Not a Blog

Stuff and Nonsense

December 28, 2022 at 2:21 pm
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Another Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year looms just ahead.   Where the hell does all the time go?

I did take a few days off for the holidays, I confess.   Shame on me, I guess.   But now I am back in the salt mine, working… working on so many bloody things, my head may soon explode.   Yes, WINDS OF WINTER, yes, yes.   And HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, season two.   And several of the other successor shows that we’re developing with HBO.  (Some of those are moving faster than others, as is always the case with development.   None have been greenlit yet, though we are hoping… maybe soon.  A couple have been shelved, but I would not agree that they are dead.   You can take something off the shelf as easily as you can put it on the shelf.  All the changes at HBO Max have impacted us, certainly).   We are also still developing the Wild Cards tv series for Peacock, based (largely) on FORT FREAK.   And I have Wild Cards books to edit.  Oh, and did I forget WINDS OF WINTER?  No, of course I didn’t.   But if I ever did, I know you folks will remind me.

There’s also the railroad, the bookstore, and the theatre.   Thankfully, I have great people doing most of the work on those.

I was on the road, in New York City and Chicago, from late October through the middle of November, promoting the new illustrated book, RISE OF THE DRAGON.   I was doing a series of blog posts about the trip, you will recall.   The interview with David Anthony Durham, the visit to Kevin Smith’s theatre in Jersey,  my appearance on the Colbert Show.   You can find links to all of those down below.

I wasn’t FINISHED, though.  I also did a talk with Neil Gaiman at the Symphony Space in NYC.  I cannot link to that one, alas.  There were reporters present, however, and there have been a number of stories online about our discussion about adaptations… a subject we both have strong opinions on.  Neil and I  talked about a lot of things as well.   It was a fun event.   I had dinners with Vincent d’Onofrio and Joe Tracz and my friends at Tor/ Macmillan and Random House/ Bantam as well, and saw a few Broadway shows (DEATH OF A SALESMAN, THE MUSIC MAN, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and SIX, fyi).   Then I flew off to Chicago for a presentation at Northwestern… which DOES deserve its own post, so I will try to get to that soon.

Since I do not travel with a computer, I returned home to 2000 emails.   Took me a while to catch up, even though 1500 of them were spam.

I taped all the games the Jets and Giants played while I was on the road, and tried to avoid hearing the scores (not entirely successfully).   Turns out both teams did pretty well while I was travelling (and not watching).  Since I have been back, however… well, this past week the G-Men lost a heartbreaker to the Vikings, and the Jets failed to turn up for their game against the Jags.  (Please, Mike White, get well soon).   Life is meaningless and full of pain.   Clearly, the Football Gods hate me.   Maybe they are pissed off about WINDS being so late too…

I meant to say a few words about some TV shows and movies we’ve enjoyed.   I can see why THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN is getting so much acclaim, even though there aren’t any banshees in it.   Brilliant performances by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.   A powerful story, one I will long remember… but damn, so sad.   I see people calling it a comedy.    Really?   OK, but that’s dark humor.    Parris and I have also been enjoying EXTRAORDINARY ATTORNEY WOO.  Not a new show, I gather, but it was new to us.   (So much good TV right now).   I hope there’s more coming of that one.   We were very happy to hear that SANDMAN has been renewed for a second season.   Took them long enough, but better late than never.   And watching WHITE LOTUS 2 on HBO made me want to go visit Sicily… but I won’t, not until WINDS is done and delivered, I promised.

We also watched some holiday favorites.   Several versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, A CHRISTMAS STORY, and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.   And yes, I get it, life would really have been horrible for a lot of people if George Bailey had never been born… but hey, am I the only one who thinks that Potterville looks a lot livelier at night than Bedford Falls?

We haven’t seen the new AVATAR yet, but it’s high on our list.   So is BABYLON, though that one is getting mixed reviews.

Oh, and awards season is at hand, and congratulations are due to HOUSE OF THE DRAGON and Emma d’Arcy for their Golden Globes nominations, and to Milly Alcock, Matt Smith, and the show for the Critic’s Choice Award nods.   Well deserved.  Finger and toes crossed for all of them.   But hey, when the Emmy nominations come out, I will be hoping that Paddy Considine, Steve Toussaint. Olivia Cooke, and Emily Carey get some love as well.  They were all extraordinary.

I also want to thank all my fans and readers, who made RISE OF THE DRAGON such a success.   We have been hitting bestseller lists all over the world, I am pleased to say.  I hope all of you enjoyed the art as much as I did.   (And if you have not snagged a copy yet, autographed copies are still available from Beastly Books in Santa Fe.   The Strand in NYC may have some signed copies left as well, though I would not bet on that).

 

Current Mood: busy busy

Talking Tolkien — and My Stuff Too

November 20, 2022 at 8:32 pm
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My appearance with Stephen Colbert was another highlight of my trip back east.

You may have seen the episode as aired, but that one was cut for time.   The full version appeared only on line.

This was the second time I’ve appeared on the Colbert show.   It is always a lot of fun.   Stephen is a big a fanboy (did someone say nerd?) as I am, a fan of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and all the other stuff I love.  He knows Niven, he knows Zelazny, he knows Arthur C. Clarke…

… and don’t ever try to out-Tolkien him.  After the show wrapped, we hung out in the green room for a couple of hours, talking TV shows and movies and books and Roger Z (a dear friend and mentor to me, and one of Stephen’s favorites), and in the course of time the subject of Gil-Galad came up (as it will).   I immediately said…

Gil-Galad was an elven king
of him the harpers sadly sing
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the mountains and the sea

Which is, alas, the only part I have memorized

Stephen stepped in at once, and recited the rest of the poem.

Well, of course he did.   The man speaks Elvish.

I don’t even speak High Valyrian.  Much.

Valar dohaeris

Oooh… and I almost forgot the cold open.

That was fun too.

 

 

 

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

Home Again

November 16, 2022 at 6:04 pm
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I am back in the Land of Enchantment, as of the day before yesterday.   I’ve been away for three weeks or thereabouts, in New York City, New Jersey, and finally Chicago.   I don’t lug a laptop around with me when I travel; on the road, I am only reachable by phone or text.   Which helps keep me sane, but it did mean that I had 2,000 emails waiting for me when I got home.   I am still digging out.

The trip… three weeks, I said, but at times it felt more like three months.   My latest book, the illustrated Targaryen history RISE OF THE DRAGON, was released on October 25, so I had a lot of promotion to do.   My sisters and their children and grandchildren and spouses still live in New Jersey, so I needed to see them too.   The last time I got back east was in 2019, before the pandemic started.   I had meetings with my publishers and agents and editors, and some meals with old friends.

I am not one for writing long trip reports… and this one would need to be VERY long.   It was that kind of trip.  Joy and sadness, tragedy, love, a lot of work.   Highs and lows, and so much to do, it really took it out of me.   I will tell you about much of that, but not right now, and not all at once.   I think I will make a series of small blog posts, rather than doing one enormous one.   The things that happened… well, it would not feel right to mush them all together.

Let me start with the original reason for the trip: the release of RISE OF THE DRAGON.

Rather than a traditional book tour, which could have taken months I did not have, we launched RISE with a virtual event at the Random House offices in New York City.    I was thrilled to have David Anthony Durham interviewing me.   David is one of my Wild Cards writers, and much much more.   He’s written epic fantasy, historical fiction, westerns, YA books, and he has beenpart of the  team on every one of prequels we have been developing for HBO for the last year and a half.    Good guy, terrific writer.

If you missed our talk, no problem — it is online now.

I am pleased to report that RISE OF THE DRAGON is doing very very well, hitting numerous bestseller lists here and abroad.

(I will post more about my events in New York and New Jersey and Chicago in the days to come, once I’ve caught up on some of those damned emails).

Current Mood: tired tired

San Diego, Here I Come

July 14, 2022 at 9:29 am
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Yes, it’s true.   I will be heading to San Diego for Comicon at the end of the month, for the first time in… ah… a bunch of years.

That’s not news to most of you, I know.   There have already been a raft of stories out there about HBO’s plans for promoting HOUSE OF THE DRAGON at Comicon  (which plans are pretty mind-boggling, by the way), and my name has popped up in a good many of them.   So I’m not revealing any secrets here, but I can confirm.   I’ll be joining the HOUSE OF THE DRAGON panel  in Hall H, together with showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik and eleven of our cast members.   I will be as excited to meet them as you are.   I was not able to visit the Hot D sets, so this will be the first time I have met any of them… well, aside from Matt Smith, who I did meet for about two minutes in the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel at a previous Comicon, but he was the Doctor at the time, not Daemon Targaryen, and that’s not at all the same.

I will also be doing a couple of signings at San Diego.   One for my publisher, Bantam Spectra/ Random House.   I will be signing copies of FIRE & BLOOD and my other novels.   And one for Marvel Comics, with Paul Cornell, to promote the new Wild Cards graphic novels that Paul has scripted.   Raya Golden, ace minion, art director, and illustrator, will be travelling with me, and she’ll be on hand to sign copies of STARPORT, the graphic novel she adapted and illustrated from an old unproduced television pilot of mine (which may come back to life as a feature film, but that’s a tale for another day).   This being Comicon, where the crowds are immense,  all these signings will be capped and strictly limited, so if you want me to scrawl on one of your books, join the queue early.

(Sorry, I will NOT sign while walking the floor, eating lunch, or taking a piss in the men’s room.   Don’t ask, okay?)

In June 2021, I went to Chicago for a week to accept an honorary doctorate from Northwestern.   Aside from that, this will be the first time I have left home since the pandemic struck in March 2020.   I am looking forward to it… but, truth be told, I am also a tad anxious.   I have managed to avoid getting covid so far, knock wood… but if this Comicon is like the last one I went to, I am going to be in one big room with 150,000 other people, some of whom may not have been as careful as we have.  That could be a challenge.   Yes, I am fully vaccinated and double boosted, but that’s true of a number of friends of mine, who have still contracted omnicron despite that.   (Mild cases, mostly, but still).

I do not want covid, not even a mild case, so please be advised, I will be doing all I can to prevent that.   I will be masked almost all the time.   I will not be shaking hands, sorry.   Or even bumping fists.    You can take my picture when I am signing your book, but stay on your side of the table, please.   No selfies.   No hugs.   In past years, I was always glad to do all that, to make myself available to my readers, but these are not normal times.    Once covid goes away for good — if it ever does — perhaps I will be able to do all that again.   But not now.   I cannot get sick.   I have too much work to do.

I ask for your understanding.

And I hope all of us have a great time in San Diego, regardless of these challenges.

Current Mood: anxious anxious

You Can Go Home Again

November 22, 2019 at 10:02 am
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The last stop on my October travels was Asbury Park, New Jersey, where I was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

I was born and raised in Bayonne, as most of my readers probably know by now, but I left New Jersey in 1966 for Evanston, Illinois, to start my college education at Northwestern University.   I never really returned, except for visits… but I do visit often, since almost all of my family is still in Jersey, along with a few old friends, a lot of memories (mostly good, some less so), and a big piece of my heart.   Also, New Jersey still has the best pizza in the world (New York and Connecticut are very close, though).   You can take the boy out of Jersey, I guess, but you can’t take Jersey out of the boy.

Asbury Park is one of the iconic Jersey shore towns.  When I was growing up, a lot of my friends and schoolmates spent their summers down on the Jersey Shore.   If not at Asbury Park, then at Atlantic City, Seaside, Tom’s River, Keansburg, or one of the other shore towns.   Splashing on the beaches, eating salt water taffy, strolling the boardwalks, riding roller coasters and other rides in the old amusement parks.   Not me.   We were projects kids, we did not even own a car, so we spent our summers in Bayonne, mostly.   Water all around, but no beaches (though once or twice each summer we’d get to take an excursion boat from Brady’s Dock across the street from the projects to Rye Beach or Far Rockaway).   The only amusement park I got to visit was Uncle Milty’s, right down First Street, where I could blow my allowance playing Skee-Ball… and would eventually land my first job, running the Tubs O’ Fun for the kiddies one summer.   I think I got paid twelve dollars a week (in a pay envelope, with a ten and, yes, a two-dollar bill).

I had never been to Asbury Park before this visit, but I have to say, I was charmed by the place.   The sand, the surf, the boardwalk… iconic old bars like the Stone Poney and the Wonderbar… lovely grand houses and old hotels, a downtown that felt like stepping back in time… all in all, a cool town to visit.  And of course the awards ceremony was great fun.  As a Mets fan, it was a great honor for me to be inducted by Ed Kranepool of the Amazin’ Mets of 1969, and Todd Frazier of the current squad… and to share the night with Jason Alexander, Harry Carson, Bart Oates, Martha Stewart, Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and many more incredible Jerseyites.

Before the ceremony, I was also thrilled to be able to meet a couple of my favorite Giants from the Superbowl champions of 1986, Harry Carson and Bart Oates.   Bart actually let me try on his Superbowl ring!  And Harry showed me his Hall of Fame ring, which was big enough for four of my fingers.

Having my family present for the induction ceremony made it even more special.

I am told the permanent home of the New Jersey Hall of Fame will be in American Dream, the new mega-mall that just opened in the Meadowlands across the parking lot from Giants Stadium.   Yes, the former Xanadu, decades in the building.   Meanwhile, there are plaques of us at Newark Airport.   That’s cool.   I like the idea of being on an airport wall down from the Boss.

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Bring Me My Pipe

November 18, 2019 at 9:42 am
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I try to get to New York City once or twice a year.  It’s one of my favorite cities in the world, and my visits there are always half business, half pleasure.

On the business side, I check in with all my publishers (I have several), my agents (I have several), with my editors (past and present), with my friends and colleagues at HBO (past and present).   I often do a signing, an interview, or some other sort of public event.  On this most recent visit, Raya Golden and I did a signing down at Midtown Comics for her wonderful graphic novel of my unproduced pilot, STARPORT.   We scribbled in hundreds of books, and afterwards sat down for a short interview.

Autographed copies of STARPORT may still be available from Midtown Comics in Manhattan.  Or not.  We signed a lot of stock, but I am not sure how long they will last.   In any case, copies are certainly available from Santa Fe: https://jeancocteaucinema.com/product/starport-graphic-novel-pre-orders/

On the pleasure side… well, we often try to get to a Broadway show or two, but I was too busy this year.  I did find time to get together with my friends Ellen Datlow and Mr & Mrs X for a pizza crawl through the wilds of Jersey in search of bar pies.   This year we managed to hit the Landmark Tavern in Livingstone and the Star Tavern in Orange, both of which were amazing.

((And if you don’t know what a bar pie is, you don’t know pizza)).

I also combined business and pleasure with a dinner at the historic Keens Steakhouse with Kay McCauley, queen of agents, and my friends from Tor, publisher Tom Doherty and our Wild Cards editor, Diana Pho.   http://www.keens.com/

Keens has been a Manhattan mainstay since 1885, famous for their fabulous steaks and mutton chops… and for the hundreds of clay pipes that adorn their ceilings and walls.   In ye older times, no meal was considered complete without a bowl at its conclusion, and the regulars at Keens traditionally left their long, fragile “churchwarden” pipes at the restaurant, to be called for at need.

Keens still displays the pipes belonging to Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers,, Albert Einstein, George M. Cohan, J.P. Morgan, Stanford White, John Barrymore, David Belasco, Adlai Stevenson, Douglas MacArthur, “Buffalo Bill” Cody… and now me.

At the conclusion of the meal, Keens presented me with my own pipe and had me sign it.

My pipe will now join the other celebrity pipes in Keens display cases.   And presumably I can call for it at need, the next time I visit New York City and have a hankering for a mutton chop and a bowl.   Not that it’s likely to happen, since I don’t smoke.   Never have.

And for that matter, Keens Steakhouse does not allow smoking these days, no more than any other Manhattan restaurant.

But it’s still a cool, and unique,  honor.  My thanks to Tom Doherty and Kay McCauley, who arranged it.

Current Mood: calm calm

On to Washington

November 8, 2019 at 2:39 pm
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After Chicago, I moved on to Washington, D.C. with my faithful minion Sid.   There, on the evening of October 17, the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation presented me with the 2019 Sir Arthur Clarke Imagination Award.  Scott Shannon of Random House, my publisher, came down from New York to introduce me and help present the award, to my delight.

(It should be noted that there is another Arthur C. Clarke Award.   That one is a juried award given in the UK for the best novel of the year.   This award is not that award, though both of them are sponsored by the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation).

I never had the honor of meeting Sir Arthur C. Clarke, but of course I read his work… pretty much all of his work, to the best of my recollection.   Clarke was one of the giants of science fiction, and his stories and books had a profound influence on generations of writers who came after him.  CHILDHOOOD’S END, A RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA, “The Nine Billion Names of God,” “The Star,” 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, AGAINST THE FALL OF NIGHT… the list goes on and on, a body of work that has few equals.  He was also an articulate and progressive voice on the issues of the day, and an unfailing champion of science… something sorely needed in these troubled times.   I am pleased and proud to be the winner of an award bearing his name.

Imagination is also sorely needed in these times, a subject I spoke about after receiving the award, while being interviewed by Alyssa Rosenberg, the arts and culture columnist for the Washington Post.   This was the first time I’d met Alyssa, but I’ve been reading her for years; her columns about GAME OF THRONES were always accurate and insightful, and she conducted a terrific interview… albeit one that got somewhat dark towards the end, as I contemplated the future of our planet.   Not a lot of laughs there, truth be told, but I hope we gave the audience some things to think about.   Clarke was all about thinking.

I did not attend any baseball games in Washington, but it was a kick being in town when the Nationals won the pennant and punched their ticket to the World Series.  The whole town was giddy.   And we also enjoyed our visit to the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum.  It’s being renovated at the moment, so some exhibits were closed… but the remainder was just as wondrous as I recalled it from my last visit, years ago.   The curators seemed somewhat surprised that I knew so much about the Bell X-1 and Friendship 7 and the various rockets on display.   Hey, long before I set foot in Westeros, I was writing SF about starships, aliens, and distant suns.   Pinto Vortando loves his rocket ships!

Thank you, Washington, for the warm reception, and thank you, Clarke Foundation.

 

 

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Irish Book Awards

October 7, 2019 at 11:30 am
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The days are rushing by faster and faster, it seems.  We’re already into October and I haven’t yet mentioned all the highlights of our travels to London, Dublin, and Belfast in August.

One of those highlights, beyond a doubt, was when I was presented with the An Post Irish Book Award in Dublin.

The presentation was made at Dublin’s historic General Post Office, the center of the 1916 Easter Rising… the Irish Alamo.  The significance of the site was not lost on me, and inspired my remarks, which centered around history and the need to learn from it.

Accounts of the presentation can be found online at:

https://www.rte.ie/entertainment/2019/0820/1069905-george-rr-martin-to-receive-irish-book-awards

https://www.thebookseller.com/news/george-r-r-martin-wins-international-recognition-award-irish-book-awards-1070641

https://www.irishpost.com/news/game-thrones-author-george-r-r-martin-honoured-irish-book-awards-170445

In addition to the trophy shown in the photographs above, I was also presented with a marvelous bronze statue of the Irish warrior  hero Cuchulainn.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

A Rare Honor

September 5, 2019 at 9:55 am
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I received a number of awards and honors during last month’s trip to London, Dublin, and Belfast.   I want to say a few words about all of them… but not all at once and not all today.  I will address them all individually, and in no particular order.

Starting with the last, then… on the day before we left Ireland to return home to the Land of Enchantment, I was awarded the Burke Medal for “Outstanding Contribution to Discourse Through the Arts” by the College Historical Society at Trinity College, Dublin, the oldest surviving undergraduate society in the world.

The society’s auditor told me, “The College Historical Society, more commonly known as the Hist, is dedicated to the promotion of discussion and thought. Founded by Edmund Burke in 1770, the Society retains a deep interest and affinity to the field of social activism and continues its tradition of elevating civic discourse in the College. For 250 years the Society has recognised the efforts of great women and men who promote discussion and discourse. Pattie Smith, Sinéad O’Connor, W.B. Yeats, Natalie Dormer, Dame Hillary Mantel, Bob Geldof, and Ralph Fiennes have received the Burke Medal.”

That’s pretty heady company.   I am very pleased and proud to be numbered among them.   And for a noble reason — promoting discussion and discourse.   In times like ours, when the toxic mobs on the internet seem to set the tone for debate, that is needed more than ever.

The medal itself was struck from the same molds that the Hist has been using for centuries.   The president mentioned to me that he’d noted I had once won the Bram Stoker Award (as indeed I have), and that the medal they were giving me had once been awarded to Bram Stoker himself.   I think that is so cool.   Here’s a look:

In awarding the medal, the Hist said, “As a celebrated author, your exploration of difficult themes has inspired countless people worldwide to examine, more-closely, the fabric of our society. Through you, the reader has encountered new concepts, ideas, and emotions. From the magical children’s tale The Ice Dragon and the dark yet playful “A Night at the Tarn House” to the unprecedently popular A Song of Ice and Fire your work has made you a global phenomenon. And with your rise to greater prominence has come an increase in public dialogue around the major themes of your work. Your sublime writings have engendered intense debate on duty and honour, faith and cowardice, parricide and governance in readers world-wide. Our former member Oscar Wilde wrote that “It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection”. Through your art the general public have explored new themes, new ideas, and bettered themselves. This is precisely the contribution to public discourse that the Burke Medal aims to recognise.”

Since the Hist is devoted to discourse and discussion, those so honored are expected to say a few words.   I was glad to do so.  The good folks at Trinity recorded my speech and the Q&A that followed.   YouTube has it up for those who are interested and could not be in Dublin to attend… but be warned, I got into some pretty heavy current issues in this one, not just my own life and writing and the world and SF and fantasy (though of course I touched on those as well).

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Back Home Again

September 1, 2019 at 5:40 pm
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August went by in  a blur, and most of it was spent on the road.   London, Dublin, Belfast.   Great cities, great times, but it is good to be home in Santa Fe.  By the end of any long trip, my green chile addiction kicks in and I need a fix.

I do not travel with a computer, so I returned to the usual one thousand unanswered emails.   Thankfully, a lot of them were spam or junk mail, so I was able to get through them quickly.

Dublin is a lovely city, and worldcon was fun as always.  James Bacon and his team did a smashing job, although the convention facilities were not equal to the size of the crowds, which caused some problems and a lot of lines.   I did a couple of signings there, but not a lot of programming.   But the two panels I did do, both with Parris, were very special, and I think the audience felt that as well.   I do miss some of the pleasures that I used to take for granted at worldcons, like being able to walk the dealer’s room and browse new books, or sit in the bar for hours with friends coming and going and everyone buying rounds… but sadly, none of that seems possible for me any longer.   Too many people wanting signatures or selfies.   All very nice, most very polite, but I hate refusing anyone, and after a while it just wears me out.

I was able to enjoy more of that at Eurocon/ Titancon the following weekend, in Belfast.   A much smaller con in a smaller city, maybe that’s the answer.   Peadar and Pat made a great toastmaster team.  I had not been to Belfast since we were shooting the GAME OF THRONES pilot, and it was fascinating the extent to which the show has permeated the city.   Castle Ward has its own Night’s Watch, the GOT Exhibit down by the Titanic Museum is just stunning… and everywhere I went, strangers came up to thank me for their jobs and tell me how the show has changed the city and their lives.   That was very gratifying.

I just hope Brexit does not screw it all up… but I fear it might.   Belfast deserves better.

Loved our time in London too.

Oh, and everywhere I went they gave me awards.   That was also very nice.

I will have more to say about that, and many other things, in subsequent posts.   Right now, I am still trying to bounce back from jetlag.   Later, friends.

Current Mood: tired tired