FOUR SCORE AND many moons ago, I set out to boldly write where no columnist has gone before, to seek out strange new stories — oops, I’ve done it again.
This was supposed to be an apology for recycling classic works of literature into weekly columns about the North Olympic Peninsula, and I ripped off Abe Lincoln, “Star Trek” and Britney Spears in the first sentence.
It all started when I got busted for stealing Leo Tolstoy’s How Much Land Does a Man Need in my July 8 column.
Tolstoy’s guy walks in a big circle to claim land and dies. He only needed enough land to bury him in.
In my column, the guy cuts firewood until he dies, and all he needed was enough wood to build his coffin.
That was wrong. I should have made the woodcutter a vampire to glom onto the Twilight craze in my latest copycat vampire thriller, “Twilight on Brokeback River.”
I thought nobody read Tolstoy anymore.
The next thing I knew, the sleuths from the Geneva Convention of Columnists wanted to talk downtown. It took them about a minute to get me to confess to practicing journalism without a license.
What do you expect? I am a product of the local school system.
Educated beyond my intelligence, unfit for government service, I became a freelance columnist.
I ran out of ideas and went to the dark side — the library.
I wrote a Christmas thing where Bella sold her fly rod to buy Ray Bob a tackle box while he sold his Ray-Bobbers to buy her a fly reel.
That was O. Henry, Gift of the Magi.
Or how about the time I gave the punk on the skateboard $20 to get the hundred-pound salmon the old poacher had hanging in his smoke house.
That was Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Or when the snow put out my fire. That was Jack London’s To Build a Fire.
“The Grandfather Tree” was from Grey Owl’s Tales of an Empty Cabin.
“Fishing for Love” was courtesy of the Beatles.
My fishing rod is named Charlene. That and most of the rest of the column was from Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.”
“The Love Birds” was an attempt at Nabokov’s Lolita.
My name is Pat . . . I am a Fishaholic?” AA, duh.
“Tourist Season,” Francis Parkman’s Oregon Trail.
“Thanksgiving,” Will Rogers.
“Firebuilding,” Will Shakespeare.
“Thank you for . . .,” “Mean Gene” Kiniski, Canada’s greatest professional wrestler.
I don’t have a “Good Old Uncle Joe.” That was FDR’s nickname for Josef Stalin, who did not say, “One acre of paved over farmland is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”
You get the idea. No wonder a reader suggested I switch to doing Connie Francis impressions.
So I will.
Starting with “Who’s Sorry Now” on my weekly “WildLife Radio” show. It’s like a Sequim “Prairie Home Companion” (Garrison Keillor), but it’s not.
There is only one column I’m not sorry I stole, “The Fisherman’s Prayer.”
Based on the Lord’s Prayer given to us by Jesus, the Fisherman’s Prayer has been reformulated for today’s tough fishing conditions (Billy Mays infomercial). The fish on my blog were all taken with the Fisherman’s Prayer.
Recently we put the Fisherman’s Prayer to the ultimate test in Alaska (Bassmasters), where it outfished two boatloads of the most viscous anglers to ever thrash the water, while I spent days on my knees crying (Jimmy Swaggert) about how I wanted to be “adopted into my grizzly family” (Timothy Treadwell, “Grizzly Man”).
So I smeared myself with bacon-scented mosquito repellent and floated downstream to the bar (Anais Nin).
You may now return to your normal newspaper columns (“Outer Limits”).
Pat Neal is a fishing guide and writer. His column appears in the PDN every Wednesday.
He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or [email protected] Check out his blog: http://patnealwildlife.blogspot.com.
Pat’s latest book, WildLife Volume 2, and a CD of WildLife Stories is available at Jim’s Pharmacy in Port Angeles.