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Updated: 02/02/05

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Wednesday, 02 February, 2005

Bloody rodent.

Yeah, I got your six weeks of winter . . .

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) _ Punxsutawney Phil has spoken, and the news isn't good.

The world's most famous furry forecaster saw his shadow Wednesday on Gobbler's Knob, suggesting another six weeks of wintry weather.

The chubby critter delivered the prediction after he was pulled from his burrow in an oak stump at 7:31 a.m. by a top-hatted handler, and his prediction was greeted by boos from the thousands in attendance.

"He's only the messenger!" one of the members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club _ the volunteer group in charge of Phil and the town's Groundhog Day festivities _ reminded the crowd braving the frigid weather.

One website was asking for Groundhog Day poetry. Here are a couple that I liked:

I kill a rodent
My tires grind it into sludge
It makes no shadow

Cloudy: Spring in March.
Shadow: Six more Winter weeks.
Mileage may vary.

My own contribution:

A sleepy rodent
Predicts six more winter weeks
Phil sleeps with fishes

[If he sees his shadow, it's six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see it, it's a month and a half.]

I'm feeling really old. I mean, here I am, forty-something, and 30-year old Leonardo DiCaprio receives a Lifetime Achievement Award for his film career. Sorry, let me repeat that:

Thirty year old.

Just dumb. So should he just pack it in now? What on earth is left for the poor guy? The best comment I read about it was from Twincities.com:

At this year's Oscar's, they'll be giving 10-year-old Dakota Fanning an award for Lifetime Achievement in Film. OK, not really, but that moment may not be far off, what with Leonardo DiCaprio being honored for his 30-year lifetime of achievement by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which apparently hasn't heard of oh, say, Olivia de Havilland or Paul Newman or anyone else who has actually lived most of a lifetime.

What the Santa Barbara award is really about, though, is the Oscars. DiCaprio is on the campaign trail (he's a best-actor nominee for "The Aviator"), so he has to show up for every talk show, film festival or grocery store dedication that will result in publicity that could (a) sell a few more "The Aviator" tickets, and (b) help him win the big prize on Feb. 27.

[It's all about the benjamins.]

I dunno. There's something a little desperate about a terrorist group that doesn't have a real hostages, so they just use an action figure:

So-called U.S. hostage appears to be toy

(CNN) -- A photograph posted on an Islamist Web site appears to be that of an action figure and not a U.S. soldier being held hostage. Liam Cusack, the marketing coordinator for Dragon Models USA, said the figure pictured on the Web site is believed to be "Special Ops Cody," a military action figure the company manufactured in late 2003.

Special Operations or Ken?

"It pretty much looks exactly like the same person," he said.

Of course the blogosphere is having a field day with it -"Coming up next: Islamic Hostage Barbie."

My favorite, though, is the toy soldier's diary posted at Tech Central Station. Here's an excerpt:

24 January 2005: The interrogators were relentless. But I gave them only my name, rank, and UPC code.

They mocked my fear. "It better here than American prison, yes? We read all about atrocities performed on Iraqi action figure POWs."

"What happened at the Island of Misfit Toys," I hissed, "was not policy. That was just some crazy rogue reindeer, screwing around unsupervised. Santa Claus will still be confirmed by 75-80 votes in the Senate."

No, wait, maybe this is my favorite:

Captive U.S. Soldier Doll Rescued by Bush Doll

(2005-02-01) -- Just hours after Islamic militants in Iraq threatened to behead a kidnapped U.S. soldier doll, the camouflaged action figure was rescued in a daring nighttime operation by a toy George W. Bush action figure.

The nine-inch-tall replica of the president left Andrews Air Force Base in a scale model of Air Force One within minutes after the Pentagon learned of the kidnapping from a picture on an Islamic website.

The top-secret flight was reminiscent of the life-size president's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad in 2003. During the long trip, the presidential doll was programmed to say intimidating things in Arabic, and reportedly spent several hours practicing his kung-fu grip.

Even as the mission was secretly under way, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-MA, went before the Senate to call for the immediate withdrawal of 12,000 military action figures from Iraq.

Upon hearing of the Bush doll's successful mission, Sen. John Kerry, D-MA, warned against "overhyping" the significance of the apparently heroic deed.

[Somehow I don't think this has helped the terrorists' agenda.]

Forgot to mention the new Operation Uber-Moms countdown tracker. Actually I wasn't entirely sure that it would work until I uploaded the page, so didn't want to get your hopes up.

[Feel free to up your hopes.]

Quote du jour:

"Humor and knowledge are the two great hopes of our culture."

-- Konrad Lorenz

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