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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, March 24, 2006

Check That Government Overthower's ID! 

Mr. President, that guy's an impostor! And you let him in the White House last night? Word is he has sympathies for a famous band of revolutionaries! Orange alert! Orange alert! All kidding aside, the White House finally had a bash to celebrate Ben Franklin, who was born 300 years, two months and a week ago. The impersonator, Ralph Archbold, spoke about "having a horse that could shuck oysters," as well as working on the Declaration of Independence and enlisting French aid. Others attendees with Philadelphia ties included Penn president Amy Gutmann; the Franklin-founded American Philosophical Society's Richard Dunn, and Franklin Institute CEO Dennis Wint. The Rosenbach Museum even showed off the only known copy of the first issue of Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack.

Computers Project Phils to Win NL East 

Hey, programs don't lie. Then again, they don't exactly know what's truth. But according to posting on a Yankees fans' blog" by Stat Dork" (his picture's a hoot) , the Phillies are projected to win their division by THREE different programs. That's 3 for 3 -- a perfect batting average! The average of the results appears in the table at left. The chances of making the playoffs: 60 percent! The Diamond Mind program was run 1,000 times, and in its best-case scenario, Philly finished with 106 wins! Now, Stat Dork, did you have to add this comment: "Philly's probably too high, and the Braves are too low"? Never rain on a frustrated town's dreams of a parade.

Eskin: "We're Going to Make It a Painfest!" 

When WIP's Howard Eskin called for donations of canned goods and coats to donate to Terrell Owens, that was funny. After all, the wideout had whined that millions weren't enough to take care of his family. Even Eskin's mock funeral was done with lots of levity. (And it's fowl but no harm when the Eagles website posts a teaser for a "jerk chicken" recipe that seems to rib T.O.) But yesterday, an ugly edge emerged with Eskin's latest scheme: To encourage Eagles players to punish T.O. when he returns with Dallas. If the punisher gets fined, well, generous Howard says he'll help defray the costs. Just listen: "I just want him to feel the pain, the pain of what he inflicted on everybody in Philadelphia. ... I'm not encouraging a cheap shot, I'm encouraging pain. And if it so happens that that player gets fined, I want to make sure that we can help. ... I don't want him to see him hurt, I just want to see him squirm on the ground in pain. Squirm! Squirm! Like you made us squirm last year! Squirm! ... Players aren't going to try to hurt people. But they do want to make people feel pain. That's what they do in a football game. That's what d-backs do. That's what linebackers do. That's what those people do, and if for some reason the NFL determines that that hit wasn't a legal hit then what I'm trying to do is raise money to help that player pay for the fine." What's up with all the violent messages coming out of 'IP lately?

Pending Investigations 

Phillly Sports Calendar 

Villanova vs. Boston College, 7:10 p.m., NCCA tournament round 3, Minneapolis, CBS, WNTP (990-AM), ESPN (920-AM). Familiar foe is a comfort. Wildcats have more than speed.
Phillies vs. Pirates, 7:05 p.m., exhibition. Booker rocked. Polanco misses Phils.
Sixers host Magic, 7 p.m., Wachovia Center, CSN., WIP (610 AM). Willie Green re-signs.
Phantoms host Albany, 7:05 p.m., Wachovia Spectrum.

Looking ahead
Sunday: Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival. Flyers' website..
Continue reading here ...

Three Stooges Seltzer 

See that huge new hit American Inventor last night? The scalp-enhanced judge, Doug Hall, wrote a book I especially remember for a Three Stooges story. Jump Start Your Brain, an lively guide to enhancing creativity, tells how Hall pitched Pepsi with his idea for Stooges All-Natural Flavored Seltzer. You actually spray the drink into your mouth, the way those beloved boneheads of bygone days did in their films. The poll results were jaw-dropping: An A-plus rating! But only with men. With women? An F. When Hall suspected a gender gap in humor, his wife countered, "It means women are the one who have to clean it up." Pepsi passed in favor of an idea that scored A-plus with both sexes: Crystal Pepsi. Which proved a dud. Later, I read Coke helped Crystal Pepsi's pratfall by not even advertising a new clear Coke, acting like "So what? No big deal."

This Week's To Do List 

New on stage: Much Ado About Nothing, opens Fri. at Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival. Richard III, from Lantern Theater Co., previews Fri.-Tue., opens March 29, at St. Stephen's Theater.
New on film: Spike Less thriller The Inside Man, satire Thank You for Smoking, videogame horror flick Stay Alive, comedy Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, inspirational fact-based war fable Merry Christmas (Joyeux Noel), Spanish drama Duck Season. Movies page.

See Weekend section for more events.

New earlier this week
New on stage: Poet in New York, Pig Iron Theatre production, previews Wed., Thu., opens Fri., at Drexel. Wicked, touring version of Broadway musical, opens Wed. at Academy of Music.Tony-winning comedy Urinetown, previews Tue., opens Wed., till April 9, at Villanova. Be Lie Ve, from Green Light Theatrical Productions. Tue.-March 31, Playground at Adrienne Theatre. A Midsummer Night's Dream, previews Tue.-Thu., opens Fri, till April 9, at McCarter Theatre, Princeton.
New on video: Capote, Chicken Little, Derailed, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, In the Mix, The Squid and the Whale.
Continue reading here ...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Eagles Rumors Update: Keyshawn? 

As a Sixers broadcaster might say, "Are you kidding me?" The Eagles would like to replace one of the NFL's Top 10 egos, T.O., with another, Keyshawn Johnson? A guy who quarrels with coaches and quarterbacks and was once told to get lost by Tampa Bay? WIP,, ESPN and Comcast SportsNet have all barely mentioned, without any real substantiation, this alleged interest. even lists the Eagles as the second most likely place for K.J. to land. Last night, a caller started to say he saw Johnson on a flight into Philly, but Glen Macnow hung up, not wanting to encourage possible pranksters like the ones who phoned in similar claims about Green Bay receiver Javon Walker. If Keyshawn was on that plane, it was to get off quite a ways south, because he's visiting the Carolina Panthers today. Eagles spokesscribe Dave Spadaro's comment on the Eagles message boards: "I think that WIP reports on something new every day and almost none of it comes to fruition." Yes, Johnson is available, and he did have 71 catches and six TDs last year for the Cowboys. But he'll turn 33 this year, and apparently wants more than $3 million a year, the amount he reportedly rejected from the Giants. Wrong age, price and attitude. Don't hold your breath on this one.

As for offensive tackle, Eagles free agent Jon Runyan is still waiting for an offer from either the Eagles or the Jets. Spadaro speculates Runyan might sign somewhere in a few days. Baltimore has also been mentioned. Another aging option for the Birds o-line: Larry Allen, 34, who was cut Tuesday by the Cowboys.

Happened today: Ex-Eagle Mike McMahon has signed play backup QB for the Vikings, coached by Brad Childress, ex-Eagles offensive coordinator.

Bill Clinton's in Town Today 

The ex-Prez will take part in two Philadelphia events today. At 5:30 this afternoon, he'll be a panelist at a "Fit Nation" forum at Drexel University. With stops at campuses across the U.S., this CNN initiative promotes more healthful living. All the seats for the event, in Behrakis Grand Hall, have already been parceled out, mainly to faculty and students. At 7:30 at the National Constitution Center, the Katrina and tsunami relief leader will talk as part of the We the People Gala that's part of a four-day conference here. The National Service-Learning Conference, which began yesterday, continues through Saturday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

CBS3's Ukee Washington Chides Cousin Denzel 

The KYW morning anchor (above) mocked-complained this morning as he introduced an interview with his Oscar-winning megastar cousin, Denzel Washington. Ukee had a small part in Denzel's Manchurian Candidate remake, but no invite to be in Denzel's latest, Inside Man, a caper flick that opens tomorrow. "Was my performance that bad? I didn't get nothing. Not even a call!" kids Ukee. Denzel quickly turned the tables, joshing Ukee's so big time, no way to get past his "peeps." Couldn't even get Ukee to lend his poor Hollywood relation a couple of bucks. "I'll tell you what," said Denzel. "We'll do An American Gangster. ... in September. We'll be here. Me and Russell Crowe are doing it with Ridley Scott." (Does here mean Philly? No, sorry to say, the interview was in New York.) By the way, Inside Man, a Spike Lee joint, is pretty good, says a review. Penn's commencement speaker, Jodie Foster, also stars.

The Most Overrated Thing in Sports ... 

... is saying who's over- or under-rated. Allen Iverson made an ESPN guy's all-overrated team last week, because while A.I.'s "almost universally considered among the top five or so players in the league," gee, he's maybe only top ten. C'mon. Everyone knows Iverson's undersized, isn't a defensive force, has been knocked for not passing enough, and just got snubbed for the Olympic team. So who's buying that "top five" characterization? More like he's top five for taking abuse. Also on the list: the Sixers' Kyle Korver. Again, who's been raving?

Coyote Cornered in Central Park 

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Biggest Burger! Biggest Pizza! Both in Pa. 

You want three-foot fries with that? The Monstrous Belly Buster is no challenge for chickens at Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pa., out past State College toward Punxsutawney, Pa. This 15-pound burger's the world's biggest actually on a menu, according to reports. Snarf one down in five hours and not only is it free, but you get cash, a hall-of-fame posting, astronomical cholesterol levels, and a T-shirt. XXXL, we trust.

And yet that's not half as heavy a meal as The Big One (below) at Mama Lena's Pizza House in McKees Rocks, a Pittsburgh suburb. Made with 20 pounds of cheese and 15 pounds of dough, it fills almost every inch of the brick oven, coming out 3 feet by 4-1/2 feet. People have devised bigger pies as stunts, but this beats the size of the previous record holder for the largest one that's regularly served. Don't know if you can rent a rooftop carrier to lug this baby home.

2 Overnight Fires Claim 2 Lives 

A man died in an early morning Port Richmond fire that looks like a case of arson, an official said. The fire, reported at 2:17 a.m., happened in the 1900 block of East Willard St. Firefighters arrived within four minutes, finding heavy fire and smoke coming from the two-story, middle-of-the-row home, according to Battalion Chief Willie Williams. People were evacuated from adjacent dwellings, and the fire was under control by 3 a.m. But the body of a man was found on the second floor -- the 29th fire fatality in the city this year. The fire has been determined to be a case of arson, Williams said. The property had no working smoke detector.
In Camden, a man was found dead at a burning business. The fire at Paul's Auto Glass on 523 N. 27th Street was reported by a passerby just after 3 a.m., according to a fire official. The victim, in his late 60s or early 70s, was found in an upstairs bedroom. His identity was being withheld. The cause is under investigation.

Who Says WIP Lacks Principles? 

It's OK for a host to choke another host. (That's Angelo Cataldi and Howard Eskin trying to save the world's oxygen supply, on a billboard you can see heading north on I-95 a few miles past the Ben Franklin bridge.)

It's OK for a fill-in host to have had a locker-room smackdown with T.O. (Remember the Hugh Douglas dustup?)

But take a swing at a producer on St. Patty's Day? That might be why Mike Missanelli was shown the door. (See also item below about who his replacement might be.)

We're One of America's Top Cities 

Grand Idea from Doylestown? 

Please Don't Touch Any More Taxpayers' Money? 

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Who'll Be WIP's Next Midday Cohost? 

Sports-talk station WIP has cut Mike Missanelli loose. Official word is he violated policy. Unofficial: He got in a fight with a producer on St. Patrick's Day. He denies it.

Update: Anthony Gargano sounded sad as he issued a brief statement about his ex-cohost at the start of the midday show. “I will say this: Mikey Miss is a dear friend of mind, I care about him deeply, and he’ll be OK. And I wish people would respect that we can’t really talk about the situation. Mikey’s a good man.”

So who'll take Missanelli's place? Let's handicap the candidates:
Hugh Douglas (4-1): The likeable ex-Eagles defensive end (left) would add pro football experience and diversity to WIP's lineup. He's teaming with Gargano this week.
Steve Martarano (5-1): Missanelli's predecessor was popular and, a column note says, recently met with Gargano.
Rhea Hughes (6-1): She's beloved for her snappy, on-point give-and-take with morning monolith Angelo Cataldi, and recently started a Saturday gig. Management, though, might think she's most valuable staying in drive time.
Glen Macnow (6-1): Was a midday guy with Gargano, highly respected by callers. Knows movies, burgers, ribs, hockey, football suicide pools.
John Marzano (10-1): Ex-major leaguer does post-Phillies analysis for Comcast, has impressed during WIP guest stints, and when did being Italian hurt at WIP?
John Smallwood (10-1): Accomplished Daily News columnist who has often shared a mike on on WIP. Given fears about his paper's future, he'd have to listen to an offer. Would also help WIP's diversity.
More 'IP guys (15-1): Cataldi sidekick Al Morganti (morning fixture), Big Daddy Graham (comic bent best fits lighter-hearted overnight and morning gigs?), ex-Flyer Keith Jones (more all-punchlines than all-sports?), ex-Eagle Garry Cobb (not on 'IP often), evening fill-in Brian Startare (still working his way up the food chain?).
Howard Eskin (20-1): Fans might beg for a less polarizing personality during afternoon drive, but ratings don't call for revamping the lineup.
Jodie McDonald (25-1): Left midday 'IP for New York, has deal with rival WPEN.
More newspaper guys (25-1): Inquirer's Don McKee, Bucks County Courier-Times' Ruben Frank, Trenton Times' Mark Eckel, Daily News' Mike Kern (sounds too much like Gargano) all add insights to WIP's lineup. With his own ESPN show, Inquirer columnist Stephen A. Smith has gotten too big for 'IP.
Why nots (100-1): Ex-Temple coach John Chaney sure can talk, but hasn't shown affection for sports-talk. Phil Martelli has a job as St. Joe's coach.

Post comments below. Or vote in our poll.

Who would be best on WIP's midday show?
Free polls from

'Eagles In Position To Be Vastly Improved'? 

Notice the careful phrasing of this headline, quoted from a Dave Spadaro piece on the Eagles website. Doesn't say the Eagles are "vastly improved," just in position to be. (As in if everyone gets healthy, if young players progress, if the team has a great draft, and if the coaching staff has learned from last year's mistakes.) Spadaro sums up his message this way: "I hear all the criticism out there, and, honestly, I don't think it's fair. Judge the Eagles as the season begins, not midway through March." I'd counter by saying that, for March, the team he says is "in position to have a great, great roster" sure has a "great, great" number of ifs.

Watch Me Turn Into a Fur Pancake! 

Speaking of Pancakes ... 

Monday, March 20, 2006

Love Is Strange, Part 1 

"Who Needs Love?" The sign stopped me in my tracks. Professionally printed. Had that "corporate" look. But there it was, perched above a display of paperbacks, bearing such titles as Love Will Tear Us Apart, Ex & the Single Girl, Diary of a Married Call Girl, It's Never Too Late to Be a Bridesmaid, Happiness Sold Separately, Cheating at Solitaire and Heathen Girls. Double take. Sure I've heard some "woe is me, all the good men are dead or married, and they're not so hot either" talk on Dr. Phil or in movies. But never thought of "Who Needs Love?" as a corporately-identified genre. Till now.

Love Is Strange, Part 2 

No Right to Peaceably Assemble a Pyramid While Wearing Thongs? 

Did you hear about this cheeky bunch of protestors? I hadn't until hearing on TV today about a largely overlooked legal decision this month in Philadelphia. Seems back in July 2004, the "Smoketown Six" decided to send some sort of message to President Bush as his motorcade passed through Lancaster County. How? By re-enacting an image of a pile of prisoners from Iraq's now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison. (A dectractor might say they made asses of themselves, as the primly cropped picture at left suggests. But they clearly had their supporters, who cheered as this crack team's stunt was captured on camera and video.) The protestors were quickly arrested, held for two hours -- until after Bush was past -- and charged with disorderly conduct. That December, the ACLU filed suit, charging that federal agents, East Lampeter police and state troopers violated the men's constitutional rights. "At no point did the men treat the demonstration as a joke or disruptive event," said the ACLU's report. But earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Paul S. Diamond ruled against the protestors, citing lewdness, flimsily covered genitalia, and nearby children, according to "Seven Thongs Don't Make a Right" at (Gotta be careful how you bare your grievances.) An appeal is expected.

Monday Morning Updates 

It's the first day of spring. Because of the Earth's tilt, at this point in its orbit, this afternoon the sun will start spending six month over the Northern Hemisphere.
State testing starts today in Philadelphia schools.
Old Liberty Bell pavillion starts to come down today.

Terrell Owens Is Full of Rap 

Now "the football reptile from hell" is a Cowboy ... and a bad rapper. Give a listen at his now silver-and-blue website, and you'll find he's "back with a vengeance." For a far-ranging discussion, see Daniel Rubin's Blinq blog. But Early Word has the lyrics (below) and a couple of followups.

First, astute fan/music critic Dan DeLuca raised a good point: "Impressed at how quickly he got this thing recorded. How'd he know he was going to get 10 mil?" Yes, is it evidence of tampering? Dallas was not allowed to talk with Owens before his release Tuesday, yet by Thursday word had leaked via a Dallas radio station that Owens had already agreed to a deal with Big D. During the season, the Eagles filed, then dropped, tampering charges against Dallas owner Jerry Jones for commenting he wished he had a receiver like T.O. Don't be surprised if the Eagles don't revive those allegations. Could the timing of the rap's recording be evidence? After all, Dallas might have saved millions by trading for T.O. under his Eagles deal. So why no trade? Big factor, of course: T.O.'s agent Drew Rosenhaus wouldn't get a dime without a new deal. Another possibility: The Eagles wanted a third-round pick, says CBS.

Second, wasn't almost everybody wrong that T.O. would never recoup his money?

Third, here's a poll, asking your take on the whole T.O. episode:
Looking back, what's your view of the Owens-Eagles fiasco?
Free polls from

The Lyrics
(well, as close as Early Word can make out)

I'm gonna make it hard for you dudes tryin' to stop my show,
Look, it's hard for you dudes tryin' to stop my bro,
Ask Philly was it hard trying to stop T.O.
He's the main reason that the fans would come fo'

When he took their hit and he bounced right back
Got a brand new deal and the pockets is fat,
Like Boost Mobil, baby, asking, "Where you at?"
Now you could tell 'em in Dallas with your cowboy hat

Go Big Blue, gonna do what you do
Go on and see if the crazy fans don't love you
Like Ray Charles, you gonna make you do what you do
Still best in the game and they know it was is true

Will take the team to the top, where it used to be.
I don't see another choke in Big D
You gonna set a few records, be back in the Pro Bowl,
One week after, win in the Super Bowl.


I'm baack and I'm better than ever
I'm back and I'm gettin this cheddar
I'm baack, this time I'm a cowboy
I'm back and I got em sayin, "Wow boy!"

(repeat refrain)

Owens himself sings:

I am back with a vengeance, I'm back on a mission
got the recipe broth', so I'm back in the kitchen
Tryin' to take me out of the game, People say, "intermission"
Got the whole world's undivided attention

It's a brand new year, got a brand new team
I'm a Cowboy now, no more black and green
and to the haters who said I wouldn't get my money
I'm laughin' in your face, ha ha that's funny

When it comes to this game, I'm the best on the field
Some said I's gonna sign just a one-year deal
But I got what I wanted, upfront 10 mil
Change the rules of the game, so now how you feel?

See when I work my magic, when I get that rock,
I dominate like Shaq when he's down on the block
and it's a promise be my best season by far,
gonna get my Eagle (ego?) on and meet me at the star.

(repeat refrain twice more)

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

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