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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

>Stormy weather

It should be some consolation to Buffalonians that ours is not the only community where visiting sportswriters come for the game and leave behind a nasty column about the weather.

Writers at the NFC Championship game in Seattle two weeks ago couldn't resist taking shots at that city's rainy reputation.

Rick Anderson, a Seattle Weekly writer, found articles in at least nine papers that had a preoccupation with precipitation.

Anderson issued the obligatory rebuttal of "How dare they judge us superficially and by the way, it rains in other cities, too."

It all reminded Bob Cook, a sports columnist for MSNBC, of how the late Pulitzer Prize winner Jim Murray once referred to our city in a 1974 Los Angeles Times piece on Buffalo's Super Bowl aspirations.

"Buffalo is a lunch-pail, bowling-shirt, broken-tooth kind of town which drinks beer from a can, has hair on its chest, calls the wife 'the old lady,' and the team 'Da Bills,' " Murray wrote, as Cook recalled on the Romenesko media news blog.

"It was a town where they shot McKinley and threw beer at everyone else. It was as direct as a belch, a lunch-counter town which ate with its hat on and chewed toothpicks."

Yeah, but it rains more in Seattle.


>Meet me in Iowa

For years, Gov. George E. Pataki has been a bit stingy with advance notice to the New York press corps about his upcoming public events.

Aides have been known to call select reporters when Pataki was already on the plane heading to some out-of-state event.

So it didn't pass without notice among the Capitol press corps last week when the tiny Globe Gazette in Mason City, Iowa -- as in first-in-the-nation-caucuses-in-2008 Iowa -- printed a complete itinerary of Pataki's upcoming visit to northern Iowa.

The paper got the schedule for Pataki, who considers himself a possible White House contender, three days before his visit.

Maybe the Globe Gazette can call us with the governor's schedule next week.


>Grumpy fans

There's an e-mail making the rounds of Buffalo Bills fans who are less than thrilled with the direction of the team under its octogenarian leadership.

It's a fake ad for the movie "Grumpy Old Men," but with the mugs of Bills owner Ralph Wilson and GM Marv Levy instead of actors Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

"Just when you thought it was safe to renew your season tickets," the ad reads. It also boasts blurbs from ESPN News -- "A comic farce" -- and the Wagon Circler -- "Two wrinkled thumbs down."

The movie is at "Ralph Wilson Senior Center" in Orchard Park, and is "rated 'O' for old."


>A kick in the head

If it's Super Bowl weekend, it must be time for our annual reminder of the championship games past that got away.

On ESPN Classic alone, it seems Scott Norwood has pushed his kick "wide right" another XV times in the past couple of weeks.

Now, we learn that Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Larry Foote shares our pain.

"When the guy missed the field goal, my stepfather had a square in the Super Bowl pool," Foote said in this week's Sports Illustrated. "He would have won $5,000 if the kick had been good. It was a sad night. I understood what Buffalo fans went through."

Larry, you felt it in your wallet, but we felt it in our hearts.


>Dog days of spring

Sure, there's Punxsutawney Phil, Dunkirk Dave and Ridge Lea Larry, fine groundhogs all.

But Buffalo's Lovejoy neighborhood has something that beats all of them: Lulu, the Ground Dog Day Chihuahua mix.

A small crowd including Council Member Richard Fontana watched Thursday as Lovejoy Lulu emerged from the Hennepin Community Center.

Lulu didn't see her shadow, which means spring should come early this year.

"At least in Lovejoy," said Jack Minnuto, who owns Lulu with his wife, Tina Mack.

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Bruce Andriatch and Tom Precious.

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