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A few words about Sheila, Blaze and Buck

Missing an adjective: I left on my cluttered desk a four-letter word I meant to use in Thursday's column about Sheila Dixon wanting to be mayor again: weak. That best describes the half-hearted, five-years-too-late apology Dixon offered on WJZ-TV in May for her 2010 embezzlement conviction. You don't need to be a Clintonian word-parser to see that "I am sorry for what happened" is evasive and quite different from what Dixon needs to have said: "I am sorry for what I did." The former sounds like she's just sorry for getting caught and causing a fuss.

Speaking of words: By the way, here's what Article IV of the Baltimore City Charter says about qualifications for the office Dixon would like to hold again: "The Mayor shall be a person of known integrity, experience, and sound judgment." I guess one out of three beats none of the above.

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Never mind: Last month, some leaders of the Maryland Republican Party, with the help of a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., took a new message to West Baltimore: "Democrats have failed you, so give us a chance." Nice idea, but it's hard to imagine that, after decades of ignoring and disparaging cities, Republican leaders, locally or nationally, will suddenly develop an interest in helping them. And, of course, with his short-sighted and insulting Red Line decision, Maryland's Republican governor made clear that any GOP talk of helping Baltimore in a big way is just that.

Reading aboard the bus: This year marks the 60th anniversary of "The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor," a work of superb nonfiction by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez from his time as a reporter for El Espectador, in his native Colombia. It's a remarkable work, ghost-written by Marquez after he spent 120 hours interviewing the lone survivor of a March 1955 ship disaster. The story, written in the first-person voice of the sailor, appeared in El Espectador in installments and became a sensation in Bogota. Far more than hinting at the narrative style we know from Marquez's later fiction, it shouts it fore and aft. The newspaper series was only translated and published as a lean book (106 pages, softcover) 15 years later, after Marquez had become famous. I think it would be good to sit and read this book to an old friend.

Gonna need a bigger boat: It's the 40th anniversary of the blockbuster summer of "Jaws," the Steven Spielberg film that electro-sharked the nation. The Senator Theatre in North Baltimore has two showings this week on the big screen: Wednesday and next Sunday. Plus, in honor of the anniversary, Rocket to Venus in Hampden is selling a drink called "The Quint," after the salty skipper, played by Robert Shaw, who goes after the great white. The drink involves Cutty Sark and Narragansett lager beer in a limited edition 1975 can like the one Quint hoists (and crushes) aboard the Orca.

One man's opinion: A friend suggests the following ingredients for the perfect gin and tonic: Hansen's cane soda tonic (no high-fructose corn syrup), a splash or two of Tomr's Tonic syrup and lime juice. As for the brand of gin — that's a matter of personal choice. After years of experimentation, I still have not made up my mind, though my mind seems to nod toward Tanqueray. Brendan Dorr, the award-winning mixologist at the B&O American Brasserie in downtown Baltimore, personally prefers Tanq as well. That gin and Bombay Sapphire are the most popular among his customers, though the bar carries a variety of U.S.-distilled gins. Dorr uses either Fever-Tree tonic or Jack Rudy tonic syrup, which he mixes with soda water.

Is nothing sacred? The Buck Showalter garden gnome is all over eBay, with asking prices ranging from $31 to $79. I can almost understand Cleveland fans doing this — the Buck gnome was a giveaway at an Orioles game against the Indians — but if any of the sellers are O's fans, they should be ashamed of themselves. Seeking filthy lucre for a divine relic? Are you mad? All who made the pilgrimage to Camden Yards and received that saintly icon should cling to it with fighting words: "You'll get my Buck Showalter garden gnome when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!"

Intimate with Blaze Starr: When the famous stripper and Baltimore club owner died last month, I recalled (because one does not ever forget such a thing) my up-close-and-personal interview with her in 1989, timed with the release of "Blaze," the film about her relationship with Louisiana Gov. Earl Long. Starr was 57 years old at the time, sexy as ever, playful, funny and candid, telling stories about liaisons with not only Long but with another famous politician she had — ahem — encountered. At one point, noting my Massachusetts roots, Blaze asked, "Did you know the Kennedy boys personally?" I said, "Uh, no, not personally." And then, with a smile that winked, she said, "Oh, I did."

Dan Rodricks' column appears each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. He is the host of "Midday" on WYPR-FM.

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