Thursday, September 09, 2004

How Cheesy Popcorn got his (or possibly her) name

Let's see...

While at Worldcon (actually at the end of Martha Soukup's reading) I ran into Johanna, who runs the House of Clocks website(, and who told me that they've now got rid of the Guestbook Spam invasion. This is good news, because the Guestbook of the House of Clocks contains the strangest assortment of stories and people you are ever likely to encounter. It's at There now appears to be some strange crossover between the people who report strange doings from the House of Clocks and those who are creating Johnny Theremin stories at


Those in the Minneapolis area may want to be reminded that I'll be doing a reading and a signing at DreamHaven next Saturday, September the 18th. I'll sign two things you've brought with you, and anything you buy on the day. They'll start handing out numbers at 11:00am and the reading bit will start at 3:00pm, and the signing bit will probably start around 4:00pm and go on until everyone's done. Details at

(I believe people can also order stuff to be signed over the web from DreamHaven's

Was pleased to see that M. John Harrison's remarkable LIGHT (as mentioned here several times) has a website of its own:


Several people wrote to say more or less this:

Hi Neil, Although Henry Selick did direct NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, the story & characters credit goes to Tim Burton (with additional writing credits to Michael McDowell for adaptation, and to Caroline Thompson for screenplay). Burton was also executive producer, and had considerable control over art direction, etc. Burton also has a background as a traditional animator, and had worked in stop-motion as well (see his 1982 stop-motion short VINCENT). Just a minor correction for you. ;) It's awesome to hear about CORALINE and I can't wait to see the film!!Yours truly,Jessica C. Adams

I'll stand corrected. (I said he didn't write or direct it, though, not that he didn't come up with the characters, or originate the story. Caroline wrote the script...)


OK Mr. Sand-Man (A.K.A. Mr. Swoon-Man) Why Haven't you written about the letters you got from the Yahoo Cerebus group asking for FREE SANDMANS??? Maybe you don't have a sence of humor?

Possibly, because I haven't received any and I have no idea what you're talking about. (Goes and looks at the Yahoo Cerebus Group to find out.) (Er, you know, you've rather spoiled that gag for them.)


The main reason I didn't say anything much about the NEA report a few months back which announced that people weren't reading any longer was because I thought it was utter bollocks.

I enjoyed this Village Voice article, mostly because it agrees with me:


Maddy has just got a much bigger goldfish tank in her room, which needed more goldfish in it, because the four she has were looking rather lonely. So she and I went out and bought four new goldfish. She named them, each in its plastic bag, as I drove us home:

Maddy: The black one's called Jelly. The smaller one is called Cheesy Popcorn. The middle one is Salsa. And the very little one is called Bubble.

Me: Cheesy Popcorn? Why Cheesy Popcorn?

Maddy (as if talking to someone very, very slow on the uptake): Because I really, really like Cheesy Popcorn.

Me: Well, you like Macaroni and Cheese. Why don't you call it Macaroni and Cheese?

Maddy (raising an eyebrow): Da-ad. Mac and cheese is SO two minutes ago.

To which I was unable to find a reply. Maddy has a goldfish called Cheesy Popcorn.


"(Actually I do suspect that Worldcon Fandom is ageing -- but I think that has a lot more to do with the con's location moving around the world year by year than with a general ageing of Fandom per se.)"
From my experience, I'd say the high average age of Worldcon attendees might have more to do with the *cost* - it's $200ish for a full pass, which might be kinda tough on teenaged pockets, not to mention trying to convince parents into permitting road trips to a convention where people have a different Star Trek uniform for each day of the week.

That, and the younger set seems to be far more interested in anime and comics, of which there isn't enough to justify a trip to WorldCon as opposed to ComicCon.

Just my observation, especially having survived Otakon here in Baltimore last month, with a significant fraction in costume!


Sorry -- that was me not making myself clear. Yes, Worldcon's a costly convention as far as registration goes. It's also going to have to be in Worldcon sized hotels, which means you can't always get cheap hotel space. It's also a costly convention you have to get to. And it's a con which, by definition, is often far away enough that even affluent authors, or people with hundreds of thousands of saved airmiles, balk. (I'd love to go to Japan for Worldcon 2007, especially because Yoshitaka Amano is the artist G of H, and it gives me a reason to finish the "Return of the Thin White Duke" story for him. But still, it's a long way away...) And a Worldcon can be a crapshoot as well: it may be great, it may be a disaster. Local cons, or cons like Dragoncon, are going to be more or less in the same place every year; if you go to one one year, it'll be there (and so will the friends you made) the following year. You can probably do it cheaper, leaving aside things like registration fees and so on.

(I keep hearing that fandom is ageing, but I normally hear it from fans (many of whom are also pros) who tend to hang around with other fans of their own age. I tend to go by the people in my signing lines, who start pretty young and go, incrementally, all the way up, and I don't see that they have any tendency to age. Except year by year, like the rest of us.)

And I tend to find that comics fans read books, and that anime fans also watch other things. Most people don't just like one thing.


Neil, regarding the jail journal, there is a link in the comments of one of the more recent entries that links to a story in a phoenix newspaper, and it tells what 'jon' is in jail for.I almost felt bad for him, until I read what started it all.

(Here's the article, for the curious.)

Jail is the place that you hold people who are awaiting trial, at least some of whom are going to be found not guilty (and some of whom, whatever the verdict, won't have been guilty; innocent people go to trial too, that's what trials are for), which would tend to suggest that, no matter how you feel the guilty should be treated, that holding innocent people in conditions like that is a pretty horrific thing to do. In Jon's case, he did it -- and, interestingly, and from the blog, is now relieved to be in prison, where the conditions are less nightmarish than in that jail.

Given that I personally know at least one person in the US who has been awaiting trial for over four years (and if I know someone, I tend to assume it's not an entirely uncommon phenomenon) I think it's a bad thing for human beings who may or may not be guilty to be kept in such conditions that arriving in prison is seen as a significant improvement.


I keep meaning to link to the Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell reviews that are appearing:

Here's Michael Dirda misunderstanding my use of the word English in the blurb.

Here's John Clute understanding it (although he has problems with the book I simply didn't have).

Here's a review by someone who read the same book that I did.

Susanna Clarke's schedule in the UK, Canada, the US and Germany is up over at If you're in the US she may, like the Monkees, be coming to your town in the next few weeks. Go and see her read, and say hullo from me. If you're lucky, she may even have Colin Greenland with her, reading the footnotes...

Susanna Clarke's US Events
Date: 13 September 2004
Philadelphia Free Library 7PM with Emma Donoghue

Date: 14 September 2004
Barnes & Noble Lincoln Center 7PM

Date: 15 September 2004
Elm Street Books Event at the New Canaan Library. Please call Elm St Books for information.730PM

Date: 16 September 2004
Olsson's 7PMArlington Courthouse location with Emma Donoghue

Date: 17 September 2004
Davis-Kidd Booksellers 6PM

Date: 18 September 2004
Square Books 5PM

Date: 20 September 2004
Borders (State Street) 12:30PM

Date: 20 September 2004
Harry Schwartz 7PM2559 N. Downer Ave

Date: 21 September 2004
Arts Club of Chicago luncheon 12PM

Date: 22 September 2004
Book Soup, West Hollywood store7PM

Date: 23 September 2004
Cody's 7PM

Date: 23 September 2004
Stacey's 12:30PM

Date: 24 September 2004
Kepler's 7:30PM

Date: 26 September 2004
M is for Mystery 2PM

Date: 26 September 2004
Book Passage 7PM

Date: 27 September 2004
Booksmith 7PM

Date: 28 September 2004
Powell's 7:30PM

Date: 29 September 2004
King County Library 7PM

Date: 30 September 2004
Elliot Bay (TBC)