Self-Promotion: Old Navy Vs. the UFC Vs. Justin Combs

Let’s discuss promotion, an important art in today’s media-mad world.

A Mellow Jihadi Tattoo- for skinny girls, skater boys, slinky women, breakdancers, lucky ladies. In short: everyone

As for myself, in order to promote my blog, I haunt the neoned tattoo parlors up and down the coast of San Diego.

And I slip crisp 20-spots into the skinny jeans of the tattoo artists. With the implied suggestion that, rather than a highly tasteful fleur-de-lis slated for the small of their customers’ back, they tattoo: Mellow Jihadi, instead. Good idea? It can’t hurt, right?

Ben Affleck’s Dolphin Tattoo

After all, Ben Affleck has a tramp stamp of a dolphin. (Or is it a porpoise?) And don’t forget this guy, a tattoo’ist, who tattoo’d a tattoo of something unpleasant on his cheating girlfriend’s back (NSFW. Errr, literarily NSF for most Ws if read aloud.)

Why not this blog’s name? Tattoo’d across the small or big of an unknowing back?

Victoria’s Secret Heidi Klum in the Mellow Jihadi Navy

What do you think of Victoria’s Secret mistaking Michigan State’s motto? Do you think it was a real mistake or intentional, a couple of pop-rocks in the Coca-Cola? Some Mentos (the Freshmaker) in the Pepsi?

Let’s explore three cases of promotion in the national news today.

For our first case study, we are going to stick with the t-shirt world. So close was this train-wreck to the Victoria’s Secret boo-boo, that I am tempted to think that Old Navy is managed by the same geniuses. The facts:

Old Navy is joining the party with a series of women’s collegiate T’s that have the wrong founding years for three institutions.

T-shirts representing Iowa, Colorado and Arizona show that the founding years for each of those universities is 1820, 1878 and 1881 respectively. However, the real founding years for those schools are 1847, 1876 and 1885.

Old Navy University of Iowa, Colorado and Arizona T-shirts

Very clearly, just like Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy did not fact-check their products. Yes, they generated a lot of buzz from the slip-up, but it was not intentional.

Next stop, an old fashioned insult fight at the UFC:

Arianny Celeste, UFC Ring Girl

Chael Sonnen knows how to start a fight. Though his sharp words are usually aimed at UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva, he turned towards UFC Octagon Girl Arianny Celeste when asked about her in an interview to promote the World MMA Awards.

He was asked who he is supporting for Ring Girl of the Year in the awards ceremony that will take place in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

“We only had one and that was Chandella Powell. The other was the IQ card girl. Arianny Celeste kind of walks around and holds up her latest test score. One time when there was a title fight, she got all the way up to five and we were very proud of her.”

And he later added:

Chael Sonnen, UFC

Seems easy to wear a bikini and seems easy to walk in a circle, but try walking in a circle while wearing a bikini. Talented girl.

I am going to throw the bs flag out over this one. A UFC fighter getting into it with a Ring Girl? No, this is staged promotion. Nothing more than some professional wrestling-esque publicity before the real wrestling-esque fighting. Shonnen does have some shadiness in his recent past, I imagine he is not above bringing it to work.

Our last promotion is the old, dyed-in-the-wool self-promotion of an athlete. Sean Combs’ son, Justin Combs, is a 2-star football player, a cornerback out of New Rochelle, N.Y. And he just committed to UCLA. So he released a press release, of course:

Diddy’s son, Justin Combs sends press release about UCLA

“Today I am truly blessed and thankful to accept my scholarship and give my full commitment to UCLA. Playing Division I football was a lifelong dream of mine, and through hard work I was able to achieve it. I am a living testament that with a strong relationship with God, family, and hard work dreams do come true.”

Hmm, okay. Seems hardworking and earnest, no? But then again, Diddy’s son also said this during the Sweet 16 show on MTV:

“My dad is Diddy, and I’m going to take my throne as the prince of New York.”

And then this on Puffy:

2011 Maybach

At one point, Diddy comes over to his son, who is trying on ridiculously expensive clothes, and stuffs a big wad of cash in his pocket. Combs’ birthday bash is at a New York club called M2, where he’s accompanied by his date, Nicky Minaj, and the affair culminates with Combs receiving a $360,000 Maybach with a personal driver. I didn’t actually know what a Maybach was, but apparently it’s a really, really, really nice car.

Promotion is a fine art. Whether through accident or overt, it can be effective or snort-worthy. Should you see someone with a Mellow Jihadi tattoo, congratulate them on their fine taste. Just don’t tell them about me. . .

Occupy Wall Street’s Anne Hathaway Gets Engaged and Rants at Obscure Blogger in Announcement!

Adam Shulman, Anne Hathaway, the Mellow Jihadi

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening. Let’s get right to our breaking news: Occupy Wall Street‘s Anne Hathaway has gotten engaged!

Not only did the 99%er bag the ring, she actually acknowledged the Mellow Jihadi in her engagement announcement. And the proof below will shock you! She took us to task for our previous work, calling this blog “not good story.”

But before we discuss the tawdry dirty laundry, let’s scarf the details:

The star of “Rachel Getting Married” is about to have a wedding of her own. Anne Hathaway is engaged to her boyfriend of three years, Adam Shulman, an actor and jewelry designer.

The couple sparked rumors of their impending nuptials yesterday when Hathaway sported a very blingy ring on her left ring finger as the two strolled through Prospect Park with their dog. The actress’ her rep confirmed the news to Us Weekly.

Enos, Sonny Shroyer, original Dukes of Hazzard

Adam is an actor and a jewelry designer? Heading over to IMDB right now. Okay, his defining role is that of Deputy Enos Strate in Jessica Simpson’s Dukes of Hazzard movie. The bug-eyed actor Sonny Shroyer originated the character, a slice of thespian masterwork not seen since Don Knotts in the aviation series, Knotts’ Landing.

Hmmmm, upon further review, it was not the Jessica Simpson movie, but the bombastic prequel. That came out to universal hisses in 2007. In Spain, it was titledDos chalados y muchas curvas – El comienzo. (Blogger, who cried and cried wolf, confession: that is the real title. No joke.)

As for other acting jigs, do not discount Mr. Shulman’s star turn as Youth Voter #1 in the West Wing. Any role with a number attached signifies stardom. Marlon Brando himself got his first big break as Anonymous Mumbler #3.

Adam Shulman’s Jewelry

Okay, so clearly Adam is not about to burn up the acting world anytime soon. Let’s peer at his jewelry to the left.

Lightkeeper is its name. It can be found here. I don’t get it. The price: $1100. Wow. Do we have any jewelry experts in the house? Who can explain it to us? It comes with a pair of tweezers. Not twizzlers, tweezers.

On his jewelry website, a guy who calls himself the curator (like a museum curator?) remarks on the Lightkeeper piece:

“Adam Shulman is a Renaissance man with a wealth of fascinating ideas that transcend many creative disciplines. James Banks is a design byproduct of his beautiful imagination.”

Yeah yeah. I know a snorkling expedition when I see one. Obscure reference guide: A snorkling expedition is a snarky phrase, very often thrown around by senior military bosses to junior folk. I myself, received it once. Once:

Him: Ensign NavyOne, I am poaching you to join my department and take over Division 99 as a Division Officer.
Me: Great, sir! I think I will get 99 tattooed on my forearm.
Him: (One raised eyebrow.)
Me: (Weak, waning smile.)
Him: (Eyebrow returning to normal.) Knock off the snorkling expedition, Ensign NavyOne.
Me: Yes sir. No more brown-nosing from me.
Him: (One raised eyebrow.)
Me: (Weak, waning smile.) Well, for today at least.
Him: (Eyebrow returning to normal.)
Me: (Weak, waxing smile.)

Why is Anne Hathaway Mad at the Mellow Jihadi?

So as previously documented, Ms. Hathaway had some rocky moments when she dated a convicted conman for four years. She was known to be risk-adverse to hitchy relationships; the mama and paparazzi even dubbed her Anne There’s-No-Way, when they asked the 99%er if she would ever get married.

But the cherry on the weekend sundae was when Princess Anne took this blog to task in her final statement to Harper’s Bazaar. (Not to be confused with the emo rag, Larper’s Bizarre):

“So far, it’s worked out great,” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “Mellow doesn’t always make for a good story, but it makes for a good life.”

Mellow does not always make for a good story?!? I am pissed. What’s she got against this obscure blog? Oh well, I’ll take the good life thingee. No such animal as bad press, right?

A Crazy Week in the NFL

I don’t have an NFL team. Ever since the teams of my childhood, Eric Dickerson’s Rams and Marcus Allen’s Raiders, both left Los Angeles, I don’t cheer for anyone. I stick with College Football and catch the pro games peripherally.

Still, despite my lack of full engagement, this NFL week seemed a little odd to me. And, as I write this, there are still games going on. No doubt, we will see other craziness. Check this:

1. Is it possible to run 104 yards and not score a touchdown? Yes:

Percy Harvin, Vikings

Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 104 yards, but his well-known speed was not enough to get him in the end zone. To make it worse, the Vikings could not capitalize on that near perfect field position. Christian Ponder was sacked, and then Harvin and Toby Gerhart could not get in the end zone. The Vikings turned the ball over on downs, showing in a single drive just why Minnesota is 2-9.

2. Ndamukong Suh is a dirty player. In his latest infraction, he stomped a player. In a questionnaire (Sporting News polled 111 NFL players from 31 teams) on the dirtiest players in the league, he won. No wonder:

Detroit Lions’ Ndamukong Suh stomps on Green Bay Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith

Ndamukong Suh will receive at least a two-game suspension for stomping on the arm of Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith during the Detroit Lions Lions Thanksgiving day loss, ESPN reported Sunday.

Hey Ndam, I don’t care that Ndamukong means “House of Spears.” You lack sportsmanship. Your sponsors better be aware:

Ndamukong Suh, Dirtiest Player in the NFL

Before Suh was even drafted by an NFL team, he signed an endorsement deal with Nike. Suh has also signed endorsement deals with Subway, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Omaha Steaks, and Chrysler.

Why are they supporting him?

3. I like soccer, but I hate the fake injuries. It has gotten to point where I do not believe any of them. None. If someone gets hurt, tough. Soccer players are the boys who cried wolf, over and over again. I rarely see this in football. But every now and then, a flop pops up. This one from the Bengals:

Jerome Simpson has been a crucial part of Cincinnati’s resurgence this season. Coming into today’s game, he had three 100+ yard games and is one of Andy Dalton’s favorite targets. As shown on this play late in the first half of the Bengals 23-20 win over the Browns, he is also quite a skilled actor.

4. I am truly sorry to report this. I have suffered this particular setback before, so I feel for Nick Novak. The San Diego Charger was minding his own business, when the call of nature tapped him on the shoulder.

5. In some “not odd” news, Tim Tebow pulled out another one. I never wanted to like him, but he is rapidly becoming someone I cheer for, no matter what. I hear whispers of people running him down, such as Jake “the Snake” Plummer. Well, Tim Tebow set a modern day record:

Tim Tebow Pointing to God

With four minutes left in the first half, Tebow completed his first pass. So it only stood to reason that, down by that degree and in a situation where they’d generally had to pass like crazy to get back in the same stratosphere as San Diego’s high-powered offense, Tebow would run the ball at a historic pace, Philip Rivers would have one of the worst games of his up-and-down season, and the Broncos would somehow pull out another victory?

Well, whether it makes sense or not, that’s precisely what happened.

Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos, Miracle Finish

Tebow ran the ball 22 times for 67 yards — according to STATS, LLC, the most rushing attempts by a quarterback since at least 1950, the Chargers’ offense shut down, the Broncos kept kicking field goals after Tebow’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker with less than a minute in the first half, and Matt Prater kicked the winning field goal with just 33 seconds left in overtime.

Read this article on Tim being a modern day folk hero:

The values he embodies are an almost perfect counter to the nation’s sour and defeatist mood. He is relentlessly polite and optimistic, ferociously hardworking, and committed beyond all else to the idea of team over self.

6. Without Peyton Manning, the Colts are winless. The Colts! Is one player worth that much? Yes, apparently so.

Melissa Kellerman, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader

7. Let’s not forget Melissa Kellerman, the Dallas Cowboy cheerleader, who got tackled by Jason Witten. I posted on her earlier and received a steady trickle of google inquiries to my site. Melissa Kellerman Jewish, were the search terms. (There were other ones as well, sportfans. You know who you are.) As for an answer, I do not know.

8.  Chicago Bear Caleb Hanie spiked the ball improperly and got a penalty, along with a ten-second deduction from the play clock. And that ended the game in the dwindling moments of the Bears versus the Raiders.

9. Don’t mock other players. It could come back to haunt you as Stevie Johnson discovered after a TD celebration:

Stevie Johnson, Bills

So far this season we’ve seen a Detroit Lions defender celebrate a sack of Tim Tebow by Tebowing. We’ve seen Maurice Jones-Drew imitate LeBron James’ chalk toss in front of a stunned crowd in Cleveland. But as far as mocking football celebrations go, none was as vicious as Stevie Johnson shooting himself in the leg and then acting like a plane crashing into the ground while playing against Plaxico Burress and the New York Jets.

Johnson was penalized fifteen yards and expects either a fine or a suspension from Roger Goodell.  ”It was very stupid by me,” Johnson told NFL Network’s Albert Breer. “I feel like it cost us the game.”

These were incidents that popped into the news cycle. I was not looking for anything weird. What did I miss?

A Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Loses Twitter

Dallas Cowboy cheerleader Melissa Kellerman

Melissa Kellerman is a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys. And she was cheering on the sideline of the Thanksgiving NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars Miami Dolphins and her Dallas Cowboys.

The Tight End for the Cowboys, Jason Witten, collided into her. Check out the video. And the purty words:

Kellerman, a 22-year-old student in her fourth year with the team, became a national sensation on Thanksgiving when she was accidentally tackled on the sideline by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.

So Melissa tweets about her experience. The Cowboys are a media-savvy team. They have a CMT show (Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team) dedicated to their cheerleader auditions. Surely they are okay with media-ness-mess? Her tweets:

Cowboys cheerleader knocked over by Witten forced off Twitter

I think her tweets are both funny and classy. It took me a second to recall what Melissa was referring to in the second one. A “trust fall” is an exercise, often done in groups by actors, where you “trust” the other person/people to catch you. You fall into a circle and the folks around you “cradle” your fall. It takes trust, hence the name.

So the punchline? Her twitter account is suddenly de-activated. Did the Dallas Cowboys delete it? I don’t think she strayed over the line. But maybe Jerry Jones did. . .

Update: It turns out Melissa turned off her own Twitter.

The Navy, Anthony Weiner, and Mustaches

In the Navy, we have a time-honored tradition known as the cruise ’stache. You are away from home, on deployment, and suddenly your upper-lip begins to scream. For the warm, gentle blanket of your own ‘stache-li-ness.

Magnum PI’s 3M: Marine Ballcap, Mustache, Mauser

You want to let your inner-Magnum out and rock your Walrus. Undoubtably, you are working hard on deployment. And the lip-catapillar is your reward. Who you gonna impress anyway?

So you do it. You grow a masterpiece. Preferably along with your squadron, your unit, your division.

Some folks even designate a month and add competitive flair to the whole affair. Mustache March, or any month that begins with M. Or not. July is perfectly acceptable. As is September. Why not try: September Stache-o-fur?

Take a peek over at Thomas Selleck. He is displaying what we refer to (in the Navy) as 3M. Mustache, Marine ballcap, and Mauser handgun.

He even wins extra points for wearing a sweater with, get this, no t-shirt underneath! Do not try this at home, work, or anywhere! You are most certainly not Magnum. Behold, but do not try to become. . .

You know who also wins extra points? The Marine Corps. Note Thomas is wearing a Marine unit’s ballcap in Navy colors. I don’t blame Marines for embracing the blue and gold. Scratch any Jarhead and there lurks a Sailor underneath.

True story: I was playing basketball with a Marine friend back when we were both E-3s. And he turns to me and says: I tell you man, I really should have been a squid.

International word of warning for us Yankees, do not try to compete with our mustachioed brethren from across the sea, the Brits. Them boys can grow a ‘stache overnight! Little known fact: 1% of all male United Kingdom’ers can merely think of a ‘stache and one magically sprouts, real-time. Curled like ram-horns. ‘Tis a sight to witness.

So profuse are their skills that their stiff, upper-lip hair twirls both ways and can even cook a three-course meal of haggis, grey peas, and fried fish wrapped in tomorrow’s newspaper. To say nothing of pouring a chilled pint of pale ale, so light it’s not perceptible to the human eye. Invisibly refreshing, it is. 

Yes ‘Muricans, we wield the power of the Magnum. But he may be an outlier. England has glandular superiority with respect to lip-thatching. How do you think they nabbed the name England, anyhow?

Okay, so we have covered two angles of our title, the Navy and ‘staches. What does the third leg, Anthony Weiner, have to do with anything? Anthony Wee-na, is that not the name of that disgraced politician from New Yawk? Who resigned after a ‘wittle blue-ha-ha?

Anthony Weiner, Mets hat, mustache

Yup and yup. Señor Weiner is back in the news. With big-time exposure. Well, different-time exposure. Hmm, I better just avoid that word. Exposure.

So what has Tony el Tigre done? He has gone and grown himself a man-stache! Taste the rainbow. . .

Carefully examine the ‘stache-a-rooski for signs as to his state of shave-a-ment. Observe the ever-so-slight downturn of the lip-music. A handle-bar in the making, no?

Subconsciously, Monsieur Weiner is saying: yes, I am a weensy bad-boy. But not too bad. But definitely a boy. A man-in-training. Notice, he can’t pull off 3M like Magnum. Here, he has to settle for a flaccid 2M, mustache and Mets hat.

Heed the clenched jaw, ala Maverick and Iceman, Navy locker-room, Top Gun, 1986. You’re dangerous, Mav! A little about the Wee-Na’s jaunt around town, with wife Huma Abedin, sporting his new lip-fur:

Disgraced former pol Anthony Weiner stepped out to do some Black Friday shopping in SoHo sporting a moustache reminiscent of the one made infamous by-

Whoah Nelly! Go to the New York Post link above for all the low-down, high-brow details. The Wee-Na really should have hidden in-cog-neato for a couple more years. Myself, I would have moved to the Falkland Islands, far out of texting range.

 Estelle Costanza (George’s mom from Seinfeld) sez: Enough with the Weiner! 

Mike Spann, CIA and USMC Veteran, RIP

Mike Spann, the first American to die in Afghanistan, was a true American hero. If you are not familiar with his story:

Mike Spann, Marine and CIA Hero

Spann was part of a small group of CIA paramilitary officers who went into Afghanistan just 16 days after the al-Qaida attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Less than two months later, the CIA along with U.S. Special Forces Green Berets and a massive aerial bombing campaign helped Afghan militias drive out the ruling Taliban.

Spann was killed when hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners, guarded by just a handful of Afghans, tried to escape from a fortress jail in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.

The CIA Officers Memorial Foundation supports children of heroes like Mike.

CIA Memorial, General Michael Hayden and a Police Officer

From the Memorial’s history:

In late November 2001, immediately after the CIA acknowledged that one of its officers, Mike Spann, was the first American to die in Afghanistan, there was intense public interest in wanting to know about this American hero. Mike’s personal story and the fact that he was survived by his wife and three small children, resulted in a spontaneous outpouring of support from generous citizens from across the country. In addition to heartfelt expressions of sympathy, donations – large and small – began arriving at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The Agency, however, is prohibited from accepting such contributions from the public. CIA Director George J. Tenet contacted Mr. Jeffrey H. Smith, a senior partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arnold & Porter and former CIA General Counsel, to discuss the challenge of providing support for the families of the Agency’s fallen.

If you are looking for a worthwhile charity this season, please consider this one. . .

The Word Was Heard

The word was heard and it was good:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Operation Hero: The Army Finds an Iraqi Dog and Brings Her to the United States

Malinois

Dogs and the military go together like bacon and eggs.

On a deployment, I once approached a leashed Malinois, the Belgian cousin to a German Shepherd. They are military working dogs (MWDs) and probably should not be bothered. But I chatted up the handler anyway, who let me pet the dog. It was a little slice of home in a place most assuredly not.

And at NAVCENT, I used to pause at the Military Working Dog (MWD) kennel, to see if any of the pooches were out and about.

So when I saw this picture:

Hero, Justin Rollins’ dog

And then read the story, a blog entry by an ABC News 20/20 reporter, I was hooked. The media team had traveled to Newport, New Hampshire to speak to Army Specialist Justin Rollins’ family. Justin was an 82nd Airborne Soldier, stationed in Samara, Iraq. And he had tragically passed away from an IED explosion.

The family had a picture of their son holding Hero up from when the dog had been a puppy. And he had sent it to his fiancee, Brittney Murray, the day before he had died.

Army Specialist Justin Rollins and Hero the Dog

The family asked the Army brass at Justin’s funeral if they could find the dog from the above picture. Push comes to shove and the Army runs Operation Hero. Of course, they locate the lucky canine and deliver her to the Rollins.

The ABC reporter, Kimberly Launier, had the following to say about the picture of Hero standing in the ray of light:

I was filming soldier Justin Rollin’s parents Skip and Rhonda playing with their dog Hero, whose rescue from the Iraq War zone where Justin died was nothing short of a miracle.

Sometimes when Rhonda hugged Hero she would softly pet her face and coo, “Justin, are you in there?”  It was Rhonda’s gentle way of remembering their son and his last living connection to Hero. At one point, Hero wandered off and took a stroll in the backyard. All of a sudden, the clouds broke and a light began to solidify in a beam directly down on Hero — a kind of vertical halo.

What a great picture, moving story. After the dog returned to the States, Hero traveled to New Hampshire Congressman Paul Hodes’s office. And guess what Hero did?

The puppy soon hit the tarmac, and began earning impressive frequent flier miles traveling from Iraq, Bahrain, Brussels and New York before finally landing in New Hampshire to a full-blown media circus fit for a rock star. At Congressman Paul Hodes’s office, little Hero claimed the territory her own.

She christened the carpet,” remembered Rhonda.

Reporters crowd Hero

I am a sucker for dog stories. Cat tales? Sure, why not. Here’s one, nothing more than an after-dinner mint really.

Matilda III is the house cat at the Algonquin Hotel. If the hotel’s name sounds familiar, it should. It was home to Dorothy Parker and the Round Table. As for Matilda:

The city’s favorite feline, a blue-eyed ragdoll, took up residence last winter. She’s the 10th Algonquin cat since Rusty, aka Hamlet I, moved into the hotel, legendary home of the “Round Table” literary salon, in 1932.

The pampered pussies are as much a part of The Algonquin’s cozy confines as the oak paneling and upholstered chairs and sofas. Hotel staff have delighted in pointing out Matilda’s hiding places to guests.

Matilda III at the Algonquin Hotel

New York City’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene has struck again. The cat now must be caged or leashed.

So the city can’t sweep some hippies, the Occupy Wall Streeters, out of a park. And the mayor enforces restrictions on trans-fats and salt. Now he seems intent on adding a puddycat to that list.

Folks, From

Ken Jennings, from Jeopardy

Abraham Lincoln, from Washington

Kelly Kapoor, from the Office 

F-111, from the Boneyard

7-year old boy, from the Girl Scouts

Gabby Giffords, from an Air Force Base

USMC Navajo Code Talkers, from WWII

WKRP, from Cincinnati

Jennifer Lopez, not from the Bronx

Syrians, from war

Lone Ranger, from the desert

Middle fingers, from Russia

Bacon Apple Pie, from heaven

Wire Fox Terrier, from the Winner’s Circle

Ben Stiller, from Afroland

Ben Stiller, from Afroland

 

Where Do We Fight Next?

Warriors, you gotta love them. The current Commandant of the Marine Corps (and naval aviator, per Wikipedia) was in Afghanistan today. The scoop:

General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Naval Aviator

The U.S. Marines’ top general, James Amos, sprinted up and down the Helmand River Valley in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, visiting frontline Marines at nine remote outposts to share Thanksgiving and applaud their gains against the Taliban in a region where al-Qaida hatched the 9/11 plot a decade ago.

Traveling mostly in an MV-22 Osprey, the hybrid that flies like an airplane and takes off and lands like a helicopter, Amos began shortly after daylight and finished 14 hours later — and, improbably, managed to confront just one turkey dinner.

I love it. Leadership, it is not only a word. My favorite part: 

At Combat Outpost Hanson, one member of the 3rd battalion, 6th Marine Regiment asked, “Who do you want us to fight next, sir?” Amos said he did not know, but he reassured the Marine that there would be no shortage of security crises in the years ahead.

At Combat Outpost Alcatraz, in Sangin district where fierce fights against the Taliban have waned only recently, the top overall commander of the war, Marine Gen. John Allen, joined Amos for a pep talk to several dozen Marines.

A special Happy Thanksgiving to all our Service Members deployed around the world. Get some and then get some turkey. . .

The Thanksgiving Watch

The Thanksgiving Watcher Council selection, we got ‘em:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Why is Yahoo Featuring an Anti-American Chinese Artist?

Twice this week, Yahoo featured the artist Liu Bolin, a native Chinese painter from Shandong. Mr. Bolin has a unique, gimmicky style; he paints his subjects to blend into the background. Apparently, he has been practicing it for 6 years.

Is it talent? Perhaps. He reminds me of Alexa Meade. Below is his masterpiece that Yahoo is featuring in its Best Images of the Week:

Liu Bolin, Chinese Artist, Vegetable in Beijing 

First reaction? Ah, this guy. I have seen his work before. Is he the next Michelangelo, the artist, not the Middle-aged Mutant Ninja Tortoise? No, I don’t think so. He relies on a gimmick, one that gets old after a short while. You know who he reminds me of? The Chinese version of Waldo.

My interest in art was somewhat thrust upon me. I come from a family of well-traveled art snobs. I am not one. I don’t like modern art in the slightest. Most of it appears fraudulent to me. Case in point: Norman Rockwell is one my favorite artists.

It was painful growing up. This may sound spoiled, but I just wanted to hang around my neighborhood and there we were, visiting museums for the day. Let’s return, shall we, to the topic at hand, our little buddy, Liu Bolin. In searching for more of his masterpieces, this pops up:

Liu Bolin, Chinese Artist, Standing on the American Flag

Wow. He is standing on the flag. And he has hung it backwards. Did you know that? When you hang the flag on the wall, the stars are supposed to be in the top left corner when you are facing it.

I am not even going to provide the link to Liu. Go to this google page (and scroll down) to see the above disasterpiece. He probably does not know that it is wrong to hang the flag as he did. But standing on it? Surely he understands this is a big no-no? (嘿,刘,这是一个很大的没有没有!)

But Yahoo did not stop there. The geniuses up in that joint again propped up Bolin’s work today with mention in its Mighty Optical Illusions section:

Perhaps I am touchy about the American flag. Great men have died under it, for it. And I do not like seeing someone stand upon her.

Is Liu Bolin anti-American? Or just clueless. Overreaction on my part or no?

Army Soldier Wins Dancing with the Stars!

J.R. Martinez, an Iraqi War veteran and Army Soldier, won Dancing with the Stars. His heroic story:

J.R. Martinez, Dancing with the Stars

J.R. joined the military at 19 and while deployed in Iraq in 2003 as United States Army infantryman, he ran over a land mine while driving a truck.

He suffered burns to 40 percent of his body, lost most of the hair on his head and one of his ears.

“J.R. is a real-life hero. He’s such an inspiration and his outlook on life is so positive,” partner Karina Smirnoff said of J.R. on Monday’s show.

Following his harrowing accident in Iraq, he underwent 33 surgeries, including numerous painful skin grafts and tissue expansion to repair the damage to his body.

J.R. Matinez and Karina Smirnoff

The 28-year-old, who originally hails from Shreveport, Louisiana, went on to become a motivational speaker and an actor on ABC’s “All My Children” – and through it all, never lost his sense of humor.

“I only have one ear, so I only catch one half of the sentence,” he said, joking with partner Karina.

Great job, brother! The barracks buzz is that Karina Smirnoff, daughter of Yakov and heir to the mighty Smirnoff fortune*, gave you a magnum of her family’s finest.

Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Not Classy

Soccer goalie Hope Solo was not classy in her exit.

While Ricki Lake showed grace when she and her partner Derek Hough got the boot:

“I’ve loved basically every minute of this…. I’ve done something that I really didn’t think I could do and for someone who is a middle-aged mom, I hope I made my children proud, my fiance and my family,” Ricki, who lost more than 20 pounds while competing on the show, told show co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet.

* These are, of course, nonsense.