Showing posts from October, 2013

i hope you enjoy the festivities

Today is a day to celebrate. For today is All Hallow's Eve Eve and it is also Haunted Refrigerator Day. It's probably other things as well, but I picked those two because they seemed funnier. Today is also the 90th day of The Groundhog Day Project . And, I thought it was worth celebrating some milestone at some point... or did I celebrate one before? I can't even remember. I'm pretty sure I missed day 33 and day 40 and day 50 and day 67. (That last one was a test. I'm pretty sure 67 has no significance for anyone.) But, I don't actually want to talk about celebrations per se, so much as holidays more broadly. The hypothesis for today is that Groundhog Day could take place on no other holiday than Groundhog Day. And, I don't mean that we couldn't have a movie entitled Groundhog Day that actually takes place on Arbor Day, though that would be inappropriate, but rather that the plot of this film, if it were to be set on any holiday, had to be set on Gr

i am an immortal

Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another. - Ernest Hemingway I was asked recently, "What the fuck is with this Groundhog Day thing?" I was also asked, less crudely, if I had laid out in this blog what I would do if I was stuck in a time loop. I've mentioned some things before, and there are things that would go in my "adolescent" phase that are more personal than I care to disclose at this time. I think I'd get to my "good deeds" phase pretty early, but mostly because I'd be conscious of the similarity to Groundhog Day and I'd want to manage more lives saved in one day, not that I could get that into Guinness... except maybe I could, as long as I was committed to a) saving those same lives every day on the off chance is was the end of the time loop and b) getting a Guinness Adjudicator (or at least someone with a video camera-- (Apparently, the

maybe read... hustler or something

The now classic beginning for this blog is that I had a weird thought while watching Groundhog Day recently. This one was inspired by something my daughter said, and it has to do with bodily functions. Imagine Phil Connors is the kind of person who has his... morning constitutional (and my son finds that phrase amusing because he's never heard it before) at the same time every morning, say, 10 minutes after waking. So, every February 2nd morning, Phil is not only having to use the toilet but he's... how to put this delicately? He's having the same exact bowel movement every morning. See, this thought occurs to me and rather than think at best that's mildly interesting and move on, I wonder if, like other things in his repetitive life, this one gets better. Or rather, he gets batter at it. Like after innumerable days of pooping the same poop, he just has to get near the toilet and out it goes. And, if so, what will he do on February 3rd when he has to basically re-pott

bundle up warm of course

Speech tournament the past two days, and today I judged, among other things, impromptu again. So, just like I did two weeks ago , it's time to connect Groundhog Day to all the... well, round one of impromptu didn't use quotations today but rather "haikus." And, I put that in quotation marks because some of them are not haikus by the usual shallow standard of syllable count and none of them are haikus by the less shallow standard of being about nature. But, anyway, I've got 14 of them--two each for up to seven competitors--and so my task is now to link them all to Groundhog Day . We hunt perfection true love and our destiny but it hunts us too Starting off with an easy one, these lines epitomize Phil's journey quite well, depending on what we take perfection to mean. We could apply it to Rita, or Phil's idealized version of Rita. We could apply it to the idealized version of Phil as well. The tricky part is that last line. Arguably, Groundhog Day tells

or were you just making chitchat?

I had a weird thought watching Groundhog Day last night... Which could really be any night, I suppose. I imagine Phil on the last day of the time loop--he's got a list in his head of all the "errands" he has to run, and he's been driven so mad by all the repeated February 2nds that every item on his list is just as important as the next. So, Buster choking is just as important as that woman's inability to light her cigarette. And, those old ladies' tire--that's just as important as the broken leg of that boy in the tree. And, a Phil who is that far gone would probably be better off inside the time loop. Or, at least, the world outside the loop-- (Assuming the world beyond the loop even exists.) --might be better off with him locked safely away in Punxsutawney. And, really, if he was in the time loop as long as some people say-- Wolf Gnards says 8.7 years Simon Gallagher says 33 years, 350 days Harold Ramis counters with 30 to 40 years in the ori

did you want to talk about the weather...

My daughter accused me of being obsessive today. Not specifically because of this project, but because also today, taking a day off from grad school work and other busy life stuff, we went to Disneyland and I spent a good amount of the time looking through my copy of the 4th edition of Disneyland's Hidden Mickeys to find the titular items-- (While there are decorative Mickey Mouse heads all over Disneyland and California Adventure Park, there are also hidden ones in and around most of the rides as well as some stores and restaurants, and this book is a guide to locating them.) --though it was also because of this project. I'm not so sure that being a little obsessive is a bad thing. It certainly works for Phil Connors when he's in the time loop. He can remember things pretty readily or his adolescent phase wouldn't go so smoothly... of course it also wouldn't end so painfully (with all those slaps and then the depression and suicide). And, his good deed phase

close call, folks

I swear there's a line--I thought it was in May or Grodal but I can't find it--that says that the ending of the film provides Phil another chance to "control" Rita. I'm not sure how accurate that description is but Rita is a bit robotic on February 3rd. Have a look: Anyway, that bit of awkward movement on Rita's (or rather Andie MacDowell's) part, is one of the things that bugs me lately when I watch Groundhog Day . There's also another awkward Rita bit when Phil tells her "we had a beautiful day together once" then heads off to steal the groundhogs, Rita remains behind, standing by the van with nothing to do. Anyway, I'm sure there are other things, so I'm going to list them as the movie goes. So, the plan, arriving in Punxsutawney, is Larry drops off Rita at the Pennsylvanian Hotel, drives Phil over to the Cherry Street Inn, then goes back to the Pennsylvanian. Why not drop off Phil first, you know, "keep the talent happy

is this what love is for you?

On the other hand, Groundhog Day provides us a superb and basic example of what love looks like. While May focuses on what the future means for a relationship, he also defines love as being "between two particular people in their particularity." I think this steps right past the issue of time and suggests that love is something that exists moment to moment. May, citing a hypothetical third party, suggests that "love is the filling of the present, not a projection into the future. It is now, in a moment that needs no other moments, that I feel the vitality of romantic love." In the initial stages of a relationship especially, I would argue that this existence exclusively in the moment not only exists but is the reason we are so insane as we get into a new relationship. Of course, we may dismiss our friends and our family for our new love--there is no future in our heads at this time, except some imaginary forever that exists entirely inside our heads. In fact, it i

i've always loved you

Todd May, in " Love and Death " writes about Phil's love for Rita. May says, "One would not want to deny that Connors comes to love Rita during the period of the eternal Groundhog Day." I would. I have. Sort of. I suppose I don't deny that Phil loves Rita--I just question a) the extent of that love (By the time he loves her, I might argue that his attempt at "romantic" involvement with Rita has already come to an end. Of course, at the time he was pursuing a "romantic" relationship with Rita, I don't think Phil even knew what that entailed. For him it was all about getting Rita back to his room, into his bed. Any failure to do that was a failure as, well, who and what he believed himself to be. So then, it becomes a question of what sort of love Phil feels for Rita, because on some level, I think we could assume that Phil has learned to love everyone by the end of the film. This would include Rita. But, Hollywood convention and th

are you drunk or something?

So, we have Phil Connors, "arrogant, self-serving professional climber" in one corner, kindhearted, open Rita Hanson in the other. It's therapy, it's character growth, it's a cycle of birth and rebirth and rebirth and rebirth for Phil... what is it for Rita? Todd May, at The New York Times writes about Phil's passion, or rather his lack thereof in the middle portion of the film. Phil demonstrates passion early in the film, May argues, and has a different sort of passion at the end of the film, but after his pursuit of Rita, there's no passion. May's explanation: "Murray's character has come to terms with his situation. He alone knows what is going to happen, over and over again. He has no expectations for anything different... He radiates warmth and kindness, but also a certain distance." Again, I ask, what is there for Rita in the end of Phil's story? She can't remember their dates. Just yesterday, from her perspective, this j

i have an alcoholic now

This isn't really part two to yesterday's bit about therapy. But, it does follow in its way, and I just had to use the rest of the psychiatrist's line as a title. Having dealt with Daughton and Bacha again yesterday, I wanted to get back to gender. In particular, I'd reference the following from Daughton: Connors must embark on what is traditionally a feminine rather than a masculine quest, journeying inward in order to encounter and submit to the power of the dark goddess, rather than outward in order to master and claim some object in the external world. I don't know about the dark goddess bit--I'll get to more on that in a moment--but I appreciate that, in this instance at least, Daughton calls it "traditionally feminine " instead of simply "feminine." I've said before, dividing the quest into two based on gender seems, in the present, inappropriate. But, looking backward, it makes sense to look at stories in terms of gender-divid

most of my work is with couples, families

( Enough about religion... for now.) Let's talk instead about something light: psychoanalysis. In the International Journal of Psychoanalysis (87 (2006), 1387-98), Richard Almond tells us that "[i]n the paradigm of the therapeutic narrative, a troubled person plays out his/her typical pattern in relation to an other who is more anonymous, a foil who is depicted in idealized and/or mysterious terms." This "other" is Rita, and Phil is the one undergoing the therapeutic process in Groundhog Day . As I've mentioned before, Claire S. Bacha, in Psychodynamic Counselling (4.3 (Aug 1998), 383-406), claims Rita as "the object of Phil's desire exactly because she seems so much his opposite." Both Bacha and Almond are putting the onus for Phil's transformation, at least in part, on his attachment to Rita, whether it's idealization, attraction, or both. I think I'd side with Almond on this one. Almond tells us that Groundhog Day is of &