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November 2013

How to beat Bay Weekly cruciverbalist Ben Tausig

I’m no Bill Clinton.         The 42nd president of the United States gets no competition on crosswords from my family. Even working together, husband Bill Lambrecht and I can’t approach Clinton’s unofficial record for finishing the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in less than an hour.

Even a brilliant foil can’t save this weak entry in the Marvel series

When the universe began, light spread throughout the cosmos. Light is usually a good thing, but it did not please a race called the Dark Elves. Their leader Malekith (Christopher Eccleston: Doctor Who) responded with Aether, a weaponized energy source, to bring back darkness and destroy the universe.     It didn’t work.     King Bor of Asgard and his son Odin (Anthony Hopkins: RED 2) led a successful war against the Dark Elves. But instead of destroying the Aether, Bor hid it.

Calvert takes to the kitchen to End Hunger

Van Trammell is about to walk into the best job in his life, the first job in his new career in the food service industry. For 14 years, he served in the Army as a radio technician. Once inactive, he worked dead-end, entry-level food service jobs for near the Maryland minimum wage, $7.25 an hour.     In December, after Van Trammell finishes class, he’ll be working in the kitchens of St. Mary’s College as an international chef, with a chance at career advancement. This step spans the difference between being stuck and moving forward.

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving ­without the sweet finale

Can Thanksgiving dinner be both wonderful and boring at the same time? I’ve been having the exact same Thanksgiving dinner for almost 25 years now, and it’s getting old. Every year it’s the same people, same place, same menu.     What’s changeable?     It’s family, so that’s not changing.     Turkey with stuffing, sweet potatoes, gravy and the trimmings are too traditional to change.
September 12, 1951 - October 21, 2013

She rocked Southern Maryland

Not that many years ago, Solomons was a sleepy hamlet without even a stoplight. Situated at the southern tip of Calvert County, the last big noise on the island came from the landing preparations leading to D-Day in World War II. Aside from the world-renowned Tiki Bar, charter fishing and a handful of restaurants, Solomons’ main attraction was its quaint museum.

Squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, deer and bear are making the most of fleeting time

It’s a wild world out there. The wildlife who live among us, often just at the verge of perception, may be their most active this time of year, mating and feeding up for winter, whether in woods or burrows.

Your chance to peer behind the “bubble”

At St. John’s College this Sunday, I’m sure to be asked how I got the access to write my latest book, Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America’s Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership.     It’s a question I’m used to, for I answer it all the time.     The theme is a natural extension of my work as chief White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report. This has been my job since 1986, and President Obama is the fifth commander in chief I’ve covered.

On Veterans Day — or any other — first-line heroes are welcome here

Montgomery County firefighter and paramedic Mike O’Neil sips a beer as he sits beneath the 9/11 wall at Heroes Pub. O’Neil was at the Pentagon doing search and rescue in the aftermath of that day. He’s a typical Heroes regular: a first responder and a local from Arnold who comes in several times a week. He seems to know everyone in the place, and everyone knows him. “Great bar food, great people, and they support the community. This is Cheers,” says O’Neil, referring to the fictional tavern on TV. “We feel comfortable here.”

The season is all about change and the ways we make ourselves love it

I didn’t mean to do it.     Writing this week’s Creature Feature about burrowers, hibernators and fall feeders in the wild was a spontaneous decision, evolved from the spectacle of squirrels falling from the sky.     Yet in retrospect, Ah! I recognize that choice as proof of the unaccountable power of the unconscious mind. For I’ve been all about burrowing.

November’s fish have fattened in the ocean

I cast the wriggling spot close to the bridge piling, leaving the reel out of gear with my thumb lightly pressing on the spool. As the spot swam toward the bottom I could feel it taking line. It paused and meandered, unafraid, following the tidal current away from the concrete structure.