Archive for July, 2011


What's worse: Being in prison or living at the time of Gangs of New York?

The Tapes are back for another week – been a good one, too, here at TVFury. Glad that a few folks are finding their way to our weird little project.

Now that the NFL lockout is over, it’s safe to assume there will be more talk of foobaw – that’s pretend Southern slang for football. Then again, some pretty solid TV shows are making their returns so we may delve into that, too. Your weekend assignment is to define “social assassin.” Mine is to set the DVR for Breaking Bad – I lost track roughly two episodes into the first season:

  • Can’t believe we’re about to say this, but the Minnesota Vikings might have done pretty well at the quarterback position in this unusual NFL offseason in drafted Christian Ponder and trading for Donovan McNabb. While it’s entirely possible that neither set the decrepit Metrdome ablaze, the club addressed a need by adding a proven if declining veteran and a rookie with more realistic promise than Tarvaris Jackson. (Good luck with that one, Pete Carroll aka Pia Sundhage.) And at least there seems to be a plan in place.
    Not that we MIND when the Vikings are disjointed at the most important spot. Fury supports America’s Team, while TV backs the Pack. (Related note, it’s hard to operate in the third person. How did Rickey Henderson do it for all those years?)
  • Checked out the third annual Dakota Irish Fest in Sioux Falls on Saturday. And, yes, I am Irish by virtue of my late paternal grandmother being full-blooded. Lorna Coughlin. Doesn’t get much more Irish than that.
    Anyway, one of the (many) pleasant surprises was the way that my 7-year-old daughter embraced the concept of learning about another culture, her culture. She genuinely enjoyed it and asked when we get to go to the German, Russian and Czech festivals (those are some of our other ancestries).
    That got me to thinking: The older this country gets, the more American we all become. The traditions and histories of what brought us here are fading away. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. It’s not the like the Gangs of New York Era was overly good to a lot of people.  (Everything in that movie was true, right?) But I was encouraged by one little girl’s desire to learn more about her heritage. Knowing where we came from just might help us figure out where we’re going.
  • Fury here. For the record, during the Favre Era – was it an era? – I threw my full support to the homestate boys, a blatant example of bandwagoning and one I don’t regret. I couldn’t help it, I loved that old bastard. And when they lost to the Saints, I felt, finally felt, what it was like to be a Vikings fan, even though I was in Cape Town at the time and had to read about the crushing defeat and hear about it from my dad on a subpar phone connection. The pain of Hank Stram, Darrin Nelson, Drew Pearson, and the Kick. Maybe it’s happened because I’ve been in NYC for seven years and want to connect to my Nordic roots.
  • More Larry David. The new Rolling Stone’s cover story is on David, and it’s a great read. The story’s not online – you actually have to buy the paper product. I know, commies at Rolling Stone trying to make money. But they do have an extensive collection of interesting pieces on their website.
  • An amazing story by Michael Kruse in the St. Petersburg Times. It’s about a woman in Florida who disappeared, but never actually left her home. It’s depressing, incredibly written, sad, and will make you want to hug a neighbor, or at least check on them. When people like, oh, me, talk about what newspapers are still capable of delivering, it’s stories like these they talk about.
  • Kobe talks about the lockout.
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If you want bad news – murders, assaults, fires, wars, kidnappings, dognappings, financial meltdowns, disastrous personnel decisions by your favorite team – all you have to do is pick up a paper or click on a newspaper’s website. If you want bad news about a newspaper – firings, layoffs, furloughs, plagiarism, errors, hacking – you can click on a hundred different sites that document their troubles.

On Wednesday, I read more bad newspaper news. Mark Heisler, a longtime NBA columnist for the LA Times, a guy who was connected to different eras of the league and could bring everything together in a single column, was laid off, along with several other veteran writers and editors.

I haven’t worked in newspapers for seven years but my heart remains in a newsroom. The only job I had in college was in the sports department of the Worthington Daily Globe. My first job out of school was in the sports department of that same paper. Ever since I saw Fletch, where I learned you could be a big-time writer and a Lakers fan, I’d wanted to work in papers. It’d be absurd for me to say I know what it’s been like in newsrooms across the land these past seven years. Unless you’re actually in them, and dealing with cuts – of resources and people – you can’t really know the struggle. But I’ve often been saddened about so many of the results.

In these times, you often read people who seem practically gleeful when newspapers struggle. They make cliched, painfully unfunny comparisons to dinosaurs or horse-drawn carriages. They’re eager to write obituaries for newspapers, apparently excited to see people put out of work, even though, a minute later, they’ll lament a rising unemployment rate and wonder, oh, what can be done? They revel in bad news for papers and if they’re real lucky and their favorite newspaper allows anonymous online comments, they get to post their misspelled, illogical opinions on the very sites they hope are doomed.

No one knows if papers as a whole will ever completely figure out how to make money in a changing media world. The prevailing notion is that people won’t pay for something they can get for free, a line that’s practically become a mantra to people who often seemed resigned to an ugly fate.

But there’s hope. In the latest issue of New York Magazine, Seth Mnookin writes about the somewhat-incredible, no-doubt inspiring resurgence of The New York Times. Thanks to the efforts of veteran publisher Arthur Sulzberger, outgoing editor Bill Keller, a newsroom that remains unmatched and an experimental paywall, the Times has emerged from financial and journalistic disasters and has given hope to newspapers everywhere that perhaps the white flags can be kept stowed away in filing cabinets for a bit longer.

A few years ago, a respected writer for Atlantic said it was possible the Times could be finished by 2009. Instead, as Mnookin writes:

A funny thing happened on the way to the graveyard. Though the Times’ circulation dipped during the crash years, much of the lost revenue was made up for by doubling the newsstand price, from $1 to $2—evidence, the paper insisted, that its premium audience understood the value of a premium product. In March, after several years of planning and tens of millions in investments, the Times launched a digital-subscription plan—and the early signs were good. In fact, less than 48 hours before my interview, the Times announced it would finish paying back the Carlos Slim loan in full on August 15, three and a half years early. When they were released last week, the company’s second-quarter financial results showed an overall loss largely owing to the write-down of some regional papers, but they also contained a much more important piece of data: The digital-subscription plan—the famous “paywall”—was working better than anyone had dared to hope.

The paper discovered that when people thought a company offered something you can’t find anywhere else – and especially can’t find for free – they were willing to pay for it. Even online.

Obviously the Times operates on a different level compared to every other paper in every other part of the world. Other papers can devote tens of dollars to research on digital subscription plans, not “tens of millions” of dollars.

Even during their worst days, they had resources at their disposal that no other news organizations could compete with, including in the culinary arts. A woman I worked with in Worthington 16 years ago – she corrupted me by buying me alcohol at the paper’s Christmas party, when I was only 19 – is now an editor for the Times. We met for lunch one day in the Times’ cafeteria in their new building, which is perhaps most famous for the fact several people have climbed up the side of it. The cafeteria is not like any other newspaper cafeteria I’d seen, which really weren’t cafeterias but more like out-of-the-way areas with a broken-down candy machine filled with melted Twix, a soda machine serving warm products and, perhaps, an old  table the publisher picked up at a garage sale. You went there to escape your work, but not to really gather.

They didn’t look like this and they didn’t serve hot foods, cold foods, sandwiches and sushi.

Yes, in so many ways the Times is different. But they struggled with the same issues confronting rural weeklies and suburban dailies. Who knows if the early success of the paywall will continue. Regardless, the Times has shown that death isn’t inevitable for newspapers or any organization in the old/mainstream/traditional/adjective-here media.

If papers can provide readers with stories they simply can’t get elsewhere, even in a world where you can seemingly get anything at anytime you want, they have a chance. Original reporting, investigative pieces, must-read opinions, stunning photography, and exclusive insights – whether in a locker room or an executive conference room. Papers still have more resources than anyone else. They can deliver, even as they cut back on the 75-year-old retirees and 10-year-olds who actually deliver the paper product.

And maybe people are willing to pay for it online. Why not try it? What would be the worst thing that could happen? Papers suffer devastating financial losses, lay people off, cut back on subscription areas, and lose advertising? Too late, already happened by giving it away.

The Times has been the leading paper in the country for decades. With any luck – or, to be more accurate, with a lot of luck – they’ll eventually lead the way in helping newspapers out of the abyss.


This is a weird time to be an NBA fan. Hard-core hoops fans normally follow the free agent transactions that take place in July, but even in a normal year most other sports fans ignore the league between June and the start of the season in October. Its draft doesn’t have the mind-numbing hype that accompanies the multi-day draft orgy the NFL puts on, and there’s no cool name like “Hot Stove” to describe the transactions that take place in the offseason.

The start of NFL training camps is a secular holiday while the beginning of spring training is practically a religious experience for millions. NBA camps? No one really knows when they begin – could be September, maybe October – and there’s nothing romantic about watching 20 tall, sweaty men run wind sprints and go through the Mikan drill for two hours a day in some college gym in the suburbs. People just want to know when the NBA’s regular season actually begins, so they’ll know when to start complaining about how it never ends.

But now, with the league locking the players out? It’s an even stranger time to be an NBA fan. Judging by the league’s website – nba.com – it’s an even odder time for the league’s online staff. Because of the lockout, you’ll find hardly any official news about any official NBA players on the league’s official website. There are probably references to be made here about dictatorships and Pravda and Big Brother and about how it’s easy to manipulate history, if not simply erase it.

Those discussions are for another time. For now, the NBA would like to remind you about its storied past and, perhaps more importantly, invite you to gaze in wonder at the beauty and brains of the gals who serve as cheerleaders and dance girls. As I type this, the lead story on nba.com is a story on the 1989 Detroit Pistons, who won the title that year with a four-game sweep over the Lakers, a victory they achieved only because Byron Scott and Magic Johnson injured their hamstrings and missed most of the series (those are the facts; your interpretation of them may vary, depending on whether you, like me, owned official Lakers underwear when you were 6 years old). Those Pistons were the Bad Boys, a highly successful team that was so good the league – according to many – did everything it could to downplay their success, or at least their roughhousing ways, out of fear the entire league would devolve. Now, 22 years later, they’re featured prominently on the NBA website.

Other items on the homepage include riveting headlines such as “BRI audit for 2010-11 NBA season finalized” and “Gas company inks naming rights for OKC’s arena.” The NBA isn’t totally ignoring reality – David Aldridge has a report on injured players and some lockout updates. There’s a Serge Ibaka story.

But for the most part it’s all about what did happen instead of what is happening. There are stories on Tim Hardaway’s killer crossover and a video on Charles Barkley’s killer girth. NBA TV is promoting the 1987 NBA Finals and the 1991 Western Conference semifinals, a pair of series involving the Lakers that I would surely watch again except I already have videotapes of each one.

That’s on the main homepage. Things get a bit more bizarre when you visit the homepages for each franchise. Take the Timberwolves, for instance. Right now, at 11 p.m Tuesday in New York City, the main story is about the lovely “Alisa,” a T-Wolves dancer who tells fans about “her pregame rituals, how she spends her free time and her goals as a member of the dance team.”

To be fair, Alisa – whose favorite movie is Tommy Boy, loves pizza and is a communications major at the University of Minnesota – might be the lead story on the Timberwolves’ site during a non-lockout year as well. What else would they promote? A column called “Kahn’s Korner?” If they stuck with the present, they’d try selling Rubio, of course, and anything involving the past would have to focus on the 2004 season, the only season in team history when the franchise won a playoff series. Otherwise it’d be stories on how the triangle offense came to Minnesota to die and retrospectives on the early years of the Timberwolves, when the team took Felton Spencer and Luc Longley with their top picks in back-to-back years, events that somehow foreshadowed twenty years of draft-night futility.

The Timberwolves are hardly alone during the lockout. Even a glamorous franchise like the Lakers promotes the women who entertain during the games instead of those who actually play in them. Currently the main story on the Lakers’ site highlights auditions for the famous Laker Girls. For those wondering, the audition process started with more than 400 girls and will be whittled down to 22. There will be cheers, and there will most certainly be tears. As for how Mike Brown will integrate an aging Kobe Bryant into an offensive system that, in the past, centered around five words – Give The Ball to LeBron – that type of information is nowhere to be found. Not during the lockout.

The world champion Dallas Mavericks have a lot to celebrate this offseason. It seems like a great time to brag about their remarkable title and the incredible career of Dirk Nowitzki. Maybe a heart-warming story about the 25 ugliest three-pointers of Jason Kidd’s career would be in order, along with a 1,000-word essay titled “How in the hell does Shawn Marion ever make a jump shot with that form?” Instead, the main “story” is a link to the 2011-12 schedule, which at least showcases a bit of optimism.  February 7 – big game for the Mavs, at Indiana. Mark it down. By NBA law, the site needs to have a video about the team’s cheerleaders, so there are multiple pieces about how the Mavs dancers do that thing they do.

The league’s coming off a highly successful season. League rosters are littered with new talent and legendary veterans. Yet no one knows when we’ll see those players on the court again, or even be able to read about them on the league’s website. Strange times.

I love NBA history. I have dozens of books about the league’s past and just as many old tapes. I actually do enjoy reading about the 1989 Pistons, even while I continue to curse their good luck and the bad luck that doomed the Lakers. Charles Barkley videos are always entertaining. But as much as I love the league’s past, if the players and owners don’t figure things out in the present, its future looks awfully shaky.

And perhaps most importantly, if there are no games…what happens to Alisa?

Continuing Arrested Development

Posted: July 27, 2011 by terryvandrovec in Videos
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Remember Arrested Development? No, not the band, the TV show that used to be on FOX.

For sake of comparison, think about it as The Wire except not on HBO and a comedy. OK, so maybe the only commonality is that they both were brilliant and didn’t really get their due until after being canceled. (For a more in-depth sample of the show, check out Hulu for complete episodes. You’ll thank us later.)

Anyway, rumors of a movie version have been circulating for years. And they’re back again.

Of course, we hope this happens. But, mainly, we bring this up as a means to post this classic clip. Here’s to hoping that Scott Baio will be forever remembered not as Charles or Chachi, but as Bob Loblaw.


By Matt Cecil
Guest blogger

According to a 2010 study, at any given moment there are more than 450 million personal blogs available for you to ignore on the Interwebs. Here is some context to help you comprehend that staggering number:

  • That is one blog for every 18 human beings on the planet; or
  • That is 1.5 blogs for every person in the U.S.; however …
  • An estimated 400 million of those blogs are operated by Terry Vandrovec.

That’s a joke, of course. In reality, Terry only posts about 300,000 items a year via his current stable of blogging and social media outlets.

Broadly speaking, blogging has a nasty and largely well-deserved reputation for complete irrelevance. No one needs to know about your strange interest in medieval codpieces or your unrequited love for that “Yyyyuuuuupppp!” guy from Storage Wars. Save that private stuff for social media, where Mark Zuckerberg will be happy to share it with your grandma.

My purpose here today is to suggest that there are pockets of utility scattered among the vast, gaping, empty, hopeless, narrow, self-centered, self-indulgent world of the blogosphere.

More specifically, I want to argue that many of the blogs that might be considered interesting or useful are written by someone who has been trained as a journalist. Before you stop reading, let me say that I am well aware that the term, “journalist” does not inspire confidence in many these days. Rupert Murdoch’s phone hacking douchebaggery is merely the latest stain on the practice. There is also no denying that the general consensus is that the mainstream media is going the way of the Alaotra Grebe. (I’m going to let you Google that one.)

