March 16, 2011


It's a well known fact that bearded men make the best cover songs. This Ray Lamontagne cover of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy is no exception.

March 4, 2011


How much or how little you like Five Guys Burger and Fries will all depend on how diverse your burger experience currently is. If you are the type that frequently visits a variety of burger joints then you'll leave your first visit to Five Guys not all that impressed. The opposite is also true, if your regular burger routine is limited to Mcdonalds, Wendy's, and little else, then Five Guys may be your new best friend. In all of my many nerdy conversations about burger joints located in the state none is more polarizing than Five Guys. Five Guys Burger and Fries are the Dallas Cowboys of the burger world, either you love them or you hate them... I may be one of the few that is somewhere in the middle.

Like In-N-Out burger, Five Guys has a simplified menu making it extremely easy to order, which also means you send less time standing behind indecisive Dbags asking specifics on every item on the menu because they cant do the simple burger math in their head. Hmmmm lets see, it's called a Bacon Double Cheeseburger, my guess is that it probably consists of some bacon, two burger patties and cheese. For any further help please see the corresponding large detailed photo and description of the burger right next to it. Anyway, they also offer hotdogs and grilled cheese.
As soon as you enter Five Guys you're not sure if you have just entered a fast food restaurant or the Barnum & Bailey circus. Upon entering you will notice huge tubs of peanuts and peanut shells strewn across every inch of the store, basically it looks like an enormous peanut bomb went off moments before your arrival. So again it is one of those things, if you are a peanut lover that loves free peanuts you will be in hog heaven. If you are like me and don't really care for peanuts or have a peanut allergy it's a huge turn off. It has been months since my last visit and I'm still picking small pieces of peanut shrapnel out of my body.

One of the best things about Five Guys is the wide variety of free toppings and sauces they offer. The burger and fries themselves aren't too bad either, the burgers are big and juicy and the portion sizes are huge. Then again you also end up spending a little more than you do at most fast food restaurants as well. Though contrary to common belief it's safe to say I didn't love the burger, but I didn't hate it either. Overall I would say Five Guys is good, not great.
I would also say If nothing else Five Guys is a good change of pace and break from the typical burger experience and it is more than worth checking out to see if you are a Dallas Cowboys fan or not.


March 3, 2011


For years we've sat around office water coolers, campfires, and any other social situation talking about subjects ranging from family, the news, politics, the weather, pop culture, and sports. Let's face it though, whenever the conversation has run dry the topic always turns to one question: What would happen if Gonzo from The Muppet Show and Adrian Balboa were to have a baby? Well the featured artist in this weeks video finally answers that very question.




Besides being a talented actor featured in Rushmore and many other Wes Anderson films, Jason Schwartzman also happens to be the former drummer/pianist of the band Phantom Planet. It is also true he is the son of actress Talia Shire aka Adrian Balboa. Last, but not least, along with being the proud owner of one of the largest noses getting work in Hollywood today, he may very well be as hairy as Robin Williams.
This video comes from his solo-project Coconut Records. Enjoy!


Speaking of Jason Schwartzman and Wes Anderson films, has there ever been a better collage of ugly noses in the history of film than 2007's The Darjeeling Limited? With Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody, that movie is one Jimmy Durante appearance away from kick starting the apocalypse. Can you imagine if Barbra Streisand and Penelope Cruz had been offered supporting roles?! I think I would be writing this blog wearing fingerless gloves, sandwiched in between a corpse and a sleeping bag, eating a can of government issued peaches underneath a collapsed interstate underpass fending off zombies.

February 25, 2011


These guys look so familiar, but where have I seen them before?

Ah, now I remember.

Good work Elders.

February 21, 2011


Watching this weeks video leaves me asking more questions than I ever did watching Mulholland Drive. Questions like: Does it make me a bad person if I might be willing to sell my soul for the chance to borrow Doc Brown's DeLoreon for a day so that I could go back in time and perform this entire routine (hat included) for my wife on our honeymoon night? Would we still be married if that happened? If we dug up Michael Jackson's decomposing corpse what are the chances it dances better than Thom Yorke in this video? If I told you this video was courtesy of arguably the greatest and most influential band of the last two decades, would you believe me? Is this collection of convulsions considered contemporary dance? Would this production earn Thom a standing ovation and a one way ticket on the Hot Tamale Train if it was performed on So You Think You Can Dance?

It's nice to know that Thom Yorke is human... and clearly caucasion if there was ever a question. My wife asked my if this was a joke, but I quickly explained to her that her that in their quest to pushing the envelope and making unrivaled music Radiohead have little time for humor or social graces.

Now I realize this is very poor timing given what we've just witnessed, but it must be said that Thom Yorke's 2006 side project/solo album The Eraser may very well be the best solo album that I own in my expansive music collection (100 GB). If you are wanting an album that you will LOVE start to finish I strongly urge you to buy this album, you won't be sorry.

Ps. Here is one of the many millions of mashups sure to come

February 18, 2011


In the 1970's a young man left the comfortable confines of his family and home here in the United States and flew to Italy to spend the next two years of his life spreading "the good news". There he met a beautiful, olive skinned, Italian girl. Years later the two fell in love, moved to the United States and started a beautiful family of their own. "What the does this have to do with Nutella?!" You ask, easy there trigger, trust me I'm getting to that. He attends Princeton gets his PhD and becomes a professor, while she takes care of the house and kids, rides a stationary bike for millions of miles and learns the English language by watching soap operas. They have two stunning children and during the mid to late 80's move into a brown brick house located in Orem, Utah. A brown brick house that just so happens to be three houses down from a classy yellow aluminum siding and brown shuttered house that I had just moved into two years previous. Over the next few years they would welcome two more near perfect children into their family, and their oldest child would become my best friend.

Growing up I spent a large amount of time over at their place, and It was wasn't out of the ordinary to see a jar of Nutella in nearly every room of their house. My best friend usually had a jar of Nutella the size of my head on his night stand, and without exception always had a handy spoon waiting right along side of it. Since everything on the jar was written in Italian I had no clue what this foreign substance was. After close to two years of daily curiosity and constant invites I finally submitted and gave in to temptation. I picked up my best friend's spoon, removed the lid and indulged. I had never tasted anything like it, It was to good to be true. I was hooked. From that moment on every time they went on a family trip to Italy they would bring me home a fresh jar of Nutella straight from the motherland. In the early 90's when my parents got divorced they were quick to show me the kindness, care, and concern that not many others did. While professionals all over were prescribing Zoloft and Prozac I was being prescribed a healthy dose of neighborly love and Nutella.

To put it into proper perspective back then you couldn't buy Nutella at your local Utah grocery store like you can now, the only people eating Nutella were all connected to Italy in one way or another. So basically It was like living three houses down from Al Capone during the Prohibition.

I can't begin to describe how amazing Nutella is so I'm not going to do it the disservice of trying. I will just say this, if Gandhi & Mother Theresa had a baby I'm almost positive their offspring would be a nine pound six ounce jar of Nutella. Also It is a little known, but well documented truth that the fall of Hitler and the Nazi Party can partially be contributed to Nutella.

Though my favorite way of eating Nutella is still from a spoon while nursing a cold glass of milk, It's a indisputable fact Nutella makes everything taste better. I've eaten with a spoon straight from the jar, on bread, on croissants, on bread sticks, on muffins, on bagels, on toast, on rice krispie treats, on ice cream, on cereal, on roasted marshmallows, on chocolate chip cookies, on cakes and brownies, on cupcakes, on crackers, on pancakes, french toast, waffles and crepes, on pretzels, on bananas, on french bread, on a sandwich with peanut butter, on bacon, on sausage, on eggs, in hot chocolate, in oatmeal, in grits, in cream of wheat, in milk, on strawberries, on pears, basically on all fruit. Anyway, like I was sayin', Nutella is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There's uh, Nutella-kabobs, Nutella creole, Nutella gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple Nutella, lemon Nutella, coconut Nutella, pepper Nutella, Nutella soup, Nutella stew, Nutella salad, Nutella and potatoes, Nutella burger, Nutella sandwich... I've licked Nutella off an old homeless man's beard, fingers, and boot, off an old bus stop bench, off of public library books, off of Serbian cigarette butts, and even off of used hypodermic needles I found; just to name a few. Nutella can be spread, injected, slathered, doused, topped, drizzled, smothered, soaked, dipped, dunked, and now sprayed. The Possibilities are endless. In fact, a census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Nutella.

If you have any Italian connections of any kind make sure you get your hands on a jar of Nutella imported from Italy. My best friend has spoiled me for years and still to this day keeps tradition and brings me back a gigantic jar of Nutella when ever he returns home from a trip back to Italy. Though Nutella sold in grocery stores here in the United States is nothing to complain about, the Nutella made in Italy is ultimately better. This is not debatable. It's like the people that will try to tell you the sea food is just as good in Utah and Nebraska as it is in California. Really!? Is a two dollar bottle of Charles Shaw or Boone's Farm wine pratically the same as an aged bottle of Chianti from Tuscany? How about the select few that refuse to try Nutella or don't like Nutella? To those without a tree nut allergy that refuse to try Nutella or claim to not like Nutella, do me a favor and have your closest sibling punch you in the face. If you don't have a sibling it's because you are a horrible human being and your parents couldn't fathom the possibility of having another version of you running around ruining their lives... moving right along.
Even now that the FDA require nutrition facts on everything (thanks a lot Bin Laden) there is still plenty of debate as to the differences between the American version that comes in a plastic jar and the original recipe aka the Italian or European version that usually comes in a glass jar. Rather than wasting time reading hours worth of pointless, endless blogs and online debates ranging from partially-hydrogenated peanut oil to trans-fatty acids. I've kindly done all the dirty work for you. Here is a list of all the ingredients for the original recipe so you can see for yourself why it is so much better. Enjoy!
sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (from milk), soy lecithin: an emulsifier, vanillin: an artificial flavor, unicorn blood, feathers from a Pegasus, tears of a leprechaun, refined hair particles of a mermaid, reduced centaur sediment, and the ashes of a phoenix.

Poor Ben Franklin lived during the wrong time. If Benjamin Franklin were alive today and was lucky enough to live three doors down from one of the great Italian American families of our time, his quote would probably be something closer to this: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and Nutella." Some families have been eating Nutella for 70 years, thanks to one wonderful family I've been eating it for over 20 years now.

February 9, 2011


If you are anything like me you went through the Utah public schooling system having gone through the In-N-Out experience more times than you care to remember. It usually went something along the lines of this: Within minutes of returning to your locker from winter break two things happened 1. You quickly came to the realization that you had no freaking clue what your locker combination was. And 2. You were excitedly approached by one of the countless kids that had just returned to school from winter break proudly wearing one of those In-N-Out Burger t-shirts that featured a drawing of old classic cars parked under some palm trees at an In-N-Out, bragging nonstop about their family trip to California and Disneyland. You knew the bragging was never officially complete until they rattled off on these lines “Oh, yeah we also went to In-N-Out Burger 3 or 4 times! It’s sooooo amazing! You can’t go to California without eating at In-N-Out. My dad even brought some on the plane in his carry-on so we could have In-N-Out in Utah!”

It was nice because I could always share in the joy and excitement with them since my family vacations were pretty much the exact same. Only instead of wearing an In-N-Out t-shirt, I had on my brother Josh’s two sizes too big hand-me-down long sleeve shirt that may or may not have been made out of an american flag with a collar and two buttons sewn on for good measure; and rather than going through all the trouble of flying to sunny California, all seven of us instead hit the road to such exotic locations as Coalville & St. George, Utah. We happily crammed into the bench seats of “The Blue Hornet” aka a rust covered 1987 Plymouth Voyager minivan with absolutely no rear shocks seen here. I could usually be found comfortably wedged between my younger (but, not smaller) brother Chris sitting spread eagle in shorts & my brother Josh who to put it extremely gently was well known to be very generous in the passing of his air. Oh yeah, and instead of In-N-Out we ate Easy Cheese from a can and lunch meat from a travel cooler. So yeah, other than those small differences, we pretty much had identical family trips.

So as you can see, from all the dorks at school to the theatre scene in The Big Lebowski, for as far back as I can remember, I’ve been hearing nonstop In-N-Out hype. Thanks again to Chadder’s we didn’t have to travel far for our review. At eight o'clock on a random Tuesday night we went to one of eight locations that have opened up all over Utah the last year and a half, and waited in line behind close to twenty seemingly trendy people, on what I can only assume had to be their regular nightly routine. The drive-thru was backed up around the corner, only further adding to the In-N-Out hype machine.
When we finally got the chance to order I was pleasantly surprised with how simple, straightforward and basic their menu was, and with that said, In-N-Out may very well win the title for best menu and menu design of all 50+ menus we've reviewed. Though I can also see how the menu could just as easily be underwhelming and frustrating for those looking for more options and variety. I guess I am apart of the class that would much rather have a fast food chain offer a select few specialized items that they make really well rather than have a menu loaded with mediocre options. Keep in mind besides the the trendiness factor there are also quite a few quirky, border line idiotic things to recognize. For instance besides their regular menu In-N-Out offers a "Secret Menu" in which customers that are in the know can ask for their order to be "Animal Style" or "Protein Style". Also customers that wish to further cement the fact that they have more appetite than friends can covertly ask for additional items only offered on the "Secret Menu" like the "3x3" or "4x4". So if you just asked yourself "So isn't In-N-Out's "Secret Menu" basically just a pathetically sad, antisocial speakeasy for the self-important?" The answer is yes.

So did In-N-Out live up to the unbelievable hype? No, but that doesn't mean that it was terrible either. The burgers are exceptional, and rank among the highest we reviewed. The toppings, cheese, and toasted bun are as impressive as any we've reviewed. The toppings are uniquely placed near the bottom of the hamburger just above the bottom bun as apposed to the common, traditional method of placing the toppings on top of the burger just below the top bun. Despite the comatose feeling after effects I refer to as aftermath (made famous by Mcdonalds), and the lackluster fries. In-N-Out deserves a ton of credit for maintaining an old fashioned look and feel from the products themselves, to the dinning area and employee uniforms. As with anything that over hyped it would be nearly impossible for In-N-Out to live up to and deliver on all the enormous expectations it had built up.
I was recently talking to my dad about some of his experiences traveling all over the United States playing fast pitch softball and the different places he'd eaten at. I told him I was reviewing In-N-Out Burger and before I could say anything else he said "In-N-Out is really big in California, I'd heard a lot about in playing tournaments out there. Julie (my stepmom) and I went there and didn't really think all that much of it, it didn't really live up to all the build up I'd heard so much about." He went on to say, "I could see if you grew up like I did and went straight from eating boiled liver and food without spices straight to eating at In-N-Out than yeah, I could see why everyone spoke so highly of it. I was disappointed, I didn't get the miraculous, spiritual experience I was promised."
It all stems from Utahns love and obsession for anything, and all things California. Which if you asked me all can be traced back to July 24, 1847 were Brigham Young sick and tired of being sick and tired while riding cross country in a filthy, diseased filled, covered wagon; exits his covered wagon In a sick, delirious state and prematurely declares "It is enough. This is the right place." Not realizing he is actually in The Salt Lake Valley not Malibu, California. I digress...
It's important to remember and make perfectly clear even though In-N-Out Burger unfortunately falls victim to its greatest asset (the hype machine and word of mouth), it still remains one of the best fast food chains we have access to here in Utah and it's well worth your time, money, and effort to skip your usual unconscionable stop at Mcdonalds and get in line with everyone else at your local In-N-Out.


February 3, 2011


So how long was Phil Conners actually in Punxsutawney?

"A gust of wind. A dog barks. Cue the truck. Exit Herman, walk out into the bank. Exit Felix, and stand there with a not-so-bright look on your face. All right, Doris, come on. Hey, fix your bra, honey.. That's better... 10, 9, 8, car, 6, 5, quarters, 3, 2.."

