Friday, December 18, 2015

Whatever happened to that Home Alone kid?

Warning: NSFW

Twas the Night Before Father's Christmas

A promotional video for Father Knows Nothing, my take on Twas the Night Before Christmas...

Affluenza Teen on the Run

Remember the rich kid who only got probation after killing four people in a crash, because he suffered from what his attorney called "Affluenza"? After he was caught violating his probation (by playing beer pong), he and his mother have mysteriously disappeared. The FBI thinks they are on the run, possibly out of the country.

Gawker has more details.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It doesn't officially awaken until today, but it has already sold more tickets than the entire run of Jurassic World and Avengers.

That's unbelievable.

The Hollywood Reporter has the details.

If Donald Trump Owned the Bears

This would be our new logo...

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Around the Publishing World (December 17)

From my ala carte author services website,

We stay on top of happenings/trends in the publishing world to help out busy writers who are spending their time doing what they should be doing: writing.

1. Make your book a best seller
We would normally never post something with a headline like that, but this article actually has some great advice. It's easier than you think. You just need to find the right category.

2. Book Blurbing tips
You probably know Malcolm Gladwell as a best selling author, but did you also know that Malcolm Gladwell is the king of the book blurb? He's done tons of them. Posted a link to this article because when you become an author you'll be asked to blurb too. There's definitely an art to it, and Gladwell does it well.

3. James Patterson teaches writing
If you're a writer, you've probably already seen this in your facebook or twitter feeds, but just in case you haven't, and you're interested, check out the video below.

4. A perfect present for the writer or editor in your family
If they don't have the Chicago Manual of Style yet, it's a must-have book in every writer's or editor's library. This link will take you to a way to purchase the online version, which is a subscription service. Easily searchable and right at your fingertips when you need it.

5. A little writer humor

Small Talk Questions

As I get older, my small-talk abilities seem to be leaving me. I think it's because I no longer work in an office, and don't have to talk to casual acquaintances very often any more.

Thanks to "AG" for sending this. I'm going to try to remember a few of these next time I need them. If you hate awkward silence as much as I do, at least these'll get the other person talking...


Remember that soulless jag who bought a Pharma company so that he could raise prices of AIDS drugs 5000%?

He was arrested yesterday for Securities Fraud.

Sometimes there really is justice in this world.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The list of inductees was announced yesterday, and includes the long overdue induction of Cheap Trick and Chicago. It also includes classic rockers Deep Purple and Steve Miller. And NWA. OK, not exactly Rock and Roll, but I get it.

Congrats to the new members. Here are a few of my favs from the rockers...

Elton Jim

When Garry Meier announced he was coming back with an internet show in January (along with Leslie Keiling), he didn't say anything about his former sidekick/cohort "Elton" Jim Turano. Turns out there was a good reason for that, which Jim mentioned on his facebook page this morning...

Since Garry Meier this week publicly announced his new plans, I have received a host of inquiries from listeners asking if I am involved in this new venture. I am not. The fact is, earlier this year, Garry professionally parted ways with me. It was handled in a professional manner. No fireworks. No harsh words. No ill will. Just a change in creative direction, which a Hall of Fame broadcaster like Garry Meier has every right to make. It was a reality I had to accept. Therefore, when our contracts expired in October, I began to pursue new radio opportunities on my own.

If you’re disappointed we won’t be working together, you can add me to the list. When the show we did was removed, it was extremely popular thanks to a legion of loyal listeners, and it was hitting a new creative stride. But Garry certainly has earned the right and respect to take whatever creative path he chooses. I am proud to have worked with him for six years, and to have helped create consistently fun, entertaining, and memorable radio. I thank him for the enormous opportunity he gave me and I wish him luck in the future.

My future is taking the lessons I learned from Garry and moving forward, which -- at least for the next couple of weeks -- includes doing some fill-in work at WGN Radio on December 20 and 28, and January 1, all from 2am – 5am. I guarantee it will be fun, informative, and unique radio that will be well worth staying up for – I hope you’ll join me!

Larry Wilmore

I have tried to warm to Larry Wilmore's show on Comedy Central, and while I occasionally tune in, I haven't found it to be "Must See TV". I'd rather watch Colbert or Jimmy Fallon (who has Springsteen on tonight, by the way).

I do think he's a solid choice to host the White House Correspondents Dinner, however. He was named the host yesterday.

Debate Ratings

It was the third most watched primary debate ever. Over 18 million people tuned in.

I was one of them, although it was an incredibly depressing show. With one candidate suggesting we kill the families of terrorists (women and children), and another candidate suggesting we start World War III (by shooting down Russian jets), a third candidate favoring carpet bombing without really understanding what that meant, and another honestly believing that political correctness was the reason we haven't defeated ISIS yet, it felt more like a two-hour-long SNL "Jeopardy" bit.

Except it wasn't a bit. People were cheering those statements. For real. Unironically. That may not depress you, but it depresses the heck out of me.

Japan Loves Toilets

When I was in college there were a few times I prayed to the God of porcelain, but it wasn't exactly something I looked forward to, if you know what I mean. People in Japan, on the other hand, have a real love affair with things that flush. Their toilet technology is miles ahead of ours.

Now they even have a toilet museum. No joke.

The Washington Post has the details.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Me Too, Jake

Jimmy Fallon, the Roots, & the Star Wars cast

Two Soccer Careers are Ending

After 184 International Goals (more than any man or woman in the history of the sport), Abby Wambach plays her final game for the Women's National Team tonight.


French Superstar Michel Platini is about to get suspended for several years after it was revealed that he accepted a suspicious 1.3 million pounds payment from FIFA Chairman Sepp Blatter just days before his election. Deadspin has the details if you are so inclined. (My link generator isn't working right now for some reason, but here's the URL of the Deadspin piece:

Selling the Physical Station?

This is an unexpected development...

Thriller Sells 30 Million in US

Amazing number. From Rolling Stone Magazine...

Michael Jackson's landmark 1982 LP Thriller has officially become the first LP to be recognized for selling 30 million copies. The Recording Industry Association of America, in association with the singer's estate and record labels, confirmed the news Wednesday. The record has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, they reported, and claimed that Jackson had sold 1 billion albums total.

I can finally listen to the songs on that album without going into convulsions. I was a bar DJ when it came out (in Champaign-Urbana), and every five minutes a sorority girl would open up my booth door and scream "Play 'Beat It'" or "Play 'Billy Jean'".

"But ma'am, I just played it a few minutes ago."


Good times.

I'll post the video for you today, but I won't post it again.

Grading the GOP Debate

Ana Marie Cox of the Daily Beast has graded each of last night's debate participants on style and substance ( Yes, it's snarky, but beneath the snark is an actual review.

Here's her Donald Trump review, for instance...

Donald Trump

Style: A+

Why the f**k not? He was 100 percent Trump, 100 percent of the time. Sarah Palin word salad in a baggy suit and spray-on tan, he plans to govern via reaction GIF.

Substance: F-

He talks about foreign policy like the guy who gives directions to the taxi driver, loudly and slowly in case the driver doesn’t speak English. Doesn’t tip. Wants to kill innocent people and shut down the Internet, not necessarily in that order. Has been accused of not knowing what “the nuclear triad” is, but, on the other hand: “The power and the devastation are very important to me.”

Overall: Dogs**t ground into your living room carpet.

New Top Christmas Song in Stores

It used to be Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas is You" (for real), but this Shins cover of Paul McCartney's "Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time" is the new #1 song in stores across America (according to PlayNetwork, a company that puts together playlists for over 400 stores). Who knew?

iHeart Debt

That headline shouldn't read "I (heart) debt". It's about iHeart Radio, the former Clear Channel. They still don't have a clue how to extricate themselves from their incredibly onerous debt, and until they do, everything you read about that company is smoke and mirrors.

They have cut the staff down to the bone--there's nothing more to cut. They have made every synergistic move they can make within clusters and clusters of clusters. They have renamed and rebranded the company. They have cut rates to get bigger percentages of the local media buys, and in so doing, have cut the number of dollars going into radio at all. That is bringing down (or at the very least damaging) other companies too.

But they haven't made a dent into the debt. It currently stands at $21 billion. That's billion with a B.

How bad is it? Even the New York Post (Page Six, no less) is reporting on it. Specifically, they take shots at CEO Bob Pittman's extravagant spending, and his complete inability to effectively change course.

I wrote my first draft of "$everance" ten years ago. At that time, the industry was crumbling and I could see the writing on the wall. That novel was a cry for help for the business as a whole. I wanted to point out to everyone (in the most ridiculous--and hopefully funny way) how bad it really was, and the ridiculous direction it was heading. I'm afraid to say the media business has exceeded my every expectation...and gotten even worse than I ever imagined.

It has no hope of getting better as long as these huge conglomerates run it. Despite being huge, they don't have the resources to fix what needs to be fixed because of the debt. They can't invest in the future.

I really believed that one day they would just cut bait and run. That's what you do with real estate that turns out to be a bad investment. You suck it up, and take a loss. Then you write off the loss. I thought for sure it would happen with radio. I figured that, eventually, local broadcasters would buy these stations for a song, and would create what needed to be created: a local medium that serves the local audience.

Obviously, I was wrong. A decision has been made that stations cannot be sold for a huge loss, which simply means they cannot be sold at all because they were bought at ridiculously inflated prices that will never ever return.

So...they just wait for the end. Each of the executives who created this problem will walk away with their millions (many already have), and they will play their fiddles as Rome burns.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

One last signing

Just added one more book signing before Christmas. Todd Schneider and I will be at the Green White clubhouse (on Wille Road in Des Plaines) from 2-5pm on Sunday December 20th. One last chance to get a signed copy of the book. It makes a perfect stocking stuffer for any of the thousands of people who have been a part of this club over its proud 60 year history.

He's Baaaaack

Garry Meier made this announcement on his new website today...

If you enjoyed listening to me in my previous incarnations, I hope you will come along for what I hope to be another adventurous ride! I’ve missed talking to you this past year. I had to wait out the remaining time on a contract before I could return to the microphone. I called it funemployed… getting paid to be concealed Garry.

As I examined the media landscape, I decided to do something that a great friend and mentor told me to do ten years ago…go onto the internet…and while I wasn’t ready to make the leap a decade ago, I thought the time is right now to go digital, since everything in the media world is migrating there. It is migration that just about every state will accept. At this point in my career, I want to try something completely new that offers me more control and freedom and also is the wave of the future.

While gas prices remain low, my excitement heading into this new chapter is very high. Another familiar voice will be part of the broadcast, as Leslie Keiling returns to do news. I’m happy to have her join me.
It might not be the way you listened on traditional radio but breaking away from all of that, I think, is a good thing…so hello from the 50 trillion-watt WIFI.

This web site will be changing and evolving as we go along, so check back often. There will be other fun things offered in the future to explore.

The launch date will happen in the early part of 2016 so stay tuned for more details and postings.

As always, I welcome your input and support on this 21st century journey.


As the Sumner Turns

More legal drama in the case of Sumner Redstone's "ex-girlfriend" trying to oversee his medical care. I'm trying to figure out who the good guy is in this story. Is it the 40-something woman who "dated" the 90-something year old man, or the CEO of Viacom who was put in charge of Redstone's medical care instead (which is, let's face it, really really weird). Its possible there isn't one. From the New York Times...

A former companion of the 92-year-old media mogul Sumner M. Redstone, who is challenging Mr. Redstone’s mental competence, claimed in a legal filing that a declaration provided to the court by the chief executive of Viacom was “riddled with falsehoods.” The declaration stated that Mr. Redstone was “engaged and attentive.”

Mr. Redstone’s former companion, Manuela Herzer, also claimed that Mr. Redstone’s signature had been forged on a November document, providing testimony from a handwriting expert in the more than 200 pages filed on Monday with the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Doggone it. I promised myself I would never feel sorry for this guy (after reading his unbelievably greedy and evil thoughts in his autobiography), but I can't help it. This is pathetic. He has living family you know. And yet his "ex-girlfriend" and his CEO are fighting over his medical care, and you can actually see the vultures on each of their shoulders.

Surprise Surprise

Whenever you hear Howard say "This might be my last show" like he did yesterday, you can rest assured he's in the final throes of negotiating an extention. Sure enough, Howard Stern signed another contract to stay at Sirius/XM last night.

Some Intellectual Humor

Thanks to "DM" for this one...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Grun Weiss Vor!

Had a great time at the Green White Holiday party last night. My co-author Todd Schneider and I sold a bunch of copies of "Grun Weiss Vor!", the book that chronicles the club's proud 60 year history. All proceeds from this book go to the club.

You can still get your copy before Christmas here.

Is Howard Quitting?

He has literally threatened this during every contract negotiation of his career. Is it true this time?

It's a Cubs World Now

My fellow Cubs fans have to read this piece written by a Cardinals fan.

Reading the words aloud is akin to listening to sweet sweet music.

Amy Landecker

She's everywhere, she's everywhere.

Last week it was Last Call with Carson Daly. (John was there for that taping...and is mentioned by Amy)

This weekend it was Business Insider.

I caught up with John the other day. Hadn't talked to him in a few weeks. He has been spending a lot of time out in LA with Amy, helping babysit her daughter, and just hanging out there. He was her date at the Emmys. He joined her for a trip to Washington, where they got a private White House tour. Heady stuff. Both John and Amy seem really happy these days, and I'm happy for them. Good people.

Jimmy Mac

My old buddy Jimmy Mac MacInerney is a Star Wars expert. He hosts the popular podcast RebelForce Radio and is a mover and shaker in the Star Wars world.

With the new movie opening up this week, the Tribune went over to his Star Wars lair and had a chat with him.

You can read it here.

Jimmy and I worked together at the Loop a thousand years ago. He was on Kevin Matthews' show at the time, and I worked for Steve & Garry. Jimmy later spent many years as part of Johnny B's show. (We're also in the same baseball fantasy league--but don't tell anyone. Our wives mock us mercilessly for that)

Heyward Parody (Hey Jude)

All Politicians Lie. Some More Than Others.

Great piece in the New York Times by their fact checking department this weekend.

They have been "fact checking" since 2007, and listed every politician that they've tested so far. On a percentage basis, the biggest liars have been Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz. The most truthful (and this is a low bar indeed) have been Barack Obama, Martin O'Malley, and Bill Clinton (and they have been untruthful many times)

I'm sure some people will say that these fact checkers are biased (New York Times! Left wing bias!), because we live in a world where even fact checking isn't trusted as long as it doesn't match the reader's already pre-conceived notions of the truth. In another time and place we may actually be able to live in a world where actual facts matter. That time is not now, and that place is not here.

Whaddya say we leave the Santa wrapper on, kids?

Thanks to "KR" for this one...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Real Donald

I only met him once (in the early 90s, during his first marriage), but the Donald that is described in this Vanity Fair piece is totally the Donald I remember. The writer is Mark Bowden, who is a very well respected author. He wrote the book "Black Hawk Down". He also spent a weekend with Donald in 1996 for piece in Playboy, and was appalled by what he saw. He calls the article: Donald Trump Really Doesn’t Want Me to Tell You This, But …

Here's a small excerpt...

It was hard to watch the way he treated those around him, issuing peremptory orders—“Polish this, Tony. Today.” He met with the lady who selected his drapery for the Florida estate—“The best! The best! She’s a genius!”—who had selected a sampling of fabrics for him to choose from, all different shades of gold. He left the choice to her, saying only, “I want it really rich. Rich, rich, elegant, incredible.” Then, “Don’t disappoint me.” It was a pattern. Trump did not make decisions. He surrounded himself with “geniuses” and delegated. So long as you did not “disappoint” him—and it was never clear how to avoid doing so—you were gold.

What was clear was how fast and far one could fall from favor. The trip from “genius” to “idiot” was a flash. The former pilots who flew his plane were geniuses, until they made one too many bumpy landings and became “fucking idiots.” The gold carpeting selected in his absence for the locker rooms in the spa at Mar-a-Lago? “What kind of fucking idiot . . . ?” I watched as Trump strutted around the beautifully groomed clay tennis courts on his estate, managed by noted tennis pro Anthony Boulle. The courts had been prepped meticulously for a full day of scheduled matches. Trump took exception to the design of the spaces between courts. In particular, he didn’t like a small metal box—a pump and cooler for the water fountain alongside—which he thought looked ugly. He first questioned its placement, then crudely disparaged it, then kicked the box, which didn’t budge, and then stooped—red-faced and fuming—to tear it loose from its moorings, rupturing a water line and sending a geyser to soak the courts. Boulle looked horrified, a weekend of tennis abruptly drowned. Catching a glimpse of me watching, Trump grimaced.