Excerpts from reader commentary on News stories and staffers' online blog postings last week. Online comments come from registered users, but comments to the blogs can be posted under pen names.

Buffalo Sabres: In response to a recap article by News sports reporter Mike Harrington on the team's 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, Tony Hart of Baltimore, Md., surmised:

Take a long-suffering franchise. Add a great owner that spends to the cap. Keep the same loser of a coach, that has NEVER won a cup, but mysteriously keeps his job. What do you get? The same old Sabres. Celebrating 41 years of mediocrity. No cups won, and none coming anytime soon.

Ibrahim Abe Alami of Hamburg added:

I was skeptical yesterday. It's as if I knew the Sabres were going to lose, so I didn't watch the game. I heard my son, yelling in the basement: "Are you kidding! Get him out of there!" I figured [Ryan] Miller was laying a goose egg, and the team was chasing their tails again. Oh well! I snickered maliciously to myself with a smug smile. Nothing is new. It will be a while yet before this team gets it together. In the meantime, thank God for the Bills! At least they're giving us something to cheer about, while the Sabres try to figure out who they are. I won't want to be in Saint Ruff's shoes. The Sabres will pick up toward the end of the football season. That's just the way they are. Deal with it. Go Bills!


Miss Manners: An inquiry to Judith Martin over what one writer viewed as an increasingly annoying tendency by restaurant wait staff to deliver extra spoons and forks to share dessert resulted in this empathetic response from Carla Smith of Wylie, Texas:

Even more annoying, for me, is the iced tea, which has turned into a slap-dash version of "service" via the constant harassment to refill my glass, the insipid presumption that since it is in a glass, I obviously need a straw to drink it and the REALLY RUDE belief that since it is iced tea, you MUST want a lemon on the side of the glass, as if it were some fruity alcoholic beverage in need of some sort of frou-frou.

I have had to resort to putting my tea out of the reach of the wait staff, as not only my wait-person seems insistent on "topping it off" each and every time they get near it, but so does anyone walking by with a pitcher of tea. Most quite rudely never bother asking at all; those that do, tend to ask while they are grabbing the glass away. Not to mention the seemingly growing incapability to pour a simple glass of tea without overfilling it, then setting the whole sloppy mess back by my plate as if nothing is wrong.

I blame it all on the management's TOTAL misuse of the concept of "efficiency." The state of restaurant service is truly abysmal, when the clientele has to become so proactive in getting a simple glass of iced tea!

Andrew Tod of Tokyo-To, Fuchu-Shi, Japan, responsed incredulously to Smith's reply:

Lemon wedges? Extra spoons?

Just as a reminder: Let's be happy that a lemon wedge in your iced tea seems to be the worst of your problems.

Another thing to consider is that it's not efficiency. It's what the majority of customers want. You just may be in the minority, or a quirk in the system. You can make a "request" to customize your drink or order.

Don't blame the wait staff, please. It's hyper-rude.


Vampire quest: Following an article by News staff reporter Anne Neville on doctoral fellow John Edgar Browning's vampire studies, Joseph Martin of Williamsville recalled:

I remember an interesting television series on Vlad the impaler, Bram Stoker's prototype for his book "Dracula." It was thought by some medical authorities that Vlad might have been afflicted with a type of pernicious anemia that forced his face into a rictus-like smile that exposed his canine incisors, making them prominent and giving them a fang-like appearance. They also suggested that Vlad's drinking the iron-rich blood of his victims was helpful in ameliorating his anemia. The current fascination with the whole shape shifter and predatory anthropomorph phenomena is a mystery to me, other than sheer escapism.