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.