Happy Groundhog Day in Advance

A week from tomorrow is Groundhog Day already. The long-range forecast for the Philadelphia region called for snow on February 2nd, the last time I looked at it; but checking it again while writing this, the prognostication is for partly cloudy.

Still, there’s a good chance old Punxsutawney Phil won’t see his shadow and springtime weather will be rapidly forthcoming. The funny part of all this is we’ve been having quite a mild, snowless season thus far in these parts with some days feeling more like spring than winter.

How accurate is that dadburned groundhog’s predictions anyway? According to an article from Life Science, written last year at around this time, Phil has been forecasting the weather for over 120 years, first tasked with predicting the start of spring weather in 1887.

The sleepy critter is roused at sunrise by the Inner Circle of the Groundhog Club in Punxsutawney, PA, every February 2nd, to see if he casts a shadow. The article states that Phil doesn’t have to see his own shadow to make the forecast; he just has to emit one. So much for the running back into his hole scared for six weeks if he does witness it. Nonetheless, the club cares for the rodent year-round, probably in plush surroundings.

Getting back to the accuracy of the groundhog’s foretelling the future, prior to last year, Phil had predicted 103 times for more winter, and 19 for an early spring. Nine years worth of data was missing for some reason. Matching the predictions with the actual outcomes since 1969, the overall tally has been correct about 36% of the time.

He was more accurate with the short-winter vaticinations for that period with a score of 47% correct, but one would be better off flipping a coin to make either determination. With a coin toss, the chance of being spot-on is 50%.

Why write about this a week ahead of time when it would be more appropriate to do so next Saturday night, February 1st? Everyone will be mentioning it then, especially on Social Media. I like to be on the cutting edge of things. Besides, my mind drew a blank about what to feature in tonight’s entry.

Punxsutawney Phil isn’t the only forecasting rodent. Several others are located in various parts of the country. Staten Island Chuck, aka Charles G. Hogg—who resides at the Staten Island Zoo—serves as the official prognosticator for New York City, usually attended by the mayor. The groundhog bit the Honorable Michael Bloomberg when he officiated as NYC’s chief executive in 2009. Now the ex-mayor has his sights set on the presidency as a Democratic candidate during this election year.

Chuck was replaced on the sly by his granddaughter, Charlotte, as a result. In 2014, the current mayor: Bill de Blasio, dropped her onto the ground during the ceremony. She died a week later due to acute internal injuries consistent with a fall, according to an article in the New York Post entitled: “Zoo in cover-up after groundhog dropped by de Blasio dies.”

Then there’s the immortal movie called Goundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, in which he gets trapped in a time loop, waking up every morning to the same Sonny and Cher’s song, “I Got You Babe,” on the clock radio, spending the rest of the day stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, covering the annual Groundhog Day festivities for what seems like ages. It was hilarious. If you haven’t seen the film, be sure to watch it next Sunday. Surely (don’t call me Shirley), it will be playing on one of cable TV’s 189 or so channels. A trailer about the flick is posted below.

Here’s hoping Phil and whomever has taken over Staten Island Chuck’s job won’t cast a shadow on February 2nd. If Phil does, who cares with his accuracy? However, the Staten Island Zoo claims Chuck has correctly predicted the end of winter 82% of the time since 1981 . Either way, I’ll be awaiting the outcome, looking forward to the return of my beloved ospreys and baseball season.

Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

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Music History 101

A little trick with Nick:

Nick, Nick, bo-bick,
Bo-na-na fanna fo fick,
Fee fi mo-mick,

That was an excerpt from the song, “The Name Game,” by Shirley Ellis. Do you remember it? Probably not, unless you’re a Baby Boomer, part of the Silent Generation, or a musicologist whose expertise deals with songs of the ’60s.

Written and released in late-1964, the year when the Beatles first appeared live on American television, the ditty was on every kid’s repertoire at the time. Funny how I can still recite it, when sometimes what occurred yesterday is lost in my memory.

How about “Mike”?

