Timing is everything
You know how you hate those billboards of sunny, balmy Florida in February, when the winds and snow are knocking down pedestrians on Main Street, when a warm day brings sleet and freezing rain, when spring is at best a memory?
Well, it looks like the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau wasted some money last week, hiring a truck to pull a trailer with a glassed-in beach scene around Buffalo.
The truck made the rounds on one of our temperate 50-degree days, so it was hard to work up too much envy.
Better to pull that thing around in a few months, when the mannequins inside risk frostbite and one of us might actually click on sunny.org and book a vacation. And what's with the New Jersey plates? They don't have trucks in Florida?
The pride of the Spitlers
Buffalo's image usually improves whenever USA Today mentions our city.
Last week proved no exception.
Buffalo native Erik Brady, a national sports reporter for the national newspaper, wrote a front-page story about Kevin and Mary Elaine Spitler's four sons.
St. Joe's graduate Tim Spitler, a second-team All-Western New York basketball guard last year, has continued the family tradition of earning a walk-on spot in Division I basketball.
Tim, 19, made the team at St. Peter's College, which opened its season Saturday.
Chris, 26, walked on at Holy Cross, and Pat, 25, followed at Canisius and later at Stony Brook. Andrew, 23, plays at Canisius.
What the Spitlers lack in height and speed, they make up for with a good work ethic and team spirit, according to Brady's article.
"There are about 320 schools in Division I," Chris told Brady. "Not one of them thinks they missed out by not recruiting us. People always say, 'Oh, one more of you guys and you'd be a team.' Well, we'd be a really bad team," Chris said.
These brothers from Buffalo offer more than self-deprecating humor, however, Brady wrote.
"Beneath the humor and the humility is a deep well of pride," Brady wrote. "Yes, none was good enough for a scholarship. But each has been good enough to make a team, two clawed their way into starting lineups, and each fairly bursts with the family traits of hustle and hard work."
The view from Toronto
As negative as the Nancy Naples and Brian Higgins congressional race was, their ads could have been worse.
Toronto Star columnist Linwood Barclay, writing from a city that was deluged with ads carried by Buffalo television stations, revealed what we could have heard if the campaign dragged on longer.
Naples: "I'm Nancy Naples, and not only do I approve this message, but I want to scratch Brian Higgins' eyes out."
Naples narrator: "Do you want to be represented in Congress by someone who sleeps in a nightgown? Well, if it's Nancy Naples, that's probably OK with you. But what if it's Brian Higgins? You decide."
An outraged Higgins would reply.
Higgins: "I'm Brian Higgins. I approved this message, and I sleep in the raw."
Higgins narrator: "Why won't Nancy Naples talk about puppies during this campaign? Could it be that Nancy Naples doesn't like puppies? Don't send a puppy-hater to Washington. Send Brian Higgins. He likes puppies."
You can't cut Santa
Sheriff's patrols pulled off the road.
Aid to arts organizations cut off.
County Executive Joel A. Giambra submitted a bleak budget proposal to the County Legislature. Scrooge-like, almost.
But we can say, with some cheer, the county hasn't hit rock bottom yet.
Santa's Park, located in Chestnut Ridge Park, will again be open to the public.
We don't know if Giambra's budget people just forgot about Santa's Park as they looked for services to threaten as a way to gain additional sales tax, or if they simply decided not to risk being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Either way, Santa's Park opens to the public Dec. 4 and 5 and will remain open each Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 19. School groups will begin visiting Nov. 29.
Written by Patrick Lakamp, with a contribution from Michael Beebe.