Friday, November 15, 2013

Q & A with "Chug-A-Chug" Author Scott Redman

In July Eckhartz Press released our first ever children's book, a sing-a-long book penned by Chicago attorney/author Scott Redman for his son Will. Photographer Ray Nilsen provided the stunning photographs that accompany the story. I recently caught up with Scott to find out how things have been going.

What has surprised you the most about the reaction to your book?

Scott: How even older kids like the book (because of cool pictures) even though it is targeted at the kindergarten set.

What have you learned about yourself and your writing since the book was published?

Scott: I hate selling.

What is the question you hear the most, and how do you answer it?

Scott: “Is that your train set? It is amazing” “Yes, it is but the amazing part is the photographic techniques used to make it look so real!”

(The techniques: Chug-A-Chug comes to life through the amazing photography of Ray Nilsen, a commercial product photographer in Chicago. Outside of his day job, Ray’s passion is bringing miniatures to life by placing them in sets made to resemble the real world. This made Ray a perfect match for illustrating this book. For Chug-A-Chug, Ray used many elements pieced together to make the various backgrounds.)

Tell me why your book would make the perfect Christmas present.

Scott: It is about trains, it is interactive (a sing-a-long), easy to read, and beautifully illustrated.

"Chug-A-Chug" is available right here at Eckhartz Press.


Kris Versteeg

Great news for Blackhawks fans. The Hawks have reacquired former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg, a key member of their 2010 Stanley Cup team.

"We're really excited," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "Looking at our team this year, we're off to a really good start. I think we've come out of the gates the way we wanted to, [but] we're always trying to improve. I think just the experience and versatility he brings to the table [are key], on top of the fact that he's a player our coaches know well and our players are familiar with. He has a lot of energy and competitiveness and he's got great skill level to complement our players, so we think it's a great fit."

If "Gravity" Was Set in IKEA

Today's Best Tweets

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

The Guardian ‏@guardian 1h
The eternal question... Why are children always certain they know best?

Chicagoland Media ‏@ChiRadioMedia 4m
Radio World: A Celebration for the WLS Tower -- …

Rolling Stone ‏@RollingStone 6m
Roy Harper, the influential English folk singer, has been charged with sexually assaulting a child:

Herpes Virus Found on Library Copies of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'...

Al Yellon ‏@bleedcubbieblue 12m
VIDEO: Jim Maloney's 1965 No-Hitter vs. #Cubs #mlb

fred huebner ‏@fred_huebner 22m
No one asked, but tackle football w/helmets should NOT be allowed til High school. Flag, touch, 7 on 7, whatever before HS, but no helmets!

Laura Helmuth ‏@laurahelmuth 41m
Why the Best Conspiracy Theories About JFK’s Assassination Are Bunk … via @slate

Lise Dominique ‏@LiseDominique 27m
OMG! So ladies, childbirth by plastic bag? Watch and let me know what you think….I cannot WAIT to hear from you!!...

Pope Francis ‏@Pontifex 37m
Dear young people, always be missionaries of the Gospel, every day and in every place.

Ed Curran ‏@EdCurran 41m
Were coyotes to blame for a recent attack on a boy near West Side park?

Derek Jeter Launches His Own Line of Books

This is not an Onion story, it's true. Simon & Shuster has signed Derek Jeter to run an imprint for them called "Jeter Books". The imprint will focus on sports titles.

Get the idea that this is going to be Derek's last season in the big leagues?

New Political Sitcom on Amazon

It's called Alpha House, but it's not a spinoff from Animal House.

It's a political sitcom written by Doonesbury's Gary Trudeau starring John Goodman (among others), and will air exclusively on amazon. (The New York Daily News has the details)

All part of amazon's plan to take over the world.

I remember these days

Pretty funny stuff...

Great Advice for How to Handle TV Interviews

I've only done about ten or twenty television interviews in my whole life, and it really is an acquired skill. It's such an unnatural thing to do. These are great tips if you ever find yourself in that same position.

Love the coughing trick.

Little Girl Walks on Ice First Time

Photos from China

"SP" just sent me these pictures of a public bathroom in China. (He's a pilot and flies to Bejing regularly.) Whenever I hear stories about China overtaking us as a superpower, I think of images like this...

John Oliver Gets His Own Show on HBO

The most popular correspondent on "The Daily Show", and the man who filled in for Jon Stewart this past summer while Stewart was away, is getting his own show. John Oliver will be hosting a weekly comedy show on HBO.

I think Variety is asking the right question today. Is the Daily Show now a bigger launching pad for a career in comedy than SNL? The list of people who have started out on The Daily Show is pretty long and impressive.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'll Have What She's Having

A widespread re-creation, at the original location...

Today's Best Tweets

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

Rolling Stone ‏@RollingStone 2m
Exclusively stream a track from Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones' new Everly Brothers tribute LP, 'Foreverly':

Ron Smith ‏@oldiesmusic 4m
Andy Kaufman is alive. Me, I'm not so sure about.

John Arguello ‏@CubsDen 6m
#Cubs don't need to prove big market status by spending indiscriminately....

RainnWilson ‏@rainnwilson 8m
Squirrels: if you're reading this. It's basically winter. REMEMBER WHERE YOU'RE BURYING YOUR NUTS!!! Don't let it be like last year.

Dana Gould ‏@DanaJGould 11m
If a candle factory caught on fire, would they put it out, or would it just be soooooo relaxing.....

Gawker ‏@Gawker 12m
RT @defamer The woman claiming to be Andy Kaufman's daughter is just an actress from New York.

Not Bill Walton ‏@NotBillWalton 19m
New York Jets have signed future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed. This signing now makes the Jets serious contenders for the 2004 playoffs.

Bob Nightengale ‏@BNightengale 15m
MLB modified replay plans and now will have two challenges per game regardless of the inning instead of three

Deadspin ‏@Deadspin 16m
Toronto Argonauts not happy that Rob Ford talked about eating p*ssy while wearing their jersey:

Superdawg Chicago ‏@Superdawg 24m
We've been informed that it is National Pickle Day! Pickles are on us today...okay, maybe that's everyday, but yay!

Is Andy Kaufman Still Alive?

His brother says yes.

The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

I don't think it's true, but it sure would be great if it was.

How Did Bands Come Up With Their Names?

Former WLS legend Tommy Edwards (now at K-hits) explains the origins of a bunch of them on his blog, including The Romantics, The Doors, and Dexy's Midnight Runners.

I only knew one of those three stories.

Benghazi Really Is A Scandal Now

But it's a scandal for CBS News.

McClatchey uncovers even more inaccuracies in the 60 Minutes report. So many that CBS is now conducting a "journalistic review" of the piece.

Remember, the Microphone is Hot

FCC clears higher foreign ownership limits

From Inside Radio...

In a unanimous vote this morning, the Federal Communications Commission approved raising foreign ownership limits on radio and television stations. On a case-by-case basis, it will now allow companies to exceed the previous 25% threshold. The commissioners agreed that the move will help small and minority-owned companies gain access to capital. With national security, localism, and media diversity issues at play, new chairman Tom Wheeler said “it will be far from a rubber stamp.”

Foreign investors have been clamoring to buy American media properties. This is going to open the floodgates. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your point of view, I suppose. Media giants who have been trying to get rid of the stuff they bought for way too much money at the height of the market are certainly smililng.

SEO is Dead

At least according to inc.oom.

If this article is correct about Google's newest technology, I'm 100% in favor of it. The old way was ridiculous.

Jon Stewart Rips Chicago Pizza

Offended by Chicago pizza? Really.

Sounds like a New Yorker's skin is about as thin as his cardboard pizza.

I don't eat New York Pizza. I fold it into four sides, staple it, and store my shoes in it.

New York Pizza has the same curb appeal as a New York sidewalk on garbage day.

I don't eat New York pizza. I take it out to the dog park, and fling it through the air for my dog to fetch. She'll eat the frisbee, but she'll always bring back the New York pizza for another toss.

New York pizza is the Karen Carpenter of pizza.

But I can see why New Yorkers like it. Calling it pizza is like giving pizza the finger. And digesting it is like letting your bowels scream obscenities at everyone. What could be more New York than that? "Get outta my way! Pizza comin' trew!"

Ludicrous feedback given to script writers by TV executives

A Twitter account was started up a few years ago by a disgruntled TV writer who encouraged other disgruntled TV writers to contribute some of the ludicrous feedback given to them by TV executives. There are some great ones here...

"Our research shows women respond well to violence. Take out the lifeguard and put in the rape scene." - NBC

"I've discovered the secret to hit comedies: one word titles. Think about it...Seinfeld, The Office, The Cosby Show.." - ABC

The butt joke is insensitive towards women. (Two lines down) Please add more shots of sexy women in bikinis on the beach. - Travel

"That jacket is not conveying fear. What happened to the other jacket?" - CW

I'd love to start up one for radio too. I've heard some doozies over the years, and I'm sure my radio pals have too. Here's my personal favorite...

"Don't do the setups of the jokes. It takes too long. Just do the punchlines."

Comedians love that one.

Interesting Twist In Hacking Case

Rupert Murdoch's former editors are on trial in England, charged with phone hacking among other things. In an interesting twist yesterday, Reuters reports that the editor who oversaw the hacking was also hacked by the person she hired to hack.

Never a dull moment in the soap opera I like to call "As the Rupert Turns".

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Father Knows Nothing: Undercover Old-timer

This past weekend I attended the "Pretty Lights" concert with my son at the Aragon Ballroom. It was really my first time seeing this whole "DJ as performer" phenomenon, and I really enjoyed the show. Pretty Lights really put the time and effort into making it a show, with a great light display, a live horn section, and a live drummer. It was a little loud (I felt my entire body rattle when the bass made the Aragon Ballroom floor shake), but these ears have endured far worse. (I think they actually sustained some damage at the Van Halen show in Ludwigshafen in 1979).

For me, however, the real show was not on the stage. It was in the audience. This was an 18+ show, so there were quite a few young people there, and very few old people like me. Very few. I spotted one guy who was bald and graying and struck up a conversation.

"So," I said, "Looks like it's just the two of us."

"I work here," he replied.

"Oh, then I guess it's just me."

I'm not exaggerating when I say I was only 50+ person in the entire audience. I'm pretty sure I didn't see any 40+ers either, and it's even possible there weren't any 30+ers. How young was the audience? The line for beer was shorter than the line for the water fountain. And it was a sold out show.

But people-watching was an eye-opener for me. Let's just say that this audience wasn't concerned about running into mom or dad, so they let it all hang out. As an undercover old-timer, I have a few observations I'd like to share with the moms and dads who didn't attend.

*Most of the girls were wearing these (photo). I don't think it costs any extra to get enough material for your whole leg, honey. Oh, and I shouldn't know whether or not you are wearing underwear. Just sayin. That 18-year-old kid over there is taking snapshots and he's not aiming at your face.

*One girl was wearing a t-shirt that said "Snatch" in fancy cursive lettering above an arrow pointing down to her nether regions. Two words describe it best: "Subtle" and "Classy"

*At least she had a shirt on. Several of the girls were sporting the bra and skirt-that-barely-covers-your-rear look. Ran into a few of them in line waiting to get in the Aragon. It was 30 degrees outside, and they weren't wearing jackets either. Maybe I'm just a practical old man, but I wasn't thinking "Oooh, sexy." I was thinking "Oooh, frostbite."

*On the other hand, I saw quite a few wearing these (photo), which must have kept their calves and feet warm at least. I had to resist the urge to tap one of them on the shoulder and say: "I'm not an animal rights activist, but how many Snuffleupagusses had to die to keep your feet warm?"

*The guys, on the other hand, could have been snatched out of 1978, and transported in time. They were wearing flannel shirts, jeans, and baseball caps. Sure, their caps were askew (like Charlie Brown after giving up a homer), and the cap-bills were rigid, and a few of the caps had blinking lights, but other than that, it appears that guys haven't changed at all in the last thirty five years.

*Although I will say this to the guy wearing the "Bitches All Love Me" cap. They don't. Have you noticed that they are avoiding you like the plague? Even the girl with the "Snatch" shirt.

*One last observation, and this has nothing to do with the fashion choices. One-hitter technology has apparently progressed dramatically over the past few decades. At first I thought the kids really loved pens and flutes, but no. They were smokin' 'em.

So that's my report, moms and dads. I don't get out of the basement much, and I only have boys at home (I just made the sign of the cross as I wrote that), so I'm probably not telling you something you don't already know, but it was an educational experience for me.

Today's Best Tweets

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

Chicago Transit Authority wants to know if you've seen this woman and her gator (CTA photo)

Carmen DeFalco ‏@CarmenDeFalco 6m
Interesting reading about Sam Hurd.

ChiTribSports ‏@ChiTribSports 7m
Rodgers hints at Thanksgiving return

Crain's Chicago ‏@CrainsChicago 9m
Prosecutors oppose new trial for Blagojevich

MancowMuller ‏@MancowMuller 9m
Never trust an atom. They make up everything.

davidfrum ‏@davidfrum 10m
I've told my kids: "The day may come when you will want to say to me, 'Dad, stop publishing.' If you do, I promise I'll listen."

Slate ‏@Slate 11m
What to do if your friend's bachelor party is going to a strip club and you REALLY don't want to go: ‏@TIME 19m
Sarah Palin describes bear head boiling, jokes about Romney victory in 2028

John Arguello ‏@CubsDen 30m
#Cubs wish list: catcher, OF, SP, and closer as team expects to field a lot of calls this offseason...

Gawker ‏@Gawker 31m
FYI: There are Nic Cage sex pics out there somewhere

New song from Boston

It's called "Heaven on Earth"...

Some of the vocals were recorded by Brad Delp, who passed away a few years ago.

The Odd Couple

"JC" and "SS" remind me that today is an important day in Odd Couple history. In the opening credits, the announcer says this: "On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his wife."

Loved that show.

Waitress Gets a Surprise

I missed this when it first aired about a month ago...

A Picture of A Frozen McRib (Pre-Barb-B-Q Sauce)

I can't post it here, but you can see at the Consumerist.

I'm not sure if it's real or not (it's originally from Reddit). I just know that I will never order one again. (Not that I have ordered one in the last fifteen years or so anyway).

Wisconsin Man Calls 9-11 To Remove Snoring Woman

Only in Wisconsin. From the

A Wisconsin man called 911 early Sunday morning and asked for assistance in removing a snoring woman from his bed, police report. Benjamin Duddles, 41, dialed police around 4:20 AM to say that he wanted “a female removed from his bed,” adding that he was not sure “how she got into his apt.” He subsequently reported that he had let the woman into his home and she “just went into his bed and fell asleep.” The woman, Duddles complained, was “now snoring like a train and he wants her out.”

When officers arrived at Duddles’s Waukesha residence, he revealed they “drank together, had relations and she fell asleep.” After repairing to his living room, Duddles returned to his bedroom and could not roust the snoring woman, “so he called police,” according to a Waukesha Police Department report. The unidentified woman was “found to be fine medically, just has sleep apnea.”

Cops advised Duddles that a snoring woman in his bed was not a police matter since he had allowed her into his home. Duddles, who was not arrested, was “provided the comfort of his couch for the evening” and directed to “work out the ‘issue’ in the morning.”

Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen is a columnist for the Washington Post, and he's getting a lot of grief for this paragraph in his op ed yesterday...

People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?)
If you've ever wondered how something like that doesn't get chopped out during the editing process, you aren't alone. Jason Linkins at the Huffington Post points this out brilliantly today in his column.

Joel Hollander Joins Entercom Board

You probably don't know the name Joel Hollander. He was the CEO of CBS radio for awhile (when I worked there), and let's just say that he wasn't known for his brilliant decisions. Chicago Sun Times (at the time) media critic Robert Feder savaged him, in one of the greatest written takedowns in history. (Sadly, I couldn't find it online.)

You know what happens to these guys, however, don't you? They always wind up on their feet. After nearly destroying CBS, Hollander became the CEO of Westwood One for awhile, and CEO of Echo Place Partners. And now, he's been named to the board of directors of one of the biggest radio companies in America, Entercom.


So popular, they named a TV show character after him. Happy birthday to the original Bilko (a Cub).

Born on this day in 1928.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Q&A with "The Balding Handbook" author David Stern

Last year at this time Chicago baldologist David Stern was busily promoting his brand new "How-To" guide to balding, "The Balding Handbook". In the past year Stern has made many appearances in the area to help his balding brothers. I thought it was a good time to check back in with him to see how it has been going...

What has surprised you the most about the reaction to your book?

Stern: I am still floored every time someone compares my book to spiritual masterpieces like “Eat Pray and Love” or “Anatomy of the Spirit”. I’m humbled and flattered.

Do you have any good anecdotes from your promotional tour?

Stern: Not sure if this counts, but I received an email from a sufferer who got 24 copies of The Balding Handbook for his fortieth birthday. It’s nice to know that there are so many thoughtful people out there.

What have you learned about yourself and your writing since the book was published?

Stern: I’ve learned that I have a great responsibility to other sufferers. Sure, it’s nice to have the adulation, but it’s it can be a burden sometimes.

What is the question you hear the most, and how do you answer it?

Stern: Has anyone sued you, yet? I answer by looking for a piece of wood to knock.

Tell me why your book would make the perfect Christmas present.

Stern: Santa is balding, enough said.

That's a fine idea by Mr. Stern, if you think about it. What if all of us bought a copy of "The Balding Handbook" and left it out along with the glass of milk and plate full of cookies this year? Maybe if we all bond together to send Santa a message, we can finally help him overcome his isolation problem, and give him the courage to move back down south of the pole.

David may be a dreamer, but he's not the only one.

The Balding Handbook is available here at Eckhartz Press.

(Photos below, going through the five stages of grieving for his hair loss)

Seven Things Good Parents Do To Screw Up Their Kids

This is from, but it's not a bit. It's based on actual research. I'll list the seven things below, you can check out the research here.

7. Giving Your Kids a Creative Name
(Normal names are more likely to be upstanding citizens. You're welcome Tommy, Johnny, and Sean)

6. Teaching Them To Be Themselves
(Peer pressure does lead to more well-adjusted kids.)

5. Making Them Play Sports
(According to studies, athletes are among the most dishonest kids in school)

4. Starting Them In School Early
(Anxiety and low self-esteem are far more likely)

3. Warning Them About Strangers
(It can lead to xenophobia)

2. Heaping Praise On Them
(This is a big duh, if you ask me)

1. Showing Them Educational Videos
(Human on human contact is way more beneficial)

That last one should come with an asterisk. It's not screwing them's just not helping them. That's a big difference, if you ask me. In fact, I'd argue that the thirty minute break for mom and dad helps everybody in the long run, so phooey on that study.

The Candidates to Replace Keith Moreland

The Cubs are looking for a radio analyst after Keith Moreland unexpectedly retired. The Tribune lists the candidates...

Mark DeRosa: The popular ex-Cub interviewed for the TV vacancy last winter, but signed / to play / with the Blue Jays. DeRosa eventually plans to go into broadcasting and said in September the Cubs' TV job was tempting...But the Blue Jays picked up his $750,000 option for 2014 on Nov. 1.

Kerry Wood: The retired Cubs pitcher said last winter he wasn't interested in going into broadcasting. Even so, Wood still might be the top choice of the Ricketts family.

Cliff Floyd: The former Cubs first baseman/outfielder hails from the south suburbs and has distinguished himself in various roles at Fox Sports Florida, Sirius XM Radio and MLB Network.

Mark Grace: After serving time in a Phoenix jail for his second DUI, the former Cubs first baseman and analyst for Diamondbacks broadcasts could be interested in a second chance in broadcasting.

Todd Hollandsworth: The former Cubs outfielder and current co-host of the Cubs' pre- and postgame shows on Comcast SportsNet is looking to expand his duties.

Doug Glanville: The former Cubs outfielder would've been one of the finalists for Brenly's job but signed an extension with ESPN.

Steve Stone: One of the more renowned broadcasters in Cubs history, Stone appears more comfortable in the White Sox TV booth.

Andy Masur: The Padres broadcaster once worked as Hughes' fill-in for an inning a game, but the Cubs are focused on hiring a former player.

Steve Lyons: The former analyst for Fox's "Game of the Week" broadcasts, Lyons recently was let go from the Dodgers' booth.

Rick Sutcliffe: The former Cubs Cy Young Award winner was interested in their TV job but is unlikely to leave ESPN for radio.

Dave Otto: Former Cubs analyst lost out to Moreland as Santo's replacement.

Today's Best Tweets

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

Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 8m
Curtis Granderson just said on Hot Stove that his No. 1 goal as a free agent is to join a winner.

Brett Taylor ‏@BleacherNation 7m
#Cubs: Details on the Wrigley Field 100-Year Anniversary Celebration Next Season

Abraham Lincoln ‏@Mr_Lincoln 51m
Anyone who claims that a law they don't like is "slavery," should be forced to experience true slavery for even a day. Anyone.

kippermcgee ‏@kippermcgee 14m
Morning Blend: "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." ~Mark Twain

Mike North ‏@North2North 31m
Ditka says lack of hitting and practice has caused bad tackling and more injuries..wants the NFL to practice like men....Da Coach

Brian Stelter ‏@brianstelter 43m
I'm joining @CNN as the network's senior media correspondent and the host of "Reliable Sources."

Brian Stelter ‏@brianstelter 33m
I've been at the @nytimes since college so it's surreal to be leaving. I've learned everything here. To my colleagues: thank you.

Mike Baker ‏@MikeBaker45s 35m
Chicago-based @MillerCoors is discontinuing Miller Chill, the lime-flavored beer

Brian Switek ‏@Laelaps 6m
All squid are cool, but @mental_floss has narrowed down a list of 11 especially impressive teuthids

HuffPost Chicago ‏@HuffPostChicago 10m
ICYMI: D-Rose suffers "minor" injury in Bulls win over Cavs

Billy Goat Tavern To Be Displaced

A new development is being built on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, directly above the Billy Goat Tavern (which is on lower Michigan), so the Billy Goat is going to be "temporarily" displaced.

That is a major bummer. The Billy Goat is the only bar worth going to in downtown Chicago these days. I was just there the other night. If they have to "rebuild" it, I fear it will lose all of it's dingy yellowing atmosphere.

One Coin Produces Musical Miracle

This is pretty cool, even though it's a bank commercial...

Most Unusual Protest Ever

How would you protest living in a Russian police state?

I can think of a few different ways, but I'm fairly certain I never would have come up with this one. A man nailed his own testicles into the ground in front of horrified tourists in Moscow.

You gotta admit, it took some balls to pull that off.


Yoko has a new song out...and the 80-year-old (that's right, 80) does a pretty good job with this one...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Steve & Garry in the Hall of Fame

I was going to attend the Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night, but my son asked me to go to a concert with him that same night, and that was an offer I couldn't pass up. (He never asks me to go anywhere with him) So, I missed the induction of my old bosses. I saw the pictures of the event--looks like a few of my old pals were there--including Wendy Snyder and Jimmy Mac McInerny.

As he promised, Steve didn't attend. His wife Janet wrote about the reasons. (Janet's a good writer, by the way)

But there's something else that everyone is talking about from that night. Robert Feder wrote an article listing the people that Garry thanked in his speech, and Steve wasn't one of them.

Carla Leonardo

Sad news in the local radio world. WDRV disc jockey Carla Leonardo lost her battle with leukemia over the weekend. Larz at Chicagolandradio and media has the story.

I never actually met Carla in person, but I spoke to her on the phone, interviewed her for Chicago Radio Spotlight, and had frequent communications with her via facebook. This past summer she even gave me some vacation tips for my trip to Cape Cod (she once lived there). I was sure that she was getting better because until the very end she was posting spunky comments. (Her last was on November 6th).

If you'd like to get an idea of how she was before the disease returned, check out the Chicago Radio Spotlight interview. If you want to get a picture of bravery, read her facebook page.

UPDATE: Robert Feder's Carla obit is here.

UPDATE: Her colleague Greg Easterling's touching tribute.