Previous month:
December 2020
Next month:
February 2021

Groundhog Day 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 eleventh 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 wrote the foreword. You can find out more at Hannam's website. 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!"

Unfox My Box


True Fact from Unfox My Box: You are almost certainly underwriting a viper’s nest of treasonous insurrectionists, as surely as if you were donating to Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley: “Pay for cable or satellite TV? You’re subsidizing Fox News whether you watch it or not. Your cable or satellite TV provider pays a subscriber fee to carry Fox News. That cost is passed directly on to YOU. Every network charges cable and satellite providers a small fee per subscriber; the one for Fox News is extraordinarily high. A typical household pays Fox News almost $2 per month—about $20 per year— via their cable or satellite provider, regardless of whether they actually watch the channel.”

After years of succumbing to the ease of a cable package, I used the site to write to Comcast: offer me a Fox News-free package, or I will cut off my cable subscription. I advise you to do the same, ASAP, before another $2 of yours underwrites treason.

I also signed a MoveOn petition. I suggest all patriotic Americans do the same.

Age of Miracles

We live in an age of miracles.

We just found a new tenant for a rental house with a Craigslist ad (try writing that sentence in 1980, the year we got married), with all the paperwork, such as tenant screening and lease agreements, as well as a PayPal transfer for the rent and deposit (no more worries about bounced checks!), taking place completely online. There’s a statement you couldn’t have made in 1980.

So, there’s The Internet. Cellphones. Movies on Demand. Frictionless home delivery of groceries and meals. Text reminders of appointments. Constantly available small cameras which produce photos instantly, photos which can be duplicated and distributed for free around the world in an instant―as opposed to my youth, when 90% of my pictures are from Christmas Day, and I don’t have a single picture of me working in a radio station, at UPI, AP

Those of us who can remember when literally none of this existed should pause now and then in awe. Especially those of us in the class of 1974 who were told none of this was possible.

Even this column! It is really little more than the Beech Street Bugle, an almost-weekly newspaper I wrote (with Tom Kervin), mimeographed (down at the bowling alley) and distributed to the same subscribers my Dad had 20 years earlier. Well, OK, I like to think the writing has improved. But the miracle part is that it is cheaper to produce, has fewer typos, and the distribution route covers 5,000 miles instead of five blocks.

This and That

Funny Video
Movie stars dancing to…’I’m So Excited!’ –

Old Time Radio
Since we taped it 50 years ago, I guess the New Eugene Oregon Show counts as old-time radio. Certainly, in style and content it is a throwback, not to mention all the shameless theft from Firesign Theater (who in turn borrowed from The Beatles). Since most of you never look that far down on the bar at the right, and since it brought me joy to listen to it, I thought it might bring you joy and laughter. It’s OK if you laugh at me, not with me.

PDQ Bach

I once owned many CDs of PDQ Bach. They’ve vanished. If you have some PDQ Bach CDs you could loan me, I’ll pay roundtrip postage. Alas, I no longer have a turntable.

Brain Pickings

My daughter found a charming web site, Brainpickings. It has the coolest popup in the world; not an advertisement, but a randomly selected poem.

Another Color of the Year
This one from Dulux in England.


East Side/West Side Redux

I am both blessed and cursed with a number of MIT alumni as readers. Blessed because every reader is a blessing. Cursed because I apparently forgot that Nitpicking 101 (18.314159) is an Institute Requirement.

The second item in last week’s This and That was East Side/Poor Side, in which I said the east sides of MOST (please note use of word MOST) cities are poorer than the west sides for some scientific reasons.

One of my examples was New York City; two alumni disagreed. Of course, we’re all just talking Manhattan. Anyway, I was thinking Upper West Side, Lower East Side, but if you reverse that…

In my defense, the cities I have lived in all split that way: Portland, Ore., Boston, Hartford and San Francisco (Orinda, Calif. isn’t a city); all have west sides that are more prosperous. The two cities I know like the back of my hand, Seattle and Los Angeles, also split that way. Admittedly, this list contains a severe coastal bias. Also, I notice no one disputed London and Paris on that list.

One longtime friends and colleague sent his list of exceptions, mostly cities of which I know next to nothing: (Please note the state abbreviations are per the AP Stylebook, as are the cities that do not require states. You can take the boy out of the wire service, but you can’t take the wire service out of the boy)

New York, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Miami, Miami Beach, Fla., Rehoboth, Del., Fox Point, Wis., Whitefish Bay, Wis., Shorewood, Wis., Bayside, Wis., Chicago, Sheboygan, Wis.

The More Loving One

The website Brainpickings pointed me at The More Loving One by W. H. Auden (1907-1973). The line that struck me was, “If equal affection cannot be, / Let the more loving one be me.” It has been true my whole life, and I think my wife of 41 years, as well as most of my former lovers (most of whom read this column) would agree.

Here it is in context:

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me