Friday, August 31, 2012

Kids are extremely honest

This is not my daughter's teacher.
But I'm sure this is how she felt.
I took my 3 year old (M) to meet her preschool teacher this week. It was, in her defense, an evening open house and she was tired.

We walked into the classroom and had a nice chat with her teacher. We saw M's cubby. We looked out the window at the playground. We talked about all the fun school would be.

Then M burst into tears and shouted (very clearly), "Daddy! I don't like my teacher!"

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Scott Pilgrim/The Matrix mash up

I love Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. I think it was a hilarious, fun, entertaining movie. It can even help redeem the Matrix trilogy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday: THE INVADER

I thought this was really fun. I spent a lot of hours killing Space Invaders in my youth. Now I feel a little bad about it.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not afraid of Monsters

I took my kids to Lava River Cave in Sunriver when we were on vacation. It's pretty amazing. We hiked the whole mile under ground. We had a great time. Even my three-year-old went on the hike, and she did great.

She called it a "Mama Cave" because, you know, babies are small and Mamas are bigger, and it was a Mama cave, not a baby cave.

Also, she kept telling me there were monsters in the cave, and finally I said, I don't see any monsters. She said, "That's because the bats ate them all."

Ha ha ha!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ridiculous Reviewers on Amazon: One Star Reviews for Orwell's "Animal Farm"

It's time once again for that old favorite, Ridiculous Reviewers on Amazon! This week's one star reviews come for George Orwell's Animal Farm. Animal Farm is a satire, a fairy tale, a farce and a fable all rolled into one, and all aimed at criticizing Stalin. It's a classic in every sense of the word, and thus many kids across the Western world have been forced to read it in English class in high school.

It's the story of a farm where the pigs take over, form a philosophy and build a collective among the other animals. Eventually, the power goes to the pigs' heads and they start acting like humans, lording it over the animals and making a farm environment that is much worse than anything the animals experienced under the humans.

BUT, let's be clear, just because a book is a classic doesn't mean it's safe from ONE STAR REVIEWS! Let's take a look now.

Our first review comes from G. Barnes "Geoff" of Pittsburgh, PA. 

Seriously, this book is way too scary! I gave it to my 10-year-old to read and he was scared because of all the totalitarianism LOL! DO NOT READ!
Hey! Don't read this! Totalitarianism is scary. Read something a little less terrifying, like a Stephen King novel.

Let's see if we can get any more insight into this topic by reading a review by a kid:

This book sucks so bad I couldn't even get through it. I quit reading it before chapter three. I would not recommend this book to anyone you will waste your time and in the end or whenever you throw it away you'll be asking yourself who would write a book with talking animals?

Kid. You have clearly not been paying attention during bedtime. There are approximately a billion books with talking animals.

My favorite reviews often come from "A Customer".... Amazon's equivalent of an anonymous reviewer. Let's see what this anonymous reviewer had to say about Animal Farm: 

This is exactly the kind of book our government wants to force people to read, so they hand it to schools, and try to force us to read it. This book was written by a insane man named George Orwell, who hated society, and displayed that by bashing humanity, and making people look like lower lifeforms than animals. To be honest I think this man is crazy and needs to be locked up.

Well, good news A Customer: Orwell is dead. No need to lock him up. Unless you knew he was dead and thought we should still lock him up, in which case, it shouldn't be too hard to find him. Also, I think it's charming that you think that The Government wants you to read a book about the dangers of government run amuck. 

"Orwell" was his pen name. He really is dead.
No conspiracy theories, please.

Speaking of government. I'm pretty sure this book is the fault of the liberals. Let's see what "LDS MARINE" has to say about that. 

Its is so annoying to see liberals writing books in politics, and i dont care who they attack- Liberals hate everybody else. Stupid guy had to express his feelings and whine about Russia. 
I -- I'm not sure what to say. STUPID LIBERALS WHO ARE AGAINST COMMUNISM! Wow. I think that LDS MARINE is giving us a whole new conception of "conservative."

Come on, liberals are people, too, LDS MARINE. And we ALL love Justin Bieber.

Just once I'd like to see a review by someone who is well reasoned and intelligent. Perhaps this next one, since it's from someone who has the name "Jedi Smart."

Read something happier like, oh I don't know, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It's amd excellent read, and with the Holidays coming up, everyone wants to feel happy.
Oh, never mind. Anyway, it's a bit confusing since Harry Potter got its own share of one star reviews

Hey, if we're not going to get intelligent, well-reasoned reviews, let's just bring the crazy. Maybe Cathy Taurine of Illinois can help:

Did Al Gore direct this? I was just you know, curious because the animals are talking and stuff and they even have like, this hierarchy of power and things don't make sense like that. This is an anti goverment film but all I hear is Total arin ism which gets to be useful when instilled in the drinking water of places like Africa. Well we gave them animals to eat and they just turned them loose in fields and never fed them and they died. This book is co-written I think by Gore and Moore, but who knows I mean anymore you cannot figure out who is who, but I am Cathy and I escaped from Taurine and this is my review of Animal Farm. Oh, and even if you give a pig pickles it will still attack you if it is hungry!
Okay, okay, that was a little too far into crazy town, even for me. 

Let's take a look at a classic one star review, and definitely my favorite one for Animal Farm. This comes from Claude Rutabega.  Let's see what Claude has to say:

Of all the things I have ever read! What a terrible and unrealistic story. I mean, how can animals talk? I have a parrot that talks but not in complete sentences. And besides the pigs run the show in this and if it really happened the cats would run things because everyone knows that cats are born leaders. Anyway, I wouldn't reccomend this book to my worst enemy. I read this book to my nephew, Simon and he started crying and now he is afraid of pigs and horses because he says that they will rise up and establish a totalitarianist state and will rule over us. Ughhhh! It gives me a head ache.

Ha ha ha. Oh, Claude. You have brought us around again to the main point of this post: Children are afraid of totalitarianism. And don't worry. I am almost certain that if pigs were to rise up and take over the world, kitties would be freedom fighters. THEY WOULD FIND A WAY TO SAVE US!

Well, kids, if you're afraid of totalitarianism and it's keeping you up at night, maybe you need some one star reviews to make you laugh and keep you happy. Here are some here:

One star reviews for:

OR, just read them all. I'm not insisting you do this, because this isn't a totalitarianism blog. But if it were, and if you disobeyed me, let's just say you'd be getting a ride in the "veterinary hospital" van.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm a computer programmer now

Soon I'll be able to do this.
My parents were both computer programmers, and when I was a kid they often would teach me little tricks and try to get me interested in computers. I'm not employable as a programmer or anything like that, but I have some marginal awareness of how things work as a result. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

For instance, I know that the internet is caused by information leaking into a substance called "the ether" and we can use ethernet cables to suck it back into "real space" or "virtual reality." Or something.

Anyway, I was pretty proud of myself this week for doing some minor coding here on the site, where I made drop down menus for purchasing my books. You can see them in the sidebar on the right or by clicking the "Matt's Books" tab on the top of the site (that's new, too, by the way).

It looks like this:
I think it's pretty nifty, and I'm pleased that I understood enough html to steal the bones for this thing off the internet and make it my own. I know, all I had to do was replace the link content, but still. Allow me a moment of pride at doing something at the beginner's level.

OF COURSE, the best way for you to celebrate this monumental achievement is for you to test out the drop down menu thing. Click on a link, press go, make sure it works. And just to be certain, go ahead and purchase a book or two to make sure everything is working correctly. Egggggggscellent. Moowhahahahahahaaha.

For all you authors out there who want to make your own, I'll put the basic code after the jump so you can use it for your own (just replace the links with links to your books from the correct site). I stole the basic code from here.

You can get the code after the jump.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Falling" premieres Off-Broadway on October 15

I just got this note from Deanna Jent, the playwright who adapted Imaginary Jesus for the stage. One of her plays from last season is starting in NYC this October!

Hello!  I’m beyond excited to let you know that my play FALLING will be opening on October 15 at the Minetta Lane Theatre in NYC!  Previews will begin September 27.  Below are some links to information about the show – if you could help me out by sending this on to anyone or group that you think might be interested, I’d be very grateful.  We need word-of-mouth to get some attention in the Big Apple.  Also, I’ll be there for all of the preview shows, so if you’re able to come see it during those weeks, let me know!  Also please post on any social media sights you have …. Thanks so very very much!  Deanna
 "FALLING" webpage  
Article with all the details 
Here's what critics have been saying about FALLING:

“a gripping piece of theatre, emotionally wrenching and theatrically astute”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“a thoughtful portrait of a family struggling to hold on in particular and challenging circumstances”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“it will kick your guts”

Riverfront Times

I haven't seen the show, but I did read the script and it is powerful. I cried while reading it. 
And, in case you haven't already made plans to join us, here's the info about Imaginary Jesus, first show November 15th in St. Louis!

My daughter says hilarious things when we see animals

At the Clark County Fair we saw an alligator snapping turtle, just laying in the water in its tank, its mouth wide open, wiggling its tongue around. I called my kids over... the turtle at the fair was much more disgusting than the one in the picture here. My 11 year old, Z, said something funny that I thought you would enjoy.

Me: See how its tongue looks like a worm? He just lays there underwater with his mouth open, wiggling that tongue, and when a fish comes along and bites his tongue, he snaps his mouth closed and eats it!

Z: That's disgusting.

Me: Yeah. Pretty awesome.

Z: Hey dad, what if there was a predator that ate humans and it had a really yummy looking hamburger for a tongue.

Me: Ha ha ha. That would be funny.

And, on further consideration... it would work.

Of course, in nature it might look more like this, which the more discerning humans would know to pass up:

Alright, people, be honest. What kind of food could a predator catch you with?

Monday, August 20, 2012

What was that sound?

This is the conversation I had with my 3 year old daughter a few days ago.

Baby M: Dada, what was that sound?

Me: Oh, I think the kids left the video games on in the other room.

Baby M: No. The sound came out of my butt.

It just makes you want to hold her and say, "Never grow up, baby, never grow up."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My family acting out Empire Strikes Back

"I am... your Mother. Search out your feelings. You know it to be true."
Feel free to add your own geeky Star Wars references in the comments.

And don't worry, the baby has a robotic hand now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday: Adults dressing as monsters and robots and then wrestling as if in a Japanese monster movie

Someone tell me that this still exists and continues to happen somewhere. Because I am ready for a road trip.


This came from Josh Young.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LINKS! The sausage of the Internet

Hands, feet, no eyes. But still reading. Weird.
Well. It had to happen. I mean, it always happens in the comics. SUPER VILLAINS ARE TRYING TO MAKE SUPER HEROES ILLEGAL. In the real world.

In other superhero news, Flying Color Comics in Walnut Creek, California, is taking a stand against domestic violence.

Also. My friend Matt Hiller is in Hawaii at the Pokemon World Championships because his son totally rocks at the Pokemon game. Which means that my daughters better stop cleaning their rooms and start playing video games. GET TO WORK, KIDS!

Luc Reid shared this interesting article about neuroscience, fiction and what happens to your brain when you read fiction. Short answer: You become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Eavesdropping With Matt (Episode Sixty-One: Maybe we disagree on the definition of 'classy')

Now THIS is classy. Buy some
 classy Star Wars art from Greg Peltz here.
Dedicated to the four people behind me eating dinner at Thai Noon, who were having a VERY LOUD conversation that really did not require any eavesdropping as such.

Guy 1: With one or two exceptions, the strip clubs in San Francisco are slutty.

Guy 2: What do you mean?

Guy 1: They're just full of skinny women prancing around and taking their clothes off. They're not classy.

So... a classy strip club would require... that it not be a strip club. I can agree with that definition. Strip clubs are not classy. That's practically the definition of classy.

Now it's time for you to read more Eavesdropping with Matt.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I saw this on the UFO Facebook site and I said I was going to rip it off. And I am a man of my word.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Kids are funny

Earlier this week I told my three year old it was time to go to bed. She started throwing a tantrum, which is not typical (evidence, I suppose, that she needed to go to bed). As I carried her up the stairs, she pulled her hand back to slap me and I quickly said, "No. You will not hit me." She put her hand down and started crying harder.

When we got to her room, I laid her in her bed and she started kicking and flailing. I told her I would go out in the hallway and she could call me in when she had calmed down. Pretty much immediately she started crying and calling, "Daddy, daddy, come hold me!" Which was sweet. So I did.

So, while I was laying there on her bed, with her arms wrapped around my neck, she started to relax and finally she said, "Daddy, I really want to hit you so bad. But I never want to hit you." Then she gave me a kiss.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday: Japanese Robot Battle Armor Car Thing

You know that here at BHR when I put up a "Wonderful Wednesday" post it's 65% likely that it will be something about Japan, the country most full of wonderful.

Today is one of those days!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Kids love giant pythons so much!

If you don't like snakes, you will not like this video.

Apparently this kid loves snakes a lot.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Invisible Mercedes is rad

Speaking of invisible vehicles, this was a really cool idea. Now I just need a bunch of LEDs and some cameras.

Also, if someone would like to donate a Mercedes, I would allow that.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

UFO Kickstarter Campaign

You may recall this announcement that I have an upcoming humorous short story about a down-on-his-luck vampire who is hired by a bunch of ignorant townsfolk to deal with their supernatural problems.

Well, now's your chance to pre-order the book and get lots of cool extras.

Alex Shvartzman, the editor of Unidentified Flying Objects just put up a Kickstarter campaign. You can preorder the book and get things like: free stories, a hardback copy of the book, editorial feedback on one of your own writing projects, dinner with the editor or a writing workshop with the editor, all depending on how much you pledge.

UFO has a story from Mike Resnick (one of the biggest award winners in the science fiction community) and stories from Nebula and Hugo award winning authors. And also me.

Anyway, check it out, and throw a couple of bucks into the campaign.

AND, if you would like to get a sneak preview of the stories, check out this story by Nebula Award nominated author Jake Kerr. It's a story about the Twitter feed on the day that aliens come to destroy the entire Earth (except for Canada).

Zhao's invisible bicycles!

I enjoyed this art project by Zhao Hausen where he's taking pictures of people commuting in China and then removing their bicycles from the picture.

Top 5 Posts in July

Here are the top five posts from last month. Kittens, groin punches, the Olympics and writing are all represented here, which is to say, it's a pretty typical month!

1. The Olympic hymn and performance that NBC thought that Americans shouldn't see.

2. The post where I get punched in the groin.

3. The post in which I reveal the excellent news about my new book, The Sword of Six Worlds!

4. The post linking to my article in this month's Relevant Magazine.

5. This video, in which my kids are teaching kittens to go down slides.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

"A New Conversation"; Mark Charles responds to the US government apology to Native Americans

My friend Mark Charles posted this video this week, and I thought it was both insightful and moving.

You can find more information about the US government's apology to Native American peoples as well as info about the event Mark is hosting in D.C. this December on his website.