February 09, 2006
Quotes: Patent Ambiguity
"No, Jimmy, I distinctly said that you can halve your allowance if you mow the lawn. That's why we ask for things in writing."
-- from a cartoon by Jay Love
January 12, 2006
Shows We All Remember
From Network (1976):
Barbara: These are those four outlines submitted by Universal for an hour series. You needn't bother to read them; I'll tell them to you. The first one is set at a large Eastern law school, presumably Harvard. The series is irresistibly entitled "The New Lawyers." The running characters are a crusty-but-benign ex-Supreme Court justice, presumably Oliver Wendell Holmes by way of Dr. Zorba; there's a beautiful girl graduate student; and the local district attorney who is brilliant and sometimes cuts corners. The second one is called "The Amazon Squad." The running characters include a crusty-but-benign police lieutenant who's always getting heat from the commissioner; a hard-nosed, hard-drinking detective who thinks women belong in the kitchen; and the brilliant and beautiful young girl cop who's fighting the feminist battle on the force. Up next is another one of those investigative reporter shows. A crusty-but-benign managing editor who's always gett--
[Diana cuts her off]
December 29, 2005
Led Zeppelin on Marketing
music by Jimmy Page & Robert Plant
lyrics by Mark Davis and Rob "Iceman" Izenberg
There's a lady who goes
To the store that won't close,
And she's shopping at 7-Eleven.
Down the aisle there she sees
Ding Dongs, beer, and Friskies
and a Snickers really satisfies her!
Oooh oooh oooh
Oooooooh, make my Slurpee!
December 06, 2005
Jim Croce on Economic Opportunity
Workin' at the Car Wash Blues
music & lyrics by Jim Croce (1973)
Well, I had just got out from the county prison,
Doin' ninety days for non-support.
Tried to find me an executive position,
But no matter how smooth I talked,
They wouldn't listen to the fact that I was a genius;
The man say, "We got all that we can use."
Now I got them steadily depressin', low down mind messin'
Working at the car wash blues.
Well, I should be sittin' in a air-conditioned office in a swivel chair,
Talkin' some trash to the secretaries,
Sayin', “Here, now mama, come on over here.”
Instead, I'm rubbin' these fenders with a rag,
And walkin' home in soggy old shoes
With them steadily depressin', low down mind messin'
Workin' at the car wash blues
You know a man of my ability,
He should be smokin' on a big cigar.
But till I get myself straight, I guess I'll just have to wait
In my rubber suit a-rubbin' these cars.
Well, all I can do is a shake my head.
You might not believe that it's true.
For workin' at this indoor Niagara Falls
Is an undiscovered Howard Hughes.
So baby, don't expect to see me
With no double martini in any high-brow society news,
Cause I got them steadily depressin', low down mind messin'
Workin' at the car wash blues.
November 19, 2005
Today in History: Sixteen Tons
Fifty years ago today, on February 19, 1955, "Tennessee" Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons, in only its third week on the Cashbox charts, hit number two, making it the fastest-rising single in the country.
I was born one morning when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded Sixteen Tons of Number Nine coal
And the straw boss said, “Well, bless my soul!”
You load Sixteen Tons, and what do you get?
Another day older, and deeper in debt.
St. Peter, don’t you call me, ‘cause I can’t go -
I owe my soul to the company store
One of the interesting things about the song, with its folk-song sound and hardscrabble lyrics, is that it originated in a Capitol Records talent scout's deadline pressure to get out an album quickly:
Cliffie Stone, then an assistant producer and talent scout for Capitol Records, called Merle Travis (a Capitol hitmaker at that time) about recording a 78 rpm album (four discs in a binder) of folk songs. Capitol, seeing the success of a Burl Ives album, wanted their own folk music album. Merle told Cliffie he figured, "Ives has sung every folk song." Stone suggested Travis write some new songs that sounded folky, and to do so quickly; the first four-song session was scheduled for the next day. Travis recalled the traditional Nine Pound Hammer and wrote three songs that night about life in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky's coal mines, where his father worked. One was Dark As A Dungeon, the other, Sixteen Tons.
October 30, 2005
John Glenn on Contract Bids
This story from anecdotage.com:
John Glenn, the first American astronaut in space, was once asked to describe his (presumably profound) thoughts just before taking off into space. "I looked around me and suddenly realized," Glenn replied, "that everything had been built by the lowest bidder!"
[Meredith R. Miller]
October 22, 2005
Aquinas on Changing Laws
But, to a certain extent, the mere change of law is of itself prejudicial to the common good: because custom avails much for the observance of laws, seeing that what is done contrary to general custom, even in slight matters, is looked upon as grave. Consequently, when a law is changed, the binding power of the law is diminished, in so far as custom is abolished. Wherefore human law should never be changed, unless, in some way or other, the common weal be compensated according to the extent of the harm done in this respect.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica (Benziger Bros. edition, 1947)
First part of the second part, question 97, article 2
October 08, 2005
Dame Evans on Long Term Contracts
One day the Reverend Billy Graham was introduced to Dame Edith Evans. "We in the ministry could learn a good deal from you," he declared, "about how to put our message across." "You in the ministry have an advantage over us," Evans replied. How so? "You have long-term contracts."
[Meredith R. Miller]
October 02, 2005
Kanye West on Prenuptial Agreements
Hip-hop superstar Kanye West’s song “Gold Digger” has recently dominated the Billboard charts, and he was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live’s season premier last night. He has been described as “outspoken” and “controversial” after his critical comments about President Bush’s “response” to Hurricane Katrina. Whether or not you agree with his Katrina comments, his recent hit song is candid on another topic nearer to this blog: contract law. The song counsels on the importance of a Prenuptial Agreement:
18 years, 18 years
She got one of yo kids got you for 18 years
I know somebody payin child support for one of his kids
His baby momma's car and crib is bigger than his
You will see him on TV Any Given Sunday
Win the Superbowl and drive off in a Hyundai
She was spose to buy ya shorty TYCO with ya money
She went to the doctor got lypo with ya money
She walkin around lookin like Micheal with ya money
Should of got that insured GEICO for ya moneeey
If you aint no punk holla We Want Prenup
WE WANT PRENUP!, Yeaah
It's something that you need to have
Cause when she leave yo ass she gone leave with half
18 years, 18 years
And on her 18th birthday he found out it wasn't his
From “Gold Digger” off of the Late Registration album (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam 2005) [NOTE: surrounding “EXPLICIT LYRICS” omitted (as defined and determined by RIAA's parently advisory labeling system)].
[Meredith R. Miller]
September 24, 2005
Monty Python on Substantial Performance
From the "Last Supper" sketch. Michelangelo is played by Eric Idle; the Pope is played by John Cleese.
Michelangelo: Good evening, your Holiness.
Pope: Evening, Michelangelo. I want to have a word with you about this painting of yours, "The Last Supper."
Michelangelo: Oh, yeah?
Pope: I'm not happy about it.
Michelangelo: Oh, dear. It took me hours.
Pope: Not happy at all.
Michelangelo: Is it the jello you don't like?
Michelangelo: Ah, no, I know, they do have a bit of colour, don't they? Oh, I know, you don't like the kangaroo?
Pope: What kangaroo?
Michelangelo: No problem, I'll paint him out.
Pope: I never saw a kangaroo!
Michelangelo: Uuh...he's right in the back. I'll paint him out! No sweat, I'll make him into a disciple.
Michelangelo: All right?
Pope: That's the problem.
Michelangelo: What is?
Pope: The disciples.
Michelangelo: Are they too Jewish? I made Judas the most Jewish.
Pope: No, it's just that there are twenty-eight of them.
Michelangelo: Oh, well, another one will never matter, I'll make the kangaroo into another one.
Pope: No, that's not the point.
Michelangelo: All right. Well, I'll lose the kangaroo. Be honest, I wasn't perfectly happy with it.
Pope: That's not the point. There are twenty-eight disciples!
Michelangelo: Too many?
Pope: Well, of course it's too many!
Michelangelo: Yeah, I know that, but I wanted to give the impression of a real last supper. You know, not just any old last supper. Not like a last meal or a final snack. But you know, I wanted to give the impression of a real mother of a blow-out, you know?
Pope: There were only twelve disciples at the last supper.
Michelangelo: Well, maybe some of the others ones came along after...
Pope: There were only twelve altogether.
Michelangelo: Well, maybe some of their friends came by, you know?
Pope: Look! There were just twelve disciples and our Lord at the last supper. The Bible clearly says so.
Michelangelo: No friends?
Pope: No friends.
Michelangelo: You see, I like them, they help to flesh out the scene, I could lose a few, you know I could...
Pope: Look! There were only twelve disciples at...
Michelangelo: I've got it! I've got it! We'll call it "The Last But One Supper"!
Michelangelo: Well there must have been one, if there was a last supper there must have been a one before that, so this, is the "Penultimate Supper"! The Bible doesn't say how many people were there now, does it?
Pope: No, but...
Michelangelo: Well there you are, then!
Pope: Look! The last supper is a significant event in the life of our Lord, the penultimate supper was not! Even if they had a conjurer and a mariachi band. Now, a last supper I commissioned from you, and a last supper I want! With twelve disciples and one Christ!
Pope: Yes one! Now will you please tell me what in God's name possessed you to paint this with three Christs in it?
Michelangelo: It works, mate!
Michelangelo: Yeah! It looks great! The fat one balances the two skinny ones.
Pope: There was only one Redeemer!
Michelangelo: Ah, I know that, we all know that, what about a bit of artistic license?
Pope: Well one Messiah is what I want!
Michelangelo: I'll tell you what you want, mate! You want a bloody photographer! That's you want. Not a bloody creative artist to crease you up...
Pope: I'll tell you what I want! I want a last supper with one Christ, twelve disciples, no kangaroos, no trampoline acts, by Thursday lunch, or you don't get paid!
Michelangelo: Bloody fascist!
Pope: Look! I'm the bloody pope, I am! May not know much about art, but I know what I like!
[Meredith R. Miller]
September 18, 2005
Exam Question of the Day
From: Matt. 18:23-34:
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, “Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, “Pay me that thou owest.”
And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.” And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, “O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?”
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
You are contacted by the Wicked Servant, who claims that the release of his previous debt was valid. The King has claimed that W.S. gave no consideration for the release, and therefore the debt is still owed. Discuss.
September 10, 2005
Bob & Doug on international franchising
From: Bob & Doug McKenzie, The Hoser, Aug. 2005:
Bob: So anyway, we got some burritos and tacos [at Taco Bell] but we didn't order any drinks. We got those at the Beer Store.
Doug: As usual.
Bob: So here's some Mexican beer. [Looks at bottle, reading.] "Cerveza."
Doug: Who's he?
Bob: Huh? He who?
Doug: Sir Veza.
Bob: What the? -- No, look! [Hands Doug the bottle and points.] "Cerveza."
Doug: Oh, what's that mean?
Bob: Beer, I think.
Doug: Ah, so when we're in Mexico we can order some.
Bob: Do they have Beer Stores there?
Doug: No, I think they sell it at Taco Bell.
Bob: Taco Bell?!
Bob: In Mexico?
Doug: Well there's Kentucky Fried Chicken places in Kentucky, I don't see why they can't have a Taco Bell in Mexico.
September 08, 2005
The Singing Brakeman on Railroads
If he hadn't died of tuberculosis at the age of 35, the first true country music star, James Charles "Jimmie" Rodgers, would be 108 today. The "Singing Brakeman," born in Pine Springs, Mississippi, and raised in Meridian, got his nickname from his work on the railroads before disease made him turn to music. Here's his ode to some of the great old railroads of his day. (Images: Wikipedia)
Jimmie the Kid
Words and music by
Jimmie Rodgers & Bob Neville
I'll tell you a story of Jimmie the Kid.
He's a brakeman, you all know.
He was born in Mississippi, away down south,
And he flagged on the T. & N.O.
He yodeled to fame on the Boston Maine,
The Wabash, and the T.P.
From the old Grand Trunk to the Cotton Belt,
He yodeled on the Santa Fe.
On the Lehigh Valley, he yodeled awhile,
Then he went to the Nickel Plate.
From the old Lake Shore and the Erie Line,
He yodeled to a Cadillac Eight.
He yodeled his way to the C. & A.
The Lackawanna and I.C.
He rode a rattler called the Cannon Ball
Then he yodeled on the M.K. & T.
[Click on "continue reading" for the key to the railroads mentioned.]
T& N.O.: Texas & New Orleans
Boston Maine: Boston & Maine
Wabash: Wabash Railroad
T.P.: Texas & Pacific
Grand Trunk: Grand Trunk Railway
Cotton Belt: Cotton Belt Line
Santa Fe: Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe
Lehigh Valley: Lehigh Valley Railroad
Nickel Plate: New York, Chicago & St. Louis
Lake Shore: Lake Shore & Michigan Southern
Erie Line: Erie Railroad
C. &. A.: Chicago & Alton
Lackawanna: Delaware, Lackawanna & Western
I.C.: Illinois Central
M.K. & T.: Missouri, Kansas & Texas (also called the “Katy”)
The "Cadillac Eight" was a popular touring sedan during the Depression. (Image: Wikipedia)
September 02, 2005
Spinal Tap on Record Labels, part II
From Spinal Tap: The Guitar World Interview (April 1992):
GW: How would you describe the relationship you had with your former label, Polymer?
ST. HUBBINS: We have not had good luck with labels. We were on Megaphone for years and years, but they've gone under. What we're really trying to do now is get hold of our back catalog. And Polymer's legal position is that not only can't we have our back catalog, no one should have it.
SMALLS: There's been a lot of publicity about MCA and Polygram [Polymer's parent label] having this lawsuit, and the story is that it's about the rights to Motown, but that's a front, a smokescreen. The real story is all about our back catalog. They couldn't care less about Motown.
August 31, 2005
Spinal Tap on record labels, part 1
From: Spinal Tap: The Guitar World Interview (April 1992):
GUITAR WORLD: Where's Ian Faith, your manager?
NIGEL TUFNEL: Yes, Ian died.
GW: How did he die?
DAVID ST. HUBBINS: Who cares?
TUFNEL: You get news like that and you go, "I'm not even going to ask how."
ST. HUBBINS: He was always prone to apoplexy, because he had very thin English skin and very thick alcoholic blood.
TUFNEL: He was prone to apoplexy and . . . what do they call it? Embezzlement.
DEREK SMALLS: He took everything personally -- including our royalties.
. . .
SMALLS: We have a custom label, a subsidiary of MCA, named in tribute to him --
ST. HUBBINS: -- but mainly because it's a great name.
SMALLS: It's called Dead Faith Records.
ST. HUBBINS: Dead Faith Records, Tapes & CDs --
SMALLS: And Any Other Form Of Recorded Entertainment There May Be In The Known Universe. That's the legal name.
August 27, 2005
Quotes: Rob Roy on Insurance
From Rob Roy, by Sir Walter Scott:
“This is a very singular contract of assurance,” said Mr. Owen.
“It’s clean again our statute law, that must be owned,” said [Bailie] Jarvie, “clean again law; the levying and the paying black-mail are baith punishable: but if the law canna protect my barn and byre, whatfor suld I no engage wi’ a Hieland gentleman that can?--answer me that.”
“But,” said I, “Mr. Jarvie, is this contract of black-mail, as you call it, completely voluntary on the part of the landlord or farmer who pays the insurance? or what usually happens, in case any one refuses payment of this tribute?”
“Aha, lad!” said the Bailie, laughing, and putting his finger to his nose, “ye think ye hae me there. Troth, I wad advise ony friends o’ mine to gree wi’ Rob; for, watch as they like, and do what they like, they are sair apt to be harried [i.e., plundered] when the lang nights come on. Some o’ the Grahame and Cohoon gentry stood out; but what then?--they lost their haill [whole] stock the first winter; sae maist folks now think it best to come into Rob’s terms. He’s easy wi’ a’ body that will be easy wi’ him; but if ye thraw him, ye had better thraw the deevil.”
August 24, 2005
The Simpsons on Contract Law
Homer Simpson runs out of donuts at work, so he sells his soul to the devil in exchange for a donut. (The devil is played by Homer's do-good neighbor, Ned Flanders). At trial, Lionel Hutz, the Simpsons’ attorney, attempts to undermine the devil's testimony regarding the enforceability of Homer's contract to sell his soul for a donut:
Devil Flanders: I simply ask for what is mine.
Lionel Hutz: That was a right-pretty speech, sir. But I ask you, what is a contract? Webster's defines it as "an agreement under the law which is unbreakable." What is unbreakable? Excuse me, I must use the restroom.
From the Treehouse of Horrors IV episode, the Homer and the Devil sequence (first aired Halloween 1993).
[Meredith R. Miller]
August 18, 2005
Tom Waits on Contract Law
From the song Step Right Up:
You got it buddy: the large print giveth
and the small print taketh away
Off of Small Change (1976 Asylum Records).
[Meredith R. Miller]
June 29, 2005
From Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary:
TARIFF, n. A scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.
June 24, 2005
Lunar v. Terrestrial constitutional law
Today is the birthday of Ambrose Bierce. Here's a bit from his Devil’s Dictionary (1911):
LUNARIAN: But this system of maintaining an expensive judicial machinery to pass upon the validity of laws only after they have long been executed, and then only when brought before the court by some private person -- does it not cause great confusion?
TERRESTRIAN: It does.
LUNARIAN: Why then should not your laws, previously to being executed, be validated, not by the signature of your President, but by that of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
TERRESTRIAN: There is no precedent for any such course.
LUNARIAN: Precedent. What is that?
TERRESTRIAN: It has been defined by five hundred lawyers in three volumes each. So how can any one know?