In Impro, Keith Johnstone writes that when improvisers try to be original, they fail. “Don’t be original; be obvious.” When you state the obvious, you actually seem original. Paradoxical, eh? Likewise, the more specific the feelings, experiences, stories – the more universal they appear. The trick is, what’s completely obvious to you isn’t obvious to anyone else. Many people can tell exactly the same story about exactly the same event, but if each speaks from their authentic point of view, each story will seem “original.”
—  Nina Paley, “The Cult of Originality” (via)

Door #21: Kosher Monsters

Since tonight’s both the second night of Hanukkah and the eve of Cephalopodmas, it seemed the perfect time to link to Nina Paley’s animations of the three monsters of Jewish mythology, which she’s working on for her upcoming film Seder Masochism.

Ziz the air monster appears above, Leviathan, the water monster, below. You can also click here to see a video of her extra-stompy land monster, Behemoth.

Paley, a comic artist and intellectual copyright activist, is best known as the creator of Sita Sings the Blues, an animated feature-length retelling of the Ramayana that she distributes under a Creative Commons license. 


Nina Paley is a brilliant filmmaker who, if you ever saw it, came to my friends’ and my attention with a great short film called “Sita Sings the Blues,” a modern re-telling of an excerpt from the Hindu romance of Rama and Sita. 

This short is something else again, a rapid-but-thorough depiction of the history of the chunk of land between Jordan and the Mediterranean.  The song is the theme song to the Sixties movie “Exodus,” about the creation of the state of Israel.

Enjoy! (If it doesn’t hurt too much.)


This Land is Mine - Nina Paley


History of Israel/Palestine, Animation Edition

Nina Paley, copyleft advocate and creator of the ever lovely Sita Sings the Blues, takes on the history of Israel/Palestine in this animated short.

Starting with with the first human settlers of the region to the Egyptians, Assyrians and Romans who each controlled it throughout the millennia, she navigates her way down to current day Israelis and Palestinians while focusing on a a fairly simple theme: it’s a perpetual and ongoing battleground.

Confused who’s who? View Nina’s Viewer Guide to her cast of characters.

Run Time: ~3:30


Nina Paley, who has previously showed us how all creativity builds on what came before, is back with an animated “who’s-killing-who viewer’s guide" in the history of the "land called Israel/Palestine/Canaan/the Levant".


Selected comics from No Safe Harbor: Essays about Pirate Politics with works by Lawrence Lessig, danah boyd, Cory Doctorow and the Electronic Frontier Foundation among others.

Via No Safe Harbor:

No Safe Harbor, released January 24th 2012, is a collection of political essays, texts, and discussions that help explain and educate about Pirate Party positions…

…Topics covered include notes on the 4th Amendment, the history of copyright, biopatents, and corporate personhood.

The book is released under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC-SA) and sharing of it is strongly encouraged. To further that, the book is available in a number of DRM-free formats, free of charge. In addition a paperback edition can be purchased through for $9.99

Images: Mimi and Eunice by Nina PaleySelect any to embiggen.