Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin Kennedy Center Tribute. Amazing!

Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin Kennedy Center Tribute. Amazing! Heart -- Ann and Nancy Wilson. Jason Bonham drums. Best cover ever.

The choir even is wearing bowlers like Zep's late drummer John Bonham. Robert Plant gets teary eyed. President and Mrs. Obama tried to remain composed.



Apology Not Accepted: Mike Huckabee, James Dobson, and A Pastor’s Apology.

John Pavlovitz, self-appointed leader of the Evangelical Church (in all its permutations, including parachurch ministries), has apologized for me. For you, too, if you happen to be a Christian. Take a look at his blog post, Mike Huckabee, James Dobson, and A Pastor’s Apology.

I am not sure how he got the job. I voted in November for President of the United States, but never saw his name on the ballot. Maybe because he has a blog. No, no. That can't be it. I have a blog. I'm not in charge.

I'm looking more carefully at his post. Yes. Silly me. I see it right there at the top: "I am a Christian. I am a pastor. I am a father. As all three of these things, I apologize to the world (and to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting), for Mike Huckabee and James Dobson."

Because he is a Christian, a pastor and a father, he has earned the right to apologize to the world, on my behalf, for things said by Mike Huckabee and James Dobson. I see. I see. It is clear.

I get Pavlovitz's point. People I am affiliated with say things I disagree with. It might be he was asked by Dobson and Huckabee each to apologize on their behalf. That can happen. I suppose. But it didn't. Back to word self-appointed.

This is not a blog post getting into what Pavlovitz thinks he is addressing. Rather, I am using his claim to apologize to point that, in his attempt, he, in my opinion, dismisses the depth and importance of the issues, and disrespects the families hurt or killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy.

By apologizing for something he didn’t do is disingenuous and arrogant. It is as if he has the right to apologize by proxy, somehow representing Christians. He does not have it. There is no position to do so. Only God could, and He never sins, so that would not happen. The evangelical world, which includes both Dobson and Huckabee, is not a cleanly drawn line, with a leader telling followers what to believe. There are many denominations, and many diverse viewpoints.

Just as I cannot, on the behalf of white people, apologize for the KKK, slavery and other racist actions, he simply does not have the right or responsibility, creating only a hollowness that is as meaningless in direct opposition to what I think he intended. These kinds of blanket apologies injure the genuinely hurt by putting a Hallmark Card spin on a very serious matter.

When President Clinton apologized for various things the American government did to Africans here in the 1930-1970s involving syphilis testing, no one took it as a real apology. It was, at best, symbolic. Genuine? I think so. Heart felt? I think so.

Wikipedia says: "The Tuskegee syphilis experiment (also known as the Tuskegee syphilis study or Public Health Service syphilis study) was an infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government."

What President Clinton said: The United States Government did something that was wrong, deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens. We can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people what the United States Government did was shameful, and I am sorry.

I agree 100% with President Clinton on this. He was saying to the nation, "I, as leader of this nation, and part of a long line of presidents to be followed by others, and therefore as a representative and spokesperson for the nation, want all of America and the world to know such testing is wrong, was wrong and always will be wrong. I cannot undo what was done, but I can say we will never do it again." Those are my words, but that's my take on what President Clinton said.

But it was not an apology. Clinton had not done the wrong himself.  Had he skipped, "I am sorry," at the end, and no one would call it an apology. They'd just say, "Right on, Mr. President." But, Clinton was President. What the American government did was wrong. He tried, did so publicly, and outside of those three words, it was a perfect statement.

I have no idea who John Pavlovitz is. I know he said in response to things Dobson and Huckabee have said, "This week, these “representatives” of Christianity in the American media, have done what they seem bent on doing and content to do in times of tragedy; they have stood on top of someone else’s pain and grief, while preaching a message of dreadfully misplaced, fear-infused hatred and horribly dangerous theology."

Which exactly what he has done.


Why I Celebrate Christmas

As I posted in my official Facebook page:

Christmas celebrates the beginning of the most amazing human to ever walk this Earth. Jesus Christ is not a tale or a legend, not a cute story about a baby in a manger, but the most dangerous person from Herod's perspective, someone to be worshiped from the shepherds' perspective, someone to be loved from Mary and Joseph's perspective, and Lord, God and King, from my perspective. 

Enjoy this Christmas season, love your neighbors as yourself, and, when you sing a glorious carol, think about what Jesus did some 33 years later.


An End of Everything: An Eerie Tale About NonExistence

Tree Fort BooksOK. Here I am. 

Midnight. December 21, 2012. It just turned Friday.

Didn't see this coming.

Uh oh.

I need to make some changes. I have entire tomorrow to plan, though here we are. It is tomorrow. There wasn't supposed to be one. Tomorrow was supposed to... hmm. This all gets kind of messy as verb tenses go. Either, I was not expecting to be here. The Mayans did some bad math. Or did I?

Some apologies. Lots of apologies. Though, then again, I think I will be hearing a few as well. You know, from that one guy and his friend, and their cousin. Definitely the cousin.

And, yeah, that thing that happened I thought no one would ever find out about? They probably will. That will take some explaining.

Looks like there will be a little credit card problem later today when the banks open. That is not going to look good. I need to stop by the luxury auto place and see if they will take back a customized Lamborghini.

Not to worry. It's not like its the end of the world. Yeah, I heard that before. Ha!

Those silly people talking about the end of the world. Can you believe that people actually bought into it. Just like this. Here I am, right after midnight. I'm here. You're here. Everyone is here. Wherever they were at 11:59 pm, Wednesday, December 20, they are still there. Same place. Same everything.

Just like we have always been and always will be, give or take a billion years and the sun exploding.

It is late, I'm tired.

Um, what was that sound? Yes, that sound. The crack. The loud, eerie, crushing crack. A branch? No, no. Deeper than a branch. A truck crash? Not that. I saw one once. Not as eerie. This crack echoed, but it was a backwards echo. The sound consumed itself.

It is still cracking. How can that be? Cracks end. Things are supposed to break. Is this an earthquake? I can't tell. The lights are off. There is no other sound. Just the crack.

Where is everyone? Streetlights gone. Must be a power outage. The sound? Should the earth move? I live in Chicago. Earthquakes don't happen here. The earth must. The quaking part.

Where's the moon? There is no moon. It must be cloudy. I don't see any stars. There must be clouds. I don't see anything. No clouds. No sky. I don't even see the neighbors house.

It must be a huge storm. It can't be a storm. There is no wind. No rain. Things are dry. Completely dry. No, I don't feel anything. Where's my bed? I was in my bed. I think. Or am downstairs?

The crack is gone. It stopped. I hear nothing. Nothing at all. The heat is off. The fridge too. Of course. The power is out. Right. Those are off. I got it. Shouldn't I hear something? The building is always settling. No traffic outside. No airplanes. Quiet night. Everyone must be in. But I don't even hear my clothes when I move. Did I move? Of course I am moving. But I'm not moving. I'm sitting still. Or am I standing?

This blackness. It causes vertigo. I never had it before. This must be what blind people go through, seeing nothing at all. Deaf people too.

It is so dark. No, dark is not the word. It is too dark for that. I can't even see what I'm thinking.

I'm thirsty. I think I'm thirsty. Or hungry. No I'm not. I'm not at all. I'm not. I just no longer am.

I'm not.

For silly tales, please visit http://TreeFortBooks.com


Rosati's Pizza and Gambling: Finding Better Pizza with Social Responsibility

Rosati's Pizza Twitter Post about Their New Video Gambling Machine 
Proudly announcing their video gambling machine, complete with a how-to video on YouTube embedded in, Rosati's Pizza lost my business. 

I will not knowingly support a business directly encouraging this kind of gambling. Yes, I shop where lottery tickets are sold, and despise that I must. As pizza goes, I have plenty of alternatives.

See the original Tweet for yourself. They have blocked me (apparently not happy that I pointed out that Nancy's Pizza tastes better and is less salty than Rosati's Pizza), but I am glad to post the link here, encouraging free speech. Let me know if they take it down. 

The machine is in their Yorkville, IL store. I used to buy from their Wheaton, IL store. Yorkville's decision impacted the Wheaton store's business. 

For those of you outside of Chicago, Rosati's Pizza is a basic Chicago-style pizza. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago-style_pizza#Thin-crust_pizza):
There is also a style of thin-crust pizza found in Chicago and throughout the rest of the Midwestern USA. The crust is thin and firm enough to have a noticeable crunch, unlike a New York-style pizza. 
The crust is topped with a liberal quantity of Italian style tomato sauce, which usually has quite a lot of herbs or is highly spiced, and typically contains no visible chunks of tomato. Next, a layer of toppings is added, and finally a layer of mozzarella cheese. This pizza is cut into squares, also known as party cut or tavern cut, as opposed to a pie cut into wedges. However, the consistency of the crust and the quantity and choice of the tomato sauce and cheese are what separate this style from East Coast- and Roman-style pizzas, and it makes the pizza from most neighborhood pizzerias immediately distinguishable from that offered by national chains such as Papa John's or Pizza Hut. Aurelios is a chain which specializes in this kind of pizza. Casa Bianca, located in the Eagle Rock section of Los Angeles, is also well known for this style of thin-crusted Chicago bar pizza.

I have had it delivered for many years, but now, as I am against gambling, am no longer willing to buy from them.

It is a free country. They are doing nothing illegal. In fact, as their post says clearly, they have a license to do this, issued by the State of Illinois. The fact that it is legal does not mean I should support a business doing something I despise. 

My community matters more to me than my pizza choice. And, as it turns out, we have several other excellent pizza choices. 

Why don't I like gambling? Plainly, I think it hurts communities in proportion to how much gambling there is. More importantly, it hurts people. I won't labor on about my reasons, but the short version is that communities are never bettered from the addition of opportunities to gamble. You can see the definition of problem gambling below, but I also think there is a larger negative social impact. Sure, not everyone who gambles will become a compulsive gambler, and one video machine may not cause anyone to struggle.  

I also know many of my readers may be enthusiastic gamblers without any issues of addiction and are not involved in any aspect of gambling culture that is a social concern. I'm not denying your right, or Rosati's Pizza's right. I am merely explaining that Rosati's Pizza's decision nauseates me. Why would I want to purchase food from a place that equates vomit in my mind? I don't. 

What is Problem Gambling?
Problem gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term "Problem Gambling" includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as "Pathological", or "Compulsive" Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, "chasing" losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.


More Love, Less Politics: The Sandy Hook Tragedy

Already, what happened in Connecticut has become political. More guns. Fewer guns. More God in school. Less God in school. Meaningless online petitions. Impassioned Facebook posts which exact some strong emotion and a dozen like-minded responses, or a new profile picture with a candle. Nice. 

Sympathetically, our nation weeps. Our President Obama has capably stepped in as he would in any major tragedy, to offer comfort. Our churches cry out across the nation. We need to wrap our heads and hearts around this, yet know we cannot. It is too big, but we must try. 

Meanwhile, the people immediately around us need our love, not our politics. They need us to call them, to ask them how they are, to invite them for dinner, or to just sit quietly over coffee or wine.

It is easy to join the water cooler soldiers for righteousness. I live in Illinois and have no connection to the Connecticut tragedy. I cannot make a difference there. Some of you actually can. You know those directly impacted. But here, hundreds of miles away, who can I love?

That said, of course everyone killed breaks my heart, including the gunman himself. Which life didn't God love? Did He love the children more than the adults? Did He love the killer more than the killed or less? 

Our neighbors, who we should love, go through big and large sufferings daily. The suffering elderly, the scared unwed mom, the inmate lonely in jail, the hungry, the cold, the unclothed, the guy who lost his job, the high school kid whose girlfriend just dumped him for another guy - it goes on, and God so, so ... so loved the world that He gave us His son. He loved us 2,000 years ago and loves us, them... we, today and tomorrow. May the tragedy at Sandy Hook not outshine our need to love our neighbor.

It is harder to love our neighbor as yourself. Atheists as well as believers in any deity should understand this. I'm not going to convince the atheist that my Lord is real, nor do I care that they think my beliefs are misguided. That's a wholly different discussion. I do hope anyone reading this, though, looks directly to the east, west, south and north of their home, cubicle, train commute, grocery store line or coffee shop table and asks if there is something they can do to love their neighbor.

Maybe you have no idea how. Fair enough. Try asking about them. Listen. Then be ready to respond. Love might take the cost of dinner, but it might just take a half hour hearing their heart, or, maybe, just talking about something seemingly trite, like the Chicago Bears' awful season. Maybe it takes investment, like calling them next week too.

More love, less politics. 


FREE! My strangest tale ever!

FREE! My strangest tale ever! Escape from Hicklebirkle Manor.

Chucky the Cat, rat couple Edgar and Veronica, and Mason the Turtle all live happily until Old Man dies. When Chucky the Cat eats Veronica, trouble begins. Can they escape the house where they are trapped?

For Kindle.


Storytelling This Friday in Geneva, IL and 3 FREE Tales

My latest big announcement is ready (http://x.co/qXIv). Besides news about me telling tales to youngsters this Friday (free), there are social media links, freebies and more.

I explain the correlation between storytelling and speech writing, and am giving away three Kindle tales (one for the next three days). Today's freebie is "How Wind Began: The Story of Pepper Jack: A Bluster County Tale."

I invite readers to enjoy the tales with their children (or on their commute -- I won't tell). Publishers and agents, see what I can do. Book reviewers, please consider reviewing on Amazon. As always, if you need a speechwriter for your next event, please contact me.

The link takes you to the email with the free books (through GoDaddy).


Free - Storytelling - Ages 4-8 (all ages welcome)
Classic and original tales.
Friday, December 14 

Two tellings (each will be the same)
10:00-10:30/11:00 am
2:00-2:30/3:00 pm
RSVP on Facebook 
Barnes and Noble (in Geneva Commons)
102 Commons Drive
Geneva, IL 60134



For Annie

Thank Heaven! the crisis,
      The danger, is past,
And the lingering illness
      Is over at last—
And the fever called "Living"
      Is conquered at last.

Sadly, I know
      I am shorn of my strength,
And no muscle I move
      As I lie at full length—
But no matter!—I feel
      I am better at length.

And I rest so composedly,
      Now, in my bed,
That any beholder
      Might fancy me dead—
Might start at beholding me,
      Thinking me dead.

The moaning and groaning,
      The sighing and sobbing,
Are quieted now,
      With that horrible throbbing
At heart:—ah, that horrible,
      Horrible throbbing!

The sickness—the nausea—
      The pitiless pain—
Have ceased, with the fever
      That maddened my brain—
With the fever called "Living"
      That burned in my brain.

And oh! of all tortures
      That torture the worst
Has abated—the terrible
      Torture of thirst
For the naphthaline river
      Of Passion accurst:—
I have drank of a water
      That quenches all thirst:—

Of a water that flows,
      With a lullaby sound,
From a spring but a very few
      Feet under ground—
From a cavern not very far
      Down under ground.

And ah! let it never
      Be foolishly said
That my room it is gloomy
      And narrow my bed;
For man never slept
      In a different bed—
And, to sleep, you must slumber
      In just such a bed.

My tantalized spirit
      Here blandly reposes,
Forgetting, or never
      Regretting, its roses—
Its old agitations
      Of myrtles and roses:

For now, while so quietly
      Lying, it fancies
A holier odor
      About it, of pansies—
A rosemary odor,
      Commingled with pansies—
With rue and the beautiful
      Puritan pansies.

And so it lies happily,
      Bathing in many
A dream of the truth
      And the beauty of Annie—
Drowned in a bath
      Of the tresses of Annie.

She tenderly kissed me,
      She fondly caressed,
And then I fell gently
      To sleep on her breast—
Deeply to sleep
      From the heaven of her breast.

When the light was extinguished,
      She covered me warm,
And she prayed to the angels
      To keep me from harm—
To the queen of the angels
      To shield me from harm.

And I lie so composedly,
      Now, in my bed,
(Knowing her love)
      That you fancy me dead—
And I rest so contentedly,
      Now in my bed
(With her love at my breast).
      That you fancy me dead—
That you shudder to look at me,
      Thinking me dead:—

But my heart it is brighter
      Than all of the many
Stars in the sky,
      For it sparkles with Annie—
It glows with the light
      Of the love of my Annie—
With the thought of the light
      Of the eyes of my Annie.


Morning on the Wissahiccon by Edgar Allan Poe

Morning on the Wissahiccon 
by Edgar Allan Poe

The natural scenery of America has often been contrasted, in its general features as well as in detail, with the landscape of the Old World—more especially of Europe—and not deeper has been the enthusiasm, than wide the dissension, of the supporters of each region. The discussion is one not likely to be soon closed, for, although much has been said on both sides, a word more yet remains to be said.

