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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Steve Martin

I just finished reading his memoir, Born Standing Up- A Comic's Life, and I liked it a lot. It's only funny in few places because he's basically a serious man who's lived a not very happy life. That Steve Martin is not the wild and crazy guy we first encountered in the 1970's is generally well known, so if the book is not very funny nor does it contain many surprises, what, you may ask, is the appeal?

It's an honest book, for one thing. Martin came from what is now called a dis-functional family with a cold and distant father, but there is no "poor, poor, pitiful me" in his writing. Martin believes the lack of paternal approval probably contributed to his drive to succeed in show business despite many unsuccessful early years.

He also doesn't bemoan the sacrifice of privacy that fame brings and quotes an observation that celebrities want fame when it's useful and don't when it's not. He feels he's reached a happy medium on this subject: "At first I was not famous enough, then I was too famous, now I am famous just right." He devotes more space to his early girl friends than his later relationships and marriages. As well as being basically a private person, he may legitimately feel the earlier romantic couplings are easier to understand and put in perspective.

His devotes attention to his first film, The Jerk, and says he immediately loved the social aspect of movie making in contrast to the lonely process of being a stand-up comedian. He praises the director, Carl Reiner, who he says taught him more about being a social person than any other person in his life. He doesn't say much about his subsequent movies. Personally, I like the earlier ones like Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and Pennies from Heaven and L.A. Story but have found his more recent movies to be mediocre. I suspect he had a lot of creative input to the earlier ones but since then has been a hired actor. He also doesn't discuss his growing career as a writer except to note that it was his play Picasso at the Lapin Agile that finally won him praise from his father. I went back and reread the introduction, and he does make it clear that the book's focus is on his career as a comedian. That accounts for the omissions about his later life, I guess.

One reason I like memoirs is that they are generally written by someone who has achieved some success who looks back on his life and presents what he feels is significant. With Steve Martin's, it may be notable what he chooses to leave out. I have heard that performers should leave the audience wishing for more, and with his economy of words and understated style, Martin achieves this with his memoir, at least for me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's the symbolism in boner pill ads?

I keep seeing a commercial, for Cialis I think, where a couple seems to bump into each other while doing yard work. They lock eyes and get immediately hot.

Ok so far, but then it gets surreal. Their house goes through a metamorphosis into a tent and the picket fence into a boardwalk leading to the woods. A campfire appears. The final shot is the same in all these commercials: The man and woman are outdoors in separate bathtubs.

I don't get it. Outdoor sex is great, but what's with the separate bathtubs? Yeah, the purpose of the product is to put lead in your pencil, but how does a house turning into a tent symbolize getting it on? And those outdoor bathtubs-who the hell sits in a tub outside?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dry flies on Morgan Run

Have felt the need to catch trout and three recent trips to the Middle Patuxent yielded none. Oh, I caught fish alright, bass, bluegill, fallfish, chubs, but no trout.

So today I headed north on Route 97 across the main branch of the Patuxent up through Howard County and across the Patapsco into Carroll County. When I got to the stream crossing on Klee Mill Road I noticed a surprisingly large number of cars in the parking lot, but my only concern was that my special pool, which I've christened "old reliable", would be occupied by another fisherman. No problem. It's too long a walk for most, and I after the first hundred yards walking along the stream I didn't see anyone.

As I threaded the four weight line into the rod I noticed two important things. The first was an annoying number of bugs crawling up my body onto the back of my neck. The second was rising fish. The two thing together added up to good news: There was a hatch of little black stone flies.

I sometimes think that given how long I've been doing it I should be a better trout fisherman, but I have learned a few things over the years. I know how to recognize this hatch and how to catch fish during it, so I tied on the appropriate floating fly and started casting. The action wasn't frantic but it was steady and included a handsome brown trout about sixteen inches. If we have another bad winter that fish will stay in my memory and help me through it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kayaking on Triadelphia Reservoir

Since there probably won't be many more opportunities before winter settles in, I decided to spend this afternoon on this lake which is on the border between Montgomery and Howard counties in Maryland. Although the temperature was mild, about 60 degrees, it was very windy with gusts up to 30 mph. Since fly fishing from a kayak in that much wind is frustrating, I decided to leave the fishing tackle home.

I found a peaceful cove where I could eat lunch out of the wind and take some pictures.

The reservoir was created in 1943 by the construction of Brighton Dam on the Patuxent River. There had been a village of Triadelphia, Maryland which went back to the early 1800's. The town was abandoned following a flood in 1889, and the remaining buildings lie beneath the waters of the lake. Flooding towns commonly occurs when a reservoir is made, and the movie Deliverance contains actual scenes of this process and incorporates it into the plot.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

University of Maryland Sports

Big Fan. Saw two of the three basketball games that the Terps have played so far this year, and they won all three.

Big win for the football team yesterday at Virginia which makes them 7-3 with two left. Will be there for the season's final game against NC State.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Backyard Bamboo Project

When last summer's storms took out some trees, we lost a lot of backyard privacy. Even before then I started considering building a screen, and I liked the Japanese touch that bamboo provides. The Big Bambu art project we saw in New York was a final inspiration to get off my ass and begin.

My handyman, Richard, installed the 4 x 4 posts, and I ordered the two inch diameter eight foot bamboo poles and the lashing cord from an internet retailer in Pennsylvania. Then it was just a matter of cutting some of the poles for the vertical pieces and lashing everything together.

The project spread over a couple of weeks because I underestimated the amount of cord and had to place additional orders. I learned rope lashing and knots from the Boy Scouts 50 years ago but never before used those skills on such a large project. There will be some final touches, but it's mostly done.

Another Fall picture taken about a week ago.