Happy little screams

As a long time fan of Bob Ross, I was naturally drawn to Kim Beom’s Yellow Scream:

Kim Beom “Yellow Scream” from Варвара Воробьев on Vimeo.

I’m very impressed with his ability to keep a straight face. But I wondered what would happen if I set the audio to music. It think it was the contrast between his calm speaking and varied screams that gave me the idea.

I downloaded the video and imported it into Audacity to capture the audio. Then I needed some music. I went to CC Search and looked for a happy instrumental on SoundCloud. There were several options. Beatjunkie Rato – Homecoming (Happy Guitar Piano Rap Beat Hip Hop Instrumental) from YourRapBeatsTV caught my interest, so I downloaded that and imported it into Audacity as well. From there, I cut off a chunk of the talking at the beginning – the talking and the screaming are easy to distinguish visually by the shape of the waveforms. Then I went through it and edited out pieces of flat line (silence) here and there so words and screams more or less aligned with beats here and there. You can sort of pick out beats by looking at the spikes in the wave form. When the music ran out, I just deleted the rest of the video soundtrack. I ended up with a screen like this:

image of Audacity audio editing screen

I exported that as an MP3 and put it up on SoundCloud:

It’s pretty painful to listen to. It might have worked better if I took more time to select the right music and edited the video’s sound so that they work together. As it is, anything that works in it is a happy accident, like Bob says:

We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents. Quote from Bob Ross

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of stories and skulls

It is interesting to read people’s analyses of stories, both for the variety and the insights. It’s also interesting that no one tried to draw the shape of their stories. It wasn’t a requirement or anything, but it is a simple exercise in visual analysis. I thought about this yesterday when I stumbled across an article on learning through drawing. Most of us feel we can’t draw because we can’t draw as well as people who have been working at it for years/decades.

We don’t need to draw well to draw a story shape, but if we don’t think we can draw, then drawing becomes something we don’t do. Thing is, assuming average physical ability, we can all draw, and we could all draw well if we wanted to put in the practice. Our first attempts might not work out well, but we can reflect on what worked well and what went wrong and learn from that process. (Note that the process of practice and reflection was detailed in the Week Two reading on writing assignment posts. That reading should be kept in mind for each assignment, every week.) As an example, I was inspired by the work of Brother O’Mara to try to make miniature skulls of my own. They’re all crude and crappy, but it’s a start, and eventually I’ll develop some control over the medium and be able to refine detail and proportion.

The point of all this is a) that we shouldn’t be embarrassed to put our efforts on display and b) we should blog reflections on our processes and outcomes. We may go through a “man in the hole” storyline, but we know we’l come out better in the end.

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The new sound, the now sound

Auguste Rodin - Orpheus et Eurydice

A post on one of my go-to sites led me to 10 Brilliant Retellings of Classical Myths by Female Writers. A convenient coincidence. Henstra’s introductory paragraph makes a couple of great points – one about how myths are multilayered, revealing new meaning upon re-reading, and another about their primal nature: “myths hit us somewhere below the brain, at some irrational, dreamlike level that somehow feels truer than ordinary stories.” If I had time I’d like to look into some of the books she lists, but as it is I just looked into the one recording, Hadestown, conveniently available on Youtube. Concept albums and musicals are iffy to me, but this holds together well. There is a timelessness to the sound, on one hand sounding like old-time vaudeville in form yet thoroughly modern in production. It was largely written in 2006 and finally recorded in 2010, but some themes speak to our current moment. That’s the strength, or one strength of these stories – the flexibility and adaptability means they can function across time and place, and through various media.

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The emerald letter

I want to muse on how A Study in Emerald fits in with our theme. I think of superheroes as a kind of modern mythology, with the tales of adventure and triumph and good vs. evil all mapping to ancient hero myths. While not quite explicitly stated, Gaiman’s story is a tale of Sherlock Holmes, who qualifies as a proto-superhero and a spiritual father to the Batman. The story also brings in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, making a second connection. It may not be true legend or myth, but we’re not being academic about it. It also ties in Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with those little advertisements interspersed throughout the text.

But there’s that neat switch towards the end of the story, when we realize that we’re not dealing with Sherlock as the hero, but rather the killer. Or maybe, since the story is in some kind of upside-down where the green-blooded Old Ones rule humanity, he is a hero as part of the resistance, and Moriarty is a villain for collaborating with their rule.

I also think it fits the course well due to the way it’s been reformatted. As I understand it, it was originally published as traditional text, then reformatted in a newspaper style for the web. This serves as an example of design in storytelling. The typography and ornamentation give it a sense of age that complements the text. I especially like the way the ads were done. Gaiman also put this out as audio, where the ads are presented in a style reminiscent of radio sponsor announcements. The story has also been done as a graphic novel, I’ve just found out. I’m not sure if it helps to have it visualized – the Old Ones are more mysterious in the imagination than in images – but I might need to give it a look.

What the story does is remix and mashup modern myths to make something new, interesting in itself, but the richness of the story comes from its connections, how it is situated among other familiar tales. That’s a way we can use myth and legend – as a foundation to build on, as something to allude to, to give color and deeper meaning.

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like a moth to a flame…

One of my favorite Tumblrs was the Godzilla Haiku, which I haven’t seen in a long time. So when I saw this assignment, I had to try it. I decided to use the Mothman, a West Virginia legend and the namesake of a movie that creeped me out many years ago.

My haiku is pretty lame, especially by Godzilla standards, so I stuck it on an image to give it some character. I found the image through CC Search, which is a good way to find material that’s licensed for adaptation and reuse. The image credit is: By Tim Bertelink – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46584699

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Old Blue Eyes

I was inspired to do this because Emily did one. I had forgotten all about this assignment. The cat lives up the street. I don’t know his name, so I call him Frank, after Sinatra, who was nicknamed “Old Blue Eyes.” He only acts friendly when my wife is with me, so I think he has trust issues. I googled for Shakespeare quotes about eyes, and found this one fitting. I put the type in Garamond, an old style typeface, and used Photoshop’s eyedropper tool to pick up the color from the cat’s fur. I probably should have done some cropping to make the photo look more composed and less like a snapshot. Maybe next time…

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Sledgehammers at ten paces

Since we’re looking at the idea of myth and legend this time around in ds106, I watched Walter Hill’s 1984 commercial flop Streets of Fire. The subtitle, “A Rock n Roll Fable,” is what caught my attention. It’s your typical psycho biker kidnaps rock star and her drifter ex saves the day story, which I guess isn’t that typical but has common elements with many a Western. One of the things that struck me in watching it is how it feels out of time and out of place. The music is very much 80s – the closing number was an MTV hit back then – but the cars are before my time, 50s I suppose. A couple of characters are back from the war, but we don’t know which war. The place is urban and gritty, with scenes that look like NYC and scenes that look like Chicago, but it’s never named. Places are only addressed by neighborhood names – the Battery, the Richmond – as if it could be any decaying big city. It all works because it’s all very intentional, by design and in the design.

As screenwriter Larry Gross said, “It’s not New York. It’s not Chicago.” It’s not the 80s. It’s not the 50s. It is its own mythical time and place. The cinematography and design create a heightened sense of reality, so it makes sense that motorcycles would explode when shot, that people would have a duel with sledgehammers, and that Bill Paxton’s hair would stand taller than Rick Moranis’s. It’s a fable with the archetypal hero, villain, and damsel in distress.  The movie serves as a good example of what can be done with myth and legend. You’re only limited by your imagination.

Not your typical damsel in distress

The hero being heroic

The villain being villainous

Rick Moranis did a bunch of movies in the 80s, but for some reason I always associate him with The Wild Life, where he had a hairdo similar to Bill Paxton in the picture above.

Stop. Hammer time.

The villain being expressive.

My GIFfing process comes from the ds106 Handbook, although I use Photoshop rather than the GIMP, which saves some steps. There are simpler tools for capturing clips, but this method gives more options for manipulation. Not that I exercised them much here.

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Words of week one

A lot of great thoughts came through in the first week’s posts. I will muse on some of them here.
so much weird stuff happens on social media that to me it seems more responsible to stay off of it!
This is not a bad policy. But we can leverage social media to our advantage. We can use it to make positive connections. I’m sure you’ve all seen Bill Genereux (@billgx on Twitter) who has a parallel ds106 crew in Kansas. There are others in our community, as you’ll see in the Daily Creates. I know it can be hard to avoid the social media cesspools out there, but we don’t need to step in them.

I loved Francesca’s intro video. There are all kinds of ways to do it. The important thing is to push yourself creatively and experiment. One really nice thing here was the thought that went into it, particularly in giving credit for the images – a good habit to develop.

Many people express discomfort with making media, especially in the introductions. There’s no one right way to do it (which holds true for just about everything in this course) – the point is to do it, and then you know how. And then you can do it again and try something more, and make it a little better. No one makes a masterpiece before they’ve done that about a thousand times.

Some people like the theme, others not so much. The important thing is that we’re free to make of it what we will.

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The legend of ds106

I had the idea to base this semester of ds106 around legend, myth and folklore. That’s probably too broad to be called a theme, but whatever. It connects to many previous themes from ds106 – westerns, superheroes,  horror, apocalypse. It gives a lot of options as to where we can take it – too many, I’m sure – but it will be interesting to see what kind of focus emerges from what the class does.

I am in no way an expert in the topic. But I’m interested in the way that the stories we tell shape our understanding of the world, ourselves, and our place within it. I’m interested in how stories stick and how they spread. The Slenderman came up in Tales from ds106 discussions a few years ago – someone made a couple images, other people were inspired to provide some backstory, and a story developed across media, and even generated some real-life tragedy. A simple creative challenge led to a new urban legend, of sorts.

I asked Twitter about legends of ds106 over the summer. I had thought of Talky Tina, who went from being a homicidal doll to a ds106 regular, and Dr. Oblivion, who disappeared but has not been forgotten. Sarah Honeychurch mentioned the ds106 socks, another good one. Todd Conaway brought up the ds107 rebellion. Jim added some ds106zone radio shows. I think the Daily Create qualifies as legendary. It is the ds106 community that made all of these what they are. People picking up threads and running with them. People continuing to talk about them. Can we choose to be legendary, making our own myth? I don’t know. But I hope we can inspire each other with our ideas, and build on each other’s ideas. And maybe we’ll come up with stories worth talking about.

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Week One: Bootcamp

8/27/18-8/31/18

All work is due by midnight on Friday, 8/31/18

Welcome to ds106! This first week is dedicated to getting set up: set up your domain and Web hosting; install your WordPress site; and create other social media accounts such as Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube, etc. Complete introductions via posts, twitter, video, audio, etc. The sooner you get started, the better. If you run into trouble after looking through the supporting links, the Digital Knowledge Center in the Hurley Convergence Center is a great place to go for help.

Here is a detailed list of what to do this week:

  1.    Review the Syllabus

You should carefully read through the syllabus. This course is different from most. The syllabus will help you understand the work and activities of the course. If you have any questions on the content, send them to me via Twitter or email.

  1.    Set Up Your Accounts
    1. Domain Sign up for your own domain name and web site (free through UMW’s Domain of One’s Own project). Detailed instructions can be found here. Don’t skip the verification step! If you already have a domain through Domain of One’s Own, then you are one step ahead.
    2. Google / Youtube (video sharing) http://www.google.com/accounts/
      If you have a Gmail account, you are already set with this. If not create a Google account. This is what will allow you to join any synchronous video discussions we have (in Google Hangout) and gives you access to YouTube.
    3. Twitter http://twitter.comTwitter will be one of the main channels for communication in ds106. If you already have an account for personal purposes, you are welcome to use it or create a new account for communication related to this class. Make sure you customize your profile! Send your first message of greeting and be sure to use #ds106 hashtag in your tweets. Learn how to search on the #ds106 hashtag.
    4. Soundcloud (audio publishing) http://soundcloud.com/ This account is where you will share audio you create for the class.
    5. Instagram http://instagram.com for photo sharing
    6. Slack We will use Slack for some group communication, especially in the early weeks. Join ds106.slack.com

Note: All of the social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud) that you create for this class MUST be public so we can all see each other’s work. If you already have accounts on these services that you don’t want to make public, you’re welcome to set up separate ones just for this class.

  1.    Install WordPress

You’ll be using this install of WordPress to share your work every week, all semester. So you’ll want to get this installed and get comfortable with it ASAP. You should install it either at the root of your domain (www.yourdomain.com) or on a subdomain (ds106.yourdomain.com, for example). If you already have WordPress installed on your UMW Domain from another course, you can use your existing site (and just tag or categorize your ds106 work accordingly) or choose to create a new WordPress site in a separate subdomain.

We have a few online guides that I recommend you review as you tackle this task:

Brief Introduction to cPanel: This guide will help you learn to navigate cPanel (the control panel for Web hosting on Domain of One’s Own).

Creating Subdomains and Subdirectories (optional): If you want to install WordPress somewhere other than at the root of your domain, check out this guide.

Installing WordPress: Learn how to get WordPress installed on DoOO.

WordPress Basics: Orient yourself to the WordPress environment.

Find out what a subdomain is and how to set up a subdomain on our documentation site.

NOTE: Do not use wordpress.com. You have to set up your own domain, or use a domain you already have (see Step 2, above), and you have to install WordPress on it (this step).

  1.    Register Your Blog at the Main ds106 Web Site

Once your blog is available on the web (it should be almost immediate) register yourself and your new blog on the DS106 site. You MUST do this in order for everyone to see the posts you’ll be writing for the class. NOTE: As part of the registration process, you will need to use your Twitter user ID, so be sure to have one.

  1.    Make some Multimodal Introductions

Now that you have all your accounts and everything set up, it’s time to use them to introduce yourself to the class. Use Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube, and Instagram to introduce yourself to the community, be creative, be legendary. Once you’ve done that you need to embed them all into a WordPress blog post. Here are some tips for embedding media in WordPress.

Are you exhausted yet? There a lot more still. If you wait until the weekend to do your all work you will be crushed!

  1.     The legendary ds106

We’re using a theme of legend, myth and folklore for this semester. The purpose of the theme is to give us some common ground for interaction. You will have ample opportunities to personalize the work you do. We can take this theme in any directions the class chooses.

Your second assignment, after set up and introductions, is to consider the theme. Some people say every story is the same. Personally I think that over-generalizes a bit, but I see where they’re coming from. What do you think about this theme? Wikipedia has rather extensive background information on the diverse aspects of it, such as Folklore, Legend, Fairy tale, Urban legend, and Myth. TV Tropes takes a more lightweight look at it, but you can find a lot of pop culture connections by poking around their site through the topics Urban Legends, Fairy Tales, Folklore, and related links on those pages.
Your assignment is to write a blog post about what you think of this theme and where we can go with it, individually and as a group. Review a few of the above links for background, but bring in your own thoughts and interests. Are there examples of media (text, image, audio, video, etc.) that you think are outstanding or important, which the class might be able to use for inspiration? If you have ideas, include them in your post. If you don’t, keep thinking about it because it might just be part of next week’s assignment. Another thing to be thinking about is a character or persona that you might use to interact with the course and the theme. Share your thoughts and ideas and tag the post ds106thoughts. Need to know about tags in WordPress? Here’s some help.

  1.    Write your Weekly Summary

You’ll be completing these summary posts on your blog every week. This week, write a post that shares your reflections on the first week. Tag this post WeeklySummary. These posts are REALLY important. We use them to grade you every week, so you need to link to other posts you’ve written, embed media you’ve created, and narrate the process of learning that you went through this week. What did you learn? What was harder than you thought it would be? What was easier? What drove you crazy? Why? What did you really enjoy? Why? NO EXCEPTIONS. NO LATE WORK ACCEPTED.

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