or, perhaps Olive the Woolly Blogger...

Month: November 2011

Getting to know: Stan the Stimulator


This is the third in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Read the first interview here, and the second interview here.

Today, Olive welcomes one of her favorite friends from The Fly Box, the very lively Stan the Stimulator.

Olive: Hi Stan, thanks for taking the time to stop by today!


Olive: (laughs) Oh, man, Stan–I almost forgot how enthusiastic you are!  Can you do me a favor?


Olive: (still laughing) Can you, um, use your indoor voice…please?

Stan: NO SWEAT, WOOLLY B!  Sorry, I mean, sure– no problem! Sorry I guess I get a little excited when talkin’ fly fishin’!  WOOT WOOT!!!

Olive: Well, let’s talk about that, then.  So, you’re obviously a Stimulator. Tell the audience a bit more about yourself.

Stan: You got that right, Olive–I am a STIM-U-LATOR. I’m all about action…STIMULACTION!

Olive: (still laughing) What do you mean by that, Stan?

Stan: Well, you can see for yourself, I’m big and bright and bushy. I am the HACKLE MASTER!  I’m all about getting fish excited. You can call me STAN THE FISH MAN…I am LARGE and IN CHARGE!!!

Olive: (rolls her eyes, smiling) Are all stimulators just like you?

Stan: Well, not exactly. There are different color variations, but I’m tied with a yellow body, so when fish see me, they see a big old golden stonefly, and anyone who knows fly fishing knows that fish go CRAZY for GOLDEN STONES!!! (hops up and down)

Olive: Well, I must admit, you are hard to ignore!

Stan: That’s right, Olive–not much about me is…um…

Olive: Subtle?

Stan: YEAH, that’s the word…subt– see?  I can’t even SAY it!!! HA HA!

Olive: So, it’s safe to assume that you’re a dry fly, right?

Stan: ROGER THAT. Stan the Man is a Dry Fly Guy! I am ALL about the FLOAT, just like a BOAT!

Olive: So let’s talk about that for a minute. You do look like you would float really well.

Stan: WORD!  I’m at my best in extreme water…you know, when the going gets ROUGH, Stan gets TOUGH!

Olive: Can you explain that to those who don’t know what you mean?

Stan: I’m built to float HIGH and DRY in fast water that would sink most other flies. I’m built like a TANK, but I bob like a CORK!!!  You see, stoneflies skim along the surface of the water, in riffles and rapids where they lay their eggs. The best fly imitations are ones that can skitter and skate over fast water without becoming waterlogged or soggy. BADDA-BOOM, BADDA-BINGULATOR–it’s time for STAN THE STIMULATOR!!!

Olive: Oh Stan, you crack me up! But even though you kinda like to brag, I know that deep down you’ve got a heart of gold.

Stan: Stan is all about sharing the love. My heart is GOLD like a GOLDEN STONE, baby!!! I love EVERYONE!

Olive: And everyone loves you, Stan. You are a LOT of fun to have in The Fly Box. We’re all different, but that’s OK because we all do different things.

Stan: I KNOW, RIGHT?!! I think it’s SUPER COOL the way you can swim UNDER the water…I mean, WOW–I couldn’t do that even if I tried!  Well, maybe if someone tied a boat anchor to my line, then I might be able to sink, but I wouldn’t know what to do if I did! IT WOULD STINK IF STAN WERE TO SINK!!!

Olive: Well, I don’t think we have to worry about that. It’s sure fun to watch you do what you do, and you always have a great attitude. I’ve only seen you discouraged once. Remember that?

Stan: Oh yeah, I remember. It was our first time at the Big Stream, and NOBODY was catching fish. I was beginning to think there were no fish in the river until you rocked that Rainbow–BOO-YAH!!! Score ONE for O the WOOLLY B!!!

Olive: Thanks, but I think I just got lucky that day.  We’ve all learned a lot since then. OK, Stan–I know it’s hard for you to sit still for too long so I have just one more question. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Stan the Stimulator, who would you choose?

Stan: (silence)

Olive: Stan?  This isn’t like you to be at a loss for words…

Stan: Sorry, my mind is SPINNING IT’S WHEELS…OK, I got it…definitely JIM CARREY!!! No, WAIT…ROBIN WILLIAMS!!! Oh MAN- this is SO HARD!  Either of them would ROCK! Oh hey, look- a SQUIRREL!!!

Jim Carrey

Robin Williams

Getting to know: Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear

Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear

This is the second in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Read the first interview, here.

Today, Olive talks with her best friend whom she met on her first day at Camp Tightloops, Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear.

Olive: Gilbert! Thanks for stopping by to chat with me today.

Gilbert: Thanks for inviting me, Olive. This is pretty cool that you have your own blog. Maybe I should call you Olive the Woolly Blogger!

Olive: (laughs) You’re silly, Gilbert. So, tell us–what is a Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear? By the way, that’s a mouthful so we’re going to abbreviate it with GRHE, OK?

Gilbert: (laughs) Sure thing! I’m not very big, but I definitely have a big name! A GRHE is a nymph fly tied to imitate baetis (mayfly) nymphs. Most mayflies aren’t very big, so that’s why I’m small.

Olive: What’s a nymph, for those who don’t know?

Gilbert: A nymph is an immature insect, before it hatches into an adult with wings. Nymphs live underwater where they swim around or crawl on rocks.

Olive: So how do you go about fishing? Do you zip and dart like a streamer?

Gilbert: Mostly what I do is bounce along the bottom of the river like a real insect nymph tumbling in the current. It’s called ‘dead drifting.’

Olive: Dead drifting? That sounds kinda scary!

Gilbert: Oh, it’s not scary at all. It just means that the fly drifts naturally in the water as if its not attached to a line. I need to look as realistic as possible in order to fool fish, because as you know, fish can get pretty smart.

Olive: You look pretty real to me! I bet you fool a lot of fish.

Gilbert: Thanks! I don’t always catch fish, but nymph fishing is a pretty effective way to catch fish since fish eat most of their meals under the water.

Olive: I’d never met a nymph before I went to Camp Tightloops. Do you remember when we first met at camp?

Gilbert: Of course I do! You were feeling pretty sad because the dry flies were teasing you. That wasn’t very nice of them. The dry flies were sort of a clique, like an exclusive bunch of popular kids. Since I wasn’t one of the cool kids I knew exactly how you were feeling.

Olive: That was really nice of you to approach me and become my friend. Luckily the dry flies didn’t all turn out to be snobs, except for Randal the Royal Coachman.

Gilbert: Yeah, I don’t understand why Randal had such an attitude problem. He was never nice to anyone if they weren’t a dry fly. But karma came back to haunt him because he didn’t make it into The Fly Box.

Olive: Yeah, I actually felt bad for him on graduation day. I wish the best for Randal. Maybe he’s changed by now. I think everyone can change and become better.

Gilbert: I agree. Change is what makes fly fishing so much fun, because sometimes the fish like one fly, and the next minute they want something different.  We have to be willing to change flies and try something new. There’s no point in arguing over what works best, because what works best now may not work at all tomorrow!

Olive: That’s so true. And we all have our own talents and that’s what makes us unique.

Gilbert: Yep, and I love to watch different flies at work. It’s fascinating to me how the dry flies can float, and how streamers, like you, can zip and dart.

Olive: And I like watching how you can dead drift. I’m gonna try that sometime–it actually looks fun!

Gilbert: It is fun, and you should totally try it. Woolly Buggers are great for dead drifting!

Olive: Thanks, Gilbert. I’m going to do that next time I go fishing. Speaking of which, have you been fishing much lately?

Gilbert: Not as much as I’d like. It’s winter time and trout fishing can be pretty slow this time of year. When the water gets cold the fish aren’t very active, but I still like to go as much as possible. Fish still have to eat, after all, and nymph fishing can be very effective during the winter months.

Olive: So, we’ve been best friends for a long time. Not only were you my first friend, but you also rescued me in the third book, Olive Goes for a Wild Ride. Thanks for that, by the way!

Gilbert: You’re very welcome, Olive. That was quite a surprise to me when I found you in the third book. I’m sure glad I did because you had been on a really wild adventure. We were all glad to have you back in The Fly Box!

Olive: Thanks. It was great to be back home, too. One more question. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear, who would you choose?

Gilbert: Jimmy Kimmel. He’s funny and seems like he’d be a nice guy. And I know for sure he’s a fly fisherman because he’s talked about it and shown photos of himself fishing on his show. I think I look a little bit like him, too. Just kidding, Jimmy (laughs).

Jimmy Kimmel

Getting to know: Mr. Muddler Minnow

Muddler Minnow

This is the first in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Today, Olive interviews her mentor, Camp Tightloops counselor, and all around good guy, Mr. Muddler Minnow.

Olive: Hi, Mr. Muddler Minnow–it’s great to see you!

MMM: Thanks for having me on the show today, Olive.

Olive: Let’s get right down to business.  You are, of course, a Muddler Minnow. What’s your favorite way to catch fish?

MMM: Well, I’m a classic old streamer, easily recognized by my spun deer hair head. There’s nothing I like more than swinging through the current and being strip-retrieved in short tugs. I love to zip and dart!

Olive: Me too!  In fact, you’re the one who taught me to zip and dart!  Up until then I thought I wanted to be a dry fly, but after you showed me my purpose in life I never looked back. What is it you like so much about zipping and darting?

MMM: As you know, Olive, big fish like to eat streamers because streamers represent very large insects, wounded baitfish, or just about any other form of aquatic food. And we represent a large meal. All size fish will try to snatch us up, but it’s the big fish that really go for streamers. When streamers are tugged in short bursts, the action of zipping and darting drives fish crazy!  I’m specifically tied to look like a sculpin, which is a small type of fish that larger fish love to eat. Streamers are irresistible.

Olive: I agree!  So would you say that streamer fishing is the best way to fly fish?

MMM: I don’t want to say that one method is better than another, because all styles of fly fishing have their benefits. I can also be used as a dry fly in certain instances, skated across the surface of the water. That can be a very exciting way to catch fish as well. It’s all good–that’s what makes fly fishing so fun.

Olive: That’s so cool. Sometimes I still wish I could float, but it’s OK that I don’t.

MMM: We’re all different, Olive, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all need to embrace what makes us unique and do our very best. And we also need to acknowledge that everyone has a purpose in life, and we shouldn’t judge others just because they’re different than us.

Olive: That’s for sure. You taught me that, and I may have never made it into The Fly Box if you hadn’t! So, tell me, are you retired now?

MMM: Well, I’m not sure if I can ever retire. As you know, I’ve been retired before, but I seem to have a hard time staying away from the water. I love to fish. I may not fish as often as I used to, but I love being in The Fly Box where I can help some of the younger flies learn their trade. And some of those grumpy old veterans can get a little bit critical sometimes so I need to keep them in check.

Olive: It’s fun to listen to the old timers argue and tell old stories.

MMM: Most of the stories they tell aren’t quite accurate, Olive. Much of what they’re saying are half-truths.

Olive: What do you mean by half-truths, sir?

MMM: (laughs) Well, most of the time the old veterans don’t remember how big the fish were that they caught a long time ago. Over time, the size of those fish tends to get bigger.

Olive: That’s funny.  But isn’t it true that long ago there were a lot more fish in the rivers? You know, back when the veterans were just rookies themselves?

MMM: Yes, that’s absolutely the case, Olive. I can confirm that when I was a much younger fly, the rivers had a lot more fish in them than most do today. It was a rare thing to go fishing and not come home with your limit.

Olive: So back in the olden days you kept your fish?

MMM: Sadly, yes.  We didn’t practice catch and release back then. We caught fish and kept them. We thought the fish were in endless supply. We didn’t mean to do anything wrong, we just didn’t know differently.

Olive: But now there aren’t as many fish, and most of the time it’s catch and release when we go fishing. Do you still enjoy it?

MMM: Oh, absolutely. The thrill of finding a fish and convincing the fish that I’m a real meal–that’s what I enjoy. I love the game of tug-of-war once I hook a big fish. I don’t mind releasing the fish one bit. You’re familiar with the expression, “There’s more to fishing than catching fish.” That’s very true. I just enjoy being outdoors in a natural setting, being cast into a beautiful piece of water, and looking for fish. And now I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping others become better fly fishing flies.

Olive: Do you ever keep fish any more?

MMM: Not often, but occasionally. When I’m fishing in a lake that has stocked trout, for example, I enjoy keeping a fish or two. Or when I have the occasion to fish for steelhead, I’ll definitely keep a hatchery fish. That’s why those fish were placed there: to be caught and kept. But I always release wild fish.

Olive: One more question. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Mr. Muddler Minnow, who would you choose?

MMM: Wow, that’s a tough choice, Olive. There are so many great actors with very distinct voices…three come to mind immediately: Wilford Brimley, Sam Elliot and Tom Selleck. There’s something about either of those gentleman that I can identify with. I hear they’re all fly fishermen, and I’d be honored if they were to play the voice of me.

Wilford Brimley

Sam Elliott

Tom Selleck


If Lewis and Clark could do it…

The Corps of Discovery

Without question, my favorite history topic is that of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Part of the appeal to me is that it was a monumental undertaking that required Undaunted Courage and perseverance nearly beyond comprehension. I don’t know if odds-makers were betting on Meriweather Lewis and William Clark, but the odds of them returning after a successful trip from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back would have been monumentally slim. These men pulled and rowed a heavy keelboat up the Missouri, dragged dugout canoes around the Great Falls and endured great hardships and dangers at the hands of weather and unfriendly Indian tribes along the course of their roughly 8,000 mile journey. They were a heartier stock than I, that’s for sure.

The other aspect of the journey that speaks to me is the romantic vision of the country through which the Corps of Discovery travelled: un-dammed rivers teeming with fish, prairies filled with abundant game–an unspoiled landscape. Of course the bittersweet aspect of the Lewis and Clark expedition is that their success was largely responsible for the eventual westward expansion that ultimately led to the demise of all that was so pristine when they passed through on their journey.

And we proceeded on…

More than 200 years have passed since Lewis and Clark returned successfully from their epic journey. They may not have succeeded in finding a “direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce with Asia”, but the expedition was successful in nearly countless other ways.

The goal of successfully getting an animated film produced is nothing like what the Corps of Discovery accomplished, and I dare not compare myself to Lewis and Clark. However I do find myself on a journey that is very much one of discovery, with daunting odds that will require determination and perseverance. Fortunately I don’t face physical danger from unfriendly opposition, and I can spend the forthcoming winter safely inside a warm home enjoying a balanced diet that does not include bitterroots.

It will require some luck and good fortune, but if Lewis and Clark could do it, so can Olive and Clark.

The Journey of Olive and Clark

Olive: Inspired by Cars

When Cars 2 was released to theaters earlier this year, I fully intended to see it. Unfortunately I did not. Jumping ahead to this past weekend, I finally got to watch it on pay-per-view. I enjoying all the familiar characters from the first Cars, as well as the new additions. If you haven’t seen Cars 2 yet, I highly recommend it. There’s a dastardly plot by an evil villain out for world domination, and it involves the oil industry. Very entertaining, and certainly a timely editorial on current events.

As the credits began to roll, it hit me: my concept for Olive’s animated film was missing one very important element: an evil villain with a plan so dastardly that it threatens to destroy the entire world (or at least the entire river).  Yes, the villainous character of Char the Bull Trout still remains, but by comparison with this new evil force, Char is a cuddly teddy bear. And no, the menace does not involve the oil industry.

So, now I’m putting my thoughts to paper, plotting the plot as it were. Everything I’ve developed thus far still fits nicely into the film outline, but now there is a truly dark force that Olive must contend with. It’s going to take the cooperation of all the fish in The Big Stream and all of creatures that rely on the river if they hope to stop this advancing menace. If they can set aside their differences and join forces they can save the Big Stream, and in doing so save themselves.

Does this make you even remotely curious?  I hope so.

I hope it makes some Big Fish curious, too.

That’s the plan. Stay tuned, and thanks for following along.