Friday, January 15, 2016

Beethoven Bit

The great ones never go out of style. Thanks to "JD" for this one...

Gamer Hype

My cousin Kurt runs the team at Robert Morris University. He sent me this note and video yesterday...
RMU kicks off the competitive season with a professionally broadcasted game versus BIG 10 opponent Michigan State University Spartans! So if you are bored on Sat night feel free to tune in on your computer, tablet or phone and watch us smash MSU. I like our chances....Go Chi Town! Hope all is well with you! Thanks!!

Father Knows Nothing: Free Excerpt


One of our favorite responses from Father Knows Nothing is when someone sends us a note saying which "character" they like best. It makes us chuckle, of course, because those characters are all real people. One of them is my brother, Peter Kaempfer, who celebrates a birthday today.

In honor of Peter, we're offering this free excerpt from Father Knows Nothing featuring the character of Peter.

When my little brother Peter was about five years old, he and I shared a bedroom (with bunk beds). One day there was a fly in our room. It buzzed by my head, and I couldn’t get it. It buzzed by Peter’s head and he couldn’t get it. Peter became obsessed with killing that fly. He chased it around the room, until it was near the top bunk. He climbed up on the top bunk, measured the trajectory of the fly, and without regard to his personal well being dove into the air attempting to catch it. He landed hard on the desk five feet away, a crash so loud that it sent the rest of the family charging into the room to see what had happened. He looked like a mangled mess on the floor–one leg pointing one direction, the other pointing another direction. His eyes were closed and he was grimacing in pain. When my mother asked him if he was OK, he didn’t say anything at first, and we worried that he sustained some sort of head injury. He slowly opened his fist, revealed the dead fly in his palm, and with a grin on his face said: “I got him.”

A Voice of Reason

Republican Pete Wehner has temporarily restored my faith in humanity with this Op-Ed in the New York Times. It's called: "Why I Will Never Vote for Donald Trump"

Here's a small excerpt...

I understand that it often happens that those of us in politics don’t get the nominee we want, yet we nevertheless unify behind the candidate who wins our party’s nomination. If those who don’t get their way pick up their marbles and go home, party politics doesn’t work. That has always been my view, until now. Donald Trump has altered the political equation because he has altered the moral equation. For this lifelong Republican, at least, he is beyond the pale. Party loyalty has limits.

No votes have yet been cast, primary elections are fluid, and sobriety often prevails, so Mr. Trump is hardly the inevitable Republican nominee. But, stunningly, that is now something that is quite conceivable. If this scenario comes to pass, many Republicans will find themselves in a situation they once thought unimaginable: refusing to support the nominee of their party because it is the best thing that they can do for their party and their country.

The Power of Trolling

Fareed Zakaria wrote a must-read piece in today's Washington Post about the effects of one absolutely false trolling article about him. The article attributed some pretty obviously false comments to him, like his advocacy for the rape of white women. That's the sort of thing you try to laugh off...until some nutbag calls your house and threatens your young daughters (ages 7 and 12). What in the world is happening to this country?

RIP Lois Weisberg

Rick Kogan wrote a wonderful obit for Lois Weisberg in the Chicago Tribune. I met Lois several times over the years, but I'm certainly not alone. Here's an excerpt from Rick's piece...

Weisberg seemed to know everybody — the comic Lenny Bruce once lived with her — and that attribute was perfectly captured in the now-famous “Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg” by author Malcolm Gladwell in a 1999 article for The New Yorker, later expanded on for a chapter in his first best-selling book, “The Tipping Point.”

“Lois is far from being the most important or the most powerful person in Chicago,” Gladwell wrote. “But if you connect all the dots that constitute the vast apparatus of government and influence and interest groups in the city of Chicago you'll end up coming back to Lois again and again.”

She was a champion of all things Chicago as the cultural affairs commissioner, and in her 90 years she did a great job promoting the arts. Talk about a life well-lived. Chicago will miss her.

Jeff Hoover

Today is Jeff Hoover's 13th anniversary with the WGN Morning News and he posted the interview I did with him nine years ago (!) on his facebook page. People are reading it in droves.

If you'd like to read it too, it's right here.

I still think Hoover has SNL-quality talent. He's done some amazing work for that show over these past 13 years.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

We're All Being Punk'd

Is it possible that this whole Donald Trump campaign is the most elaborate Punk'd episode of all time? I keep waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and tell us it's all a joke. It has to be. Right?

Dog Truth

Thanks to "RW" for this one...

Mick & Paul to play Bowie Tribute Concert

They are arguably the two biggest living rock stars in the world, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, and they plan on playing at a David Bowie tribute concert in New York.

The Mirror has the details.

2016 Oscar Nominees

I really thought Steve Carell might get a nomination for his role in The Big Short, but he didn't make the list (although the movie is nominated for best picture).

You can check out the entire list of nominees here.

Career Option You Might Never Have Considered

Just to warn you, this is definitely NSFW! (But I found it very funny...or at least very odd.)

"I'm a professional dick photographer."

Posted by New York Post on Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Seth Meyers gets 5 more years

The headline in the Hollywood Reporter says: NBC Extends Seth Meyers Through 2021

I don't often see the see the show because I've got an early wakeup call, but the times I have seen it, I'm impressed by how comfortable Seth is in his own skin. That's an underappreciated skill.

3 Powerball Winners

The winning numbers were 08, 27, 34, 04 and 19, and the Powerball was 10

I matched three numbers out of thirty.

The winning tickets were sold in Chino Hills, California; Munford, Tennessee; and in Melbourne Beach, Florida, according to state lottery officials. Don't know anyone that lives in any of those towns.

Oh well, back to reality.

Norm Winer's New Role

This is interesting. Not sure what to make of this news. Norm wasn't just the PD of XRT. He was the father. WXRT is his baby. From Tom Taylor's column...

Norm Winer rotates away from his 36-year role program director at CBS Radio’s adult alternative WXRT/93.1. In the latest change at the company, Norm becomes “Director of Music Initiatives and Special Programming.” CBS says he’ll “take his amazing strengths of industry relationships, gifts of discovering new bands and artists, and skill at producing events, and concentrate on those responsibilities full-time.” Who’s the new PD at ’XRT? There won’t be one, says Chicago media observer Robert Feder. “While Norm Winer’s position will not be filled, his duties will be handled by [WXRT and all-sports “670 the Score” WSCR operations director] Mitch Rosen, and music director Kelly Ransford.” That presumably saves CBS at least part of a salary. Can a big-time station like WXRT run without a full-time PD?

Is the PD position an endangered species in this business?

Most/Least Stressful Jobs

The list is out again, and my friends in the newspaper and broadcasting business are not going to be surprised by number 8 & 9 on the most stressed list...

Most-Stressful Jobs:
1. Enlisted Military Personnel
2. Firefighter
3. Airline Pilot
4. Police Officer
5. Event Coordinator
6. Public Relations Director
7. Senior Corporate Executive
8. Broadcaster
9. Newspaper Reporter
10: Taxi Driver

Least-Stressful Jobs:
1. Information Security Analyst
2. Diagnostic Medial Sonographer
3. Tenured University Professor
4. Hair Stylist
5. Medical Records Technician
6. Medical Laboratory Technician
7. Jeweler
8. Audiologist
9. Dietician
10. Librarian

The Transparent Family on the Red Carpet

Jeffrey Tambor and his two on-screen daughters (including Amy Landecker) on the red carpet at the Golden Globes. Tambor introduces Amy to a reporter, but when it's time to introduce his other "daughter", something funny happens.

Watch it here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

For My Fellow Chicago History Geeks

This is a very cool piece on the WTTW website about a man named Elmer, who was a streetcar conducter in 1894. I love these slices of every day life from history. Much more interesting than the big events we hear about all the time. (Photo: Chicago History Museum)

It's Not Winter in Chicago Until...

Mary Schmich says it's not winter in Chicago until steam comes from the lake. Her readers have a bunch of more suggestions for when winter actually begins. My favorite is: It's not really winter until you've stepped outside on a zero-degree day and thought cheerfully, "At least the sun is out!"

I said that to my barber yesterday. It was a little warm in the barber shop.

The Most Violent Game in Football History

This is a great piece about a game between the Raiders and the Bears in 1984. The descriptions of the damage the Bears inflicted on the Raiders quarterback, and the Raiders inflicted on Jim McMahon are enough to make you cringe. My favorite part is the (now) avuncular Howie Long's threat to beat up a Bears offensive tackle in the parking lot in front of his family.

Read it here.

Talk Radio Network CEO Arrested

Mark Masters runs the Talk Radio Network (he is the CEO) and lives in Oregon. The Talk Radio Network syndicates conservative talk shows like Monica Crowley (from Fox News), Rusty Humphries, and Roy Masters (Mark's dad--a religious leader). Yesterday Mark Masters was arrested for assaulting his wife, and was thrown in jail. Details at the KAJO website.

Is Ted Cruz Eligible to be President?

I've laughed off this discussion because it was initiated by Trump for obvious reasons, but I've been very surprised by the analysis of legal scholars. This op-ed in today's Washington Post is an example. According to this expert, Cruz is a legal citizen, but not eligible to run for president. I'm not a legal scholar, and I'm not worried Cruz could actually win, but it's worth a read.

The Rams are Back in LA

The NFL approved the St. Louis Rams move back to LA. For someone my age, this is how it should be. The Rams belong in Los Angeles.

They've already signed their quarterback. Meet Joe Pendelton. He's got a heavenly quality about him...

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

RIP Monte Irvin

He passed away last night at the age of 96. He had been the oldest living Hall of Famer. This is his write-up in Just One Bad Century's "Every Cub Ever" feature...

~Monte Irvin 1919 (Cubs 1956)
Irvin was nicknamed “Mr. Murder” for the way he murdered the baseball. He was a star in the Negro Leagues and didn’t make his debut in the Majors until 1949 at the age of 30. But even though he only played a few big league seasons and hit only 99 career homers, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1973. He had a few great seasons with the Giants, leading them to the National Leauge pennant in 1951, and the World Series championship in 1954. When the Cubs got him in 1956, he was already 37 years old. His power stroke was diminished, but he was still the best leftfielder in the league. In his last big league season he led the National League in fielding percentage and range.

Late Night Bowie Tributes

Jimmy Fallon...

Conan O'Brien...

Stephen Colbert...

Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall

I thought this whole story was a joke, but it appears it isn't. Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall (Mick Jagger's ex) are engaged. (You can see a picture at the link. I'd rather not post it. My stomach is still a little queasy).

Jerry and Rupert obviously won't be having any children together, but diapers are still going to have to be changed.

Joke for a Tuesday Morning

Thanks to "TD" for this one...

An elderly Irish woman of advanced age visited her doctor to ask his advice on reviving her husband's lagging libido.

'What about trying Viagra?" asked the doctor.

"Not a chance," she said... "He won't even take an aspirin."

"Not a problem," replied the doctor. "Give him an "Irish Viagra."

"What's this Irish Viagra?" she asked.

"You drop the Viagra tablet into his coffee. He won't even taste it. Give it a try and call me in a week to let me know how things went."

A week later she called the doctor, who asked her about the results.

"Oh, faith, bejaysus and begorrah!" she exclaimed. "T'was horrid! Just terrible, doctor!"

"Really? What happened?" asked the doctor.

"Well, I did as you advised and slipped it in his coffee and the effect was immediate.

He jumped straight up, with a twinkle in his eye! With one swoop of his arm, he sent cups and tablecloth flying, then ripped me clothes to tatters and took me then and there on the tabletop! T'was a nightmare, I tell you, an absolute nightmare!"

"Why so terrible?" asked the doctor, "Do you mean it wasn't good?"

"It was the best I've had in 25 years! But sure as I'm sittin' here, I'll never be able to show me face in Starbucks again!"

Another Great Tribute

I wonder if David Bowie had any idea how beloved he was. This is the Rialto Theater in Tucson, Arizona...

Drought? What Drought?

California is rationing water because they have such a shortage. The photo at this link (from CBS News) is the estate of Kanye West and Kim Kardasian. As if you needed another reason to dislike this pair, check out the green surrounded by brown.

The Valentine's Day Gift No One Wants

You know they can make a chocolate mold out of just about anything right?

How about giving your loved one a chocolate mold of your butthole? I'm not kidding. It's called edible anus, and if you'll excuse me for a moment, I think my breakfast is coming back up. Talk amongst yourselves.

Beer Drinking Hall of Fame

From DNA Info...

Over three days, Steve Mosqueda and Sean Benjamin pulled off arguably one of the greatest drinking feats in Chicago's history. Mosqueda and Benjamin visited 64 bars on Western Avenue — walking about 24 miles from 119th Street to Howard Street — and had at least one pint at every single bar. The pair's achievement was filmed for a 25-minute documentary called "The Western Avenue Project."

Western Avenue, by the way, is the longest street in Chicago. Chicago is not a small city. Even the walking part of this excursion doesn't interest me. Also, I love beer as much as the next guy, but sheesh. 64 pints over 3 days is more than 20 pints a day. That sound you hear is a liver crying.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Great Tribute

Thanks so much to "CC" for this one...

Around the Publishing World (January 11)

At Eckhartz Press and Chicago Author Solutions 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. Are there any unforgivable sins in literature?
Author Rivka Galchen answers that question in the New York Times and I absolutely love her answer. Great advice for her fellow writers.

2. 28 Things You Must Know About Publishing
There are some great observations here about self-publishing and traditional publishing. #1 and #19 are great points that authors don't like to hear, but they couldn't be more true. As for #19, when we run into authors that are unwilling to invest in their own books, we run for the hills. Why should we invest if you aren't willing?

3. Unconventional Tips for Unblocking Writer's Block
Author Derek Haines has some suggestions that are really excellent outside-the-box ways of thinking about temporary writer's block. It happens to everyone occasionally. No need to panic. Your talent hasn't suddenly left you. Try these tips and it will more than likely come right back.

4. 21 Author Quotes About the Magic of Reading and Writing
Great writers give you some inspiration to keep on keeping on. Some are a bit trite, but the sentiment is there.

5. New at Eckhartz Press: Library bundles and our Speakers Bureau
Our Eckhartz Press authors have spoken at lots of libraries around the Chicagoland area. We're now offering book bundles for other libraries that want to stock our books, and our speakers bureau for libraries (or other organizations) to book our authors. Click on the links above to get more information.

Space Oddity in Space

This is the sort of thing you will never forget. David Bowie's "Space Oddity" actually performed in outer space by an astronaut. Wow, just wow.

Bowie Wisdom

Forgot about this. Thanks to Marcus Leshock for posting the tweet...

Ricky's Monologue

So, even though I didn't take time out to watch it last night live, I did seek out Ricky Gervais' monologue this morning just to see how mean it was...

David Bowie does Can't Explain

Never saw this one before. From 1973...

Mystery Solved

I didn't watch the Golden Globes, but if you did, you might have wondered what Ricky Gervais said to Mel Gibson that was bleeped during the broadcast. Pardon the profanity...

Sean Penn & El Chapo

This is a really amazing story. Sean Penn somehow got to see El Chapo while the drug kingpin was on the lam from the law, and wrote an article for Rolling Stone magazine about it.

They posted it last night, the day after El Chapo was captured. It's a bit of a rambling mess of an article because Penn had to write it all from memory--no recording devices or pen & paper were allowed. But it's still fascinating.

And it turns out, it led to El Chapo's capture.

Penn has come a long way from his Spicoli days.

My David Bowie Story

When I was in college, my roommate Stu Page had an autographed poster of David Bowie on the wall of our living room. I showed it to everyone who came over, and proudly told them the story of how Stu got Bowie to sign that poster backstage at a concert. Years later, Stu admitted the truth to me. He never went backstage, never met Bowie, and signed the poster himself. All of my other friends already knew.They thought it was hilarious that I didn't recognize Stu's handwriting. If he were still alive today, I know what Bowie would have said to him. "Stu, best wishes, David Bowie."

RIP David Bowie

David Bowie, who had just turned 69 years old last week, died of cancer last night in England. Bowie was one of the all-time greats in rock and roll history. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bowie's career was still going strong. He just released a critically-aclaimed album last week.

Here are a few of my favorite David Bowie moments. The Music...

The acting...