Friday, February 28, 2014

get it while it's hot

This entry is for new arrivals. It is unfortunate that a sad event--the death of Harold Ramis--might bring me new readers, but I welcome you nonetheless. This is The Groundhog Day Project where I watch Groundhog Day every day--today is day 210--and blog about it (or inspired by it). If you want to catch up, there are indexes (of everything prior to February) on Day 180, Day 121, and Day 62.

Or, if you just want to understand why I'm doing this, maybe read this, this or this.

In the meantime...

I meant to write about e' gia Ieri today. That translates as "it's already yesterday" but the film is also known as Stork Day. It's the Italian remake of Groundhog Day. Variety, 15 February 2004, tells us that producer Riccardo Tozzi and director Giulio Manfredonia "were talking about making a 'what if' comedy and decided to go straight to that subgenre's original source."

The thing is, I never managed to watch it today. And, it's already 11:23 at night, the date night sequence of Groundhog Day is underway and I'm blogging without a plan. See, I got busy today with, well, life stuff. For example, my daughter Saer--she's 11--debuted as Scout in a high school stage production of To Kill a Mockingbird tonight. I got her to agree that rehearsing the same play day after day for six weeks now was like repeating the day over and over again just so I had an excuse to mention it in this blog... well, that and it was a big part of the reason I didn't have time to watch both Stork Day and Groundhog Day today. My son, Kieran--he's 14--suggested that if I watched Stork Day I didn't have to watch Groundhog Day. There's an argument to be made there, certainly; Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis are both credited on the film--

(I am not sure what they are credited for exactly. I haven't watched the movie yet and all the text on the case, including the teeny tiny credits, are in Italian. It says:

soggetto di DANNY RUBIN sceneggiatura di DANNY RUBIN e HAROLD RAMIS adattamento della sceneggiatura di VALENTINA CAPECCI GIULIO MANFREDONIA e ANDRS KOPPEL con la collaborazione di FABIO BONIFACCI

I assume that's the same as "story by" Danny Rubin, "Screenplay by" Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis, "Adapted by Valentina Capecci, Giulio Manfredonia and Andrs Koppel with the collaboration of Fabio Bonifacci. However, I don't want to translate anything yet. For example, on the front cover it says il giorno in cui perse il tempo trovo' l'amore. There's something about time and something about love in there. That's good enough for me, for now.)

--but as there are only two rules for The Groundhog Day Project, I don't want to break one on a technicality. It just seems wrong. When I find the time to watch Stork Day, I will also watch Groundhog Day that day (maybe tomorrow), just like I watched Groundhog Day on each TV Time Loop Day and on the day I watched The Butterfly Effect, the day I watched Repeaters, the day(s) I watched 12:01 PM or Time Freak... These other movies and TV shows are extras. They cannot replace Groundhog Day.

Phil is falling to his death right now, by the way. It's 11:41 PM.

And, Larry just said, "He was a really great guy. I really really liked him... a lot." That reminded me of something I wanted to admit. I wanted to use the first or second part of that, or both, for my initial entry in response to the death of Harold Ramis, but I had apparently already used the second part. There were also some quite obvious bits of dialogue I could have used that I deliberately resisted. For example, "He just passed away." That's a bit too on-the-nose.

...

I was just distracted by Twitter for a bit. Notably, I learned that Angela Gollan (aka "Piano Student" aka Kate/Katie) has a Twitter. The auction is going on now. Crowd shots remind me, I should do a sequel to my labeling entry, simply noting extras that get to be in more than one location.

Or I should write about Stripes, which I watched last night. Except, the most notable thing I have to say about it--it had been a while since I'd seen it--was that structurally it seemed a heck of a lot like Police Academy (or I suppose that's vice versa, since Stripes came out first, but I'm more familiar with Police Academy because it was a film we had on VHS when I was a kid.

I could also still potentially watch Day Break or Tru Calling or Somewhere in Time for this blog as well. Maybe I'll still get to all that. I've still got over 150 days left.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to watch every movie, every adaptation, every remake, every ripoff, every, well, everything, and compare and contrast them all... thoroughly.

P.S. The Groundhog Day Project has a Twitter and a Facebook page. Follow and like them respectively and help spread the word.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

the head groundhog honcho

The only time Harold Ramis ever worried about his career was in 1972. He was living in Encino, California with his first wife, Anne. He had $40 in the bank. He'd written a novel with Michael Shamberg. An editor sent back the manuscript alone with a copy of The Elements of Style. He recounts the story in GQ, July 2009. "My wife said to me, 'Has it occurred to you that you might not be successful?' She wasn't saying I wouldn't be. She was just posing the question. And I said, 'Oh man. It's occurring to me right now.'"

The reporter, Brett Martin, asked, "How long did you beat yourself up over it?"

Ramis responded:

I swear this is true: At that moment, the phone rang, and it was the owner of Second City asking me to come back and produce the television show that reconnected me with Bill Murray [Ramis had covered the troupe in 1968 while writing freelance for the Chicago Daily News and had worked with Murray on The National Lampoon Radio Hour] and led to the rest of my career. So it was like one really bad afternoon where I thought all was lost.

That's it? Nothing since?

I've never had any kind of interruption that felt career-threatening.

From a lot of the bios it seems like he's telling the truth here. Not that he had it easy but his career seems to have gone fairly smoothly.

There was something in the 80s, a personal turning point, maybe his own dark night of the soul like Phil Connors' time loop. As I mentioned a couple entries back, he looked inward and measured his life. He went to various types of therapy, divorced his first wife and remarried, lost 40 pounds and gained back that and more. And, he became "something of a Buddhist."

I wouldn't pretend to know what changed. Maybe it was simply his way of dealing with success.

Regardless of his personal transformation, his career trajectory was headed up. Sean O'Neal at A.V. Club suggests that Club Paradise and Armed and Dangerous marked "an inevitable downslope" after the successes of Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon's Vacation, Ghostbusters, and Back to School. It reads to me more like personal preference (combined of course with staying power). And it plays it like Groundhog Day was some great comeback. As if Groundhog Day needed to be more important than it already was as far as Ramis' career, Murray's career, comedy, film.

"Harold Ramis has shaped this generation's ideas of what is funny," Paul Weingarten writes in Chicago Tribune Magazine in 1983, this before many of those films I just listed were made. His work with Second City and SCTV--those had already shaped the comedic style of many up and coming actors. Nathan Rabin writes for AV Club, 21 March 2013: "It is a testament to Ramis' enormous success and influence that a primer on his films in many ways doubles as a primer on contemporary American studio comedy." Director Jay Roach told Tad Friend at the New Yorker, 19 April 2004,

...the six films Murray and Ramis made together define a level of achievement [Roach] calls "extreme comedy." "You would watch people in the audience just lose their minds... Harold Ramis is the yardstick of what you want to reach for, of people's bodies around you going into convulsions of joy while your brain is thinking and your emotions are deeply tied in to the characters, and you're going, 'Oh my God, this is the best two hours I've ever spent.'"

Michael Shamberg, who went to school with Ramis (and who I already mentioned wrote a novel with him), and Ramis wrote and performed skits together on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. Ramis, a National Merit Scholar, attended on full scholarship and earned his degree in English. But, along the way, he and Shamberg made a pact. "We agreed," Ramis tells Peter Garfinkel of Shambhala Sun, July 2009, "to never take work that wasn't fun, to do only what we wanted to do, and never take a job that we had to dress up for."

"Harold is my most enlightened friend," Shamberg tells Garfinkel.

I always thought he was funny, but the reason I was drawn to him was he was smart, honest, and had a generosity of spirit. As far as I understand Buddhism, it's a system of seeing things with clarity and realism. It turns out, great filmmaking is a way of seeing things clearly. The essence of comedy is seeing things clearly when others do not, and playing with the disparity between what people perceive and reality. Harold does that so well because he... is willing to entertain diametrically opposite ideas at the same time to get to the truth.

"I always thought he was a very talented writer who always had a very perceptive and intelligent point of view about the material," Ivan Reitman tells the Chicago Tribune in 1999.

"He had a special gift of bringing people along and getting the best out of people and getting people to work together," Second City CEO Andrew Alexander tells the Chicago Tribune, 24 February 2014.

Richard Christianson, Ramis' editor at the Daily News, tells the Tribune (same date), Ramis "was aggressive in his desire to succeed but never at the sacrifice of somebody else's gain... I always admired him for that. He wanted to get the brass ring, but he didn't want to deprive anyone else from having the thrill of triumph." In fact, when asked by Brett Martin in the aforementioned GQ interview, "I've heard you tell the story of coming back from a leave of absence from Second City, seeing John Belushi in your place onstage, and thinking, Oh well, I guess I'll be a writer," Ramis replied, "He was just so much braver than I was." O'Neal at AV Club suggests,

With his owlish appearance and dry crackle of a voice, Ramis usually played the more cerebral kind of smartass, whose deadpan witticisms and perpetual looks of wry bemusement offered a quiet counterpoint to more extroverted, goofball antics of his costars. This was a supportive technique he learned at Chicago's Second City, where, after a stint writing and editing jokes for Playboy, he began studying improv and performing with John Belushi and Bill Murray, whose huge character pieces and physical performances he knew he could never hope to match--and wisely he didn't try. Knowing that every comedy troupe needs someone to ground it, Ramis carved out a niche for himself as the crucial, low-key foil who made the goofballs work.

That last sentence seems like an apt description for his career as director and writer as well. Nathan Rabin at AV Club tells us, "Ramis was always willing to defer to the singular talents of others; [for example] after co-writing the script for Caddyshack, he famously let Murray improvise his entire role as a demented, sideways-talking groundskeeper locked in an eternal war with a rascally gopher."

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to incite the goofballs to their greatest antics then to surpass them.

Sources:

Caro, Mark. "Harold Ramis, Chicago actor, writer and director, dead at 69." Chicago Tribune 24 February 2014. LINK

Friend, Tad. "Comedy First: How Harold Ramis's movies have stayed funny for twenty-five years." New Yorker 19 April 2004. LINK

Garfinkel, Peter. "And If He Sees His Shadow..." Shambhala Sun July 2009. LINK

Martin, Brett. "Harold Ramis Gets the Last Laugh." GQ July 2009. LINK

Martin, Douglas. "Harold Ramis, Director, Actor and Alchemist of Comedy, Dies at 69." The New York Times 24 February 2014. LINK

O'Neal, Sean. "Newswire: UPDATED: R.I.P. Harold Ramis." A.V. Club 24 February 2014. LINK

Rabin, Nathan. "Primer: A beginner's guide to comedy legend Harold Ramis." A.V. Club 21 March 2013. LINK

P.S. The Groundhog Day Project has a Twitter and a Facebook page. Follow and like them respectively and help spread the word.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

the last thing that you heard

Two things:

Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Harold Ramis, one of America's greatest satirists, and like so many other comedic geniuses, a proud product of Chicago's Second City. When we watched his movies – from ‘Animal House’ and ‘Caddyshack’ to ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ – we didn’t just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings. Our thoughts and prayers are with Harold’s wife, Erica, his children and grandchildren, and all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.

and

Harold Ramis and I together did the National Lampoon Show off Broadway, Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. He earned his keep on this planet. God bless him.

That longer one is from President Barack Obama. The shorter one is Bill Murray.

But, I actually didn't want to quote a bunch of other people today. I couldn't pass up those two, though.

I'm not sure that I'd really thought about Harold Ramis as someone who meant something to me until yesterday when I heard he had died. I watch what I believe is his greatest film every day and I've written entries about his commentary track and entries about his second revision of Rubin's screenplay. But, I've spent so much of my time inside the movie, I hadn't really put much thought into Ramis, necessarily.

Yet, I had several people who said sorry to me as if I knew the guy... and I guess, in a way, I do know the guy. I'm in his head quite often, thinking about decisions he must have made while making Groundhog Day, wondering why he made certain choices or how he came up with certain ideas.

The structural echoes within the film, for example, so many of those are visual things that certainly don't come from Rubin's seven-act original but also don't really come from Ramis' rewrite. The first shot of the street in front of the Cherry Street Inn, for example (which was just on my television)--it is echoed in the shot at the end of the film of that same street covered in snow. Phil mimicking Larry eating is echoed in Phil gorging on cake at the Tip Top. The trio of Phil and Rita and Larry in the van is echoed in Gus and Ralph and Phil in the car.

Another choice that likely came from Ramis: the crane shots early in the film establish some basic geography for the square. We see where the movie theater is, we see the Tip Top, we get a nice overview of Gobbler's Knob, and the Pennsylvanian Hotel. Locations that will matter more later and Ramis establishes their locations in our heads before we even realize they matter.

A lot of the spiritual aspects of the film are present in Rubin's original, but Ramis embraces them fully while never focusing on them, which makes them all the more powerful. As a "nonpracticing" Buddhist, he gives the film a sense of depth that, on first blush, it almost doesn't earn. I mean, yeah, I've quoted that 12-year-old from the Los Angeles Times article who saw that Phil needed to get things right to escape the time loop, but so much of the film is an enjoyable surface. And, that choice--to keep the romantic comedy surface atop the underlying philosophical nougat center--that's Ramis far more than Rubin. It's the dual-layer nature of the film that makes it stick in our heads even if we just see an enjoyable comedy...

I don't just see an "enjoyable comedy" anymore, of course. I don't even see the dual-layer, semi-subversive film that tricks us into thinking about big ideas in between Murray and his jokes, anymore. I see a lot more than that. Arguably, we all see much more than that; we just don't realize it. Groundhog Day is a film that, as I have mentioned many times before, connects to virtually any theme you can think of.

Just look at Gus' and Ralph's joy when presented with the idea of no tomorrow. It's a concept we've all thought about. It's universal. There's no tomorrow. What do you do? I had a pretty good day today, but on the second go round I might skip my office hours altogether because I'd know no students would come. Or I might watch something different or read something different as I sit there alone. Or I might go find someone to spend time with, a friend perhaps. Or--and I don't mean to keep mentioning this--I'd see if that girl I'm interested in was on campus, or I'd find out where she was instead and go there, and I'd Phil Connor her... which sounds dirtier than usual suddenly. I just mean I'd figure out through trial and error what it would take for her to go out with me. I don't need to get her back to my room.

Somewhere in Phil Connors or Bill Murray or Danny Rubin or Harold Ramis is a sort of guru to a take on life I think I experience in my head but fail far too often to externalize. I don't grab at the things I want. I don't tell people the things I want to tell them sometimes because I imagine the conversation that might result and I opt out before it's even had the chance to go well.

I'm not as old as Harold Ramis was, but I can't help but think I need to get a little better grasp on my life before I get much older. I don't want an endless list of regrets when it comes time for me to die. I don't have a lot of regrets per se, now. So much of what I've been through, good or bad, has led to who and what I am today. There are key moments, key actions I would take back if I could, things I'd do better. But, I am not particularly disappointed in my today. And, I'd like to not be disappointed in my tomorrow.

Harold Ramis was apparently quite a great guy, thoughtful and giving. I'm sure I'll have more to say about him--and I may quote a bunch of other people again next time. He was a prolific filmmaker, a creative writer, a successful actor, a husband, a father, a grandfather. He was beloved by many and he has left a legacy of great films and comedy routines. And, he has given me, at least, a lot to think about.

Now, I need to figure out how to do better. I'm doing pretty good with my life lately, grad school, coaching, hanging out with my kids when I can... But, I could do more, in all aspects of my life. And, I could be more bold.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to have total consciousness. And, to be bolder, even if it means being rejected.

Monday, February 24, 2014

more than anything else

There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. All you have to do is get in touch with it. Stop thinking. Let things happen and be... the ball...

Find your center. Hear nothing. Feel nothing.

That's Chevy Chase as Ty Webb in Caddyshack. I get the impression from quotations in articles or interview clips that Harold Ramis was a bit zen like Webb. He didn't "want to be the Buddha," though, he told Perry Garfinkel of Shambhala Sun. "I just want to admire him." Brett Martin, writing for GQ in 2009, calls Ramis a "sympathetic, though nonpracticing, Buddhist." With that one character in Caddyshack, with his own understated performance as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters, and most obviously with the entirety of his cinematic masterpiece Groundhog Day, Ramis infused his films with a relaxed sort of zaniness that makes them hold up quite well long after the fact of their releases.

Despite his success, he didn't particularly buy into it like many in Hollywood might. In fact, as part of his search for centeredness, he moved back to Chicago in the late 90s to get away from L.A. "He's the least changed by success of anyone I know in terms of sense of humor, of humility, sense of self," Second City founder Bernie Sahlins said of him in 1999 (quoted in the Chicago Tribune this morning). "He had enormous success relatively, but none of it has gone to his head." In the Los Angeles Times, 12 February 1993, Ramis says he suffers from "the impostor syndrome... It's hard to believe that any of us deserve the life that some of us are living. I mean, I think I would have been happy being a production assistant. On the other hand, having been involved even tangentially in some of the films I've worked on, and given the public's deep love for some of them, I feel I've earned this little footnote in film history for at least two, if not four of them."

I imagine Harold Ramis, perhaps, as "too humble to know he's perfect." Well, maybe he wasn't perfect but as a comedian and a filmmaker he ranged from adequate (I will admit I haven't even seen many of his films from the last ten to fifteen years) to brilliant. For example, Caddyshack, which I just watched to start a mini-Ramis/Murray-marathon tonight, has its weak moments and it meanders and wanders--

(Sean O'Neal at AV Club points out how this "rambling improvised style would prove to be an influence on whole generations of comedies to follow." For example, Martin suggests, "Without him, there'd be no Judd Apatow, Seth Rogan, or Will Ferrell... Any doubts that Ramis is a founding father of modern comedy were most recently dispelled when Judd Apatow cast him as Seth Rogan's actual father in Knocked Up.

(I'll forgive the misuse of "actual" there... this time.)

Apatow calls Ramis, in the Chicago Tribune today, "the nicest man I've ever met, and he taught me so much about comedy and about spirituality and about being a good person." With films like Groundhog Day, he taught all of that to a whole lot of us.)

--and resolves some of its plot points a little too quickly--I'm looking at you, pregnancy--but the jokes still hold up more than three decades later and it makes some points in passing about classism that still feel current. O'Neal tells us how Ramis' love of improv "led to the film being gradually overtaken by Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray, as Ramis, to the irritation of some of the more formal actors, let them run wild." But, the anarchic feel of the whole movie works. It embodies a strange place on the brink of 80s excess and it relies on some seeming amateur actors in major roles but just keeps moving forward despite its flaws. It's like Phil Connors in that way.

Nathan Rabin at AV Club describes it like this:

Caddyshack was very much a film of the moment; it even boasted a requisite Kenny Loggins soundtrack. But like a surprising number of Ramis' films, it's proven strangely resilient. Critics tended to dismiss, if not deride, Ramis' '80s comedies as 'merely funny,' but making generation upon generation of audiences laugh, as his best films do, is a hell of an achievement.

Ghostbusters, which has just ended as I type this, seems far less dated, except for its own requisite '80s film bit--the montage. And Ramis proves a far better actor here than in his brief appearance in Groundhog Day. His great part in Groundhog Day is not that brief bit of acting, anyway; rather, it is his writing (credited along with Danny Rubin, of course) and his directing, using a lot of rather still cameras, patiently allowing for the action to run its course... much like with his earlier, more manic comedies, except with a much more grounded reality in the frame.

Another film I may watch later this week is National Lampoon's Vacation--a staple of my childhood because it was one of the first films we had on videotape.

...and I don't want to just review his films. I think the measure of a man should be something bigger than and separate from what he produces in his work (though artistic work is certainly part and parcel of the artist responsible moreso than some modern work is, obviously). Ramis fascinates me because he is that "nonpracticing" Buddhist. Because he seems to have figured out a lot of life a long time ago. Tad Friend, writing for the New Yorker, 19 April 2004, describes how Ramis, after finding financial success in the 80s,

began, in the L.A. way, to look inward: he tried couples therapy, family therapy, parenting therapy, past-lives therapy, and personal therapy; he divorced and remarried; he lost forty pounds on a liquid-protein diet and then regained it and more; he joined a men's group--the Road Kill Men's Council--and became something of a Buddhist. In all, he has resisted the claims of late middle age. When Violet, his daughter from his first marriage, gave birth recently, Ramis declared that he wished to be addressed not as Grandpa but as GrandDude.

Me--I write this blog, I watch Groundhog Day. My inward turn--the latest one anyway--I owe at least in part to Harold Ramis for what he put together here. Phil is trying to win over Rita at dinner as I type this particular sentence.

(Note, not all of this entry was written in the order you will read it.)

And, I get the feeling I actually want to turn more outward again. I've written lately about thinking about wanting to be in a relationship again. And, just tonight, reading about Ramis' various films as writer, director and/or actor, I realized I take some of my teaching cues from Murray's counselor Tripper Harrison in Meatballs, who Nathan Rabin in GQ calls "more of a peer to his campers than an authority figure." Inward is fine... is necessary. But, eventually, like Phil Connors in Groundhog Day we must act for others. For me, on an immediate level, that's my kids. But then, there's also my students, my friends, the rest of my family... readers of this blog... the people of the world if ever I were in a position to do so.

I don't figure Ramis for one who desperately resisted death when it finally came just about 23 hours ago. I'm sure that he knew he'd done well for his life and he felt loved by his family, his wife Erica, his children Violet, Julian and Daniel, and two grandchildren. Ramis had suffered from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis for some time now. After an infection led to complications in 2010, he had to learn to walk again. In 2011, he had a relapse of the vasculitis. In Woodstock, on Groundhog Day, Bob Hudgins told me Ramis' health wasn't good. It is fitting, I suppose, that his death comes at the end of the month that begins with that holiday, and with his greatest film. Richard Alleva, writing in Screen, 26 March 1993, called February "the season of non-celebration, of colorlessness, of stasis." At least, that was February before Groundhog Day. I hope Ramis' february was full of color.

In the aforementioned Los Angeles Times, 12 February 1993, Ramis says success "gives you a tremendous sense of validation, but at the same time you suffer the possibility that the next thing you do will be awful, and you have to face getting older and I'm really not looking forward to being 77 and being out there directing 'Caddyshack XII.'" If there's a silver lining, he doesn't have to face directing derivative sequels into his old(er) age. Instead, he leaves behind a filmography, Brett Martin in GQ describes like this:

You'll not only find the subversive classics that made his name (Animal House, Meatballs, Stripes, Caddyshack), the secondary cultural landmarks (Ghostbusters, Back to School, National Lampoon's Vacation), the masterpiece (Groundhog Day), or even the more recent commercial successes (Analyze This); you'll also see stuff like Bedazzled and Mutliplicity--films you might be surprised to find yourself laughing through if you take the time to watch them. In three and a half decades of making movies, Ramis has hardly made one that doesn't qualify for iconic status, or at least regular television rotation.

Dan Aykroyd is quoted today on CBS Chicago, saying he "was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher Harold Ramis. May he get the answers he was always seeking."

I figure the guy who made Groundhog Day already had a lot of the answers... if there are any. His cinematic legacy will live on and he will be missed. And, I regret that I did not have the chance to ever talk to him for this project. I think he would have liked the meditative, repetitive nature of this thing.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: ...I will forego the obvious, trying to keep people from dying. As Phil learns in the third act of Groundhog Day sometimes that is a pointless exercise. If we didn't have death looming off on the horizon, life wouldn't have the value it does. If we're lucky enough or bold enough, we live life to the fullest. And, when death comes for us, we face it with dignity and resolve, knowing that we have lived. So, no, I would not unnecessarily try to keep anyone from dying. But, for those who I cannot save, I would be with them, to be sure they are neither panicked nor confused. I would give comfort where I could and maybe rage along side those more resistant to death because it is too soon and they haven't managed to live the life they want to live just yet. Whatever makes the passing easier.

And, I would save from death entirely those who I could, of course. But, that's kind of a given.

i'm waiting for the punchline

On the one hand, I've got nothing in particular to write about tonight. Phil has just figured out that he can take advantage of the time loop on my TV, and just punched Ned. I got back from hanging out at a speech tournament less than an hour ago (and it's 11:21 PM right now), and I've been out most of the day.

(I wasn't judging, and didn't snag any sheet of impromptu topics, either, so I won't be connecting Groundhog Day to a bunch of random quotations.)

On the other hand, I've been meaning to get back to critiquing Benesh and I've still got a handful of Groundhog Day-related articles nearby that I could write about or in response to. In particular, the manila folder that holds articles I haven't stuck in one of my Groundhog Day Project binders, is open to "Seeing the Shadow" by Dairyu Michael Wenger Sensei. It's a Buddhist piece. I was thinking about writing about the Buddhist take on Groundhog Day again. I didn't end up choosing Groundhog Day as Buddhist Film as my topic for my rhetoric paper this quarter, though it was my second choice, so I do intend to get back to some Buddhism-related stuff in this blog again soon.

But not today.

Right this second, saying that "Groundhog Day demonstrates the wonder of living each moment as a totally new event" seems both trite and tired. The latter because I've already said it in numerous ways in the past seven months. The former because, well, a) it's the kind of theme that should be obvious to everyone who watches Groundhog Day and b) it's the kind of theme that should be obvious to everyone who has managed to survive for more than a day. Keep in mind, 12-year-old Jonathan, quoted in the Los Angeles Times, 4 March 1993, could see that Groundhog Day has a message--he described it like this: "I guess the plan was that he could get out if he did everything right and helped everybody."

The "Seeing the Shadow" piece mentions "unexamined shadows." My shadows have not gone unexamined. When my wife and I first separated, I had weekly therapy sessions, and ever the overthinker, I've spent plenty of time outside of actual therapy to figure out what all of my "shadows" are. Regarding shadows, I was glad today that I didn't begin this blog last Groundhog Day. When we separated the second time, ostensibly to get divorced, I had a transitionary period in which I wrote some very depressing things in a little notebook I would carry around with me. I still carry a notebook with me most of the time, but the current one does not have any depressing journal-like entries or poems in it. Had I been doing this blog, I probably would have found excuses to share some depressing stuff... not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that. Hell, some (or maybe all--I'd have to check) of the poetry I wrote then is on my website. But, I didn't have to squeeze it all into Groundhog Day.

I could have, though.

I mean, for the record, I could probably squeeze just about anything into this blog and make a reasonable case for its inclusion. Phil's trying a little too hard the night of the second snowball fight on my TV right now and that makes me think a) of building a snowman as a kid on a visit to Pennsylvania, b) building a snowman with teammates at a speech tournament in Utah two years ago c) the movie Frozen because typing the phrase "building a snowman" twice just now made me hear in my head "Do you want to build a snowman?" and d) the way Phil fell on the ground to be recreate their (presumed) kiss the night of the previous snowball fight makes me think of lying on the ground in a park in San Francisco with my then fiancé more than a decade ago, and that makes me think of how lately I've been wishing I were in a relationship again, and that makes me want to make a point in saying I don't need to be. I've got my grad school work, I've got my coaching, I've got this blog, I've got my kids.*

* pieces of my life listed not by importance by but the way the sentence seemed to flow well.

I wrote--again--about Larry and Nancy possibly getting together yesterday. And, I know in the original (and quoted again yesterday) Larry/Nancy entry, I said, "It’s a nice thought, that any of us can find companionship, in a friend, in a lover, however it may come."

(Of course, then I include that photo which does not really imply "companionship.")

