Presidential daughters - Updated

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader believes that most of you out there have heard that Jenna Bush is getting married. You might think that with a lead-off line like that and the post title your Maximum Leader used this might be some sort of fancy-schmancy post about White House weddings or something like that…

Well you would be wrong. Dead wrong there buster!

Your Maximum Leader was thinking about Jenna Bush’s impending wedding and wondered if sister Barbara would try and hurry love to try and take advantage of a White House wedding herself. Then your Maximum Leader wondered if Chelsea Clinton ever feels a little disappointed that she didn’t get a White House wedding…

Then the idea struck… Presidents who only father daughters tend to be contraversial, polarizing, and are viewed badly by history. This is true in the modern era at least… Let’s go to the list…

Franklin D Roosevelt. Father of 6 children, 5 boys. Widely regarded as great president.
Harry S Truman. Father of 1 child, Margaret. Deeply unpopular during his presidency.
Dwight D Eisenhower. Father of 2 children, both boys. Very popular during presidency.
John F. Kennedy. Father of 3 children, 2 boys. Hard to judge. Popular during his life. Heroic in death.
Lyndon B Johnson. Father of 2 children, both girls. Deeply unpopular and polarizing during presidency.
Richard M Nixon. Father of 2 children, both girls. Widely hated during presidency.
Gerald R Ford. Father of 4 children, 3 boys. Generally disliked during presidency, but liked more than Nixon.
Jimmy Carter. Father of 4 children, 3 boys & girl. Deeply unpopular during presidency.
Ronald Reagan. Father of 4 (1 Adopted) children, 2 boys. Very popular during presidency.
George HW Bush Father of 6 children, 4 boys. Generally liked during presidency.
Bill Clinton. Father of 1 child, girl. Polarizing figure. Either loved or hated.
George W Bush Father of 2 children, both girls. Polarizing figure. Love or hated. (Mostly hated right now it would seem.)

Humm… Interesting to think about… Surely your Maximum Leader’s own preferences play into this, but there does seem to be a trend to this… Your Maximum Leader is too lazy to check to see who of the current candidates have spawned male children… But he might do so tonight.

Carry on.

UPDATE FROM YOUR MAXIMUM LEADER: Damn Skippy! Damn his Canadian uber-knowledge of all things American. Your Maxmium Leader was doing his little list above from memory. This is one of those instances where a little googling would have helped him avoid embarassment.

It turns out that our 39th President, James Earl Carter (Jr) actually has fathered four children. Three boys and one girl. Assuming Wikipedia is accurate (and there is no reason to believe it is not in this case) Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have four kids: John William “Jack”; James Earl III “Chip”; Donnell Jeffery “Jeff”; and Amy Lynn.

So your Maximum Leader’s little pet theory is seriously compromised. At best he can now say that we should be wary of men who have only fathered daughters who seek to be President of the United States… Let us see who these people are of the current “front runners…” Republicans: Rudy - sons and daughters, Mitt - sons, John - sons and daughters. Democrats: Hillary - daughter, Barack - daughters, “the Breck Girl” - sons and daughters. Hummm…. Very interesting.

The fast track to death.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hates it, absolutely hates it, when Skippy writes the post that your Maximum Leader was thinking about writing (only without all the references to sex and self-loathing).

Well… Obviously Skippy read the same Washington Post article that your Maximum Leader did yesterday. The one that went: Gonzales to get power in death penalty cases.

You can get a pretty good feeling for your Maximum Leader’s feelings on this matter by reading Skippy’s post entitled: Alberto Gonzales wants to kill you quickly.

Now just to clarify a points on which Skippy and your Maximum Leader disagree:

1) Your Maximum Leader isn’t a big fan of lethal injection. Sure you have to take what you can get with all the anti-death penalty weenies out there talking about “cruel and unusual punishments.” Your Maximum Leader just happens to think that a headman’s axe is neither cruel nor unusual.

2) Your Maximum Leader thinks that black hoods should be left for executioners…

3) Well… Okay… There were only two major ideas from Skippy’s post with which your Maximum Leader disagrees.

Your Maximum Leader agrees with Skippy (and fair-minded people everywhere) that Alberto Gonzales is a cretin. (Excursus: Your Maximum Leader never ceases to be amazed at the degree of loyalty show by President Bush to his appointees. At one point your Maximum Leader might have been impressed by this trait; now it is just sad.) He agrees that the Patriot Act is being shown (once again) to be a bad law. He agrees that the “federalization” of criminal activity usually left to the states is a bad thing. And finally he agrees that any supporter of the death penalty ought to be seriously distressed by what is happening.

Read the Post piece and then read Skippy’s piece. Both are worth your time.

Carry on.

Bad associations

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a problem. It is a problem of association. This is not to say that he has a problem with his associates. He doesn’t. He has a problem with mental associations.

Perhaps some background is in order…

As readers know, your Maximum Leader is the father of three wonderful kids. He is a pretty good father, as best he can tell. And it seems like his kids are turning out okay.

The eldest of his three children, Villainette #1, is an avid reader. You can give her a stack of books and a quiet place and she will just read and read. It is good to see. (She will, alas, also spend hours and hours in front of the TV if given the opportunity. Which she is not given often…) Recently she’s been moving up to young adult novels recommended (eg: vetted) by her mother, a teacher.

She recently finished a book about a young girl who moves into the “wild west” with her family in the 1880s. Your Maximum Leader does not know the details of the plot of this book, or even its title. But he now knows something that was said in the book. It seems as though one of the boys in this story is something of a cowboy. When this boy does something exciting or daring he was prone to yell out “Yippie ki yay!” Well… Villainette #1 thought this phrase was pretty cool. So she’s been repeating it.

Last weekend, before heading off to the beach, the whole family went to a pool party. Villainette #1 would run and jump into the pool yelling out “Yippie ki yay!” Now… Your Maximum Leader, like so many others his age, ran out in the summer of 1988 and saw Die Hard when it came out in the theatres. Do you see where this is going? Every time his lovely 10 years old Villainette ran and jumped into the pool yelling “Yippie ki yay” your Maximum Leader expected the next word out of her sweet little mouth to be “motherfucker.”

Your Maximum Leader hates to admit it; but frankly in his mind there is a permanent association between the words “yippie ki yay” and “motherfucker.” Depending on his mood he hears this phrase spoken by both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. When your Maximum Leader is feeling particularly evil it is the Alan Rickman delivery. Now, unfortunately, when he hears his beautiful and intelligent daughter yelling out the first part of the phrase he now imagines her yelling out the second part as well. It is quite distressing.

He’s tried to get the sound of his mind. He’s tried thinking of Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Marshall Matt Dillon, and Ben Cartwright. Any of those men would have said the first words, without the second. He tried singing “Coyotes” in his mind to put the offending word out of his mind. Alas… No good…

After the family returned from the pool party, and the kids had been put to bed; your Maximum Leader mentioned this problem to the lovely Mrs. Villain. She informed your Maximum Leader that he would just have to get over it and put it out of his mind. That was a movie, and this is his daughter… Well… Mrs. Villain called your Maximum Leader to fill him in on the plans for her (and the kids’) return. She also admitted that all week when Villainette #1 was jumping into the pool and crying out the words “Yippie ki yay” she heard the follow-on in her mind…

Lucky for both of us the summer is almost over and the opportunity for Villainette #1 to use the phrase appears to be gowing short.

Carry on.

Idgit voting patterns

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader saw this today. It made him laugh.


In The Know: Candidates Compete For Vital Idgit Vote

Very important block of voters… The Idgits…

Carry on.

Heinz Barth - Dead.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maiximum Leader usually appends blog posts he writes about those who have recently passed with the letters RIP. Of course, those letters abbreviate the latin requiescat in pace - or “Rest in Peace.”

Well… Sometimes the dead don’t deserve to rest in peace. Such is the case of Heinz Barth.

Herr Barth died recently, of cancer, presumably at home, in Gransee, Germany. In case the name doesn’t sound familiar to you here is the obituary run in today’s Washington Post. In case you don’t want to click through…

Heinz Barth, 86, a former SS officer convicted of involvement in the massacre of an entire village in Nazi-occupied France, has died, a priest in the German town where he lived said Aug. 14.

[…]

In 1983, a court in East Berlin convicted Mr. Barth and sentenced him to life in prison for his role in the slaughter of villagers in Oradour-sur-Glane in 1944, widely considered the worst atrocity in Nazi-occupied France.

On June 10, 1944, as they headed toward Normandy to combat Allied invasion forces that had landed four days earlier, German troops of the 2nd SS Panzer Division “Das Reich” slaughtered 642 men, women and children in the village.

[…]

In addition to involvement in the massacre [at Oradour-sur-Glane], East German judges also found that Mr. Barth volunteered to participate in an execution of 92 Czech civilians in 1942. Mr. Barth, the SS equivalent of a lieutenant, was also sentenced to death in absentia in France in 1953.

Mr. Barth lived under a false name in communist East Germany, working as a decorator in Gransee and running a grocery store, until his identity was discovered in 1981 and he was imprisoned.

In 1997, a state court freed him on health grounds, commuting his sentence to probation. Mr. Barth, who lost a leg in the war, suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments.

Your Maximum Leader would have had Herr Barth dragged out and shot… Probably in 1982. As he figures it, Barth got at least 26 more years of life than he deserved. He should have been dragged out and shot in 1953…

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t like to speak ill of the dead, even if he didn’t think much of the deceased in life. But sometimes one is just replused by the knowledge that someone who didn’t deserve to live died much too late.

Carry on.

The King.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to take today off from blogging in order to mourn the King of Rock & Roll.

Elvis died 30 years ago today. (But you likely knew that unless you were living under a rock.)

Your Maximum Leader will make some fried Peanut Butter and ‘nanner sandwiches for lunch today. Tonight he might have meatloaf or fried chicken in honor of the King.

It is also all Elvis on the iPod today.

Rock on minions!

Carry on.

Prohibition in Athens

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was reading over the new wires and came across an interesting little tidbit on the AP. From reading the title of this blog post you might think that the AP was (finally) reporting on the trial of Socrates. Alas, the tidbit from the AP is much more mundane. The actual title of the piece reads: Alabama city considers end to alcohol sales. Here are some interesting passages of the article:

Voters have a chance on Tuesday to return this northern Alabama city to the days of Prohibition.

A measure to end the sale of alcohol in Athens is up for a citywide vote, a rare instance where voters could overturn a previous vote to allow sales. Business interests are against repeal, but church leaders who helped organize the petition drive that got the measure on the ballot are asking members to pray and fast in support of a ban.

Christians who oppose drinking on moral grounds believe they have a chance to win, however small.

[…]

Business leaders argue that ending the sale of beer, wine and liquor would hurt tax revenues and send the message that Athens is backward.

[…]

The United States went dry in 1920 after the 18th Amendment outlawed the production, transportation and sale of alcohol. Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

Now, less than four years after they first voted to legalize alcohol sales, the nearly 22,000 residents of Athens will decide whether to prohibit alcohol sales within the city, located about 95 miles north of Birmingham. Possession and consumption would remain legal.

[…]

Twenty-six of Alabama’s 67 counties, including Limestome, where Athens is located, don’t allow alcohol sales. Besides the Athens vote, residents of the southern Alabama town of Thomasville were to cast their ballots Tuesday on whether to legalize alcohol sales.

Regardless of whether Athens winds up wet or dry, a leader of the 138-year-old National Prohibition Party is glad voters have a chance to decide. Such issues rarely make it to the ballot any more, said attorney Howard Lydick, a member of the party’s executive committee.

“The beer and wine industry has very good PR,” Lydick said. “Those pushing (prohibition) have been pushed aside.”

The Rev. Eddie Gooch feels good about the chances of ending alcohol sales in Athens, but he isn’t taking any chances.

A leader of the petition drive, Gooch urged members of his United Methodist Church to pray and fast on election day and the two days leading up to it. Church volunteers have sent thousands of letters and made phone calls encouraging people to vote “dry.”

Mayor Dan Williams said the city government is making nearly $250,000 in extra sales taxes directly tied to alcohol, and the city’s schools get the same amount.

Besides that money, he said, overall tax revenues have grown since alcohol sales were legalized in January 2004 — an increase he attributes partly to alcohol sales.

An upscale Italian restaurant recently moved to Athens from the nearby dry city of Hartselle in order to sell alcohol, and Williams said other restaurants have arrived since it went wet.

“It’s a big deal for a small town to get a new restaurant,” he said.

Gooch isn’t worried about the city losing businesses or tax revenues if alcohol sales are banned. Normal economic growth and God will make up any difference if residents dump the bottle, he said.

“We believe that God will honor and bless our city,” Gooch said.

Your Maximum Leader apologizes. He thought he’d just excerpt a few short segments of the piece. Then he wound up keeping most of the piece in the quote. He supposes there is no need for the link, but hey, attribution is king.

You know… At first your Maximum Leader was going to cast aspersions at some overzealous activists (and he was tempted to accuse some of them of being rednecks or hayseeds) trying to turn back the clocks in their communities. But then he started to think more about it and while he doesn’t applaud the prohibition activists, he does admire their pluck and organizational abilities. Really now, without this piece who would have known that the National Prohibition Party was still out there (and apparently active) after 130+ years.

Your Maximum Leader is glad that the article did point out that the prohibition is on sales, and they further point out that there are many “dry” areas in Alabama. (As there are, in all actuality, all over the US.) Being “dry” means that you can’t buy alcohol in a particular locality but the possesion or consumption is not outlawed.

Now, as any (even casual) reader of this space knows; your Maximum Leader likes his alcohol. He likes all sorts of alcohol in fact. Beer, Bourbon, Scotch. He drinks alcohol in reasonable (but not excessive) quantities. Frankly, your Maximum Leader doesn’t think he could live in a “dry” county. He might if he was still in reasonable proximity to a place where he could get his alcohol. But being “dry” would be a real negative in his eyes. Your Maximum Leader realizes that his feelings on this matter aren’t the last word on the matter in Athens, Alabama.

Indeed, your Maximum Leader — as he mentioned — admires the citizens who finally got this measure onto a ballot for a vote. It shows a lot of things. It shows they are willing to organize and be advocates for something in which they believe strongly. It shows that they are a significant force in their community. And it shows that they have an understanding for how politics in a democratic republic ought to work.

Tip O’Neill famously quipped that all politics are local. Frankly that is the way it ought to be. Local citizens decided issues in a way that suits the character of the community. Your Maximum Leader is not so naive to believe that the US is one great homogeneous blob. Localities should be encouraged to pass local ordinances that engender the type of community that the citizens want to have (so long as they respect state and federal laws). It is at the local level that the individual has the greatest opportunity to impact the political process; and it is the local level of government that is the most responsive to the will of its citizens.

Your Maximum Leader hopes that the ballot measure in Athens, Alabama fails. He hopes this mainly because he doesn’t like his ability to make choices for himself limited in the way proposed. But he is glad to see the democratic process at work.

Carry on.

The Media

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has had a post about “the media” festering in his brain for a while now. He has, until now, been overtaken by events and not able to get out his thoughts. But yesterday, Howard Kurtz’s Media Notes column in the Washington Post caused him to resolve to actually sit down and write out the post.

In case you missed the Kurtz piece, here is the link. Here are some salient points from the piece:

To a striking degree, the candidates are picking their spots, carefully choosing which media operations they will court and which they will ignore. That leaves some of them preaching to the political choir, but also shields them from especially aggressive questioning.

The new media order has been spawned by a 500-channel universe and a polarized climate in which news organizations are increasingly viewed, fairly or unfairly, as leaning to one side or the other. And with a cornucopia of choices, politicians tend to gravitate toward what they see as friendly arenas.

[…]

The Democratic candidates, meanwhile, have refused to debate on Fox News, even for an event co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus. In the last nine days, however, they were happy to face off before liberal bloggers at a convention staged by the Web site Daily Kos; at an event co-sponsored by Logo, a gay-themed network operated by MTV; and at an MSNBC debate moderated by Keith Olbermann, one of President Bush’s fiercest critics.

“Republicans like Fox because it plays to their primary voting constituency, and Democrats like to boycott Fox because it brings cheap applause from their primary voting constituency,” says Mike Murphy, a GOP strategist and occasional panelist on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The Democrats make a mistake by boycotting Fox, because they’re going to need red states to win. And Fred Thompson makes a mistake by communicating only through the medium of Sean Hannity.”

[…]

The new approach is reminiscent of the 1992 campaign, when it was considered radical for presidential candidates to go on MTV, Larry King and Arsenio Hall, and there was much teeth-gnashing about the bypassing of the traditional media. But eventually the candidates had to deal with the major news programs, and that will undoubtedly happen this season as well.

In the meantime, staying on safe ground not only prevents the candidates from reaching a broader audience, it deprives them of the chance to develop their reflexes by swinging at fastballs.

The emphasis on that last line was added by your Maximum Leader.

Let your Maximum Leader state a few things up front. He has not watched more than two minutes of any of the candidate’s “debates” live. He has only seen the sound bites played on major news outlets the day after. He has seen some of the candidates interviewed on various channels. (Almost always the “Today” show or something on Fox News.) In case you didn’t know, your Maximum Leader believes that campaigning more than 1 year before the election is unseemly. (Excursus: Although your Maximum Leader is not a big fan of such laws, he would support a law that prevents people from raising or spending money in pursuit of the office of President of the United States before the September/October the year before the general election. And while he is engaging in a little excursus, campaigning is — in general — pretty unseemly.) He is deliberately doing what he can to avoid paying attention to what the candidates are saying or doing at this point. Okay… That is out there… Now to move on…

Are your Maximum Leader and Newt Gingrich the only people in America who think that these “debates” insult the intelligence of every vaguely sentient American? Really? This is a serious question. What the hell are we supposed to learn from these “debates?” Nothing that is what. Having all those candidates (regardless of party) trot out on a stage, stand behind a podium, and patiently wait their turn to speak is an exercise in futility. Actually, the exercise is for the candidates, who have to learn to stand still behind a podium for long periods of time without seeming fidgety. And we all know how important it is that our Presidents aren’t fidgety. Not being fidgety is right up there after an understanding of foreign affairs, a rudimentary understanding of economics, being tall and having even teeth in terms of qualifications for the office. Your Maximum Leader thinks that all those things are in the Twenty-second or Twenty-fifth Amendment, but he isn’t sure which one.

These “debates,” frankly, should offend every American. This “debate” format doesn’t even pretend to be educational or elucidating. The candidates are asked a softball question by a friendly moderator (or friendly union member, or friendly “regular American” posting on You Tube) and then given a few seconds during which time they can recite a talking point off their campaign web site. It disgusts your Maximum Leader and if you have half a brain it should disgust you too.

Your Maximum Leader thinks that these moronic testaments to mediocrity should be abandoned as rapidly as possible. They should be replaced by candidates debating a single thoughtful question. Here is your Maximum Leader’s plan… The candidates are paired off in a series of Lincoln-Douglas style debates. Each debate would have a single theme. Each candidate would be be allowed a 30 minute explanation of their position and plan on the theme. Then each candidate would have a (30 minute) chance to rebut whatever the other candidate said. If a candidate didn’t want to participate in these debates they would have to drop out of the race and donate any money they raised to a charity (the name of which would be drawn from a hat).

Of course, no candidate would agree to this debate format. Do you know why? Because not a single candidate out there could actually string together a cogent 30 minute statement on a single topic. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Mitt Romney, or Rudy Guiliani speaking on their plan for Iraq for a full 30 minutes? Your Maximum Leader can’t. Well, that isn’t exactly true. He can imagine them speaking in platitudes and obfuscations for 20 minutes and rephrasing the sound bite of their position on Iraq for 10 minutes. He can’t imagine them starting off with their own assesment of the situation in Iraq then moving to a point by point analysis of what they would do to “solve” Iraq if they were elected.

Do you know a second reason why no candidate would agree to this debate format? Because they know no one would broadcast it. And now loyal minions, your Maximum Leader actually reaches the point at which he wanted to begin. He claimed to have this festering rant against “the media” at the beginning of this post, but up to this point he’s just been bloviating about the “debates.”

Your Maximum Leader has come to believe that the major television news outlets are largely responsible for the dumbing down of the political awareness of the typical American. He blames all of the major news outlets equally. Insofar as your Maximum Leader is concerned it is a pick ‘em. NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, Fox News are all equally bad. They have all sunk to the same level. That level is that they will provide continuous coverage to an Los Angeles car chase that lasts 90 minutes, but they will not give a reporter 90 minutes to provide a serious analysis of an issue facing our nation.

Now you may say to yourself, “Self, my Maximum Leader must be wrong. There are hour-long programs with knowledgeable people discussing issues on those news channels.” Well… Take a moment to actually watch one of those programs. They are hour-long certainly. But that hour is filled with 30 two-minute segments in which agitated nitwits pontificate as rapidly as possible to “make their point” before the pompous moderator cuts them off.

And we wonder what happened to our national attention span.

Okay… “We” don’t wonder all that often about our national attention span. Your Maximum Leader wonders about it. He seems to remember that the “attention span” of your typical American was 20 minutes at some point in the 1970s; but only about 7 minutes by the late 1990s. Alas, he can’t find a good comparative analysis by a reputable scientific source after Googling for about 5 minutes. (Heh… The irony is lost on him by the way.)

Your Maximum Leader suspects that Americans started to lose their ability to pay attention to anything about the same time CNN launched Headline News. You see, before Headline News you had to watch hours of CNN before you got to the “main” news stories of the day. CNN was, at the time, filled with lengthy reports on all manner of subjects. (They even devoted time — hours of time — to news that was important in other countries. You know, those places that aren’t America…) At some point the geniuses at CNN decided that it would be neat to have a channel that just repeated the same news over and over again every thirty minutes. They would devote particular segments of that 30 minutes to “hard news” and “sports” and two minutes to Jeanne Moos. That way a busy American would only have to watch 30 minutes of CNN to know everything they needed to know about what was going on in the world.

Unfortunately… Soon there came tickers, and crawls at the bottom of the screen. Then slowly all TV news became processed so that the story could be told quickly. (Excursus: Some of you might be thinking at this point “Hey the “network” evening news programs have always been 30 minutes long… So this isn’t a big change.” To this your Maximum Leader says that in the “glory days” of network news people actually read newspapers. Your Maximum Leader believes that readers of newspapers generally have longer attention spans and better understanding of just about anything…)

Your Maximum Leader would like to see a serious news channel start up. A real serious one. One that only shows in depth reports. One that doesn’t have crapulent commentators with purple faces yelling at one another. One that actually takes the time to research a story from mulitple angles so that a viewer might actually come away from a piece actually knowing something…

Then again… This is a blog you’re reading. One that isn’t known (at least lately) for lengthy exposition on particular subjects. (Heh. The irony is not lost on your Maximum Leader. We can’t all be Mr. Poulos afterall.) Odds are that if you are still reading this you likely do have an attention span longer than your typical American… Unless you were just skimming for the familiar closing words of

Carry on.

Funny

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must agree with Vinnie over at the Jawa Report. This here is funny.

Damned funny.

Carry on.

Arlington

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what you might know about Arlington National Cemetery. If you are a regular DC area commuter you might know that Arlington National Cemetery is that infrequently visited Metro stop on the Blue Line that only seems to add countless needless minutes to your commute. If you aren’t a DC area person you might think of Arlington Cemetery as the place where the Tomb of the Unknowns and graves of John and Robert Kennedy are located. Indeed, if you are a tourist you might think that a visit to the Tomb of the Unknowns and the Kennedy graves is worth the time if you have time. The cemetery is a little way away from the primary tourist areas, but it is a nice (and quiet) change from the Mall area.

Of course, if you have time (and one supposes the inclination) Arlington National Cemetery is a wonderful and moving place. Some of your Maximum Leader’s favorite places in the cemetery are among the least visited, places like the USS Maine memorial. But just walking down a row (especially in some of the older areas of the cemetery) will result in surprises. Your Maximum Leader remembers walking down a row of graves, reading the anonymous names off stone after stone. Then suddenly he had a double take. That name wasn’t anonymous, that was the grave of John Pershing… It is an amazing experience. You should do it one time if you can.

Today there was a great piece in the Washington Post today about the groundskeepers and arborists at Arlington Cemetery. If you didn’t see it you should check it out.

Carry on.

Disappointment and other stuff

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is still getting over his disappointment. He isn’t sure why he didn’t expect to be disappointed, afterall all signs pointed towards the prospect of little or no gratification. But he was nonetheless.

Of course, he is speaking about SciFi channel’s “Flash Gordon” which he saw last Friday night…

It was supposed to be a “dramedy.” Alas, it was lacking in drama and comedy. The acting was neither campy nor comedic. The actors played it straight. It was like they were trying to be dramatic and serious, only without having the skills required to do so. The whole show was flat. Your Maximum Leader was contemplating a more lengthy review, but honestly remembering the salient points of the story just bore him too much. The project doesn’t seem to have a focus. Given the subject matter and previous treatments of the characters, the director/producers should have either chosen to go with a “serious science fiction/action” theme, or go for “camp.” Apparently they tried for neither.

Of course, your Maximum Leader was so disappointed with the treatment that he decided to go out and get the definative “Flash Gordon” of his life. Yes… The 1980 movie (with soundtrack by Queen). Your Maximum Leader had some money left on a Best Buy gift card (that he won at some charity event). The DVD was on sale too boot. So when all was said and done the “Flash Gordon - Saviour of the Universe Edition” only put him out $4.91 with tax. No bad.

Your Maximum Leader remembers seeing the film in the theatres in 1980. He remembers that he liked it more than Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but not as much as Star Wars. Over time, “Flash Gordon” has held up in his esteem — and perhaps grown in esteeem, and “Star Wars” has diminished. “Flash Gordon” is just over the top. It has glitz. It has camp. It has psychedelic colors. It has a rockin’ score. It has Ornella Muti in skimpy outfits. It has Max Von Sydow as the Emperor Ming (NB to Mrs P and Sir Basil: your Maximum Leader is keeping the goatee a little bit long in hopes of making himself look more “merciless.”) And, of course, Brian Blessed with wings.

Sadly, there is no commentary track on the “Flash Gordon” DVD. Please know that this is a shocking admission from your Maximum Leader. On most DVDs he buys, your Maximum Leader isn’t interested in the commentary tracks. In the majority of cases they are boring and don’t add in any way to his enjoyment of the film. (Excursus: There are exceptions to this of course. Noteworthy commentaries are found on: The English Patient, Conan the Barbarian, Starship Troopers — if only for the revelation that director Paul Verhoven never read the book, and Lawrence of Arabia. The commentary by Bruce Campbell on the “Boomstick Edition” of “Army of Darkness” awaits a visit from Smallholder — so we can watch it together with some brews.) But your Maximum Leader thinks that this move lends itself to a witty commentary track. There were two bonus features on the DVD that were quite entertaining. The first is from Lorenzo Sempel - the screenwriter for the movie. In it he admits that he wrote the story quickly, and that it went from writing to screen with no editing or reivision by others. (A move that he admits has more disadvantages than benefits.) Semple also shares some wonderful anecdotes about working with Dino De Laurentiis and the set designer Danilo Donati. Apparently De Laurentiis had the script translated into Italian for him by a woman who barely spoke English; and Donati designed all the sets without ever reading the script (hence why the lush forests of Arborea on Mongo are actually dense swamps). That was good stuff. The other bonus feature was a short interview with comic book author Alex Ross. Now… Your Maximum Leader didn’t know Ross from Adam, but apparently he is a big-wig guy in the world of comics. He waxed poetic about the film. It was sort of inspiring actually.

So, after the disappointing SciFi show, the 1980 film was a bit uplifting.

Anyhoo… Your Maximum Leader hopes to write some decent posts this week. He is a bachelor for the week (as Mrs Villain, the Villainettes, and the Wee Villain are gone to the beach). So, that might crimp his writing style a little…

Stay tuned…

Carry on.

A happy man.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is happy when his readers and interwebs friends are happy. And today, he doubts that anyone out there reading this page could be as happy as our friend Buckethead. Why you ask? Because he now has an iPhone.

Your Maximum Leader will say that he found himself, a few weeks ago, in an Apple store fondling an iPhone. While he felt the pangs… He was strong. He stayed with his Razr when the other trainees ran. He prevented a breach of the central cooling unit of the anti-matter containment field that is his checking account. No iPhone for your Maximum Leader… He does doff his bejeweled floppy cap in Buckethead’s direction in celebration of his techno-geeky happiness.

Before your Maximum Leader goes… Your Maximum Leader holds out hope for Skippy having a happy day one day. Or even better, a whole string of happy days.

Carry on.

Problems with hiring “Professionals”

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader can’t find the right words to summarize his thoughts on a piece he read on the new wires. He will let the article stand without comment.

Testicle surgery mystifies police.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - When conventional medical professionals refused to remove a 62-year-old local man’s testicles, police said he turned to mysterious “professionals” to relieve what he called chronic pain.

Now police want to find the fly-by-night surgeons.

“I have never in my life seen anything quite like that,” said St. Paul police spokesman Tom Walsh.

According to a search warrant affidavit filed Monday, the man complained of chronic pain and turned to conventional medical personnel to remove his testicles.

When they refused, the 62-year-old man said he hired other “professionals” to do the surgery. He would not tell officers who they were, saying he didn’t want to get them into trouble.

Police said a couple of weeks ago, two or three people operated on the man in his home. He was unconscious. When he woke up, his testicles were gone. So were his “professionals.”

His groin area was bleeding heavily, so he called his daughter. She called for help.

Police found an improvised operating room in the man’s house, with bright lights, an apparent operating table, a camera and various medical supplies and equipment. There was also blood in several rooms of the house.

Oy!

The only thing your Maximum Leader can think to say is that if he had chronic pain in the groin, the LAST option he would consider would be surgical removal of his testes. Indeed, he would contemplate a horrid death first.

Carry on.

Flash! Aaahhh-aaahh!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must not watch as much tee vee on SciFi channel as he thinks. He has watched Battlestar Galactica, and will occasionally catch something else. But other than the one show, he supposes he doesn’t watch SciFi all that much.

Well imagine his surprise when he learned today, just a few short moments ago, that SciFi is launching a new series on Friday.

The series:

Flash Gordon.

It is supposedly a “dramedy.”

Your Maximum Leader will withhold judgement… But he may not be pleased if they don’t have Brian Blessed with wings.

Carry on.

Bush appointment to SCOTUS

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t have the chance (ever) to scoop major news outlets or Drudge, but a friend of his called today with shocking news. John Paul Stevens is retiring from the Supreme Court, and President Bush is planning on appointing either Elvis Presley (now out of the Witness Protection Program and living in Kalamazoo, MI) or the famous “Bat Boy” to the court.

Okay… Lame attempt at a laugh. But some people aren’t laughing at the demise of the Weekly World News. Your Maximum Leader seems to remember hearing something about WWN closing down its shop later this month. (He thinks he heard it on “Marketplace” on NPR.) Well… The Washington Post is confirming the story and does a great (5 internet page) article on the WWN.

Your Maximum Leader admits he’s bought a few WWN issues. (He can be a sucker for the Elvis sightings.) But he never knew how it all got started:

It all began in Lantana, Fla., in 1979, when the National Enquirer, America’s premier tabloid, bought new color presses to replace its old black-and-white presses. The Enquirer’s owner, a former CIA agent named Generoso Pope, couldn’t bear to leave the old presses idle, so he founded Weekly World News as a sort of poor man’s Enquirer, running celebrity gossip and UFO sightings that didn’t quite meet the Enquirer’s high standards.

That is a choice paragraph. Enquirer’s high standards… Heh. Double heh even…

Read the piece. It is a great bit on a soon to be passing piece of Americana. Frankly, your Maximum Leader’s favourite Weekly World News bit is the scene from Men in Black where Tommy Lee Jones goes to the news stands to pick up the fact sheets and grabs a Weekly World News. That was a classic piece of cinema there.

Adieu Weekly World News. Your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled floppy cap in your direction for years of enjoyment and laughter.

Carry on.

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