I went to hear Neil Gaiman reading tonight (ObPlug: Kepler's in Menlo Park, California); it was the first time I'd ever seen him. I probably wouldn't have bothered (especially with the rain), but my primary really wanted to go. We arrived 1.5 hours in advance to get decent seats.I'm calling this page "Reverse name-dropping" because name-dropping is generally done with a name more famous than one's own; I doubt that anyone would argue that Neil Gaiman is more obscure than Jon Singer, except perhaps in certain pottery circles. That's why I fell out of my chair.
He read Chapter 3 from his latest novel, _Stardust_, then started taking questions. First someone asked how he met Dave McKean. Next person asked how he met Tori Amos. Then someone asked how he met Terry Pratchett. He said (paraphrased, of course), "I really like how this is turning out. It's all so organic and flowing together. Next thing you know, someone's going to ask me how I met Jon Singer."
I couldn't help it: I totally cracked up, lost it for about thirty seconds.
After talking about Terry Pratchett, Neil called on Tom Galloway who asked the obvious followup, "For the benefit of the six people who got the reference, how did you meet Jon Singer?" Instead we got a story about Harlan Ellison; at the end, he said, "I'd love to tell you about Jon Singer, but I've run out of time and I need to sign some autographs."
Now, the followup (with lots of help from Stef's note-taking):
26 June 2001
Neil Gaiman is returning to Kepler's to do a signing for his new book, American Gods. And I, of course, am going to Kepler's to see Gaiman and perhaps try to twit him about Jon Singer.
Things start out much like they did last time, with Gaiman again reading from chapter 3.
But it gets a little strange when it's time for the questions, because Gaiman says, "Now you know, Kepler's has a reputation to uphold. I always get interesting questions here. Last time, someone even asked me how I met Jon Singer."
What can I do but the obvious: I raise my hand along with several other people. So Gaiman calls on me and I ask, "All right, so how did you meet Jon Singer?" And he says, "You've been waiting how long to ask that question"?
"Uh..." I madly calculate in my head like a student caught unprepared by a teacher, "...one-and-a-half years?"
"No! Two-and-a-half years. That's a long time."
Gaiman then proceeds to explain to the rest of the audience who Jon Singer is. I don't remember what Gaiman said, so I'll insert my own description of Jon:
Jon Singer is one of those weird people who tries to know everything and everybody. The canonical Jon Singer joke: Two science fiction fans are visiting Rome, and they get up on Sunday morning to visit St. Peter's Square. One of them looks up and says, "Who's that guy in white standing next to Jon Singer?"One of the things Gaiman noted was that Jon was trying to make roses glow in the dark by inserting jellyfish genes. Some of the audience members made disbelieving noises, so Gaiman asked those of us who knew Jon whether this was probably true -- and of course we all said "Yes!" I'm not going to repeat Gaiman's story about meeting Jon Singer, because that's his story, and Rule One that I learned from JMS is, "Never honk off the writer."
To get a rough feel for the kinds of things he's interested in, it's simplest to just refer you to Jon's web page.
Gaiman did mention, though, that Jon visits his house regularly to dig up more clay.