Shopping like there’s no tomorrow


A Nor’easter is forecast to slam the New York area, the second such storm within a week. Many locals are still without power and reeling from the previous storm. I can’t express my sympathy strongly enough for them. Having been through several storms this winter I’ve observed the inevitable forerunner of these tempests, the run on the grocery store.

Forecasts come a few days in advance, within 48 hours we know with a degree of certainty what to expect. That’s why, 24 to 48 hours before the storm, grocery stores are filled near capacity with anxious shoppers filling their carts in a manner that would put Noah to shame. The Bailey Building and Loan has nothing on this bunch. I’m not talking about senior citizens who may have little else to do, this is a diverse section of the population, all equally aggressive. Based on their intensity I half expect a zombie apocalypse more than snow.

Milk is coveted the way gasoline was in Mad Max’s time. Shopping carts, walkers, and strollers, are weapons. Many a tiger mom has thrown her child into the fray as a human shield to get that last loaf of white bread.

The aisles are jammed, the shoppers preoccupied, inattentive and belligerent. The empty shelves intensify the frustration, damn, that last can of Chicken With Stars soup is gone! What will we have for lunch tomorrow?

The checkout lines stretch half way across to Jones Beach, this leads to crowding that makes everyone grouchier.

One takes a risk if they dare line up on a 12 items or less aisle with 13 items. Trust me, the blue hair behind you is counting what you’re putting on the conveyor belt. Go over twelve and she’ll let out a shriek that will blow out the front windows and turn cars on their sides.

Do these people ever shop, do they wait for such a dire forecast to get that can of baked beans? Baked beans are not a good idea if one’s house will be closed for several days. Do they really expect to be snowed in for an extended period? Do they have fallout shelters that need to be restocked and now is a good time? Is this a New York thing or does it happen everywhere?

In the midst of the maelstrom we find the clerks, cashiers and stockpersons. They’re a rugged, determined breed. They exhibit a professionalism of the highest caliber and rarely get sucked into the vortex of panic. They shake their heads, smile and shrug it off. You see, they know, in a few weeks, another storm will be forecast and the process will play out again.

The Shape Of Water, The Shape Of Recognition


“The Shape of Water” was named Best Picture by the Academy, a first, if you consider the film a science fiction piece. It took 90 years but the Oscars finally got around to recognizing science fiction in this category. It seems logical to conclude it is a science fiction film, it was inspired by 1954’s “The Creature From The Black Lagoon.” The Creature was dismissed by many critics but loved by fans, myself included. It’s influenced classics from “Jaws,” “Alien,” and “Predator.”

Director Guillermo Del Toro has expressed his inspiration and affection for the film on more than one occasion. A close look at “The Shape Of Water” confirms the influence of the Creature. The look of Del Toro’s character, dubbed “The Asset,” is very similar to the Creature. Del Toro’s character is less fearsome and more sympathetic but there is no mistaking the homage. Like the Creature Del Toro’s Asset hails from the Amazon and is tortured by would-be scientists. The Asset is a prisoner, just as the Creature was in the 1955 sequel, “Revenge Of The Creature.”

What drew Del Toro, and so many fans, to the Creature? To me it’s a morality tale. The Creature is living a peaceful life until a group of scientists invade his home. The Creature sees them as a threat and responds with violence. Audiences in the fifties saw the Creature as a single-minded monster but a closer look better informs his motivation. The Creature attacks or kills only men. When confronted with the lone female, the now legendary Julie Adams, the Creature shows a tender side. This may be chivalry or a variation on the beauty and the beast theme. The lead scientist, a macho Richard Denning, pumps a harpoon into the Creature at the first opportunity, over the objections of the more enlightened colleague, sci-fi stalwart Richard Carlson. In essence this is a declaration of war and it’s seen through to the inevitable, tragic conclusion. I can only speak for myself when I confess a fondness for the Creature, not unlike that for King Kong. The Creature is a misunderstood so-called monster, acting in a way that is understandable. Man is the invader, the predator, the attacker.

Director Jack Arnold created a stunning visual work, this is significant when one considers the film was shot in black and white. An early scene wherein the Creature mimics Ms. Adams swimming has been interpreted as a symbolic sexual encounter. It may be a courtship ritual, or simply curiosity on the Creature’s part. Hans Salter’s classic score infers the Creature is a menace, much like the shark in “Jaws.” Arnold utilized many underwater shots, especially in the swimming sequence that would influence Spielberg’s masterpiece.

The Creature is considered the last of the classic Universal horror monsters. That puts him in the distinguished company of Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Invisible and the Wolfman. It harkens back to a time when horror was more than a maniac in a hockey mask. The old monsters may seem hokey by today’s standards, but they hold up. How else to explain a pending remake of “The Bride Of Frankenstein” or last year’s failed reboot of “The Mummy?”

Director Jack Arnold also helmed “It Came From Outer Space (1953) and “The Incredible Shrinking Man” (1957). He would later find work directing episodes of “Gilligan’s Island,” maybe he felt at home on the lagoon set. As a director of classic 1950’s films, Arnold’s place in film history is as assured as Ms. Adams’s legendary white bathing suit.

“The Shape Of Water,” is vindication of the maligned sci-fi genre. Classics like “The Day The Earth Stood Still, “The War Of The Worlds,” “Planet Of The Apes,” “2001, A Space Odyssey” down to Star Wars and Star Trek have never been taken seriously by the Academy. Whether this is an exception or a possible new understanding remains to be seen but it’s heartening that the monster can get the girl and the award as well.

Free Edvice

cropped-cropped-ellenville3a.jpgDear Dr. Ed,

I’m worried, my husband stopped going to church with me, he insists on staying home. What should I do?

Concerned In Coxsackie

Dear Concerned,

There are options, tie him down, he might like that at first, douse him with holy water and shout “The power of Christ compels you!”

If you want something more conventional you could stay home yourself, for “us” time. That should force him out.


Dear Dr. Ed,

My husband is very rich, famous and very powerful. He’s been acting strange the last year and he gets worse by the day.  He keeps tweeting nonsensical things and talks to the paintings in our home.  This is odd since many of the paintings aren’t portraits, they’re landscapes.  I mean, who talks to a snow-covered bridge?  I’ve asked him to see a doctor but he tells me I’m part of the “deep state.”  What should I do?

Worried In Washington, DC


Dear Worried,

You should cancel his Twitter account and give him a time out.  I’d also suggest sending him to bed with no dessert or cell phone.

If that doesn’t work another option is a brain transplant.  There are ways find a donor, you may want to check under “single cell organisms” to find a match.