Hats off to the Muppets and Moppets

THIS JUST IN ...

November 11, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

First things first: I need to lay some high-fives on the custodial staff at the Baltimore Arena. We -- that's the 4-year-old lass who lives in our house and I -- went there the other morning for Sesame Street Live, and it was fab, baby, fab. We gave it a total of four thumbs up. As a troupe, the Muppets met their usual high standard.

But so did the Moppets.

The Moppets are the brave men and women who quickly and discreetly mop up and sweep up spilled drinks, popcorn, french fries and any other liquid or solid matter that might emanate from distracted children during big floor shows. ("Accidents," parents of small children call them, and there were plenty at the arena while I was there Thursday morning.)

I'm tellin' ya: We could have used the Moppets after the Exxon Valdez disaster; never have I seen such a quick response to calls for a cleanup. It was as though the concrete beneath each seat in the house had been sensitized to set off silent alarms at the first drop of fruit punch. Like members of an elite tactical force, the Moppets ambled stealthily down the steps in the dark, gathered the loose matter or mopped the squandered soda -- all with a minimum of inconvenience to spectators. The Moppets: They're awesome. High-fives all around.

You can bank on it

We are headed, of course, into another holiday season, and that means more bank robberies. We'll check in another two weeks to see if there's any reason to believe otherwise, but local police and the feds always anticipate a rise in stick-ups during November and December. It's a tradition. People are used to it, practically ho-hum about it. We ran into some of that ho-hum downtown Friday afternoon.

A "Closed Due To Emergency" sign went up around 12: 30 at the NationsBank branch on Calvert Street. Tellers locked up the inside doors, looking bored and bothered. A customer approached and said, "Oh, no, another robbery. I got caught inside during the last one and was stuck in there for an hour."

So everybody moved off a few blocks to the main downtown branch at Light Street, where lines were growing fast. People seemed put out by it all.

A woman said this was the second time she'd arrived at the branch just after a robbery.

"It's getting to be a regular occurrence," a man added.

"I better start writing the delay into my schedule," said another. What a country.

Glendening presses on

Among admirers at Friday's celebration of the state-owned technology center at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the governor of Maryland blamed his political troubles and unpopularity in the polls on -- what else? -- the press, specifically the daily you're reading at this very moment.

"As one who has suffered repeated political attacks in newspapers, it's nice to be before a friendly crowd," the governor told about 100 university, business and community leaders.

He then told a little story -- a fable, to be sure, but one rich in self-pity, reminiscent of William Donald Schaefer circa 1990 -- about a fishing trip on the bay with President Clinton. Clinton's hat blew off and landed on the water, you see, and the governor of Maryland walked across the water and retrieved the presidential hat. And do you know what the next day's Sun headline was? "Governor can't swim; citizens dismayed."

Screams! I'm tellin' ya! Screams!

Actually, there were just polite chuckles. Even Dutch Ruppersberger, who earlier in the week had blasted the governor for allegedly steering too much of the state's highway largess to his own Prince George's County, was seen to crack a smile.

Look it up

The song is almost 10 years old now, but it came like a fresh, hard punch out of a recent "Homicide" episode: "Cold Cold Ground" by Tom Waits. Awesome piece about fools, feuds and death. You could look it up.... For those who aren't on the Victoria's Secret mailing list, here's the latest catalog item: the diamond-studded Miracle Bra. Yours for $1 million. I think it's safe to say this is a "hand-wash-only" item.

Bang-bang, and safe

Is it possible Chuck Thompson remembers every play of every Orioles game he described on radio? Probably not. But in his new book, "Ain't the Beer Cold!" (with Gordon Beard, Diamond, $21.95), Thompson facilely relates so many vivid memories you'd swear he'd kept a diary. Just one example: "In another Orioles-Tiger game in Detroit, Frank [Robinson] was on first and [Paul] Blair on second when an Orioles' batter hit a ball into the right-center field gap. Frank knew the ball was going to drop, and was off and running. Paul held up momentarily around the shortstop position until he was certain the ball wouldn't be caught. By that time, Frank was only about two steps behind him. They rounded third, bang-bang, and I was amazed the speedy Blair wasn't opening up any daylight on Robinson. As they arrived at the plate, one slid to the right side and the other to the left -- and they were both safe!"

Pub Date: 11/11/96

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