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I miss the Cold War.

Not the actual Cold War, with hostile superpowers poised to rain fiery, poisonous death on each other at the drop of an ill-timed remark. It would be crazy to wish for such a world back when we’re past that now, merely fighting a global, multigenerational, cultural, religious and ethnic war.

No, I miss the Cold War for the very excellent backdrop it provided for all the spy novel heroes I grew up reading about, from James Bond to Smiley to the even less highbrow like Quiller and Modesty Blaise.

Reading espionage fiction lately just doesn’t have the same savor, with authors thrashing about for villains in some unlikely places. I have read books recently featuring international art thieves, rogue pharmaceutical companies, sex traffickers and endangered-animal body-part smugglers in the role once held by the dreaded KGB (or, occasionally, the GRU).

They all are evil, to be sure, but nothing compared to the old reliable murderers of millions in the bad old Soviet Union.

There was a little room in thrillers for Nazis who might have missed the initial roundup after World War II, but for most of the 38 or so years I’ve been reading these books, the good guys were fighting those pesky Russians.

I propose that, if we’re going to let our modern heroes fight worthy opponents, we come a little closer to home and begin writing some villains that people can really get behind hating.

There should be a vigilante novel about a sports fan who snaps and, using the combat techniques he garnered as a Navy SEAL, tracks down every stupid color man in sports broadcasting and treats him to a painful death. The hero could have snappy dialogue a la Arnold Schwarzenegger: “A physical game?” he could say, “You were expecting maybe a metaphysical game?” before binding him in the down marker chains and inserting him into a Gatorade cooler upside down.

There could be a whole series devoted to the tracking down of any sports figure who says “we’re taking it one game at a time” in the same press conference as “we have the greatest fans in the world!”

I would definitely read and recommend books about a lonely drifter, an English teacher or copy editor, mental health destroyed by a tragedy involving the misuse of the subjunctive, who travels the land dispensing rough justice and undangling participles. We could all cheer her on as she punished people who think “doughnut’s” is plural or that there’s no difference between “your” and “you’re,” perhaps employing a travel-size blackboard to force miscreants to diagram sentences until her sense of proper usage is assuaged.

Advertising executives could provide another lucrative pool of baddies. Anyone suggesting that drinking a certain brand of beer makes men more attractive to women, when the truth is that when men drink any brand of beer, all women become more attractive to them, is doing a disservice to the intelligence of the TV-viewing public and must be punished.

Although, a lot of people watch “Here comes Honey Boo-Boo,” so maybe intelligence isn’t really the word I want here.

Also, the ads for Viagra and similar medications are completely unwatchable in my home. I live with four women, three of whom regularly watch TV with me, and the hilarity these ads — with their unironic images of tall, upright things, like sailboat masts, and burly, masculine things, like draft horses — produce makes it not really worth it, even during playoff season.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think I would actually murder a bad sports broadcaster, some poor grammar-challenged person or even an ad man (only partly because, having written this, it would be hard to stay out of the hoosegow) but if anyone wants to write a little wish-fulfillment fiction, let me know.

Sheriff’s office plans bike ride

The fourth annual Charles County Sheriff’s Office bike ride will be held March 16 on the Indian Head Rail Trail. Inline skaters are welcome, too. Kickoff will be at the Village Green Pavilion at 100 Walter Thomas Road in Indian Head, with check-in at 9 a.m. and a flex-start time of 10 a.m.

The event will benefit United Way of Charles County and Spring Dell Center.

Event backpacks, lunch, snacks and drinks will be provided to participants.

Registration forms are available at or call 301-609-4844 to have one sent in the mail.

Events to honor King

A breakfast honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 19 at North Point High School at 2500 Davis Road in Waldorf.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and younger.

The guest speaker will be the Rev. James Michael Hilson of New Life Wesleyan Church.

Call 301-870-4787 or 301-396-3383.

The Ministers Alliance of Charles County and Vicinity will hold its annual King celebration at 4 p.m. Jan. 20 at New Community Church of God in Christ at 12435C Mattawoman Drive in Waldorf.

The guest speaker will be Anthony B. Covington, Charles County’s state’s attorney. All are invited to attend the nondenominational service.

Youth golf memberships at White Plains

White Plains Golf Course will offer golf memberships for youth between 8 and 17 this year.

Two types of memberships for junior golfers are available: an annual pass for $175 good from April 1 to March 31 and a three-month pass good from June 1 to Aug. 31.

The registration fee and occasional volunteer hours allow junior golfers access to basic golf etiquette classes and golf privileges. Beginners are welcome.

Early registration is encouraged.

For more information, call 301-645-1300.

The course is on St. Charles Parkway, south of DeMarr Road.

Tourism calendar of events available

The Charles County Office of Tourism’s 2013 calendar of events is now available.

The calendar features events happening in Charles County for history buffs, nature lovers, baseball fans — the publication is sure to have an event to fit any interest.

Go to and click on the “2013 Calendar of Events” under “For Visitors” to view the online version. Order by phone at 800-766-3386.

Copies will be available for pickup after Jan. 22 from the county government building at 200 Baltimore St. in La Plata or the Crain Memorial Welcome Center at 12480 Crain Highway in Newburg.

Contact Rachel Reynolds at 301-645-0601 or