Doing Houdini one better

They've seen it all, apparently, at the city permits office. Which is why nobody blinked when Spencer Horsman, son of circus clowns, came in recently looking for a special events permit for a crane.

"Doing construction?" the woman at the office asked.


"I'm using it for displaying something," Horsman said.

"What are you displaying?"


"I'm escaping from two straightjackets and the crane's going to be dangling me 50 feet in the air," Horsman said.


You can catch Horsman's act - a first, he says; Harry Houdini did it with just one straightjacket - at 9 tonight at 1025 S. Charles St. That's just outside Illusions Magic Bar and Lounge, which the magician runs with his father.

Jayne Miller, playing Jayne Miller

Jayne Miller was at the Mitchell Courthouse the other day grilling somebody as cameras rolled. This is news because you won't see it on WBAL-TV. It'll be on The Wire.

"I play myself," Miller said. "I play a role that I do all the time. ... I wore my own clothes, stuff I wear every day."

Good thing Miller didn't need a lot of time to get into character, because her speaking role apparently took shape with the haste of a reporter on deadline. (Editors: Insert your own joke here.)

The Wire approached Miller just last week, and by Tuesday, with the station's go-ahead, she was filming.


"They write on the fly. I learned that yesterday," Miller said, recalling how writers rejiggered the script between takes. Some of the rewrites were at her suggestion, to make her part more realistic.

"I said to the director, 'This is kind of the way this would play out,'" she said. "We did a little tweaking."

That's about all Miller was at liberty to say. A spy who came across the filming tells me she was grilling the fictional state Sen. R. Clayton "Clay" Davis, played by Isiah Whitlock Jr.

What were those pleasantries?

George Bush and Martin O'Malley "exchanged a few words" the other night before dinner with Queen Elizabeth II, The Sun reported. If that sounds deliberately vague, there's reason.

Press access to the event was limited, and the lone American print reporter, Jon Ward of the Washington Times, was just out of earshot.


"Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and wife Catherine came through, and Mr. Bush said either, 'You guys got a great future' or 'You guys got a great family,'" Ward wrote in his pool report.

"I am so sorry, couldn't make it out," Ward added in an aside to fellow reporters, who relied on his notes to write their own stories. "I thought I detected a rather grim look on the governor's face as he walked away. He is set to endorse Mrs. Clinton for president tomorrow by the way."

Which is more unlikely? A Republican telling a Democrat - one who's slammed him on homeland security for years - that he's got a great future? Or Bush complimenting the O'Malleys on their four children, who do happen to be model-beautiful, but were not present and probably have not come to the attention of the leader of the free world?

O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese offered a third possibility.

"I'm told he told Katie, 'Your husband's got a great voice,'" said Abbruzzese, who noted that Bush heard O'Malley sing at an event last St. Patrick's Day.

Abbruzzese also pooh-poohed the reported "grim look" - "I'm sure it was a cordial event," he said.


Connect the dots ...

Maryland's Constitution gives the lieutenant governor "only the duties delegated to him by the Governor." Gov. O'Malley's marching orders for Anthony Brown apparently don't extend to presidential primary politics. The LG was touring a Silver Spring high school the other day when O'Malley was endorsing Hillary Clinton in Annapolis. While Brown's press office said not to read anything into his absence, Brown confirmed later in the day that he was not endorsing anyone yet. "I haven't really focused on the national political campaigns close enough to say where I am," said Brown, who went to Harvard Law with Barack Obama. ... With Preakness coming, what are the fanciest hotels in Baltimore doing to accommodate the horsey set? Kicking at least one hotel honcho out of his room. That's the case at the Intercontinental Harbor Court Baltimore Hotel. John Stowell recently took a job as sales and marketing director at the Intercontinental, and has been living at the hotel while he looks for a place in Baltimore. With every one of the hotel's 195 rooms booked, Stowell is temporarily moving out. "I'm heading back to Miami for the weekend," he said. ... What the O'Malleys ate Tuesday night with the Queen: wild Scottish smoked salmon and oatmeal pancakes with horseradish cream; roast rib of veal with a herb crust; stacked carrots and broad beans; Dauphinoise potatoes; and summer pudding for dessert.