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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 30, 2005

From The Inquirer: Six Stories Fast ...
A policeman was fatally shot last night at St. Mary Medical Center in Lower Bucks County. Robert A. Flor was arrested after a massive manhunt. More. ... Last week's grand jury report brought a fresh wave of abuse allegations. "It's been at least five to 10 a day," said Charles F. Gallagher, the prosecutor handling the cases. More. ... Philly's Got Benergy! is the slogan for a $1.6 million campaign to promote Ben Franklin's 300th-birthday extravaganza. The 15-month celebration begins Oct. 9. More. ... With more than 5,900 unidentified bodies in the U.S., the FBI will open regional labs that can identify DNA from skeletal remains. One will be in Jersey. More. ... Philadelphia may have lost female lawyers. Or maybe more women than men make up the 5 percent who didn't disclose gender in a survey. More. ... Big new furniture store is coming to Chestnut Street. Mitchell Gold + Bob William will be the largest the city has seen in years. More.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Anybody Else Agree Gas Is Too Cheap?
Andrew Cassel has guts. If we want to cut gas consumption, the answer is simple: high prices. Adding taxes would do the trick. Forget polite requests by presidents to use less. So suggests The Inquirer's columnist on the economy. In fact, he argues, we -- and the economy -- might be better off in the long run. Cleaner air. More stable geopolitics. Reduced threat of global climate change. The tax could be used to fund Social Security, a Harvard economist suggests. Read the column. You like this plan? Got a better one?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Martha Can't Make Up Her Mind
... or Make Up a Good Catchphrase
"Good luck"?! Good grief. What happened to "You just don't fit in?" Not that it was great. But you expect a good turn of phrase from a women who can turn tarot cards into tiramisu. Indeed, before her Apprentice bowed, she quipped to Newsweek she'd say, "Your *** is grass." Instead, on Wednesday, Martha went nice-nice polite as she kicked off a quitter. Probably won't continue to watch. Flowers this week, wedding gear the next, handwritten letters -- sure this woman went to jail? Anyway, here are more of our suggestions ...

Have a better idea? Post it as a comment below.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Don't Give It the Gas
Accepting President Bush's challenge for Americans to drive less, Inquirer columnist Monica Yant Kinney bused about South Jersey. She found people too poor to be part of the car culture, difficulty getting from burb to burb, and no signs of a movement to conserve. Besides, as she writes, "some might say we're in this pinch because the President refuses to impose tougher fuel-economy standards on an auto industry that would rather build oil-obsessed SUVs and light trucks than clean, green hybrids." Read her column. She's right. The country paved the way for the gas-guzzling culture to thrive, letting trolleys vanish and rail lines go begging or broke. The future looks frustrating: Higher gas prices, more traffic snarls, scarcer parking, more war in oil-producing states, increasing coastal consequences of global warming. How do we shake this car addiction? Have you acted on President Bush's call?

Beer-Butt Chicken
"Open beer can. Drink 6 ounces." Like the name. Like that line in the recipe. It's one of several for tailgaters in today's Food section. The story focuses on award-winning tailgater Bob Cavanaugh who cooked for a whopping 175 fans for Sunday's game at the Linc. Here's the story, with recipes at the end. Got recipe that tops these? Or a tailgating tale to tell? Oh, and why is it called Beer-Butt Chicken? There's no delicate way of putting this, but the half-filled can is strategically shoved so the bird perches atop it on the grill.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Philly's the 'Next Great City'
"What, are you nuts?" said some staffers at National Geographic Traveler magazine, when editor-in-chief Keith Bellows decided to sing Philadelphia's praises in the October issue. The story, titled "Philly, Really," lauds the city's art, music, restaurants, housing market, Wi-Fi readiness, and appeal to young adults. Old City, it says, is "arguably the liveliest urban neighborhood between Soho in New York and SoBe [South Beach] in Miami." Read Inquirer story. See magazine's gallery of photos. You agree? Heard other out-of-towners gush?

A Man Who Understands "Lost"?
A friend of mine has a theory that might make sense of ABC's hit drama "Lost." The story follows plane-crash survivors as they try to figure out what insane kind of island they've been stranded upon. (Tonight at 9 on ABC.) And this theory just might be right. No, it's not one of these:
  • The people are all dead, wandering the limbo realm between heaven and hell.
  • The castaways are unwitting participants in a diabolical "reality" show.
  • The island is a mad scientist's experiment.
  • The island is an alien spaceship/zoo.

He got the idea after the mysterious hatch was opened and Jack (pictured) descended the shaft to find a gun-wielding fellow he actually knew. Since this theory might be a "spoiler," to read it, you'll have to descend into the "comments" region below.

The Blame Game
Not my fault that the Katrina response was botched, ex-FEMA director Michael Brown told Congress. Is too, congressmen insisted. Is not; let's blame Louisiana officials, Brown said. Or even the White House. And, hey, don't forget Mother Nature. Inquirer story. A couple of people I worked with once suggested making up a Blame Game spinner. If something goes wrong, give a spin and, presto, you have your scapegoat. I think I'll draw one up. Meanwhile, who belongs on a Top 10 list of famous scapegoaters? Athletes, entertainers, criminals and business figures are fair game, not just politicians.

Phils Flop Again
David Bell got thrown out at third in the eighth last night, as the team fell again to the Mets. Now, if the Phils win their last four games, they'll still need three Astros losses to even tie for the wild-card spot. Sigh. It's fan appreciation night tonight at Citizens Bank Park, but how much appreciation do you feel?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Neither Evolution nor Intelligent Design!
That's right. I have an alternate theory: Mischievous Design. Yes, based on evidence I've noticed, God thinks like a bored 10-year-old boy. "Wow, cool, I'll invent dinosaurs! Roar! I'm ruling the Earth for millions of years! Ah, I'm getting tired of them! Hey, I know, I'll wipe them out with a huge asteroid! KABOOM! Cool! Aw, wouldn't it be funny to rev up those little monkeys and let them take over next?" Think I'm kidding? Look at slugs, tapeworms, maggots, mosquitos, piranha, snakes, cockroaches, jellyfish, fungus, hippos, cows and warthogs. What kind of being created these things? A sensitive master artist? Or some half-devilish entity who often thinks, "Whoa, gross! Gotta love it, dude!" A bonus of this theory is that it explains hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados and lightning without resorting to "our faith is being tested" or "punishment for our sins." Who'll sign my petition to get my theory taught in schools? (See also Inquirer story on the big court case beginning in Harrisburg over the teaching of intelligent design in schools.)

Let's Protest
Yesterday saw protestors on two fronts. People in Harrisburg, like Susan Kline of Wallingford (left), greeted legislators with signs, a giant inflated pink pig, loud oinks and boos. See story. In Philadelphia, at the offices of GlaxoSmithKline, 10 protestors demanded the recall of the antidepressant Paxil. An organizer said Paxil is addictive, and gave him anxiety attacks and violent thoughs. See story.

What would you most like to protest?

Should McNabb Sit?
Phil Sheridan thinks so. Why risk having aggravating the QB's many injuries? Look what happened to kicker David Akers. Read column and related news story. What do you think?

Phillies Aren't Dead Yet
Agree? Do you care?

Bob Ford has some good lines in a column about fan anger:
  • "The front office has become like a sixth grader passing notes in homeroom, desperately trying to determine if the object of one's affection likes him, like likes him or, unfortunately, hates him wicked."
  • "This is like the fellow standing in a room full of elephants, wondering where all the poop is coming from, but at least the organization seems to finally realize that there is a problem."
  • "The Eagles didn't steal the city. The Phils gave it away."
  • "Here's a prediction: If the Phillies win the current wild-card race, they will be shocked by the depth and sincerity of the support they receive. Not until, however. Not until."

Your thoughts?

Clean Chin Means a Win?
N.J. Sen. John Corzine should shave, some pundits advise. Bah. The results might not be good. One day, because gray hairs appeared in my shaggy beard, I shaved -- without warning my wife. When I snuck up on her, she screamed! People at work, of course, said, "Hmm. Did you lose weight?" How might the senator look? Click the buttons:

Have a better lookalike? Email Early Word.
By the way, for the latest on this famous author, who once had a price on his head, and who has a new novel out, see Carlin Romano's interview.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
That List of Priests
Tens of thousands of people have examined The Inquirer's online list of priests alleged to have sexually abused children by last week's grand jury report. Tom Ferrick wrote in his column yesterday that he checked for names he knew: "I saw six: three priests who taught at Cardinal O'Hara High School when I went there; another who was a longtime resident at Sacred Heart, Manoa, where I went to church as a child; two others whom I knew as a reporter." Today, John Grogan writes in his column that "every adult Catholic in the archdiocese should read this report. Blind faith is no faith at all." Have you seen familiar names on the list? What reactions have you had? (Note: Please don't post any new allegations. Email Early Word instead, with contact information and a reporter will follow up.)

Impressions of the Eagles Game
No wonder people tailgate. You need all those calories to walk from your Siberian parking space then up all those ramps to your seat. ... Saw a customized No. 5 Eagles jersey that instead of "McNabb" read "I AM DRUNK." ... Section 207 was par for the coarse (pardon the pun). Every time someone in Raiders attire trudged up the steps, the locals kept chanting a term for a nether orifice. The smart victims just smiled back, as if to say, "That's OK. I know you boo your dog, too." ... Fans even compete at spelling E-A-G-L-E-S. "Helmetman" led 207's enthusiastic letter-yelling. But when a similar attempt was mounted by a section across the stadium's corner cutout, 207 booed them and their pudgy green-faced leader who had caps pinned on his back. ... As for the game itself, yo, Andy Reid, you need a much better plan B for kickoffs than Mike Bartrum! ... And, yo, Joe Banner, pay Brian Westbrook! (That's him celebrating a TD above.) His receiving skills make him MORE valuable than mere rushers and you know it. ... Finally, Andy, have you figured out yet that running to the outside works much better with Westbrook than going up the middle? Too bad, you didn't realize it in the Super Bowl.

Charlie & the Win-Late Factory
You don't have to believe, and you have every right to fear getting your hopes up. But if you've been snubbing the Phillies, you've missed some moments of sheer magic. Two ninth-inning homers to win Friday night! And yesterday's win puts the Phils just a game back of the Astros for the wild-card spot, as the Mets come to town tonight. Roll the dice. Risk disappointment. It's do or die, and why can't this team will come through? Dare to get excited? Going to a game?

Bree: The More Outrageous 'Corpse Bride'
Or should I say "corpse's bride"? See Desperate Housewives last night? Amazing scene when Bree (Marcia Cross) stops the funeral service to change her husband's tie. His sentimentally meddling mother had somehow, to Bree's horror, substituted a gauche orange prep-school number. Guess Bree couldn't live with the idea of her husband being tackily dressed in death. Meanwhile, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride failed to kill at the box office, but finished an animated runnerup to Jodie Foster's Flightplan.

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