The most conspicuous of the British tourists who have attempted a comparison, seem to regard our northern and eastern seaboard, comparatively speaking, as all of America, at least, as all of the United States, worthy consideration. They say little, because they have seen less, of the gorgeous interior scenery of some of our western and southern districts—of the vast valley of Louisiana, for example,—a realization of the wildest dreams of paradise. For the most part, these travellers content themselves with a hasty inspection of the natural lions of the land—the Hudson, Niagara, the Catskills, Harper's Ferry, the lakes of New York, the Ohio, the prairies, and the Mississippi. These, indeed, are objects well worthy the contemplation even of him who has just clambered by the castellated Rhine, or roamed

By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone;

but these are not all of which we can boast; and, indeed, I will be so hardy as to assert that there are innumerable quiet, obscure, and scarcely explored nooks, within the limits of the United States, that, by the true artist, or cultivated lover of the grand and beautiful amid the works of God, will be preferred to each and to all of the chronicled and better accredited scenes to which I have referred.

In fact, the real Edens of the land lie far away from the track of our own most deliberate tourists—how very far, then, beyond the reach of the foreigner, who, having made with his publisher at home arrangements for a certain amount of comment upon America, to be furnished in a stipulated period, can hope to fulfil his agreement in no other manner than by steaming it, memorandum—book in hand, through only the most beaten thoroughfares of the country!

I mentioned, just above, the valley of Louisiana. Of all extensive areas of natural loveliness, this is perhaps the most lovely. No fiction has approached it. The most gorgeous imagination might derive suggestions from its exuberant beauty. And beauty is, indeed, its sole character. It has little, or rather nothing, of the sublime. Gentle undulations of soil, interwreathed with fantastic crystallic streams, banked by flowery slopes, and backed by a forest vegetation, gigantic, glossy, multicoloured, sparkling with gay birds and burthened with perfume—these features make up, in the vale of Louisiana, the most voluptuous natural scenery upon earth.

But, even of this delicious region, the sweeter portions are reached only by the bypaths. Indeed, in America generally, the traveller who would behold the finest landscapes, must seek them not by the railroad, nor by the steamboat, not by the stage-coach, nor in his private carriage, not yet even on horseback—but on foot. He must walk, he must leap ravines, he must risk his neck among precipices, or he must leave unseen the truest, the richest, and most unspeakable glories of the land.

Now in the greater portion of Europe no such necessity exists. In England it exists not at all. The merest dandy of a tourist may there visit every nook worth visiting without detriment to his silk stockings; so thoroughly known are all points of interest, and so well-arranged are the means of attaining them. This consideration has never been allowed its due weight, in comparisons of the natural scenery of the Old and New Worlds. The entire loveliness of the former is collated with only the most noted, and with by no means the most eminent items in the general loveliness of the latter.

River scenery has, unquestionably, within itself, all the main elements of beauty, and, time out of mind, has been the favourite theme of the poet. But much of this fame is attributable to the predominance of travel in fluvial over that in mountainous districts. In the same way, large rivers, because usually highways, have, in all countries, absorbed an undue share of admiration. They are more observed, and, consequently, made more the subject of discourse, than less important, but often more interesting streams.

A singular exemplification of my remarks upon this head may be found in the Wissahiccon, a brook, (for more it can scarcely be called,) which empties itself into the Schuylkill, about six miles westward of Philadelphia. Now the Wissahiccon is of so remarkable a loveliness that, were it flowing in England, it would be the theme of every bard, and the common topic of every tongue, if, indeed, its banks were not parcelled off in lots, at an exorbitant price, as building-sites for the villas of the opulent. Yet it is only within a very few years that any one has more than heard of the Wissahiccon, while the broader and more navigable water into which it flows, has been long celebrated as one of the finest specimens of American river scenery. The Schuylkill, whose beauties have been much exaggerated, and whose banks, at least in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, are marshy like those of the Delaware, is not at all comparable, as an object of picturesque interest, with the more humble and less notorious rivulet of which we speak.

It was not until Fanny Kemble, in her droll book about the United States, pointed out to the Philadelphians the rare loveliness of a stream which lay at their own doors, that this loveliness was more than suspected by a few adventurous pedestrians of the vicinity. But, the "Journal" having opened all eyes, the Wissahiccon, to a certain extent, rolled at once into notoriety. I say "to a certain extent," for, in fact, the true beauty of the stream lies far above the route of the Philadelphian picturesque-hunters, who rarely proceed farther than a mile or two above the mouth of the rivulet—for the very excellent reason that here the carriage-road stops. I would advise the adventurer who would behold its finest points to take the Ridge Road, running westwardly from the city, and, having reached the second lane beyond the sixth mile-stone, to follow this lane to its termination. He will thus strike the Wissahiccon, at one of its best reaches, and, in a skiff, or by clambering along its banks, he can go up or down the stream, as best suits his fancy, and in either direction will meet his reward.

I have already said, or should have said, that the brook is narrow. Its banks are generally, indeed almost universally, precipitous, and consist of high hills, clothed with noble shrubbery near the water, and crowned at a greater elevation, with some of the most magnificent forest trees of America, among which stands conspicuous the liriodendron tulipiferum. The immediate shores, however, are of granite, sharply defined or moss-covered, against which the pellucid water lolls in its gentle flow, as the blue waves of the Mediterranean upon the steps of her palaces of marble. Occasionally in front of the cliffs, extends a small definite plateau of richly herbaged land, affording the most picturesque position for a cottage and garden which the richest imagination could conceive. The windings of the stream are many and abrupt, as is usually the case where banks are precipitous, and thus the impression conveyed to the voyager's eye, as he proceeds, is that of an endless succession of infinitely varied small lakes, or, more properly speaking, tarns. The Wissahiccon, however, should be visited, not like "fair Melrose," by moonlight, or even in cloudy weather, but amid the brightest glare of a noonday sun; for the narrowness of the gorge through which it flows, the height of the hills on either hand, and the density of the foliage, conspire to produce a gloominess, if not an absolute dreariness of effect, which, unless relieved by a bright general light, detracts from the mere beauty of the scene.

