The Vault

Climate Change.

One day the rain just stops. A day goes by, a few days, then a week, then more weeks. You notice that the grass is getting brittle and dry and the ground is rock hard. Then the grass turns the color of sand and even the air seems brittle with the dryness of it. The weather reports become numbingly uniform: sunny every day. Reports of record-breaking temperatures become repetitive. Something in the back of your mind says that this is wrong, but the heat saps any energy you might have for thinking about it.

On your way home from work each night you start counting the number of neighbors who are watering their yards, the ones who stand out because their grass is a patch of emerald in a sea of buff and sepia. You get wicked ideas about sneaking into their yards and cutting their hoses with a pair of garden shears in the middle of the night. Maybe they’ll pay a fine for using so much water.

Maybe you should think about xeriscaping, but this isn’t the desert. The rain will come back eventually, won’t it?

Desiccated tree branches fall in the yard. No need to move them just yet. The lawnmower sits in the garage, its small reservoir of fuel sending out a slow stream of fumes.

One morning you notice a spider hanging in her web next to your house. She’s brown and white speckled with big yellow dots on her abdomen. You saw her early in the spring, just like you watched her mother, her grandmother, and a whole line of her great-grandmothers going back several years.

The lack of rain affects everything up and down the food chain, and you haven’t seen as many rabbits, snakes, or even squirrels as usual. This spider, like you, is not native to North America; her ancestors probably came with yours, around three centuries ago. She’s nocturnal so it’s strange that she’s still out on a sunny morning when the temperature is already higher than it would be at noon in a normal year.

You fill a birdbath in the backyard. You fill another in the front yard. You watch cardinals, bluejays, even a sleek-headed crow dip their beaks in it. You watch squirrels come to drink then flip the birdbath over. It’s only a few minutes before you go to put it back and refill it but the ground is already dry.

You have a side bed of morning glories and other small plants. After the sun goes down you turn the nozzle on the hose to “mist” and you realize you can’t remember the last time you heard a tree frog. They always sing in the dark after it rains.

Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even tsunamis are all horrible, often tragic events that come in suddenly, sometimes with no warning, or not enough warning, but then they disappear, often as quickly as they came. Flood and tsunamis recede, wildfires burn out all their fuel or, hopefully, are stopped, and tornadoes just spin themselves out.

A drought is a tragedy in slow motion.

One day it will rain again and when it does it will be terrible, the water overflowing the earth unprepared to hold it.

Where In The Worldle?

Source: Wikipedia

Of course I’m hooked on Wordle. Every day before I got to work I solve, or try to solve, the puzzle of the day. My average right now is about four tries, mostly because my starting word always seems to be way off. And it reminds me of how back in those days when I’d ride the bus home from work I’d grab a copy of the Nashville Scene and do the crossword puzzle, sometimes the sudoku, maybe even Numberwang. Once a guy sat down next to me and watched me do the crossword, which just added to the pressure. Then he pointed to a five-letter row.

“You could write ‘toast’ in there,” he said.

I pointed out that there was already an R and a V in the row and that “toast” didn’t fit with the clue anyway.

“Fine,” he huffed, “it’s your puzzle, you write whatever you want.” He looked away and I sat for a minute trying to figure out the odds that I’d sit next to the one who didn’t understand how crossword puzzles work, but that’s another story.

I also play Worldle every morning. It’s fun and a little easier than Wordle, mostly because there are fewer countries in the world than there are words in English, and I’ve always liked maps so I think I have a better than average sense of geography. But a few days ago Worldle tricked, I think, almost everybody, with a clue so obscure it was almost impossible. Looking at a map feels like cheating, probably because it’s cheating, but I did, and a friend of mine who also plays every day told me he “spent about an hour swimming around in Google Earth” before finding Bouvet Island. Here’s a quick description from Wikipedia:

Bouvet Island (Norwegian: Bouvetøya[3] [bʉˈvèːœʏɑ] or Bouvetøyen)[4] is a Norwegian uninhabited protected nature reserve. As a subantarctic volcanic island, it is situated in the South Atlantic Ocean at the southern end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, making it the world’s most remote island.

And of course anyone who knows me knows what my first thought was when I found it.

Source: Tenor

That’s really my first thought with almost every location that comes up in Worldle. Sure, Bouvet Island is cold, dark, and there’s nothing there, just like Winnipeg, and it may not be high on my list of dream destinations–tops for me is Sri Lanka, which has fascinated me since I was a kid and heard Arthur C. Clarke lived there. I didn’t even know where Sri Lanka was at the time but I thought it must be a fascinating place. Anyway I wouldn’t turn down a chance to visit Bouvet Island. Or anywhere else. Even Winnipeg.

Anyway, because it’s that day there’s also this:

 

 

 

What It Was Was Fantasy Football: Superbowl LVI Edition.

Team 1 Roster

QB-Matthew Stafford                  

RB-Joe Mixon                  

WR-Cooper Kupp                         

WR-Tee Higgins              

WR-Odell Beckham Jr.                 

TE-C.J. Uzomah              

LT-Andrew Whitworth                

LG-Quinton Spain                         

RG-Austin Corbett                        

RT-Isaiah Prince              

DE-A’Shawn Robinson                 

NT-D.J. Reader                

DT-Aaron Donald                         

OLB-Von Miller               

OLB-Leonard Floyd                       

ILB-Ernest Jones                           

ILB-Troy Reeder              

CB-Chidobe Awuzie                     

CB-Darious Williams                    

SS-Vonn Bell                    

FS-Taylor Rapp 

Team 2 Roster

QB-Jareth (reserve for Baron Munchausen)

RB-Xena, Warrior Princess

WR-Dejah Thoris

WR-Yog Sothoth

WR-Rincewind (filling in for Falkor, currently out with COVID-19)

TE-Sir Gawain

LT-Mongo

LG-Aquaman

C-Lessa/Ramoth

RG-The Red Queen

RT-Hellboy

DE-Eeyore

NT-Schmendrick The Magician

DT-Ningauble Of The Seven Eyes

OLB-Thorin Oakenshield

OLB-Dejah Thoris

ILB-Garet Jax

ILB-King Meshugah

CB-Floyd Lawson

CB-Sandman

SS-Damaya/Syenite/Essun

FS-Rudy Ruettiger

 

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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.
Respectfully,
Smedley Force, The Walt Disney Corporation
Department of Legal Affairs, Copyright Infringement
Division of Written Materials (spec. Talking Animals)

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