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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Neil Gaiman Presents" is open for business!

This poor website's had quite a buffeting in the last 24 hours, what with the launch of All Hallows Read (the allhallowsread.com website is run off neilgaiman.com). Sorry if you've had trouble. The Webgoblin has upgraded everything, and it should be working again by now.

I just came back from Radio K.N.O.W. in St Paul, where I recorded a segment for NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED - they've started the Back Seat Book Club for kids, and picked The Graveyard Book as their lead title. Here's their article on the Book Club. More questions are still coming in, so I promised I'd answer some next week at their site.

I also recorded a couple of little things in the studio there for the introductions I've been doing to the Neil Gaiman Presents line at Audible.com.

This is something I'm really excited about. Don Katz at Audible.com knows how much I love audio books, and offered me the chance to have my own record label at Audible, getting books I loved and wanted to hear that had never been audiobooks made as audiobooks and out into the world, with the best readers I could find, using Audible's ACX platform. (The idea of ACX is that there are a lot more books out there than there are audiobooks, so ACX is a way of introducing authors and rights-holders to actor/performer/readers and producers/directors. It's very simple and sensible, and should, I hope, result in a lot more audiobooks out there in the world.)

It's been a year in the planning and now the first five books are out, with a lot more at various stages in the production process.

The first round of audiobooks consists of:

LAND OF LAUGHS by Jonathan Carroll read by Edoardo Ballerini.
YOU MUST GO AND WIN written and read by Alina Simone
PAVANE by Keith Roberts, read by Steven Crossley
 LIGHT by M. John Harrison, read by Julian Elfer
 THE MINOTAUR TAKES A CIGARETTE BREAK by Steven Sherrill, read by Holter Graham

Which is to say, one beautiful work of  magical realism about the dangers of having a favourite book, a collection of really funny essays about travel and Russia and being a musician, a collection of stories that become a moving alternate history, a strange and glorious space opera and a work of contemporary americana with a minotaur in it.

You could say "Why aren't these books all the same kind of thing?" and I would say "Because I like lots of different things. And so might you."

Coming up in the next round we will have Ellen Kushner reading SWORDSPOINT and John Hodgman reading Robert Sheckley's hilarious pre-Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy galactic travel fantasia DIMENSION OF MIRACLES. And lots, lots more...

 I recorded introductions to each book, worked with Audible to acquire the rights, worked with the authors (when they were alive) to choose the readers. I'm ridiculously proud of the whole thing. (There's a lady at Audible.com named Christina Harcar who has done all the heavy lifting and I am very grateful to her, to everyone involved at Audible, and particularly to Don Katz for indulging my madness.)

If you've never tried Audible, it's amazingly easy - you can use your Amazon ID and password to log in and sign up. The full list of what "Neil Gaiman Presents" has coming out is at this link.

If you've never tried an audio book before, this might be a good time to find out if you enjoy them. They will go and live on your phone, your tablet, your computer, your iPod...

(And if you're an author or an actor or a director/producer/engineer, you can get started using ACX at http://www.acx.com/help/learn-how-neil-uses-acx/200680340.)

I don't really have a good photo of an audiobook being recorded to round this out, so here is a photo of my wife chasing a chicken.


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Monday, October 24, 2011

The Back-seat Book Club and the Egg Salad

National Public Radio's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED has started a book club for the young:

Pretty obviously, I'm thrilled that they've chosen The Graveyard Book as their first book. There's a link for young readers to ask their Graveyard Book questions, and I'll answer as many as I can on the air on All Things Considered this Friday.

(Also, I was delighted to see that The Graveyard Book has made it back onto the New York Times bestseller list.)

And there's now a very pretty Adult Edition of the book out:




(People who like prints, signed or otherwise, should check out the Prints page at Cat's Neverwear.net - the Molly Crabapple Desert Wind posters go up in price on November 1st).

...

I did an interview with a reporter about The Simpsons this morning. It was fun and odd to be talking about it, and here is a picture of me and an egg salad from the upcoming episode with me in it to celebrate. Am I pleased about this egg salad? Do I look pleased? Why is the title of the Simpsons episode The Book Job? Why have I blogged three times in 12 hours after not having blogged for two weeks? Will anyone ever fix the Livejournal officialgaiman syndicated feed? Why did I say the egg salad was a tuna salad on WhoSay? Is it something to do with the colour?

Neil Gaiman's photo WIll this tuna salad save the world... or destroy it? Find out Nov 20th. A blatant commercial for my appearance on THE SIMPSONS.
Neil Gaiman on WhoSay

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Thoughts on joining a club that would have me as a member

I'm still grinning about finding myself, for the second year running, on the Astrid Lindgren Award longlist.

It's a very long list of very amazing people doing good and powerful things for children's literature and literacy around the world - writers, illustrators, oral storytellers, promoters of literacy: 184 nominees from 66 countries.

The Guardian asked how I felt about it, and I wrote a reply to them, but I wrote it on my phone, which was out of range of any signal and thus didn't send it. So it wasn't in their article.

I thought I'd put it here. Because I meant it, and I still mean it.

This is my second year on the Astrid Lindgren longlist, and I'm a strange mixture of thrilled to be picked and honoured to be in such company. Just as thrilled as I was last year, in truth.

Last year Shaun Tan won, which made me feel that the award was going to the best people. With a longlist of 184 people I feel less like I'm in competition for an award and more like I've been told I'm part of a club of people who've been doing the right thing.

Making fiction for children, making books for children, isn't something you do for money. It's something you do because what children read and learn and see and take in changes them and forms them, and they make the future. They make the world we're going to wind up in, the world that will be here when we're gone.

Which sounds preachy (and is more than you need for a quotebyte) but it's true. I want to tell kids important things, and I want them to love stories and love reading and love finding things out. I want them to be brave and wise. So I write for them.

And I'm honoured to be part of the club.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

All Hallows Read News, and stuff.




I'm way behind in blogging. Partly because I started playing with Tumblr (http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/), which is fun because it's novel and shiny, and because it makes a few things that are hard to do in Blogger really easy. Partly because I was off the map for a bit, doing a number of things, including spending time with Amanda at her sister's in Santa Fe, where I got to be an Uncle to her nephew Ronan who started out calling me Uncle Neil and then switched to Neilgaiman, and when last seen was resisting all Amanda's efforts to persuade him to call me Uncle Neilgaiman.

Yesterday I went to see the Chippewa Valley Roller Girls play. (They played Harbor City, in Duluth, and were honorably beaten.) My assistant Lorraine is now skating with them as Quiche Me Deadly, although yesterday she was not skating, instead she organised... well, as far as I could tell, she seemed to be organising everything. Lojo Russo played the intermission, for example. After the game, Lorraine took me over to her teammates and introduced me to them.

Photo by Ctein.

Eventually she persuaded them to give me back.

...

Right.

I'm at home, wrapping things up, and preparing for the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego, and then the Evening With Neil and Amanda tour West Coast Tour that follows it.

On October the 31st, Amanda will be a musical guest (she will be forming a small and magical supergroup for the occasion), and I will be in the guest's chair talking with, Craig Ferguson. I had hopes of getting him a MacSween's vegetarian haggis. Zooey Deschanel will be the other guest. It will be fun.

And then we will careen from the Late Late Show studios over to the Wilshire Ebell for the Soundcheck and then the first of the "Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer" shows.



(There are still tickets available for the LA show as I type this - perhaps because it's on Hallowe'en, and people often have things to do on Hallowe'en. The two San Francisco shows, Portland and Vancouver sold out immediately. There are a few tickets left for Seattle on November the 9th.)

Which reminds me...

A year ago, on a plane, it occurred to me that there should be a scary book-giving part of Hallow'en, and I wrote this, here on the blog:



I was on a flight home last night, and I thought,

You know, there aren't enough traditions that involve giving books.

There's World Book Day, which grew out of Don Quixote Day/Cervantes Birthday/St George's Day in Spain, where roses and books are given, but really, we need some more instant traditions that involve the giving of books, the kind that spread all over the world.

And then I thought,

Hallowe'en's next weekend...

So:

I propose that, on Hallowe'en or during the week of Hallowe'en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they'll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they'll enjoy.

I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands -- new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe'en. Make their flesh creep...

Give a scary book.

If you don't know what kinds of books there are, or what would be appropriate for the person you're giving a book to, talk to a bookseller. They love to help, most of them. (The ones that don't tend not to be booksellers for long.) Talk to librarians. (Do not plan to give away their books though, unless they are having a library sale.)

That's it. That's my idea.

Scary book. Hallowe'en.

Who's with me?


Neil


(And for those of you who protest that, honestly, you need no excuse to give books as gifts, and you do it all the time, and it comes to you as naturally as breathing -- well, that's wonderful, and I'm glad. Think of this as your chance to spread books to people to whom you might not normally give books, or to receive books you might otherwise never read.)



And, with help from the ever-amenable Web Goblin, Dan Guy, and the former Web Elf, Olga Nunes, we made the All Hallows Read website at http://www.allhallowsread.com/. (The festival was named on Twitter.)

This year, lots of people have taken the severed head and started to run with it.


A few months ago I called Elise Howard at Harper Children's, who has been my editor there for the last decade, and spoke to her about it. She loved the idea of getting involved. She offered to print a poster, for the winning entry in an All Hallow's Read poster contest...
Artists: Enter the All Hallow’s Read poster contest, and your winning design might become the official All Hallow’s Read poster in 2012.

Your original submission should spread the word about All Hallow’s Read and encourage participation in the program. The winning poster design will be announced and featured on AllHallowsRead.com and will become a limited-edition poster to be printed and distributed to participating booksellers for All Hallow’s Read in 2012 (printing and distribution sponsored by HarperCollinsPublishers).


I thought that the poster idea was a wonderful one, and was thrilled that they were going to sponsor that when I got another message from Elise. This time with something even more fun that they were going to do for people in New York. On Tuesday...


Hi, Neil.

We’ve got everybody on board here at Harper for All Hallow’s Read and our big book drop on 10/25. In addition to encouraging readers to participate in the AHR book drop and retweeting their efforts and pictures, we’re going to drop sixty Harper titles for readers of various ages at locations around New York City. Lucky readers will find copies of The Graveyard Book and Coraline, Dark Eden by Patrick Carmen, Possess by Rachel McNeil, Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz, and Vampire Boy’s Good Night by Lisa Brown.

We’re going to create a downloadable sticker for All Hallow’s Read book drop participants to print and use, so that book finders can take up the mission, too.

Throughout the day, we’ll call out the AHR book-drop project on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Look for your favorite Harper staffers in the #AllHallowsRead discussion on 10/25!

Elise

In addition to this book drop project, they've made some fine scary book recommendations (you can read them at http://www.allhallowsread.com/book-recommendations/ - and I did a list myself, with the help of about 1800 suggestions from Facebook, right now as a PDF on that page.

Of course, you do not need to be a publisher to do a book drop, and we now have a page on the All Hallows Read site with a Book Drop Sticker that you can print out and put in a book, which lets people know that the book is there to be taken and read.

And All Hallows Read even has its own forum, where people can exchange ideas, tips and useful ways to give scary books.

...

It feel like the end of a decade, too. Ten years ago I was an adult author who was going to publish a book called Coraline, my first children's book from a major publisher. I had two editors, Sarah Odedina at Bloomsbury in the UK and Elise Howard at Harper Children's in the US. They were two of the smartest editors anyone could have. I felt comfortable with them, and safe with them, and they advised but never ordered, they supported me as an author, they were patient when they had every right to ask where the book I was meant to be writing was. One on each side of the Atlantic.

And in a matter of weeks, both of them have gone - each of them has her own imprint. Sarah is publishing Bonnier's children's imprint, Hot Key Books, in the UK, and Elise will be creating a children's line for Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

I wanted to wave them goodbye here, and to say thank you for everything they did. Their authors will be very lucky to have them, and I'll miss them.

...


Hi Neil,

This is too long to Tweet, so I was wondering, are you aware of Mark Oshiro's "Mark Reads" project and the fact he's currently doing (almost finished) American Gods?

"Mark Reads" started as "Mark Reads Twilight" and was done as a joke, but when he started blogging Harry Potter in the same vein, he realised he actually liked the series and stopped making fun of it - and he now does books that he actually hopes to enjoy and think seriously about - he does chapter by chapter reviews/reactions and tries to read completely spoiler free. The blog has had literally millions of hits and hundreds of thousands of followers.

I know you can't mention everyone who ever does a reading project of one of your books and that you must have heard everything there is to hear, but the real reason I'm writing to you about him today, though, is because of something in particular he said in today's review (chapter 18)

"that’s half the charm of American Gods. This might technically be a fantasy novel, but it rarely feels fantastic. It feels like the very best history lesson I could ask for, or perhaps a fireside story told with sincerity and heart, or maybe even a tale handed down over the centuries. It’s comforting even if it is disturbing at times, and I found myself feeling like this was all being shared with me out of respect for me as a person. It’s not often that I feel that way about a book; it’s like Gaiman is a close friend who trusts you, so he hands you this as a gesture that he thinks you’re an all right person, that he feels safe in saying that you deserve this."

I just thought that was a nice sentiment about you, and that you should be aware of it.

http://www.markreads.net

best always,

Natalie Fisher


I went over to Mark Reads and I was really impressed. It was fun, as an author, watching a reader paying attention and writing about his reactions, all the way through. There were some really smart people in the comments, too. (You can follow along as Mark reads American Gods at http://markreads.net/reviews/category/american-gods/)

...

And finally, two things: Lemony Snicket writing about money and about cake at Occupy Writers, and Elvis Costello sings one of my favourite songs from his first album, My Aim Is True, but with monsters instead of angels, and a two instead of a shoe.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

I bet you think it's easy just to eat a banana and not say anything

You may remember this video. It was filmed by Amanda's assistant, Superkate, on Brighton Beach, at the beginning of September.



Well, this one is the sequel. It's our thank you. Filmed a few days ago in a mall in Cambridge MA by Claudia Gonson. The sound is a bit echoey.



...

Over at http://superpunch.blogspot.com/2011/10/art-inspired-by-neil-gaimans-american.html there's an amazing assortment of art inspired by American Gods. All sorts of styles and kinds of art. Here's one I love, of the Zorya, and Shadow and Czernobog playing checkers.



...

Here's an astonishing video of the Evelyn Evelyn song "Have you Seen my Sister Evelyn?"




I was going to write that it was because I wrote something about this song on this blog that I got a "thank you for saying nice things about our song" email from Amanda Palmer that turned into a correspondence, and then turned into me agreeing to write some stories for the Who Killed Amanda Palmer book, and then, a little over a year afterwards, developed into the start of the relationship that we now have, and then I went back and looked for the link, and discovered that actually it was Evelyn Evelyn's "Elephant Elephant" song that I was nice about. Proving that memory is a fallible sort of a thing.

But it's still an amazingly beautiful video.

...

Would you like to have lunch with me, in LA or when I'm on the road? Or would you rather have lunch with Frank Miller and his editor Bob Schreck? Or have writer and former DC Comics publisher Paul Levitz review your portfolio and tell you how to make it in comics? Or have Frank Quitely sketch a postcard for you? Or have me do a sketch on a postcard for you? (Frank's will be prettier.)

All these things, and a ridiculously long list of other things, are possible. Details and a list of things at http://cbldf.org/homepage/be-counted/ where the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is having an NPR like membership drive, with some amazing things for people who want to pledge for them. The donations are big, but count as charitable donations, and come off your taxes.

And if you don't want (or cannot afford) one of the big ticket items, you can still - and should - become a CBLDF member at http://cbldf.org/contribute/membership/. Annual membership starts at $25, for which you get a Green Lantern membership card. But no power ring.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

One Ordinary Day with autumn leaves


I am home, after ten days of working on a Grand Guignol theatre piece with Stephin Merritt and director Steven Bogart, and some wonderful and enthusiastic young actors.

This is how enthusiastic they were: when we had a ten minute break, and they had been working all day, and I asked if anyone would mind being zombies and or murdering each other while I talked about All Hallow's Read, none of them did, and they murdered each other with enthusiasm.



Right. I am at home with a Maddy who has lost her voice. It is very sweet. She whispers everything, and I make her cups of lemon and honey. As I am typing this, I am listening to her play the violin. It's a perfect Indian Summer - a sunny, warm autumn, and the leaves are beautiful, and October is most definitely in the chair.

Lots of things going on. Cat Mihos is ebaying a lot of rarities for Trevor Valle -- friend, fan and the reason why I have the Neilgaiman.com website. Trevor's going through some horrible medical stuff right now. Kitty and Trevor explain what's going on at http://kittysneverwear.blogspot.com/2011/09/trevor-treasure-chestopening-soon.html, tells you about some of the rarities and cool things at http://kittysneverwear.blogspot.com/2011/10/trevor-chest-up-in-full-effect-yall.html and the actual auction is on eBay at http://www.ebay.com/sch/kitty9thlife/m.html?_trksid=p4340.l2562

Lots of cool, rare stuff - including three pages of Marc Hempel art from Sandman: The Kindly Ones.

Kitty also learned that, back in 2000, Trevor had bought from the CBLDF a box of the original Craig Thompson screenprint/posters for the Last Angel Tour. These have long since sold out on the CBLDF website, and aren't simply available anywhere anymore. She bought them from Trevor outright, and is going to be putting them up on Neverwear soon. (There's a picture of Trevor holding one on the front page of the website, although they aren't for sale yet.)

I found an image on the web of one of them. They look like this, were silkscreened onto heavy card stock, and have to be signed with a paint-pen.




...

In the UK, the Society of Authors wants to draw attention to the BBC's cutbacks to short stories.

This is what I wrote in The Guardian Blog about it;

I love short stories. I grew up on them, and the stories that had an effect on me are now encoded into my DNA. Shirley Jackson's "One Ordinary Day With Peanuts" and "The Lottery". Saki's "Sredni Vashtar". WW Jacobs's "The Monkey's Paw". Kipling's "The Gardener". There are heaps of them, and it's love all the way.

For a working writer, this is a silly sort of love. You should write novels. Short stories sell for the price of a good dinner, if you're lucky (and the magazines and anthologies that used to buy them are themselves fading away or gone completely). When they get reprinted they won't cover the taxi fare to get to the dinner. I'm lucky, and have collected my short stories into books that sell well for short-story ­collections, but still only a fraction of the number that my novels sell.

But short stories are the best place for young writers to learn their craft: to try out different voices and techniques, to experiment, to learn. And they're a wonderful place for old writers, when you have an idea that wouldn't make it to novel length, one simple, elegant thing that needs to be said. People like reading short stories. And they like ­listening to short stories.

For years, Radio 4 has supported the short story. Ten-minute stories, professionally read, give writers young and old a chance to make a ­professional sale. Full disclosure: I wrote a short story, "Jerusalem", for them a few years ago, and grew up listening to short stories on Radio 4 and dreaming that one day I'd have a story on there.

Now the station's support for the short story is waning. The Tweetathon we're doing to bring attention to this (each Wednesday for the next five weeks, in association with the Society of Authors, a writer will tweet the first line of a story and tweeters will add the next four sentences to create a short story in 670 characters) may or may not produce great stories: hive minds are excellent news-gatherers and commentators but tend not to produce great art.

All I'm hoping is that it reminds people how much pleasure readers, and listeners, get from short stories, and how much we learn from writing them. If we produce another "The Monkey's Paw" that'll be a bonus.


In Wednesday, at 11 in the morning UK time, and at 6 in the evening UK time, the Society of Authors will put up the first line of a short story by me on their twitter account, @Soc_of_Authors, and they want you to continue it. There will be two different stories. (I don't even know which ones they will use -- I gave them a choice of several.)


...

You can hear my This American Life talk on Adventures at http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/448/adventure from tomorrow, or all over the US on various Public Radio stations from Friday Night. Er, the night before last.

...



When last seen, I was proofreading A LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF. It was proofread, and has gone off to press. Because too many people had ordered copies, more than expected, while I had only signed enough limitation sheets for the limited edition, publishers Tom and Elizabeth Monteleone asked me if they could print more books to satisfy the people who had ordered...

So I said yes.

Which means right now you can STILL order an unsigned edition of A LITTLE GOLD BOOK OF GHASTLY STUFF. It's an assemblage of stories, essays, poems, reviews, speeches and introductions by me, about 25,000 words in all, with a Gahan Wilson cover showing me being attacked by uglies.

Ordering details are at: http://www.borderlandspress.com/littlegold.html. Yes, the shipping abroad fees are either twice or four times the cost of the book. Scary. Sorry.

If you think you may want one, order fast. The books are now being printed, and they won't go back to press when they've sold out.

...

Lastly, it seems that Barnes and Nobles across the US are removing 100 DC Comics Graphic Novels from their shelves (literally removing them and sending them back to the warehouses for the next four months) in response to DC's deal with Amazon.com to make these 100 Graphic Novels available as digital exclusives to the Kindle Fire.

I mentioned this on Twitter, and wound up getting a strange deluge of hate mail. Here's a polite one:

I never thought I would have to tell you that myself, my children and several of my friends are extremely disappointed with you. I can't believe that you would let your Sandman fans down by letting DC/Warner Bros release your books on the Kindle and not all e-readers.

I was very excited when I heard that Sandman was coming out as an e-book but was heartbroken when it was announced that *I* and my kids won't have it on our readers.

Thanks.


And I wonder why on earth people assume that I, or Alan Moore, or Frank Miller, have any say at all in DC Comics's marketing decisions. Do they think that someone at DC calls us up and gets our permission before they do such deals, or that we have any ability to stop it? The first I heard about the exclusive, was hearing that Barnes and Noble staff were having to take their graphic novels off the shelves.

I think that Barnes and Noble's reasons for doing this are pretty obvious. It's to intimidate other publishers and make it clear that exclusives with Amazon will not be tolerated. But, following the death of Borders, Barnes and Noble's position as the US's sole huge bricks and mortar shop chain is something that it's very easy to abuse. I hope that this is a negotiating tactic, because otherwise it does bad things for customer choice all around, digitally and otherwise. (It's also publicised the upcoming Fire, publicised that DC's basic graphic novels are available there, and publicised that they are no longer in Barnes and Nobles, in a way that must make Amazon the happiest company on the block this morning.)

There's a beautiful leatherbound edition of American Gods and Anansi Boys that's only available from Barnes and Noble. I'd hate to see this considered justification by Amazon for removing those books from the Kindle.

On the good side, I hope that it means that local comic shops (http://comicshoplocator.com/ for your nearest) will stock and sell more copies of that basic 100 Graphic novel list.

If there's any more news on this, I'll post it. Otherwise, I'm just waiting, and remembering how long and how much effort it took to get the books into bookstores, and being sad that they aren't there, and knowing that it's not the fault of the people who work there and had to take them off the shelves (or explain to customers that they don't sell them any longer, but you can still order them from Barnes and Noble's website).

..

Right. Off to work.

I've been experimenting with a Tumblr recently. It's fun. http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR WORK UNLESS YOU WORK IN A MUSEUM AND HAVE THE SECURITY CAMERAS OFF

Hullo world.

I'm in Boston, right now, actually in Cambridge, working with director Steven Bogart, a wonderful crew of young actors, and Stephin Merritt, evolving a theatrical thing about the Grand Guignol, the Parisian theatre of horror, in the early years of the 20th century. We're in a church sub-basement, and I worry a little about the cries of pain, screams of fear, and sounds of human beings completely breaking down as they are tortured and destroyed making it up to the street, but if they do it doesn't seem to bother anyone.

Jessica Fox, a filmmaker, is recording our process, and a couple of days ago we headed into a nearby graveyard and recorded a promotional video for All Hallow's Read. (What is it? learn all at http://www.allhallowsread.com/) I love actors. They are people who will happily sacrifice their 10 minute breaktime to murder each other in a graveyard in the background of someone else's video.

Yesterday morning Amanda and I were invited to the Museum of Fine Arts' DEGAS AND THE NUDE exhibition. Amanda had done the audio guide to the exhibition, the one you get from an iPhone as you walk around the exhibition. This is because a) she has a beautiful talking voice and b) she can talk with authority about being nude. We were given a private showing. Amanda had brought chalks and some paper along, because she had had an idea.

"I thought I could take off my clothes in front of the Degas nudes, and then Neil could draw me," she said to the Museum people, as they began our tour.

They conferred, decided this would be just fine as long as the security cameras were turned off. Then they discovered that they couldn't turn off the security cameras, so they had a man in a forklift come in and hang coffee cups over the security camera lenses in that room. And I sketched nude Amanda in chalks for ten minutes. Then I got in a cab and went over to WBUR Boston to record a bit I'm doing for THIS AMERICAN LIFE about Adventures and how I don't have them.



Ira Glass was on the other end of the line. He introduced himself. "How was your day?" he asked. So I told him. There was a pause. "Are you lying?" he asked, sensibly, and I said no, I wasn't.

The THIS AMERICAN LIFE piece goes out this weekend. The theme is ADVENTURES.

More next post...

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