Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


TV-free for a Week - Turning Off the Tube for Seven Days

I am going TV-free for a week. This is my second day. Ever do it? I decided to try it. Many friends are completely, or 99% TV-free in their lives. (see my Facebook group on this)

I noticed that around me is TV noise. Colleagues talk about the latest episode of Lost or the Office. Friends talk about what station they trust for political infotainment. And, my online friends all swooned about the latest speech coming from the White House. I can skip the latest TV series, avoid the biases coming from talking heads, and read transcripts of the speeches.

Meanwhile, I have my own share of TV watching. I like Monk, House, Jakers! (a kid's show involving a pig with an Irish accent), and a smattering of PBS shows. I have always been cable-free because of a combination of budget-watching and a realization I would get sucked into a hundred more shows. Avoiding TV all together will take discipline and breakage of habit.

I have found too often I blow four or more hours on a Sunday evening, flipping between shows, including ones in Spanish. I don't understand Spanish, but have wound up with favorite shows there.

Why? Lots of reasons, and some change by the minute.
  1. Lots of TV does not entertain me. Why am I still watching it?
  2. I can read on the web in five minutes most of the news I genuinely care about.
  3. Life is short, and my dreams are big. I want to hang out with my wife more. I want to run a marathon, write a book, see friends, volunteer, save the world. You know, ordinary things.
  4. There are some more complicated reasons, like ones involving what I am absorbing through avid TV watching. That is much harder to explain, but it comes down living a fuller life, with a better mind.
I am not anti-TV. Working with the media is sometimes part of my job. I simply want a better life, not one absent-mindedly tossed away. This isn't condemning anyone else, but hours-upon-hours of TV do not fit into the lifestyle I want for myself.

A week will not do much to get everything done, nor do I expect to be legalistic about this for eternity. WGN TV came to my work (I manage our PR), and so if they broadcast this spot, I will need to break this week's effort. I will start again once I have seen it.

Join me. This is not a crusade against TV, but a crusade for a better life for me.


A Brave New (Old) World: Björk, Scatman, and Four Bucks

I grew up when 33 RPM albums were cool, 45 RPM singles were hip, and vinyl referred to music, not upholstery. I bristled when CDs came about, but now, am on that bandwagon. Now, iPods. Everyone has one. Almost everyone, at any rate.

I have an 80 gigabyte iPod. It can house, as it seems, every song I ever heard, or might have heard, had I listened to every station in every city non-stop my entire life? Or thereabouts.

This is not about my iPod. It is about buying music online. I have had an iPod for a year, enjoying it with increasing excitement as I run on a treadmill. And, with decreasing enjoyment. Huh? That's right. I love my iPod, but my collection of good songs to run to is slim. I'm growing tired of Springsteen and Queen, and the rest. All good stuff, but I need more.

Welcome, them, to iTunes. New to me, old to you. Like my dad, who has cable TV for the first time in his life, paying for what was free seems strange. Not quite the same, is it? I did pay for CDs, but - I can't explain this - the whole idea of clicking to receive music that costs me $0.99 feels wrong.

Downloaded three Björk songs and one by John Scatman. Spent just under four bucks.

I'm glad to, in a sense, to spend the money. I am far from being part of the camp that justifies pirating music. Stealing is stealing, and so I paid for these songs.

I know, it's only rock n' roll, but I like it.

The Opposite of Dogma is Dogma

The opposite of dogma is dogma. There's no way around it. To claim there is no certainty is itself a statement claiming certainty. Hence, there are few truly tolerant people. Tolerating vagaries, suggesting anything is possible either is the result of small-mindedness, ignorance, or foolishness.

I do not mind acknowledging I am dogmatic.

Not in all things, naturally.

I will not defend my present belief that Jimi Hendrix is one of the top three greatest guitarists ever. I am not that sure.

I likewise will consider that the sky is not blue. I have read some pretty good arguments against that illusion dealing with gasses, sunlight and refraction. That's over my head, and although, to me, the sky is blue, I will defer that there is probably more to say on the matter.

I might stand firmer on the question of Bob Dylan being the most important songwriter of the 20th Century, and that the 1985 Chicago Bears own the title, "Greatest Sports Team Ever," but, again, will step back if given a good argument to the contrary. Not quickly, but eventually, I might listen.

That's not how it is with God. I'm dogmatic there. If you do not believe God exists, candidly, I know you are wrong. That's too bad. There can be no "We each have our own truths," in this regard. God either exists, or He does not.

Faith in God cannot be so suggestive that it tolerates a co-existing non-paradox that God does not exist. Similarly, Jesus Christ is the only way to God. Not Allah. I will not toy with definitions there, not if 'Allah' is defined as the Koran defines him, because, if I accept that context, I must also accept a litany of lies about Jesus. Sorry, but Jesus Christ is Lord.

It is an ugly world in which some people kill others to supposedly convince them their god is better. I don't buy that plan.

When I hear that some Muslims do this, I cannot say whether or not Islam teaches the acceptability of murder, but I can say it indicates a weakness of faith. Apparently, those doing the killing have so little faith in what they believe that they realize the only way to convert is through chopping off the convert's head. Bully theology is no theology at all.

When I hear a Christian is guilty of the same charge, I shake my head, knowing they are breaking one of the commandments God gave Moses.

Back to dogma -- I never left the topic. I am comfortable with being certain there is truth, and that I am most dogmatic when it comes to Jesus Christ. Disagree? So be it. We can still have dinner, go running, have coffee, listen to Jimi Hendrix, cheer on the memory of Walter "Sweetness" Payton while enjoy a walking under the big blue (or whatever, but please "Excuse me while I kiss the ...) sky, but this one about Jesus is nonnegotiable.

I will not curb my dogma.


The Evolution of the Cynic: Evolutionism and the Unbelieving Believer

At lunch the other day, the question of evolution came up. It occurred to me that some Christians toss out the plausibility of Adam and Eve because of that -- they do not see it as plausible that God would create a man out of virtually nothing, and then a woman from the rib of that man.

What, then, we wondered, was the most preposterous of God's movements as described in the Bible, the one least able to be explained by the most cynical as a natural act?

Could it be Noah's Ark? How could Noah cram so many animals into one boat? I don't know, but a cynic might reduce that question to one of logistics. Same with the 40 days of rain. That's not too far of a stretch. The end of the Ice Age? A cynic might tell that tale.

What about the parting of the Red Sea? A cynic might boast that a windy day opened it wide, or that water was actually more shallow than we think of seas being.

Prophecies that have not yet happened can't be considered since they haven't happened. No one, even the most devout Christian, will claim tomorrow is today.

What about Jonah's big adventure? That's gotta be on the list. Breathing, food, as well as the fish's digestive process all are hard to explain, given Jonah eventually left the fish alive.

Most obviously is Jesus Christ's resurrection. That's huge. A dead man rising into life after three days wrapped up in a cave? A lot of Christians give a nod to this as massively impressive, but forget this is not just a story told at CCD or Sunday School. If God can raise a man from the dead, and that the dead man was God's own son, how dare we suggest that Adam and Eve are not plausible?

If God exists, all things are possible. All things. An omnipotent God can imagine, and what He imagines will be true. This will not prove to the evolution believer that God actually created Adam and Eve directly, and not from primordial soup over a million years, but if that evolution believer claims a faith in the God of Abraham, then this miracle must remain possible.

There is an awful lot of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution that is hogwash. Any portion of it which denies Adam was born a complete man is, per Scripture, heresy. It implies the Bible's lying, that God is not capable of doing what He claims, and that the entirety of the Bible is not to be trusted. That the Bible claims God created Adam is not debated. There are minor text translation issues that can be debated, but this is not on the list. If Adam was not created, how can we believe Jesus was raised from the dead? And if we cannot believe Jesus was raised from the dead, how can we believe anything about God?

To my Christian friends claiming Adam was the result of a murky liquid that worked its way into a fish, and so on, I respectfully say, "I'm sorry, but that's not true."


I Am Anthony

My name is Anthony. If yours is, join my My Name is Anthony Facebook group. I won't bet that there are 1,000,000 of you, or pretend to protest something I'll never follow up on, but, for a brief smirk, we can collectively concur we are of one name.


Days, Nights, and Everything In Between - Counting Complaints

There's math that can be done to determine the seconds in a day.

Don't bother.

Other math can count backwards, frontwards all sorts of details.

Leave that the baseball junkies and gamblers.

A few friends loft in what they are missing, forgetting what they have. Marriages are in crisis, jobs are floundering or non-existent, and depression abound. Why? Hard call. Looking for contentment in all the wrong places? It comes down to that always.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." That's in Philippians, as in "The Book of -"

St. Paul caught on that contentment was not a gimme. He had to learn it. He was proactive in seeking what he needed, direct to ask for it, but content with the result.

I'm content. I'm joyful. Not by accident. By choice.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

St. Paul said that too. Find it in Thessalonians, the first book.

There's no smorgasbord of faith here. Like it or not, sulking isn't an option.


Lively Arts Exhibit Flyer - Christian Art Show

Lively Arts will be doing an exhibit at La Spiaza. March 5 to April 5. Above is the official flyer designed by Tim Botts.

The artists will be available to discuss their works, including Lively Arts founder and calligrapher, Tim Botts, and Natalie Lombard, banner artist.

The exhibit features the works of Tim Botts, Scott Davis, Gary Lobdell, Natalie Lombard, Frank Nicholas, Kathy Schneider, Dan Stulz, and Colleen Yang.

The show's opening will include a spoken word performance by Anthony Trendl and guitar by Scott Davis. They will perform together "Love Song for Charlie Parker," an homage to the Beats, and other pieces.

La Spiaza Coffee House
114 N Main St
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 221-8772

Lively Arts is a gathering of Christian artists, meeting the fourth Monday of every month for show-n-tell, and to connect artists with the church and the community.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17, NIV
click image to see full size



In the news, there are those calling Christians antisemitic. The Pope, the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church, recently booted priest who is a Holocaust denier. I don't know exactly what the booting entailed, but I doubt it was what the priest wanted. Just the same, it is a reminder than even among those who ought to know better, bigots are abound.

There is hope.

I'm a Christian. I used to work for this group, and was immensely impressed out how much Christians of all flavors reached out (in a non evangelistic way even) to Jews, to Israel. They have given millions upon millions of dollars through this group alone to help the Jewish people, with the money given managed by major Jewish organizations here and abroad.

International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

They aren't the only ones. Any of us who attend a large church may have heard about smaller relief efforts, dialogue, and mutual respect between Jews and Christians.

There can be no toleration of antisemitism. Jesus Christ was Jewish, as of course were Mary, Joseph, the Apostles and most of who he encountered. While bigots exist among atheists and all religious people alike, the Christian, given who we worship, is compelled to be beyond neutral on this issue.

There are complex political and human rights issues to consider, and, as a country, Israel is not always right. Palestine is not always wrong. Bombings, snipers and general thievery is not OK, no matter how much I support Israel's right to exist as a country. But antisemitism (which Palestine has plenty of) is a sin.


Celebrating an Important Birthday Today - Johnny, Lorne and Abe

LeRoy Harris was born today in 1898. he composed "When Johnny Comes March Home," sung here in the movie "Stalag 17."

So was Abraham Lincoln, though much earlier in 1809, and later, in 1915, Lorne Greene.

Good men, all said.


Phil Keaggy Plays Amazing Grace April 10, 2008

Phil Keaggy Plays Amazing Grace April 10, 2008

Second Keaggy version I have posted here. See the others (click either 'Keaggy' or 'Amazing Grace' below).

Divestiture at the Eve of Dawn: Concurrency in the Light of God

It's early in the morning and I'm trying to think about those lyrics, "early in the morning," Paul Simon sings in one of his songs. Did it come from "Graceland?"

I can hear the song in my head, but the words aren't coming through to the other side of my brain.

Coffee's brewing. Some hazelnut my wife picked up at a World Market that's closing up. It'll do.

Long day ahead of me after a long day behind me, and a night that was far shorter than I wished it would've been.

Perception is the bane and truth in many situations, and somehow, these must coexist without making either one a lie. In an ordinary context, this means washing and waxing the car before offering it up for sale. The car is not better when clean, nor worse when dirty, but presumptions are made for all kinds of reasons, largely based on supposition. Such are the mores of this land.

A good run last night kept a stressful day better, and prepared for a better day today. A long week is in process. I fed that week with a good meal. Comfort food. Not quite the Bread of Life, but still pretty good.

God's got me covered. Twice. Coming and going. And, He's doing both at once.

Concurrency. That's an insurance term, learned from a few too many gigs writing for Aetna, Blue Cross, Hewitt Associates and couple of others. Here, with God, one policy, as it were, covers me twice, as opposed to the insurance industry which thinks of it as two policies covering the same concern.

Here I am, on a fallen earth, constantly swept up in His grace, despite myself. It never stops. It isn't for the lack of perfection. It is because of the presence of sin.

All my life is about divesting myself from myself, and this is as true today as it was yesterday. There is a lot of me that needs to go. All of this ends when I end, and that could be any moment. It won't be just any moment. God knows; He just hasn't let me in on when it is.

Eternally, grace really gets going as I go from an earthly realm to a heavenly one. The jump is a big one, and the divesting is entirely God's job. My old body gets dumped, and I put something else on. Don't ask me what. I don't know. Whatever suit He gives my soul, it'll fit perfectly.

God's light is brighter than any dawn. Even if the sun explodes, it will only expose that its shadow cannot compete with the grace of God.

Now, at 6:20 this morning, dawn still hasn't hit. Weatherman scheduled it for 6:54 am CT. It won't until Christ returns. I'll be waiting.

Paul Simon singing "Late in the Evening," live in 1992. This could be the song. The difference between late and early depends on requisite sleep.

Here's a studio version from a best-of album Simon releases (mp3)
Late In The Evening

Get the entire album The Essential Paul Simon

Click through and find the rest of Simon's catalog, including "One Trick Pony," the album it was originally on.

Phil Keaggy singing, "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus"


Spoken Word Performance by Anthony Trendl at La Spiaza Coming in March

I'll be doing a short reading in early March with a guitar backing me up.

Lively Arts is doing a show at La Spiaza Coffee House. March 5 to April 5. The opening is from 7:00-10:00 pm, Thursday, March 5.

The show's opening will include a spoken word performance by Anthony Trendl and guitar by Scott Davis. The other artists will also be on hand to discuss their works. Updates will be posted here.

No cover charge.

La Spiaza is a long-time Wheaton cafe, offering coffee, tea, gelato and the world's best customer service, as well as free WiFi.

La Spiaza Coffee House
114 N Main St
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 221-8772


Waking Up on a Super Bowl Free Monday

The election is over. The Super Bowl is history.

Tomorrow is the first day with both events completely behind us, and soon, just old news.

I'd like that. No more campaigning. No more grousing about the inadequacies of the other. No more demonizing of supporters.

Until 4:05 pm, Sunday, April 5, 2009, that is.

The Dodgers play the Giants.

Closer to home, the Chicago White Sox (vs Royals) and Chicago Cubs (vs Astros) start the next day.

It all starts over.

Handy Tool for Choosing the Best Foods - review - Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution

Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution

We eat in a real world. "Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution," gets that. It is as if its editors shop at the grocery story I stop at weekly.

Simple as this: "Eat This" sums ups, side-by-side, related food products most of us see on the grocery shelves. It points out how some foods are unexpectedly loaded with sugar, for example.

Likewise, it provides tips for navigating nutritional information. It is not a calorie counter, but helps us know how to shop intelligently.

You still need to make the disciplined choice, and should know what you are looking for in your diet. I'm a runner, so when I read that a product is loaded with carbs, I'm happy. Another person might need to avoid a heavy carb diet.

Written for the average reader, you won't need a PhD to understand the plain talk provided.

A great, handy, and occasionally fascinating book. I fully recommend "Eat This Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide: The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution."

Anthony Trendl