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Ephemera

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader hopes that you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah. Your Maximum Leader had a fine time. He got a video game for the PC (Total War: Shogun 2) and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Sadly your Maximum Leader has not devoted too much time to either. He’s done a few of the tutorials for battles and such on the game. He hopes to spend a little more time playing this coming weekend.

As for the movie… Your Maximum Leader has watched about half of it. Then events conspired to keep him from finishing the film. So far, James Franco’s performance is flat. John Lithgow is great. Frieda Pinto is beautiful but her character is underdeveloped. And Ceasar (the ape) is awesome. Your Maximum Leader hopes to finish the film one night this week.

Continuing to pull a play from FLG’s book… Your Maximum Leader is listening to the album version of this song:

Here’s a question… Would you consider the above linked song (Will Hoge’s “Too Old To Die Young”) a rock song or a country song? Your Maximum Leader heard it for the first time on Elizabeth Cook’s show on Outlaw Country on Sirius/XM. But when he bought it on iTunes it was listed as Rock. He played it for Villainette #1 who said it sounded sort of like rock. Mrs Villain says country…

The taxomony problem in music is sometimes aggrevating. If only we could have a musical Aristotle or Linneaus who could conclusively answer these vexing problems for us…

Another vexing problem… Roast beef… Your Maximum Leader overbought standing rib roast for Christmas dinner. (He thought he would have more dinner guests than he did…) So he put a whole 3 rib roast in the freezer and still has just less than 2 ribs worth of Christmas dinner remaining. (He cooked a very robust 4 rib roast on Christmas.) He’s been eating roast beef at every meal since Sunday night. Not that he’s complaining mind you… (Not exactly anyway…) But it seems as though his family decided to eat other things starting yesterday. So last night for dinner it was your Maximum Leader feasting on roast beast, warmed over Yorkshire pudding, green beans and salad while his family had hot (fresh) rolls, salad and soup. Your Maximum Leader can’t imagine passing up roast beef that is just sitting in the fridge! (NB: Your Maximum Leader suggested to Mrs Villain that he cook the frozen roast for New Years, but she’s put the kybosh on that.)

Since we will not be having roast for New Year’s… Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure what he’ll be eating over the weekend.

He can hope for ham…

Carry on.

Rejoice!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all a very Merry Christmas (and he’ll do it now in case he doesn’t get around to blogging again for a day or two).

Adoration by El Greco

Carry on.

Now listening to…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will pull a page from FLG’s playbook.

Your Maximum Leader is now listening to:

Carry on.

Curtains for the little man

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that Kim Jong-Il has croaked. Your Maximum Leader can’t say he’s sorry at all to hear of Kim’s passing. One supposes that we’ll have to watch North Korea carefully to see what happens in the coming days.

One wonders who, if anyone, the US will send to the funeral (assuming we’re invited). Your Maximum Leader would likely send Bill Richardson if we send anyone above a functionary with the State Department. Of course, anyone other than Richardson, Sectretary Clinton, Vice President Biden or a former US President would likely be viewed as insulting. Which it would be in fact.

Carry on.

One more on Hitchens

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was in the new Villainmobile yesterday listening to the CBC. (He has a demo of SirriusXM radio for a few more months and he’s found that he listens to the CBC once and a while.) While listening to the CBC he heard a number of commentators reminiscing about the life of Christopher Hitchens. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t recall who was speaking at the time but the individual was commenting on how, contrary to his public persona, Hitchens was a consummate gentleman with impeccable manners. The speaker (who now as your Maximum Leader thinks about it, might have been David Frum) said that he visited Hitchens a few weeks ago and even though Hitchens was weak and ravaged by cancer and its side affects, he (Hitchens) stood up from the sofa on which he was laying down and attempted to offer his visitor a seat. The speaker indicated that Hitchens was always the gentleman in private.

