Monday, March 31, 2008

Usher from Sec. 826: 'Opening Day always means I got 80 more of these *&^%$*& things to go.'

Citizens Bank Park usher Don Fezzer,93, of Section 826, has been showing people to their seats in Philadelphia since Louisiana was a territory. "I hate it. I hate coming to the park. I hate the traffic. I gotta stand the entire nine innings and listen to drunkards. Opening Day always means I got 80 more of these ******* things."

Fezzer hails from the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia where he has lived all of his life. His wife Gail,91, of seventy years, often comes to the games and knits one of their eight great-grand children a sweater vest. "I like to come and just sit and knit," said Gail Fezzer.

Don no longer makes the trek up the steps to show people which row is theirs. "I just point up the steps and then they just sort of go up the steps and look at the numbers. I always see them looking down at the ground and I forget they are reading the row numbers."

Fezzer was never a baseball fan and in fact loathed the sport. "I hate baseball. All kinds of fans will try to talk baseball with me and ask what are my greatest memories and I tell them when the final out comes with each game is the best time. They say, 'where were you when this happened and where were you when that happened' and I say, 'unfortunately, I was watching.'"

When the Phillies played in the stadium known as the Baker Bowl in North Philadelphia, Fezzer was there. When they moved several blocks into Connie Mack Stadium, Fezzer was there. And when they moved south into Veterans Stadium, Fezzer was there. "I've seen a lot of baseball, but I can honestly say that I have no idea what a double-play is."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mt Saint Mary's, UT-Arlington, Portland St, Miss Valley St not in Final Four

The four 16th ranked teams-Mt Saint Mary's, UT-Arlington, Portland St, Miss Valley St- in the NCAA Men's basketball tournament did not make the Final Four in San Antonio, TX this year. This would have been the first year that the lowest ranked teams in all four regions would have advanced to the final weekend of the tournament had they won four games. Instead the four teams combined to win zero games.

"I took a chance on one of my 28 on-line brackets and picked Portland State beating Mississippi Valley State in the finals," said Dave Rogers, a college basketball fan.

"It really would have been remarkable had the 4 mega-underdogs been able to make the trip to Texas. I guess you can say they were Texas-sized underdogs," said NCAA vice president of athletic competition.

Marisa Tomei visits Frida Gallo exhibit?

Actress Marisa Tomei, in Philadelphia over the weekend for a fundraiser, visited the Art Museum's Frida Kahlo exhibit on Saturday afternoon. Tomei admits, however, that she thought she was visiting the Frida Gallo exhibit.

"Since I was a little girl I always thought it was Gallo," said a very surprised Tomei.

Art historian, Frank Lidden, believes that Frida's last name was originally Gallo, but later changed it to Kahlo to prevent a Mexican judge from discovering her identity.

"Looking at documents it appears she was originally Gallo, but I can't prove anything," said Lidden.

Lidden went on to say that Kahlo may have also used the name Kallo before finally settling on Kahlo. "She may have used several names that sounded very similar. I also am a big fan of Marisa's."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bridge man demanded secret Whitman poems be published

For hours yesterday Johnny L Reed kept New Jersey and Pennsylvania Police in a standoff on the Walt Whitman Bridge creating traffic chaos throughout the region. Reed drove to the middle of the bridge and stopped his white SUV where he then exited the vehicle holding a baseball bat.

Lt. Jim Scott of the New Jersey State Police was overseeing the situation on the bridge. "I was at Arby's when I got the call." Scott says that he frequents the restaurant at least twice during the week and twice during the weekend. "He was demanding that the lost or secret poems of Walt Whitman be made public to... the public," said Scott.

Reed is a Whitman super-fan and historian and recently discovered that up to 40 poems of the great poet were never published. When Kyle Whitman, relative and poet, refused Reed access to the "secret poems" he drove to the bridge.

"He was yelling poetry at the vehicles that passed by him on the bridge. He was holding a bat and took swings at a few passing cars. He also tried to bunt a motorcycle," said Scott.

Whitman died in 1892 at age 72 in Camden, NJ. The bridge was named for Whitman because of his 1879 poem titled "Bridge Over Delaware." The poem describes a grand suspension bridge that will "bring keystones to gardens and gardens to keystones."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sixers will hold a night to honor Webber

The Philadelphia 76ers have announced that they will be conducting a promotion involving Webber Grills either at an upcoming game or early next season. The team expressed interest in a "first 500 fans" type of night. The give-away would likely be coupons toward a Webber Grill or perhaps a chance to win a grill at halftime. "We're excited. We think it'll be a great night to honor one of the best grills in the business. You can always count on this Webber. This Webber comes to cook every night. It's a dependable product," said Sixers marketing director, David Mulley.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thousands of grandmothers being used by Frito-Lay to make Grandma's brand cookies

You've seen them on the shelves at the end of aisles in 7-11's, Circle K's, Wawa's or maybe at a gas station. Maybe you've passed them thinking that they were just like any other mass-produced cookie. Maybe you were one of the few who knew the secret and kept it to yourself. Well, now the secret is out.

Frito-Lay is employing thousands of grandmothers in their Plano, TX factory to make their Grandma's Homestyle Cookies brand. For years the giant snack food company has placed the image of a sweet grandmother on the wrapper of the cookies to give customers that homemade feeling. The company wanted to demonstrate that the cookies are from a comfortable place- your grandmother's kitchen. Well, they are.

"I love the cookies but I always thought they were machine-produced somewhere in Guam or something," said cookie enthusiast Kyle McGeckrin.

The cookies are not made in Guam, but in Texas at a high tech factory where each cookie is handmade by one of the 7556 grandmother bakers. "It takes the right amount of polydextrose and crystalline fructose and the perfect combination of ammonium bicarbonate with a pinch of partially hydrgenated soybean oil to make the perfect cookie," said Ethel Gummerson, 87, a cookie maker with Frito-Lay since 2005. It was not always this way.

About five years ago,, a year after the Grandma's Homestyle Cookie line debuted, Frito-Lay launched a massive grandma recruiting campaign. The campaign urged grandma's from around the country to move to Plano to "become expert bakers." Ads in many national papers read, "Do you like making cookies? Are you a grandma? Do you like warm weather? Do you like to get paid? Then come join Frito-Lay in Texas."

For the first year of the brands existence the cookies were made in Plano by robot-controlled machines. "We still called them Grandma's Cookies, but there wasn't a grandma within 10 miles of the factory," said Frito-Lay packaging director, Flint Tyler.

Company officials estimate that around 95% of the grandmas come to Frito-Lay at their own will, while the rest are dropped off by family members in the middle of the night. Both willing and unwilling are compensated generously by Frito-Lay. Gummerson would not be specific but said she made around $40,000, but sometimes had to work 75 hour weeks.

Company officials insist that the grandmothers are very well taken care of and are actually housed on the factory premises. "Many of the Grandma's are in wheel chairs which is why the factory floor was built on a 15 degree angle toward the housing compound. The dorms are at the bottom of the slope so when the grandmas are tired they can coast home," said Tyler.

So the next time you purchase a Grandma's brand cookie from Frito-Lay remember that a grandmother in a window-less factory in Plano put her heart and soul into it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Prankster:'Yes, I locked only a wheel to the bike rack so people would think the bike was stolen.'

Donald Kriener, of Philadelphia's Fishtown section, admitted to locking only a front tire from an old bike to a 30th Street Station bike rack giving the impression to a passerby that the bike was stolen. Kriener said the tire came from a late 1980's Panasonic 10-speed and that the frame and back tire are resting safely at his home on Corpral St. "I thought it would be funny to make people think that someone made off with the bike. Sometimes I would sit next to the tire and sob and cry out, 'why me, why me.'"

Most travelers entering the station did not find the prank funny and actually felt a heightened sense of concern. "I passed the tire last week and couldn't help but feel so bad for the owner. I was thinking about it all day. I actually left work early later that day," said Amy Korrigan, a resident of Bryn Mawr, Pa. She admitted later that she had to leave work early because of a doctors appointment.

"I haven't ridden a bike in over 20 years so I have to say that I didn't even notice the tire," said commuter, Dale Glamtin.

Another Septa commuter had a different take on the tire. "I really thought that it was a uni-cycle and that the rider had taken the seat with them. I was even a bit excited that there may be a small circus going on inside the station as I was walking to catch my train," said Gilbert Vincent, of Coil Springs, PA.

Security at 30th St. Station reported that over 100 passengers had inquired about the lone tire on the Schuylkill River side of the region's largest the rail hub. "Believe it or not one guy actually suggested that someone may have locked only the tire to get a reaction from people. I told the guy he was nuts. Boy, am I really embarrassed right now," said Higgins McGee, head of Septa security.

Kriener hinted that he may be responsible for other lone tires around the city and that he was currently cooperating with police to correct the pranks and put the public at ease.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Martelli disappointed by loss, happy with season

Drake gets upset, eases pain with coffee cake

Drake University, located in Des Moines, IA, was ousted today from the NCAA men's basketball tournament after being ranked 14th in the nation by both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Polls. The school was hoping for a strong showing in the tournament after having one of the most successful seasons in school history.

The University was able to soften the blow of the loss by giving the players all the Drake's Coffee Cake they could eat. "That's what we're known for," said ulumnus, Kathy Stuggert. "We've been giving the country great coffee cake and other treats for years.

It has also been a policy of the school not to give the students or student athletes free Drake's snacks. But the University decided to bend the rules. "These kids worked hard all year and they fell short of their goal, but we wanted to give them some of the great snacks that we make here as a way to aid the healing process," said Drake board member, Tom Higgins.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

ACLU to NCAA: 'Let's call it March Irrationality'

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a statement urging NCAA officials to refer to the men's and women's championship basketball tournament as March Irrationality instead of March Madness.

"We just feel that irrationality is more acceptable and politically correct than 'madness,'" said ACLU vice president, Jim Sexton. "This isn't totally our thing, but ..."

The NCAA copyrighted the phrase several years ago as a synonym for the super-popular college playoff system, and it has been a huge success with fans.

"I love March Madness. That's what I call it. I don't say, 'I love the NCAA field of 64 Championship Tournament,'" said Indiana University basketball fan, Scott Gimbel. "But, March Irrationality also has a certain something."

The NCAA did not return calls or emails for this story but did send a text message that they would consider March Mania, March Helter Skelter in the Sports Shelter, March and Early April Craziness, and Late March Early-April Unbelievableness.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I-95 mess gives great idea to entrepreneur

Milton Besinger, an entrepreneur from Bensalem, PA, was sitting in traffic caused by the shut down of Interstate-95 yesterday when he came up with a great idea. On Monday engineers discovered a large crack in a concrete pillar that supports the interstate between Allegheny and Girard Avenues.

"I've been sitting in this mess for hours and I got to thinking and it just popped into my head," said Besinger.

Besinger hopes the idea is a success. "Whether or not I can make any money from the idea depends on whether the idea is a success."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gravel great for collecting and investing

The end of winter means the beginning of collecting for Jeff Horland of Britains Corner,Pa. Though the Philadelphia area had a mild winter with few snow and ice storms the suburban streets are strewn with gravel do to generous plowmen.

Unlike the city many suburban municipalities do not have street cleaning to collect the loose gravel that can be a hazard to children and pets. "It's just not in our budget so we rely on the residents to clean the street in front of their house," said Kimberly Caln, Township president in Britains Corner,Pa.

This is where the retired Horland comes in to not only clean the neighborhood but add to his ever growing gravel collection. "Honestly, cleaning is like the 2nd or 3rd reason for picking it up. I am a gravel collector and have been for almost 15 years."

When Horland began collecting gravel in 1994 the stone mixture went for twelve cents an ounce. In the time since then gravel has increased to twenty cents an ounce. "It's not silver, but I am able to make a living from it," said Horland.

Gravel is traded on the New York Commodities market and is currently listed at $0.197. Gravel hit an all-time high at $0.27 in 1996 when the Northeast experienced a severe blizzard.

"This is a collection I am very proud of and the buckets and buckets of gravel show that I not only like gravel but that I have a lot of it."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sixers, Flyers, Eagles, Phils consider relocation after latest skyscraper proposal

Philadelphia's four major professional sports teams-Flyers,Sixers,Eagles,Phils-are now considering relocation after news broke about a planned 1500 ft skyscraper to be constructed at 18th and Arch Streets in Center City.

Relocation talk sprouts from the "Curse of William Penn"-the belief that no Philadelphia team has won a championship since the modern skyline passed the brim of William Penn's hat atop City hall in 1987. The Sixers were the last team to capture a title in 1983 the same year that city officials agreed to permit buildings to breakthrough Penn's ceiling.

There was no official law limiting the height of the city's buildings but several architects were put to death for proposing such plans. Renown Philadelphia architect Gilbert Torchester was hung in 1906 in the City Hall court yard for mentioning to a friend that,"one day I will look down on William Penn."

The four teams believe that the curse is confined to the city limits and therefore plan on moves to one of the surrounding Pennsylvania or New Jersey counties.

"It stinks because we just got a new stadium," said David Montgomery, Phillies president. Already the town of Cape May, NJ seems to be the frontrunner for landing the Phils as they have plans for a 40,000-seat stadium in the heart of the historic district. "We'll have to rid the town of some of these hideous Victorian homes, but I think we can get it done," said Cape May Borough Chair, Tara Freeman.

Chester County has contacted the Eagles about a possible stadium site in the Great Valley Corporate Center with easy access to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 202.

"This stinks because we just got a new stadium," said Jeffrey Lurie, Eagles owner. Lurie was very excited about the Chester County site but wanted to consider all the options.

"The curse is serious business which is why relocation is serious business. Having to move stinks because the Wachovia Center is only 12 years old," said Flyers president, Ed Snider. Reading and Norristown seem to be very interested in the Sixers and Flyers respectively.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Biron gives up goal during "emergency" team meeting

The Philadelphia Flyers called a players-only meeting after losing 7-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins today. The team has now lost four straight games and six of their last eight. With only nine games remaining their hold on the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is quickly slipping away.

For a player to talk during the meeting they must be holding a bright orange puck called the "parrot puck." The captains and assistant captains moderate the meeting and open the floor for opinions and ideas after initial statements.

During the meeting Flyer forward Jeff Carter was able to get a puck past goalie Matin Biron. "We were sitting in the locker room and I had just suggested instituting the "trap" when Marty raised his hand to speak. I flipped the puck towards Marty and it went right by him into his equipment bag," said Carter. However, Biron claimed that it was slightly redirected by Daniel Briere.

Captain Jason Smith witnessed the incident and ripped into the goalie in front of the team. "He yelled something about a beach ball, something about cheese, and a your-blocker joke. Also, I did not tip the puck," said forward, Danny Briere.

Friday, March 14, 2008

U.S. Olympic Archery Team misses Target

The U.S. Olympic Archery Team was scheduled to attend the grand opening of the Pottstown,Pa Target but found themselves in the nearly empty parking lot of the company's Pottsville,Pa store. "They missed the intended Target," said Pottstown store manager, Gale Minard.

The company recently decided to become an official sponsor of the team for the Beijing games. "We don't sell archery equipment so I never really saw how the partnership would make sense, but then our marketing team pointed out what should have been obvious," said Tom Vernon, Target CEO.

The team was quickly shuttled the 56 miles to the Pottstown store where they fired burning styrofoam arrows into the waiting crowd. Strapped to the arrows were $100 gift cards. "Most of the cards unfortunately melted in-flight," said Vernon. "But the crowd had a great time."

"We go to Target almost twice a day for this and that because they gave us like $500 worth of gift cards," said team captain, Fred Higgins. Fans should remember Higgins from the Greek games as the archer who,after an injury, had to compete with one arm and still captured the silver.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Conventioneers: 'For God's sake, please turn down the strength of the coffee cup magnet.'

Visitors to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia have openly requested that the staff reduce the strength of the coffee cup magnet that stands under the escalator near the 13th St and Arch St entrance.

"There's no way the magnet is suppose to be that strong. I was standing with my wife drinking coffee, maybe 15 feet away, and the cup was violently stripped from my hand," said Dale Foster, of Easton, Pa.

"I saw one gentleman actually attempting to drink the remaining coffee from his cup while it was sticking to the magnet," said Gretta Simon, a visitor from Medford, NJ in town for the Flower Show. "He asked if anyone had extra sugar."

The Convention Center has admitted to increasing the strength of the magnet over the years to account for heavier coffee mugs. "It's a fact of life. Coffee cups have gotten heavier because people like their coffee served hotter these days," said PCC manager, Steve Hawthorne.

Experts have proven that on average coffee serving temperatures have increased 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 3 years. This has caused cup manufacturers to increase the thickness of the cup's sides thereby making them heavier.

Though Philadelphia city law prevents coffee cup magnets from exceeding 20 on the strength scales the PCC site registered a 27, according to NCCMSWG(National Coffee Cup Magnet Strength Watch Group). "Why do you think the Starbucks across the street has changed to paper and Styrofoam cups," said Maggy Telmin, NCCMSWG director.

"The city tested it two weeks ago and it registered a 19. NCCMSWG is always coming out here and stirring up magnet trouble," said Hawthorne. "They need to go back to Washington and worry about the real problem...teacup magnets.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yoga instructor declares winner after each class

A Philadelphia yoga instructor is revolutionizing the ancient mental and physical practice by declaring a winner after each class. Max Garrity, 38, has been teaching yoga for 12 years. "I just always thought something was missing. I would finish a class and say to myself,'I totally won that class, I'm undefeated.'"

The Cambodian trained yogi from Harrisburg moved to Center City 5 years ago and last November started his competitive yoga class. He credits the success of he class to his hard work and the slogan,"Relax your mind, spirit and soul but not your crazy-ass competitiveness."

"I used to think yoga was no place for competition but now Max has made me realize that,if I have to and with a lot of pain, I can purposely dislocate joints to bend further than the person next to me," said Tara Goldmam, of Fairmount.

"This week it was Stephanie, but next week it could be Wendy. I just want them to concentrate on what the person beside them is doing and how they can beat them," said Quinn.

In the event of a tie Garrity will often have the two participants arm wrestle to determine a winner. "No one leaves until there is a clear winner, even if that means the kick boxing class has to wait."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Kendrick to begin taking Japanese classes

The Philadelphia Phillies have reported that pitcher Kyle Kendrick has begun taking Japanese language classes at the Clearwater[Fl] Community Center. "No reason. We just think it's a good idea that he become familiar with the language," said assistant GM, Ruben Amaro Jr. When asked about Kendrick's outing versus the Blue Jays yesterday Amaro said,"the Clearwater Community Center is top notch."

Sunday, March 9, 2008

PECO workers to restore power after St Patrick's Day Parade

PECO has vowed to its 80,000 plus powerless customers that electricity will be restored just as soon as the Philadelphia St Patrick's Day parade ends. "We planned a huge company outing along the Parkway today for the parade and so there will be delays to restoring power," said PECO rep, Danny O'Malley.

This is the first year that PECO has held a company picnic during the March parade. The company's human resources reported that the picnic is usually held in the summer at Allentown's Dorney Park, but executive Patrick McLaughlin wanted to "change it up."

"I said to the party comittee,'Let's change it up a bit this year,'" said McLaughlin.

Customers should expect to have power by the end of Monday evening. "Oh definitely by Monday night but no later than Thursday," said O'Malley. He added that if you can't view the parade on TV to come down and join the PECO family and enjoy the green holdiay. Customers are not permitted entrance into the PECO Employee food tent on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

From Coors Light to Miller Light, Macro beers rule Philly Beer Week

This week is Beer Week in Philadelphia which is being marked by various events throughout the city and suburbs over ten days. Organizers felt the title Beer Week and 72 hours didn't have the same ring as Beer Week.

The 10 days are a tribute to the area's macro beer selection from Coors and Miller to Budweiser and Molson to name a few. "This morning I was tasting a beer from the Rockies and in the afternoon I was sipping a beer from St Louis," said beer drinker, Garry Stenchik.

Organizers want to show the beer nation that "Big Beer" is a viable option for the Delaware Valley's beer drinkers. "We want the region's drinkers to know that they can walk into a pub and order a Bud Light or a Coors Banquet beer and won't be riduculed," said Philly Beer Week organizer, Jim Dugan.

"I really feel that I'm drinking melted snow from the snow capped mountains of eastern Missouri that was then turned into beer," said Sam Ulston referring to Budweiser, a beer drinker who made the five hour drive from Pittsburgh.

"I love all the macro beer tv commercials," added Stenchik.

So whether you love the ads, the cross-country transport of the beer, the watered down flavor or specially lined cans come and celebrate Philadelphia Beer Week with a 30-pack.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Moss did sign with Birds, was cut, returned to Pats

Reports have now surfaced that the Philadelphia Eagles did sign WR Randy Moss to a three year deal over the weekend then hours later released him to make room for either Larry Fitzgerald or Roy Williams. "We never thought we would get Moss but then we thought, 'how would we fit Larry [Fitzgerald] or Roy [Williams] under the cap.' So unfortuneately we had to part ways with Randy. He's a great kid and we wish him well,' said Eagles head coach, Andy Reid.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chinese pop band emerges from dam rubble

The largest dam in the world is slowly nearing completion along the Yangtze River in China. The construction of the Three Gorges Dam has displaced over a million residents along its banks to make way for the rising waters. Hundreds of towns were literally reduced to rubble by hand to ensure the new waterway's ships would not strike the abandoned buildings. The Chinese expected both flood control and clean energy to result from the years of hardship but not...entertainment.

From sledge hammers and broken rocks has emerged China's newest super pop girl band- "Three Gorgeous Dames." The three beautiful women come from Xe Xnong, a town formally located just three miles upstream from the massive dam. "As we were knocking down the 10 story apartment building we lived in, with a government-supplied screw driver, we would always sing and stuff and hum and stuff," said unofficial band leader, Guong Zi. The band is a mega-sensation topping the Chinese charts for the past two months.

Even Heng Zi, Guong's mother, occasionally attends the sold out concerts. The single mother is the only resident, of over 1.5 million, to refuse relocation and now lives 35 meters below the water in an aqua house. "She was a great free diver which also lets her help manage the band and occasionally buy food for herself," said the daughter.

Chen Li and Han Sing make up the remainder of "Three Gorges Dames," with Sing writing most of the song lyrics. "Damn that dam" is the song that pushed the band into the national spotlight and is also the name of their CD. They have been asked to perform the song "Mao Say Dung Smell Very Bad" for the Opening Ceremonies at the Beijing Summer Olympics this year.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Asante Samuel Rocks! Papers. Scissors.

New Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel is looking forward to getting started with his new team and leading them back into the playoffs. To do this his off season training includes a hobby that keeps his great hands...great.

The Pro Bowler is currently ranked 16th in the U.S. in the National Rocks-Papers-Scissors Rankings. His recent 2nd place finish in the Northeastern U.S. Regional tournament earned him the cover of RPS Magazine and earned him an endorsement deal with RoPaScTech, a Rocks Paper Scissors safety equipment manufacturer.

"It's something I got into when I was a kid and never thought that I would be able to make a living with it," said Samuel. Obviously Samuel makes most of his money from football but he did miss a regular season game last year to compete in a tournament in Florida. He also hopes to compete full time in the Professional RPS world tour after football ends.

"I told Asante when we signed him that I would only permit him to miss one or two games because of his RPS hobby," said Andy Reid, Eagles head coach.