michael lambe's scrapbook

little irish jackhammer

  • I liked what Neil Gaiman said in this recent interview about maintaining his enthusiasim for his work in defiance of what others may deem common sense:

    I think you need to be mad. You need a certain amount of slightly focused madness that’s also belief in yourself in the face of all opposition. Without it, I would never have actually become a writer. I started out, sent things into the world, and the world sent them back explaining how they were not quite right for us. You need the kind of crazed, manic belief in yourself that means you can just keep going. LINK

    Slightly focussed madness! Marvellous! Over Christmas I ordered and read in a very short space of time Neil Gaiman’s latest: The Graveyard Book.  This story inspired by Kipling’s The Jungle Books but with a novel twist (this boy is raised by spooks and ghouls in a graveyard) recently won the Newbery Award, basically the most prestigious award there is for children’s fiction. I’d say he deserves it. (You can read his immediate NSFW but exuberant reaction here.) It’s a nice book. A book about growing up, and about friendship, and about family but mostly about how people look after each other. I liked it a lot. I was pleased to hear Neil Jordan is planning to direct a film adaptation. Pretty soon we will be able to see a film adaptation of another work by Mr. Gaiman: Coraline. Having recently read that one (online for free!) I look forward to that too. Here is a most excellently creepy trailer featuring Mr. Neil Gaiman (himself) that is destined to be a classic in its own right:

    The Graveyard Book available from:amazon.com, amazon.co.jp, amazon.co.uk

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  • Boingboing has a link up today to a full scan of The Usborne Book of the Future: A Trip In Time to the Year 2000 and Beyond (1979). It’s a very exciting (to a schoolboy) and optimistic vision of a now alternate future of undersea cities, space travel, robots, incredible cybernetic advances in medicine… you know all the fantastical sci-fi stuff we dreamed about when we were kids. The thing is, I can clearly remember reading this as a small boy, poring over those beautiful illustrations and it totally coloured in my vision of what the future would be. I couldn’t wait to grow up and travel to Mars! No mention of Bush, the Iraq War or impending recession in there, eh? I’m still interested in visions of the near future, but these days I find myself reading stuff like this:

    Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. Lot’s of good stuff in here; tales of genetic manipulation, the interweb, virtual reality, apocalypse and of emerging technologies that change what it means to be human and so also change the moral and mental landscape. My favorites would be the delightfully amoral “The Dog Said Bow-Wow” by Michael Swanwick, the heart-breaking “Wedding Album” by David Marusek and “The Calorie Man” by Paolo Bacigalupi; a cautionary tale of what might be if we put too much trust in companies like Monsanto. But every story in here had something to teach me, and more importantly it was a damn good read. The anthology is peppered with excerpts from correspondence between writers Bruce Sterling and John Kessel. Here’s a representative snippet from Kessel to Sterling:

    …You are nearer the quick of it with words like ‘wonder,’ ‘transcendence,’ ‘visionary drive,’ ‘conceptual novelty’ – and especially ‘cosmic fear.’ This is the dirty little secret of science fiction: that its roots are planted not in the logical, positivistic assumptions of ‘science,’ but in some twisted apprehension (I use the word in the sense both of understanding and fear) that ‘the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.’ We fear and are attracted by that irrationality. It yawns like a pit beneath our attempts to understand technology’s effects on us; it tugs at us like a cliff whispering, ‘come on, jump.’
    LINK

    Speaking of strange… Last night, I watched the documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore on Altertube. Alan Moore is a brilliant writer, and it is fascinating to hear his insights into storytelling, religion, war, pornography, spirituality & materialism, the very nature of the Self…

    …Now this is the single most important thing that we can ever attain; the knowledge of our own Self. And yet there are a frightening amount of people who seem to have the urge not just to ignore the Self, but actually seem to have the urge to obliterate themselves. This is horrific, but you can almost understand the desire to simply wipe out that awareness because it’s too much of a responsibility to actually possess such a thing as a Soul, such a precious thing. What if you break it? What if you lose it? Mightn’t it be best to anaesthetize it, to deaden it, to destroy it, to not have to live with the pain of struggling towards it and trying to keep it pure? I think that the way people immerse themselves in alcohol, in drugs, in television, in any of the addictions that our culture throws up, can be seen as a deliberate attempt to destroy any connection between themselves and the responsibility of accepting and owning a higher Self and then having to maintain it.
    LINK

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  • If I were to make a big old list of STUFF I LIKE, I’m pretty sure FREE STUFF and STUFF WRITTEN BY NEIL GAIMAN would be up there in the top ten. Well, I’ve just been listening (and chuckling along) to a free audio download of Neil Gaiman reading (and having lots of fun with) his peculiar and evocative blending of the worlds of Lovecraft and Conan Doyle: A Study In Emerald. Bloody marvellous! His reading really does bring out the humour of this brilliant short story. I especially like the tongue-in-cheek advertisements that intersperse the piece:

    {LIVER COMPLAINTS?! BILIOUS ATTACKS?! NEURASTHENIC DISTURBANCES?! QUINSY?! ARTHRITIS?! These are just a handful of the complaints for which a professional EXSANGUINATION can be the remedy. In our offices we have sheaves of TESTIMONIALS which can be inspected by the public at any time. Do not put your health in the hands of amateurs!! We have been doing this for a very long time: V. TEPES PROFESSIONAL EXSANGUINATOR. (Remember! It is pronouncsed Tzsep-pesh!) Romania, Paris, London, Whitby. You’ve tried the rest – NOW TRY THE BEST!!}

    Neil Gaiman: such a dude.

    LINK TO FREE AUDIO
    LINK TO PRINT VERSION

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  • Some of you may remember me getting all excited about seeing Michael Franti last year… Imagine how happy I was to discover FrantiV. Here you can see in addition to music videos, an interview with Dennis Kucinich (which is recommended not least because Kucinich looks like Frodo Baggins next to Giant Franti), and this really cool 8 year old asking a very valid question:

    [kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/cDTem91xlak" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

    Anyhow it’s encouraging to see people like Michael Franti out in the world spreading the good word – and that word is PEACE.

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  • Wow

    One of those stories to put it all in perspective: Kellie Lim.

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