The Coen Brothers’ newest is a melancholy ­ballad to struggling artists

My year of reconnections

Organize the coming year with one of these Bay calendars

And plenty of good reading now and in the new year

Reindeer are perfectly suited to pull Santa’s sleigh

Calvert Marine Museum closing for three months of renovation

Study safe boating — online and free

Every voyage can lead to Scylla and Charbydis. Mariners have always known that monsters of the sea are both real and hungry. Smart — and lucky — mariners live to tell the tale.     That’s the kind of boater you want to be.     Boating safety courses — offered by the wise mariners of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Power Squadron — improve your odds for steering safely around rocks, whirlpools and other monsters of the deep.  ...

Keep an eye out for these normally reclusive foragers

Driven by the frenzy of breeding season, deer are coming out of the woods.     From early fall into deep winter, bucks have two things on their minds: breeding and eating — the latter for energy to breed. Normally reclusive, whitetail bucks are out on the prowl. Searching for mates, they leave their thicket lairs and cross open meadows, lawns — and busy roads.     That’s where deer, humans and vehicles meet.     Cars and deer...

‘There is no need for forced lessons, ­lectures, assignments, tests, grades …’

Picture a generation of children losing their capacity to play. Picture a school system where recess and free time are disappearing. Imagine an educational mindset that tests its students with greater frequency even as students report growing anxiety and stress.     If your imagination fails, it may be because there was no room for imagination in your school day.     Peter Gray offers an alternative in his book Free to Learn and his speaking tour, which brings...

Who’d miss the greatest show in town?

Like carnivals and county fairs, the U.S. Boat Shows bring a welcome return of familiar pleasures.     So I’m not going to look back at old editor’s letters as I write this week because no doubt I’ve said the same things before.     That’s because I go to the Boat Shows for the same thrills every year.     I anticipate the makeover of Annapolis with the kind of profound appreciation of novelty and abundance Thomas Wolfe...

The new moon is right in front of us, but its absent light reveals plenty

Friday marks new moon. You might think that the new moon is lost behind the sun. But the moon is roughly 250,000 miles from earth, while the sun is more than 90 million miles away. So the moon can never be behind the sun. Rather, new moon is right in front of us, directly between earth and the sun, invisible in the blinding glare.     This makes for dark night skies much of the week, allowing you to spot more dim and distant celestial objects.     One of those is...

Water now to prevent winter damage

The drought we’re experiencing can cause significant bark injury to young trees with smooth bark if you don’t take immediate action and water them thoroughly. This is the time of year that trees have started to go dormant in preparation for winter. It is also their last opportunity to absorb the water they need to carry them through the winter.     Unless smooth-bark trees are able to store sufficient water in the fall, they are likely to suffer split-bark damage on...

Soft plastics have proved irresistible, with Bass Assassin the tastiest

This early morning I was prospecting for stripers beside a long bulkhead reinforced with large rock piled along the base. The water there was five or six feet deep, then dropped off gradually all the way to the 30-foot depths of the channel 100 yards away.     I had never fished the area before, so to maximize my chances I selected one of the best artificial lures ever devised, a quarter-ounce Bass Assassin soft plastic jig. Tying the lure on to my three-foot fluorocarbon leader...

This rare romantic comedy is both funny and romantic

Massage therapist Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus: Veep) is a divorced mother with a comfortable routine. She treats her clients in their homes, deals with their quirks and comes home to her daughter. Facing an empty home when her daughter moves away to college, Eva decides to expand her social circle. She’s not looking for a man; she just doesn’t want to spend her nights alone stewing that her baby girl lives across the country.     At a party, she meets Albert (James...

Little shop; big hit

Was it really 30 years ago this week that Little Shop of Horrors made its Broadway debut? How can that be when it still feels fresh as a daisy?     No matter how many times you’ve seen it, and especially if you’ve never seen it, you must catch 2nd Star Productions’ strain of this outrageous sci-fi tragicomedy inspired by a 1960 cinematic flop. Welcome Halloween with the time-honored struggle between innocence and evil that sprouts when a carnivorous plant is...

Now’s the time to get to work, says the Bay Gardener

Feeling less than pride and joy in your lawn?     September is a great month for establishing and repairing lawns. Here’s how to get started now on growing rich, green, weed-free grass in 2014. 1. Test Your Soil     How’s your lawn doing?     There’s no way to know without soil testing. Fertilize without testing, and you’re not only throwing your money away but also polluting the Bay.     Don’t bother...