Not long ago I visited the stream by the route described, and spent the better part of a sultry day in floating in a skiff upon its bosom. The heat gradually overcame me, and, resigning myself to the influence of the scenes and of the weather, and of the gentle moving current, I sank into a half slumber, during which my imagination revelled in visions of the Wissahiccon of ancient days—of the "good old days" when the Demon of the Engine was not, when picnics were undreamed of, when "water privileges" were neither bought nor sold, and when the red man trod alone, with the elk, upon the ridges that now towered above. And, while gradually these conceits took possession of my mind, the lazy brook had borne me, inch by inch, around one promontory and within full view of another that bounded the prospect at the distance of forty or fifty yards. It was a steep rocky cliff, abutting far into the stream, and presenting much more of the Salvator character than any portion of the shore hitherto passed. What I saw upon this cliff, although surely an object of very extraordinary nature, the place and season considered, at first neither startled nor amazed me—so thoroughly and appropriately did it chime in with the half-slumberous fancies that enwrapped me. I saw, or dreamed that I saw, standing upon the extreme verge of the precipice, with neck outstretched, with ears erect, and the whole attitude indicative of profound and melancholy inquisitiveness, one of the oldest and boldest of those identical elks which had been coupled with the red men of my vision.

I say that, for a few moments, this apparition neither startled nor amazed me. During this interval my whole soul was bound up in intense sympathy alone. I fancied the elk repining, not less than wondering, at the manifest alterations for the worse, wrought upon the brook and its vicinage, even within the last few years, by the stern hand of the utilitarian. But a slight movement of the animal's head at once dispelled the dreaminess which invested me, and aroused me to a full sense of novelty of the adventure. I arose upon one knee within the skiff, and, while I hesitated whether to stop my career, or let myself float nearer to the object of my wonder, I heard the words "hist!" "hist!" ejaculated quickly but cautiously, from the shrubbery overhead. In an instant afterwards, a negro emerged from the thicket, putting aside the bushes with care, and treading stealthily. He bore in one hand a quantity of salt, and, holding it towards the elk, gently yet steadily approached. The noble animal, although a little fluttered, made no attempt at escape. The negro advanced; offered the salt; and spoke a few words of encouragement or conciliation. Presently, the elk bowed and stamped, and then lay quietly down and was secured with a halter.

Thus ended my romance of the elk. It was a pet of great age and very domestic habits, and belonged to an English family occupying a villa in the vicinity.


Voting the Issues (Are You Serious?)

Dick Dastardly
Voting the issues. You say you do it, but it seems issues are fungible.

We vote for only candidates in our party. It doesn't matter what they think. We'll defend our man (apparently women aren't popular potential presidents in either party) no matter how awkward the gaffe, no matter how ugly the youthful indiscretion was. We might like to say, "But I grew up in a hardcore XYZ party family and I'm a free thinker." Cute, but each year, you vote predictably. True independent voters don't exist. The last one died years ago, choking on a peanut in 1979.

We vote for whomever was blessed by whatever church we approve of. Maybe your church has a pretty white steeple or is one of those new fangled ones which looks like a shopping mall. Maybe your church is the coffee shop on the corner, your communion is a lemon poppyseed cake and a triple shot latte, with the sign of the sign of the croissant roll given by your barista. We are all followers, afraid to declare we are lemmings. Even atheists have religion, godless as it may be.

No one votes issues anymore. That is so 1980s. Issues left us with the death o parachute pants. We're smarter now, with soul patched goatees and horned rimmed glasses. We are all about who can zing the opposition and their minions the best. It is us, and it is them. Snarky is truth. White Sox and Cubs. Packers and Bears. Yankee Doodle Pigeon and Dick Dastardly. Who is funniest? Who wears what to the grand ball? My candidate has more celebs than yours. Did you hear what Rush Olbermann said on MSNFOX? Red states, blue states, pink issues, yellow ribbons, Green party. What color matches your eyes today?

Which is God's Party?
Those people on the other sides aren't REAL Christians. No, no, really. Look it up. It is in Romans 10:9-10, where it deals with the complex issue of election (vs freedom of choice):

"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and vote for His political party and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and sent His candidate to be in the White House, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, with your vote your demonstrate your faith, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved, until the next election." 

Find out what Romans 10:9-10 really says in almost any translation you can think of. Then you Generation Xers and Baby Boomers enjoy the video below.


Poet Anthony Trendl to Appear at Fresh Poems Nite

Anthony Trendl, author of the popular Bluster County short story series published on Wheaton’s Patch, will among the poets performing at “Fresh Poems Nite.” Hosted by the Burning Bush Gallery in Wheaton, IL, Fresh Poems presents an evening of artistic collaborations, poetry, musicians, and artists.
Mr. Trendl will be performing three poems that grab the imagination, heart and soul. His intense, dramatic delivery will keep audiences enraptured as he draws them into his world. This is new work for an adult audience (rated PG), unrelated to his children's work.
All creative people are welcome. Open Mic will be facilitated by Chicago Street Poet Mehret Asgedom, DJ 505 will keep the music vibe live.
Come on out. There will be plenty of offee, snacks and music. Bring a friend and support the local art scene.
"Fresh Poems presents evening of artistic collaborations, poetry, musicians, artists. All creatives welcome. Open Mic will be facilitated by Chicago Street Poet Mehret Asgedom, DJ 505 will keep the music vibe live."
Where224 N Main St, Wheaton, IL 60187
Next on
Time7:00 pm–10:00 pm
Who to bringEveryone
Phone(630) 668-3100
Visual arts is of the utmost importance in spiritual education and development as it attempts to illustrate and convey emerging epiphanies of Christianity in tangible form--Inspiring theological reflection & compassionate acts.
We work with themes of spiritual, theological, sociological, anthropological, psychological, and ecclesiastical significance that ignite artists and guests alike to reflect, participate, challenge, and act.
We feature art shows that are open (call for artists) and closed (working with specific artist or group). We also host spirituality of movement classes (also known as Yoga) frequently. We occasionally have drum circles, artist lectures and presentations, music circles. We also have hosted a storytelling conference, a poetry open mic, and an evening of original voices. We are continuing to explore and expand our vision to other creativity and ministerial arenas beyond 2D or 3D "art."
In our three and a half years here, we have hosted over 30 shows working with such organizations as Peoples' Resource Center, NAMI/Awakenings Project, JUSTDuPage, Wheaton College Photography, Morton Arboretum Artists' Guild, College of DuPage Print Makers, Franklin Middle School, Jericho Road, to name a few.
We are a ministry of Gary Church and maintain our existence by dedicated volunteers and donations.
For more about Anthony Trendl, please see TreeFortBooks.com or join him on Facebook.


Ten Things About Bluster County

Ten Things About Bluster County

What is Bluster County? Is it real? What will I find there? Angry elephants, living creatures in libraries, giant blue goldfish, talking butterflies, massive baseball players?

Find out here. Please share, like and Tweet. And comment. Love comments.

Editor's note: Do you know which much more famous book cover I ripped off?

Catch me on Twitter. http://twitter.com/anthonytrendl
Follow my writing on my Facebook official page (lots of fun posts/discussion/pictures/video)


Free Kindle Children's Tale: Mr. Smith and His Delicious Ice Cream: A Bluster County Tale

Mr. Smith and His Delicious Ice Cream: A Bluster County Tale is free on Kindle for a limited time. Plenty of fun, calorie-free.

Read aloud this silly children's tale about a boy's tongue-twisting name and his strange ice cream recipe.

Born with a complicated name, this strange boy has an odd taste for food. Well, just ice cream with the most unusual recipe.

A quick read, fully packed with nonsense and even a ridiculous, tongue-twisting rhyme.

Would you eat ice cream the way Triplebippleabbledabblekadupledop Smith does?

Imagine Dr. Seuss writing while on a bad acid trip. -J. Chambers, in a review on Amazon.com 
About Bluster County

Bluster County, USA. That's anywhere the biggest fish never get away, yet somehow aren't as expected. The mountains are built from elephants, champion coin droppers are around every corner, and the spring wind blows harder than a tornado but never leaves a mark. It is where I live, and it might be where you live too.

These are the days in Bluster County which cause me to smile, and I would live nowhere else. The sun rises an inch higher here than anywhere else in the world, making every day brighter.

Imagine a world in which everything goes completely right, and completely wrong all at once. This is the story of an extraordinary everyman's life, but filled with color, excitement, and plenty of bluster.

In Bluster County, you will hear old men tell old American Tall-Tales -- except these are completely true, more or less. Filled with half-truths, bald-faced lies, and the occasional fact, expect not to learn much of anything that's important.


Reading books with the joy of a child is what we are all about.

Do you remember those days as a young boy or girl reading, hidden away in a secret place — a tree fort, your bedroom, or a special corner of the house? Do you long for those blissful hours of reading the adventures of Sherlock Holmes or Robinson Crusoe or Mark Twain? Or was it Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables or the Little House on the Prairie series? Good days!

Author Anthony Trendl fondly remembers those innocent days, and has written a series of tales full of wonder and amazement. Enjoy these extraordinary stories with your family in your tree fort.

See http://TreeFortBooks.com for more.

Tom Baker as the Current Doctor Who: Could he thrive?

How would Tom Baker do in the milieu of today's Dr. Who -- that is, if he were the current Doctor. We have better scripts, directing, production values, with a stronger array of secondary characters. Could he thrive?


All three of the modern Doctors have received a more complex raison d'ĂȘtre than the early rendition of the show. Before the reincarnation of the show, we knew little about the personalities, plots felt like stiff radio episodes, the companions were more prop-like than characters, and the sets had a bad off-Broadway theater look to them.

I love Dr. Who. Enthusiastic friends pulled me into the BBC classic my sophomore year of high school, during the Tom Baker era. Baker was done with the role, but we watched reruns on PBS (Channel 11 in Chicago). Daleks, K9, Romana, Leela, Harry Sullivan and so on. And the scarf. I have one of those scarves. Bought it then. Still have it.

Back to the Doctors.

I think Christopher Eccleston could have been fantastic if given more time. He captivated a kind of rage not seen in any Doctor before of after. There was a tension that could snap at any time of it weren't for the incredible Rose Tyler (Billie Piper).

David Tennant is a brilliantly textured actor, and he and the writers had time to figure his Doctor out. More on him below.

Matt Smith seems too young for the role. Karen Gillan's Amy Pond is a much stronger personality and it shows. It feels too much like he is acting, as opposed to his three modern predecessors who "were" Dr. Who. They owned the role. Smith is passable, but still too green to get it.

[Speaking of Matt Smith, my children's tale Mr. Smith and His Delicious Ice Cream: A Bluster County Tale is free on Kindle for a limited time. A different Mr. Smith. Plenty of fun, calorie-free.]

Tom Baker had plenty of time to develop the Doctor Who persona, but the writers and producers never gave him a chance. Even episodes written by the late, great Douglas Adams felt wooden and thinly layered.

Part of it was the times. Technology limited the BBC's options. So did budget. But, so did talent. The sum of who works on today's Dr. Who trumps the, say, 1978 version tenfold. Consider how popular the Fourth Doctor remains, despite all of the drawbacks the 1970s Dr. Who offered. Survey after survey finds him at or near the top. Baker is the singular reason.

Baker played the Fourth Doctor from 1974-1981. Quite possibly the most eccentric of all the Doctors. Tennant could be vary his personality a thousand ways, showing great emotional depth. Always, however, Tennant's Doctor had a Shakespearean dimension, and with that, a kind of predictability. Baker, in turn, was often so playful and goofy. Tennant's theater training makes him among the strongest of the lot while, at the same time, limiting him.

In the long run, Tennant's acting career will be richer, with more interesting roles than Baker could imagine. Already, his resume is vastly impressive. But, if Tom Baker were to be the 13th Doctor, though in his prime in his 40s, I think he'd nail it. He was born to be the Doctor.

What do you think?

The video below looks at some of Tom Baker's sillier bits. (Justice Carmon, comic/fantasy blogger, will enjoy the first scene.)

Join us on Facebook discussing this.


Fresh Off the Press: My New Newsletter

Fresh off the press (it is still hot-hot-hot!), sent to thousands of my closest, dearest friends, and now you too, my favorite blog reader is my brand-spanking, fancy-schmancy newsletter.

I get into how we can connect, something about what I do professionally, and a free children's book (Kindle). There's even an invitation for coffee.

Take a look. You'll see the link for the free book somewhere near the middle.


What do you think?


My Biggest Game: A Baseball Story: A Bluster County Tale

My Biggest Game: A Baseball Story: A Bluster County Tale - on Kindle today for just $0.99 (FREE for Amazon Prime members to borrow)
Bowing low, he gave a last confident nod toward home plate, the kind that said, 'You know kid, I'm Danny Dragoon. I pitch fire, and you can't hit fire. No one can.'

A scrawny fourth grader goes to bat against Danny Dragoon, the best pitcher in all of Bluster County. No one expects him to get a hit, but by accident, he does. Suddenly, the attention is on him, not Danny. A tale of sportsmanship.

This is a mostly true story. Really. I played on the Crestwood, IL Twins. Mostly, I played outfield, and occasionally took over at second or third base. I even pitched once or twice. My arm, despite my small stature, threw a mean fastball. My trouble was that I was nowhere near the plate. I was terrible, but I had a great time.

Follow me on Facebook. Twice as much free fun (way more fun than George Takei)

Bluster County, USA. That's anywhere the biggest fish never get away, yet somehow aren't as expected. The mountains are built from elephants, champion coin droppers are around every corner, and the spring wind blows harder than a tornado but never leaves a mark. It is where I live, and it might be where you live too.

These are the days in Bluster County which cause me to smile, and I would live nowhere else. The sun rises an inch higher here than anywhere else in the world, making every day brighter.

Imagine a world in which everything goes completely right, and completely wrong all at once. This is the story of an extraordinary everyman's life, but filled with color, excitement, and plenty of bluster.

In Bluster County, you will hear old men tell old American Tall-Tales -- except these are completely true, more or less. Filled with half-truths, bald-faced lies, and the occasional fact, expect not to learn much of anything that's important.

Reading books with the joy of a child is what we are all about.

Do you remember those days as a young boy or girl reading, hidden away in a secret place — a tree fort, your bedroom, or a special corner of the house? Do you long for those blissful hours of reading the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Robinson Crusoe or Mark Twain? Or was it Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables or the Little House on the Prairie series? Good days!

Author Anthony Trendl fondly remembers those innocent days, and has written a series of tales full of wonder and amazement. Enjoy these extraordinary stories with your family in your tree fort. From Tree Fort Books


Drew Peterson is Guilty of First Degree Murder of Kathleen Savio

Drew Peterson is guilty of first degree murder. Kathleen Savio was murdered by Drew Peterson.

Now you know. The circus is over: pushed by ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, at the very least. There was little respect throughout the entire case for the dead. Ad dollars were at stake. I turned off the TV, or changed the station, every time this came on.

You've sneered at the murderer. You have shaken your fist. He taunted you, and you bit.

The world is not better because he was found guilty. We are not safer.

He will be sentenced for a long time. Maybe 60 years. Looks like justice to some. The more vengeful type would prefer he were strapped to a gurney by men with masks on, and shot full of chemicals. You know, like an abortion, only killing a guy in his late 50s instead of in the womb.

Don't get me wrong. He should be in prison for a long time. He not only killed his wife, but he is not even close to remorseful. He's a two-bit thug. Never let go, I hope, from the way things look now.

I live not far from where things happened (west of Chicago), and more than a few people I know say they knew a guy who knew a guy whose best friend's old girlfriend was once hit on by Peterson in a bar. I welcome when this is over completely.

You aren't smarter to have followed the trial. You are not morally cleaner. Unless you wrote a book about it all, you aren't richer. In fact, I'd suggest the opposite, but you can work out the details about all of that.

Meanwhile, other killers are out there. Only, they haven't killed yet. No, your job is not to become a paranoid neighborhood watchman packing a gun, ready to shoot any suspicious looking white man in your neighborhood. Your job is to love your neighbor. 

Maybe Drew Peterson's kind can't be helped. He never seemed like a good man. But there are other scared, lonely men and women who just need a friend.

Go now, turn the circus off. Drew Peterson and the media have manipulated you into watching long enough. Move on. Log off. Call your neighbor, or that awkward person. Watch a movie, have coffee. Invite them for dinner. Twice. Be a friend. Listen.

You won't change the world, but watching what the media networks have presented as reality TV doesn't even change you.

Off you go. Count up your pennies, and pick up the tab. Your neighbor needs you.


"How Is the Critic Free?" My response to the Paris Review

Today's Paris Review article, How Is the Critic Free? by Caleb Crain asks,"A non-question has recently preoccupied the literary corners of the Internet: How rude should a book critic be?"

Rudeness for its own sake is arrogance.

