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Hipster St. George and the Unicorn: A Web Archiving Mumming

Mummers Portrait 2015

The mummers gathered by the Christmas tree. Photo by Kate Zwaard.

Note: Every year, in the week before Christmas, staff members of the American Folklife Center put our research and performance skills into play, bringing collections to life in a dramatic performance that tours the halls of the Library of Congress.  Dressed in costumes that range from striking to silly, we sing, act, rhyme, and dance for other Library staff members and for members of the public. Our performances are based on the ancient tradition of mumming, which has come down to our archive in the form of play scripts, songs, photos, and other items collected in the early twentieth century. For a more thorough introduction to this tradition, please visit our previous post on mumming, as well as pevious plays: “St. George, the Dragon, and the Squid: A Preservation Mumming” (December 2014) and “St. George and the Data Dragon: A Digital Assets Mumming” (December 2013). For now, we thought you’d like to read this year’s play! For explanatory notes, visit the bottom of the page.

Hipster Saint George and the Unicorn: A Web Archiving Mumming

The American Folklife Center Mummers present their annual play, December 16, 2015. This year’s play is called "Hipster Saint George and the Unicorn: A Web Archiving Mumming,” and features a Web Archiving theme. These short 15-minute plays were traditionally performed in England and Ireland at holiday time, as the Mummers went from house to house and pub to pub, collecting food, drink, and small change as a reward for their entertainment.  The plays always involved a Hero and a Villain, and a theme of Death and Resurrection. Audiences are encouraged to cheer for their favorite characters, and boo their least favorite. There will also be an opportunity to sing along on traditional English carol, “Gloucestershire Wassail.” Photo by Shawn Miller.

The mummers make their entrance in the magnificent Great Hall of the Library of Congress. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Performed by American Folklife Center Staff with Guests
(Aka The Well-Preserved AFC Mummers)

Script drawn from multiple plays in the James Madison Carpenter Collection.
Compiled by Stephen Winick, with additional material by Stephen Winick, Jennifer Cutting, Theadocia Austen, Hope O’Keeffe, and the company. Photos were taken by Library of Congress staff members. [1]

Father Christmas: Stephen Winick
MetaFilter: George Thuronyi
Know Your Meme: Stephanie Hall
Creepypasta: Hope O’Keeffe
Equestria: Rosadel Santos-Flores
Hipster St. George: David Brunton
Doctor B: Thea Austen
Recommending Officer: Valda Morris
Jolly Jack: Jennifer Cutting

The Band: Rosemary Hall, Catherine Kerst, Maggie Kruesi, Maya Lerman.

Enter Singing the Kintbury Mummers Song [2]

Good people all, both great and small
Both rich and poor, draw near!
We beg you pay attention,
To these few lines you hear.

To me high-dum-dum, to me low-dum-dum,
To me high-dum-dum to me derry,
We don’t come here but once a year
On purpose to be merry!

To me high-dum-dum, to me low-dum-dum,
To me high-dum-dum to me derry,
We don’t come here but once a year
On purpose to be merry!

The American Folklife Center Mummers present their annual play, December 16, 2015. This year’s play is called "Hipster Saint George and the Unicorn: A Web Archiving Mumming,” and features a Web Archiving theme. These short 15-minute plays were traditionally performed in England and Ireland at holiday time, as the Mummers went from house to house and pub to pub, collecting food, drink, and small change as a reward for their entertainment.  The plays always involved a Hero and a Villain, and a theme of Death and Resurrection. Audiences are encouraged to cheer for their favorite characters, and boo their least favorite. There will also be an opportunity to sing along on traditional English carol, “Gloucestershire Wassail.” Photo by Shawn Miller.

“A bit off-kilter.”  George Thuronyi as MetaFilter. Photo by Shawn Miller.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Room! ROOM! Gentles all, pray give us room to rhyme
We’ve come to show activity
This merry Christmas time
Activity of youth, activity of age
Such activity has never been before upon a stage
In comes I, old Father Christmas
And be I welcome or welcome not,
I hope old Father Christmas will never be forgot
My beard is long, my back is bent
My knees are weak, my strength is spent
At two thousand and fifteen years old
I’m surprised to be alive
But since I’m on the World Wide Web,
I’m part of your archive!
But after me comes a web connoisseur
Believe in what I say,
Step in, step in, great MetaFilter  [3]
And boldly clear the way

METAFILTER:
In comes I, MetaFilter
You might think I’m a bit off-kilter
But if you need to know what’s hot
I’m the greatest chance you’ve got
My spies are crawling every site  [4]
Every day and every night
So let me give you one small tip:
Archiving the Web is really hip!

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Archiving the web? Do you think that’s wise?
It grows each day, before our eyes!
Even if archiving it all is lawful

The American Folklife Center Mummers present their annual play, December 16, 2015. This year’s play is called "Hipster Saint George and the Unicorn: A Web Archiving Mumming,” and features a Web Archiving theme. These short 15-minute plays were traditionally performed in England and Ireland at holiday time, as the Mummers went from house to house and pub to pub, collecting food, drink, and small change as a reward for their entertainment.  The plays always involved a Hero and a Villain, and a theme of Death and Resurrection. Audiences are encouraged to cheer for their favorite characters, and boo their least favorite. There will also be an opportunity to sing along on traditional English carol, “Gloucestershire Wassail.” Photo by Shawn Miller.

Know Your Meme removes her Grumpy Cat mask. Photo by Shawn Miller.

KNOW YOUR MEME (in Grumpy Cat mask):
I tried it once, and it was awful!

METAFILTER:
Don’t mind her, that’s “Know Your Meme” [5]
She’s got a comment on every theme!

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Very well then, you were saying?

METAFILTER:
There are web denizens so tough and bold
They’d rather not be so controlled
To archiving they may be hostile
Like my old nemesis, Creepypastle!

ALL:
Pasta!

CREEPYPASTA:
Creepypasta is my name, [6]
Creepy stories are my game,
My ghosts and ghouls and suchlike creatures
Swarm the web like bugs, not features [7]
Imagination and fear must both run free
And there’s no darker part of the Dark Web than me!
I created Slender Man, that fiend without a face [8]
He’s escaped the Web to roam the earth and stalk most anyplace.
Remember this, and tell your chums:
Something Awful This Way Comes!

KNOW YOUR MEME (in Doge Mask):
So scare! Very fear! Such creepy! Much Worried! WoW!

The American Folklife Center Mummers present their annual play, December 16, 2015. This year’s play is called "Hipster Saint George and the Unicorn: A Web Archiving Mumming,” and features a Web Archiving theme. These short 15-minute plays were traditionally performed in England and Ireland at holiday time, as the Mummers went from house to house and pub to pub, collecting food, drink, and small change as a reward for their entertainment.  The plays always involved a Hero and a Villain, and a theme of Death and Resurrection. Audiences are encouraged to cheer for their favorite characters, and boo their least favorite. There will also be an opportunity to sing along on traditional English carol, “Gloucestershire Wassail.” Photo by Shawn Miller.

Creepypasta, played by Hope O’Keeffe. Photo by Shawn Miller.

METAFILTER:
Oh, Creepypasta, you poor thing
Is that the worst that you can bring?
Slender Man is SO 2014, SO outdated and passé [9]
Have you got any scary monsters that are more, you know, today?

KNOW YOUR MEME (in Happy Cat mask):
I Can Has Current Monster?

CREEPYPASTA:
Don’t you mock me, MetaFilter, I oppose you and your mission,
I’m putting you on notice that you do not have permission! [10]
You can’t index or archive the grim, noodly ends
of your sister-in-law’s cousin’s neighbor’s kid’s friends
And just to show these people that you aren’t very smart
I’ve got another monster that will freeze your very heart
Here’s a beast you’ve never seen, a swirl of hoof and horn
Step in step in Equestria, my bold dark unicorn! [11]

UNICORN:
Hoof and Horn! Hoof and Horn!
I’m a mighty unicorn
With my horn so sharp and my hooves so stony
I’ll pound my foes to macaroni!

KNOW YOUR MEME (in Twilight Sparkle Mask):
Did somebody say “My Little Pony?”

METAFILTER:
Well, I have to admit she’s just as scary
As Slender Man or Bloody Mary
But soon this horse will swoon and faint
To see my George, the Hipster Saint.

ST. GEORGE:
In comes I, St George-the-Hipster [12]
I’ll defeat this evil trickster
With my well-groomed beard and my sweet man-bun
Don’t you think I’m lots of fun?
When I’m not keeping bees or knitting hats
Or stuffing taxidermy cats
Hanging out by the Brooklyn Bridge,
Brewing Beer next to my fridge
I’m spending endless days and nights
Archiving my favorite sites!
With my sharp sword known as metadata extraction
I’ll leave that Unicorn there in traction!
Harvest, Crawl, Capture, and Save!
I’ll send that unicorn to her grave! [13]

"With my well-groomed beard and my sweet man-bun."  David Brunton as St. George-the-Hipster. Photo by Shawn Miller.

“With my well-groomed beard and my sweet man-bun.” David Brunton as St. George-the-Hipster. Photo by Shawn Miller.

UNICORN:

Equestria is mocked by "Know Your Meme" in a Twilight Sparkle mask. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Equestria is mocked by “Know Your Meme” in a Twilight Sparkle mask. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Ha! You think that you can archive Fark?
I’ll quickly undo all your WARC!
Though Minerva’s here, and Pandora’s there
I’ll grow with every Like and Share!
I’ll crawl your links and slash your dots
And shred you with my evil bots!
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr!
I’ll gore you with my big sharp sticker!  [14]

They fight, and Unicorn wins.  St. George collapses to the ground as if dead.

JOLLY JAC:
Wait! You can’t die!

ST. GEORGE (sitting up):
I can’t? Why?

JOLLY JAC:
You haven’t validated!

ST. GEORGE (pathetic wail):
I’m not valid!   [15]

St. George Dies.

KNOW YOUR MEME:
(In Dr. McCoy mask): He’s dead, Jim!
(In Les Nessman mask): Oh, the digital humanities!

Mummer's Play

St. George is wounded and near death. Time to validate! Photo by Angela Napili.

METAFILTER:
My boy, my boy! My hipster son!
I can’t believe the unicorn’s won!

The Unicorn produces a mobile phone and a selfie stick, and proceeds to take selfies with the dead knight.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Well, despite another try to stop it, we still have the ACA! [16]
Surely there is coverage for a hipster saint today!
Death is one of those pre-existing conditions,
which can’t be excluded under the law’s provisions
So…is there a doctor to be found,
To cure his deep and deadly…wound? [to rhyme with “sound.”]

ALL [including dead Saint, who sits up briefly]:
Wound! [pronounced correctly]

"Room!  Room!"  Stephen Winick as Father Christmas.  Photo by Angela Napili.  Used by permission.

“Is there a doctor to be found…?” Stephen Winick as Father Christmas. Photo by Angela Napili.

KNOW YOUR MEME (in Picard facepalm mask):
Facepalm!

Two mummers hold up a blanket printed with the Tardis from Dr. Who. The Doctor steps out from behind it.

DOCTOR:
Here I am, Bold Doctor B.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Doctor Who?

DOCTOR:
Doctor B! All the world has heard of me!

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
I thought you had retired!

DOCTOR:
I regenerated! [17]

The American Folklife Center Mummers present their annual play, December 16, 2015. This year’s play is called "Hipster Saint George and the Unicorn: A Web Archiving Mumming,” and features a Web Archiving theme. These short 15-minute plays were traditionally performed in England and Ireland at holiday time, as the Mummers went from house to house and pub to pub, collecting food, drink, and small change as a reward for their entertainment.  The plays always involved a Hero and a Villain, and a theme of Death and Resurrection. Audiences are encouraged to cheer for their favorite characters, and boo their least favorite. There will also be an opportunity to sing along on traditional English carol, “Gloucestershire Wassail.” Photo by Shawn Miller.

The Doctor arrives in her Wayback Machine. Photo by Shawn Miller.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
How did you get here?

DOCTOR:
My Wayback Machine! [18]

METAFILTER:
How came you to be a doctor?

DOCTOR:
By my travels.

METAFILTER:
Where have you traveled?

DOCTOR:
Planet Adams, Madison’s comet, Jefferson Starship, and more
Many places where I’ve never been before,
From The Magic Kingdom of Landover to the Asteroid NAVCC,
Everybody knows the great doctor–Me! [19]

Theadocia Austen as The Doctor.  Her costume is made up of elements from previous incarnations of the Doctor from Doctor Who.

Theadocia Austen as The Doctor. Her costume is made up of elements from previous incarnations of the Doctor from Doctor Who. Photo by Kate Zwaard.

Know Your Meme (in Dr. McCoy mask):
Dammit, Jim, she’s a Doctor, not a tour guide!

DOCTOR:
No, but I do work in NIO, the office of Nonlinear and Intergalactic Outreach!  [20]

METAFILTER:
What can you cure?

DOCTOR:
I can cure DigiBoard shakes, Seed List flakes
Notice/Permission bellyaches
Link rot, Slashdot, palsy, or gout
The seed within and the scope without
I can cure the Momentum wheezes
Continuing resolution freezes
And all other librarious diseases [21]

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Yes, yes, but you can’t cure a hipster who’s been DEAD for five minutes!

The American Folklife Center Mummers present their annual play, December 16, 2015. This year’s play is called "Hipster Saint George and the Unicorn: A Web Archiving Mumming,” and features a Web Archiving theme. These short 15-minute plays were traditionally performed in England and Ireland at holiday time, as the Mummers went from house to house and pub to pub, collecting food, drink, and small change as a reward for their entertainment.  The plays always involved a Hero and a Villain, and a theme of Death and Resurrection. Audiences are encouraged to cheer for their favorite characters, and boo their least favorite. There will also be an opportunity to sing along on traditional English carol, “Gloucestershire Wassail.” Photo by Shawn Miller.

“Will you join me on my rounds?” Photo by Shawn Miller.

DOCTOR:
If he’s been dead five YEARS I can cure him!
Will you join me on my rounds?

[Doctor and Father Christmas walk around and around the body, examining it. Doctor eventually turns around and collides with Father Christmas.]

DOCTOR:
Excuse me. I must check his “look and feel.” [22]
[Doctor listens to St. George’s man-bun with her stethoscope]
Pretty man-bun. Decent heel.
Nothing wrong from heel to head
Except, of course, this man is dead.

[She returns to her bag and produces a mechanical contraption]

METAFILTER:
What can you do?

DOCTOR:
I have Potions and Powders, Poisons, and Pills
Some that cures, and some that kills.
And I’ve found the trouble that killed this poor saint
He used to be hip, and now he ain’t
So to bring him back to the land of the livin’,
A HIP REPLACEMENT is what I’ll give him!

All applaud the Doctor’s wisdom.  Doctor produces the “Sonic Screwdriver.”

DOCTOR:
Now to see if he’s a real survivor,
I’ll install this hip with my Sonic Screwdriver… [23]

Surgical Team!

All the mummers surround the hipster and the Doctor bends over to work on him.  Mummers make a high-pitched sound while the screwdriver operates.  The Hipster screams.

DOCTOR:
Now, if’n you are not quite slain
Rise Up, O hippest saint, to fight again!

Saint springs up, looking surprised,
The mummers start the audience clapping

Mummer's Play

The Saint is Alive! Photo by Angela Napili.

CREEPYPASTA:
Now that’s a fine thing, I say to you
My unicorn managed to run him through
She killed that saint, and what do they do?
Replace his hip, and he’s good as new!

SAINT:
Here I am, alive you see….
Come on, Unicorn, fight with me!

UNICORN:
Come on saint, you tedious goof
I’ll knock you out with my right front hoof!

"That's a fine thing!"  Creepypasta complains about the Saint's resurrection.

“That’s a fine thing!” Creepypasta complains about the Saint’s resurrection. Photo by Angela Napili.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
No no no, this isn’t right
We can’t just have another fight

SAINT:
Why not?

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
The play would just go on and on
Until NEXT Christmas came along.

METAFILTER:
I have an idea that just might do it
If everyone will agree to it

Father Christmas and MetaFilter talk and gesticulate, then MetaFilter brings in Doctor and Father Christmas brings in CreepyPasta, and the four huddle; then CreepyPasta brings in Unicorn and MetaFilter brings in the Saint, and the six huddle.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Very Well, Very Well…Before it gets too late
We will settle this with a debate!

All the characters except Father Christmas line up.  Father Christmas acts as debate moderator.

Some of the mummers lined up to debate. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Some of the mummers lined up to debate. Photo by Shawn Miller.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Now then, now then
To archive 4 terabytes of posts and memes,
Explain to me your archive’s schemes.

JOLLY JAC: Repeal and Replace!
CREEPYPASTA: Build a wall!
DOCTOR: Pharaoh built a pyramid to store it all!
UNICORN: Close a bridge!
METAFILTER: Lower Tax!
JOLLY JAC: Give government workers the axe!
RECOMMENDING OFFICER: Zero-based budgeting—and that’s final!
ST. GEORGE: Can I archive all this stuff on vinyl?
KNOW YOUR MEME: If I keep it quiet as a mouse,
Can I keep the server at my house?

FATHER CHRISTMAS (with Brooklyn Accent):
Let me be perfectly clear.
The 1% Can Has Cheezburger.
The Big Banks Can Has Cheezburger.
But I think, in a true and just America,
Everybody Should Has Cheezburger!   [24]

All Mummers applaud for debaters.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Well, I think we all see what’s happened here
No one’s won this free and clear
It’s true the web is very large,
To archive it all might be too hard
And yet if we succumb to fear,
Our modern culture might disappear!

RECOMMENDING OFFICER:
Then let us pick and choose a bit
And archive the parts that we see fit!

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Yes, that’s very good advice, it’s true…
Wait a minute! Who are you?

Who are you

“Wait a minute! Who are you?” Father Christmas has not yet met Recommending Officer. Photo by Kate Zwaard.

RECOMMENDING OFFICER:
Recommending Officer is my name  [25]
I’ll help you decide which sites aren’t lame
And with my friends throughout the divisions,
We’ll MOC up the necessary provisions.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Well, looks like we no longer need to worry

Unicorn and George start to leave together.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
Now where are you two going in such a hurry?

ST. GEORGE:
We thought…we might go on a date!

UNICORN:
A knight and a horse…well, it just seemed like fate!

Mummer's Play

“We thought we might go on a date.” Photo by Angela Napili.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
You’re a Brony!  [26]

They try to leave again, but JOLLY JAC stops them.

"In comes I, Jolly JAC...!" Photo by Angela Napili.

“It’s time for Jolly JAC…!” Photo by Angela Napili.

Jolly JAC:
Not yet! It’s time for Jolly JAC
With my tiny accordion on my back
So let me take my eezum squeezum  [27]
And play a tune that’s bound to please ‘em.
With my head so big, and my wit so small,
I’ll call for a tune to please you all!
Muddy Boots and dirty faces,
Dancers all, take up your places!

Jolly Jack plays intro to “Lilliburlero” on the melodeon, and the village band joins in. The Saint and Unicorn, MetaFilter and Doctor put everything down and dance. The dancers dance three figures, while the Doctor calls the dance. The rest clap along, then applaud to prompt the audience.

Band2

Rosemary Hall plays fiddle in the band. Photo by Angela Napili.

FATHER CHRISTMAS:
We hope you all have been impressed
And think our calling is the best
We won’t delay, lest tedium befall,
We wish you a merry Christmas
And God bless you all!

All Sing: Gloucestershire Wassail.  [28]

Wassail, wassail all over the town
Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

And here’s to the bullock and to his right eye
Pray God send our master a good Christmas pie
A good Christmas pie that may we all see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

So here is to the milk cow and to her broad horn
May God send our master a good crop of corn
A good crop of corn that we may all see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

And here’s to the calf and to her left ear
Pray God send our master a happy New Year
A happy New Year as e’er he did see
With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink to thee

Then here’s to the maid in the lily white smock
Who tripped to the door and slipped back the lock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in.

Cathy Kerst (fiddle) and Maya Lerman (guitar).  Photo by Angela Napili.

Cathy Kerst (fiddle) and Maya Lerman (guitar). Photo by Angela Napili.

Notes:

"Selfie with dead knight."  Snapped by the unicorn Equestria during the play, in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.

“Selfie with dead knight.” Snapped by the unicorn Equestria during the play, in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.

[1]  The general idea for this year’s play was the pros and cons of archiving the Web.  It was inspired by blog posts written by Nicole Saylor and Trevor Owens, as well as internal Library communications by Abbie Grotke.

[2] Jennifer Cutting found The Kintbury Mummers Song through The Full English, a web presentation of Traditional English folk culture at the Ralph Vaughan Williams Memorial Library in London.  It was collected by Henrietta Batson in Kintbury, Berkshire, England.

[3] MetaFilter is a “community weblog,” a blog on which members of the user community can share one link a day.  It acts as a community-moderated “best of the Web.”  It’s one of the most influential blogs, and it’s one of the sites archived by the Library of Congress.

[4] “Crawling” is the word for systematically browsing the web to discover content and, typically, to index it.  Most crawling is performed by “bots,” automated software applications.  MetaFilter users don’t really “crawl” the Web, so this is a metaphorical use of an already metaphorical term!

[5] “Know Your Meme” is a website about image macros and other viral items shared over social media and the Web as “memes.” It’s one of the sites archived in AFC’s digital culture web archive. The character “know your meme” makes comments on the action of the play as a series of memes, just as if these memes were posted in the comments of this blog post! The memes she embodies include:
Grumpy Cat, Happy Cat, Doge, Twilight Sparkle (from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Dr. McCoy (“He’s dead, Jim”), Les Nessman (Oh, the Humanity!), Dr. McCoy (Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a tour guide), and Captain Picard Facepalm

[6] Creepypasta is a kind of scary story endemic to the Internet.  The name derives from the earlier term “copypasta,” which in turn derives from “copy-paste.”  Copypasta is material, especially narrative material, that is stored as text, then copied and pasted into various forums, blogs, and social media posts.  Creepypasta consists specifically of creepy items that circulate by copy and paste. Copypasta and creepypasta are both studied as internet folklore, and various sites containing both forms are are archived by the AFC’s digital culture web archive, including creepypasta.com.

[7 ] In this line, Creepypasta mixes her metaphors.  Crawling the web is explained in note 4 above. Here she riffs on “crawling” and decides her creatures are “bugs,” a term in software design for errors or unanticipated behaviors of a program. One joke among software developers involves observing the various “bugs” exhibited by early versions of a program and telling the user that they are actually “features”; in other words redefining the random unanticipated behavior of the program as something planned by the developers.

unicorn closeup

The unicorn mask was made by Maryland artist Kristin Costa. Photo by Angela Napili.

[8] Slender Man is an especially successful character from  creepypasta. He was originated in 2009, in a pair of photoshopped images by Eric Knudsen on the site “Something Awful,”which is the source of Creepypasta’s warning at the end of her speech. Slender Man has been featured in many stories and pictures across a range of creepypasta sites. At cosplay events, it is common to see people dressed as Slender Man, a very tall and thin faceless man dressed in a black suit. Creepypasta’s own faceless costume recalls Slender Man.

[9] The date 2014 refers to a horrible incident in May, 2014, in which two 12-year-old girls from Wisconsin attempted to murder their friend, believing that if they did so Slender Man would visit them.  They stabbed the victim 19 times, but she miraculously survived.

[10] Notice and Permission are shorthand for the ways in which we receive the go-ahead to archive sites. For some sites, we need explicit permission to crawl the site and archive it; for others we merely give notice that we will be archiving the site.

[11] Equestria is the setting for the popular TV cartoon “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” This TV show has been the source of a lot of Internet culture, and one of the sites we archive is “Equestria Daily.

[12] These attributes of St. George are from the Brooklyn hipster subculture, itself the subject of many memes.

man bun

The ladies enjoy St. George’s sweet man-bun. Photographer unknown.

[13] In traditional mummers plays, the characters shout semi-nonsensical threats at one another, such as “Mind your eyes and guard your blows!”  Ours shout terms from the jargon of web archiving.

[14] Fark is one of the sites in AFC’s digital culture web archive. WARC is a file format used to archive web content. Minerva was an early name for the Library of Congress’s web archiving project, and Pandora is an Australian web archiving project. Slashdot is another of the sites in AFC’s digital culture web archive. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr are popular social media platforms where internet folklore circulates.

[15] “Validating” is the final step for Library employees in recording our hours so we can get paid. If you leave for the weekend without validating, you feel invalid!

selfie4jpg

Mummers gather for a selfie. Photo by Kate Zwaard.

[16] The presence of a quack doctor is the most stable element of this genre of traditional Christmas mummers plays. It has become traditional in our play to summon the Doctor by invoking the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare.”  Since the Doctor character is a quack who succeeds by luck or magic, this could be seen as an endorsement or an indictment of the law!

[17] Dr. B. is an affectionate name for Dr. Billington, the recently retired Librarian of Congress. The question “Doctor Who?” recalls the British sci-fi TV series, and the Dr.’s claim to have “regenerated” confirms her identity as the famous Time Lord.  Doctor Who is a rich source of Internet culture.

[18] The Wayback Machine is an access tool that accesses and displays archived web sites.  Here we use it to refer to the Doctor’s time machine, the Tardis.

[19] These are references to campuses of the Library of Congress; the main three buildings on Capitol Hill are named for Presidents Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, Landover is where some of our offsite storage facilities are located, and NAVCC is the National AudioVisual Conservation Center, also known as “The Packard Campus,” in Culpeper, Virginia.  The text also makes reference to Terry Brooks’s “Magic Kingdom of Landover” novels.

Band

The band: Maggie Kruesi, Jennifer Cutting, Maya Lerman, Catherine Kerst, Rosemary Hall. Photo by Kate Zwaard.

[20] The Library has just reorganized, and one of the new units is National and International Outreach, or NIO.

[21] Some traditional Mummers Play texts give the doctor a highfalutin way of speaking that includes made-up words for diseases. The first half of this speech contains jargon from web archiving reconfigured like the Doctor’s traditional lines. Momentum is our budget software at the Library. Continuing Resolutions are passed by Congress as stopgap measures in lieu of budgets, holding spending at last year’s levels and therefore requiring freezes in pay, hiring, and spending. In some traditional plays, the Doctor refers to “all other vandorious diseases.” It was a short step from that to “librarious diseases.”

[22] Web archivists seek to preserve the “look and feel” of a website being preserved.

[23] The Sonic Screwdriver is The Doctor’s signature tool on Doctor Who.

[24] The mummers here resemble politicians engaged in a debate. Any resemblance to real politicians currently on the campaign trail is purely coincidental!  Father Christmas borrows the Happy Cat meme’s famous phrase, “can has cheezburger.”

[25] In the Library’s web archiving workflow, recommending officers suggest sites that are worth archiving. MOC is an acronym for the Library’s Web Archiving Management Oversight Committee.

[26] Brony is a term for a male fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is MagicThis is the subject of many memes.

[27] Eezum Squeezum is the name of a character in some of the AFC’s Carpenter Collection mummers plays. We decided it was a good name for JAC’s accordion.

[ms149-0050v28] “The Gloucestershire Wassail” is a song sung by rural farm-workers in Gloucestershire, England, while visiting and toasting the inhabitants of nearby farms and houses.  The words to the song were first published in 1813.  One hundred and twenty years later, James Madison Carpenter photographed Gloucestershire wassailers and recorded their song.  His recordings, photos of the wassailers, and manuscripts of the song, are preserved in the AFC archive.  See one at right.  The version we sing is derived from various published versions, but such names as “Whitefoot” and “Old Broad,” which were names for farm animals, have been replaced with more generic descriptors such as “the milk cow” and “the ox,” which makes the song more comprehensible to non-farming folk.

 

4 Comments

  1. Jenny (AJ) Groome
    December 23, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    I want to work here!
    I could teach you all a sword dance as done in some other mummers plays

  2. Mary Ackerman
    December 24, 2015 at 9:34 am

    This was so much fun to read. I am sure the audience had a great time watching all of you creative folks! Way to go!

  3. Mike Rivers
    December 28, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    You folks sure know how to have fun.

    I played the doctor in a somwhat more traditional mummers play put together by Michael Cooney for a public televison broadcast some 40 years ago – I don’t think it’s archived on the web.

    I had free reign of what was in my tool bag (my field engineering tool kit, which I still have, and carry to folk festivals some times. I recall pulling out an egg beater, a miniature oscilloscope, a grease gun, and the implement that revived St. George – a turkey baster.

  4. Barbara Talbot
    January 5, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Found this following links from the Anniversary post by Nancy Groce. It is a wonderful read I would have loved to see it performed. So clever

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