erik lundegaard

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Thursday November 06, 2008

"These are not the Snicker bars you're looking for."

My nephew, Jordan, dressed as Obi-wan Kenobi. Somehow, on the last day of October, he managed to get almost everyone in his neighborhood to part with free candy. I'm assuming Jedi mind trick.

Posted at 04:37 PM on Nov 06, 2008 in category Culture
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Wednesday November 05, 2008

We Never Imagined That In Our Lifetime...

The editor-in-chief of Super Lawyers was in Georgia yesterday with our chief photographer shooting photos of our feature subjects for the March issue. One is a late 50s African-American attorney. He's one of nine children — and the only professional in the group, but his daughter is now second-year at Harvard Law. She applied too late for an absentee ballot so flew back to Atlanta just to vote. The attorney, a real gentleman according to our EIC, was stunned by Obama's victory. He twice said he never imagined he'd see a black president in his lifetime.

A common refrain. It was my refrain five years ago.

Meanwhile the writer of that piece told me the following: “On a totally personal note, I live in John Lewis' district and my neighborhood was also a great place to experience an Obama victory last night — white people setting off fireworks for our first black president. It was fabulous!”

Posted at 01:01 PM on Nov 05, 2008 in category Culture
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Friday October 31, 2008

“Idiot Wind” by Bob Dylan

Someone's got it in for me, they're planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they'd cut it out but when they will I can only guess.
They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy,
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
I can't help it if I'm lucky.

People see me all the time and they just can't remember how to act
Their minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts.
Even you, yesterday you had to ask me where it was at,
I couldn't believe after all these years, you didn't know me better than that
Sweet lady.

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth,
Blowing down the backroads headin' south.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

I ran into the fortune-teller, who said beware of lightning that might strike
I haven't known peace and quiet for so long I can't remember what it's like.
There's a lone soldier on the cross, smoke pourin' out of a boxcar door,
You didn't know it, you didn't think it could be done, in the final end he won the wars
After losin' every battle.

I woke up on the roadside, daydreamin' 'bout the way things sometimes are
Visions of your chestnut mare shoot through my head and are makin' me see stars.
You hurt the ones that I love best and cover up the truth with lies.
One day you'll be in the ditch, flies buzzin' around your eyes,
Blood on your saddle.

Idiot wind, blowing through the flowers on your tomb,
Blowing through the curtains in your room.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart
You tamed the lion in my cage but it just wasn't enough to change my heart.
Now everything's a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped,
What's good is bad, what's bad is good, you'll find out when you reach the top
You're on the bottom.

I noticed at the ceremony, your corrupt ways had finally made you blind
I can't remember your face anymore, your mouth has changed, your eyes
don't look into mine.
The priest wore black on the seventh day and sat stone-faced while the building
I waited for you on the running boards, near the cypress trees, while the springtime
turned Slowly into autumn.

Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull,
From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol.
Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,
You're an idiot, babe.
It's a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

I can't feel you anymore, I can't even touch the books you've read
Every time I crawl past your door, I been wishin' I was somebody else instead.
Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstasy,
I followed you beneath the stars, hounded by your memory
And all your ragin' glory.

I been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I'm finally free,
I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me.
You'll never know the hurt I suffered nor the pain I rise above,
And I'll never know the same about you, your holiness or your kind of love,
And it makes me feel so sorry.

Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats,
Blowing through the letters that we wrote.
Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves,
We're idiots, babe.
It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves.

Posted at 07:59 AM on Oct 31, 2008 in category Culture
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Friday October 10, 2008

How to Predict: Follow the Numbers

I’m more historian than prognosticator — I tend to live life looking back rather than forwards (I know: it's not pretty) — so, for once, I thought I'd combine the two and check out two predictions from earlier this year.

The first, about baseball, from May. On the 21st, I said it was a good time to hate the Yankees. They were 20-25, in last place in the East, 7 1/2 back of the Rays, and, most importantly, “without the positive run differential they had last season that indicated they’d probably turn things around.” Five days later they were 25-25 but it was mostly on the backs of the hapless Mariners, whom, at that point, they’d beaten six out of six times, scoring 50 runs to the M’s 17. And they wouldn’t have the M’s to kick around much anymore.

