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Groundhog Day Movie and Buddhism

As usual, I expect  new material for my Groundhog Day The Movie website from my avid readers. Fire away if you have something you don't see here.

Welcome to another perennial item. I run this one (nearly) every year in conjunction with Groundhog Day. The Bill Murray movie of the same name is the 34th funniest American film of all time, according to the American Film Institute. It is also my favorite movie of all times. This is the ninth time I've run this item!

I went to a showing of Groundhog Day sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center on Friday, Aug. 10, 2001, held in the Trustees' Auditorium of the Asian Art Museum in Golden Gate Park (relocated in October 2002 to the old SF Main library in the civic center).

I have so much to say about this exciting, exhilarating, eye-opening experience that it is now a subsite titled Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me, which includes a description of that seminal showing, commentary, and links to other sites that deal with the connection. While noticing the connection between this movie and Buddhism is not particularly profound, it was news to me, and the nuances were explored in a particularly exciting fashion during the Zen Center presentation. My site is rapidly gaining ground as the authoritative center for GHD/Buddhism commentary on the web. I brush it up and add new material regularly, so if you haven't been there in a while, take a look.

If you love the work of GHD writer Danny Rubin as much as I do, check out his web site which includes a bio, a list of his works in progress (exciting) and a list of his sold films (also exciting). I have been privileged to share a radio show with him. He has been nice enough to correspond now and then with me via e-mail. He's written a great e-book, How to Write Groundhog Daywhich I  thoroughly enjoyed. Go out and buy your own copy!

Also, the University of California has published a Groundhog Day book, by Ryan Gilbey.

I finally bought the book The Magic Of Groundhog Day by Paul Hannam. Danny Rubin who wrote the foreword. You can find out more at Hannam's website (check out his blog!). Hannam wrote me that he "did a book group on my book and several readers said that they could not believe how great the movie was after learning about its profound spiritual and psychological meaning. Even at Oxford 90% of the students thought it was just a Bill Murray comedy!"

Robert Malchman found a New York Daily News Where Are They Now feature

Bob Nilsson checks in:

I stumbled upon this clip of Stephen Tobolowsky explaining Bill Murray's pain in stepping into the puddle during Groundhog Day. Looks like there are many clips at YouTube about the movie.

Kent Peterman found a Groundhog Day quiz. My nephew Paul found a collection of interesting facts.
Turns out there is a spiritual analysis of an obsession with movies. A friend writes:

Every movie you see saves you a few cycles of living through another "groundhog day", because you learn from the mistakes you see others make in the movies and see heroes to emulate.
For our generation, movies and tv were/are the shared mythologies of the day.  There is a wonderful old episode of Northern Exposure TV show that addresses that--where one of the characters tries to interview people inthe town about their ancestral and current mythologies but discovers that the shared images and metaphors they all have are from movies--just like all men knowing exactly what a certain scene or two from the Godfather movies "means" to them as men trying to function inthe world.
This current generation seems to still have movies as their mythology shared, but also you tube, etc.--I have witnessed amazing conversations among twenty something year olds that seemed to be entirely shared you tube view reactions.
The movie thing has probably helped you skip ahead a lot in your own unfolding of remembering of god--sort of like the prodigal son getting to skip some of the wastral years and then take a more direct flight back to the Father's house.
The way the Course in Miracles phrases it is that it is the function of the Teachers of God to "save time"--because each of them that witnesses to the Truth of God that they have seen/experienced helps others take little time leaps over their own learning curve.
Eastern religions that use a lot of reincarnation metaphors would call it getting to skip over many reincarnations to ultimate Nirvana

An interesting meditation on my favorite film, Grounhog Day appeared in the March 2013 issue of The Atlantic and was brought to my attention by a friend.

A Weekend in the City, with More to Come

V had Monday off, and I'm retired, so we skipped out to San Francisco this weekend. Checked into the Marriot Marquis on Market St. at Fourth (usually we stay at the Palace, but either they've raised their room rates, or they were sold out of reasonably priced rooms). We got a lovely, quiet ninth floor room facing away from noisy Market street. It was plenty big enough. We went to the ACT performance of Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink, another play of his in which the past and the present overlap (like Arcadia). The man can do no wrong, in my opinion; he is quite likely the greatest living English-language playwright. We walked over to the Embarcadero for dinner at The Plant Organic Cafe. All the food is excellent; I had the duck. Don't miss the vegan cheesecake (they use coconut milk). We walked over to the Embarcadero Cinema for a showing of A Most Violent Year, then back to our hotel. We wracked up 16,000 steps.

Monday morning we set out via the F streetcar line to Fisherman's Wharf. I love the F line; it runs classic PCC streetcars painted in the livery of various American streetcar companies of the past. There is one Milan streetcar which I've never ridden; someday I might just hang around until it comes by so I can ride it. We had a hearty breakfast at the Blue Mermaid, which is right next to the lovely Argonaut boutique hotel on the edge of Aquatic Park. Pricey, but we might stay there sometime. Usually, when we walk in the city, we walk the Embarcadero; this time we walked past Aquatic Park, up the hill, to a park on the hill above Ft. Mason. Quiet, great sea breeze, lovely views. We will do this walk again! We grabbed a cable car back to the hotel, and saw several small restaurants we may try someday. We had lunch with our daughter M, who works downtown. We ate at Annabel's, a funky eatery across from the Marriott. Great food, and a stunningly interesting looking hostess, who towered over me--and I'm 6 feet tall! Monday was also a 16,000 step day. In short, a magical two-day excursion to SF... and we didn't even get a ticket for parking overnight at BART!

MINI Reviews: Selma, A Most Violent Year

The first commercial Martin Luther King biopic is a great film, reasonably historically accurate (a little hard on LBJ), and important for its recounting of a significant historical event. As bad as things are in American race relations, they were once worse. It is a travesty that the actor playing King and the director were not nominated for Oscars. Be sure to see this if you can.

A Most Violent Year
Great acting, lovely period cars and landscapes, but not exactly a straightforward narrative. It isn't European; it's not that nothing happens. Just not anything very compelling. A bunch of interesting scenes. Good, not great. Sort of a mob-film minus.

This and That

A real Humor Labs coup! I scored #9 (#1 included for comparison)
 The Top 12 Surprises from the 2015 Oscar Nominations
9> Alejandro González Iñárritu and David Oyelowo were both snubbed in the "Most Difficult Name to Pronounce" category.
1> As a tribute to "Boyhood," the Academy Awards ceremony will feel like it's 12 years long. [Dave Wesley, Pleasant Hill, CA]

Plus, two on the runner's up list:
Once again, no Oscar for "Best Lambada by a supporting actress."

The Orcs showed up pretty fast on a picket line after the best picture snub of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies."

Are you left brained or right brained?

After I wrote about my style of writing, Kevin Sullivan noted:

Your comments on writing spurred me to recommend this recent work. Scott 'the other' Adams, recently published a quite readable, and delightfully counter-intuitive, guide, "How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big'. He comes down strongly against 'goal-setting' and 'following your passion' and strongly for (in my words) 'setting the table' to let luck happen.

Seven years ago, Craig Reynolds ran a technobrief about an online alarm clock. Someone with a robot was out crawling Content Rot and found the link; he suggests instead.

Stephen Coquet suggests


It has taken me longer than it should have to sit down and write my impressions of our Christmas trip to Hawaii. For that, I apologize. I went with my wife, both daughters and a boyfriend. We stayed in two condos located near each other at Waikoloa Beach, near Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. We disagreed on how best to get there by plane, so one group took 10 hours with a stopover in Honolulu, while another flew direct on United in five hours. It all depends on how you value your time, the risks of stopovers, and the need to arrive at the same time as your luggage (the stopover group lost a bag on the way home).

There is a lot of lava on the Big Island, and an active volcano. The volcano was three hours each way by car from our condos, a half-hour north of Kona. The volcano was spectacular and worth the trip, according to the group that went--everyone else but me. We swam in the warm ocean (most of us did, anyway). We were drenched by one day of torrential rain. We went to a Christmas Eve Luau and bought fresh leis, watched the staff unbury the roast pig, and were entertained for an hour by an elaborate show. We, toured a coffee plantation, where we learned of Kona Red, an amazing anti-oxidant made from the "cherries" in which coffee beans grow (I bought some and am using it). We walked through a lava field and looked at thousand-year-old drawings carved into the rock. W  ate a lot of good seafood. We watched a beautiful sunset at A-Beach, and discovered that you can't really see the sunset from Lava Lava Beach Club. The high temperature every day was 80, the low 70. That's warmer than Catalina's 75 every day (where we spent last Christmas) and in a different universe from the 40s and 50s in coastal Lincoln City, Ore. where my wife and I spent most Christmas vacations for the first 30 years of our marriage.

Unlike our visit to Kauai four years ago, we had air conditioning this time at our daughters' request. The condos had much less charm than the house we rented last time, but many fewer mosquitoes and way more comfort.

Hawaii is a magical  place to spend the holidays. I can see why so many people like it there.

Movie Briefs: Imitation Game, Into the Wood, Top Five, Wild

I have let too many movies pile up to give them individual attention so here is a sentence each. As often happens at this time of year, I haven't been to a clunker yet. In fact, there's a reason they call this awards season; except for Top 5, all of them are Oscar bait, as movies and for their leads.

The Imitation Game, a biopic about computing pioneer Alan Turing, included the line, “Sometimes it's the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine." It is the amazing story of the machine used to break the German Enigma code, as well as Turing's chemical castration after the war for homosexuality. Oscar nods to Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley (typical stand by your man role). I agree the scrambled chronology was a bad idea, but otherwise a great film.

I never saw the musical
Into the Woods, but the movie was amazing. You don't leave the theater humming Sondheim songs, but you are impressed while you are sitting there listening to them. Solid performances from Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, James Corden as the Baker (a chance to see the work of the new CBS Late, Late Show host) and Emily Blunt as his wife. Kudos to the amazing voice of child actor Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood and another Oscar nomination in the can for Meryl Streep as the witch. You've never seen Grimm's fairy tales like these. Leave at the end of the obvious first act if you don't want your kids to see the scary and literally dark second act, but as an adult, you should see it. The women in this film are real and self-actualized. A very good film.

Top Five is the Chris Rock vehicle that paired him with Rosario Dawson and, apparently, ended his 19-year marriage. The movie is hysterically funny and features cameos by a score of famous comedians. It is raunchy, of course, and the gay jokes are a little rough, as is some of the sex. But if you like Rock at all and can stand a raunchy comedy, this one is a keeper. Dawson tries to be real, but her role is mostly stand by your man (or in this case, your interview subject).

Wild is the Reese Witherspoon vehicle that traces the real-life story of a woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail by herself from the Mojave to the Bridge of the Gods. That is one long hike. This isn't her first serious movie, but it's her first serious movie in years, and she does a full Oscar: the only thing that attracts Oscar voters more than facial prostheses is dirt. She appears with no makeup (according to her director) and no hair styling. I've seen the film. I can believe it. Since she is along most of the time, we get voice over, supposedly the sign of a bad movie in Hollywood. Not this time. Film and actress will both be in contention for the Oscar, with a best supporting nod seemingly certain for Laura Dern. There just aren't that many good roles for women. Engaging drama.

This and That

Dan Grobstein passes along an article from The Guardian: French town tries to save first world war soldier’s room for posterity

Daniel Dern comments on my contention about my own work: But otherwise, no, what you see is pretty much the first draft, and 90% of the time I am proud of it and happy with it.

A) by now, the odds are that you've run through 2-3 drafts in your head, mostly for a mix of "what points do I want to make, what am I trying to say, and what order, and your fingers and subconsious have done lots of editing.

b) you have your "voice" for how you say things.

c) I suspect that if you were doing fiction or some other new type-of-thing, you might go slower or rewrite more, for a while.