You never leave Buffalo behind. Mark Twain learned that, and SUNY Buffalo State professor Thomas Reigstad, author of “Scribblin’ For a Livin’: Mark Twain’s Pivotal Period in Buffalo,” also learned that when he gave a talk about Twain in Elmira on Twain’s birthday, Nov. 30.

The reception sported two huge sheet cakes from Wegmans. One was for Twain’s wife, and read “Happy 168th Birthday Olivia.” The other said “Happy 178th Birthday Mark Twain,” with a huge frosting picture of the Twains’ mansion at 472 Delaware Ave. Yum! Olivia’s cake went fast.

But no one cut into the Twain cake, and, Reigstad alertly observed, campus food service boxed it up and whisked it off after the reception. “Couldn’t help thinking that the real house partly burned down, then was demolished in 1963,” the scholar reflected. “Yet the cake version survived intact in 2013 at his birthday party!” And was no doubt eaten by someone else later that night. Hey, we are Buffalonians. We know how the cookie crumbles.

Let them eat doughnuts

The Derby principal who banned school cupcakes would faint if he ever went to a Coffee Concert at Kleinhans Music Hall. They are orgies of doughnuts of every description, a fact conductor Ron Spigelman had fun with on Friday. Spigelman, conducting “Classic Christmas,” had just finished the overture to “Hansel and Gretel” by Engelbert Humperdinck – the 19th century German composer, not the lounge singer – when he turned around. “There are a couple of morals to that story,” he said. “One of them is: Don’t eat doughnuts! Not good for you!” This cracked up the big crowd, which included a lot of schoolchildren. “And gingerbread! Horrible!” Spigelman continued, in a mocking, lecturing voice. “Just kidding,” he added. Whew!

No silent night

At least the food police are not at the gates in Lancaster, where the town is on a perpetual sugar high. How else to explain the town’s rocking Christmasville?

We had thought of Lancaster as a quaint place. After all, they inherited those historic AM&A’s window displays.

Now, the village throbs to the beat of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with wildly blinking snowflakes and synchronized lights. “It definitely could be heard through the walls of Lancaster Opera House during Monday’s Town Board meeting,” marvels one woman who was there. Eventually her head began to pound, too. “It gave me a headache and an eyeache.”

Hey, honey – are we still allowed to say honey? – if you feel bad, imagine how Mssrs. Adam, Meldrum and Anderson feel. Surely they are turning in their graves. Maybe that explains part of the rumbling.

The buzz

• The sugar conspiracy: You know how bags of the white, granulated, straight-up stuff used to be 5 pounds and went to 4 pounds? This week, at Tops, Buzz saw 3-pound bags. A sour sign.

• On the sweeter side, could Tops be competing with Wegmans in the live music department? At Tops in Olean on Saturday, they had a brass ensemble, playing Christmas carols.

• History lesson that called out for a warming treat: the War of 1812 commemoration on Squaw Island on Saturday evening. No wind, and yet still, so cold!

One history nerd said: “Gives you new appreciation for what the Americans and British went through.”


“Jada Pinkett Smith Rocked a Bikini This Thanksgiving While You Were Stuffing Your Face.”

– Headline tossed up at us by Yahoo! News