The Vault

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)

Don’t Put It Pasta.

Source: Saveur

Carbs may be persona non grata for some personae but if I have to do a little extra exercise, or accept that my spare tire will be a little more inflated, I’m okay with that because there are many things I won’t do without and pasta is one of them. Or rather the many varieties of pasta, and thanks to 3-D printing there are even more varieties of pasta. I’m pretty sure the question of why there are already hundreds of varieties of pasta, mostly regional could be the subject of a whole book. Heck, last year a journalist did a deep dive into why there was a shortage of bucatini, which, in spite of my love for pasta, I never even noticed, maybe because there are so many varieties, and finally got an answer this year

And then there’s Barilla’s annual 3-D pasta printing contest that invites people to enter designs that couldn’t be made by hand or even conventional pasta machines, like this pasta galaxy:

Source: Saveur

It represents the possible future of food that doesn’t just look good but could be better for us, which seemed like a good excuse for me to bring out this palate-cleansing pop quiz:

Musical term or pasta?

  1. Fusilli
  2. Abbellimenti
  3. Pappardelle
  4. Pizzoccheri
  5. Villotta
  6. Lamento
  7. Mafaldine
  8. Rigatoni
  9. Bamboula
  10. Tutti
  11. Obbligato
  12. Zimbalon
  13. Farfalloni
  14. Jongleur
  15. Passacaglia
  16. Lumaconi
  17. Mandala
  18. Orecchiette
  19. Quadrefiore
  20. Funiculì
  21. Ricciutelle
  22. Quadrettini
  23. Sacchettini
  24. Tortelloni
  25. Epithalamium
  26. Gnocchi
  27. Spatzle
  28. Malagueña
  29. Bucatini
  30. Logorrhea

Each answer is worth 1 point.

1-10 points: Great job guessing!

11-20 points: Your music appreciation/cooking instructor is somewhere saying, “Thank goodness something got through.”

21-30 points: We’re coming to your place for dinner and/or a concert.

Answer key below the video.

 

https://freethinkersanonymous.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/answerkey.jpg

 

Lucky 2021.

This is one of my annual traditions although this year’s class will be held via Zoom.

In recent years St. Patrick’s Day has become controversial because of a maligned and often caricatured minority. I’m referring, of course, to leprechauns. Reviled, mistreated, and still all too frequently portrayed as happy little figures sitting on toadstools smoking pipes even though increasingly they’re switching to e-cigarettes the leprechaun is still the object of prejudice and misconceptions. Many of us, in fact, have passed by or even worked alongside leprechauns, often without realizing it. In the interests of time I’ll just be addressing a few of the most common misconceptions here.

The first is the ancient belief that leprechauns are mischievous, even dangerous creatures. Stories of leprechauns luring travelers into bogs or inflicting injuries on those passing through wooded areas go back as far as the 8th century, but sociologists now agree that such behavior is not characteristic of leprechauns, and is, in fact, quite rare. While there may be some basis in truth for these stories it’s widely accepted that destructive behavior was the act of a minority among leprechauns who, feeling marginalized from the culture as a whole, acted out in anti-social ways. Unfortunately this misconception has been perpetuated and reinforced by stories that are still told to children, as well as in movies, such as the 1993 film Leprechaun, its many sequels including 2000’s Leprechaun in the Hood, and, of course, the 1980 Al Pacino movie Cruising.

There is also a less common misconception of leprechauns as helpful. There are stories of leprechauns discreetly doing farm work, including harvesting, milking cows, and repairing small machinery. Again there may be some basis for these stories, but not all leprechauns enjoy the outdoors or are suited for farm work. Many prefer to work in offices, or seek employment in fields such as shoemaking. This is, of course, not to say that all leprechauns are adept at working with footwear, but many did find this to be an accepted trade. It’s believed this originated from leprechauns making shoes for fairies who, being generally more accepted, would be asked by more common folk where they got such amazing stilettoes. Working as cobblers proved to be profitable even when leprechauns were subject to such fierce discrimination that they were kept out of most cities and towns and had to form their own exclusive villages, commonly known as leprechaulonies.

Stories of farmers rewarding helpful leprechauns with suits of clothes, only to find that the leprechauns considered this an insult and would disappear, may also have some basis in truth, mainly because you can’t expect a leprechaun to wear that coat with those pants, especially after Labor Day.

Finally we come to the most common and persistent belief about leprechauns: that they are hoarders of massive quantities of gold which they keep in pots at the end of rainbows. This belief has been so pervasive that attempts have been made to lure leprechauns with artificial rainbows by everyone from Sir Isaac Newton to the manager of the band Pink Floyd. As a belief it was understandable at a time when people regarded meteorological phenomena as magical, unlike now when it’s understood that rainbows are caused by the refraction of sunlight through water droplets suspended in centaur farts. Because rainbows rarely have ends that reach the ground it’s still not understood how exactly leprechauns could have kept their alleged pots of gold at the ends of rainbows, in spite of several theories advanced by folklorists and experiments attempting to hang pots of gold from rainbows using balloons. A frequently repeated tale is that a leprechaun, when caught, may be forced to give up the location of his pot of gold, but only if the person who caught him keeps his eyes fixed on the leprechaun. In stories of this type the leprechaun often escapes capture by telling the person who caught him that there’s a fierce beast or the Chrysler building just over his shoulder. Folklorists believe that there is some truth in this, but only to the extent that leprechauns seem to have invented the “made you look” joke. Also it’s now known that leprechauns are not inherently wealthy. While there are some who have enjoyed success—the heir to the Lucky Charms fortune, for instance, or Mickey Rooney—leprechauns are no more likely to be wealthy than the general population.That concludes the lecture for today. In preparation for next week read pages 126-153, when we will be discussing genetic mutation and its potential for altering reality. Our lab work will involve real four-leaf clovers, but I’d better not catch any of you wishing for a better grade.

What It Was Was Fantasy Football: 2021 Edition.

Source: qwantz.com. Awesome fun times!

Defending Team

Safety- Tyrann Mathieu

Safety- Daniel Sorensen

Cornerback- BoPete Keyes

Cornerback-Rashad Fenton

Outside Linebacker-Anthony Hitchens

Outside Linebacker-Darius Harris

Middle Linebacker- Lavonte David

End- Ndamukong Suh

End- Tanoh Kpassagnon

Tackle- Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Tackle- Donovan Smith

Wide Receiver-Mecole Hardman

Wide Receiver- Tyreek Hill

Tackle- Khalen Saunders

Tackle- Derrick Nnadi

Guard- Ali Marpet

Guard- Andrew Wylie

Center- Ryan Jensen

Tight End- Travis Kelce

Quarterback- Patrick Mahomes

Fullback- Damien Wilson

Halfback- Charvarius Ward

Receiving Team

Safety-Egg Shen

Safety-King Meshugah

Cornerback-Garet Jax

Cornerback-Dejah Thoris

Outside Linebacker-Thorin Oakenshield

Outside Linebacker-Yog Sothoth

Middle Linebacker-Sandman

End-Ningauble Of The Seven Eyes

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

Tackle-Sir Gawain

Tackle-Mongo

Wide Receiver-Namor Of Atlantis

Wide Receiver-Jareth (reserve for Baron Munchausen)

Tackle-Hellboy

Tackle-Xena, Warrior Princess

Guard-Anita Blake

Guard-The Red Queen

Center-Lessa/Ramoth

Tight End-Lord Voldemort

Quarterback- Schmendrick The Magician

 Fullback-Eeyore

Halfback-Rudy Ruettiger

 

 

Thanksgiving 2020.

This repost is one of my annual traditions. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone except those in countries that don’t celebrate it and the Canadians who are heathens who have Thanksgiving before Halloween , and this year we could really use it.

It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

–Wikipedia

November 25th, 1864

It was even worse than last year. I know every time my family gets together we fall into certain patterns, but that never makes it easier. This time it was even worse because just getting to my parents’ house was such a pain. I thought I’d carriagepool with my younger brother and his wife, but they went up early so that fell through. Then I thought I’d beat the traffic by setting out at dawn, which was such a great idea everybody else in Richmond had it at the same time and the horses were nose to tail, stop and trot, for miles. Finally I got there a little after ten in the morning and my older sister came out already holding a glass of blackberry wine and when she hugged me I could tell it wasn’t her first one. She asked me how things were going and then didn’t wait for an answer and ran back into the house to tell everyone I was there.

I should have known I’d be walking into an argument in the foyer, the way my family is. It’s just what it was about that threw me. My kid brother had this crazy idea for a new way to cook a turkey, leaving the feathers still on and roasting it in the coals of a fire. Well, it sounded pretty stupid to me, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that the neighbors tried the same thing last year and burned down their stable. But I didn’t want to side with my father either. So I said it had been a long trip and I needed to visit the outhouse and slipped out. Well, there was a line at the outhouse: two of my nieces, three cousins, all four of my brothers, and my sister was already in there getting rid of some of that blackberry wine. So I went back inside to see what was going on.

In the parlor my mother was putting together some kind of monstrosity with dead leaves and dried berries that she said she was going to put in the middle of the table.

“Where’s the food going to go?” I asked.

“Well, we’ll move it before we eat.”

I was going to ask why she’d bother to put it in the middle of the table if she was just going to move it again but decided against having that discussion, so instead I sat down and leafed through a broadsheet that was handy.

“The other men are organizing a game,” she said. “It’s some new sport called foot-ball. You should go and join them.”

Well, she knows I’ve never been athletic, but when I protested she got put out with me and said, “It’s your Uncle Wilkes’s idea. You know you’ve always been his favorite. You really should go and do it just to please him.”

FINE.

Well, when I came back in my sister just cackled and toasted me with another glass of blackberry wine. All my mother could say was “Don’t get any blood on the carpet,” and my older brother kept telling me to stop being a sissy and just put some salve on it. Then Aunt Gerda said pinch the back of my neck and tilt my head forward and Uncle Wilkes said no, put pressure between the eyes and lean back, and then my cousins got into it so there had to be a family brawl about that. A day later and I’m still bleeding. So much for the salve. I’ll have to make an appointment with Dr. Samuel Mudd when I get back.

 Then Uncle Aloysius had to start in Daniel about supporting the Whigs and Elizabeth about Suffragettes, just trying to start an argument. Fortunately they didn’t rise to the bait.

Then I tried to head off another argument about who’d have to chaperone the kids’ table by volunteering, but my father cut that off.

“No, no, I want John seated here on my left. After I sent him to that fancy and very expensive school so he could waste his time studying the dramatic arts and oratory he should be well-equipped to deliver the traditional Booth family prayer of thanks.”

Traditional since last year, he means. Then my kid brother kicked me in the shins which I know was his way of saying “Don’t start anything”. I kicked him twice as hard in the shins which was my way of saying, “I wasn’t going to,” and then kicked him again to say, “Hurts, don’t it?”

All this might have been a little more bearable if my sister had let me have some of the blackberry wine.

I swear I’m going to get that Lincoln for making us do this.

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