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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

>The Big Blue name game

Last week, we noted our renowned traffic tie-up at the I-290/I-90 interchange was worthy of a nickname other than "The Big Blue Water Tower." We asked you to come up with something better.

Nearly 100 e-mails and letters arrived, containing roughly 200 ideas for names that would befit its lofty status as the truckers' choice for worst highway interchange in the nation.

Many of the suggestions reflected the two things we love most: sports -- Amen Corner, Wide Wrong, the Wrench Connection, Slow Goal -- and food -- The Broken Chicken Wing, Buffalo's Beef on Wreck and Hot Medium Mile.

Among our favorites were: Park and No Ride; The Honey I'm Late; The Pain at Main; The Hurley-Burley over Wehrle; and The Crawl Space.

We also heard some resistance to the idea. Tim Packman, former traffic reporter for WGR, wrote to say that Big Blue Water Tower should remain.

We asked Rob Lucas, morning man at STAR 102.5, what he thought. He said he likes the fact that the water tower is a reference point.

"You hear it, you see it, and you instantly know you are there," he said.

They have a point. So we decided the new nickname should incorporate elements of the old one. We liked the Big Blue Parking Lot and the alliterative Big Blue Bottleneck.

But we loved The Big Blue Squeeze, suggested by Mike Miranda of Williamsville. Not only does it accurately describe what happens to traffic there, but it's catchy, true to the original and instantly recognizable.

And the shorthand version -- The Squeeze -- sounds cool.

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>Bold-faced inmates

Star magazine normally focuses its attention on Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and the other celebrities who play in New York City and Los Angeles.

A recent issue of the "#1 Celebrity Weekly News Magazine" brought Star's readers to a more out-of-the-way spot: the Collins Correctional Facility.

The tabloid conducted an interview with the prison's most famous resident, Michael Lohan, better known as the father of teen movie star Lindsay Lohan.

Michael Lohan is serving a sentence of 1 1/3 to four years for attempted assault and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a state corrections staffer told Off Main Street.

As for the big question -- has the star of "Mean Girls" and "Freaky Friday" visited her father in prison? -- the staffer said she couldn't comment.

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>Only the check was cut

It's not unheard of for public officials to return from business trips with questionable items on their expense accounts.

For a time, it looked like Buffalo's finance commissioner took it a step too far.

James B. Milroy accompanied Mayor Byron W. Brown to Albany last month, and after Milroy returned the city reimbursed him $34.21 for travel expenses.

But City Hall sources told Off Main that the check stub listed only one expense -- a spaying or neutering procedure.

It turns out a worker in the comptroller's office punched the wrong key.

It logged Milroy's tolls, parking and sandwich as a refund the city gives to people who adopt cats or dogs at the shelter, then have the pets fixed.

"This was one little medical procedure I was hoping to keep secret," Milroy quipped.

While Comptroller Andrew A. Sanfilippo has had some spats with Milroy, he stressed that it was an honest mistake.

"Yes, we've had our differences along the way, but I would never go to the extreme to emasculate Mr. Milroy," he said.

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>Eye on Evans

Evans Councilman Joe Govenettio turned constitutional scholar for a moment Wednesday at an unusually well-attended Town Board meeting.

Most of the 200 people there were drawn by the chance to talk about Town Supervisor Robert Catalino II's recent drunken driving arrest.

"I think our forefathers, when they first came up with freedom of speech, never thought they were going to sell newspapers or make the ratings on [Channels] 2, 4 and 7 any better," Govenettio chided.

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Bruce Andriatch, Brian Meyer and Elmer Ploetz.

e-mail: offmain@buffnews.com

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