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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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Friday, November 11, 2005

Breaking / Faking News: T.O. Gets Punk'd! 

After T.O. aids a "victim" ... "police" give T.O. grief.

"He's a hero!" a woman says after Terrell Owens helps groaning old people next to an overturned van. But glory turns to misery as a lawyer and other police start giving the Eagles wideout a hard time about moving victims. "Not a hero in this state!" says the lawyer. Worst of all, a guy asks for an autograph because his nephew is a "giant Donovan McNabb fan." But it's all a prank, staged for Ashton Kutcher's MTV Show Punk'd. It'll air Sunday at 10 p.m.

Updated 3-14-06: Check out an abbreviated news clip or the whole scam.

What do you think T.O. was thinking? Something like: "Man, I'm a lock for the Hall of Fame now!"?

Hot Topics
God'll getcha if you don't back intelligent design? Pat Robertson thinks He might. The televangelist warned the folks in Dover, Pa., who voted out the school board there: "If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God; you just rejected him from your city." Such statements, observers point out, actually contradict the old board's court argument, that the theory is science, not religion. More. What do you think?

Do more about the Bambi menace? Driving's become more dangerous in areas like Philly's suburbs due to the rising deer population. The state needs to act, an Inquirer editorial says.

Is Billy Wagner worth it?
Word is the Mets will offer big bucks in a four-year deal. Good! Money's better used for someone who pitches a lot more innings. Agree?

Who's at fault in Pennsbury teachers' strike? Each side blames the other. "We don't understand why they do not have meetings 24/7 until this is settled," a parent says. More. See also school district site and the union's site.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Talk About It ...
5 Hot Topics
1. $1.99 gas?! Curious, isn't it, how pump prices plummet just as oil barons get grilled on Capitol Hill? Picture's from a Cherry Hill station. See D.C. story.
2. Should high-paid managers shoulder more health-care costs? As the SEPTA strike made clear, workers can expect to pay more for coverage. What's fair? How hard-hit are you? More.
3. Is Santorum dodging the President? Bush visits Wilkes Barre tomorrow to talk about the war on terrorism. But Sen. Rick Santorum will be speaking in Philly. Think the candidate is shying away because of Bush's slipped popularity? More.
4. With T.O. gone, will people pick on McNabb? Stephen A. Smith's column wonders why no teammates "furiously" defended him from assorted Owens potshots. Some fans seem to think: You wanted T.O. gone? You better win now, baby.
5. What grabbed you most about that cheerleader lesbian-sex-in-the-bathroom story? The answer's different for men and women, Tanya Barrientos writes in "A Big Internet Hit." Last night, David Letterman said he was shocked the women got fired -- they should get their own halftime show. Then he delivered a Top Ten List: Questions on the Carolina Panthers Cheerleading Application.

Post your comments here.

Shocking! Local Goofball Behaves on QVC
Oh, teammate Dawna was worried: "I was very nervous about Jim on live television spewing out crude remarks about his balls, about being spanked." And: "Every three minutes something comes out of Jim's mouth that I cringe at." Bethenny likened the guys on her "freaking circus" team to "the two stooges."

But, alas, on Martha Stewart's Apprentice last night, Jim Bozzini of Gilbertsville, Pa., was actually well-behaved.

He came across like a Midwest dad as he pitched an air pump on QVC, the West Chester-based shopping network. (The "balls" were a basketball and a beach ball in need of inflation.) Viewers got to see inside QVC's warehouse where countless products line multi-story shelves.

Again, Jim's team lost -- no tour of Martha's Hampton house for him -- and he faced elimination. But Martha's ax came down on camera-shy Howie. If she snips the show's only live wire, NBC might as well pull the plug on the show.

That's Happening Here?
5 Stories Fast
Bryn Mawr woman, 92, supervised decoders with the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) during World War II. Mary Engman died Friday of complications from shingles. More. ...
The Flyers' Simone Gagne's $160,000-plus Aston Martin DB9 had starting woes, so traded it in for a silver Lambourghini Gallardo. Must be nice. Hope he has a clunker to park at the mall. More. .... $200 for customized sneakers? It's a trend. Lawrence Moore's Newport, Del., biz can put pop-culture in your step with the likes of movie and sports designs. See "Fly Feet." ... Is pet-sitting a good way to make a living? Carrie Maria and her husband, Lindsay, (pictured) of Queen Village say their business, called Monster Minders, beats an office job. "We're in this for good, because we love animals," she said. More. ... Being perky under pressure leaves call-center workers "emotionally exhausted," a Penn study says. "A lot of these workers are given mirrors, and they're told to smile while they're on the phone, because their voices will sound happier," said one of the authors. The stress leads to burnout. Untested: Whether highly paid and admired TV news personalities suffer similar effects from faking feelings. More.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Developing News
N.J. Jackpot Hits $262 Million;
Big Powerball Winners Collect
No one won last night's Mega Millions jackpot, so Friday's drawing will be worth $262 million. Five New Jerseyans were among the 26 second-place finishers, who had 5 numbers but not the Mega Ball. Usually that prize is $250,000. The winning numbers: 8, 16, 21, 25 and 27 , with a Mega Ball of 16. Tickets are sold in 12 states, including New Jersey, Maryland and New York.

Also yesterday, two Oregon couples claimed the second-biggest jackpot in U.S. history, a $340 million Powerball prize. Good thing Carolyn West didn't listen to her husband, Steve, who told her not to bother buying tickets, because they never win. She bought $40 worth, including the winner. Her parents are sharing the loot, taken as $110 million cash after taxes. When his mother-in-law called to say they'd won, Steve was still the doubter. "My husband is a big joker and my son-in-law thought he had somehow dummied up a ticket," said Frances Chaney, whose husband, Bob, already has the yellow Hummer he wanted.

Talk About It...
'My Name Is Terrell'
Yesterday's T.O. apology show reminded me of NBC's My Name Is Earl, about a man with a long list of people he's wronged. Alas, T.O.'s try to fix his karma was just as fictional as Earl's. (Eagles said, sorry, too little, too late.) Story with links to video.

Too bad the press conference wasn't more like The Apprentice with T.O. saying to hot dog agent Drew Rosenhaus: "You're fired!"

The best moment was when the rep-ruining rep was asked, "What have you done for him other than get him kicked off the team, at this point?" T.O. couldn't help smirking at that one.

And I can't help thinking of other TV shows related to all this Eagles melodrama.

General Hospital. Injured-riddled team is lead by much-MRI-ed Donovan McNabb.
The Biggest Loser. Coach Andy Reid gets trimmer by 40 pounds and one musclebound malcontent.
Numb3rs. Cap-wizard Joe Banner cuts pricey Corey Simon and T.O., but gives Brian Westbrook and David Akers more dough.
RosenHouse Tale of a man whose medicine helps put a career into a coma.
I Want to Be a Hilton Owner Jeffrey Lurie aspires to have a "gold standard" franchise with class and "multiple championships."
Extreme Makeover: Eagles Edition Remodeling galore that's not always necessary and not always pretty.
And, of course, Lost. Lost players. Lost games. Lost opportunities. Lost joy.

Stay tuned. A string of victories and maybe we'll have The Amazing Race.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Morning News
Weapons Scare in Manayunk
The police activity that closed off part of Ridge Avenue this morning involved the search of a house for weapons. Assault weapons, handguns and a grenade were among the items found.

But the worst fears proved false. The owner was apparently a military collector. A military shell, for example, was non-explosive.

Police are still inspecting the ordnance, however.

The discovery came about because of an argument between two neighbors last night. Police got a call of a man pulled a gun. After he was questioned and arrested, a warrant was obtained. The search, involving bomb-sniffing dogs, began at about 4 a.m.

Talk About It ...
Playing T.O.'s Advocate
Cudda-wudda-shudda is a loser's game. But that won't stop me from playing it.

I can't help but think that a team that obsessively controls information and money shouldn't have signed a guy who's compulsively outspoken and selfish.

If this team was more self-critical -- like being open about what happened at the end of the Super Bowl -- maybe T.O.'s potshots wouldn't have nicked so many nerves.

The coach isn't candid at press conferences. The quarterback's a master of meaningless cliches. And when T.O. demanded more money, what did the Eagles do?

Ignore him.

How was that smart management? Call the guy in. Let him vent. Maybe he'll feel respected. Maybe you'll find out something simple -- like shifting some chump change around, or honoring him with some bobbleheads -- would appease him.

If the junkyard dog barks at your door, you don't throw it a bone?

And when T.O. scored his 100th TD? Same approach: Ignore it on the field.

Funny, but Owens proved, intentionally or not, how "zip your lip" fuels tension when he refused to talk to McNabb during training camp.

Sorry, but the Buddy Ryan teams, with their loudmouth, critical ways, seemed more to live the competitive, aggressive spirit of football.

Over time, underreacting leads to overreacting. Maybe even underachievement. At least for this season.

Finally, is it just coincidence that the team's most publicized divorces -- Jeremiah Trotter, Corey Simon, now T.O. -- save the team lots of money?

What do you think? Are there two sides to this divorce? Or was T.O. too high-maintenance a bride? Is the organization partly to blame?

That's Happening Here?
6 Quick Stories
Woman in Clinton affair gets $90,000 in settlement with West Chester Friends. In 2003, Myra Belle "Sally" Miller was fired. Last year, she sued, alleging she was discriminated against when workers learned she was once mentioned along with Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky. More. ... Ballroom dancing for fifth graders? At a North Philly school, students were skeptical at first, but have gotten into the swing. More. ... History buffs may have found a Civil War submarine. Or at least a 35-foot cigar-shaped mound of sand the vessel might be buried under. It was kept along Rancocas Creek in Riverside. More. ... Tale told on film: How Camden had its own arrested Vietnam War protestors. A new documentary, Camden 28, tells how Father Doyle and friends opposed spending money on war instead of the poor. More. ... Doodle in class? Sure. If you're a student at a cartooning school in Dover, N.J. "I have worked on every character in comics you could think of," said founder Joe Kubert, 79. School also got a big contract to keep publishing a maintenance magazine for the Army. More. ... "This Way Up" goes updside-down. The Sunday column by Art Carey focused on an uncommonly fun personal trainer (pictured). "I don't do anything conventional," says Carol Greenberg, 44. More.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Talk About It ...
Owens Is Gone!
Coach Andy Reid (right) made it official at his 3 p.m. press conference. Terrell Owens has been given a four-game suspension, and after that is not invited back. More. Also see Blinq for what bloggers think.

How strongly do you feel about the move? Post your comments here.

Vote in two polls: Happy to see T.O. go? and How do you see the Eagles' chances?

This Morning's Big News
Happy Strike Is Settled?
Change Your Commuting Plans?
Already running again: Broad Street Subway, Frankford-Market El, Norristown High-Speed Line, and an increasing number of bus routes. Full service is expected to resume by afternoon rush hour. See story on settlement, announced by Gov. Rendell about 5:30 this morning.

Did you use SEPTA this morning? Plan to this afternoon? Have any helpful tips for others? Also, tell SEPTA, unions, officials how you feel now. Post comments here.

Developing Story
Reports: T.O. Will Go
That's the word, heard on various media outlets. For example, sportscaster Gary Papa says indications are growing Terrell Owens has played his last game for the Eagles, according to WPVI's Web site. He expects the team will tell him to simply go home, just as Tampa Bay did to another disruptive receiver, Keyshawn Johnson.

The Eagles are expected to make a decision today. That might be why coach Andy Reid's news conference has been postponed from noon to 3 p.m.

Any final action, though, might depend on Owens. It's possible Reid will give Owens the chance to return if he does what he failed to do before his suspension on Saturday: apologize in front of the team and individually to Donovan McNabb.

About not having T.O. for last night's game, McNabb said, "We might be better off."

NFL teams can suspend a player without play for up to four games. Owens and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, would be expected to grievance to challenge any loss of pay. More.

What do you say? Should T.O. stay or go?

Eagles Lose, 17-10
What Went Wrong?
1. Who deserves most blame for failure of possible game-tying drive: Reid, McNabb, offensive line? (It ended with an interception by Ryan Clark, left.)
2. Are these receivers talented enough for the Birds to succeed without Terrell Owens?
3. Why do the Eagles keep botching chances before halftime?
4. What's wrong with the running game?
5. Who would you put on a list of America's Least Wanted, besides T.O., ex-FEMA head Michael Brown and the avian flu virus?

Also, take a new poll: How do you see the Eagles chances?

Talk About It ...
3 Hot Local Topics
What's bugging you about soaring Shore real estate? My wife was right: She should have bought in West Wildwood in the late '90s. Since '98, prices there and in four other towns have tripled. Now who can afford to rent? Families have had to move out. School districts face enrollment and funding problems. The Shore's no longer a day at the beach, is it? Read major Inquirer report.
Is PennDOT's 202 parkway plan "second-rate"? At three recent meetings, taxpayers expressed concerns about funding, too few lanes, too many intersections and roundabouts. More.
Out of patience over Pennsbury teachers strike? The strike is at Day 11. (The state limit is 21 days.) Health care benefits are a key issue, just as they were in the SEPTA strike. More.

3 More Topics to Care About
Why has Osama Bin Laden been silent? Did he lose his messenger? Is he planning something? Is he dead? He hasn’t been heard from since two audio statements last December. More.
Are living wills dead? Are POLSTs better? Those initials stand for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment. Basically, a doctor, after talking with a patient and family, puts orders for care into a patient’s chart. Such as: No recussitation. The idea’s spreading from Oregon. More.
Are you upset that orangutans may vanish from the wild? They’re one of our closest and smartest primate relatives, but they may be not exist in nature in five years. More.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

EaglesUpdate ...
T.O. 'Smackdown'?
Westbrook Signs
Good news on the team-morale front: Brian Westbrook has signed a new five-year deal. More.

Earlier, word got out that Terrell Owens got into a fistfight Wednesday with defensive end-turned-Eagles rep Hugh Douglas. Douglas said on WIP no punches were landed. More.

But in this morning's Trenton Times, Mark Eckel quoted a source saying the donneybrook was "was like WWE Smackdown," with both men throwing at least two punches. Afterward, "Owens challenged quarterback Donovan McNabb first and then everyone else in the room saying, 'You want some. Anyone else want some.' "

If true, don't you wish the Eagles had let it be known? Maybe lockerroom altercations are always hushed up. But this information makes the suspension more justiable.

In our T.O. poll, with more than 3,500 votes cast, 71 percent of fans said "I'm strongly in favor" of the suspension. Vote here, see results.

By the way, CBS reports that Owens will be paid for tonight's game, because the Eagles' suspension was filed after Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline.

AP picture shows T.O. on the bench, where he won't be tonight.

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