Saturday, January 29, 2022

Minutia Men

 The latest episode has dropped. You can listen to it here.

Cops playing Pokemon Go!, Koala Bears are not cute, Rick’s games for old parents, an inappropriate Meatloaf tribute, violating unicorns, and Rick’s brush with Pat Brickhouse are discussed by Rick and Dave. [Ep257]

Listen Score and Global Rank

Friday, January 28, 2022

From the Writing Archives

*Today I'm featuring a story that didn't quite make the cut for my Father Knows Nothing book (I wrote over 400 columns...I had to cut somewhere) I think of this one often on cold mornings. My youngest son Sean is now in college, but when he was in elementary school, we lived only a few blocks away, so we walked to school together every morning. This column is a good representation of what those walks were like. I originally posted it in 2009.

Sean and I bundle up against the elements, and walk to school together every morning. We are easy to spot, especially on cold winter days when we are literally the only ones on the sidewalk. He’s the short one. I’m the one wearing a giant Russian Army hat (a gift from my friend Kim–who got it in Russia).

I’ve seen the looks in the mini-vans driving by: “Who is that crazy dork in the Russian hat that makes his kid walk to school in sub-zero weather?”

It’s me. But it’s not my idea. It’s Sean’s. He sees it as a badge of courage.

“Dad,” he’ll say, “Look. Nobody else is walking again today.”

Nothing makes him happier. He sees us as the toughest dudes on the block. I love the walk to school too, but not for the same reason Sean does. I love it because it seems like he saves up his questions and thoughts for this special Dad & Sean time. This is a sampling…

*”Who came up with the word for ‘grass’?”

*”Why don’t you ever tell me to shush? My teacher says it all the time.”

*”I wish there was a button you could push that would make you learn how to read like (snap) that. Like a remote control or something.”

*”Did you know that basketball shoes make you a teeny bit faster? They don’t help you jump though.”

*”I had a dream last night that Tommy, Johnny & me were inside a video game. You weren’t in the dream, Dad. But maybe I just woke up too soon. You might have been in the next level.”

These conversations are my favorite. He is starting to question the world around him, but is still completely unafraid of sounding silly or strange, and (unlike his brothers) he still likes his father. And after a spirited debate across the frozen tundra about the best outfielder on the Cubs, or the legal ramifications of neglecting to put salt down on an icy sidewalk, he’ll always ask me the same thing at the corner before we reach school.

“Dad, can I wear your hat for a few seconds?”

I hand it to him, he puts it on over his coat hood, and sighs like someone dipping into a hot tub. “Aaah.”

“OK, that’s enough,” I respond after a few seconds. “The bell’s going to ring. Time to get into school.”

He waves to me as he crosses the street, and I wave back, trying desperately to savor every moment of our tough-guy time together.

Free Kicks

The latest episode of Free Kicks has dropped. You can listen to it here.

The African continent is gathering on the football pitch, and Rick and Adam discuss the teams who have made it to the next round. [Ep143]

Photo of the Week

 This one goes back to 1992. Ebony & Ivory (Stan Lawrence and me) along with Wendy Snyder, John Fisher, and Terry Gibson. We were doing a blood drive for the Loop.

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Today would have been Bob Muncrief's birthday. Where can you read about this right handed pitcher who closed out his fine career with the Chicago Cubs in 1949? Where else? In the pages of EveryCubEver.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

RIP Gene Clines

Cubs Birthday Tweet of the Week

Rogan vs. Young

 Neil Young told Spotify that they had choose between him and Joe Rogan because he didn't want to be associated with the vaccine-misinformation. Well, Spotify chose Joe Rogan.

As for me, I choose Neil Young...

Chicago Radio Ratings

 These numbers courtesy of Robert Feder. If you'd like to see the daypart breakdowns, click here. The ratings for WLIT, by the way, are the highest for anyone since 1975. (They were playing Christmas music)...

1. WLIT 93.9-FM adult contemporary, 14.4 (11.8)
2. WVAZ 102.7-FM R&B, 5.9 (5.1)
3. WBBM 780-AM/WCFS 105.9-FM all news, 5.6 (5.7)
4. (tie) WBEZ 91.5-FM public radio news talk, 4.8 (5.1); WDRV 97.1-FM classic rock, 4.8 (4.0)
6. WOJO 105.1-FM Mexican regional, 3.7 (3.6)
7. WGN 720-AM news talk, 3.5 (3.7)
8. WLS 94.7-FM classic hits, 3.1 (3.8)
9. (tie) WPPN 106.7-FM Spanish adult contemporary, 2.9 (2.7); WTMX 101.9-FM hot adult contemporary, 2.9 (4.4)
11. WXRT 93.1-FM adult album alternative, 2.8 (3.5)
12. (tie) WGCI 107.5-FM hip-hop, 2.5 (2.0); WKSC 103.5-FM Top 40, 2.5 (2.8); WRME 87.7-FM soft rock oldies, 2.5 (2.9)
15. (tie) WBBM 96.3-FM Top 40, 2.3 (2.4); WBMX 104.3-FM classic hip-hop, 2.3 (2.7); WCHI 95.5-FM rock, 2.3 (2.1)
18. WUSN 99.5-FM country, 2.0 (2.5)
19. (tie) WLEY 107.9-FM Mexican regional, 1.8 (2.0); WSHE 100.3-FM adult contemporary, 1.8 (1.6)
21. (tie) WFMT 98.7-FM classical, 1.7 (1.1); WKQX 101.1-FM alternative rock, 1.7 (1.7)
23. WSCR 670-AM sports talk, 1.5 (1.6)
24. (tie) WMVP 1000-AM sports talk, 1.1 (1.2); WPWX 92.3-FM hip-hop, 1.1 (1.1)
26. (tie) WLS 890-AM news talk, 0.9 (0.8); WVIV 93.5-FM Spanish contemporary, 0.9 (1.0)
28. (tie) WCKL 97.9-FM contemporary Christian music, 0.8 (0.7); WSRB 106.3-FM R&B, 0.8 (0.7)
30. WXLC 102.3-FM hot adult contemporary, 0.6 (0.6)

Eckhartz Everyday

 Both Joel and Chet are gone now, but their stories remain forever in print at Eckhartz Press. These broadcasting icons will not be forgotten.

*On this day in 1978, Eckhartz Press author Joel Daly delivered his final commentary on the Channel 7 News in Chicago. That commentary is preserved in the pages of his book The Daly News, and is excerpted here.

*On this day in 2019, Chet Coppock made his final appearance promoting his book Your Dime Your Dance Floor. He appeared at a Bowling for Veterans charity event.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Studio Walls

  Every week I send my Minutia Men Co-Host Dave Stern a list from our audio archives for this week's Studio Walls feature. These are the possibilities for this week. Which one will he choose?

*January 24th was Gennifer Flowers birthday. We had Bill Clinton's former mistress on John Landecker's show in the mid-90s, and the audio of that interview is featured on the CD Landecker & The Legends 20th Century Hits & Bits.

*January 24 also would have been Ernest Borgnine's birthday. We interviewed filmmaker Jeff Krulik about his eccentric indy classic Borgnine on the Bus. (The entire interview is here)

*January 25 is Joan Esposito's birthday. I featured her in an interview for Illinois Entertainer (the article is here), and we have the audio of that fun interview as well.

*On January 27, 2015, I released a video of the highlights from my Father Knows Nothing publicity tour. Some funny moments from several different high profile TV and radio shows. (That video is here)

*January 29th is Dane Placko's birthday. The Fox-32 reporter has been interviewed multiple times on the Minutia Men podcast. (One of those is here, and the other one is here.)

Eckhartz Everyday

 *Today would have been Eddie Van Halen's birthday. Two of our authors dedicated entire chapters to their brushes with the guitar virtuoso. Read all about Eddie in Bobby Skafish's book We Have Company, and Bill Paige's Eckhartz Press classic Everything I Know I Learned From Rock Stars. Both books are still available at Eckhartz Press.

*Today is also Wayne Gretzky's birthday. The greatest hockey player of all-time gets a full chapter in Randy Merkin's Eckhartz Press book Behind the Glass. That book was our top seller this past Christmas season, and is still available at Eckhartz Press.

*On this day in 2013, Chicago Writers Association President Randy Richardson did a recap of his publicity tour for his Eckhartz Press novel Cheeseland. You can read his recap here.

*On this day in 1932, Cubs owner (and the man they named the ballpark after) William Wrigley passed away, laying the groundwork for many decades of futility for the beloved franchise.  His great story is told in the pages of EveryCubEver

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Long and Winding Road

I agree with Paul completely about the Phil Spectorization of "Long & Winding Road". It was way better after the changes he demanded in this letter.