1. How much time, planning, and preparation would it take Phil to memorize every meticulous detail to be able to pull off such an impeccable bank robbery?
Think realistically about how much planning and effort went into pulling off this scheme. First off, it would have taken him at least a few weeks just scouting out the location and observing before he even made a rough draft strategy. Did he try any of the classic bank robbery scenarios like the ol' ski mask, gun, and a duffel bag routine before getting creative and settling on his timing based method? Once he had a set strategy how much longer would he have had to sit, observe, and memorize all the details? How many failed attempts did he have in the process? The biggest unanswered question in this scenario is how many times was this a part of his daily schedule once he had perfected it?
By the early 90's credit cards were everywhere and used by everyone, surely a successful broadcaster like Phil Connors owned at least one credit card. Think about it, a credit card would be the perfect item to have in this situation, you could spend at will without any consequence. Was Phil doing this for the money or for sport? Whatever his reasons we can at least all agree that it took up a fair amount of his time.
Elapsed time estimate: 6 months

“It’s like I said: I love this film, I’ve seen it over 100 times.”

2. Phil claims to have seen the same film over 100 times, how long did this take?
This one is fairly easy, we can break it down in a number of different ways. He says he has seen it over 100 times, but how many times over 100 has he seen it? We could say he is being modest and he has seen it 199 times or maybe he's only seen it 101 times. So for the sake of argument lets just say he's seen it 101 times. Now the average movie length is 90 min. - 120 min. So we'll say that the movie run time is right in the middle of those two times and is 105 minutes long. That would mean the film is 1.75 hours long. So basic math tells us 1.75 hours x 101 viewings = 176.75 hours. So if he were to watch it 101 times consecutively without any breaks it would end up taking him 7.36 days (176.75 hours / 24 hours in a day = 7.36 days). Within the framework of Groundhog Day we already know that Phil can't just go on a cocaine and Jolt Cola fueled bender and bang out all 101 viewings in eight days. I'm sure like any other movie theater, the theater in Punxsutawney only has a limited amount set show times each day. Most likely he saw the film once a day for 100+ different days.

So what movie was he watching anyway? In the scene we only get to see one playbill for the movie Heidi II, does this movie even exist? Based on his costume and impersonation of Clint Eastwood's character from the "Man with No Name Trilogy" I'm betting my left ball that the playbill on the left side of the marquee that we don't get to see is for the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Honestly dressed like that, what do you think he is going to see over 100 times, a sequel to a Shirley Temple movie from the 30's, or the greatest western of all time?
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly run time is 161 minutes (2 hours and 41 minutes)! With the amount of prep time it takes to get the girl, car, and costumes he is definitely only seeing this film once a day.
Elapsed time estimate: 3.5 months

"Hey did you see the Groundhog this morning? What's your name? What high school did you go to? Who was your 12th grade English teacher?... Nancy. Lincoln. Walsh. Okay, thanks very much."

3. How much time and effort did Phil put into manipulating Rita & Nancy Taylor?
More than half of the on screen days in Groundhog Day take place between a barrage of Sweet Vermouth's and slaps. Phil spends over two weeks worth of on camera days taking advantage of Nancy and manipulating Rita. If we learn anything about Phil during this portion of the film it is:
A. Phil Connors is a gigantic, self-serving, douchebag.
B. He has an amazing amount of endurance, and perseverance.
I don't think the film misses much when it comes to this plot point, so I'm going to call it as I see it.
Elapsed time estimate: 1 month

"Lakes and Rivers for $1000. Milky colored from... (interrupts) "What is the Rhone".. glacial clay when entering Lake Geneva,
this river is clear upon exiting (Takes a swig of Jack Daniel's)."

4. How long did it take Phil to memorize and perform an entire error-free episode of Jeopardy?
There are a few factors to consider in determining the length of time it would have taken Phil to pull off this task. It's important to remember that this event is taking place during one of the darkest points of his stay in Punxsutawney. Also, this had to be an accomplishment born from the beautiful combination of depression, boredom, and alcohol. Case in point: Phil is accomplishing this wearing pajamas, holding a large bowl of chips or popcorn on his lap, and drinking hard liquor. Keep in mind besides being drunk, he would have only had the chance to view Jeopardy once a day. Phil's a smart guy, this probably took 2 weeks.
Elapsed time estimate: .5 months

"Then put your little hand in mine, there ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb. Babe, I got you babe."

5. The alarm clock Smashing montage accounts for only a small passage of time, but how much?
Anybody with a spoonful of brains and an eyeball clearly knows from just looking at it that the alarm clock in Phil's room is a Panasonic RC-6025. There isn't a snooze button to be found anywhere on that model! This leads me to believe that not only was the alarm clock was destroyed way more than just the three times we see in the film. This is a man in a very dark place, I would set the over/under at around 9.5 on how many times the alarm clock was thrown through his window and onto Cherry Street. It's hard to imagine ever being more depressed than Phil Connors during this period of time, he has come to the lowest point and killed himself only to wake up again the next morning. How many days did he just refuse to get out of bed?
Elapsed time estimate: 1.5 months

"I am a God, I'm not the God.. I don't think."

6. How many days did Phil devote just to killing himself?
We know for a fact Phil killed himself in the following ways:
A. Drove a truck off the cliff.
B. Electrocuted himself with a toaster in the tub.
C. Was run over by a truck.
D. Jumped to his death from a large building.
Some may overlap, but he also claims to have been blown up, stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned.
Phil later tells Rita "I've killed myself so many times I don't even exist anymore." Based on the information we have and as creative as Phil is, odds are he committed suicide plenty more times.
Elapsed time estimate: 1.5 months

"This is Bill. He's been a waiter for three years since he left Penn State and had to get work. He likes the town, he paints toy soldiers, and he's gay."

7. How long did it take Phil to learn everything, and everyone in Punxsutawney?
Originally I thought this could be done in a month, maybe two, but the more time I think about it the longer I think it must have taken. I think this was more of a process than it was a series of specific events. From the time he left his room everywhere he went and everything he did he encountered the people of Punxsutawney. Whether he was interested or not he was engaging with them, at the cafe, Gobbler's Knob, the bed & breakfast on Cherry Street etc. Probably through boredom he eventually made it an effort to learn more, I think this accounts for quite along period of time. Then as he went through his personal paradigm shift he really started to learn more. He was interested and more importantly he cared. Like I said, I think this was a long changing process, and by the end he must have personally knew everything and everyone in Punxsutawney. If a bearded, heavy set man sneezed in an obscure corner of town at 3:17PM not only did Phil Connors know all about it, he also knew all about that person.
Elapsed time estimate: 2.5 years

"So this is what you do with eternity?" "Now you know."

8. How long did it take Phil to become an expert at throwing cards into a hat?
Phil says "Six months, four to five hours a day." So there you have it.
Elapsed time estimate: 6 months

"Winter, slumbering in the open air, wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring! Ciao."

9. How long did Phil spend reading, studying, and memorizing poetry?
This one is any one's guess. He could have had a fully eventful day of doing other things and come home at night and still read and memorize poetry for three or four hours before going to bed. I'm sure he did just that, or at least something very close. Speaking from experience, two years of studying three to four hours a day is all you would need to become fairly well versed in your field of choice.
Elapsed estimate of time: 2 years

"Believe it or not, I studied 19th-century French poetry." "[laughs] What a waste of time! I mean, for someone else that would be an incredible waste of time. It's so bold of you to choose that. It's incredible; you must have been a very, very strong person."

10. How long did it Phil spend reading, studying, and learning French?
This one is a little more difficult to determine than just studying poetry. I'm sure pretty early on he found someone in town who taught French, he would also have had the entire Punxsutawney library at his disposal. We know he was already studying it before he had a change of heart. But having a desire to learn to get into someones pants and studying out of a desire that develops out of personal interest are two completely different things, trust me I know (just kidding.?) He is at a natural disadvantage because he is in trapped in Punxsutawney instead of Paris or some ridiculous place like Quebec where he could be fully immersed in the abomination that we call the French language.
My sister in law Misti is not only married to a man the French call les incompetents (my brother), but she also just so happens to be fluent in French. I ran the Phil Connors situation past her and she agrees that without proper training and the ability to be fully immersed it would be extremely difficult. For instance, his accent would be extraordinarily terrible if he didn't have access to other people speaking the language. Who knows maybe he found an French teacher, and or others in town that spoke it?
It's difficult to try to get a set answer without having access to answers from questions like: Did he previously speak any Latin based languages like Spanish or Italian? One of my best friends Drew is fluent in English & Italian and spent some time learning French. So when I asked him if Phil had known Spanish or Italian prior to getting trapped in Punxsutawney would it have given him an advantage? His response was "Huge advantage. Since French and Italian are both Romance languages a lot of words were very similar and almost all of the rules of grammar conjugation were identical". How much time and effort did he really put into it? One thing we do know is Phil had the gift of time on his side. So it really all comes down to the one major question of just how much does Phil really know?
Elapsed time estimate: 3.5 years

"Not bad Mr. Connors, you say this is your first lesson?" "Yes, but my father was a piano mover, so."

11. How long did it take Mr. Connors to become proficient at playing the piano?
I recently finished reading the brilliant book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. A considerable amount of the book calls attention to Dr. K. Anders Ericsson's "10,000-Hour Rule", which basically reiterates and confirms the old adage "practice makes perfect". Gladwell writes "The idea that excellence at performing a complex task that requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours."
Neurologist Daniel Levitin writes "In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number (10,000 hours) comes up again and again... no one has yet found a case in which this is true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery".
There you have it, Phil would have had to practice a minimum of 10,000 hours to be on accomplished pianist. So the question we have to ask is this:
Is he Tom or is he Eli?
I have an old roommate from college named Eli. At some point over the years Eli had learned how to play five or six select guitar scales really well. He could go into a crowded party full of college kids pick up a guitar and play one or two scales and completely own the entire room. For all they knew they had just witnessed greatness from a Thom Yorke/Clay Aiken looking prodigy on the level of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. It was a beautiful spectacle to behold; The only catch is he couldn't play anything else. He couldn't show you a chord formation to save his life. He couldn't perform an entire song, let alone take requests. Anyone looking to have an intelligible discussion with him on the subject of basic music theory would be sorely disappointed.
I also have a friend named Tom. Tom is without exception the single greatest guitarist I know. I could listen to Tom play the guitar everyday for two years and never get bored or hear the same song twice. He has every tangible characteristic of a great guitarist. He has extensive tonal memory, he plays all styles and genres of music, and sight reads. His most impressive quality may be his supernatural ability to play by ear. Much like the legend of Robert Johnson, over the years the story of Tom "The Ear" Jensen has taken on a legendary, almost mythical type status.
At the age of 19 Tom was considered to be a below average guitarist at best. Rumor has it, he was then miraculously called upon by God to leave all his earthly positions, get a pumpkin pie haircut, and move to Georgia. Two years later he inexplicably returns home a glorified guitar virtuoso. Now unlike most myths this one is far more fact than fiction. So how was it done? It all goes back to the "10,000-Hour Rule". My friendship to Tom has granted me a certain amount of inside access and privy as to how this nearly impossible feat was accomplished... It also doesn't hurt to have the hearsay from a secret source that for the sake of confidentiality and anonymity I will call Dott Scavenport.
In Malcolm Gladwell's book he indicates that to attain ten thousand hours of practice is typically a ten year process. I'll reveal how Tom accomplished it in two!
For two consecutive years Tom's daily routine was something along the lines of this:
6:30AM - 7:30AM prayer, study, and hygiene
7:30AM - 2:30PM guitar practice
2:30PM - 3:30PM lunch/beach break
3:30PM - 4:30PM proselyting
4:30PM - 11:30PM guitar practice
11:30PM - 6:30AM sleep

365 days x 2 = 730 days
24 hours - 10 hours = 14 hours of practice
730 days x 14 hours of practice a day = 10,220 hours

So how about Phil, Is he Tom or Eli? Again, the gift of time of time has to be accounted for in this scenario. All signs point to the fact that theoretically Phil could have stayed up for 23 straight hours practicing the piano the majority of that time and go to bed at 5:30AM and wake up fresh as a daisy an hour later at 6:30AM. Now that really isn't that much help to him unless he had round the clock access to a piano or keyboard. So could he have bought a keyboard or paid someone for that kind of access to a piano? Most likely.
So like Tom did he crack ten thousand hours of piano practice in ten years or less?
Or a la Eli did he just get really good at Rachmaninoff's 18th variation from Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini practicing 2 or 3 hours a day for a month? I personally think Phil is probably somewhere in between.
Elapsed time estimate: 5 years

12. "I'm just trying to give you your money's worth, you paid top dollar for me." "We'll I think you were a bargain." "Sweet of you to say. You're probably right.

How long did it take Phil to become an expert ice sculptor?
The same principles apply as the piano discussion. Tom, Eli, or somewhere in between?
Elapsed time estimate: 5 years

"It gets hard down there at the bottom."

13. How long did Phil spend trying to save the homeless man's life? And more importantly, why would you even want to save a homeless man's life?
(Homeless humor anyone?)
As persistent as Phil is this couldn't have taken more than a week or two. Though it's a pretty minimal plot point, these scenes serve as a really nice fulcrum showing us as to where Phil is in his change of heart.
Elapsed estimated time: .5 months

"What do you say? What do you say? What do you say?! You little brat. You have never thanked me! See you tomorrow... Maybe."

14. How long did it take to learn, map out, plan, a daily routine of all Phil's "errands"?
Things like saving the kid falling out of a tree, helping the old ladies with their flat tire, performing the Heimlich Maneuver on his older brother Brian Doyle-Murray.. Err, I mean Buster Green. Also all the little touches like lighting the woman's cigarette, saving the Kleiser's marriage, and Felix's back. I'm sure most of this was accomplished bits at a time along the way and fits hand in hand with point #7, So I'm going to limited it to a relatively small number and say two weeks.
Elapsed time estimate: .5 months

"When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."

15. How much time, thought, attention, and planning did it take Phil to become a local celebrity/hero all in one day?
It must have been much more difficult than he makes it look to accomplish everything he does in his last day reliving Groundhog Day. I'm sure Phil put massive amounts of time, thought, energy, and research into meticulously planning how he was going to accomplish everything he could in one day. I'm sure it slowly came together over time as well.
Elapsed time estimate: 1.5 months

"Excuse me. Dr. Connors, I want to thank you fixing Felix's back. He can even help around the house again." "We'll I'm sorry to hear that Felix."

16. Dr. Connors?! Are we to believe Phil studied to become a Chiropractor? If so How long did it take?
At first glance I thought, eh it's just a throw away bit used for humor in the film... Phil probably just gave Felix the ol' Russian belly to back bear hug. But what if it was more than that? What if Phil really had a thirst for knowledge on modern medical science? During the scene where he takes the homeless man to the hospital he does ask to see his chart. Why would he bother asking for his chart if he didn't already know how to read it? We've already established He would have had access to Punxsutawney's public library. He could have also just as easily have paid the local Punxsutawney Chiropractor and or Physician (Harold Ramis) to let him shadow and observe him for a few hours every day. If he weren't stuck in Punxsutawney and was really interested in becoming a Chiropractor it would take him years. Since I'm sure he just wanted to learn the basics on how to help the average person's back, he could have done that in a much shorter time.
Elapsed time estimate: 2.5 years

"Now you can go back to Punxsutawney or you can freeze to death? It's your choice.. So what's it gonna be?" "I'm thinkin'."

17. How long did Phil try to get around the blizzard and get back to Pittsburgh?
From his time spent trying to manipulate Rita and killing himself we know that Phil perseveres and doesn't give up easy. I guarantee Phil wasn't satisfied after his first failed attempt back to Pittsburgh. How many alternate routes did he take before finally accepting he was stuck in Punxsutawney? How many times did he steal the van, leave early and skip the broadcast? How many times did he hail a cab or steal someone else's car, leave early, and beat the blizzard back to Pittsburgh? How many times did he make it back, go home, sleep in his own bed, and then wake up in Punxsutawney?
Elapsed time estimate: 1.5 months

"Hey, hey! Now, don't you tell me you don't remember me because I sure as heckfire remember you... Ned.. Ryerson. "Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"? C'mon, buddy. Case Western High. Ned Ryerson: I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing! Ned Ryerson: got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn't graduate? Bing, again. Ned Ryerson: I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times until you told me not to anymore? Well?" "Ned Ryerson?" "Bing!"

18. How much time did it take to find Ned, listen to his pitch, and fill out all the paperwork on his final day reliving Groundhog Day?
Phil gives Ned the best day of his life by purchasing whole life, term, uniflex, fire, theft, auto, dental, health, with the optional death and dismemberment plan, and water damage. I get an unholy amount of paper work every year for my personal auto policy, imagine how much paperwork Ned has to go through with Phil. This could have easily taken up the majority of the day. Did Phil just pay Ned the premium and insist on doing the paperwork another day and give him another overly friendly hug? Knowing Ned more than most everyone else in Punxsutawney probably allowed him to navigate through this process without taking much time.
Ps. Can you think of a more underrated character then Ned Ryerson over the last 20 years? Apparently I am 1 of only 156 people to see this documentary, but I highly recommend it. While we are off topic how great was Chris Elliott as Larry? Perfect sidekick and set-up man.
Elapsed time estimate: 1 hour

"I think we should meet again, how's tomorrow for you? (Phil repeatedly punches himself in the face through a pillow)... Is that not good?"

19. How long did Phil seek medical and psychiatric help?
We only get to see one or two scenes of this and the scenes that we do get to see don't go well. Did he try beating the blizzard to Pittsburgh and try his luck with specialists there? Did he seek therapy along the way for support, clarification, or counseling in his attempt to change and become a better person?
Elapsed estimate of time: 1.5 months

"Some guys would look at this glass and they would say, ya know that glass is half empty. Other guys would say, that glass is half full. I bet you is a glasses half empty kinda guy, am I right?"

20. How long did it take Phil to rehabilitate himself, become a better person, and have a complete and authentic change of heart?
Coming from someone who is actively working on a change of heart myself, I can tell you it is much easier said than done. I am still working on changing destructive habits and behaviors I've had for 20+ years. I also still refer to my brother as a "Gobbler's Knob" from time to time... So I think it is safe to say Phil was in Punxsutawney for a very long time.
Because the length of time it took to go from a glasses half empty person to become a glasses half full person and the total length of time Phil was stuck reliving Groundhog Day are one and the same, lets do some math and figure out approximately how long he was there. If we were to tally up all the time estimates of Phil's stay in Punxsutawney it would add up to: 22 years, 2 months, and if you are scoring at home 1 hour! It's crazy to think about but, if we are trying to be accurate that can't be the final time estimate. It doesn't take into account any crossover time for instance; with a little advanced planning hypothetically Phil could have woken up, destroyed his alarm clock, went to see a movie, saw a therapist, watched Jeopardy, practiced the piano or ice sculpting, studied french and read some poetry before bed all in the same day. So factoring that in could very well take 10 years off the total time leaving us with...
Final Elapsed time estimate: 12 years, 2 months

So what does co-writer and director Harold Ramis think? Well thanks to this website I stumbled on while doing some nerdy A! research we have a direct quote.
Originally on the Groundhog Day DVD Harold Ramis estimated Phil's time in Punxsutawney was 10 years. He has now since said:
"I think the 10-year estimate is too short. It takes at least 10 years to get good at anything, and alloting for the down time and misguided years he spent, it had to be more like 30 or 40 years… People [like the blogger] have way too much time on their hands. They could be learning to play the piano or speak French or sculpt."
Well said, and with that I leave you with a Groundhog Day where are they now.

"Maybe the real God uses tricks, maybe he's not omnipotent. Maybe he's just been around so long he knows everything."

February 2, 2011


Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today. It's cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach? Not hardly.. There's another reason why today is especially exciting. Especially cold! Especially cold, okay, but the big question on every body's lips. On their chapped lips. Do ya think Phil is gonna come out and see his shadow?
That's right wood chuck-chuckers. IT'S GROUNDHOG DAY!

Have you seen Groundhog Day? Because if you have, you could always see it a little more. Am I right or am I right or am I right? Right? Right? Right?
I've seen Groundhog Day somewhere in the ballpark of 20 times over the last 18 years. At the risk of sounding cute, Groundhog Day is one of those movies that you just end up watching over and over and over. It is one of the prime examples of a "black hole movie". You know those movies that as you are flipping through channels you plan to do just a quick stop-and-peek, but instead it completely sucks you in. Despite your best intention to just watch it for only second you end up staying and watching the entire movie.
The 90's had a massive influx of classic comedies, and Groundhog Day is so flawlessly made that it easily cracks the 90's comedies top ten list. IMDB currently has Groundhog Day listed at #161 of the top 250 movies of all time. Like fellow 90's comedies The Big Lebowski, Dumb and Dumber, and Office Space the movie is a quote machine. If you can find me one person that has seen this film and doesn't like it send me their address and I will gladly punch that person in the face for being tasteless, having no sense of humor or brilliance, and for going out of their way to be a contrarian. Let's be honest, if you don't love Groundhog Day, it is either because you haven't seen it or you've been locked up for the last 20+ years, and between making license plates, solitary confinement, and spending quality time with "The Sisters" in the custodial closet you just can't find the time.

"You like your guys with prominent upper teeth?"

If my future psychiatrist is ever reading this trying to figure out where it all started to unravel and go south, let me clearly state for the record that it was three months ago to be exact. After watching some college football I was channel surfing and unavoidably got sucked into what may have very well been my 20th viewing of Groundhog Day. Growing up watching the film I naively assumed Phil Connors was stuck in Punxsutawney for the equivalent of one month, maybe two at the most. I didn't put all that much time or thought into it outside of that.
Yet, for some reason on my most recent viewing of Groundhog Day something clicked, I started logically thinking of how much time Phil may have really spent trapped in the belly button of Hell that is Punxsutawney. I tried to let it go, but it consumed the majority of my thoughts and I honestly lost sleep over it. At one point I wanted to schedule a meeting with my Stake President and get his insight and discuss this topic in the detail and reverence it deserves... Sadly my poor wife can fully attest to this. Regrettably, even my close friends and family can most likely give you the exact date this happened because in all likelihood they probably received ten or more frantic text messages and/or phone calls from me on this very topic.

Here is a picture The Mrs. may of may not have taken of me at somepoint during the last 3 months using complex string theory to try and solve "The Phil Connors Paradox".

The Mrs. was so sick of my pontificating and new found fascination with Groundhog Day that by day two she refused to discuss or deliberate with me on anything that had to do with that subject. As you can see over the last 90 days I've spent countless hours of calculation and analysis to come up with a little theory I like to refer to as "The Phil Connors Paradox".
So just how long was Phil Connors actually in Punxsutawney?

Tomorrow in GROUNDHOG DAY: PART 2, I will discuss in length and detail a theorem that takes into account 20 specific points of interest used to solve The Phil Connors Paradox. See you tomorrow... "What if there is no tomorrow?! There wasn't one today."

January 26, 2011



Admit that you are just as uncomfortable reading about who my man crushes are as I am writing about them. But since you're already here and you're already reading you might as well finish. I promise I will keep this pretty compact.
Lets get the elephant out of the room right up front. Yes, I am perfectly aware my January man crush was once upon a time a white 90's rapper. I am also aware that he unfortunately had a posse named "The Funky Bunch". Yes, his older brother is a member of the New Kids On The Block, and yes, I know that he starred in the colossally bad M. Night Shyamalan movie "The Happening". Now before this thing starts to get to far off track I would like to interject that.. Okay fine, Yes, he also has a tattoo of Sylvester the cat and Tweety bird on his ankle. Now can we please move on already?! Thank you!

Yesterday the 2011 Oscar nominations were announced and among the notable Oscar snubs this year none were as blatant as Wahlberg's for his reserved role as Micky Ward in The Fighter. Mark single-handedly developed every aspect of that film start to finish, a labor of love that was nearly five years in the making. Along with being one of the top three films of last year, The Fighter also joins the short list of the greatest boxing movies ever made. So Why the snub? I just hope it doesn't have anything to do with his white rapping past.
I can't understand how the majority of the public won't let poor Marky's ridiculous past go, yet they don't think twice about giving a pass to other actors with a far more dubious track record. To prove my point, let's play a game called "Which Is Worse?" Here is how you play: I will compare two different actors by naming several different films they've acted in over the years and you tell me which one is worse.

Which is worse?
1997: Boogie Nights or Men In Black?
1998: The Big Hit or Enemy of The State?
1999: Three Kings or Wild Wild West?
2000: The Perfect Storm or The Legend of Bagger Vance?
2001: Rock Star or Ali?
2002: The Truth About Charlie or Men In Black II?
2003: The Italian Job or Bad Boys II?
2004: I Heart Huckabees or I Robot?
2005: Four Brothers or Hitch?
2006: The Departed & Invincible or The Pursuit of Happiness?
2007: The Shooter or I Am Legend?
2008: The Happening or Hancock?
2009: The Lonely Bones or Seven Pounds?
2010: The Fighter & The Other Guys or force feeding your children down our throats i.e. Jaden & Willow Smith?
Sports/Boxing film: The Fighter or Ali?
Oscar nominated/snubbed performances: The Departed & The Fighter or Ali & The Pursuit of Happiness?
Career acting low: The Happening or Wild Wild West?

Depending on your taste of movies or lack there of, except for a select few films and maybe one or two draws, the better resume is undoubtedly slanted in Marky Mark's favor. Now would you believe me if I told you If you that the actor in juxtaposition of Mark Wahlberg is the highest paid actor in Hollywood? Unfortunately it's all too true. I'm sure you guessed who the second actor was within the first few seconds, and if you guessed Will "The Fresh Prince" Smith than you guessed right.
Can anyone honestly say that Will Smith's rapping past as The Fresh Prince is any less egregious Than Mark Wahlberg's as Marky Mark?

Anyway, enough of Will Smith, lets talk man crushes.
Mark Wahlberg is basically Ryan Reynolds if Ryan picked halfway watchable movie roles. His Calvin Klein ads were as memorable as any CK ads before or since. Also as proven in the movie Fear he is so muscular that if he repeatedly punches himself in the chest it inexplicably creates a bruise. For more information on this topic please email Chrissy at

My hope and silent prayer of my heart is that rather than trying to remember him as this:

We will instead remember him for his acting chops and getting nominated and snubbed for these: