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100 Below: Pal the dog.

He stared past his television. He stared off into the abyss that was his life. He ran his hand through his greasy hair and across his four-day old stubble.

“What the hell and I doing with myself?” He spoke to no one in particular. He was alone except for his dog, a golden retriever named Pal.

“I am such a loser. I can’t believe I’ve just wasted a prime party weekend sitting on my ass.”

Pal raised his head from the floor and spoke clearly, “You know, a man alone always talks too much.”

Venice Kiss-in

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader didn’t make it to Venice over Christmas… There is always next year. (Although with Venice one can’t be too sure that there will be a next year. Perhaps 2009 is the year where the Adriatic finally swallows up La Serinissima.)

Anyhoo…

Apparently Venice is trying to bolster its reputation as a great city of romance by holding a “kiss-in” in Piazza San Marco while the New Year is being rung in. Couples wanting to participate in the kiss-in should get to Piazza San Marco early. From 10pm on there will be free seminars teaching you how to perfect your kissing technique.

All your Maximum Leader can say is this: if Italians need seminars on how to perfect their kissing technique; then truly the end is nigh upon us. One can only hope the seminars are for foreign visitors.

Carry on.

Commercial Christmas Wrap-up.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has had a good Christmas from a commercial point of view. He got a number of fun books and movies. He also received two X-box games (The Force Unleashed and Destroy All Humans). The big gift for the whole family was a Nintendo Wii.

Other than being obscenely expensive, the Wii is a great gift for the family. Everyone enjoys playing it - although your Maximum Leader has played it less than any other member of the family. In addition to Wii Sports (which came with the console) we have two other games. The first is a Sonic game (generously gifted to Villainette #2 from her Godfather - the Air Marshal). The second is the Star Wars Lightsaber Duels game.

Your Maximum Leader has been getting his arse kicked in head-to head play at the lightsaber duel game. He’s been getting his arse kicked by his 4 year hold son - the Wee Villain.

The Force is strong with that one.

Carry on.

Merry Christmas

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all a Merry Christmas. Light posting through the New Year as you can imagine.

The Adoration by El Greco

Carry on.

So you know Ka-ra-tay.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must concur with FLG’s positive assessment of this video.

Very cool indeed.

Carry on.

Oh… Sorry about that…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush has apologized in a letter. According to Reuters:

An Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for embarrassing him before the watching world, the prime minister’s office said on Thursday.

TV reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi shot to instant fame when he called Bush a “dog” in Arabic at a joint news conference with Maliki in Baghdad last Sunday and threw both his shoes at Bush in a gesture that is a deep insult in the Arab world.

“Zaidi said in his letter that his big ugly act cannot be excused,” said Yasin Majeed, Maliki’s media adviser.

Big ugly act huh? Yeah… al-Zaidi must have read this blog and been thankful that he wasn’t trying to throw shoes at his (and your) Maximum Leader…

The coda to the Reuters piece amused your Maximum Leader.

Zaidi’s ‘David versus Goliath’ act has made him a sensation in the Arab world, where the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Washington’s support for Israel have generated deep animosity toward Bush. Zaidi’s attorney says more than 1,000 lawyers have offered to defend him.

An Egyptian man offered his 20-year-old daughter to Zaidi as a bride and cobblers from Turkey to Lebanon have claimed that the shoes he hurled were made in their factories.

Perhaps this was al-Zaidi’s motivation. You know he probably thought, “Hey if I make it through this alive I might get some chicks and a Nike endorsement!”

Carry on.

Hope that dare not speak its name…

Greetings. loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been hoping against hope for something… He’s not wanted to blog about it for fear that he could “jinx” it.

What is “it?”

It is Mark Teixeira possibly coming to play for the Nationals.

It looks like Baltimore is out of the running. According to ESPN the Angels and Red Sawx are also in the running for Teixeira. That means he will go to Boston or LA (or Anaheim or where ever the Angels are from nowadays).

But the fact that the Nats are still in the mix is cause for irrational hope.

Carry on.

Slingin’ Sammy Baugh - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a Green Bay Packers fan - as longtime readers know. He became a Packers fan out of a great contrarian streak. You see, if you grow up in the Washington DC area (and don’t have strong family influences to the contrary) you are going to be a Redskins fan. If you have a run-of-the-mill-milquetoasty contrarian streak, you will become a Dallas Cowboys fan.

(Excursus: Your Maximum Leader believes that Washingtonians who become Dallas fans to “stick it to the Redskins” are just idiots. Wooo… You’re soooo original. Cowboys vs Indians. Oh yeah… It was almost too subtle to get… Stupid fucks…)

Anyhoo…

You have to have a great contrarian streak to pick a team (that in the late 1970s and early 1980s) sucked terribly…

But your Maximum Leader digresses…

The Washington Redskins have a colorful and interesting history. It was made more colorful and interesting by Sammy Baugh. Slingin’ Sammy Baugh as he was known played from 1937 to 1952. He practically invented the forward pass. He also played both ways. He was an inagural member of the Football Hall of Fame. From the Washington Post Obit:

After starring at TCU, “Slingin’ Sammy” played with the Redskins from 1937 to 1952, leading them to the NFL title in his rookie season and again in 1942.

Baugh was the best all-around player in an era when such versatility was essential. In 1943, he led the league in passing, punting and defensive interceptions. In one game, he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four as well. He threw six touchdowns passes in a game twice. His 51.4-yard punting average in 1940 is still the NFL record.

Your Maximum Leader saw Sammy Baugh at a Redskins game years ago. He remembers seeing Baugh on various sports shows (with George Michael) from time to time. He seemed like a good guy (who could curse a blue streak and drink you under the table).

He was 94 years old.

RIP - Sammy Baugh.

Carry on.

Beastly…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been reading the Daily Beast quite a bit lately. He has also been reading Culture 11 quite regularly.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if there isn’t some similarity between these two sites. There is some stylistic similarity. Style in terms of layout and presentation. The similarity isn’t the content. (Culture 11 as lots of great original content. There is a aggregator quality to the top of the Daily Beast.)

Is there something visually that is compelling about these sites? Your Maximum Leader can’t put his finger on it.

Sadly enough… This post seems to be petering out as your Maximum Leader is typing it…

Upon beginning the post your Maximum Leader thought that this post would wind up being some sort of erudite evaluation of the relative worth of the two sites. But as your Maximum Leader started to type he realized that if he went through with his writing he would be writing a trite miserable piece of shit that would cause him to have flashbacks.

Flashbacks to what you might ask yourself?

Flashbacks to his time as a graduate assistant having to grade 300 freshman World Civilization papers over a single weekend. The paper’s subject… “Compare and contrast the Beatitudes from the Gospel of Mark to the 8 Noble Truths of Buddha.” Great jeezey chreezey. Just typing that line caused your Maximum Leader to shake and shiver.

It might be time for a double scotch and a hockey game on tv…

Carry on.

Your Maximum Leader is listening to…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, fearing that you will all begin to go through DTs if he doesn’t post something soon, is taking a page out of the FLG playbook.

Your Maximum Leader is listening to:

Marhsall Crenshaw singing - “Someday Someway.” Sadly that You Tube above is a acoustic version done earlier in 2008. Your Maximum Leader is listening to the definitive version from Marshall Crenshaw’s eponymous album released back in 1982. Damn that is a good song. The Villainettes love it too. They can both sing along when it pops up on the iPod.

(NB: For some odd reason while looking at the cover art for the Marshall Crenshaw album your Maximum Leader thought of Mr C.S. Perry of Rooked… Hummm…)

Frankly… In the time your Maximum Leader has spent looking (in vain) for a good video of “Someday Someway” a few other songs have come and gone… They include: “Mo Ghile Mear” by Sting and the Chieftains, “It’s all been done” by the Barenaked Ladies, “Tears dry on their own” by Amy Winehouse, “Mexico” by James Taylor, and “One” by the Cowboy Junkies…

So there…

Hey… It’s content…

Carry on.

Your Maximum Leader vs. W

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader knows that by now you’ve seen the footage of the Iraqi reporter throwing his shoes at President Bush. (And President Bush ducking.)

Allow your Maximum Leader to tell you how that scene would have played out differently had it been him at the podium instead of President Bush…

Your Maximum Leader would have seen the shoe coming at him and grabbed it out of mid-air. While the man was readying his other shoe to throw, your Maximum Leader would have lept over the podium, knocked the offender to the floor, and then started beating the reporter about the head and shoulders with his own shoe while yelling “How you feelin’ now Bee-yatch?!?”

After a moment of this your Maximum Leader’s bodyguards would have to pull him off the now-bloodied offender. The man would then be taken out to the closest bridge over a river or stream, impaled and left as an example for others… (The man’s family would also be dragged out and shot.)

Just so you know.

Carry on.

Bring me the finest meat and cheese in all the land!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maxmium Leader wants to thank Robbo, Buckethead, and Mr & Mrs FLG for a positively fantastic evening Friday last.

Your Maximum Leader believes a good time was had by all. Robbo’s account makes your Maximum Leader wonder if he should go ahead and buy a zombie apocolypse survival kit and send it to Chez Robbo. Your Maximum Leader doubts that Mrs Robbo would see the need for such a kit; but when Robbo is able to save her (and the kid’s) bacon when the inevitable attack comes she will see the light.

FLG and Mrs FLG were a delight. Mrs FLG is, as Robbo says, a special jewel. She is radiant, intelligent, and indulgent of FLG’s blogging habit. She also plays video games with her husband. A rare find indeed!

As for FLG himself… He is a very fine fellow as you can surely tell from his blog. His visage is strong and shows hints of his true pirate nature… This account of the meeting captures the spirit of the evening.

Your Maximum Leader had a great time. He should also thank Mrs P for getting the ball rolling. (NB to Mrs P: Your Maximum Leader would have called you from his cell while at dinner, but luckily for you there is no signal in the District Chophouse.)

Carry on.

Bettie Paige - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees on the news wires that Bettie Page has died. She was 85 and had recently suffered a heart attack. She had, apparently, suffered for many years with mental illness as well.

Of course her recent ailments or mental illness are not the cause of Bettie Page’s fame. She was the curvy black-haired model from 1950s pin-ups and erotic photos. From the AP article:

Page, who was also known as Betty, attracted national attention with magazine photographs of her sensuous figure in bikinis and see-through lingerie that were quickly tacked up on walls in military barracks, garages and elsewhere, where they remained for years.

Her photos included a centerfold in the January 1955 issue of then-fledgling Playboy magazine, as well as controversial sadomasochistic poses.

“I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society,” Playboy founder Hugh Hefner told The Associated Press on Thursday. “She was a very dear person.”

Bettie Page certainly had an impact on your Maximum Leader. He remembers finding some old magazines at a comic book shop featuring photos of a bikini and smile clad Bettie Page when he was very young. Those photos were enough to stir up “funny” feelings that your Maximum Leader hadn’t had before. He might have been 8-9 years old. Your Maximum Leader, at one point, had a Bettie Page poster on a dorm-room wall at college. She was up there with Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan. (There might be a story there, but he can’t think of one now.)

Your Maximum Leader is glad that Bettie Page never allowed herself to be photographed in her declining years. We will always remember her as the fresh-faced and hard-bodied 20 something with a girl-next-door face and wild streak.

For your viewing pleasure:

RIP - Bettie Page.

Carry on.

UPDATE - You should read Skippy’s moving tribute to Bettie Page.

Making Blagojevich better

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is enjoying this whole Blagojevich thing going on. Nothing like a good scandal right before Christmas to get one’s mind off other (more important) issues.

Do you know what would make this whold Blagojevich thing better (ie: more fun to watch)?

On Thursday afternoon Blagojevich holds a press conference. During the press conference he announces that he is going to appoint former Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman to the open US Senate seat. Then, with his wife by his side, he announces that he was only interested in taking money and bribes in exchange for the Senate appointment to be able to keep his secret truth hidden. He is really a lesbian woman trapped in a man’s body and he was hoping to get money for a sex-change operation.

Yes… That would make this all the more fun…

Carry on.

Genes and being “so-called”

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s interwebs connection appears to be working intermittently. He has a call in to his service provider - but no ETA on a technician yet. This little situation annoys your Maximum Leader because yesterday he had a few different items about which he wanted to blog. Alas, he didn’t actually type them out and save them - and now that moment has passed and he doesn’t want to go back and re-think those ideas.

He did, on the other hand, decide to write a little something that seemed to spring from an interesting serendipity of items about Spain. Yesterday night, before the interwebs started acting up, your Maximum Leader read this peice about Sephardic Jews leaving their genetic imprint on Spanish men. According to the AP piece:

From the 15th century on, Spain’s Jews were mostly expelled or forced to convert, but today some 20 percent of Spanish men tested have Sephardic Jewish ancestry, and 11 percent can be traced to North Africa, a study has found.

“These values are surprisingly high,” the researchers wrote in their report, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Along with researchers from Britain’s University of Leicester and Wellcome Trust, the scientists analyzed DNA samples from 1,140 men in Spain, Portugal and the Balearic Islands and compared them to Moroccans, Algerians, and Sephardic Jews in Istanbul and Israel.

“The work shows that religious conversions and subsequent marriages between people of different lines had a significant impact on modern populations both in the Balearic Islands and in Portugal,” Elena Bosch of the University of Leicester said in a statement.

One of the most surprising findings is the percentage of Spanish genes whose origin can be traced to Sephardic Jews, although Spain had a relatively small Jewish population compared to its Moorish population.

Some of these genes may pre-date the Sephardic Jewish culture, the researchers said, noting that the Phoenicians also share some of the genetic characteristics.

Your Maximum Leader thought that this little bit of information was interesting to learn. Indeed, he was reminded of previous studies have found interesting genetic connections between people that one wouldn’t associate as being so close genetically. (To avoid the risk of citing something wrong, he is going to forego a discussion of some of the other studies that he seems to remember…)

The study of human genetics is a fascinating thing. It is amazing (and sometimes upsetting) to think of what we are learning and theorizing about our own nature due to our growing understanding of the human genome.

But, the AP peice started to upset your Maximum Leader… Not because of the genetics, but because of a little something else. Here is what set off your Maximum Leader: “The Moors invaded the Iberian peninsula in 711 and remained until defeated in battle by the so-called Catholic Monarchs in 1492.” “So-called?” That pissed your Maximum Leader off a little bit. Would you refer to Alexander of Macedonia as “the so-called Alexander the Great?” Would Tsar Ivan IV of Russia be “the so-called Ivan the Terrible?”

Anyone who knows anything about Spanish history knows that Ferdinand and Isabella are known to history as “The Catholic Monarchs.” Why would one throw that “so-called” in there? Is it just to be snide or is it to try and educate people? Sadly, it can’t be the educational option because Ferdinand and Isabella are never mentioned in the article. That “so-called” sticks in your Maximum Leader’s craw and he just can’t get past it.

Something else in this confluence of events… Your Maximum Leader, prior to reading the piece on the Sephardic Jewish genes, was thinking about the Catholic Monarchs. You may be asking yourself, “Self, why would my Maximum Leader be thinking about the Catholic Monarchs?” Well… He sat down and watched “Elizabeth the Golden Age” on his Tivo over the weekend. Your Maximum Leader wonders how he actually made it through the 2 hrs running time. Gawd what a waste of time and money. There were no redeming qualities to that film. Avoid it.

While watching the film you Maximum Leader got to thinking about Phillip II of Spain (the Great-Grandson of the Catholic Monarchs). At first he wondered if the actor portraying Phillip in the film had that weird little walk (small bowlegged steps) because Phillip was described to have walked that way - or if the very tight pants required him to walk that way. After a little contemplation, he decided it was likely neither of those choices but rather an attempt to characature Phillip as a sort of weird little religious fanatic with an odd gait.

Then your Maximum Leader started to think about the historical reputation of Phillip II, his father Charles V, and his Great-Grandparents Ferdinand and Isabella. Other than Isabella do any of them have a favorable reputation that isn’t significantly tainted by Protestant historicism? And frankly isn’t Isabella’s favorable reputation based on “financing” Columbus’ voyages?

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that Phillip or Charles deserve their bad repuations if you try and look at them as actors in their times. Perhaps from a few hundred years (and secularized society) on we can scoff at their religious wars in Europe. But if one tries to insinuate your mind into their time their actions seem perfectly explainable.

Your Maximum Leader also didn’t realize, until pulling out a book and checking, that Phillip II was married 4 times. He could recall three wives (Mary I of England, Elizabeth of Valois and Anne of Austria - with Mary Tudor and Anne of Austria immediately coming to mind, Elizabeth took a little digging). But he didn’t know that before Mary I of England came Mary of Portugal. He should have known because he knew about Don Carlos of Spain, but he just thought that Don Carlos’ mother was Elizabeth of Valois.

Anyhoo… Your Maximum Leader was thinking about the Catholic Monarchs when he read that piece on the AP and that little “so-called” line annoyed him.

If you would like to share your thoughts on Phillip II, Charles V, The Catholic Monarchs, or human genetics; please feel free to do so in the comments or emails.

Carry on.

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