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Superb casting, sumptuous costumes, stunning sets and whimsical dance can transcend even the flimsiest plot

Remember Nelson Eddie and Jeanette MacDonald singing Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, At Last I’ve Found You in their 1935 debut film, Naughty Marietta?
    No?
    How about Madeline Kahn in Young Frankenstein?
    Ah, I thought so.
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Liam Neeson proves old dogs can learn new tricks

There are movies like The Artist in which every shot is an exquisitely composed tableau. And then there are movies like The Grey, where Liam Neeson (Unknown) bare-knuckle boxes a giant Alaskan timber wolf.
    My job as a reviewer is convincing you that both sorts can be enjoyable and worth your hard-earned money.
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Yellow perch are here

Daylight hours have been getting longer, yet most days, temperatures keep us in winter. But the yellow perch know that their springtime is here.
    Moving now into the deeper water of the tributaries, they are forming large schools and staging. Yellow perch are the earliest fish to spawn in the Tidewater, and their run is the first trumpet sounding the Bay’s piscatorial spring.
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From the movies to your own tales

Ah, we’ve already used up one of the irreplaceable months this no-longer-quite-so-new year gives us.
    Which brings us to Groundhog Day, that frivolous-seeming cross-quarter day whose significance in the forward march of time hides behind a furry hibernating mammal.
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   Azure         

Fresh, local and sustainable have become bywords. But you might still be surprised to find native translations in a nationwide hotel chain: In that, Azure at the Annapolis Westin Hotel, takes the lead under the direction of chef James Barrett.
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A story this important deserves better than this second rate film

In the times before Martin Luther King put momentum behind his dream, African Americans had to be twice as good to get half as much as their white counterparts. Racism was justified and equality denied by spurious science.
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It’s sure to fill you up

This is a very hungry week.    
    Thinking about restaurants, talking to chefs and owners and reading menus makes me want to eat my way through Bay Weekly’s annual Dining Guide.
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Before I could sleep tight, I had to learn more about these invading pests than I ever wanted to know

Editor’s note: This story is true. The author goes nameless to protect the innocent.

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Behind this glowing mass of cosmic gas is a stellar nursery

The waning crescent moon reaches new phase Monday, leaving our night skies free of its overpowering glow. As darkness settles and the stars come into view, the familiar outline of Orion is appears above the southeast horizon.
    Easily the most recognizable constellation, Orion has marched through the heavens and played a role in the mythology of every civilization and culture on earth.
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Some seeds are worth trying; others you should avoid

My 2011 vegetable garden was the most productive I have ever had. Even as I write this column in early January, I am still harvesting kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, cabbage, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts. I also had the best harvest ever of fall peas, snap beans and carrots.
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