> We're Mr. Bright Side
It's not an easy time to be optimistic.
But in a small town in Illinois, more than 50 people have put aside thoughts of war, crime and economic doom to be a part of the Des Plaines Optimist Club.
An article in the Chicago Daily Herald this week highlighted the club and its creed that requires all members "to wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile."
The article notes that such clubs have been around for a century. In fact, the very first one was founded exactly 100 years ago in a city that today is not exactly famous for its hopeful outlook.
Maybe you've heard of the place: Buffalo, N.Y.
We couldn't find any recent news from the Optimist Club of Buffalo. Can't imagine why.
> Talkin' massive
You can argue all you want about who the biggest Bills fan is, but it appears the debate about who is the strongest Bills fan is over.
Meet Ennis White, 47, a Buffalo native who lifted 530 pounds this year at the USA Powerlifting Master Nationals Competition in Atlanta.
White's feat was highlighted this month in the San Antonio Express News. A 24-year Air Force veteran, White is employed by U.S. Army North in the San Antonio area and works with wireless communications.
The very flattering article -- you'd be flattering too in an article about a guy who can lift a family of four over his head -- had this unusual piece of information: White is a "self-admitted Buffalo Bills fan."
Self-admitted? Being a Bills fan is something that needs to be admitted?
We have a feeling White doesn't worry too much about admitting that. Or anything.
> The putting PM
When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper turned up at a Cheektowaga miniature golf course a couple of weeks back, it created a minor stir around here.
In Canada, it gave essayists a window into a man who is seen as an enigma.
MacLeans Magazine opined that the outing showed that Harper might be exactly what he appears to be: ordinary.
"This, then, is presumably the authentic Harper. What's he like? He appears to dress rather stiffly: black slacks and a buttoned long-sleeve shirt are hardly traditional minigolf attire. He is polite to regular folk: he signed autographs for two teenage minigolfers. And he considers minigolf -- the most plebeian of summer pastimes -- to be an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon with his family. You might say it all seems rather ordinary."
Maybe the old saying needs to be amended: You can tell a lot about a man by the way he plays miniature golf.
> Love is in the air
Half of the Off Main Street writing team recently bought a house in the Town of Tonawanda, and soon after moving in, we received a letter from Highway Superintendent Bill Swanson.
The "Dear New Resident" note included detailed instructions on how to properly set out our trash and recyclables, as well as a warm welcome to the town.
"The Town of Tonawanda has long had a reputation as being 'A Great Place to Love, Work and Play' and I can assure you that, as Superintendent of Highways, I will do everything in my power to assist you in any way that I can," the letter said.
A nice touch, but there's just one problem: The town's slogan, as printed at the bottom of the letter, is "A Great Place to Live, Work and Play."
Off Main Street wondered what "everything in my power" means. Swanson-prepared romantic dinners for all? Aphrodisiacs delivered door-to-door?
Swanson laughed when we called this week, saying department officials caught the mistake on Aug. 5 after about 100 of the letters already had gone out.
A staffer drafting the letter typed "o" instead of "i," a mistake that eluded spell check.
"But we do feel the love in our town," he said.
Written by Bruce Andriatch with a contribution from Stephen T. Watson.