Saturday, May 29, 2021

RIP BJ Thomas

RIP Gavin Macleod

One of the best episodes ever of the MTM show...

Friday, May 28, 2021

Bobby Smith

Eckhartz Press on the Radio

 Tune in to WGN Radio tonight and you'll hear two Eckhartz Press authors during the 9pm hour, Robert Boone (City U) and Margaret Larkin (Wicker Park Wishes). Thanks so much to Phil Manicki for having them on his show. I'll be listening. (Both books are available right now at

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Free Kicks


RIP Eric Carle

I read this story to my boys a thousand times. RIP Eric Carle, who passed away yesterday at the age of 91.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

World Redhead Day

Minutia Men Celebrity Interview

A lifetime of corruption


Wicker Park Wishes


Q&A with Eckhartz Press author Margaret Larkin

Margaret Larkin’s book Wicker Park Wishes is currently at the printer and we’re accepting pre-orders for it now. We caught up with Margaret this week to talk to her about her upcoming novel.


I think one of the stars of your book is just-before-the-internet life. Walk us through your decision making process for why you chose to set the book in that time period.

Margaret: A combination of experiences. I often walk down Wacker Drive, and a while ago, I noticed that people had earbuds in their ears and were looking at or interacting with their phones. It seemed like people were sealed off from the outside world, and it made me think about life before such technology, when people heard the sounds of the city and responded to their surroundings.

Also, throughout the years, I’ve noticed that older people elevate younger folks because they are digital natives and know which buttons to push or where to consume different kinds of media. It doesn’t occur to them that there were a lot of people who were online before it was mainstream, and there are plenty of overlooked early adopters who are ignored based on a lack of understanding of tech history.

There’s also a social component to the nostalgia. One time I was at a college reunion and a student asked me what we did before texting. I simply said, “We showed up.” If we didn’t show up to an event or a designated meet-up spot, people would wonder if there was something wrong. Now people simply ghost each other or cancel at the last minute when something better comes along. Once I was supposed to meet up with some people and I was the only one to show up; they flaked out or bailed, and one person sent a vague text not solidifying their decision. Current technology allows for weak commitments, or false ones.

It’s those experiences, plus many more that involve seeing how people have changed based on how technology has changed, and it made me want to write about the dawn of innovations that people assume already existed in a sophisticated, saturated way. Basically, before we were inundated with carefully curated personas, people still had substantial lives offline, and the Internet and handheld phones were appendages. Now they’re a part of our identity, whether constructed or authentic.

Even Internet Service Providers were independent, run out of apartments and rough spaces. Shout-out to Tezcat…wherever the owners are now, thanks for being there in the early days.

One of the other stars of the book is the Wicker Park neighborhood mentioned in the title. It’s pretty clear you have fond memories of what it once was. How has the neighborhood changed since the days this novel takes place?

Margaret: Look at the real estate listings for a single-family home, and half-a-million dollars is typical. Condos are common, going for at least a couple-hundred-thousand dollars. Before developers got involved in the mid-90s, buildings were used as art spaces, even drug-manufacturing endeavors, and apartments were typically cheaper. Condos were rare, and single-family homes didn’t surpass six figures. There were also small businesses, clubs that featured house music and independent DJs, emerging bars, bookstores, record stores, and cafes. Business seems to still be vibrant in that area, and the buildings have been nicely restored, with the added bonus of less crime and more stability. It is still a dynamic area, though now the low-budget art shows, performances, and work spaces are scattered elsewhere.

How much of yourself do you see in the main character Claire?

Margaret: Claire is the “what if” in my head. The only thing I can relate to is the toxic environment she works in, though my experience was different while still in the dysfunctional category. The idea actually came from a fake blog I created, which I started in order to offset the boring life I was living. I didn’t go out much, didn’t have many spontaneous experiences, didn’t have a large web of friends, and my life was pretty quiet. So I decided to set up a blog written by a thrill-seeking, super-social 20-something year-old set in contemporary Chicago, in a Wicker Park-type neighborhood. I purposely chose an obscure journal site that looks similar to sites that were popular in the 90s, and the blog is personal and confessional, like an online diary, like the kind that were common in the 90s. Now it is difficult to find such honesty online; years ago, people used to share their thoughts and feelings in long posts. I was getting tired of reading thought snippets or looking at manufactured facades online, so I decided to write something online that was retro, but totally fictional, someone’s 21-century voice in a 90s package. Then I thought to myself, what if I took this kind of character and put her in the actual 90s, added drama to the parties, clubs, drugs, drinking, and guys, and made it a journey? The result is someone who is not like me, but is an alternative identity that was inside me. I would be surprised if people who know me offline think that she and I are similar.

You’ve been working as an editor for many years now. Is it easier to edit others or yourself, and why?

Margaret: I’ve never edited other people’s fiction, only non-fiction, and I’ve done a ton of proofreading for several years. I’ve even done ghostwriting, which is a kind of acting because you have to get into the character of the person you’re speaking for. They might send a bunch of ideas or rough sentences, but it’s my job to put it together in their voice. So that’s been part editing and writing. What I learned writing and rewriting this book (and I’m almost done with the second draft of another novel), is that there are elements that should be on the page. So I make sure they are there. It gets easier with more experience, but in general, fiction writing is a lot messier than non-fiction, so I’m actually still learning how to do it.

This book is really a family project for you. The wildly entertaining cover was designed by your husband. He’s obviously very supportive of your writing. How is the rest of your family responding to your new status as published author?


My family didn’t know I was writing this particular book (I’d written stuff before that went nowhere), and when I told my sister that it was going to be published, she was surprised that I had been working on it. While I was writing and rewriting it during the pandemic, the only relative I wanted to talk to about it was my uncle in Buffalo because he had written a novel that had done well, and I wanted to ask him advice about story structure, staying motivated, etc. But I never got that chance because he died suddenly. Then I thought to myself that I had to finish it in his memory. I wasn’t close to him because he didn’t like to travel and I didn’t go to the East Coast to see him, so I only saw him occasionally throughout the years, at family functions. But he was really inspirational because he was a doctor, lecturer, cigar-smoker, professor, gambler, novelist, investor, drinker, and he had encouraged me when I helped my mom (his sister) and when I was pursuing my own endeavors. He really had an impact on me; it’s interesting how someone can be so different from you, who you rarely see or talk to, but who is memorable. So I set Buffalo as my laptop’s wallpaper, and I would write and revise, keeping him in mind to help me reach my goal. And then once the book was done and was accepted for publication, I told my relatives and they were pleased. What’s even more incredible is the amount of non-relatives who are enthusiastic and supportive, so thanks to all those folks for being there and cheering me on!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Radio Star Wars


Free Excerpt from Records Truly is My Middle Name: Radio Star Wars

May 25, 1977 was the release date of the movie “Star Wars”. At the time, John Records Landecker was on the air at the Big 89, WLS. He created one of the most memorable bits of his career about Star Wars, a tale he tells in his book Records Truly Is My Middle Name



Star Wars was on the cover of Time Magazine the day we got a few of the movie’s stars to appear on our station.

The WLS morning man was on vacation, so Bob Sirott was filling in for him that day. Bob had a phone interview scheduled with Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia). I was filling in for Bob on the afternoon show, and had Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) scheduled as an in-studio guest. Since we had access to two of the biggest stars from the movie, I came up with an idea for a bit, and wrote a script featuring all of us. Everyone agreed to participate.

I showed up at the station early in the morning and recorded Bob and Carrie Fisher reading their lines. Then I spent all day with the production guy, adding R2D2 sound effects, a Darth Vader voice (mine), music from the movie, and timing everything out. All of the pre-recorded segments were ready to go when I got on the air that day. The plan was to do the last part of the script, my interaction with Mark Hamill, live on the air. I really thought it would be easy to do. I don’t know how many times I told the engineer the cue. All he had to do was hit a button at the right time, but when the time came, he messed it up.

We tried it again. He messed it up again.

It was messed up so many times I had to beg Mark Hamill to stay for an extra twenty minutes. We finally got it right and did a perfect take of the bit, and afterwards I edited it down even further, and it came out great. It was played on the air many times, and became a well-known bit. It really does feature the real actors from the movie, but if you hear the perfectly edited version, keep in mind that while we were actually doing the bit live on the air, it was a complete train-wreck.

White Sox

The Coup Cucks Klan

Randall Simon

Spider Dan

Monday, May 24, 2021

80 Things About Bob Dylan

 Today is Dylan's 80th birthday, and the BBC has a great article with 80 things you might not know about the man. For instance...

Dylan had a period of Christian revelation in the late 1970s, following his divorce, after a fan threw a small silver cross on stage. He got baptised and released several albums containing contemporary gospel songs like Gotta Serve Somebody.

Speaking about his faith in 1997, however, the musician told Newsweek: "I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music, I don't find it anywhere else. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists all of that, I've learned more from the songs than I have from any of this entity."

For what it's worth, I think this is one of his greatest songs, and not because it's religious in nature. I just think it has a great message...

Minutia Men

Returning to Normal

Thank you Barry Butler for this incredible shot...

Jack the Giant Killer