It's a Shaw Thing: Raising Spirits and Funds

Maybe it was baseball's return to Washington. Maybe it was the perfect fall weather. Maybe it was the glow of goodwill. Whatever the reason, the 400 guests at Wednesday's 16th annual roast benefiting the Spina Bifida Association of America were ready for a good time.

"In this capital of ours, it feels good to laugh and be laughed at," said roastee Bernard Shaw, the face of CNN for 21 years and the night's good sport.

The night was full of one-liners. "Just think, in 12 months we'll be able to say: First in war, first in peace, last in the National League," cracked emcee Mark Shields.

The first roaster at bat was Walter Cronkite, who's been friends with Shaw for decades. "I did hear he retired at the ripe old age of 61," the 87-year old Cronkite told the crowd at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. "Oh, to be 61 again!"

The good-natured mudslinging continued from Rep. Harold Ford; Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who presented a hilarious slide show of "Baghdad Bernie" decked out in Renaissance garb; and Sen. Lindsey Graham, attending at the behest of roast founders Judy Woodruff and Al Hunt.

"When Judy called me to do this I said yes, and then I thought about it," said Graham. "I'm a white Republican from South Carolina about to make fun of a black man in front of every media outlet in the world."

All for a good cause. The night raised $375,000 for research and everyone's spirits even more. Even Shaw left smiling.

Rooting, Rooting, Rooting for the Home Team

"Do they have cheerleaders for baseball?" Mary Ourisman excitedly asked Fred Malek Thursday night.

"Wanna audition?" he said, grinning.

He was teasing -- there are no pompoms along the foul lines -- but the mood was sis-boom-bah. Malek, one of the leading contenders to buy the new Washington baseball team, was surrounded by well-wishers at the Second Genesis 35th-anniversary gala at the J.W. Marriott.

The party, scheduled months ago, had to contend with giddy baseball fans and political junkies buzzing about the presidential debate airing later that night.

Emcee Paul Berry greeted the 700 guests with (what else?) "Play ball!" The crowd, including Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, former defense secretary Frank Carlucci, former Redskin Dexter Manley and Second Genesis founder Sidney Shankman, settled down long enough to hear first lady Kendel Ehrlich sing the praises of the organization's drug education and rehabilitation programs. A fair number of folks, however, sneaked out after dinner -- nothing against singer Michael Bolton, but a campaign smackdown on the tube always beats soulful warbling in this town.

They've Got a Good Thing Glowing

Wednesday night's guests at the National Gallery night turned green -- but that was a good thing. The otherworldly tint came from the fluorescent lights at the entrance of "Dan Flavin: A Retrospective." The gala in the East Building previewed the exhibition of the late modern master, who used basic hardware-store light fixtures to create his artworks. The party was attended by a number of contemporary artists and collectors as well as Flavin's widow, Sonja, and son, Stephen. "The National Gallery is plugged in," said museum Director Rusty Powell. In fact, the exhibition is so dazzling that passengers in planes nearby have queried about it, he said.

Gives new meaning to the term "bright idea."

With Laura Thomas