Thursday, October 06, 2005

from the mailbag...

Hello.I attended your New York signing, and I noticed, while you signed my books, you were writing what seemed to be a Mont Blanc fountain pen. I thought you're a fan of Waterman and Lamy. Or am I completely mistaken? Because I noticed when you attempted to sign, the nib lightly scratched the paper a couple of times.

I was heartbroken when I realised that I'd lost the vintage Waterman 52 flexnib I'd taken to New York for the signing tour, but I ran to Art Brown Pens, explained what kind of pens I needed, and was sold some Namiki Falcons, which are flexinibs (and were the pens you saw). I bought three -- a fine, medium and broad nib. They were nice enough (although not flxi when compared to the Waterman 52 with a flex nib), but skipped and scratched, and they became scratchier and skippier the longer the tour went until I started to despair. If you're signing 3,000 things a day, the pens matter.

In San Diego pen goddess Kathy Li came to my rescue and gave me an eighty year old Waterman 52, which has signed its way through the rest of the tour without scratching or skipping and with beautiful flexi signatures. I've retired the Falcons.

Personally, I wish that Waterman would manufacture new 52s...

(Here's a little disertation on flexy nibs, for those who fancy some pen neepery.)

Neil,We've been reading quite a bit lately about the thousands upon thousands of books you've been signing and I have a suggestion for the agony you must be feeling in your poor hand. At the drugstore today I stumbled across a newish kind of pen I'd never seen before, the Penagain. I bought it on looks alone. I tried it out and it feels wonderful! It is available on Amazon, but here is the URL for the company that makes it:
It comes in a permanent marker as well as a ballpoint.As a former bookseller I've seen the "claw hand" that develops after too much writing too many times. My husband now works for a former colleague of mine at Borders. I love this pen so much that I am going to take it in and suggest they give one to each author who comes in to sign.If you've already seen this then of course disregard all of the above. Thanks for reading and of course for writing!Amie

At some point on this tour I got to try one of these, and I discovered that I don't seem to sign books using my wrist any longer -- it's mostly become a set of shoulder movements -- and with the penagain I forced to sign from the wrist, which I suspect would become more painful if I kept doing it than the current method, evolved over the last two decades, which somehow allows me to walk away with my hand and arm still more or less functioning at the end of a long night...


At the national book festival on the mall a few weeks ago, I was asked by a young lady from Bryn Mawr what Hair Mayonnaise was. And I asked for a quick show of hands, and only one other person there knew. So I gave the young lady in question a Mission, to find out the answer and send it in, and I would post it here and increase the sum total of human wisdom...

Still. No-one said it was going to be easy.

Neil Gaiman,

I have completed my mission and found out what hair mayonnaise is - though not without a rather scarring incident along the way. (You were right, by the way, Googling it was the way to go, though I sadly erred and ignored your suggestion at first.) Hair mayonnaise is, according to a number of websites that want me to stockpile it like its going out of style, a deep conditioning treatment with a base in traditional mayonnaise (i.e. the stuff I put on my turkey sandwiches) and a number of other, stranger ingredients (like Chinese wild yams, in one brand). Some sites even suggest that it is a root stimulator and will help me to grow longer, stronger hair much faster than nature ever intended, but I like my hair as it and so will not be buying it.

As a simple piece of advice, do not search for it on as I first did. You will come across two products, upon which only one has been commented. Apparently the commenter used the Amazon-sold hair mayonnaise on her pubic hair and wants the world to know how wonderful it is. There was far too much information there. I really did not need to know about her, her boyfriend, and their sexual habits. Thank you, Neil Gaiman, for managing to scar me via

Mar, the Mawrter with a Mission (though I suppose I do not have a mission anymore and this is sad)

Which reminds me, for all of us who were at the Mall on that fateful Saturday...

Neil, the weekend that you were at the book festival in DC there was a bacteria on the mall. It looks like noone has gotten sick yet so hopefully we are all safe. I just wanted to make sure you knew about it because I figured with you on tour you might just think you were worn out and wouldn't pay any symptoms attention. Heres a link to the article in the washington post: you're feeling ok :)Connie


Dear Neil,Went and explored Rock City yesterday and I have only one in thw world could you leave out that wicked, glow-in-the-dark freaky Faerie Tale/Mother Goose grotto??? I mean you have no choice, you MUST pass through it to get out of the park, yet no mention? Was it just a bit too freaky for your readers? We thought perhaps that may have been the case.I have also been to the House on the Rock, which does indeed rock. Thank you so much for your attention to these places, otherwise I may never have known what jewels they were in the rough of the usual tourist traps.Ever yours,Saraphina

It's in there, honest. You just forgot... And glad to have been of service.