City crime can sneak up on anybody at anytime

Nobody has kept the fact that Reading is rife with criminal behavior under lock and key.The urban strife around here is so pervasive and invasive that it should be set to raucous music and pigeons.For instance, police said Thursday that three males, one with a handgun, robbed a 12-year-old Reading boy of his $120 Nike Air Jordan sneakers while the kid was walking on North 11 Street.As the boy was taking off his sneakers, one of the assailants struck him on the side of his face with the butt of the gun.Nice, huh? Indeed, the cowardice of these punks was absolutely breathtaking. At least they didn’t shoot the poor kid or nail him to the nearest backboard.

Why doesn't Santa just say hello?

Whatever happened to simpler times when we didn’t magnify every perceived misstep out of proportion?I long for the days when we could keep things light and not burrow ourselves ever deeper under the heavy yoke of political correctness. For instance, Santas in Sydney have been told not to use the “ho ho ho” greeting because it may be offensive to women.Since “ho” is slang for prostitute, Sydney’s Santa Clauses have been told to substitute “ha ha ha” instead.Well, at least Sydney residents have been spared a sequel of “Bad Santa” starring the kindly and adorable Billy Bob Thornton.

Travel makes Thanksgiving a real turkey of a holiday

We all know that traveling these days is worse than a dentist hitting a nerve in your bicuspid after the Novocain has worn off. Drive your car and you’ll have to kidnap an oil baron’s wallet just to fill up your tank. Hop a plane and the airport hassles will make your sanity and patience take flight. Hitch up a buckboard and pray nobody laced the horse’s oats with baked beans.All of which makes Thanksgiving weekend a terrible time for people forced to visit family and watch relatives you really don’t like all that much gargle their gravy and chew their words while munching on a drumstick.Makes you envy orphans, doesn’t it? They get to stay home and watch football.

Shock and awe! Birds squirt past Redskins

Well, at least for one game the Eagles didn’t smell worse than the men’s room in an old, disreputable movie theater.Actually, the Birds weren’t all that particularly pleasingly fragrant during the first three periods Sunday at FedEx Field.But they played with their old swagger in crunch time, stuffing 20 points into the fourth quarter to daze the Redskins 33-25.And now Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid get to keep their jobs for another week.Pray tell, the Birds may even cop an attitude this week, accusing Eagle Nation of jumping ship on what should be an astonishing voyage to a Super Bowl title.Yeah, right!Anyway, McNabb and Reid certainly relished this victory. Their post-game embrace lasted longer than some honeymoons.OK, McNabb hasn’t yet regained his superduperstar status, but the much maligned quarterback did complete 20 of 28 passes for 258 yards and four touchdowns.And running back/receiver Brian Westbrook was simply radiant as he scored three touchdowns, two of them within 58 seconds late in the fourth period.Westbrook, who rushed 20 times for 100 yards and had five receptions for 83 yards, scored on a 10-yard run with 2:18 remaining to seal Philadelphia’s first NFC East win this season. Westbrook had zipped 57 yards with a McNabb screen pass to give the 4-5 Eagles their first lead of the day at 26-25 with 3:16 left.And now the Birds, still mired in the muck of last place, hope to reach .500 when they host winless Miami next Sunday at the Linc.Flashes of non-linear bemusement may be crossing faces everywhere in the Delaware Valley and beyond if that transpires.

Team harmony

Happiness is a warm gun, at least according to the Beatles on their White Album.But with the next Berks County board of commissioners such a happy bunch in the post-election glow, there apparently will be no need for guns in the County Services Building since supposedly there will be no duels at eight paces. Republican incumbent and incoming chair Mark Scott and newbies Christian Leinbach (a Republican) and Kevin Barnhardt (a Democrat) figure to a synchronous, steamrollering force as we all barrel roll toward a better future in Berks — at least according to all the happy lyrics the trio was singing yesterday. Of course, if Scott, Leinbach and Barnhardt band together like The Three Musketeers for the next four years, the scorn and suspicion usually heaped upon the breed known as politician will dramatically abate around here.Granted, a board steeped in camaraderie would be in stark contrast to the previous board where the turf wars between fellow Dems Judy Schwank and Tom Gajewski chewed up the carpeting like a World War I battlefield.

Working on an awe-inspiring six-pack

The other day Spanish researchers become my heroes as well as my friends.These dudes discovered that beer beats water when it comes to rehydrating after a hard workout.With transcendent news like this, I now can work out with all the power of Zeus. And I’ve never been so thirsty for lung-searing cardio routines.

Turning the tables with a terrible twist

I oppose abortion.However, I must confess my eyes lit up with amusement today when I saw the front page story in today’s Reading Eagle about the Planned Parenthood office in Reading raising money for the abortion and health clinic with its “Pledge-a-Picket” — which has donors giving the organization money for every day a protester shows up at the clinic at 48 S. Fourth St.While I find this fundraising ploy to be rather wormy, I have to admit it’s rather ingenious. And in a world when some days the only bright idea you bump into is the sun, you have to give your props — if not your approval — to a clever concept.

T.O. and Romo author a bad Reid for the Eagles

When I sat down to write this blog about the Cowboys taking apart the Eagles 38-17 with gruesome clarity Sunday night, I wanted my words to flow softly — cradled in regret more than anger over the deconstruction of this once proud Philadelphia team.But so much for good intentions. I can’t help myself.In what was a critical must-win game to salvage any shred of salvation for their season, the Birds were uglier than a rhinoceros with terrible acne.How ugly were they? Ugly enough that they should have hauled metal grates across the Linc and padlocked it before kickoff.Ugly enough that the women and children in the Delaware Valley should have been hidden away in attics and basements.Ugly enough that post-game pundits were speculating that this carbuncle-hideous loss could portend the end of the Andy Reid era. One wonders now if Reid is drowning in a general sense of helplessness. His franchise has lost its direction and he can’t seem to find the compass.Meanwhile, his family seems to have lost its moral compass as he heard a judge this week sentence his addicted sons to jail while castigating the Reid mansion as a drug-infested den.The Eagles are rock-bottom last in the NFC East at 3-5, their worse start since Reid became the coach in 1999. Overlaying Sunday night’s nightmare with even more nastiness was the marquee game enjoyed by one Terrell Owens. T.O. caught 10 balls for 174 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown. He galloped like a stallion through the Eagles’ secondary while a smile cruelly played on the corners of his mouth.Once upon a time, of course, Owens was banished from Philadelphia for his bombastic feuds with management and Donovan McNabb. Things haven’t been the same in the City of Brotherly Love since T.O.’s exile. The beleaguered Philadelphia secondary was shredded like the cheese at Pat’s Steaks by newly minted Cowboys multimillionaire quarterback Tony Romo, who was steak-knife sharp in completing 20 of 25 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ passing game, with the exception of a 45-yard strike to Reggie Brown, exhibited a serious lack of vertical presence. McNabb threw 46 times through a chorus of boos, completing 27 of them for just 264 yards, one touchdown and two picks.

With his sons off to jail, Reid focuses on the Eagles' salvation

If you think you’ve have a bad week, how about Andy Reid?The day after a judge likened Reid’s home to a “drug emporium” while sentencing his sons Garrett, 24, and Britt, 22, to 23 months in prison, the Eagles head coach said Friday that he’s staying on the job.And why not? From all accounts, Reid, despite his family being in crisis, hasn’t had a relaxed grip on his team.A team, by the way, that has a pivotal game Sunday night against the dreaded Dallas Cowboys at the Linc on NBC.Just what Reid needs, a game in prime time on national television. I’m sure he would prefer playing the Reading High jayvees at George Field on Saturday morning. While Reid supposedly has a white-knuckle grip on his team’s reins, the judge implied that Reid and his wife have had a relaxed grip on their family. But with his sons off to prison and then hopefully rehab to snap themselves free from their drug-induced spiral, what could Reid accomplish at home?His sons already have ruined their lives for now, so why take out the old man, too?It’s much too late for Reid to lecture his sons about the dangers of heroin, cocaine and OxyContin. His sons are addicts, and the disease clearly has made them deaf to family guidance. Young men who get a thrill out of being the rich kid selling drugs in the poor, violent neighborhoods of Philadelphia and smuggling prescription drugs in their rectum to use in their drug cell are in need of professional therapy.So cut Reid some slack and let him find some renewed strength by keeping his nose to the grindstone. Men in the NFL have no patience for weakness. So it must gnaw on Reid that he and his family have grown so intimate with weakness. And that he has failed to be a vessel of hope for his sons. Of course, Monday morning quarterbacks are second-guessing Reid, wondering whether his addiction to work caused him to neglect his family.True or not, it’s too late to unring the bell.