Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The book is finally out!

I just returned from Maine, where I taped an interview for one of my former employers, Maine Public Radio. It will run sometime in the next two weeks. And the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram is planning to run something about the book this weekend. (Reviews might also begin appearing in papers this weekend; keep your fingers crossed for me.)

Last week I taped an interview with Marketplace (another former employer), which aired Monday night. (You can listen to it by clicking here.) As a result of the interview, my book hit #5,000-something on the Amazon.com bestseller list (and #2 in the “Sports/Football (American)/Professional” category) yesterday.

In Maine, I had lunch with my friend Colin Woodard (author of Ocean’s End and The Lobster Coast). Colin quite accurately described Amazon as “crack for authors.” I check my Amazon ranking more frequently than I check my e-mail these days!

Speaking of e-mails, I got a very nice one last night from Dick Thornburgh, the former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. attorney general. Somehow a copy of the book ended up in his hands. He said he enjoyed it very much and congratulated me on a job well done. Very cool!

And, speaking of Pennsylvania governors: Tomorrow night (August 31) I will be giving a reading/talk at the Lombard Swim Club in Philadelphia. One of the club’s members is the incumbent governor, Ed Rendell, who also happens to be a huge Eagles fans. Rumor has it that he may show up.

This weekend it’s off to Pittsburgh (and possibly Erie).

Go Steagles!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Nice column about the Steagles (and, more importantly, my book) by John Dudley in yesterday's Erie Times-News:

Steagles book has Erie link

When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles
meet tonight in the NFL preseason, most of Erie will
give only passing notice to the team not wearing black
and gold.

It wasn't always that way.

In fact, we can thank Pennsylvania's other
professional football team for playing the only NFL
regular-season game in the city's history.

On Oct. 26, 1938, the Eagles beat the Chicago
Cardinals 7-0 in front of 12,000 at Academy Stadium -
now known as Veterans Stadium - in what amounted to a
home-away-from-home game during an itinerant period in
league history.

In those days, the Eagles conducted their training
camp on the shores of Lake Erie and developed a
formidable fan base in what would later become Bills,
Browns and Steelers turf.

"The connection was actually quite strong for a long
time," says Matthew Algeo, whose new book, "Last Team
Standing," due in stores Tuesday, chronicles the
Steagles, the patchwork team the NFL created to help
sustain the league during World War II. "I'm pretty
sure that's the only regular season NFL game ever
played in Erie."

Yes, but we'll listen to offers.

Seriously, though, "Last Team Standing" tells the
sometimes-extraordinary story of the men who played
for the Steagles during wartime.

Unable to enlist, they instead divided their workweeks
between defense department factory jobs and the
practice field, all for about as much money as Donovan
McNabb spends on breakfast.

"They were pioneers," says Algeo, a 40-year-old Bucks
County native and Penn graduate. "Hopefully this book
gives them a little recognition for what they did,
which was essentially keeping the NFL going when it
was close to suspending operations during the war."

Algeo, a freelance radio reporter based in West
Africa, where his wife, Allyson, is a foreign service
officer, began researching "Last Team Standing" a few
years ago after attending a Steagles reunion at Heinz
Field.

Before long, he realized he had a story that was equal
parts football and social studies.

In his book, Algeo describes what he calls "the most
interventionist period in our government's history,"
when the monolithic Office of Price Administration
controlled everything from the length of women's
stockings to the amount of money you could pay the
neighbor kid for mowing your lawn.

"When we compare it to everyday life today," Algeo
says, "it was incomprehensible."

Through it all, the Steagles provided some relief from
the daily news of war, and their stories help carry
"Last Team Standing."

Some of the former Steagles, now grandfathered into
the NFL's pension plan, now draw many times more each
month from the league in retirement than they did as
players.

"The coolest thing about the book," Algeo says, "was
meeting those guys who played as far back as 1938 and
realizing how normal they are. They deserve a lot of
credit."

Now, if we could just get them to help arrange an
encore at Veterans Stadium.

Friday, August 25, 2006

My interview on The Ellis Cannon Show in Pittsburgh went well. At least that's what my contacts there tell me. I couldn't actually listen to it, since I have a Mac and the station's website only streams audio for Windows.

Yesterday I taped an interview with Marketplace that is scheduled to run next week. I was also interviewed by a WHYY-FM reporter who's doing a story on the Steagles.

Today, the Erie Times-News is scheduled to run a column about the Steagles (and my book, hopefully). And tonight the Eagles play the Steelers in an exhibition game which (again hopefully) will trigger a mention or two of the Steagles on TV.

My great "Imposing on Friends and Family" tour has moved from Philadelphia to Perkasie (about 30 miles north), so I have gone from sleeping on my sister's couch to my parent's couch.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

My scorched-earth media campaign to promote Last Team Standing begins tonight with an appearance on The Ellis Cannon Show on WPGB in Pittsburgh at 7:45. If you live in Pittsburgh, tune in at 104.7 FM. If you don't, you can still listen on-line.

By the way, I returned to the States last Sunday. The trip from Africa took exactly 25 hours and 40 minutes door-to-door.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Another advance copy of my book has been listed on eBay. The seller notes that an advance copy of a "Harry Botter" book recently sold for more than a thousand dollars. While it is indeed an honor to be compared to (with?) Harry Botter, I just hope my book gets more bids than it did the last time it was listed on eBay!

Friday, August 11, 2006


YouTube has some great old video clips. This one is the closing credits from Eyewitness News on KYW-TV in Philadelphia, circa 1977. I don't even know where to begin. The weatherman looking as animated as a face on Mt. Rushmore? The sports guy's cornea-scorching orange blazer? The music? The "massage parlor" voiceover? The shocking revelation that portions of the program were recorded? The uncomfortably long time the whole thing takes while the four of them sit there with nothing to say or do? The sports guy checking his watch? The black guy finally giving up and leaving the set? It's all so good.

Monday, August 07, 2006

“You can do anything if you set your mind to it.” That’s the point of a public service announcement currently running on AFN. Problem is, there are some things you can’t do, whether you set your mind to it or not. Run a mile in less than three minutes, for example. Or host an Arbor Day telethon. I’d like to see a PSA that says, “Let’s be realistic: Some things are impossible for you to do. Don’t waste your time trying.”

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Literally is literally one of my favorite words, especially when it’s misused. Just last week on “Dr. Phil” (Monday through Friday at 0800 GMT on AFN), a woman said of her divorce, “It’s literally tearing the children apart.” Ouch! Now that is a nasty divorce. Then, last weekend on ESPN, I happened to catch a few minutes of a bass fishing tournament (my viewing options are obviously quite limited), during which one of the announcers described one of the competitors as “literally the Tiger Woods of bass fishing.” I’m not sure what to make of that one. I mean, to literally be the Tiger Woods of anything, don’t you have to be, uh, Tiger Woods? (And the guy he was talking about was definitely NOT Tiger Woods, though I bet Tiger would be a pretty good fisherman if he tried.) But my all-time favorite misuse continues to be something I heard during a Cleveland Browns game on TV many years ago. In describing the Browns’ rabid fans, one of the announcers said: “They literally wear their hearts on their sleeves.”