COMING SOON: Last Words Ministry takes on “This American Life”

May 16, 2009

I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to listen to this live because it’s going to air on the West Coast at 9 pm Pacific, but on June 13 last night the folks at Last Words Radio did a piece about my “This American Life” piece, examining the conversation and (from their perspective) where Coach Hogan’s tactics went “wrong.”

Once I’ve had a chance to listen to it, I’m definitely going to be writing about it.

My good deed for the month

May 16, 2009

When I turned 30, I promised myself that wherever Kelly was (Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, a certain “library” where all of her books are “published”), I would always try and make her proud of me.

To me, that means trying not to hurt other people deliberately, treating people whose opinions run counter to my own with some respect, trying not to make fun of people whose opinions, stances, and livelihoods aren’t “popular”, etc. Part of that also has expanded to waiting a little bit of time before passing judgment on someone because I know what it’s like to be seen and dismissed because of the way I look, act, and behave.

The young man I met at the McDonald’s on my way home from a jazz/billiards/ping pong hall in the West Village was “stranded” because it was close to 4 am and he lived in Jersey. He looked like your average post-college frat boy with his dark brown hair gelled up into a faux-hawk, a wide leather collar on his wrist, and an iPhone-imitator in his hands.

While we waited for our post-drinking breakfasts, he spun a story about needing to find a place to hang out for a while before his shift at a chain restaurant in the middle of Times Square. Having been in his same situation once or twice before, I decided to let him crash on my couch. And here’s where the story really starts. Read the rest of this entry »

What to say to an agnostic whose friend has died

May 12, 2009

The day job has been pretty busy lately, so I haven’t had any time to think about how I’m going to start up the first Kielle Foundation book or even how the new Saucy Goose Press website is going to look.

But what I have been doing is reading and replying to comments and emails that still keep coming in from here and there from people who have listened to the “This American Life” episode and yes, I’m even tracking people down via linkbacks and Google searches because one of the things this experience has taught me is that it doesn’t hurt to reach out to someone and say thank you. Read the rest of this entry »

One to Watch: Paul McGuire on poker

May 1, 2009

Back in October 2008 when I wrote about 20th Century Fox’s fast-tracking of the Wall Street 2 movie, I turned a spotlight onto one of my favorite living writers, Paul McGuire. If there were a category for nouveau-gonzo in journalism, the man known all over the international poker circuit as Dr. Pauly would be one of its luminaries.

I lamented then that it was a shame that Allen Loeb was going to be the new movie’s screenwriter, and suggesting that Dr. Pauly be given a shot at the job instead. Yesterday, the good doctor’s writings provided yet another reason why I think he should be writing screenplays and novels in addition to the many freelance articles he turns in about poker, and more specifically, why he’s the perfect guy to write about Wall Street and greed in the new millenium: Read the rest of this entry »

Where do I go from here?

April 28, 2009

Contrary to popular belief, sometimes I do have a plan.

One of the reasons why I think I had such a hard time getting over Kelly’s death is that I vowed that she would not be forgotten, and the way I wanted to memorialize her was by creating a non-profit foundation that would raise money to help support causes she believed in. However, back in 2005 I knew that I wasn’t ready to start or manage something like that as a full-time effort because I knew I didn’t have the kinds of skills one needs to do that sort of thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Pascal’s Wager for agnostics

April 26, 2009

For me, it all began with Pascal’s Wager.

I can’t remember exactly when and where I heard of it, but the wager as I remember it goes like this: If there is a God and He offers eternal reward for good behavior, it makes more sense to believe in Him than not to do so because you haven’t lost anything if it turns out there isn’t one.

The wager approached God and religion from a pragmatic angle and that made a lot of sense to me at the time. Growing up, I was taught to believe that God was a part of my life, that He would always be there to help me, and it was really nice to get that sort of logical, scientific affirmation that it made sense to believe in Him.

When I got to college, I started to attempt to incorporate everything I was learning with what I was taught about a Christian God and it didn’t seem to fit. If there is a God who said and did everything he’s supposed to say and have done in the Bible, why is it that other people have recorded those same events in different ways? If language shifts over time, how can we be certain that what we’re translating now is accurate to how it was written down, with the same tones and inflections as it was when the author wrote them? If the ancient Greeks used their gods and belief systems as metaphors in their epic poems and histories, could the early Christian writers have not done the same?

I may have mentioned this before to some of you, but there’s this gal I got to know around the same time I met Kelly. She’s a Southern woman, a Christian woman, and yet she didn’t mind that some of us didn’t share her faith. I don’t remember the context for this statement, but it struck me so much that I saved it: Read the rest of this entry »

This American (after) Life

April 21, 2009

After thinking that I wasn’t going to be able to do so, I re-arranged my schedule a bit on Saturday morning to catch the local airing of the first story I got produced by “This American Life”.

Because I didn’t edit it or work on it myself, I didn’t have any idea of how the story would turn out so I’d be listening to how it all came together just like everyone else would. Perfectionist that I am, the very first thing I noticed is that I have a tendency to mumble, and I wonder if that’s a result of growing up with a speech impediment that has never completely gone away. At least I know how to read out loud and give a passage some decent inflection.

I’ve listened to it maybe two or three times since then, and what I really enjoyed about how it turned out is how fair it is to both myself and Kris and how respectful it is to each of our positions. Because I’m the one who brought to story to the TAL producers, the listener gets to hear mostly my interpretation of how the conversations went, but that was to be expected.

One of the perhaps unintended consequences of choosing the degeneration of my faith in God as my first story pitch is that more people want to talk to me about God. I’ve told two strangers so far (one forwarded to me from Kris, the other is someone who did some sleuthing and found my Gmail address) that I don’t mind listening to how they feel about God, just as long as we treat each other with the same kind of respect that Kris and I shared during our conversations.

And speaking of Kris, after thanking him for participating in the interview, he and I are going to remain in contact because even though at the end of the story we didn’t see eye to eye on God, I can’t think of any good reason to discontinue having a productive discussion about the nature of faith.

However, the part that’s the most gratifying is that Kelly’s best friend listened to the show and told me some particulars about her case which helped me to see that it was actually a good thing that my prayers didn’t get answered back then.

At least that’s one mental barrier down.

So what is this “Awesome Thing”?

April 17, 2009

If you’re reading this, you’ve come to this blog because you’ve been wondering what this “Awesome Thing” is that I’ve been talking about lately. I am very eager to shed some light on this mysterious deed that has gotten me all a-flutter.

But first, some back-story.

Back in 1999, I was at the end of my college career and wondering what I was going to do with my newfound English degree. I knew I wanted to be a journalist and a writer of books and short stories, but didn’t know exactly how to go about doing it in Southern California where I was living.

I knew the thing to do would be to move to New York and break into the publishing industry there, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere if I didn’t have any relevant experience.

Thank goodness I had reached this point in my life during the advent of Web 1.0, and the burgeoning idea that you didn’t need to have a satchel full of degrees or four years in college of working at the school paper to be a journalist. (In the interest of full disclosure, I did do a few months as a stringer for the CSUF Daily Titan in 1998; scoping the lead article for this issue [warning: PDF] was one of my biggest triumphs.)

With the help of some friends who had spare server space and a self-teaching book on HTML, I set up shop as one who conducted interviews of authors of fan-fiction, and the second person who ever consented to be interviewed by me was a woman who wrote under the name of “Kielle” who arrived at the meeting place with her writing partner “Laersyn.” Read the rest of this entry »