Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Get well soon, Julie; and so on, and chutzpah.

Let's see -- I was checking the Journalista! Blog and learned that Julie Schwartz is seriously ill with pneumonia. Julie's 88. He's a bald, crusty, bulbous-nosed, gruff old New York Jew who has more than his fair number of claims to fame -- he was the DC Comics editor who took DC into the Silver Age, for example. Before he was an editor, he was an agent: he was Ray Bradbury's literary agent, and H. P. Lovecraft's literary agent, and Bester's, and Bloch's. He knew Siegel and Shuster when they were all SF fans together, back in the dawn of time, and published one of Siegel's first stories, about the Rise of the Supermen, in his fanzine. He knew everyone, and everyone knew Julie. When he retired, some years ago, DC Comics made him their goodwill ambassador, and it was in this capacity I first met him, at the Brighton Worldcon in 1987. I told him the plot of this book I was going to write for DC, called Black Orchid, and he listened to the whole thing without grumbling, and we've been friends ever since. He's a mensch.

There's a book of Julie's reminiscences out there, although it's now out of print, and hearing him reminisce is a lot more fun.

I really, really really hope he pulls through.

Updates on his condition are over at the Harlan Ellison board. (Harlan has a board? Who knew?)


The latest round of the CBLDF auction is up on eBay. Lots of goodies...


Yes, the photo is delightfully sinister, and there's no question we're all tickled that the novel is coming along apace. I'm even happy to have learned about Bramleys, as I live in an area where they may be grown. None of this, however, touches upon the critical issue: HOW'S FRED?? Here you fill us in on the poor fellow's sundry travails, knowing that there are cat people out here who will be interested and concerned, and then POOF -- nothing. Zip. Nada. Not even so much as a "He's still in the attic, chattering away, and the leg has healed nicely now, thank you." Instead, we're left hanging. Fred Interruptus.


I've been Fred-free for a little while, although I go home very soon, and will learn how to carry on conversations with other human beings again, not to mention all those skills I've kind of lost since I went off into starting-a-novel-world. The report from home is that he's happy and healthy, but a handful, as he desperately does "I-am-the-most-important-cat-here-and-I'll-beat-you-up-if-you-don't-acknowledge-my-wonderfulness" stuff, which none of the other cats are particularly impressed by.

do you think that keeping a journal helps you place ideas or does it just make them more difficult to remember? like they become written so then they don't fester in your brain creating havoc and stories? or does writing daily things down in a journal turn into a sort of routein that helps you with writing of other things?
Why do you keep a journal?

I'm someone who's forever running into half-jotted ideas for things I've completely forgotten in notebooks, so I never worry that putting something in a journal -- physical or online -- does any more than make a marker of it for when I forget.

As for why I keep a journal, well, I've never managed to keep a diary. This is probably the closest I'll ever get...

Okay, I was reading the post inquiring if you are right or left handed, and my brother, sitting near me and reading over my shoulder, started laughing and mumbled something having to do with hands and, well, lets not go there. At any rate, it lead to him asking about your wife. And the question, coming from a fifteen year old's head, isn't worth repeating, but it did make me realize I have not the slightest about your wife. Not that it is any of mine or anyone else's business, but since you do include quite a bit of info about your kids, friends, friend's kids, and so forth, it is a bit odd that I have never seen mention of her. Is there a wife, or significant other? Are you separated? Or is there an agreement that the wife, or significant other not be mentioned in the journal? And if there was a wife and she passed away, then I am so sorry for bothering you. Jamie;)

I did a site search for "wife" and was relieved to see more than twenty references to mine, by me, on this journal. She doesn't get mentioned as much as, say, Maddy, but then, Maddy will say things like "Have you mentioned me on your journal recently? Say that I'm cool. No, don't say I said to say I was cool. Just say I'm cool." Whereas my wife is happier to be a shadowy and mysterious figure in the background, or something.

Ni Neil!

Mysteries and Conundrums in Neil Gaiman's 1602 #5 is up on Comic World News at this link.

Now that the fate of Richard Reed and his companions has been revealed, maybe you could settle a question that's been raging in the discussion forums, without giving too much away. It concerns the Captain in the Ballad of the Fantastick.

(From Issue 2)
So the captain he ups and he says to Sir Reed,
My crew they are shaking with fear,
So we'll take to the boats and we'll wave you goodbye.
For we're leaving the four of you here, you here,
We'll leave every one of you here.

(From Issue 4)
But just as they think that their troubles are o'er
They re-al-ize what they've become,
For the captain's a monster, which irks him full sore,
The bravo's a burning man, flames from him pour...
While the Lord was as pliant as gum, by gum,
With his lady...

If the captain tells Sir Reed that he and his crew will leave "the four of you here", how can he also be one of the four who transforms later?

At first I thought there were two separate captains, but that would seem to contradict the tale told in issue 5, where the commander of the vessel appears to be the same individual as the man who was changed to a creature of rock.

So which is it? One captain or two?

Thanks again for all the fun you're giving us with this series! I can't wait to hear what the Watcher has to say to Strange...

Jason Pomerantz

It was the mutinous bosun, calling himself the captain, who abandoned the three of them and the real captain on the ship. It's all explained in several of the verses that Matthew's never sung, and it made sense when I wrote it, although seeing no-one except me has ever seen any of those verses, it would have made more sense just to call him the bosun in that verse in chapter two, wouldn't it?

Did you know that you are a Googlewhack? (two words removed)
Best wishes,

Well, if I'd included the two words in question, it wouldn't be a googlewhack, would it? One of them was supernacular...


What exactly do you mean by chutzpah? Who, what is it?! I've tried looking on Google, but can't come up with a solid example of what you mean.


Well, here's the legal definition (including the Supreme Court use of the word) at

A lot of it's just effrontery, sheer brazen nerve, and a sort of monstrous cockiness. I used to have a little quote from Muddy Waters taped to the side of my typewriter (which dates this statement to pre-1986), which I put there after talking two different publishers into giving me book contracts, at the age of 23, with no idea whether or not I could actually write a book.

The slip of paper said, "Don't let your mouth write no check your tail can't cash," and I would stare at it moodily as I wrote.

Hi Neil!
Awhile ago you posted that you got some Bose headphones (your post follows my signature); how did you like them? My wife has noise issues and was thinking of getting a pair for additional blockage.
p.s. Thanks for having such a great blog.

To be honest, the place I am right now is so very quiet that I've not tried them for noise-blocking yet. I'm sure I will, the next time I get on a plane for a long trip, and will report back.

hi neil,

just heard your on simon mayo's radio show, i was wondering what was it that you were happy to do just before the news started and they remembered to turn your mic off.


Did they leave that in? That's funny. The producer (who was in London) had just asked me over the headphones if I'd be willing to do another quarter hour segment, and I said I'd be happy to.