First D.J.: Rise and shine, campers and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today.
Second D.J.: It's cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?
First D.J.: Not hardly. So the big question on everybody's lips...
Second D.J.: on their chapped lips...
First D.J.: ...their chapped lips is, "Does Phil feel lucky?" Punxsatawney Phil! That's right, woodchuck chuckers it's...
(IN UNISON): GROUNDHOG DAY!!!
Today, Punxsutawney Phil --- the Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary will predicted whether we will have six more weeks of winter. According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, and hasn't seen it (predicting an early spring) only 14 times. (UPDATE: Phil makes it 97 this morning). Phil's track record is hotly disputed, though he's has been right 80 percent of the time over the last ten years. Nevertheless, a crowd of somewhere between 15000 and 40000 will spend a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog at Gobbler's Knob in the tiny Pennsylvania hamlet that has become known as the "Weather Capital of the World," due in no small part to the movie that makes every day Groundhog Day.
This is one time where the Internet really fails to capture the true excitement of a movie about a large squirrel predicting the weather. However, you can see the trailer as a refresher.
In 2005, Roger Ebert revisited Groundhog Day, declaring that the film "finds its note and purpose so precisely that its genius may not be immediately noticeable. It unfolds so inevitably, is so entertaining, so apparently effortless, that you have to stand back and slap yourself before you see how good it really is."
At the other end of the political spectrum, Jonah Goldberg's equally effusive movie meditation grabbed the cover of National Review: "When I set out to write this article, I thought it'd be fun to do a quirky homage to an offbeat flick, one I think is brilliant as both comedy and moral philosophy. But while doing what I intended to be cursory research -- how much reporting do you need for a review of a twelve-year-old movie that plays constantly on cable? -- I discovered that I wasn't alone in my interest. In the years since its release the film has been taken up by Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans, and followers of the oppressed Chinese Falun Gong movement."
Indeed, a 2004 article mentioned by Ebert (but not linked) from London's Independent observes that the Harold Ramis comedy has been hailed by some religious leaders as the most spiritual film of all time. In addition to the examples given in that article, another can be found at the Christian Science Monitor.
As Phil Connors ultimately observed: "When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."
ACCORDINGLY, we start off a new week:
...with Sonny & Cher on Hullabaloo and famously on Letterman years later, plus UB40 with Chrissie Hynde, not to mention The Cynics (from the Bonograph tribute CD), and David Bowie & Marianne Faithful.
MOTOWN AT 50: PopMatters completes its week-long series of features, including favorite singles, oddities, the label's band, its influence on hip=hop and more,,, ALSO: Amazon is selling the MP3s of Motown's No. 1s for 1.99.
THE ANNUALS played the World Cafe on Friday; you can stream the gig on demand via NPR.
TOM JONES stopped by the World Cafe for a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via NPR.
HEARTLESS BAST^RDS get a meaty profile in The New York Times.
LISA LOEB got hitched to Roey Hershkovitz, a music supervisor for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. But did they play "Stay (I Missed You)" at the reception?
BISHOP ALLEN: Justin Rice talks to Exclaim about Victorian literary nomenclature, vinyl fetishes, and forthcoming record, Grrr....
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE talks to the Seattle P-I and the Houston Chronicle about his solo LP and what keeps the collective humming.
BEIRUT: Zach Condon talks to Metromix about Mexican folk music and...electronica.
NEKO CASE talks to Spinner about animal rights and tells PETA to "blow me."
WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Liam Neeson has Taken the top slot with an impressive 24.6 million, which was at or above expectations. It was a bit risky to open an action film on SuperBowl weekend, but it paid off. Paul Blart: Mall Cop slides to second, earning another 14 million on a decent 35 percent drop. The Uninvited debuted in third place with 10.5 million, which may be acceptable, assuming a budget of 25 million. Hotel For Dogs held the fourth slot, but even as counter-programming to football, its 48 million total to date is well short of a reported 75 million production budget. Gran Torino rounds out the Top Five with 8.6 million, having made 110 million on a 33 million production budget. Below the fold, Slumdog Millionaire slides to sixth, but has made 67.2 million in the US on a 15 million budget. Worldwide, it has made almost 100 million. New in Town debuted in eighth place, which makes this weekend not at all super for Renee Zelleweger.
BRITNEY SPEARS' conservators have just obtained a restraining order against Sam Lutfi and Adnan Ghalib; a source close to the pop wreck claims that she hoped they could be locked up in jail. Lufti and Ghalib are accused in court docs of spreading misinformation about conservator Jamie Spears and the family.
MADONNA won her battle with former husband Guy Ritchie to take their children back to the US.
HEATH LEDGER: A ten-million-dollar lawsuit over his life insurance policy has reached a confidential settlement.
SUZANNE SOMERS' SECRET? Vaginal Hormone Injections and 60 Pills a Day. Shouldn't that have remained secret?
SUPERBOWL TRAILER PARK: NBC finally sold out the ads for the Big Game (hey, where's that economic downturn?); H'wood was there in force, with teasers for Transformers 2, the Star Trek reboot, G.I. Joe, the latest Fast & Furious, Will Ferrell's take on Land of the Lost, Jack Black and Michael Cera in the Harold Ramis-helmed Year One, and Pixar's Up, among others.
PAMELA ANDERSON finds love in a trailer park. Shocka!
JOHN CLEESE is telling friends he has dumped the girlfriend who claimed to be 27 years old, but may be 45. Apparently, her comments about him were the final straws.
ALYSON HANNIGAN tells Ellen DeGeneres that being pregnant not only gives her cravings - but makes her feel like a stoned Koala bear.
NORTH KOREA said Friday it is ditching a nonaggression pact and all other peace agreements with South Korea, in an apparent attempt to use the threat of an armed clash to press Seoul to give up its "confrontational" stance.
AFGHANISTAN: The Afghan "Awakening" program has begun. The US may add a fifth brigade to serve as Afghan Army trainers.
IRAN: With Pres. Ahmadinejad demanding that US Pres. Obama apologize for America's great transgressions against Iran, it's worth remembering that the Clinton Administration already did. Twice. Obama's offer to talk is being taken as a sign of weakness. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad has again cast his lot with Holocaust deniers.
IRAQ successfully held provincial elections with few reports of violence. An estimated 51 percent of eligible voters participated. The Dawa party is leading in the southern and central provinces. Bombs were detonated at the homes of politicians in Ninewa and Babil.
KITTEHS on a ROOMBA: The inevitable sequel to Cat on a Roomba.
ROLCATS: Like LOLCats, but with Russian captions, translated into English.
HENRY the TUATARA has unexpectedly become a father at the ripe old age of 111 after receiving treatment for a cancer that made him hostile toward prospective mates.
GORILLA FIGHT captured on camera.
FOUR-LEGGED SNAKE helps legislative candidate lure voters in Indonesia. After all, on the campaign trial, the snake usually has two legs.