Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tr2n Tron 2

Since Tron came up in the Mikalatos household today, someone mentioned that I should look up the Tron 2 trailer, which debuted at the San Diego Comicon and was subsequently bootlegged by some intrepid fanboy in the audience. Anyway, for all you geeks who spent your childhood wishing you could be sucked into a computer so you could battle the MCP, enjoy the clip below:

Emergent

I hear people saying a lot of extreme things about the Emergent church. It's from the devil. It's the true church come to eradicate all that is wrong with the American church.

And, as is often the case, this sort of binary thinking isn't useful. It's like our evangelical community has been reduced to playing the part of "Bit" from Tron:



Any excuse for a Tron reference, I guess.

A lot of the people who have trouble with the emergent church actually have issues with the theology of specific individuals in the movement. This is a valid point... but expanding that point to include anyone who goes to a church that falls under the umbrella of "emergent" is a mistake. For the record, I have concerns about these things, too. Gerry Breshears included this link to a recent Doug Pagitt interview in which Pagitt is unable to definitively state whether he believes in Hell or not. At this point my issue with Pagitt transcends emergence/non-emergence and becomes one of heresy. I don't use the word lightly.

So that's one side of the story, right? And if that were representative of all Emergent churches, we could end the conversation right there. But it's not. On the flip side, I went to Imago Dei this week because some friends of ours were singing in the service (I looked for you, Chris... where were you? I wanted to surprise you!). And the pastor, Rick McKinley, spoke about Christ, the wisdom and power of God. It's a great sermon in which he effectively points out that yes, sometimes the gospel is offensive. And that's not a bad thing, and it should not discourage us from sharing it boldly and without apology. And some would consider Imago Dei an emergent church, too.

P.S. Part of the issue, obviously, is that the definition of what "emergent" isn't widely agreed on. People make comments that would be ridiculous in one definition and reasonable in another. It would help if there were definitional precision on that question.

P.P.S. "Bit" was the first completely computer generated character in a movie. Neat!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A great activity tonight for my Seattle friends

Hey, if you're in Seattle tonight at 6 p.m., here's your chance to go see The Autumn Film during happy hour at the High Dive.

I highly recommend that you go. And afterwards, when you are talking to the band, be sure to tell them, "Mikalatos sent me!" You will get a prize.

If you're not in Seattle tonight, you can download some free tunes from the The Autumn Film here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I didn't notice McCain or Obama mentioning this

Common sense dictates that in a debate one should mention the trebuchet, the atomic bomb of the middle ages.

As you know, one of my own campaign promises is that we will use this marvelous tool to hurl those who annoy us far into the air and away from us. I wanted to show you how serious I am about this promise, but since the United States is such a litigious society I had to have my supporters in Japan set up a secret trebuchet experimentation post in Britain. Here is an example of what you can expect in the near future if you elect me King:



Nets optional, of course!

A joke from A

Q: What did one hobbit say to the other hobbit?

A: Take me into your stinky lagoon. Stinky.

My Own Worst Enemy

For several days I've had a new night guard. I don't like it very much, but it's important to wear it.

The problem is that while I'm sleeping I take it out and put it away. Without waking up.

This has happened twice now. The first time I actually put it away in the case. Last night I kept waking up and looking for it, but I couldn't find it. I finally found it after I got up this morning, randomly placed on the bed. It was like sleeping with a pair of teeth wandering the bed.

I've tried to talk to myself about this, but the conversation is difficult.

Awake Matt: Sleeping Matt, you have to stop taking our night guard out. I will do that when we wake up.

Sleeping Matt: Zzzzzzzzz.

AM: Don't give me back talk. You need to agree to this.

SM: Zzzzzzz. Snort.

AM: If you don't listen to me I'm going to have to wake you up.

SM: Zzzzzzz? Muhnuh grabble zif. Zzzzzzzz.

AM: Wake up. HEY! WAKE UP!

AM: Oh. Um. Now you're awake. Which means you're Awake Matt instead of Sleeping Matt. So... don't take that night guard out anymore. Okay, I won't. I mean, I'll try. Oh brother.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's about time that a blog called "revolution" discusses politics

Yes, I know. You have all been waiting with baited breath for me to make a political endorsement. It would seem that since my poetry contest dealt a crippling blow to the McCain campaign that perhaps I would be against him. Then again, the complete lack of mentioning Obama could be the sign of a deep-seated feeling of hating all he stands for. Hope. Change. Feh! I hope we never change.

Just kidding.

No, one thing you can count on here at BHR is fair, balanced reporting where we never make a mention on how you vote in Presidential elections, unless someone we know happens to be running.

I did notice yesterday, however, a brewing brouhaha related to pastors endorsing political candidates. I know what you are thinking: "Did Mikalatos really write the words 'brewing brouhaha'?" Yes, I did. Now I need you to focus so we can move on. First, as you know, it's illegal for pastors to make political endorsements from the pulpit. It's a separation of church and state thing. We don't want pastors, you know, using their influence in political campaigns. If they do something like this, the IRS will remove their tax-exempt status. Some pastors yesterday said things like, "This is more important to me than money. Besides I can get our tax-exempt status back easily." Anyway, some pastors are planning a big "preaching rally" where they will get together and "name names" politically... so that the IRS will revoke their exempt status... so that they can sue the IRS... so that the IRS policy on this issue will come to court and be challenged as unconstitutional.

Now. I will just say, first of all, that my preference is that pastors talk about Jesus. The idea of a rally designed to talk about politics with the intention of suing the government is ludicrous. Pastors have better things to do. And yes, I know that Jesus cared about politics a lot, and as I recall his big point was, Pay your taxes.

But actually, here would be my preference. Instead of giving pastors a chance to publicly declare their political allegiance, what if we took that right away from other people? This would be awesome. I am sick of hearing everyone else's opinion on who I should vote for.

I believe we should start with entertainers. I love it (for those of you lacking sarcasm sensors allow me to say **SARCASM OFF THE PORT BOW! MAN THE HARPOONS!**) when an actor stands up and says something like, "You know me from such box office hits as 'Phishing Protection' and 'The Zebra Connection.' Because of my professional ability to pretend to be other people you should vote for my favorite candidate."

You are thinking, "That law is unenforceable." No, no, no. The IRS made a law to enforce it against pastors. Just do the same thing for actors. It would be something like, for every time an actor publicly says which candidate you should vote for, the IRS will take all their wages from their next film. This would then be distributed to the people of America for having to listen to the Hollywood endorsements.

Next, we could make a law where politicians are only allowed to say things that are meaningful and specific. We could create some news shows that do something more than partisan sniping and sound bites. We could reform the senate and the congress. We could build an enormous trebuchet from which to launch people who annoy us.

The easiest way for all these things to happen, of course, would be if I was in charge. So I am asking all of you to vote for me as King of the World. I don't want to do it, but if you all voted for it I promise I would do it well. The unique programs and ideas that I would bring to the world stage would literally change the world. First, we would change the name of the world to Fun Land to increase the intergalactic tourist traffic. Then we would make the internet available for free to everyone. Then we would make it mandatory that every bowl in the world receive three scoops of ice cream. This, my friends, would be only the beginning. And don't forget the Giant Annoying Person Trebuchet Launcher. We could launch other things, too, on festival days.

Now please excuse me. I need to descend to my secret throne room from which I manipulate world events.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You Can't Help But Feel Good When This Happens

I ran out of gas today. I know, you are thinking, "What is so good about that?"

I knew I might run out. The "empty" light had come on a long time ago. But I kept thinking, "Now is not a good time to stop for gas" and "It is too expensive at this location." So I drove some more.

Eventually, the engine stopped running and the car coasted along for a moment. "Oh no!" I cried. I would have said, "I can't believe this" but in fact I could believe it.

Luckily the gas had run out on a slight downward slope. I put on the hazard lights and coasted. Then, out of nowhere, a sign! A convenience store complete with gas pumps. I cranked the wheel hard and bumped up into the parking lot.

