Go west, young man

For our fourth round of ds106radio live tweeting, we had another two-fer: “Retribution” from Sears Radio Theater and “Gun Shy” from Gunsmoke. I liked the way people picked up on the sound details:

“Retribution” had some banjo music to mark the changes between scenes, and to add to the mood:

Gunsmoke caught people’s attention right from the start:

although it actually wasn’t action packed. “Gun Shy” was the story of a Baltimore boy who went west to try to be something he wasn’t. He ended up dying a hero, yet his heroics were off-screen, as it were. The characters in “Retribution” came west as well, to run away from their criminal reputation, but they brought it with them anyway. So here are the two shows:

Gunsmoke “Gun Shy”

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The Holliday and Hickock Hour

Our Wednesday Western106 tweet-along featured two tales – the Gunsmoke episode “Doc Holliday” and “Aces and Eights” from the Frontier Gentleman series. Unlike our two previous shows, these featured narration as well as dialogue. The listeners had mixed feelings about this.

I thought it seemed like a cop-out. They could have made the stories work with sound and dialogue, but it’s easier to just say what’s going on. Strangely, I never really mind voice-overs in movies, but in radio shows it bugs me. Still, the shows went over well.

So here’s Gunsmoke:

and this is the Frontier Gentleman


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Letter from Lago

Today’s TDC was Create a Pony Express Postmark. We were supposed to “Design a postmark stamp for the Pony Express of the Modern Age,” but I didn’t read that part until just now. I had the idea to play around with a horse shoe, and then I thought about using the town of Lago, from High Plains Drifter, as the address. So I found a logo through The Noun Project (Horseshoe, By Matthew Davis, US), and a Lago somewhere online, and grabbed the Pony Express and horse from the Wikimedia link in the TDC post. I had to do some copying and pasting and resizing and stuff, and there you go:


It’s not much, but it doesn’t need to be.

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High Noon at night

High-Noon-PosterOur Tuesday night tweet-along featured High Noon. Monday’s show was a radio adaptation (Shane) whereas this one was the soundtrack of a film. It made an interesting comparison. The radio program actually had less sound production – a lot less – and let the dialogue carry the story. The sounds played an important part, and were very effective, but they were simple and to the point. The movie had a wealth of sound and a rich use of background music, which told stories by itself.

It also had a lot of dialogue, which was why I picked it. It was occasionally hard to understand what was going on without any visual cues. Scenes would change, but we couldn’t tell by listening. It became problematic at the end though. Everyone picked up on the drama of the showdown.

We knew people were shooting, but we didn’t know anything beyond that. So here’s the final showdown: 

We missed a lot of that part of the story by not seeing it. I think it was a worthwhile experiment anyway though.

And a good time was had by all.

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“Come back, Shane!”

We had a good, if sparsely attended, first tweet-along. We listened to a radio production of Shane, featuring Alan Ladd and Van Heflin, two of the stars of the movie. Radio was once a big enough thing that major motion picture stars would perform on it. Times have changed though.

In the show, we didn’t have any visual or voice-over to tell us what was going on. Instead, it had to be carried through dialogue (which is tricky, because it needs to sound natural) and sound effects. Simple cues told us a lot. Footsteps and hoofbeats told us when people were coming and going. Crickets told us it was after dark. The clink of dishes and silverware very quickly set a dinner scene. It doesn’t take much, if you use the right sounds, to paint a whole picture.

There was very little in the way of soundtrack music. Occasionally it would punctuate a scene, or mark a transition between scenes or from story to commercial break. Rarely was it used for dramatic effect.

One thing that stood out to me in the story was this exchange between the ranchers who were getting pushed around by the bad guys:

I’m not belittling what you did, but you didn’t find this country.
There were trappers here and Indian traders before you.
– They tamed this country. – They weren’t ranchers.
Rights! You think you’ve the right to say nobody else has got any.
That ain’t the way the Government looks at it.

( from http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/s/shane-script-transcript-alan-ladd.html)

It made me think of some recent events, and the reaction to them. Those questions of whose land is it? who built it? who has rights, and whose rights matter? haven’t gone away. It actually surprised me to hear them brought up in a story from the 50s. And I wonder how a modern audience would react to the brief discussion of gun control in the story. Again, different times.

But tomorrow night, same time, we’ll have more. Tune in to ds106radio, 9pm Eastern.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Oblivion

I found this thing yesterday:


and when I saw today’s Daily Create I knew I had a use for it. I applied what I had learned before about lining up images with animated GIFs. After that trick, I cut out eye holes in the Dr. Oblivion layer:

Untitled 3so it came out like this:

UntitledBut I thought I could do better. I cut and pasted a block of the blue in Dr. Oblivion’s face to fill in one eyehole, and did it again for the other. So I had a top layer of the Twitter image, a layer just under that with two blue blocks, and then about a hundred layers of the GIF.

Untitled 2My idea was to try to make the skin tones in the GIF blue. To accomplish that, I changed the layer blending mode from Normal to Hue.

oblivioneyesI probably could have tweaked the color in the GIF to get a better blend. I definitely could have done a better job at cutting out the eyeholes. But this will do. I don’t know if anyone would get the Western reference without having it spelled out, but that’s okay. We know what it is, and that’s what counts.



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Ramble of the day, 2/7/16

Can I come in with the broad question (such as “what does the data tell us?”), and a grounded theory approach, and continue on with my research?

AK highlights the iterative nature of real world research in his post. As students, we are encouraged, or required, to have defined research questions or thesis statements early on in course projects. There is an efficiency to that, especially since all the projects have artificial deadlines imposed by course structure. But what gets lost in that way of doing things? I think curiosity and creativity get sacrificed, or curtailed at least. Curiosity in particular is not efficient. Yet curiosity and creativity are important things in education, arguably THE important things.

I thought about AK’s post as I read Autumn Caine’s take on ADDIE. I have mixed feelings about ADDIE. It makes sense for designing training, like in the military, but it seems limited, or limiting, for education. Autumn envisions an improvement, a Subjective ADDIE, adding “subjective and unmeasurable questions aimed at getting to the most important reasons for having the course in the first place.” Efficiency, assessment and analytics do not value the unmeasurable. When crafting objectives and outcomes we’re not supposed to use terms like understand and appreciate because they’re not easily measured. But understanding and appreciation are important things as well.

I was thinking of a tale from my previous career. One of our salesmen made a record-breaking sale, not incrementally better than the previous best, but an out of the park and into the next county home run kind of a sale. And the business office came back to him and told him to cancel the sale and give the check back. Their database couldn’t handle that many zeros. Senior management in the company didn’t see a problem with this. The systems we were using were limiting what we could do. Even though they helped us be efficient in many ways, they got in the way of what was really important.

I should be paying more attention to the ID MOOC-MOOC. That’s part of what inspired Autumn’s post. So many competing priorities though…

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a video of audio

So I thought I’d write a little about the short video I made this week. I’ve done this kind of thing before, so I’m starting to get the hang of it. The class is starting into Audacity this week, and I want them to think about sounds in layers. My thought behind this video was to show that in action.

I recorded my part and tweaked it a bit in Audacity. This included amplifying my voice and deleting some lip-smacking sounds and other mouth noises. I had previously recorded a bit from Tombstone, so I imported that and lined it up to where I wanted it to start. Then I cut the remainder of my part and pasted it in after the Tombstone bit ended. I wanted to get some more layers in there so I found “Longing for Tumbleweeds” by Admiral Bob through a CC search. I found the coyote howls on a site called Soundboard. I downloaded those and imported them into my Audacity file. The music was too loud for background, so I used the volume slider to bring it down in the mix. I did some cutting and pasting and moving things around until I got it to where I wanted it, then exported it as an MP3. I used QuickTime Player to record my screen as the Audacity file was playing. Then I brought that recording and the MP3 into iMovie and more or less synced them together, and uploaded it to Youtube. And there you have it: a video of an audio recording as it plays.

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Dang’d spot

For today’s Daily Create, we had to do cowboy Shakespeare:

My better half suggested using Lady Macbeth’s famous quote. So I googled it and put it in the generator:

old west speakApparently some language doesn’t translate well into old west lingo. So, I just recorded the first part of the quote:

The last part of the quote caught my attention though. I recently watch High Plains Drifter, which featured a similar quote:

The theme of guilt features prominently in both stories, although the speaker in this case feels no guilt at all. The film is set in the town of Lago, where the residents bear the collective guilt of having the town marshal murdered as they watched. The blood on their hands ends up covering the entire town. The story was inspired by the Kitty Genovese tragedy in NYC and transplanted into a High Noon setting. It shares supernatural overtones and the theme of greed with Macbeth. The eerie music in High Plains Drifter seems better suited for a horror/suspense film, signaling that it is not an ordinary Western. The Drifter appears in the desert, like a mirage, disappearing the same way at the end, and in between he exhibits a knowledge of the townspeople, their weaknesses and motivations that goes beyond what one could expect of a random stranger. It is left open to the viewer to interpret the character. In the original treatment, he was supposed to be the brother of the murdered man, but in the final edit he is ambiguous enough to be a spirit of vengeance, if not exactly an avenging angel. I feel like I should rewatch Macbeth to look for more parallels. I may be reading more into it than is actually there.

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Give me a ticket for an Inclined Plane…


For today’s Daily Create, we were supposed to “Take a photo of a historical site in your neighborhood.” I was running late this morning, so I didn’t get a chance to take pictures before I left my neighborhood, but I remembered having a photo of the Inclined Plane. I think I took it for an earlier TDC, something about photographing the oldest building in your neighborhood. It was built after the historic flood of 1889. I guess it was built to get people out of the valley and on to high ground the next time it flooded, but it’s mostly a touristy thing these days. So yeah, I cheated, but recycling is supposed to be a good thing.

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