It is a nice thought, though. But, I'm not so sure it's a necessary thought, especially in light of that "however it may come" qualifier. I've got companionship here and there... I don't need a romantic relationship to have that.

Or maybe I'm just justifying my loneliness, another part of me wants to point out. But, that part of me should shut up. Give in to loneliness rather than be happy doing what I'm doing--and I am pretty happy lately--and I'll be all depressed like Phil, though I don't think I'll jump off a tower like he just did on my TV.

Life may be a series of repetitions, going to school, going to work, maybe squeezing in a movie now and then, but, as Dairyu Michael Wenger Sensei points out, while you may "go to the same place, wear the same clothes, and follow the same routine... each moment is unique."

Heraclitus once said something along the lines of "you cannot step into the same river twice." For, the river is ever changing and so are you. Lately, more than once, I've suggested that I am not actually watching the same move every day for this blog. Groundhog Day is actually a slightly different film each time I have it on. I'll focus on different aspects or even see new things, even still. More than 200 days in and I'm not sick of it. Of course, as I pointed out before, Groundhog Day may be that companion I'd like to think I don't need... at least for now.

And, to be fair, not needing something doesn't mean I don't want something.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to get what I want, simply, completely.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

let me just drop a tip here

I wrote about Larry's bar scene (and relationship chances) with Nancy way back on Day 32.

There isn't much dialogue to the exchange; it's mostly Larry...

Larry: People just don’t understand what is involved in this. This is an art form. You know, I think that most people just think that I hold the camera and point it at stuff. There is a heck of a lot more to it than just that. Hey, would you be at all interested in seeing the inside of the van?

Nancy: You know, I really have to get back to the party.

Larry: Great idea. I think I’ll go with you. Let me just drop a tip here.

And Larry puts maybe a dollar down and then quite deftly picks it right back up once Nancy isn't looking.

Ryan Gilbey (2004) barely mentions this scene in his critique. "In the bar of the Pennsylvanian Hotel...," he writes, "Larry is trying, and failing, to seduce Nancy" (p. 76). The character of Larry is called

  • "darkly funny" by Janet Maslin in The New York Times, 12 February 1993
  • "callous" by Brian D. Johnson in Maclean's, 22 February 1993
  • "a good sport" by Roger Ebert in his revisited review, 30 January 2005 (Larry goes unmentioned in the original) and
  • "rather dorky" by Maolsheachlann at Irish Papist, 6 August 2012.

    Mostly, from what I've seen, people don't much like Larry. And, he certainly isn't a great catch for Nancy, even if she might just be "the local sexpot" according to John Simon, writing in National Review, 12 April 1993. I was nicer (than others have been) before, when I called Larry both "possibly more genuine than Phil used to be" and "horribly creepy and offputting." Yes, that's me being nice. I like Larry.

    And, I also wrote: "Nancy’s single, she’s attractive. Why wouldn’t he try hooking up with her there at the bar?"

    But, then we get into what might be a narrative issue with "pairing the spares" even as we get a thematic echo of early-loop Phil in Larry.

    TV Tropes explains "Pairing the Spares" this way:

    Charlie has an unrequited crush on Alice; meanwhile, Doris has been desperately trying to win over Bob's affections. However, Alice and Bob are the ones who ultimately end up getting together.

    When Alice and Bob finally go from Official Couple to actual couple, Charlie and Doris are left in the cold. Still, both of them have experienced the pain of heartbreak and unrequited love — so why not hook them up together? They may not have any initial attraction to each other, but they can always hang out and reminisce about their similar failed romances, and somewhere along the way, they might just find mutual love with each other like their former partners have.

    While it's nice to see Charlie and Doris get a happy ending of their own, this device can very easily reek of red string puppetry and make viewers suspect that the creator just paired them off to permanently get them out of the main couple's way.

    Arguably, there's more to Larry and Nancy than simply pairing off characters that can be paired off. And, yes, it's amusing to see Larry fail where Phil succeeded so easily. But, that amusement might hide a bigger point. Larry here is like an echo of what Phil was before... Rather than repeat myself, I will, well, repeat myself; here's what I said before:

    Larry and Nancy are just two lonely people trying desperately (Larry more than Nancy, I’d say) to find a connection with someone. At this point Phil’s changed the way we look at people connecting; he’s manipulated circumstance to perfect and then mangle his relationship with Rita. He’s manipulated his way into a night with Nancy. And, for a while there, everything he did was so shallow that seeing him save lives and help people—not to mention deal with mortality in a way he hasn’t had to deal with it in a very long time—is not only a tonal difference in the film but a potentially jarring difference in our experience of it. So, seeing Larry and Nancy fumbling at getting together (or avoiding it) is both a welcome intrusion—a little normalcy for a change—and, now that I’ve noticed that is has got nothing to do with Phil, a meaningful little moment. Phil’s journey has been unusual. Sure, it works as a metaphor for normal life in its ways, but it’s certainly not normal. Here, in this brief exchange between Larry and Nancy we witness something that doesn’t fit the film. On one level, it’s just a chance to see familiar characters one more time and lead up to the revelation of Phil on stage at the party. But, on another level, it echoes the original scene in the bar way back on Day 1, Larry in his “foxy” sweater, Phil casually suggesting he’s going to go read Hustler. Before, the trio (with requisite shot of the bartender shaking his head of course) was Phil at the bar, Rita and Larry approaching to maybe get him to go to the party. Now, it’s Larry and Nancy at the bar, Rita doing the approaching.

    That wedding portrait on the wall at the bar is framed between Larry and Nancy now. Outside the plot of the film, outside the story of Phil Connors, this scene then plays as a sort of beginning to a new story, that of Larry and Nancy. Now, I don’t think these two characters are going to get together, especially after Larry spends the night with that Old Lady and then heads back to Pittsburgh. But, you could see this scene, like the “sweet vermouth” scene as the start of the process for a new relationship. This is how reality plays. Little steps, conversations that might not work quite right. We can’t always know just what to say. Larry, like us and unlike Phil, does not have the benefit of a repeating day to fix his approach; he’s just got his own desperation and a seeming inability to quite see his own faults… in reality, those two can get you pretty far, I suppose. In Punxsutawney, PA, February 2nd, 1993... Nancy knows who Phil Connors is—probably saw his big speech that morning—and she wants to buy a Phil Connors who didn’t sit next to her in Mrs. Walsh’s 12th grade English class. So, Larry’s got his work cut out for him, and he’s probably just going to have to find a bar in Pittsburgh on February 3rd so he can try again with another Nancy. He’ll still be a smartass, he’ll still be just a cameraman. But, we can hope.

    Or maybe Larry’s hopeless.

    There is hope for Larry. Jonathan Romney writes--regarding Phil and one lesson we can take from Groundhog Day--in New Statesman & Society, 7 May 1993: "And that's where the film ends up, in a perfect have-your-cake-and-eat-it male fantasy. Yes guys, even a repellant jerk can get off with Andie MacDowell in 24 hours flat." And, that "repellant jerk" managed with Nancy as well. Now, maybe it's Larry's turn...

    Or maybe it shouldn't be. More of me:

    The usual experience of the film is that Phil’s “reward” for making himself a better man is that he gets to be with Rita. It makes for a nice fairy tale. While I am contrarian a bit regarding that take on the story, I think the need for human companionship is universal. Phil’s problem was that he hadn’t been looking for companionship. He’d been looking for one-night stands. But, yeah, he’s grown up by the end of the story. Now, Larry just has to figure out how to follow suit, and he has to do it in real time, day in, day out. If he can get past his insecurities, maybe he’s got a shot.

    I’d like to believe so, anyway. It’s a nice thought, that any of us can find companionship, in a friend, in a lover, however it may come.

    Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to get past my insecurities.

  • Friday, February 21, 2014

    i surprise myself sometimes

    Sometimes, you just have to run with an idea no matter how crazy it is.

    Today, I took a Myers-Briggs personality test... twice. And, I wasn't answering for myself. I was answering for Phil Connors, not how he would answer, per se, but what an honest answer would be if I were him. The first test--pre-loop Phil. The second--late- or post-loop Phil.

    For the record, I used the Human Metrics site.

    A couple of the notable prompts, considering who Phil is and where he ends up:

    16. You are inclined to rely more on improvisation than on prior planning.

    21. You know how to put every minute of your time to good purpose.

    Anyway, Phil's results pre-loop, though I was the one answering for him, surprised my a little. He got ESTP, broken down as follows:

    Extravert(1%) Sensing(38%) Thinking(38%) Perceiving(11)%
    You have marginal or no preference of Extraversion over Introversion (1%)
    You have moderate preference of Sensing over Intuition (38%)
    You have moderate preference of Thinking over Feeling (38%)
    You have slight preference of Perceiving over Judging (11%)

    What surprised me was the "extravert" bit being so low. Phil is certainly a guy who wants attention prior to the loop, but thinking about it a little, I realize he's looking for attention more out of low self-esteem than high. He presents himself as an arrogant, better-than-you kind of guy, but deep down he knows he's not that special.

    The Myers & Briggs Foundation website describes the ESTP like this:

    Flexible and tolerant, they take a pragmatic approach focused on immediate results. Theories and conceptual explanations bore them – they want to act energetically to solve the problem. Focus on the here-and-now, spontaneous, enjoy each moment that they can be active with others. Enjoy material comforts and style. Learn best through doing.

    Phil is not flexible until he needs to be and he does his best to not be tolerant. But, that could certainly be part of who he pretends to be. He is pragmatic, and theories and conceptual explanations certainly do bore him. And, the rest of it there--that's why he manages in the time loop so well (aside from a little bit of depression).

    Late- or post-loop Phil is more of an extravert, thought with a more subdued style. I think that fits with the self-esteem issue; he is loud and obnoxious and practically begging for attention when he is really stuck inside himself before the loop, but later he is actually interested in interacting with others (and still in getting attention) but he has foregone some desperation.

    But, of course he remains an extravert. A Paragon Educational Consulting document I have from my classroom management course last year breaks down the various "letters" in Myers-Briggs and the first thing on the list under Extrovert is "learns best from doing." That's Phil in a nutshell. Maybe his learning isn't so obvious at the end of the film, but that's because he's already learned everything. Pre-loop Phil doesn't fit the bill as "more at east and confident socially" but he would certainly pretend to be.

    Another page I've got from classroom management is a table from Manual: a Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It tells us that an ESTP (which would only be 6% of all males) is "good at on the spot problem solving." Phil is certainly practical about solving things once he has figured out what's going on. Case in point: the process I call Phil Connoring. It wins him Nancy, it almost wins him Rita. One of the big changes in Phil is that pre- or early-loop, he would be "best with real things that can be worked, handled, taken apart, or put together." He's a hands-on kind of guy. To pass the time he throws playing cards into a hat. But, in Act Three he's seen sitting around reading, four spare books sitting nearby.

    What he gets the second time is ENFJ, broken down as follows:

    Extravert(56%) iNtuitive(12%) Feeling(38%) Judging(67%)
    You have moderate preference of Extraversion over Introversion (56%)
    You have slight preference of Intuition over Sensing (12%)
    You have moderate preference of Feeling over Thinking (38%)
    You have distinctive preference of Judging over Perceiving (67%)

    The Myers & Briggs site describes the ENFJ like this:

    Warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfill their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.

    I don't even see a detail there in need of specific explanation, let alone anything that is wrong. I think I nailed post-loop Phil.

    According to the page from the Manual, ENFJs are only 2% of males.

    Another Paragon Educational Consulting document breaks down the four academic types, and post-loop Phil would be an EN, an "action-oriented innovator." "Projects where [he] can solve problems and draw energy from working with others and overcoming challenges are... areas where [he] feel[s] very confident." Whereas, before, as an ES ("action-oriented realist"), Phil would not be one to sit still for a lecture or a test, and certainly wouldn't have the patience to learn piano and sit around in the Tip Top Cafe reading books.

    By the way, according to Barry Ritholtz's "Know Your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Type" diagram at The Big Picture, pre-loop Phil is more like Winston Churchill, "bold and tactical, with an energy for problem-solving," and post-loop Phil is more like Martin Luther King, Jr., "goal-oriented and caring" and "empathetic."

    See for yourself:

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to classify every person I meet according the this personality test and every other one... then to throw all that stuff aside and just get to know each person.

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

    what if there were no tomorrow?

    I drove past my childhood home today--hadn't seen it in a while. It looks different but the same. Where there once was no fence dividing the front yard from the side yard, and where my father once built a fence, there's now a wall. Where there was a tree I used to climb and from which hung a tire swing and a rope, there is a different, smaller tree. I imagined going inside but the inside would probably be even more different than the outside. My memory of the place remains intact. That's good enough, I suppose.

    My daughter is in a play next week, and this evening she lamented that she's grown close to the other members of the cast and after their string of performances in just over a week she might not see some of them ever again. I thought that was at once a sad fact and a fascinatingly... happy isn't the word, but maybe somehow enlightening. Like a sand mandala or an ice sculpture--it's a form that exists here and now and is that much more powerful and affective because it cannot last.

    I thought of my own experience a couple years back, the last bit of my forensics career (as a competitor anyway). I'd been going to tournament after tournament, including a few travel tournaments, with a small circle of friends, nee teammates. We had practiced together, competed together, traveled together, slept together, changed clothes together, drank together, played in the snow together. We had enjoyed a late night at Sonic after our first tournament that year and we found our way to a different Sonic late at night while away for Nationals. It's the kind of thing you might wish would last forever, a day you might wish to repeat. And, I didn't know if I'd see some of these people ever again. It was a transient moment and, dare I say it, a glorious one.

    Phil Connors' curse--and his gift--is that every day for him is like this. And, sure, as I liked to point out in many an impromptu speech round, it's all well and good to Phil Connor* a local girl or steal money or go out drinking and driving when there is no tomorrow. I think the harder thing, the human thing, is to live for today when you don't get that repeat...

    Day 52 of this project I linked to this video by ZeFrank:

    It was in that same entry that I argued that this project was "an exploration of my self" as much as it was "an exploration of a particular film." Maybe it's more so. And, of course, it is also an exploration of all of us, of the human condition, of film, of love, of life.

    I suggested that I was "beyond the 'adolescent' phase of the time loop of my life." I said,

    I don't have the wherewithal or the audacity to grab the things I want abruptly and claim them an command them to make them mine. I've been hurt enough in my life, often by my own actions more than anyone elses [sic], that I wish I had the infinite loop to get things right today, or tomorrow, or the next day. Or, better yet, yesterday, the day before, the other day. A year ago. Two years ago. Five. Ten.

    At the risk of saying too much (for the right reader), I would add last night... talking to someone on which I've got an almost adolescent crush and... not telling her.

    And still, I am only bold enough to hint at what I meant. In that entry 151 days ago, I said, "If you sit down and think about your life, you can see the specific turning points where one chapter flipped into the next. Day-to-day, it’s not so obvious. Things just go." But, sometimes, you can see the chapters passing by so exactly, so pointedly, that you must lament. Transient moments like a childhood long ago, a romance long past, a marriage left behind. "One day blurs into the next" most of the time," I said. And, I say it again: one day does blur into the next and sometimes it happens so quickly, faster with each passing day as I age and leave behind more and more of my life. If we are lucky... If I am lucky, certain moments stand out and freeze around me...

    Freeze isn't the right word, I suppose. It seems negative. It's more like the good moment embraces you and holds you. It doesn't freeze you, it warms you.

    And that is just cheesy enough to be true.

    Day 52 again, I wrote:

    If we’re lucky, we have good friends, good family, lovers and confidants that make it all go so much more smoothly.

    If we’re not, we better take Nietzsche to heart and find a way to come to terms with the negative, with the boring, with the everyday madness the blunts our drive and dissolves our dreams. Because it’s all going to happen again, the next day, the next, the next, forever.

    “What if there is no tomorrow,” Phil just asked the guy on the phone. What if there isn’t? Did you do what you wanted to do today? Or, were you putting it off? Did you mean to get to it?

    ...

    What should you change about your life? More importantly. Why haven’t you already changed it? Why are you not doing the most important things already? Why waste another moment when life is out there waiting for you to burn?

    “How much time have you already spent worrying instead of doing something that you love?”

    That’s the kind of thing you should not be waiting until the end of your life to ask. Ask it now. Answer it now. And, fix the problem. I wish every day for the fortitude to do so. For that strength.

    Maybe that’s why I got stuck on that one [Tarot] card. Because I haven’t moved past it yet. I can’t.

    Today was a pretty good day. Helped the homeless. Went to school. Substituted a college class. Had a good veggie burger for dinner. Watched some Winter Olympics.

    I don’t know what tomorrow will be like.

    I ended that Day 52 entry like this:

    What if you just had one more day? What would want to do with it? Who would you want to spend the time with?

    What are you going to do today?

    And, why not something else? Something better. Something you really want to do.

    Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to have strength, to trust myself to make moves without overthinking them, to be better, to be happy.

    I still don't trust myself enough on certain things, so...

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to trust myself enough to go after what I want, not that I'm not already happy, but happiness doesn't mean there isn't something else worth having in my life. Or at least doing something toward that end to see if there's something else worth having in my life.

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to have what I want even if just to discover I didn't need it.

    Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    it was just his time

    I neglected to mention one particular media use of "Groundhog Day" yesterday.

    Al Logan Slagle, aka Allogan Slagle, according to his biography on UC Davis' website,

    ...was a member of the United Keetoowah Band of the Cherokee of Oklahoma and worked as an attorney for the Association of American Indian Affairs (AAIA) in Washington, D.C. Prior to that he worked for the California Indian Legal Services in Oakland. He was the co-author of the book, The Good Red Road (1987). He completed his doctorate at Loyola University and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1979 then beginning his career in defending the rights of Native American tribes. His research included making use of National Archives Indian rolls, family genealogies, tribal records, and other documents to write petitions for Native American tribes seeking official legal tribal status.

    He was also a regular contributor to News from Native California magazine. I've found his column as far back as 1990 and beyond his death in 2002 (written by other authors).

    His regular column's name? "Groundhog Day."

    Upon his death, Ron Andrade wrote:

    Al Logan sacrificed his personal life in order to do all that was within his power to insure the integrity of native tribes and to protect the hope and future of Native Americans and their children. Al Logan was responsible for the development of the Privileges and Immunities Technical Amendment Act of 1994. Senator John McCain stated that the passage of that Act to be one of the most significant statutes for the protection of Native American tribal governments.

    Al Logan was never considered a man of few words, as from time to time a member of Congress would request a few words and they soon learned that they needed to be specific or expect numerous boxes of materials to arrive indexed and cataloged. For this, members of Congress respected him as an honest and creditable scholar relentlessly carrying the torch for Native American issues.

    He also included these lines:

    "My heart is moved by all I cannot save, so much has
    been lost.... so much has been destroyed.
    I must cast my lot with those who, age after age,
    perversely, with no extraordinary power...
    reconstitute the world."

    In addition to a memorial service, "tribes that worked closely with Al Logan [planned] a celebration of his life."

    I haven't written about obituaries in this blog in a while. I'm not even entirely sure they ever quite fit the themes of the film. But, this idea, that we celebrate a life even (or maybe especially) when it is complete--that fits quite readily with the themes of Groundhog Day.

    As long as we remember the distinction between living in the moment in a hedonistic fashion and living in the moment in a... more thoughtful way. Phil Connors never really stops living in the moment (suicides excepted, course). Pre-loop, he's stuck constantly in the now because he is neither self-assured nor secure enough in who he is to really consider his future. He dreams about it, sure (and in the second revision of the script he has talked to CBS about a job), but it's difficult to take him seriously when he says he's "probably leaving PBH." I mean, where is he gonna go? During the loop, he lives without consequences, without future, so he is entirely in the moment. For adolescent reasons, for hedonistic reasons... then for more noble reasons. Or, so we interpret it.

    Pre-loop Phil would probably tell us that he celebrates life, but it's questionable whether he truly lives life at that point.

    Allogan Slagle had a cause he worked and wrote in support of for a good portion of his life. Phil Connors, on the other hand, took his time finding a cause (or rather many small causes--the people of Punxsutawney).

    We don't need big causes to make our lives worth celebrating. We just need some purpose. I've got a few, for sure. And lately, life has been better than it has been at some points in recent history for me.

    And, like Allogan Slagle (well, sort of), I've got a regular gig writing about Groundhog Day.

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to apply "Groundhog Day" as a metaphor to every single thing in my life and make all of those metaphors make sense.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    he's already in there

    ”When you find yourself needing the phrase This is like ‘Groundhog Day’ to explain how you feel, a movie has accomplished something.” So says Roger Ebert in his revisited review of Groundhog Day.

    Australian CPA, March 2004, provides this definition for the use of the phrase “Groundhog Day”:

    Ever feel like you are doing the same thing over and over again with little profit or gain? If that’s the case you are having a Groundhog moment/day/week/life. So coined after the 1993 film starring Bill Murray as the obnoxious weatherman destined to relive the same day over and over and over—until he smartens up and plays right. A saluatory [sic] lesson to us all. (p. 13)

    And, “Groundhog Day” has been applied to a lot of different things.

    For example (and this list is far from exhaustive) it has been applied…

    to an amnesty bill in Thailand, The Economist, 9 November 2013.

    to long-term, unsuccessful mental health therapy, Psychotherapy Networker, May/Jun 2013), and to a specific type of therapy, Journal of Family Therapy, 2007.

    to our inability to stop human trafficking, European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, September 2012.

    to new rules for mortgage disclosures, Mortgage Banking, September 2011.

    to red tape out of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Farmers Weekly July 2013.

    to the cotton market, Southeast Farm Press, 18 March 2009.

    to customer service complaints, Computer Weekly News, 31 October 2013.

    to the war in Afghanistan (as on display in two documentary films, Restrepo and Armadillo), Foreign Affairs, September/October 2011.

    to avoiding global warming, Financial Times, 27 November 2007, and changing climate policy, Public Policy Research, December 2008-February 2009..

    to the economy, Real Estate Taxation, Fourth Quarter 2009.

    to labor management in the paper industry, Pulp & Paper, February 2005.

    to selling cars, Motor Age, November 2011. (which included this great drawing)

    to “managing critical information” in banking, Bank Systems & Technology, June 2005.

    to the healthcare debate, Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 2009.

    to Japanese reluctance to raise taxes, Far Eastern Economic Review, 12 February 1998.

    to the real estate business, Forbes, 24 March 2008, and Real Estate Forum, February/March 2013.

    to debate about a pay raise for nurses, Nursing Standard, 23 May 2007.

    to teaching, Negotiation Journal, January 1998.

    to microorganisms learning, Nature, 9 July 2009.

    to biopharmaceutical research, Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics, 2002.

    to the streamlined sales tax, ELA, May 2006.

    to off-year elections in Washington, Upside, November 1998.

    to the “liberal tradition” in politics, The Good Society, 2007.

    to politics in general, The Washington Monthly, October 2007.

    to Major League Baseball playoffs and audit inspection reports, Accounting Today, 7-27 November 2005.

    and to modern life generally, The Groundhog Day Project, quite often.

    Oddly, I didn’t see an article applying “Groundhog Day” to selling insurance. Probably some special Ryerson Rule excludes it.

    Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to catalog every reference to Groundhog Day ever published or made in public.

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    i want to see his chart

    I should be celebrating. It's day 200.

    Instead, I'm wondering about Phil Connors' astrological sign.

    There's something wrong with me. Pretty sure.

    But, anyway, I dealt with Phil's favorite color yesterday. I can deal with his astrological sign.

    The impulse is to just give him the same sign as Bill Murray. Murray was born 21 September 1950. This makes him a Virgo.

    According to Birthday Personality--

    (And, I must say that I just picked a link from the top of the Google search because a) it's astrology, so are there really reputable websites and disreputable websites? b) I'm doing silly things; I needn't spend all day on them.)

    --that makes Phil Connors a "sensation seeker." His greatest challenge is "finding [his] own sense of direction." Yeah, that fits.

    The way forward [or out of the time loop you might get caught in] is to understand that organizations or people can’t give you a sense of purpose; the only way is to find out who you are.

    Phil's problem, of course--he thought before that his purpose was to enjoy himself.

    People born on September 21 are fascinated by all things unusual, unexpected, erratic, and, on occasion, dark. They have the wonderful ability to inject an air of mystery and suspense into even the most mundane of occasions.

    Because they are hungry to learn or experience the unusual or complex, these people may be drawn to explore novel or bizarre subjects that those with less imagination would avoid. Highly sensual, they often feel compelled to seek out new sensations and to share their discoveries or viewpoints with others. Their messages are often profound but frequently misunderstood, and this can make them feel lonely and frustrated. Part of the reason others are sometimes unconvinced by their approach or theories is that they tend to lose themselves in their current obsession, leaving others with no sense of who they are and what they really believe in. It is therefore extremely important for them to try to stay true to their principles and keep a sense of personal identity.

    That's a long one, but yeah, that fits not only with movie Phil but original screenplay Phil who spends time at one point studying the local insect populations.

    People born on this day tend to be attracted to individuals who are difficult or different in some way. They are witty and fun to be around, and generally don’t have problems making friends or attracting admirers. They can, however, suddenly run cold or become uncaring in relationships for no apparent reason. Only a partner as unpredictable as they are will be able to relate to and accept that.

    Rita is, as I have said before a) a bit of a bitch and b) a robot. So, she fits the bill as "difficult or different in some way." Phil is definitely "witty and fun to be around" and he attracts admirers and makes plenty of friends, even when he insults them along the way.

    The life path of people born on this day is to discover a sense of wonder and mystery from within, rather than seeking it outside themselves. Once they have a clearer sense of their identity, their destiny is to share and develop their original and progressive ideas with others.

    So, we can imagine Phil started a new religion or became a great spiritual leader in some existing religion after his experience in the time loop.

    His favorable number is 3. Remember this entry.

    His "lucky days [are] Wednesday and Thursday, especially when these days fall on 3 or 12 of the month." The last day in the movie, when Phil has finally gotten out of the time loop is Wednesday the 3rd.

    And, one of his lucky colors is blue, which is all over the place in the movie.

    His "Power Thought" is “I know who I am and where I am going” which he can probably only truthfully say late in the loop or post-loop.

    And, that would wrap that up except what got me thinking about Phil's astrological sign today was mention of the Chinese Zodiac in intercultural communication class today. And so, I'm curious about Phil's sign in that regard as well.

    Bill Murray was born in 1950, so he would turn 42 the year the movie was filmed. Phil Connors, then, would be born a year later, since the movie is set a year later. So, Phil was born in 1951--the year of the rabbit (Murray a tiger). He was born in September so his "inner animal" is the rooster. He (Phil Connors, but not Bill Murray) was born on a Friday so his "true animal" is either the rabbit, the snake, or the dog. I don't know when Murray was born--a Google search provides several sites with birth charts for him but they all use noon as his time of birth as a default--so I couldn't tell you Phil's "secret animal."

    But, what do those animals mean?

    The rabbit, according to astrology.com, is"extremely popular and has a wide circle of family and friends. Its compassionate nature leads it to be very protective of those it holds dear, but where romance is concerned, the Rabbit's sentimentality can lead it to idealize relationships."

    No, that last bit doesn't sound like Phil at all... Please note the sarcasm.

    Rabbits can also lapse into pessimism and may seem stuck in life -- often to mask their insecure natures. Rabbits tend to move through life's lessons at their own, rather contemplative pace; it's a waste of time to become exasperated with this Sign's seeming disinterest in facing its problems and conquering them.

    I've said more than once Phil really only improves himself when he's run out of other things to do. And, that time loop certainly allows him a very "contemplative" pace.

    As for his inner animal, roosters are "quick thinkers... practical and resourceful, preferring to stick to what is tried and true rather than taking messy, unnecessary risks." Phil tests the time loop with the pencil and again with jail before really getting into it with armored truck robbery and Phil Connoring Nancy Taylor (and maybe 48 other "accessible" women around town if we go by the original screenplay).

    Roosters are keenly observant. It's hard to slip anything past a Rooster, since they seem to have eyes in the backs of their heads! This quality can lead others to think the Rooster is psychic, but that's not generally the case; instead, this Sign enjoys a keen attention to detail that makes it a whiz at anything requiring close analysis.

    Makes them great for time loops as well.

    This bit, I'm not so sure:

    Above all else, the Rooster is very straightforward and rewards others' honesty in kind. Roosters aren't shifty or cagey and have no interest in hiding behind a facade. They are the proverbial open book, telling the truth and keeping their word. If you show your hand, the Rooster will respect you for it. This kind of trusting behavior can tempt tricksters to pull a fast one on the Rooster, but that would be a bad move!

    If I had the deleted scenes up on YouTube yet, I'd link to the pool shark scene. But, that bit about being straightforward, film Phil is really only straightforward when it suits his purposes.

    And, I like this bit:

    This Sign would also do well to learn to adopt the philosophy of live and let live; perhaps an appeal to the Rooster's logic -- that it's inefficient to waste time nagging others -- will help this Sign learn to let others be whomever and however they are.

    Phil isn't quite a nag, of course, but he does love to belittle others.

    I don't want Phil's true animal to match his year sign so it's either the snake or the dog.

    Snakes are "diplomatic and popular, the Snake has the sensual art of seduction down." Of course, in my terms, it's called Phil Connoring not seduction.

    Snakes tend to hang back a bit in order to analyze a situation before jumping into it. Their charming, seductive quality actually belies a rather retiring nature; this Sign is perfectly happy to spend the whole day curled up with a good book and, thus, can be mislabeled as being lazy.

    Also, Snakes "must try to learn humility and to develop a stronger sense of self. Once Snakes realize that confidence comes from within, they will finally be comfortable in their own skin." That sounds like Phil.

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to learn all this astrology stuff so I could so this from memory instead of Googling it all.

    Sunday, February 16, 2014

    somebody asked me today

    I must admit I had nothing to write about today. So, I asked my daughter Saer to ask me a question about Groundhog Day and I would spend today's blog answering it. She asked what Phil Connor's favorite color is.

    But, an aside first: I kept busy most of the day, including cutting apart the deleted scenes from Groundhog Day for later use, skipping through Planes, Trains & Automobiles and all three of the Nolan Batman movies (because Bob Hudgins mentioned that the Amstutz Expressway in Waukegan, Illinois--which is where Phil talks to the trooper in the snow--was used in one of those...

    (I swear he implied it was the latest one, but it was in Batman Begins (and I started with the latest and worked backward) that I found the brief moment in which Batman drives the Tumbler on that highway.)

    Since I found it and all, here you can see the shape of the overpass (where the Amstutz deadends):

    Which is the same shape (but I'm fairly sure not the same bridge) as the one in Groundhog day:

    And, here's the bit in Planes, Trains and Automobiles they filmed in Woodstock. The clip might disappear. I've successfully argued against tags that my Groundhog Day videos were legitimate uses on YouTube but a clip from Jurassic Park I used a while back still has the tag that it matches "third party content."

    But, I was answering a question about Phil Connors' favorite color.

    My impulse was to say blue, because, well... duh. But, after anywhere from 34 days to 10,000 years there in Punxsutawney, he'd probably be sick of blue and white because they are everywhere. Benesh (2011) has a whole section on those two colors, which I've mentioned more than once. Colors that are not very common there in Punxsutawney: hotter colors like red or orange. Yellow. There's hardly any green. And, green is representative of life and that spring that just isn't going to come for Phil...

    And it occurs to me--and this has nothing to do with the topic at hand--that in recounting bits from my notes from the walking tours, I neglected to mention Hudgins' story about what may have led up to Bill Murray being bitten by Scooter (the groundhog). I don't know how intelligent groundhogs are, so I might just be reading into this. But, here's what Scooter witnessed not long before he decided he'd had enough car chase filming for the day and bit Murray twice:

    So, they're filming on a highway--which Hudgins says was between Country Club and 120 [presumably in McHenry, or maybe he said that specifically] but who knows because that's one of the few locations in the movie I still cannot find. This particular stretch of road is so not busy that they are interrupted only twice, by a farmer and a schoolbus. Anyway, the schoolbus stops and Murray, to be funny, takes the stuffed groundhog--Scooter's stand-in--and proceeds to beat it against a fence post over and over to freak out the kids on the bus. I imagine Scooter sitting nearby watching this, and what does he see? This guy who he's been working with all day, and who he is about to be stuck in that truck with, is beating another groundhog. Scooter doesn't know that groundhog, or maybe he's seen him around and wondered why he doesn't move much, but still, you see someone beating your fellow marmot to death and you can't help but get a little angry. And, then they shove you in a truck and you're supposed to pretend to drive because that will make the kids laugh. But, you're sitting there with a murderer. And, you try to hold in your anger because you got to pay the bills. You've got a family of little groundhogs at home in your stump, and you need this job. But, the anger gets the best of you and you lash out, bite down on that murderer's hand a couple times and then filming is done. And, you go out drinking that night with your buddies and you brag about biting the human who beat up another groundhog, and you all have a moment of silence for the groundhog whose name you didn't even know. Then you buy the next round because you've still got the movie gig and all is good.

    But, I was talking about colors. I figure Phil, being changed by the experience, probably wouldn't choose the same color as his favorite post-loop as he would have pre-loop. And, I figure pre-loop Phil might have cited red as his favorite color, because well, just read this bit from "Your Favorite Color: What It Says about You":

    Red: The color of strength, health, and vitality, Red is often the color chosen by someone outgoing, aggressive, vigorous and impulsive—or someone who would like to be! It goes with an ambitious nature but those who choose it can be abrupt at times, determined to get all they can out of life, quick to judge people and take sides.

    Mid-loop Phil, like when he's robbing the armored truck, swimming naked at the local Y, drinking with Ralph and Gus, or doing drugs with "a slut named ANGIE and another overweight, not very pretty MADONNA WANNA-BE, both in too-tight jeans and bullet bras"--a couple of those are from different versions of the screenplay, in case you don't know--he might pick yellow.

    Yellow: The color of happiness, wisdom and imagination, Yellow is chosen by the mentally adventurous, searching for novelty and self-fulfillment. Yellow usually goes with a sunny and shrewd personality, with a good business head and a strong sense of humor. It is the color of intellectuality and all things to do with the mind. Yellow folks are usually clear and precise thinkers who have a good opinion of their own mental capacities and who have lofty ideals. They may at times tend to shun responsibility, preferring freedom of thought and action.

    Post-loop Phil, being all zen, would probably choose green.

    Green: The color of harmony and balance, Green symbolizes hope, renewal and peace, and is usually liked by the gentle and sincere. Greens are generally frank, community-minded people, fairly sociable but preferring peace at any price. Green people can be too self-effacing, modest and patient, so they may get exploited by others. They are usually refined, civilized and reputable.

    So, in answer to my daughter's question, it depends on when, but I'm going to go with green.

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to figure out how to live my life in line with a different favorite color every day.

    Saturday, February 15, 2014

    it's beginning to grow on me

    I feel like I could keep writing about my weekend in Woodstock for days and weeks on end… but I’m not going to.

    Seriously though, I could give a narrative account of trekking through the snow to get a few photos of locations that wouldn’t be on the walking tour. Or, I could invent a more interesting end to my interactions with a local unemployed man who reminded me of O’Reilly, or the random woman standing on a street corner a block off the square who I imagined might be my Nancy Taylor if the day repeated. Or, I could just share the last batch of photos and get on to other topics. Hell, I’ve got more of Benesh’s dissertation to pick apart, actors to profile. And, I’ve got more graduate papers to tie into Groundhog Day and I’d surely share them here…

    Anyway, photos…

    First, this photo, taken today.

    That’s the current setup for my Groundhog Day stuff… though I just noticed my signed copy of the screenplay isn’t there. Gotta fix that…

    Had to make a judgment call between displaying the mini-poster with Rubin’s signature or the script with Murray’s and Elliott’s. The script’s there on the right next to the big groundhog I got in Woodstock and the little Punxsutawn-e Phil Beanie Baby my daughter got me for Christmas. That glass is from Woodstock and the two rocks inside it are from the rock quarry where Phil drives the truck off the cliff. I didn’t get those myself but Mitchell Olson got them once upon a time and gave them to me (gave them to whoever wanted them actually). The t-shirt was a birthday gift from the speech team I coach—I didn’t end up getting any shirts while in Woodstock; I had considered getting the one from the bowling alley but I was hoping to win one of the raffle items so I put off buying a shirt until after the raffle, then never made it back to Wayne’s Lanes again.

    I could use more space somewhere… or maybe it needs to expand to two shelves.

    But, I was going to share the last of the Woodstock photos. Specifically, I wanted to share the library photos. See, after the festivities ended and the crowds disappeared, I found my way to the library because Bob Hudgins had mentioned that they had some Groundhog Day items on display. Turns out they actually have a couple displays, one small one near the entrance and one big one upstairs… Let me just show you.

    That’s the display near the entrance. It’s got several of the Beanie Babies, including the one I’ve got.

    A local publication covering the arrival of the production to town.

    A little blurry, but that’s a notice from Bob Hudgins about employee parking for locals who worked around the square.

    That’s closure notices about where they would be filming and parking. The date at the top is April 30, 1992 and there’s a stamped bit that says “NIGHT FILMING CONTINUES.”

    Too blurry to read it all easily, but it’s dated from February and is signed by the Director of Community Development. Looks like it’s an upfront notice about where production would be parking and filming, generally speaking.

    Didn’t notice when I took this picture but this proclamation was for this year’s Groundhog Day. The top says: “Proclamation Declaring February 2, 2014 Groundhog Day In the City of Woodstock.”

    That’s the wide shot of the upstairs display.

    Closer on the display case.

    The left side has one of the trashcans used in the film and a sketch for the Gobbler’s Knob construction.

    That drawing, a bit closer.

    One of the plates that hung in the Tip Top with a description card. I noticed that Bob Hockemeyer purchased the plate. Pam Hockemeyer is the one who made the mandala quilt seen near the end of the film. Assuming those two are related, I should have looked them up while I was in town.

    Bob Hudgins’ business card at the time—I’ve got his current one—and a description card for the groundhog pillow from Phil’s couch in the movie. Note: donated by Michael Hockemeyer. I really should have looked that family up.

    Shooting script signed by Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin. I like that Rubin drew an arrow from his signature to his name.

    A menu from the Tip Top donated by Pam Hockemeyer. Sigh.

    Employee parking passes and the Woodstock Downtown Business Locator Map.

    Another notice about shooting locations.

    A thank you letter to the people of Woodstock (from the blurry look of it) from Harold Ramis and a signed photo from Bill Murray, signing as Phil & Bill.

    A newspaper clipping: “Film crew goes to bat for charity.” Note the team name: Hogs.

    ”Location Shots” from Waynes’ Lanes.

    A cast list.

    This newspaper has an article about the warehouse in Cary where they built interiors.

    To the right of the display case was this big cutout of Punxsutawney Phil.

    And, on the wall, another display, with newspaper clippings. Close-ups follow:

    Lastly, this was on display in the kids’ section of the library. The Headline on the fake newspaper: “Giant groundhog climbs Woodstock Opera House!!!”

    Actually, there are a couple more photos to share. They were on the wall in the library but don’t link directly to the film.

    First, the masthead; this is a copy of the McHenry County Democrat from 1892.

    This image was at the center of the page.

    Why it’s interesting is that the balcony-looking bit was added after the movie was filmed—the Pennsylvanian Hotel in the film does not have it. And, Bob Hudgins even implied that he didn’t like the change. But, as you can see from this image, it would seem the building had that thing there before, so the “change” was actually a return to a previous appearance, not something new.

    For comparison:

    Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to memorize everything and make sure I’ve got the artistic ability to reproduce it all by drawing it if the photos aren’t clear enough.

    i never miss it

    I drift away from talk of Woodstock--well, really, I planned to talk about reviews on the anniversary of the film's release, and that slipped into a bit about Bill Murray rather easily. But, I'm still not quite done with Woodstock.

    So, subtitle this one: Notes on a Walking Tour (or Two).

    And, the title is a lie. I miss Woodstock sometimes.

    I still obsess about locations, by the way. Just tonight, I was trying again to find a location from the big car chase. On Saturday's walking tour, Bob Hudgins mentioned that they filmed on a highway "between Country Club and 120." In McHenry, not far from Woodstock, there's a country club not far from 120. But, I check street view in Google Earth and have yet to find the distinctive pillar visible in this screencap:

    It's the sort of thing that I figure should still be around even if the nearby area has changed, more houses, fewer houses, whatever. But, I haven't found it yet.

    But anyway. Things from the tour(s).

    They scouted something like 60 towns before settling on Woodstock. Production Designer David Nichols, Executive Producer (also Unit Production Manager and Bank Guard Herman portrayer) C.O. "Doc" Erickson, and Location Manager Bob Hudgins drove around looking for a "Main Street Town." I don't know anything about Baraboo, Wisconsin but Hudgins called it "circus-themed" and it was there that they finally decided they wanted a "Town Square Town" instead of a Main Street Town.

    (Their "Main Street" choice at the time was Mineral Point, Wisconsin.)

    Walking around the square there, along with Harold Ramis, they saw a bit of a metaphor for being trapped in the square. And Ramis asked, "Can we find this closer to Chicago?" Hudgins had already filmed in Woodstock before, for Planes, Trains and Automobiles, so sure enough, he already knew where they could find what they wanted. In Woodstock, they went into the Opera House tower and looked down and Woodstock was their location.

    Some local business owners didn't like the idea of the town being taken over by a film crew. And, initially, it wasn't even supposed to involve much shooting there in Woodstock. They had scouted a Gobbler's Knob location in the woods (not sure where)--keep in mind, the real Gobbler's Knob is outside of Punxsutawney rather than centrally located, which is why they didn't want Punxsutawney in the first place. But, then they thought of putting Gobbler's Knob right in the square--much like Ramis' advice to Rubin when they were revising the script, to give all your good scenes to main characters, it makes sense that you would put your central location right there in the square.

    But, this meant they would be filming longer at the location. I neglected to write down (apparently) what the original schedule would have been, but it turned out to be a 60-day shoot, with six 5-day weeks on the square, and they finishing production 4 days early.

    As for those business owners, there were 23 at first, and at meetings they had pins with the number 23 on them. Meanwhile, the production had to build Gobbler's Knob--not just the two-level platform where the Inner Circle pull out Punxsutawney Phil and where press stand, but also they had to level a bit of the square to make it possible. And, every day they had to use ice to make "patchy snow" to make it look right. Along the way, the pins changed to 14 and after filming the production resodded the entire square and redid the walkways.

    Further notes:

    The mayor's office doubled as the psychiatrist's office, hence me photographing the outside of city hall.

    A handful of cast and crew played basketball at the local Junior High every Sunday.

    The first friday night in Woodstock, they had a party in the Courthouse that was interrupted by the police. The "honey wagon" full of costumes and whatnot, had crashed on a nearby highway.

    Another police story: One local businessman--a dentist who was among the 23 if I remember the story right--got pulled over by police because he had fake plates on his car. See, they were using magnetic license plates to make all the local cars look like they were from Pennsylvania and he had neglected to remove his. He came back angry.

    The night they filmed the car crash--Phil crashing into the giant groundhog with Ralph and Gus riding along--there was a fire a few blocks away, a bar just off the square (between Old Man's Alley and Wayne's Lanes).

    The Tip Top was a closed down clothing store that didn't even have running water or electricity.

    Cast and crew stayed anywhere they could around town. Bob Hudgins, for example, took an apartment on the square. Bill Murray had a house, as did Andie MacDowell. Danny Rubin stayed at the Holiday Inn, where a lot of the crew was staying.

    Woodstock Jewelers was left in place on purpose, a nod to the location. On that IMDb goofs page, on which I'm pretty sure my corrections still haven't shown up, that was called a mistake.

    The "only real snow" in the film, according to Hudgins, was in the final scene--the morning of February 3rd. Ramis, in his commentary, says the snow that fell on the last night in the film was real (in the long shot, anyway, not in the closeup), but that could easily have been the night before what Hudgins was talking about. Anyway, they had warned the locals on Madison (the street that dead ends into the Cherry Street location) that if it snowed they should not shovel their walks or driveways because the production would descend upon them. Sure enough, in that final shot, you can only see a couple people on the street. The minivan--which I've argued the symbolism of before--was Hudgins' assistant, Kimberly K. Miller, because they didn't want the scene to look completely dead.

    The bartender, aka "God," was the best paid actor on the film, as Hudgins tells it. See, the bar set was in the courthouse building and it was set aside as a cover set, for when the weather got too bad and they needed something to film. The weather never got bad enough, so they didn't get to the bar scenes until the end of production. Meanwhile, John Watson, Sr., who played the bartender, was getting paid whether they used him or not.

    Kelly Frank, who owned the house they used for the exterior of the Cherry Street Inn, thought they were joking when they first told her they wanted to use her house for a film about Groundhog Day because she happened to be from just outside Punxsutawney.

    The interiors of Cherry Street, by the way, were built in a warehouse in Cary, Illinois.

    There's plenty of other stuff I could mention--like I corrected more than just the snowball fight location, and Hudgins deferred to me to answer a question about the Tip Top. But, it's late (12:37 AM as I type this) and I could use some sleep. I'll deal with the location corrections later when I compare photos and screencaps... whenever that will be.

    Today's reason to repeat a day forever (if it happens to be the day of either walking tour): to not only memorize what Bob Hudgins has to say but to ask many questions... too many questions, so I know everything there is to know about the filming of Groundhog Day.