Wednesday, July 30, 2008

News From My Neighborhood

Mikalatos: Neighbors! Attend to my call! Look unto the northwest region of our neighborhood! What do you see there?

Neighbor Chorus: Only the abandoned house which has become a garden of weeds, a haunt of ghuls, a repository of our curses.

Mikalatos: Look unto the garden of weeds, my friends. What do you see?

Chorus: Behold! The weeds have disappeared as silently as the neighbors themselves.

Mikalatos: Yes, for I took my lawn mower, whose name is Arondight, and I did a great and mighty work upon the monstrous weeds which had threatened to rule over us. And do you know what I found beneath those tree-like weeds?

Chorus: Was it a dead mouse?

Mikalatos: Yes, I did find a dead mouse. But that is not the thing of which I speak.

Chorus: Was it a phone book?

Mikalatos: Yea, verily, I did find even three phone books beneath the shade of the weeds, bereft of their plastic coats and discarded there by careless owners or strange miscreants of yellowed pages. But this also is not the thing of which I speak.

Chorus: Soda bottles? Beer cans? Hidden shrubbery?

Mikalatos: Yea, all these things and more I found. Arondight stutttered when first she found a phone book, and I feared she would not stir to life again. She cried out in a shriek of metal and plastic upon the discovery of the empty bottles. She held herself back at the sight of a hidden shrub, rescued by her twin blades from the desperate shadows which had threatened and choked it. Cigarettes I found and an abundance of discarded trumpery. But even these are things of which I do not speak.

Chorus: You amaze us with your tale. What did you find beneath those weeds, O Neighbor?

Mikalatos: A treasure, my friends, and one which I will take in payment for my mighty deeds of renown.

Chorus: We have seen no treasure. What treasure do you speak of? Is it the treasure of a job well done? Is it the treasure of a good deed which will bring you much pleasure? Is it the treasure of the pleasure of looking across the street and seeing your handiwork displayed for all to see?

Mikalatos: No.

Chorus: We are unable to continue. Our imaginations fail us and words come only haltingly to our tongues.

Mikalatos: Here is the tale of the treasure. After my task was completed I spied a hole in the ground, previously covered by the noxious weeds. A moment of contemplation encouraged me to thrust my arm into the hole and here is what I found: a tiny thing like a man in a blue coat, and his wife, who was like a rabbit. He thanked me bravely for my unasked for kindness, although I had nearly collapsed his home with Arondight. And in token of his favor he gave me a silver flute, marvelously small, and when I play upon it he has promised that my garden will grow in unaparalleled splendor, and money will fall out of all our pillowcases, and the frogs surrounding out house will sing lullabies for our children in voices sweet as honey.

Chorus: Whoa. That's really weird.

Mikalatos: I know, right? I thought that was weird, too.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Obviously, Mom is not around today

A (from upstairs): DAD! I DON'T HAVE ANY CLOTHES!



Me: Come here.




(thump thump thump thump down the stairs)

A: There are no clothes in my drawer.

Me: Do you remember yesterday when your drawer wouldn't close because I had put so many clothes in them?

A: Yes.

Me: But now there are no clothes in your drawer?

A: They are in the wrong drawer.

Me: So. Get your clothes. Out of the wrong drawer.

A: Okay!

(Thump thump thum--)



Me: Come here.



Z and A: OKAY!

Z (upset): These aren't mine but they were in my drawer!

Me: Sigh. Listen. I put your clothes away yesterday. I can't always tell whose clothes are whose. So if you find your sister's clothes in your drawer... don't wear them. Give them to your sister.

Z (still upset): But now I can't get this shirt off! It's too small.

Me (helping her get the shirt off): A general rule of life is, "If you can't get the shirt on, it's probably not yours."

Z: I could get it on, I just couldn't get it off.

The children finally arrived, Z dressed with clothes from her drawers and A dressed in the clothes that Z had returned to her.

A touching moment of love... and murder

Krista and I went hiking up near Sunriver last week. It was the Three Creeks trail, headed up to the Green Lakes. It was a spectacular hike... I'm sure Krista will put up more pictures later this week.

Here's a moment early in the hike.

Krista (with her camera): Take another step backward.

Me (looking at the drop to the river below): Is this the part where you try to murder your husband?

Krista: (Silence.)

Me: Just remember, I have the car keys.

Krista: I have car keys, too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Can you hear me now?

I received a phone call today on my cell phone.

Me: Hello?

Woman: Hi.

Me: Hi.

Woman: Hold on a minute. Honey, take the phone.

Man: Hello?

Me: Hi.

Man (in a deep voice): Where are you located?

At this point I needed to stop and assess my world view. There are a lot of answers to a question like "Where are you located?" My first instinct would be to say, "The guest room, folding laundry." Two problems with this answer: one, "Where are you located?" makes it sound like a more specific location is being inquired about. Second, he didn't ask me what I was doing.

So I thought some more. Perhaps I should say, "I am located in the center bedroom on the southern side of my house, a room which we refer to as the guest room"? I began to suspect that he *knew* where I was located and was testing me in some way. He wanted to know if I was honest, wanted to know if I was the kind to play cat and mouse games. But no, not me. Not with strangers. I learned my lesson that time I ended up running down the streets of Las Vegas, taking instructions from a creepy disembodied voice coming from my cell phone while a cabal of criminals tried to take their ill-gotten gains back from me. Or maybe that was a movie I saw, I forget.

Man (impatient): I am located on [some streets not near your neighborhood*].

Me: I think -- Yes. I think you have the wrong number.

Man: Is this Half Price Pots?

Me: No, it is not.

Man: You dialed the wrong number.

Woman (shrieking): Honey, I dialed the same number as last time!


Me: Good-bye.

* They were, in fact, calling from Bellevue, Washington. They had put the wrong area code in.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Twenty-Four)

Dedicated to the middle-aged checker at Winco who served me as I bought my morning groceries, and to the young woman who also worked at Winco who came out to speak to him as he scanned those same groceries.

Young Woman: I couldn't sleep at all last night. I got up at four in the morning.

Checker: I was sound asleep at that time.

Young Woman: Dreaming about me, right?

Checker: You're the only person worth dreaming about.

(The young woman walks away.)

Checker (to me): I know. She's young enough to be my daughter. I know.

Me: (Silence. Trying to think of an appropriate response.)

Checker: That's what my daughter tells me, too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

welcome to the Revolution

As you know, I like to occasionally point out the search engine queries that wash unsuspecting surfers onto our little island here at BHR.

Here are some of my favorites from today (I've included the links these poor people were subjected to, also):

First, we have the "Danger Ninja." Seems redundant to me, but if you were searching for a ninja before and found a "Safety Ninja" I could see that you might want to be more specific. Once bitten, twice shy.

"Hammer and Sickle, Burning Heart." We're number one on that search. I know you people all think BHR is communist, but I want you to remember the Ladies Revolution Pants, THE OFFICIAL PANTS OF THE BURNING HEARTS REVOLUTION. Once they were a figment of our imagination, and now they are being manufactured by North Face. Sounds like capitalism to me, Baby.

Someone came looking for the Portland office Christmas party. I don't remember this clearly, but I think we all went to Benihana's and tried to get the waitresses to come back to our party. This was in December. I guess it's never too late to plan for next year.

Some poor soul came looking for Men's Retreat Slogans and was directed to my Monkey Island Slogans from last November. Looks like the slogan for First Baptist Church of Miami's men's retreat will be recycled from Monkey Island. Several of the slogans would work just fine in either context.

Others came looking for movie stars who live in Florida, Captain Huggy Face, or to learn about the physical effects of fasting. Quite a collection of people we get around here.

Welcome to the Revolution, my friends. We're glad to have you here with us.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Be sure to read this post for at least half an hour

The National Endowment for the Arts has uploaded some fascinating research on reading. You can see changes over the last ten years in various age groups and education levels for recreational reading, standardized reading comprehension tests and more. It's great reading. Ahem.

Anyway, it's a long report, so just read the executive summary. Wouldn't want you to read too much. Ha.

Via Michael Miller.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Don't Let Yourself Go

One of my single friends recently told me that several of her friends have said, "Don't let yourself go or you'll never get married." I immediately sensed my own incipient rage building to intolerable levels. To prevent myself from flying off the handle (Yes, I have a handle.) I decided to use my enormous intellect to figure out why someone would say something like this. I came up with a traditional tri-lemma (the best ones use alliteration so you can remember the three choices without referring to a note card). Why would someone say this to a woman? It could be one of three things: One, they could be Idiots. Two, they could be Ignoramuses. Three, they could be Iniquitous. Idiot, Ignoramus, Iniquitous.

IDIOT. Perhaps they are too stupid to recognize the patent falseness of their statement. Perhaps they have never noticed that not every woman who gets married looks like someone from the cover of a magazine.

IGNORAMUS. Perhaps they, like the character in the 1615 play by George Ruggle, are simply ignorant. This is another way to say that maybe they are more inexperienced than Stupid. It's possible I guess.

INIQUITOUS. In other words, evil. I favor this interpretation, as the theory that a woman's main marriageable quality is her body is clearly one spawned by demons. Although some people will use the Bible verse, "Women, be sure th
at your body is thin and anemic so that your husband will be attracted to you -- for lo, a man cannot be attracted to a woman unless she looks like an air-brushed, half-starved, surgically-enhanced and unattainable cover model" I assert that this verse is taken out of context. In fact, it seems that women are regularly encouraged NOT to become caught up in their outward appearance. You know that old verse, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. " (I Peter 3:3-4 NIV)

Okay, some of you think I am being harsh. You are thinking, "C'mon, Matt, it could be that these friends are just victims of the culture which they live in and meant no harm by saying that your friend should be sure to focus on her outward appearance to make sure to draw a mate." I will grant you this point. But it seems to me that even if we are parroting the evil philosophy of our culture, that doesn't make the philosophy more acceptable. "The culture deceived me and I ate." Doesn't sound too convincing to me.

I am not denying that people care about exterior appearance. I'm not denying that many relationships start from across the room when someone says, "Hey, I like the looks of that person." I am denying that this is the most important aspect a woman should be concerned about in finding a prospective mate.

That's why I've taught my kids an important lesson. If a man ever comes up to them and says, "Don't let yourself go or you'll never find a husband" I have given them clear directions: Kick the guy in the crotch and say, "And you'd better toughen up or you'll never find a wife."

News about the New Star Trek movie (For Kerri)

I have plenty of problems, but one of the biggest is my inability to be a committed enough fanboy to matter. I like comics, but I don't have a tattoo of Superman. I like(d) Star Wars back when it mattered but I never cared enough to cross-relate the comics to the movies to the novels. I never stood in line for the opening movie of any franchise dressed as the characters. I never had my face surgically altered to look like a Klingon. In the world of weird fans I'm just a mediocre side note.

But right now my friend Kerri is trying hard to become a Trekker, so I thought I would give her some early notice about next year's Star Trek movie. Here's the recently released teaser posters, with pictures of the new Kirk, Spock and Uhura, as well as the Romulan bad guy "Nero." Direction is by JJ Abrams, the LOST guy, so I think this might actually be worth going to see.

Oh, and Kerri-- don't make any plans for May 8th of next year.

Daddy's Birthday (A Story by A)

Today is daddy's birthday. So everyone comes to have some fun. There's ice cream and cake for everyone. So everybody that Daddy invites comes to his birthday party. It was a swimming party. Ha ha. Everybody swam. Once everybody had dried off we had cake and ice cream. And then everybody went home. THE END.

Goodbye doody. And story named by A.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


My beautiful wife put up a blog post for my birthday today. Thanks! And thanks to all of you who sent me birthday wishes and so on. I appreciate it.

We went out to lunch at Muchas Gracias. This is my favorite restaurant here in Vancouver. One, it is a Mexican restaurant. Two, it has "authentic" prices (it's a one '$' restaurant). Three, it's open 24 hours a day. Have I ever gone to it in the middle of the night? No. But it gives me a warm feeling of comfort to know that the option is there. Afterwards the kids bought me ice cream. Pralines and cream on a plain cone. Yum!

And, a few notes from "today in history":

1) In 1821, Spain cedes Florida to the U.S. Now that's just weird, because I just got back from Florida yesterday.

2) In 1955 Disneyland opened to the public. Also weird, because I just got back from Orlando yesterday, where we were going to Disney World.

3) David Hasselhoff turns 56 today. Which is weird because (a) it's David Hasselhoff... who knew I shared a birthday with him? and (b) I am 34, which is like "34-56". Somewhere there's a twelve year old kid with a birthday today who completes our numerical connection.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mikalatos Dance Fever!

Here's a little birthday greeting that Sarah Son sent my way:

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

It's appearing here for a limited time because one of the members of our dance troupe has political aspirations.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Movie Review: Wall*E

We all know the story:

In the 1980s a robot designed for war gets struck by lightning and develops a personality and a conscience, and sets out to spread his message of peace.

Wait, wait. Let me try that again. Seven hundred years in the future a robot designed for planetary cleanup watches "Hello, Dolly" and develops a personality and a conscience, and sets out to spread his message of -- uh -- holding hands. And planetary cleanup (?). Even more spoilers await you if you choose to read on.

If you are an animation fan, you've already seen this movie. Yes, it's amazing in that sense. In fact, the interspersion of filmed clips into the animated bits is virtually seamless. It simply doesn't look that different than the excellent animation.

The story could have been a five minute Pixar short, however. The short before the movie, by the way, was hilarious and I would have gladly watched a movie about the magician and his trouble-making rabbit.

Things that bother me about movies like Wall*E are mostly related to the lazy world-building. Why did the world have a complete ecosystem collapse to make it uninhabitable for seven hundred years? Why would the first photosynthetic occurrence happen inside a refrigerator, where there would be no light (and presumably no rain)? How would this super plant survive the abuse it receives throughout the movie (including being exposed to hard vaccuum in space? Why did the people of earth have the technology to make enormous spaceships and complex robots but not the capacity to let the robots speak like people instead of like voice modulated answering machines? What has caused the complete collapse of human (and robot) personality to the place that the most affable and enjoyable beings in the movie are a beat up robot and a lone cockroach?

Why is it that even the villain is unclear? Is it the vast Wal-Martish corporation? Perhaps, but they are also the movie's saviors, as they invented Wall-E, kept the human race alive for seven hundred years and then returned them to earth. Is it the robot programmed to keep the human race alive and in space? I guess. He's about as threatening as a rogue paperclip, though. Or perhaps it is the combined forces of ubiquitous trash and an unstoppable flood of human obesity. Not exactly great enemies for a movie of this type.

Which may be why the kids kept trying to go to sleep. And Krista and I kept yawning. Don't get me wrong, the movie had its moments. But they were spread out over too long a period. If you had packed all the good stuff into a twenty minute mini-movie it would have been great. Award-winning, even. But as it stands it starts to give you that "I've been stranded in space for seven hundred years and I just want to go home" sort of feeling.

RATED G. Get a good night's sleep the night before.

Help is on the way... as quietly as possible

On the way out of the hotel today I noticed an enormous greenish-yellow fire truck parked outside. A hotel manager stood nearby, speaking to one of the firefighters.

Manager: --upsets our customers.

Firefighter: I understand, sir, and I've asked the ambulance to turn off its siren when it gets close.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Haunted Mansion

On the bus from Disney back to our hotel, A got into a conversation with the people in the seat next to us. Their favorite attraction at the park had been the Haunted Mansion, which we did not enter. A asked what it was, and I explained it was a house with pretend ghosts in it.

A: I don't think I would like going into that place, because I don't understand 'ghost words.'

Me: Ghost words? What do you mean?

A: I don't think I would understand what the ghosts are saying because I don't understand their words.

Me: What sort of words do you think the ghosts would use?

A: Words like 'Haunted' and 'mansion.'

Favorite T-shirt of the Day

A simple and unattractive pink t-shirt with a slogan that read, "FASHION. It's all that matters."

Eavesdropping With Matt (Episode Twenty-Three)

Dedicated to the ten-year-old boy at Disney World who gave me a hearty laugh as I crossed from Adventure Land into Tomorrow Land. Well done, young man, well done.

Young Man: SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS! Where is he?

When your kids team up against you

We picked the kids up at the Orlando airport yesterday. Krista's Dad flew in with them, and we loaded up into the rental car and headed for our hotel. The kids were exhausted after the long day of travel, and pretty much anything could set them off into fits of crying. But they still had the strength to double team me... watch this interaction.

A (crying): I want to go to Disney World right now!

Me: We're going to Disney World for two days starting tomorrow.

A (crying): We're only going to Disney World for two days? Waaaaagh!

Me: You know, when I was a kid we only went to theme parks for one day. We would go in the morning and then we'd leave when the park was closed. We never went to Disney for two days in row.

Z: Daddy?

Me: Yes?

Z: Tomorrow is your lucky day.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Learn a New World

Today was "Learn a New World" day. Shane led us in the word again, and then Krista taught on the Biblical basis of missions, using several stories from the Old Testament. It was great, really well done. It's a privilege to be married to a woman of such extraordinary passion for God. She also led us in a lot of cultural learning, and Shasta helped out with a talk of her own and introducing us to some cultural games, which was great fun.

The big secret about tomorrow is that the provided lunch is going to be Indian food... taking a page from our church's handbook of mission's training. We're going to force everyone to eat without utensils, which should be fun. I'm looking forward to it. Maybe we'll get some photos. Ha.

I love our conferences like this. It's great to be with people headed around the world and I love being with our good friends and co-workers here.

The only real problem is the bed. I told Krista, it seems like you've been so far away all week. And she pointed out that the bed is four inches wider than ours back home. Which is about a foot and half too far.

Florida Moment of the Day: The cops were in the parking lot of the movie theatre tonight, taking a statement from a tiny bald person. A lot of kids dressed up like gang members hovered around, as if watching. Also, I learned that Kissimmee is pronounced KisSIMee. Not "kiss-a-me". Which means less Italian kissing comments. Oh well.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Love the Lord

Today was "Love the Lord" day at our stint team leader's training. My good buddy Shane Sebastian led us in the word in the book of Jeremiah and it was excellent. Then I taught on leading your team to Love the Lord for a while and we had most of the day set aside after that for people to spend time with God. In the evening we had sharing time and communion and overall it was a rewarding but exhausting day. Now I'm off to bed, because it's already the middle of the night here, even though it's not on the west coast.

This is because Florida is like another country.

Favorite Florida moment today: When it rained a little and someone asked, "Is this a hurricane?"

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Not in the NW anymore

Weird cultural things I've seen or learned in Florida:

1) They don't care how many plastic bags you get your groceries in. If you say, "Oh, I just need one bag" or "I don't need a bag" they look at you like you are crazy.

2) If you drop something, it will start rotting before it hits the ground.

3) Alligators. People say they aren't dangerous. They say they won't bother you. Then they say something like, "Of course, they can run faster than a horse." Followed by, "But if one starts to chase you, just zig-zag and it will get confused." Um. How much of a head start do I get?

4) Also they say things like, "Snakes here are more scared of you than you are of them. They aren't even poisonous. They won't hurt you. Unless you corner a water moccasin on her nest." Me: "Aren't water moccasins poisonous?" Them: "Yes. Very."

5) Grocery store carries food like "marshmallow salad." Also, "Ham salad." Also, other things called salad made out of mayonnaise plus something else. Mostly mayonnaise.

6) Grocery stores think it will get them more customers to have the slogan "The Beef People."

7) Okay, I already mentioned the alligators, but come on people, they are giant lizards. When our friend said that alligators don't hurt people I said, what about that guy who got attacked a couple of weeks ago? She asked what happened. I said, he went swimming in a pond and halfway across it attacked him. She said, Oh yeah, you should never swim in the ponds here.

8) Followed by another friend telling us about the brain-eating amoeba in the ponds. I am not kidding. Look it up.

We haven't actually seen any gators or amoeba so far. And the weather has been great.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


We had a full fourth of July.

It started with the parade. Krista has pictures, but my parents' neighborhood held a big kids' parade, where they all decorated their bikes and rode a few blocks. Z won best decorated bicycle, and A won "most patriotic girl". Then there were horse rides, free hot dogs and prizes. I ate two hot dogs because this is the United States of America.

Then we went home and Krista made buffalo chicken salad, and I ate too much of that (as if to prove I was an American). THEN she brought out the strawberry shortcake and I ate too much of that, too.

In the late afternoon we joined the crew of a boat belonging to the Sea Scouts and set out to watch the fireworks from the Columbia River. And three hours later we did just that. One of the women who runs the boat made homemade fried chicken. So I ate too much for dinner, also.

When we arrived back at the quay the kids were asleep and everyone was exhausted, with the exception of the people in the parking lot who were using our van as their base of operations to launch fireworks. It was too over-dressed couples who would launch a firework, ooooh and aaaaah, make out briefly and then do it all over again. I brushed the firework detritus from the roof of the van and we drove home through the smoky haze.

It was a great time, actually, a lot of fun with my parents and Krista's mom and the kids and each other. Thanks for a great 4th to my family, especially Krista, Janet and Mom.

Now we're at the airport, on our way to Orlando for the stint team leader training. It's a little much to be leaving only a few hours after we got home from the fireworks, but sometimes that's the way it works.

Eavesdropping With Matt (Episode Twenty-Two)

Dedicated to the Russian (?) musician duo -- one old, one young -- getting on our flight to Chicago this morning, and to the gate attendant who served them.

Young Musician: I'd like to make sure we can carry on our instruments.

Attendant: The size limit on the guitar is forty inches. So if it fits within those requirements we can take it.

Old Musician: Ees not a Gueetar. Ees a feedle. So what ees the size reestriction for a feedle?

Stranger Danger: Ninja in the Neighborhood

Ninja sighting causes school lockdown in New Jersey.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I think I might be addicted to calling 911

After the big thunderstorm last night, one of the neighborhood intersection lights is out. Not just out, but flashing red in three direction but also still showing a green light to the south and north. In an interesting study of human nature, this means that the people on the "green" sides of the light didn't even slow down despite the "mixed signals" of having both a green light and a flashing red light.

I debated calling 911 after watching several people nearly get creamed in the half a minute I spent at the light.

Then I decided I better do it. This is the third time in recent history that I've called 911, the first being the fist fight in our neighborhood and the second being the drug deal I saw in southern Vancouver.

I've noticed that I've become better at this each time. The first time I felt uncertain, shaky-voiced and couldn't remember the name of the street I was on. The second time I apologized and said I wasn't sure this was a good reason to call (to which the 911 operator said, as I recall, "*Sigh* What is the nature of the emergency, sir?") Today I quickly and professionally outlined the problem, gave my information and signed off.

I don't know if they need a super-hero like this, but from now on you can call me... THE INFORMER.

Or THE RAT FINK, whichever you fancy.

P.S. Thanks to the fine people at 911, who help keep us safe. Keep up the good work.

And thou, all-shaking thunder, Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!

At two a.m. we awoke to a sound like every metal trash can in the world and half the bowling balls being dropped from a height onto our cars. This was immediately followed by a call for Daddy. It wasn't me, it was one of the kids.

More thunder followed, and car alarms around the neighborhood started squealing. Then the hail started.

I wandered the hallways, making sure everyone was okay, and A ended up in bed with us. We haven't gone outside yet to see if we were struck by lightning, or if the vegetables survived their drubbing.

If the kids had been older and unkind, and I was a king, and I was outside with a fool I would have felt just like King Lear.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Revisionist History of Star Wars

Tonight I told my daughters, Z and A, and my nephew J and abbreviated version of the Star Wars trilogy (eps 4-6). It started getting a little silly at about the time Luke Skywalker attacked the Death Star.

Me: And then -- bad news --

A: Skip the bad news!

Me: The TIE fighters came out of the Death Star and started to attack!

J: And then a Thai person came out, too.

Me: Um. Okay.

A: And then an Englishman.

Me: Sure. So these TIE fighters and the Thai person and the Englishman all chase Luke down into this trench --

A: And a Spaniard!

Me: And a Spaniard --

J: And a Chinese guy!

Me: Uh-huh, and --

About ten nationalities later they let Luke blow up the Death Star. But when we got to the victory celebration on the planet Yavin, A insisted on talking through what everyone was wearing, making modifications as she saw fit, and also spending quite some time talking about how carefully Chewbacca combed his fur.

Barely into "Return of the Jedi" A came up with a new innovation... she wanted a pegasus added in, and Han Solo and Leia had to ride it. So I added that in during the speeder bike chase. Then she wanted Tweety Bird to show up and talk with Leia and the ewoks, so we did that, too.

Then J decided that the Emperor should be Tweety Bird. (NOTE: In Mikalatos stories, Tweety Bird not only talks funny, she also purposely mangles everyone's names.) Which gave rise to scenes like this one:

Darth Vader: I have brought the young Skywalker to you, My Master.

Emperor Tweety: Oooooh, dat's wonderful. I wuv getting a new Skippywalkee.

Luke: Skywalker.

Emperor: Dat's what I saaaaaid, Skippywalkee.

He also calls Darth Vader "Dark Voodeepoo." In the end, Darth Vader throws the Emperor over into the abyss and the Emperor shouts, "Ooooh! My electrecaticity is shooting all over de pwace!" Then Darth Vader says, "I'm glad he's gone. He was a little annoying."

