag of sand sugar bowl, Despair mirror coasters, heart/broken heart Desire creamer, and of course, tea cups in the shapes of two members of Death's floppy hat collection.Most importantly, of course, 100% of the sale is going directly to the CBLDF through MissionFish.


Just thought you'd like to know.-joe-

Good to know.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Two Authors in Need of a Shave

Let's see -- Stardust stuff first:
There are more Stardust photos up at moviesonline.com -- here's Dunstan Thorn at the market, at the start of the film, meeting a young lady over a stall that sells glass flowers...



Click on the picture to see more photos...

Those of you in London or the UK might want to go and check http://www.forbiddenplanet.com/comp/stardust/ and investigate the competition for Forbidden Planet screening. The question is impossibly difficult, mind.

(I've heard that the Stardust screening at Hay on Wye probably won't be a full screening, given some technical limitations, and I'll instead be presenting some of my favourite sequences and answering questions.)

...

Dinner last night with Michael Chabon, and then I got to sit in the audience and watch the Talking Volumes interview at the Fitzgerald Theatre -- herewith a picture of us backstage trying to get the damnable cellphone to give us a decent photo, after several blurry failures. Michael is still smiling. I am glaring at my cellphone going "work, damn you".

I am holding his book as a prop -- but am really looking forward to reading it... (this is John Clute's review).


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Monday, May 21, 2007

fireflies

I went to Philadelphia and watched Holly walk across the stage in a cap and gown and collect her diploma, and I was proud as any parent could possibly be. Then I came back again.


(Next week I do it again, only this time to Providence and to watch Mike get his master's. Slightly less thrilling, as he left in December and has been working at Google for most of this year, but I'm sure I'll be every bit as proud and happy.)


I only got online to tell you that if you take the dog for a walk last thing at night you can find yourself unexpectedly seeing the first fireflies of the year twinkling in the bushes, and what a fine thing that is.

But then when I got online I discovered that the Stardust Movie site is now live at http://www.stardustmovie.com, so I thought I'd mention it.

And I learned that the second volume of ABSOLUTE SANDMAN has just been announced at the DC Comics website -- http://www.dccomics.com/graphic_novels/?gn=7881:


The second of four beautifully designed slipcased volumes, THE ABSOLUTE SANDMAN VOL. 2 collects issues 21-39 of THE SANDMAN and features remastered coloring on all 19 issues as well as brand-new inks on THE SANDMAN #34 by the issue's original penciller, Colleen Doran, and a host of bonus material, including two never-before-reprinted stories by Gaiman (one prose and one illustrated), a complete reproduction of the never-before-reprinted one-shot THE SANDMAN: A GALLERY OF DREAMS, and the complete script and pencils by Gaiman and Kelley Jones for Chapter Two of "Season of Mists" from THE SANDMAN #23.

Vertigo 616pg. Color Oversized Hardcover $99.00 US

(The illustrated story it refers to is what we old-fashioned types call a "comic", and it's the painted John Bolton Desire story that I was never able to persuade DC comics to do as a poster; the prose story is the short story that was on the box of the original Sandman statue.)


Somehow I doubt that Amazon.com will accidentally stick it up at $14.95 this time, but it's probably worth checking to see if they do.


And my advance copy of "In the Country of the Blind", an H. G. Wells short story collection with an introduction by me, arrived today. Having a few hundred Penguin Classics on the shelves, it's extremely nice to have one up there that I had something to do with.


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Saturday, May 19, 2007

A fashion (and hair) retrospective

Ian Sinclair, who is one of my favourite writers, and was at Alan's wedding, described me, Alan Moore, Iain Banks and Kim Newman circa 1990 as "a hair retrospective" when we appeared in his novel Radon Daughters, and, in the same sequence, told the world that "Graphic novelists in expensive leather jackets entertained wizards of the photocopier by converting their royalty cheques into Irish malt whiskey".

Which is by way of saying that Jose Villarrubia sent me a photo of me and Alan, at Alan's wedding. There's a cricket game going on in the background of the madhouse, but we're standing in the way, so you can't see it.




We're still a hair retrospective, and I'm still wearing an expensive leather jacket. I just hope that we're so far out of step with the world we're in again, otherwise there's no hope for us.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Nature of the infection

There are too many introductions to things on my hard drive, and I thought I'd pull a few of the uncollected ones out, mostly for books that are now out of print.

I'm off today to Holly's graduation. It wasn't that long ago as these things go that I was blogging about how she was going to college and what we did the week before.

Anyway, a few introductions in the weeks to come. This is from an introduction to a Paul McCauley Dr Who novella that Telos published in 2003, "Eye of the Tyger", a few years before the current team revived Dr Who so very well.

The Nature of the Infection


The years pass, and the arguments go back and forth over whether watched fiction actually has an effect on the reader or the viewer. Does violent fiction make a reader violent? Does frightening fiction create a watcher who is frightened, or desensitised to fear?

It’s not a yes, or a no. It’s a yes but.

The complaint about Dr Who from adults was always, when I was small, that it was too frightening. This missed, I think, the much more dangerous effect of Dr Who: that it was viral.

Of course it was frightening. More or less. I watched the good bits from behind the sofa, and was always angry and cheated and creeped out by the cliffhanger in the final moments. But that had, as far as I can tell, no effect on me at all, as I grew, the fear. The real complaint, the thing that the adults should have been afraid of and complaining about was what it did to the inside of my head. How it painted my interior landscape.

When I was three, making Daleks out of the little school milk bottles, with the rest of the kids at Mrs Pepper’s Nursery School, I was in trouble and I didn’t know it. The virus was already at work.

Yes, I was scared of the Daleks and the Zarbi and the rest. But I was taking other, stranger, more important lessons away from my Saturday tea-time serial.

For a start, I had become infected by the idea that there are an infinite number of worlds, only a footstep away.

And another part of the meme was this: some things are bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. And, perhaps, some people are bigger on the inside than they are on the outside, as well.

And that was only the start of it. The books helped with the infection – the Dalek World one, and the various hardcovered Dr Who Annuals. They contained the first written SF stories I had encountered. They left me wondering if there was anything else like that out there...

But the greatest damage was still to come.

It’s this: the shape of reality – the way I perceive the world – exists only because of Dr Who. Specifically, from The War Games in 1969, the multipart series that was to be Patrick Troughton’s swan song.

This is what remains to me of The War Games as I look back on it, over three decades after I saw it: The Doctor and his assistants find themselves in a place where armies fight: an interminable World War One battlefield, in which armies from the whole of time have been stolen from their original spatio-temporal location and made to fight each other. Strange mists divide the armies and the time zones. Travel between the time zones is possible, using a white, boxlike structure approximately the same size and shape as a smallish lift, or, even more prosaically, a public toilet: you get in in 1970, you come out in Troy or Mons or Waterloo. Only you don’t come out in Waterloo, as you’re really on an eternal plane, and behind it all or beyond it all is an evil genius who has taken the armies, placed them here, and is using the white boxes to move guards and agents from place to place, through the mists of time.

The boxes were called SIDRATs. Even at the age of eight I figured that one out.

Finally, having no other option, and unable to resolve the story in any other way, the Doctor – who we learned now was a fugitive – summoned the Time Lords, his people, to sort the whole thing out. And was, himself, captured and punished.

It was a great ending for an eight-year old. There were ironies I relished.
It would, I have no doubt at all, be a bad thing for me to try and go back and watch The War Games now. It’s too late anyway; the damage has been done. It redefined reality. The virus was now solidly in place.

These days, as a middle-aged and respectable author, I still feel a sense of indeterminate but infinite possibility on entering a lift, particularly a small one with white walls. That to date the doors that have opened have always done so in the same time, and world, and even the same building in which I started out seems merely fortuitous – evidence only of a lack of imagination on the part of the rest of the universe.

I do not confuse what has not happened with what cannot happen, and in my heart, Time and Space are endlessly malleable, permeable, frangible.

Let me make some more admissions.

In my head, William Hartnell was the Doctor, and so was Patrick Troughton. All the other Doctors were actors, although Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker were actors playing real Doctors. The rest of them, even Peter Cushing, were faking it.

In my head the Time Lords exist, and are unknowable - primal forces who cannot be named, only described: The Master, the Doctor, and so on. All depictions of the home of the Time Lords are, in my head, utterly non-canonical. The place in which they exist cannot be depicted because it is beyond imagining: a cold place that only exists in black and white.

It’s probably a good thing that I’ve never actually got my hands on the Doctor. I would have unhappened so much.

A final Dr Who connection – again, from the baggy-trousered Troughton era, when some things were more than true for me – showed itself, in retrospect, in my BBC TV series, Neverwhere.

Not in the obvious places – the BBC decision that Neverwhere had to be shot on video, in episodes half an hour long, for example. Not even in the character of the Marquis de Carabas, who I wrote – and Paterson Joseph performed – as if I were creating a Doctor from scratch, and wanted to make him someone as mysterious, as unreliable, and as quirky as the William Hartnell incarnation. But in the idea that there are worlds under this one, and that London itself is magical, and dangerous, and that the underground tunnels are every bit as remote and mysterious and likely to contain Yeti as the distant Himalayas was something, author and critic Kim Newman pointed out to me, while Neverwhere was screening, that I probably took from a Troughton-era story called “The Web of Death”.

And as he said it, I knew he was spot on, remembering people with torches exploring the underground, beams breaking the darkness. The knowledge that there were worlds underneath... yes, that was where I got it, all right.

Having caught the virus, I was now, I realised with horror, infecting others.

Which is, perhaps, one of the glories of Dr Who. It doesn’t die, no matter what. It’s still serious, and it’s still dangerous. The virus is out there, just hidden, and buried, like a plague pit.

You don’t have to believe me. Not now. But I’ll tell you this. The next time you get into a lift, in a shabby office building, and jerk up several floors, then, in that moment before the doors open, you’ll wonder, even if only for a moment, if they’re going to open on a Jurassic jungle, or the moons of Pluto, or a full service pleasure dome at the galactic core...

That’s when you’ll discover that you’re infected too.

And then the doors will open, with a grinding noise like a universe in pain, and you’ll squint at the light of distant suns, and understand...

NEIL GAIMAN
August 19, 2003

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

gets you coming and going

Still getting over jet-lag, which seems to have hit me from both directions at once, which is what you get for flying to the UK for three days.

Lots of people have written to tell me about the UK 160 top Books for Boys initiative -- http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article1796075.ece. It's a sort of government sponsored Guys Read initiative. I'm pleased to be on it (three times), but am a bit puzzled by the list -- I suspect because The Times has left out the categories, age groups and so on that it comes with (eg, the first 14 are obviously "Books of Facts"). I think Neverwhere or Good Omens would be better on the list than the Mirrormask book, but there may have been categories I don't know about.

I didn't really like Michael Hearst's Songs For Ice Cream Trucks when I first heard it, but I've discovered it to be the perfect palate-cleanser when iTunes is on random -- the Ice Cream Trucks songs always make me smile and relax when they turn up. I'm not sure I like them as a meal in themselves, but they are amazing at the right time. Much like ice cream.
http://cdbaby.com/cd/michaelhearst

I missed the last visit to the bees this weekend, what with being at Alan and Melinda's wedding, but the Birdchick writes about it at http://www.birdchick.com/2007/05/belated-bee-report-unregulated-comb.html
(you can also read her account of birds spotted out here at http://www.birdchick.com/2007/05/everything-but-oriole.html and her review of the copy of Clan Apis I forced her to read at http://www.birdchick.com/2007/05/clan-apis.html).

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Monday, May 14, 2007

The mathematics of dogs and sofas

I'm home. I still have a dog, and I also still have bees. Probably a few thousand more bees than when I left. Still have three cats. I have less of a sofa than I had before, due to the dog eating it while I was away, but it wasn't a sofa I liked much, so I can live with that.


This is a picture of the dog on his way to eat another sofa probably.

A few people wrote to ask why I hadn't said anything here about my appearance at the Hay on Wye festival in a couple of weeks, and it's because since I'd agreed to do it, the powers organising it hadn't sent me any details or information to put up here, so I didn't know when it was or what was happening. And now I've found out the details (mostly via the FoEM site) I've also learned that Event 328 -- Which is a preview screening of STARDUST followed by a Q&A with me - is, um, sold out. If you're there anyway, it might not be a bad idea to hang around and see if anyone with a ticket doesn't show up.

There seems to be an awful lot of travel in my future, now that I just want to stay home and walk the dog and write. Two college graduations (Holly's this weekend, Mike's next weekend) over the next two weeks, then the UK STARDUST trip. In addition to which, I had tea with the amazing Guillermo Del Toro yesterday in London, and... well, we'll see. But it may involve another plane journey.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Some Photographs From the Wedding of the Greatest Living Englishman and Melinda Perry Gebbie

Alan waiting at the church. Chris Staros and Oscar Zarate lurk in the background

Melinda arriving

Signing the Register

Leaving the Guildhall. Oscar Zarate continues to lurk in the background

The Gonzo Dog-do Bar Band

As Alan and Mel sit this dance out, his rings begin to glow mysteriously, warning of an extraterrestrial danger...

Mr and Mrs Dave Gibbons. One of them is astonished.

Alan and Jose at the end of the evening

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Interrogatory

Q: How was Alan and Melinda's wedding?

A: Wonderful.

Q: Did Alan really wear a blue bowler hat?

A: Indeed -- and yet it merely topped off a costume that was colourful and remarkable. He was resplendent in his Edwardian finery, and should he now abandon his writing career and begin fighting crime as The Peacock -- he's a dangerous dandy! -- I wouldn't be at all surprised.

Mel was gorgeous too. But she didn't look like a potential crimefighter.

Q: Do you have any photographs?

A: Yes. But they're on the camera so I can't get the data off until I get home. I should have taken the phone camera too, so I could post something here, but there you go. You'll just have to wait.

Q: What was the best bit of the wedding, then?

A: It was either seeing old friends -- Dave Gibbons, Kevin O' Neill, Todd Klein, Chris Staros, Amber and Leah Moore, Oscar Zarate, Jose Villarrubia and on....

Or it was Alan's vows, which he wrote himself, a strange and beautiful love poem/invocation...

Or it was watching Alan and Melinda dance to the music of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band tribute group .

Q: So it was good, then?

A: Oh yes.

Q: Worth flying to the UK for, for the day?

A: What do you think?

Q: That's a yes, isn't it?

A: Of course it is.

Q: You promise to post a picture of Alan in his blue bowler hat, though? When you get home?

A: I promise. Can I go to sleep now?

Q: If you must.

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My Friday

Good morning.

Let's see. I bade my dog and family farewell and got on a plane to the UK. Slept a little on the plane, and also read Sherman Alexie's forthcoming ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, which was excellent in every way, poignant and really funny and heartwarming and honest and wise and smart. Seeing it's a YA book and that it contains alcoholism, an inappropriate erection and mentions of masturbation I have no doubt that in a year or so it'll both be winning awards and being banned.

Got to Gatwick, took the train to London. Checked in to hotel. Had a much-needed bath. Into town for a meeting with Hilary Bevan-Jones about THE ROAD TO EN-DOR and the mysterious Lyonesse, and from there to MARV films where I saw Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, and Stardust Exec Producer Kris Thykier, along with a new long trailer for Stardust, and a dozen 30 second TV spots, a couple of which I really liked, some were okay, and some were just wrong.

From there to see John and Judith Clute (and Farah Mendelsohn) in Camden. John was writing his review of the Yiddish Policemen's Union while I was there, and would occasionally put his head around from the kitchen and ask about Eruvs.

From there I ate dinner with J. Michael Straczynski (who is doing a signing today at Forbidden Planet). It was great catching up on all of the wonderful things Joe is doing. Back to the hotel and fell asleep like a dead thing.

Now off to Northampton.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sorry. And a short fillum.

While the people backstage were trying to fix some oddities with the RSS feed, it seems to have randomly splurted out a bunch of posts from April all over LiveJournal. So to all 16,007 LiveJournal subscribers to the feed, my apologies.

I suspect that a certain amount of work is going to have to keep being done in the background which may cause similar accidents in future weeks -- I just noticed that what blogger thinks it's looking for on Labels and what it's actually looking for are two very different things, for example, so right now the labels links mostly don't work.

So, I'm posting this by way of an apology to everyone who was going "razzin' snazzin' Neil Gaiman" last night...

I took Cabal to Dog Obedience school yesterday evening (at which he cheerfully disgraced himself in a variety of different ways). But it meant that I was armed with the tools to cope when, a little later in the evening, something like this started happening again...

And if the whole authoring thing doesn't work out, I may have a new career.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0yRfVpn0dQ if it doesn't embed properly on the RSS feed.)



I have to fly to the UK this afternoon, for Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's wedding on Saturday. There's too much travelling involved in the next few weeks, especially when I just want to stay home and walk the dog and write before the madness of the summer, but this one trip I'm doing because I want to, and I'm looking forward to it. Alan says he's going to wear a blue bowler hat for the wedding, and frankly that's worth flying across the Atlantic to see.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tabs, writing and why writers should not carry portfolios

I'm sending a box of Good Omens scents off to Terry Pratchett today. We have to vote on things like War (with or without ginger) and Shadwell (with or without condensed milk) and tell Beth at Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs what we think. If you put on a dab of War (with ginger) to see what it smells like on your skin, a large white dog will come and happily try and lick it off.

(I liked reading the Tarts discussing the scents...)

...

It is time for the closing of tabs:

There's a New York Times article on Picasso, Nick Bertozzi and the case in Georgia that the CBLDF is currently funding and fighting: This is the permalink to the article in question.

A page of reviews for Rogue Artists Ensemble production of Mr Punch in Los Angeles at http://www.rogueartists.org/press/mrpunch_reviews.php

Here's the round-the-world country by country release data for the Stardust movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0486655/releaseinfo

Ken Hazlett wrote to point out that I'd never linked to these dead insects battling dead fairies ("The thing that intrigues me is that it seems sort of half fairy-undead and half fairy biology/osteology, the singularity where science and magic intersect," said Ken, and he's right) which then left me wondering if I'd ever linked to these beautiful hybrids of insects and watch parts: science fiction as art.

Stephen Frug wrote to point out a blog where he's posted an analysis of one page of Sandman 19. http://stephenfrug.blogspot.com/2007/05/100-great-pages-neil-gaiman-charles.html

Dave Mckean has finished the DVD of his short films, and it'll be out for San Diego. I see there are a few samples up at http://www.squidoo.com/davemckeanfilm/ -- "Me and my Big Ideas" was a proposed TV series based on The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish, and the short film up was a sort of a sample piece done for it -- it uses Dave McKean art, but I don't think it was actually made by Dave.

I find the Antikythera Mechanism fascinating -- here's a slide show at the New Yorker site - http://www.newyorker.com/online/2007/05/14/slideshow_070514_antikythera?slide=1

Here's some photos of the New York PEN World Voices Town Hall event: http://yesconsiderably.blogspot.com/2007/04/pen-festival-photos.html
...

Hi,
Thanks for posting the new location of that Penn Jillette podcast. I feel bad for making you (or your assistant) search for it when I could have done that but I console myself with the knowledge that I'm probably not the only one seeking that information and this was really something that your readers wanted to know.

Thought you might enjoy the only comic convention report you'll ever need to read:
http://budgie-uk.livejournal.com/737978.html

I hope you are stretching and warming up before taking the dog out for a run.

Regards,
Heidi

Agreed -- I should probably go and fix the original post. And I love Budgie's every-con-report-you-need-to-read post.

Hi Neil

I'm writing because I'm a big fan of your work, but also because I'm an equally big fan of the no-nonsense advice you occasionally dispense in your blog.

I've just had my first short story published (in The Sun Book of Short Stories), and have been invited down to an awards ceremony in London for the Quick Reads Learners' Favourite Award. I'm informed that this will be followed by lunch and an opportunity for "networking and discussion with partners involved in the Quick Reads campaign".

As I'm a total newbie to this sort of thing, I'm asking if you have any advice on the proper etiquette for 'networking' with publishing industry-types. Being polite and friendly is a given, but should aspiring writers carry around a portfolio of their work, or would that seem overly pushy? Should I have business cards? And in which order should I use the cutlery?

Hope you can help.

Gavin

First of all, congratulations.

Secondly, you're not an artist, where having a portfolio might conceivably be useful if you're absolutely gob-smackingly amazing. You're a writer. There is no social situation in which producing a portfolio of your work will be acceptable or useful.

Business cards are your call. I've always meant to get around to getting some, but never have, in almost 25 years of writing. But they are useful and they save you having to find a napkin to write your address down.

If you're in a social situation with editors and publishers and other writers, go and meet them and make friends. Meeting other writers is fun. They have the same problems you have and they have different problems, and you can grumble together or support each other. Meeting editorial folks is good -- you learn that they are human, and nice and what they want and so on. They will relax considerably when they realise you aren't trying to sell them something. Possibly relax enough that, if you do ever want to sell them something, they'll be pleased to hear from you.

Don't go there to work. Go to meet people and enjoy yourself.

sir,
after deciding on writing a fantasy novel, how should i pick up the story line?i am a twelfth grader and i have decided to write novels in my forthcoming summer holidays..(for which there is exactly a year's time left !!)

I'm not quite sure that it works like that, or it doesn't for me. I rarely go "I will now write a ..." (whatever. Fantasy, or pirate story or detective story or ghost story) and then try and find a plot. Mostly, I go "This would be a story..." and then follow it where it goes. I think that's more fun. Worry more about your characters -- are they people you would like to meet and spend time with? -- and what you're trying to say, what the story's about, than you do what the story is. Because if you know what it's about, then you can simply inspect and use or reject ideas.

Enjoy yourself.

Dear Neil,

Being a Very Famous Author, you may not need to worry about this anymore, but when you had deadlines that absolutely needed to be met, how did you focus in order to force words to come out of your head? I'm trying to write my masters thesis right now (about a cow lameness detection machine) and was wondering if you could give some tips on setting the mood to coax a brain into writing. Also, having read Winnie the Pooh when I was younger, I noticed you sometimes write like Milne did. Instead of writing "very famous author" you write "Very Famous Author," minus the quotes. Do you know if that originated with Milne, or is it just something that writers do? Cool dog by the way!

Phil

It's what comes of reading too much Milne and Noel Langley and people as a boy, I'm sure although I suspect I was probably more influenced by Milne's adult essays and short pieces, from collections like The Holiday Round, (which contains the wonderful Little Plays For Amateurs) than I was by his children's fiction. The judicious use of capitals for humorous effect predates them, though -- W. S. Gilbert did it, and Jerome K. Jerome, amongst others.

