Reporter’s Notebook: Purple-trators of some bicoastal smack -- Gazette.Net


Across Maryland, politicians are making bets with their counterparts in California that the Baltimore Ravens will defeat the San Francisco 49ers, but the strangest bet of all might be U.S. Rep. Andy Harris putting up delicious crab cakes to Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s box of Dewar’s taffy.

“I’ve heard great things about Dewar’s candy,” Harris said. “I can’t wait to enjoy their taffy. The sweetest victory will be Sunday, though, when the Ravens defeat the 49ers and bring the Lombardi Trophy back home to Baltimore.”

Taffy? Sounds more like a sucker’s bet. Crab cakes are something people can sit down and enjoy in a fine-dining experience, while a box of taffy? You bring that back from the beach to share with co-workers. And it usually sits ... for days ... or weeks ... or longer.

Meanwhile, the football rivalry has led to some smack-talking between the usually collegial U.S. senators from Maryland and California.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski sounded like the Baltimore native she is when she and Sen. Ben Cardin challenged California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

“While the 49ers may come in red and gold, they’ll be seeing nothing but purple when they leave,” Mikulski and Cardin wrote.

Cardin and Mikulski wagered Faidley’s crab cakes, Berger cookies and Heavy Seas beer, as well as a can of Mikulski’s favorite hair spray, in an apparent tribute to Baltimore director John Waters’ classic film and musical of said name.

Boxer and Feinstein, meanwhile, are putting up a Dungeness crab, Napa Valley wine, sourdough bread and a selection of Northern California cheeses.

“We feel that it is only fitting that crab is on the menu since you are likely to be feeling very crabby after a tough loss by your Ravens,” Boxer and Feinstein retorted to their Free State colleagues.

Oh, hon, it’s on.

— C. Benjamin Ford

Very superstitious

... And speaking of a certain game ...

Sen. Bobby Zirkin is going to the Super Bowl, but he doesn’t really want to talk about it. He declined to comment further, he said, because he didn’t want to jinx the Baltimore Ravens.

Zirkin has been to every playoff game this year, and, as we know, the Ravens have managed to pull off miraculous wins, even as the talking heads of football are forecasting losses.

So, look, we’re not suggesting anything magical about Zirkin’s presence in the stadiums where legendary linebacker Ray Lewis is dancing his way through the final games of his NFL career because that would just be silly and would totally jinx it. We’re not saying that.

But if you see him in the next couple of days, shake his hand or something. Not for luck or juju or anything. Seriously, guys, don’t jinx it.

— Holly Nunn

The most interesting birthday greeting in the world

Ben Kramer took the microphone on the House floor Monday to wish a happy birthday to a friend of his. A manly man, he said. A REALLY manly man, he said. A man so manly “women find him to be the life of the party, even when he never attended.”  

So manly “his mother has a tattoo that reads ‘son.’” So manly he once challenged himself to a staring contest and won four days later. So manly “sharks have a week dedicated to him, and Bigfoot think’s he’s a myth.” So manly his shirts don’t wrinkle, and his cereal doesn’t dare get soggy. So manly Chuck Norris calls him “sir.”

A man so manly “he can have a threesome — all by himself,” Del. Kramer said.

Wait. WHAT!?!?!

After that shocking conclusion, the lightly scandalized House members did indeed wish the manly man in question — Luiz Simmons, who turned 64 on Sunday — a happy birthday.

The Gazette was unable to independently confirm the precise extent of Simmons’ manliness.

— Daniel Leaderman

Swain steps in

Darren Swain was sworn in Monday for his second tour of duty in the House, where he’ll finish out the term of Tiffany Alston, who was removed from office in October (we’re sure this time; the judges said so).

After taking the oath, Swain grabbed the microphone in the House chamber to thank several of his supporters, friends and family members as well as Martin O’Malley, who appointed him rather than one of the three names suggested by the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee.

Swain jokingly said O’Malley “showed wisdom, if I do say so myself,” in appointing him.

He also thanked his friend, would-be delegate Greg Hall, who was the initial choice to replace Alston before criminal charges he faced as a younger man made him too hot to touch, politically speaking.

— Daniel Leaderman

Poetic cross-promotion

While most announcements in the chambers of the General Assembly are made to welcome various guests, remind committee members of hearing times and locations and to cheer on local sports franchises, Curt Anderson took to the House floor Tuesday with a different goal: to remind members of a certain historical anniversary.

“Once upon midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,” he recited. “Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore ...”

Sure enough, Tuesday was the 168th anniversary of the publication of “The Raven” by Baltimore resident Edgar Allan Poe, Anderson explained, saying he was inspired by some football team’s upcoming appearance in some big game or something.

— Daniel Leaderman

Not so short circuit

If you’ve ever talked to him for longer than about 90 seconds, you know that there’s just about nothing that gets Senate President Mike Miller more excited than history. The man loves all the histories, but especially Maryland history.

So on Monday night, while introducing winners of the Maryland Humanities Council’s Maryland History Day competition, he might have gotten a bit carried away in the moment — and made an inadvertent joke.

Gathering a group of the winners for a photo, Miller suggested Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin get in the shot. “We’ll need the wide-angle lens,” he said.

Jeers went up around the chamber, and Miller insisted he didn’t mean to make any comment on Pipkin’s size or level of fitness, adding in a clear attempt at backpedaling, “You should have seen him last year.”

It’s true that the minority leader is looking rather svelte lately, due in part, he said, to taking up cycling. Last summer, Pipkin rode across Iowa in the RAGBRAI, a weeklong, 468-mile annual bike trek.

No performance-enhancing drugs were involved, we trust.

— Holly Nunn