Big Ben clocked on the invincible highway where virile young men dare cruise

It would be convenient to crudely caricature Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as an idiot for taking great pride in not wearing a helmet while riding his motorcycle.And now after enduring seven hours of surgery for multiple facial fractures including a broken jaw and having to face life for a bit with the smile of a Jack-o-Lantern after his Monday crash, Roethlisberger is the latest poster boy for jocks concussed by their own machismo.Young men blessed with prime physical skills often are consumed by a ferocious drive to experience life on the edge. Something gathers inside them, like severe weather building.Consequently, they aren’t content to just sit on the sofa and wait for the loose change to drop between the cushions. Instead, they’re compelled to blow past life’s asterisks — the gateways to the fine-print footnotes where it is written that thrills often lead to spills.And consequences.

I'll gleefully drink to prostate cancer prevention

Now don’t get too excited, because all those medical studies that come out seemingly every 4.7 seconds frequently light fires of hope before they burn down to ash.Still, I can’t help myself. I’m so jacked right now I could bounce around the planet even without a massive jolt of caffeine. Because a dandy new study suggests that a main ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer and enlargement.Oregon State University researchers say the compound xanthohumol, found in hops, inhibits a specific protein in the cells along the surface of the prostate gland.Jeez, I always knew that beer was the perfect petri dish for something good besides creating a delightful buzz. Researchers caution, however, that the ingredient is present in such microscopic amounts that you would have to drink more than 17 beers to reap a benefit.Personally, I think that yellow flag the researchers are waving is inconsequential.To hearty beer drinkers blessed with an unquenchable thirst, knocking back three six-packs a night is no problem — assuming they don’t get behind the wheel.

B-Hop still dancing with all the youthful vitality of hip-hop

Boxing, because it is a hybrid of physical chess, ballet and barbarism all forged into one intoxicating blast furnace of guttural emotion, is best left to young men whose physical skills bask in prime sunshine.But when light slips into evening, the ring can be a cruel place for those young men who morph into ancient warriors.Time, alas, wears away fighters like an old rock.Unless, of course, their name is Bernard Hopkins.Hopkins somehow has managed to trap time in a bottle and sip from it as if it were the fountain of youth.B-Hop, 41 years young, pulled off a magnificent upset victory Saturday night in Atlantic City when he knocked around reigning champ Antonio Tarver like a volleyball to win the light heavyweight championship of the world.And it was my privilege to be in Boardwalk Hall to experience the incredible energy of an epic evening.Hopkins’ sensational performance showered everyone present with shock and awe. Indeed, there was such an incredible buzz resonating in the ancient hall you wondered if everybody had just gulped a half-dozen double Scotches. B-Hop, who etched his name into boxing folklore with a division-record 20 middleweight title defenses, penned perhaps the greatest chapter of his illustrious career last night.He was scary good even though he moved up two weight classes to topple the man who had emphatically punctured the legend of the once-fabulous Roy Jones Jr.Hopkins, whose iron discipline was forged in the crucible of penitentiary living, was as scary as a strong night wind in nearby trees. He reduced Tarver to a hollowed-out pug, like a big fruit shorn of its ripe interior.Borne by the energy of a revamped conditioning program and fueled by a diamond-hard concentration, Hopkins hardly looked like an old man ready to be whisked away for convalescence. Hopkins was extremely aggressive throughout the fight, eliciting frequent fusillades of octave-busting chants of “B-Hop” from the adoring crowd.His defense was a textbook of clever angles and subtle movement, never giving Tarver an opportunity to unleash his big gun of a left hand. Conversely, Hopkins’ strong lead right hand was a hyperactive and percussive piston stroke all night — the perfect weapon to dismantle a southpaw like Tarver.Bernard Hopkins, whose profane, cocksure attitude has earned him an indelible ranking in boxing’s storied gallery of rogues, truly is the human equivalent of a war machine.Hopefully, however, he will now call a permanent ceasefire to his ring hostilities. Because even his stiff jab can’t keep Father Time at bay for ever and a day.

There goes the neighborhood

Sounds like the Wal-Mart folks are going to be singing their siren song Wednesday evening, making it so sweet that it kills the poor Spring Township folks with kindness.Yep, officials for the mammoth retail chain are holding a dog-and-pony show Wednesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sheraton.Of course, they aren’t calling it a dog-and-pony show. Rather, they’re calling it a community meeting where they can put a positive spin on their plans to build a super store at Broadcasting and Paper Mill roads — streets that instantly will be transformed into parking lots. Wal-Mart is seeking zoning approval from Spring Township to build the store in an business-office district. If Wal-Mart gains approval and builds the Spring store, it would close an existing Wal-Mart in Wyomissing.Well, the prospect of a gigantic Wal-Mart store squatting in my neck of the woods certainly doesn’t light up my face like a happy pumpkin.I dread the likely arrival of this colossus of commerce much like I would incoming tracer fire.

Spinning wheels have turned our town around — if just for a day

OK, I’m a cynic by nature. So count me in as one of those folks who thought the Reading Classic pro cycling race would be a hassle for all of us downtown working stiffs.And let me quickly add that I am a stoked proponent of bringing all the cultural, entertainment and athletic events we can to help infuse new vitality into our town and fresh coin into our coffers.Just not on a workday during working hours.Well, I changed my mind today. Today was fun downtown. Traffic wasn’t a gridlock this morning. It were as if Moses had parted the Penn Street Bridge and allowed every one an easy pass into the city.Yep, it was a festive party here in front of the Reading Eagle building. Except for a brief shower or two, it was a resplendent day for sunshine junkies. And the cyclists rushing past certainly gave a pulse-racing dimension to the bubbly quality of the day.It would be a stretch to say that folks at the start/finish line were jumping with joy as if they were on pogo sticks.But I haven’t seen so many smiles downtown in one day in what seems like eons. P.S.: The dandy topping on a sundae of a day was that getting home during the PM rush wasn’t an apocalyptic ordeal after all.By leaving the office at 4:30 before the Reading Classic was over and snaking through the south side of town to access the Bingaman Street Bridge, I was home almost as quick as a hiccup.

AM rush horror story much ado about nothing

Well, my two sons and I car-pooled into town this morning, expecting Reading to be an insane place clogged with traffic and all choked up with frustrated drivers spitting out road rage.And what did we find?To our utter surprise, we cruised right into town. Indeed, Reading on the morn of the much-ballyhooed Reading Classic professional cycling race was indeed a sane plot of earth.In fact, where was everybody? Were the women and children hidden away in attics and basements? Did everybody wimp out and stay home from work? In the shimmer and gleam of a gorgeous early June morning, Reading seemed to be a quaint little town, with some vehicles and pedestrians leisurely commuting to work.It seemed to be a place for whom time had stopped. Granted, we shall see if it’s as easy to get out of town late this afternoon.

Cycling to a better tomorrow

The Reading Classic professional cycling race hits town tomorrow, which definitely will put our city on the ledge of immortality.After this blockbuster event, our rep is gonna swell like a blowfish. Which should take some of the buckshot out of crime around here.Drug dealers like to work in the shadows. If we keep constructing magical moments like this that squeeze our senses until the juice runs, all the dopers will take flight like rats escaping a burning building. At least that’s the plan.