Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Stealing Home Through a Teammates Legs

This is just fantastic. From a high school game...

Aroldis song

Sung by and written by Danny Rockett...a new song abour our newest Cub.


By the way, just wanted to say that I'm sorry the posts have been so political lately. It's just been the biggest story in the news the past two weeks (because of the conventions), and it's nearly impossible to avoid.

Beginning next week, I'll return to Minitua-land.

Actually...I'll be in Minutia-land by Thursday. That's when our next episode drops. That's a politics-free zone.

Thoughtful Point of View

Sam Harris is not a liberal. He's anti-liberal. He's not a Hillary fan. He openly criticizes the same things about her her enemies do...in pretty strong terms. He's very strongly anti-Islamic Jihadist, thinks Obama has made a terrible mistake by not labeling terrorism as such, and believes political correctness is killing us. But he thinks its obvious that she is a better choice than Trump, and it's not even a close choice.

Trump video

From last night's convention...

Best Speech Last Night

She has a future in politics if she wants it. Absolute home run last night...

Is Russia Trying To Influence This American Election?

According to this Defense-related website, there's a very good chance that's exactly what's happening. Here's the opening paragraph to the article...

Close your eyes and imagine that a hacking group backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin broke into the email system of a major U.S. political party. The group stole thousands of sensitive messages and then published them through an obliging third party in a way that was strategically timed to influence the United States presidential election. Now open your eyes, because that’s what just happened

That's slightly terrifying, isn't it?

Donald Trump's business ties to Russia go way back. Trump's campaign manager has been an advisor for the Russian-friendly Ukraine dictator who was just overthrown. Trump is suddenly talking about getting out NATO, which would be a huge boon for Russia.

I'm not a conspiracy theory guy--just don't believe them nine times out of ten--so I'm sure there's something not quite right about this story. But the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong.

Also, just as a side note, the content of those DNC e-mails is pretty sickening, especially the one suggesting the use of Bernie's religion against him. (Ironically, it's the same religion as Debbie Wasserman Schultz's religion.)

I know that this is the kind of stuff that campaigns talk about--how to beat the other guy--and they did make the right choice by not going after his religion, but it still makes me a little sad to see they actually considered it.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Around the Publishing World (July 25)

At Chicago Author Solutions (a division of Eckhartz Press), we stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.

1. Ten Book Marketing Mistakes New Authors Make
Great advice here.

2. Screenwriting class by Aaron Sorkin
If you're on facebook or twitter you've probably already seen this, but if you aren't, this is the same organization that offered novel writing tips from James Patterson last year. Sorkin is one of the great screenwriters of our time.

3. Ten Tricks to get your book reviewed by a book blogger
Reviews are a tricky business, but if you really want one, here are some tips.

4. Ten Ways for authors to react to bad reviews
This is why reviews are a tricky business, but you have to thicken your skin regardless.

5. Reviews are a double-edged sword
This is advice from Publishers Weekly, who really has a bias against self-published authors, so keep that in mind when you read it.

6. Four Tips to Improve Your Writing Instantly
Start using your math. The tips are coming now, fast and furious.

7. Ten Tips for Young Writers
That brings us up to 14 tips.

8. 27 Tips that will help anyone become a better writer (even you!)
Now we're up to 41. Top that, anyone else who is compiling writing tips.

Q&A with Ann Wilson, Author of "In Small Boxes"

Ann R. Wilson

Ann Wilson is the author of "In Small Boxes" which is available for pre-order now at Eckhartz Press (the book ships in mid-August). Ann is having her book release party on August 10th from 7-9pm at Vintage Charm (729 W. Hillgrove Avenue in Lagrange).

We recently caught up with her to ask her a few questions. As you can tell below, Ann has lived a pretty interesting life...

What inspired you to write this book?

Ann: In my work, I spend a lot of time with adolescents, and I notice that many struggle with their identities, their confidence, and their ability to self-advocate. I empathize with them because I was incredibly shy as a young person, and I struggled with anxiety. And as girl, I linked my self-worth to my appearance.

In addition, as the world has become more of a global marketplace, families move more often; whether it is across the country or around the world, moving can be particularly difficult for children. I wrote this story because I thought my experiences might help others navigate similar challenges. Whether you are a parent trying to smooth the bumps for your children or a child trying to understand your parents’ struggles, this story reveals that problems that seem monumental in the moment are not only ‘survivable’ but ultimately give us the gift of resilience.

I know you are an avid reader. Who are some of your favorite authors, and how did their styles influence this work?

Ann: I love so many authors, but my favorites are probably Ann Patchet, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathon Franzen. It feels awkward to say that these authors influenced this work because I could only hope to be half as good as they are, but of course, everything I read influences how I write. I have always been drawn to characterization revealed through dialogue. When I think of memorable characters, I often think about Patchet’s Truth and Beauty, which sensitively tells the story of a college friendship, and Strout’s Olive Kitteridge and I am Lucy Barton, which both feature lovable, flawed characters. I love Franzen for his ability to nail all that is quirky in people, and for his subtly sarcastic tone. I enjoy books about relationships, the more flawed the better, and people who openly face their weaknesses. I think some of these elements are present in this memoir.

It's always tricky writing about your own family. How has your family responded to this?

Ann: It was tricky writing about my own family! It wasn’t easy. At first, the men in my family were skeptical, and the women encouraging. But now that the book is finished, my entire family has been very supportive and enthusiastic.

While this story ‘airs some of our dirty laundry,’ it is nothing new to anyone who already knows us. And the topics are more familiar to today’s readers than they were to my family in the 1970’s. Today, anxiety, depression, and divorce are better understood and less stigmatized, and I hope this story keeps those conversations going. Most important, this story focuses on my own shortcomings and my own rush to judgment of the adults around me when I was a self-centered, emotional, insecure teen. So yes, my family supports me in revealing how ridiculous I sometimes was, though they probably do not fully understand why I would want to share such information!

In addition, it is very clear that the weaknesses of all the people in this book are also their strongest assets. Isn’t that how it is for most people? A person with anxiety is also incredibly empathetic and nurturing; a person who is strong-willed is not only domineering, but also inspiring and fun. I know that my family enjoys reading and reliving some parts of this memoir, and other parts they would rather not relive. But this book was not written for us. It was written for people who might be experiencing similar struggles right now.

As someone who also was uprooted and moved overseas in my youth (in my case, Germany), I could really relate to "In Small Boxes". I was really upset about it at the time, but in retrospect, I realize there were also many positives. Now that you've had time to reflect, and write a book about the experience, what are the most positive elements of that move?

Ann: The most positive aspects are the connections I feel to Asian Americans now that I am back here in the United States. I can imagine what America must look like to them, based on my understanding of their native homes, and I love visiting Asian communities, whether it is China Town, or smaller communities like the Asian grocery store in Westmont that is patronized almost exclusively by the Asians living nearby me in the western suburbs. When I go places like that, I feel ‘at home’ in a new way, and I feel blessed that I can have those feelings within a different cultural environment.

Another positive is that as a person, I reject stereotypes, because through traveling, I have seen more people who defy stereotypes than those who fit them. But one of the biggest positives is how that experience strengthened our family and all of us as individuals: even though we hit rough waters, we came out of that time with our senses of humor intact and a willingness to redefine what ‘family’ meant to us. Not too long after my parents’ divorce, we were still doing things as a family – graduations, weddings, grandkids birthdays – we do all those things as a family, and even included my father’s new wife. We moved on from those difficult times, and I think that travel experience gave us the resilience to do that.

When was the last time you were in Hong Kong and do you stay in touch with the friends you made there?

Ann: I have never been back to Hong Kong. It’s pretty darn far! My dad went back several times for work, but I have never returned. Recently, my husband spent a couple years travelling to China for his job, and I could have figured out a way to tag along and visit Hong Kong with him, but in the end, we decided to use our vacation time and his miles to visit our son who was studying abroad in Europe and visit another international home – London – where my husband and I lived in the early 1990’s. I hope that someday I will go back.

I am still very close to our friends ‘Neil’ and ‘Sherry’ in my memoir, and we never tire of recalling our adventures from that time. I feel a very deep connection to them, unlike with any other couple I know, simply because of all we shared in Hong Kong.

An amazing thing happened about ten years ago. I was walking our dog across a park one morning and a woman called across to me from about a block away. It was a girl whom I had known at the international school – she was a classmate of mine but not someone whom I hung out with regularly. It blew my mind that not only was she living in Western Springs, but that twenty years later, she recognized me. It turned out we both have kids the same age. She has since moved away, but I look forward to seeing her again at our class reunion which I am attending for the first time this summer. It is being held in Chicago. What a small world.

Can you describe your feelings when Dave handed you your book and you held it in your hands for the very first time?

Ann: Just WOW! Butterflies and goose bumps all at once! It is so exciting, but I must admit, I am also a little nervous. I have been working on this project for a long time, and now it will finally be ‘real.’ The book is beautiful – just lovely. You guys have done such a great job helping me through this process.

You've probably heard that the lead singer of Heart ("Barracuda", "Magic Man", "Crazy on You") is also named Ann Wilson. Do you have a standard answer when people point that out?

Ann: That’s so funny that you ask that! People ask me that question a lot, and it stumps me because ‘Ann Wilson’ seems like the most common name in the world. There must be so many people with my name! I always just say something boring like, “No, I’m not that Ann Wilson.” Now I can say, “No, I am Ann Wilson, the author,” haha!!

Friday, July 22, 2016


Thanks "OG" for this one...

RIP Dennis Green

Sorry to hear about the passing of Dennis Green. The Bears remain forever who he thought they were.

Fact Checking Donald

I was watching my Twitter and Facebook feeds during the speech last night and the people who love Donald were very impressed by him because he was telling the truth to America. Um, according to the fact checkers at the Washington Post, there were about 24 not-so-truths.

But you know, liberal media.

I listened to the speech on the radio instead of watching it on TV. I thought it would be interesting to get a feel for the actual words without the images. He painted a pretty gloomy picture of our country. I locked the doors before the roaming and marauding immigrants killed me...although they probably would have been scared off by the ragey screaming man on the radio.

On the other hand, I did really enjoy Ivanka. She was very good. Her mother and nanny did a great job of raising her.

Colbert & Stewart React to Roger Ailes News

Cubs and Pokemon Go

It looks like my kids aren't the only ones playing this Pokemon Go. Even the Cubs players are doing it now. Then again, some of these players are the same age as my kids.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Carpool Karioke with Michelle Obama

This is awesome. How can people dislike this woman?

Minutia Men, Episode 12

Rick and Dave reveal their D-list celebrity speakers for the Rick and Dave political convention, and discuss mistaken phone numbers, married sex tweets, the most searched Cubs-related name, and Rick’s brush with Steven Tyler.

Listen to it here.

The Latest on Roger Ailes

He's not quite officially out the door yet, but that's because they are crossing the "t's" and dotting the "i's". The New York Times has the story about what sealed his fate. Turns out it wasn't just Megyn Kelly. There were six other women who came forward in their internal inquiry.

LATE UPDATE: (Headline in the New York Daily News) Roger Ailes reportedly kicked out of Fox News headquarters as the CEO will take $60M to leave the company amid sexual harassment allegations (He can just hand that money right over to Gretchen Carlson)

LATER UPDATE: It's official. He's a goner. Rupert will now run the show directly on an interim basis.

This day in Chicago history

Former Channel 7 reporter Paul Meincke posts these incredible "This day in Chicago history" segments on his facebook page. You should check them out. This is the one he posted today, and it's a story I have never heard before...

