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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, January 06, 2006

Talk About It ...
Playoff preview: Eagles have a bye week
... and then another bye week ... then a bye month ... or two ... it's time for lullabies ... and alibis. ... maybe later, Birds will have a flurry of free-agent signings, and we can call that a buy week. ... Oh, Redskins play tomorrow, Giants Sunday ... Chances are neither goes to the Super Bowl. Why? Neither has a bye week.

By the way, Early Word has a few days off. So bye for now.

That's Happening Here?
Six Stories Quick

Alito passions flare in Philadelphia. Yesterday, petitions said to bear the names of over 1 million people opposed to the Supreme Court nominee were handed to representatives of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter at the federal building. On Sunday, a televised rally here will support the Philly-based federal court judge. ... Tomorrow at 6 on WXPN (88.5 FM), Jerry Blavat, the Energizer Bunny of pop, launches a new show, The Geator's Rock and Roll, Rhythm & Blues Express. He's 65 and a great-grandfather. Hear him talk about it. ...
Greenhouse crops bask in heat from used fryer oil at Green Meadow Farm in Lancaster County. "You have to think of yourself as a guerrilla farmer," says Glenn Brendle (above), who spent $12,000 rigging his 400,000-BTU system. ... Bluegrass album "The Art of Virtue" was inspired by a list of moral resolutions by Ben Franklin, who carried a scorecard for rating his progress. Singer Adrienne Young says she didn't realize his 300th birthday was nigh. Hear a clip. ... Cat gets named Miracle for riding 50 miles in a wheel well. The ride on the N.J. Turnpike took a bit of a toll, giving the feline sore feet. Lots of people hope to adopt the stray (below). ... Who you calling a moron? Philly resident Buzz Bissinger won a Pulitizer as an Inquirer staffer in 1987. He wrote Friday Night Lights, the exploration of Texas footballmania that became an acclaimed film. But Don Imus skewers everybody, so Bissinger got dissed, too, while riding a limo with the N.Y. shock jock for a Vanity Fair article that hits newsstands here next week.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Let's All Go 'Cruisazy'!
Rhymes with crazy. Describes that daffy coach-jumping routine sprung by love-struck Tom Cruise on Oprah and later imitated by the likes of Charlize Theron (left). This "word" is as good as any up for 2005's most-apt coinage, to be picked when the American Dialect Society meets tomorrow in New Mexico. Other candidates: truthiness, ego-casting, lifehack, sudoku, floodweiser, emo-anchor, snowclone, fobbit and blogola. Read Amy Rosenberg's story to find out what they mean, and why a much more familiar word -- refugee -- just might win.

Today's Hot Topics
Should Joe Pa go before his mind does?
Coach Paterno led Penn State to a great season at age 79. "But it would be best if he were no longer the head football coach," writes Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford. "... If Paterno is as smart and as sharp as he claims, he will realize that the time has come -- before he says something worse, before he grabs a referee and does a Woody Hayes on national television." That's a grim assessment. Sound to you like age-ism? Or just honest realism?

By the way, that Hayes reference goes back to 1978, but it still tops ESPN2's all-time list of "Coaches Gone Wild." Oh look, there's a current Philly basketball coach there (bet you can guess this one) ... a guy who managed the Phillies ... and two ex-Philly football coaches. (As well as chair-hurler Bobby Knight.)

See, it's not old age at all ... it's leaving Philly that make coaches go crazy.

Is now the time to buy stocks?
Led by a rally Tuesday, stocks are off to a good start this year, and "as January goes, so goes the year," writes finance columnist Jeff Brown. The Dow has been stalled between 10,000 and 11,000 for a couple of years, so maybe it's due for an upturn. The Fed seems to have neared the end of its interest-rate hikes, which helps corporate earnings. And we all know there can a bandwagon effect, as exuberance breeds exuberance. Planning a plunge? Cautious because trends can never be trusted? Or are you too mired in high credit-card and heating bills?

Where are Philly politicians in new D.C. scandal?
Spooked by accusations against a disgraced lobbyist, Capitol Hill lawmakers and even President Bush are donating massive sums of money to charity. Wouldn't want any of Jack Abramoff's "contributions" to seem like they might been bids for favors.

Among the sudden philanthropists: Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), and Ohio Rep. Bob Ney.

