Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Branch was one of city's best

Sunday's violent thunderstorms walloped the city and surrounding counties. Trees were ripped from the ground, houses were struck by lightning, rain fell, but nothing damaged the city quite like what occurred in the city's Fitler Square neighborhood.

One of the city's best branches was torn away from the tree it had called home for years.

"It really was one of the best branches. Everyone in the neighborhood loved this branch. I think it was known throughout most of the city," enthused Kristin Loraine, a resident of Capital Street.

"I look at the branch laying in the street and it's tough. It just doesn't look the same when it's not attached to the trunk," said another Fitler Square resident, Belinda Adams.

The branch recently appeared in Philadelphia Magazine's Best Of issue where it was given the best branch nod. In fact, in the five years the magazine has given the award the branch has claimed all five titles.

"It was a branch that you could trust. On a couple of occasions I left my children at the base of the tree for a few minutes and the branch totally watched them," said Adams.

Most residents agreed that the branch was very quiet and looked out for leaves and smaller branches.

"Again, I can't say this enough. It was just flat out one of the city's best branches." exclaimed Loraine.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Soul parade to be held in Dover, DE

The Philadelphia Soul are champions of the Arena Football League and the city of Philadelphia has embraced this hard-nosed and talented indoor team. But the support that the City of Brotherly Love has shown is nothing compared to the scale that Dover, Delaware has displayed.

In the city of Dover and in surrounding Kent County all schools and most businesses were closed so supporters could watch the game on Sunday.

"If you think the Soul are popular in Philly than times that by 100 and divide it by 1 and that's their level of popularity in Dover," said Dover mayor, Carlton Carey.

After the Soul clinched the championship on Sunday the city of Dover practically shut down. Fans filled the streets shouting positive chants about their favorite team. Twenty inebriated backers attempted to tip over a Cooper Mini, but gave up after the 17th effort failed.

"We love Philly but I had to go with Dover on this one," said Soul owner, Jon Bon Jovi, referring to his choice in parade location. "We play in Philly but Dover is simply mad about the Soul." Carey had called Bon Jovi on Sunday night to see about bringing the parade to Dover.

So popular is the team in Delaware's state capital that the Soul are planning to play three home games on the infield of the city's monstrous International Speedway in 2009.

"We'll make the infield really indoor-like," said Carey.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Arena Bowl great, commercials better

Arena Bowl XXII lived up to the hype coming down to the last play of the game as the Philadelphia Soul was able to hold off the defending champion San Jose SaberCats(formerly the Palo Alto SaberCat Tigers), 59-56. However, the high scoring shootout took back stage to the real star of the Arena Bowl: the commercials.

The Arena Bowl may not command the same audience,in numbers, that the NFL's Super Bowl does, but it has become a prime stage to test ads on football crazy fans.

"Arena Bowl has become the Super Bowl of TV commercial debuts. Companies pay top dollar to have their ads shown during the game. This sounds made up but it costs more per second here[Arena Bowl] than for the Super Bowl," said Valerie Holmsberg, a Madison Avenue ad executive with TechTech Inc.

The products featured in the Arena Bowl commercials range from beer to beer bottle openers and from sports cars to non-sports cars.

"My favorite was the one with the three cats singing the Canadian national anthem while staring at the product the commercial was promoting," said Philadelphia Soul fan, Brent Byers. "It was hilarious how the cats were just obsessed with the product."

Another fan decided not to go to a local bar to watch the game so he could hear and appreciate the ads.

"I was happy with my decision to stay home for the game. I was crying from laughter at the ad where the baby is sitting in the tire," said Kyle Cherkin, a self-proclaimed Soul diehard. "I mean, what is a baby doing in a tire. Wacky."

Other ads introduced improvements to already popular alcoholic liquid products.

"I love the one where the mountains on the side of the bottle turn red when the beer is finished. It was great! I mean, I know the bottle is lighter, but I probably would continue drinking it if I didn't see the mountains turn red," said SaberCat fan, Doug O'Hallahan, of Palo Alto, CA.

So whether you tuned in for the unremitting illegal forward motion displayed by both offenses or for the commercials, you have to admit one thing: you tuned in for the commercials.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Squirrels becoming more visible on S. Jersey beaches

Just when vigilant beachgoers were getting used to food-swiping seagulls and loud conch shells here comes a new scavenger that is establishing a presence along New Jersey's waterfront. Squirrels have begun to migrate to the barrier island's sand in search of small bits of food and beach glass.

"It's global warming. It's all global warming. They're becoming confused. I saw one squirrel run right into the ocean. Don't know what happened to the little guy," said Ursinus College biology professor, Dr Tammy Belvedere.

Squirrels, normally tree dwellers, have taken to burrowing 8 feet deep holes in the sand to protect themselves against predators. The greatest threat to the bushy tailed "rodents" are kites and horseshoe crabs.

For the most part seagulls and squirrels have coexisted on the beaches in New Jersey. However, there was one reported incident in Strathmere, the town just south of Ocean City, last week.

Several aggressive gulls were flying low, picking up the squirrels and dropping them 30 yards off the shore into the water.

"It was freaking sweet. I was getting the catamaran ready when 'Operation Relocate Squirrel' began," said Josh Tipton, of Brick, NJ.

Experts feel the rodents may be here to stay and not because food is abundant(during the summer months).

"The little creatures have become fascinated with the tides. They'll sit and watch the tide go out. They appear more interested when the tide is going out," said Belvedere.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beach tag checkers have heard every excuse in book

Sea Isle Ciy, NJ - Cindy Shaughnasy, 18, of Fort Washington, PA is in her 2nd season as a beach tag seller/checker in this family-friendly South Jersey town. Though thousands apply only 36 are hired for the summer and 2 are chosen to stay on to work autumn, winter and spring.

For those that frequent free beaches beach tags are a fee for using New Jersey's beaches, one of 4 coastal states to charge sun seekers to sit on their sand. The state justifies the tags because it claims to spend billions of dollars to replenish sand, comb, collect trash, and operate a beach tag system.

"I actually had someone tell me that they forgot it at the house. Do you believe that? That's the craziest excuse I've ever gotten." said Shaughnasy.

Shaughnasy's usual partner, Debbby(spelled with 3 b's) Schmidt, 19, has also heard some wild excuses as to why a beach goer is without a tag.

"Last week I approached this couple, they were eating lunch, and once they saw me pretended they were asleep. Eyes closed and heads leaning forward and everything. The man was still chewing while he pretended to sleep. Completely outlandish."

Schmidt said that a friend of a friend in Avalon, NJ, who is also a tag checker, was told by a family that their tags had actually become lodged inside the umbrella pole. While another group showed the girl a handful of small shells and insisted they were tags.

"It's a tough job and all. But, like, I'm on the beach all day and all. It's hot and all. But it's great and all too," said Schmidt.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Eaton offers to pick up Blanton at airport, team says 'nah'

Above: Adam Eaton, who has been advised by Phillies team officials to "check craigslist for Allentown apartments," will not be greeting, new pitcher, Joe Blanton at Philly International.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

MN, IA, NB, WY, MT, Can grow nervous as Dakotas consider reunification

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Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and Canada have recently expressed concerns to Washington, DC over North and South Dakota's possible reunification. Though the two never existed as a unified state they did exist as a unified territory.

"Even though we were a territory and not a state we were stronger when we were together. Reunification is crucial if we are to succeed in our strategy to invade Wyoming. I mean Montana. I mean...not invade any neighboring states," said North Dakota governor, John Hoeven.

On November 2, 1889 both North and South Dakota were admitted into the Union. Though historians are baffled as to how North was admitted as the 39th and South the 40th.

"It really may have been decided by drawing straws," said Harvard history professor, Daniel Chichester. Which in 1889 literally meant drawing a picture of a drinking straw with a charcoal pencil.

Other historians believe that South has never gotten over being admitted second and would thwart any chance of reunification.

"We know we're better as one but it's still tough to be chosen second. Northies[North Dakotans] sometimes have this attitude that they are better than more southern Dakotans," said Michael Rounds, S.D. governor. "Just because they have Theodore Roosevelt National Park and all."

When asked who would govern the new state blank faces appeared on both governors followed by great belly laughter.

Though most neighboring states are threatened by one Dakota other citizens thought it could be positive. "Would I want their crazy accent? No. But would I like their skill of carving faces into mountains? Yes," said Bridget Castor, of Boise, Idaho.

Some experts say Dakota is upset that their abundant fly fishing, corn, lake, blue astroturf and cowboy industries have all been squashed by neighboring states.

Though not a bordering state Idaho is very nervous over a unified Dakota. Boise State University uses the same blue astroturf that Northern South Dakota State uses in affect stealing its trademark.

"They would have had a booming potato and blue astroturf industry if it wasn't for Idaho," said economist, Sam Crowhurst.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Phillies win secures first place at All-Star break, sets off wild celebration

Yesterday the Phillies outlasted the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-3, to guarantee a first place finish in the National League East at the All-Star break.

"Bunch of throw-backs are in first place in the National League East at the All-Star break," cried a joyous Harry Kalas, the Phillies Hall of Fame announcer.

Radio announcer Larry Anderson and post-game show host Jim Jackson had tears streaming down their cheeks.

"Although it's not hockey and I've never completely understood baseball this is sweet. This is like a goal scored from center ice," said Jackson while spraying co-worker Chris Wheeler with champagne.

The 30th sellout crowd of the year stood and cheered as Brad Lidge struck out Mark Reynolds to end the game. Seven dollar beers were carefully guarded as celebrations broke out in many sections of Citizens Bank Park.

In the parking lot vendors were already selling $20 t-shirts that read: "2008 Phillies: First Place at the All-Star Break."

Lonely vendor Sal Klein shouted,"Peanuts, pretzels dollar a bag." The sullen Klein decided at the last minute against partnering with a friend to sell the first place all-star t-shirts. "It was a bad choice."

The parking lot was filled with honking car horns and repeated shouts of,"we're number one at the halfway point, although technically we're past halfway."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Looking back, Mugabe credits slogan for victory

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, who recently was reelected, credits his victory to his "grand" campaign slogan.

Mugabe sequestered the country's top marketing and election officials for 10 days in an undisclosed location in the capital city of Harare to create a winning slogan.

"What they came up with was genius. Having no food and only some water makes the thinking cap kick into overdrive," said Mugabe, referring to his method of dealing with the group.

What was the slogan that captured a nation and forced his opponents to withdraw from the election voluntarily? "Mugabe: He would never mug a bee!"

"Bees are very important creatures that play a vital role in pollinating plants. It's important to us as a country to know that Mugabe would never mug a bee," said an anonymous resident of Harare.

Many residents in the capital and in Bulawayo, a city about 200 miles to the southwest, have expressed similar feelings about the importance of not mugging bees.

"Mugging bees of their pollen or whatever one would mug them of is just not hip and that's why I voted for Mugabe. That and there was no one else on the ballot," said another anonymous citizen.

Political analyst for Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper, Jim Zwanali, expressed his opinion that having a single-candidate ballot ensured the safety of the country's bees. "We really don't know how another candidate would have treated bees. Would they have treated them badly? Probably."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cira Centre mgmt appologizes to Welcome America

The management team at Cira Centre, one of Philadelphia's flashiest new office towers, has issued an apology to the Sunoco Welcome America Organizing Committee. The committee is responsible for planning Philadelphia's July 4th celebration including one of the largest fireworks displays in the country.

On the night of July 4th crowds gathered along the parkway and its side streets for the massive pyrotechnic show that fills the air behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

At the same time just across the Schuylkill River Cira Centre management activated a huge light show with its millions of twinkling, blinking and flashing lights.

"They more twinkle than blink or flash. But there is quite a cadence and a rhythm that makes it quite rhythmical," said one onlooker.

Crowds along the river became mesmerized by the show and onlookers situated on the Parkway, waiting for fireworks, began to make their way to a better vantage point of the Cira Centre.

"Even before we set off one firework the Parkway was practically empty. I wanted to go over there and pull the plug out from the...socket...that...powers all those lights. I don't know if there's one giant plug or what. If there was a switch I'd look for that. I mean I'll be the first to admit that they are damn cool," said Welcome America owner, Jessica Gilsby.

Gilsby said she accepted the apology and said the two sides agreed that the Cira Centre will be able to do one light show on July 3rd of next year. "We had to give them one day near the holiday. Those lights are so damn blinky and flashy."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Utley admits twinkies and doritos are favorite Tastykake treats

Chase Utley, second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies, is the new poster boy for Philadelphia-based Tastykake Baking Company. The pairing can be seen on billboards, TV ads, wristbands and on the Cira Center.

"He's the official second baseman of Tastykake and we really wanted to inundate the community with that tidbit of information," said Mike Snow, head of the company's marketing department.

When asked about his favorite Tastykake product the All-Star couldn't name just one. "It's gotta be the twinkie, but a close second is the devil dog and then doritos."

Executives admitted that they told Utley the company produced twinkies to ensure that the player would sign an endorsement deal. Word reached the officials that the creme-filled sponge cake was tops on his list.

"When we sent him a box of Tastykakes, to make his decision easier, we included a few twinkies and a devil dog. But, I must note that we put these items at the bottom of the box...under the oatmeal creme pies," said Snow.

Utley did have one question that baffles many Tastykake fans: "How do they get the icing on top of the krimpet?"

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cell phones, lighters, matches and cameras help to finish Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal halted Roger Federer's Wimbledon winning streak at five and became the first Spaniard to win tennis' most coveted trophy since 1966. Yesterday's final was the longest championship in the history of the tournament lasted 4 hours and 48 minutes and ended at 9:17PM local time due to several rain delays.

Nadal may want to thank the fans of England for assisting in the victory which may not have been possible otherwise. Wimbledon's Center Court is not equipped with lights and daylight was becoming very scarce toward 9PM.

At 8:57PM, sensing that the match could possibly be postponed until Monday because of darkness, Nadal approached the umpire's chair asking if he could make an announcement to the crowd. Thinking he wanted to ask for more silence as the match ended the umpire agreed.

"Please, I'm asking you all to please take out your cell phones, cigarette lighters, matches, cameras and anything that gives off light. Even if you have a glow watch or something. Let's finish tonight," pleaded Nadal to a roaring crowd.

One by one cell phones were turned on, cameras flashed and fingers were burnt as the grass surface slowly became illuminated. The umpire smiled and signaled for play to continue.

A joking Federer went to his chair and pulled out his own cell phone. Nadal applauded and play began.

"I've never seen nothin' like this before here or anywhere. It's something that is quite good," said a fan visiting from West Glasgow.

"If the match was put off until tomorrow there is no telling what may have happened. Roger could have come out and defeated me and I didn't want to take that chance," said a joyous Nadal.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Segway stolen, but assailant unable to balance

Greg Dorson recently sold his car, took a smaller apartment and sold half of his Swatch collection to pay for a new Segway. "I'm fascinated by stand-up travel that doesn't involve walking or running. And I've been fascinated for quite some time," said Dorson, who is looking to open Philadelphia's first Segway repair shop at the Navy Yard.

Early yesterday morning he was riding his newly purchased Segway to his job in Center City from his home in University City when he was assaulted. A man, hiding in an alley, emerged as Dorson passed and pushed him violently from the moving Segway.

"I didn't see him at all. Came out of nowhere demanding the Segs[Segway]. I wasn't hurt but just a bit terrified," said Dorson.

Initially the assailant attempted to pick up the device and run with it, but being almost 100 lbs he gave up after only a few steps. It was at this point that the mugger stepped onto the Segway in an effort to ride it.

"He first accelerated forward and fell off cutting his knee and elbow. He was very embarrassed but decided to try again," said Dorson.

After threatening Dorson with a closed fist a second try saw the transporter and the driver tip over forward without any touch to the accelerator.

"I simply could not balance on the device. I wasn't able to figure it out," said a frustrated Steve, who would not give his last name in the case that police were still looking for him.

"They're deceiving and it takes some time to learn to ride. I felt a little bad for the guy. His face was red and you tell he was uncomfortable not knowing how to ride it," said Dorson.

Dorson said he would not press charges but offered free lessons to Steve if he turned himself in because he so passionate about Seways and their mission of stand-up, low speed travel.