Friday, August 01, 2003

Radium parties

Okay. First of all, a half hour English radio show you ought to listen to. It begins with stuff about the Radiation mania of the 1930s -- people would use Radium Suppositories, hold Radium Parties where you'd drink Radium drinks from punchbowls in darkened rooms and glow in the dark and giggle a lot. And Radium-dissolved-in-water was sold as a 1920s Viagra -- which was fine until bits of you, literally, started falling off. Then, as the show goes on, we get Perpetual Motion, and the concept of the Internet Bubble of the late 90s as giant Ponzi scheme. Lovely stuff.

I must be completely mad and/or blind, but I can't seem to find a "search" button on your site. Is there one and I just can't find it, or isn't there one? It's driving me nearly insane trying to search your journal archives.

It's the magnifying glass on a book, over on the left hand side of the page: it takes you to

Neil -

(Regarding your blog/journal entry from the 31st about which order to read Sandman in...)

An English teacher of mine was incarcerated in Fall of 1998, and I merrily took his stuff to hold onto. Included were The Kindly Ones, The Wake, and Worlds' End. Well, none of them were packed together so I found them in that order and read them in that order.

Just 3 short years later I mustered up the courage to go on Ebay and buy the whole damn series hardcover. I actually thought it was incredible to go back and see how everything led up to those. You really cannot fathom a number high enough to match the amount of times I went "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, THAT'S who that is!/how that happened!/why s/he said that!". It was terrible fun, and would like to make a bet that regardless of what order you read them in, the last Sandman book you get to will blow you away.

My best friend got them one at a time, totally out of order, and I think finished with Brief Lives. It just makes us go back and re-read the whole thing IN order, I hope you know. ;)

At any rate...Not to disagree with the creator, but reading them out of order did for the series what the lack of chronology did for Memento, Pulp Fiction, and most film noir.

And through the thousands of movies, books, comics, jokes, anecdotes, and other pieces of fiction I've worked my way through, The Sandman remains the single best story I've ever heard, by far.

Finally and most importantly...Did you know where you were going with it by the time you got to The Doll's House? You said by then you "knew what you were doing", but did you know where it would end? This question has plagued me for YEARS, and I would so greatly appreciate you replying to it. Please please please? :) Thanks.

Indebted to the life lessons I've learned from your pages,
-jonny in atlanta, GA.

I always knew where I was going. I didn't actually know everything that would happen on the way.

And I'm pleased that Sandman works out of sequence (although I suspect you'd then have to read it in sequence for some things to add up.)

Dear Neil,

Hi - hope you're well!

I think you made a fair point about "Assassins", one of the most misunderstood works of musical literature (and I truly believe it deserves that title). But I think "Assassins" is much thornier ground than that cartoon.

As it happens, the musical always DID suffer from exactly those kinds of allegations - that it was encouraging assassination, not examining it as a symptom of national disarray. Not so long ago Sondheim was planning to take it to Broadway - something he didn't manage with the original 1991 production - and everything seemed set to go, on the evening of September 10th, 2001 ... the next day, however, a musical which contained Sam Byck's monologue about crashing a plane into the White House, ending with the phrase "we do what we have to ... we kill the president", suddenly didn't seem so viable.

I think that cartoon was just a little confusing, though innocent enough when explained - not so "Assassins". It contains a lot of unpleasant, even vicious home truths, which definitely make for compelling, informative and provocative musical theatre - but I guess there are times when that has to be sacrificed for plain tact.

Hope this doesn't come across as preachy - it's more intended as a thought-out response to your comments.

Hope everything is proceeding smoothly! All the best,


Doesn't come across as preachy at all.

I don't think Assassins glorifies the act of murdering presidents; the biggest message I took from it is that these are small people, sad people, crazy people, in a country that has a history of shooting at its presidents...

It's good art, and it makes you think. I don't really think that one should sacrifice art for tact; although the demands of the marketplace may mean that less people see Assassins than other things that Sondheim has done. (And not taking it to Broadway September 11th was wise, given the national mood -- not because of Sam Byck's prescient monologue, but because people in New York really didn't need it just then.)

At this point, given the times we're living in, I think that staging Assassins and letting people argue about what they've seen has to be a healthy thing to do.


Here's an interview about Wolves in the Walls.

I'm a huge fan of early Peter Greenaway movies -- there's a Guardian article by Greenaway about The Draughtsman's Contract, which may be useful for anyone who got to the end of that film and went "What?"

The ALA have a press release about their Sandman reading poster here -- It's only available through the ALA, but you might want to encourage your local bookshop/library/comic store to get one to put up (or get one yourself).

It's by the immensely talented P. Craig Russell. It looks like this: