Saturday, August 2, 2014

so this will be the last time we do the groundhog together

A couple mishaps but we just rolled with it. That’s the short description for the Day 365 party. The waffles didn’t work out, pretty much because I hadn’t used my waffle maker in a while and forgot about getting the surface oiled just right (and I probably needed to compensate for the blueberries added to the recipe with some dry ingredients). And the projector, which I had tested out twice at home—even watched Groundhog Day projected big on the living room wall last week—decided not to work when darkness fell and it came time to watch the movie. But, we crowded into my sister’s living room instead and watched the movie on DVD—the easiest way to roll with the punches is to be prepared with a DVD copy in your bag…

(Well, that may not apply to all punches.)

Anyway, showed off my LEGO Gobbler’s Knob, ate some good food, flapjacks made by my daughter Hayley, sticky buns, white chocolate cheesecake, fudge, and chocolate pie with almonds and marshmallow topping (thus being a Rocky Road pie)—all desserts made by my sister Bobbie—but no blood sausage. Played a couple games—Love Letter and Monster Fluxx, watched Groundhog Day with family and friends and afterward had some trivia questions put together by my daughter Saer.

Also answered a few questions about the blog and my upcoming (potential) thesis tied to the blog.

And, got a few responses to my call for comments on a) the movie or b) the blog.

Maolsheachlann Tiernan O Ceallaigh, who I know online because I quoted his blog, Irish Papist sometime last year, his entry entitled “Why Groundhog Day is the Best Movie of All Time…,” wrote to me on Facebook:

Congratulations in advance, sir. It was a great concept and you followed it through. Enjoy the party!

My sister Stacey wrote:

My brother is crazy - how much time did you spend on this? What else could you have been doing? I'm sure you have pondered on this. Really though, way to go—good sticktoittiveness. I am looking forward to watching it with you to hear all of your bits of info/insight... as I'm sure you will have.

Here's to World Peace,
Stacey

I told her a few behind-the-scenes tidbits during the movie, but mostly I just enjoyed sitting and watching the movie.

My mother wrote:

My oldest, youngest and favorite son is brilliant. So who knows why he decided to watch this movie, "Groundhog Day" for a full year!!! Okay, it is a good movie, but every day for a year??? Well he did do it for a good reason. He is doing his "Masters" thesis on the experience. He is stubborn and when he decides to do something, HE DOES IT!!!

Anywhooo, I love that boy. Good Luck on the thesis Robert.
MOM

Kyle Sweeney, who I met in Woodstock back in February, and who is one of the biggest fans of Groundhog Day I know, left the following as a comment on this blog 3 days ago:

I would like to share a story about what Groundhog Day means to me. You may remember me from Woodstock as I was the one handing out Groundhog Day pins with the 6:00 clock & infinity sign [I definitely remembered him and even wore the pin to the party today]. Every year I celebrate the movie by either trekking to Woodstock or hosting parties. I also make handmade Groundhog Day cards for 70-80 of my closest friends and family with notes about what the movie means to me and why they are important to me.

This year, Stephen Tobolowsky (Needlenose Ned/ Ned the Head) was holding a Kickstarter for a new movie he was trying to raise funds to film. One of his premiere gifts was if you donated a lot of money, I think $2,500 but don't have the exact details, you could get an original script with 3 revisions, a signed note from Stephen and an additional scene that he hand wrote on loose leaf after the banquet scene (I got that!). My brother Conor saw this and sent an email to all my friends and family I invite to Woodstock every year (minus me) asking to help Kickstart funds to get the script for me. There was almost 100% participation as people we donating 10, 20, 100, 250 to help me, it was a mix of the Groundhog Day auction and It's A Wonderful Life where everyone donated money to save George Bailey. My brother was able to articulate to Stephen how big of a fan I am and even negotiate down the price, which Stephen was happy to oblige.

The gift was presented about 5 months later after my brother's rehearsal dinner. I was very confused what was happened when my brother asked a bar of over 100 people to quiet down and would like to bring my brother up, also the best man. He began to explain the story and I was moved to tears, it was the best moment of my life where everyone came together to get something for me, just because I am huge fan. I think I even said why are you giving this to me, it's not even my wedding.

The movie has always meant so much to me because I absolutely love how Phil turns his worst day of his life to his best, reminding me that every day we can really make the best no matter the circumstances, plus it's just funny. Now the movie has taken on another meaning to me, it shows me how much I am loved by my family and friends and like Phil at the end of the movie, I am very blessed.

My son Kieran, asked if he wanted to write something for this final entry, just wanted me to say,

DAY 365, BITCHES!

And, my daughter, Saer wanted to add the following:

I’m going to miss the movie, because we watched it together a lot. I was connected to it, even though it was your blog. It will be weird not watching it. I’m proud of you for sticking to it.

As for me, I will miss the movie. I will watch it again, but I will miss it in the meantime. It is going to be weird not watching it. Scenes that hadn’t meant as much as they used to were better again tonight. Scenes like Phil talking to Rita as she sleeps, or Phil trying to save the Old Jedson O’Reilly. A sign I may have invested too much in this movie: the thought occurred to me as O’Reilly died tonight was that this time was for good. If I don’t watch the movie again, he will stay dead. That’s weird, even for me.

There was a debate over what was wrong (or not) with Rita—mostly Saer arguing in favor of Rita not being that likable.

And, during the movie, I actually noticed something new. I wanted to notice something new. I told my kids that beforehand. But, during the movie, I wasn’t just poring over each scene to find something; it just happened.

There, at the top of the Tip Top Café sign, at a glance from the back of the room, watching the movie, I thought it said “The Old” or something like that. But, it seems to be “F & M” and I have no idea what that stands for. I regret that I don’t have the time to figure it out.

I also regret that I never wrote an entry about that “Unselfishness” sign in the Cherry Street Inn dining room, seen quite clearly in the scene in which Phil is upstairs killing himself in the bathtub. There is some deeper meaning there, and I neglected to ever focus on it.

My final regret is not about what I didn’t do but what IMDb didn’t do. I submitted corrections for the goofs page for Groundhog Day

(I nitpicked the goofs they had as early as Day 30: there’s a lot of things really wrong with…, including screencaps to prove them right or wrong, I added a few things to the list (in my blog, not on IMDb) in Day 97: it is so good to see you, then I finally corrected them Day 132: thank you for fixing….)

—my corrections have never shown up. The IMDb goofs page for Groundhog Day is still full of errors… which it should be, but that’s not what I mean. I mean a bunch of the supposed errors are incorrect. They should not have an edit function if those edits will never show up.

There is nothing left to say, and there is everything left to say.

But, before I go, here are a few of what I think are the best things I’ve said in this blog—and these are just things that a) occur to me right now, after 1 AM, and b) I could find the specific blog entry for to quote them correctly:

You know the saying “you win some, you lose some.” It’s pretty meaningless, I suppose, too obvious to matter. The thing it, it isn’t the winning or the losing that changes you. It’s the way you experience and respond to that winning or that losing that changes you. - Day 33: what the hell?

and

Phil Connors wasn’t trapped in Punxsutawney. He was trapped in Pittsburgh. - Day 8: i’m just trying to give you your money’s worth

and

So, then Groundhog Day serves not just metaphorically as our individual struggles with purpose and all the other nice stuff I've spent the last two months plus talking about, but also allegorically as our collective struggle with our cycle of exploitation and self-destruction. - Day 69: i don’t even have to floss

and

…it's actually a little strange how little eating, and especially nourishing eating, takes place in a film with so many scenes in a diner. Hell, one of those diner scenes is Phil reading--which, I suppose the film argues, is true nourishment. - Day 105: people like blood sausage, too. people are morons

and

We like to ask why bad things happen, why people die. But, I think that's what makes life great. That it will end, that it could end anytime--that means we should be living in every moment. We should be enjoying it. But, like Phil Connors learns, that doesn't mean we should be taking advantage of it; it doesn't mean we should be exploitative or selfish. Doing for others often is far more enjoyable than doing for oneself. And, if we operate under the assumption that eternal recurrence is real, then the key is to do only the good things, the things worth experiencing again and again if it came to that. But, because we will only experience each moment just the one time, we must also embrace the present. - Day 106: because i love you

and

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. - Day 208: the last thing that you heard

and finally

I do not imagine that writing NEW LIFE on that index card was easy or painless. But, I like the simplicity of it. I am still finding my new life, recognizing all of its parts. It (and I) is an ongoing process. My time loop still turns and resumes, and I emerge constantly out of earlier versions of my self. - Day 267: that glass is half empty

Actually, one more (I’m reminded of the behind-the-scenes bit on The Return of the King, how Peter Jackson kept asking for another take of that final scene they were filming with Elijah Wood, because once that scene was wrapped, production was wrapped.):

And, it's like all of us doomed to repeat so many things in our lives, trivial and not so trivial. Each day begins much the same, middles much the same, and ends much the same. There are variations, just like Phil finds (and creates) variations in his day, but so much is just the same shit, different day. Gotta get up by 7, get to work by 8, eat breakfast, maybe stop for coffee, work work work, keep busy, busy, busy (as a Bokononist might say), get some lunch, work some more, then head home to the wife and kids, or the dog, or the empty apartment bereft of hope, the world forgetting, by the world forgot. Dinner with the family, dinner alone, a dinner date--variations on a theme. Rinse and repeat.

If you're lucky, all this resumption and repetition gets some momentum toward a pleasant end. And, I don't mean your death. I mean your life, fulfilled, fulfilling, meaningful more than wasted, so the monotonous moments blur more easily together to make way in your memory for the happy moments, the thrilling moments, time with those you care about, time with those who care about you. Time doing what you want to do more than what you have to do (or maybe finding something that happens to make those two things one and the same). - Day 258: what everybody wants

It is time to wrap this production. I wish you all well. I thank you for stopping by and reading the things I had to say. I am proud of what I have done here.

Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to watch Groundhog Day. I haven’t done that in a while.

P.S. The Groundhog Day Project has a Twitter and a Facebook page. Follow and like them respectively and help spread the word. You may think this thing is over, but something slightly different is waiting in the wings and, at least for now, I intend to do it under the same banner, and it will occasionally (again, at least for now) come back to Groundhog Day in a way. When asked tonight when I will watch Groundhog Day again, in fact, I said specifically: in 29 days. Stick around and you’ll see why.

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