The good luck trail leads through Vegas to the land of dragons


January 28, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

The Randallstown Cougar prowls the night! It stalks house pets and terrifies small children. Like the Buffalo Bills, it's ba-a-a-ck! A Baltimore County man found big footprints in the snow behind his house this week. He thought it might be the notorious Randallstown Cougar, often sighted in the area but never confirmed as real. Two fellows from the Department of Natural Resources came out, examined the prints, noted that the prints showed claws. (When they walk, cougars retract their claws; they only use their claws for killin'.) Anyway, it wasn't the Randallstown Cougar. It was the Neighbor's Labrador Retriever. So don't get excited.

Las Vegas detour

State Del. Gary R. Alexander loves ice hockey. He loves the Caps. So does his 21-year-old son, Cory. Last fall, they noted that the Caps were offering some of their fans a chance to go on a road trip -- to Quebec and Montreal in January. Sounds like a journey into a deep freeze, no? "I didn't think about that back in the autumn," Alexander says. "So my son and I signed up for the trip. So did my law partner [Jim Cleaver] and his son." The Alexanders arrived at BWI late at night on Friday, Jan. 14, just as the Big Chill started to blow across North America on its way to the East Coast. "I wore all my arctic clothing," Alexander says. "Ski clothes, long johns, everything. We were prepared." But when he checked in at BWI, Alexander asked about weather conditions at his destination. "Quebec was 25 degrees below zero with a wind chill of minus 50. There were only two flights going out of BWI, both of them charters -- one for the Caps trip, the other a flight to Las Vegas. I checked conditions in Vegas. It was 65 there with clear skies." Alexander started pacing. He imagined himself sightseeing in Quebec, and he didn't like what he saw. So he made a decision. "It was probably the most impetuous, most spontaneous thing I ever did," Alexander says. "And I'm a lawyer and a politician and almost everything I do is kind of programmed and planned." Alexander and his son flew to Vegas for the weekend. Good call. "The weather was fantastic," Alexander says. And his law partner? He went to Quebec and, of course, will never hear the end of it.

Escaping the list

Bill Robie, an Arbutus guy, hates telemarketing. Who doesn't? It's on my Top 10 Gripe List, just above quarter-only parking meters, just below dry cleaners who crush shirt buttons. One call once in a while one can deal with, can't one? But when Robie's wife, then Robie himself, received separate calls over three days from a particularly persistent Bell Atlantic telemarketer, Bill got snarly. "I called Bell Atlantic and asked for the president of the company," he says. "They gave me his name, Fred D'Alessio, but they said I had to call him during business hours. I said, 'Why? He didn't call me during business hours.'" Through some luck, Robie found D'Alessio's home phone number, called his house, spoke with his wife, called back later and spoke with the Bell Atlantic-Maryland boss himself. "I said, 'Look, my Saturday was interrupted by your people and I thought you should get a taste of it.' " According to Robie, D'Alessio was apologetic and pleasant, and he agreed Robie should never have received a second call after his wife hung up on the first one. According to his spokesman, D'Alessio had Robie's name taken off the Bell

Atlantic call list.

Making a difference

Jim Lark has the pond but it's leaking. What he needs now is clay. Actually what he needs is someone to haul the clay. "The clay has been donated from a place up in Abingdon," Lark says. "We need it for a 1-foot liner around the pond." Lark is the founder of a nonprofit organization called Fun Fishing Without Barriers, Inc. What he wants to do is make pond fishing accessible to people with physical handicaps. The land for the pond, in Freeland, northern Baltimore County, was donated in 1992, and now Lark and his fishing buddies are trying to get it stocked -- the state Department of Natural Resources agreed to donate the bass -- and ready for summer fishing. Lark will have a booth this weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Hunting and Fishing Show at the Cow Palace in Timonium. Former Oriole Mike Flanagan, who loves to fish and volunteered to help FFWB, is bringing some of his Bird pals to Lark's booth Sunday afternoon.

The dragon beat

That's our -- you work in Baltimore once, we get a little possessive about you -- Gayle Gardner hosting "Getting Healthy" on the new (but not available here yet) Television Food Network, described by Walter Goodman of the New York Times as "a 24-hour pit stop on the information superhighway." This is the All-Nosh Network. (Kathleen Sullivan need not apply.) Gayle Gardner left NBC Sports for this job. (She left Baltimore a while ago, after spending three years here as sportscaster on WJZ-TV.) She co-hosts "Getting Healthy" with Dr. Stephanie Beling and they take calls. Recently, they interviewed a Chinese herbalist who claimed his liver improved after eating dragon bone. Good luck, Gayle. I wish you'd come back to Baltimore.

It's that season again. This Just In is looking for the Pothole From Hell. If there's a particularly monstrous pothole on the street where you live, work or play, give us a call (332-6166).

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