Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Ideas

If you're one of those people who doesn't like to leave the house on Black Friday, it doesn't mean you can't get Christmas shopping done. There's a local Chicago press that has potential gifts for everyone on your list, and you can shop there without leaving your home. Books, t-shirts, CDs, and more. OK, not more. But we do have books, t-shirts and CDs. Just an idea.

Go to the Eckhartz Press store.


There's also a local Chicago website that has potential Cubs-related gifts for everyone on your list, and you can shop there without leaving your home. T-shirts, Onesies, hats, 1908 Baseball cards, and more. OK, not more. But we do have t-shirts, onesies, hats, and 1908 baseball cards.

Go to the Just One Bad Century souvenir shop.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wishing You A Very Brady Thanksgiving

Everything I Know About Germans

I have to say, Australian author Liv Hambrett has the whole psyche of Germans and Germany nailed.

I think I only disagreed with a handful of her 149 observations.

Check out the list here.

Today's Best Tweets

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

Karis Hustad ‏@karishustad 1m
“Man, it feels more and more like 1999 every day,” tweeted Bill Gurley, venture capitalist in #SiliconValley … #tech

Chicago Bears 360 ‏@ChicagoBears360 4m
Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings: Betting Odds Analysis and Pick Prediction - Bleacher Report

Rich Samuels ‏@rsamuels 7m
Greg Hinz of Crain's gives the bird to the deserving: Turkey time arrives again for Chicago pols @CrainsChicago

Chet Coppock ‏@ChetCoppock 8m
Anybody who suggests the bulls should tank never played sports....or figures season ticket holders should be screwed....

Beth Rosen ‏@BethRosen 10m
It is a bit crazy but now that I'm an empty nester and the kids are home on break- I don't mind doing their laundry - just don't tell them

Lizz Winstead ‏@lizzwinstead 10m
Botox is used for migraines too. Lotta women in Beverly Hills must have bad headaches.

Neil deGrasse Tyson ‏@neiltyson 11m
I like new ideas & old wines. New software & old books. Water fountains & fountain pens. New discoveries & old friends.

Slate ‏@Slate 13m
World Cup stadium collapses in Brazil, killing at least three:

John Arguello ‏@CubsDen 13m
Day before Thanksgiving, will Cubs make that last push to get a deal done? Blue Jays still seem like most likely Samardzija destination.

Steve Scott ‏@SteveScottWCBS 14m
"Rudolph" beats "Dancing" finale in TV ratings! Yay for those of us of a certain age! #reindeergames

Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

The last few years we haven't had any inductees, but this year we're guaranteed to get at least one (Greg Maddux) and possibly more (Tom Glavine? Frank Thomas? Craig Biggio?)

Here's the list, with last year's vote totals next to them (if they were on the ballot last year)...

Moises Alou
Jeff Bagwell 339 59.6% 3
Armando Benitez
Craig Biggio 388 68.2% 1
Barry Bonds 206 36.2% 1
Sean Casey
Roger Clemens 214 37.6% 1
Ray Durham
Eric Gagne
Tom Glavine
Luis Gonzalez
Jacque Jones
Todd Jones
Jeff Kent
Paul Lo Duca
Greg Maddux
Edgar Martinez 204 35.9% 4
Don Mattingly 75 13.2% 13
Fred McGriff 118 20.7% 4
Mark McGwire 96 16.9% 7
Jack Morris 385 67.7% 14
Mike Mussina
Hideo Nomo
Rafael Palmeiro 50 8.8% 3
Mike Piazza 329 57.8% 1
Tim Raines 297 52.2% 6
Kenny Rogers
Curt Schilling 221 38.8% 1
Richie Sexson
Lee Smith 272 47.8% 11
J.T. Snow
Sammy Sosa 71 12.5% 1
Frank Thomas
Mike Timlin
Alan Trammell 191 33.6% 12
Larry Walker 123 21.6% 3

Cutting Room Floor, "Records Truly Is My Middle Name (The Soundtrack)"

The Eckhartz Press Blog features an awesome outtake from "Records Truly Is My Middle Name (The Soundtrack)". It's an NPR report from the 1970s, that also includes a classic JRL Boogie Check.

You can read about it and listen to it here.

Classic Rock Radio is NOT Dead

In Chicago, WDRV (The Drive) has excellent ratings, and according to Tom Taylor's NOW column, it's also strong around the country...

Classic rock looks pretty hot. The format hasn’t exactly been on the dark side of the moon (sorry, Pink Floyd fans), but it’s gotten less attention lately than country, CHR, hot AC, sports, and a few others. But check the trend that’s been building in some PPM markets – For the third time since this Summer, CBS Radio’s classic rock KZOK tops the Seattle market with 6+ AQH share, here in the brand-new November book. Perhaps even bigger news is that CBS’s classic rock WZLX just won the Boston book (though narrowly). That’s literally the first time that a rock outlet of any stripe has led the market since WBCN (R.I.P.) did it in the second Reagan Administration. (The year was 1987.) And in Phoenix, Hubbard’s classic rock KSLX is now up to third place, 4.5-4.9-5.1. Those broad 6+ shares mask even more impressive adult numbers – which your local classic rock sales rep will proudly tell you about. Same for results in terms of loyalty to the format and the music.

That's right fellow rockers, we may look like dinosaurs, but we aren't dead yet.

The World's Most Expensive Book

The world's most expensive book sold this week for $14 million at Sotheby's.

"The Bay Psalm Book", a translation of Biblical psalms, was printed by Puritan settlers in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640. It's the very first book published in this country.

I'm sure the printer was a week or so past his deadline, and Ye Olde Bookstore took 40% off the top. Some things have never changed.

Lara Logan's Leave of Absence

From TV Newser this morning, Lara Logan and her producer are taking a leave of absence. That request came from their boss...

Lara Logan, the correspondent on the discredited Benghazi “60 Minutes” story will be taking a leave of absence from the program in the wake of the release of an internal report on the matter.

In an email to staff, obtained by TVNewser, CBS News chairman Jeff Fager writes, “I have asked Lara Logan, who has distinguished herself and has put herself in harm’s way many times in the course of covering stories for us, to take a leave of absence, which she has agreed to do. I have asked the same of producer Max McClellan, who also has a distinguished career at CBS News.”

Fager, who is also the executive producer of “60 Minutes” is taking some of the blame for the report. “I am responsible for what gets on the air. I pride myself in catching almost everything, but this deception got through and it shouldn’t have.”

Alec Baldwin's Show Not Coming Back to MSNBC

The supposed reason was his recent gay slur incident, but I suspect MSNBC was going to get rid of it anyway.

It was a really bad show.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Q & A with "Recalled to Life" author Dan Burns


In June Eckhartz Press released Dan Burns' debut novel, "Recalled to Life". The heartwarming father/son story has been well received, and Dan has been all over the place promoting the book. I recently caught up with him to find out how that promotional tour has been going...

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

DAN: What I never expected, and what I truly love, is that I have heard back from so many readers with their very different and personal interpretations of the story and what it means to them. It’s so rewarding to be able to write a story, with my own intent and experience and perspective, and then to hear back from people where the story resonated with them in a similar manner. It’s just as rewarding when the reader experiences something very different from the book. I know that if I asked one thousand people to read my novel, there is a good chance that I would get one thousand very different and personal interpretations. That is certainly a benefit of writing fiction that I did not initially expect, and I look forward to hearing about every single one of those interpretations.

Do you have any good anecdotes from your promotional tour?

DAN: I had the fortunate opportunity to be at the Chicago Writers Association tent at the Printers Row Lit Fest this past summer. I had my book out on display and people were coming by to look and to talk to me about my story. I looked up, and I noticed a gentleman standing about five feet away, in the background, and he was looking at me and smiling. I returned his gaze, curiously. He said, “I get it. I get the allusion!” He smiled and nodded his head, pleased with himself, and then he turned and hurried away.

He was referring to the title of my book, Recalled to Life, and my indirect but intentional reference to the Charles Dickens classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, and the message “recalled to life” that signified Dr. Manette’s second chance at life after being held captive in the Bastille prison for eighteen years. The gentleman at the Lit Fest was the first person to ever share such a revelation with me. I raised my arms and yelled, “Yes!” I wanted to climb over the table and hug him, but he was already gone and lost in the crowd. I thought that if anyone, he was the one person that needed to have a copy of my book. I hoped that he would come back, so that I could give him a copy, but he never did. Maybe he will read this interview and contact me so I can personally thank him and send him a book.

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

DAN: Being a writer is a humbling experience. Every single day I realize that I have an opportunity improve my skills as a writer. I have a responsibility to improve—a responsibility to the reading public and myself. Every writing project I complete defines my writing career at that specific point in time. But then there is always what comes next, and what comes next needs to be better.

I try to make a conscious effort to improve my writing on a daily basis. I have a fairly extensive library of books on writing, and I find myself going to them often if I have a question or need help with something I’m working on. We have all heard that to be a better writer, you need to be a better reader, and I believe that statement to be indisputable. So, I read a lot of books across a diverse range of authors and genres. Ultimately, the best way for me to improve my writing is to just keep writing—a little at a time—on a regular and consistent basis. Only by getting the words down onto the page do I get the ability to read, review, and revise what I have written, and I find that the process of revision is often the best teacher.

I know that my writing is getting better, but it takes time and it’s a continual learning process. I also realize that much of what I wrote earlier in my career could benefit from another revision or two, and that’s okay. I can read a short story from years back and I can see where it is that I came from, and where I am at today in terms of my writing abilities. Every day is a learning experience, and it’s one of the great benefits of being a writer.

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

DAN: Many people ask me if the story of Recalled to Life is autobiographical. I have come to think that the question arises most often because the story is so real, believable, and relatable. The story is not autobiographical but like everything I write, all that I have crammed into my head over the last fifty years influences it, and my head is chock-full of goodies. Everything I’ve read and learned and experienced, in some way, seeps into the stories whether I realize it or not.

One of the more wonderful aspects of being a writer is that I get to become other characters. I get to create a character and put that character in a situation, and then I get to put myself into the head of that character. I get to pose the questions and the character gets to provide the answers. The result is that the character takes me on a journey and it is often a journey that I never expected. Sometimes I get to lead the way and sometimes the character leads me. It’s an awful lot of fun.

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

DAN: Recalled to Life is a timeless story about family and the importance of taking the opportunity every now and then to put all of life’s distractions aside to focus on what is most important. Similarly, the holiday season is one of those times for us to take a break from work and all those activities that fill our daily lives. It’s a time to get together with friends and family to celebrate love and friendship, and when everything has settled down, to curl up with a good book. Why not bring Recalled to Life and the O’Hara family into your home and into the lives of your friends and family. They will be glad that you did.

"Recalled to Life" is available right here at Eckhartz Press.


Landecker CD Press

Thanks so much to Larz at Chicagoland Radio & Media for his kind words about "Records Truly Is My Middle Name (The Soundtrack)".

As he promises in the piece, there will be more free offerings on our website too. I'll post another one tomorrow.


From The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac, this little tidbit from 45 years ago today...

November 26, 1968…At London's Royal Albert Hall, Cream played their last concert (until their reunion concert in 2005). Yes and Taste were also on the bill. The crowd of more than 10,000 fans chanted "God save the Cream" when the band left the stage.

I Love This New Pope

I don't like to brag, but the Pope is my facebook friend. (It's true) Here's his latest advice to his flock, courtesy of TPM...

In the frank and often funny style that has come to define Francis' preaching, the Argentine Jesuit chastised priests for their complacency, giving them a lesson on preparing homilies that don't put the faithful to sleep. He reminded them that confession shouldn't be "torture," and told them to get out of their sacristies, get their shoes muddy, get involved in the lives of their faithful and not be defeatist "sourpusses." He said their greatest concern must be the poor and marginalized, since they are victims of an unjust, global economic system that prizes profit over people. He said the poor need the tender, merciful love that the church can provide.

I'm 50 years old and have never felt better about being a Catholic.

The Best College Towns

Champaign-Urbana is #7 on the list. (Really? I went there, and I enjoyed it and all, but really?)

#1 on the list is Ithica New York.

How they painted Bond's Golden Girl

This was always fascinating to me because there were so many rumors about what happened to Julie Eaton after she starred in this movie. Did she really die because of the gold paint?

No, she's still alive.

This piece is a pretty cool look back at how they painted her--a job that someone was actually paid to do. ("How was work today honey?" "Grueling! I had to paint that beautiful naked woman again.")

Spanish Radio May Be a Bit Different After All


Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo -- the biggest star on Spanish radio -- forced his employees to watch him defecate, pee in bottles, and subjected them to endless sexual abuses ... so claim former workers. We obtained a letter 6 ex-employees sent to Piolin's lawyer, claiming the radio host

-- Forced several employees to watch him defecate
-- Regularly peed into bottles in the studio
-- Grabbed his erect penis through his pants and rubbed it on employees
-- Routinely exposed himself and called male employees "f**gots."
-- Grabbed employees' genitals and insisted they "liked" it
-- Bit people

You know, I used to think I was treated badly in my early days as a radio employee, but I was never subjected to any of these things. I could create my own list, of course, but it wouldn't be quite as gross or illegal.

The Money Honey

Michael Wolff examines the departure of CNBC's Money Honey, and points out something that is really hard to dispute...Nobody seems to care.

It's a tough piece, but I also think it's fair.

HohoKam is No More

The Cubs former spring training facility in Mesa was called "Hohokam Park" for years. It was an unusual name that didn't really roll off the tongue, but it named by the town of Mesa.

Well, as part of the new deal which produced the brand new facility (opening this coming spring), the Cubs now have naming rights to their ballpark. They are shopping it around hoping for a big money offer (which I'm sure they'll get).

In the meantime, it's called...Cubs Park.

By the way, in an unrelated Cubs story, yesterday was the anniversary of Joe DiMaggio's birth, and I neglected to point you to my all-time favorite Cubs failure story in Cubs 365. It's the story of the day the Cubs passed on Joe DiMaggio.

As the Rupert Turns

The trial of Rupert Murdoch's former right-hand-woman Rebekkah Brooks is going on in England, and the juicy details are beginning to emerge.

Yesterday golfer Colin Montgomerie's ex-wife testified, and claimed that Brooks boasted about how easy it was to hack into a celebrity's voicemail. There were charges and counter-charges, snipping and sniping, and just about everything you could ask for in a high-profile trial.

Details are in the Mail Online.

Inside a Twitter Robot Factory

I have a few friends who are Twitter experts. They keep telling me about this whole underground world of fake Twitter accounts, and how they work, and why they exist, and it just sounds all so nefarious. But when the Wall Street Journal writes about it, maybe it's time I stop dismissing my friends as conspiracy kooks...

One day earlier this month, Jim Vidmar bought 1,000 fake Twitter accounts for $58 from an online vendor in Pakistan.

He then programmed the accounts to "follow" the Twitter account of rapper Dave Murrell, who calls himself Fyrare and pays Mr. Vidmar to boost his standing on the social network. Mr. Vidmar's fake accounts also rebroadcast Mr. Murrell's tweets, amplifying his Twitter voice.

Mr. Murrell says he sometimes buys Twitter ads to raise his profile, "but you'll get more with Jim." He says many Twitter users try to make their followings look bigger than they are. "If you're not padding your numbers, you're not doing it right," he says. "It's part of the game."

I guess I'm not doing it right.

Couric Leaves ABC For....Yahoo?

Not sure exactly how this is going to work, but Katie Couric is leaving ABC News, and has signed a deal with Yahoo! The New York Times has the details.

And I have an excuse to post my favorite picture again.*

*I'm not sexist. I'm just very pro-cheerleader.

Chicago Radio Ratings

From Tom Taylor's NOW column this morning...

It’s 18 wins in the last 19 books for Clear Channel’s urban AC “V103” WVAZ, 6.2-6.5-6.6. CBS all-news WBBM (AM plus FM simulcast) remains a strong second, 5.4-6.2-6.0. Third place is Hubbard’s simulcast-with-streaming hot AC “Mix” WTMX, 5.2-5.2-4.7. Sister classic hits “Drive” WDRV ranks #6, improving 3.8-4.1-4.2 for its best share since June 2012. Tribune’s under-construction talk WGN drops to ninth place, 4.0-4.0-3.9, though it’s basically flat, and just a particle behind CBS rhythmic “B96” WBBM-FM (3.7-3.8-4.0). Windy City cume leader is Clear Channel CHR “Kiss” WKSC at 2.3 million. In share, it’s tied for fourth place at a 4.3.

Tornado Relief Day At WGN

The Chicago area has been rallying around the people of nearby Washington, Illinois, and today WGN is taking it one step further. From Radio-Online...

WGN Radio and the McCormick Foundation have announced that Tuesday, November 26th will be Illinois Tornado Relief Day. Starting with the Steve Cochran Show at 5am, the station will host a 24-hour campaign for listeners to donate to the newly-established Illinois Tornado Relief Fund. WGN-TV and the Chicago Tribune will also join in the effort to promote additional fundraising for the day.

"We've all been touched by the stories of communities coming together following last Sunday's storms," said Todd Manley, Vice President of Content for WGN Radio. "Our WGN and Tribune families kept searching for ways to help. Now, like so many times before, we'll trust in the generosity of our wonderful listeners, viewers, and readers."

The Illinois Tornado Relief Effort, a campaign of the McCormick Foundation, will support nonprofit agencies providing disaster relief and recovery efforts to those communities hit hardest by the storms. The Foundation will match the first $500,000 raised at 50 cents on the dollar. All administrative costs are paid by the foundation and its partners, allowing 100% of all money raised, including the match, to be granted directly to the nonprofit agencies. The first round of grants will distributed by the end of 2013.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Today's Best Tweets

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

Los Angeles Times ‏@latimes 5m
A man who tried to catch a woman as she plummeted 50 feet at the Oakland Coliseum saved her from certain death

jon greenberg ‏@jon_greenberg 20m
DRose will have surgery on his right knee today. New NBA rules require him to talk to media within week of injury "if medically possible."

Chet Coppock ‏@ChetCoppock 7m
The #Bulls are showing remarkable support for Derrick Rose. behind closed doors, pax and company gotta be going nuts

Robert Feder ‏@RobertFeder 10m
Chicago Newspaper Guild "ready to move forward with management to make sure the company remains successful."

Al Yellon ‏@bleedcubbieblue 15m
The story of how the #Cubs Darwin Barney made a fan's day:

Slate ‏@Slate 1m
Thanksgivukkah: Bad for America, bad for Jews.

The Onion ‏@TheOnion 5m
[American Voices] “Looks like I owe that weird nut guy at work an apology.”

Ari Melber ‏@AriMelber 11m
Blackberry drops its CEO and CMO. As long as they don't drop the keyboard, we're still good...

Disrupt with Karen ‏@msnbcDisrupt 17m
Pres. Kennedy's funeral: Watch it as it happened, 50 years ago today … #JFK50Years

Deadspin ‏@Deadspin 18m
Chris Long did not have much fun playing against his brother yesterday:

Boardwalk Empire

My favorite show on television is "Boardwalk Empire" on HBO. It has all the elements that made "The Sopranos" great, plus it takes place during perhaps the most interesting time in American history. It's an era I've researched thoroughly for a novel I haven't yet written (and might never write). From everything I've read about that era, the show's creators have re-created those early prohibition years perfectly. Every detail feels just right.

They are also completely loyal to the actual fates of the historical characters. I was worried for a second last night when Johnny Torrio was shot that they might take the easy way out, and just have him die there. I knew in real life, he didn't die in Chicago. He retired to Italy. Sure enough, they got that right too.

In fact, I thought last night's season finale was the best episode of the entire series run. The way it ended was simply perfect.

Rolling Stone has a great interview with Terence Winter, the genius behind the show. He shares his thoughts about last night's episode, and teases what might happen in the future.

Great-Grandfather Mick?

Mick Jagger will be a great-grandfather in a few months. USA Today has the details.

"Family Guy" Kills Off One of its Characters

I do enjoy an occasional episode of "Family Guy" but I wasn't watching last night when they killed off one of my favorite characters. The producer of the show does a Q&A on eonline, to explain the thinking behind this drastic move.

Chickenman Online

This is exciting news for those of us who remember the famed winged warrior of WCFL (and Dick Orkin) fame. According to Radio-Online, episodes of Chickenman can now be heard on Although, word of warning, I just checked the site and they aren't there yet. (As of Monday at 7:30am)

As the Rupert Turns

Last week I was lamenting that the details of Rupert Murdoch's divorce were not revealed. It wasn't because I wanted to enjoy some Schadenfreude at Rupert's expense. It was because I've been following him for many years (ever since I researched for "$everance"), and I knew there would be some eye-opening revelations. The man's life is more interesting and dramatic than an actual soap opera (which is why I call this segment 'As the Rupert Turns').

Today the details are beginning to leak out, and wouldn't you know it? I was right. According to this report, Tony Blair is somehow a part of this story. Now keep in mind this report comes from the British tabloids, and they've been known to smear people's reputations for sport, but let's remember who made his fortune by publishing those very same British tabloids.

I may not be experiencing Schadenfreude, but how much do you want to bet that some of Rupert's (metaphorical) victims over the years are eagerly lapping up some Schadenfreude soup this morning?

Jay Leggett

This is a shocking development in the improv community. Jay Leggett, a former staple at the ImprovOlympic, has passed away at the ridiculously young age of 50. (The Tribune has the story) I only met Jay once or twice, and that was more than 20 years ago, but I heard lots of stories about him from my "The Living Wills" writing partner Brendan Sullivan--another former member of the Blue Velveeta troupe at ImprovOlympic. Jay had been living in LA ever since he made the cast of "In Living Color" back in 1993.

Great Commercial

Good to see a few guys can laugh at themselves...

Cumulus Pulls the Plug on Geraldo

His show was nationally syndicated by Cumulus, but they announced yesterday that they are pulling the plug on his syndication deal. At the end of the year, Geraldo's show will strictly be a local show in New York for WABC.

Details at Radio Insight.