Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This is getting out of hand

So many of you have probably seen my postings about the Orphan Works legislation that has been circulating in Congress this year, if you haven't seen my earlier posts then check them out here and here. Some are pretty long but worth reading. Unfortunately I have a new development to report on that is ridiculous not just for the impact on this legislation, but also, in my opinion, also for the procedure used to pass it:

On Friday afternoon, in the midst of the bailout hoopla, the Senate passed the Orphan Works Bill of 2008 using a procedure known as hotlining. Never heard of that? Neither had I until a couple of months ago when they first tried it. I'll explain in a minute, first let me register my extreme displeasure with my elected officials for passing this bill that would, in the words of David Rhodes president of the School of Visual Arts, "socialize the expense of copyright protection while privatizing the profits of creative endeavors." The main problem with this legislation is that it redefines the concept of copyright as something that is the exclusive private property of the creator (to share or not share as he likes) to something that the public has a primary right to use and it is the creator's obligation to make it available. Think about that one for a minute. What if a law were passed that made it a homeowners' obligation to open their backyard for any stranger who wanted to park there just because they might like your proximity to a tourist attraction? That is the same thing this bill does except instead of some stranger tampering with a flower bed, these will be tampering with artwork that many of us poured our blood, sweat, tears, dreams and aspirations into.

Now is not the time to give up however. Plan B is to stop the House Judiciary Committee from folding their version of the bill and just adopting the Senate's. Doing that would make it much easier for this thing to pass, so lets keep it stalled in committee. Contact your representatives and tell them to oppose the Senate's version (or really, could we just trash this thing altogether?) Go here for an easy link to contact your representative.

Now about ridiculous part number 2. This bill was hotlined, to read a thorough definition of what hotlining is go here. Essentially it's where the 2 party leaders agree to call all their members (using a special hotline installed in the Senate offices) and if no one registers an objection or a "hold" then the bill is passed by "unanimous consent" (UC). Unfortunately that is a misnomer because often no details about the bill have been made public nor has there been any public debate. Even more insane is the fact that a constituent cannot easily find out how their Senator "voted", since it doesn't even have to be a senator that places the hold, or agrees to consent, it can be done by any staff member who answers the phone even without the senator's knowledge.

And lest you think this is something done only for "minor" legislation or non-controversial bills, get this: In the 05-06 Congress only 21 bills of 341 under consideration received a floor vote, with 94% passing on a voice vote or UC. Somehow I don't think 94% of that stuff was non-controversial. Wow, unelected individuals having a major say in how our laws are changed and our money is spent? NOW how do like your tax dollars at work?

So at the moment I'm pissed not only because someone is out there trying to snatch my copyrights away but also because my senators didn't give enough of a damn about my small business to have a real hearing on this matter. Yet they want me to foot the bill so their huge campaign contributors can save their businesses "that are too big to fail"???!!! I think not. Thank goodness for free speech so I can tell them to kiss my a**.

Friday, September 19, 2008

SCBWI Mid-south conference tomorrow

Tomorrow I get to wake up bright and early (like I have just about every morning since Small Fry was born) and head down to the Mid-south Regional conference for SCBWI which happily always takes place in Nashville. I was just going through my portfolio, updating it, adding new images, and I remembered how at last year's conference I had the critique that really set me on a new path with my work. A year ago my portfolio had some strong pieces but also a lot with a more "pastel" look that I learned just doesn't catch the eye of editors in the book publishing world. I was doing fine getting educational and institutional jobs with these but, as I stated when I started this blog, I learned I was going to have to step it up a notch and really put some drama in my images. Over this year I have discovered that this is VERY HARD TO DO. Especially when I'm on a wicked tight deadline. But I am happy to report as flipped through my updated portfolio that I can see a marked increase in drama this year. All the images have more movement, more detail, and bold contrast, gone is the pastel look. Of course I have yet to see if the art director at this year's conference notices this, and since she won't have seen last year's work she won't see an improvement, but for the moment I am happy with myself to see the difference.

In other news, looks like Sprout won in my reader's poll for baby sister's new name! While I got a few e-mails emphatically making the case for their vote I have to say this is a democratic blog when I want it to be, so Sprout it is.

Monday, September 1, 2008

More Adventures with Small Fry..... and the smallest fry!

Back in July, we loaded up the car and headed to Lexington, KY for a mini vacation. The destination was the Kentucky Horse Park which, as a friend of mine put it, is the Sea World of horses. It was a lot of fun and, really, if you are a horse lover at all, this park should be on your must-do list. While the Small Fry was a tad to young to appreciate it the way his horse-lovin' mommy did, it was a good time by all and the following are some of the great shots we got:

Of course there was the obligatory petting zoo. Here Small Fry and Mommy get to know a camel.

If Nashville is Music City, then Lexington is surely Horse City and the KY Horse Park boasts over 100 breeds in residence. One of the coolest exhibits is the Parade of Breeds where they bring out different horses in period dress and after the show you can pet them and ask questions of the handlers. Here's Mommy and Small Fry petting a Morgan horse

While we were there one of the things I really wanted to see was the Man o' War grave and memorial. For all of you folks uninitiated to the world of thoroughbred racing, Man o' War is considered one of the greatest horses ever to race and is listed in the top 100 athletes of the 20th century. He raced in the 1920's and only lost one race, beating all comers and setting records that stand to this day. When he died he was actually embalmed and laid in state at Faraway Farms in Lexington. He is buried at the Horse Park and the memorial is really beautiful, with a life size bronze statue surrounded by fountains and etchings telling his story. As an aside, there were many many bronzes at the park of all different horses and events. These were wonderful to see, not just as a horse lover, but also as an artist. Here's Jim Dear and Small Fry in front of Man o' War:

And finally, what does one do the most when one visits a park dedicated to horses? Well one goes for a ride! And ride we did... well not all of us, since Mommy was sporting a 5 month pregnant tummy, but Small Fry was on the back of pony every day we were there. I am happy to say that he took to it like a fish to water, he was never afraid and every horse we saw he'd say "I want to ride it! I want to ride ON it!" Here he is on one of the many pony rides:

On an entirely different subject, a week after returning from KY, we made the eventful trip the doctor's office to find out if Small Fry was getting a baby sister or baby brother. Now I am the most happy that everything looked healthy and normal on the ultrasound but the news of the day was that it is a baby sister! What's funny is that all along Small Fry insisted that it was a girl and not a boy. Here's her very first picture from the ultrasound:

And finally, since this blog changes the names to protect the innocent, I think I'll poll my readers to get a "handle" for the new baby girl on the way. Check the poll to the right and choose your favorite.