Getting Baltimore dolled up

The Baltimore Sun

If little girls in and around Baltimore want a doll that looks like Mommy, they're in luck, no matter if she shops all day at Cross Keys, gets lost on Columbia cul-de-sacs, works a street corner in the 'hood or lives with another mommy in Mount Vernon.

"Mattel recently announced the release of limited-edition Barbie Dolls for Greater Baltimore market," reads the e-mail that came to me the other day. The "Baltimore Barbies" line - a spoof created by some anonymous Internet yukster - boasts 11 imaginary models, enough to offend every imaginable demographic.

A sampling:

* Roland Park Barbie. "This princess Barbie is sold only at Cross Keys. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version."

* Green Spring Valley Barbie. "This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them."

* Pasadena Barbie. "This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Glen Burnie Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails and a see-through halter-top. Also available with a mobile home."

* Mount Vernon Barbie. "This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long, straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Mt. Vernon Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free."

* Baltimore Street Barbie/Ken. "This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or subtracting the multiple snap-on parts."

Also available by Googling "Baltimore Barbies": Canton Barbie, Glen Burnie Barbie, Dundalk Barbie, Columbia Barbie, Catonsville/Ellicott City Barbie and Eastern Avenue Barbie.

Sorry, Bossy, but country comes first

Del. J.B. Jennings just joined the Maryland Air National Guard, which may be good news for national security but bad news for the cows.

The 34-year-old Baltimore County Republican had thought about joining the military in some capacity for years, and last month, after losing the 51 pounds he needed to shed, he enlisted in the same Guard unit that his dad served in in the 1960s.

He said he's ready for the rigors of boot camp. He'll gladly go to Iraq if need be. Even risk his perfect voting record in Annapolis. But giving up his cows, that's a toughie.

Jennings had 33 head of Black Angus, too many for his wife to handle in his absence, since she has horses to tend. After a long struggle, country won over cows.

"I love my cows, but I still need to serve," he said.

So Jennings is selling. Sounds like something cattle farmers do all the time. But Jennings is a breeder; he sells the babies but keeps the mothers for years. The babies get numbers, the mothers, names. He's having trouble parting with them.

"I love my wife to death, [but] the hardest decision was for me to do this," he said, referring to the cattle sale. "I'm actually working hard to make sure they're not going to slaughter. I do love them that much."

So far, he's sold 10 of his cows and is looking to find "good homes" for the rest before he heads off to boot camp Sept. 8. He will hang on to just two, one of them a steer named, believe it or not, for Bob Ehrlich's dad.

"Back when I worked for Bob Ehrlich" - Jennings did constituent case work in the future governor's congressional office - "I used to drive his father around," he said. "In '96, on my way home from a debate in Harford County, I had to swing by and feed one of the cows before I took Senior home to Arbutus. I knew she was going to calf soon. She was in the middle of calving while we stopped by. He stood there and watched as I delivered this calf, and it was a bull calf so I named it Senior, and I've had that cow since. He's now become a pet. When I do see Senior, the real Senior, he always asks how his cow's doing."

Jennings will keep one other cow, a 4-year-old named Glow.

"She and Senior have just been friends for years, and when you look out in the field with all the cows, he's always with her," Jennings said. "I need to give Senior a friend."

Connect the dots

The National Weather Service's Sterling, Va. forecast office predicted thunderstorms the other day for Baltimore County. "LOCATIONS THAT WILL LIKELY BE AFFECTED BY THESE STORMS INCLUDE TOWNSON... COCKEYESVILLE... AND GLENCOE," it said. Townson? Cockeyesville? As a resident of the latter, The Sun's weather guru Frank Roylance admits, "I kinda like that. But as a Baltimorean for 28 years, I resent that 'our' forecasters in Virginia can't spell Maryland place names 14 years after they closed the forecast office at BWI." ... The Daily Show's Rob Riggles interviewed former Sun reporter Gady Epstein last week on authoritarian government. They were talking China, where Epstein reports for Forbes these days, not his old beat, Baltimore City Hall.

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