Saturday, October 29, 2005

mostly words

Went out and did a saturday go-to-the-post-office-get-addams-from-framers-then-buy-some-food run and was delighted to see that most of the kids wandering round the supermarket with their parents were in costume.

It wasn't all the costumes, though. It was the small, lost-looking child (probably male) wandering through the pet-food aisle in an all-enveloping furry black and white skunk costume who made me so happy, but I am easily pleased.

The arrival of America's Next Muppet was reported in the Times - I'd not heard that it was a go from Hensons, but was lucky enough to be there when they were shooting some of the pilot... (Incidentally, if I'd written the sentence "Frank Oz voiced Miss Piggy and Yoda in Star Wars" I would have deployed a comma, to stop people making the obvious jokes...)

I'm looking forward to writing letters in my Jane Austen TrueType font -- to learn about it and to get your own.

Neil,Just a sad note on a cold Saturday. There was a notice on a library listserv I subscribe to that Sandman: Endless Nights has been challenged in Washington state due to the "pornography" in chapter 2. The librarian will be defending the book and was looking for help. I pointed her to CBLDF, ALA and a host of online review sites such as No Flying, No Tights. But can you think of any other places I might have directed her?thanks, be well, keeping fighting the good fight, Geri

In addition to the above, she could also approach DC Comics directly, who would, I suspect, be only too happy to give her a bundle of print reviews and articles on Endless Nights, and a list of the awards and so on it won. Having said that, I trust it wasn't on the childrens' shelves (as that would be a silly place to shelve it); there is a reason why it says "Intended for Mature Readers" on it.

Let me know what happens.

hey neil, i've been trying to get the tickets for your edinburgh event at waterstones for quite a while. they actually wrote my name down on some sheet they have for booking but every time i call to confirm they keep saying they haven't received the tickets yet, they also offered to call me when they get them but backed off when they heard i'm in spain hehe, it's a pain because i don't know if i should book the plane tickets and hotel or not, would be great if you post it maybe someone knows what happened to those tickets. thanks, sylw

followed by

hey neil (god damn i hope u read it :p), i keep trying to get some info about "booked" tickets for waterstones event on 9th november, with no result. i am sorry to mess up your relaxation time but it seriously freaks me out, probably if i dont book tickets soon i wont come, and it will suck and make my bday one of the worst in the century (jk, well it will suck but not THAT bad, guess i'll survive) so i'm begging for some info about waterstones, more like 'what the hell is going on with the tickets if i cant get confirmation on the phone?! >:Pthanks,whalerrr

The message I got via Lucy Ramsey at Headline Books was Neil, I spoke to Andy Jameson at the shop and he said he can't understand this as they have had tickets for some time. They should try again. The actual event is at the Roxy Arthouse, 2 Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh. Lucy

So sylw/whalerrr, my suggestion would be to call the Edinburgh Waterstones, and if they give you any run-around, ask for Andy Jameson.

I don't have an email for that branch of Waterstones, but for any of you enquiring about Manchester tickets for the following day, you would email

Neil: Your clever reply to someone's inquiry, below...

"There is a world in which publishers let me choose typefaces, but I'm afraid it's also the world in which the Second World War was decisively won by the Belgian-Martian alliance. In this world, you'll effect a change in things like this by writing to the publisher directly. Honest."

... reminds me of 2 linguistic issues I've never been able to resolve satisfactorily. Maybe you can help:

First, if I had been writing that sentence, I'd have said, "'ll affect a change in things...," generally believing that "affect" is the act of causing change, while "effect" is the noun- the actual change. I think I glean this primarily from the term "cause and effect" which, granted, could be verb-based, but I've always thought of as a pairing of described nouns. Any thoughts?

Also- and this doesn't stem from the reply above but simply came to mind as something that's always bugged me: Is the word "forte" actually pronounced "fort"? My 10th grade teacher insisted that this was so, but it's one of those words that even if you think you're right, you pronounce it incorrectly so everyone doesn't try and correct you.

Thanks for being someone I feel might actually answer these lingering questions, even if you don't. By the way, I drove 2 hours to see MirrorMask last week and I'm certainly glad of it. I must say however that I saw the film (had no choice, did I?) in one of those "theatres" where you sit at a table and eat a meal during the film. What a gross idea! People chomping all around you, fumbling with condiments while trying to keep your eyes on the screen, receiving the check and feeling the need to pay before the movie has ended. Very irritating.

Also bought Anansi Boys (See, I'm earning my keep.). Good stuff. Thanks, Neil.



Effect and Affect as verbs mean two different things. Effect as a verb means to bring about a result, while affect in that context would mean to influence. ("I will effect a change of government means you will make one happen, while I will affect a change of government means that you'll influence one that's already happening. (Here's a useful reference --

Forte pronounced "fort" is righter than "fort-ay" but they're both right.

(I've given up on trying to persuade Americans that the act of filleting a fish -- or indeed a fillet of fish -- is pronounced "fillit" and not "fillay".)

And, posted for Balance on the yesterday's font-comments...

Of no possible concern to you or to anyone else, but since you have someone complaining about Didot . . .

I'm a proofreader by trade (for academic writing, mainly), and I have the opposite problem - my pet hate is books that are printed in any kind of sans serif font (Arial, Geneva, etc.). It looks cheap and tacky to me, and I tend not to read these books unless I'm being paid. With AB, though, I can't even really *see* the problem, even after it's been described.

Just so you know that the opposite sort of crank exists.

(And you signed some of my books in Austin after I had already left - thank you most humbly.)


Neil, Curiosity. In American Gods, your characters state that Paul Bunyan was the creation of an Advertising Agency. (One of the greatest evils in the world. I should know. Wasted two years of my life at one.) Where did you get this information? Or should this question be: Is this true? And if so, where would I find a reference to this? Yrs,Travis Clark

Richard Dorson (whose books I cannot praise highly enough) coined the term "fakelore" -- as opposed to "folklore" -- for things like Paul Bunyan, who, in his current form, whatever existed there before, was mostly made up by writers working for the Red River Lumber company...

And finally, MirrorMask and Canada:

Dear Neil,

I have just been to the first screening of "Mirrormask" in Toronto. From what I can tell, there are only two theatres in Canada currently playing it and they're not doing much to promote or advertise at all. I spoke with the manager and gave her an "if you promote it, they will come in packs and droves" kind of pep-talk and she seemed interested.
For those who have been hunting high and low for Canadian release dates, ticket links with showtimes and addresses are here:



Hope that helps,


PS- In case you couldn't guess, I LOVED it.

I'm very glad. People have also let me know that MirrorMask is playing in Phoenix and in parts of Wisconsin, unnanounced. Probably your best bet, if you're in the US, is just to use something like , which will see if MirrorMask (or any movie) is playing within 50 miles of any zip code or town you list.

PS: Nearly forgot to mention that those Hallowe'en Girls Malena and Lorraine are signing copies of their new CD, Mirror Mirror, at Dark Delicacies tomorrow, Sunday. (The first thirty should also be pre-signed by me.) Details at

(And that Peter Sanderson's four part essay on Anansi Boys -- in which he points out some connections that even surprised me -- concludes at