Saturday, November 30, 2013

how else could you know so much?

Today is the very special Day 121 recap of what’s been going on in The Groundhog Day Project since the Day 62 recap.

Day 63: kindest, sweetest, prettiest was a piece about love.

Day 64: there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb was the time I talked about the comic book Daytripper and explained how Groundhog Day leads to nuclear war.

Day 65: it’s all one big crapshoot anyhoo is the entry in which I deal with the hypothetical days after some of the various February 2nds we see in the film.

Day 66: not my kind of fun is the entry in which I describe some details of the behind-the-scenes extra, The Weight of Time that’s on the DVD.

Day 67: going out on a limb here involves google maps and locations used in the movie.

Day 68: the people and the fun is an entry about some background extras and how they amuse me.

Day 69: i don’t even have to floss is actually one of the more “important” entries, I think, starting with Phil’s lack of a need to eat and getting into how vital the “Bronco” scene is to the entire film and what Phil Connors represents.

Day 70: the first time i saw you deals with Phil’s insanity and the moment he “falls in love” with Rita… also this is when I trademarked the phrase “time loop date rape.”

Day 71: it’s more in the wrist than the finger is the day I deal with tarot cards and Phil and Rita. And, I revisit the tarot cards on Day 92: be the hat because I missed something the first time.

Day 72: i know that’s what i said involves my second listen to the director’s commentary track, but I don’t learn anything new, so I don’t say much.

Day 73: nothing to be too scared about is the first of several “impromptu” entries in which I take a sheet full of impromptu speech quotations and link them all to Groundhog Day. I do it again on Day 87: bundle up warm of course, Day 101: you can leave your galoshes at home, Day 102: I’m gonna stay here and finish (which completes the list from the day before), and then the latest was split over two days again, Day 119: let’s just do this and Day 120: then we’ll talk.

Day 74: basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts is a cheesy little entry about how my life is worth living and this blog is worth doing.

Day 75: only god can make a tree involves Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” and gets into the idea of confirmation bias (in case you’re not keeping up, one of my final papers this fall quarter involves a test of confirmation bias in relation to Groundhog Day. I’d probably share the paper on this blog but it’s primarily not about the film but about the theory, with a proposed study at the end involving the film.

Day 76: you could always use a little more deals with modernism and whether or not Phil Connors is a good person.

Day 77: you are new, aren’t you? is a sort of jumping on point for new readers, referencing a few in-jokes (but not explaining them, because that would be too easy) and explaining a bit of what I’ve been doing and why.

Day 78: when you stand in the snow deals with angels in Groundhog Day and the prevalence of the number 3 as the blog starts to get attached to religion.

Day 79: most of my work is with couples, families deals with Groundhog Day as therapy.

Day 80: i have an alcoholic now has nothing to do with its title but instead deals with gender roles in the film.

Day 81: are you drunk or something? explores the perspective of Rita for a change.

Day 82: i’ve always loved you deals with love (or the lack thereof) and, ultimately meaning in Groundhog Day.

Day 83: we made love like sea otters counters the previous couple entries in suggesting that Groundhog Day is all about love.

Day 84: close call folks deals with a few little things that bug me, like Rita being a robot.

Day 85: did you want to talk about the weather… deals with my obsessive tendencies and how life is busy, busy, busy.

Day 86: or were you just making chitchat? deals briefly with the idea that the longer the time loop, the harder it would be to get back to normalcy afterward.

Day 88: maybe read hustler or something deals with pooping. Really. And I will lament forever that I didn’t think to make the title “does he have to use the word, ‘poopy’?”

Day 89: i am an immortal deals with legacies, including what happens to our online social presence after death.

Day 90: i hope you enjoy the festivities deals with holidays and why this story could only take place on Groundhog Day.

Day 91: does this mean you’re gonna leave? is my shortest entry yet. I want to say shortest entry ever, but, well, I’ve got to leave my options open.

Day 93: twelve years of catholic school talking and Day 94: gosh, i should have known are my exploration of Phil Connors as Christ-Figure per Kozlovic’s (2009) scale. This will become a recurring topic as another one of my finals papers for the fall quarter involves the cinematic Christ-Figure.

Day 95: there is a heck of a lot more to it than that is the entry in which I don’t manage to deal with Phil’s possible Christ-complex (as a counterpoint to Phil as a Christ-Figure), but instead recap the short film Time Freak and deal with Andie MacDowell’s name and how Phil and Rita are my parents.

Day 96: about a million miles from where i started off in college gets into some of my personal history and where this blog fits into it.

Day 97: it is so good to see you deals with screencaps from Time Freak, Phil’s itinerary for the last day of the time loop, and some screencaps from Groundhog Day.

Day 98: i’ve spent a lot of time here explains how Groundhog Day might actually just be a lost episode of Doctor Who.

Day 99: one long setup deals with parenting roles in the film.

Day 100: i’ve seen it over a hundred times deals with the film-within-the-film Heidi II, the transience of ice sculpting as an artform, the meaning of a minivan, and a celebratory cake.

Day 103: i’m repeating the same day over and over again recalculates my old day count to see if I can get it to 40.

Day 104: none that i can see details new things found while watching my new blu-ray copy of the film.

Day 105: people like blood sausage, too. people are morons deals with weird food before getting into the role of food within the film.

Day 106: because i love you explores the film About Time and what I might or might not want to do if I could travel in time… and of course it connects to Phil Connors.

Day 107: he tried to swallow a whole cow returns to the topic of Phil as Christ-Figure.

Day 108: it’s hard down there at the bottom explains how Phil’s interactions with the old homeless man, O’Reilly, link to the four visions of Siddhartha Gautama.

Day 109: another step in the cycle of life counters the Christ-Figure stuff (and builds on the previous entry) by suggesting Phil is instead (or additionally) a Bodhisattva.

Day 110: here’s the report is mostly just a copy-and-paste sharing of the incomplete rough draft of my Christ-Figure paper, which is actually more about Superman than Phil Connors at this point.

Day 111: how do you know these people? involves a lot of screencaps and some labels for what I call various unnamed characters and background extras.

Day 112: the same old schtick deals with subtitles.

Day 113: not today was supposed to be another “impromptu” day but instead turned into me attempting to answer why I am doing this.

Day 114: catch you tomorrow, Day 115: what if there is no tomorrow? and Day 116: there wasn’t one today break down the screenplay structure of Groundhog Day… obviously with a lot of detail.

Day 117: you’re missing all the fun deals with a few crazy ideas, including one rather blasphemous one.

Day 118: what are you looking for? involves an old speech of mine and an old novel of mine and something about the brotherhood of man.

Day 121: how else could you know so much? made a list of entries to recap what’s been going on since Day 62: for your information.

then we'll talk

It continues:

"You know, my faith is one that admits some doubt." - Barack Obama

Faith cannot be faith, here, obviously, if I want to link this to Groundhog Day. So, the question then becomes, what is faith? Faith is when we believe stuff without evidence. Pre-loop Phil believes he's better than he is, that he deserves more than other people... Well, I'd actually probably argue that he doesn't really believe that, but I think he would think he believes it. Contrary to the quotation, I don't think Phil's "faith" then allows for doubt. But, the loop changes that. It breaks down his barriers, his defenses, and gives him a whole lot to doubt about who he believed he was.

But, that is cheating, because that isn't what the quotation is about. The quotation, I think, when taken on its own, suggests that faith should always admit doubts. I think this is actually a bad impromptu quotation, though, because it provides no conclusion with which to agree or disagree. One must first supply the conclusion, as I just have, then agree with that. If one didn't particularly like Obama, you could choose to interpret his doubts as weakness, whereas I think they are the opposite. And, trying to tie this to Phil Connors is almost impossible because Phil Connors has no faith. That's why Foley (2004) so readily suggests that Phil is seeking God--it's easy to assume that someone without religion wants it. And, as much as I would classify Groundhog Day as a "religious" film, I don't think it's fair to classify Phil Connors as a) a guy in search of religion or b) a guy who finds religion.

But, there I cheated again. I tell you that Foley said Phil was seeking God, but then deny Phil was seeking religion. Those two things are not one and the same. In fact, as vehemently as I once opposed Foley's notion, I think it's actually a fair assumption to suggest that Phil was looking for God when he looked up from O'Reilly's body. But, Foley...

I've had this "debate" with Foley before. Don't need to have it again. I think my position has changed slightly, in fact, because my "faith" has room for doubt as well.

"Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability." - George Bernard Shaw

This is a serious quotation about a serious topic, and on its terms, I would have to disagree. Plenty of martyrs had plenty of ability. But, the basic idea is simple enough that I immediately think of a very specific moment in Groundhog Day. Phil has just killed himself a few times and there's a scene in the morgue. Larry, who hasn't seemed to care much for Phil up to this point, tells the mortician, "He was a really great guy. I really really liked him... a lot." Larry's lying, of course. But, it makes sense that Phil's death would make Larry rethink his opinion of the guy at least enough to say he liked him... Obviously, this isn't literally becoming "famous" just becoming liked. But, you got to stretch these quotations sometimes.

"No government can be long secure without formidable opposition." - Benjamin Disraeli

This one is easy to link to Phil Connors after taking one big leap. "Government" obviously cannot be a political organization. But, I'd equate it to one's... disposition isn't the word I want. One's psyche? One's superego? What I mean to refer to is Phil's ability to control who he is. And, this quotation then suggests that who we are can never be permanent. Heraclitus would appreciate that. For Heraclitus, change is the one thing that is constant in the universe. In fact, one could extrapolate this quotation out to mean something general like that and do just about anything with it.

Anyway, who Phil thinks he is pre-loop--that guy would never expect that post-loop Phil could be the same guy. But, even with the few days we see (relative to the likely amount he actually spent in the loop), we can see Phil change believably.

"Angry men make themselves beds of nettles." - Samuel Richardson

This quotation seems to me a lot like one from yesterday--"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Men who are angry assume the world is angry and experience a world that is angry, because they limit their own means to sense the universe. Phil is not an "angry" man, but the same is true of him, that he sees the world through the blinders of who he is. He is self-centered so he cannot empathize with anyone else. Other people are barely even people to him. And all because, as he says himself, he doesn't even like himself. Broken down even more, this quotation goes with the saying, "you made your bed, now lie in it." Phil made the bed of his life and he's suffering for its shallowness.

"Television is a medium because anything well done is rare." - Fred Allen

Some silly pun work going on here. And, I think Fred Allen should not have been so quick to judge. There is plenty of well done television nowadays. That being said, given this quotation and the requirement to link it to Groundhog Day I could do a couple things:

1. Suggest that no television show has ever wrapped as much potential (for say, a long-term blog) in 1 hour 41 minutes (or just over two episodes of an hour-long drama, or four episodes of a sitcom) as Groundhog Day has. But, I love television as a medium and don't like lying in an impromptu speech. A debate round, sure, but not an impromptu.

2. Turn the quotation into something else. What is television, as Fred Allen sees it? It's frivolous entertainment. Of course none of it is well done, because none of it is trying to do anything of any import. Once I've got the quotation turned metaphorically into this much broader idea, then I can narrow it right back down to Phil Connors. Pre-loop Phil is television, wanting to entertain himself and just live in the moment, damn the consequences... which is interesting phrasing because ultimately, I think Phil learns to live in the moment, damn the consequences, depending on how you look at it, or what you think living in the moment means, or what damn the consequences means. But, anyway, Phil is the shallow medium Fred Allen sees in television. By the end of the loop, though, Phil has become more like modern television, with shows like Breaking Bad or Mad Men on the air.

"If adversity purifies men, why not nations?" - Jean Paul Richter

This is another weird impromptu quotation because, well, it's a question. Must you prove the first premise of this question in order to prove the second? Must examples prove both? I would argue that Groundhog Day is all about the first premise here; Phil's adversity may not be the normal stuff we'd call adversity, but it's still as detrimental to who he's trying to be, pre-loop. And, it certainly purifies him by first letting him run wild, then breaking him down and building him back up. Groundhog Day cannot be used to prove the second premise true, though. The wording of this question precludes simply turning Phil Connors into a symbol for all men or for nations, because it deliberately and specifically separates men from nations. So, maybe Phil Connors would be the attention getter, and then the speech would be about proving that nations act just like men, that they can be as fickle, that they can be as greedy, that they can be as good. Prove that nations can act like men and then you've got your syllogism intact: men are purified by adversity, nations are like men, so nations are purified by adversity.

"It's hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head." - Sally Kempton

Phil's enemy doesn't simply have outposts in his head, of course. Phil's enemy is his head. Pre-loop Phil is the enemy of post-loop Phil, holding him down, keeping him from ever existing. And, Phil has to fight himself to win. Along the way, though, he probably doesn't even realize he's fighting, or after date night, I suppose he knows he's fighting but he thinks he's losing, because he identifies with the wrong side in the battle for his psyche (or his soul). Fighting an enemy inside yourself means you have to break down your own identity, and at a certain point, attacking one's identity means the risk of losing all sense of self. It's a dangerous fight.

"In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back." - Charlie Brown

I would have to disagree with this quotation on the one hand, but agree with Charlie's understanding of what he's saying on the other hand. See, I get what Charlie's saying; a book should be something you can flip through, see what's coming, see the answers like it's a high school math book. But, the way I interpret the "book of life" concept is not so literal. And so, the answers are definitely in the back, because it is only at the tail end of life, seemingly, that we can ever really know what all of it was for. Now, I don't like what I just wrote, though, because a) it implies we cannot understand anything until it's over, but there is a spectrum of understanding and I believe we can understand a great deal long before life is over and b) it implies that there is some underlying reason for life that we need to discover. Personally, I think we create that reason, but sometimes it's difficult to explain the distinction there.

But anyway, I would have to say that the "answer" if there are any, would be at the "back" of the book of life. But, Charlie would still not have access to them because you can't just flip to the back of a metaphorical book. And, I haven't even connected this to Phil yet. Phil, I think, would agree with the idea that answers come later, that we've got to live our lives and our perspective from afterward is what explains everything. Or something like that. It is 1:39 AM as I type this. On the TV screen, Phil has just been approached by the nurse in the hospital and I think Phil is still looking for the answers. He wants O'Reilly's chart because he expects there to be something there he can fight. He wants answers because he thinks answers are... I almost wrote "answers are the answer" but that only makes sense in my head, I fear. Like Charlie Brown, Phil expects that there are objective answers, when sometimes life is simply subjective. As the nurse tells him, "sometimes people just die." Really, there's plenty of reason for a given person to die at a given time, but the "answers" don't always satisfy.

"If men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail." - Ulysses S. Grant

War has to be a metaphor, here, of course. And, Phil in act three is making war on who he is. Beside the time loop, which obviously negates some rules, Phil isn't acting by the usual rules either. From offering $1000 for a piano lesson to arbitrarily deciding to save a homeless man, Phil is not living life as anyone else normally would. His "war" has no rules except those he is inventing as he goes.

And, I'm trying to be faster with my responses so as to get through the entire list of prompts. But, I will fail to do so. There are still three quotations remaining. The question I have after that last quotation is, was my "war" here adhering too much to rules for me to get all the way through the list? If so, what rules? Was it that I took on too big a task linking this particular list of quotations to Groundhog Day? Or, was it that the more I get into this blog the more I get wordy and so the "rule" was that I couldn't be succinct? I suppose we'll never know...

Or I could say it's a bit of all of those. I should look at the first day I linked Groundhog Day to 21 quotations and see how brief I was, because as I wrote most of these paragraphs these last two days they didn't seem particularly long.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to find the most succinct way to say each and every thing I need to say that day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

let's just do this

I interrupted the "impromptu" tradition--previously here, here and here (that last one spilled into a part two)--last week to answer the obvious question people ask me about this blog: why?

(To be fair, that's not usually the first question; the first question is something along the lines of "you're doing what?" with a sort of shocked, confused tone.)

Today, I will not be interrupting... I don't think. I will be attempting to once again link impromptu speaking prompts to Groundhog Day.

"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." - Bertrand Russell

I think it's necessary to broaden this one right off the bat to link it to Groundhog Day since, obviously, this film has next to nothing to do with patriotism. But, if we broaden this out to something bigger, it connects. See, I think this quotation is dealing not exclusively in "patriotism" but all -isms. When we subscribe to -isms, we set aside some of our own will, effectively, letting a belief system we didn't create (most of the time, anyway) dictate what we do and what we don't do. And, it obviously is not explicitly about killing or being killed either, but about living. When we subscribe to an -ism, that -ism (if we're doing it "right") guides our lives on at least some level.

But, what about Phil Connors? Rita rightly terms Phil egocentric, so we could say he subscribes pre-loop (and early within the loop) to egocentrism; what feels good for him is worth his energy and what others would put upon him is something to avoid or at least complain about. Phil doesn't want to go to Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day but he does it because it's his job. And, his job comes with certain perks--in Rubin's original script, for example, Rita says, "the entire secretary pool is a Phil Connors relief club"--and makes him relatively famous, so his ego gets fed. It's not enough of course, hence his bragging (or probably lying, at least in the film version) about a major network being interested in him. His egocentrism drives his every action, his every put down, his every complaint. He doesn't deliberately (per se) put himself before everyone else; at this point in his egocentric life, he's on autopilot and that selfish stuff just comes naturally.

"Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation; you do not find it among gross people." - Samuel Johnson

Given this quotation in an impromptu round, I would have to assume the modern use for "gross." With the benefit of the internet, I can see that gross doesn't necessarily mean dirty or unkempt or disgusting; it might have just meant "large" for Samuel Johnson, living a few hundred years ago. Still, the point is much the same to his quotation. In either case, gross people are thankless people, and presumably a little hedonistic. Much like the previous quotation, this takes me to pre-loop and early-loop Phil. He's thankful for nothing. For example, Day 4 (after his epiphany on the road with Gus and Ralph) he thanks Mrs. Lancaster for asking how he slept and tells her he's love some of her coffee. On Day 1, he just made a joke about sleeping alone and insulted her under his breath for not knowing a better quality of morning beverage, so to speak. But, the last day of the loop, Phil accepts gratitude from several people, and arguably his Chekhov report indicates a certain gratitude he has, as well, for the people of Punxsutawney. Phil's not the big gross guy, but I think he's definitely the kind of guy Johnson was referring to. And so, it's not until he is better cultivated that he is able to give and receive thanks.

"Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim." - Bertrand Russell (again)

This must obviously be taken as a metaphor, because life is certainly not about being a literal criminal. I would interpret this quotation to mean that in life we compete to be the guy on top rather than the guy on the bottom. Russell may be making a deliberate value judgment in suggesting the guy on top is a criminal, but figuratively, I don't think this quotation necessarily means we are all automatically bad people just for taking part in the competition of modern life. Phil Connors, though--pre-loop and early-loop Phil is not a good guy. He lies for sex (and this simplistic take on the Phil Connoring process is how I often described it when I would actually do impromptu speeches, by the way), he punches a guy just for talking to him three days in a row; Ned is annoying, to be sure, but if we went around punching everyone who annoyed us, the world would be full of a lot more bruised people. Phil's early loop experience is certainly fitting with Russell's notion of competition, and Phil is the criminal. And, really, thinking more on it, I think it is perhaps quite deliberate, Russell's use of "criminal" because competing constantly to be better off than everyone else is not something we should probably view as positive. Being the best we can be ourselves--that's a different matter entirely.

