Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas Story

December should be a relaxing family oriented time of the year where we reflect on our blessings and forgive those who have given us the shaft during the past twelve months. So with yule tide cheer in my heart, I finished up my cup of extra creamy cocoa, bundled up in my holly leaf patterned scarf and headed to the mall to purchase blessings for others.

As I joyfully made my way into the parking lot, nary a parking space could be found. Finally after several minutes of circling, I spotted a woman walking toward their car, so I followed her and patiently waited for her to leave. After applying her makeup and making two calls on her cell phone she looked at me and asked me if I would like to park in her space. "Why yes I would," I replied cheerfully. Then she proceeded to make another phone call and and added some more lipstick. Minutes later when she finally decided to leave she backed out and blocked my way allowing a beat up pickup truck to take my space. A portly lass in a NASCAR sweatshirt, who bore a striking resemblance to Dick the Bruiser stepped out and defiantly raised three fingers in honor of Dale Earnhardt and told me to read between the lines. I know of somebody who just made the naughty list in my book. But its Christmas, a time for forgiving. So I did.

First on my list was a perfume that could only be found in Victoria's Secret. It was on my fiance's wish list so the purchase was not optional. I can honestly say that I had never stepped a foot inside of Victoria's before, but once your inside, the secret is pretty much out of the bag. Holy Cow! There was stuff in there that made my face turn brighter red than Santa's jump suit. Get in and get out! That was the plan. Fat chance! A woman with more chins than Chinese phonebook held a a little piece of black lace and asked if I thought it would look good on her. She wanted to surprise her husband on Christmas morning. "Oh he'll be surprised I assured her,"as I ran to another cashier who was adorned in a elf cap and lace wings. I hope she has the paddles and crash cart ready. She's going to need them.

After assuring the little elf angel that all I wanted was the perfume and I wasn't interested in the leopard bikini or feather boa, she insisted wrapping my little bottle of perfume in a pink and purple Christmas bag, that was large enough to carry a pair of basketballs with the Victoria's Secret logo big enough to read from a hundred yards away.

Trying to act as masculine as possible, I slithered back into the mall and walked right into none other than Ms. Dick the Bruiser herself. She took one look at my bag and called me a pervert. Mothers started to drag their children away and a security cop started meandering in my direction. Like a beaten dog I cowered my way back to my jeep, a beaten man.
From this point on...all Christmas shopping will be done on the internet.

I'm beginning to understand the Grinch's point of view...

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Merry Christmas

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Night at the Symphony

Last night I spent a most enjoyable night with my daughter as we watched the Colorado Symphonic Orchestra in Denver. It was called, "A Night with John Williams." He is the guy that wrote the scores to Jaws, E.T., Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Superman and many more. I have to admit that I enjoyed it as much as the time I saw Arrowsmith and Ted Nugent at the same show, back when I was in high school. It's not the same sort of thing you feel at a rock concert, but it moves you never the less. Instead of feeling ramped up like you do at a rock concert or football game, you feel soothed and refreshed. I couldn't help but notice how an orchestra of over a hundred musicians managed to blend into a signal sound or voice. It's quite a feat. I also noticed that being an orchestra conductor looks like a pretty good gig. All you have to do is stand up front, wave a wand, and receive all the credit without playing a single musical note. Despite being tone deaf and suffering from a case of "having no rhythm", I think I could pull it off.
I will be taking applications for the Bowling Alley Philharmonic Orchestra...
Kazoo players need not apply

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Maestro Rick

Monday, October 29, 2007

African Ridge

Last week on a brisk day after a rain I hiked back to an area where LaMotte Creek meets the Wabash River called African Ridge. The local archaeological society is working their current dig at this location in search of Illinois' first French Settlement on the Wabash. They have already found French artifacts from the mid 1700s at what they think is LaMotte's trading post. Since LaMotte is a major character in my new book, I wanted to see the site first hand. After receiving permission to look around, I was surprised to see how remote the area was for being so close to Palestine. It is nestled in a big loop in the Wabash the which forces you to go quite a bit to the north in order to follow the river back to the south until finally reaching the ridge. After parking my mud covered jeep at the end of a dirt lane, it was only a quarter mile hike to the site. I was surprised to find two ancient Indian burial mounds within fifty yards of the dig. According to the local historians, they are at least a thousand years old. My character, LaMotte, would have looked at these same mounds everyday. I spent a few minutes pondering what my character thought about two enormous mounds of dirt in his back yard or if he cared at all. But what really got my attention was the eerie feeling that I felt as I walked across the ridge. At first, I couldn't put my finger on it, but then it hit me. African Ridge was a battlefield. It was the same feeling I got when I walked at Gettysburg and at Tippecanoe. During the War of 1812, there was a battle between the local militia and and a group of Indians that were allied with the British. Three Americans were killed and three were left for dead. I'm uncertain how many Indians were killed but because the fighting was intense, there were bound to be casualties. Thirty years before this, shortly after George Roger's Clark took Vincennes, a naval battle, (I use the word "naval" lightly, as the battle was fought in canoes) that involved, the Americans, the Brits, the French and Indians) took place within a hundred yards of the ridge. Who knows what happened with the ancient Indians who built the mounds, but one thing is for sure, African Ridge is hallowed ground. It's a shame that it's impossible to get to the sight without trespassing. African Ridge is a beautiful natural area and important to local history.
It would make a great historical park.