Da Bulls

Has an Illini player ever starred on the Bulls before? Can't believe this guy was a 2nd round pick.

Our Newest Book! Oscars Biggest Mistakes

Every year, The Academy Awards are telecast on ABC, fans watch the show and wonder what were they thinking? How could they have chosen that movie or that actor? Why wasn’t this movie nominated? The morning after, the program is dissected by viewers, critics and reviewed on all the morning talk shows. As a super fan of movies, the Oscars itself and as a person who has edited films for television, Litt took the recent pandemic to write a book about the Oscars and what some of their biggest mistakes have been the past 50 years.

Oscars Biggest Mistakes: A Super Fan’s Guide to the Academy Awards 1969-2021 is a hybrid book of sorts. He looks at the Oscars seven main categories, reviews the films, talks about the nominees, and the actual show and explains why he thinks the Academy might have made a BIG mistake.

You are invited to revisit the last 50 plus years at the Academy Awards and while reading this book, feel free to think about your own choices and discover some other mistakes.

The book is available for pre-order here.

The Q&A with author Eric Litt is here.

From the Writing Archives

 On this day in 2007, I posted this travelogue, which made it into the pages of Shore Magazine. It was one of my favorite pieces from that era. Hope you enjoy it...

Let us set the stage.

Rick had to go to Memphis for a media conference. He knew that Dave badly needed to get out of town (he has three little girls including twin one-year-olds), and they both knew that fellow college buddy Dane would be game for coming along. So…after getting approval from mildly disapproving spouses…the plans were made for an old fashioned boy’s road trip.

Of course, it wasn’t technically a road trip in the old-fashioned sense of the word. The idea of driving, for instance, was abandoned pretty quickly when Dave and Dane pointed out to the clueless Rick that Memphis was not “about four hours” away from Chicago.

Other than that, it was exactly like a traditional hard-core partying road trip…

*In the airport, Dane had all of his hair products confiscated by security. Dane, a news reporter, had no idea that these were no longer allowed in carry-on bags. The airport security man was kind enough to pose for this picture with Dane’s confiscated items.

*In the airport, Dave bought three bagels. When the total came to $8.10, Dave asked if they offered a financing plan.

*Our first meal in Memphis (lunch) was memorable. When the waitress brought Dave’s lunch, she slammed it on the table and snapped—“YOUR PLATE BURNED MY HAND!”

*Dane and Dave were eager to go to Mississippi, just a few minutes away from Memphis, although they had very different reasons.
=Dane wanted to cross Mississippi off his state list. He now has been to every state but Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, Texas, New Mexico and Oregon. Rick and Dave were just as impressed as you are.
=Dave, the same man that calls his mother every day and uses the parking brakes every single time he parks the car just like they taught him in Driver’s Ed, is actually a maniacal gambler, and knew that Mississippi has casinos.

*Rick and Dane walked around the casino looking at gamblers. Not one smile in the entire casino. Dave was one of the “happy” gamblers, sitting at the $5 blackjack table. Only the smallest bladder on the planet (or possibly an enlarged prostate) prevented him from remaining there to this day.

*While Rick attended his conference the following day, Dane & Dave went to Sun Studios and took the very cool tour there. That's Dane on the left standing in the exact spot Elvis recorded “That’s Alright Mama.” That's Dave on the right, proudly singing about getting the AAA discount even though his card had expired.

*At the media conference, Rick grabbed some lunch at Quiznos. To give you an idea what kind of a crowd attended this conference, the three people in front of Rick…
=complained about the absence of romaine lettuce on the sandwiches.
=lectured the teenager behind the counter that the “roast chicken” sandwich should be called the “tortured chicken sandwich”
AND last but not least…
=demanded to know why “vitamin water” was not available as a fountain drink.
Rick ordered the Italian with everything. The teenager behind the counter smiled.

*Rick got home from the conference just in time to break up the fight between Dane and Dave. Dane wanted to go to the Cotton Museum. Dave said he would rather be poked in the eyes by Liza Minnelli.

*That night we explored Beale Street, the party center of Memphis. After an incredible BBQ dinner, we settled in at a blues bar. After one of Dave’s three trips to the bathroom, he claimed to have spotted Dennis Quaid. Rick and Dane would have been much more impressed by Randy Quaid.

*Next stop: Pat O’Briens. The Memphis version of the famous New Orleans nightspot is almost an exact duplicate of the original. A rock and roll cover band was playing Van Halen in the courtyard. Rick and Dave wandered out to listen. Dane yelled “This is too loud!” and went to the dueling piano bar to listen to the Billy Joel medley instead.

*After a night of drinking, we stopped in for a late night burger. After we ordered the burgers, Dane noticed they weren’t being made on a grill. They were being boiled in a vat of animal fat. Mmmm.

*The night came to end when Dave’s “throbbing headache” had to be relieved with a medication cocktail that included Tylenol and Ambien.

*The following morning, the three middle aged travelers went to Graceland, where we suddenly didn’t feel so old.

*Dave got a little cocky at Graceland. He tried to get the student discount with his University of Illinois student ID card from 1985. “1985 Dave” had a full head of hair. “2007 Dave” has a gray goatee, and a shiny polished dome. The cashier didn’t go for it. This is her reaction when we tried to take her picture.

*Rick was grumbling that there weren’t any new Graceland snow domes since his last visit, so he bought an Elvis/Nixon magnet instead. This is the geek by Elvis’ grave.

*Lunch at Corky’s was the best meal of the trip…an unbelievable BBQ pork meal. Dave went to the bathroom there twice. Dane told Dave that he would make a provision in his will donating his bladder to Dave.

*After lunch, Rick and Dave took a nap. Dane went to the Cotton Museum by himself. If you ever meet him, ask to see the video. He videotaped the experience on his cell-phone, but we couldn't figure out how to upload it here.

*Not wanting to go out drinking again, the boys settled on an excursion to Arkansas for their last night. It wasn’t until they arrived at the dog track that Dane & Rick realized why Dave was so excited about this…it was attached to a casino.

*If you ever feel like you are at the lowest point in your life, remember this: You haven’t hit rock bottom until you spend a Saturday night at a dog track in Arkansas.

*Although...the bar was serving 20 ounce Michelob beers for 50 cents a piece. Rick had three dollars in his pocket and a song in his heart.

*Dane picked the winners of the first two dog races. After that, not so much. This is Dane tearing up his betting slips.

*Dave got in a poker game, and was one $250 pot away from losing everything. When he didn’t lose the hand, he got out, and didn’t return. Although, he did stop at the video poker machines on his way back from his second bathroom trip.

*The night ended when Rick got heartburn. He bought Pepto Bismol in the hotel gift shop…at the nicer hotel next door.

*The next morning when we checked out of the hotel, Dave asked the clerk to name the most famous person who ever stayed at their hotel. She said: “The tall guy from the TV show ‘Martin’ had his family reunion here.” Top that.

*The next day the middle aged travelers arrived at the airport two and a half hours before their flight so they could watch the Bears-Seahawks playoff game.

*With fifty seconds left in the tied game, the airline announced… “Chicago fans, this is your last call for boarding. We’re going to give away your tickets if you don’t board right now.” An audible groan went up in the airport bar. We walked down the tunnel toward the airplane not knowing if the game went to overtime or not. Dave, Dane and Rick tried to convince everyone to draw straws to see who would fake a heart attack in the tunnel to delay the flight.

*The flight attendant was British. She announced the football game result this way: “I’m not sure what this means, but the team from Chicago…I’m told they are known as the Bears…scored… is it called a field goal? Yes. In any case, they won the American football contest.” We cheered, but we suddenly all felt stupid for caring.

So, was our middle aged road trip fun? I know it might not sound like it, but we had a great time. Will we do it again? Probably.

Next time, though, Dave is getting a catheter.

Eckhartz Everyday


*Today is David Mosele's birthday. He is the great illustrator we've used many times, including for the cover of my book Father Knows Nothing, and Rantings of a Bitter Childless Woman by Jeanne Belezzo, and in the pages of Pat Colander's award winning book Hugh Hefner's First Funeral

Monday, January 24, 2022

Not so cute now, is it?

Eckhartz Everyday


*Today would have been John Belushi's birthday. During the filming of The Blues Brothers, John Landecker had him in the studio at WLS Radio, and hung out with him in a private bar. That story, and a great photo from those days, are found in the memorable pages of John Records Landecker's book Records Truly Is My Middle Name.

*Today also would have been Jack Brickhouse's birthday. He was Chet Coppock's godfather, and Chet devotes an entire chapter to the Cubs broadcasting legend in his Eckhartz Press book Your Dime, My Floor. Of course, Jack is also featured in my book, EveryCubEver