Friday, December 29, 2006

winter conference

Hey gang, K and I are in Portland all this week for our winter conference. It's called Collide. The lead speaker for our first few days together is Bryan Loritts, and he really did a great job last night. I was sitting in the far back corner of the enormous auditorium and I still felt like I got hit between the eyes with his message. Good stuff.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Extreme Sledding... Mikalatos Style

My old nemesis Matt has taken a moment to come to the blog and mock my sledding. In reference to the picture on the left he says, "Looks like you're getting pretty intense there Matt. Trying to pull some sort of extreme sledding move?"

That just goes to show you how difficult it is to catch a good action shot. Of course Krista put the camera on "sport" which makes it look even slower. I would say I am going a good 16.09 KPH in this picture. I am not exaggerating. If anything I am negative-exaggerating.

I feel that I must now defend my Extreme Sledding... Mikalatos Style. I will do this through a clever combination of both pictures and commentary.

First, take a look at this vicious hill. My wife begged me not to try to tame it. But I said, "I am going to tame it anyway. Prepare yourself." Note the huge number of trees. To take a sledding trail like this requires either unparalleled skills or a fearlessness bordering on stupidity.

Here you see the fruits of my fearlessness. Note the brutal way that my disc lodged into the snow, sending me hurtling into those saplings. Note also the way that my glove and hat were discarded in mid-sled. I find that I have better control with one hand gloved and one "unsheathed". On the really difficult runs I'll discard one glove, my hat, both shoes, one sock and my pants. That's why some of the other sledders call me "White Lightning." I told them that I prefer "Greek Lightning." But they just laughed. I guess I am pretty funny (?).

If you fall, you have to get back up. You can see I am favoring my left foot a little bit in this picture. Turned out later I had broken my femur in five places. SLEDDING TIP: Sleds make good crutches. Just don't slip and fall, because your sled will think you want to sled some more. You can break your other leg that way! I learned that lesson the hard way.

I totally plowed into this little kid who was out on the slopes. We had a good laugh about it, though. Good thing I wasn't going any faster!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Thursday we went sledding on Mt. Hood... or as the kids call it, "Mountain Hood."

A is completely fearless. Z took a half hour to warm up, but then she didn't want to leave. I almost convinced her to go down face first.

K's parents came and so did Cousin J. It was a fun afternoon, and the kids are begging to go again.

Krista and her mom made chicken salad sandwhiches for the hungry sledders and Krista's dad brought his camp stove and made fresh hot chocolate. We all had fun.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Peace Child

Here's my favorite Christmas song this season. I love the lyrics and the music, as well. As Krista will tell you, I am quite possibly the pickiest music critic of all time, particularly for being a guy with no real musical training. Just cranky, I guess. But this song is great. Lyrics below. I would tell you where you can buy the song but I literally do not know. I got it on the "Happy Christmas Volume 2" CD.

Peace Child (O Come Emmanuel)
copyright The Normals
written by Andrew Osenga and Mark Lockett

Take me to that place where we’re children again
And we crawl on the lap of the Peace Child
Take me to the land where love is discovered
With the prince undercover as the Peace Child

And the poor can now see
How a king can believe
In a kingdom that cradles the broken

O come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
From lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

We look to be upright as we grasp for a chance
But we’re too dirty to dance with the Peace Child
But the sunset and its red floods the world with its rays
Like the blood of the babe of the Peace Child

And the dead can now sing
At the throne of the king
'Cause heaven is full of us peasants

O come, o come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
From lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

Until the Son of God
Came near.

Christmas Devotion

There's a new devo up at I wanted to give some Christmas thoughts without it being the same Christmas thoughts you've already received from your devotional books, messages and music. So I took a quick look at the theme of submission that is seen throughout the Christmas story and the life of Jesus. Take a look.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fortune Cookies

After "Zoo Lights" tonight we went with the kids and my Mom and Dad to Shanghai Noble House for dinner. After dinner, Z loves to have me read the fortune cookies to her. Here's our conversation tonight.

Z: Dad! What does this fortune say?

Me: "You believe in the basic goodness of mankind." Is that true? Do you believe in the basic goodness of mankind?

Z: Oh, no. I believe in the basic goodness of girl-kind.

Friday, December 15, 2006

We Are Famous

At last, the moment we all have been waiting for. The Burning Hearts Revolution has been featured in a newspaper article. All this thanks to the PR-savvy poet laureate of Arizona, Michelle Lawrence.

What's next?

I was thinking we'd start out small with a television show, probably a half hour sitcom. After that we'll work up to a dramatic hour-long show, and then, of course, a movie. Maybe a series of movies. You guys can all be in it, since you have been such devoted friends when I was a nobody.

"The Office" Christmas Party

Today was the official Portland Headquarters Party.
Most-Coveted-Gift-At-The-Exchange: A hand-thrown vase by Terry Kinkaid.
Krista and I scored a Starbucks card and some chocolate.

Top 5 Certainties at a Kid's Christmas Performance

Last night was A's Christmas performance. She was very cute. I'll put some pictures up later. In the meantime I thought you would like to share in a few rules of Christmas Performances that I noted last night:

1) The front row of the auditorium will be reserved for "staff." No, they don't have any children in the performance. They won't fill the seats. They don't want pictures of the children. They just want the seats.

2) As a sort of corollary to rule #1, parents will sit on the floor and in the aisles to try to get a picture of the children singing.

3) Which is a little bit of an exaggeration, "children singing." More like, "children standing on the stage and swaying, looking around, trying not to fall off the bleachers and occasionally singing."

4) No matter how hard you try not to, you will eventually end up with a photograph or video footage of the teacher's rear end as (s)he goes up on stage to say something to the children.

5) Your kid will always be the cutest one at the event.

Become a Christmas Expert: Krampus

You may not know about Krampus, but I can guarantee you that the children of Austria know him. He's Santa's sidekick, the one who does all the less pleasant Christmas duties. You know, like putting coal in stockings and hitting bad kids with switches.

Description: horned head, foot-long tongue, hooved feet. Hmmm.

Krista said, "He looks evil." This is the nicest picture I could find of him. This is the sort of cute version from old postcards.

Note to Missionaries: If you are creating a Christian festival to take place at the same time as a pagan ritual, please be sure to get rid of critters like Krampus.

Maybe You Could All Pitch In For My Christmas Gift

For only twenty-five million dollars you can buy me a week at the international space station. Check it out here.

Or, for only two-hundred thousand, here's a chance to take a brief spaceflight.

Or you could, you know, buy my house.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rob E, poet laureate of Missouri

Rob was born nowhere near Missouri. He lived there until he traveled even farther from Missouri. He began writing abstract poetry at the age of 13 months, but untrained eyes saw only splotches and scribbles. Thusly frustrated in his early literary efforts, he spent the next several years learning "words" and "sentences." It was not until his 15th year that Rob again attempted to express himself in verse (excepting an award-winning poem called "A Book Is Your Key to Wonderland", written at the age of 8, which he still refuses to acknowledge as his own work). Rob spent 6 years in college (not in Missouri), until he almost completely despaired of the possibility of any sort of meaningful linguistic expression. During this time, Rob became enamored of something called "music," even daringly combining "music" and "poetry" into creations he called "songs." Missouri? Not yet. Finally, Rob moved out of the US (even farther from Missouri). Two years later, he returned briefly to the US (at which time he visited Missouri), then went back overseas, fell in love and married a woman who also had once driven through Missouri. He currently lives in a log cabin surrounded by a field of cows, planning his inevitable return to Asia, where "Show Me" actually means "skinny rice."

Rob has asked that I not reveal his last name, prompting me to adopt the name "Mister E" for him. I plan to eventually switch to calling him "O Mysterious Master of Missouri", but I plan to do this over the span of a few months so he doesn't see it coming.

I asked Mr. E what it would take to make poetry flower in the state of Missouri and he said, "For poetry to flower in Missouri, it must be planted deep- deep in the hearts of its people. I will dig with the spade of heart-level questioning, digging through the soil of culture and psyche. I will plant seeds of imagery, simile, metaphor, rhetoric, and prepositional phrases and fertilize them with pop culture phrases. Watered by the tears of those who thanklessly labor under the cruel tread of Apollo's chariot, I will cultivate in Missouri a flourishing garden of poetry."

I think you'll enjoy the first seeds of poetry included below. We particularly enjoyed Mr. E's playful use of language and insider knowledge of Missouri. We could tell he had spent several minutes there at some point in his past... no doubt they were glorious, ephemeral, scintillating moments of unparalleled glory.

You Must Be Misstaken by Rob E, poet laureate of Missouri

You must be misstaken
For here is undertaken
To drink deeper than is tasted
If I cannot see,
Then you must
SHOW me.
And if no one else can see,
Then again,
you must
Show ME.
Land of Misst'ry,
Harbor from every
Urban-bred Missery.
Deep-breathing teller
Of heart-swelling story.
Heart of the nation...


Become a Christmas Expert: King Wenceslas

As promised earlier this month, I will try to give you some tips on becoming a Christmas Expert, to guarantee that you will have the most merry Christmas of anyone on your block.

Today's lesson is on "Good King Wenceslas". Statistics show that if you can spell "Wenceslas" you are in the top 10% of Christmas practicioners. If you can sing the entire first verse, knowing the words by heart, you are in the top 5%! And if you can sing the entire song by heart, you are in the top .5% of Christmas celebrants.

So, go on and memorize GKW! Just imagine the looks of undisguised admiration and envy your friends will give you when you are out caroling, and you say, "Let's sing Good King Wenceslas." They will say, "But we do not know the words." And you will say, "Behold! Listen and enjoy this, my Christmas solo!"

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.
"Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Advent Book

Every night during December, our family looks together at the Advent Book. It's written and illustrated by Jack and Kathy Stockman, friends of Krista's mom, and it's an amazing book. We love it, our kids love it, there's love all around.

Every day there's a different lavishly illustrated door to open, and inside is part of the Christmas story. It's a fun way to celebrate.

If you'd like to order the book you can do it here. Jack and Kathy will even sign the book! You can see more pictures of the Advent book here. Enjoy!

Humbly yours

I just finished my Hebrew final, which has left my brain feeling like it just had the biggest Slurpee Freeze of all time. It wasn't as bad as when I was learning a certain East Asian language... I actually looked at the questions I couldn't answer and said, "I know that's in my brain somewhere." I just couldn't shake it all out.

In other news, I've officially lost the Court TV crime writer of the future writing contest. Even worse, all the novels that are up for the final award actually sound better and are better written than mine. So I can't pretend it was lost in the mail or something. Go check it out, you can vote for the winner.

Special thanks to Rob, Alexis, Ken, Chris, Carolyn, Adam, Dan and Krista for reading my swill.

Now. Has someone been praying that I will get humility? You can be honest. It's working. I feel humble, sufficiently humble. You can stop praying now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

hard at work

FYI-- This Monday morning is my big Hebrew final. I need to be working hard at studying this weekend. So you shouldn't see any more posts from me this weekend. If you do, you ought to send me mean notes, comments or guilt-inducing phone calls.

I will post something meaningful, beautiful and/or hilarious in the week following.

Or, failing that, I will write all the regular junk I write.

hoo boy

I took an internet quiz tonight. It purported to tell me "What kind of American accent" I have. The answer to which--having grown up in California--I assumed would be "Golden, perfect Accent. You speak like a movie star. You are easily understood by all people, for your vowels are round and lovely and your consonants clear and crisp."

Instead, I got this. "You are 24% perfect as a girlfriend." I need to give him more room to "breath."

You can have all the room you want to "breath", buster. I'm a married man. And I have a perfect accent, which we all know is a rare commodity. Okay, okay. Maybe I am proving the point. I would be an awful girlfriend. With a lovely reading voice.

Special note to Larissa, if she's out there somewhere: I know I don't say "water" right. But we're talking about American accents, not British accents.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

T-M Baird, Poet Laureate of Ohio

T-M Baird is a graduate of Whitman College and the University of San Francisco, where she recently finished her MFA. Much of her life thus far has been spent traveling, hiking, and reading. In particular, she loves chasing around dead poets throughout the UK. Her work has appeared in"Void," "Switchback," and "Blue Moon."

Ms. Baird is very excited about her new appointment as Ohio's poet laureate.A lifelong fan of 19th-century Romanticism, Baird sees a lot of poeticpotential in the state of Ohio, which so beautifully embodies Wordsworth'snotion of the rural life, where "the essential passions of the heart find abetter soil in which to attain their maturity." She will be keeping an eyeout for new poetry coming out of that state, which is only a hop, skip and a jump from where she was born in Minnesota. T-M Baird currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon.

Our distinguished judges enjoyed all three of the poems that Ms. Baird sent in, but particularly fell in love with the last three lines of the poem below, "The Flock." If you would like to see more of Ms. Baird's work, take a look at the on-line magazine Switchback.

The Flock by T-M Baird, Poet Laureate of Ohio

There they sat, flat on silent feet,
unwittingly pastoral, stupidly sheep.
And as I approached,
not a fleece was flustered,
only grass stubble chewed—
what bland entertainment
that must make.
I settled along on shameless strides,
slow and even,as proscribed-
‘til a tingling-harsh collision thumped the back of my right side—
and a step I skipped,
smacked by a woolly thing
that could have been a sock,
or a soft, hollow mitten,
had it not been for the head,
the brain behind those glaring eyes.

I knew my fear,
I held it out before me
like a vest my mother had worn in battle,
but would not put it on—
‘til he struck again,
left cheek this time, and I simply wandered on,
past the others, toward the fence,
dazed, to helplessly watch him pass-
the brute,
heavy with wool and haggis,
standing fixed on a narrow path, from which he would not budge,
would not be bullied or begged away.

No, he will make his stocky way whichever way he please,
will clobber any passing biped, who so easily sees him coming,
hurtling toward her
like a ridiculous stuffed toy.
And she may laugh, but she cannot run,
for fear
of scattering panic over a quiet
close-trimmed field.

Figgy Pudding

I think it's important that I share some tips to having a Christmas that is better than that of everyone else around you. It's important that you know how, for instance, to make figgy pudding. So, here's a recipe for you. Maybe next week I will take you all a'wassailing or teach you all the words to "Good King Wenceslas". If someboday makes this be sure to tell me so that I can grill you for details.

NOTES: You can brown the butter and make the hard sauce up to 3 days ahead; cover separately and chill, then bring hard sauce to room temperature before serving. You can make the pudding up to 1 day ahead; cool, cover, and store at room temperature.

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours, plus 2 1/2 hours to chill and cool

1 1/4 cups butter
1 pound dried Mission figs, stemmed
3 tablespoons brandy
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar
Brown-butter hard sauce (recipe follows)

1. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Stir often until butter is deep golden brown with darker brown flecks, 5 to 8 minutes (if butter foams up in pan, remove from heat briefly until foaming subsides). Pour butter into a 1-cup glass measure; chill until solid, about 1 1/2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine figs, brandy, and 1 cup boiling water. Soak until figs have softened, about 30 minutes. Lift 1/2 cup figs from bowl and coarsely chop. Pour remainder, with soaking liquid, into a blender or food processor and whirl until smooth.

3. Scoop 1/2 cup solidified brown butter into a large bowl (bring to room temperature if necessary before using; reserve remainder for brown-butter hard sauce). With a mixer at medium speed, beat butter with granulated sugar until well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add puréed figs and beat until smooth.

4. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and beat at low speed until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Stir in chopped figs.

5. Scrape batter into a buttered 11-cup bundt pan; cover tightly with foil and secure with a rubber band. Place pudding in a 12- by 17-inch baking pan and set on bottom rack of a 350° oven. Carefully pour 2 inches boiling water around bundt pan, then cover entire baking pan with foil.

6. Bake until pudding feels firm to touch (peel back foil to check) and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then invert bundt pan over a plate to unmold pudding. Let cool until barely warm, then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into slices and serve with brown-butter hard sauce.

Per serving with about 2 tablespoons of brown-butter hard sauce: 445 cal., 30% from fat; 6.6 g protein; 15 g fat (8.5 g sat.); 75 g carbo (5.9 g fiber); 363 mg sodium; 113 mg chol.

Brown-butter hard sauce. In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat reserved solid brown butter from brown-butter figgy pudding (recipe precedes) until smooth. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat on low speed until well combined. Add 1 tablespoon brandy and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon into a bowl; serve at room temperature, or cover and chill up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature and beat again to restore texture before serving. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Per tablespoon: 66 cal., 62% from fat; 0 g protein; 4.6 g fat (2.9 g sat.); 6 g carbo (0 g fiber); 47 mg sodium; 12 mg chol.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

Sunset, DECEMBER 2004

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Poll

Question: When is the last time that you refused to leave your friend's house unless they provided you with "figgy pudding"?

a) Never
b) Just last week
c) If you had my friend's figgy pudding you would understand

Eva Ting, Poet Laureate of Massachusetts

Eva Ting is an Asian-American who's residing back in the motherland. She lives in a bustling city and splits her time between two jobs: working at an art gallery and starting up an NGO consulting company. Yes, the two jobs seem utterly unrelated, but....well, anyway.

When she's not working, Eva can be found dancing, watching movies, doing yoga, cooking food and/or eating food, drinking coffee (especially between the hours of 7 and 10 am), hosting parties, writing on her blog, reading friends' blogs (including this one!), googling random trivia, and just hanging with friends, usually involving loud laughter. The last book that she read and totally loved was Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler and the last movie that she watched and totally loved was "Nacho Libre." Eva has ambitions to save the world, or at least help fix the broken parts one bit at a time.

Eva studied English and journalism in college and her poetry writing has mostly been in the form of class assignments or silly rhymes for friends' weddings. This particular poem was written in college and refers to attending her grandmother's funeral in Taiwan. Eva hasn't fully developed her plan to cause poetry to flower in the glorious state of Massachusetts, but she's pretty sure it will involve a coalition of fellow poet laureates, blimps and possibly pyrotechnics.

You can visit Eva at her blog. Or the local Krispy Kreme.

Open Casket by Eva Ting, Poet Laureate of Massachusetts

A funeral summons me an ocean away:
My grandmother's face, complacent,
a foreign sight to my stranger's eyes.
Heavy incense drowning me in sweetness,
perfume of my past.
I remember sitting in my grandmother's lap
her stories of tricky rabbits
who outsmarted wolves,
filial children who walked barefoot
through blizzards
to find turnips for their hungry parents.
My grandmother's voice was raspy,
fuzzy sandpaper
surprisingly soothing
with the soft cadence of her island dialect.
I remember
celebrating birthdays
with cakes as big and round as a harvest moon,
the frosting clinging to my nose,
my grandmother beaming
and the light from the candles bouncing
off the fillings of her teeth.
I remember
my grandma visiting us in America,
the lines of her face weathered,
her voice hoarse,
her sentences broken,
the melody interrupted by a stroke.
She disrupted my life.
Her solid shadow could darken a room.
That smell of tiger balm and
mothballs she carried.
She sat in a dark room, alone,
eyes fixed on the television screen.
Out of wet eye corners,
she watched my brother and I talk,
so quiet we forgot she was there.
She loved sitting in our yard
as the day slipped into dusk:
the birds warbling,
her toes digging in the grass,
the blades tickling feet,
a hiccup of laughter
from the small woman in the lawn chair.
I remember
watching her figure
grow dim in the fading light,
catching her eye and seeing her shiny teeth,
Knowing her smile would linger
as everything else grew dark.

Originally published in "Clarion", the literrary magazine at Boston University.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Prayer For Burgerville

When employees at a fast food place mess up, you don’t get an apology as such. But there is a lot of praying. For instance, today my cheeseburger arrived and I noticed that the cheese hadn’t melted, which I thought was strange. So I took a closer look and discovered that the employees had forgotten to put a hamburger patty on the bun. That’s right, they gave me a cheese sandwich. Here is the response of the cashier…

Cashier: OH MY GOD, I’m sorry.

He took it back to the cook.

Cashier: Someone forgot to put the burger on this cheeseburger.

Cook: Oh my God! Sorry about that.

I hope he forgave them. It seemed like an honest mistake.

Michelle Lawrence, Poet Laureate of Arizona

Michelle Lawrence lives in Tempe, Az where she studies graphic design and journalism in the morning, is an Arts Reporter in the afternoon, and plays the djembe at night (amongst other things). All times in between she writes, takes photographs, paints and is endlessly creating. Some may call her a jack-of-all-trades, but she prefers to becalled Michelle, M, Elle, or Shelby Turtle. Well O.K, mostly justMichelle or M.

She is working on a book of poems called Paper Lions, and encourages anyone with publishing capabilities and a thirst for words to contact her. She is also working on a yet-to-be-titled novel based on the theme of anti-utopia. M has been known to say "Poetry is like windows to worlds that doors keep locked, everyone has the key...if they can find it". Grateful for the honor of poet laureate, silently and sometimes not so silently she jumps for joy.

Ms. Lawrence plans the flowering of poetry in Arizona by throwing seeds into the desert, reciting poetry from the mountain tops, and encouraging people of all ages to get in touch with their inner muse by way of P.E.E.L - Poetry Encouraging an Enriched Life. Peel back the layers people, find your key!! Her muse is inspired by the crossfire between her senses and brain, daydreams, night dreams, the forces of nature, her real and unreal past, present and future,and people; especiallyG.J.M.

Her poetry and artwork have appeared in several on-line zines. To read more of her words poetic, please visit

Down Reflection by Michelle Lawrence, Poet Laureate of Arizona

Tiny vessels. Daffodils, yellow and wilting. I clamor and shiver now,
thinking of holding those empty cups. I remember the broken violin
lying under piles of clothes, stepped upon and held in a bed of
symbolic tears. A bed that savagely kissed my forehead and said
Weeping never did me any good. Nor signing that piece of paper, nor the
magistrate who condoned giving my youth away, who mistook defiance for
love. So it was sanity caught behind caution tape and blinking lights.
Once I was living with rusty tin and flowers in my hair, put there by a
mother not my own. I was a trembling child in a cloud that could only

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Alexis Youngs, Poet Laureate of Washington

Miss Youngs doesn't know anything about poetry. She doesn't really 'get it,' you might say. She has some friends who might be considered real poets, and the only names that ever come to mind that can really be counted as famous poets whom she has read and greatly enjoyed are Shel Silverstein and Gerard Manley Hopkins. But she promises to seriously investigate the wild and wonderful world of poetry post-haste.

Other things about Miss Youngs: She likes doing dishes but hates cleaning floors, has been held up at gunpoint, has performed at the KennedyCenter, smoked her first cigarette while on the mission field and was coached in this (yes, coaching was necessary) by other – younger, cooler – missionaries, considers people between the ages of 2.5 and 8 to be among her favorites, and is the worst procrastinator known to mankind.

She would like to be, in the borrowed words of a friend, "brave enough to look squarely into the wild eyes of reality and let the frustrating inexorability of it all sink deep into her soul."

Miss Young's poem "I Used To Love My State Of Origin, But Now I Have My Doubts" brings child-like wonder (and condemnation) to the state that so closely mirrors the feelings of our judges that we were forced to choose her poem, if only to highlight our own ambivalent love affair with our adopted state.

Miss Youngs would also like to make it absolutely clear that the bruise she is sporting in the picture (above) was not received while playing a game of tag, which would be completely illegal. You can see more of Miss Young's thoughts, poetry and writings at

I Used To Love My State Of Origin, But Now I Have My Doubts by Alexis Youngs, Poet Laureate of Washington

Washington, named after George
Beautiful mountains and concerts at the Gorge
Apples, coffee, rain, and sun
Evergreen, ever-gray, laid back and oh, so fun
Until they outlawed playing TAG!!!

The End.

Jill James, Poet Laureate of New Jersey

Jill James is a poet slash foosball prodigy slash air guitarist who was also a 1987 middle school knock hockey champion. She currently resides in Portland Oregon with 4 wild animals: Ace, Tobio, Molinsky Fish and Jesse James the Sheepdog. Ms. James is an alumni of Montclair University, NewJersey, where she completed an independent study in poetry. She is presently working on a first book of poems, Lullabies for Lunatics, to be published on expired pharmaceutical prescription labels.

Ms. James has ambitious plans for her term as poet laureate, including new holidays (Love Poem Day, Haiku Day, Poems Not Bombs), a poem chain letter, a New Jersey Poets Anthology, and cereals with poem prizes inside.

Ms. James has a fresh voice and an ability to write about the experiences of life with a sense of humor and deep intelligence. Please enjoy her poem, Puberty, posted below.

Puberty by Jill James (poet laureate of New Jersey)

the Hungarian girl
still haunts me

she was ice skating
upside down on the sky
holding a pointy paper airplane cup
up like a hat to her pigtails

I considered her the prettiest
and the cutest boy in corderoy
thought she was sex-eeeee

but yes (you may have already guessed)
the father was
very strict

& something happened
something disgusting

like a rat chewing through the sun

maybe her pants were too tight
or maybe the lawless look in her eye

cause then
her lights went out
her flight got cancelled
she started to play the wrong notes
on the recorder and trip
on her rainbow shoestrings in the hallways

we had to leave her there
stumbling through her Tchaikovsky routine

losing the music

we were in a rush
and none of us
not one of us knew what to do

Friday, December 01, 2006

Winners of the First Annual I Want to be Poet Laureate Contest

I am pleased to announce the winners of our first annual contest to make sure that every state in the Union is represented by a poet. I want to start by saying how surprised I was by both the quantity and quality of poetry submitted. I'd also like to say that some States--for whatever reason--received a larger volume of quality submissions (particularly New Jersey and Arizona), which made it very difficult to decide the poets laureate for those states. In fact, I couldn't make a final determination for the state of Arizona, feeling that the final two poems were impossible to choose between. So, I made the decision to award the state of Arizona two poets laureate. I know, that seems unfair to all the other states, but the Muses have spoken and gifted the poets they deemed necessary to gift. Arizona must need a little extra poetry right now.

So, thank you to everyone for participating in the contest. You are doing a service to the one-fifth of the U.S. that suffers alone in a dark corner of poetry deficient Statehood.

Without further ado, here are the winners of our contest:

Arizona: Rebecca Furlano Losing My Mother and Michelle Lawrence Down Reflection

Hawaii: Chronos The Sleep That We Dream Of

Massachusetts: Eva Ting Open Casket

Michigan: Steph Tower of Babel

Missouri: Rob E You Must Be Misstaken

New Jersey: Jill James Puberty

New Mexico: Kasey Martin Spun

Ohio: T.M. Baird The Flock

Pennsylvania: Adam Struble What Crazed Eyes Have Already Seen

Washington: Alexis Youngs I Used to Love My State of Origin But Now I Have My Doubts

Congratulations to our new poets laureate. In the weeks to come you can expect to see an introduction to each of our poets as well as their prize-winning poems.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Beware of Elves

We cut down a Christmas tree this week. The kids loved running through the trees. I didn't see them much. But once, when A came back up to me, I gave her a stern warning.

Me: Be careful out there. Watch out for elves.

A: What elves?

Me: The tree elves.

A: Oh. Okay.

Then she ran off.

The Christmas Hierarchy

We were at a Mexican restaurant this weekend. In Mexico, you don't put the baby Jesus in the Nativity scene until Christmas.

Anyway, under the Christmas tree at the restaurant was a nativity scene and, just outside the circle of wise men and shepherds, Santa Claus on a sleigh. Z took a long look at it and then said:

"Santa Claus is waiting for baby Jesus to give him his orders."

I thought that was funny.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Casino Royale

We went to Casino Royale last night.

I'm not a huge fan of the Bond franchise overall. I've always thought he was a little silly. I can't really take it when Bond skiis down a mountain and jumps into a plane that's flying by, kisses the villainess and shoots the villain. Then he drinks a martini, blows up the plane and uses the parachute built into his watch to escape.

But, I have to say that overall I enjoyed this film. Bond is meaner, tougher, grittier and more human than in previous films. He could beat the stuffing out of all the other Bonds if you locked them all in a room.

Believe it or not, it deals somewhat realisitically with the world of violence and corruption that Bond runs in. The fight scenes make you cringe, because it's not cartoon fighting. There's blood on the knuckles (and the walls, and the clothes and everywhere else). And some of the characters have actual emotions as a result of seeing the violence. And Bond, who seems cold and aloof, is recognized as being a sick individual for "not caring" about the pain and violence.

Bond even has an emotional arc in the film, which is refreshing.

In fact, Krista and I agreed that the first 3/4ths of the film was really, really good. Of course it all falls apart in the last act... one of those last acts where everything makes sense for the ten minutes it takes to run across the screen and then fall aparts if you reflect on it for more than thirty seconds.

I had plenty of theories about how to make the last act better, but then K and I stopped at a bookstore last night and I took a look at the original novel... and they had already spruced it up considerably. I was, in fact, impressed by how far the screenwriters had taken it and fixed it up.

Conclusion: This is the best Bond film they've made. We could have done without several parts (the torture scene, for instance). But Bond is the most human we've ever seen him, and the part of Vesper (played by Eva Green) was a great foil for Bond.

PG-13: Intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity

Eavesdropping with Matt (imagined): The Casino Royale Writing Committee

Dedicated to the hard-working and no doubt underpaid screenwriters who penned the best Bond film yet.

Writer #1: We need yet another action scene.

Writer #2: But we've really hit the end of the movie. It should have a quiet resolution now.

Writer #3: I've written about fifteen minutes worth of quiet resolution but it just doesn't feel right.

Writer #1: We need some more action. Let's try to revive the already-resolved plot.

Writer #2: We already killed or arrested all the bad guys. I mean, we killed everyone who came near Bond.

Writer #3: You are thinking like a mere mortal, Writer #2! We are writers! We can do whatever we please.

Writer #1: What if we (deleted... spoilers).

Writer #2: But that makes no sense in the context of the film. It will destroy the characters.

Writer #3: It will cause everything to collapse into a Kafka-esque nightmare. We're not Pynchon. This is not "The Crying of Lot 49". Our conspiracies and plot must, at a certain level, make sense.

Writer #1: Nonsense. This is a movie. If we move it along quickly enough, if the action is engaging enough, no one will notice that we have thrown the plot, the characters and the real world out the window. No one will notice when the Very Smart people do Very Dumb things. They will notice only the bullets flying and things exploding, imploding, sinking, rising, et cetera.

Writer #2: You have a good point.

Writer #3: But what if someone comes to the movie and notices that we have massacred our own beautiful beginnings to provide just one more shoot 'em up ending?

Writer #1: Those sorts of people do not come to this sort of movie.

Writer #2: An excellent point.

Writer #3: Now, let us write. But we've run out of time. We'll have to do it at the next meeting. When shall we three meet again, in fire, lightning or in rain?

Writer #1: When the hurly burly's done, when the battle's lost or won.

Writer #2: That will be ere the set of sun.

All: Fair is foul and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air.


At the "Bond Girl" auditions

Director: Can you fit into this dress?

Murino: Yes, I think so.

Director: Are you willing to take that dress off?

Murino: Yes.

Director: Will you wear a bikini and ride a horse?

Murino: Yes.

Director: Are you willing to have at least one scene where you rise seductively from the sea?

Murino: Of course.

Director: Are you willing to play a character who will be used and tossed aside with about as much attention as Bond gives to an empty pistol?

Murino: I would love that!

Director: You're hired!

Murino: Do you want to know if I can act?

Director: Why would I care about that?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

Today is called Black Friday, in honor of the fact that it is one of the largest retail days of the year. I think you might have more fun celebrating Buy Nothing Day.

Also, I would like to protest using the words "Black Friday" as a celebratory term, since there are plenty of reasons we should leave it for tragic moments in history.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


For my wife, who makes life more than what it was before.
For my kids, who have brought joy and blessing.
For the beginning of the Christmas season.
For my parents, who moved to WA just to be near us.
For Krista's parents, who have been like new parents rather than "in-laws".
For my teammates, whose lives show me ways to become more Christ-like.
For my stinters, who remind me what it means to be passionate about serving God.
For my Wednesday night buddies.
For Chris "the Omnivore" who will be my friend no matter how often I forget his birthday (happy birthday).
For my sisters, twice the fun!
For my two brothers-in-law and my one sister-in-law.
For my two nephews!
For my SZ family... let's get together soon.
For my school.
For the BHR community, you wacky, wacky people.
For our many friends close to home and around the world.
For the Lord Jesus Christ, maker of heaven and earth.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On the Road to Korea

I'm starting a new blog. That's right. And it's a work blog. Yes. So I can blog while I work, like some sort of 21st century dwarf. Hiiii Hoooooooooooo! Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to blog I go...

Anyway, it's for CM2007, which is an enormous world missions conference in South Korea this summer. Feel free to drop by!


How is it possible that there could be someone in the world that I so clearly identify with?

I don't need to go see Casino Royale now. I'm just going to sit back and imagine the Craig Ferguson version.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

Will Ferrell stars in a movie about a man who can hear the narrator of his story. And he hears his narrator mention his "imminent death" which leads him on a journey to discover his life again.

And of course he has to fall in love, discover his genre, see a shrink, yell at disembodied voices and so on.

In the midst of it all, this movie actually works really well. You've never seen Will Ferrell like this before (unless you are his Mom, in which case, "Hi, Mrs. Ferrel!"). He's serious, nuanced and funny. No slapstick, no mugging for the camera. Maggie Gyllenhaal was spectacular, making you wish you knew the character she played so you could all just hang out at a bakery and enjoy some sort of crazy scones together. Emma Thompson is great as the narrator with a penchant for killing off her characters, and Dustin Hoffman, likewise great as the literature professor that Ferrel enlists to help him discover his genre. Queen Latifah somehow landed the only role that is played completely straight, and she does it well. I was amazed by the whole thing.

The best part about this movie is the way it balances the humor and the poignant emotional moments. The acting is terrific and the writing and directing are great. The whole "I can hear the narrator" bit is inconsistently enforced and essentially abandoned in favor of the love story, but I didn't mind. I actually wondered at some point if it wouldn't be better as two separate movies... the sweet romantic comedy and the fourth-wall-breaking thriller/comedy. But to be honest, it was balanced well enough to enjoy both. I'm usually one to prefer the fourth-wall-breaking over the romantic comedy, but the romance bits were so well scripted and acted that I found myself wishing for more of that and less of the author-in-crisis moments.

Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed this movie immensely. It was fun, sweet, silly, deep, nuanced and enjoyable. Go see it!

A Good Day

I took today off, since I've been away for a while. I spent the morning with Krista and the kids, and then in the afternoon we dropped the kids off at Mom and Dad's house. We went shopping for some Thanksgiving treats, and then K suggested the bookstore. And then we went to dinner and discovered the best Thai food we've had so far in the Portland area...Dok Koon. We had pad thai, yellow curry and coconut sticky rice. My mouth is watering again. It was like eating in Thailand.

Then K suggested a movie, so off we went to see Stranger Than Fiction, which was actually quite good.
And I got to IM with Ken, which was fun. And now I'm blogging in bed. Ha! Life is good.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Children and the Baby Python

While I was out of town, Krista took the kids to see "Steve and the Creature Feature" at Z's school. Here are some pictures of Z and A holding and smelling an albino baby python. Pythons smell like buttered popcorn and feel like plastic. So if you're ever walking through the jungle and you start to think, "Mmmm, I could go for some popcorn right now"... RUN!


Any major collision will change your life forever, whether it's a car, a plane, an atom or two people in a grocery store. But this December in Portland, Oregon, there will be a collection of people who are interested in the question, "What happens when a human being has a headlong collision with God?"

Here's the website with all the info.

Here's the blog.

Here's the facebook group.

Check it out.

No Mo Po (etry)

The submission period for the First Annual "I Want To Be Poet Laureate" contest has officially come to an end. I will now print them all off, put on my wading boots and dig deep into the sea of words you've sent in. I expected approximately twelve poems, and am glad to say that you all sent in something closer to a hundred poems.

I'll do my best to have all the winners listed and contacted by December 1st!

King of Cartoons

I just returned home tonight from Reno, Nevada, where I spent a week with many of my beloved co-workers and didn't give even one slim penny to the money-grubbing casino fat cats.

Waiting for me upon my arrival home was (in addition to my three favorite ladies) a copy of my latest story in the Wittenburg Door. It has a very funny little cartoon next to it, so I thought I'd go see if I could find the artist on the web. His name is Jerry King, and apparently he's an accomplished cartoonist.

I thought that was cool. And his illustration goes prefectly with my story. I laugh every time I look at it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Politics I'm Passionate About

Quasinaut01 sends an update on the political race we were all watching: incumbent vs. homeless man on the Ashland, Oregon, city council.

Be sure to note that the loser outspent the winner by a "ration" of 20 to 1. I'm not sure what that means. A "ratio" would make sense, though.

Just humor me and pretend to care

You can go see the new trailer for Spider-man 3 here.

I thought the first one was mediocre, and that the 2nd one was great.

Number 3 has an okay look to it. I always wonder, though... why does every "3" movie have to have three villains? Seems stupid to me. Oh well.

Sandman looks cool, though. And I'm glad that Harry Osborn isn't going to get a big dumb helmet like his Dad had in the first one. Mixed feelings on the black suit showing up already. I'll give it a shot, though.

Which means that Krista will have to go, too. Ha ha!

p.s. I was kind of hoping for the Lizard and Werewolf by Night. I guess there's always Spider-man 4.

Exclusive Story by Z and A Mikalatos

I've been teaching my kids to tell their own stories. We've been using the simple formula of: "Pick a good guy, pick a bad guy, pick a problem." I've also been introducing them to the oral traditions of our culture by telling them the story of Star Wars (which they've never seen).

So, here's my favorite story that the kids have come up with so far:

"Obi-Wan Kenobi got up in the morning and got dressed, but when he looked in the drawer... NO SOCKS! He looked in the dirty clothes... but no socks! He looked under his bed... and saw Darth Vader curled up under there, holding Obi-Wan' socks! Obi-Wan tried to get Darth Vader, but Darth Vader ran down the stairs and outside. Obi-Wan tried to follow him, but... he didn't have any socks, so he couldn't put his shoes on. The End."

The only thing I would add is Darth Vader saying, "Do not underestimate the power of the Dark Side." The Dark Side is just mean.

Pearls Before Swine

Click for a larger view. Or go here for more Pearls Before Swine.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Today I received my third-ever paycheck for writing. Hooray! It's not enough to buy an ocean liner, but then again, I don't want an ocean liner. It is enough to pay a bill, though, and that's nice.

So, feel free to support the fine folk at Wittenburg Door, who are so kind as to occasionally pay me for writing.

P.S. They totally spelled my name right on the check. AND they fixed it on the website. They are good, good people.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

adopt a pet

I know you all want to have mascots for your teams and whatnot. Here's a fun place to get one:

adopt your own virtual pet!

A Quote from My Wife

Me: (That guy) can talk a lot once he gets started.
My Wife: You are a lot like that guy.

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

I voted today. I'm sure that all of you did.

I'm sure, like me, that you are eagerly anticipating the epic battle in Ashland, Oregon between the incumbent city councilman and his rival... a local homeless guy.

Don't worry, we'll keep you updated.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Ape That Cried "Fire!"

Now that we have a gorilla in the house, I'm very interested to see what kind of problems they cause, and what is the correct discipline for them.

Here's an interesting story: Panbanisha the bonobo (pictured at left)pulled a fire alarm at her facility. The fire fighters arrived to discover a serious lack of fire. Panbanisha was promptly scolded, and the facility is now putting covers on all their fire alarms to prevent the apes from pulling the alarms.

My response: Well, I think that scolding the ape afterwards is much less effective than a little education on the front end. They should teach the apes that it's okay to pull the fire alarm, so long as there is actually a fire. Boy will those researchers feel stupid if a fire comes in the night, and when they get there in the morning they find this charred ape carcass right by the alarm, but its poor ape fingers couldn't lift the cover to call the firefighters.

Education is the key here. Unlike stupid robots, apes can be taught these things.

In Which I Complain About Automated Phone Systems

Why is it that automated phone systems say things like:

"Input your 16-digit code and then press the pound key."

Shouldn't they just know when you hit the 16th button that this is, indeed, the entire code? Can't these robots count?

Stupid robots.

Poets Laureate Confessional

I have to be honest that when I started the first annual "I Want to Be Poet Laureate" contest, it was meant to be this sort of tongue-in-cheek joke. I thought that a few friends might send in a limmerick about Arizona, or a silly three liner about New Jersey (thanks, Rob E!).

But now it's a real contest. I forgot how earnest and serious poets can be. It's been a true pleasure to get some poetry by people who take it very, very seriously. So seriously that they would never use the word "very" twice in a row like that.

And in response to my public challenge, even William Carlos Williams sent in a poem. I was suprised that he chose "The Red Wheelbarrow" since in later life he came to reject all that the Imagist movement stood for, but I suppose he's had lots of time to think about it, being dead and all. I suppose he really understands now how much depends on a red wheel barrow that is slicked with water and beside some chickens. White chickens. (Note to WCW: My wheelbarrow is blue, actually, but I know what you were going for.)

All that to say, keep the contributions coming. I've received well over thirty poems now, but that means there are some states with only a few poems. Remember, the deadline is November 15th, a scant ten days away.

And hey-- if you posted a poem but didn't give me a way to contact you (i.e. an e-mail address) you can still rectify this monstrous error by sending me an e-mail (matt.mikalatos (at)

Gracias, everyone. Stay strong and every state of the union shall have a poet laureate.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Can we leave this here overnight?

I cannot believe how funny this is. Some jokers in Sydney, Australia decide to sneak the Trojan Horse into various places to see if anyone has learned their lesson from history. There are two four-letter words for those of you who don't want to hear that (and those of you who particularly like it, I guess).


I am so proud to be Greek right now.

via Mir and the Claw.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Several Advantages Of Owning A Gorilla

A few days ago I decided that we needed a gorilla in the house. So we got one, but he's not very smart. He thinks the kids are bananas. When the kids yell at him, he gets scared because he's afraid of little girls. And also, he thought they were bananas. Screaming bananas are frightening, I suppose.

There are many advantages to having a gorilla. For instance, if the kids start crying, I just say, "Stop it! You're upsetting the gorilla." That works right away. And if the kids get scared of someone coming into the house, I say, "Do you think the gorilla is going to let someone walk in the front door, right by his cage?" Of course not!

Tonight the kids decided they would name the gorilla Caramel. I thought this was a dumb name. "He has black fur, not caramel-colored fur. Why would you name him Caramel?"

"Because he likes caramel-covered bananas," they replied matter-of-factly. Which is true. So what could I say to that?

You know what else I love about having a gorilla? When I am walking home from the kindergarten where A and I went to pick up Z, and Z starts to talk about her gorilla and one of her friends says, "Do you really have a gorilla?" She says, "Of course I do." The kids look at me, and I say, "It sleeps on the love seat in the front room, in the cage." I think Z is probably famous at school.

Don't get me wrong, there are disadvantages, too. For instance, tonight Caramel took a bath and left so much hair in the tub that the kids refused to bathe.

But mostly, having a gorilla is pretty nice.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mikalatos For Sale

The new issue of Wittenburg Door comes out today, and I have a story in it called, "Heaven's Suggestion Box."

Or at least, some guy named Mike Mikalatos does. Now my brand recognition is going to go down, because everyone is going to think that Mike and I are some brother-brother writing team. That's okay, though. Mike can write all the hard, edgy stuff and I'll write the children's books. Together we shall rule the publishing world!

Congratulations, Mike, on your first publication!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

And now, A word from our Sponsor(s)

I am very pleased to announce that the Omnivore Digest has signed on as one of the proud sponsors of the First Annual "I Want To Be Poet Laureate" competition.

The word they would like to share: Hair-product.

Yes, I also think that the hyphen is a bit of a cheat and that they really took two words, but they are the only sponsor we have, so we can give them a little leeway.

Theology with My Daughter

A: Daddy, my teacher said that when Jesus comes back there won't be any night. Is that right?

Matt: Yeah, that's right. There won't be any night, because Jesus will be the light. We won't even need the sun. Isn't that weird?

(She thinks about this for a while.)

A: Is it because of his legs?

Matt: What?

A: Is it so bright because of his legs?

Matt: I don't understand.

A: Are his legs so white that it makes it so we don't need any sun?

Where does this come from? I don't know.

Eavesdropping With Matt (Episode Thirteen...spooky)

Dedicated to the worker at Hollywood Video, who had dressed in black and then wrapped a black t-shirt around his face. He then--in front of his co-workers who were dressed as a witch and a wedge of cheese--attempted to do an ill-advised flip behind the counter and landed on his ninja rump.


Cheese: That was almost awesome! Ha ha ha!

Ninja: Shut up!

Witch: Do it again!

Ninja: Shut up!

Cheese: You better watch it or we'll both get a shuriken to the forehead!

Witch: Ha ha haaa!

Footnotes are Fun

For the third week in a row there's a new devotional over on

Future guest devo-writers (confirmed) include:

Ralph Cooley
Krista Mikalatos

Future guest devo-writers (unconfirmed):

Billy Graham
Jurgen Moltmann

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hints to Win the I Want To Be Poet Laureate Contest

Hint #1: Please remember that I am sending the winning poems on to the governors of the respective states. Poems with names like "Why I Will Beat the Jelly Beans Out of Partisan Politicians" are not likely to make a positive impression in many states. Now, unlike a regular poet laureate, the governor can ignore you completely. But still, that means the subject matter of your poems does matter a little bit. I'm not saying that it can't be political, I'm just saying, remember, you will be the representative of poetry for your state. One or possibly two children will look up to you as an example of the Poet.

Hint #2: If you do not either include or e-mail me your name and a way to contact you, I can guarantee that you will lose the competetion. Even if you have the best poem out of all of them. I don't care if your name is William Carlos Williams, you will not win if you don't give me a way to contact you.

P.S. William Carlos Williams, if you would like to enter the competition, I prefer that you give me an e-mail address. I have a thing about not doing seances or using necromancers or other practicioners of the dark arts. I know this is probably inconvenient, what with you being dead and all, but then, you had your shot at being a laureate, didn't you? And you never served your term, Mister. So it's e-mail for you, Will. Gracias.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Here are a couple of real-life products.

I particularly like the statuette where Jesus is playing basketball with the kids. "Try and get it, kids! C'mon, you can do it... or did I create you too short? Ha ha ha! Jump higher, come on!"

Note to the BHR community: Unless you have the gift of healing, please don't play soccer in your sandals.

In that last one I am not sure why they didn't go all the way and give Jesus a helmet and football uniform. He seems to be playing on the yellow team, but it's hard to say, what with the white robe. And really, to be theologically correct, I am guessing that kid on the other side might be a Christian, too, so there should be a second Jesus over there (?). It sure is confusing when God gets involved in sports.

Whew. Okay. Let me pause and wipe the tears from my eyes. Those are pretty funny. For some reason the baseball one didn't seem that funny. I can dig that, Jesus teaching some kid how to play baseball. Sure. But playing a cruel game of keep away is spectacularly great.

Then we have this swell footgear. Now, when I first saw it I laughed pretty hard. But as I am reflecting on it, I am starting to like it. I am thinking I might go see if these are still available somewhere. I have totally been brainwashed! I don't know how they did it. I must admit that I still laugh imagining the wearer of these flip-flops as the main character in the "Footprints" poem. "I noticed in the hardest moments in my life there was only one set of footprints... and that it no longer said 'Jesus loves you' in the sand."

There's more where this came from. Laugh or be creeped out. Or start shopping. The choice is yours.

The Subject of My E-mail is "Other"

I sent Governor Gregoire an e-mail tonight telling her about the First Annual Poet Laureate Contest. Here's the e-mail:

"Dear Mrs. Gregoire:

First of all, thank you for governing our fair state. I will say that overall I am pleased with the priorities and direction of the state and am proud to live in Washington, even though my friends in Portland make a big deal about driving “all the way to another state” to see me in Vancouver.

I am also pleased to know that education is such a high priority to you and your administration. I taught American literature once-upon-a-time, so education is important to me.

I noticed recently that Oregon, after a ten-year hiatus, announced Lawson Inada their new poet laureate. This got me to thinking, and I went off to research who the Washington poet laureate might be, only to discover that we are one of ten states that does not have an official state poet.

Knowing how busy you and all the other governors are, I decided it would be fun to put together a poetry contest and invite people to become the unofficial poets laureate of the poet-less states. I guess you could say this is my own way of “Moving Washington Forward!”

You can see the contest rules and so on at this website:

I apologize that I won’t be providing a professional poet with lots of publication history to be poet laureate. I may not, in fact, even be delivering a Washingtonian to be poet laureate. But I figured an amateur poet laureate from another state was better than no poet laureate at all.

I will send you a letter when the contest is over, introducing you to our new, unofficial poet laureate. If you would like to send them a note, an autographed picture or a poem of your own we would be extremely grateful. And don’t worry! I am glad to keep holding the contest once a year until we have an official poet laureate. In the meantime, if there is anything you would like to communicate to the contest participants, I would be happy to pass on your thoughts.


Matt Mikalatos

p.s. Please give my regards to the First Gentleman."

Of course you all will be the first to know if she (or, of course, a staff person) writes back. As I surfed the Washington state website, I couldn't help but think that Governor Gregoire and her husband ("The First Mike" they call him on the website) seem like fun people to hang out with. Who knows? Maybe she will want a photo shoot with the new poet laureate and I can tag along for kicks. I tried to put a photo up so you could see the first family, but it didn't work, so you'll have to follow the links. They look fun, don't they? I think they will understand the spirit of our contest. Hey, maybe one of them will enter!

Latest Hebrew Score


That's right, kids. 90%!


Get Smarter Now: Seminary Quotes

I have this great theology teacher who is immensely intelligent, has a deep love of both God and people and, inexplicably, is also Funny. I've been taking notes on some of the funny things he says, and since we just took our midterm in that class, I thought it was time to share the wealth. So, every Monday night I get to hang out, learn about God and laugh heartily at sayings like the following:

1. Don’t read your Bible. It’s corrosive to your faith and it messes up your prophecy conferences.

2. One of my least favorite things is fundamentalism.

3. If Jesus returns, put your exam in the recycle bin. Not in the trash, because Jesus cares about that.

4. They asked me my opinion. That was a mistake. Because I gave it to them.

5. Martin Luther was probably bi-polar. If he were around today we would put him on meds and the reformation would have never happened.

6. ‘Nuke ‘em for Jesus’ doesn’t ring quite true for me.

This is a fun class, and the guy is a great teacher. His name is Gerry Breshears. I told my wife, "I would be happy if, when I die, someone writes, 'Matt was like a dumb version of Gerry Breshears' on my tombstone."

New Devo

Continuing our stellar line-up of devotional providers at gnwstinters, our newest devotional is brought to us by none other than Carolyn Culbertson. Don't miss this rare internet post by one of our most elusive and insightful spiritual leaders.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

And now off to homework

Okay, I really am going to go do my homework. The kids are in bed now, and K is at class for another hour.

Before I went, though, I thought I'd let you know that I've decided to enter this contest. I've already written the first third or so of my novel, and I only need the first three chapters for the contest, plus a synopsis. I have a month to get ready, so you may get asked to read my chapters and give feedback if you have the time!

First prize is, of course, publication.

But homework first, right? Right, chum! To the Mattcave! dudududududududududu MATTMAN!





Take that, homework!

Latest Hebrew Score:


I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Midterm is next week, though! Yikes!

In other news, I'm off to the Switchfoot concert with Krista tomorrow night (and Shannon and Joe).

Anyway, got to go put my kids in bed, study, etc. Don't worry, I'll be back to prolific blogging soon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Here are the FAQs for the "I want to be poet laureate" contest:

What is a poet laureate?
I could give you a long explanation, but instead I’ll give you the wikipedia entry on poets laureate.

Is this a joke?
Are you laughing?

Can I submit previously published poems?
So long as you are not contractually obligated to give them exclusive rights, sure.

Can I submit more than one poem?
How about one per state. That means you can submit a maximum of ten poems.

Can I submit someone else’s poem?
Nope. Especially if you put your name on it.

Do I have to give you my contact information?
Only if you want to win. If I don't have your contact information, I can't get ahold of you. If I can't get ahold of you, I can't send you your victory junk. I won't be able to e-mail you for your address. I will just have to address the envelope to: "Winner of the Poet Laureate Contest." This will make me bitter and confuse the post office. So... no contact information = you are not the poet we seek.

Will I be the "official" poet laureate?
Well, that depends on how you look at it. None of these states currently have “official” programs to select poets laureate… but you will be the “only” poet laureate for that state. And I will print you up a nice certificate. That seems awfully official to me. I mean, all I got for graduating college was a certificate and a square hat.

I don’t want to submit my poem in the comments section because I figure you have creepy stalker-types on your site. Can I send my poem via e-mail?
Hey, pretty soon you might be poet laureate, so you should get used to being treated like royalty. So send your poems via e-mail to Matt.Mikalatos(at)

I have an extremely poetic sensibility and must send my poems only by snail mail, written by hand. What should I do?
No problem. E-mail me at Matt.Mikalatos(at) and I’ll reply with my address.

May I send my entry using my psychic powers?

Can I send bribes or lots of money to guarantee my spot as a poet laureate?
If you have lots of money you are clearly not a poet. Go away, this contest is not for you.

Do the poems have to be about one of the ten States represented in the competition?
No. They can be about anything you like (always remembering not to include porn, gore or gratuitious violence, cursing or poems about golf).

Can I use the word "Y" (where Y = some word that is potentially offensive but is not "on the list" of offensive words)?
Of course you can use that word. But you may not use it in the poems you submit to this contest.

What's the catch?
No catch, so long as you want to enter a poetry contest that pays nothing, gives silly prizes and a letter of introduction from a nobody blogger to a government official.

How frequently are these Frequently Asked Questions being asked?
More often than I ever realized was possible. I thought that three of my friends would send in some silly limmericks, and then you guys had to get all serious and turn this into an actual contest. Now I get questions all the time. Questions, questions, questions! Stop writing questions and start writing poems! Or write your questions in the form of a poem.

