It Conquered The World

Shot in 5 days, this 1956 film directed by Roger Corman remains a favorite of mine.  I don’t know who wrote the synopsis on IMDb, but it beautifully captures the essence of the film’s plot in one sentence:   “A well meaning scientist guides an alien monster to Earth from Venus, so that he can rid mankind of feelings and emotions – but only death and sorrow result.”  The film is worth watching for Beverly Garland’s memorable performance as Lee Van Cleef’s neglected wife, who takes charge at the film’s conclusion.  And, there is a great monster created by Paul Blaisdell.

ItConqueredTheWorld LC5

ItConqueredTheWorld LC8

Willamette Meteorite

DB & meteoriteOn display in the American Museum of Natural History (NYC), is the Willamette Meteorite.  It is composed of iron and nickel and weighs over 15 tons.  It is the one of the largest meteorites ever found, and the largest found to date in North America.  It was “discovered” in the Willamette Valley, Oregon in 1902 by a settler named Ellis Hughs (even though Native Americans had already known about it).  There is no crater at the discovery site which led scientists to believe that the meteorite probably landed in Canada or Montana and was transported via glacial movement to the Oregon site.  Kinda awesome.  I check it out every time I go to NYC.


Ferrante & Teicher play El Cumbanchero

The very first 45 rpm record I purchased, at age 10, was The Theme from Exodus (the movie).  Not from the original sound track, but the version for 2 pianos, arranged and performed by Ferrante & Teicher, the American piano playing duo.  Lately, I have rediscovered their unique magic.  Here is a clip of them performing (on a single piano).

Earth vs The Flying Saucers

Of course, I am a huge fan of Ray Harryhausen*, and I vividly remember seeing 7th Voyage of Sinbad in the theater when I was but a wee kid (scared the shit out of me).  And, most would cite 7th Voyage or Jason and the Argonauts as his finest work.  But my favorite Harryhausen film is Earth vs The Flying Saucers.  I just love the corny and hilarious charm of this film, the creative use of stock footage and the clunky acting (especially the distorted “alien” voice of Paul Frees).

*Every person who was raised in the 1950s and grew up to become a Visual Effects artist is a fan of Ray Harryhausen, of course!

Earth vs the Flying Saucers (title card)

King Kong lobby cards

Behold! Yuja Wang performing Stravinsky’s Petrushka (excerpt)

Stravinsky composed the music for Petrushka as a Ballet in 1910-1911.  The story of a puppet, Petrushka, made of straw and sawdust, who comes to life and develops emotions.  And I am sure it is a real exciting experience.  But I am more interested in this version, the piano version, which was created in 1921 for pianist Arthur Rubinstein (Stravinsky himself could not play it, in fact, I don’t know how anyone can play it, seems insanely difficult, exhausting).  It is a joyful, colorful, modern work of art, a real show stopper, a treat to see performed (especially by the beautiful Yuja Wang!).