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Posts Tagged ‘Disney

Many Happy Returns…

 

The Free Music Archive has found a replacement for the most recognizable– and probably the most lucrative– song in America– “Happy Birthday To You.”  Together with WFMU, FMA ran a contest to find a new copyright-free (and free to use) “Happy Birthday” song…

The “Happy Birthday To You” melody was published in the late 1800s by two sisters who taught elementary school, and it was registered for copyright, as “Happy Birthday To You” in 1935. Time Warner acquired the copyright in 1998. The song reportedly brings in two million dollars a year from licensing for films, TV shows, advertisements and the like; it won’t enter the public domain until 2030 at the earliest.

WFMU thought it was dubious that the song still deserves copyright protection, but rather than mount a court challenge, it sponsored a competition for a new birthday celebration song. Among the judges were Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan.

As WFMU says, the new song puts the happy back into birthdays, and takes the cease and desist out of them.

The winning tune, by  Monk Turner + Fascinoma lacks the opportunity to shout out the birthday person’s name; but there is room to build in a call and response element. You can download the sheet music in the key of B (pdf, google doc) or the key of C (pdf, google doc). Also, check out the alternative versions of the song including two piano tracks and an instrumental version.

And you can hear it, playing behind Bloomberg Law’s recounting of the case, here:

[TotH to Laughing Squid]

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As we hum a different tune, we might send public domain birthday greetings to Wilhelm Carl Grimm; he was born on this date in 1786.  The younger of the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob collected and published folk and “fairy” tales… a great many of which, freely available as they are in the public domain, have been used as the texts of animated and live action films that are– and will for decades be– under strict copyright protection (c.f., for example, this list of Disney films based on fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and others).

[Cake photo sourced here; Grimm, here]

 

Written by LW

February 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

Please, Please, Please…

He was “the Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” “the Godfather of Soul”– James Brown.  Immensely popular with audiences from the mid-Fifties (when “Please, Please, Please,” above, was a hit), he was a tremendous influence on popular music, with admirers who included jazz greats like Miles Davis, and emulators like Sly and the Family Stone, Booker T & the MGs and “soul shouters” like King Curtis, Edwin Starr, and David Ruffin (of The Temptations).  He was a famously-tough task master as a band leader; but it served his musicians well, as their education at his hands laid the foundation for several successful solo careers (e.g., Bobby Byrd, Lyn Collins, Vicki Anderson, Hank Ballard, Bootsy Collins, and Carlos Alomar).  And he was the ur-source of Funk (e.g., admirer George Clinton cast Brown alumni Fred Wesley and Bootsy Collins centrally in the seminal Parliament-Funkadelic).

But Brown made what was arguably his most influential contribution with his feet: he was, as anyone who saw him perform can attest, an astonishing dancer.  As a child, he’d earned pocket money buck dancing to entertain troops headed to Europe at the outset of WWII.  Over the years he made that traditional form uniquely his own– inspiring performers like Michael Jackson and Prince, who modeled their moves on his, and prefiguring the current vogue of dance-centric pop performances.

James Brown died on Christmas Day, 2006.  But happily, he left behind a guide to the moves that made him famous.  The holiday party season, with its fraught occasions to dance, looms; but there’s no reason to fear, Dear Readers– just watch and learn.  Michael Jackson did…

 

As we trip the light fantastic, we might recall that it was on this date in 1946 (when James Brown was 13 years old) that Walt Disney released Song of the South, a feature film based on the Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris, in which live actors frame animated enactments of the adventures of Br’er Rabbit– like the story of “The Tar Baby.”  The film won the Best Song Oscar for “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”; but, while the film was re-released theatrically in 1972, 1981, and 1986, and has been released to home video in Europe and Asia, it has never been released to home video in the U.S.— perhaps because Disney executives feel that it might be construed as racist.

James Baskett, who played Uncle Remus, was the first black actor hired by Disney to play a live role.  He was unable to attend the film’s premiere in Atlanta, the event hotels there would not have him. (source)

 

Tap, tap, tap…

There’s a certain elegance in the the earliest typewriters–  all of that mechanical complexity wrestled into utility.

The first commercially successful typewriter– the “Sholes & Glidden Type Writer”– was brought to market in 1874 by Christopher Lathem Sholes, with backing from Carlos Glidden and manufacturing support by Remington & Sons.

The lure of the clear communications (and the market it could create) made possible by typewriters attracted inventors and tinkers by the dozens.  Over the next 25 years, dozens of variations were tried (e.g., curved keyboards, double keyboards, no keyboards…) were tired; but by the turn of the Twentieth Century, the basic parameters of the typewriter-as-our-parents-knew-them were settling into place.

Martin Howard is an Englishman, living in Toronto– and curating a marvelous collection of early typewriters.  (Martin came by his passion in the family way:  his dad was an academic who studied antique mechanical objects.)  Happily for those of us who share his passion, he has sublimated his collection onto the web. At Antique Typewriters: The Martin Howard Collection, one can find a veritable “Burgess Shale” of machines dating mostly from that last part of the Nineteenth Century…  machines like these:

As we limber our fingers, we might might wish an animated “Happy Birthday” to Ub Iwerks, who was born on this date in 1901.  Iwerks met Walt Disney when they were teenagers, working together at a Kansas City art studio.  Iwerks followed Disney to California, and spent most of his career as one of Disney’s lead animators (though Iwerks did do stints at MGM and Warner Bros.).

Iwerks created Disney’s first hit character, Oswald the Rabbit.  But Disney lost the rights to Universal, and had to ask Ub to go back to the drawing board.  Iwerks first came up with with a female cow (who later morphed into Clarabelle) and a male horse (who later became Horace), but Walt wanted something different.  So Iwerks created a mouse…

Ub Iwerks

Tres exclusif…

I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member…
– Groucho Marx

From DreyX, “Ten Places You Can’t Go“…  for example:

Since 1967,  Disney’s Exclusive Club 33: Walt Disney felt that he needed a special private place where he could entertain sponsors and other guests. After he had died Disney Land decided to make Club 33 open only to special members and their guests. Located at at the heart of New Orleans Square at Disney Land, it gives the members and their guests exclusive access to the club’s restaurant, and the premises which are not open to the public at large. After Disney’s death Club 33 had opened itself with special limited memberships to the public. As of June 2007, the membership waiting list was 14 years, and membership interest list was closed to new inquiries as of April/May 2007.

Or

Metro-2 in Moscow: Russia has a secret underground metro system which parallels the public Moscow Metro. The length of Metro-2 is rumored to exceed even that of the “civil” (i.e. public) Metro. (It is said to have 4 lines and lie 50 to 200 m deep. It is said to connect the Kremlin with the FSB headquarters, the government airport at Vnukovo-2, and an underground town at Ramenki, in addition to other locations of national importance. In the late 1940s Stalin had created the tunnels in the event of a nuclear war. In 1994, a group of urban diggers had stumbled on to the underground system. Though not much more information is known known to the public about this.

See the other eight– from the Vatican’s Archive to Area 51– here.

As we manage our aspirations, we might frame a close-up of D.W. Griffith, a father of cinema, who arrived in Los Angeles on this date in 1910 in search of a sunny climate and a range of scenery.  With a stock company that he brought with him (including such future luminaries as Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish), Griffith began producing one- and two-reelers for Biograph.  After shooting over 450 shorts for Biograph, Griffith struck out on his own to make his powerfully-influential– but equally-powerfully controversial– Birth of a Nation (1915).  On the heels of the criticism (and in some quarters, riots) that greeted this history of the Civil War and the Ku Klux Klan, Griffith made Intolerance (1916), meant to prove his opposition to racism; at $2.5 million, it was by far the most expensive film ever made– and ruined Griffith financially.  But he rebounded, and in 1919 co-founded United Artists with Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin.  To this day, the highest honor bestowed by the Directors’ Guild of America is “The D.W. Griffith Award.”

David Llewelyn Wark Griffith

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