In Which Sara Mayhew Abuses Copyright to Harass

Four months ago, I documented the fact that Sara Mayhew had libeled Rebecca Watson. The next day, I followed up by reporting her response to that documentation. Since that time she has continued to repeat the libel.

Yesterday, out of the blue, Mayhew decided to comment on that post to assert a copyright claim on her response.

You do not have permission from me, the artist, to download and repost my art. This is a commercial website and your use of the artwork in its entirety for non-educational purposes does not meet standards of fair use. Your reproduction has the potential to impair the market for this work, by hosting it on your server and therefore discouraging traffic to the original work.

Please delete the image from your server.

I’m careful about copyright issues here and decently educated on fair use, so I was pretty sure her claim was unfounded. I went back and checked anyway, because, you know, careful. Then I laughed, forwarded the notification of her comment to Ed Brayton because I tell him about even bizarre claims about the legality of what happens on his network, and responded. [Read more…]

About Actors

So, you need to know something about actors. There are lots of reasons to get into acting. Some people enjoy the challenge. Some enjoy the attention. Some enjoy being good at the work. Some enjoy making art. Some enjoy making people happy. Some see the obvious next step in their celebrity career, and those people frequently suck at acting.

But for some people, the reward in acting is the chance to be someone other than who they are for a brief period of time. Being someone who isn’t them is better than the alternative. There’s very little in the culture or industry of acting that’s set up to solve that problem, just a lot set up to use it. “Entertain me, and I will pay you to escape for a short time.”

In order for this bargain to work, the actor has to be good enough to entertain us but not so good that we make them a celebrity. When an actor reaches the status of celebrity, we demand that they be “themselves” in order to entertain us. “Talk to this reporter and reveal something about the *real* you. Tell us what you *really* think. Tell us stories that allow us to feel that we know the *real* you.”

Don’t fall in love with those actors. Don’t make them celebrities. You’ll hurt them. They’ll break your heart.

Good luck telling which ones they are.

The Invisible Lighthouse

Thomas Dolby is currently on tour, and if you have any fondness for the man or his music, you’ll want to see this show. For that matter, if you have any interest in independent film-making, you’ll want to see this show. I saw it last night, and I’m still trying to process what I saw. This is slightly inconvenient, as the review I wrote of it is already online.

Dolby has made a film about the Suffolk coast where he grew up and now lives again, about being surrounded by history, about memory and story and impermanence. Then he left the film unfinished, so he can narrate and play it to small audiences with the help of a world-class sound designer.

And that is only one part of the evening in store for you if you go. Don’t miss it.

The Tone Troll

Isn’t he a beauty?

Charcoal sketch of an angry-looking troll on some rocks holding up a tuning fork.

This image comes courtesy of Tessa Murphy. I’ve plugged Tessa before for her business, which used to be called Howling Pig. While I loved the name, the business is now Tessa Essentials and more accurately advertises what she does, which is make lovely scented soaps, lotions, and balms. Tessa is taking a Photoshop class and decided to make this charmer. He’s free for anyone to use. Just credit Tessa and give a link to her shop.

Now would also be a great time for anyone to consider starting their holiday shopping early, if that’s your thing. Tessa’s stuff makes great gifts, and she could use the income.

Via John McKay.


Most of what you’ll hear about Women in Secularism 2 will be about the talks, but some of us got an extra treat. At Saturday night’s fundraising banquet, Shelley Segal played a set for us. I already knew Shelley was lovely and that her album was good after Brianne interviewed her for Atheists Talk. (That was that long ago?!) If you haven’t heard An Atheist Album, give it a taste.

What I didn’t know, and what you should give yourself an opportunity to find out in person, is how much more powerful Shelley’s songs and voice are in person. Here’s a little sample:

[Read more…]

That’s What Jolly Meant

As I post this, Minnesota’s marriage equality bill should have just been signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton. To celebrate (again! more!), I bring you this charming picture.

Paul Bunyon looking very bear-ish in cutoff shorts, arm in arm with the Jolly Green Giant. Text: In Minnesota, "Equal" Equals Love.

I retweeted someone sharing this* yesterday, and Kelly Barnhill (you remember Kelly) responded to let us know that this image was produced by friends of hers. Spunk Design Machine created this for their Poster Offensive. Now I’m sad I didn’t know about the poster offensive when it happened.

Still, I can squee over it now. Because, you know, I needed another reason to be happy about this.

* For those not up on Minnesota icons, see this and this.


One of the great things about living in the Twin Cities is the music scene. No, I don’t just mean Prince, The Replacements, and Brother Ali either. There is a vibrant folk and folk fusion musical community here that produces music that makes the classification parts of your brain hurt even as your ears are happy.

One of the projects from this community is currently seeking funding for mixing and mastering an album. I’ll let Natalie Nowytski explain, because I couldn’t do it justice.

It’s a little known fact that Czechs and Slovaks dig bluegrass. So do I. I also happen to really like Czech and Slovak folk songs. But interestingly, most bluegrass and “newgrass” out of those countries are original compositions; there is no tradition of taking old Czech, Slovak, and Rusyn folk songs and infusing them with a bluegrass sensibility. After years of study and performance of Eastern European music—including a tour many years ago in the Czech Republic, where I was first introduced to Czech bluegrass—and a 3-song demo I recorded shortly thereafter with like-minded musicians, I’m finally working on my first solo album, called Amerikana: traditional folk songs from Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the Rusyns of Eastern Slovakia set to American bluegrass, old time, country, and Americana arrangements, centered around the Prague-based Amistar resophonic guitar. Thanks to the Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, I’ve been able to research, collect, transcribe, arrange, and record this new body of work with some of my favorite local folk musicians, like Peter Ostroushko, Steve Kaul (The Brass Kings), Adam Kiesling (Pert’ Near Sandstone), Jim Parker (Pig’s Eye Landing), Scott Keever (Orkestar Bez Ime), and Gabriela Sweet (Bayou Hazard). I’m now at the post-production stage and need to raise enough money to finish the project before the grant year is over in April.

Full disclosure: One of the musicians on the album is an old roommate of mine. I’m pretty sure that has nothing to do with how much I like the idea of the project, though.

If this is your sort of thing, or if you now need to listen to figure out what sort of thing it is, consider helping fund the project.

Don’t Tell Mama

It’s another long day of dance photos today. They’re fun, but…well, long.

One of the middle-school groups on Saturday is dancing to “Don’t Tell Mama”. It was the funniest thing listening to the girls refer to the positions for the photos by the lyrics they went with. Needless to say, they didn’t fit with any of the choreography I’ve seen for the song.

At one point, the instructor stepped back out of the way after posing one of the girls.

Using my low voice, I asked, “So, you’ve had a little discussion group with the dancers to make sure they all understand what the song’s about?”

She didn’t miss a beat. “Oh. Yeah.” Complete deadpan.

And on we went.

One more, gender-swapped for good measure, and because it’s Alan Cumming.