Celebrate ‘Thing Day’ this week

Published 2:31 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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h, Halloween, a day that is — considering the candy it will cause children to consume for the next few weeks — like Black Friday for dentists.

But, it’s not Halloween that I want to tell you about, today.

Instead, I want to tell you about another special calendar day, one hardly recognized except among a small coterie of movie aficionados who celebrate it with the catchphrase, “An intellectual carrot. The mind boggles!”

I am, of course, talking about “Thing Day,” named in honor of the 1951 sci-fi/horror classic, “The Thing from Another World,” which occurs this coming Wednesday, Nov. 2.

The action in that movie begins on Nov. 2; thus, “Thing Day.”

The movie stars Kenneth Toby as Captain Patrick Hendry (get it?) and Margaret Sheridan as Nikki Nicholson.

Some movie promotional photos portray Hendry carrying Nicholson unconscious from fright or danger.  Pure male promo chauvinism no doubt since, in the movie, Nicholson not only drinks Hendry under the table but also coolly comes up with the way to defeat The Thing when all the rough, tough Army guys and brilliant scientists are clueless.

James Arness played The Thing him bad self, slinging a prop railroad tie in this movie with as much authority as he did a six-shooter in “Gunsmoke.”

Christian Nyby gets credit for directing the movie, but Howard Hawks was the un-credited co-director whose cool touch is smoothly evident from the adept characters to the moody sets to the fabulous wisecracks that pepper the film’s script.

Hot shot flyboys tangle with a vampire vegetable in the Artic. A subplot of the movie is that vegetable is sowing its kind in the scientists’ greenhouse. With this movie, Hawks was sowing the seeds of post-modern cinema.  The movie is (barely) based on John W. Campbell’s classic sci-fi short story, “Who Goes There.” Hawk’s version is better.

The library has a DVD of “The Thing from Another World.” It is also available through Netflix, and free online at Dailymotion.

You can find the text to Campbell’s story (only in print in out-of-print anthologies) online at Free Speculative Fiction Online, the Internet Archive, or download it using your library card through Kentucky Libraries Unbound.

Make this week a celebration triple header: Halloween tonight, The Day of the Dead Tuesday, and Thing Day Wednesday.

Spoo-oo-oo-Ki!

Just take it easy on the sweets and remember to floss.

Other programs this week:

— At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kentucky author, artist and amateur archaeologist Al Cornette presents a fascinating lecture about his new book, “The High Rock Petroglyph of the Red River Gorge.” Al speculates that the petroglyph portrays a shaman with connections to the Mayans. Al will also display some of his new art work based on the High Rock Petroglyph. Al’s program is a great prelude to Thing Day, too, because he’s a SETI advocate.

— At 2 p.m. Wednesday, Kentucky Picture Show presents a 2015 film about an aging widow from New York City who follows her daughter to Los Angeles in hopes of starting a new life after her husband passes away. Rated PG-13.

— At 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Beyond the Book, Community Education’s new book group, meets to discuss Kristen Hannah’s “The Nightingale.”  Participants should bring their own copy of the book. For more information, contact Community Ed at 745-3946.

— From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, make your day as colorful as the Kentucky landscape by joining the Outside the Lines Adult Coloring Group. You don’t have to attend the whole session. Drop in any time you like; stay as long as you like.

And as reporter Ned Scott warns at the end of The Thing, “Watch the skies! Keep watching the skies!”