http://startupsdir.com - http://orktorrrents.com - http://torfilez.net - http://theobamaforum.com - http://proemailflyer.com - http://ferbourtoi.org - http://torrenteuropa.net http://torrentfilez.org
Happy Thanksgiving & a Family Tale

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all (or at least you Americans) a happy Thanksgiving. His turkey is in the oven and various side dishes have been prepped and are awaiting their cook time. He is taking a little break and trying to relax a little before doing more cooking…

For some reason this little family story popped into his mind today and he decided to share it…

Many years ago, your Maximum Leader was sitting in his maternal grandmother’s kitchen discussing what he and his maternal grandmother would be cooking for a family gathering. In the course of discussing the menu, your Maximum Leader’s maternal grandfather said that this would be a good time to pull out “that cookbook I got you” and use it to plan a menu. Your Maximum Leader asked what cookbook while glancing over at his maternal grandmother. Grandma suddenly had a sour look on her face. Your Maximum Leader again about the cookbook. At that point his grandfather got up and went to another room; returning shortly with a beautiful book.

Your Maximum Leader is serious. It was a gorgeous book. It was bound in thick green leather and debossed with gold leaf (real gold leaf in fact). On the front and spine the lovely script said the book was the “Cordon Bleu Menu Cookbook.” As your Maximum Leader opened the book the spine made a noise. It had obviously not been opened in years. The book was published by the Cordon Bleu school in Paris in the early 1950s. (Your Maximum Leader was looking at it in the late 1980s.) The pages were heavy bond and had wonderful hand. The book was divided by season and holidays. Each chapter provided a number of complete formal menus for breakfast, lunch, brunch, tea, and dinner by season or holiday. The menus were described in detail with recipes, order of service, description of what to use to decorate the table, what wines to serve with the food. All of this was in French and in English. The photo pages were spectacular.

So… Your Maximum Leader leafed through the book and commented that it was a lovely book and asked how long it had been hanging around without him ever seeing it. At that point Grandpa started to tell the tale of the book. Grandpa worked for the Department of the Army from the 1939 to 1969. During the 1950s he was often assigned to various NATO related tasks and would often travel to Europe (with a cool diplomatic passport that your Maximum Leader still has). So, the tale progressed. Grandpa was on NATO business in Belgium and France and happened to be in Paris. It occurred to Grandpa that he ought to try and bring Grandma a different type of gift than his usual. He was in the habit of buying some fancy perfume or article of clothing for Grandma while he was abroad. This time it was going to be different.

Your Maximum Leader’s maternal grandmother was a great cook. She was taught by her mother and grandmother. She could bake (and was a great baker). She could cook. In a kitchen she was an expert. In your Maximum Leader’s life, he couldn’t remember seeing her study a recipe to make a dish. She did have a copy of The Joy of Cooking but it seemed to be for quick reference or to jog her memory when she was cooking something.

Grandpa continued that one night on this business trip to Paris he was being wined and dined by some French official. The dinner was prepared by students and professors at the famed Cordon Bleu school. Of course, back in the 1950s there was only one Cordon Bleu in Paris - now they have them everywhere… Anyhow, at some point during the dinner, or just after, Grandpa commented on the quality and breadth of the dinner and how it lived up to every preconception of fine French dining. His host noted that the students and professors had put together a book with recipes and other instructions for how to put on a similar type of meal. Grandpa asked where he could get a copy and was told that they would deliver one to him the next day.

And so Grandpa acquired the large green-leather bound debossed in gold leaf cookbook.

Needless to say, Grandpa was pretty excited that he’d found such a thoughtful and unique gift for his wife. He had it wrapped up for presentation when he arrived home…

Well… The gift didn’t go over as planned. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure of the exact circumstances under which the gift was exchanged from Grandpa to Grandma; but it didn’t go well. Apparently Grandma took the cookbook as a subtle jab that she wasn’t well versed in preparing fancy meals. To your Maximum Leader’s knowledge, Grandma never looked at that cookbook after that first instance. It sat on a hidden bookshelf in your Maximum Leader’s grandparents house for 30 years before Grandpa retrieved it that day.

After perusing the book, your Maximum Leader said that the book was really cook and would be a handy reference when planning a formal dinner party. Right after saying that, Grandma said sternly, “If you like the book you can have it. I never use it.”

So the book passed from Grandma to your Maximum Leader…

Unlike his grandmother, your Maximum Leader used the book a few times. He prepared multi-course meals for friends, girlfriends, girlfriend’s parents and others. (NB - Your Maximum Leader cooked a huge meal - six or seven courses - for a girl he dated for a while and her father and step-mother. It must have been sort of impressive because years later when he happened to encounter his now-former-girlfriend’s father at the mall the father reminisced that he could still remember the meal and that your Maximum Leader was the only boyfriend of his daughter of whom he had approved. In fact he encouraged his daughter to consider me a fine marriage material.) That cookbook came in handy on more than one occasion.

So, on this huge feast day in America is your Maximum Leader using this great tome to help him make a great Thanksgiving dinner? Well, no… Sadly, the book is no longer with your Maximum Leader…

You see, a number of years back, your Maximum Leader was dog-sitting for his sainted Father-in-law and beloved Mother-in-law while they were on a trip to Canada. One of the dogs (there were two - they were beautiful purebred Chesapeake Retrievers) had never been to the Villainschloss before and was a little nervous. After overcoming his nerves, he decided to start marking the Villainschloss ash his… He decided to pee all over one of your Maximum Leader’s bookcases… Sadly, the primary landing point for the pee was the Cordon Bleu cookbook. This happened while your Maximum Leader was out at work, and Mrs Villain did her best to rescue the book. But it was not to be. Mrs Villain threw the book (and a few other favorites that met a similar fate that day) away….

And thus the book’s karma was fulfilled…

Today, while planning the Thanksgiving menu, your Maximum Leader did wish that he still had the book… For reference purposes…

Happy Thanksgiving….

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader.

A Mess. A gooey, sticky, runny delicious mess.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is embroiled in a debate. A hot debate. A gooey debate. A melty-cheesey debate.

You see, yesterday, your Maximum Leader’s buddy Kevin posted a photo of what he purported was a “grilled cheese” sandwich. You can see the image by clicking on this linky. You will not that the first image shows bread, cheese and meat after a light grilling. Your Maximum Leader tweeted in a Darth Vader-eqsue way “Nooooooooooooooooo!” In your Maximum Leader’s opinion, this image shows a grilled sandwich to be sure, but the addition of meat precluded it from being a true “grilled cheese” sandwich.

Thus the debate was joined.

Kevin posted a fine reply to the various tweets your Maximum Leader had been broadcasting on the subject. That post is here: The Great Grilled-cheese Debate.

The sides break down thusly: Kevin believes that we should be flexible in our definition of what constitutes a “grilled cheese” sandwich. The inclusion of meat does not preclude the sandwich from still being a “grilled cheese” sandwich. Your Maximum Leader believes the “bemeated” sandwich ceases to be a “grilled cheese” sandwich and starts to be some other sort of sandwich. Your Maximum Leader would posit that the sandwich that started the debate could be a “grilled ciabatta” sandwich.

You should take a moment and read the comments to this post. Indeed, you should weigh in on the subject yourself. Comment here or over there. (It matters not to your Maximum Leader - although it might make it easier to manage if you commented there.)

Let us continue the suffering on both sides caused by this debate! Should we find a middle way and except a broad definition of “grilled cheese?” Should we stand up and support the Platonic ideal of “grilled cheese-ness” that precludes “bemeating” a grilled cheese?

Make your opinions known! Shout out from the rooftops (or at least in the comments) what is a grilled cheese sandwich.

The world will be a better place if we can put this argument to rest once and for all.

Remember - you can’t “bemeat” a grilled cheese!

Carry on.

What did we do for Bastille Day?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has found himself a little time to waste and he’s decided to blog. For the past year or so when he’s had free time to waste he’s indulged in reading/watching TV/sleeping; but now he’s going to blog some.

You probably aren’t asking yourself, “Self? I wonder what my Maximum Leader was doing on Bastille Day this year.” Well, you probably should be asking yourself that if you plan on reading further.

(NB: This is one of the many blog posts your Maximum Leader composes in his head fully intending to write it out and post it. What makes this one different is that he is actually writing it out.)

Around July 8th your Maximum Leader realized that something was up in his fair town. At first he wasn’t able to put his finger on it; but then he realized what was up. His town was festooned with French flags. Yes, tricolors were everywhere. Really. They were. Here is photographic proof:
Fredericksburg, France

If you didn’t know, and really there is no reason for you to know, Fredericksburg, VA (your Maximum Leader’s home town) has a sister city. That sister city is Frejus, France. Your Maximum Leader found that Frejus has a web site. You can clicky on this linky to go to the French language Frejus site. So in the spirit of fraternite we here in Virginia celebrate Bastille Day with our French brethren.

(NB to history nerds: Your Maximum Leader sees that Frejus was founded by none other than Julius Ceasar himself (Forum Julii) and was an important Roman era naval base.)

Of course, when you think of France (in a friendly way and not in the cheese-eating-surrender-monkey way) you think gastronomy and good living. So your Maximum Leader started to think to himself, “What could I do to celebrate Bastille Day?” Well… He thought of a variety of fancy haute-cuisine dishes he could try and make for dinner. But then realizing that he was having this conversation with himself at noon on Bastille Day itself he realized that a highfalutin’ dinner was likely out of the question. Then your Maximum Leader realized that provincial French cooking is delicious, hearty and able to be prepared in an afternoon. But what to make? Your Maximum Leader started pulling out his cookbooks to think of something and then he came up with Poulet en Cocotte.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader decided to look up what a cocotte was as he is many years removed from his study of french and he’s not remembered what he should. He assumed the cocotte was a piece of crockery that could be used on a fire and in an oven. And in that he is correct. He has now also learned that cocotte is also antiquated slang for a prostitute. He imagines the English word “coquette” is likely related to this origin. Now having learned that a cocotte could also be a prostitute it seems funny to have eaten a dish that could be loosely translated as “Chicken in a Prostitute.” Indeed, Chicken in a Prostitute doesn’t sound appetizing at all.)

Now there are lots of variations of this traditional dish. So there isn’t one particular recipe that your Maximum Leader decided to use. He decided to go with the general technique and enjoy what he got. He also decided to take some photos of his progress with his phone so that he could food blog!

Anyhoo… Here we go.

Your Maximum Leader had pulled out some chicken thighs from the freezer, so that became the poulet for the dish. He also had plenty of his home-cured bacon slabs around. In fact your Maximum Leader had a few slabs of bacon that he had “over cured” (made very very salty in other words) that he’d been using as lardons in many different items he’d been cooking. So he had the protein taken care of. Then he got out a mess of onions, carrots, celery, peppers, and potatoes.

Now generally, Poulet en Cocotte is made with tomatoes as well, but after a quick poll of the Villainettes, the wee Villain and Mrs Villain your Maximum Leader determined he nix the tomatoes in the dish.

So first he prepared his mise en place with the help of Villainette #1. We cleaned, peeled and diced all our veggies and set them aside. Then your Maximum Leader cut his lardons out of the slab bacon and was ready to begin.

First he put the bacon in the pot over medium heat to render the fat.
poulet 1

After a little bit the bacon was cooked and there was fat and delicious cooked bits all in the pot.
poulet 2

Your Maximum Leader then removed the bacon and put it aside for later. Then he started to brown the chicken thighs. It is in this photo that you can see the first mistake your Maximum Leader made when preparing this dish. He neglected to dust the chicken with flour before browning. This resulted in the skin not being as brown as he would have liked. It also meant that he had to make up a little roux to add into the broth at the end before baking to thicken up the gravy. This is a rookie mistake that your Maximum Leader should have not made; but it is also an illustration of one of his favorite expressions. Namely, “cooking is an art and baking is a science.” Had he made a rookie mistake while baking he would have had to throw out what he’d done and start over. But as he was just cooking, he could adapt later. Anyway, here is the chicken going in.
poulet 3

And while your Maximum Leader is fessing up about mistakes… He can also fess up that he crowded the chicken in the pot. He should have done one or two thighs at a time. But he was just throwing together peasant food, so it was all okay. Right? Mais oui!

After browning the chicken on both sides he removed them from the pot and started on the veggies. He first put in the onions. Then came the carrots. Then shortly after the carrots the celery went in. Then the multicolored peppers. These all cooked up nicely. Your Maximum Leader didn’t caramelize these much. And in the photo you can see that the caramelization hasn’t started. This is another adaptation your Maximum Leader makes for his family. You see, the Wee Villain is 8 years old and prone to call the most delicious caramelized onion a “burned” onion. So, to avoid this your Maximum Leader kept the caramelization down. Anyway… Here is the photo.
poulet 4

After the veggies seemed to be about right, in went the potatoes. Your Maximum Leader waited until the last minute to add the potatoes because he doesn’t like mushy potatoes. And this dish is going to cook for a while in the oven. He didn’t want his potatoes too soft.
poulet 5

After the potatoes went in and got heated up a little, the bacon went back in.
poulet 6

Now, if one was going to have tomatoes in your gravy, this would be the time to add the tomatoes in the mix. But, per the recent poll of the family, no tomatoes were added to the mix. What was added to the mix (in copious amounts) was wine. Your Maximum Leader should explain that he is not a big wine drinker. It is the occasional beer and lots of the hard stuff for him. But he does believe in keeping decent (if inexpensive) wine around for cooking (and drinking). If you wouldn’t want to drink a glass (or two) of the wine you damned well don’t want to be cooking with it. In this case, the wine was a cheap (but drinkable) California Chardonnay. Your Maximum Leader did have a single bottle of very nice French wine in the cabinet, but it was a rather expensive red that had been given as a gift and your Maximum Leader didn’t think it was right to open for drinking since he wouldn’t finish the bottle himself. (And Mrs Villain doesn’t really drink…)
poulet 7

Your Maximum Leader brought everything up to a slow boil then added some additional chicken stock to round out the liquids.
poulet 8

Now here is where your Maximum Leader’s photo food blogging went bad. At the moment he was ready to add the chicken back into the pot he realized that he’d forgotten to flour the chicken. So he quickly made his roux and mixed it in and brought the heat back up. Then he added the chicken to the pot. He was going to take photos of these two events, but Mrs Villain needed to make a call on his phone so it was not available to photos.

You must accept as read that the roux was made, the chicken added back to the pot and the whole business was covered and put into a 350 oven to finish off. The Poulet was in the oven about and hour and fifteen minutes. It probably only needed an hour, but your Maximum Leader was getting distracted by a game of Medieval Total War 2 and lost track of the time. Thankfully with a dish like this, a few extra minutes doesn’t hurt the result. And the result looked like this:
poulet 9

Your Maximum Leader wishes he’d taken a photo of the chicken on the plate, but he forgot. He is pleased to report that everyone loved the Poulet en Cocotte and he had no leftovers. The only thing that could have improved the meal would have been someone there to drink some French wine with.

(NB to readers: Indeed, your Maximum Leader was eating his dinner and his mind wandered to his college days. He shared a political science class or two with a charming young French woman who was studying abroad for a year. Her name was Karin. She was smart, witty, totally charming and a blast to hang out with. Sadly for me in those more superficial days, she was very plain looking. (Not that it really mattered much because your Maximum Leader was dating someone else altogether.) But he did recall when Karin’s best friend Veronique came to visit her. Veronique was anything but plain. As a matter of fact, the very act of remembering her sends a thrill through your Maximum Leader’ groin. Sadly, it was hard to judge if Veronique as a witty, smart and charming as was Karin. Veronique’s English was almost as bad as my French. But we were able to communicate a little bit. In fact, the most useful bit of information I was able to give Veronique was that she needed to buy a new bathing suit because the small scrap of cloth that would barely cover her nether region would get her arrested for indecent exposure at the beaches in Virginia and North Carolina that she and Karin were going to visit. Anyhooo… Your Maximum Leader gave brief thought to Karin and Veronique while eating dinner on Bastille Day. And that is a good way to celebrate the day.)

Carry on.

Food fail.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader considers himself a better than average cook. This is not to say a chef, but a cook. A chef is an appellation he gives to professionals. A cook is a person who, well, cooks; but not for money.

This weekend has been full of cooking failures for your Maximum Leader. He is none too happy to report this fact, but it is what it is. In the spirit of humiliating himself, he’ll briefly describe his three cooking failures of the weekend.

The first is a rather minor failure. Your Maximum Leader burned rice. This may not seem like a big deal, but it was to him. He’s not burned rice that he was cooking in a saucepan, on the range, that he “supervised” the entirety of the cook time. Basically, your Maximum Leader was cooking and kept the heat on the rice for too long and it burned. He didn’t leave the kitchen. He just disregarded the rice while he did other things. It was embarrassing. It was also a pain in the arse to clean up.

The second failure is a half-failure. For those of you who follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter (@maximumleader) you will know that he had a craving for Swedish meatballs yesterday. Rather than buying some at the Ikea he was near yesterday, he determined to make his own. He pulled out his trusty Joy of Cooking and looked up the recipe. As it turned out, he had everything he needed to make them, and make them he did.

Now, allow your Maximum Leader to say that his Swedish meatballs had the correct flavor. They did taste exactly as they should. But there was a consistency problem. They were a little stringy. What? A stringy meatball you say? Indeed. You see, to make a Swedish meatball you take your ground pork and ground beef and mix them together with the spices, breadcrumbs and water. According to the recipe, you do this in an electric mixer for approximately 10 minutes. That seemed a bit long to me, and in retrospect it likely was too long. If your Maximum Leader had mixed less he believes he would have avoided the stringiness to the texture. Everyone liked the meatballs - which were dinner. But your Maximum Leader was dissatisfied. He’ll chalk this failure up to trying a recipe for the first time. He’ll reduce the mixing next time to see if it works out better.

The third cooking failure is the one about which he’s most upset. A little over a week ago your Maximum Leader set approximately 16 pounds of pork belly to cure into bacon. He did 5 pounds of regular salt cure. He did 5 pounds of garlic and herb cure. And the remaining was maple syrup and bourbon cure. Today he took 2 pounds of the regular cure and froze it to use more as lardon than as bacon. Then the rest of the bacon went into the grill/smoker.

Well, your Maximum Leader had more flare-ups and problems controlling the temperature in the smoker than he can remember ever having in the past. Basically, much of his bacon had to be trimmed to removed burned areas. The maple syrup/bourbon cure was the worst - as you can imagine due to the sugars in the cure mix.

No, he didn’t completely lose any slab of bacon. But he’s never had to trim his bacon like he did today. It was very sad. Very disappointing. He’ll have to sample a pound to make sure that it doesn’t have a burned taste. If it does then he’ll really be pissed off…

Needless to say, your Maximum Leader has decided to cut his loses and declare that he is not cooking anything else this weekend.

Carry on.

Lovely Lola and the Big Apple

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, as readers might know, recently noted that he’d bought tickets to see the Carnegie Hall debut of the lovely and eminently talented Lola Astanova. The purchase of these tickets was the impluse that developed into your Maximum Leader taking his lovely (and talented) daughter, Villainette #2 to New York City two weeks ago. He started on this post shortly after his return, but has been working on it in dribs and drabs since and finally decided to just hit the friggin publish button… This ain’t high art…

Villainette #2 (aged 12) has been after your Maximum Leader to take her to New York for quite a while now. Indeed the hectoring began a few years ago when we were walking past the Chinatown bus. (NB to readers: There is a bus that will take you from Chinatown in DC to Chinatown in NYC for a mere $20. This bus leaves DC from the alley next to Tony Cheng’s Restaurant in Chinatown DC. Tony Cheng’s is a favorite dining spot of your Maximum Leader’s.) It did not occur to your Maximum Leader to take Villainette #2 with him to NYC for the Lola Astanova concert. Indeed, the first (and only) person he thought of was Mrs Villain. But when he told Mrs Villain the plan, she demured. It was during the week… She had a lot going on… Who would watch the kids… etc… etc…

Then Mrs Villain suggested that your Maximum Leader take Villainette #2 to the show and make it a little overnight trip to the Big Apple. Your Maximum Leader suggested this to Villainette #2 and she immediately got pretty excited. She would get to miss two days of school and hang out in NYC.

So, your Maximum Leader and Villainette #2 set out at about 5:30am on the morning of Thursday, January 19 to go to NYC. Now you might be thinking, “Did he leave that early to drive to NYC?” No. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t drive to NYC (or NYC) if he can avoid it. He got a killer deal on a pair of round trip tickets for himself and Villainette #2 on Amtrak from Union Station. (He could have left from Fredericksburg, VA; but the fare would have jumped nearly $100. Parking was only $40, so it made sense to drive up to DC for the train.) Your Maximum Leader and Villainette #2 were on the train at 7:25 and on the way to NYC on time.

The train ride was uneventful. While passing through north Jersey Villainette #2 caught her first glances of NYC. It was at this point that she started to get a bit excited.

We arrived at Penn Station and your Maximum Leader gave his daughter one piece of advice, “Keep up.” The only fear your Maximum Leader had during the whole trip was one of separation. (An irrational parental fear he knows, but it did pop up from time to time…) Villainette #2 was not impressed with Penn Station per se. (Since the demolition in the 60’s of the glorious Pennsylvania Station there hasn’t been much to be impressed with there.) But she was impressed with the hustle and bustle and mass of humanity on the move. We came up on the Madison Square Garden side and went to the taxi queue. The queue was long and Villainette #2 was worried that we were going to “waste time standing around in line.” She was assured that the line was long but moved fast because there were lots of cabs in the city. It was at this point that your Maximum Leader realized that none of his children have ever ridden in a cab or other hired car. So… In a trip of firsts for Villainette #2, this was another little first. It took about 5 mins to make it to the head of the line and before you knew it we were on our way to the hotel to drop off our bags.

We headed uptown to the Helmsley Park Lane, which would be our base for the trip. The Helmsley Park Lane was the winner for a number of reasons. It was walking distance close to Carnegie Hall and Rockefeller Center (two predecided destinations in the city), it wasn’t sleazy, and your Maximum Leader got a tremendous deal on Hotels.com for a room.

(NB to astute readers: Your Maximum Leader knows that he paid extra for the cab ride to the hotel by not walking a block to get a cab headed uptown instead of downtown… But he wasn’t going to bother with it… Also, your Maximum Leader did spend $230 for the night in the Helmsley - including all the taxes - which are legion. If you know NYC prices, that isn’t bad for a high-end hotel - which the Helmsley is.)

It was your Maximum Leader’s plan to drop our bag with the concierge and then return later nearer to check-in time (since it was only 11:15am); but fate dealt him a pleasant surprise. Upon arrival at the Helmsley, our room was ready for us. We were on the 35th floor with a city view room. On the ride up the elevator when we passed the 20th floor your Maximum Leader mentioned that the Helmsley had become the tallest building that Villainette #2 had ever been up in (surpassing the Old Post Office observation deck in DC). She thought that was pretty exciting.

Our room was nicer than your Maximum Leader would have imagined. It had a nice view downtown and it was pretty big. Your Maximum Leader has stayed in a number of hotels in NYC and he’s always managed to get rooms that seemed just a touch small. This room was not small. It was roomy and had two closets, a large open bathroom and room to easily walk around the beds. If you need a hotel recommendation, you will get one for the Helmsley Park Lane. The staff were great and the room was very nice.

So, after laying out our clothes for the concert, Villainette #2 announced that she was hungry and that it would be a good time for lunch. We trekked over to 7th Avenue and walked a few blocks down to the world famous (and only slightly touristy) Carnegie Deli. Okay… He knows that there are better deli’s in NYC. But he also knows that this one is a landmark and famous in its own right for being a backdrop in film and TV. We split a pastrami sandwich and some pickles (sour and half sour) and some onion rings (as Villainette #2 didn’t want fries or chips). We ate our fill and then departed for other touristy sites.

First touristy site on the agenda… Rockefeller Center. We signed on for the “Top of the Rock” observation deck and the NBC Studio tour. Your Maximum Leader had been to the top of Rockefeller Center before and has felt that it is a better experience than the iconic Empire State Building. Villainette #2 was just excited to go up in such a tall building and see the view. It was a nice clear day and we soaked in the view. It wasn’t too crowded and we had a very nice time. Then we went back down to ground level and noticed a crowd and some TV lights on the plaza in front of the building. Closer examination showed this to be a shoot for the show 30 Rock. We watched for a little bit (and even saw Jane Krakowski arrive for the shoot). After a time we decided to mosey on to the NBC Studios tour.

The two NBC pages (Tess and Grant) who took us on the tour were great. Lots of energy and personality. We also lucked out with a small group (only 10 people - what? Thursday afternoons in January aren’t high tourist times?). Our first studio visit was to the Dr Oz studio. Your Maximum Leader must admit that he’s heard the name “Dr Oz” but he doesn’t know the man from Adam and couldn’t tell you the first thing about him. The most interesting thing about the Dr Oz studio was learning that many moons ago it was the “Late Night with David Letterman” studio. The next studio we visited was the “Football Night in America” studio. That studio was pretty interesting. First off, all the lights were on and the monitors were active. So, it looked like you would expect it to from watching on TV. The lighting was amazing. Your Maximum Leader really had no concept of how much light was needed to make HD broadcasts look good. (NB: your Maximum Leader has worked once under TV studio lights - when he represented his high school on a local TV quiz show. The lights back then were nothing like they are today.) The other interesting thing to learn on this visit was how the floor works. The floor of the studio is essentially a “green screen” (or Chroma Key as Tess told us) and is always changed to look like the flooring you see on TV (they have used mahogany floors, grass, etc). (BTW, the floor is blue not green.) After the Football studio it was off to the Saturday Night Live studio. It was surprisingly small. Your Maximum Leader thought being in the studio might elicit more of a response than it did. He felt that it was cool, but sort of small. Being there did make him want to watch the show on Saturday night. After the SNL studio, we saw some of the SNL makeup department (which was sort of cool, but doesn’t lend itself to easy description). And we concluded the tour with a stop to see the national broadcast center. (Which wasn’t too interesting because most of the country was in “affliate” time where the network isn’t broadcasting…)

After NBC, Villainette #2 and your Maximum Leader went back to the hotel to prepare for dinner and the concert.

It might sound very cliched (and it is) but, we went to have dinner at the Russian Tea Room. We lucked out in that it was Restaurant Week in NYC and they had a real deal on a three course meal for $35/person. Villainette #2 had a salad, Chicken a la King on spaetzel and finished off the meal with a chocolate mousse pyramid. Your Maximum Leader had the Goat Cheese and Wild Mushroom Blinchik, Variniki (a vegetable ravioli) and cheesecake. Your Maximum Leader also indulged in a three course vodka tasting. Service was impeccible and everything was delicious. The food was prepared perfectly and was of good quality, but in the grand scheme the most memorable thing about the meal was how happy it made Villainette #2 to eat at a “fancy” restaurant.

After dinner wrapped up, we walked next door for the main event, Lola Astanova’s Carnegie Hall debut.

Your Maximum Leader ordered his tickets early out of fear it would sell out quickly. The show did sell out, but not quickly. There were tickets available on the Monday before the performance, but it was a full house on Thursday night.

If you Maximum Leader might indulge himself (on his blog) with a few observations. The first one is that the last time he’d been to Carnegie Hall was either in high school or one summer early in college. It was smaller than he remembered. He also recalled that everyone was dressed to go to a classical music concert during his last visit. He’s not talking that it was black tie, but men wore suits and women were dressed in suits or dresses. There were a number of people in jeans and sweatshirts (he didn’t see a hoodie but he’d bet there were some around…). The two lovely young women (Columbia graduate students) sitting next to us were wearing turtlenecks and khakis. He middle aged Israeli man behind us was wearing khakis and a button-down shirt without a tie. When did it happen that you could dress down to go to Carnegie Hall? Was it the Clinton Administration? Your Maximum Leader wants to know. He is happy that people of all ages, races and classes were there for the performance; but there is enough of a snob in your Maximum Leader to believe that all should try to dress up to go to Carnegie Hall.

The program began with the speeches. The East Coast Chairman of the American Cancer Society opened up the show. (The program was to benefit the American Cancer Society - you can donate here if you like.) He was followed by the Performance Sponsor and Chairman - The Donald. Yup. Donald Trump. Trump’s remarks were snappy and quickly over. Trump then introduced the event hostess, (Dame) Julie Andrews. She was charming, witty, thoughtful and delightful as she discussed her work, her dedication to fighting cancer and her love of her fans. Her remarks were lovely and well received. Then Dame Julie and The Donald received some awards from the ACS. That part of the program concluded there was a brief choral performance by the Stonewall Chorale. The Stonewall Chorale is, as your Maximum Leader understands it, the nation’s oldest gay and lesbian choral group. They did a wonderful rendition of “Climb E’vry Mountain” among other pieces (the names of which your Maximum Leader has to admit he doesn’t know).

Then it was time for the main event. Lola Astanova emerged to begin her performance… Let your Maximum Leader get the silly stuff that always seems to make it into show reviews done with first. Miss Astanova shimmered in her couture dress and Tiffany jewels. The New York Post apparently made a big deal about her borrowing $850,000 worth of jewelry from Tiffany & Co for the show. Since many people in the audience along with many writers and critics feel it is necessary to mention this, your Maximum Leader will join the chorus. Your Maximum Leader does feel he needs to comment on one element of Lola’s attire. Her shoes. They were spikey high heels and your Maximum Leader wasn’t sure how she would be able to operate the pedals of the piano with them. The geometry of it seemed improbable. Rest assured that her pedal work seemed fine.

Miss Astanova played a number of nice pieces from the romantic school. They included Chopin’s Nocturne OP. 62, No1; Etude Op. 25, No 5; and 4 movements of his Sonata No 2. Also by Chopin she played Etude Op 25, No 12 and Scherzo No 2, Op 3. She also played two preludes by Rachmaninoff (Op 32, No 10 and Op 3 No 2) and his Moment Musicaux. She also did two studies by Alexander Scriabin.

If you can fault Miss Astanova for anything it is only youth. By this your Maximum Leader means that her performance is technically wonderful. Her stage presence is tremendous. She dominates the piano and uses every part of her body to make herself as much part of the music as possible. It is obvious that the pieces she played move her. She is emotionally connected to them and it shows; to the benefit of the audience. But the fault is that she doesn’t have a tremendous scope to her performance. She loves the romantics, and that is what she plays. Your Maximum Leader has read interviews with her, and watched her You Tube clips, and she is very open about how she plays pieces she feels strongly about. Your Maximum Leader believes that her star in the world of classical music performance will rise faster and farther if she would broaden her horizons and expand her repetoire.

That said, your Maximum Leader was dazzled and impressed. The whole show was tremendous. He would recommend to anyone who had an opportunity to see Lola Astanova perform that they take advantage of the opportunity. Villainette #2 and your Maximum Leader had a wonderful time.

After the performance ended your Maximum Leader and Villainette #2 walked back to the hotel. We were exhausted from such a long day and quickly fell asleep. The next morning (like clockwork) your Maximum Leader was up early and wasn’t sure what to do with himself until it was time to wake Villainette #2 and get some breakfast.

Villainette #2 was roused and we went to breakfast at the wonderful Sarabeth’s. Your Maximum Leader, on previous trips to NYC, had eaten at Sarabeth’s. He’s also eaten at Sarabeth’s in Key West, Fl (their only non-NYC location). So he knew it was going to be excellent. It was. Both your Maximum Leader and Villainette #2 had eggs benedict. (A dish that your Maximum Leader cooks regularly enough at home that Villainette #2 thinks it is a “normal” breakfast food.) For those of you who may not know, Sarabeth’s is quite well known for their preserves and baked goods. (You can buy them here if you like.) It isn’t often that your Maximum Leader would say this but, the english muffin upon which the rest of the eggs benedict rested was actually the highlight of the dish. (We’ll revisit this theme in a few paragraphs.) Sarabeth’s gets your Maximum Leader’s unreserved recommendation if you need a meal recommendation in NYC.

Fortified by breakfast, we trudged through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met is, of course, a world-class museum. (BTW, it is listed on the right sidebar of this blog along with other world-class museums around the world as part of the “Villainous Culture” topic.) Villainette #2 wanted to see the Egyptian Wing and the Arms & Armor exhibits. Your Maximum Leader wanted to see the Asian Art wing and the special exhibits on Renaissance Portraiture and Art from Renaissance Venice (1400-1515). We spent the most time in the Egyptian wing and the Arms & Armor wing. Villainette #2 was very attentive and interested in both of those areas. She was also interested in the Asian art wing. But as we made our way to the Renaissance Portraiture exhibit her interest started to wane. Sadly, your Maximum Leader took the hint that he was losing his daughter and decided to ask what would you like to do now? She responded that it was getting on time to eat lunch (it was nearly noon) and then she wanted to do other stuff - like see Macy’s and Times Square.

So we hitched a cab to the hotel (Villainette #2 was complaining about all the walking already - and she’d left her gloves and hat at the hotel.) We checked out of our room and asked the concierge to hold our bags until we were ready to catch the train. Then we went to the gastronomic high point of the whole visit…

Your Maximum Leader hadn’t expected to make lunch the main meal of the trip. Indeed, his original plan had been to get street food for lunch as we walked the city. But when he was checking out restaurants near the hotel he noticed a branch of one of his favorite restaurants in the whole world.

Now your Maximum Leader is, has been, and likely will forever be a huge (HUGE!) fan of Masaharu Morimoto. But right after Morimoto, he is a big fan of Nobu Matsuhisa. So imagine his excitment when he learned that a short walk from his hotel was the new Nobu 57. Your Maximum Leader has eaten at Nobu in Tribeca before. He’s also eaten at Nobu in Las Vegas. So he figured he’d try Nobu 57.

Now… Nobu is known for their “Black Cod and Miso.” Surprisingly, your Maximum Leader has never had it. Never before last Friday that is. Normally your Maximum Leader sticks to the sushi at Nobu (because it is outstanding). But he took the waitress’ suggestion of a cold dish, a hot dish and then sushi. Villainette #2 thought that sounded like a good idea. So that is what we did. We got the “signature” dishes of “Yellowtail tuna sashimi with Jalepenos”, then the aforementioned cod, then we got an assortment of sushi rolls at the chef’s descretion.

Allow your Maximum Leader to go on the record and state that he’s been an idiot for not having the Black Cod & Miso prior to this visit. It is one of the best fish dishes he’s ever eaten. It is sweet. It is savory. The crust has flavor that accents the tender fish without overpowering it. It is as close to a perfect piece of fish as you are likely ever to eat. If you are near a Nobu and can afford it, get some. Your Maximum Leader will never go to Nobu again without getting it.

So we finished a very memorable lunch and took the subway down to Herald Square to satisfy Villainette #2’s desires to see Macy’s and Times Square. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what there is to say about either Macy’s or Times Square. They are iconic places in NYC. The most interesting thing about visiting Macy’s is riding the old escalators. (Which pretty much summarizes our visit. We rode up 8 floors and then down 8 floors stopping only to buy a hot chocolate and browse for about 5 mins the girls department to see if there were any jeans that Villainette #2 liked.) We walked up to Times Square and poked around in the various stores there that interested Villainette #2. That meant a stop in the Toys R Us (in which Villainette #2 bought a small remote-controlled helicopter) and the M & M Store (in which your Maximum Leader bought a mixed bag of M & Ms in colors he doesn’t believe he’s seen anywhere else - including electric green, purple, teal, silver, magenta, marroon and a sort of burnt orange).

After Times Square, Villainette #2 decided that the lure of the Empire State Building was too great to resist. So up to the top we went. Your Maximum Leader feels that the visit was something of a letdown for her. It was just view that she had (pretty much) just seen the day before. If you are asking your Maximum Leader (which you may or may not be), going to the top of 30 Rockefeller Center is a better visit than going to the top of the Empire State Building. He thinks it is better to see the Empire State Building in the view than to see the view from the Empire State Building. But, it is a visit to an icon that Villainette #2 can check off her list of places she’s visited.

We rode the subway back uptown to the hotel to get our bags and think about getting to the train. Villainette #2 indicated that she was “sort of hungry.” So we stopped back by Sarabeths for a sandwich. Since we were going to split the sandwich we decided we had to agree on whatever we ordered… We opted for the lobster roll. It was fabulous. Allow your Maximum Leader to mention that as good as the lobster was, the highlight of the sandwich was - in fact - the roll itself. Your Maximum Leader has forgotten the lobster, but he remembers the roll it was served on.

Then we got our bags from the hotel and took a cab ride through Times Square to Penn Station and returned to DC. By the time in DC it had been snowing for a few hours. That meant that the drive home (11:30pm to 1:30am) was somewhat harrowing - but that is a story for another time…

It was a wonderful trip overall. One that he imagines he’ll have to repeat in many ways with Villainette #1 (who became a little jealous of the trip on our return) before too long.

Carry on.

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.

Rabbit, Punch and Pain

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader yells out “Rabbit” at you all. (Since it is the first of the month.)

Your Maximum Leader is a bachelor this week. His lovely wife and kids are at the beach, and he is alone in the Villainschloss. He will be consuming the finest meats and cheeses in all the land! He assures you since he went to Wegmans a few hours ago and purchased himself (modest) quantities of the finest victuals for himself…

Sadly, while unloading the meats and cheeses from the car, he hit his knee on a corner and fears it is swelling badly. He is beginning to hobble some. He’s got ice, but the pain is really something…

Speaking of pain…

Your Maximum Leader was introduced to a new drink (new to him at any rate) this weekend. It is a Painkiller. Ingredients: 1 part pineapple juice, 1 part orange juice, 1 measure coconut cream, 1 part rum. Mix with ice in cocktail shaker. Garnish with nutmeg. It is very very tasty. He has now made himself one (and served it in a tiki mug from the official supplier of tiki mugs for the MWO - Tiki Farm).

