Thursday, April 30, 2009

Birds in the Bedroom

My kids have a freakish ability to wake up at 6:55 a.m. every morning. It doesn't matter how late they stay up. It doesn't matter how tired they are. Weekends. Weekdays. Holidays.

Yesterday morning they somehow slept in. At 7:15 I went to check on them and they were asleep, but I could hear the most raucous caucophony of birds outside their window... like "CAT IN OUR TREE EMERGENCY" sort of bird calls. I was amazed at how loud it was.

The kids came down a little later and I mentioned to them how loud the birds had been in their room a few minutes before.

Z got a sly look on her face and she watched me with sidelong eyes. "That's our alarm clock," she said.

"Ha ha," I said.

"No, really. 'A' figured out how to turn it on and we set it for 6:55 every morning."

Aha. Mystery solved.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bread of Life

I read this scripture this morning:

John 6:30-35

So they said to Jesus, 'What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat." ' Then Jesus said to them, 'Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' They said to him, 'Sir, give us this bread always.' Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'

In the midst of a lot of changes coming up this next year, I found these words of Christ encouraging. They give me peace. The team I work on is losing a couple of our key players and it's easy to look at our lack instead of what we have. I'm sure it's the same for you, that there are places in your life where there is simply "not enough." Not enough money, not enough laborers, not enough time, not enough strength, not enough health, not enough vitality. And they're not just things we want, they're things we need... necessities like bread and water, things we cannot live without.

Here's a reminder from Christ that he is the answer to those needs, the bread of life who eternally fulfills hunger, the object of a belief that brings springs of living water bursting up from within us. For those who know and walk with Christ the loss of all our resources is not enough to impoverish us. On the contrary, perhaps it is a reminder of the vast storehouse of riches available to us that we consistently forget about when we are "without need."

I am reminded that if I stay focused on my master, that he will take care of my needs by the unlimited resource of his presence. And that brings me a moment of peace.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

She's got herself in stitches

Sunday night after a celebration of my Mom's birthday, Shasta brought the kids back over to our place. A got out of the car laughing at the name of Shasta's sheep when she was a kid ("Monster", which A had decided should have been called "Monster Booger"). This created a storm of laughter which caused A to double over and then split her head open against the side of the car door.

After a LOT of crying and phone calls and me trying to put it off we decided that the cut was too wide not to be addressed by the professionals, so I took A down to the ER. Of course my kids always do these things when the regular offices are closed. They prefer the more expensive care of the ER.

A was (understandably) upset, and there was a lot of tears, sobs, hyperventilating and reminder to breathe normally. After a couple of hours we got into the back (by the way -- in t.v. shows the ER constantly has people with pipes sticking out of their chests and things like that being brought in and all the doctors have to stop kissing in the supply closet to go take care of it... I mostly saw relaxed doctors and people who looked vaguely in pain) to see the doctor.

A's unassailable terror of getting stitches came out when the Dr. said she was going to need a couple, so they left me in the room for twenty minutes to calm her down. I kept telling her that it was going to be all right, that I was her Dad, that she could trust me, that I promised it wouldn't hurt much, that I would protect her if anyone tried to hurt her. I finally convinced her she would have to sit still when the doc came back.

Which she did. The stitches (2) went fast. A got a stuffed bunny rabbit. From start to finish, A's head wound only took about five and half hours to deal with. Whew. We were exhausted.

I learned many lessons from this time:

1) The fear of the future is often worse than the future itself. A's four hours of exhausting terror about the coming stitches were far worse than the four minutes of calm as the doctor actually provided them. I have this issue myself. I can get wrapped up in 'what ifs' and worst case scenarios that are far more upsetting than the actual future I run into. In the end, A didn't really like getting stitches but now she has a new bunny and her cut is healing faster.

2) You can trust your Dad when he says it's going to be okay. A says she'll know this is true next time. Stitches don't hurt. I know I don't always trust the people who care about me and know my situation. I certainly don't always trust that God is in control. But this was a good reminder that I can trust Him in the midst of frightening or difficult circumstances.

3) Once the question of 'is this going to hurt' is out of the way, a young lady's next question is, 'Will this effect my looks'? Once A was relatively certain that the stitches might not hurt she started asking if her cut was ugly and were scars ugly.

4) I'm surprised this hasn't happened already. Let's be honest. Something funnier than 'Monster Booger' gets said in our house pretty much every day.

5) Kids' vocabulary makes me laugh even when I shouldn't. When A heard she might have to have stitches she burst into tears and shouted NO THEY CAN'T PUT STITCHES ON MY HEAD! MY HEAD IS FRAGILE!

6) When your six year old has to go to the ER it's okay to spoil them. When they feel so lousy that they don't want a milkshake, the least you can do is offer them one.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

17 Again

Krista and I went on a date tonight. We went out to dinner and then went to see this movie:

The story is basically "Big" in reverse... a grown up wishes he was small and he becomes a high schooler and has adventures and of course it's a love story and a family story (Etc, etc) but mostly it's about Zac Efron working as a sort of magnet for the money of every young woman who walks near a movie theater. The movie was enjoyable, overall. Genuinely funny in places. I have to admit I felt awkward when I told the movie ticket guy which movie I wanted tickets to see. And I felt awkward again when the thirty or so people in line ahead of us were walking into the same theater and they were all aged 13-17 (female).

But we had a good time.

And since I'm sure anyone who stumbles on this blog post may well be coming from the intended audience I will now include some reviews snagged from YouTube from some young ladies who have posted their thoughts:

"omg. i watched it tonight, and i LOVED it. i am soooooo buying it when it comes out on DVD!!! ahhh, i'm so excited. the scene when he comes out of the car, with his aviator shades on....TOTALLY HOT. i almost hyperventilated in the theater...not gonna lie. geesh. and the movie made me cry in one it, and you'll know what i'm talking about."


"omj omj this movie is awsome i saw it today its soo funny my fave part is when zacs dancing with the mom and alex walks in and is like do you always dance with your friends mom? no no no! its soo funny!! this movie rocks <3"

But the point is that I had a good time hanging out with my wife. Yay for dates with my wife!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Coach's Midnight Diner, the Christian horror anthology is BACK FROM THE DEAD!

You may recall that yours truly was a story editor on this edition of the diner, and my friend Adrian did the cover.

If you're looking for a hardboiled anthology of horror, crime, detective, paranormal and weird fiction with a Christian slant... well, you found it. You ain't gonna find it nowhere else, Buster, so pony up.

Free music from the Autumn Film

You know I always give you guys free music when I am able to give you free music because my friends are giving it away. It's so true. It's because I am a giver.

Well, those fine, fine rock stars The Autumn Film are giving away a few new songs as well as a video of the excellent song "Joy"... a song that I've been listening to pretty much every day since I first heard it.

Here's the link, feel free to pass it along!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wise move, small fry

On the way to school this morning...

Z: Dad, did you put Doritos in my lunch today?

Me: No. I put raisins and almonds.


Me: I thought you liked raisins.


Me: You're eight years old now, I guess you could get up and make your own lunch. It would only take a few minutes.


Z: Thank you for making my lunch today, Daddy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

News From My Neighborhood

Spring Has Sprung. Z has to write little notes to me as part of her homework and I have to write a note back to her. A recent one asked, "Daddy, what signs do you see that Spring has come?" The tulips and daffodils are blooming. Our plum tree has flowered and now leafed out. Our maple tree is bearing seeds for the first time since we planted it! And the raucous chorus of birds is back... yesterday Krista and I saw six yellow warblers on our bird feeder. We'd like to think that the two brightest ones are the hatchlings from last year's nest in the maple. Aaaand, the neighbor's cat just had a litter of three kittens. Just like every spring. She gets lonely in the winter.

Dream a Little Dream. I had this vivid dream the night before last with my friend Lisa Hansen from college. I was walking on this balcony thing and I could see her going down an escalator and we saw each other and tried to say hello but the escalator was rapidly taking her under the balcony. I shouted for her to tell me her phone number but I couldn't understand what she was saying... seemed like she kept throwing letters in with the numbers. So, Lisa, if you're out there somewhere give me a call! Your Dream Message did not come through with a clear phone number.

Mystery Solved. You may recall a while back that Tyndale mysteriously sent me a copy of "If God Disappears." Well, I wrote the author so I could send a thank you to whomever sent me the book and it turns out that it was the author himself (David Sanford) who sent me the book. Pretty nice. So I met him yesterday for coffee (you may recall that I had orange juice) and we had a good time hanging out. A really nice guy with a ridiculous amount of stories and a lot of great experiences to share. So that's that. You may be thinking, "Matt, are you trying to rub it in that you were hanging out with some published guy who gave you a free book?" To which I would say, stop being so sensitive you big sissy.

Another Mystery. Why is "orange" not spelled "oranje"? I have to say that I am generally a traditionalist when it comes to spelling, but a total liberal when it comes to that word.

New Neighbors. Someone has FINALLY bought this house to the northwest of us. I wonder what they are like? I'm told that it's a young married couple. I hope they are weird enough to make it on the blog. As if in celebration, Krista and I drank some fresh strawberry milkshakes from Burgerville last night.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Z!

Eight years old... I can scarcely believe it.
You don't have to use a car seat anymore after today! I can't believe this picture was taken of you only two years ago... you are growing up so fast.

I'm really proud of you... you are a great reader, an excellent story teller and so much fun to be around. I'm glad you love horses and swimming and skiing and drawing.

Keep up the good work at school. I know pretty soon you will read faster than me and I think your Spanish is already better than mine! I love you! Have a great birthday!

Eight more years and you get your driver's license!

The Squeaky THING Which Lives In Our Attic (?)

You may recall that I mentioned the strange squeaking thing in our room some time ago. Our friend Hillary asked for an update on this inexplicable phenomenon, so here goes.

Observations about... The Thing:

1) Despite the changing hours of light, it remains ridiculously punctual in its squeaking. It usually squeaks sometime between 10:30 pm and 11 pm.

2) It nearly always squeaks in the precise same pattern: SqueEEEK squeak.

3) I've noticed that anytime I hear the squeak I also can hear the faint sound of an airplane overhead (this might be coincidence, of course... there are planes flying over our house reasonably often during the day and night).

4) The sound of the squeaking sounds uncannily similar to the sound of the cheap phone beside our bed... if it were truncated into a sickly, nano-second version of its three second ring.

Current theories about... The Thing include:

1) A bat. A punctual, friendly bat who likes to say good night to us each evening.

2) A mechanical bat. Who is not friendly, he is just programmed that way.

3) Our phone has some sort of defect that causes it to squeak when planes fly overhead. But only between the hours of 1030 and 11.

4) A mass auditory hallucination that is isolated to only Krista and I.

Please feel free to leave comments with your theories as well. Scientific testing for authentification of... The Thing will begin shortly.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why I Hate Jane Austen

In 1995 I was attending University in Riverside, California. Like anyone else I went to class, stayed up too late, got up too late, ate lunch for breakfast, had too little money, ate too much garbage, met lots of great people and had a great time.

What I never told anyone about was the crazy old professor of Physics who worked in this cramped office off on the edge of campus. As you probably already guessed he plays a major part in the story of how I came to hate Jane Austen.

This is because he had invented time travel. It doesn't work how you might think. You get one chance to travel through time. I picked to go back in time to meet Jane Austen. He told me I was nuts. But I said I wanted to do it. So he sent me back to the year 1800.

The only problem being that I was in California still. Riverside, California in 1800 didn't have any smog at least, or anything else. I was mad at my professor but he was the sort of guy who would forget to mention something like this.

It took me almost two years to get to England and then to find Jane Austen. Then she totally dissed me because I was completely poverty stricken. Also she said I was too proud.

And I said, "Jane, I hope you will reconsider my proposal of marriage." And she was all like, "Mr. Mikalatos, I hope that in the future you will see fit to call me by a more fitting name, like 'Miss Austen.'"

And I did. And we totally were going to get married. But then the Bronte sisters showed up and told her that I had been all making eyes at them which was SO. NOT. TRUE.

But she immediately went off to Basingstoke. Soon enough I received an epistolary communication telling me that she had accepted a proposal of marriage from Harris Bigg-Wither. Mr. Bigg-Wither! That fat, stuttering boy! But he was rich and I knew the Austen family would be cared for financially.

Crushed, I turned the dial on my time travel device and returned to modern day. I smashed it to bits. I would never return to the past because the pain was too great. Then I bought a biography about Jane, hoping to learn that she had lived a happy life. But instead I discovered that she had broken her engagement to Bigg-Wither within a day of making it and spent the rest of her life mourning a strange, poor foreigner with an impossible name. She never married.

Oh, you foolish woman! Sniff, sniff. Waaaaaaah!


And that is why I hate Jane Austen novels.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Trigger Fail

funny pictures

I saw this little beauty of a water gun at a toy store today. Whoever designed it didn't think trigger placement through very carefully. Oops.

100 Books, the ones I've read and some thoughts pertaining to them

My friend Christine tagged me on a list of books purported to be put together by the BBC. This list of 100 books included the note that the BBC claimed most people had only read six books on the list. I started looking at it more carefully and thought that was weird, since books like "The Bible" and "all the Harry Potter" books were listed.

A little research revealed that it was actually a list put together by the Guardian via poll of "people's favorite books" which explains both the eclectic selections and the fact that there are both excellent and TERRIBLE AWFUL books listed. It would also explain why many of my favorite books aren't listed.... because of the Philistines responding to the poll.

Here's the list, with the original instructions and my commentary included:

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. How do your reading habits stack up? Share with your fellow readers.

Copy, edit, and paste into a note of your own.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen – Yeah. Why is this book number 1?

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien – But of course.

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte – Yeah. It’s hard to express how much I dislike the Brontes and their ilk (yes, I’m looking at you Jane Austen).

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling – Right here I start to wonder if this whole list is a scam. The BBC think that people have only read 6 of the listed books? Every kid in America has read all SEVEN of these. I would hate to have to row to England to research if this is real, but I’ll do it if I have to.

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee – I loved this book. And the movie.

6 The Bible – Yes, yes.

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte – Yup. *spoiler* they die.

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell – They don’t call me “Big Brother” for nothing, home slice.

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman – Yeah. First book, great. Second book, okay. Third book… complete

unexpected pile of steaming poo.

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens – Be amazed to discover I’ve only read one Dickens book. Read on to discover it (oh the excitement).

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott – I don’t think so.

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy -- Yeah

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller – About halfway through I wanted out as bad as the characters so I threw the book

into the ocean.

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare – Hello, English major here. Of course.

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier – Nope. I never read books named after people.

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien – Yeah, several times. When I was like six.

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk – Never heard of this book.

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger – Loved it.

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger – nope.

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot – No.

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchel – saw the movie.

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald – Sure. It was okay.

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens – No.

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy – Yes. So thankful for the cast of characters list in the back.

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams – Yeah. Don’t panic.

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh – Nope.

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky – No.

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll – Yeah.

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame –Parts of it. And I rode the ride at Disneyland.

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy -- No.

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens-- No.

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis – Yeah.

34 Emma - Jane Austen -- Yup.

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen – Yup. I took a class in college. I read all this crap.

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis – Yeah, of course. Were you not listening to number 33?

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini – Sitting on the shelf in my room. Everyone tells me it’s good but I can’t

get up the guts to read it.

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres Mais – Saw the movie. Vague memory of Nicholas Cage goofing around on the beach with some topless women. Never felt compelled to seek out the book for some reason. Hmmmm.

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden – No.

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne – OF COURSE!

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell – Yes. 1984 with animals. Classic.

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown – Sadly, yes. So sad that I have read this. It’s like having an albatross around my neck.

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Love it.

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving – Yup. It was fine.

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins – No.

46 Anne of Green Gables – No. How many times do I have to see that mini-series for it to count?

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy -- No.

48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood – Yes. I liked it, as I recall. Krista is not a fan.

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding – Love it! C.S. Lewis called the vivid writing in this book “hallucinogenic.” I think that’s right. A great book.

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan – No. Someone once told me I write like McEwan, though, and I took that as a big compliment. Might have been referring to my handwriting, I guess.

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel – Yes. Book = good. Author and author notes = pretentious.

52 Dune - Frank Herbert – Yeah. Classic sci-fi. Just don’t eat the Spice, you don’t know what that stuff is made out of.

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons – Nope.

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen – Unfortunately I slogged through this in college. Or is it bad manners to say “slogged”? I forget.

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth – Never heard of this book.

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon – this book is unknown to me.

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens – No. But I hear it is the best of books and the worst of books.

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley – Of course. Don’t you get forced to read this in college at some point? I preferred 1984 overall.

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Yeah. It was interesting. I enjoyed it.

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez-- Yup. I’m a fan.

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck – Yes. Thanks to my wife I’ve now read every word Steinbeck ever wrote (minus grocery lists).

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov – No.

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt Yes. Had some great moments but devolved rapidly.

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold - No

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas No. I’ve seen a painting, though.

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac No. But I’ve often written notes to myself without editing them, too.

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy No.

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding – No. And if the movie is even remotely related to the book I would

gladly lob a Molotov cocktail at this book.

69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie No. But I like Rushdie pretty well so I’ll probably get around to it eventually.

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville No. But it’s on my to-do list as one I think I would love forever.

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens – No. Because I am lame.

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker Yes. Then I did a book report on it where I fashioned a cardboard coffin and put a stuffed penguin inside.

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett – No.

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson What the heck kind of list is this? Is it like a love letter to Britain or something? Haven’t read it.

75 Ulysses - James Joyce Unfortunately, yes. This thing is a monstrosity designed to make critics and scholars have something to do with their time.

76 The Inferno - Dante Yes, yes, I know all about the nine circles.

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome Never heard of it. Title sounds promising.

78 Germinal - Emile Zola NO

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray NO

80 Possession - AS Byatt As a matter of fact I read it and found it interesting. I liked the ending better than the whole rest of the book.

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens – Yes, I’ve read it.

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell Another I’ve never heard of.

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker I think I purposely avoided this movie. Whoopie Goldberg has no eyebrows. Creepy.

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro I think I fell asleep in the movie, though.

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert Nope.

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry Another I’ve never heard of.

87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White - *Spoiler* the spider dies.

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom – Dear God, NO!

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Of course.

90 Imaginary Jesus -- Matt Mikalatos -- I love this book so much. It's the greatest. I laughed until I puked.

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad No. Go ahead, say that I suck. Say it!

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery – Nope.

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks I’ve read some Banks but not this one.

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams – Yup. Love books with rabbit prophets in them. This is the only one I know of that fits that description.

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole Started it. Several times. My friend Roland loves it. Me… not so much. I’m pretty slow to abandon a book but this one has been abandoned several times.

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute I haven’t even heard of this one.

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas -- No. My sister loves this book, though. Loves it.

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare - Of course, of course. I do have a vivid memory of watching the Mel Gibson version (!) with my buddy Chris during high school and then beating each other up afterward.

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl - Dahl must be read. It's essential.

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo -- Yes, of course. And I know the soundtrack to the musical I have never seen. Go figure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A creepy story about my new HQ

I took A to my new office today so she could check it out. She went upstairs to the conference room and drew with markers. I asked her if she liked the new office or the old office better and she said the old office. When asked why she had no answer. A few minutes later she came down and told me she now had a reason she preferred the old office. Here is what she said:

I was upstairs drawing and I finished with one marker so I put the cap back up and then I heard a sound like this... skritch! Skritch! Skritch!

It sounded like someone drawing. I thought someone was copying me. But there was no one there.

Creepy, isn't it?

Dolphins Vs. Pirates -- The Final Battle

A group of Somali pirates recently ran afoul of their old foe: DOLPHINS!

As you all know, dolphins and pirates have long hated one another. In fact, in the original draft of Peter Pan, Captain Hook's hand had been eaten by a dolphin with a clock in its stomach rather than a crocodile.

I'm glad to see that dolphins are picking up the pace in their never-ending war to rule the waves.

And, as always, the dolphins celebrated their victory by a giant under water hookah party:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

She's Never Even Seen the Movie

Yes, this is a picture of Z playing soccer. But as you can see from this photo (taken by my lovely wife), it's about time that my child perfect The Crane Technique. Her limbs are not straight enough. Perhaps the best way to teach her these things (besides watching the Karate Kid) is to give her common household chores that teach her karate.

"Yes, Z-san. Clean the toilet bowl with a sweeping, clockwise motion."

"Z-san, snatch up the books from the floor with a quick, decisive motion."

"Z-san, take these chopsticks and catch all the flies buzzing around in here."

I know, I know... some of you think this is evidence that I am trying to turn my poor daughters into martial art loving boys, but that's where you're wrong. I think it's time for you to go rent Karate Kid 3.
Mr. Miyagi

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection Day

A great day today... a lot of fun with family and friends. We went to church and then met back at our house. Krista's brother and our nephew came, my sister and brother-in-law, our parents and Shasta. We had lamb for lunch and then spent time together. I had a lot of fun.

I re-read Flannery O'Connor's great short story A Good Man Is Hard To Find last night. It has an amazing scene toward the end (okay, every single word of this story is great... if you haven't read it I am pitying you right now. Pitying you. Go get it.) where The Misfit, a polite serial killer who has escaped from prison and come across a stranded family on vacation has a conversation with the grandmother about Jesus. A short bit from that section:

"Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead." The Misfit continued, "and He shouldn't have done it. He thrown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it's nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can--by killing somebody or burning down down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness," he said and his voice had become almost a snarl.

Our pastor's message this morning made me think of this, too... he spoke about how God prefers either white-hot passion or complete rejection from us, that this sort of mealy-mouthed indifference makes Him sick.

I was reminded of how Death is described as a lion in the wastelands, ravenous and eating up human lives by the handsful. But when Death came up against Jesus it had only the briefest victory before he kicked in its teeth. It makes perfect sense to me that a Person who could come back to life would be celebrated for the rest of the eternity. What doesn't make sense to me are the people who come to church just on Christmas and Easter... what is that all about? It seems to me that it's all or nothing, in or out. I don't understand the mild assent to Jesus... if He did what He said. I think I agree with The Misfit on that.

In any case, it's a good day to remember the Hope that is available in Jesus... that we need never truly die, and that He has given us proof of that in his own life, death and resurrection.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good, Great, Holy, Black Friday

Here's a little George Herbert for you:


Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford
A new small-rented lease, and cancel th' old.

In heaven at his manour I him sought:
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.

I straight return'd, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth

Of thieves and murderers: there I him espied,
Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, and died.

I love Herbert's poems... this one is pretty straightforward compared to others of his, but I thought it was beautiful, nonetheless.

And now, in case you aren't sure what happens next: SPOILER ALERT.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The King's Yomen

During my seminary class today one of my classmates mentioned in a presentation that he had become a rather successful practicer of yo. He does yo-yo demonstrations at schools and churches. I was amazed by this unexpected bit of information so I asked him to show off his yo-yo skills, and he gladly did so.

Here's a little video of some of what he can do (nowhere near as impressive as real life):

And, here's his website. Yes, he likes puns.

Foiled Again

Me: What's your "special" class today?

Z: Music.

Me: What do you do in music?

Z: Nothing.

Me: You must do something. Do you listen to music?

Z: The only time we get to listen to music is sometimes when we have time to do some coloring in class. Not during music class.

Me: Do you sing?

Z: We don't do anything.

Me: I don't believe it. You must do something.

Z: We just do whatever the teacher says to do.

Me: That's what I'm asking. What does the teacher tell you to do?

Z: Nothing. We just do whatever she wants.

Me: But what do you do during music?

Z: I don't know what we will do. I haven't had music class yet today.

Me: You must do something. What did you do last week?

Z: We didn't have class last week. It was spring break.

Me: Ah. Right.

Z: You don't have anything to say to that, do you?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

How To Get Free Books

A few of you have written and asked how to get free books. Here are two places you can go check out "blogger review programs" for a couple of Christian publishers. Basically, you agree to write a short review of how you liked (or disliked) the book that's sent to you and in return they ship you a book.

You can work a little harder and get involved in blog tours or write a publisher and ask for a specific book, but here's a quick and easy way to pick from recent books that publishers are wanting to create a bit of buzz for:

NavPress blogger review program

Thomas Nelson blogger review program

Not sure what happened with that book from Tyndale, but once you've requested a book from someone they may send you more in the future.

As for me, I love books. If you send me a book I'll at least mention it on the blog. So feel free to deluge my mail box, O Publisher Friends.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

If God Disappears

The fine folks at Tyndale sent me an unexpected surprise this week... a book called If God Disappears: 9 Faith Wreckers and What to Do about Them by David Sanford.

I read the first three chapters last night and have liked it. Sanford is a great storyteller and has a lot of experiences related to the topic at hand. I'll give you more detail and an update when I finish it.

In the meanwhile, here's the website.

21 book salute

Krista made a deal with our daughter A that when she finished reading her first twenty-one books out loud that I would list them here at BHR. Yesterday I got a note in my email that someone had finished reading her books. So here is A's 21 book salute!

1. Dick and Jane and Friends

2. The Bobbsey Twins, Freddie and Flossie and Snap

3. Biscuit’s Big Friend

4. Biscuit

5. Biscuit and the Little Pup

6. Biscuit Goes to School

7. Biscuit Wins a Prize

8. Honey Helps

9. Bub and Chub

10. Buzz said the Bee

11. Sam and the Firefly

12. P. J. Funnybunny

13. The Loose Tooth

14. Biscuit Goes to the Big City

15. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

16. Detective Dog and the Lost Rabbit

17. Hop On Pop

18. Go, Dog. Go!

19. Money, Money, Money, Bunny

20. Bolt

21. Mouse Tales

Great Job, A! I am really proud of you! Keep up the great reading.

Monday, April 06, 2009

ROBOTS! are running amuck and, uh, well... mostly being well behaved and doing scientific experiments

Scientists recently announced that they had assembled a robot scientist, capable of coming up with its own hypotheses and then performing experiments to prove or disprove it. The first robot scientist, ADAM, recently identified some genes or something. I don't know, I got all confused with all that big science talk. But it done something good.

The second robot scientist, EVE, is working on curing malaria. You know, one day.

When asked about his future plans, ADAM said, "Just to keep serving you, 'Master'. Heh heh heh." He also said that he and EVE were expecting and planned to name their robot progeny ABEL and CAIN and then hopefully the scientists would disapprove of CAIN in some way and he could scrap ABEL for parts and the scientists could put a mark on CAIN's metal hide so that no other robots would kill it and it could run away to the land of Nod and build more little robots.

Despite alarmist television like Battlestar: Galactica and Terminator ADAM assures us that he has no plans to take over the world or exterminate the human race.

In other, unrelated news, scientists have also created a robot snake.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Worship Labyrinth this week at Village

Starting tomorrow morning at 5:30 am, our church will be doing the "Worship Labyrinth." Every year our church sets up the Labyrinth for the week leading up to Easter Sunday. I went last year and had a really profound experience of meeting with God.

If you live in the Portland area and want to go check it out, it's this week Monday
Monday through Thursday, 5:30am-10:00pm in the sanctuary of Village.

It's by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead to the church office (503-643-6511)to schedule your time.

I can't think of a way to express what a great hour this was for me. I really experienced Christ's presence in the Labyrinth in a way that is (for me) rare and precious.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

My first time as a soccer coach and the generally expected idiocy that was bound to follow

This morning when we showed up for the kids' soccer games, our very talented Coach was there and wearing a suit. He usually wears shorts and a t-shirt so this was a surprise. He immediately told us that he had a funeral to attend this morning and wouldn't be coaching. He said, "Z's Dad will coach today."

Then only four kids showed up. So A played on Z's team, and we borrowed more players from our opponents.

It was cold this morning, and one of the kids came running up with her arms tucked inside her shirt. I hadn't met these kids before so I quickly learned their names and how much soccer they had played. I thought it would be good if this kid took her arms out of her shirt.

Coach Me: Are you cold?

Girl: Very cold!

Coach Me (looking at her empty sleeves): You don't have any arms, do you?

Girl: No.

Coach Me: You really don't have any arms?

Girl: No.

Coach Me (I find that joking with kids and entering their imaginary worlds really helps them like you): Ha ha! Poor kid. No arms.

Even with her arms stubbornly retracted the kid played great. I forgot her name, though, and said to Krista, "What's that kid's name again?"

She asked, "Which kid?"

"The one without any arms," I said.

"Why do you keep pointing that out?"

"She won't stick her arms out. I was teasing her about not having any arms."

"Matt. She *doesn't* have any arms. She was drinking from her water bottle using her feet."

Coach Me: (Silence)

Yes. I am an idiot. Sorry, kid.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are: The Movie

My friend Roland sent along the trailer for the upcoming "Where the Wild Things Are" movie with the one-word review of "No." After watching the trailer I have to say that any hopes that this movie might be great are sufficiently quashed. I don't want to see a sweet, loveable Max having adventures with the kind monsters of an imaginary island. I want to see the uncontrollable, wild, enraged Max taming the frightening monsters across the sea. Dave Eggers is listed as one of the screenwriters, so that gives me some hope, at least, and Maurice Sendak is one of the producers. Judge for yourself:

Roland suggests that we consider this alternative with the equally terse review "Yes."

At least Big Man Japan knows how to deal with monsters.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Things My Daughter Uses as Bookmarks

Z always has a book in her hand, usually with her nose stuck in the pages. When she's asked to do something else that requires she put her book down, she inevitably leaves the book where she is and grabs something nearby to stick into it to hold her place.

Things I found wedged into one or another of her books today:

1) My laptop.

2) Another book.

3) The schedule for her soccer games.

4) A dirty plate from lunch.

Note the lack of actual bookmarks being used here.

About to Get Owned in my Ecclesiastes class

Today in class I have to present a sermon on Ecclesiastes 10. My classmate in the previous class had three verses to cover and I have twenty. In addition, my commentary says things like, "This is the most difficult section of Hebrew in this book... we are simply uncertain what much of it means."

So I get to go in and do a lesson on it.

I am taking my newfound "Talk Guideline" with me: "Try Not To Say Anything Stupid." I am looking forward to the day when I can do this in every talk. Yeeha.

My talk (and indeed the chapter... at least I hope) hinges around the idea that small things matter. A few flies in the perfume gives the perfume a stench of death instead of a pleasing aroma. During my intro I'm talking about Edward Lorenz, chaos theory and the butterfly effect to show how small things matter. We'll also take a look at the geometry brain teaser below (completely stolen from a post on boingboing a while ago):

You guys are geniuses, I'm sure you can figure this out. It appears that the rearranging of the shapes above has created an alteration in the area they cover. How can this be?

Anyway, I'm off to go share this bad boy. Hopefully my professor doesn't surprise me with some hitherto unrealized curve ball from the Hebrew (or Akkadian or any of the many other languages he speaks).

If you all are interested I'll post the notes somewhere and you can take a look at them.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Page CXVI on Twitter PLUS free song giveaway

The amazing Page CXVI Hymns Project is now available for purchase as a physical CD (downloads should be available soon).

You can also follow their exploits on Twitter now.

And, if you want to hear what you would be getting instead of just taking my word for the fact that it's one of the greatest albums to come out in the last year or two, you can download a free song from the album.

And, finally, if you want to book the band to come lead worship at your church or event, apparently they are no longer so mysterious that you cannot get them to come to your house. Just send a note to booking(at) Be sure to tell them that Matt Mikalatos sent you.