July 21 - This day in history - 1919: The hydrogen-filled dirigible Wingfoot Air Express takes off from Grant Park for a short trip to the White City Amusement Park. Chicago Daily News photographer Milton Norton asks if the dirigible can make a swing over the downtown area so he could take some pictures of Chicago's changing and already impressive skyline. Pilot Jack Boettner says OK and the Wingfoot starts a slow pass over the loop. Suddenly a small fire breaks out, and with hydrogen to feed on, it becomes an immediate inferno. Boettner and his chief mechanic Harry Wacker have parachutes and jump to safety. A second mechanic, Henry Weaver, died when his parachute caught fire. Passenger Earl Davenport, a publicity agent for the White City amusement park jumped, but his parachute got caught in the rigging and he did not survive. With its superstructure engulfed in flames the Wingfoot crashes through a huge skylight at the Illinois Trust and Savings bank at LaSalle and Jackson. The flaming debris falls on top of dozens of bank employees who are finishing their work day. Ten of them are killed in what was - at the time - the worst dirigible disaster in U-S history. Photographer Milton Norton broke both legs when he jumped. He later died in the hospital but not before continually asking if his photography had survived the crash. It did not. The Wingfoot tragedy would begin one of the most remarkable weeks in Chicago history - a week that included fierce racial tension that led to riots, a crippling transit strike, the murder of a young girl that stunned the city. The incredible week (actually 12 days) is documented in Gary Krist's compelling book "City of Scoundrels".

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Premier League Crackdown

I've become a big fan of Barclay's Premier League (soccer), so I follow the news closely. This is the latest...the league is instructing referees to crack down on bad language...
The most forceful new directive is for referees to give red cards to players who use “offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” towards them. According to the BBC, no player has been given a red card in at least the last five seasons for using offensive or insulting language towards a referee.

That's fine, I suppose, but in a league known for its many international players, wouldn't you say that gives an unfair disadvantage to the English-speaking players? I learned all the worst words in about a dozen languages during my soccer career. I always get a smile from Polish workers when I lay a little vocabulary on them.

The final word always comes from the late night comics

Trump's African-American Supporter

How did that speech get plagiarized?

I have a theory, and that theory is that Melania or one of the other Trumps, added the plagiarized portion.

The speechwriter didn't do it, and he has proof. He has the copy of the speech he delivered to her, and it doesn't include any of those words from Michelle's speech.

It would explain a lot, wouldn't it? If it was a lowly staffer, they would have just been fired. You can't fire his wife...or his kids.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think this is a huge deal. It wasn't Donald's speech--it was just his wife's. But doesn't this show you a little something about the way he is going to handle a crisis moment? His response was just to deny that it even happened. It may not be a big deal, but it did happen. And it is obvious.

UPDATE: This New York Times report comes to a very similar conclusion to mine, except they did actual research and reporting. :)

Trump speechwriter falls on her sword. She offered her resignation, and Trump refused it. I'm calling bullshit on this explanation. No way Trump doesn't accept resignation if she is really guilty.

How Does Fox News Report Roger Ailes Story?

He will be gone any day now.

By the way, O'Reilly, Hannity, and Greta all have clauses in their contract that they can leave Fox News if Ailes leaves. They won't, of course. Where would they go?

RIP Garry Marshall

Sad to hear the news that Garry Marshall passed away yesterday at the age of 81. He was a great director, writer, and producer, but he also wasn't so bad at acting. This scene is one of my all-time favorite movie scenes...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stick A Fork In Him

When the Roger Ailes sexual harrassment charges became public, a bunch of Fox News employees (mostly guys) stuck up for Ailes and said the charges were untrue. One name conspiculously absent from his list of defenders was the biggest female star on the network...Megyn Kelly. Why didn't she defend him? Turns out, he also sexually harrassed her.

That's it. It's all over for Ailes.

They may have to wait until after the convention, but Fox News has no choice but to fire him now.

