Friday, June 02, 2017

If the President can do it... can I.

No blogging today. I'm conducting business.

I am technically the president and co-publisher of Eckhartz Press. The other guys I'm golfing with could be heads of state. You'll never know. There's a media blackout.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Nigeria, Hello

In my instant messenger box this morning, a note from Nigeria...

Good morning sir,actually I see it as an honour and privelege coming in touch with you sir,on the platform,although sir,I read about you,while looking for great authors in my career of which the books,could make a great impact in my life & generally,in the practice of the profession. I am ige olalekan by name, student "nigerian institute of public relations" but now building career in broadcasting of which based on my passion for content development,I came across the name of your book"The radio producer's handbook" of which based on your wealth of experience will go a long way to improve my skills, & have in positive impact in terms of broad thinking, exposure & viewing things from the perspective of a professional.

That's not the sort of message I receive every day, needless to say.

Minutia Men, Episode 53

EP53 – Rick and Dave discuss fasting, 20th century comedy gems from Dave, another crazy story from Florida, Every Cub Ever with the letter U, and Rick’s brush with actor William Petersen.

Listen to it here.

Bonus Father Knows Nothing: The Emergency Room

My fifth book "Father Knows Nothing" has become a bit of a seasonal choice. When Father's Day rolls around, we know to be stocked up on books. This year I thought I'd feature a few of the outtakes from the book. I wrote the column for nine years, so there are lots of them that didn't make the final copy of the book, including a few of my favorites.

This one goes back to 2006. It was the second Father Knows Nothing column ever.

I always thought Emergency Rooms were supposed to be scary. They certainly seemed scary to me when I was a kid. We used to go there as a family to wait for my little brother while he was being stitched up every month or so. The waiting room was uncomfortable. Sick and injured people moaned in pain and dripped blood on the floor. Nurses and doctors came running in and out. Monitors beeped. Ambulance alarms whirred. And everyone waited for hours.

That’s what I was expecting the first time I accompanied Tommy to the Emergency Room to get stitches. He was eight years old at the time and had a very deep cut in his chin. I tried to prepare him emotionally for the whole Emergency Room experience, but he looked at me like I was crazy. He had been there a few times before with his mother and wasn’t concerned in the slightest. I gave him a comforting hug.

“You are so brave,” I said. “I’m so proud of you.”

He actually rolled his eyes. That choked me up. This kid was like one of those cowboys in the old time Westerns. His eyes were saying…“It’s just a flesh wound, Hoss; let me dig out the bullet in peace. Now go out there and keep them rustlers away from our herd.”

He was still nonchalant when we walked into the Emergency Room and awaited our turn with the triage nurse. He made small talk with her, wincing only slightly when she looked at the gash on his chin.

“Does it hurt?” she asked.

“A little,” he said.

“A little?” I thought to myself. “That thing is going to need ten stitches.”

“It’s a pretty big cut,” she said, “but we’ll take care of it for you.”

“Are we going back there?” he asked, pointing to the door behind her.

She nodded.

Uh oh, I thought. Here it comes. Now he’s going to remember what happens behind those doors; the needles, the prodding, the pain. I prepared for the hysterical reaction. I saw how he behaved when some small thing went wrong, like his macaroni touching the vegetables on his dinner plate, and could only imagine what was coming. I hunkered down for the fit of all fits.

“Follow me,” she said.

We followed her through the door to the kid’s section of the Emergency Room. Suffice it to say, it has changed a little over the past thirty years. The colorful walls were painted with cartoon fish. The gigantic fish tank contained a rainbow of tropical fish worthy of the Shedd Aquarium. It was like walking onto the set of “Finding Nemo.”

When they opened the curtain to his room, he was actually excited. He jumped onto the bed, pressed the buttons to raise it to the level he preferred, adjusted the television to the proper angle, and began changing channels. While the nurse put the numbing agent on his chin, he was watching a Tom & Jerry cartoon on the Cartoon Network.

“Do you have any video games?” he asked.

I was about to chastise him for his prima-donna demands when the nurse surprised me.

“Sure,” she said. “What kind of video games do you like?”

“Do you have Super Mario Brothers?” he asked.

“I’ll go get it,” she said, and walked out of the room before I could even utter a response. My boy looked up at me and smiled.

“Dad,” he said, “You’re gonna love this one.”

I’ll admit it. I found myself watching him progress through the levels of the video game instead of watching the doctor stitch up his chin. When the stitching was done, the doctor told us it was OK to leave.

“After this next level,” Tommy said.

She smiled and said, “I’m sorry, but we need the bed.”

My son started to get upset, so I put my hand on his shoulder to comfort him.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “I’m sure you’ll injure yourself again. We’ll be back.”

“You promise, Dad?” he asked.

“I promise,” I said.

Father Knows Nothing makes a perfect Father's Day gift, particularly for new dads, or fathers of boys. You can order the hard copy here at Eckhartz Press for only $10, and the e-book here at

Larz Signs Off

After 12 years of covering the local Chicago media scene, Chicagoland Radio & Media moderator Larz is pulling the plug on his website.

This is his farewell note to his readers.

There was a time when I read that site daily because he always stayed on top of the local media news. His absence leaves a big hole in the local coverage.

Larz was always kind to me. He posted all of my media interviews on his site. He reviewed all of the media books released by Eckhartz Press, and he gave a wonderful review to my first novel "$everance".

I sent him a note this morning wishing him the best. That site will be missed by the dwindling number of media geeks like me.

The Daily Show Tackles Covfefe

Ryan Arnold

My latest Illinois Entertainer article is out.

This month I interviewed WXRT night jock Ryan Arnold...a man that was destined to work at WXRT.

Read it here.

Wonder Woman Banned in Lebanon

The government banned the movie because the star is Israeli, and had served in the military, and because Lebanon is at war with Israel.

On the other hand, she has an invisible plane. And that awesome golden lasso.

My money's on Wonder Woman.

Kathy Griffin Steps In It

One measly photo shoot with a severed Donald Trump head, and whammo. She's been fired by CNN and lost her endorsement deal with Squatty Potty.

That seems to be an appropriate move, if you ask me. What on earth was she thinking?

Cable News Ratings

With as powerful as Fox News was just a year ago, and how weak MSNBC was, it's hard to believe it's come to this.

For the May 2017 Ratings Sweep, MSNBC has beaten both Fox News and CNN. That's the first time since September 2000.

That's also a ratings increase of 105% over this time last year. The Apprentice may no longer be on the air, but Donald Trump is still making money for NBC.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bonus Father Knows Nothing: My Un-impressible Family

My fifth book "Father Knows Nothing" has become a bit of a seasonal choice. When Father's Day rolls around, we know to be stocked up on books. This year I thought I'd feature a few of the outtakes from the book. I wrote the column for nine years, so there are lots of them that didn't make the final copy of the book, including a few of my favorites.

This one goes back to 2011, right after my novel "The Living Wills" came out.

My kids never tire of hearing stories about my childhood, but there is one thing they will never ask me about under any circumstances.

My career.

They just don't care. I can understand that on a certain level. My own father was an engineer, and I remember that after I discovered he wasn't a train engineer...he was just a civil engineer...his job didn't interest me in the slightest. Even when I attended a school that he had personally designed (Heidelberg American Middle School), I wasn't impressed. I remember telling him: "The hallways are a little confusing."

So, I suppose it's only fair that my own kids are similarly unimpressed with my career. When they were little, I worked in radio. My two oldest sons Tommy and Johnny were even featured on the show quite a bit. But I remember their reaction one time when a stranger was impressed by meeting them because he had heard them talking on the radio.

They thought the guy was nuts.

When this fan asked Tommy what it was like hanging out with a famous disc jockey like John Records Landecker, he just shrugged his shoulders. So did Johnny. To them, John was just one of Dad's friends. No big deal. And being on the radio was also no big deal. It's just a bunch of people sitting in a room with microphones.

When my first book came out, I gave an autographed copy to my oldest son. He put it in the closet. When my first novel came out two years later, I gave copies to all three boys. Two of them have no idea where their copies are now. When my most recent novel came out, none of the boys wanted a copy. None of them even asked me what it's about.

But when that book came out, I did something that I thought might actually interest them: I was interviewed by WGN Television.

I mentioned it to the boys at breakfast that morning as I put on my suit.

"Is it going to be on the Internet?" Sean asked.

"I'm not sure," I said. "I hope so. If not, I can probably post it on YouTube."

"Do you know how to do that?" Tommy asked.

"No. Do you?"

He just shook his head and continued eating his waffles. No follow up questions. Not the slightest bit of interest. After they came home from school I asked them if they wanted to watch the interview. All three of them said no. Bridget, to her credit, actually did want to see it when she came home from work. I even heard her guilting the boys into watching it too. Only two of them were moved by her techniques; Tommy and Sean. Johnny still didn't care. He stayed in his room reading Captain Underpants.

The rest of us watched the segment together. After it was over, Tommy said: "That's it?"

"Yup," I replied.

Sean didn't say a word, he just walked away. Bridget said: "That was pretty good, but..."


"You were a little slouchy."


I must say, there's very little chance of getting a big head in this household. I suppose that's probably for the best. But I also have a pretty good idea now how my Dad felt when I told him the hallways in his school were a little confusing.

Father Knows Nothing makes a perfect Father's Day gift, particularly for new dads, or fathers of boys. You can order the hard copy here at Eckhartz Press for only $10, and the e-book here at

Someone Fell Asleep While Tweeting Last Night

Guess who?

The tweet is here.

It's getting ripped mercilessly on Twitter today.

Scott Pelley Out As CBS Anchor

This had been rumored for awhile because of his low ratings, but Scott Pelley has officially been removed as the nightly anchor of CBS News.

The New York Post has the details. According to them, his office was cleared out while he was on assignment for 60 Minutes yesterday.

Ah, the media business. Not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Literary Takedown

I've seen quite a few pieces that take down the president, but this is without question, the sharpest. It's written for Literary Hub by Rebeccah Solnit, and her literary knife cuts deep...

The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image, and like Dorian Gray before him, will be devoured by his own corrosion in due time too. One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him. One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall. Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man.

Yowza. That's gonna leave a mark.

Bonus Father Knows Nothing Column: The Tooth Fairy

My fifth book "Father Knows Nothing" has become a bit of a seasonal choice. When Father's Day rolls around, we know to be stocked up on books. This year I thought I'd feature a few of the outtakes from the book. I wrote the column for nine years, so there are lots of them that didn't make the final copy of the book, including a few of my favorites.

This one goes back to 2007. My youngest son Sean was five years old at the time...

Sean had been harboring some suspicions about whether or not the tooth fairy really existed.

“Dad,” he said, totally seriously, “I noticed that your pile of gold dollars is gone. What happened to it?”

“We spent them all,” I said, truthfully.

“So, we have ZERO gold dollars in this house right now?”

“That’s right.”

“And the banks are closed, right?”


“Well,” he said, exposing his smile, and pointing to the new hole where a tooth had just come out, “I guess we’re finally going to find out the truth tonight.”

“The truth about what?” I asked.

“The tooth fairy.”


“Well,” he reasoned, “Every other time the tooth fairy has come, there was a pile of gold dollars in the kitchen. How could I know for sure if it was really the tooth fairy leaving me a gold dollar, or if it was YOU!”

He pointed as he accused.

“Me? What am I going to do with a used tooth?”

“I don’t know,” he said, his finger still pointing. “But I’ve got my eye on you. Now that I know you don’t have any gold dollars in the house, and that the bank is closed so you can’t get any more, I’ll know. If I wake up in the morning and a gold dollar is there, the tooth fairy is real. I’ll let my friends know. We’ve been talking about it at school.”

“Sounds like a plan,” I said.

The next morning he came to the breakfast table with his toothless grin. “Dad,” he said. “I want you to swear on the Bible that you didn’t go to the bank last night and get some more gold dollars.”

“I swear,” I answered truthfully. “The bank was closed.”

“Then we have our answer,” he said. “The tooth fairy is real.”

When his big brothers rolled their eyes, he pounced. “It’s true! There’s no way Mom or Dad could have gotten a gold coin under my pillow because they don’t even have gold coins in the house right now. There’s no question about it. The tooth fairy is real. Right, Dad?”

“Sounds like you’ve got some pretty airtight evidence there,” I said.

Sean looked me right in the eye. “You know, Dad, I’m going to tell my friends that this is true now. Is there anything else you’d like to say to me before I go to school? One last chance?”

It took all of my earthly restraint not to smile. He was letting me know in no uncertain terms that his credibility was at stake here, and he’d never forgive me if I led him astray.
What would you have done?

I just smiled, patted him on the head, and walked away.

Father Knows Nothing makes a perfect Father's Day gift, particularly for new dads, or fathers of boys. You can order the hard copy here at Eckhartz Press for only $10, and the e-book here at

Biondi on the Mend

Robert Feder posted this piece over the weekend about Dick Biondi. Dick has been notably absent from the airwaves of WLS-FM for the past few weeks, and his fans are concerned about him.

He released a statement saying that he is on the mend and itching to get back to work.

Read the article here.

(Photo: Dick and I on the air together back in 2014 on an episode of "Lossano And Friends")

RIP Frank Deford

He was one of the great sportswriters of his generation, but he was much more than that. Frank Deford also provided more than a thousand commentaries to NPR. He passed away this weekend at the age of 79. NPR eulogized him yesterday...
And so what began as a brief gig in 1980 became a deep and lasting relationship with NPR's listeners. Each week, he would voice opinions both creative and controversial, references to Shakespeare and scathing takedowns — not just of commissioners but even occasionally entire sports, as some ice hockey and soccer fans may still remind you.

His body of work on NPR — as well as in Sports Illustrated, HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and 20 books of his own — earned him not just listeners' loyalty but his profession's and the nation's highest honors, too: an induction into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame in 1998, and a National Humanities Medal in 2013.

He was the first sportswriter to win that medal.

"A dedicated writer and storyteller, Mr. Deford has offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love," President Barack Obama said of Deford in a statement at the time.

RIP Greg Allman

RIP Greg Allman. If he can make it 69 years after all he did to himself, I'm feeling much better about my chances...

My weekend

I spent the weekend like I do most weekends...on the soccer field. Congrats to the boys on my team, the U15 boys who won their tournament this weekend. It's been a tough season so far for the boys, but this was nice. In a few weeks, we're taking the boys to Germany and Holland to play in a series of friendly games. Can't wait.