Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baby, You Don't Belong

There are zillions of movie trailers posted all over the internet. The movie studios don't seem to have a problem with this, so it was that I posted the Japanese trailer to Disney's Lilo & Stitch online when it had disappeared from Disney's Japanese site.

It makes for interesting academic study of the vastly different approach to the movie used by the Japanese ("One lonely girl; one lonely alien" who form a friendship) compared to the U.S. approach ("There's one in every family" wild untamed monster), and an example of the different way that trailers are made in general, e.g., characters doing their own voiceover bits, and use of an "image song" cross-promotion.

But now that trailer has been taken down because of a copyright claim by Warner Music Group. Yes, a Disney trailer, taken down by Warner.

This is because of the "image song". Disney commissioned WMG to produce an "image song" for Lilo & Stitch. An excerpt of it -- Baby, You Belong by Faith Hill -- is included in the trailer. Indeed, the trailer was the song's world premiere. This is how the business of "image songs" works. They're inspired by the movies, then included in trailers with the information written on the screen of the artist and album name, and also are promoted on web sites along with the movie. And it goes both ways; e.g., the music video for this song includes clips from the movie.

So it seems that WMG doesn't know that the excerpt of the song is in the trailer because they put it there. It plays for all of five seconds (enough to hear "Baby, you belong / Baby, you belong") toward the end of the trailer before it fades into the background and Japanese voiceovers go on top of the rest of the chorus.

Although there are hundreds of movie-trailer sites online, I can't seem to find any information on how or if they got permission to display the movie trailers. It might just be a case of "turning a blind eye", which means I can't go back to YouTube and point out that Disney allows the trailer to be posted. I could theoretically protest the claim by pointing out that WMG licensed the song to be put into this trailer, but as I don't own the trailer, I'm not sure that would help much.

So I might have to let the trailer die (which would be unfortunate for the academic comparison reasons stated above), or I can replace the audio on it with random music YouTube allows, and put up a big Annotation on the video explaining that WMG was so stupid that they don't know about their own marketing. I could still potentially put up Annotations that present the dialog in the trailer (I'd have to work on transcribing some of the Japanese; I can understand parts of it already), even without the audio... and quietly offer the original audio to those who ask.

It's really a shame that something like this gets taken down, yet people get away with posting full episodes of TV shows that are out on DVD, and even full extras from DVDs. I really hate seeing that stuff online, because it's perfectly available for sale. Excerpts, fair enough, but not the whole shebang. I keep getting asked if the Animaniacs "deleted scenes" that I have posted are on the DVDs. Duh, no. If they were, I wouldn't have posted them!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Low

Our company sells products through our web site, but we also accept purchase orders on 30-day credit terms from companies if the order value is over $1000. Anything lower than that must be pre-paid by using our web site or sending a check or bank wire, because we just don't have the manpower to go chasing after our money constantly when people don't pay up after 30 days.

Yet occasionally, companies do fax us POs for under the $1000 minimum.

Today, a company sent a fax with a purchase order expecting 30-day credit terms on a purchase of two small ribbon cables totaling $3.80.

Sorry -- you expect us to print two extra copies of the invoice and mail them to you, wait for your check, then spend even more postage to mail that $3.80 check to our bank? I don't jolly well think so.

We didn't even call them to tell them to place the order on our web site; the amount of time it would take to pick up the phone and call them is worth more payroll than that!

And now... the saga of "Duh, Hey, Louie!" Better known as DHL.

As you may not know, DHL, just a couple years after buying out Airborne Express to get into the U.S. domestic shipping market, has now left the U.S. domestic shipping market with an announcement that they "are still committed to our U.S. customers" -- just for international shipping.

One of our vendors in Austria shipped some inventory recently to our location in California. When it didn't turn up for a while, we checked with DHL. "Oh whoops. Your package was mistakenly shipped to Philadelphia. We'll get that sorted right away."

Next day, it did not turn up. We checked with DHL again. The package was now in New York City. "Oh whoops again. We'll definitely fix it this time. It'll go on the next plane, we promise!"

And so it did -- only, the next plane was not going to California; it was going to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

In the immortal words of Steven Pudner, "How could they get that wrong??"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Iconic Poker Game

The bombshell of probably needing to move to Nevada jarred me out of thinking about this silly scene that I was forming in my head today.

Well, now I'll write it out stream-of-consciousness and hopefully it will make sense. It'd be funnier if I acted it out, I'm sure.

This started when we were playing a card game Saturday night. I often say silly things, and I said, in a voice you might expect from a boasting poker player, "You better watch out; you better not cry; you better not pout; I'm tellin' ya why: Santa Claus is COMIN' ta town!" Y'know, like he just put down a winning hand. So that got me imagining Santa with a Cuban cigar playing poker with other holiday/iconic creatures. Eventually I came up with a line for Cupid after imagining him also smoking a cigar and how some people might think that was a ripoff of Baby Herman.

And now, the scene as it had formed in my head today at work prior to having a bomb dropped on me:

The seating positions around the poker table are in a C shape. From one end to the other it goes Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, New Year Baby, and Cupid. However, Cupid is late and has not shown up yet.

SANTA is smoking a cigar. He puts down his cards triumphantly on "comin' ".

Ya better not shout; ya better not cry; ya better not pout; I'm tellin' ya why: Santa Claus is COMIN' ta town! Heh heh heh! Er, I mean, Ho ho ho!

EASTER BUNNY (throwing down his cards in defeat)
Oh, a full house!

TOOTH FAIRY (likewise)
Nice hand, Santa, dear.

SANTA begins raking in the dough, but is interrupted by NEW YEAR BABY.

NEW YEAR BABY (putting down cards)
Goo goo ga!

Oh ho ho! A royal flush! He's got ya good there, Santy!

SANTA (disgusted, defeated)
I'd like to royal flush that brat's diaper. Phew!

Well at least he wears one, unlike our missing player.

What's taking him, anyway?

Oh, here he comes now!

TOOTH FAIRY is somewhat embarrassed by CUPID entering, wearing nothing but his quiver with two arrows in it, carrying his bow. CUPID speaks with a rough Brooklyn accent. He takes his seat as he speaks.

Hey, sorry I'm late. I got held up 'cause of a stupid cabbie. This guy, I don't know if he recognized me or what, but he was just goin' ON and ON about his freakin' sad excuse for a love life. Eventually I couldn't take it no more, so I whipped out an arrow and ZING! right through the heart. Beautiful shot, if I do say so myself.

Oh, that was nice of you, dear.

Nice? What are you talkin' about, lady?

TOOTH FAIRY (touched)
Working in your off-season to help him find love.

Working? I said I shot him through the heart, didn't I? I'm late 'cause it took me a while to dispose of the body.

TOOTH FAIRY (slightly shocked)
But aren't those magic arrows?

Yeah, they both come back all magical like, but one's for doin' my job; the other's for self-defense.

And... this was self-defense?

Of course it was! The guy was drivin' me freakin' crazy. I mean what was his problem? It's a hundred degrees in the freakin' shade; does it seem like it's freakin' Valentine's Day to you?

The others have no argument.

Hey Santa, pass me a Cuban, would ya?

SANTA gives CUPID a cigar. As TOOTH FAIRY speaks, CUPID motions over a red-nosed reindeer of Santa's as he bites off and spits out one end of the cigar. He then touches the bitten end of the cigar to the reindeer's nose, thus lighting the cigar.

You shouldn't smoke those things, Cupid, dear.

What, are you gonna lecture me on my health now?

No, it's just that people will think you're Baby Herman.

CUPID is annoyed, but before he can speak:

That's hardly fair. Cupid has been around much longer.

Yeah. So, what, now every baby with a cigar is a ripoff of Baby Herman?

CUPID (even more annoyed)
Hey, hey, watch it, fluffy butt. I ain't no baby, all right? I'm a CHERUB! There's a difference!

If you say so, dear.

Googy goo!

Yeah, what he said.


And what did he say?

What are you? Deaf? With those ears? He said to deal the freakin' cards already!

You mean you can actually understand him?

What, do you think I'm stupid or somethin'? Of course I can!

EASTER BUNNY leans over to SANTA

Must be because he's a baby!

Ho ho ho ho!

CUPID is really pissed off now at the second baby remark. He stands back up and begins wielding his bow.

All right; that's it! I've had enough o' you two!

Cupie, no!!!

CUPID pulls out an arrow and fires it at EASTER BUNNY and SANTA. It flies through both of them before magically returning to its quiver.

Ah yeah! Two-for-one shot! I've outdone myself.

How could you??

After a short beat...

EASTER BUNNY (lovingly)
Oh, Santy...

SANTA (lovingly)
Oh, my little bun-bun...

Oh dear.

Oh Christ! That was the wrong freakin' arrow!


Somewhere, somewhen, I had a line where the Tooth Fairy asked Cupid why he didn't fly in, and he said something about not wasting his energy when he's off-duty 'cause he wants to keep his figure. But somehow it didn't come out when I just wrote it now. So there.

Anyway, now it's out of my head, and I can go to bed.

And yes, the "I'm not a baby; I'm a cherub" line has been in my head since Saturday night. It's purely coincidence that Paul ended up posting his cherub picture today!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yes, that's the full version of my nickname

It's a long story. I'll tell ya if you want. Just know that it derived in some strange way from my real name.

So, does anyone know why Blogger/Google always defaults to showing everything in Japanese on my system, or how to change that? I can read and navigate the pages in Japanese decently enough, but certainly not as easily as if they were English.

My normal "blog" is here:
It consists mainly of things that I think my friends might be interested in, and only occasionally mentioning stuff that I actually did.

And my YouTube account is, predictably:
It consists of videos of ragtime musicians, videos of interest to cartoon fans (primarily the Animaniacs/P&TB/Freakazoid crowd), videos of racing simulators, and the occasional video of me doing voices and a few videos of places I go to or critters outside the house.

I also have a rarely checked MySpace page:
I just have a bunch of links to audio recordings of me doing voices there, and an embedded YouTube playlist of people playing my compositions.

The "1st" is added in each case because someone already took "Keeper" ahead of me, even though I was the first person to use the name on the internet as far as I know. I began using the internet in 1985. Hoil! I'm a net.geezer!