Friday, December 13, 2013

Eckhartz Press Thanks You!

Big year for us at Eckhartz Press. Thanks for all of your support!

Dick Van Dyke

Happy 88th birthday to the star of my favorite television show of all-time, Dick Van Dyke. Here's a seasonally appropriate clip...

Friday the 13th

It's supposed to be the unluckiest day of all, but why? PolicyMic explains. Here's an excerpt...

No one knows for sure where a fear of Friday the 13th comes from. Some point to the last supper of Jesus Christ. The 13th guest at the table – Judas – ratted him out to the Romans, leading to Jesus’ crucifixion one day later, on a Friday. At least that’s how the story goes. Others link Friday the 13th to Norse mythology, which includes the tale of another dinner party (what’s up with these dinners going horribly?) Legend says the Norse gods were dining together when a 13th uninvited guest, Loki, arrived. One thing led to another and Loki arranged the death of Balder, the god of joy, for which the “whole earth mourned.”

There's also a general fear of the number 13 itself. The idea that so many things are organized in groups of 12 – months, zodiac signs, apostles, tribes of Israel, etc. – might be why 13 is considered unlucky. Just don’t tell that to any bakers you know.

But most contemporary references to a fear of the number 13 didn’t hit the mainstream until the 19th century. One of the earliest superstitions around the number 13 included “if 13 people sit at a table together, one will die within a year” (again with these dinners, come on).

Friday the 13th has some troubled history, too. On Friday, Oct. 13, 1307, France’s King Philip IV began a raid against the Knights Templar, charging them with illegal activity and throwing them in prison, where many of them eventually died.

What about people born on Friday the 13th? Are all of them evil? Well, it depends who you ask. Births on Friday the 13th feature some notable names, including Fidel Castro, the Olsen twins, and noted witch Nate Silver.

Maybe we should just ask Nate Silver for the odds of it being a bad day today. I'm sure he's got all the statistical models already built.

As for me, I can't remember ever having a bad day on Friday the 13th. In fact, my son Johnny was scheduled to be born on Friday the 13th of March 1998. Fate intervened, however, and Bridget's water broke the day before. Johnny was born on the 12th.

Today's Best Tweets

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

Time Out Chicago ‏@TimeOutChicago 47m
It's like Christmas came early! Our annual list of the 100 best things we ate and drank this year: #100BestDishes

Matt Taibbi ‏@mtaibbi 32m
New post: video artifacts of pure subprime-era villainy, courtesy of a recent multibillion-dollar court case:

Brett Taylor ‏@BleacherNation 7m
#Cubs: The Asking Price for Jeff Samardzija Has Indeed Been as Lofty as it Should Be

People magazine ‏@peoplemag 10m
Think your kids' Santa pics are cute? Just wait'll they've taken the same pic for 34 years, like these guys:

davidfrum ‏@davidfrum 10m
Radio hosts Levin & Beck talk amicably. … Most surprising reconciliation since Betty & Veronica,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_.jpg …

Chicago Bears 360 ‏@ChicagoBears360 15m
Best, Worst Case Scenarios for Chicago Bears Playoff Run - Bleacher Report

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 18h
How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived

Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN 48m
Cano felt disrespected by the Yankees, who offered $175m. Should the Yankees feel disrespected because Cano didn't accept their first offer?

Joseph Carlson ‏@joscarlson 59m
Study in the 'festive' December edition of the BMJ documents all the drinks in Bond novels. Shocker: 007 is a drunk

WPGU1071 ‏@WPGU1071 1h
Weird Fact of the Day: Swans only have one partner for their entire life - If that partner passes away, they can die of a broken heart. #WFD

Social Farters

Yes, it's sophomoric, but I am who I am. It made me laugh.

Ed Schultz

Ed Schultz is a host on MSNBC. I have a hard time watching him because he isn't the most articulate when it comes to explaining his position. When he gets into a "debate" with someone who disagrees with him, he gets schooled pretty routinely.

He does, however, have a real passion for a few causes, and one of those is American labor. He defends the labor position more consistently and vociferously than anyone else in the media.

That's why this piece in Politico is so troubling.

It appears he's being paid to do so. Even if there's a logical explanation for these payments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the perception of impropriety is unmistakable. This is why journalists are not supposed to accept money from people they may have to cover. I know Ed isn't a journalist, but he is on an all-news station.

He's giving his critics legitimate ammunition by taking that money.

Ant Hill Art

These are fire ants. If they were regular ants it would feel gratuitously mean to me. They're pretty harmless...especially in a hill like this in your backyard. (I think I'm getting soft in my old age)

Cumulus Flirting with Anti-Trust

Cumulus is the second largest radio company in the country (locally they own WLS AM/FM) and they've been on a buying spree lately. Their most recent purchase of Westwood One, however, does have some potential anti-trust implications. Tom Taylor explores that asterisk in his newsletter...

Justice could still weigh in with some post-closing “remedies” to what it might call an anti-competitive situation. This NOW Newsletter continues to hear from folks who’ve been interviewed by the DOJ, and several say the agency’s focusing in part on the satellite-provider situation. Cumulus buying the former Dial Global means that Cumulus now owns two satellite delivery platforms. That’s a classic anti-trust question – will the merger raise prices for its third-party customers? Here’s what Cumulus said officially, last night – it “believes the merger does not raise any anti-competitive issues [but] it continues to voluntarily assist the DOJ with its evaluation.” Then comes the safety clause – the company “cannot predict if the DOJ will elect to seek, or obtain, any remedies.” Hypothetically, those might include requiring Cumulus to continue servicing WestwoodOne customers at their existing rates, for a period of time. Or requiring it to offer access to new customers.

My thoughts on this matter are well known. If you don't know them, read "$everance".

Josh Groban Christmas 2013

Ron Coomer

In some ways the person who gets the Cubs radio job is almost more important to us than the players on the field. Players come and go, but the radio voice spends all summer with us, every summer. Meet our new summer radio companion, Ron Coomer. (Robert Feder has the details)

Coomer is a native Chicagoan (although I'm pretty sure he came from the South Side and grew up a Sox fan), and played for the Cubs one season--2001.


Sorry Duchess of York, and sorry singer from the Black Eyed Peas, in Chicago there will always be only one Fergie. Fergie Jenkins.

It's Fergie's birthday, and there's an awesome film of him posted at Cubs 365 today. It was made during his stint with the Cubs for Canadian television.

You can watch it here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Life Behind The Camera" Now Available on Amazon

If you’ve been holding off buying our latest book “Life Behind The Camera” by Chuck Quinzio until it came out on amazon for your kindle, your wait is now over!

Click here to purchase the e-book.

You’re Keeping Our Shipping Department Busy! Thanks, the Exercise is Good For Them

Our shipping department has been groaning a bit at the huge number of orders that have been flying in the Eckhartz Press offices, especially for our two latest products, “Life Behind the Camera” by Chuck Quinzio and “Records Truly Is My Middle Name (The Soundtrack)” by John Records Landecker.

Keep those orders coming! Our shipping department looks healthier than ever with all of this hustling. Consider the exercise you’re giving them an extra Christmas treat.

Today's Best Tweets

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

Hub Arkush ‏@Hub_Arkush 4m
In his notebook, @kfishbain on a very impressive Browns defense Jay Cutler is (likely) set to face Sunday:

Ezra Klein ‏@ezraklein 7m
The map of states with the most deaths from cancer sure looks a lot like the map of states with the most smoking:

Java Joel Murphy ‏@javajoel 21m
. @LadyGaGa Posing nude every 10 minutes for magazines no one gives a crap about will not sell records. Good songs do.

John Arguello ‏@CubsDen 15m
#Cubs acquire Justin Ruggiano for Brian Bogusevic...

Justin Ruggiano ‏@justinruggiano 33m
@Cubs Let's do this! Excited about my new city, and most of all the fans! I've always loved this city and feel blessed to call it home!

Matt Yglesias ‏@mattyglesias 6m
You shouldn’t go swimming in a giant pool of gold coins: … #slatepitch from @EmmaRoller

Sam Stein ‏@samsteinhp 10m
Is there any way the sign language interpreter is not the opening act for SNL this week?

Crain's Chicago ‏@CrainsChicago 11m
Tips for holiday tipping: A guide to gifting those who make your life easier

Talking Points Memo ‏@TPM 25m
"Sexiest man alive" to promote Obamacare:

BuzzFeed UK ‏@BuzzFeedUK 2m
The man caught masturbating in Sainsburys has been banned from every supermarket in the U.K.

As the Rupert Turns

I really wish they were televising this Rebekkah Brooks (Rupert's former right-hand-woman) trial in London. There are fun twists and turns every day. Yesterday Piers Morgan was drawn into it.

Reuters has the details.

Holiday Office Party Tips

Some excellent office party advice at

It's common sense, but you'd be surprised how many people don't heed that advice. I've attended some memorable office parties over the years, and seen some things that I couldn't believe I was seeing or hearing. These are all true stories, and they're from multiple different companies.

*One year somebody thought it would be hilarious to "spice" up the gag reel of that year's bloopers with clips of gay porn.

*Another year I saw a bunch of co-workers congregating in the DJ booth, so I walked in to request a song (like I assumed they were doing), saw little white lines on the counter, and was told: 'Rick, you didn't see anything.'

*One year a co-worker and a boss (one of each gender) disappeared into the unisex bathroom (at the same time). Their spouses were both at the party.

*One year an ex-employee showed up to apologize for the way he left the company, and a fist-fight nearly broke out between him and the boss. They had to be physically seperated.

*That same year a huge drapery caught on fire and had to be put out with a fire extinguisher.

*I arrived at one party a little late, only to discover it had set sail and was out on Lake Michigan.

*One year a boss blatantly and graphically hit on my wife...right in front of me.

*We were seated at a table with co-workers I barely knew one year, and the woman next to me spent the entire night ripping her ex-husband, who I had never met.

*One year the boss banned Christmas music because he personally hated it. "You guys can do your whole Jesus thing somewhere else."

My old Loop colleague Buzz Kilman used to tell me that there were only a few hard and fast rules in the world, but one of them was "always go to your office holiday party". I used to think he was right, but as I was writing the examples above, I started to reassess the wisdom of that advice.

Louis CK on Racism

I missed this when it originally aired in September, but I think it perfectly sums up how I look at race in America...

Banning Collisions At Home Plate

MLB announced yesterday that they are going to ban collisions at home plate, which effectively ends a long tradition of unnecessary injuries.

Some of my friends are lamenting the puss-ification of the sport, but let's be honest about baseball. It wasn't exactly the most macho sport to begin with. "Is it raining? Oh no. Everyone, put the tarp over the infield so the field doesn't get muddy. Run to the dugout, boys. It's raining!"

I always loved George Carlin's treatise on football versus baseball...

And for the record, I'm more of a baseball fan. I won't miss the collisions at the plate. It seems like a common sense thing to do. I'm sure Ray Fosse agrees. I'm sure Mike Matheney agrees.

A Tribute In Lights

A heartwarming story about the guy who created a tribute in lights to Walter Payton when he died. He died himself this week, and his co-workers created a similar tribute to him.

Story and video at the Chicago Tribune.

A Shark Has Been Jumped

You had me, you had me, you had me.

But now you lost me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cutting Room Floor: Landecker with the Jefferson Starship

In the book “Records Truly Is My Middle Name“, John tells the story of his trip down to Dallas to record a song with the Jefferson Starship. The story ends with John driving around with Paul Kantner, and Kantner handing him a “cigarette” that he warns is pretty strong.

Kantner was telling the truth.

At the time the song “Jane” by the Jefferson Starship was a huge hit, and the mayor of Chicago just happened to be named “Jane”. So John re-wrote the words to the Starship song, and got the producer of the Starship to record him singing it…to the original track by the actual Jefferson Starship.

You can listen to it here.

Heidelberg High School Fight Song

I have two boys in high school right now, so every now and then something will spark a long-buried memory from my own high school days. My first three years of high school (77-78, 78-79, 79-80) I attended Heidelberg High School in Germany. It was an American school for military kids (and Department of Defense civiilians like my dad).

After hearing about a recent pep rally at my son's school, I thought back to the pep rallies we held at Heidelberg High. I distinctly remember that we ended our pep rallies by singing the Heidelberg High School fight song. It was sung to the tune of the Notre Dame fight song, and if I'm not mistaken (please correct me fellow HHS grads if I'm wrong), we actually sang the following words in the school gymnasium in front of all our teachers and supervisors without anyone complaining...

Beer, beer for Heidelberg High,
You bring the whiskey,
I'll bring the rye.
Send some FRESHMEN out for gin,
And don't let the sober SOPHOMORES in.
(SECOND VERSE From my fellow HHS grads on Facebook):
JUNIORS never stumble,
SENIORS never fall.
We sober up on grain alcohol.
When we yell we yell like hell for the glory of Heidelberg High

When your class was mentioned (Freshman, sophomores, etc) you were expected to scream that word as loud as you could, and the loudest class was somehow recognized or had bragging rights or something. Again, it's all fuzzy. (Maybe I took the words too literally, and what I'm experiencing is the long-term damage of going out for whiskey, rye or gin).

Today, this song would be unthinkable. It would lead to mass suspensions or discipline. In the 1970s in Germany, it was our actual school fight song.

Rock N Roll Circus

From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac. On this day in history, 45 years ago...

December 11, 1968…At Wembley studios in Middlesex, England, the Rolling Stones filmed the "Rolling Stones' Rock and Roll Circus" TV special, featuring performances by John Lennon, Eric Clapton, the Who, Jethro Tull, and Marianne Faithfull. Filmed in a circus tent and with actual circus people, the show never aired, supposedly because the Stones thought the Who's performance upstaged them. The special was finally released in 1996.

Today's Best Tweets

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

James Finn Garner ‏@jamesfinngarner 27m
Congrats to Pope Francis for being named TIME's Man of the Year! His career is really going to go places now!

HuffPost TV ‏@HuffPostTV 42m
And the SAG Award nominees are...

People magazine ‏@peoplemag 2m
We're giving Santa a hand with his list this year — see which Hollywood stars make the Naughty List!

The New York Times ‏@nytimes 4m
Graphic: 70 of the 109 gun laws passed since Newtown loosened restrictions on firearms

Brad Biggs ‏@BradBiggs 8m
#Bears FB Tony Fiammetta logged a season-high 29 snaps and was one of many players that stood out in film review

Allison Prang ‏@AllisonPrang 10m
Conclusion: in order to recover from a vacation to Disney World, you do in fact, need another vacation.

ABC News ‏@ABC 14m
Woman pulls "Shawshank Redemption" and claws her way out of locked bathroom:

The Daily Beast ‏@thedailybeast 18m
2013's most-watched music videos (#1 may surpise you)

Neil King ‏@NKingofDC 1h
Of the 220 Catholics in our new poll, just 4 had negative views of Pope Francis. No backlash there... via @WSJ

MancowMuller ‏@MancowMuller 23m
62% of teens surveyed want smartphones for Christmas. The other 38% want world peace... Just kidding, they want an Xbox.

WestJet Christmas

This is everywhere. I've looked for any hint that it's not true and haven't found it, so I thought I would share it too. I think they really did this, and if they did, more power to them!

The 50 Worst Album Covers

The Sun-Sentinel has a photo gallery of the 50 worst album covers of all time. Some of them are doozies...although this one somehow didn't make the list.

I always thought the guy in front got a little more than he bargained for from his bandmate.

Why Are Squirrels In Parks?

Gizmodo has an interesting story about why our parks are filled with squirrels. It's probably not the reason you suspect. They were put there by us to amuse us.

Fascinating little slice of history. I love stories that make us think about things we never think about.

Prime Time Bears

That Bears-Cowboys game the other night got the attention of the TV networks. NBC has moved the Bears-Eagles game on December 22nd to Sunday night, and bumped the Patriots-Ravens game.

A Radio Staion After My Own Heart

Tom Taylor has the story about a radio station in the Chicago area who is highlighting my favorite frothy nectar...

NextMedia GM Scott Kosak at classic hits “95.9 The River” WERV Aurora says “once we realized how many craft breweries and brew pubs were popping up…creating this local resource for the area was a no-brainer.” The site was put together by sister NextMedia360 and “is a service of NextMedia Operating Inc.” River PD Mark Zander says they now count more than 70 local places to bend an elbow, and it’s all covered on (age-protected) CraftBrewChicago.

Illinois State Scholar

Is that a Kaempfer receiving his Illinois State Scholar certificate in the mail yesterday?

Why yes it is. Congrats, Tommy!

Just Stop It

Radio Ink publicizes the latest effort of sky-is-falling lawmakers to make people believe the Fairness Doctrine is returning...

Is The FCC Looking To Backdoor The Fairness Doctrine? That's what some lawmakers seem to be thinking in a letter written to new FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler from the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The opening paragraph highlights the importance of the commission's removal of the Fairness Doctrine, calling it an intrusion into free speech. That's followed up by a call to stop "this most recent attempt to engage the FCC as the news police." What has lawmakers all twisted up is the commission's November Public Notice announcing a field test for the research design of a multi-market study of critical information needs.

I'll say it again, and I've said it a million times before. The Fairness Doctrine is dead. I wish it wasn't, but it's dead. Once that genie came out of the bottle there is no possible way to put it back in. You're either bringing it up again because you are A) paranoid or B) inciting the public to believe Conservatives are somehow being targeted. Under what circumstances do you believe Congress is going to allow that? Or the Supreme Court?

It's nonsense.

Just stop it.

Trading a HOFer

On this day in 1973, the Cubs did the unthinkable. They traded Ron Santo.

It actually turned out to be a good trade. That story is at Cubs 365.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Is That Who I Think It Is?

Why yes it is. That’s Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel holding a copy of the latest release from Eckhartz Press, and “Life Behind The Camera” author Chuck Quinzio towering over him. In fairness to the mayor, Chuck is a very very tall man.

The Beatles & Walter Cronkite

From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac. This tidbit from 50 years ago today...

December 10, 1963…"The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite" featured a story about the new British pop music sensations, the Beatles. The report originally had been scheduled to air November 22 but was delayed because of extended news coverage of the presidential assassination.

I love this video...

Today's Best Tweets

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

Chuck Garfien ‏@ChuckGarfien 15m
We have very heavy hearts at CSN. Jim Corno, our leader, has passed away. …”

chuck swirsky ‏@swirsk054 4m
RIP Jim Corno. A man with a great passion for television sports. SportsChannel-Comcast. A great man of integrity. Prayers to his family

WGN Radio News ‏@WGNRadioNews 2m
David Kaplan remembers Chicago sports broadcast pioneer Jim Corno Sr. … @thekapman

Adam Hoge ‏@AdamHoge 19m
The #Bears did something last night they hadn’t done since Mike Ditka’s last year as a player. My notebook:

Greg Kot ‏@gregkot 28m
The highly paid professionals at CBS do a Mandela tribute and use Toto's "Africa" as a soundtrack? (via @Deggans)

Brett Taylor ‏@BleacherNation 25m
#Cubs: Angels, Diamondbacks, White Sox Working on Three-Team Trade

Len Kasper ‏@LenKasper 56s
Mark Prior's career didn't go the way anyone planned, BUT he should feel proud he did all he could to come back. His talent was undeniable.

Len Kasper ‏@LenKasper 58s
And without him, the '03 Cubs don't even get to the playoffs.

Let it snow: See rare photos from the set of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'

Robert Loerzel ‏@robertloerzel 29m
RT @dropkickjeffy: All it takes is four simple letters to pique my curiosity enough to click a link: N, S, F, and W.

Format Change

If 101.1 FM (in Chicago) is one of your pre-sets, be ready for a change. They are changing their format from Hot AC (which sounds like a thermostat setting) to Ryhthmic Hot AC (which sounds like something you can get at the Sybaris). Please make a note of it.

(The actual details of the story are here, if you're interested)

Ken Calvert

This isn't a Chicago media story, but some of you may know the name Ken Calvert. He was a very popular rock jock in Detroit, and a pal of my old boss Steve Dahl. (That's how I met him). He was also the P.A guy for the Detroit Pistons during the Michael Jordan era. You may recall his famous "Joe Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumars" introduction. Calvert announced this week that he is retiring from co-hosting his morning show on WCSX. His last day will be on Decmember 20th.

That's a big loss for Detroit radio.

Viral is Not The Same as True

I try very hard not to share stories that seem too good to be true because I have a pretty good internal BS detector. Stories that too conveniently fit a political or cultural narrative are especially suspicious in my book, and those are usually the stories that go viral. The New York Times did a study of viral stories and found that many of them are either not true at all, or highly embellished. That story is here.

If you don't want to read the whole article, here's the gist...

Several recent stories rocketing around the web, picking up millions of views, turned out to be fake or embellished: a Twitter tale of a Thanksgiving feud on a plane, later described by the writer as a short story; a child’s letter to Santa that detailed an link in crayon, but was actually written by a grown-up comedian in 2011; and an essay on poverty that prompted $60,000 in donations until it was revealed by its author to be impressionistic rather than strictly factual. Their creators describe them essentially as online performance art, never intended to be taken as fact. But to the media outlets that published them, they represented the lightning-in-a-bottle brew of emotion and entertainment that attracts readers and brings in lucrative advertising dollars.

If you believed the stories, don't be too hard on yourself. You're probably just a good person who thinks "Why would somebody make that up?"

If you smelled a rat, it doesn't mean you're cynical. It means you're wise. After all, you were right.

8 Million Reasons To Keep Quiet

According to this piece in Gawker, Fox News exec Brian Lewis received $8 million to settle his lawsuit with the company. He had been threatening to go public with the real facts behind the Fox News empire. He now has eight million reasons not to do so.

Remakes Are Hot

Last week "The Sound of Music" remake had huge numbers.

This week the same is true of "Bonnie & Clyde". Adweek has the story.

Nelson Mandela

I've been shocked at some of the reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela in this country. Maybe it's because I've been to South Africa (even to Mandela's house), and I've seen the way that entire country lionized him in life, let alone death. And maybe it's because I've been to the Apartheid museum in South Africa, and watched hours of shocking pro-Apartheid video. It was a life changing experience for me. America may have a racist past (even after slavery was abolished), and a racially-divided present, but South Africa was 50 times worse.

Apartheid repulsed the world.

So, yes, I've been shocked at the vitriolic ripping of the man who helped end Apartheid. Some Americans, apparently, are still mad about his ties to communism or violence fifty or sixty years ago. I want to ask everyone saying those things one simple question. Have you actually forgotten what he was fighting against?

And by the way, once he was released from prison he worked to bring the races together. He did not seek retribution against the people who imprisoned him for 27 years. He also didn't form a communist government, and he had the chance to do so as the duly elected head of state.

And yet, some of our pundits, commentators, and elected representatives angrily call him a terrorist while HIS entire country (black AND white) mourns his death.

How incredibly weird.

Building a Milk Carton Igloo

This family saved their colorful milk cartons and used the frozen air and snow to help them build an igloo.

Ridiculously time consuming, but the result is pretty cool. Check it out here.

Da Bears

An adult shouldn't be in a good mood simply because his football team won. That would be silly. It's just a game.

So why am I in such a good mood this morning?

Felon Cub Fan

Happy birthday to prisoner #40892-424, a life-long Cubs fan, and our former governor. He's 57 years old today.

His story is at Cubs 365.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Father Knows Nothing: Sunshine on a Snowy Day

I had set aside the whole afternoon yesterday to catch up on my work (I have two upcoming deadlines for articles, and a website revamp I'm working on), but when I sat down at the computer to start writing, my oldest son Tommy tapped me on the shoulder.

"Um, Dad," he said nervously, "Are you real busy today?"

"Yes I am," I answered, not even looking back at him.

"Oh, OK," he said. He started to walk out of the room, but Tommy's defeated tone of voice set off a little alarm in my head.

"Wait a second," I said, calling him back. "What's the problem?"

"It's just that I have this assignment due tomorrow, and I'm not sure how I'm going to get it done."

"You need help?"


"How long do you think it will take?" I asked, trying to plot out my work schedule.

"That depends," he said. "How far away is Oak Park?"

I groaned. He correctly intrepreted the groan.

"Then I guess it could take a long time," he said. "Remember that field trip I forgot about the other day? They went to Oak Park to look at architecture and take pictures for a project. Because I missed the field trip, I need to have my picture taken in front of seven different styles of homes in Oak Park."

"And it's due tomorrow?" I asked.

He nodded and braced for the verbal blowback. I sighed, but I knew what I needed to do.

"OK, fine," I said. "Grab the camera. Let's go."

Oak Park isn't that close to us on a good day, but yesterday we drove there and back in the middle of a snowstorm. The entire trip, including the photo session in Oak Park, took about 3 1/2 hours.

When we got home, it was already dinner time. I figured I'd get my work done after dinner, but while we were eating, Bridget announced we would be going to 6:00 mass.

"And after mass," she added, "we're either going Christmas shopping or setting up the tree."

I could tell that she wasn't having a great day either because she had been a little short with all of us, so I knew Johnny wasn't going to make her happy when he announced his plans. "I really want to go to youth group tonight after mass," he said.

"Then I guess we're not setting up the tree," Bridget said. "We do that as a family."

I cleared my throat.

"Um," I said gingerly. "I really don't think it's a good idea to go Christmas shopping tonight either. It's too dangerous out there. Tommy and I were slipping all over the road. Let's set up the tree instead. We can let Johnny put the star on the top of the tree when he gets home. That way it's still a family project."

Bridget reluctantly agreed.

But that family project decreased by one more when Tommy announced he still needed to finish his Oak Park project. I could tell that Bridget was really getting ticked, so when we got home from mass, Sean and I set up the tree, and pulled all the ornaments out of the basement. Having two incompetents working on the project finally lured Bridget in (to save us), and soon the three of us were working on it together. Sean was so happy he was bouncing off the walls.

"What could be better than putting up a Christmas tree!" he said.

With each new ornament, he got more excited. "I love that one!" he would squeal. "No wait! That one is the best one!" Each new ornament made him happier and happier.

"I am in the GREATEST MOOD!" he announced.

His happiness was helping Bridget, but I wasn't moved. My workload hadn't budged during a day that had been set aside to make lots of progress, and there was still three or four inches of snow on the ground that needed to be shoveled.

At 10pm I was outside, bundled up in my snow-shoveling gear, muttering to myself that I had officially wasted the day.

Suddenly the back door flung open, and a snowsuit-clad 11-year-old bounded my way.

"Dad," Sean said, "I'm coming out to help you shovel."

"It's bedtime, buddy. I can do this."

"Dad," he said, getting very serious, "I'm going to help. I've been waiting all year for the snow to come again so we could shovel together. I'm NOT missing this chance."

He grabbed his shovel and got to work. He was literally whistling while he worked. "Isn't this great! Isn't shoveling fantastic!" He meant it too. For the next forty minutes or so he regaled me with tales of snow; his recess plans, his snowball making techniques, his preferred location for a snowman, his anticipation of our upcoming skiing vacation. And by the time we were done, we were both sad that there wasn't anything left to shovel.

So we shoveled the neighbor's sidewalk and walkway too.

As we walked back to our garage to put away the shovels, Sean looked up at me. "You sure had a great day, didn't you, Dad? You got to spend all afternoon with Tommy on an adventure in Oak Park, you-me-and-mom got to decorate the tree, AND we got to shovel together! What could be better than that!"

There are times when that boy's cheerfulness can be a bit much to handle.

And there are times when it's exactly what the doctor ordered.

Today's Best Tweets

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

MLB Trade Rumors ‏@mlbtraderumors 29m
Roy Halladay To Retire #mlb

Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal 23m
What a career for Halladay. This is a fitting end if he believes he no longer can compete. He would never want to embarrass himself.

Brett Taylor ‏@BleacherNation 4m
Damn. Was fun watching the good version pitch. RT @JonHeymanCBS: Roy Halladay is retiring

Bob Nightengale ‏@BNightengale 40m
Jerry Reinsdorf on #Whitesox rumors re Chris Sale: "I've only had 1 player in my 33 years who couldn't be traded. He played basketball.

Chuck Garfien ‏@ChuckGarfien 24m
Tony La Russa on White Sox: "I look for them to be resurgent. The White Sox are going to be back on top."

Jim O'Donnell ‏@jodonnell17 18m
Gov. Quinn declares today "Mike Ditka Day"; Ditka reportedly mulling declaring Friday the 13th "Pat Quinn Day."

Mary Dixon ‏@MaryLDixon 27m
There should be a sausage component.

Rob Johnson ‏@cbschicagorob 22m
Bundle Up Bears Fans; Game Night Will Be A Cold One « CBS Chicago

Dan Bernstein ‏@dan_bernstein 29m
If you are attending tonight's #Bears game, be careful. Just generally, because you're an idiot.

David Kaplan ‏@thekapman 36m
Lots Vancouver people here in Mexico. Just got trash talked by guy in Sedin shirt. He saw my @NHLBlackhawks hat + said he hates us. #loveit

Group of Death

The World Cup groups were announced on Friday, and it wasn't good news for the United States. They have been placed in the dreaded "group of death" (the nickname for the toughest group in every World Cup). Not only are they playing the toughest teams (Germany, Portugal, and Ghana), they are playing in the most obscure towns of the tournament (Natal-Manaus-Recife). I had been thinking of going to this one (I also went to the World Cup in South Africa), but any of those notions have been officially squashed by this news.

To follow the United States in the first round, you'll have to travel 8866 miles.

Chuck Quinzio on the radio with Dick Kay

Eckhartz Press author Chuck Quinzio was on with Dick Kay on WCPT this weekend. You can listen to it here. (It starts at the 57 minute mark)

You can tell that Dick loves the book and loves the stories that Chuck tells. It's a fun interview. You can also tell by the photos below...

"Sound of Music" Is A Ratings Hit

The live "Sound of Music", which has been panned by most critics (including me), did exactly what the network wanted it to do. It got huge ratings. I suspected as much, considering all of the responses I got to my facebook and twitter reports on the subject. A lot of people were watching.

18.6 million to be precise. From the AP...

It was NBC's best Thursday average, excluding sports programming, since the series finale of "Frasier" aired in May 2004, and the most-watched nonsports night since the Golden Globes broadcast seven years ago, the network said.


I love Romensko's site, because he gets internal memos from media management, and publishes them for all to see.

You have to read this one from ESPN. It's about the use of the word "sucks"...

Recently, there have been numerous incidents in which the word “sucks” has been used on our air. This word is simply not appropriate for ESPN. What you say and the language you use is important for our audience and sports fans of all ages. Please be mindful of this starting immediately.

Whew. Consider yourself protected.

The 2014 Grammys

From this morning's RAMP Newsletter...

Jay Z once again tops the Grammy class of 2014, scoring nine nominations, immediately followed by Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams, who each garnered seven nods; Drake and Daft Punk are each up for five golden gramophones. The nominees in select categories were announced last Friday night on TV as part of The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!! -- Countdown To Music's Biggest Night, a one-hour CBS special broadcast live from Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live. The 2013 Album Of The Year nominees are: The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles; Random Access Memories, Daft Punk; Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, Kendrick Lamar; The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Red, Taylor Swift.

The complete list is posted here.

Charlie Lake

From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

Charley Lake calls it a career (for now), and it’s been a solid one for the major-market programmer – stops at KOOL Phoenix (94.5), WJMK Chicago (104.3), WRNO New Orleans (99.5) and WLVQ Columbus (96.3). In 2007, he relocated from Phoenix to Philly as the PD at Greater Media’s classic rock WMGK (102.9). Now the company gives him a nice valedictory lap, with positives from Chairman/CEO Peter Smyth, Philadelphia manager John Fullam and corporate programmer Buzz Knight. Charley’s retiring from WMGK at the end of January. No successor announced yet.

I worked for Charlie at WJMK. In fact, he's the only person in my career who ever fired me. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, but it hasn't changed my opinion of Charley. He was brought in as a hatchet man at WJMK. That's who the corporate cats are praising in this piece. A hatchet man. He didn't just fire me and John Landecker and Leslie Keiling. He fired the entire staff less than a year later.

If you'd like to read a story about him, check out "Records Truly Is My Middle Name". There's a fascinating little tale about a program director who went completely apeshit over the on-air playing of the National Anthem. Landecker, who has seen it all, calls it the most unprofessional thing he has ever encountered.

How Do You Know You're Having a Bad Day?

How do you know when it's just not going to be your day? When you're out for a jog, minding your own business, and you get hit by a flying deer. From the Washington Post...

Krystine Rivera, 27, was jogging on a path adjoining Claiborne Parkway in Ashburn near the Dulles Greenway about 6 p.m. A 71-year-old woman from South Riding was driving a Toyota SUV on the road. And the deer — a buck — came from somewhere.

The SUV struck the deer, which sent the animal flying into Rivera, who remembers running one minute and then coming to in an ambulance as a paramedic told her he needed to cut away one of her favorite running shirts “because it had deer blood all over it.’’

There was someone who had a worse day, of course. The deer.

Cubs 365

On this day in 1992, Cubs GM Larry Himes let Greg Maddux and Andre Dawson leave via free agency because he had eyes on Jose Guzman and Candy Maldanado.

That's the story at Cubs 365.