Thursday, January 31, 2013

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Sixty-Six: Viva La Old Men)

Dedicated to the two old men who were having lunch together at Burger King yesterday.

Old Man #1: So I go by Mike's house and what do you think I see in his yard?

Old Man #2: I have no idea.

Old Man #1: A bunch of Mexicans. When they saw me they ran and jumped over the fence. Because they were about to break into Mike's house.

Old Man #2: You don't know that. Maybe you just scared them.

Old Man #1: Oh yeah? What do YOU think they were doing there?

Old Man #2: I don't know. Maybe they were Mike's yard and garden crew.

If you'd like more insight into the amazing things people say when they don't know I'm listening, be sure to check out more Eavesdropping with Matt.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Documentary about Bad Writing

Great content. One of my favorite things is that the guy in charge of the documentary forces great writers to read his super crappy poetry.

FYI, some of the language in the documentary is neither clean nor edifying. It's mostly fine, but it has moments that may offend.

 

Via Flavorwire.

My four talks from the Epicenter Conference

This year I spoke at three different student winter conferences, and all three were great... a lot of fun, awesome conversations with students and fun times with staff. The most recent one was a couple weekends ago in Albany, New York, called Epicenter.

One of the fun things about this particular conference is that they let me do a series of talks all focused on telling stories about/by Jesus in a 21st century context. It was the first time I had done those sorts of talks all together, and it was a lot of fun. I thought I'd put them all in one place here, so you could see them if you like.


Here's the first one, talking about what it means to follow Jesus (from Luke 5). If you're one of the Minions around here at BHR, you've likely heard this talk or something like it before:


Talk two, retells some familiar parables from Luke 15:



 Talk three is a new one. I don't want to give away the surprise topic, but it starts with me reading a story. This video is the entire session, including worship and announcements and so on. If you just want to see the talk only, it starts at about 55:30 and ends at 01:27:47.



 And this, my last talk, retells the story of the Good Samaritan. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Man Without A Mustache is Like A Woman With One

I found this little gem of a song while helping Krista get ready for her seminary class she teaches. No, really!

It's official

Here's me, typing out this blog post.
This weekend my church voted on making me an elder for the next two years.

My ten-year-old said, "When you're officially an elder, you'll officially be old."

I told her that it wasn't official yet, because the vote hadn't been taken or tallied yet.

But, actually, now it has, so I guess it's official.

-- Old Man Mikalatos

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dolphin asks for help from a diver


This is a really amazing news report on a dolphin who asked some divers for help to remove some fishing line he had become caught in. At one point, the dolphin has to surface for air, and then comes back to the diver to allow him to finish cutting the fishing line away.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Theology with three year olds

My three year old, M, wanted to talk theology this morning.

M: Dad, God made holes.

Me: Oh yeah?

M: Yes. You can fall into them.

Me: Oh.

M: BUT. He also made houses. If you go inside houses you won't fall into holes.

Me: I see.

M: God made holes. But he also made houses.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Speaking at Epicenter 2013 tonight and this weekend

Hi everybody!

I'm in Albany, NY right now, where I'll be speaking at the Epicenter conference. It will be livecast, so for those who want to hang out and watch the conference FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR OWN HOME you can totally do that because this is the 21st century.

For those of you who are Level 1 Minions here at BHR and have seen all my talks ever no matter where I give them, some of this material (BUT NOT ALL) may be a repeat.

In any case, HERE'S THE LIVECAST LINK.

And here are the sessions I'm speaking in:

Talk one is tonight, Friday, starting at 7 p.m. Eastern, and I'll be talking about Jesus... why people follow him and how Simon Peter, particularly, made that decision.

Tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 9:30 AM Eastern (sorry Left Coasters) will be Luke 15. For those who haven't seen this, we look at the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son through a modern lens.

Tomorrow night at 7pm will be a brand new especially for Epicenter, looking at Luke 7 and the woman who washes Jesus's feet.

Sunday morning at 9:30 will be an examination of the Good Samaritan from a new point of view. New-ish, at least.

Sunday night you can hear from my friend Carrie Walker, and Monday morning will be Bret Ogburn. Check it out!

Storymen Episode 5 is up and running!


Hey friends, it's time for Storymen!

In this episode we talk about movies, violence and books.

This time we also have a contest, in which you take the Oscar nominees for best picture and try to add a cheesy Christian tagline. Like so: "Les Miserables: Because People Are Miserable Without Jesus." It's fun!

Now you try:


Give us your best cheesy Christian tagline for the 9 Best Picture nominations! Winners announced on our next episode!

  1. Argo
  2. Amour
  3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  4. Django Unchained
  5. Les Miserables
  6. Lincoln
  7. Life of Pi
  8. Silver Linings Playbook
  9. Zero Dark Thirty
You can submit your taglines in the comments, onFacebook or with the Twitter hashtag #StoryMen

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Sixty-Five: Home Countries)

Dedicated to the man who sat next to me on the plane today, and to the two women on our plane were having a rough time finding their seats, because their English was not great.

Man next to me: Go back to your home country! Am I right?

Me: Maybe this is their home country.

A couple minutes later we had this excellent exchange:

Man next to me: I can't believe the flight attendants are having such a hard time talking to them. Doesn't anyone on the plane speak Spanish?

Me: Those ladies don't speak Spanish. They were speaking Hindi.

Yes, that's right. And there's so much more waiting for you if you read earlier posts from Eavesdropping With Matt.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest post from Tony Kriz, author of "Neighbors and Wise Men."


Here's the thing about Tony Kriz. I think he knew all my friends before I did, especially here in Portland. People mentioned him all the time, but I never seemed to run into him. But then last year we crossed paths at a writer's conference, and then again a couple months ago at a fundraiser and then, finally, we went to coffee together and now, I can honestly say, we are friends. Finally! 

Tony agreed to write this guest post for BHR, and I was surprised when I read it. Surprised because I was moved by it, and it challenged me. I probably shouldn't have been surprised. People are saying a lot of highly complementary things about his new book, Neighbors and Wise Men. So, if you enjoy the post you should go check out his book.

In the meantime, here's Tony's website and his Twitter account

Enjoy!

People are everywhere.  You know what I mean?  I can’t seem to get away from them.  Take downtown Portland for instance.  Downtown Portland is full of them.  It is like walking through an anthill or living inside a pinball machine.  Bodies everywhere. 
            Most of the bodies don’t even know I am there.  They are content with the companionship of their agenda or their handheld mobile devise, so I return the favor. 

            Okay, here’s the deal. I don’t even remember his name.  Truth be told, I don’t think I ever took the time to learn his name. This is just the beginning of my sickness… I mean… well, more on that later.
            I was downtown. It was maybe 8:30pm on a Thursday evening.  I had managed to find street parking (score!) just a few blocks away from Jake’s Grill on Tenth Street (not to be confused with Jake’s Famous Crawfish, which is up on Twelfth.)  I was hurrying to meet my friend Wilson.
            It was a lovely evening, warm, and the streets were hopping.  I was on my cell phone chatting with an old roommate from college named James.  We hadn’t spoken in years and we were getting caught up. I passed the culinary school and came to the corner just across from Jake’s.  The grill is situated on the Northwest corner of the old Governor Hotel, a beautiful landmark just ten blocks from the Willamette River.
As I strode onto the sidewalk, I could see Wilson through the window.  I waved with my free hand and prepared to enter the brass and glass doorway.
Before I could reach the handle a tall figure suddenly blocked my path.  He was a few inches taller than me with scraggly blonde hair and a soiled red flannel.  His hand was extended and his eyes were pleading.
“Hold on a second,” I said to James.
            “What do you want?” I asked tersely but politely to the gangly man.
“Do you have a dollar?” he replied.
“A what?”
“A dollar.”
“What do you want a dollar for?”
“I’m hungry.”  He said it matter-of-factly.  Then he paused. I watched his mental gears turn.  I just waited; both James (still sitting on the other end of the handset) and I sat silently. Finally he continued, “There is a place up on Eleventh that sells pizza by the slice.  Good pizza.  And I am hungry.”
“(Hold on a minute James), okay, let me get this straight, you are looking for money for food?”
“Yessss.”
“And you can get a slice of pizza for just a dollar?”
“Well, no… no, you can’t.”
“What can you get a slice for?”
“Ummmm, three dollars and fifty cents.”
“So do you need one dollar or do you need three dollars and fifty cents?”
He looked genuinely puzzled, not because he didn’t understand, but maybe because he had never been interrogated like this before.  “Well, I guess I need three dollars and fifty cents.”
“Okay then,” I said, “let me see if I have the change.”  Using my one free hand, I scratched through my wallet and front pocket and soon handed the man three one-dollar bills and two quarters.
As I placed the money in his hand, his eyes were wide as a pepperoni slice.  He balled the money in his fist, flashed a full smile and turned to clunk back up the sidewalk.
Poor James, he had just sat through the whole thing.  I am sure it was quite a drama to behold through the handset.  Unfortunately the drama was not over.
As James and I tried to restore our dialogue, I once again heard the sound of the gangly man’s boots, but they were not headed away from me… they were headed directly for me, at me with intention.  He had target lock.
With a single motion he rose up in front of me and swung his right arm around.  He struck me with force on the left shoulder, the same arm, by the way, that held my mobile phone against my ear.  His face was intense but his eyes were kind. I know now that his intent was gratitude, not assault.  All the same…
The blow sent my phone sailing untethered into the air and then crashing to the sidewalk some eight feet away.  Plastic-formed and electro-fancy pieces cracked and bounced in separate directions.
And then the sound…
Like the cry of the humpback whale came the gangly man’s voice from behind me.  I spun to see him: body limp, jaw hung and clinched knuckles dug into the rubbery centers of his cheeks. “What have I done?! What have I done?”  His eyes now fixed on the disparate phone pieces around the sidewalk.  He couldn’t stop wailing. The sidewalk stopped and gawked.
Then, in a moment for which I could not have predicted, nor could I take credit.  I bent down at the waist.  I got low enough so I could look up into the gangly man’s face and somehow snag his gaze. “Look at me.  Look at me!”
Finally, he snapped from his horror and looked into me.
“Look at me.  You are a person.  Do you hear me?  That is a phone, just a phone.  You are a person. You are a person.”

Most days I walk around in a trance.  In my trance I divide the humans I pass into two categories.  Some are filed away as “people” but if I am honest, most are dismissed as “objects.”  These objects are of no more consequence than a lamppost or a mailbox, mere obstacles of inconvenience.
Then the gangly men come along.  The gangly men are the conduits of God’s grace. They rescue me from my trance.  They remind me that I am not just an object.  I am a person.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cat Arrested in South America for daring prison break attempt

You may have already heard about the recent incident where a kitty tried to break some people out of prison by packing in some files, a cell phone and so on. This "do it yourself" prison break kit was duct taped onto the cat.

Here's a video of the cat getting strip searched:



If that cat could speak, I'm 95% certain we would hear several of the following comments:

1) PLEASE DON'T USE DUCT TAPE when you put that stuff on me. Please!

2) Everyone keeps saying I can't talk. Did it ever occur to you that maybe I refuse to talk? Because I'm a tough guy? Because I'm not a stool pigeon? HUH? EVER THINK OF THAT?

3) Why do you keep calling me a "white cat"? That's racial profiling, man.

4) I don't understand. This totally worked last time.

I'm not sure what else the cat might say. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

For writers: a (free) replacement for Duotrope

Hey all you writers out there:

If you have been using Duotrope, you already know they have become a paid outlet. Duotrope, for those who don't know, is a great tool that allows you to search for magazine/web outlets that will publish your short stories or markets. They're now charging $50 a year, and if you use it regularly I have no doubt that it's well worth it. It really is a great tool.

If you don't have the cash, a new upstart site that does much the same thing is The Submissions Grinder. I just signed up for it. It's in beta, so may take a couple months to really get up and running, but there's good potential for it to be a useful tool to those looking for places to send their short stories.

Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

DISLIKES: GLITTER AND WEBMD (Guest post from Shelby Abbott)


The following post is an excerpt from a book by my friend Shelby Abbott. He's funny, entertaining and has deep thoughts about life, spirituality and movies. I look forward to going to the movies with him later this spring, as has become our tradition when we're hanging out together. Shelby's book is called I'm Awkward, You're Awkward. Enjoy this excerpt!

Glitter might be one of the worst inventions ever created by man. You might think that I’m joking, but I’m as serious about this as Darth Vader was about turning Luke to the dark side in The Empire Strikes Back.

If I ever run for office, the bedrock of my campaign strategy won’t be to balance the budget or fix the health care crisis. It will be the push for complete and total annihilation of the glitter department in the American greeting card industry.

Everybody’s got their one ultimate archenemy: Superman has Lex Luthor, the Red Sox have the Yankees, the democrats have Rush Limbaugh, Chuck Klosterman has Coldplay, and I have glitter. I once heard a comedian say that glitter was “the herpes virus of the crafting world…it just spreads everywhere.” I couldn’t agree more.

Three years ago, I got a birthday card in the mail that had glitter on it and when I opened it, it was like a New Year’s Eve party exploded all over my living room. There was glitter everywhere. Glitter on the carpet, glitter between the couch cushions, glitter on my shoes, glitter in my hair, glitter on my pillow…I was finding glitter scattered around every part of my life for months after I opened that despicable Hallmark birthday wish.

No joke: three weeks went by after I thought that I had finally gotten rid of it all, and I found a speck of glitter in a fresh pair of underpants when I was folding the laundry. Time froze as I held that contaminated pair of boxer shorts and I imagined a movie camera, rigged to a boom operator, zooming in close to my face and whirling around my entire body while slowly moving up toward the ceiling. I closed my eyes, extended both fists to the air (one clenching the underwear, of course) and let out a prolonged and dramatic, “Nooooooo!” Needless to say, I now let my wife open any and every greeting card that comes into our home. And if one happens to be infected with glitter, she is immediately forced to throw it in the trashcan and wash her hands in the basement utility sink not once, not twice, but thrice times. I think you’re hearing what I’m saying by now, right?

