American Graffiti.

Some people call it ugly. Some people call it art. I call it urban enhancement.

A World In A Grain Of Sand.

Back in 2009 the artist Kseniya Simonova won Ukrayina Maye Talant–or, in English, Ukraine’s Got Talent with a dynamic sand painting. Here’s a description of it from The Guardian:

Here, she recounts Germany conquering Ukraine in the second world war. She brings calm, then conflict. A couple on a bench become a woman’s face; a peaceful walkway becomes a conflagration; a weeping widow morphs into an obelisk for an unknown soldier. Simonova looks like some vengeful Old Testament deity as she destroys then recreates her scenes – with deft strokes, sprinkles and sweeps she keeps the narrative going. She moves the judges to tears as she subtitles the final scene “you are always near”.

There’s nothing I can add to that, really, except to say that it’s tragic that Simonova, like more than a million other Ukrainians, has probably been forced to flee because of a senseless, brutal attack on her country. But here’s another of her works from February 2022, and her description:

This sand story is about men, it’s called «Heroes» and tells a simple thing: heroes not only fight or are on war… heroes are among us, in everyday life. They heal, build, save, repair, cook, draw, create…. and not only. Real heroes are those who can help. For example, a husband who helps his wife at home, in the kitchen. Or plays with kids. The one who shares love. The one with alive heart and soul.

Get Back.

Source: WebCanvas

So a friend sent me a link to WebCanvas saying, “You’ll like this. It’s like graffiti but online.” Well, okay, but isn’t that sort of what the whole internet is? We take it for granted now and social media sites have homogenized a lot of our online interactions—which can be added to the long list of reasons they’re terrible—but even from its earliest days the internet has been a space, albeit one bound by certain technological limits, where people can express themselves creatively. I even remember when it was harder to use. Websites usually had some pictures and a lot of text and you could do a lot of scrolling. A 1999 article from The Onion, “Dean Cain Fanpage Last Updated 8/14/96” was funny and also reminded us that even if we had a website updating it could be a slow, tedious process.

I also remember when you could read articles on The Onion without being bombarded with ads, and also when certain websites would bombard you with pop-up ads, and when some sites had annoying “frames”, but that’s another story.

Then people started getting really excited about “the Web 2.0” that promised to be more open, more interactive. Blogging became a big thing, and suddenly, instead of being mostly static, websites were not only updated regularly but people could comment, share thoughts, get into conversations, get into fights. A 2015 article from The Onion, “Man Wistfully Looks Around Website He Hasn’t Visited For 30 Minutes”, was funny and reminded us how quickly things were changing.

WebCanvas, for reasons I can’t quite explain, seems like a throwback to the early days of the internet. I think a lot of it is the scrolling, and the MS Paint quality of a lot of the artwork. I thought it would be fun to add something of my own to it. You can post over other peoples’ work but I purposely moved around to what seemed to be an empty space. Then I created an account and, well, went to MS Paint and did a quick picture of my own.

This is the mostly empty space but I liked the neighborhood.

And this is my picture. Done in MS Paint, of course.

And my login failed. I tried a dozen times or so to get in, tried resetting my password, and even tried creating a new account. All of it failed. And that was the biggest flashback to the old internet yet: it’s hard, if not impossible, to get in and update it.

Anyway here’s another flashback.

Putting It Off.

Source: Facebook, Library Displays

So I’m really bad about procrastinating. Or, depending on how you look at it, really good at procrastinating, if you ever get around to looking at it. And I’m pretty sure the last two years have made my tendency to procrastinate even worse. Work goes along just fine–maybe because there’s always some new problem coming in, but sometimes when I sit down to write…well, in the process of writing this paragraph I’ve washed dishes, taken dogs out, and folded a load of laundry.

Maybe I shouldn’t even be writing about this. Once in a creative writing class I got an assignment to describe a place. It could be any place, but sometimes the brain can be the most annoyingly contrary organ. Any other time I doubt I’d have trouble thinking up a place and describing it, maybe even making it interesting, but, given the assignment, I flailed. And feared I’d fail. Finally I went to the library and shut myself in one of the study rooms and went through every idea I could think of. That took all of two seconds. I sat down and tried just writing, letting the words flow, getting everything down, and two hours later…

Source: Make A Gif

I ended up describing the study room but also all the trouble I was having coming up with something to write and when I got the paper back the teacher had written on it, “Writing about writing is the most boring thing imaginable and I couldn’t even finish this.” Yeah, I understand–I could barely finish it myself, although I’m not sure reading about it was half as bad as living it. And what made it even worse is that just a few days before I’d been saying that having a deadline was a great way to inspire creativity, at least for me. Other assignments I’d start writing as soon as I got them–if not on paper then in my head. Sometimes I’d have the first several paragraphs and a conclusion mentally composed by the time I left the building. I’d just made the mistake of saying that out loud and my brain snickered and said, “Yeah, that’s what you think.”

On the bright side while I was putting off this I went and checked and it turns out there’s Fight Procrastination Day which is September 6th each year, so I’m well ahead of schedule to be ready for that, although there’s also National Procrastination Week which is the first two weeks of March, which is making me kind of panic because that’s coming up soon, although it also says “or when it’s convenient”. So I’ll celebrate that when I get around to it.

Judge A Book By Its Cover.

Source: ABE Books

Several years ago a friend told me he had an idea for a series of science fiction stories set in and around a pub. And I said, “Oh, you mean like Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales From The White Hart?”

And he sighed and said, “I guess I should have known someone already had the same idea.”

Well, original ideas really are hard to come by, and since my friend hadn’t said anything more specific before I opened my fat mouth maybe what he had in mind wasn’t anything like Clarke’s book which is mostly set in a British pub called The White Hart and focus on a regular named Harry Purvis who tells stories of everything from a machine that can capture and replay sensory experiences to an accident just outside a nuclear power plant that’s not as bad as it sounds, most of which sound pretty questionable, but Harry assures the other pub regulars that the stories all really are true.

I felt bad for possibly shutting down my friend’s idea but I tried to reassure him that almost every writer has borrowed ideas, and that a creative retelling can be just as good as, if not better than, a really original idea. Heck, Clarke got the idea for Tales From The White Hart from the writer Lord Dunsany who wrote over a hundred and fifty stories about a man named Joseph Jorkens who regales members of his club with stories. Anyway if you want a truly original story you’re probably going to have to go back to the first humans squatting around campfires.

Some time later I bought a copy of Tales Of The White Hart in a used bookstore and sent it to my friend because I thought he’d enjoy it, and he did, but I also thought the cover,  was kind of funny because it had nothing to do with the book itself. I think the conversation at the publisher’s went something like this:

“All right, we need a cover for the Arthur C. Clarke book. You got anything?”

“Science fiction, right?”


“Well, I’ve got this picture of two giant ants staring out over an apocalyptic landscape.”

“You got anything else?”

“Not really.”

It’s a cliché that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but, come on, if that were true cover designers wouldn’t put so much effort into making interesting covers, and besides, how are you even going to know you want to read a book if you don’t look at the cover first?

Tales From The White Hart has had a lot of editions, some with better covers than others. Here are a couple of good ones:

Source: ABE Books

Source: Amazon

This also reminds me that a different friend gave me an anthology of Tamil pulp fiction collected from Indian magazines, and in addition to the stories it had reproductions of covers and pictures, as well as a letter from an editor to the readers that said, “Our last issue included a picture of a man being attacked by a giant red-eyed cat. Many readers contacted us to say there was no such story in the issue. We apologize and have included a story with a man being attacked by a giant red-eyed cat in this issue.”

Good job, editor. Give the people what they want.

I Like My Coffee Like I Like My Coffee.

