Friday, May 22, 2015

Things You Never Said Before You Had Boys

This was posted on my facebook page by "ND"...

I have to say, I feel a lot better about my kids after reading that. Although numbers 5, 6, & 7 universally apply to all boys.

This posting led to a very funny addendum from my friend "AM", the mother of two boys..."Stop shooting your brother with your finger gun. Why is the dog sticky? Why is there a hot dog in my purse? No we don't have room in the backyard to bring a bison home from the zoo."

Andrew McCutcheon's Pay Stub

The website Deadspin got a copy of Andrew McCutcheon's pay stub and published it. Thankfully they blacked out his personal information, but it still seems like a bit of a personal violation to publish that.

I know the intent is to outrage people when they see a pay stub of over $400,000 for a two-week pay period, but keep this in mind: The owner who is paying that is making enough money to pay McCutcheon...while also paying every other person working for the Pirates.

What does the owner's pay stub say?

And the Pirates are one of the lower grossing teams. What does the pay stub of the Yankees owner say?

Letterman's Final Ratings

It was his fourth most-watched show ever.

But I'm sure he won't be thrilled to discover that Jay Leno's farewell still had more viewers.

As the Sumner Turns

About twelve years ago, while I was still working for him at CBS, I read Sumner Redstone's autobiography. It was published by Simon & Schuster, which was also owned by Sumner, and it clearly wasn't edited in any meaningful way. My guess is that the people working for him were afraid to tell him that he came off as one of the most unlikable human beings on the planet. He aired sixty year old grudges, ripped his underlings (and his family), threatened to destroy people for the most inane slights, bragged about his wealth, and displayed a truly disgusting and unquenchable greed. There were literally times my mouth dropped open while I was reading. He was like a Charles Dickens character--blackhearted and evil, with no redeeming qualities of any kind. And this is how he was describing himself! It was an autobiography!

That book was one of my inspirations for writing the novel "$everance".

Ever since then I've followed his life closely; his feuds with his kids, his squiring of young girlfriends, his attempts at buying a place in heaven with late-in-life charitable contributions, and his total inability to give up control of the only that matters to him, his media conglomerate.

Today's episode of his soap opera life involves the inescapable march toward his final days, and how much the angry ol' coot is fighting a fate that you just know he thinks is beneath someone of his stature--death. From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

At 92, Sumner Redstone is “alert and cognizant” but “has a bad speech impediment.” That makes the CBS patriarch “angry and frustrated when he can’t be understood,” says his personal attorney Leah Bishop. She says the speech problem “has gotten worse” in the last year or so, but she says “it’s very clear to me that he understands everything that we are talking about” – and specifically what happens after he’s no longer on the scene. Bishop says “careful planning has been done so that estate taxes will not require a forced sale of the assets.” Through National Amusements, Sumner wields voting control over both CBS and Viacom, and you’ve already read here that his control passes to a seven-member trust. His daughter Shari’s on the board of the trust and so is Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, a longtime trusted executive to Sumner. But CBS CEO Les Moonves isn’t on the board, and Sumner’s unusual absence from yesterday’s CBS annual shareholders meeting makes the speculation even more urgent. The Los Angeles Times indicates the melodrama waiting to unfold. Plus there's Redstone’s girlfriend situation – A Vanity Fair feature introduces us to former Sumner Redstone girlfriend Manuela Herzer and current companion Sydney Holland, who was once in the matchmaking business. The LA Times says “several people close to the situation allege that Holland has used her influence to isolate Redstone from people who once played significant roles in his life,” including his daughter Shari, his grandchildren (one of whom is on the board of the National Amusements trust), friends, doctor and a longtime assistant.

If you find yourself feeling sympathy for him, congratulations on being a good human being. Granted, he thinks people like you are suckers, but I commend you for your humanity.

But just know this; this drama can't possibly have a happy ending. If there is anything true about karma, it can't end well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Truffle Hunting in Rhode Island

Eckhartz Press author Brent Petersen will be in Rhode Island next week promoting his novel "Truffle Hunt". If you're in the Providence area on June 1st at 5pm, swing by the Newport Athletic Club at 66 Valley Road, in Middletown, RI. He'll also be at the Clark Memorial Library in Carolina, RI on June 2nd at 7pm.

Brent will be happily autograph a copy of "Truffle Hunt" for you. All you have to do is show up...and buy it, of course.

How Many Republicans Candidates for President are There?

So many that they can't all debate on one stage at one time. CNN has decided to divide them up into two groups...the top 10 candidates, and the others who meet the old requirement of at least 1% in the polls.

They should call that second debate: "The kids table"

Dave says goodbye

I stayed up and watched the whole show. It was a nice farewell...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How to Make an Entrance

Bill Murray on Letterman's second to last show last night...

Changes at WGCI

From All Access...

ALL ACCESS has confirmed that iHEARTMEDIA Urban WGCI (107.5)/CHICAGO has made changes to its lineup. Midday personality LONI SWAIN and PM driver UB RODRIGUEZ have both exited. Now for the rest of the story, as 'GCI has raided crosstown rival CRAWFORD BROADCASTING Urban WPWX (POWER 92) to replace SWAIN and RODRIGUEZ. FRANKIE ROBINSON moves to 'GCI for middays and TONE KAPONE will slide over for afternoons.

Hollywood Squares

Used to love this show...

Silent Movie

I don't understand why this isn't considered a classic like the other Mel Brooks films. The boys and I watched it again last night and couldn't stop laughing...

A Note From Epstein's Mother

Half of Chicago could use one of these today...

Shaw's Tribute to Soccer

I learned something new last night during the Blackhawks game. A good header is not only not appreciated, it's against the rules. As a soccer fan, I enjoyed the moment...

No Relation, But Still...

If you're traveling through the Northernmost state in Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, and you happen to swing by its capital city of Kiel, say hello to the Mayor for me please.

His name is Lord Mayor Dr. Ulf Kaempfer.

Not related as far as I know (we probably wouldn't go with "Ulf"), but he's clearly smart and distinguished, so I can't be completely certain.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Unluckiest Man in History

Rolling Stone Rips Bill O'Reilly

Really strong piece in Rolling Stone Magazine calling Bill O'Reilly a pathological liar. Here's an excerpt of the piece (after giving several examples of O'Reilly's lies and false bravado)...

O'Reilly isn't a newsman, he's a blue-eyed cirrhotic cyst erupting acid onto the brass rail at the Now I'll Tell You What the REAL Problem Is Pub. He's the guy who sits next to you and brags about how he'd kick the hell out of any thugs daring to bring violence into his neighborhood, stumbles off his barstool, goes outside, reflexively crosses the street to avoid two black kids on the sidewalk two blocks up, then drives home drunk. He's the guy who picks a fight with you if you correct him, then refuses to throw down because he "was Gold Gloves in college and doesn't want to end you, man," then backs away toward his driveway while trying to make eye contact with anyone he thinks is a friend and saying, "I feel sorry for him! I have a pool in my backyard."

Pretty strong stuff. There are a couple of small issues with this article, however, and this is not coming from an O'Reilly supporter by any means.

First issue--Rolling Stone really shouldn't be calling anyone a pathological liar at this point in time, after that fraternity rape story had to be completely retracted.

Second issue--the writer of the article is supposedly lashing out because O'Reilly was so tough on Brian Williams for embellishing his stories too. (The whole "pot calling the kettle black" syndrome). The problem with that premise is that O'Reilly actually wasn't tough on Brian Williams at all. In fact, he showed sympathy, and went decidely easy on him.

If you don't have credibility, and your premise is flawed, even if you are completely correct about the man you're ripping, nobody will take it seriously.

POTUS on Twitter

President Obama is on Twitter! It's his own personal account, and he is doing the tweeting.

In one day he garnered nearly 2 million followers (including me). He's only following 65 others, including every Chicago sports team except the Cubs.

Here's his account.

Producing is Producing

Loved this piece in Grantland by former Letterman producer Daniel Kellison. He really nails what it's like to be a producer. The stories are very similar to some of the stories Swany and I wrote about in The Radio Producer's Handbook. It's the same type of gig, no matter what show you produce. Great read even for non-producers--lots of fun celebrity stories.

Should the Cubs welcome Sammy back?

Former Cubs teammate and current broadcaster Doug Glanville thinks he should.

He lays out his reasons why in this Tribune article.

I tend to agree with him. I don't approve of Sammy's (alleged) use of PED's, or the way he left the team back in 2004, but we can't pretend that he wasn't the reason we went to the ballpark for a few years there. The Cubs owe him at least a little something for that.

He has paid a price. He will never be in the Hall of Fame, despite Hall of Fame numbers. He will never have his number retired by the Cubs, despite setting so many Cubs records. For me, forgiving him doesn't seem like an outrageous gesture.

Monday, May 18, 2015


The headline says it all: Phillies Fan Rips Home Run Ball Away From Old Lady

Watch the video here.

For the record, she doesn't look that old to me. I'm reassessing my definition of old on a daily basis.

I'd Like To Buy the World a Coke

The final episode of Mad Men last night ended with this real ad from 1971. The real story behind the real commercial is told today by the New York Daily News.

Louis CK

Louis is my favorite comedian, but he is getting a lot of heat for a child molesting bit he did this past weekend on Saturday Night Live. Was it over the edge? For broadcast TV, I'd have to say yes. I do admire Louis' ability to joke about subjects that would appear to be off-limits, but you could feel the audience wasn't following him off this cliff...

Some Love for "Truffle Hunt"

The reviews have been coming in for our latest book "Truffle Hunt", and they have been overwhelmingly positive. This one is from Amazon...

Yes - I loved it. What a **fun** read. I found it to be a 'page-turner' and stayed up into the wee hours to finish in two sittings. "Truffle Hunt" is way more that a 'foodie' book, which some may have assumed.

For the history buff, there is a compelling and complex story of the troubled Istria region with all of the wars, ethnic cleansing, purges and resulting current simmering resentments that would naturally remain.

For the culture buff, there are the story threads of family traditions and love of the land that create such a vibrant sense of place.

For the foodies, yes, there is abundant detail about what makes food truly 'great', and how the creation and sharing of magnificent food is as much the salvation of a people as having their land and an ability to make a living.
Then, of course, there is the unique story of the truffle itself and the astounding subculture of the harvesting and the marketing of such a treasure.

Buy this book and be ready to Enjoy!!

Classic Rock Rules

From Tom Taylor's NOW column--you'll never guess what radio format is tearing it up these days...

Reading the tea leaves from its April-book PPM markets, Nielsen says “for the third straight month, the classic rock format went out and set new records for audience share among all three of the major audience groups we examine.” That’s age 6+, 18-34 and 25-54. With the broad 6+ demo, classic rock is up from 4.7% in last year’s April book to 5.3% this year. The bump’s even more dramatic with persons 18-34, up from 3.9% to 4.8%. And from 5.1% to 6.0% for 25-54s. In the April PPMs, the Hot AC format is also setting records with 6+ and 25-54 audiences, and up from 7.1% to 7.5% with 18-34s. While the format Nielsen calls “Pop CHR” advances with 18-34 listeners from 12.1% to 12.8% and from 9.0% to 9.4% with 25-54s.

Dylan Gardner at Schuba's

Had fun last night at the Dylan Gardner show at Schubas withJohn, Nika & Amy Landecker, the whole Gardner clan, and the Knutsen's. Great show by Dylan.

That's Amy Landecker with Dylan right after his set...

Friday, May 15, 2015

RIP B.B. King

He was 89 years old. The King of the Blues and his guitar Lucille will be missed.

King was 45 when he had his first song on the pop charts in 1970. This is it...

Important Benefit

Two of my childhood friends, Mark Gelinas and Noreen Heyde, are battling cancer and their bills have been mounting. Tomorrow night we're holding a benefit to raise money for them to help them pay their medical bills. There will be an auction (I donated a few things, including copies of all my books), and we're charging $20 to get in. All of that money will go to Mark and Noreen. Thanks in advance for your help...

Instant Articles on Facebook

A few major news organizations (including NBC and the New York Times) have reached an agreement to work with Facebook on something called "instant articles". Articles from news sources will now load instantly on Facebook--which will decrease the loading time tenfold.

It will also, of course, keep people on Facebook, and off the sites of the major news publishers. Have they really decided to give up, or am I missing something here?

Eddie & Pete

The photo is Eddie & Pete singing "Behind Blue Eyes" last night at the Rosemont Theater. Great show. A couple of fun surprises...appearances by Joe Walsh, Rick Nielson, Joan Jett, Simon Townshend, Zac Starkey, and Roger Daltrey. Joe Walsh was on fire. He sang "The Kids are Alright". Joan sang "Summertime Blues" and "Can't Explain". Eddie nailed "Red, Blue & Gray" and sang a cover of "Sooner or Later" by the English Beat (along with Pete). But the highlight had to be the grand finale--all of them out there jamming to "Won't Get Fooled Again". Loved it. Thanks Doug Bensing for thinking of me and getting me a ticket.

Harry Shearer Leaving Simpsons?

This sounds like a negotiating ploy from the producers, but if it's not, they really should shut down shop. No Harry Shearer. No Simpsons. From this morning's RAMP Newsletter..

Longtime fans of The Simpsons were more than a little upset to hear that one of the show's most famous voices, Harry Shearer, is reportedly leaving the show after 26 seasons. Shearer beautifully breathes life into the personas of Montgomery Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner. On Wednesday night he announced his departure from the show, tweeting, "This because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work." As Variety reported, Simpsons Executive Producers Matt Groening, Al Jean and James L. Brooks released a statement that read, "Harry Shearer was offered the same deal the rest of the cast accepted, and passed. The show will go on and we wish him well. Maggie took it hard." Al Jean also said Shearer's iconic characters would be recast, saying, "Burns and Flanders will not die. They are great characters and will continue." After all this very public back-and-forth... why do we have a weird feeling that this issue is not really over? Fellow fans of Harry -- stay tuned! The Season 26 finale of The Simpsons airs Sunday night on Fox.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chicken Dance Day

Today is officially "Chicken Dance Day".

I don't like to brag, but I so rarely have the credentials to claim expertise on a subject, I can't help myself today. You see, I was once a professional Chicken-dancer. This is a photo of me on stage with Landecker & the Legends leading the crowd in the Chicken Dance--which I did with the band for seven years. I once led a crowd of more than 30,000 people at Lambs Farm. My mother is very proud. She bought me the lederhosen.

Kris & Anthony, Pete & Eddie

I'm taking a Rick day today.Going to the Cubs game this afternoon, and then Pete Townshend and Eddie Vedder tonight. Hopefully the kids will figure out how to get into the house when they get home from school. If not, there's yardwork to be done.

Comedy Writing & Radio

Ken Levine is one of the greatest sitcom writers of all time. He wrote for every great sitcom you can name (which means none in the last ten years or so), including M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frazier, etc.

He also writes a great a blog that I read as often as I can. Today he analyzes a great radio talent.

This blog post is about Howard Stern.

First McDonalds

30 years ago today McDonald's turned the very first McDonald's into the world's very first fast-food museum. It's in Des Plaines, Illinois--about fifteen minutes from my house. I still drive by there all the time...

One Last Smooch

I strongly suspect Dave will never get a chance to do this to Julia Roberts again...

Another Reason Jon Stewart Will Be Missed

Another Fox News takedown last night. A really good one, with lots of video evidence.

This one is about Fox News' portrayal of poor people (leeches, sponges, and lazy), and their sactimonious denial of ever saying any such thing.