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William Paul’s Brother & Stuff

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader needed to write something to move his Easter piece down some. Certainly observant Catholics and Orthodox adherents will know that we are still in the Easter season; but it is time for this small corner of the interwebs to move along.

So, Mrs. Villain wanted to do something fun for Mother’s Day. We decided the fun thing to do would be to go to Annapolis, MD for the day. Your Maximum Leader put his usual avoidance of the whole state of Maryland on hold for the day and went with the family. Indeed, it was a wonderful day all in all. The weather was bright and wonderful. The city is always pretty, and was so during our visit. It was crowded, but that is to be expected.

We didn’t have much of a plan in going. But we did have a few things that Mrs. Villain said she wanted to do. She wanted to visit the US Naval Academy and (on your Maximum Leader’s suggestion) see the gardens at the William Paca house*. We did just that. Your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain hadn’t been to Annapolis in about 15 years. Indeed, during our last visit we also walked around the grounds of the Naval Academy. Proof of this is that we have a photo of a year old Villainette #1 sitting in a flower bed near the Herndon monument. Your Maximum Leader recalls how (a pregnant) Mrs Villain carried the little Villainette into the flower bed, propped her up and stepped out of the flower bed to take the photo. He also recalls some Midshipmen looking on horror as this happened. Your Maximum Leader generally isn’t much for putting babies in well-groomed flower beds at military facilities as a matter of course. But then again, your Maximum Leader is generally in favor of letting a pregnant woman do what she wants to do within reason. And staging a photo in a flower bed didn’t seem at the time to be too unreasonable.

Anyhoo…

We took the guided tour of the Naval Academy. Our tour guide was very pleasant, but he spoke both rapidly and quietly. If your Maximum Leader were to guess, he would say that our guide was originally from Maine as well. The combination of a quick-talking, hushed-toned New Englander and a large group made it hard for us to hear all he said. Indeed, your Maximum Leader and the Wee Villain made it a point to get close and listen. Mrs Villain and the Villainettes stood near the back of the group and later complained that they only heard about 15% of what was said (and the Villainettes said they understood only about 75% of what they did hear). (NB: Apparently our New Englander relatives aren’t accented enough for the Villainettes to have “picked up” listening to and understanding the accent.)

The Naval Academy tour ends with visiting the tomb of John Paul Jones. During the tour John Paul Jones (along with other naval luminaries) was mentioned quite a bit. During the discussions of Paul Jones, your Maximum Leader had a nagging feeling in his brain that there was some sort of “connection” between Paul Jones and himself. Not an ancestral connection; but another sort of connection.

Eventually (after arriving back at the Villainschloss), your Maximum Leader went onto Wikipaedia and looked up John Paul Jones. There was the connection! John Paul Jones, before joining the fledgling Continental (soon-to-be United States) Navy, was a frequent visitor of his older brother, William Paul. William Paul was a tailor in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Your Maximum Leader lives in Fredericksburg, VA and remembered seeing the grave of William Paul in the burying ground of St. George’s Episcopal Church. He also seemed to remember that he’d once seen a historical marker on a house in town that indicated that the house was William Paul’s house.

Thus started your Maximum Leader’s little “John Paul Jones” kick. Your Maximum Leader walked by St George’s and saw William Paul’s grave (embellished as it is now by “admirers” of his younger brother). He also walked on down to 501 Caroline Street in Fredericksburg and saw the plaque indicating that the house was that of William Paul and was where John Paul Jones stayed during his frequent visits to Fredericksburg.

Then your Maximum Leader decided he needed to know more about our nation’s first great naval hero, so he logged onto The Facebook and tried to bug our friend Robbo to see if he could recommend a biography of Paul Jones. Ultimately, your Maximum Leader went with “John Paul Jones: A Sailor’s Biography” by Samuel Eliot Morison. Your Maximum Leader is a fan of Morison and figured that this Pulitzer winning biography couldn’t be bad. Indeed, it is not disappointing your Maximum Leader. He is about a third of the way through and enjoying it very much.

So, there you have it. Your Maximum Leader’s (tenuous) connection to John Paul Jones.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader would have liked to have had the money when the William Paul house was last on the market. It was purchased for $150,000 a few years back. It is currently undergoing some restoration. Although he isn’t sure that he would want to own a nearly 300 year old house, it would have been cool and had some story value…)

Moving along to the other “stuff” mentioned in the header of this post…

Well… There isn’t much other stuff that your Maximum Leader is inclined to blog about. The day is beautiful and he might take his book and read outside for a little while. Thanks to the many inches of rain that has fallen upon this area in the past few weeks, the pollen isn’t as bad as it could be. On the other hand, the Villainschloss lawn has gone to seed. Literally, the grass has grown tall enough to go to seed. This is because your Maximum Leader’s lawn mower is in the shop and awaiting new blades. The old blades haven given up the ghost after 11 years of useful service. Thankfully, replacing the blades is all that was needed since the Honda engine is going strong and will likely give another 11 years of useful service.

Perhaps there is another post loitering around in your Maximum Leader’s brain that he will let fall out into the ether…

Until then…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

* - By the way, the gardens at the William Paca House were past their prime. One imagines that in a few weeks they will be bouncing back with some more flowering plants. Apparently we visited during the in-between time…

Triduum

The Resurrection of Christ by Rembrandt Van Rijin

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is writing on his blog on a Saturday afternoon. Holy Saturday as a matter of fact. What are the odds of that happening? He would have said very low until he actually started writing… Here is a Holy Triduum brain dump.

So today is the final day of the Holy Triduum. Your Maximum Leader has been (so far) and will continue (barring the unexpected) to celebrate the Holy Triduum. He attended Mass on Holy Thursday (the Feast of the Last Supper) and Good Friday (The Passion of Our Lord). He plans on going to the Easter Vigil Mass tonight (The Resurrection of Our Lord).

Given that your Maximum Leader has pretty much failed at all that he resolved to do this Lenten season; he has been acutely aware of what has been going on during the Triduum. It is as though he feels that by being EXTRA good these three days he’ll somehow make up for being a lazy arse for all of Lent. But by being conscious and aware in the moment during the previous two days has lead him to make two observations. The first is that he is profoundly discomforted at both the Holy Thursday and Good Friday Masses. The second is that he does truly love the Easter Vigil Mass.

Allow your Maximum Leader to expand on the first point. The discomfort that your Maximum Leader has during the Holy Thursday mass is twofold and in both instances relates to the extraordinary event of that Mass. The event is, of course, the washing of feet by the priest. The first bit of discomfort is just your Maximum Leader having a thing about people touching his feet. He doesn’t care for it at all. He doesn’t want his feet to be touched. In the same way that he really dislikes massages, he dislikes touching of the feet. So to watch someone wash the feet of someone else sorta puts your Maximum Leader off a little bit.

Then there is the fact that the priest is washing the feet of a parishioner/someone. Your Maximum Leader understands why this happens and the theology behind it; but perhaps your Maximum Leader identifies with Peter a little too much when Peter protests having his feet washed (John 13: 8-11). Your Maximum Leader knows that this service of the priest is symbolic of the larger call to service; but it is discomforting. Your Maximum Leader believes that he would likely decline an offer to have his priest, bishop or even the Pope himself wash his feet. It would be too much for your Maximum Leader - given his feet hangup among other items.

The discomfort your Maximum Leader feels on Good Friday comes from the reading of the Passion according to Saint John. For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, on Good Friday the Passion according to Saint John is read by the priest officiant and others. Basically the Chapters 18 and 19 of the Gospel of Saint John are read in their entirety. The priest officiant reads the part of Jesus. Another person reads the “narrative” and a third (and possibly others) read all of the other spoken lines. In some cases the assembled congregation reads the lines of the “crowd.”

Since he was young this has been a difficult Mass. To have John read aloud is a very different experience than to read it to oneself. To have different voices reading aloud is more moving. At your Maximum Leader’s parish, the Passion is sung - which seems to unsettle your Maximum Leader even more. At some level your Maximum Leader’s modern sensibilities are what are disrupted by the account of the Passion. He is offended by the betrayal of Judas for money. Selling out someone for money really offends your Maximum Leader. Then the legal railroading of Jesus by the High Priest. Your Maximum Leader has something of a legalist mindset himself and to use the law to an unjust end offends him as well. (NB: Your Maximum Leader understands that “the law” in almost any context is not the same as “justice.” That will have to be a discussion for another time…) Then there is the whole interaction with Pilate. Of all of the parts of the Passion this one affects your Maximum Leader the most. Of all the actors in this story the one your Maximum Leader identifies with the most is Pontius Pilate. He couldn’t tell you why, but he does. Pilate tries and tries to do the “right” thing; but is blocked at every maneuver from doing what he wants to do. He tries to get the crowd to ask for Jesus’ release; but the Sanhedrin has control of the crowd. He tries to get Jesus to say something incriminating in order that Jesus’ execution would be more justified. But Jesus doesn’t give him any room to move. He is cornered. What makes this passage all the more emotional for your Maximum Leader is the knowledge that the Romans (by the by) were not averse to executing people to begin with. The list of capital offenses was long. The Romans liked to keep order and strict enforcement of the law (and required executions) was good for Roman rule - particularly in a difficult province like Judea. So the actions of Pontius Pilate seem so extraordinary as to be disturbing. It is hard for your Maximum Leader to wrap his brain around the idea that a Roman Governor would actively try to NOT execute someone that the locals WANTED to be executed (and thus keep peace and order) unless the Roman Governor was absolutely positive that the person was undeserving of execution. Pilate is a sad figure to your Maximum Leader. He imagines Pilate as a world-weary man who is looking to keep the peace in a hostile environment. From what little your Maximum Leader knows of Pontius Pilate outside of the context of the Bible only reinforces your Maximum Leader’s opinion that Pilate was forced into the execution of Jesus. Your Maximum Leader has a great deal of empathy towards Pilate in the Gospel of John. The empathy is rooted in a feeling that Pilate himself felt trapped and was left with no recourse but what he did.

(NB: Your Maximum Leader, while he is expressing sympathy for Pontius Pilate will go a little further and say that he has always wondered why Pilate’s name remains in the Nicene Creed. Is it REALLY so important that the authority underwhich Jesus was crucified be recalled so permanently?)

Between Pilate asking rhetorically “What is truth?” and the washing of his hands; your Maximum Leader gets pretty worked up about the Passion.

Then there is the very language of the Gospel that discomforts your Maximum Leader… The language of two words: The Jews. The Jews cried out. The Jews wanted Barabbas. The Jews wanted Jesus dead. The Jews did it all. Your Maximum Leader is not an anti-Semitic guy. If anything your Maximum Leader is a pro-Semitic guy. So the language of the Gospel of John makes your Maximum Leader’s skin crawl. He ponders the persecution of the Jewish people throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. He thinks of the Inquisition. He thinks of the Holocaust. All because of John repeated “The Jews” over and over again. For what it is worth, your Maximum Leader asks for forgiveness every Good Friday for all the anti-Semitic things ever done that were inspired by John’s Gospel.

So, there is now, in the rear-view, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Today there is the Easter Vigil.

Now many of your Maximum Leader’s fellow Catholics don’t like the Easter Vigil. It is too long according to most. He supposes that Catholics are conditioned to be done with Mass in about an hour. When it goes over an hour we must get fidgety. So, there are many Catholics that avoid the Easter Vigil Mass. Afterall, the Easter Vigil Mass has nine (9) readings, with singing from the Psalms between most. That adds time right there. Then add in that you will get baptisms and confirmations done too… In most parishes you are looking at 2 hrs minimum.

All that being said, the Easter Vigil Mass is your Maximum Leader’s absolute favorite Mass of the year. He’d never been to one until a few years back. After going to one he wondered why he’d never gone before. For all of the discomfort and angst that your Maximum Leader feels during the first two days of the Triduum; he really does feel good during the Easter Vigil. Everything good in the liturgical practice of the Catholic Church (and for that matter many of the Orthodox Churches) is present in this one service. It is uplifting and it does renew your Maximum Leader’s faith (such as it is…)

So there it is… A brain dump on the Holy Triduum…

Not normal fare exactly for this blog - as if there is a normal fare any more for this blog…

But there it is…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

Doggie inspired sadness

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is taking a brief break from his annual “rendering unto Ceasar” day of joy. During the break he went out and threw a ball for the dogs.

Yes. Dogs.

Your Maximum Leader can’t recall if he mentioned that he now has a second dog. His first dog, Maia, is 13 years old. The new dog, Bella, is about 10 months old. The circumstances of Bella’s arrival were not fortuitous. Mrs Villain announced, on the Sunday before Christmas, that she was adopting Bella and didn’t much care what your Maximum Leader had to say about it. She was then a surprised and upset when your Maximum Leader didn’t warm up to Bella and was giving Mrs Villain the cold-shoulder too. Anyway, that is past and Bella is, slowly, growing on your Maximum Leader.

Being a young’n, Bella has piles of energy and wants to play.

Being an old’n, Maia has some energy and occasionally likes to walk around slowly and sniff things.

While Bella has “livened” up Maia somewhat, Maia is still old. Maia has growing cataracts. She is arthritic. And Maia has been a little OCD for years. (NB: Not “a little OCD” in all honesty. She is very OCD. Do the point that we’ve had her on “downers” for about 5 years.)

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader was taking a break to toss a ball for the dogs to run around a little. Bella likes to run and retrieve and bound over things. Maia wants to run, but sadly cannot. When your Maximum Leader throws the ball, both dogs start towards the ball. Bella runs, accelerates and jumps. Maia takes a few steps. Then stops. Then turns and looks at your Maximum Leader with an expression that says, “I’d like to run; but it is too much.”

Sadly, this bad arthritis in Maia is probably going to be the end of her. She has trouble with stairs (so much so that we walk her around the Villainschloss outside to avoid them). She often has trouble getting up. Some nights she starts to move around and we hear her groaning as she stretches. Her time is coming. Coming quickly I fear. It is going to be very sad when it happens.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

Is this a post I see before me?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader makes two posts in two days. Think of it. It is like we are back to the halcyon days of 2004 or something…

Okay. That was a big buildup for very little payout. Your Maximum Leader apologizes in advance. (If anyone out there is reading this…)

So, your Maximum Leader forgot to note the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Hobbes last weekend. The man labeled on the right side link bar of this site as “Our Philosopher” would have turned 426 on April 5. Your Maximum Leader has not, until the very moment that he typed these words, bothered to think about the accuracy of the birthday given that it was prior to the New Style Act of 1750. Regardless… April 5th it shall be for your Maximum Leader.

Speaking of ole Thomas Hobbes… Your Maximum Leader has begun over the past years to feel he is getting more stupid. He is forgetting things he used to know. What is worse, he has a lingering knowledge that he USED to know something that he’s now unable to recall. Contemplating Hobbes’ birthday reminded your Maximum Leader that other than the “common” things that any student of history and government would recall; he’s forgotten much of the detail he used to know about Hobbes’ works. This could likely be remedied by a re-reading of Leviathan and other works. But there is some inertia or laziness that keeps him from getting motivated to do so…

This inertia has also manifested itself in your Maximum Leader’s Lenten observances. Your Maximum Leader has tried not to make a big deal of it, but he’s been doing much better at being an observant Catholic over the past years. Without trying to sound hypocritical, he’s been very outwardly observant. But there is a lot to be desired in his inner spiritual life. This Lent has been one of disappointment. Unlike many Catholics, your Maximum Leader doesn’t try to “give up” something for Lent; but rather (and the suggestion of a priest many many years ago) “DO” something that will improve and grow your faith and well-being. This year your Maximum Leader resolved to read & contemplate some of the writings of his name saint, Augustine of Hippo. The plan was to read from Augustine’s writings, then take a nice long walk to contemplate what he’d just read. Well, how many times has that pairing happened? Exactly zero times. He’s walked. He’s read (though very lightly). But the pairing has not occurred. This is a Lenten resolution that will likely have to outlive Lent in order to give your Maximum Leader a feeling of accomplishing something.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader is exceedingly pleased at how his Washington Nationals are performing out of the starting blocks of this 2014 baseball season. They have done well against the Mets and Marlins. They took 1 of 3 against the Braves with another series against the Braves (in Atlanta) coming up. He hopes they continue to be strong and get a nice cushion of wins under their proverbial belts before the middle of the season. These early wins are very valuable over 162 games.

If your Maximum Leader can find the motivation and time, he hopes to write a short essay on independence movements in Europe. It is something he’s been thinking about off and on with all the news out of Scotland, Catalonia, Venice and Ukraine…

That is all for now…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

100 Below - An Ancient Mystery Solved

Here is a 100 Below story for your reading pleasure. Inspired by recent interweb stories.

“A cup is missing.”

“What master?”

“We’re short one cup in the cabinet. Why?”

“Remember those guys in the upper room? When they left, I cleaned up the room and there was one guy there. He took a cup with him. A few days later he came back with the cup. It had dried blood on it. So I broke it and threw it into the trash pile. I’m sorry if I did wrong.”

“No,” the master said. “If it touched blood it was unclean. I’ll get another. It’s a pity it’ll not match.”

Opening Day

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is excited that it is, once again, Opening Day for baseball in America. If there is a sign that spring will be here soon and summer will soon to follow, it is that baseball is underway in these great United States (and Canada… and Australia for two games last week which shouldn’t count but do…)

So, what does your Maximum Leader think is in store for his beloved Washington Nationals this 2014 season?

Well, after last year’s disappointment he is hoping to make the playoffs this year. Indeed, if it had not been for the heartbreak in the first round of the playoffs in 2012; your Maximum Leader would not have been terribly disappointed in 2013. This is to say that he hadn’t quite expected the truly strong showing in 2012 and thus 2013 seemed like a let-down. But 2014 should be a breakthrough year.

Here are some predictions…

The Nationals will win the NL East and make the playoffs. In fact, your Maximum Leader is confident that the Nats will win more than 92 games. He thinks they could be in the 94-96 win range in fact. He believes that the Nats will win their first playoff series as well.

Beyond that, it is anyone’s guess. Your Maximum Leader will not be so bold as to predict that the Nats will triumph over the Oakland A’s and win the World Series (as Sports Illustrated predicted), but if that comes to pass it would be one of the best sports years EVAH!

Your Maximum Leader thinks that the LA Dodgers will be hard to beat this year. The major stumbling block for the Dodgers will be chemistry in their own clubhouse. Spring Training stories of team meetings and self-destructive behavior among some Dodgers (*cough* Puig *cough*) might lead one to think that the highest payroll in baseball will not be enough to bring the pennant to Chavez Ravine. (In fact the highest payroll in baseball rarely guarantees anything.) St Louis is a perennial contender and this season is no different. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure what to think about the Atlanta Braves, who are the biggest threat to the Nats in the NL East. They seem to be weaker than last season, and pitching might be shaky at the start for the Braves. That said, the NL East is not a cake-walk.

So there you go… Your Maximum Leader’s baseball prediction… He’ll hope he’s a good prognosticator…

Go Nats!

The Nat’s curly “W”

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

Call me Medici.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that according to the attached quiz thingie that he really belongs in Renaissance Italy. Not a bad period if you ask your Maximum Leader.

(NB: When your Maximum Leader went back and made his second choice on all of the questions his period changed to Elizabethan England. Again… Not shabby.)

Our friend FLG got Ancient Rome. Also not bad…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

President’s Day 2014

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that today is President’s Day. Or as he likes to call it, Washington’s Birthday. In the interest of putting something up here… Here is a partial repost of your Maximum Leader’s list of the Greatest US Presidents EVAH!

For what it is worth, the criteria for greatness listed must be restricted to their presidential careers. For example, if you wanted to claim (wrongly) that U.S. Grant was one of the greatest presidents you could not cite his Civil War record as “proof” of greatness. (However, for Grant you could cite the widespread corruption of his administration as a model for future corrupt presidential administrations.) Any reader who sends in a list will have his list published (with possible editorial commentary from your Maximum Leader).

To preview your Maximum Leader’s list, he presents his top five:

1) George Washington. The first president, and the overriding shaper of the office. He set down many of the precedents that still function today. He established the cabinet system, and gave shape to the executive branch. He set down the major goals of US foreign policy (shunning entangling alliances) which held until (arguably) the Second World War. He also flexed (for the first time) federal supremacy over the states by putting down rebellions in Pennsylvania.

2) Abraham Lincoln. He saved the Union.

3) Franklin Roosevelt. Created the modern presidency (characterized by a strong executive). He also created the modern federal government (characterized by not only supreme federal authority but by an all-intrusive federal government).

4) James Knox Polk. Your Maximum Leader has long been a torch bearer for Polk. He has always believed in the greatness of James K. Polk. Polk promised four things would be accomplished during his presidency. 1 - the Indian question in the south would be resolved; 2 - Texas would enter the Union; 3 - California would become part of the US; 4- a northern border with Canada west of the geat lakes would be fixed. Polk said if these four things were not done in his four years, he would not seek another term. During his term he: sent the army in to round up and move the Indians in the south, he faught a war with Mexico and acquired Texas, California, and other western lands. He was (thanks to British/Canadian intransigence) unable to negotiate a northern border with Canada. He refused to run for a second term, and retired. (Your Maximum Leader will also add that he died shortly after leaving office - which your Maximum Leader also thinks is a generally good thing for ex-presidents to do.)

