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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Bad fantasy

Can pro football players give good fantasy-football advice?

Not really, as an Off Main Street contributor learned recently.

He was shopping at Dick's Sporting Goods in the Walden Galleria three nights before Christmas when he saw bearded Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick behind him in line.

Just 30 minutes earlier, our correspondent had added a Bills wide receiver to his lineup, so he boldly asked Fitzpatrick the obvious:

"Should I start David Nelson on my fantasy team this week?"

"He has caught a lot of touchdown passes lately," said the guy who threw them, "but I can't make any promises."

This had to be football fate, so our contributor started Nelson on Sunday, ignoring the ominous fact that the Bills were playing their longtime tormentors, the New England Patriots.

The Bills committed seven turnovers, and Fitzpatrick was responsible for five.

Nelson? No catches, zero fantasy points. This helped our contributor, who was in his league's championship, lose his fantasy Super Bowl by nine points.

Hey, at least Nelson can say he made it to the Super Bowl, and at least we can say we live in a town where you never know who you'll run into at the mall.


Rings in the New Year

Area hospitals have an informal annual competition to see which one ends up with the bragging rights for delivering the first baby of the New Year.

Today, Susan Rath and Brad Berner planned to up the ante by holding what they hope will be the first wedding of 2011.

The Wheatfield couple has dated for six years and been engaged for two, said Chelsea Rath, Susan's daughter. They planned to get married last spring on a visit to Rome, but it was too expensive.

As relatives discussed at Thanksgiving how to revive the wedding, Susan's cousin, Michelle Helfer, suggested a New Year's Eve/Day service.

Pastor Jim Loos of Brick by Brick Bible Church in Amherst is officiating, and he and the staff at Wheatfield's Shawnee Country Club have been accommodating, Chelsea Rath said.

The 75 or so guests were told to arrive at 8 p.m. Friday at the country club, where they will dine, drink and dance before counting down the end of 2010.

"Then, right after the ball drop is when they're going to get married," Chelsea Rath said.


Aloha from Buffalo

If Hawaii encounters a snow emergency, the state will be in good hands, with a Buffalo native in charge.

Neil Abercrombie, a 72-year-old Democrat, became governor Dec. 6. He graduated from what is now Williamsville South High School, and in 1959 he moved to Hawaii for his graduate studies in sociology.

Abercrombie, in an interview with the Tribune Co., said he plans to use his new position to shoot down conspiracy theories that President Obama was not born in the United States.

He said he has not come up with a solution but said he knew both of Obama's parents when they lived in the 50th state, as well as the future president when he grew up there.

Further proof that there is always a Buffalo connection.


Toughened by winter

Dick Tideswell escaped Buffalo's cold, gray winters, but the emotional damage he suffered here manifests itself each year in a disturbing form: tacky holiday lawn decorations

The retired chemist, who lives in a Richmond, Va., suburb was profiled recently in the Richmond Times-Dispatch for his collection of about 70 "tastefully tacky" grapevine reindeer.

The article notes that Tideswell grew up in Buffalo, "where he learned to hate winter" and described himself as "traumatized" by his experience.

"If he ever starts feeling sorry for himself, when the weather turns cold here, all he has to do is look up the temperature in Buffalo: 22 sounds a whole lot better than 2," the paper wrote.

Actually, the forecast for today called for a high near 60 for Richmond, not much warmer than the 52 predicted for us.

Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from Scott Scanlon and Matt Glynn.


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