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."