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The happiness bunny

Oh, to be a kid again, when everything was fascinating! Last week a science type we know, Bill Rogers, was instructing a group of kids on Leroy Avenue on Buffalo's East Side. One little boy spoke up and said that he'd seen a snake in the nearby vacant lot. Rogers, a kind of roll-up-your-sleeves guy, had an idea. "Why don't we go there now and look for snakes?" he said. Kids and teacher, forth they went. They didn't see any snakes -- but they did see a critter that made the little boy gasp with delight. "A rabbit!" he cried. "Look at his ears! A real rabbit! I've never seen a rabbit before! I've only seen them in books! Oh..." he burst out, "THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!" What air are these kids breathing? Can we bottle the stuff?

Girl, uninterrupted

Audra McDonald, who sang at Kleinhans Music Hall last weekend with the Philharmonic, is quite the singer, dishing out show tunes with a silky, bluesy touch. But her singing, while impressive, is nothing next to her name-dropping and self-advancing. It appeared premeditated, too -- McDonald told the same tales Friday and Saturday. "Bill Cosby asked me to sing for a big party he was giving," she said. And, while telling a story: "I'll always remember that night because it's when I heard I was nominated for my first Tony Award." Best of all: "I ran into Stephen Sondheim, and he said 'Audra, why don't you sing any of my stuff?'" Audra, honey. We know you shouldn't hide your candle under a bushel basket, but this is too much.

More happiness

Whenever we see cities ranked according to any criteria, Buffalonians get nervous. We fidget. We reach for food. How sweet it was, then, to see Men's Health magazine's list of America's 20 most depressed cities, and 20 happiest cities -- and find that we were on the Happiest list. The magazine, which based its survey on antidepressant sales, suicide rates and cases of depression, ranked us the 11th happiest city in the country. Oh joy! Two things to make us even happier: 1.) The Most Depressed list includes Tampa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York City. Ha, ha! 2.) We definitely would have replaced Laredo, Texas, as the No. 1 happiest city, if only they'd known about the rabbits in our vacant lots.

Heck on wheels

City of Good Neighbors, meet the City of Bad Drivers. A gal we know was parking on Elmwood and Bidwell when -- horror! -- she scraped against a souped-up SUV with personalized license plates. Bracing herself for trouble, she left a note on the windshield with her phone number. The bad news: The SUV's owner called. The good news: She couldn't stop saying thank you! "No one else who has hit me has ever left a note," she told our friend. "One person ripped off my entire bumper and left it in the street, and I didn't get a note." She then told our friend not to worry at all about the incident. Only in Buffalo could you hit someone's car -- and the owner thanks you. We love this town.

The buzz

The Mickiewicz Library -- it's not just for Dyngus Day anymore! Sunday, the historic Polish club on Fillmore Avenue is holding a free open house. Tour the club and toast Polish Constitution Day with a glass of Zywiec. Hours are noon till 4 p.m. (We presume they'll be throwing us out, because we don't plan on leaving peacefully at such an early hour.) ... Play o' the day: "The Nerd," opening this weekend at the Kavinoky Theater. Joseph Demerly, the theater's executive director, styles himself "the biggest nerd of all."


"Does this make him our German shepherd?" -- Parishioners in a Tonawanda sacristy, discussing the new pope's nationality