October 27th, 2006

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thankful free culture

I read this week an interesting mass e-mail by Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford Law School professor who is one of the moving forces behind the Creative Commons movement. He wrote about the concept of a "sharing" culture of people motivated by other things than vocational need. He made clear that he was not trying to force anyone to sing for free. He instead was pointing up the world of people who start things like wikipedia.

Today, not for the first time, I thought about not only sharing but acknowledgement. I can think of two friends who do wonderful work--one an artist and one a musician. They both share their work with others for free over the internet. Each gets tons of downloads and views. But neither gets many simple notes of thanks.

I am not good about thank you notes for gifts and things, so I understand how people get careless.
Yet I think about the importance of attribution and acknowledgment in this new open source-ish culture we all evolve slowly but surely. Credit is often denigrated, but credit matters too--a simple word, a smile, a nod, an inscription in the guest book. It takes so little to thank so many for so much. I will remember this.

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gumby, gosh darn it.

Although the television show ER shows surprising new life, promise and worth this year, this life, promise and worth did not restrain the show from being a rerun last night.

Fortunately, my lunchtime visit to the 99 cent store turned up more than just the Giant Magnet with which I am now hoisting paper clips skyward.

I got a DVD with eight episodes of Gumby programs on it. These are the six minute episodes from the 1950s, including Art Clokey, Gumby's creator, original student film project, "Gumbasia", which does not, strictly speaking, feature Gumby at all, except in that generic way that we are all made of the same clay. Gumby always inspired me when I was a kid, because I realized that his claymation was something accessible and do-able and not over-blown and overdone.

I will note parenthetically that just as I had hazel eyes while my younger sibling had wonderful blue eyes, I was the one with the Pokey figurine while he owned the Gumby. But we all need a little Pokey in our lives.

We really enjoyed the episodes, other than, perhaps, the ethnic humour about native Americans when Gumby and Pokey visit this really cool desert landscape. The 1950s Gumby had a vigor and home-made charm about him moreso even than the 1960s childrens' show.

I served my term in the Heaven and penitentiary which is childhood in the 1960s, when odd men called the Beatles caused people to scream in Shea Stadium and curious shoes called red ball jets made one run faster and jump higher. It was a time of decoder rings, mutually assured destruction, men in capsules orbiting the moon, and an entire nation in secret, unrequited love with Elizabeth Montgomery. Gumby was of those times, but has proven timeless unlike those times.

I read today about Gumby's history. I was delighted to find that Clokey Productions is still up and running. I like that Art Clokey, Gumby's creator, and his wife, a key role player, met in Concord Seminary. It seems so very non-Burbank-backroom to me. I like that they had their studios in Glendora, which is this wonderful ranch house tract home foothills town in the San Gabriel Valley, where roses bloom and a cool mist can settle over a Saturday while the mountains haze in the background.

I am pleased that we have more animated and childrens' movies these days. I'd like to see more animation for adults as well. I don't mean, particularly, animation for adults in some nod-nod-wink-wink adult sense. I mean stories plotted and told for adults using animated figures. Though I love claymation, I'd be happy with virtually any animation. To me, a lot of science fiction, for example, could be told in animated form.

I like the one in which tons of Gumbys play tons of musical instruments. I like the idea of Gumby and Pokey having robots mow the lawn,and then the robots go wild. I like the narrator's voice. I often think life should have a narrator's voice.

Watching Gumby makes me want to make a huge animated GIF movie, and post it on a website, for everyone to see for free.
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Waving at Doctor Love

Tonight I post an essay I wrote in this very journal as a spoken word track, titled, appropriately enough, "waving at doctor love".

To hear the post, click here.

The vocals are mine. The keyboard sample I morphed from Moorthy's "for your love", while the percussion is Mikhalt's "spii beat". More information on Moorthy and Mikhalt is availalbe at ccmixter.org.