Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Van Valkenburg’


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Read these while eating a turkey sandwich.

* The New York Times on a case involving a police officer’s girlfriend who supposedly committed suicide but might have been murdered by the officer.

* Three new J.D. Salinger stories apparently leaked online.

* ESPN the Magazine’s Kevin Van Valkenburg on the week of an NFL coach, specifically John Harbaugh.

* Bryan Curtis on some of the great sports hoaxes.

* One of the great traditions: Patrick Reusse’s Turkey of the Year.

* My old boss Doug Wolter writes in the Worthington Daily Globe about why it would be a mistake for my old school Minnesota West to drop its football program in the wake of an ugly end-of-the-game brawl that ended the season.

* Michigan State coach Tom Izzo isn’t high on the new emphasis on calling touch fouls in men’s basketball.

* There’s a riddle floating around the Ultrawebs and nobody seems able to crack it. (Editor’s note: If you find the riddle because of this link and subsequently solve it, TVFury shall be owed half your winnings.)


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.


Looks like the Lakers have a new center. We’ll have to see how this plays out – both in the coming days and season – but the most amusing thing to me when a deal like this happens is the reaction of Celtics fans, who seethe about the unfairness of the NBA and how they’re giving up on the league because the Lakers are the favored sons. Celtics fans complain about this. Celtics fans. Because the NBA was so fair in the 1960s – and if you don’t think Celtics fans still brag about those years, you’ve never been around a Celtics fans for more than 76 seconds – and the NBA had such diverse champions in the 1980s. And in 2008, that wasn’t the Celtics bringing together three Hall of Famers. No, that was Celtic Pride. That was grit and smarts.

On to the links:

* ESPN Magazine’s college football preview is out and there are some outstanding pieces in it. One of them is Wright Thompson on Urban Meyer. The other is former Fury Files guest Kevin Van Valkenburg on Honey Badger.

* Interesting story on a Reds PR person who had a bit of a meltdown on Twitter.

* Story for triathletes – or aspiring ones like Terry. The NYC one could be in jeopardy because of some, well, sewage in the Hudson.

* Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel on the Irish boxer who won gold.

* Fury and I need to stop reading the same stuff. It makes this segment harder (and weaker) than it’s supposed to be. Sigh.
How about this one? The New York Times reports it’s conceivable that all human life originated from Mars. It’s complicated and sciency, but worth the read. (Disclaimer: TVFury is not responsible for reader behavior, including, but not limited to, making and wearing aluminum-foil helmets.)

* And, finally, because it’s been at least a month since I trumpeted the virtues of living in the Dakotas … North Dakota and South Dakota are ranked among the top-10 places to live in 2032 by, well, some guy using certain criteria. Just move here, already. Or don’t. I’m not sure where I stand on that yet. Maybe we could start an application process.


A quickie Tapes for this week, as I’m about to pass out from chugging Nyquil to battle a cold I came down with. My wife’s half-a-world away, otherwise she’d make me soup or something. I’d feel bad making her fly all day back from Africa just to heat up some chicken noodle.

Onward:

* I’m linking to two pieces I haven’t read, which is violating an unwritten TVFury rule. Both deal with the case in Ohio when a troubled man let loose his exotic animals before killing himself. Police were forced to shoot tigers and bears and other creatures that had been released. Esquire’s Chris Jones wrote about it, as did GQ’s Chris Heath. I’ve heard both stories are good but quite different. There is also some inside baseball going on as it’s odd for two writers at rivals to be working on a story like this at the same time in the magazine world. This New York Observer article explains some of it. I haven’t read either story because I’m waiting for each magazine in the mail. Old school.

* Bill Simmons did a podcast with his sports hero, Larry Bird. Even as a Lakers fan I enjoyed the piece, primarily because it’s fun listening to a basketball genius like Larry talk hoops, even if you have to wade through way too much talk about the 1986 Celtics and how if Kevin McHale had been healthy in 1987, he would have blocked Magic’s skyhook in Game 4 of the Finals.

* TVFury readers will remember Kevin Van Valkenburg, who did a Fury Files in December. He just started working for ESPN the Magazine but penned a goodbye to his old paper, The Baltimore sun. A good read.

* Up next, not poetry, but candid words from a situation that’s a total cluster: The University of North Dakota nickname debate. Without getting into too much detail, the NCAA deemed the Fighting Sioux bit “hostile and abusive.” Boosters bristled. Laws were changed. And now the issue is threatening to cost the school future conference affiliation.
This story by Tom Miller from the Grand Forks Herald includes the most candid in-house comments maybe ever on the subject. That’s one of the things I miss least about living and working in North Dakota – the potential to be assigned to update that fiasco. It sort of makes me want to jam a pen into my eyeball the way this dude in Fargo once did after his arson-for-insurance scam was uncovered.

* Are you ready for the latest breakthrough in energy-drink can technology? Meet West Coast Chill. It comes equipped with a button that causes the temp of the swill to drop 30 degrees. I think about how much the world needs this every time I work in the office, my soda turning room temp before I can finish it. Yuck. And pouring it into, say, some sort of insulated thermos will make it go flat.
This entry will fit perfectly in my upcoming book, “I would have been totally screwed if I live in the 1800s.”


It’s time for the latest edition of The Fury Files, WordPress’s third-most popular Q&A, even though I still can’t quite decide if I should capitalize “The” before Fury Files. Check out previous interviews with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski and Pat Coleman.

This week’s guest is Kevin Van Valkenburg, who is, according to his Twitter profile, a “Scribbler by trade. Montanan by birth. Baltimorian by marriage. Baltimore Sun feature writer at the moment.” He’s also one of the best writers in the business.

Van Valkenburg arrived in Baltimore shortly after graduating from the University of Montana in 2000. A Missoula, Mont., native, Van Valkenburg’s writing has earned him numerous awards, including four honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors. A 2004 story he wrote  – “Rayna’s Second Season” – was honored in the 2005 edition of The Best American Sportswriting (Here’s Part 1. And Part 2.). The profile told the story of former Virginia Tech basketball player Rayna DuBose, who suffered devastating injuries after being afflicted with meningococcal meningitis.

The man can tell a story. But he's even better at writing them.

Van Valkenburg can write in any style – short or long, in print or online. He dissects Ravens games for the Sun with the skill of a seasoned football analyst. He’s a funny blogger who can write about Project Runway but also pen poignant pieces on everything from playing golf with his dad, to taking a memorable road trip with former Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen. But he’s at his best when writing long features, where his reporting and writing skills truly shine. Van Valkenburg also isn’t limited to the pages of the Baltimore Sun. Earlier this year, he wrote a piece for a blog run by Esquire writer Chris Jones, where Van Valkenburg looked back on a memorable night at Elaine’s, the once-legendary, now-closed New York restaurant that was always home to actors, artists, editors and writers.

He’s also a bit of a dreamer, a romantic when it comes to the art of writing, whether you’re talking novels or nonfiction, newspapers or magazines. I could listen to him talk about writing for hours. Here, he writes about writing for thousands of words and I couldn’t be happier.

Van Valkenburg played football at the University of Montana, where his mom, Carol, a former reporter herself, served as a distinguished journalism professor. His dad, Fred, is the Missoula County Attorney. Read below to find out why Kevin became a writer and not a lawyer.

Perhaps most importantly, Van Valkenburg is a Lakers fan.

Here, Kevin talks about growing up with an editor mom, life as a college football player, literary heroes, leaving Montana and living in Baltimore, his story that made it into the Best American Sportswriting book, The Wire, David Stern’s ego, the writing life and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Kevin.

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