Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Tribute To Ernie Banks

There are lots of things written about Ernie Banks on my Just One bad Century website, but in honor of Mr. Cub's untimely passing, I thought I would put them all together in one place for you.

First off, Ernie's entry in my Every Cub Ever A-Z feature...

~Ernie Banks 1931 (Cubs 1953-1971)
Ernie is not only a Hall of Famer, he's the first African American player to ever play for the Chicago Cubs. The way he became a Cub is almost a fluke. At the end of the 1953 season, Gene Baker was called up to be the first African-American Cubs player. Ernie was signed shortly thereafter from the Kansas City Monarchs. They signed Ernie strictly because they needed another black player to room with Baker. If they didn’t have Baker, they wouldn't have signed Banks. They honestly had no idea what they were getting in Banks, either. One of the Cubs coaches, Ray Blades, gave Ernie a book called "How to play baseball" even though he had hit .380 for the Monarchs. Banks only got in the lineup first because Baker was hurt (he got into a game three days later). At the time, inserting Banks into the lineup was a very controversial move, because shortstop was considered a "thinking man's" position, and Banks was the first African-American in Major League history to play shortstop on a regular basis. Needless to say, it worked out just fine. Why do they call Ernie Banks Mr. Cub? Ernie is among the top 5 all-time Cubs in games played (1st), at bats (1st), hits (2nd), runs (5th), doubles (3rd), home runs (2nd), and RBI (2nd). Unfortunately he also played in more losses than any other player in baseball history. In a little known bit of trivia, he also was the first African-American manager. When manager Whitey Lockman was kicked out of a game in 1974, Ernie was the acting manager for one inning. Frank Robinson became the first full-time African American manager just a few months later. Banks was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977, and in 2008 Ernie became a part of Wrigley Field when the club unveiled his statue. It stands right in front of the main gate at Addison and Clark. Countless Cub fans take pictures in front of it every year. (Photo: Topps 1969 baseball card)

Over the years we've posted lots of videos about Ernie. Here are a few of my favorites...

Jack Brickhouse describes Ernie's greatness...

Ernie faces Mickey Mantle in Home Run Derby...

Ernie's 500th homer...

Ernie flashes that incredible personality...

The unveiling of Ernie's statue (I was there that day)...

The President (a Sox fan) honors Ernie...

Eddie Vedder brings Ernie on stage during Pearl Jam concert...

RIP Ernie...My childhood hero.

Ernie Banks MVP

Ernie Banks 1964

Ernie Banks 1970

Friday, January 23, 2015

Red Wine = Exercise

Looks like I'm going to be exercising my ass off this year. From

The researchers responsible for the glorious study — which was published in Journal of Physiology in May — discovered that resveratrol, a “natural compound” found in certain fruits, nuts, and (you guessed it) red wine, could actually “enhance exercise training and performance.” But there’s more. Jason Dyck, the principal investigator for the study, tells Science Daily that resveratrol can also offer the same benefits working out does:

“I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do.”

Time to load up on some exercise juice.

Simpsons Voices

I knew Dan Castellanetta did a bunch of voices on the Simpsons (including Homer), but I had no idea it was this many. Same goes for Hank Azaria. To me the Harry Shearer voices are a little easier to pick out.

Chart courtesy of Vox. Click on it to enlarge.

Good Beer Commercial

Another Big Concert

I haven't seen them in concert for nearly 30 years. This summer's concert is their 40th anniversary. I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it...

Channel 7 Lets Mike Caplan Go

After they hired Cheryl Scott, it didn't take a genius to figure out that one of the meteoroligsts was going to be leaving ABC-7 in Chicago. Caplan posted his goodbye last night on Facebook...

"Today was my last day with ABC7. The powers that be have decided to take the weather department in a direction that no longer includes me. It has been a thrill for me to be on tv in the area in which I grew up. I look forward to carving out a new chapter in my professional life, and with the support of friends and my wonderful family, I am confident wonderful challenges and opportunities lay ahead."

I don't really know Mike--I met him a few times--but I always thought he did a very solid job. It's not his fault that he isn't a very attractive young lady.

Radio Revenues

Robert Feder has the listing of the revenues earned this year by Chicago's radio stations. To say it was a bad year for Chicago radio would be to understate the case. The entire market was down 10%. Only two stations in the top 15 made more than the year before (WGN and WXRT), while four stations in the top 25 went down more than 20% (The Drive, The Loop, WLS AM, WLS FM).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bill Belichick

Here's a photo of Belichick during this morning's press conference about deflated balls.

He knows nothink.

He sees nothink.

Hope Solo Suspended from US Soccer Team

The suspension is only for 30 days, but it's also during their preparations for this year's World Cup.

The U.S. National Team goaltender is being suspended for acting belligerent during her husband's DUI arrest.

Details at People Magazine.

In Defense of Multi-Camera TV Shows

Ken Levine is one of the all-time great television writers ("Cheers", "MASH", "Frasier", etc), and he writes an incredibly interesting/entertaining blog. This latest post is an examination of the reasons networks have abandoned the multi-camera sitcom almost entirely. Recommended reading for TV buffs.

Student Reviews for Life Behind the Camera

Chuck Quinzio's Eckhartz Press book Life Behind the Camera is currently being used as a textbook for Journalism 1 class at Los Angeles City Colleges. A few of the students have been posting reviews, and here are a couple of them...

In Journalism 1, we read Chuck Quinzio’s Life Behind the Camera supplementary to our Mencher’s textbook for our introductory journalism class. "Life Behind the Camera," is Quinzio’s autobiography as a cameraman for a Chicago news station. Compared to the typical assigned textbooks, "Life Behind the Camera" provides real life, on the job experience to gather news along with hilarious anecdotes to accompany more drole or serious aspects of news. Quinzio was brought up as a god-fearing altar boy. His attempts to try to pursue a career as being a disc jockey failed. But by luck, his friend’s mother got him a gig for being a small town news station’s cameraman. As Quinzio gained more experience, he eventually works for a big Chicago news station. From almost dying in a house fire to seeing dead prostitutes, to chasing down public figures like Michael Jackson, to dealing with over-grown egos of diva journalists, Quinzio is able to use real life experiences from the beginning of his career to the height of it, to give journalist hopefuls an accurate portrayal of the highs and lows of the industry. This supplementary reading was very helpful into being able to see how the the basics of journalism can be applied into real life through “Life Behind the Camera.” Quinzio does a very great job into telling readers how things really are and what it takes to be a part of the media industry. Usually, I pay no mind to autobiographies. However, Quinzio’s reflection of his career is very insightful, realistic, honest, and not overly fabricated. This makes reading “Life Behind the Camera” similar to a pleasure reading book, especially for an assigned text for class.

Life Behind the Camera chronicles the musings, anecdotes, and experiences from Chuck Quinzio, which are undeniably entertaining. It takes me to the time when I set out from my hometown for the big city of Los Angeles. Chasing your journalistic dreams, going through whacky shit in unfamiliar territory, and how we process these things and continue on. He tells us these stories with such engaging prose along with an endearing sense of humor. The book is in its own way a synopsis of life as we travel through Chuck’s mildly delinquent childhood through his growth as a professional in the TV news business. Quinzio draws a sketch of Chicago that doesn’t require a lot of imagination power to enjoy vividly imagining. Chuck gives us a variety of stories in a cleanly written narrative that weaves through super funny experiences and personalities he encounters to death. In a refreshing way he doesn’t hold back any juicy detail (except for real names). The book is a genuine story of a man’s growth with a great deal of honesty. The personalities he encounters and describes that affected him were relatable to the people I and probably many people have encountered. The people who transformed him from a Catholic school kid to a grizzled veteran camera man. It was an inspiration for me. I’m going to make my kids read it and probably someone else’s kid read it. Daring moves from your home town are admirable; struggling to adapt your new environment. The endearing insight on the people who has met is great. Especially the story and picture about him and Michael Jordan. Professor ought to invite him to LACC to talk to the class.

Amy Landecker in Michigan Avenue Magazine

This piece is all about Amy's Chicago upbringing (and it's worth a read--good stuff), but here is the part of the article that really grabbed my attention...

And now there’s an increasing number of TV shows and movies being shot in Chicago, too.
AL: It’s so great. My first chance to have any real on-camera experience was on Early Edition when that shot in Chicago. It’s so important for Chicago actors that shows shoot there so they get a chance to learn and build a resume. I actually have a script in development that I'm writing that takes place in Chicago, and I would love nothing more than to bring the show there and hire all of my friends.

Is there anything you can share about the script?
AL: It’s a lot about my dad and me; I’ll say that. We have a very unusual relationship. We are very close, we’ve gone through a lot together, and we have a very funny, rich relationship that I felt was ripe to be tapped.
We sent her a few copies of Records Truly is My Middle Name a few months ago, and that is being used as reference material. Wouldn't that be incredible if it was actually made into a show?

Scott Miller's Mustache

Scott Miller is the executive producer of the Pete McMurray show on WGN-Radio, but he's much more than that. He's a handlebar mustache man, and his mustache has been formally honored. From this morning's RAMP Newsletter...

Last year Miller treated his face to a field trip to scenic Middleton, WI to compete in the prestigious Midwest Mustache and Beard Wearer's Championship, sponsored by Remington. We are pleased to announce that Miller placed second in the highly competitive "Best Styled Mustache" group and the esteemed panel of judges also declared Miller's mug worthy of one of 12 spots on a special commemorative calendar -- yup, you're looking at Mr. February 2015! RAMP caught up with a jubilant Miller, who commented, "I am proud to follow in the footsteps of Mike Ditka, Tom Selleck, Ron Burgundy and Burt Reynolds as a mustache wearer. To be recognized by Remington as 'calendar-worthy' is incredible, and I am honored to represent all 28 days of February 2015."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Amy Landecker on the WGN-Morning News

I thought Amy did a nice job this morning with the WGN-TV news team.

Watch the video here.

The '85 Bears

Last night I watched Bryant Gumbel's HBO report on the '85 Bears and all of their health problems. That was my favorite team of all-time...and it's sad to see what has happened to those guys. I was most taken by the way Ditka vehemently stood by his guys. During their playing days, the players never really believed he had their backs (remember the player strike of 1987?).

You can watch a clip of it here. It's highly recommended.

Journalism prof asks student to spell his name correctly, she drops the class

This is one of those stories that just makes you wonder about some of the youngsters out there. (I have three...and I know none of them would have done this). A journalism professor told a student that she had to spell his name correctly. She was so appalled by that, she dropped the class.

Details are here.

Zagat's List of Chicago's Top Restaurants

Looks like Bridget and I have a few new places to try. The top 5 are...

1. Avec (West Loop)
2. Alinea
3. Frontera Grill (Rick Bayless)
4. Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab (River North)
5. Katsu Sushi (West Rogers Park)

We've only been to one of these. More about the list here.

Chicago Radio Ratings

Looks like that Christmas format was even more golden this year. From this morning's NOW Newsletter...

Before we get to the story about all-Christmas WLIT, let’s set the scene for the country battle that just began. CBS Radio’s country “US 99.5” WUSN slides 4.1-3.5-2.6. That certainly could be the effect of WLIT and we’ve seen country stations quickly rebound from a love-tap from Santa Claus. But it’s a period of possible vulnerability, because iHeart just blew up regional Mexican WNUA to go country as “Big 95.5” – so WUSN faces real competition for the first time in many years. Back to the Christmas story - iHeart’s hot AC WLIT soars 3.7-7.7-14.2. Second is urban AC sister “V103” WVAZ (5.9-7.3-6.7) and third is CBS all-newser WBBM and its FM partner (5.7-6.2-5.7). Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX runs fourth (5.2-4.9-4.1) and iHeart’s urban WGCI is fifth (3.4-3.6-3.9). Things get colder for top 40 sister “Kiss” WKSC (4.3-4.3-3.8). But this is a vexing time for Tribune’s talk WGN, 4.0-3.5-2.8. Cumulus talker WLS dips 1.4-1.4-1.2. The recent morning-show uncertainty involving Jack Diamond isn’t helping iHeart’s classic hits WLS-FM (3.4-3.1-2.6). Riding Santa’s sleigh, all-Christmas WLIT grows its cume more than 50% in just a month, from 2,427,500 in the December book to 3,772,100 now.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two Big Sports Stories in Chicago

The Cubs traded for a leadoff man--Dexter Fowler.
They had to give up Luis Valbuena, but I think this is a good trade for the Cubs. They've never won anything without a decent leadoff man--and they haven't had a good leadoff man since Kenny Lofton in 2003.

The Bears hired John Fox to be their head coach
It's nice to get a proven coach. From the article: He is one of just six coaches (Don Shula, Dan Reeves, Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, Dick Vermeil) to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl. So that's certainly a positive. Recent flameouts here have not had that pedigree. But you know what is really interesting to me? Both the new GM and the new coach won't really answer the question of "Can you win with Jay Cutler?" Both of them say, "I haven't met him yet." It doesn't take a genius to read between the lines there.

Study Says Blast Of Radio Waves Came From Outside Our Galaxy

This is a report from NPR, which in my book is still respectable and legitimate. Here's a short version of what they discovered...

Calling fast radio bursts "tantalizing mysteries of the radio sky," the more than 30 researchers who took part in the study say they found last May's FRB "during a campaign to re-observe known FRB fields." But while the scientists note that the recent FRB was detected close to a previously discovered phenomenon, they concluded that the two are "distinct objects." "This is a major breakthrough," Duncan Lorimer of West Virginia University tells New Scientist. Lorimer was part of the team that uncovered the 2007 signal. He also argued that it came from far beyond our galaxy.

Time to send someone out on a five year mission to explore strange new worlds and galaxies--to boldly go where no man has gone before!

Look who's coming back!

Turns out they're not dead yet.

Deflated Balls

There is a very weird controversy brewing over the recent Patriots-Colts game, which the Patriots won 45-7. The NFL is investigating whether or not the Patriots intentionally used deflated balls.

I'm not kidding. Here's the story.

My first thought was--"They're cheating again?!?" (Remember when they were caught spying on the other team practicing--they haven't won a Super Bowl since). But then I remembered something important. The final score was 45-7. I don't care how deflated the balls were--that didn't open up gigantic holes for the Patriots running back (who ran for 148 yards).

On the other hand...any controversy that allows me to use "Deflated Balls" in my headline is fine by me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Daly News

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I post this song every year on Martin Luther King day. It's a song by Tom Clay--a disc jockey from Detroit. It beautifully sums up the incredibly scary times of the late 60s, and honors one of my heroes, Martin Luther King Jr.

The Newest Eckhartz Press book--Truffle Hunt

Ready to have your mouth water while you read a gripping and exciting novel? Truffle Hunt by Brent Petersen is the book for you. It's a foodies' dream novel. Just ask these two foodies...
Truffle Hunt serves up a five star gourmet feast of murder, hidden historical gems, deep family pride, a dash of humor and romance, topped with delicate slices of heavenly, golden truffles and a glass of nectar from the deepest Eastern European wine cellars. As a gourmand, mushroom hunter, animal lover and world traveler, I ate the delicious book up in just a couple of sittings. Now, all I need is a truffle hunting dog, a simian bartender and I can bring the pages of this book to life in my kitchen!”

-Vesna Plakanis, Owner, A Walk in the Woods, Nature Guide Service

Truffle Hunt blends a rich regional history with delectable elements of daily cooking and family traditions. Brent leaves you with a taste you’ll never forget.”

-Kate Payne, author The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking and The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen
Pre-orders begin today! Book ships on February 14th.

Who is Brent Petersen?

He is a Renaissance Man and raconteur. Either that, or he has ADHD and doesn’t know when to shut up. He’s been a disc jockey, organic farmer, and corporate drone at a cutting edge technology firm. Currently, he is a mad scientist indulging his love for gelato making (and eating) in Austin. His passion for food and travel intersect in his novel Truffle Hunt.