Friday, August 8, 2014

Do you have the rights?

The following is an email I received from Babs of the Content Management Team at Zazzle after I ordered a "create your own design" pillow for Wally's birthday.  My response to the lovely Babs follows her polite letter.  And the "intellectual property" she refers to is from a 1967 SHU basketball program.

Hello Kerry,
Thanks for placing an order at Zazzle.

Thank you for your recent order at Zazzle!  We’re looking forward to bringing your custom product to life, but first we have a quick question!

As you may already know, Zazzle prides itself on upholding all intellectual property rights as outlined in our User Agreement and Content Guidelines.

With that said, we would like to begin the production of your order, but we first need to validate your design entitled “throwpillow.”  

In order to assist us, please reply to this email with honest responses to the following questions(s):

1. What is the source of this image?  Where did you find it?

2. How are you associated with Sacred Heart University?

3. How are you associated with the individuals in these images?

4. Do you have permission from the Sacred Heart University Collegiate Licensing and Trademark department to use these images and text  to create Zazzle products?

Attached is the current design for your review.

Thanks in advance for your response.  Your answers to our questions will help us review the design and get your order to you as quickly as possible!

Babs  Content Management Team
Zazzle Inc.

Case Number: CAS-161140-W9F2L8

Dear Babs and Zazzle folks,

My gosh, you are thorough! Didn't anybody read the date on the text? 
This pillow will be a gift for my husband's 70th birthday.

1.  The source of the images is an old scrapbook kept by my husband's mother. It's his page from a 1967 game program that no longer exists anywhere except probably with the other old guys (those who are still living) who saved theirs from that day in 1967. I have been unable to track down the "rights" or any source for the photo or program as those things were not recorded for each game back in 1967 when the world was a simpler place and people trusted each other not to take advantage of "intellectual property" by putting photos on pillows for birthday gifts.  And I'm reasonably sure those involved in putting together the program, if there was a way to track them down, are dead or at least on their last leg with no memory of who did what for this game program in 1967. There is no catalog for these things on the SHU website. I looked because I wanted a cleaner copy to work from.

2.  We are not associated with the university except that it is where my husband went to school long ago, lettered in 4 sports, and where he occasionally donates money. In return, they sometimes contact him for more money.

3.  The image is of my husband. Isn't he cute? He no longer has a crew cut. He's a few pounds heavier and has gray hair now. Oh, at the end of this message, I'll add a recent picture of Wally with one of his sports heroes so you can see what he looks like. I took this picture a couple of weeks ago with my own camera and had both parties sign a release form in case I want to put the image on a pillow in the future.  The tall man is Bailey Howell of the 1966-'70 Boston Celtics. Hard to believe they both played basketball in the same era, considering the difference in their heights, don't you think? Bailey was 6'8" but is probably more like 6'6" now that he's 80 years old.

4. a.   I did not contact SHU about this pillow because I didn't think they'd care about a birthday present for one of their former star athletes. Considering we live in a retirement community in Florida, 1,300 miles from the university in Fairfield, Connecticut, I doubt that anyone associated with the school will ever know of this pillow. However, I promise that if there's a chance of us hosting a 1967 class reunion here, I will hide it so that no one can order them in mass quantity to sell for a tremendous profit. It would no doubt generate a lot of revenue as a collector's item, considering college basketball stars who are 5'10" (He's currently 5'8". He got measured at the doctor's office yesterday during his checkup for arthritis and gout.) and average 3.4 points and 1.6 rebounds per game are hard to come by these days. Those guys usually don't get into the program, or at least they don't get such a nice big picture.

4.  b.  And the typeface and color on the text is my own creation/choice because it will go with the style of my living room.  As far as I know, the university has not used this typeface or color on anything that I have seen.  It was not on the original program and it is not on the many Sacred Heart t-shirts or sweatshirts we have bought online from their school store.

In conclusion, I hope I have brightened your day with my story.  I'm sure my pillow creation with be a big hit with my hubby. In fact, I'll take a picture of him opening the gift and send it to you, with a release form, so you can use it on your website. Won't that be special?

Kerry Kendall Hrabstock 

Author's website:


Bailey Howell of the Celtics and Wally.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ladies' Night Out

I have never been to a Hooters Restaurant.  Hey, my eyes are up here. And that’s why I’ve never been to Hooters. Just say the name and you lose eye contact. The name, the uniforms. There are just too many distractions, I think. I mean, I’ve really never been to Hooters, so all I’ve got to go on are the t.v. commercials and the billboards, as well as the many Hooters jokes I’ve heard over the years. They’re funny in small doses, but it’s not the kind of restaurant experience I want.   I’ve never made an issue out of it.  I just don’t go there. 
          A few weeks ago, I was on an outing with three lady friends. One in her 80s, one in her 70s, the other in her 60s and me at 50-something.  We planned a trip to a new museum because we knew our husbands would never want to go to anything cultural and we wanted to sneak in a ladies’ night dinner too.  So after our 50-minute tour of the newly-opened Chocolate Museum, we set out to find a restaurant nearby.  We were in the I-Drive tourist area and traffic was heavy.
          Just ahead, there was a new building with a big sign: Dick’s Last Resort, Eat, Drink, Laugh.  We pulled in.

At the door of the new restaurant, stood a big statue of a fat, bald man with hairy legs wearing the middle-aged uniform of a Florida tourist:  flowered shirt, Bermuda shorts, white socks and sandals. That was Dick. 

Just inside the door, two young ladies in shorts and t-shirts with blonde, black and blue hair greeted us. Their tattooed arms and legs showed off all the other colors in the Crayola box. I still can’t believe how many tattoos they had on their skinny young limbs.  I guess we were still in museum mode because we were drawn in to this exotic habitat by these colorful hostesses.  Or maybe we were influenced by the traffic accident we had just passed. No matter how bad it might be, we just couldn’t look away.  So we followed them.

         Walking through Dick’s, we noticed the walls were covered with slogans.  This is the place yer mama warned you about.   Dick’s is fun for all and all for fun. 
The customers seemed to be enjoying themselves. Parties sat together at long picnic tables. Most of the guests were wearing giant paper hats and everyone had on a bib despite the fact that there were no babies or lobsters in sight. We thought it was a bit strange, but heck, we wanted to try a new place.

          One of the tattooed blue-haired girls took us to a table past the gift shop of Dick’s Souvenir Merchandise. We could see bumper stickers that read I Heart Dick’s, There’s a Little Dick in Us All, and Honk if you like Dick’s. It was at this point, that my mature friends and I caught on to the theme of this dining establishment. We were at the Hooters of the Bizarro World, the anti-Hooters.  In fact, you can even buy a t-shirt at Dick’s that says, They have Hooters, we have Dick’s. 

Believe it or not, even though Dick’s Last Resort Restaurant has been around for 25 years and has 15 locations, none of us had ever heard of it. So I did some research.

          There have been no official boycotts of Dick’s.   Apparently, Dick’s offends no one and feeds many, although Dick’s may be a one-and-done kind of place.  Absolutely all of their locations are right in the heart of the entertainment district of tourist towns.   Dick’s own marketing research says that 70% of their customers are out-of-towners.   I think tourists must see the Eat, Drink and Laugh sign and get sucked in to Dick’s for a one-night stand like we did. 

           Due to the locations, Dick’s will never be a neighborhood place like Cheers.   Everybody doesn’t even care to know your name, unless of course your name is Peter, Willy, Johnson or Dick. And even if it’s not, your waitress is likely to call you a Dick at some point during your visit.

          At the Orlando Dick’s, our waitress came over, introduced herself and clued us in on the service.   It’s insulting.   Really.   The wait staff is trained to insult the customers.  One look at the four of us and she had her opening line, “Ladies, turn up your hearing aids. You’re at Dick’s.”    We laughed, but we heard her loud and clear without hearing aids and ordered glasses of the house cabernet, which was listed under the Fancy Pants Drinks.

          On the other side of the plastic-coated beverage menu were the 45-ounce margaritas.   There was also a variety of mixed drinks served in Dick’s Souvenir Nut Cup and some blended frozen concoctions called Stiffies.

          In the blinking, light-up shot glasses, there are combos with provocative names. There’s one that combines coffee liquor, Baileys and whipped cream. You’re supposed to drink it with your hands behind your back and you can’t use your teeth.   At the Dick’s in Washington, D.C., I think it’s called the Monica Lewinsky.  At Dick’s 14 other locations, it’s simply called the B. J. Turn up your hearing aids, I said, “It’s called the B.J.”
About five years ago Dick’s tried to rise up and penetrate the European market.   They opened a Dick’s in London but those humorless English stiffs didn’t bite and Dick’s pulled out.   So there are no more Dick’s in Europe.  It’s just a crazy American thing with Dick’s getting bigger all the time. According to the company’s growth plan, there are more Dick’s still to come.
          On the other hand, Hooters already has many worldwide locations, but just one in England, in the town of Nottingham, home to Robin Hood, two universities and two professional football teams. There are occasionally local protests, but those are dismissed as random outbursts of radical feminism.
          The dinner menu at Dick’s is written on a chalkboard on the wall.   They have a chicken breast dish called The Dolly, named after Dolly Parton.   Hey, my eyes are up here.   All the entrees at Dick’s are loaded with meat and there are lots of balls on the menu: big barbeque balls, crabby balls, cheesy balls, you get the idea. Dick’s has balls.
          As we interpreted the menu, it occurred to us that something wasn’t right.    The four of us wanted a ladies’ night out but we knew we should not have been enjoying Dick’s without our husbands.   So we finished our Fancy Pants wine and politely walked past the Certified Dick’s t-shirts and on to dinner at that popular brew house down the street.
          You know, the one.  It has over 50 handcrafted beers and that huge menu of 120 items. They make their own root beer and they have a dessert called  Pizookie’s.
          Turn up your hearing aids.   After we had drinks at Dick’s, we had dinner at B.J.s.  And we had a ball.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Naked Pictures of Nixon

           Okay, so the title of this piece does not conjure up a pretty picture. Believe me, I know. I’ve thought about naked pictures of our 37th President for several months now, ever since my husband brought them to my attention. But all I can really see are those black and white pencil sketch cartoons, like in the New Yorker and even in those, Nixon is at least covered with a towel. I can’t imagine real naked pictures of Richard Millhouse Nixon. You try it. See, it’s not easy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without a suit and tie on. He’s just not that guy for me. Now Robert Redford, no problem.  Those naked pictures I’ve seen in my dreams many times. But not Richard Nixon.  

           Little know fact here:  Before she became Mrs. Nixon, Pat Ryan once worked as an x-ray technician.  Personally, I think the ability to see through a man’s body probably helped her in the most intimate moments of her marriage. Either that or just shutting off the lights.  If I ever see naked pictures of Nixon, I fear I’ll never be able to un-see them.

            Here’s how this Nixon scandal came into my life:
            My husband is a restless sleeper. He worries about everything and he takes those worries to bed. He’s sought help for this problem from his doctors. And when I say doctors, I mean all of them: the general practitioner, the gastroenterologist, the urologist, his dentist, anyone with a diploma on their wall who can provide him with an “educated” answer. He’s even sought help from friends and neighbors with the same problem, which is, “just as good as going to a doctor and it’s free.” God forbid he should trust his wife who just tells him to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up with the sun.
When the “doctors” advise him to take supplements like melatonin, he’s a great patient, always ready to pop another pill. He also believes in the “all natural” cures, which is why he’s such an easy mark for all those t.v. doctors. I point out to him that dirt is "all natural," but he doesn’t make the connection.
When we had our bathroom remodeled, I had the contractor cut a huge medicine cabinet in the wall behind a full-length mirror. It’s 16 inches wide and 5 feet tall. I thought we could share it. But no, it houses all of his supplements from those t.v. experts:  Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Dr. Suess.  One pill, two pill, red pill, blue pill.
            The real doctors who tell him to change his lifestyle to cure his sleep problems, are talking to a brick wall. He stays up watching old movies on television or surfing sports sites on the internet until 2 or 3 a.m. So he sleeps until noon. We have a DVR. He can watch television on any schedule. As far as I know, the internet is pretty much a 24-hour service too.  Sometimes I think he just doesn’t want to change because he likes breaking the story.  I watch plenty of news.  I’m also a speed reader, so it takes a lot to get the story before me and I think he derives a great deal of pleasure from finding something out before I do. During baseball season this year, many of those stories happened at 2 a.m., usually after a west coast Yankees game and they involved a Yankee player named Alex playing, or not playing, because he was, or was not, suspended for taking, or not taking, supplements which are, or are not, illegal or all natural under major league baseball rules. None of this is need-to-know stuff for me. But he likes it and he wants to share, regardless of my REM cycle or my early morning schedule of dog walking and pickleball.  (That supplement thing between him and Alex is mere coincidence.) It’s not always Yankees news I get at 2 a.m.  Sometimes it’s the death of a celebrity or the birth of a 2-headed animal. A lot of news seems to happen at 2 a.m. eastern standard time.

           When my husband finally comes to bed, he usually has nightmares that are loosely related to the last thing he saw on t.v. or on some web site. Many of them are violent and cause him to toss, turn and yell in a clear voice.  No mumbling. I get every word.
            When he yells, “Adrian, Adrian,” I know he’s not calling out for an old girlfriend. He just watched Rocky.

            After an old John Wayne movie, I hear, “Giddyup, bang, bang, pilgrim.”  And yes, he really says “bang, bang” and holds his finger like a gun.  The first time that happened, I was hysterical.  I couldn’t believe he was actually doing that in his sleep.
            Since then, there’s been the Clint Eastwood movie outbursts:  “Ask yourself, do I feel lucky? Do you Punk? Bang, bang!”
There’s almost always a “bang, bang!”  This from a man who’s never even shot a gun. 
Many nights, he automatically goes into the guest room to spare me from these outbursts. And I appreciate that.
He was not in the guest room on Nixon Night.  That’s what we call it now, Nixon Night.  He came to bed late again. He tossed and turned a little. I had nowhere to send him. My brother’s family of 5 was visiting and the 2 guest rooms were full. So was the couch.  When I could tell he was about to start yelling, I shook him to wake him up so I could get to sleep again.  That usually works.  Not this time. He looked right me, as if he were fully awake and yelled, “Naked pictures of Nixon, naked pictures of Nixon.”  He woke up the whole house and we all wanted to know:  What about the naked pictures of Nixon?  What about the naked pictures of Nixon?  The late night movie that brought on his outburst was All the President’s Men.  I’ve seen it a thousand times.  There are no naked pictures of Nixon in the Watergate scandal. There are some seedy lines in the movie involving Deep Throat and Katherine Graham’s ta-tas, but Nixon remains fully clothed in all pictures.  So what was he thinking and why?  He dreamed up naked pictures of Nixon just like I dreamed up my naked pictures of Robert Redford.
            Melatonin? Sleep?  He says he’s not getting enough.  And I’m not exactly sure what he means by that.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Cradle to Grave Bell Curve

     Ah, The Bell Curve.  I think I remember studying it in school.    I don't remember what I thought about it or why.  Looking it up today, I see that the first few Google pages of online sites devoted to it reference a study in the mid 1990s. Well, I was out of school by then.  So now I really don't know where I remember it from.   Maybe I'm confusing it with playing the bells in music class, or drawing bells in art class.  Whatever.

     Why am I even thinking about this?  It's all I'm thinking about these days because I've discovered a new application for that Bell Curve and I'm going to call it The Cradle to Grave Bell Curve.  It takes into account a person's age and the amount of time expected to address the needs of that person at a certain age.  Simply put, if you draw the bell and assign ages to the up and down slopes, my observation has been that the same things that happen on the up-slope will happen on the down-slope.  Stay with me here.  I'll clear it up.

     Babies want it NOW, or they cry.  Toddlers want it NOW, or they scream.  Young children want it NOW or they throw tantrums.  Teenagers want it NOW or they rebel, regardless of the consequences that often result in the parental-infliction of pain.

     Then it all tapers off.  Young adults have the idea that it's all just beginning.  There's plenty of time for them to get a good job, find a partner, raise a family.  We discover the blissful feeling of procrastination.  Tomorrow is when things will happen.  There's no good reason to do everything today.  Then, it all changes again when old age hits.  And it hits hard.

     Currently, I'm in a household with an 86-year-old and a 90-year-old and it's fascinating (and exhausting) to observe the down-slope of my Cradle to Grave Bell Curve.

     No matter what he needs, 86-year-old Dad wants it NOW!  Ice cream, cookies, coffee, a pen, a napkin, whatever.  If it doesn't come now, he quickly asks what's wrong with me.  (And that's the only thing he does quickly these days.)

     Each time I explain that nothing's wrong.  I'm just busy.  But he keeps asking.  He doesn't get it.  Neither would a baby on the up-slope.

     My experience with children is limited to my nephews and the  children of friends.  But I can still draw the parallel on the Bell. 

     When I tell 90-year-old Aunt Sophie we're going out to lunch, she gets her jacket on and stands at the door, even if I just said, "We're going out to lunch in 20 minutes."  She doesn't want to be late.  And she'll stand at the door waiting.  Of course, seeing that, I  rush around to leave NOW!  (Is she using psychology on me? Nah.  Hmm?)

     I'm trying to be more understanding.  After all, I'll be there some day (if someone doesn't shoot me in frustration first).  I'm sure Dad and Auntie somehow soothed my demands when I was very young.  So I feel the need to reciprocate now.  And the fact that they act like children really makes me believe it's payback.  But here's the scary part:  Aunt Sophie and her brother (my father) are 4 years apart.  So are my brother and I.  Someday, I expect my nephew Kyle to come to the realization that there's a Cradle to Grave Bell Curve.  And when he does, I'll probably have my jacket on, ready for him to take me to lunch at the same time his father is demanding a cup of coffee NOW!

     Good luck Kyle and thank you NOW.