Groundhog Day: The Walking Tour

Bill Murray

Another Groundhog Day has come and gone and come and gone and come and gone, but this year I decided to do something to break the monotony. The time has come for me to make my pilgrimage to Groundhog mecca… no, not Punxsutawney, PA. It turns out the movie Groundhog Day (which I have written so much about) was filmed just an hour and half away from me in Woodstock, IL. Not only that, but Woodstock, IL, has become practically a Groundhog Day amusement park. Not an amusement park for the holiday of Groundhog Day, the way the real Punxsutawney is, but to celebrate the movie! It’s like a shrine to places Bill Murray has stood. There’s even an actual plaque that says Bill Murray stood here.

So, for the 20th anniversary of the Groundhog Day movie I decided to hop a train and make my way to festivities.


Woodstock's Groundhog Days featured a week of events that included several screenings, a dance (hopefully with bachelor auction), a symposium, and a walking tour of filming sites… BING! You get to see the Pennsylvanian Hotel, Gobbler’s Knob, the Puddle!, Tip Top Café (which doesn’t exist in any capacity, so really isn’t worth taking a picture of or seeing), the Alpine Theater, the bowling alley, and the Cherry Street Inn. All of which was mostly within 50 ft. of each other. So, if you like walking tours but hate walking then this is the tour for you. BING!

Woodstock has become what it was fictionally portrayed as being. It's now crammed with various Groundhog merchandise: shirts, mugs, buttons, stuffed animals, and cookies. And just about every restaurant has a framed photo of Murray.

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Happy Groundhog Day!

I was going to do a follow up about our classic Groundhog Day piece, but I figured I still have six weeks, so what’s the rush?

In the mean time, enjoy these other Groundhog Day stories:

Visit the film locations in Woodstock, IL! Maybe, it's time for a pilgrimage.

Groundhog Day: Where are they now? It turns out Bill Murray had a pretty good little career after the movie.

12 things you probably didn’t know about the movie “Groundhog Day” unless you’re a dork like me.

Why did Bill Murray keep going back in Groundhog Day?
Instead of rehashing my how long article, they actually asked something important... why?

Groundhog Day’s lost radio tape, not really, but it does have me acting poorly in it. And by “acting poorly” I mean just being actually awkward and stupid.

Top Gnardicles of 2011

A brand new year, same old laziness. But let’s look back at the Year in Gnards, which featured such memorable articles as… that thing with that person. And that other thing about something or other. Memorable is perhaps a stretch, more like a vast array of forgettable schlock, but, dammit, it's my forgettable schlock. This last year there were no articles that people loved such as Groundhog Day math or even articles that people hated like Doug’s Racist Funnie Bone. Bland was my goal for 2011 and when I hit the middle, I hit it hard! You could, of course, blame how few articles I wrote in 2011. You could say that there were no good articles because there were so few articles written, but the few articles I wrote weren’t very good either so that couldn’t be the problem. Want proof?

Here are the top articles that most of you didn’t read… enjoy (or not):

10. Sewer Cinema – There’s a lot of movie posters with manhole covers on them. That’s it.

9. Hooded Injustice – A post inspired by NBC’s mega hit show The Cape. It’s a good thing that it’s the #1 show on television or else this article would be a complete waste.

8. MTV’s Teen Wolf – As you can see, I don’t watch a lot of very good shows on TV. Could that be part of the problem?

7. Me Trying to Milk Groundhog Day Fame and Glory Even More – I think I’ve done all I can do.

6. The Raping of Goldie Hawn – So, this is what you degenerates like? (I do not advocate rape or Goldie Hawn)

5. The Law of Cartoon Pants – Naked cartoons… now this is what the internet is all about!

4. In Defense of Robin – Batman & Robin gay jokes. Not particularly original or clever, but internet traffic obviously doesn’t require either.

3. Cosby Sweaters! – I think most people liked the creepy pictures, but my favorite part was figuring out how much he spent on sweaters: between $60,000 and $100,000!

2. The True Paternity of Girls on Full House – Sex, intrigue, blonde girls: it has everything the web could want. Side note: it took me about 3 hours to get those charts right, and they’re still kind of off kilter.

1. Pictures of Rachael Leigh Cook – That’s all it takes: no jokes, no clever graphs, no witty one liners. Just a moderately hot girl that we kind of sort of remember from the 90’s.

Where's Wolf Gnards?

I know all you hardcore Gnarders out there are wondering where Wolf Gnards has been (if, of course, there is a such thing as "hardcore Gnarders," which I doubt). Where have I been? I've been away... facing mirror images that were not my own, leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong, and hoping each time that my next leap will be the leap home. Mostly I've been laying low, ducking fans who complain I make too many stupid Quantum Leap references. If those are even fans or if they exist at all or they're just digital spiders built for one purpose: to nitpick pop culture articles nitpicking pop culture. But if you imaginary fans do exist, rest assured that Wolf Gnards will be returning soon with regular updates. And if you imaginary fans don't exist than I'm just talking to myself, confirming to only myself that I do plan to write more articles in the upcoming year. Which is nice because I was kind of worried.

And if my mom is the only one reading this: I think I left some socks at your place. Can you send me my socks? They're white. You don't have to air mail them or anything, regular postal service will do. They look like this:

Missing Sock

And if my mom isn't reading this, and if there are actual hardcore Gnarders out there then the time has come to unite! Follow Gnards on Twitter or Facebook or both. Follow me anywhere you can. Find other gnards out there, pair up, spread the word. I mean you really can't call yourself a Gnarder unless you're covered in gnards. 2012 will be the Year of the Gnards... which I believe is in the Chinese Zodiac. And if you see my sock, please, send it to me.

And, yes, a post saying there will be posts is not a real post.

The Muppets: How Mickey Mouse Drank your Milkshake

The Muppets

Regardless of everything (this article included), the Muppets were the Muppets. A fun Muppet movie was promised and a fun Muppet movie was delivered. There was some minor hubbub by Frank Oz about the new movie not being true to the Muppets. But I felt it lived up to expectations and perhaps the real issue could be the audience. This is essentially a kids movie made for nostalgic 30-year-olds, mostly because nobody under 30 remembers the Muppets (a plot point which the movie addresses). In fact, some of the younglings I work with were shocked that they were making a live-action adult version of the Muppet Babies. The Muppets basically disregarded most of Muppet history after 1984, which means the target audience is an adult nostalgic for things he or she never saw. It’s a heavily manufactured product composed of prepackaged memories and false childhoods, but while it is a processed product, The Muppets is a good product.

Starring and written by Jason Segel, The Muppet’s has a few fun gags (80’s Robot is a scene stealer) and cute songs (I'm a very manly Muppet). It manages to somehow be slightly irreverent while displaying zero full frontal shots of Segal. However, the most interesting part of film is its plot. The movie revolves around the Muppets being largely forgotten and about to have their studio and trademarked name sold to an evil tycoon. To stop this, Kermit and the gang have to put on one last big show to raise enough money to buy their studio back. However, in the context of Muppet history, you have to remember that the Muppets were sold to the Walt Disney Company in 2004. So, everything in this movie actually happened in real life.

It’s interesting that they would pick the villain to be a maniacal Texas oilman (portrayed by Chris Cooper) drilling for oil underneath the Muppet Theater because the message of the movie is basically saying, “I drank your milkshake.”

Mickey and Kermit
Mickey drank your milkshake.

It’s saying that Disney has usurped Jim Henson’s vision for purely monetary reasons. Disney is the oil tycoon, Muppets are the theater, and Muppet blood is being drained out of them for profit.

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Where There’s Trouble There’s a Werewolf

On the Controversy Surrounding The Werewolf's Guide to Life

Werewolf Guide

One thing about Milwaukee I never could stomach… all the damn werewolves. The news is reporting two young women were arrested and accused of luring a teenage boy to their apartment for fun and ritual stabbing in Milwaukee. Ritual sacrifice is never good. Only bad things can happen be it mutilation or Cthulhu, but Goths will be Goths after all. The worst part of the story might be they did the wrong ritual (no, actually the worst part was the stabbing). According to the media sources they used a book called The Werewolf’s Guide to Life to perform these dastardly deeds, and somehow this comedy book has been vilified as the source of all evil, and if not the cause of all mayhem as we know it then at the very least a legitimate manual for demonology.

I have three problems with this…

It’s Milwaukee!
The first problem is Milwaukee. You can’t blame The Werewolf’s Guide when you’re in Milwaukee. Bad things happen in Milwaukee be you wolfman or mummy or one of them Frankensteins. I’ve been to
Milwaukee. I've eaten their cheese, I've drank their beer, and I've gotten the hell out of Dodge. There's nothing to do there but drink alcohol and perform satanic rituals, and drink alcohol at satanic rituals. On a long enough time line and with enough booze anyone would perform a blood rite. Average time: 8 hours per satanic ritual.

And being in Milwaukee means there’s no way to get access to real books on the occult or books in general. You have to make do with what you got.

That’s Not How You Become a Werewolf!
How can you blame The Werewolf’s Guide to Life when that’s not even how one would become a werewolf? You don’t become a werewolf by ritual stabbing: you become a werewolf by either being bitten by a werewolf or being the offspring of a werewolf. Or being bitten by a werewolf offspring. Or having your parent bitten by a werewolf then having your birth certificate changed to legally become a werewolf (although, you probably wouldn’t be accepted as a full fledged werewolf and the wolfman/son picnic). Or being birthed from a shewolf and being bitten by a separate werewolf as you’re born (perhaps creating some sort of werewerewolf). But stabbing? That’s not very werewolf.

How can you blame a book for a satanic ritual that doesn’t promote said ritual?

Behold the Werewerewolf

It’s Not a Real Guide
Now the biggest problem I have with the story (yes, besides the stabbing) is that they supposedly used The Werewolf’s Guide to Life as a manual for arcane ritual. This is according to the news, which used some very fuzzy if/so/then logic. Such as… if a ritual was performed so the users could become werewolves and a book was found on the premises that was about werewolves then that book must be used to perform the ritual. But even if it was used, it shouldn’t have been used. The Werewolf’s Guide to Life was not created for practical purposes. It’s a comedy book with the words “humor-parodies” printed on the spine. This is like making military strategy with GI Joe Comics. There’s a book about how to be Batman, but if you jumped off a building with nothing but a bat-shaped boomerang tied to a piece of string, it’s not the book's fault; it’s your crazy batass’s fault. This is like using Wolf Gnards as a guide for TaunTaun vivisection or Greek genealogy. Or really taking my advice on anything at all. The best advice I can give to you is not to take my advice (sorry, I think I just created a paradox).

Some helpful advice to troubled youths: when searching for a book to perform arcane magic it is best to find a legitimate book not found in the humor section.* Your spell still won’t work, but at least you’ll look slightly less stupid (slightly).

But don’t listen to me, check out the book and decide for yourself (And check out their weresponse, it's much more thoughtful and heartfelt than this one). Although, if you become a werewolf or try to commit murder, please don’t blame me.**

*Remember that I did say not to take any of my advice.
**I really mean it about not taking my advice.