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Today would be the 90th birthday of the creator of the lovable green guy Gumby and his pal Pokey that many of us grew up around. The animator, Art Clokey would have turned 90 today.


Gumby made his appearance on the Howdy Doody Show. He was named after Gumbo the clay found on Clokey’s grandparents farm in Michigan. Locals would always refer to the mud that formed from the clay as “gumbo”.  Clokey had a long history of an interest in manipulating clay and from that Gumby and his pals developed. The original clay animation film that Clokey created was called Gumbasia, a combination of Gumbo (his name for the clay) and Fantasia. When he was asked to create a children’s series, he put his seven years of Latin studies to good use by playing around with Gumbo to create the name that we all know so well today — Gumby. Gumbo was his father’s name; Gumbino shortened to “Gumby”. Gumba was his mother’s name.

The type of filming that Clokey learned was kinesthetic film making and clay animation.

According to Gumbyworld:

According to Art, kinesthetic film principles enabled him to show film forces through moving objects. “The movements exert a force on your nervous system. They pinch on your nervous system through your eye cells. When you organize the images in the movement from cut to cut, it stimulates the autonomic nervous system. It gives you added excitement and it can start a feeling of movement.” Vorkapich taught him how to organize the visual so as to stimulate this feeling of movement in the mind and make the film much more exciting than it would be otherwise.

Art explained that filming clay animation is similar to music. “In music you build a climax through the use of timing and intensity of the stimuli—the duration, syncopation and so on.” Vorkapich taught Art that film is “more like poetry and music.” He would refer to the shots and define the cuts as notes: visual notes to combine and use in various ways, to get across your feelings, to delight and create new ideas and things—a new slant on life. You can do amazing things to the autonomic nervous system if you know how to organize these forces. It’s the balancing of repetition, variety, tempo, and just a split-second of rest. It’s all a mysterious combination.”

Clokey studied at an Episcopal Seminary. He and his wife were very religious and desired to create a children’s show with an underlying message. Gumby always followed his heart and did what was right. He found his sidekick Pokey pretty early on. The duo is pretty famous and an important part of a lot of childhoods, mine included.

Interestingly, Clokey would not allow merchandising of Gumby and Pokey early on because he believed that their message to follow their heart would be lost through commercialism. When he began to realize the impact that his clay characters were having on children he created Prema Toy Company years later. Prema is the Sanskrit word for heart. Gumby’s heart and Gumby’s ability to follow his heart were important parts of Clokey’s work.

According to Clokey:

“Well, I would like to see Gumby help teach children human values, so that they can respect each other as human beings and as a big family. They need to know we are all a big family.”

That’s an admirable goal. Together with his later clay animation venture Davey and Goliath which was the longest running children’s show produced by a church, I think he instilled in all of us a lot of good lessons.

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In the world of litigation, anyone can sue anyone for anything. This proposition is of course tempered by the rules for frivolous litigation which penalizes litigants that bring lawsuits which they know have no merit resulting in a waste of court resources. I came across an interesting lawsuit referred to in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog filed by a woman in federal court in Utah against Google for faulty walking directions. The complaint can be found here.

It seems that the woman, looking for walking directions across town, used Google Maps walking directions which placed her on a highway without sidewalks. The woman, who evidently chose to follow the directions verbatim, was struck by a car and injured. She is now suing Google for providing her with dangerous directions.

Frivolous? Ingenious? Her allegations is that by providing directions Google undertook a legal duty to provide safe directions for pedestrians. She alleged that by providing directions which instructed her to walk on a highway with no sidewalk, Google was negligent. It will be interesting to see how this holds up in court compared to the “reasonable person” standard. The plaintiff always has an obligation to act as a reasonable person would act under the circumstances.

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Photo: Doodle4Google

A little girl from Christ the King School in Rutland was one of the regional finalists in the Google Doodle competition to find a new doodle for its search page. The 9-year-old Esa Anderson doodled an awesome picture which is representative of our wonderful state. To read more about this little girl and what’s behind the doodle click here. I think that we should get behind her and vote, vote, vote for this wonderful doodle. Voting is open from May 18th through May 25th. She is the regional finalist in the K-3 age group.  The winner will receive their doodle on on May 27th, 2010. The National winner also receives a $15,000 college scholarship, a laptop computer, a trip to Google’s office in NYC for the May 26th winner announcement, a Wacon digital tablet and a t-shirt with their design printed on it. Oh, and the winner’s school receives a $25,000 technology grant.

Three National Finalists each win Laptop Computers and a trip to the Google NYC office for the May 26th event, in addition to a Wacom digital design table and their own design on a t-shirt.

Each of the 40 Regional Finalists will win a trip to the Google New York office for an event on May 26, 2010 and a t-shirt printed with their doodles on it. All 40 Regional Finalists will also have their doodle displayed in a public exhibit at the Smithsonian’s, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum for 6 weeks after the announcement event.

In the Grade 7-9 division, another Vermonter has taken the title of regional finalist. A 13-year-old from Essex, Vermont won with this doodle.

Please go to the Doodle 4 Google website and cast your vote. You can cast one vote in each age division.

Last August we picked up our baby goats from 4footers Homstead in Jericho,VT. We got them as pets and lawnmowers. Seems that we were ahead of our time. Recently, Google announced that it had brought in herds of goats to mow the lawn at their California headquarters. Now, in today’s paper, the State of Maryland highway department is using goats to mow the lawn on the sides of the highway where there are endangered turtles living. Here’s a link to the article.

Perhaps we need to think about renting out our goats.

Evilwife on the move

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