Friday, October 31, 2008

I Hate Zombies

If there's one shambling monstrosity I could gladly do without, it's those stupid zombies.

A vampire has a certain vicious nobility, and there is a spare beauty in its complete selfishness.

A mummy has honor at least. He curses with complete impartiality and he keeps his word. You disturb him and he'll kill you. I can respect that.

The wolfman you can feel sorry for. The poor idiot has to lock himself up every full moon, and fight against his deep desire to disembowel people.

Then there's the zombie. Stupid, limping, nasty, flesh-eating imbeciles. They're the lowest common denominator of monsters. They're nothing but a mockery of life and resurrection. It's dumb. Their limbs fall off and retain locomotion. They are dead but they breathe enough to say UUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHNNNNNN. The smart ones can say things like, "Brains." It doesn't even make sense how they move. No heart beating or anything, no blood pumping (unless you kill them for some reason). They're always sneaking up on people and chewing on them. They're not only stupid, they're impolite.

Some people think the best thing you can do for a zombie is to kill it. I say that's too good for a zombie. I like to ignore them completely. So a zombie comes straggling into a grocery store, crying for brains, I just walk calmly past it and get my produce. Stupid zombie doesn't even know to chase you unless you scream and run.

Everybody hates a zombie. And I don't even feel bad writing this because the dumb zombies can't even read. There's always a chance that Dracula might stumble across your blog and have his feelings hurt.

Sometimes I wait until a zombie is all calm and sleepy like and I sneak up on it and balance stuff on it. Like that website, Stuff On My Cat. Only I do it with zombies. I like to dress them up like cowboys and ballerinas. So if you see a collection of zombie cowboys wandering through your streets tonight, you'll know I've been around.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

News From My Neighborhood

Weather I Would Make a Good Farmer

On the way home from dropping off Z at school I saw the same old man walking the same old poodle that I see every single school day. I decided to say hello this morning.

Me: Good morning.

OM: It's cold out today. It's like a real Fall day.

Me: Yup. But during the day it's been pretty warm sometimes.

OM: True. But I think it's going to be a cold winter.

Me: I guess that could be.

OM: The Farmer's Almanac says it will be a real cold one.

Me: Oh.

OM: But maybe you don't believe in the Farmer's Almanac. It's anybody's guess what the weather will do.

Me: But I'm sure a farmer's guess is better than my guess.

Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out!

Also on the way home... one of the neighbors has turned on his Halloween decorations. I like Christmas decorations, which shower the neighborhood with a cheery glow. But Halloween decorations have all those strobe lights and then the noise pollution of recorded voices screaming and saying things like, "HELP! OH! HELP! AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Note to my neighbors: please try not to get savagely attacked or murdered while the Halloween decorations are up. I am having a hard time discerning when to run up to the porch and tear apart the zombie dolls.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Politics (As Usual)

We're going through the book of Ecclesiastes in church right now. Our pastor doesn't stop for holidays and special events. Christmas, Easter, whatever, he preaches out of the place we're at in the book we're studying at the time.

The weird thing, of course, is that his messages are always appropriate for the moment. He ends up hitting the portion of I Corinthians that talks about resurrection just as we enter Easter. Things like that. One of the other pastors (we'll call him Sally because he said not to use his name) said that it's because of the Holy Spirit. I guess you can't argue with that.

This week was no exception. this sermon is about Ecclesiastes. And politics. And what it looks like to put your hope in political solutions rather than God. It's excellent, take a listen.

Pastor John also put up a condensed version on his blog.

Revolutionary Advice with Matt

Q: Dear Matt,

We're hosting Thanksgiving at our home this year and many of our relatives are coming from out of town. Would it be okay for us to ask some of them to stay at a hotel? It would be really inconvenient for them to stay with us.

A:
Dear Anonymous Person Who Would Like Some Advice,

Of course that would be fine! I mean, it's your house, right? It's not like your great-grandfather died and left it to you in his will or something, making it a sort of family heirloom which means that you have to invite everyone over.

I know that my wife and I hate the inconvenience of family coming for special events. For instance, last Thanksgiving our whole extended family came, which meant that we had to empty out the weight room and put an inflatable bed in there. Also, we had to evict our two Guard Rottweilers, Cerberus and Cujo, and make them live outside. OUTSIDE! Believe me, that is no place for a dog. When Uncle Fred and Aunt Molly showed up we had already filled the library, the guest room, the weight room, the dog's room, the maid's room, the sewing room and the wine cellar. We had to inflate another queen size bed and launch it onto the indoor swimming pool. I told my wife, "If one more person shows up I swear that I am going to make them sleep out in the guest house!" The guest house is really inconvenient because it's out the back yard, through the garden, through the hedge maze, past the grotto, past the giant chess set, around the exact replica of the Master of the Nets Chinese Garden, past the Laser Tag field (left over from the 80's... we mostly use it for paint ball now), over the canal and just beyond the wood. It's only four thousand square feet, too. Practically rustic. And of course, Cerberus and Cujo were out there, and they were mad. Anyone sleeping at the guest house would have had to carry a sack of bacon to keep the dogs off long enough to make it to the house.

So. The answer is, no. Or something. I can't remember the question, hold on let me scroll up. Just a sec. Oh. Yeah. The answer is... "Yes." That would be fine to have your family stay in a hotel. Because it's inconvenient to host them in your home on Thanksgiving. Families are about convenience, not duty. In fact, don't even have them over to dinner. Make sure there's a Denny's in the parking lot of their motel and tell them that you're going to meet them there but then stay home and eat your turkey alone. That should be more convenient, too!

UPDATE: As it turns out, Anonymous Person Who Would Like Some Advice's house was left to him by his great-grandfather as a sort of family heirloom. So he invited his family to stay in the house after all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A tale about a tail

Tonight was our church's Halloween -- ooops -- I mean Harvest Party. Z went as a princess, and A went as a rabbit. The big problem for our little rabbit was that she lost her fluffy tail somewhere between the jump house and the game room. In the midst of her crying, Pastor Frank came up to try to help .

Pastor Frank: Where did you last see your tail?

A: On my bottom.

Discipleship Journal (in my mailbox)

I mentioned last month that I sold an article to Discipleship Journal. This was a special moment for me, because it's a full-length article, and on a topic that I'm excited to see people read and hopefully try out in their lives.

One of the things I didn't anticipate is how nice the DJ staff and editors are. In addition to paying for my article, they also gave me a year's subscription to the magazine. Isn't that nice? It wasn't even in the contract, it was just a little thank-you from them.

Which means that today I received one in my mailbox. Which is nice, because usually all the magazines belong to Krista.

Except for Good Housekeeping. That one is mine.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Books!!!

Tonight Krista's parents and my parents teamed up to put the kids to bed and do the dishes while Krista and I zipped off to the bookstore. I've been waiting to buy Michael Connelly's The Brass Verdict since it came out last Tuesday. I almost bought it at the airport leaving NYC but it was a full price hardcover and I was in the middle of another book that was long enough to get me to the West Coast. I love Michael Connelly, especially the Harry Bosch novels. Only two modern authors get the Mikalatos Seal of Approval before I bother to read the books: Michael Connelly and Gene Wolfe. They're the only two authors whose books, when they come out in hardback, I cannot wait for them to become available at the library or to purchase them in a year when they go to paperback. I must have them now.



While poking around at the bookstore I also stumbled across this book:



It's called Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story. Rather than trying to explain it, I will quote the paragraph that caused the book to leap into my hand:
On a hillside near the cozy Irish village of Glennkill, the members of the flock gather around their shepherd, George, whose body lies pinned to the ground with a spade. George has cared for the sheep, reading them a plethora of books every night. The daily exposure to literature has made them far savvier about the workings of the human mind than your average sheep. Led by Miss Maple, the smartest sheep in Glennkill (and possibly the world), they set out to find George's killer.
Question: Is there any way I could have possibly managed to avoid buying this book after reading that paragraph?

Answer: No, there is not. It might as well have said, "This book specifically designed for the strange tastes of Matt Mikalatos." I got a silly little grin on my face and stacked it on top of my Connelly book.

Now I have two books I'm excited about. Yay!

How to Get Your Sister to Give You a Dirty Look

A: One hundred years from now I will be 105 years old.

Z: If you live that long.

Friday, October 24, 2008

news from my neighborhood

Big Wheels Keep On Turning. You may recall our cranky neighbors to the west who call the cops whenever something in the neighborhood does not suit their fancy. Well, our friendly neighbors to the NE have recently started leaving their giant truck parked on our sidewalk directly in front of Neighbor W's house. Yesterday the cops came and marked it to be towed, because it hadn't moved for several days. So Neighbor NE moved it into his driveway overnight, filled the cab with things from his garage, and then returned it to its previous location in front of Neighbor W's house. Looks like someone's going to get some hate mail!

Take You to the Cleaners. A couple of weeks ago a Kirby salesman came to our door. I told him I was busy, but he offered to come back. Krista was about to have a big party the next day and he said he would vacuum one room of the house. So I told him to come back at 4. He was late. He spent the next hour and a half cleaning my hallway. I kept trying to get rid of him so we could go to dinner. He kept saying things like, "What would I have to do to get this fine machine into your house?" And I would say things like, "I guess you could sneak into my house when I was out of town and put it in my closet." I finally asked him how much the Kirby went for and he said TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. I laughed and told him that this was well out of my range. He said that I had to appreciate its value. I said that I did. He said that my neighbor to the NW did, too, and that he had bought one. He kept saying that. Your neighbor across the street there, he bought one. So finally I told him, that's good news. Because now I can borrow it from my neighbor for free.

Burgerville Update. The fresh milkshake of the season right now is apple caramel. Krista says it tastes like an apple pie with ice cream on it, but it's a milkshake. I wish strawberries were in season again.

Halloween decorations. Nothing makes a neighborhood feel homier than giant tarantulas, headless corpses, spider-webs and gravestones. One neighbor left their political endorsement sign on their heavily decorated lawn. Which makes it look like they are saying, "Vote for my candidate. SCAAAAARRRRYYY!"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jam the Vote

I liked the JAM THE VOTE section of tonight Saturday Night Live Election Special. It's in the middle of the video below (at 5:12):



Tina Fey and Will Ferrel were on the show tonight, too. I noticed there was no Obama in tonight's episode. Could it be that SNL has a bias against Obama? I wonder.

Monkey Jockeys


The picture on the left is of Paprika the dog and her "jockey", Dirk the monkey.

The founders of The Kanine Derby said they couldn't figure out whether to call the new races they've put together Dog Races or Monkey Races, so they've settled for "The Kanine Derby." Training the monkeys and dogs to work together has been immensely difficult. I'll be watching the internet to see if I can get some video of the races.

Full story here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Positivity

My team likes to tease me because I have the gift of "positivity." Seeing the bright side of things, so to speak. I'm sure it gets annoying for my co-workers sometimes. Like when my co-worker Jenny was having computer problems today and couldn't get her mouse to click correctly.

"I think I have a short in my mouse," she said.

I said, "That's better than a mouse in your shorts."

Yet Another Reason Not To Live in Prehistoric Times

Researchers have discovered the fossilized remains of a snake that was over 40 feet long, probably weighed more than a ton and was wide enough around that it would "probably have trouble" fitting through a doorway.

At the end of the article they say "it's a mystery as to what these creatures preyed upon."

Hmmm. I don't think so. I am guessing that they preyed upon everything.

Via Boing Boing.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You know, sometimes it really stretches credulity to continue to call these things "reality" shows

Bishop Thomas W. Weeks the third recently announced he's in negotiations for his own reality show. If you need a good laugh (or a good cry) be sure to click through to read the article.

Weeks is a twice-divorced church leader in Atlanta. He was last in the news for beating his most recent wife in a parking lot last August (07). His new show will be about him looking for his third wife.

During the show he'll be leading his international ministry and doling out relationship advice. His divorce lawyer will come on the show to give him relationship advice.

Which brings us to the Burning Hearts Revolution's Top Ten Rules for Relationship Advice and Reality Show Programming:

10. Don't marry a guy who beat up his last wife a mere 14 months ago.

9. Don't take relationship advice from a guy who doesn't have any successful relationships.

8. If you do choose to take relationship advice from a guy who doesn't have any successful relationships, you should always take his Opposite Advice. So when he says, "You have to think of your own needs" you can say, "That means... I should think of my wife's needs."

7. Don't take relationship advice from someone who makes a living off of the legalities of ending a relationship. Yes, I'm talking about divorce lawyers.

6. Unless your divorce lawyers has been married for thirty years and really wants to try to make things in marriages work out and he's become a divorce lawyer as a sort of last chance to save people's marriages.

5. If you want to star in a reality show, make sure your life is out of control, weird tabloid-fodder.

4. If your pastor who founded your church is always pulling funny little stunts like beating his wife, divorcing her, saying he is sad and lonely, saying he is healing and then decides he would like to go find a new wife--on a nationally televised reality show--you should give that guy a sabbatical. Just kidding. Fire him. Fire him now.

3. The devil did not make him do it.

2. And it sure wasn't Jesus who made him do it.

1. If your life does go all crazy, be sure to let the media outlets know so at least you get some publicity.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mary Poppins on Broadway


Our last night in NYC we went to see Mary Poppins. We bought these tickets ahead of time because I love the movie and we thought it would be a good show.
And it was. The new music and the changes to the original music were done in conjunction with the Sherman brothers, the guys who wrote the music for the movie.
The acting was great and the costumes and set were spectacular. The set in particular caught my attention. It had enormous moving parts, and much of the show took place in some section of the Banks home, and the third floor and roof could be raised up and down onstage.
Also, Mary Poppins has an evil nemesis in the play. Which was good for a laugh, but of course MP is practically perfect in every way and she really had no trouble dealing with the interloper.
At the end, Mary flew up over the audience never to be seen again. Until she showed up for the curtain calls.
It was a great show to end a great week together.

A Typical Interaction

The following interaction is so typical of Krista and I that it has stuck in my brain. It took place on our plane going from Chicago to NYC.

(Terrible noises coming from beneath the floor of the plane. Enormous wrenching, screwing noises.)

Krista: That doesn't sound good.

Me: I'm sure it will be fine.

Captain: We have a problem with our hydraulic system. Looks like we'll be changing planes....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Liberty or Something Like It

This is my favorite picture Krista took of the Statue of Liberty. I've never seen one like it. It looks like Lady Liberty is striding through the forest, and we've happened upon her as we, too, journeyed through the woods.

I found our time on Liberty Island inspiring. I loved seeing the people from many countries taking their pictures with the Statue. Reading the history of the statue and listening to the audio tour was amazing, too. The way the French people came together to raise money for this gift to us, and then the Americans rallying to raise the money to build the pedestal was fascinating. I was struck by how this one piece of art required people from multiple countries, artists, architects, writers and others to come together and say, "Liberty and freedom for all people matters, and it should be the first thing people think of when they arrive in the United States."

The power of art to change lives and culture was a theme of our time in NYC, whether it was seeing the Canadian woman who has memorized every last bit of Wicked, or learning the history of the Statue of Liberty and hearing people on the audio tour talk about how they wept when they saw that great green monolith rising ahead of them, or seeing the memorial plates on the side of the fire department by the World Trade Center site.

