5 Furry Philly Groundhog Day Alternatives to Punxsutawney Phil

There is nothing wrong with Punxsutawney Phil.

In fact, for a groundhog, the little guy is pretty cute. Getting a bit chubby in the cheeks, perhaps, but by February, who isn’t. Maybe he really can predict the weather, or maybe he only emerges from his cozy winter burrow for the same reason we all eventually do. Either way, he’s a good-natured Groundhog Day MC, and for that we should be grateful — especially since he forecasted an early spring this morning.

But growing up in the city, I can’t say that I’ve ever actually seen a groundhog, much less a groundhog meteorologist.

What I did see on Saturday afternoon was the world’s mangiest sparrow struggling to carry a Cheetos Crunchy Flamin’ Hot down Second Street. As my dogs and I approached, he fluffed up what were left of his post-blizzard feathers and teetered toward us, one wiry little foot at a time, as if to say, “Come one step closer and you’ll be sorry, lady — and your little dogs, too.” We backed off, and eventually he was able to secure his cargo, flying away to enjoy it in the safety of my neighbor’s gutter.

Did this mean that we’re looking at six more weeks of Cheetos-hoarding weather? Who knows, but I’d trust my little orange-dusted friend to know what’s up in Philadelphia over a backwoodsy groundhog. (No offense, Phil — you did good this morning, and I’d love to believe you.) I’d trust these guys, too. Read more »

Philly’s 8 Best #Savesies Tools, Ranked

Your choice. | Photos by Holly Otterbein and Shutterstock.com

The Philadelphia way. | Photos by Holly Otterbein and Shutterstock.com

We’re not here to debate #Savesies.

As you probably know, the practice is illegal. Should you spend Saturday morning digging the car out, you’re expected to leave that freshly shoveled spot’s fate to chance, as per the Philadelphia Police Department’s brilliant #NoSavesies campaign (now featuring Drake).

As you definitely know, that’s not how it works around here. Deed or no deed, Philadelphians will defend “their” parking spots’ honor to the death, reserving them with everything from beach chairs to stolen property.

Is there a right or a wrong here? Maybe, but there’s no use exploring it. Both #Savesies and #NoSavesies convictions run deep, passed down from generation to generation, protected in our righteous hearts under a higher law. We might be able to have a reasonable debate about abortion or the death penalty, but not parking. Please God no. Not here and not now.

Instead, let’s cool down and make a lighthearted list, as lists rarely inspire fight-fights or death threats. With that in mind, here are Philly’s top #Savesies weapons of choice, ranked from “Meh” to “I ain’t afraid to die anymore.” Read more »

Why I’m Buying Girl Scout Cookies By the Case This Year

There are a couple reasons I buy Girl Scout cookies by the case.

For one, they are the most perfect and beautiful cookie in all the land, an almost otherworldly balance of chocolate and wafer and dreams come true. If David Bowie were to return to us as a cookie, it would be as a Thin Mint.

Secondly, I’ve found that Girl Scout cookies appreciate in value as the months go on, and come fall, can actually be used as currency. Bitcoin might be circling the drain, but if you have a freezer full of Do-Si-Dos in November? Well, friend, you’re in charge.

But also, and I very rarely say this, it’s about more than cookies. The Girl Scouts, Tagalongs or no Tagalongs, will always have a place in my heart. Read more »

No, Millennials Aren’t Ruining the Workforce

First, a disclaimer.

Even though I technically fall in the “millennial” camp — a generation that Pew defines as adults age 18-34 — I’m on the upper end of the spectrum, and it’s starting to show. I don’t know how to use Snapchat, I get anxious every time someone talks about Peach, and I just recently upgraded to an iPhone 4. A little over a year ago I invested in a sectional sofa and premium cable, so my days of being even the least bit relevant are numbered.

But, yes, still a millennial. And as such, according to a recent piece in Philadelphia magazine, part of a generation that is responsible for “ruining the workforce.”

Did I raise an eyebrow at that headline? Yes. Did I raise it as high as some of my fellow millennials? Judging by the hundreds and hundreds of heated comments the article inspired, absolutely not. (I mean, Jesus Christ, guys — calm down already. I’ve gotten divorced with less drama.)

As deliciously millennial as it would be to write an opinion piece critiquing an opinion piece, I’m going to pass. (Or, am I going to tip-toe around it for another 400 words in a millennial tightrope-walking act, reluctant to commit and afraid to offend in the absence of a trigger warning?) Instead, in the interest of restoring the peace, I’m here to dispel some common misconceptions about my people. Read more »

How to Deal With the Mummers: 4 Steps Inspired by Your Racist Aunt on Facebook

Finnegans New Years Brigade 2016

Finnegans New Year’s Brigade’s Caitlyn Jenner performance on Friday. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

If you believe the Mummers, things will be different next year.

In a press release issued Sunday, parade organizers condemned this year’s antics — including brown face, signs referring to Caitlyn Jenner as a “tranny,” an attack on a gay man and This Unholy Specimen — and outlined an impressive, seemingly sincere plan to make next year a more inclusive event.

Newly minted Mayor Jim Kenney, for one, seems hopeful. “There’s been lots of strides that the Mummers Parade has made over the years, but there is always one dumb thing that happens that really does affect people and offend people,” he said Tuesday. “We have to try to start over, and we’re working on that with the human relations commission and our LGBT affairs leader Nellie Fitzpatrick.” And now there’s discussion of sensitivity training, pre-screening of acts, sanctions and more.

I like Kenney, and I hope he’s right. But at the same time, this is only his fifth day on the job. It’s easy to have hope less than a week into even the most impossible of gigs, to truly believe that a mix of hard work and know-how can bring about change and uncover truth. (I’ve never been mayor, but I have bartended at TGI Friday’s, so I feel pretty qualified to pass on this advice: When your blender shorts out during the middle of the Ultimate Mudslide happy hour that is Philadelphia, Mr. Kenney, just try to remember all of the reasons you don’t want to go to jail. I find writing them on a napkin helps.) Read more »

Here’s My Problem With Tina Fey’s Mean-Girl “Philly” Accent

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Tina Fey on SNL (left), and at the opening of Sisters in New York (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Before we start, let’s get a couple important things out of the way.

1) Tina Fey is annoyingly talented and outrageously funny. There are a few seasons of 30 Rock that I’d argue are as good as anything that ever happened on TV, and if I made smart weekend choices, I would have seen Sisters. I don’t, so I saw The Night Before and kept wondering if Tina Fey and Amy Poehler could have saved it.

2) No one should apologize for jokes, least of all Tina Fey. She already warned us that she will not be held responsible for the loss of any PC angel wings, and for that I salute her.

3) Can I say that she looked amazing in that leather mini dress? Or is that anti-feminist? Screw it — as a woman who would sell the remainder of her soul for an ass like that, I’m saying Tina Fey looked amazing. While we’re at it, Hillary is having a great hair week. Well done, ladies.

This all said, I could have done without that now-viral “Bronx Beatsegment on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. In case you live under a beautiful Internet rock, here’s the idea: Basic Bronx housewives Poehler and Maya Rudolph host a talk show, while Fey plays their heavily accented guest, Cousin Karen from the violent hellhole that is Philly. Read more »

Why I Decided to Stop Renting in Philly and Take the Home-Ownership Plunge

Illustration by Tim Parker

Illustration by Tim Parker

I expected my apartment hunt to be over before the weekend.

After all, I’ve never been particularly picky. My must-haves were few, and after a decade of renting in Philly, my definition of “charming” had become pretty generous.

That drafty West Philly studio? I didn’t just like it — I loved it, squatter mouse and all. He kept to himself, rarely invited friends over, and spent most of his time in the oven, which was fine by me — the oven didn’t work, and even if it did, I didn’t cook. In retrospect, the little guy was probably one of my best roommates. Read more »

Okay People, the Donald Trump Joke Is Over

Left: Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  (Courtesy of Warner Bros.) Right: Donald Trump in Las Vegas. (John Locher, AP)

Left: Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Courtesy of Warner Bros.) Right: Donald Trump in Las Vegas. (John Locher, AP)

I discovered a new favorite game a couple months ago while rereading the Harry Potter series. I call it, simply, “Who said it: Lord Voldemort or Donald Trump?”

Provided you don’t catch Voldemort during a tender moment, the bigoted egomaniacs have a lot in common. Want to play, for old time’s sake?

“There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.” (Voldemort, who apparently read The Art of the Deal)

“My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.” (this one is Trump, master of the Veritaserum serum)

“I can make things move without touching them. I can make animals do what I want without training them. I can make bad things happen to people who are mean to me.” (Voldemort, by a hair)

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” (Trump, by a less dignified hair)

“I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they’re going back.” (Trump, right before outlining his position on mudbloods and muggles)

I’m not the first to connect the dots between the Dark Lord and the Donald. A genius Google Chrome extension changes all mentions of Trump to Voldemort or one of his aliases, including “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” “You-Know-Who” or “Tom Riddle.”

It was an amusing little feature for a minute, but honestly, like my Harry Potter game, it’s just not that much fun anymore. Read more »

It’s Almost Christmas. Should You Tip Your Uber Driver?

I like to consider myself a pretty good tipper.

Then again, I suspect tipping is like sex and dancing — everyone walks through this world thinking they’re bringing something special to the table, when in reality they’re just not screwing it up royally enough to be publicly shamed.

So perhaps I’m an average tipper with the occasional flash of inspiration given the right lighting. Either way, I know how things work.

As a follower of the golden rule (“Tip everyone who could poison you or make you ugly”), I never leave a restaurant, bar stool or salon chair without handing over at least 20 percent. I understand that a delivery charge isn’t a tip, just as I understand that my dog groomer risked her life to tie that cute little ribbon around Murph’s neck. Around the holidays, I add a little extra across the board and leave a card for the mail carrier like a good Northeast girl.

And yet, I didn’t tip my Uber driver the other night. He was probably the most pleasant person I had interacted with all day, his car was immaculate, and he waited for me to get in the door before waving and driving off. Short of calling my mom, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Why yes, it did feel weird. Read more »

Naked or Not, the Pirelli Calendar Is Just a Promotional Calendar

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From left: Yao Chen, Patti Smith, Mellody Hobson and Serena Williams. Photos | Annie Liebowitz, Pirelli 2016 calendar

The Pirelli calendar never debuts without a fuss. It is, perhaps, the only promotional calendar that arrives in the mail with some swagger, that doesn’t risk a trip to the recycling bin if your insurance company pulls through with puppies in hats or kittens on windmills.

Usually, that’s because the Italian tire manufacturer casts barely dressed supermodels to ring in each month. This year it’s because … I’m not quite sure yet. But according to yesterday’s New York Times headline, “The 2016 Pirelli Calendar May Signal A Cultural Shift.”

To which I have to say: Really? Read more »

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