Back from Dublin, where we had an extremely nice ‘weekend’, ate *way* too much generally excellent food, saw friends, got books signed, signed some books, and spent too much money.
We sluffed into Dublin and checked into our hotel–a hotel which I would not have stayed at had I been alone–and bopped right out to catch the Luas out to Dundrum, where Coraline was playing. We met Pádraig and Deirdre there (literally: they were sitting on a bench directly outside the tram doors we exited, as though they knew it would be our egress), and they took us on a round-about walk which eventually led to an Indian restaurant (Ananda, I think) where we had a *stupendously* good dinner. *Stupendously* good. Like, I’d be happy, nay, eager to bring my foodie agent there–and so would my chef husband be. So. Really, *really* good. We ate so much we weren’t hungry until lunch the next day. :)
We met Kate at the film (and saw Shelly, though I don’t think she noticed us waving at her). Kate, being a very funny sort, had brought Cadbury chocolates called “buttons” and handed them out to us to go with the movie. :)
The film itself was pretty good. I don’t much care for stop-motion animation, but this was by far the least creepy version of it I’ve ever seen, presumably because they used so many shots. I’m also not that keen on 3D, but the new way of doing 3D that they’ve got is a whole lot easier for me to assimilate visually than the old stuff was, so it was kind of cool. I *did* think that really, if you’re going to see it in 3D, you need to see it in an IMAX theatre so that you’re really truly surrounded by the visuals, but it was kinda neat anyway. A lot of it was fairly subtle, which was nice. Overall it wasn’t as creepy a film as I expected it to be–Shelly and I agreed the puppet show they did in Cork a few years ago was creepier–but I rather liked it. I want to see it in 2D when it comes out here in May, but if people have a chance to see it in 3D they should just ’cause. :)
The Q&A with Neil Gaiman afterward was pretty fun. Most of the questions asked were things you’d already know the answers to if you read his blog, but he told funny stories about back in the very early 90s when he and Terry Pratchett had written GOOD OMENS and Hollywood was looking at making a film of it. He said they’d decided before they went to Hollywood that they needed a code word to let each other know if they thought things were going really really *really* wrong, and they settled on “Biggles” as something Americans would never say. (”Biggles” is a fictional WWI Royal Air fighting ace, which, y’know, I had no idea, being an American…) And apparently more or less the first thing the Hollywood people said was “We’re thinking Tom Cruise as Aziraphale”, and Neil looked over at Terry who was making little airplane wings at his sides and wobbling back and forth in a demonstration of Being Biggles. :) So there were good stories like that. :)
He also said, during the course of discussing upcoming potential films based on his work, that he’d “like to do Death,” which made Kate and me laugh out loud, because we are like TWELVE. He paused, then said, “…that’ll be on Twitter.” :)
I can’t–I’m usually quite good at this, but I can’t right now think of many of the stories he told (possibly because so many of them have been related on his blog). I’ll post more later if I think of them!
Skipping ahead to Tuesday evening, then, we … actually, we wandered by Chapters around 2:30 and got in the way for a few minutes while they were setting up. Yards of black crepe cloth and many many buttons glued on in pairs, for a nicely atmospheric backdrop (though as Kate or somebody pointed out later, putting Neil Gaiman against a black backdrop was like providing camouflage for him because he always wears black). We went away again and returned around 4:30, by which time some two or three hundred other people had also arrived. Had Kate not gotten there earlier than we did we’d have seen nothing at all, but she’d saved standing space for us, and so stand we did, for rather a long time. It was convivial, though, so that was okay.
