That big, inflatable pumpkin is out front again at the governor's mansion, and this year, I'm not taking the bait.
My loyal readers (Mom, Dad) will remember the fury I unleashed a year ago, when I wrote that historic Annapolis is kind of persnickety about holiday decorations, and that the blow-ups at Government House were a little "Arbutus."
I'd like to put Inflatagate behind me, so let me just say that in the past year I've gotten to know a lot of Arbutans, and they're all nice - if overly fond of air-filled lawn displays. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
So this Halloween, I'll leave the commentary to others - people still brave (or foolish) enough to weigh in on gubernatorial blow-ups.
Clem Kaikis, of the original Arbutus Roundtable: "There are more [Ehrlich] signs out there than pumpkins, which is a good indication that democracy is working."
The other, upstart Arbutus Roundtable, which issued a group statement from its exile in Lansdowne: "The replacement of the inflatable pumpkins, ghosts, sycophants and 'yes men' which currently surround the governor's mansion with chalk outlines and crime scene tape in a future [O'Malley] administration gives us all concern. On the basis of our concern for the safety of trick-or-treaters and other bystanders, on balance, we find in favor of the fake stuff."
I wanted to ask Martha Stewart if inflatables are good or bad things, but her spokeswoman wouldn't call me back. So I turned to a local arbiter of outdoor taste, Devra Kitterman of Roland Park, who a while back railed against dyed mulch in a missive to her neighbors. She's open-minded after all.
"I don't really care about that stuff," she said. "I'm much more liberal than people think."
Derek Fink, spokesman for first lady Kendel Ehrlich: "The decorations are back by popular demand."
Henry Fawell, spokesman for Gov. Robert Ehrlich: "It's a resilient pumpkin, and it has broad bipartisan support."
And then there's Rick Abbruzzese, campaign spokesman for Mayor Martin O'Malley, who was mindful of both the blow-up and anti-blow-up vote: "No comment."
Madam Speaker, a little more sauce?
If the Democrats take the House, the way to win influence in Washington will change from talking wrestling with Dennis Hastert to eating ravioli with Nancy Pelosi. And not the Yuppified kind filled with lobster or duck, but the plain old ricotta-and-red-sauce stuff served up in traditional Italian-American restaurants.
So says Tommy D'Alesandro, former Baltimore mayor and current brother of Pelosi, the woman who would be speaker.
"When she comes to Little Italy," he said, "she orders the same thing all the time - ravioli with red tomato sauce."
The Clinton doll for glamour, the Nixon doll for endurance
Katie O'Malley came face-to-face with Bill Clinton the other day, and she found herself telling the former Prez that she'd just bought a Clinton doll.
"A bobblehead?" he asked.
No, the District Court judge explained, it's a real doll that talks when you rub its lapel. She also bought Thomas Jefferson, John Kennedy and not one, but two Richard Nixon dolls. (Hey, they were on sale, at a toy store in Jarrettsville that's going out of business.)
The extra Nixon went to Michael Enright, a history buff with a fascination with the nation's 37th president. Enright said his father was obsessed with Nixon's criminal actions in office, an interest he passed on to the first deputy mayor.
"My dad had this unnatural obsession and hatred for Nixon," Enright told The Sun's Doug Donovan. "Every kid in my family grew up with Watergate as this backdrop and our father muttering in front of the television, always talking about 'this criminal' and 'this crook' and what he did to our country."
Now the Nixation is rubbing off on another generation, Dalton Enright, 18 months.
"I brought [the doll] home to my son, and he's obsessed with it," Enright said. "He drags it around the house. He calls it Nix-Nix."
Connect the dots
New fashion trend in Annapolis: Socks. The boat show ended a week ago, and that means the locals can sport argyles, bobbies and other hosiery without fear of public ridicule. This, according to Bill Kocan, general manager of the Eastport Yacht Club. Socks will be "in" until March, when boaters will ritually burn them. ... So where does Kevin Zeese stand on "crush videos?" I neglected to ask him the other day, when I reported that Ben Cardin and Michael Steele are opposed to erotic videos starring women who crush small animals with their high heels. (A. Robert Kaufman, for one, chastised me for leaving out the third-party candidate.) Will the guy backed by the Greens, Libertarians and Populists seek the kinky vote? Nope. Said Zeese: "I'm opposed to crushing animals with high heels."