Praise the Lord and pass the M-16

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April 08, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Sgt. Maj. Frank Zepp will rise this Easter morning, as he does every morning in Baghdad, eager to spread the word of God. He'll do it armed with a 9 mm pistol and an M-16.

As assistant to the multinational corps' chief chaplain in Iraq, this Lansdowne native has a mission that's part altar boy, part bodyguard. He sets up candles and crosses, reads Scripture, leads singing - and stands ready to cut down anyone who might try to kill his boss, the chaplain, Col. Michael Tarvin.

The Army does not allow chaplains to bear arms, so they have assistants who provide "personal force protection" as well as help with their pastoral duties.

"We can be kneeling beside a dying soldier and giving them last rites and in a split second engage the enemy. Can you imagine kneeling next to a dying soldier and praying, `In the name of the Father and the Son,' and you turn around and" - he makes the sound of a weapon firing - "and the Holy Spirit. Amen?' It's not a weird mix for us."

While Zepp is comfortable in a role steeped in spirituality and danger, the 43-year-old bachelor didn't seem destined for either. As a youngster, he didn't attend church. As an adult, he worked security at Mrs. Filbert's Margarine, where the biggest threat might have been trans fats.

But as a middle school student, he tagged along with a cousin to Halethorpe Community Church and soon "came to know Christ." And a few years after his graduation from Lansdowne Senior High in 1981, after earning an associate's degree at Washington Bible College, he left Mrs. Filbert for Uncle Sam. He was looking for a bigger paycheck. He found a calling.

"We bring God to the soldier," he said, "and the soldier to God."

They got the old logo on the cheap

After I wrote about Maryland Institute College of Art's simple new logo - and the school's hifalutin description of it - I heard from Betty Walke, a 1982 grad. When she was a student, the school had a logo contest, which she entered and won.

"My concept (like the new logo) combined the old and the new," she said in an e-mail. "A classically inspired font was overlapped by a new wave hand-drawn script. In a pre-computer world, I employed rub down press-type with the old masters pen and ink. All done by the hand of (gasp!) an illustration major."

The prize: "[T]he honor of having the design emblazoned on a t-shirt, a free t-shirt and $35 in merchandise at the school store."

"This logo would go on to adorn mugs, shopping bags, bumper stickers, calendars and correspondence for years. While thirty-five dollars seemed fair ... imagine my thrill when I received an unsolicited royalty check a few years later. The amount was between $250 and $350. It seemed like a lot at the time and I was naively flattered that I was even acknowledged."

That is, until she learned that MICA spent $75,000 on the new logo. (Some of that cost covered printing up new letterheads and the like.)

"But no sour grapes from me," she wrote. "I would just hope that today's logo enjoys the same longevity as ... my bargain priced logo."

The man we love to hate's a sweetheart

Who plays the cocky property-flipper in the funny, faux court TV show that's really a public service announcement in disguise?

It's banker Will Backstrom, and he steals the show. Sporting a sneer, his wife's hair gel, a borrowed gold chain, and a green jacket that seemed perfectly tasteful when he bought it in Italy way back when, the Bradford Bank vice president who spent a decade working for housing nonprofits comes across as the perfect villain.

"My mother-in-law said I had a Nicolas Cage thing going on," he said.

See for yourself Tuesday, when the Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition video is shown free at 6 p.m. at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson in Highlandtown.

Connect the dots

Scott Cawood, a "self-taught metal artist" from Sharpsburg, sent me his two cents on MICA's new logo: "Looks like a lot of C l R l A / P to me." ... But the logo has a fan in Dennis O'Shea, the Johns Hopkins University spokesman who also sticks up for the Maryland Institute College of Art's push to be known by its acronym. Responding to the MICA naysayer who argued that Harvard doesn't call itself "Harv," O'Shea wrote: "But you do hear itself calling itself `Harvard' or `Harvard University,' as opposed to `The President and Fellows of Harvard College,' which, as you'll see from the copyright notice at the bottom of their Web pages, is the legal name of the Harvard Corporation." ... I'm sorry to report that Eli Kahn will have to buy a car, soon, and for the rest of his life. The Pikesville teen who turns old printer cartridges into money for cancer research was one of two runners-up in the Volvo for Life Awards announced last week. The founder of Cartridges for a Cure still gets $50,000 for pediatric cancer research at Hopkins, where he was treated for leukemia as a 3-year-old. But he won't get the grand prize, a lifetime of free Volvos.

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