Wednesday, August 17, 2011

God, No!!

My Mom and Dad are my heroes. They are everything to me and I owe my life to them (literally!) After my parents, there is a group of people whose words or actions have been inspirational to me. I consider them heroes as well (I suppose you can say they are a "notch" down from the 'rents, if the rankings are important to you.) Some of them are people I actually know in real Uncle John for example. I worked with him at his auto garage when I was thirteen. He is the hardest worker I have ever seen!! I've done a poor job of following the example he set, but I'll never forget the love he showed me by sharing it. Many on this list of heroes are people I've never Charles Darwin. Not only have I never met him, but I'm not going to meet him (he's dead..seriously, check his Wikipedia page). But his theory of evolution informs so much of who I am and what I believe. (If more people in our country accepted it, no one could be a racist anymore...We are ALL AFRICANS!!)

Near the top of this "secondary" list of heroes, is definitely Penn Jillette. I've gone into detail before about what Penn's radio show meant to me (a big deal!!). But it's more than just the radio program. I own the seasons of Penn & Teller's Bullshit! on DVD. I watch all of his video blogs, the older Penn Says and the current Penn Point. He's written many articles that you can find online on a wide range of topics...from his thoughts on gas guzzlin' Hummers to his favorite candy. In 2008, I saw the live show in Las Vegas (my first chance to meet the man...and move him off the Darwin, "never met" list...visual evidence below.)

So, when it was announced that he was writing a book on atheism, of course I was "all in". I've read other books he has written...his novel "Sock" (which is SO unique and great) and his poker book, "How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker: The Wisdom of Dickie Richard". I preordered a copy of his new book, "God, No!: Signs You May Already be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales", for my Nook the first day it was on the Barnes & Noble site. When the Center for Inquiry in Washington D.C. announced that he would be making an appearance at George Washington University to talk about his new book (his ONLY such East Coast event), we bought tickets right away. I waited up until midnight the night before the book was released to make sure that it was "delivered" to my Nook. Once I confirmed that it had been, I couldn't help but start reading it (did I mention that I wake up each morning at 4 AM for work.) Are you getting the idea yet?

I had read about half of the book before the event in D.C. last night. It was a very entertaining Q & A between Penn and moderator Melody Hensley (Executive Director of CFI-DC). He told some of the stories that he shares in the book. My wife and I took our eleven year old son...yes, I'm the parent who takes his 11 year old to hear a magician tell stories about his adventure in a gay bath house in San Francisco, circa 1981 (I didn't want your "Father of the Year" certificate anyway...being a Dad isn't something you get an award for). Once the talk was over we got the opportunity to go on stage to meet Penn (not just us...everyone who wanted their book signed got to meet him). Once we got there, I thanked him for retweeting all of my Penn Point announcements (he does retweet them...his twitter feed is @pennjillette ). He responded with, "That's you?!? You're the guy?!?" I've been so moved by so much of what he's done, it was CRAZY for him to use the words "the guy" to describe me. He was kind enough to sign my Nook, sign a three of clubs for my son (Penn & Teller always use a three of clubs in their card tricks) and posed for a picture with Jeffery and I (see below...we're calling it "Two and a Half Atheists").

Afterwards, my son was very excited. "He recognized you Dad...he recognized you!!" (kids are funny). I'm probably not qualified to write a real review of Penn's book. But I can tell you that it is GREAT!! It's Penn doing what he does best...sharing his heart and thoughts in an honest way. He writes in an easy to read, conversational style. He tells amazing stories about some of his life experiences. In the stories he tells about his family, you can feel his love for them in every word. It made me laugh out loud (that has ONLY happened before while reading "Fletch" by Gregory McDonald and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson) and made me cry (which admittedly is easier than I am proud of). I've read many books about atheism. I love the books by Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc. They are wonderful to read and you should read them (well...if you're interested in atheism you should). But Penn's book is the only one that's moved me to tears AND laughter. It is full of "heart" and that is why it is my new favorite. But if you've read this post (and I assume you have...who skips to the end of my blog posts?), you are aware that I may be biased. He's a hero of mine. And now that I am attempting to write my own book on the topic, it has inspired me to be better. THANKS PENN!!


  1. He is seriously awesome and very funny. It’s great you got to meet him. I’m getting me a copy of that book. Cheers for the review!

  2. It was nice to meet him (again). Definitely pick up a copy of the book. You won't be sorry.

  3. Like you've said ... the book is awesome !!! ;c)

  4. Interesting article, this cautionary tale will be useful for many people. It shows what kind of person you need to be. As for the entertainment, I prefer it video poker online. Convenient and easy, and most importantly it helps to multiply your savings.