Thursday, July 20, 2017
In fairness though, we did have stress relief gadgets which teachers gladly let us carry into class and fidget with to our hearts content. They were called "pens." The complex ones like the Paper Mate Power Point and the Bic 4-Color were the best. They could be disassembled then reassembled in various ways over and over again; great for both relieving tension and building manual dexterity. But even the simple Bic Cristal made an adequate fidget. Michael Perry recently posted an essay on one very specific way of fidgeting with a Cristal, but that was a little too "hoodlum"for my taste. I preferred to simply remove the nub and ink tube and the little plug from the top and see if I could reassmble the pen backwards. (You can, but it's not very satisfying) When I tired of that, I would take the plastic cap and bend the pocket clip back and forth in an attempt to get it to break. And that, my friends, is where the Bic Cristal excels as a fidget device. I'm not sure what kind of plastic that cap was made of, or whether the caps today are even made from the same stuff, but let me tell you this; separating that clip from the rest of the cap was a task back in the day. It took hours and hours of bending back and forth to even thin out the plastic, and a good week of intermittent bending to actually break one loose. I carried those clipless pens like a badge of honor. Alas, only I knew the time and effort that went into them. Pretty much everybody else just thought I picked them out of the trash.
Monday, July 17, 2017
While there are certainly vintage plastic tackle boxes out there, I limit myself to metal exclusively. First of all, almost no metal tackle boxes were manufactured after the mid-70's, so any metal box you come across is going to be at least 40 years old and probably owned by an "old school" fisherman. Further, I like the classic look and heft of metal tackle boxes, although after purchasing a couple from EBay it becomes pretty apparent why plastic quickly took over as the material of choice. The very nature of fishing guaranteed that these boxes were subjected to wet conditions and any well-used box is going to be at some stage of rusting away, especially the bottom panel. I also try to limit my purchase price to $50 or less. More than that and a collector has seen something he likes and I will find myself in a bidding war I am not going to win.
A couple of "hidden gem" items from the box included a neat metal container of splitshot, what appears to be a hand-carved articulated crankbait and something called a Trav-L-Bob (Your passport to a new experience in fishing) which seems to be a sort of a mini planer board for bait casting. The box also contained the sort of junk that can be found in any decent tackle box; random knots of line with sinkers, kooks, swivels and bobbers still attached, a pair of old fashioned nail cutters that were so rusted I couldn't get them open and the ubiquitous (and practically useless) stamped metal fish scaler. If I add the value of all the items up, I would probably come somewhere close to the $40 (plus shipping, I think I must be the only vendor on EBay that ships for free) I paid for the tackle box at auction. So, now that I have the tackle cleaned and sorted will I just put it on a shelf and admire it? Of course not. That's not what the fisherman who put this together would have wanted. He would have wanted his stuff to have a second life and so it will... on my next fishing trip.
Monday, July 10, 2017
The Poacher's Son is the first in a series of novels featuring Maine game warden Mike Bowditch. As the story begins, Mike is a 20-something warden just barely removed from training and working in a small coastal town. He lives alone, having recently split with his girlfriend over his choice of occupation and her desire to live a more "urban" existence. Late one summer night, he gets a phone message from his estranged father. Events unfold and he finds himself defending his fugitive dad from murder charges, perhaps at the expense of his fledgling career.
We learn that Mike's relationship with his father is complex and fraught with ugliness. Doiron paints an accurate and disturbing picture of a basically good person coming to grips with the way he was raised and the limitations of his father's love and acceptance. Interjected into the story is a father figure, retired warden Charley Stevens, who is everything that Mike wishes his father had been. It's a touching portrayal that may be just a bit heavy-handed at times but ultimately works. Charley helps Mike get to the bottom of the murders, and in doing so, put his conflicted feelings about his father behind him.
As a mystery, the story is okay, especially for a first-time author trying to establish characters and setting while working through the narrative. I'll give Doiron points for not getting too cute with the big reveal or coming up with some out-of-left-field ending. Having said that, there was a point at which I thought the story might be heading in a different direction and I think that might have been an interesting path to meander a little farther down.
If, like me, you are a fan of Box, James W. Hall's Thorn series or the even quirkier Keith McCafferty fly fishing mysteries, you will definitely enjoy this book. I'm giving it a B+ and am looking forward to checking out the other eight titles in the series.
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