Monday, May 24, 2010

On The Invocation Of The Sacred Laws Of Hospitality

The Sacred Laws are mentioned more than once in the finely crafted written prose of Rex Stout, creator of the Nero Wolfe series. It is usually that character, Wolfe, who invokes the Sacred Laws. Sadly, these Laws were never delineated or explained. Thus, this situation needs be rectified, and this author humbly submits here his limited understanding of these Laws.

The Sacred Laws of Hospitality are simple, but not simplistic. They are all-encompassing but only in that the individuals involved understand that the Laws apply to all parties involved.

To begin: in the invocation of the Laws, there are two separate parties involved. These two parties have specific and well-defined positions. The are: The Guest and The Host.

Notice, first, that these two parties are gender generic. They carry no indication of skin color, religion, politics, sexual preference, etc.

The first segment then of the Laws: Know Thy Place. Are you Guest or are you Host?

This allowance for understanding of one's place is essential, as there are two, and only two, rules that follow. These two rules apply both to Guest and Host, and are not malleable, although they can be applied in a nearly infinite variety of form.

How does one identify one's place?

Are you approaching the door seeking admittance or are you about to open the door to allow admittance?

It is usually the Guest that seeks entrance, and it is usually the Host which allows entrance.

The Two Rules Of The Sacred Laws Of Hospitality then, are as follow:

1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2) That which you would not have others do unto you, do not do those things unto others.

Is this not simple? Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not as simple as one would believe at first blush.

The simplest situation would be that of the Guest being Invited. The Invitation implies that the Invocation will begin.

The Invitation, in its many, varied forms, comes down to this: Please come to me.

The Answer, then: Yes (Acceptance) or; No (Answer. An Answer does not necessarily imply rejection.)

On Acceptance, then, the Guest comes to the door of the Host and knocks. As the Guest is expected, having accepted, the Host opens, and allows the Guest entry.

What if the Guest is unexpected or unannounced?

The same rules apply. As before, then: if the Guest comes to the door unexpected, the Guest should follow the two rules. If the roles were reversed, and the (pending) Host were to come to the door of the (unexpected) Guest, how would the (unexpected) Guest treat the (pending) Host?

Thus, one can see many social situations falling into place.

Upon admittance, the Host then bears a certain responsibility. If the Guest was invited, then, the Host presumably has an understanding of the Guest and the Guest's life/lifestyle/etc.

Example: If the Host is one whose dietary habits are unrestricted in any manner, then the Host must take into account the dietary habits of the Guest. Jews and Muslims, for example, would be ill-treated by a Host serving pork, vegans ill-served by meats, etc. Further: health considerations (i.e., diabetes, alcoholism, etc.) should also be included.

Further: If the Guest has such concerns, they should be made understood prior to arrival. If the Guest does not do so, it is up to the Guest to not consume that which is improper and/or unhealthy, and to guide any questions regarding the rejection with the manner in which the Guest would wish to be addressed while in the home of the Guest.

Do you begin to see? Is it not clear?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pop has eaten itself, and borne its own child

The future of pop music is upon us. We should glory in its excess, and marvel at its brilliance, and most importantly we should be upon the dance floor. This is the wonder known as the mash-up. Most of what follows has to do with the notion this is an unheralded event. Quite the contrary...

In his book
Will Pop Eat Itself? by Jeremy J. Beadle (available on, the argument was posited that by using samples, music was being recycled into new and intriguing forms. The theory, from there, can be brought forward that this process has been going on for a while, in differing forms and formats, for centuries.

Johann Sebastian Bach, for example: clearer heads than that of this author have examined his works, and found that several of his fugues can be played backwards: meaning that the manuscript can be flipped upside down and played from end to beginning, and the music itself (in its performance) would sound exactly the same.

With all of the fol-de-rol and hoopla about "fair use" and "artists rights" (when both terms have become nothing more than a thinly veiled doublespeak for "profits for the industry" and not the artists themselves), a brief look back can be most entertaining.

Throughout the years, there have been various forms of music presented that "sample" the works of others. John Williams' score for Star Wars is a perfect example. In the original liner notes of the double-vinyl release, Williams himself noted that in writing the score, he turned to the works of Gustav Holst, in particular, The Planets.

This, of course, is called an homage. No one sued John Williams.

More to the point were novelty recordings: of particular interest here would be one called The Flying Saucer, released in 1956. In this piece, a sample from another song, Yakety Yak was used, and Dickie Goodman, who had released The Flying Saucer, was sued.

The artist has a page on Wikipedia, and from that article:

In June 1956, Goodman thought, “What if a seemingly normal record was interrupted by a report of flying saucers landing?” His first record, "The Flying Saucer," was co-written with partner Bill Buchanan, featured a four-minute rewriting of Orson Welles’ famous “War of the Worlds" radio show.[2] While Goodman asked questions of pedestrians, scientists, and even the Martian himself, their responses were "snipped" from lyrics of popular songs of the day, such as:

Although "The Flying Saucer" became a major hit, it also landed Goodman in court for copyright infringement - e.g. the songs he used to create his "break-in" records.

Now: Here is the interesting part:

The lawsuits were later settled out of court when the judge ruled that Goodman's records were burlesques and parodies, and were original creations in and of themselves.