My Slight Unexpected Obsession With Man V. Food

Adam Richman - Man v. FoodA note to any current or aspiring cable TV programmers: never underestimate what viewers you can pick up at the wee hours of the morning.

In recent years when I visited my friend Rob in Portland, ME, we’d come back from the bars and occasionally, he’d have an episode or two of The Travel Channel’s Man v. Food on his DVR. I always thought the show was really entertaining but always forgot about it after I left…even after I found myself watching a marathon after everyone else had passed out.

Almost three weeks ago, Rob told me the show did an episode in/around Portland, so I had to watch. In the process, I decided to start DVR’ing the series in case there were a few others along the way that were worth my time.

In that time, something crazy happened. It seems I’ve become a bit of an addict (think TV antenna instead of heroin needles).

As it stands today, I’ve torn through at least 40 of the 56 episodes and have no plans to quit until I’m completely caught up. I watch a couple episodes at night and maybe one if I come home for lunch. Alright…maybe two at lunch.

For the love of Monte Cristo, what’s happened to me?

If you’re not familiar with MvF (yep, I’m now using the acronym), it’s a 30-minute show that revolves around host Adam Richman and his travels across the country to take on various mass quantity and heat/spice-centric eating challenges. As I’ve watched, it’s incredible to note just how many of these various challenges there are and I don’t think he’s even come close to scratching the surface.

The show does get formulaic at times, especially when you rip through several at a time. The show essentially breaks down like this:

– Opening sequence where Richman lays out the location, challenge and a challenge-related pun.

– Intro of the city he’s in and a stop by a local restaurant for one of their famous dishes. Phrases like “mouth-watering”, “savory” and “delicious” are thrown around liberally.

– Hunger usually ensues at this point. Never watch this show on an empty stomach. EVER.

– After the first commercial, the 36-year-old Richman takes us to another local spot for another famous offering. These stops are where the show really shines as Richman is masterful at illustrating what makes these places so important to the city. It is The Travel Channel, but it’s still noteworthy how well done it is.

– Another commercial and we get the challenge itself where Richman shows how everything is made, usually feigning fear and spitting out more quips, and then, it’s on. He even has a crowd around him, filling the dining establishment to cheer him on as he shovels food and drink down his gullet.

– Halfway through the challenge, we get another commercial but not before a tease that Richman is struggling with the challenge (conflict!).  We return, he either succeeds or fails and that’s the show.

And that, my hungry friends, is MvF in a nicely wrapped 24-minute bow.

So what makes it so good? Mostly, this guy:

Richman is instantly likable and looks unlike most hosts on these types of shows. Slightly overweight, he comes off like a normal person and acts as if he’s having the time of his life. I learned that he is a trained actor and you can tell as there’s a bit of ham (pun slightly intended) in his act, but it works. His trademark “MMMMMMMMMMMMM!” when he samples something he likes is worthy of a drinking game.

(I keep thinking of how to put together an MvF drinking game, but that seems too far….or maybe not far enough. I need help.)

The producers and those that line up the locations before hand are the unsung heroes as they always seem to connect with the region he’s visiting. For the Portland edition, I honestly had never heard of Trade Winds where he did his challenge (it’s in Arundel, which is just outside Portland) but he also hit up Nosh in town and a seafood restaurant in Cape Elizabeth. It was a wide variety but also a great slice (pun!) of the area’s food offerings.

But every stop seems so interesting to go to. After the Durham/Raleigh/Chapel Hill, NC, edition, I texted my friend Brittain (a UNC grad) to see if she had been to one of the locations. It creates immediate destinations to visit upon visiting some of these locales, key when you’re visiting Butte, Montana, Boise, Idaho or Richmond, VA.

There are some hokey spots in each show (the forced crowd prompts as Richman eats and the post-challenge “press conference” questions are awkward at times), but when you’re talking about a show that is about a guy doing food challenges across the U.S., I suppose that comes with the territory.

Why do I like it?

I’m not a big travel show or food show type of guy, but there’s something about Man v. Food that I can’t shake. Perhaps it’s because I’d love to travel around…or maybe because I rarely cook for myself…or simply because I find it so awesome that each of these cities has their own unique niche of food and there’s a story behind it.

No matter what it is, MvF doesn’t make you work too hard mentally and will make you chuckle from time to time. Isn’t that we really want with shows like this?

With the Billy Burger challenge right here in Manchester, NH, perhaps one day I can meet my new hero in person and be one of the hokey people cheering him in the background.

A boy can dream, can’t he?

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist for hire, writing on mixed martial arts (UFC), Boston sports and email marketing but dabbling in his loves of music, comics, movies, TV and more. Follow him at Twitter and make his day, will ya?

Chris Brogan, 10k page views and a Yankees World Series hope highlight a big month of Nason posts

When it comes to writing on the web, you really don’t know what’s going to connect with the audience and translate into pageviews and reads.

Without an hour after posting my interview with UFC middleweight Nate Marquardt, I saw a news story cross the wires (well, Twitter) that hadn’t made it to Bleacher Report yet: the unannounced signing of BJ Penn vs. Matt Hughes III for November.

So I took a few minutes, wrote up a quick AP-style piece and posted it. To date, the news story has over 3700 reads and 70 comments while the Marquardt feature that took me several hours to do has just under 600 reads and 14 comments. Funny how that works, eh?

Even stranger, a few days later I was asked to do a quick news writeup of exiled-UFC’er Paul Daley signing with Strikeforce. Neither the fighter or the organization were really at the top of the MMA news cycle but to date, the story has over 5000 reads and 35 comments.  The post took about 2o minutes.

Here’s where I’ve been published the past few weeks:

MMA

UFC Fight Night: Nate Marquardt Looks To Be Award-Winning Wednesday Night

The afore-mentioned Marquardt feature which I thought turned out really good. I didn’t do the normal Q/A approach some others do and did more of a traditional magazine-style piece. The views may not be through the roof, but I’d put this up against other Marquardt feature out there.

UFC’s Greatest Fear Isn’t the Government: It’s Shine Fights

This was a column about the Shine Fights promotion and their complete lack of disregard for fighter safety by having a ring with ropes so loose, fighters were falling through them. Not good.

UFC Fight Night 22 Conference Call: Five Standout Quotes (B/R)

This was a compilation of some quotes from a somewhat bland media call for UFC Fight Night 22.

Paul Daley Signs With Strikeforce

BJ Penn/Matt Hughes III set for Detroit’s UFC 123


Radio/Podcasts

I joined Mauro Ranallo on the always awesome Fight Show, a show broadcast on Sirius 98 and TheScore.com.  We previewed the UFC Fight Night show, along with some TUF talk. The show aired on Wednesday, September 15 and is available on my audio archive page.


Email Marketing

I’ve had a great run of retweets for my SendLabs blogs, which would seem to mean that people are getting some value from them. Here’s what I’ve been writing about in my full-time gig.

An interview with BtoB Magazine

A big thanks to Karen Bannan and BtoB Magazine for interviewing yours truly earlier this week for an email marketing post on welcome emails. I hadn’t been interviewed on email marketing for a while now, so this was pretty cool.

The Red Sox hit a home run with email marketing automation

“Sitting on a supermarket bench Sunday, I did a quick inbox check while waiting for some friends and got a very effective email from an unexpected source  – specifically based on a previous purchase with a specific date on it….”

An Email Marketing Q&A With GY&K President Travis York

Just what the title says! Travis is a friend and heads up an agency we do a lot of work with.

Email Marketing Industry: That Chris Brogan Guy Is One Smart Fella

Internet darling Chris Brogan recently mentioned email marketing in a speech and it compelled me to write up a post. Chris even acknowledged the post on Twitter which was pretty cool.

Email Marketing Automation: The Ease And Greatness Of The Daily Recurring Email

A post on setting up daily recurring emails and how easy it is to do it.

3 Reasons Why The Welcome Email Is Important For Your Email Marketing Program

More email automation goodness.


Other

Things Were Different Then

My bud Darryl interviewed me for a post on what it’s like to cheer for the Red Sox at this time of year. I helped hook him up with his gig at Fire Brand Of The American League and he’s killing it for them so far. And yes, I do say in the piece that I hope the Yankees win the World Series but there’s a damn good reason. Read and you’ll see.

And as always, I’m available for hire on your next content project.

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts and email marketing, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter.

UFC Fight Night feature on Nate Marquardt is live

Even with 40 professional fights in 10+ years as a mixed martial artist, Nate Marquardt is not even close to thinking about retirement as one goal still eludes him: the UFC Middleweight Championship.

“My goal is to win the title. If that happens sooner than later…I’m not going to want to just quit,” Marquardt explained. “No matter what, I’m gonna be fighting into my late 30s or as long as my body can go.”

That body will be main eventing this Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 22 card against Rousimar Palhares in Austin, TX, in a fight that will could help determine who gets the next shot at the gold currently held by Anderson Silva.

For the full feature, here you go.

2010 MTV Video Music Awards: The Nason Running Blog

As I couldn’t watch any more Cowboys/Redskins and with next to nothing on the DVR, I turned to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards for my Sunday night entertainment.

As a 32-year-old, I’m not who MTV goes for anymore and I don’t watch anything on the network anymore, not even Jersey Shore. So without any build-up or pretense, here’s my running blog on the proceedings and my attempt to understand just what’s happening in today’s pop music scene.

Be warned. Crotchety early 30s ramblings ahead…

9 PM: We start out with Eminem performing. Is he still relevant in today’s music scene? I guess so? I am still amazed by MTV’s expansive set designs for these shows. Seriously, how many millions do they spend on this shit?

9:03 PM: Is that Rihanna in the white dress with combat-style boots? I can’t be the only one to wonder if she’s alright, can I? Ah yes…I’ve heard this song before, so it is Rihanna. I will learn later this is a surprise of some sorts.

Apparently, it’s unrealistic to think a pop singer would appear at the VMAs. Also, let’s look at the concept of the Video Music Awards. Are videos even pertinent on TV anymore or is this just online that it’s important? These are things I must understand as I’m under the assumption MTV doesn’t play videos.

9:05 PM: Chelsea Handler is the host?  She hosts a late night show on E and I’m stunned she’s at the MTV hosting level.She does a backstage skit with lots of black guys (and Lindsay Lohan) smacking her butt. We then cut to the stage and “Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga comes on. The crowd pops like she’s coming out, except it’s Handler. Gaga is later shown in the crowd with another ridiculous outfit, one of many we’ll see on the night.

During the opening monologue, Handler is actually pretty funny, jumping between a lot of racial and adult jokes. I wonder if the crowd is even trying to get this, but to those that can appreciate the absurdity of today’s music scene, this is good shit.

9:15 PM: The Best Female video is first and Lady Gaga wins for “Bad Romance”. She’s wearing a giant dress with a peacock-style headdress and is crying as she thanks everyone. I feel like that song came out 8 years ago, probably because I’ve heard it played in some fashion approximately 1 billion times.

9:25 PM: The Jackass guys are back…again? A clip is shown of Bam Margera getting hit with a giant hand full of flour. Their 3rd movie is going to be the latest to cash in on the 3D craze. They are introducing Best Rock Video, but these contenstants don’t feel like rock at all.

30 Seconds To Mars wins for “Kings and Queens”. Jared Leto and group accepts, but Leto has somehow transformed into David Bowie.

9:30 PM: Justin Bieber pulls up in a red convertible and plays to an outdoor crowd of screaming young girls who are entirely too into this kid. He lip syncs and dances with a nearly entirely African American backing band and dancers. Apparently that gives him a lot of street cred.

Oh and he can play the drums as well.

9:40 PM: Usher is introduced by the bizarre Kei$sha and the guy that does Tipsy (I think). Usher then partially lip-syncs through a performance that involves scaffolding, an elaborate laser show, an awesome lighted floor and quite a bit of dancing.  Honestly, I think if someone can dance, record companies will find someone to provide the vocals Milli Vanilli style and make a star.

That being said, this was pretty awesome. They win.

9:45 PM: Katy Perry and Nikki Menage (some lady with a giant booty) come out to introduce Best Male Video. No surprise that most of this is hip-hop.  Eminem wins, but couldn’t hang around for an hour to accept as he’s on a flight back to NY. Some guy in a mouse head completely encased in video is playing DJ into breaks. Should I know who this is? I feel so out of touch.

9:50 PM: Funny backstage skits with Handler hosting a Best New Artist brunch  are pretty good.  I also just found out that the correct spelling is Nicki Minaj. How could I not know that?

9:53 PM: Florence And The Machine perform live in their VMA debut. I’ve heard of them (her?) in passing. She puts on an earthy presentation with plenty of dancers and such. She has a good voice, but there’s nothing here that would make me believe she has staying power. As we got to break, an unnamed man comes out and starts rapping a song for a minute that I’ve heard before. I later learn this via Google that this is Travie McCoy.

We then transition to NERD playing outside and a woman doing something similar to a limbo. That only lasts a few minutes, cementing my theory that our younger society is going to have an attention span almost impossible to compare anything to. We’re actually already there, but shows like this prove it.

Perhaps the best moment of the nite is Taco Bell’s new commercial that is an homage to the old Super Friends series. They are called the Super Delicious Ingredient Force and you can see them here.  We’re about halfway through the show and so far, it’s been ok but nothing pushing me toward listening to more pop music.

10:00 PM: Maybe I don’t know Handler’s (seen right) material, but apparently she is really into black guys? More jokes ensue to lead me to that conclusion.

10:05 PM: Some of the Glee peeps come out to introduce Best Pop video. Lady Gaga wins again and is on her 2nd costume change. This ie equally as giant and ridiculous with two people needing to help her get out of her chair. She acknowledges how clunky things are. (Also, isn’t all this music pop?)

10:07 PM: Taylor Swift performs and to open, she plays the video of Kanye West interuppting her is played. Aren’t we over that yet? She performs “You’re Still An Innocent” – a somewhat slower song and a stark difference than everything we’ve heard tonight. I know she’s young, but she just doesn’t seem to fit amongst all this.

10:15 PM: We get a hype video for the Video Of The Year. While there are some new faces (B.O.B., Florence And The Machine), you have to figure a big timer like Eminem or Gaga will take this home. (Am I really evaluating this?) I should mention MTV is pushing its trending on Twitter pretty hard.

Just my opinion, but I think as a communication channel, it’s eventually going to take over Facebook. It’s perfect for this generation.

10:22 PM: Drake w/Mary J. Blige and Swizz Beatz are up to perform. It certainly hasn’t taken long for Drake to become a name in the pop music biz.

10:28 PM: Hey, the VMAs have their own ‘Previously Handed Out Awards You’d Be Bored With” segment as well. I think some people from Tru Blood handed them out, but they didn’t announce who they were. I also am disappointed that I didn’t record this show in HD.

10:31 PM: An unidentified man who I believe is Chris Brown performs as they come back from break. Interesting. In any case, the Jersey Shore kids are introduced on a hot tub on stage as Handler subtly insults them. She then gets into the hot tub with them, which makes you realize how hard the fall from celebrity grace it’s going to be for this gang.

The hot Colombian from Modern Family introduces Best Hip Hop Video. I’m immediately surprised as Jay-Z is up for an award, but has no presence at the show. Eminem wins and she accepts for him.  Handler jumps out of the tub and “The Situation” again tries to get his catchphrase over. It doesn’t work…again.

10:42 PM: Another performance as the talented B.O.B. and Paramore’s Hayley Williams perform “Airplanes” which was a pretty big hit this summer. The two get through a few minutes before Williams walks to the back of the stage and performs a slow song with her band. She has a fantastic voice, but this is a weird segway unless it goes back to the original song.

It doesn’t. Meh.

A white girl with bleached blond hair and lots of ear piercings takes us into break. It could be pop princess Robyn, but that’ s probably not accurate at all.

10:54 PM: Bieber wins Best New Artist and apparently can’t figure out how to get up on stage. How cute.

10:55 PM: Linkin Park is at the Griffin Observatory in L.A. performing “The Catalyst.”  My DVR shows four minutes left and they haven’t announced the Video of the Year, so I’m guessing that we’re running long.

11 PM: LP wraps at 11 pm and we are promised Video Of The Year and Kanye West’s new song in 10 minutes. My DVR cuts off, so we’re done here. Lady Gaga (seen here) won the Video Of The Year for Bad Romance, by the way.

In conclusion, this was a visually spectacular show but unfortunately those would truly appreciate it aren’t in MTV’s demographic. The 12-24 demographic that the network craves comes to expect the pomp and circumstance, unappreciative of just what they’re witnessing.

At least we still have videos.

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts and email marketing, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter.

New posts: James Toney earned that cash, Gmail’s Priority Inbox is awesome, Bloody Elbow podcast

Josh Nason discussed James Toney this week.In my effort to become the world’s greatest email marketing/MMA scribe, here’s what I’ve been up to this week:

James Toney Earned Every Penny The UFC Gave Him (B/R – published 9.3.10) – Of course people complained about Toney earning half a million for his fight with Randy Couture at UFC 118. The problem is that they are ignoring the fact that fight promotion is ultimately part of your salary and big JT did more than enough to earn that.

“He knew his role: enrage MMA fans to the point they are willing to pay to see you get beat. Mission accomplished (or at least we think so until the PPV numbers come out). He played his hand in the mythical boxing vs. MMA debate perfectly, even though he must have known he was climbing up a steep, steep mountain in Mt. Couture.”

You can enjoy the whole piece here.

Gmail’s Priority Inbox isn’t a threat, but an opportunity (SendLabs blog- published 9.1.10) – There’s nothing like panic in the email marketing industry and that’s kinda what we got when Gmail announced the brilliant Priority Inbox, a new method of sorting email. I’ve used it for two days now and think it’s awesome. It’s simply more incentive for people to practice better email marketing.

“However, doesn’t this just place a spotlight on what email marketers should be doing better than anyone? Providing value so the minute an email comes in from a sender, it’s received with positive thoughts in mind? If you’re doing things the right way, you shouldn’t worry but be confident you’ll be tagged as important.

Popularity in the inbox…feels like high school all over again.”

Get this in your mental inbox now.

Five Tips For Creating Kick Ass Email Marketing Drip Campaigns (SendLabs blog – published 8.30.10) – I abhor the list trend with blogs and most of writing, but I decided to give it a shot for this email marketing post on drip campaigns. The more I learn about these little nuances, the more I realize marketers need to drop the print ads and focus more on THIS kind of stuff.

Whaddya know…it worked as the article got RT’d 15 times at last check and people really seemed to dig it.

“Not familiar with the drip? You’re missing out. Here’s an example, loosely based on a client of ours. The person signing up is Eddie and the company makes gas grills. Any similarities to real people – dead or alive – is purely coincidental.”

So what did Eddie do? Find out here.

And finally, I was on a podcast.

My buddy Jonathan Snowden — he of the dual authorship including the upcoming MMA Encyclopedia — asked to part of his new project for MMA supersite Bloody Elbow. Jonathan launched a podcast called Ring Psychology and asked me to contribute to a discussion about UFC 118, BJ Penn and more. I was on for about 35 minutes and thought it was great.

What do you think? Download and listen in your car already!

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts and email marketing, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter.