Paradise lost -- in a close vote
Thanks to Johnny Carson, Buffalonians -- OK, maybe not all of them -- have learned to laugh at themselves. With that spirit in mind, here's a new joke making the rounds:
Once upon a time in the kingdom of Heaven, God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael the Archangel found him resting on the seventh day.
"Where have you been?" he inquired.
"Look, Michael," God sighed, proudly pointing through the clouds. "Look what I've created."
Michael looked puzzled and said, "What is it?"
"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put life on it, and I call it Earth, and it's going to be a great place of balance."
"Balance?" inquired Michael, still confused.
God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth, noting that some areas will be wealthy but cold and harsh, while other areas will be poor but sunny and pleasant.
The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a spot of land and said, "What's that one?"
"Ah," said God. "That's Erie County, the most glorious place on Earth. There will be beautiful hills, grasslands, abundant wild game and woodlands. The people from Erie County will be handsome, modest and intelligent. They will be hardworking and high achieving, and will be known throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace."
Michael gasped in wonder.
"What about balance, God?" he asked. "You said there would be balance!"
"Wait until you see the idiots I put on their County Legislature," God replied.
Saving Jimmy Mac's
When the teachers at Ledgeview Elementary School in Clarence assigned their pupils a persuasive writing project, a lot of kids wrote to President Bush about Social Security and gas prices.
One of the few exceptions was 8-year-old Cady Hoffman, who opted for an issue closer to home and heart: The closing of Jimmy Mac's.
"Help bring Jimmy Mac's back," she said in a two-page, hand-written letter to Mayor Anthony M. Masiello.
Cady has her reasons. First, there's the food. It's good, she told Masiello, and it's also a great place to spend time with your family.
"Lastly," she said, "new people can be hired if the business gets larger. This could help make a come back in the loss of jobs in this area."
Cady never mentioned her family's Saturday afternoon ritual -- lunch at the West Side restaurant -- but that didn't stop Masiello from sharing his own memories of family time at Jimmy Mac's.
"My daughter, Kim, who is now 34 and a new mother, was my date for Saturday lunches in the '80s," hizzoner said in a letter to Cady.
And until it closed, he and his wife, Kate, would take their two youngest girls, Ariel and Madeline, there and "their favorite meals were either chicken fingers with fries or cheeseburgers."
And yes, Cady, there still is a Jimmy Mac's. New owner Mark Supples plans to reopen next month.
Luck of the Lockport native
You never know where that next airplane conversation might lead. For Lockport native Megan Ferington, it led to a new job.
The New York Times recently recounted Ferington's story on the front of its Job Market section.
Last May she quit her public relations job in Salt Lake City, sold her car and furniture and bought a one-way ticket from Utah to New York City in hopes of landing a new job. She left with nothing but a few scheduled job interviews.
Somewhere between Utah and New York, she discovered the man sitting two seats away owned a Manhattan PR firm. He agreed to look at her resume and invited her to come to the office for an interview. Soon after, Ferington was hired as an account executive.
"I think people are really amazed with my story because it has an element of fate to it," she told the Times.
How about luck. Our guess is even the airline food was good that day.
By Phil Fairbanks, with a contribution from Matt Glynn.