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Great performances marred by poor focus

A story based on real events, Foxcatcher focuses on Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum: The Book of Life), a gold-winning Olympic wrestler who believes he deserves better. His life is cramped and overshadowed by older brother David (Mark Ruffalo: Begin Again). Himself a gold medalist, David has achieved the standing Mark longs for.     Mark finds his way out in John du Pont (Steve Carell: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), the eccentric heir to the du Pont...

Many hearts out of hiding

“My heart in hiding. Stirred for a bird, — the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!” wrote poet Gerard Manley Hopkins of a hawk called the windhover.     In the week since I wrote in Farewell to My Dog Moe, I’ve learned that dogs release many a heart from hiding. Your letters brought me joy, comfort and consolation by introducing me to your dogs, echoing my loss and sharing the stretch to find words for a relationship so intimately wordless. Here is what...

How do we know if our oyster dollars are paying off?

Open any local newspaper these days, and you’ll probably read about the dollars we are pouring into restoring oysters. In writing a few myself, I pondered how we would cut through the hyperbole and verify, in a scientifically reliable way, whether the efforts were bearing fruit — or in this case, oysters.     A little poking around in Maryland Department of Natural Resources led to an invitation to see the answer firsthand. I’d spend a day aboard the vessel...

Its bite can kill a horse

Beware the brown recluse.         The spiky-legged brown recluse grows as long as three-eighths of an inch. A violin shape marks its back. Its bite is devastating. I know because I’ve seen it firsthand.     A big, warm-blood, show horse on my Southern Anne Arundel County farm was bitten on the leg by a brown recluse. After more than two months of treatment, she had to be put down.     In animals and humans alike, the...

Chesapeake Conservancy’s Trips-and-Tips covers the watershed

When you want to strike out farther than the here-today-gone-tomorrow in Anne Arundel and Calvert events of 8 Days a Week, where do you go?     Subscribe to Chesapeake Conservancy’s Trips-and-Tips, and weekly updates from all over Chesapeake Country appear in your inbox each Thursday. The price is right for this brand-new, free guide to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.     “Each week,” says the Conservancy’s Jody Couser, “we highlight...

It’s all online in Calvert County

In old-fashioned walk-around communities, construction projects were everybody’s business. In these times of zipping past in cars, who knows what’s going and coming?     In Calvert County, you can find out online. What’s Going Where lets you track commercial projects county wide. You can search by postal Zip Code or review a list of projects completed in the last 12 months.     “This interactive map allows us to monitor and help businesses...

This community collaboration ­delivers a sleigh full of holiday cheer

What do you get when you introduce a variety of memorable Christmas characters and nursery rhyme originals to a romantic hero and two scheming evildoers plus their naughty toy followers?     A recipe for holiday cheer, Babes in Toyland, adapted for the stage by Twin Beach Players’ president Sid Curl, with additional dialogue by Matthew Konerth and Valerie Heckart.     The play has undergone adjustment since it was first performed by Twin Beach Players in...

Put these tools — not useless ­garden gadgets — under the ­Christmas tree

I hope you had a laugh over my column on useless garden gadgets two weeks back. This week I’m turning serious, suggesting useful tools the gardeners on your holiday shopping list will want and use.     The Garden Bench and Kneeler is great, especially for us older gardeners. Getting down on your knees is easy; getting up is hard. The Garden Bench and Kneeler pad is easy on the knees, and the handles are a great help in getting up. I have had mine for years. When you get...

The Geminid meteors are unique

This week’s celestial highlight is the annual Geminid meteor shower, which peaks late Saturday and before sunrise Sunday. This coincides with the rising waning moon, which just shy of last-quarter still shines quite bright. Fortunately, the Geminids are some of the brightest “shooting stars,” and given patience and a dark spot away from urban glare, you could still expect to see one or two meteors each minute. Plus the Geminids generate a fair number of meteors for several...

Fishing in a chill rain is better than not fishing

As my cast settled, the streamer curved down and across the dark current. As the line straightened out at the shadow line, an unseen rockfish slammed the fly hard. I struck back and lifted. My nine-foot rod bent all the way to the cork handle, and my line came tight to the reel. “They’re here,” I informed my friend up in the bow, “or at least one of them is, and it’s a good one.”     The night had turned cold, a lot colder than I expected....