Friday, October 09, 2015

Colbert Picks the Cubs

Kimmel to appear on Colbert as guest

Variety has the details.

I think it's funny that Colbert tweeted this info with the proviso..."unless this is an elaborate prank"...because I was thinking the same thing when I heard the news.

Trib Tower is for sale

This is an amazing development. To me this is different than when John Hancock moved out of their building or Sears did likewise to the Sears Tower. This building is 90 years old.

Full details are here.

The Tribune Tower (photo) opened to rave reviews in 1925. The statue of Nathan Hale still greets people, as do the carved images of Robin Hood (representing the architect Hood) and a howling dog (representing the architect Howells) above the entrance. Also, parts of important historical sites (brought back to Chicago by Tribune correspondents) still grace the base of the structure, including stones from such sites as the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, and the Palace of Westminster, petrified wood from the Redwood National and State Parks, and pieces from the Great Pyramid, The Alamo, Notre-Dame, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and most recently, the World Trade Center in New York.

Happy birthday John

He would have been 75 years old today. This is the song of his that speaks to me the most these days...

Tickets for Monday's Game

So, I found out yesterday that I have two tickets to Monday's Game 3, Cubs vs. Cardinals.

I knew everyone in my family would want to go, which left me with a dilemma. Who should get the other ticket?

Oldest son Tommy backed out because he's not a baseball fan, which left it up to Bridget, middle son Johnny, and youngest son Sean. When Johnny heard he was up against Sean he said, "He's a way bigger fan than me. It wouldn't be fair if I went," so he backed out too.

So that left it up to Bridget and Sean. I could tell that Bridget really wanted to go, so I offered the ticket to her. But when I offered she said, "You should really take Sean. He's the one that deserves it. He's the one that loves the Cubs the most." And because Bridget is such a wonderful person I told her that she should break the news to him. It was like he won the lottery. He said..."Dad, I don't have school on Monday. Let's get there right when the doors open."

I think the right choice was made.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The nominees for this year have been announced, and you can vote for up to five.

I voted for...the Cars, Chicago, Cheap Trick, Steve Miller, and Yes.

Gun Laws

I've written this before, and I'll write it again: I have no problem with guns. I agree the second amendment gives you the right to own one. The fact that I don't own one is not a political statement. It's a statement about my own ineptitude--if I could find a way to accidentally shoot myself, I probably would. (And that goes double for my boys)

I just honestly don't understand the arguments against rational gun control when it doesn't infringe on that right (like background checks or banning of certain extra lethal bullets or assault weapons). The arguments usually amount to this: the government is coming to take away all the guns (all 300 million of them--a crazy argument), or no gun law can prevent all deaths--focus on other problems like mental illness or violent video games and/or fatherless children, or gun laws will not work because "Look at Chicago--guns are illegal there and how many people are killed?"

As a Chicagoan, of course, I know that while guns are illegal in Chicago, they are legal in literally every single bordering town. If you can drive or take a bus or a train, you can get a legal gun without breaking a sweat. So, I never take that argument seriously. It's ridiculous. And The Washington Post editorial today crystalizes the strongest point I keep making, and one that is never answered rationally...

Up to a point they are right, of course; the government will never prevent all violence. But it’s also perfectly obvious that the government could take steps that would reduce the incidence of mass shootings, suicides, domestic homicides, children shooting children and other gun violence. Bad people exist in other countries; mentally ill people exist in other countries; young, disturbed men play violent video games in other countries. Some of them even grow up without fathers. But countries that do not allow so many guns to circulate so freely lose many, many fewer of their citizens to gun crimes or accidents. Republican candidates are increasingly tying themselves in knots on this issue, because there’s no logical way to refute that one, clear truth.

Not even Frank Luntz has lined up a talking point for that one, although I'm sure he's working on it. Until he or the NRA come up with one, keep looking at the facial expressions of politicians trying to refute that point. It's the same expression I have on my face in arguments with my wife when I suddenly realize that I may have slightly overplayed my hand, or I might even be wrong, and I'm no longer on rational ground.

A perfect example is the look on Ben Carson's face while he's trying to argue that kindergarten teachers should all be armed.

Tom Petty book

After reading this piece in the Washington Post with the author of the new book about Tom Petty, I think I have to pick up a copy.

The book is written by a member of his former opening act, the Del Fuegos, and Petty specifically insisted that it be a "warts and all" book. So, we learn that Petty was a heroin addict. We learn that he has disgruntled former members of the Heartbreakers. We learn that he grew up in a truly dysfunctional family in Florida.

The article is a great teaser if you're a fan. I personally love the story the author tells about being there the day that George Harrison and Petty were hanging out.

Rick O'Dell to MeTV radio

About four months ago I wrote about Mark Zander's foray into programming the oldies on MeTV radio. Well, a few weeks ago, Zander was offered a slot on the Drive, which left that programming slot open once again.

Yesterday his replacement was named: Rick O'Dell. From the station's press release...

MeTV FM announces the hire of Chicago radio icon Rick O’Dell as Program Director. 87.7 MeTV FM features an exclusive format of classic pop music. O’Dell will focus on format development, brand management and work with the station team for creation of cross-platform content, ideas and initiatives. He’ll begin on Monday, October 12. “The timeless hits and memorable music of MeTV FM are the music I grew up with. I love these songs. And most of them were on the playlist of WCLR when I was with them back in the day,” said O’Dell. “I can’t wait to get started working with Neal and his incredible team.”

As Rick notes in his quote--he did get his start in Chicago on WCLR. Before that, he worked at my old station in Champaign-Urbana, WPGU. So, even though he is known mostly for Jazz, he does have experience in this format too.

Respect the Streak

All summer long my routine for night-time Cubs games (when I wasn't busy...which wasn't often) was to go out in my garage on my dad's old Lazy Boy, have a beverage (and sometimes) a cigar, and listen to the game on the radio while enjoying the quiet suburban night with my dog.

Of course I know that this routine had absolutely nothing to do with the Cubs' incredible season. I'm not a moron. However...when game time rolled around last night, I decided to respect the streak. Again, I know this had absolutely nothing to do with the win. However...

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

This Week in 1908

Think this year has been exciting? Check out what was happening this week in 1908...

1908 Cubs Giants final game

The Cubs and Giants end the season tied. A one game playoff between Cubs and Giants will decide the pennant: The replayed Merkle game (Oct 8) in New York at the Polo Grounds.

The doors open at 11:00, and tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis. There are five thousand waiting at the ticket windows when they open. The game is sold out by noon. Gates are closed at 12:45, and the fans are not happy about it.

10,000 fans tear down a fence to get into the ballpark. They are set back by police with firehoses. Henry Taft, minority owner of the Cubs, and brother of the future President, sneaks into the ballpark via a sewer (according to a Mordecai Brown biography released in 1910).

Christy Mathewson, the future hall of famer for the Giants, arrives at the park saying that his arm feels dead, but he'll pitch anyway. The umpires are each bribed $5000 to throw the game by someone on the Giants (reading between the lines, it was probably their catcher Bresnahan and the manager McGraw). The umps refuse, but report it to the league office (which does nothing about it).

Trading on Wall Street is sharply down because so many people are trying to see the game. In Chicago, Orchestra Hall is opened to the public, and a big scoreboard is on the stage. More than 2500 Cubs fans fill the Hall.

John McGraw 1908

Before the game, Giants manager McGraw (photo) sends Joe McGinnity over to taunt Frank Chance, and possibly start a fight that would get him thrown out of the game. It doesn't work. In return, Frank Chance assigns every Cubs player one Giants player to taunt and call names. They do it happily. The Giants and Cubs hate each other's guts.