Then there's the big party at the end. By now Han Solo has also been turned into Tweety Bird. Everyone is saying silly things to each other. Ghost Yoda is made at everyone for calling him Yahoo... a name that Han Tweety gave him and they all adopted. At the very end Chewbacca gets mad because Han keeps calling him "Chewbobby" and he picks him up and throws him over the trees and Han yells "Yaaaaaaaaaha ha hoooie!" and lands in a river.

The End.

Then Z looked up from her book and said, "Hey, did I miss the part where Darth Vader cuts off Luke's hand?"

That ain't the half of what you missed, kid.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Louis Vs. The Orange Army

Dad and I went to Home Depot today to get some bits to fix up our sprinklers. We had a broken wax washer and we needed a new one.

The first game at Home Depot, of course, is "Seek the Employees." The employees try to hide from you, but have rigid rules they must follow. For instance, they have to wear orange vests, which makes them clearly visible from great distances. They have various techniques to overcome this, one of which is to hang out near shoppers wearing orange shirts. Also, they have a superior knowledge of the rat warren/warehouse maze and can slip in and out of the stacks like the Phantom of the Opera. Another rule they have to follow is that if you actually speak to them, they do have to make some attempt to answer your question. This is a deadly cycle, because other shoppers will see an employee helping someone and run -- sometimes as far as a mile -- to get up close to them and quickly shout out another question before the little orange leprechauns can escape.

Another technique they'll try is to give you a false answer that appears to be a true answer. Like so:

Dad: Can you tell us where to find washers?

Home Depot Employee: What kind?

Dad: I think it's felt.

HDE: Oh, metal. That would be aisle two.

Later, Dad and I discussed whether she actually misunderstood the whole "felt" thing.

Me: You said 'felt' right?

Dad: Yeah, I should have said 'fiber.'

Me: Maybe she misunderstood us when she sent us to the metal washers.

Dad: I just said the first 'F' word that came to mind.

We searched out another employee, one of the rare and harassed "stationary" employees who sit behind a desk in hidden alcoves, providing a diversion for their roving, orange-clad brethren. We made bonus points when he revealed the secret "plumber phone" in a hidden aisle, where we could summon someone to help us. But we found another employee just before using the Red Phone, and she pointed out "What we have" which was... not what we needed.

In the end we had to go find an actual plumbing supply store... Grover Electric and Plumbing Supply. We walked in and immediately a gentleman named Louis called us over to his service station, took one look at the faucet in my hand and leapt away, only to return with a small plastic baggie filled with all the replacement bits for our faucet, including the Washer We Sought. Then he disassembled our faucet, which was hard to unscrew (in fact, Louis called upon the name of Jesus many times while he struggled to get it apart). He finally broke the handle with some special tool, put it all together, gave us advice about when we reassembled things at the spicket, and even gave us a quick tutorial about where we could expect leaks if there was trouble: "If that O-ring doesn't seal in there tight, water gets in the pipe, comes down this way and right out that fricking hole." Yes, that is verbatim.

In the end, Louis saved us at least forty minutes. And he said fricking, which is a sure sign that he is a knowledgeable plumber and not part of the orange army. So, let us extend many thanks to Louis, He of the Superior Plumbing Knowledge. He said to us in parting, "I bet you're glad you didn't go to Home Depot, aren't ya?" We nodded and exchanged knowing smiles. Only suckers shop at Home Depot, and we were not suckers. No, we possessed a knowledge arcane and strange, wild and untamed as the planets, fixed and predictable as the stars. For we were part of that ancient brotherhood, the fricking plumbers.

The End.

News From My Neighborhood

My Baby Wrote Me a Letter. Shasta struck up a conversation with our Neighbor to the North, Derek, who shared his suspicions about why the Tongan family to our northwest suddenly moved out not too long ago. It seems that they were receiving disturbing hate mail that said things like "We hate you and we want you to move." Turns out he's been getting hate mail from someone about his cars and parking them on the street and so on. Of course the main suspect is our neighbor directly west who, yes, probably is the one who called in their cars. And who has the fake dogs barking and the cameras in the windows. Is this really true? I'm not so sure. We haven't had any issues with any of our neighbors, and I really wish our Tongan neighbors had told us about the hate mail. Then we could have (a) called the cops and (b) walked around to the neighbors and told them "Hey, someone in the neighborhood is writing hate mail." Maybe they would have stopped. Makes me sad that our neighbors moved out because of that, if that's what happened.