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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 Philly.com.



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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Tip on posting comments: After you click a comment link, select "other" or "anonymous" in the pop-up box. That way, you won't be asked for a password.





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

Saturday, November 05, 2005

News to Talk About ...
Owens Suspended! Is Season Doomed?
Terrell Owens has been suspended indefinitely by the Eagles. He was supposed to apologize in front of the team and the front office, but failed to do so. So he's out at least for Sunday night's game. See Inquirer report.

Personal opinion: Eagles are over-reacting to a little criticism. By doing so, they may have turned a tempest in a teapot into a season-ruining soap opera. Besides losing a star player for a key game, they've probably created new divisions among the players, who, like fans, have had to be wondering about management's handling of injuries, game plans and contracts.

Comment here. Vote in a new T.O. poll.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Afternoon Followup
Coach Reid won't comment; T.O. apologizes At his midday post-practice news conference, Andy Reid declined to discuss Terrell Owens' notorious remarks of last night, saying the matter would be handled "in-house." Then T.O. spoke, giving the following statement, according to the Eagles' Web site : "I've had an opportunity to talk with the Eagles organization and I have learned that the team does not recognize individual achievements. It has been brought to my attention that I have offended the organization and my teammates. Therefore, I would like to apologize for any derogatory comments toward them."

On his Friday afternoon radio show, T.O. kidded at first, asking to be called "Javier," because "I've been committed to the witness protection program today." He also said, "Of all the interviews that I've done, this is one that I regret." More.

In our T.O. poll, after about 1,000 votes, the top answer was: "I'd cut him" (30 percent). Other votes: "I don't care what he says as long as he catches TDs" (26). "I'd suspend him for his latest remarks" (20 percent). "Scold him and fine him, but don't bench him" (15). "I like his play and his outspokenness" (10). Vote, see latest results.

For the remarks that started it all, see item below.

SEPTA Strike: Day 5
When Will This Mess End?
Finally, a public official is stepping forward. Gov. Rendell spoke out to warn SEPTA and the union that the strike hurts any hopes of better public funding. He plans to speaks to both sides this weekend, and has suggested a compromise:

"I'm going to suggest very strongly that everyone copays for health care," Rendell said. "I think the union is right on that they shouldn't be required to copay for their health care [if] management isn't. I also believe it should be based on a percentage of salary." See story.

Meanwhile, more people are opting to bike to work. See "Pedal Push."

Sound off here.

Talk About It ...
T.O.'s New Remarks Go Too Far?

The one-man blurtfest has done it again. Last night, Eagles wideout Terrell Owens accused the front office of a "lack of class" and "a blatant lie." He agreed the Eagles would be 7-0 if Brett Favre was quarterback. But he still feels more fans love him than hate him.

The comments came in an interview with ESPN's Graham Bensinger. Here are some excerpts. Although the questions are paraphased, the answers are Terrell Owens' words.

If Favre was your QB, would the Eagles be undefeated?
"That's a good assessment. I'd agree with that. ... A number of commentators will say he's a warrior, he's played with injuries. I feel like him being knowledgeable about the quarterback position, I feel like we'd probably be in a better situation." Owens did also say, "If Donovan wasn't hurt our record would probably be better."

Did you expect the team to stop the San Diego game and honor your 100th touchdown?
"They claim to be first-class and the best organization. I just felt it was like an embarrassment. It just shows the lack of class that they had." After saying his publicist was told the team was unaware of the milestone, Owens added: "That was a blatant lie, because had it been somebody else they probably would have pumped fireworks around the stadium."

Should Eagles fans be concerned that you're putting your house up for sale?
"Maybe there is a reason ... It's my house and I can burn it down if I want to."

Do you expect to be back with the Eagles next year?
"I just want to be happy. If it's here then I would love to be here, if not you got to move on. ... If there's a situation where they have a change of heart and come to their senses and pay me what I'm worth, then I'd be more than happy to be here.

"At this time I'm being honest with myself just trying to look toward the future and I just don't see myself really being here. It's not because I don't want to be here but I just don't foresee them doing the necessary things to keep me here."

How do you feel about the fans in Philly?
"I love the Philly fans. I know I've lost some but there are a lot of fans that understand where I'm coming from and they enjoy what I do on the football field. ... I still feel that overall there are more people that love me than hate me."

