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Monthly Archives: October 2009

El Collisione (And Moonlighting)

Last year some time my agent talked me into something I didn’t want to do. He’s good at that.

Backstory: my father and Christopher Hitchens (renowned atheist) had published a book together, debating the merits of faith and Christianity (Is Christianity Good for the World?). The raucus little thing drew some nice attention and is an enjoyable clash of personalities and perspectives. Anybody interested in the new atheism and resulting fights should read it. I like philosophical/theological discussions that make me laugh out loud.

Aaron (my agent–we’ve been friends since college, back when he had enormous mushroom hair and spent most of his time playing covers of Toad the Wet Sprocket), had a plan. My dad and Hitchens should go on the road together promoting their book (eating, drinking, shouting, eye-gouging, etc.), and we should produce a documentary about it. We teamed up with music video directing friend, Darren Doane (Jason Mraz, Blink 182, Van Morrison, etc.), he teamed us up with a couple other guys, we got funding, and the whole thing actually happened.

The result is a documentary called Collision. And I like it a lot. Hitch and my dad are in the middle of a radio and tv blitz promoting it, and tomorrow (10/28) it premieres in New York. (LA later this week–for more info check The distributor has also simultaneously released the DVD (currently the top-selling documentary on Amazon). The DVD releases today. Check out the trailers if you haven’t already. Hit the theaters if you’re in NYC or LA. As for the rest of you, the DVD is cheap.


Family Book Plug (The White Horse King)

My brother-in-law (one Benjamin Merkle) spent the last three years in Oxford (with my sister and their young brood) working on an Mst in Oriental Studies and a doctorate on Reformation Germany. At the same time, he decided to take advantage of his location and write a biography of King Alfred. He’d previously spent some time studying Alfred for a stateside MA in Renaissance Literature (translating some of King Alfred’s Anglo Saxon translation of Augustine’s Soliloquies, among other things). He is wicked smart (deceptively so–and that’s a good thing), and he writes quite well.

Alfred’s story is as unbelievable as it is important. As the fifth son of the king of Wessex, he never expected to see the throne. But with Viking invasions, a dead father, and four dead elder brothers, he ended up seeing a great deal more. With England’s kingdoms completely sacked, he refused to flee (even though capture meant a grisly human sacrifice to Odin), gathered faithful followers, and slowly retook the entire isle–uniting England as England for the first time.

It’s such a good story, Hollywood is bound to ruin it sometime.

My family and I got to tag around England and get some authorial tours of some of the chief Alfred sites, along with oral versions of the some the big stories. Terrific. Go forth and buy it.

Books From My Past, Pt. 3 (Up Periscope)

If I were to compile a list of ‘most frequently read books during boyhood’, I think many people would expect to find one of the Narnia Chronicles at the tippy top (or maybe The Two Towers or The Return of the King). That’s what I would expect of myself. But only if I was–perhaps–being a touch dishonest. Those are respectable childhood books, books that any  kid-lit author can associate with in public without shame. They’re shiny, well-known, and brilliant. And yes, I did read them. Lots.

But blogs are all about honesty (like wikipedia and the evening news). And so I’ll take an honest look at the dusty books on my shelves (all of which I saved). And the truth is Read the rest of this entry »

I Live and Breathe

As I told you all last time (when the world was still in the summer portion of its orbit), I’ve been working on a new book in a new series. True enough. I finished the first draft at the end of August, and then decided that it would be a good idea to load up my quiver with new experiences. Which is why I went and had back surgery. (Not because I had blown a disk playing basketball–that had nothing to do with my decision).

A team of people in a refrigerated room sliced me open, chunked out a portion of one of my vertebrae (L5), and then scraped a bunch of splattered cartilage off of the nerve stems sticking out of my spinal column. When they’d finished, they didn’t even bother to sew me back up. They used glue. I meant to have the whole thing filmed so I could post the video here, but in the heat of the moment, I forgot.

Yesterday was my first day actually back at my desk (though still only in spurts), and I have now had more than a month to ponder and chew and mull (both on and off of painkillers) on the manuscript I completed before getting cut.

Second draft time.

Anyhow, thanks for your patience. And apologies for the lack of video. I’m sure it would have been thrilling.