Billy Connolly

Greetings loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is trying to post a video. It is a little snippet from a Billy Connolly special that aired on BBC2 a few months back. It is the genesis of your Maximum Leader now adding a piece of profanity into his lexicon.

Billy Connolly Jesus Suffering Fuck

We’ll see how it works.

Carry on.

Non-spoilery Game of Thrones Update

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a fan of Game of Thrones (and the Song of Ice and Fire novels). He’s made to secret to anyone who wants to listen that his favourite character is Daenerys Targaryen. She has had, in the books, a fascinating character arc. Her arc in the television show has not been quite as in depth, but then again, it is television. (NB: the most interesting character arc in the whole story - books or TV - is Jaime Lannister. But that is a tale for another time.) In addition to her character development, there is the obvious attraction. Your Maximum Leader, as a somewhat nerdy guy, is really turned on by hot women with dragons. Yes, that allure could prove self-destructive, but it is an allure nonetheless.

Until this week’s episode, (Season 8, Ep 4 - The Last of the Starks), your Maximum Leader would have given Daenerys about a 60% chance of “winning” the Game of Throne and sitting on the Iron Throne as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms… Sadly, he is lowering that chance down to 20%. Some of the things said and done in the episode and making your Maximum Leader fear for the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, etc., etc..

Out of fear that Kevin will read this, that is all your Maximum Leader will say right now. But if it turns out that Dany doesn’t make it to the end of the show, your Maximum Leader is going to be very sad, upset, and destructive. He might even scream “dracarys” and burn his Daenerys Targaryen Funko toy.

Carry on.

(Follow your Maximum Leader on the Twitter! @maximumleader)

More Game of Thrones

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader figures that he is going to share some observations about the most recent episode of Game of Thrones. This is the episode is entitled “The Long Night” and features the “Battle of Winterfell.” The whole 82 minute episode consists of the final battle between the Night King and the arrayed forces of the North.

Your Maximum Leader will give away some spoilers in his writing. So be advised…

The first observations are technical. Much hay was made about the episode being “feature length.” This is a fancy way of saying it was longer than most. Your Maximum Leader believes that the episode could have benefited from a some editing. It didn’t need to be an hour and a half (roughly). It probably could have been about 15 minutes shorter and been a little tighter and had a nicer flow. So there is that. Others have said that the lighting seemed dark and things were hard to make out. Your Maximum Leader somewhat agrees with this assessment. He would have preferred more light and definition to what he was watching, but he figured this critique is born of two things. The first would be to simulate that all the action is happening during the darkness of the winter made more insidious by the Night King. The second factor was budgetary. Dark and obscured likely costs less to make. And HBO has to squeeze the cash out of this cash cow which has only thee more episodes. Your Maximum Leader also admits that he has grown tired with all the “confusion of battle” that seems to be much of the rage now when choreographing fights. There is a lot of chaos and rapid cutting. The episode wasn’t as bad as many, but the confusion of the battlefield doesn’t have to be honestly depicted on screen. Your Maximum Leader’s biggest item, from a technical point, is that this episode really could have used some editing…

Your Maximum Leader will broadly agree with many items that you’ve likely already read about on the interwebs or spoken about with friends. They are (in no particular order): Don’t seek shelter in a crypt when your enemy reanimates the dead; the whole “use Bran to lure the Night King to you” plan seems irrelevant (couldn’t the Night King have just flown in on his zombie dragon and blasted them from the air?); Arya had a great night (she sleeps with Gentry AND kills the Night King in 24 hours); and plenty of significant characters died (but not as many as one would have expected to die).

So here are some more thoughts in short paragraph form.

Some people seem to want to know why the Night King didn’t turn Arya into a wight the moment he grabbed her by the neck. Your Maximum Leader thinks that the whole “change into a wight” power is one that the Night King has to actively choose to “activate” (for lack of a better term). One can’t imagine that everything he touches just gets reanimated from the dead? He isn’t a zombie creating version of King Midas after all. Every time he raises his arms up from his sides to put on his tunic and armor he doesn’t automatically reanimate anything dead within a mile of where he’s standing. This point bothers some, but doesn’t bother your Maximum Leader.

The aerial dragon combat could have benefited from a technical adviser. Apparently Dany and Jon never spoke strategery when it came to fighting the Night King on his dragon. They should have had been operating in tandem, but with a fair distance between them, at a high altitude to get a better angle of attack on the Night King. Actually, the dragon fighting was your Maximum Leader’s favorite part of the episode.

The Dothraki died stupid. Every last one of them.

Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how Jaime Lannister survived. The one handed knight was able to fight off the myriad dead with is bad hand… Seems improbable.

Your Maximum Leader figured a few more deaths would be visited upon significant characters… That being said…

All hail Lyanna Mormont! Lady Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island. By the Old Gods and the New, she was your Maximum Leader’s favorite minor character in the show of late. He is sorry to see her shuffle off her mortal coil. She did not die stupid. She died like a badass. Your Maximum Leader may have noticed the room in which he was watching was dusty when she died. But she died the way you would want to see her go. Fighting until the end and getting all stabby through the eye of the zombie giant. Frankly, your Maximum Leader would have like to see Lady Mormont becoming the Warden of the North in the reign of the restored Targaryens. Or getting to be Lady of Bear Island - and Lady of the Twins (since House Frey seems to be gone). Your Maximum Leader is so much more fond of the Lyanna Mormont of the TV show than the quiet, sad, Lady Lyanna of the novels. Your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled mylan cap in Bella Ramsey’s direction for the great job she did bringing Lyanna Mormont to life (and then death) in the show. Bravo!

Speaking of Mormonts, your Maximum Leader wasn’t as sad to see Jorah Mormont go. His jig was up. Perhaps his death will temper be a lesson to Dany as she progresses towards the Iron Throne - which your Maximum Leader hopes she will occupy soon.

One final note… Arya jumping out of no where in her attack on the Night King seemed like something out of an 80’s action flick. It just happened. There was no foreshadowing of it. No set up. It just happened. It seemed a bit lame on the one hand, but sort of cool at some other level.

There are all the disjointed thoughts for now. Perhaps your Maximum Leader will write shortly on weightier matters…

Carry on.

Game of Thrones

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has had many things to do over the past few days. He’s delayed in doing is civic duty to and paying the price of civilisation until this weekend. He figured that he’d wind up, due to tax code changes owning some money. He did in fact, but the damage wasn’t as bad as he’d imagined. So there is that.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader was a young lad when President Ronald Reagan got his historic tax cuts passed in the 1982. He was still a young man when Reagan had to increase taxes in 1986. He thought of himself as a supply-sider and tax cutter. But now he finds himself an older man and he wonders if we are not on the left side of the Laffer Curve and not on the right. He had no doubt in the 1980s that we were on the right side of the Laffer Curve and cuts would increase revenues. Of course, we never cut spending, so at some level it didn’t really matter at all what side of the Laffer Curve we found ourselves. But now, in 2019, your Maximum Leader is pretty sure that insofar as tax rates are concerned, the United States is on the wrong side of the collection curve. But, just as it was true in the 1980s, it doesn’t matter because both parties are happy to spend our nation to oblivion.)

Your Maximum Leader was able to oversee (personally) the mowing of the grass in front of the Villainschloss. This may not seem like a big thing. But the weather has been warm and rainy and the grass (see: weeds) has been growing like crazy. Your Maximum Leader spend more time than expected mowing grass. It was tall and wet. It was slow going. So that wasn’t too fun.

But the real object of the weekend will be the premier of the final season of Game of Thrones on HBO tonight. Your Maximum Leader, and millions of others, have been waiting for it. Over the years that your Maximum Leader has read the books, watched the show, and waited for more books. He is now feeling much more sanguine about the story than he was a few years ago. A few years back, he would have been upset if any character other than Danerys Targaryen ended up on the Iron Throne. But now, he is okay with any number of characters ending up on that prickly chair. He is okay with it because he’s come to the point that the story will be what it will be, and nothing he does will change that. Indeed, he is pretty sure that we will now have two different stories to talk about. There will be the story from the TV show and the book story. Your Maximum Leader thinks they will be wildly divergent now. As he understands it, the show producers and story creator (David Benhoff and D.B. Wiess on the show side and George R.R. Martin as the creator) had a big talk. Martin shared the arc of the story (and its ending) with Benhoff and Wiess so that they could do the show. Benhoff and Wiess have now done their show, soon it will be in the books and over. But, as we know, the books are still far from done. Your Maximum Leader thinks that one of the reasons for the delay is that George Martin is re-writing the crap out of the story just to be difficult. He may have had a story arc in mind when he started, and when he shared it with Benhoff and Wiess; but now he’s changing it just because he can. That leaves your Maximum Leader thinking that he is just going to live with whatever is produced in both formats and enjoy it as much as he can.

So he’s got that going for him.

Now your Maximum Leader is going to sign off and have a cocktail. It has been a long weekend.

Carry on.

Smollett

Greetings, loyal minions. This whole Jussie Smollett situation should fill you with the wide range of emotions and thoughts. To recap: Jussie Smollett, a gay, black actor, claimed to have been assaulted in Chicago by two men. During the assault he had a noose thrown around his neck, a liquid poured on him, and was beaten. The men, Smollett claimed, were wearing “Make American Great Again” caps. In the ensuing days and weeks (it seems like weeks - but time has taken on a peculiar quality since 2017 it seems) two camps appeared. The first camp, mostly populated by liberals/progressives, stood by Smollett and decried how racism and racial hatred and racially-based hate crimes were a symptom of “Donald Trump’s America.” The second camp, mostly populated by conservatives/right-wingers, stood back and said “something doesn’t seem right with this story.”

As it seems to be turning out, there is something wrong with the story and those of the second camp I just described seem to be justified. According to news reports coming out of the Chicago Police Department, the two (black) men (immigrants from Nigeria it seems) were paid by Smollett to assault him. The hired assailants bought rope and plain red hats to carry out the staged attack. Smollett is, apparently, sticking by the story that he’s maintained publicly (including in an interview with Robin Roberts on ABC). Slowly the facts of the case seem to be going is a much different direction.

I am much more active on the Twitter than here. (@maximumleader) But I steered away from this story. I was shocked when it was first reported. I continue to be horrified by the racially charged nature of so many crimes and incidents in America over the past two years. It seemed plausible that such an assault could have happened. But as the facts started to ebb out I started to be sceptical. The attackers were allegedly black men. It seemed a little implausible that there would be two black Trump supporters in Chicago looking to assault another black man. Then there was the absence of CCTV footage. There were questions about the police getting to examine Smollett’s cell phone. There were questions… Now it seems like it was all a terrible contrivance.

The real tragedy here is that this whole incident further widens the already widening chasms between the various factions within America. Liberals are rending their shirts and covering themselves with ash while saying how this will affect how society will view future (and real) claims of racist attacks. And they are right to do so. A false claim, and even worse - a staged incident - does, I believe, cause people to be more cautious and sceptical of future claims by future victims. It is a society-wide expansion of the boy who cried wolf - but writ over a whole class of crimes and victims. Conservatives on the other hand are pointing fingers at liberals and especially the media and cheering themselves for being vindicated. They, rightly, claim that the whole incident was never investigated seriously when the claims were first made. The media believed because they wanted to believe because it fit the narrative they want to advance. I believe that this is also pretty true. If you are inclined to look for evidence of racism and racial hatred everywhere you aren’t going to question a big story like this one when it comes along.

All in all, I’m willing to go with the pox on both your houses. Our age of social media and instant commentary on anything has lead us to become reflexively partisan on just about any issue. It also give everyone the ability to comment in real time on anything. There is no time to gather facts. (NB: as if facts matter. Echo chambers of social media don’t appreciate facts that don’t fit the narrative. It is appearances that matter.) There is no time, and frankly no desire, to learn the facts and use them to create an intelligent opinion. As a result, the echo chambers resound. The divides harden. The sides grow further apart.

I don’t mind disagreement. But I want to encourage discussion of a serious sort. That being said, our society doesn’t value serious discussion and calm acceptance of differences. So the whole Smollett thing will just go down as another hoax that sets to wear down the bonds of civil society.

Carry on.

A Longer Than A Tweet Thought on the Oscars

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader did not watch the Academy Awards last night. In fact, he doesn’t watch award shows. He is more than satisfied (no really much more than satisfied) to read tweets about the show and catch a few highlights the next morning. That is about all he can take. Some highlights.

This weekend was all about Oscar though at the Villainschloss. There was some Oscar show on CNN that Mrs. Villain insisted on watching in full. Then she decided that the Oscar telecast was going to be more interesting than Mythbusters re-runs and last week’s episode of “The Americans.” Since your Maximum Leader wasn’t interested in watching (the generally fabulous) Neil Patrick Harris, et. al., doing their Hollywood thing, he retired to his bed and watched Mythbusters re-runs. (He occasionally checked Twitter to see what had been awarded.)

Well… This morning, Mrs. Villain was commenting on the various winners and production numbers. Then she threw out there “You know, I don’t understand why actors think they can lecture everyone on political stuff when they are up there getting their award. What qualifies them as experts on anything other than make-believe?” Your Maximum Leader responded that not wanting to be lectured on politics/current events/anything by actors is generally one reason why he doesn’t watch award shows. But he did note that actors are entitled to the same free-speech rights as the rest of us and can exercise it when they feel it is appropriate. But just because they have that right doesn’t mean they are more (or less) qualified to opine on an issue than anyone else. Sadly people may give disproportionate weight to the opinion of a celebrity because of the renown of the person making the comment. Your Maximum Leader is more likely to give more weight to the opinions of Elizabeth Warren on wage inequality than he would to those comments by Patricia Arquette; but both are welcome to comment on the issue.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader didn’t watch the show. But this week he is going to watch two nominated films. (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman.)

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

A quickie

Greetings, loyal minions. You Maximum Leader says something about a rebirth of his blog, and then takes a month off. What a lousy bastard your Maximum Leader can be…

Anyhoo…

Some quick thoughts for those of you who might be stopping in…

As some of you know, this is the year when your Maximum Leader’s home state, the great Commonwealth of Virginia, holds elections for statewide office. In all the years since he’s been eligible to vote, your Maximum Leader has generally been pleased enough (or even downright excited) by the quality of candidates for statewide office. He’s said it here before, all in all, he’s pleased with his state government. Well… The past few years his level of pleasure at his state government has decreased somewhat. But this year he must say without equivocation, the choices he has for statewide office are just terrible. Let him even go further. (Cover your eyes ye of low tolerance for bad language!) The choices he’s got for Governor suck big donkey dicks. Terry McAulliffe, the Democrat and former Clinton hack, is a miserable piece of shit. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican and current Attorney General of VA, is a strident warrior in the culture wars who is a bit too strident for your Maximum Leader. Basically, your Maximum Leader can’t think of a pleasant thing to say about either man running for the chief executive office of his great Commonwealth. So as it is, he’ll be voting for Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for Governor. In the Lt Governor’s race your Maximum Leader will vote for Ralph Northam, a Democratic state senator and doctor, over Earl Jackson, a Republican and minister. Northam is a fairly liberal Democrat with whom your Maximum Leader doesn’t share many political views. Jackson is cut from a similar cloth as Ken Cuccinelli. Your Maximum Leader just can’t vote for him… And then there is the Attorney General’s race. Your Maximum Leader will vote, gladly, for Mark Obenshain, a Republican state senator and scion of a prominent Virginia political family, over Mark Herring, a Democratic state senator. Further down the ticket your Maximum Leader will continue to vote for (as he has in elections past) Bill Howell and Richard Stuart. Both are Republicans who represent your Maximum Leader. Howell is also Speaker of the House of Delegates and a very influential man in state government. Both Howell and Stuart are good people, which helps when casting a ballot. Further down the ticket… Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure for whom he’ll be voting for Supervisor and School Board member. He is leaning towards Meg Bohmke for Supervisor as she has been endorsed by many friends and acquaintances of your Maximum Leader. But endorsements aside, Bohmke has been on the School Board and hasn’t seemed to do too much in that role. So, there is trepidation in your Maximum Leader’s mind on this one. Your Maximum Leader will also vote for Scott Hirons for School Board. Mrs Villain taught the Hirons kids in school and thinks very highly of Scott.

So there it is… All your Maximum Leader’s endorsements for voting in Virginia this year… As if you all care…

In other news…

How about this Government shutdown? Well… A pox on all the Houses (and Senate and President). All share some level of blame for what is a bad situation. Your Maximum Leader firmly believes that there is a proper role for government. He also believes that government is a necessity for civilized society. The primary role of the government is to function and execute it’s role. Now your Maximum Leader takes a view towards very limited government at the federal level. He does believe that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or whatever the hell you want to call it is a bad idea, is poorly executed, and doesn’t make a lot of economic sense. But really… The law was passed. A few elections have occurred since passage. And the Supreme Court of the US has made initial pronouncements in favor of the law as enacted. Basically, that is a lot of “upholding” and not a lot “repealing.” The Tea Party faction of the Republican Caucus needs to get together and think of some other tactic on addressing this law. Shutting down the government isn’t the answer. Failing to raise the debt ceiling is not the answer. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t have high expectations for Congress. Indeed, they are very very low. But he does expect them to do ONE (and precisely 1) thing every year. That is to pass a budget. Even if the budget is “okay we’re just passing last year’s budget again without changes.” It is hard work, but it can be done. If you want a longer screed on this, send your Maximum Leader an email or tweet him (@maximumleader)

In more news…

At Professor Mondo’s suggestion your Maximum Leader has listened to a few episodes of Welcome to Night Vale. Your Maximum Leader can’t decide if he likes it or not. It is clever. But there is a quality to the narrator’s voice that puts off your Maximum Leader… He’ll probably keep listening for a while.

Like Robbo, your Maximum Leader didn’t blog much about his beloved Washington Nationals this year. He had high hopes for the team and did think they would make the playoffs. As we know that didn’t happen. Your Maximum Leader holds out high hopes for next year. He only wants his team to find a good manager and start winning. There is a lot of scuttlebutt about Cal Ripken Jr. being interested in the Nationals manager job. Your Maximum Leader pretty much agrees with Bos on Ripken for Nats manager.

Then there are the Washington Capitals… Your Maximum Leader’s hockey team are going to have a tough row to hoe to get to the playoffs in a newly minted “Metropolitan” Division in the Eastern Conference. He hopes it happens, but he wonders if the core of the team is getting a little old and the competition being a little too tough. He’ll be following closely how the season goes…

And finally… Your Maximum Leader would like to see the Los Angeles Dodger and the Boston Red Sox in the World Series… Then, being a National League guy, he would like to see the Dodgers win. But those Sox will be hard (VERY HARD in fact) to stop…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

So what’s been happening?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sure that you are out there wondering exactly what he’s been up to since he doesn’t seem to be posting much any more….

Well… This has been a rather fun summer.

Your Maximum Leader was able to spend some time with family and take some nice day trips out to various Civil War battlefields and other National Parks around Virginia. He’s spent time trying to educate his family (by lecture and visit) about the US Civil War. He is doing this mostly because of the 150th anniversary of the conflict; not out of a great love of the period. Indeed, your Maximum Leader finds the Civil War one of the least interesting things about US history. The conflict was started to defend a bad institution. It’s outcome was a foregone conclusion; and anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Indeed, the most interesting thing about the war was that it lasted as long as it did. More competent generalship by the Union would have ended the war sooner.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader and his family did get up to Massachusetts and Rhode Island this summer as well. We visited family and various historical sites in both states. He did a lot of sight-seeing in Boston and Newport. Also, while in Rhode Island he had the somewhat sad task of burying his loving wife’s grandmother. As you might recall, “great nannie” died earlier this year at the age of 105. We arranged for a good time for as many of the family to get together to celebrate her life and to bury her in the family burying ground.

There is something comforting about the very phrase “family burying ground.” Great nannie is the latest of many generations to be laid to rest in a good-sized plot in Warwick, Rhode Island. Who knows, perhaps one day Mrs Villain and your Maximum Leader will end up there?

NB: What is interesting is that a few yards away from Mrs. Villain’s family burial plot is the plot of a number of people who share your Maximum Leader’s family name. That name is not a common one, so it was a little shocking to see so many gathered together in death in one place. Your Maximum Leader is unaware of a family connection between these people in Rhode Island and his own family (who hail from Pennsylvania actually); but there may be one. (He was asked at the funeral if he was related to the people buried there, to which he can only answer that he doesn’t know.) Also vaguely interesting is the fact that one of his maternal cousins is doing some genealogical research on that side of the family and is discovering what, for the 19th Century, seems to be a disproportionate number of college professors and murderers in the family. It seems that the men were either educated pillars of their communities, or desperate killers fleeing the law and responsibility.

Anyhoo… How about your Maximum Leader share some photos of his trip…

Lobstah Roll
A lobstah roll your Maximum Leader had upon arriving in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is about 2-3 bites in.

Graves of British Soldiers at Concord
This is the grave of the British soldiers killed at the Old North Bridge in Concord, MA.

The Old North Bridge in Concord MA
Here is the Old North Bridge itself. Site of the “Shot Heard ’round the World.”

The Minuteman
Here is the statue of the Minuteman at the Old North Bridge.

Your Maximum Leader also spent some good time in Boston. Sadly, many of the photos there capture your Maximum Leader’s family - and in keeping with his long-standing tradition of not showing the members of his family… Most will not be shown here. But here are some others…

Boston from Fenway
Here is the Boston Skyline viewed from Fenway Park before batting practice.

Zen garden at Boston Museum of Fine Arts
The zen garden at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Santarpio’s pizza
A photo of some of the best pizza on the planet. It can be found at Santarpio’s in East Boston. Damn that stuff is good.

First Public School in US
If you walk the “Freedom Trail” you come upon this marker commemorating the location of the first public school in the nation. As your Maximum Leader believes that education is the only hope for civilization and democracy (and Mrs Villain is a teacher) this was a big deal for us to see.

Old Mass State House
Your Maximum Leader loves the contrast between old and new in this shot of the Old Massachusetts State House.

Old North Church
One if by land. Two if by sea. (And if you don’t know what your Maximum Leader is talking about, please stop now and google it.)

Old Ironsides
Old Ironsides. The oldest commissioned warship afloat. (NB: Your Maximum Leader will note that HMS Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. Sadly, Nelson’s flagship is in drydock and not afloat…)

Now skipping on to Rhode Island…

Riverpoint Congregational Church, W Warwick RIThis is the Riverpoint Congregationalist Church in W. Warwick, Rhode Island. Mrs. Villain’s great-great-grandfather helped to found this church after the Civil War. It is where her Grandmother’s memorial service was held.

After the memorial service the whole family went to Point Judith and the town of Galliee. There we ate at George’s. George’s has been an institution since the ’40s and we always make it a point of going when we are anywhere nearby… Here are more gratuitous food shots…

George’s of Galliee, RI
Here is George’s…

Stuffed Lobstah
Here is the stuffed lobstah your Maximum Leader had for dinner. It is stuffed with shrimp and scallops and slathered in lobster bisque.

Maximum Leader eating
Here is your Maximum Leader stuffing his fat face with all of the stuffed lobstah. If you happen to go to George’s in the near future; you might see this photo on the wall as you go in.

Mrs. Villain & Wee Villain
Violating his rule (somewhat) here is a nice image of Mrs. Villain and the Wee Villain enjoying the sunset at Point Judith, RI and watching the Block Island Ferry head off from the port.

Marble House
While in Newport, RI, your Maximum Leader visited Marble House…

The Breakers
He also visited The Breakers…

And the last thing he did before heading back to Ole Virginny… Was to buy lobsters to steam at home off of one of these lobster boats…
Lobster Boats

Well… That is about it… Your Maximum Leader might blog more in the next few months. He says this because he’ll be spending more time in front of his computer at home… He’ll explain why in another post… Until then…

Carry on.

What’s this? A quiz!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader thanks you if you are still checking in at this moribund corner of the interwebs. So, while catching up on reading other blogs and stuff he sees this quiz over at Professor Mondo’s place. Having seen the quiz, he couldn’t resist.

What type of D&D character is your Maximum Leader?

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Cleric (6th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-11
Dexterity-12
Constitution-13
Intelligence-15
Wisdom-17
Charisma-14

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Clerics act as intermediaries between the earthly and the divine (or infernal) worlds. A good cleric helps those in need, while an evil cleric seeks to spread his patron’s vision of evil across the world. All clerics can heal wounds and bring people back from the brink of death, and powerful clerics can even raise the dead. Likewise, all clerics have authority over undead creatures, and they can turn away or even destroy these creatures. Clerics are trained in the use of simple weapons, and can use all forms of armor and shields without penalty, since armor does not interfere with the casting of divine spells. In addition to his normal complement of spells, every cleric chooses to focus on two of his deity’s domains. These domains grants the cleric special powers, and give him access to spells that he might otherwise never learn. A cleric’s Wisdom score should be high, since this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Gods. It has been forever since he’s done one of these. It felt good to do it too.

Your Maximum Leader isn’t too surprised about his class. He had hoped to be a wizard (and indeed he came close), but a cleric is pretty good.

Carry on.

Who’s Grinchy?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader asks you, who’s grinchy?

whosgrinchy.jpg

The one on the left is much more grinchy.

Carry on.

And now for a public service announcement

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has had this tune running through his mind (and off his lips) for a few days now… For your earworm pleasure:

In case you were wondering about the end of the video. That is a public service from the Melbourne (Australia) Metro system.

If only WAMTA here in DC could be so ingenious.

Carry on.

Rabbit

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader cries out “rabbit” in your general direction. (As it is the first of the month…)

Your Maximum Leader had a lovely day this past Saturday. Due to heavy rains in the area on Friday night, all of the baseball infields were too wet for play. Thus, the Wee Villain’s baseball game was cancelled. As it was an otherwise glorious day, your Maximum Leader took the Wee Villain, Villainette #2 and your Maximum Leader’s sainted father up to Washington DC. While there we walked around to all the monuments/memorials at the western end of the National Mall. We visited the Jefferson Memorial, the George Mason Memorial (which your Maximum Leader didn’t know even existed - and he must add it looks like it needs some TLC), the FDR Memorial (which he’d never visited before - and he likes), the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial (another first - and the statue is out of proportion to the site and location - your Maximum Leader wishes another design had been selected), the Lincoln Memorial (the greatest of them all), the Vietnam Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the memorial for the signers of the Declaration of Independence and finally the WWII Memorial. It was a lot of walking on a beautiful day. A great time was had by all.

When not walking our nation’s capital, your Maximum Leader was watching baseball. He’s been waiting for the Nationals to clinch the National League East. It has not yet happened. He thinks tonight might be the night…

By the way Nats fans… Did you see Michael Morse’s “phantom home run” from Saturday’s game? Your Maximum Leader is having trouble getting the embed video on this site, but you can visit this site to see the “reset swing and home run.” In all your Maximum Leader’s years of watching baseball, he doesn’t recall seeing anything like this.

Anyhoo…

Longtime readers of this space might remember Smallholder. Smallholder is our resident farmer/history geek. Well… Smallholder called over the weekend to notify your Maximum Leader that he had won an essay contest sponsored by the Ladies Association of Mount Vernon. The theme of the essay was how George Washington’s farm practices were still relevant to the modern American farmer. The upside of winning this contest is that Smallholder is going to get a weekend at Mount Vernon geeking it out with the staff archeologist, staff archivist and such. Your Maximum Leader admits he is envious of Smallholder’s luck (and talent) in winning this cool weekend. Your Maximum Leader doffs his bejeweled mylan cap in Smallholder’s direction…

And finally…

Your Maximum Leader has the (half) season finale of Doctor Who on the ole DVR. He can hardly wait to watch it. He thinks he’ll be a little sad as he knows this is the farewell to the Ponds. And your Maximum Leader (who is not fond of gingers on the whole) is very (VERY) fond of Amy Pond (played by the lovely Karen Gillam). Your Maximum Leader doesn’t want the Angels to get Amy…

Carry on.

Once again Hollywood, You’re Welcome

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what is up with his attendance at the cinema this year. He’s seen lots of films. Off the top of his head he can remember that he’s seen: John Carter, Dark Shadows, The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus and (yesterday) The Dark Knight Rises. That is probably more movies in seven months than he’s seen in the two prior years. (And there is a chance that there is a film or two he’s seen this year that he now forgotten.)

To recap the past film in short reviews:

John Carter - liked very much; didn’t deserve the bum rap it got.
Dark Shadows - meh. Should have decided to go full-on comedy or full-on campy horror.
The Avengers - great! Second best superhero movie ever (after The Dark Knight).
Snow White & the Huntsman - meh.
Prometheus - mostly meh. Had lots of unrealized potential.

Then there is The Dark Knight Rises. In a word, the film was great. To give an abbreviated and non-spoiler laden review… Your Maximum Leader thought that this film was a satisfactory conclusion to director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films. All your story-lines were wrapped up and everything concluded. Your Maximum Leader must agree with his best buddy Kevin that the DKR was laden with exposition. Every actor in the film had a lot of lines to deliver. They all did a fine job of it. But your Maximum Leader feels that the script could have been a little tighter. The acting was great. Your Maximum Leader was impressed by Tom Hardy’s Bane. For a character with a mask covering many of the areas of his face that humans use to register emotion (mouth, nose, chin, cheeks), Hardy was able to do quite a bit with his eyes and the rest of his body. Without giving away anything, your Maximum Leader (who’d assiduously avoided reviews and any potential spoilers) was able to figure out quite quickly who the “real” villain was in this film.

On the balance, your Maximum Leader will stand by his earlier declaration that “The Dark Knight” is the best superhero movie ever and consequently the best of this (all in all) excellent series. You will get your money’s worth from “The Dark Knight Rises” no doubt; but the film isn’t as strong as its immediate predecessor in the series.

Oh yes… Your Maximum Leader couldn’t decided if he wanted to look at Anne Hathaway or Marion Cotillard more in the film. Your Maximum Leader is warming to Marion Cotillard. She is a fine actress with an unconventional beauty.

Carry on.

June nearly gone

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is a shitty blogger. If by shitty one means “infrequent.”

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader sees on Twitter some interesting graffiti from Pompeii. “hic ego cum veni futui, deinde redei domi.” Apparently this translates as “I came here, had sex, and went home.” It tickled your Maximum Leader so he added it to the random tag lines to this site…

The month of June is nearly half spend, and this is the first post… Crazy how that works. Let’s review some of what your Maximum Leader has done recently…

He saw Prometheus Wednesday night. Your Maximum Leader’s review? Meh. Your Maximum Leader thought the pacing of the movie was fine. He says this because a frequent critique of the film he reads is that it was boring. Your Maximum Leader wasn’t bored. He thought the speed (pacing) of the film was fine (as he just wrote); but it seemed edited for time. Perhaps this is becoming a Ridley Scott thing… He makes a film. He releases the film in the cinema. Then he started amending and remaking the film until it is closer to the film he wanted to release in the first place. Your Maximum Leader could see that this would be a problem back in the 1980s (he is thinking Blade Runner specifically) but can’t imagine that Scott would be “forced” by “studio suits” to release a movie before it was (at least pretty close to being) ready. Prometheus feels like it was: 1) either rushed to meet a release deadline or 2) released with every intention of Scott working on it for another 20 years and periodically releasing new “director’s cuts” until he (one day) gets what he wants.

All in all, your Maximum Leader doesn’t think he could recommend Prometheus to you. The story was interesting, yet it felt incomplete. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t require that a film raise questions and then answer them; but he does feel as though questions that arise from the narrative be addressed in some way. Prometheus doesn’t do that.

Re-reading that last paragraph makes your Maximum Leader feel as though he should go into more detail. He doesn’t want to give out too many spoilers - in case you’ve not seen the film and plan on doing so… That said, the big open ended question of the film is “what was on the ‘engineer’s’ mind?” The ‘engineers’ are the alien race that apparently created life on Earth, and according to character exposition during the film are trying to destroy it with xenomorph creatures they are manufacturing on LV-226 (the planet begin visited by the Prometheus). Now, some other sites have speculated that the answer to the big question was given in the film by the android character, David (played magnificently by Michael Fassbender). In the film David asks why he was created by man and receives the answer “because we could” then David replies that it would be disappointing for man to travel across the galaxy to speak to their creators and receive the same answer. It is entirely plausible that the ‘engineers’ created humanity because they could; and that they would like to destroy humanity for the same reason. While that answer to the question actually amuses your Maximum Leader more than anything else, it is a weak bit of storytelling.

In other news… Your Maximum Leader is going on a cruise next week. Baltimore to Bermuda. It will be his first time on a cruise ship. He is looking forward to the trip. He expects some quiet and time to read.

Speaking of reading, your Maximum Leader broke down and bought a Kindle Fire. For a few years now a number of people have told him that he should get an e-reader. He’s resisted, until now. He opted for the Kindle Fire for the overall entertainment possibilities offered by that device. Books, movies, TV and internet. So far he is very impressed. He’s found he’s been watching some Amazon Prime streaming movies and TV shows that have entertained him very much. He’s also downloaded about 100 books that are in the public domain (some Edgar Rice Burroughs, Raphael Sabatini, Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexander Pope, Thomas Hardy, Plato and Shakespeare among others) to read. While he doesn’t believe that he’ll ever get away from real books on paper, the Kindle is a good device that serves the purpose for which it was bought.

(NB to readers: Your Maximum Leader still believes that the basic iPod Classic is the greatest piece of personal electronics in recent times.)

How about politics…

Your Maximum Leader voted in the Virginia Primaries this week. He had to vote for a Republican to take on Tim Kaine (Democrat former Governor) to see who will replace Jim Webb (D-VA) in the US Senate. Your Maximum Leader voted for George Allen. Mostly on the basis of the other choices being a Tea Partiers and likely (or possibly actually) insane. Your Maximum Leader will vote for Allen in the fall against Kaine. He hopes that the Republicans will take the US Senate. He also hopes that the Republicans will retain the US House. He further believes that President Obama will be re-elected. So we’ll get at least 2 more years of divided government. Divided government, at this point, serves no purpose other than to moderate the unchecked idiocy of the left and right. Sadly, no one is actually doing anything to address the actual issues that are most in need of solving. No party or person seems to be looking to step up and say what needs to be said either. Your Maximum Leader did read something about Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) repudiating his “no tax increase” pledge. That is a good start. Since both parties seem pathologically incapable of serious action on the debt, spending, and revenue. When Americans start to realize that our economic situation must be addressed with a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases then we might start to get politicians who will act.

Of course, getting voters to vote against their self-interests is a silly hope to hold out… Your Maximum Leader wasn’t sure what he was thinking there…

Basically we’re screwed…

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader will be going on a cruise…

Carry on.

You are welcome Hollywood.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader did something over the past weekend that he hasn’t done in decades. What you ask! What did he do? Did he pardon dwarves? Did he start construction of a huge solar shade? No… Neither of those.

He went to the cinema. Not once… But twice in one weekend.

You may suppress your audible gasps now.

Your Maximum Leader can’t recall a time since he was in college that he saw two movies, in theaters, in the same weekend.

For your information, the two films were “The Avengers” and “Dark Shadows.”

So there you go Hollywood… You should thank your Maximum Leader for shelling out his cash to see two films.

Reviews? Reviews? What did your Maximum Leader think of the films you ask.

Well… To begin with the film he saw first, Dark Shadows.

Your Maximum Leader must admit that, on the whole, he likes Tim Burton’s works. He likes the quirkiness and sometimes off-beat work. So, your Maximum Leader expected the film to be a little quirky. All in all, your Maximum Leader was a disappointed in Dark Shadows. If you’ve seen a trailer for it, you got the feeling that the film was going to be gothic humor. Sadly, if you saw the trailers, you saw most of the really funny bits. So if it wasn’t a comedy, you might think they would go for campy gothic horror (like the TV show the film is based upon). Again, sadly, this wasn’t the case either. The film couldn’t decide if it was campy gothic horror or campy gothic humor. It was just sort of campy. Your Maximum Leader, in retrospect, should have waited for the film on HBO.

The second film was The Avengers.

Your Maximum Leader should say that with the exception of Batman and Superman, he is not a big comic book action hero fan. He does believe that “The Dark Knight” is the greatest superhero move EVAH! (And it is among the best in the action movie genre.) The Avengers is the second best superhero movie evan, and a really good action movie as well. Your Maximum Leader will not have to go into great detail (because if you wanted a plot summary or serious critical review you would have looked elsewhere, like Pajiba) but he will say that people of all ages will enjoy the film. The cost of admission is money well spent.

So, there you go… Two movies, two opinions for you.

You’re welcome Hollywood. Your Maximum Leader coughed up some dough to see some films.

Carry on.

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