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Sure beats a slap in the face

"Bruce Almighty," the Jim Carrey comedy set in Buffalo, is getting lukewarm reviews.

But one star in the film is getting a glowing review -- the City of Buffalo itself.

And it's from an unlikely source: the Los Angeles Times.

Keep in mind, we were stung when the distinguished newspaper earlier this year published a photograph of a teenager basking in the warm breeze during a visit to the beach, with Venice Pier in the background.

The headline: "This Sure Beats Buffalo."

In his review, Times film critic Kevin Thomas calls Bruce Almighty "not so mighty" and "stubbornly synthetic and mechanical."

But Thomas takes exception to the use of familiar movie sets and some scenes shot in Los Angeles and San Diego to portray our city.

Buffalo is "in reality a highly atmospheric city with splendid architecture," he wrote.

A close encounter with Blair

He didn't realize it at the time, but a Medaille College professor survived his brush with disgraced ex-New York Times reporter Jayson Blair.

He was one of the lucky few, apparently.

Gerald J. Erion, an assistant professor of humanities, contributed a chapter to "The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer." Erion's chapter in the collection of essays explains that Marge Simpson embodies the Aristotelian ideal of living a virtuous life.

The book received major attention and was mentioned in an article in the Times in the fall of 2001.

Blair wrote the article. The same Jayson Blair who has since been accused of plagiarizing material from other newspapers, faking interviews, and blatantly misleading readers and his editors.

When Blair's transgressions exploded in public last month, Erion recalled the name and wondered if Blair had taken any liberties in his philosophy article.

Erion had not talked to Blair, but his essay was quoted in the piece.

"As far as I can tell, it contains no factual errors, plagiarism, or -- as the Times puts it -- 'other issues,' " Erion said.

A down-to-earth color scheme

You're definitely in Orchard Park when everyone seems concerned about pink hardware stores.

Lowe's Home Improvement Centers is coming to the town and has promised to build a brick and earth-toned building to fit in with the surroundings.

Councilwoman Nan Ackerman interrogated store representatives about the building last week.

"If there's one thing we don't need, it's an earth-tone that looks pink," she told the hardware store representative.

"The earth-tone will NOT look pink," he shot back.

One up on Las Vegas?

In most places, if the federal government left your city off the list of the 30 cities most likely to be struck by terrorists, everybody would breathe a sigh of relief. OK, maybe a slight sigh.

Not in Las Vegas.

They didn't make the list, and they're hopping mad.

Sheriff Bill Young pointed out to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that some of the men involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks came to Las Vegas before launching their terror strike.

"Throw in the fact that five of these 19 hijackers visited our community, and I just don't get why we're not on this list," Young told the newspaper.

Buffalo placed 18th on the list.

New York City and Washington, D.C., placed first and second.

Cleveland and Tampa were the last cities listed.

Buffalo is in line for about $10 million -- but, frankly, this is one list in which we wouldn't mind trading places with Las Vegas.

By Patrick Lakamp, with contributions from Niki Cervantes, Elmer Ploetz and Stephen Watson.

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