Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I’ve spent most of the past four months reading about the jump shot, talking about the jump shot and thinking about the jump shot. A few times — when playing with other old guys in northern Manhattan or playing H-O-R-S-E against one of the great streetball shooters in NYC history — I’ve also been shooting jump shots. I’ve loved every moment of it. Reading about the jumper has proven especially enjoyable. I’ve looked through hundreds of old newspaper articles and magazine profiles, features on some of the first players to ever shoot the shot and profiles of some of the best to ever shoot it.

The only problem with all this reading research is I’m easily distracted. While reading about a player from 1942 who pioneered the jump shot I get distracted by a bizarre ad on the same newspaper page or a headline about the U.S. hockey team preparing to take on the hated Commies. Old newspapers employed colorful language, if not layout, the front page hosting 10, 15 stories, same thing with the front page of sports. I often find myself questioning the editorial decisions of people who worked 80 years ago and have probably been dead for 60.


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.


Your boy has a new hangout: The library.

“But you don’t even read, TV.”

No, no, I do not. (Cue sound of future job prospects being flushed down the toilet.) But I do use the Internet. And I like snacks and comfy seats and giant windows and funky decor. And quiet – mostly quiet. (more…)


Remember earlier this summer when TV made his (gripping) debut as an extra in a short film? Well, the piece behind that production – originally penned for McSweeney’s – is part of a soon-to-be-released book by Sioux Falls author Brian Bieber.

That is the subject of this week’s TVFury podcast.

Bieber is, among other things, 1) self-publishing a book called Nickel Plated Gold 2) which is a collection of stories and essays he’s written over the years 3) while not working as an advertising and marketing pro. And 4) he’s tried to push advance sales by putting out a couple of high-quality visual promos, including the aforementioned video that’s been well received at Funny or Die.

It’s an interesting approach and makes for good conversation. Here’s the link. 

I had three hometown newspapers when I was growing up. The Janesville Argus was the most literal representation, its small offices located on Main Street one block from our house. The quality of the Argus was totally dependent on the quality of the paper’s publisher. As a kid the paper was blessed with great publishers and editors, making the weekly Argus a great read. That quality declined over the years until the main question about the Argus wasn’t “What’s in it this week?”  but “Is it still alive?”

The Waseca County News was a bit bigger, but still a weekly. Twice-a-week when I was a kid and was a paperboy raking in the big quarters while lugging my heavy bag around Janesville, avoiding angry dogs and grouchy widows.


Eight years ago I was trying to write my book Keeping the Faith and was struggling with…how to write my book Keeping the Faith. Having spent my career in newspapers,expanding a story beyond 25 inches seemed daunting. I had all this great information and all these colorful characters, but how do you take that and create a narrative? Around the time I started with the actual writing, I received a copy of the St. John’s alumni magazine and it included a note about a 1986 graduate named John Rosengren, who was an author in the Twin Cities.

Rosengren…I knew the name. A year earlier I read his book Blades of Glory, about the powerhouse Bloomington Jefferson hockey team. I’m not even a hockey guy but I enjoyed the book and recommended it to the hockey guys I knew. When I read it I didn’t know Rosengren had been a Johnnie. A connection!


As I type this parts of South Dakota and Minnesota are under a severe winter storm warning. Yes, on April 19. Sometimes I really miss Minnesota. Other times…

This week’s links:

* So many stories from a horrific week, but S.L. Price wrote about the Boston Bruins’ first game at home after the Marathon bombing.

* Patton Oswalt delivers an impassioned Star Wars filibuster for an episode of Parks & Rec.

* And if you didn’t read Oswalt’s Facebook post after the bombings, check it out.

* For you morning TV fans, read how Matt Lauer was a mean person and got Ann Curry kicked off Today.

* From The Onion: Internet comes up with 8.5 million leads on potential Boston bombing suspect.

* Check out the comments on Deadspin where people share their favorite Rasheed Wallace moments.

* A longread from Mark Bowden in Vanity Fair about a murder mystery in Texas. 

* Legendary Division III coach Frosty Westering died and Chuck Culpepper writes a great tribute on Sports on Earth. Westering’s Pacific Lutheran teams won the 1999 title and faced John Gagliardi’s St. John’s Johnnies four straight years in the playoffs, great battles between two of the country’s unique programs.

* The San Diego Padres president blames Zack Greinke for the big brawl between his team and Greinke’s Dodgers. Includes Rain Man reference.

* This might merit a longer post at a later date: A list of 40 workspaces that inspired famously creative people. I think I speak for all (middling) writers when I say that place is one of the most important and underrated part of the process.
One of my latest go-to spots: The gym. Seriously.

* This week’s podcast of the week: The Will Leitch Experience. The former Deadspin writer (and guest on The Fury Files) has started a daily pod in conjunction with longform project Sports on Earth. To be honest, I haven’t had time to listen to it yet. But that didn’t stop me from adding it to my iPhone podcast library – a meaningful sign that I expect it to be good.

Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, which are currently defending themselves in a million dollar lawsuit brought by Rockford. Check out all the previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard, Roland Lazenby, Will Leitch and Patrick Reusse.

This week’s guest is Peter Richmond, a former newspaper reporter who went on to become one of the country’s best magazine writers at GQ and is now a best-selling author. He’s also been a planning board member in a small village in New York.

Richmond graduated from Yale, where he studied under the legendary John Hersey and David Milch. I’d say more about that but I’ve already given away too much and Richmond talks all about it below. Richmond’s been honored numerous times in the Best American Sports Writing series and his 1992 story about Tommy Lasorda’s son, Tommy Jr., who died of AIDS, earned a spot in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century. If anyone ever produces a book called The Best American Sports Writing of the Millennium, the Lasorda piece will find its way there as well (the story is now available online on the Stacks section of Deadspin and has been anthologized in the BASW series and in the book Fathers & Sons & Sports).

The author of numerous books, Richmond is currently working on a biography of Phil Jackson. Previous efforts include My Father’s War: A Son’s Journey, a book that detailed Richmond’s efforts to discover just what it meant when he heard his late father (who died when Richmond was a young boy and had won two Silver Stars in World War II) described as a war hero. In 2010, Richmond wrote Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders. Among his other works? Ballpark: Camden Yards and the Building of an American Dream, and Fever: The Life and Music of Peggy Lee.

Richmond has a style that makes writing look easy, which disguises the fact his stories only read like that because of his talent and the exhaustive work that went into reporting his pieces and books. While he spends most of his time these days working on books, his words still pop up elsewhere. Check out his Grantland piece about how America can’t build a decent sports stadium. Or his story for SB Nation Longform about the world championship of blind baseball. And here’s his 1990 piece about Bill Murray. This past week he wrote on Bronx Banter about Hall of Famer Bernard King and his forgotten arrests, and I can only imagine the angry letters he received from Knicks fans. A devoted New York Giants fan — he also wrote a best-selling book with Frank Gifford about the famous 1958 title gameRichmond hosts a radio show about Big Blue, which was the subject of a New York Times story. And be sure to check out Richmond’s website.

Here, Richmond talks about studying under legends, the badass Raiders, the mysterious Phil Jackson, Phish, his writing style, why Cincinnati hated him, why Tommy Lasorda stopped talking to him, his evolution as a writer and much more. Thanks a lot for your time, Peter.


Real movies, fake stories

Posted: December 19, 2012 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

In my free time I watch a lot of sports. I watch a lot of movies. I read a lot of books. I read a lot of newspapers and magazines. Sometimes, thanks to our three laptops, iPad, two televisions, Netflix subscriptions, HBO Go access and NBA League Pass, I might do all of those things at once.

And often times as I watch a movie, I sometimes wonder: What if this story was happening in the real world? This isn’t about based on true life movies or inspired by real events movies or anything like that. It’s wondering about movies based on nothing but a screenwriter’s imagination, and wondering how real-life writers would handle the chaos, crime, love story, thrills, action, bravery and cowardice that takes place in the films. To break it down a bit more, how would a feature writer at a newspaper or a longform writer at a magazine handle the tales we see once on the big screen and then a hundred times on a small one?


Welcome to the latest edition of the Fury Files, the favorite Q&A of people who think the world really is ending on December 21. Check out previous editions with Tom Linnemann, John Millea, David Brauer, Joe Posnanski, Pat Coleman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Michael Kruse, Chris Jones, Chris Ballard and Roland Lazenby.

This week’s guest is writer Will Leitch. I’d put a magazine or website name in front of writer, but Leitch works for such a wide variety of publications, it’d be impossible to put just one title there. Leitch is a contributing editor at New York Magazine, where he usually writes about sports but displays his versatility on a regular basis, like when he interviewed Spike Lee. Earlier this year he became a contributing writer for the new website Sports on Earth, a fun site that includes contributions from writers like Joe Posnanski, Chuck Culpeppper and Gwen Knapp. There he writes about a variety of topics. A defense of Joe Buck? A story on the Nets-Knicks game? A piece on the beleaguered Arizona Cardinals? They’re all on Sports on Earth.

Leitch is a regular contributor to GQ, where he’s written in-depth profiles of Michael Vick, Derrick Rose and Jeremy Lin. It’s not all about sports, though. With longtime friend Tim Grierson, Leitch regularly reviews movies for Deadspin. Leitch is the founding editor of the Gawker empire’s sports site, which he left for New York magazine in 2008.

A native of Mattoon, Illinois, Leitch is a passionate fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and the Arizona Cardinals football team, who earned his undying loyalty when they were losing games in bewildering fashion in the Midwest instead of the Southwest. Leitch graduated from the University of Illinois and is still in love with the football teams and basketball teams. He might still have a Kenny Battle poster hanging in his bedroom and at some point in his career — either for Slate or a weekly paper in Illinois — he’s likely written 3,500 words about why Jack Trudeau to David Williams was the most underrated quarterback-receiver combo in NCAA history.

His enthusiasm for his favorite sports — for the players, the teams, the games, the moments — remains one of his greatest strength as a writer, but he’s also great at writing. And he can handle it any form, from long magazine profiles to short opinion pieces on the web. In addition to all of his other work, Leitch is the author of four books, including his most recent, Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball. If you need more of his writing? There’s always his Tumblr page. Or Twitter.

Here, Leitch talks about Spike Lee and Woody Allen, the 1987 World Series (Twins!), Letterman, the difference between magazines, websites and books, what motivates him as a writer and a lot more. Thanks a lot for your time, Will.