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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day edition


My mother is a graduate of Punxsutawney High School, class of ‘50, so I’ve always felt a special kinship to this stress-free, offbeat holiday. Every year on February 2 my Mom makes Groundhog cookies. I want to stress: There’s no critter in groundhog cookies.

• Why the 1993 Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” isn’t considered one of the best American movies ever is a reflection of critical snobbery. It is hilarious, romantic, inventive and when Murray’s Phil Connor character decides to save the decrepit homeless man he’d been ignoring the previous several hundred days or so, it shows something many other more critically acclaimed movies never show: it shows heart. His soulful pivot from selfishness to selflessness is as timeless a tale as anything conjured by Charles Dickens.

• In 2010, overseas wars will continue to rage, famine and natural disaster will reap a bitter toll on luckless unfortunates and many, like me, will struggle to earn a living. But if news reports prove correct and Pittsburgh Penguin owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle manage to pry the Pittsburgh Pirate franchise from the miserly hands of current owner Bob Nutting, I will consider this a year as joyful as the ones that saw the births of my children.

• Pittsburgh Magazine continues its flattering mentions of www.EightDaysToAmish.com by in its print edition saying it’s one of the best of the ‘burgh blogs. As I always say, I can’t eat such praise, but it does nourish.

• Equally pleasing was a lavish mention in the Thailand-based The Caffeinated Globe. My new friend January Asia, whom I mentioned in my New Year’s Day e-dress, turned over to me a large part of her post Whoopie Pie and Eight Days To Amish. In it, she allows me to explain about the origins of Whoopie Pie or gobs (otherwise stolid Amish farmers would see them in their lunch boxes and say, “Whoopie!”), about my travels to the Lancaster County village Intercourse, Pa., and how the place got its name. It was all in good fun. Plus, I like it anytime I get to mention Intercourse because I get to recall the bumper sticker I saw there that said: “Virginia May Be For Lovers, But Pennsylvania has Intercourse.”

• My hatred for Bob Nutting and his infernal role in 17 consecutive years of losing Pirate baseball is unrivaled in sports history. I ran into him this past summer at a Bob Dylan concert. When I said his name and asked what he was doing, he approached me in the beer line hoping, I guess, for an amigo moment. He stuck his hand out and said, “I’m doing fine. How are you?” I told him I didn’t ask how he was doing. I asked what he was doing. Then I lit into him for three minutes about his cheap mismanagement of the once-proud team I love. He sheepishly began backing away and stammered that, well, he was at least glad I still cared. I snarled back, “I stopped caring the day you traded Nate McLouth!”

• If it comes across as disparagement, it is unintended, but “Groundhog Day” is to Groundhog Day movies what “It’s a Wonderful Life” is to Christmas flicks.

• I hope I ruined an otherwise fine Dylan show (John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson performed, too) for Nutting. He’s certainly ruined many, many nights for me. I wonder if in moments of doubt he wonders, “Gee, maybe that wobbly drunk from the beer line at the Dylan show was right. Maybe I should spend more on player development and sign young talent to long-term deals. Hmmm . . . .”

• Yes, I understand the "www" stands for “world-wide web” but I’m still tickled to realize that a number of people wake up in farflung Thailand and think, “I wonder what that guy who works above the little family tavern in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, thinks about the great Lemieux’s efforts to buy the Bucs from that jerk Nutting.” I wonder if I have more readers in Thailand than I do in Latrobe.

• Still, if you combined all the readers I have in Latrobe with all the readers I have in Thailand, you’d probably have about a meager total of 25, or about the same number of people as on a professional baseball roster.

• I’ll bet a team of my combined readers in Thailand and Latrobe could kick the asses of Nutting’s sorry Pirates. I’d like to see that humiliation.

• I’m enjoying contributing to Twitter more than I thought. I now have 50 posts so, please, check it out at http://twitter.com/8days2amish. I think my tweet of the week so far is: “Civilization will descend into chaos within two years after someone, and it's bound to happen, invents an iPhone lie detector app.”

• Look for me to tweet that line about Pennsylvanians having Intercourse several times in connection with Valentine’s Day.

• Groundhog Phil saw his shadow and that means six more weeks of winter. In commemoration of this great stress-free holiday, try and do something nice for yourself and nice for someone else. Then do it over and over and over, again and again and again.

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