The Pencil Today:


“I am leaving soon. and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly.

“The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all, or no one is secure.

“Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them.

“We of the other planets have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all the planets and for the complete elimination of aggression.

“The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked.

“At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk.

“The result is, we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war. Free to pursue more profitable enterprises.

“Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works.

“I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder.

“Your choice is simple: Join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration.

“We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.” — Klaatu in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”


Here’s where, today: The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm


Oh, baby, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” remains to this day one of my top ten fave movies of all time.

Michael Rennie was so cool and suave as Klaatu, the emissary from another planet. And Gort, the robot! Good heavens, he scared the bejesus out of me when the movie would air on TV on a Friday night. As a kid, I’d run out of the room when Gort would appear. That huge, faceless head! That massive body! The laser that shot out from his visor!

But I couldn’t bear to miss a single second of the movie so I’d tiptoe back into the living room and peek around the corner to see if Gort was still on the screen.


The thrills of childhood are so visceral and immediate.

It wasn’t until many years later that I realized Klaatu had a message for humanity. And later I read that the whole movie, adapted from a short story by Harry Bates entitled, “Farewell to the Master,” was a modern-day allegory for the arrival of a messiah.

Both Klaatu and Jesus brought a message of peace to humankind. Klaatu, while he roamed the streets of Washington, DC, took on the name Carpenter — Jesus was a carpenter. Klaatu was killed by the 1951 version of the Roman centurions and he was brought back to life so he could deliver his word.


Who knew?

Anyway, I was irked when the remake was announced a little more than five years ago. The original version, directed by Robert Wise, was still good enough for me. And then when I heard that the insufferable Keanu Reaves would play the lead, I vowed I’d never watch the remake. I’ve kept that vow.

And, you know, Gort was played by a real man named Lock Martin. In one scene, Gort carries the female lead, Helen Benson, played by Patricia Neal, into the spaceship. The problem was Martin, himself a breathtakingly tall individual, was oddly weak and so unable to carry Neal. The crew had to rig a system of wires to support Neal while Martin pretended to carry her.

“The Day the Earth Stood Still” was scored by the brilliant Bernard Herrmann, who also handled music for “Citizen Kane,” “Psycho,” and “Taxi Driver.” Herrmann employed sophisticated (for his time) overdubbing and used odd and even bizarre instruments including two theremins, vibraphones, glockenspiels, and a celesta, among others.

The Theremin & Its Inventor, Lev Termen

The effect was an aural weirdness that was perfect for the film.

Oddly, “The Day the Earth Stood Still” was shut out of Oscar nominations for pictures made in 1951, not even gaining a technical nod. But there’s no shame in that: Red Buttons once won an Oscar but Cary Grant never did.

One more thing. Klaatu was shot in the opening sequence of the movie. He’s taken to Walter Reed Army Hospital for treatment where the doctors are stunned that he’s healed himself using a salve he’d brought from his home planet. While the doctors discuss Klaatu’s advanced pharmacology, they light up — right in the hospital! Such simpler times.

Now, which movie do you think I’m going to pop into my DVD player tonight?


How cool is this?

I dug up some audio of the two paleo-technogeek musicians playing separate theremins in a recording session for the score for “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Their names were Dr. Samuel Hoffman (he was a foot doctor by day) and Paul Shure.

The theremin was played without actually touching the instrument. The player would wave his or her hands in front of a couple of antennae. With no frets, keys, or any other material devices to control pitch, volume, and duration, the theremin was extremely difficult to master.

The Rolling Stones’ musical adventurer, Brian Jones, played the theremin on “Their Satanic Majesties Request.”

Let’s listen to Hoffman and Shure lay down tracks during post-production for the movie.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

VOTE ◗ The Curry Building, 214 W. Seventh St.; 8am-6pm

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

STORYTELLING ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryStoryhour Extravaganza: Halloween; 10-10:45am

STORYTELLING ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryStoryhour Extravaganza: Halloween; 1:30-2:15pm

LECTURE ◗ IU Memorial Union — “The Future of Urban Education in the US: Where Is It Going?”, Presented by Eugene White, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, and David Harrs CEO of The Mind Trust; 2pm

MUSIC ◗ Cafe DjangoRegal Rhythm Halloween Show, Plus costume contest; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleDobbs Project; 7-9pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Ford-Crawford HallStudent Recital: Karen Stafford on historical clarinet; 7pm

PERFORMANCE ◗ Unity of Bloomington ChurchAuditions & rehearsal for Bloomington Peace Choir; 7-8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubStardusters; 7:30-10:30pm

ASTRONOMY ◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryOpen house, Public viewing through the main telescope; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceOpen mic; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterConcert Orchestra, Scott Sandmeier, director; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BishopThe Wood Brothers, Lyra Lynn; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer HallDoctoral Recital: Hanmo Qian on piano; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdRod Tuffcurls & the Benchpress; 9pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Threads of Love: Baby Carriers from China’s Minority Nationalities“; through December 23rd
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • Buzz Spector: Off the Shelf; through November 16th
  • Small Is Big; Through November 16th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others: Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections from the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibits:

  • Doctors & Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical Professions
  • What Is Your Quilting Story?
  • Garden Glamour: Floral Fashion Frenzy
  • Bloomington Then & Now
  • World War II Uniforms
  • Limestone Industry in Monroe County

The Ryder & The Electron Pencil. All Bloomington. All the time.

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