Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

3/31/08

Going to Church in an Old Station Wagon (poem)


Going to Church in an Old Station Wagon
a story about grace

Anthony Trendl

Mr. & Mrs. Crause get it together every Sunday.
Every Sunday they push and pull and guide their children
into the old Chevy station wagon.
Every Sunday they fire up the oft-broken engine
and head down a road buttressed and fortressed by oaks and maples.

The car wasn’t bought new but will never be sold.
Like a farm family’s dog, it is dusty, rough and dirty,
but trusted like a brother.
The seats are torn; no one bothered to duct-tape them up.
The stuffing that will fall out has fallen out,
and what’s there is there to stay.
It gathers shadows parked in the barn each night,
looking worse each morning.
The cats scurry when they hear it coming up the gravel drive.
Mr. Crause’s cussing at the car sometimes is louder
than the bellow and growl of the engine.
He’d fix it if he had the time,
but never seems to have enough to do the job right.
Still, it works and a little cussing oils the motor well enough.

Randy Jr. doesn’t like the way it always has to be.
He sits in the middle, between the two sisters, Emily and Elizabeth.
And the two sisters don’t like that their little brother sits between them.

Randy Sr., Mr. Crause himself, doesn’t like the way it takes an hour
to get the family ready for a service
which takes thirty minutes to get to and lasts not much longer.
He just wants to stay home,
maybe go to the church up the road in his own town.
Why should he drag his wife and brood
two dozen miles into Hurleyville?

Mrs. Crause, Betsy Crause says it ought not be the way he sees it,
that the drive is worth it.
She tells him he ought be thankful they have this church,
that preachers like Pastor Jim are hard to find.
After all, he has a Bible degree
and the one here in Jarton hardly knows anything at all.
The music, she says, is glorious and wonderful
and how could he not feel the warmth.

Breakfast at eight.
Always the eggs and bacon, but even that is changing.
The white bread is now wheat
and the butter became margarine long ago.
The eggs are from the coop, the bacon came from Mr. Dunderly’s,
the butcher by the glen
and the bread and butter comes from the market in town.
Mr. Crause eats quickly. There’s always something he needs to do.

Everybody into the car at 9:15,
or at least that is how it is supposed to be.
It never is.
Emily can’t find her shoe and surely Randy Jr.
took it, but he doesn’t know where it is.
It is underneath the stairs Randy Sr. said he’d finish years ago,
but still needs a few nails and a bed of carpet.
He says he’ll finish when he the barn is fixed,
but he has the old tractors in the barn,
too big too carry and too broken to drive and in the way.

Elizabeth moans her hair isn’t right at nine and can’t fix it
without the spray she saw on TV last week.
Mrs. Crause tells her no one is watching to see if her hair is set just so.
Elizabeth knows this lie and begins to cry.

Service is at ten and they are always late.
The Crause’s had to stop for gas at the Casey’s in Seaford.
The seats in the back are sometimes filled and they walk quietly,
ostentatiously toward the front.
Anyone not watching is listening to the hushed shuffling
and whispers of their neighbors.
But Mr. and Mrs. Crause proudly step through the mire of judging eyes
toward the altar of forgiveness.
They know it isn’t the sermons of man they’ve come to hear
and it isn’t the sermons of man they will hear.

The service begins as it does, with songs everybody knows,
starting with number 47 from the brown hymnal.
No one knows the songs in the green hymnal anymore,
but they keep it in the pew anyway.
Next is 113, followed by number 8. A few mumble the tunes,
but forget the words.
Then they sing “Amazing Grace.”
Everybody sings and the walls shake.
The organist smiles. The pastor smiles.
Randy Jr. fidgets but sings loudly and waves his hands in the air.
Betsy grabs his right hand and waves with him.
Randy Sr. mouths the words softly while looking at his son.
He knows it is all true.
Pastor Jim speaks a sermon and communion is had.

The collection is taken and announcements are made.
“As many of you know Mrs. Hebbleshime passed away
last Wednesday and will be sorely missed.
Mr. Jacobs asked me to let you know we need
someone to teach the junior high kids
and you should speak to him if interested.
And next week, don’t forget our fellowship dinner.
Bring anyone you want. Tickets are three dollars.
Bring a plate to pass.”

And they all drive home.
Mr. & Mrs. Crause and family all stop
for gas and a bit of lunch at the Casey’s in Seaford.

3/21/08

Seven Seconds from Here to a Smirk: One Man on a Bad Video

The quality could not be lower. Bad lighting, bad audio, and no intriguing script. No funny walruses dancing. No dogs, cats or birds. No babies making the evil eye. No busty, lonely girls making a play on Obama. Just me testing the process of loading onto YouTube.

3/12/08

10,000 Votes and Maybe More: An Amazon Reviewer Hits Milestone

Anthony Trendl's reviews on Amazon.com

So what? I review. More than most. As of this moment, people have cast 10,000 positive votes on behalf of my work. A few (2,176, to be exact) had the audacity to vote otherwise. In the end, votes for or against, those are merely coincidental as I love writing and reading. Still, it is a milestone I cannot help but notice.

If you look right now, you will see:

Customer Reviews: 659
Reviewer Rank: 141
Helpful Votes: 10000

These last several years of reviewing have been an adventure. I reviewed hundreds of books, met Amazon reviewer friends at the famed Algonquin Hotel, have been offered money by publishers and authors hoping I will say nice things (I declined). I have been sent all kinds of products to review.

I read a lot, and reviewing helped me process it.

One author decided he was so upset that he sued me, and the case and its derivative cases almost went to the Supreme Court. Poor chump. Free speech won over the author's opinions of my opinions.

Once in a while, someone will read something I wrote and try shut it down by rampaging against my reviews, voting negatively at whatever most recently I have posted. I just smile when I see this, knowing that this encourages me. It shows I am influencing those that the reader is afraid I will influence.

On the plus side, I have enjoyed correspondence with some modestly known authors, started a website HungarianBookstore.com highlighting my reviews and more, and have found my reviews quoted all over the world. The HungarianBookstore.com has likewise enjoyed kindness, even being considered by the Library of Congress as a source for Hungarian recordings and Braille books.

My reviews have been read by clients and potential clients, creating interesting conversations. Interviews are never ordinary if they have been plowing through pages of my work.

"What a long strange trip it's been." Grateful Dead - Truckin'

3/11/08

Word Game for the Wordy (Great for Long Drives)

This word game might appeal to Scrabble, Boggle and crossword lovers.

One person says a word, and the next person builds from it, taking part of the word and making a new one. There is no winner or loser, just the fun of coming up with words. It can go as long as there are words left. It works in every language, most age levels, and with as many people as you like.

Rules

  1. Take the last two letters of the previous word and include them in the next word.
  2. The next word may not finish with the last two letters of the previous word.
  3. No word may be used twice.
  4. No suffixes or proper nouns.
  5. At least three letters in each word.
  6. The general Scrabble dictionary rules apply as far as what is acceptable otherwise.
If the word is ‘chicken’, the ‘en’ becomes fodder for the next word. ‘Enter’, ‘Nerve’ and ‘Elephant’ all would work. ‘Listen’ would not because it ends in ‘en’.

A line of words might go: Chicken, Elephant, Tennis, Interest, Stone, Another, Earnest

Want to play? Follow up earnest with your word, then watch for someone to respond.

3/8/08

Greg Buchanan Plays Amazing Grace on a Harp

Greg Buchanan Plays Amazing Grace on a Harp

I have seen Buchanan play several times, and there's an electricity to his playing (though he's unplugged the entire time). Somewhat classical, somewhat pop and somewhat Dixieland, he deserves to be cranked up.

3/7/08

Homeschooling Illegal in California?

California - Invading the Homeschools
A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

The homeschooling movement never saw the case coming.

..."California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. "Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws."
Read the actual ruling here.

Finally! Everyone knows that parents are not the best people to have children, let alone teach them. Instead, we should gather sperm from the healthiest, smartest men, and eggs from the the healthiest, smartest women, and match them.

Margaret Sanger (more famous for founding Planned Parenthood than her white supremist and anti-Catholic views) was right about eugenics. She stopped though, when it came to post-birth. We need to keep all the products of conception gathered into training institutions. Train the egg-sperm units to work. Animals do it well. Why can't humans? Orwell's "Two legs bad, four legs good," can be turned around, or at least equalized.

Ayn Rand was wrong when she suggested in "Anthem," that an individual should have rights. No! That's not true.

Pshaw!

In Chicago, homeschooling should be illegal.

A kid graduating from the Chicago Public School system is known to have attended a completely safe, intensely academic institution. The rumors that there are drugs, gangs, and teachers who themselves are only moderately educated is a myth. Likewise, it is false to think that there is ever any waste of taxpayer funding with inefficient use of money, or corruption of any kind.

Pshaw!

Strange.

In Iran, religion is the basis of their public school (the four Rs - readin', ritin' 'rithmatic, religion) and we say, "Have at it, it's cool." A parent wanting to homeschool a kid with either a secular or non-Islam religious perspective is not allowed to (esp in art class, where maybe they want to sketch a few pics of you-know-who who wrote the Koran).

Here, we've got religious (Muslims, Unitarians, Methodists, etc.) and non-religious families who want to homeschool. CA is saying no way. While it might be a bad idea for many kids, you'd think we would, as a nation, side as (maybe Voltaire) once said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

Another day in paradise.

3/3/08

The Kelly Family Sings Amazing Grace

The Kelly Family Sings Amazing Grace.
How I have not heard of the Kelly Family over all of these years, I do not know, but hope you enjoy this rendition. See YouTube for several other performances they have of this song.

3/2/08

God Speaks: What Say You? (poem)

God Speaks: What Say You?
by Anthony Trendl

Two lips gathered, whispered –
spoke mighty words:
I am.

One voice ached, uttered –
shouted heavy words:
It is finished.

One voice exclaimed, sang –
announced joyous words:
He is Risen.

One God called, gestured –
pressed the hardest words:
Come, follow me.

One man replied, pursued –
followed with obedient words:
Here I am, Lord.

"Here I am, Lord." That's a rephrase of I Samuel 10 (based on the surrounding chapter):
Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."
Easier written than done, I must add. I grew up singing Dan Schutte's song (below) having no idea what this meant. Older now, I am daunted. The one simple response requires everything that I am to say it honestly, and then, even more to live it out.

Here I am, Lord
by Dan Schutte

Here I am, Lord
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people's pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my Word to them.
Whom shall I send?

I the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
Till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Below is the song sung by John Michael Talbot: