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It wasn't lawn bowling

We thought we had heard it all, until now.

When North Tonawanda Alderwoman Pamela Hogan arrived late for a public meeting, she was promptly asked what had happened.

Hogan said her car was hit by a bowling ball on Erie Avenue.

She insisted the bowling ball almost caused her to have an accident, but that didn't stop a wisecracking colleague from asking questions.

"What color was the ball, what was it made of, and how many holes did it have in it?" he asked.

"I'm serious," she insisted. "I don't know where it came from, but it came right down the street and hit my car."

The play's the thing

You can't exactly call Erie County tight with a buck, not even on a good day. But some spending is a lot easier than most.

Take an item on the table before the County Legislature last week, which called for $40,860 in spending to install communication lines between the Buffalo Bills' new administration and training building and the stadium.

Mike Fitzpatrick, the South Buffalo Democrat, didn't even think twice about it.

"I think we need this so they can call down plays that are a hell of a lot better than the ones they're using now," said Fitzpatrick.

The measure passed -- without a whimper.

Gone, but who cares?

With new Census numbers to report on, newspapers across the South love finding former Northerners to interview.

The Orlando Sentinel found Eric Gortzig, formerly of Buffalo. Seems he grew to like Florida while attending the University of Miami and moved there after graduation.

"When I went back to Buffalo, it just seemed like the same old thing," the 36-year-old hotel supervisor told the paper. "I don't know if I changed or my expectations changed, but it made me feel, well, sorry that everybody was just doing the same old same old."

We don't know whom he associated with here. Maybe instead of bashing his hometown, he should have found new friends.

In the meantime, the rest of us have been pretty busy skiing, watching Sabres hockey, going to Shea's, trying our luck across the border at the slots or shopping at Niagara-on-the-Lake -- you know, the same old same old.

So who has time to worry about Gortzig's opinion of us? Florida has our blessing to register him to vote.

The long way 'round

For years, US Airways has charged travelers high fares on routes without any competition.

Judging from its efforts to offer cheaper fares, maybe it should stick with what it knows best.

Check out the airline's Web site ( and type in any itinerary to see how far you'd have to travel to save a few bucks. Our favorite is Boston.

If you want to fly to Boston on a week's notice, prepare to cough up $736.

The airline also suggests several alternative flights for as low at $305.

Under the airline's suggested low-fare itinerary, you'd take an 8:23 a.m. flight to Charlotte; connect to a 12:05 p.m. flight to Raleigh, N.C.; depart Raleigh at 1:24 for Washington, D.C.; and then depart the nation's capital at 4:30 for Boston.

You'd arrive at 6.

Where your luggage would end up is anybody's guess.

Sure, blame the messenger

Community Blue's computer caught a bad case of something, it seems.

A couple of weeks ago, after the HMO mistakenly sent out cancellation notices to about 3,000 city employees and retirees, red-faced company officials diagnosed the problem as a computer bug.

Their remedy: letters of apology.

Sounded like a good idea. But when city workers checked the mail, they found not only the apology letter, but another round of cancellation notices, each in a separate envelope.

At City Hall, they've started calling Community Blue's computer "HAL," after the renegade computer in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Wonder how he treats those who file claims.

They weren't in Kansas anymore

Believe it or not, people actually come here to see how to do things.

OK, they're from Salina, Kan. And they were on their way to Toronto anyway.

But even so, two theater ambassadors from the Plains recently stayed overnight in Buffalo. Their mission: to see what we've done right in the Theater District, and do the same thing in Salina. We told them about expanding the stage at Shea's, moving the Irish Classical Theater to Main Street and holding an annual Curtain Up! seasonal kickoff.

But we didn't tell them about UB's abandoning the Pfeifer Theatre and the city's recent thoughts (since rejected) of selling the building housing the Alleyway Theatre.

These folks came a long way. We didn't want to discourage them.

Off Main Street is written by Patrick Lakamp, with contributions from Donn Esmonde, Thomas J. Dolan and Richard Batzer.

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