Mahma Kan Althaman “Whatever the Cost Was” (2010) - Kuwaiti Artist Fatima Al QadiriThe world’s first Kuwaiti comic book, by Fatima Al Qadiri and Khalid al Gharaballi, titled Mahma Kan Althaman (“Whatever the Price”)—the hermaphroditic lovechild of Moogambo, as well as The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and a 1970s Italian fotonovela, commissioned by Bidoun Magazine. - FQ
The Fijian Meke
Music is woven into the fabric of Fiji and the Meke embraces traditional song and dance to tell of legends, love stories, history and spirits of the islands. It can vary from a blood-curdling spear dance to a gentle and graceful fan dance.
There are two groups in the make - the orchestra (Vakatara), who sit on the ground and sing or chant for the second group, the dancers (Matana).
The instruments are percussion (hardwood gongs, bamboo tubes, beating sticks etc). For the Meke the performers wear garlands of flowers (Salusalu), the men wear full warrior costume and the women, in traditional clothes, glisten with scented coconut oil.
Get into this Trickster History….
With us, we’re obviously what we are, although we’re not what we appear to be. That’s the old trickster thing that I work out of. Legba shows people for what they are, but we are not we what we appear to be. If you look behind the superficial journalistic description of what we are, we are probably the most complex group of people in the United States in the sense that we have European and Native American and African ancestry. Although only one is emphasized, we come from three heritages. Now that’s scientific and that’s been proven, though it’s been a suppressed history because of political reasons. The people in power never wanted these groups to get together. They never wanted the Indians and blacks to get together.
from my post
I’ve felt sorry for Amtrak for a long time. Economic pressures and the unique problems of any rail system based inside the US (where automobile travel has too long been the be-all and end-all) have turned it into a faint shadow of the formerly great passenger and freight rail lines that helped define the 19th and early 20th-century history of the US.
But I’m finished feeling sorry for it as of now. It’s no crime to have fallen on hard times. But offering people what seems to be something wonderful and then ripping them off the minute they start trying to take advantage of it? NOT GOOD.
#AmtrakResidency was designed to allow creative professionals who are passionate about train travel and writing to work on their craft in an inspiring environment. Round-trip train travel will be provided on an Amtrak long-distance route. Each resident will be given a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration. Routes will be determined based on availability.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed by a panel. Up to 24 writers will be selected for the program starting March 17, 2014 through March 31, 2015. A passion for writing and an aspiration to travel with Amtrak for inspiration are the sole criteria for selection. Both emerging and established writers will be considered.
But then you read the terms and conditions, and the alarm bells go off big time. Go read them: I’ll wait. I’m not going to reproduce them here: they give me the pip.
Clause 5 is where the trouble starts. Clause 5 essentially says: “When you turn in your application, gee, anything can happen to your original writing. Who knows? We have a billion PR people working for us whose work yours might be [airquotes] confused with [/airquotes]. By signing this you agree that should this happen, you have no recourse, and we never have to credit you or pay you one thin dime. [But you’re so desperate, you won’t care, will you?] #lol #loser”
Clause 5 by itself ought to be enough to make you walk away, it’s so slimy. But then comes clause 6, in which you assign to Amtrak the irrevocable world rights to all the data in your application including your writing, forever and a day. And the day after that.
I learned the lesson long ago both from other freelance writers and at my agent’s knee, and the lesson is as important now as it ever was — in this day of the effortless digital ripoff, perhaps way more so. The lesson is this: Never give anyone world rights to any of your writing. Ever. Ever. Because who knows if that one piece of writing is the one that would have made you famous worldwide and rich beyond the dreams of avarice? I wouldn’t sell anyone world rights to a story for a million dollars and that necklace of flawless cabochon emeralds I saw in the window at Harry Winston that one time*. But give away world rights to something for a single lousy train ticket? I don’t think so. They could plate the inside of that sleeper with platinum and lay on catering from Dallmayr and I still wouldn’t do it if it meant they got to keep world rights.
Better pay the ticket price yourself and keep the rights to your work in your own pocket than swap those rights for the chance at a single train ride, sleeper or not. (And something else to note here. There is no declaration of who owns the rights to the material you produce on this train trip. There is no way to tell what paperwork you’re going to be required to sign if you actually win. Oh, and did I mention the background checks they want to conduct on you first, to make sure you’re not some kind of crypto-crook who’s going to embarrass them? Clause 9.)
…Now, I hear they’re fixing clause 6 in some way or other (doubtless already having heard the first wave of complaints). That’s all well and good. But I haven’t heard a word about clause 5, which stinks to just as high a heaven. And they tried to get away with clause 6 as it was. That says way too much about their concept of good faith as it applies to writing, and writers.
It’s not worth it. This thing is poison. So please, I beg of you, step away from the very large diesel-powered vehicle. I too am “passionate about train travel and writing”… way more than most people might guess on the first count. But this is not the way to go about it. If they’re willing to try to take this much off you before you even win, what happens when you actually get on board?
*I leaned my forehead against the window right there on Fifth Avenue in the twilight and moaned like a broken thing. Ah God those emeralds. They didn’t have a single inclusion, not one of them. (sigh) …Never mind.
Writing on the train on one’s own nickel: the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise, 2004
(CC train image at the top from Jack Snell on Flickr)
My first thought on reading this and seeing the terms:
That’s not actually that different from a lot of writing contests that I’ve seen.
My second thought:
Oh. Right. Those things are generally awful.
