Nice Amazon Review of “Honk Honk, My Darling”

honk-frontWas just putzing around on Amazon last night and came across the following recent review of Rex Koko’s first caper. As you might imagine, it made my night. This is one of the cool things about being a writer, that someone actually “gets” what I’m striving for, that there’s a kindred spirit out there somewhere who wants desperately to visit Top Town someday. (Of course, my lonely black-hole of an ego will certainly pay too much attention to these kind of reviews.)

“The writing is detailed and the dialogue is witty, and the setting itself is really fun and original. I’ve been recommending the book to everyone I know, so I figured a review encouraging others to check it out was in order. The author definitely deserves a pat on the back, for coming up with such an entertaining concept and carrying out the delivery so well.”

So take her point. Make sure to review the books you enjoy online at places like Amazon and Goodreads, or write tweets and blogs about them. It’s how we can continue to entertain you mooks.



Today at Bardball

Your only source for timely baseball doggerel:

White Sox Thanks for Danks

Dear Lord, we now give thanks
That your boy, our John Danks,
Is feeling stronger every outing
And confident about an
Improvement in delivery
That’ll sure make batters quivery.
We’re grateful that he never quits
And seemed unfazed by all those hits
He serves with regularity
(Another branch of White Sox Charities?)
And his positivity with the team–
He remembers just what “Grinder” means
And loves this game more than anyone–
But it’d be great if he ever won.

Tribute to the Late Tigers Broadcaster Paul Carey

downloadThe Detroit Tigers have had up and down years for the past few decades, but one area they’ve been blessed in is broadcasting. Ernie Harwell was on the radio when I was growing up, and his voice meant vacations, hot nights, Dad’s cigarette smoke, and driving with the windows down. Ask anyone in Michigan and northern Ohio about it.

But Ernie’s partner for many years was Paul Carey. His bass to Ernie’s southern tenor was the perfect match, and while he didn’t tell all kinds of baseball stories like Ernie, he was still a consummate broadcaster. And by all accounts, as fine a man as Ernie was, and his closest friend. Godspeed, Paul, and thanks for all your wonderful work through the years.

Today on Bardball:

The Voice of God
RIP Paul Carey (1928-2016), long-time Tigers radio announcer.
The roar of a Rouge Plant furnace
Birthing a Thunderbird
The muscle roll of Gitchee Gumee
Festooned in spray
The ancient trees deep-rooted
Strummed like a lyre
The tectonic rumble of two peninsulas
Alive in summer

Today on Bardball

Where the Prime Rib is only $11.99 before 5 o’clock:

Velour, Sideburns and Johnny Bench

Per ’70s star Johnny Bench:
Bryce Harper makes my fists clench.
Bat-flipping is naught but a stench.
Batters guilty best stand in a trench
Lest chin music make their necks wrench
And cause the game’s great fans to blench.
To be “old school”, he said, makes a mensch,
Then belched and goosed his serving wench.

Hear Me Babble on the Wireless Box

6a00d83452285d69e20111689fe0cb970c-piJustin Kaufman has risen from improv comedian to radio producer to full-time evening host on WGN-AM radio, and still carries that boyish charm with him. He was nice enough to let me on his show last night to promote Thursday’s reading at the Frunchroom, and also to talk about Rex Koko and “Clown noir.” Click on the link below, I should come in at around the 90 minute mark.

I fear that the only lame answer I gave in the interview is the one that will stick with me for months or years. (Some of us are cursed with a brain that will focus completely on tiny missteps.) Justin asked me point blank a question I thought I was prepared for: “Who is the ideal reader for the Rex Koko mysteries?”

I sputtered some generic answer, yet years ago, I had formulated the right response to this (hope I get to use it someday):

“Rex Koko is written for anyone who has been called out by their boss at a meeting, asked to explain him/herself, and knew the only acceptable answer to the question was to drop trou and honk.”

Thanks again to Justin for having me on.

RIP to the Best Dog Ever

There’s no one begging to be walked when I get home late at night.

There’s no one pushing himself into my lap whenever I dare to sit on the floor.

There’s no one who will bark at phantoms he hears in the Chicago night.

There’s no one who will leave a mess for us to step in when we wake up in the morning.

There’s no one who will sniff at every corner of every fence in the neighborhood, especially when it is windy and below zero.

There’s no one who will love us so strongly and unreservedly.

A couple of days ago, we had to put down Duffy, the wheaten terrier who had been part of our lives for 15 or more years. He was named Harley when we adopted him, but that macho name didn’t suit him at all, so we re-named him Duffy. I’ve never not liked a Duffy. And no one ever disliked him. If anything, he acted too much like a human in the family, getting underfoot, barking to be included in everything. He was pretty uninterested in food yet extremely well behaved. He might have had a dumb name when we got him, but his owner had trained him extremely well.

But his quality of life had gone downhill and wasn’t improving. He’d gone blind and deaf, and didn’t know where he was. Seizures would hit him when he went out for a walk in the sunshine. (I think the sunlight somehow triggered them, but was never sure.) His intestinal tract was irritated more often than not, and when he could find the back door to be let out, sometimes he needed to be carried down the stairs. So it was time to end his suffering. My wife did it while I was out of town on a college visit, because she’s a little tougher than me. (Okay, a lot tougher.)

We probably won’t get another dog soon, because we’d like to travel a little more. But also, because no other dog could really match him. He was one of a kind. He was the dog of dogs. So long, little buddy.

As the World Series Begins…

Today on Bardball, your only source for bad baseball poetry, a recap of a terrific post-season:

What a Season — And It Ain’t Over Yet

So now, my friends, it has come to this,
The World Series of 2015
The kids ablaze on the New York Amazin’s
Versus the Big Blue Royal Machine.
Let’s consider all that’s gone before
As we bid the warm weather goodbye
Some teams did roll as had been foretold
While others came through with surprise.
The new Cubbie kids swung some mean bats
The Blue Jays refused to show fear
Motown fell dead, now needs a retread
While the Giants await an even year.
The Dodgers in their close-ups again blinked
Staid St. Louis became hot and unglued
The Nationals sputtered, then throttled each other
The Lone Star State watched a marvelous feud
So when someone tells you baseball is boring,
Whether online, at work, in a bar,
Don’t chuckle or sigh. Look them straight in the eye
And say, “Baseball’s not boring — you are.”

If you happen to be in Chicago today…

gonefishing1As the Cubs play the Bucs for their chance at the playoffs, don’t expect any more of that Midwestern hospitality.  Today at Bardball:

Like Anything Will Get Done Wednesday

If you happen to be in Chicago today,
Don’t fret if nobody makes you pay
For your pumpkin muffin and soy latte,
Or drivers give you the right-of-way.
Don’t book something crucial, say,
Like surgery or a crown inlay.
No one has attention to pay
To anything but what may
Happen when the sky turns grey
And Jake and the Cubs begin to play.

Fun on the Bus with the Kansas City Monarchs

51QlN3YomPL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Today’s poem at Bardball was inspired by some of Buck O’Neill’s stories about the Negro Leagues in The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski.

Fun on the Bus with the Kansas City Monarchs

We rode the bus a lot back then
Murphy was our bus driver
No first name
“Murphy” might’ve been fake too
He was bad business
Gold teeth
Angry eye
A past we never asked about
But reliable
Murphy was reliable
You could always count on him
Hearing one of us on the team shout
(and we did it many times a night)
“Hey Murphy! I think I just saw a police car!”
And hitting the gas
And driving like the devil himself was after him

Too Much Time on My Hands

No, not that horrible Styx song. Just a rabbit hole I climbed down at Baseball Reference. These were printed through the week at Bardball. Hope you enjoy.

MLB All-Sweettooth Team

1B   Sean Berry
2B   Cookie Rojas
SS   Cookie Lavagetto
3B   Pie Traynor
LF   Candy Maldonado
CF   Coco Crisp
RF   Taffy Wright
C   Rick Sweet
LHP   Brownie Foreman, Ed Wineapple
RHP   Twink Twining, Bob Lemon
MGR   Yogi Berry
MLB All-Libations Team

1B   Juice Latham
2B   George Creamer
SS   Jack Coffey
3B   Bobby Wine
LF   Gene Rye
CF   Brandy Davis
RF   Suds Sutherland
C   Punch Knoll
LHP   Vinegar Bend Mizell
RHP   Mark Lemongello, Clarence Beers
Closer   Oil Can Boyd
MGR   Norm Sherry
MLB All-Diner Team

