Lancelot Links postsThursday July 28, 2011
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....
- Here's the trailer for the new ensemble romantic comedy “New Year's Eve,” directed by Garry Marshall. I'm not recommending the trailer or the movie or the director. I'm recommending Jeffrey Wells' one-word synopsis.
- Bachmann Pawlenty Overdrive. Probably the only time in the history of the Internet that a YouTube commenter was dead-on. WTF indeed, Minnesota.
- Well, at least Minnesota elected Al Franken, who, here, takes apart an anti-gay-rights leader. Here's hoping for a real Al Franken Decade.
- Could this be the chart of the decade? New policy changes under Bush: $5.07 trillion . And under Obama (projected to 2017): $1.44 trillion. Grab your favorite tea-partier and shove their face in this.
- The New York Times gives us a necessary Q&A on raising the debt limit. Money quote: “Q: Do you mean that Congress can pass a budget that requires borrowing, and then argue later about whether to approve that borrowing? A: That’s right. The system goes back to World War I...”
- The Onion cuts to the heart of the debt-ceiling debate.
- Funnier? Or dieier? Dan Savage threatens to change the definition of “Rick” if Rick Santorum doesn't behave himself.
- Here's a great takedown of Thomas Friedman by Salon's Steve Kornacki: “Does Thomas Friedman even follow the news?”
- I know it won't garner much sympathy from the rest of the country melting under incredible heat, but this kind of thing wears on you after a bit.
- Meanwhile, in hot and sultry (and sexy, I'm told) south Minneapolis, Jim Walsh goes nightswimming.
- Someone save the left from left-wing activists.
- Someone save the right from folks like Sarah Palin and Andrew Breitbart.
- Related: How's that Undefeated thing working for ya? Brandon Gray at boxofficemojo.com parses the numbers on Palin's documentary and declares: “Even before The Undefeated bottomed out in its second weekend, the movie was a bust in its first weekend, but its boosters latched onto two stats: per-theater average and ranking among political documentaries. The classic tactics of movie spin include bragging about per-theater average and declaring a high ranking in a niche category. The funny thing is that Undefeated's opening didn't rate highly on either front, making the spin extra egregious.”
- In the wake of Anders Breivik's attack on a children's camp in Norway, many are saying that Norway and other Scandinavian countries paid too much attention to extreme Muslims and not enough to homegrown extrimism. Joan Acocella reminds us that Stieg Larsson was paying attention.
- Superman from scratch? I have some ideas. Unfortunately it's just another gimmick. It's creating another universe after DC went to so much trouble to consolidate them.
- Not sure if “Supergods” by Grant Morrison is worth buying (some excerpts were pretty purple), but this article by Tim Martin, on what superheroes mean, where they've been, and where they're going, is definitely worth reading.
- Great appearance by Spider-Man at Comic-Con.
- Supercool slideshow on Slate.com of dancers—and I mean dancers—doing amazing things in public.
- Now go outside and play.
View from Granite Mountain last Sunday.
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.
- Finally, one of Adam's best friends, and someone who's written for me in the past, Martin Kuz, is now working for Stars and Stripes and is stationed in Afghanistan. His first pieces came out this month. One is about “harrassing fire” in the remote region of Kor Jalal. The other is on the difficulty of being both soldier and ambassador in this remote region:
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.”
Smile while you can, love whom you can, keep your head low.
- “If there’s a Jewish Miami Cuban homo out there, then that person should rule the world.” Why I love Dan Savage.
- Why I love Paul Simon. During a Toronto show, a woman in the crowd asked him to play “Duncan,” from his self-titled 1971 album, adding she learned to play the guitar with that song. What does he do? Invites her on stage, talks to her over the roar of the crowd, takes off his guitar and straps it to her. And she, and the band, play the song. NPR calls it a moment of pure sobbing joy. It is.
- Oliver Willis on “Why Obama Matters to Black America: High School Graduation Edition.” Great effin' picture.
- “A restaurant is like a shark, it has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we've got on our hands is ... a dead shark.” Right: No more Elaine's.
- Alex Pareene, inspired by Don Trump, gives us five political books doomed before publication, but the one I want to read, for a laugh, didn't even make his top 5: “The Bush Boom: How a Misunderestimated President Fixed a Broken Economy.” That and $200,000 will help you break even on your underwater mortgage. That and $8 trillion will bring the national debt back to Clinton-era numbers. That and a job will help you get a job.
- Back in Law & Politics days, whenever there was a disagreement over commas, apostrophes, capitalization, I'd always ask the managing editor, Mike or Jessica, “What does AKC say? Do what she says.” AKC is Anne Kelley Conklin, our copy editor back then, and the Omar Vizquel of copy editors (she made every play), who now has a must-read blog about all the many ways we're effin' up the English language. I'm anxious to read it everyday. Every day? Still waiting on that post, AKC.
- Our foreign correspondent, Andy Engelson, sees where Tea Party tax-cutting measures, like those in Colorado Springs, will invariably lead us. It's the new Vietnamization.
- The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which Jon Stewart helped get passed, has a special master: Sheila Birnbaum of Skadden Arps, whom we profiled, or Phil Dray profiled, two years ago in New York Super Lawyers magazine. It's a good article. Here's a work-day post about it all.
- Finally, as a run-up to bike-to-work day (today), The Seattle Times' Danny Westneat ponders the supposed cyclist/motorist contretemps in Seattle with a comical shrug. Love this quote from Tom Fucoloro, 25, of seattlebikeblog.com. “Most of us are not riding bikes to make a statement or to be negative or to wage war. We're just doing it to ride our bikes.”
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 used to hit homer #573. (As a Royal, against the Twins.)
- As if on cue, Jim Salisbury tells us why it matters that kids can read your autograph, as he recounts a day outside Fenway Park in 1973 when he met Killebrew. Salisbury got to meet him again in 2007, this time as a professional, and regaled him with the story:
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.”
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).
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.
- ESPN's tribute. Some nice quotes, including this one from Killer: “I found out early in life that I could hit a baseball farther than most players and that's what I tried to do.”
- One of my favorites, of course, which I linked to last week, is Josh Wilker's 2007 post about his 1975 Harmon Killebrew card:
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.
- Finally, here's a nice ESPN piece on reaction, mostly player reaction, to Killebrew's death:
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.
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.
He was a bigger Hall of Famer off the field.
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.
- 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, most 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.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard