Baltimore holds answers to a puzzle

2b

December 23, 2005|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Still puzzling over last Sunday's New York Times crossword?

You could call 1-900-289-CLUE. Or, if you happen to be a Park School grad, save the $1.20-a-minute charge and phone up your old pals from the class of 2001, Ethan Cooper and Michael Shteyman. They are co-authors of the puzzle.

Cooper, who went on to the University of Chicago, then returned to Baltimore to work as a linguist, got his first puzzle published in The Times while still in high school. But this is the first time he got one in the Sunday paper.

He wasn't sure whether the puzzle was a Sunday first for Shteyman, a Johns Hopkins grad who works as an assistant to Times puzzle editor Will Shortz. (I couldn't reach him.)

Like a true puzzle wonk, Cooper explained that creating a Sunday crossword was a big deal not because the newspaper's circulation is bigger that day, but because the puzzle itself is bigger.

"It's 21 [blocks] by 21, sometimes 23 by 23," he said, "rather than 15 by 15."

Looking for a nice little country place?

The 18-acre estate for sale in Stevensville for nearly $6 million seems to have it all.

A mansion with "commanding" waterfront views throughout, including all six bedrooms and eight baths. Private shoreline, tennis courts and more space devoted to outdoor decks and patios -- 4,000 square feet -- than most people have inside their homes.

Not to mention a politically interesting provenance: It was built 13 years ago for state Sen. E.J. Pipkin.

So why is the retired Wall Street tycoon (and former U.S. Senate candidate) selling?

"The fact of the matter is, when you're in public life, you don't spend a lot of time at home," Pipkin said.

He's looking for downsized digs -- but still in the Eastern Shore's 36th District.

Slight chance of a short, sharp shock

Drew Latham decked his iron alley gate on Gough Street with Christmas lights, and the city of Baltimore added to the display -- by posting citations for an electrical hazard.

"They're saying ... someone could grab the gate and electrocute themselves," says Latham, 47.

Latham is refusing to take the lights down, saying he has been putting his hands on the gate twice a day without getting zapped. He asks: What about all the lights wrapped around iron front railings all around town?

City housing spokesman David Tillman says those are a danger, too.

"Any time you hang electrical on wrought iron, in the case where you have heavy rain or snow, it could become a hazard to anyone coming past," Tillman said.

Jack Lesho, director of the state Board of Electricians, says the potential for danger is real, though remote.

"If there's a short in the system ... if the grounding's not there in some of the older houses, it can be a problem," Lesho said. By "problem," however, he means a slight, tingling shock.

In order for someone to really get hurt, he says, "you'd actually have to latch onto it and there's standing water or something like that. The conditions would have to be absolutely perfect for that."

Hardly a man is now alive ...

William Donald Schaefer was first sworn in to office 50 years ago this month. Who better to share the anniversary with him than the other members of the 1955 Baltimore City Council?

Trouble is, Schaefer has outlived them all.

So Schaefer celebrated instead with his council colleagues' children, including Attorney General Joseph Curran and "Young Tommy" D'Alesandro, the former mayor whose father was mayor when Schaefer was sworn in. The grandson of Councilman Jacob Edelman also attended last week's surprise breakfast party at the downtown Sheraton.

Outstanding canine accomplishment

If Paris Hilton ever wins an Emmy or Nobel Prize or something, you'd expect her to collect the prize with a teensy-weensy doggie on her teensy-weensy arm.

So why wouldn't BettyJean Murphy claim her historic preservation board plaque wearing her fluffy white Maltese?

Like other outgoing members of the board, Murphy was honored for her service recently. Unlike the other board members -- perhaps unlike any member of any municipal board who wasn't visually impaired -- Murphy felt free to bring her doggie along to meetings.

Her chutzpah was rewarded. She got a plaque like everyone else, and so did her dog, Jock. He also got a special proclamation from city Planning Director Otis Rolley III for "outstanding behavior by a dog at a CHAP hearing." They even threw in a bone.

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