Results tagged “Neil Gaiman” from kwc blog

Talk: Neil Gaiman at SJSU

|

Neil Gaiman at SJSU by mhuang

photo by mhuang

Last night a crowd of us went to see Neil Gaiman at SJSU, which makes for twice in two months as we saw Gaiman speak at Keplers for Fragile Things in October. Gaiman had quite the endurance this time around: 20 minutes for the humorous/questionnaire/sci-fi "Orange" and over an hour reading the Jungle-Book-with-a-twist "Witch's Gravestone." Then there was also the Q&A, the signing, and the earlier noon event he did, and it's clear that he was quite generous with his time towards SJSU.

"Witch's Gravestone" is from the upcoming M is for Magic short story collection that is being targetted at kids -- apparently school librarians have been buying his previous short story collections and Gaiman and his publisher wanted to release a collection that didn't feature hardcore sex scenes that would get him sued. Gaiman alternately described "Witch's Gravestone" as The Graveyard Book Chapter 4, which is both a reference to The Jungle Book as well as to imply the non-existence of chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8... Gaiman got the idea for the story during one of his frequent trips to the graveyard with his then two-year-old son Michael (~1985). Putting aside the fact that the anecdote may explain a lot about Gaiman's stories, the idea came about that the story would feature a child raised by dead people instead of jungle animals.

The Q&A featured the typical questions that you hear at a Gaiman talk: when is X going to be made into a movie, when is Y going to be made into a movie, when is Z going to be made into a movie. I find myself impatient hearing these questions for the third time; I'm impressed that I am entertained by Gaiman's answers, and I'm impressed that Gaiman still answers these questions.

Videos of the event in the extended (quality much improved over last time)

Gaiman at SJSU

|

What:Major Author Series - Neil Gaiman
SJSU Center for Literary Arts hosts An Evening with Neil Gaiman. During the course of almost twenty years as a writer, Neil Gaiman has been one of the top writers in modern comics, and is now a best-selling novelist. Gaiman, icon of the comics and 3-time Hugo Award winner, will read from his work, with Q&A and book signing afterward. Sponsored by the Student Union, Inc. of SJSU.
When:Thursday, November 16, 2006 (all day)
Where:Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library
150 E. San Fernando Street
San Jose, California 95112   United States

FYI: I'm playing with an updated version of WIndows Live Writer -- the map and the event information were inserted using the Eventful and Live.com map plugins. There were some rough edges, but it was still quite easy.

Talk: Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

|

Fragile Thingsupdate: all videos from the talk are online now

The Villa crew went out to Keplers tonight to watch Neil Gaiman speak. It was very nice to actually see Gaiman at Keplers: last year Keplers went out of business just before he was going to speak. I would hate to think that Gaiman is somehow cursed. It was charming to see Gaiman reading Anansi Boys from a church pulpit instead, a but one-minute drive to my local bookstore has its benefits. It was also special because Gaiman helped promote the Save Keplers cause.

The Fragile Things talk was charming as Gaiman talks are. I like to argue that it is important to hear Gaiman speak if you are to read his works: much of what he writes, especially his children's books and short stories, make much more sense if you can imagine a Neil Gaiman voice in your head speaking with the appropriate rhythm and inflections. It is also fun to hear Gaiman speak because he can make a story about buying a pair of pants at Armani yesterday amusing. littlestar was entertained enough that she went and bought a copy of Fragile Things immediately afterwards, going against her inclination to wait for a smaller paperback edition. I, of course, am a whore for Gaiman product: excluding individual comic book issues, my current count is 24 plus an autographed backpack. My count is only impeded by my desire to acquire my Sandman within the same printing vintage.

In the past, I've generally taken lengthy notes at book talks at spent hours upon hours transcribing them into blog form. Now that I'm slowly coming to the realization that my camera takes video and therefore is also an audio recorder, I've decided to make life easier by just including video with short summaries.

NOTE: all of the videos are of crappy quality shot with my ELPH. I was more concerned with just getting audio -- think of the video as bonus ;).

Intro

See the extended for more videos

It seems a bit hackneyed to complain that a collection of original short stories is uneven at best. We don't expect every author to be firing on all cylinders with their contributions. However, with a unifying theme of "Thrilling Tales," with Michael Chabon editing and with short stories by Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, Harlan Ellison, Stephen King, and Dave Eggers, I had higher expectations. It is strange, then, that it was none of these authors that delivered my favorite stories of the collection. That title would go to Glen David Gold's "The Tears of Squonk, and What Happened Thereafter," Rick Moody's "The Albertine Notes," and Elmore Leonard's "How Carlos Webster Changed His Name to Carl and Became a Famous Oklahoma Lawman." I thought Gaiman's and Hornby's were entertaining, but not great, King's was only interesting to Dark Tower fan, Chabon's was only an introductory chapter of a serial, and Egger's, while good, is burgeoning with the "epiphanic dew" that Chabon rants against in the collection's introduction. The collection has a sequal, Astonishing Tales, which I may pick up, but with more selective reading.

Talk: Neil Gaiman *Anansi Boys*

|

Neil Gaiman-1"Dearly Beloved..."

Neil Gaiman addressed us from atop the pulpit in the First Congregation Church in Berkeley on National Geek Day, the day that both Mirromask and Serenity were released in theaters. He read from Anansi Boys, a book that has the tagline "God is dead. Meet the kids." As Gaiman noted, you write a "book with strange gods, and they send you to talk in churches."

Gaiman described Anansi Boys as American Gods' second cousiin, once removed. He had the idea for Anansi Boys before American Gods, so one way he thinks of Mr. Nancy and American Gods is that it had a special guest star... for a book that hadn't been written yet.

For Anansi Boys I've decided to do something I've never done before: buy the audiobook. My reason for this was is very simple: there's an mp3 version. I never saw much reason before in buying audiobooks. They're as expensive as the book and there's this giant stack of CDs that you either have to cart around or you have to spend an hour ripping to your computer. With an mp3 CD I can immediately place it on my iPod or PSP -- it's ready to consume.

The battle over DRM rarely gets very far as it is an ideological battle with strongly divided opinions, full of speculation but few actual examples proving either sides' case. It's great to see an author that's #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List take what the industry would consider a risk and move the debate over DRM forward. Gaiman had to fight with Harper Collins to have mp3 CDs made, so he encouraged me to encourage my friends to purchase the mp3 version. I wish more authors were iPod users like Gaiman so that they too would act as intelligently about technology.

Neil Gaiman-2 Neil Gaiman-6 Neil Gaiman-5 Neil Gaiman-4 Neil Gaiman-3 Gaiman Pratchett-1

WARNING: Notes in the extended. I did a really, really bad job with my notes. Much more here is paraphrased from memory than actual quotes. For whatever reason my note-taking skills were terrible tonight and much that was funny I cannot remember well enough to transcribe.

Talk: Terry Pratchett

|

talk at Books Inc in Mountain View

Pratchett opened his talk comparing the security at airports to "evil clowns at the circus." Shoes off, belt on, shoes off, belt off. "Trousers down -- they haven't done that yet -- you know they want to do it." There was a "guy with one leg. They took his shoe away." He found the focus on pocketknives puzzling in a country where we have so many guns.

On heart surgery

Pratchett had heart surgery last year. Afterwords his surgeon said that they had a little "fun and games." Pratchett asked if that was medical speak for "you nearly died." His surgeon responded, "heart surgery is medical speak for you nearly died." Apparently throughout the process Pratchett kept trying to get up saying, "he's got sandwiches." He never managed to get close to the man with sandwiches in his dream, so he chalks it up as a "near sandwich experience." Reflecting on this, he thinks that when you die "it's obviously some distance because they give you something to eat on the way." He doesn't know what type of sandwich it was, but if it was a cheese sandwich with a Branston Pickle he would go with but if it were a cucumber sandwich with the edges cut off he would turn away.

Q: What kind of sandwich would Death and the Death of Rats have?
A: Death would have a curry sandwich and the Death of Rats would have a double gloucester cheese sandwich (see Hard Cheese of Old England)

more notes in the extended

I stopped by Kepler's today to visually confirm that the doors are shut, with a note of closing and 'Declaration of Independents.' The store is not emptied out, just closed, but unless this is some clever negotiation tactic it appears that Dealers of Lightning and Phaidon's Louis Kahn book will have been my last purchases there. Having Keplers next to Cafe Borrone was a big incentive for taking the leisurely route home, stopping to read a book over dinner. After finishing my first David Sedaris book while eating dinner at Cafe Borrone, I went over to Keplers, picked up another Sedaris book, and finished the same night while eating even more Borrone food. Good cafe/bookstore pairings are hard to replace: one feeds the other.

Neil Gaiman's journal confirms that his Keplers talk is cancelled, as I imagine all others are as well, but he mentions two other places in the Bay Area he will be speaking (one with Michael Chabon):

Thursday, September 29 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO & BAY AREA
Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman in Conversation
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA
415-927-0960

Friday, September 30 7:00 PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO and BAY AREA
September 30, 7 PM PDT
Cody's
at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way at Dana
Berkeley, CA
510-845-7852
(See http://www.codysbooks.com/ for details of the event)

Link dearth

|

There was a dearth of links over the weekend, kinda sad. Here's what popped on my radar this morning:

Angelina Jolie is competing with meta for large Thai-themed tattoo on back

New Oakley 'Thump' glasses with builtin mp3 player: this is getting news because Lance Armstrong was sporting them for a photo. For cyclists and other athletes, the 'Thump' glasses could be an ideal solution (assuming that they come in less ugly models): no extra cords, no armband, lightweight. My tiny 128MB Sony mp3 player gets the nod over the iPod when I'm cycling, as I prefer it's lower weight and higher probability of crash survival, but the cord running down my back is still very annoying. Sony did have an mp3 player they released that was built into the headphones, but the headphones were not the ideal style for exercising.

Reuters U.S. Mulling How to Delay Nov. Vote in Case of Attack: IMHO, this isn't as bad as it seems, yet. We should figure out how the US should respond in the event of a terrorist attack during the elections, and this debate should occur in the public's eye and far in advance of the election. If an attack did occur, then it would be the case that those immediately affected by the attack should still be given a fair opportunity to vote, but if they are allowed to vote at a later date, after other elections have been tallied, then their results could be considered dubious. However, entrusting the sanctity of our vote to Tom Ridge seems even more dubious.

Neil Gaiman will be at Comic-Con after all (though only one session)

Book: Good Omens

|

I liked this book, though I haven't disliked anything I've read that Neil Gaiman has been involved with that I've read or watched, so perhaps I'm biased. Imagine a really British version of the Apocalypse, where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse are bikers and the snake from the Garden of Eden drives a Bently. It's downright ridiculous, and plenty funny for it. I was a bit let down by the ending, but such is the way of the Apocalypse.

DISCLAIMER: read no further if you haven't read the book, outline/quotes below.

True Lies

|

I was a bit confused by all the Prince Charles rumor denials, but Neil Gaiman is right there to clear things for us:

a) the goat was not, in fact, Spanish, but Portuguese, and is currently living safely in a wildlife preserve in East Molesey.

b) The Tango is a dance made famous in Argentina. "Erotic licking" plays no part in the Tango. Neither, of course, do balloons.

c) only a lunatic would apply shoe-polish to a weasel.

d) if the alleged incidents had in fact occurred in broad daylight during a car-boot sale in Harrow then there would be photographs, and quite possibly a plaster cast.

e) by now the "Use by" stamps on the yoghurt would have expired, indicating it as unfit for human consumption.

I would also like to add that any rumors suggesting my involvement are ludicrous, and midgets? Please. They were clearly dwarves.

I think this can help clear up this nascent trend of pre-denying for politicians. The first thing a candidate should do when running for office is to deny all of the rumors about some scandalous incident. If people don't know what you're referring to even better, but if it somehow the unnamed allegation you were deny gets out, and people start saying, for example, that you are a grope-monkey, you have to proceed to step 2, which is to combine your denial with an apology. Here's a pretty good example:

"I know that the people of California can see through this trash politics. Let me tell you something, let me tell you something. A lot of those that you see in the stories is not true, but at the same time, I have to tell you that I always say, that wherever there is smoke, there is fire. That is true. So I want to say to you, yes, that I have behaved badly sometimes. Yes, it is true that I was on rowdy movie sets and I have done things that were not right which I thought then was playful but now I recognize that I have offended people. And to those people that I have offended, I want to say to them I am deeply sorry about that and I apologize because this is not what I'm trying to do." (link)

This was a pretty good denial, though he left a loophole by saying "a lot of those...is not true." He would do even better to give an flat out denial. Then you would have a beautiful catch: Those that accuse you are liars guilty of trash politics. Only those who haven't accused you are telling the truth, and to them you apologize.

"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to."