erik lundegaard

Lancelot Links posts

Thursday July 28, 2011

Lancelot Links

I haven't done a Lancelot Links in a while. Maybe the news is too depressing to link to. (“The devil take this world/And shove it up his ass” is a line from a Tropicals song I keep thinking these days.) But not everything's depressing....

Granite Mountain: July 24, 2011

View from Granite Mountain last Sunday.

Posted at 06:04 AM on Jul 28, 2011 in category Lancelot Links
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Wednesday June 01, 2011

Lancelot Links

Talented friends edition.

  • My friend Adam Wahlberg has a nice piece in our alumni magazine about a panhandler, a statue, and a soul-searching moment. It's specific to Adam but universal. We've all been there on that curb. Somehow Adam also rates a Barry Blitt illustration? Not just that: he gets drawn by Barry Blitt? Was Blitt an alumnus? A Hubert Humphrey fan? Excerpt:

I stand on the curb a long moment, wondering when and how I became this guy. I shoot a glance across the rail line to Minneapolis City Hall. Hubert Humphrey is looking right at me. ...

I’m 41. Humphrey (B.S. ’39) was heading back to the U.S. Senate by the time I was born. Before that he was mayor of Minneapolis, a U.S. senator, vice president under Lyndon Johnson, and then the Democratic candidate for president. He died when I was in grade school. I never met him, voted for him, heard him speak, or experienced him in any firsthand way. But I’ve always been inspired by images of him. It’s the smiling thing. He’s always beaming in photos, especially when surrounded by throngs of people. The Happy Warrior. With how polarized the discourse has become, are people even allowed to be happy in politics these days? We have a comedian in the Senate right now who has barely cracked a smile in two years.

  • Minnesota's newly conservative legislature, at odds with any notions of Minnesota Nice, not to mention 20th century progress, are wasting everyone's time by attempting to ban gay marriage in the state. My friend Jim Walsh, in the pages of Southwest Journal, penned this take on his first birds-and-the-bees lesson, an adolescent run-in with (and run from) reactionary forces, a middle-aged f-u to those guys and that moment, and a parting kiss:

Which was somewhat comforting, a subtle reminder in these times of scarlet letters, sexual suspects, and same-sex lynchings: No matter what laws go on the books, no matter how hateful the ignorance, people will find good love and good sex with whomever or whatever they please.

Because it feels good.

For now, the obligation to safeguard the remote southern reaches of Logar province — an area of eastern Afghanistan that troops dub “the frontier” for its sand-swept landscape and sparse population — falls mostly to the Company D platoon, deployed here since October. They have taken fire on at least 60 occasions from insurgents who typically strike from no closer than a half-mile away, hiding amid the clefts and caves of the surrounding mountains. “We never see them,” said Pfc. Joseph Tichacek, a radio technician. “You see muzzle flashes, but that’s about it" ...

Even nine years into this conflict, Beck recalls that early in the deployment some villagers saw U.S. troops and thought the Russian army had returned. “Closer to Kabul, people have more of an understanding of the world,” Beck said. “Out here, they just want to be left alone. But the Taliban isn’t going to leave them alone.”

Statue of Humbert H. Humphrey

Smile while you can, love whom you can, keep your head low.

Posted at 07:03 PM on Jun 01, 2011 in category Lancelot Links
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Friday May 20, 2011

Lancelot Links

Posted at 08:21 AM on May 20, 2011 in category Lancelot Links
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Wednesday May 18, 2011

Lancelot Links: Harmon Killebrew Edition

There's a lot of great writing out there on Harmon Killebrew, the Twins slugger who died yesterday, at the age of 74, of esophageal cancer. Here are a few favorites:

  • The New York Times has a well-written obituary by Richard Goldstein, with a photo that feels like the quintessential Killebrew swing: balanced, extended, all out. They get the story right--born in a farming community in Payette, Idaho, recommended to the Washington Senators by a U.S. Senator, the quantity and quality of the homeruns, the quality of the man--but they also dig up quotes from Fay Vincent's oral history, “We Would Have Played for Nothing.” Then there's this gem:

He made sure that his autographs for young fans were legible.

“I had a doctor’s signature,” the former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter told The Star Tribune in recalling the time Killebrew looked at his autograph several years ago. “I had a ‘T’ and an ‘I’ and a dot-dot. He said, ‘What the hell is this?’ He said, ‘If you play the game this long, make sure people know who you are.’ ”

The bat Harmon Killebrew used to hit his 573rd career homerun

The bat Harmon used to hit homer #573. (As a Royal, against the Twins.)

Killebrew could not have been more of a gentleman. He laughed when I told him I thought he was the trainer. He smiled when I thanked him for being so kind to me during that brief 1973 encounter in the underbelly of Fenway Park. “That makes me feel good,” Killebrew said. “I'd hate to think I wasn't nice and respectful to someone.”

"Killebrew for Governor" bumper sticker - now housed at Target Field

A '60s bumper sticker ... now under glass at Target Field.

  • Here's that 1963 Sports Illustrated cover story on Killebrew that everyone's been quoting lately—particularly the line about what kind of hobbies he has: “'Just washing the dishes, I guess,' says Harmon, trying to help.” Irony: SI talks up how ignored Killebrew is ... even as their cover story on him doesn't really put him on the cover. The cover is bat and ball. You gotta open the fold-out to see the man himself.
  • You can also go to the SI vault and read old articles on the man. I'd always wondered whether, on the heels of Damn Yankees, and with the rise of Killebrew the homerun hitter, if someone made the inevitable Joe Hardy allusion. They did. Then we get this great quote:

“People have been comparing me to Joe Hardy, the hero of the musical Damn Yankees,” Killebrew told the group, referring to the George Abbott-Douglass Wallop hit show of a few years back. “You might be interested to hear what Bob Addie told me the other night after I had struck out against the Yankees to end the game. 'You may look like Joe Hardy to some,' Addie told me, 'but today you were more like Andy Hardy.' ”

  • A nice photo gallery from CBS News. But they fail to mention, in photo 11, that those three players—Robinson, Jackson, Killebrew—weren't just 500-homerun guys. They all hit homeruns in that 1971 All-Star Game.
  • The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, in their slideshow, gets it right. But who knows what the story is behind the photo of Killebrew and Hank Greenberg. Plus... I mean, The New York Times has been hawking its photos of Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, et al., for years now, and I always thought the Star-Tribune should do the same, from their extensive archive, with photos of Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, Tovar, etc. So far nothing. What—don't you guys need the money?
  • Also from the Strib: the fans who gathered at Target Field yesterday. I'm with Kevin Lindquist: “I've never been so sad about [the death of] someone I didn't know.”
  • I'd never heard this song, “Harmon Killebrew,” by Jeff Arundel, until today. Jeff: I, too, wrote a letter to Harmon Killebrew about the time you did. That's how I got that autographed photo. That's what came back. BTW: Where did you get the Bob Casey recording? So cool.
  • Stats & Info, on ESPN.com, give us of some of Killebrew's stats. They remind us that no one hit more homeruns in the deadball 1960s. Not Aaron, not Mays, not anyone.
  • Rob Neyer, over at Baseball Nation, reminds us of the length of those homeruns. It makes me think again that if Killebrew played in a bigger market, a New York or Boston, oh, the stories we'd all know. Oh, the stories we woud've heard on Ken Burns' Baseball (instead of nada):

In 1962, Killebrew became the first player to hit a ball over the left-field roof at Tiger Stadium; only three others would accomplish the feat before Tiger Stadium closed 37 years later.

In 1964, Killebrew hit the longest-ever measured home run at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.

In 1967, Killebrew hit the longest-ever measured home run at Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium (today the landing spot, 520 feet from home plate, is commemorated by a stadium seat inside the Mall of America).

Harmon Killebrew pennant

I had a Twins/Killebrew pennant just like this one in my room when I was a kid. This one is under glass at Target Field.

I was just learning the basic language of baseball statistics in 1975, and so took in Harmon Killebrew’s long litany of 40-homer, 100-plus RBI years with the pure and enthusiastic fascination of the true beginner. I have an attraction to anonymous players, to failure and ignominy, to the fallen and the wilkerized, but I am as drawn to the players whose feats stand in bold opposition to the general entropy of the universe as any other baseball fan. I am sure that I found this card soothing. There is greatness in the world. There are things that won’t be forgotten.

  • Jim Caple, always a pleasure to read, gives us another nice remembrance.
  • Once again, with everyone writing about the same baseball subject, Joe Posnanski again manages to write about the best piece out there. He gets to the heart of the baseball story: those first five fruitless years with the Senators as a bonus baby; how most were resigned to the idea that he would go nowhere; and how, during a 17-game stretch in May 1959, he changed their minds. Posnanski brings up the fact, ignored at the time, that for a six-year stretch, from 1966 to 1971, despite his low batting average, Killebrew led the American League in On-Base Percentage with a .401 mark. Posnanski ends with the great battles between Killebrew and ... George Brunet? Yep! Oh, and there's this choice take on the Idaho Senator who discovered him:

Harmon Killebrew had been recommended to the Washington Senators by an actual senator, Idaho Republican Herman Welker, who would mainly be known to history for two unrelated things:

1. Being so closely allied with the reckless demagogue Joe McCarthy that he became known as “Little Joe from Idaho.”

2. Recommending Harmon Killebrew.

Rod Carew:
Harmon Killebrew was a gem. I can never thank him enough for all I learned from him. He was a consummate professional who treated everyone from the brashest of rookies to the groundskeepers to the ushers in the stadium with the utmost of respect. I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for Harmon Killebrew. He was a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word.

Jane Forbes Clark, chairwoman, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Since joining the Hall of Fame family in 1984, Harmon was a beacon of light among his fellow Hall of Famers, always smiling, always enjoying every moment that life delivered at his doorstep.

Tommy John
He never showed you up, no flaps down or anything, just that little number 3 — like Babe Ruth — trotting like he hit 'em before and he would hit 'em again.

Bert Blyleven
He was a bigger Hall of Famer off the field.

Harmon Killebrew during Camera Day at Met Stadium, 1970

Harmon Killebrew during Camera Day at Met Stadium, circa 1969. Note the band-aid on his forearm and the airplane in the background. This photo has been on my wall in one room or another, in one city or another, for the last 20 years.

Posted at 07:08 AM on May 18, 2011 in category Lancelot Links, Baseball
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Thursday May 12, 2011

Lancelot Links

  • State Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie, Minn.) recently introduced a cost-cutting measure that would remove 15,000 single adults from MinnesotaCare and give them vouchers to buy their own health insurance. He argued that this would be better for the state, since it would save money, and better for the individuals, since it gave them a choice. Then Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-Columbia Heights) rose and said, basically, “If it's so good, why don't we try it first?” Cue silence followed by sputtering and harrumping. Hann's cost-cutting measure passed but will be vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. But good for Goodwin! Full story by Doug Grow at MinnPost.
  • Not done yet, the Minnesota Senate then approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, 38-27. The house is expected to pass it, too. WTF has happened to my home state? Remember Minnesota Nice? This is Minnesota Nuts. Minnesota Backwards. Minnesota On-The-Wrong-Side-of-History. Minnesota Shame.
  • The sponsor of that bill, who doesn't want a small majority to define marriage (oddly, he's not talking about his own group), and who cited a poll saying 3/4 of the state want to vote on the matter, is named Sen. Warren Limmer of Maple Grove. Here's his website. It includes his email address. He says “Contact me by e-mail.” Please do. I did.
  • My wish? Every one of these guys had to be cross-examined by David Boies.
  • If that doesn't work, Dan Savage.
  • Over at the New York Times, Paul Krugman gives us “2000s 101” in case anyone needs a refresher. And judging from ... everything, mGrand Salami logoost people do.
  • Rolling Stone magazine gives us The People v. Goldman Sachs. I'd like to hear more on this.
  • One of the nice things about the Seattle International Film Festival, or SIFF, which is opening in week, is that you can see films before New York and LA. Case in point: Last May, I saw “City of Life and Death” and reviewed it here. A year later, Manohla Dargis finally gets off the schnied. (P.S. We don't agree.)
  • This year's SIFF schedule is out. The problem, of course, as always, is finding the time to sort through the hundreds of movies available to see what you want to see. Anyone done this yet?
  • Meanwhile, at Cannes, Woody Allen's “Midnight in Paris” opened the festival. Mostly to applause.
  • Finally, The Grand Salami, the alternative Seattle Mariners program for which I wrote for many years, is finally doing something with its website. It's also on Facebook.
Posted at 02:29 PM on May 12, 2011 in category Lancelot Links
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