Friday, December 07, 2012

The. Next. Big. Thing.

Eckhartz Press author Randy Richardson (Cheeseland) invited me to participate in a national blog experiment called The. Next. Big. Thing.

Authors are being asked to answer ten simple questions (and no more than ten...we can get a little wordy), and then tag five other authors to do the same. I've chosen to accept this assignment to promote "The Living Wills" (co-written with Brendan Sullivan), which is still available in the Eckhartz Press store, the amazon Kindle store, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstore, and the Sony Reader store. You know what? Now that you mention it, it would make an excellent stocking stuffer for Christmas.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

1. What is the (working) title of your book?

“The Living Wills”

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

It was created in a very unusual way. My co-author Brendan Sullivan and I wrote individual chapters with no idea where the story would take us. After creating a few memorable characters using that technique, we met and improvised a story line featuring those characters. It was a really interesting experiment in creativity that worked out much better than we ever thought it would.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It’s not a genre book, really. More of a standard commercial novel.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

We’ve actually gotten a few nibbles from film directors and producers, but I'm guessing my dream cast for the five main characters of the book might be a bit out of any movie studio's price range...

Henry—Henry’s a bigger than life kind of figure, in his 60s. I can see Brian Dennehy playing that role very convincingly. Or CSI’s William Petersen (who actually endorsed our book on the back cover).

Reed—Reed is in his 50s, and just going through the motions in life. How about Tom Hanks? (It’s a dream cast, right?)

Gina—She has a sassy attitude, and is young and tall. I’m thinking Maggie Gyllenhaal

Delmar—Late 30s/early 40s lovable nerd. How about Jack Black?

Peter—I like Jason Segel in this role, but it may be a little too serious for him.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

The Living Wills is about a split second decision made thirty years ago and the ripple effects it has caused.

6. Was (Will) your book (be) self-published or represented by an agency?

Trick question. The book was published by Eckhartz Press, but I’m one of the co-publishers of Eckhartz Press. (We’ve since published four other books by other authors). I've been previously published and represented by an agency, and to be honest, I didn't like the experience. I much prefer doing it this way.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I think it took us about a year to write the first draft. Working on that first draft was pure joy. Polishing subsequent drafts, on the other hand, was a little more challenging. It took us another two years to do that.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t really compare it to another book because it is a little unusual. I guess it's a bit similar to a movie like The Royal Tenenbaums. It has quirky intersecting story lines, and beneath the humor, the reader will unexpectedly encounter real human drama.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It's hard to explain where ideas come from when you're improvising, but I think it's safe to say that the emotional parts of the book were inspired by the deaths of our parents (Brendan’s mom, and my dad).

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Living Wills connects the worlds of baristas and Army veterans, bowling teams and exploding port-a-potties, cartoon pirates and young love. Find me another novel that does that!

OK, and here are the five authors I've tagged to participate.

Michael Antman is the author of "Cherry Whip" (ENC Press) and the upcoming memoir "Searching for the Seagull Motel". He also does some very thoughtful literary essays and book reivews at his website.

Hank Owens is the author of "The Pitch", a very enjoyable novel about a knuckleballer making his way through the minor leagues. He now lives in central Iowa, where he works on old buildings and writes about them. He bats and throws left for a beer league softball team in central Iowa, and despite years of trying has never been able to master a knuckleball.

Lisa Mottola Hudon is the author of "Another Shitty Day in Paradise" and "Watch Your Step at the Wishing Well" (both available here). She's also the editor of "The Living Wills", and is availble as an editor. Check out her website here.

David Brensilver is the author of ExecTV, but he's also a classically trained musician-turned-journalist. David’s writing has appeared in a host of publications including the All Music Guide to Classical Music: The Definitive Guide to Classical Music (Backbeat Books, 2005). David is currently the editor-in-chief of "The Daily Maul", a truly unique blog about animal rights.

Kim Strickland is the author of "Down at the Golden Coin" and "Wish Club", and is also a blogger for ChicagoNow ("A City Mom")

Don't Go Into the Clothing Business

From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac, 45 years ago today...

December 7, 1967…The Beatles' Apple boutique opened in London. It closed seven months later and all its merchandise was given away to passersby.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

VANITY FAIR ‏@VanityFair
.@ConanOBrien imagines a dystopian future in which comedians take over and America crumbles into Onion-flavored dust

The Daily Beast ‏@thedailybeast
Receptionist who connected Kate Middleton prank callers commits suicide

David Axelrod ‏@davidaxelrod
Slashthestachers, stay tuned. At 4:30 p.m. on CNN, one of DC's remaining mustachioed personalities is going 2 put his whiskers on the line.

Ari Berman ‏@AriBerman
RT @GarrettQuinn US added 146k jobs in November. Unemployment rate drops to 7.7%, lowest since December 2008.

WGNMorningNews ‏@WGNMorningNews
Let it be said: on the radio, off the radio, OVER THE PHONE, Eddie & Jobo are good sports. Best of luck @eddievolkman #yeahhhhhhhhhh

Scott Simon ‏@nprscottsimon
Daughters helped make sandwiches this AM. They said dill sauce looked like sludge poo. My cue to squirt into mouth, yes?

FuzzyMemories.TV ‏@FuzzyMemories
Rick Klein and Kevin Szaflik on WGN Radio's The Bill Leff Show from last night talking about the Bozo's Circus...

New York Daily News ‏@nydailynews
Michigan college student tried to poison roommate by putting bleach in iced tea ‏@TIME
Inside the complicated history of the attack on Pearl Harbor |

NCME ‏@mediaengage
#PearlHarborDay reminds us of our veterans: @StoryCorps captures their voices from then and now

Roger Ebert fractures a bone

From the Chicago Sun Times...

"Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert has been hospitalized to repair a bone fracture in the hip area. He felt a sharp pain in his leg earlier this week, said his wife, Chaz, and when it didn’t subside, he underwent tests. His doctors then determined that he had a fracture. He hopes to be back at the movies, Chaz Ebert said, in a week or so. “I am eager to see the remaining movies of the year,” he said, “so I can complete my best films of the year list.”

Eddie & Jobo

I knew the ratings weren't good, but I'm still surprised by this news. WJMK has fired Eddie & Jobo. That's the fourth or fifth morning show that's been let go by WJMK since John Landecker and I were let go back in 2003.

I guess the ratings weren't our fault after all.

Clear Channel Bloodbath

They were at it again yesterday. The company that couldn't possibly fire more people from their already bare-bones staff, fired some more. Here are some of their layoffs from around the country.

As I pointed out earlier this week, they can't possibly cut their way back to solvency. Even if they sold all of their radio stations at full current retail price, they still wouldn't be able to pay off their debt. In the meantime, they'll just keep on cutting.

Robert Feder has the details about who lost their jobs in Chicago.

Here's the statement from Clear Channel: "We are constantly looking at all aspects of our business to ensure that it reflects how the best organizations work today, taking advantage of the latest cutting-edge technology and organizational structure so we can continue to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve as we move forward as a company; this creates some new jobs, and unfortunately eliminates others. These are never easy decisions to make. In the process of making these recent changes, some employees were affected. We thank them for their service and wish them all the best for the future."

Stewart vs. Christie

The two New Jersey boys (Jon Stewart & Chris Christie) went at it a bit last night on The Daily Show.

Full recap in New York Magazine.

Jack Cafferty

I thought curmudgeonly CNN commentator Jack Cafferty was just on vacation. Nope. He's been let go. Talk about quietly shoving someone out the door. No announcment was even made.

Turns out his last day was November 15.

Cubs 365, December 7

On this day in 1911, future Cub Don Johnson was born. Johnson was the starting second baseman for the last pennant winning Cubs team in 1945. He was an energetic infielder, and his teammates called him "Pep."

Johnson was a young phenom in the minor league system, and the Cubs thought so highly of his eventual development, they traded their Hall of Fame second sacker Billy Herman. Then, they traded the other second baseman on their team, future all-star Eddie Stanky, and gave the job to Johnson.

In 1944, Johnson was an all-star himself, leading all 2B with 71 RBI. He also, unfortunately, committed 44 errors. Johnson had another all-star season with the bat in 1945, hitting .302, but after the players returned from the war in 1946, he was exposed as a liability. Johnson became a non-factor in 1947 and 1948 (his last season in the big leagues) while Eddie Stanky led two different teams to the NL pennant.

Some Don Johnson trivia: His father Ernie also had a Chicago connection. He was signed by the Chicago White Sox to replace banned shortstop Swede Risberg after the Black Sox scandal, and remained in the big leagues for ten years. In 1925, exactly twenty years before his son would play in the World Series, Ernie Johnson played in the World Series for the New York Yankees.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Len Barry

He's 70 years old today. When I worked at WJMK we played this song every single day...for ten years. It must test well with Oldies listeners. I still get the shakes when I hear it.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Al Yankovic ‏@alyankovic
Life of Pi was disappointing - virtually NO discussion of mathematics.

NPR Politics ‏@nprpolitics
Sen. Jim DeMint Leaving Congress To Run Heritage Foundation

Ezra Klein ‏@ezraklein
To state the obvious, you don't make Jim DeMint the head of your think tank in order to improve the quality of your scholarship.

phillip anderson ‏@phillipanderson
Coming soon: Senator "You Lie!" Guy (R-SC) #youhearditherefirst

HuffPostComedy ‏@HuffPostComedy
Only one South Carolina favorite son can replace Jim DeMint in the Senate: Stephen Colbert.

Groovyhoovy ‏@Groovyhoovy
This is the face she makes when I am within a 100 feet of her.

VANITY FAIR ‏@VanityFair
Freaks and Geeks reunited! See photos of the cast 10 years after “graduation,” including James Franco and Jason Segel

steve rosenbloom ‏@steverosenbloom
I love new Cubs TV analyst Jim Deshaies saying a fan told him he has to be critical. He wouldn't have been hired if he was going to do that.

Richard Lewis ‏@TheRichardLewis
I'm all for the wealthy helping out the US tax-wise and no cutting back Medicare but insist on more emotional cliffs.

Bruce Levine ‏@ESPNBruceLevine
Cubs lose two pitchers an inf and Of in rule 5 at this point. Must keep two roster spots open for recent signings .

Glenn Beck & Vince Vaughn

Glenn Beck and Vince Vaughn have teamed up for an on-line reality series. I'm trying to be fair here. Don't judge it until it's out, right? It could turn out to be a very respectable project that just happens to be associated with...

Oh boy.

Glenn Beck isn't just a rhetorical bomb thrower. He was even considered too crazy for Fox News. (The 50 Worst Things Beck Said on Fox News) That's a special kind of crazy.

Please tell me this is all research for an upcoming comedy, Vince.

Bob Costas

Bob Costas has been hammered for the comments he made about guns during the Sunday Night football broadcast.

Here's my take on it. Bob Costas has often taken stands on controversial issues in the past, and he's done it in a thoughtful and responsible way. If anyone should be given the soapbox to address big picture items like this, it should be someone like Bob Costas. Agree or disagree with his conclusion, he never goes off half-cocked.

He'll discuss it further tonight on Costas Tonight. (A preview is here) I guarantee you it won't be one of those bomb-throwing melees you see on cable news shows. It will be respectful. I think we should celebrate that instead of tearing it down.

Fox is Taking on ESPN

First NBC launched a 24-hour sports network (using their hockey contracts as a launching pad), and now Fox is getting ready to do the same, using their NASCAR channel as their launching pad.

Full details are here.

ESPN is worth $40 billion. Sounds like a good target.

Paging AMISH

People that haven't known me for a long time are always puzzled when I give them my e-mail address. It's I get asked once a week if I'm really Amish.

I'm not.

I once owned an advertising agency (along with David Stern and Vince Argento) called A.M.I.S.H. Chicago Advertising. AMISH stood for Ad Men In Search of Happiness. We started the agency because we worked in radio and were embarrassed by the terrible quality of radio commercials.

We sold something we believed in: good quality radio commercials for a reasonable price. We combined the creativity, writing and production values of a major market radio program with professional voice actors. We hung out our shingle, and started to get clients. For ten years we had a thriving business. In 2008 or so, we decided to try something new. Dave and I went on to start Just One Bad Century and then Eckhartz Press. Vince became the production director of the Loop.

Well, this morning I was reading a radio trade publication written by Tom Taylor. He was quoting a speaker at the Abitron Client Conference. This is the part that instantly reminded me of AMISH and why we started the company in the first place.

From Day 1 of the Arbitron 2012 Client Conference - RAB boss Erica Farber asks for a show of hands – “How many great commercials are you running on your radio stations?” She says “we’re hearing on the national level” from advertisers and agencies this message - “Help us.” What all too often happens is that the buy gets made, “we slam on this commercial in an hour, and it stinks.” Then it’s the old story – it’s not effective, and the client concludes that radio doesn’t work. Farber says “the days of selling 18 spots a week…are over.” Clients want great ideas and great execution. Farber says when they can get in to the offices of decision makers, they’re hungry to hear about great ideas and campaigns, which can be adapted for use elsewhere.
We started AMISH in 1998. That same problem had already been a problem for years before that.

What do you call an industry that has had the same problem for twenty years and has never fixed it?

Cubs 365, December 6

On this day in 1909, Stan Hack was born. Smiling Stan Hack played his entire career for the Cubs (from 1932 to 1947), anchoring four World Series teams (and hitting .348 in those series), and a few not so good teams. He also managed the team for awhile, and throughout his many years in a Cubs uniform, was known for having a smile on his face.

The person that noticed Stan's perpetual smile was none other than Bill Veeck, Jr. Veeck was only 21 when he came up with a Stan Hack promotion for the Cubs in 1935. Fans were given mirrors labeled "Smile with Stan", with Hack's face on the reverse side. Unfortunately for Veeck, the fans used the mirrors to reflect sunlight into the eyes of opposing batters. The umpires threatened to forfeit the game if they didn't stop, and the league banned any future promotions involving mirrors.

Smilin' Stan was the National League's best third baseman in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The leadoff hitter batted .301 lifetime, scored 100 runs seven times, led the league in hits and stolen bases twice, and was a four-time All Star. His .394 career on base percentage was the highest by a 20th-century third baseman until Wade Boggs exceeded it in the late 1980s, and remained the best in the National League until 2001.

Smilin' Stan died in 1979.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Balding Handbook on GoodReads

The Balding Handbook is now on GoodReads. If you read it and enjoy it, please give us a good rating.

If you don't enjoy it, please pretend like you've never heard that The Balding Handbook is now on GoodReads.

Band on the Run

Today in history from Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac...

December 5, 1973…Paul McCartney released the third Wings album, "Band on the Run," in North America. It was the last McCartney album issued on the Apple Records label.

I think it's the best Wings album.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

The Balding Handbook ‏@BaldingHandbook
Evolved Bald Man Helps Fellow Sufferers Through the Five Stages of Grieving … via @sharethis

Kate Middleton's London hospital is punk'd by two DJs in Australia: ‏@Salon
Jon Stewart peers over the edge of the fiscal cliff: "Don’t worry, your fall will be cushioned by lava.” … [video]

Judd Apatow ‏@JuddApatow
how cool is this? Nichols and May do an interview together in @vanityfair - their first in 50 years. …

Al Yankovic ‏@alyankovic
Every time somebody tweets "Your an idiot" an irony angel gets its wings.

Deadspin ‏@Deadspin
Our favorite radio call of the season: "The Lakers have just pooped their big-boy pants!"

Paul Sullivan ‏@PWSullivan
Brief lull in Winter Meetings as agents iron their jeans and black collared shirts for a new day of schmoozing execs.

New York Daily News ‏@nydailynews
Man shoots girlfriend after watching 'Walking Dead,' arguing about logistics of a zombie apocalypse

Peter Suderman ‏@petersuderman
Here's why Reason is awesome: You can meet in the comments, fall in love, get married, have a kid, and name her Reason

Adam Greenberg ‏@adamgreenberg10
As of this am 4 legitimate possibilities for spring training. Couldn't be more excited. More meetings today. I'm ready for opportunity

F.C.C. Postpones Media Ownership Rule Vote

I know they are just doing this to make it appear they are truly listening to the people on this proposed rules change, but the "comments period" has been enough in the past to give activists time to build support with the non-media-owners among us.

The encouraging news is here.

Anderson Cooper Sunburns His Eyeballs

I know it's not funny, because he was temporarily blinded (for 36 hours), but I laughed at the sentence anyway when I read it in People Magazine.

Luckily those dreamy eyes are just fine now.

The Illinois Entertainer

Thanks so much to Cara Jepsen at the Illinois Entertainer for this nice piece about me in the current issue.

It's about my publishing company, my upcoming book, Chicago Radio Spotlight, and more.

Robin Yount Shoots Dale Sveum

Turns out Robin Yount has a little Dick Cheney in him. He accidentally shot Cubs manager Dale Sveum on a recent hunting trip.

"The bird went up in front of him, and I was about 50 yards up on the hill," Sveum told reporters on Tuesday. "He got the bird up and lost track of where I was and pulled the trigger and was like, 'Uh oh.' I was looking for birds myself ,and he was behind me. I got drilled with pellets in the back and the ear."

"At least it wasn't his face," Dick Cheney's pal said.

Karl Rove Benched

Fox News boss Roger Ailes has benched Karl Rove from their primetime lineup because he's been wrong so often lately. Same goes for the always wrong Dick Morris. From New York Magazine...

"Ailes has issued a new directive to his staff: He wants the faces associated with the election off the air — for now. For Karl Rove and Dick Morris — a pair of pundits perhaps most closely aligned with Fox’s anti-Obama campaign — Ailes’s orders mean new rules. Ailes’s deputy, Fox News programming chief Bill Shine, has sent out orders mandating that producers must get permission before booking Rove or Morris."

I think that's a very good move by Fox. I'm the first to criticize them...I should also give them their props when they do something right.

The Radio Producer's Handbook

I found out something else when I was tooling around on the internet last night. It turns out my first book "The Radio Producer's Handbook" is now available in the Kindle format.

Nobody tells me anything. Maybe I should occasionally leave my basement.


All of my books are listed and reviewed on the website "Goodreads". I almost never go there to check on what people are saying, even though my reviews are generally good (all of them are over 4 stars out of 5), because the occsasional bad review will ruin my day. I'm not proud of that, but I know I'm certainly not alone. Every author I know is the same way. When you work on something for several years and pour your heart and soul into it, only to see your work casually dismissed, it has a tendency to be a little demoralizing.

Plus, to be totally honest, I already know the flaws in my books better than the people reviewing them. Nobody is tougher on me than me. I can't pick up any of them without finding additional flaws. I used to agonize over that, but I no longer do. Now, I just do my thing, put it out there, and move on to the next thing.

But last night I was looking for some reviews for one of my other Eckhartz Press authors on Goodreads to post on the Eckhartz Press blog, when temptation got the best of me. I checked the page for "$everance". I figured that was safe enough. After all, it came out more than five years ago--a bad review wouldn't have bothered me anymore. I was pleasantly surprised to see there were several new reviews I hadn't seen before, including this one posted earlier this year. It was written by a reader named Edward LoPinto. Thanks Edward. I appreciate it. You made my day.

$everance by Richard Kaempfer is a hilarious and pointed satirical novel about the absurd world of media conglomerations. The protagonist, Tom Zagorski, is a morning radio DJ at WCLR, a commercial radio station in Chicago. The station is owned by Sierra Megamedia, who constantly finds ways to cut costs and increase revenues, even when it means reducing the quality of programming and treating their loyal employees like scum. The station manager, Sherman Rose, wants to get rid of Zagorski, but not wanting to pay severance, he tries to make Zagorski’s life so miserable he will quit. Zagorski fights back by trying to make Rose’s life so miserable he must fire Zagorski – and pay his severance. Hilarity ensues…

For what he hopes to be his most irritating prank, Zagorski writes a list of ideas for cutting costs and increasing revenue, and e-mails it to every employee of Sierra Megamedia, including the CEO. His list, he thinks, is so obviously a crude joke that it is guaranteed to get him fired. However, the CEO, Franklin Siegel, sees it as a brilliant business strategy. Zagorski soon finds that in the world of Big Media, there is no idea too ridiculous, and no strategy too cynical.

Kaempfer has created some very memorable and vivid characters. Tom Zagorski and his on-air partner Richard Lawrence are loosely based on caricatures or stereotypes; Zagorski is the mischievous morning-show DJ, Lawrence the straight-laced news reporter. But Kaempfer, by drawing on his personal experience, has turned them into characters who feel very real. Their interactions, no matter how zany, always seemed believable.