1B   Don Pepper
2B   Cookie Lavagetto
SS   Chicken Wolf
3B   Oyster Burns
LF   Cuke Barrows
CF   Turkey Stearnes
RF   Chili Davis
C   Pickles Dillhoefer
LHP   Noodles Hahn, Lefty Herring
RHP   Herb Hash, Bun Troy
MGR   Mayo Smith
MLB All-Grain-Tuber-and-Legume Team

1B   Bill Bean
2B   Potato Cueto
SS   Oats DeMaestri
3B   Peanuts Lowrey
LF   Zach Wheat
CF   Billy Beane
RF   Sam Rice
C    Yam Yaryan
LHP   Beany Jacobson, Peanuts Kantlehner
RHP   Lee Wheat, Colter Bean, Goober Zuber
MGR   Johnny Oates


MLB All-Fish Team

1B   Sid Bream
2B   Chico Salmon
SS   Lee Elia
3B   Melvin Mora
LF   Ralph Garr
CF   Mike Trout
RF   Kevin Bass
C   Carlton Fishk
LHP   Steve Trout, Ryan Karp
RHP   Dizzy Trout, Mudcat Grant
M   Earl Weever

Bardball Gets a Shout-Out from the Chicago Tribune

Rick Kogan is probably my favorite journalist in Chicago. A wealth of information, a wry attitude, an engaging style, and always supportive of the goofy crap I try to make a living doing. He gave our baseball doggerel website a mention in his Sunday Tribune column last week, in anticipation of a baseball writing discussion at the Newberry Library. If you’d like to read the whole article, click on this sentence. Below is one of my quotes in the piece.

“We avoid cosmic highfalutin importance and stick with subjects like the previous night’s blown save or the price of beer. But we do doggerel, not poetry. We also post song parodies and videos. We are profound only by accident at Bardball. There’s enough stuffy bloviage written about baseball already.”

2015 Baseball Predictions from Sgt. Pepper, Part 2

Sgt. Pepper’s 2015 Forecast: “Being for the Benefit of Mister I”

For the benefit of Mister I
The Tiges will give another try
At a Series ring
In the race four times before
Then they’re always shown the door
Damn, it stings
.   But with Cabrera and two Martinez
.   The hits should still be raining in Motown
.   If God wills, Alex Avila doesn’t get hurt
Yeah, Max Scherzer hit the road
The Nationals can bear that load
(He will be missed)
David Price might have the stuff
But does the bullpen have enough?
Let’s check the list:
.   Phil Coke is gone, and Rick Porcello,
.   Which leaves Soria, Albuquerque and Nathan
.   Climbing higher? Dumpster fire? Who the hell knows?
Castellanos will be there
We’ll marvel at Cespedes’ flair
In center field
Ian Kinsler leaps and spins
Let’s hope Iglesias’ pins
Have really healed
.   Twisting the government ’round his fingers
.   Is not enough for Detroit’s pizza king
.   Which is why Mister I keeps spending his dough….

2015 Baseball Predictions from Sgt. Pepper

A little twist on stale prognostication, from Bardball:

Sgt. Pepper’s 2015 Forecast: “When I’m .204”

For the Yankees:
When I get older, losing my speed,
Not so long from now,
Will you still be batting me at DH,
Late-game left field, riding the bench?
When the Yanks are down 17 to 3,
Count on me to score.
Will you still play me,
Will you still pay me,
When I’m .204?
Every contract season there’s a vet’ran on the trading block that could fill a need
. . . CC, Gardner, A-Rod, Beltran . . .
Then in March he wrecks his knees,
Hank, is this your plan?
Farm system looks like a north Texas ranch
In 1933.
By August we’ll be chasing after Tampa Bay
All our prospects traded away.
Reflexes wane and muscles are sore
“On deck: Dumbledore!”
Will you still play me,
Will you still pay me,
When I’m .204?

Minnie Minoso, Your Name is a Song



Minnie Minoso
Your name is a song

And why it took so long
To integrate Chicago baseball
God only knows

But you came and showed
The joy of speed
The command of glove
And changed the game
But why do I love
You, Orestes, besides your name?

The Cuban Comet
You flared and flamed
and lit up the place
Wherever you came

Minnie Minoso
Your name is a song
I hope to recall
My whole life long