Feb. 1, 2011 -- Regardless of whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow tomorrow, one thing is certain: expect more snow. Entire swaths of the country are stuck in a numbingly recursive wintry loop as this "Groundhog Day" of a season shows no sign of abating.
In the movie "Groundhog Day" Bill Murray plays a weatherman doomed to relive the same Feb. 2 in Punxsutawney, Pa., over and over again, until he achieves some sort of spiritual breakthrough.
But increasingly, it seems like perpetual deja vu for the rest of us in real life: we're waking up to another snowy morning, the GOP has control of the House, the Steelers and the Packers are in the Super Bowl and Charlie Sheen is back in rehab. At least in the last instance, spiritual awakening does not seem imminent.
Here then is a rundown of all the ways in which this February has us feeling like Bill Murray, stuck in our own private "Groundhog Day."
Snow My Gosh. Snomageddon, Snowzilla, Snowpocalypse, Snowtorious B.I.G. … we're all running out of clever things to call the latest monster blizzard. And frankly we're a bit too snowed under to even try that hard any more. And yet, here we go again. A headline on weather.com touted this week: "New Month, Same Results: Major Winter Storm on Tap." In other words: deja vu, all snover again.
Charlie Sheen in Rehab. It's well-nigh impossible to remember a news cycle that didn't include tales of Sheen's shenanigans. The film and television star has been tabloid fodder since as far back as 1990, when he accidentally shot his then-fiancee, Kelly Preston, in the arm. (She subsequently broke things off.)
Since then, he has been seen carousing with porn stars -- including a long-term relationship with Ginger Lynn in the 1990s -- and was reportedly fingered as one of "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss's clients. He's been married three times, fathered five children, overdosed on cocaine and been charged with domestic violence.
And, most recently, just last week the "Two and a Half Men" star took a hiatus from the show to enter rehab for at least the third time after suffering from "severe abdominal pains" in the wake of a days-long binge with several porn stars. No word yet on what it will mean if Sheen sees his shadow upon emerging from treatment.
G.O.P. Majority. The 1994 midterm elections resulted in a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives, and a pickup of eight seats in the Senate. The so-called "Republican Revolution" represented a stinging rebuke to a young centrist Democratic president who had been swept into office promising change, hope and health care reform. Sound familiar?
Super Bowl 2011. There is something decidedly old school about the matchup in this year's big game. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers will face off to play for the NFL title this month, leading us to wonder who will walk home with a ring: the team of the 1960s or the team of the 1970s? The one aspect of the show that will be decidedly -- and depressingly -- new school: the halftime act will be the Black Eyed Peas. We're guessing Prince saw his shadow.
Speaking of Old School. New York has a Cuomo in the governor's mansion ... and Jerry Brown is California's chief executive. What year is it?
Tech Valuation Bubble. Remember the speculative dot-com bubble of the late 1990s? AOL acquired Time Warner, WorldCom filed for the third largest bankruptcy ever, pets.com went from a massive IPO to liquidation in 268 days, leaving behind only a sock puppet. Thank goodness we learned our lesson. Right, guys?
Not so fast. Apple recently became the second most valuable company in the world, behind ExxonMobil, with a market cap of $305 billion. Facebook -- Facebook! -- was recently valued at $50 billion by investors. In December, backers placed a $3.7 billion valuation on Twitter. Groupon turned down a $6 billion takeover offer from Google last month, and is now considering an IPO that could reach $15 billion. Groupon, you'll recall, is a coupon company. Can anyone else say "pop"?
Housing Prices Fall. Again. You know all those signs of economic recovery we've been hearing about? Not to burst your bubble, but home values actually dropped in all of the 28 major metropolitan areas tracked during the fourth quarter when compared to a year earlier, according to the Wall Street Journal. The paper also reported that price declines even intensified in several markets that had so far remained largely unscathed, such as Seattle and Portland, Ore. Shadow or no, this is one more year in which your average groundhog won't be upgrading his burrow.
Nutrition Guidelines. Federal officials released Monday the government's latest advice to Americans on what they should be eating, and guess what. They sound an awful lot like the old guidelines. The new guidelines include 23 recommendations, including: don't eat too much salt, reduce calories from solid fats and sugars, eat more fruits and vegetables. Uhhh. Wake us up when the guidelines include more whiskey and loose women.
A Royal Wedding. The heir to the British throne is engaged to marry a young, glamorous commoner who has become the subject of rabid fascination of the tabloids. What could possibly go wrong?
Space Shuttle Discovery. The oldest orbiter in service, Discovery has been performing research and International Space Station (ISS) assembly missions since 1984. Discovery was the shuttle that, among other things, launched the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 and carried John Glenn, the oldest astronaut in history at 77, back into space on October 29, 1998.
And now, the shuttle is yet again on its seaside launch pad in Florida to prepare for what NASA is calling its final mission. Discovery is slated to launch Feb. 24, carrying six astronauts and a load of new tools and spare supplies to the ISS. Prompting us to wonder: are there shadows in space?