The Cubs win the game 4-2. Mordecai Brown pitches 8 1/3 innings of relief. When the game is over, the Cubs have to run for their lives from the angry NY fans. Chance is attacked, his neck cartilage torn. Tinker, Sheckard and Howard are hit with flying debris. Jack Pfiester's shoulder is slashed. Evers gets away untouched. An Irish gang was hired to protect him (by his cousin). The next day they get death threats at their hotel—someone says their train back to Chicago will blow up.

It obviously doesn't. The Cubs gear up for the World Series against the Tigers.

Is Keith Olbermann Coming Back to MSNBC?

That's what this post at Mediaite hints.

A short excerpt...

In the meantime, a conversation may or may not soon commence between Keith Olbermann and MSNBC, depending on whom you believe. The topic? His possible return to the network.

He isn’t under contract. A huuuugggge campaign season with plenty of comedy to play with is already underway. There probably isn’t a moment on this rollercoaster ride that Olbermann wishes he isn’t attacking with a snarky remark from his old Countdown chair again.

He may have burned (OK, napalmed) the bridge during his sudden exit last time. There’s always a risk taking on the Terrell Owens of broadcasting.

But bridges can be repaired if the ends justify the means. In the end, Olbermann and MSNBC make sense, at least until the inauguration in 2017.

And if one discussion leads to another which leads to a contract, perhaps MSNBC primetime as a whole can get back to being truly competitive once again.

Don't Call Me

Just as an FYI...not taking calls tonight after 7pm Central Time.

Especially from White Sox fans.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

My people

Donovan vs. Klinsman

Sounds like Landon Donovan hasn't exactly forgiven Klinsman for being left off the national team...

“Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago” Available for Pre-Order Now!

We are tremendously excited to announce the pre-sale of our latest Eckhartz Press book, Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago by Pat Colander.

Pat was a writer for The Reader and The Chicago Tribune in the 1970s and 1980s, and covered some of the most offbeat stories during that time. Seven of those tales of love and death in Chicago are featured in this incredible book.

Featuring a beautiful cover photograph from Barry Butler and memorable illustrations from artist Dave Mosele, Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago is a gritty trip into Chicago’s past. Before the last page is devoured, the reader will track the Tylenol killer(s), get inside the mind of a tortured artist, meet the woman behind the women at Playboy Magazine, follow along with a shocking murder trial, spend time with a legendary Chicago attorney, and tour the old Cook County morgue.

Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago is shocking, gruesome, and gritty, and will remain in your heart and mind long after you finish reading the final page.

Don't believe us, listen to what some of these literary luminaries have to say...

“As Paul Simon bookended..."Time it was, and what a time it was....A time of innocence. A time of confidences." Chicago in the '70's was surreal, scary and freaking hilarious. My Second City kith and kin may have found brighter lights in N.Y. and L.A. -- but we were spawned and fermented at North and Wells. Good thing Pat Colander thought to take notes and chronicle everything."
-Tim Kazurinsky,
Actor, screenwriter, television and movie star, Saturday Night Live, Police Academy, Neighbors

“Pat Colander toiled with me in the belly of the Chicago journalism beast in the 1970s and 1980s. When major stories were reported, she asked questions. When the questions were poorly answered or evaded, she asked even more questions of even more people. Then in a clear, true voice, she wrote it all down. She found the real stories behind the stories and this collection of her work is just great. She ought to be long-listed for the Man Booker prize, If I can figure out how to do it I will."
-Denise DeClue
Writer of films including About Last Night, teleplays, documentaries, journalism, humor columns and a great deal of other funny stuff