But what is a journalist, anyway? Let us define journalist as: An informed storyteller. Why are journalists useful? Because you are lazy and self-centered. You would rather spend time fishing with your son than read a campaign finance report. You would rather watch cats playing piano on YouTube than call somebody to find out how much your daughter’s tuition will be increasing next year. You would choose abdominal surgery over attendance at a city council meeting. Journalists do stuff like that for you. (And on behalf of all journalists, let me say: You are welcome, you lazy bum.)

Many journalists become experts in their areas of interest, in part because of their access to useful information and authoritative people that most of us lack. Journalists are trained observers, the kinds of people who notice things most people do not. Even in today’s celebutard-driven media mess, we still need journalists to help us make meaning and make sense of the world.

Blogs like TVFury (thank goodness the “Fury” part is somebody’s surname and not a cry for help from Terry) are good examples of the potential that blogs have to inform or entertain. (And when I say that, I am assuming that TV and Fury will, at some point in the life of this blog, start to inform and entertain us).

This is not about blogging. It is about content. Sharing technologies and paradigms like the current “blog” will come and go. But our need for context, information and entertainment only increases over time. When I was a kid we had three channels on television, a local radio station and an afternoon newspaper. From those handful of sources, we created a world in our minds and thought we understood what was going on outside of our own small set of experiences. When Walter Cronkite said, “And that’s the way it is,” we believed him. It was simple and uncomplicated. The trustworthy old white man on TV told us what to think about everything from Vietnam to space exploration.

Was that simpler world of information and understanding better than today’s more complicated, postmodern, pajama-jeans-existence?

[Begin Professor Rant] Do we really understand when we learn from only one or two sources? Or is it necessary for us to consume multiple sources of information, understanding who the mediators are and having a comfort level for conflicting perspectives in order to construct a useful and meaningful reality? [end rant]

Let me put it more simply: Is your understanding of things better when you know more about them? Or is it worse?

Ponder that for a few moments. Then, if you are a Member of Congress or Minnesota Vikings QB, go ahead and get back to posting those great pictures of your junk on Twitter.

About the author: Cecil is a Brookings native and journalism professor at South Dakota State. He is also TV’s unofficial (i.e. unpaid) tech advisor and the son of Chuck Cecil, no, not he of perpetually broken nose.


The NFL lockout ended today, meaning the 2011 season will go on pretty much according to plan.

And I’m kind of annoyed about it. Hear me out.

In working through this inside my head, there are a few possible reasons for these surprising feelings, which honestly didn’t develop until Monday.
First, the Green Bay Packers, my favorite team – and frankly, the only squad in any sport that I genuinely root for anymore – is the defending Super Bowl champ. So no season, no giving back the Lombardi Trophy. And I’m half of serious about that – it’s possible I would have taken more joy in retaining the title than from watching the season.
During a recent work interview, a sports psychologist told me that there are two subsets of personalities in sports – those who want to compete to win and take what’s theirs (BAS) and those who sort of want to avoid losing (BIS). I’ve come to the conclusion that I fit into the latter. (Humor me – pretend you find that surprising.)

The other reason for my perturbation: The giddiness displayed by the general public. There was a childlike glee shown today by so many grown folks and, well, I’m not sure this news merits that. Not because I don’t like football – I do; it helps feed my family. Rather, no real NFL activities were missed aside from some OTAs and the whole situation could have been avoided. Now THAT – players and owners figuring things out before threatening the livelihoods of so many regular Joes who have businesses that piggyback on games – would have been reason to be celebrate.

The lockout lasted 132 days, most of which were much ado about nothing. For some perspective, my youngest daughter spent 133 days in the NICU. Now that was excruciating. That was worth sweating, worth crunching the details and dissecting the angles.

I’m really not trying to be a buzzkill, although I’m fairly skilled in that art. I’m glad that Sundays will go on as usual – I’ll be watching – and it’s good that the undrafted free agents will be able to chase their dreams and try to earn a wage with their unique talents. But I’m not going to jump up and down.

Unexpectedly, some of the joy has been taken away.

Now … get off my lawn!


Pretty unique podcast this week.

Brent Hanson began the 2010-11 school year as an assistant basketball coach in Perham, Minn., and ended it as the documentarian of a made-for-Hollywood story. His film “For Three” chronicles the first state championship run by the Yellowjackets, a journey that was nearly thrown off track by the on-court heart failure of Zach Gabbard, one of their best players.

Hanson spent countless hours putting together the project, learning on the fly and grinding while his wife and 1-year-old child slept. The film recently debuted and is now available on DVD with proceeds going to the Gabbard family and the Perham basketball program.

Here’s a preview.

And here’s the podcast, during which Hanson details the process, tells how he talked Moby – yes, that Moby – into donating music for the film and reveals some technical difficulties. Enjoy, but be warned that the audio is a little hot and cold, the result of my MacBook dying over the weekend. (We actually had to record the podcast twice because the first take got lost in the hard drive meltdown.)

TVFury Podcast: Brent Hanson


U2 fared stormy weather to entertain a bunch of 30-somethings at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Saturday.

By Dan Frasier
Guest blogger

On Saturday night, I attended the U2 concert in what can only be described as the only thing in it’s foreseeable life that the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium will host that will fill the entire stadium.  Sixty thousand (initially subdued) Minnesotans politely filed into and found their assigned seats inside this gorgeous stadium and, in the “We live in Lake Wobegon” idiocy of University officials, abstained from the partaking in any adult beverages.  As an aside, this mandate DID NOT prevent enough blue smoke from going up the minute the lights went down to offer a complimentary contact buzz to anyone interested.

The first thing that struck me as I entered the stadium was the out of this world (literally… it’s meant to look like a space station) staging that accompanied the tour.  Two $25-million stages were created for the purpose of the 360 Tour and they leap frog each other as the tour rolls across the globe due to the amount of time needed to set up.  This is a massive 167-foot tall structure with a ROUND video screen containing 417 THOUSAND pixels and requiring a full time crew of over 500 people to set up and tear down.  It brings with it a generator that can produce 3.5 million watts of power.  Apparently, you don’t just show up at the stadium and say, “Um, yeah, where are the plug-ins? Oh, and we might need some of those power strip things.”

My first thought was, “Man, with the money spent on this, Bono could have just paid to free the 2,000 Burmese prisoners he keeps telling us about.”  My second was, “GOOD GOD I AM GLAD HE DIDN’T, CAUSE THIS IS FREAKING AWESOME!”  Lights and smoke and things coming down from and then back up into the sky.  This was not a concert, it was a SHOW.  Bono came out with the band (I bet the other three guys love being referred to that way) and blew the roof of the (roofless) stadium.  The crowd, initially, was as stoic as good Lutherans should be. Don’t get me wrong – there was some fantastic white guy head bobbing and a lot of the “I’m not sure what to do with my hands” white-guy dancing.  But we are talking about 60,000 sober people with a median age of 39.  When Bono kept telling us that our generation could change the world, all I could think was, “Dude, you are talking to dentists and financial planners.  They really don’t mind the world OR the suburban high schools their children are going to attend.”

And then something happened.  The sky opened up like The Edge’s guitar and it POURED rain on us. The crowd immediately forgot that they were old and a little tired from being out so late and threw away their inhibitions, proving what many have long suspected – that Minnesotans function optimally in inclimate weather. Even the man across the aisle from me, who I still contend was a dentist based on his perfectly manicured hands, began to sway unrythmically and belt out the lyrics. His wife, who had CLEARLY been into his nitrous oxide down at the office, got even more bonkers. The entire place rocked and not a soul left the building.

Throughout the deluge, Bono and the Boys strutted and jammed and generally performed as only U2 can, namely larger than life.  Bono did all the moves he thinks a Rock Star should on stage, while the music and production, complete with a video message from the International Space Station, went off flawlessly.  It was a great show and a great crowd. A warm Minnesota downpour maybe the perfect weather for an outdoor concert.  

About the author: Dan Frasier is a financial professional in Sioux Falls. That means he makes more money than a writer. On the other hand, he’s a huge fan of Nebraska football, so … You can read more of his stuff at PrairieFlyFisher.WordPress.com.

The Man Show

Posted: July 25, 2011 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
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image

We hadn’t been sitting on the metal bleachers for more than five seconds when my 7-year-old daughter made this assessment of the activity going on in front of us: “Why would you play a sport where you only get hurt?”

Somewhere in heaven, Bill Cosby cracked a smile. (That’s a joke. I realize he’s not dead. Jello pudding makes you immortal.)

That was her first impression of rugby, a sport that I had explained to her beforehand as being like football without pads or helmets. Frankly, I’d never watched a match in person, either. And who’s to say that what we witnessed at Falls Park was a true depiction of rugby, anyway?

It was two amateur teams – Sioux Falls Crow vs. Great Plains Union – providing a bit of sporting entertainment during the Irish Festival. Maybe 100 fans at any given time stood on the side of the makeshift field near the city’s landmark waterfall. Disappointingly, the players weren’t wearing long-sleeve rugby shirts – they were dressed more like soccer players. (What’s next, polo players boycotting polo shirts?) But at least they were dressed. Two hefty dudes who I took for linesmen were topless and the main official was wearing a bright pink polo. This would have seemed less appropriate if the heat index hadn’t been over 100. (The contest wound up being cut into quarters rather than halves for the safety of the players.)

As for what was under those jerseys, well, most of the players fit into the burly category as opposed to being especially athletic or cut. There were, of course, a couple of exceptions and they provided just enough of a threat to draw a sincere line between spectator and participant.

In terms of action, it wasn’t as frantic or violent as I expected based on what was portrayed in Invictus, although there were plenty of scrums, giving me ample opportunity to flex the one rugby word in my vocabulary. I learned a few more things once the public address announcer solved his technical difficulties: Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, began as a rugby coach. In fact, the jump ball is a variation of a line-out play in rugby.

Mr. Announcer Guy also informed us that “rugby is not chess.” He nailed that one. Again, these guys – playing for no money and little glory – are clearly tough in a way that you either are or you aren’t. For example, I don’t change my own oil and have yet to be gifted with “old-man strength,” the kind of power that is supposed to come with age regardless of one’s record in the weight room.

I spent the first half of the day whining about a fried hard drive. Meanwhile, these brutes ran into each other under the scorching sun for no particular reason and with no protective equipment. These are men, sporting lumberjacks – even the wiry ones with little facial hair.

So while it might not always be thrilling to watch and doesn’t make as much sense from a health standpoint as avoiding collisions and working the treadmill,  amateur rugby is admirable in a sort of primal way.

And maybe that’s why they play – to prove, test or utilize their unique toughness. From where we were sitting, it worked on all accounts.

One week down

Posted: July 23, 2011 by terryvandrovec in Videos
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It’s been about a week now and nobody has kicked us off the Interwebs. We’ll take that to mean that you like us – or at least that you’ll tolerate our existence.

Moving forward expect more of the same: Posts about anything and everything, podcasts, guest spots and notebooks – some sports and some not. We expect to publish fresh content every weekday and hope to use several formats to create something for everybody … or most people. (Our stats say that we’re not so popular with the ladies. We’ll work on that.)

We’ve already got some things in the works for future weeks (including podcasts with a filmmaker and a rap group.) Feel free to make suggestions, engage in discussions or offer to become a Guestie.

But so far, so good. Right, Larry David?