Saturday, May 12, 2012

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Alison Moran

This week's Chicago Radio Spotlight interview has been posted. I interviewed the women's sports director at SRN Broadcasting, Alison Moran.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, May 12

On this day in 1955, Cubs pitcher Sam Jones pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But it was far from being a typical no-no. For one thing, Jones walked seven men. Future Cub Dale Long coaxed three of those walks.

Three more of those walks came in the ninth inning. The bases were loaded with no outs in the top of the ninth, and even though the Cubs had a 4-0 lead and a no-hitter, the heart of the Pirates order was coming up with a chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat.

Dick Groat had the first shot, and struck out. Future Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente was next, and he struck out too. That brought up the Pirates slugging left fielder (and future Cub) Frank Thomas. Thomas would go on to hit 25 home runs in 1955, but on this particular May day at Wrigley Field, the cheering was all for the pitcher.

Sam Jones struck out Frank Thomas to secure his place in history.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Coming this weekend

This week's Chicago Radio Spotlight interview is with Alison Moran. Alison has been a Jackie-of-all-trades in the radio biz for twenty years and has some great stories to tell. I'll be posting that interview on Saturday.

Sunday's new Father Knows Nothing will be about this year's Mother's Day gift to Bridget.

Also, we'll have two new Cubs 365 stories at the JOBC Blog, and go back in time to 1908 and 1945 at the JOBC website.

Have a great Mother's Day weekend!

Baby You're a Rich Man

The story behind an under-appreciated Beatles song recorded exactly 45 years ago today, "Baby You're A Rich Man", courtesy of Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac...

"May 11, 1967…At Olympic Sound Studios in London, the Beatles recorded "Baby, You're A Rich Man," featuring an unusual oboe-like sound which was created by John Lennon playing a clavioline (an early forerunner of the synthesizer), with a spin-echo effect that was used to fill from the end of one line of the verse to the start of the next. Some have speculated that the song is about the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein."

Beatles Mass

I drove by this church the other day when I was in the city for a book signing and thought I saw the marquee incorrectly. No, I didn't. This is real...

Countdown to "Cheeseland"

Randy Richardson's "Cheeseland" is officially coming out on May 29, and until then we're counting down the days by telling you more about it.

The first half of the book is filled with rock and roll music references from the late 70s/early 80s, which is when the first half of the book takes place. This is the way Randy explains his extensive use of music to paint a picture...

"When you're a teen-ager, music means more to you than at any other time in your life. Or at least that is true for me. The songs that I listened to then have stuck with me for the thirty-plus years that have followed. They take you back to a time and a place when life was so much simpler and so much more complex. Music constantly plays in the background of the first part of Cheeseland. The two main characters always seem to be battling for control of the 8-track player. That is how I remember my life as a teen. The music I listened to shaped me and defined me."

Here, in chronological order, is Cheese Curds, the book's song playlist. Click on the song title to watch the video.

"Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin
"2112" by Rush
"Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy
"Surrender" by Cheap Trick
"Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)" by Pat Travers Band
"Running with the Devil" by Van Halen
"Jamie's Cryin'" by Van Halen
"Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)" by Little Walter
"Keep Pushin'" by REO Speedwagon
"Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin
"Rocks Off" by The Rolling Stones

"Cheeseland" is available for pre-order now! Click here to reserve your copy.

Cubs 365, May 11

On this day in 1935, player/manager Charlie Grimm took the "player" label off his business card. He had gone hitless in spring training and followed that up by going hitless in his first 8 at bats during the season, and decided that was enough. He handed the first base job to Phil Cavarretta so Grimm could concentrate on managing.

As a player, Charlie was a slick fielding first baseman and steady hitter. As a manager, he seemed to have a magic touch. In 1935, he led them to one of their most magical seasons of all time. That was the year the Cubs won 21 games in a row at the end of the season to win the pennant.

Grimm continued to manage the team until the middle of the 1938 season, when he was kicked up to the radio booth.

He returned to manage the Cubs two more times, including their last pennant winning season of 1945. In his first ten seasons as Cubs manager, the team won the pennant three times, finished in second place twice, and in third place four times. That's probably why Charlie is widely considered to be the second best Cubs manager of the 20th century (behind only Frank Chance).

Thursday, May 10, 2012


This is a big day in rock and roll history, and Chicago plays a role in it. I didn't know this story, featured today in Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac...

"May 10, 1965…At Chess Studios in Chicago, the Rolling Stones recorded "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," a version featuring Brian Jones on harmonica. The band re-recorded it two days later in Hollywood, with a different beat and a Gibson Maestro fuzzbox added to sustain the sound of the guitar riff. It was the May 12 Hollywood version that was released. Newsweek later called the opening riff "five notes that shook the world."

Traipsing for Truffles

My latest article in Shore Magazine is called "Traipsing for Truffles".

It's in the current issue of the magazine on newsstands now.

You can also read it here.

(Photo: That's me with the most famous truffle dog in Italy)

Countdown to "Cheeseland"

Randy Richardson's "Cheeseland" is officially coming out on May 29, and until then we're counting down the days by telling you more about it.

The first half of the novel takes place in 1979/1980 in Chicago and involves a roadtrip across the border into "Cheeseland". Richardson really captures this era. It comes to life on the page.

Don't take our word for it. We asked former Loop disc jockey Mitch Michaels to give us his take on "Cheeseland". Mitch was one of the biggest voices on the Chicago radio dial, an icon to the teenagers featured in this book. If you lived in Chicago at the time, you remember Mitch Michaels "doing the cruise" every afternoon on FM 98. His voice is featured in this commercial from the era...

Here's what Mitch had to say after reading "Cheeseland": "Randy has opened a portal and invited us to cross back to the way it really used to be, those days of youthful rebellion, reckless abandon, and the promise of radical yet real reconciliation. A fun read and a great ride."

We couldn't have said it better ourselves, Mitch.

"Cheeseland" is available for pre-order now. Order it here! It ships on May 29.

Cubs 365, May 10

On this day in 1971, the Cubs played their first game in Philadelphia's brand new Veteran's Stadium.

Fergie Jenkins was on the mound for the boys in blue, and he was in the zone. Fergie struck out every batter in the Phillies starting lineup except their lead off man, Larry Bowa, and the Cubs won 3-0.

His final line for the game...9IP, 4H, 0ER, 0BB, and 12Ks.

Fergie went on to pitch 325 innings in 1971, going 24-13, with a 2.77 ERA, but maybe his most incredible stat that year is this: He struck out 263 batters and walked only 37.

And yes, he won the Cy Young Award.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

An interview with Randy Richardson

The latest Eckhartz Press writer is Randy Richardson. His novel "Cheeseland" will be our third release. If you want to know more about him, this is a great new interview by the Pen & Prosper blog.

What's that? Oh, you'd like to pre-order his book (which is officially coming out on May 29th)?

This is the place to do that.

Superheroes for Aging Grown Ups

My suburban dad contribution to the City Mom blog this week is called "Superheroes for Aging Grown Ups".

You can read it here.

RIP Maurice Sendak

Sad to read this news, children's author Maurice Sendak has passed away. His Little Bear books were a staple of my childhood, and we read them to our boys too.

Just a few months ago he was on the Colbert Report, doing what I thought was a very funny segment with Stephen...

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 1
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Cubs 365, May 9

On this day in 1873, future Chicago mayor Anton Cermak was born. Throughout the last century many of Chicago's mayors have been White Sox fans (most notably the Daleys), but there have been a few notable exceptions, and Mayor Cermak may have been the most famous. He loved the Cubs.

When the Cubs and Yankees played each other in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, two VIPs were sitting in the front row; Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago and Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York. Roosevelt was the Democratic nominee for the Presidency and was campaigning in the Midwest. The paraplegic Roosevelt leaned against his son as he threw out the first pitch. He was the guest of Cermak, who was poised to deliver Chicago's vote to the Presidential challenger. Cermak was the creator and founder of Chicago's Democratic Machine, and was extremely powerful despite only having been the Mayor since 1931. History hasn't noted what these two men discussed that day, but it has mythologized the game itself. It was the game that Babe Ruth supposedly called his shot.

Unfortunately for Mayor Cermak, he never went to another Cubs game after that World Series loss to the Yankees.

On February 15, 1933 after a fishing trip in the Bahamas, Franklin Roosevelt emerged from his yacht in Miami, and a small crowd was there to greet him. Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak was in the crowd, and so was a man named Giuseppe Zangara.

After a short speech, Roosevelt motioned Cermak to his side in the back seat of a convertible. They were talking to each other when Zangara raised a handgun and began shooting. He claimed to be aiming for Roosevelt, but he hit Cermak and four others. The crowd collapsed on Zangara, and wrestled him to the ground, as Cermak was rushed to the hospital in Roosevelt's car. During that ride, with Roosevelt at his side, Cermak supposedly said: "I am glad it was me instead of you."

The real question is: was the assassin trying to hit Roosevelt or Cermak? Everyone assumed the intended victim was Roosevelt, but the triggerman Giuseppe Zangara was Sicilian, and it’s very possible he was sent by the Chicago Outfit to retaliate for Cermak's move against Frank Nitti in the Chicago bootlegging business. We'll never know for sure. Zangara was executed only a few weeks after Cermak died.

After Cermak's death on March 6, 1933, 22nd Street was renamed "Cermak".

A few weeks later on Opening Day at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs had a moment of silence in honor of their fallen mayor.

They finished in third place that season, six games behind the New York Giants.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

"Cheeseland" available for pre-order today!

Eckhartz Press Releases Cheeseland, by Randy Richardson

Eckhartz Press is thrilled to announce their next title, "Cheeseland", written by attorney and award-winning journalist, Randy Richardson. His essays have been published in the anthologies Chicken Soup for the Father and Son Soul, Humor for a Boomer's Heart, The Big Book of Christmas Joy, and Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year, as well as in numerous print and online journals and magazines. The online publication Gapers Block named his debut novel, Lost in the Ivy, one of the notable Chicago books of 2005.

Pre-Order NOW!!!

How do you mend a broken friendship? For Lance Parker and Daniel McAllister, the answer is simple: road trip. A trip to Wisconsin should be just the ticket to come to terms with the trauma that had drawn them apart. The journey of recovery is filled with comical twists as the two teens navigate Cheeseland, a place that blurs the line between adolescence and adulthood. The journey of recovery turns into a journey of discovery, as secrets are revealed. Cheeseland is a novel about loyalty, friendship and the self-destructive nature of secret-keeping and unresolved anger.


"...a dramatic touch that rivals Nicholas Sparks" - Robert W. Walker, author of Titanic 2012, Bismarck 2013, and Children of Salem

"A fun read and a great ride." - Mitch Michaels, Chicago rock radio legend

"Easy Rider meets a warped version of It's a Wonderful Life." - Christine Sneed, author of Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry and the forthcoming Little Known Facts

The author is donating $1 from every soft cover sale of this book to the Elyssa's Mission , a Northbrook, Illinois-based not-for-profit foundation that provides help, support and suicide prevention programs to prevent teen suicide. Donations will help to fund the Mission's Signs of Suicide Program, which they currently provide to junior and high schools in Illinois.

Cubs 365, May 8

On this day in 1963, Cubs pitcher Bob Buhl ended his long nightmare.

Pitchers are not supposed to be great hitters, but Bob Buhl took that concept to a whole different level.

His record setting streak began in 1961, when he was still with the Milwaukee Braves. That year he got a whopping 4 hits in 60 at bats, and struck out 30 times. But he really took it up a notch when he joined the Cubs in 1962. That year he went the entire season without getting a single hit. He was 0-70 and struck out 36 times. He didn't get another hit until May 8, 1963, when he slapped a single off Pirates pitcher Al McBean, who probably was razzed about it by his teammates the rest of his career.

Buhl's record still stands today; 88 consecutive at bats without getting a hit.

Luckily for Buhl, he was a pretty good pitcher. He pitched in the big leagues for 15 seasons and won 15 or more games five times, including once with the incredibly lousy 1964 Cubs. Buhl even managed to do something completely foreign to his Cubs teammates.

He won a World Series ring (with the 1957 Milwaukee Braves).

An interview with Randy Richardson

The latest Eckhartz Press writer is Randy Richardson. His novel "Cheeseland" will be our third release. If you want to know more about him, this is a great new interview by the Pen & Prosper blog.

What's that? Oh, you'd like to pre-order his book (which is officially coming out on May 29th)?

This is the place to do that.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Down at the Golden Coin e-book

The long awaited e-book of "Down at the Golden Coin" is now available at amazon.

It's also available at Kobo

It's still being worked through the system at Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and a few other locations. As it becomes available in each different format, we'll let you know.

Download the e-book today! It's only $3.99

5 New Uses for Cassette Tapes

None of them involve actually listening to them.

An article for the craft-lovers among us.*

*And no, I'm not one of you people.

RIP Goober

Sad news. George Lindsay, aka Goober from the Andy Griffith show passed away over the weekend. I was bummed when I saw the news.

Father Knows Nothing

I posted a new Father Knows Nothing column over the weekend. This one was called "Caretaker Report Card." I graded my family based on how well they treated me last week when I was very sick.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, May 7

On this day in 1918, Al Epperly was born. Just twenty years later he was the youngest player in the Majors, pitching for the 1938 Cubs. He was like a babe in a tub. So naturally, his teammates called him Tub.

Epperly pitched only 27 innings for the team, starting 4 games and relieving in 5 others, and he had some control issues (15 walks), but the Cubs still had high hopes for his future. But he never made it back to Chicago. He was pounded hard in the minors the next season, and the Cubs sold him to San Francisco of the PCL. He languished in the minors several more years, before being drafted into the service during the war.

In what can only be described as a Hollywood ending, Tub made it back to the big leagues five years after the war ended. Brooklyn called him up in 1950, at the age of 32. Epperly got to pitch in the big leagues one last time, making five appearances for the Dodgers.

Al Epperly is one of those epic minor league stories. He pitched 17 seasons overall—but only got into 14 big league games.