The Shape of Water: Guillermo del Toro and the Failure to Consecrate

Guillermo del Toro’s new movie — The Shape of Water — is a high-minded movie that looks great, sounds good, but ultimately fails to consecrate the point of the story: Communication Creates Love.

There are all sorts of movie tropes packed into the The Shape of Water — but the center of the swirling is a “mute” janitor, played by Sally Hawkins, who falls in love with a sea monster because they are able to communicate using American Sign Language; and that major flaw in discovery, reason, and accessibility, will serve as the remainder of my argument why The Shape of Water, in the end, fails as a facilitation for a grander, romantic, connection of human/serpent longing.

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A Romanov in a Pau Garden: A Glorious Last Moment in Living History

One sunny morning in Pau, one of the neighbors came to take some plants for his garden.  The elderly gentleman in the photograph on the right is Monsieur Romanov — a  descendant of the Romanov family, rulers of Russia from 1613 until the Russian Revolution in 1917.

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Michelangelo’s 16th Century Cipher Image Communication

One internet meme that is taking flight on social media is the handcrafted glory of a grocery list Michelangelo created in the 16th century for his illiterate servant to use while shopping.

Because the servant he was sending to market was illiterate,” writes the Oregonian‘s Steve Duin in a review of a Seattle Art Museum show, “Michelangelo illustrated the shopping lists — a herring, tortelli, two fennel soups, four anchovies and ‘a small quarter of a rough wine’ — with rushed (and all the more exquisite for it) caricatures in pen and ink.” As we can see, the true Renaissance Man didn’t just pursue a variety of interests, but applied his mastery equally to tasks exceptional and mundane. Which, of course, renders the mundane exceptional.

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On Being AWOL: The Great 80 Day Internet Disconnect

You may have noticed that I have been absent a while — there are two reasons for this. The first was losing my internet lifeline — the first storm of the season rendered our already stressed internet connection null and void. 13 kilometers of line had to be replaced along with some of the electricity lines.

There is no rush here in Portugal to undertake such work — SAPO who own all the lines and infrastructure are next on the privatization list and do not want to invest in capital at present — the internet providers who have to use the infrastructure, and pay to do so, quite understandably have no desire to fix a problem that is not theirs.

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Three Days of a Hundred Years of Darkness: Hurricane Sandy and 12 Months of Nothingness

One year ago today, 8.5 million people in the New York City area were without heat or power as Hurricane Sandy blasted the soft middle of our lives — thrusting us backward a hundred years behind a wall of water into at least three days of cold and darkness:

Monday night, at 11:00 pm sharp in Jersey City, New Jersey, the lights went out and stayed off until last night at 7:43pm.  That’s three days without power or heat.  Hurricane Sandy was a massively nasty beast, and we’re just now starting the recovery process.  We are hungry and scavenging for food.  Supermarkets are closed.  Few places have power.

For many of those directly touched by the floodwater a year ago, life has yet to return to normal, and many will never recover the good lives they once had before the storm; and that is a clear failure of the government safety net and the lack of any sort of real social fabric that meshes us together.  The King has no clothes, and we don’t, either!

When it is better, and more profitable, to cut and run and abandon than it is to stay and rebuild and recover — we all have a problem.

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End of the Copper Line

I am concerned about the abolishment of reliable, mechanical, communication when it comes to “plain old telephone service” — POTS — and the future of voice and data communication.

Hurricane Sandy has shoved forward the end of the copper telephone line.  Big communication companies have decided it is in their best interest to push people onto cellular networks instead of rebuilding what was lost:  Traditional “communication by wireline” that has been a staple of everyday communication in the USA for almost a hundred years.

The changing landscape has Verizon, AT&T and other phone companies itching to rid themselves of the cost of maintaining their vast copper-wire networks and instead offer wireless and fiber-optic lines like FiOS and U-verse, even though the new services often fail during a blackout.

“The vision I have is we are going into the copper plant areas and every place we have FiOS, we are going to kill the copper,” Lowell C. McAdam, Verizon’s chairman and chief executive, said last year. Robert W. Quinn Jr., AT&T’s senior vice president for federal regulatory issues, said the death of the old network was inevitable. “We’re scavenging for replacement parts to be able to fix the stuff when it breaks,” he said at an industry conference in Maryland last week. “That’s why it’s going to happen.”

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Relearning English in the USA

I was pretty confident about my language skill when I came to the USA in 2004 from India, but it took a nose-dive within 20 minutes of my landing there. It was amazing to hear the responses for all the “thank yous” I offered. From the regular “no problem at all, and my pleasure etc.” to a slightly unusual “no probs and you bet” to a stunningly musical “hmm…hmm” almost swept me off my feet.

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