Saturday, November 01, 2014

Father Knows Nothing Available for Pre-Order Now!

Father Knows Nothing is available for pre-order now. Click here to order your copy. The book ships out the day after Thanksgiving, in plenty of time for Christmas!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Countdown to Father Knows Nothing: The Halloween Grinch

Even though the City of Chicago once used my kids in their "Chicagoween" brochure (thanks to the recently departed Cindy Gatziolis), one of my boys (Tommy) has always hated Halloween. You can see him in this Chicagoween picture...dressed an accountant.

I wrote this piece for NWI Parent magazine several years ago. It didn't quite make the cut for the "Father Knows Nothing" book, but it gives you a pretty good taste of the book's tone. It's available for pre-order beginning tomorrow.


Everyone loves Halloween. Everyone you’ve met. Everyone you’ve seen.

But not in our house high above Booville. The Halloween Grinch is living there still.

He won’t wear a costume. He won’t trick or treat. He won’t even hand out candy to people he meets.

The Grinch hates Halloween - the whole Halloween season. Now, please don't ask why; no one quite knows the reason.

I’ve given up trying to figure it out. I’ve given up asking him what it’s about.

For though I’m the Grinch’s father, I have two more boys. They both love Halloween candy, and they both love Halloween toys.

They love wearing the costumes, and ringing the bell. And I always love going along as well.

I love watching their joy as the candy goes plop, from the first house we visit until we finally stop.

But because the Halloween Grinch is the one left at home, he won’t answer the door when he’s all alone.

So we end up with candy that isn’t given away, and then I’m left alone with a candy buffet.

Last year I decided to put an end to that. There’s no need for Dad to get doughy and fat.

So I sent the Halloween Grinch to his room, and I manned the door beginning at noon.

I was determined to hand out every Twix and KitKat, and I didn’t care what the Grinch said about that.

I sent the two younger boys out all alone, but before they left our little home, I made sure they knew to watch out for each other, as they trick or treated dressed as the Mario Brothers.

“OK, who can tell me what the buddy system is?” Sean raised his hand. He was ready for this quiz.

“We have to stick together,” he said. His big brother nodded, and both of them fled.

“It will never work,” said the Grinch from his room. “Those two will fight wearing those costumes.”

But for fifteen great minutes I handed out Twix, to all the Boos who wanted treats and tricks.

Until one little boy dressed up as a Q-tip, had a paper mustache attached to his lip.

It looked very much like the ones I made that day, for the two little boys that I just sent away.

He told me he got it just down the street. It was lying on a driveway, on the concrete.

Mario and Luigi had ripped off their stashes, in between punches, and lunges, and smashes.

They were fighting over who got to ring the doorbell, and needless to say, it didn’t turn out too well.

I marched out to the sidewalk, and what did I see? Mario and Luigi coming home to me.

The two crying boys running on asphalt, both were screaming “It was all his fault!”

While I broke up the fight on my front lawn, I looked at the window, and you know who I saw?

The Halloween Grinch.

In Booville they say that the Grinch's Halloween smile grew three sizes that day.

With that smile on his face, he wandered our way, and he had a few things that he wanted to say.

“Next year, I volunteer to supervise, but I won’t wear a costume or a silly disguise. I still hate the concept of Halloween, but next year I will be fourteen. That’s old enough not to have to participate, and as long as I don’t have to, everything will be great.”

I made the deal, and I’m looking forward to that.

It'll keep me away from the candy, so Dad won’t get fat.

Colbert's Last Show

He announced the date of his last show last night. From the Hollywood Reporter...

The date for his final show will be Thursday, Dec. 18. Colbert made the announcement on Thursday's show, as part of a pitch for the paperback release of America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't. "Stephen Colbert, the guy you've seen here every night for nine years will be gone. All you'll have left of me is this book," Colbert said holding up the paperback. "So pick up America Again in paperback for a loved one. Or for a hated one. Go to your local independent book store, because I have a longtime war against Amazon, and I will never relent. Or — buy it on Amazon, because, you know, just buy it."

I can't wait to see what kind of a show he'll be doing on CBS. Will he be able to do a more mass appeal show? That's the (many) million dollar question.

Fall Back

Don't forget to change your clocks this weekend. We get an extra hour of sleep on Saturday night.

Sweet, sweet sleep. I didn't know you for so many years. So happy you're back in my life.

New Morning Man at WLS-FM

Steve Dahl is starting on Monday afternoon on WLS-AM (see video below), and now it appears a new disc jockey is joining the lineup at WLS-FM too, and he is starting on Monday too. His name is Jack Diamond. You may remember him from his one-week trial this summer. Details from the RAMP Newsletter...

"Jack's positivity, fun and endearing qualities match perfectly with our current morning lineup including air talent/meteorologist Brant Miller, Marty Jones with information/traffic updates and producer Dan Wolfe," said Jan Jeffries, who doubles as Cumulus SVP of Corporate/Programming and PD of WLS. "This will be the third radio tour for Jack and me working together, previously in Atlanta and Washington, DC. What seemed like a fun idea to have him sit-in on WLS FM mornings for a week this summer turned out to be a great idea. Welcome, Jack Diamond to 94-7 WLS!" Looking ahead to his upcoming Chicago adventure, Diamond said, "As a kid listening to the radio at night, WLS and WABC were the stations that sparked a desire to spend my life doing what those great personalities were doing from so many miles away. Pure magic. Hosting mornings at 94-7 WLS is not only a career dream-come-true, it brings my career full circle and is truly 'going home.' In a city with such great air talent through the years, it’s an honor to join them, past and present in Chicago.

Jack has worked everywhere, but his longest and most successful run was in Washington D.C. It appears that he's just being added to the lineup. No-one is being fired.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Steve is Back!

His show is on WLS beginning Monday. This is a pretty funny web commercial to announce it...

Photo Shoot

This summer Tommy, Johnny and I tried to recreate my favorite picture (from 15 years ago). We don't fit on the sidewalk anymore, and as you might imagine, the boys were not thrilled to stroll down memory lane with their old man. Their discomfort amuses me. The happier photo from 1999 will be on the back cover of Father Knows Nothing.

Father Knows Nothing

As we approach release date (pre-orders begin Saturday), Father Knows Nothing now has it's own page on the Eckhartz Press site, complete with a photo gallery, and it's own website, complete with chapter descriptions and audio goodies. Getting very excited. Meeting with the designer today to finish up interior details.

I just realized this morning that this is my first solo book since "$everance" (which came out in 2007). I'm a little nervous about having all the pressure on me this time.

I may actually need to leave my basement.

Political Advertising is Down?

From today's Tom Taylor NOW Newsletter, comes this surprising news...

2014 goes down as a disappointing election year for radio, despite the big groups like iHeart and Cumulus staffing up in Washington DC and elsewhere with politically-connected pros.

Radio expected MORE political advertising? It's already at an unbearable level right now. Can't a guy listen to a ballgame without politicians jumping into his living room or car to spew bile? Now that the World Series is over, my radio and television are OFF until Wednesday.

The Atlantic Partners with PBS News Hour

I'm always lamenting that there isn't any intelligent news to watch. Now, I'll find out if that's something I actually want or not. From Fishbowl NY...

The Atlantic is partnering with PBS’ NewsHour to produce broadcast adaptation’s of the magazine’s work. The series begins tonight, with NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff and The Atlantic’s Hanna Rosin discussing Rosin’s cover story on teens and sexting.

“We’re excited to see our stories brought to broadcast, and honored to be working with the NewsHour to make it happen,” said James Bennet, The Atlantic’s president and editor-in-chief, in a statement. “No one in the business cares more about journalistic integrity and depth.”

OK viewers. It's up to us to support this or we'll be stuck with the Fox News/MSNBC approach forever.

Prince on SNL

It sounds like this weekend's SNL will be worth a viewing. From today's RAMP Newsletter...

Prince is the musical guest on this week's Saturday Night Live, with host Chris Rock. What makes this particular Prince appearance so unusual is that it was announced that, instead of following the show's 40-year tradition of two separate performances, Prince will be breaking format and will perform one single (and awesome) "eight-minute long jam session." All we know is that Prince will be accompanied by his kick-ass female backing band 3RDEYEGIRL, with whom he recorded his two new albums, Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum.

Count me in. I'm a big fan of both Rock and Prince.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jose's finger

Jose Canseco is in the news again. This time for nearly shooting off his finger. From the LA Times...

The shooting happened about 3 p.m. while Canseco was cleaning his gun at the kitchen table. There was still a round in the chamber in the handgun because Canseco had recently visited the shooting range, Knight said.

“I heard the gun go off and saw his middle finger hanging by a string,” she said.

Canseco shot his middle finger on his left hand.

In the future all finger swearing will have to be done with his right hand.

Cindy Gatziolis

It was a like a Loop reunion last night at Cindy Gatziolis' wake. Despite the sad reason for joining together it was nice to catch up with people I haven't seen in a long time. Cindy would have been so happy to see us all there for her: Stan Lawrence, Brendan Sullivan, Jim Wiser, Anne-Marie Kennedy, Dina Travis Sanchez, Steve Dahl, Janet Joliat Dahl, Neil Sant, Bill Holub, Dave Logan, Garry Meier, Wendy Snyder, Leslie Keiling, Geli Corbett, Artie Kennedy, John Pugs, Cara Carriveau, Kent Lewin, John Bell, Terry Bell, Tricia Mladic, Fina Rodriguez, Colleen Nicholson Manzella, and Les Grobstein were all there in the evening, and I'm sure there were many more earlier (and some I'm forgetting in my pre-coffee apologies). I also saw a ton of WLS people who were having a reunion of their own (Cindy also worked there), and people from the other places she worked. The Mayor sent flowers, and so did the White Sox. It was a packed house for a beloved lady. May she rest in peace.

The Radio Hall of Fame

For the first time ever, the ceremony will NOT be held in Chicago this year. From the RAMP Newsletter...

The National Radio Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is coming to Los Angeles for the first time on Sunday, November 9. Class of 2014 inductees include Charlie & Harrigan, Barry Farber, Ira Glass, Stanley E. Hubbard, Jon Miller, Agnes Moorehead and Dick Orkin. The black-tie optional dinner and live national broadcast begin at 4pm at the swanky Cicada in downtown Los Angeles. Premiere Networks' own Delilah will host the festivities, and Westwood One's Jim Bohannon will serve as the broadcast’s announcer. The event will feature live performances by Melissa Etheridge and Ingrid Michaelson as well as a special tribute to the late, legendary Casey Kasem.

Dick Orkin, if I'm not mistaken, was in the NAB Hall of Fame already, but renounced his spot there when Rush Limbaugh spouted off about something. (I talked to Dick about that when I interviewed him for Chicago Radio Spotlight). I know Orkin is working on a book, and that's something I'm eager to read when it's finished. I did an interview with his co-writer a few months ago.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reading Excerpts From Father Knows Nothing

I'm debuting portions of my new book today to a captive audience. They don't know it, but a fifth/sixth grade class in Palatine will be the first to hear excerpts from Father Knows Nothing later this morning.

I'm occasionally asked to speak to school kids about writing, but I've never really had material that was appropriate for kids before. Now I do.

Should be a good test. Kids are always honest.

Billy Joel's Women

Billy Joel is a gazillionaire, but one area in life where he's never been successful is his love life.

This piece in the New York Post is a fascinating examination of his three wives.

It's called "How Billy Joel's 3 Wives Stole His Heart and His Money". The story about presenting "Just the Way You Are" to his first wife (as a birthday present) is a good one. She said: "Do I get the publishing?"

Nice, eh?

Chicago Radio Ratings

I'm so happy I'm not in radio anymore. The ratings used to come out every four months, and you had at least a moment or two to breathe between spankings. Now they come out every month. I do like the way Robert Feder is posting them these daypart.

Top Ten Mornings
(BBM News Radio is #1)

Top Ten Afternoons
(Doug Banks is #1)

Most Embarrassing Injury Ever

I didn't watch the Bears game on Sunday. I'm so happy I didn't.

How bad was it? Bears defensive lineman Lamarr Houston tore his ACL celebrating a sack...when the Bears were 25 points behind.

Now, that's embarrassing.

Joke for a Tuesday morning

Thanks to "SFG" for this one...

A woman takes a lover during the day, while her husband is at work.

One day, her 9-year-old son hides in the closet during one of her romps. Her husband comes home unexpectedly, so she hides the lover in the closet.

The little boy says, “it’s dark in here.”
The man whispers, “yes, it is.”
“I have a baseball,” the boy responds.
“That’s nice.”
“Want to buy it?”
“No, thanks.”
“My dad’s outside.”
“Okay, how much?”

In the next few weeks, it happens again that the boy and the mom’s lover end up in the closet together.

“It’s dark in here,” the boy begins.
“Yes, it is.”
“I have a baseball glove.”
The man thinks about the last time they were in the closet together, and decided to cut to the chase — “How much?”

A few days later, the father says to the boy, “grab your ball and glove. Let’s go outside and play some catch!”
“I can’t. I sold them.”
“How much did you sell them for?”
“$1,000,” the boy replies, smilingly widely.
His father responds, “it’s terrible to overcharge your friends like that. That’s way more than those two things cost. I’m going to take you to church to confess.”

The two go to church, and the boy’s father escorts him to the confession booth. Once inside, the boy states, “it’s dark in here.”
The priest replies, “don’t start that crap again!”

Monday, October 27, 2014

RIP Cindy Gatziolis

A dear friend of mine passed away over the weekend, Cindy Gatziolis. Robert Feder has a very nice write up about her in his column today. Cindy and I met when we both worked at the Loop in the late 80s/early 90s. (I think this is a photo from a Loop Christmas party circa 1992 or so). She was the promotions director there, when I was Steve & Garry's producer.

I interviewed her about her professional career at Chicago Radio Spotlight a few years ago (in 2008), but Cindy was much more than a great public relations person with an impressive resume.

To know her was to love her. I always believed the secret to her popularity amongst her relatives, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances was simple: She genuinely cared about people.

Before Bridget and I had kids we hung out with Cindy all the time. After Tommy arrived on the scene, Cindy was a big help. We stayed in touch long after we no longer worked together or lived near each other. When I was producing John Landecker's show on WJMK, I told her on the phone that I was nervous about our first gig for Landecker and the Legends. She showed up that night at PJ Flaherty's on the south side to lend support. When Swany and I released "The Radio Producer's Handbook", Cindy was the first in line to buy it at our first book signing--despite having just finished her first round of cancer treatments. She told me it was the day she debuted her wig in public. I never forgot that gesture.

Cindy and I bonded on another level. She was a closeted writer. She wrote some wonderful stories and sent them to me to critique. At one point we even met to work on a screenplay together--but life just got in the way.

At the time of her death, Cindy was working on a book about coping with cancer. She sent me the first few chapters a couple of months ago. I love the passion, anger, and insight of the first chapter's very first line. It says it all in bold capital letters: FUCK CANCER.

Believe me, Cindy, when we heard the news this weekend, we all said the same thing. It's just not fair that a beautiful person has been taken from us at the way too young age of 56.

The last time I saw her, she could no longer eat food and was on an all-liquid IV diet. She couldn't have weighed more than 70 pounds, but when she talked to us it was obvious the real Cindy was still there. Her voice was strong, her mind was sharp, and all she wanted to talk about was what was going on in our lives. We were joking and ribbing each other like we always had. When I finally got the courage to ask about her prognosis, she tried to be as upbeat as possible, but I could tell that she knew.

I hugged her when we left, and she thanked me: "I know you Germans don't hug". Her goodbye to us was more than a "I'll see you later." It was goodbye, and we all knew it. She sent me a few text messages the past few months, but the last time I texted her to check on her, Cindy didn't answer. I've been bracing myself for this day, but when I heard the news it still felt like a punch in the gut.

I spent all night trying to figure out a way to pay tribute to her, but I knew I couldn't properly paint a picture of how wonderful she was. So, I decided to do something I know she would have approved of. I'm featuring something she wrote to show you what a good writer she was.

One of the things we always teased each other about was the Cubs/Sox rivalry. Cindy was the biggest White Sox fan I ever met. In fact, her last post on facebook was a tribute to Paul Konerko on his last day with the Sox. When they won the World Series, I asked Cindy to write a piece explaining what it meant. This is what she sent me...

The White Sox won the World Series!
By Cindy Gatziolis

Hey did you hear, the White Sox won the World Series.

Now Cub fans, don’t get all crazy that I’m bragging. I’m still trying to believe it.

You hope your whole fandom that it will happen and each year you utter the proverbial “wait til”…well you know.

I’m often asked how I became a Sox fan, especially when people hear that I didn’t grow up on the south side (by the way Fox broadcasting—south side is two words) and neither did my parents. Dad was a westsider and mom was a way westsider as in Idaho.

I am a White Sox fan because it’s in my DNA not unlike my brown eyes. I am a White Sox fan because it is part of my heritage just like being of Greek descent.

Dad and his brothers George and Pete were White Sox fans. And those three men begat families of Sox fans. Dad even converted mom who used to be the diplomat and say she rooted for both teams. She showed her true colors in the South Side Hit Men summer of ’77 by entering or leaving a room depending on the team’s actions. Ironically, that was her last summer to follow the team.

Pete died in the summer of ’59 so he didn’t even see that World Series. Dad passed in the summer of ’94, the strike shortened season. He would have been very disappointed in baseball had he seen that happen.

Uncle George is still with us and when I spoke to him after the White Sox won the World Series, he was as happy as a kid.

My three siblings and I have many similarities but even more vast differences. Some of it in how we vote, some in how we work, and most certainly in what we all chose as professions. But our one shared emotion is a love of the White Sox.

The next generation is on board as well, my brother’s sons and my sister’s daughter. I give a lot a credit to my sister for indoctrinating her daughter who was born in Los Angeles and has spent nearly 10 years living in Connecticut, Yankee and Red Sox territory. Imagine my delight in hearing that Marinna, as an 8 year-old, set one little girlfriend straight who thought there was no such thing as White Sox…only Red Sox. East Coast bias anyone?

Last fall, the Gatziolis clan lived a dream, a dream shared by many a family. And while many have jumped on the bandwagon and seats will be harder to come by, we can take pride in that we were there long before it became fashionable.

I was on the verge of being a teenager when I spotted some cute guys in baseball uniforms such as Pitcher Bart Johnson, Second Baseman Mike Andrews and a gorgeous third baseman named Bill Melton. I can remember rushing home in September of 1971 to find out if he had the home run that would give him that year’s title. He did, and last summer, because of my line of work, I had Bill Melton in my car. I’ll never wash that seat again.

Through my nearly four decades of fandom, I never wavered. Eric Soderholm responded to my letter on biofeedback for the paper I was doing in college. Carlton Fisk became my annual early round choice in my rotisserie baseball league. Robin Ventura was the number 23 that I adored in this city.

Mom and I saw the game in which Dick Allen hit a home run to centerfield. I was able to really treat my dad to a great game when I worked at WGN Radio, which had great seats in the box next to the Daleys and two rows behind Chuck Comiskey. I think Dad was actually proud of me that day even though I’m pretty sure he couldn’t tell you what I did for a living.

In a softer gentler day, there was the time my sisters and I were headed to buy tickets and were stopped by a man asking us if we wanted his tickets. He was not a masher or a scalper, simply a businessman from Detroit (it was Tigers vs Sox) with extra tickets. Man those were great seats. It’s also the day I discovered the joy of focusing the binoculars on the Sox dugout. You could see Dick Allen smoking on the clubhouse steps.

Well, you can tell by this fan, that Sox fans are just as rabid as Cub fans. We may not be cute and cuddly. We’re not the hot babes in the bleachers that Arnie Harris always focused on. We’re just fans. We’re fans with this team because they’re part of our family. I often say, that with the exception of the living creatures in my life, and Farfo my stuffed dog who just turned 46, the White Sox are the most important thing in my life.

They connect me to my parents, my siblings and their children. And I hope that someday when I’m gone and one of those children has my seat from old Comiskey in their home, that it will be revered by their children as something special from Great Aunt Cindy and a cool connection to their favorite baseball team.

So take that Chris Berman.