Squirrel!

Well, as you can see, this nice couple of bears have been residing under the big tree outside our house for the holidays.

A couple of bears happily hanging out on the bench underneath the big tree outside our house.

All was well.

Until …

One of our neighborhood squirrels developed an attraction to one of the bear’s hats.

So, THAT’S where the bear’s hat went!!

Nuts!

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A Christmas Video Present From Us To You

Just in time for Christmas, here’s a little video present from us to you.

This is a song Steve wrote and recorded at Jim Peterik‘s World Stage studio. Except for the drum track, Steve played all the instruments. The idea for the song first popped up in the late 90’s when we hosted the “Street Carols” concerts at the Star Plaza Theatre, in Merrillville, Indiana.

The promotional tag line for the concerts was “Christmas From The Roots Of Rock & Roll.” That tag line was too good not to be a song and now a video, so now it is.

The song was recorded a while ago but, 2020 being what it is and needing whatever fun we can find for it, this seemed like the time to add a video to the lyrics. While this is a Christmas song, don’t be surprised if you find an Easter egg or two slipped in to the video.

Christmas From The Roots Of Rock & Roll Video

Hopefully, you’ll enjoy the song and Santa will recover from the trauma.

Have a very Merry Christmas … and stay safe.

Steve & Johnnie

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How About Some Eggnog Cake!

If you’re like us, it’s not the holidays without eggnog! But, if you’re like us, you think it’s too sweet, too rich and has too many calories. So, why drink it when you can eat it and it’s wonderfully gluten-free?

Eggnog Cake With A Dusting Of Powdered Sugar

Eggnog cake:

Preheat oven to 350

Grease bundt pan well

1 (15 or 17 oz) box yellow cake mix (I use Pillsbury gluten free classic yellow available at most grocery stores)

1 pk vanilla instant pudding 

1 cup egg nog

4 large eggs

1/3 c oil

1/4 c water

1 tsp vanilla extract1 tsp rum extract(optional but adds to the nogginess of the flavor)

Glaze:

1/4 c melted butter

1/4 c egg nog

1/2 tsp vanilla extract1/2 tsp rum extract

2 cups powdered (confectioners)sugar

Mix cake mix and dry pudding mix. Add nog and eggs and oil blend well Add water and extracts mix well. Pour into well greased bundt pan and smooth surface
Bake at 350 45-55 mins 

Remove from oven and cool 10 mins before turning out onto plate
Cool cake while mixing glaze

For the glaze melt the 1/4 c butter. Add nog to melted butter. Add extracts then blend in 2 cups of powdered sugar. Stir until sugar melts into butter/nog combo. If it becomes thick before sugar is incorporated put back on low flame to warm the sugar and stir til no more lumps.
Pour over cooled cake.

Betcha can’t eat just one slice!

**The eggnog cake pictured has powdered sugar on it, not glaze**

Enjoy … and stay safe!

Johnnie

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December 8, 1980

40 years ago I was getting ready to come in and do my overnight shift on Chicago’s WIND radio when I heard a news bulletin that said John Lennon had been shot.

When I got to the station, I was surprised that Clark Weber, who did the show before mine, hadn’t switched from his game plan to cover the story. I told my producer, Cheryl Morton, that we were going to scrap what we had planned and devote the show to covering the unfolding story.

John Lennon in the Beatles’ movie, “Help!”

For the next 5 hours, along with tracking down guests who knew Lennon and getting updates from New York and Liverpool, it felt like I was hosting a radio version of a psychiatrist’s office with callers who just needed to vent, share memories, cry and just express their disbelief at what had happened.

Excerpt From Chicago Media Critic Ron Alridge’s Column In The Chicago Tribune

It was a night I won’t forget and a loss that, to this day, is a definable part of the DNA of those of us who lived it.

Steve

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Happy Birthday, Dick Clark!

This isn’t Throwback Thursday but, Monday, November 30th, would have been, the legendary, Dick Clark‘s 91st birthday.

We had the extreme pleasure of hosting several ALS Mammoth Music Mart events with Dick and having him on our show many times.

Johnnie, Dick Clark & Steve at an ALS Mammoth Music Mart appearance

This man defined the term “class act.” If we had an interview scheduled with Dick and we saw the hot line ringing at the scheduled time, we didn’t have to wait for our producer to screen the call, we knew it would be Dick. Not a minute earlier, not a minute later, always right on time, always prepared and, unlike some well known personalities we sometimes felt we had to pull answers out of, always “on” for the interview.

One night as we were interviewing him, Dick mentioned that he’d just returned from a celebrity event. Johnnie asked him what he was wearing and he said that, since he’d just gotten home and was changing out of his tux, at the moment, he was naked. He laughed and told us he just looked at himself in the mirror. Then, like the teen girls in his audience for years, squealed “I Look Good” parodying the James Brown song. So, we probably have the distinction of being the only people who interviewed a naked Dick Clark.

In his later years, his bravery in still maintaining a pubic profile after his stroke was inspiring. He was a true professional and a genuinely nice guy we will always feel privileged for having known.

Posted in Appearances, Music, Partly Personal, Radio, WGN | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Some Saturday-After-Thanksgiving Fun!

Another tradition the pandemic sidelined this year was our annual Thanksgiving show on WGN radio with Muriel Anderson as our special guest. We always looked forward to that show and attending Muriel’s Saturday-After-Thanksgiving Concert.

Muriel Anderson with Johnnie & Steve

Well, the good news is that, this Saturday, Muriel will be doing a virtual version of that concert with another of our dear friends, Tommy Emmanuel, as her special guest!!

Muriel Anderson & Tommy Emmanuel

They’ll be appearing remotely from Nashville, for an evening of world-class acoustic music, audience interaction, and celebration. You can participate in the show from your home while you enjoy some home-made fudge, and still have a chance to win a new Washburn guitar donated by Tobias Music, mailed to your home!

THIS is going to be a really special, fun evening! Just click this link for all the details.

One of the many wonderful gifts our years together in broadcasting has provided is being able to count Muriel and Tommy, two of the world’s greatest guitarists, as dear friends.

If you’ve never seen them, trust us, you’re in for a REAL treat …. and you’ll be able to stay safe while you enjoy it!

Steve & Johnnie

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Thanksgiving 2020

It’s probably a significant understatement to say that Thanksgiving 2020 will be unlike any we’ve previously experienced, but … here we are.

We are living through – and, hopefully, will survive – a pandemic.

Who’d a thunk it?

Nope, never had a Thanksgiving like this and we’d be very happy if there are no repeats.

However, one thing that is the same this year for us, and probably for many of you, is that, regardless of how we celebrate – or don’t – memories of Thanksgivings past step to the front of the line in our mind’s “highlight reel”. So, if you will indulge us, we’d like to share a couple of those past highlights.

Coming of age in the 50’s on the South side of Chicago, some of my (Steve) fondest early Thanksgiving memories were, and still are, of gatherings that frequently included someone I would be meeting for the first time. Quite often, family members would be augmented by a friend or two who, otherwise, would have been spending the day by themselves or, in some cases, happened to be in Chicago for the first time and didn’t know many people, so one of us invited them to join us.

My recollection is that these additions always added to the festiveness of the occasion and enlivened the conversation. For some reason, the dessert part of the meal always seemed to be the point of the evening when the conversation got really good. I don’t know if it was because everyone was stuffed and feeling relaxed or just that, by that time in the evening, even a newcomer was feeling more like they were with friends and began opening up. Or, it might have been my Dad’s inquisitive nature and ability to make sure everyone was included in the conversation. Now that I think of it, he would have made a very good talk show host. In any case, those early Thanksgiving memories always make me smile.

After we got married, Thanksgiving became one part of a two-pronged holiday celebration that included spending Thanksgiving, in Munster, Indiana, with Steve’s brother Lee and his husband, John, at their house. Then they, along with some extended family, headed north to spend Christmas at our house. John became known as “Chef John” and, for decades, his stuffin’ muffin recipe became a requested part of our Thanksgiving shows on WGN radio.

Sadly, our host extraordinaire, John, passed away a few years ago. We know he’d be happy that we continue the tradition of eating on his fine china and that chutney, rutabaga and stuffin’ muffins remain on the menu.

In more recent years, our Thanksgiving tradition continued, preceded by our “over the river and through the woods” drive to Munster where, shortly after arriving, unpacking the car and greeting Lee and some wonderful extended family friends, Johnnie’s Dad, also named John, follows the already tempting smells to the kitchen with his knives in hand and begins carving the turkey as Johnnie oversees the annual, after dinner, pie extravaganza.

Johnnie and the pie extravaganza!

Believe it or not, some years we tried to have one pie for every person in attendance, most of them made by Johnnie! We really don’t remember when or how this pie tradition got started but, trust us, no one objects to it!

As was the case in the early 50s Thanksgivings, along with the holiday warmth that is accentuated by Lee’s decorations (For example, the movie posters in his entertainment room are changed to match the season!) and the wonderful meal, one of the real highlights of the evening continues to be the fun and fascinating conversational journeys that unfold as the evening, too soon, plays out.

Yes, we know how fortunate we are to have moments like these to look back on. Sadly, far too many people have never known and will never know the luxury of having a “highlight reel” to call on in a year like 2020.

This year, like many of you, Thanksgiving gatherings with a house full of people will be the stuff of memories and conversations as we do our best to stay safe … and survive what 2020 has brought to our table.

At our house, the two of us along with Johnnie’s Dad, who lives with us, will make a new kind of Thanksgiving memory. In Munster, along with Tim, a dear extended family friend, Lee will do the same.

It’s fair to say that, along with recalling some of Thanksgiving’s best from our past, we’ll also spend a little time looking to the future and hoping that this time next year we’ll be able to enjoy the holidays with houses filled with people … and hug every one of them.

Oh, just one more thing…

Flying in the face of 2020, the Wonderful Tree Lady arrived to spread her magic throughout our house. We thought it was only appropriate to share some of that magic with friends, so here you go.

The Wonderful Tree Lady’s Thanksgiving Tree

Then, this little guy saw the lights and rode over to see what was going on.

And then, some friendly pilgrims came by to share a recipe or two. For some strange reason, the turkey quickly ducked out right after this picture was taken.

From our house to your house, we wish you a holiday season filled with warm, special, memories that you’ll treasure for a long time.

Stay safe.

Steve & Johnnie

Posted in Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Holidays, Johnnie's Trees, Partly Personal, WGN | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

2020 Toyota RAV4 Limited Video Road Test!

Our Video Road Test of the 2020 Toyota RAV4 Limited has just been posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website. 

To see and hear what we think of this perennial best seller for Toyota, just click on the link above to take a test drive with us.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Limited

And don’t forget, if you want to check some of our previous road tests and some of the other goodies we’ve been pouring into the Daily Drive tank, just point your browser right here.

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Happy Birthday, Roy Rogers!

Roy Rogers (1911–1998) was born on November, 5th.

Roy Rogers “The King Of The Cowboys” & Trigger, “The Smartest Horse In The Movies”

With everything else that’s occupying our headline space and head space right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if remembering the legendary ROY ROGERS on his birthday wasn’t on your radar.

When I was growing up, the “King Of The Cowboys” was my favorite. All these years later, I remain a fan and the more I learn about my first childhood hero the more pleased I am to learn that when he stepped away from the camera his personality didn’t suddenly change. Everything I’ve come across tells me that this was a man you and I would have been proud to know.

Sadly, although Johnnie and I interviewed Roy’s son Dusty several times, I never had the chance to meet Roy. I had to smile when, thanks to our friend Jon Paris, this really rare photo of Roy and some friends at actress Myrna Loy‘s home, in 1943 (the year I was born), popped up in my Facebook feed.

Roy Rogers, Sonny Tufts, Les Paul, Cal Goodin, Clint Nordquist, and Tommy Todd (piano) at Myrna Loy’s home in 1943 – photo by Walt Davis

I shouldn’t have been surprised that Les Paul knew Roy Rogers because, as was evidenced in our many conversations with him, it seemed Les knew everybody. Obviously, I wasn’t there, but the music that two of my all-time heroes might have been making started playing on the jukebox in my head.

Happy Trails,” indeed. And, yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” they’re having a little jam session today.

Happy Birthday, Roy!

Steve

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VOTE!

We abandoned our “safer at home” environment for a little while, but it was for a good cause.

The most important item on our “to do” list has now been taken care of.

Here’s hoping you can cross it off your list, too.

Stay safe.

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