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4/28/2010

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

In a Whac-A-Mole week for Florida politics that saw Republican rodent Marco Rubio finding his way to the mallet’s heavy end via some unsavory American Express spending – spending that is now under preliminary investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation – while his soon-to-be-former Republican Senate competitor (and our teacher-loving governor) Charlie Crist ducked low to avoid the hammer’s fall by removing all mention of his Republican-ness from his website, you would think that Orlando Sentinel political name-taker Scott Maxwell might have had his speed-dialing/ego-stroking hands full. But Maxwell, who is also our secret boyfriend (collectively), had more to deal with last week than the rattling red phone of flack punditry or the tea-drips of his faithful, hateful online commentariat. Last week was the week that our Maxwell became a star! 

On Tuesday, April 20, seemingly out of nowhere, this clue popped up on one of the $2,000 blue screens in the second round of televised geek support group Jeopardy!: “Columnist Scott Maxwell stands guard for this Orlando paper.” Something inside us broke. It wasn’t necessarily jealousy – though there may be some derivative thereof involved – but more a sense of fear, of otherness, probably something akin to the distance that Holly Hunter felt when William Hurt got that teardrop award in Broadcast News. Would he even speak to us again, or was he now a man who belonged to the ages? Nervously, we called him to find out. 

“It only took me, I don’t know, 24 hours to figure out that that [“stands guard”] was more of a clue to the name of the newspaper than it was testimony to me,” his voice already sounding like cocaine fame (he claims he was out the night before with some friends playing pool). “It took me 24 hours; it took you 72.” Zing!

“But where exactly do you stand guard?” We still don’t get it. Oh, wait! Sentinel!

“I’m usually posted just outside one of the restrooms,” he says. “I didn’t say which one, notice.” Perv! 

Turns out Maxwell learned of his newfound fame while being Tuesday-night magnanimous in a philanthropic way, natch. He was emceeing an awards ceremony for United Cerebral Palsy when his Blackberry started buzzing. 

“I walked out,” he says (it should be noted that we went way tasteless at this point and ribbed him for his steady ambulation in the midst of the UCP cause; he called us “wrong.”) “I had a bunch of Blackberry messages and the first one I popped open was from a reader. It just said, ‘hey, you’re on Jeopardy!’ And I just said, ‘hey, you’re drunk,’ because I knew where I was and it wasn’t on a soundstage.”  We weren’t drunk. 

When the dust of electrical communications settled, Maxwell realized what had happened. He’s since been sent video of the clip by Sony and taken steady ribbing from his newsroom peer group, a winsome clutch that includes also-rans Mike Thomas (who has been “gracious”) and sports weeper Mike Bianchi (“I don’t know that either Bianchi watches Jeopardy! or many of his readers. To this day, he may not know.”). Some in the newsroom basically called him gay because that’s what people do. Sigh. 

So what will Maxwell be doing with his newfound celebrity, besides jetting through the newsroom with his chest puffed out sporting a renewed sense of purpose? 

“A renewed sense of purpose?” he laughs. “I don’t know if I’d go that far. I’ve heard two things that I thought were interesting. One is that I’ve had a couple of people say that the only thing better would be being a clue in a New York Times crossword puzzle. But the best note I got from anybody came from my high school Spanish teacher. …”

Save it for your next MENSA meeting, Maxwell. And take off your shirt.

Speaking of the Sentinel, you may remember last year’s editorial board pep rally around the possibility of former state House speaker (and later Senator) Dan Webster tepidly hopping in, then out, then in, then out again of the District 8 race against liberal-in-a-China-shop U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. Well, on Thursday, April 22, Webster – flanked by Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee – finally made it official while standing near the giant roadside Jesus cross of his home church at West Colonial Drive at Good Homes Road. Oh, boy.

Preceding the announcement, Sentinel ed board member Victor Schaffner penned an entry titled “The Big Chill: Alan Grayson could lose” for the paper’s nothingness vanity blog Orlando Opinionators, in which he called predictions of Webster’s projected impotence in a crowded field of Republicans this late in the game “complete nonsense.” Schaffner, who has been on the board since 2006, specializes in “environment, transportation, growth and development and property-insurance issues,” according to his Sentinel bio, meaning his opinion really matters. His blog – especially coming a full day before the official announcement – reads like a premature endorsement from the paper, probably because it is. In fact, the Sentinel has a long reputation of supporting Webster, even if he is the epitome of the “career politician” we’re all supposed to hate and somebody who let the expressway authority get away with warrantless toll hikes. He is, however, old, and the Sentinel loves old. Just look at Schaffner’s employment of the term “donnybrook” in describing the race. Fisticuffs!

Webster stepped out of the Florida Legislature back in 2008, ending a 10-year run in the Florida Senate due to term limits. At that time, his wife Sandy revealed to the Florida Baptist Witness a little something about her husband that should give voters some indication of what to expect (beyond the obligatory courting of the Tea Party movement referenced in his public announcement). Webster is a man who will not separate church from state, by golly. He lives and breathes scripture. He is scary.

“He rises when it’s dark every day of his life and seeks God’s face and prays, reads the Bible and gets guidance from the Bible because in it are the answers to life’s questions and the answers to the problems in our state and our families,” Sandy Webster told the Witness. 

Now he’ll rise in the dark and see Grayson. Boo!

His marriage is damn near over, his mistress No. 1 might be dancing with the stars and he lost the Masters (there is no fourth place!), but Tiger Woods can still sink lower. The horny golfer proved as much on Monday, April 19, by hanging around backstage at the Amway Arena during a concert for Nickelback, a band that, if you’ll remember, secured the No. 1 seed in OW’s Great North American Douche-Rock Tournament last year. (By the way, we still have no idea who won that thing, since we got really lazy and stopped counting votes. We’re pretty sure it was Paramore.) While Woods’ musical taste is just as dismaying as his private bedroom preferences – Golden showers, Tiger? Really? – the Nickelback news must be devastating to Orlando Sentinel (more Sentinel!) sycophant Mike Bianchi, whose tearful March 20 column chastised Woods for never hanging out with local backslappers like, well, Bianchi. “I came up with what I thought was a great idea,” wrote Bianchi about the Tigermania over the golfer’s unprecedented succession of wins from 1999-2002. “We could throw a parade [for Woods] to beat them all!” Bianchi admits slobbering to then-mayor Glenda Hood. Tiger said no. Aw, Mikey, if only you’d had Nickelback’s number!

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