The Day the Earth Stood Still

1The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

My friend Kevin recommended I watch The Day the Earth Stood Still for my classic movie challenge. Though I typically don’t think much of sci fi movies, I gave this one a try and it won me over. Directed by Michael Wise, The Day the Earth Stood Still begins with a cheap-looking spaceship landing on earth in Washington DC. Despite the archaic look of the film, I got pulled in completely. Wise mesmerized me with this very cheap, plain spaceship with its clichéd passengers.

A crowd gathers around the ship and soon Klaatu, the archetypical spaceman emerges. Klaatu’s soon shot and his robot Gort defends his master using laser vision against the army. Klaatu’s taken to the army hospital and observed. Klaatu is played as a very serious, really supercilious figure who’s been given the task of letting the inferior earthlings know that now that they’ve gotten nuclear weapons their squabbling could hurt other planets and these other, higher beings won’t tolerate any activity that can upset their peace. His request to speak with all the world leaders is deflected. Things just don’t work that way on earth.

Klaatu escapes in a stolen business suit and finds a boarding house that will take him in. He befriends Bobby, a boy who’s impressed with Klaatu’s knowledge of science and around novelty. Bobby’s father’s passed away and his mother isn’t so sure about Klaatu, but she’s busy dating her perspective husband so Bobby’s got lots of free time to wander the city and go back to the spaceship with Klaatu. It is all rather hokey, but Klaatu is so smart and so above us. We know he’s right about our wars and “petty squabbles.”

Klaatu gives up on the world leaders and tries to get a renown scientist to organize a big powwow with all the top scientists in the world.

Unfortunately, Bobby’s father-to-be gets jealous of Klaatu and tells the army about him. Soon Klaatu must flee for his life and try to war the world that if we don’t stop our nuclear arms development, the rest of the universe will bake us to a cinder.

There are plenty of amusing quotes, such as:

Reporter: I suppose you are just as scared as the rest of us.
Klaatu: In a different way, perhaps. I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.

George Barley: Why doesn’t the government do something, that’s what I’d like to know.
Mr. Krull: What can they do, they’re only people just like us.
George Barley: People my foot, they’re democrats.

All in all, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a fun movie and its dated aspects just add to the fun.

Fun Fact:

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still won a Golden Globe award in the category of “Best Film to Promote Global Understanding.” Who knew that was a category?
  • When Patricia Neal was making the film, she didn’t think much of it and was surprised to learn that it’s regarded as one of the best sci fi movies to date.
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Bughouse Square Debates

Don Washington, Mayoral Tutorial

Shakespeare Project – Julius Caesar

Saturday was the annual Bughouse Square Debates, a celebration of free speech held every July in Chicago’s Washington Park. It’s free and great fun. The even opened with an actor from the Shakespeare Project reading from Julius Caesar followed by an introduction by The Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan. Kogan welcomed the crowd, explained the event’s history and shared Illinois governor John Altgeld‘s releasing the remaining Haymaker Square  protesters.

Then two Chicago Reader columnists received the 2014 Altgeld Free Speech award.Next Don Washington, the main speaker, took the stage. Washington gave an interactive “Mayoral Tutorial” which clued the audience in to how the current mayor is simply repackaging and using new terms to continue former Mayor Daly’s failed privatization schemes. For example, the “Concept Schools” are under investigation by the FBI because they allegedly use funds inappropriately to get visas for teachers from Turkey and Central Asia. Quite an unexpected way to keep teachers’ wages low. Another form of privatization Rahm’s Red Light ticketing scam, which anyone who watches local news knows are erratic and have been giving drivers who’ve done nothing wrong $100 tickets and the driver’s obligated to prove they’re innocent.

Washington was a powerful speaker and added playful interaction in his talk. He got the crowd to reach out to each other with a bingo game, which made me nervous as the man behind us was clearly a loud drunk. Luckily by the time I’d chatted with the people in front of us, someone had won. The reason for the interaction was that Washington thinks that people don’t know their neighbors and therefore can’t advocate for change since they’re isolated.

Don Washington

Don Washington

When Washington finished, the debates expanded as speakers took to the four soap box areas. I heard speakers on religion, Syria, healthcare and labor. This year wasn’t as good as in the past when speakers were paired with someone who disagreed with them. This year people just gave speeches. Only the Evangelical preacher was dynamic and got and handled hecklers with aplomb. The other speakers needed to practice more. Only the speaker on Syria and religion offered facts I hadn’t heard.

I was surprised that so much of the audience was over 60 — at least 50%. Aren’t the young interested in free speech? There were food trucks with empanadas, organic sausages and gelato.

I brought a former Chinese student with me and I tried to summarize and answer her questions. I do wonder what she thought of the event, which takes on tough issues with intelligence and frivolity.

Travel Theme: Meeting Places

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Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack invites bloggers to post travel photos each week. This time she’s given us “Meeting Places” for a theme. One of the conspicuous sites to meet in Jinan is the sculpture that symbolizes the city.

To see more meeting places, click here.

Goldcoast Glitzy Tour

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Today I went on the Chicago History Museum‘s Goldcoast Glitzy Walking Tour. The tour focused on homes built for the rich between the 1880s and 1930. It’s hard to believe all the changes in styles and technology in just 50s years.

The guide was quite knowledgeable as were some of those taking the tour. We saw and learned about the home Joseph Medill, who ran the Chicago Tribune and arranged for Abraham Lincoln to run for president, bought for his daughter, the home of Samuel Insull, who made and later lost a fortune in electricity before it was a regulated utility, and several families I’d never heard of.

I was sad to see the occasional 1960s apartment complex wedged between grand, elegant houses. These families lacked that Downton Abbey spirit to save the family home at all costs.

Zillow: $3.6 million est.

Zillow: $3.6 million est.

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Zillow: est $3.6 million

Zillow: est $3.6 million

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced. 2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag. 3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Other great photos:

Osaka Elegy

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Directed by Kenji Mizoguch, Osaka Elegy (1936) opens with Mr. Asai, a middle-aged grouch, insulting his servants and wife. According to Asai-san, everyone in his house is stupid and incompetent. He and his wife argue and he threatens to get a mistress. The wife replies “go ahead.” There’s not even a spark of love or kindness in this man or his wife.

At work Mr. Asai is more temperate. He even smiles and laughs. Ayako,  a young office girl, who answers the phones, catches his eye.  Though she wears a kimono at work, while the men all wear Western suits (it’s always telling when a culture has women in traditional dress and men in the more modern) Ayoko embraces modern mores. She smokes, outside of work she wears the new styles.

Uninterested in middle-aged men, Ayoko  has eyes for Susumu, a dashing young salary man, who likes her but isn’t ready to move beyond friendship. Ayako’s bigger problem is her father, who’s embezzled 300 yen from his company. They’re ready to set the police after him. Ayako has to deal with he father’s colleagues who come to the house to hound the family for money. Her cowardly father eavesdrops outside while they intimidate his daughters.

Ayako tries to get a loan from Susumu Nishimura. She’s run out of people to ask. In the end her only hope is an agreement with Mr. Asai, who’s pestered her with offers of money and apartments for some time. She winds up agreeing to Mr. Asai’s terms since Susumu hasn’t committed to her and can’t lend her the money.

She gives her father, who shows little appreciation or concern for Ayako, the money and disappears. She quits her job and goes off to her new gilded cage. Later she meets Susumu in a department store. He proposes and she thinks her life can change for the better. Yet more demands from her ungrateful family lead her away from the marriage she hoped for.

The Criterion Collection offers two insightful essays on Osaka Elegy. In one it points out that the director was haunted by his parents selling his sister into prostitution so they could pay for his education:

A detail of Kenji Mizoguchi’s life that is seldom left out of any biographical note is the fact that his older sister was sold into prostitution when he was a child. The practice was not uncommon among poverty-stricken Asian families, and while horrifying enough, the boy’s future was linked to her bondage. After the death of their parents she supported him, and her eventual marriage to a wealthy patron made his education possible. According to the tenets of Japan’s institutionalized sexism, the sacrifice of the less-valued girl child for the well-being of a son would have been taken for granted. But the themes and meaning of the director’s entire body of work attest that for him at least, it never was. Over his long career, through more than eighty films, Mizoguchi would constantly champion women wronged and discarded: Osaka Elegy, Sisters of the Gion, A Woman of Osaka, A Geisha, and Street of Shame. His portrayal, with merciless depth, of the workings of a society that nurtured male privilege and sanctioned second-class citizenship for women, suggests a sensibility on the cutting edge of giri.

I was struck by how Ayako’s desire for a progressive, modern life, was strangled. While she could smoke and work, neither of these actions kept her secure or gave her power. Also the movie, while not explicit, was open about sexuality and exploitation. It doesn’t dress up the sacrifice and cost Ayoko must pay. There’s a bold realism in the film that captivates.

 

Sepia Saturday

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I love signs. They offer such possibilities. Here’s a few that caught my eye.

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I really like the message in this sign.

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This sign made me smile.

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I liked the handwritten sign.

Check out more delightful old signs at Sepia Saturday.

A Gun in Each Hand

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The Spanish film A Gun in Each Hand looks at middle aged men – their work, families, marriages, and affairs from every angle. There’s a wry wit that runs through this film that depicts several vignettes that end with a surprise. It entertains while looking intelligently at older characters. I usually don’t like films where random lives cross paths, but this film works.

Constitution of Užupis

A friend is traveling through Lithuania and found the Republic of Užupis, a district in Lithuania that considers itself independent (in a tongue in cheek way).

Here’s their constitution:

  1. Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, and the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.
  2. Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.
  3. Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation.
  4. Everyone has the right to make mistakes.
  5. Everyone has the right to be unique.
  6. Everyone has the right to love.
  7. Everyone has the right not to be loved, but not necessarily.
  8. Everyone has the right to be undistinguished and unknown.
  9. Everyone has the right to idle.
  10. Everyone has the right to love and take care of the cat.
  11. Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies.
  12. A dog has the right to be a dog.
  13. A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of nee[d].
  14. Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties.
  15. Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not an obligation.
  16. Everyone has the right to be happy.
  17. Everyone has the right to be unhappy.
  18. Everyone has the right to be silent.
  19. Everyone has the right to have faith.
  20. No one has the right to violence.
  21. Everyone has the right to appreciate their unimportance. [In Lithuanian this reads Everyone has the right to realize his negligibility and magnificence.]
  22. No one has the right to have a design on eternity.
  23. Everyone has the right to understand.
  24. Everyone has the right to understand nothing.
  25. Everyone has the right to be of any nationality.
  26. Everyone has the right to celebrate or not celebrate their birthday.
  27. Everyone shall remember their name.
  28. Everyone may share what they possess.
  29. No one can share what they do not possess.
  30. Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.
  31. Everyone may be independent.
  32. Everyone is responsible for their freedom.
  33. Everyone has the right to cry.
  34. Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.
  35. No one has the right to make another person guilty.
  36. Everyone has the right to be individual.
  37. Everyone has the right to have no rights.
  38. Everyone has the right to not to be afraid.
  39. Do not defeat.
  40. Do not fight back.
  41. Do not surrender.

Such a Smart Bird

Yes, it is fascinating and incredible that a bird could solve this puzzle. Is this for real? Apparently.

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