Neil Gaiman's Journal

Journal Archive

Sunday, October 07, 2001
Lots of e-mails coming in from friends convinced I'd used a vulgarism (or even an obscenity) they hadn't heard of before. This is from the World Wide Words website...



From Marian Herman in the USA; related questions came from Anne Ackroyd in Australia, Richard Lathom in the USA, and others: "I am not familiar with the term cock-up that you used in a recent column, and am interested in both its meaning and its derivation. It is not a phrase that is commonly used in the United States - indeed, it has connotations that would keep many from using it in a column read by so many subscribers!"

Oddly, in British English it is not these days a vulgarism, or at least only a very mild one. It comes from one of several senses of cock, to bend at an angle, as in - for example - cocking a gun or turning up the brim of one's headgear (so producing an old-time naval officer's cocked hat).
The use of cock-up to mean a blunder or error was originally British military slang dating from the 1920s. The slang sense of cock clearly had a lot to do with its adoption, but this hasn't stopped it being used in respectable publications, and modern British dictionaries mark it merely as informal or colloquial.

The longer phrase I used it in, "a cock-up on the [something] front" was coined in a BBC television comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin some 20 years ago and has become a minor catchphrase. The original was "there's been a bit of a cock-up on the catering front", which was spoken by a former army officer, not over-blessed with savvy, who was totally confused by civilian life and had either forgotten to buy any food, or run out of money to do so.

[I'm indebted to Nigel Rees for confirming the provenance of this catchphrase.]

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996-. All rights reserved.
Page created 11 March 2000.

posted by Neil Gaiman 12:29 AM

Thursday, October 04, 2001

In transit right now, so a short post to say that, yes, we do know the FAQs are coming out black on black right now, and, no, we aren't just doing it because we thought it would look cool. This is not frustrating stylishness, as several of you seem to think; this is just a common-or-garden cock up.

But you can think it's style if you like...

posted by Neil Gaiman 10:13 PM

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

For anyone who can't find it, the details of the Harlan Ellison/ Peter David/ me thing at MIT are at:

posted by Neil Gaiman 4:40 PM

Tuesday, October 02, 2001

From AudioFile magazine -- a review of the audio version of the book. George Guidall gets deserved praise...

Mere days before he is to be released from prison, a man named Shadow learns that his wife has been killed in a car wreck. On the plane ride home, he meets a gruff old man named Wednesday, who may be an avatar of the Norse god Odin. Read dynamically and emotionally by George Guidall—who gives more personalities and ethnicities than one would think possible—the story unfolds with Shadow working as Wednesday's bodyguard in this darkly fantastic travelogue across an American landscape filled with ghosts and ancient gods. The old pantheons seem to be at war with the new gods of technology, media, and fast food. With its roadside vision of American culture and countryside, AMERICAN GODS is right there with TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY and LOLITA. Brilliant dialogue and profound insights into American consciousness show Gaiman to be a visionary and a master wordsmith. Perfect for a long road trip. S.E.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine
posted by Neil Gaiman 4:51 PM

If you click around a bit you should start discovering new content. It's starting to go up -- there are a host of foreign book covers, for example. Currently they're up in the American Gods section, which is not where I expect they'll end up, but they are there indeed. There's a news section with a bunch of reviews and suchlike there too.

Lots more changes and improvements to come (and yes, the misspelling of American on the archive page will soon be fixed) -- I just re-sent the American Gods bibliography I started in June to Harper Collins, and rereading it I realised I needed to finish it. So it'll go up and then when I get a spare second I'll do a bit more of it.

Thanks to all of you who have written in offering to work on/redesign/fix/improve/overhaul the website. Currently, it's a HarperCollins website, and is designed and run for them by AuthorsOnTheWeb, and those are the people who you'd need to talk to to volunteer your services.

American Gods is still selling very strongly in the US and the UK (and is on bestseller lists in New Zealand) and I'm strongly tempted to ask Harper if they can make "what I want for Xmas/Mithras's birthday etc is American Gods" e-cards for the site that those of you who wanted but can't afford the book can send out to your nearest and dearest.

I've done several FAQ answers so far, by the way.

And the next chance I get to write something for the journal, I shall talk about why Thea Gilmore is the best singer/songwriter to come out of the UK in years and why you all ought to buy Rules For Jokers, her new album. Or you could just go and buy it, or click over to http://www.theagilmore.com/ and learn all about Thea. Go on. You know you want to.
posted by Neil Gaiman 3:50 PM

Monday, October 01, 2001

There are days that are purely themselves. Today is one of them: Indian Summer at the start of October. The sun bright and warm and golden, the sky blue as a dream, the maples burning into autumn colours in shades of yellow and amber and flame, and several hundred thousand ladybirds on every south-facing surface of the house, crawling and creeping and flying, the bedroom window being pattered by the tiny beetles as they fly headfirst into it , adding a rather strange noise to wake up to this morning. It sounded like someone with a pea-shooter was aiming for my bedroom window.

Things arrived this morning: Sandman Sandglobes (about which there is little to be said, other than that they could have been much worse -- in the first sculpt they sent me the character looked astonishingly like the late Jon Pertwee, which was not really a look that Morpheus was ever known for) and Merv Pumpkinhead soft toys (really, really cool -- easily the best of the Sandman plush toys so far).

Yesterday I went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival to watch a seven year old daughter play the violin in public. People put money into her basket. She smiled at them very sweetly, and kept on playing. It’s good to know I have a back-up plan if this writing lark falls to pieces.

It looks as if some of the cosmetic work on the site is finally happening, and new material is going up. I sort of imagined that the new journal (this is the new journal, the one I answer questions in and so on) would have a different look from the old one, but it doesn’t seem to have happened yet.

Now is the time for people with suggestions for stuff to do on the website to get them in -- maybe we could set up a suggestion box on the message board or something, he said vaguely. I know I want an audio area, and some content in the ‘coming soon’ places.
posted by Neil Gaiman 3:04 PM

Friday, September 28, 2001

Welcome to Neil Gaiman's new (Post American Gods) Journal. Click on the "Archive" link above to view the American Gods Journal.

--Authors on the Web
posted by Sunil Kumar 3:42 PM

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