How did it turn out? The Yankees did better than I thought they would. They finished 89-73, better than their record in, say, 1999, when they won it all. But it wasn’t good enough this year. For the first time in 14 years, they didn’t make the post-season. That’s how it appeared in May.

The second prediction, from early August, was about The Dark Knight. After its first week, MSNBC asked me to check out how it was doing, where it might be going, and could it unseat Titanic? I checked the numbers. I said in terms of worldwide box office, and Titanic’s $1.8 billion, no way. I said in terms of domestic box office, adjusted for inflation (and thus going up against Gone With the Wind’s $1.4 billion), no effin’ way. But domestic box office unadjusted for inflation? Titanic’s $600 million? I came up with a formula via a similar box office smash, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and crunched the numbers. The numbers indicated a final take of $515 million. I wrote:
Other factors will come into play. “The Dark Knight” is better than “Pirates 2,” so it should have longer legs. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, singled out for high praise and Oscar buzz, may draw into theaters moviegoers who might not otherwise check out a superhero pic. And if Ledger, or the film itself, is nominated for an Oscar next January, that could boost its box office as well. Assuming it’s still in theaters. Even so, it would take a lot to make up $85 million.
The Dark Knight is still out there, plugging away, keeping us safe, and the movie has now reached $525 million. But it won’t get much higher. It made less than $1 million this past week, and that number, like all b.o. weekly totals, can only get lower. Probably won’t reach $530 million before it’s pulled.

So in both cases my predictions weren't far off. But neither was a true prediction. I didn’t predict how the Yankees would perform before the season began, and I didn’t predict how much money The Dark Knight would make when it hadn't opened yet. Both predictions occurred as things were progressing — when there were numbers available (run differential/weekly box office totals and drop-offs) with which to formulate answers. I just followed the relevant numbers.

Early August, when I wrote that Dark Knight piece, feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it? If only we had people in power who knew how to follow the relevant numbers.
Posted at 08:47 AM on Oct 10, 2008 in category Culture, Movies, Baseball
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Wednesday September 10, 2008

My Friend Craig

The new play of my friend Craig Wright, who has written for “Six Feet Under,” “Brothers & Sisters,” and is now the creator/producer/writer of “Dirty Sexy Money” on ABC, is reviewed today in The New York Times by Anita Gates. I'd call it a rave. Excerpts:

Mr. Wright’s earlier play “The Pavilion,” set at a high school class reunion, never touched the heart of nostalgia. The tremendously moving “Lady,” about three childhood friends on a hunting trip, says much more about the nature of change and distance and truth....

The director, Dexter Bullard, who directed Tracey Letts’s “Bug,” does thoughtful things with silence and stillness, and guides three finely detailed performances. Mr. Shannon delivers an almost unbearably touching death-bed-side speech, which primes us for the ensuing emotional battle.

“Lady” has considerable humor (commenting on medical marijuana, answering-machine messages and Hannah Montana, for instance), but it’s laughter to escape the pain and despair. In the end all the characters can do is bury their dead.

Even better: Go to the Times link above and check out the multi-media presentation halfway down on the left. It's Craig talking about his play and life in these United States in general: “I'm also interested in the American fascination with violence,” he says, “and also with the ease with which we accept the idea that so much time is spent ingesting media.”

He goes on to talk about some of the themes of this play and another, “Recent Tragic Events,” which concerns, he says, “What it was like to experience 9/11 as something on TV. And guess what? Here's the bad news. The voters of America have treated the response to 9/11 as if it was something they saw on TV. I believe if New Yorkers were the only people who were allowed to vote for what to do next as a country, we might have done things quite, quite differently, and I'd probably be a lot more in favor of what we did. But unfortunately the nation watched 9/11 happen on television, for the most part, and they voted, and they supported our response to it as if it were a movie on TV. And we're living the costs of that bad decision every day.”

Posted at 01:50 PM on Sep 10, 2008 in category Culture
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