ESSAY ON METAMORHOSIS

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“Ya know Doc, like a Kafkaesque nightmare…”

The sad unsmiling silent psychiatrist shook his shaggy head no.

“Kafka?”

“Yes, Kafka, you do know who Kafka is, don’t you, Doc?”

“No. I’m afraid I don’t.”

And so it was I fired my therapist. Did you ever notice that the word therapist contains the two words, “the rapist?” That should have given me ample warning right there. Later, as I was explaining the situation to my mistress and I came to the part: “Ya know, Doc, just like something out of a Kafkaesque nightmare…”

Who’s Kafka?”

“You don’t know who Kafka is either?”

And so it was I fired my mistress too. It was just about that time I began to notice how closely my life paralleled that of hapless, arthropodic, Gregor Samsa.

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THE POST (2017)

Movie Review

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I just love newspapers and movies about newspapers.   The Post (2017) rivals some of the best pictures from the past such as Citizen Kane (1941), The Front Page (1974), and All the President’s Men (1976). The Post probably has more in common with All the President’s Men than the others because both movies are about the same newspaper, the Washington Post, and the subject matter was similar; political intrigue. As a matter of fact, the Watergate break in happened the very next year after the publication of the Pentagon Papers and resulted in the resignation of an American president, Richard Nixon. But that is another story and another movie.  These movies show the power of the press and its importance in American society. Justice Hugo Black once said, “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

The Post gives us a nostalgic look back at what the newspaper business used to be like. From the loud, busy, bustling news room to the Linotype operators and the press room, it was a miracle they were able to get a paper out on time as it was such a huge undertaking. Things have changed in the world of journalism since the advent of computers and the internet, but I found it fascinating to see the actual operation of getting a paper out on deadline. I’ve seen it before in real life. As a young Loss Control Representative two of my accounts were the Louisville Courier-Journal and Standard Gravure. Together they published two daily newspapers. It was my job six times a year to inspect their entire operation. It was a fascinating and exciting process to witness.

The Post is concerned with the publication of the infamous and so-called Pentagon Papers. When American military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) realizes the extent of the US government’s deception regarding the Vietnam War, he copies top-secret documents that would become the Pentagon Papers.  Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post, played to perfection by Tom Hanks, discovers the New York Times has scooped them with an explosive expose on those papers. Nixon gains a court injunction on the New York Times prohibiting them from further publication of the Papers or what they have learned from them. Bradlees finds Ellsberg and obtains copies for himself and talks the owner of the Washington Post, Katherine Graham, into publishing them. Meryl Streep plays Katherine Graham in one of her best performances in years. The case goes before the Supreme Court and a ruling in favor the Times and the Post is rendered. One justice was quoted as saying, “The court rules in favor of the governed, not the governors.”

Steven Spielberg is not my favorite director, but that is just a matter of personal taste. He is unquestionably an American master filmmaker. I loved his Indiana Jones series and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But His masterpiece, in my opinion, was and always will be, Schindler’s List. The Post comes in a close second.

Wildwood

It was my last best hope and expectation to meet up with a very special girl from Jersey in Wildwood. I was from Philly and she was from Harlem and our lives intersected in a small town in South Jersey. She was a sweet kid and wild as Friday night and we were supposed to meet for a weekend rendezvous in the seaside town of Wildwood. It was during the off season and there weren’t too many people around, which was how I liked it.

I holed up in a cheap hotel near the beach for a few days but she never showed. So I walked the streets and combed the beach a bit and I snapped a few pictures.

THE SHAPE OF WATER

 Movie Review

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“Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.”

That line from an unknown poem pretty well defines the movie, The Shape of Water.

Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water is pure movie magic. It is hard to peg exactly where this genre movie falls, but since del Toro was heavily influenced by Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)I’ll start there. This movie is much more than just a horror film. It is a period piece, a romantic thriller, and a spy movie, all wrapped into one. It explores the timeless themes of loneliness, alienation, isolation, being different from others in an intolerant society, and yes, falling in love with the other.

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Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito

Sally Hawkins plays disaffected and lonely janitor Elisa Esposito. She works at a Aerospace research facility in Baltimore with her friend Zelda, (Octavia Spencer). Elisa is mute and communicates with the world in signs. The time is 1962 at the height of the cold war. Sometime while working her shift a specimen is brought into the lab that had been captured in the Amazon and is worshiped by the natives as a god.  The creature is described by the military as the “asset.”

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This asset is a humanoid type creature that Elisa is able to befriend. She discovers that he is intelligent and communicates with him in sign language.  They develop quite a relationship together. When the creature becomes endangered Elisa plots to set him free in a rain canal in Baltimore. But first she smuggles him out of the facility and into her small apartment where she keeps him in her bathtub. While there they fall in love.

The creature has a curious way of glowing in blue colors when stimulated and is a marvel to watch.

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Spoilers ahead:  The military, in the form of Colonel Richard Strickland, is hot on their trail. He gets to the canal just as the creature is about to make his escape. Strickland shoots both the creature and Elisa. Miraculously the creature is able to heal himself of the gunshot wounds (he is a god after all) and also to heal Elisa. He grabs her up and leaps into the canal. He gives her gills so that she may breathe underwater and presumably they are able to live happily ever after.

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I just loved this movie. This is why you go to the movies. You keep going to see movie after movie, hoping you will see one that you can connect with, hoping to see a movie as good as the best movie you ever saw, wanting to hit that high mark one more time, but seldom ever making it. This is Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to Hollywood and he has copied it to the rest of us. It is genius.

The Shape of Water jumps to the top of my Best Movies of the Year list for 2017. I give it a 10/10. The only other movie that I rated that high this year was Blade Runner 2049. I am not sure which one will get the top slot, but I have to admit, I am a sucker for a good loves story.

The Gun Shop

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Instruments of death that fit snugly into the palm of your hand were gleaming dully in their showcases lovingly caressed by blue velvet. Oiled wooden handles jutted from solid blue back bodies. There was a faint odor of oil and metal lingering on the air conditioned atmosphere of the room. The soft sounds of creaking leather reverberated through the reverential quiet as the clerk tenderly, ever so gently, eased a delicately balanced, but heavily weighted .357 magnum out of its holster

“Listen to this action,” he whispered to me imploringly.

Firmly, but gently, he gripped the butt of the gun in his right hand. He placed the web of his thumb over the hammer of the awesome black revolver and slowly began to exert pressure on it. The man’s hands trembled slightly and he closed his eyes. Small beads of perspiration began popping over his upper lip. A little metal clicking noise emerged from the gun as the hammer went through its first cocking phase. A slight smile appeared on the lips of the clerk as he continued to pull back on the heavy hammer and another click emerged — the gun was half-cocked — the clerk began breathing heavily now and rapidly  his face grew flush. He slid his thumb to the edge of the hammer and applied the tip of it to the ridges cut deeply into the top edge. He pushed down hard and fully cocked the revolver. A tiny tear drop appeared in the corner of the clerk’s eye.

The gap between the ridged head of the steel hammer and the body of the gun was a chasm. It looked like the jaws of a primordial reptile. It was powerful, and it was frightening — the stored-up energy of that hammer begged to be released. He pulled the trigger.

Snap!

I jumped. The hair on the back of my neck prickled and a shiver ran down my left arm. The clerk placed the gun back into the showcase and hung the holster back on the rack. He lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply and blew out blue clouds of smoke across the room. He had a distant look in his eye. I turned on my boot heels and walked out of the store into the bright afternoon sun. I squinted my eyes and shuttered with relief to be back in normal time and space again. Just to-make sure I kicked out at the base of a red white and blue mail box standing at the edge of the sidewalk. It hurt sufficiently to be convincing. I began the three block walk back to my office still in a bit of a stupor.