I’m still not fully convinced about Clause 5. I don’t think it is necessarily anything more than a standard derriere-covering maneuver. They WILL get a lot of applications. If one writer’s application is rejected and then later they see praises being heaped on an Amtrak residency writer whose work strikes them as being suspiciously similar…
Do you know how many times I’ve seen people accusing Diane Duane or Terry Pratchett of having ripped off J.K. Rowling, for having written about young wizards learning how to wiz? That’s the kind of thing they’re guarding against.
I can’t argue with the idea of “never give away your rights”, since I’ve said the same thing often enough.
But the thing is, that’s for the writer’s application. Which need only contain one writing sample of up to ten pages. You’re not giving your body of work, you’re not giving away the work you produce on the train.
From the way the thing is written, it seems like they expect the writing sample to be of a personal essay nature, although it’s pointedly not restricted to that.
The crux of it is still that you are being asked to perform an act of the labor of writing for free in exchange for the chance at a train ticket, and I don’t think we have any solid credible idea what the odds are there, but a later clause pegs the number of residencies that will be awarded at 24. So the odds aren’t great.
But at the same time? Meh. You pays your money (or equivalent value in labor) and you takes your chances. As long as you know what it is that you’re giving up and in exchange for what, I’m not going to be the one to tell you not to go for it.
Me? I would do ten pages of work-for-hire in exchange for a train ride. I wouldn’t give up ten pages of something close to my soul for it, and I doubt I would do more than one page of work-for-hire in exchange for a mere chance.
That’s the advice I would close with: know what you’re giving up, know what you’re getting, and don’t give away your soul.
You sure you don’t want too advise people against this? The clauses seem to be preparing for something way beyond what you mentioned.
towards the end of Clause 5, brackets are my own words,:
Applicant understands and agrees that Sponsor has wide access to ideas, stories and other literary, artistic and creative materials submitted to it from outside sources or developed by its own employees and agents (together, “Sponsor Creative”); and, such Sponsor Creative may be competitive with, similar to (or even identical to) the writing sample/answers to questions created and submitted by Applicants; and, Sponsor shall have no liability to Applicant or any third party in respect to or in connection with the development, use, sale and/or commercial exploitation of all or any portion of Sponsor Creative [which can include the applicant’s work word-for-word as stated earlier] by Sponsor and/or its designees and licensees, all of which liability, if any, Applicant hereby expressly and irrevocably waives, releases and discharges.
6. Grant of Rights: In submitting an Application, Applicant hereby grants Sponsor the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy Applicant’s Application, in whole or in part, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing, and to sublicense such rights to any third parties. In addition, Applicant hereby represents that he/she has obtained the necessary rights from any persons identified in the Application (if any persons are minors, then the written consent of and grant from the minor’s parent or legal guardian); and, Applicant grants Sponsor the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy the name, image, and/or likeness of Applicant [I can see this as just being given the right to airbrush and shop the applicant’s picture to make them more attractive and to use when showing who won the contest, but I don’t like the idea that they can modify the applicant’s name and appearance if they ever have to give credit. In theory, they can legally change the person entirely and into anyone else] and the names of any such persons identified in the Application for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing. For the avoidance of doubt, one’s Application will NOT be kept confidential (and, for this reason, it is recommended that the writing sample and answers to questions not contain any personally identifiable information – e.g., name or e-mail address – of Applicant.) Upon Sponsor’s request and without compensation, Applicant agrees to sign any additional documentation that Sponsor may require so as to effect, perfect or record the preceding grant of rights and/or to furnish Sponsor with written proof that he/she has secured any and all necessary third party consents relative to the Application.
That last bolded part is my favorite O__O
The last bolded part can’t be anything but ass-covering. You’ve already agreed to grant them the rights. Signing documents that it turns out the law (or their lawyers) requires to protect that rights costs you nothing more, and that’s all that part requires you to do. Not give away more rights.
Not sign literally anything they put in front of you. Just make the thing you already said you agreed to official.
I’m not going to argue that anyone should take them up on the offer—the biggest red flag is in the later clause, where they say that only 24 applicants will be chosen—but in general the backlash against this is not a lot of different from the backlash against Tumblr’s proposed revisions to the terms of service, where people breathlessly reblogging in fear of the “new” (actually old) provisions where Tumblr gets a worldwide right to publish whatever we post on our blogs.
You extra highlighted “[which can include the applicant’s work word-for-word as stated earlier]” as if you think that phrase is especially damning, but… the applicant’s work they can use as stated earlier is the sample writing included with the application. Not your whole body of work. Not what you write on the train. Not whatever you produce in the future. Just a <10 page (~2500 word) essay or other sample of writing you submit.
If you think about that one piece of writing as work-for-hire (work you do for someone else, renouncing all rights to it), the choice becomes clear: “would I do do this for the chance at a trip valued at $900?” Now, as I said, the chance is the red flag for me, because chances are that thousands of people are going to do this for nothing.
But what about the idea that they can use your work word-for-word and say, “Nope, sorry, coincidence. Someone else wrote that. We owe you nothing.”?
Well, that’s extreme ass-covering. But the thing is: they have the right to use it anyway. Without paying you. Because your compensation is a chance at a train ride, not future royalties or recognition.
So ask yourself what’s more likely: that they’re guarding themselves against the chance that some disgruntled applicant spots a familiar phrase or theme in a highlighted winning applicant’s work and thinks they were robbed of their rightful ticket to ride, or that they have some sinister scheme to take *your* writing and attach it to some, I don’t know, more photogenic writer for PR purposes? Even if you can’t claim compensation, you could still expose the shenanigans and then their valuable PR would evaporate.
TL:DR - They’re not claiming the right to anything except what you submit in your application. So the question is only, is that worth it to you? Is the chance worth it?
We deleted the previous link and are reblogging this instead. Sounds like its a bad deal all around.