An adventure in cinema

I love cinema, and I am so happy for the opportunity to teach a class of Italian Cinema and Culture this semester. The class is ending now, and the last picture we watched and commented was Antonioni’s L’avventura.

I had watched this movie recently, courtesy of my friend John Olmo, the Chemistry professor and movie expert, but this time I loved the movie even more. It’s definitely one of my most-loved films ever. (I’ve got to produce a list of my most-liked films soon, I promise).

My students loved it too, and we all felt compelled to talk about it after the 140+ minutes (which we had to split in two parts) it lasts. What a wonderful thing a movie can do, having people think and talk and write about it.

I found the movie a lot more sensual than the last time I watched it. And I enjoyed so much the limbo state of the protagonists, who don’t know what they do and why they do it. It was 1960, and I think that ambiguity has stayed with humankind, at least the western part of it. The character Claudia always says she pursues clarity, she’s sort of obsessed by it, and still she won’t find it, and she will in the end accept that frail doubt of her existence, in the memorable last scene of the movie.

My students immediately said they would GIF out the last scene. So I couldn’t resist. I started on a spree and produced the following, all from the trailer (this lazy me).

Splendid Monica Vitti with her character Claudia, a feminine seeker of truth and clarity who, like all the others, is bound to living in anxiety and doubt.

The male protagonist Sandro, played by Gabriele Ferzetti, hides himself after doing something which not even he himself can understand (and neither can we, the ecstatic watchers). Plus, he had lost his fiancée a couple of days earlier.

Lea Massari impersonates Anna, the woman who disappears while on a boat trip on a barren isle within the Aeolian archipelago, just off Sicily. She vanishes but she’s still a protagonist (hello, Hitchcock!)


And this is one of the upscale women who neither knows what she wants, nor is interested in discovering who she is. She just acts, like all the rest. “Acts” like doing stuff, and also like actress-acting. Her character is Patrizia, played by Esmeralda Ruspoli.

The thing I learned after some Web explorations, though, came quite unexpected. I didn’t know the movie, at the Cannes Festival premiere, was booed and laughed at by the public. So much so that Monica Vitti said she felt awful after spending so much energy in the movie. She and all the crew believed in the movie and the world collapsed on them at that screening. What’s interesting is that the day after they received a letter, signed by international journalists and film directors stating that they found it to be the most beautiful film ever presented at the Festival. Also interesting is the public success the film found as soon it was released in theaters. Here is a Monica Vitti interview from those times.

My students liked it and appreciated its tempo lungo, its longish development in which not much actually happens and the mystery is never resolved. Perhaps, like many mysteries of contemporary life and world.

Posted in films | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Women in blue

Beautiful portraits of women by Lisa Brice I got from The Guardian (

I got very attracted by them because, in the newspaper’s words,

“Whether her figures are undressing or enjoying a cigarette, “they are not presenting themselves for the pleasure of the viewer – their own pleasure is paramount”.

I mean, the pleasure of the viewer is not sought when the artists paints her nudes, and a  sense of pleasure is achieved nonetheless (of course) for the viewers. To me, this is in a way, a definition of not porno.

Posted in art, shorts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

delicious Zeitgeist 10/22/2018

[I tag “delicious” on diigo all the items from my web skating that deserve to be shared here. They get auto-posted on draft. I edit the drafts and join a few of them at a time. Voilá.]

This time we have a couple of good websites, each a trove of resources for building on and with the Web.

Last, an article that seems so much like a promotional package disguised as an edtech article.

Vorder Bruegge’s redesigned college algebra course

In one strike, this article covers: McGraw-Hill Education; ALEKS; iPads; Apple Pencils; Promethean ActivBoards; Promethean ActivWall; and Pearson’s MyLab. #wow

tags:technology student outcomes CEDI18 edtech delicious

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted in bookmarks, delicious | Tagged | Leave a comment

Hurricane María–The flashback

A lot has been said and written on hurricane María and our experience of it and our experience of its aftermath.

Today, exactly one year after its passage, let me commemorate it and all the students who with me have stepped through such a hard time.

Today we watched hare at Sagrado the premiére of my friend Sonia Fritz’s documentary Después de María. Las 2 orillas (After Maria. The Two Shores). Of course I–and all the public within the theater–was moved. Impossible to retain the wave of emotions whil the images passed by. But they were not images of wind and rain and water and debris. Those we know too well: In fact, more or less at this very moment one year ago I was working with my neighbors to clean up our street, just hours after the hurricane left us.

Sonia’s film was of people, instead. People choosing to resist and rebuild here (farmers, students, parents, teachers…) and people who moved to Florida (or other parts of the US, mainly). It was reported that over 130,000 people left our island for the mainland.

She focused her research into the economic and social dimension of the hurricane aftermath and its consequences. Two things stand out (beyond the emotion and the beautiful impactful photography):

The infantilization reported by a newswoman that has been used so pervasively by governments and power structures, as exemplified by the Boston’s mayor, who reportedly said, more or less

…terrible… but we’re working hard to help support statehood.

Whoa. The very infantilization as seen in so many environments, from cinema to food to education. Infantilization produced by a colonial state of affairs. Wait a minute: all this was said by the reporter during a panel following the film.

The second important stuff was said by economist Dr. Juan Lara, who reports that, as huge amounts of money are finally coming in for reconstruction, Puerto Rico’s econonomy is booming forward and escaping the collapse of the previous ten years. But that growth will continue for four of five years, until the funds get injected. If we don’t rebuild a better country, the oppportunity will be lost and we’ll find ourselves in dire straits.

So, that’s it, the three magic messages of the day. But there’s more: Alan Levine stepped forward and began the #care4sagrado initiative, whereby people from all over the world sent our students postcards of hope. Parisa Mehran was one of those extraordinary voices that responded with grace. My students and colleagues were moved by those gestures of solidarity. Thanks you again. And then how do I forget Alan and myself beginning our award-winning podcast, the Puerto Rico Connection? Its first episode was recorded from the students center at Sagrado, when we still worked off a generator.

The last point is coming here, and is a tribute to my August 2017 students who suffered the consequences of Maria in classes under tents, without power. I had a few of them who needed over three hour of destroyed roads to get here.

Here they are, as I published at year’s end on this blog. Let’s toast to their well being, but for me, they were exemplar citizens.

The Class of María

Posted in stories | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Nerdy Web Travels with #inf103

I love maps (especially borderline places) and I can’t pass an opportunity to share that with students, especially since we’re studying the details of search on the Web. So, after checking Google Maps and its wondrous capacity to generate and share maps and itineraries, I let my adventurous spirit take over (live during class and in full color).

Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 3.54.25 PM

Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 2.02.47 PM Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 3.53.00 PM

This is why we ended up exploring the magic of Diomede islands, those two small islets just in the middle of the Bering Strait. Students were intrigued since they–like most–ignored all about them. So, one is Russian (the western isle, bigger) and is unpopulated; while the North American one (the eastern isle, mush smaller) has one tiny village which apparently has a small population of permanent residents, and a school.

Somebody swam between the two, and there is no cold (war or whatever) that separates both beyond the coldness of the sea. Such are the travels of the Web-brave.

The Bering strait is just 85 km long (some 50 miles) and of course there have been proposals to build a tunnel or bridge over it. However, as this screenshot from Google shows, people do ask weird or impossible questions:

Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 4.00.43 PM

Can you drive from Alaska to Russia?

For this post I did a screencast of the Google Maps zooming in and out (with Screencast-o-matic’s Web-based Screen Recorder), producing one MP4 video file. I converted the MP4 into an animated GIF through Ezgif which also optimized the final file.

All images are screenshots taken by moi.


Posted in courses | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment