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?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Where in the world is Matt Mikalatos?

I am in Asia!

At least, if all scheduled flights went well, that's where I am.

Krista and I used to live here, and for the first time in quite a few years we're going back together. We're both excited, and it should be a good time.

But I wanted to let you know that if you are trying to get ahold of me you might have a hard time, and while you are snug in your bed I'm probably eating some dan bing or xiao long bao or something. Ken Cheung, feel free to correct my pinyin.

Anyway, I've left some little surprises for you every day through Friday, so there will be posts popping up here every day through Friday at least, and if I have time I'll put up some posts in Asia as well.

Have a lovely week, and if you think of it feel free to go out to Asian food in my honor.

Friday, November 04, 2011

I wish Amazon would fix this

Okay, let's be honest. As embarrassed as I am to love a behemoth corporation like Amazon, the fact is that I do. They have always made my life better, starting with when, once upon a time, they shipped books I couldn't find anywhere else to my house FOR FREE. And the Kindle has changed my life for the better... it has altered how I travel and how I read in a way that is undeniably positive. And I would be lying if I said I didn't want to go get a Kindle Fire. That's not going to happen where I am financially, but I still want one. And I love the author services set up through Amazon, and I bought my first album in the cloud the other day (the new, amazing, Switchfoot album, Vice Verses). All that to say... I am a fan. All things being equal I'll buy from Amazon rather than some other e-tailer.

So, today, I go to download a couple of books for my Kindle for an upcoming trip, planning to charge it to one of my credit cards that I use for this specific purpose, but when I went to buy them, there was nowhere to choose my payment options. I can only buy it through the "one click" system... for my convenience. So I can't choose which credit card I want to use unless I go and alter the settings. So I went and altered the settings so I could use that card. And then, when I hit "one click" it CHARGED MY GIFT CARD BALANCE. 

As it happens, I was planning to save my gift card balance to buy Christmas gifts.  There is no way to change the payment once it's made. So I contacted Amazon. Here's our chat. I changed the name of the very helpful Amazon associate, as this is not about him (he was great) but about Amazon:

Me: I just purchased two e-books but instead of using my credit card to pay, Amazon used my gift certificate balance. I'd like to use my credit card, not my gift certificate balance.

Amazon: Hello, my name is (Amazon employee). I'll be happy to help you.

Me: Thanks, Amazon employee.

Amazon: I'm sorry Matt, if the gift card balance is there in the account, it will charge first.

Me: So is there a way to get it refunded? I need to use my credit card, not my (gift card) balance.

Amazon: Matt, I can issue you refund. But still if you again order something ,your gift card will be charged,if it has the balance.

Me: I will buy it elsewhere then. Thanks!

Amazon: Okay.

Me: So, I guess go ahead and issue the refund and return the books if you have to. I would be great if there was actually an option on this. I know you can choose on physical books, it seems short-sighted of Amazon not to have the option for ebooks
I know that's not your decision, but I prefer buying books at Amazon...

Amazon: May I know the books names you want to be refunded.

Me: One is "Culture Making" and the other is "best spiritual writing 2011"

Amazon: Thank you Matt. I have refunded the books you will be notified in the email about this.

Me: Thanks. I wish there were a way to buy these books without using my gift card. Anyway, thanks for your help.

Amazon: You will credited with in 2-3 business days. I'm really sorry for the inconvenience you faced Matt.

You are welcome. Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me: no. thanks

Amazon: Thanks for visiting We hope to see you again soon!

actually... if I buy the books now it will charge my credit card, right? Since the gift card balance isn't in there?

And that is what I did. So, just to make it clear, here are the necessary steps for me to take if I want to order my Kindle e-book on a specific credit card instead of using my gift card:

1) Order the book.

2) Search the site to see if there's some way to change the payment that was used. There's not (not for e-books, anyway).

3) Contact Amazon help.

4) Return the e-books. (At least this step was relatively painless.)

5) Quickly purchase the books again with my creidt card before the gift card balance is restored.

So, the convenience of one-click ordering took me about 35 minutes. Yay. 

Amazon, please fix this. Gracias. 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Fifty-Nine: Mama didn't raise no zombies!)

Black Ranger, Spider Ranger, Bat Ranger, Blue Ranger.
Every year there's someone charming at the door when Halloween rolls around. This year it was an eight-year-old kid who was wearing a Power Rangers costume with a Spider-Man shirt pulled over it, a Captain America helmet on his head and a Boba Fett jet pack on his back. His mom hovered just behind him for this conversation.

Me: What are you? A Power Ranger?

Mom: He likes super-heroes.

Kid: I'm a zombie.

Me: Ha ha! You're a zombie? Did you eat all those superheroes?

Mom: He is not a zombie.

Me: Ah, I see.

Mom: Look at his jetpack. He's a super hero.

Kid (under his breath, head turned away from mom): I'm a zombie.

NOTE: It is precisely this sort of parental denial regarding the zombie status of loved ones that will cause the infection to spread more rapidly than is necessary should there be an outbreak. Please be as dispassionate as possible when diagnosing your loved ones.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

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

Today's sighting comes from BHR minion Eugene Pando!

Eugene may or may not have slightly altered the books' original shelf placement. Thanks, Eugene!

Wonderful Wednesday: What if you mixed "Jaws" with Charlie Brown?

Artist Charles Forsman thought it would be fun to illustrate key scenes from the movie Jaws in the style of the Peanuts cartoons. And he was right!

Be sure to click over to his site, where you can also see Raiders of the Lost Ark with Popeye or buy prints of his work.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Top posts for October

Some of my bloggy friends do a monthly "here were your favorite" posts post. It's a little meta, but I'm down with that.

Here are the most popular posts from October, in order of popularity:

A couple of notes: No surprise on the guest posts. We had a lot of great guest posts this last month, and they generated a good amount of interest.

Also, the "ten years" post always gets traffic from people looking for cards for their anniversary. If you click on it you'll see I defaced a bunch of pictures with lovely sentiments for our tenth anniversary. It's a popular post that gets traffic every single day. In fact, it's the single most popular post on this blog EVAH.

I'm not sure why my post denouncing Limitless as a piece of trash is so popular this month. Maybe one of the filmmakers came across it and they are constantly coming back to it, working themselves into a cycle of despair and self pity? I hope not. And if so, sorry, filmmakers. I'd be glad to preview your work next time.

A new blog, and lots of books in the give away!

I earned my graduate degree from Western Seminary, and I can say with all honesty that there are many professors there with a great deal of insight, godliness, and fascinating things to say. A new blog from Western Seminary professors just started yesterday (two of whom, Marc Cortez and Todd Miles, guest posted here within the last month, and a third, John Johnson, is my head pastor!).

Anyway, the blog looks to be consistently interesting and enjoyable and you can check it out here.

Be sure to sign up for the big book giveaway, where you can have a chance to win a big, impressive theological work. Or Night of the Living Dead Christian. Ha ha ha ha!

Go on! Stop sitting around and click on the links.

EDIT: Some of the All of the links in this post were broken, but now they're fixed. Or rather, I should say that they have been transformed.

Guest Post from blogger The Notorious MLE: the Chinese superheroes in my neighborhood

I first met Emily when she was in high school. She's not in high school anymore, of course, but at the time she was in the youth group at my church, and I was one of the youth workers. She's always been an exceptionally interesting person, and her blog is great. When I asked Krista for some people she thought should be guest posting here, she specifically mentioned Emily. So, first there's a short intro from Emily, and her post follows! Enjoy!

Hi everybody. My name is Emily and I blog over at My blog is a narrative blog detailing whatever is on my mind: usually a combination of tacos, book reviews and stories about life. It's an honor to be guest posting in the company of so many talented writers. Thanks for having me!

Elderly Chinese superheroes are the rulers of my neighborhood. Everyday at 10 am they emerge from their houses to engage in their daily powerwalk/do-gooding.  Most days I’m at work so I don’t see them but I come home to the legacy of their daily kindnesses: the garbage cans put away neatly up and down the street, the stray trash coralled in the compost bins and the mysterious dissapearance of any weed that dares show it’s face. They are a true blessing. When I come home from work I want to weep with joy when I see that I don’t have to drag in the garbage cans.

Some of the superheroes go above and beyond. My favorite neighbor is Mrs. Kwong. Mrs. Kwong does not limit her heroism to physical tasks, no, no no! She is aggressively kind. On Sundays I sometimes see Ms. Kwong on her way to church. As she passes by my house she always stops to say hi. Her English is not good but that does not stop her from spreading joy. Last time I saw her she stopped in front of me grabbed my shoulders and shouted “You VERY PRETTY! You baby a good boy!” She shouted these words at me in the way that old Chinese ladies do while presenting me with the biggest purest smile I’ve ever seen.

Her compliment made my day but that’s not why she is a superhero.

She’s a superhero because she is bigger than the anxieties, fears and self-pity that plague so many. Ms. Kwong doesn’t sit around saying “Oh, I can’t say hi, I don’t speak good english” or “Nobody cares about me because I’m old and have a limp” or “I’m embarrassed to open my mouth cause my teeth are a little funky.” No, Ms. Kwong doesn’t deal with that crap. She barrels around our neighborhood assaulting passerbys with a kindness that comes from a selfless simplicity of heart.  I pray that we can each be a little more like her: less absorbed with our own “shortcomings” and more delighted by what we can give to others.  Take it from a very PRETTY GIRL; it’s a beautiful way to be.