For more comments about Donovan McNabb and what happened in the loss to Denver, see Inquirer story. See also "T.O. practices, McNabb sits," indicating the receiver is likely to play Sunday despite his earlier ankle complaints. (The picture shows him at practice yesterday. Not sure if he's stretching or doing a Mummers strut.)

OK, it's your turn to vent: Love him or hate him? Post your comments here. And vote in our poll.

That's Happening Here?
5 Stories Fast
Planet Hollywood proposes $380 million Penn's Landing casino. Besides 3,000 slot machines, the "high-energy" plan calls for movie memorabilia and a TV studio. More. ... How about a do-it-yourself HIV test? A Bethlehem company wants to sell one over the counter like a home pregnancy test. It would be a first for an infectious disease. More. ... "Police: Wrong-way driver shot after ramming officer's vehicle." Headline says a lot, but story elaborates on a report Early Word posted yesterday. ... Drexel's on the lookout for future bad doctors. Students are asked about lab partners. Only strong comments are shared. "Often students are stunned" by negative comments, "... and they immediately change that behavior," said an associate dean. More. ... The Supreme Court nominee went to Phillies Phantasy Camp in 1994. That's him, Samuel A. Alito, in the picture. Frank Fitzpatrick offers a funny and fictitious take on how such info might intrude on Senate hearings. (Example: "Judge Alito: Dallas sucks! Dallas sucks!") See "His Honor Joe Sixpack Presiding."

Who's Not Sick of N.J. Race?
If you were a multimillionaire, would you blow off a big chunk of your fortune running for governor of New Jersey? Or any state?

Especially, if all the money was going for catty ads everyone just tunes out? (He wants taxpayers to pay for polluted stem cells to have a right to life! Yeah, but he wants to cut property taxes for corrupt officials! Or something like that.)

Now, get this, as if the snippiness wasn't annoying enough, the ex-wife is getting into the fray. "He'll probably let New Jersey down, too," said Joanne Corzine, married to Democratic Sen. John Corzine for 33 years. (That's her in 2000, smiling at then-Gov. Jim McGreevey.) See stories: The ex-wife. The spending.

Had enough? Can't wait for Tuesday's election, so the ads are finally finished?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Talk About It ...
Dr. Phil Backs Chester High's Ex-Principal
"I'm a pretty good judge of horse flesh. I've been doing this for 30 years. If there's nobody that's willing to stand up for you, let me stand up with you right now," Phil McGraw said yesterday on his TV show to former Chester High principal Eboni Wilson.

In April, a 16-year-old female student accused Wilson of having consensual sex with her. Charges were filed, he was suspended, and the news was splashed everywhere. Although the student later said she lied, he's had trouble finding full-time work again.

Even in a country with a presumption of innocence, accusations linger as suspicions.

WCAU-TV's Dawn Timmeney, in the audience, explained she'd profiled Wilson and was impressed. So, after he was charged, she sought out the girl and not only got the first interview, but a confession the story wasn't true.

Wilson's wife, Eva, teared up as Dr. Phil made a pitch: "This man needs a job, and you need this man. So if you're in a school system, let me be his agent right now. Give this man a job."

Another way to help, McGraw said, was to buy a copy of Wilson's self-published escaping-poverty saga, Breaking the Cycle. More.

That's Happening Here?
4 Stories Fast
The son of ex-Philly comish John Timoney allegedly tried to make a big drug buy. Sean Timoney, 25, had about $450,000 in a gym bag when he tried to purchase about 400 pounds of marijuana from a federal agent, a court complaint said. More. ... Philadelphia’s budget surplus is nearly $70 million higher than anticipated, says a state report. Surplus?! Don't get excited. It's "the municipal-finance equivalent of spare change," the story reports. ... "CSI" star Gary Dourdan (left) is a Philly guy. The high school dropout talks about his childhood and graduating from "Thug No. 2" roles and playing Shazza Zulu on A Different World. See "Flash Dourban." ... Ousted from Wing Bowl? Tell the FCC! Arnie Chapman thought he qualified for WIP's last face-stuffing fest, but later found he'd been dropped. Oh, the harm! The heartache! More.

SEPTA Strike: Day 4
What Helps You Keep Your Cool?
An Inquirer editorial has a tongue-in-cheek helpful list. Its advice includes:

Don't watch Falling Down, a movie about a traffic-snarled nerd going berserk with baseball bats and rocket launchers.

Use the bathroom just before your leaving home or office.

Remember the brake is on the left. The gas pedal is on the right.

If you live near a hospital or television station heliport, see if the pilot will give you a lift. Those little cages at the end of the dangling cable are actually very comfy.

Maybe this will help: Think of a peaceful image, like this polar bear relaxing at the zoo.

What works to keep you calm in traffic?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Talk About It ...
Like the Phils' GM Choice?
Pat Gillick is expected to be named today at a noon news conference. He masterminded Toronto's two World Series titles, including the one in 1993 over Phillies. (What the Fregosi was Mitch Williams doing in that game?) This guy was even named top executive of the last 20 years by Baseball America. Read story. Also, see bloggers' takes at Blinq.

So what's not to like? Some fear at 68, he'll just be a temporary fix, to groom assistant Ruben Amaro Jr. for the job. A tipoff as to Gillick's clout could be whether manager Charlie Manuel will stay or go. What do you think?

Emailers Upset With Union, Too
Here's what else Early Word has heard over the past three days:

"It's time to privatize!!" Ken from Plano, TX

"Both sides are to blame! They extend the deadline six months ago and haven't made any headway since. ... Now I have to walk 4 miles to work everyday!" Robert

"Septa can stay on strike! I have a car and I rather pay for gas than pay for there 100% paid medical! Even when they come off strike, Septa just lost a long time rider!" Christine

"I think the union members should stay on strike until everything is completely settled." Don

Read more emails by clicking on "comments" below.

(Photo by Clem Murray: Commuters hoofing it Wednesday morning.)

Anybody on the Union's Side?
Overwhelmingly, the comments to Early Word have ripped the workers, especially their insistence on excellent health care coverage. Who's willing to come to their defense?

Health care's a hot issue for Pennsbury teachers and Wal-Mart workers, too, points out Andrew Cassell in his Inquirer column. "Is medicine making the U.S. economy sick?" he asks. He quotes an expert: Employees never did pay for health care. You did, in lower wages.

Post a message here. Or speak your mind by calling 215-854-2388 and later we'll let others hear.

Witness Any Acts of Kindness?
Someone give you a ride? Actually let you in during gridlock? In a time of temper and frustration, let's take a stab at hearing the heart-warming.

That's Happening Here?
5 Stories Fast
Operation Safe Streets didn't make the city safer, says a new study. Putting police officers on high-crime corners only made those corners safer, as "dealers simply moved a short distance away," Tom Ferrick writes in his column. ... Sharapova, Davenport quit Philly tournament. Tennis fans are disappointed to lose the two top seeds and gate attractions. More. ...
Hot language in Philadelphia schools? Mandarin. Now 1,700 students take it, up from 900 two years ago. That world-record pumpkin's seeds are valuable. That's partly why grower Larry Checkon crawled inside to get them, before it was carved into a jack-o-lantern Monday.
See story with link to many photos. See slide show. ... Angler of the year is Philly's Louis Cook. At least as far as the Carp Society is concerned. He bagged the biggie: 37 pounds. See Newsmakers.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Tony Auth / See full version

SEPTA Strike Day 2
Tell Your Tale of Woe

How horrible was your commute? Was today any better? How about the journey home yesterday? Share your story and strategies.

Write a memoir. Or narrate it for others to hear by calling 215-854-2388.

Both of Early Word's calls so far are anti-union. Click to listen: (1) "You're griping about 5 percent?" (2) "A greedy union."


Talk About It ...
Why Did 'In Her Shoes' Stumble?

Critic Carrie Rickey liked the film, based on a best-seller by Philly's Jennifer Weiner, but so far it's grossed a measly $29 million. Bad marketing? A sexual double standard? After all, Rickey points out, buddy flicks with guys do well. Why not films with mostly women? Read story.

Agree: Marketing was bad. A case of muddled identity. Trailers made Toni Collette look homely. And if you put classy shoes in ads, with that title, guys need more reasons to go.

It's true, there aren't many hit girl-buddy movies. But maybe that's because Hollywood girls just don't know how to have fun. How often do see female pals on-screen being carefree and stupid like the men in Sideways? (A tale, as Carrie has quipped, about "wine, women and schlong.") Thelma and Louise comes to mind. The title women rebelled and did as they pleased. Right off Suicide Cliff.

So maybe the happy exception (if you can get past the T-and-A aspect) is Charlie's Angels. It kicked and laughed its way to sequel land.

Now consider the flip side: How about a hit with two earnest men doing soul/soulmate-searching? Those films face resistence, too. Unless it's a spoof, like Analyze This.

So maybe the mainstream, movie-wise, is about misbehaving, not teamwork. Maybe that's why Bad Girls was a hit, The Little Princess a flop.

What do you think?

ps. For the record, twice I suggested seeing In Her Shoes, because it's a local film by a writer I know and like. But my wife was iffy, so we opted for better-0n-the-big-screen choices first.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Breaking News
Phila. Judge Is Supreme Court Nominee
President Bush has announced that Samuel A. Alito (left) is the new nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. Alito is a judge on the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Story.

Have you had dealings with him or seen him in action? What's your opinion? Post comments here. Call 215-854-2388. Or send an email to Early World.

SEPTA Strike Guide, Part 1
Tell SEPTA, Unions What You Think
Who's to blame? What will end this mess? Get your comments on the record. Post a message here. Speak your mind for others to hear by calling 215-854-2388. Or send an email to Early Word.

SEPTA Strike Guide, Part 2
Have a Commuter Tip? Witness a Problem?
Let others know. Post comments here. Leave your voice message at 215-854-2388 for others to hear. Or send an email to Early World.

SEPTA Strike Guide, Part 3
Request a Ride or Offer One Here
Feel free to use the comment feature below to ask for help or provide it. Be careful, of course, in checking people out. We can't vouch for anyone, or make any guarantees.

Picketers at Comly Depot in Northeast Philly

Strike Guide, Part 4
SEPTA Unions Walk "We are on strike at 12:01 a.m.," said Jeffrey Brooks, president of one of two local unions that broke off negotiations just before midnight. More.

SEPTA Services NOT Running
All City Transit, Frontier and Victory bus routes. Market-Frankford Line. Broad Street Line/Ridge Spur. Subway-Surface Lines 10, 11, 13, 34, 36 and trolley route 15. Route 100 Norristown High Speed Line. Routes 101 & 102 Media-Sharon Hill Trolleys.

SEPTA Services Still Running
Regional rail lines. Can be used to travel in and around the city.
LUCY, the Loop through University City shuttle.
Horsham Breeze (Route 310) has stops from Horsham to North Hills station.
Bus routes 204 (Paoli Station to Exton & Lionville) and 314 (W. Chester to Goshen Corporate Park).
Cornwells Heights Parking Shuttle
CCT Connect paratransit service for registered ADA and Shared Ride customers.

Other Transit Services Available in City
PATCO high-speed line from Jersey has Philly stops from 8th and Market to 17th and Locust.
NJ Transit buses 400-419 stop at 6th and Race and Broad & Cherry.
PHLASH buses connect 19 stops (tourist spots, hotels) in Center City. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
Eagles Chant Alternatives
Boy, did the Birds stink yesterday. Maybe turnabout is fair play. So let's hear it:
S-I-X-E-R-S!
F-L-Y-E-R-S!
Even P-H-I-L-S? Well, let's see the GM pick first.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

That's Happening Here?
4 Stories Fast
Today, the largest pumpkin ever will become a jack-o-lantern. A power saw create lots of buzz at an eye-popping event in N. Cambria, Pa. Weight: 1,469 pounds. Inquirer story. Where today's updates and photos will appear. ... Maze-mowing craze? More than a dozen outdoor labyrinths have been created around the region. They're like little hiking circles with "all the benefits of meditation, but you didn't have to sit still." More. ... Easy home test for HIV is in the pipeline. A Bethlehem company will meet with the FDA Thursday about selling a kit over the counter. Blood or saliva can be tested. More. ... Did Ben Franklin kickstart the myth of the Jersey Devil? Historians suspect he did, because he's the likely author of the original story, about a South Jersey witch trial that followed reports of seeing sheep dance and sing. More.


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