Although my disdain for glitter runs strong through my veins, there are a number of other things in this world that also cause me to grumble a bit. I’m a sinful pessimist by nature and things like traffic, crooked window shades, pieces of white fuzz on a black shirt, anything with Bill Maher’s name attached to it, the Greyhound bussing system, and men’s swim trunks with the sewn-in mesh tighty-whitey underwear all rub me the wrong way…sometimes literally. Yet another prime example of a certain something that I dislike (but still want to mention) would be the website, WebMD.

The good people over at WebMD, bless their hearts, have caused a significant amount of distress in my life over the last few years. I know that this is not their intention, of course, but the best intentions of a public medical website really have nothing to do with the fact that I constantly misdiagnose all of my illnesses based upon what information is spit out to me once I type a few of my problems into the “symptom checker”. There have been one too many times that I’ve run across the worst case scenario in that little online feature…like the time I thought I had kidney stones.

I woke up one morning with this pain in my side, right below my rib cage. It really didn’t matter which way I turned or positioned myself, the pain was pretty constant and moderately irritating. After nearly two whole days of living with this annoyance, I did what any internet-educated individual would do in my position—I submitted my symptoms online to WebMD and briefly waited to see the computerized list of my medical diagnoses. Well, at the top of the pile, there it was: “kidney stones”. I freaked.

After Googling my medical discovery, I quickly learned that passing a kidney stone was the male pain equivalent to giving birth. The stone passed one way and one way only, and that was by peeing it out in a long, slow, excruciating process. I freaked again and called to make an appointment with a doctor.

After sheepishly communicating my symptoms to the physician and a hasty look-see process by her on the horribly uncomfortable examination room recliner with the endless roll of disposable butcher paper, she told me that I, in fact, did not have kidney stones, but a small pulled muscle in my lower abdomen. She briskly gave me an unsympathetic look and a prescription for ibuprofen.

When I got home that day after my appointment, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I am so incredibly quick to put my faith in the most negative of all outcomes. I’ll believe the worst before I even come close to believing the best in any given situation that might require my faith. Do you sometimes find yourself in the same boat as me?

Prussian orphanage director and missionary George Mueller once said, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”

If I want to be a person of faith, then anxiety, worry, fear, and mistrust need to become a thing of the past for me. Mueller says that anxiety and faith cannot coexist at the same time, so when my instantaneous reaction to any little problem is a belief in the worst, I am not being a man of faith.

This is not the kind of life I want to continually live and it is certainly not the life that God calls us to as His followers.  He is asking us to be men and women of faith and to believe that even in the midst of the worst situations, He lovingly reigns over the entire universe with complete sovereignty.

I shouldn’t be so quick to believe the worst, and neither should you. Instead, I should position myself as a humble and faithful child of God that believes in His goodness and grace. As I do, my life will inevitably look different to any onlooker that wrestles with the same issues. And after that, opportunities naturally arise to speak with others about the God that has changed me to my core and offers me the opportunity to live in peace instead of turmoil.

All that being said, I wonder if that kind of faith can make me believe the best about the person or persons that invented glitter? My guess would be “no."

Monday, January 07, 2013

Sword of Six Worlds is NOW AVAILABLE in print!

FINALLY!

The Sword of Six Worlds is now available in print. Quite a few of you have asked me to give you the big announcement when it arrived. It's sold out twice already, so you may have to pre-order it while Amazon gets more stock from the publisher.

A man named Michael sent me a note that he had bought a copy for his son, and here's a bit of what he said on his blog:

 My son grabbed it and immediately started reading. It even trumped the handheld video game console he got for Christmas! If that isn't a high recommendation for an author, I don't know what is!
You can read his whole post here.

NEW STORYMEN PODCAST IS UP AND RUNNING

You guys. I totally neglected to tell you that the new StoryMen podcast is up and running and wonderful. But it is. And you can listen to it here.

I have to say, this is rapidly becoming of the most fun things I do, hanging out virtually with Clay and JR. and talking about pop culture, theology and history.

Any suggestions for topics/guests/conversations are welcome!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Hush little darling. Daddy is going to buy your silence.

My three-year-old daughter, M, likes to have an occasional song sung to her at bedtime. She especially likes it when Krista sings "The Mockingbird Song." I've tried to sing it to her, but she tells me that I get the lyrics wrong.

Here are the lyrics according to M:

Hush little baby, don't say a word
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird don't sing.
Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring don't shine,
Mama's gonna get you another diamond ring.
And if that other diamond ring don't shine,
Mama's gonna buy you another diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring don't shine,
Mama's gonna get you another diamond ring.
And if that other diamond ring don't shine,
Mama's gonna buy you another diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring don't shine,
You're still the sweetest little baby of mine.

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