Friday, July 30, 2010

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Forty-Six: Social Engagements at the Social Security Office)

Dedicated to the old man sitting behind me for an hour at the Social Security Administration Office today.

OLD MAN: I don't know what makes them think we can sit here and wait all day, like we don't have anything better to do.


Actually, I can do that.  I don't have anything better to do.  I'm retired.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Because you demanded it! My daughter A invents Spanish songs on my voicemail.

I've gotten about three of these voicemail messages today. Here's the most recent one:

(Click to play. You will probably want to do it again and again.) If you speak Spanish at all, the enjoyable hidden message will brighten your day I'm sure.

It's like a passion play, but with Star Wars

I would follow this play around through the streets of New York City for three days. Yes, I would.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Year Old Today!

A year ago today we held our sweet little baby in our arms for the first time!  I can't believe she's a year old. She can walk (sort of) and talk (just yesterday she told me that a chicken says 'moo').

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY M!  We love you.  You are a gift from the Lord.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Coffee shops are for weaklings without original thoughts

I've been working hard to finish up my second book, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD CHRISTIANS.

Several of my friends have complained to me lately that THEIR friends keep asking if I spend a lot of time writing in coffee shops.  This is, of course, one of the stereotypical pictures of the writer.  Another would be me, smoking a cigarette over a typewriter while drinking copious amounts of booze.  But this is not how I work, no!  Coffee shops... too much coffee!  And I can't control the music that is being played which is distracting!  And I can't stop eavesdropping on the people around me!

Behold, my secret.  When writing I prefer a two person hammock, preferably brown with a taupe stand.  If a stand is unavailable it is acceptable to hang the hammock between two trees (12 to 15 feet apart, maple).  Shade is necessary to save on laptop battery power.  The pillow should be folded in half to give superior lifting ability.  Also, preferably to be delivered by someone else, along with occasional snacks.  Or meals.  Or just a quick visit to say, "I was thinking about how hard it is to be a writer and how gifted you are and how you are probably wishing you had a pack of cigarettes right now, and I just wanted to say I am proud of you and keep working because you are going to win a Pulitzer I bet or an Oscar or whatever prize it is that they give you authors."

But now it is night and I have moved in to the couch.  Imagine a similar picture, but with a couch and less flora.  That is what it looks like now. 

And how is the book coming along?  Why just fine.  Now bring me some macadamia nuts.

P.S. Don't smoke cigarettes.  It is bad for you and the people around you.  And 90% of hammock related deaths happen because of smoking in hammocks.

Monday, July 26, 2010

This is amazing

Here's a video of Captain Brian Bews ejecting from his jet less than a second before it hits the ground.  He stayed in the jet to make sure it wouldn't crash into any civilians or spectators.  Reports say he is well, but went to the hospital with injuries after hitting the ground (his parachute was only partially opened because of how late he ejected).

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weep Not, O Faithful Readers, For Behold! I Bring You a Blog Post of Unexpected Fabulousity!

When you go as long without blogging as I have just done, everyone wonders for a little while if you're going to have to give the blog CPR.  Could it be that the blogger has lost all interest in what he blogs about?  Is he about to change the name of the blog and then bring in a bunch of other writers to put up posts and then quietly slink away?  Of course, all the enemies of this blog have been so pleased that it has been so long since I posted that they have been trumpeting all over the internet, THE BURNING HEARTS REVOLUTION IS DEAD!

But that is not so.  Of course.  Because, as I've already proven, I will continue to blog long after the fad is gone and it becomes a tool relegated to old men.  Ahem.  Like now.  Also... I have auto-scheduled a blog post for the year 2057, so if it ever appears that the blog is discontinued you will know that there is one more post coming in the far flung future.  I can say without reservation that it is the funniest, most poignant, most deeply moving piece I have ever written.  It's worth the wait.  Sometimes when I wake in the middle of the night I get up and warm a glass of milk and sit and read it over and over until the warm satisfied glow that comes after all the tears and the laughter and the reminder of halcyon days gone by washes over me, and then I curl up around the computer and sleep like a baby kitten in a pane of sunlight.  It is that good.

In other news, instead of doing the traditional blogger apology paragraph where I tell you "boo hoo I love you my dear audience and I will never leave you again" I thought I would take the more honest route of saying that I hate you all, you magnificent horrible whiners.  And rather than giving you one shred of actual clue as to why I've not been blogging, I thought I would put a poll up on the sidebar where you can decide for yourself.  So stop sending me your little notes all the time saying "Are you all right, Matt" and "We're concerned for you because you usually are too much of a narcissist to keep from blogging for more than a day or two."  So be sure to take the poll, and in the comments feel free to leave an impressive list of topics you would like to see me address in future blog posts. 

That is all.  You may now return to the inferior blogs you have been filling your life with since I have left you hanging. 


The Revolutionist

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Fireworks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are exciting.

My kids are in a swim club.  Which means I'm in a club of sorts, too.  I never knew this, but being in swim club as a child means that in addition to practice and the swim fees and swim meets there's this thing called "Volunteer Hours."  You have to volunteer a certain amount or you get fined.  It's something like 800 hours, or you can buy your way out for forty bucks an hour.  Needless to say, Krista and I have chosen a life of indentured servitude to the Swim Team in exchange for which my children will grow up to have excellent back strokes and will often think, I imagine, while swimming in the Olympics, Thanks be to my parents for their hard work and dedication in doing all those volunteer hours. Without them I could have never become the best swimmer in the entire world.

This month's volunteer hours involved working at a Fireworks Stand in preparation for the 4th of July.  Now, you have to understand that we live in Washington, where fireworks are legal, and people come from several states away to buy them.  We had customers from as far away as California.  You could recognize them because of their deep tans shining out among the pasty white Oregonians and Washingtonians, and the way they would whisper, "Hey man, you got any, you know, fireworks?"

I grew up in California, so I know what it's like to live in a land where fire is illegal.  It's true.  Boy scouts in California have to learn to rub two sticks together until water comes out of them.  And fireworks are an unheard of and monstrously evil substance that can only be used in the most carefully constructed circumstance, and even the professionals are encouraged only to launch fireworks over bays of water.

In a strange piece of Washingtonian legislature, bottle rockets are illegal in Washington.  Every third customer asked me for bottle rockets, and I would tell them, "Those are illegal." One customer asked why.  I told him that they were too dangerous (this seemed like a safe answer).  He picked up a 500 gram mortar shell which had the dire warning SHOOTS FLAMING BALLS LIGHT ON GROUND AND STEP AWAY DO NOT HOLD IN HAND NO SPECTATORS WITHIN 100 FEET and asked, "Is this one dangerous?"  I assured him it was perfectly safe if one followed the directions and correctly built the bomb shelter in the way laid out in the instructions. 

Another interesting moment was when a customer asked me if our fireworks were made in America.  Which of course, no, they aren't.  Because the Chinese firework factories still have not taught us their secrets.  That is to say, we haven't figured out how to pay someone less than minimum wage to pour gunpowder into tiny packets with one's bare hands while an assembly line grumbles and sparks nearby.  This creates for interesting ironies when I pick up a firework named AMERICA RISING! to celebrate the U.S. of A and realize that it is made in China.

Perhaps the most frightening moment came when a man walked into our tent full of TNT, his hair and eyes equally wild, looked around, held up his unlit cigarette and asked, "Hey, man, you got a light?"  My eyes immediately darted to the two tiny fire extinguishers by the tent flap door which, I imagined, would not be particularly useful if a table full of fireworks caught on fire.  I did not particularly want my obituary to read, "HE TRIED TO PUT OUT A FLAMING TENT FULL OF FIREWORKS WITH AN EXTINGUISHER."  On the other hand, I thought that a fire extinguisher probably could be used to knock out a crazy person.  I cleared my throat and explained to the crazy gentleman that we were, in fact, standing in a tent full of fireworks and that even if we had a light (and we didn't) that we wouldn't give it to him and that although we had an inexplicably small sign saying NO SMOKING we meant it very, very sincerely, as if our lives depended on it (which they did).  He nodded and then walked around the tent looking at fireworks.  One of my co-volunteers gave me a look which said something like, I want to live to volunteer at next month's swim meet, please don't let him kill us with his smoking.  So I followed the crazy man around until he left.

On the 4th I realized that risking my life to provide our neighborhood and many others with the firepower necessary to celebrate the birth of our nation was worth every moment.  It wasn't just when my brother-in-law and I lit screaming space eye-balls that flew into the crowd of spectators, or the way that parachute laden firecrackers landed on our neighbor's roof.  It was the whole smoke-clouded spectacle of watching our Tongan neighbors light twenty-seven professional grade fireworks at once, aimed right over our roof, and the jolly comraderie as we all packed our folding chairs into the street to watch a show bigger and brighter and more fun than all the professional shows I've ever been to.  And meanwhile, good friends and family eating too much good food and all of us enjoying not just America, where State rights allow Washington to celebrate individual freedoms like buying our own fireworks, and waving around insanely long sparklers and then later entire packs of sparklers in each hand, just trying to use them up, and my brother-in-law and I are getting careless and lighting fireworks in our hands and tossing them nonchalantly before they pop and the neighbors are starting to tie all the fuses of their fireworks together because we're running out of time to celebrate, because midnight is on the way and then it will be the 5th of July and we'll all crawl into our beds and listen to the last few delayed and muffled celebratory explosions in the distance, and then a satiated and jolly neighborhood slips into contented sleep and in the morning we all wake up and say, next year it will be even better, why would we ever go to another big fireworks show again when we could visit those white tents and create something beautiful right here on our own street and above our own home?

You are all invited to next year's festivities.  And if you happen to pass a Reservation, pick up some bottle rockets on your way.