That’s so ravens

Since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to make something. I thought about playing with the Madden Giferator again, and making it do a Poe poem. I didn’t actually set out to do the obvious, but there was a Baltimore Ravens logo staring at me, so what the heck. After I made the string of GIFs, it occurred to me to make it a video. It would need some kind of soundtrack, so I googled raven music or something like that and found a track from The Alan Parsons Project Tales of Mystery and Imagination. I think I used to like APP back when I was ten. When I brought the GIFs into iMovie, they weren’t animated. I probably should have known that. I opened them all in Photoshop, changed the frame speed to .1 seconds and copied and pasted all the frames of each one so that they would all play through twice. Then I used the Export.Render Video function to convert them from GIFs to MP4s. If I was smart about it, I probably could have automated that entire process by recording a macro, but I’m not so I did them one by one. If I was smart I would know to close other programs before trying to use iMovie, but I’m not so I ended up having to power my laptop down when it froze and start over again a second time. I took the picture of Poe from the Wikimedia Commons and the logo came from the Brandon Ravens

Was it worth it? Doubtful, but it’s done. Maybe I should have used the same background, that first one, for all of them. It would be more consistent. One of the backgrounds has too much white in it and the type gets lost. Doubling the frames was unnecessary. The whole thing is pretty silly. I think the concept has possibilities, if there was a relationship between the story and the movements and the backgrounds, but other than the Raven connection this is just random. Another experiment done.


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1980s countdown

This morning I found about half of the people I pay regularly attention to on Twitter had been involved in some sort of discussion of 1984 vs 1985 as years in music. Each has its pros and cons, of course. There’s good music every year, and every year a lot of it goes unnoticed. But I got to thinking about the years in song.

Like a lot of McCartney’s songs, the music is good and the lyrics are silly. I think it works though. Written in 1973 and released in 1974 as the B-side to “Band on the Run,” it’s basically a filler tune built out of the opening line. If it was by someone else, or if it wasn’t next to other big hits (Jet and Band on the Run) we probably wouldn’t even know about it.

Coming from the same ‘73-’74 time frame is David Bowie’s 1984. The album, Diamond Dogs, was a hit, but the song wasn’t, which is kind of surprising. Maybe it made it onto FM radio classic rock playlists. Or maybe I played the record a lot. Or both. The wah-wah Shaft guitar is cool, but the strings are a bit much. Nice little nod to Dylan in there too

The times they are a-telling,
and the changing isn’t free

Which is better? I’d probably take 1984 over 1985 most of the time, but I go back and forth depending on which I listened to last and which is stuck in my head.

That’s not all people had to say about the 80s though.

I think I was in ninth grade when I bought Electric Ladyland, Hendix’s 1968 double LP. It had some hits, but this is the song that drew me in. I think I was a bit proggish in those days, and into extended and arty tunes. We had to write about a favorite song for English class, so I used this one. Mike Bianchi read my paper and accused me of being a pothead. In looking at the lyrics, I’m not sure what he’s talking about. I’m not sure I ever looked at them before. I like the little anti-techno-utopianism in the lines

“the machine
that we built
would never save us”

and the sea and sand imagery. Reminds me of Quadrophenia.

Step one year back and three decades forward to find The Quitters’ classic song, 1982, from the album of the same name. This is one of the many bands from my former hometown. Somewhere along the line I realized that the bands playing their own songs in the little dives around town for a five dollar cover were just as good as the big name acts playing in sports stadiums for crazy high-priced admission charges, and generally a lot more fun. And it’s not like I lived in a big town – it was a metropolitan area, but nowhere close to major league size. I figure there’s good music all over the place that never gets major media attention, whether it’s 1984 or 1985. But 1982 is better. It’s all downhill from there, to 1981, and the less said about 1980 the better.

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The Curse of El Capitan

the horror the horrorMy plan for the first night of ds106tales ds106radio broadcasts was to get set up early, try out all the different inputs, and be ready to go well before 9. But sometimes things don’t work out. Apparently Soundflower doesn’t play well with the latest Mac OS, and I need it to broadcast system audio. When I tried to start the Soundflower, it appeared to work, but under the icon at the top of my screen I found a message saying the program was not installed. Some Googling indicated the OS incompatibility. There is an updated version, so I went about uninstalling and restarting and reinstalling and restarting, and then it was getting perilously close to showtime. The new version of Soundflower doesn’t work quite the same, so it took some figuring out and trial and error.

I had the shows scheduled to play automatically, just in case I couldn’t go live, so I figured I’d just let them play out that way, but then I found the radio station was just broadcasting dead air. Not sure what was going on there. So I tried again with Soundflower and Ladiocast and Quicktime and got the shows going, a minute or two late. I couldn’t get my microphone to play through and didn’t have time to test out Google Hangouts, so I couldn’t get any live conversation going, except on Twitter. A few of us were there:


There was good work on both shows. There were some sound balancing issues here and there, but sometimes you have to live with those when there’s a deadline. Spooksy seemed to be the hit of the evening:

So we will try again tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel, and hope we don’t strike out again.

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A showcase of my own

I thought I’d try a showcase of my own, mostly because no one else seems to want to go visual with them. So I slapped this thing together in Photoshop with a couple shots of Your Humble Host and some screen clips from the posts that I’m highlighting. I tried to make it look like a comic book page, in keeping with the EC theme.  That was a little tedious, but not too tricky. I wish I had a typeface that looked more like the Leroy Lettering they used to use, but I settled for Arial Rounded. I wanted to make it into an image map, which is something I had done before, but it was so long ago that I didn’t remember how. There are ways to do it in Photoshop, but that didn’t look familiar so I looked for a WordPress plugin and found ImageMapper. I installed it and worked on figuring out how it works, which involved a small amount of swearing. The short story is you upload your image, then go to Image maps in the sidebar and add a new one. You import the image from your media gallery there, and then click around an area you want to make clickable. That starts to create a shape, so after you click the four corners of a rectangle, you click the Add Area button.

image map

You can give each area a name and define an event for it. I linked to the posts or the media.

image map area

There are Preview buttons on the image map editing page, but they didn’t work as I would have anticipated. I had to go to my blog post and use the Add Media function to put the image map in a post. It seemed to work on preview, so here you have it.

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Soundcloud and downloads

When you upload files to Soundcloud, they are not downloadable by default. You have to go in and change a setting to make that work. You may want the other members of your radio group to be able to download your work so that they can add to or edit it. I will need to be able to download the finished shows so I can put them on ds106radio. So here are a few screen shots of the process.


Above is a track on Soundcloud. Click on that little pencil icon to edit the settings.


That brings up the settings window below.

Untitled 2

Click on Permissions.

Untitled 2a

The Permissions window has a checkbox to Enable Downloads. Check it like so:

Untitled 4

Untitled 4a

After you save the changes, you will see a Download icon next to the pencil icon, as seen below. You might have to refresh the screen to make it show up.

Untitled 5a

And that’s all there is to it! They could make it easier, but it’s not to tough once you know where to look.

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V for Vignelli

I’m glad that people appreciate The Vignelli Canon. It was written for people with a design background, but it works for those who claim to have little:

the little booklet offered great insight to graphic design, with me someone who knows little about.

as well as those who don’t think about it:

pointed out many things that I have never really thought of when it came to design.

and it functions as an example of design:

I like how some of his design elements were placed on the pages themselves

In previous classes, people have come out against Vignelli’s criticism of the 8 ½ x 11 paper size. I think his point is valid. Using the Golden Ratio as a basis for the design of paper creates a natural harmony among printed works, whereas mismatched and haphazard design creates clutter and chaos. Unfortunately, in the tension between economics and aesthetics, economics tends to win.

PreviewThat happened with paper sizes, and it happened with Black Sabbath as well. Bava had structured the film in a particular way, so that the stories connected and flowed and built upon each other to a proper climax. I covered this ground before, during our Bavafest. But while the integrity of Bava’s designs was violated on multiple levels, some of it remains, particularly the set and lighting design. Comparing the two versions highlights the idea of “design is one” that people picked up from Vignelli. The whole film was designed so that everything worked together to achieve a certain vision, and the re-editing fractured that in a way, and made it less than it was.

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Recover the classics

The Creative Action Network is running a campaign for Recovering the Classics. I thought it would make a good assignment, so now it is. Supposedly you get a kickback if your cover sells. So I made this thing:


I probably should have gone more minimal and just used two red dots for bite marks, but instead I went overboard and tried to represent a neck. I googled neck to find an image (because I’m lazy), cropped it a bit and traced an outline. I didn’t think it looked neck-like enough, so I put a chin line in there. That was actually quite a pain because I did it in Illustrator and I suck at bezier curves. I used Baskerville for the typeface because it’s a classic. The Sherlock Holmes connection is completely coincidental. I wanted to use the Golden Rectangle for the proportions, but the site specifies 12×18, so I guess we can’t make Vignelli happy. In retrospect I still don’t think it looks neck-like enough, but I’m calling it done anyway.

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Hearing the Last Laugh

Jim wrote about this story before. When I read it, I thought about all the possibilities for sounds effects, and how those and the dialogue could carry the whole tale. I don’t know if I’ll have the time, but it would be cool to produce this for ds106radio. I like the various ideas the class came up with. Many people thought of using music to set the mood. It’s a great idea, but I think it would be tricky to find just the right open-source music, and if you needed more than one piece, then you would have to find pieces that worked together. So I would probably go minimal on the music. Here’s my two cents on imagining the tales for audio:

Just as a side note, there’s an interesting visual detail that reoccurs throughout the story. We see both the doctor’s and the patient’s faces lit so that they have that two-faced appearance, hinting at how that each of them has a monstrous side. It’s one of those nice little details that shows up in these stories.

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A ripping good time: ds106radio tweet-along part 4

journey into mystery 2016We had another good group for our fourth ds106radio listening and tweeting session. After some spooky sounds and a bumper we had the Mystery Playhouse rendition of “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” which was originally written by horror master Robert Bloch. We used this before in the noir class, but I thought it would also make a good fit here, with the horror and comic book theme. The show featured an excellent example of horror-hosting:

The show, like many of the others we’ve listened to, showed how simple sounds effects can establish a setting

nightrevealssixtimesdeath_4The second half featured “The Night Reveals” by Cornell Woolrich which was more thriller than horror, but it did have an edge of psychological terror in that the husband wasn’t quite sure if he knew who his wife really was. But it turned out they were a perfect match. This production, like the other episodes of Suspense we’ve listened to, comes from Blue Hours Productions who have been remaking ancient radio dramas with modern recording equipment. What you lose in old-time ambience you gain in clarity.


The background sounds were well done. Sometimes they identified the setting, like the traffic running through wet streets, but they also added to the drama – the tea kettle whistling louder and louder as he came to a realization, or the argument on the TV in the background as tensions rose between the two characters. All in all, two great audio productions.

Props go out to @BloodyFace106 for participating in all four broadcasts, and to @TheHeadReaper for multitasking

although I’ve heard you’re not really supposed to do that. Our participants for Thursday’s dramas were:


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Les choses sont contre nous – ds106radio

For our third night of ds106radio listening, we had two tales – “Who Goes There” originally a John Campbell short story (PDF) and later a few different movies and even a couple of comic books, and “Nightmare” which was originally a poem, Nightmare Number Three by Stephen Vincent Benét

They both did a great job with the sound effects. “Who Goes There” didn’t have a whole lot of them, but what was there made quite an impact

The music was also minimal yet impactful

Our second tale came from the Dimension X radio series, broadcast back in 1951. The recording was a little more primitive, but the sound production was excellent

and it was primitive in other ways as well

The radio feed that followed the Tales from ds106 broadcast had some weird skipping thing going on

but we had a pretty good crowd again

Our participants included:

and some of us are ready for the fourth and final of the week on Thursday

Who else dares to go there?

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