Don't bet on governor's use of 'gambling'

THIS JUST IN ...

March 19, 1997|By DAN RODRICKS

Did we hear that correctly? The governor of Maryland, who vehemently opposes the expansion of gambling in the state, is in some kind of betting man's game on the NCAA basketball tournament? Indeed. The governor let it be known in weekend interviews on WBAL Radio and WBAL-TV that he's been making picks in an office pool. (Somebody get this guy a pinky ring!)

In response to questions about Coppin State's upset of South Carolina Friday afternoon, the governor acknowledged that he hadn't picked Coppin to get past the first round. (No sentimentalist, this one.) The governor 'fessed up to his participation in the office pool during separate interviews with WBAL-AM talk-show host Bruce Elliott and Channel 11 anchorman Mark Hayes.

Apparently, the governor has had ample opportunity to make picks. I understand there's been robust betting on March Madness at the State House this year, and the organizer of the largest pool has a seat in the governor's inner circle.

Such pools are commonplace throughout the nation, of course, and widely tolerated by police. No big whoop.

Still, I find the governor's participation in one amusing and ironic. Just a month ago, he assembled 150 religious leaders, law enforcement representatives and elected officials to join him in vowing to oppose more gambling in the state. The governor is downright passionate in his opposition. "No gambling, not now, not ever," he said at one point. Pretty strong stuff.

But all those statements were aimed at casinos and slot machines, a member of his press staff said yesterday.

To which I could only say: Oh.

Albania contact

For the past month, during Albania's disintegration into anarchy, the Rev. Constantine "Father Dean" Moralis of Baltimore's Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation has been corresponding on the Internet with an old friend from theology school based in the capital, Tirana. Father Luke Veronis, a missionary priest, has been sending Moralis messages via America Online, describing Tirana's descent into chaos and violence and asking for prayers.

"Remember the people here who are suffering and who are afraid," Father Luke wrote the other night. "I must say this whole experience has made me identify much more with the millions of people around the world who suffer from violence and war. It's so easy for us to see a 30-second sound clip on the news and then turn the channel without thinking about all the fear and suffering of people, common people, men, women, children, just like you and me."

U.S. Marines airlifted Father Luke's wife, a missionary teacher, out of Albania the other day. The priest stayed behind. "He writes that he cannot preach to the people of the hope and love of God and abandon them," his friend, Father Dean says.

People go constantly to the Greek cathedral in Tirana to ask for help now. "Shops are being looted; stores are closed," Father Dean says. "The other night, [Father Luke] mentioned that an orphanage had been ransacked and that a factory had been burned. A woman, a factory worker, came to him in tears because that was the only work she knew."

Father Luke's e-mail address is FRLUKEol.com.

No etiquette license

Further evidence of the decline of Western civilization, from a friend who works downtown: "I stopped my car to let somebody cross the street at Calvert and Monument the other day. I had the light and needed to make a right. But the pedestrian was entering the crosswalk so, to avoid making contact with him, I waited. The guy in the white pickup behind me beeped his horn and gave me a dirty look."

Not nice

From a Boston Globe story about spring break in Florida: "'I like it here,' said Cindy Neunert, who came to Fort Lauderdale with three classmates from the College of William and Mary. 'I thought it would be a lot trashier and was pleasantly surprised. You don't feel like you're in Ocean City, Maryland. You feel like you're someplace nice.'"

Ouch.

Cryptic message

They arrived in a postmarked business-sized envelope last week: four items that, I suspect, are meant to form some kind of message to this columnist and perhaps his readers. But what message? Inside the envelope were:

1. The italicized tag that frequently appears at the end of TJI, listing the columnist's mailing address and phone number. It had been torn from The Sun. On the reverse are classified advertisements for dogs - American pit bulls and an Alaskan malamute.

2. A photograph of a Sony car stereo, with cassette player and quartz clock, clipped from an advertising supplement.

3. A recipe for "macaroni and cheese timbales," calling for, among other ingredients, four ounces of sheep's milk cheese.

4. The flap from a box of Little Debbie snacks.

I brought the items to two colleagues with keen analytical skills.

The first said: "What's the mystery? This is obviously a statement about values. It says the days when children could sit outside and eat Little Debbie snack cakes safely, or gather with their families to eat the comfort food of macaroni and cheese, are over. They have been replaced by an era of self-indulgence and materialism, symbolized by the car stereo."

The second said: "The Little Debbie logo introduces the idea of a time-tested American classic. The car stereo is the key clue. The important image is the digital clock, which suggests the passing of time and the coming of age of younger generations fidgety for change. Which leads to the recipe. It's good old-fashioned macaroni and cheese - except that it's no longer old-fashioned, and probably not as good. The message: If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Further speculations welcome. I'll let you know what Sister Rose thinks. I'm taking this matter to her next.

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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