Monday, February 16, 2004

Neil Gaiman vs. the Gelatinous Cube

Yesterday afternoon we went to see Neil Gaiman be interviewed at the Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul as part of MPR's "Talking Volumes" series. Gaiman was his usual self --witty, insightful, surprising, in short, the perfect person to see asked questions about his craft. Even the insipid, lame-ass questions the MPR person was asking her.

There were only two things detracting from the experience. One was the air of MPR smugness that overhung the entire event. Before things got started an MPR apparatchik came onstage and, looking over her glasses at us, thanked us for coming out to an event about books, when we could be home watching the television or going out to a movie! Because, of course, People Like Us Who Read Books don't pollute our brains with the sorts of things commoners amuse themselves with. I continue to marvel at the ability of Minnesota Liberals to make my skin crawl even when I'm otherwise inclined to agree with them.

The other was the gelatinous cube who sat next to me throughout the event. I refer to her by the name of the freakiest D&D monster of them all not because of her size, which was ample, but because of her monstrous ability to ooze into every possible micrometer of space that came to exist between us throughout the event. Look: I know theatre seating is narrow and uncomfortable and there's sure to be a bit of touching. I understand that. But for God's sake, learn to, you know, get something out of your purse without splaying your legs to their maximal if limited capacity. Learn to, say, cross your arms once in a while to get your forearms out of the way. Don't repeatedly shove your hamlike upper arms into the person sitting nest to you. What was most annoying is that her companion, whom one might describe as Jack Sprat-like, sat on the aisle seat next to her. Yo, Cube! Maybe you should try sitting on the aisle once in a while, and they way the only person you're touching is the guy with whom you're going to spend the event engaging in sensual -- and I sensual, I mean grosser and more unnecessary than hands-in-each-other's-back-pockets goth couple wannabes at the Mall of America -- hand-holding activities the whole god-damned time, anyway. Do what you want with your cream-cheese filled fingers, lady, just do it in the dark and away from other people, 'kay?

And I haven't even gotten to the audio portion of the gelatinous cube's performance.

She brayed. Last month I had occasion to describe a guest at the potluck from hell as a braying ass. I was wrong. This woman brayed throughout the talk. Every time Gaiman said anything mildly amusing, she couldn't just laugh -- she let out these piercing, shrill bleats of something that an alien might consider laughter. Sort of a "NYEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEE HEE HEE HEEEEEEEEE HHEEEEEEEEE!" sound. Perhaps she's related to Howard Dean. But remember that Gaiman is an incredibly funny person, and then imagine that sound going off right next to your right ear three or four times a minute for over an hour, and you'll understand that I really, really respect Neil Gaiman, becase at no point did I turn to the gelatinous cube and tell her to SHUT THE FUCK UP SO I COULD HEAR THE GODDAMNED PERSON I PAID TEN BUCKS AND JOINED MPR TO HEAR.

The worst parts came whenever Neil talked about the creative process itself, because she turned the volume up to eleven and added hand-clapping and nodding to the performance -- and that's what it was, a performance to show everyone else just how smart and witty she herself was for finding the smart and witty writer so smart and witty. No doubt the gelatinous cube fancies herself an pan-media artist, writing sonnets about flowers in glue and glitter on black velvet, stalking the aisles of Michael's looking for sales, writing fan fiction in which she's the fourth Charmed sister and they go through the Stargate and meet Richard Dean Anderson and the power of her love and creativity turns the casts of both shows into ocelots and they all have sex with her.

Let me put it this way: It was so bad, that after fifteen minutes or so, the small children sitting in front of us turned and stared at the gelatinous cube every time this happened, and the children's faces appeared to say, "Gee, Mommy explained to me how to behave at the theatre. I wonder why no one ever explained it to that lady? And how come the lady looks like a gelatinous cube?"

I'm just sayin', here, is all.