The car pulled to a stop next to the pump. I didn't even have to use the brakes, it just rolled right up and came to a stop by itself.

When something like this happens, you can't help but feel glad, like the world is on your side.

Then I found a million dollar bill pinned to my shirt.

THE END

beyond the reflection's edge


The fine people at Zondervan just sent me a copy of Bryan Davis' "Beyond the Reflection's Edge" for review. There's an internet tour going on next month related to the book, so I'll post some thoughts on it at that time.

In the meantime, here's a shout out to Zondervan for sending me the book! Thanks, Zondervan.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The incomparable NIGHT GUARD!

Those of you with long memories will remember waaaay back in February of 2006 my dentist told me I need a "splint." I received it yesterday, and apparently in the intervening two years and seven months the terminology has changed to call splints "night guards."

I like the name Night Guard. It's a good super hero name. Imagine some thieves on the Portland docks, stealing boxes out of a warehouse. They stick to the shadows and work fast. A small noise catches their attention. They turn, pulling out their weapons to discover... NIGHT GUARD!

"Stay back!" they shout. But they did not anticipate Night Guard's ability to, uhhhh -- they didn't anticipate his power to, um. He has the power to keep his own teeth from grinding, especially at night.

"Beeware eefull dooers," Night Guard says, doing his best to enunciate. "Eye em... Nite Gardh!"

The thieves hesitate, their guns drooping like spring flowers in an unexpected frost.

"Now yuu must feer meye proestheteec toof!" Night Guard cries, opening his mouth wide.

The thieves run away and tell everyone that there is a new super hero in town. They aren't sure of his name, but he had one giant prosthetic tooth, so he becomes known in the criminal underground as... CYDENT! Like CYCLOPS but with one tooth instead of one eye! The Very Unpredictability of his unclear words stikes fear into that superstitious lot of criminals.

Meanwhile, restless because of his new prosthesis, Night Guard wakes from sleep thinking that he's suffocating. Other times he awakes, his mouth dry from sleeping with his mouth open. He gets out of bed, exhausted and short tempered. He begins to wonder if he shouldn't become a super villain. They are allowed to be irritable and difficult. And imagine the terror he could bring upon people. He stares out the window, brooding with the morbid tenacity of a chicken. A world of unlimited possibilities and unblocked vistas spreads before him, his choices infinite, his great power weighing on him like wet clothes, like bricks, like responsibility. "Eye muff mayke dis choyce weyslee," he says. The sun rises over the city, as if a challenge, as if in answer, as if an inscrutable parable sent by God. He takes out his night guard and gets ready for the day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Please Don't Insert Your Toddler Into the Bowling Ball Retrieval Machine

I snapped this little beauty while hanging out with some of my stint buddies at the stint debrief this weekend.

Happy Birthday, Bilbo and Frodo!

Today is September 22nd, the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins*. Happy Birthday to our hobbit friends... thanks for the many hours of fun and adventure. Let us celebrate with much feasting and pipe smoking, and by walking about barefoot.


*Because the hobbits used the Shire calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar, it's possible that their actual birthday is closer to September 14th. I prefer to use the 22nd date, since that's the one that Tolkien settled on for The Lord of the Rings.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Grandma Traylor

We went to Drain, Oregon today to celebrate Krista's Grandma's 85th Birthday. Happy Birthday!

Jack and Jills

Today at Grandma Traylor's birthday party, Krista's Aunt Sheila shared about some new arrivals in their neighborhood:

Sheila: Our neighbors just got seven new miniature donkeys. They're all pregnant, so everyone is excited.

Young boy (C): They're not all pregnant. One of them is a boy.

Z: I bet that one boy is the reason all the girl donkeys are pregnant.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

News From My Neighborhood

One Less Butterfly To Worry About. Z caught a caterpillar at my parent's house last week. I thought it had been released back into the wild, but today as Krista and I loaded up the van we found a furry little corpse in an empty yogurt cup. We gave it an uncerimonious burial in the front yard.

Houdini Dog Strikes Again. Certain Precautions I am taking have prevented Houdini Dog from getting into the backyard but yesterday I noticed that he has left a sign of his passing in the front lawn. I am thinking of putting up some "WANTED" posters, but since I don't know what he looks like I guess it would just say WANTED at the top and then there would be a blank space in the middle of the paper, and at the bottom it would say HOUDINI DOG.

The Precaution Of Which I Spoke. I found a snake in our back yard. I assume that he is, perhaps, one of Houdini Dog's enemies, moving in to keep him out. I've warned the frogs, who now have a snake and Tiger Cat to worry about .

Thursday, September 18, 2008

new devotional

I put up a new devotional over on our WSN blog. It's a reflection on suffering.

Speaking of suffering, a bee flew into my hair this morning when I was walking Z to school. Which was clearly an evil plot, as I do not have tons of hair in which to become tangled.

Hopefully the Squeaky Thing in our attic is not a bat. I'd hate to get one of those tangled up in my follicle wreath.

Ziggy Piggy Ziggy Piggy

Tonight we had yet another gourmet dinner, only this time Krista and Shasta made it: risotto! Mmmmm. It was great.

We followed up by watching this movie about a girl who is cursed to have a pig nose (and ears) until someone "of her own kind" makes a lifelong commitment to love her. Her own kind is upper class humanity. I'd heard mediocre reviews of the movie, but actually it was charming, fun and quirky. I thought it was good. Afterward I told the ladies a couple of ways I would have tweaked the ending to make it even better and they told me that I was insane. But that is just the cost of being a genius, you know, so I just broke a wine glass on the floor and shouted YOU'LL NEVER UNDERSTAND ME NEVER NEVER! and went to my room and wrote "I love me just the way I am" in my Hurt Journal about thirty thousand times.

The movie is called Penelope, and I can recommend it heartily. I think you will like it just fine. It's a tragedy about a girl mistakenly held captive on a farm for years and years. Wait, no, it's a quirky romantic comedy. No farms are in this movie.

Political Cartoonists Trying to Peg the VP Candidates

Poor cartoonists have their work cut out for them. I have to admit that most of these are neither good nor funny. I guess they'll get four years to work up to it.

IT'S HERE AT LAST!!!!

In the mail today:

Gene Wolfe's "An Evil Guest."

I debated: do I wait? Do I savor it slowly? Do I save it for my trip to NYC with Krista coming up in a few weeks?

I decided: I will just read the first page, just to savor it, just to get a taste.

That was about eighty pages ago.

Whoops.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tips for Surviving Your Story

I watched the first episode of "Fringe" last night on Hulu. Some sort of flesh-eating virus is wandering around in television land as part of the Fringe plot. And, at least in the beginning of the show, whenever something creepy is about to happen, electricity starts acting strangely. Electrical storms, cell phones not working, street lamps flickering.

Right at the climactic moments of one of those creepy scenes, one of the street lamps on the show flickered and then WHAM my computer screen went white and then froze. It wasn't, as I immediately guessed, a gimmick designed to frighten me. So I rebooted the computer, all the while wondering, Am I the next one to succumb to a flesh-eating virus?

Realizing I might actually be in a television episode, I quickly rehearsed five ways to make sure I would survive to the end of the episode:

1) Do everything you can to be the most interesting person in the room. No one wants the interesting guy to die. Be sure to have 50 more IQ points to than the average guy. Or keep saying, "I can do some great magic tricks but I can't show you until next week."

2) Have messy, unresolved relationships with as many people around you as possible. Let's be frank. If you're dating someone, do your best to build the romantic tension without actually moving forward significantly in the relationship. This will keep the audience tuning in week after week and keep you a vital part of the story. *DO NOT* under any circumstances say something like, "I love you and will always be here for you" before getting on a train or something.

3) Try to get the show named after you. You know who is never going to die on "House"? House, that's who. Or the Dukes of Hazzard. When Bo and Luke left they were going to have to rename the show or get someone to come in who would also be named Duke. Enter Coy and Vance. You don't want to have to rename the show, "The Bishops of Hazzard." It's confusing. Ditto "Gray's Anatomy." If you kill of Gray and have to call it "Smith's Anatomy" you're going to lose viewers.

