Thursday, September 27, 2012

Report: N.F.L. referee lockout centered around tighter shirts for Ed Hochuli

Above: The workout-obsessed Ed Hochuli sports a tight referee shirt during a regular season game last year. The N.F.L. wanted even tighter shirts for referees (mostly just for Hochuli) this season, claiming the zebra tops were a huge boost for television ratings. However, officials were concerned that tighter shirts would further limit mobility and begin to negatively affect on-field performance. This tight shirt controversy has kept referees off the field for three weeks, forcing controversial replacement refs to fill in. "Even last season I was unable to comfortably signal that a field goal was good. I could not raise my arms fully, so I had to give two thumbs up for a successful kick," said one referee. "In fact, I performed most signals with my fingers. There's no way we could have gone with even tighter uniforms this season." Part of the agreement to bring the refs back has Hochuli working games shirtless and using black and white body paint as his uniform, which he claims "to be completely and thoroughly fine with and considers a great resolution to this mess."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

P.P.A. handing out parking tickets to City's new parklets

Source: MOTU Facebook Page

Philadelphia--Parks getting parking tickets? The Philadelphia Parking Authority is requiring city-owned parklets--small on-street parks atop curb-high platforms--to purchase and display parking permits on the street-side of the small structures. No permit means a parking violation, which equals a ticket.

"I give a ticket to that thing [parklet] every day," said Gail Slessenger, a P.P.A. parking enforcement officer for twenty years. "They don't have permits, so I have to ticket them. Boss said so. I have been instructed to leave tickets on tables or benches."

Several of these innovative parks have sprung up around the city, and have racked up thousands of dollars in parking tickets via the P.P.A. However, to obtain a parking permit, there must be a motorized vehicle involved in the application. Indirectly then, the P.P.A. is forcing parklets, installed in cooperation with the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities, to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation as a motor vehicle.

This inevitably means that parklets must have an engine and car insurance to occupy the street parking space. To help meet this "motor" requirement, the state is allowing parklets to conceal old, nonfunctioning lawn mower engines somewhere on the site: under planters, benches, or tables, for example.

"We thought long and hard about requiring parklets to have some sort of steering wheel and, at the very least, two functioning tires. But, that just didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense," said Michael Actons, directing assistant manager of Penn D.O.T. "We are, however, very serious about the engine requirement."

It is believed that the tire idea sprang from the P.P.A. so that parking boots could be fastened to any uncooperative parklets.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Report: N.F.L. investigating Andy Reid for establishing elaborate, clandestine food-for-turnover scheme

Unlike the Saints bounty system, the league believes Reid is the only team employee involved in the food-for-turnovers plan that rewards the coach with fine fare and snacks during and after games for each turnover committed by his team (an eye-popping, er, mouth-watering 12 in three games this season).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

N.F.L. replacement official denies then confirms securing referee position through Accountemps staffing agency

The accountant, looking for temporary accounting work, was placed in a "possible 17-week" position after listing "football referee" in the "Cool Facts About Me" section of his resume.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Recent survey shows Chester residents finally warming to Union soccer

Above: A Chester, Pa, resident proudly displays the Union logo (center) on the outside of his two-boxroom home. "A professional soccer team is exactly what this town needed," said the resident. "Originally, I felt the money for a new stadium would be better directed toward the Chester School District or the much needed social programs for the city. But, I was wrong and, unfortunately, it took us a couple of years to realize this. Go Union!" A recent survey shows that the Major League Soccer club, in its third season, is a source of pride in this community of 34,000 residents. The team, which claims to have a very positive relationship with the city, generously outfitted this fan with new cardboard from boxes arriving at PPL Park for a large shipment of concession stand supplies. (The cardboard, the Union confess, had a recycling value of around $20.)   

Friday, September 14, 2012

U.S. Open: Was Skycam too low during matches?

Above: Juan Martin Del Potro does his best to return a shot without hitting the low-hanging Skycam.

Above: Roberta Vinci is forced to serve the ball between the support cables of Skycam during an early-round match.

Queens, N.Y.C.--The U.S. Open ended on Monday; however, the controversy surrounding the tournament has yet to subside. This year, the U.S.T.A. decided to use Skycam--the cable-suspended, remotely-controlled overhead, zigging and zagging camera--for the first time in history in order to provide home viewers with "unprecedented views" of the association's premier event. The N.F.L. uses the same technology during their television broadcasts. So eager was the group to give these views that the camera often hovered inches above players heads or, much to the confusion and frustration of everyone, centimeters above the net. In the first three days alone, the camera was struck 376 times by the ball. "I have to say that the angles were spectacular," said former player and current tv commentator John McEnroe. "But it really has interfered with the game. I think we have to ask who tennis is catering to: the home viewers or the players?" Two were struck in the head by the fast-moving, unmanned camera and forced to withdraw. Because of the egregious mismanagement of the device, nearly half of the players that competed in the 2012 U.S. Open have filed a class action to play the entire competition over.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reid: 'I definitely would have pulled Vick after 7th interception.'

Cleveland, OH--Eagles head coach Andy Reid admitted one day after his team barely pulled out a one-point victory over a less talented Browns team that he would have pulled his starting quarterback if he had thrown three more interceptions. Michael Vick, not having his best game as an Eagle, threw four interceptions on the day and frequently ran from the pocket. The Birds trailed in the final quarter and the coach must have had thoughts of making a change behind center to bring in backup QB Nick Foles. Below is an excerpt from the coach's day-after news conference at the NovaCare complex in South Philadelphia addressing his interceptions limit for Vick:

I had a number in my head. I usually like to set that INT number for a quarterback during warmups or the coin toss. Sunday was no different. At first, that number was three, but then Michael hit that number and I was like, 'Nah, I meant to say four. Yeah, four.' However, when he reached four interceptions I made the final, final number five. I was really set on five. Honestly, I was. I even said the number over and over so I would hold to that number. Then, just a minute or so later, thinking there was a good chance that Michael could reach five, I told myself, just to be safe, to just go ahead and make the total interceptions that he could throw be seven. So I made that the final, final, final number that he could throw. I said to myself, 'Andy, if he reaches seven interceptions you have to take him out of the game. You have now set the number in your head and there's no going back on that number. Okay, Andy? Good. I'm gonna hold you to this, Andy.' I know what you are all thinking. The answer is no, the fact that Michael wears number seven had nothing to do with my decision. It didn't sneak into my sub-conscience or anything. Seven was just a good solid number that I chose. And, I swear to all of you today that I would have definitely taken Michael out if he hit the seven interception mark that I had in my head. I'm being serious.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Baseball contributing to obesity epidemic? Stadiums serving ice cream in life-size commemorative helmets

A recent visit to Citizens Bank Park by a local anti-obesity advocacy organization's president sparks a plea to M.L.B. and the Phillies to offer healthier food options at the ballpark, especially for young fans. This season, the Phillies began selling the Big Helmet Ice Cream, a life-size batting helmet filled to the top with your choice of vanilla or chocolate ice cream and up to sixteen toppings. The helmet is meant as a single serving. Here is her letter:

Dear Phillies,

My name is Loraine Gorchec and I am president of Obese Lil' Rascals: Not Now, Not Ever (OLR:NNNE), a non-profit organization based right here in the great city of Philadelphia. I am very proud to lead this group of twelve strong, hard-working individuals who diligently attempt to combat childhood obesity in children and very, very small adults (adults often mistaken for children). I must first state that I am a casual sports fan, not that this should diminish the message of my letter. Though born and raised in the area, I went to my first Phillies game in quite some time a couple weeks ago when we had our agency summer outing at Citizens Bank Park at the suggestion of two of our fabulous staff members.

I forgot--although I'm not sure how--just how lazy of a sport baseball is. Two players, the pitcher and catcher, seemingly perform the majority of work in the field. I noticed outfielders, for example, did not move six inches from their designated position during a stretch of six consecutive batters. Additionally, I recently read that over a three-hour game, the ball is actually in play for less than ten minutes. Ten minutes!

I also forgot that baseball, the action of attending a game, for its millions of loyal fans, equals a fried and fatty food extravaganza! "Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the ... great American eat-out."

My job vehemently heightens my sense of awareness when it comes to food options, whether in a mall, a city neighborhood, or, as in this case, a professional athletic stadium. Admittedly, I obtained this sixth sense of food choice awareness long before I joined the staff of OLR:NNNE. During my food stroll around the park I saw Bull's Barbecue, McNally's Schmitter, Tony Luke's, Turkey Hill Ice Cream, Hatfield hot dogs, Von Hay's Chocolate Daze, Chickie's and Pete's, Harry the K's, the High and Inside Pub, the Low and Outside Pub, Foul Ball Falafels, Planet Hoagie, Wes Chamberlain's Churros, and Campo's Steaks. I saw Doug's Dugout Danishes (I was told this was named for Doug Glanville), Kruk's Leftovers (which serves leftovers from previous games at a discounted price), Watch that Baby ... Back Ribs, Randy Ready Crocker, and Bruce Ruffin's Muffins.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Local furniture designer/maker unknowingly provided chair for Eastwood speech

Chester County, PA--When Clint Eastwood did a Google search for "cool chairs" about a month ago from his home computer in Los Angeles, Greg's Cool Handmade Furniture Co. came up as the first result of millions in just under .03 nanoseconds. Eastwood was in need of a "democrat-type" chair for his imaginary President Barack Obama to sit in during his eccentric speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, on August 30, 2012. "I got this call from a guy who claimed to be Clint Eastwood," said Greg Hanson, owner of Greg's Cool Handmade Furniture Co. "The guy sounded just like Clint, but I wanted him to prove he was actually Eastwood." Hanson, mostly because he is a movie buff, asked the Hollywood legend three questions: 1.) Where did Gran Torino take place? 2.) What year did Pale Rider debut? and 3.) Who played the trainer in Million Dollar Baby? Eastwood easily answered all three, then quickly ordered a "cool" chair, but never mentioned that it would play a key role and appear before the country at the RNC. "I was flipping channels and came across the convention where I saw Clint and the chair. I went nuts, called all my friends, and then got this pit in my stomach after I realized that I'm a registered democrat. Thank God he didn't mention the company," said Hanson.