Archive for August, 2012

It’s so hot, I don’t want our Midwestern readers to have to read a big intro. So this week’s links:

* Former Fury Files guest Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote a superb piece for ESPN about a semipro player in Indiana who was killed during a game in May. It’s not a “football is bad and must be banned” piece. Van Valkenburg played football at the University of Montana. He still loves the game. It’s well-written but also superbly reported with great analysis and insight, into everything from football to life.

* Another fun slideshow from New York Magazine’s Vulture blog. This one is a series of YouTube videos — “The 10 Most Jaw-Dropping Celebrity Workout Videos.” I know, sounds like a Bleacher Report story but this one’s fun. Angela Lansbury? Yes. Milton Berle? Yes. Much more? Yes.

* The Jeffrey MacDonald case haunted me for a brief time when I was a kid. He was the military man convicted in the horrific killings of his wife and children. He blamed it on hippies — this was post-Manson. Joe McGinnis wrote a famous book called Fatal Vision, which became a famous TV miniseries with Gary Cole as MacDonald. I watched it as a kid — was probably 10 — and I kept waiting for hippies to break in to our place and kill me. To make myself feel better, I thought of the Lakers. Anyway, famed filmmaker Errol Morris has a new book coming out about the case and he believes MacDonald is innocent. Here’s David Carr’s New York Times story on Morris and here’s an excerpt from the book.

* Michael Chabon is one of my writing idols and he has a new novel coming out called Telegraph Avenue, his first in five years. I’ll be buying it on its release day. Here’s a lengthy interview with Chabon in Mother Jones. And here’s an excerpt. Now, a word on this excerpt. Two years ago I saw Chabon read at The New Yorker Festival. This is the part he read. It’s extremely graphic and extremely well-written. It’s the graphic part that got to some folks. I wrote about the experience back then and you can read about that evening. I had a coughing fit that nearly ruined the show, and then I saw a man being hauled out after he fainted from hearing Chabon’s words. That’s some powerful writing.

* We all know that exercise is supposed to be good for us, but the Buffer blog (new to me, too) delves into exactly why. Really interesting stuff for workout junkies and couch potatoes, alike. Among the most surprising: The first 20 minutes of exercise are the most beneficial, and the endorphins released during exercise can be as addicting as illicit drugs.

* The latest TVFury podcast of the week: The Jalen Rose Show. (And, no, the podcast of the week won’t always be from the Grantland Network – we’re just starting there.)
Full disclosure: I was a huge fan of Michigan’s Fab Five as a kid. Even saw them play in person during their first NCAA championship appearance in Minneapolis. So I’ve long enjoyed Rose as a player and then as a TV analyst for ESPN. The podcast format allows him to use both of those talents – he can be brash and insightful without having to worry about offending, say, old people. Because old people are not downloading the Jalen Rose podcast. (Unless they are. In that case, my apologies.)
He approaches topics from an ex-jock perspective without needing to be PC – he fully admits that most players “champagne and campaign” during their off time just as he did. The honesty is refreshing. Plus, he’s funny in a Chris Tucker kind of way and co-host David Jacoby is enjoyable as the straightman/enabler. (That old combo.)

TV and Fury have noticed that there are a bunch of Web sites popping up dedicated to longform – and really good – sportswriting. (Nothing gets by us.)

Grantland, Sports on Earth, the forthcoming Glenn Stout project – we like them all. But what’s prompted the trend, are non-writers into it and can it be maintained given the cost and the constantly changing media industry? That’s the topic of this week’s TVFury podcast.

Here’s the link.

Working out at night is not ideal – it can be difficult to muster energy after the sun goes down and when the rest of your family is going to bed. But if there is one advantage, it’s the availability of sports on TV. Nothing makes a run go faster than a compelling game, and the last few months have been fantastic, starting with the NBA playoffs, through the Olympics and now to the U.S. Open leading into the football season.

But Tuesday night, I was unable to watch tennis at the gym. Why? Because three of the five TVs were tuned to the Republican National Convention.

My first instinct: Eye roll. Good grief. Who cares? Politicians are all the same – crooked and unable to implement positive change.

Frankly, some of that might be true. But I can’t say for sure because I pay zero – literally zero – attention to politics aside from what I encounter by accident. (Actually, that’s not entirely true – I once had Sen. John Thune on my work podcast, although all we did was talk sports.) (more…)

Seems I again talked my way into trouble on the basketball court.

For about a year I’ve been going back and forth with a friend at work about how we need to find a court near our office where we can play a game of one-on-one. Typical office banter mixed with traditional basketball trash talk, both of us comfortable in our cubicles. Philip says he’ll cross me up, I tell him he’s too short to stop me in the post. Philip says he’ll knock down jumpers in my face, I tell him I’ll easily rise over him for threes.

This remained a theoretical matchup for months. He lives in Jersey, I’m in the city. We need to find an outdoor court and play on it when it’s not buried under a foot of snow. We have to find a time to play after work, which means bringing shoes and shorts and maybe an extra shirt and someone better bring a basketball or we’ll be practicing our defensive shuffles in the park while bystanders debate calling the police.


On Thursday night, the ultimate sports survivor gave up.

Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France and cancer-fighting icon, stopped fighting the doping charges that have dogged him for years. He quit via press release.

There are only two logical conclusions to draw from this: Either the Texan truly is innocent or he’s trying out a new form of the non-admission admission. And we thought we’d heard them all before. (more…)

We’re going to try something different this week, introducing multimedia elements into our weekly review of stuff that’s worth your time. Why? Because just as Gov. Jesse Ventura ain’t got time to bleed, TV ain’t got time to read – at least, not as much time as he’d like. That’s hard to do while you’re sitting in a car, driving to an assignment.

Plus, it’s fair to say that America in 2012 does not live in print alone. Let us know what you think:

* Although I know next to nothing about English Premier League soccer and miss about half of the jokes, the Men in Blazers podcast on the Grantland Network is certifiably awesome. It’s two futbol experts from across the pond discussing, yes, games, but also also styles and personalities and culture. They’re smart and funny and have delightful accents. Honestly, they’re enjoyable enough to entice me to pay more attention to the EPL. We should all do our jobs half as well as these blokes.

* Jordan Conn, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last spring, hit a home run with his profile of Mo Isom, an aspiring kicker at LSU who has overcome an eating disorder, the suicide of her father and a serious car crash. Oh, and Mo is a she rather than a he. Fascinating stuff.

*A social-experiment piece in The New York Times claims that working four-day weeks can make people more productive, as can dedicating a month to creative thought. Frankly, I can’t imagine having that much time to dedicate to new ideas. Sounds wonderful … and impossible in most industries.

* Big moment for TVFury this week – although not as big as expected – in that an NPR show in Hartford, Conn., read a post in which TV defended energy drinks, and subsequently invited him on the show. He got 5 minutes instead of the expected 20. Sigh. Still, here’s a link to the replay.

* Fury here. Hollywood lost a great director this week when Tony Scott took his own life. He directed Top Gun, True Romance, Crimson Tide and many, many other entertaining films. Here’s a Chris Jones piece on Scott’s death, along with a piece Jones wrote about Scott a few years ago.

* Will Leitch of New York magazine wrote a bit on everyone’s favorite TV sports pundit, Skip Bayless. At this point, Skip’s sports proclamations are sort of like PETA publicity stunts but he still gets people upset.

* Meant to link this a few months ago, but worth it now. A letter from legendary editor Maxwell Perkins to F. Scott Fitzgerald about the book that ultimately became The Great Gatsby.

* Mike Francesa has a meltdown about the Mets. An epic rant. Ah, sports talk radio.


Sad news for children of the 1980 and early ’90s, or at least for those who enjoyed reading about video games from that era. Nintendo Power magazine is apparently shutting down. Now where will players learn how to defeat the impossible game P.O.W.?

I don’t play video games today, even as the industry has exploded in popularity. It’s not that I necessarily lost interest in them — I lost my playing ability. My skills degenerated with each new, more advanced game system, until eventually I became the equivalent of a 98-year-old rural shut-in handling an iPad for the first time.

But as a teen Nintendo ruled, and while other guys chased girls or went to parties on Saturday night, I played Nintendo in the basement, usually with my friends Matt, Mike and Brandon, apparently oblivious to the fact you could actually balance all of those things in your life. Faxanadu, Captain Skyhawk, Lee Trevino’s Fighting Golf, Baseball Simulator 1.000 — all classics and personal favorites.

The grandest game of them all? Tecmo Super Bowl.


Podcast: Foobaw primer

Posted: August 22, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Podcasts
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As you might have heard, football season – or foobaw season, if you prefer – is just around the corner at the high school, college and pro levels and, apparently, people are really into this sport. Who knew?

TV and Fury discuss what they do and don’t expect from the upcoming season in addition to delving into an exciting upcoming opportunity on NPR – TV is going to be a guest on the Colin McEnroe Show in defense of energy drinks. Seriously. Apparently, TVFury is huge in Hartford, Conn.

Here’s the link.

On Monday the day job presented some deadline drama, a common Monday night occurrence in the magazine world, although it was an every-night event in newspaper land.

The phrase “What will production say?” was tossed out more than once and we all imagined the curses and sighs that awaited us from that side of the publishing family, which always waits impatiently for the pages, whether at a weekly glossy or a daily tabloid. The whole thing brought back memories of the paragraph factory.

Know this about newspaper people, specifically those on the copy desk: They live in fear of production staff, sometimes known as the camera plate crew or various other titles. These people wield remarkable power, though they operate completely out of the spotlight. Sort of like copy editors in that way, which perhaps makes it strange the two parties are often involved in verbal combat that sometimes threatens to turn physical. Oh how I have feared these men.


TV will spend countless hours staring at this over the next nine months.

Considering how much time I spend operating one, my lack of knowledge about cars is fairly astounding. The school year starts today in Sioux Falls and soon at South Dakota State, meaning I’ll spend more time than I can easily count on the road and in the air, traveling back and forth and here and there. It’s part of my job as a sports reporter – a big part of it, sometimes.

Take the back half of last week, for example. (And I write this despite fully acknowledging that travelogues are arguably as uninteresting as retroactive play-by-play of a round of golf or a hand of poker. That’s never stopped me before.) On Thursday evening, I drove 50 miles from Sioux Falls to Brookings to attend a two-hour football practice. I made the return trip, too. Friday morning, it was off to Minneapolis to cover a Vikings preseason game. That’s 4 hours each way. I got home at 4 a.m. About six hours later, I was headed to a muddy field near a town called Renner to run an obstacle-laden 5K.

Certainly, not every three-day span from September to June is like that, but many of them are.

And I generally love it. (more…)