"Reading Pat Colander’s wonderful collection, Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and Other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago, is like visiting your old neighborhood. Most of the old folks are gone, either dead or moved on, but there are a few old-timers left. And eventually you get around to talking about things like, “Hey, remember the poet who committed suicide?” Or, “Did they ever figure out how that guy killed his wife?” Or, “Do you think that guy actually poisoned all those people?” There are seven tales of Love and Death in Colander’s book, which is chock-full of details about specific Chicago crimes, deaths, and personalities, including the death of Hugh Hefner’s executive secretary, Bobbie Arnstein, who basically ran the business of Playboy. She weaves the stories of their demise through a definite Chicago lens, where gritty bits of key information flesh out the headlines. Much of this material originally appeared in The Reader, and this volume is an upgrade on an earlier 1985 publishing under the same title. This is a book you devour because it has all the courses of a good meal. It’s meaty and satisfying, like a visit to that old neighborhood."
--Vicki Quade
Playwright, Late Night Catechism

“Pat is a very talented writer. Unfortunately she cut back on her serious writing to run magazines. She was a girl-wonder when she worked at the Chicago Tribune in the late seventies. The veteran male reporters hated her because she could out-write and out produce them with one hand tied behind her back and her eyes closed. She did feature articles, reviews and celebrity interviews. Now she has put together a collection of her very best work from the 1970s and early 1980s. The stories age well."
-Bruce Elliott
Geriatric Genius blogger and author of Last Night at the Old Town Ale House.

Guns on Facebook

If you ever want to get really depressed, try to have a rational conversation about guns on facebook.

I made that mistake last night. A friend posted that it was radical to believe we need gun control. I pointed out that 300 million guns in a country of 330 million people seems even more radical to me. Within a few minutes I was called Hitler, Mao, a delusional troll, and Bill Ayers. (Not by my friend, but by his friends)

I want my Monday night back. I should have been watching football.


Wednesday's playoff game starts at 7:08 p.m., which in military time is 1908 — the year the Cubs last won a World Series.

Wednesday is 10/7. It's been 107 years since the Cubs won the World Series.

Not saying it means anything, but it is funny.

Monday, October 05, 2015


Dig this Nathaniel Rateliff tune. Thanks to WXRT for turning me on to it. It's like a cross between Johnny Cash and O Brother Where Art Thou.

What is the one thing that would make Trump drop out?

The only thing that will make Trump drop out, according to the Donald himself in an interview with Chuck Todd, is dropping in the polls.

Talk about intenstinal fortitude.

"Um, Mr. Trump, can I interupt your prep for your speech about everyone being a loser for a moment to fill you in on the latest poll numbers?"

"Just a second. What's better for describing Obama, 'gutless' or 'yellow'?"

"I'd go with gutless, sir. But just so you know, you're back to second place in the latest polls."

"I quit."

Hillary on SNL

I give her credit for this appearance. She allows some pretty tough shots against her...

Cubs Get Student out of Midterm

If you were a professor and you had a midterm scheduled for the same day as the Cubs wildcard game...and one of your students said they had tickets for the game in Pittsburgh, would you let the student go?

I would.

So did this professor at my alma mater.

GM of the Year

Congratulations to Tom Langmyer. The former WGN GM is now up in Milwaukee and was named General Manager of the Year at last week's NAB. Details are here at Radio Online.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Sometimes you just can't reason with a bear

She is doing her best to use rational arguments to convince the bear not to eat her kayak, and you'll never believe this, but the bear doesn't seem to care. I couldn't stop watching this for some reason...

Kathy Voltmer

My latest Illinois Entertainer column has been posted. This month I interviewed the Drive's morning news anchor Kathy Voltmer.

You can read it here.

Marconi Awards

The Marconi Awards are probably the most prestigious in all of radio. They are given out by the National Association of Broadcasters for excellence in broadcasting. Last night at the NAB convention, they awarded best rock station in America to Chicago's very own "The Drive" and major market personality of the year was given to WTMX's Eric and Kathy.

Congrats to both of them. Well deserved.

Another Senseless Gun Rampage

The president asked us to look up these stats in his angry response yesterday. I totally get why he's angry...

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Babe's Called Shot

October 1, 1932

The most famous moment in Wrigley Field history occurred on this date. Or did it?

