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What Is Early Word?
The Philadelphia Inquirer's experimental online "morning show", which began in Sept. 2005, went on hiatus in the summer of 2006, after a gradual shift to putting more of its content directly on

About the Host
Peter Mucha, husband and father of two, grew up in Cherry Hill and is a lifelong Philly sports fan. He's been writing and editing for The Inquirer for 18 years. His motto (at least for today): "If I'm not brief, give me grief."

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The Inquirer's ever-evolving way to start your day. Email. Phone: 215-854-2388.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Who Would You Like to See Go to Jail?
It's probably a character flaw, but I was happy to see a couple of corporate crooks get sent up the river. L. Dennis Kozlowski (left) and Mark Swartz were convicted of stealing $600 million from their company, Tyco International. Yesterday, the two were bused to Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill, N.Y., where each cell "is 90 square feet, has a metal door, a metal bed, a sink, a toilet, a writing desk with a seat, and a secure window," says the AP story. But people don't always pay, of course. Just witness yesterday's news that no charges could be filed against child-abusing priests from the Philadelphia Archdiocese. Who would you like to see get convicted and tossed in the slammer?

Forget the Past, Frank!
Gees. Here's a smart strategy for a newspaper: Rip your readers. (Sarcasm alert.) Go ahead, pile it on. Call them "silly," "irrational," "narrow-minded knuckleheads" and "yelping yahoos" who think things like, "What, the Phillies aren't going to go 162-0 this season? ... Well, then, why the heck should I pay good money to watch those bums?" Even for hyperbole, that's, well, "silly." But Frank Fitzpatrick lobs this point of view in today's "Morning Bytes" column. The Phils are playing great lately, but recently they blew a series against the Astros. Years of frustration have bred fans' lack of faith, and so have all the strikeouts, stranded runners and bad decisions that kept the team about .500 for most of the season. Did like that "yelping yahoos" phrase. Good one. What do you think?

Raging Against Aging
"Sylvia Brickman was 88 years old when she decided to have a breast reduction," writes Dawn Fallik in a story that says more seniors are getting quality-of-life surgeries. Meanwhile, Andrew Cassell writes in his column, "The Economy," says that employers are likely to need and value aging baby boomers, even as many of them can't wait to retire. Is getting old getting better? Have a story about surgery or retirement plans you'd like to share?

$4-a-Gallon Gas? Fill Up With Cooking Oil?
The threat of Hurricane Rita forced gulf refineries to shut down, and that will force gas prices up. Story. Columnist John Grogan, though, has a story of hope, about a Berks County man who runs his '85 Mercedes on used peanut oil he gets for free from a local restaurant. The exhaust is very clean, with a bit of a smell like french fries. Are you doing anything to be free of oil and electric companies? Post a comment and tell us your story.

Get Some Ugly Friends!
Can't help but comment on today's "Ask Amy" column in The Inquirer. A woman says she's met a guy, and thinks she should meet him with a group of friends. Problem: Her friends are all gorgeous. What should she do? Naive goody-two-shoes Amy Dickinson (pictured) says, don't worry, if he's a great guy, he'll see her inner beauty. Read column. C'mon. You can't sell a Saab if it's surrounded by Jaguars. Especially to guys, who have this flaw of being blinded, at least short-term, by great looks. Bet if he brings his friends, they'll all be ugly. What do you think?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Statute of Limitations
Yesterday's grand jury report on sexual abuse by priests from the Philadelphia Archdiocese was especially shocking in at least two respects. First, the offenses were so severe. In one case, a priest allegedly raped an 11-year-old repeatedly, then arranged for her to have an abortion. Story. Second, not one person was charged with a crime because of Pennsylvania's statute of limitations laws. Story. Good grief. In cases of abuse, children are often too afraid or ashamed to tell their stories for years. The law has to be changed. District Attorney Lynne Abraham (left), who released the report, said the outcome was "a travesty of justice." Makes you wonder what the legislature's been doing to earn its pay raise, doesn't it? The archdiocese, accused of covering up cases and protecting abusers, agreed such abuse is "abhorrent," but ripped the report as biased and anti-Catholic. Story. More online: Full grand jury report. Catalog of abusive priests. Abusive priests: List by assignment and parish.

Ryan Howard hits a grand slam in the 10th inning to give the Phillies a 10-6 win over the Braves. I am not making this up. Pretty exciting baseball. Game story and an On Baseball column that focuses on Howard. Too bad the Astros keep playing patsies and staying in the wild-card lead. With only 10 games to go, "Every game is an end-of-the-world game at this point," says Billy Wagner. The hope continues this afternoon with another game against the Braves. Any other cynics like me now admitting the team's deserves more respect?

Do You Get "Lost"?
What?! No aliens? No rungs of Hell? No mad scientist's computer lab? Last night, fans of ABC's Emmy-winning "Lost" got to find out what's down "the Hatch" ... and it seemed to be only some guy's bomb shelter. Except for that odd "quarantine" sign. OK, putting the clues together who is this guy and what's he doing there? Post your guess and I'll reply with mine. Also, cast your vote in our "Lost" poll, which asks: Where are these people?

What Martha Should Have Said
On Martha Stewart's version of The Apprentice Wednesday night, she banished a rhyme-happy control freak with the words, "You just don't fit in." Yawn. Not nearly as snappy as "You're fired." She could have said ...

What's your idea? Post it as a comment below.

Also as Good as Britney's Baby
"Early Word" asked for baby pictures, because all babies are newsworthy, not just celebrities'. Here's West Chester's Maeve Kitson, born Aug. 29, 2004.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Covering Philly
Sports Illustrated shines the spotlight on two of our city's teams, citing big changes for the better. Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens are all smiles in the big picture, as an inset on the Phillies features Jimmy Rollins' photo. "Turmoil, What Turmoil?" the Eagles story asks. The piece on the Phils, titled "Look Who's Playing Tough," says they're "no longer the same torpid, good-but-not-good-enough Phillies." Read Don Steinberg's story. Talk to him about it at noon in our chatroom. Take our sports poll on whether this will jinx the teams. Or start a discussion here. Think these teams really have changed?

New Risk for Kids: Colored Contacts
One eye doctor tells of a panicky teen with bacteria-clouded corneas and whites so bloodshot they were "fire-engine red." The cause: nonpresciption contact lenses. They're popular, and available at the Shore, at tanning salons and other outlets. "Some teens and young adults just want to change their eye color, but others opt for Day-Glo or cat-eye versions. They are a hit at Halloween and year-round at nightclubs and other trendy spots," writes Inquirer reporter Toni Callas. Read article and list of safety tips. Have you seen any cases? Click "comments" and share the story.

And You Thought Gossip Columnists Are Nosy
Liberace liked to gamble? Bette Davis was a communist sympathizer? Actor Victor Mature had a stalker? All sorts of allegations and insinuations are emerging from a six-inch stack of FBI documents obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act. The AP asked for every "High Visibility Memorandum" from 1974 to 2005 and got 1,500 pages on all sorts of famous folks, including Louis Armstrong, Lucille Ball, Walter Payton and Albert Einstein. Story. Feel safer knowing the Bureau kept a watchful eye on Groucho Marx (above), Walt Disney and the TV show The FBI? Wonder if the FBI has a file on you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Oink If You Hate the Legislature's Pay Raise!
A giant bright pink inflated pig awaited Pa. state senators as they returned from their 10-week summer recess yesterday. Its message? Lawmakers acted like hogs at a trough, boosting their pay earlier this year. The pig's creator is Gene Stilp, who is challenging the raises in court. Story. Also, read John Grogan's column on how the issue energized the electorate. Are your energized?

Back to the Moon? That's loony!
NASA has unveiled a $104-billion plan to send people to the moon by 2018. Then it's on to Mars! Story. Sure, it sounds like scientific progress and fulfillment our plucky pioneering spirit, but does it make sense? Why not put that money into creating smarter robots, which can do the job more cheaply without risking lives? In turn, we'd boost U.S. technology in a field where the Japanese are taking the lead. I suspect there's some military motive, like controlling the higher ground. Could this also be a deliberate way to underfund the search for life on other worlds? What do you think?

You like this skyscraper?
The Cira Centre was finally enclosed in glass this summer, its angled shape insisting on being judged. Do you find the design sleek and daring? Or jarring? It was to me as I saw it towering beyond the neoclassical architecture near Logan Square, looking like some shard from Krypton. But I expect I'll grow to like it for its originality. How about you?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Love Returns to Eagles Land
Nothing like a couple of touchdown connections to smooth ruffled feathers? Since training camp, Terrell Owens talked of not talking to Donovan McNabb, but yesterday they joked together on the sidelines. Trouncing the 49ers 48-3 was real mood-enhancer. Game story. And, as if that's not enough love, Inqlings yesterday said a wedding might be in T.O.'s future. All summer, we feared a holdout and disruption. Can we relax now? No, because the postseason is what counts, say two columnists. Read Phil Sheridan and Stephen A. Smith.

Using Rapper's Real Name Leads to Jail Stay
What a story. In 2000, James Johnson was being charged with attempted theft. Angry because he was innocent, he says, he told police his name was Shawn Carter, the real name of rapper Jay-Z. In April, that pretense somehow led to a mixup that landed Johnson in a correctional facility for a month and half. Seems Shawn Carter is a popular alias. Read Tina Moore's story.

A Face Transplant?
Imagine: "Your face will be removed and replaced with one donated from a cadaver." That phrase is from a story about a daring procedure being investigated by Cleveland Clinic surgeon Maria Siemionow (left). It could improve the lives of people horribly disfigured by burns, accidents or other tragedies. "Today's best treatments still leave many of them with freakish, scar-tissue masks that don't look or move like natural skin," the story says. More.
Less creepy is the idea of building new organs from a patient's own tissues, avoiding donors and tissues matches. A King of Prussia company named Tengion Inc. is pioneering this possibility. Read Linda Lloyd's story.

Phils Reviving Respect?
That 10-run ninth inning Saturday night was a party, even if Marlins miscues helped. So is winning 7 of 8 down the stretch here. Has the team finally found the will and character to become a winner? Or am I getting suckered in? They did, after all, lose big to Florida yesterday. See game story. Columnist Karen Heller, for one, writes she finds it painful to see her husband, an ardent fan, get so wrapped up in a team that so inevitably disappoints. Read her column about it and join her online chat this morning at 11. This week could prove decisive, writes Jim Salisbury in his "On Baseball" column.

Where's the Money Going to Come From?
Tony Auth's Sunday cartoon sums up a fact of life: Along with questions about managing a war and disaster relief come questions about managing the nation's money. President Bush has said no new taxes, which means cuts in other programs, like senior prescriptions, or even bigger deficits. Can we really afford to pay for all this -- even by deferring paying? Your thoughts?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Game Day Special ...
What?! T.O. Gets TD, Doesn't Celebrate?
As posted earlier, "Early Word" expected Terrell Owens to have some special stunt cooked up for his first TD this season. But no! He puts the ball down, and runs away. What's up with that?
Think he's saying, "You won't pay me extra, I'm not doing extra"? I'll have more Eagles stuff tomorrow morning.

Game Day Special ...
Your Coach's Mustache!
OK, "Early Word" is a weekday morning gig. But since Terrell Owens has yet to score his first post-pout TD, we thought we'd resurrect this bit from Monday. You know T.O. has a trick up his sleeve. What'll he do? Put a big piece of tape over his mouth? (Not likely.) Toss cans of Progresso into the stands? (Poking fun at Donovan McNabb's Campbell's ads.) Flap like a bird, saying, "Cheap! Cheap!" to tweak the front office? Here's how he'd look putting on an Andy Reid mustache. Post your best idea or guess. Prediction: Eagles 31-13, rebounding big from Monday night's loss.

Go to: Early Word = Philadelphia Inquirer = = Lighter Side

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