This prompted your Maximum Leader to recall that many years ago he met Hitchens in DC. They ran into each other in a hotel lobby. Hitchens was going to a party, your Maximum Leader to a different party. Your Maximum Leader introduced himself in the lobby and we rode the elevator together. We exchanged small talk about some goings-on in town. Somehow the conversation was drawing down and we exchanged emails. Your Maximum Leader later mailed Hitchens a short polite email thanking him for sharing an enjoyable elevator ride. To your Maximum Leader’s surprise, Hitchens responded the next morning with an equally pleasant email. That struck your Maximum Leader as showing a civility that was often missing from public people.

In closing, your Maximum Leader will restate that which he quoted earlier. The world is a whole lot dumber (and less interesting) without Christopher Hitchens.

Carry on.

Hitchens - Dead.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that Christopher Hitchens has died. (Good WaPo obit here.) Actually, your Maximum Leader learned of this earlier today. But he wasn’t sure what to write.

Your Maximum Leader thought of titling this post “Hitchens - RIP” or “Fare thee well Christopher Hitchens” or any one of a number of other normal titles that include some variation of resting or moving on. But in the end your Maximum Leader decided that all these potential post titles implied some sort of belief in something more beyond death. Of course, Hitchens did not believe in God, the afterlife, or anything like that.

So your Maximum Leader decided that the best thing to do was to just announce it. Christopher Hitchens is dead.

As Anthony Bourdain tweeted earlier, the world got a whole lot dumber today. That is true. The world was better off for Hitchens being in it. Your Maximum Leader didn’t always agree with Hitch, but he was thoughtful, exciting, combative, entertaining, and a hell of a writer.

Because your Maximum Leader can’t help it… Rest in peace Hitch.

Carry on.

Giddy as a schoolgirl

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is giddy as a schoolgirl.

Your Maximum Leader hears you all asking yourselves, “Self, why would my Maximum Leader be so giddy?” Well let him tell you. He got tweeted by the lovely and talented Lola Astanova. Yup he did. You can click here and see it. Okay. It is a short tweet (as they all are he supposes). But still. She was surprised that anyone was coming from Virginia for her show. Since your Maximum Leader isn’t in the NYC area, and Miss Astanova doesn’t seem to travel down to DC for any performances, it seemed like a good time to go to NYC and catch her performance.

Ah the wonders of social media.

Perhaps your Maximum Leader will get extra lucky and she’ll invite him to meet her after the performance for a photo. That would be cool. (Doubtful as he’s sure that there are many more wealthy patrons who will vie for her attention afterwards.)

So, as it stands, your Maximum Leader will be travelling to NYC with Villainette #2 in January, 2012. We will be seeing the lovely and supremely talented Lola Astanova’s Carnegie Hall debut as well as seeing the town. The two of us are very excited to be able to take the trip.

If you are interested, you can follow your Maximum Leader on twitter at: @maximumleader.

Carry on.

New Yawk Trip

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wrote yesterday about his desire to go to New York City and see the lovely and talented Lola Astanova’s Carnegie Hall debut on January 19, 2012. He speculated that he would go with Mrs Villain.

Well… He is going to go to New York to see Miss Astanova’s Carnegie Hall debut. But he is not going with Mrs Villain. He is going with Villainette #2.

Villainette #2 has always been fascinated with the whole idea of New York City. The tall buildings. The crowds. The hustle. She has been after your Maximum Leader for about a year to take her to New York for a little trip. Well. This concert became the trip. We will likely take the train up to the city on Thursday morning and return Friday night. We will probably hit the Empire State Building and the Met while we are there.

And Carnegie Hall of course.

Tickets to the concert are purchased and tickets on the train are next. Then comes the tough part. Finding a decent hotel that will not cost a kings ransom.

Carry on.

Lola Astanova - Benefit Concert

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is considering trying to take his lovely wife up to NYC for a concert on January 19, 2012.

