How Does This Become a Thing?

Off in a random corner of YouTube, I accidentally “discovered” mime dance. It had to be an accident, because I would never have thought this up myself. Not only did someone else think this up, but it caught on. There are thousands of these videos, and the vast majority of them appear to be religious videos. Some are several years old.

Watching them–and I’ve watched several now in fascination–I can see some continuity with the physical expressiveness of many gospel singers. I still have to wonder, though, how you move from that to the white makeup and gloves, lip syncing and dramatic literalism of mime dance. Articles and sites that talk about mime dance don’t seem to be very clear on its history. Rather they’re focused on its spread and on individual performers. I’d love to find out how it coalesced into its own form with its own traditions. [Read more…]

Hind, Heart, and Head

I’m a bit behind the times here, with my only excuse being that War Horse is not really my kind of story. If, like me, you still haven’t seen this puppetry, you need to watch this.

The making of the puppets is astonishing artistry in its own right.

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.