On Seattle

Thursday night, Jessica and I packed our bags and wandered up to Seattle. It’d been a while since we’d taken a trip, and we had a great excuse to go: Neil Gaiman was going to be doing a reading for his new book, The Graveyard Book up there, but wasn’t going to be visiting Portland at all for this tour. So we made a trip of it, and stayed with my friend Anna for two nights, which was good.

Friday was spent being tourists in Seattle — we ate at Julia’s on Wallingford, swung by the Apple Store and the University Bookstore (the folks hosting the reading, so as to pick up the vouchers for the reading), and then went and checked out the Anachrotechnofetishism exhibit at 826 National chapter, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. Definitely a nifty little store with lots of stuff to play with and geek out over. Despite wanting my very own raygun, I went with a more practical option this time around and picked up a t-shirt. I am incredibly jealous that programs like this exist and wish they’d been around (and nearby!) when I was growing up.

After dropping off Anna (and playing with Gabe, who is Anna’s rockin’ jack russel/chihuahua puppy), we hung out with Jessica’s friend Ira for a little bit, and then wandered over to the reading.

I’ve got to say, Neil is a hell of a charming guy. He read chapter four of The Graveyard Book to the audience (around 850 people all told), shifting his voice appropriately for different characters in all the right ways and spots to make it a really engaging reading — it’s like the entire audience was 5 again, and he was reading to us before bed. Afterward, we had a brief intermission to get up and stretch, and then he showed us footage from the upcoming Coraline movie (comes out this February), though he did make us promise not to put any video of the footage up til at least after the tour is over next week, as a favor to him (did I mention that he’s a hell of a charming guy?). It’s looking fantastic, and the folks at Laika should be damned proud of the project.

After the preview footage, there was a Q&A session with Neil that ran for about 45 minutes to an hour, so the reading in total took about 2.5 hours. One of the questions actually was about the “new” format compared to the old autograph lines… the short answer is that the old system involved maybe thirty minutes to an hour reading AND Q&A, followed by 3-6 hours of standing in line to shuffle past Neil and get a signature. It is a bit more impersonal, perhaps, to not get that individual face to face time, but in the end it makes for a happier overall experience to do it in this new format. Neil’s also got a great excuse, since his finger is broken and this way he could do all the signing at his own pace. Definitely well worth the time and effort to head up to Seattle for. (As an aside, it’s sort of telling that when I looked around the audience of folks who would ostensibly be “my kind of people”, I didn’t recognize a single person, despite having lived in Seattle for three years, whereas I’ve been in Portland for 6 months and already often randomly run into people all over the place. Portland FTW!)

After the talk, we grabbed Anna and headed over to 13 Coins, which is a local chain of 5 star 24 hour restaurants… huge, tall leather bound booths, and one of the best filet mignon’s I’ve had — it just sort of dissolved upon hitting my tongue. SO good.

Got up this morning, whereupon Anna made us breakfast, we played with Gabe a bit more, and then we took off for parts south — it would have been nice to make it a longer trip, but Jessica is volunteering for Fright Town, and had to get back for that. Definitely a nice trip, and for those of you in Seattle that I didn’t get to see, hopefully I’ll make it back up sometime soon!