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We have met the enemy

The crew of Brig Niagara, the reconstructed War of 1812 vessel that won the Battle of Lake Erie and spent Navy Week in Buffalo, takes pride in the authenticity of the ship based in Erie, Pa.

After all, the crew sleeps in hammocks strung from large wooden beams below decks. There are no showers onboard. They cook over a wood-burning stove and hoist the sails using the same methods and commands the original Niagara's crew would have employed.

And the ship incorporates wood from Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's original.

"This is the real thing. There's nothing fake about this ship," boasted Niagara crew member Claudia Bankert.

Perhaps that's why it attracted so much attention while docked at Canalside and also during a day sail Monday.

Motorboats, sailboats and kayaks were attracted to the majestic ship like bugs to a light bulb. Many pulled up within yards of the vessel just to catch a closer look or to a snap a picture.

Someone on board the Niagara just couldn't resist, bellowing, "Captain, we're broadside! Can we fire?"

Washing out his mouth

Last Saturday's "Wait Wait . Don't Tell Me!" quiz show had fun at the expense of our senior U.S. senator, Chuck Schumer, after he publicly warned that children are eating brightly colored "pods" of detergent.

Peter Sagal, host of the National Public Radio program, explained Schumer didn't eat any but said they're dangerous because they look "so delicious."

Panelist P.J. O'Rourke observed, "Boy, he is a bright light of the Senate."

Sagal replied, "Isn't he, though?"

O'Rourke then imagined a conversation: "'Hey where's Sen. Schumer? We've got an important phone call.' 'He's out in the hall eating laundry detergent.' "

Amid laughter, Sagal piled on: "Remember when you see Sen. Schumer, if he's foaming at the mouth, it's probably not rabies. Probably."

We contacted Schumer and got this via email from spokeswoman Meredith Kelly: "Sen. Schumer is doing whatever it takes to clean up Washington."

The Cougars get a cougar

A recent article in the Dunkirk Observer jumped out at us because it isn't every day you read a sentence like this:

"The next problem was transporting the cougar from Montana to Cassadaga."

The cougar in question is dead and stuffed, making transport a bit safer.

It's coming to Chautauqua County because Rodney Storer, whose children attended Cassadaga Valley Central School, thought the school needed a cougar to match its sports nickname.

Rodney Storer ended up persuading Glen Smith, a guide who lives in Trout Creek, Mont., near Rodney's dad, Roger, and his dad to donate the mounted cat.

Roger Storer drove the cougar from Montana to Cassadaga, drawing the amount of attention from passers-by that you'd expect to draw if you had a stuffed cougar sitting in your car.

Roger Storer stopped at a tavern in Michigan and chatted up the locals.

"He asked them, 'Have you ever seen cougars in Michigan?' Some of them said yes. He told them there is one right in the parking lot. The locals go out into the parking lot and dad opens the car door," his son recounted.

The school is building a display case for the cougar, but we hope to see it brought out for big football games.

Politics served al dente

We don't know if Joe Jerge has a recipe to solve Lackawanna's problems, but the chef and owner of the popular Mulberry Café restaurant is taking a stab at it by joining the City Council.

Jerge was appointed unanimously Sept. 17 to fill the vacant 3rd Ward seat.

After the meeting, he went into the office of City Clerk Jacqueline A. Caferro for his swearing-in. Caferro couldn't resist adding a tasty postscript to Jerge's oath: "And free manicotti for everyone!"

We didn't hear Jerge second this motion, so we guess the manicotti won't be on the house on our next visit.



Written by Stephen T. Watson with contributions from T.J. Pignataro ?and Jay Tokasz. ?email: offmain@buffnews.com