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Off Main Street/ The offbeat side of the news

From puddles to ice

It may be time to store away the steel-belted radials and break out tires with some better traction.

In another sign that winter is on its way, the Department of Motor Vehicles recently announced that drivers can install snow tires with metal studs beginning Sunday.

“By law, these tires can be used in New York State only from October 16 through April 30,” a statement from the DMV Friday said. “The agency also reminded New York drivers to winterize their vehicles and review safe driving tips ahead of cold weather.”

Not that we’ll be needing snow tires any time in the near future.

According to the National Weather Service, there’s a chance of showers off and on throughout the next week and the temperatures aren’t expected to drop below the 40s in the Buffalo metro area.

We won’t complain, as it’s infinitely better to still be driving through puddles than skidding on a blacktop ice rink, if one has a choice.

A full plate

So once again, Buffalo cuisine was immortalized this week in the pages of the New York Times.

This time, in addition to the already ubiquitous Buffalo chicken wing, the more obscure (outside these environs) ‘beef on weck’ and sponge candy were given a little ink for foodies everywhere to pore over and ponder. Though, these two gastronomic delights seem to pale in comparison to some other regional upstate New York inventions, including a Rochester area staple called the ‘Garbage Plate,’ described as a “mix of hash brown potatoes, macaroni salad, a meat of some sort, eggs or grilled cheese topped with onions, mustard and ground beef chili.”

That certainly sounds like a full plate.

Our hats are off to the Times travel writer, Justin Sablich, for having sampled all these unique, calorie-laden dishes, from Buffalo to Binghamton. We can only surmise that he has a cast iron stomach.

No. 1 SUNY school

The University at Buffalo may have just eked its way into a U.S. News & World Report compilation of the ‘top 100 universities’ last month, but it also bounded into the ‘top 30’ in a new ranking of public colleges and universities by the Wall Street Journal and Higher Times Education.

UB ranked at No. 28 among public institutions of higher learning in the country, and came in at No. 1 among SUNY institutions in the ranking.

According to the university’s official newspaper, the UB Reporter: “UB scored particularly high in the engagement and learning environment categories — two areas in which the university has made substantial investments to enrich students’ academic experience.”

UB also rated highly for its commitment to diversity among students and faculty, and for fostering an on-campus environment of inclusion.

Where comedy goes to live

Edmund Kean, the 19th century Shakespearean, is purported to have said: “Comedy is easy; dying is hard.”

But what about a dying breed of comedy? How hard is that to sustain?

The Chautauqua Region Community Center in Jamestown is spearheading an endowment to ensure the longterm survival of the National Comedy Center, which is under construction in the hometown of comedy legend Lucille Ball. Getting the attention of some big, national names in comedy to jump on the bandwagon is a big lift. So the backers of this effort went to the Quilted Squirrel, a local advertising firm, for help in creating a video for the pitch.

The video opens with a quote from the late George Burns: “I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.” It is, perhaps, an apt metaphor for where today’s comedy and the comedy of the past will someday soon find its future.

The Quilted Squirrel noted in an email advertising its efforts on behalf of the museum endowment: “Museums are neat, but sometimes boring. One that definitely won’t be boring? The National Comedy Center.”

Off Main Street is written by Harold McNeil.

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