As with many great novels, the plot seems to flow naturally from the characters and their circumstances. The plot of Severance is also engrossing because so many of characters are obviously based on real people, and as a reader, you feel as though you are getting a glimpse into the minds of the most powerful men in the business (you’ll meet characters who resemble Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, and many more . . . coincidence of course). And while some of Zagorski’s antics seem to push the boundaries of what an audience will believe, they are juxtaposed against equally absurd situations that we know to be real – it’s one of the ways all great satire works, and Kaempfer does it expertly.

Zagorski finds that, contrary to popular belief, the people running the media are not too ideological, but rather have no ideals at all. They simply want to attract the most customers and sponsors – they have no regard for factual or ideological truth. And while there are seven entire companies competing for market share, they work together in ways that make them a virtual monopoly.

I really enjoyed Severance. I often found myself laughing aloud at Zagorski’s antics. Kaempfer’s prose is clear, simple, and witty, and the subject matter is fascinating. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in good satire or the media industry.

Cubs 365, December 5

On this day in 1894, Phillip K. Wrigley was born. Just 38 years later he inherited the Chicago Cubs.

At his father's deathbed in 1932, Wrigley promised never to sell the Cubs. Unfortunately for the team, he lived up to that promise. Not only didn't he have the passion for baseball that his father William Wrigley Jr. had, he was completely indifferent to it. He didn't even attend the World Series in 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, even though his team was playing. Those teams from the 30s were essentially built by his father and his father's handpicked executives. The '45 team was a wartime fluke. After '45, we really saw the P.K. Wrigley effect.

While it would be totally unfair to say that this bad century is totally P.K. Wrigley's fault, it's hard not to point a finger at him. He owned the team from 1932-1977, during which time the most powerful team in the National League became the laughing stock of baseball.

For twenty years in a row, under P.K. Wrigley, the Cubs never finished higher than 5th place (1947-1966).

Charlie Grimm, a man who managed for him three different times, explained Wrigley's helping hand this way: "Whatever we said in the meetings, he'd always say, 'No that ain't right, let's do it this way.' He was absolutely wrong about everything."

Then again, it's not fair to blame the whole bad century on this one man.

He's only responsible for 45 years.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Eckhartz Press News

Don't forget that Eckhartz Press now has four books available for sale this holiday season, "The Living Wills", "Cheeseland", "The Balding Handbook" and "Down at the Golden Coin". All of those books make for great Christmas presents, and are availabe in the Eckhartz Press store.

Here's the latest news from that very talented stable of Eckhartz Press authors...

This Thursday night Kim Strickland will be part of the lineup at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square (4736 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago). They are staging a "ChicagoNow Bloggers Author Night", and Kim writes the blog "A City Mom" for ChicagoNow. She'll be signing copies of her Eckhartz Press book "Down at the Golden Coin" at the Book Cellar, along with fellow ChicagoNow authors Jimmy Greenfield, Carrie Goldman, Kirk Mango, and Fern Ronay. The festivities begin at 7pm.

This Saturday (December 8) Eckhartz Press author Randy Richardson will be appearing in Woodstock at "Read Between the Lynes" from 2-4pm. He'll be signing copies of his novel "Cheeseland". Read Between the Lynes is located at 129 West Van Buren Street in Woodstock.

The Balding Handbook gets serious for a moment: Eckhartz Press author Dave Stern is donating a portion of the proceeds to a charity that provides wigs for children undergoing chemo. It's called "The Happiness Plunge" and you can read more about this great charity here.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Mark Edwards ‏@markedwards
Lushes, Now You Can Warm Up With Wine Ice Cream | Foodbeast

Chicagoland Media ‏@ChiRadioMedia
WGN’s John Williams Sells La Grange Park Home -- …

Arlington Hts Patch ‏@AHeightsILPatch
Today is the last day we're supposed to see temps in the 50s -- Enjoy the warmish weather!!

New York Daily News ‏@nydailynews
Senator Ashley Judd? Actress is reportedly considering taking on Mitch McConnell for seat

R.A. Dickey ‏@RADickey43
Looking forward to being on the Daily Show today. I hear Mr. Stewart is a Mets fan.

Nikki Knepper ‏@queenofcussin
Writing a blog about vomit and Rolie Polie Olie. Sometimes I miss having little ones around, but then I remember...

Eric & Kathy ‏@EricandKathy
"I'm fine." The most hated phrase that a woman can say to a man. #Fact

CTA Tattler ‏@ctatattler
Top 10 cities for cellphone theft? Chicago doesn't even make the list #cnblog @chicagonow …

Brian Stelter ‏@brianstelter
ICYMI (like I did) last night: Roger Ailes' failed attempt to enlist David Petraeus as presidential candidate, on tape:

Chet Coppock ‏@ChetCoppock
White Sox without the dynamic A.J. Pierzynski will be like a vodka tonic without the vodka. end of an era looms

Led Zeppelin on Letterman

I realized while I was watching this last night that I had never seen Led Zeppelin interviewed together before. It was slightly painful to watch. Here's a clip...

The Daily Is No More

The first all-iPad newspaper, "The Daily", is shutting down. Details are here.

I don't even own an iPad, and you know I'm not a big Rupert fan, but I was rooting for this to work. With newspapers dying (have you seen the Sun Times lately?), journalism needs new markets. I give them credit for trying to trailblaze, but it appears there still isn't an audience.

Clear Channel's Debt Problem

How much debt has Clear Channel has incurred over the years? By 2016, the debt will be greater than the entire asset value of the company.

This is no shock to people who work for Clear Channel. Their cost cutting is legendary even in a business known for cost cutting, and it's still not even close to good enough to pay off their ridiculous debt. Not only can't they cut their way out of debt, now they can't even sell their way out of debt.

In Chicago, by the way, they own WLIT (93.9FM), WKSC (103.5FM), WGCI (107.9FM), WVAZ (102.9FM), WNUA (95.5FM), and WGRB-AM. In the rest of the country they own hundreds more, including more than 400 outside of the top 100 markets. In some states they own more than 50% of the radio stations in the entire state. A complete list is here.

Howard's Back for Another Season

Howard Stern has agreed to come back for another season of "America's Got Talent". The New York Times has the story today.

News & Politics

How much is Fox News actually involved in Republican politics? The head of Fox News tried to recruit David Petraeus to run for president. There's a tape of the conversation. In it, Petraeus says that Rupert has offered to bankroll his run.

I know the media still leans slightly left, but the part of the media on the right doesn't just lean, it tipped over years ago.

Can you imagine a news organization trying to objectively cover a candidate that they recruited and bankrolled? The only shocking thing about this is that I'm not shocked by it anymore.

Beatles '65

When I was a kid, I bought the album "Beatles '65". At the time, I had no idea about the back story. Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac explains it today...

December 4, 1964…In England, the Beatles released their fourth studio album, "Beatles For Sale." It did not surface as a regular album in the U.S. until 1987. In its place was "Beatles '65" which included only eight of the songs from "Beatles For Sale."

Someone has put the entire "Beatles 65" album on YouTube...

Paging Michael Savage

Every now and then I read something that makes my head hurt. Michael Savage, the firebreathing conservative talk show host, who has said some of the craziest things about the president, now offers this prescription for conservative talk radio. From Tom Taylor's column today...

"Michael Savage says talk radio is “committing suicide” by focusing so much on Obama. Savage, now in the Cumulus syndication family, popped in on company-owned WABC, New York’s Aaron Klein to compare the obsession many conservative talkers have with President Obama to Air America’s “Bush bashing” – and forgetting to do entertaining talk radio."

I happen to think he's right about the Obama obsession, but you might be interested in what he considers "entertaining talk radio". He has called liberalism "the HIV Virus", has said the ACLU should arrested for sedition, has compared the left to terrorists, and casually bandies about the word "traitor". Now that's entertainment. Just stop saying Obama and everything will be fine.

Hank O'Day

The Cubs have a new Hall of Famer. His name is Hank O'Day. O'Day played in the big leagues, and managed for the Cubs, but he is really being inducted as an umpire. From the Tribune...

The Hall call: The Hall of Fame added three new members from the pre-World War II era Monday, including Chicago native and former Cubs manager Hank O'Day.

O'Day will enter the Hall along with former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, who acquired Babe Ruth, and Deacon White, a 19th century star, July 28 in Cooperstown.

While he will be recognized on his plaque as a 30-year umpire, O'Day began in baseball as a pitcher, managed the Cubs in 1914 and later served as a scout. He was chosen to umpire the first modern World Series in 1903.

A 16-member panel of Hall of Famers, executives and media elected the three from an original list of 10.

His most famous moment, however, was during the infamous Merkle Boner game. He was the umpire that scored the Cubs their final pennant...

Cubs 365, December 4

On this day in 1944, former Cubs catcher Roger Bresnahan passed away at the age of 65. He was elected into the Hall of Fame by the veterans committee the following year.

Roger Bresnahan was very proud of his Irish roots. He told everyone he was born in the Irish city of Tralee. That led to his awesome baseball nickname: the Duke of Tralee. It wasn't until after he died, that his friends and former teammates discovered that Roger was actually born and raised in Toledo, Ohio.

Despite that little deception, Bresnahan was one of the all-time great catchers. He was Christy Mathewson's catcher with the New York Giants, and was involved in that infamous Merkle Boner game in 1908. It wasn't until his last three years in the big leagues that he came to Chicago. He wasn't the same player by then, but was still revered for his smarts and moxie.

So much so, the Cubs eventually hired him to manage the team. He was their player/manager for the 1915 season and led them to a fourth place finish. That was the final season in West Side Grounds. The next year the Cubs moved into what is now known as Wrigley Field.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Father Knows Nothing

This week's Father Knows Nothing column is called "Talking 'Bout My G-G-Generation"

You can read it here.

The Tweeting Pope

Beginning next week, the Pope is going to be tweeting in 8 different languages via his personal handle @Pontifex.

I don't know what the tweets will be about, but I do know that they will be infallible.

The Kennedy Center Honors

This years honorees are typically eclectic: David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, Buddy Guy, and ballerina Natalia Makarova.

The broadcast is December 26th on CBS.

Cubs 365, December 3

On this day in 1991, the Cubs signed free agent pitcher Mike Morgan. Morgan delivered the best season of his 22-year big league career for the Cubs, winning 16 games in 1992.

Mike Morgan shared the record for playing on the most different teams, until that record was broken by relief pitcher Octavio Dotel in 2012. Dotel has now pitched for 13 different teams. Morgan merely pitched for 12 (Oakland, Yankees, Toronto, Seattle, Baltimore, LA, Cubs, St. Louis, Cinci, Minnesota, Texas, and Arizona). In his 21st season in baseball he pitched in his one and only World Series for his 12th and final big league team. He made three scoreless appearances for the eventual World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks.

It's a Wonderful Life, the Radio Performance

It's become an annual tradition.

Joliet radio station WJOL (AM 1340) stages a live radio performance of "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Rialto Square Theater on December 14th. Tickets are available.

My old pal Andi Kuhn is a member of the cast.


A charity concert is being held on that memorable date for the victims of Hurricane (or Superstorm or whatever we're calling it now) Sandy. The RAMP Newsletter has the details this morning...

The caliber of artists who have agreed to step up and participate in the upcoming 12-12-12 (A Concert For Sandy Relief) event at New York's Madison Square Garden makes this show truly an A-list extravaganza -- we're talking Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, The Who, Dave Grohl, Alicia Keys, Roger Waters, Kanye West and Eddie Vedder who have already been announced, and more big names are set to follow. 12-12-12 is a collaborative production by James Dolan, Executive Chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, John Sykes, President of Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises and Harvey Weinstein, Co-Founder and Chairman of The Weinstein Company.
Proceeds from the show will help raise money to provide assistance to the millions of people throughout the tri-state area who have been so hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy.

Jimmy Stewart

He wasn't a movie star, but he did lead a wonderful life.

His name was Jimmy Stewart, and he passed away this week in Florida at the age of 73.

(Photo: 1965 Topps Baseball Card)

Green White History

One of my on-going writing projects is writing the history of Green White Soccer Club, a club co-founded by my father in the 1950s. Each month I write about one year in the club's long history.

This month it's 1970.