Friday, December 31, 2010

Amtrak's model train set at 30th Street Station still reporting delays from storm

Philadelphia, PA--The storm that covered some parts of the region in nearly two feet of snow last Sunday into Monday is still affecting the rail transportation network within the city. The Amtrak model train display in the concourse of 30th Street Station has been at a stand still and the miniature town's people have been unable to circle the town by rail for nearly a week now, stranded in their log cabins, churches, oversized Hess Gas Stations and undersized train stations. "I like to circumference the town by train, oh, at least 500 times a day," said GI Joe, who is too large to fit inside the Amtrak car and is forced to sit on top. "It helps me keep a close eye on the Smurfs and Skeletor ... who was a new addition to this year's holiday train display for some reason."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Favre, Vikings visit Mutter Museum on snow day, QB to donate giant ego to institution after passing away

Philadelphia--Brett Favre and the Vikings were looking for something to do during their extended stay in the City of Brotherly Love this past weekend, unexpected free time that resulted from the postponement of their game against the Eagles on Sunday due to a heavy snow storm.

There were several suggestions made to the 53 players and many coaches staying in a Center City hotel, including visiting the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, the International Button Museum, Independence Seaport Museum, City Hall, the Masonic Temple, the Shoelace Museum, the American Swedish Historical Museum and, finally, the Mutter Museum.

With so many players and such varied interests, the team decided to split into groups and explore the city's multitude of cultural offerings. At least, that was the near unanimously approved plan.

"I stood up and shouted 'no' during the team meeting," said Favre, who did not play in last night's game because of lingering concussion symptoms. "This is probably the end of my career and I wanted the team to do something together, as one unit. And I wanted them to do what I wanted to do."

The list of attractions didn't much spark interest from Favre, but he wanted clarification about one destination. "The last one that was mentioned, the, uh, Mutter something. What is that all about?"

The hospitality guide assigned to the Vikings by the Greater Philadelphia Board of Tourism and Marketing described the Mutter Museum for the grizzled veteran: "It is a medical history museum filled to the brim with medical oddities collected over time and from around the world. In a word, it is unbelievably freaky."

Favre was instantly sold on the College of Physicians' museum. So that's how it would be, the entire Vikings team was to visit the cramped Mutter Museum on 22nd St and Chestnut St, a short walk from their lodgings.

One of the prize pieces of the collection, and first to greet visitors, is the remains of a horned individual from the early 1800's known as "Horned Steve," a condition, medical historians believe, resulting from a large forehead calcium deposit. Doctors did note that had Steve ever been beheaded, the horn would have made carrying the severed noggin "quite easy."

Favre, and most of the team, were blown away by what they saw. Several Vikings had to step outside to gather themselves, after feeling light headed, before resuming the tour, while others were forced to return to the hotel early.

"I was so impressed with the museum that right there on the spot I offered to donate my ego after I leave this earth," said Favre, his eyes misting over. "I wasn't sure what to do with my ego after I die, but I found a home for it today. This is a special day for me and my family."

"This is terrific," said Gale Summersby, director of the museum and grinning from ear to ear. "Not only is Brett leaving his unusually gigantic ego to our wonderful museum collection, but he is also donating the requisite funds to construct a new wing that will house the ego ... and only the ego. Mr Favre, I salute you and your ego."

Favre did say that he was saddened by the thought of his ego not being able to forever rest in Wisconsin, Minnesota or Mississippi somewhere, but he felt this was a great fit.

"Doctors and medical students from around the world will now be able to come to Philadelphia and study my ego up close," said the Mississippi native. "I feel like I'm doing a great thing for society. Yeah, a real great thing for society."

Notes: The American Swedish Historical Museum, the oldest in the country, reported record attendance this past weekend with the Minnesota Vikings in town. Thousands of Vikings fans flocked to the museum near 20th St and Pattison Ave in South Philadelphia. "We thought the number of visitors would increase somewhat with all the Swedish ancestry in Minnesota, but we had know idea that we would shatter attendance records," said Lovisa Bjornberg, the museum's curator...The Eagles are looking to donate Ikea furniture that was either confiscated at the stadium's entryways or left behind in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field following tailgating on Tuesday night by Vikings fans. Nonprofits should contact the team if interested in the variety of items, which include karlstads, kivics, hovas, a tullsta and several poangs.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Qatar to pay Coors 'billions' to relaunch non-alcoholic Coors Cutter as Coors Qatar for 2022 World Cup

Musical director blaming show's problems on real Spider-Man, says superhero passed on lead role

New York, NY--Once again, problems have struck the stunt-filled musical production of "Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark." Last week, a show ended prematurely, not the first, when an actor fell several feet into an orchestra pit and was eventually taken away by ambulance.

"It's just frustrating because I offered the Spider-Man role to Spider-Man and he was like 'thanks but no thanks,'" said Julie Taymor, the musical's director. "He said he didn't think that it would be right for him to play himself and that it would be 'weird.'"

Reports also surfaced that the superhero was very reluctant about using his wrist webbing, the superpower that allows him to swing through the city, for a Broadway production and not for actually saving residents in despair.

Most involved with the show, the most expensive production on Broadway ever at $65 million, believe that had Spider-Man joined the cast the injuries and delays sustained thus far would have never surfaced. On Tuesday night, the real Spider-Man emerged from a dark corner of the Foxwoods Theater to save another falling Spider-Man actor whose harness had snapped during an aerial stunt.

"If he's going to be in the theater watching anyway, why can't he just play the role? It's a little bit ridiculous," said Taymor. "I'm willing to offer him the lead ... again."

Friday, December 17, 2010

North Korea, South Korea to finally meet, discuss escalating tensions between East Korea, West Korea

Seoul, South Korea--The world is well acquainted with the current standoff between North Korea and South Korea. The 38th parallel has acted as the border between these two countries for nearly 60 years, since the end of the Korean War. Recent actions in the region by both nations have brought the two to the brink of war, yet again. Despite this, yesterday, it was announced that the longtime enemies would meet, surprisingly, in Seoul for a 3-day "Emergency Peninsula Meeting." What prompted this sudden change in direction? Are peace talks the goal?

"We're not meeting to discuss our current contentious situation," said Choe Yong-rim, North Korea's ambassador to North Korea. "We're meeting to discuss the serious situation arising between East Korea and West Korea. Don't get me wrong, we still hate South Korea with the passion and strength of 600 times infinity times 100 times infinity times ten. But, the hatred between East and West Korea, which is, unbelievably, greater than that, is putting us all in danger."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jerry Jones: NFC Super Bowl representative will be asked to wear Cowboys uniforms

Dallas, TX--The Super Bowl is only eight short weeks away and the team hosting the big game this year has, sadly, just about been eliminated from contention. The disappointment in the Metroplex this season over the futility of the Cowboys has been difficult for the entire region. A supposedly competitive team lead by a Pro Bowl quarterback appeared to be a formula to bring the club out of the tunnel on February 6, 2011 in their gleaming, monstrosity of a stadium. In order to feel like his team is playing in that game, however, the team's owner is requesting the Cowboys' uniforms be worn on that day. "If the Cowboys can't be in the Super Bowl this season, which they won't be, then I ask that the NFC team that does reach the league's showcase game in Dallas wear the colors of my beloved team. It will make me and the greater Dallas area feel a little better," said Cowboys' owner, Jerry Jones. "I would even entertain the idea of the AFC team wearing the uniforms. At the very least, could someone wear our helmets? Work with me on this one."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Metrodome Collapse: Favre missing, Vikings say QB could be under pile of snow, will check later in week

Minneapolis, MN--Vikings' quarterback Brett Favre, 41, has been missing since early yesterday morning. The Mississippi native disappeared around the same time that the team's stadium, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, sustained a roof collapse at around 5 a.m. from excessive snow that accumulated from a recent harsh winter storm. There have been reports that Favre received a text message asking the quarterback to come to the Metrodome field alone at 4:45 a.m. and wait by the north 40-yard line. Police would not comment on this report. The team and Minneapolis emergency officials say they will check the mound of snow on the field for the 20-year veteran later in the week. "We have reason to believe that Brett may be at the bottom of the snow pile on the field ... and, miraculously, alive," said Minnesota emergency medical technician, Harry Dolombach. "We will definitely search later in the week. No later than Friday or Saturday, I promise. At that point it will probably be a recovery mission and no longer a search and rescue mission."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Port Authority reportedly extorted millions from Sports Authority to handle errant calls looking for the sporting goods company

Camden, NJ--Tammy Granderson of Gloucester County, NJ needed a new tennis racket last week and wanted to inquire about the selection before making the trip to her local sporting goods store. She decided to call the Sports Authority and was incorrectly given an 877 number from an operator. A gruff, unfriendly voice greeted her: "Port Authority. How can I direct your call?"

Granderson, caught off guard, apologized as she thought she had the wrong number and was about to hang up when the voice dramatically switched to a pleasant and welcoming lilt. "Please, ma'am, wait. Do not hang up. Are you looking to inquire about sporting good items?"

Last year, the Delaware River Port Authority reported that over 1,000 calls per week pour into their office in Camden, NJ from people looking to contact the Sports Authority, a national, privately-owned company based in Colorado. The controversial bi-state agency that oversees the bridges of the lower Delaware River, RiverLink Ferry and the PATCO high speed rail line on the Ben Franklin Bridge said these constant interruptions made conducting "normal" business at the site nearly impossible.

The Port Authority said this was costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars and it was one of the main reasons that the agency was considering raising the current bridge toll of $4, which most drivers feel is already steep, to $5. Last April, Governors Ed Rendell (PA) and Christ Christie (NJ) rejected a toll hike for this specific reason and told the transportation agency to handle it another way.

"It takes time to tell all those people that they have the wrong number and that we do not sell 12'X12' collapsible yard canopies," said Pete Dennen, a DRPA board member from New Jersey. "And you know that old nursery rhyme: Time is money."

In May, Curt Devlin, another DRPA board member, took a "family ski trip" to Colorado.

"DRPA approached us, well, actually, walked into our office unannounced, about six months ago saying that nearly 70% of their weekly calls are our potential customers," said Denise Crossman, vice president of the Sports Authority. "The Port Authority said, 'We can be either very rude to those callers or help them purchase sporting goods. It's your call. I think you know what I'm getting at.' And then he winked at me ... several times."

Before giving in to the agency, the company changed their national phone number several times and even ran ads in the Delaware Valley marketing the new information. With the names so similar sounding, it made little difference.

"We didn't want people accidentally calling the Port Authority looking for Sports Authority to be told they have the wrong number and be treated rudely. We felt that these customers would become frustrated and move on to another sporting goods store. We decided to give in to the Port Authority's demands and pay for the training of Port Authority call center employees to become experts on Sports Authority products and make a monthly 'contribution' to the agency."

The Port Authority reportedly agreed to cover the cost to fly all of its employees to Englewood, CO, the sporting good store's headquarters, to receive training on sales, returns and product information.

"I usually handle complaint calls about impolite toll takers on the Ben Franklin Bridge," said an anonymous DRPA employee, playing with the bobble Walt Whitman Bridge figurine on her desk. "Now, I know everything there is to know about hockey skate laces. Go ahead, ask me something about a hockey skate lace."

The Port Authority vehemently denies any involvement with or receiving millions of dollars from the Sports Authority.

"Yes, I reported that we get thousands of calls for the Sports Authority every week and it's a problem we need to address," said Devlin, wearing a fully stocked Simms G3 Guide Fishing Vest, sitting at his desk. "But I can assure you that we are in no way running a sporting goods call center from our headquarters. That's silly. We're a transportation agency. We only get involved with transportation type thingies."

Controversial toy drive to end this year

Port Fishington, Philadelphia--The controversial toy drive that has the Delaware Valley, and beyond, up in arms will be discontinued at the end of this year. Toys for T_ts is a toy drive benefiting children of former exotic dancing single mothers whose careers were ended prematurely because of injuries resulting from faulty dancing poles.

Bill Haggerty, a gentleman's club maintenance man who volunteers each year to help organize the toys, says he feels obligated to do so. "I was supposed to put two bolts into the top of that pole. I thought I did."

Many seem to grasp the mission of the toy drive, but not the title. "I'm offended by the name of the toy drive," said Philadelphia resident Tom Billingsly. "I support and understand its mission, but it really is offensive. How about Toys for B_ _bies?"

Bobby Ressurini, owner of the gentleman's club Velvet Hats & Gloves, started the drive in November of 2006. The owner said the name came from the popular Toys for Tots campaign managed by the United States Marine Corps Reserve that collects toys for underprivileged children, while the idea came to him after reading an article in the magazine Exotic Pole Vault about the shocking number of defective dancing poles in the region and the accompanying life-altering injuries.

"I felt I had to do something. It was time for me to step up and help the children or grand children of these injured dancers."

Customers receive five dollars off admission price when they present a new, unwrapped children's toy upon entry to any of the region's gentleman's clubs. Wrapped toys will be unwrapped, checked and re-wrapped using the same paper and tape.

It wasn't until this holiday season that the donation drive began to receive more publicity when Ressurini placed a somewhat racy billboard advertisement along I-95 that featured, well, toys and ... (images were blurred to meet communication regulations). Both local major newspapers covered the story which caught the attention of the local network news programs. Both CNN and MSNBC picked up the story from there where it became national news and Ressurini really began to feel the pressure.

Local news anchor Jim Gardner refused to call the toy drive by its actual name during his report on the story on Tuesday night. The veteran newsman, showing a straight face, would only say Toys for Hoo Ha's.

"I firmly believe that Toys for T_ts benefits each single mother that danced at my clubs and my competitors' clubs," said Ressurini last week outside one of his four clubs, standing with five of his employees' kids. "I don't know if I made that clear. These toys will go to all exotic dancer's children in the region. Not just Velvet Hats and Gloves' dancers' kids."

Yesterday, the owner finally gave in to the pressure from area residents and the local and national media to end the toy drive. December 31 st will be the official last day for Toys for T_ts.

"You're hurting the kids," shouted Ressurini from his 2010 Mercedes sedan, as he peeled out of his parking lot, dirt and debris shooting from the tires and ricocheting off the side of an Action News van. "You're not hurting me."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bad economy reaching NFL, all Skycam cameramen to be let go

New York, NY--Starting next week, all Skycams used during NFL games will be controlled with computers from a remote location. The move is a cost-cutting measure by the league, who, apparently, is not immune to the financial crisis. Skycam is a human-operated television camera suspended by cables above NFL fields that provide home viewers with birds-eye-views of colliding players. "You think it's easy telling someone whose job is as unique as a Skycam operator that they are no longer needed?" said the camera's inventor Hank Galeo. "It takes a special person to film a high speed game while hanging from cables and moving at 35 mph, 80 feet above the field ... and not get motion sickness." One cameraman was shocked at being laid off: "What am I going to do now? I can't work a sideline camera after working Skycam. That sounds awful."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Qatar to host 2022 World Cup despite not remembering bidding for it

Qatar City, Qatar--Yesterday, it was announced that Qatar, a country in the Middle East, will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. "I don't know who bid for this, but this is freakin' awesome," said Hamad bin Jassim, Qatar's Prime Minister. The country's athletic governing body, the Emirate of Qatar Athletic Association, the group that would have orchestrated an official propsal for the nation of 1.7 million people, has no recollection of bidding for the world's most watched sporting event, held every four years. "We talked about making a bid and then the email that had the application attached was accidentally deleted and we never followed up with FIFA. But, heck, we'll take it," said the association's president, Tom Mohomed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eagles' equipment manager applauds Soldier Field turf for conquering team's elongated spikes

Above: Michael Vick and the Eagles were no match for the Chicago Bears and the shoddy playing surface on Sunday despite using the NFL's maximum cleat length of eight inches. "That field took all that I threw at it on Sunday. I had players change spikes 6 times during the game," said Steve Huntsfield, Eagles' equipment manager, clapping slowly and bitterly in recognition of the challenge that the loose turf presented his staff. "Bravo, Soldier Field turf. Bravo." Eagles' head coach Andy Reid subtly hinted that Huntsfield and his staff were partially to blame for the somewhat unexpected loss: "I'm partially blaming Huntsfield and his staff for this loss."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pair of dirty underwear adjacent to trail has been guiding hikers, bikers for years

Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia--The unusually warm late autumn afternoon was cooling off quickly as the sun had already began its decent in the post-daylight savings time sky. The long shadows an urgent reminder to pick up the pace as navigating these parts is difficult enough during daylight, not to mention the uncertainties of urban parks after dark.

Keeping an eye out for loose rock along the gently and sharp sloping trails of this valley requires a focus on the ground before you, which can allow the splendors, and, the not-so-splendid, of the park to sneak up on you. This happened to me over the weekend while hiking.

As I rounded a bend in the narrow, leaf-covered trail I quickly popped my head up for possible oncoming mountain bikers when I noticed a gray flag hanging from a low branch of a tree next to the trail. Some sort of marker or garbage I thought to myself as I approached the weathered piece of clothe.

It didn't take long to realize it was the latter. Wow! It was a pair of old, used men's underwear just dangling there, practically obstructing the walkway in the forest. I recoiled in disgust and felt chills up my back as I imagined what if I had made incidental contact with the beast.

This was truly unsanitary and as I searched for a stick on the ground to knock the briefs from its apparent longtime lodging, I had an idea: I could possibly send this item to someone as a practical joke with the upcoming holiday season just around the corner. Finally, a stick, and, to my relief, long enough that I did not have to come within 3 feet of the creature.

As I inched my way towards it and just before the stick was to make contact, a winded mountain biker, rounding the curve in the trail rather quickly, shouted with all the remaining wind he could muster.

"Nooooooo! Wait, no. Don't do it," screamed Dylan Rogers, a semi-pro mountain biker from Pottstown, PA, taking his weekly Saturday Wissahickon ride. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

I was stunned. Really. At a complete loss as to what the problem was with trying to beautify a park. Although, a part of me thought he saw the plastic bag on the ground and wondered what I was up too. "I'm just clearing this garbage from ..."

"Dude, it's not garbage. That's a trail marker that has been here for years, providing guidance and direction to bikers, hikers and joggers in this vast park. Dude, drop the stick."

The Wissahickon section of Fairmount Park is over 1400 acres of wooded landscape crisscrossed by, what feels like, an endless number of trails. Apparently, trail markings, in any form, are welcomed by frequent park visitors.

"When I see the skid marks hanging on the side of the trail, I know it's time to make my own skid marks on the trail by slowing down and applying the brake. The underwear tells me there's a steep hill ahead. Something I might forget during an intense ride."

Rogers eventually apologized for his overreaction to my removal of the "marking," but I found that others in the park also relied on the drawers as their North Star.

"When I see the underwear I know to to take the right trail up ahead if I want to end up at the Valley Green Inn, where I usually park," said hiker Becky Schmidt, her ragged fanny pack stocked with energy bars, water and a copy of Eat, Pray, Love. "There are some days I look back at my hike and think, 'God, I'd have died out there if it wasn't for that glorious, beautiful pair of dirty underwear.'"

"Two years ago," said Sam Gasteau, 34, of Chestnut Hill, "I was lost. I mean, completely lost. I wandered around for nearly 48 hours and then I came upon the underwear. I knew exactly where I was. I don't care how they got there and I don't really want to know, but that dirty pair of skivvies saved my life."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Southwest passenger claims luggage was covered in flies

Dallas, TX--Tyler Archer was the last one waiting. Then, he was the last one waiting by far. The architect from Boston had landed in New Hampshire's Manchester Airport after a week in Dallas for business. He glanced once more at his watch, or at least where it used to be, forgetting that the time piece was in the tardy checked baggage.

Then, with a loud thump, and just before making his way to the airline's customer service counter, the rolling luggage case came bursting down the chute of the baggage claim and halted against the stainless steel edge. What he witnessed instantly melted away the elation that the arrival of the leather bag had brought.

"I had been waiting almost 40 minutes at baggage, I was tired, I missed my wife and kids immensely and I just wanted to get home," said Archer. "The last thing I wanted was late luggage. But, the even more laster thing that I wanted was luggage that was covered in flies. That's why I fly Southwest ... to avoid this. This is unacceptable."

Archer claims that he grabbed the fly-covered bag off the belt, walked to Southwest Airlines' ticketing counter and said, "So, bags fly free, huh?" The ticketing agent responded, "That's correct sir. At Southwest, Bags Fly Free. It's our policy."

The agent was appalled when Archer showed her the bag and the staggering number of flies that were stuck to the sides, zippers, pockets and handles, some buzzing and hovering inches off the surface. She profusely apologized to the Beantown architect, who, along with his family, are headed anywhere Southwest flies for two weeks courtesy of the Texas-based airline.

"The cargo hold of a jetliner is filled with flies," said Dennis Toliver, a Southwest Airlines luggage technician. "We're not going to remove every single fly from a bag during every single flight. That's just a simple fact. When the marketing department consulted me about the 'Bags Fly Free' campaign, I said you guys are flippin' nuts. Yeah, I called the head marketing guy flippin' nuts. I'm a legend among the luggage guys now."

When Southwest launched their "Bags Fly Free" campaign in early 2009, competing airlines were floored by the announcement because of the shear number of insects that make their homes in the holds of most of the jetliners around the world--a fact that only a small percentage of the general public is aware of.

"It's not that the cargo luggage holds are unkempt," said Toliver. "It's just that the high altitudes combined with the unpressurized chambers are perfect breeding grounds for flies ... thousands of them. We do all we can to reduce that number and clean the luggage but it's a tough job. This is on top of getting the luggage to the cities that they are actually supposed to go."

Each airline around the world is required by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to "de-fly" each piece of luggage once removed from an aircraft. Under this FAA requirement, not all flies must be removed, but, at the very least, 96% must be taken off. Most of the flies that do survive the "de-flying" process usually end up dropping off on the multitude of conveyor belts, and the resulting jarring and shifting, that make up the entire subsurface baggage claim system, which is why only on occasion do passengers see the actual flies.

"For Southwest to come out and guarantee that bags fly free was really astonishing," said United Airlines' grounds crew supervising manager at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Jim Lakefield. "I mean, that's huge. That is guts right there. I demand the best from my crew here in Chicago when it comes to fly removal, but even I know we can't get them all."

"Yeah, one day I check my phone and it had, like, 30 messages on it," said Wayne Dranoff, baggage handler manager for Continental Airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. "Colleagues from around the country were calling to tell me about Southwest's bold 'Bags Fly Free' slogan. I was like, 'hot damn, that's bold.'"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eagles' owner says recent trip to Netherlands 'in no way influenced' stadium's new sustainable design

South Philadelphia, PA--The Eagles are green. Yes, the team features green uniforms and green stadium seating, has green grass and makes an awful lot of green on Sundays. The Eagles are also green by aggressively recycling, planting trees to offset emissions from flying to distant road games and utilizing biodegradable cups at the stadium's concessions.

However, now the team is going "fully" green. Already one of the most environmentally conscience teams in the league, the franchise is installing 350 Dutch-style windmills at Lincoln Financial Field--in the stands, on the roof, on the concourses and, unbelievably, on the field--to meet the venue's insatiable energy needs.

"Yes, I was in the Netherlands for two weeks in July. Yes, I saw plenty of windmills while I was there. And yes, I thought they would look really cool in Lincoln Financial Field. But, in no way did those windmills influence my recent design to make the stadium self sustainable," said Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie, at the press conference announcing the team's intention to be removed from the city's power grid in the near future.

After installation, the roar of the crowd may be diminished but for a good cause.

"We'll only be losing 5,000 or so seats to accommodate the new windmills," said Lurie. "It's worth the loss in revenue to get clean, renewable wind energy."

In addition to losing capacity, several seating areas will prohibit fans from standing during the game as windmill blades will pass inches overhead from a seated spectator. Even tall hats, high hairdo's and raising one's arms will be banned in certain sections.

"All the specifics are not finalized, but we thought that in the hotter months of the season and preseason that the windmills could also act as a cooling device for fans," said Joe Banner, Eagles' president. "Oh, by the way, I've never been to the Netherlands."

The NFL is behind the Eagles 100%, so much so that the windmills placed on the playing fields, approval Lurie thought they would never receive, was passed unanimously by the league's board.

"We're under some pressure right now to promote a more sustainable league," said Roger Goodell, the NFL's commissioner. "Losing minimal field space is really not that big of an issue. I would not let that be a deal breaker. As long as player collisions with windmills don't cause concussions, then I don't care."

The team will also be installing 1100 solar panels on the site that will power the windmills on non-windy days. On cloudy, windy days, the windmills will power the solar panels.

One of the design's critics, architect Sara Stevenson, says,"If this plan goes through, you can kiss those sweet-ass sight lines good bye. Can you say, 'Ba-bye sightlines?"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

After latest ratings report, NBC to finally cancel 'Undercover Ross'

Hollywood, CA--In 2009, NBC became very nervous when CBS unveiled a reality show that placed corporate executives undercover as "regular"employees within their own company. The peacock network knew they had to come up with a high quality product to lure viewers away from the hit CBS show Undercover Boss, which is crammed full of laughs, tears, empathy, high fives, low fives and awkward hugs. Their answer? Undercover Ross.

The premise? Actor David Schwimmer plays his popular character Ross Gellar from the hugely popular sitcom Friends and, well ... goes undercover. It appears NBC is still trying to squeeze all it can from the show about post-college 20-somethings living in New York that ran from 1994 to 2004.

When Undercover Ross debuted at the end of September this year, there was such promise for the show that was to run opposite Undercover Boss. Network executives salivated over what they thought could eventually be part of the Thursday-night lineup--its Must See TV. The network, however, seeing the latest Cooper-Sinclair television ratings released on Monday, officially canceled the show on Friday. What went so radically wrong?

"The problem with Undercover Ross, was that everyone knows David or Ross, whatever you want to call him," said TV critic Dennis Valmer, who just celebrated his fifteenth year with TV Guide. "So, it was really hard for him to go undercover. And he had absolutely no affiliation with the companies he claimed to be working for. He couldn't say that he was really somebody's boss. It just didn't make a lot of sense."

Schwimmer, despite severe allergies to most prosthetic facial hair adhesives, sports a fake mustache or beard and pretends to be a new employee at a well-known large company. At the conclusion of every episode the star of the 1996 film Pallbearer (a hit in Manitoba, Canada) was to reveal himself by saying: "Hey, guys. My name isn't really Adam. And I'm actually not a coworker of yours, I'm Ross from Friends."

The unanticipated glitch in Undercover Ross was that in most episodes Schwimmer is almost always quickly identified by the unfooled employees before the end of the show. In fact, he is frequently called out within the first ten minutes. This forced NBC to air the first five shows all in the same hour-long premier.

"We actually approached David with the idea," said NBC executive Janice Levinson, attempting to correct reports that it was the other way around. "He was on board right away, but wanted to tweak the premise a bit. He wanted to call it Undercover Sauce and have it be a sort of cooking show that served terrible spaghetti sauce to unsuspecting restaurant customers. After careful consideration, we said no."

"Things have been a little slow recently and I thought this would be a great opportunity," said Schwimmer, who was preparing for a golf outing with the cast of Friends. "I think if I wore a wig or one of those giant fat suits and some major makeup ... things could have ended differently. I just didn't want to do any of that stuff."

In case you were curious, the final episode of Undercover Ross will air this Sunday at 3 a.m. NBC warns not to wear the 3-D glasses they handed out for the event as they are faulty.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Report: Sign made McNabb very uncomfortable, wished Shanahan never repeatedly pointed it out

Eagles' fans thinking playoffs and that some pets are just more difficult than others

Washington, DC--The Eagles had a record-setting game in the nation's capital last night by putting up 59 points and watching their all-the-sudden prolific quarterback throw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, run for 80 yards and score two more touchdowns on the ground.

Eagles fans, some who pulled away from the team last year after a controversial addition to the team, were definitely tuned in last night, pumped about the future and soft about the QB's past.

"Listen, I haven't watched an Eagles' game since they signed Vick last year," said Fred Miller, 47, a fan from Lansdale, PA. "But, I think after last night, I realize that owning a pet can be quite the responsibility and that some dogs are more difficult than others."

"I felt like I really started sympathizing with Vick on the first play from scrimmage last night when he hit [DeSean] Jackson with that long pass for, like, 88 yards or something," said Doylestown's Hank Stevenson, 56, lightly petting his golden lab GreenFeathers that was laying on the customized dog mat positioned on top of a leather reclining chair. "At the end of the first quarter I said to myself, 'Hank, you really have been hard on Michael. Hank, you HAVE been hard on Michael.'"

"Yeah, I was boycotting," said Eagles diehard Sarah Farnsworth of Unionville, PA. "I own two beautiful golden retrievers, which I love to death, but they can be a handful. Like, for example, last night during the game one of them got up onto the couch. I had to say, 'Please, get down off the couch.' Twice! Pets are a lot to handle sometimes."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Philadelphia Sixems? Desperate for revenue, Eastern Mountain Sports to sponsor fledgling team

Philadelphia, PA--Until now, most of North America's major professional sports leagues have avoided placing direct advertising on players' jerseys. Instead, leagues like the NFL and NBA have opted for more game-interrupting television commercials than to "ruin the integrity of the game." This long run of pristine uniforms, however, is about to come to an abrupt end.

With thousands of empty seats in the Wells Fargo Center during each Sixers' home game and perennially looking up at all the teams in the Atlantic Division standings, the 76ers, with approval of the National Basketball Association, have accepted a large sum of money from Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), a New Hampshire-based outdoor apparel and recreation equipment retailer, to display the company's logo, and, at the same time, change the name of the team.

The club will officially change its name to the Philadelphia 76ems, or Sixems, tomorrow during a news conference.

"All that we're really doing is replacing the 'r' with an 'm'," said Debra Papadakis, the Sixems president of marketing. "It's pronounced just like it's spelled: Six-ems. Not Six-e-m-s, but Sixems. It's kind of catchy. Go Sixems!"

"Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do," said Sixems head coach, Doug Collins. "I will always bleed Sixems red, white and blue."

"I've been a huge Sixems fan my whole life," said Doug Glonovich, 57, from Marcus Hook, PA, sporting a new camping headlamp. "If this deal means that winning ways are just over the horizon, than I'm all for it. Let EMS light up the way."

The league has been concerned for years about the direction of this once storied franchise that hasn't captured a championship since 1983, but has had such greats as Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Bobby Jones, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson, to name a few, wear the red, white and blue (or, sadly, gold and black).

"The Sixems are a struggling franchise right now," said NBA Commissioner David Stern, donning a North Face Men's Nuptse Down Jacket inside a climate-controled conference room at the league's headquarters in New York. "In fact, this jacket has high loft goose down, which has a longer lifespan than most synthetic insulations. Not to mention, the miniripstop 50-denier nylon shell coupled with the double-layer taffeta on the shoulders for abrasion resistance."

The commissioner appeared truly concerned about the sad state of the club as his press conference continued. "This parka features a straighter yoke across the chest and a markedly improved, more flattering fit. It conveniently has a taffeta emergency hood and sports an internal zip stow pocket."

Emotions, surprisingly, started flowing from the league's headman as he paused for nearly a minute, gathering himself at the podium. "This jacket also has two hand pockets, velcro adjustable cuff tabs, hem cinch-cord and is zip-in compatible with many TNF shells. It thrives in cold weather conditions and is made with 700-fill goose down."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Indonesia's Frank Sumatra performs concert for Obamas, First Family cutting trip short

Jakarta, Indonesia--The international tour continued this week for the Obamas with a stop in this culturally rich nation of more than 230 million people. The President, who had a certain spring in his step, was returning to the land where he lived for four years as a child.

After an extravagant welcome by Indonesian government officials, celebrities and local students, President Obama and the First Lady were treated to an intimate concert in the capital of this nation that is made up of more than 10,000 islands. One of these welcoming celebrities, and the concert's main event, was the infinitely-popular Frank Sumatra, the country's lone Frank Sinatra impersonator.

"It was a ... lovely concert. I was told this was to be a traditional Indonesian concert," said Obama, appearing somewhat confused at what he had just witnessed. "I don't think it was. But I'm not sure. I've never really ever heard that rendition of "New York, New York." But, I guess I just did."

After the concert, Michelle Obama was asked by the intense media horde, which were not permitted inside the concert hall, if Sumatra performed his most popular song.

"Oh, yes. I think he did," said the First Lady, showing her warm, welcoming smile somewhat nervously, unsure how to answer the query. "He performed 'My Way' for his last song of the night. Let's just say ... he definitely did it his way. Yes, his way indeed."

"Frank Sumatra can't walk down a street in Indonesia," said Budi Chahaya, 45, a longtime fan of Sumatra's from the city of Bandung, who traveled to the capital to get a glimpse of the impersonator. "And I don't mean because of his hip. I heard he was coming to Jakarta and I had to come. He's rarely seen in public. Thank you Mr Obama for bringing Frank Sumatra out into the public. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Sumatra was born Pramana Setiawan in Penengahan on the island of Sumatra, which is just across the fifteen-mile strait that separates Sumatra from the island of Java. The singer has always been very secretive about his age, but some have speculated that he is approximately 82 years old. He rarely does interviews and lives in an undisclosed suburb of the enormous metropolis that is Jakarta.

As a young child, Pramana and his mother would take the ferry to Jakarta to the movie theaters and karaoke halls where the future singer would hear his first Sinatra song "My Way." The youngster was hooked.

In his 2004 autobiography His Way, Sumatra said he always dreamed of performing alongside Sinatra one day, but, sadly, it wasn't meant to be. In the Jakarta Times bestseller, Sumatra concludes the 467-page book with this line: "Looking back, I'd like to think I did it his way. Yeah ... his way."

The President announced immediately following the concert that his trip to Indonesia would unfortunately have to be cut short because of the erupting Mount Merapi volcano and the ash and magma that could possibly prevent a departure on the originally scheduled date.

"Sadly, we have to leave. Now!" said Obama at the post-concert news conference, forcing a smile and a half-hearted wave. "This volcano is getting bad, I think. There's a volcano that's erupting, right? Somewhere? Great, here comes Frank. Michelle, please get your coat we have to go. Can somebody get Michelle's coat. Is the car out front? Is it running?"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Reid denies any involvement in choosing, designing Jackson's new 'concussion-proof' helmet

Eagles' head coach Andy Reid was stone-faced in front of members of the media when he unveiled wide receiver DeSean Jackson's new "concussion-proof" helmet during a press conference yesterday at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia. Three weeks ago, Jackson took a devastating hit from Atlanta Falcons' cornerback Dunta Robinson that resulted in a severe concussion and an absence the following week from the Titans game.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that the coach had Ridell, the company that makes the majority of NFL helmets, join forces with Nabisco, the Texas-based snack food company, to specially design a new state-of-the-art protective head gear for the third-year star out of California.

"Listen guys," mumbled a pretzel-eating Reid, somewhat annoyingly after a sixth reporter asked if the coach was in any way involved in the helmet design or choice. "For the last time, I don't get in to all that stuff. That's something that our expert equipment guys take care of. I'm out of that decision process. I have lots of faith in them. I am, however, very worried about his health. I told DeSean that I want him to be protected as best he can from future Doritos, er, concussions. This is serious stuff. I also want him standing next to me on the sideline during all future games. He's not to be out of arms reach of me whenever he's on the sideline. If I walk onto the field to talk to a ref, he walks onto the field to talk to a ref. In fact, I don't know if he'll play another down this year. That's how serious this is. I'm just looking out for DeSean. Does that answer your question? Just enjoy the dip, man."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Airbus screening all calls with Australia, Singapore country code; Qantas gets clever, uses Canadian passenger's cell phone

Blagnac, France--Earlier today, Qantas, the Australian-based airline, grounded all A380 superjumbo-jets in its fleet, which are made by the French company Airbus, after one of the plane's engines burst into flames soon after takeoff and was forced to return and make an emergency landing back in Singapore.

After the incident, Qantas repeatedly attempted to contact Airbus, with no success, regarding the performance and overall safety of all active A380's, including other airlines around the world. The jumbo-jetliner, which features two full-sized racquetball courts on the upper floor, a 100-yard driving range on the bottom level and a small children's amusement park in the middle, experienced long delays during its production when it made its debut nearly two years ago.

"I kept calling and calling and there was no answer in France," said Lyle Murray, the longtime Qantas executive from his office in Sydney just before leaving for Singapore to check on crew and passengers. "It was like they were screening our calls. After we called, I had the Melbourne office call and they couldn't get through either. Then I had the Brisbane and Singapore office call. No answer or straight to voice mail. Something was fishy."

So frustrated was the airline that the pilot of flight QF32, the jetliner forced to land early, made an announcement over the Singapore airport's intercom asking to borrow a cell phone not registered in Australia or Singapore as "apparently Airbus is screening our calls." The veteran pilot had an idea.

"This lovely retired Canadian couple came forward and said that could use their phone but that we had to pay the international charges associated with the call ... and they wanted two free tickets anywhere Qantas flies. It was a little steep but I agreed," said senior Qantas pilot of QF32, Paul Owens. "When I called France with their phone, guess what? I got through right away. Once Airbus knew it was Qantas calling they tried to use the old 'you're breaking up' excuse, but I called their bluff. They quickly put me through to the top."

The French company panicked when the pilot so cleverly got through to its headquarters, but couldn't stall any longer.

"I was under strict orders to let all calls with the +61 and +65 country codes go right to voice mail or just not answer them," said a stale-baguette-waving Laurielle Juneau, head of the Airbus call center in Lyon, which was moved back from India a year and a half ago. "Then I get this call with Canada's country code, so I answered it ... thinking it was a customer with a general question. It was supposed to be Tom Hearn of Windsor, Ontario. Well played Qantas, well played indeed."

It was later reported that Airbus was refusing Qantas calls because there was only one day left of the warranty for all A380 jumbo-jetliners the airline had purchased. Airbus would neither confirm nor deny this report but said "they just needed more time to do some stuff."

As far as the onboard experience during the ordeal in the sky, one passenger praised the pilot's work at keeping the 433 aboard calm and collected.

"The fire was on the left wing and Captain Owens, smart as he is, just kept telling us to look out the right side of the jet," said Gail Thomas, 45, of Adelaide, South Australia, returning home from a business trip. "He kept saying, 'There's nothing to see to the left so just keep looking right and you can just make out the volcano on Java's north coast. I couldn't see any volcano or maybe he was just making it up. I mean, I didn't know until we landed that we lost an engine because I kept looking out the right side. Even the people on the left were looking out the right side. He said we had to return to Singapore because he thought he left the toaster oven on in the Captain's lounge. He's good.

Notes: There were no reported injuries, but many passengers appeared frustrated that there is no 'u' in Qantas. The airline had no comment.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Toomey calls Sestak's 'Pat Poopey' ads 'outrageously childish and immature'

Harrisburg, PA--The race for the U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania had some fuel added to the fire when a last minute attack ad by Joe Sestak, the democratic nominee, aired across the state last night. The political advertisement, which lasted just over 20 seconds, shows only the above image of Pat Toomey, the republican nominee, while a monotone voice repeats over and over, "Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey, Pat Poopey. Pat Toomey? No, Pat Poopey. Paid for by Joe Sestak for U.S. Senate." This morning, Toomey was at a loss for words when reporters approached the U.S. House Representative, who was on his way to vote, about the ad. "I was shocked. I ... I, um ..." Toomey said, then gathered his thoughts. "Joe Sescrap is a real class act. I didn't know Joe Sescrap was so clever. I will say that Joe Sescrap's ads are outrageously childish and immature and highly offensive. Joe Sescrap you are a real winner. We'll see how today goes, Joe Sescrap. Joe Sescrap."

Spectrum statues to be relocated in front of planned mall Sunglass Hut

Above: A rendering of the new location of the Spectrum's statues at PhillyLive!'s future Sunglass Hut.

South Philadelphia--As preparation for the demolition of the Spectrum continues, workers removed the bronze statues around the outside of the hallowed arena on Friday with the help of cranes and straps. Among the works of art being relocated are the Kate Smith statue, Julius Erving statue and the "Score" statue--a tribute to Gary Dornhoefer's 1973 goal against the Minnesota North Stars. Yesterday, it was announced that a new location for the metal likenesses had been chosen. Philly Live! (pictured below), the new shopping and entertainment venue planned for the site, recently reached a lease agreement with Sunglass Hut, the world's largest sunglasses store which can be found in most malls and airports around the globe. "This economy is tough," said Ed Snider, Chairman of Comcast Spectacor, tears streaming from under his new black-framed sunglasses. "To bring tenants into Philly Live! we have to go the extra mile. As part of the contract, Sunglass Hut requested that the statues, which are all near and dear to my heart, be positioned in front of the new store once completed. Is this the ideal location? No, but we need to fill these commercial spaces." The eyewear company is foreseeing thousands of photos being taken by visiting fans of the statues with the store in the background, which, they hope, will act as free advertising.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ride the Ducks seeks access to city's fountains

Above: A Duck boat splashes into the fountain in Rittenhouse Square during a test run of a proposed idea that would permit the sightseeing amphibious vehicles to regularly use the small collections of water.

Philadelphia, PA--The following could possibly be overheard at many of Center City's crowded parks come the spring: "Mommy, the penny I just threw in the fountain was just run over by that big boat-truck thingy, does that mean my wish won't come true? Honey, I can't hear you over the quacking whistles, you'll have to speak louder."

The Ride the Ducks sightseeing amphibious vehicles have been missing from Philadelphia since the tragic accident on July 7 that claimed the lives of two Hungarian tourists after a collision with a barge on the Delaware River. Despite this, the company is forecasting a March 2011 return to the waters that does not include either the Schuylkill or the Delaware Rivers.

If not the rivers, then where? Well, if the company and city have there way, how about the plethora of ornate fountains that often center many of our urban parks?

"We want to put the amphib back in amphibious," said Carl Baker, a Philadelphia Ride the Ducks representative. "We've been out of operation these past several months and we're itching to get back on the city's waterways. Plus, it would only be the larger fountains ... and a handful of smaller ones and really small ones."

That's right, move over pennies, watch out swimming residents and heads up to those gathered along the fountains' edges, Ride the Ducks could be your new neighbor.

The Georgia-based company has made it clear that they will cover all costs to retrofit fountains to accommodate its bulky fleet. If a fountain is too small, for example in Fitler Square, Ride the Ducks will call for a redesign, and, in some cases, bring in entirely new fountains, so that a Duck can fit and make several "comfortable" laps.

"The depth of the fountains is really our main concern right now," said Vince Buster, vice president of the Greater Philadelphia Office of Tourism and Marketing, who is strongly backing the plan. "The average water depth of a fountain in the city is 1.4 feet, which is well below the 6.1 feet required for a Duck boat to float. As we found out last week during the test runs, the Ducks are more driving through the fountain water than cruising. So, is it really a true amphibious tour of the city? I don't know how to answer that."

Don't look for skate boards to return any time soon to Love Park, but do keep your eyes out for Ride the Ducks in the popular fountain in the middle of the bustling downtown square. Also, the company has requested that the dyeing of the fountain's water, which has become hugely popular in recent years, be halted out of "fear of staining the amphibious vehicles' white hulls."

City officials were excited about the idea of large, noisy vehicles climbing and descending small ramps and plunging into the historic works of art.

"When I heard the idea," said Valorie Strohman, an adviser to Mayor Michael Nutter, "I pictured me and my family quacking away with the Wacky Quacker whistles as the Duck vehicle splashed into the fountain at Logan Circle. What a great learning experience that would be for the kids. Plus, it'd be loads of fun."

For the proposed idea to be approved, it is believed that Ride the Ducks must provide the mayor and members of City Council with an "endless supply of quacking whistles." This could be a deal breaker for a company who has a patent not only on the Wacky Quackers themselves but their sound as well.

"I don't know about shelling out an endless supply of Wacky Quackers," said Baker. "That's a little steep. We're kind of funny when it comes to our whistles, but we'd be more than happy to give one per councilperson ... and a coupon for a Chic-fil-A sandwich. However, not all Chic-fil-A's are participating."

Above: A Duck boat enters the Love Park fountain last week during a test run. The vehicle was coated with a special lubricant so that the fountain's dye would not discolor the hull.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

James, Wade, Bosh confused, thought Heat games would use 3 basketballs

Boston, MA--Last night, the Miami Heat and their big three--LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh--lost, quite surprisingly, to the Celtics, 88-80. After the game, the three stars complained about the fact that there was only one basketball used during play. "I thought they were joking when they started the game with only one jump ball," said Chris Bosh. "I was expecting three separate jump balls at the same time. Pat [Riley] said that if all three of us signed in Miami, all Heat games would utilize three basketballs, even during the regular season. This is some bull#%&*." The two other stars agreed and said they have been practicing all summer and fall using three basketballs in scrimmages and the preseason. "Tonight," James said after the disappointing loss,"there just were not enough basketballs to go around. Hopefully this is taken care of before the next game because I've been working on this crazy dunk where I use all three balls."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Phils to send Brian Wilson carpet cleaning bill after champagne washes away beard dye

Above: The visiting clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park is marred by a black stain on the carpet that was discovered in the early morning hours on Sunday following the Giant's game six NLCS victory and the champagne celebration that ensued. A member of the maintenance staff came across the blemish and made several attempts to remove it before calling 911. Giants' closer Brian Wilson, who admittedly colors his facial hair jet black, is being blamed for ruining the $40,000 carpet, which has been signed by every opposing player that has passed through the room. In addition, the team has spent over $1000 in cleaning bills that they say Wilson is responsible for. Beard dye, according to the Just For Men website, washes right off when exposed to large, prolonged doses of cheap champagne. "They have no proof that it was me," said Wilson, sporting a light brown beard.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Phils loss brings up old debate: Should NLCS be best-of-fifteen or even best-of-seventeen?

Above: Ryan Howard reacts after striking out to end the game and the NLCS, while the Giants celebrate in the background. Afterwards, Howard said all the Phillies needed was a "few more games and they could have pulled it out." For years, Major League Baseball has toyed with the idea of making the NLCS a best-of-fifteen or even seventeen. Television networks have long called for a policy to adjust the best-of format on the fly to assist the team that would bring the best ratings in the World Series. "If we had our way," said Dennis Graham of Fox Sports, "the Phils and Giants would have played game 7 on Sunday night because the series would have been changed to a best-of-nine format. If the Phillies lost that one, it would have gone to a best-of-eleven."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Future field trespasser putting lots of faith into jet pack

Media, PA--A crumpled up piece of paper ricocheted off the rim of the gray, steel Ikea trash can and landed on the burgundy rug, startling the curled up black lab napping in the corner. The ball of blue-lined, 3-holed paper was not alone, it lay in a field of red surrounded by identical scrapped ideas.

Bill C. Turner, 23, is a fifth-year senior at Swarthmore College majoring in mathematics. Though the college is in the heart of the fall semester, which means midterm time, Turner is not studying for his exams, rather, he is preparing for a test of a whole different kind.

The Delaware County native is a diehard Phillies fan and has been planning for weeks to show his allegiance and support of the team by leaving his seat in the fourth inning of an upcoming home playoff game, hopping over the railing and running onto the field. However, Turner feels that his venture onto the grass will end much, much differently than those before him.

"I was devising a plan to actually run onto the field at Citizens Bank Park, avoid security for a length of time and escape," explained Turner about the countless paper balls on the floor and the pencil sketches on the inside. "I kept coming back to the same solution: the jet pack."

What lay on the floor were calculations, including square roots, standard deviations, arc lengths, arm flapping rate per second, fuel weight volume, bungee cord diameters, miniature helicopter torque specs, lift-power of 1200 pigeons, a Domino's Pizza phone number, trajectory predictions and lots of stick figures.

Because fans running onto the field are prosecuted, Turner would not give his middle name or reveal the town where Swarthmore College is located.

"Ever since the tasing incident," said Turner about the teenage fan that was tasered by police earlier this season for coming onto the field of play, "I thought there had to be a better way. You know? I mean, does fan trespassing always have to end in arrest? Can't people just run onto the field and then ... fly away?"

Turner plans to somehow bring a small jet pack--covered with Red Bull advertising-- into the stadium under a large Phillies parka. He admits that the the personal flying device will slow him down once on the field, but, after liftoff, hopes to hover just out of reach of security before taking a "victory flight" around the base paths and eventually exiting the facility by flying over the outfield Liberty Bell.

"And, who knows, I might even make a return flight to Ashburn Alley in the late innings. All that jet packing could make me hungry."

Giants' pitcher refuses to alter unorthodox follow through, says 'it is what it is'

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'Terror Behind the Balls?': Local haunted house actors tease coworker about severe jock odor

Fairmount, Philadelphia--Tony Luprin, 29, looks forward every year to the Halloween season, the Francesville resident claims that he actually begins to lose sleep with anticipation by late August. Luprin's restlessness grows from his excitement as a local actor who takes part in "Terror Behind the Walls," the castle-like Eastern State Penitentiary's annual haunted house.

His specific role varies each year, but in the past he has portrayed a deranged inmate, wounded prison guard and a chainsaw-wheeling doctor.

The harrowing event spans September, October and November and has been ranked the country's number one haunted house several times, and helps financially support this National Historic Landmark in the neighborhood just north of Center City.

Luprin is well-known among his Penitentiary coworkers for his dramatic portrayals of the characters he plays, but he is also known among them for another reason.

"Last year, I was partnered with him in the haunted 3-D room for a couple nights and it just became too much," said coworker Paul Donnemiller, 41, of Brewerytown about Luprin's severe jock odor. "I had to get reassigned. I couldn't do it. That guy's jock odor is ripe."

The actor claims to have a perfectly good explanation for this odor.

"I'm a runner, I play soccer and I bike all over the city," explained Luprin. "So, yeah, I get sweaty. Honestly, I don't notice the smell at all, but I guess it's a lot like living next to a noisy highway or elevated train: you get used to it. It's not like I don't bathe. Although, sometimes I go right to work from a soccer game. So yeah, sometimes I don't bathe."

The actor's hygienic problem has earned him the nickname "Terror Behind the Balls." At first, it was a name that was used strictly behind his back--a kind of "quiet everyone, here comes Terror Behind the Balls"-type situation. But he soon learned of the name and had no hard feelings.

"Yeah, we call him 'Terror Behind the Balls.' I actually came up with it," said Jessica Houser. "I think in a weird way he kind of likes being called that. In fact, he doesn't really answer to Tony anymore."

Some have said that the haunted house's number one ranking could be partly due to Luprin's frightening jock odor.

"We like to tease Tony, but it's all in good fun," said Sarah Glastone, 33, who uses a nightstick to bang on cell door bars as unsuspecting visitors to the haunted house pass by. "But, seriously dude, you gotta do something about that jock odor. You're scaring the crap out of the visitors."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Obnoxious Giants fan quiets down after learning heartbreaking Golden Gate Bridge fact

San Francisco, CA--The Walt Whitman Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge? Though you can't see either from AT&T Park, nestled on the east side of the city, home to over 800,000, the two structures were at the center of a drunken tirade spanning (pun intended) several innings during Game 3 of the NLCS.

Damon Fullerton, a rabid Giants fan from Daly City, CA, is considered by most in AT&T Park's section 234, where the computer programmer has season tickets down the left field line, to be somewhat of a loud mouth.

"We're all Giants' fans, so we tolerate Damon," said Debbie McGeckrin, also a season ticket holder two rows behind Fullerton. "He's knows his stuff, but he really likes to get under the skin of the opposing team's fans with stats ... on all subjects. Sometimes he has some really good zingers. He's a Northeast baseball fan that happened to be born in San Fransisco."

Yesterday, the atmosphere of the second round of the MLB playoffs put Fullerton into a rare mood and his fellow Giants' supporters were loving it.

"Hey, section 234, did you know that Philadelphia's Walt Whitman Bridge is the 46th longest suspension bridge in the world," shouted a standing Fullerton, so the handful of earshot Phillies fans could hear. "Pretty impressive, right? Well, maybe, until you realize that the Golden Gate Bridge is the 9th longest. Sucks to be you Philly."

The surrounding crowd, fired up after just taking a 2-0 lead in the game, gave a big round of applause to this factoid thrown at them, unsolicited, by the beer-toting man draped in orange and performing the sprinkler dance. The cheering seemed to encourage Fullerton, as you could see the gears were slowly moving inside his baseball-capped head.

"Hey, section 234," again yelled the father of two, this time getting a 'hey what' in return from the all-the-sudden attentive fans. "Did you know that the City of Brotherly Shove's Ben Franklin Bridge is the 57th longest in the world? They can really build 'em out there, huh? Oh, but wait, this just in: the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is the 37th longest. Wow, sorry again Filth-adelphia."

Again, most of the nearby sections cheered, and, when the clapping and whistling died down, a response was issued.

"Hey, buddy!" shouted Frank Cohen, 44, a mechanical engineer for Boeing in Delaware County, PA, wearing a Ryan Howard jersey while following his Fightin's on the road. "The Golden Gate Bridge has 68,000 tons of Bethlehem Steel. That's Bethlehem, PA, you asshole! That's Phillies' country. Sprinkler on that."

Fullerton, who had no immediate comeback and appeared to be in a state of disbelief over this fact, was bright red with embarrassment, quickly sat down and vented his steam by finishing off several Anchor Steam beers. Three innings later, he was ready with a rebuttal.

"Hey, to that Philly guy who said that stuff about my bridge that's mine. You don't know anything at all you don't know," slurred Fullerton, unable to stand without the support of a nearby fan's shoulder. "What'd they do? They send it by boat across the country on a train? What'd they do? Answer me wherever you are. They get a boat and drive through the Panamanian Canal? Canal. Can Al help me sit down?"

The stumbling Giant fan was on to something. The steel for the iconic bridge was, in fact, shipped from the east coast, south through the Panama Canal and to San Francisco. Only at a baseball game!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Phillies, ballpark bracing for kayak inundation in Ashburn Alley

Above: Citizens Bank Park directors hired a Philadelphia Police Photoshop specialist to show what Ashburn Alley could look like over the weekend when the Giants come to town for games 1 and 2 of the NLCS. The kayakers could cause problems in the Alley.

South Philadelphia--Hank Blaylock gave a long sigh on Monday night after Miguel Cabrera grounded out to third base ending the Braves season and sending the San Francisco Giants into the NLCS, a date with the Phillies, for the first time since 2002.

Blaylock is executive director of Ashburn Alley, the mega-popular promenade just beyond the outfield seating sections in Citizens Bank Park named for the talented and one of the most well-liked Phillies' players and announcers of all time, Richie Ashburn. The brick-paved walk reaches capacity throughout the game as it is lined with food concessions that makes it a Philadelphia cuisine lover's paradise.

"Why did I sigh on Monday night?" repeated a wide-eyed Blaylock at an NLCS news conference in Center City, yesterday. "Because they're coming. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it."

Blaylock, somewhat surprisingly, is referring to the many Giants fans that will make the trip eastward from California to Philadelphia to follow their local nine on the road during this playoff run. These orange-clad fans from a great baseball town on the tip of a peninsula are not particularly known for being rowdy or obnoxious, so why all the concern?

"Kayaks!" interrupted Shane Deloitte, Blaylock's assistant. "They love their kayaks out there in San Fran. Always paddling around McCovey Cove and what not. Yeah, in those lousy kayaks. They're going to bring those bulky, plastic floating masses with them right onto Ashburn Alley and there ain't nothin' we can do about it."

It is true, Citizens Bank Park has no policy specifically prohibiting kayaks from entering the stadium. In fact, only two Major League clubs have banned the personal recreation watercraft: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics. These two franchises, one a division rival and the other just across the Bay, grew tired of having to accommodate visiting Giants' fans and the accompanying kayaks. Before banning them all together, the A's set a maximum of 5.5 ft per "anything that floats." This, after fans were caught riding down the stairs of the upper deck.

"My advice to Blaylock and his staff: cater to the kayakers as best you can," said San Diego's PetCo Park fan relations director Tony Rosenburg, who has plenty of experience with the backers from the City by the Bay. "If you start banning them from this part of the stadium and that part of the stadium or the parking lots, then you're going to really agitate and provoke them. You don't want to see a drunk, life jacket-wearing Giants' fan in a sea of red swinging a kayak and shouting:'Nobody criticizes our cable cars.'"

The Phillies said they will not close off any areas of the stadium, despite Blaylock's concerns over limited space on all the concourse areas. The team is also permitting kayaks to gather on the sidewalks and streets surrounding the ballpark, with the highest numbers expected on 10th St beyond the outfield seats and Ashburn Alley.

Above: San Francisco hosted the MLB All-Star Game in 2007. The weekend's events brought kayakers from all over the Bay Area to McCovey Cove in an effort to catch or recover a home run ball that cleared the right field stands. These kayakers are expected in Philadelphia this weekend in large numbers--inside the stadium.