Posts Tagged ‘magazines’


I spent part of the four-day weekend catching up on the old New Yorker magazines that piled up on a table by the couch. Grabbing one from the bottom, I noticed the pile started with one from September. I haven’t caught completely up and I certainly didn’t read every story in every issue — that would have left no time for eating, sleeping, watching TV or tending to basic hygiene — but I read tens of thousands of words. It’s still one of the best magazines, obviously, but I was also recently reminded of just how different the publishing world has changed over the years, even though the New Yorker’s place near the top has rarely changed.

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It’s 1921. You’re a parent. You have a boy or a girl. School doesn’t offer the challenges your child needs, or maybe it doesn’t provide the discipline that will be required when the kid goes on to their next step in life. Fortunately, if you subscribed to Good Housekeeping, you can look at 13 pages of advertisements for various military academies, boys’ schools, girls’ schools, Bishop’s schools, art schools, home economic schools, powder point schools and much, much, — no, really, much — more.

When we arrived at my parents’ house in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon I quickly noticed a stack of very old magazines sitting on their very new dining room table. Old Life magazines. Look magazines from 1964. A Ladies Home Journal from 1961.

And a Good Housekeeping from June 1921. How could I not spend an hour digging through these?

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Terry came up with the idea. Terry dreamed up the name. Terry designed a logo. Terry secured the address. Terry solicited the first guest pieces. Terry created the Facebook and Twitter pages. Terry came up with early ideas. Terry wrote the first post. Terry remains the driving force.

So I guess it’s time I drop my lawsuit to get the name changed to FuryTV.

TVFury was born a year ago today, when Terry wrote a short, somewhat cryptic message that included a picture of a headless torso wearing a shirt emblazoned with his name. Since then we’ve published something every weekday, haven’t missed a one. We’ve written a lot about the St. John’s football team and even more about the Lakers (well, I’ve written about those things). We’ve written about technology and the future and school reading programs. We’ve written about life in New York City and life at a modern newspaper. We’ve welcomed numerous guest writers and attempted to make them feel at home, even while reminding them to use coasters and take their shoes off before entering. We’ve conducted podcasts with each other that ones of people have listened to and done pods with business owners that hundreds have listened to. We’ve conducted interviews with some of the best writers in the country.

It’s been a fun year.

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Back by popular demand, it’s The Fury Files, the seventh-most downloaded Q&A on Kindle. As always, I will shamelessly plug previous editions, so check out my interviews with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van ValkenburgMichael Kruse and Chris Jones.

When Ballard talks about writing or hoops, you’ll want to listen.

This week’s guest is Chris Ballard, a Senior Writer for Sports Illustrated. Ballard joined SI in 2000 and has been a Senior Writer for about eight years. All he’s done during that time is become one of the best writers in the magazine, not to mention one of the most versatile. Ballard is best-known for his superb NBA writing. And while it’s a well-deserved reputation — as these stories on the dunk and Kevin Durant prove — it would be unfortunate if his skills as a hoops wordsmith overshadowed the fact he’s put together a series of features at SI that stack up against anyone’s.

This year, Ballard was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in profile writing for a November 2011 story about Dewayne Dedmon, a Jehovah’s Witness who went against his mother’s beliefs and eventually became a Division I basketball player. Twice Ballard has earned inclusion in the Best American Sports Writing series. The first time was for his 2006 story on an insane high school football game in Arkansas. The 2011 anthology honored Ballard’s story on Cal crew member Jill Costello and her inspiring fight against cancer. Some of Ballard’s other memorable features include his piece on retired quarterback Jake Plummer, the story of the kissing couple from the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots and a piece from this past February, which you very well might find in next year’s BASW book. The feature focused on Chicago-area high school wrestling coach Mike Powell and his fight against a draining, potentially deadly illness. Ballard did an interview with freelance writer Brandon Sneed and the pair dissected the story on Powell. Make sure to check it out. In the most recent Sports Illustrated — the May 14 issue — Ballard examines Kobe Bryant, his dad, Jellybean, and mom, Pam. The story is “Where Does Greatness Come From?” and is another superb piece by Ballard.

Ballard has also written four books, with the newest one hitting bookstores next week. His first, Hoops Nation, chronicled his half-year-long trip across the country playing pickup basketball. The Butterfly Hunter: Adventures of People Who Found Their True Calling Way Off The Beaten Path came out in 2006. And in 2009, he wrote one of my favorite basketball books ever, The Art of a Beautiful Game.

His latest effort, which is already receiving a lot of praise, is One Shot at Forever: A small town, an unlikely coach and a magical baseball season, the story of a high school baseball team in Illinois that accomplished great things back in the early 1970s. Hoosiers on the diamond. Ballard first told the story of the Macon Ironmen in a 2010 Sports Illustrated story. The book will be released on May 15.

Back to hoops. Ballard was a good high school player who played a year for Division III Pomona College in California. He’s still pretty tough and if you watch the video in this story Ballard wrote about some magical shoes, you can watch a sports writer dunk.

Below, Ballard talks about the inner editorial workings of Sports Illustrated, playing hoops with his dad, an interesting piece about a boring Tiger Woods, column writing vs. longform, finding your voice as a writer, writing about Kobe, his new book, Hoosiers, and a whole lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Chris.

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After a nearly three-month hiatus, the Fury Files make their triumphant return (thanks to those who signed the online petition demanding their reinstatement. We heard you). Check out previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg and Michael Kruse.

This week’s guest is Chris Jones, a guy with a common name but uncommon talent. Jones is a Writer at Large for Esquire and has won two National Magazine Awards. A few months ago he took over as the backpage columnist at ESPN the Magazine. He was an original contributor to Bill Simmons’ Grantland. He’s also written two books, Falling Hard: A Rookie’s Year in Boxing, and Too Far From Home, A Story of Life and Death in Space. And even though it’s been silent for awhile, Jones’s blog – Son of Bold Venture – was an insightful, entertaining look into the life, and mind, of a writer. You can also follow him on Twitter at MySecondEmpire.

Jones has written some of the more memorable magazine stories of the past decade. He won the National Magazine Award for 2004’s Home, which told the story of the astronauts who were on the International Space Station when Columbia exploded in February 2003. And he won the award for 2008’s The Things That Carried Him, the remarkable story of Joey Montgomery, a soldier killed in Iraq. But everything Jones writes is a must-read, whether it’s a feature on an athlete or a politician, a movie star or a movie critic. Read his piece on Ricky Williams. Read all of his features on John McCain. Read his profile of Jeff Bridges. Read his famous story on Roger Ebert. Read his piece on the guy who outsmarted The Price is Right. And for god’s sake, read his story on what it’s like being a paramedic.

Not all of his stories are serious or require dozens of interviews. He’s just as fun to read when he writes about a fistfight with a hippie named Jericho or the best bar in America (which just happens to be in Minnesota.)

So far, 2012 has been a fascinating year for Jones, though he would likely use a different word to describe it. He’s written two major pieces already this year, one on the escaped animals from a private zoo in Zanesville, Ohio, the other on Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro. Unfortunately for Jones, two other magazines also did major stories on the escaped animals in Zanesville and Robert Caro. And both came out at the same time as his Esquire stories. This did not make for an entirely happy Writer at Large.

Jones is from that mysterious land to the north, Canada. He started his professional career at Canada’s the National Post, where he earned acclaim as a sportswriter. The start of his Esquire career is somewhat legendary, at least among writers and those who long to be writers. While still at the Post, Jones walked into the Esquire building in New York City unannounced, with donuts and a dream (memoir title?). He was able to talk an Esquire editor into reading his work. Months later, while unemployed and practically homeless, he earned a shot with the magazine and made the most of it, becoming Esquire’s sports columnist (read all about that beginning in this talk he gave late last year). That gig eventually turned into his current position, where he’s established himself as perhaps the best magazine writer in the country. Many people have heard of Jones’s magazine ploy and wished they could do the same, perhaps forgetting that the most important things in his arsenal that day weren’t snacks, but a lot of talent and even more desire.

Here, Jones talk about Robert Caro, the importance of endings, writing about writers, Mike Weir’s greatness, duplicate stories, a famous sex column, the lifespan of a long-form writer and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Chris.

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Welcome to a Good Friday version of The Tapes. And now here are some links that have nothing to do with Easter.

* This week the National Magazine Award finalists were announced and Byliner.com put together the nominees and their stories. Here are the finalists in feature writing and here are the finalists in profile writing, which include a story by future Fury Files interviewee Chris Ballard.

* Here’s the strange story of a Moorhead woman who received a $12,000 tip as a waitress but then lost the cash as police believed it might be drug money. After the story became national news and people complained to the police – and wished death upon them, which is always a smart thing to do – the lady eventually got her money.

* Speaking of weird money stories, the tale of the Maryland woman who claims the winning Mega Millions ticket is hidden away in the McDonald’s where she worked continues to fascinate me.

* Dear Prudence: Why do you continue to publish obviously fake letters? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy them and everything, but, still, why?

* The St. John’s football stadium – the Natural Bowl – now has lights. Odd. There are no plans for night games for the Johnnies, though there may be high school games played at Clemens Stadium and the lights allow for longer practices. Look out, Tommies.

* TV here. There was a time where I (sort of) wondered if the Natural Bowl was sponsored by Natural Ice. Sigh.

* Controversial piece in ESPN The Mag this week by Pulitzer Prize winner Don Van Natta Jr., about the ongoing saga at Penn State. Some have applauded the piece for exposing Gov. Thomas W. Corbett Jr., while others have said it’s too kind to the late Joe Paterno. Either way, it’s a fascinating read.

* And, finally, give the reading part of your brain a rest and enjoy this television story about TV’s family. Yes, it’s amazing to see how far his little one (born at just 24 weeks gestation) has come, but it’s still surreal to be a part of such a gut-wrenching reality.
Here’s the link: KELOLAND.com Video.


Welcome to the seventh edition of The Fury Files, the most popular Internet Q&A in South Africa, at least according to my Cape Town in-laws. Check out previous versions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman and Kevin Van Valkenburg.

This week’s guest is Michael Kruse, a writer on the enterprise staff for the Tampa Bay Times. If you’re unfamiliar with that paper, it’s because it was called the St. Petersburg Times until January 1, when it changed names to reflect changing times. But no matter where Kruse’s byline appears – and it’s appeared everywhere from ESPN, to Yahoo! to Charlotte Magazine and on Grantland, not to mention on the cover of a book – his work stands out. Kruse has been honored by a variety of news organizations for his writing, from the Associated Press Sports Editors to the Society of Professional Journalists to many more. It’s impossible to classify him as one type of writer, because he excels in every genre. As comfortable writing about sports as he is a fallen political leader, Kruse has a knack for finding unique stories that no one else wrote about or a unique angle on a story everyone’s written about.

For his newspaper, he’s written about the loneliness of a monkey on the run and the odd case of a Bruce Springsteen fan who faked his own death on a Boss message board. During LeBron James’s infamous first season with the Miami Heat – when everyone with a laptop or a microphone offered opinions on the superstar – Kruse profiled sports reporter Brian Windhorst, who has covered James since his high school days and left Cleveland for a job with ESPN when LeBron took his talents to a beach in Florida. He’s also passionate about helping other writers and championing the work of his peers, such as serving as a writing coach at a workshop in memory of the late, beloved editor Mike Levine (the video above is a piece of Levine’s).

In the last few months, he’s contributed to Bill Simmons’s Grantland, including a piece on the influence of the Oregon football team’s uniforms.

In 2008, Butler Books published Kruse’s book Taking the Shot: The Davidson Basketball Moment. It profiled the Davidson basketball team’s run to the Elite Eight in the ’08 NCAA tournament, which ended with a heartbreaking loss against eventual national champion Kansas. Kruse graduated from Davidson in 2000. All he’s done since is establish himself as one of the best feature writers in the country.

Here, Kruse talks about what he would change about his book experience, the value of silence, the thrill of discovering a long-lost police report, loneliness, the St. Pete Times – er, Tampa Bay Times – what he means when he talks about writing, and a whole lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Michael.

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Last weekend, a moment of inspiration turned into hours of perspiration and, eventually, aggravation. I reorganized our overflowing bookshelves, believing it would make  life easier if I broke the books down into subject or by author or with some system that was at least superior to “let’s just keep stacking these dusty tomes until they reach the ceiling.”

It was a good plan and would have been even better if I had hired someone to do the actual reorganization. By the time I stood on our hardwood floor, surrounded by dozens of hardcovers and paperbacks, some of which I actually did climb upon when I couldn’t find any floor below me, I realized I was out of my element. I’m a gatherer, not an organizer. I’m not going to appear on any shows devoted to exposing the worst hoarders in this country, but I’m also not someone who can easily spend three hours filing and stacking.

But that’s what I did.

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It’s time for another edition of the Fury Files, the most popular Q&A segment on the Internet (waiting for official verification of that title). The first edition featured former St. John’s quarterback Tom Linnemann, and the second current MSHSL writer and former Star Tribune reporter John Millea.

This week’s guest is David Brauer, media critic extraordinaire who is one of the best-known/respected/feared writers in the Twin Cities. Brauer has done a little bit of everything in a career that has spanned nearly 30 years. He worked as a reporter for the Twin Cities Reader and City Pages and was the editor of the Southwest Journal. Proving he could talk as well as write, Brauer also broadcast for both KFAN and KSTP-AM in the mid-90s, where he talked about both sports and politics, two subjects that remain close to his heart, as his readers know.

He’s done freelance writing for numerous publications, including Minnesota Monthly and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Today he works for Minnpost.com and runs the influential Brau Blog, a site that documents the hirings, firings, successes, failures and controversies of Minnesota’s newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, magazines and everything in between.

What kind of reputation does Bauer have among the people he covers? The Star Tribune called him “the sheriff of Minnesota media,” a title he’s earned thanks to his willingness to dig, great sources, superb reporting and outstanding writing (it’s unclear if Dennis Green realizes he’s been replaced as the town’s sheriff). Brauer’s also something of a Twitter-holic and it doesn’t seem he’ll be cured anytime soon. And while he does much of his work today in blog posts or 140 characters, he’s shown his ability over and over again with long-form pieces. His 2006 piece on former Star Tribune editor Anders Gyllenhaal for Minnesota Monthly remains a great  read, an outstanding profile of a big-city editor guiding an old newspaper through a new media world.

In April, Brauer took a hiatus from his blog to recover from liver damage that was caused by a bad reaction to drugs (“boring legal pills” he called them). He was gone for about a month. When he returned he wrote of doing some longer pieces, but you’ll have to read below to find out how that is going for Brauer. He says he’s at about “98 percent” and while he’s currently not writing as much for Brau Blog he continues to be a thoughtful, influential voice on the Twin Cities media scene. Plus, he continues to be the Nick Punto of Twitter, always giving 110 percent.

Here, Brauer talks about a possible change in his philosophy, technology and how it affects writers, comments on newspaper websites, life in alternative media, the tragedy of young Minnesota sports fans, a Dream Team of Minnesota journalists, and more. Thanks a lot for your time, David.

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