Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Corbett sinks low, attacks Onorato's nonexistant brother

Above: A clip from a recent Tom Corbett attack ad, where the Pennsylvania republican gubernatorial candidate criticizes Dan Onorato's "brother."

Philadelphia, PA--A new attack ad by Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett has, surprisingly, in this 24-hour news era, broken new ground in Pennsylvania politics. Corbett, Pennsylvania Attorney General, signed off on a television ad that exclusively targeted his opponent's brother.

His opponent, Dan Onorato, Allegheny County Cheif Executive, secured the Democratic primary in the spring after emerging from a very competitive field. The Penn State alum, born in 1961, is the fourth of five children.

According to the television commercial, which was shown across the state beginning last night, Onorato's brother, Colin Onorato, ran for governor of Colorado four years ago, using the slogan,"Colin Onorato for Colorado."

The ad declares: "Colin Onorato for Colorado? Yes, that's right. Colin Onorato for Colorado. Colin Colorato for Onorado? That's quite the tongue-twister, wouldn't you agree? In 2006, Colin Onorato, Dan Onorato's brother, ran for governor of Colorado with this more-than-difficult campaign slogan. Can Pennsylvanians afford a governor who is associated with such a disorienting tongue-twister? Try to say Colin Onorato for Colorado three or four times quickly. It's not easy. But Dan Onorato certainly thinks it is. Dan appeared alongside his brother in Denver and was caught on tape stumbling over the slogan at several pep rallies. Wow, Dan. Wow! Tom Corbett for Pennsylvania. Not so difficult, huh? This message was approved by Tom Corbett. Tom Corbett for Governor."

There is, however, one minor problem with the ads. Dan Onorato, who hails from the North Side of Pittsburgh, has no brother named Colin. The Corbett campaign fabricated Colin and his bid for Colorado governor in 2006.

"I don't have a brother named Colin, simple as that," protested Onorato from his home in Brighton Heights in Allegheny County, smiling at the throng of reporters. "This is a completely made up story. Even if I did have a brother Colin, who ran for governor of Colorado, he would have probably used the slogan: Colin Onorato, making the Centennial State better for all. If I know my fake brother like I think I do, he wouldn't have been so ignorant as to use Colin Onorato for Colorado."

Some residents were stunned by the ads, unaware the brother was a creation of the Corbett campaign. "Yes, it's a terrible and difficult tongue-twister, but does Corbett really need to go digging that up? I mean, it's seems desperate," said Kelly Ruggerio of Altoona. "I'm sure Colin wants to put that behind him."

"You can't penalize someone for their name and how they use it in a slogan," said Hazleton resident Kevin Clonovich. "I like Tom, but that just wasn't right."

Others were thankful of the warning. "I had made my mind up a long time ago," said John Hamilton, in town for a business trip from Erie, PA. "I was going with Onorato. Now, there's no way I can vote for him. Maybe if his brother ran for office in, oh, I don't know ... Tennessee."

When told Onorato had no brother named Colin, Hamilton responded, "Yeah, but still. I can't vote for someone whose brother confused the tongues of millions of people from Colorado."

"I once heard Colin do a speech in Uniontown, PA," said Cliff Dunegan, a registered Republican of the same town. "He had a lot of attitude or something. I can't vote for the brother of that guy. No way!"

Corbett declined to be interviewed for this article. His assistant campaign manager, however, was asked about the strategy of completely making up a relative in order to bring down an opponent: "There's no proof that Colin Onorato, or his Colorado gubernatorial campaign, doesn't exist. I don't know if I can explain that any better."

Onorato plans to air a response ad that informs Pennsylvanians that he has no brother Colin. In addition, the Onorato team plans to air an ad that calls out Tom Corbett's "brother" Corey. Apparently, Corey Corbett ran for mayor of Coral Gables in the recent past.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Belgian beer war heats up as Police rule last month's bus crash 'no accident'

Philadelphia, PA--Philadelphia Police have determined that the SEPTA bus crash that took place back on August 10 was not an accident and is apparently an escalation of the "friendly" Belgian beer war that has been ongoing for several years in Center City.

On that night, a passenger-less transit bus, avoiding a parked PATCO vehicle, swerved and jumped the curb, crashing into the side of Monk's Belgian Beer Cafe at 16th and Spruce Streets, one of the city's most popular restaurant/bars. At the time, it was perfectly clear to witnesses and those directly involved that this was simply an accident.

Police, who had all but closed the investigation, however, became suspicious after an anonymous note, dropped at Police headquarters sometime in the past three days, mentioned Tad's Tavern of Belgian Beers, located at 27th and Lombard Streets.

The note read: "Septa bus crash: You didn't hear this from me, but talk to Tad down at Tad's Tavern of Belgian Beers. Tad will break if you threaten his beer bottle collection. Yeah, mention how you like to smash priceless Belgian beer bottles. (wink, wink) Tad'll get real uncomfortable if you mention the bottles."

"Tad's is a Belgian bar and Monks is a Belgian bar," said Detective Gregory Finn. "We didn't see the connection at first, then, after doing some late night under cover work at each establishment, the connection was crystal clear. That, and the anonymous tip. The Belgian beer war just got turned up a notch as these bars are flexing their ... mussels."

The city offers the best selection of Belgian beers in the nation and the bars that make this possible, admittedly, have fun with the competition and camaraderie that comes along with it.

"Philly has the best Belgian beer scene in the country and there is definitely competition between all the bars to be the best," said Daniel Van Glun, manager of The Philly Belgian, a bar on Schuylkill Ave and Webster St. "Sure, we play jokes on each other, like placing waffles in random corners of a rival bar. Or discreetly hanging pictures of Jean Claude Van Damme karate-kinking a piece of chocolate, but ... well, crashing buses is serious stuff."

Tad's Tavern had recently been ranked dead last among the city's Belgian watering holes. It is believed that Tad's Tavern of Belgian Beers paid off the bus driver to "take Monk's out of the picture for a few months." The bar, however, only closed for four days while repairs were made to the front and the building was determined to be structurally sound. Police would not confirm or deny that Tad had similar plans for the other Belgian bars in the elite fraternity.

The driver of the bus reportedly broke under the interrogation of police and confirmed that, indeed, Tad had been responsible for planning the "accident."

"Apparently, Tad had been really pestering this poor guy to do his dirty work," said Lt Frank Greeley about the driver. "Tad is a real piece of work."

Those affiliated with Monk's were in shock after Police broke the news yesterday.

"I couldn't believe that Tad was responsible. Am I going to retaliate against Tad? Well, honestly, I don't condone this kind of violence," said Monk's owner Harry Kilmer. "But, if SEPTA regional rail trains could travel on streets ..."

"Tad is going away for a long, long time," said Monk's bartender Kevin Tyler, "But now I'll have to talk more about the bus crash for a long, long time. I love our customers, but I'm growing so tired of talking about that crash. Thanks Tad."

"Tad just never got it. Whenever Tad and I would hang out and have a couple beers, he would always talk about the week that he spent in Bruges [Belgium] back in '97," said hostess Kimberly Borden. "He would always say that he 'lived' in Belgium for a week. Tad's a good guy, but he just didn't get it."

John Triplehorn, Tad's lawyer, issued this statement: "My client, Tad of Tad's Tavern of Belgian Beers, did, in fact, live in Belgium during the week of July 9-16, 1997."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reid says choosing between Kolb and Vick was like choosing between an Arby's #1 or #2 ... or a #8 or #3 ... or a #4 or #6 ... or a #5 or #1

Philadelphia, PA--Eagles' head coach Andy Reid is feeling the pressure. One day after reversing his decision to start Kevin Kolb at quarterback--some say the owner was highly involved--and go with the sizzling Michael Vick, Reid said he wavered back and forth for hours before making his choice. "It really is like going to one of my favorite restaurants and seeing that big, illuminated menu with all those value meals," said Reid, referring to a suburban Philadelphia fast food chain that he frequents. "Do I get four #7's or three #4's? I get the #7 a lot, I know what it offers. I don't know all that much about the #4 because I don't order it too much. I mean, I've taken small bites, if you can believe that, but never consistently ordered it. It's not easy. This has been the toughest couple of days during my time in Philly." So tough, in fact, that Reid was later spotted behind the counter of an Ardmore, PA Dairy Queen, in full game regalia, including headset, yelling instructions at a new employee, after three of his ice cream cones were poured counterclockwise. The manager of the Dairy Queen later told NBC10, "He hopped over the counter, with the help of three customers, and, basically, showed the workers how to pour a 'proper' cone. Interestingly, cones do taste better when poured clockwise. Who knew?"

Halladay wins number 20, says if season ended today 'it would be weird because we've only played 152 games'

Above: Roy Halladay, Phillies' right-handed ace pitcher, says his mission in Philadelphia is complete after winning his 20th game of the season. "Ruben [Amaro] told me that if I came here and won 20 games, something I haven't done since 2008, then my job would be done," said Halladay about the Phillies second-year general manager. "It's time to move on. I've loved my stay here in Philly, but there really is nothing left for me to do here." Halladay is seeking a trade before the end of this season. Halladay added: "I wish the team luck in the upcoming postseason. If only I'd won 14 games and saved six wins for the playoffs. That was my bad. Totally my bad."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Seattle in chaos after capturing WNBA title; nation's coffee supply could be interrupted

Above: The Seattle Storm celebrate a sweep over the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA finals in Atlanta's Phillips Arena yesterday. Below: Championship celebrations get out of control in downtown Seattle as police are called to the scene. The turmoil in the Pacific Northwest, experts say, will undoubtedly disrupt the country's coffee supply. The Storm has aired several public service announcements pleading with fans to celebrate responsibly. In one announcement, WNBA Final's mvp Lauren Jackson warns, "If you guys don't knock it off, they're going to move the championship parade to Tacoma. C'mon everyone, let's party with class."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sun Life Stadium's ushers caught showing imaginary Marlins' fans to seats in preparation for Dolphins' games

Above: A nearly-empty Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL during a recent Marlins baseball game. During Marlins' home games, the Miami metropolitan area, the 7th largest in the country, drops to the 8th most populous metro area. Stadium officials have been known in the past to use August and early September baseball games to prepare new, inexperienced ushers for the much better attended Miami Dolphins' home games, who share the facility. "We like to get the ushers some practice, and since there really are no Marlins fans, they have to just pretend there are people at the games," said Mark Taglioni, a Sun Life Stadium senior usher manager. "Unfortunately, tv cameras have caught our new ushers going through the motions of checking tickets that aren't there and directing thin air to their seats. It may look very strange on television, but it gets us ready for football season."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bednarik's fondest memory from 1960 season: Eagles' QB Norm Van Brocklin pretending to use telegraph on Packers' sideline

The 1960 NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles were honored on Sunday during the team's opening game of the 2010 season at Lincoln Financial Field. Between 18 and 20 members of the last Eagles' championship team were wined and dined all weekend before gathering at midfield before kickoff for a loud and sustained greeting from the wet 68,000 fans.

The current squad of Eagles donned the kelly-green uniforms in honor of the pre-Super Bowl league champions from fifty years ago. The kelly-green was a welcomed sight for the Delaware Valley, even for a brief, one-game appearance.

When asked to comment on the throwback uniforms, Chuck Bednarik, 85, the Pro Bowl linebacker and center for the Birds from 1949 to 1962 said, "I once dated a girl named Kelly Green. She was a nice gal from Allentown. Great smile. She worked at Bethlehem Steel making boiler plates."

On Saturday night, the seasoned alumni gathered in South Philadelphia for a welcome back dinner. The old-timers shared hugs, swapped stories, laughed, cringed, got teary-eyed, drew plays on cocktail napkins, bit the top of of beer bottles and tossed a Nerf football around the decked out banquette hall. The throwbacks reflected on their favorite memories of the dream season that was 1960.

Tommy McDonald, the Pro Bowl wide receiver, remembered when Koy Detmer performed "The Whip" dance after throwing a long touchdown pass versus Green Bay and then stared at the Packer sideline in Franklin Field. McDonanld's teammate Pete Retzlaff recalled, "Bill Bergy's tackle on Jim Taylor as time ran out in the championship game is my fondest memory. Although, I may be thinking of the wrong game." Maxie Baughan, a rookie linebacker on the team, described Seth Joyner's famous hit on the Giants' Frank Gifford in Yankee Stadium.

Bednarik, the hard-hitting linebacker, who was often was compared to concrete, also shared a couple of his favorite memories from that season.

"Our great QB Norm Van Brocklin made a nice run in the 3rd quarter of the [1960] title game and was shoved out of bounds around the 40-yard line and ended up near the Packers' bench where all the telegraphs were set up to communicate with the booth upstairs," explained Concrete Charlie. "Norm pretended to use the telegraph before coming back onto the field. He must have tapped that thing 30 or 40 times. It was priceless. Classic Norm Van Brocklin as I recall."

"It was just very out of character for Norm to do that," said the Hall of Famer McDonald. "But, that being said, it was hilarious. Vince was not too thrilled, though."

That Vince, would be the infamous Vince Lombardi, coach of the Packers. It was the iconic team leader's only playoff defeat.

The Van Brocklin stunt was very similar to a more recent incident in the Meadowlands. During a playoff game in 2008 against the Giants Donovan McNabb, after a big run, pretended to use the sideline phone near the Giants' bench (pictured below). The former Eagle quarterback would later admit that he was imitating Van Brocklin's mock telegraphing from 1960.

"My other greatest memory from that 1960 season was Koy Detmer's "The Whip" dance, which was also against the Packers," recalled Bednarik, seconding Detmer's bizarre dance celebration. "That Detmer was an interesting fella."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Millions suffering from PTVD: Post-Traumatic Vuvuzela Disorder

Above: Bob Miller, who suffers from PTVD, attempts to prepare for an important work meeting while horns blare.

Wilmington, DE--From June 11 to July 11 this year, the globe's nearly 7 billion people were treated to the best soccer on the planet at the World Cup in South Africa. The frenzied nationalism that accompanies the tournament heightens the experience and enthusiasm of fanatics around the world. Enthusiasm, more often than not this year, shown with a horn.

Bob Miller hasn't had a solid night's sleep since June 10, 2010. This was the insurance salesman's last night in the U.S. before leaving on a 1:30 PM flight to Cape Town, South Africa from BWI Airport the following day. Admittedly not a huge soccer fan, Miller was joining a group of college buddies for a ten day excursion/reunion to see the world's game up close, to experience, first hand, the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of the game. Miller, and millions of others, were not adequately prepared for the sounds part.

"I had heard of the vuvuzela before going, but, honestly, I didn't realize it was a South African tradition," said the Delaware resident about the long, plastic horn that hails from the southern tip of the continent. "Nor did I have any clue about its volume, both in sound and in numbers."

Miller went on to describe the noise as "deafening" but said it was part of the game there and fans were not so concerned of the long-term effects.

"When you're there at the games, sure, the horns are loud and bothersome, but it's not as noticeable because you're caught up in the excitement in each city and each stadium."

But, since returning home from visits to South Africa, or simply finding other programming to watch on the television since the tournament ended, the horns have not stopped: for millions worldwide.

"It's been almost two months, but I hear the vuvuzela every minute of every day," said Greg Baker of Leadville, CO, who traveled to South Africa to catch several games in person. "I haven't seen a vuvuzela or heard one since the tournament concluded, and yet, I hear it all the time."

"He's been extremely irritable, always telling the kids to stop blowing those f__ing horns. He's become very fond of yelling the insult, 'I'll show you where to cram that vuvuzela' to anyone," said Baker's wife Sally, "even to our minister."

"Not only do I hear horns, which I can sort of understand, but I see the fans resting on my shoulders and playing them," said Miller. "That part I don't understand."

The condition of persistent ringing in the ears is commonly known as tinnitus, but the constant sound of a popular South African horn--and the hallucination of miniature fans playing them--is new to the medical world. Doctors are at a complete loss when it comes to properly treating the strange disorder.

"I just tell patients with PTVD to drink more water and take a couple aspirin," said Dr Chelsea Ross of Wilmington General Hospital. "But, honestly, that's a remedy I just made up one day. I really don't know how to combat PTVD or what its causes are."

Kathy Kim, 31, is a yoga instructor in Providence, RI, and, generally, not a sports fan by any definition. How then does Kim, who relates watching soccer to jamming rusty metal shims under her fingernails, suffer from PTVD?

"I was asked to go to a party this summer, which turned out to be a cookout for the USA-Ghana game--had I known I would have refused the invite--and I literally saw 30 seconds of the match. The horns have not stopped playing in my head since then. It's so loud that I'm worried the sound is upsetting my students' practice."

Samuel Trumbauer, 28, is a violinist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, he is a self-proclaimed soccer nut that was, unfortunately, unable to make the long trek to South Africa during the Windy City's break from the cold. The first-seat musician in his group, a ranking that requires endless practice hours to secure, however, was able to watch all 64 matches of the World Cup on ESPN and ABC.

"There's a price for watching every minute of every game. I can't play violin right now. I've had to take time away from the orchestra," said a trembling Trumbauer. "I see these guys playing the vuvuzela on my shoulder all the time. At first, I got really into trying to play in harmony with the [vuvuzela] guys. Then, I began trying to play along with them ... during my symphony concerts. Not good."

Estimated medical costs for those suffering are expected to surpass $700 million by the end of the year. The South African government has pledged $10 million to help with this staggering price tag.

"We really don't feel that we are responsible for any of this," shouted Clinton Van Dorn, a government official rumored to be suffering from PTVD himself, but repeatedly denies the reports. "However, we would like for fans to remember South Africa fondly."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Picture perfect afternoon at PPL Park ruined by lack of armrests

Chester, PA--It was one of those weather days that you wish would make itself comfortable and stick around for awhile: high seventies, low humidity, the occasional cloud and a cooling breeze. Frank Monroe had been looking forward to his first-ever visit to PPL Park, the Delaware Valley's newest sports facility and home to Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union. He couldn't have picked a better day than Saturday.

Monroe, 47, is a casual Union fan (he couldn't accurately report the team's record or top scorer) but had heard so many great things about the sporting experience on the banks of the Delaware River that he had to witness it firsthand. From the endless energy of the Sons of Ben supporters to a hard working soccer team to the views of the meandering, adjacent river and the imposing Commodore Barry Bridge it is easy to see the draw of this shiny European football palace.

After gliding through the packed concourse and turning up through the tunnel to the seating area, however, something was off. Something, Monroe felt, was not quite right.

"I hurried inside the stadium all excited, got my draught beer of choice--Victory Prima Pilsner--had the usher point me in the right direction, climbed the numerous steps, sat down, placed my cup of liquid heaven in the holder and rested my arms on the ... there was nothing there," said a frustrated Monroe. "I mean, literally, there were no armrests. It wasn't just my seat. It was every single one."

That's right, PPL Park (named for the Allentown based Pennsylvania Power and Light utility company) was designed without armrests between the seats. A cost-cutting measure that has, until Saturday, gone mostly unnoticed.

"What am I suppose to do with my arms? No, really, that's not a rhetorical question. What am I suppose to do with my arms?Am I suppose to fold my arms or set them on my lap or let them hang awkwardly? No self-respecting jetliner director does that."

The Crum Lynne, PA native and Philadelphia International Airport grounds crew plane director claims that armrests are critical in providing "much needed rest for arms."

"My arms are my livelihood. I'm the guy on the tarmac with the illuminated vest and souped-up glow sticks that directs the planes into and out of the gates. My arms are always moving and pointing and waving. They need to be rested on my days off. It's critical."

Monroe claims that more than 60% of the rest his arms receive come from using armrests on home chairs or, in some cases, stadium seats.

"I've been to about 20 Phillies games this year and, guess what?" said the father of four. "My arms were well-rested during all of those three-hour games. Why? Because they have armrests at Citizens Bank Park. C'mon, we're not animals."

Monroe also admitted that on Saturday he kept leaning right, left and forward without his usual arm support, a local university confirmed this tendency.

The University of Pennsylvania recently completed a study on armrest-less stadium seating as it relates to posture during games. Though primarily focused on the bleacher seating at Penn State University's Beaver Stadium, PPL Park was also briefly analyzed, unbeknownst to the Union.

"Because there are no armrests at PPL, the average Union fan slouches anywhere from seven to fifteen degrees forwards or sidewards in their seats, compared to two to five degrees for a Phillies or Eagles fan," said Dr Ted Greenboundberg, the back specialist at the UPenn Medical Center directing the study.

Other fans attending the Union's games in the new stadium seemed unfazed and unconcerned with the missing seat features.

"I stand the whole time buddy, so ... I really don't even know what you're talking about," said Gary Yoneski, 23, of Media, a dedicated Sons of Ben member pausing from the Click It or Ticket chant echoing from the River End seating section. "Although, the cup holders could be higher. Yeah, that would be cool."

One positive that Monroe took from the seating situation at PPL Park was the elimination of the armrest face-off. This is the friendly battle with the person or persons seated beside you for the right to use the armrest. Although Monroe claimed to be undefeated in these face-offs, including both movie theaters and stadiums, he felt they exhausted his arm's energy reserves.

And the game? The Union tied the Kansas City Wizards, 1-1, but Monroe was preoccupied.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jar placed back on bear's head for appearance on Today Show

Above: The Today Show cast welcomes the Florida "jar bear" to the show following a lighthearted Snuggie segment.

Apalachicola National Forest, FL--In early August, a hiker was blazing the trails of this sprawling wooded landscape set in the northwestern portion of the Sunshine State. Hank Blaylock, 41, hiking sticks in hand, was not at all prepared for what he encountered on this early morning adventure.

"I rounded a bend in the trail and right there before me was a small bear ... with a jar stuck on its head," said the Pensacola high school chemistry teacher. "I mean, I'm terrified of bears but I couldn't help from laughing. I felt bad. I'm mean, it looked ridiculous with that jar on its head. But, I knew it was in serious danger and I contacted park officials as soon as I could."

This story of a Florida bear with a jar stuck on its head became national news several weeks ago as it struck a chord with America's collective heart. The mammal was even given lovable nicknames by news outlets all over the country: JarJarStinks (a bad breath reference, perhaps?), Bear With Jar on Head, Bear With #2 Plastic Jar on Head, NASA Bear, The Recycling Bear, Jarhead, The Radical Dieting Bear and Kareem Abdul JarBear.

The jar prevented the bear from both eating and drinking and it was estimated and feared by experts, had the animal not been freed of its constraining container, that death was surely imminent, possibly within hours.

These same animal experts believed the bear was rummaging through a nearby campground garbage dump when the container, most likely holding an unconscionable amount peanut butter (it was eventually traced to CostCo), became lodged as the animal investigated the sweet smell wafting from the inner walls.

The response from the public, after the bear was caught and the jar removed, was overwhelming. So popular was the story that the morning national news show Today went to great lengths to host the ferocious, wild animal.

"The story seemed to grab America's attention when it hit a couple weeks ago and because of scheduling we weren't able to have the bear on before the jar was removed. So Today paid all of the fees to track the bear, tranquilize it and the brother and mother, place the jar back on its head--only for the five minute segment--and send it to New York. It's a real feel good story," said Today producer Jim Haldeman. "America wanted to know what the bear was up to."

The show's resident weatherman Al Roker got a big kick out of the bear, teasing the animal by rubbing a slab of red meat on the outside of the jar, which appeared to only slightly frustrate the carnivore. The animal, not used to humans and as a safety measure, was heavily sedated before clumsily walking onto the New York set accompanied by a forest ranger.

Several cast members of the show jokingly told Roker to stop before joining in themselves with donuts and a half-eaten Snickers bar, much to the chagrin of the ranger. Matt Lauer and Natalie Morales debated whether the jar looked more like a pretzel container or the officially reported peanut butter jar. Today's online poll revealed 87% of respondents (32,978) felt it was a pretzel container.

"I thought the whole appearance on the show was kind of strange," said 10-year Florida forest ranger Don Hager, the bear's guardian for the trip. "Something just didn't seem right about bringing a wild bear out of its natural habitat. I was, however, very generously compensated, and, to be completely honest, I also thought that the jar was one of those big pretzel containers."