And while we are speaking of alcohol… A person found this blog due to a post from a few years back concerning alcohol and an old and dearly departed friend and mentor of your Maximum Leader, Professor Richard T. Couture. The post was about parties and Fish House Punch. NB to Linda: Your Maximum Leader will be sending you an email soon.

Your Maximum Leader was going to write more… But he is going to make himself another painkiller and slink off to bed.

Carry on.

Another rambling mess of a post

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader recalls, years ago - 2003/4 perhaps, sitting in a bar in DC with James Joyner, Rusty Shakleford and Cranky (among others) talking about blogging.

He specifically remembers much being made of keeping blog posts “on point.” This is to say that except for a “link dump post” all your posts should have a catchy and topical title and be concise and on a single topic.

Apparently your Maximum Leader never learned that lesson as it is apparent that he will be writing another rambling post with no clear subject, no clear title, and no clear point. But it will be his second post in as many days… So that is something.

Does anyone have a photo or vita on Timothy “Tim” Crawford, the Treasurer of SarahPAC? Your Maximum Leader, many moons ago, used to work with a Tim Crawford (for Tim Crawford more accuarately) of the Republican Governors Association. Your Maximum Leader wonders if it is the same Tim Crawford. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure what he would do if he learned that Sarah Palin’s Tim Crawford is the same person as your Maximum Leader’s Tim Crawford. Nothing he supposes… Except sit back and know that in the “degrees of separation” category your Maximum Leader would appear to have a (tenuous) 1 degree separation from Sarah Palin. That wouldn’t change your Maximum Leader’s opinion of Sarah Palin at all, or Tim Crawford either for that matter. It would just be interesting.

So… Has your Congressman DM’ed you a photo of his “junk” yet? And if he has done so has he done so with certitude that it was actually a photo of his “junk?” What a huge cluster-f for Congressman Weiner. He can’t say “with certitude” that the photo of the “junk” in question was his. What an idiot. Your Maximum Leader particularly appreciated the reported (Wolf Blitzer?) who asked the Congressman if he at least owned a pair of underwear similar to those in the photo. Your Maximum Leader was less impressed when the Congressman couldn’t say conclusively that he did (or didn’t) own a pair of underwear like those in the photo. FYI… Your Maximum Leader can recall what most of his underwear looks like. (Lots of boxer shorts if you care to know…)

NB - your Maximum Leader is on Twitter himself “@maximumleader” is the handle.

FYI - who started calling the male genitals “junk” anyway? How are we to keep from getting confused by “junk in trunks” and “junk in the trunk?” The former being what Congressman Weiner is accused of sending the photo of and the latter is that which Sir Mix-a-lot rapped so eloquently about here.

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure what he thinks of the new “MyPlate” nutritional guide the USDA is promulgating today. Sure it might be more easy to use than the old food pyramid, but there doesn’t seem to be any portion size recommendations easily discerned from the new “plate.” If fighting obesity is the problem shouldn’t you have some easily visible portion control message there too?

And while we’re mentioning obesity… What if fruits and veggies are the reason why many people get fat? Contraversial theory indeed but one that seems to have some evidence to support it if one draws similar conclusions to Gary Taubes. What if the carbs in fruits and veggies are responsible for making us fat? If we eat mostly proteins we don’t get as fat. (We may not be any healthier mind you, but we may not be fat…)

Speaking about fruits and veggies… Rainier cherries are in. Damn if your Maximum Leader doesn’t love himself rainier cherries.

Speaking of proteins… Your Maximum Leader has 8 pounds of bacon under cure right now. 4 pounds of “regular” cure and 4 pounds of “maple syrup/brown sugar/bourbon” cure. The regular cure will produce the typical “salty” bacon we all know and love. When the curing is finished he’ll smoke up the bacon over hickory or applewood. The “maple/bourbon” cure is just that, regular salt cure plus maple syrup, brown sugar, and bourbon. Your Maximum Leader used Wild Turkey Rare Breed (a very expensive premium bourbon) in this batch of bacon. Mostly to see if it tasted much different than the last few batches (which he made with Makers Mark). He cut down the amount of maple syrup in this batch as well. When he smokes this type of bacon the syrup gets a little too crusty for his tastes sometimes.

In one last political note… Your Maximum Leader sees that Mitt Romney officially kicked off his campaign to become President of the United States today. Your Maximum Leader can’t recall being this ambivilent about a “front-runner’s” announcement in a long long time. Indeed, 2012 is shaping up to be a year where your Maximum Leader is so very ambivilent about the whole race to the White House. The current president is not good. No one on the Republican side is jumping out as a serious challenger. Frankly, not anyone (other than Paul Ryan of Wisconsin) in Congress or the White House or any potential White House challenger is talking seriously about how to confront the terrible debt/deficit problem facing the nation. Where is a US David Cameron when we need him? Your Maximum Leader believes, but has no economic evidence to support this belief, that uncertainty over the nation’s financial future is causing anxiety that is keeping the recession going. It is discouraging to listen to the political classes talk about how to get our financial house in order.

Of course it is worse to listen to the “man on the street” talk about how we are taxed too much, and how he’ll vote against anyone that touches “his Social Security and Medicare.” If your Maximum Leader educate people about one thing it would be that the majority of US Government spending is for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Without getting those costs down, there isn’t hope of getting ourselves in order financially.

And before any of your Maximum Leader’s liberal readers (there are a few of you out there…) start to say that President’s Health Care bill is a start down that path let him cut you off. The President’s plan isn’t going to be a money saver as best anyone can project. Government health care must (MUST!!!!), because resources are finite, control costs by refusing to pay for some treatments. That decision will kill people. There must be “death panels” as they’ve been described, in order for the scheme to work. Look at Britain for example. They have the NICE board. Basically the NICE board determines what treatments are going to be provided for by the National Health Service and which ones aren’t. If you have a condidtion for which NICE has said there is not an authorized treatment, you don’t get treatment. It is that simple. There seems to be some basic denial among supporters of the President’s plan that you will have to control costs by prohibiting some treatments.

Your Maximum Leader hadn’t planned on addressing “death panels” but he just did. Frankly, if you are going to have some sort of national health plan you have to have a sort of death panel. It is just the way it is. Your Maximum Leader has no problem with that concept. He doesn’t want national health care mind you, but if you have it you just have to HAVE it.

Also… Interesting article in the Economist about the cost of fighting cancer. The interesting bit, that touches on controlling health care costs, was a the Economist’s analysis pointing out that advances in cancer treatment drugs happens because the US health care system (as it is now) will pay for the research. Essentially, the rest of the world piggy-back’s on US health spending. If the US were to cut costs, R&D would diminish around the world and cause new drug advances to come less often or not at all. Now your Maximum Leader knows that some of you out there will dismiss this as “drug company fear mongering” but if you’ve ever worked in a real business you know that businesses are acutely aware of how they make money. They know where and how they make money. If those sources dry up, those businesses also know what will happen to them. Think about it.

Anyhoo…

That is about it for now. Your Maximum Leader will stop writing and go back to day dreaming about boobies (and other stuff).

Carry on.

Food bleg

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader needs a little help. Here is the situation… Your Maximum Leader had a lot of leftover rice the other day. This leftover rice is a standard basmati rice. He was thinking what he could do with it and into his head popped “rice pudding!”

So, he pulled out ye olde “Joy of Cooking” and found a rice pudding recipe. Sadly, it called for uncooked rice. He then checked two other cookbooks and found similar recipes. He then went to the interwebs and found variations on a theme. All of them were rice, milk/cream, sugar and raisins/nuts. He tried one of them and got a delicious tasting pudding, but it didn’t set up like he wanted. Your Maximum Leader likes his pudding (dessert pudding rather than savory pudding) to be pretty firm.

Your Maximum Leader thought that he could add a beaten egg to the mix and that would likely thicken it up and cause it to set up. But before your Maximum Leader goes down this path two things must occur. The first is that he has to finish eating all the liquid rice dessert he’s made so far. The second is that he figures he’d just put up a post and ask any of his readers (NB: your Maximum Leader is looking at you Mrs P) to suggest a rice pudding reciepe that sets up well and uses leftover rice.

Carry on.

Haggis musings

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader generally doesn’t stay up late too much. That said, he is a big fan of TV’s Craig Ferguson and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Your Maximum Leader DVR’s the Late Late Show and watches it the next day.

So, your Maximum Leader was watching Ferguson’s monolouge from the other night and learned something that he didn’t know. Ferguson was talking about Burns Night and haggis and mentioned that haggis is illegal to import into the US because it contains lung. Wha? Your Maximum Leader has wondered in the past why he could find canned (tinned?) haggis in Canada and Britain, but couldn’t find it in the US. Until last night your Maximum Leader figured “Hell… It’s haggis… How much demand could there be?” and assumed that the demand was so low that it wasn’t economical to import canned (or other) haggis into the states. But apparently there is a law against importing foods into the US that contain sheep’s lung. Again your Maximum Leader writes “Wha?.”

After a little poking around, sure enough, it seems to be the case that one cannot import haggis to the US due to the content of sheep’s lung in the pudding.

This caused your Maximum Leader to wonder if he’s had traditional haggis in the US. He knows he got a traditional haggis in Scotland. (If you can’t get it there where can you get it?) And he suspects that he could get it in Canada (if he wanted to). But he’s had haggis a few times in the US and now wonders if the sheep’s lung was included in the mix? Since it was domestically produced one may assume that it was. But if there is this import ban on sheep’s lung is there some sort of other ban on using the lungs of domestic sheep in haggis?

Your Maximum Leader wonders.

If you care… Here is the Craig Ferguson monolouge in which he discusses Burns night and haggis.

One final note… Your Maximum Leader and the Smallholder had threatened for years to have a “bad heritage food dinner.” This dinner would feature the most awful food we could make from our ethic backgrounds. This would be haggis for your Maximum Leader, and probably some sort of blood sausage for the Smallholder (who’s heritage is German). Since the Smallholder could raise a sheep for the meal, it might prove to be the opportunity your Maximum Leader needs to make an authentic haggis.

Carry on.

Jan 26 thoughts

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know why he watched the State of the Union speech last night. He did watch of course. He always watches. Well, almost always watches. There were a few George W Bush SOTU speeches your Maximum Leader missed; mainly because he couldn’t stand to watch the man give a speech. It was painful.

Of course last night’s SOTU speech was painful in a different way. It was painful in that way that a rational person feels when his brain is about to explode due to the contradictions. Sadly this is how most SOTU speeches have been for 20 years. The president stands up there and tells everyone what they want to hear. In last night’s example, President Obama called for lots of new spending as well as spending freezes. He wants to invest and cut the deficit. He wants to spend wisely and eliminate the debt.

By the way… Is “high speed rail” actually code for something else? Your Maximum Leader wanted to think that “high speed rail” was actually code for “riding the love train to Bill Clinton’s office in Harlem” - which is something many women would like to do (at least this is what your Maximum Leader is told).

Anyhooo….

Luckily for your Maximum Leader, his lovely wife (Mrs Villain) came in about 25 minutes into the President’s speech and wanted to talk about other things. This talk went on for about 30 minutes. So your Maximum Leader was able to preserve his brain from damage by focusing on his wife and largely ignoring what was going on at the Capitol.

Your Maximum Leader thought that Paul Ryan’s response was competent. Your Maximum Leader has heard Ryan speak before and last night wasn’t his best work. Sadly, your Maximum Leader missed Michelle Bachmann completely as Mrs Villain needed some help on the computer (which is not code by the way) and he was away long enough to miss the “tea party response.”

All in all your Maximum Leader believes that he’ll have completely forgotten the SOTU by about 2:47pm today.

In other news…

Who’s rooting for the Packers in the big game? Your Maximum Leader is. So are you if you’ve got any sense about you. Sadly it looks like your Maximum Leader will be watching the Super Bowl at the home of some close friends who are Pittsburgh fans. Your Maximum Leader worries about the dynamic in the house during the game. Perhaps he should cancel and stay home… Perhaps he should find new friends….

Di ye knew wha to-day is? It is Robert Burns Day! Huzzah! While your Maximum Leader will not be partaking of haggis sliders; he will have a little of the “water of life” to go along with his poached salmon with dinner. He may even read a poem or two to the family.

Finally… We are on snow watch here in Virginia. The Villainschloss is in the “wintery mix” to 5″ of snow zone. As with all these winter storms, one never knows what will happen until it is happening. Frankly, your Maximum Leader is hoping for rain and nothing more, but with his luck the snow will come and cancel schools and thereby disrupt his harmony.

Carry on.

Lazy, Games & TV

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sat down last night and had planned on writing a little piece about liberal fascination with China. Specifically, your Maximum Leader has been perplexed by how often “liberal” commentators praise China’s ability to get things done. Your Maximum Leader wonders if these commentators (Paul Krugman leaps to mind) ever consider that the reason China can get things done is because they are an authoritarian state? Sure there is a lot of economic freedom in China, but there isn’t any political freedom. Do these commentators see that connection? Your Maximum Leader wonders if they do.

Of course, since you don’t see a post on China on the site you can safely assume your Maximum Leader didn’t write the post. He didn’t write it because he needed to cook dinner for the family. He whipped together a basic ragout (ragu?). Pork, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, chicken broth, red wine, you know a ragout. It would have been better if it had simmered for a few hours. (Since it didn’t would it really qualify as a ragout? Interesting questions.) But it was tasty.

After dinner your Maximum Leader decided to watch to TV on the DVR. He watched an episode of “The Late Late Show w/Craig Ferguson” and “Chelsea Lately” both guilty pleasures. Then he was going to watch “Castle” with his daughter. But then Mrs Villain and his daughters hijacked the TV and your Maximum Leader went to his office to get on the computer.

He had planned to blog on the computer. But then he decided to play an old game he has. Medieval Total War II. He started a campaign as the Spanish. His goal is to recreate the Spanish/Hapsburg Empire in Europe at the time of Charles V. So far your Maximum Leader has most of Iberia under his control. He hasn’t kicked the Moors out yet, but it is early. He did snag Corsica and Sardinia (which would have been part of the Kingdom of Naples). He also, by chance, took over Rhodes. (He was going on Crusade to take Jerusalem, but the French took Jersusalem first. Since he had an army in the area… Look! Rhodes is nearby!) So he played his game for a while.

Not like that is terribly interesting.

Not like China… That would be interesting…

Perhaps later…

Carry on.

“…alcohol helps.”

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader attened the Fredericksburg Forum last night. The guest was renown writer/traveler/chef Anthony Bourdain. Allow your Maximum Leader to tell you something. Your Maximum Leader was giddy as a schoolgirl in anticipation for this event. He’s been looking forward to it for weeks now.

For a few years now the Fredericksburg Forum has had a number of great guests, but they have tended to the political. Your Maximum Leader had grown weary of all the political figures and had stopped patronizing the event. Well… When he heard that Bourdain was coming he knew he had to repatronize the event and make sure he was there. And so he was…

Your Maximum Leader spoke to some of his friends in town who he knew would attend and made a wager on how long it would take before Bourdain said “fuck” in his remarks. (Over under by your Maximum Leader was under 2min. Indeed Bourdain dropped the ole f-bomb about 1.5 mins into his remarks. FYI, many patrons thought that he would refrain from cursing during his talk. Your Maximum Leader believed he’d have been disappointed if Bourdain didn’t curse. It is part of his charm.)

Your Maximum Leader will not recount everything that was said but will hit a few of the high points. These points are familiar to anyone who has read any of Bourdain’s books or watched “No Reservations” (on Travel Channel Monday nights at 10pm). The best part of the talk was when Bourdain talked about the importance of being a good ambassador for your country when travelling. He encouraged us to actually get away from tourist areas and actually meet people and see the “real” country you are visiting. If you meet interesting people and they offer you food, eat it. These are tenets to which your Maximum Leader tries to adhere when he travels. Bourdain expressed amazement that someone like Gwenyth Paltrow could travel through Spain and never try ham. (NB: Your Maximum Leader believes it is a sin against God and nature to visit Spain and not have ham. Indeed people who go to Spain and don’t at least try some ham should be beaten within an inch of their lives.) Bourdain expressed some sympathy for Bobby Flay having to do that awful Throwdown show. Frankly your Maximum Leader enjoys seeing Flay getting his butt kicked when he watches the show (which isn’t often). Flay seems to be an insufferable prick. That said, it seems as though Flay is getting beat up on a bit too much on that show.

The quote of the night was actually the last thing that Bourdain said during the question and answer session. He was asked about his opinion of Andrew Zimmern. Bourdain said that other than the unfortunate name of Zimmern’s show (Bizzare Foods) that Zimmern is a good guy. They have lots in common. One thing they don’t have in common is that Zimmern doesn’t drink anymore. Then Bourdain pulled this out: “When you’ve eaten a dinner of dick and you know you’re having a big helping of nutsack for breakfast, alcohol helps.” Were truer words ever spoken? Your Maximum Leader doubts it.

After the speech there was a “patron reception” for people who shelled out the big bucks to be there. Your Maximum Leader managed to get up to Bourdain before the huge crush of other patrons arrived. He shook hand and said how much he enjoyed the show and books. Then your Maximum Leader asked him “If you could go anywhere in the world to have a meal, where would you go?” Your Maximum Leader speculated before asking the question that the answer might likely be Arzak in Catalonia Spain. Bourdain thought for a moment and said that if you were going to travel anywhere in the world for a meal you’d likely have time for a couple meals. He said that you should go to the San Sebastian region of Catalonia and eat at Arzak, Mugaritz and Extebarri. If you caught the “No Reservations” show on Spain back in 2008 you’d know which three restaurants these were.

Sadly, your Maximum Leader would have liked a little more time to speak with him, but the crush of other patrons was incredible. Your Maximum Leader felt a little sorry for him, as he was surrounded by fanboys (and girls) and hardly had a chance to relax at all.

Anyhooo…

It was a great night. Your Maximum Leader had a great time (as did his lovely wife Mrs Villain). Now your Maximum Leader is off to Wegmans to get himself some Spanish ham for lunch.

Carry on.

Monday Stuff

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will probably be doing very little posting between now and after Labor Day. Lots of back-to-school stuff going on which requires his attention. (So Mrs Villain tells him.) Of course, every time your Maximum Leader warns you all that posting will be light, he winds up posting a lot. Then when he posts nothing… Well… He posts nothing…

What to write about now?

Your Maximum Leader had some people over to the house for dinner yesterday night. He anticipated preparing some fancy appetizers. He’d thought of serrano ham and marchengo cheese and proscuitto with melon as two ham-based dishes. (With a mix of olives stuffed with feta, almonds, sun-dried tomatos, and garlic. To be clear, each olive was not stuffed with all of those items. There was a variety of 4 different olives each stuffed with a different item.)

Well… What did the great Muse of Scotland once say about the best laid plans? The ham based appetizers never made it to the table.

Gosh… Your Maximum Leader is so (SO!) torn up inside thinking that he might have Serrano ham and proscuitto just laying about in the icebox. What ever will he do with that wonderful, tasty, succulent cured pork goodness just sitting around? Sadly he is too busy to invite people with whom he’d share the ham.

He’ll just have to eat it himself…

The horror… Oh the horror…

In other news…

Your Maximum Leader is sad to admit that he watches “True Blood” on HBO. He has come very close to giving up on the show on a number of occasions starting last season. This season has a bunch of storylines going on. Most of the storylines don’t do a damn thing for him. While enduring the storylines he doesn’t care for he keeps thinking that he’ll just stop watching. But then the vampire characters just draw him back in. Specifically he is speaking about Denis O’Hare’s performance as Russell Edgington. Damn that man can work magic in that role. If it weren’t for the Russell story-line your Maximum Leader would have just stopped watching earlier this season.

Moving along…

Hey! Is it too early to shill for Christmas (or back to school)? You know that you are looking for a new t-shirt in which to knock about the house or wear on a quick trip to the mall. Have you considered a Naked Villainy T-shirt? If you are particularly stunning woman have you considered a Naked Villainy Tank-top and Thong combo? Your Maximum Leader will keep shilling this particular combination until he gets photos in his mailbox one day of some sultry lass clad only in the tank and thong combo. If that day ever comes your Maximum Leader let you all know. If you want to check out the store the link is here. Your Maximum Leader is probably going to update the store soon with a new t-shirt or two. (Not like lots of people are knocking down the doors to buy the old stuff…)

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader has been re-reading books he’s got on the shelf. He realizes that he’s looking at the books on the shelf and not remembering their contents any more. So he’ll both conserve money and do a little re-education for himself. Like FLG, your Maximum Leader might revisit Hume’s “Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding.”

That is about all from the Villainschloss now…

Carry on.

Fish them to extinction

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader, while not considering himself an environmentalist exactly, does believe in sensible stewardship of our natural resources. Normally he wouldn’t find himself encouraging something as villainous as fishing a particular species to extinction. But these are extreme times my friends.

Apparently the lionfish is destroying reefs and fish populations all the way from Florida to Maine. The lionfish is not native to our Atlantic coast. Now environmentalists, chefs and foodies are going to try and do their part to eradicate the lionfish. According to the Washington Post there is a full-fledged movement afoot to get people to eat the little buggers and remove them from our coasts.

Apparently the major hurdle to widespread ingestion of the lionfish is availability. This is to say availability for purchase. The little buggers are out in the water if you want them, it takes some work to catch them. Did your Maximum Leader say catch them. He is wrong, they need to be speared. Spearfishing is the only way to get the lionfish to market.

Here is a solution to this problem. Take many of the unemployed Americans out there and give them some snorkeling lessons and a spear and see how many lionfish they can take in a day. If people were paid by the fish you could likely put a serious dent in the lionfish population in no time. (How many unemployed former autoworkers from Michigan would enjoy relocating for a summer to the warm and sunny south and get to spend some time snorkling and killing lionfish? It is like a fishing vacation that you get paid for…)

Your Maximum Leader will look around for places where he can get lionfish. He’s all for eating a species to extinction…

This species at least…

Carry on.

    About Naked Villainy

    • maxldr

    Villainous
    Contacts

    • E-mail your villainous leader:
      "maxldr-blog"-at-yahoo-dot-com or
      "maximumleader"-at-nakedvillainy-dot-com

    • E-mail the Smallholder:
      "smallholder"-at-nakedvillainy-dot-com

    • E-mail the Minister of Propaganda:
      "thedirector"-at-nakedvillainy-dot-com

Is this what the voices in your head are talking about?

    Villainous Commerce

    Villainous Sponsors

      • Get your link here.

      Villainous Search