As many of you already know, my best buddy Kevin’s mother passed away yesterday. It is hard to express the emotions that crowd one’s mind and heart at such a time. There is sorrow because of the permenant loss. There is relief that her suffering has passed. The contradiction of emotions one feels is often more difficult to deal with than the power of the emotions singly.

I spent time yesterday evening trying to shoo away my family for a little quiet reflection. I eventually did get some time to myself. I regret to say that I didn’t come to any great and noble ideas in my reflective time. I remembered the many kindnesses given to me over more than 3 decades. I remembered camping trips, picnics, concerts, and so many other moments. There was joy, sadness, embarassment, grief, and I suppose some calm at the end.

After my quiet time I went to bed a little earlier than normal. Strangely upon waking this morning I realized I’d been dreaming of the old cartoon “Star Blazers.” Star Blazers was a cartoon that Kevin and I watched together so often afterschool when we were younger.

Strange how the mind works.

Rest in peace Mrs Neidlinger. I will miss you.

RIP - Knut Haugland

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was looking over various twitter feeds he follows today and found an obituary in the NYT that was so interesting: Knut Haugland, Sailor on Kon-Tiki, Dies at 92.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t want to steal the Amazing Ben’s schitck from Badass of the Week, but Knut Haugland seems to be a real badass. Resistance fighter against the Nazis. Sailor on a balsa wood raft across the Pacific. That is pretty awesome. That he seemed to be a decent man as well was an added benefit.

Your Maximum Leader used to regularly read the Obits in the Times of London to catch the interesting passings. He’s grown out of the habit recently. It would serve him well to start again.

RIP - Knut Haugland.

Carry on.

Edward M. Kennedy - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sure that by now you’ve heard that Senator Ted Kennedy has died. If for some reason this blog is your first exposure to this bit of news your Maximum Leader suggests the following:

1) Swear your complete and unquestioning fealty to your Maximum Leader (contract written and signed in blood will do).

2) Just go to the WaPo and read this 5 web-page long obituary.

Your Maximum Leader will not heap praise or scorn on Kennedy’s memory. His life can be read however you choose based on your own views. There is plenty of material for detractors and haigiographers alike.

Your Maximum Leader will leave you with this thought… Of all the obituaries and commentary that he’s read so far today on Kennedy’s passing there is one person’s obituary/comments that he’d like to read. Alas, that person’s not written anything on the subject yet. That blogger would be Skippy.

Carry on.

John Hughes, RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, like many people who grew up in the 1980s, remembers the films of John Hughes as part of the cultural background of his life. He can’t think of a Hughes film that he’s seen (and there are likely a few he hasn’t seen) that he hasn’t either loved or liked a lot. Ferris Bueller, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. All of them great. Your Maximum Leader also remembers very fondly She’s Having a Baby one of Hughes’ lesser-known films.

Although your Maximum Leader doesn’t often get really emotional over the passing of people he’s never met, he actually does feel a little sad about Hughes’ passing. He seemed too young at age 59. Hughes had the ability to connect with a whole generation of move-goers, of which your Maximum Leader was one. Although Hughes was not particularly productive lately, his body of work is classic. Hughes will be remembered among Hollywood’s greatest directors. At least your Maximum Leader will so remember him.

Rest in peace, John Hughes. Your Maximum Leader prays you receive your heavenly reward.

Carry on.

Robert McNamara - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wakes up every day now and wonders what other famous person is going to be found dead, die, or be killed. There seems to be someone new every day…

Today comes the news that Former Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara died yesterday in Washington DC, aged 93. The Washington Post has a comprehensive obituary posted for him.

Your Maximum Leader, starting in the late 1990s, started to feel sorry for Robert McNamara. He was a man condemned to live his life in the knowledge that he engineered the policies of the Vietnam War. Those policies resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of American lives and much treasure. In the end one can say that the statistical know-how that had well served McNamara until 1961 and there after was the key to his failed Vietnam policies. The statistics and analysis that he so wanted to lead to a dispassionate application of a rational policy was in the end doomed to failure for not being able to quantify the human factors of the war.

Your Maximum Leader hopes Robert McNamara has found his peace now. It seemed as though it was too elusive in life.

Carry on.

What the hell is going on here?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader and his lovely wife spend a lovely long weekend at the Nemacolin Resort (with a brief foray to Pittsburgh for the Pirates/Royals game on Saturday night). And what has been going on in the meanwhile?

Ed McMahon - dead.
Farrah Fawcett - dead.
Michael Jackson - dead.
Billy Mays - dead.

Great jeezey chreezey!

On the flip side…

Abe Vigoda - lives!

Carry on.

Bill… Killed…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees on the Entertainment wire that actor David Carradine was found dead in his hotel room in Bangkok today. Apparently Carradine hanged himself. One wonders why… Your Maximum Leader wonders if news of some auto-erotic asphixiation thingie will come out in the news soon. Like that guy from INXS…

Your Maximum Leader was a fan of “Kung Fu” and the “Kill Bill” movies. Although Carradine was older, it seems sad that he should go out this way.


Carry on.

De Plane Khaaaaan! De Plane!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been rather busy with life of late and has let his blogging (and X-box playing before you all start going off thinking the worst) go. Sorry ’bout that.

Your Maximum Leader has just read on the Washington Post that Ricardo Montalban has died, aged 88.

Your Maximum Leader used to love Fantasy Island. He also is a huge fan of Star Trek II. It is as a fan of those works that Mr. Montalban’s passing is noted.

Now your Maximum Leader is imagining Montalban (in Khan garb) demanding “SMILES EVERYONE! SMILES!” on the dock at Fantasy Island…

Imagine that yourself.

Carry on.

E - 74

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has continued to be preoccupied with “real life” and hasn’t made time to blog consistently (or at all really). Sorry ’bout that. But he is now doing a little post because of a noteworthy anniversary today.

Yes… Today would be Elvis’ Seventy-fourth birthday. The King of Rock and Roll would be an old geezer now were he not dead. But your Maximum Leader would still be a fan. A big fan in fact. If your Maximum Leader hasn’t put you on notice before, in the Mike World Order, Elvis’ birthday will be a paid holiday - by law. (Your Maximum Leader will even push hard to have Elvis declared “Saint Elvis of Memphis.” If the Catholic Church will not accomodate this, your Maximum Leader is sure he can get the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans and AME churches to go along.) Graceland and the grave of Elvis is already a pilgramage shrine. Your Maximum Leader is sure many have been healed of their ailments by visiting the grave of Elvis. It shouldn’t be too hard… Plus… Can you imagine how cool it would be to have a Caddy or a Stutz Blackhawk that was once owned by a Saint? Very cool indeed.

Your Maximum Leader hasn’t checked, but his is pretty sure that something fun is going on at the Elvis website in honor of his birthday.

Happy Birthday to the King of Rock & Roll.

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…)


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.

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.

RIP - George Carlin

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was saddened, but somehow not surprised, to learn today that George Carlin had passed. Your Maximum Leader ran hot and cold on Carlin. Some of his stuff got a little too political for me to find really funny. But then there were other bits that really worked (like “your shit” and “my stuff”). And of course there is always… Seven words…


Carry on.

Tim Russert, RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader would normally be watching “Meet the Press” right now. But today he is sitting at his computer thinking about Tim Russert.

Your Maximum Leader has watched MTP for ages. At least since the late 80s - just before Russert became host. In recent years he didn’t always watch MTP, but downloaded the audio podcast and listened to the program. One way or another it was “can’t miss TV.”

Your Maxmium Leader must admit that he is getting a little worn down by the remembrances, celebrations, and eulogies all over the news channels for Tim Russert. It is not that he is getting tired of Russert; but that he is getting tired of the maudlin recitations of the same story being replayed over and over. In a way it is ironic that in remembering Tim Russert his collegues are becoming boring - the one thing Russert never was. At 2:00am on Election Night in 2000 when there was nothing new to report, Tim Russert was still making interesting commentary.

There is very little I can add to the ever lengthening list of tributes you will see on TV and read online. I am deeply saddened by Tim Russert’s passing. I mourn as someone who felt that Tim Russert helped me be a better citizen because he helped to keep me more informed. I mourn as someone who could observe the love that Russert had for his family - a family now bereft of his presence. I mourn because a town that is filled with phony people, egomaniacs, and sometimes loathesome characters has lost a genuine man.

God bless you Tim Russert. May you rest in peace.

Carry on.

William F. Buckley Jr. - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees on NRO that William F Buckley Jr has died. Your Maximum Leader is genuinely saddened. He’ll have to think of more fitting words to mark this passing than just a few hasty jottings…

Your Maximum Leader will say a prayer for him.

Carry on.

Things that died today…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader notices that two things died today… Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign and Heath Ledger.

Okay… That was sorta tasteless…

But it was amusing…

Admit it.

Your Maximum Leader has been saying for a little while now that Fred Thompson’s campaign was toasted. He had said that a strong, but not winning, showing in South Carolina might keep Fred going for a while. But, Fred didn’t do well in South Carolina and thus, dropped out of the race. Your Maximum Leader is not really sad about this. He had resolved himself, a while ago, that Fred wasn’t going to win the nomination. Politically speaking, Fred Thompson was probably as good a candidate as your Maxmium Leader could hope to see in this cycle. But, Fred didn’t have the fire in the belly to run. As your Maximum Leader noted before, not having the fire in the belly might in an earlier time have been an attribute. At any rate, Fred is done. He can now go back to his young wife and daughter and making TV shows.

Your Maximum Leader believes the Republican race is effectively down to McCain and Romney. If your Maximum Leader had to choose between those two, he would choose McCain. Romney just doesn’t do anything for your Maximum Leader. If your Maximum Leader had to lay a wager on the eventual Republican nominee he would choose Romney. He would make that bet solely because Romney can self-finance if he wants.

Your Maximum Leader wonders if the current cash crunch that so many candidates are experiencing is because of the protracted run-up to the primary race. These candidates have been raising money for ages already. They have been spending money for ages. Now, due in part to campaign finance laws, they can’t go back to the same big donors they have already tapped. (This probably hurts Hillary Clinton more than any other Democrat by the way.) People are tired of giving. They are tired of being asked. They are probably just tired of the campaigning.

And to close out your Maximum Leader’s tasteless opening…

Heath Ledger has died. He was 28. Apparently he died of a drug overdose in his New York apartment. Your Maximum Leader really enjoyed “A Knight’s Tale.” He thought that “Brokeback Mountain” was well done, even if the subject matter didn’t really appeal to him. He thought “The Patriot” was positively awful. And as far as your Maximum Leader can tell, those are the only three Ledger films he’s seen. There probably are more, but he can’t think of them now.

It is sad that a man with so much promise should die so young. But if he OD’ed, that is his own fault and your Maximum Leader is much less remorseful. Your Maximum Leader wonders if Heath Ledger will become a sort of James Dean type icon for a new age. He sort of doubts it. But anything is possible.

Carry on.

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