On a recent trip to Trivandrum, India, I decided to try learning to touch-type in Dvorak (after decades of hunt-and-peck in QWERTY). Here I share some excerpts of my “Dvorak Diary”.
Tuesday, December Thirtieth, Two thousand fourteen….
I have been kinda ‘offline’ since returning. The last legs of my flights were awful, and I still haven’t recovered, though at this point it’s probably jetlag more than exhaustion that has me failing to connect to ‘my’ world and identity. I haven’t felt connected online, and am concerned about how I let Facebook information just wash over me with no real engagement on my part. It’s a hell of a lot of information to just suck through me like a stream. I surely have more than enough information rattling around in my head already. Maybe it’s time to let it settle, to digest it and let it adjust to the habitat of my mind and maybe make something of itself instead of just washing through like a tsunami. I feel less satisfied being an information node than a full human animal. Jetlag reminds me I am an animal, and no amount of information can heal my exhausted body. I recently read that staring into screens is terrible for sleep – I read that staring into a screen, ha ha – so last night I didn’t check email or read Facebook.
Is Facebook the television of today? It’s not broadcast, and it can be useful sometimes, but I become very passive with it, especially at night when I turn to it in my insomnia.
Guess what I found at my parents’ house in Urbana? A VHS tape called “NINA PALEY DEMO REEL 1998.” It contained my very first animation as an adult (my very very first was when I was about 13, but I’ve lost those Super-8 reels). I didn’t go to school, I just taught myself from books and asking friends. It helped that I was dating an animator; he owned an animation table, which I’d never seen before let alone used, and it was on that that I made this:
Straight out of Nina’s Adventures, right? Audio is from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide.”
The first stop-motion clay animation I made, Luv Is…, is Not Safe For Work and is embarrassingly neurotic, but the same characters appear in this, my second stop-motion clay animation:
I Heart My Cat was shot on a 16mm Krasnogorsk camera with a light leak, and you can see the adorable Desi at the very end. Nik Phelps made the fantastic score, one of my favorite scores ever.
For “Cancer” I drew, scratched and painted this directly on an old 35mm porn film. My boyfriend-at-the-time’s sister had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Music is the Del Rubio Triplets singing the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.”
These all have copyright notices on them, because I believed in copyright back then. But I hereby release them, consider them CC-BY-SA but better still ignore all licenses no matter what they are and do whatever you want. Thanks to Ken Levis for digitizing the VHS tape. You kids today should be grateful you have all these digital formats instead of VHS! It was awful to work with, and as you can see the quality was crap too. Hooray for technological progress! Power to the people!
It begins: you can now watch a streaming version of the entire film at channel13.org.
Many more formats will be online by March 7th, the day Sita Sings the Blues airs on WNET TV (part of Reel 13 on March 7 at 10:45 pm). These will be higher resolution and free to copy and share. If you want a copy, please wait for the higher quality formats instead of capturing the very compressed channel13.org streaming version. As the artist, I want the highest quality versions to circulate; it’d be sad if a super-compressed capture started torrenting first. Together, we can keep quality high!
On March 7, New York’s WNET Channel13 will broadcast Sita Sings the Blues. WNET hopes to make a compressed version available for streaming on their web site even earlier (they’re aiming for February 26; we’ll keep you posted).
Note that we’re still in negotiations with the old music licensors, who may or may not allow us to freely share my film. PBS can broadcast and stream it regardless, due to special conditions in US copyright law. But the more”seed” sites we have lined up before the release, the better.
We’ll need some “seed” sites to host it: Internet servers with the capacity to offer about 500-600GB of data for public download. If you or your institution has that kind of bandwidth and storage, please contact us. We’ll work out a way to get the data to you.
Why March 7th?
That night, Sita Sings The Blues will be broadcast on New York’s public television station WNET — Channel 13 (see here for details). Public television has a special exemption written into U.S. copyright law, such that they can show the film even when it’s still in copyright jail for everyone else. However, Nina Paley has made progress on finalizing contracts with the music composition copyright holders, and we believe we’ll be able to release the entire film by then. Since the New York showing will expose the film to a large new audience, when those people go to recommend it to all their friends, we want their friends to have an easy way to get it.
Note that free distribution really means free: you will be able to watch the film on your computer, make DVDs and distribute them, and hold public screenings (the film will circulate online in high-resolution formats appropriate for screenings). Your activities can be commercial or non-commercial, that’s up to you.
Our thanks to all who have donated so far to enable this experiment in decentralized distribution! But we can still use help: the rights clearance process — or rather, the “restrictions clearance” process — is not cheap. So if you’ve been considering donating to support Nina’s effort, here’s that link again.
Sita Sings the Blues is going to be broadcast on New York PBS station WNET Channel 13 on They haven’t chosen the exact date yet, but it will be sometime in MarchSaturday March 7 at 10:45pm on the series Reel13.
PBS enjoys a special privilege among broadcasters: they can legally broadcast music without having to clear individual master or synchronization licenses. That means even while Sita is in copyright jail, she can still legally air on PBS. WNET is hoping to be the first of many PBS affiliates to air the film. You can write or call your local PBS affiliate and ask them to broadcast Sita too!
WNET is our first experiment with Sita’s copyleft plan. Although the film isn’t free under copyleft yet (because I still haven’t received the promised contracts from the rightsholders, let alone raised the money), we’re acting in accordance to those principles already. WNET is making a voluntary payment equivalent to what they normally offer programs on Reel13. That’s $3,000, a third of which will be spent updating the credits and having a new HD master made to their specifications. They understand Sita is non-exclusive, and that any derivative works they make (such as subtitles) must also be open-content. But as long as bad copyright laws prohibit everyone else from broadcasting Sita, PBS gets exclusive access by default.
We’re still looking for donors and underwriters. Want to see your name on PBS? Here’s the credit breakdown:
$250 or more – Donor (small but legible font in end crawl)
$1,000 or more – Production Angel (larger font, sub-credit of your choice)
$10,000 or more – Executive Producer (largest font, sub-credit of your choice)
$50,000 or more – Sponsor: same as Executive Producer, plus I will modify the “intermission” to include your image/message as long as it complies with PBS’s rules (no soliciting). I can animate you or your product walking out for popcorn along with the “cast”! Or whatever you want.
The credits lock Friday February 13. That’s exactly four weeks from today. After then, you can still donate (we hope you will!) but the tape will be locked for WNET.
Please donate here. Donations under $250 still gratefully appreciated, and all donor names (even the smallest) will be acknowledged in a special credits section on the official DVD, as well as the upcoming official web site.