Sunday, January 23

Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, some Tassie wildlife (and me!!)

I know I have heaps to catch you all up on but for now bear with me. This past Wednesday was the BEST HUMP DAY EVER! Through a wondrous twist of fate and the good graces of my friends at the Bookend Trust I spent last Wednesday night with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer on a private night tour of the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary! Whoo. I'm still recovering.

Forget vegemite - this is my ultimate sandwich.

I know there are a few philistines among you who won't know who I'm talking about. Actually, I think I was included in the group because I have consumed the majority of the creative works each have produced. Neil is the awe-inspiring author of (amongst many other things) American Gods, the Graveyard Book, Stardust, Coraline and of course Sandman. If you haven't read any of his work you should first punish yourself and then get hold of one of his books. The libraries here have huge waiting lists for most of his work, which is wonderful, but you won't regret buying them. And if you tell me you don't need to read them because you've seen the films then I'm sorry but we can't be friends anymore.

Me and Neil Gaiman. This photograph will always make me smile.

Amanda Palmer is another kettle of fish entirely - goddess of punk cabaret, street performer, and allround queen of awesome. She's a big fan of Australia and her new album, a tribute to this land down-under, came out this week and you should buy it (download for a donation of 69 cents or more) at least for the Vegemite song. Not to mention "Map of Tasmania" which has been stuck in my head all week and which has a film-clip that everyone should watch at least twice because you will never find a more wondorous collection of merkins in one place. That being said it may not be safe for work for fear of being misconstrued if viewed from a distance. Thus I shall link it rather than embed it. Watch the video already!. And while you're there, pick up a copy of her acoustic, ukulele driven Radiohead covers which, though bizarre in concept are somehow even more beautiful and powerful than the originals.

Me doing my best not to explode with excitement all over Amanda Palmer. And failing.

Oh yeah, also, the two of them were recently married!

Anyhow, that should be enough back story to catch up the un(pop)cultured few. We went to Bonorong. It was the evening, the Sanctuary was closed and the animals (being Australian and nocturnal) were just waking up and getting ready to be fed. It was a gorgeous night - still and dry but not hot. There were only about 12 of us all up, between their party and the Bookend group, including Amanda's super cool tour manager who I bonded with over a mutual love of Portland, Oregon. Our guide from Bonorong for the night was Greg Irons, the devil-whisperer himself.

Gorgeous evening!

There was much petting of the super friendly forester kangaroos.

And if you catch them just right under the chin they roll back in kangaroo ecstasy. The poor little fellas can't reach that spot with their paws - a bit like the t-rex in Toy Story who needs someone else to cover his eyes when he gets scared.

Neil and Amanda were brave enough to feed Eric 1 and Eric 2 the sexually ambiguous but very friendly echidnas. I say brave not because of their spikes but because their food is a mix of condensed milk, minced meat and I was too grossed out to hear the rest, which they eat by lapping it from your gloved hand with their 15cm tongues!

After having followed both Neil and Amanda on twitter and their blogs (they are prolific sharers) their physical selves were pretty close to my imaginary versions of them (except that I'm actually able to hold a conversation with the imaginary ones without turning into a shy mute or blubbering fool). They were both wonderfully down to earth and exuded a kind of calm enthusiasm - Neil's tinged with unending patience and the sense that he was stockpiling every sensation for later examination and Amanda's with a restless energy and wonder. (For Sandman fans - Amanda is a wonderful mix of Death and Delight with a fierce intelligence thrown in the mix).

At the end of the night I finally plucked up the courage to ask Neil to sign the two books I'd spent the day lugging around; the beloved's copy of Odd and my copy of the collected Sandman vol 1. Josie had the right idea suggesting Odd which was at least 10 times lighter than Sandman!

Neil signing Sandman. Me holding my breath.

Not only did he sign my book, he freaking drew Morpheus! I have no words, only happy grins.

PS. Today Josie made me wash the t-shirt I was wearing that night...