"Wealth and high position won in an immoral way are like floating clouds to me." - Confucius

On first read, I thought of clouds as nice, pretty things, which completely reverses the meaning of this quotation. Confucius is clearly using clouds to suggest ephemerality, transience. So, I would take this quotation and interpret it to mean that when we gain things through immoral methods, we cannot hang onto those things. On the one hand, I would like to agree with this quotation--remember agreeing or disagreeing with the quotation is a part of the impromptu structure--because I wish it were true. On the other hand, Confucius needs to hang out on Wall Street a little more... well, after he figures out how to get out of his grave, at least. I think I would have to disagree with this in terms of the transience interpretation, but then, I could simply interpret it differently to approach it another way. Clouds are things of no real substance, no real value. Phil Connors would certainly agree with Confucius on this one. All the things he did pre-loop and early-loop--those things were without real substance. He was selfish and hedonistic and ultimately, it was an empty existence that wasn't good enough, that didn't make him happy. But, the "wealth" and "high position" he wins on the last day of the loop is more substantial, more worth the effort. He doesn't even need Zacchaeus' thanks to keep saving him from breaking his leg falling from that tree.

"The beauty of the second amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it." - Thomas Jefferson

This quotation is far too specific to be an impromptu prompt, I think. I would have been surprised if speaker two had picked this one over the previous one or the next one (he picked the Confucius quotation). I want to turn this thing into a metaphor, something along the lines of, we don't know what we're capable of until we are tested... actually, I kinda like that. Like the second amendment, it's the test that matters, not the amendment itself, or metaphorically, not whatever trait we have. Phil Connor's has a very positive trait pre-loop; he is attentive. He recognizes the DJ banter on Day 2 right away, even says along with them, "their chapped lips." He pays attention to what people say, even if he does use it against them, as he does with Rita in the van on the way to Punxsutawney. But, being attentive is a quality that survives the entire time loop. And, it survives because it is a useful, and positive, trait. Phil misuses it, just as men might misuse the second amendment; he tricks Nancy and tries to do the same to Rita. But, ultimately, his test comes in using his attention to detail for good. He knows when Zacchaeus falls from the tree and catches him, he knows when the old ladies get their flat tire and waits with jack and tire. He knows when Buster chokes and is there to save him, and so on.

"The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application." - Stanley J. Randall

This is Phil Connors's goal, of course, on date night. He's not aiming for real perfection, though, but Rita's purported ideal. And, his filling out of the application, metaphorically, is all the Phil Connoring, figure out her favorite drink and order it before she does, learn what she used to study and then study it, learn her favorite ice cream and have it waiting for her. The key to this quotation, though, and to Phil's situation on date night is in what comes after. Once the application is in, once you've got the job--once Phil is there in that bedroom with Rita--you still have to be able to actually do the job. Phil has to be able to be Rita's ideal, not just seem like it. She's not as easy as Nancy on that score; the job of Rita is a harder one to keep once Phil's got it. But, along the way, he was oh so perfect in her eyes, wasn't he? That's why, when the facade is broken, Rita lashes out and Phil gets slapped. He lied on his application and he got caught.

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anaïs Nin

Phil actually exemplifies this one quite well. Pre-loop and early-loop Phil is both ego-centric and self-hating. He doesn't think much of himself (even though he tries), so he also doesn't think much of anyone else. Ned's a "giant leach," the people of Punxsutawney are "hicks." But, even before he probably believes it, he upgrades that last one to "real" and "down-to-earth." By the end of the loop, he even believes it. And that is, I would argue especially in context of this quotation, because Phil has come to think better of himself as well. It's all about projection (and I should have dealt with the interpretation before getting into detail, but we can't all be perfect. Don't judge me or I might think you've got something wrong with you. That is to say, I think what Nin is saying here, in the oft-used phrasing of an old teammate of mine, "profoundly true."

"Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children." - George Bernard Shaw

Gotta start this one with some idea of what "youth" means. We all know what this quotation means, I think, but that doesn't mean, in an impromptu speech, I could just skip past the interpretation bit. "Youth" here clearly isn't age, or the juxtaposition with "children" wouldn't make any sense. Then again, that is exactly the point of this quotation. "Youth" is energy, "youth" is opportunity, "youth" is the willingness to try new things, "youth" is the freedom to do stupid things and laugh about it after. "Youth" is what Phil exhibits throughout the film. Early-loop, he's like the petulant, spoiled child, wanting what he wants and wanting it now. Late-loop, he exhibits the more positive side, trying new things (piano and ice sculpting in particular). I think the snowball fight scene is a great example to use here because a) there are real children involved and b) Phil tries a bit too deliberately to "enjoy" the snowball fight the second time... the spontaneity of youth is gone.

"The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. I've got Greenspan's book." - John McCain

Another one of those too-specific quotations. I don't like it. Also, out of context, I wonder if this quotation only exists as an isolated thing because someone wanted to make McCain sound stupid; he doesn't know economics but, hey, he's got a book. It's simplistic. I can still interpret it into something useful, though, I think. I mean, what does this quotation tell us about, say, knowledge? We can certainly learn things from books. But, I read this quotation and I don't get the impression that McCain is reading or has read that book, just that he's got it. An old girlfriend of mine told me once her favorite book was Bag of Bones by Stephen King. I thought that was awesome because while that wasn't one of my favorite books, it was one of my favorite books by King--I was a lot more well read than she was. Thing is, I learned later she has never even finished reading the book, and it was one of only a handful of books she even owned. That's the sort of impression I get (or I think someone wanted me to get) from this quotation. Still, I can take that impression and apply it to Phil Connors. Specifically, I would apply it to his ability as a musician. We see him in one scene reading at the counter of the Tip Top. We don't know what book he's reading but one book he's got on the counter is Johann Strauss - Father and Son - A Century of Light Music. But, that's just information, which is why he looks up when he hears piano music coming from the radio. Then, he sets out to learn piano directly. I'm not suggesting book-learning isn't useful. Theory is wonderful stuff. But, it takes more than just a book to know a subject. It takes more than just one reading of a text to know it well. And it takes moving beyond that text to know it even better...

I should know. I've watched this movie so many times, it's become something else entirely than it was before. But, even more than just watching it over and over, I have explored outward from it, brought outside things into it, and sometimes just brushed over its surface to explore things that probably didn't even feel connected at all. But, that's the point.

Anyway, I've only gotten through 9 of 21 quotations. I've been more wordy than before, I think. And, the film is winding down. Phil is carving Rita's face in ice as I finish this sentence. I'll get to the rest of the quotations tomorrow. Despite being tired earlier, I am awake enough to keep going, but I'd rather not spend so much time on this tonight because I have a paper to write tomorrow, one that doesn't involve Groundhog Day, oddly enough. It might involve a mention of Herman's Head, though, one of the stars of which is Ken Hudson Campbell, who plays "Chubby Man" or "Man in Hallway" in Groundhog Day. It will also involve tarot cards, which I've discussed here and here in regards to Groundhog Day. Everything connects.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to be the criminal, I suppose, and to enjoy my "youth."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

what are you looking for?

The following is a segment from an informative speech I did a few years back regarding the the Pirahã (pee-duh-hon) (you can read the entire text here):

They have no phatic communication—hello, goodbye, thank you, I’m sorry. Daniel Everett [in his book Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes] suggests these phrases "don’t express or elicit new information about the world" and are thus hardly as useful as actions could be in expressing the same sentiment. The closest they have to what we might call a greeting translates as "I have arrived." Thank you would be "transaction acknowledged." They prefer action over words and experience over ideas…

…and this brings us to our second point, two concepts specific to the Pirahã, first xibipíio [roughly pronounced ih-bih-pee-ee-oh], experiential liminality. Translated roughly as "going into or out of the limits of experience," xibipíio can be equally applied (as noun or verb) to a man going out of sight around a bend in the river or a candle flame going out. It is the reason they have no art and no fiction. Kate Douglas points out in "A people lost for words," New Scientist, 18 March 2006, "there is no creative storytelling and no oral history beyond two generations" with the Pirahã. They define the value of information by that which matters here and now. Bruce Bower says in "The Pirahã Challenge," Science News, 10 December 2005, that "no Pirahã refers to abstract concepts or distant places and times." Life, for the Pirahã, is about the immediacy of experience, which is why they rejected Daniel Everett when he first came to them as a Christian missionary. In the aforementioned New Yorker article, "The Interpreter," Everett describes for the author how he was asked by the Pirahã if he had met Christ. They wanted to know what he looked like. But, Everett hadn’t met him so they assumed his father had met Christ. When told that Christ had died 2000 years ago, they had no interest in hearing anymore about him.

They have no religion for themselves, though they do believe that animals and trees have something in them that translates roughly as spirits. They have no origin story for themselves or the world, and have no real concept of the universe, because such things would lie outside personal experience or the experience of, say, a parent or grandparent who could tell such tale. Their grammar and way of life is limited to experience "seen or recounted as seen by a person alive at the time of telling," as Daniel Everett describes it in "Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Pirahã," Current Anthropology, August-October 2005.

xibipíio defines everyday life for the Pirahã. When they have food, they eat it until it is gone. They hunt every day, but share the chore, no one person working more than 15 to 20 hours in a week. The men hunt, the women gather, working maybe 12 hours in a week for a typical Pirahã family of four. Rafaela von Bredow calls the Pirahã a "carpe diem culture" in "Living without Numbers or Time," Spiegel, 3 May 2006. They do not have concern for the future. They do not store or dry food. And, they do not fear death, and find suicide to be such a foreign notion that they laughed when told about it. When a Pirahã does die, the body is buried for practical purposes… often buried in a sitting position as that involves less digging. There is no ritual to it. Ritual would imply—and result from—a more complex worldview.

That being said, the Pirahã worldview does include more than just themselves. They trade with Brazilians and other tribes living nearby. And, those who they deal with regularly get included under the title xahaigi [roughly pronounced ah-ha-ee-gee], one of only a few kinship terms used by the Pirahã. And, this brings us to the Pirahã notion of brotherhood. Kate Douglas, in her aforementioned New Scientist article, calls the Pirahã kinship system the "simplest… yet recorded." They have baixi [bi-ee-hee], for parent or grandparent or anyone to which you want to express submission. They have hoagi [ho-ah-gee] for son, kai for daughter, piihi [pee-ee-hee] for an orphan, stepchild, or favorite child. And, they have xahaigi, simply translated as sibling. But, the Pirahã do not use it to refer just to blood relatives. In fact, they do not use it to refer just to other Pirahã, but anyone with which they have peaceful relations (or, really, anyone with which they have relations, as war is unknown to them).

Mostly, I wanted to share the idea of xibipíio because I think it's probably similar to the way Phil Connors sees the world at least some of the time while he's inside the time loop. Things exist, and they exist concretely, but they also exist only temporarily. Any change is gone the next day so the sense of permanence has got to have been lost.

In looking back at that speech, though, I noticed the concept of xahaigi and thought it was relevant to a discussion of Groundhog day as well, because ultimately Phil learns to be a part of the community and to essentially feel that sense of brotherhood inherent in xahaigi.

(Quoting a segment of something old also helps add a little density to my entry for today despite being a bit tired. This morning I was up by 4:00 AM and took 13 members of our speech team, and my youngest daughter, to volunteer at Midnight Mission in Los Angeles. Then I had my communication theory class and our forensics class as well as a couple hours afterward at school, including some workshop time with a few students. It's been a long day. I'm not complaining, mind you; I just don't know how wordy I might be working from scratch tonight. Of course, I'm not simply including this bit of an old speech arbitrarily; I actually thought of it while at the Mission. I don't want the following to seem trite, but I figure it's worth attempting to say: Seeing men and women who are effectively homeless but still have lively interactions with one another--that reminded me of xibipíio. It occurred to me that so much of what we more privileged folk experience everyday is so very fleeting; it could be taken from us at any moment. The Pirahã live in the moment more than any of us, more than Phil Connors. What is out of sight is out of mind. It's a remarkable concept...

And, I think it's a little... wrong, maybe, invoking the homeless to further ramble about Groundhog Day. Except, I have argued repeatedly that the film is about everyone, that Phil represents all (and each) of us. So, perhaps it would be hypocritical not to reference them.

Still, I think there's a certain relativity to our lives, however privileged or underprivileged as we may be, that allows for all experience to be comparable. I'm reminded of one of my novels, Twice into the Same River, in which at one point Olivia, a young girl who's had a rough life rambles a bit about what it means to have a rough life. She says:

“There’s so much that’s horrible out there in the world. But, as much as there is, most people will never have to experience the worst of it. They only get to hear about it. Most people think they have it bad, that life isn’t turning out how they want it, but they don’t even know just how good it is. They don’t know the agony that’s possible. They don’t know the pain. And, I’m not just talking about what my father did, either. I’m not trying to say my life is even the worst one anyone’s ever had. I’m not that arrogant. I’m just saying, there’s always something worse, always something different. One person loses the love of their life. One person loses a child. One person loses a limb. One person loses his sight or she loses her hearing. Or she chooses to kill her own child before it’s born because life will be too difficult when it comes. Or takes a job he doesn’t want because his passion in life just isn’t going to let him make it in our society. Or she gives up her dream of being a dancer because she’s got to take care of her ailing mother. Or he gives up his dream of playing professional football after he gets into an accident and gets paralyzed from the waist down. Or she learns that she’ll never get to have any kids because of an infection that could have been gotten rid of if she’d just gone to the doctor sooner. Or he learns he’s got three months left to live and it’s just going to be a painful ride the whole way. No one has it easy. The problems may be big or small, but they’re still problems. They still hurt. And, as they say, everything’s relative. One guy’s fear of going bald could really hurt him as much as another losing an eye. It just depends. And, I don’t pretend that there aren’t others out there that could have gone through what I went through and come out unscathed or come out well enough to live a life that at least resembled something normal. I don’t pretend anything. At least, I try not to.”

Olivia's a far stronger person than I am in some ways, but also so very weak (not to SPOIL the novel that isn't even currently available). She's also a bit long-winded, as I can be. And, because she's young she can get away with saying so much about something so simple and potentially trite. As I write this, Phil Connors is killing himself on the TV screen. And, I wonder, does he kill himself because he was rejected by Rita or because his rejection by Rita was the last straw in an increasingly difficult existence? Does it matter?)

That sense of brotherhood--I think if more of us felt that, we'd be a lot better off. And, I'm just full of trite thoughts tonight.

(And, yes, all of that other stuff, even the quotation from my novel, was a parenthetical in a blog entry that really only spans a few short paragraphs without quotations or sidenotes. Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to save the likes of O'Reilly... though saving one life, or improving a life for just one day might be insignificant in the face of the regular flow of time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

you're missing all the fun

I

The thing is, maybe the time loop isn't even about Phil Connors at all. A case could be made... or rather I would now like to make the case that the time loop might... oh, I'll just say it. The time loop is about the people of Punxsutawney and it begins when they boo Punxsutawney Phil's prediction that there will be six more weeks of winter and ends when they are listen quietly but alertly to Phil Connors eloquently proclaiming more winter to be something good. Maybe Phil has to change to get to that point, but it could all come down to the people. They don't appreciate winter. And, that seems very wrong to me, considering they live where they do. You'd think they were new to cold winters. Unfortunately, the film Groundhog Day chronicles not the learning experience of the locals but only of Phil, the one stranger who knows what is going on. I imagine the god of winter is a fickle bastard, punishing the whole town and not even letting them know about it.

II

In all my Christ-Figure talk on this blog--

twelve years of catholic school talking
gosh, i should have known
here's the report

--I have neglected to mention the whole "prima donna" thing. See, Larry appropriately calls Phil a prima donna. That's Italian for first lady and comes from the term for self-centered Opera stars. Quite similar, though, is madonna, my lady, a representation of Mary. There are very few children in Groundhog Day. Aside from the boy I call Zacchaeus, there are a handful of kids at the Banquet, and those few involved in the snowball fight. Phil tells us (or tells her, rather) that Rita is kind to children, but we never see this demonstrated. So, this madonna is clearly without child (in paintings, it's a madonna with or without the baby Jesus). On the one hand, the link to the madonna suggests a variation on the "holy exclamation" aspect of the Christ-Figure (Kozlovic, 2004).

III

On the other hand--and this totally needed to be its own thing in this collection of disparate thoughts that hadn't become their own entries in this blog--the suggestion that Phil is somehow a "pre-madonna" implies a link that is quite crazy even for me. The time loop is God's way of getting the virginal Rita to accept Phil so that they can conceive a new savior. Under the watchful eye of at least two angels, remember: the one in the Cherry Street Inn's front yard, and the one Phil himself creates out of ice. The madonna, then, may be Phil, or may be Rita--she is there every time Larry uses the label. Groundhog Day is a modern-day retelling of how God got Mary pregnant. Joseph was stuck in a time loop, obviously, until Mary learned to appreciate him.

How blasphemous was that?

IV

Though I could just end with that craziness, I have to include new things when I notice them. I noticed Miss Punxsutawney before--I labeled her in a screencap from the Banquet, but she's also on stage at Gobbler's Knob. Tonight, I noticed that the guy next to her on stage also has a red... thing. His isn't the over-the-shoulder sash that hers is, but it's just as red. And before the blu-ray it was probably all a red blur. Tonight I noticed that his "sash" proclaims him "King." That's a weird mismatch, having a Miss and a King, but at least the town isn't being entirely sexist.

I'm sure the god of winter appreciates that.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to blog every random thought and idea I have, only to have them lost in the aether when resumption comes.

there wasn't one today

So, 2 out of 3 acts down, 6 out of 8 sequences, 4 out of 5 key moments. The screenplay breakdown of Groundhog Day continues.

Where were we? Phil was changed by the second act. I mean, that thing broke him down, killed him... a few times, and then there was god day. Dyer doesn't break down the third act much. It's all "buildup to resolution" for him. More specifically, the protagonist "should now be so changed by everything that he has gone through that he can no longer be satisfied living the way he did before." I get that. This past summer, living in my tiny apartment alone, there were a lot of quiet, empty moments that demanded change. From an outward perspective, I maybe didn't change too much, either. Change doesn't need to be big to be drastic. I still watch a bit too much television sometimes. I still watch movies when I can--honestly, though, watching this one particular movie every day has put a slight damper on my spare movie time of late--and I still play games on the computer (or lately xbox) from time to time... but, even before I got to teaching my debate class once a week, even before grad school got going a couple months back, my life seemed like a very different animal than it was before. It seemed like time was less wasted. In a way, that's an awful critique of my married life toward the end, but that's still the way it felt. I got out for hikes in the arroyo, walked around town, went to movies occasionally. And, I'd see my kids on the weekends at least.

I missed them. And, though this life was something... cleaner, I am happy for the recent change where I get to be around my kids more. That's why I say I get it, Dyer's line about no longer being satisfied. I feel lately like I've got a clear grasp on where I'm going in life, on what I'm doing. And, I think I can relate to Phil when he wakes on the morning after god day. Act three is just getting started but he's all in. It's a nice thought.

Anyway, enough about me. The Script Lab divides the third act into two parts. The first of these is sequence seven, a "full yet simple, brief establishment of the third act tension... Simpler, faster in nearly all ways, with rapid, short scenes and no real elaborate set-ups." Act three of Groundhog Day gives us brief bits of Phil reading, Phil playing piano, twice, Phil sculpting an angel, Phil inspiring Chubby Man, and ultimately brings us to Phil trying to save O'Reilly. There are no lengthy sequences in sequence seven. And, we get the fifth and final key moment at the end of the sequence: the third act twist. The third act twist, The Script Lab tells us, is "an expected turn of events... Without the twist, the third act can seem too linear and predictable. It can also be a test of the hero..." The third act twist, then, is the culmination of Phil's attempts to save O'Reilly. His stubbornness at the hospital, his "not today"--that's the old Phil rearing his head just a little, trying to control the world a little too much. This is Phil's test. Foley (2004) would argue that Phil passes this test because after O'Reilly's death in the alley at 1 hour 21 minutes 41 seconds in, Phil looks to God. Wherever Phil looks, though, Phil has passed the story's test, because he has realized that he is not God, he cannot save everyone. This is the third act twist, because we the audience are hoping he will save O'Reilly. O'Reilly never says a line, and really only makes one sound (a brief noise that is hard to describe following Phil handing him a handful of cash), and yet we care about him.

It's remarkable in a way that we care for O'Reilly as we do. He's just a homeless guy we don't even know. But, we've seen him more than a few times by the time Phil pays attention to him. And, just like Phil, we see O'Reilly shivering in the alley and we don't like it. Kidd and Castano (2013) recently studied the effect of fiction on empathy and found that specifically reading literary texts increases empathy. I think we can extrapolate outward from literary fiction to most, if not all, fictional texts to get the same idea. They tell us, "The worlds of fiction, though, post fewer risks than the real world, and they present opportunities to consider the experiences of others without facing the potentially threatening consequences of that engagement" (p. 378). That is to say that we can care about O'Reilly much more readily and easily than we can care about real homeless people, whether in abstract statistics or perhaps on the very real streets of the cities in which we live. It probably also helps that he's singular. Watching Groundhog Day over and over, I find that I can care about a lot of these characters; I've mentioned before how Fred and Debbie are having a rather emotional conversation after Phil drops the "second thoughts" bomb on their lunch at the Tip Top. That conversation is unheard and mostly unseen, just there in glimpses in the background as the scene moves on, but once I noticed it I couldn't not notice it. A lot like that old woman young woman image.

Similarly, though I mentioned not too long ago how I wasn't quite feeling O'Reilly's death, I could still recognize the emotional beat of it... which makes me sound like a sociopath or something, doesn't it? And then, I imagine the psychiatrist from Groundhog Day asking, "Is that not good?" But, I swear I'm not hallucinating. While I do quote the film quite often, I do not as of yet dream about it. And, I have been asked this at least three times recently. No, I do not dream about Groundhog Day... yet.

Anyway, I was talking about our ability to care about O'Reilly, a character we hardly know. Kidd tells us in The Guardian, "What great writers do is to turn you into the writer." I would expand this to include filmic writers and directors turning us into the same. Kidd continues: "In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others." I like the idea of that because it explains a great deal about how minor characters can seem fully formed on first pass when there is really very little to them when you look closer. Not just O'Reilly, not just characters in Groundhog Day.

And, that was a long way of saying that we probably expect Phil to be able to save O'Reilly. Hence, the third act twist is that Phil fails. His upward trajectory to a better self hits a roadblock. But then, the story jumps ahead. Maybe it's the very next morning, maybe Phil has been in the time loop for years--we don't really know And, what we get next is something Dyer calls "the aftermath." He tells us,

It's usually a good idea to include a scene at the end of the script to show how the protagonist has grown since the beginning of our story. A common way to do this is to repeat a scene from the beginning of the story, which the protagonist didn't handle well, but now he does handle it well because of the things that he has learned since that point.

There's a particular bit in Groundhog Day that we actually see more than just twice, but the first time at 13 minutes 19 seconds in and the last time at 1 hour 22 minutes 1 second in are glaring examples of what Dyer is describing. They are, of course, Phil's reports from Gobbler's Knob. Here is Phil's report, as it would go on the air on Day 1:

Once a year, the eyes of the nation turn to this tiny Pennsylvania hamlet to watch a master at work. The master? Punxsutawney Phil. The world's most famous weatherman, the groundhog who, as legend has it, can predict the coming of an early spring. The question we have to ask ourselves today is, "Does Phil feel lucky?"

The next part might get edited out as they go with shots of the stage, but I'll include it anyway.

Then it's the same old shtick. The guy with the big stick raps on the door. They pull the little rat out. They talk to him. The rat talks back and then they tell us what's gonna happen.

And, Phil concludes his report:

This is one time when television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather. I, for one, am very grateful to have been here. From Punxsutawney, this is Phil Connors. So long.

Compare the sarcasm and disdain that is all over that report with the following from "Day 34":

When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter. From Punxsutawney, it's Phil Connors. So long.

You don't even have to hear it to get the difference. The words alone demonstrate the contrast, and prove that Phil has changed a whole lot since Day 1.

So now we find ourselves in sequence eight. All the key moments are passed and there is nothing left but the resolution. The Script Lab tells us, "Clarity is important" in sequence eight. Though sequence seven was all short montage-like segments, and though sequence eight is also a lot of brief moments strung together, I think the clarity comes from it being all one day again--the longest day in the film--and in there being an obvious forward momentum once we figure out what Phil is doing. Of course, that figuring out implies a lack of clarity I suppose, but The Script Lab said clarity was important, not essential. And, ultimately, I think what's going on on "Day 34" is quite clear. Phil is using knowledge he's gained while we weren't looking to save the lives he can save, and to make others easier. He may have learned he wasn't God at the third act twist, but he's still a guy in special circumstances with special knowledge. To not do anything with that would be sacrilegious.

Of the ending, Dyer tells us there are four possibilities. Our protagonist can overcome his internal flaw but not accomplish his external goal. He can accomplish his external goal but fail to overcome his internal flaw. He can fail to accomplish his external goal or to overcome his internal flaw. Or, he can succeed at both. The first option, Dyer says, "is an emotionally satisfying ending because it shows that the protagonist has realized that fixing his internal flaw, rather than achieving his external goal, is the thing that will make him truly happy." Arguably, Phil Connors actually succeeds at both, but I think that in the end his release from the time loop is almost unimportant. That he has proved himself capable of being a better man and that he has earned Rita's love--these are the things that matter to us. In fact, I would argue--and I admit maybe this is just my own personal way of viewing the movie after all this time--that after god day, Phil doesn't even care about the external goal of the time loop anymore. And, I've said many times that he is not driven by the external goal of Rita either, even if Hollywood would conflate her love with his improvement. Ultimately, Phil's improvement, Rita's love and the end of the time loop are all wedged right up against each other as one singular event, so Groundhog Day then has, without a doubt, "a typical Hollywood movie" ending as Dyer puts it. Phil Connors wins on all counts...

Even if he has now started a relationship with a rather rude robot named Rita. And, that was a lot of Rs.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to win at everything.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

what if there is no tomorrow?

Yesterday, I only made it through 1 of 3 acts, 2 of 8 sequences and 2 of 5 key points... let me back up a bit, in case you didn't read that entry. I'm dealing with screenplay structure in relation to Groundhog Day. Now, on with it.

We'll pick up the action at plot point one, which Dyer puts at 25% of the way in--remember, we're rounding it off so that will mean about 25 minutes in. The Script Lab puts plot point one between sequence two and sequence three. And, of course, plot point one is where act one becomes act two. I've suggested in the past that act one ends with date night, but arguably the usual screenplay structures put this somewhere in the middle of act two instead. The Script Labdefines sequence three as that in which the "first OBSTACLE... to the central character is faced, and the beginning of the elimination of the alternatives begins..." I'm not entirely sure what that "elimination" entails, but I would suggest that for Phil, the first obstacle is figuring out how to accept the time loop, or at least how to live within its confines. So, then, sequence three would be his adolescent period. Dyer puts "pinch one" somewhere in here as well, at 37.5% of the way in. He defines pinch one as "a major plot event... that complicates the protagonist's pursuit of his external goal. This event often reveals new information to the protagonist that will cause him to go in a new direction." At 37 minutes 30 seconds in, Phil is talking to Rita at the tip top cafe on Day 4. Specifically, at this particular moment, Rita scoffs at Phil suggesting he thought her quoted poetry was by Willard Scott. The Script Lab tells us that this sequence also involves a raising of stakes since "our character is locked into the situation and can't simply walk away." This fits with Phil taking advantage of the time loop and leads right into his focus on Rita.

Nathan Marshall at Script Frenzy divides the second act into two parts, one in which the protagonist "is 'reacting' to the pressures of their changed world" and which ends "when your protagonist's worst fears nearly come true. After that, they sit up and say 'wait a minute! I can handle this!' They stop 'reacting' and take control of the situation." While Phil has been taking some control since the end of Day 3, the implication of a change of approach here fits with his focus on Rita. The Script Lab, however, divides the second act into 4 sequences (3-6). Sequence four brings us the "first culmination" and gets us to the midpoint (and these two may be one and the same). The first culmination "is a pivotal moment in the story but not as critical as the Lock In or the Main Culmination." The first culmination, "if the story is a tragedy and our hero dies... should be a low point for our character. If however, our hero wins in the end of the film, then sequence four should end with him winning in some way." The actual midpoint of Groundhog Day (counting the credits this time) comes at 50 minutes 32 seconds, and it's on the best version of date night. Rita and Phil have just put the head on the first version of their snowman.

(And, now is as good a time as any to mention that aside from that head, the snowman is the exact same snowman on this particular night and the next one. The snowman's shape is quite distinct with a notable lump on the left.)

Dyer puts the mid-point at an obvious 50% of the way in, but the Cracked podcast I mentioned yesterday put this "point of no return" at 60 minutes in. At 60 minutes exactly, Phil is referencing "this tiny village in Western Pennsylvania, blah blah blah blah blah." What I have suggested as the end of act one then, Rita in Phil's room, slapping him for "making me care about you," comes at 55 minutes 26 seconds (the slap specifically, that is). What the slap is, then, is the midpoint, and I guess that makes sense. Dyer tells us that something needs to happen at the midpoint "to force the protagonist to commit 100% to accomplishing his external goal."

Interestingly, Dyer continues, "Often at this point, the protagonist and antagonist will change roles so that the character who was more passive now becomes the aggressor." And, here, I must step back from the structure and focus on something else. Who is the antagonist in Groundhog Day? We know who the protagonist is; it's Phil. But, the antagonist, while obvious in retrospect--and admittedly, I'm not sure my perspective on this is entirely clear anymore as to how obvious or not obvious any particular thing might be for someone watching this film casually--is not so obvious during the film. The time loop is too abstract to be the antagonist, though it is the obvious culprit. But, really, Phil is the antagonist. He is the protagonist and the antagonist. He is his own worst enemy. But, Dyer's description works here... well, sort of. It takes Phil another 9 attempts with Rita and a bout of suicidal depression before he switches his active role in things, but sure enough, the egocentric prima donna Phil is replaced by the better side of Phil for the rest of the film.

The Script Lab suggests that the second act can sag without a subplot "to take the ball for a while." This is sequence five. I might suggest that the downside of date night--the slaps and depression--is this subplot, but the plot is fairly centered on Phil and surprisingly linear (following a curved line of course). The other thing sequence five can include is rising action. I don't know if "rising" has to mean everything is going up, per se, but Phil's descent into depression until he can finally rethink his situation from a new point of view on god day is hardly upward. Still, I think it fits this sequence. Dyer describes "pinch two"--which should take place 62.5% of the way in--as "a major plot event that pushes the protagonist in a new direction, usually because of the revelation of new information." That new information is that Phil Connoring Rita will never work, and the new direction is suicide. Hardly positive, hardly upward, but still, the level of action is rising, I'd say. By the way, at 62 minutes 30 seconds, Phil is in the truck with his groundhog counterpart. Specifically, he has just said "make it fun" and at this instant he's laughing.

So, we get to sequence six, the "build-up to the MAIN CULMINATION... the highest obstacle, the last alternative, the highest or lowest moment and the end of our main tension come at this point." The main culmination is, without a doubt, god day (especially the end of god day). Just before it we get Phil's lowest point, and on god day, we get his highest point (aside from the final resumption, of course). Specifically, though, The Script Lab suggests that "if our hero wins at the midpoint and at the end of the film," then he has his "lowest point here." This is tricky since the midpoint is the best version of date night which ultimately ends in failure. But, arguably, at the midpoint Phil is succeeding and at the end, obviously, Phil has succeeded. So, the second plot point, the main culmination should be Phil losing. If we put his suicides as the main culmination and god day not as the end of act two but the beginning of act three, this fits. But... well, keep in mind, while this breakdown is fairly standard, these rules are not set in stone. Dyer puts the second plot point at 75% of the way in. At 1 hour 15 minutes, god day has just ended. The alarm clock clicks to 6:00 for the next morning at 1:04:57. Wherever the exact cutoff falls, The Script Lab tells us that the main culmination helps "create a new tension for Act Three." And, all of this certainly sets Phil up for his improvement stage. Specifically, Dyer tells us, our protagonist "should now be so changed by everything that he has gone through that he can no longer be satisfied living the way he did before."

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to structure my day in three acts, wake up at, say 7 AM, to bed at 1 AM. That's 18 hours. So, my first plot point needs to come at 11:30 AM, so right before lunch, I suppose. My second plot point must come at 8:30 PM, maybe at a late dinner but probably after. I really hope there's a car chase at 4 PM.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

catch you tomorrow

I won't be getting to impromptu topics today. Today was "sinus day" or "allergy day" or whatever you want to call the day my not that bad allergy to cats catches up to me living with three cats. Every few weeks I'll get a day where my sinuses go crazy. It's fun, but not my kind of fun. Anyway, though I'm breathing right this second, I'm not sure sinus day is over just yet, so I don't want to get into anything too complicated. So, instead, I will deal with screenplay structure today, because that topic is totally simple. Seriously, you follow the basic structure of 3 acts, 5 key points and 8 sequences and make sure the guy gets the girl and Hollywood will buy your screenplay like that.

(Picture the snapping of fingers.)

Or your screenplay will be tossed onto a pile of numerous other screenplays with the exact same structure... in the trash, or on the desk of some "reader" who will then toss it into the trash. And, then they'll buy a screenplay by someone they know instead.

Not to quash all your dreams or anything.

Still, the screenplays they do buy, the screenplays they do produce--they tend to share at least the basics of what I'm about to cover.

I have talked about the three acts in Groundhog Day before and by the following standards my usual breakdown doesn't quite fit. See, as I mentioned yesterday I think of the action up to the end of date night with Rita slapping Phil as the first act, the action from there to Rita in Phil's bed at the end of god day as the second act, and the action leading to Rita in Phil's bed again on the morning after as the third act. It makes a nice sort of visual structure if nothing else, each act ending in that same location. However, it also means that my version of the first act is 55 minutes long, my version of the second act is only about 20 minutes long, and the third act then is about 24 minutes long (not counting the end credits). That's a little top heavy. For Phil's personal journey in the film, I still think that fits pretty well even if it isn't balanced. But, the film isn't just about Phil's internal changes.

I got to thinking about this structural stuff when the Cracked podcast recently (4 Nov) did an episode entitled "Why Every Movie Plot Follows Weirdly Specific Rules." Then, I just had to look up a more detailed breakdown of things and, well, as Rita might say, let's just do this.

Before I even get to the sequences and whatnot, I should note that Phil Dyer in his Doctor My Script blog suggests that the first few pages of a screenplay should include someone actually stating the theme of the story. He cites When Harry Met Sally when "Billy Crystal tells Meg Ryan that it's not possible for men and women to be just friends because the sex always gets in the way." I'm not seeing a line like that in Groundhog Day I think there are a couple lines in the opening scene at the station and one in the van ride to Punxsutawney that have a sort of ironic link to events to come but none that really deal with the theme as such. Those lines, by the way, are Phil asking, sarcastically, "I want to spend an extra second in Punxsutawney?" and Phil saying of Rita, "She's fun, but not my kind of fun." The line in the van is more obvious, at least for me: "Someday somebody will see me interviewing a groundhog and think I don't have a future." In retrospect, all those lines have a deeper meaning in regard to the plot but don't really deal with the theme. Maybe something else will come to me.

Meanwhile, the first sequence of a screenplay, according to The Script Lab, involves the status quo and the "inciting incident." Dyer tells us that the first 10% of a screenplay should be setup, establishing "who the protagonist is, as well as who the other major characters are and what kind of environment the protagonist lives in." For Groundhog Day, the status quo is interesting because even the status quo is in a sort of upheaval with Phil being dragged away from his life in Pittsburgh to do the report out of Punxsutawney. The alarm sounds on Day 1 at 7 minutes 33 seconds in. At 10 minutes even--

(Though it might not be fair to count the end credits, Groundhog Day, clocking in at 1 hour 41 minutes 4 seconds (with credits) is easy enough to round off at 100 minutes to make Dyer's percentages simple. So, for the purpose of simplicity, 10% is 10 minutes. This stuff isn't an exact science anyway.)

--Phil tells Mrs. Lancaster: "Chance of departure today, 100%." I think that is a great bit of the status quo as far as how Phil sees it. Sure, he had to travel out to Punxsutawney for the night, but he expects he will be going right back to Pittsburgh. This trip is an inconvenience, but it's a temporary one. I've dealt with the irony of the weatherman who's wrong about the weather already, but it's not just the weather. Phil has no doubt he's heading home today.

Dyer puts the "small catalyst" at 10% in, the "large catalyst" at 17%. The former, Dyer tells us:

This catalyst should happen to the protagonist, and not be an action that the protagonist takes. This catalyst should be the first thing in the script that propels the protagonist toward the pursuit of his external goal, and should also give him a glimpse of who he could become if he were to overcome his internal flaw.

Compare this to The Script Lab's inciting event (also called the "point of attack") which is the "first premonition of impending trouble, dilemma, or circumstances that will create the main tension of the story." Nathan Marshall at Script Frenzy tells us that this inciting incident is "the event that sets everything into motion [and] what you script's about [is] resolving the inherent conflict of your inciting incident." At first I was thinking the blizzard would be the inciting incident coupled with the beginning of the time loop as the large catalyst. But, really, those are just two parts of the external situation. The large catalyst is something different. But, anyway, the point where Phil knows something strange is going on--when he asks, "What the hell?"--is at 15 minutes 34 seconds in. But, that's closer in effect to the small catalyst than the large catalyst.

Dyer says the large catalyst "should lead the protagonist inevitably toward the pursuit of his external goal, which will begin at plot point one." This description is weird when looking at Groundhog day because arguably the external goal is getting out of the time loop. But, plot point one (which I'll get to below) is more about living with the time loop. The Script Lab's second sequence sets up the "predicament that will be central to the story" and "ends when the main character is LOCKED IN... propelling him/here into a new direction to obtain his/her goal." In those terms, the time loop is the predicament and Phil deciding to take advantage of the loop is him getting locked in. This would be the second key moment and also plot point one, then, 33 minutes 47 second in, when Phil announces, "I'm not gonna live by their rules, anymore." Or maybe 34 minutes, 41 seconds in, when Phil sits up in bed the next morning with joy that, sure enough, the time loop continues and consequences are a thing of the past. Dyer, however, says that plot point one should be 25% of the way in (i.e. 25 minutes). At 25 minutes 8 seconds, Phil breaks the pencil in half to confirm that all this is real.

(It occurs to me now that there are several instances of people confirming reality in this movie. Phil gets Rita to slap him on Day 2. He breaks the pencil that night. He has to confirm reality in a way to Rita on god day. And, on the morning of February 3rd, he pinches Rita to confirm she's real. Considering the science fiction/fantasy aspect of the film is just a shallow unexplained detail that is setup for the larger action, it's interesting that reality is up for debate.)

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. I skipped past one of the more interesting screenplay details. Marshall tells us that if you pause a movie 17 minutes in, "most likely, the essential character conflict has just been laid out. Dyer places the large catalyst at 17% in. And, here's another bit that is tricky, because of the distinction between the inner and outer goals of the story. At 17 minutes exactly, Phil is on the phone. He has just asked if there's a special line for celebrities or emergencies, and now he announces, "I'm both--a celebrity in an emergency." Looking at that line as what Marshall simply calls "Page 17" or as Dyer's large catalyst, it makes sense. See, what does that line tell us about Phil? He is not only full of himself but expects the world to cater to his whims, his needs. He's a celebrity so he should never be stuck. Andie MacDowell's reading of the line notwithstanding, Phil being egocentric really kind of is "his defining characteristic." And, this is the thing that is going to get changed throughout the rest of the film. Marshall uses Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as one of his examples here. At 17 minutes in, teenage Indie "runs to his father for help, but is shushed instead." Marshall argues that that movie is not really about finding the Holy Grail, "it's about learning to forgive dad!" And, Groundhog Day is about Phil Connors learning not to be that "celebrity" who thinks the world owes him something...

Maybe the line that sets up that theme is Rita's "within reason" at 7 minutes 6 seconds in, after Phil asks for her help with his pelvic tilt. Rita, as his producer, has genuinely (I guess, though I question how genuinely) offered, "Anything I can do" and Phil immediately goes too far. He's called himself "the talent" and Larry's about to call him a "prima donna." This encapsulates pre-loop Phil in a nutshell. And, he's going to spend the next hour and a half figuring out how not to be that guy (after a few detours of course).

And, the movie is winding down--Phil just came down off the stage after playing the piano--and I've only made it through 1 of 3 acts, 2 of 8 sequences and 2 of 5 key points, so...

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to figure out how to ever discuss the script for this film in just one blog entry. It seems that every time I approach the screenplay, it takes me a few days and it looks like it will again this time.

Friday, November 22, 2013

not today

It's that time of the... couple weeks again when I take some impromptu speaking prompts and link them all to Groundhog Day, which I did here, here and here before (actually, that last one I didn't finish in just one entry because it was late and I was tired, so there was a part two). Now, on with the show...

Actually, I must interrupt first. See, today at the tournament there were several people asking me about this blog, what's the goal, what's the point, what's the value, and once again "what the fuck are you doing?" But, that last guy, aside from the profanity, can't be trusted anyway because he doesn't like museums or beaches or trees. That's just not normal. The museum thing is funny because a) he doesn't like paintings because they're abstract representations and not reality itself but he has been known to write screenplays and b) if he doesn't like abstract things, I suppose he wouldn't understand why I'm doing this. But, anyway, I've got 21 quotations to get through, a couple that might be fairly tricky and several of which I will have to make quite metaphorical or abstract to get at them properly.

Now, on with show...

Actually, this will be a little strange because I also turned on the movie earlier when I didn't have a ballot in the first round--that's forensics speak for I didn't have to go judge anything that round--and just to perplex and intrigue people a bit more, since they were already asking me questions I didn't necessarily want to answer too specifically, I would recite dialogue along with the film.

Now, you may be asking why I didn't give clear answers to everyone's questions. Well, if you've been keeping up with the blog all along, you probably don't even question it anymore. you get it, on some level. At dinner after the tournament a couple tournaments ago, one of my friends suggested that people should do more strange stuff like this project. I wholeheartedly agree. Stuff like this, off the beaten path, outside the box, whatever you want to call it--this is what many of us need, I think, in the modern world, especially in the Western world or the geopolitical North, the Core where we understand Bokonon's "busy busy busy."

But, that isn't why I do this. I mean, that may be part of it. And, when I began it, it may have been a crazy whim, a mad idea that I hadn't really thought through to the end. It may have been a desperate way to find some new, structured thing I could grasp onto to get ahold of the tattered remnants of my recent years, a way to control something in my life, to control it all on my own. Sure, I have to adjust it to the schedule of grad school, the schedule of my kids, the schedule of speech tournaments and errands and homework and eating and sleeping and everything else that is life, but it's still all mine. I sit down and focus on the film and the ideas that are nestled overtly in its story and that linger deeper beneath its skin. I find new ways to talk about the same 101 minutes, to extrapolate this simple little story into the story of all of us...

Someone asks me why I'm doing this, and I just want to assign them a few entries to read and then maybe I'll be willing to answer their questions. Why am I doing this? a) Why not? Life needs outlets, life needs meditative spaces where one can expunge emotion and explore ideas and make stupid jokes and come up with excuses to watch other tv shows and movies that involve time loops and also find excuses to inject all of this into a formal study of communication. As it says at the top of this blog I'm "watching a movie over and over again, a movie about living a day over and over again, because that is what life is all about." Life may not be as meaningless as Ralph implies in the bowling alley, but it certainly is so very repetitive if we are not deliberate in our efforts to make it interesting.

Why am I doing this?

Because someone needed to. Because every piece of art deserves to be studied and broken down. Every piece of fiction deserves to be dissected until we know not just what it means but what it can mean. I'll get into this more tomorrow--or maybe the day after if I don't ever manage to get to the impromptu quotations today--but there is a very important bit of the way I break down the story of Groundhog Day that applies to life. your life, my life, Phil's life. See, I recently pointed out in my new breakdown of days in the film that I put the end of each of its three acts in Phil's room at the Cherry Street Inn. For Phil, every day begins in that room and most every day ends there as well. But, for us, we don't see every morning wake up, and we only see a few nights in that room. But, Rita is there three times (not counting her brief appearance there in the series of slaps). She is there as date night peaks, then the darker portion of the film gets going... see, I don't necessarily put the act break at the beginning of Phil's pursuit of Rita but rather at the end of it, when he should be realizing he can't control everything no matter how much effort he puts into it. Rita is there again at the end of god day which is when Phil has moved past depression and death to find some semblance of peace with his situation. And, that night he sees in Rita something of the person he can be (even if I have suggested more than once that Rita is not nearly as good as what Phil sees in her). I think this makes the second act quite short, unlike a lot of films, but I don't mind so much, but I'll get into that more tomorrow or the next day when I deal explicitly with the structure. Rita is again in Phil's room at the end of the third act, though we don't get to see her there at night but rather the next morning as the time loop is broken. Not because Rita is there. She's something of a symbolic representation of where Phil is in regards to his situation but she is not the reason for his transitions per se. But, I've already made that argument before (and will probably make it again). My point now is that it's something of a symbolic thing that each act ends in that same room because that is how life is. Most any day is just the same old stuff as the day before and the day before that. That the big transitions for Phil might come or at least be triggered there in his home away from home is nothing if not representative of real life.

But, I digress. I'm supposed to be dealing with impromptu quotations, but I may just break with the "tradition" and get to them tomorrow, because I don't think I'm done with this just yet.

Why am I doing this, you ask.

Read this entry in which I explain the project and its place in my life to the people studying this in the future.

Read this entry in which I start with some silly, shallow stuff then start getting into personal stuff.

Read this entry that gets rather serious about what we spend our lives doing and what maybe we should spend our lives doing.

Read this entry which was a primer of sorts for new readers a while back.

Then, read all the rest of the 112 entries (not counting today, Day 113, because you've obviously read this one already. Then if you still want to ask me why I am doing this, I will welcome your questions.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: fuck you. I am not your performing monkey.

the same old schtick

I might lament that there's no new things to notice on the blu-ray. Visual things I mean. But a) that puts me in Phil's position in a way and b) that's crazy talk, there's always new things to notice.

Regarding "b" I did notice that one thing the other night when I was actively searching, the chocolate wrapper on the table. And, just tonight I discovered a new thing not in the movie but on the disc. There are two sets of subtitles for English. The first is the old, plain one, words across the bottom of the screen. Second one, though--that's more fun, slightly different font it seems (hard to compare properly because I've got to cycle through 16 different subtitle settings to loop around and there's a pause between just the one English set and the other), and it's doing that thing where dialogue from a character on one side of the screen is positioned on that side of the screen. I almost worked at a place that did subtitles several years back and when I tested out the subtitle program on the computer as part of the interview process I rather liked being able to position subtitles like that. And, that was about the time Heroes was on the air and they used subtitles like that a lot of the time, at least with Hiro and Ando...

Actually I just checked when Heroes was on the air, and the timing is all wrong for when I interviewed for that subtitle job. Rome was on the air, for sure, because it was an episode of that show that I was subtitling for my test. I remember that because for that show there was a nice sheet of paper with a list of regular characters and guest characters with their nice Roman names spelled how you'd need them in the subtitles. Subtitling something like Groundhog Day would be a lot easier, much simpler names... and the debater in me wants to run some sort of kritik now. I mean, these names are simpler because--what?--they're a bunch of common Western, Judeo-Christian, White names? I mean, sure, the names fit the location and the time but I almost offended myself for calling them "easier" and "simpler." But, I taught debate class this evening, so maybe I'm just in that sort of mood.

Anyway, subtitling Groundhog Day would be easier because the names are more common, and often much shorter than Roman names. I mean, Augustus is easy enough but try typing Servilia as readily as you might type Rita. Atia--that's easier. But, Phil versus Vorenus or Octavian or Ned versus Pompey... anyway, they supplied a nice list. Didn't supply any instruction on how to use the subtitle program, though, which I thought was odd. I figured out the basics pretty quickly. But, at first, I was typing along with the dialogue like it was a live show, with the subtitles scrolling a few lines a the bottom of the screen, the kind of thing you see on the news. So, what I ended up with at first was ten minutes worth of subtitles shoved into one little subtitle box. Then, I realized it and backed up the video and copied and pasted what I'd already typed into separate boxes that I had to set screentimes for, which was tricky but kinda cool once I figured it out. Then, right before the test bit ended I figured out how to position the boxes around the screen and... now that I realize it was well before Heroes was on the air, I'm wondering where I saw subtitles done that way.

Regardless of my near brush with subtitling fame, I like these subtitles. It's a nice visual cue to who's speaking and when the conversation is going back and forth quickly, it's easier to follow. That being said, a short time ago--I'm on Day 3 right now and Phil's driving Gus' car--when Phil was responding verbally to the two DJs on the radio (i.e. the morning of Day 2) a few lines got lost. But, the lines are well timed otherwise and seem more accurate than subtitles sometimes are. They have had 20 years to get them right, after all. No, that's not true. This is the 15th anniversary edition. I don't think there is a 20th anniversary version... but I should totally record a new commentary track so they can put it on the 25th. I'll have to plan ahead, script a bit of what I need to say, but leave some room for coming up with stuff on the spot. And, if they don't want it for the official disc, I'll just put it online someplace and link to it.

The true test of these new subtitles is coming up now in the gorging scene at the Tip Top. If they get Larry's line right, I will be happy. I mean, I complained about it before, but I might as well do it again now--

NO! They misspelled "concentred". Got Larry's line right, though, so I am not too angry. But, considering concentred doesn't even register as a word on Pages--it might in Word, but I'm on the iPad right now, not the desktop--could they not have looked up the poem? Now, I'm worried about the lines in French; will they just type them out phonetically?

And, in awesome news, I just noticed something new. I was looking at the background folk as Phil talked to Nancy by the gazebo and thinking I need even more crowd shots to point out more recurring extras, and then I see him. Yellow hat guy, who I only labeled once in a Tip Top shot last night (but who is visible in a different place within the Tip Top though I don't yet have a screencap of it), walks by behind Phil and Nancy.

And, another new thing (on a roll, here): there seems to be a third guard who stays in the front seat of the armored truck the entire time as Phil robs it. There's just a silhouette but it definitely seems human shaped.

I might have subtitled some stuff a little differently. I mean, there's a notable difference between "I'm just interested in you" and "I'm just... interested in you." That hesitation gives more nuance to the conversation; Phil is making this stuff up as he's going.

Just caught a bit of an error. We always see the bartender (a.k.a. God) from the same general angle, but I just noticed that Phil and Rita are not sitting in the same spot at the bar as Larry and Nancy are later. So, the reaction shots with the bartender should be different. Larry and Nancy on the last night are sitting where Rita was sitting on the first night. I could read something into that, but I'll do that another time. For now, I realized I never got back to my "a" from the first paragraph above.

Regarding "a" I imagine that point where Phil knows all the people he'll interact with, knows everything they will do. That's got to be not just boring but actively annoying. You'd have to deliberately provoke people into doing new things, or explore every inch of town, spend a week of days with each citizen, with each tourist, with each reporter, get to know them all, then cycle through them a second time, a third, maybe a fourth. I imagine that the movie only shows us one example (presumably the last) of Phil Phil Connoring a date night after night. Sixty-three eligible women in town in Rubin's original, probably a bit more than that in the "real" town. Plus, if Phil's going through a particularly immoral period, then his definition of "eligible" would probably change. He was practically flirting with Mrs. Lancaster on Day 1, anyway, I'd say, telling her he slept alone. And, she laughed. And, she seemed to enjoy him kissing her on Day 4. So, I'm sure she'd be amenable to more. For example.

Read all the books in the library, rent all the movies at the local movie rental place--a tiny hamlet in western Pennsylvania in 1993, they might not have a Blockbuster just yet, but I'm sure they've got something. Or maybe there's some film geek with a collection of hundreds of videotaped old movies. Speaking of townspeople's collections, just for fun, I'd want to take up breaking and entering if I were Phil. That would get the adrenaline going for sure, and it would give new insight into the locals. I mean, if that big mountain man looking guy--the extra I call "Jeremiah Johnson"--has a closet full of evening gowns at home, that would tell Phil something about the guy that the guy might not admit no matter how many times Phil gets to know him. Keep in mind, no matter how many times Phil talks to a particular person, it's still the first day any of them have talked to him. Well, except for Rita and Larry and Ned and Mrs. Lancaster. Even if he talked to Buster last year on Groundhog Day, Buster wouldn't remember it; he doesn't even realize who just saved his life when he's choking when just this morning he stood next to the guy as he gave his report to Channel 9 Pittsburgh.

(It was only after all this time that I bothered to check, by the way, and sure enough Channel 9 Pittsburgh is PBH.)

These people won't be telling Phil all their deep dark secrets. Bill the waiter may not hide the fact that he's gay, for example, but he seems fairly surprised that this total stranger knows it. Larry's probably got some secrets--remember this exchange:

Rita: Why would anybody steal a groundhog?

Larry: I can probably think of a couple of reasons. Pervert.

--Maybe Larry's just seen some perverts in his time, or maybe he is one himself. We can't be sure...

Just noticed a bit of a continuity error, and it's outside the Tip Top window, through the blinds, so it's a blu-ray find for sure. God day, Rita says, "Because it's not possible" and behind Phil's head, across the street there's a (I think) woman with a red scarf walking from left to right, disappearing behind Phil's head. Cut to Doris, mouthing, "I'll come back." Then back to Phil and the red scarf woman hasn't reached his head yet.

Similar thing happens during the "boats but not the ocean" bit--end of that same Tip Top scene, but this isn't a new catch, just one I don't think I've mentioned. The extra I call Saddam is sitting directly behind Phil so that you can barely see him up until Phil says, "when you stand in the snow, you look like an angel." Cut to Rita, and back to Phil and now the guy is off to the right, no longer hidden behind Phil's head.

I need to deal with the dogs with a few good screencaps--there's a similarity of a sort to the whole food thing in that we see several fake dogs, lamps, statues, decorations, but never a real one, though we do hear one bark on robbery day. I mention the dogs now because I think one of the statues, and also a lamp right next to it, in Phil's room was something I only noticed recently with the blu-ray.

Just had to rewind nearly 30 minutes because I just realized I wasn't looking up when the French subtitles happened. Cop-out, subtitles just say "[SPEAKS FRENCH]" which is quite disappointing. Also, they should have used "poertry" for when Rita tries to say "poetry."

Another blu-ray thing which on the one hand is kinda cute but on the other hand a bit distracting: when you rewind or fast forward the timer bar showing where you are in the film has a big box around it with snowflakes on it. Cute, sure. But, also, not see through.

Another new thing noticed as the movie winds down pretty late tonight. As Phil plays Rachmaninoff at the banquet, there's a lady in white and a bearded guy with gray hair that pass from left to right behind Rita and Mary, then pass from left to right behind Rita and Mary again, and then pass from left to right behind Rita and Mary a third time. I must get screencaps of that.

Sad subtitle update. Debbie says, "We're like going to be in Pittsburgh anyway" and the subtitle just says, "We're going to be in Pittsburgh anyway." They just don't get Debbie. That "like" is vital to who and what she is. I mean, would a girl who doesn't include that "like" dance like this?

No. No she wouldn't. The subtitler needs to watch the movie a few more times to more fully understand and appreciate Debbie. I mean, she's just had a stranger inform her fiancé she's having second thoughts about getting married and she still says "thanks" when Rita compliments her ring. Debbie is awesome.

I've noticed before that on date night Phil and Rita approach the Cherry Street Inn from the wrong direction, but I don't know if I'd noticed until just now that on the last night they leave Gobbler's Knob in the wrong direction. I suppose they could have headed for the Pennsylvanian and then thought better of it because, you know, it is a fleabag.

And, for the record, it's not that I'm conflating the real life arrangement of locations with the in-film locations. Phil approaches Gobbler's Knob from the west every morning. The Pennsylvanian is on the south side of Gobbler's Knob. So, even if you don't consider the real location of the house used for the Cherry Street Inn exteriors (north of Gobbler's Knob), there's still a problem.

Anyway, this entry turned out far longer than I expected. I intended to lament being able to find new things, maybe get into a personal rant about how life seems fairly monotonous sometimes, but then I noticed new things, and really, life has been pretty good lately, especially considering some aspects of it. And, that was a long sentence.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to fashion a single blog entry of at least a thousand words (this entry is currently 2503 words, by the way.. that is, it was as I typed "2503" anyway) that is one single, convoluted sentence... only to have that entry lost in the resumptions of time.