Friday, December 30, 2005

The Best Rejection Letter Ever

You may remember (probably not) this post, where I sent off a story to "the New Pantagruel". Well, one of the editors wrote me a long e-mail yesterday and said he had some suggestions for it (that it be longer and have a stronger ending) and that with those revisions he might like to publish it. Woo hoo! He also offered to spend some time talking about it with me ON THE PHONE! Can you believe that? Okay. As you can see I am pretty excited, so I have to calm down so I can seem cool and collected when we talk on the phone. Ha ha! Anyway, this is my first ever requested re-write from an editor. I wish you could see my doing my Happy Dance right now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Report from the winter conference

Hi ho, Kermit the frog here reporting from the Spokane winter conference.

Tonight was our first session (which means that yesterday was the interminable drive). We have Pastor Ronnie Stevens bringing the word, Aaron Spiro is taking us before the Lord in worship and Anneli Anderson is painting in the background while Ronnie teaches. Pretty cool.

Our theme is "shaken to the core" and we're looking each day at Isaiah 6. I was very pleased to be introduced to the fascinating science/art/pictures of Gary A. Glatzmaier, who has graciously given us permission to use his "photo" of the molten core of a gas giant (as soon as he figured out that we weren't trying to use it to advance intelligent design). This, of course, explains the mechanism that likely plays a major role in maintaining the banded zonal winds on the surfaces of Jupiter and Saturn.

There's about a thousand people here and I would say the vibe is very very good. Seems like the Lord is gearing up to really do something awe-inspiring here.

You can pray for me... on Saturday I'll be trying to help us focus on the "Sent" part of our week, introducing all of the missions opportunites for students within CCC. You can check out the recruiting website I'm working on, which should be mostly ready to go by Saturday.

Overall, having fun, seeing old friends, enjoying doing ministry together with my family. Pretty nice. And how's it going out there in cyberland?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

It starts so young

Me: Adios, muchacha.

Z: HA HA HA! You said "potty o's".

Me: No, I didn't.

Z: Potty-o's, Dad!

(much laughter from all creatures shorter than three feet)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Saint Tracker



For all you silly nonsensical people out there who believe that Saint Nicholas was just a regular Christian who did some good stuff once, now is your chance to be proven completely wrong... by SCIENCE!

That's right. Science now allows us to watch Santa's progress around the globe, and proves that he is the red-covered magical reindeer-driver we all have come to know from animated television specials.

3 Important lessons from "King Kong"

I saw Kong last night. Not bad. Here are three important life lessons you should walk away with after seeing the movie:

1) Do not live where dinosaurs live.

2) Do not go to places with names like "Skull Island." There is a reason they are named that. You don't want to go there.

3) If you are a woman and you happen, against all my advice, to go to a place called Skull Island where dinosaurs live then you should not spend any time relaxing in your cabin wearing only a slip and a flimsy robe. You should always be wearing a safari outfit with boots on, because it is highly likely that the natives will try to sacrifice you to something, or a monster will become obsessed with you or that enormous prehistoric insects or vampire bats will attack.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Greek Passion (it's a novel, silly)

I just finished reading The Greek Passion by Nikos Kazantzakis. I started it because I am planning to go to Greece this summer and thought, well, I should start to understand their mindset and culture by reading one of their novels. It was, honestly, a spectacular read. Here's a caveat before I go on to explain what I liked about the book: there is some pretty raw (though not explicit) sexuality in this book. It could (and probably will) bother you. It's mean to do that, it's not gratuitous, but it is potentially offensive. You are warned, friends.

Okay, scary warning out of the way, here's what I liked. This novel tells the story of a little Greek town under the Turkish occupation near the beginning of the 20th century. The town is planning for the passion play of the following year (a festival in which the entire week of Christ's passion is played out in real time by members of the village). They choose the players for Christ, the apostles and Judas and then the story begins as the members of the play begin to take on the characteristics of the people they are meant to portray in the passion play.

Here's what is amazing: this novel is really, truly, at-the-core about the Burning Hearts Revolution. Manolios, the shepherd chosen to play the role of Jesus becomes more and more Christ-like as the year advances and most of the action of the novel comes from this continuing transformation. We see people throughout the novel who are pagan (the Agha who rules the town), secularists having an outward form of Christianity (the village priest), some who are actually still worshipping Apollo and the Greek gods but using Christian names, and then those who, for the first time, are interacting with Christ and allowing him to transform them.

It's a fascinating story, and manages not to give all its surprises away until the last page. Nicely done, easy reading, at turns funny, moving and passionate.

As near as I can tell it's out of print. The link above will take you to Amazon where there's some used copies (as cheap as a dollar!). Let me know if you read it so I can call and just demolish you with questions about your thoughts on it.

Eavesdropping with Matt (episode two)

This installment of Eavesdropping With Matt is dedicated to the twenty-year old woman with the curly brown hair eating lunch at Burgerville today along with a couple of eight-year-olds who she apparently didn't know and her mom.

20yrold: --but I'm not going to do that because I am in college.

8yrold: What are you studying?

20yrold: English.

8yrold2: Are you going to be a teacher?

20yrold (offended): A professor!

8yrold: I don't like English.

8yrold2: I'm not very good at it.

20yrold (supposed future professor): Well, English isn't for everyone.

Silver Screen Celebration

Krista and I went to see "White Christmas" on the big screen last night at the historic Kiggins theatre in Vancouver. Looks like Kiggins was once on the cheap end of the beautiful old art deco theatres, and now it's the run down, shabby shell of its old self. But it's still more fun than a lot of the new multiplexes.

Seeing White Christmas on the big screen was a big treat! WC was the first movie filmed in Vista Vision and I was amazed at what a difference seeing it on the big screen made for this movie. It was funnier, more affective and generally more fun. I don't think I have ever seen it in widescreen before last night. Bing Crosby! Danny Kaye! Rosemary Clooney! Good stuff!

Special thanks to Mom for watching the kids and to Krista for being a good movie buddy, coming up with the idea and asking Mom to watch the kids. Special thanks to me for being a deep lover of movies and especially our old friend the holiday musical.

Survey results

Well, the results are in.

It appears, first of all, that you are completely torn on the monkey question. A full 31% of you said "AAAAH ANYTHING BUT MONKEYS!" and another 31% said that you wouldn't mind monkeys coming through your computer if they were teacup monkeys. Who knew everyone liked teacup monkeys? As a special bonus to my loyal readers I have included this bizarre article on monkeys controlling computers with their minds alone. And of course it's completely true.

As to how tough I am, the overwhelming response was that 41% of you feel that I am "tough like a teddy bear". OH YEAH? WHY I OUGHTTA... WELL... I OUGHT TO... UH... getting tired of yelling. Losing energy. Someone hold me! As a special bonus to my loyal readers I have included this bizarre article on teddy bears controlling computers with their minds alone. And of course it's completely true.

And when it comes to subscribing to this blog 62% of you would rather live in another country! I have a link for using your computer to control the minds of others and make them do whatever you want (live overseas, sign up for your blog). But to be honest it's just too creepy.

A lesson from my daughter

Okay, she's trying to choose between two "ballerina Barbies". One is a white Barbie with blonde hair and a blue ballerina outfit and the other is a black Barbie with black hair and a purple dress.

Me: Okay, Z, what color Barbie do you want?
Z: Purple!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

My longwinded Christmas devotional

You can find it here.

Evidence that sideburns are "in"





Here is the key fact you need to know in realizing that sideburns are in: I have grown some.

(NOTE: It might be important for you to realize what my definition of "in" entails. Here it is. "In": Whatever it is that Matt is currently doing. What he used to be doing is "retro" what he soon will be doing is "visionary.")

I have never had self esteem problems, as I have always been a part of the "in" crowd.

I have included a picture of Ambrose Burnside, the civil war general who gave us the name for those hairy fashion statements.

And just to show that Ambroses's fashion sense is not an historical fluke but a visionary act of genius, I have also included a picture of sumo wrestling sensation "tiny" Takanotsuru.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

You can make history right now!

Okay, everyone.... it's the first Burning Hearts Revolution Voting Day. On this day you get to answer such important questions as, "If internet technology allowed Matt to send monkeys through his computer and out his screen, how would you feel about that?" Just click on the icon below.

Note: This is for posterity, so please be honest as you vote.

Free Vote Caster from Bravenet.com

Snow!

It's snowing! As my eldest daughter, Z, says, "Now we can go skating on the pond!" And as the grinchy little voice in my head says, "Yes, but only if we had a pond."

Anyway, we've got about a quarter of an inch so far, which doesn't do much other than make our compost pile look pretty.

The photo above is the work of
Kenneth Libbrecht, who has a whole series of books and calendars and whatnot chock full of God's exquisite little sculptures. Neat!

Meanwhile, I am hoping enough piles up around here for me to take the kids sledding at the elementary school down the street!

The Mystery of Women


My youngest daughter ("A") turns three years old in nine days. And she can't get enough lip stick. About a week ago she told us that she had some lipstick upstairs, went up and grabbed it off the bathroom sink and has been applying it once or twice a day since then.

Me: Why do you need that stuff?
A: I just do.

Krista says that A told her "it keeps my lips moist."

Where do they learn this stuff?

Warning: Do not use her chapstick if she offers it because it is really destroyed and yucky.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

When the cat is away the mice cry like crazy for the old times

Krista's in Chicago with her mom. So you would think that the kids would try to get away with something and I would go rent some crazy action movies or depressing art films. But no, the kids are melted into puddles of weeping childhood telling me how mommy does everything better (rubbing legs, singing lullubies, generally being a good person). Meanwhile I am addressing Christmas cards to send to our supporters and watching... "Without a Paddle." Because my parents already own it, so it was free. And I haven't seen it. And I'm guessing you don't have to pay attention to it so I can keep addressing cards. I just laughed. That's a good sign.

why you have to love your kids

A (yelling from upstairs): Daddy! I had to use the potty!
Me (yelling from downstairs): Then use it honey.
A (sound is getting closer): I already went.
Me (moving toward stairs): Go get on the potty.
A (still getting closer): I already went poop.
Me (almost in view): *Sigh* Where did you go?
A: In my hand.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Run away! It's Love and it's on a rampage!

I've been thinking about the way our culture talks about "love". We "fall in love" as if love were some big inescapable pit. "See I was just walking along minding my own business when WHOA I fell in love." I guess we could have statements that start with, "Love is like a pothole...."

Also, I was interested to see that the advertising campaign for "Brokeback Mountain" (the story of two cowboys that pretty much without meaning it "fall in love" and then "have some sex") that they use the phrase "Love is a force of nature." Again we have this emphasis on something unavoidable, unstoppable and possibly unwanted.

Which of course brings us to the end of love. When we fall, we get up again. "Forces of nature" (yes, even hurricanes) abate in time. So love may pull our strings for a while but in time sanity returns and we have no obligation to keep going.

It seems like such a capricious force. "I never meant to cheat on my spouse, but, well, I fell in love with someone else." What a tremendous steaming pile of crap. Excuse me. Love made me say that.

And of course I have to believe that at some level what we are talking about is physical attraction. One of the reviewers of "Brokeback Mountain" referred to the human sex drive as one of the core motivators of human beings. Right. Maybe in a liscentious and hedonistic society that is incapable of teaching human beings to desire righteousness and self control. Oh, wait. I forgot I lived in America.

I'm not sure what we're talking about but it sure ain't love.

Some new suggestions:

"I got steamrolled by love"
"love knocked me out"
"love mugged me"
"love blinded me" (oops we already say that)
"love kicked me in the head" (I like that one)
"love bit me in the nose" (nice!)
"love gave me an excuse to have sex with whomever" (good one!)
"love casued me to be committed even though times were hard" (whaaaaaat?)
"Love taught me to be faithful to my spouse"

And so on.

What does this show us? Well. Maybe that too many of us have never been loved. Or loved someone else. That's just a guess. Add some sayings of your own!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Everywhere in the World I have ever been


Krista and I joined forces to list everywhere in the world we have ever been. It amounts to about 5% of the nations in the world. Hmmm. Have to work on that.

And now, I would like to point out to the Presidents (or whatever) of East Timor, Nigeria, Spain and Chile that I clearly had nothing to do with "that little issue" you mentioned to my lawyers.

Make your own, I don't care you big Copy Cat.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Meditation #1: Upon Taking Out the Garbage

My tradition is to take out the trash after LOST which means far too late, when I am tired. But tonight I feel good, am enjoying my wife and my life and my kids and as I walk back through the frozen grass of my back yard I happen to look up and see the stars in a clear, brisk sky and the moon spilling over onto everything and washing out all but the brightest and most beautiful stars and wanderers and a plane flew right through Orion and I imagine all the passengers covered in stardust and the earth and the houses and the plumes of my own breath and the crisp pinch of a million frosted fingers on my face and I think to myself what an amazing and wonderful place God has made and we haven't managed to completely mess it up yet I can still see him through the street lights and hear him over the whoosh of the late night, homeward bound cars. And after all that to curl up with my wife in a too-warm bed while my kids sleep in the next room, in a house just a bit too big for us. My God, how blessed we are!

Lower your expectations


I have a couple of friends who work "in the industry" and they saw "King Kong" this week. The basic feedback I'm hearing is that any frame that has an enormous gorilla in it is well done and satisfying, and every scene without an enormous gorilla is lame. Then again, I guess we could say that about most movies. Anyway, my friends say to lower your expectations so you can enjoy the movie.

An Open Letter to My Television


Dearest Television-- I remember in my youth what an essential part of my daily life you were... school days, weekends, early mornings, even in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep, you were always available for me.

Then I grew up and you seemed to lose some of your sparkle. And then I moved to Asia, and I remember losing any ability to understand you, though I loved it when you acted out sumo wrestling for me.

And lately I have found you an inconstant companion at best. It seems like you are always saying the same thing over and over. Locking you in the closet doesn't seem to make much difference.

To be honest, I find most of what you have to say insipid, boring, alarmist and laughable. But I'm still looking forward to seeing you tonight, dear friend. You are one of the few people I try to make time for every day. And even though "LOST" is a rerun tonight, I'm not sure I've seen it. I guess what I'm writing to say is, thank you. Thank you for being the kind of friend that requires minimum interaction (although I must admit I like yelling at you at all the time).

Most Sincerely,

Matt

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Key to Christmas

My Mom put some keys on her Christmas tree and sent the kids off to find them. When they brought them to her she said:

Mom: What's the "key" to Christmas?

Z: These keys from the tree!

Mom: I mean, what is the main reason for Christmas?

Z: Santa Claus!

Mom: No, I mean whose birthday is it?

A: Mine! (it's true... her birthday is the 27th)

Mom: Who else?

Z and A: Jesus!

A Four-year-old explains Santa to me

Taking Z and A home the other day we passed the local grade school, where Santa comes to visit every year. This is a high quality affair. They actually give gifts to all of the kids who come to see St. Nick. Here's the conversation that Z and I had about this:

Z: I was too afraid to talk to Santa Claus last year. I didn't know what to say to him.

Me: You could just tell him thank you for the gift.

Z: No, I mean I don't know what to say when he asks me if I've been good this year.

Me: Well, what do you think? Were you good this year?

Z: I don't know. Do you think I was good or bad?

Me: Well, you were good a lot of the time, but sometimes you were bad.

Z: I'll just tell him I was good all the time.

Me (laughing): That would be lying, though. That's not good.

Z: He's just pretend, Dad. He wouldn't know I was lying.

Me: I guess that's true.

Z: Only Mommys and Daddys know if you've been good or bad.

In which I predict the future

On March 13, 1:33 (PDT) Karen Hibberd will write me and say that she prefers journaling to blogging.

I guarantee it!

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'm FINE! Seriously.

I've noticed that a lot of people are asking me if I feel okay today. I have learned over the years that when this happens it is usually because I am being a big jerk and don't realize it. So, sorry everyone, especially to my wife and kids. I don't mean to be a jerk, I just do it naturally. Sorry, so sorry. I'll make an extra effort to be patient and nice and kind the rest of the day.

The jerkiness usually goes away tomorrow morning.

Let us create a bold new world without sharks

Two things you need to know before you read my brilliant idea below:

1) My wife is an actual, certifiable genius (in the sense of having an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, not in the sense of being either a tutelary deity nor in the sense of being "slightly smarter" than average people).

2) I have an actual phobia of sharks. Not a reasonable, "One should not swim with carnivores larger than you with many rows of sharp teeth" but a "I don't like to swim in swimming pools in the dark just in case a 15 foot long shark somehow got in here" and "I am a little nervous about posting pictures of sharks to my blog" full-fledged phobia.

MY IDEA: What if we lifted all the hunting restrictions against great white sharks and killed them all dead?

MY ONLY CONCERN: Would this create a huge imbalance in the ecosystem that would eventually cause the earth to spin out of orbit and into the sun?

MY THESIS: No, it wouldn't. We would be fine, in fact better without the nasty sharks everywhere. Yuck! I don't like them one bit.

MY RESEARCH: Krista's (my wife) thesis for college was called "Stability in a two-population predator-prey interaction". In this paper she proved mathematically (using chaos theory math and a whole bunch of other voodoo) that the introduction of a certain predator fish to this lake in Africa would inevitably result in the destruction of the native species (she was right). So I figured she could give some insight into this question of whether destroying every great white shark on earth would mean minor inconveniences or a happy happy place for all of us.

Krista falls into the "skeptical of the benefits of killing sharks" camp. She claims this would create a massive shift in the ocean's ecosystem (although she admits it would likely balance out eventually). Her argument is much too lengthy, intelligent and probably-right for me to include it here (it would undermine my own argument).

As a rebuttal to her arguments, which I will not include here, allow me to say: I bet there would be more dolphins and more fish we like to eat if we eliminated sharks.

As to her disturbing question, "Don't you think God made sharks for a reason?" allow me to answer, "Yes, as a punishment for eating from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil."

CONCLUSION: I know you agree with me. Look, for instance, at the following pictures. One is the ocean with sharks, one is the ocean without sharks. One is a picture of the tooth of a significantly-larger-than-a-great-white megalodon, all of which are extinct and I think we are doing just fine without them. Okay, to be honest I chickened out. I am not putting even a picture of those things on my blog. But you know what they look like.

Christmas list addition: harpoon gun.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

East Asia-- Why We Should All Move There Now



Guess how much this whole meal cost? I do not want to make you cry so I won't tell you. Start in the lower left where we have a lovely Fish Dish... yum... followed clockwise by shrimp, roast duck, some sort of soup, this great corn dish-thingy, rice, something-I-don't-know-what-it-is-but-good, the best tofu ever, then on the inside we have sweet and sour pork and broccoli. Man. I am hungry.

The Exploding Whale

I don't know if you've heard about the exploding whale, or read the transcript of this (true) story, but now you can see the spectacular event for yourself in glorious technicolor.

Mikalatos Christmas Tradition

Every year Krista, the girls and I read this book every day. You open a new door every day and inside is a picture from the Christmas story along with a few Bible verses from the gospels. The art is beautiful, and the overall effect is wonderful. The kids love opening the doors and looking at the pictures. This morning we all piled onto the couch and read it together. It's nice.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Yes, you are officially bored now

If you find yourself spending a lot of time here, you are probably pretty bored. Or, you know, you just love bubble wrap.

Beauty and the Beast... ON ICE!

My parents took my kids to a castle last night where some local high schoolers dress up as characters from "Beauty and the Beast" (Disney edition) and take pictures with them and so on. Here are photos of my youngest getting up the guts to take a picture with Beast (Beauty had to encourage her that it was safe) and then a picture of what was repeatedly described to me by the children today... "Then we found some ice!" They love ice.

I told them before they left not to be afraid of the Beast, that he was only pretend. Z said, "I KNOW he is only pretend." A said, "First he was the beast but then he turned into... something ELSE! Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!" I am not sure what that means but it is apparently very funny.

(Note: as I look at the Beast more closely I think I might have been afraid, too. He looks like an enormous dust mite with a blue jacket.)

Every day since coming home from Asia this happens

Q: Why am I so tired?

(I think about this for about ten seconds).

A: Oh yeah, jet lag.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ammendment to the Things I Would Do If I Ruled Christmas


You may have noticed that I recently disparaged Michael Crawford's Christmas album. Well, as it turns out my wonderful Mother-in-law (Hi, Janet!) noticed, and also noticed that she gave us this self-same album. This could create a whole 'nother series of postings about knowing who is reading your blog. Anyway, so, here's my explanation on Crawford's Christmas. You see, Crawford is also the "original" Phantom of the Opera. That is, the original Broadway phantom. The original screen phantom was Lon Chaney. So, the problem is, every time I hear Michael Crawford's voice I see the Phantom very clearly in my mind. So when he is singing "Jingle Bells" I see a man with a disfigured face and a cape dashing through the snow. I have posted a picture of the respectable Mr. Crawford looking his Christmas best, and then a picture of what is happening in my head when I am listening to this album. So, I guess if I ruled Christmas I would still allow this album, but not in my Christmas Court. So listen away, lovers of Crawford Christmas!

Welcome Home


As you can see I made it home from Asia today. The trip was good, and while I didn't see everyone I hoped to see, I saw many of them. Here is what was waiting for me when I got home. My kids made "welcome home" cards. It makes me wonder what the dads who never come home are thinking.

The Smuggler

Station One (the East Asia airport): Do you have any food items in your bag, sir?
Me: Nope.

Station Two (upon entry to Japan): Do you have any food items that you need to declare, sir?
Me: No, I do not.

Station three (at the US entry): Do you have any food items to declare, sir?
Me: No.
Station three: Step aside to the agriculture and food declaration line.
Me: Okay.

Station Four (the Agricultre import lane)
Aggie: Do you have any plants, fruit, vegetables, meat products or food?
Me: No.
Aggie: Are you sure?
Me: Yes.
Aggie: You don't have any plants?
Me: No.
Aggie: Fruit?
Me: No.
Aggie: Vegetables?
Me: No.
Aggie: You don't have any food?
Me: No.
Aggie: Are you sure you don't have any food at all?
Me: I guess I have one granola bar.
Aggie: Granola bars are fine. Put your bag through the X-ray machine.

Station Five (unpacking)

Me: Hey! Look, a big pack of walnuts! I forgot about these.

A Comedy of Errors

On behalf of my friend Kelley I carried back some small gift items from Asia. I didn't look in the box she gave me, so I was surprised to find that my bag had been pulled off of the conveyor belt and I was ushered into an "examination room". I was told I could not have my boarding pass until there was "resolution" about my bag. Yikes.

The quite lovely TSA lady pointed to the X-ray screen (you know, the one you always look at as you walk through security and wonder how they can tell what anything is), pointed at a long, skinny object and asked, "What is that?"

Me: I don't know.

She: You will have to open the bag, sir.

Me: My friend is sending back gifts to America. I'm not sure what it is.

(I suddenly realize this sounds ridiculous... in this age, not to know what you are carrying for a friend onto an airplane! I see that I am in trouble. She points to the large, sealed cardboard box in my bag. I pull it out and she slits it open and starts unloading the contents... I am curious, too, to discover what this oblong and potentially dangerous object is and start digging through. I find... some chopsticks?)

Me: Is it these?

She (looking at the screen): I am not sure. Are they metal or wood?

Me: I don't know.

(At this point we both bend simultaneously over the bag and knock our heads together.)

She (rubbing her forehead): Okay. Pack it up again.

Me (rubbing my forehead): Is that what it was? The chopsticks.

(She shrugs. Me, too. I go to get my boarding pass.)

Eavesdropping With Matt (Episode One)

Dedicated to the rather large elderly man with the cartoon-hound-dog voice and the red-rimmed eyes on the trans-Pacific flight from Asia to America.

Comment #1 (to the TSA personell at the airport): Why aren't you stopping anyone else? This is totally inappropriate. I am going to write a letter to your airline and get you fired. Why aren't you stopping anyone else? This is the last time I am flying your airline.

TSA officer: (Stony silence as she goes about the grim work of patting him down)

Comment #2 (to the flight attendant; our eavesdroppee sits two rows behind me. I can hear him as well as smell the very powerful medicinal odor of something... I think a throat lozenge): You mut have some room in business class because I am going to get very uncomfortable in these here chairs. They are too small. And I'm going to write a letter about that security woman and get her fired.

Flight attendant: (good-natured laughter)

Comment #2 (cont.): No, I'm serious. Now see what you can do about this here chair.

Comment #3 (to the flight attendant as he is leaving the plane): Jesus loves you, and have a Merry Christmas.

Eavesdropping With Matt (prologue)

I am a notorious eavesdropper. Oddly enough, I find eavesdropping on my friends and family to be both boring and morally sketchy, so I don't do that. But eavesdropping on strangers is endlessly fascinating sport. In fact, there have been times when I've found myself tuning more into a nearby conversation at a restaurant than to my companions. I think I like that I get to create my own story built around a few moments of dialogue.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy as I pull the sparkling jewels out of their common settings and place them here upon the velvety backdrop of my blog, where you can see them shimmer and twinkle without all the distractions of everyday life.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Busy day

I'm in my "home town" in Asia today. It's going to be cool! Not muhc has changed beyondthe normal things that change... the little shops that rotate through business without a pause. Other than that the city is its same beautiful strange wonderful dirty noisy happy sunny place.

Katie

You may recall my prayer request a couple of days ago. Here's the story. One of our staff women passed away this week. They haven't done an autopsy, but it appears there may have been an undiagnosed disease in an advanced state. Please be praying for her friends, family, and staff on her team (U of Montana). She was in Croatia visiting some of our stinters when it happened. Here's her picture. As you can imagine this bring up so many questions, as death and suffering always do. I told the Croatia team that I feel like all I can do in this sort of situation is follow the example of Job in the Bible... to sit down in the ashes and wait for the Lord.

Favorite Quote of the Week

"If you save everything to the last minute... it only takes a minute."

My cell phone

I am still in Asia. I turned on my American phone today and it says that it has a full signal but it is "roaming." Yeah, I guess so! I am tempted to talk on it for a minute just to see what kind of charges I would get.

A Special Coded Message About How I Am Doing for All of You Who Can Read Pinyin

La Duzi!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Two Cities

I went to the opening of a cool new art gallery in this unnamed country tonight.  It's called the "Two Cities" gallery (taken, I think, from Augustine's "City of God" where there are two competing cities, the City of God and the City of Man).  I've seen a lot of good friends and been able to play Santa while I deliver lovely treats to all the good girls and boys in this city.  And, so far, I haven't eaten as much Asian food as I would like to (unless one counts the Asian version of pizza).  Ha ha!

Pray for our friends

Hey-- I don't want to give details yet, but could you please be praying for my friends in Croatia?  It includes a bunch of people there on "stint" (a one-year mission) and also some people who are visiting them.  I'll give details in a week or so, but feel it needs to stay private for now.  It's an urgent request.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Have gun, will travel


Nope. I'm not allowed to take guns when I travel. Today was a great travel day, though.

I somehow was able to print out a boarding pass on-line (which Northwest Air later assured me was impossible). I joked that maybe it was because I was a "VIP" and apparently they thought that might be the case because they didn't charge me for excess baggage. My flight left early, I had a choice of 30 movies (only one or two good ones of course), they moved me to a seat with no one next to me so I could stretch out, I got fed dinner, breakfast and dinner again, stretched my legs in Tokyo and then here I am... and with all my bags.

So. I'm here. Now for the marathon of meeting with people!

p.s. I didn't try it, but in Japan I saw a brand of water called "Pocari Sweat." Mmmmmm.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Things I Would Do If I Ruled Christmas

Okay.

I would do away with several Christmas albums.

Also. Trump would not be allowed to say "frickin'" during a kid's Christmas song (as he did on Letterman last night). In fact, he would not be allowed to sing Christmas songs except: 1) in the privacy of his own Tower 2) at church 3) while Christmas caroling.

I know, I am a harsh master. But I still hope you will vote for me to be in charge of Christmas next year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Prayer Request

Hey friends-- if you could be praying for Krista's dad, he just had a heart attack last night. He's fine, but they're going to keep him in the hospital for a couple of days. As you can imagine, it puts everything in life into a bit of a spin. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

My Kids Discuss The Resurrection

While playing "My Little Ponies":

A: Huh. One of my ponies died.

Z: You just need to pray to Jesus and he will bring it back to life.

A: Oh.

Z: Just pray to Jesus.

A: Dear Jesus, help my pony come to life. Amen.

Z: Tomorrow your pony will be alive again.

(The pony gets up and starts running around.)

Z: Sometimes they come to life right after you pray.

If I ruled Christmas

No one over the age of, say, eight years old would be allowed to sing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." It makes the song too weird and creepy to have 30 and 40 year olds singing it.

Hooray!

My passport (complete with visa) is on its way via FedEx and should arrive this morning! For real-time fun you can track its progress here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Taking your lost friends to Narnia


Here is a website that gives you links and ideas for how to use the upcoming Narnia film to share Christ with your friends, neighbors or small groups. You're going to go through the wardrobe anyway, you ought to take some friends.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Free Switchfoot Songs! (!)

Hey, here's some free Switchfoot songs... I haven't listened to them yet, they are dowloading right now. That is what a good friend I am... I give you the link before I have even listened to the songs myself.

UPDATE: Okay. Now I have partaken of the complimentary music. Here's what you are getting... basically a surfer jam session with some guys who can actually play. It's nice. I like the second and fourth tracks best. I know, I know, you really prefer the first and third tracks. Whatever, dude.

Spanish for Beginners

I heard my two-year-old singing "Fleece knobby dog" to the tune of "felice navidad" today. Pretty good if you ask me.

That's a Good Question

Tonight my eldest daughter said, "When I am seven years old, I will be big... all the way up to the sky."

Me: "That's pretty big."

Her: "What do you think people will say when I step on their cars?"

O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree



Today was Go Buy A Christmas Tree Day so Krista, the kids, my parents and I all heaped into a couple vehicles and headed for the tree lot.

An eight-year-old kid greeted us and let us know that we should be sure not to pet the pony as it had recently bitten a girl. Apparently I did not look horrified enough because he followed this comment up with, "She bled a lot." as well as, "Would you like some candy canes?" We took two.

As you can see, I encourage the children to hold saws while cutting down trees.

Then we've been home most of the day getting all Christmasy, listening to Christmas music and so on. It's nice. This is my favorite time of year. I like the music. I like the decorations. I like the reason we are celebrating. And to be honest I am really okay with the fact that the celebrating starts on October 15 and goes through Dec 25, midnight. In fact, it is my intention to celebrate Christmas until December 31 this year. So there!

A last thought: I was on my roof tonight putting up lights. It really could have been a last thought, actually, as I am a little clumsy (I dropped three Christmas light bulbs onto the driveway in the course of about six minutes). Anyway, I put up this little light-up angel in the window of our laundry room and even though it's half burnt out and sort of pitiful it reminded me of the fact that the angels came to proclaim the birth of the savior. It does my heart good to see something meant to represent them up on my house.

Happy Holiday to you, too, Buster.

I told Krista today that I plan to say "Merry Christmas" to anyone who says "Happy Holidays" to me this year.

She said that this was a good, friendly way to show my contempt for the term "Happy Holidays."

"Oh," I said, a little disappointed.

So now I've decided to punch people in the nose when they say "Happy Holidays" to me. Then I'll help them up and say, "Merry Christmas."

Yes, yes, I know. Leave me alone.



First, let me say that it is a holiday tradition for me to go to a movie for Thanksgiving Weekend. So don't come down on me for that!

Gentlemen, here is a guide to How To Enjoy "Pride and Prejudice" (disclaimer: this only counts for the current production):

1) Begin by getting a woman to agree that she will take you to "King Kong" if you will take her to "Pride and Prejudice." Krista claims she never agreed to this, but we will see what she says when she is watching King Kong savagely attacking a tyrannosaurus rex.

2) The acting is actually quite good.

3) If possible, get some Chinese people to sit behind you. We had three of them right behind us and it brought this really funny aspect to the movie. Of course they see no reason to keep quiet during the film since they don't really understand what is happening, and they prattled on happily in Mandarin pretty much the whole time. My favorite moment: they show the main character writing a note and the guy behind us says (really loud) in Chinese: A QUILL! SHE'S WRITING WITH A QUILL! Ha ha ha.

4) You get major points with your significant other. Or, with your potential significant other. Going to this movie shows that you are truly a sensitive, deep, soul-searching individual and not a proud, unflinching, heartless fiend. Do not be surprised if your girlfriend throws herself at your feet after this movie and cries out, "I have misjudged you, sir! Misjudged you terribly!"

5) Listen, because this is true: You will get the same amount of points for watching this (the two hour version) as you would for watching the six-hour version on television. Think about it.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Worth a Look

Let me just start by saying I'm not a friend of the Clancyesque political techno-thriller. I'm not a bitter enemy, either, just a deeply uncaring passerby.

I met Joel Rosenberg this summer and was pretty impressed with the things that he had to say about how he writes and why. His entire goal is to share the gospel with people, and he presents it in an entertaining (NY Times Bestselling) sort of way.

Here's my take. Like I said, I am not a fan of the genre. But by the end of this novel I was deeply moved by Joel Rosenberg's committment to share the gospel and the relevant way in which he did it. If you or a friend like Clancy, you'll like this book. It's a great gift for friends who aren't Christians, too. It's not in-your-face at all. It's a lot of fun.

Melts in Your Mouth, Not On Your Head


Note to Self: Watching the Thanksgiving Parade is much more exciting in person.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving


To all my international friends: I know how hard it can be to find a turkey overseas. Feel free to use this photo in one of two ways: 1) To lose your appetite for turkey or 2) Print and eat!

Take On Me

That's right, friends. It's time for you to try your skill and knowledge against me in a head-to-head battle for gameboard dominance. Chess, checkers, battleship, whatever. But I warn you that I will SHOW NO MERCY!

My screename is St.Matt (it's case sensitive). So sign up and then challenge me... if you dare!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My Latest Rejection

Dear Matt,

We have all read, reviewed, and discussed your submission, The Hooded One, and we have decided to pass on the story.

Although the story offers some creepy and interesting moments, we feel the story needs more clarity. Some of the imagery seemed off to us.

We do thank you for considering AlienSkin Magazine for publication, and for allowing us the opportunity to read your work.

Do try us again.

Sincerely,
Katherine A. Patterson
Senior Editor
She's editor of a sci-fi mag called "Alien Skin"

Monday, November 21, 2005

World's Largest Fish-Rodent



Capybaras are huge rodents (can be up to 130 pounds) living in South America and are considered by Venezuelans a delicacy to be eaten and enjoyed (so they say). I've sent an e-mail to some friends in Venezuela to find out if this is true. Another interesting fact is that the pope (years and years ago) declared the capybara a fish so that Venezuelans could still enjoy this Rodent Of Unusual Size during lent.

Zanahorias!


Mmmmm! You just learned some Spanish! And it's good for your eyesight!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Two Movies I Can Recommend Without Seeing


I almost cried when I saw the newest Narnia trailer. It is that cool. Seriously, this looks like a great movie. I am trying to keep my expectations down so I am not disappointed. Of course the best thing is that there could be six sequels if this is well received.

And then there is KING KONG! My friend Sam is working on this film. He is probably the crankiest film critic of all time and he says it is going to be awesome. The trailers tell the same story. Directed by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) and starring Jack Black and Naomi Watts, it brings up an important question: Do we really need to see an enormous gorilla fight a lot of dinosaurs? Yes, we do! Of course we do!

Bleh.

Okay. All I have to say is that I would rather watch Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. At least we got the rental for free since it was out of stock the first time I tried to rent it.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


Our multi-million dollar realtor threw a big thank-you shin dig for all of his clients, and the core of the party was a showing of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” the day before it opened. The event itself was awesome… he gave us free popcorn, cookies, beverages and even those Harry Potter “every flavor beans”. There was even a really mediocre magician to attempt to entertain us with card tricks before the show.

As to the movie, let me just start out by saying that I’m not going to comment on the whole “Harry Potter: Good or Evil” debate in the Christian community. My guess is you’ve already made up your mind on that and don’t really care what I have to say about it. I will say that I thought the first couple of books were pretty good and the first couple of movies were pretty lousy, but that’s purely from an entertainment value perspective.

This movie is the best of the Harry Potter movies by far. I went in not caring if I saw it (in fact, was kind of bummed out that the free movie was one I didn’t care about seeing) but came out entertained. Mad-Eye Moody was funny and fun, worth a movie of his own. It was an enjoyable time. It ain’t for kids, though… it’s pretty scary, has some intense violence and cartoony evil magic. The scene where Harry has to fight a dragon was actually pretty cool. And they did a good job capturing the life and emotions of a young teenager (you know, if they were at magic school).

All that to say, if you’re a Potter fan, you’re going to enjoy the movie. If you’re where I was (low expectations and ambivalent about Potter) then you’ll probably like it, too. On the other hand, if you only have one fantasy-movie in you a year, you’re going to want to go to this one instead. I told Krista I’d rather watch the trailer to Narnia again than watch the Harry Potter movie again.

The best thing about the movie, though? Walking out of the theater to see the long line of kids waiting for the "first showing" at midnight. Ha ha ha! Take that, ya Harry Potter freaks!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sharing with Mormons

Okay. I have a lot of thoughts to share about my day with our LDS friends, but I am still processing. Suffice it to say that it is quite possibly the most significant thing I have done ministry-wise in the last few months. I'll put my thoughts on this up in the next few days.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hooray for nice editors

The short story editor at the New Pantagruel sent me a personal e-mail in response to a story I submitted to him a few days ago. He hasn't even read the story yet but he wrote:

"Dear Mr. Mikalatos, Thanks very much for your submission. I, too, lived in (East Asia) for a while, and still haven't gotten around to writing that (East Asia) story. I did feel that I needed more than a year to get the feel for it though. So I very much look forward to reading your story. We'll get back to you in the (Western) New Year.

Grace and peace,

Ryan McDermott
Arts Editor"

I guess he wants to make sure that I keep submitting stories forever until he kindly publishes one. What a nice guy.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Shopgirl


Somehow last Saturday night we ended up without the kids (Krista's mom took them) and with forty bucks (donated by my parents). Krista and I had a great night out. We started with dinner at the AMAZING Jerusalem Cafe. I highly recommend starting all your evenings there if you are able. Then we bought some snacks at a soulless chain grocery store and headed off to see "Shopgirl", the new Steve Martin film.

I love Steve Martin. And the movie was well done. But I can't really recommend it. It had its funny moments but mostly it was the story of a lot of lonely people having lonely sex (no surprise to those of us who have read the novella).

I will say this, though. I can't shake this one image in the film that shows the main character (Mirabelle) lying in her bed looking up through her skylight, straight at the audience. The narrator says something to the effect of, "What she really needed was an omniscient voice to tell everyone that she was there and that she was valuable, this girl, this one right here, the one that works at Saks in the glove department" and as he speaks the camera pans back and we see that all the houses have skylights and it pans back farther and we see that the skylights are actually the stars in the sky. That picture--every star representing a lonely, detached person in Los Angeles--I can't shake it. It makes me melancholy. It makes me sad for all those poor lost souls out there who don't know the Creator and really honestly have no idea how to find peace, completion, rest, companionship.

Salt Lake City

I'm in Salt Lake City. Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'm going out with some of my compadres to share Christ with students on the local college campuses. If anyone is out there in cyberspace, pray for our time that the Lord will draw people to himself. As for me, I would like to see a mormon come to Christ! That would be cool.

Yoinks!

So I'm going to East Asia on December 2nd. I took out my passport to get the visa process started and realized that MY PASSPORT HAS EXPIRED. Now I have two weeks to get my visa and my passport, which is going to be a little bit tight! I'll have to pray for GOD SPEED! Zoom!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

GRRRRR!

You know what I hate? I hate calling automated machines that make me talk out loud to them. You know, like for the airlines. "Do you want to make a reservation, talk to an associate or buy an upgrade? Just say, 'reservation, associate or upgrade.'" Then they apologize if they can't hear you. And they go bats if your kids are yelling in the background and there's no option for just pressing numbers or talking to a real live human being! Argh! I just want to make my own robot to talk to them and do my bidding. Or maybe I'm just cranky today. Or both.

hen hao de dian ying! (A very good movie)


Krista, Dad and I watched "the Interpreter" tonight. Nicole Kidman, an interpreter for the UN, overhears an assassination plot. Sean Penn gets called in to protect the target as well as figure out if Kidman is nuts or on to something. Along the way the movie deals with themes of loss, grieving, genocide, revenge, love, heroism and how to transform our culture into something human... and does it all subtly, without getting preachy and while entertaining at the same time. Overall, I liked it quite a lot. It's rated PG-13 and passed the "three viewers" test: I liked it (which is pretty hard for a formula-plot film), Krista liked it (which is pretty hard for a thriller) and Dad liked it (which is pretty good for a movie that goes a little over two hours late at night). Three thumbs up from us.

Friday, November 11, 2005

My daughter

Yesterday was "Grandparents Day" at my daughter's preschool. It was her first up front, onstage song. The MC was terrible, the kids barely knew the song, my kid coughed through half the chorus the second time through and it was all unbearably beautiful and moving. She sang, along with her class, "the Doxology." She and I will be working on Latin chants now, I guess. But seriously, it is amazing how seeing my daughter up on stage makes me all weepy and sentimental. Posted by Picasa

I hope never to hear these words....

I'm reading Isaiah right now. In chapter 3 the Lord takes his place to judge the elders and leaders of the people and he says,

"The plunder from the poor is in your houses.
What do you mean by crushing my people
and grinding the faces of the poor?"

I don't want the Lord Almighty ever to say anything like that to me, but I wonder if he wouldn't have harder words for our country, our elders and leaders and us. I hope to claim some hope from the promise, "Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds." Lord Jesus, make me righteous!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Oh deer

In other news, a man in California has been hit by a deer.

Shut up and Dance!

As a service to our readers, this post will be a break from Mikalatos' meanderings. Instead we will encourage you to go listen to some weird, good, multi-lingual music.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

If I were on "Lost"

If I were on "Lost" there are a few things that I think would bother me. Of course it would be terrible to live in constant terror and so on. As I think it through, though, one of the most disturbing things about being a castaway would be... what are they using to brush their teeth? I mean, they kiss each other often enough. I suppose they had to go through the wreckage and find bags that had toothpaste and toothbrushes in them. But that means they are using some stranger's toothbrush. Possibly a dead stranger. I don't think I would enjoy that very much.

I think I prefer a world in which there are plenty of toothbrushes for all of us. A world in which we have enough toothbrushes to do more than just care for our teeth.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Two Things I Learned About Me Today

Number One, I don't like to be caught in a traffic jam that causes me to be stuck on a bridge. Not that I like traffic jams normally. But I really dislike being suspended over the water and not moving toward the other side. Why? I don't know. Maybe I am afraid a giant octopus will rise up from the briny depths and drag the whole thing into the ocean (Note: I prefer octopi to squid, which are creepier because they have beaks and also two extra arms. Also, the bridge is suspended over a river but not like that matters.)

Number Two, if the choice comes down to stale, soft tortilla chips or no tortilla chips at all, I will choose the stale ones. Now that's good to know.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Discovery of the "oldest church building" in Israel

Click here for the full story.

I think it's particularly interesting that the cross wasn't used as a symbol of Christianity until the fourth century. I guess we should see fish in places other than the bumpers of our cars.

Also, if you're the sort of nutty impolite person that doesn't know why we call comments on a blog "threads" (i.e. that the comments have something to do with the original post) I wonder if you might take a moment to leave a completely unrelated message about your own internet sales site. Thanks!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Why My Daughter Loves Me

"I like you, Daddy, because you keep me from being eaten by wolves."

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Lively Use of Metaphor

Here's a thought from Bill Taylor of the Atlantic Salmon Federation:

"Wild Salmon are the canaries in the coal mines of our own world."

Good metaphor, Bill! I can practically see the miners, coal on their faces, little lights on their helmets and in their hands little canary cages with, um, salmon in them. Those salmon aren't looking so good. Quick! Everyone out of the mine!

My Daughter, the Writer

My eldest daughter (age 4) made up some super-heroes for a story this morning. Their names: X-Ray Woman and Tree Woman.

Perhaps even better than this is the name of the super-villain she created: Crocodile Calculator Black Lightning. Somehow I am rooting for him to make it to the big time.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mall Security Guards

Okay, here's a weird thought: How is our culture reflected by the fact of Mall Security? What does this say about us? First of all, I suppose it tells us something about the rampant materialism of our culture, the fact that we have acres and acres of land set aside to sell "stuff." Then we add many more acres to park our cars. Then we have to hire people to protect the things in the stores from being stolen (driving the cost of the malls, the stores and the products up). The actual police have more important things to do, I suppose, so we hire non-police to dress up like police, catch the shoplifters and then call the real police. I'll tell you this much, the message of mall security guards is NOT "man is basically good."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Thanks

Thanks for entering the BHR free book giveaway.  Remember to comment, tweet and blog your way to more entries!

And that is all.

Sincerely,

The Management

We now return you to our regularly scheduled show already in progress.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Steinbeck

C'mon people. You don't need a link for Steinbeck. Get serious!