Another Great Day at Wrigley

Went to the ballgame with son #3 yesterday and we had a great time. It was a picture perfect beautiful summer night and the Cubs won. We got there almost two hours before game time, and Sean got an autograph from Mets infielder Wilmer Flores. We were there so early we got the discount on food and drinks.

We also met a nice couple from New York sitting behind us. Wrigley Field was on their bucket list, and they flew in just for the game. Sean was chatting with them all night, exchanging mini-taunts and jokes. When he went to the bathroom the woman said to me: "I just have to tell you--he has one of the most wonderful and engaging personalities I've ever encountered. You did a great job of raising him."

That's one of the nicest things someone has said to me...even though I can't really take credit for the kid's personality. He came out of the womb that way.

Taylor Swift's Deposition Will Be Videotaped

From this morning's NOW newsletter...

Taylor Swift doesn’t like it, but her deposition in the Denver “groping” case will be videotaped. And former KYGO/98.5 morning host David Mueller has the right to be in the room during that deposition, says The Hollywood Reporter. That meeting may be tense. But Mueller says his life was turned upside down after Swift’s 2013 allegation that he groped her bottom during a backstage meet-and-greet photo-shoot at the Pepsi Center. Her people complained to then-owner Lincoln Financial Media, and Mueller was canned from his $150,000-a-year job. He sued the superstar for slander (September 14, 2015 NOW), and she responded by claiming sexual assault and battery. Imagine the stakes, with a country jock trying to regain his reputation and salary, against the world’s top-earning celebrity ($170 million last year, per Forbes).

John Lennon Stories

Record Producer Jack Douglas worked with Lennon on several of his solo albums, and he talked to Gothamist about the experience.

I never heard any of these stories. Great stuff. Here's my favorite one...

I remember after the Rock and Roll album, he came back to New York and we were sitting there and he wanted to play me all the stuff. So he played and he then said he was going up to Morris Levy's house.

Levy was a gangster. [He ran] music companies, record companies and labels including Roulette Records. He’d been invited to Levy's house because Morris had published all those great old songs. He even had his name down as a writer, although this was a guy who was a bouncer. He was a mobster, a famous one. To John, Morris Levy was like a god, not a gangster. Because his name was on so many of these great records from the early 50's and 60's. I said to him, "John, whatever you do, don’t leave him a tape. If you’re going to play him the songs, be sure to take the tape with you."

So I see him a few days later and I ask, how’d it go at Morris’s? And he says, “You know, we went up there, up to the farm, and he didn’t have time to listen so I had to leave it for him.” And I said, “7 ½? The whole album?” And a week later that thing was for sale, on television, Adam VIII, Morris’s son’s label.

They sold a million units on television before they got a judge, before they got them to cease and desist.

New PD in Chicago

I mean PD in the radio abbreviation sense of the word. A new Program Director has been named for iHeartmedia's six Chicago radio stations. From this morning's RAMP newsletter...

iHeartMedia yesterday introduced Ashley "AC" Trybula as Digital Program Director for the company's Chicago Region, effective immediately. Trybula will work closely with the programming and sales teams for Top 40 WKSC (103.5 Kiss FM), Country WEBG (Big 95.5), Hot AC WLIT (93.9 MYfm), Urban WGCI, Urban AC WVAZ (V103) and WGRB-AM (Inspiration 1390). "I'm elated Ashley will be joining the iHeartMedia Chicago Region," said Matt Scarano, Region President. "She brings a wealth of leadership and creativity to our team and digital brands."

Art of the Deal Ghostwriter Tells All

So, it's probably true that Melania didn't write her plagiarized speech. After all, Donald didn't write his books. The scary thing is, he really seems to believe that he did. He didn't write one word of "The Art of the Deal"--not one word.

His ghostwriter Tony Schwartz spoke to the New Yorker and said the following in an interview...

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

Melania Trump Speech Plagiarizes Michelle Obama

There is no question this section of the speech is plagiarized. It's not similar. It's practically word for word. The New York Times broke it down this morning.

Ms. Trump, Monday night:

“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect. They taught and showed me values and morals in their daily lives. That is a lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Mrs. Obama, in her 2008 speech:

“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Ms. Trump:

“I was born in Slovenia, a small, beautiful and then-Communist country in Central Europe. My sister, Ines, who is an incredible woman and a friend, and I were raised by my wonderful parents. My elegant and hard-working mother, Amalija, introduced me to fashion and beauty. My father, Viktor, instilled in me a passion for business and travel. Their integrity, compassion and intelligence reflects to this day on me and for my love of family and America.”

Mrs. Obama, in 2008:

“And I come here as a daughter — raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue-collar city worker and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.”

The Trump campaign spent all night trying to figure out how to respond (they were quiet as the networks discussed the plagiarism), and this morning they responded as only the Trump campaign could.

They denied it. Just flat out denied it.

And this is the campaign that literally spent five hours yesterday calling Hillary a liar over and over and over and over again.

Monday, July 18, 2016

GOP Bingo

For those of you watching at home, Stephen Colbert has created a GOP Bingo card. Good luck!

Who is this kid?

Believe it or not, it's my son Johnny. He's up in Wisconsin this summer working at a Boy Scout camp, and apparently he didn't bring a razor with him. Looks a little bit like a casting call for Duck Dynasty. I think the third picture isn't completely recent.

RIP Leslie Witt

Sad news in the WXRT family. Long-time WXRT air personality Leslie Witt has passed away.

Her friends and colleagues pay tribute on the WXRT website.

McCartney at Fenway

Fenway Park would have been a great place to see Paul. (I saw him at Wrigley...still my favorite concert ever)

However, it would have been ruined by this moment...

Hip Hop on Trump/Clinton

The website fivethirtyeight has compiled some of the lyrics hip hop artists have written about Hillary and Donald.

Check it out here.

I don't think I need to tell you that it's probably NSFW.

Chachi is Speaking Tonight

I won't be able to watch the Republican convention tonight because I'm going to the Cubs game, so it looks like I'll be missing the speech from political heavyweight Scott Baio. Doggone it.

I'm impressed by his pedigree, but I would have been more impressed if Trump was able to score Scott's cousin Jimmy Baio. Remember Jimmy from the show Soap? I'm sure you remember his appearances on Matlock, Trapper John M.D., Matt Houston, Too Close for Comfort, Family Feud, and his starring role in one of those Bad New Bears sequels.

Now, that, would have been a get.

Ailes Beefs Up His Legal Team

How seriously is Roger Ailes taking this latest sexual harrassment lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlsen?

His legal team now includes...
*the general counsel of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
*the former campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential run

LATE UPDATE: New York Magazine is reporting that the Murdochs have decided to get rid of Ailes--they only question is when they will do it. If true, that's an earthquake in the conservative media world.

What media do you use?

From Tom Taylor's NOW column this morning...

AM/FM radio hangs on as the second-most used media platform for adults. But watch out for the smartphone. Nielsen’s updated “Comparable Metrics Report” shows TV at 47% of “Average audience composition,” with the broadest-possible 18+ demo. Nielsen translates that figure this way – “TV accounts for 47% of the total average audience.” Radio’s next at 17%, and in fact it’s a highly consistent 17% with persons 18-34, 35-49 and 50+. But smartphones are already claiming 23% of the audience comp for 18-34s. So radio is #3 with them. (TV is way down with that demo, at 32%.) Even with persons 35-49, radio now trails smartphones, 19% to 17%.

Radio and TV are hanging in there, but barely. Remember that radio and television can be delivered via smart phone and tablet, however. And clearly that's where their effort should lie.

The Secret Kanye/Taylor Conversation

I know the kids are talking about this, so I thought I would post a link to the conversation.

Kanye's wife Kim Kardashian posted this conversation to Snapchat to prove that Kanye asked Taylor Swift in advance if he could call her a bitch in an upcoming song. While the conversation does seem to be friendly and courteous, he never does ask her that.

I'm on Taylor's side here.