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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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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Phinish the Phrase 2 

Snakes on a Plane might be a so-so movie, but it has one of the all-time grabbiest titles. Combines two things people are most afraid of, snakes and planes. So here's another challenge to your creativity:

The "Snakes on a Plane" sequel oughta be ...

hmm ... Mother-in-Laws on a Mattress? ... Ebola on an Elevator?

Post your ideas. Prize is Internet glory.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Phinish the Phrase ... 

New feature: How would you complete the following setup? Be as serious or funny as you like. (I'm half expecting he'll say: "Ha, ha, hoo, boy, I sure fooled you media bastards! Howard Stern rocks!") Post your thoughts as comments here. A winner will be announced at the end of the day. No cash prizes, I'm afraid. But Internet glory. Gobs of Internet glory. Without confessing to a single crime.

I predict this JonBenet suspect ...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Google Search Tips 

Found some helpful tips for using Google to search. Knew to use quotes to search for exact phrases ("Philadelphia Eagles"). But didn't know:

  • Use OR in all caps to search for either of two terms. ("Lincoln Financial Field" OR "The Linc.")Use a minus sign to exclude a term. (Ford -Gerald, if you're looking for a car.)
  • Use a plus sign to include a term Google would otherwise exclude. (+the king +of France.)
  • Repeat a word you want to appear multiple times. (Eagles McNabb McNabb McNabb, to bring up articles or sites about the QB, skip those roster lists.)
  • Use two periods to get Google to search a range. (scanners $50..100, to search a price range.)
  • Use a tilde to ask Google to try synonyms (~large olives.)
  • Use an asterisk as a wildcard in a quoted phrase. ("actress * Campbell" because you can't remember her first name.)
  • put "define" before a word if you'd like a definition.

From Google Hacks: Tips & Tools for Smarter Searching

Better Definition for a Planet? 

Sure, every orbiting rock or iceball deserves to be called a planet, as long as it's round. That's what some astronomers propose. But that means rocks and iceballs about 250 miles across -- less than an eighth the width of the moon -- would get planetary status, including the asteroid Ceres. That's contrary to our intuitive idea about planets as being worlds, places large enough to camp if not live, places big enough to have a moon. Maybe that's a better definition: A round world big enough to have a round moon. Pluto would qualify, but not Ceres or the lesser Kuiper Belt iceballs.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

And Another Wacky Thing ... 

Batman and Superman caught for drunk driving. No truth Batman also given ticket for not wearing his utility belt.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Weekly Wacky Web Scoreboard: The Animals Are Winning! 

Once upon a time there were three PETA workers. Their totally legal names were, and (Does PETA stand for People Eager for Tons of Attention?) Now, get-the-word-out mission accomplished, two of them have changed their names back. But not, who, you might have guessed, is off to L.A. to pursue a career in films. Yes, we should treat animals ethically. They're smarter than humans. Or soon will be. As the rest of these items prove:

Online dating is planned for orangutans. Now it begins: The real Planet of the Apes.

At right: A terrorist monkey cell in China proudly displays a bomb fashioned from household chemicals. Chillingly, it's disguised as an innocent-looking pink frozen treat. Unless that's what it actually is.

Jokers collect taco sauce packets for three years and then give them all back to Taco Bell! Boy, some be raised clever in Indiana!

When Tree Rats Attack: Squirrel knocks out power, also in the Taco Sauce Packet Hoarding State.

When Tree Rats Attack II: People-biting varmint terrorizes Florida town, and it doesn't have rabies.

Holy cow! Pet mini cows!

Chicken switches teams: Cockadoodle-switcheroo!

And as we all know, coming to a theater near you ...

Eagles Poll: You Agree 'This Is a Super Bowl Team'? 

McNabb says the Eagles can go 13-3 or 14-2. You on board with that?

Which statement about the Eagles seems truest to you?
Free polls from

Monday, August 14, 2006

Philly's Treasure Hunter Nears the Jackpot 

Live blog of last night's show in which Philly's "Genius" Francis Goldshmid almost finds the final treasure ...

Whoa, talk about excitement! Drive 137 miles from Philly to D.C. to look for a book at the Library of Congress! Does TV get any better than this? (Blinking type goes here: Sarcasm alert.)

Three teams of three are left in NBC's Treasure Hunt: Boston's Southie Boys. The Air Force. The Geniuses, including Philly's own Francis Goldshmid. (That's him at left, with glasses and sideburns, clowning around during an outtake posted online, with fellow Genius Sam.) One of these trios is supposed to win the World's Richest TV Show Prize Ever.

One team will find the treasure tonight! Narrator Dude intones.

Something tells me they won't get to open it tonight, though.

The Southie Boys get to the LOCation first, but are clueless how to find a book in a library. Geniuses arrive next, but the Air Force is first to find the right book, and find the artifact they need, and peruse the clues about some mystery of the flag, and figure out they have to find some Old Printing Press.

Next, the Geniuses luck out, stumbling on a book and what's hidden behind it. Then they, too, are checking out clues about flags. Narrator Dude rings 'em: You found the second and final artifact.

Sorry, Southie Boys, I think you're out!

The Air Force starts inking something, and they better be right, because whatever they're blackening could be ruined.

Air Force builds some assemblage of artifacts and follows instructions to operate the Old Printing Press, and, presto, as Narrator Dude calls to announce: "You've successfully printed a treasure map. ... Only a cryptex remains and in it, the final key."

The Geniuses are off to the Old Printing Press.

The Southie Boys sit and share their confusion, then finally figure out the catalog system and find the final clue. (Guess they weren't eliminated.)

Soon all three teams are off to Baltimore's Fort McHenry looking for the crucial cryptex, a cylinder with rotating wheels that when aligned unlock to reveal something inside.

The Geniuses are looking for a boat looking for a ship in the harbor with a mast and sails. Blond Genius Charles knows the Star-Spangled Banner story and how it was written by Francis Scott Key -- the final Key?!

"Is that a mast straight ahead of us, Captain?" "That is a mast," the captain says. Geniuses are on the ship, looking around like crazy.

Blond Genius: "There's a glass pane with an exact replica of the map that we have." Find a map: It says, "The key is not here. The answer is right in front of you."

A call gives them a clue to the next location. Some other key. The "Lazaretto." Except the Lazaretto is now gone.

"What is this right here?" asks a member of the Air Force team. Camera zooms: Well-lighted building says KEY on top.

Oh no, Philly guy! Air Force could be closing in on the final destination first!

Southie Boys, swearing every minute, just make it to harbor. Way behind.

Tubby Genius sees the big building with KEY at the top.

"Guys, this could be the moment that charges our lives!" says Philly Genius Francis.

Narrator Dude calls to tell them they're first! And what they need to do next.

Air Force is cruising right past the spot!

Geniuses are climbing and climbing these fire-escape like stairs, why I have no clue.

Southie Boys find the clue ship.

Geniuses have to find the entrance to a chamber. "Hey! Hey! Hey!" They find a hidden staircase and now they're going down. Into some kind of tunnel. They find a hole just large enough for a token they have. Do they drop the token in, and risk losing it?

Air Force gets to the Key Industries Building next.

Geniuses get the door open! They find the hidden chamber!

There's all kinds of writing on the walls, and hieroglyphics, too. All they have to do is figure out a five-letter word ... and ...

"TUNE IN NEXT WEEK AND FIND OUT WHICH TEAM WINS! ... LIVE FINALE ..." What?! Sigh. Just as I suspected. Big tease.

But Philly Genius is SOCLOSE!

Wait'll next week. So what else is new???

Is this show over tonight or not? Southie Boys arrive ... Air Force keeps looking ...

"We got to think. This is killing me," says Philly's Francis "Genius" Goldshmid.

"TO BE CONTINUED" comes on the screen.

Next week: Live show with a "lockdown." Teams all in the hidden chamber going head to head, whispering their hunches ...

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

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