Gus am bris an là, James

Greetings, friends.

If you are the praying sort, please offer up a prayer for the soul of my friend, James A. His story is a great one and worthy of praise. James, Jim as I knew him, was born after World War II in a small down in rural Alabama. His family was poor. They farmed a small plot, raised hogs and chickens, and did odd jobs. Looking for more opportunity than was afforded poor black boys in Jim Crow Alabama, Jim joined the Marines. He served honorably in Vietnam. In 1969 he met a girl in Boston. She was a single mom. She was also white. He married that girl and later adopted her son as his own. He and his wife had two lovely daughters together. After 20 years he retired from the Marines and worked a number of jobs, sometimes 2 at a time. He joined the VFW and advocated for Veteran’s rights. He became a member of the national board of the VFW for a time, but was better known for going through the halls of Bethesda Naval Hospital (now Walter Reed Medical Center) with all the zeal of a Marine Gunnery Sergeant (which he was) making sure the servicemen and women being treated there were being treated right and getting all the benefits they had earned by their service.

He was a good father to his three children. He taught them the values of fidelity, honor, faith, industry, and love. He was a devoted husband to his wife for more than 50 years. He was a patriot and proud American. He was a faithful and devoted member of his church. He was insatiably curious and always read to expand his knowledge. His baritone voice rang out in laughter and joy often. He was a great cook. He loved music. He was a fantastic dancer. And at almost every family gathering for the past 18 years he would ask us to all pause and look around. He would then tell us as we were looking around to, “See what love has created for us all.”

I am proud to have been a part of Jim’s extended family. I was unworthy, but highly honored, to help bear him in and out of church today and celebrate Mass for his soul. My life has been so easy compared to his. I have been enriched by knowing him.

Jim, I offer you words in the language of my ancestors, Gus am bris an là, agus an teich na sgàilean. Which means, “Until the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.”

General March 18th Update

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t have much to write this morning. But he’s not going to let that stop him! (Today at least.)

Thanks to our good friend Robbo for the kind linkage to yesterday’s post. Your Maximum Leader wondered (for about 5 seconds) if he should post the gif of bouncing bewbs. Would it offend readers (such as he might have)? But your Maximum Leader is a somewhat unreformed sort and figured that regular straight men (or the sort among whom your Maximum Leader counts himself) would enjoy it. And that gif has it all: bouncy bewbs, green (for the Catholics), orange (for Protestants), and a shopping bag (for the Capitalists). Glad it was enjoyed.

Anyhoo…

So when President Biden said that Vladimir Putin “had no soul” and was a killer did he mean no soul and killin’ it in a groovy rhythm and blues type of way. You know, settling in to a melodic groove and laying down some cool action with the ladies? Or was it no immortal soul created by God and a terrible murderer of his political enemies? Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure. He thinks that Biden meant the latter, but the former isn’t quite out of the question.

By the way…

Any one out there watching (or have you watched more accurately) the America’s Cup? Can your Maximum Leader be any more stereotypically middle-aged white guy than by fessing up to watching yacht racing on television? Anyway, your Maximum Leader has been watching the America’s Cup (and the Prada Cup before the America’s Cup) and needs to go and congratulate the New Zealand team for successfully defending the Auld Mug. Now, let your Maximum Leader say that he prefers the good ole days when the boats racing for the Cup were graceful 12 meter sailboats built for speed. If you haven’t watched one of these races from this year, just check one out for a little bit. The monohull boats with foils are absolutely incredible. Give them a little wind and the rise up out of the water and fly like nothing you have seen on the water anywhere else. Your Maximum Leader has seen the yachts hit speeds of 50 knots. (That is over 57 mph or over 92 kph for you who are metrically inclined.) He’s even seen them exceed 50 knots. It is crazy. You can go and see some of what your Maximum Leader is talking about on the main America’s Cup website. Or, for those of you disinclined to click through:

Again… It is incredible to watch these boats race.

Speaking of sports…

Your Maximum Leader has been watching his beloved Washington Capitals a lot on the teevee. It is good to have sports on again. Soon it will be that great time of year where he can watch both of the sports he enjoys. Namely hockey and baseball. Baseball season starts in a few days, and your Maximum Leader hopes that the Washington Nationals will be able to have fans (hopefully more than 5,000) in the stands to see the boys of summer raise the World Series banner (again - sort of - thanks COVID). Your Maximum Leader was considering buying tickets to the new Fredericksburg Nationals. But that is looking less likely now as Mrs. Villain’s primary ride (a 2004 Chevy Suburban) appears to have given up the ghost. So auto purchase is likely soon in the cards. (No fun.)

Carry on.

