So what is up with this rebirth of the blog?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is sure you’re asking yourself, “Self, what has caused my Maximum Leader to start blogging again? Is this a temporary thing?”

Well… It might be temporary - one cannot tell.

But why is your Maximum Leader blogging more frequently?

One reason that is immediately apparent to your Maximum Leader… He’s spending more time in front of his home computer. Why is this? Well, it is because for the first time since the mid 1990s, your Maximum Leader is taking a college course.

Yup. Your Maximum Leader is once again a college student. A community college student to be sure, but a college student nonetheless.

You see, your Maximum Leader has a job. And in that job he needs to improve his skills at accounting. So he is taking an accounting class at the local community college.

Yeah… Your Maximum Leader is the old geezer in the class of 20 somethings. Indeed, your Maximum Leader is only 1 year younger than his instructor.

You know, his class is an interesting cross section of his community. Indeed his row in the class is it’s own little cross section. There is the middle-aged white guy (yours truly), the ambitious young manager of Indian descent who majored in marketing and needs the accounting experience to get a promotion, the single mom trying to get a degree, and the guy who wasn’t ready for college when he graduated from high school and is now getting ready.

A lot has changed in the years since your Maximum Leader was last in a college class. First off, there are computers at every work station. Hell, they are “work stations” and not “desks.” His homework is all done on-line, turned in via a web app and graded and recorded instantly. There are on-line “blackboards” and everything is in PowerPoint.

My how the world turns.

Well… There isn’t much to add about the class here. Your Maximum Leader is learning a lot (even in two weeks) and hopes to learn even more as the class progresses. He is getting the hang of homework he has to do for himself (and not to help his children with).

He is also spending more time on his computer and deciding it might be a good thing to blog some…

So there you go…

Carry on.
(Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader)

Ave Kevin!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is really happy for his best buddy Kevin, who will now be a professor at Catholic University of Daegu (S. Korea). It looks like Kevin will be shipping off to the Land of the Morning Calm in August. We will miss him here, but are happy to see him doing what he wants to do.

Carry on.

Bonjour

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maxmum Leader thinks that he’ll be writing a political tract for this space sometime this week. It looks like he might have some time to blog in the evenings this week. That is unless he is overtaken by events and has to change plans.

Today is a somewhat bittersweet day. Your Maximum Leader’s friend, Frank, who has been in a stroke-induced coma since December 23 is going to be transported today. Frank was in a hospital in Arlington, VA from the time of his stroke on. Today his parents (who reside in California) have managed to have him transported by air ambulance from DC to the Bay Area. The day is bittersweet because it means that he will be further away and hard to visit; but at the same time his care will be easier to manage for his parents. He remains in a coma with stable vital signs. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain visited Frank on Saturday to wish him safe travels. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain may, depending on time and finances, travel to California this summer to visit Frank and his family. We hope for a recovery of some sort, although signs continue to not be promising.

Did you watch the Super Bowl? Your Maximum Leader did. Indeed your Maximum Leader tried to get a Twitter meme going about #falsesuperbowlfacts. It didn’t catch on. By the way, you can follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader. Your Maximum Leader thought the game was boring until the thrilling ending. And the crop of ads wasn’t all that. In fact there were only two ads that he’d not seen before and remembered. The first was this ad that made him want to run out and buy a Fiat:

In addition to making him want to buy a Fiat, the ad also illustrated the continued coarsining of American society… The second ad was the Clint Eastwood ad for Chrysler.

This ad, as great as it was, doesn’t make him want to buy a Chrysler. Perhaps it is the dearth of hot Italian women dripping foam on their decolage.

And on a final note, the article that gives this post its title. From the Wall Street Journal, “Why French Parents are Superior.” A great (and very important) quotation:

[Yet] the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. “For me, the evenings are for the parents,” one Parisian mother told me. “My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time.” French parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves.

Your Maximum Leader believes he and Mrs Villain have done a pretty good job with our kids. They behave well in public and we’ve never had a problem taking them anywhere. They also are well behaved in the company of others. They act out at home and in private - which one would imagine is a universal condition. But the key idea of the whole article is that parents are at the “constant service of their children.” That is a concept with which many American parents seem unfamiliar.

Carry on.

Whither your Maximum Leader

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that the month of January is nearly half spent and he’s hardly blogged at all. He’d thought that he’d devote a little more time to blogging in 2012.

But fate has conspired against him.

Your Maximum Leader is not trying to elicit sympathy from any of you out there that are still reading… But…

2012 (and frankly the tail end of 2011) have not been particularly good for your Maximum Leader.

After Christmas, Villainette #2 got pretty sick and was not feeling well for a while. That was a downer during the period from Christmas to New Years.

Right after New Years your Maximum Leader’s dear father-in-law saw his doctor for some chest pains. He (father-in-law) has had some cardiovascular issues in the past and has a number of stents in various arteries around his heart. After an examination we all thought that there would be more stents inserted into arteries around father-in-law’s heart. Well… That was wrong. Upon closer examination, father-in-law required double bypass surgery. That was the bad news. The good news is that father-in-law is a model of health and vigor and has come through the surgery very well and is now recovering at home. In fact, Mrs Villain (and a fully recovered Villainette #2) are with him now to help him and mother-in-law get all settled in.

As if that was not enough…

He hardest blow has been what has happened to your Maximum Leader’s graduate school buddy and one-time roommate, Frank S.

The Wednesday after Christmas your Maximum Leader received a call from a friend. She had just been called by Frank’s father. Frank was in the hospital. Frank had had a massive stroke. Frank was in a coma. Frank’s prognosis was unclear, but likely bad.

Sadly, my friend Frank’s condition is unchanged. He has suffered massive amounts of brain damage. He is still in a coma. His prognosis is still somewhat unclear, although doctors say any recovery is highly unlikely.

Frank is 44 years old.

I last spoke to Frank over Thanksgiving weekend. We had agreed to chat in January and set a date to go and see the hoard of Saxon gold at the National Geographic Society. I was going to bring the family along and we would see the gold and then get some Indian food near Frank’s apartment in Arlington.

I have visited Frank a number of times in the past few weeks. Some days I believe he might be “aware” of my being there and talking to him. Most days I don’t know. Sadly, as I have already mentioned, it is my understanding that Frank’s condition will not improve.

So there is that…

Sorry your Maximum Leader hasn’t started off 2012 with a burst of creative output. But he doesn’t have it in him.

Carry on.

Happy New Year

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all a happy new year. He hopes that your 2012 is going better than his…

Carry on.

Not A Zombie.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is not dead. He is not an undead revenant. He was not a casualty of today’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Virginia.

No… Your Maximum Leader has been busier over the past few weeks than he can ever remember being. He’s barely had time to eat and sleep (two of his favorite activities). Blogging, which has been sparse over the past year or so, was waaaay down on the list.

Anyhoo…

Don’t you fret. Your Maximum Leader is lurking out in the ether.

Carry on.

One word for you… Apokatana

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader mused the other night, on Twitter (@maximumleader if you care to follow him) that he felt like he should own himself a sword.

Now, it is likely that this sudden urge to own a sword stems from two elements in your Maximum Leader’s person. The first is that for the past month or so he’s been reading George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire.” (NB: He is now starting book four, “A Feast for Crows.”) There are lots of swords in those books…

The second is that swords are cool. Your Maximum Leader has always loved swords. (NB: He also thinks that a sword is a handy back-up weapon to have during a zombie apocalypse.) He, at one time long past, had a cheesy replica cavalry sabre. He doesn’t know what came of it (but it is likely that it wound up being sold or given away to someone). But he has, from time to time, wanted a sword.

He doesn’t want any sword mind you, he wants a sword with character.

For a long time your Maximum Leader has been torn two ways when it comes to swords. The first way is towards Japan. Like so many others, Quentin Tarantino for example, he believes that the Japanese samurai sword is about a great as you can get in a sword. Your Maximum Leader isn’t talking about a katana that is stamped out of pot metal, chromed, and sold in a Spencer’s Gifts in a mall somewhere. He is talking about a legitimate sword, crafted by hand by folding heated metal upon itself over and over again, then hand polished. Of course a sword like that is a work of art and, sadly, way out of your Maximum Leader’s current budget.

But there is another problem with an authentic katana. (Which is the only type he’d want.) It is Japanese. Your Maximum Leader is not Japanese. He feels a little weird about investing himself in a Japanese sword…

Your Maximum Leader is of good Scottish stock. So the likely sword for him would be the claymore. Now when your Maximum Leader says “claymore” he’s thinking about a full-out medieval two-handed great sword. That is a sword that befits a Maximum Leader. The very idea of a claymore stirs the Scottish blood in your Maximum Leader.

Then again, your Maximum Leader is American. And like America, we have got to make badass stuff that is our own.

That is where your Maximum Leader’s interweb acquaintance the Amazing Ben comes in. You may know the Amazing Ben from his kick-ass blog (Badass of the Week) or either of his two fabulous books (here and here). Ben also tweets at @badassoftheweek

If you know anything at all about the Amazing Ben Thompson, you know that he knows badass forwards and back. Ben, upon reading that your Maximum Leader was thinking of swords, and was thinking about how a sword would come in handy during the zombie apocalypse, suggested that your Maximum Leader check out a website that might satisfy his yen for a sword as well as be handy to have in the zombie apocalypse.

Your Maximum Leader now suggests you go on over and check out Zombie Tools.

Your Maximum Leader is not prone to cursing on his blog… But oh fuck yeah. This is what he’s talking about. Check out the blades they sell. (Here if you need a linky to clicky).

Your Maximum Leader is completely captivated by the Apokatana. (He is also pretty psyched by the d’Capitan, but the Apokatana seems to speak to him.) See the Apokatana in action (NB: they drop the f-bomb a few times - so be careful who is listening):

Need more?

How about the guys testing out their wares on Earl the zombie cow:

Well… Now your Maximum Leader is going to have to squirrel away money to save up and get an Apokatana for himself… There just ain’t no two ways about it. He’s going to have to have one…

Unless the guys at Zombie Tools decide to make a claymore style great-sword…

Carry on.

The answer is

42.

Just like your Maximum Leader. Tomorrow that is.

Tennessee

Greeting, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to be taking his family on a road trip next month.

Your Maximum Leader and his family will be going to Graceland.

Now orginally the trip was going to be very focused on Memphis. But in light of the terrible flooding in Memphis your Maximum Leader is changing things up and spending more time in Nashville. It looks like Nashville days will be June 23 and 25. Your Maximum Leader is going to try to get to Graceland on June 24.

If you live in Tennessee and would like to possibly meet up with your Maximum Leader, drop him a line via email.

Carry on.

Busy year so far

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader’s 2011 has started out with him running around quite a bit and now feeling the need for a long night of sleep.

This week started with your Maximum Leader going out to a school function with the Villainettes on Monday night that wound up going on until 8pm. By the time we got home and got settled it was sort of late. Tuesday started very early for your Maximum Leader. You see, your Maximum Leader ran afoul of some laws regarding the speed at which one is able to operate a motor vehicle and Tuesday AM was a court hearing. (Your Maximum Leader was minimally admonished in case you care. He thanks the judge for her wisdom in deciding his case.) Then Tuesday night your Maximum Leader and Villainette #1 went and saw his beloved Washington Capitals fall in OT to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Wednesday was a late night because your Maximum Leader and Villainette #2 went to a fundraiser in DC with Cal Ripken Jr and Alex Ovechkin as the guests of honor. (More on this later he hopes - especially when he can get photos together.) Then last night your Maximum Leader trekked up to Kevin’s house to mark the 1st anniversary of the death of Kevin’s mother.

With all this running around your Maximum Leader is dragging a little bit this morning. He could use a few hours more sleep. Sleep he hopes to get tomorrow in fact.

And in the real mundane crap department… Your Maximum Leader has a lot of TV on the DVR that he’s got to get watched. About a week worth of the “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” the last two episodes of “The Walking Dead,” the last three episodes of “Burn Notice,” the last episode of “24/7 Capitals v. Penguins,” and various other stuff.

By the way… Also at that fundraiser was NBC4’s Lindsay Czarniak. After meeting her, your Maximum Leader can say that she is a charming person as well as quite pretty. He should also report that when we watch her on the news we don’t get to see her most outstanding physical asset, which are lovely legs. Your Maximum Leader thinks that she should get out from behind that desk for some reporting.

Carry on.

2011

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wishes you all a prosperous new year. He hopes that one and all of you will experience more joy than sorrow, more optimism than pessimism and that you all will be showered with blessings in 2011.

Your Maximum Leader hopes to blog more, read more and think more than he did in 2010.

Some images of the new year from around the world for your view pleasure…

From Sydney Austrailia (courtesy of the AP):
2011 New Year’s Eve Sydney

From Moscow (courtesy of the AP):
2011 New Years St Basil Moscow

From Venice, Italy:
New Year’s Eve in St. Marks

And from London, England:
2011 London New Year’s Eve

Now back to the bubbly for one more drink before bed.

Carry on.

All is made clear…. ?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was, until about 14 minutes ago, blissfully unaware of the conspiracy that exists in this nation to exterminate a certain minority group. This conspiracy is based in the public schools, churches, Planned Parenthood, the pyschiatric profession and organizations of “European” manufacture.

To elaborate on this conspiracy further your Maximum Leader presents this video (about 14 minutes in length):

Your Maximum Leader is stupified. Just when he starts to forget how insane some people are a video like this one serves to remind him of what craziness people are willing to believe.

Oh yes, one more thing… Your Maximum Leader is glad that Mr. Johnson doesn’t feel the need to subject himself to the oppression of conventional spelling or grammar in the graphics of this video.

Carry on.

Rejoice!

Greetings, loyal minons. Your Maximum Leader thought he’d have a chance to write Christmas well-wishes on ye olde bloge on Christmas Eve. Sadly, he was overcome by events and is only now getting the chance to sit in front of the computer to type out a post.

Your Maximum Leader hopes that you all had a great Christmas. It was a good Christmas at the Villainschloss. Your Maximum Leader was surrounded by family (his own, his parents, his in-laws and his sister’s family). We feasted on roast beast and yorkshire pudding. We had a wide assortment of pies. A great time was had by all.

In the bad news department, Christmas dinner was the first meal that your Maximum Leader prepared in his remodeled kitchen. It did not go off without incident. He did burn the broiled potatoes. (Some of them actually - not the whole batch. His saintly mother-in-law was able to cut of the bad parts on the burnt potatoes.) He also partially burned the second yorkshire pudding. (Again, not badly. But we had fewer crispy pieces as some was stuck to the pan.) The lesson here is that his new oven works better than his old one and he’ll have to watch things a little more closely until he figures out the peculiarities of his new oven.

Before Christmas your Maximum Leader went out to the locale cinema and saw “True Grit.” By happenstance, Turner Classic Movies showed the John Wayne “True Grit” a few days earlier. The Wayne version of the film didn’t stand up as well to a viewing as your Maximum Leader thought it would. He remembers it more fondly than it might deserve. The acting seemed a little forced in the Wayne version and your Maximum Leader got constantly annoyed by Kim Darby (who played Mattie Ross to John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn). On the other hand, the Coen Brothers did a great job on their version of the film. Yes, it was not ironic in any way (like most Coen Brothers works), but it was an adaptation of a great book. Both films have a lot to commend them. Your Maximum Leader, if forced to choose, would likely choose the Coen Brothers’ adaptation over the John Wayne vehicle. (Let’s face it, True Grit wasn’t Wayne’s finest role, it was the one they decided to give him the Oscar for since they didn’t yet have “lifetime achievement” awards.) Frankly, both films are a great way to pass a few hours.

Lest you think you’ve escaped a mention of Venice at Christmas, here is the famous porphyry of the Four Tetrarchs found on the side of St. Mark’s in Venice:
tetarchs in snow

And in keeping with his own tradition, here is “The Adoration” by El Greco:
The Adoration

Carry on.

Checking in

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been quite busy lately. There have been some major improvements going on at the Villainschloss. The improvements involve cabinets, appliances, gas lines, water lines, flooring and black granite. Yes, the Villainschloss has gotten a new kitchen. The process has been quite disruptive around the Villainschloss. In an effort to keep the stress level lower, he and Mrs Villain have been a little more permissive when it comes to time watching TV or getting on the interwebs for our brood. And since we have a new kitchen, we don’t have an additional computer. No additional computer means not lots of blogging time for your Maximum Leader. (Your Maximum Leader has been tweeting if you use the “Tweety Box” as Craig Ferguson calls it. (Follow him at twitter.com/maximumleader)

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader should have some time tonight to write. He’ll probably do some sort of lame-o Christmas post that will consist of a large graphic of an El Greco painting (as has become his habit of late).

Carry on.

Terrible news x 2

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has two terrible items to share with you.

First… Your Maximum Leader’s teenage daughter sheepishly admitted yesterday that she’d deleted “The Walking Dead” off the DVR by mistake. Your Maximum Leader was all ready to watch it last night when he couldn’t find it on the DVR. Interrogations ensued and there was a confession. Lucky for him it is on again late tonight and the DVR is primed.

Second… That same teenage daughter confessed that there will be “a bunch of cute guys in high school next year.”

Your Maximum Leader is adjusting the sights on and cleaning his guns tonight. This serves the dual purpose of getting ready for the zombie apocalypse and preparing for the “cute guys” to start coming by the Villainschloss.

Carry on.

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