The freedoms available to us in this country -- particularly the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech -- are things we should cherish and honor. Many in the world desire to come here to have a chance at that. One of the things that struck both Krista and I during our time at Ellis Island was how many of our immigration laws historically have been driven by racism and selfishness.

Last year we spoke with an immigrant from Mexico at our church. He told us, "Before we came to the United States, my children were hungry all the time. Now we have food to eat." That's the American dream right there, my friends. Many of our parents and grandparents came to this country to escape religious or political persecution, to climb out of the slow starvation of poverty, to find a place where they would have a chance to feed their families and be treated as equals. I'm all for us giving future generations a chance... and doing our best to make the United States a country defined by liberty and justice for all.

At the Met

On Thursday our day went like this:

1) Got up and took the subway uptown to go to the Metropolitan Museum.

2) Got lost. Ironically because our concierge got the subways backwards. Wandered in Central Park until we finally figured it out.

2) Went to the Metropolitan Art Museum.

3) Had a late lunch.

4) Went to see Letterman.

5) Grabbed dinner.

6) Went to see the 39 Steps.

7) Collapsed when we got back to the hotel room.

BUT I did want to mention an artist whose work I discovered at the Met. His name is Stephen Hannock. The Met has two of his pieces. The one above is actually eight feet by twelve feet, so you can imagine how this tiny internet picture is nothing like it. And then, the thing that I loved about it other than the beautiful painting, is that as you get closer to it you realize that he's written words all over the canvas, personal remembrances of the landscape. So the field in the foreground is actually made up of several paragraphs of Hannock's thoughts about the landscape. Places where his friends live are marked. Childhood memories (his or someone else's, I don't know) are written in along the riverbank.

The Met was great... a lot of impressive work and we could have easily spent more time spelunking the caves of art. But we had places to go, things to do! I think one could easily spend a lifetime in NYC and never exhaust all the activities available.

The 39 Steps

Thursday night Krista and I went to see "The 39 Steps" at the Cort theatre. The play is a sort of comic retelling of Hitchcock's movie of the same name, with the four actors playing about 30 or 40 characters, which sounds ridiculous and is. It's played up for comic effect, of course, and I, in response, laughed heartily. We had a good time. The staging was ingenious also, and the cast gladly pointed out from time to time how silly it was that they were pretending to be in car, or that they had one door frame to suggest every portal that must be crossed. It was a good show, and a lot of fun. Below is a short clip from the show that someone from the theatre uploaded.

Eavesdropping With Matt (Episode Thirty-Three)

Dedicated to the art-loving woman who dragged her husband to the Museum of Modern Art for the "free night" yesterday evening.

Woman: Do you even know who Dali is?

Man: Yeah. Dolly Parton.

Woman: ...

Man: I'm kidding! You need to simmer down. Just simmer down.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The New Colossus

I only have a few seconds here... Krista and I just got back from visiting the "Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World." We have great pictures and will put them on later tonight. But for now I thought you would enjoy reading the full text of Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus"... the bottom bits of which are common knowledge, but I thought the poem overall worth reflection.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Letterman, McCain, Mikalatos... together again for the first time


This morning started with a few hours at the Met, which I'll tell you all about later when I have more time. I know what you really want to know is how my adventures with Letterman and McCain went.

Krista and I arrived and stood in line to pick up our tickets to the show. We talked with the various Late Show workers and they could tell we were something special. They told us secret code words. They gave us special sheets of paper with secret initials. They marked our tickets with a magic signal. All of this was designed to make sure that we were put in the Very Front row. They said it was because we were cute and smiley. We could not deny that this was true, and so we accepted their invitation to sit in the Very Front. In fact, Krista and I sat at Letterman's feet during his monologue. We could reach out and grab his fancy red and white polka dot tie. But we didn't.

I could feel in my bones that Letterman sensed my presence. And not just with his eyes or ears, but with his deep comedic sense. So I wasn't surprised when he walked down to K and me during the first commercial break and said, "If McCain won't come out to talk with me, I want you to come up and be interviewed."

I laughed. Ha ha ha! But I should have known that Dave is not one to joke. He was serious. Deadly serious.

Luckily, McCain *did* come out for his interview, which is for the best since I wasn't prepared. Dave went after McCain pretty hard during the interview, but McCain is a tough guy and he fought back with good humor until he saw me out of the corner of his eye. "Is that you, Mikalatos?" he cried.

"Yes," I said.

"You gave me a lot of trouble when I was in Arizona and people brought up your poetry contest to name new poets laureate!"

"I know," I said, "And I'm sorry."

Dave interrupted to say, "Matt, I've been thinking this over carefully and I want to hire you to be on the show. Would you like to be the Ed McMahon to my Johnny Carson?"

I frowned in deep thought. "I don't think that I can do that."

"You could just be a writer for the show," Dave said.

"No, I can't do that either. I have a job that is deeply important to me."

"What sort of job is it that you have?"

"I am... a missionary," I said.

"GOOD LORD!"

"Precisely."

Dave and McCain exchanged a glance. "How about we do a song and dance number together instead?"

I laughed, but Dave insisted. So McCain, Dave and I danced like a whirling storm of flying feet and sang a heartbreaking but hilarious song about Broadway, Presidential politics and Barak Obama's new plan to get us all kitties.

After that Ne-Yo came out and we had a dance off. I will admit that he won, though.

We all parted with manly hugs. I gave Dave my silver flute so that Dave and I would have no hard feelings. I still think it might be booby-trapped.

After all this Krista and I were tired, so we went out, grabbed dinner and then went to yet another Broadway show. Whew! It was a fun, exciting day. The next time I have a chance I'll give you a little update on the show we watched tonight (The 39 Steps) as well as our time at the Met.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wicked, Wicked Broadway



We scrambled down to the Gershwin theatre this afternoon to attempt to win the "Wicked lottery." About two hours before show time the theatre draws about ten names, and those lucky individuals who are drawn get to buy front row (!) tickets for a HEAVILY discounted price. It comes out to about $25 a ticket, which is probably about a tenth of the price others in those seats are paying.

So Krista and I put our names in and, wouldn't you know it? We won! My name was the next to last name called, so I happily traipsed up to the front of the line and pulled out ID and cash to buy our way to the best seats in the house.

I know some of you are probably concerned that the system was unfair or biased in some way so that I won, and not the hundred other people who had put their names into the pot. I don't think that's true. Although afterwards, it was like we had left behind Kansas and our old black and white lives and somehow stumbled into a world of vibrant color.

Here's a picture of me with all the winners of the Wicked lottery (we're on the left):

I have never had such great seats. I actually found the beginning of the show slightly frightening, as it seemed the actors could reach through the fourth wall and grab hold of me with no effort at all, and the flying monkeys were gibbering and leaping about.

The main actors, Julie Reiber and Kendra Kassenbaum performed beautifully. The entire cast, in fact, was amazing. The music, the sets, costumes, everything was great. I loved it. Krista and I had a great, great time.

I have some thoughts about the story overall, but I think I'll save that for another time just in case there is some Wicked-equivalent to Clay Aiken fans waiting to jump me. I'll just say that taking fantasy narratives and bringing moral sophistication rather than clear, black and white morality to them is difficult and I don't think the play quite pulled it off without raising a lot of questions. I imagine that if any of the good citizens of Oz saw this play they would say "conspiracy nut jobs." But we don't have to worry about that happening, anyway. That didn't (at all) diminish my enjoyment of the play. I laughed. I cried. I believed a monkey could fly. Krista liked it enough that she signed off on our children having Broadway careers.

Tomorrow... Mikalatos, Letterman and McCain, together in one room. TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR A COMPLETE REPORT. Until then, your BHR correspondent in NYC is signing off for the night.

the temptation to abuse power

While Krista was busy outside listening to people saying how they like to be deceptive, I was inside asking a vendor if we were in the correct line. Enter... an NYPD police officer.

Officer: Is the bathroom right up these stairs?

Vendor: Actually, the lobby doesn't open until just before showtime.

Officer: Are you kidding me?

Vendor: Sorry. You'll have to use the bathroom at Starbucks just down the street.

Officer: You must not be from New York. You should try to stay friends with the police.

Vendor: Sorry, it's just theatre policy.

Officer: This is bad. You should try to make friends with the police. This is not good.

Vendor: It's the same for everyone, you can ask the manager.

Officer: Sure it is. I've used that bathroom before. This is not good. I'm just sayin'... you should try to stay friends with the police.

Then the officer exited the building. It's hard to express satisfactorily how threatening this all sounded. I have no problem with our police officers getting a break where they can get one. I would have no issue with them getting to use the bathroom when I, the customer, cannot. And I am sure that officers sometimes receive these little "thank yous" and I am all for that. However, when the officer slowly begins to think it is his right to receive something other than his pay for him to do his job, that is a problem. That is called bribery. It seemed to me (as ridiculous as it sounds) that the officer here was saying, "If you don't let me use the bathroom, the police won't be your friends, which means that bad things could happen." I don't care if the police are my friends. The police need to do their job for their friends or their bitterest enemies with complete objectivity or they are in danger of being consumed by their own authority. It was interesting to me that the officer's first barb hurled at the vendor had to do with whether the vendor was a true New Yorker. It's like a line from a western or something. "You ain't from around these parts, are ya? If you were, you'd know that the law in this town gets what it wants."

I watched the officer for a while after that while he stood outside venting to a couple of other officers. One of them went inside the building near the vendor while the first officer talked to him the entire time on a cell phone, I assume in some sort of strange intimidation technique. I was concerned enough about the whole exchange that I went and wrote down the officer's name. It was a deeply disturbing moment.

It symbolized to me the deep danger of authority and power... a subtle shift can take place concerning an unimportant, even trivial, issue and suddenly a well-meaning and even noble man can discover that he is abusing his power so that he doesn't have to walk down the block to use the bathroom. It's tragic, and I hope it was an exception in this officer's life. And I hope that I will catch any such moments in my own.

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Thirty-Two) with Guest Eavesdropper, Krista

While we stood in line for the "ticket lottery" for Wicked at the Gershwin theatre, Krista overheard this little gem in line behind her.

Lady 1: We have to give them our real names so that if we win the lottery we can prove it with our ID.

Lady 2: Oh. That's too bad. I like to use an alias.

Lady 1: Why?

Lady 2: I like to be deceptive.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monty Python's Spamalot with surprise guest

Tonight I went to Spamalot, my first Broadway show, and I have to say that we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Part of the fun came from being with my beloved wife, without a doubt.

As we rounded the corner of the theatre, we knew little about the show. We knew it was based loosely on the "Holy Grail" movie from Monty Python and that Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria had been in the Broadway debut. What we didn't know was that the big name in the show for right now was... Clay Aiken.

Krista and I laughed about that and she assured me that she hadn't known. I'm not a big American Idol or Clay Aiken fan. A lot of people in the audience must have been because they applauded and screamed every time he said his lines without messing up. He's famous, I guess. As the guy next to us in the theatre told his father, "Clay Aiken's the Announcer-Guy on American Idol."

The first act of Spamalot left me grinning. It's funnier than the film it's based on, honestly. "The Song That Goes Like This" kept me laughing, as well as our heroes and their encounter with the Lady in the Lake and the Laker Girls. I could have done without much of the second act.

I would have gladly gone my entire life without hearing or seeing performed the songs "You Won't Succeed on Broadway" and "His Name Is Lancelot." Attempting bravely to balance these two travesties out was "I'm All Alone" and watching the Black Knight get hacked to bits on stage, followed by the ferocious rabbit. Please, someone, let somebody else read the Holy Hand Grenade instructions instead of Aiken. It's outside his range, I think.

All that to say, we had a great time. They closed the mezzanine for some reason and moved us to better seats in the balcony. Oh, and then we went for dessert afterwards and saw P Diddy. Yeah, apparently he was watching "Lion King" and fought his way out through his fans afterwards with his entourage. So we saw Clay Aiken and P Diddy in one night. Life in NYC, I guess.

Good night, everyone! See you tomorrow.

Updates from my wife

If you're not following my wife's updates about our time in NYC this week, you should. You can leave her comments. She likes that.

1) Proof that she is happy being with me. So you can back off, she's mine.

2) Fun with Son.

3) Mikalato + Gelato.

We had a lot of fun spending time with Sarah today. We miss her on the Left Coast. My only complaint is that every time she took a picture of us she would say, "It's so white!" Sometimes it is hard when our friend says hurtful things because of our race. :P

Accosted on the street by strangers

As you move toward Times Square, nearly every corner is populated with men trying to sell you tickets to a comedy show. For some reason I am like an unpleasant mark to them. I have tried different ways to respond to them, all of which seem to make them angry.

The Polite Approach: In which I say, "No, thank you" when they ask if I would like to see a comedy show. To which they reply by shouting after me, "WHY DON'T YOU TRY SAYING YES, HUH? WHAT ABOUT THAT?"

The Ignoring Them Approach: In which I pretend not to see or hear them. To which they reply by shouting after me, "WHAT, YOU CAN'T HEAR ME ASKING YOU IF YOU LIKE COMEDY? HUH?"

I am not sure why they keep yelling after me. They don't seem to do it to other people. Is it my old man sweater? Is it the fact that I am with a beautiful woman and they are insanely jealous? Are they intimidated by my monstrous biceps? I do not know.

Here was my favorite interaction today:

Guy Selling Tickets: Do you like comedy?

Me: No, thanks.

GST: You know, Shakespeare was pretty funny.

Me (already out of GST's range; grinning): Yes, he was.

Krista: Is that going on your blog?

Me: Yes. That guy has just earned himself a place in history at BHR.

Tomorrow I have some new techniques to try out. My favored one at this moment is the "Pretend You Are A Foreigner" technique. I think this might work, since people in Latin America tend to think I am their countryman, I thought I might be able to get away with it here. I just have to say something in Spanish whenever people try to sell me tickets. We'll see how it goes.

Two more strangers on the street:

1) While in the Village, two guys with clip boards started sending hand signals to each other while we walked by and the second guy said, "Gay and lesbian rights?" I just stared at him. I couldn't figure out what he meant. Then he said, "Have a nice day." And then I was past him. I suppose I should have said "That's true" since gay and lesbians do have rights (?).

2) A fervent young man asked, "Do you have a minute to give to Obama and the Democrats?" I said, "No, I don't think I do." For one thing, I didn't see Obama there. I suppose if he personally wanted a minute of my time I would provide it. But I wasn't sure how the fervent young man with a clipboard was going to use my minute. And just asking him would use up most of the minute, anyway. Besides, I am on vacation. I am not giving any moment of this day to any politician or political party. They have more important things to do than spend my minute.

The Village Pet Store (And Grill)


While wandering Greenwich Village with Sarah and Krista today, we stumbled upon the Village Pet Store and Grill, an animatronic art show by UK artist Banksy. Banksy's trademark humor shows up in plenty of ways in this show. The show is really about animal cruelty... a rabbit tests makeup on herself, a hen gives birth to chicken nuggets, an ape sits in a cage eating pizza, smoking and watching a nature show about wild apes. I was so pleased we came across the Village Pet Store and would encourage any of you NYC folk to go check it out... it's open until the end of the month.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Favorite quote from a random New Yorker on the street tonight

"You're headed the right direction... for trouble."

This is now my slogan.

Getting our Letterman tickets

Special thanks to the friendly Kate at CBS who kept calling us back until we actually connected on the phone so that she could give us our tickets. Once we finally connected this morning, Kate had to ask my a trivia question to make sure Krista and I were worthy to enter into the presence of the Great Letterman.

Our trivia question: Where does Rupert G work?

I totally aced it.

We're going to be at the show on Thursday, when John McCain is scheduled to appear. Last time he didn't show and Dave was not happy. Here's a clip from that night:



I told Kate to let Dave know that if McCain was busy again on Thursday, that I would be glad to fill his slot, even at the last minute. She said she was sure that Dave would be glad to know I was available.

Mikalatos' Take Manhattan

Krista and I are in The Big Apple this week in celebration of ten years of marriage. We have a full docket of exciting activities plan, and we'll be glad to allow you to live vicariously through this blog.

Tomorrow night we're off to the theatre to see SPAMALOT. Thursday we'll be going to see John McCain apologize to David Letterman, and Friday we'll be spending an evening with Mary Poppins. Who knows what other adventures await us?

We'll keep you updated.

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Thirty-One)

Dedicated to our Shipmates on United Airlines flight 836 from Chicago to La Guardia.

Man #1: I'm going to move this bag.

Man #2: Sir. No you aren't. That's my bag.

Man #1: I can't fit my bag in the overheard compartment unless I move your bag.

Man #2: Well, it's my bag and I want it to stay where it is.

Man #1 (moving the bag): I have to move it or there's not enough room for my bag.

Man #2: COME ON! DON'T move my bag.

Man #1: I have to put my bag up here.

Man #2 (voice raised): Why do you have to move my bag?

Man #1: Buddy, there isn't room to leave your bag where it was.

Man #2: Why do you have to move MY BAG?

Man #1: Listen, buddy, I don't want to have to give you a geometry lesson. Now you settle down.

He settled down. This was a good lesson in how threatening the words "geometry lesson" can sound. I guess Man #2 didn't like math.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

D.A. Carson in Portland tomorrow

The guest speaker at our church tomorrow morning is D.A. Carson.

Services are at 8:15, 9:45 and 11:30. Krista and I attend the 11:30. We'll save you a seat!

full of grace

As part of a recent day of prayer I went with some friends to the University of Portland and walked around the campus, praying for the students that God would reveal himself to them and draw them toward him. It's a beautiful campus and we met some wonderful people in the school administration and student body. At one point, as the rain started to pour down, I took brief shelter under a wide tree's canopy and looked across the lawn to see the virgin Mary standing silently among the stones beside the chapel. It looked hauntingly beautiful. A student had left a few roses at the foot of the statue.

Friday, October 10, 2008

An Ill-Chosen Political Slogan

This slogan doesn't do much for me. Here's Peterson, running for State Rep. The name Peterson, of course, originally meaning "Son of Peter." And the slogan here is elect Peterson "For Pete's Sake." For me this brings to mind an old man named Pete, sitting in an easy chair in an assisted living home, and his son, Peterson is running for State Rep. Old man Pete has always desired Peterson to be in an important government job. And he thinks he could hold onto life if only his son could finally make it. ELECT PETERSON "For Pete's Sake".

This does not compel me. It seems that some consideration for the rest of the district might be better than just considering Pete.

Toto, I don't think we're in Portland anymore.

I had a great time at the UF retreat last weekend and really enjoyed talking about Jesus with the UF students. Here was a sign on the camp property that showed that I wasn't in Portland any more. I will reproduce the text without further commentary:

PUTT THROUGH THE BIBLE

THOU SHALL NOT:

DRIVE BALLS OR SWING CLUBS

USE PROFANITY

FORGET 2 RETURN EQUIPMENT

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bolsheviks in the Bathroom

Krista and I went to Pix Patisserie tonight with our friends Keith, Kim and Shasta. I laughed when I saw this old advertisement in the hallway near the bathroom. Basically, it says that a business with rough paper towels is breeding Bolsheviks in the bathroom. Now that's comedy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

contingency planning

Z and I had this conversation last night after I tucked her and A into bed.

Z: Dad, what if your eyes never got used to the darkness and when you turned out the lights you couldn't see anything at all?

Me: Use your hands to "see."

Z: What if I was feeling around in the dark and I felt something furry?

Me: You should pet it because it is a cat.

Z: What if it is a wild animal?

Me: You should kick it. Because it is a cat.

Z: What if it is a giant wolf?

Me: Then you are outside. If it is so dark that you can't see except with your hands, just stay inside.

Z: Okay.

Me: Goodnight.

Z: Goodnight.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Spaceships at the airport (with pictures)

On my way to Florida this weekend I had a layover at the San Francisco Airport. SFO has it's own museum that has rotating displays and right now they have one called Out Of This World! The 20th Century Space Invasion of American Pop Culture.

Here are some pictures of what sort of cool goodies you can gawk at if you are a ticketed passenger and can make it past security:


Space capsules. Some of them look like they probably shot sparks, too. This one has a spaceman who pops out, which is cool.


Space tanks are also important if one is going to explore space. Not sure how the research into space tanks is going these days.


This is one of my favorite toys. If you look closely, you'll see that the space tank appears to have run over a Space Ape. The tank rolls forward and then every once in a while it rears up to reveal the ape beneath. The tank is called "The Strange Explorer" and it has no patience for Charlton Heston's only natural enemy.

Tom Corbett's Space Academy. Cool. I didn't know there were any Tom Corbett toys at all.


These are Archer's Space People. I couldn't get a good look at all the pieces, but some of the aliens are holding babies and there are robots and everything.


I love this uniform, complete with lightning bolts. I could have been entertained for weeks with this and a large cardboard box to turn into a rocket.


It was really unclear to me why this space helmet went with this record player. It appears it may be a space phonograph or something.

I had never heard of Les Baxter until I saw this record cover, but I like his style. Other albums of his that I'd like to see the covers of: Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs, Hell's Belles, and Music of the Devil God Cult.


Robots. Everyone loves robots.

Especially cute robots that take care of their little ones, like "Electric Robot and Son." He can also send Morse code!


On the other hand, we earthlings are not as fond of marauding Martian robots.

Luckily, the human race has the amazing "Mr. Hustler" to, uhhhhh... I am guessing "hustler" may have meant something other than what I am thinking of when they built this robot. Cyborg, whatever.


If the Martians beat the Hustler, they will drink our insides out like sodas.



I feel cheated by the future. Where is my disintegrator? How can I fight space tyrants without one of these? I have to rely completely on Mr. Hustler. Grrrr.

Here's a puzzle of Disneyland's "Tomorrowland" from the 50's (?). I think they should retrofit the whole thing to look like this again.


And what space toy collection is complete without a Dalek?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

News from My Neighborhood


Man-Eating Kitten. I've mentioned the neighbor's cat, which stalks human beings like small prey. Lately, she's been getting bolder. Here she is, standing at our back door, daring someone to come out so she can eat them. Behold the hungry look in her eyes!

Salamander!


Our buddies in the Autum Film stayed with us a for a few days last week, and A and I took them out to Multnomah Falls. On the way out, at Latourelle Falls we saw a salamander, which was completely unexpected and yes, rad. That's right. Rad. It clambered out of the water so I could get a better picture, and then, with a smile and a wave it leapt off the side and back into the churning white water below.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Three scoops of ice cream in every bowl


In this fraught election season, I just want to remind everyone of my campaign promise that, if elected, there will be three scoops of ice cream in every bowl. This is "home made" ice cream from the local shop "Ice Cream Renaissance" in Vancouver, WA. It is good. My wife took me to this place. Yum! And the ice cream was good, too.

In the San Francisco airport

I spent a brief time in the SFO airport last night. Because I had a bit of time ahead of me and I knew that my "bed" would be a narrow chair with a window on one side and human pillow on the other, I decided to walk between terminals.


On the way I walked through an enormous cavern of empty flight desks and waiting areas. It looked like the scene of a post-apocalyptic Hollywood movie in which zombie-like creature would emerge from their hidden places and attack the hero (me, obviously). To help contol my fear I tentaively said, "Zombies? Are you there?" No answer. Which is exactly what you would expect a clutch of ambushing zombies to say. So I took a page from the Billy Goats Gruff book of tricks and said, "Another passenger with a much bigger, juicier brain is coming right behind me. If you eat me you'll scare him off." Then I hurried along.


In (yet another) abandoned hallway I came across a series of photographs by Travers Flynn. He does "abstract photography" which is to say, blurry landscapes. It appears that his technique involves holding up his camera, setting a slow shutter speed and then shaking the camera. The write-up on the show said that he, "negates symbolic representation" to "express an artistic vision." This is accomplished by going somewhere pretty, closing his eyes, and swinging his camera around. No, really, he closes his eyes for the pictures. Which brings us to the question, "Who is fooling who?" and causes us to wonder if part of his artistic technique is discovering how ludicrous an art show he can get put on display. The ironic sensibility displayed here may be part of the show. For instance, the display said that no photography was allowed. Which struck me as immensely ironic, since most of the photos on display were ones that should have been deleted in the first place. But I closed my eyes and swung my cell camera around, and this is what I accidentally took a picture of (my favorite part of the show). I'm not a good abstract photographer yet and I'm afraid that you will still be able to read what it says. Sorry about that.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

News from my Neighborhood

HOUDINI DOOOOOOOG!!!! Houdini Dog continues his backyard shenanigans unabated. New theories from visiting friends and neighbors include: 1) A really large cat instead of a medium sized dog. 2) Someone "throwing" their animal waste over the fence. 3) Houdini Dog disguises himself as a cat, allowing himself to enter the yard undetected. A less popular version of this theory has him disguised as a frog.

In an attempt to bring this explosive outlaw to justice, I have created the following poster with the intention of putting it up around the neighborhood. Feel free to copy and paste it to your own blog, or to staple it to telephone poles:

Red Eye to Florida

I’m on my way to Florida tonight. I’m speaking at the University of Florida student retreat all weekend. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m sure we’re going to have a great time. I’ll send updates if at all possible.

Before leaving for Florida I always remind myself that although an alligator can run faster than a horse, that it gets confused if you run in a zig-zag pattern. I’ve been out back practicing zig-zag running all week.