Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day thoughts

Time is tight before I leave for Round The World tomorrow night (first stop Scotland to work on the Wolves In The Walls children's opera with the Scottish National Theatre) -- I was just given, unasked-for, a very sweet official note from my daughters informing me that I had their permission to work on Father's Day -- but also letting me know that they want their Father's Day time this evening. We thought about going to the drive-in (there are some great drive-ins around here -- this is my favourite ) but there's nothing on that Maddy would want to see. ("Nope nope nope, that's the truth," said Maddy, looking over my shoulder.)

Right. They've just told me that I now have to say something about both of them in my journal for Father's Day. So I shall. Maddy's ability to sing the "lonely I am so lonely" song over and over and over in a quavery and unsettling chipmonk voice this morning would by now be starting to drive Holly slowly mad, were it not for Holly's placid and sensible nature, aided by her incredibly thick dreadlocks which help to mute the sound. ("Dad! What a horrible thing to say!" says one daughter. "Lonely, I am soooo looonely. Iiii have nobodyyyyyy. Foooooor my oooooooooooown," says the other daughter, sounding like she has swallowed several singing chipmonks. I shall not identify which daughter said which thing, leaving it as a task for the reader to puzzle it out.)

("When we said you had to write something lovely about us, that wasn't quite what we meant," they just pointed out together, reading this over my shoulder as I type.)

(And they've gone off together to make me a cup of tea, so while they aren't looking over my shoulder I shall take this opportunity to say that I consider myself the most fortunate of men to have such astonishing children. And that Holly's dreads really look cool, and Maddy is hilarious. God, I love being a father.)

Ah well -- we'll figure something out for us to do tonight that will be fun for everyone.

And in the meantime...

Hi Neil, I know this is a bit odd, but I'm a less-than-fabulously-wealthy college student who wants to give my dad something awesomely cool for Father's Day and wondered if you could post this in your blog. Your work is something we've bonded over forever and it would mean a lot to him. And a Happy Father's Day to you, as well!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!!! I love you with all my heart--Love, Katie

Of course!

Hi, Neil. I just have a quick question with nowhere else, at least visible, to turn. How does an unagented writer go about obtaining permission from a recording artist (or their management) to use excerpts of song lyrics in short works of fiction that they intend to (attempt) to publish?Much thanks in advance.

You don't go to the songwriter (unless the songwriter controls their own publishing). You go to the music publisher. You can normally find the music publishing information on a CD -- if you can't then you could search for the publisher through ASCAP -- -- or BMI -- Then you write to the publisher explaining what it is you want to do and asking how much it'll be.

In my experience it's usually about $150 per quote. (On the other hand, the people who control the song "Under The Boardwalk" said this week that seven words would cost $800 and it wasn't negotiable, and I thought for a moment, and changed

"Under the boardwalk..." he sang. "We'll be making love."


He sang. In his song he told them all exactly what he planned to do under the boardwalk, and it mostly involved making love.

which I liked better, and didn't cost anything.)

If musician-songwriters control their own publishing, it gets much easier (the cost of getting the Greg Brown song quote for American Gods was: I took Greg out for a nice sushi meal, which actually I regarded as a bonus).

As regards the framing, lots of people wrote in with similar suggestions. This was by far the most complete and informative...

Its regarding that sketch you mentioned planning to reframe. I used to work in a frame shop, so what you probably want is what's called a "glass float" the piece is lightly attached, usually with clear photo corners or a touch of transparent glue (the former is better since it doesn't damage the art) to a piece of glass, which is used in place of a normal backing in the frame. Then either adhesive plastic strips, called spacers, or sometimes a mat specially made to be seen from both sides, is put in to keep some space between the paper and the second sheet of glass, which is placed in the frame normally. The only tricky part then becomes how you want to hang it. Since framed stuff typically hangs on a wall, one side is always obscured. Some people hang them on windows, but the backside of most frames doesn't look so nice (some places can get special frames designed to be seen from either side, though). I've heard of people who actually suspend such things from the ceiling, but then you either have to hang it high so as not to hit your head, and thus make it hard to see properly, or make sure its hung somewhere that walking underneath it won't happen. Of course, if you wanted to get really elaborate, you could hang it sort of near a wall, with a mirror on the wall behind it to show the backside. But that's probably more than you're into doing in this case.

Most pro frame shops can do it, though the specific methods vary, and if you're out to keep the thing in as pristine condition as possible, acid-free materials and UV filtering glass are a must. Of course, professional framing costs a bit more than buying a frame at Wal-mart and doing it yourself, but with something that really matters to you, its generally a good idea anyway.

The other option would be to frame it more traditionally, but get a good quality copy made of the backside, and do a multi-opening mat. Practically speaking, that might be easier.

Odds are if you don't already know about this, any number of others have written to you as well about it, but I thought I'd write just in case. Anyway, thanks for keeping me entertained, both with the blog, and with the many stories. Being poorish, I'll likely have to wait for Anansi Boys to come out in paperback, but I am looking forward to it.


While Argosy publisher James Owen wrote in to point to as a ready-made solution.

Also I got a message from Sorcha in Ireland, pointing me to Nicola Gordon Bowe (who wrote a couple of books on Harry Clarke which I already own and love) as someone who might be able to identify what drawings the studies were for, which is a brilliant suggestion. And will, like most other things in my life, now have to wait for several months.

Hey, Neil. Let's say I have a horde of people angered by the idea of a limited release of Mirrormask. Is there anyone we can petition against this? (we'll storm buildings if we have to!) Thanks. ~Nikki

I don't think a petition would do much good. What will help is a) lots of people looking at the trailer (here's the direct link to the Quicktime MirrorMask trailer: b) people going to see MirrorMask in its limited markets when it comes out, taking their friends, all that. If the theatres are full, if the take-per-screen is high, if people are going to see it, then it may well go on wider release because people will see that there's money to be made.

(That was how it was for the Princess Mononoke release, anyway, and the impression I get is that this is similar. And while Princess Mononoke has done very well over the years on DVD, I don't think the people did come out for it in the cinemas in the US, in the numbers they had hoped for -- but it helped build things for bigger releases of Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle.)