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What Is Early Word?
The Inquirer's "morning show" dishes news and views, as it tries to amuse. Participate by writing comments, calling in opinions, emailing answers, or voting in polls.

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."

Inquirer Bloggers
• Blinq Dan Rubin
• Changing Skyline Architecture critic Inga Saffron
• Cancer Chronicles
• Consumer Inq Columnist Jeff Gelles

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Better Nickname for Ed Rendell? 

The Guvinator. Now that's a cool nickname. But it's Ahnold's out in California. That's why seeing "Fast Eddie" at the Penn-Princeton game recently inspired some of us to suggest alternative aliases. Emailers responded with more ideas. The result: a goofy gubernatorial poll.

Which nickname fits Gov. Rendell best?
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Of course, to be fair, we'll have to give GOP foe Lynn Swann an equal dose of respect. How about a slogan for him? "Vote for me, even if I won't" (spotty Election Day participation) ... "I learned everything I know from Terry Bradshaw" (ex-Steelers QB) ... "I'm thinner, I'm a winner" ... whatever. Email Early Word. Then watch for another offbeat political poll.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Thar She Blows Bubbles?
A Japanese beluga whale has mastered a surprising trick. Using air a handler provides through a hose, the beluga can blow bubbles, even aim them at spectators. Try this link to the BBC video or look for a link at the lower right on the BBC science page.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Grossery Store
Kept thinking "What the ...?" on a recent visit to the Acme. Ice cream treats for pets? Yup, Dogsters and Frosty Paws for mutts, Cool Claws for cats. Square bagels? A bloated new offering from Thomas's promises lots of carbs and calories. "Dirty Rotten Teeth"? Just what every kid wants. Get your goofy-looking dentures in one of those coin-op novelty dispensers near an exit door. On a serious note: Amazing testimonal at Frosty Paws' Web site. Says ice-cream eating sessions with dog named Keymo helped a cancer patient survive.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Proposition Bets on '24'
Bettors make all sorts of oddball wagers on the Super Bowl, from length of the national anthem to who'll score the first TD. Wayne Gretzsky's wife even won $5,000 on the coin toss, the Newark Star-Ledger reported. So Early Word got to wondering: What would some good prop bets on one of its favorite shows, Fox's 24? Minutes before super-agent Jack Bauer tortures someone? Number of patients he'll lose this week playing doctor? Number of eye rolls by super-geek Chloe this episode over how exasperating Edgar is. Seconds it takes either of them to call up a schematic for an entire building? How many words comatose Tony will mumble before he passes back out? How many decisions will President Milquetoast try to get someone else to make? Where will we see more folks in tears: The next 24 terrorist attack -- or all the ads for American Idol? Show sure keeps us guessing. Except: We already know the number of times anyone will eat, drink, sleep, get stuck in L.A. traffic, or go to the bathroom: Zero.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Winter Games: That Explains It!
No, it doesn't. Johnny Weir didn't medal yesterday in men's figure skating. But don't blame the stress of taking WCAU-TV's Vai Sikahema shopping for a televised video bit. Even if Sikahema couldn't buy any style points from the crookest judge. See also slide show.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Comedians Go Cheney-Zany
Pictured: Daily News gives good headline.

Top 10 Cheney Excuses (From Letterman):
10. Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm.
9. Wanted to get the Iraq mess off the front page.
8. Not enough Jim Beam.
7. Trying to stop the spread of bird flu.
6. I love to shoot people.
5. Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter.
4. I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me.
3. Excuse? I hit him, didn't I?
2. Until Democrats approve medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly.
1. Made a bet with Gretzky's wife.

Jay Leno:
After he shot the guy, he said: "Anyone else want to call domestic wiretapping illegal? C'mon! C'mon!"
There was so much snow in Washington, D.C., Dick Cheney actually shot a fat guy thinking it was a polar bear.

When people found out he shot a lawyer, his popularity, now 92 percent!

Craig Ferguson (guy on after Letterman):
He is a lawyer, and he got shot in the face. But he's a lawyer. He can use his other face.

They didn't release the news for 18 hours. ... Finally, there's a secret that the vice president's office can keep.

Links: Blinq links to a video game. USA Today. CNN. Plain Dealer.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cover Story
Gee, this is a coincidence. You'd never think two such different magazines could have anything in common. Wait, here's another link: Each represents the cultural essence of a gender, maybe. Think of the answer yet?

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Winter Yo-Lympics
Don't give two hoots about the real Games, starting today in Turin? Then imagine if Philly had its own extravaganza. Click button for each event lised below to switch illustrations.

(This presentation was written by Peter Mucha, illustrated by William Neff, and first published in The Inquirer in 2002.)

Two-man teams -- like Joey Merlino and Angelo Lutz -- see their lives go downhill, thanks to a judicious shove from federal prosecutors. Teams have to enter a dangerous stretch called "The Slammer" and sometimes don't reappear for years.
Think those sequined shirts catch the wind New Year's Day? Put a Mummer on the slope, have him slip on dem golden slippers.
Rowdy fans once pelted St. Nick at Franklin Field. Turnabout is fair play.

Two snowflakes hit a cow in Amish country. The winner is the first TV meteorologist to interrupt all programming and provoke bread-snatching supermarket panic.
Motorists frantically swerve to avoid craters. "Pit stops" are perilous! Drivers who break off a "double axle" also have to perform "synchronized estimating," where they team with body shops to get the max from insurers.
A wide-bodied city goes mano-a-mano with narrow-guage seats. It's a test of will, patience and sheer compression.

Yo-Lympics Extra: A Not-So-Helpful Glossary
Yo-pening ceremonies. Run up "the Rocky steps" is followed by traditional lighting of the soft-pretzel-cart Sterno.
Buy-athlon. Rejected nickname for Boscov's proposed answer to Clover Days.
Toe Loop. Now what are they piercing?
Triple Low Loop. Maneuver followed by tow truck trying to find where in blazes you called from.
Curling. Jersey girls take on South Philly fillies in a big-hair showdown.
Compulsories. What those shivering smokers are doing outside their office buildings.
The Romanian Judge. TV's 27th new courtroom drama.
Luge. Pronounced "loozh." It's French for "loogie."

Send Early Word your own ideas.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Talk About a Captive Audience
Post-Wing Bowl, had to stop by the nerve center of the Wachovia Center, a popular hangout, if you will: the men's room. Besides a dire need for janitorial remediation, I noticed some ads with carefully targeted themes ... right over the urinals. Created by some promotional whiz, no doubt. Zippy messagery, don'cha think? Two other examples:

What'll they think of next? Actually, how about the Wizmark Interactive Urinal Communicator -- a plastic drain cover that talks?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Giving It to Gus
OK. I admit I have it in for Gus, Pennsylvania's "second most famous" groundhog. After ads for N.J.-guv wannabes, Gus' plugs for gambling gifts got my goat the most last year. So much so I fantasied about playing Whack-a-Mole with Gus. Now you can. Just click the 'Go' button. Oh, go on. (Complaints, kudos here.)

The Lighter Side

Cartoonists Also Take Aim at VP Cheney's Misfire
Click names below to see smart-alecky art.
Tony Auth, Philadelphia Inquirer

Steve Benson, Arizona Republic.

Sandy Huffaker, CagleCartoons.com.

Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star
Other links: Story. EditorialCartoonists.com.

Once a year for six years, The Inquirer's "Kid's Talk" column asked, "Heard any good jokes lately?" Now, we've collected the best answers, along with some great children's illustrations, just for Early Word.
Kids' Joke Book, Part 1.
Kids' Joke Book, Part 2.
Kids' Joke Book, Part 3.

More the Merrier
• Tony Auth cartoons
• Tanya Barrientos Unconventional Wisdom
• Spilled Inq Celebrity news

Short. But with a Philly twist. Know of a smart remark you'd like to share? Maybe you said it, or heard it, or just made it up. One sentence is best. Email it. Use a nickname or go nameless. See the list.


   •  September 2005
   •  October 2005
   •  November 2005
   •  December 2005
   •  January 2006
   •  February 2006
   •  March 2006

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