A 3-year-old's praise song (by my daughter, A)

The Holy Spirit fills the whole world
like a bird
with wings
there are wings everywhere
and also white refrigerators
and rainbows
and it's all so beautiful.

English Lessons

Z: I'm firsty.

Me: You're "firsty"? I think you're "thirsty."

Z: Yes, I'm firsty.

Me: Th, th, th, thirsty.

Z: Firsty.

Me: You have to stick your tongue between your teeth, like this: Th, th, th.

Z: Th, th, th, thfirsty. Firsty.

Me: I'll get you a drink.

Monday, October 16, 2006

new Devotional

I've put a new devotional up on the gnwstinters site. It's from my boss, Keith Bubalo. Alpha Dog himself! One of the greatest things about my job is having people like Keith Bubalo and Chip Scivicque as my bosses. In addition to teaching me a lot about what it means to be a godly person, they make me feel that the name Mikalatos falls into the "normal and easy to spell" category. Take a look!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Our Third Child

When you’re about to have a baby, a lot of things change in life. You start rearranging the furniture in the house, at least mentally. You find yourself saying things like, “If we moved the office downstairs, the current office could be the nursery” or “If it’s a boy we could paint this room another color.” You start getting serious about finding the maternity clothes in the garage. You explain to your kids how everything is going to change (“you’re going to be a big sister now!”), you alter your travel plans for the future.

At the same time, you’re rearranging things internally. You’re preparing a place for the new arrival in your heart, in your mental landscape. You think about what it will mean to be the parent of three (!) kids. You start thinking through what you will need to do to survive the sleepless nights to come, and weigh it out against the joy of having a baby in the house again. You start making space in your life for another human being, another essential, irreplaceable, intimate human connection.

And then, sometimes, things change. For us, it was having a miscarriage last week. I think, for me, the hardest part of a miscarriage is that all that space we made for this new little one now seems lonely and hollow and empty. The inconvenience of moving our office downstairs so that the baby could have a nursery now seems desirable. And the luxury of having an office in the house seems cheap.

I told Krista this week, “now you could go with me to Korea this summer” and she said, “I’d rather have a baby.” And I think that in a lot of ways, Krista’s reply sums it up. Having a baby requires giving up some freedom, and adding new responsibilities. But having that freedom returned to you is not worth what is lost.

How are we feeling? Good, terrible, fine, depressed, detached, guilty, sad, tired. The emotions are too complex and change too quickly to describe well. We’re okay. I found that this week I couldn’t work well or consistently, because I realized I was sitting there doing nothing. I regret never knowing my child.

I think it’s worse for Krista, of course. Her body went through obvious changes in preparation for giving birth and now it’s all going back to “normal”… and every day that’s a reminder of what has happened.

And in the midst of it all there’s the question of God. Or rather, not the question, as that’s something that Krista and I have both said. We’re certain of his presence, and of his goodness, his love, his peace. Honestly, I am too tired to come near to him, to spend time in the word, even to cry out to him. But I feel like, nevertheless, he is meeting with me. He’s sending friends with words of encouragement, or to pray. And I am reminded over and over that there is a day coming when all these things will be done away with. The human creature was not made for death, we’re not designed for loss. One day the King of Kings will rule and he will do away with death and injustice once and for all. So there’s hope and peace in the midst of it all.

In the meantime, we’d appreciate your prayers, if you think of it. And, of course, your questions and thoughts are welcome. We want to be open about the reality of being people living with the Christ in the “real world” and this is part of life for us right now. Thanks for your time and your friendship.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Annual "I Want To Be Poet Laureate" Poetry Contest-- tell your friends

Because the following states do not have poets laureate, I have decided that it is our right, nay, our duty, to create poets laureate of our own: Arizona, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

By the power invested in me by my Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing, I have decided to hold a poetry contest. The winner of the contest will receive the following:

1) An official document from moi, declaring you the poet laureate of the State division which you have won. Your term will last one year.

2) A letter sent to the governor of the State on official BHR letterhead, inviting them to give you money, accolades and public recognition, and perhaps even a ticker-tape parade.

3) TWO blog entries here at the BHR, one including your poem and one with a profile of yourself.

4) The everlasting respect of your friends, the envy of other would-be laureates and something to put on your resume.

5) If the poems are good enough, funny enough, endearing enough or plentious enough, maybe we'll throw together a little chapbook or something. No guarantees.

Here are the rules:

1) All entries must be received by midnight November 15th, one month and two days from today. That's right, it's a tight deadline. This is because poetry is a harsh mistress. Stop your whining and start your writing. Decisions shall be handed down and winners heralded from on high by December 1st.

2) You need not live in or have ever visited the State to which you are applying as laureate. You need not like the State. You need not know the State flower.

3) No porn or cursing, please. This is a family establishment.

4) To enter, merely paste your poem into the comments section of the State to which you are applying to rule as First and Enduring Poet Laureate (or send an e-mail to Matt.Mikalatos(at) with the subject "poetry contest" and the name of the State you would like to represent). Be sure to include your name and an email address where you can be reached.

Here are the entry locations for each state:
New Jersey
New Mexico

Now, hop to it! May the muses give you wing'ed pens.



Would you like to preside as Chief Poet over the southern deserts?

Then kindly enter your poem(s) here.


NOTE: Hawaii does have a State Writer. So you will have to share your Glory and Prestige with them, I think.

But don't let that stop you from applying.


Governor Mitt Romney will be so pleased to have you as Poet. You can do it!


Michigan has been through a lot lately, what with all those troubles with the Emerald Ash Borer. So lift their spirits with the gift of poetry.


I used to live in the "Show Me State" so don't try to pull one over on me. You will have to do your research!

New Jersey

Give your dreams a chance.

New Mexico

"Commitment, hard work, efficiency, accountability: these are the elements in my approach to governing, and my strategy for success." —Governor Bill Richardson

These words can so readily apply to poetry, too. Just replace the word "governing" with "poetry."


So much to discover!


There are more than 1,800 historical markers in Pennsylvania. Surely they will be able to spare one for the New, First Ever Poet Laureate of Pennsylvania.


My own State! Betrayed! Shut out in everlasting darkness without the pleasure of State Endorsed Poets! Say it isn't so!

Make me proud.

The State of Washington Hates Poetry With a Deep and Undying Hatred, Deep as the Ocean, Undying as the Sea

Boy, you kids love poetry. And you are the most nationalistic (state-istic?) group I know. You've flooded my inbox with requests--nay, demands!-- to know the poet laureate of your own state.

So, here they are:

Alabama Sue Walker
Alaska Jerah Chadwick
Arkansas Peggy Vining
California Al Young
Connecticut Marilyn Nelson
Delaware Fleda Brown
Florida Edmund Skellings
Georgia David Bottoms
Idaho Kim Barnes
Illinois Kevin Stein
Indiana Joyce Brinkman
Iowa Robert Dana
Kansas Jonathan Holden
Kentucky Sena Jeter Naslund
Louisiana Brenda Marie Osbey
Maine Betsy Sholl
Maryland Michael S. Glaser
Mississippi Winifred Hamrick Farrar
Montana Sandra Alcosser
Nebraska William Kloefkorn
Nevada Norman Kaye
New Hampshire Patricia Fargnoli
New York Billy Collins
North Carolina Kathryn Stripling Byer
North Dakota Larry Woiwode
Oklahoma Francine Ringold
Oregon Lawson Fusao Inada
Rhode Island Tom Chandler
South Carolina Marjory Heath Wentworth
South Dakota David Allan Evans
Tennessee Margaret Britton Vaughn
Texas Alan Birkelbach
Utah Kenneth W. Brewer
Vermont Grace Paley
Virginia George Garrett
West Virginia Irene McKinney
Wisconsin Denise Sweet
Wyoming David Romtvedt

Or perhaps you are from one of the following laureate-less states: Arizona, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Washington. Quick! Write a poem and send it to the governor!