Wednesday, April 27, 2011

the last two weeks--Part Two

So, where was I?

Oh yeah. Following the weekend where I went across the state of MI twice, watched the Red Wings lose, ran a 8k race, and listened to my published story, I crashed pretty hard on Sunday. I needed to, because there was a lot going on the following week.

See, Neil Gaiman's book Neverwhere was chosen as this year's One Book One Chicago. Those of you that know me know that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and sort of one of my hero's. If we were in the Middle Ages, I would beg to be his apprentice, do all his chores, and sleep outside his house, learning all that I could from this master-storyteller. Nowadays that's apparently "illegal" and author's apparently will call the fascist police who will "arrest" you for "stalking." Whatever, I guess I know some people who hate freedom.

Gaiman's wrote all the Sandman comics (which are amongst my favorite comics ever), the book American Gods (which inspired "The Sparrow"), the Newberry Awarding-winning The Graveyard Book, the book Stardust (which the movie is based on), and whole slew of excellent short stories, comic books, and poems. He is who I want to be when I grow up. Sans British accent.

Neverwhere initially started out as a TV show for the BBC which Gaiman created, but wasn't happy with (due to budget restrictions) and subsequently wrote as a book. Its one of the best urban fantasy's out there. There is London Above, which normal folks like you and me walk around going about our daily lives... and there is London Below. London Below is populated by the forgotten people, people who've slipped through the cracks. It is where the myths dwell, where succubi and rat folk go to war, where souls can be kept in blue eggs for safe-keeping. In London Below, Knight's Bridge, and all the other tube stations are named quite literally. I enjoyed the book immensely when I read it years ago and quite enjoyed Lifeline Theater's adaption of it last summer. So when I found out that Neil was coming to give several talks for One Book One Chicago, I was like, "Oh hell yes I'm going to these events, no matter what the restraining orders say."

The first event was to be a conversation with Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife and Neil, held in Harold Washington Library. I've met Audrey very briefly through a friend at work. Very interesting lady. Talented writer, fantastic artist, and an eclectic conversationalist. The problem was that this was scheduled the very same evening as my guitar class at Old Town School of Folk Music. This was a bit of dilemma. I loved the class and I wasn't going to miss it (especially after paying $160 for the 8 lessons). However... NEIL GAIMAN IN CHICAGO!!! I couldn't miss that either. However, I knew he was scheduled to go to another event the following night, so I figured I'd be responsible, skip this first event and go to class. That is until I walked by Harold Washington library, saw the really cool Neverwhere poster in the library and figured, "What the hell? I can make it work."

So I waited in line, reading some newly-checked out books, and got in. Not in the room that Neil and Audrey were in. That seats only a few hundred I'm afraid. I did get into the overflow room, where I had a front seat to a giant movie screen to watch the interview live. I enjoyed the hell out of it. Many interesting things were said. I did have to leave early, sprinting across Chicago, riding trains, leaping onto buses, packing guitars and flagging down cabs, but I also made it to guitar class--only 10 minutes late. And I also had time to buy a signed copy of American Gods along the way.

One event down, one more to go. The second Gaiman talk the next day promised to be more fun than the first. The Cathedral at U of C is beautiful, though the seats in the pews aren't comfortable. (Favorite comment from the event was a college student telling her friend, "Well he's British, so of course he's ADORABLE.) " Gaiman gave a half hour reading from the pulpit (hilarious) and then a short talk followed by Q&A from the audience. No, I did not ask him anything, but we did learn, amongst other things, that HBO is talks with him to produce a show based on American Gods.

Part of the reason I think HBO initiated these talks with Gaiman is because of next item on my list of interesting things I was very excited about. See, two weekends ago, HBO PREMIERED GAME OF THRONES!!!

I've been waiting years to watch this adaptation. Game of Thrones is the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George Martin. I've posted about it before--it might be the best fantasy currently being written. That HBO has decided to adapt it makes me happy beyond belief. The first episode was amazing--as both a viewer and a fan. The reactions were so positive that HBO already decided to renew for a second season! Some say its fantasy for people who don't like fantasy. Others say its Lord of the Rings meets Sopranos or The Wire. I think its simply a beautifully written story containing some of the most fully realized human characters I've ever read. The first two episodes have been simply amazing--from acting, to setting, to special effects--they're knocking it out of the frickin' park. The geek in me is very pleased.

Not only that, but GRRM (the acronym for George R.R. Martin) just announced today that he's finished with book #5 in the series! A DANCE WITH DRAGONS IS DONE! I've been waiting for that book for five years! It comes out on July 12th and I can promise you I will have taken that day off.

Finally, a bit of an update on my story "The Sparrow" up on Cast Macabre. The editor of the site asked me to either write or record an explanation of how I came up with the story and my writing process in general. Using the free software Audacity, and my Mac's built-in mike, I recorded a two-minute on it. Its going to be posted soon. And apparently, the editor enjoyed it enough that he's interested in having me read a few of their stories!

OK, that's all for now. There's a few other things I could mention (some interesting writing and reading lately), guitar performances, running schedules, Great Books Chicago, Decepticons attacking the building where I work, interesting encounters with homeless people and bike messengers--but I'll hold off. Have to save something for the next entry!

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