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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

Bad bets

Apparently there’s nothing that sports books won’t place odds on.

Maybe it’s because things are slow in the athletic world, with the NBA and NHL playoffs finally over. But oddsmakers’ attentions have turned from rinks and courts to crime. State troopers combing the Adirondack woods for escaped murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat might not find it amusing, but it’s possible to place a bet on when – or if – the fugitives will be caught.

Public relations specialist Charlie Bernard shared the news that analysts at have posted the following odds on their capture: Within a month of escape, 1-2; one to three months, 4-1; three to six months, 10-1; six months to a year, 20-1; and more than a year, 75-1.

If you don’t like that action, there’s a line on how they will be caught. Stealing a car is the best bet, at 8-1. Checking into a hotel is 10-1. For those who like long shots, or to make bets while smirking, the odds on “with their pants down” are 1,000-1.

No longer ‘ALON-nymous’

“Jurassic World” is a smash hit at the box office – and a Buffalo company’s product pops up in a supporting role.

The latest installment of the “Jurassic” series includes gyrospheres, which are sturdy, bubble-like vehicles that allow visitors to travel safely among the dinosaurs. Lee Goldman, a scientist with Surmet Corp., is a big fan of the series and saw the new film with his family. When viewers were told the gyrospheres were – in the moviemakers’ imagination – made of aluminum oxynitride, capable of stopping a 50-caliber bullet, Goldman was stunned. His employer makes it in Buffalo, under the trade name ALON.

Goldman believes the writers got the idea of including the product in the script from a dramatic, widely viewed YouTube video that demonstrates ALON’s ability to stop a 50-caliber bullet.

In “Jurassic World,” an ALON-encased gyrosphere figures into a plot twist involving a nasty dinosaur that we won’t give away. However, Goldman was flying high about Surmet’s moment in the Hollywood spotlight.

“My friends and family were finally interested in what I do,” he joked. “They could finally connect to it.”

Rib-eating lifesaver

Kenmore Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Brendan Finn has had an eventful several weeks, notching achievements that range from heroic to humorous.

Last month, Finn won the Texas Roadhouse Rib Eating Challenge over other area firefighters by polishing off 2 pounds of barbecued ribs. That got him crowned Fire Department Appreciation Month Rib-Eating Champion. Finn received a trophy, winner’s sash and a barbecue dinner catered by Texas Roadhouse for his entire firehouse. Then, on June 10, Finn and Kenmore Police Officer Joanne Davis rushed into a burning home on North End Avenue and ushered a trapped woman and boy to safety. Finn, a 30-year veteran of the department, and Davis were presented with proclamations by Mayor Pat Mang for “exceptional bravery and heroism.”

“We recognize the fact that you put your lives on the line every day,” said Mang, who then joked that Finn’s other proclamation from the Village Board for winning the rib-eating contest was “out in the car.”

A dog’s life

It was a good week at the state Capitol for dogs.

Bills getting final passage in the State Legislature included making the service or working dog the state’s official canine, while another allows paramedics to transport police dogs injured on the job. Yet another restricts animal control officers from taking away dogs that may have become separated from their owners while hunting. And, of course, there was the bill opening the way for dogs to accompany owners at outdoor restaurant areas.

For chickens, it was not so good. The Assembly Friday passed a resolution making July 29 “Chicken Wing Day” in the state.

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil, with contributions from Donn Esmonde, Matt Glynn, Joseph Popiolkowski and Tom Precious. email: