Thursday, May 18, 2017

Truffle News

Just got this information from Eckhartz Press author Brent Petersen. He is the author "Truffle Hunt" and has been following truffle news closely now for several years.

Back in 2011, when I began writing "Truffle Hunt," the jumping off point was a "what if" question I asked myself. What if someone could create a synthetic truffle?

This wasn't a completely far-fetched idea, although I was criticized for it. Truffle experts told me it was impossible to create a fake truffle.
But, as a work of fiction, I felt free to create a world where man-made truffles are a reality. And, there was a precedent. I found, much to my horror, that most truffle oil contains no truffles at all. It is, in fact, a combination of chemicals that mimics the distinctive truffle scent. Ever since I stumbled on this information, I have been railing against the use of the truffle oil in restaurants and in packaged food products.

My feeling has always been that it is fine to have these products on the market, but there should be transparency in labeling so that consumers know what they are really getting. Charging a premium for a "truffle" product that doesn't contain truffles is misleading at best, and probably fraudulent.

Now it appears the legal system is catching up with this scam. Two class action lawsuits have been filed in recent weeks against the makers and sellers of truffle oil which allegedly contain no truffles. The first lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, alleges that Trader Joe's truffle oil does not contain "a single trace of truffle oil. The second lawsuit, filed in California, alleges that Urbani Truffle Co knowingly sold truffle oil that contained no truffles.

It will be interesting to see how these lawsuits progress because the law is like most other industries. It is a copycat business. If one of these lawsuits succeed, expect a lot more to follow.

In the meantime, take the advice I've been giving for six years, don't buy, order or consume so-called truffle oil.
Try the new Yahoo Mail

RIP Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell, the lead singer of Soundgarden is dead at 52 of an apparent suicide. Bummer.

This is one of my favorite songs...

Minutia Men, Episode 51

EP51 – Rick and Dave discuss snoring, a date gone wrong, a long overdue honor, a beer apology, every Cub ever starting with the letter L, and Rick’s brush with Michael Douglas.

Listen to it here.

Bringing America Together

If you were completely innocent of any charges, and the media really was unfairly picking on you, then wouldn't you welcome an independent prosecutor to look into the charges? Even if it irritated you, the fact that a highly respected former FBI director with bi-partisan support who was handpicked by your handpicked deputy attorney general, offered you the chance to graciously help put this whole thing to rest and begin healing this divided country.

A quote like: "I welcome the inquiry. We need to get to the bottom of Russia's involvement in our election so that we can prevent it from happening again in the future. I'm confident that the inquiry will also put to rest the rumors of collusion with my campaign. We are prepared to co-operate and provide investigators with any information they seek."

That's what he needed to say.

His staff actually got him to say something close to that. This is the original statement...

“As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” Trump said in the statement. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”

This is what he said this morning with no staff around...

This man can't be president.

Schwarber Breaks a Budweiser Sign

He didn't do it because he was mad.

He did it because the boy can hit the ball real, real hard.

Details at

Roger Ailes: Dead at 77

The former Fox News boss, the man who built the network before having to leave in disgrace in a barrage of sexual harrassment charges, has died at the age of 77.

TPM has the details.

This is going to end in a lawsuit

I wrote about this briefly yesterday, but the New York Daily News has more information about it today.

Have you heard the name Seth Rich? He was a DNC staffer who was murdered last year. It's a tragic story. I know one of his good friends and we talked about the case at length. At the time we talked, a few weeks after his murder, there were beginning to be rumblings from the nutbag conspiracy types on the right intimating the murder had been ordered by Hillary Clinton. My friend said Seth would have gotten a kick out of that--because he was a devoted Hillary supporter who privately mocked the nutjob right wing conspiracy types. He worked at the DNC for cryin' out loud.

Well since then, it has become less funny. Fox News, an alleged legitimate news channel, has been airing unsubstantiated stories about this on President Trump's two favorite shows--Fox & Friends and Hannity. Based on a very shady private investigator (who admits he has never seen Rich's computer or talked to the FBI about it), they now claim Rich is the source to Wikileaks and that's why he was murdered.

This is literally being pulled out of this P.I's ass...and the network is running with it. The FBI says they are not even involved in the investigation. It's considered a D.C. Police matter. There is nothing even remotely political about this entire story. It's a tragic murder.

Rich's family is asking for a retraction from Hannity and Fox & Friends. If they don't get it, they'll sue. The P.I has basically retracted his story already. This is an open and shut case if it goes to court. Those shows might want to ask Alex Jones (from Infowars) how it turns out when these fake news stories are debated in a court of law under oath.

Stop it with the hackery. Just stop. You are seriously ruining this country.

Will Lawrence O'Donnell Leave MSNBC?

According to this piece in TV Newser, his contract is up on June 4th and he is in the midst of a difficult renegotiation despite very high ratings.

It sounds like his boss wants to move Brian Williams up an hour and Lawrence is balking. Not sure why they would want to mess with their lineup right now. They are regularly beating Fox News and CNN these days after getting beaten like a drum by them for more than a decade.

Lunch with Trump

Today Donald Trump is having lunch with the enemy of the American people. The press. (Rimshot)

Seriously. He invited all of the network news anchors over to the White House to eat lunch with him.

Among the invitees: Scott Pelley (CBS), Fareed Zakaria, Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer (from CNN), Greta Van Sustern (MSNBC), and Brett Baier and Chris Wallace (Fox News).

If I were the CNN guys, I'd ask someone to taste their food for them before they eat. Once they are sure it's not poison, I double dog-dare one of them say: "This is fake food."

Must Have Been Super Hungry

This isn't a headline you see every day. From the Daily Beast: Woman Allegedly Stole $15,000 Worth of Girl Scout Cookies

“She has never paid for any of them and, anyone who has tried to contact her about them, has not been able to contact her,” Bartley said. "The case was a little confusing because she may have picked up cookies for other groups. The ones that she did pick up, at least for her own troop, were never sold by the troop. She picked up the cookies and never took them to them, so we don’t know what she did with them.”

Apparently Vick has multiple addresses, and now both her and the cookies could be anywhere. The state trooper is now trying to track down the cookie thief and the missing treats.

I picture her in a treehouse with chocolate all over her face. But then again, that may be why I'm not a police detective.

Benny Hill

Has some fun at the expense of Germans. (I'm allowed to post this)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Spicey Outtakes

Chicago Loses Tom Joyner

After four decades on the Chicago airwaves, Tom Joyner is no longer going to be on the air in Chicago. His current station (and home for the last eight years in Chicago), WSRB, is dropping his show.

Robert Feder has the details.

Mike & Mike Lose a Mike

This has been the longest decision making process I can remember, but ESPN finally has announced the fate of Mike & Mike. From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” morning show to become “Mike & Trey,” confirming recent speculation from Bristol, CT and specifically from Richard Dietsch at The second “Mike” – Mike Greenberg – should begin hosting a new morning show for the mother-ship ESPN cable channel show in January, says Dietsch. (He calls it “some kind of mix of ‘Morning Joe’ and ‘Good Morning America’ for sports.”) That leaves Mike Golic to pair with familiar ESPN face and voice Trey Wingo – with Mike Golic Jr. staying on after his own 4am-6am Eastern time show to visit with Trey and his dad during the 6am hour. The new Mike Golic/Trey Wingo show will run 6am-10am Eastern time, and the syndicator says it will “initially be simulcast on ESPN2 before moving to its permanent simulcast home on ESPNU.” ESPN Audio Senior VP Traug Keller calls this “the latest iteration of the sports morning show of record.” “Mike & Mike” will continue into “later this year,” before Trey takes the Greenberg seat.

Openly Gunning for Spicer's Job

This would be sad news for Melissa McCarthy, but it appears that Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle is openly lobbying for Sean Spicer's job.

The Washington Post has the story.

Is There A Big Story?

Depends on your point of view. Real newspapers and real television networks reported the blockbuster news about Comey's memo. And then there was Fox News...

The Clinton Foundation. This is a real news organization (so called) presenting this during prime time on a day when the current president of the United States was revealed trying to squash an FBI investigation.

Seriously, they were also spending time redredging up the Vince Foster story, because they are exploring a conspiracy theory that a DNC member who was killed in the fall was the actual source to Wikileaks, not the Russians, despite all 17 intelligence agencies saying it definitely was the Russians.

This is one of those stories that requires you to believe that a dedicated Hillary loyalist (and I know for a fact he was--I'm friends with his best friend) leaked to Wikileaks to damage the boss (for reasons unknown). So naturally Hillary responded the way she always does--she had him killed--just like she had Vince Foster killed twenty some years ago. Dear God. How does she have time after conducting that child sex ring in the Pizza restaurant basement (another story actually reported as news by the right wing press)

They absolutely know they are peddling bullshit, but it doesn't stop them from peddling. This is the definition of fake news, and it's the real reason that Trump's approval rate among Republicans remains around 80%.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

German Learning

With the news of the Brauhaus' impending closing, I'm reposting this piece I wrote back in 2012. Hope you enjoy it...

An out-of-town friend of ours was visiting not too long ago and asked me if I could take him to Chicago's German neighborhood. We went to the only German neighborhood that still looks like a German neighborhood (Lincoln Square), but we both realized that it's German-ness was hanging by a thread. In a few years it probably won't be German at all. (Photo: my sister and I hanging out in that neighborhood during Oktoberfest season)

This is a town that was built on the backs of its German immigrants. At one time, one out of every four Chicago residents was German. If you look around the city now, you'd never know it.

The last wave of German immigrants arrived in Chicago after the war in the late 40s, through the end of the 50s. I was born in 1963. People my age and slightly younger were the last generation of Germans in Chicago to be brought up by off-the-boat German immigrants. I don’t mean to make that sound as if we were brought up by wolves or something (more like Wolfgang’s), but it is a rather unique experience that is difficult to understand if you haven’t experienced it personally.

On the surface Germans seem to be a relatively humorless and harsh people; reticent to show emotion. This is a shameful stereotype. If you had entered any of our German homes back in the day, you would have seen happy bouncing children playing a game called “Hoppe Hoppe Reiter.” This is a cute game that recreates the thrill of riding a horse. A parent bounces the child on his or her knee while reciting a little German children’s poem. It doesn’t rhyme in English, but you can get the idea of its playfulness from the translation.

Bouncing, bouncing rider,
When you fall you scream,
Fall in a ditch,
You’ll get pecked (or eaten) by crows,
Fall in a swamp,
And you’ll....uh, oh, you’re falling now!
(Parent pretends to make child fall)

This is German learning, a type of learning that may no longer exist in Chicago. The lesson is clear: if you fall off your horse, something terrible will happen to you. It’s much more effective than saying: “Be Careful, Wolfgang.”

And people say Germans don’t have any emotions. Nonsense. Are you telling me that “terror” isn’t an emotion? We have that instilled in us at a very early age.

Would you like to read the German children's story of the boy who doesn’t trim his fingernails and then pokes his eyes out by mistake? No? Maybe I can interest you in the story about the boy who keeps his nose in the air when he walks outside and doesn’t see he is about to walk into a lake. This is valuable learning we’re talking about here: German-learning. Ask me how often I let my fingernails get too long. Never. How many times have I walked into lake because I wasn’t watching where I was walking? Not once.

What if the end of our German community brings an end to such common sense advice?

Let me give you another example of what we may have lost. My grandparents gave me a comic book called “Max und Moritz” when I was a very young boy. It was a heartwarming tale of two bad boys who snuck into a mill to play—-even though they were warned not to do it. You want a happy ending? There are no happy endings for boys who don’t behave. Max and Moritz were crushed to death, ground up into tiny little pieces, and eaten by ducks. That’s a lesson that stays with you a very long time. I’ve never stepped foot in a mill.

I could go on and on because there are hundreds of tales like this, each dispensing practical advice and life skills. The stories I’ve mentioned here just happen to be the ones that haunt me in my sleep. There are many others I managed to overcome. The one thing that German stories all have in common, however, is a moral. It’s usually some variation of “do what we say or something horrible will happen to you,” but at least there’s a message there.

What if that kind of mental toughness is being lost along with our German neighborhoods? It’s the sort of thing that I can’t think about for too long, because I get pretty emotional.

Oh no. See? It's already happening to me. I'm getting weak.

Quick! We need a new influx of Germans in Chicago before it's too late.

Hank Azaria on Men in Blazers

Love Hank. Love Men in Blazers. Love when they meet and create soccer/comedy magic.

David Brooks Skewers Trump

David Brooks is a Republican, but he's an old school Northern Country Club Republican. Still, I think he nails it when he analyzes our president...

At base, Trump is an infantalist. There are three tasks that most mature adults have sort of figured out by the time they hit 25. Trump has mastered none of them. Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif.

First, most adults have learned to sit still. But mentally, Trump is still a 7-year-old boy who is bouncing around the classroom. Trump’s answers in these interviews are not very long — 200 words at the high end — but he will typically flit through four or five topics before ending up with how unfair the press is to him.

Second, most people of drinking age have achieved some accurate sense of themselves, some internal criteria to measure their own merits and demerits. But Trump seems to need perpetual outside approval to stabilize his sense of self, so he is perpetually desperate for approval, telling heroic fabulist tales about himself.

Third, by adulthood most people can perceive how others are thinking. For example, they learn subtle arts such as false modesty so they won’t be perceived as obnoxious.

Great piece. Depressing, yes. But probably spot on.

The Eric & Kathy Saga

Robert Feder has a report this morning about the Eric and Kathy show. Sounds like it's possible the show may go on without Kathy, who has been off the air now for three weeks.

It also sounds like she would be welcomed back if she wanted to come back, based on these two quotes...

*“Kathy Hart, of Eric and Kathy fame, is taking some time off and we are looking forward to her return,” said Jeff England, vice president and market manager of Hubbard Radio Chicago.

*“I continue to wish her the best and hope we have some kind of understanding soon,” Ferguson, 50, said of his co-host. “I look forward to her return.”

It's no secret there has been tension there behind the scenes. As a veteran of tension-filled behind-the-scenes dramas, I have a pretty good idea how this is going to end.

(If you're interested, I've previously interviewed every person who was ever a major part of that show. Eric, Kathy, Melissa, Barry Keefe, Mark Suppelsa, Whip, and Swany.)

Most Concurrently Viewed News Story Ever

I don't know about you, but this news environment is exhausting me. Every day there is a huge breaking story of national or international consequence. Some days there are several. On a day when North Korea announced they had missiles that could reach the US, another story about our president nearly broke the Washington Post website. Fishbowl explains...

A Washington Post article published Monday afternoon broke a record for most concurrently viewed story, and, in a pleasant twist, the story is hard news, rather than a viral distraction. What is not pleasant is the content of the story, a report by Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe that says President Trump revealed classified information about an Islamic State terrorist plot to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a meeting last week.

Nearly half the country still only reads or watches news that comforts them, so lets see if this has any effect at all. Sounds like a pretty big story, right? Yet many conservative outlets simply portray this as another example of the mainstream media picking on Trump. (This story is an eye opener about how even the president gets his news that way: How Trump Gets His Fake News)

Okey doke.

If we're going to be honest, we also have to point out that the mainstream press must have a love/hate relationship with Trump. On the one hand, he's potentially causing real damage to this country and possibly the world. On the other hand, his crazy antics sure are creating legendary scoops and is making people consume news at a record pace, which in turn, lines the pockets of the mainstream media. This is a golden era for the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Notice that Donald doesn't call 'em the "Failing New York Times" anymore.

Ross is in the Finals

I have to admit that I can't watch it. I tried, but I just can't do it. So I check my twitter feed to see if he's still in there, and lo and behold...

Chicago Radio Ratings

From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

Chicago votes iHeart’s urban AC “V103” WVAZ #1 for the third straight month (6.0-5.6-5.6). The only daypart where it’s not #1 is mornings, where it’s fourth. Second overall is CBS Radio’s news WBBM/WCFS (5.4-5.4-4.9, tied for first in mornings). Third – as it frequently is – you’ve got Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX (4.9-4.8-4.8, and tied with ’BBM for the morning lead). There’s a fourth-place tie between Tribune’s talk WGN (4.2-4.2-3.9) and iHeart top 40 “Kiss” WKSC (3.9-4.2-3.9). WGN’s third in mornings and Kiss is third at night. Sixth place is also a tie, between CBS-owned rhythmic “B96” WBBM-FM (3.5-3.2-3.7) and sports “Score” WSCR (2.1-2.2-3.7). You can tell who’s got the World Champion Cubs, right? The Score is second at night, while Disney-owned/ESPN managed sports WMVP doesn’t move much (1.8-2.1-1.7). There’s a three-way tie further down – between CBS classic hits WJMK (3.1-2.7-2.7), Cumulus classic hits WLS-FM (2.8-2.9-2.7) and easy oldies WRME (2.8-2.7-2.7). WRME’s the audio of a channel 6 low power TV LMA’d by Weigel. The country race is between CBS-owned “US 99” WUSN (2.7-2.6-2.6) and iHeart’s “Big” WEBG (2.2-2.2-2.3). Both full-power regional Mexican stations see growth – Univision’s WOJO (2.8-2.9-3.3) and SBS’ “La Ley” WLEY-FM (1.9-1.9-2.3). While the WLIT-HD2/translator combo that iHeart does regional Mexican on edges up (0.2-0.4-0.5). Chicago’s leading cume station is CHR Kiss (2,248,800).

Monday, May 15, 2017

It's all in the pronunciation

One of my German relatives sent me this one. Made me chuckle...

Highest Rated SNL in 7 years

Mainly thanks to this...

Comey Willing To Testify

But only if it's done in public.

That gulping noise you just heard is coming from a certain big white house in Washington.

RIP Powers Boothe

Dead at the age of 68. Bummer.

I loved him in many roles, but his role on Deadwood was haunting and scary. NSFW clip, by the way. Incredibly NSFW.

The Ransomware Attack

This handy article helps you avoid the ransomware attack that spread around the world this weekend.

The attack did not affect any computers with Windows 10.

Cumulus Boss in Chicago

From Radio Online...

Cumulus Media promotes Alternative WKQX-FM Program Director Troy Hanson, who also serves as VP/Programming Rock formats, to the newly created post of VP/Operations for its four-station group in Chicago. Hanson, a 27-year programming vet, will continue to program WKQX and to oversee Rock formats for Cumulus. He joined the company in 2013 as Corporate Program Director, Rock Formats and as Program Director for WNNX-FM (Rock 100.5) in Atlanta. Prior to Cumulus, Hanson was Operations Manager for Cromwell Radio Group in Nashville.

Todd is God

That was the saying back in the day when Todd Rundgren was at his peak. He was always a musical visionary. His latest song is called "Man in the Tin Foil Hat" and see if you can guess who it's about. Written and performed with Donald Fagen.

The Hill has the story.

Landecker Nominated for Hall of Fame

It's about time! So happy to see this news. Not sure who else nominated him, but I did submit his name for consideration. From Robert Feder's column this morning...

John Records Landecker, an iconic Chicago radio personality since the 1970s, has been nominated for induction in the National Radio Hall of Fame. It’s his first time on the ballot for induction in the Chicago-based shrine to radio’s greatest performers and programs. Landecker, 70, is one of four nominees (and the only Chicagoan) in the Longstanding Local/Regional category. A total of 24 nominees in six categories were announced Monday. (A complete list is at Online public voting in two categories — Music Format On-Air Personality and Spoken Word On-Air Personality — will begin June 5. The rest will be chosen by a panel of industry professionals. Winners will be announced June 26. Induction ceremony will be November 2 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

(Chicago Tribune photo taken while we were promoting the book "Records Truly Is My Middle Name")

JRL in Hillside

This Sunday morning from nine to noon I'm going to be in Hillside with John Records Landecker. He's appearing at the Chicagoland Record Collector's Mart to sign and sell copies of "Records Truly Is My Middle Name".

This is always a dangerous place for me to go. I was there a few months ago for an appearance with Bobby Skafish and left with a bunch of records. I can't help myself. There are so many records there...

This time there will be one more. John Records.

Come on out! Details are here.

Mother's Day

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day. I spent mine in the same place I do every year...on the soccer field. :)

The night before we all went over to my Mom's house. I was supposed to bring over some meat to my mom's and grill it as her mother's day present (her request), but when I called to ask her what she wanted, she told me that she had already made a dozen schnitzels and a tray full of rouladen.That's so Hildegard. (Photo from wedding day in 1962)