Friday, June 11, 2004

Whales, beavers, unborn rabbits and barnacle geese, actually

I need to start listening while I'm talking. I was having an incredibly respectable telephone conversation with an extremely respectable person this afternoon, and the subject wandered over to Basque whalers, the way that it does, and I was explaining that whale meat was one of the few red meats that the Catholic church historically allowed to be eaten on Fridays and during Lent. "And, oddly enough, beaver was classified as a fish too," I explained earnestly and helpfully and accurately. "So on Fridays and during Lent people used to eat beaver." There was the sound over the phone of a very respectable and respected person making a sputtering sort of snorting noise, and I noticed that statement was capable of meaning rather more than I'd meant it to...


Many cool things happening. For example, over at the following gauntlet was thrown down, following complaints that things were getting sloppy:

Help me quit my job. Seriously. Click on that donate button and give me a buck... fifty center... five bucks. Whatever. I've more than enough readers that if over half of you did that, I'd have a year's salary and could quit my day job - and that's forty hours freed up for the comics. Go ahead.

So they did. $22,000 came in. He gave up his day job. That's cool.


There's a mystery beast in North Carolina, unless it's someone playing in photoshop.


Harlan Ellison's settled his case with AOL -- details at I take the sentence at the end of Harlan's statement to indicate that AOL paid Harlan serious money, because otherwise he wouldn't be in a position to return the donations. But I could be wrong.

Mostly I'm glad the case is over.


I've always wanted to ask a question but I never devised a good one. So recently I won a presitgious award and enough scholarship money to pay for a book or two, and I was wondering what was the first award for writing that you won and how old you were when you won it? Re-reading this I see that it is still a stupid question, but I guess I still feel uplifted for being recognized for doing something I love.
Thanks for all your writings, they helped to inspire me to go ahead and experiment and write "weird" things, and consequently it was a strange idea that led me to write a story which literally won me "artist recognition".


Let me think... I was awarded the School English Prize when I was about 13 (having been fairly beaten to it the previous year by a 12 year old Ian Hislop). The prize came with a Faber Book of Modern English Verse, and a copy of Return of the King (the school library only had the first two volumes of Lord of the Rings, and I'd read them several dozen times by that point, and I really wanted to know how it all ended).

Then nothing for another 13 years, until I got the Mekon Award from the UK Society of Strip Illustrators for Violent Cases. And since then I've got more than my fair share of the things.

About six months ago my wife, who was tired of tripping over them, got me a cabinet in which to keep awards, which sits in the hall and looks very nice. It contains lots of cool looking objects which otherwise were just sitting on windowledges and in corners, and attracting dust.


Please, Neil.
Is Fred doing better?

He seems to be absolutely fine at present. I stopped him leaping out of a second-storey window in pursuit of a fly, this afternoon. Twitcat.


Someone wrote in asking how to get stuff either signed by me or personalised by me for a significant other's birthday (and I won't put up any more info than that because otherwise the significant other might figure it out) -- the answer is, DreamHaven Books' site has lots of signed stuff in stock, and depending on when you need something by and when I pop in and sign stuff, it can sometimes even be personalised. They don't charge anything more for signed stuff than for unsigned. Drop them a line.


Do they manage to translate the names of the Endless into other languages alliteratively?

For French the obvious renderings are Destin, Mort, R�ve, Destruction, D�sir, D�sespoir, D�lire, which is close but not quite there.

--Mark Rosenfelder

Sometimes yes, mostly no. Vladimir, my Croatian translator, was incredibly pleased that he'd succeeded in making them all start with "S", for example.


And on the subject of listening while you're talking (which is where we came in) I learned from the Guardian today that the sentence that you need to master in order to become a real ventriloquist is "Who dared to put wet fruit bat poo in our dead mummy's bed; was that you, Verity?"

I thought you'd like to know that.