Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Shaggy-Dog Story

The two characters to the left are probably familiar to anyone over the age of, say, thirty. They are none other than [left to right] Gumby and Pokey. The duo starred in more than 200 short films, painstakingly made by manipulating clay images, one frame at a time, allowing the characters to speak, move, and generally seem as realistic as clay figures can be made to be. They were the creation of Art Clokey, who is also famous as the animator [though not the creator] of legendary Christian-oriented "claymation" characters Davey & Goliath [the denomination I belong to owns the rights to D & G, and allowed them to be used in, of all things, a Mountain Dew commercial, faithful to the images, if not the themes of the originals. At the time, it was announced that the license fee would allow for more Davey & Goliath shorts to be made; they may have been, but I've yet to see them].

Then again, this isn't about D & G, or, for that matter, Gumby and Pokey [a few cynics have expressed questionable theories on the exact nature of their relationship, which can be summarised pretty well by the illustration to the right: my response is GROW UP, PEOPLE! Besides, anyone who watched Gumby films should know that Pokey was a gelding. Those who wish to speculate on Pokey's rich fantasy life are free to do so. This is, after all, America, where clay figures are pretty much free to imagine anything they like].

No, our discussion is centered around Gumby's dog, the incitefully-named Nopey [so named because, despite his obvious intelligence, he could only say "Nope"; one episode pointed out that he could say it in several languages, including Japanese, but still, only "Nope"]. The picture does not do Nopey justice, since you can only see his hind quarters, but it comes from an interesting film. Entitled "Stuck On Books", it points out that, unlike other residents of Gumbopolis [even the evil Blockheads], Nopey was deathly afraid of entering books [Gumby's skill at this was so pronounced that he briefly served as a spokescharacter for the Library of Congress]. After a series of events, including Nopey getting stuck in a book [a situation that Gumby kept saying was impossible], he finally conquered his fears [although I don't remember him doing so in any other Gumby short]. Now, three photos into this posting, we've finally arrived at the point of my thesis; you sure the Hell can get stuck in a book, stuck to the point of never finishing it, stuck to the point that you feel like you never want to read anything again!
A few examples: Lord Of The Rings - I got through the first volume of the trilogy, but about halfway through the second book, I completely lost interest. I didn't give a rat's ass about the hobbits, the halflings, or the humans. I felt sorry for Gollum, but not enough to find out what happened to him [by the way, I was working with one of those "commemorative" volumes that came out with the movies (haven't seen those either). This thing had a complete timeline of the LOTR era, definitions of key terms, an appreciation of Tolkien (who I don't believe was the problem; he needed some major editing, but what writer doesn't), in short, all the signs of people with entirely too much time on their hands]. The volume is now leveling a table in my room.
Moby-Dick - See above for observation on over-written books. I actually came across a suggestion from wit Richard Armour that about half the book [the half in the middle] could safely be ignored. Armour noted, "Ahab isn't the only person who can be a skipper". Unless you truly want to know about 19th-century whaling, still sound advice.
Lord Of The Flies - Kids survive a plane crash, create a neo-primitive society, kill a few of each other, then are rescued by adults, who are disappointed they didn't act more "civilized". It's all you really need to know; the rest is pretty depressing.
Now, what books have you gotten stuck in?
-Mike Riley


Deb said...

I loved Lord of the Flies. I tried to be in a book group once, and every book they selected was a stuck book for me. She's Come Undone was one. Something about Little Altars was another. And then the big stuck: Zora Neale Huston. OMG? But the food was good, so I faked it for awhile.

RE Ausetkmt said...

Gumby and Pokey live ontop of my dh's monitor now...
this was a brilliant post.

glad to find you and I'll be back

Anonymous said...

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