Friday, December 02, 2011

The Catalyst Ranch

From the e-newsletter of the Catalyst Ranch, a chance to meet Eckhartz Press authors Brendan Sullivan and Rick Kaempfer in person at the very location they improvised the story lines of "The Living Wills"...

Match Books: THE LIVING WILLS by Brendan Sullivan & Rick Kaempfer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 6pm - 8pm

One novel, two authors!? Creativity coach Brendan Sullivan wants to show you, not tell you how he used the same techniques he brings to clients like Kellogg's, PepsiCo, GE and Harley-Davidson (improv, mind mapping and other ideation processes) to create a just-published novel with co-author, Rick Kaempfer. Much of the work was done during sessions right here at the Ranch! Join us as Brendan & Rick share these techniques with you and show you how to incorporate them into your life and work to be more creatively productive. Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune calls THE LIVING WILLS "rollicking and real on so many levels." This Match Books session is not to be missed!

Radio Interviews

Brendan Sullivan and I will begin making the media rounds promoting "The Living Wills" over the next few weeks if you're interested. So far, we've been booked on two shows.

On Wednesday night (December 7) we'll be on WGN Radio (Sports Night) with David Kaplan, Brian Noonan (photo), and Andrea Darlas at 9:00 PM. (I've interviewed all three of them at Chicago Radio Spotlight over the years. Click on their names to read those interviews)

On December 18th we'll be "Living Large with Geoff Pinkus" on WIND radio (560 AM) at 7:00 PM. (I've also interviewed Pinkus at Chicago Radio Spotlight)

Looking forward to both of those shows. We've got quite a few more in the pipeline, and I'll let you know as soon as they are officially confirmed.

Somebody Wants Soriano?

According to this report, three AL teams are interested in Alfonso Soriano. I imagine the conversations went something like this...

A.L GM: "What would it take to get Soriano from you?"

Theo: "Cough. Cough. Cough. Sorry. I just spit up my coffee. Did you say you wanted Soriano?"

Even if a team is willing to pay only a few million of his $14 million salary, and offers a crappy prospect that has virtually no hope of making the big leagues in return, I say take it.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Living Wills debuts!

Today is the day we get the actual copies of "The Living Wills" in our hands. The first press run will be picked up at the end of the day, and the large number of people that already ordered it (sheesh--thanks so much) will be getting their copies within a few days.

If you haven't ordered it yet, this is the only place to get it.

Chicagoland Radio & Media Gives Some Love to "The Living Wills"

All we can say is wow! Thanks so much to Larz at Chicagoland Radio & Media for this incredibly kind write up about "The Living Wills". (It looks so much nicer on his site here.. He has links to all of the different things he talks about in the text, and pictures of our middle-aged mugs.)

This is what he wrote...

Well-known blogger, author and former Chicago radio producer/personality, Rick Kaempfer has had a busy year. Not only has he started up a new book publishing company, but he authored all or part of a few new books, one of which gets released today.

Rick Kaempfer, along with his long time collaborator and friend David Stern, founded the new boutique book publishing company Eckhartz Press this year. The name comes from combining the first names of both founder's Fathers and features a logo of a laughing letter "E." The company has a handful of new books coming out by a few different authors.

The very first publishing from Eckhartz Press happens today, as the new novel "The Living Wills" is now released. The book was collaboratively written by both Rick Kaempfer and Brendan Sullivan.

Rick Kaempfer is, of course, the former radio producer for Chicago radio legends Steve & Garry (1987-1991) and John Records Landecker (1993-2003), among others, who also hosted and co-hosted his own radio shows on WLUP-FM/AM. After 20 years in radio, Kaempfer walked away to focus on raising his family, writing, co-owning an advertising agency that specialized in creative radio ads, and other pursuits. He was the author of the hilarious 2007 novel "$everance," which gained universal rave reviews for its satire of the current radio & media industry -- a subject he knew well. In 2004, he co-authored a different book on a subject he knew well, along with another well-known Chicago radio producer, John "Swany" Swanson, called "The Radio Producer's Handbook." That book has been called by many as the definitive how-to book on radio production. Kaempfer contributed to the 2008 book "Cubbie Blues: 100 Years of Waiting Till Next Year." He is the owner of the humorous Chicago Cubs history website Just One Bad Century. If that wasn't enough, Kaempfer is also a writer and contributing editor for the NW Indiana Times' Shore Magazine, a writer for NW Indiana Times Parent's blog "Father Knows Nothing," interviewer on his Chicago Radio Spotlight website, and a blogger on his own self-named site. Kaempfer won a National Writing Award for an essay written in 1999.

Brendan Sullivan is another veteran of Chicago radio. From 1991-2001, Sullivan was a producer and writer for the Jonathon Brandmeier Radio Showgram. In addition to producing, he would create pre-recorded bits, do on-air character voices, and help create the comedic atmosphere for the program. He has also done his fair share of acting, appearing in national television commercials, feature films, and on the live theater stage. Using his comic timing, Sullivan was a member of the improvisational group Blue Velveeta at Chicago's IO. Since 2002, he has been a successful creativity coach & corporate trainer. More information about Brendan Sullivan's "day job" can be found on his website.

Kaempfer & Sullivan met at WLUP-FM around 20 years ago and struck up a friendship. These two friends recently decided to try a new & innovative way to co-write a book together, using improv skills, brainstorming, mind mapping, and other idea-generating techniques. For "The Living Wills" novel, they came up with a storyline together -- three interweaving storylines, actually -- wrote chapters separately, and then collaborated on the editing, improving and combining of all parts.

The Eckhartz Press website describes the plot of then book this way: "'The Living Wills' is a story about a split-second decision made 30 years ago and the ripple effects it caused. Can the man who made that decision and the people he affected maneuver their way through a world of baristas and Army veterans, bowling teams and exploding port-a-potties, cartoon pirates and young love, to find the strength to heal before it's too late?"

"The Living Wills" is available as of today for only $15.95 and can be purchased online at this link HERE. The authors are hoping to have the e-book version of "The Living Wills" available by the end of December.

I'm not worthy. That is too kind.

David DeJesus?

The first signing of the Theo Epstein era is not exactly a blockbuster. They signed left-handed outfielder David DeJesus.

He had been with the KC Royals for eight seasons before going to Oakland last year. In his nine big league seasons, his highest total of home runs in a year was 13. The most RBI in a season? 73. The most stolen bases? 11. And yes, he was a full-time player.

So, not exactly exciting, but still probably better than what we had there (and how sad is that?). At least he hits for average most years (lifetime .284) and has a good on-base percentage (lifetime .356).

His greatest asset however, may be his wife. She's from Chicago, is a die-hard Cubs fan, had a childhood crush on Ryne Sandberg, and nearly burned out Twitter yesterday with her excited tweets.

You can read them here. It's nice to see that somebody is excited about coming to Chicago.

The Girl Can't Help It

From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac this morning...

December 1, 1956…"The Girl Can't Help It," starring Jayne Mansfield, Tom Ewell and Edmond O'Brien, opened in U.S. and Canadian movie theaters. Regarded by many to be one of the best rock 'n' roll films of the 1950s, the comedy features musical performances by Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, the Platters, Fats Domino, Julie London, Ray Anthony, the Treniers, Abbey Lincoln, Freddy Bell & The Bell-Boys, Teddy Randazzo, Eddie Fontaine, and Nino Tempo.

Bob's right, it was an important rock and roll film, but I suspect the young rockers that went to see this movie were more excited by something else...

Herman Cain Train

A parody song by Edwardo and Squire Hogg..

Nice Herman Cain impersonation...and yes, of course, it's incredibly politically incorrect.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Living Wills Comes Out Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the official release date of "The Living Wills". I'm really looking forward to getting my greasy little fingers on the actual books.

Over the past ten days or so, we've been giving you little hints and previews of what you will find in the pages of this exciting new novel by Eckhartz Press authors Brendan Sullivan and Rick Kaempfer.

We've mentioned the unique plot lines, and the great Chicago locations, but we haven't really talked about the characters in the book. Who are these people living in the pages of "The Living Wills."

Well, you'll meet the following people: Baristas, Vietnam Veterans, Corporate Fish Accountants, Hot-shot young Lawyers, Parking Garage Attendants, Port-a-Potty Salesmen, Truckers, Librarians, Campers, Wisconsinites, Bowlers, Drunks, Recovered Drunks, Homeless People, Carpet Executives, Real Estate Agents, Doctors, Babysitters, and Children.

Remember that even though it sounds like an odd mixture, the Chicago Tribune's Rick Kogan points out that it's "Rollicking and real on so many levels..."

He would know.

If you haven't ordered it yet, here's where to go. Be among the lucky people to get a copy of the First Edition.

We'll finally get our hands on it tomorrow. It will be in your hands shortly thereafter.

Why Boys are Like Dogs

My weekly contribution to the City Mom blog at ChicagoNow has been posted, and this week I compare boys to dogs.

Deal with it boy lovers and/or dog lovers. It's an apt comparison.

You can read it here.

The (Suddenly Different) New Cubs Way

I haven't written about this yet, because I've been letting the details sink in, but this new Collective Bargaining Agreement that MLB signed with the Player's Union just before Thanksgiving is only going to hurt a few teams...and one of them is the Cubs.

One of the lesser discussed features of the agreement is the capping of spending on minor league prospects and facilities. In other words, we finally get a group in here that understands how to do it, and suddenly the rules change and they won't be allowed to do it.

That is so Cubs.

So, it looks like they have to change course a bit, and now it looks like they really are interested in signing a big name free agent.

Bruce Levine has his take on that here.

I suspect that the Cubs really aren't interested in Pujols. Remember what Epstein said in his news conference..."You don't pay for past performance, you pay for future performance." Pujols is a great player, but his best years are most likely behind him. Signing him is what the old regime would have done. Then they'd get two or three good (or even great years) before paying him $30 million a year during his decline.

I think the guy they are really targeting is Prince Fielder. He's 27. His peak years are approaching. And he would welcome coming to Chicago.

We'll have to wait and see.

Maybe it's just me, but this new approach is scaring me a little bit. Now the fact that Epstein and company gave huge contracts to the likes of Carl Crawford, John Lackey, and J.D. Drew seems more relevant than it did before. Are they just going to turn into smarter, better dressed versions of Jim Hendry?

I'm suddenly nervous again.

Oh well, at least I had a few solid months there of genuine optimism.

Theo Epstein Rocks?

I didn't know that either.

The Beachwood Reporter has the back story, and several videos of Theo on stage.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taylor on Radio-Info on "The Living Wills"

Tom Taylor writes the widely read (among media types) Taylor on Radio-Info column at, a column I liberally quote here on this blog. I was thrilled that he had a blurb in his column about "The Living Wills" yesterday...

“Two former radio guys” write a “collaborative novel”, says publisher Eckhartz Press. “The Living Wills" is about “a split-second decision made 30 years ago and the ripple effects it caused. Can the man who made that decision and the people he affected maneuver their way through a world of baristas and Army veterans, bowling teams and exploding port-a-potties, cartoon pirates and young love, to find the strength to heal before it's too late?” Co-author Rick Kaempfer once worked for Steve Dahl, Garry Meier and John Records Landecker, and Brendan Sullivan worked for Jonathon Brandmeier. Rick tells TRI “The two of us met in the hallways of the Loop back in the late 1980s.” Rick’s two previous books were both about the business – “The Radio Producer’s Handbook” and “$everance.”

By the way, Brendan e-mailed me to point out that we actually met in 1991...but at least it was at the Loop, just as I remember. Consider me properly chastised for getting the timing wrong by a year or two. I have since let Mr. Sullivan know that from now if he has any corrections or notes on he can deal with my people.

The Morning Mouth on "The Living Wills"

The Morning Mouth is a very influential radio trade magazine for creative radio shows, and this morning their daily e-newsletter gave some love to yours truly.

THE MOUTH, NOVEMBER 28TH, 2011 –– In the executive restroom at Jockline Daily's world headquarters, you'll find copies of Rick Kaempfer's first novel "$everance" (2007), and “The Radio Producers Handbook” (2004). Before becoming a full-time writer, Rick was a nationally recognized radio producer in Chicago for Steve Dahl & Garry Meier (1987-1991) and John Records Landecker (1993-2003). He currently writes a weekly parenting column (“Father Knows Nothing”), a humor column for Shore Magazine (“A Fine Mess”), a daily blog ("Rick Kaempfer") and is editor-in-chief of the Cubs history website, Just One Bad Century. Now comes word of his latest offering: "The Living Wills," to be shipped on December 1st. Co-written with creativity coach Brendan Sullivan. Rick told Jockline Daily: "My co-author Brendan and I met when we were both working at the Loop in Chicago in the late 80s (he was with Brandmeier and I was with Steve & Garry). Coming from a collaborative medium like radio gave us the perfect experience to collaborate on this novel. Plus, we both have pretty thick skin after working as producers, so we could critique each other honestly without worrying about hurt feelings." The Living Wills will be available in paperback.

Thanks so much to Don Anthony (also known as the guy who produces the yearly Morning Boot Camp seminars around the country).

Trading Matt Garza?

It sounds like the Cubs are considering trading Matt Garza if they get a good package of youngsters in know, like the package they sent Tampa to acquire Garza in the first place.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Countdown to The Living Wills

In the days leading up to the December 1st (that's this Thursday!) release of "The Living Wills", we'll be giving you little hints and previews of what you will find in the pages of this exciting new novel by Eckhartz Press authors Brendan Sullivan and Rick Kaempfer.

Actor William Petersen (CSI) noted in his recommendation of "The Living Wills" that it was a true Chicago novel.

Here are a few more of the Chicago locations, and the chapters you'll find them...

Lower Wacker Drive

Chapters 7, 17, 29, and 47

Grant Park

Chapter 36

Waveland Bowl

Chapters 2, 12, 22, 34, 41, 46, 49, 51, & 55

An Adoption Postcard

My good friend Kim Strickland writes a blog for ChicagoNow called "A City Mom". If you're a regular reader of this blog you know all about it, because I write a guest column for that blog every week as "A Suburban Dad".

Today Kim is guest blogging on another blog at ChicagoNow called "Portrait of an Adoption" (It's all one big blogging family over there at ChicagoNow)

Her contribution is called "An Adoption Postcard" and it's an excellent piece about the adoption of her daughter.

This explains a lot

CBS Sportsline is doing a feature about the "homegrown players" each MLB team has produced. The lineup of the Chicago Cubs could be the worst I've ever seen. These are the players that would have started for the Cubs if they only relied on their own farm system and didn't sign any free agents or acquire anyone via trade.

Ready? I warned's bad.

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Here are the pitchers...

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells

It's hard to believe, but I'd say this team is even worse than the crappy team they actually fielded last year.

This is the real reason the Cubs have always been terrible, and it's also the reason I'm excited by the new management team they've brought in--people that have actually focused on building a farm system from the ground up.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Father Knows Nothing

My latest Father Knows Nothing column has been posted at NWI Parent.

Yup, it's yet another shameless plug for my book.

Look at it this way, after Thursday when it's officially available for immediate shipping at, I'll probably return to more traditional non-shameless-plugging blogging.

No promises...but I'm going to try.