The Battle of African Ridge will be recreated in the second sequel to Wa-ba-shik-ki : The conquest of the Wabash.

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Rick On WTWO TV in Terre Haute

I wanted to thank Kim Worland for promoting my book on Valley Showcase on Friday October 5 on WTWO in Terre Haute. It was a fun expeience. Kim is a live wire and quite intense on the set. Hopefully she'll have me back on for Wa-ba-shik-ki.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Book Signings Last Weekend

No good deed goes unpunished!!! The morning book signing in Robinson went well in the nice air conditioned Heath Toffee Museum on the square in Robinson. The turnout was was good despite the 95 degree heat.

The Palestine Wabash Valley Wine and Art Festival's signings on Saturday and Sunday afternoons were a different story. Late in the week I learned that there were not enough food vendors for the event. Being a good standing member of the Palestine Development Association, I volunteered myself and a friend to cook kabobs to make up for the potential shortage of food. I didn't foresee any problem about signing books and cooking meatballs at the same time. Wrong!!! I doubt that you will ever see John Grisham flipping burgers while talking plot twists at one of his signings. Needless to say, a record setting heatwave, added by the heat of the grill Teriyaki sauce, perspiration and an open wine bottle probably didn't make a good impression for the serious literary hounds looking to meet the author. One lady stormed away mad, convinced that I was a carnival huckster posing as the writer. Live and Learn! One fellow, however saw the fun in my situation and insisted that I make a Bar-B-Que sauce thumbprint in lieu of my signature.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Book Signing October 6

I will be signing books at the at the Heath Museum in Robinson Illinois on Saturday October 6th during the Harvest Festival from 10am to noon. Dick Heath is scheduled to sign his after me. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Wa-Ba-Skik-Ki is what the local Indians called the Wabash River in the early 18th century and is also the name of my upcoming book. Wa-Ba-Shik-ki means "bright water flowing over shining white rock," which may seem like false statement, but before erosion occurred, it was an accurate description of the Wabash. The book will be the first of three in a series that will be titled "Conquest of the Wabash." The book begins in 1680 when LaSalle's party is scatted after being attacked by Iroquois Indians near present day Starved Rock. Joseph LaMotte, a young courier de bois, meets the daughter of a Piankeshaw chieftain who takes LaMotte to her village on present LaMotte Prairie. Jean Dubois, LaMotte's best friend searches for his missing countryman only to find him, living happily with the Indians. Their presence changes the tribe's primitive culture forever.

More to Come...

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Hanging of Betsey Reed

August 21, 2007

Hello All:

I suppose it had to come to this...Rick has entered the twenty-first century and started a blog. I hope by now everyone I know has read "The Hanging of Betsey Reed." If you haven't; shame on you! Just kidding, but seriously it was a relief finally see Betsey in print. Up until the book was published, I kept Betsey to myself. It retrospect, it probably wasn't the brightest idea to spend two years with a nineteenth century murderess with a bi-polar personality roaming around in my mind. In the writing of the book, I tried to get inside of Betsey's head and see things from her perspective. I can truely say that Betsey Reed's mind is not a spot one should linger for long. Betsey wanted to be loved but was destined for heartache. Everytime things started to go well for her, she ruined it by shooting herself in the foot. Does that remind you of anyone you know? Today we would say that Betsey was a car wreck ready to happen. But there is a part of us that can't help but watch when people crash and burn.

But Betsey is dead and buiried an I am alive an well. That's more than I can say for her late husband Leonard.

Book sales are better than expected. You can buy the book at or at Amazon

My new book, Wa-Ba-Skik-Ki, will hopefully be finished by Christmas and released early summer of 2008.

E-Mail me at with any questions or comments.

More to come...Rick