There have been times I have been without mercy as I review (800+ reviews on Amazon and elsewhere), but never rude. Rudeness, albeit the MO of the Snark Generation, and however cute, funny, witty (think Dorothy Parker), is using the gift of writing as a tool of hate. It doesn't look like hate, and isn't shaped like hate, but the ad hominem denigration by a reviewer toward the author is not love. There is more than enough for the intelligent negative critique without spewing rudeness from whatever cave or rock we reviewers hide under. A review, ultimately, is opinion.

Caleb Crain, the article's author asserts: "It’s impossible to find a universal rule that licenses rudeness." Sure there is: "Love your neighbor." Or, if quoting Jesus Christ leaves a sour taste, a secular version says, "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself."

What do you think?


How to Wish Me a Happy Birthday

My birthday is tomorrow (August 30). What do I want? I would love it if you all bought one or more of my Kindle short stories.

There are five in all, each only $0.99 -- delivered instantly to your computer. It is cheaper than buying me a $3.99 card. These are fun reading, with fairy tale and tall tale elements, all family-friendly, geared for smart kids of all ages. If you haven't got a buck, post this link to your Facebook page, Twitter and whatever other social media you connect on and ask your friends to buy one. Or, if you have Amazon Prime, borrow one for free. Let me know, and I'll be glad to thank you the best way I can.

A few things will happen. Full disclosure: I will make a few dimes and a nickel for each purchase. You should know I give away a portion to various nonprofits. My most regular (monthly) gift goes to an organization helping translate tribal languages into a written alphabet and language. More importantly, you get a good read. Depending on sales patterns, the rank for each story will increase. I'd love for it to raise enough for a publisher or agent.

If you like what you read, write a review. That will help as well. Be honest. Great reviews are wonderful, but honesty matters.

  1. ‎"My Biggest Game: A Baseball Story" = ages 6-12, with an emphasis on 8-10.
  2. "Mr. Smith and His Delicious Ice Cream" =  ages  6-10 (boy with crazy name makes crazy ice cream).
  3. "The Boy Who Hated Doing Everything" =  ages  7-11 (boy dreams of adventure, but when it comes knocking on his door, he is lazy -- for the kid who prefers X-Box over playing outside)
  4. "Escape from Hicklebirkle Manor" =  ages  8-12 (several animals are trapped inside the home/yard where the owner passed away).
  5. "How Wind Began: The Story of Pepper Jack" =  ages  8-12 (boy who really loves pepper creates wind with a huge sneeze when pouring black pepper)

home: anthonytrendl.com
speeches: chicagospeechwriter.com
Twitter: twitter.com/anthonytrendl
Facebook author page: facebook.com/AnthonyTrendl
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/anthonytrendl


Fry's Electronics - Bait and Switch?

Why is it I so often go into Fry's Electronics (Downers Grove, IL) to buy products I see on sale in their flyer, only to find they have sold out, and the salesperson tries to sell me a similar, but more expensive model?

I went in last night, ready to buy a laptop, was told they ran out and that "We don't know when will get more, but see these. Only $150 more."

I feel cheated, that Fry's is trying to rip me off. This has happened several times. I feel lied to by the ad, and by Fry's as a whole.

Buying a laptop often is a "I need it now" item. Kid is leaving for school. Existing one breaks down or is lost/stolen. In my case, I need one to be do my job as a writer for a particular client. In other words, I do not have time to wait for Fry's dubious rain check suggestion.

Is this legally bait and switch? I don't know.

There are legal parameters to what counts as bait and switch. I missed the small print covering any "limited quantity" disclaimer.

What Wikipedia says:

"The goal of the bait-and-switch is to persuade buyers to purchase the substitute goods as a means of avoiding disappointment over not getting the bait, or as a way to recover sunk costs expended to try to obtain the bait. It suggests that the seller will not show the original product or service advertised but instead will demonstrate a more expensive product or a similar product with a higher margin."

And, "In the United States, courts have held that the purveyor using a bait-and-switch operation may be subject to a lawsuit by customers for false advertising, and can be sued for trademark infringement by competing manufacturers, retailers, and others who profit from the sale of the product used as bait. However, no cause of action will exist if the purveyor is capable of actually selling the goods advertised, but aggressively pushes a competing product.

Likewise, advertising a sale while intending to stock a limited amount of, and thereby sell out, a loss-leading item advertised is legal in the United States. The purveyor can escape liability if they make clear in their advertisements that quantities of items for which a sale is offered are limited, or by offering a rain check on sold-out items." 


Got a Fave Fun Word?

Got a favorite word? I've always enjoyed 'caterwaul' for no particular reason.

Tell me here:


The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Why the Tell-Tale Heart? Edgar Allan Poe gave us a literary masterpiece, one which has inspired greatly over the years as a writer. See a funny cartoon about the story with Winnie-the-Pooh.

Art is long and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

TRUE!—nervous—very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses—not destroyed—not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily—how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture—a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees—very gradually—I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded—with what caution—with what foresight—with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it—oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly—very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha!—would a madman have been so wise as this? And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously—oh, so cautiously—cautiously (for the hinges creaked)—I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights—every night just at midnight—but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers—of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back—but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out—"Who's there?"

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;—just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief—oh, no!—it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself—"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney—it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel—although he neither saw nor heard—to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little—a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it—you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily—until, at length a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open—wide, wide open—and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness—all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the senses?—now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man's terror musthave been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!—do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me—the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once—once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye—not even his—could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out—no stain of any kind—no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all—ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock—still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,—for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,—for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search—search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:—it continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness—until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew very pale;—but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased—and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound—much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath—and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly—more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men—but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed—I raved—I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder—louder—louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!—no, no! They heard!—they suspected!—they knew!—they were making a mockery of my horror!—this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!—and now—again!—hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!—

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed!—tear up the planks!—here, here!—it is the beating of his hideous heart!"