Archive for October, 2012

I like – like, like-like – the NBA. In fact, I might love the NBA, although I have no plans to marry it.

That’s noteworthy because we drifted apart a while back, decided to see other people. It’s a lot like how things ended between me and baseball. But now? We’re back, baby, hot and heavy. The regular season tipped off Tuesday night with a doubleheader, meaning lots of good stuff on the horizon. (more…)

One thing I love about New York is that each neighborhood is like a separate city. Go 20 blocks and you see different geography, architecture, restaurants, nationalities and vibes. In northern Manhattan we live in a quieter neighborhood with a large natural park a few blocks away and smaller apartment buildings. Twenty minutes south on the subway and you can enter a whole new world.

So when a hurricane hits New York City — and how unreal is that I can type that line two straight years — there are 100 different stories in 100 different parts of the city.


Theme week!

The TVFury editorial committee got together last week for a three-day meeting where we came up with a plan. NBA starts this week. Let’s write about the NBA. Not just one day, but every day. Well, except for the weekend. And Friday is for our links section so it’ll be four days. But four days of NBA talk coming up on TVFury. Probably. Could be three. We’ll see.

Starting off, a little look at every team in the league. This more an appreciation than a preview. No sports league benefits more than the NBA from YouTube. Major League Baseball makes it nearly impossible to find videos and while the NFL is a bit better, it’s nothing compared to what’s out there for the NBA. Entire games, highlight packages, mixes, everything, from every era.

So let’s take a tour of the NBA with a look at 30 videos, one for each team. Yes, even the Bobcats.


Welcome to this week’s hottest links, which are hot off the grill.

* Could be some interesting weather in a few days on the East Coast as Hurricane Sandy could combine with a winter storm for something that would be similar to The Perfect Storm that hit in 1991, which you remember from the movie. No matter what happens, we know one thing: Unless it wipes out the entire Eastern Seaboard, people will accuse East Coasters of overreacting and don’t you people know how to deal with real weather, like battle-hardened Minnesotans and hurricane-weary Floridians? That’ll be fun.

* The TV critic for New York Magazine wonders: What’s the scariest episode of Twilight Zone? He goes with The Masks.

* The Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse writes about the Aho family of Cokato, which consists of 15 kids, 12 of them boys. And for 24 straight years, an Aho boy has been on the football team.

* Gene Auriemma thinks the rims should be lowered in women’s basketball. Good idea? Bad idea? Bad idea says ESPN’s Kate Fagan.

* Great. New York City food trucks are seen as a terrorist threat.

* In brain-related news, a scientific study conducted in the UK revealed that exercising late in life can prevent brain shrinkage. Also, a demented cop in New York City allegedly planned to torture, kill and eat – brains and all, perhaps? – at least 100 women from all over the world. Disturbing doesn’t being to describe it.

* This week’s podcast of the week: The Joe Rogan Podcast. Yes, he used to host Fear Factor. And, yes, he sounds stoned when he laughs – that’s because he probably is. Nonetheless, he casts some decent pod, sometimes funny and sometimes enlightening. A recent episode falls into the latter category thanks to an appearance by Victor Conte, the former director of performance-enhancing drugs pioneer BALCO. Given his checkered past, it’s hard to know how much stock to put in what Conte says – and he divulges a lot. But at the very least, he offers an inside look at how cheating works and how prevalent it remains today.

Move over, Magnus Ver Magnusson, assuming you’re still alive – there’s a new strangely compelling, made-for-TV sport featuring a cartoonishly buff Icelander.

Have you seen the CrossFit Games? They’re like the old World’s Strongest Man contests with an additional fitness component. Instead of tossing beer kegs, participants compete in a series of exercise-based challenges with confusing names. To wit, The Fran consists of 21 reps of 95-pound thrusters (a combination of squat and military press) followed immediately by 15 pullups then 15 of each and nine of each. With no stopping in between. Scores are based on times.

Best case scenario, you’re done in roughly 3 minutes. Three minutes isn’t a long time to jog, but it’s an eternity in terms of strength training. What’s more, it’s not exactly a smooth motion. Remember in junior high gym class when kids would swing and flop and wiggle in an attempt to squeeze out a single pullup? The CrossFit folks have that awkward motion down to a science.

Of course, The Fran is just one of the disciplines that comprise an entire CrossFit routine. Best I can tell, there are about 12-15 different stations incorporating swimming, running, biking and strength training. The events vary (some seem to favor large humans, while others are cut out for smaller people) and competitors aren’t told in advance what will be included, forcing them to be ready for anything – like studying everything in advance of a test. And you have to survive two rounds of competition before earning entry into the finals, featuring the 50 fittest men and 50 fittest women on the planet.

Does that label hold as true as sponsors Reebok and ESPN would like them to? It’s hard to say. I’ll go with a firm maybe, while admitting it’s entirely impressive. A couple of years ago, I got into a group fitness class at my gym called Xplosion, which is somewhere between circuit training and CrossFit and nearly killed me. Twice. Even though I exercise six times a week. Turns out I’m not very good at breathing while exercising, one of the underrated challenges of such intense and prolonged exertion. The stuff they are doing is legit.

Meanwhile, I find myself being distracted by another question: Are these ladies and gents using performance enhancing drugs or not? At this point, I’m leaning toward no for a couple of reasons: The CrossFit movement seems to pride itself on legit and natural fitness – it’s like the exercise world’s answer to going green. Also, the athletes don’t look as ballooned. Don’t get me wrong: They’re big, maybe even huge (ala Kenny Bania). That’s not hard to determine because what little clothing they wear – lots of sweaty skin to be had – is made of Lycra.

It’s probably easier to see for yourself. Here’s World’s Strongest Man icon Ver Magnusson:

And here’s Rich Froning, winner of the last two CrossFit Games:

There’s a marked difference. The latter is more in line with modern fitness ideals: We know more about training and nutrition and value functional strength and lean muscle over sheer bulk and one-way power.

Are the athletes clean? I’m not sure that it matters, at least not to me, no longer an impressionable youth. I dabbled in supplements in college, and it didn’t go well. But I like the idea that the CrossFitters are grinders more than genetic freaks, not just the children of 6-foot-8 Scandinavians. It makes them more accessible, the show more watchable. Not that I wasn’t all in already.

I’ve been unable to turn away when stumbling onto the CrossFit Games, usually late at night and sometimes when on the treadmill. It’s as mesmerizing as the P90X infomercials and Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The events are interesting, the performances impressive and the competitors international. The reigning women’s champ is Annie Thorisdottir, a 5-foot-7, 147-pound, 22-year old from Iceland. And, yes, her name seems to indicate that she is the daughter of Thor.

Sounds about right.

My cousin Matt shares many of my reading interests. Last week, while he ranted about Joe Girardi’s decision to bench Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, Bucky Dent, Mickey Mantle and Lou Gehrig in a helpless attempt to find some offense against the Tigers, he texted that he was done watching baseball for the night and was going to read a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child. He asked if I had read any of the series.

I’ve read all of them in fact, from the first one — Killing Floor — to the most recent, A Wanted Man. Jack Reacher — a former military policeman who now wanders the country as a hitchhiker and bus rider and spends the books uncovering evil schemes that he shatters by kicking ass while lunching in small town diners and saving women and children in distress — is one of my favorite ongoing fictional characters. Reacher is a fighting, killing-when-necessary machine. He’s great with all weapons and even better with his fists and wits. He’s massive, 6-foot-5 with a huge chest. He intimidates his enemies, then dispatches them. And in a few weeks he’s finally coming to the big screen. I emailed Matt and asked him what he thought of Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher in the upcoming One Shot. Little Tom Cruise, playing big Jack Reacher. Matt’s texted reply:


TVFury has finally made it.

After 16 months and some 350 posts, we made our debut Friday on the home page. “Freshly pressed,” they call it, meaning that somebody, somewhere in the InterTubes thought that our piece about Full House was interesting enough to advertise to the masses. We even got a shiny new widget. (Look left.) Unfortunately, the extra play did not net job offers, money handshakes, swag or discounted airfare. But it did create new fodder for this space. (more…)

Bizarre, strange, ludicrous, ridiculous, infuriating, bemusing, exasperating. Now let me grab the thesaurus and find more words that describe the losses I’ve seen suffered by the Columbia University football team since I moved to Inwood eight years ago, down the street from the school’s football stadium.

Each year I try to attend three or four games a year and during my time in the neighborhood I’ve seen precious few victories. I have no connection to the school but pull for their sports teams. I like having an FCS football program a three-minute walk away, nestled in a part of the island that even many New Yorkers don’t realize is part of Manhattan. Having watched the Lions for nearly a decade, I have no idea how longtime fans have survived the past six decades. It’s not just that the Lions lose. It’s how they lose. There have been plenty of blowouts, numerous games where it’s basically over a few minutes in to the second quarter or early in the second half. But more often it’s much more frustrating.


Welcome to this week’s edition of The Tapes. There’s a chill in the air. Or it’s 75 degrees out where you are. Either way, it’s 12 days until Halloween. Be prepared. On to the links.

* Newsweek announced it will stop its print edition by the end of the year. It’s a shock in some ways but not surprising in many other ways. The magazine has been struggling for a long time. It will continue as a digital-only production. Here’s David Carr. Conversely, TVFury will become a print-only edition starting next month. Sign up for our newsletter or fax.

* TV geeks might enjoy this ongoing thread on The best single episode in TV history. One from The Sopranos? The Wire? Seinfeld? Mary Tyler Moore?

* I didn’t agree with parts of this Rafe Bartholomew Grantland story, but it was really interesting. Bartholomew was a childhood teammate of Smush Parker, who has been in the news recently because Kobe Bryant has taken lots of verbal shots at him, even though the two last played together six years ago.

* Dan Wetzel on John Calipari’s dream of having a 40-0 season.

* Wetzel again, this time on why it was wrong for Nike to ditch Lance Armstrong at this time.

* Grantland’s Zach Lowe looks at what Kevin Love’s injury will mean for the Timberwolves. Man, wish they hadn’t gotten rid of Darko now.

* Pretty informative (if not exactly literary) piece from Taxi breaking down Twitter stats. Among the findings: The average user is female, American, has an iPhone and boasts 208 followers. I feel like we should be able to use this information for good, but I’m not sure how.

* In other tech news, the BlackBerry is officially uncool. Frankly, I think we’ve known that for a couple years, but The New York Times makes it official. Still, I wish the iPhone handled email as well.

* And, finally, the prestigious podcast of the week award goes to … the College Basketball Podcast. I checked it out for the first time the other day and came away impressed on several fronts: There are multiple personalities and therefore multiple viewpoints; those viewpoints come from folks who are certified hoops junkies (the kind that watch practices and follow the summer circuit); and there’s a general easiness. The humor seems genuine yet present and I didn’t sense anybody trying to do anything flashy in an attempt to create buzz. Seems like it might be worth adding to the rotation now that the hoops season is upon us. Check it out here.

That song. It’s stuck in my head again.

“Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV?”

The funny thing is that as my oldest daughter has discovered Full House via reruns on Nickelodeon, I have found myself asking those very questions. OK, maybe not those exact questions. But watching a good, old-fashioned late 1980s-to-mid-1990s sitcom does have me wondering if such shows still exist.