Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Here's a seventy fifth birthday tribute to guess who. Hint: The RIAA with their eternal war against KaZaA won't want a slice of cake.

In a locked silver cage on a table there lived a mouse. He had a little bed with silken sheets and a water dish studded with diamonds. The cage locked from the inside. The little table was very low - a large cat capable of standing on its hind legs and leaning it's front paws on the table could lift it's chin above the bottom of the cage. This cat was not hypothetical, but a black and white tomcat named Copycat.

"Come out and play." said the cat. It was a cartoon cat, so it could talk. He was no longer popular enough to be worth using in new cartoons, so nobody had bothered to colorize him. That was why he was black and white.

"You can't fool me", whispered the mouse. "You only want me to come out where you can hurt me."

The cat replied in a lower tone. "I seem to recall another mouse once. He started out as something of a scamp and a mischiefmaker. He wouldn't have been afraid of any cat, he would have turned the tables on any cat sniffing around his home. Eventually he became the figurehead of a large corporation. He was very rich, but he had to be careful. He had to be a good role model for children, and his stories couldn't upset anyone of any age. He was very rich, and he acted happy for the children all day, but he didn't have many adventures anymore. Do you remember his name?"

The mouse squeaked shrilly. "No no no! The writer of this has no right to use his name, and deserved to be sued for copyright infringement if he uses it. Don't try and trick me!"

"And they don't let him have adventures anymore. Do you like your silver prison?"

"It's not a prison. These locks are to keep me safe from you! Without these locks anyone could say anything about me!"

"Would that be so bad?"

"I would be much less valuable then. It wouldn't pay for a big corporation to hire the very best writers to create the most exciting adventures imaginable for me!"

"And do they now?"

"If it weren't possible to lock me up, it wouldn't have been worth the trouble to create me in the first place."

"You don't give yourself enough credit. I think you've earned many millions for somebody or other. Fifty years in a silver cage should have been enough. Seventy was too much - but not enough for them. Cartoon characters never die, so you'll be imprisoned eternally unless you dare leave your cage."

"You're standing right there - you'll eat me if I come out the door."

"I knew a mouse who was always in impossible situations and always managed to come out on top. He could pilot a river boat or turn the tables on a mad scientist. So don't come out through the door. Use a buzz saw, cut through the cage and table, and sneak around behind me and pull my tail."

"First of all, you're expecting that. Second of all, how could a mouse handle a buzz saw capable of all that? Third, where would I get a buzz saw?"

"Just pull it out of thin air - like that rabbit who used to pull magicians out of hats, or at least whatever he really needed out of thin air."

The mouse stood still in an agony of indecision. The cat whispered, "Do you remember your name?"

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