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The offbeat side of the news

Late-partying Panthers fans

The Queen City made a good impression on at least four Milwaukee Panthers fans who were in town Thursday for the March Madness NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Our cold, wet weather didn’t faze them. They had left similar conditions behind in Wisconsin. But our approval rating really soared once they heard the bars here stay open until 4 a.m. – two hours later than they do at home.

That closing hour offered plenty of time to experience the local nightlife after their team’s game against the Villanova Wildcats, which wasn’t even slated to start until 9:25 p.m.

“We can drink in Milwaukee,” said Ken Peterson. “But it’s pretty impressive that you can outdrink us.”

We’re not so sure about that. They started pregaming at 1 p.m.

Deciphering Buffalo

Meanwhile, members of the Villanova University Pep Band killed time before their game at the Anchor Bar, eating buckets of wings and deciphering this famous linguistic gem of a sentence “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

“I get the first two Buffaloes, but then I get lost,” one said.

Another chimed in that the third “buffalo” means to bully, and they unraveled it quickly from there.

“It’s like saying, ‘Buffalo bisons that get bullied by other Buffalo bisons bully those Buffalo bison themselves,” someone concluded.

When the waitress came by to pick up their chicken wing bones and leftover celery, someone said: “You can take all of these plates. We’re Buh-FULL-oh.”

Orange you happy?

Downtown, the Pan-American Bar Grill and Brewery in Hotel @ The Lafayette on Washington Street had established itself as the Syracuse University alumni headquarters, even decking out a mounted buck head on its wall with orange confetti.

It rapidly filled with joyous fans within minutes after the game ended. Before the Syracuse game, 7-year-old Jacob DiCicco, of Webster, showed off a drawing of “Otto the Orange” painted on the back of his shaved head.

His dad, Aaron DiCicco, bought tickets to the 2:45 p.m. game for $129 Monday but saw they were selling for way more on StubHub.

“I told him we could have sold the tickets and gotten a new bike, and he said, ‘No way,’ ” the dad said.

Silent opera

The music lovers who show up for the Metropolitan Opera’s live transmissions on Saturday afternoons in the Regal Elmwood Center are – how can we say this politely? – a mature lot.

And when the production is one that is rarely performed, only the true aficionados come out. So good manners were the order of the day last Saturday when the sound went out during the death scene at the end of Massenet’s “Werther.”

There was not a sound from the seats or the screen as tenor Jonas Kaufmann, having shot himself, sang his last aria and spilled copious amounts of blood all over soprano Sophie Koch.

When a theater attendant came out to apologize for the technical glitch, there were only a few murmurs, and then one man piped up: “It’s all right. He’s almost dead anyway.”

Comfy chairs

Twenty-two North Tonawanda High School students spent Tuesday in City Hall shadowing local leaders.

Later that evening, eight of the students took their places sitting in the top spots for the Common Council as the regular city leaders sat behind them.

Student Mayor Joe Kraus learned a little humor goes a long way after giving North Tonawanda Mayor Robert G. Ortt a backhanded compliment.

Kraus called it a wonderful opportunity, then added, “Special thanks to Mayor Ortt for helping me realize that there’s more to being mayor that sitting in a nice comfy chair.”

Ortt said the students showed a lot of initiative and now know more about local government than many adults.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions by Samantha Christmann, Denise Jewell Gee, Bill Flynn and Nancy A. Fischer.