It was Game 3 of the World Series. The Yankees had won the first two at Yankee Stadium. Soon-to-be President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (sitting next to Chicago mayor Anton Cermak) threw out the first pitch. In the stands; a young boy named John Paul Stevens, who would go on to become a Supreme Court Justice.

The 1932 Yankees were a riled up team who hated the Cubs for dissing one of their former teammates. Mark Koenig had replaced Cubs shortstop Billy Jurges during the season after Jurges was shot by a fan. Despite hitting .353 during the season and saving the hides of the Cubs, the players voted not to give him a full World Series share. This really angered the Yankees, especially their emotional leader Babe Ruth.

He was ticked off and let the Cubs know it in no uncertain terms.

Did Babe Ruth really call the shot? Almost certainly not. The writers said he did, and he played along with it, but he also privately acknowledged that he never would have done that to Charlie Root who was known as a ruthless headhunter. Charlie swore to his dying day that Babe did not call the shot.

According to the Cubs players, Ruth was being taunted by the Cubs dugout (who should have had their heads examined after they already ticked off the Babe). Ruth was more than likely pointing at the dugout, gesturing that he still had one strike left. That may have looked to the writers like he was calling his shot. Plus, the writers said he pointing to left–but he hit nearly all of his homers to right, and the actual homer went to deep centerfield…an unusual location for a homer by the Babe. The called shot is probably nothing more than a legend.

Nevertheless, part of the legend is true. He did homer. And Gehrig homered right after that. And they both homered again later in the game.

The 1932 World Series was a 4-game pummeling. But as famous as that supposed “called shot” was, Babe Ruth was not even the player of the series. Lou Gehrig hit .529, and would have been named the MVP if they had such an honor in those days.

Wrigley Rooftops Lawsuit Dismissed

Instead of continuing with the needless debates about the rooftops, a judge read the actual clause pertaining to the rooftop views...

"The Cubs shall not erect windscreens or other barriers to obstruct the views of the Rooftops, provided however that temporary items such as banners, flags, and decorations for special occasions, shall not be considered as having been erected to obstruct views of the Rooftops. Any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities shall not be a violation of this Agreement, including this section."

...and ruled the obvious. The authorities approved the video boards. It is clearly part of a Wrigley expansion. Case dismissed. Go try to steal someone else's product and charge for it.

Crains has the full story, if you are interested.

Dickey Demise

Robert Feder examines the demise of Cumulus' Dickey brothers in his column today, and I think this paragraph sums it up beautifully...

Not one of the many radio executives I spoke to here lamented the demise of the Dickeys. Most said their overthrow was long overdue. Based on the misguided management, programming and personnel moves they made in practically every major market they ran, it’s easy to understand the air of schadenfraude. In short, these guys weren’t just bad for their company. They were bad for radio.

Yes, yes, yes. Amen.

Maywood & Balmoral Are Closing Down

From NPR's Morning Edition...

Illinois' racing board is taking a gamble in an attempt to save the beleaguered industry. Two historic Illinois tracks will hold no races next year, a decision that could lead to their permanent closure. The decision by Illinois' 11-member racing board was unanimous: no horses will run at Balmoral and Maywood parks in 2016.

That's a bummer. Not quite sure I understand how closing tracks will save the industry, but okey doke. It's obviously been awhile since I was there. Around 20 years or so...

First Nude First Lady?

Considering all the press that Donald Trump has gotten, it's a little odd that his wife has not received very much press at all. That's probably be because she's never at his events, and Donald has kept her out of the public eye since he announced.

This Washington Post piece takes a closer look at Melania. I learned a few things about her that I didn't know. She's she would be the first foreign-born First Lady in more than 200 years. She and Donald have a 9-year-old son. (And I thought I was an old dad). And, when she was a super model, she posed nude for a magazine.

Don't need to do a ton of research to figure out if she would be the first First Lady to do that.