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Turning a pop phenomenon into challenging life lessons

Highway medians become home to the birds, bees, butterflies

My guests were not who I expected

Billed as a smart and energetic musical comedy with a pop rock score and immensely likable story, this show delivers

A waterspout may get you if you don’t watch out

Reflections on heroes and superheroes

Little creatures look for a fearless leader in this fun comedy

Since the dawn of time, Minions have been looking for a master to serve. The yellow cylindrical beings are attracted to the baddies of the world and biologically compelled to assist them.     But they’re terrible at the job.     These yellow dunderheads have managed to cause catastrophes from the extinction of the dinosaurs to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. For their constant failures, they are expelled from society.     In their icy...

A superhero a fraction the usual size delivers big laughs

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an ex-con who wants to go straight. A burglar with a master’s degree in electrical engineering, he can’t even keep a job at Baskin-Robbins. Desperate to earn child support money so he can see his daughter, he reverts to crime one more time.     But mysterious millionaire Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) isn’t the doddering old man he pretends to be. Pym is a genius who has invented a suit that allows its wearer to shrink to the size of an...

How Eddie McGowan made a local stop on the Celtic circuit

There may be nothing quite as rousing as men in kilts wailing away on bagpipes — at least to Eddie McGowan.     A group of bagpipers walked into a bar, and he was smitten. “I knew I had to learn how to play,” says McGowan, whose appreciation of all things Celtic has grown into the Annapolis Irish Festival.     Back in 2010, McGowan talked a few bands into coming to Annapolis for a weekend of music.     “That first year was...

Area premier gives the popular film a song-and-dance twist

Catch Me If You Can: The Musical, an area debut, is a song-and-dance celebration of the lovable conman, Frank Abagnale Jr. (Ron Giddings), and the FBI agent who caught him, Carl Hanratty (Joshua Mooney). The fugitive traveled five million miles impersonating an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer and cashed $1.8 million in fraudulent checks — all before turning 21.     The story is many things. It’s the sad tale of a broken marriage between big talker Frank Sr. (Tom...

Unity Gardens grants grow leaders as well as plants and flowers

Plants and flowers aren’t the only things that grow in a garden. Leadership and civic involvement can also bloom. That’s a motivating idea behind Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that backs its philosophy with dollars.     “We want projects that build community partnerships, bringing in volunteers and creating opportunities for leaders to emerge and take on new projects,” says Unity executive director Barbara Dowling.     Twice each year, Unity...

Who dunnit?

It wasn’t quite the mystery of whether aliens landed in Area 51, but around Casa Melamud everyone was perplexed and spending considerable brainpower trying to solve the case of the missing fish.     It is my habit to go out every evening after dinner and cast my pole from my dock, trying to catch fish for our lunch or to bait my crab traps. I have been consistently getting a handful of medium-sized white perch. Unhooking the fish, I’d tossed them on the dock. ...

From Major League to local teams, the nation’s pastime is alive and well

“I see great things in baseball,” wrote America’s poet Walt Whitman 169 years ago. “It’s our game — the American game.     “It has the snap, go, fling of the American atmosphere.”     Baseball lays out an inviting green carpet on which nine leaping athletes chase each other while throwing, catching and hitting a white ball. They take the field full of hope, follow the rules, trust in skill and and believe luck...

Put up some Dilly Beans

At the farmers market and in the garden, summer has boldly arrived. Succulent cucumbers, herbs and peas are ready for a feast.     Take some time to put up that abundant harvest. Can it, preserve it and ferment it in ways that will save and enhance the flavors of summer. Preserving provides quick, easy toppings and snacks that are a bright reminder of summer freshness for months to come.     Early summer’s green beans are verdant and crisp. Pick or pick up...

Nine-year, three-billion-mile mission to study solar system’s outer limits

As the sky darkens, Venus and Jupiter appear low in the west. While the gap between the two planets is growing, they are both inching toward Regulus, with Venus two degrees below the star Monday and Tuesday.     Dusk reveals Saturn above the southern horizon with the three stars marking the head of Scorpius beneath it and Antares, the heart of the scorpion, a dozen degrees below.     Mercury makes an early morning appearance low in the east-northeast a half-hour...

Who gets to march in our parade?

Did you see America as your neighborhood’s Fourth of July parade marched, rolled and roared by?     That’s what we’re looking for, don’t you think, as we watch and wave from sidewalk and roadside.     The parades of Chesapeake Country were fresh in my mind the afternoon of this July Fourth when my son Nathaniel called from St. Louis to report on the parade in his community, Webster Groves.     So I thought I was reading...