On Saturday, December 3, 2022, at 1:00 pm Central time, guests are invited to gather in the historic Santa Claus Church where the spell-binding Susan Fowler will return to the site to give us her entertaining and interactive rendition of the classic tale Twas the Night Before Christmas. A Merry Memory Sketch souvenir illustration of the afternoon’s story will be available for each family. There is no charge to attend, however donations to help restore the historic church are happily accepted.
Immediately following the storytelling, Mrs. Patricia Koch, w will hold a book signing for her recently published book entitledSanta’s Daughter. Mrs. Koch’s nostalgic book shares stories about her hometown of Mariah Hill, her experiences at Santa Claus Land and memories of her dad, Santa Jim Yellig. Her goal, at age 91, is to preserve the history of the town of Santa Claus and the surrounding area. Mrs. Koch will be in the historic church to sign books, answer questions and chat with visitors. Mrs. Koch is being honored this year by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb with the 2022 Sachem Award, the state’s highest honor. She also has been inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.
Also at no charge, families are invited to visit the museum, check in with Santa in his Museum Office, browse the gift shop, write letters to Santa in the historic Post Office, view the 12-foot Santa Claus Mural and the 22 foot Santa Claus Statue.
The Santa Claus Museum & Village is a not-for-profit organization which not only seeks to preserve the history of the town of Santa Claus but also to perpetuate the tradition of answering thousands of children’s letters to Santa. The Museum & Village are open daily Monday through Thursday from 10 am – 2 pm and Friday through Sunday 9 am to 4 pm, closed Christmas Day. The Santa Claus Museum & Village is located just south of Holiday World at 69 State Road 245 in Santa Claus, Indiana. For questions or further information, please call the Santa Claus Museum at 812-544-2434. And for more holiday ideas in the town of Santa Claus, click here.
FULL PROGRAM SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED FOR PRINTERS ROW LIT FEST, THE MIDWEST’S LARGEST LITERARY CELEBRATION, SEPTEMBER 10 & 11
Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey joins over 100 authors including national bestsellers Jamie Ford, Marie Myung-OK Lee, and Danyel Smith in a jam-packed weekend of free programming
This year’s festival highlights Chicago stories and offers fun for all ages, with a poetry tent organized by The Poetry Foundation; a rare presentation from satire writers at The Onion; interactive programs for youth and families; and more
The 37th annual Printers Row Lit Fest, presented by the Near South Planning Board, is pleased to announce the full schedule ofparticipating authors and programs. Printers Row Lit Fest is one of the three largest and oldest literary festivals in the U.S. and stretches across five blocks, along South Dearborn Street from Ida B. Wells Drive to Polk Street and on Polk Street from State to Clark, in Chicago’s historic Printers Row neighborhood. The outdoor event is accessible via public transportation and takes place rain or shine from Saturday – Sunday, September 10 – 11, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Printers Row Lit Fest’s dynamic lineup offers fun for book lovers of all kinds, from poetry and romance to satire and spoken word. Highlights of this year’s festival include a conversation with Danyel Smith, the first Black editor of Billboard magazine, on her recent book Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop; Jamie Ford discussing his current New York Times bestseller The Many Daughters of Afong May; and celebrated author of The Evening Hero,Marie Myung-OK Lee.
New to this year’s festival is a dedicated poetry tent curated by The Poetry Foundation with a lineup of award-winning and emerging poets. Also new to the festival is the laugh-out-loud Literary Death Match, whichpits four local authors against each other in front of a panel of all-star judges, and the Chicago-based, national satirical news site The Onion will present a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the article production process of “America’s Finest News Source” with a post-apocalyptic twist. Visitors can participate in a spoken word workshop and open mic led by EmceeSkool, and The Moth will showcase recent winners from their popular StorySLAM live storytelling competition.
The Printers Row Lit Fest will present powerful voices in social and environmental justice and activism with a series of panels hosted by reporters from Chicago Sun-Times and personalities from WBEZ. The fest includes a timely discussion reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic with a conversation between Dr. David Ansell, author of The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills, and Dr. Thomas Fisher, author of The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago E.R. In addition, the Chicago Public Library will host Voices for Justice: Natalie Moore’s “The Billboard” including a staged reading of excerpts from the award-winning play.
This year marks the return of children and family-focused programming at Printers Row Lit Fest. Programs include Theatre on the Hill’s Choose Your Own Once Upon a Time, an opportunity for children to decide the fates of their favorite fairy tale characters in a live, interactive theatrical event, and Carlos Theatre Productions which will present a Latin American puppet show for children in Spanish and English. Parents can hear Dr. Dana Suskind in conversation with former Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens about her recent book Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise.
Programs are organized by Printers Row Lit Fest Program Director Amy Danzer, assistant director of graduate programs at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies and Board President of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
IncludingSandmeyer’s Booksand The Book Cellar, Printers Row Lit Fest hosts over 100 booksellers in airy outdoor tents, inviting visitors to peacefully peruse everything from the rare to ‘hot off the press,’ newly published works. All programming, includingfeature presentations by myriad authors, spoken word artists, journalists, comedians, and poets,is100% free of charge.
Printers Row Lit Fest 2022 Schedule
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
Center Stage – Children’s Programming – Theatre on the Hill Presents Choose Your Own Once Upon A Time
Poetry Foundation – Children’s Programming – A bilingual reading of Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions, Selections/Libro de Preguntas, Selecciones (Enchanted Lion Books, 2022) by translator, Sara Lissa Paulson.
Main Stage – Welcome by Near South Planning Board Chairman Steven Smutny, Chicago Public Library Commissioner Chris Brown, and First Lady Amy Eshleman. Program to follow featuring Natasha Trethewey, Harold Washington Literary Award Winner in conversation with Donna Seaman, Booklist. Program introduced by Natalie Moore, Harold Washington Literary Award Selection Committee Chair.
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – The Deep Creativity of Translation: A Reading and Discussion with Izidora Angel, Mary Hawley, and Alta L. Price. Moderated by Irina Ruvinsky. Presented by Another Chicago Magazine and the Third Coast Translators Collective.
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Big Shoulders Press Presents Virus City: Chicago 2020-2021. Reading and Discussion featuring Amy Do, Robin Hoecker, Emily Richards, Oscar Sanchez, and Frank Tempone. Moderated by Rebecca Johns Trissler.
Grace Place (1st Floor) – Children’s Programming -10:15am – Doors. 10:30am – Miss Friendship Ambassador 2022 Susan Liu to tell the story of the Moon Festival Presented by the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. 10:45am – Moon Festival Parade to depart Grace Place.
Center Stage – Welcome by Alderman King One Book One Chicago – Thomas Dyja, The Third Coast and Eric Charles May, Bedrock Faith with Judy Rivera-Van Schage
Poetry Foundation – Children’s Programming – Reading by Julian Randall, Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa. Emceed by Stefania Gomez.
Main Stage – (11:30 a.m.) WBEZ Presents Adriana Herrera, A Caribbean Heiress in Paris, and Sarah MacLean, Heartbreaker: A Hell’s Belles Novel in conversation with WBEZ’s Greta Johnsen, host of Nerdette
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Ray Long, The House That Madigan Built: The Record Run of Illinois’ Velvet Hammer in conversation with Joan Esposito
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Unlocking Memories and Uncovering Stories: Bindy Bitterman, Skiddly Diddly Skat (children’s book) and Sharon Kramer, Time for Bubbe (children’s book) in conversation with Chicago author Beth Finke
Grace Place (1st Floor) – Patricia Carlos Dominguez Presents Yo Luchadora (bilingual children’s book) followed by a workshop
Center Stage – Erika L. Sanchez, Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir in conversation with Juan Martinez
Poetry Foundation – – The Chicago Poetry Center – Readings by Mayda del Valle, Aricka Foreman, Tim Stafford, Natasha Mijares, C. Russell Price, and Viola Lee. Emceed by Marty McConnell.
Main Stage – (12:30 p.m) WBEZ Presents Danyel Smith, Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop in Conversation with WBEZ’s Natalie Moore
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Deborah Cohen, Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took On a World at War in conversation with Peter Slevin
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Crises: The All Ages Show – Dan Chaon, Sleepwalk and Jean Thompson, The Poet’s House in conversation with Eileen Favorite
Grace Place (1st Floor) – Writing Overwhelming Realities – Readings by Julia Fine, Dionne Irving, Ananda Lima, Jami Nakamura Lin, and Jeffrey Wolf. Emceed by Ananda Lima.
Center Stage – Debut Fiction: Jessamine Chan, The School for Good Mothers and Shelby Van Pelt, Remarkably Bright Creatures in conversation with Rebecca Makkai
Main Stage – (1:30 p.m.) Chicago Sun-Times Presents The Environmental Justice Exchange: A tribute to Hazel Johnson, the Mother of Environmental Justice. Host: Brett Chase. Guests: Cheryl Johnson, Hazel’s daughter and executive director of People for Community Recovery; Tarnynon Onumonu, poet and author of “Greetings from the Moon, the Sacrificial Side”; Luis Carranza, poet and author of “Viva la Resistencia”.
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – M. Chris Fabricant, Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System in conversation with Rob Warden
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Sourcebooks Presents – How Books Are Made: Authors Discuss the Publishing Process. Julie Clark, The Last Flight and The Lies I Tell; Ann Dávila Cardinal, The Storyteller’s Death; Iman Hariri-Kia, A Hundred Other Girls. Moderated by Kate Roddy, Associate Editor at Sourcebooks.
Center Stage – Title IX, 50 years later: Women writers, women’s sports – Corin Adams, Tiny Setbacks, Major Comebacks, Julie DiCaro, Sidelined: Sports, Culture, and Being a Woman in America, and Melissa Isaacson, State: A Team, a Triumph, a Transformation in conversation with Jeanie Chung
Poetry Foundation – Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, Wherever I’m At: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry – Readings by Daniel Bortzutzky, Ugochi Nwaogwugwu, Elise Paschen, and Sara Salgado. Emceed by Carlo Rotella.
Main Stage – Chicago Sun-Times Presents Social Justice in Chicago: The Mexican community’s fight to stay in the city. Host: Elvia Malagon. Guest: Mike Amezcua, author of Making Mexican Chicago: From Postwar Settlement to the Age of Gentrification
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Dr. David Ansell, The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills and Dr. Thomas Fisher, The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER with Katherine Davis, Crain’s
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Elizabeth Crane, This Story Will Change: After the Happily Ever After with Kim Brooks
Grace Place (1st Floor) – The Onion: America’s Finest News Source In The Post-Apocalypse featuring Skyler Higley and Sammi Skolmosk
Center Stage – PHENOM & EmceeSkool (Open Mic)
Main Stage – (3:30 p.m. ) Joe Meno, Book of Extraordinary Tragedies with Gint Aras
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Beth Macy, Raising Lazarus: Hope, Justice, and the Future of America’s Overdose Crisis with Alex McLevy
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – Leslie Bow, Racist Love: Asian Abstraction and the Pleasures of Fantasy with Michelle Huang.
Grace Place (1st Floor) – Rebuilding a Life – Ann McGlinn, Ride On, See You; Alex Poppe, Jinwar and Other Stories; Lynn Sloan, Midstream with Rachel Swearingen
Center Stage – The Chicago Public Library and16th Street Theatre Present The Billboard by Natalie Moore – Staged Reading featuring Ti Nicole Danridge and Felisha McNeal followed by conversation between Natalie Moore, The BillBoard and Kathy Hey, Third Coast Review
Poetry Foundation – RHINO Poetry – Readings by April Gibson, Kathleen Rooney, Jessica Walsh, E. Hughes, Faisal Mohyuddin, Kenyatta Rogers, Jacob Saenz, Maja Teref & Steven Teref. Emceed by Naoko Fujimoto and Elizabeth O-Connell Thompson.
Main Stage – (4:30 p.m.) – Literary Death Match – Presented by StoryStudio Chicago and Near South Planning Board. All-star judges: David Cerda, Julia Morales, and Luis Urrea. Readers: Shannon Cason, Elizabeth Gomez, Mikki Kendall, and Diana Slickman. Emceed by Adrian Todd Zuniga.
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Resistance, Resilience and Surviving the Sex Trade: – Brenda Myers-Powell, Leaving Breezy Street: A Memoir and Hannah Sward, Strip in conversation with Anne Ream, The Voices and Faces Project
Center Stage – The Guild Complex Presents Exhibit B – Reading by CM Burroughs, Ruth Margraff, and Nami Mun. Emceed by James Stewart III
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Ramzi Fawaz, Queer Forms in conersation with Chicago LGBT Hall of Famer Owen Keehnen
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
Center Stage – Representation in Children’s Books: Reading and Conversation featuring Sam Kirk, The Meaning of Pride; Mrs. Yuka Layme, Co-Producer of Drag Queen Story Hour; Katie Schenkel, Cardboard Kingdom with Barbara Egel
Poetry Foundation – A Poetry Reading featuring Jennifer Steele, 826 Chiand Chris Aldana, Luya Poetry
Main Stage – Pirates, Ghosts, and Loss – Sara Connell, Ghost House and Michael Zapata, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau with Paula Carter
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Kori Rumore and Marianne Mather (authors of), and Rick Kogan (prelude to) He Had It Coming: Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories with Mary Wisniewski
Center Stage – Chicago Graphic Novelists – Markisan Naso, By the Horns and Michael Moreci, Wasted Space in conversation with Terry Gant, Third Coast Comics
Poetry Foundation – Chris Abani, Smoking the Bible – Reading followed by conversation with Parneshia Jones
Main Stage – Jamie Ford, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy in conversation with Carey Cranston, President of the American Writers Museum
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Victor Ray, On Critical Race Theory: Why It Matters & Why You Should Care with Cassandra West, Crain’s
Grace Place (2nd Floor) – – Rev. Amity Carrubba in conversation with Tom Montgomery Fate, The Long Way Home: Detours and Discoveries
Center Stage – NU Press Reading, Growing Up Chicago – Second to None: Chicago Stories – Readings by Anne Calcagno, Shelley Conner, and Jessie Ann Foley. Emceed by David Schaafsma
Poetry Foundation – Roger Reeves, Best Barbarian – Reading followed by conversation with Simone Muench. Musical accompaniment, Mai Sugimoto.
Main Stage – Girlhood in Chicago – Illinois Poet Laureate Angela Jackson, More Than Meat and Raiment and Debut Novelist Toya Wolfe, Last Summer on State Street in conversation with Amina Gautier
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Dana Suskind, Parent Nation: Unlocking Every Child’s Potential, Fulfilling Society’s Promise in conversation with Heidi Stevens
Center Stage – City in a Garden of Books: Literary Fellowship Among Independent Publishers and Booksellers – Parneshia Jones, NU Press; Dr. Haki Madhubuti, Third World Press Foundation; Doug Seibold, Agate Publishing with Jeff Deutsch, In Praise of Good Bookstore
Main Stage – Secrets – Bradeigh Godfrey, Imposter and Marie Myung-Ok Lee, The Evening Hero with Kate Wisel
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Kevin Boyle, The Shattering: America in the 1960s in conversation with Elizabeth Taylor
Center Stage – Adam Levin, Mount Chicago in conversation with Jarrett Neal
Poetry Foundation – Young Chicago Authors – Reading featuring The Roots Crew, hosted by E’mon Lauren
Main Stage – The Moth: 25 Years of Live Storytelling featuring Grace Topinka, Melissa Earley, Archy Jamjun, and Jacoby Cochran
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Neil Steinberg, Every Goddamn Day: A Highly Selective, Definitely Opinionated, and Alternatingly Humorous and Heartbreaking Historical Tour of Chicago in conversation with Shermann Dilla Thomas (“6figga_dilla”)
Center Stage – Reading and Conversation featuring Ana Castillo, My Book of the Dead: New Poems with Yolanda Nieves
Main Stage – Romance Panel: Legacy and Love – Ali Brady, The Beach Trap and Natalie Caña, A Proposal They Can’t Refuse with Tanya Lane
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – The Insidiousness of Hatred – Adam Langer, Cyclorama and Jerry Stahl, Nein, Nein, Nein!: One Man’s Tale of Depression, Psychic Torment, and a Bus Tour of the Holocaust in conversation with Ben Tanzer
Center Stage – The Crisis in American Democracy – Dick Simpson, Democracy’s Rebirth: The View from Chicago and Michael Dorf, Clear It with Sid!: Sidney R. Yates and Fifty Years of Presidents, Pragmatism, and Public Service with Gerry Plecki, President of The Society of Midland Authors
Poetry Foundation – Reading and Conversation featuring Tara Betts, Refuse to Disappear and Keli Stewart, Small Altars. Moderated by Rachel Jamison Webster
Main Stage – Chloé Cooper Jones, Easy Beauty: A Memoir with Gina Frangello
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – Sarah Kendzior, They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent – with Rick Perlstein, Crain’s
Center Stage – Blue Heron Press, Open Heart Chicago: An Anthology of Chicago Writing – Readings by Dorothy Frey, Lorena Ornelas, Joe Peterson, and Sandi Wisenberg. Emceed by Editor Vincent Francone.
Main Stage – Debut YA Fiction – Giano Cromley, The Prince of Infinite Space and Skyler Schrempp, Three Strike Summer with Michelle Falkof
731 S. Plymouth Ct. – A Visual Read of the City – Lee Bey, Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic; Blair Kamin, former Chicago Tribune architect critic; Dennis Rodkin, Crain’s with Gerald Butters\
“My birth was planned around Judaism and basketball,” writes Dan Grunfeld in the opening paragraph of his book. “It’s an appropriate testament to what I was inheriting. When I was born in 1984, my dad was an NBA player for the New York Knicks. My parents scheduled my C-section delivery to take place between two long road trips so he could be present for both my birth and my bris, the Jewish ritual of circumcision on the eighth day of life.
17-year-old Lily Grunfeld survived the Holocaust by hiding in a crowded attic room in a burned-out building in Budapest. She was twice saved by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Once when he issued false citizenship documents to Hungarian Jews in Hungary and, then again at the end of the war, when he convinced Nazi guards not to gun down the remaining 80,000 Jews still alive in the Budapest Ghetto.
After the war when Anyu returned to the home she had shared with her parents and siblings in a small Transylvanian village in Romania near the Hungarian border, it had been looted and almost everything was gone. Her parents and five siblings had died at Auschwitz. She had also lost aunts and cousins.
All that was left, tucked away out of sight in a drawer, was a spoon.
Grunfeld is turning 98 later this year. She doesn’t harbor bitterness and hatred—though who could blame her if she did? Even though after moving to the U.S. with her husband, she lost her oldest son who died of leukemia.
Arriving in New York in 1964, the family including their surviving son Ernie and daughter Rebecca, didn’t know the language or customs of their new country. Eight-year-old Ernie also didn’t know anything about the game of basketball but he gravitated to the playgrounds of New York City where kids were shooting baskets. It was an opportunity, he thought, to learn English and to make friends.
It turned out to be more than that. Ernie Grunfeld was really, really good at this American game. So good in fact that within ten years of moving to the U.S. he had won two gold medals—one for playing basketball with Team USA at the 1975 Pan American Games and the other in the 1976 in the Summer Olympics in Montreal. Drafted into the NBA to play for Milwaukee Bucks, he went on to play for the Kansas City Kings and then the New York Knicks. Once his playing days were done, he worked in administration rising through the ranks to become president and general manager of the Knicks and then the general manager of the Bucks. He followed that up with 16 years as president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards.
It was indeed a basketball family.
“My birth was planned around Judaism and basketball,” writes Dan Grunfeld in the opening paragraph of his book. “It’s an appropriate testament to what I was inheriting. When I was born in 1984, my dad was an NBA player for the New York Knicks. My parents scheduled my C-section delivery to take place between two long road trips so he could be present for both my birth and my bris, the Jewish ritual of circumcision on the eighth day of life. I’m sure thousands of Jews in New York City during the 1980s planned their sons’ bris ceremonies around Knicks games. My dad was almost certainly the only Jew actually playing in the Knicks game.”
Indeed, Ernie Grunfeld was the only child of Holocaust survivors to ever play in the NBA.
It’s Dan Grunfeld’s ability to move between the dark and light of life, a reflection surely of his grandmother’s philosophy, that makes this book so immensely readable. Dan Grunfeld also played basketball, both at Stanford University and then for nine years overseas professionally in Germany, Israel, and Spain. He even became a Romanian citizen to play in his grandmother’s native country.
“My first professional game was in Germany, I was probably the only player who called his grandmother and asked her if it was okay to play there,” says Grunfeld. Anyu, being Anyu, of course said yes, telling him that you can’t blame the sons for what the fathers did.
Growing up, Grunfeld was fascinated not only with his grandmother’s Eastern European cooking (“I eat so much sometimes that I get sick,” he says), but also, when he was old enough, her tales of those early days. Stanford was just 25 minutes from where she lived and he would take notes when they talked or at least when he wasn’t eating.
In that respect, he is unlike most of us who when young who don’t write things down and so lose the important stories of our elders. Indeed, I had a Romanian grandmother who loved to cook but I just ate and never recorded her times in her homeland and her journey to East Chicago and so all that is lost. Bravo to Grunfeld who felt that these stories were important enough to turn into a book. He did it for Anyu who doesn’t want people to forget the Holocaust and what happened to her family and so many families like hers. He did it to enshrine her story into written words. And he did it so that her courage could help all of us when things seem very dark.
“My grandmother certainly has an incredible attitude and approach to life,” he says. “She’s such a remarkable person. I say if my grandmother can survive and be like this than there is hope for all of us.”
When I ask Grunfeld if he misses basketball, he tells me that he misses what it was like playing the game when you’re playing at a high level and having success.
“I also understand that part of my life is over,” says Grunfeld who is married and is expecting the birth of his second son in a matter of weeks. “I’m at a point in my life where I realize I’m not coming back. But there are so many other ways you can integrate it into your life. You can watch it, read about it, and write about it.”
Which, of course, is what he did.
As for that spoon Anyu found. 75 years later she gave it to Dan who keeps it in the drawer next to his bed. Sometime in the future, it most likely will be passed on to Dan’s son Solomon, named after his grandfather who died at Auschwitz.
“Bob Odenkirk’s career is inexplicable,” writes Danielle Dresser of Anderson’s Bookshop where Oldenkirk will be signing copies of his new book. “And yet he will try like hell to explicate it for you. Charting a “Homeric” decades-long “odyssey” from his origins in the seedy comedy clubs of Chicago to a dramatic career full of award nominations—with a side-trip into the action-man world that is baffling to all who know him—it’s almost like there are many Bob Odenkirks. But there is just one and one is plenty.
Dresser goes on to say that Bob embraced a life in comedy after a chance meeting with Second City’s legendary Del Close. He somehow made his way to a job as a writer at Saturday Night Live. While surviving that legendary gauntlet by the skin of his gnashing teeth, he stashed away the secrets of comedy writing—eventually employing them in the immortal “Motivational Speaker” sketch for Chris Farley, honing them on The Ben Stiller Show, and perfecting them on Mr. Show with Bob and David.
In Hollywood, Bob demonstrated a bullheadedness that would shame Sisyphus himself, and when all hope was lost for the umpteenth time, the phone rang with an offer to appear on Breaking Bad—a show about how boring it is to be a high school chemistry teacher. His embrace of this strange new world of dramatic acting led him to working with Steven Spielberg, Alexander Payne, and Greta Gerwig, and then, in a twist that will confound you, he re-re-invented himself as a bona fide action star. Why? Read this and do your own psychoanalysis—it’s fun!
Featuring humorous tangents, never-before-seen photos, wild characters, and Bob’s trademark unflinching drive, Comedy Comedy Comedy Dramais a classic showbiz tale told by a determined idiot.
From Comedy to Drama with Bob Odenkirk
Actor, comedian, writer, director, producer and Naperville native, Bob Odenkirk will be at the Yellow Box Theater at the Community Christian Church (1635 Emerson Lane, Naperville, IL) on Thursday, March 3rd at 7pm CT, in conversation with Kim “Howard” Johnson, to discuss his new memoir, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama. In this “essential” (Entertainment Weekly), “hilarious” (AV Club) memoir, the star of Mr. Show, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul opens up about the highs and lows of showbiz, his cult status as a comedy writer, and what it’s like to reinvent himself as an action film ass-kicker at fifty.
If You’re not following Lainey Gossip, may I suggest that you do. It’s all about pop culture including books, fashion, movies, celebrities, etc. with lots of fun videos including this one of Tom Cruise thanking people for seeing his latest movie Top Gun: Maverick while free falling from an airplane and talking on his way down. It’s all about getting the shot says Lainey, and he sure does.
Here are a couple of posts from her site–and I mean who wouldn’t love a column titled Smutty Book Round-up?
Here’s short bio from herwebsite
LaineyGossip.com is an entertainment news and gossip blog co-founded by Elaine “Lainey” Lui. The primary voice of LaineyGossip.com, she is also co-host of CTV’s daytime talk show “The Social”, and a reporter on CTV’s “etalk”, Canada’s number one rated entertainment news show.
The site started as an email to small group of friends and colleagues in 2003 and spread by word of mouth to thousands of now loyal readers. It launched as a website in December 2004 and has since grown into an immensely popular entertainment destination visited by over 1.5 million monthly unique readers. Generating over 18 million monthly page views, it is now a leading international celebrity gossip source and a must read for well-read, educated females across North America.
Aside from securing hot tips and exclusive party access on its own, the site has benefited from the access associated with Lainey’s role on CTV’s etalk, which she joined in 2006 as a special correspondent. With etalk Lainey has covered the Red Carpet at the Oscars, SuperBowl XLII, Cannes and Toronto International Film Festivals, and other top tier events worldwide.
In April of 2014 Lainey fulfilled a lifelong dream when her first book Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When a Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter to Do? A Memoir (Sort Of) was published (by Random House in Canada and Penguin in the USA).
Bored yet? If not, below is a selection of clippings from a handful of magazines and newspapers over the past few years.
Need more? See the our full bio here (PDF format) or email email@example.com for more information. Buzzfeed, April 2021 Perez Hilton And Lainey Gossip Were Famous For Their Mean Blogs. Now They’re Trying To Change. By Saachi Koul
Every day after I came home from high school, I’d run to my bedroom, turn on my enormous, whirring black Dell desktop, and read Perez Hilton — the up-to-the-minute celebrity gossip blog — for hours. Paparazzi hunting young famous women and bloggers updating their whereabouts by the second created the feeling that every It girl in Los Angeles was publicly spiraling… Link to full article Toronto Star, Jan 2021 TV sensation Lainey Lui’s dogs, Barney and Elvis, may the best-loved beagles in Toronto. You have to meet them By Jillian Vieira
There are dog people, and then there’s Lainey Lui. Along with husband Jacek Szenowicz, she’s pet parent to Barney, 10, and Elvis, 5, a pair of brotherly beagles who The Social co-host, eTalk co-anchor and founder of LaineyGossip.com fully admits are beneficiaries of an ultra-spoiled situation… Link to full article ELLE Canada, May 2020 15 Inspirational Asian Canadians to Know By Patricia Karounos and Hannah Zeigler
All of our best gossip comes from Elaine Lui – or Lainey, as she is better known. The Toronto-born writer launched her eponymous blog, Lainey Gossip, in 2004 while still working at Vancouver’s Covenant House. Two years later, she quit her job to preside over the site full time, and she’s been a regular fixture in our pop-culture routine ever since… Link to full article Chatelaine, Sept 2019 Elaine Lui On Aging: Some Women Want To Embrace Their Wrinkles, But That’s Not Me By Courtney Shea
I’m on TV several times a week for The Social and etalk, and one of the things I’m constantly hearing from audience members or on social media is, “Cut that hair!”—that it’s too long for my age. First of all: If you had my hair, would you cut it?… Link to full article The Cut, Nov 2018 How I Get It Done: Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip Lisa Ryan
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who understands gossip better than Elaine “Lainey” Lui, the Canadian maven behind LaineyGossip.com. She’s been running the site for more than a decade, and parlayed it into a career as an entertainment journalist…. Link to full article BBC News, Sept 2017 Canadian blogger Lainey Lui on why gossip is political By Jessica Murphy
Elaine “Lainey” Lui is keeping a sharp eye on Colin Farrell. The Irish actor is a few tables over in the lobby of a downtown hotel being interviewed for a film he’s promoting at the Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff). The festival, which runs until 17 September, is a busy time for Lui…. Link to full article The Ringer, October 2016 Lainey Is Yours in Gossip: How a 12-year-old celebrity blog became essential again By Allison P. Davis
Elaine Lui has had her back to me for about 20 minutes, typing away on her Surface tablet. We’re tucked into her broom closet of an office in Toronto’s Bell Media complex, where Lui sits amid an immense but well-organized pile of stuff. A heap of designer shoes is stashed in a cubby; the walls are decorated in the style of collage-obsessed 19-year-old – there’s a Slytherin banner on her front door… Link to full article Slate, July 2016 A Celebrity Gossip Expert Explains the Summer of Taylor Swift By Heather Schwedel
Taylor Swift is having quite the summer – from her breakup with Calvin Harris to the birth of Hiddleswift to Kim Kardashian’s receipts-apalooza, plus or minus a Nils Sjoberg, she’s been consistently dominating headlines. But what does it all mean? LaineyGossip.com is where many of the smart women I follow online turn for informed interpretation of the latest celebrity scandal… Link to full article The Walrus, March 2015 IN DEFENCE OF LOW CULTURE: And praise of love, hate, discovery, jealousy, obsession, betrayal, and mean-girling By Elaine Lui for The Walrus Talks Creativity
Elaine Lui is a Canadian television personality, reporter, blogger, and author. She runs the celebrity-gossip website laineygossip.com, reports for CTV’s etalk, co-hosts CTV’s daily talk series The Social, and wrote the mother-daughter memoir Listen to the Squawking Chicken… Link to see video Toronto Life, November 2014 Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: the people who changed the city in 2014 By Toronto Life
She’s the quirkiest, funniest and most watchable member of The Social, CTV’s answer to The View, and the active ingredient in its success. The show, now in its second season, reaches 2.4 million viewers weekly (up 300,000 from Season One) and has reeled in such high-watt guests as Katy Perry, Jessica Alba, Jane Lynch and Daniel Radcliffe. Her website, LaineyGossip, attracts… Link to full article FLARE May, 2014 Mother Clucker By Maureen Halushak
In her new “sort of” memoir, Lainey Gossip’s ELAINE LUI divulges her most personal scoop yet: the inner workings of her insanely close relationship with her mom, semi-affectionately known as the Squawking Chicken. Over dim sum, MAUREEN HALUSHAK observes the dynamic. Read on for the full experience, plus an exclusive excerpt… Link to full article
As a meteorologist, Ginger Zee has covered almost every major weather disaster in her career—the California wildfires, Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Matthew and a ton of others. But the storms she’s chased were nothing compared to the internal tempests wrecking her psyche.
Inspired by a waterspout she saw over Lake Michigan and running towards it instead of away as everyone else on the beach did, the eight year old became fascinated by weather, earning a science meteorology degree at Valparaiso University. The EMMY-winning Zee worked as a meteorologist (and please don’t call her a weather girl) at TV stations in Grand Rapids and Chicago, is now the chief meteorologist for ABC News,
Married with two children, fit, intelligent, and successful, many might think she has it all. But there have been times when Zee avoided looking in mirrors.
And no, that’s not a typo. Zee’s self-esteem was so low that she couldn’t stand to see her reflection. At times in her life, Zee also struggled with anorexia around the time of her parents’ divorce, attempted suicide, was deeply depressed, and was sexually abused.
Now, she can laugh while showing a touch of class when responding to people who write to her idisparaging her looks. Really, people do that kind of stuff. I’m assuming that’s because they’re the most beautiful people in the world.
Suffering from Low Self-Esteem
It was the latter that convinced her she needed to share her story, that indeed she owed it to people to tell about all she’d been through, that got her to write another book. It came after watching a replay of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on “Good Morning America.” Ford had alleged that she had been sexually assaulted when a teen by two young men during a party. One of them was a nominee for the Supreme Court and Ford was suddenly thrust into the spotlight.
From there, Zee and I discuss how in the not so distant past, women were often to blame for sexually harassment or abuse as in, “if you hadn’t worn that short skirt” or “you shouldn’t have agreed to go to his apartment.”
“The realization was the impetus and I start diving really deep with my therapist no matter how difficult it is,” she says. “Trauma doesn’t leave your body. The shame and the feelings have to go somewhere. What I wasn’t doing is going past my trauma. Once you get past it, life is so much better. There’s so much relief in letting go of the responsibility for something we had no control over.”
Zee hopes the book will help others talk more freely and avoid being judgemental.
“I think of my therapist as my personal trainer for the brain,” she says.
These realizations helped Zee who sees herself in a much healthier place now that she is able to work through her feelings.
“The shame isn’t on me, that’s how therapy helped,” she says. “So did the Me Too Movement. I don’t have to take responsibility for things that I didn’t do and that weren’t my fault. That’s why I knew I had to write this book to help others who are going through what I did.”
“People ask me when I’m going to retire,” says Florence LaRue, “and I say retire? I know I can’t do what I did when I was 70 but I do have the energy to keep moving and that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
LaRue, now 80-years-old, is certainly on the move. In the month or so between when her publicist contacted me about doing a story about her new book, “Grace in Your Second Act: A Guide to Aging Gracefully,” and the day LaRue called to chat, she’d been touring with the 5th Dimension, a music vocal group that LaRue has been performing with as the lead singer since 1966. Now more than half-a-century later, LaRue, a six-time GRAMMY-Award winner, she is the only remaining original member.
LaRue never planned or even wanted to be a singer.
“There were two things I always wanted to do,” says LaRue who was born in a small town in Pennsylvania. “One was to teach—I had a wonderful 5th grade teacher, and the other was to act.”
Indeed, LaRue, a graduate of California State was just starting to teach when she fulfilled her duty as the 1962 winner of the Miss Bronze California by crowning her successor. When Jet Magazine photographer Lamonte McLemore had a different plan. His cousin, gospel singer Billy Davis Jr., and Ron Towson were putting together a group called the Versailles.
“He came up and said he wanted me to be in their group,” says LaRue who agreed to do it for fun just for a while.
The Versailles isn’t a group many people remember. But they do know The 5th Dimension which between 1967 and 1973 charted 20 Top 40 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 with songs such as “Go Where You Wanna Go,” “One Less Bell to Answer,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Never My Love,” and “(Last Night) I didn’t Get to Sleep at All.” Their 1967 song “Up – Up and Away” and 1969’s “Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” both won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Aquarius achieved tremendous success, shooting up to number one where it stayed for six weeks, selling over a million copies in less than a month.
“I owe my career to winning that contest,” says LaRue. “Years later a man came up to me and said I know you don’t remember me, but I was one of the judges. All the other young ladies came out wearing their gowns and sang. But when you came out in a white suit with a white hat, holding the hatbox, singing “April in Paris” in French, Eartha Kitt turned and said to us, ‘There’s your winner.”
LaRue does some acting but never had the time to pursue it as a fulltime career. When I suggest that singing on stage is a form of acting, she quickly but sweetly corrects me.
“I have to feel what I’m singing,” she says. “There’s no acting to it. If I don’t feel it, I can’t do my best.”
Feeling it is also part of LaRue wrote “Grace in Your Second Act.” She wants older women to embrace their lives as they grow older.
“Don’t regret growing older,” she says. “It’s a privilege denied to many.”
But her book is not only for those who are in their second act. The best way to prepare for the second act, she says, is by taking care of yourself during your first act.
It worries her that people don’t eat well, consume to much sugar, and don’t exercise. Before she called at 10 a.m., LaRue had already done her exercises and walked a mile to get ready for her day.
We end out phone call with LaRue taking down my address. She’s going to send me her recipe for chicken curry.
“It’s one of my favorites, I’m sure you’ll like it,” she tells me.
In many ways his book is a behind the scenes look at the Notre Dame Fighting Irish but for those who groan at the thought of another football book, Brooks wants you to know it’s more than that. He discusses both the highs and lows of his life and career, offering a human look at being a gridiron star as he takes us on his personal journey, often peppering his book with humorous anecdotes. That includes the time he scored a 20-yard touchdown against the University of Michigan in 1993 while unconscious.
“I didn’t even know I was knocked down,” says Brooks about the incident where, after catching a pass, he was able to break through six Wolverine tackles—the last knocking him out—and still managing to make it across the finish line before falling face first in the end zone.
“I didn’t really know about the play until I saw it on Sunday during our film session and team meeting,” he says.
Brooks, a Notre Dame tailback, ended his senior year with 1,372 rushing yards, averaging about 8 yards a carry and scoring 13 touchdowns. He was named an All-American, finished fifth in the voting that year for the Heisman Trophy and was selected in the second round of the 1993 NFL by the Washington Redskins. But after a stellar first year in the league, his career started stalling, in part, he believes by a disagreement he had with the management over the team’s use of his image.
Welcome to the NFL. For Brooks, it seemed that he had upset the wrong people and paid the price for doing so. But he’s self-aware of how he responded. Feeling as if he were drowning he retreated into himself and didn’t avail himself of the help he was offered. Brooks’ experiences in the NFL reinforced his realization of how important Notre Dame had been in his life.
“It allowed me to see more clearly how special my teammates at Notre Dame were and what it meant to be a college football player,” he writes. “It’s the maturity you have to develop and the care for the others—even if you do not consciously think about it.”
He also saw the power of the Notre Dame network and how it opened doors for him when he was struggling—how the kindness of those he knew there helped him find his way.
When I ask what impact he hopes his book will have on readers, Brooks responds that he wants to show how his life and Notre Dame intertwined.
“I also want to get people to realize the value of ‘you’ and what ‘you’ bring to the community,” he says.
His father was his first coach and taught him the importance of treating others well. The emphasis was not on football as a way make a lot of money (though no one is arguing that isn’t nice) but the impact you can have on others.
“I still struggle with fandom,” he says. And we laugh about the old saw about never believing in your own press clippings—in other words not letting the hype change who you are.
“Those who are just starting are as important as the most famous,” he says.
Married to his college sweetheart, Christina Brooks, the couple have five children. Until recently Reggie Brooks worked for Notre Dame as the university’s Director of Student-Athlete Alumni Relations/Engagement and participated in after game shows. Recently he accepted the position of executive director of Holtz’s Heroes Foundation which precipitated a move from South Bend, Indiana to Prairie View, Texas. But that move was in part participated with his wife getting a job in Fort Worth and it was time, he said, to support her as she had always supported his career and many moves.
Still there was a sense of loss about leaving. Brooks had followed his brother Tony, who also played football, to the university after high school, played there throughout college and then returned. He loves the school’s values. When I tell him my brother taught accountancy there for 30 years and never ever was pressured to give a break to an athlete, he laughs, saying “You go to class, you do the work, that’s what makes it Notre Dame.”
He makes sure to complement the university’s accounting program as if wanting to assure me that it’s just as glamorous and important as their fabled football program. It’s just what makes him Reggie Brooks.
Eight schools in just as many years, parents divorcing, new step-parents, more divorces, more new homes, overwhelming shyness, red-faced when emotional and almost always feeling out of place. It doesn’t sound like the prerequisites for Kirk Herbstreit’s stellar career as a sportscaster and star of CollegeGameDay.
But Herbstreit always had football and no matter what school he landed in, he made the team, and he was a star. It might not have been enough—not with a stepmother who didn’t mind entertaining male guests in front of her stepson when his father was out of town, a barely tolerable stepfather, and constantly saying goodbye to friends, attempting to make new ones, and trying to hide out in the back row of the classroom in his newest school. But what else could a kid like Herbstreit learn to do but stuff his feelings deep inside and throw the ball. It worked.
For a while.
Herbstreit was playing for Ohio State University just as his father had. But things weren’t going well. He didn’t quite fit in with the program. Suddenly he wasn’t a star. He was barely on the team.
On the phone Herbstreit seems like the kind of guy you could talk to for hours. He’s friendly, he’s chatty, he listens, he doesn’t need to dominate the conversation, he’s open about his feelings, and he cries at sentimental movies.
So what happened to the stuffing feelings thing?
“I’ve come a long way from what I was,” says Herbstreit. “I just evolved.”
But it was more than that. He took a huge step. It seems there’s was this funky looking OSU team doctor.
“He had this look to him,” Herbstreit recalls about the team’s therapist. It’s not an unusual comment about psychiatrists.
“It was 1990, forget 2021,” says Herbstreit about deciding to talk to a mental health professional. “I remember going into his office looking over both my shoulders, like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. I was very standoffish, giving the answers he might want to hear. I was just giving him canned answers, then he started talking to me about my background, saying tell me about your mom, your dad, and I suddenly started talking about what I’d been through. He was the first person I really talked to about all this. He became my confident, my guy. I was skipping when I went into his office. When the season ended, I went up to get three different awards, the last time I went up was to get the most valuable player, I just got it out, I said there’s this guy, it was such a credibly positive experience. It was a game changer.”
Herbstreit was the youngest of three siblings, John and Teri, who after their parents’ divorce lived with their mother, a struggling car sales person. When she didn’t sell a car, they didn’t eat. They often scrounged for food. Their father? Missing in action. But to give him his due, he may have taken one too many hard blows to the head while playing football for Ohio State. It changed him, Herbstreit’s mother claimed. Whatever the cause, his father was remote and withdrew from his kids’ life for long periods after the divorce. He married a woman who kicked John out of the house. Teri took over a big part of parenting her younger brother, giving up a big chunk of what should have been her fun years.
But Herbstreit revered his father, no matter what. When the family still lived together, he would go down to the basement and lovingly unpack his father’s football momentous from his days as a player and then coach at OSU. And there was his dad’s Captain’s Mug—the ultimate trophy.
And in Herbstreit’s last year at Ohio, he would get his own OSU Captain’s Mug.
How often does that happen?
“In 130 years in football it’s happened three times,” says Herbstreit, who after a pause adds, “some kids go through divorce angry, I never had that, I just wanted my dad. He was my hero—he was Zeus, he was Superman, when I finally got voted captain, the first person I wanted to call was my dad.”
But his father had a hard time listening. It taught Herbstreit, the father of four sons, how important it was to listen to his kids.
After his senior year, Herbstreit was offered a totally awesome job as a medical supply sales rep—six figures, a company car, and 401k plan. But he wanted to be a sports talk show host and he also had an offer doing just that. It paid $12,000 with no benefits. Seems like an easy decision. It was. Herbstreit took the radio sports job with WBNS 1460. He worked his way up.
And then he got the call. A try out for CollegeGame Day. He was a disaster—he was visibly sweating, and his face was bright red. Afterwards the only thing Herbstreit could remember was that he jabbered away but not what he said. Oh and he did remember Lee Corso kindly telling him over and over again to relax. It was bust he thought, knowing he was up against the much better known Mike Adamle who was considered a shoo-in for the job.
But we know how it turned out. Herbstreit has been on College GameDay for more than 30 years.
As long as we’re talking football, does Herbstreit have any comments on Justin Fields, the new Chicago Bears quarterback?
“Congratulations, congratulations, you’ve got a great player, who has a chip on his shoulder and is competitive, the players will love their teammate,” says Herbstreit in what is music to a Bears fan’s ears.