Friday, February 2, 2018

Groundhog Day

I know, this has surely all been done to death. The morning newsy or newsish show we watch during breakfast actually sent one of their main anchors out to do a live stand-up, interviewing locals etc., from Wiarton, Ontario, home of the Canadian version of the groundhog (Wiarton Willy). Of course the "last word" on this for me is the Bill Murray movie, capturing aspects of the culture: local TV (people feeling that if they were successful, they would be somewhere else), the weird secular culture of phony folk traditions that somehow unite us; boomers living the sexual revolution a bit uneasily, not treating each other with much respect; a clock radio that's not quite digital, Sonny and Cher. Great writing, great performances.

And yet. This was quite funny this morning. Slightly overweight Kevin trying to climb a snow hill in order to confirm that the boys who are snow-boarding don't want an early spring. The Mayor: honestly, Wiarton Willy is the best thing that's ever happened to Wiarton. I laughed out loud. Surely no one doubts that that is true. The local diner serves a Willy burger: "don't worry, contains beef only." Another laugh--somebody might think they are being asked to eat Willy or one of his relatives. And then the little kids. It probably never comes off as well in print, but it's the kind of thing Art Linklater used to do. How does the groundhog tell us about spring? "In groundhog language." What does it sound like when he says "more winter"? The kid actually attempts a noise--he guesses at a word in the groundhog language. A kid who's maybe older or smarter: why a groundhog? "Because it's groundhog day?" with his voice rising at the end. Then one little girl is asked: who do you believe, the groundhog, or the weather person on TV? "The groundhog."

Back to the studio in Toronto. The male weatherperson, looking a bit solemn: "I don't blame the kids, I blame the parents." Now that's funny.

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