Harold Ramis

“Acting is all about big hair and funny props… All the great actors knew it. Olivier knew it, Brando knew it”. — Harold Ramis, Ghostbusters DVD commentary

I was always a big fan. He was silly while maintaining an intellectual persona.

This title card from the Groundhog Day trailer shows what a real Renaissance man looks like.

Harold Ramis will be missed.


Tomorrow’s Groundhog Day

With Groundhog Day tomorrow I thought I’d write about Punxsutawney Phil.

I write a small column (a columnette?) every day in the Hartford Courant. It appears on Page 2 with the weather maps. It’s just 75 words, which is the challenge. It’s tough to have a beginning, middle and end in that tiny a space.

With Groundhog Day tomorrow I thought I’d write about Punxsutawney Phil.

It’s Groundhog Day. Maybe you’re happy, but I don’t appreciate seeing a rodent do my job! I expect mostly cloudy skies in Punxsutawney as Phil is hoisted by the scruff of his neck to look for his shadow (and possibly Bill Murray). That doesn’t seem to make a difference. Phil’s seen his shadow 99 of the last 115 years! A federal agency analyzed Phil’s forecast. “No predictive skill,” they say. Or, more succinctly, he’s a rodent!

Please Punxsutawney Phil, Make Me A Believer

No wonder there’s snow on-the-ground that seems to have been here long enough to be graduating high school by now!

I’ve had a lot of time to think about our weather lately. The most obvious feature has been the storms. Unfortunately there’s a lot more than that! It has been cold, really cold, since winter officially began.

We haven’t seen 40&#176 since January 18&#185. Before that there was a three day stretch of 40&#176+ temps from December 31 through January 2. Since December 14 those are the only four days above 40&#176!

No wonder there’s snow on-the-ground that seems to have been here long enough to be graduating high school by now!

Yesterday’s maximum temperature at Bradley was a full 15&#176 below average. Is anyone surprised?

We’re pummeled. We’re softened. We’re depressed. We’re surly. We’re actually considering the purchase of a roof rake (a tool I didn’t know existed until now). We’re all watching the Cymbalta commercials with greater interest.

I’m no psychologist, but when I read stuff like this…

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter,

I want to raise my hand and shout, “Guilty, your honor.”

According to Amy Rolph at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,

Punxsutawney Phil delighted onlookers Wednesday morning when he failed to see his own shadow. Not surprising, considering the winter weather that’s bearing down on Pennsylvania right now.

But according to tradition, that means we’re in for an early spring.

I so want to buy into Phil’s forecast even if it means I have to embrace Bill Murray’s appraisal from Groundhog Day… even if it means my chosen profession can be done by a five to ten pound rodent.

“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.” – Bill Murray in Groundhog Day

Whatever it takes I’m done with winter. Mother Nature this is a dysfunctional relationship we’re in. I’m not sure counseling will help. Pack up your things before I pack up mine.

&#185 – Based on readings at New Haven. Your actual mileage may vary.

Bought Off By Cookies

Every year, like clockwork, they arrive for Weatherman’s Day&#185. They are cookies – amazing cookies with zillions of calories and enough butterfat to drive a cardiologist to drink. A local bakery, part of a national chain selling cookie arrangements, sends them.

The bakery hopes the cookies will get on TV, giving them lots of exposure for minimal cost. And, the food slut I am – they get on the air!

I think, after having these cookies the past few years, I understand the incredible temptation an addict faces. There’s just no way for me to resist the cookies. I am powerless.

Even before the first bite, I am tasting them.

For some reason, when the cookies come, I get very popular. People who have no idea where the Weather Center is, amble into the studio nose first. They are an easy giveaway to a grateful staff already hopped up on caffeinated coffee.

This year there’s one small problem. The little sign on the cellophane wrapping said, “Don’t open until Weatherman’s Day, February 2nd.” February 2nd is actually Groundhog Day. Weatherman’s Day doesn’t come until the 5th.

Right – like I’d wait. These puppies are gone.

&#185 – What, you haven’t sent cards! Hey, I hadn’t heard of Weatherman’s Day either. Thank heavens for the Internet. Here’s what they’re saying about it on HolidayInsights.com:

National Weatherman’s Day honors weathermen, and woman who work hard to accurately predict the often fickle weather. Despite major technological advances and supercomputers, forecasting the weather is still a tricky, and ever changing business.

Knowing the weather is important in so many ways. It affect how we dress, where we go, and even if we go. Space launches are made or delayed depending upon the weather. And, knowing the weather can save lives. The most obvious example is knowing when and where hurricanes or tornadoes may hit.

According to the Air Force News, Weatherman’s Day “commemorates the birth of John Jeffries, one of America’s first weathermen”. Jeffries was born on Feb 5, 1744. He kept weather records from 1774 to 1816.

If you see a weatherman today, give them your appreciation for a job well done.

I Hate That Woodchuck

Drunk people in Western Pennsylvania get up early every February 2nd and watch as grown men in top hats and tails hold up a groundhog (aka – woodchuck) by the scruff of the neck. If the groundhog sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it’s an early spring.

Punxsutawney Phil – rodent

It is Groundhog Day. This is the one day every year when Punxsutawney, PA gets on the map.

Since I know some of you reading this check in from outside the United States, let me quickly explain. Drunk people in Western Pennsylvania get up early every February 2nd and watch as grown men in top hats and tails hold up a groundhog (aka – woodchuck) by the scruff of the neck. If the groundhog sees his shadow, we get six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it’s an early spring.

This is a media event. Look at how they were set up for this morning

As the Groundhog Day celebration has grown in Punxsutawney over the past several years, so has our preparedness for the many members of the media who visit our town each year.

There are provisions in place to allow for convenient parking for satellite and other press vehicles at Gobbler’s Knob, and a designated press area is available for those covering the events.

Please contact us if we can help you with any aspect of your visit to Punxsutawney, or if you wish to arrange a radio or other interview.

A video feed of the events will be provided by the state of Pennsylvania:

EVENT: Groundhog Day Ceremony

TIME: 5:45 to 8:00 (Eastern)

SATELLITE: AMC – 9 (KU Band Analog)

MHz: 36



DOWNLINK POL: Horizontal


AUDIO: 6.2 / 6.8

By the way, it’s a scam!

OK – it’s not Enron or Tyco, but the Punxsutawney books are being cooked. This morning at sunrise, Gobbler’s Knobb, site of the groundhog, sat under a cloudy sky. That should have meant no shadow for Punxsutawney Phil. Guess again.

As always, Phil did see his shadow and word went out we’ll get another six weeks of winter.

As a weatherman… now a meteorologist… nothing thrills me less than knowing America is waiting to hear from the woodchuck that wants my gig! Damn you Punxsutawney Phil!

There is one good thing that’s come from Punxsutawney (other than my trip there, 30 or so years ago, for my friend Joel’s wedding at the Punxsutawney Country Club). it’s the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, Andie McDowell and Chris Elliott¹.

I originally thought the movie was awful, but as I’ve watched it again and again and again, it has grown on me. Now I willingly watch and enjoy.

I wonder if anyone ever walks up to the woodchuck and tells him, “I wish I could have a job where I’m wrong 50% of the time and still get paid.” No – all the rodent gets is praise.

¹ – Chris Elliott lives, or lived, in a beautiful part of the state, not far from the mouth of the Connecticut River. if you run into him, please tell him I’m a fan.

50 First Dates

Steffie went out with friends tonight, leaving Helaine and me the opportunity to go on a date. OK – maybe date is an overstatement, but we went out.

First it was dinner at our local, family run, Italian restaurant. We love this place. The food is very good. But, even more, we feel like we’re part of their family. And, it really is a family place with parents, children and spouses working in the kitchen or at the tables.

Being on The South Beach Diet (which within this first week seems very much like Atkins), an Italian restaurant is normally a bad choice. Over time, on and off diets, they’ve grown used to me and prepare something close to, but not quite from, the menu. Tonight, the chicken, Parmesan cheese and spinach were just right.

There’s not much playing at the movies right now that appealed to us, so it was off to 50 First Dates. We’d seen Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer – a movie where their charisma outweighed a stupid script. They were enjoyable and we were hoping they’d be just that again.

We got to the theater in plenty of time, but I wanted coffee… and they had none. I am about to give in to the fact that I’m addicted to caffeine. There’s a Barnes and Noble, with Starbucks inside, about a block away. As Helaine got two seats, I walked over. Their coffee is much too strong and bitter for my taste. That’s how I know I’m addicted. I drank it all.

The premise of the movie is a reach, at best. I’ve heard it compared to Groundhog Day, but I don’t think the comparison is in order. Drew Barrymore, having suffered a car accident, only has one day of short term memory. So, as she wakes up each day, it’s the day of the accident.

The problem with the script is, she is forced to be more savvy about her situation than she could be if starting from scratch every day. It really doesn’t make any difference. The success of the movie, and it is a success, is totally based on the two principals. I’m not a fan of either, yet together they’re great. We probably don’t have Doris Day and Rock Hudson here, but what we do have is a couple who are fun to be with.

Now, an admission. Throughout the movie, filmed mostly in Hawaii, are native Hawaiians. Sandler’s movie ‘best buddy’ was a Hawaiin… or so I thought. It was actually Rob Schneider. If Helaine wouldn’t have told me, I would have never known.

Actually, if I would have known, I’d have been a lot less likely to go.

Also in the movie, in a small role, is Dan Akroyd. He’s good, but what’s he doing here? Does he need the work that badly? Shouldn’t he be taking larger roles?

Also seen, and in a truly minuscule role, Maya Rudolph from Saturday Night Live. I’m a big fan of hers, but Hawaii sure seems like a long flight for so little screen time. This was a nothing role – a shame.