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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, May 19, 2006

Kimmel and Cousin Sal Give Car Away in Philly 

Sure it was a publicity stunt for Jimmy Kimmel Live and Pontiac, but Philly got a taste of national TV last night. There's Jimmy's Cousin Sal at a curb in Philly, mike in hand, waiting for a bus. Watch what happens on the "Sal Dreamaker" video ... or just read on. First off the bus is Philly's Brett McGinley. Sal asks if he's 18. Yes. Valid driver's license? Yes. Next comes a question that Jimmy says is Sal's way of picking up guys: "Are you ticklish?" "Not on the nipples!" says Brett, doing The Cringe. Final hurdle: Unscramble the letters on this board we just happen to have. Jimmy and Sal loudly talk about the sandwich that just arrived for Sal, a CHEESESTEAK, as Brett shuffles letters. Jimmy asks Brett where his favorite CHEESESTEAK place is, and Brett says Geno's, then, aha, guess what the letters spell. Dude, you won a new Pontiac G6! "Bleep! No bleeping bleep! No BLEEPin' BULLeep!" says Brett in full Phillyese. Recently had his own wheels towed for illegal parking, he says, then hugs and kisses the lady in red delivering the car keys. Way to push your luck, kid!

Pictures courtesy ABC/Jimmy Kimmel Live

Terrell Owens' Moorestown Mansion Still a Free Agent 

Terrell Owen's N.J. home. Click buttons for more views.

Ex-Eagles Terrell Owens may be a Dallas Cowboy now, but he still has one tie to the Philadelphia area: His Moorestown mansion, still on the market since midseason. Houses don't sell like memorabilia, according to listing agent Erica Lacey of Blue Chip Realty. "When you get into the millions, especially where the interest rates are now, it is a longer process," she says, noting that T.O.'s purchase price was the highest for any Burlington or Camden County home in a decade. He paid $3.9 million (about half a year's pay for him) and is asking $4.199 million, lowered recently from $4.399 million. To Lacey, the best feature is the "phenomenal" cabana area, with hot tub, second kitchen and year-round outdoor grill. Others might gush over the kitchen, or the "absolutely beautiful" screening room, with fireplace and access to the outdoors. A house like this rates its own website,, which people can visit to view all the details and many more pictures like these.

Some Guys Just Can't Handle Rejection 

Letterman Wants You! And Your Little Dog, Too 

Tomorrow in Chalfont, Bucks County, Late Night With David Letterman isn't just looking for Stupid Pet Tricks, but Stupid Human Tricks, too. The creature feature has been part of the CBS show for 20 years, and both pets and people have to voluntarily put on a pretty eye-popping stunt, says talent coordinator Brian Teta. (No actual eye-popping, please.) It's not enough to just be double-jointed, that gift should be part of an act, like juggling behind your back while handcuffed. His favorite: The guy who could fit a cue ball in his mouth, then fire it out to perform pool-table trick shots.

Left: Nostril- and earlobe-clutching lizards: Stupid Human Trick? Stupid Pet Trick? Or just stupid? What if this shtick involved a pogo stick?

I say to him I think Pet Tricks should have an American Idol-like special. Judges ripping awful acts, followed by America voting for Pet Idol. Teta says it's possible even to have all singing pets. And he's seen plenty of pathetic routines, from the giant racoon and albino bunny that were refused to wrestle, or the woman who tried for a half-hour to hypnotize a rabbit. (How could she tell?) The largest animals to do tricks have been horses, like one that recently did the Hokey-Pokey (put its left hoof in, put its right hoof in).

Teta also manages the sports guests, so it was his job to arrange the gag where Terrell Owens seemed to get hit by a car last fall. "He was very great about that. He had a great sense of humor. He's been on twice now, and he's always a lot of fun," said Teta, who went to Muhlenberg near Allentown and got his chocolate lab in Philly, during last year's shoot at a pet store here.

Tomorrow's 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. auditions will be held at the Cutter's Mill Natural Pet Store in the New Britain Shopping Center on County Line Road. If you miss that, there's another tryout 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday in North Jersey, at the Bark Fest on Giralda Farms, Route 124 (Madison Avenue) in Madison. More details at

Or try to be on "Wife Swap"
Tonight and tomorrow morning, the ABC show will be holding contestant interviews in Atlantic City. That's a whole 'nother kind of stupid human tricks. At 6 to 10 tonight, producers will be at Resorts Atlantic City's Boardwalk Lobby. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, they'll be on the Boardwalk outside Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort. Families must consist of two parents and at least one child above the age of 5 at home. Call 1-800-509-5638 for details.

Something Get Lost in Translation? 

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Collingswood High Grad Wins 'Amazing Race'! 

So much for having a headstart. At the first airport, Collingswood High grad B.J. Averell and hippie pal Tyler MacNiven suddenly plummeted to first to third (and last) place in last night's Amazing Race finale. "Frat boys" Eric and Jeremy and dating Ray and Yolanda arrive in Tokyo more than an hour earlier. Tasks there included scanning giant video screens at the world's busiest intersection for a clue, then either toting a woman in a tent dangling from poles, or assembling and pedaling tiny bikes through crazy Tokyo traffic. When the love birds get lost, Shaggy and Scruffy claw into second place. Tyler, post-biking: "God, that was so much fun!" Then it's onto a hotel where people sleep in capsules! (Reminds me of the Seinfeld where Kramer charges tourists to sleep overnight in his oversized dresser drawers.) Next morning, when one frat guy points to "Mount Tokyo," the other says, "Dumb ass, it must be Mount Fuji." Onto to world-class amusement park Fujiku, where the bearded one catch up. "Those hippies and their damn language knowing!" says an F.B. During ride three straight thrill rides, Tyler whooing and screaming , of course, teams have to spot a man with a message. It names a lake, next destination. Hippies outpedal their duck-like boats to the big swan boat, and for arriving first, win T-Mobile Sidekicks. "The last leg. It's going to be deadly," vows the blond F.B. "It's on." Ray and Yolanda, arriving third, aren't eliminated, but have to surrender all their money and possessions, except for passports. Then it's on to Anchorage! "The way we approach our lives is with wide-eyed enthusiasm and joy," says the loquacious Tyler, like Penn to more Teller-like BJ, at least on this episode. At a hotel, the hippies ask the desk clerks to lie to anyone asking about Internet access. Scoundrels! So much for peace and love: This is for $1 million. Ruse kind of backfires, however, when the frat boys actually nab an early flight first leg of the flight. But all three teams are suddenly together in the Taipei airport, waiting for the same Anchorage flight. In Alaska, they're soon dilling holes in frozen Mirror Lake, and shoving a fishing shed in place over the holes. Tyler: "I'm just nothing but skin bones and attitude." Then it's onto a park where the hirsute brainics run around looking for snowshoes, which were propped up in plain sight all along. Tyler skips in his like a tall Pee-Wee Herman. Clue found. Says: On to Denver, where the journey began. Frat boys grouse: "We love being ahead and having everbody catch us at the airport." In Denver, it's a taxi race to a park, where a field is covering with 285 flags, one for each country in the world. Final challenge: Find the nine for each of the countries the contestants visited, and put them in order. The FBs arrive first, and already have several flags when the hipsters arrive. It's up to BJ to do this task. Yikes, the graphic on the screen says he has every flag except the first one wrong! The other guys have mistakes, too. But wait! It's not that BJ has the wrong flags. He'd just skipped Russia's. He finds it, shifts the others and, hello!, yes, that's it, and they sprint for the finish (that's B.J. on left in picture). Previously eliminated contestants cheer and scream. The host guy says, "Five continents, nine countries, more than 59,000 miles ... BJ and Tyler, you are the official winners of The Amazing Race! Congratulations. You guys have won the $1 million."

But the prize won't change the dudes, though they admit the race did. Tyler: "If it's this successful to be hippies, we might as well stay hippies." Then he crams in a speech, which includes: "Maybe we can really do what we really to do in this life. It's really unreal," saying he looked people everywhere in the eye "and tried to give them some of our adventure energy in return." The frat boys are good, if semi-depressed sports, moping about going back to waiting tables and explaining they're not frat boys, "We're college dropouts." Finally, Harvard grad BJ muscles out his own speech: "I think that on this race, being cerebral or being intelligent doesn't help as much being in the moment and being aware of what's happening around you, and it's just great to stay positive and just really enjoy each other's company, and our friendship is what got us through it." Tyler gets the last word, of course, with more talk about "enthusiasm and joy" and how "we take as much as we can and give back as much as we can." Actually was "Amazing." (For more, go to

'Amazing' Could Happen: Local Nears a Reality-TV Title 

After trekking the planet via Brazil, Europe, Oman, Australia and Thailand, B.J. Averell, the lucky Dharma bum who went to Collingswood High, seems poised to make local history tonight. Has any area person ever won a jumbo-jackpot reality-TV show? Doylestown's Justin Guarini finished second on American Idol in 2002, and Philly/South Jersey lass Stephenie LaGrossa was last fall's bridesmaid on Survivor: Guatemala. Worthy of mention is Gloucester City's Helene Eksterowicz, but does being the pick of The Bachelor, as she was in 2003, really count, especially since the TV-inspired engagement didn't last? Another second-tier titlist: Philadelphia University grad Jay McCarroll, who won Bravo's Project Runway last year.

Tonight, starting at 8, on CBS's Amazing Race, Averell and his hippie bud Tyler MacNiven are in the lead over two other couples for the $1 million top prize. The fun-loving adventurers, who've invigorated the show with their quips and tomfoolery, are some of the luckiest contestants ever, having finished last twice in the last four weeks, only to be kept alive by the news that the week was a non-elimination round. (Any ratings-conspiracy theorists out there?)

As a hot-headed blonde on another team said: "I hate the hippies. Those lucky bastards."

But every week, the duo demonstrates spirit (enthusiastically breaking beer bottles over each other's heads for one task) as well as language-savviness, befriending strangers like Adbul Habib, a Bedouin, in Oman (where one of the tasks was hoisting camels). B.J. explained to Habib, "Tyler and I are like American Bedouins," and they all hugged after Habib bought them a Snickers bar.

A low point was when Harvard grad Averell, trying to find a buried meal in a field of mounded sand ovens, seemed overcome by heat, lethargy and despair. "It's so hard to watch him just digging laying on the ground, just like dead," said MacNiven. "He's lost all his energy. This is rough. We could be here forever." Then Averell struck payfood: "I dug every single hole in this field! I finally got it!" MacNiven, at times excessively esteem-boosting, declared: "You're my hero! ... You did a really good job!"

Later that show they danced upon hearing that finishing last didn't mean they were gone, because it wasn't an elimination leg.

Last week in Thailand, they zoomed from worst to first by completing a hard-to-swallow "Fast Forward" task: Gobbling a couple of bowls of crickets (as pictured above, with Averell at left). Meanwhile other teams were burning up time covering buddhas with gold leaf or carting clay pots on planks. (Smashed pots dashed one couple's chances.)

Tonight, the competition comes from flirtatious Florida frat boys, Eric and Jeremy, who have finished first more often than not, and fellow Floridians Ray and Yolanda, who look like they'll keep dating, having worked through some differences during the show.

The show's far too unpredictable to be confident of a Collingswood winner. But B.J. and Tyler not only have a lead, they have another edge: One stop tonight is expected to be Japan, and MacNiven not only knows the language, he once walked all 2,000 miles from one end of the island nation to the other for love of a woman.

For more on Averell, including Harvard highjinks, see earlier report.

(Oh, by the way, Survivor winner Amber Brkich did hail from Beaver, Pa., but that's nearer to Pittsburgh.)

Larry Brown Could Be Available ... 

The Knicks are rumored to be on the verge of letting Larry Brown walk. With a cozy little nest egg of, oh, $40 million. Which brings up the question, would you have him back? None of his many successors have done as well as he did here. And he does emphasize defense, a skill sorely missed on this squad. Nevertheless, he may have left some relationships in so much disrepair (with Allen Iverson, the front office and the fans) it just couldn't work. Besides it seems like the time to start over, and Brown's never been known to develop young players. That's why I'd vote no. But what do you think?
Would you take Larry Brown back as Sixers coach?
Can't decide
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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dear Dr. Philadelphia 

In Philadelphia, it seems, many people have their special way of solving their problems. Their thinking seems to diverge quite a bit from that of, say, TV shrink Dr. Phil. So, in the interest of clarifying the Phil-osophy of Life here, here are some tips from Dr. Philadelphia.

What is the best way to handle a dispute?
Dr. Phil: Try to be fair. Listen. Talk it out. Ask a friend or loved for an objective opinion.
Dr. Philadelphia: Whip out your gun and blast away.

How much risk of physical injury should I accept at work?
Dr. Phil: You should avoid any unnecessary risk of injury. Plus, be sure your employer takes all expedient steps to reduce your risks.
Dr. Philadelphia: Hooray! You broke your face to make the catch, even though the padding had yet to be installed. And so what if you're black and blue?! If you were a hockey player, you wouldn't have missed a day of work!

How should I handle someone who tags me as insensitive?
Dr. Phil: Explain how your feelings are hurt, and you meant no harm. But listen very carefully, and consider the feelings of others. Maybe they have a valid point.
Dr. Philadelphia: Tell them "you don't care" who's offended by your remarks about T.O. committing "black-on-black crime," and then get the Eagles to edit what you said off their website.

I have contract, but I'd like to take a job in New York.
Dr. Phil: One's word is one's bond. You want people to trust you, don't you? Tell the truth. Ask them nicely. They might let you go.
Dr. Philadelphia: Leave, rip the organization the way out, sign with the Knicks, and then laugh all the way to bank when they want to buy you out for $40 million.

My wife tells me I shouldn't use the word morons.
Dr. Phil: Again, would you like to be called a moron? Probably not. So do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and choose your words wisely.
Dr. Philadelphia: Yo, use the term French street-namers instead.

Do you have a question for Dr. Philadelphia?
Shoot off an email.

The Great Bra Holdup 

Actually, it was a surreptitious affair, so "Shoplifting and Separation" is a better fit. Somebody purloined about $13,000 worth of undergarments from the Victoria's Secret in Coventry Mall (mostly bras from the Very Sexy collection, which ironically makes the chain's 10 Most Wanted list). Took two trips. Sounds like too much to just walk out the door under the smuggler's smock. (Know slip, Sherlock.) Apparently, any connection to's announcement of National Underwear Day is simply a coincidence. No, the light-fingered felony seems to be part of a Larger Lacy Larcency Conspiracy. Similar jobs have been pulled in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois and Washington state. After the Boston job, a perp was apprehended when some of the hot stuff turned up on eBay, where many Very Sexy items can still be found, including the Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Poker Chip Set. Very Sexy Poker Chip Set?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Was It Be Cruel to Animals Week? 

Gees. Maryland authorities found 57 dogs in a stinky house. Kansas sheriff defends shooting ostrich. (His office had bagged 10 emus before, but never an ostrich.) W. Va. want to get rid of a dam stinky dead cow. (Yes, d-a-m.) More than 60 dead cats found in a Conn. home. (Only 41 short of testing out that whole book.) And, yikes, the house with "98 guinea pigs, 84 cats, 27 dogs, 14 rabbits, 3 potbellied pigs and 1 bird."

You Gotta Believe in This Phillies Team? 

Can we finally banish the worries of doom and gloom? The Phillies sure seem to be for real right now, showing a great mix of power and good pitching. Before the team ascended to the'80s World Series title, players like Dave Cash and Pete Rose expounded the importance of positive thinking. Well, are you read to jump aboard, and start having a little faith? Take our poll, then add your thoughts by clicking "comments" below.
Now do you believe in this Phillies team?
Free polls from

Hurricane Forecast: East Coast Beware! 

The prediction's in for this year's hurricane season, which starts in a couple of weeks, and the word isn't good for the northern Atlantic Seaboard. In the most intensive months, from August into October, don't be surprised to see threats to the coast from North Carolina to New England. Even smaller storms can do major damage to the unprepared, heavily populated cities along the East Coast, experts say.

In Too Much of a Hurry to Stop Guzzling Gas 

Starting today, New Jersey, as a kind of a thank-you to drivers of hybrid cars, is letting them use HOV lanes up near New York City. Meanwhile, Texas wants to boost the speed limit on a couple of highways to 80 These contradictory-sounding moves have one thing in common: The government fiddles while gasoline burns. Brazil already has so many ethanol-burning flex cars, it needs no foreign oil. Why can't we take more drastic actions? Tax breaks for companies for every employee who works at home? A switch to a four-day work week? No highway or bridge tolls for cars that need no imported oil? Tax deductions for commuter bicycles? (A rush-hour race in town this afternoon, by the way, pits a bike against a car and mass transit. It's part of Bike Week.) But, one suspects, those are just meager starting points, not incentive enough to trigger significant change in a pampered affluent leadership-lacking society loathe to sacrifice short-term comfort and convenience for long-term gain. What do you think needs to be done?

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