As for deadlines...

Like a hanging, I find they concentrate the mind wonderfully.

The best suggestion I can make is to stop doing other things. Turn off the computer, or take a laptop somewhere they don't have wireless. Don't play solitaire or bring a mobile phone. Then write.

It's amazing how much time you can spend not writing, without even trying. Make a rule that you can either write, or not do anything at all. (No TV. No long baths. No reading New Scientist. Staring out of the window is okay.) Pretty soon, you start to write, because it's more interesting than staring vacantly out of the window. (I think I got it from a Daniel Pinkwater essay in Fish Whistle, and it's a wonderful concept.)

Hello,
Do you have any updates on Coraline for us? It's been a while since you have mentioned it.
Thanks.
-Jordan

I've seen a reel of the revised opening ten minutes, which they've tightened and made so it gives more information, with a very spooky opening title credits, and then I've seen a five minute sequence of Coraline talking to her parents while it rains outside and going and looking around the house, counting doors and blue things and so on, which was partially animated, and the animation looked amazing. It's still on track for a release by Hallowe'en of 2008...

Hi, I have a quick question in relation to your newly acquired pet, and pet name. I for one know I chimed in with Cabal. But I imagine about a million other people did as well. I was curious about all the different names you got sent. Did you see one time come up much more than others? Might give us insight into the group psychology of your avid readers.

TC


Barnabas and Daniel were out there in first and second place, but I didn't want to name a dog after a fictional character. Well, not from one of my fictions anyway. I think Cabal/Caval/Cafall variants collectively were in third place. After that, a few Barneys and then a madcap assortment of names from Bob to Ditch to Blank.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Horse races and horse trading

It's an electronics not working kind of a day. My voice mail isn't working, for example. Meanwhile, right now I'm waiting for an Internet tech support man to ring back. I told him that the internet was slow, and he sounded very doubtful and suggested that I do a speed test. I did. It's running at 6K, which was about half of what I'd guessed...

Anyway. Just a quick, happy post to say that Fragile Things was just nominated for the Edge Hill Prize for the short story.

According the web site (http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/Faculties/HMSAS/English/CreativeWriting/NWShortStory.htm)


The Edge Hill Prize is an exciting new award for excellence in the short story.

It will be bestowed annually by Edge Hill University on the writer who, in the opinion of the judges, is the author of the best collection published the previous year from a writer born or based in the UK or Ireland.

The winner in the inaugural year will receive a cheque for £5000 at an award ceremony at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester on 20th July 2007.

We are pleased to announce this year’s shortlist:

* Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things (Headline Review)
* Jackie Kay, Wish I Was Here (Picador)
* Nicholas Royle, Mortality (Serpent's Tail)
* Colm Tòibìn, Mothers and Sons (Picador)
* Tamar Yellin, Kafka in Bronteland (Toby Press)

All the authors on the shortlist have been invited to read at the 2007 Short Story Conference at Edge Hill University on 21st July.


It's a really diverse bunch of nominees, and I'm thrilled that Fragile Things made it onto the list. I think people mostly think I'm exaggerating when I tell them that for me the fun is in being nominated for awards, not in winning, but overall that's true. (There have been exceptions. I loved winning the Hugo for American Gods, mind, because it was so unexpected, and I loved winning the World Fantasy Award for Sandman 19, because it was a recognition for the medium). I guess it's because I've been an awards judge and have watched what happens (all too often, everyone's second choice wins, because everyone can agree on that), and because the gap between win and lose is so small. I like being nominated -- it makes me feel like I've hit an award-nominated level of quality, and that feels good. Beyond that, it's a horse race and the end result of the horse race doesn't matter. I realise that there aren't a lot of people who feel like this about awards, and I'm also aware that it's easy for me to say, because I've already got my fair share of awards and more, so talking about not caring about the actual winning can sound, frankly, smug. But it's still how I feel.

And this is a good award: there's not enough attention paid to short stories. They're seen as trivial, or not as good as novels. They have that whiff of unreality about them that means that people who only write short stories are always being asked when they will be writing a real book. I've not seen another award given to single author collection regardless of genre.

I wish I could be in the UK for the announcement and to take part in the reading, but I'll be doing Stardust stuff in preparation for the San Diego Comic-Con on the following Wednesday, which means I'll be in the wrong country that week.

Okay. The tech support man phoned back (he said I should phone another tech support line instead). Now I can take the dog for a run.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Advertising: threat or menace?

Let's see. There's good, exciting movie news that I'm not going to talk about before it's a bit more real and solid. But it's a happy thing and good, and as soon as I can talk I will.

I just got an email from my agent letting me know that the Czech edition of ANANSI BOYS by Neil Gaiman Won Best Fantasy & Horror title of 2006 by The Czech Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror (ASFFH). This was announced during the ceremony at the Prague Book Fair "Book World" on May 5th. I really need to go to Prague. People keep telling me...

I am tired out in a good way -- the continual walking the dog (and running the dog) seems to be agreeing with me. Today, we had to pick a name so that his microchip papers could be sent off, so we picked Cabal. But he does tend currently to get addressed either as Dog or Doofus. It's odd -- there are acres of woodland around here and I've almost never walked it on my own. Now I'm starting to walk it continually, and am promising myself that there's a lot of work that needs doing -- dead trees to clear and paths to restore and so on...

...

At Ain't It Cool, the mysterious Moriarty (who can, incidentally, be seen getting kissed by Harlan Ellison over at http://www.creatvdiff.com/harlan_ellison.php -- click on An Evening With Sharp Teeth to see the smooching incident) talks about his trip to New York, where he saw Stardust at the super-cool screening everyone was at except me (because I was in Montana, signing books and meeting librarians).

There are a handful of spoilers in there, but the review is very positive. It's at http://www.aintitcool.com/node/32575.

I spent a phone call the other day trying to convince an old friend that the Stardust movie wasn't an all-swordfighting extravaganza, the impression she'd got from the trailer.

I told her it wasn't. That it was a good movie, and that the places it deviated from the book were either about translating something from one language into another, or, infrequently, about time or budget. (We wanted a Lion and Unicorn fight. We simply couldn't afford one.)

What makes me happiest right now is that people who have seen it like it. The word of mouth is potentially there. Now we just have to hope it sticks around enough for the word of mouth to do some good.

So you don't go to the cinema often? Why not? Is it just a general aversion or do you get recognized or is it something I haven't thought of but should have been terribly obvious if i'd just shut up and thought about it for a moment? Any how, yes, 'Hot Fuzz' is a lot of fun. If you really liked it you should watch (if you haven't already seen it) their previous film 'Shaun of the Dead,' which is in the same vein only even better. 'Fuzz' was funny but lacked a heart to it, 'Shaun' has that heart and is the superior film.

Logan M. G.

I thought they were very similar films, doing very much the same sort of thing, just doing it in different genres. The "heart" is just the difference between a romantic comedy and a buddy movie. (Your mileage of course may vary.)

And yes, I go to films. I like films, and have never worried about being recognised (nobody recognises authors out of context anyway). What I meant in the last post was that I always go as a social activity, with someone or someones, not on my own, which made this an almost first. (I finally remembered the last time I went to the cinema alone -- it was in London in 1984 for an every-Sunday at Midnight double bill of Eraserhead and whatever they were showing Eraserhead with. Someone on the world wide web will remember, but I do not.)

...

My favourite disturbing article recently is this one from the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2073012,00.html.

The idea that an ad agency would create an "off the peg" rock group whose function is to make music to order for corporate clients that pretends to be real music (however you define "real") seems like the plot of a bad movie (as they fight to get free of their corporate overlords and make real music, or perhaps one lone member of the band slowly discovers that their souls are owned by Coke). There's a horrible wrongness to it, along with the idea that one day every band will be owned by an ad agency, and all songs will secretly be jingles.

Suddenly Bill Hicks seems wiser than ever...

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like cats and dogs

I just went to the movies by myself for, I think, the first time in my life (if you don't count the years I spent in the 80s as a film critic), to see Hot Fuzz. (Nobody else wanted to go but me.) Which I loved, didn't think was too long, and wish it wasn't only showing in one small cinema in a 50 mile radius of my house. The delight in making it came through all the way.

Hi,
Earlier this year you posted link to a podcast by Penn Jillette in which he mentions you and National Gorilla Suit day. I think that the podcast is no longer accessible. If it is, can you point me to the right place? I wanted my husband to hear it.

Thanks,
Heidi


I've searched and I think I've found it at
http://www.pennfans.net/view/Audio_Archive/PennRadio/Penn.Jillette.Radio.Show.2007.01.31/

Hi Neil! As I'm more of a cat person, I 'feel' for your cats! Are they jealous of your new dog? ~ Cancan =)

Jealous? No. Princess is alternately furious with me and desperately affectionate, Coconut (Maddy's cat) is mostly blase but also a bit more affectionate, and Fred is plotting on ways to get revenge on the dog for having treed him yesterday evening. It's the kind of thing I could be really funny about, but the truth is it's rather worrying -- the dog is convinced he needs to protect us from Fred, and has only actually barked twice since we got him, each time inside the house to warn us that Fred was walking around outside and might get us if Dog didn't protect us,meanwhile Fred on seeing the Dog arches his back like a Halloween card cat, swells to twice his size and makes strangled yowling noises to indicate his extreme displeasure. As far as the two mostly-house cats go, I think we'll be fine at getting them more or less to tolerate each other. Fred, however is a law unto himself, and it's going to be interesting.

...

There was apparently a Stardust ad in the LA Times today -- details and the ad at http://www.slashfilm.com/2007/05/06/stardust-movie-posteradvertisement/

Not sure about that tagline. Hope they can come up with something sharper before August. (My own suggestion, "Stardust. It's not a sequel to anything," was appreciated but, probably wisely, rejected.)

Rupert Everett (who plays Secundus) talks about Stardust at http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=20235

Somewhere I have a wonderful photo of all the ghosts sitting on a green screen mantelpiece -- I'll see if I'm allowed to post it here.

...

The bees on the apple blossom are some of them recognisably from my two hives, but there are also at least three other kinds of honeybee turning up. Which is a good reason to post a link to http://www.classicalvalues.com/archives/2007/05/where_the_bees.html...

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Responsibility, I expect

With great power comes great something or other. For example, one day, you make a joke about Anansi Boys (in a blog entry called Fizzle -- http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2007/03/fizzle.html. Last paragraph.) And the next minute someone is sending you a link to this:



That'll teach me. (And thinking about offhand comments that have spun off into webthings, I was sad to see that the Johnny Theremin site is currently no longer with us. But at least The House of Clocks is still up at http://www.preserveusfromthehouseofclocks.com/





Neil, I happened to be sitting next to you during Spidey 3, was wondering what your thoughts were. Also, I've recently worked on the interactive campaign for Beowulf (which looks amazing). Can you share your thoughts on online media as it relates to your work?

Not sure who you were sitting next to, or where, but I’m afraid it definitely wasn't me. (And I've not yet read a review of Spider-Man 3 that makes me want to see it anywhere other than possibly at the drive-in.)

Mostly I keep wishing that someone would take the web and do something completely original with it to promote stuff, things that only the web can do. But I can wait... And I'm really looking forward to seeing more on the http://www.beowulfmovie.com/ site than the current film. (But mostly I'm looking forward to the Wednesday Evening Beowulf presentation that Roger Avary and I will be doing at Comic-Con, when Stuff will be Unveiled.)

Which reminds me -- there's a German trailer for Stardust - Sternwanderer -- up at Youtube, and you can see 30 seconds of Stardust (as the witch eats the heart of the star) and an interview with Michellle Pfeifer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIGuFjokhrs

Dear Neil,

I was looking at the beautiful Dream Project site and at your dream posted there.
I did not recall you mentioning it before, so went through your labels to see if my memory was playing tricks on me (it does more often than not). But I found no mention of your dream post or of the Dream Project.
How come ?

Nathalie


Because at present the labels only go back to the beginning of this year, when blogger started doing labels. And they're fairly capricious anyway, and deeply unreliable. If you need to look for something, either search , or just do a google for site:neilgaiman.com and whatever you're looking for. I did that for Dream Project and got http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003/04/dream-project-is-online-magazine.asp

I just did a similar search for Clan Apis, which I'm currently rereading now that I actually know something about bees, and was surprised to find that I'd never talked about it here. Lovely, lovely graphic novel (I've still got the comics somewhere), I'm going to get Maddy to read next.

...

Hello there, Neil (if I may be so bold),
About the Dog and its name... I had already found it odd before, but now with the deluge of suggestions, it's itching my brain:
What was the dog's name before it was yours? Didn't the former (and farmer, ha ha) owner tell you? Shouldn't you be calling Dog whatever it was? I mean, dogs usually recognize their names, unlike cats (as far as I know, feel free to correct me on that)...

They do if they get called it, but I don't think anyone ever actually spoke to him. He was just tied up in the farmyard. He doesn't react in any way to his former name (it was "Buck") -- if he did, we'd happily keep it the same.

I'm having fun teaching him to sit. (It'd work better if he was more easily bribeable, though. What kind of dog doesn't like treats?) First obedience class Wednesday night.

King Arthur's dog was Cafall and Caval and Cabal and many variants thereon. I'm leaning to Cabal...

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Trousers

A deluge of messages, many hundreds of them, and all of them are dog-name suggestions. Some of them I've tried, but they don't seem right -- they sound wrong coming out of my mouth, or, mostly, they are terrific names but don't quite fit him, or, in a few cases, Maddy doesn't like them. (I wanted to go Arthurian, but the front runner, a Maddy pick, currently seems to be Thor.)

(Dog update. Vet today: Dog weighs 78lb and still needs to put on a little weight; is now microchipped; is also on antibiotics to deal with early stage Lyme Disease, and got all the various shots he needed. Also taken into the vet at the same time: Fred the Cat, who, with half of his face shaved and drooling thick slobber from being car-sick, looked like something from a horror movie, the sort of movie that makes you shake your head and wonder whatever happened to subtlety in horror.)

I've walked more in the last two days than I have in months.



I'm just going to go to close a bunch of tabs...

...

Scott McCloud has posted the first two parts of his on-line graphic novel "The Right Number" for free. Back when he originally posted the first part I signed up for the micropayment scheme, and gave them five dollars so I could pay Scott my 25 cents for the first part, and then, a year or so later, couldn't remember the email address, details or password when he posted the second part, so I'm glad they're both up for nothing now. It's a wonderful story. I can't wait for him to do the last part. http://www.scottmccloud.com/comics/trn/intro.html
is the link.

The fabulous Fabulist has a streaming radio station option up. I've been getting so much of my new music from them it's silly, and this is a great way to find out what I like before I download, put on my iPod and buy the CD. http://www.fabulist.org/archives/2007/04/streaming_fabul.html

There's a great Michael Chabon interview over at Salon: http://www.salon.com/books/int/2007/05/04/chabon/index.html

The PEN World Voices Town Hall reading is up at http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/1305/prmID/1376 -- you can listen to the whole thing or to individuals. For some reason, I've wound up with Nadine Gordimer's MP3 if you click on my name -- mine is actually at http://www.pen.org/audio_archive/2007_world_voices/home_away/Neil_Gaiman.mp3 but listen to the whole thing (http://www.pen.org/audio_archive/2007_world_voices/home_away/Town_Hall_Readings_HomeAway.mp3). It's worth it just for Steve Martin, or Kiran Desai or Salman Rushdie or... well, trust me and listen to it.

All of the PEN events should eventually be up in Audio. Keep an eye on this -- a link to the MOTH event -- http://www.pen.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/1340/prmID/1412. (Here's Laila Lalami's take on it: http://www.lailalalami.com/blog/archives/004691.html.) Incidentally, I got an email complaining that we had obviously all "written our stories first and then learned them". Nope. We just told them -- one rehearsal the previous afternoon, when we talked them through to the director, who gave us notes, and then on with the show.

Lucy Anne's collection of links over at http://del.icio.us/thedreaming is now so efficient I no longer feel like I have to make sure I keep the world updated with links to news articles about me and the Stardust movie and everything. I've told Lucy Anne that she can go into the old pre-labels world of this blog and tag everything from the first six years, because she has a much more sober attitude towards tagging than I do.

Hey Neil,

My wife and I had a great time at your Helena appearance and we really appreciate you coming out to Montana. So, thanks for that.

Also, I wanted to let you know that you're a special guest star on Brotherhood 2.0 today. My brother (John Green who's also with Writer's House and has a couple of YA novels out) and I have a somewhat popular video blog at Brotherhood2.com. We've stopped emailing and instant messaging and, instead, are communicating through daily video blogs for all of 2007.

Since so many of our viewers are your fans, I figured I had to include you in the project. Which, if you were wondering, is why you said "Good Morning John it's Monday May 1st" into a camera last weekend.

Sorry I didn't take the time to explain fully then, but the line was quite long and I didn't want to take too much of your (and everyone else's) time.

If you want to see the video it's up at brotherhood2.com.

Thanks,
Hank Green



And the link to the actual entry is http://www.brotherhood2.com/?p=101.

It's the kind of thing that makes me reconsider my attitudes to video blogging (mostly I don't like it, because I lose, as reader, control of the time axis of the experience. But this I liked).

Hi Neil, did you hear about this weird story?

http://www.dieselsweeties.com/blog/?p=44

http://threepanelsoul.com/view.php?date=2007-04-30

The world's becoming curiouser and curiouser by the minute.

Greetings from Fernet country,
Jan.



(Shakes head ruefully.) Then again, this in a country in which you can be sued for $65 million for losing a pair of trousers...

...


Finally, I'm enjoying John Scalzi's book tour. (I am possibly enjoying it most because I'm not on it, if you see what I mean.)

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

For anyone who ever wondered what I look like not in black...

When these photos were taken (yesterday morning) I had longer hair and no dog. Ah, how quickly time passes.



This is me and the Birdchick brandishing our beeing tools (she's holding the hive tool, I've got the smoker). (Photos by Lorraine.)



Smoking the hive.



Me and some bees. We were checking for the Queens and for egg-laying activity, and we found both. (More photos and a play by play of our hive visit over on the Birdchick's blog at http://www.birdchick.com/2007/05/new-bee-hives-after-one-week.html#comments

...

And I keep meaning to mention that people have written in by the dozen to let me know that, contrary to the review I linked to, the Region 2 UK DVD of Neverwhere actually does have all the extras that the US one had, including the bemused "I'm in a box watching this thing for the first time in 8 years... Ooh, shiny," commentary I did, which is, I suppose, a good thing. It's still disappointing we couldn't have actually done new stuff for it, but at least you aren't being deprived of what they've got in the US.

...

Lots and lots of people writing in suggesting dog names. (And convincing me that he really is a white German Shepherd Dog.) Several people wanting to know how Dog's getting on with the cats. (Princess and Coconut -- Maddy's cat -- are wary but fine. Fred, on the other hand, thinks Dog should go back where he came, and keeps him under remote surveillance while reporting in to Feline High Command. Dog thinks we need protecting from Fred, and has made it clear that he is willing to give his life if necessary in saving us from the menace of a small much-battered black cat. It's going to be interesting...)

...

This one made me shake my head at the ease with which someone got a book pulled from a middle school library, when the people overseeing it are pusillanimous twerps. (I bet Maureen didn't even mention scrota.)

While this one just scares and amuses me in equal measure. (Read it. It gets worse.)

Utah County Republicans ended their convention on Saturday by debating Satan's
influence on illegal immigrants. The group was unable to take official action
because not enough members stuck around long enough to vote, despite the
pleadings of party officials. The convention was held at Canyon View Junior High
School. Don Larsen, chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County
Republican Party, had submitted a resolution warning that Satan's minions want
to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty....

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Possibly not entirely unexpected news

I seem to have acquired a dog.

I got a call today to say that the owner of the dog I found on Monday had called the Humane Society and collected him. I was happy Dog was back with his family, but found myself rather sadder than I would have expected -- I realised I'd half hoped that maybe no-one would claim him.

The call went on to say that the dog's owner, a local farmer, who kept him chained up in the yard, and couldn't walk well so couldn't walk him, thought the dog was a nuisance, always getting out and heading onto the freeway and sooner or later he'd cause an accident, and, when the Humane Society lady mentioned that the person who found him rather liked him, he told her that if I came over and picked him up I could have him.

So I did.

The farmer said he thought the dog was a white German Shepherd. I think he's a German Shepherd labrador cross, but I'm probably wrong.

We seem to be getting on very well so far.

I was planning to blog about an amazing morning with bees and haircuts and about how Jouni is illustrating How To Talk to Girls At Parties.

But this entry is just about the dog, who doesn't quite have a name yet, and wouldn't stay still to have his photo taken, so eventually I dragged him into the office and turned on Photobooth...



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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Infernal Devices

A quiet day. I had a visit from a representative from a Major Company who flew all the way to the Midwest to show me An Interesting Device, and I'll write about it as soon as I know that it's not all confidential. I was fairly impressed by what I saw of the Device and will get one of my own to play with soon.

The Dog is fine -- we called the Humane Society and he's impounded for a week (which means I couldn't go over and say hullo and take him for a walk). Fred is back from the vet. We still have three goldfish.

I nipped out to see the hives today, wearing a white shirt and white jeans bought especially for beekeeping. I felt like Negative Me. Hive 1 (AKA Kitty) is doing brilliantly, Hive 2 (AKA Olga) is a bit more problematic. I don't think I'd ever realised that hives could have personalities before, despite having read Sue Hubbell's wonderful Book of Bees. (Here's a Sue Hubbell article from Time Magazine.) Tomorrow we check the hives to see if the queens are egg-laying. This is fun.

Fred is home from the vet and I just gave him his antibiotics. Maddy is watching American Idol. All's right with the world.

Let's see. Started reading Bryan Talbot's remarkable Alice in Sunderland today. Also got my copy of a short story collection I wrote an introduction to -- it's by Ellen Klages and is reviewed at http://www.locusmag.com/Features/2007/04/locus-reviews-ellen-klages.html

Dear Neil,

Can you or someone please post pics of that "cool dog" you found? First, I'd just like to see him. Second, maybe (maybe!) someone will recognize him!

Thanks,
Chris

Sure. He wasn't easy to photograph, mostly because he kept moving. This was the best one I got yesterday (you can't really see the wolfy ears, but they are there)...



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