Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Years Eve Comedy Show

If you're looking for something to do on New Years Eve, I've got a recommendation for you. My old Loop buddy Spike Manton and his long-time writing collaborator Tim Clue are producing a New Years Eve concert at the Hemmens Cultural Center: “The New Year’s Comedy Show for People Who Can’t Stay Up ‘Til Midnight!”

The headliner is Rocky LaPorte, who you've probably seen on HBO, Letterman and Leno. (You can see him here too)

With Special Musical Guest Sons of the Never Wrong

Plus, and I think this could be very interesting, two members of the WGN Morning News team are going to do Stand Up; Sports Geek Pat Tomasulo & Ana Belaval

But for me, the reason I'm considering going to this, is seeing my old pal Spike on stage, and Tim Clue. Tim has one of the best stand up acts I've seen in a very long time.

Tim Clue says, “We are extremely proud to be bringing top notch comedian Rocky LaPorte and the award-winning music of Sons of the Never Wrong. We know there are always high expectations for the show, so this year we’ve also begged WGN-TV Morning News funny peeps Pat Tomasulo and Ana Belaval to come out and showcase their off-screen comedy.”

Pat Tomasulo: “What a great night for a sports dork like me to get some laughs and meet some WGN Morning News fans of Ana Belaval. I don’t think I have fans.”

Ana Belaval: “C’mon, Pat has fans. They just won’t spend money to see him do stand-up.”

Rocky LaPorte: “Yeah, dis’ll be a good show. Hey, who’s Pat Tomasulo?”

Show time 7:30 PM. Rated PG. This show is family-friendly and appropriate for kids 12 and up. Enjoy comedy and music on New Years Eve at The Hemmens Cultural Center—where no seat is farther than 90’ from the stage!

Tickets: Balcony $25 Main $30 Premium $35 Golden Circle $45

Orders will be taken via phone (847-931-5900), via fax (847-931-6007), on-line at, or through the Box Office located in the Hemmens Cultural Center lobby at 45 Symphony Way, Elgin, IL.

Reviews for $everance

Every now and then I get an e-mail from a brand new reader of my first novel "$everance", and it makes me check out what people are saying about it on GoodReads. Since it's been out for 4 years now, there are tons of reviews.

Here are a few recent examples from the last month or so...

Ryan writes:

"I found $everance to be a very entertaining, easy read that I was able to finish in only a few days' time. It is the satirical story of Zagorski, a Chicago morning radio host for a failing station who just wants his severance pay and has met a tough match in the form of a boss who refuses to give it to him and instead is determined to make him quit by making the conditions as horrid as possible.

The book kicks into high gear very early when Zagorski sends an e-mail detailing all kinds of over-the-top, sarcastic tactics to improve the company and save money and includes the CEO of the billion dollar media conglomerate on it.

The CEO takes the e-mail seriously, however, and thinks Zagorski's ideas are brilliant. From there, Zagorski is made into the company COO, incredibly enough. Though many people would be enamored with the possibilities of that kind of a job, Zagorski still only wants his severance pay and pulls ridiculous stunt after ridiculous stunt in an effort to get fired. Nothing works out the way he thinks though, as always of his ridiculous ideas work out because they keep saving the company money or generating more revenue in one ridiculous way or another that Zagorski fails to anticipate.

As someone in the finance industry, I found the storylines here to be uproarious, and was more than willing to forgive the ridiculousness of some of his ideas succeeding in the name of a good satire."

Sandy writes:

“Severance is a black comedy that takes a on the subject of media moguls and the damage to truth in reporting that has resulted from the consolidation of media outlets. According to author Richard Kaempfer, who spent 20 years or so in broadcast media, the men pulling the strings at the six giant media outlets don’t really care whether their stations are pushing liberal or conservative agendas, because all that really matters to these folks is M-O-N-E-Y. Kaempfer’s take on the situation is amusing but at the same time depressing. It appears that the era of true “broadcasters” has come to an end and all we have left are profit-driven businessmen seeking yet one more way to lasso another greenback and place it in the company coffers.

The protagonist in $EVERANCE is a cynical and (according to the “powers that be” in New York’s corporate heaven) obsolete Chicago radio personality named Tom Zagorski, whose job has become redundant but whose employers balk at terminating him and paying him his severance pay. Instead they embark on a path to make his life at the station so miserable he will be forced to quit and thereby save the station 18 months of severance pay.

After many months or back and forth passive-aggressive antics between Tom and his boss Sherman Rose, Tom ultimately reaches his breaking point and sends a taunting e-mail to Sherman with a copy to the corporate CEO suggesting they fire every non-revenue producing employee and engage the services of security guards to protect the office supplies thereby increasing the company’s bottom line profit. Unfortunately for Tom instead of this action being viewed as the derisive message he hoped would result in his termination and the collection of his severance package, he is viewed as a forward thinking boy genius by the CEO as well as the Wall Street pundits and is offered a promotion to COO of the company.

What follows is situation after situation of laugh out loud absurdity that soon morphs into an insightful look into the scandalous environment of corporate America as well as an scathing indictment of our media and the men who control it. (To aid the reader in identifying the guilty, Kaempfer has graciously provided a who’s who glossary of media outlets, what they control, and who is at the helm of each, at the back of his book so that readers don’t have to second guess the true identities of the “imaginary” culprits in his novel.) For those who enjoy their “awful truth” of terrifying possibilities served up with a spoonful of humor, Severance fits the bill."

Jessica writes:

"From start to finish, this hilarious romp through the media business will have you chuckling and all-out laughing! There are so many great jokes as you follow an average guy who just wants one thing - to be fired so he can get his severance package - who ends up finding out that life doesn't always work that way, even when you try hard! With plenty of laughs and irony, the action moves from political mumbo jumbo to Ben Hur to ants drowning in organic kool-aid which will keep you on your toes! This is a highly recommended read for any adult who understands the complexity that arises from a focus on profits, or who has a job they desperately want to escape."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A 25-year-old bet

My weekly contribution to the City Mom blog at ChicagoNow is about the culmination of a twenty-five-year old bet between two of my college roommates; Dave and Steve.

You can read it here.

Some South Side Love for The Living Wills

Brendan Sullivan, co-author of The Living Wills, grew up on the South Side of Chicago. That caught the attention of The Beverly Review. Thanks so much to writer Caroline Connors for the nice write up. The following is a short excerpt from the piece...

Like many novelists, Brendan Sullivan writes what he knows.

Born and raised in Morgan Park and Oak Lawn, Sullivan said memories of his childhood, including those of his father’s daily commute to work on the Rock Island, helped shape the characters and events in his new book, “The Living Wills.”

“That evening, Reed climbed onto the 5:25 p.m. Rock Island train home just like he’d done every weeknight for as long as he could remember. … The rhythm of the train rocked Reed into a comfortable lull. Twenty-six minutes later, he stood up and exited the train at his stop, 95th Street and Longwood Drive, without looking up and without waiting to hear the conductor’s announcement, like an old man who didn’t need an alarm clock, whose body just knew it was time to wake up.”

But “The Living Wills” is not just a trip down memory lane, Sullivan said. More than anything, he said, it was a chance to put his work as a creativity coach into action.

“My real job is to help organizational teams on collaborative creativity,” Sullivan said. “I work with Fortune 500 companies and teach them tangible skills—like listening actively, being in the moment and trusting one another— that they can inject into their environment so that innovative ideas can be developed.

“People were always telling me that I should write a nonfiction book about collaborative creativity, but I’ve read every book on the topic and didn’t think there was much more I could say without being redundant.”

So, Sullivan said, he decided to go one step further and co-write a novel with Rick Kaempfer, a friend from his radio days when he was producing the Jonathan Brandmeier show and Kaempfer was producing the Steve Dahl and Garry Meier program.

“We did a little bit of research and didn’t see anything like this for a novel,” Sullivan said. “There’s a lot of books out there telling people how to be collaborative, but this is showing them that it actually can be done.”

There's much more at the Beverly Review. It's a nice long write up.

Of course, the book Brendan is talking about, The Living Wills, is available at, and it's also available on the South Side at Bookies.

Happy Hanukkah

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Let it Snow!

Type "Let it Snow" into your Google browser and see what happens.

Pretty cool.

But then again, I'm easily impressed by technological developments.

"The Living Wills" on the North Side/South Side

For those of you that simply must buy "The Living Wills" in a bookstore, it is now available on the north side and the south side of Chicago.

On the north side, go to "The Book Cellar" at 4736 N. Lincoln Avenue (right next door to my old hangout "The Brauhaus").

On the south side, go to "Bookies" at 2419 W. 103rd Street in Beverly.

And by the way, "The Living Wills" is also coming soon to the Apple store, amazon, Sony, and Barnes & Noble as an e-book. The paperwork has been filed and it will be available before the end of 2011.

Of course the best way to get it is still via our website at Eckhartz Press (

Moises Alou

Ten years ago today the Cubs signed an outfielder that liked to toughen his hands by urinating on them. Remember him?

Can't recall if he had any memorable moments in a Cubs uniform.

Cubs interested in Rizzo

You may not have heard of Anthony Rizzo, but he appears to be the guy the Cubs are really interested in acquiring to play 1B for them.

He's 22 years old, hit .331 with 26 HR and 101 RBI in only 93 games for San Diego's AAA team last year. The Padres got him in the Adrian Gonzales trade with Boston last year. The GM of Boston at the time was Theo Epstein, and the GM of San Diego was Jed Hoyer. Plus, the Padres just got another young 1B stud in a trade with the Reds (for Mat Latos), which means Rizzo is probably available.

It will cost them, but wouldn't you rather see them get a young stud for once, rather sign a big name free agent that could be 300 pounds in a few years? (Not naming names)

By the way, this Rizzo is no relation to that other Rizzo.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Father Knows Nothing

In this week's Father Knows Nothing column, my 9-year-old son Sean proves the existence of Santa Claus to his friend.

You can read it here.