Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Good morning. I think I'm emerging from a lemon-and-honey flavoured gloom back into the daylight. I have things to write. Things to finish. Things to copyedit. And it's time to hang up my dressing gown (bathrobe if you're American) and go and see if I have pair of jeans anywhere and possibly a black tee shirt. (I wound up with a subscription at so I know I have socks.)

So while many people let me know that also had missed out on hearing anyone actually say "goodness" -- e.g. In re: "cor" May I suggest an English-to-American translation of "Jeez," (or, less precisely, "Wow,") since, as you say, I've never heard anyone actually say "Goodness." -- Susan Ramsey, Kalamazoo -- there were also a number of correspondents who pointed out that, Possibly you haven't hung around with enough Southerners. My mother used to say that (she grew up in middle Georgia during the Depression) and I sometimes say it as a form of slightly sarcastic understatement or Southern-esque subtext; that is, instead of cussing, or when there's really no other response to make. Certain inflections of "Goodness!" can mean "Are you sure you haven't just developed a large hole in your head?" I'm not the only person my age (37) who does this, either; but we are a dwindling tribe.

I'm not sure that any inflections of "Cor" could mean that. But I could be wrong. I know people who can use the word "dude" to mean anything.

Meanwhile, a dilemma:

Hi Neil My well-meaning husband has unintentionally placed me in a very painful dilemma. Last night, he came home and proudly handed me the new Mirrormask script book which he had picked up as soon as he saw it in the bookstore. It looks amazing and I'm DYING to read it but I don't want to ruin the movie itself. Any advice? Should I hide it at the top of a cupboard until I've seen the movie or rip through it and spoil everything like I'm dying to do...? Help please! Maria

I don't know. On the one hand, speaking as someone who wrote it, I had no idea what the story would look like once Dave put it up on the screen; and I ran into a number of people at Sundance who went back to see it again because they'd missed plot stuff because they were too busy watching what was happening on the screen.

On the other hand, if you want to know nothing about MirrorMask before you see it, you're better off hiding the book at the top of a cupboard.

Either way, your husband did the right thing -- given the limited space of bookshops and the weirdness of publishing and the problems inherent in going back to press with big illustrated books, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to find the Script Book in five months when the film comes out. So whether you want to read it before or after, buying it now is wise.


An extremely good review for the Stardust play from the Chicago Sun Times at I'd love to see it, but later in the run, when they've settled into it and the prospect of a rogue author in the audience is less likely to make anyone drop something.