Thursday, April 02, 2009

Apparently if you just write BEAVER! people's minds head straight for the gutter

About a decade ago we had beavers in the creek (which, pronounced crick, is what they call something bigger than a stream and smaller than a full-sized river, where I am). And then the flood came, and the beavers, and their dam, were washed away.

I missed them. I even sort-of missed having to go down with a chainsaw to fix the trees they had dropped in the wrong places. (For nature's engineers, they were astonishingly rubbish about taking down trees in the places they needed them to be.)

So today, walking with the dog, I was thrilled to discover that they're back.

Down by the bridge the beavers have built a dam by an old telegraph pole (that used to be a bridge before the flood that washed away the last beavers washed away the bridge too).

Here's a very beaver-chewed and bark-stripped lump of wood...

And a dog who cannot work out why I stopped a perfectly good walk to take photographs of boring stuff.

My plans this Saturday Night are very simple: I am going to see Jason Webley, who I discovered in 2006 when I saw the video for Eleven Saints on the Fabulist, and linked to it here. Jason then sent me lots of music (including this song), I loved it, we met briefly in London, met again on stage at an Amanda Palmer show in Camden... and in all that time I have spectacularly failed to ever be home when he played in Minneapolis.

(Me on the left. Jason Webley with the guitar. Onstage with Miss Amanda at Koko's in Camden Town.)

And -- finally -- I'm home when Jason is playing here. So I will be there.

and Jason is all over the place this year. To see if he's coming to your town,

And on the subject of things I want to go to, there will be a Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minneapolis this year, in June. It'll be a convention without a Guest of Honour, which just fine for a convention that is, after all, all about the conversations. At previous 4th Streets I've been to, panel discussions continue in hallways and conversations in hallways spill over to become panel discussions.

I've said I'm not going to any conventions as a guest this year, apart from Worldcon; but if I turn up at 4th Street, I'd not be a guest, I'd just be part of the conversation....


I've come to realize that you haven't made mention of the Watchmen movie here or on Twitter. I know you and Alan Moore are chums and was wondering what you thought of the movie? Have you had a chance to see it?


Never saw it. Kept waiting for someone whose opinion I respected or at least who has the same tastes that I do to tell me "It's amazing, you have to see it, you'll love it!" but instead I kept hearing, "Well... it's got some good bits, the opening title thing, you'll like that, and actually, the end is pretty good, you don't miss the squid... and... well, the plot's a bit all over the place and... I mean, they really pay a lot of attention to recreating scenes from the comic, sometimes a bit pointlessly know they're all superheroes now, not just Dr Manhattan, I mean they can all do super stuff... and, well, it's definitely got some good bits..." over and over. I'll probably catch it on HBO sooner or later. Maybe even be pleasantly surprised.

Hi, Neil,

I wasn't sure if you had seen this or not:

Looks like you're a popular tattoo subject!

I love the contrariwise site -- there's something so cool about literary tattoos (except, as I've said, when they're misspelled). And am fascinated to see what this week brings.

Dear Neil,

A lot of schools are pushing for young adult literature, and especially graphic novels, to have a spot in the regular curriculum. As a writer of both yourself, can you see some of your own work being taught in a classroom setting? Do you see the validity for young adult lit as a gateway into more canonical literature, or more for an entertainment perspective?

I am curious as I enter into the teaching profession myself and would like to use such works in my English classes, but also understand that sometimes a book can just be for fun. Thanks!


Honestly, I'm the last person you should ask. I've never been convinced that there's any meaningful division between high culture and pop culture - I think there's good stuff out there, and there's stuff that's not much good, and that Sturgeon's Law applies to high culture and popular culture: 90% of it will be crap, which means that 10% of it will be amazing.

I'm always pleased and slightly caught off-guard when people tell me they're teaching my stuff, but am no longer surprised.

(Nor is Scott McCloud.)

In the early years of this blog, someone asked if there were any colleges that taught any of my books as part of the curriculum, and we got about 60 replies I think. It's probably a bit more than that now.

And as long as it doesn't ruin things for people that they might have otherwise enjoyed, it doesn't worry me at all. (I remember reading Matthew Cheney's piece on teaching "Bitter Grounds" with enormous pleasure, though.)


I really enjoyed this article by Tim Martin in the Telegraph about How Comics Became Part of the Literary Establishment (made, for me, slightly more amusing, because the person who prompted the "lady of the evening" quote was actually a long-retired Telegraph literary editor).

Tori's new song "Welcome to England" is up with glorious video at Pink Is The New Blog:

The alchemy of collaboration makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts, wildly different from either part, and scorchingly beautiful. To read this book takes but a few minutes, but if you can't meditate, this book offers peace. It offers a bit of joy and redemption and is likely to make you forget for a few minutes the details that might draw you down. When you return, you'll feel refreshed. You'll feel rewarded. There's not a lot I need to say about this book. It will make a fine gift for any young girl you know, for any woman or family you know or indeed, for yourself. Turn away from the world, just for a moment of solace. When you look back, the world will look better...

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