The Alma Otter

Alma Otter 7

The University of Illinois hasn’t had an official mascot since 2007, when they retired “Chief Illiniwek.” Like many people I despised that mascot and consider it racist. However, I despise attacks on Free Speech even more. The University is in a bind right now, because when they eliminated the “Chief,” they failed to replace it with a new mascot. Consequently many U of I sportsball fans and alumni continue to “support the Chief” while the U of I misuses trademark law in weak attempts to stop them, mostly for virtue-signal points. This article in the local rag today got me thinking (text below, until I receive a copyright threat):

Pro-Chief group plans event for Saturday’s game

CHAMPAIGN — As the University of Illinois weighs how best to move beyond Chief Illiniwek, a pro-Chief group has organized another “Paint the Hall Chief!” event for Saturday’s Illini game at State Farm Center.

Students for Chief Illiniwek, a registered student organization at the UI, posted a notice online calling on fans to “Honor the spirit of Chief Illiniwek” by wearing Chief gear to the 11 a.m. basketball game against Penn State.

The group calls itself a “progressive Registered Student Organization that supports the education of students and the surrounding community on the subject of Chief Illiniwek and related symbolism, and the right to their free expression of support.”

Last year, the student group hosted a similar event on Senior Night, the final home game of the season.

It caused tensions beforehand, with Chief opponents demanding that the UI or government officials stop the event and the university forcing the student group to stop using officially trademarked Chief images or similar logos to advertise it.

Opponents had argued that the event violated university rules, state and federal anti-discrimination laws and the UI’s agreement with the NCAA to stop using American Indian symbols in its athletic program.

UI officials called it a free speech issue and said they can’t control whether fans wear the Chief logo on their shirts.

In the end, the event prompted a few extra Chief shirts in the crowd and 40 protesters outside, but no appearance by a Chief portrayer.

“They certainly have the right of free expression and free speech,” campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said Friday. “They also have to exercise those rights in a way that complies with our policy and the rules of the facility.”

Chief opponents have argued that events such as “Paint the Hall Chief” or appearances inside the arena by unofficial Chief portrayers constitute a protest of the UI’s decision to retire the Chief and therefore should also be banned.

State Farm Center rules ban any protests inside the center and limit them to designated outdoor areas that don’t block any exits or entrances to the arena. Flyers can be distributed outdoors as long as the message is not commercial or political, according to the policy.

Last year, the student group Turning Point USA also distributed “Honor the Chief” flyers inside the area, and about 200 were confiscated by State Farm Center staff.

UI student Blair Nelson, a member of Turning Point and Students for Chief Illiniwek, did not respond to questions about whether a Chief portrayer might appear or whether organizers planned to hand out fliers again this year.

“Planned for the day will be a showing of true Illini spirit from the most dedicated supporters of the university. We encourage fans to pick up their Chief gear this week from any number of local retailers and wear that gear proudly to the game to show their support! Our focus is in the whole community’s participation, not individual attendance,” he wrote in an email.

Kaler noted that the event comes as the Commission on Native Imagery appointed by Chancellor Robert Jones is trying to “find a path that recognizes our shared history but also helps develop new traditions that bring our community together.”

“We definitely think that tradition does not bring people together,” she said, noting that Native American students and faculty have made clear that the Chief is hurtful.

Illinois Student Government President Walter Lindwall said Monday he wasn’t sure whether any student groups planned to protest the event.

The UI retired the Chief in 2007 under pressure from the NCAA after more than a decade of protest from groups who considered it a racist mascot, and it stopped mass-producing Chief merchandise soon afterward. But it retained ownership of the Chief trademark to maintain control of its use and has challenged pro-Chief groups’ use of it in the past.

Students for Chief Illiniwek had used a circular logo to advertise the 2018 event that was based on the official Chief logo, with State Farm Center’s seating chart replacing the feathers in the Chief’s headdress. The UI complained that it was too similar to the trademarked Chief logo still owned by the university. The revised announcement used a photo of State Farm Center instead.

Organizers also altered the title of the event slightly, replacing the “e” in “Chief” with a logo developed in 2012 by the Council of Chiefs (past Chief portrayers) — three orange and blue horizontal stripes forming a profile.

And the UI told the student group to stop using a photo of the last official Chief Illiniwek portrayer, Dan Maloney, at a UI basketball game, saying the university owns the copyright to that image.

This year’s event notice features a photo of an unofficial Chief portrayer standing in the crowd during an Illini basketball game.

Free Speech includes speech one finds abhorrent, so I don’t want to see “Chief” supporters suppressed. A better solution would be the adoption of a new mascot, which the University has failed to do for over a decade. But recently a viable alternative was posted to Reddit: The Alma Otter (a play on the Alma Mater). There are now a few fecebook pages promoting the Otter, but so far only illustrated with photographs.

This is where a cartoonist is needed.

I banged these out this morning. Surely Alma Otter can be refined and altered, but does s/he have promise? If the “Chief” fans are making their own t-shirts and sweatshirts and buttons and stickers with no endorsement from the University, why should Alma Otter fans wait for official adoption? Start merching now. Alma Otter is cuter, friendlier, and less disgusting than the “Chief,” with lots of imprint possibilities. Since I’m a Free Culture advocate, and since the University has no trademark on Alma Otter, I invite one and all to MERCH THE HELL OUT OF IT. No permission needed- these are all Free Culture, go for it. If you have a merch plan and the money to produce it, I will gladly draw more Alma Otterage for it.

Please, please, show how it’s possible to both eschew racism and support Free Speech.

Alma Otter 1

Alma Otter 3

 

Alma Otter 2
Alma Otter 4

Alma Otter 5Alma Otter

OMG Nekkid:Alma Otter 9 Alma Otter 8

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Panel: Does Sex Matter? Gender Identity vs. Material Reality

Guernsey_Women_at_the_Stake

Saturday, March 23rd, 3-5pm
Urbana Free Library, Lewis Auditorium (downstairs)
210 W. Green Street, Urbana IL 61801

A transwoman, a detransitioner, and a radical feminist walk into a Library…. Speaking from different perspectives on modern gender identity politics, these three panelists agree that all people broadly deserve civil rights protections. But should gender identity replace sex as a legal category? Women – particularly marginalized, imprisoned, lesbian, and abused women – pay the highest price for this trend, as sex-based protections and resources are rolled back in the name of “inclusivity.”

Despite their unwavering support for individual expression, each speaker has faced repercussions for critically analyzing gender identity, including threats of violence, professional blacklisting, and loss of friendships. They join for this event in the hope it will encourage wider civil and respectful discussion.

No lives will be harmed or erased while exploring these topics.

Panelists:

Corinna Cohn is an adult transsexual from Indianapolis. Having undertaken hormone therapies and sex reassignment surgery as a teenager, Corinna addresses the responsibilities accrued by a male inhabiting the social role of women, and what young people should know before making an irreversible commitment to transition.

Carey Callahan is a detransitioned woman and family therapist from Ohio. She  explores the role of sexism in the rise of youth referrals for gender dysphoria and the portrayal of detransitioners in the media.

Nina Paley is an animator from Urbana, best known for feature films Sita Sings the Blues and Seder-Masochism. An outspoken critic of both censorship and sexism, she has been no-platformed and blacklisted locally and abroad for saying penises are male.

Moderator:

Traci Nally is Executive Vice President & General Counsel for News-Gazette Media. For over 30 years, she has worked in the areas of defamation, access to public records and meetings, protection of reporters’ newsgathering privileges, and other first amendment and free speech related matters.

This program is not sponsored by The Urbana Free Library.

fecebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1089114847927752/

website link: http://blog.ninapaley.com/does-sex-matter/

Poster: print ‘n’ share:Does Sex Matter? flyer

Blacklisted

Ebertfest (Roger Ebert’s Film Festival) is the big film festival in my town (Champaign-Urbana, Illinois). In October, its director told 2 film critics/scholars I know that my new feature film Seder-Masochism was “at the top of our list.” Which makes sense, since it’s by an Urbana filmmaker (me) whose last film was a star at the festival (Sita Sings the Blues) and contains my late father’s voice, which is known to much of the fest’s audience (he used to be Mayor of Urbana, as well as a math professor at the U of I). I emailed Ebertfest in January to ask if they were going to screen it, because I have to make plans in April. They didn’t reply. I emailed them again over a week later (Friday). “Sorry, we don’t have room for it.”

A week earlier Seder-Masochism was the target of a de-platforming campaign in Belgium. The women’s film festival that programmed its Belgian premiere removed all traces of it from their web site after transactivists threatened them. A few days before that, I was the target of a Twitter mob for sharing opinions with Graham Linehan.

Screenshot 2019-01-23 17.37.59

Ebertfest’s decisions are made behind closed doors, and I’m certainly not entitled to be at any film festival. But it is my opinion that their decision is very much related to my defamation and condemnation as a “TERF”. Much of the witch-hunt against gender-critical feminists comes from Academia, and Ebertfest is an extension of the University of Illinois College of Media. Last Fall the self-described “Chair of Gender Studies” Mimi Nguyen led a campaign against me to have my film de-platformed at a local cafe.

Mimi_Nguyen1Mimi_Nguyen2

I am blacklisted, but I will not shut up.

Bicycling from Urbana Il to Indianapolis IN

I have done it, and it is paved. Some parts are terrifying, but at least there’s no gravel. Let’s begin:

1. This is the way cyclists from Urbana get to Kickapoo State Park. County Rd 1700 N is quiet and pleasant and even scenic in places.

01 Urbana to Ogden

2. Continuing to Kickapoo. There’s a bridge here that’s closed to cars, but you can walk your bike over it. You can also walk your velomobile over it, though it’s a bit trickier.

02 Ogden to Kickapoo

IMG_6891 Continue reading Bicycling from Urbana Il to Indianapolis IN

Bicycling fauna for me

I’m going to lead a weekly Recumbent Ride for the local Prairie Cycle Club, so I drew some things for it:

Bicyclin' Bison

Bicyclin’ Bison

Bicyclin' Deer (the white-tailed deer is the state animal of Illinois)

Bicyclin’ Deer (the white-tailed deer is the state animal of Illinois)

Here’s the resultant flyer:

Recumbent Ride card2

March 1: Seder-Masochism Work-In-Progress Screening

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Tuesday March 1, 7:30 pm
The Art Theater
126 W. Church St., Champaign IL

All singing! All dancing! All 40+ minutes of my feature-film-in-progress, Seder-Masochism! This is not the finished movie, but the core musical scenes animated in Flash. While I take a production break to learn new software to make the rest of the film, let’s watch all these crazy scenes together in a theater. Featuring:
Goats!
Egypt!
Plagues!
Death!
Idols!
Commandments!
Unsubtle phallic imagery!
…and MORE!

$5 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds. FREE MATZOH!

What Is Copyright?

Which picture best depicts Copyright? Vote in comments.

©Talk2015_10001

A.

©Talk2015_10002

B.

©Talk2015_10003

C.

I’ll be asking this question tonight at this talk:

Questioning Copyright: Sharing or Stealing?

Date: 5/11/2015
Start Time: 7:00 PM
End Time: 8:30 PM

This event will be at Pizza M, 208 West Main Street, downtown Urbana. Delicious snacks from Pizza M will be provided.

Description:
 Does copyright protect creative work? What impact does copyright have on censorship? And what would happen if we abolished copyright? Join us for a provocative conversation with two guests: artist and copyright abolitionist Nina Paley and UIUC law professor and activist Paul Heald.

Nina Paley is the creator of the animated musical feature film Sita Sings the Blues and the short This Land Is Mine. Her adventures in our broken copyright system led her to joinQuestionCopyright.org as artist-in-residence, where she produced a series of animated shorts about intellectual freedom called Minute Memes. As half of PaleGray Labs, she develops techniques to combine animation with her other passions of quilting and embroidery. Nina is a former syndicated cartoonist, a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, and currently making a new animated feature called Seder-Masochism.

Paul Heald lectures on patent, copyright and international intellectual property law around the world. He is the University of Illinois Richard W. and Marie L. Corman Professor of Law and is currently a fellow and associated researcher at CREATe, the RCUK Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy, based at the University of Glasgow. He’s also the author of a recently released mystery novel Death in Eden.

 

A new video about meeeeeeeee

Alumnuts

University High School 1984

Super high-res (800 dpi) image at archive.org!

I recently dug up, scanned and restored this cartoon I drew in 1984 for the Uni High yearbook. It makes me nostalgic not for school (for which I still carry much resentment*) but for the glorious escape drawing provided those years. There were no art classes at Uni while I was there, for which I am eternally grateful. While my liberal friends are mostly “arts education” boosters, I owe my survival to Art staying beyond the reach of school, teachers, and institutionalization. School ruined math, literature, physical exercise, social interactions, and pretty much everything else that could be beautiful – thank doG it didn’t ruin drawing too.

 

*Dropping out of the University of Illinois at the end of my Sophomore year was the first Great Decision I ever made. My second Great Decision was freeing Sita Sings the Blues and dropping out of Copyright. I’ve only made two Great Decisions in my life, but they’re plenty. Dayenu.

My first solo Art Quilt Show Opens June 15 at Sleepy Creek Vineyards

Mark yer calendars! My first Art Quilt Show opens June 15 at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in hip, happenin’ rural-area-between-Urbana-and-Danville, IL.

Nina Paley Art Quilt Show 2013

Art Quilts will be on the walls June 15-September 15, 2013

Opening: June 15
Reception: 6pm
Screening of Sita Sings the Blues: 8pm

Sleepy Creek Vineyards is three miles south of Oakwood, Illinois, just off Interstate 74 between Danville and Champaign, IL.
Address:  8254 E 1425 North Rd., Fairmount, IL 61841
Phone: 217-733-0330
Directions

Want to see the place? Sleepy Creek has a funny webseries you can watch right now! My favorite is episode 6, it cracks me up.

R.I.P. Roger Ebert

I am so grateful I got to meet Roger Ebert in 2009, when he screened Sita Sings the Blues at Ebertfest. He couldn’t speak then, but he stood onstage while his computer’s synthetic voice read his comments and looked intently in my eyes to make sure I was taking it in. He really wanted me to receive his gift, which was hard because it was so generous.

Roger Ebert and Nina Paley at Eberfest 2009. Photo by Chris Anderson

Here is his longer review of Sita Sings the Blues, which brought many, many viewers to it.

Illinois

I’ve been rather silent this Summer, blog-wise. That’s because I spent it in my hometown Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. And…I’m moving back here for a while. Much as I love New York, the peace, quiet, space, affordability, bike-friendliness, and generally easy living of this place have me hooked for now. I couldn’t wait to get out of here when I was 20 but now, 24 years later, it’s a different town and I’m a different woman (I like to think we’ve both improved). Anyway if I get bored and restless New York will still be there.

While I settle in, enjoy this time-lapse movie of a bike ride I took yesterday:

work-in-progress

Here’s our pal the Angel of Death, hero of the Old Testament, doing what He does best in a scene I’m working on.

It’s been slow going working on Seder-Masocochism. In fact I’ve hardly worked on it at all. Instead I’ve been shuttling between New York and Urbana, IL, attending Ebertfest, hanging out with my Momz, and dating this guy. This “human relationships” stuff takes time, time I could be sitting in a lonely garret with nothing to do but animate. But don’t worry, Urbana will eventually become as boring as I remember it growing up, and I’ll turn inward for solace once again.

Did I mention I plan to spend this Summer in Urbana? It’s just as hot and humid as New York, but the garbage cans are spaced more widely apart and there are fewer tourists. Plus I will have access to a swimming hole out in the prairie. After 8 consecutive Summers in densely-packed New York, that alone is reason for me to spend the hottest months away this year.

Help the University of Illinois Library Help “Nina’s Adventures”

They need $7,000 to scan, prep, and upload my entire comics oeuvre, including Nina’s Adventures and Fluff. Under a Creative Commons Share Alike license, of course, so everyone can see, share, use, and build on them.

The Library is looking for…

$7,000 for Digital Content Creation to digitize a collection of the original comic strip art boards of Nina Paley, an Urbana-born cartoonist and animated filmmaker, whose award-winning animated film Sita Sings the Blues was reviewed by Roger Ebert as “astonishingly original” and selected by him for screening at Ebertfest 2009 in Champaign.
Her cartoon series include Nina’s Adventures (self-syndicated) and Fluff (distributed internationally by Universal Press Syndicate).  Nina’s Adventures was a semi-autobiographical, often experimental, alternative weekly comic strip that delivered incisive commentary on consumerism, overpopulation, and other social issues.  Ms. Paley is interested in making her artwork openly and freely available for distribution and reuse.
If interested please call the Library: (217) 333-5683

Back from Nerd Central

And crazy busy. Chicago and Urbana and Ebertfest were great, amazing, beyond my ability to emotionally comprehend, I’ve never had a week like that before. Then to top it off, Sita won Best Narrative Feature at the Indian Film festival of Los Angeles, and moved to #1 on Critical Consensus. That’s just nuts.

Anyway, it was great being back in Urbana, my hometown, where nerds are made as well as born. I was raised nerd, by nerds, and it’s only a fluke that I appear to be an artist; my heart belongs to nerd-dom. Want proof? Here I am visiting family friend, genius, and art-supporter Theo Gray at Wolfram Research:ninatheo.jpg
My Free Culture activism is nerdy too, inspired as it is by the Free Software movement. Theo doesn’t like it, and made fiercely pro-copyright arguments as only a proprietary software nerd can.

theoninatable.jpg

For contrast, here’s a picture of me with Richard Stallman in New York:
ninastallman.jpg
Whose side am I on, anyway? The side of NERDS!