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August 2012

Dog Day reflections on feline companionship

This affectionate kitty loves people and rewards you with purrs when you pet him.     So says The Capital.     That’s a healthy note of skepticism you read in my words. Or perhaps it’s jealousy. For assertions like this one crank up a notch or 10 the friendly competition one newspaper editor feels on reading the pages of another paper.

An old couple learns new tricks in this ­surprising comedy

After 30-odd years of marriage, Kay (Meryl Streep: The Iron Lady) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones: Men in Black 3) have a routine: Kay suffers in silence as she does housework, longing for grand romantic gestures. Arnold ignores her. They sleep in different rooms and barely touch, talk or acknowledge each other in front of their grown children.     From the outside, they’re every couple of a certain age. From the inside, it’s amazing they haven’t snapped.

We’ve rewarded our most loyal ­companion with three constellations

Of the 88 official constellations over our heads, nearly half are animals, serpents, birds and fishes. Admired for their beauty or feared for their strength, these are wild creatures, beasts you wouldn’t want to encounter, let alone have in the house. In fact, of them all, only a few are domesticated animals. One of the oldest recognized constellations is Taurus the bull.

Irrepressible fun!

Spoiler alert for readers not current on 1980s’ kitsch: The musical Xanadu has nothing to do with Citizen Kane or with Coleridge’s poem of the same name. The motif of creating a stately pleasure dome, however, does link all three disparate references to Xanadu.

They’ll taste great come winter

Are you being flooded with tomatoes? My neighbors are willing to take their share but they can take only so many. If you enjoy canning, make catsup, salsa, tomato juice, stewed tomatoes or crushed tomatoes. I have and still have tomatoes to spare.     I fry green tomatoes by dredging them through a mixture of corn meal and Old Bay prior to frying in olive oil. Fried red tomatoes are also a favorite for some.     If you have a food drier, try drying tomato slices.

Stretching Your Comfort Zone: We dug deep to give the War of 1812 lyrics and song

“I write books, not music,” I told the big man with the guitar. “I’m a historian, not a songwriter.”     Gary Rue — St. Mary’s County composer, musician and proprietor of the small recording company Millstone Landing Productions — had invited me to step outside my comfort zone.     “Write the lyrics for a CD album on the War of 1812,” he said. “I’ll do the rest.”

Cheetahs named to honor America’s fastest man and woman

On top of their Olympic medals, America’s fastest man and woman have another cause for pride. They’re the namesakes of two of the world’s fastest animals, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s cheetah twins born April 23 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.

Cleaning the Bay starts on land

A thousand acres of forested buffers will keep a lot of gunk from streaming to the Bay.     Buffers so well protect the 10,000 miles of Maryland’s waterways that the state is spending $6 million over three years to plant more. The money comes from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Maryland State Highway Administration and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund through taxes, fees and contributions.

Crownsville author writes to end hatred

Denis Murray wants to put his two cents on the table. After 70 years of reading and thinking and thinking and reading, he believes that death, hate and responsibility are gifts we should appreciate.

That’s what the Olympics teach us about life and journalism

I’d blame it on Olympic fever, had not the urge to stretch our comfort zones begun before the Games of the XXX Olympiad opened on July 27.     Certainly, aspiration is fed by the spectacle of human beings attempting superhuman feats of strength, agility, grace, speed and endurance. By back-stories recounting achievement by sweaty, disciplined years-in-and-out perseverance. By slips and falls and rededication as much as by success.