1581: "Birthday"

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1581: "Birthday"

Postby Hremsfeld » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:33 am UTC

Image

Title Text: I guess I need to apologize to my parents, friends, and the staff at Chuck E. Cheese's for all the times I called the cops on them.

I'm assuming there was a ruling, but I'm having trouble finding it; did a court rule that Happy Birthday was public domain?

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby JimsMaher » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:34 am UTC

You're welcome. And thank you.

Re: copyright ... Pending impending appeal, the claims of copyright on singing the lyrics are invalid since lyrics, specifically, never transferred and were demonstrably never enforced originally.

::obligatory "that's layman speak" notice::

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby bachaddict » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:52 am UTC

Warner/Chappell Music Inc. does not own a valid copyright on “Happy Birthday To You,” a California federal judge ruled Tuesday in a class action decision that plaintiffs’ attorneys say puts the world’s most recognizable English language song into the public domain.

In copyright records, court records and several agreements over the use of the "Happy Birthday To You" song, nowhere was there discussion of the lyrics, according to Tuesday's decision in California federal court. (Credit: AP) U.S. District Judge George H. King found that Warner had... [paywall]
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:15 am UTC

Saw birthday cake. Had no raptors, bobcats, or molpys. Would not buy again.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Echo244 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:16 am UTC

cellocgw wrote:Saw birthday cake. Had no raptors, bobcats, or molpys. Would not buy again.


But was it a lie?
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Ephemeron » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:38 am UTC

It still sounds cringeworthy when the person you're singing about has four or more syllables in their name.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby puppysized » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:40 am UTC

If there's someone with a long name, I delete the "Dear", that gives them a little room...but yes, still cringeworthy.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Scei » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:44 am UTC

-comic that actually made me make an account-

Oddly enough, today is actually my birthday, so when I checked XKCD today only to find this comic up, I was both excited and afraid. Basically a "How the heck did he know?" scenario, and yes, I too was disappointed by the lack of bobcats.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Eternal Density » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:51 am UTC

I delete the dear with three syllable names, but other members of my family don't, leading to dissonance.

Chuck E. Cheese's
That is not how plural is formed.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby JudeMorrigan » Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:34 pm UTC

Eternal Density wrote:
Chuck E. Cheese's
That is not how plural is formed.

Not sure it was intended to be a plural rather than "Chuck E Cheese's [restaurant]".

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby orthogon » Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:41 pm UTC

Here's the BBC's article on the story.

I don't really understand the ruling. According to the judge:
Judge King wrote:The Hill sisters gave Summy Co the rights to the melody, and the rights to piano arrangements based on the melody, but never any rights to the lyrics
But the plaintiff's lawyer said
Mark Rifkin wrote:none of [our research] showed that the publisher owned anything other than copyrights to four very specific piano arrangements
Those are quite different: apart from in print it's unlikely that the "lyrics" could be used without the melody, so how does the ruling affect its use in films etc.? It seems that the melody is the crucial element and the ruling appears to favour Warner/Chappell in that respect.

In any case, the lyrics are not exactly Cole Porter. Three of the lines are the same; 50% of the entire libretto is the surely already well-known phrase "Happy Birthday"; 25% (or more if you drop the "dear") of the third line is authored on the fly by the performer, which only leaves "to you". If there's any significant intellectual property in the song it surely resides in the tune.

IANAL.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Beavertails » Wed Sep 23, 2015 1:14 pm UTC

Can xkcd really be as old as Calvin & Hobbes was when Watterson retired?

Wow....

Happy 10th, Randall!!!!
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby slinches » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:28 pm UTC

Orthogon, the way I understand it is that "Happy Birthday to you" is a lyrical variation on an older song called "Good Morning to All". The copyright on the older song expired so the tune itself is public domain, but the combination with the Happy Birthday lyrics was still claimed by Warner. This ruling invalidates that claim on the basis that there's no evidence that the company who owned "Good Morning to All" had a right to claim the Happy Birthday variant.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:16 pm UTC

Copypasting what I've already said elsewhere:

This is kind of a disappointing resolution after all this time. I'd always gotten the impression that people arguing that the song should be public domain didn't actually know or necessarily care how old it is, and were more about the idea that it's such a simple, commonplace song that of course it must be in the public domain. You know, like there ought to be an equivalent of genericized trademarks for music. And while there's no provision for that sort of thing in U.S. law currently, it was an interesting idea that I'd have liked to see get more attention and discussion. It's not like there aren't other songs that could still benefit from it — Christmas songs from the '30s and '40s, anyone?

Still, the idea that Warner might have to give back all the money they've ever collected from people for using the song is hilarious and I'm hoping it happens because Warner Music is just the worst. Like, even compared to the RIAA in general.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:17 pm UTC

With a couple of million dollars at stake, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a while to actually get a ruling on the royalties collected over the last few decades.

And, man! Copyright lasts a ridiculously long time...

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Yabasays » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:05 pm UTC

It is a very appropriate birthday!
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby keithl » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:22 pm UTC

I have a little plush-and-plastic battery-powered toy "birthday cake" made in China, with little feet on the bottom, which dances and sings the "Happy Birthday" song while flashing the red LED on the fake candle on top, to the accompaniment of grinding plastic gears.

I bought it from "the world's best toy store" in Seattle. Is it just a coincidence that this ruling came on the SAME DAY as China's general secretary Xi Jinping arriving in Seattle to visit the US????

I don't think so - expect millions of toy birthday cakes to flood out of the Chinese planes, marching across America singing Happy Birthday while seizing control of birthday parties nationwide. Over the next year, we will all be hypnotized by these fiendish contraptions to submit to Chinese ways. In 2017, we will eat tofu birthday cakes with chopsticks. All because America did not protect its most strategic song from foreign takeover!

Not that tofu birthday cake isn't yummy ...

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Keyman » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:32 pm UTC

Wait, wait, wait.... Somebody wrote that song??
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby orthogon » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:54 pm UTC

Keyman wrote:Wait, wait, wait.... Somebody wrote that song??

It's surprises me every time I'm reminded about it, and yet after further consideration it's the surprise itself that seems to require explanation. Of course somebody wrote it, and why shouldn't it have been relatively recently? My guess is that we subconsciously confuse the feeling that we've known it virtually all our lives with the notion that the song itself has been around for ever. Or a slightly different angle: we've known it so long and heard it so often that it seems like a trivially simple, obvious melody, whereas in fact it's only the words that are simple and the tune itself is reasonably sophisticated.

(A common exercise for instrumentalists is to try playing "Happy Birthday" by ear in all 12 keys. It's much harder than you think it's going to be: the melody contains minor and major seconds and thirds, a perfect fourth and fifth and - the real killer - a minor sixth. The apparent childish simplicity just makes this more frustrating.)

ETA: There's also an octave interval in there.

ETA2: If you want to be diatonic about it, it uses all 7 notes of the major scale. Another gotcha: it starts on the dominant so you have to be careful when agreeing with the band what key you're going to play it in.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby San Fran Sam » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:32 pm UTC

IIUC, the court decision invalidated the copyright on the lyrics, but not the melody. By including the note symbols you have infringed on the melody's copyright.

Take him away boys.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby senor_cardgage » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:43 pm UTC

It's funny. I was just reading an article on this ruling. After that, the very next page I visit is XKCD, and I see this.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Whizbang » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:58 pm UTC

It is almost as if occasionally he does topical comics...

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Sep 23, 2015 7:20 pm UTC

San Fran Sam wrote:IIUC, the court decision invalidated the copyright on the lyrics, but not the melody. By including the note symbols you have infringed on the melody's copyright.

Take him away boys.

No, the melody has been out of copyright for a long time. The only thing claimed to be under copyright was the combination of the melody with the lyrics. Now that the claim on the lyrics is invalidated, the entire thing is out of copyright.

I want to take this opportunity to complain about damn kids on my lawn: it drives me absolutely nuts to see people on YouTube writing "I DO NOT OWN THIS! No copyright infringement intended!" on their copyright-violating reposting of someone else's copyrighted material. Like they think that copyright violation is the same thing as plagiarism, and so long as you don't claim you made it yourself, and are clear that it's someone else's work, you're fine. I'm not complaining here about the act of copyright violation, but about the widespread misunderstanding of what it even means. Also, the same damn kids talk about something "getting copyrighted" in a way that apparently means being taken down due to claims of copyright violation. And don't even get me started on conflating copyrighting with copywriting. So you'll see a video of, say, Mickey Mouse singing Happy Birthday, with a notice "I DO NOT OWN THIS! No copywrite infringement intended!" and top comment "Nice! Hope you don't get copywrited!" and augh cringe so much cringe.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby jc » Wed Sep 23, 2015 7:34 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:
Chuck E. Cheese's
That is not how plural is formed.

Not sure it was intended to be a plural rather than "Chuck E Cheese's [restaurant]".


Indeed, and I'd guess that Randall's calling the cops on them didn't have much effect. Rather, we should expect to read that Chuck E Cheese's lawyers are joining the class-action suit against Warner Music to recover the royalties paid for decades to cover their staff's singing for birthday parties.

(As for the confusion over the apostrophe, it's probably a case of Dave Barry's observation that in modern American English spelling, the apostrophe is mainly used to warn the reader that there's an s coming up.)

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby kaiken1987 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:49 pm UTC

So here's my question 1581 comics/3 a week = 527 weeks. 10 years = 520 weeks. That's 21 extra comic. There's a couple of leap days in there so 19. Then you have 1337 (https://xkcd.com/341/) which if I remember was posted over a week so that's minus 2. What are those extra 17 comics from?

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Coyoty » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:57 pm UTC

Now what is the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit going to do with its time?

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby kevsgrove » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:03 pm UTC

kaiken1987 wrote:So here's my question 1581 comics/3 a week = 527 weeks. 10 years = 520 weeks. That's 21 extra comic. There's a couple of leap days in there so 19. Then you have 1337 (https://xkcd.com/341/) which if I remember was posted over a week so that's minus 2. What are those extra 17 comics from?


IIRC Parody Week was another 2 extra, although I seem to recall several missing comics before Lanes, which swings the balance in the other direction.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby keithl » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:06 pm UTC

Coyoty wrote:Now what is the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit going to do with its time?
What they were formed to do - attack Disney's competitors.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby senor_cardgage » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:52 pm UTC

Don't know why there's any confusion about Chuck E. Cheese's. Chuck E. Cheese is the name of the giant mouse, and it's his restaurant, hence Chuck E. Cheese's.

One big turning point for me growing up was when I went into Chuck E. Cheese's with a friend, and it no longer seemed fun. I think that day marked the end of my childhood.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby senor_cardgage » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:55 pm UTC

kaiken1987 wrote:So here's my question 1581 comics/3 a week = 527 weeks. 10 years = 520 weeks. That's 21 extra comic. There's a couple of leap days in there so 19. Then you have 1337 (https://xkcd.com/341/) which if I remember was posted over a week so that's minus 2. What are those extra 17 comics from?


A year isn't exactly 52 weeks. It's actually 52 1/7 weeks (except for leap years), so you get an extra 4 or 5 comics just from that variance.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby keithl » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:11 pm UTC

kevsgrove wrote:
kaiken1987 wrote:So here's my question 1581 comics/3 a week = 527 weeks. 10 years = 520 weeks. That's 21 extra comic. There's a couple of leap days in there so 19. Then you have 1337 (https://xkcd.com/341/) which if I remember was posted over a week so that's minus 2. What are those extra 17 comics from?
IIRC Parody Week was another 2 extra, although I seem to recall several missing comics before Lanes, which swings the balance in the other direction.

The xkcd.com site had a soft startup. It was registered on Jan 26. 2003 (according to whois), and was Randall's hobby site for a couple of years. For example, see this Internet Archive screen capture from October 24, 2004: https://web.archive.org/web/20041024201 ... .221:8080/
My guess is that the first dozen drawings were scans from Randall's notebooks and doodles, all dumped in there at once. And then new cartoons were aperiodic after that. The first capture I can find on the Internet Archive with a front page cartoon was Tuesday October 18, 2005 "Kepler", which is #21 in the current numbering scheme, and it refers to 3/wk. If that was the Monday cartoon captured a day late, then #1 was on Wednesday, August 31, 2005. There are a lot of 404s for the captured pages before that.
AFAIK, the first cartoon that turned into merchandise was #55 Science. Someone else (with more patience than me) can look at the Internet Archive captures and figure out the actual rates.

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby BobSquirrelKing » Thu Sep 24, 2015 1:25 am UTC

This ruling makes me very happy (and thanks for letting me know about it Randall). Ever since I first learned about this "song" still being under copyright It has pissed me off (especially since the ones who copyrighted "Happy Birthday to You" did not have the rights to "Good Morning to All" IIRC).

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby chridd » Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:58 am UTC

Explain xkcd says there were 13 comics posted on the first day. It also shows some comics that weren't uploaded Monday, Wednesday, or Friday:
5-day weeks: Parody Week, Choices, 1337, Secretary, The Race, Guest Week
It also looks like some earlier comics weren't as regular... plus, there's also 404.

(Edit to add: There were also some more recent comics on other days: April Fools Day comics, Eternal Flame, and Pluto, but it appears those all replace the following day's comic, thus not affecting the number of comics.)
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby addams » Thu Sep 24, 2015 4:12 am UTC

senor_cardgage wrote:Don't know why there's any confusion about Chuck E. Cheese's. Chuck E. Cheese is the name of the giant mouse, and it's his restaurant, hence Chuck E. Cheese's.

One big turning point for me growing up was when I went into Chuck E. Cheese's with a friend, and it no longer seemed fun. I think that day marked the end of my childhood.

oh, How Sweet.
I remember Chuck E, Cheese, too.
I was an adult.

I had a child of the target age of the audience in my life.
Chuck E, Cheese advertised on television.

I lived 350 miles from the nearest Chuck E, Cheese.
I had shirt-tail relatives in the area.

I made an Exodus to Chuck E, Cheese for a birthday celebration for a five or six year old child.
We had reservations. Chuck E, Cheese was going to be like DisneyLand!

When we arrived, the electricity was non-funtional.
Did you realize, Chuck E, Cheese has No Windows?

It was dark and weird in there.
The children blamed Me!

I drove on into the city landscape following the directions of the staff.
We found another Chuck E, Cheese that Did have the magic of electric.

(sigh) The pizza was not great.
That was not thousand dollar pizza.

The television advert made it seem like thousand dollar pizza.
Through the eyes of children, it was worth it. Right?

EDIT: And; Happy Birthday to xkcd.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby The Chosen One » Thu Sep 24, 2015 5:42 am UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:
Chuck E. Cheese's
That is not how plural is formed.

Not sure it was intended to be a plural rather than "Chuck E Cheese's [restaurant]".

Just to be clear, if it were intended to be plural, would the correct form be Chucks E. Cheese('s)?
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby Eternal Density » Thu Sep 24, 2015 5:51 am UTC

As a non-American I know nothing about the restaurant chain in question.


Also, I'm sure I remember the short film Wallace and Gromit and the Wrong Trousers had a musical birthday card which played the tune of Happy Birthday - I have strong memories of such - but the version on Google Play which I watched this year had the tune of For He's a Jolly Good Fellow.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby phlip » Thu Sep 24, 2015 6:01 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:Also, I'm sure I remember the short film Wallace and Gromit and the Wrong Trousers had a musical birthday card which played the tune of Happy Birthday - I have strong memories of such - but the version on Google Play which I watched this year had the tune of For He's a Jolly Good Fellow.

Don't worry, you're not going mad. At least about this, anyway.
Wikipedia wrote:In the original airing of the film, Gromit's birthday card plays "Happy Birthday to You" as it is associated with birthdays in Australia and North America. When the film was released on DVD by Warner Home Video in 2000, and by DreamWorks Home Entertainment SKG in 2005, this was replaced with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to avoid copyright infringements.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby sfmans » Thu Sep 24, 2015 6:55 am UTC

orthogon wrote:Another gotcha: it starts on the dominant so you have to be careful when agreeing with the band what key you're going to play it in.


Which is also why it so often gets sung in an awkward key - someone will start the tune on a note in the middle of their range for the first 'Happy', then find that's set it way too high for the latter stages of the tune.

And yes, if called upon to play the tune it's good practice to agree to *start* on a D rather than calling the *key* of G (other leading notes and keys are available) to avoid a splendid but probably inappropriate Stockhausen-influenced rendition ...

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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby orthogon » Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:06 am UTC

phlip wrote:
Wikipedia wrote:In the original airing of the film, Gromit's birthday card plays "Happy Birthday to You" as it is associated with birthdays in Australia and North America. When the film was released on DVD by Warner Home Video in 2000, and by DreamWorks Home Entertainment SKG in 2005, this was replaced with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to avoid copyright infringements.

Presumably in the byzantine complexity of the modern multinational corporate world, the Warner of Warner Home Video is unrelated to the Warner of Warner/Chappell? Or were they seriously concerned that they might sue their own ass?

(This reminds me of how, if a T-Mobile customer from the UK goes to Germany, and their phone roams onto the T-Mobile DE network, one T-Mobile charges the other T-Mobile punitive connection fees which the UK T-Mobile has simply no choice but to pass on to the customer. They'd be only too happy if they could agree to charge themselves less, but sadly discussions with themselves repeatedly break down.)

Also "... it is associated with birthdays in Australia and North America"? What about Messrs Wallace and Gromit's own native country?

ETA

sfmans wrote:Which is also why it so often gets sung in an awkward key - someone will start the tune on a note in the middle of their range for the first 'Happy', then find that's set it way too high for the latter stages of the tune.

And yes, if called upon to play the tune it's good practice to agree to *start* on a D rather than calling the *key* of G (other leading notes and keys are available) to avoid a splendid but probably inappropriate Stockhausen-influenced rendition ...


It usually ends up that way in any case. Everybody starts at once, and nobody knows what key it's going to be in, so it takes most of the tune before any kind of consensus is reached; even then the "performers" might cluster around more than one key, especially in a large room. It's the kind of thing John Cage might come up with.
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Re: 1581: "Birthday"

Postby chalkie » Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:29 am UTC

orthogon wrote:It's the kind of thing John Cage might come up with.


He was played by Peter MacNicol wasn't he? What a great character. I always enjoyed the shortness of Calista Flockhart's skirts.

(I really hope i got the apostrophes and esses right in my possessives and plurals given the previous discussion!)


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