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Hanging Out With The Dream King

A Prelude
Yesterday, I expected to go to Lovin' Cup, as per my normal Tuesday routine. But then Charles said, "Instead of the Cup, what if we went to Syracuse to see Neil Gaiman?" I had no idea how to react to this. How did he even find out about this? Nobody on my Facebook had said anything, and I know I've got a bunch of Gaiman fans there. I didn't know because I stopped following his every move after he started doing very little else but talking about his wife (who I have somewhat mixed feelings about, grumble) all the time.

We still had to get tickets, though. The venue held a little over 2000, and there were only 200 left (but at the student rate of $10!!!). We started our journey as soon as I got out of work, and first headed to the comic book store, so I could pick up the comics that have been accumulating for almost 4 months (Ross was always my ride, so...). I had $45 worth of comics to buy. Ouch! Just in case you want to know, my regulars are: Saga, Fairest, Afterlife with Archie, and Ninja Turtles (though I removed Turtles from my list, because Ross's story-arch is over, and Mateus Santolouco's art creeps me out). I might add Sandman Overture. I probably will, actually. I got the first two issues on a whim while I was there. It was also nice to see Aaron again (the comic store clerk I always talked to when I went regularly). I will have to try to get in more often.



Intermission
Then we drove two hours to Syracuse. When we arrived, we told the parking attendant we were only here for a minute to pick up tickets from that building there. The Oncenter. To make this excruciatingly long and rain-drenched story short, there are at least five Oncenter buildings, and we went to them all trying to find the damn ticket booth (because they ALL have ticket booths for some reason). Syracuse may have damn fine architecture, but I fucking hate this city! There is literally only one thing in this city I love, and that's where we went after we got tickets: The Bear and Bull Pub, with fantastic burgers and fries that don't make me all phlegmy. And it's the only place that's ever actually open. I don't understand how this city stays alive while all the shops close so damn early!

The Main Attraction
We sat through four introductions for people who 90% of the audience didn't care about. Then again, it looked like some students were required to be there, not paying any attention to even Neil Himself, once he finally came on. The students to the left of me paid so little attention, that they pocketed the note-cards with Questions To Neil on them, thinking they were for them! We were handed blank note-cards to write a question, and they'd be collected toward the end of the lecture. I didn't hand mine in after seeing the idiots downwind keeping them. Fuck you!!

The lecture itself was mostly nice. Like I said earlier, I love Neil, but I haven't followed him for a while, and I felt detached from his readings. I felt bored while he read... because while I wasn't looking, he seemed to have transitioned exclusively to a children's author, and the Neil I fell in love with wrote Sandman, Good Omens, Neverwhere... I enjoyed when he actually spoke to the audience, though. About getting ideas from anything, inspiration from anywhere, and clever little jokes that would breeze over anyone who wasn't paying attention.

Epilogue
After the show, Charles and I attempted to go with the crowd, but after one flight down the stairs (we had balcony seats - pretty good ones, for how far away we were), we decided, okay. This is crazy. Let's stand off to the side here and gaze out at this awful city's gorgeous architecture through this giant window while we wait for the crowd to trickle out. Before I left the balcony, though, I asked an usher if there's by chance a meet-and-greet, even though I was sure there wouldn't be, considering there are over 2000 people here who'd all love to meet him. And she said no, there's just a reception for those with VIP passes.

When we finally arrived at the ground floor, we meandered around the merch booth, which was sold out of everything but The Ocean at the End of the Lane. And like the good explorer I am, any door I saw, I had to open. I found a big empty darkened room where I could catch my breath from the roaring crowd in the lobby.

And I found a door with stairs on the other side. And trailing down the stairs were people. And I thought, since we climbed so many flights to get to our seats, "do we have another flight to go down?" I started down the stairs and saw that this was no ordinary crowd. It was a line. Charles saw me head down and slowly followed. I passed the end of the line, and peered around the bend to see YOU GUESSED IT!! Neil Himself sitting at a table signing things!!

I turned around quickly, before anyone else could come through the doors when they figured out what was down here, my face in total awe, and I took a place at the end of the line!

After a few moments of waiting, a guy began heading up the escalators next to the stairs, exclaiming that this was an invite-only event, and you need an invite to be here. The people ahead of me looked dismayed. I felt dismayed, but kept my composure. The person ahead of me asked me, as a load of people without invites sadly walked back up the stairs, if they were actually going to enforce that. I don't know how the guy could enforce it while he was headed up to the door and not even checking invites, but they didn't want to chance it. Even Charles left. But I... oh no. I moved 5 people ahead and asked the kid now ahead of me if he had passes. He laughed nervously. I said no one is even checking, right? And he replied that his invitation is being a huge fan since he was a little kid. "Me too," I winked, and we formed our illegal, unspoken alliance of espionage (he even asked, as 'my illegal line buddy' to take a picture of him and Neil when his turn came around).

When the line left the stairs, Charles suddenly came back in with a small group of others, and I thought they'd let him in. Nope. Snuck in like the chance-taker I taught him to be!

After about a half-hour, our turn finally arrived, and it was far more glorious than the lecture itself. I shook his warm hand, and asked him to sign a few items I had in my arms. He said sure, but some might be signature only. The one I kept for myself was signature only: the cover art for my Neverwhere dvd. For friends, I had him sign/personalize my Angels and Visitations hardcover, for Ron (which Neil was very impressed to see, as he hadn't seen it in ages), [surprise title], for [friend who will read this], and the first issue of [I already said the title somewhere else in this post] for [someone else who'll read this]. And Charles had him sign my copy of Endless Nights (to him). I also gave him my note-card, explaining that I kept mine because someone at the end of my row was pocketing them. And attached to it, I had a Voltaire Signal Corps pin, because I knew he and Voltaire go way back. I got to tell him I make the pins he gives out, and said to tell him hello.

One last thing I asked of him, to have a picture with him and my toy mouse, which I always take on adventures. (If you're interested, if you have an Instagram account, look up the tag #RattyCompanion (though I will be posting more of the Ratty Companion photos here eventually - like I did [before]).

Oh... The note-card had the question: "How are you?"

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
vanatina
Apr. 30th, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)
My Fiancee is so jealous. He said the only way you could rub it in worse would be hanging out with Warren Ellis afterward.
diello
Apr. 30th, 2014 05:56 pm (UTC)
Warren Ellis and I had a short conversation on Twitter about 6 months ago! That's the closest I've gotten (besides my first convention, where he had a panel, but I didn't know who he was yet).

Edited at 2014-04-30 06:08 pm (UTC)
aphroditemf
May. 1st, 2014 01:01 pm (UTC)
Holy Sandman, what an adventure! So happy for you that you got to meet Neil! :D
diello
May. 1st, 2014 09:02 pm (UTC)
It was such a thrill!!! Glad I opened that door :D
vanatina
May. 1st, 2014 02:30 pm (UTC)
We can't tell Travis he'll be too jealous.
pax_athena
May. 2nd, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC)
So Sandman overture is good? I'm still thinking to wait for the collection, but hm, hm, hm ... It's tempting.

:D

Also I know what you mean about transformed into children's author. I still loved his "The Ocean at the End of the Lane", but I would really love to have something new aimed at adults.

Edited at 2014-05-02 06:42 pm (UTC)
diello
May. 5th, 2014 03:09 pm (UTC)
The first issue of Overture was okay, but the second was mostly boring - Daniel as Dream is in the second one, with Mad Hettie, and it's good, but then OUR Dream is dealing with a whole mess of other Dreams (from the past) in the second half of the issue, and it is just many pages of tedious circles. I actually had to skip pages because it got so boring. But I'll still get the third issue next month in case it shapes up.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )