The New Legend of PUNK-sutawney Phil

Did you ever see the movie Groundhog Day…Groundhog Day…Groundhog Day?

1994. Bill Murray. Andie MacDowell, Haven’t seen her in a long time, which may be good as in my memory, she is still looking very good, and also not too bad of an actress.

Two Book Crossover 11.13


I remember seeing it in the theatre, and it was pretty good. As I recall, it centered around a TV crew covering Groundhog Day – the annual (February 2) celebration held in Punxsutawney, PA, when Phil the Groundhog emerges from his temporary home in Gobbler’s Knob to great fanfare. If he sees his shadow and returns to his hole, it portends six more weeks of winter-like weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow, he is predicting an early spring.

Yes, they’ve been doing this since 1887, which means that – per actuarial records of the longevity of the average groundhog – there have probably been about 20 Punxsutawney Phils.

The movie also became a metaphor for people, whole towns and perhaps, rodents, doing the same thing over and over again. How do we get out of these often self-imposed ruts.

In this great year of 2014, where everything seems to be flying by (except for the winter weather), this past Sunday (March 16) marked six weeks since Phil apparently saw his shadow, which foreboded six more weeks of crappy, snowy weather. And on the start of the seventh week, we got one more blast of snow, causing my son’s school district to delay school openings for the 87th time this winter. School has also been canceled about 42 other times. This all means that not only will there be no summer vacation, but the graduating class of 2014 will march down the aisles in August. 2015.

Slight exaggerations aside, this winter has totally, well, sucked. I would enjoy the novelty of a Saint Paddy’s Day snowfall if: a) there hadn’t been 150 other days of snow and black ice that preceded it, or b) it snowed in green. I'm dreaming of a green St. Patrick's

And yes, it is a bit Groundhog Day-ish to constantly complain about the weather, and I’m guilty as charged. Mark Twain once said, “Everybody complains about the weather, and nobody does anything about it.” That’s a great and very resonant line, even if it was actually said by his pal, Charles Dudley Warner, who probably complained a lot about this false attribution.

I certainly can’t do anything about the weather, including moving to a warmer locale or even taking a tropical vacation this year, but I do offer a theory on this hideous winter of 2014. It seems as if we’ve done something to piss off the weather gods (or God, should you share this belief). Or maybe, the weather is actually affected by those little rodents from Gobbler’s Knob. And this year, it wasn’t Punxsutawney Phil who temporarily emerged. It was his mischievous cousin, PUNK-sutawney Phil.

Yes, my friends, we have been punked. Big time. And I’m not snowing you.

My aforementioned son, Benny, who is five-and-a-half, started a new line of questioning for me a few weeks ago. A la Groundhog Day, it repeats itself (with just minor variations) multiple times a day.

Daddy, when you were young, how many friends did you have?

I’m still young.


I don’t know, I didn’t always have the same friends from year to year.

So, how many?


How do you know?

Well, I don’t, really.


Benny: When you were young, did you watch "Family Guy?"

Matt:  No, it wasn't around back then.

B: How do you know?

M: I just know; it wasn't around then.

B: So, you remember every single TV show that was on back then?

M: Well, I don’t really.

In our own version of Groundhog Day, despite my obvious deep reservoirs of knowledge and unparalleled wit, I never seem to have the right answers; my son is always one step ahead of me. At times, admittedly, this annoys me. In the grand scheme of things, and even if this promises to repeat itself in untold ways over the next years, I do enjoy it, and will miss it when it ends.

Much more than I’ll ever miss another March blanket of white snow.

PUNKsutawney Phil, crawl back in your knob.

(Matt Goldberg) is the author of five books and hundreds of eclectic, published writings. He is also available to help you craft the article, speech (and even book) that will help you best reach your intended audience. Contact him via matt@tipofthegoldberg for all inquiries.

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