Wednesday, October 05, 2011


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 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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