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Meeting the parents is a real nightmare

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya: Sicario) is a successful photographer with a promising future and a beautiful girlfriend. Rose (Allison Williams: Girls) is hip, culturally aware and unafraid to call out other people’s racial biases. Still, Chris is nervous when Rose wants to take him home to meet her folks.
    Rose promises her parents are as liberal as they come. They voted for Obama! They protested in the 1960s! They’re supporters of the ACLU! Hoping that Rose is right, Chris agrees to spend the weekend at their country home.
    Parents Missy (Catherine Keener: Unless) and Dean (Bradley Whitford: Brooklyn Nine-Nine) seem okay, though they throw around hip slang so Chris will know they’re cool, and they tell him they couldn’t be happier with his courtship.
    But the weekend wears on strangely. Chris can’t connect to the black servants, who speak as if scripted. To cure Chris of smoking, Missy, a hypnotherapist, hypnotizes him without his consent. At a family party, conversations with him don’t feel right. He is uneasy.
    Is he being paranoid? Or is something insidious lurking beneath the Armitage veneer of tolerance?
    This brilliant horror take with cutting commentary on racism in America, is one of the smartest films of the year. Writer/director Jordan Peele (Keanu) shows the subtle racism of, for example, the offhanded compliment about a black person’s natural talents for athleticism.
    Breaking down the cultural stereotype that black men are aggressors, Peele makes us feel menace in benign situations, like walking down a suburban street. By embedding his commentary in a traditional horror setting, Peele invites us to appreciate the message without feeling lectured or attacked.
    The cast supports the vision with outstanding work. As Chris, Kaluuya is masterful as a man who’s dealt with well-meaning racism his whole life but struggles to determine whether Rose’s family is benignly clueless or subtly sinister.
    A masterwork of both satire and horror, Get Out is an ingenious summation of the forms of modern racism as well as a suspenseful, funny horror flick.

Great Horror • R • 103 mins.

If an extraordinary day comes your way, grab your gear and get fishing

Friend and neighbor Frank Tuma and I were enjoying a combination shakedown cruise and yellow perch outing on the Magothy River. At Beachwood Park, we noted a number of anglers milling about with about as much success as we were enjoying, which was none. No one seemed to care. It was enough to get out on the water.
    Tossing minnows, spinner baits and small spoons separately and in combination, then just about everything else in the tackle box, we worked over shoreline spots thoroughly. Targeting fallen trees, derelict docks, jetties, groins and anywhere either of us had ever caught a fish, we exchanged stories of successes and disasters.
    I worked my two favorite outfits. One is a five-foot-four-inch, extra-fast-action Loomis GL2 spin rod with a Shimano Sahara 1000 reel spooled with six-pound P Line. The other is a six-foot St Croix medium-power casting rod paired with a Shimano Calcutta 1000 DC-level wind reel, spooled with 10-pound Power Pro.
    My buddy, ever the more practical and pragmatic of the two of us, used his trusty six-foot-six-inch, ultra-light spin rod of unknown provenance and a mystery spinning reel spooled with 10-pound Spider Line. Frank caught all the fish.
    After working the Upper Magothy to little effect, we explored the nearby creeks lower down the river, trying to rescue the day with a pickerel or two. At about noon, Frank hooked up with a real scrapper on an orange-and-yellow spinner bait with a lip-hooked minnow. I assisted by netting the flashing pickerel for a quick picture.
    Quite near the same spot, Frank then had another smashing strike. His rod bent over, and I could hear his reel grudgingly giving up line in fits and starts as the fish refused to come closer. The battle went on for long minutes, and the water boiled as the fish came near the surface again and again — Never close enough, however, to identify except as a big one.
    Guessing a really big pickerel, then perhaps an early-spawning rockfish, Frank worked the fish gradually closer while I threatened him with disgrace if he lost it. As it finally neared the boat and I leaned over with the net, we caught a flash of a brown and orange flank. Then it was gone. The hook had pulled.
    After a moment of anguish we laughed. This was what fishing was like — and we would have let the rascal go anyway. Now we were free to interpret the brute anyway we felt. It could have been a big channel cat, or perhaps a thick and powerful carp heading to spawn. I suggested a wayward cobia. That was preposterous, but it had been a long day and we were both getting a bit addled after such a successful late-winter’s day on the water.

Filmed in their natural habitat

Legendary in Chesapeake tributaries are spring spawning runs, especially of the season’s harbinger, yellow perch.
    See for yourself, with wonder, a video of spawning yellow perch in pristine water in the Upper Magothy River, documented this year by Magothy River Association volunteers and photographed by Chesapeake Bay Program’s Will Parson.
    The spawning run began on Monday, February 27. In hours, hundreds of fish swam up a narrow, clear stream called the Upper Magothy River in Pasadena, between Catherine Avenue and the Lake Waterford dam/fish ladder.
    The male yellow perch arrived first to locate spawning sites, and the females followed. Several dozen long egg sacks, called egg chains, were photographed in this part of the stream. Each egg chain contains 5,000 to 20,000 eggs.
    Yellow perch have been threatened by development runoff that degrades water quality in many of the tributary streams and creeks on the Magothy River. The Maryland State Habitat Protection Area law requires each county to protect yellow perch spawning habitat. It also requires the counties to improve water quality and limit development in HPA areas.
    “The tragedy is that this should have been declared a habitat-protected area years ago under the Critical Area Law,” says Paul Spadaro, president of the Magothy River Association. “Anne Arundel County chose not to, and now this spawning creek, perhaps the last in the county, is under attack by development.”
    Fishing is prohibited in the tributaries during the spawning months of February, March and April, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police have been enforcing this policy along the Upper Magothy River.
    To see the photographs and videos of the spawn, visit the Magothy River Association Facebook page or www.dropbox.com/s/7u9i43bwpjn6aoc/20170227-YellowPerch.mp4?dl=0.

High in calcium and potassium, it keeps lawn and garden soil balanced

Wood ash belongs in the garden or on the lawn, not in the trash can or in the compost bin. Wood ash is basic in nature and an excellent source of calcium, potassium and trace elements. This means ash can be used as a substitute for limestone. A five-gallon pail of wood ash will treat approximately 100 square feet of a garden or lawn with a pH of around 6.0.
    I have divided the vegetable garden into three zones and treat each zone with wood ash once every three years. The wood ash has done such a great job of maintaining the pH of the soil that I have not had to apply lime or potassium on the garden for the past 25 years.
    Select a calm day for applying wood ash, as it is easily carried away by the slightest breeze. I use a trowel to spread the ash from the pail, applying it until the ground appears covered like a heavy frost.
    Wood ash won’t supply magnesium, an element often low or deficient in Maryland soil. Without magnesium, chlorophyll’s efficiency in converting carbon dioxide to sugars is considerably reduced. Since wood ash does not contain magnesium (though limestone does), I also apply Epsom salts at the rate of five to 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet depending on the soil test results.
    Don’t dump wood ash in the compost pile. Wood ash is basic in nature, and the microorganisms involved in composting perform best in an environment that is mildly acid. Adding ash will stop the composting process.
    Never use a paper, cardboard, wooden or plastic container to carry wood ash. Ash may appear cool when you remove it form the fireplace or stove, but hot embers can remain buried and when exposed to air can ignite. Put your ash in a metal container and store it outdoors in a sheltered place a couple of days before spreading in the garden. I can remember my grandfather removing ash from the parlor stove and spreading it in the garden only to turn around to see dried corn stalks smoldering.
    Here’s another use for wood ash that’s now largely forgotten. My grandmother dumped wood ash from the kitchen stove into a wire basket in the shed. She then flushed the ash with dishwater several times, collecting the water to make lye soap. Do you remember Grandma’s lye soap — or the old popular song by that name?

Irrigate Your Garlic
    Your garlic plants are thirsty. Neither rain nor snow has provided them with water. February’s extra-warm, sunny days have activated the garlic plants into wanting to grow. Without adequate water in the ground, the tips of the leaves are showing yellowing and brown crispy tissues. Irrigate them now for bigger cloves of garlic at harvest.  Italian, Polish and German garlic is not planted as deeply as elephant garlic, making them more susceptible to drought damage. Soaking the soil with water now also makes the ground less likely to freeze deeply should the weather turn cold again.


Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. Please include your name and address.

If only the storyteller were as durable as the story

As a Bay Weekly reader, you may feel like you know us Bay Weekly writers pretty well.
    One way and another, our writers reveal a lot about themselves.
    Sandra Lee Anderson — Sandy — sure did in the eight years she helped fill our pages. On hearing the news of Sandy’s death on Saturday, March 4 at age 73 from an aneurism, I gathered up her stories for Bay Weekly. Twenty thousand words-worth between 2007 and 2015, when she turned her writing energies to her own book. All together, they record the life of a rare and wonderful woman, utterly different from each of us — and not so very different.
    Sandra Lee Comstock grew up in the west, but this daughter of a water reclamation engineer and fisherman couldn’t avoid the pull of Chesapeake Country.
    Her first experience was a waterfront place that had been the residence of a vegetarian society:

    Signs claiming Salt is Poison hung on musty walls. Locals maintain it was a nudist colony. We slept beneath rafters where a long wall divided the dorms for men and women. I fell asleep to the rhythmic waves through the screened window. On that beach I found my first great white shark tooth, two and a half inches long.
    I married another fisherman. Charlie bought a boat and moored it at Flag Harbor, down the beach from the vegetarian beach house. Charlie and I built two houses away, near enough to visit our friend, glimpse the water and easily comb the beach for sharks’ teeth.

    Her adopted home fell short in one way only: winter.

    I love winter, Sandy wrote four years ago this week. My growing up was Colorado, and cold-side Oregon, and cold and snow are in my blood.
    But not in Maryland. Real winter has been missing so long that I fear global warming has turned it into a memory.

        So, interviewing longer-time Calvert countians, the retired D.C. schools administrator chronicled the Great Blizzards of Yore, writing appreciatively of times when school closed for two weeks.
        In Chesapeake Country, she and Charlie became oyster gardeners. Many of her stories chronicled efforts small and large to restore our beloved bivalve.

    This story started when I met the ranchers, the westerner wrote on October 2, 2008. They wear chaps for protection, and they work on ranches, but they’re not wrangling cattle. They’re raising oysters.
    Richard Pelz, the trailblazer, brought oyster ranching to Maryland at Circle C Oyster Ranch. …

    She wrote of building homes for bluebirds, another species restoration effort shared with Charlie, who in turn took photos for her stories:

    Charlie’s anticipated carefree hobby placed us squarely against the travails of nature. We overcame territorial wrens, bad locations and opportunistic chickadees to welcome bluebirds to our home. In the process, we found some of that elusive happiness.

    The couple’s land garden also supported Chesapeake Country wildlife.

    Something has been nibbling on husband Charlie’s cantaloupe, she wrote in September, 2012:
    I suspected the squirrels, and Charlie blamed mice or voles. Friend Fritz Riedel happened to snap another candidate: an eastern box turtle. It’s circumstantial evidence, but very convincing. Charlie’s conclusion is a new twist on the fable of the turtle and the hare: Turtles are faster than humans at getting to a ripe cantaloupe.

    Calvert County history, especially school history, intrigued her, and she, in turn, educated us, introducing us to places like the Old Wallville School. And to the people who brought them to life, like the educational giants Ms. Regina Brown and her sister Ms. Harriet Elizabeth Brown, who hired the young Thurgood Marshall to win equal pay for Calvert’s black teachers.

    The second-grade students of Calvert Elementary art teacher Shari Adams, Sandy wrote in December, 2009, saw nothing they could recognize in the bits and pieces of the Old Wallville School, which opened last month, reconstructed for students of history.
    “What is it? Is it a shed?” today’s schoolchildren wondered from the windows of their modern, low-slung fortress of education.

    Best of all were her stories of people who without paying much attention were making modern history. We need love stories for Valentine’s Day, I’d tell Sandy, or mothering and fathering stories for Mother’s and Father’s Day features, or jobs people do for Labor Day stories. Never fail, she’d find a couple of deeply human stories, like Guffrie M. Smith Jr.’s Father’s Day recollection of Guffrie M. Smith, Sr.:

    Because of his humble beginnings, you were in awe of what my father accomplished. His mother died when he was five, and he was raised by his uncle, who worked him from sunup to sundown and hired him out to a dairy farmer. He always said, “Work never killed anyone.” If work killed anyone, it would have been him.

    Sometimes, we learned more about Sandy from one of those assignments, as in a story on our first jobs:

    I was a carhop in Phoenix at a Dog n Suds Root Beer drive-in. People parked beside a speaker and placed their orders. We carried hotdogs and root beer in mugs to the car on a tray that fit into the window slot. Diners ate in their cars. It didn’t pay much, but I loved working nights under the desert sky.

    Among the love stories Sandy told was How I Met Your Father.

    Our match was made, not born, she confessed of a pursuit and retreat that spanned the continent, from the campaign headquarters in Northern Virginia where they met to California.
    “I want to get married,” I told him a couple of years in.
    “What if I don’t?”
    “Then I’ll go away.”
    I accepted an invitation to work on a political campaign in California.
        “Don’t come for me without a piece of paper in your hand,” I told him.
        I packed my car and headed west.
    Eventually, he followed.
    I got a message that Charlie was in the air and would arrive at 5pm. I didn’t know that Charlie broke a Saturday night date and got drunk on champagne with his roommate, toasting his future married life.

    That was 45 years ago last month.
    Charlie recalled a bit of that story when he called to tell me that Sandy had died and he wondered what kind of a life he’d have without her.
    How I wish the storyteller were as durable as the story.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Wolverine finally finds his purpose in this excellent action drama

In the year 2029, mutants are dying out. None have been born in decades, and survivors hide from the world. They live on in comic books that fictionalize their powers and exploits.
    Logan (Hugh Jackman: Eddie the Eagle) used to be a comic hero. He was called Wolverine when he worked with the X-Men, before he abandoned the fight for truth and justice. Logan now works menial jobs, saving money to buy a boat and escape to sea with his mentor, powerful psychic Professor X, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart: Blunt Talk). This is not a pleasure cruise. Xavier has seizures that radiate a mile of painful deaths.
    Desperate for money, Logan is hired by a terrified woman who begs him to take her daughter Laura (Dafne Keen: The Refugees) to a safe haven. Laura, she claims, is a mutant hunted by the government. Logan is skeptical until he sees Laura’s frightening powers.
    Xavier persuades him to help, and soon, Logan’s taking a kid he doesn’t want to a place he doesn’t believe in, lugging along a sick and dangerous old man.
    A bloody drama masquerading as an X-Men movie, Logan is by far the best offering of the mutant film series. Dark, pensive and violent, it explains why Logan is angry and withdrawn. Director James Mangold (The Wolverine) has slowly been building the Logan character into the grizzled anti-hero so beloved in comic books. Now Mangold abandons the family-friendly Marvel veneer for a character piece that offers surprising depth and excellent performances. You’ll see just how bloody those cool Marvel battles would be if set in a realistic environment. The story has substance as well, weaving in commentary about migrant populations, unregulated corporations and a militarized government.
    Over nine films, Jackman has perfected Logan’s gruff look and nature. It is shocking, however, to see what that actor can do with a fully realized character to play. Instead of spouting catch phrases and chomping on a cigar, Jackman puts in real emotional work, showing just how badly the world has beaten him.
    As his nearly silent sidekick, Keen is a real find. With an expressive face, impressive combat skills and impeccable comic timing, she holds her own in scenes with Jackman and Stewart. Keen’s Laura is more than a precocious kid. Near feral, she is a danger to herself and others.
    Logan is not word-accurate to the Wolverine comics, but it is what every comic-book movie should aspire to be: A relatable human story writ large. This film proves it’s possible to make a good drama out of a superhero film.

Great Action • R • 137 mins.

You’ll wish you could leave the kids home and go to camp yourself

It’s going to be a long hot summer.    
    Hot is a bet. When February runs to the 60s and 70s, what can we expect in June, July and August? In this era of wacky weather, we might have snow for Labor Day. But I’m betting on a hot and humid summer with plenty of storms.
    Long is a fact. By executive order of Gov. Larry Hogan — acting on the revenue-rich idea of Comptroller Peter Franchot — summer vacation now runs through Labor Day.
    School summer — which is the standard for most families — begins June 14 in Anne Arundel County and June 15 in Calvert County, or maybe as early as June 7 if snow days go unused.
    So summer lasts 12 weeks, a quarter of the year.
    Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it: three months of release for nine months of regimentation. Many a kid is gleeful at the prospect, and not a few adults envious.
    I’d sure like to have that spread of lazy days on my hands. I imagine lounge chairs and cool drinks, beach, Bay, boats and books — plus more than a little time at the pool. I’d lose my cell phone and discharge my computer.
    Parents may not look so rosily at 2017’s endless summer. For when school is out, they’re mostly not. Working or not, they’ve got to figure out what to do with the kids. For the stay-at-home parent, that means entertainment — for who can bear the nagging repetition of Mom, I’m bored? For the conscientious parent, it also means education, lest bored and fallow young minds forget much of what they’ve just crammed in.
    That’s why we send the kids to camp.
    Reading Bay Weekly’s Early Bird Camp Guide this week is like reading travel invitations to exotic places.
    The camps partnering with Bay Weekly offer very attractive ways to keep minds and bodies active when school is out.
    If outdoor living is what you and your kids want — or what you want for your kids — you’ll find plenty that we all remember, and way more. Zip-lines and white-water rafting add extremes of fun at Camp Hidden Meadows, in the Allegheny Mountains, while Girl Scouts at Camp Conowingo get to choose to live in yurts, cabins or tents.
    Closer to home and more affordable are Recreation and Parks day camps in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and Calvert County that not only take kids outside but also develop special interests. Yoga, fencing, colonial adventures, rock climbing, Broadway & Bop — those are only the tip of the iceberg of summer fun.
    You can infuse summer fun with religious values at camps operated by Annapolis Area Christian School, Grace Brethren Church Summer Adventures, Mount Zion UMC Camp, Saint Margaret’s Day School Camp and Saint Martin’s Summer Fun-in-the-Field.
    Read on, and you’ll fine that special interests are the specialty of our many camp partners. Archaeology, art exploration, ballet and dance, drama, glass blowing, eco-adventures, horseback riding, ice skating, Native American heritage, math, rock music, sailing and STEM skills are all here. Kids with those enthusiasms can become young masters in a week or two. Camps are so diverse that one, Naptown Sings, meets in Metropolitan Lounge, an Annapolis music venue.
    With choices like those and much more, you’ll wish you could leave the kids home and go yourself.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

An actor playing Willy Loman descends into madness as he fixates on revenge

Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti: Shahrzad) and Emad (Shahab Hosseini: Shahrzad) wake in the middle of the night as their house crumbles. In the midst of producing Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Death of a Salesman, they must make time to find a new home.
    A costar seemingly solves their problem by offering an apartment in a building he manages.
    There the last tenant, and her profession, come back to haunt Rana and Emad. A former client looking for the prostitute finds Rana alone and assaults her in the shower.
    She refuses to talk about the assault or call the police, but Emad can’t let the violation go. By night he plays Willy Loman; by day he searches for the rapist. In his obsession, Emad fails to notice Rana’s deterioration.
    Is he doomed to the misery of the character he portrays on stage?
    This gripping drama about how people deal with trauma is beautifully shot and acted. Director Asghar Farhadi (The Past) is a master at mining seemingly mundane situations and stories for emotional drama. With a more dramatic catalyst than in his usual subject matter, he dissects Emad’s reaction to the assault and chronicles his slow descent into madness as he fixates on revenge.
    Hosseini gives a powerful performance. His Emad is a progressive who’d never identify himself as a domineering husband. But the assault changes him. From self-effacing and sweet, he becomes brutish and loud, demanding his wife agree that finding the rapist will fix their problems.
    As Rana, Alidoosti makes the most of a secondary role. Devastated but attempting to move on, she becomes brittle, seconds from a breakdown, with a husband who cannot see her pain.
    Farhadi offers no easy solutions. He’s interested in how people react and how situations unfold. This can be frustrating, but it gives you plenty to talk about on the way home.

Great Drama • PG-13 • 125 mins.

Attack overgrown plants before this year’s growth starts

If you have overgrown plants that are smothering the house or taking over the landscape, now is the time to strike. Hollies, yews, viburnums, forsythia, azaleas, rhododendrons and many more take well to hard pruning. Butterfly bush should be pruned very hard, to within inches of the ground, every year.
    The only plants you can’t prune severely are conifers such as junipers, cedar, pine, spruce and fir. These species do not form adventitious buds, nor do they have latent buds capable of sprouting after all other buds have been removed.
    Brutal pruning to lower the height and spread of plants is best timed when the plants are dormant, meaning several weeks before the soil begins to warm. Well-established vigorous plants have extensive root systems in the ground with an abundance of reserved energy. Early pruning directs that reserved energy to the most viable vegetative buds in the stems. Thus the earlier plants are pruned hard before growth starts, the more new growth they will generate.
    If you are cutting azalea stems the size of your index finger, as soon as temperatures rise you will see hundreds of green buds emerging from under the bark up and down that stem. Each of those buds is capable of producing branches. While the buds are still soft and green, wipe away at least half of them with your fingers. If you allow all of those buds to produce branches, the stems will look like a bottlebrush.
    When pruning forsythia and weigela, always remove branches that have gray bark near the base of the plant. Prune as close to the ground as possible to promote new vigorous stems to emerge from buds at the soil line. Remove all stems smaller than a pencil in diameter. These weak, flimsy shoots will generally not flower and will only droop with the ends of the stems touching the ground and rooting in.
    When pruning lilacs, inspect the larger stems for borer holes. Lilac borers generally attack stems one-and-a-half to two inches in diameter. Cut infected stems near the ground, and either burn or send them away with the trash. Allowing those infested stems to remain will only result in younger stems becoming infested before they approach maturity. You don’t want that because lilac flowers are produced on second-year wood.
    Do not try to rejuvenate any plant whose stump is larger than two inches in diameter by cutting it back to the ground. Stumps are capable of sprouting, but the sprouts will topple when the center of the old stump, which is mostly dead tissue, begins to rot, two to three years after it has been cut.
    To maintain generally well-behaved plants, prune after flowering when the petals are dropping to the ground.


Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. Please include your name and address.

Check out Calvert Marine Museum’s new otter and otter cam

They are otterly adorable. The two North American river otters, 14-year-old Chumley (aka Squeak) and year-old Chessie-Grace (aka Bubbles), love to romp and play throughout their habitat at the Calvert Marine Museum. Now you can see what’s going on behind the scenes in their indoor habitat when you can’t see these furry mammals in-person.
    A newly installed otter cam lets you experience remotely what’s up with these museum favorites seven days a week. Log in to get a peak: http://www.calvertmarinemuseum.com/375/River-Otter-Live-Cam.
    “Visiting in-person is always best, as the new lodging area includes a feeding panel that allows guests to get face-to-face with the otters while they dine,” says Dave Moyer, curator of Estuarine Biology. “When you need to get your otter fix, remember a great time to view the cam is during feeding times.”
    The indoor holding area where the otters reside has been updated with new nesting dens, play yards, an infinity pool and LED lighting.
    Plus a newly rescued otter from Louisiana has joined the exhibit.
    “He was extricated from an aquaculture pond,” Moyer explains. “On a fish farm, it is bad for business to have otters eating all your profits.”
    After acclimating and getting a clean bill of health from the museum veterinarian, What’s His Name may join Chumley and Chessie-Grace.
    “It will depend on the animals as to whether he stays separated,” Moyer says. “Personalities and social dynamics play huge roles.”
    Chumley, also rescued as a pup, came to the museum via Clearwater Aquarium in Florida. Chessie-Grace was hand-raised and bottle-fed after her mother failed to care for her pups.
    Guess the newcomer’s name and win a one-hour behind-the-scenes tour with the otters and animal care staff.
    Otter Name Game clues appear each Wednesday at noon on the Otter Cam website and the museum’s Facebook page.