Friday, August 31, 2012

Sarah Palin

Savvy Fox News watchers may have noticed something during the coverage of this year's Republican National Convention. Despite having been the star of last year's convention, and being on the Fox News payroll (for a cool million a year), Sarah Palin was conspicuously absent from their prime-time coverage.

Turns out, there's a bit of a backstage kerfuffle going on there.

Is it just me, or is she always surrounded by needless drama? I don't know if it's typical of politics, but it's definitely typical of show business. She claims to hate Hollywood, but she'd fit right in.

As I get older and more removed from the media business, I fear that I could no longer do the job as diplomatically as I once did. When I was a producer, I was known for my ability to deal with difficult personalities. Now, I'm pretty sure I'd just say something like: "Hey lady, guess what? The world does not revolve around you. Nobody gives a crap."

Producers who talk that way don't last very long.

Cubs 365, August 31

On this day in 1915, Cubs pitcher Jimmy Lavender made his mark in history. He won only 63 games in his MLB career (all but six of them for the Cubs), but for one glorious day, he was unhittable.

Lavender pitched a no-hitter in the first game of a double header in New York against the Giants. He walked one and struck out eight. With the victory, the Cubs got back to .500. Unfortunately, they lost the second game and fell back under.

1915 was the last season the Cubs played their home games at West Side Grounds, and it was a year of transition for the team. Among Lavender's teammates that season were the last two remaining members of the 1908 Champs (Wildfire Schulte & Heinie Zimmerman), and the man who would lead them to the World Series a few years later, pitcher Hippo Vaughn.

Eleanor Rigby Cellist Dies

The cellist that performed memorably in the Beatles song "Eleanor Rigby" has passed away at the age of 87. His name was Ingus Naruns, and he was a Latvian refugee.

Debating Empty Chairs

Did you happen to see Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention last night? If not, you missed an 82-year-old man debating an empty chair.

I've always loved Clint, but whoo boy, that was one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen at a convention. It has created an instant internet meme, especially on Twitter. Lots of people were taking pictures of themselves debating empty chairs.

You know what's funny? I think the chair won the debate.

It's getting more pub today than the nominee, ol' what's his name.

New Orleans

My wife has family in New Orleans, so every time one of these horrible weather events happen in the Gulf, we watch it with special interest. Based on where the flooding is occurring, it looks like Bridget's family didn't get hit this time.

But there are lots of stories about people who moved out of New Orleans into "safer" areas after Katrina, and some of those people just got hit again.

My heart goes out to them. That's got to be horrible.

Kiss-FM Loses a Programmer

If you're over the age of 35, you may not realize what a ratings juggernaut 103.5, Kiss-FM is. They are the #1 station in Chicago for 18-34 year olds, and #2 for people between the ages of 25-54 (the money demo). I confess that I've got ten FM pre-sets on my car radio, and Kiss-Fm isn't one of them...but then again, I'm a dinosaur.

Well, yesterday the program director (Rick Vaughn) that took them to those heights resigned to take a job in Atlanta. Details are here.

We'll see if that has any impact on the ratings. I don't know who is responsible for getting the numbers where they are, but I do know that when Rick Vaughn came here four years ago, Kiss-FM's numbers were nowhere near as strong as they are now.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Kind of Book Reader Are You?

I enjoyed this piece in the Atlantic examining all of the different types of "book readers". The writer breaks them up into the following categories...the hate reader, the chronological reader, the book buster, the delayed onset reader #1, the delayed onset reader #2, the book-o-phile, the anti-reader, the cross under, the multi-tasker, and the sleepy bedtime reader.

After reading all of the descriptions, I'd probably consider myself to be the chronological reader. Once I start a book, I feel compelled to finish it no matter what...and I won't pick up another one until I finish the first book.

It's the German in me.

And it's also the reason I have fifty books in a pile that need to be read.

Cubs 365, August 30

On this day in 1948, Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley took out an ad in all of Chicago's newspapers apologizing for his terrible team.

The Cubs had gone with a youth movement, and it had utterly failed. Initially the young team appeared sparked by the angry flame their owner lit under their bottoms, winning seven of their next ten games. Unfortunately, they followed that up with a ten game losing streak, and ended the year with 90 losses. At the time, it was the worst record in team history.

Needless to say, it's no longer the worst.

Lennon's Killer

This article about Mark David Chapman is hard to read.

Not because he was actually up for parole (it was denied). Not because he doesn't show any remorse (he does). But because it just reminds us of how incredibly senseless Lennon's killing was.

Chapman only did it to get attention. How sick is that? And even though we've been told for 30 years that he called out "Mr. Lennon" before he shot him, he actually didn't say anything at all. He just shot shot him in the back. In the back. For no reason at all.

Darwin Barney

In one of the worst Cubs seasons in history, there have been a few bright spots. One of them is Darwin Barney. He set a record last night for most consecutive games without an error at 2B. (114)

He was given an error for a few minutes last night, but after looking at the replay, the official scorer gave the error to the third baseman instead. I was watching...(I know, but someone's gotta do it. What should I have watched instead? The Republican convention?)...and the scorer did the right thing. That throw was right on the money. The third baseman just missed it.

Full details are here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Green White History

One of my on-going writing projects is writing the history of the Green White Soccer Club, a club co-founded by my dad. This month, I wrote about 1967.

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, August 29

On this day in 1918, the Cubs clinched the National League pennant with a double-header sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. Lefty Tyler won his 18th game in the opener, and Claude Hendrix won his 20th game in the nightcap.

It was the earliest any team in National League history clinched a pennant, but that record comes with a big asterisk. The nation was fighting in World War I. The government announced that September 2nd was the last day for anyone who was of draft age to report for duty, or to find a war related job. This included the ballplayers themselves—although a waiver was granted for anyone playing in the World Series. Baseball wasn’t considered essential.

The Cubs faced Babe Ruth and the Red Sox in that World Series, and lost it in 6 games. The Red Sox wouldn't win another World Series for 86 years.

The Liberal Media

Actor Jon Voight went on a rant at the Republican Convention last night about "the liberal media". (Details are here.)

As a twenty-plus year member of the liberal media, I think it's time to make a confession. I could get my membership revoked for revealing this, but here goes. It's all true.

Once a week we meet in secret places in every major city in America (not the real America--just the blue states). At these meetings, we usually say a pledge to Karl Marx (although some will free-lance a little and praise either Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or Obama), and then we plan out the best ways to silence the most discriminated against people in this nation--Conservatives. It's not easy to keep the only good people in America down, but that's our mission, and we won't rest until we succeed. After that, we usually eat something "European" while drinking a Latte and smoking a marijuana cigarette we just lit with the burning embers of the American flag. The meeting always ends with our "Death to America" chant (in Arabic or Spanish), and our "Viva Satan" dance.

Then, it's back to work at one of the six multi-billion dollar corporations that own the media (and by the way, contribute millions to the Republican party.)

If I had a dime for every time we sat around a table and laughed at you (that evil arch-villain kind of laugh), I'd be a millionaire too.

Like Jon Voight.

And wow, would I be pissed off at my good fortune.

Roeper Joins Windy City Live

Richard Roeper was named the movie critic of "Windy City Live" on Channel 7 (ABC-Chicago) yesterday. Paige Wiser had been doing movie reviews for the show, but she has been moved over to the TV beat, which she previously covered for the Sun Times.

Robert Feder has the full details.

Emmis Gives Out Cash To Employees

Emmis Broadcasting used to own the Loop and Q-101 in Chicago before selling it to Merlin Media. At the end of the Emmis era in Chicago, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy, and times were incredibly tense. I'm sure those former Emmis employees in Chicago were thrilled to read this today in Radio Online...

"If you notice your friendly neighborhood Emmis employee walking around with a particularly happy smile today, here's why: Outlined in a memo from CEO Jeff Smulyan, all Emmis employees will be receiving cash bonuses in their next paychecks. Full-time employees are to receive $1,000 with $250 going to all part-time workers. Smulyan says the gesture is to show his appreciation "for their loyalty and dedication." In the memo Smulyan writes: "Emmis is now a smaller, leaner company that can compete with its peers. We have emerged as one of the least leveraged companies in media."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Beatles history

Another big day in Beatles history, with a few more stories containing details I had never heard. Once again, courtesy of Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac...

August 28, 1964…Right after finishing their set at New York's Forest Hills Tennis Stadium and on the same day they made their first appearance on the cover of LIFE magazine, the Beatles returned to their suite at the Hotel Delmonico to meet journalist Al Aronowitz who introduced them to his friend Bob Dylan. John Lennon asked the folk singer what he'd like to drink, and Dylan replied, "cheap wine." The Beatles offered Dylan some speed, their drug of choice, but Bob and Al suggested marijuana instead, which the band had never tried. This shocked Dylan, who said he always thought that in their song "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," they were singing "I get high." Lennon corrected him saying the lyrics are, in fact, "I can't hide." John made Ringo smoke the joint first. Eventually each member of the band got his own private marijuana cigarette. Paul was quite taken with the thoughts it produced and ordered Mal Evans to follow him around with a notepad to write down all his marijuana-induced insights and observations.

August 28, 1966…The Beatles performed at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles in front of a crowd of 45,000 people. After the show, their attempt to escape the stadium in an armored truck went awry when they reached the main gate and found it locked. The Beatles had to spend two hours sitting in the back of the truck before they could leave the stadium.

August 28, 1968…At Trident Studios in London, the Beatles began recording a new John Lennon composition, "Dear Prudence." They built the song instrument by instrument, utilizing the 8-track equipment at Trident that was not yet available at Abbey Road Studios. John and George played guitars while Paul played drums in place of Ringo, who had temporarily quit the band less than a week earlier.

Love this song...

Katie Couric

Her daytime show starts up on September 10th, and she talked to Howard Kurtz about it at the Daily Beast. Sounds like the show will be trying to emulate Oprah, which is obviously a pretty good idea.

Just so you know, my pointing this article out is legitimate media coverage, not just another cheap excuse to post my all-time favorite Katie Couric photo.

The More Things Change...

...the more they remain the same.

This is supposedly a campaign film for Woodrow Wilson in 1912. It's about the different rules for rich guys versus wage earners. 100 years later we're having the exact same debate.

Cubs 365, August 28

On this day in 1957, the Cubs played at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn for the very last time. (The Dodgers would move to Los Angeles for the 1958 season.)

On the mound for the Dodgers that day; Sandy Koufax.

Koufax wasn't yet the dominant pitcher he would become, and he didn't really have it for his last start in Brooklyn against the Cubs. He gave up a home run to Dale Long in the fourth, and was out of the game by the sixth inning.

Ed Roebuck came in to relieve him, and ended up pitching the next nine innings. That's right, nine innings in relief. Roebuck gave up only three hits, struck out six, and kept the Dodgers in the game until they could eke a run across in the bottom of the 14th inning.

That run was scored by former Cub Handsome Ransom Jackson.


I know it's not cool to joke about a tropical storm or hurricane because the devastation is real, and it's tragic. I'm not making light of that--really I'm not. But this radar image of Isaac reminds me of something. I can't quite place it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Father Knows Nothing

This week's Father Knows Nothing is called "Doggy Heaven" and it includes my vision of what doggy heaven might look like.

You can read it here.

Soccer Time

I spent the whole weekend in Buffalo Grove coaching my youngest in a tournament. Ninety degree heat on day one. Downpour on day two. But the lad shows some promise...

Cubs 365, August 27

On this day in 1917, future Cub Peanuts Lowrey was born.

His nickname came from his grandfather, who described him as "no bigger than a peanut." He was also a child actor, playing bit parts in silent films. Supposedly, actress Thelma Todd got him to perform with promises to buy him peanuts.

Peanuts played with the Cubs from 1942-1949, and was a starter on the last Cubs World Series team, but he never totally lost the acting bug. He also had a speaking part in "The Winning Team," which starred Ronald Reagan as Grover Cleveland Alexander. (He plays a pitcher that beans Ronald Reagan.)

While the public and press called him Peanuts, that nickname was only used some of the time by his teammates, who gave him another one...they also called him "Goober."

Lowrey's Cubs career ended in 1949 when he was traded to the Reds for Hank Sauer; one of the best trades in Cubs history.

E-mails, we get e-mails

This was in my e-mail box this morning from "KB"

"Hi, Thanks for the Cubs' history. My father has a memory of a Cubs' game that he attended in the late 1940s. As he recalls, the Cubs were playing the Brooklyn Dodgers and the game was moved from Wrigley Field to Comiskey Park because of concerns about the northside community's reaction to Jackie Robinson. Is this accurate? Thanks for your help."

My response: It is correct that there was concern about the community reaction to Jackie Robinson before his first game at Wrigley (1947), and it was discussed that the game would be played at Comiskey, but they decided to play it at Wrigley after all--and it remains to this day the largest crowd in Wrigley Field history. Mike Royko was at the game.