This American Life, etc.
And so: *
A number of things have happened since I last posted that are not only newsworthy but explain why I've been busy, not the least of which is this: in the middle of trying to write my book proposal for How to Love God And Not Be a Jerk, I was contacted via e-mail by Lisa Pollak from This American Life (if you were on my team at the MIT Mystery Hunt, that was her, following us around). They liked a SECOND pitch I'd made, for an upcoming show on "The Ten Commandments." My idea: to talk about adultery using the fundamentalist concept of "committing adultery in your heart" (i.e., having lustful thoughts) and talk about how it nearly killed me. This time, I'm "contributor David Dickerson" and they're paying me as a writer. I can't tell you how excited I've been. So just a few days ago I was actually in a read-through with Lisa, senior producer Julie Snyder, a director named Jane, and Ira Gla--fucking--ss, reading through my story and trying to find the best pace for it, the best beats, etc.
I've never been so well edited in my life. It verged on maddening at times, because I think the quality of a really good editor is to obsess about details that not even the writer is particularly motivated about (which is why most great writers come out of great writer-editor partnerships). Then yesterday I actually taped the script we finally came up with, and I learned what makes Jane so great. Reading is easy until you notice every goddamn thing you're doing. Then it helps to have a professional nearby. "Breathe more in between your lines," she'd say, or "That sounds like you're reading it off a page. Pretend you're talking to a friend." I raised my chin. I tried not to turn my head. I spoke at an angle to the mike. I tried it again only this time more flat. I tried it again without dropping off tonally. I tried it again for reasons I can only dimly remember. Being a director is probably really good training for being a dominatrix.
Anyway, the show will run on the 4th, and it's available on iTunes and at their website. The show has ten segments. I'm somewhere around number seven. (It didn't occur to me to ask which version of the Decalogue they're going by. I assume the Judge Roy Moore version. [correction: ex-judge.])
In other news, I bought an exercise bike (Thanks, Andy, for the moving help!) which actually fits in my tiny-ass room, and which is actually so whisper-quiet I never need fear getting beat up by the neighbors. I swear to god, if you live in a Manhattan apartment, you couldn't ask for a better machine. A Schwinn 105p. I feel lighter already.
And yesterday, in my How To Love God research, I bought Christopher Hitchen's new book, God Isn't Great. I actually didn't have many hopes for it, because while Hitchens is a master of elegant vitriol, he certainly has irritating opinions (he wrote a piece in Vanity Fair about "Why Women Aren't Funny" that was so smug I just want to slap him), and sometimes you get tired of all the hectoring. But this is a worthy addition to the sort of modern atheist trilogy (which includes Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion and Sam Harris's The End of Faith---with his follow-up book, Letter to a Christian Nation considered as an appendix to the latter). And, I'm happy to say for my sake, that none of them obviates (so far) the points I am hoping to make with my book: that the atheists who have written these books don't actually understand religious people; that if atheism is ever going to become popular, it needs to look unflinchingly at why people might find it unpleasant; and that before we talk about getting rid of religion, we need to first distinguish between what good and bad religion actually is. With any luck, I'll have this proposal completed by next weekend. You know, when I'm not exercycling.
In other news, Ryan Wyatt, my best friend in town, just left Manhattan to take a really exciting job at a Science Center in San Francisco. Among other advantages, the Center is apparently going to be the largest green building in the ... um, United States? World? I keep forgetting. Probably world, because Ryan seemed very excited. When he got there, they actually had a press conference, which I'm hoping will show up in the boondock areas of YouTube.
That should do it. I should write a bit more now that I'm not constantly fiddling with an actual script that I'm actually getting paid for. But boy, do I feel smart for having moved here!