Friday, May 06, 2016

Pat Colander on WGN Radio

Tune in to WGN radio on Sunday night from 9-10pm and listen to the legendary Rick Kogan interview Eckhartz Press author Pat Colander about her book "Hugh Hefner’s First Funeral and other True Tales of Love and Death in Chicago".

The 20-Strikeout Game

May 6, 1998

It happened on this day, 18 years ago. I was there, sitting in my regular seats, freezing my butt off that day. I must confess, I didn’t recognize at first the magnitude of what I was watching. I remember thinking, “boy he’s got a lot of strikeouts,” but I had no idea he had as many as he did.

At one point I leaned forward and tapped the shoulder of the guy sitting in front of me. He was listening to the game on the radio.

“How many strikeouts does Wood have?” I asked him.

“12,” he answered.

That’s when I really started paying attention. The Astros, it should be noted, were in first place, and had a very formidable lineup that day including Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Derek Bell, and Moises Alou.

You could almost feel the ballpark catching on to what was happening, slowly but surely. With each successive strikeout, the cheers got louder and louder. This might have been the most dominating performance in baseball history. The Astros only managed to hit it out of the infield twice, two weak fly balls. Wood only allowed two runners, a squib infield hit by Ricky Gutierez, and a hit-by-pitch to Craig Biggio.

In the ninth, the few thousand of us who braved the really horrible weather conditions to stay, all rose to our feet as Wood struck out pinch hitter Billy Spiers for his 19th strikeout. We applauded when Biggio grounded out.

And we roared when Wood struck out Derek Bell to end the game.

20 strikeouts.

A game I’ll never forget.

Landecker & Travolta

One of the biggest moments in John Landecker's career happened on this day in 1976, when a sleepy little personal appearance at Woodfield Mall with John Travolta unexpectedly turned into a 30,000-fan-screaming-free for all. That great story is told in his book "Records Truly Is My Middle Name" (available at Eckhartz Press)

Why do people hate politicians?

I think I know why people hate politicians.

Let's take former Texas Governor Rick Perry as an example. A few months ago he described Trump as a "toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense". Yesterday he endorsed him and said he'd be willing to serve as his VP.

I'm surprised he didn't get whiplash.

Coming Soon to HBO: Jon Stewart

And it could be before the November election.

I sure hope so. I miss him terribly.

Minitua Men!

The first episode has been posted and is getting good reaction.

It's 32 minutes long, if you'd like to listen to it here.

We cover five main stories--a gun-toting 11-year old, dirty Shakespeare, pizza squared, the Haymarket Riots (and their connection to the Cubs), and my brush with celebrity story is about Harry Caray.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Carpool Karioke

There are surprise guests in this one. Just in case you don't like surprises, the guests are George Clooney and Julia Roberts. If you do like surprises, then, well, whoops.

Around the Publishing World (May 5)

At Chicago Author Solutions (a division of Eckhartz Press), we stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.

1. Three Social Media Tips For Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
The life of the kid lit author is not the same as the rest of us. There are a few additional things that need to be considered when dealing with social media, for instance.

2. 10 Things An Author Should Never Do On Twitter
We all know how important social media is to promoting our work, but we do really take it as seriously as we should? Social Media Just For Writers has some excellent advice for mainstream authors.

3. How writing a novel is different than writing Danger Mouse
Naturally, there's only two people who know the difference. The writers of Danger Mouse, Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby.

4. Late Night Writing Tips
Not tips for writing late at night, tips for writing for late-night television.

5. Unblocking Writer's Block
I'll keep linking to these articles whenever I find them, because there is no one correct way of doing it, and it varies for everyone. Maybe one of these tips will help you.

6. Tips from John Grisham
What can you learn from the best selling author of the past few decades? There's gotta be a few things, right?

7. Planning your audio book can make you a better writer
An interesting concept. Reading your writing aloud can do more than prepare you for the audio book. It shows you the holes in your writing.

8: Survival Tips for writing your book
This is the kind of advice that comes in handy for people who have never gone through the process before.

9. Q&A with Eckhartz Press author Jeanne Bellezzo
The Chicago-born San Diego resident answers questions about her provocative new book.

Cinco De Mayo

On this Cinco de Mayo we celebrate all of the Mexican-born players who have played for the Cubs. There have only been six of them...

~Hector Torres 1945 (Cubs 1971)
The Cubs aquired Torres in a straight shortstop for shortstop swap with the Houston Astros. The Astros got Roger Metzger in return. Torres hit .224 backing up Don Kessinger and Glenn Beckert in 1971. It was the Mexico native's only season with the Cubs. Metzger, meanwhile, was the Astros starting shortstop for the next seven years, and won a Gold Glove. Torres was nicknamed "La Malita". (Photo Topps 1971 Baseball Card)

~Jesse Flores 1914 (Cubs 1942)
The first Mexican-born pitcher in big league history made his debut with the Cubs during the war. He only pitched in four games and posted an ERA of 3.38 before the Cubs sent him down for more seasoning. He later pitched for the A's and the Indians. After his playing career, Jesse became one of the best scouts in baseball. His signings for the Minnesota Twins included Bert Blyleven, Lyman Bostock, Bill Campbell, Rick Dempsey, and Jesse Orosco.

~Daniel Garibay 1973 (Cubs 2000)
Garibay was born and raised in Mexico, and didn't get his first shot at Major League Baseball until he was 27 years old. The Cubs used him as a spot starter and a reliever, and he didn't do well in either role. He went 2-8 with an ERA over 6.

~Rodrigo Lopez 1975 (Cubs 2011-2012)
The Mexican-born Lopez was a two-time 15-game winner for the Orioles, but by the time he came to the Cubs, he was getting by on fumes. In 30 appearances over two seasons his ERA was over 6, and he allowed 18 homers. Chicago was the last stop of his big league career.

~Horacio Pina 1945 (Cubs 1974)
The Mexican-born Pina was acquired from the Oakland A's for Bob Locker in November of 1973. He was only two years removed from his most productive season in the big leagues, when he saved 15 games for the Rangers, and a month removed from contributing to the 1973 World Series Champion Oakland A's, but he was a total bust for the Cubs. In 59 innings pitched, he allowed an astounding 89 baserunners. Not the kind of numbers you need from someone you expect to be a key member of your late inning bullpen. The Cubs traded him to the Angels by the end of July. After the season, Horacio went back to his native Mexioo. He pitched a no-hitter there in 1975, and a perfect game in 1978. (Photo: 1974 Topps "Traded" Baseball Card)

~Ismael Valdez 1973 (Cubs 2000)
The Cubs acquired the former 15-game winner along with Eric Young, and immediately placed him in the starting rotation. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Valdez developed blister problems and had a hard time staying healthy. He won a grand total of two games in Chicago. Before the season was over, they traded him back to the Dodgers. He later pitched for the Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Padres and Marlins. He won 104 big league games, but he also lost 105. He was known as “The Rocket”.

Don't Miss Him

I was never a huge Samardzija fan, and not only because I still have to double check how to spell it. This is a Zambrano-esque moment for SF...

The Person Who Made the 9-1-1 Call for Prince Was There to Save Him

This is a tragic twist to an already tragic story.

The person who found Prince and made the 9-1-1 call, was sent to Prince's home by Prince's staff to help save him from opiate addiction. He just arrived a few hours too late.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has the story.

Caitlyn Jenner to Pose Nude

Sports Illustrated is having her pose with only her gold medal (won in the 1976 Olympics when she was Bruce) and the American flag. It's in honor of the 40th anniversary of her Olympic achievement.

I'm sure the gold medal will be strategically placed to avoid impropriety.

Unfortunately, she only won one. I hope they choose the medal's location wisely.

A Tearjerker

(Thanks to "DS" for this one)

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Minutia Men Are Coming!

Thanks so much to Larz at Chicagoland Radio & Media for this nice mention of my podcast Minutia Men, which debuts tomorrow on the Radio Misfits Podcast Network...

* * Rick Kaempfer and David Stern, lifelong friends and Eckhartz Press co-publishers, announced they will be creating a new weekly podcast of their own entitled "Minutia Men." Kaempfer is also the Media columnist for the Illinois Entertainer and longtime Chicago radio producer. The new show is produced by Tony Lossano and his Oppih Productions. Among the regular segments planned for "Minutia Men" include "This Week's Minutia" (small news stories from the week before), "Just One Bad Century" (Cubs talk, based on Kaempfer's website of the same name), "Balds in the News" (Stern's discussion about the follicle challenged), "Celebrity Potpourri" (Kaempfer's brushes with fame stories), "Father Knows Nothing" (humorous parenting stories, based on Kaempfer's book of the same name), and "Million Dollar Idea" (one of Stern's numerous ideas floating around his head). "Minutia Men" episodes will be posted up each Thursday on the Radio Misfits Podcast Network website. The debut episode will be posted on May 5th.

Super Bee!

The superhero bee pulls a nail right out of the wall...

Just Drying It, Right?

Presumptive Nominee

Ted Cruz had a bad day yesterday. After Donald Trump basically accused Cruz' father of being involved in the JFK assassination, Cruz went nuts. He called Trump "a pathelogical liar" and "a serial philanderer" and "utterly amoral".

Then, he lost Indiana to the guy. So, he dropped out of the race. Now he will probably have to call Trump "his candidate". (By the way...I know this happens in every election to a lesser extent, but after some of the things his fellow Republicans have said about Trump, how in the world can they possibly vote for him? They will, though.)

Anyway, the thing that was interesting to me as a media analyst, was the discussion of the word "presumptive nominee". Each of the networks had a slightly different take on it. TV Newser has the details.

As far as I'm concerned, it's just a matter of semantics at this point. It looks like it will be Trump vs. Clinton--the two most disliked candidates in history.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Kevin Koz Koske

My May media column has been posted at the Illinois Entertainer.

This month I spoke with Mix afternoon man, Kevin "Koz" Koske.

You can read it here.

Little Richard is Gravely Ill

According to this piece in the Mercury News, Little Richard is very ill. He's had a stroke, a heart attack, and hip surgery in recent years. He's 83 years old.

I met him once at an Oldies concert we did during my WJMK days. At that time, he was a sight to behold. I just remember thinking "his head is huge!"--it's abnormally large. He also wore more makeup than any woman I've ever met. It was thick pancake makeup. But when he got on stage...yowza. He was still absolutely electric well into his 70s.

My conversation with him was brief, but it was long enough to figure out a few things. One, he considers himself the architect of rock and roll, and two, he is a little bitter that he isn't credited as such. He mentioned it several times in the two minute conversation I had with him. But here's the thing about Richard...he's right. His early records (and Chuck Berry's) really are the building blocks of the art form.


Thanks to "OG" for this one. Truer words have never been spoken...

Great Story About Prince

This is the best Prince story I've heard since his passing...


A song about a generation...

As the Sumner Turns

Sumner Redstone will be deposed by the lawyer of his former "companion" as part of the resolution of her lawsuit, according to this piece in the New York Times.

The man is 92 years old and can barely speak. The deposition will be painful.


Doggone it. It's happened now. I've actually started feeling sorry for Redstone. After reading his autobiography, I never dreamed such a thing could be possible. He really comes off as a despicable man in that book; greedy, vain, nasty, vengeful, and utterly without a conscience...and he wrote it himself.

But even he shouldn't be forced to go through this simply because his family is too greedy to pay off the too greedy former companion. There's plenty of dirty money to go around, y'all. No need to humiliate an old man in order to get it. Even if that old man is a real-life Mr. Potter.

Leicester City Wins the Premier League

I watched the Tottenham/Chelsea game yesterday and it was one of the roughest, nastiest games I've ever seen. Tottenham players gouged eyes, spiked hands, and tackled the Chelsea players like they were trying to break legs. It was clear that Chelsea successfully got under their skin, because Tottenham was the team that needed to win the game to keep their slim hopes of winning the Premier League alive.

They didn't.

The final score was 2-2, which gave the championship to Leicester City.

How big of an upset is it for Leicester City to win the championship? At the beginning of the season, their betting odds were 5000-1. They have never won it before. Never. And the club has been around for 132 years.

This is a bigger upset than the Cubs winning it all.

U of I Getting a New Mascot

Since the old mascot (The Chief) has been banned, the University of Illinois is looking for a new mascot. Details are here.

My college buddy Brent suggests we make it the "apple pipe". We were, after all, named the best party school in the country this year. It can have a smile, and smoke coming out of the side of it's head. Just camp him out at the concession stand for the kids who get the munchies. It's medicinal (and therefore legal). In fact, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Can't get more wholesome.

RIP Peter Thomas

You may not recognize his name, but you'd certainly recognize his voice. Peter Thomas was a legendary voice over artist, and he passed away this weekend at the age of 91.

He's the voice on this commercial...

Monday, May 02, 2016

Q&A with the latest Eckhartz Press author: Jeanne Bellezzo

Jeanne's "Rantings of a Bitter Childless Woman" is available for pre-order now at Eckhartz Press. The book ships later this month. We recently chatted with her about her book, her background, and her sense of humor.


You're originally from Chicago. Where in the area did you grow up and how did Chicago influence the kind of writer you became?

Jeanne: I grew up on the Far Northwest Side – literally as far as you could go within the city limits. If you crossed Belmont Avenue, you were in River Grove. Across Cumberland Avenue was an unincorporated forest preserve. After college, I lived in DePaul and Lincoln Park for several years, and loved it.

So many of my friends and co-workers in Chicago were smart, quick-witted and somewhat sarcastic, but not in a mean or hurtful way. I live near San Diego now, and people often comment on how nice Chicagoans are! So I think that combination of witty but benign and often self-deprecating humor influenced my writing.

