Saturday, March 13, 2021

Minutia Men

Friday, March 12, 2021

Free Kicks

From the Eckhartz Press archives

 Just posted at Eckhartz Press...

2021 marks our tenth year as a publisher, and every month we’ll be dipping into the archives to celebrate that anniversary. March has typically been a busy month at Eckhartz Press. For instance, check out some of these March moments from our authors Roger Badesch, Bobby Skafish, Janet Sutherland-Madden, Dobie Maxwell, John Landecker, Randy Richardson, Beth Jacobellis, and Kim Strickland.


In 2020, WGN Radio news anchor Roger Badesch released his great memoir The Unplanned Life in early March. Don’t take our word for the book’s quality, here’s just one of the glowing reviews it got (from Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan)…

“You may think you know Roger Badesch if you have listened over the years to his exact and artful news reports on radio, but between the covers of this book you will find so much more–a man of great depth, many passions and skills. His is a wonderful life that you can now share.”

Unfortunately, Roger had no way of knowing that the entire world was going to shut down, depriving him of having a book launch party. Hopefully we can correct that situation in 2021. Better late than never.


In 2017, Bobby Skafish was out promoting his book We Have Company, a really memorable tome about all of the Rock and Roll greats he has interviewed over the years. One of stops this month was in the studio at WCIU-TV. At the time the show was called “You and Me”, but it later morphed into what is now known as “The Jam”


In March of 2019, Janet Sutherland-Madden was out promoting her inspiring book Nose Over Toes. The book chronicles her struggle to recover from a debilitating brain aneurysm. The publicity tour found her in the swanky new WGN Radio studios. At the time, the WGN morning man was Steve Cochran. He cheered on Janet and helped spread the word about her book.


In March of 2016, comedian Dobie Maxwell released his memoir Monkey in the Middle as only he could. He threw a party at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago, brought in a bunch of his comedian friends, and they put on a comedy show for the ages. The photo of Dobie and publishers David Stern and Rick Kaempfer was taken at the end of the night. A little Dobie trivia: When he signs his books, he writes his name backwards.


In March of 2013, John Records Landecker began his promotional tour to promote his book Records Truly Is My Middle Name (a finalist for CWA Book of the Year that year). His first stop was to the television show “Windy City Live”. During that incredible segment, John was asked to recreate his vintage “Boogie Check” bit from his WLS-Radio days. Little did he know that his old pal (and fellow WLS Radio legend) Larry Lujack would be the first caller. (See more behind the scenes photos here)


In 2013, Randy Richardson was out promoting his novel Cheeseland. One of his book signings took place at the Book Stall in Winnetka. All of the profits from that night’s sales went to Elyssa’s Mission, a suicide prevention charity. Randy pledged a dollar from every book he has sold since Cheeseland was published, and he presented the directors of the charity a check that night.


In 2018, Beth Jacobellis launched her novel Cameo with a fun launch party on the northwest side of Chicago. The place was packed, she signed books for a few hours, and a good time was had by one and all. To see more photos from the book launch party, click here.

Author Kim Strickland (right) with “Down at the Golden Coin” cover designer Beth Selix Tomas

In 2012, Kim Strickland launched her second novel Down at the Golden Coin with a very elegant soiree at a north side art gallery. Wine was served, golden coins (in candy form of course) were handed out, and the packed crowd (obviously pre-COVID) was entertained by a book reading from Kim. What a memorable night.


Happy Birthday Johnny Kaempfer

 My middle son Johnny is 23 years old today.  I found this article in my archives the other day from my first few months as the work at home dad.  I think it really captures what he was like as a little boy. It appeared in Lake Magazine. As a birthday present to Johnny, I'm reposting it here today....

The Blue Bionicle
By Rick Kaempfer

From the "Best of 2004" issue

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. At the time I was working as a morning radio show producer in Chicago, but I was also running my own advertising agency and writing a novel and a non-fiction book. That particular Saturday morning I was sitting at the computer terminal in my basement putting the finishing touches on one of my books, when my middle son Johnny jumped on my lap. He was four years old.

Johnny is the kind of kid who regularly treats his father like monkey bars, so I continued with my writing undeterred, peaking around his bobbing head to see my manuscript on the computer screen. He began his usual rundown of his magical powers. On that particular day he was “Rainbow Dragon” and he was able to breathe fire on things to make the world a more colorful place. I nodded a few times and gave him a few of my usual “that’s nice Johnny” comments, when he grabbed both sides of my face. He stared into my eyes from just a few inches away.

“You never listen to me, Dad,” he said.

He was absolutely right. That was the day we officially instituted our new Saturday policy. Saturday became “Play with Dad Day,” and nothing in the world was allowed to supercede it. My oldest son Tommy was six at the time, and the following year my third son Sean was born. During those two years “Play with Dad Day” was sacrosanct. One simple day of undivided attention a week brought the four men of the house closer together.

Last fall my radio gig ended and my family faced a decision. Would I once again work those incredibly long and inconvenient hours, or would we shake things up a little bit? We opted for the latter. My wife went back to work full-time, and I stayed home. I was determined to make “Dad” my full-time job. It was easily the most rewarding, important, and difficult one of my five jobs, and it seemed like a no-brainer. At the time I didn’t understand why my wife was returning to work with such a big grin on her face.

My New Job

I thought I was just going to be full-time Dad. I didn’t realize that my new duties included keeping the house in order (another full-time job), and turning in my good cop badge for the dreaded bad cop badge. It also included giving up my traditional “Play with Dad Day” so that it could be transformed into “Play with Mom Day.” In short, I was no longer going to be the fun one.

I spent the first few months of our new arrangement struggling with my new assignment. I was in the same house as my boys, but it didn’t feel like I was spending quality time with them. Again, my son Johnny came to the rescue. He was sitting at the kitchen table playing with his Bionicle robots when he began the usual question and answer session. I was barely paying attention because I was making dinner at the time.

“Dad, what’s your favorite robot?” he asked.

“The blue one,” I said half-heartedly as I always did.

“Dad, we need to chat,” Johnny said.

It was such a strange comment from my son that it snapped me out of my usual half-hearted multi-tasking. The noodles didn’t need to be watched for another five minutes, his little brother Sean was happily sipping his milk, his big brother Tommy was working on his homework, and there wasn’t a reason in the world why I couldn’t sit down with Johnny and chat for a few moments. I’m glad that I didn’t come up with an excuse.

“What do you want to chat about?” I asked, pulling up a chair.

“Why do you like the blue one so much?” he asked.

“Because blue is my favorite color,” I said.

“But the blue one is Tommy,” he explained. As he said it, I saw the pain in his face for the first time. “The red one is me.”

Learning a New Language

I realized my brain had stopped listening to my boys as soon as they began talking about things I didn’t understand, and that I had been answering a loaded question incorrectly for months. My inattention had caused me to inadvertently hurt Johnny’s feelings, and I’m certain it had done the same thing to his older brother Tommy. That night I began to make a concerted effort to educate myself in the things that interested them.

And it wasn’t easy. When we got into a discussion of Bionicles and Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, they almost lost me. It was like trying to learn three new languages. Each of the Bionicles and Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh characters has a different name and nearly all of them are unpronounceable. If I wasn’t determined to learn about them, and let’s face it—it was making my brain hurt, I wouldn’t have made another important discovery. When I pointed to the blue Bionicle Robot in Johnny’s “Bionicle Book,” I was excited to finally intelligently contribute to the conversation.

“That’s Tommy,” I said.

“Hey!” Tommy protested.

Johnny, the emotionally injured middle son, snickered as his older brother got upset with me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked Tommy.

“I am NOT the blue one,” Tommy protested.

“But Johnny said that you were,” I explained.

That’s when the punching began. I had seen this seemingly incomprehensible fighting between my two oldest sons many times. In the past I hadn’t bothered to understand the basis of the argument because it seemed so frivolous. I don’t know what made me do it, but instead of stepping in to break up the fight, I read the description of the “Gali-Nuva” Blue Bionicle. The translation to this perpetual fight was right there in blue and white.

The blue Bionicle was a girl.

The Circle of Fatherhood

I hadn’t realized it until that night, but I was making the same mistake that I always blamed my own father for making. My dad was a German immigrant, and my interests (baseball, comedy and the Beatles) were about as foreign to him as the Bionicles were to me. He tried to get me interested in his favorite things like soccer and polka instead of trying to understand what I liked. I really don’t blame him now that I see how much harder it is to learn new things when you get older. But after months of studying, I’m nearly fluent in Bionicle. I’m still in remedial Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh, but I’m making progress.

I’ve even discovered ways to merge my interests with my boys’ interests in some cases. For instance, Johnny loves cowboys and I love television, so I introduced him to the Lone Ranger, and now we watch it together. Tommy loves astronomy and I love comedy. So, I showed him the comedic potential of my favorite planet “Uranus.” Granted, his teacher wasn’t too thrilled with our shared interests when he brought up “Uranus” at school, but I’m sure she understands that it was for the greater good.

Living in the moment

Every time I ask veteran parents about their most cherished parental memories, they always fondly recall the days before they lost their children to adolescence. I may end up losing my boys too, but I’m trying my best to savor every moment before that happens. And I’m praying I still have the energy in my tired old bones to make the same effort for my youngest son Sean when he starts talking to me about things that I don’t understand.

At the very least my boys won’t grow up saying “My Dad was never around” or “My Dad didn’t take the time to care about what interested me.” My home will never be profiled in “Town and Country” magazine, and I still have to be the bad cop when things go awry, but I’m a little more comfortable with my new assignment these days. Until they get sick of me, every day will be “Play with Dad Day,” and together we’ll eagerly await the nightly return of the good cop, the Blue Bionicle; their mom.

Thursday, March 11, 2021


Minutia Men Celebrity Interview

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Sad News

Bye Bye Piers

 Piers Morgan was the co-host of Good Morning Britain and one of Meghan Markle's most vocal critics. He ripped her after the Oprah interview, saying he didn't believe the palace had denied mental health therapy, and he didn't believe she contemplated suicide.

When Piers got heat for the heat he was throwing Megan's way, he did exactly what you'd expect this Trump-loving snowflake to do: He had a hissy fit, stormed off the set, and quit.

From the New York Times...

Mr. Morgan’s vociferous criticism of Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry, who Mr. Morgan said had orchestrated a “two-hour trash-a-thon of our royal family” in their interview, drew more than 41,000 complaints to Ofcom, Britain’s communications regulatory authority. The agency announced on Tuesday that it had opened an investigation into Mr. Morgan’s comments under its “harm and offence” rules.

Then, on Tuesday’s broadcast of “Good Morning Britain,” the strife came to a head when another co-host, Alex Beresford, admonished Mr. Morgan for his frequent sniping at Meghan. Mr. Beresford told Mr. Morgan that he had an ax to grind with Meghan because he previously had a rapport with her and she “cut you off.”

“She’s entitled to cut you off if she wants to,” Mr. Beresford said. “Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don’t think she has, but yet you continue to trash her.”

Mr. Morgan then got up from his anchor chair and walked off the set.

“OK, I’m done with this,” Mr. Morgan said.

The two hosts engaged in cross-talk as he was walking away, with Mr. Beresford saying: “Do you know what? That’s pathetic.”

Monday, March 08, 2021

Sunday, March 07, 2021

One of the Greats

He will always be remembered as one of the key members of three Stanley Cup champion teams. He retired this week, and said goodbye with this full page ad in the newspaper...