Thursday, April 18, 2013

Out of Town

I'll be back on Monday.

Have a nice weekend!

Pet Sematary

One of the most terrifying books I've ever read is Stephen King's "Pet Sematary". I don't know what it was about that book (the movie wasn't scary at all), but it really got to me when I read it about twenty years ago.

This story in this morning's New York Daily News is a real-life Pet Sematary story. A cat was presumed dead and was buried. When they went to plant a flower next to her grave, they heard her meow.

Cue the scary music.

I don't care that the cat's name was Muffin. That doesn't soften the creepiness for me--it heightens it.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

EJ Dionne ‏@EJDionne 5m
A spot-on piece on the Senate's "morally repulsive" gun vote by @mtomasky, and why to have hope. via @thedailybeast

ThinkProgress ‏@thinkprogress 14m
Women who shouted "shame on you" at senators were detained for TWO HOURS by capitol police

Ezra Klein ‏@ezraklein 18m
This is not your founding fathers’ Senate

msnbc ‏@msnbc 19m
Wondering who voted against gun control? @JoeNBC and @morningmika read their names. Watch:

Jay Carney (EOP) ‏@PressSec 22m
Gabby Giffords: "Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I'm furious." Please read this:

Mary Dixon ‏@MaryLDixon 9m
Edens, Kennedy slowly recovering; Ike, I-88, Tri-State, Bishop Ford still hellish. We're gonna need a bigger boat:

dailyherald ‏@dailyherald 4m
Nuclear engineer guilty of Woodridge 'thrill' carjacking

Brian Stelter ‏@brianstelter 2h
My 6,000-word cover story distilled to one line: Matt Lauer and Ann Curry's fates were, and still are, intertwined.

Slate ‏@Slate 11m
Stephen Colbert's Brad Paisley cover "Oopsie-Daisy Homophobe" is brilliant--WATCH:

WGN Radio 720 ‏@WGNRadio 16m
See last night's emotional National Anthem at the Boston Bruins game #bostonbruins #boston …

Why I've Left the Media Business

That headline wasn't written by me, and it's not about me (although I suppose it could be). It's the headline to this piece, written by former mainstream media writer Dan Lyons.

He makes a few excellent points regarding the future of media that depends exclusively on advertising for its revenues.

When a Scoop is not a Scoop

At least a half dozen news outlets incorrectly reported that someone had been arrested in the Boston bombing yesterday, including respected news outlets like CNN and the Associated Press, and not-as-respected outlets like Fox News. Turns out, they were all wrong. Not only hadn't there been an arrest, they still haven't even identified the suspect.

The FBI released a statement chastising the reporters, which is a pretty rare slap down from the FBI.

I know this is all part of the "we've got to report this first" mentality, and that's always bothered me, but I do have some sympathy for the reporters in question too. This was CNN's official statement: "CNN had three credible sources on both local and federal levels. Based on this information we reported our findings. As soon as our sources came to us with new information we adjusted our reporting."

A reporter is only as good as his or her sources. The mistake here is obviously identifying someone as "credible" who clearly was not. I think the fact that three different sources told them the same thing is a story in itself. How in the world did that happen?

The Today Show Debacle

The excellent media writer of the New York Times, Brian Stelter, has a book coming out next week about the behind-the-scenes drama at the Today Show. The Times teased it this morning.

If this excerpt is any indication, it should be a juicy book...

Many executives at the network never grasped how profoundly hurt and humiliated Curry remained — not just by her televised dismissal but by all the backstage machinations that led to that fateful morning. Curry felt that the boys’ club atmosphere behind the scenes at “Today” undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture. The growing indifference of Matt Lauer, her co-host, had hurt the most, but there was also just a general meanness on set.

At one point, the executive producer, Jim Bell, commissioned a blooper reel of Curry’s worst on-air mistakes. Another time, according to a producer, Bell called staff members into his office to show a gaffe she made during a cross-talk with a local station. (Bell denies both incidents.) Then several boxes of Curry’s belongings ended up in a coat closet, as if she had already been booted off the premises. One staff person recalled that “a lot of time in the control room was spent making fun of Ann’s outfit choices or just generally messing with her.” On one memorable spring morning, Curry wore a bright yellow dress that spawned snarky comparisons to Big Bird. The staff person said that others in the control room, which included 14 men and 3 women, according to my head count one morning, Photoshopped a picture of Big Bird next to Curry and asked co-workers to vote on “Who wore it best?”

Wow. They've been trying to spin this story for months claiming that it was some sort of mutual decision or promotion for Curry to leave, but the viewers sensed they were full of it. If this reporting is correct (and Stelter is a great reporter), every bad thought the viewers had about the remaining Today show bunch is correct. Matt Lauer can't be happy about this.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Tonight's the night for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Party. Of course, they have the party in Los Angeles because nobody wants to go to Cleveland, but nevertheless it's sure to be a great night. The RAMP newsletter has the details...

The 28th Annual Rock and Rock Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is happening tonight at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. Four of this year's inductees -- Heart, Randy Newman, Public Enemy and Rush are scheduled to perform live. Earlier this week, Heart's Ann Wilson told KJR/Seattle's Bob Rivers and Steve Slaton that Heart's original line-up -- Ann and sister Nancy Wilson, Howard Leese, Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen and Mike Derosier will reunite onstage tonight and perform the band's first single, "Crazy On You." Fellow Seattle-ites Mike McCready of Pearl Jam and Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains will also perform with Heart, who will be inducted by Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. Other performer inductees include Albert King, Donna Summer and Public Enemy; Lou Adler and Quincy Jones will each receive the prestigious Ahmet Ertegun Award for Lifetime Achievement.

According to Rock Hall sources, Usher will perform for Quincy Jones; Jackson Browne and John Fogerty will perform with Randy Newman; Spike Lee and Harry Belafonte will pay tribute to Public Enemy; Carole King will perform for Lou Adler and Cheech & Chong will present Adler with his award. Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters will present Rush. John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr. will perform in honor of Albert King, with Mayer giving the induction speech; 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Don Henley will induct Randy Newman and Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Hudson will blow the roof off the joint in honor of Donna Summer. The induction ceremony will be shown on HBO on Saturday, May 18 at 9pm ET/PT.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

40 Years Ago Today

One of my favorite Eagles songs was released on this day in 1973.

Family Guy Episode Pulled off Hulu

And for good features a scene where one of the characters mows down runners in his car at the Boston Marathon. (The Associated Press report is here). The episode originally aired on March 17th.

By the way, if you see a Family Guy clip on the internet with a scene that looks like a bomb going off at the Boston Marathon, it's been edited by some sicko to make it look like this was a pre-planned conspiracy. There are already conspiracy nuts distributing it.

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

Crain's Chicago ‏@CrainsChicago 7m
Former Sox slugger Frank Thomas plans brewpub in Berwyn

Eric Stangel ‏@EricStangel 27m
Dear media, I don't think you need to show us how to make a pressure cooker bomb. Thank you.

Eric & Kathy ‏@EricandKathy 4m
Study Shows: People who text frequently tend to be shallow people. #MIXMindBender sponsored by @LoyolaQuinlan.

Deadspin ‏@Deadspin 29m
The Red Sox paid tribute to Boston, and so did the Yankees:

Mix and Match Mama ‏@MixandMatchMama 1h
The Yankees will always have a place in my heart for playing Sweet Caroline during yesterday's game. …

Michael McKean ‏@MJMcKean 2m
Rather than damn his writing with faint praise, I tend to laud it with distinct condemnation. #NoNamesPlease

Jayson Stark ‏@jaysonst 3m
Great tidbit from @ESPNStatsInfo - Mariano Rivera's 611th save came against a #Dbacks team that has 606 saves in franchise history!


Dave Wischnowsky ‏@wischlist 13m
Good to see that Mike Thomas and the athletic department took the initiative to boost Illinois' Chicago presence through @670TheScore.

Gawker ‏@Gawker 26m
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert dedicate emotional show openers to Boston

Jack Brickhouse interviews Branch Rickey

Awesome Jack Brickhouse interview with Branch Rickey unearthed by WGN-TV. I saw "42" over the weekend with my son Sean, and I think they might have watered down the story a bit to achieve a PG-13 (which is fine by me--I wanted my son to see it), but after watching this interview I will say this: Harrison Ford's performance nailed the essence of Branch Rickey.

21st Century Fox

Rupert Murdoch is officially changing the name of his company to 21st Century Fox.

The statement reads: "21st Century Fox is a name that draws upon the rich creative heritage of our film studio, while also speaking to the innovation and dynamism that define all of our global media and entertainment businesses and will guide us into the future."

As a hat-tip to traditionalists, political opinions expressed on their news channel will remain firmly rooted in the 20th century.


It took me a second to get this one. Thanks to "DS" for sending it to me...

RIP Pat Summerall

For someone my age, Pat Summerall will always be the voice of the NFL.

I didn't know he started his NFL career in Chicago...sounds like he wasn't a big fan.

Le Show

Harry Shearer's "Le Show" is being dropped by it's flagship station in Santa Monica.

The station will continue to produce and syndicate the show for NPR, even though it's no longer airing it. In Chicago it airs on Sunday nights at 10pm on WBEZ. If you've never heard it, the WBEZ website describes the show this way: "A weekly, hour-long romp through the worlds of media, politics, sports and show business, leavened with an eclectic mix of mysterious music, hosted by Harry Shearer."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Father Knows Nothing

After taking a few weeks off to concentrate on Landecker's media tour, I'm back in the "Father Knows Nothing" saddle. This week's is an upbeat piece about the most upbeat person I know.

You can read it here.

Pulitzer Prize Winners Announced

It's the 97th year of the Pulitzers, and they announced this year's winners yesterday. Among them, the New York Times, the Tampa Bay Times, the Sun Sentinel, and the Denver Post.

If you've ever wondered who Pulitzer was, I wrote about him last week at Just One Bad Century for our feature: "This week in 1908". The following is the portion about Pulitzer...

Joseph Pulitzer turns 61 (April 10) in New York. One of the originators of Yellow Journalism (along with William Randolph Hearst), he will live three more years. Next year he will be indicted for libeling Theodore Roosevelt and J.P Morgan. Ironically, he leaves enough money in his will to found the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (which is still considered one of the best in the world), and the Pulitzer Prize (for excellence in journalism).

Records Truly Has Some Bonus Stories


One of the best things about going out on a book tour, especially when you are promoting a memoir, is that you hear stories about yourself that are only vague memories in your brain. (Shore Magazine's Pat Colander refers to memoirs as "All-I-can-rememboirs" which I think is brilliant). This phenomenon has certainly been happening to John Records Landecker on his "Records Truly Is My Middle Name" publicity tour.

Last week, on the day of her passing, we published an excerpt from the book about how much Annette Funicello meant to John. One of his childhood friends contacted him to remind him the depth of that devotion. Landecker reports...

"Carol Smith got in touch with me through Facebook to remind me that when we were in elementary school, I had arranged pictures of Annette on my wall, charting her "development" Carol tells me I charged admission, so the local boys could take a look."

Love that story. But not as much as this one. This was reported on the Records Truly Is My Middle Name facebook page by Cool Bobby B...

"You were the evening jock on WIBG so I’m guessing sometime in 1969. I was like 19 years old and you didn’t look much older. I was the evening jock at WWDB a Jazz/MOR station in Philly at 96.5FM. For some reason you were working that night and I had the evening off. I really admired what you were doing on the air and I thought, gee, I’d love to see how you do that fast paced ad libbing, and the whole tight Top 40 format. Being a native Philadelphian I had never really heard that before...So, I called you on the request line and introduced myself and told you I wanted to see how you did it and you said come on up...You buzzed me in. As I remember it, your studio was on the second floor. You worked a wide counter, with an old engineer across the glass running the levels...

You continued with your show, making jokes and taking listener requests off a speaker phone on your right. The calls were not live on the air unless you put one on. All of a sudden, a woman called up on the speaker phone and told you she loved you and your show and she wanted you to know that she was very upset and she was going to kill herself. You told her to please hold on, you had to go back on the air, but you’d be right back. You talked to the engineer or somebody at the station and told them to try to get the police to trace the call and get to her place asap. Meanwhile, every time a record played, you went back to the speaker and spoke very softly and kindly to her, trying to to find out her location and information. She wouldn’t tell you anything! It was nerve racking for me and I don’t know how you were doing the show and keeping her on the line at the same time.

After like a half hour, you finally got her to tell you her first name. I think it was Mary. By then, she was crying and mumbling and sounding very drunk and drugged up. But you were very patient with her. Every single time you went back on the air, you had to plead with her to stay on the line, and she did. But after all this time, she started to say that you were just trying to keep her on the phone and no one really cared about her, even you. You were begging and pleading with her and at the same time, cracking jokes, and playing the hits on the radio like nothing was going on. Your face was white as ghost. This went on for about 45 minutes. All of a sudden, she said: “that’s it. I’m done. I can’t talk to you anymore. I’m gonna take the rest of these pills and kill myself.”

At that very moment, a loud boom or crashing sound came over the speaker phone. A man's voice came through the speaker and said: “Mr. Landecker, this is Sgt...., we have her. She’s gonna be ok."

I never saw a happier expression than that look on your face at that moment. And, boom, you went back on the air like nothing ever happened.

"Records" Endorsed by Governor Quinn During WLS Birthday Bash

WLS logo music

John Landecker was sick and couldn't attend the event (WLS' 89th birthday), but he was listening at home when some very kind words were said about the book "Records Truly Is My Middle Name".

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn identified John Records Landecker as one of the all-time greats on the radio station, and called him a "Renaissance Man". It's not often that a sitting governor gives you an endorsement like that. Roe Conn called the book "one of the greatest radio books I've ever seen."

You can listen to it here.

The Wrigley Field Renovation

Yahoo Sports has the details. Among them...

"The additions include more night games; a video scoreboard that could be twice the size of the vintage model in center field and advertising signage in the iconic bleachers that could block rooftop views; reconstructed concourses for fans and expanded clubhouses for the players; a hotel and new team offices across the street and increased parking."

Sounds good to me.

And this sounds good too...

"In exchange for Chicago taxpayers not taking a hit, the city will relax zoning and landmark restrictions and Cubs ownership will finance the project. A bureaucracy still needs to approve of specific plans, and the Cubs won't play games elsewhere while the changes are made, so the makeover will take years, and all of the plans are subject to change."

Sounds perfectly reasonable. I'm officially ignoring all belly-aching about this.

Realty Today

A couple of home sales of note on the property front.

Don Imus sold his mansion for $14.4 million. (See Photos here) According to Tom Taylor's column today, "Imus loved to drive his expensive car around the area and show that a brash radio DJ could make that kind of cash."

Am I the only one who thinks that sounds pathetically insecure?

Also, the home where George Harrison wrote "Blue Jay Way" sold a few weeks ago in Los Angeles. I never heard the origin of this song before. According to the posting of the song on YouTube: The name of the song comes from a street, located high in the Hollywood Hills overlooking Sunset Boulevard, which affords panoramic views of Hollywood and much of the Los Angeles Basin. It is reached from downtown Los Angeles via a complicated street route, which is all the harder to navigate on a foggy night — thus creating the backdrop for the opening lines of the song: "There's a fog upon L.A. / And my friends have lost their way"

According to Harrison: "Derek Taylor got held up. He rang to say he'd be late. I told him on the phone that the house was in Blue Jay Way. And he said he could find it OK... he could always ask a cop. So I waited and waited. I felt really knackered with the flight, but I didn't want to go to sleep until he came. There was a fog and it got later and later. To keep myself awake, just as a joke to pass the time while I waited, I wrote a song about waiting for him in Blue Jay Way. There was a little Hammond organ in the corner of this house which I hadn't noticed until then... so I messed around on it and the song came.

Eckhartz Press Represents

This past weekend there was a Pop-Up Book Fair at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. Eckhartz Press was represented by "Cheeseland" author Randy Richardson and the next author in the Eckhartz Press stable...Dan Burns. Dan's novel "Recalled to Life" is coming out on May 24th.

A Valuable Lesson

I know this is a video created for commercial purposes by Dove, but I think it has a very postive message.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Brendan Sullivan Discusses "The Living Wills" at Marist High School


On Friday morning Eckhartz Press author Brendan Sullivan ("The Living Wills") returned to his alma mater, Marist High School, to speak with their Chicago Literature class. The class has been assigned "The Living Wills" as part of their curriculum.

Eckhartz Press co-founder David Stern accompanied Brendan to the event. He took pictures and filed the following report...

"Shrugging off painful memories of soggy tater-tots, author Brendan Sullivan visited Marist High School on Friday morning. Brendan talked to the Chicago Lit class about The Living Wills and the techniques he and co-writer Rick Kaempfer used to write the book. The students were engaged, polite and even stayed awake for the entire 1 ½ hour class. Brendan was such a hit that they gave him the President’s parking space. Thank you to Marist High School."

Brendan at Marist

Marist students listening to Brendan

Brendan signing books at Marist

Brendan at Marist parking space

In all seriousness, as thrilled as the kids were to hear Brendan speak (and he's very good in front of an audience), I'm sure Brendan was even more excited. It's an honor to return to your alma mater under these circumstances. Congratulations to Brendan.

The Living Wills paperback is available at Eckhartz Press, and the e-book is available on all e-book formats, including the Kindle.

The Law Finally Tracks Him Down

Thanks to "DS" and "GT" for sending me this one. If you don't remember the beginning of MTV, you might not get it...

Can I admit I actually liked that song?

Today's Best Tweets

Here are some tweets that caught my eye today...

ABC 7 Chicago ‏@ABC7Chicago 1m
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts will talk about renovation plan at 11 a.m. news conference @dianepathieu

Kurt Gessler ‏@kurtgessler 34m
What's in the Wrigley deal? 10 more night games, left field video screen #cubs

Keith Conrad ‏@keithrconrad 23m
I assume this is what it felt like in Times Square when the Japanese surrendered in 1945

David Haugh ‏@DavidHaugh 9m
Ricketts' patience pays off. Ballpark gets Jumbotron, signage; team more night games, flexibility. City: 2,000 jobs, $20M year tax revenue.

Keith Olbermann ‏@KeithOlbermann 1h
New BB Nerd: On Jackie Robinson Day: Meet THE Kid in THE Jackie Robinson Picture

Dan Pompei ‏@danpompei 36m
If you want a guard in the draft, you had better move quickly. This is why: …

Josh Marshall ‏@joshtpm 41m
NYPD Leaving Stray Cash, Cigarettes Around To See If You’ll Steal Them … via @TPM

Steve Bertrand ‏@SteveBertrand 44m
A literary agent dishes...anonymously. Who is the author she's talking about? …

Taegan Goddard ‏@politicalwire 54m
George W. Bush talks for the first time about his painting and the "psycho-babblers" who try to understand it …

MancowMuller ‏@MancowMuller 45m
A man was hospitalized after inserting an eel into his no go area. Why? Because a starfish would've hurt.

Tax Man Max

Sounds reasonable to me...

A Tax Day Reminder From a CPA

I asked my brother Peter to guest blog on this traditional tax day because he is a CPA. (He's the one on the right in the photo above in the Wrigley Bleachers. The girl between us is our cousin Martina). He isn't blogging about tax advice, however. I'll let him explain further...

Just Because I'm a CPA, doesn't mean I know taxes

It usually goes something like this…

“Hi. Nice to meet you. So what do you do for a living?” Innocent enough question.

“I am an accountant.” Oops! Why did I admit it so quickly?

“Oh, you must be really busy this time of year with taxes and all.”

Rolling my eyes, “Well, actually I have been very busy at work, but I don’t have anything to do with taxes.”

Then the dance begins, trying to explain what I do in my corporate accounting job. I have had to do this countless times in the past 20 years. Don’t worry – I won’t try to explain it here. Some people get it, most people don’t, others just get bored to tears (and rightfully so.) There are some family members and really good friends of mine that still don’t understand that I have nothing to do with taxes, that I have a hard time preparing my own tax return every year (and TurboTax makes it pretty easy.) In fact, I actually end up doing some of their returns for them just so I don’t have to go through the dance.

All they know is that I am a CPA, so they assume I am a tax accountant. I guess that’s really not too bad of an assumption. Why should anyone be able to distinguish among the various specialties and disciplines in accounting unless they are an accountant? This stuff just isn’t common knowledge - it’s not like accounting gets a very glamorous portrayal in movies or on TV. Face it, unless you are a cop, lawyer, doctor, politician or bad lounge singer, chances are you won’t be seeing too many shows featuring your profession, let alone accounting.

I’m OK with that. Accounting really isn’t that fascinating. It just happens to be something that I can do fairly well and it happens to pay the bills just fine. Yes, I am an accountant; a CPA. I admit it. More accurately, though accounting is what I do for a living.

I don’t get excited about tax deductions. I never played Dungeons & Dragons. I wasn’t part of the Audio-Visual club in high school. I don’t wear glasses (all the time.) I don’t even watch Star Trek re-runs. I like to think I’m a pretty regular guy who just happens to have a dull job.

So next time you meet an accountant, don’t ask him about taxes. Try asking about his family, or what he thinks of the White Sox’ chances of becoming World Champions again (had to get that in there Rick). You might be surprised to find he actually has a life outside of work.

Good luck out there and best of luck with your taxes.

Hipsters, Then & Now

Thanks to "OG" for sending this...

Ship My Pants

Pretty out there for K-mart...but funny.

The $62 Million Paycheck

Every time someone gets fired fpr budgetary reasons by CBS (which, by the way, happens all the time), they should bring up the salary of CBS CEO Les Moonves. From Tom Taylor's column this morning...

Bloomberg calculates that “overall compensation for Moonves was almost five times the average of CEOs in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, underscoring the high pay of media executives relative to other industries.” Here’s the three-year trend for Moonves – about $57.7 million total compensation (salary, bonuses, stock options, etc.) in 2010. $69.9 million in 2011. And nearly $62.2 million in 2012. Moonves got there starting with a base salary of about $3.5 million.

CBS owns about 200 broadcasting ventures (radio and television). If Moonves made a reasonable salary, say $10 million (which is still way too high), those 200 broadcasting properties would have another $52 million to spend. That's $260,000 each. If they each re-hired their receptionists (which are getting fired across the country), that would leave them with $230,000 a piece.

Think those television stations would like to hire another news producer? Think the radio stations would like to have an extra engineer? Or a producer? Or another promotions person? Or all of them? When radio was good, every station employed people at those positions. Now they are an endangered species...for budgetary reasons.

When you stop and do the math, it's really sickening.

Cubs Set a Record!

That's the good news.

The bad news is the record they set was for most wild pitches in an inning.