Erin Go Braless

Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader has no idea if this young lady is Irish. But he’s going to go with, “Yes, she is.”

Bouncy

Title of this post shameless lifted from Puter over at Gormogons.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Carry on.

Pâté du Sud

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader must have cheese on the mind. He must have had cheese on the mind since last month when he was enticed by (but did not purchase) the “Generous Lover” package from his favorite cheesemonger. But he did buy some cheese that got him thinking. Thinking enough to write…

So one night last weekend your Maximum Leader didn’t feel like cooking. Indeed, none of the members of his household felt like cooking. We probably could have just scrounged up food that we had in various states (frozen, leftover, pre-packaged - though to be honest we don’t keep a lot of pre-packaged food around) and fed ourselves individually with whatever we found. But your Maximum Leader wanted to “have a meal” together. (NB: Meals together might sound odd to some, but dinner together around the table is still a thing in the Villainschloss.) An executive decision was taken and it was determined that since Mrs. Villain and Villainette #2 were going to be going to the store to pick up some shelving materials they would stop on the way home at the Bojangles that was nearby and get a big ole package of fried chicken and sides to bring home. Your Maximum Leader specifically asked that they pick up an extra side of pimento cheese. Which they did. So the feast was brought to the Villainschloss and consumed by all.

Well… Mostly consumed by all. The chicken was eaten. The green beans were eaten. The cole slaw was eaten. The mac & cheese was eaten. The biscuits were eaten. But the pimento cheese was “sampled sparingly” by everyone who was not your Maximum Leader and then left. This surprised him. You see, the whole family is generally quite inclined to eat pimento cheese. We all love pimento cheese. Or so your Maximum Leader thought. When your Maximum Leader inquired why no one was eating the pimento cheese, he was informed by the rest of his family that they didn’t like it. Specifically, it was “too creamy.”

Now, once again, normally pimento cheese is a big hit with the family. But he got to thinking. Was this pimento cheese substantively different in flavor from others or was it just texture. After some light interrogation, it turns out that it was textural and not flavor. So your Maximum Leader thought some more about it. It has been a long time (probably well over a year in fact) since we have purchased pimento cheese. When we want it we make our own. It isn’t hard. One suspects that if you’ve lived south of the Mason-Dixon line for any length of time, you’ve probably been called upon to make pimento cheese at some point. Everyone’s is a little different, but they follow the same basic formula of cheddar cheese, finely diced pimentos, a dash of hot sauce or other spice, and mayonnaise. Your Maximum Leader likes to use cheddar, pepper jack cheese, lots of pimentos, very finely diced scallions (or shallots), a few dashes of hot sauce, and mayonnaise in his. So when it comes to the mayo, that is where there is some variation. Some people do like their pimento cheese creamier and add more mayo. Some, like your Maximum Leader, use just enough to hold everything together. And this is what the problem was for his family with the Bojangles pimento cheese. While it tasted just fine, it was much more like the consistency of a soft spread, than a soft cheese.

The final realization in this useless mental exercise was this… Pimento cheese was probably one of those dishes where we make it “the way we like it” so much that any significant deviation from the “norm” becomes unacceptable. There are other dishes like this in our culinary repertoire. Crab cakes for example. The family likes the crab cakes your Maximum Leader makes so much that they don’t order them when they are available at a restaurant. (Though there are a few places - very few, two come to mind - that are superior to his, they are not local and infrequently visited.) Broadly speaking, steaks also fall into this category. We don’t go out to steak houses all that often because we find that we prefer our steaks more. Mostly this is because our dear friend, who used to contribute here under the name “Smallholder”, raises a steer and a hog for us every year. His meat tastes different than what you buy at a typical grocery store. We have grown to prefer it. That and when we want some special cut we don’t normally have in our freezer, we go to our local butcher and he hooks us up. (NB: This is normally done for birthday dinners where nothing but a massive Tomahawk Cut Rib-eye will do. And we mean massive. Often weighing in around 2.5 to 3 pounds.)

Anyhoo… Your Maximum Leader has now noted that pimento cheese is now likely on that list of foods we just prefer our way rather than someone else’s.

Also, the title of this post is stolen from somewhere. Your Maximum Leader can’t recall exactly where. He thinks it might have been a Garden & Gun article from some years ago. Or from an old and now deceased friend… Pimento cheese at the Villainschloss is often called pâté du sud, or “Pate of the South.” It seems appropriate all in all.

Carry on.

General First of March Update

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been drafting a piece he has promised his friend Bill. It is basically a post-mortem of the Trump Administration. Your Maximum Leader was never a fan of Mr. Trump as a human being, or as a President. He accomplished some things of which your Maximum Leader approves, and others he did not. Anyway… That piece is coming. (As is Easter… And Christmas…)

In terms of a general update… Your Maximum Leader spent some time “in the box” on Saturday as our friend and fellow swimmer in the Tiber, Robbo says. Your Maximum Leader hadn’t been to Confession in about a year. At first it was the Covid that kept him away. The ‘Ronas, as the kids say, kept his Parish effectively closed from March to June. Starting in June, the Parish started having reconciliation again and by that time your Maximum Leader was lazy and apathetic. Indeed, those were the words he used in his Confession to describe why it had been a year since his last Reconciliation. So the time as a penitent went well. And was followed by 7am Mass on Sunday Morning. Something about which your Maximum Leader has also been rather lackadaisical. He’s gone to Mass a few times in person since the Parish reopened. (Few being 3-4 times during Advent). He’s also been irregular at watching live-streams of Mass on Sunday and Holy Days. Watching a live-stream seems to be what Bishops around the US are advising. It also seems like most Bishops still have retained the release from the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays across the US and Canada. The Diocese of Arlington generally, and your Maximum Leader’s parish specifically, seem to be carefully adhering to the Governor’s guidelines/requirements for houses of worship during these viral times. The Church is filled to less than 50% capacity. The Church is cleaned between each Mass. They are doing everything possible to act according to the government’s rules. At some level your Maximum Leader wants his Diocese to start pushing the envelope and doing more to return to regular worship. But he doubts they have it in them to do. So, regardless of what his Bishop is willing to do, your Maximum Leader has determined to use this Lenten season to refocus his mind towards things spiritual and make sure he gets back into his regular routine on Sundays and Holy Days. It is important for his spiritual and mental health. Indeed, it is not only his mental and spiritual health that has suffered since last year, but the health of so many.

Speaking of Lenten season, your Maximum Leader gave up the booze for Lent. That is proving to be more of a mental challenge than he planned for. It has been especially hard while watching hockey games and while cooking dinner on Saturday and Sundays. Those are times he most likes to have a tipple. That said, so far so good on that penance.

While your Maximum Leader has been thinking of things spiritual, and political, he’s started to wonder about his voting habits. Specifically, he’s started to think more about his (and many people’s) tendency to vote for the “least worst” candidate available. Indeed, your Maximum Leader has more or less followed William F. Buckley, Jr.’s guidance to vote for the “most conservative candidate available.” But in recent years, what passes in your Maximum Leader’s mind for “conservative” has been harder and harder to find. Additionally, the quality of people running for elected office seems to be on the decline. (Across both parties.) People seeking office seem to just be hacks for their side. The prevalent platform for both major parties seems to be summarized as “keep the other side from getting what they want and do what damage we can to the Republic along the way.” This has caused your Maximum Leader to give serious consideration to not voting for any candidate for whom he cannot say with a clear conscience, “This person is qualified for the office they seek and will not actively do damage to the Republic at any level.” When he thinks of it like that, it is unlikely that he would vote for anyone on the ballot at the Federal level. State and local voting would be tricky, but possible. Your Maximum Leader hasn’t fully thought this through, and will probably not commit to it by the time November comes around. (This November are State and Local elections in the not-as-great-as-its-been Commonwealth of Virginia.) But it is something about which he’s thought seriously.

And lastly, your Maximum Leader is denying himself more than alcohol… Your Maximum Leader is a fan of Sherlock Holmes. He owns all the original Holmes stories both in real books and on his Kindle device. Well, as those of you who buy anything from Amazon know, you get messages. Yes, you get messages from Amazon asking you how you liked something you bought and noting that if you “like item “A” you may also like product “B” which is available at this link right here!” Normally, your Maximum Leader ignores or gives a quick glance to these messages exhorting him to part with more money. But he got one that said something to the effect of “if you like that set of the complete Holmes stories that you already own, you’ll probably love this 3 Volume set of the new and improved Complete Annotated Sherlock Holmes.” Well, your Maximum Leader shouldn’t have clicked on the link, but he did. And then he did the next worst thing, he downloaded the Volume 1 sample. Then he continued down the treacherous path and started reading the sample. Worst of all, he’s discovered that he really really really likes this annotated version of the Holmes stories. He loves touching the little footnote links and having the link pop open right in front of him. The annotations are fun, informative, and easy. Needless to say, your Maximum Leader really wants to invest and buy these 3 volumes of works. But he has not done so because he can’t get his head around spending $90 on works that he already owns! This is tough. These books are new and shiny and ANNOTATED FOR GOODNESS SAKE. But they are expensive and he already owns most of the content he’d be buying. Indeed he owns the content TWICE OVER already. Anyway, denial is a tough thing…

That is it.

Carry on.

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