Author Archive


I’ve taken five different trips to Cape Town. The first time we stayed five weeks. The next two trips my wife stayed a month while I came for two weeks, and last year’s adventure was just a week for me, in and out for my brother-in-law’s wedding, as much time spent in the air than on the ground. But this year, as I returned to the freelance ranks, I’m again here for the long haul — five weeks. Staying with Louise’s family for this long allows us to actually settle in. We get over the jet lag and it starts to feel like home, even though the end of the trip still always comes too soon. The end will come in about two weeks this time.

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Faribault Bethlehem Academy boys basketball coach Franz Boelter announced his retirement on Tuesday. In 36 years of coaching — six in tiny Medford, 30 more in the small private school about 50 miles south of Minneapolis — Boelter went 613-290, the seventh-most victories of any boys basketball coach in state history. He won 14 Gopher Conference championships at B.A., eight district and sub-section titles. His 1993 Cardinals team placed second in the Class A state tournament, back when there were only two classes in Minnesota. A year later the Cardinals placed third. That’s on the basketball court. As volleyball coach at B.A. Boelter has proven even more dominant, winning an astounding six state championships. There are very few coaches in Minnesota — if any outside of former Tracy-Milroy and Marshall coach Terry Culhane — who have enjoyed that type of two-sport success. He will continue on as B.A’s volleyball coach and will continue to contend for state championships.

But to really see Boelter’s greatness as a coach, go back to his Medford years. Medford won the Gopher Conference in 1981 and 1982 and that doesn’t sound like it compares to section and state titles, but after Boelter left Medford won a single Gopher Conference title. No one wins in Medford. Franz did.

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Stop what you’re doing, pick up the remote and start scanning the channels. No matter if you have 10 or 1,000 channels, chances are that right now — whether you’re reading this at 7 in the morning or 11 at night — you will stumble upon Roadhouse. There, on AMC, there it is. Patrick Swayze’s Dalton is talking about pain not hurting, never underestimating your opponent and always being nice. Roadhouse has been a cable staple for three decades and last week AMC put it on one of those loops where it played every six hours, drawing you in each time with bizarre set pieces — seriously, a monster truck? — and ridiculous characters (like, well, everyone, including Sam Elliott’s Wade, brought in by Dalton in a late-season acquisition, like the Lakers picking up Mychal Thompson in 1987 for the stretch drive, if the gregarious Mychal had ended up sprawled out on a bar with a knife in his chest instead of pouring champagne on his teammates after Game 6 of the Finals). I watched parts of it every time I stumbled upon it, and I like it for the same reasons everyone else does: How can you not like a movie about a philosophy-major bouncer — sorry, cooler — who kicks ass and cleans house?

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A little book news

Posted: February 14, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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Blood. Salt. Cod. Spice. Tuna. Fat. Bananas. Potatoes. Milk. Flotsam. And Jetsam. Wood. Garbage. Human waste.

Those are some of the subjects of books the past decade or so. I’ve read many of them — including ones mentioned above — and have enjoyed nearly all of them. The first thought when seeing the title is “How can anyone write an entire book about that one thing” followed by, “Why didn’t I think of that?” These books describe one thing but also write about how it affects the world. They’re about one seemingly small thing that influences nearly everything. Over the years I’ve tried thinking of something that would work for that type of book. What about beds? Or pillows? Pencils? Ink? The problem was everything’s been done, or so it seems. The other problem? If you’re going to write a book it has to be something you care about, and if you’re going to write a good book it should be something you’re passionate about.

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Copy editor at the movies

Posted: February 10, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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If you’ve been in a theater the past month, you’ve probably seen the trailer for the new movie where Liam Neeson kills numerous people while saving others. It’s not the new Taken movie. Instead it’s about an air marshal who finds out someone will kill a passenger unless some money gets wired into a secret account and then that secret account is in Liam’s name and the crew turns against him and all he wants to do is find the madman before the whole damn plane goes down — or up — in flames. The movie is called Non-Stop.

And as I saw the title come up on the big screen during the previews, all I could think was, what kind of style guide was the studio using?

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Here are some links for your reading pleasure.

* There was a beloved composer in Japan who penned some of the most heartbreaking works the country had ever heard. He was also deaf, earning comparisons to Beethoven. Except it turns out he had a ghostwriter who wrote everything and he wasn’t deaf.

* Jeff Pearlman on the 1984 U.S. Olympic hockey team, the team after the Miracle on Ice.

* Pilots on Justin Bieber’s flight had to wear goggles because of the weed.

* Story about a crime reporter who lost everything because of his own meth addiction.

* This New York Magazine story on gentrification in Inwood includes a lengthy interview with our pharmacist, Manny.

* Stephen Moffat answers questions about season 3 of Sherlock.

* Horrifying GQ story about what it’s like to be gay in Putin’s Russia.

* This is a very important story. A complete timeline of all of George Clooney’s pranks. I will not hear anyone saying a bad word about George Clooney. Or his pranks.

* Philip Roth is really enjoying his retirement.

* The New York Times envisions what Manhattan would look like it if hosted the Winter Olympics.

* Alex Pappadamas on Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Let the Games begin

Posted: February 5, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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These might already be the strangest Winter Olympics and they haven’t actually started. Just think how crazy things will get when a bobsled controversy erupts.

The selection of Sochi started the strangeness as no one understood how a small resort area could land the Games, though everyone simply assumed it had to do with bribes, vodka and blackmail. In the weeks leading up to the Olympics stories emerged about how ill-prepared Sochi and Russia were for the influx of athletes, fans and media. And now that those fans, media and athletes have actually arrived, all of the worst-case scenarios appear to be coming true. Journalists have already written about hotels that don’t have running water, venues covered in tarps and roving bands of stray dogs that are looking to feed off humans.

And hanging over everything is the fear of terrorism. Various groups have vowed to strike and many families of athletes chose to stay home. With a sense of dread, I can already picture the breaking news banner on CNN or NBC announcing that something terrible has happened, followed by explanations about black widows and civil war. The best-case scenario is people get affected by various housing or transportation fiascoes. The worst case is almost too difficult to think about, though our imaginations can do just that. Still…people will watch. I’ll watch. I remain a sucker for the Olympics, a wide-eyed sucker who is fully aware of the horrific corruption in the IOC and the host countries and the drugs and the jingoism and everything else.

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It’s a tradition at TVFury that I exchange posts with Terry after world-altering events. The first-ever cold-weather Super Bowl that was held in my own backyard surely qualifies. And so here we go.

FURY: Eh. Anyway. I was actually disappointed in the result. Not just because it was a blowout and everyone hates a Super Bowl blowout, but I wanted the Broncos to win. Not because of any great affinity for Denver. Over the past five or six seasons Peyton Manning became my favorite NFL player and I wanted him to win another Super Bowl. Instead it will be another nine months — or 40 years — of hearing about his legacy and what another Super Bowl loss means and on and on. And I certainly thought Denver had a great chance. And then, as they say, they had the kickoff. Denver’s no-show shouldn’t detract from Seattle, which proved that a dominant defense can still win a championship, even in these pass-happy, scoreboard-busting days. In fact, it’s sort of nice to know that’s possible. But Terry, do you think this game will be remembered more for the team that won it, or the team that lost? Will Seattle get the credit it deserves or will it be all about Denver — specifically Manning’s — failure?

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Getting settled back in to life in NYC. Talked to a friend today who told me how miserable and cold it was in New York while we were in Minnesota. I simply talked about the -19 degree weather when we arrived and when we left, dropped the mic and walked out the door. Onto the links:

* Grantland discusses how Peyton Manning managed to have his best season ever.

Also from Grantland, a 30 for 30 short on the Atlanta bombing and Richard Jewell.

* Steven Seagal says the Olympics will be safe.

* New York Magazine with seven really good MTV Unplugged performances.

* Via David Grann, here’s Stanley Kubrick’s annotated copy of The Shining.

* Esquire spends some time with Michael Keaton.

* There will be a Sharknado 2. Plan accordingly.

Amtrak trek

Posted: January 30, 2014 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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Following a three-week stay in Minnesota, where we became the first people to voluntarily vacation in the state in January for 21 days and also experienced a pair of polar vortexes — one when we arrived, another when we left — we declined the wonders of air travel for the romance of the train.

A flight takes less than three hours and our train trip took 36 but I’d gladly do it again, even though I’m certain we never will again.

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