Falling rain is sweet music to these ears


IW AS UP yesterday at 4 a.m., awakened by rain, drumbeats on the window, gurgles in the gutter - sounds that vanished from experience, and almost from memory, in the last year. I closed one window that was catching some rain and opened another more protected from the moisture, and I could hear the soft sizzle of summer drizzle on the dead grass in the back yard.

We've been in drought, of course, so the rain is worth making a fuss about. Usually, I think people who talk about weather are just hard up for more challenging subjects, or find themselves in an awkward moment when conversation stalls. Marketing experts conduct focus-group studies and report that Baltimoreans are weather crazy and that's why the TV stations here devote so much time to weather "coverage." Some people listen to long weather reports because that's how they seem to experience life - through television; their reality is what anchormen, anchorwomen and meteorologists tell them it is.

Personally, I have never felt part of that crowd - the cloud watchers, the snowanoid, the Doppler heads, the Bob Turkistanis. I've never been sucked into the weather-obsessed realm.

But there I was, up in the blackest hours of the new day, listening closely to the good rain, as if it were Brahms, and it was Sunday, and September again, and I felt as if we were all being given another chance.

In Bawlmerese, please

I want to thank all my fellow Baltimoreans who phoned, wrote and stopped me in the produce section to say they appreciated a recent correction in this space, but felt it did not go far enough.

They were glad to see me point out the lack of local flavor in the phrase, "down at the ocean," and to mention that, here in the Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin, no one much uses the grammatically correct preposition when discussing summer vacation at Ocean City. The phrase should have been simply, "down the ocean."

But as many helpful readers pointed out, "downy ocean," or "downy ayshun," is more like it. They said I should have attached, "hon" to be idiomatically correct.

Thank you for all your advice - and for what I take as the license to engage in Bawlmer-speak. After 25 years in the Hairspray Capital of the World, I feel at home, and bona fide.

Judicial exercise

About Baltimore Circuit Judge John Prevas' orders to have a detective do push-ups for showing up late with a crime-lab report and to lock up a patrolman for missing a court date (though it turned out not to be the patrolman's fault) - OK, that's over the top. The judge should apologize. But he shouldn't apologize for wanting cops to meet court dates. (You won't hear cops scream about this too much because they know Prevas is a former prosecutor and one of the toughest judges on the bench.)

Prevas' orders might have been ludicrous, as some law professor not in the daily grind of court life told The Sun the other day. But all I take from it is frustration. As someone with intimate knowledge of Prevas and the Circuit Court told me yesterday: "God knows judges have their idiosyncrasies, but Prevas does care a great deal. What we saw was the frustration that anyone who cares would suffer when confronted with the bovine indifference of most folks involved in the process. I guess it all just got to be too much."

The local flavor

I just realized something - I missed the St. Gabriel Festival in Little Italy, which means I missed the grilled porchetta they sell down by the boccie courts. Another whole year I have to wait for this. ... I hit Matthew's Pizza on Eastern Avenue again recently, and they're serving a sauceless spinach-and-garlic pizza as a lunch special, and let me just say: Eat that and you could go off to your next life with no important pleasure missed. ... May I just mention something else that I found especially good? The crunchy tuna roll at Sushi Hana in Towson. Consider yourself informed; if you miss it, it's your fault. ... I had a guy tell me he liked Samos, the Greek place on Oldham Street, better when it had four tables instead of 12. But I think he's wrong. Big Nick, the owner and head cook, hasn't missed a beat in the transition.

And the winner is ...

Best giveaway at the Maryland State Fair - a tie, between the handy-dandy portable tool kit (for "hard-working families") from the Department of Human Resources and the packaged sample of Chesapeake Bay dredge material from the Maryland Port Administration (and the down-to-earth spiel that went with it). I apologize to all state agencies and political parties that provided me and my family with free tape measures, refrigerator magnets, bumper stickers, pens, pencils and rain gauges - I wish you all could have been winners.

Dolly sings, not Robert

Brothers and sisters, I got one thing to say t'y'all: You ain't lived this life 'til you've heard Dolly Parton's rendition of "Stairway to Heaven." It's like listening to William Shatner cover a song in drag. ... In a jailhouse interview last week, actor Robert Blake predicted that he will be acquitted in the shooting death of his wife. Asked why he was certain, Blake said, "Because I didn't do it!" That's good enough for me, Bobby B.!

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