Thursday, December 22, 2011

WHAM! presents, "Last Christmas"

Today as we were driving in the car, Krista said, "This Wham! song is getting played constantly right now. Why is that?"

Because it is Wham!'s Christmas song, of course!

Here it is:

I am reminded now why we did not need bicycle helmets in the 80's. Our hair provided a cushion, softening the impact should our heads hit the ground. Beautiful. Anyway, this set Krista and I off on a tangent. What was the name of that other guy in Wham!? And what had happened to him? George Michael we know, but what became of (as Krista said) "that dark-haired guy"?

 So, thankful for the powers of the internet, I set out tonight to learn more about That Dark-Haired Guy who was once part of Wham!

His name, my friends, is Andrew Ridgeley. And if you are too lazy to click on that link (not that I blame you for your laziness! This is the internet!) you will discover that Andrew (after a brief stint in Monaco as a Formula 3 race car driver) went on to eventually record a solo album, which wasn't received all that well, and now he spends much of his time in semi-retirement, playing golf and hanging out with his girlfriend, who is a member of the band Bananarama. So there you have it. He seems to be a rather nice guy.

Somehow, we never thought this would embarrass us.
It's a slogan for the entire decade of the 80's.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dreams: The next Muppet movie

Last week I had a series of dreams in which I was asked to write the next Muppet movie. Every time I woke up, I would think, That was a weird dream. Then I would go back to sleep and the dream would pick up where it left off.

It started with me being asked to write the movie after I somehow came across a group of men debating the plot at a coffee shop. They were so impressed with my input that they asked me to take over as head writer. I got the feeling that they didn't really want to write it, anyway, and they were glad to have someone else take over.

So, I started writing a story called "The Muppets: Going Home."

The story started with Gonzo finding an unhatched dinosaur egg in a cave. In New York City, of course.

There were quite a few vivid scenes. Here are some of my favorites:

1) Gonzo gets a time-travelling bicycle from Bunsen and Beaker so he can take the egg back in time to find its mommy and daddy. But because he gets tired while riding he often has to stop in different eras to catch his breath.

2) In the middle ages, a group of pigs steal the egg and Gonzo enlists the help of a bunch of birds to get it back, by launching the birds on a giant slingshot against the walls of the castle until it collapses.

3) Gonzo destroys his own timeline by releasing a particularly hungry carnivore back into the wild, which means that Gonzo returns to a bleak future. Determined to go back and convince himself not to hatch the egg, he goes back in time only to find hundreds of Gonzos from different timelines all trying to convince themselves to do different things, including "JUMP YOUR MOTORCYCLE OVER A POOL OF OATMEAL!"

4) In the earliest days of New York City, Gonzo meets Statler and Waldorf (the old men in the balcony) as young men. They are just as cranky and mean-spirited as youth as they will be as old men. Now that I'm awake I think this could be funnier if they were kind and encouraging as young men, always talking about how they wouldn't turn out like the old people around them.

Of course all the main Muppets appeared in the story one way or another. And there was a funny scene where Gonzo attached a bike cart to the time travelling bike and pedaled the entire cast into the past, straining to go fast enough to trigger the time travel device.

All in all, it was fine dream and was pretty much the equivalent of watching a Muppet movie that hasn't yet been made. So, my thanks to Mr. Sandman for the movie/dream. I hope you all get to see it one day.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ridiculous Reviewers on Amazon: Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol

Ahhhh, Christmas. The lights are lit, the bells are ringing, the children are singing, the average weight of adult Americans is creeping upward thanks to the cheery glow of the cookie-filled ovens. It's a wonderful time of year.

And, as if to make it more wonderful, it's time for another Ridiculous One Star Review from Amazon, these particular reviews for the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. For those who don't know, A Christmas Carol is the story of a miserly businessman who receives four ghostly visitors who help him to see the meaning of Christmas and the need to be generous toward those less fortunate than him. It's a fun story, and rightfully a classic. But that won't stop our reviewers! No! YOU CAN'T STOP US FROM RATING A CLASSIC WITH ONE STAR! This is, after all, America.

I'm saving my favorite review for last, but let's start with Chris Brown of Boston, MA, who says, in part:

There can be no arguing with Dickens's wish to show the spiritual advantages of love. But there was no need to make the object of his lesson an entrepreneur whose ideas and practices benefit his employees, society at large, and himself. Must such a man expect no fairer a fate than to die scorned and alone? Bah, I say. Humbug."
Uh-oh. Looks like someone is about to get a midnight visit from a deceased co-worker! I'm pretty sure the point, Chris Brown, is that Scrooge's practices weren't benefiting anyone other than himself. Remember Bob Cratchitt? Remember tiny Tim? Remember everyone else who ever crossed his path? 

Poodley Beagle Ellis (REAL NAMEtm) says it's "The stupidest, most confusing book in the world."  Wow!

But my favorite one star review came from John Doe of New Jersey, who said several things of note including:

Before reading A Christmas Carol, I automatically gave the book the highest regard probably because I was influenced by the Disney's movie version, at least that's what I thought the book will be like. It didn't turn out to be the case. 

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the character
of Scrooge was not even a duck!
Yes, it's always a disappointment to fall in love with the Disney version and then discover that the original was different somehow.

John Doe goes on to complain about the "five dollar words" and that Scrooge gets hand-picked for a Christmas tour. John would prefer someone "worthier" be chosen. He also found the book "too religious." In a spiritual sense.

Lastly, Mr. Doe shares what I think is my favorite critique of the tale when he writes, "I didn't like the part where a character is judged by how he views money."  Alas, neither did poor Mr. Scrooge!

And that is all for today's One Star Review. Merry Christmas and a hearty BAH HUMBUG to all of you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

More sightings of Night of the Living Dead Christian in the wild!

I'm running a bit behind on updates about Night of the Living Dead Christian! So consider this your king-sized helping of Catchup.

First, the Columbian, the local paper here in Vancouver ran a short article about me and the book this week. Be sure to read carefully, or you might get confused and think that I opened a jazz joint! That's the other guy featured in the article! Special thanks to Ruth Zschomler for writing the article!

My parents, coincidentally, happened by the store mentioned in the article, Cover to Cover Books, and look what they found:  


Fellow author Renee Johnson Fisher sent along this lovely picture, and shared her review of the book here:

And THEN, as if that was not enough, Renee somehow was hanging out with yet-another-fellow-author named Lisa Velthouse, and they sent me a tweet asking if my ears were burning and when I clicked on it I saw this:

Awww, thanks ladies. I can't believe we've never met face to face, because I really, really like you both.

Now, that is not all. You must go see this review from last week's blog tour, in which The Never Ending Story is invoked, including a hilarious invitation to ride a luck dragon named Falcor. And then there is this interview with J.R. Forasteros.

Last but not least I wanted to mention this picture from Terrence Green, because I WAS HIS HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER! Can you believe it? You probably can. But it's weird to see my students all, like, adults and stuff.

Whew! I think we're all caught up now! Breathe a sigh of relief!

It's time for some music appreciation classes

Yesterday I went to put on some Christmas music for me, Krista and our almost-9-year-old, A. 

Me: What sort of Christmas music do you want?

Krista: How about Handel's Messiah?

A: Is Handel a band you like or something?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD CHRISTIAN: The Blog Tour! In 3-D! With Bonus Free Book Feature! Like Nothing You've Ever Seen!

A lot of times people ask if I'm going to go on tour... you know, drive my car from city to city, bite my nails while I wonder if people will show up at my reading, try to convince people to buy my book, sign some books, try not to pass out from the magic marker fumes, get back in the car and rub my hands together in the cold, watch my breath fog up the window, neglect my job and my family, et cetera.

Those sorts of book tours are increasingly uncommon, although the big names will still do them. I'll make you a deal: if I get catapulted onto the New York Times Bestseller List (in any category), I'll do a book tour and come to your town and do a reading at your house and so on.

In the meantime, today my wonderful publisher, Tyndale House, and my likewise wonderful publicist, Christy! W! Stroud! have set up a "blog tour." How it works is this: a whole heap of bloggers have read Night of the Living Dead Christian, and they're all going to review it simultaneously (as if by hidden signals).

BONUS BONUS BONUS characteristic of this blog tour is that they will ALL BE GIVING AWAY A COPY AS PART OF THEIR REVIEW.

So, if you want a free copy, or another copy, or a copy to give away, or just need something to anonymously put in your pastor's inbox just to see what sort of post-Christmas message he'll come up with, here are the sites you should be frequenting today:

EDIT: I am working my way through the whole blog tour, but it's taking a while! Lots of great posts out there. I'm putting a plus sign by all the blogs I've read that have a post. You should be able to tell where I left off, and I'll keep making my way through tomorrow night. LOTS OF OPPORTUNITIES TO WIN A FREE COPY OUT THERE!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An excellent reminder of our limitations, as presented by my two-year-old

Walking to school this morning with the kids, I pointed out the moon in the western sky, full and bright in the early sunlight.

The so-called baby, M, looked up and said, "The moon!" Then she paused, thought about it for a moment and added, "I can't reach it."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday: Haiku Traffic signs in NYC

Since that earlier Wonderful Wednesday was wonderful-with-a-question-mark, here's a pure wonderful one. New York City recently put up haiku and traffic . Here's the scoop.

This particular news brought to you by Nurse Shasta. She cares about your health.

Wonderful Wednesday (?) : Batman Christmas Special!

I watched this and it made me laugh. It's so weird as to be nearly nonsensical, but it was funny. But also it was not quite, um, kosher. If Christmas can be described as kosher. Warning: if you have kids around you may want to preview this, as a certain antlered creature at the North Pole is done away with and a red-clad merry elf is looking a little less than well by the end. It's not a game, though. More of a music video.
Games at - Batman Christmas SpecialBatman Christmas Special
Play this free game now!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Eavesdropping With Matt (Episode Sixty: If you're going to talk like a geek, at least get your facts straight)

Dedicated to the two guys sitting behind me at the Nutcracker ballet. An old guy and a young guy, equal in ignorance!

Guy #1: You know Superman and Batman?

*SPOLIER* I heard that in the new Batman movie,
Catwoman and Batman get married and have babies!
 I found this picture here.
Guy #2: Yeah. They are just beating super heroes into the ground with movies. Batman movies. What have there been now, three? They just, they just don't have any stories worth telling any more.
Guy #1: Are Superman and Batman from Marvel Comics or some other company?

Guy #2: They're all Marvel.

Guy #1: Not X-Men. They're Capcom.

Guy #2: Well, I do know that the Marvel comics, they used to have this whole family called The Marvel Family.

Guy #1: Oh yeah?

Guy #2: And the dad, Captain Marvel, he would always shout SHAZAM!

Then I turned around and shouted, STOP IT STOP IT YOU ARE HURTING MY HEART!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Starring Darth Vader as the Grinch

Ah, the time has come for Christmas posts! Yay!

I enjoyed this little video, as it made Darth Vader seem like a charming old sourpuss instead of a galaxy-ruling mass murdering sociopath.

I'm pretty sure I first saw this on Marc's blog. And, if not, shame on you, Marc, for not finding this first.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Can the Bulldog be saved?

Last week's New York Times Magazine ran this interesting article about the plight of the modern bulldog. Apparently the inbreeding necessary to create pure breed dogs is resulting in a dying, health-challenge breed. I've forced my poor wife to listen to me philosophize about it at least twice. And, as a service to her, I am now going to force you all to read it so that I can leave her in peace.

Here it is.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Most popular posts in November

I enjoyed sharing your favorite BHR posts last month, and it seems just self-focused enough of an activity to make it charming later in the month when I realize the true meaning of Christmas.

Observations: First place, as always, goes to the most popular post ever on this blog, about our tenth anniversary. If you are looking for a successful theme for your blog, this is the one. Write every day for a year about your tenth anniversary and I guarantee you'll be successful.

Three out of the four remaining posts basically had to do with me complaining. About Amazon, or the Spokane TSA, or porn commercials on a game app.

Lastly, you're wondering about a sequel to NLDC, or what my next writing project might be. Hopefully you won't have to wait long... I pitched an idea to my agent this week!

Anyway, here are the posts, in order of popularity:

5) Why I'm deleting your app

It's like nostalgia for the month that just ended.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Night of the Living Dead Christian... IN JAMAICA!

Mike Campbell sends an update from a cruise in Jamaica (Note to self: see if I can get people to take me along on cruises instead of taking my books!). He said that so long as I keep publishing books, he'll keep sending us pictures of him reading them in exotic locations. Nice! He also says, "if your real life is anything like your character in the books, I suggest you convert to Catholicism so your ever patient wife can be canonized as a saint!"

Thanks, Mike!

And remember, friends, send in your pictures with Night of the Living Dead Christian or Imaginary Jesus and I'll be sure to post them here!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Preaching this weekend at the First Church of God in Vancouver, WA

I'm preaching this weekend at the First Church of God in Vancouver, Washington, which is my parents' church. It's a great church, and I had a lot of fun the last time I preached there, and I'm sure this time will be no different. There are services Saturday night at 5 and Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11.

Also, last time I spoke at FCoG, I got a lot of people wanting to know why I didn't have copies of my book for sale, including Pastor Don. This is a mistake that will surely be rectified this weekend. So if you'd like a signed copy of one of my books for yourself or as a gift, I'd be glad to provide you an opportunity to score one.

See you this weekend!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Appearance at the Oregon Faith and Culture Writer's Connection this Thursday night

This Thursday night I'll be hanging out with the Oregon Faith and Culture Writer's Connection. Once a month the OFCW gets together to connect and share about the writing life. This month I'm the guest speaker... we'll talk about writing, I'll do a reading from Night of the Living Dead Christian, do a question and answer time, and I'll also have copies of the book available for sale. Of course I'll sign books as well.

Date: Thursday, November 17th
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Rolling Hills Community Church, located at 3550 SW Borland Road in Tualatin.

I hope you can make it... looking forward to seeing you there.

Why I'm deleting your app

Dear "Dragon, Fly!" app developers. I like your app. I think it's a fun game, and since it's a one-touch control, my 2 year old likes it, too, and she likes to play the game. The game is clean, easy to use and simple enough for her to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, the ads on your game are also one-touch. And for some unfathomable reason you are consistently running ads for Playboy. I don't know if you think because it says "bunnies" that makes it appropriate for two-year-olds but I assure you that it's not. I thought it might be a passing thing, but it doesn't appear to be. So, guess what? We're going to be fine without your app.

Let me know if you change your advertising policies or lineup to make them more family-friendly. And less exploitative of women. Gracias.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Places Where My Toothpaste Has Traveled, And Where It Now Rests

"Sir, you're going to have to check that."
Until yesterday, I had a 4.1 ounce tube of Colgate toothpaste. I had taken this particular tube of toothpaste to San Diego, East Asia, San Francisco and then to Spokane without any trouble, and through many airline security checkpoints. No one in the TSA complained about this, my 4.1 ounce tube of toothpaste, which I dutifully bagged in a quart sized baggie and pulled out for the TSA to inspect at every stop along the way.

Until yesterday, when the TSA lady in Spokane pulled my baggie out, gave me the "What are you trying to pull?" squint and said, "Sir, this is a 4.1 ounce tube of toothpaste and TSA guidelines state that you can only have 3.4 ounce containers of toothpaste. Would you like to surrender your toothpaste or go check your bag?"

I did not want to surrender my toothpaste. As I said, it had traveled around with me quite a bit and I was feeling attached to it. So I asked her what it would look like for me to check my bag. She patiently explained that I would be escorted out of the secure zone and allowed to go check my bag and then go through security again. Sigh. Adios, pasta dentifrica.

I know this TSA agent was just doing her job (and I'm glad the TSA is doing their job), but it made me mad. I mean, why can't toothpaste companies make 3.4 ounce containers? And if they do, why doesn't my grocery store carry them? Am I really putting the nation at risk with an extra 7 ounces of toothpaste? And why doesn't it count that I had used at least seven ounces of toothpaste already?

AND ESPECIALLY: Why is it that one of my traveling companions, who was directly in front of me in line and who didn't take her toothpaste out of her bag, and WHO HAD A FULL-SIZED TUBE OF TOOTHPASTE in her bag allowed to keep hers? Am I being profiled? Should I have left my tube of toothpaste in my bag instead of taking it out? Is the TSA lady brushing her teeth with my toothpaste right now? Is it true that Crest is less likely to be noticed or confiscated by the TSA?

In the meantime, I guess it's back to filling my depleted three ounce tubes with a giant 97 ounce tube from Costco.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I am on an airplane!

Right now, if all goes well, I should be on an airplane coming back from my too-short-trip to Asia. If that's not the case, I suppose you will be treated to some entertaining posts in the weeks to come.

Anyway, sometimes people say things to me like, "Matt, why are you posting on your blog right now instead of doing Some Other Thing I Want You To Do?" Usually this involves things like power washing their car, or juggling fiery torches or working on some inverse kinematics.

You might think this is a reasonable request, ESPECIALLY the inverse kinematics, because otherwise how will I ever teach my robot arm to pick up my side of the room? However, I just want to point out, Internet Friends, that sometimes I schedule my posts in advance. Yes. I know. It seems like cheating, and we would like the internet to be immediate and responsive.

Don't worry, though, there are some fun things about posting in advance. For instance, on my birthday in the year 2174 you guys are going to have a great time. I mean, I just packed every secret I know into that post. And not just my own secrets! It's going to be great!

For all you skeptics out there who think I always post in real time, I think you will enjoy this post.

Okay my friends, that is all. I'll be in Spokane this weekend hanging out with a bunch of college seniors and Cru staff, talking about how to make a decision about what to do with the rest of your life! Which I'm guessing half of the Cru staff are asking, in addition to the seniors who will be there. Should be fun.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Behold! The Laughing Monk!

Every once in a while I kick around comic book ideas. It would be really fun to write a comic some day. I've got a little secret project brewing that I hope I can share with you soon, together with my new buddy M.S. Corley, but in the meantime I thought I'd show you a comic I started writing and then decided to sit on.

I love Batman, but I miss the old days when he was a shadowy vigilante who used his detective skills and fisticuffs to beat up and outwit the bad guys. The Zorro style Batman, basically. I wanted to write a character who was that sort of guy... protector of the downtrodden, ordinary man, hero. So I came up with The Laughing Monk, a swashbuckling vigilante on the Mexican border who protects the people of the border town of Todos Santos. I sent the script to my friend Steve Downer and he liked it enough to throw me a quick sketch of the Monk... as you can see he kept to the Batman/Zorro inspiration, and I like it a lot!

Here's the script for first eight pages of the first issue, and a synopsis of the first story arc. It would need another draft, for sure There are some things I'd need to change (my Catholic friends, for instance, tell me that the Father speaks like a t.v. priest instead of a real one). I named the main character after my maternal grandfather, just for fun, but if it were ever published I don't know if I'd do that.

Anyway, there you go, some fun for your weekend. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sometimes I Think About Changing the Title of this Blog

Let's be honest, no one can remember the name, "Burning Hearts Revolution." I mean, I like it and everything. Maybe you do, too, so I'll leave that on the survey. But why don't you take a minute to pick a preferred name below. Some of the names are jokes. I'll let you decided which ones. And I even left you a handy place where you can leave your own suggested titles. But please don't suggest a title like, "THINK OF YOUR OWN TITLE YOU LAZY AUTHOR" because I already thought of it and rejected it for reasons I think you will discover for yourself if you reflect on it long enough.

And now... to the survey, my minions!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Night of the Living Dead Christian... sequel?

I'm travelling right now, and part of the fun is leaving you some food for thought while I'm on the road. This post, therefore, has nothing to do with what I'm doing right now but only concerns... THE FUTURE! But is this a post concerning what is to come or merely what may be to come? That is for you, dear reader, to decide!

I talked a while back with Tyndale about doing some spin offs of Night of the Living Dead Christian, specifically doing novella-length stories as "mini-sequels" taking place in the NLDC universe and following in more detail the growth process of one of the minor players of NLDC. The first would be about Robert, the “ex-zombie”, the second about Lara the vampire and the third about Reverend Frank Martin and his other son, Marty.

Now, Tyndale said they wanted me focused on the current book, not off daydreaming about some other thing to come down the line (okay, they didn't say that exactly, and they're much nice than that) but I can't stop thinking about the characters and the story. So, here's a question:

If these stories were available as novellas, as e-books, would you want to read them? And would you be willing to pay a buck or two to do so? And, since I'm asking all these questions, which one sounds best to you?

Story One:
Former zombie Robert Doyle is finding life among the living difficult. He’s so used to following the commands of his zombie master that he honestly doesn’t know what he wants, what his preferences are, or how he’d like to spend his life. The only thing he knows for sure is that he loves hard-boiled detective novels. So he sets up shop as a gumshoe. It’s not long before he’s contacted with his first case… a missing girl, who disappeared at a local church outreach. An initial visit reveals a church full of happy, bubbly, impossibly nice and contented church goers. But all is not as it seems. The trail for the missing girl leads deeper into the church, into the labyrinthine corridors beneath the surface. And now Robert finds himself alone, in the dark, facing off against an entire underground race of monsters… monsters bent on making him and the girl into creatures of the deep below, just like them. The odds seem impossible, but one thing’s certain: Robert isn’t leaving without the girl.

Story Two:
Lara, the newest alto in the struggling church choir Sonshine Singers, has a secret. She’s a vampire. Keeping a secret like that – being (sort of) dead – isn’t easy, which is why she came to a Big Box Mega Church in the first place. But now the head pastor is preaching on “Monsters In Our Midst” and the congregation is out with pitchforks and torches. Plus, Lara is starting to suspect that the pastor himself is not all he seems, despite the long list of accolades, accomplishments and his slavishly devoted fans. To top it all off, Lara is getting “thirsty” and that long-necked tenor is starting to look like a great big juice box… even worse, the Easter Cantata is only three weeks away, and Lara has been “promoted” to soprano. Sounds like a disaster, one way or another, a disaster that Lara is determined to avoid, resist and out-sing. The stakes are high, and the notes are higher, but for the first time in years Lara feels like she has a challenge she can really sink her teeth into.

Story Three:
Reverend Frank Martin had two sons. During unhappy years of his life, he drove them both away, trying (he thought) to help them. Given the recent reunion with his younger son, Luther, Frank is thinking about trying to contact his older son to try to make amends. But finding Marty Martin is proving more difficult than he imagined. Now there are rumors of a strange beast in the forests around Mt. St. Helens… a sasquatch or bigfoot. But a grainy amateur video reveals a loping walk Frank remembers all too well. Now he’s packed his things for an extended stay in the wilderness, hoping to reconnect with his son. The only problem with Frank’s plan is that Marty Martin has no intention of being reunited with his father. On the contrary, he has every intention of killing Frank because of what happened to Marty’s mother. But Frank is determined to show Marty once and for all that a father’s love is more powerful than their shared past.

OKAY... this all hinges on you. What do you think? Yea or Nay?