Thursday, February 02, 2012

Chicago Radio Spotlight: Captain Whammo

I'm heading out of town this weekend, so I thought I would post Chicago Radio Spotlight a few days early. This week I spoke with the immortal Captain Whammo! He was very entertaining, and had some incredible stories, and is now working in Christian radio, believe it or not.

You can read the entire interview here.

Brendan Sullivan at the iO

This Monday night at 8:30, my co-author Brendan Sullivan will be doing a monologue about "The Living Wills" at the iO (formerly Improv Olympic) at the Del Close Theater (3541 N. Clark St.) as part of their on-going "Armando Diaz Experience".

So, what is "The Armando Diaz Experience"? According to iO's website:
"The Armando Diaz Experience is long-form improvisation in which a monologist tells personal stories that provides the inspiration for the resulting scenes. The cast is a group of iO’s most accomplished performers and alumni, making this show a Monday-night smash for years! “The Armando Diaz Experience” is frequently joined by guests from MADtv, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Second City and more!

Founded by Adam McKay (SNL, Anchorman, Talladega Nights), Dave Koechner (Anchorman, Thank You For Smoking, SNL) and Armando Diaz (iO alumnus & founder of The Magnet Theater in New York), The Armando Diaz Experience is iO’s longest running show and landmark of comedy in Chicago.

For tickets, call (773) 880-0199.


This is hard to believe, but according to my blogspot statistics, this is the 7000th post on this blog since it debuted in December of 2005.


Long time readers undoubtedly read this blog because I write exclusively about worthwhile things like finding a cure for cancer, helping the less fortunate, searching for alternative forms of energy, and the afterlife.

However, after 7000 posts about things that are truly meaningful and important, I'm going to be shifting gears slightly. From now on I'll be posting stories about the media, music, the Cubs, my kids, the Beatles, my writing projects, sports, and Chicago radio, in addition to posting wacky pictures, videos, jokes, and e-mails you send me.

I hope you don't get whiplash from this abrupt change in approach.

I just feel like it's time to be a little more frivolous.

Happy Groundhogs Day

Presented without comment. Thanks to "BU" for sending me the link...

Cubs 365, February 2

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 2005, the Cubs traded their all-time home run king Sammy Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles. Sammy had managed to go from hero to pariah in one short year.

It all started in the 2004 season. The league instituted new testing for steroids, and suddenly Sammy was doing his home run hops on balls barely hit to the warning track. During that summer, Sammy sneezed in the clubhouse and injured himself so badly he missed nearly a month of games.

The Cubs fans didn't officially desert him, however, until the team collapsed the last week of the 2004 season. In the final game of the year, Sammy left in a huff before the game was over. His teammates took that opportunity to bash his boombox into pieces with a baseball bat, an ignominious end to his Cubs career.

Sammy got the last 35 home runs of his major league career with the Orioles and the Rangers. His 600th career home run came against the Cubs in an inter-league game, but by that time, his love affair with Chicago was long gone.


Johnny B played a portion of Just One Bad Century's Cubs song from 2008 on yesterday morning's show. It's at the 15:16 mark of this podcast

He used it to illustrate the new "Cubs song" contest WGN announced yesterday. Our song was used an example of a good one...but Brandmeier pointed out why it is a little dated, and why you should never use the names of current players or managers.

No arguments here. I still like this one, though...

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Book Clubs

We're proud to say that "The Living Wills" has been chosen by several Chicago area book clubs. Thank you!

For those of you considering "The Living Wills" for your book club, keep in mind that Brendan and/or I would happily come to your book club to join in the discussion (schedules permitting). Brendan is already going to a book club on the North Side of Chicago, I'm going to one in Des Plaines, and both of us will be going to another one in Beverly.

There is no additional cost involved. (Although, both of us will not reject your free alcoholic beverages, if offered). If you'd like more information, you can e-mail me at

Pinewood Derby

This weekend is Pinewood Derby time, so it's time to once again pull out my Pinewood Derby essay. This year I'm contributing it to the City Mom blog at ChicagoNow. If you haven't read it before, or you'd like to read it again, it's here.

By the way, this is going to be our 11th (!) Pinewood Derby.

Cubs 365, February 1

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 2007, the Cubs signed outfielder Cliff Floyd as a free agent. The native Chicagoan is typical of the kind of free agents the Cubs have signed over the years. He was 35 years old (in his 15th season in the big leagues) and was coming off an injury plagued year with the Mets.

The Cubs got exactly what you'd expect under the circumstances. Floyd managed only 322 at bats that year, and though he hit a respectable .284, he was clearly not the player he once was. He hung around for parts of two more seasons (one with Tampa and one with the Padres) before calling it quits after the 2009 season.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ahab the Arab

50 years ago today Ray Stevens released this song. I think it's safe to say it was a different time...

Cubs 365, January 31

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1931, Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks was born. 22 years later he became the first African American player to play for the Chicago Cubs.

The way he became a Cub is almost a fluke. At the end of the 1953 season, Gene Baker was called up to be the first African-American Cubs player. Ernie was signed shortly thereafter from the Kansas City Monarchs. They signed Ernie strictly because they needed another black player to room with Baker. If they didn’t have Baker, they wouldn't have signed Banks. They honestly had no idea what they were getting in Banks, either. One of the Cubs coaches, Ray Blades, gave Ernie a book called "How to play baseball" even though he had hit .380 for the Monarchs.

Banks only got in the lineup first because Baker was hurt (he got into a game three days later). At the time, inserting Banks into the lineup was a very controversial move, because shortstop was considered a "thinking man's" position, and Banks was the first African-American in Major League history to play shortstop on a regular basis.

Needless to say, it worked out just fine.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Waveland Bowl

Ever since "The Living Wills" was released in December, we've been hearing from Chicagoans who love all the Chicagoland locations in the book. One of the main locations is an actual bowling alley on Western Avenue in Chicago. It's called "Waveland Bowl".

Well, no one was more excited to have a novel taking place at Waveland Bowl than the owner of the establishment. He has given us free bowling coupons to give out with every new purchase of the hard copy (not e-book) version of "The Living Wills".

Thanks so much Waveland Bowl! And, of course, get your hard copy of "The Living Wills" exclusively at

A Fine Mess

The good people at SHORE Magazine have given me my own column. Beginning with this current issue of SHORE, there will be a Rick Kaempfer column in every issue. They asked me to come up with a name for the column that describes my "everyman" attempts at slogging through life.

It will be called "A Fine Mess".

There are no restrictions to what I can write about, although it won't be about the kids (I already have a column for that). I'm generally going to tie in to the theme of each issue. This first issue's theme is food.

Here is the debut column of "A Fine Mess"

Cubs 365, January 30

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1904, Andy Frain was born. Frain's first job was in the stockyards, but he quickly discovered that he had the skill of keeping peace. He approached the owner of the Blackhawks first, and after he did a good job for them, he pitched his services to William Wrigley, the owner of the Chicago Cubs.

The year was 1928, and Wrigley Field was known as a place that ushers would take bribes to allow people into the good seats. Frain offered to give back Mr. Wrigley's money if he wasn't completely satisfied with his performance as an usher. Wrigley was so impressed he hired Frain to run the entire show, and gave him $5000 for uniforms.

Those uniforms became his company's trademark.

In the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, the Notre Dame blue and gold Andy Frain uniforms were on hand at every major sporting event in Chicago, including football, baseball, and hockey games. They also kept the peace at political conventions, the Kentucky Derby, and more.

Here are a few tips for keeping the peace, directly from the mouth of Andy Frain...

*"Never trust a man with a mustache or a man who carries an umbrella"

*"No muscle is gonna clip me. I never had a nickel. Finally after a lot of hard work I made something of myself. They're gonna take that away from me?"

*"Ninety percent of the public wants somethin' for nothin'. When you run a big sports event, every one of those seats is there to be cracked. They throw every gimmick in the book at you."

*"The only color I'm interested in is the color of the customer's ticket."

*"There's nothing like a six-footer in uniform to control a panicky crowd. Besides that, a tough guy isn't so likely to give you an argument if you're lookin' down on him. That's psychology."

*"Never let a standee sit down. Once they sit down, you can't get 'em up."

Andy died in 1964. His sons carried on the company until 1982 when they sold it to a group of investors from Cleveland. The people that bought it went belly up a few years later and the Frain brothers repurchased the company once again. They finally sold it off for good in 1991.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Father Knows Nothing

This week's Father Knows Nothing has been posted. It's called "The Joy of Defeating Dad".

You can read it here.

Cubs 365, January 29

Every day in 2012, the Just One Bad Century blog will feature a story about this day in Cubs history. We're calling it Cubs 365.

On this day in 1915 one of the best pitchers of the Cubs dynasty, Big Ed Reulbach, hung up his MLB spikes so he could sign with the new upstart Federal League. After starring in the Federal League, he came back to the National League with the Boston Braves (1916 and 1917), but wasn't nearly the pitcher he once was.

During his years with the Cubs, Ed was a superstar. It seemed that Ed always saved his best performances for the most crucial games. He pitched a one-hitter in the 1906 World Series against the White Sox (one of only 5 one-hitters in World Series history). In 1907 he won another World Series game for the Cubs. In 1908 he did something truly remarkable; he pitched two shutouts in one day! Those late September games against Brooklyn were crucial to the Cubs pennant hopes. He was rewarded for his heroic performance by being given the ball for Game 1 of the 1908 World Series, which he also won.

His final World Series appearance for the Cubs came in Game 3 of the series against the Philadelphia Athletics in 1910. Big Ed's luck run out that day, as the A's beat the Cubs 12-5 at West Side Grounds.

Ed was the last surviving member of the last World Series Champion Cubs team when he passed away at age 79 in 1961.