5) Ronald Reagan. He redefined the role of the modern federal government. (If you don’t think so, look at the administration of Bill Clinton and guess again.) And he won the Cold War.

Aside: It is your Maximum Leader’s belief that Ronald Reagan will be the last true ideological president we will elect. With the 24 hour news cycle what it is (and the high level of scrutiny that candidates go through) it is so improbable that any “true believer” of any political stripe will be elected. We will be stuck with left-center, right-center, or center candidates from now on.

There you have it…

Also for what it is worth, your Maximum Leader is very distressed by President Obama trying (and so far being somewhat successful) to bypass Congress and governing by Executive Order. It is dangerous to our system of government. It is dangerous to Liberty. Sadly, this is what happens when people don’t have a concept of liberty…

Carry on.

Miscellany - A Funk for 2014

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader felt the urge to blog. So here he is. Does he have anything to write about? Does he have a cogent thought that needs to be broadcast into the ether?

No. He doesn’t.

So far 2014 is tiring. Your Maximum Leader isn’t exactly sure why, but he has a theory on why. He hasn’t been sleeping well. He’s be waking about 3:30 every morning for a week. Sometimes he’s able to get back to sleep. Other times he’s not. So that means that come 8-9pm he is really beginning to drag and feels like he needs to go to bed.

Is it aging? Could be. Is there unusual stress in his life? No, nothing out of the ordinary.

Humm… He doesn’t really know what is up. Perhaps it is seasonal.

Basically he has lots of pet theories that he’s not interested in testing…

Your Maximum Leader has been more fixated in the past few weeks with sensory experiences. Basic things. He’s been fixated on the taste of things. He’s been cooking lots of good stuff and he’s been very conscious of how it is smells and tastes. Not as much on the looks of his food. The other day he doctored up some leftovers. The plate was a mess but did it smell and taste great.

He’s also been very concerned about his own smell. Strange isn’t it? Your Maximum Leader bathes quite regularly and is, like most Americans, rather scent neutral. Of late your Maximum Leader has been using his regular soap (the absolutely fabulous Oval Soaps by Fresh) while bathing; but has been often washing his hands using some great hand-soap he was gifted. The hand-soap, and a bottle of lotion that came with it, were a very generous gift from relatives just returned from Britain. The hand-soap is Quercus by Penhaligon’s of London. The Royal Warrant on the bottle should be a clue that the stuff is pricey but good. At $30 for a 300ML bottle it is probably not going to be a regular staple of your Maximum Leader’s toiletries; but he’d like it to be. The stuff is so good that he is going to seek out the local Penhaligon’s dealer in DC and actually consider buying some Eau de Toilette of a scent that jumps out at him. He doubts he’ll go through with this little plan due to the cost of the stuff ($125 a bottle!!!). Indeed the very fact that he is considering doing this is rather shocking to him.

Perhaps it is all part of this odd funk he is in. (Emotional funk. Not odoriferous funk certainly; if anything your Maximum Leader smells fantastic.)

There isn’t much else to comment upon. At least not much that is leaping to his mind. Your Maximum Leader is going to have to make some meat sauce for dinner in a little bit. The kids wanted spaghetti with meat sauce for dinner and your Maximum Leader was happy to oblige them. He is debating with himself if he’ll make meatballs or just put the meat straight into the sauce. He’ll likely take the easy way out and put the meat in the sauce.

Anyhoo…

Your Maximum Leader will start cooking now.

He may be back later today… Or not…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader

Happy New Year!

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure when it happened, but he became an old man a while back. He became an old man when he suddenly couldn’t sleep in or stay up really late. He hasn’t started to eat dinner yet at 4:30 in the afternoon; but it is bound to happen soon.

So here it is New Year’s Eve and it is only about 8:20pm (Eastern Standard Time) and he is already contemplating sleep. Since it is already after midnight in London (GMT of course) he considers it to be New Year’s Day already. Then again, from the point of view of Catholic liturgical practice, it was New Year’s Day at sundown. Speaking of the Roman Catholic Church, your Maximum Leader must be at church in the morning at 7am. That is another reason to get to bed…

Anyhoo…

Happy New Year to you all.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader.

On earth peace to those on whom His favor rests. 2013.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader bids you peace this Christmas.

Your Maximum Leader has just returned from going to Christmas Eve service with family at the Presbyterian Church in town. It was their children’s service. We have gone for many years, since the kids were very little in fact. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure we’ll be going to this particular service for much longer, as the kids -for whom the service is tailored - are growing.

There will be some last minute prep for Christmas tomorrow. Gifts to be wrapped and food to be prepped. Then it will be off to bed. Your Maximum Leader is scheduled to be a Lector at his Catholic Church tomorrow at 7 am. When Mass is finished, it will be home for breakfast and gift opening. Then your Maximum Leader’s mother, father, sister and sister’s family will come down for dinner. Dinner is, as always thanks to Mrs Villain and her slavish devotion to Christmas tradition, roast beef, yorkshire pudding, and an assortment of sides. One year your Maximum Leader would like to cook a goose. Or at least a ham… But he fears it is not to be. He can change up meals at all sorts of holidays, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are sacrosanct.

As is traditional here, your Maximum Leader will leave you with “The Adoration” by El Greco and a passage from the Gospel of Luke.

The Adoration by El Greco

And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

Peace and good will to you all.

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

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.

The Next Villainschloss

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has found the plans for the next Villainschloss. Thanks to Allplans.com.

It is the Darien II Castle House Plan. Clicky here to see the page.

For you too lazy to click, here is a stolen image…

AllPlans.com Darien II Castle House - Scottish Castle House Pla

With a few modifications, it would perfectly suit his needs…

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

Positively Orwellian

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has deceived you. He deceit is that he’s led you to this post with a misleading title. You might think that he is going to rant about some element of Obamacare or other political item in a way that will make them out to be Orwellian.

That is not so.

It turns out that our bloggy friend Professor Mondo links to a website called “I Write Like” which attempts to take a piece of submitted writing and tell you what writer your writing is most like.

After submitting his short fiction piece “The Commissar” the web site told your Maximum Leader that he wrote like George Orwell.

Other blog writing samples came out predominately as Cory Doctorow.

All in all, your Maximum Leader would be very pleased with himself if he did, in fact, write in a style similar to Orwell. Your Maximum Leader is fond of Orwell’s style and many of his works. Sadly, your Maximum Leader has never read any Cory Doctorow. Thus, he can’t comment on the “I Write Like” analyzer’s efficacy on his other writings. Perhaps your Maximum Leader should pick up some Doctorow and read a bit.

Thanks for the neat link Professor! (He writes while doffing his bejewelled myllan cap in the Professor’s direction.)

Carry on.

(Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter: @maximumleader)

Triumphant (+208 years)

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader now posts for your viewing pleasure his annual tribute to Lord Nelson and the hearty Tars of the Royal Navy - the Victors of Trafalgar.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will be lifting his glass today to toast Admiral Lord Nelson and the hearty tars of the Royal Navy as he celebrates the 208th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

On this day in 1805, Lord Nelson led the fleet into combat against the combined French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar. By the end of the day the Franco-Spanish force was destroyed or driven to port. Any hope Napoleon had for invading Britain was dashed that day. The battle also resulted in about 100 years of complete naval supremacy by Britain over the seas of the world.

The late and very lamented hero of the hour:

Lord Nelson.

Nelson’s plan called for the fleet to be divided into two columns. The two columns would be sailed (under tremendous fire) into the Franco-Spanish line in a way that would bisect that line in two places.

Before the battle Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, flew the following signal:

England expects that every man will do his D - U - T - Y.

And over the course of the day, every British sailor did his duty.

During the course of the fighting Nelson was killed by a sniper.

Nelson’s body was preserved in rum and returned to a joyful nation who interred the hero in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Nelson’s Tomb St.Paul’s

Your Maximum Leader hopes that all you Anglophiles (and lovers of the fruits of the Anglo-Western tradition that we continue to enjoy in the US) will remember the great service done on behalf of civilization by Lord Nelson and the men of the Royal Navy over two hundred years ago.

[In 2007] years ago when this post first ran, there was some discussion in the comments as to whether Trafalgar was (as you Maximum Leader billed it) the greatest naval victory in the history of the world. Among the other contenders were: Salamis, Actium, Lepanto, Tsushima and Midway.

Your Maximum Leader will let you all decide which of these famous battles might be the greatest naval battle in the history of the world… [But for him it will remain Trafalgar.]

Carry on.

Follow your Maximum Leader on Twitter @maximumleader

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