Tag Archives | groundhog day

What Groundhog Day Means on Alternative Earths

Groundhog laughing

  • Our Universe: groundhog sees its shadow = 6 more weeks of winter.
  • Foofy Bum Universe: annual celebration of Lord Fuzzy’s victory over the Lizard Horde.
  • Zentropia Universe: day of the year when all rodents are allowed to drive.
  • It’s-in-the-hole! Universe: Bill Murray [praise be his name] emerges from his four-fold slumber and chooses what remakes will be permitted in Hollywood that year.
  • Universe of the Great Unnamed Ones: groundhog sees its shadow = 6 more eons of creeping dread.
Alltop loves seeing its own humor.

 

 

New fiction: The Real Primo

Cover for the Corvus Review, Fall 2016
Corvus Review just published a new short story that I’ve been noodling with for some time: The Real Primo. (pp. 59-67)

If you’ve ever watched (and enjoyed) Groundhog Day, or read Friedrich Nietzsche’s difficulty concept of the Eternal Return, or have a passing familiarity with the “Eastern” concept of reincarnation, then this story will appeal to you. Here’s the opening lines:

The Real Primo

by Mark A. Rayner

Would you believe me if I told you Buddha had the set up all wrong?

It didn’t dawn on me right away. One moment I was in my rental car, minding my own business, and the next, there are headlights shining in my face. The driver looked up at the very last minute, shock on his face. Thinking about it, he was probably texting, or maybe working on his laptop, but he was definitely not paying attention to the road. He’d slipped across lanes, in the dark, doing about 60 miles an hour. His massive truck intersected with my non-upgraded, economy rental car – a Chevy Spark “or similar” made out of tissue paper and paint. That was the underwhelming end of both the car and what you might think of as my life.

There was a horrible screeching sound of metal and machine disintegrating, a flash of terrifying light and a moment of exquisite, transcendent pain. It was more than just a physical pain. It was a feeling of loss, of absolute tragedy; but also, mixed in with the sadness, a feeling of warmth and love. There wasn’t time to remember anything. There was a blurry light, and the sound of a baby crying.

Read the rest of the story on pages 59-67, here.

A Short History of Groundhog Day

Defeat of the Groundhogs!On February 2, it is customary in Canada and the United States to celebrate an annual tradition wherein we allow a chubby burrowing rodent to forecast the weather. This is an important ritual, but not for the reason that many people think.

Many believe this “holiday” can be traced back to an ancient pagan ritual called Imbolc, which was duly adopted by early Christians and turned into Candlemas. (This means Mass of the Candles, in which the clergy would perform ear candling on the most hairy-eared and disgusting member of each parish, in a metaphorical recreation of the time when Jesus performed the Ear Candling of Jergomethia, cleaning the aural canals of a score of waxy hermits, and curing them of their deafness.) Finally, this holiday or “holy day” was further perverted by the German-speaking populations of Pennsylvania, who fused the day with European folklore and a desire to celebrate fersommling, a kind of Pennsylvania Dutch orgy. (Obviously, these depravities are only celebrated by the Fancy Dutch, and eschewed by the more plain sects, such as the Amish, Dunkards and Mennonites.)

However, there live amongst some of the Elders in these plain sects of the Pennsylvania Dutch — or P-Dutch, as they are known on the streets of Philadelphia — the horrible, truthful truth.

Once, North America was largely ruled by these underground rodents of the family Sciuridae, and though they lived largely in peace with the native human populations, the arrival of the white man marked the end of their peaceful co-existence. For when the early settlers began tearing up the forests, and plowing the meadows where the groundhog, or woodchuck, lives, war between all men and the Tcuckbar (as the groundhogs call their own race) began.

The Whistle Pig, preparing to strikeAmongst the Elders of the Dunkards, this is known as the Grundschwein Zehekriege, or literally, “groundhog toe wars”; this name is taken from the favourite martial tactic of the Tcuckbar, which is to sever the large toe of a human being, and thus cause him to lose his balance, fall down, and then have his carotid artery savaged. Normally, groundhogs are peaceful herbivores, but when roused, they can eat up to twice their own weight in human flesh.

It is when they are thus engorged, looking almost like a bristly boar that they are most dangerous. Indeed, one of their other names is taken from this state: while in boar mode, the average groundhog will make a high-pitched sound, from whence their nickname, “whistle pig” derives.

During this dark period of the war, many humans took to fighting one another, or slaughtering local wolf populations, for no-one could believe such excessive butchery could be done by the lowly woodchuck — and the groundhog attackers were always disappearing into holes or climbing trees before humans could spot them. (You didn’t know they could climb trees, did you? Then you probably don’t know about their limited psychokinetic ability to move small objects such as golf balls, musket balls, and human eyes.)

Eventually, through an uncharacteristic adoption of empiric method the P-Dutch Fußführer (or “Foot Leader”), Johann Suppetrinker, figured out it was the groundhogs, and the war turned to the favour of the human forces. Unfortunately, most humans outside the P-Dutch Confederacy did not believe Suppetrinker’s explanation, and it took many years for the humans to gain control of the situation.

Ritual humiliation of defeated groundhogTo this day crack forces of Amish and Mennonite Grundschweinmörders (Groundhog Killers) spend part of every winter season hunting down resistant forces of the dangerous Tcuckbar groundhog clans. Luckily, evolution has done the rest of the work for us, and the remaining non-sentient species is largely harmless, except to the occasional horse or golfer.

But this is why we celebrate Groundhog Day, and the annual humiliation ritual surrounding it. Otherwise, what other explanation could there be for the pomp and elaborate circumstance of this winter rite? Punxsutawney Phil and Wiarton Willie are not terrified by their own shadow, so much as the deep racial memory of seeing the figure of an Amish Grundschweinmörder, poised to spit him on a finely crafted spitzerstock. (Pointed stick.)

And they’ve only been slightly more accurate at predicting the end of winter than the Farmer’s Almanac, the P-Dutch edition included.

Alltop doesn’t believe that Wiarton Willie even exists. Picture of ritually humiliated groundhog courtesy of Scottobear. Brilliant artwork of Whistle Pig preparing to strike by ~Artsammich. Defeat of groundhog poster by Northfield.org.