So a pizza place sent out a flier in the mail with coupons and a message that said “Stop in for a sweet treat with your sweetie” and a picture of a molten chocolate cake and next to that a cappuccino with a naked man in the foam. And let me just back up and say that I’ve checked their online menu thoroughly and can’t find molten chocolate cake, or any desserts, on there, and I looked really hard, which is also what their cappuccino is doing.

Yeah, yeah. Source: Tenor

Now about the naked man in the cappuccino…which apparently was an honest mistake, the sort of thing that happens when someone who puts together small business advertising doesn’t take an original picture of their own food and instead grabs something from the internet that looks okay and just stick it in there.

I know the pizza place is really embarrassed and sorry about what they did, although, as Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” and most people outside of the area probably never would have heard of Chiaro’s Pizza before this and now they’ve inspired a million “I like my coffee like I like my men” jokes, but, seriously, this should be a warning to not just pull a random image and run with it. If they serve cappuccino—and I looked really hard for that too and couldn’t find it on the menu—surely someone could whip out their phone and take a pretty good picture. Good enough for a flier that’s going out in the mail and that would have been destined for a lot of recycle bins, although, admittedly, now they’ve made the fliers into collectors’ items.

And, seriously, I always like getting a cappuccino or espresso that has a design in the foam. There is a machine, the Ripple Maker, can take any image and create Instagram-worthy foam art, but that personal, human, individual touch is so much better, and now I’m going to be looking a lot more closely at every coffee I get because the pizza place reminded me of the joke about the psychiatrist who shows a patient a picture of a house and says, “What do you think of when you see this?” The patient says, “Sex.” The psychiatrist shows him a picture of a car and says, “And this?” The patient says, “Sex.” The psychiatrist shows him a picture of a tree. The patient says, “Sex.” The psychiatrist says, “Obviously you’re obsessed with sex.” And the patient says, “Well you’re the one with all the dirty pictures.”

And you can see the original flier in all its glory here.


The Reactor.

This might be my new profile pic.

So I thought about making a reaction video to reaction videos. I have the technology but then so does almost everyone else which is why there are millions of reaction videos on YouTube. And let me clarify that, since there are a lot of videos in the genre of [blank] reacts to [blank] I’m talking, here, anyway, about the specific subset of people watching and reacting to movies—mostly popular movies that they’re seeing for the first time. Anyway I was afraid that making a reaction video to a reaction video would cause a pop culture singularity, so I thought, why not write about ‘em instead?

I get that watching someone watch a movie instead of actually watching a movie sounds ridiculous, but I’ve kind of gotten hooked on reaction videos, although with a couple of qualifications.

First, they have to be watching a movie I’ve already seen and know pretty well. Most reaction videos are edited down, maxing out at around thirty minutes, which means a lot’s been cut if they’re watching a full-length movie. So obviously there’s a lot of context I’d miss, plus all those spoilers.

Source: Vanity Fair

The benefit, though, is that it’s like watching a favorite movie with a friend who’s never seen it before. Even though I’ve never met any of the people whose reaction videos I’m watching they’ve decided to watch a movie I like, so at least we have that in common, and a lot of friendships have been built on less.

That brings me around to the other quality I look for: people who comment on the movies they’re watching. Normally I prefer it when people don’t talk through a movie—except for the time I saw Pulp Fiction in the theater and, in the opening minutes, the couple behind me got into a whispered argument about whether they’d seen John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson together in a TV show and it was so weird it almost seemed like it was part of the onscreen action.

I’ve found a few reaction videos where people just…watch…the movie. They might laugh or gasp but other than that, well, it’s as boring as it sounds. When I was in school I took a film class and one of the movies we watched was Psycho. I’d already seen it but most of the other students hadn’t, and, while no one spoke, you could feel the tension in the room, and I got a thrill out of knowing what they were feeling. That emotion doesn’t come across through a computer screen so it helps to have some interaction, something that provides insight into what they’re thinking. Maybe that’s why some of my favorite videos are made by couples or small groups where one person is introducing the others to a movie he or she already knows. And I can relate to both. I know what it’s like to share a favorite film with a friend, but also—and this is the real appeal of reaction videos—experiencing someone else’s response to seeing a great film the first time takes me back to how I felt when I first saw it. It’s also great when people who’ve worked in film can take in a scene, relate it to their own experience, or share insight into how it might have been constructed. Reaction videos can make the familiar unfamiliar, and there’s a special joy in that.