What other writing have you done before this?

Jeanne: I’m a professional freelance writer and editor, so I’ve written all kinds of advertising and marketing copy, website content, public relations campaigns, that kind of thing. I’ve also done ghostwriting and editing for several non-fiction books.

What inspired you to start the blog that eventually led to this book?

Jeanne:: I had written an email to one of my good friends (who has kids) about the child counting out change in the grocery store express lane (“Paper or Plastic?”), and I asked her if I sounded like a bitter old childless woman. It became kind of a theme. She though the email was funny, and I just started to write more of them.

How have your friends and family (who have kids) reacted to it? Do they see themselves in any of your stories?

Jeanne:: Well, a couple of them are the subjects of the stories! But they’re fine with it. They’re still speaking to me, anyway. I’ve found that parents who raise their kids to be considerate and kind feel the same way I do about parents who don’t.

What do you say to parents who are offended by your humor?

Jeanne: Fortunately, I haven’t come across that (yet). I’ve had people tell me that I don’t understand what it’s like to have kids, and they’re absolutely right. I’ve also heard that you become more tolerant when you have kids, which makes sense. I’m certainly not trying to offend anyone. It’s humor.

The demographic of people who have chosen not to have children is an all-time high. Have you found solidarity with that demo?

Jeanne:: I heard that recently and I was actually surprised, because I feel like most people I know do have kids. I’ve never felt judged by my friends who have kids; if I did, we probably wouldn’t be friends. I do have a group of close friends who aren’t parents, and we tend to get together more often than we do with our parent friends just because our lifestyles and schedules are different.

What's your favorite story in the book?

Jeanne:: I think that would be “Dying of Boredom” because so many people can relate to it, whether they remember playing The Alphabet Game on car trips as kids, or they have kids now who have more energy than they know what to do with. And, we still laugh about how we entertained the kids all day and then they wanted to “do something fun.” I also like “Table Manners” because everyone has their own similar story – especially people who work in restaurants.

What's next for you?

Jeanne:: Thinking about my next book…maybe Rantings of a Crazy Cat Lady?

No Bathroom Issues in Scotland

Thanks to "OR" for this one...

100 Year Old Bridges

Four Chicago Bridges turn 100 years old this week. Read all about them at DNAinfo.

The one on the left is the Kinzie Street Bridge in 1916.

Fight Breaks Out At Correspondent's Dinner After-Party

The fight was between ambush "journalist" Jesse Watters from Fox News and Huffington Post reporter Justine Grim. Here's what happened, according to the Washington Post...

Here’s how it went down, per several witness: Grim and Watters were among a group located in a heated tent just outside the main party area. The two apparently don’t have a personal relationship, but Grim realized who Watters was and recalled a beef he had with the “O’Reilly Factor” correspondent that dated back to 2009, when Watters, known as an “ambush journalist,” had engineered an on-camera confrontation of writer Amanda Terkel, now a HuffPo colleague of Grim. Terkel’s account of the incident was headlined “I Was Followed, Harassed, And Ambushed By Bill O’Reilly’s Producer.”

Grim decided to give Watters a taste of his own medicine, whipping out his camera phone and filming him. Watters didn’t take well to this, eventually snatching the phone away from Grim and putting it in his pocket. Grim set out to retrieve it, and a scuffle ensued. No cinematic sparring or broken beer bottles, witnesses said, but the two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people.

Watters says he will address it tonight on O'Reilly's show. I respect most people in the press, but not this guy. I've seen him in action and he's despicable. He's all about harrassing, insulting and pressuring--trying to get people to say something that can be taken out of context and used on the air. I call it "Do you still beat your wife?"-journalism.

The White House Correspondent's Dinner

Lots of uncomfortable chuckles...

The President did better than the professional comic...

Minutia Men on Lossano and Friends!

Dave and I made our official debut as guests on the Lossano and Friends! podcast. We appeared on the show with NBC's Lee Ann Trotter and stand up comedian Martin Morrow. You can listen to it here.

This Thursday we make our official debut on our show. The podcast will be called Minutia Men, and it will also air on the Radio Misfits Podcast network. I'll have all the information for you later this week.

A rare night out

This past weekend I made the trek to Elgin to see some old friends. The co-author of my first book, John Swanson, was performing with his band The Fireballs. So, I called up a couple of my old Loop buddies and we went out to see the show. It was great seeing everyone again.

Rick and Swany before the show...

Loop producers 25 years ago...Rick, Swany, and Jimmy "Bud" Wiser...

Rick and Mike "Igor" Davis (Kevin Matthews/Steve & Garry)

A tender moment between Wiser and Swany...

Swany in action...(that's him jamming in the front of the band)