Eventually Neil & Amanda came out, and we discovered that the reason they were late was “some idiot had forgotten to print out the material he was supposed to be reading today” and so it was all Neil’s fault. We forgave him. Particularly those of us who could see and hear, I suspect; by that time there were well over 300 people at the event, which topped out probably around 450. Anyway, he explained how they had a plan, and this was their plan:
Neil was going to read and Amanda was going to sing and then he was going to read and she was going to sing and then he was going to read and she was going to sing and then they’d do a Q&A where, he explained, the audience would be asking the questions and they would be answering them, rather than them offering answers which the audience might then divine the questions to, and afterward they would sign but because of the numbers of people and the general wish to get out of there before midnight they would only sign one thing each, so “if you’ve brought your entire Sandman collection, well, you’re…shit out of luck,” said himself, and then, but that was a plan, wasn’t it? And! he said, and Amanda would be showing off the pictures that went with the stories he was going to read, and she interjected that it would be very Vanna White, whereupon the audience all said, “Oooh,” and “aaaah,” appreciatively. (And then did it again when she showed the pictures, which she clearly thought was very funny. :))
And that was indeed what they did. Much of the point of this whole event was to help promote their upcoming book, WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER? which is also the title of her album (released in September) and which is what happens when liner notes get out of hand. Neil has written some eighteen or so short stories about how Amanda Palmer died–because Amanda has had, since she was about 18, the bizarre hobby of taking photographs of herself as a dead person–and he read some of them and Amanda played songs on her ukelele. (As one does.) It was all rather terrific–the first story Neil read was *awesome*, and another was based on the rubies-and-snakes-falling-from-lips fairy tale, and another was wonderfully Arsenic and Old Lace, and Ted signed up for the mailing list which will announce when the book’s released. :) And Amanda, who has a kind of smoky voice, did both songs she’d written and songs she hadn’t, and explained how the whole ukelele thing was kind of a joke that’d gotten out of hand. She’d bought one to play Radiohead’s “Creep” at a Scottish music festival, and she’d never intended to do anything else, but it went over so well she thought she’d learn a few new songs, so now she knows *five* whole songs on the ukelele. Almost six: she’s working on a Billy Idol song but it wasn’t ready to be played yet. *laughs*
The Q&A went back and forth between them, which was nice, instead of it being the All Neil Gaiman Show, which is kind of what I feared would happen. But there were a surprising number of people there wearing Amanda Palmer t-shirts, and quite a few with her CD to get signed, so that was cool. The only question I can remember was the first one, wherein Amanda was asked how it was to work with the producer for her album, and the short answer was ‘awesome’, so. :)
Then Deirdre herded four hundred people into line by force of will alone (”THIS WAY. YES, DOWN HERE BY THE HISTORY SECTION, AND YOU’LL BE GOING INTO GAY AND LESBIAN, I KNOW THAT’S WHERE YOU’VE SECRETLY ALWAYS WANTED TO BE”) and we stood around for many hours waiting to get things signed.
During this time, people asked *me* to sign things!
*laughs and laughs* Granted, it was people I knew–Shelly and Michael–but I was working my way around a bookshelf to take a picture of the hordes and lo! Shelly appeared! And I said, “Shelly!” and she said, “Will you sign this?” and held up THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, so I laughed out loud and took a picture and did, of course, sign it. And then signed a big pile of books for Michael’s housemate. :) And eventually sold a copy of URBAN SHAMAN to an utterly delightful American girl we also met in the queue. So didn’t *I* feel special, getting to sign books at the Neil Gaiman signing! *laughs*
Eventually we did get up to the signing table, where Pádraig and Kate introduced me to Neil, who had been bombarded by them sufficiently to very clearly know who I was. That was pretty cool. :) And I gave him a copy of “Take A Chance”, to which he said, “Have you scribbled on this?” and I hadn’t, so I did, and that…was rather surreal, actually, now that I think about it. I signed a comic book for Neil Gaiman. o.O
So it was generally a quite terrific evening and we all had a good time, I think. The whole gig needed better sound, but although I expected hundreds of people to turn up, I’m not entirely sure Chapters actually did. And given that it’s a bookstore and not a performance area, I’d really say it went very well. Very smoothly. We’re glad we went!
(x-posted from the essential kit)