It’s been two years since I last saw a movie in a theater—my favorite place to see a movie, any movie. And in that time it’s been really hard for me to sit down and watch a movie, even ones I’ve seen, never mind new ones, without distractions creeping in. It’s not been a great feeling, but reaction videos remind me why I still love movies.

Bedtime Stories.

Some books on my bedside table.

Supposedly more adults are listening to bedtime stories now. I say “supposedly” because until recently there wasn’t much of a means of tracking what people listened to, or even if they did, before falling asleep, but now there are podcasts like Get Sleepy and Sleep With Me. There are also apps like Breethe and Calm, which offers among others, the voice of Matthew McConaughey, and I know more than a few people who’d like to sleep with him and wouldn’t consider just listening to his voice to be a reasonable substitute, but that’s another story.

If these work for people I think that’s great. And while the apps are probably collecting user data it’s not as bad as Coors Beer trying to insert advertising into peoples’ dreams.  But I also feel compelled to speak up for those of us who make reading part of our nightly ritual. Most of us, I think, are lifelong readers, probably starting with adults who read to us and then we took over as soon as we learned to read ourselves, although my late father-in-law only really started reading when he was in his seventies, and surprised me once by saying, “You never know what you’ll find in a book.” Well, yeah. It was one of those things I’d always known to be true but, ironically, had never really put into words. The same is true of something said by Dr. Christine Won, associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and the medical director of Yale Center for Sleep Medicine, quoted in the New York Times article “Bedtime Stories Are For Adults Too”:

More bedtime reading.

A bedtime story works by detracting the mind from self-sabotaging thoughts and worries, which allows the body’s adrenaline to come down so the brain can transition into the sleep state…A story, more so than music or background noises, is more likely to force the stubborn mind’s attention away from whatever is causing emotional distress.

And, again, if listening to a story works just as well or even better than reading one for you, that’s great. Not everyone’s mind works the same way so different strokes for different brains. Personally I find listening to something goes better with walking or other physical activity. Reading might too–and I’ve tried reading while walking, but it usually makes it hard to see where I’m going. And listening to a story I’d be more likely to stay up because I wouldn’t want to miss what comes next. Sometimes I have that same problem with a book, although I also find it easy to pick up where I left off. And I’m the one who decides when to stop reading, not Matthew McConaughey.


Half-cocked Tails.

Source: gfycat

Campbell’s, the soup company, and also the inspiration for some of Andy Warhol’s iconic works, has come out with recipes for savory cocktails, or, as they’re calling them, “brothtails”, and it would be really easy to make fun of them for this so of course I’m going to make fun of them for this.

Actually they’ve gotten a lot of flack from other bloggers who have actually tried the concoctions and also a whole hilarious segment on Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me! and it got me thinking about cocktails generally, which have made a strong comeback in recent years, and which date back to at least the early 19th century. At least that’s when the word “cocktail” first came to mean a mixed drink, although they really became popular during Prohibition when something was needed to mask the taste of all that bootleg alcohol that was mostly made from old furniture, but that’s another story.

The Campbell’s “brothtails” aren’t exactly a new idea either. The Bloody Mary, which dates from some time between 1920 and 1930, is basically alcoholic gazpacho, and there’s also the Bunny Mary, made with carrot juice, which was the perfect thing during Prohibition to keep that bootleg rotgut from making you go blind, and margaritas and salty dogs have been around long before people thought of adding salt to candy, mainly chocolate and caramel, to give it a savory kick.

There’s also the term “cocktail” as it came to be used in the late 19th century for a dish, usually an appetizer or a side, usually made up of small pieces—hence fruit cocktail, the staple of school lunches everywhere, and shrimp cocktail, lobster cocktail, and oyster cocktail.

And now we get to the part where I really do make fun of Campbell’s for two aspects of this new marketing ploy that seem, well, spectacularly boneheaded but which no one has brought up before. First of all they came out with these “brothtail” recipes at a time when a lot of people are practicing “dry January” after the excesses of December, especially New Year’s Eve. A good friend of mine has spent the month making some excellent “mocktails”, some sweet, some savory, basically just playing around with different non-alcoholic drink ingredients, proving you don’t need to be drunk to be sophisticated.

The other problem with the “brothtails” is the broth bases Campbell’s is suggesting aren’t sold in the United States–the closest they get is Canada–which is an enormous missed opportunity. By all accounts “brothtails” are terrible, but that doesn’t matter. We Americans are known for our willingness to try anything, even if we just do it so we can make fun of how bad it is.



You Don’t Have To Smile.

A friend and I were talking about Lego sets, and Lego in general, and how “Lego” is a plural noun kind of like “data”, but the main thing is it reminded me I had this hand-me-down box of Lego when I was a kid:

Source: WorthPoint

When I was four or five and first started playing with it I didn’t have the manual dexterity to fit the blocks together very well so I couldn’t build anything big, and there were no instructions. It may also have been missing some pieces so it was a few bricks shy of a load. But I still had fun playing with it, and the pictures on the box made me laugh. Even at four or five I had a cynical understanding of advertising and I was used to most products featuring pictures of smiling people, people who looked like all their problems were magically solved by whatever was in the box when we all knew they’d be lucky if whatever was in the box did what it was supposed to.

The kids on the Lego box, as you can see, do not look happy. It’s like the photographer said, “Okay, kids, this is a fun toy and you’re having a great time with it, so I want you to look like you’re taking a math quiz you haven’t prepared for!”

It’s almost like they were trying to copy the expression of someone who’s stepped on a Lego brick in their bare feet. In the dark. On a tile floor. With a full bladder.

To be fair I probably had those same expressions on my face when playing with Lego, so, hey, real truth in advertising, and I was having fun, which is all that mattered. As I got older and better at building stuff I even got new kits, and part of what was really cool was that even though they added some new things, like minifigs, the bricks from that old kit fit in perfectly with the new ones. And a cousin who had a bunch of Lego came and stayed with us for a while and our sets sort of cross-pollinated, and about a week after he left he mailed me a small box of bricks with a note that said “I think these are yours.” I think he still had some of mine, but that was okay–I had some of his, too.

This set kept me occupied for months. Source: Brickset

And the amazing thing is if my old set wasn’t probably taking up space in a landfill somewhere the bricks would still fit in with new sets. In a world where most things, especially toys, are expected to be obsolete in a short time it’s genius that Lego found a design that worked decades ago and stuck with it. It’s not surprising the company started in the Great Depression so they aimed for durability, but also with a hopeful attitude that creativity would keep things going, and they’re still hopeful about the future, looking for ways to make their bricks environmentally friendly and their factories carbon-neutral.

I know I’m not saying anything new or different about Lego, but then that’s kind of the point. They’re solid and reliable and better than a math quiz you haven’t prepared for.

The Domain of 2022.

Picture taken from the short story “The Good-natured Bear” by Richard Henry Horne, published 1878, digitized by Google, and pretty much forgotten since then.

It’s really exciting to me that, among other works, the original Winnie The Pooh has entered the public domain as of January 1st, 2022. So has Bambi, another work that a certain megalithic corporation has claimed, but I feel kind of a personal collection to the characters of the Hundred Acre Wood since my mother got the idea to name me from Milne’s works, and at the time “Christopher” seemed like an unusual name, which is probably why a lot of other mothers got the same idea at about the same time. That’s why a high school friend of mine, also named Chris, once said to me, “Yelling ‘Hey Chris!’ in the hall is like going to a Cure concert and yelling ‘Hey, you in the black!'” but that’s another story.

While I get the need to protect an artist’s work for a while–Mozart might not have died poor if he’d been able to collect royalties on the wildly successful run of Don Giovanni in Prague–works entering the public domain always prompts a new burst of creative reinterpretation, especially since writers have been borrowing, adapting, and outright copying since, well, probably before there was even written communication, and at least as long as there’s been recorded history. The writer Spider Robinson summed up the trouble with permanent ownership in his short story Melancholy Elephants.

I’m just saying it’s fine for artists to make money from their works but once they’re gone there’s a time to, you know, let it go. And it seemed like it was that simple until I received this:

From: The Walt Disney Corporation
To: Christopher Allen Waldrop
Subject: Winnie The Pooh
Dear Mr. Waldrop,
Regarding recent reports of Winnie The Pooh and associated characters (excluding Tigger) now being in the public domain I would like to inform you that Winnie The Pooh(tm) and all associated characters, as well as all motion pictures, including but not limited to theatrical releases, television shows, and direct-to-video productions, as well as all toys, board games, or other products and merchandise bearing the names or likenesses of Winnie The Pooh(tm) and all associated characters, and all written materials about Winnie The Pooh(tm) and all associated characters are the sole property of The Walt Disney Corporation. Any use of or reference to Winnie The Pooh(tm) and all associated characters and settings, including but not limited to the childhood home of Christopher “Robin” Milne, son of A.A. Milne, and The Hundred Acre Wood(r) is forbidden without the express permission of The Walt Disney Corporation. This includes any and all quotations as well as parodies, which are not covered by the statute of Fair Use, as determined by summary legal judgment (cf. Disney v. Keaton, Disney v. Ellison, Disney v. Fleischer, Disney v. Thames Television, etc.).
I am aware that you may attempt to reply to this notice by citing, paraphrasing, or plagiarizing a letter from Julius “Groucho” Marx to the Warner Brothers Film Studio, sent when said film studio objected to the Marx Brothers’ use of the name “Casablanca” in the title of their film “A Night In Casablanca”. I realize that Mr. Marx’s reply included, among other things, an implied threat of a countersuit because the Marxes had been brothers before the Warners. I know you are familiar with this letter because you checked out the book Life With Groucho by Arthur Marx from a local academic library on August 25th, 1996, at 12:24PM CDT. You subsequently returned said book on September 17th, 1996, at 6:48AM CDT. At both times you declined to pay $0.40 in fines which you owed for a previous book (The Bedbug & Selected Poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky) which you had checked out but did not read. I am also aware that you have described Mr. Marx’s correspondence with Warner Brothers in reference to stories of allegedly ludicrous or egregious copyright infringement suits on blogs where you comment under the pseudonym “Spunky The Wonder Squid”.
It is my duty to inform you that The Walt Disney Corporation has acquired The Marx Brothers, including, but not limited to, all motion pictures, television appearances, and written materials, as well as assorted paraphernalia or any likeness of said Brothers (cf. Disney v. Menkmann Bros., producers of a “fake schnozz” with mustache and glasses). I must therefore ask that you cease and desist quoting from or paraphrasing Mr. Marx’s letter, as well as any other quotes, actual or attributed, or making any references to The Marx Brothers(c) herewith without the express permission of The Walt Disney Corporation.
Regarding your use of the name “Spunky The Wonder Squid” I must also inform you that The Walt Disney Corporation has acquired the entire television series Night Flight, which ran on the USA Network as well as in syndication from 1981 to 1988. This acquisition included the eight-episode parody series “Dynaman”, later repackaged, with additional or replacement sequences, but with all humor and music by the B-52’s removed, as “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, subsequently “Power Rangers”. I must therefore ask that you cease all use of the name “Spunky The Wonder Squid” without the express permission of The Walt Disney Corporation.
In addition I must further inform you that The Walt Disney Corporation has acquired or has always had ownership of the following: The Muppets, Star Wars, Looney Tunes, the complete works of Jules Verne, Star Trek, Dangermouse, the complete works of Theodore Geisel (AKA “Dr. Seuss”), Forbidden Planet (1956), The Twilight Zone (TV series), The Twilight Zone (song, acquired with the complete catalog of Golden Earring), The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as well as its sequel and all related materials including but not limited to the stage production, The Creature From The Black Lagoon and all subsequent sequels and remakes, Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Little Shop of Horrors (1986), the complete works of Kurt Vonnegut, the complete works of Eleanor Cameron, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and all productions of Python (Monty), Ltd., Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Body Snatchers (1993), The Invasion (2007), the complete works of Arthur C. Clarke, the entire country of Sri Lanka, the following TV series not previously listed: The Kids In The Hall, You Can’t Do That On Television, M*A*S*H*, Cheers, Jeopardy!, Doctor Who, the complete filmography of Stanley Kubrick, the complete filmography of Peter Lorre, the complete filmography of Mel Brooks, the complete works of Virginia Woolf, the complete works of Amadeus Mozart, and “Freckles”, the neighborhood Springer Spaniel whom you played with from ages four through thirteen, and who was the sire of your dog “Friskie” (patent pending). Since there is a chance, albeit small, that you will respond to this letter with Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down”, I must warn you that several years ago Mr. Petty signed a contract giving ownership of his soul to Hell, Ltd., in exchange for becoming a “triple threat” (singer/musician/animated character). As a result of a 1995 merger The Walt Disney Corporation acquired all property and individuals owned at the time by Hell, Ltd., as well as several relevant personnel. (Mr. Beelzebub, a former CEO of Hell, Ltd., is now The Walt Disney Corporation’s Vice President in charge of Human Resources.) Quoting from Mr. Petty’s song, including use of the phrase “I won’t back down” is not allowed without the express permission of The Walt Disney Corporation.
The Walt Disney Corporation is now also the sole owner and licensor of the following: the epic of Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Book of The Dead, the Illiad and Odyssey by “Homer”, the complete works of William Shakespeare, Samuel Clemens, Emily Dickinson, Jules Verne, Publius Ovidius Naso, and other materials previously considered to have been available as part of the public domain. This acquisition occurred as part of recent legislation passed as an addendum as provided by a codicil in the 1998 Copyright Extension Act, section 42, subsection L, which specifically provided The Walt Disney Corporation authority to extend all copyrights past, present, and future to infinity and beyond. These items are owned in toto, as is the dog Toto, as part of The Walt Disney Corporation’s acquisition of all print and motion picture versions of The Wizard of Oz, as well as all related materials, sequels, remakes, etc. The Walt Disney Corporation also owns the band Toto. However as your inability to sing in any key renders the song “Africa” unrecognizable to anyone but yourself we do not feel it is necessary at this time to request that you cease and desist singing it in the shower.
Finally, due to what our legal department has deemed “an uncanny resemblance” to the character “Gepetto” as drawn by Walt Disney himself the Walt Disney Corporation has acquired sole rights to the brother of your paternal grandfather Mr. Allen Jackson Waldrop, AKA “Uncle Jack”.
I must therefore ask that you cease and desist quoting from, paraphrasing, or referring to any material licensed and owned by The Walt Disney Corporation without prior express permission granted in writing. Failure to do so will result in a minimum fine of $25,000.00 per infringement as well as imprisonment in an undisclosed location (known forthwith as “the unhappiest place on Earth”) for no less than five years. As The Walt Disney Corporation has just acquired the complete works of Franz Kafka our legal department has determined that such requests may, in themselves, be determined to constitute infringement if they mention by name any character, personage, or item owned by The Walt Disney Corporation.
Smedley Force, The Walt Disney Corporation
Department of Legal Affairs, Copyright Infringement
Division of Written Materials (spec. Talking Animals)

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