Friday, February 26, 2016

A Graphic Nightmare

Wow. Just wow.

The Supreme Court

I think agree with every word in this New Yorker piece about Antonin Scalia, written by Jeffrey Toobin.

And David Brooks (a Republican) has a great piece in today's New York Times about how we got to this point in history. This paragraph is such a "duh" observation, but is somehow being said almost nowhere in the media...

We’re now at a point where the Senate says it won’t even hold hearings on a presidential Supreme Court nominee, in clear defiance of custom and the Constitution. We’re now at a point in which politicians live in fear if they try to compromise and legislate. We’re now at a point in which normal political conversation has broken down. People feel unheard, which makes them shout even louder, which further destroys conversation.

So true, David. But nobody's listening.

This used to be considered a comedy...


Thanks to "JH" for this one...

10 Years of Blogging: Hollywood & The Cubs

This year is my tenth anniversary as a blogger, and I'll be going through my 30,000+ posts to repost a few of my favorites. One of my biggest blogging projects over these past ten years has been my work at Just One Bad Century, and one of my favorite JOBC blog posts is this one. It's a look at the history of the Cubs and their connections to Hollywood...

As the nation gathers around the television this weekend to watch the Academy Awards, Just One Bad Century features some of the Cubs connections to Hollywood over the years.


Essanay Studios 1907-1917
Not many people realize that Chicago was once the movie capitol of the world. That title lasted exactly one decade (1907-1917), and it was thanks to the movie studio known as Essanay Studios. The studio was located on Argyle Street in the Uptown neighborhood. The name "Essanay" comes from the initials of the studio's founding partners: George Spoor and Bronco Billy Anderson. (Photo: Spoor on the left, Anderson on the right). At that time there was still quite a bit of open space to film in that neighborhood, and Essanay preferred to shoot outdoors if possible. They also built an indoor studio at that location. On the day the studio was opened (in 1907), the Cubs were in the midst of a magical season, on their way to their first World Series title. As the Cubs built one of the greatest dynasties in baseball history, Essanay was doing the same on Argyle Street. They had the world's number one box-office star ( Charlie Chaplin), a glamor queen ( Gloria Swanson) and the most famous cowboy star in the world ("Bronco Billy" Anderson). Spoor was the businessman. He had run a news-stand and a film projector company. Two of his employees went on to start the Bell & Howell company, which made movie projectors. Chaplin left Essanay in 1916, which dealt a death blow to the company. A year later, the rest of the movie making world had moved to southern California for better weather (and year-round filming possibilities), and Essanay died a quick and painful death. By 1917, only the plain brick building on Argyle remained as a reminder of this era. Essanay studios was only operating in Chicago for eleven years, but in those years, the Cubs were in the World Series three times, and began playing their games in what is now known as Wrigley Field. It was a critical era in Cubs and Chicago history.


Phillip Epstein
Phillip G. Epstein won an Academy Award for co-writing the screenplay for “Casablanca”, widely regarded by screenwriters as the best screenplay ever written. His grandson has chosen a different path. Theo Epstein is now the president of the Chicago Cubs. If Theo can write the script for a Cubs World Series championship, he will surpass his grandfather’s incredible accomplishment.


Groucho Marx
The Marx family moved from New York to Chicago in 1909. For much of that time they lived in a large house at 4512 South Grand Boulevard (now called Martin Luther King Boulevard). The house is still there. The Marx Brothers (Gummo, Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo) were already a traveling Vaudeville Act in April of 1917 when America entered World War I. They had been touring in the south when War was declared. But the war forced them to take drastic measures: they purchased a farm in LaGrange, Illinois. Their mother had heard that farmers were going to be exempt from military service, and she wanted to do whatever was necessary to keep her boys out the fight…even if it meant becoming farmers. This is the way Groucho Marx described his days on the LaGrange farm…”The first day we got up at 5 in the morning. The second morning we dawdled until 6. By the end of the first week we slept until noon, which gave us just enough time to catch the 1:07 train to Chicago to see the Chicago Cubs play.” They became regulars at Wrigley Field (then known as Cubs Park) during the World Series year of 1918. The Marx family moved back to New York in the fall of 1920 and a decade later they moved west to Hollywood. But the boys came back to Chicago often to perform. In 1930, the same year they filmed "Animal Crackers," they also performed the stage version of the play with the same cast at Chicago's new Civic Opera House. Each time they returned to Chicago, they made a pilgrimage to their old stomping grounds at Wrigley Field. They may have been the worst farmers in American history, but farming's loss was the Chicago Cubs' gain.

Groucho received an honorary Oscar in 1974


Bill Murray
He's the ultimate Celebrity Cub fan. Born into a Cubs family, Bill Murray has never stopped following his favorite team. He's been there during the good times (?) and bad, showing up to watch them at home and on the road. In 2007, he was there for every gruesome moment as the Cubs took a long time clinching their playoff spot. The Tribune interviewed him about his Cubs love at that time. He was asked about the ridiculous theory that the Cubs would cease being special if they ever actually won the World Series. "I don't accept that (theory), because the Cubs have already won five World Series, and they are the Cubs. Would the Cubs be the Cubs if they lost the World Series? That's sick thinking. You've got to watch out for people like that. I should be watching you. Maybe you want to talk to me later about what's going on in your life." In 2008, he was asked if the Cubs were cursed. He said..."That curse is over. Sam Sianis broke that curse awhile ago. They keep breaking that curse. It should be done, over with. I’ve stopped blaming myself for a Cubs loss. That’s a start. [laughs] I’m am not taking responsibility for those losses.” But then after they choked again, he had a hilarious cameo on Saturday Night Live, asking the political candidates if the Cubs will ever win it all. But Bill Murray's finest Cubs hour probably came during the beginning of the 1987 season. After Harry Caray had a stroke, lots of celebrities filled in for him alongside Steve Stone in the TV booth. None of them had an appearance remotely as memorable as Murray. Chicago will always love Bill Murray. And Bill Murray will always love the Chicago Cubs.

Murray receivad a Oscar nomination for best actor for his role in Lost in Translation


Gary Sinise
He was born in Blue Island, but he grew up in Highland Park. As a young man he was one of the founders of the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, but he really rose to fame playing the character Lt. Dan in the film Forrest Gump. But while we all knew he was from Chicago, with a birthplace like Blue Island, we couldn't be sure if he was a Cubs fan or a Sox fan. The record over the past decade seems to have ended that speculation once and for all. In 2003, Gary was interviewed for the Cubs documentary "Chasing October," and admitted something that surprised no one: He's a die-hard Cubs fan. In 2004, Gary participated in the film "This Old Cub," which told the gut-wrenching story of Ron Santo's struggle with diabetes and his hopes for entry into Baseball's Hall of Fame. Sinise recounted his memories of watching good ol' #10 patrolling 3B for the Cubs in the sixties and early seventies. In 2009, he agreed to narrate the Cubs film "We Believe." We believe, Gary. You are a true blue Cubs fan.

In 1994 he was nominated for an academy award for best supporting actor for his role in Forest Gump...


42 (2013)
What do the Cubs have to do with the movie 42? The villain of the film, Kirby Higbe, was a former Cub. Higbe didn’t get a lot of playing time with the Cubs in parts of three seasons in Chicago, including the 1938 pennant winning year. The Cubs used him primarily out of the bullpen. They traded him in the 1939 season, and Higbe later became a two-time All-Star and 20-game winner with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He didn’t respond well to the arrival of Jackie Robinson in 1947, however, and was shipped off to Pittsburgh. Thanks to the movie he’ll forever be remembered as a villain. It’s probably a pretty accurate portrayal of Higbe, who grew up in South Carolina, and claimed to have developed his throwing arm by throwing rocks at black people.


A League of Their Own (1992)
Jimmie Foxx hit 534 career home runs, but unfortunatley for Cubs fans, only three of those home runs came with the Cubs, who picked him up one year after his last good season. He hit .190 with the team in 225 at-bats, and was released in 1944. He later managed one of the women's teams during the war, and was the inspiration for the character played by Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own."

The movie was also partially filmed at Wrigley Field….


The Babe Ruth Story (1948)
The most famous moment of Babe Ruth's career happened at Wrigley Field, so naturally the movie of his life has a scene at Wrigley. Of course this version is complete fiction (Babe didn't really point, he didn't really promise to hit one for a dying kid, and the Chicago fans did NOT cheer), but it is memorable. After all, he saved a young boy's life.


The Blues Brothers (1980)
John Belushi often infused his work with references to the Cubs. On Saturday Night Live, he flipped "Cheesborgers" in a place eerily similar to the place that allegedly brought us the our World Series curse...the Billy Goat Tavern. Even more famously, in the classic film "The Blues Brothers," Jake and Elwood say that their address is 1060 West Addison Street. When the band of moronic Nazis turn up at the brothers’ official address, they are none to pleased to discover what is really there...Wrigley Field. (Clip below NSFW)


The Break Up (2006)
Vince Vaughn was raised in suburban Buffalo Grove and Lake Forest, and during his formative childhood years was infected with the Cubs virus. Vaughn became a movie star when the film "Swingers" came out, and followed that up with comedy classics like "Old School," "Dodgeball," and "The Wedding Crashers." In 2005-2006, he co-wrote, produced, and starred in the movie "The Break Up" (with Jennifer Aniston) and insisted that it be filmed in Chicago. The opening scene in the film actually takes place at Wrigley Field. During the filming, Vaughn and Aniston became an item, and People Magazine reported that they liked to hang out at Wrigley Field together...
"Now when Vaughn visits home, he is more likely to catch a Cubs game with Aniston, as they did on Memorial Day, than hit the singles' scene. Says Tim Juliusson, owner of the Holiday Club, where Vaughn took Aniston last summer: "They're in couples-mode now."
That didn't last long, but his love affair with the Cubs and Chicago remains strong. Whenever he comes back home to Chicago, he's sure to visit Wrigley Field to watch his favorite team play. He still sings Take Me Out to the Ballgame at least once a year. He may be a Hollywood superstar, but Vince Vaughn will also forever be what he was growing up in Buffalo Grove and Lake Forest. A Cubs fan. (Although he does order ketchup on his hot dog in this scene. That's a little disturbing)


Elmer the Great (1933) and Alibi Ike (1935)
~Joe E. Brown's name isn't remembered by many people today, but he was an actor, comedian, and baseball nut. He was also one of the biggest movie stars in America during the 1930s. He made his mark in a series of baseball movies, and in his two biggest box office hits ("Elmer, the Great" and "Alibi Ike") he portrayed fictional players on the Chicago Cubs. Both of those films were written by the great baseball writer Ring Lardner, and filmed in LA's Wrigley Field. Brown called the character of Elmer his all-time favorite: a lovable, walking, talking, egocentric braggart. Elmer also does something in the movie that we can only dream of witnessing...he hits a grand slam to win the World Series for the Cubs. Several real-life Cubs were in that movie too: Babe Herman, Larry French, Tuck Stainback, and the man who allegedly served up the pitch for Babe Ruth's called shot: Charlie Root. In his next baseball movie, "Alibi Ike," Brown played another Chicago Cubs player, pitcher Francis X. Farrell. They called him Alibi Ike because he had an excuse for everything. One of his famous lines: "I coulda won more than 30 games last year, but I had malaria half the season." Brown's Ike is a clowning excuse maker that forgets what made him who he is as he pursues his rookie season with the Chicago Cubs. But, like all of Brown's characters, Ike has a heart of gold, and eventually gets back together again with his estranged girlfriend (Olivia de Havilland). Ike realizes that she is more important to him than wearing a Cubs uniform, and it's not until he realizes it that he fulfills his baseball potential.


Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
John Hughes grew up in Northbrook, and set many of his films in and around his hometown. Among them, the film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Among the famous locations featured in the movie; the Sears Tower, the Art Institute, the Board of Trade, and of course, Wrigley Field. The three friends catch a day game that day, and it was an actual Cubs game, not one recreated for the screen. The game took place on Wednesday, June 5, 1985 at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were hosting the Atlanta Braves, and the score was tied 2-2 in the top of the 11th inning with the Braves batting. Claudell Washington is batting against Lee Smith as Leon Durham holds Paul Zuvella on first base. (In the movie, the fry cook tells Mr. Rooney, who sees it on television, that the score at that point was 0-0.) The Cubs eventually lost that game in the 11th inning. Washington flied out for the first out of the inning. The batter after Washington was Rafael Ramirez and he hit a two run home run off Lee Smith to win the game.


Major League (1989)
The film is about the Indians, but it also has a Cubs connection. Several of the actors who appeared in the film attended a baseball academy run by former Cub Mickey Owen. Mickey led a fascinating life in and out of baseball. He was a four-time All-Star with the Brooklyn Dodgers during early 40s. Owen didn’t serve in the military during the war, he was called up AFTER the war, and missed the 1946 season. When he came back, he was one of the players who bolted to the Mexican league. This angered Commissioner Happy Chandler so much, he wanted to ban those players from the major leagues for life. Chandler eventually cooled off, and Owen was allowed to return in 1949. That’s when he joined the Cubs. Mickey was the starting catcher for a few incredibly bad Cubs teams. After his playing days were over, he became a scout, then formed a baseball academy. Among the graduates of that academy…Michael Jordan, Joe Girardi & Charlie Sheen. Sheen, of course, played the character Wild Thing. The real-life closer of the Cubs that year was also nicknamed Wild Thing--Mitch Williams.


The Natural 1984
Author Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn and was almost certainly not a Cubs fan, but he was inspired by a few players in Cubs history–namely Billy Jurges and Eddie Waitkus. Both of those Cubs players were shot by crazed fans–and Malamud wrote a novel about a great player who was shot by crazed fan. The film version of the book even has a memorable scene that takes place against the Cubs in Wrigley Field.

Also, the scene in The Natural featuring the "headshrinker" was almost certainly inspired by the Cubs hiring of baseball's first sports psychologists, Coleman Griffith (in 1938). Griffith was a psychology professor at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and was asked by PK Wrigley to do a complete psychological analysis of the Cubs for a project he called “Experimental Laboratories of the Chicago National League Ball Club.” The 1938 Cubs were a veteran team (average age: nearly 30), and with future Hall of Famers like Dizzy Dean and Tony Lazzeri on the roster, they were not exactly the prototypical audience for experimental psychological research. Griffith also didn't help his cause with his analysis of the players. For instance, he used a very complex statistical model to show that Phil Cavaretta should be traded because he would never amount to anything. People made fun of Wrigley for using Griffith that year, but on the other hand, the Cubs did go to the World Series in 1938. Wrigley really wanted him to come back full-time for the 1939 season, but Griffith wanted to spend more time with his family in Urbana.


The Relic (1997)
Jophery Brown CubsThe story of Jophery Brown's Cubs career is a short one. He pitched exactly two innings of one game on a Saturday afternoon, September 21, 1968, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. Brown pitched one more year in the minors after that, developed arm trouble, and retired from the game at the ripe old age of 24. But Jophery Brown certainly didn't go quietly. Even during his minor league career he had dabbled in Hollywood, working as a stuntman for the television series "I Spy" (starring Bill Cosby). When his baseball career was officially over, he returned to Hollywood and was soon working steadily. Among his 117 feature films and television shows, Jophery Brown has done stunts for "Live and Let Die," "Papillon," "Smokey and the Bandit," "Convoy," "Foul Play," "The Blues Brothers," "Vacation," "Scarface," "To Live and Die in LA," "Die Hard," "Speed," "Get Shorty" and all three "Lethal Weapon" movies. The many famous people on Jophery Brown's "Brushes with Greatness" list are truly astounding, but if you asked him which celebrity impressed him the most, would it be one of those Hollywood legends with stars on the Walk of Fame, or would it be one of his teammates with plaques in Baseball's Hall of Fame? Hall of Famer Billy Williams played left field behind him, Ron Santo was at third base, and Fergie Jenkins was a fellow member of Brown's pitching staff. Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, was the heart and soul of that 1968 team. Even the manager of the Cubs, Leo Durocher, was a future Hall of Famer. That's not to say that Brown's Hollywood career hasn't been remarkable, because it surely has. But how many players in MLB history managed to play only two innings in the big leagues, and can still say they played for a Hall of Famer, played with four Hall of Famers, and pitched to another Hall of Famer? I'm betting Jophery Brown has told that story to his Hollywood friends more than a few times, and even they were impressed.

Jophery got one line in the movie “The Relic”…


The Rookie 1993
Henry was a 12-year old boy who became a big leaguer in the film "Rookie of the Year" and took the Cubs to the fictional championship. The character was played by Thomas Ian Nicholas, but other stars of the movie included Daniel Stern, John Candy, and Gary Busey.


Taking Care of Business (1990)
It's no secret that Wheaton's very own Jim Belushi was a big fan of the Chicago Cubs. Jim still comes to the ballpark every year to watch the beloved and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." But he's also brought references to the Cubs to his work. In 1990's "Taking Care of Business" he takes it to new heights--the Cubs go to the World Series. His character, Jimmy Dworski, gets out of prison to watch it. Here's a little sample of the dialogue...
Jimmy Dworski: It's the Cubs in the World Series - it's a dream of mine, sir.
Warden Toolman: I know, I know,I know, I know, all right. I am not gonna stand in the way of anybody's dream, Jimmy. I'll tell you what:
Jimmy Dworski: What?
Warden Toolman: If I sink this putt, you can go. What do you think of that? Hmmm?
Jimmy Dworski: I think you should keep your head down, arms straight, drop your shoulder, concentrate, focus, think of the hole, GET the ball in the hole!
Warden Toolman: Smell the hot dogs now, Jimmy. The crack of the bat; the roar of the crowd; you can order your tickets now, Jim.
Jim has made no secret of his love for the Cubs, but he still hasn't lived the dream of his character Jimmy Dworski. He's never seen them in the World Series.


The Winning Team (1952)
Two years after his 1950 death, Grover Cleveland Alexander's story was told in the film "The Winning Team," starring Ronald Reagan. Grover Cleveland Alexander remains the only player in baseball history to be named after a president, and portrayed in a movie by a president.

The film featured a few Cubs. Peanuts Lowry had been a child actor, playing bit parts in silent films. Supposedly, actress Thelma Todd got him to perform with promises to buy him peanuts--which is where he got his nickname. Peanuts played with the Cubs from 1942-1949, and was a starter on the last Cubs World Series team, but he never totally lost the acting bug. He had a speaking part in “The Winning Team,” playing a pitcher that beans Ronald Reagan. Hank Sauer also had a role. At the time, he was the biggest star in Chicago. In 1952 he led the league in homers and RBI and was named the league's Most Valuable Player. Hank was known for the big wad of chew he had in his mouth. Every time he homered, the left field faithful would shower him with his favorite brand. Sauer was so popular during his days in Chicago, the press referred to him as "The Mayor of Wrigley Field". The last batter Ronald Reagan (as Grover Alexander) strikes out in “The Winning Team” is Hank (portraying a Yankee)…

Of course the biggest connection to the Cubs was not the player being portrayed (Grover Cleveland Alexander), it was the actor portraying him (Ronald Reagan). Reagan didn't just grow up a Chicago Cubs fan. He owes much of his success to the team. Following college graduation, Reagan landed a job as a radio announcer at WOC in Davenport, Iowa and later at WHO in Des Moines. Radio was a brand new medium in those days and he discovered quickly that getting in on the ground floor was his ticket to the top. He began broadcasting Chicago Cubs baseball games he had never seen. His descriptions were largely improvised, and were based solely on telegraph accounts of games in progress. On June 7th, 1934, something dramatic happened. The telegraph went out. This is how Reagan described what happened next.
"There were several other stations broadcasting that game and I knew I’d lose my audience if I told them we’d lost our telegraph connections so I took a chance. I had (Billy) Jurges hit another foul. Then I had him foul one that only missed being a home run by a foot. I had him foul one back in the stands and took up some time describing the two lads that got in a fight over the ball. I kept on having him foul balls until I was setting a record for a ballplayer hitting successive foul balls and I was getting more than a little scared. Just then my operator started typing. When he passed me the paper I started to giggle - it said: ‘Jurges popped out on the first ball pitched.’”
Despite working in Iowa, he was voted as one of the top ten most popular baseball announcers in America. In 1937 his radio station sent him out to California to cover the Cubs in spring training. At that time they trained at Catalina Island. Reagan parlayed that trip into a screen test...and the rest, as they say, is history.



The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978)
Bob NewhartBob Newhart was born and raised in Chicago. He went to St. Ignatius High School on the West Side, and grew up rooting for the Chicago Cubs. He got his big break when a Chicago DJ named Dan Sorkin played a funny tape Bob made to entertain his colleagues. Newhart was a 30-year-old accountant -- still living at his parents' house -- when his star started to rise. He decided to switch careers and give comedy a go in the late '50s. The Buttoned Down Mind Of Bob Newhart -- which outsold Beatles albums in the '60s -- made him a superstar. When Bob got his first network sitcom, he naturally set the show in Chicago. His character's home was this building at 5901 N. Sheridan on the city's north side. His office was near the river on Michigan Avenue. And during one memorable episode, Bob counseled a struggling pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. Newhart has lived in LA for nearly 50 years now, but he remains a Chicago Cubs fan. One day backstage at a Tonight Show taping, John Belushi ran into Newhart and asked him if he remembered going to a Chicago Cubs game years earlier and autographing baseballs for kids between innings. "I was one of those kids," said Belushi. Added Newhart, "Cubs lost." In an interview with the Daily Herald in 2011, he recalled "I will always remember 1945 when I was 16 years old and the Cubs had won the national league pennant. I went and watched as the Cubs paraded down LaSalle Street."

An entire episode about the Cubs...


Curb Your Enthusiasm (2013)
Billy Buck had a great Cubs career, capped off by a batting title in 1980. When the Cubs traded him early in 1984, it was only because they had another player to take his place at first base...Leon Durham. Durham and Buckner, of course, share a common fate. Both of their outstanding careers will always be remembered for one little ball that went through their legs at the worst possible time. That is portrayed all too hilariously in this 2013 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (NSFW)


The Munsters & Mr. Ed (1965)
Right before Leo Durocher took over the Cubs, he was a coach with the Dodgers, and made several television appearances like these...

While he was with the Cubs, Leo continued to hang out with his Hollywood friends. He even set up a folding chair in the dugout in 1967 so his buddy Frank Sinatra could watch the game from there.


The Phil Silvers Show (1955-1959)
Steve Bilko was acquired by the Cubs on April 30, 1954. Bilko looked like a ferocious slugger. He was 6’1 and weighed anywhere from 230 and 260 pounds, and most of it was solid muscle, but he didn’t do much for the Cubs in 1954. They gave him 92 at bats with the big club before sending him down to the minors. At the time, the Cubs minor league team was in Los Angeles California, and that’s where Bilko became a cult hero. In three minor league seasons for the minor league LA Angels, Bilko hit .330 and slugged 148 home runs. He became a huge box office attraction, and got the attention of Hollywood. One Hollywood star, Phil Silvers, even named a television sitcom character after him. The name Bilko is now most associated with that memorable character in the “Phil Silvers Show,” but to Cubs fans, Bilko was just another player who could do well at the minor league level, but never in the big leagues. They traded him to the Cincinnati Reds after the 1957 season.


Punky Brewster (1984)
During the Cubs division winning season of 1984, an entire episode revolved around attending a Cubs playoff game.


The Rifleman 1958-1963
The physically imposing 6'5" Chuck Connors played first base for the Cubs in 1951 and hit a whopping two home runs in 200 at bats, not exactly the kind of power you want from a big first baseman. That performance earned him a trip back to the minors. Luckily for him, the Cubs minor league team at the time was in Los Angeles. While he was playing in the Cubs minor league system he got a bit part in the movie "Pat & Mike" (starring Spencer Tracy--1952). That led him to quit baseball for good and become a full-time actor. By 1958, he was starring in "The Rifleman," which aired until 1963. He also starred in Old Yeller, Soylent Green, and Roots, and is arguably the greatest Cubs actor of all-time (other than Sammy Sosa during his "corked bat" press conference). (Photo: Topps 1952 Baseball Card)


Undercover Boss (2010)
Tom Ricketts is the main owner of the Cubs, but his siblings are also part of the team. One of them, little brother Todd, was once on the show “Undercover Boss”. The entire episode takes place at Wrigley Field...

CBS Radio Sales

From this morning's RAMP Newsletter...

CBS Radio Chicago announced two significant changes within its sales department, promoting cluster vet Paul Agase to the newly created position of Director of Music Sales, and hiring market vet John Cravens as the cluster's new Director of News and Sports Sales. Agase most recently served as GSM of CBS Radio Top 40 WBBM-FM (B96), Country WUSN (US99.5) and Classic Hits WJMK (104.3 K-Hits) -- in his new role he will continue to oversee sales for those stations and now annexes sales oversight of Triple A WXRT. John Cravens was most recently VP/GM of crosstown ESPN affiliate outlet WMVP-AM; he will now oversee sales for News simulcast WBBM-AM & WCFS-FM, Sports/Talk WSCR-AM (670 The Score) and sports play-by-play sales for the Chicago Bears and Cubs. Tim Pohlman, SVP/Market Manager for CBS Radio Chicago said, "I'm extremely excited to have two senior veterans in the market lead our sales efforts with the great brands of CBS Radio Chicago. Paul and John have been leaders in the Chicago market for many years. Their solid relationships with partners, clients, and our internal team will be key to growing our revenue in the years ahead."

Fact Checking The Donald

I watched the incredibly depressing Republican spitball mean debate last night. Insults were hurled back and forth and towels were snapped. But finally, someone confronted Donald on the biggest scam of his entire personna: the whole concept of what a brilliant business man he is. Yes, he's a billionaire, but he never admits that he started off on third base--the son of a man who was worth $200 million. Rubio nailed him on this last night, and Donald exploded.

The Washington Post fact checker checked into this...

“I took $1 million and I turned into $10 billion.”
— Trump

Trump lowballs one number and highballs the other. Trump has suggested he got his start when he obtained a $1 million loan from his father. “My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars,” he told NBC in October, which he claimed he had pay back with interest. “A million dollars isn’t very much compared to what I built.”

But that ignores the fact that he joined his father’s thriving real estate business after college and that he relied on his father’s connections as he made his way in the real estate world. Nor does it count the estimated $40 million he received as an inheritance in 1974.

(Note: Rubio at one point in the debate said Trump inherited $200 million. That’s believed to be the value of the father’s company, but Trump had to split it with his four siblings.)

Many experts doubt he is really worth as much as $10 billion. Bloomberg News pegged his net worth at $2.9 billion, based on an analysis of his personal financial disclosure form.

Max Ehrenfreund of The Washington Post’s Wonkblog documented that Trump’s business performance was actually relatively poor given the massive real estate assets that he inherited from his father. Citing an independent evaluation, Business Week put Trump’s net worth at $100 million in 1978. Ehrenfreund said that had Trump gotten out of real estate entirely, put his money in an index fund based on the S&P 500 and reinvested the dividends, he’d be worth twice as much — $6 billion — today.

Don't get me wrong. He still has to do things the other candidates don't (make payrolls, create budgets, etc). But lets see how the rest of us would have done with the same advantages. Suddenly it's not so impressive, is it?

The Lost "Here Comes the Sun" Guitar Solo

This is very cool for my fellow Beatles geeks...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cubs Make A Few Moves

Chris Coghlan was traded to the A's for Aaron Brooks. And then this bombshell...

Some Media Love for "Monkey in the Middle"

Thanks so much to Tom Taylor's NOW Newsletter for this nice mention of our latest book "Monkey in the Middle" by Dobie Maxwell....

“When Dobie Maxwell entered the GM’s office, there were FBI agents waiting for him” – Rick Kaempfer says the feds wanted to question Dobie about a bank robbery. Longtime radio pro Kaempfer’s at Chicago-based Eckhartz Press, which has just published Dobie’s memoir, “Monkey In the Middle.” Here’s more about Dobie’s predicament – “He was born in Milwaukee, to a biker father and a drug-abusing mother. He was raised by his paternal grandparents and it was there, in his grandparents’ neighborhood, that Dobie befriended another societal misfit. Years later as Dobie pursued his dream as a professional comedian and radio personality, that friend robbed a local bank. He used Dobie as his unknowing getaway driver as they took a cross-country trip to Las Vegas in a rental car in Dobie’s name. Two years later, the same friend robbed the same bank again. This time he did it disguised as a Gorilla Gram - a robbery so audacious it made all the local TV news programs. Who would have done such a thing? Law enforcement thought it just might be the work of a comedian, and all trails led to Dobie.” At that point, Dobie was doing radio in Reno, and Rick says “Dobie had to make the excruciating choice of either testifying against his life-long friend in court, or going to prison for crimes he did not commit.” Maxwell’s spent 20 years in radio as a morning personality/sidekick in Milwaukee, Salt Lake and Chicago at “Loop” WLUP, where Rick met him. So there’s a lot of radio in “Monkey In The Middle.”

Santo and Pafko

Two of the biggest stars in Cubs history were born on this day...

~Ron Santo 1940 (Cubs 1960-1973, Cubs announcer 1990-2010)
He was the captain of that ill-fated (but incredibly talented) 1969 Cubs team–the man who clicked his heels after each Cubs victory. Santo was also the one who had the black cat cross his path while he stood in the on-deck circle in New York. Ron Santo is a Hall of Famer, something he wanted to be more than anything else in the world. Unfortunately, he wasn’t inducted until after his death. His credentials should never have been questioned. Santo was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glover at third base. He hit 342 homers, and was the dominant player at his position (in the National League) during his playing days. And he did it all despite suffering from diabetes. After his playing career he joined the Cubs radio broadcast booth, teaming up with the great Pat Hughes. He lost both legs to diabetes during his broadcasting days, and made an even stronger bond with Cub fans. He never complained about his medical misfortune, and he exhibited the same kind of raw emotion that Cub fans experienced: Incredible joy when they won, and pure agony when they lost. His number was retired in 2003 and a #10 flag now flies on the left field foul pole at Wrigley Field. (PHoto: Topps 1970 Baseball Card)

~Andy Pafko 1929 (Cubs 1943-1951)
Nicknamed “Handy Andy,” because of his incredibly dependable hitting and fielding, Pafko was one of the most popular Cubs, and a star of their last World Series team of 1945. “Handy Andy” was a five-time all-star during his Cubs career, the first three times as an outfielder (although one of those times, 1945, they didn’t play the all-star game because of the war). After legendary Cubs’ third baseman Stan Hack retired after the 1947 season, Pafko replaced him on the hot corner long enough to be named an All-Star there too, making him one of the few people to achieve All-Star status in both the infield and outfield. His 1950 season can only be described as “DiMaggio-esque”. That year Andy Pafko knocked the ball out of National League ballparks 36 times while only striking out 32 times. Only 14 players have ever accomplished that feat. Pafko’s 1950 season was so impressive that Reds’ president Warren Giles said if he could choose any player in the National League to help improve his team, he would choose Pafko. Naturally, Handy Andy was rewarded for that incredible season in true Cubs fashion. He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was crushed when the Cubs traded him, and it was a trade that Chicago would forever regret. The players they got in return had almost no impact with the Cubs, while Pafko would go on to play in the 1952 World Series with the Dodgers and the 1957 and 1958 World Series with the Braves. He came back to his hometown of Chicago after his playing career was over, settling in the northwestern suburbs, and passed away in 2013 at the age of 92. (Photo: Bowman 1949 Baseball Card)

Other Cubs born on this day include Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, current Cub Jorge Soler, former Cub GM Ed Lynch, former Cub broadcaster Bob Brenley, and Cub fan Zeppo Marx. Read about them here.

Lincoln Square, Before There was a Square

I love this new series they are doing at DNAinfo. They are going through Chicago's neighborhoods and showing what they looked like in the past.

Today's piece is about Lincoln Square (by the Brauhaus restaurant). I spent a lot of my childhood in this neighborhood, and even I forgot that it was once a two-way street. It didn't become the walkway square it is now until 1980.

Check it out here. Great photos.

Joke for a Thursday Morning

Thanks to "JR" for this one...

'Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with a loose girl.' The priest asks, 'Is that you, little Joey Pagano?' 'Yes, Father, it is.' 'And who was the girl you were with?' 'I can't tell you, Father, I don't want to ruin her reputation.' "Well, Joey, I'm sure to find out her name sooner or later so you may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Minetti?" 'I cannot say.' 'Was it Teresa Mazzarelli?' 'I'll never tell.' 'Was it Nina Capelli?' 'I'm sorry, but I cannot name her.' 'Was it Cathy Piriano?' 'My lips are sealed Father.' 'Well then, was it Rosa DiAngelo?' 'Please, Father, I cannot tell you.'

The priest sighs in frustration. 'You're very tight lipped, and I admire that. But you've sinned and have to atone. You cannot be an altar boy now for 4 months. Now you go and behave yourself.' Joey walks back to his pew, and his friend Franco slides over and whispers, 'What'd you get?' 'Four month's vacation and five excellent Leads.'

The Lone Ranger

Had a great time last night at the Chicago Cultural Center. They performed an old-time radio program...The Lone Ranger! Among the stars of the broadcast...John Landecker (as the narrator), WGN's Roger Badesch (as Tonto), and Joel Daly (as the yodeling cowboy). It was so much fun watching them perform it live, complete with handmade sound effects, and the original commercials. Next time they do one of these shows you should go see it...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pooh Wisdom

Thanks to "DS" for this one...

Free Excerpt from Father Knows Nothing: Hansel & Gretel

Today is the birthday of Wilhelm Grimm (1786). He was the younger Grimm brother who produced the immortal "Grimm's Fairy Tales". Anyone who has read "Father Knows Nothing" knows that my parents used to love to tell me these sick, twisted children's stories. This is my favorite excerpt and one of my favorite stories about my dad...

My father loved the story of Hansel and Gretel. He had a boy and a girl at the time (another boy would follow a few years later), so he thought it was a perfect story to tell us. In case you haven’t heard it in a while, it goes like this…

An evil stepmother convinces her husband to leave his children in the woods to die. The father decides to give them a fighting chance at survival, by handing them each a piece of bread. He tells them to leave a trail so they can find their way home. Of course, animals eat the bread, and end all hope for the little boy and girl. Hansel & Gretel become hopelessly lost, and get captured by a cannibal witch, who tries to eat them after fattening them up. They escape by killing her, and somehow find their way home. The happy ending is that the stepmother is dead when they get there.

Beautiful story, no? My father told it to us all the time.

One night my sister and I were fighting, and so he gave us each a piece of rye bread, led us out to the car, and told us he was driving us out in the forest.

“No Dad! No!” we cried. “Please don’t do this. We promise to behave. We promise.”

“You’ve got nothing to worry about. Just leave a rye bread trail.”

“But Dad! The animals will eat the bread!”

We couldn’t believe he was really doing it to us, but we were in a car, and we were clearly going somewhere.

“You’ll never find your way home if you don’t start tossing the rye bread,” he said to us, while looking in the rearview mirror.

I pleaded some more while Cindy rolled down the window and started tossing.

He pulled into a convenience store parking lot, walked inside and bought some cigarettes, got back into the car and drove us home. He had a huge grin on his face when he saw how relieved we were to come back home.

“Will you be fighting any more tonight?” he asked.

“No Dad,” we both promised.

German lesson learned.

The Wife and I

This is now our official portrait. I've chosen it mainly because I don't think I'll ever convince Bridget to wear a Dirndl again.

I was pitching an Eckhartz Press author to a radio station for an interview yesterday, and the radio guy said to me: "That pic of you and your wife (I posted it on facebook). I don’t know where that was taken, and I don’t mean any disrespect, but the first thing I said was 'looks like you’re guests of honor at the White People Convention'!”

I just thought that was funny. It was a German-American Soccer Club dance...but he makes a good point.

20th Anniversary of the Day that Radio Died

20 years ago, the Telecommunications Act was signed by President Clinton. It didn't take long for that deregulation of the industry to make a handful of people the expense of the entire industry. It's now a shell of it's former self, and it all goes back to that horrible day. From Tom Taylor's NOW column today...

With one fateful policy decision 20 years ago, the FCC widened the door to consolidation. It was all about how you define a “radio market” – and the FCC did it with great generosity. Randy Michaels was running Jacor in 1996 and he was one of the first to grasp the implications of how the FCC interpreted the Telecommunications Act passed by Congress, signed by President Bill Clinton and supported by the NAB. Michaels understood that the way the FCC implemented the Act was an unexpected gift to consolidators like him. Congress passed the broad outlines of what the largest players in the radio industry wanted. But as they say, “The devil’s in the details,” and the FCC defined a radio market as including all the signals that overlapped the contour of any of home-market stations – even if they were dozens of miles away. That turned even relatively small markets into situations where a single owner could have seven or eight stations. Congress probably meant only the largest metros to be “eight-station markets” – but it didn’t work out that way. Many observers are commenting on the 20th anniversary of the February 1996 Telecom Act, and radio blogger Dick Taylor is one of those who decries the fate of the “Golden Goose” of parable-fame. Taylor says that as of 1996, “owners [were like] the farmer cutting open his goose to get all the eggs at once.”

I don't know much about other industries, but when I hear someone say that deregulation will solve any problems, I think of the only deregulation I truly understand. It was an abomination. Until someone can show me an example of how it can help an industry--I assume the opposite. The only other deregulation I've looked into--the deregulation of the banking industry--nearly destroyed the entire world's economy.

Tonight at the Culturual Center

This is where I'm going see two of our Eckhartz Press authors in action. John Landecker as the narrator. Joel Daly as the yodeling cowboy. Can't wait to see it. A little snow won't keep me away.

Dick Van Dyke Endorses

I'm glad he didn't call him "young man", although he did mispronounce his last name.

I've always loved Dick Van Dyke. One of the greatest showbiz talents of the 20th century. Not too concerned about his political views, but thought I'd post this anyway.

The Kind Of Memo I Never Had To Write

This is the Mashable headline: Billion-dollar tech startup had to tell employees to stop having sex in inappropriate places
"Cigarettes, plastic cups filled with beer, and several used condoms were found in the stairwell," a Zenefits exec wrote in an email to staff obtained by The Journal. "Yes, you read that right. Do not use the stairwells to smoke, drink, eat, or have sex."

Plan B is to put a few garbage cans in the hallways. Plan C is to have everyone sign a waiver giving the company exclusive rights to whatever the new "hallway cams" record.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Help Me Help Caleb

I've previously written about my cousin's (nearly) 3-year-old son Caleb (shown here with his big brother) and his struggle with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer. The little guy has had a rough go of it, but we recently got some good news. The BTB Foundation, a wonderful organization that supports families fighting cancer, has chosen Caleb as one of the recipients of their big fundraising event this year--a golf outing and dinner on May 20. This is where I need your help. We are looking for donations of prizes for the silent auction, and golfers for the golf outing (White Pines in Bensenville). If you're interested/willing to help for either one, please drop me a line at I've been asked to be the champion for Caleb and his family, and I'd like to do whatever I can to help. I've already acquired a bunch of pretty good prizes (A Hawks & Cubs jersey--tickets to James Taylor & Jackson Browne) and recruited a few buddies to golf, but I need more help. Thanks in advance for your kindness.

Most Fun College in America

Business Insider just ranked the top 30 "Most Fun" colleges and universities in America. My Alma Mater (University of Illinois) is #1. Although, let's be honest. When you ask the question: "Who really knows FUN?", you generally don't answer: "Business Insider".

On the other was an awful lot of fun.

Judge Rules Against Red Light Camera Tickets in Chicago

This could be a huge story. A judge has ruled all of these camera-tickets in Chicago null and void.

I just got one of these the other day, and I didn't really question it until I saw this article. If they really did intentionally place these cameras at intersections that require left turns on yellow (no arrow), and then shortened the yellow lights, there's a very hot place with lots of fire awaiting them someday.

Sis Boom Bah

Classic television moment courtesy of Johnny Carson & Ed McMahon...


Thanks to GP for this one...

As the Sumner Turns

Regular readers of this blog know that I'm following the story of Sumner Redstone closely. The 90-something chairman of Viacom and CBS is in declining health, and the companies he ran with an iron fist are in a state of uncertainty. The same is true of his strange and tawdry personal life. The latest in this saga--from Tom Taylor's NOW column...

Things are getting ugly around Sumner Redstone-controlled Viacom. The influential ISS advisory service recommends that shareholders oppose the re-election of six directors (including Deborah Norville), because they approved a fat $17 million award to Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman. That’s from Bloomberg. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal says a doctor’s report about the mental condition of 92-year-old Sumner Redstone concludes that Sumner’s not competent to make decisions about his finances or personal health. That’s what his former live-in girlfriend Manuela Herzer’s claiming in her lawsuit, and Dr. Stephen Read did the exam on her behalf. His 37-page report to an L.A. judge isn’t favorable to Redstone. It’s not good for Dauman, either, because Philippe’s been Sumner’s intermediary to the rest of the world. He’s assured the court and others that Sumner knows what’s going on around him.

One Industry Loves the Candidates

You may be like me...not exactly crazy about any of the candidates running for president this time. Or you may be like radio...who LOVES them all.

They are spending a fortune on radio ads, with Ted Cruz leading the pack.

Radio Ink has a full breakdown.

All I can say is...thank God I don't live in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina. I'm sick of seeing the candidates. I can only imagine how much I would hate them if I had to listen to the number of radio spots this article says they are running.

A Tribune Coup

This is one of those "made for TV" moments. Tribune CEO Jack Griffin helped bring Michael Ferro (owner of the Sun Times) aboard the Tribune board in exchange for an influx of $44 million in cash. One of Ferro's first moves (19 days after joining) was getting Griffin fired. From today's Robert Feder column...

Media analyst Ken Doctor first reported the boardroom coup early Tuesday on Griffin only has himself to blame for his abrupt demise after he helped orchestrate Ferro’s ascent to power in exchange for a badly needed infusion of $44.4 million from Ferro’s Merrick Media. “This is almost Shakespearean,” Doctor quoted a source. “The CEO brings in a new shareholder as his ‘partner’ and his ally’s first move to kick him out. Act One is Romeo and Juliet and Act Two is Julius Caesar.”

Monday, February 22, 2016

RIP Ric Lippincott

Sad news just over the wire. From All Access...

Everyone at ALL ACCESS is deeply saddened to report the untimely passing of Radio and Music Industry veteran RIC LIPPINCOTT following an eight-month battle with Pancreatic Cancer. His family members RUDD, PAIGE, BRANDON, AJA, TERI, KYLE and others thank everyone for their support these many months. Memorial services will be announced soon.

Lippincott was a longtime executive at WLS Radio in Chicago. He leaves behind many friends in the Chicago broadcasting world.

Hopefully Not Baseball Related

Miracle on Ice

Big hockey anniversary today...

John Landecker wrote about that day in "Records Truly Is My Middle Name"...

After Bob Sirott left WLS, I was moved into his afternoon time slot. After doing radio for more than ten years, this was the first time in my career that I was ever given a drive-time shift. It was a little bit different than nights. For instance, during the night shift, big news stories rarely occurred. During the afternoon shift, they happened all the time. Probably the biggest story during my stint in the afternoon slot was the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

The 1980 Winter Olympics was on ABC. At the time, WLS was an ABC station, so we were privy to all the network feeds. There was usually no reason to use them for anything other than news and sports reports; we were still a music station. The jocks didn’t mess with the feeds at all.

But on the day that the U.S. was taking on the Russians, the game took place in the afternoon, and the television network announced it would be played via tape delay during their prime time coverage. I suddenly realized that I could carry the last few minutes of the game on the air. I had the feed.

But who would do this on a music station?

I would.

I rolled tape on the last four minutes. When it was over, I went on the air and said, “Alright, we’re going to play you the last few minutes of the USA-Russia hockey game. If you don’t wanna know the score or who won, turn your radio off... BUT I WOULDN’T BE PLAYING IT IF WE LOST!”

Chicago Is...

This is an awesome video from 1977. It was used to sell Chicago as a tourist destination...

Sandra Day O'Connor

This is kind of a duh to me, but I was still pleased to see retired Republican Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor make this point. From the Huffington Post...

Sandra Day O’Connor, the retired Supreme Court justice appointed by a Republican president, said on Wednesday that President Barack Obama should get to name the replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

O’Connor, in an interview with a Fox affiliate in Phoenix, disagreed with Republican arguments that the next president, and not Obama, should get to fill the high court vacancy.

O’Connor specifically said during the interview, “I think we need somebody there to do the job now and let’s get on with it.” She added, in reference to President Obama, “It’s an important position and one that we care about as a nation and as a people. And I wish the president well as he makes choices and goes down that line. It’s hard.”

The Pay is Hard to Beat

My weekend MC gig. Had a great time at the Green White Soccer Club Schlachtfest on Saturday night. They pay me in sausages. Pretty good deal, if you ask me.

Some Love for "Monkey in the Middle"

Thanks so much to Larz at Chicagoland Radio and Media for his nice mention of our new book "Monkey in the Middle" by Dobie Maxwell. He writes...
Comedian Dobie Maxwell has written his life story. Entitled "Monkey In The Middle," the book is being released next month by the Chicago-based Eckhartz Press. Pre-orders are now being taken, with the book expected to be shipped on March 14th. In addition to being a top Midwestern stand-up comic (nicknamed "Mr. Lucky"), Maxwell has also spent his fair share of time working in Chicago radio. For one year, December 2003 to December 2004, Maxwell was co-host of WLUP-FM/The Loop's morning show, working alongside Spike Manton and Bruce Wolf. A few years later, he became one of "Jerry's Kidders," heard weekly on Jerry Agar's radio shows on WLS-AM, and later WGN-AM. Maxwell also worked in radio in Lansing, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Reno, and Salt Lake City.

Around the Publishing World (February 22)

At Chicago Author Solutions (a division of Eckhartz Press), 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. Jay Leno's warmup guy
The celebrity-memoir is a popular category of book, but we've always been drawn to the memoir of people who worked with celebrities, but didn't really become a celebrity themselves. Read this piece for a great example of what we mean. Sounds like a fun book.

2. Should I enroll in KDP Select?
Just Publishing Advice gives you the pros and cons of KDP Select. We've had an author or two try it, but as soon as they did, they were no longer our authors. That's part of the deal.

3. The backstory and lasting impact of "The Jungle"
"The Jungle" is a classic, but this article in has all sorts of details about the backstory that you might not know. For instance, Upton Sinclair only lived in Chicago briefly while he wrote it.

4. RIP Harper Lee
One of the all-time great authors died this week. Her reputation might have been dimished slightly by the release of her "prequel" last year, but nothing can take away the lasting power and inspiration of her classic "To Kill a Mockingbird". It's simply one of the best novels ever written.

5. Self Publishing is About Breaking the Rules
Derek Haines at the Vandal points out something that all "traditional" authors should think about--there really aren't any rules in publishing anymore. The only rule is "try it and see if it works". He has a few good examples in this article.

6. The importance of keywords to ranking your book on amazon
There are some really great tips here. When you submit your book or e-book to amazon you have a few chances to submit keywords. Choosing those wisely is essential.

7. Eckhartz Press' Latest Release: Monkey in the Middle
Our publishing company (Eckhartz Press) has a new book available for pre-order. It's called "Monkey in the Middle and it's an incredible memoir. Comedian Dobie Maxwell tells the tale of how his life was affected by not one, but two bank robberies. Monkey in the Middle is hilarious, tragic, joyous, dark, and smart. In short, it’s just like the real life narrator of the story; Dobie Maxwell himself.

dobie cover 2

Getting in the Mood

Must. Remain. Calm.