Microburst/Tornado/Windy-Rainy Terror.

Greetings, loyal minions. You Maximum Leader thinks he and the Villainschloss dodged a bullet last night. He’s heard that his area might have made the regional (like Mid-Atlantic region) news. His neighborhood was hard hit last night be wind, rain, and hail. It was a terrible storm. One of the worst your Maximum Leader can remember. Luckily it passed quickly, but not before knocking out power (which is not unusual in his neighborhood actually), and knocking down so many trees. At least 2 houses on the main street of the neighborhood were lightly damaged by falling trees. By light damage he means glancing blows where a competent roofer will likely be able to finish the repairs in half a day. But one house had two trees fall directly on to it. The fire department and building inspector told them they had to evacuate and stay elsewhere until the county could do a safety inspection. Your Maximum Leader feels particularly badly for the homeowners. They bought the house (which was in very very bad shape) at an estate auction. They have been working on it all through COVID and just got it finished about 2-3 months ago. They were so happy and proud of their home - as they should be. Now to have this happen is no good. Villainette #1 was good enough to get some dog food and dog treats for their 2 dogs. We also got them the number of a hotel in the area that will take them and their dogs. It is going to be a tough row to hoe for them.

Beyond the immediate neighborhood, there is a lot of damage. Lots of trees lost. Lots of cars damaged. Quite a number of homes. It is not looking very good right now. But give it a few weeks and it may be mostly back to normal. At least your Maximum Leader hopes it will be.

Carry on.

Abattoir No More.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is, as anyone reading here knows, a great fan of pork. If you follow your Maximum Leader on the Twitter (@maximumleader) you would be able to follow is (nearly) annual trek to buy the Easter ham. This is his pilgrimage called Hamquest. (You can see his Hamquest here.) On Hamquest your Maximum Leader leaves his home and travels to Smithfield, VA to get the ham he will serve up at Easter. Smithfield, VA is the Pork Capital of Virginia. And the eponymous company based there, Smithfield Foods, is one of the largest pork producers in the world.

Well, there is news from Smithfield. The headline says it all: Smithfield Foods stops slaughtering pigs at U.S. hometown plant. Here is some of the piece:

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, has stopped slaughtering pigs in the United States’ so-called ham capital, where the company was founded 85 years ago.

The end of slaughtering in Smithfield, Virginia, is the latest reconfiguration for the company’s namesake plant and follows a months-long internal review of its East Coast operations, Smithfield Foods said in a statement.

The company, owned by Hong Kong-listed WH Group, is shifting slaughtering to some of its 47 other U.S. facilities and spending $5 million to upgrade the Virginia plant to produce more packaged bacon, ham and other pork products, said Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer.

Smithfield, Virginia, is a tourist destination based on its history as Smithfield Foods’ hometown and boasts a museum featuring the world’s oldest ham.

This is sad news. But at least Smithfield Foods isn’t leaving Smithfield…

There is that fun line in there about Smithfield Foods being owned by a Hong Kong listed (aka: Chinese) firm. Your Maximum Leader has known a number of people who were quite bent out of shape when WH Group bought controlling interest in Smithfield Foods. There was a lot of discussion that seemed to center on how the Chinese were going to take over the pork market. Your Maximum Leader, while leery of China broadly, is quite sanguine in this matter. It is sort of like the “scare” that dominated our national consciousness in the late 80’s and early 90’s about how the Japanese were buying everything and were going to “own America.” That scare was just that, a scare. Is the situation with Chinese-owned US firms the same? No. They aren’t the same. But are they analogous? Probably. The Chinese can’t pack up Smithfield Foods and all of its pig farms and processing plants and move them to China. And shutting down the business defeats the purpose of owning the business. So if there is a nefarious plot afoot, it is quite subtle.


It is a little sad to think that Smithfield, VA may not actually be the Pork Capital of VA. But it remains Smithfield and your Maximum Leader will continue to go and get hams from there for as long as it is possible to do so.

Carry on.

Some Thoughts

Greetings, loyal minions.

You wouldn’t know it but your Maximum Leader has drafts in his folder that need work to be able to publish. He may get around to it. He may not. Here are some things to read and forget for you all…

Your Maximum Leader has been counting his carb intake recently. And by recently he means over the past 2-3 weeks. He is generally able to keep below 175 grams of total carbs a day. He isn’t trying to calculate “Net Carbs” as it will occupy too much space in his head. He also doesn’t want to download an app to track this stuff. No major changes to report, which is not unexpected on his part. He isn’t changing much else about his eating habits. Though, twice since he started he has really been overwhelmed with an urge to eat “carby things.” The first time he had some chips. That put him over 225 grams of carbs for that day. The second time was last night. He ate a large piece of berry pie. Estimating the carbs by the amount of berries he estimated to be in the slice of pie, and assuming that the crust was about the same as a piece of bread that put him at about 225 grams again. We’ll see how this all goes when he goes back in October for a checkup. We’ll see if his blood sugar is lower than it was in March.

