Helen, Wil, Neil and friends


  • 11:27 UTC Across the UniverseThe Cowboy pulled us aside this morning. “Did you want that last bit of work done?” he asked, pointing to the front of the house. Yes, we wanted it done. The truth is, though, that our Building Fund had run…
  • 17:11 UTC this breaks my heartJames Doohan’s son Erich wrote an essay about the failure of SpaceX to take is father’s ashes into orbit last week. … But at the end of these funerals, something goes awry, the body doesn’t get buried, and you know you’re going to have to come back to do it over again. … I can’t imagine the pain of having to say goodbye to your father over and over again, and in public, no less.
  • 13:38 UTC this is the heavy heavy monster soundI’m still in head down mode until I finish Scalzi’s intro, which is due today, but I had that magical moment yesterday when I moved some things around, added a few paragraphs, then sat back in my chair and said to the empty room, “There it is! … Once I get to this point in a project, it’s like I’ve been flailing around in a twisty maze of passages, all alike, and I’ve finally been handed a torch and a map. … There are other, less-amusingly-named-but-equally-reliable steps in my writing process, and even the frustrating ones give me reassurance, because I know that I’m on track.
  • 08:10 UTC Winter’s Day
    (This is a photo from Clarion, where Scott came and gave a talk, accompanied by the entire extended McCloud clan.)

    I find it really hard to believe that it’s a full thirteen years and a couple of days since I found myself, entirely accidentally and rather unexpectedly, in a birthing centre, in which Scott and Ivy’s friend Krystal and I suddenly found ourselves looking after Sky McCloud (while Kurt Busiek was driving around looking for ginger ale, for reasons that are now swallowed by time). Krystal and I discovered we had a very limited repertoire of songs we both knew, so sang The Ballad of Sweeney Todd to the two year old to keep her entertained while Ivy did all the hard work further down the hall. And Scott either helped, or just came up with magnificent baby birthing theories. Or both.

    And then there was Winter. Whose birthday was last Friday. Happy Birthday, Winter.


  • 09:03 UTC Ten MonthsTen months old today. Sometimes I wonder where all the time has gone, but then I see them roll around, shriek with laughter, splash in the bathtub, stuff toast in their mouth, smack a formula tin with a wooden spoon,…
  • 06:27 UTC Leaving the cloud club
    I’m home.

    My dog is happy, and I have not one but two happy daughters.

    What I like best in the picture below is that Amanda Palmer is the kind of person who would run out for dinner with a bullet hole in the side of her head, and not worry about taking it off first.

    Kyle Cassidy
    has always got his camera ready. So he catches things like this…

    And then he catches something like the one below — me reading a story I’d just written to Amanda’s assistant Beth. A story that was inspired by a photo she took…

    I never got to see the expression on her face, ‘cos I was reading, which is why I love the picture so much.

    (Amanda (and Beth) are heading out on tour tomorrow, across the US and Europe: for details.)

    Also, am I the only who saw Dark Knight and slowly became convinced that Michael Caine was finally playing Willie Garvin?


  • 00:32 UTC Killing Amanda for fun and profit
    Three stories written today, and I’ll try and make it five before I sleep. Upstairs they’re about to murder Amanda at the piano. Later they’ll see if the feral cats outside the front door will eat her. Beth, Amanda’s assistant, tells the story of our journey this afternoon.

    In the meantime, here’s the Clarion Podcast interview with me: (If I sound a bit tired, it’s probably because it was Friday night, and I was exhausted.) Next week’s podcast will interview Geoff Ryman and Nalo Hopkinson, and also interview the Clarion students: that’s the one I want to hear.

    This is from yesterday: me in a mirror, caught by Kyle. I’m sweaty and have hair like a bird’s nest, and I still think it would make a great author photo.

    got to run…


  • 05:35 UTC Today, Tomorrow, and TequilaThe land this house was built on was bought in 1912 for a princely sum of £40. It’s staggering to think that the land alone today would probably go for about 10,000 times that amount. The land, this house, and…
  • 15:39 UTC calling all geeksI care about this particular project more than I do the average project (which is already a lot, mind you) because John is my friend, and letting him down is not an option.

    …There will be overlap with Science, I’m sure, but we can watch and share stories about comics, science fiction (books and movies), hobby games like D, geeky television shows like Heroes and LOST, and events like Comic-Con, GenCon, Dragon*Con and PAX.

    This, I think, is the coolest part of Propeller 2.0: users can create and join groups that are tailored to our various interests, so we can find stories, information, and other people who have those interests in common.

  • 06:57 UTC on the concept of fiction
    Let’s see…

    Mr. Gaiman,
    I recently read your journal and the response you made to someone attacking your previous and future work on Batman. I saw this person as an average flamer who, for some reason, needed you to know that he didn’t like your work. What surprised me was that you responded to his criticism in such an open forum. I figured it was a way to bring up the argument that all popular creators must bring up from time to time, “It’s doesn’t bother me that some people don’t like my work.” On the other hand, it could just as easily have been a way for you to point out this person’s ignorance to your fans so that we could send bad thought his way. So I’ve decided to ask: Why did you post such a venomous remark and your response on your journal?

    Feel free to edit this post in any way for your purposes.

    Normally I pick emails to put up based on a unique and complex algorithm built around 1) How many people are asking similar things, 2) how interesting I think it is, 3) whether I get around to putting it up or whether it’s swept away by the flood the following hour, day or week, 4) whim. In that case I’d got lots of people writing in to say that the news that I was writing Batman made them happy, which was nice but not really something I’d put up here, and a few people who seemed deeply hurt that I was writing Batman, which I found odd and a bit interesting. That was the best written of the lot. I probably should have edited it for language, but was worried that if I left F blanks it would look like I was messing with his words to make him look stupid, so didn’t.

    This next one I chose because of the four letters that came in objecting to yesterday’s photos, one, from someone who wanted to let me know she would now never buy anything by me ever again, seemed to be a bit mad, and one was crass, and one was funny but I thought this was the most interesting:

    Hi Neil, is that lady wearing a slip? It looks nasty. What does Maddy think about that picture? My mom says it’s in bad taste. LOL Patti

    I think Maddy’s been around film sets and photo sets enough to know that film and photo sets are fictional. That was Amanda’s costume for the photo shoot on the roof that preceded the photos you saw. (Below you can see three out of six of today’s costumes in pictures that, I hope, will be more reassuring and family friendly. Except possibly for the first, now I come to think of it.) Kyle is shooting a book of photographs called “Who Killed Amanda Palmer”. Amanda is in all the pictures — which are a lot like scenes from movies — and I’m writing very short stories to accompany them. I’m trying to do the majority of them while I’m here, as my plate is scarily full right now, and it seemed easier and faster just to come out while many of the photos were being taken and see what was going on and write.

    The photos yesterday, and the ones below, were all taken by Kyle between actual shots, because the man does not put down his camera.

    They are very long days — we were still shooting stuff way past midnight, and I’m typing this at 3:30 am, but it’s good work, and Kyle is producing some extraordinary images. (Except for the Oboe-and-Dirndl shots. Those are just wrong.) (And he’s blogging in the other corner of the room.)

    You can hear some of the WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER songs on YouTube: four videos have been put up so far at . Although my favourite, which is called OASIS, doesn’t yet have a video.

    Back in March The New Yorker ran a wonderful article on magic, magicians, and Jamy Ian Swiss (who, in addition to being all the cool things that they say he is in the article, read the manuscript of American Gods for me and told me when my coin magic was off). It’s now available to read online at

    That was it for blogging tonight. If I owe you a letter, sorry…

Photomatt, Ben, Boingboing and others returned no data, or LWP::UserAgent is not available.


  • 23:20 UTC Community TaggingMatt’s Community Tags. This is the VERY BETA plugin I’m using for the community tagging on my photos, which allows people to submit tags which then go into a moderation queue to be approved or modified by an admin. Not recommended for general use yet, just getting it out there since a lot of people […]
  • 18:58 UTC Unfulfilled space funeral for “Scotty”: words from his son.
    [ Editor’s note: Actor James Doohan was best known in life for his role as “Scotty” on Star Trek. Since his passing, it seems he has been most often spoken of in the context of a planned “space funeral” he requested in his will. That wish has not yet been fulfilled, despite repeated attempts. Doohan’s family provided a portion of his ashes to Celestis, Inc., a subdivision of the Houston-based company Space Services which offers “post-cremation memorial spaceflights.” This Saturday, August 2, 2008, those remains were part of the payload for a SpaceX rocket that didn’t make it into orbit because of technical problems. There have been previous attempts to send Doohan posthumously to the stars, one of which ended with the eventual recovery of the rocket’s payload, including those ashes. The rema
    ins of astronaut Gordon Cooper were also destined for this same service. I understand that both Cooper and Doohan’s surviving kin are receiving the memorial services as a gift, but the company has paying customers, too. Space is tough. Of all the unusual and technically-specific ways to memorialize a loved one (morph their ash into a man-made diamond; mix it with concrete to seed a coral reef), ascending to orbit is probably the most complicated, and the most vulnerable to technical unknowns. The human remains, you could say, are just another payload. The odds for getting any new kind of craft into space are hard. Historically, there is much failure before there is success. But families want honor and closure when a loved one passes on. One of James Doohan’s seven children is a Boing Boing reader, and part of our extended community of friends and kindred happy mutants. I asked him if he would share his thoughts with us, and he very generously obliged. Below, his words. — XJ ] FOR WANT OF A TRANSPORTER My father loved engineering. Anything he could do to visit NASA, an aircraft carrier, a submarine, he’d do it. There was no end to the enjoyment he received when people would come up to him and say, “I’m an engineer because of you.” So when a company in Texas offered to launch his remains into orbit, we could only accept. It’s been just over 3 years since my dad, James Doohan, passed on. In that time, there have been many memorials, the most recent of which to commemorate Linlithgow, Scotland, as the future birthplace of Scotty. But his launch into space was the most publicized, and it was to be the most significant. There have been many attempts to send my father on his way. On Saturday, the latest launch attempt by SpaceX, with a portion of my father’s remains aboard, failed to achieve orbit. While there are many complicated reasons why this is a disappointment, mine is simple: I’d like to finish saying goodbye. Every launch attempt is like reliving his funeral. There’s a lot of pomp and ceremony, and a retelling of his deeds in life. But at the end of these funerals, something goes awry, the body doesn’t get buried, and you know you’re going to have to come back to do it over again. I’m not laying blame on anyone for the delays. It’s difficult, living on the cusp of technology. Where most of us lament the premature obsolescence of our cell phones, there are those few of us who’ve pinned the memories of our family members on a rocket, hoping it will touch the sky. My dad believed in human ingenuity, and he believed in mankind’s destiny beyond the exosphere. That it would take several attempts in these early stages to successfully achieve orbit would not have phased him. I can accept this, because of who he was, and because he knew it was all a part of progress. For those reasons, I know that his spirit will persevere, and others will keep those launch attempts coming. The act of sending a loved one’s remains into space will someday be commonplace, even if we have to book a space flight ourselves to make it happen. That’s the kind of progress my father believed in. But I’m not sure I can hang on until then. Grieving can’t wait for the pace of progress, and I have to say goodbye now. So when news of the next launch rolls around, please don’t ask me about it; I won’t be paying attention. If my father has anything to do with it, though, I’m sure that ship will get where it’s going. — Ehrich Blackhound (Image: courtesy of Wende Doohan and the Doohan family. Thank you, Ehrich.) UPDATE: John Schwartz has an update piece at the New York Times’ LEDE blog which includes a comment from the folks at Celestis….

  • 18:25 UTC Random Redirect PluginI just updated the  Random Redirect plugin, with two extra parameters.
  • 16:58 UTC Alleged Extended Stay America “very clean” video
    This still frame is from a purported promotional video extolling the cleanliness of Extended Stay America hotel rooms. It’s quite provocative, but I doubt strongly that it was actually made by Extended Stay. Other clips in the same vein are available on, er,, not, the company’s regular home page. I wish it were a real marketing campaign, but I bet it’s not. (For example, clicking links on the site takes you to pages.) Alleged Extended Stay America “very clean” video (SLOG, thanks Jason Tester!)…

  • 16:19 UTC Circuit City Apologizes for Pulling Mad Magazine, Promises to Get a Sense of Humor [Pr] The image associated with this post is best viewed using a browser.It looks like the corporate goon who ordered all copies of Mad Magazine with a Circuit City parody inside destroyed was acting on…
  • 16:15 UTC Possible Pictures of Upcoming MacBook Leaked [MacBook] Could these be images of the upcoming MacBook? Possibly, if you believe information leaked from a Taiwanese website. The images are confusing and have a photoshopped feel to them so, as always, take…
  • 16:10 UTC Motorola Cannot Possibly Stop Sucking Until After Mid-2009 [Motorola] Motorola’s mobile devices division has a new CEO, Sanjay Jha, from Qualcomm. Huzzah! With some new direction, maybe they’ll stop doing that massive sucking thing they’ve been doing for the last…
  • 15:50 UTC Nissan’s Eco Gas Pedal Fights Back To Help You Save Gas [Suck On This Lead Foot] I’m all for exploring new technologies that help us save gas, but I think Nissan has gone a little too far with their “Eco Pedal.” This new technology calculates the most fuel efficient rate of…
  • 15:46 UTC Ridiculous $550,000 crystal Earth-pustule watch (want)
    I am such a watch overdrive sucker that I’m even jonesing for this monster, the Colosso, which features what Watchismo calls a “crystal pustule filled with a dimensional earth rotating for local or GMT time.” A mere $550,000 (€3,21). On Top of the World with the Hysek COLOSSO…
  • 15:30 UTC GreenUmbrella Gives You One Extended Warranty For Almost All Your Gadgets [Warranty] Green Umbrella has a very interesting service plan: a all-in-one extended warranty plan that covers all your gadgets for three years. You pay $9.99 a month, and it’ll cover most of your home…

Press Think




  • 13:24 UTC Big Daddy Newspaper Has Gone and Left JournalismTree House Media Project Debuts. Self-reliance for angry journalists, preached by a former member of the tribe. Plus: “Last gasp of the curmudgeon class.” NEWSROOM ID EXPLODES LIKE FIREWORKS OVER INTERN’S UPBEAT BLOG POST. Newspaper revanchism ‘splained.


  • 01:40 UTC Migration Point for the Press Tribe“Like reluctant migrants everywhere, the people in the news tribe have to decide what to take with them. When to leave. Where to land. They have to figure out what is essential to their way of life. They have to ask if what they know is portable.”


  • 00:42 UTC Update on Six Months InDavid Cohn is moving on to figure out if crowd funding can be made to work for news. Another young web-savvy journalist is moving in: Patrick Thornton. He’s going “scour the Web for the people who are pushing the practice of beat reporting.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.