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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

T.O. Central, Part 984 ...
Rant Here About the T.O. Decision
I have no clue yet what the ruling is. But I'm sure you'll have passionate opinions to share. Here's one to get you started: Please release him, Phil Sheridan wrote in his column today.
What's your own verdict?

OK, I couldn't resist adding an afternoon update: Eagles prevailed, T.O.'s through. What next? Should Eagles cut him? Vote in philly.com's poll.

Developing Story
Ex-Anchor Recovering From Mystery Malady
Last night on WPVI-TV (Ch. 6), Lisa Thomas Laury (right) told how's been winning the fight against a rare, potentially fatal disease that forced her to leave her anchor job there in May 2004.

"Because I got misdiagnosed so many times, this thing started to eat away at the nerves of my stomach, my voicebox. I had a paralyzed vocal cord, and that's the main reason I had to leave Channel Six," she told health reporter Anita Brikman.

Thomas Laury finally got the right diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota: syndrome named POEMS, an acronym formed from initials of major symptoms. See Mayo's list and more about the disease. Doctors extracted some of her bone marrow, froze it, gave her chemotherapy to destroy disease cells in her blood, then put the bone marrow back to restore production of healthy blood cells.

About three months later, she says, "I knew I was getting better -- my voice came back." She still depends on leg braces, though.

"I know the old Lisa is coming back. I tell people, I'm alive again! I feel like my old self, I'm beginning to look like my old self!" Thomas Laury said. "I'm feeling stronger and stronger and hoping to come back and join you guys."

Tonight at 11, Channel 6 features a Thomas Laury interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Read WPVI's full account, with a link to video of Brikman's report.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Calling All Sports Scene Investigators
Let's hope this is a premature burial, and the Eagles come back to life. But since that seems doubtful, let's step back and review the evidence, then issue a coroner's report: Did this season die an accidental death? Or are there guilty parties? Feel free to be a witness on any these exhibits we've tagged.
1. Lis Franc foot sprain. If not for this injury in the NFC championship game, clutch receiver Chad Lewis might have helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl. Then, what would this season even have mattered?

2. Dislocated end. Losing Derrick Burgess to free agency weakened the pass rush, part of the reason the defense declined.

3. Big mouth connected to swollen ego. If only Terrell Owens had shut his yap.

4. Hearing problems. Maybe the front office should have listened more to T.O.'s money complaints -- and less to his silly potshots.

5. Tight-fistedness. The team had salary cap room to maneuver but didn't, to improve such positions as defensive end, fullback, linebacker and backup quarterback.

6. Bullet wound. Ouch! Jerome McDougal got shot in the abdomen during a Miami carjacking. Turned out he'd miss the entire season.

7. Broken Pinky. As in Todd Pinkston, one of the league's leading deep threats last year. Actual injury: torn Achilles tendon. Lost for the season.

8. Torn-up torso. Bruised sternum. Sports hernia. Groin injury. Butterflies, too? McNabb was too healthy to bench, too injured to play at peak performance.

9. Missing limbs. As in legs. For running the ball. Not a bad idea when your quarterback's hurt, less mobile and less effective.

10. The system. No, not the circulatory or endocrine system. This system is the dream that talent and experience aren't vital, because players are like replaceable parts.

11. Broken watch. Evidence of poor time management. Two minutes left in the half or game? It would be nice to have three timeouts, plays that gain yards quickly, no turnovers and, finally, some points.

12. Intangibles. Only sounds like a name for foot bones. Here's where medical-sounding sports terms like "chemistry," "heart," "hunger," "guts" and "backbone" enter the discussion.

? Undiagnosed conditions. Have a symptom/syndrome not mentioned above? Mention it below.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Talk About It ...
Do Curses Excuse Eagles?
Or Are Curses Excuses?
Donovan McNabb's done for the season. So is Lito Sheppard, coach Andy Reid just announced at his noon news conference. More. Yikes. Is this team jinxed or what? You've heard the eerie trend: No Super Bowl loser in 10 years has won a playoff game the following year. The Eagles seem a sure bet to keep the streak going.
Which makes you wonder about two other curses: Donovan McNabb pictured on Madden NFL 06, and McNabb with T.O. on a September Sports Illustrated cover. (Story's ironic title: "Turmoil? What Turmoil?") After all, look at all the bad luck: Todd Pinkston and Correl Buckhalter lost. Jerome McDougal shot. McNabb and David Akers playing hobbled.
This give you hope for next year? Maybe this horrible year is just a fluke. Lumping all this bad luck and discontent into one season could be a good thing. Maybe lessons will be learned, bodies and minds healed, needed new talent acquired for 2006.
Or, do you say, sorry, curses are just excuses? Management let T.O. stew, let Corey Simon go, let McNabb and Akers play too much, let Derrick Burgess flee without getting a good replacement at defensive end, let the game plans go awry.

What do you think? Post comments here. Or vote in a poll about the team's playoff chances.

Hot Topics
Is virginity a treasure, stigma or rite of passage? While at Penn, professor Laura Carpenter interviewed 61 Philadelphia-area residents for a new book, Virginity Lost: An Intimate Portrait of First Sexual Experiences. The people who had the happiest experiences, she found, stayed away from the shame game, regarding the loss of virginity as a natural phase of life. The issue sure touches a lot of nerves, writes Faye Flam in today's "Carnal Knowledge" column. One reader: "IT MUST BE FUN BEING MORALLY BANKRUPT!!! Dear Flim, Maybe you should write an article for your preferred sex ed class titled 'Live and talk like a slut to get a job in the Media.' " Another reader had a polar opposite view: students should be required to read Phillip Roth as part of sex education. What do you think?

'Medium' 3-D: Got Your Glasses?
Oooh, scary. Use glasses found in TV Guide and visions on tonight's Medium (10 p.m. on NBC) will pop out of the screen and bite you. Or something like that. Sound cool? Lame? Gonna try it anyway?

Take arms against the Cable Monopoly Monster? It's true, the new group making the most noise for change may be a creation of a couple of phone companies trying to up their own market share. Still, that might be a good thing, Jeff Gelles suggests in Consumer Watch today, since greater competition might mean lower prices for cable TV and and better broadband Internet access. For a taste of the campaign, see mycablenightmare.com.

That's Happening Here?
5 Stories Fast
Philly's heroin trade has grown rapidly, with spillover throughout the region, police say. In Colombia, where the pipeline originates, guerrillas and paramilitary troops protect the drug trade with bombs, rifles and hand grenades. "Tell the Americans that this is what the drugs do," said a man with a shattered leg. More. ... Manayunk's Emily Kroshus (right) finishes her first marathon -- and wins. She made all the mistakes in last year's New York City Marathon. "Overtraining, not tapering, going out way too fast, not drinking any water, wearing new socks the day of the race that gave me blisters -- pretty much everything," she said, laughing. "It was no fun, but I learned." And how. She was the top female finisher in yesterday's Philadelphia Marathon. More. ... Three years after battling a brain tumor, Travis Schanck also completed the marathon. "Wow. That was six hours on my feet. That's crazy," said the 17-year-old. More. ... With back-to-back wins in dogdom's top show, Michelle Ostermiller of Bucks County has become one of the most sought-out handlers in the country. "That's never happened before with a female handler, somebody winning twice with different breeds," said a Westminster Dog Show spokesman. "If Michelle wins again, she'll be approaching icon status." More. ... How skiers can save: Hit Pa. slopes midweek, go for a package deal, share cost of a condo. See Travel story.

Ashley Yingling, 19, of Seven Valleys, Pa., dressed as Harry at a midnight show. (Kate Lattanzio / York Dispatch)

Online Info
Shedding Light on Harry Potter Mysteries
Anyone who's read all the books (including pop-culture geeks/fathers like me) had to be left wondering about all sorts of questions after the latest, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Off-hand, you might think you'd have to wait for the final book to find out.

Not necessarily. If you venture into Potter-related forums and references online, you'll find speculations so rich and logical, well, you might be sorry. Fans have found all sorts of compelling clues that author J.K. Rowling has clearly been sprinkling since the beginning. And while following this detective work is fun, there is an ultimate price: You could find out, more or less, a lot of what will ultimately occur.

Sure you want to know, for example, who might betray the evil Voldemort or how close Harry has been to horcruxes, those repositories of parcels of the Dark Lord's soul?

If you can't contain your curiosity, though, here are some of the best sites to explore:
The Leaky Cauldron and its forum area, The Leaky Lounge.
Mugglenet.com.
The Harry Potter Lexicon, which has files of facts about potions, places and people you can search.
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. A good place to start is the article R.A.B., which tells who best fits those mysterious initials and where a magical locket was mentioned before.

By the way, Wikipedia's R.A.B. item also says that tomorrow, Nov. 19, could bring proof of the identity of R.A.B., when the Dutch version of Half-Blood Prince is released. Because of how a certain name was translated, that person's initials would also have to change.


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