Next up, your Maximum Leader is a little excited about going on a little weekend trip this upcoming weekend. He and Mrs. Villain are going to Philadelphia on the train for a short grown ups weekend. Your Maximum Leader got a great deal on the train tickets and the hotel room. We plan on visiting the Franklin Institute, the Museum of the American Revolution, and (possibly) the Barnes Foundation. Perhaps we’ll have a nice meal or two.

A quick codicil to your Maximum Leader’s post on incitement that you should find below this post. This is a short clarification that he’s been meaning to add for our friend, The Metropolitan. Your Maximum Leader is not trying to suggest that incitement be adjudicated in the courts. Though that is a possibility. What he’d really like to see are some agreed upon standards that would be codified by Congress (both houses) that everyone would agree to implement if a political figure is accused of incitement. Your Maximum Leader fully knows that “high crimes and misdemeanors” can mean whatever the hell the House of Representatives wants it to. And the Senate can use whatever process for adjudicating an impeached official they want. But some guidelines, some “bright red” guidelines, would be nice to have. It will not happen, but your Maximum Leader would like to see it regardless. If there were some consequences for truly awful actions by politicians there might be fewer incidents of truly awful actions by politicians.

Also, The Metropolitan is owed a general re-hash of the Trump Administration by your Maximum Leader. Here is the abstract of what your Maximum Leader thinks… Donald Trump is a terrible human being who should never have been nominated for the office in which he served. He was a terribly divisive figure, in a divisive time, that reveled in creating more chaos and strife. Your Maximum Leader agreed with some policies (judicial appointments, Israeli/Palestinian issues, Keystone XL pipeline). He agreed in principle with other policies, though disagreed with how they were carried out (like asking allies to do more towards their own defense, hard line on Iran, immigration reform & having immigrants processed in other countries, draw-down of US forces abroad, to name a few). And he outright disagreed with some policies (tax reform, propping up coal power,). As a bulwark against Democrats, Trump functioned pretty well all in all. Basically, both parties are on the path to destroying the American Republic. The Democratic Party wants to move the nation into the express lanes to our fall, and the Republican party is happy to go slowly in the local lanes. The destination for both parties is the same. Your Maximum Leader does hope for a new birth of political sensibility to come over the country, but he doesn’t see it happening in the next few years. He isn’t ruling it out, but it doesn’t seem to be in the offing any time soon. (Just as he would speculate that no one would have foreseen Reagan coming in 1968.)

Well… That is all for now.

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions.

Your Maximum Leader sees that the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial seems to have reached a verdict. That verdict will be announced shortly. Your Maximum Leader was drafting out a blog post on incitement, and he’ll just share a few quick thoughts here and now - rather unformed - before the chaos that ensues after the verdict is announced. And know, there will be chaos after the verdict. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t care what the verdict is. It makes no difference. The verdict will result in violence and property destruction no matter how it turns out. For the record, your Maximum Leader (who has not been carefully following the details of what transpired at the trial) believes that Chauvin will be found guilty of Manslaughter and receive a sentence of about 8 years of which he’ll serve about 2.5.

Having said that, let’s talk about incitement for a moment. Your Maximum Leader has thought a lot about incitement in 2021. It started on January 6th. On that day the (then) President of the United States urged a crowd of his followers to go to the Capitol building and protest the outcome of the US Presidential election. That crowd went to the Capitol building and eventually stormed the building. The action of the crowd turned mob resulted in property damage, injury, and death. Your Maximum Leader believes it was one of the darkest days for the Republic during his lifetime. The question became, did the President incite the crowd/mob to do what they did?

This is theme has resurfaced again after Congresswoman Maxine Waters urged protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if the jury didn’t convict Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd case.

So… Were these both examples of incitement? Well, your Maximum Leader has taken some time to try to educate himself a little bit on what exactly the law says about incitement. It turns out that the law is pretty clear. Broadly speaking to legally meet the definition of incitement a person has to directly call for lawless actions or speak in a way that will likely result in lawless actions. This is the Brandenburg Test. So… In order for someone to be prosecuted for incitement (to riot, to engage in a rebellion, or to engage in an insurrection) on has to be pretty explicit about about engaging in speech that will result in lawlessness. In the instances of President Trump’s and Congresswoman Waters’ comments it seems pretty clear that neither of them would meet the standard to be charged and found guilty of incitement.

