Friday, March 20, 2015

That's Mark Prior?

RIP Michael Brown

I'll admit I didn't know Michael, but I did know three of the songs he brought into this world. Ron Smith reported the news on his facebook page this morning...

Michael Brown (nee Michael Lookofsky), keyboardist with the Left Banke and Stories, died Thursday of unknown causes. He was 65. Michael’s father, a session violinist, owned a recording studio in New York and produced, published and managed the baroque-oriented Left Banke when they formed in 1965. Michael wrote their two hits-- “Walk Away Renee” (#5-1966) and “Pretty Ballerina” (#15-1967), but when he recorded another-- “Ivy Ivy” (#119-1967) using studio musicians, the resulting friction caused the group to disband (though they later reformed without Michael and without any more hits). He went on to play with Montage before joining Stories, having been introduced to Ian Lloyd by their fathers. He stayed with the group for their first album and first three singles, including “I’m Coming Home” (#42-1972) and “Brother Louie” (#1-1973-- which initially was missing from the album). After forming the unsuccessful group, the Beckies in 1976, he eventually gave up music.

I owned this 45 RPM...

Toilet Paper Controversy Finally Ended

It's an age old argument...does the toilet paper roll go over or under? I'm an under guy myself, and according to the original patent (which was unearthed this week) I've been doing it incorrectly for more than 50 years.

I blame my mother.

First day of (Jack) Spring!

Happy First day of Spring, on behalf of the only Cub ever named Spring….

~Jack Spring (Cubs 1964)
He pitched for seven teams in his eight big league seasons, and for exactly one month that team was the Cubs. They acquired Jack in May of 1964, and he pitched in seven games over the next few weeks. But then on June 15, 1964, Spring was called into the manager’s office and told he had been traded again. This time he was the throw-in in the trade that sent Lou Brock to the Cardinals. In St. Louis, Spring won a ring (although he didn’t make the postseason roster that year). Not sure what happened to that Brock character. One of the most miraculous stats of Jack’s career is this little tidbit: He once went 19 consecutive outings without recording a strikeout. That’s the longest streak since 1957.

NCAA Basketball

For the first time since 1981 (no joke), I didn't fill out an NCAA bracket this year. I feared it would make the experience less enjoyable, but I was wrong. I rooted for all the upsets and had a great time.

What a great event this is.

Even if it feels a little hollow without a certain team from downstate Illinois.

Ben Finfer back at ESPN

Last we heard from Ben Finfer he was finding out live on the air (from a Robert Feder tweet) that he was about to be fired. You probably remember the video--it went viral. Robert Feder has another scoop about Finfer today. He will be filling in at ESPN for a few days next week. It appears that he may get more time on the air there soon. I'm sure Feder got a kick out of scooping Finfer again. I found out by seeing it on Finfer's facebook page: "I was going to announce this later today, but naturally Feder beat me to it."

Finfer is a smart guy, a good broadcaster, and is highly regarded by his former colleagues. I'm hoping this part-time gig leads to something a little more permanent. (I interviewed Ben for Chicago Radio Spotlight about five years ago. That interview is here.)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dylan Gardner

Looking forward to this show at the Beat Kitchen next Thursday night. John Landecker will introduce Dylan, and I'll be interviewing both of them for an upcoming article. Come on out if you like good pop music. Dylan is signed to Warner Brothers records...

AA Might Not Be The Only Way

Let me preface this by saying that I personally know at least a dozen people who were saved by AA. They swear by it. They attend regular meetings. They seem totally genuine and I have no reason to doubt them. I ask a ton of questions whenever I run into someone in the program--so many questions they probably think I'm ready to go there myself. (No. At least not yet. But never say never.) The reason I ask so many questions is because I also know a few who went the AA route and it wasn't successful for them, and I'm trying to figure out why.

This article in the Atlantic questions AA's results--and points to a few other potential treatment options. I have no idea if the writer's assumptions about AA are true or not (and neither does the writer--the second A in AA stands for anonymous--which means the actual results cannot be known or tested), I simply present it for those of you who have tried AA (maybe even multiple times) without success.

It's a subject near to my heart because alcohol led directly to the death of a person I loved very much. I don't want to disregard any possible cure or remedy. I'm encouraged by the science-based brain research at the heart of these new approaches. Maybe it will work for you.

Please don't get me wrong here. I'm not trying to besmirch AA. I have a ton of respect for anyone who has the courage to do whatever is necessary to stop--and AA has worked for many of them--including some very close friends of mine. My goal in sharing this article is to point out that failing at AA doesn't mean it's time to give up on life and just succumb to the bottle. If might just mean that a different path could be better for you.

Eddie V

Eddie Volkman recorded his first podcast yesterday. Eddie will be the subject of my April column at the Illinois Entertainer. Tony Lossano posted this photo on Twitter...

Every Cub Ever (T)

Today we feature EVERY CUB EVER beginning with the letter T. Everyone from Jerry Tabb to Mike Tyson–73 entries in all.

What will you find there? A Hall of Famer, 18 classic baseball cards, eight Cubs named Taylor, five videos, two classic audio clips, the man who hit one of the most famous homers in history, a 1908 Cub, two brothers, the winner of the double-no-hitter game, two Japanese players, a broadcaster, a manager, a celebrity fan, a Cubs scribe, plus Chink, Dirt, Rainbow and Bird Eye.

Check it out here.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

There's some star power again this year. From the RAMP Newsletter...

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced most of the presenters and performers for the 30th Annual Induction Ceremony, which is scheduled for April 18 at Cleveland's Public Hall -- all part of Cleveland Rock Week -- the event will be heavy on star power, not the least of which will be the appearance of both surviving Beatles, as Sir Paul McCartney has graciously agreed to induct Ringo Starr. McCartney did the same for John Lennon in 1994. Stevie Wonder will induct Bill Withers; Patti Smith will induct the late Lou Reed; Peter Wolf will induct The Paul Butterfield Blues Band; Fall Out Boy will induct Green Day; John Mayer will induct the late Stevie Ray Vaughan and Steve Cropper will induct the "5" Royales. Joan Jett's inductor is still TBA.
The list of performers announced so far include Beck, Dave Grohl, Joe Walsh, Tom Morello, John Legend, Stevie Ray's big brother Jimmie Vaughan and more TBA!

Zander Gets New Gig

My old colleague from the Loop, Mark Zander, has a new gig. He's the program director of the new station run by Me-Tv. Radio Online has the details...

Weigel Broadcasting's Classic Pop 87.7 MeTV FM/Chicago hires veteran programmer Mark Zander as Program Director and Mike Horn as Imaging Director. Zander most recently was PD/afternoon talent at crosstown Classic Rock WERV-FM (95.9 The River) and Rock WRXQ-FM (QRock 100.7). He joined the Digity duo in October, 2010, was elevated to PD or WERV in early, 2011, adding Classic Rock WRXQ-FM programming duties the following September. Prior to that, he served as PD of Classic Rock WRXQ-FM/Joliet, IL.

"I have long-admired the work Neal Sabin has done on the television side with Weigel Broadcasting. I'm excited to be a part of bringing the MeTV brand to the radio, and beyond," said Zander.

Congrats to Mark.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Wrigley Videoboard

The Tribune has the dimensions, and an analysis of what it takes to run a board like this.

It doesn't really get into the pros and cons, except to note that it won't cause more noise for the neighborhood. I've never been concerned about the neighborhood, myself. Unless they moved there in 1913, they should have known what they were getting into.

I'm more concerned about the in-stadium experience. I'm still torn on this. My seats will look directly at this new video board. I'm still processing whether that's a pro or a con.

Piers Morgan on Heather Mills

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: Check out this great article by Piers Morgan.

It's about Heather Mills (Paul McCartney's second wife), and yes, it's a little mean (the headline is: Greedy, ghastly, lying fantasist - and those are just Heather Mills' good points! But at least she gives us all a laugh)

But Piers is the one that introduced Mills and McCartney, so he has some credibility in this area. Of course, I'm a Paul fan, so I may be a little biased about the article's conclusions.

Why is this newsreader's photo going viral?

Do you think the designer of her top did it on purpose?

A Nice Father/Son Moment

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

RIP Jack Haley

This is shocking news. Former Chicago Bull Jack Haley dropped dead yesterday at the age of 51. (My age, by the way). The cause of death was heart disease. Here's the official announcement from the Lakers...

It is with great sadness that the Haley family announces the passing of our beloved father, son, and brother. Our hearts are broken by this sudden, unexpected loss. Jack was honored and grateful for the opportunity to play in the NBA for nine years, alongside world-class athletes with the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, and New Jersey Nets. He cherished every moment and gave 100% whether on or off the court. And more than anything, Jack dearly loved his family. We are humbled and grateful for the outpouring of love, support, and prayers form around the country. An autopsy revealed cause of death as a result of heart disease.

Bulls beat writer Sam Smith has a great piece about Haley at

Jack Haley, the onetime Chicago Bull who played parts of nine NBA seasons with four NBA teams and the Bulls twice, died Tuesday at 51. The cause was believed to be a heart attack.

Ironic and sad, really, because few had more heart, the way we use it colloquially in sports, more than Jack.

You’ll read and hear about Haley being the caddie or babysitter for Dennis Rodman on the champion 1996 Bulls, being the guy who waved the towel enthusiastically from the bench, sort of a 12th man punch line. That was Haley, sure. But there was much more to Jack and why in many respects, as much as Rodman and Michael Jordan and college teammate Reggie Miller and so many of the great players of that era, Jack was a guy to admire and respect and perhaps more so a model for the rest of us.

We couldn’t be like Mike.

We could be like Jack.

Read the entire piece. There are some great stories about him there. RIP, Jack. We'll always remember you in Chicago.

Truffle Hunt

Our latest book is getting a great response...

RIP Andy Frasur

Former Free bassist Andy Frasur has passed away. From All Access...

London-born ANDY FRASER, a child prodigy who played with JOHN MAYALL’S BLUESBREAKERS before his 16th birthday, then joined FREE as a bass player, where he created the famous riff in “All Right Now,” passed away in his TEMECULA, CA, home of unknown causes at the age of 62. After moving to CALIFORNIA, he wrote hits for ROBERT PLAMER (“Every Kinda People”), JOE COCKER, CHAKA KHAN, ROD STEWART and PAUL YOUNG. FRASER contracted a rare form of cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, in the ‘80s, and was diagnosed with AIDS shortly after coming out as a homosexual. Up until his passing, he was considered the “poster child” for living with AIDS and not have it be a death sentence.

If he did nothing else in his life, this incredible riff on "All Right Now" made him an indispensible part of rock and roll history...

Every Cub Ever (S)

Today we feature EVERY CUB EVER beginning with the letter S. Everyone from Vic Saier to Matt Szczur–206 entries in all.

What will you find there? Five Hall of Famers, 31 classic baseball cards, 22 videos, 16 Cubs named Smith, seven Celebrity fans, five 1908 Cubs, five classic audio clips, 5 Cubs named Stephenson, three broadcasters, three scribes, three 1945 Cubs, three 1969 Cubs, two executives, a kidnapper, an evangelist, the wrong Sewell, the man who created a presidential scandal, plus Grumpy, Bear Tracks and the Brat.

Check it out here.

Don't Criticize Fox News

From Politico this morning...Writer/blogger Mickey Kaus has quit the Daily Caller because editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson pulled a column criticizing Fox News. Here's an excerpt from the Politico piece...

"It's pretty simple," Kaus said in an interview, "I wrote a piece attacking Fox for not being the opposition on immigration and amnesty -- for filling up the airwaves with reports on ISIS and terrorism, and not fulfilling their responsibility of being the opposition on amnesty and immigration.... I posted it at 6:30 in the morning. When I got up, Tucker had taken it down. He said, 'We can't trash Fox on the site. I work there.'"

Kaus says when he told Carlson he needed to be able to write about Fox, Carlson told him it was a hard-and-fast rule, and non-negotiable.

Kaus will now publish his columns exclusively on Kausfiles, a blog that was previously featured on Slate. But he said that Fox News' influence over The Daily Caller was indicative of a larger problem in conservative media.

"It's a larger problem on the right: Everybody is scared of Fox," he said. "Fox is their route to a high-profile public image and in some cases stardom. Just to be on a Fox show is a big deal. And I think that's a problem on the right, Fox's monopoly on star-making power."

This is a fascinating piece on so many levels. On the one hand, Kaus believes that a "news" organization has a "responsibility to be the opposition" on every issue. Um, no. They are supposed to report the news. And Carlson is explicitly saying that his "news" aggregating website will never criticize Fox News.

And some people in this country actually believe they are getting real news from the conservative press.

FCC Chairman Grilled

The FCC Chairman had to face questioning yesterday from angry Republicans who are doing the bidding of the three or four multi-billion dollar corporations that are stuffing their pockets with campaign cash. But to me, the most interesting part of the questioning was when they asked him if John Oliver from HBO had caused this...

There was a question to FCC Chair Wheeler about the effect of John Oliver’s audience registering their feelings on big ISPs charging extra fees. (In other words, if the FCC didn’t protect net neutrality, in Oliver’s view.) Wheeler says the total volume of four million filings during last year’s comment period “broke our system.” He also says the comments “ran about 3-to-1 in favor” of his general vision of Net Neutrality. Wheeler admits he heard from the White House, but that he only met with the President in the Oval Office once, just as he was talking office. House Republicans kept bringing up the number of times Wheeler heard from White House staffers, but Wheeler good-naturedly says that’s nothing new for an FCC Chairman – and it happened under Republican presidents. He’s been around Washington for most of 40 years and he doesn’t exactly need the paycheck at the Commission. As one friendly Democratic member put it in a series of questions, Wheeler once led the trade associations of both the cable and the wireless industries – so he wouldn’t do something that would harm the Internet. He aims to put a consumer-friendly “light touch” on Title II regulation, as if the Internet were a utility. He told yesterday’s hearing he had just four aims - “no blocking, no throttling, no prioritized fast lane, and transparency.” (Source: Tom Taylor's NOW Newsletter)

Get it straight, fellas. Once it's actually explained, people want this. We're not 3-1 in favor of anything these days. That might as well be 100%.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Drinking Songs

I've done this improv bit before--it's way harder than it looks. These guys are good.

St. Patrick's Day

I'm not Irish, but I did marry a redheaded Irish girl. Happy St. Patrick's Day!


For St. Patrick's Day Just One Bad Century features EVERY CUB EVER with the name of Pat.

What will you find there? A football Hall of Famer (that's right), a broadcaster, a heavy drinker, a public address announcer, a 1908 Cub, and Mr. Clutch.

Check it out here.

Chicago Radio Ratings

From this morning's Tom Taylor column...

Chicago – Lousy weather and a solid news image keep CBS Radio’s all-news WBBM (780 AM and 105.9 FM) at the top with its largest PPM ever, 5.7-7.2-7.4. Second is iHeart urban AC “V103” WVAZ (6.7-6.2-6.3) and third is Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX (4.1-5.2-5.2). The next grouping starts a full share down at 4.2, with iHeart CHR “Kiss” WKSC (3.8-4.0-4.2). Fifth is hot AC/former all-Christmas sister WLIT (14.2-4.5-4.1). Cumulus classic hits WLS-FM shakes off a Blue Christmas and improves with at-work listening (2.6-3.3-3.7). Tribune talker WGN endures another fluctuation as it adjusts personalities in middays and PM drive (2.8-3.5-3.1). Chicago Public Media’s news/talk non-com WBEZ finds new energy with its best topline since December 2008, 1.5-2.3-2.6. But it’s status quo for Cumulus talker WLS (1.2-1.1-1.2). The country story is CBS Radio’s incumbent “US 99.5” WUSN (2.6-3.3-2.8), iHeart’s upstart “Big” WEBG (1.6-1.0-1.7) and Digity’s suburban WCCQ (0.5-0.6-0.5). CHR Kiss owns the cume crown at 2,340,400.

An even more in-depth analysis is here at Chicagoland Radio and Media. According to this, WGN has fallen out of the top ten completely.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Back in the Top 100

Father Knows Nothing is back in the amazon top 100 in the parenting category. Thanks again to Rick Kogan for the pub last night!

Obama Does Stand Up

President Obama spoke at the Gridiron Dinner over the weekend and did a good job of peeling off some one-liners. He has some pretty good comedy writers on staff. My favorite jokes are below, but the entire transcript is here....

*This is my third appearance at this dinner as President. And I predict you will laugh harder than ever. I’m not saying I’m any funnier. I’m saying weed is now legal in D.C.

*Now, let’s face it, being President does age you. I mean, look at me. I was hoping Fred Thompson would be the Republican speaker so I could buy a reverse mortgage. You start getting crankier as you get older. Next week, I’m signing an executive order to get off my lawn. And getting older changes you. For example, coffee really disagrees with me these days — which is why John Boehner just invited coffee to address the joint House.

*Despite a great performance tonight, Scott (Walker) has had a few recent stumbles. The other week he said he didn’t know whether or not I was a Christian. And I was taken aback, but fortunately my faith teaches us forgiveness. So, Governor Walker, as-salamu alaykum...And, finally, Governor Walker got some heat for staying silent when Rudy Giuliani said I don’t love America — which I also think is a problem. Think about it, Scott — if I did not love America, I wouldn’t have moved here from Kenya.

*We just had an election. This new Congress is just getting started, which is why I want to acknowledge the leader of the House Republicans — as soon as I figure out who that is. The fact is, I really genuinely like John Boehner. But from your press reports, I gather he may be in real trouble. Over the past several weeks, many of you have been writing about a possible conservative coup — or as Bill O’Reilly calls it, “reporting from the war zone.”

Sponsor a Letter

Just One Bad Century is now offering chances to sponsor our popular series EVERY CUB EVER. Nerds have money too! :) (I'm allowed to say that--I'm a nerd myself).

Details in the graphic below. Click on it to enlarge the photo. Your company can get a banner ad, sponsor one of our videos, or even sponsor an entire letter of the EVERY CUB EVER alphabet...

Truffle Hunt

It's flyin' off the shelves. Way to go, Brent Petersen!

Join the Truffle Hunters by ordering the book here.

Creepy Kiss Alert

I was on Twitter yesterday and saw this tweet from Jimmy Greenfield...

Yuuuuck. It inspired me to respond with the following tweet...

5 Indiana Schools?

I'll admit I lost interest in college basketball this season when my Illini started sucking up the joint, but I did watch the Big Ten final yesterday, and I also watched the unveiling of this year's brackets.

Zero schools from Illinois made the tournament this year. Zero.

Five schools from Indiana did, and all of them are in the Midwest Bracket. Congrats to Indiana, Purdue, Butler, and Valparaiso.

I guess I should congratulate Notre Dame too. I should. But I won't.

The Jinx is Busted!

HBO aired the final episode of the Jinx last night, and it ended with a bombshell. Robert Durst said: "I killed them all"

By the end of the night, he was arrested and charged with murder. Incredible.

The Washington Post has all the details.

Behind the Scenes at WGN Radio

I was on Rick Kogan's show last night on WGN Radio in Chicago. I brought my son Tommy along to take some pictures and suck in the atmosphere.

Rick likes to broadcast in the 7th floor studio in the Tribune Tower instead of the showcase studio on Michigan Avenue, and this was my first time doing a show there. The atmosphere was incredibly relaxed, and Rick made me feel at home right away. I've gotten to know him pretty well over the past 20 years and there was a lot to talk about.

We discussed my book "Father Knows Nothing" of course. Kogan was the first interviewer to really get to the heart of this book. He realized that it was inspired by my own father, and he could feel the specter of my dad throughout. He read excerpts and was very kind, calling it my "best book ever." But the highlight of the interview for me was when he called Tommy to the microphone and interviewed him about what it was like to have a book written about him. This boy who was literally on the radio when he was only 2 hours old, performed very well. I was proud of him.

But more importantly, he was flying high. The kid (not so much a kid anymore--he's 19) who never gets excited about anything was REALLY excited on his way out the door. "Dad," he said, putting his hand on my shoulder, "That was soooo cool."

So, it looks like I have another reason to be a Rick Kogan fan. He's always been very supportive of me and my writing career. In fact, he's the one that gave me the idea to start Eckhartz Press in the first place. He gave me a great review of The Living Wills for the book jacket. He had me on the show to promote "$everance". He did the best interview of John Records Landecker when "Records Truly Is My Middle Name" came out. And I appreciate all of those things.

But putting Tommy on the air is the nicest thing he's ever done.

For one day, I'm a hero in my house.

Thanks so much for that, Rick.

(When the podcast is posted on the WGN website, I'll post it here too.)

Every Cub Ever (R)

Today Just One Bad Century features EVERY CUB EVER beginning with the letter R. Everyone from Dick Radatz to Jae Kuk Ryu–109 entries in all.

What will you find there? A Hall of Famer, 20 classic baseball cards, 11 videos, two incredibly notorious fans, four executives, two managers, two Cub scribes, the most famous Cubs broadcaster ever, two brothers, three Cubs named Rice, a 1908 Cub, two 1969 Cubs, a current Cubs star, a Cub born in Germany, a Cubs artist, a fictional character, and the pitcher who served up Babe Ruth’s alleged called shot.

Check it out here.

How to Write a Love Song

Right on the money.

The Real Pi

I heard an excited "I GOT IT!" on Saturday night from my son's room. When I asked him why he was so excited, he showed me this photo. He got a picture of the exact second the digits of the day lined up with the number Pi: 3.141592653.

He said "I know, I'm the biggest nerd ever."

To which I replied: "I just spent an entire year writing bios of every Cub ever. Let's call it a draw."