The Ugliest Troll (joram) Tue 6 Jun 00 19:13
hmmm..... it appears i need to put the crackpipe down.
illegivility is my saving grace (lagoon) Wed 7 Jun 00 10:58
Some answers, and a question: 1. No. 2. No. 3. I was =taught= the Johnny Appleseed legend in third grade, and as best as I can recall, was taught about it as if it were a real person rather than folklore. A few years ago, it occurred to me that I knew none of the actual facts of his life, but that what I knew was probably all wrong. 4. See #3. 5. An Indian chief in a Longfellow poem that I've never read. Actually, two questions: 1. Has living in the United States let you stumble on surprising bits of American folklore? Any examples come to mind? 2. Is it safe to assume Miracleman will never continue? If it had, what were your plans for it? I suppose those was were sneaky multipart questions, but so it goes.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 7 Jun 00 13:32
My grandfather could recite the entire Hiawatha poem. He grew up at a time when portable entertainment had to be in your brain, not in a device. I learned about Chapman by writing an environmetal studies paper about his viability as a symbol. In 1977 or so at Berkeley. Theorized that it was a metaphoric tale about caring for the future, good medicine for our time, but it's a tough sell unless a saturday morning cartoon or something kicked it in the pants.
John Ross (johnross) Wed 7 Jun 00 14:48
Frank Browning's book about Apples talks about Chapman. Apparently, he was a Swedenborgian missionary, who use his orchard plantings to gain access to frontier communities. And he was probably the last orchardist in history to do large-scale propagation by seed rather than grafting. Because apples are not self-pollinating, they don't breed true from seed (meaning the seedling are not the same kind of apple as the parent tree).
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 7 Jun 00 23:53
John -- I think he was more of a farmer who also handed out swedenborgian tracts than a swedenborgian missionary who planted orchards, but that one may be a judgement call. Laurel -- ah, but the most interesting thing about Hiawatha is that he WASN'T the guy in the poem. Or rather, the gentleman that Longfellow cribbed from got a real person (Hiawatha) and a culture hero confused and gave the diplomat's name to the legendary warrior. Thank you all... and any more responses are very welcome and interesting. Mike -- Tori was on Colour and Light? Are you sure you aren't thinking of the wonderful holly Cole? Lagoon -- there's not a lot of stumbling: you have to go and look a lot. Who knows, about Miracleman? After the Silver Age came the dark age. That one was scary. Off doing some movie pitches for a few days. What a strange world. Also write intros for SUPERNATURAL LAW (Batton Lash) a Projekt ORPHEUS album (I tried to write a thing about Kathy Acker in the style of Kathy Acker without mentioning Kathy Acker) and am working on the novel in the background.
Mike Donovan (mike-donovan) Thu 8 Jun 00 10:47
Neil, Of course I was thinking of the wonderful Holly Cole. Sorry about that. I'm more of a Sondheim fan actually, although I appreciate both Tori Amos and Holly Cole, which incidentally have very different styles, which makes it the more embarrassing to have confused the two. But I guess I can blame the jitters at actually writing something that Neil Gaiman would read, trying to say something more interesting than "Sandman is great. You're great.", and making a fool of myself instead. Let's try again. I'll ask a question, so I have little chance of saying something stupid, and I can even be relevant to the theme of this conference. (cough) Another axis you have explored in Sandman is the western-style to eastern-style story; dream hunters could be called an eastern-style story. Now, it's obvious you're extremely well-read, and through interviews and introductions and such I find we've learned a bit about your western influences. Could you name a few of your eastern literary influences? Mike
Martha Soukup (soukup) Thu 8 Jun 00 11:12
Neil, I don't suppose you saw the show "Shockheaded Peter" when it was working away across the country to San Francisco? I saw it last night, and--especially at a certain point when the musicians, the Tiger Lillies, made me think I understood what it was like to be a small child at a Punch & Judy show--I thought, Neil would certainly enjoy this.
Laurel Krahn (lakrahn) Thu 8 Jun 00 11:14
Neil-- interesting re Hiawatha. I did know there was more to it, but I'm not sure I ever knew what (or if I did, I forgot ages ago). Holly Cole and Tori Amos are both wonderful, but in different ways. Sure, they're quite different, but I can see mentioning one instead of the other in a flustered moment.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sat 10 Jun 00 23:50
Mike, not to worry. I'm always doing that. Eastern wise -- well, Arthur Waley is a huge influence. And books of fairy tales read as a kid. And all those penguin classics with green spines... Martha -- I saw the ads for it, and thought I'd like it, but never made it happen to go when I was in NY and it was on. Reading the T H WHite bio by Sylvia Townsend Warner. WOnderful book -- really fine portrait of a fine writer. And a fairly miserable man.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sun 11 Jun 00 10:42
Well, you would have liked it, I'm sure; and you'd like the album for it. Have you been having fun?
Mike Donovan (mike-donovan) Mon 12 Jun 00 20:19
Neil, Do you mean the works that Waley translated to English or something he wrote himself (I've never seen anything he wrote, but I guess he might have written some non-fiction books, histories and such...)? I went halfway through his translation of the Tale of Genji about ten years ago. Strangely, I chose that one over the new translation by Seidensticker (of which I know nothing about except that it exists). He did both Chinese and Japanese, didn't he? I vaguely remember poem collections from each. I saw the Disney version of the Sword in the Stone before reading the Once and Future King, and I was convinced most of the anachronisms had been added by Disney (à la Hercules). I was shocked to read such phrases as "blow me to Bermuda" right there in the T H White version. I read somewhere that T H White visited the Merlyn shop in Disneyland and was disappointed to find that he couldn't pull the sword from the stone because the apparatus was broken. Is there a place in the dreaming for all the dream versions of the Arthurian legends, like the books in Lucien's library? Maybe they'd be in some type of container, like the dream Baghdad in the bottle... Anyway, they are a really important example of artistic distortions applied to real events making them much more interesting than the factual history. Last I heard, King Arthur was a Roman...
The Ugliest Troll (joram) Wed 14 Jun 00 12:24
Hey Neil, when is the next time you will be in Texas?
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 14 Jun 00 23:42
Mike -- stuff that Waley translated. I used to have a huge and wonderful volume of his oriental poems which I must have lent to someone and not got back. But there are many books of his on my shelves. There's a cleanness to his translations I enjoy. My second favorite Oriental author is... argh. The SMEARING THE GHOST'S FACE WITH INK writer (my office is filled with kids watching Eddie Izzard videos and I'm much intimidated to go and look at the shelves). And my favorite pseudo-Chinese author is Ernest Bramah, author of the Kai Lung books. I pinteds out to someone the other day that there was no problem that couldn't be solved with an appropriately placed bag of gold or by pushing a hated enemy over a cliff at midnight, and then had to explain that it was a literary allusion. I just discovered that the second volume of Once and Future King, The Queen of Air and Darkness, started life as a book called The Witch in the Wood and was substantially different. I knew that there were various changes in the Sword in the Stone of course.... There is no historical arthur, in my opinion. Just a hundred imaginary arthurs. All of whom were quite real and contradictory and who really existed and did all the things that were reported of them -- including making war on Rome and winning. I once worked out a serviceable theory of how this could be completely true. it was called The Oxbow Lake Theory of Time. I'll stick it in a book one day. .... Joram: probably on the American Gods signing tour, whenever that is. Next summer maybe? My various editors seem resigned to American Gods being published about a year later than everyone planned, and they also seem resigned to it being a much fatter book than it was meant to be. The people who aren't resigned to it are all the people who were meant to get their script/story/whatever as soon as I finished the novel...
Martha Soukup (soukup) Thu 15 Jun 00 11:40
Neil, as this topic scrolls by, "69 Love Songs" is playing.
Elise Matthesen (lioness) Thu 15 Jun 00 13:22
(Neil, for some reason the image of you quailing at the prospect of entering the office-full of kids and video has given me the rueful giggles. Also, thanks for the mention of the Bramah books -- I bought KAI LUNG a while back, and then promptly put it down and couldn't find it to begin reading. Time for another search. If you see a big blue secondhand Oldsmobile go past tomorrow or Saturday with a familiar figure waving, it's probably me and Juan en route to and from a funeral back in my hometown. I'm in parentheses because I'm too tired to type at a normal volume. Your Chapman/Appleseed questions are interesting. My answers would be: no, but he sounds familiar; oh, *that's* why he sounded familiar; well, yeah, I believed it, but then I was taught to believe everything I heard; really? huh. well, ain't that a kick in the head. quelle disillusionment and alla that; I blush to say that other than recognizing his name and recalling dimly the poetry connection, my major association with Hiawatha is in terms of railroad stuff.)
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Fri 16 Jun 00 16:53
Martha -- hurrah! Elise -- well, there are places where I have no real sense of what is American white knowledge -- the stuff they sort of taught you in school or you overheard and so on. Genuinely surprised to find that people don't read Hiawatha for example (my mother bought me "the children's Hiawatha" when I was a small boy, along with "the Pied Piper of Hamelyn" so I knew he was a culture hero. I didn't know he was a real life diplomat whose name was given to a culture hero). Finished reading the T.H. White biography. A really dark life with some moments of light in it -- he was really hurt by his sexual side (mostly non-practising S&M paedophile) and his alcoholism. It was strange to realise how much he was Merlyn and the young Wart is, not a self-portrait, but The Love Object, much as the oddness of realising that the bitten-nailed magic kids in Delany were not self portraits but love objects...
-N. (streak) Sat 17 Jun 00 01:17
Mr. Gaiman, I note that a number of British comic book writers seem to have ideas regarding the reality of the imaginary which are similar to those you expressed re: King Arthur above. Moore's Promethea and Ellis's Planetary are two that spring to mind right away. Why do you suppose that is? Is it a British thing? Is it a British writer thing? Is it a British comic book writer thing? Is it a silly coincidence?
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sat 17 Jun 00 11:39
They're good love songs. You can keep all three hours of them on without getting tired of them.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sun 18 Jun 00 20:40
Streak -- well, we three certainly aren't the first authors to have ideas regarding the reality of the imaginary -- there are an awful lot of writers, from all over the world who have used similar themes in their work. Robert Heinlein wrote a whole novel -- one of his worst, if you ask me - about the realness or otherwise of imaginary places and people. Oddly enough, though, the Oxbow lake Theory doesn't really work that way. It's not about the reality of fiction, but about the elasticity of reality. Reading MONKEY currently -- and just wishing that Waley had translated the entire thing. Got sent the ALEX award for STARDUST as being one of the ten best adult books published that young adults like. It's a huge coin, on a stand. I put it on the mantlepiece.
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 19 Jun 00 14:53
Congratulations! What's the coin made out of?
Elise Matthesen (lioness) Mon 19 Jun 00 16:06
Cool! STARDUST is a lovely book.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 19 Jun 00 17:04
Linda -- er, metal. Bronze at a guess. It's nice, and heavy. Too big for coin tricks. So it's time for a pumpkin update: the Atlantic Giant pumpkin plants are suddenly starting to go huge. I'm burying occasional creepers, so make them put out more roots, but am basically watching these things and going "they will own the whole garden soon. My wife will return from taking son Mike to Adobe and the garden will be nothing but pumpkin leaves." Of course, from my perspective this is a good thing.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 19 Jun 00 18:37
Gaiman and the Pumpkin Patch!
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Tue 20 Jun 00 10:05
There. Well, I have a sore throat and am spending a quiet day listening to the rain (and a Thea Gilmore album, LIPSTICK CONSPIRACIES -- she's a really fine songwriter), and thought I would mention a couple of things. First, Joe Mayhew died on the tenth of June. He was one of those people I never saw much but really liked -- we'd chat at conventions, and I'd always look forward to going out to Washington DC for signings and interviews as I'd run into Joe. He twinkled, and was very wise when it came to books. We'd always talk about Gene Wolfe. Second -- and on a lighter note -- last week Maddy woke me up early in the morning. "Daddy," she said, "There's a bat on the kitchen window." "Grumphle," I said and went back to sleep. Soon, she woke me up again. "I did a drawing of the bat on the kitchen window," she said, and showed me her drawing. For a five year old she's a very good artist. It was a schematic of the kitchen windows, showing a bat on one of the windows. "Very nice dear," I said. Then I went back to sleep. When I went downstairs... We have, instead of dangling fly papers, transparent strips of gluey clear plastic, about six inches long and an inch high, stuck to the windows on the ground floor. When they accumulate enough flies, you peel them off hte window and throw them away. There was a bat stuck to one. He was facing out into the room. "I think he's dead," said my assistant Lorraine. I peeled the plastic off the window. The bat hissed at me. "Nope," I said. "He's fine. Just stuck." The question then became, how does one get a bat (skin and fur) off a fly-strip. Luckily, I bethought me of the Bram Stoker award. After the door had fallen off (see earler in this topic) I had bought some citrus solvent to take the old glue to reglue the door on. So I dripped citrus solvent onto the grumpy bat, edging him off the plastic with a twig, until a lemen-scented sticky bat crawled onto a newspaper. Which I put on the top of a high woodpile, and watched the bat crawl into the logs. With any luck he was as right as rain the following night... ... There. and back to the novel now. I've decided to steal a buddhist story I'd learned from Lafcadio Hearn for one of Shadow's dreams, which is really the first time in the novel it seemed appropriate to nick anything that hadn't really happened to someone or other. It's the one about climbing the tower of skulls..
Martha Soukup (soukup) Tue 20 Jun 00 11:44
But did he like to smell all citrusy fresh? I hope your throat feels better.
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