But did you notice the list lacks any local names? Makes you wonder. It can't be that our guys lacks guts or guile. Could it be that area reps don't carry enough clout to deserve "incentives"? Maybe, since the donor brigade is made up entirely of Republicans. Then again, maybe we just don't have any give-money-back types. After all, local state reps sure dragged their feet on returning any swill-gotten gains from that Harrisburg pay raise.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Talk About It ...
How Could the News Be So Wrong?

After midnight, the word got out. It crawled across screens during Penn State's overtime win in the Orange Bowl. People picking up their morning papers read it in headlines. Twelve miners were found alive! Heart-breakingly, the reports were wrong. A few hours later, the truth came out: Only one miner had survived.

Unlike other celebrated wrong headlines ("Dewey Defeats Truman") this wasn't a case of the news media jumping to conclusions. Here's a timeline of what happened, pulled together from various sources:

"At about 8 p.m. Tuesday, coal company officials announced that one miner's body had been found near the area where the explosion occurred." (Associated Press)

Before midnight: "Officials and rescue supervisors were gathered at a command post near the mine when the voice of a rescue worker crackled loudly over a speaker phone, saying they had found 12 miners and were checking their vital signs. Somehow, [coal company CEO Ben] Hatfield and everyone else in the room who heard the call believed they were being told the men were alive." (Los Angeles Times)

"Just before midnight, the roar of jubilant shouts from rescue crews near the mine entrance signaled that searchers proceeding cautiously 260 feet below ground had found all the remaining miners." (Los Angeles Times)

W. Va. Gov. Joe Manchin tried to confirm the information, and went to the command center coordinating the rescue effort. "When we got to the command center, they were ecstatic too," he told CNN. (N.Y. Times)

Shortly after midnight, a W. Va. official told reporters that the rescued miners would soon be taken to nearby hospitals. (NY Times)

"The news flashed out across the globe and into the late editions of east coast newspapers, where the encouraging headlines remained this morning because of the lateness of the second announcement." (Washington Post)

Within 20 to 30 minutes, officials knew a truer death toll, Gov. Machin told Today's Matt Lauer. See video titled "Victim's son quizzes governor" at

But no one informed the families for a couple of hours. Hatfield later said of the delay: "Let's put this in perspective. Who do I tell not to celebrate?" (AP)

About "three hours" after midnight, "Hatfield told the families that "there had been a lack of communication, that what we were told was wrong and that only one survived," said John Groves, whose brother Jerry Groves was one of the trapped miners. ... Chaos broke out in the church and a fight started. About a dozen state troopers and a SWAT team were positioned along the road near the church because police were concerned about violence. Witnesses said one man had to be wrestled to the ground when he lunged for mining officials. (AP)

At 2:50 a.m., an Associated Press news alert stated: "Family members report that 11 of the 12 coal miners who were initially thought to have survived an explosion in a coal mine have died. The sole survivor is hospitalized."

What were your reactions and thoughts?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Talk About It ...
David Lee Roth is no Howard Stern
The ex-Van Halen frontman debuted today on WYSP with little flash or fanfare. With no prepared material, he throatily rambled like a half-awake fill-in about school days, spurned a female caller's probing for details about his marriage, and had a lukewarm moment telling a caller to love his kid. Racy, he wasn't, except for a mention of sleeping with any woman who had two legs in her pants and even an amputee. Best early moment, a rant that none of his favorite music, movies or books were created in a "smoke-free environment. ... Occasionally, I do smoke. I smoked my whole body weight."

A bit later, still commenting about kids, he's doing NPR-essay-like schtick, analyzing how American media overprotects the young, but saying you can creatively express any idea without trooping out the F-word. Despite working in a few snappy lines ("Call me retro, I'm still a hetero" ... "It's a vagina, not a turnstile" ... something about "two lesbians and a toaster oven"), he's coming across like a man who's wishing he was on satellite radio ... or was younger ... or had Howard Stern's gifts.

Stern's raunchy rapid-fire attitude-fest was as compelling as a traffic accident, especially with a corral of eccentric sidekicks. (Roth has lackeys who laugh at every joke.) This was more a drive down the freeway with a mellowed man and some music. Your thoughts?

That's Happening Here?
Marlton's Movie Maker
Talk about chasing your dreams: South Jersey kid majors in film, goes to Hollywood and goes broke. Then he wins $1,100 on a game show and decides to risk it all, making a documentary about a lifelong dream: Trying to meet Drew Barrymore. Well, the movie part of Brian Herzlinger's dream came true, becoming My Date With Drew. As for the date part, well, you'll just have to view the video, which comes out today. Read Carrie Rickey's story and her review. Also, see movie trailer, interviews with Herzlinger.

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

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