Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Orphan Works Revisited

In 2008 we covered the proposed Orphan Works Bill in two blog posts: "Orphan Works Bill" which covered what it is and how it will affect writers and artists, and "Orphan Works Bill Update", which presents a speculative case study on how it could affect a visual artist. The Bill was temporarily abandoned by Congress in 2008 to the relief of many authors and artists but has just reared its ugly head again. The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) has also been on the case and has just reported a summary of its findings to Australian literary creators. Here's some of what the ASA has had to say:

  • Wednesday evening, US District Court Judge Harold Baer ruled that the mass book digitisation program conducted by five major US universities in conjunction with Google is a fair use under US copyright law. Under that program, Google has converted millions of copyright-protected library books into machine-readable files, duplicating and distributing the digitised books to university libraries. The universities pooled the digitised books into an online database organised by the University of Michigan known as HathiTrust.
  • We disagree with nearly every aspect of the court's ruling...

To read more about it – especially the section about books that were classified as "orphan works" when the author is still very much alive in Australia, check out The ASA Bulletin – October 2012. Seems like the entire idea is rather flawed and extremely suspect.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mermaids Trending

For those amongst you who inhabit the "mer" community or subculture, what we're about to say is not new. But for the landlubbers who haven't tweaked to the fact that mermaids are trending... please read on.

Mermaids started to come out of the water – so to speak – last year. Firstly, the Mer Network mades its appearance—this is a community that discusses issues such as tail-making, monofins, pods, mer fashion, tail swimming, mer gatherings, mer photography and videography, marine biology and oceanography, modeling and performing, and going professional. Then several Facebook groups and pages popped up such as "Mermaids of Facebook", Mermaids are the Best", and "Mermaid's Lair". There are also mermaids galore with their personality-based pages who operate under both their human name and their mermaid name. Indeed, one of the most famous mermaids in the world is Australian born and who now resides in the USA. She is little known in her homeland but is hugely popular in North and South America. Her name is Hannah Fraser AKA Hannah Mermaid

We also saw the beginnings of mermaid blogging: two favs are "I Am a Mermaid" and "Cynthia Mermaid's Blog". The first mermaid event – MerCon and the inaugural World Mermaid Awards – were held in Las Vegas in August 2011 and attracted participants from around the USA and even some Aussies. Weeki Wachee held a mermaid camp last year at its Florida base, and Mid Atlantic Mermaids are hosting a Retreat in Virginia in 2013. And we mustn't forget Mer-Palooza, (you can see pretty pics here) which was held in August 2013 in Orlando, Florida, and which attracted all manner of mermaids from around the world.

We've also seen the launch of the strikingly sumptuous Mermaids and Mythology Magazine from the UK, and Tail Flip from the USA, and we have seen the rise of the mermaid entrepreneur—check out Shimmerbaby Mermaids and Mermaids Dreaming in Australia, and the mermaid art gallery The Mermaid Studio in the USA. There is also a new network starting soon called Mermaid Wishes (the website will be up in 2013) that helps charitable foundations provide mermaid experiences to children who may not be in the best of health. I have it on good authority that Mermaid Wishes already has a database of 30+ mermaids from around the world who will help in any way they can.

Mermaids have also featured prominently in media recently, Firstly, the Huffington Post, which is famous for trend-spotting, recently published a series of mermaid-themed articles. Brenda Peterson reported on Mer Palooza in "How to Become a Real Mermaid", and very clearly spells it out for us: 

"Mermaids are an alluring mythic tradition that calls its siren song to many women then—and especially now. In the last few years, mermaids are surfacing as a hot, new trend, rivaling vampires."

Huffington Post also covered, "Real Life Mermaids in Florida Aquarium (VIDEO)", and is also boldly asking "Mermaid Body Suits The Hottest Trend of the Season?"  It also published "Real Mermaid Facts"and we vaguely remember somewhere some time, asked whether Ariel (as in The Little Mermaid Ariel) had ever received plastic surgery.

The rise in the interest in mermaids is also paralleled with a rise in mermaid hoaxes such as the badly photoshopped mermaid skeleton that was supposedly dug up in Bulgaria of all places. You can see all the photographic evidence on this Dateline News article But most famous of them all was an Animal Planet documentary / mockumentary depending on who you speak to... also, you guess it, covered by the Huffington Post ("'Mermaids: The Body Found' on Animal Planet Argues Mythical Sea Creatures are Aquatic Apes" and the denial "Mermaids Don't Exist: NOAA Confirms 'No Evidence of Aquatic Humanoids Has Ever Been Found'. NOAA stands for National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, in case you're wondering.  The jury is still out on that one... For many mers out there, it's fact not fiction. You can find more on the Animal Planet speculative television show here

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mermaids in Comics 3 – Sailor Twain, or, The Mermaid in the Hudson

We LOVE First Second books! First Second is a US publisher of graphic novels. Julie has a huge collection of American and translated European works from its catalogue. So we were delighted to discover that Sailor Twain Or The Mermaid in the Hudson has just been released and as the title tells you—it features a mermaid.

We haven't read it because it was released just last week, but it was reviewed on the ICv2 website. Here's part of the review:
In Sailor Twain, Siegel introduces readers to late-nineteenth century New York, specifically the culture and life of the Hudson River. Siegel deserves commendation as Sailor Twain is more than a modern and affectionate experiment in or homage to genre fiction--instead, Sailor Twain finds common ground in the serialized nature of nineteenth-century literature, the horror and atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe combined with the intrigue of Arthur Conan Doyle, and the comedic sensibilities of travelling stage performances that later formed the basis for vaudeville as well as early silent cinema and newspaper comics. Told in retrospection through a conversation between Captain Twain and a mysterious, unknown woman named Miss Camomille, the story traverses the Gilded Age and Civil War eras aboard the Lorelei, along the shore, and below the Hudson River itself. With a cast resembling a ship of lost souls, Siegel has crafted an original and innovative supernatural and romantic tale involving the disappearance of passengers coinciding with the arrival of a wounded mermaid named South.
You can spot the mermaid in the video from the 0.39sec mark. Looks like this is one for our Christmas list... to give to each other, of course.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Elf~Fin Leaks and Peeks 30

A perturbed Hyfus... Anxious or not, we're loving the muscles, Jozef!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Movie Mermaids 5 – Hugo

Okay, we don't want to lead you down the garden path and tell you that this movie – set in Paris in 1931 – features definitive underwater mermaids. But we can tell you that there is a mermaid sighting in the silent movie sound stage scene where Neptune and his sea maid entourage appear. If you check out the trailer, you'll be able to see what we mean at the 1 min: 53 second mark. If you watch the movie, you'll be able to see the scene at around the three quarters mark. Mermaids or not, we highly recommend this magical Academy Award-winning film.