Friday, July 13, 2018

Go Green White!

National Champs!

Restoring America's Reputation

Yup, people around the world really respect us now...

John Roberts Defends NBC & CNN

President Trump insulted CNN and NBC during a news conference in England today, refusing to take questions from them. He called them dishonest and fake, before calling on John Roberts of Fox News, which he said was a real network. In an incredibly rare moment of fairness on Fox News, Roberts later defended his competitors...

World Cup Ratings

How many people in England watched the World Cup game on Wednesday?

75% of the country.

Restoring America's Reputation

These people in England are not there to cheer the President...

Netflix Ends HBO's Streak

The Emmy Nominees were released yesterday and for the first time in 17 years, HBO did not have the most Emmy nominations. Netflix is the new king.

Adweek has the details.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Book Signing on Sunday

Come on out and say hi! I will be there...

Food for thought

Go Green White!

Our U18 girls team is playing in the National finals of the President's Cup. Go Girls!

Papa John Steps Down After Using the N-Word

What was the context you ask? Does it really matter? No, but it was used at work...during a conference call...and that is even worse.

NPR has the details.

Even Papa John realized once this news got out that he better step down. He did. Hopefully we'll never have to see his horrible acting again. (Left: Actual photo of Papa John)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

World Cup

After Germany was eliminated, I was rooting for England.

So bummed they lost the game today.

Such an empty feeling knowing that it's another four years before your next chance.

(Photo: That's me and my Free Kicks podcast co-host Adam Howarth--a native of England)

NATO fun

Weirdest Way to Lose a Game

New Tom Petty

A new Tom Petty boxed-set is coming out, and features this new song, "Keep a Little Soul". Miss him. He was a great talent.

Chicago Radio Ratings

From Tom Taylor's NOW column...

Chicago is again a case of a clear leader (iHeart’s urban AC “V103” WVAZ, 6.1-5.9-6.0) and then some distance to the next clutch of stations. New #2 is Hubbard’s hot AC “Mix” WTMX (5.0-4.7-4.9), just a millimeter ahead of tied-for-third sister classic rock “Drive” WDRV (4.6-4.8-4.8) and Entercom’s news WBBM/WCFS (4.9-4.9-4.8). Holding fifth but cooling off is Univision’s regional Mexican WOJO (5.0-4.6-4.3). Not cooling is Cumulus classic hits WLS-FM (3.8-4.3-4.2) – which benefits from last Fall’s disappearance of classic hits WJMK. That station is now Entercom’s classic hip-hop/throwbacks “104.3 Jams” WBMX (3.5-3.4-3.6). Chris Huff says “Largest month for Entercom’s adult alternative WXRT since November 2013” (3.3-3.5-3.7). Just below Jams, tied for ninth, are iHeart CHR “Kiss” WKSC (3.3-3.6-3.5), sister AC WLIT (3.3-3.4-3.5) and Entercom’s country “US99” WUSN (3.5-3.3-3.5). Also tied in ninth place is Entercom’s sports “Score” WSCR (3.2-3.6-3.5, and second at night with the Cubs). Checking dayparts, V103 leads everywhere except mornings, where it’s third. Mix repeats at #1 with “Eric in the Morning with Melissa & Whip.” The Drive is second middays and weekends, and WBBM/WCFS place #2 in mornings. “Jams” WBMX has opportunities, because it’s fourth at night, but tied for eighteenth in mornings. Here’s the latest topline for dangling-between-Tribune-and-Sinclair talk WGN - 2.0-2.2-2.4. Morning talent Steve Cochran’s up from twelfth to sixth. Chicago’s cume leader is CHR Kiss, at just over 1.9 million.

From Robert Feder's column, the top 30 stations in Chicago from 6am--Midnight, ages 6+

1. WVAZ 102.7-FM urban adult contemporary, 6.0 (5.9)
2. WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 4.9 (4.7)
3. (tie) WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM all news, 4.8 (4.9); WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 4.8 (4.8)
5. WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 4.3 (4.6)
6. WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 4.2 (4.3)
7. WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 3.7 (3.5)
8. WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip hop, 3.6 (3.4)
9. (tie) WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 3.5 (3.6); WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 3.5 (3.4); WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 3.5 (3.6); WUSN 99.5-FM country, 3.5 (3.3)
13. (tie) WGCI 107.5-FM urban contemporary, 3.3 (3.1); WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 3.3 (3.5)
15. (tie) WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 3.0 (3.1); WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 3.0 (2.7)
17. WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 2.9 (2.4)
18. WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 2.7 (2.5)
19. WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 2.6 (2.6)
20. WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 2.5 (2.8)
21. WGN 720-AM news talk, 2.4 (2.2)
22. WPWX 92.3-FM urban contemporary, 2.1 (2.1)
23. WEBG 95.5-FM country, 1.9 (1.8)
24. WCKL 97.9-FM contemporary Christian, 1.6 (1.5)
25. WLS 890-AM news talk, 1.5 (1.7)
26. (tie) WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 1.3 (1.3); WVIV 93.5-FM Spanish contemporary, 1.3 (1.2)
28. WERV 95.9-FM classic hits, 1.1 (1.0)
29. WFMT 98.7-FM classical, 1.0 (0.9)
30. (tie) WMBI 90.1-FM Christian ministry, 0.9 (0.9); WSRB 106.3-FM urban adult contemporary, 0.9 (0.7)

Worst Case Scenario

This Jonathan Chait piece in the New Yorker is worth a read. He goes over all the public information we know about Russia's involvement in our election and with Trump in particular.

First of all, it's great to have this all in one narrative. Secondly, after you read it (it's lengthy), you cannot possibly believe the old "no collusion" chant. And finally, when you realize that Bob Mueller has much more that we don't publicly know yet, it's very possible that we could be facing a worst-case-scenario.

What will happen if Trump really did work with our adversary to steal an election?

There's a word for that, and it's not collusion. It starts with a T.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Restoring Respect in America

When the president claims he has restored the world's respect of America, you must know that he has done exactly the opposite. Here's another glimpse into England's point of view from The Hill...

The 2004 Green Day hit song “American Idiot” is climbing the charts in the United Kingdom ahead of President Trump’s visit there later this week. HuffPost reported Monday that the song is the No. 1 single on Amazon’s list of best-selling songs in Britain. A Twitter account created to increase the song's popularity ahead of Trump’s visit indicated over the weekend that the track was a top-10 seller on iTunes, as well.

Strange Lies

We all know now that the president lies a lot, and he lies about important things. But to me, the weirdness has always involved his needless lies about small matters. Imagine you are listening to him tell his rabid audiences a story about you...that he completely made up. Jimmy Kimmel recently had that experience, and I love his reaction...


Great point here...

YouTube to Fight Fake News

According to this piece in Variety, YouTube has agreed to spend $25 million to support traditional news organizations, and to differentiate them from the Fake News that dominated YouTube during the 2016 election, and the conspiracy theories that have flourished there ever since...

YouTube’s role in promoting conspiracy theories has flared up in recent months. In February, for example, a YouTube video suggesting that one of the high-school students who survived the mass killing in Parkland, Fla., David Hogg, was an actor hired by gun-control advocates briefly became YouTube’s No. 1 trending video. YouTube removed the clip within a few hours, citing violation of its policy on harassment and bullying.

In the wake of such incidents, Google and YouTube have since seen the need to take more proactive steps to support news on YouTube as well as educate users about spotting fake news. YouTube executives Neal Mohan, chief product officer and Robert Kyncl, chief business officer, outlined the new measures in a blog post Monday.

YouTube said it will provide funding in about 20 global markets to support news organizations in “building sustainable video operations.” The grants will let new orgs build out video capabilities, train staff on video best practices, and enhance production facilities. YouTube says it also will expand its team focused on supporting news publishers.

Amen. This is a good start.

Q&A with "1001 Train Rides in Chicago" author Richard Reeder

The book "1001 Train Rides in Chicago" by Richard Reeder comes out this week on Eckhartz Press. What is it about?

Nearly a century has passed since Ben Hecht wrote the last of his 1001 Afternoon in Chicago columns for the Chicago Daily News in the early 1920s. Now in 2018, Richard Reeder pays literary homage to Hecht in 1001 Train Rides in Chicago, sixty-four short fiction vignettes of ordinary people who ride the eight rail lines of the CTA. Reeder creatively weaves a written social tapestry of contemporary Chicago depicting its heterogeneous population and diverse neighborhoods. Leonid Osseny’s illustrations add a striking impressionistic dimension to the book.

We recently caught up with Reeder to talk to him about the book...

EP: I gather from the title of the book that you are a big fan of Ben Hecht. Is that true, and did that inspire more than just the title of this book?

Richard: Yes I am a great admirer of Hecht in so many aspects of his life. His short, crisp and clean writing style, with just the right touch of irony, has had a significant impact on my own writing. Hecht remains a hero of mine for his efforts to rescue Jews from Europe during the Holocaust. This book is an homage to him.

EP: In the introduction you detail your own life long relationship with the Chicago elevated train system. Which color lines are you most familiar with, and which ones required the most research?

Richard: I have been a rider of mostly the Red, Brown, Green, Yellow and Purple lines. I had to do the most research on the Blue, Orange and Pink lines.

EP: You made a really interesting choice about how to profile the people who ride these train lines. Why did you make that choice, and what are the advantages of doing so?

Richard: I wanted to take a snapshot of these people as they were going to or coming from specific places in the course of the day. I hope that these short pieces will allow my readers to emotionally connect with these riders My selections of people profiled in these stories reflect the diversity of the city.

EP: To us, this book is nothing less than a socio-economic profile of Chicago itself. How do you know so much about so many different types of people from such a diverse socio-economic spectrum?

Richard: I have been fortunate that my very interesting and multifaceted career of fifty plus years has allowed me to interact with folks of all races and from many cultural and socio-economic groups. Not only as clients and colleagues, but as friends as well.

EP: Who do you consider to be the audience for this book?

Richard: Although my primary audience will be adults, I would like to see my book used as a learning resource in high schools.

EP: You have a book launch party coming this week. Tell us about that.

Richard: The book launch party is this coming Sunday, July 15, at the Ice House Gallery, a cool art space in Evanston at 609 South Boulevard, just steps from the South Boulevard Purple Line stop. Try to stop by and say hello, and maybe even buy a book.

Monday, July 09, 2018

World Cup Fever

Q&A with "The Scar Dance" author William Mansfield

The Scar Dance is now available for pre-order on Eckhartz Press. What is it about? The old saying, “no good deed goes unpunished” was never more true than on a summer day in 2013. While doing a favor for her neighbors, Kelly was savagely mauled by their two huge bull mastiffs and a labrador. "The Scar Dance" is about the incredible journey she and her husband went on during her recovery.

We recently had a chance to sit down with the book's author William Mansfield to find out more...

EP: Before writing this book you were primarily a visual artist. Non-artists think these are related fields, and in a small way they are, but there are also significant differences. Talk about how your visual work prepared you to write this, and how it didn't prepare you at all.

William: My visual art did not really prepare me to write "The Scar Dance", because it is much different from my writing. For years I focused on gritty urban/industrial landscapes as my main subject matter, which were not very personal, but rather were objective observations of my environment. My transition to becoming a writer began when my parents passed away. I did a memorial series of drawings for them titled "A Eulogy in Pictures." This was a series of five drawings of their house and yard, which was a beautiful property in Bloomington, Indiana. The drawings were accompanied by text which told stories about my parents and described the meaning of each scene I depicted. This was my first attempt at writing. This series was an important transition between being an artist and becoming a writer. The website link is "The Scar Dance" is much more personal than any of my visual art, opening a window into my relationship with Kelly as we attempt to process a traumatic experience and move on with our lives.

EP: Authors are taught to learn the elevator pitch. That is, how would you describe this story line to someone if you met them in an elevator, and only had a few moments to explain it?

William: The old saying "no good deed goes unpunished" was never more true than on a summer day in 2013. While doing a favor for her neighbors, Kelly was savagely mauled by their two huge bull mastiffs and a labrador. Luckily their fangs missed her major arteries but left her severely injured and scarred. Kelly's subsequent long road to recovery is littered with court battles, emergency calls, harassment and profound self-doubt. "The Scar Dance" is a story where love proves to be stronger than hate, where courage is stronger than fear, where truth is stronger than lies, and ultimately where good is stronger than evil.

EP: This book was obviously inspired by a true story, but you made the conscious decision to turn it into a novel. Did that make it easier or more difficult and why?

William: I did not make a conscious decision to turn my memoir into a novel. Rather it simply evolved that way as I wrote it. This made it easier for me because it allowed me to view the story as an abstraction, separated from the hard realities of the real life situation, many of which were still in play as I was writing the book. I wrote in the novel that at times I did not feel like I was actually living the story, but rather that a book or movie character who looked like me was playing my role. In particular I found it fascinating to watch Kelly develop as a character. As the book evolved she became her own separate entity. Of course Kelly's book character is based on her real life character, but she became her own presence distinct from the flesh and blood Kelly who I am married to. The same is true of other characters in the story as well.

EP: You and your wife are long-time Chicago residents. "The Scar Dance" takes place in Chicago. What neighborhoods and locations might the readers recognize?

William: When I first began writing "The Scar Dance" I thought that the setting did not matter. After all you could have vicous dogs and horrible dog owners anywhere. There is nothing specific to Chicago about that. Yet the more the story developed the more Chicago as a setting became part of the story, in particular the Humboldt Park neighborhood. We lived in Humboldt Park for 14 years, and we lived there when the dog attack happened. The heart of the action takes place in Humboldt Park, and the neighborhood became a character in its own right, which is something I never intended when I began writing the book. Some readers may also recognize the courthouse downtown near the River North art gallery district, which is where our legal case takes place. Another important setting is a condo owned by friends, where we lived for a month while we were closing the sale on our new house. It features a fourth floor rooftop deck with a beautiful view all the way to downtown. Our new neighborhood is not named because we do not want the dog owners to know where we live, although it may seem familiar to some readers based on my descriptions.

EP: Dog lovers might be scared off by the subject matter--but you are clearly, despite the trauma involved here--you are still clearly a dog lover yourself. What have you learned about dogs and what makes them dangerous in city settings like this?

William: Kelly and I are both dog lovers, and that did not change after the attack. We own three dogs, small terrier mixes, and Kelly likes nothing better than to cuddle up on the couch with them while watching TV or a movie. We also love to take them hiking and camping with us. While dogs can be dangerous in a rural or suburban setting, they are particularly dangerous in an urban setting because of the higher number of targets. Also there is more stimulation in an urban setting which could make a dog agitated or aggressive. We discovered a website called which advocates for dog attack victims nationwide. Through this organization we learned that there is a major nationwide problem of dangerous dogs owned by irresponsible and/or dangerous people. Initially we thought that the attack on Kelly was an isolated, horrible, freakish incident, but through we learned that this was not the case. Many people across the country have been killed or seriously injured by dangerous dogs, and quite often the blame lies with irresponsible dog owners. We have always understood that the dogs are not to blame for the attack. They were victims of human abuse, neglect, and mismanagement from the time they were puppies. They were vicious monsters, but they were monsters that human beings created.

EP: When you speak to authors as often as I do you hear a few common themes. Among them--the ways in which this final product turned out much different than they initially envisioned. How is that true of your work?

William: "The Scar Dance" turned out to be a vastly different product than I initially envisioned. At first it was not a book at all, but rather a series of journal entries with no organization whatsoever, just writing about what was on my mind on that particular day. Gradually I began to organize these into a coherent manuscript. When I first began writing we were in the midst of our legal case with the dog owners, and our attorney advised me not to write anything on electronic media because it could be admissible in court. The first drafts were written on good old fashioned pen and paper. I find it appropriate to the story that to being writing it I had to go off the grid. Writing this book proved to be a fascinating process because it is so subconscious. There are several themes which developed that I never consciously planned on, but which grew spontaneously through the process of writing. I took a great writing class called "Memoir in a Year," and the teacher and fellow students were the first people to read this book. One thing I found striking about their responses is that they all wanted to learn more about Kelly. They were not interested in some anonymous woman who got bit by dogs. They really wanted to know who Kelly was. I began to focus on developing Kelly as a character, both as an individual and in her relationship with me, and I came to the realization that in a strange and twisted way I was writing a love story. It is about a couple working together to overcome a terrible trauma and survive in a dangerous situation. I never thought of this as a love story when I began writing. As the story developed it took on a life of its own. I came to feel that I was not writing the book, but rather that the book was writing me.

EP: Who do you think is the perfect audience for this book?

William: I think the perfect audience for this book is trauma victims. Of course dog attack victims will be interested, but it does not necessarily have to do with dogs. Many people who have had a traumatic experience or suffered from PTSD will be able to identify with Kelly. They will be inspired by Kelly's courage and can understand her struggles in processing this terrible experience and rebuilding her life. People who have experienced legal injustice may also be able to identify with this story. "The Scar Dance" is a book about a traumatic experience written not by the victim, but rather the supportive partner of the victim. Many people will also be able to identify with me as the supportive partner, and will appreciate the unique challenges that come with that role.

Look Who is Going to Live Longer

All Star Cubs

All three richly deserve it. I still think Rizzo should be an automatic choice every year too...

Ebony & Ivory

Ebony and Ivory reunited on a golf course 26 years after our final show together. Great to spend the afternoon with Stan Lawrence yesterday...

The English Beat at the Metro

Relived my youth on Friday night watching the English Beat at the Metro. I've always loved that band.

I must admit I got a kick out of seeing that Dave Wakeling has also gotten fat. Fat guys unite!

5 Myths about the Beatles

I knew three of these, but the last one was a brand new story to me, and I thought I knew them all. I also didn't know #3, but it didn't surprise me.

Check out the article here.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Free Kicks, Episode 9

EP9: Rick and Adam recap the Round of 16 and preview the Quarterfinals of the World Cup. Adam (the Brit) is just a little giddy. Also, Rick suggests crowd songs for every team in the final 16.

Listen to it here.