By Paul Goldfinger, Movie Reviewer @Blogfinger.net

Some people who hear the name of this movie are automatically turned off, thinking it is another exotic artsy flick. Others are repulsed when they hear that the heroine has sex with a sea monster.   Some have considered this film to be a sort of fairy tale and there are those who see it as akin to Beauty and the Beast.

Then there are the critics, such as Rex Reed who called the movie a “loopy, lunk-headed, load of drivel.”  But most critics praised the film as did the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which gave it 4 Oscars.

Some critics  consider The Shape of Water to be sort of a social commentary because the two lead characters are outsiders who have the deck stacked against them in our society.

Anyone who plans to see this movie should realize that the creature needs to be appreciated for his human-like traits such as intelligence and compassion. In fact some of his characteristics are super-human.  The Asset is no different in that regard than other non-humans we have enjoyed meeting in beloved movies such as Star Trek where there was a cuddly robot and other strange characters.

The Shape of Water is actually a highly original and enjoyable film crafted with all the best that Hollywood has to offer, and it deserves to be seen. I’m not sure it was the best film in 2017  because by that standard I thought the Darkest Hour was, overall,  superior, and so was Three Billboards, but others on the list, I missed.

The film takes place in Baltimore during the Cold War in the early 1960’s.  To complete the setting there are some Russian spies trying to kill the monster.

Elisa, the heroine (“The Princess Without Voice,”)  is a young woman— a mute.  She can hear, but she can’t speak.  Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is very sexy even though she is no “glamor puss.”  She lives with an older gay man, and they help each other.

Her girlfriend is Zelda, a black woman, who together clean toilets and mop floors in a a military research facility where the creature (“the Asset”) is housed in an oppressive secure environment.  Michael Stuhlbarg was terrific as a compassionate scientist.  I remember him as a gangster in Boardwalk Empire.

The Asset looks somewhat like a man, but it is covered with a reptilian skin and has webbed feet and hands along with lizard eyes.  He was brought back from the Amazon by a crazed and cruel military officer, played wonderfully by Michael Shannon.

The water “monster” forms a relationship with Elisa while she sneaks hard boiled eggs into the facility for him to enjoy.  Unless you are willing to appreciate the Asset for his human-like qualities, the greater the chance that you will dislike this movie.

Eventually Elisa and her friends spirit the Asset out by hiding him, and he winds up living in her bathtub, because he needs water to survive.

A romantic relationship does develop, but the sex scenes, which are brief are done in a very abstract way including a sort of ballet under water. Evidently this lizard is anatomically suitable.

The ending has been described as “chaotic,” but I thought it was amazing.

The director and writer is Guillermo del Toro, a Mexican filmmaker, who got an Oscar for Best Director  The film’s original music score won an Oscar  for Alexandre Desplat.

The music was carefully chosen to support the romance depicted in the film  –“You’ll Never Know”  sung by opera star Renee Fleming  (below) is used to great advantage towards the end of the movie.  And the Glenn Miller song featured on Blogfinger  (a few posts below with a photo of Central Park) is also sympathetic to the romance.

RENEE FLEMING  from the movie soundtrack, “You’ll Never Know.”—– The Shape of Water.  Movie score by Alexandre Desplat.



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This image of Washington Square Park from 4/9/13 attracts viewers in 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo. NYC Street Series. ©

This image of Washington Square Park from 4/9/13 attracts viewers in 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo. NYC Street Series. ©  Click to enlarge. Re-posted from 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

On Sunday, September 20, 2015, our stats shot up as 2,300 visits were recorded on Blogfinger. In checking the breakdown of direct hits aimed at particular posts, nearly 600 were  linked to a photograph posted on April 9. 2013.  It was a photo of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village, and the title was “80 degrees in April. NYU  students flock to Washington Square Park.”  The song was by Lady Antebellum called “Downtown” from their album Downtown.

Today, Monday, September 21, 2015, we had 2,000 hits, and the day wasn’t yet over.  The visits to that same photo were over 300.

Maybe someone at NYU was searching the Internet for photos showing student life on their “campus.”  Whatever!!  It’s fun when the Internet delivers a nice surprise.

LADY ANTEBELLUM     “Downtown.”

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Brewer cemetery. Farmingdale, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo © 2014.

Brewer cemetery. Farmingdale, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo © 2014.  Re-posted from 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger, Photography Editor @Blogfinger

Photographers are sometimes drawn to cemeteries because they can be dramatic and lovely. But I rarely see a cemetery in an art gallery—I guess they don’t sell well. In my case, I almost never photograph in a cemetery because it’s depressing.

About the only time I get interested is if there is historical context, such as with this 18th century cemetery in Farmingdale. There is something mysterious and brooding about this place. I actually enjoyed walking around there and trying to read the nearly obliterated inscriptions.

I have visited cemeteries in Boston and New Brunswick which go back to the Revolutionary War, and they are absolutely fascinating if not beautiful. Another gorgeous place is the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah where Johnny Mercer resides. You can take a ghost tour in Savannah. I have photos. (Remember the book/movie Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil—-set in Savannah)

But this place in Farmingdale, with its lonely setting, sitting forlornly by the side of a country road, seems wonderfully haunting.

You know, the Albatross Hotel on Ocean Pathway in Ocean Grove served as a setting for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. This Farmingdale cemetery would be great for HBO’s True Blood.

You can almost see the vampires coming out of the ground during the night to fly into Ocean Grove and seek some juicy jugular veins.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT   from his album Want One


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Are the winds of zoning changes blowing again in the Grove? Are such changes good for the town? Paul Goldfinger photo © Blogfinger.net  Click to Seymour.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

We have some credible information about the Aurora Hotel, #6 Atlantic Avenue in Ocean Grove,  which has been for sale for several years.

In a recent Blogfinger article we noted that the majestic old hotel, currently officially registered as a single family home, would have to get some variances if a new owner wanted to do something with it, such as turn it into condominiums, which is what has happened to similar old buildings in the Grove in the past, despite violations of State parking laws. (RSIS).

Now we learn that the Aurora was sold in February, 2018, to a mysterious developer called “Old Forge at Ocean Grove, LLC.”  This LLC name was registered in New Jersey on Jan 9, 2018.

Shouldn’t Neptune discover the principals of this LLC?  What if there is someone involved who has a conflict of interest, such as a member of the Planning Board?

And the same applies to the secretive WAVE, the re-developer at the North End where some action on that plan is supposed to be brewing.

There is an application regarding the Aurora pending at Neptune Township, but no hearing has been scheduled yet.  The developer wants to convert the existing building into 4 individual residential units  (presumably luxury condos for sale.)

If we can learn from history, the Planning Board or Board of Adjustment will give permission for this, even though the property does not have enough off-street parking, and such a conversion would create even more congestion on Atlantic Avenue. In addition what about preserving the exterior appearance of that historic structure?

Why in the world would such a buyer purchase that building unless they were reassured, in advance, that a condo conversion would be approved, or they have an escape clause pending approval or not?

God only knows what will happen.  This is crooked Ocean Grove.

Here are two  links to our recent posts on this subject, but there are others. Just use the search block at the upper right corner of this home page and type “Aurora.”

Aurora for sale BF post Jan. 2018.

Aurora false assumptions 2018 Blogfinger.net


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Image taken “before the last storm.”  Photographer Gladys Henderson.  2018.



The tip of a yellow

crocus pushing through the snow—

spring fever



DICK HAYMES  sings “It Might As Well Be Spring.”


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Paris. By Paul Goldfinger. ©

Paris. By Paul Goldfinger. ©  Last posted in 2013 on Blogfinger.net

The Marais District in Paris is a historic part of town. Victor Hugo used to live there, but we didn’t bump into Victor when we visited. I guess I was busy trying to figure out how to go down the stairs without having to go up the stairs.  French royalty liked that neighborhood including King Charles V who built his house there in 1361.  Do you think he had to submit the plans to the Paris HPC?

The Rue de Rosiers in the Marais is the Jewish district.  I can imagine King Charles or Victor Hugo strolling over to that neighborhood for a superior knish.   After eating there, Victor probably felt less miserable than before.

There was a deli (Goldenbergs) on the Rue de Rosiers where there were a couple of bullet holes still enshrined in the front window after some terrorists shot up the area in 1981.

We had  really great falafel  at the Rue de R. purchased out the window of a hole-in-the-wall eatery.  Sometimes, when you travel, it is the small moments that you recall most fondly.

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger


MARY BETH PEIL  From  Follies New Broadway Cast Album.  By Stephen Sondheim

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Mayor Nicholas Williams is now involved in the train wreck called the North End plan.  Blogfinger photograph. December 2017 ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger and Jack Bredin, Reporter and Researcher @Blogfinger.

At the Township Committee Meeting on February 26,  2018, Committeeman Brantley said, “At our next meeting we will have some big announcements to make regarding re-development.”  Neptune has a number of areas in need of redevelopment, including the OG North End.

At the Committee meeting of March 12,  2018,  Mayor Nicholas Williams reported, “We have been showing developers around town and telling them what we should like to see developed, and they are making proposals on what they would like to build.”

Then he went on to say, “There are two developers interested in the West Lake Avenue and the North End (OG).  We have a meeting next week with WAVE and the Redevelopment Attorney.”  Will WAVE be informed that they need to “fish or cut bait?”

This reminds Blogfinger of a photograph (below,)  posted on our site,  of Committeeman Michael Brantley showing the North End property to unnamed developers on July 27, 2016.

This Blogfinger photograph of Dr. Brantley giving a tour of the North End to developers. July 27, 2016. ©

This sounds to us like the Township may be fed up with the interminable delays regarding WAVE and the North End project which has floated like flotsam in the Atlantic Ocean for nine, non-transparent years, leaving an ugly ocean front dirt lot for Grovers and visitors to admire.

During the public portion, Jack Bredin went to the microphone to say that any meetings regarding this “area in need of redevelopment” should be open to the public. He stated that there are procedures and rules spelled out in New Jersey Land Use Laws regarding such transparency.  He said that if he were the mayor, he would never be showing developers around and/or having “private discussions in the back of some limousine”  about the project because “that would give the perception of an impropriety.”

Note that the Redevelopment Attorney was not present at either the February 26 or the March 12 meetings.

It’s time  for the Committee to do what’s best for the town and break off its relationship with WAVE, even if breaking up is hard to do.  And while they are at it, it’s time to cancel the Revelopment Plan and follow the Master Plan for single family homes on that property. All New Jersey Land Use laws should be followed and all future discussions on this issue should be held in public view.



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Rutherford High School gym. 1959. Photo by Jason Studios–found in the back of my yearbook. © Click to make sure we all were behaving ourselves.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

School dances were held in the gym.  The place was festooned with crepe paper streamers.  The slow dances were more like steamers. Cheek to cheek was the way. There was a live band playing Chuck Berry, Paul Anka, Buddy Holly and so many more. Music of that era was the soundtrack to our lives. Jackets and ties were essential for the dances.

Our school only had about 600 students, so we all were spread out over a variety of activities. I had best friends—three of them were the first team, but there were others orbiting and intersecting. Jeff (dark jacket, seen above with Priscilla, the corsage girl) was very smart. He introduced me to Hemingway. His mom was the town librarian.

Another friend was Tom (with the glasses.)  He once got annoyed at me for referring to him as  a “nonagenarian.” We were all in the band, and we all played sports.

Jeff had a motor scooter, and he would ride, with me on the back, through the Lincoln Tunnel to get to Greenwich Village to hear folk music and jazz.

I am the guy in the background looking up at the ceiling.  I don’t know why I was seemingly distracted at that candid and sensuous moment.  Maybe I was trying to focus on something other than that dark haired pretty girl who was so close. Note the “ducks ass—-DA” on the fellow with the light colored suit.

THE PENGUINS with a song featured on the soundtrack of Back to the Future.


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Asbury Park Press photo of the Bradley Beach Lobster Festival. Probably 2017.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Blogfinger has repeatedly said that the mega -events which occur in Ocean Grove, such as the ones on the Pathway where thousands of outsiders cause gridlock in the interest of buying  flea market and craft stuff, are damaging to the lifestyles of those who live in our town.    These happenings are frequent and are sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the CMA, enabled by Township approvals to shut down streets and allow overwhelming numbers of cars in without considering the parking issues. Such huge tourist attractions  cause considerable inconveniences and distress to those residents who live in the Grove. During peak season, they can ruin the joy of living here.

Here is link about the  gridlock that occurred one weekend in 2017:

Madhouse in Ocean Grove 2017

Well, we are not the only ones with such concerns.

On the front page of the Coaster, March 8, 2018, there is a piece about a Bradley Beach citizen who is suing the Borough Council.  Ostensibly, the reason for the suit is because a vote at the Council was tainted by an alleged conflict of interest involving the local Chamber of Commerce.

But what were they voting on?  It was to approve the dates for the annual Lobster Festival. This event, from June 23 to June 25,  attracts over 70,000 people and has about 250 vendors stretched over the 2 mile boardwalk in BB.  It is sponsored by their  Chamber of Commerce.

It seems that there are some Bradley residents who want that mega-gridlock event to be moved from prime-time to a weekend after Labor Day when the town might be better  able to host such congestion.

You may recall that the Mayor of Belmar shut down his town when the influx of their lobster festival celebrants threatened to overwhelm the Borough.

There are times in Ocean Grove when such events produce a total in-effect shut down of our town, with desperate crazed drivers circling endlessly looking for parking as if they were refugees in South Sudan waiting for a shipment of K-rations to drop from the sky.

Here at Blogfinger, we have no interest in the Bradley  “conflict of interest” suit, but we did sense that there is a subtext to the suit, which the Coaster failed to unearth.

We  contacted  T.J. Coan,  a former Councilman, resident  and a businessman on Main Street, in BB,  who is bringing the suit. It turns out that this is really mostly about shutting down the Lobster Festival for June and moving it to after Labor Day for the sake of the residents of Bradley Beach.  Secondarily it is about governance in that Borough.

TJ said that the June weekend is an “insane” time for bringing thousands of tourists into Bradley; it is the first weekend of the “season” when the kids are off from school and where the town should belong to the residents.  “Even without a festival, it is a madhouse.”

This is a quality of life issue.  TJ agrees with us that these gridlock events do nothing to benefit the residents of our towns,  and, in fact, make things worse for those who live in the two communities . He says,  “It’s bad for Bradley Beach,”  and that generalization speaks volumes to citizens of any shore town to organize and fight the pressures to turn their towns into Seaside Heights or the San Gennaro Festival.

Without challenges to the pressures by promoters and commercial interests, a town will change, especially the demographics.  We know people who are already selling in Ocean Grove in response to dissatisfaction with the way the town culture  is deteriorating.

It is a question of who should get priority when multiple factions, such as the Chambers of Commerce, realtors, and tourism advocates fail to consider the best interests of the towns where they do business.  People are attracted to our towns because of their unique and old fashioned styles, but then certain parties  want to change things. Residents need to fight such destructive tendencies if they want to preserve the character of their community .

TJ likened it to Manhattan when huge events such St. Patrick’s Day and the Puerto Rican Day cause even jaded New Yorkers to leave their city and escape somewhere else.  As for the Lobster Fest he says that “Bradley Beach becomes a mess due to tourists, trucks and garbage all over the place.”

TJ and some like-minded Bradley advocates are willing to put up money to try to influence the future of their town.

But, Ocean Grove, a tiny shore town, has more gridlock events than Bradley Beach does, and so far, our citizens don’t seem to care.   Apathy allows the barbarians at the gates to come right in and threaten our lovely historic boroughs.


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New Jersey Ave bridge seen from the OG side. April, 2013. PG photo

New Jersey Ave bridge seen from the OG side. April, 2013. PG photo. Left click for full view.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger.  This 2013 piece brought 50 comments. It is worth re-reading.

Every night at midnight, the NTPD locks the gates on the OG side of those two bridges.  At 5:00 a.m. the gates are opened.  This policy has been in effect since 1995 and was initiated by Neptune Township as a method to stop high crime rates on the bridge and on both sides of the bridge. Many of those crimes were happening in the late evening and early morning hours.  The police tried foot patrols, a police substation by the bridge, covert ops and decoys, but despite some arrests, the problems continued.

The top priority for the NTPD was to do the right thing from a public safety perspective.  Soon after the gates/locks idea was implemented, there was, according to NTPD Chief Robert Adams,  a “dramatic impact” on crime in that location, on both sides of the bridges.

The Lock

The Lock

In 1995 some individuals complained about the idea*, especially from the AP side, who viewed the locks as keeping Asbury Park citizens out.   Others said that the purpose of the gates was to prevent criminals from quickly escaping the Grove, but Chief Adams says that cutting off escapes was not the main mechanism.   Instead the benefit came mostly from reducing the number of criminals hanging around in those locations, something that would help both communities.   In recent years, the police have received no complaints about the bridge closures.

Chief Adams says that his department is “constantly re-evaluating”  all its policies .  However, at this time, he believes that the vast number of Grovers support the continued implementation of the bridge closures and he continues to place “public safety” as the main focus for police work in Neptune Township and, specifically, in Ocean Grove.

* Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov 12, 1995  link)  From Jamie of Ocean Grove:      1995 newspaper article link

Editor’s Note:  If you wish to comment on this topic, please tell us which side of the lake you live on.  I think your comments will have more credibility if you do, especially if you say your name, but neither is required.  —Paul


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