4) Don't make comments that would cause your death to be ironic. For instance, if you happen to be at a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and this General says, "Asteroids are headed for the earth and all of us will die in a fiery conflagration" don't respond with some smart aleck response like, "It's not the asteroids that we have to worry about it... it's all those meteorites!" If you can't resist a comment like that, you probably deserve a space rock to the forehead, so get ready.

5) Pay attention to the music. If you're chasing a bad guy and there's this exciting music playing, you're probably fine. But if the BG turns down a dark alley and creepy music starts playing, back away. Try to find a coffee shop where hip people sit in the middle of the shop on a set of strangely arranged sofas. Feel free to jump into their conversation, especially if it's about dating and relationships. If you hear occasional laughter... that's the laugh track! You're safe at last.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a picture of the future (I hope)


Tonight I made dinner for the kids early, while Krista was at her exercise class. They decided they wanted to sit outside and eat, and as I worked in the kitchen I looked out and saw the two of them sitting sweetly together and chatting amiably about their day and life and pizza and I'm sure whatever came to their minds. It was so cute, I had to take a quick picture. I know there will be days (or decades) where this isn't the case, but I sincerely hope they grow up loving each other and being close friends who can sit out on the porch on a beautiful summer night and eat a meal together and talk about life.

Our Homemade Pizza

Here's a picture of the pizza I made for me and Krista last night. Krista made the dough. There's kalamata olives, squash and three kinds of tomatoes from the garden. I have to admit that it was tasty. The real question is, Why don't you ever come to our house for dinner? Well? Why not?

Answer: Less Than You Would Think

A: Are you going to a meeting or something?

Me: I am going into the office later.

A: You don't usually get dressed up so fancy.

Me: Mom's taking my picture for a magazine I'm going to be in.

A (after a long pause): How famous are you?

Monday, September 15, 2008

News From My Neighborhood

I'll have the frog's legs, waiter, but hold the frog's legs. The neighbor's kitten is growing up and prowling our backyard for snacks. I scared her off today to see what she was eating and discovered two frog's legs, crossed neatly like a fork and knife on a plate. Krista says this is proof that cats never need to be fed. I say it's proof that animals do not consider members of other species to be cute. Frogs are cute. Kittens are cute. But you put them together and someone is going to end up dead. Sometimes it's the frog, sometimes it's the kitten. Usually the frog, though.

Matt Vs. The Barf Fairy. The Barf Fairy visited our family this weekend, starting with an explosion of mango and yogurt from A. Within about five hours my stomach hurt, but I was determined to defeat the flittering little trouble-maker. This morning I could barely get out of bed, but I ate the traditional Honey Nut Cheerios breakfast in pure defiance. Followed by some more time in bed, working on our newsletter. Then I ate some toast. Tonight I was feeling well enough to make some homemade pizza. Tomorrow I'll either feel great or terrible. No middle ground for me!

But The Cat Came Back. Yesterday it looked like she was prowling after the kids. In fact, at one point, A started yelling at me to keep the cat away, because she thought it was going to attack her. It thinks it's a tiger or something. If it had another hundred pounds or so of weight there could be some real problems in this neighborhood.

I Gave You Life... I Can Take It Back Again. Our neighbor to the southwest spent a lot of time destroying his front lawn, cultivating the dirt and re-seeding the grass... only to fail to water it now that it's hot out. He's like a mad scientist, toying with life. He must be stopped.

The Plague of Grasshopper(s). I discovered a grasshopper in our house, happily perched on our walls which are painted "celery ice" green. I snagged it and threw it outside. I showed it to Z and she said, "Oh, I saw that go inside last night." Now I see another one (the same one?) on the wall again. Could it be another nemesis for me? As if Mad Scientist, Miniature Tiger and Houdini Dog are not enough! Can I be expected to add a Grasshopper to my Rogue's Gallery? And how will it contribute to the Mystery of the Squeaky Attic?

In Other News. No sign of Houdini Dog. He may have escaped for good this time. I shake my fist at you, Houdini Dog!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Princess Leia Sings Star Wars

The animated Clone Wars movie reveals George Lucas' deep commitment to destroy his entire Universe. We first suspected this with the advent of the Ewoks, and then the prequels assured us that all of Star Wars' child-like wonder was being emptied out like the last few coins from a broken piggy bank.

We should have realized it sooner, I guess, but we were kids and didn't see the signs of the cheesiness that was to come:



Happy Life Day, everyone.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cool Space Toys

Krista and I were briefly in the San Francisco airport today, where we walked quickly through a cool show of old tin toy robots and spaceships and other rad evidences of everyone loving outer space. You weren't allowed to take pictures, though, which was lame.

Here's a link to the show, even though you can't see any of the pictures.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Good Time With Jesus


Last Sunday, Krista suggested I go work out, but the gym was closed. So I went on a bike ride to a nearby park that we recently discovered. There's an off-road trail that leads to this beautiful pond. I saw a snake there. I haven't seen a wild snake in Vancouver in a couple of years.

I enjoyed the quiet time and spent some great time in prayer. I felt God's presence clearly, and experienced a deep peace during our time together.


I found this patch of ripe blackberries. People in the Northwest think of blackberries as a weed, because blackberries will fight you to the death for a square foot of land. To those of us who grew up in California, this is a shame. It's hard even to find blackberry bushes that haven't been poisoned, so it was a special treat to find this little clutch of berries.


I always like running across strange graffiti like this. Appears to have been drawn with a sharpie. I will reveal my ignorance here by saying I have no idea if this is a brand name, a logo, a famous band icon... no idea. Appears to be a snake on an iron bar cross with a crown and wings over it. Weird but interesting.


The river running through the park is beautiful, too. I enjoyed the space provided by the park, and was thankful for the people who donated the acreage to the city of Vancouver.

Upside Down Z



Z has been practicing her playground skills.

First Hamburger



Last week, on her first day of kindergarten, A agreed to try a hamburger. It was actually a buffalo burger, with fresh tomatoes from our garden. She loved it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Signs of Daytona Beach, Florida


This (slightly modified) sign seems to provide evidence that someone from Portland, OR beat us here. Unless it was one of my co-workers. In which case, I suspect Colorado. :)

Aaaand, here's a sign that proves that we're *not* in Portland. Just in case you were wondering which foods were neither organic, made from organic ingredients, nor all-natural, here's a handy guide to which foods those might be.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Visitor


In a rare travel moment, Krista and I watched a great movie on the airplane today. It's called The Visitor. The movie is about Walter Vale, widowed university professor, who heads to New York City for a conference, only to discover that his long abandoned apartment has been, unknown to him, rented out to illegal immigrants. In a moment of unexpected kindness he invites them to stay, and a friendship begins that starts to return life and purpose to Vale's existence.

The writing and acting are great. The story is powerful and moving. I laughed out loud and got caught up in the story... while on the airplane. Amazing. A movie like this could easily veer into preachy politics, but it doesn't. It's a story about people, and the characters take center stage. The symbolism is carefully planned and almost never heavy handed. An excellent movie that Krista and I both really enjoyed.

The Visitor releases on DVD October 7th, and I highly recommend you watch it when you get the chance.

Here's the trailer:



Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. At a moment that deserves some strong language.

New Article at Discipleship Journal

I got an e-mail tonight from one of the editors at Discipleship Journal and they've accepted another one of my articles. I originally sent a shorter article and they asked for me to rewrite it as a feature article. Which I did. Then they asked for a few more re-writes, which I did, and now there's a contract on the way! I'm thrilled, of course. Not only to have another article in DJ, but also because I'm excited that some people might read the article and use what they learn in it.

I'll let you know when I have an idea which issue it will be in.

A Fun Airport Game

When you fly United, there are clear classes of people. First class, of course. Followed by the premiere executives. Followed by the peons. Then the serfs. Each category is treated differently (the serfs, for instance, are not allowed to use the restroom on the plane).

I like to try to do at least one thing that's above my class. My favorite thing is to step on the red carpet, even though I'm not allowed to do so. Take that, first class! Ha ha ha! My foot went where only your foot is allowed to go! Ha ha ha haaaaaaaa.

The traditional airport post

Krista and I are on our way to Florida today, to meet with everyone else in the US who does the same job as me.

It looked like Hurricane Ike might make our planned meeting place (Daytona Beach) difficult, so everyone sent in their thoughts for alternative meeting places. Which means that I'm sitting here thinking, "Why am I flying to Florida instead of Hawaii, Paris, or Amish country?"

Nothing of great importance to note today at the Portland airport. I am struck by how everyone looks familiar after you fly enough, and you're stuck there trying to figure out if you've actually been on a plane with these people before, or if you're inventing things in your mind.

The guy who looks most familiar is a white-haired old gentleman with a handlebar mustache. He's wearing a blazer and a checkered shirt and he has that harmless, friendly look that guarantees that as soon as you turn your back he's going to shove a cloth soaked in chloroform over your mouth. Or maybe that's only in the movies, I get confused.

Also here, the Japanese girl reading a book while wearing noise-canceling earphones. The young family with a baby. The woman whose lips are so close to her cell phone that it looks like she's kissing it. The fat guy with too many bags. The business guy who's flying first class, but he's still standing as close as he can get to the jetway so that when the attendant calls first class, he'll be the first one onto the plane. The tattooed lady with the nose rings and conservative scarf. The mariachi band. All old friends, although I don't know their names.

Be safe today, my friends. And stay away from the old guy with the handlebar mustache.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

News From My Neighborhood

Houdini Dog on the Loose (Again). We don't own a dog. But two weeks ago while mowing the back lawn I discovered evidence of a dog. You know the sort of evidence of which I speak. Digested evidence. I supposed that the side gate had been open. I've been making sure that the gate is closed now. And yet, today while mowing the lawn I smelled (before I saw) further evidence. How shall I say it? Fresh spoor of the beast. I unintentionally mowed it. The point, however, is that said dog could not have entered our yard by traditional means. It is a mystery which I intend to solve. Is a neighbor opening the gate and letting their dog into our backyard? Is someone collecting leavings and launching them over our fence? Is there a flying dog? A Houdini dog? The title reveals my prejudice on this question. Rest easy, friends, I will chain him again soon enough.

The Squeaky Attic Mystery. For some time now Krista and I have been the victims of this squeaky thing that appears to live (?) in the vent directly above my side of the bed, connecting to the attic. It squeaks once or sometimes twice after the lights go out in our room. Rarely in the day. It doesn't seem irregular enough to be an animal, and we never hear scratching sounds or the sound of tiny claws running around. On the other hand, I'm having a hard time coming up with a non-living cause for a thing that squeaks at night when the house turns dark and quiet. Could it be the sound of Houdini Dog squeezing back under the eaves of the house and into his home in our attic? I'm not sure. A bat? A rat? A squeaky -- thing? I don't know. The curiosity drives me crazy at night, but during the day I forget about it. Now that I've shared it here in the BHR community, maybe I'll do something -- take off the vent cover and take a look. Feel free to share dire warnings about why I shouldn't do that.

My, what an impressive vocabulary you have

Yesterday my five-year-old daughter A was harassing me and trying to keep me out of the bathroom by hanging onto my legs. I pried her off and said, "Hey, what's that over there?" And she said, "You're just trying to make a diversion."

Then tonight after "family fun night" she had a good comment, too. She had completely destroyed me and then Krista at Wii tennis, and she said that she had "dominated" us.

This from the same girl who didn't know any ghost words. I can't wait until she can read... who knows what she'll be saying then?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Thirty)

Dedicated to the old man at my parents' neighborhood barbecue tonight, and to the youngish female doctor that he sought out for friendly conversation.

Old Man: Did I hear you say that you work at the hospital?

Lady: Yes.

Old Man: I don't want to go to the hospital.

Lady: You could just stop by to say hi.

Old Man: I do that sometimes. I'm (I couldn't hear the number) years old.

Lady: Well, you certainly don't look your age. You must be doing something right.

Old Man: I chase my wife around.

Lady: ha ha. That keeps you young, I guess, chasing after your wife.

Old Man: I could chase after you instead... but I would never catch you.

Ice: Friend or Foe?

Z recently started ice skating lessons again. They make the kids wear bike helmets, which I suppose should be called ice-skating helmets for that half hour on the ice.

Not all the kids remember their helmets, though.

Last night I saw a kid take a dive on the ice. He landed forehead first on the ice. Much wailing and many tears followed. His parents tried to go out to him on the ice, but they were wearing flip flops. So instead they stood at the entrance to the rink and shouted encouraging messages. "It's okay, buddy!"

Eventually the instructors delivered the distraught ice victim to his parents.

Then his parents went and got some ice to put on his forehead.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Putin Vs. Tiger



As if he wasn't frightening enough. Putin single-handedly stops a Siberian tiger from mauling a camera crew.

Cheryl, Eric, Ashley, 'Jamin, we would love an update from you on this situation.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My favorite art at the Maryhill Museum

Yesterday (also for Krista's birthday) we went to the Maryhill Museum of Art. I was amazed by the quality of the pieces on display there. Right now they have a Warhol show going, and an impressive amount of Rodin in the basement, which is apparently part of the permanent collection. The international chess sets were neat, too.

But by far my favorite installation was this one:

I debated telling A that she wasn't allowed to put her own work up in the museum, but in the end I decided that I didn't want to squelch her artistic temperament.

Z also did some art in the kid's room, too:

Dr. Horrible on Your iPod

The fine (but strange) folk at Dr. Horrible have just released the Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog soundtrack.

I am listening to it right now with a silly smile on my face.

Non-Discrimination Policies

We took Krista to Multnomah Falls for her birthday breakfast yesterday, and while at the falls I saw the Multnomah Lodge's non-discrimination policy. They have included icons to make it clear which people shall not be discriminated against. Feel free to include your own guesses in the comments section. I have included mine below:

People Who Believe In a Round Earth. Hey, just because you choose to believe in a round earth rather than a flat earth (which is manifestly obvious to anyone who looks around them), that's no reason for us not to hire you here at Multnomah Falls. Sure, when you drop things we'll laugh at you when they don't roll away down the so-called curve of the earth, like you think they should. But we'll still hire you even though you're a little dumb.

Dating Couples Who Have to Be Touching At All Times. Okay, we'll admit that you make us nervous, and that sometimes we feel a little sick seeing that you can't keep your hands off each other long enough to have normal social interactions with the rest of us. But that doesn't mean we'll discriminate against you. We might put you in your own little corner of the restaurant where we don't have to see you playing footsy while you feed each other bites of pancakes and sip from the same cup, but we are guessing that either you won't notice or won't care.

People Who Clap With Their Hands Perfectly Aligned To One Another. We -- like most people -- prefer the slightly unaligned and "cupped hands" version of clapping. In addition to giving a fuller, rounder sound to the clapping, it also looks more natural and prevents an audience from appearing to be a faceless collections of automatons. We'll still hire you, and we'll still serve you. Perhaps we will watch you carefully, suspecting that you are a robot sent from the future to kill us because we are the only ones who can defeat SkyNet. But that's self-defense, not discrimination.

Two-Faced Liars. We know you don't trust us, because you think everyone is a dirty liar just like you. But the fact is that we are prevented by law from discriminating against no good filthy liars. Also two-faced jerks and people who wear masks on the back of their heads. We don't like it, but it's the law.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Dear Krista... the kids and I wanted to wish you (another) happy birthday. There aren't a lot of birthdays out there that make us as happy as your birthday does. There are many reasons to celebrate you coming into the world. I love you and hope you have a spectacularly good year this year.

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