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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, October 21, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Ban Boys From Girls' Teams?
A West Chester Area school board member wants not only to exclude boys from girls' field hockey, but cross off the schedule opponents with males. On that mixed-gender list: Coatesville, Conestoga, Great Valley, Frankford and Jenkintown. (Pictured is Tom Brogan of Frankford battling Northeast's Malikava Alexandra.) Read Inquirer article.

"I think it's important to take action before a girl gets seriously hurt by a boy," said Joseph Green Jr., the school board member. His daughter plays goal for the West Chester Henderson team, which has no male players.

"You really have to keep an open mind," a state athletic association official said. "Boys have to be given an equal opportunity." Indeed, that's what a court ruled in 1975. New Jersey's counterpart group, though, bans boys from girls' teams.

What's your take? Which is more unfair: Excluding boys? Or jeopardizing female athletes' opportunities and enthusiasm? Or is "fairness" somehow besides the point?

Post your comment here. Or call 215-854-2388 and record your message for others to hear here later.

Local Briefing
5 Stories Fast
Retro blazers: Mitchell & Ness, known for pricey replicas of bygone sports uniforms, has figured out how to capitalize on the new NBA dress code. The Philly firm has come up with a line of vintage gabardine wool blazers styled after ones worn by teams' ushers in stadiums and arenas. More. ... Gov. Rendell says national guard units here lack equipment because so much has gone to Iraq and Afghanistan only to be left there. More. ...
Several Philadelphians tell about getting a home makeover by a new HGTV show. Reactions: mixed. "I don't want to seem ungrateful," said a Queen Village veterinarian, "but there are things I would not have done." Read "Magic or madness?" ... Yorktown works, residents say. The suburban-style community in North Philadelphia was an experiment in the early 1960s. "I'm surprised that it hasn't been replicated across the city," said the head of the homeowner's group. More. Architecture critic Inga Saffron casts a wary eye toward the redesign of the Clothespin plaza. Looks like the popular gathering place will become "more elegant" and "more corporate," and lose some its "circus" character. "Changing Skyline."

'One' Mistake Was Mine
OK, somebody slap me. Yesterday I feared the worst upon reading that this year's "One Book, One Philadelphia" wouldn't have one book, but three about Ben Franklin. Turns out the idea has something for everybody. Franklin's autobiography for people (like me) who have always wanted to read it. An "interesting and lively" biography, Franklin: The Essential Founding Father. And even a title for kids: Ben & Me. Read Inquirer story, "Mouse among 3 authors."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Oregon Ticket Wins Powerball Jackpot
But Mega Millions Is Also Huge ... and Spooky?
Somebody who bought a ticket in Oregon had last night's winning Powerball numbers: 7, 21, 43, 44 and 49, plus the Powerball of 29. The payout's a Powerball record: a $340 million annuity, or $164 million cash. Ten Pennsylvania tickets are worth a cool $853,492 for matching the first five numbers but not the Powerball. Usually that combination wins $200,000 but officials beefed it up with bonus money, letting it grow for this drawing.

Lucky devils. Sixty tickets in my pool, and none won even $3 for having the Powerball.

Now check out what's going on in Jersey, especially you Lost fans. The Mega Millions jackpot is up to $108 million. That's not only huge, 108 eerily coincides with a lottery-related plotline on the ABC hit "Lost." A corpulent character named Hurley (pictured) won a gigundo jackpot playing 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. These numbers keep reappearing on the show, most recently as a sequence needed to stave off an imagined catastrophe. Here's where 108 shows up: That code has be typed on a computer every 108 minutes. Also, notice that 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 add up to 108.

Nonsense? Let's hope so. Those numbers brought misfortune to Hurley and all sorts of people around him. And yet hundreds of people played them in last week's Powerball.

MegaMillions tickets are also sold in Maryland and New York.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
'One Book, One Philadelphia' Gets Too Greedy
Or just plain indecisive. This reading program is a great idea: Pick a book, publicize it, and people might actually read it, happy to have a common cultural experience. This year, though, three books will be named, all about Ben Franklin. What?! This saps the sense of unity and undermines the motivation to take part. Few people are likely read more than one, so how and why should I choose one, knowing more people will probably read one of the other two titles? The titles haven't been named yet (that picture's just a guess), so let's hope there's still time to chart a singular course. Officials can't agree which is best? Flip a coin! Read Inquirer article.

Post your comments here. Or have them recorded to be heard here by calling 215-854-2388.

Gimme All Your 'Doh!'
No sign of a Robberies for Dummies at But there might be a market ... if official versions of two local cases are true.
Guess Who: The Pay Stub Clue On Monday, a note presented at a Bensalem Wachovia Bank demanded "20s, 50s, 100 dollar bills." The smiley face used for a period wasn't the silliest part. No, the note was on a pay stub, and the name and address could still be made out, even though they'd been blackened out. "We just put it under a light," said a township official. More.
Guess Who 2: What, Stores Have Witnesses and Cameras? On Saturday, a man strolled around a Spring City Rite Aid for 15 minutes. Then, apparently concluding a disguise might be wise, he grabbed a Halloween mask, put it on and robbed the store. The female cashier thought he was joking, but mention of a weapon induced her to part with cash. This guy, though, got away, fleeing on foot. He's described as a dirty-blond white male, about 6 feet tall and 30 years old. More.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
A Dozen Don'ts for Powerball Players
1. Don't forget to buy tickets by 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time today. (That's Dolly Hershey of Conshohocken getting hers.)
2. If you live in Pa., don't buy tickets in Delaware, or you'll have to pay state-income tax on your winnings. (Unless you want to stay anonymous. Only Delaware lets you do that.)
3. Don't forget to sign those divorce papers.
4. Don't stay in a relationship you plan to end Thursday.
5. Don't let friends hold the tickets they bought just for you.
6. Don't let that "trustworthy" guy who runs your lottery pool go home without forking over copies of the tickets and the list of participants.
7. Don't play Hurley's magic-jinx numbers from ABC's Lost, unless you're OK with splitting the jackpot with 275,000 other people.
8. Don't lose your tickets. (Photocopies and convenience-store surveillance tapes won't help.)
9. Don't get your hopes up.
10. Don't forget to check your numbers. At least twice.
11. Don't forget to sign your winning ticket and put it in a very safe place, while you search for a lawyer and a financial planner.
12. Don't spend a dime without first making a bid to buy the Phillies from the current ownership.

Also, check out the front-page Inquirer story about ways to spend the jackpot.

How would you spend your $123 million after taxes?

Local Briefing
5 Stories Fast
Poll shows support for Philadelphia hosting a Summer Olympics. Only half of those surveyed, though, think there's any chance of this happening. More.
It took a major interstate effort to catch accused multimillion-dollar burglar Patrick Burns. He allegedly stole from more than 200 homes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey since early 2004 . More.
Dogs stranded by Katrina are being distributed to shelters after being airlifted into Reading. Some people, though, fear the influx will mean more local strays will be euthanized. More.
The diva's also a professor. Star soprano Julianne Baird (above left), who teaches at Rutgers-Camden, has been booed in Belgium, arrested in Maryland, and extensively recorded. She sings Vivaldi and Bach tomorrow night in the city. More.
A 130-pound deer crashed through a supermarket window in Reading and ran amok for more than an hour. Cashier Kelsey Bracken was glad she wasn't at her cash register at the time: "I would have died. It ran right through [register] five." More.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Morning News
Jewelry Heist at Willow Grove Park Mall
A break-in late last night is being investigated by Abington detectives and the FBI, township police have confirmed. At least six individuals took part in the burglary of the Zale's Jewelry Store, prying open cases to swipe rings, watches and other jewelry items. A battery-powered saw of some sort was used to get through a locked security gate. Painters noticed two black males acting suspiciously near Zales around 10:15 p.m., police said. At 10:18 a circuit breaker was tripped, putting the store's video surveillance out of commission. People were seen running to a dark SUV and speeding away.

The operation could be related to other mall burglaries, including one at Whitehall Jewelers in the same mall in January, investigators said. Earlier this month, thieves made off with $250,000 worth of jewelry from two stores in the Salisbury Township South Mall near Allentown. In that case, the robbers pried open glass cases and quickly loaded watches, bracelets, pendants, chains and other items into duffle bags as alarms were sounding. But they were gone before police could respond, according to the Allentown Morning Call.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Arm Your Alarms! Lock Your Doors!
You do, don't you? I thought everybody does. But the Inquirer's Monica Yant says some rich suburbanites are lax about security: "They leave the house, windows and cars unlocked, intentionally, defiantly." Such habits helped Patrick Lloyd Burns pull off more than 200 big-bucks burglaries in Pennsylvania and Jersey over the last year and a half, hauling in $10 million or more, according to investigators. Read her column. Read "Targets were rich; protection was poor," an article about the string of burglaries that may involve Burns.

That does it: Word's out! You gonna lock up now? Or still feel safe because you live at the end of a long driveway?

Post a comment here. (Tip: Click "Other" instead of "Blogger," so you won't be asked for a password.) Or speak your mind by calling 215-854-2388, to have your thoughts heard on "Early Word."

Pictured: Moorestown police sketch of a man believed responsible for two September burglaries and a sexual assault.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It
Wing Bowl Goes "Virgin"
You Too Can Be a Champion Chomper: Philly's carnival of carnivores and fleshy females is making two big changes, WIP (610-AM) announced this morning. First, no free admission this year. Instead, starting Sunday at 10 a.m., tickets will go on sale for $5 at the Wachovia Center box office and through Ticketmaster. Proceeds go to charity. Second, no one who has competed before will be eligible. That means no Sonya Thomas (left) or other past victors. "For the first time since Wing Bowl 1, every contestant in Wing Bowl 14 will be a first-time contestant," said Angelo Cataldi, WIP's master of morning high jinks.

As for the Wingettes, the scantily clad crew that cheers on contestants, forget that "virgin" aspect. "We're not clearing that slate," Cataldi said.

You gonna pay? You gonna compete?

What Did Romo Mean About the Eagles?
Last night, ex-Eagles linebacker Bill Romanowski, pitching his auto-bio, mentioned the Philly team as he led 60 Minutes viewers through a "hate"-and-supplement-filled career in which he broke a couple of players' faces, spit in another's, and intentionally snapped one of Dave Meggett's fingers. This is straight from the CBS transcript:

Romanowski says that in Philadelphia the team sent him to a hospital for something called a Trauma I.V. "When I walked in the hospital on crutches, and I ran out of the hospital, I knew it was something good."

The Eagles declined comment, saying no one who might know more was still with the team. Romanski was an Eagle in'93 and '94. Otho Davis, the trainer then, died five years ago.

While, out of context, the mysterious remark seems suggestive of a medical misdeed, during the show, it seemed like just another example of how much Romanowski believed in better playing through biochemistry.

"Romo," who retired last year, estimated he spent more than $200,000 a year on supplements, doctors and therapists. Those substances included steroids, but only from 2001 to 2003. So his rage wasn't from 'roids, he says:

"I felt I could take myself to a place where other guys weren't willing to go because come Sunday after a game, I already started hating the next opponent. I started hating the guy I was going to go against," says Romanowski. "I hated the coaches. I hated their fans. I hated their family. You name it. And by the time I got onto that field come Sunday, watch out because there was rage."

Think a guy like this, whose teams won four Super Bowls, belongs in the hall of fame?

Is Romo: My Life on the Edge a book you want to read?

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

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