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Calling all Latin scholars

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader needs a favor from any reader who knows his/her latin.

One of your Maximum Leader’s most favorite old sayings is “When your luck has run out it doesn’t matter how big your dick is.”

This little line was told to your Maximum Leader once by a college professor who told him that it was a line from Ovid. Your Maximum Leader’s never found the line (or a close approximation of it) in Ovid. But he did find it (in English) in a book about sex in history (where the line was purported scrawled on the wall of a bath in Pompeii.

Your Maximum Leader’s request is that if you have expert knowledge of Latin, how would you render that expression. Your Maximum Leader would like to put it on a t-shirt or something… (He has it on a t-shirt in Chinese… Buy one here…)

If you can help, please let me know.

Carry on.

Leo Major - Badass

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader loves the Badass of the Week website. He visits… Uh… Weekly… To see who the newest badass is.

This week’s badass is one of whom your Maximum Leader had never heard: Leo Major. An excerpt:

One quiet night in 1945 Major and his buddy were sent out to do some recon in the Nazi-occupied town of Zwolle, report back on enemy numbers, and maybe establish contact with the Dutch resistance. Sadly, not long into the mission, Willy the Lumberjack [Major’s best friend] was cheap-shotted and killed by a German machine gun. This set off one of the most epic blood rages ever recorded.

Needless to say, the ensuing bloodrage was quite bloodrageous…

If you aren’t into the Amazing Ben’s recounting of the exploits of Leo Major (and your Maximum Leader can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be into Ben’s version), you can find a more subdued version at Wikipedia.

Your Maximum Leader would like to have a Canadian Lumberjack buddy…

Carry on.

US women go down

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hopes that last night’s defeat of Team USA by Team Canada in Olympic Women’s Hockey isn’t a foreshadowing of how the men’s side will turn out.

What can one say to the Canadian Women’s Hockey team except, congrats. You played the better game and are the better team.

Of course the champagne, beer and cigars on the ice to celebrate is a little much.

Congratulations on Gold ladies!

Of course, I hope the Canadian men fizzle and leave the gold to Team USA.

Carry on.

Olympic Hockey

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is amazed at how Olympic hockey is turning out. We’ve got USA/Finland and Canada/Slovakia going at each other.

And did you happen to see the Canadian dismantling of Russia last night? Damn. Your Maximum Leader feels embarassed for the Russians today. The Canadians just layed the wood to the Russians. Your Maximum Leader figures that Vladislav Tretiak is going out of his mind wondering what happened to his team. Your Maximum Leader has watched a lot of hockey in his life, and he doesn’t recall seeing a team with as much depth and power as these Canadians have.

Your Maximum Leader should also note that he is fond of the Russian style of play. Namely he is fond of a controlled entry into the offensive zone and short fast passes to set up shots. The Canadians (and USA frankly) play a dump & chase style when it comes to getting into the offensive zone. The Canadians effectively kept up a grinding offensive and defensive style of play that just unhinged the Russians. In the second and third periods Russian players were often just standing on the ice with a bewildered look on their faces.

Congratulations Canada.

Your Maximum Leader wants the gold medal game to be USA/Canada… But the way teams are playing, he can’t make any more (bad) predicitions…

Carry on.

Why hasn’t this happened sooner?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader read yesterday that Maryland Atty General Douglas Gansler has determined that the state of Maryland will recognize same-sex marriages (and presumably civil-unions) performed legally in other states. The piece says that Gansler recognizes that his decision will be challenged in court rather quickly.

Frankly, your Maximum Leader has wondered for a few years now why no Atty General hasn’t done this sooner. (Other than the fact that they are, collectively, gutless.)

You know, your Maximum Leader agrees with Gansler in two ways. The first is that his decision will be challenged quickly in the courts. The second way is that Gansler’s decision will (and indeed must) be upheld.

For years now your Maximum Leader has completely agreed with everyone (the Smallholder jumps to mind first) who has said that once one state legalizes gay marriage it will be legal everywhere due to the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution. As he stated a few sentances ago, the thing that has been amazing is that no state Attorney General hasn’t done this sooner.

A number of years ago, the Congress passed the Defence of Marriage Act which stated that states don’t have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. As he said back then, and he’ll say again, DOMA is an unconsitutional law. Your Maximum Leader can’t see a circumstance where the plain language of the Constitution doesn’t completely trump the DOMA.

You know, if your Maximum Leader were Attorney General of Virginia (which he gladly is not) he would have to go down much the same course as Gansler is in Maryland. Your Maximum Leader just can’t see how the marriage of a homosexual couple performed legally in Iowa would not be valid in Virginia (or any other state) if the couple chose to move to Virginia (or any other state).

One imagines that the court challenge on this decision will move quickly, how hard can it be to read the Constitution and over 200 years of practical application of the full faith and credit clause and not decide to uphold Gansler? Once a major court (like the Supreme Court of Maryland or a federal court) decides that Gansler is right other states will follow quickly.

Once this resolves itself the gay marriage debate will, for practical purposes, be ended in America.

(At that point we can all start focusing on polygamy. And once Utah allows polygamy…)

Carry on.

Mentphemera

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a few mental sidenotes he’ll go ahead and immoratalize in the ether of the interwebs now…

Earlier today he opened a can of Spagetti-Os. That is not noteworthy in itself. The noteworthy piece is that he opened it with the can opener tool on a Swiss Army knife. It took about 40 seconds. It has likely been 15 or more years since he’s opened a can this way.

After reading Robbo’s latest he mused that there are some names he likes a lot and (half-heartedly) tried to apply to his daughters. Mrs Villain vetoed them immediately in fact. They are: Livia, Helen, Irene, Agrippina, Julia and finally Andromache. Theodora has a nice ring to it, but the historical connection is a little too slutty. (NB: Your Maximum Leader never learned why Helen and Julia were problematic to Mrs Villain.)

Your Maximum Leader has always thought (and perhaps has mentioned before) that he’s always found this song lyric particularly lovely and poignant: “Two are born to cross/their lives/their souls/their heart/if by chance one turns away/are they forever lost?”

Your Maximum Leader has about 8 hours of Dollhouse on the DVR to watch. He’s been meaning to see how Joss Whedon wrapped up the series. But since the Olympics are on, he’s not been watching the DVR…

Your Maximum Leader has often wondered how the course of Western Civilization would have been changed if the Emperors of the Byzantine Empire had been a little less concerned with iconoclasm and more concerned with Islam. Today, he found himself imagining what the world would be like if Constantinople was still the seat of an Orthodox Empire in the East.

Your Maximum Leader gets annoyed with people who spell it “ikon” and not “icon.” He notices that he only sees “ikon” in the context of a religious image.

Who is cuter? Mila Kunis or Kristen Bell? Your Maximum Leader normally would say Mila Kunis, but her connection to McCauley Caulkin makes her slightly less attractive. Repeated viewings of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” keep adding props to Kristen Bell.

Your Maximum Leader wonders about the great and terrible Velociman. He hopes all is well with him.

You know, your Maximum Leader has crossed paths many times with the police chief in this photo. (The photo is on the main page of Velociworld now, that prompted this thought.) He always seemed like a nice fellow who had the terrible burden of this photo being the only thing that people knew him for.

Your Maximum Leader’s kids keep singing this song.

Carry on.

Intellectual discourse

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader finds that his blog is quite moribund when it comes to seriously argued discussion. Most of the time your Maximum Leader just sits here at his computer and spouts off Kornheiseresque rants.* Indeed, most of you must come here out of habit more than seeking intellectual stimulation, ’cause your Maximum Leader hasn’t been putting up the thoughtful stuff recently.

Happily for all of us out here, Fear and Loathing in Georgetown is not affected by the intellectual moribundity that rules here at Naked Villainy.

To wit: the very thoughtful discussion of what your Maximum Leader will summarize as the “slippery-slope” possibilities in the gay marriage debate. The first post (with very important comments) is here. Then FLG restates the issue in the post available here.

FYI… Your Maximum Leader and Smallholder went around and around on this issue a few years ago. Some of the posts that you might be interested in revisiting… Here is a 2003 post in which your Maximum Leader throws out some of his thoughts about the gay marriage debate in terms of lawmakers vs judges. Here is a link to a Volokh Conspiracy post about why polygamy would be hard to implement. There are many more… But he’ll hit just those two.

For the sake of full disclosure, here is a link to another 2003 essay in which your Maximum Leader discusses gay marriage, equality and the state. His views on gay marriage have changed some over the intervening years; but the larger point about equality and the state is still valid.

After looking through the archives a little for some of those past post your Maximum Leader thought to himself, “Self, we really did write some decent stuff here once upon a time…”

* - In case you care, your Maximum Leader is a huge Kornheiser fan. He didn’t find the remarks about Hannah Storm particularly offensive; but he was also unaware of ESPN’s strict policy about ESPN personalities commenting on other ESPN personalities. In light of this, how exactly does PTI get away with treating Dan LeBatard the way they do? Also, as far as female ESPN personalities go, your Maximum Leader likes Hannah Storm. The one he can’t get used to is Cindy Brunson. Brunson’s eyes weird out your Maximum Leader.

Carry on.

A great lie

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader commends to you Big Stupid Tommy’s latest. Clicky here to read it. The open: I met Sir Anthony Hopkins the other day. I was putting gas in the truck, and wondering at the “Jesus will return, repent your sins” post-it note somebody had stuck on the gas pump at the BP station, when a man wandered around the rear end of my truck.

Read it…

Carry on.

Comments & Warren G.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what is up with Wordpress. He just noticed today that he’s had a bunch o’ comments waiting moderation. He’d either missed them completely, or they didn’t show up on the dashboard. He approved three comments just now (he spammed three and deleted one - the one was a repeat).

One of the comments awaiting moderation was from our good buddy Smallholder who posted a link to a list of the sexiest Presidents for President’s Day. All in all your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how to rate presidential sexiness. He does know this however… Warren Harding was a huge ladies man and should be a lot higher up on this list than he is. Your Maximum Leader seems to recall some story of the Secret Service restraining Mrs Harding outside a room in the White House while President Harding was engaing in a little throwdown with a secretary or something…

This reminds your Maximum Leader of another little Warren Harding story. Your Maximum Leader’s good friend, the late Richard Couture once gave him a call and asked what a letter from Warren Harding might be worth. Your Maximum Leader wasn’t sure, but was sure of where one could find a number of presidential autograph/memoribilia appraisers who could get the answer for us. Richard sent this letter to your Maximum Leader (via Registered Mail). It was a standard “Thanks-for-your-comments” letter that politicians often send out to constituents who have written them. This one had some personal information thanking the recipient for kind hospitality many years before when Harding apparently dined with her. At the bottom of the letter was a beautiful clear signature reading “Warren G. Harding.” Your Maximum Leader compared the signature to a reproduction of a Harding signature he had in a book on the Presidents. It looked pretty close actually… So your Maximum Leader wondered if he was actually dealing with the proverbial real McCoy on the letter.

Your Maximum Leader made an appointment with a well-known and highly regarded expert on presidential autographs in Georgetown and took the letter up. While the appraiser was looking over the letter he explained to your Maximum Leader that there are basically three types of Harding signatures that come in to his shop. There are the actual Harding signatures (worth about a few hundred bucks); the signatures done by Harding’s secretarial pool (only worth something if the letter itself might be interesting); and then signatures done by one of Harding’s mistresses (which were worth up to $1000 depending on the letter condidtion and subject). Apparently ole Warren was happy to have is mistresses do a little letter-writing for him while he was concentrating on getting his freak on. It seems as though one mistress might have actually signed important documents (like officer’s commissions or ambassadorial letters) while she and Warren were getting jiggy with it. Sadly, the letter your Maximum Leader brought was just one from the secretarial pool and not worth anything really.

Anyhooo… Warren Harding… Probably more sexy than Nerve magazine gives him credit for…

Carry on.

A little re-evaluation

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader watched a fair amount of Olympic Hockey yesterday. (NB to Fishersville Mike: Saw more hockey than expected. Amazing that NBC would actually show the games and not a human interest story…) He watched Russia/Czech Republic, USA/Canada and some of Finland/Sweden. (He stayed up late.)

First off, allow him to say for the record that NBC is not screwing up the hockey broadcasts they are actually showing. Your Maximum Leader is starting to like Jeremy Roenick giving the business to that dillweed Mike Milbury. The color and the call during the broadcasts are good. All in all there is a lot of positive stuff going on when NBC is showing the games.

Sadly, you have to search around and find CNBC or MSNBC to actually see the hockey games… But at least they are on. Your Maximum Leader is also pleased that there don’t seem to be lots of commerical breaks.

Now… On to the re-evaluations…

Team USA is better than he thought. This isn’t just because of their win last night over Canada. It is because they are making the best of their opportunities and are playing smart heads-up hockey. They leave a lot to be desired defensively and got tremendously lucky during the final two minutes of the game last night; but when they are in the offensive zone they move the puck well and play their positions. All in all Team USA is a better TEAM than your Maximum Leader thought they would be. The Americans seem to have some chemistry. They don’t look like a cobbled together superteam. In fact, they aren’t a “superteam.” They are a team of good professional players who are greater than the sum of their parts. Your Maximum Leader isn’t going to declare Team USA a gold medal team; but it seems possible that they could get a medal of some color.

Team Russia is not as good as he thought. Unlike the Americans, the Russians seem to have parts that are greater than the whole. There is probably more talent on Team Russia than any other team in the games; but they don’t seem to have coalesced as a team. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t want to give much creedence to dillweed Mike Milbury’s comments that Ovechkin and Malkin don’t like each other enough to be linemates; but Milbury might have something. Team Russia might need a different centerman on the line with Ovechkin and Semin. Your Maximum Leader thought that an Ovechkin-Malkin-Semin line would be right neigh impossible to stop (a 21st Century KLM Line). While the Ovechkin-Malkin-Semin line is a great one, they don’t seem to have the chemistry you’d like to see. Perhaps with some practice and a day off they might get a little more chemistry…

Team Canada is just about where your Maximum Leader thought they’d be, but they didn’t perform last night. Your Maximum Leader is ready to chalk up the loss to the USA as being an “off night.” Of course, now Canada has a tougher row to hoe to get to the gold medal game.

Your Maximum Leader has for months thought that the gold medal game would be Canada/Russia. Now he is not so sure. In fact, having seen most of the team play now he thinks that five teams could seriously contend for gold they are: USA, Russia, Czech Republic, Canada and Sweden. The two weak sisters in that pentete of teams are USA and the Czech Republic. The USA needs to work on defence and the Czech Republic needs more explosive scoring. Team Sweden (the defending gold medal winners - if you can actually be said to “defend” a gold) is likely the dark horse now. The Swedes are a strong looking team. They play a smart game on both ends of the ice and Lundqvist seems pretty strong. Your Maximum Leader could see a Sweden/Russia or Canada gold medal game. Your Maximum Leader gets the feeling that if the Swedes make it to the gold medal game they could win it all.

It should be a very exciting few days hockey-wise. Your Maximum Leader will hope to catch as many games as he can over the week.

Carry on.

UPDATE: Your Maximum Leader hasn’t seen a schedule for the medal round yet, so he can’t confirm this but… Apparently a Canada/Russia gold medal game is out of the question as those two teams will likely face each other before the gold medal game. Your Maximum Leader can’t find a schedule worth a damn out there so if you happen to know of one… Please let him know…

UPDATE OF UPDATE: Okay… Here we are:

Winner of Canada/Germany faces Russia.
Winner of Switzerland/Belarus faces USA.
Winner of Czech Republic/Latvia faces Finland.
Winner of Slovakia/Norway faces Sweden.

Predictions from your Maximum Leader go like this. Canada defeats Germany. Switzerland defeats Belarus. Upset: Norway defeats Slovakia. Czech Republic defeats Latvia. Russia defeats Canada. USA defeats Switzerland. Finland defeats Latvia. Sweden defeats Norway. That would leave the teams with the bye all advancing to the medal round. Out of fear that he doesn’t fully understand the seeding for the medal round, your Maximum Leader will avoid predicting more than he has. Although He thinks that if it plays out the way he thinks it will that would result in USA/Finland and Sweden/Russia games. With the winners of those matchups facing each other for the gold. Could we see USA/Sweden in the gold medal game and Finland duking it out (like in the Winter War of 1939) with Russia for the Bronze? Gad… That would be too much to hope for. All your Maximum Leader can say is he hopes the USA keeps wearing those throwback 1960 Sweaters.

Carry on (again).

Things learnt from Wikipedia

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is often amazed by the things the learns from the front page of Wikipedia.

Today, for example, he learned about Hetoimasia.

He also was informed that on this day in 1801 the House of Representatives resolved the outcome of the Election of 1800 in favor of Thomas Jefferson. Now your Maximum Leader knew that the House resolved the outcome of the Election of 1800. But he didn’t know the date. He assumed it was some time in March actually (since back then Inaugrations were in April).

Strangely, the Capitol Historical Society decided to mention that Alice Roosevelt married Nicholas Longworth on this day in 1906. The Election of 1800 seems like more interesting stuff…

Carry on.

Enemy Action

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been an avid watcher of the Olympics since he was a little kid. He loves watchng the Winter and Summer games almost equally. He has a number of vivid Olympic memories. He actually anticipates watching the games while they are on.

Of course, he hates the absolute morons who run NBC and are doing their best to drive your Maximum Leader away from the Olympics completely.

Allow your Maximum Leader to say a few things about his Olympic viewing. First off, he’s come to the conclusion over the past few years that he isn’t going to actively root for sports where a subjective call by a judge determines the outcome of the event. This conclusion has pretty much eliminated his enjoyment of freestyle ski jumping, figure skating, most snowboarding, and moguls competitions (to name a few). This is not to diminish the athletic accomplishment of the athletes. They are truly world-class phenomina. But your Maximum Leader has grown so weary of judging scandals and the nit-picking that he can’t get himself worked up to view those sports. (He will still watch, except figure skating - he’s had enough of figure skating.)

Your Maximum Leader prefers competitions that are determined by objective measures, like time or distance or a score. He loves hockey, skiing, luge, skeleton, bobsled and the like. He also knows that, with the exception of hockey, he only watches these sports every four years.

So why is NBC doing all it can to completely screw up Olympic coverage? Are they really that friggin stupid? Are they actually retarded?

It was a few Olympics ago when your Maximum Leader really noticed that it was getting bad. Too many human interest stories and interviews that were intermintably long. Too many sports never made it to TV. Too much face time for the anchors. Too much viewing of only Americans.

To paraphrase Ian Fleming, the first time NBC screws up Olympic coverage is bad luck, the second time they screw it up is coincidence, the third time is enemy action. Yes, NBC is the enemy here and they are going their best to piss off your Maximum Leader and diminish his Olympic viewing experience. They have fucked up their late-night lineups, and now they are continuing to do their best to destroy the Olympics. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t need to see one event over and over and over again. There are hours and hours of competitive sport taking place. NBC has at least four (cable) channels on which they can broadcast these events. But we get the same shit hour after hour.

Here is your Maximum Leader’s plea to NBC Sports. Listen. If you insist on having this human interest/light sport Olympic broadcasting on NBC itself, so be it. But at least show other competitions on USA, CNBC and NBC/Universal. You can even show sports where Americans aren’t going to be contenders. These athletes are the best of the best and are worth watching no matter what country they are representing. Show them. Don’t continue to be putzes and limit what we can see to what your sports producers think will draw in the most viewers. Your sports producers aren’t that smart if past history is any indication. NBC Sports coverage generally sucks. The NFL gave you Sunday Night Football to squeeze you for cash (that you were happy to pay since no one was watching NBC Sports). You got the NHL for the game of the week on Sunday because (let’s face it) the NHL did all they could to kill themselves and they desperately needed any big-time teevee outlet to show games. (And as bad as things are at NBC, they are better than the Versus network.) So, your Maximum Leader recommends that you stop relying on your sports producers and start listening to your Maximum Leader. Show more sports and give Bob Costas and Dan Patrick less face time. We’ll all be happier.

Carry on.

In what is becoming an annual exercise…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was thinking about past presidents this President’s Day. Is it “Presidents’ Day” or “President’s Day.” In a way, every day you have a presdient is “President’s Day.” But there is something collective about “Presidents’ Day.” In your Maximum Leader’s heart this day is always Washington’s Birthday. He doesn’t mind the adding of Lincoln to the mix, but he does feel a little churlish considering James Buchanan and Millard Filmore on this day.

So, in what might become an annual exercise, your Maximum Leader throws up for your consideration his list of the Greatest Presidents of the United States, in ranked order:

1. George Washington. The first president, and the overriding shaper of the office. He set down many of the precedents that still function today. He established the cabinet system, and gave shape to the executive branch. He set down the major goals of US foreign policy (shunning entangling alliances) which held until (arguably) the Second World War. He also flexed (for the first time) federal supremacy over the states by putting down rebellions in Pennsylvania.

2. Abraham Lincoln. He saved the Union.

3. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Obviously your Maximum Leader doesn’t have to like the man’s politics for them to make the list. Created the modern presidency (characterized by a strong executive). He also created the modern federal government (characterized by not only supreme federal authority but by an all-intrusive federal government).

4. James K. Polk. Your Maximum Leader has always believed in the greatness of James K. Polk. Polk promised four things would be accomplished during his presidency. 1 - the Indian question in the south would be resolved; 2 - Texas would enter the Union; 3 - California would become part of the US; 4- a northern border with Canada west of the great lakes would be fixed. Polk said if these four things were not done in his four years, he would not seek another term. During his term he: sent the army in to round up and move the Indians in the south, he faught a war with Mexico and acquired Texas, California, and other western lands. He was (thanks to British/Canadian intransigence) unable to negotiate a northern border with Canada. He refused to run for a second term, and retired. (Your Maximum Leader will also add that he died shortly after leaving office - which your Maximum Leader also thinks is a generally good thing for ex-presidents to do.)

5. Theodore Roosevelt. He started moving the nation towards global superpower status. Started necessary progressive changes and sensible regulation of the American economy.

6. Andrew Jackson. The first populist president. First to utilize the presidential veto and thereby create the modern system by which laws are made in the US. Not fond of his actions towards the Bank of the United States.

7. Harry Truman. Had a tough act to follow, but did very well at it. Used the Bomb to end the war. Nationalized the Coal industry to break an illegal strike. Suddenly woke up and smelled the coffee concerning Soviet aggression and started defending US interests against communists. Without Harry Truman we would have no Israel.

8. Dwight Eisenhower. Balanced budgets, built interstate highways, kept the Soviets at bay, lowered his handicap while in office.

9. Ronald Reagan. He redefined the role of the modern federal government. (If you don’t think so, look at the administration of Bill Clinton and guess again.) And he won the Cold War.

10. Thomas Jefferson. Overall he doesn’t score lots of points with your Maximum Leader for his presidency. But you have to give credit to him for the Louisiana Purchase.

Here is the 2009 edition, and here is the 2006 edition. Your Maximum Leader just realized that three men to serve as president in sucession are on this list this year. FDR, Truman & Ike. Hummm… Amazing stretch when you consider it. Perhaps those three will be the American version of the “Five Good Emperors.”

Your Maximum Leader, for your edification, will add to this list of greatness his list of Presidential Flops. Here is the list (in no particular order): Millard Filmore, James Buchanan, Warren Harding, U.S. Grant, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Nixon. Your Maximum Leader always feels badly putting Nixon on that list. Nixon really has the bipolar presidency. Greatness in so many areas and abject failure in others. It is sad. Your Maximum Leader knows that many conservatives would like to add LBJ and Bill Clinton to this list. Honestly, your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that either man belongs on this list of bad presidents. Using the conventional method judging presidential greatness LBJ and Bill Clinton don’t belong on this list. If your Maximum Leader were going solely on his political persuasion the worst presidents in US history would be FDR, Woodrow Wilson and LBJ.

Anyhoo… Judge them for yourself if you like…

Carry on.

UPDATE: From our friend SkippyThe Daily Beast’s list of the best-read presidents.

Hockey, eh?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been reticent about blogging about hockey of late. His much beloved Capitals were on a real roll until the night before last against the Habs in Montreal. (NB: Is your Maximum Leader the only one that keeps calling the arean the Canadians play in “The Forum?”) Then the Caps fell again to the Senators last night. That is no fun. But, your Maximum Leader is okay with the Caps dropping a few games, if it means they will go further in the playoffs.

After the games on Saturday, the NHL will break for the Olympics. The Olympics are causing your Maximum Leader some heartache. The heartache involves exactly for which team he’ll root in hockey. You see, your Maximum Leader believes that Olympic hockey is the best you’ll see on a quadrennial basis. (Some Stanley Cup finals are better, but oftentimes not.) He enjoys watching all the games he can. It is like watching all-star teams go against each other in every game. The skill level is so high.

NB to hockey fanatics: Your Maximum Leader doesn’t have any intention of using this post to describe the “international” games differences from the “Canadian/North American” game and which is better. They both have a lot going for them…

So here is the heartache… Your Maximum Leader is a proud American. But Team USA isn’t terribly good this year. Actually this Team USA is probably the weakest in recent memory. Normally your Maximum Leader’s pecking order for Olympic Hockey teams is: 1) USA; 2) Canada; 3) Sweden; 4) Czech Republic… Last)Russia/CCCP. This year, however, your Maximum Leader has (like Ted Leonsis) a secret crush on Team Russia.

Yup. Your Maximum Leader has a secret crush on Team Russia. Three Capitals will play for Team Russia. Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Simeon Varlamov. There are no Caps playing for either Team USA or Team Canada. (Sweden has Nicolas Backstrom and Tomas Fleischmann is playing for the Czech Republic.)

Your Maximum Leader expects Team USA to go out pretty quickly. Indeed, he expects the Gold Medal game to be Russia/Canada. (Although he could see the Swedes going to the Gold Medal game over Canada if the stars align.) Your Maximum Leader has trouble rooting for the Russians once the US goes out. For all those years when the Commies put the Red Army team on the ice against our amateur and college boys… It still leaves a sour taste in your Maximum Leader’s mouth. He can’t see himself easily rooting for the Russians when the Canadians are still in it. But the Russians have more players on the team for whom your Maximum Leader actively roots on a regular basis…

See the problem…

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what he’ll do…

Carry on.

Totalitarian Gothic & MLK

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has in the past expounded on the architectural/sculputral style he likes to call “Totalitarian Gothic.” He first introduced this term to you all in this post in Sept 2006. For those of you who have visited Washington DC, you will see quite a bit of “Totalitarian Gothic” sculpture and building. Afterall, the Federal City as we know it was built in large part in the 1930s, when Totalitarian Gothic was pretty chic.

Now, you may have gathered that your Maximum Leader is a fan of Totalitarian Gothic. Well… He is and he isn’t. In some circumstances it is fine. But in others it is not.

Which brings him to the object of this post…

The impending memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. on the Mall in Washington. Not exactly on the Mall but pretty close, near the Tidal Basin across from the Jefferson Memorial actually…

According to the Washington Post, the monument to MKL is ready for pickup in China.

If you have no idea what this monument looks like you can see a graphic by clicking here.

Now… Before anyone goes berserk over these comments… Your Maximum Leader is not a racist bastard who doesn’t think Martin Luther King Jr. should have a monument on the Mall in Washington. A monument or other memorial is just fine. Your Maximum Leader just really doesn’t like this one.

So… Where to begin… Let us start back in the 1980s when the Congress of the United States decided to put a statue of MLK up in the Capitol Building along with other great Americans . The bust that was put in the Capitol is here. Now let us look at some of MLK’s company in the Rotunda of the Capitol. Here are: Jackson (in bronze), Garfield (in marble), Reagan (in bronze), and Washington (a bronze replica of the much greater marble which resides in the Virginia State Capitol and which the Federal Government has tried to appropriate from time to time with no success). At the time your Maximum Leader thought that the MLK bust in the Capitol was ugly and not in keeping with the style of monumental statuary in the Capitol building. Now he finds himself harping on the exact same issue, only this time the problem is writ large.

Writ 30 feet large to be exact.

The MLK monument near the tidal basin has a lot of problems in your Maximum Leader’s opinion. The first one is scale. If you clicked onto that graphic you would see that the statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial is 19 feet tall. The MLK monument is 30 feet tall. That is just too big for a statue on the mall. Way too big.

Now you may be saying, “Hold on there, the Lincoln Memorial building is much taller than 30 feet. Shouldn’t you compare apples to apples?” Fair point. If you want to consider the whole MLK monument as a you would a building, then you are faced with a classical temple versus a large rock with a man coming out of it.

The scale of the large rock with a man coming out of it is just too great. It will dwarf many of the trees (cherry trees in many cases) in the area. Also, in terms of human scale it is not approachable. One of the many things that works with the Lincoln (or Jefferson) Memorial is that you are faced with an impressive ediface, but then the statue is scaled down proportionally and you can “feel” closer to it. The MLK carving is just huge. It will be five times taller than a tall man. Five times taller! Not only that, MLK will just be staring off into the distance above the visitor. The strength of the Lincoln statue is that he looks down to the visitor. Your Maximum Leader just can’t think of a way in which the MLK monument works on the National Mall. Not a one. It is too big, too impersonal, and too out-of-place.

When your Maximum Leader first saw the MLK monument the first thought that popped into his head was, “Dear God. It looks like something Kim Jong-il would have built in honor of his father, Kim Il-sung.” It does. The impersonal face. The crossed arms. The imperious look. It does seem like a monument more akin to a communist dictatorship than a democratic republic. (Indeed, in the MWO expect to see many similarly scaled monuments to your Maximum Leader. They will be omnipresent.)

Our National Mall is a communal space for the Nation. The monuments that adorn it should reflect, in scale, in material, and in composition our democratic ideals. The Lincoln Memorial harkens back to classical Athens. The Jefferson Memorial harkens back to Republican Rome. The WWII Memorial is a bit of a stretch with its monumental arches, but it fits closely enough to be passable. The Washington Monument is a bit out of place, but it is the distinctive mark (along with the Capitol Dome) on the city skyline. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t see how an artificial mountain with a man coming out of it will work in this communal space.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t like it. No he doesn’t. Not one bit.

Carry on.

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