Your Maximum Leader’s platonic crush, the lovely and supremely talented Lola Astanova, is giving a benefit concert (proceeds to the American Cancer Society) at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, January 19, 2012.

If you live in greater NYC area you should consider going. Tickets available from Carnegie Hall here.

Carry on.

UPDATED: Your Maximum Leader just learned that this concert will be Lola Astanova’s Carnegie Hall debut. This might push him a little harder to try and see this show.

Carry on.

For Arethusa - Bard Edition

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, in the comments to the previous post, was asked by Arethusa what his favorite films of the plays of Shakespeare.

That is a tough one. It really depends on your Maximum Leader’s mood. There is, however, a small pool of absolute favorites that keep popping up. Allow him to ennumerate them in no particular order…

1) Richard III - Ian McKellen’s version. Richard III is your Maximum Leader’s favorite play. The name of this blog comes from the play in fact. This version is great because of the 1930’s setting. Also, it is edited down and rather short at a little over an hour and a half. If your Maximum Leader wants a Shakespeare fix on the quick, this is the film he grabs.

2) Hamlet - Kenneth Branagh version. If your Maximum Leader’s memory is correct, this is the only version of the whole play on film. That is one of the reasons this film clocks in at about 4 hours long. It is wonderfully acted and the sets are beautiful. This is an exquiste film and probably the best filmed Shakespeare ever.

3) Richard III - Laurence Olivier version. Again, this is your Maximum Leader’s favorite Shakespeare play, so it seems right that it should be on the list twice. This version is a more conventional film than the McKellan version. (Conventional in that it has the feel of a play put on film.) You can’t beat Olivier for talent. Olivier was the greatest Shakespearean of our times (our “times” being roughly 1900 to the present - and in a pinch your Maximum Leader might argue that Olivier was the greatest Shakespearean actor since David Garrick).

4) Ran - by Akira Kurosawa. This might be something of a cheat. Ran is an adaptation of King Lear set in medieval Japan. Your Maximum Leader will stretch the category a little and include this film in the list.

5) MacBeth - Orson Welles version. Although it has been ages since your Maximum Leader has watched this film, he does remember it very fondly. He’ll have to see about renting it and rewatching to see if it is as he remembers it.

6) The Merchant of Venice - Pacino version. Pacino himself is a little over the top in this performance (as all of his performances on film since 1990 have been). But this is a wonderful adaptation of the play. Also, many exterior shots were filmed in Venice - which makes it a joy to watch.

7) Romeo & Juliet - Zefferelli version. This is a conventional choice. It probably makes everyone’s list. But it is well done and as your Maximum Leader remembers it, this was the first Shakespeare he ever saw (play or film).

8 ) Taming of the Shrew - Taylor/Burton version. Come on! Taylor! Burton! Need he say more?

9) Titus - Julie Tamor version. Your Maximum Leader loves the cast of this film. Anthony Hopkins. Jessica Lange. Alan Cumming. They are great actors and do so well in their part. Tamore’s setting and costuming is sort of wierd, yet interesting (not as over the top as her stage version of The Lion King, but interesting - perhaps influenced by McKellan’s R3).

10) Henry V - Branagh version. Wasn’t this the movie that really put Kenneth Branagh on the map so to speak.

So those are the top films of Shakespeare’s plays according to your Maximum Leader. Feel free to dispute as you like in the comments.

Carry on.

Monday night notes

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sitting down and overstimulating himself. He is typing a blog post on his laptop. He is watching the end of Al Pacino’s movie “Looking for Richard.” And from time to time he is switching over to watch his beloved Washington Capitals get trounced by the Florida Panthers.

In the realm of hockey, the Capitals looked okay on Saturday night when your Maximum Leader attended the game. They (the Capitals) looked okay against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. But they are playing for crap tonight against the Panthers. They are down 5-1 and your Maximum Leader can’t bear it any more. He is switching off the game in favor of other electronic stimulation.

Your Maximum Leader never thought he’d be “one of those people” who would have the computer on while doing other things. Like watching a movie… But, alas, he’s become one of those people.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader is finishing up watching Pacino’s documentary about Shakespeare’s Richard III. “Looking for Richard” came out in 1996. As longtime readers of this space (if such a thing exists anymore with the lackadaisical updating that has been the hallmark of this blog for a while now) know, your Maximum Leader is a great fan of both the play Richard III and the actual historical Richard III. That might seem like an odd combination as we all know that Shakespeare’s play is a Tudor propaganda piece and real hatchet job on Richard and the real Richard was likely not that bad a king… Well… Back to the movie…

Your Maximum Leader really wanted to see the film back in 1996 when it came out. But time and location conspired against him. At the time he lived in Virginia Beach and the film was only playing in limited release. Needless to say, he didn’t see the film. Basically he has waited since 1996 to see this movie. The night before Thanksgiving your Maximum Leader couldn’t sleep and noticed that “Looking for Richard” was on HBO so he hit the DVR and recorded it. He was excited that after so many years he would now get to see the film.

Well… Reality did not quite live up to expectation. In 1996, Pacino was just starting to fall into his new mode of “yelling as acting.” So there was a little bit more yelling than your Maximum Leader would have liked. There were a few sequences where Pacino and the other cast (a great cast including Alex Baldwin, Kevin Spacey and Winona Ryder) were trying to “figure out” the play. Those scenes were hit or miss (and mostly miss) with your Maximum Leader. All in all it isn’t interesting, and can be downright annoying, to see the behind the scenes with actors figuring out their roles. Your Maximum Leader is looking for finished product. The process of getting to finished product isn’t all that exciting.

So, your Maximum Leader’s Monday night wasn’t quite as pleasing as it could have been…

Then again… He is blogging from his sofa… So he’s got that going for him…

Carry on.

Nice

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is writing this blog post on his new laptop. The laptop is perched on his stomach as he is lounging on the sofa watching his Washington Capitals play the hated Pittsburgh Penguins.

He could get used to this.

Carry on.

Bullet points - Dec 1

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader pronounced the word “rabbit” to you all as it is the first of the month.

He also wonders if Herman Cain will be out of the running for the GOP Presidential nod by tomorrow. Truth be told, he is already out. Your Maximum Leader wonders if Cain will officially announce he is out by tomorrow.

Your Maximum Leader is still waiting for Newt to fade. It is going to happen at some point, just when? Your Maximum Leader thinks Gingrich could coast in first place until about the middle of December. At that point he’ll start to fade. Your Maximum Leader is thinking that Rick Santorum is still waiting for his turn as the frontrunner…

Your Maximum Leader took a gentleman’s bet ($1 American) that President Obama will win reelection next year. Your Maximum Leader bet that Obama will be reelected. All things being equal, the math is in his favor. Your Maximum Leader knows it will be a very close run thing. But he thinks that the electoral math will break for Obama. It is conceivable that Obama will lose the popular vote and still win. In the states where Obama lost in 2008, he will lose by bigger margins. In states where he won big he will win by slimmer margins. It is in those handful of close states (Virginia included for a change) is where the battle will be fought. Your Maximum Leader thinks he’ll pull it out. But look for it to get nasty.

In other news…

Your Maximum Leader is worried about his beloved Washington Capitals. He expects the Caps to get plastered by the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. New coach, Dale Hunter, will need a few weeks to get the team into whatever system he wants. All in all the Caps need to get performance from the big stars. By big stars he means Alexander Ovechkin. Your Maximum Leader wonders if Ovechkin is satisfied with himself right now? Really… Does Ovechkin believe in his own mind that he is doing all he can to play hard and win? If he really believes that, then there is nothing any coach or mentor will be able to do to help him. We’ll have to see how this plays out… We’ll have a better feeling about the team’s trajectory by January…

Carry on.

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