Terry came up with the idea. Terry dreamed up the name. Terry designed a logo. Terry secured the address. Terry solicited the first guest pieces. Terry created the Facebook and Twitter pages. Terry came up with early ideas. Terry wrote the first post. Terry remains the driving force.
So I guess it’s time I drop my lawsuit to get the name changed to FuryTV.
TVFury was born a year ago today, when Terry wrote a short, somewhat cryptic message that included a picture of a headless torso wearing a shirt emblazoned with his name. Since then we’ve published something every weekday, haven’t missed a one. We’ve written a lot about the St. John’s football team and even more about the Lakers (well, I’ve written about those things). We’ve written about technology and the future and school reading programs. We’ve written about life in New York City and life at a modern newspaper. We’ve welcomed numerous guest writers and attempted to make them feel at home, even while reminding them to use coasters and take their shoes off before entering. We’ve conducted podcasts with each other that ones of people have listened to and done pods with business owners that hundreds have listened to. We’ve conducted interviews with some of the best writers in the country.
It’s been a fun year.
Commemorative issues of anything — newspapers, magazines, zines, poorly stapled pamphlets — are often criticized. “Look at this, just look at it! Write something new! Quit living in the past! No one cares about your 75th anniversary in print or your 500th issue or, for god’s sake, your first birthday.” Even so. We’re doing this party up the right way. This isn’t just a look back or a pat-on-the-back post. There are new words and insight, along with some old memories. We’ve brought a band in for the festivities, along with some dancers, jugglers, dancing jugglers, pretty girls, ugly waiters, a well-trained security force and some special guests. So please sit back and enjoy the First Ever Annual TVFury Birthday Anniversary Party Spectacular Event.
The first paragraph of this post is completely accurate. Terry emailed me last June, talking about an idea he had to start a site where we’d just write. It wasn’t really anything we’d ever discussed in the 10 years we’d known each other, but after I read his plan it took me about 10 seconds to say yes. With Terry involved I knew it wouldn’t just be something we talked about but never put together, which are the type of plans I have inside my head.
Terry’s a man of action; somewhere in his parents’ house sits a report card from second grade when his teacher said little Terry is a “real go-getter, but needs to stop talking outloud about James Lofton.” I worked with Terry in Fargo, where I toiled away on the copy desk while he wrote about high school and college sports, even while he was still in college. He eventually became an outstanding reporter, a superb writer and a tireless worker. In fact Terry’s the hardest worker I’ve ever been around at a publication. As you read this, he’s probably on the phone with his eighth coach of the day or writing six different stories for the paper. At Fargo, he would send his first story on a game for our early deadline, then send an “optional”, which included quotes, color and a rewrite, the type of thing AP writers do each night but was rare for us.
We haven’t worked together in eight years but stayed in touch. His idea came along at a perfect time. I run my own blog — please click to read outstanding stories about things like Little House on the Prairie reruns! — but had run out of steam with it by last summer. Writing for TVFury has re-energized me as a writer and I’m still grateful for Terry’s original brainstorm. It also re-energized my friendship with Terry, as we’ve gone from exchanging an email every few months to several every day. We talk ideas and future posts or, if both our secretaries are off for the day, the mechanics of running TVFury on a daily basis. So give Terry a hand, folks, for all he’s done.
But what do you think, does FuryTV sound cooler? Okay, okay.
FAVORITE READER SEARCHES
On the occasion of our 100th post — TVFury will never shy away from commemorating anniversaries, birthdays or a random number of posts — I wrote about some of the more intriguing searches people run that lead them to our site. Some more recent additions:
* “Joel Maturi incompetent.” Not much love out there for the former Gophers athletic director. Note the statement, even if it is missing a verb. It wasn’t a question: Is Joel Maturi incompetent? No, it was someone sick of watching the Gophers football team lose to teams from the Dakotas and watching the basketball team collapse when the start of the new year arrives. Poor Joel.
* “Are the blind sleepy all the time?” Yes.
* “Paul McCartney physical relationship John Lennon” Huh. Well, David Bowie and Mick Jagger have been in the news the past few days so who knows.
* “Michael Kruse outlining” This person found my interview with newspaper writer Michael Kruse, who detailed his obsessive outlining routine. Check it out if you haven’t read it before, it’s a fascinating look into the work of one of the country’s best.
* “Stages of a beard.” Uh, I don’t know: Few hairs; scruffy; looking good, John; Gasol-like; Mountain Man; Unabomber; mangy; trimmed; no, just get rid of it.
ARE WE RECORDING? THE TVFURY PODCAST
In many ways, I remain way behind the times when it comes to technology. I still record programs on the VCR. I don’t know how to download songs from Apple. Smartphone? My phone was held back a grade, it sits in the corner eating paste. But Terry is a big techie. He knows how things work and is up-to-date on products that have been released post Y2k. He runs a podcast as part of his dayjob and also originated the TVFury podcast.
Check out the archives here. Many are simply 30 minutes of Terry talking to me. And while those are fairly entertaining — so say 37 percent of TVFury readers who aren’t related to us — Terry has also conducted several cool interviews with other people, like the one that features small businesses and beer or a chat with an intern who suffered through Charlotte’s hideous NBA season.
Terry conducts our talks in his basement, occasionally while babysitting, and he always sounds crisp and clear, partly because he has a voice that was made for radio (don’t worry, his face was also made for television). Unfortunately, I never know how close I should sit next to my computer or if I should rest it on my chest or hold it up to my face or turn my speakers up or down and I occasionally sound like I’m chatting from inside a Supermax prison facility in the Rocky Mountains.
One of the cool things Terry started — that guy again — involved inviting guest posts. We’ve developed a cool little stable of regulars, along with one-off posts from a variety of writers and thinkers. All of the guest posts are here.
A pair of guys I play hoops with — Greg Downs and Jay Rosenberg, New York fellas — wrote guests posts earlier in the year, Greg on Kentucky and Rick Pitino and Jay on his dislike/hatred/loathing of Boston. And our old Fargo Forum colleague Eric Peterson wrote about his trip to Ireland.
Our two most frequent Guesties are Rich Jensen and Dan Frasier, who have both made superb contributions to the site, despite the fact one of them is an avid Celtics fan. Among Rich’s top posts was a critique of the new logo of the Brooklyn Nets, a piece that continues to pull in quite a bit of traffic, from hoopheads and font-heads. And one of my favorite pieces of Dan’s was his story on quail hunting.
We welcome contributions from one and all. Provided you don’t write about the Celtics or St. Thomas.
THAT LINNEMANN FELLOW
The first Fury Files I did was with former St. John’s quarterback Tom Linnemann, who was one of the most quotable athletes you’d ever meet when he played and today is surely the most quotable Target executive. The Q&A with Linnemann proved to be endlessly entertaining, thanks to his wit, honesty and fearlessness in speaking about anything and everything. With the passing of the late, great Dark Star, there’s a big void on FSN’s The Sports Show; I always thought Linnemann, a fixture on the Twin Cities media scene, would be a perfect replacement. Alas, Linnemann has now moved to Toronto, where we’ll probably soon see him on local broadcasts offering opinions on the Jays and Argonauts.
Funny thing about Linnemann: Whenever I know he’s traveling, it always seemed like we had a lot of searches of his name leading to our site. After hanging out with him for a few hours in New York last December, I’m convinced the people searching for his name are hungover bar patrons with vague details about the previous night. All they remember is some guy buying them shot after shot after shot while talking about Melrose, Minnesota, and his dislike of the Bethel football team. They log on to their computer and think, “Was it Linnemann? Tom, right? Yeah, search for that. Or Tommy Linnemann. Or Linnemann Minnesota.”
The Linnemann Q&A also produced our most vulgar, yet entertaining, reader comment, from a person who accused me of being a groupie. I’m not.
TRYING NEW THINGS
Terry uses TVFury as an excuse to try a little bit of everything in life and most of the experiences end up being entertaining, educational or, at least on one memorable occasion, fairly disastrous.
Terry reviewed Hunger Games for us, despite knowing nothing about the series going into the late-night showing. He checked out a hot new club in Sioux Falls (come on, don’t laugh) and tried Ecstasy for the first time (no, he didn’t). He tours cities for us. He drank fancy beers…and regretted it.
And, perhaps most amusingly, and, yes, alas, disastrously, in an event that did not quite go according to plan, he served as the MC for a great cause. Perhaps my favorite graf in his piece:
At one point, I literally said something to the effect of, “I could say anything right now and it wouldn’t matter because no one is listening.” Making matters worse, the less funny others found me to be, the more funny I found myself to be. My 8-year-old daughter, one of the unfortunate witnesses, reported as much to my wife afterward. The other confirmed criticism: A 15-year-old girl, bound for Macy’s, scowling and wondering aloud, “Who is this emcee?”
Terry will try anything in the name of a blog post. Someday he’ll maybe take a trip up in the air with the Blue Angels or undergo Navy Seal training or perform as a tackling dummy for Ray Lewis in some bizarre participatory experiment, George Plimpton gone bad. People will wonder what in the hell that Vandrovec guy was thinking. But you’ll get to read about it on Monday morning.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S TVFURY!
Life is never dull in the big city, except on those lonely nights in upper Manhattan when I’m alone in our apartment, eating cereal and watching videos of Lakers games from the 1984 playoffs. But lots of things have happened since TVFury started. An earthquake hit. Kevin Durant dunked on Michael Beasley five minutes from my apartment and then Michael Beasley shoved a dude in the face. Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed banning giant sodas, and I whimpered. A fire devastated my neighborhood.
As much fun as Terry has writing about things he does during his spare time, he remains the ultimate newspaper guy. I’ve been out of newspapers now for nearly a decade. A decade? That seems impossible, because I retain countless memories of my days and nights spent at offices in Worthington and Fargo, and not just because of, as Terry might say, my freakish ability to remember moments and experiences. No, I remember them because of the people I met, the stories I read and wrote and the crazy times I survived. I wrote about some of my early struggles. The newspaper world is much different than it was even eight years ago, and different in this case is not a good thing. Cuts and furloughs remain an ever-present reality. But despite that, hundreds — thousands — of newspaper folks continue to produce amazing coverage every day.
And Terry is one of those people — and one of the best. Occasionally he sheds some light on his day job in a TVFury post, and they always add unique insight, even to someone who knows all about the newspaper world, even if I’m not completely aware of today’s reality. Check out his piece on taking — or, in this case, not taking — vacation time from his work, a piece that generated some great discussion. Then in June, Terry attended a convention in North Carolina, where he received an award for being the top sports writer in South Dakota. Newspapers are in a tough spot. The future is unknown. But as long as guys like Terry work in them, they’ll be a great read.
At this point it’s too late to change the name, right? When I originally started doing these Q&As, I thought Fury Files would be a temporary name, a placeholder, until I came up with a more original title. But at this point? It’s grown on me. I sorta like it. It’s short and conveys the idea that if you open these files up, you’ll learn some new information. No, they’re not secret files, but they’re still filled with worthwhile words.
And damn are they fun to do. Maybe I shouldn’t be so happy with them. I mean, they’re my posts, under my name, but the best parts of the interviews are the words of the subjects. Are they making me look bad? Okay, that’s it, Fury Files are finished!
Actually they’ll continue as long as people continue to graciously provide their time and talent to the Q&As. I’m admittedly pretty proud of them and I have two lined up that are going to be a lot of fun, one that will be a paradise for fans of classic NBA hoops (warning, there will be a lot of Showtime Lakers talk) and another with Grantland’s outstanding Brian Phillips. And if you haven’t seen the ones so far, please check them out.
It started with Linnemann and included Michael Kruse and his outlines and his perfect sentences. We’ve also learned about the new world of the MSHSL from John Millea, put together an all-star team of Twin Cities journalists with media critic David Brauer, chatted with Joe Posnanski about Joe Paterno (this particular Fury Files earns title of Worst Timing Ever), immersed ourselves in the world of Division III sports with D3 guru Pat Coleman, talked writing and life and football with Kevin Van Valkenburg, learned about endings from Esquire’s Chris Jones, and heard about life at SI with Chris Ballard.
As long as people keep answering my emails, I’ll keep writing them. Wait, Fury’s Fantastic Files…better?
Well that’s about it for the party. We only had the beer hall for a few hours and I don’t think anyone’s going to miss that band we hired. I thought the fourth playing of Stairway to Heaven was too much, especially because they only whistled it. That’s TVFury’s first year, give or take about 150 more posts that you’re always free to read in the archives.
Both of us have had a blast writing on the site; there’s really no other reason to do it. Hopefully people have enjoyed a few of our posts, whether they focused on the Lakers or travels or newspapers or life in South Dakota or life in New York City. The site actually means a lot to us. It’s a place for us to write and for us to read other writers or to chat with folks from all walks of life.
There’s one other thing about TVFury. And really it’s the most important thing. It’s been a place for us to remember and to mourn, a place for us to write about great people during terrible times. It’s a place to come to when there are no words, but when words are really all you have. Last September Terry wrote about the anniversary of the death of his daughter Breley Ann Vandrovec and the birth of little Kailey. A few weeks later, I wrote about my friend Keith, who took his own life at the age of 39. These were surely the two most personal posts on our site. I’m grateful TVFury was around and gave us an outlet for those pieces, even though I’d give anything to live in a world where there would have never been a need to write them.
We don’t write about life and death every day. No, we certainly don’t do that. But TVFury is a part of our life now, and life isn’t always the easiest of things. This is our little home, during all the good times and the rare bad times. We’re happy to be here.
And we’re glad you could join us.