Mike, Mike, bo-bike,
Bo-na-na, fanna fo fike,
Fee-fi mo-mike,

In 1965, the song hit number three on radio’s Top Ten, played at least once an hour throughout the day and night. No wonder I still remember it.

Next month is the fifty-sixth anniversary of the momentous occasions when the Fab Four appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. The boys played live on February 9th in New York City, secondly from Miami on the following Sunday, and shown prerecorded on February 23rd, all three of which were witnessed by yours truly.

However, the first time I heard about the Mop Tops was on December 14, 1963, while at Bowler City in Hackensack, N.J., during my regularly scheduled, Saturday-morning, kids’ bowling league.

“Did you see the Beatles on the news Tuesday?” one of my teammates said. He was referring to a feature by Walter Cronkite on the December 10th CBS Evening News, containing an interview with the group and footage of their performing “She Loves You.”

“No,” I said, thinking he meant beetles. I couldn’t imagine what that was all about.

“Man, you should have seen the hair on them.”

“Hmm, bugs with hair. That had to be interesting to watch.”

“Not insects, dummy; a rock-and-roll band from England. They were really great.”

Well, the rest is history for this soon-to-be Beatle-maniac, who went as far as being a drummer in a garage band, playing mostly their tunes. Thus spawned the British Invasion, hippies, the Summer of Love, and the turbulence of the latter part of the 1960s, quite an era in which to be growing up.

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day of remembrance and service, commemorating one of America’s greatest civil-rights advocates, but exemplifying the tragedies that befell the 1960s, which included also the killing of John and Robert Kennedy; the insanity of Charles Manson and the Tate-LaBianca murders.

The Beatles came to America at a time when its citizens needed a diversion from the horrors felt by a president’s assassination, nuclear threat during a cold war, and the realities of Vietnam from which a body count of those who died was daily fodder for Cronkite’s evening newscasts.

In closing, let’s do one more from “The Name Game,” and our favorite, “Chuck”:

Chuck, Chuck, bo-buck,
Bo-na-na, fanna fo …,

Er, maybe we’d better end it right there; but that’s the reason the tune was on every one of my friends’ top-ten list of songs to wear out. Thanks for stopping by, and for your continued support.

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Waxing Poetic: Blame It On The Full Moon

Another year has passed us by, seemingly at double time for me,
But through it all, the only things that I did see,
Were the soles of my boots with big holes underneath,
From dragging my feet, attempting to slow those circles down.

Used to be the shoemaker could save me some cash,
By resoling the bottoms to once again dash.
But the cost at Wally Mart to buy a new pair,
Was cheaper than the price of the cobbler’s repair.

So I purchased myself some that were brand-spanking new,
Waterproof, insulated, and quite comfortable too.
Didn’t even have to break the boots in,
They feel so good, I’m wearing a big grin.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy,
Something simple like this can make me sappy,
By writing a rune that some might consider crappy,
Causing them to want to take a nappy (Zzz).

I decided to scribe this poem,
While sitting at home on Saturday night all alone,
It doesn’t require much effort to conjugate, so I’m told;
Please allow me to rant, if I may be so bold.

This is my weekly sacrifice to the gods of Internet blogs,
These verses have been slaughtered and should be thrown out to the dogs,
Instead of presenting them to my readers, whomever they may be,
I only know of a few who sometimes leave a comment for me.

But most of the time it seems these words of wit are written in vain,
The silence I hear is driving me insane,
But then, again, it is me behind the wheel,
It’s all my fault, so what’s the big deal?

I’m afraid like van Gogh, my fame will be found,
After my body is laying six feet in the ground,
And that’s a good reason for feeling so damned down,
And sitting here tonight with a big, fat frown.

Why am I saying always, “Woe is me”?
Is it for attention that I seek?
Nay, that’s a big waste of time, if I may be so bleak,
No one loves you when you’re down, so to speak.

Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company,
M-I-C: See you real soon;
K-E-Y: Why? Because we like you;

As a postscript to the prior tirade, posted on January 4th, the Eagles ended their season last Sunday unfortunately, falling to Seattle. Yesterday felt more like spring than winter, with temps in the upper 60s/20C, making me look forward to baseball. Hopefully this will be the Phillies’ year to shine.

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The Birds made it to the playoffs at the magical end of an exciting regular season last Sunday, eliminating the Cowboys from contention by beating the Giants. Ask me if I feel badly for Dallas.

Tomorrow is the first trial in Philadelphia’s 2020 quest for their second Super Bowl championship since 2018 with a wild-card game at the Linc against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy came home to Philly in 2018 as the result of our hometown heroes’ beating New England in Super Bowl LII. Last year they made the playoffs as a wildcard, beating the Chicago Bears and moving on to the divisional playoffs, losing to the New Orleans Saints in a heartbreaking game.

Both events were spearheaded by Nick Foles, who has since moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars, where his first season as a starting quarterback was filled with bad luck.

Now it’s Carson Wentz’s turn to shine. Here’s to success for the Philadelphia Eagles to make it all the way to Super Bowl LIV at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, and beyond, bringing home the Lombardi Trophy once again! Below is a good-luck charm fashioned for tomorrow’s game.

For the Eagles’ drive toward the championship in 2018 and 2019, I made several digitally manipulated scenes for each playoff sequence, using the cast of bald eagles from my area: Pennypack Park on the Delaware River in Philly, the Andalusia raptors, Delanco, NJ, birds of prey; Burlington Island and Lake Luxembourg nesting pairs. The illustrations seemed to do the trick, except for the last one.

The following were my masterpieces for the 2018 playoffs through the championship, and the 2019 playoffs:

January 5, 2018 – Go Birds!
January 13, 2018 – Divisional Championship Against the Falcons
January 21, 2018 – Conference Championship Against the Vikings
February 4, 2018 – Super Bowl LII Championship Win Against the Patriots
January 6, 2019 – Wildcard Win Against the Bears
January 13, 2019 – Divisional Playoff Loss Against New Orleans

I decided to come back from my hiatus and post this entry, being fired up for tomorrow’s game and the potential continuance of our beloved Eagles in this postseason. Not making the self-imposed 500-word quota for my weekly tirades, I’m cutting this one short with only 375 words and ending with, “Go Birds,” and “Fly, Eagles, Fly!”

Thanks for your continued support.

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Taking a break from writing. Don’t know when I’ll be back. Who gives a shit anyway?

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A Holiday Reminiscence

Christmas is just a few days away. Hanukkah starts on Sunday. Reminiscing is a big part of the holiday season. At least it is for me. It cheers me up to think about the good times spent while growing up, waiting for Father Christmas to drop off all the booty I had been hoping to get.

One of my earliest recollections was having the mumps at four or five years old during the joyous holiday. My parents let me lay on the couch to be part of festivities, although I wasn’t really into the spirit of the occasion. Felt like I was going to die.

Don’t remember what presents I got though. I think one of them might have been a toy U.S. Postal Service truck. It was pretty nifty. A coin slot went through the roof and the inside was a bank. The back doors of the tiny vehicle opened up to a vault which needed a key to open for removing any coins put inside.

Off course I lost the key and used a hammer to make a withdrawal for buying some candy at the corner store. That was the end of that.

When I was in second grade, my family moved to Dumont, N.J. One of my best friends was named Johnny. He was chubby as a cherub. Another good friend, Richie, skinny as a noodle, lived on the next block by me. We’d walk to school together everyday, meeting Johnny on the way at the corner of his street.

I’d love to say our trek was for several miles up and down hills to get there, but fortunately for us, Lincoln Elementary was about a third of a mile away, or almost one-half kilometers.

We did hike in all kinds of weather though. Johnny was always late. One time we left without him. I can still hear him yelling, “Hey fellows, wait for me,” as he came barreling down his hill. His feet were moving like those of the Road Runner from Looney Tunes.

What made me think of Dumont was Johnny and how his family celebrated the holidays. His dad was Jewish, and his mom was Catholic. The boys were raised in his father’s faith, while his sisters practiced their mother’s religion. I thought it was cool that the kids ended up celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas together, getting all those presents to boot.

Went on Google Earth to measure how far our school was from my house and was surprised that it’s still there after all these years. It looks great. Too bad my parents sold it so soon and we moved to Oradell, NJ, for my stint in fourth grade.

Our house was the one with the red truck in front of it. My bedroom was on the second floor on the right behind those two windows. There was a side door back then; but other than that, it looks the same except for the vinyl siding. They sure don’t build them like used to.

The kids in the house on the right had a guinea pig in a cage outside in their back yard. I had a crush on the girl who lived there, and would hang out with her often. She’d let me play with her pet.

The entire neighborhood appears pretty much like it did when we lived there. That really warms my heart too. Richie lived in the house behind that corner store in the above photo, which is now a 7-11. Johnny lived one block over to the right. Here’s what his hill looks like now. It seemed quite a bit steeper when we were children.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Joyous New Year to you. Thanks for allowing me to clear the cobwebs from my memory, for your stopping by, and for your continued support.

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Today's Tirade: Put a Sock in It!

Meme Borrowed From Here

Why do small dogs have such annoying barks? Not only does the shrill of their yapping grind my nerves like someone’s shifting the gears of a standard transmission without applying the clutch, but the sheer intensity of the mongrel’s yipping, building to a lengthy crescendo, after which the annoyance starts all over again is enough to land me in the county’s asylum.

Don’t get me wrong. I love all types of dogs as much as anyone; however, when their insistent racket occurs constantly, like by the runt who lives with my new neighbors next door, my sanity—whatever is left of it—extends to the very limit.

Every time I clang a pot or dish in my kitchen, where an exit leads into a back hallway and stairs adjacent to where the animal lives, this dog has to start barking as if the sky was falling. Any noise is liable to get the critter wound up like a mainspring.

How does one tell a dog’s owner to shut their animal’s trap without causing bad feelings? I’m not one to call the authorities and make a complaint like my nemeses, the neighbors downstairs, did to me. Fortunately, they moved out finally.

The other day, I heard a small mutt outside of my apartment, going off like a siren. The dog got so raveled, it sounded like a terrified woman, screaming, “Oh my God,” repeatedly for at least a half-dozen times. I looked out the window to see if the lady needed help, only to see an ugly cur, bearing its teeth at a squirrel while its owner was holding the nuisance back on its leash.

When I moved into this place, going on twenty-four years ago, no dogs were allowed. Tenants didn’t have to worry about stepping in dog excrement, to put it politely. Neither did we have to put up with habitual barking at odd hours of the day or night. It was just recently within the past couple of years that the new owners of this complex started allowing them. Methinks it’s time for me to move out.

There goes that damned mongrel next door again, shrieking like the building is on fire. Perhaps it heard my aggravated tapping on the keyboard as I’m composing this tirade from my dining-room table.

While looking for memes or something related to my diatribe, I found the one at top and the following caricature on Google, for which the latter might do the trick to let the neighbors know anonymously, their dog is a pain in my butt. Maybe I’ll print it and tape the cartoon onto their door in the back hallway.

Courtesy of Natalie Dee.com

And another thing: why is it when someone’s typing about something that annoys them, they pound on the keys while entering their text? That’s like using all capital letters to indicate shouting, I guess. Life is full of mysteries.

Stayed indoors for most of today, as it was gloomy and raining. Got some chores done and photos sorted out. Put on my Fitbit just to see how many steps I took while walking around, which included a trip to the cleaners, supermarket, and the mall for some Christmas gifts. I walked close to 3,000 steps, which totaled 1.5 miles/2.4 kilometers traveled.

Still sticking to my diet, I dropped a few pounds this past week. Nineteen more are left to shed for reaching my goal. That’s going to be hard with the upcoming holidays and all the goodies therefrom. The Fitbit also registered 175 kcal burned today. Oh boy, I can eat an extra chocolate-chip cookie and not feel guilty.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit, and for your continued support.

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