But, your Maximum Leader wonders (as did Democrats in the House of Representatives when they impeached President Trump for a second time) if there should be a lower bar for what he will call “Political Incitement.” That is when a political leader makes statements that are both inflammatory enough to motivate people to lawlessness, but vague enough to not pass the Brandenburg Test. Your Maximum Leader will go on the proverbial record and say that there ought to be some penalty for Political Incitement. In both the cases he’s mentioned here, he would want at a minimum a formal censure of the offending person. But further, he would be supportive of the removal of that person from office and barring that person from holding office in the future. So, if you’re wondering, yes your Maximum Leader would have supported the removal from office of Trump in January 2021. He would also support the removal from office of Waters in April 2021.

Basically it comes down to elected officials holding offices of trust under the Constitution of the United States should not make inflammatory statements that are likely to provoke or inspire lawlessness. So, if you are a US Senator and you go and speak to a crowd of supporters who are inclined to be dissatisfied with their lot and tell them that they should go and stand up for themselves, that could be a type of political incitement. If you are the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and you go and speak to a crowd protesting unfair housing practices in some US city and during your remarks you encourage the crowd to show people how angry you are and to keep up protesting for change, that could be a type of political incitement. In both of these hypotheticals, if the crowds engaged in lawless behavior as a result of the remarks given, that would meet his personal test in this “Political Incitement.” Now your Maximum Leader isn’t trying to make a hard and fast rule, but he is trying to set a standard for acceptable behavior among officials. Officials should always default to eschewing remarks that could inflame a crowd to lawlessness. Sadly we live in a time where this doesn’t seem to be the case for some (a noteworthy few in fact) officials. Those officials are, by and large, the worst of our elected officials and we as a nation would be better off without them.

Of course, your Maximum Leader is just a bloviator in the ether… So all this amounts to him crying out like an idiot. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Carry on.

Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads on the wire services that Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has died at Windsor Castle. Aged 99. Your Maximum Leader doffs his cap and bows his head in honor of the man. Your Maximum Leader has always liked Prince Phillip. He was both of our age, but with more than a touch of Victorian/Edwardian sensibility to him. He was not politically correct, as many commentators are harping on today. That said, he was not malicious or mean with his un-PC comments. They were off-the-cuff and meant to inject humor. He was such an avid sport and outdoorsman. One of the type that your Maximum Leader wishes he had the time and resources to be. (At least hunting, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think he’d much like polo.) The Prince was a pilot and served in World War II. He was a devoted husband for over 70 years. Your Maximum Leader can hardly get his mind around that. Your Maximum Leader feels that he was the best father he could be in the circumstances in which he helped raise a family. The life of a British Royal (or most royals in general nowadays) is an exquisite prison from which there is no escape. It doesn’t lend itself to being a “regular” person.

Your Maximum Leader will toast the memory of Prince Phillip tonight, and wish him godspeed on his eternal journey.

Carry on.

Gus am bris an là, James

Greetings, friends.

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

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

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

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

General March 18th Update

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

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


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

By the way…

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

Again… It is incredible to watch these boats race.

Speaking of sports…

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

Carry on.

Erin Go Braless

Greetings, loyal minions.

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


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

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Carry on.

Pâté du Sud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carry on.

General First of March Update

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

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

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

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

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

That is it.

Carry on.

You Can’t Spell Love Without Cheese.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader knows that you can indeed spell “love” without “cheese.” But why on earth would one want to? Cheese is a delight. There is a cheese for everyone. They even have (weird) vegan (demi-) cheese for the lactose intolerant or those who fear that using the milk of some animal is cruel.

Cheese should be able to unite us all.

When your Maximum Leader wants cheese, the first place he goes is his local Wegmans. Their cheese selection is stunningly good. Most of his cheese needs are satisfied by the good people at Wegmans.

But if your Maximum Leader wants to really splurge and have unique cheeses, he goes on down to Truckle Cheesemongers in Richmond, VA. They are small. Their selection is limited (by space mostly). But their cheeses are worth a 45 minute drive down and 45 minute drive back.

This Valentines Day (which is a fake holiday by the by designed by evil card and chocolate companies to part men from their money in the hopes of some physical affection) the good people at Truckle Cheesemongers sent your Maximum Leader an email saying that he could order up a luscious cheese plate for the day and share it (or not share it) with his one true love. The names of the various plates struck his funny bone. He is considering ordering up one of these:

“The Generous Lover” - 1/4 lb Brie du Pommier, 1/4 lb 1924 Bleu, Prosciutto di Parma, Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Crackers, and a “With this candle, I eat cheese” Candle (plated on a faux slate board) - $64

Your Maximum Leader is a very generous lover indeed.

Carry on.

A Change Would Do Him Good.

Charlie sat in traffic. It would only be a matter of minutes before the inevitable started. His blood pressure would start to rise. That was dangerous. The past 18 months had been near fatal for him.. He’d had a stroke. He had always been hypertensive. He’d worked as hard as four men to build up his law firm into the best in the state. He went through assistants in a way that caused his partners to fear wrongful termination lawsuits from the stream of verbally abused people leaving his immediate employ. If his workplace was stressful, his home life was worse. Charlie married Melody for reasons that had long passed his memory or ability to understand. All they did was fight. For the first 15 years of marriage he assumed it was his fault. He thought he was stressed at work and he brought it home. But then he realized it wasn’t him at all. It was all her. She complained about everything. Other than complaining she did nothing. A series of au-pairs raised the kids. A series of cleaning companies kept up the house. A series of lawn-services did the yard-work. Other than trips to the salon and gym Melody did nothing but complain to and about him. Her favorite time to complain was right after their quick and perfunctory quarterly intercourse session. She would lie there until he was finished. Then, with an attitude like she’d done him a favor, she would tear into him about how miserable he made her.

In retrospect, he was surprised he’d not had a stroke sooner. If he’d not been having lunch with a doctor client when his stroke started he probably would have died. Regardless, he was lucky to recover after 10 months in hospital and rehab facilities. He had to focus his intense drive to re-learn how to sit, stand, walk, talk, and control his body. His nearly complete recovery was nothing short of a miracle.

Once recovered he gladly left the doctors, nurses, therapists, and assistants and went home. Upon arriving home, he’d discovered that Melody had taken out a mortgage on their previously paid-off house and transferred all the money to a newly-opened investment account in her name. That burned him up. He nearly had another stroke right then and there. He didn’t keep it in. He erupted in a lava-hot rage. Unleashing furiously on her. Repaying her in small measure for the decades of misery she’d caused him. She’d always been a self-centered, and trifling bitch. Although he could trust her to not fool around on him or try to steal money from him, she blamed him for every bad thing that befell her. That time she was rear-ended while stopped in traffic while visiting her friends 250 miles away while he was doing a long jury trial - his fault. When it rained during the cook-out they’d planned for their daughter’s college graduation - his fault. That time the sandwich shop forgot to put extra bacon on her sandwich but charged her for it - his fault. He’d had enough. That night he told her to get ready for the divorce lawyers.

The divorce went more smoothly than expected. He was a respected and feared attorney and lined up the most impressive array of attorneys to make the whole sordid affair as painful for her as it was quick for him. The house was sold, after she paid off the mortgage she’d taken out, and he got most of the sale proceeds. She asked for alimony. She got a single lump-sum payment. She wanted cars, she got none. She wanted all the nicest things from the house, he gave them to her and laughed when she asked for money to store them until she got another house. He reminded her of the lump-sum and said figure it out yourself. After eight months all the details were worked out and he was going to be free of her.

He started to work fewer hours. He started to rage less at his legal assistants. He started to play golf. He started to swim. He went out after work with some of his partners and had a non-working dinner. It was on the way home from that dinner that he got caught in traffic. The traffic report on the radio said that the cause of the miles-long slowdown was “the setting sun was in drivers eyes.” After a few minutes Charlie started to feel odd. His face felt different. It was tingling. His eyes widened and everything seemed brighter. Colors became more brilliant. His breathing seemed to change. Then there was a strange feeling across his face that spread down his shoulders. He started to wonder if he was having another stroke. He turned the rear-view mirror to face him and saw something he’d not seen in decades.

He was smiling. A big broad grin. What he was feeling was muscles in his face he’d probably not used in years suddenly showing the relief he was feeling throughout his body. He laughed and exclaimed to himself, “Well I’ll be a sonofabitch. This is what happiness must feel like.” It was.

Out & In

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has a draft of a lengthy post about the events in our country that have unraveled over the past 2 weeks. But every time he thinks about publishing it, something new and strange seems to happen. So on this January 20th, 2021, Inauguration Day, your Maximum Leader will keep his comments short.

In March 1797, newly-minted former President George Washington said to newly-minted President John Adams, “I am fairly out, and you are fairly in. See which of us will be the happiest.” This quotation has come into your Maximum Leader’s mind many times in the past few weeks. In a few hours, Donald Trump will be fairly out of office and Joe Biden will be fairly in. It is important to state that very clearly. This election was not stolen. There was no great conspiracy. Joe Biden won a closely contested election. Trump’s team had chances all over the country and in state and federal courts to prove otherwise. They cannot. This part of the story has ended.

So with Trump fairly out and Biden fairly in, your Maximum Leader has reflected and has come to his conclusion that for what may be the first time in the history of the Republic, the incoming President may be happier than the outgoing President. Trump will continue to be a bitter, nasty, egomaniac brooding over his lies in his post-presidential years. Biden will be overwhelmed with his job and may not have much time for reflection. Your Maximum Leader hopes not to hear much from or about Trump starting tomorrow. But that will not come to pass. There is a trial in the Senate that will take center stage for a time. Then there will be the inevitable blaming of Trump (rightfully and wrongly) for everything that Biden and the Democrats can or cannot do that will go on for about 18 months. But after that trial your Maximum Leader hopes that it will be easier to ignore anything involving Donald Trump.

Though he doesn’t have high hopes, or great expectations, or even moderate expectations; he hopes that Joe Biden can start to move the United States towards a more normal, or at least settled, style of government. Good luck to him, and to all of us.

Carry on.

Happy Christmas.

Greetings, loyal minions. Happy Yuletide greetings to you all from your Maximum Leader ensconced in the Villainschloss. He hopes that you all have a wonderful Christmas, no matter how you choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) it. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure if he will make it to Mass. His church is still operating at greatly reduced capacity and your Maximum Leader sometimes feels strange by going alone and potentially keeping out a family that needs to occupy more space than he does. His church actually puts 6.5 foot long pool noodles between groups in a pew (and only uses every other pew in the church). Since the pandemic began, and the churches reopened, your Maximum Leader has often be seated in a small corner with other “singles” so as to maximize space for others. If one doesn’t get to Mass early one doesn’t always get a seat. (Even at the 1st Mass of the day at 7am.) Since the Bishop has made Mass attendance optional during the pandemic, your Maximum Leader hasn’t gone often. If he’s being honest with you all here, he’s only been to Mass 4-6 times since March. (For what it is worth, Mrs. Villain - who is not Catholic and doesn’t attend Mass with your Maximum Leader - hasn’t been to church since March!) Your Maximum Leader will confess to you all that not going to Mass regularly is not good for his soul or his general well-being. It is something he needs to work on in this new liturgical year.


Here is the Adoration by El Greco for your viewing pleasure.

May your holiday be merry and bright.

And by merry he means drenched in alcohol. The drinking type, not the disinfecting type - in case you needed clarification.

Carry on.

My Gallant Hero

Greetings, loyal minions. Many years ago, your Maximum Leader bought a book with audio tapes that purported to help one Learn Scots Gaelic.

Now, if you knew your Maximum Leader you would know that he has no talent for languages at all. And if you know anything about Scots Gaelic, or Irish Gaelic, or any of the Gaelic tongues is that they don’t just come easy. So the prospect of him learning any Gaelic at all was laughable to say the least.

All that being said, there is something about the language that rings in your Maximum Leader’s ear. He particularly loves listening to it being sung. The Irish seem to be doing more to preserve this tradition of sung Gaelic than do the Scots. Your Maximum Leader discovered many moons ago the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin. He loves listening to them. He particularly loves their version of one of his favorite songs of all time, Mo Ghille Mear.

Here it is for your viewing and listening pleasure:

In case you are curious as to what they might be singing here is another video with the lyrics in Gaelic and English.

Your Maximum Leader included this one in hopes that his best buddy Kevin, might look at the lyrics and smile. At some point your Maximum Leader and Kevin had a conversation whereby Kevin was bemused by how Gaelic words are written versus how they are pronounced.

And lest we go before he mentions it, your Maximum Leader’s personal favorite version of the song might be this one by The Chieftains and Sting:

When the Villainettes were little, we would sing this version of the song together in the car. The girls could never remember (or pronounce) Mo Ghille Mear so they called the song “The Scottish King Who Went Away.” As the Chieftains/Sting version is closer to an 18th Century version lamenting the fleeing of Bonnie Prince Charlie across the sea.

Good memories…

Carry on.

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