One book over the line

A few days ago, a new alleged reading promotion poster from the Chicago Public Library came to my attention.

I shared it with some colleagues, and one responded with this graphic.

Weeding is librarian talk for the process of removing outdated and unused books from the collection. But when I read “weed a book,” I hear it in Elmer Fudd’s voice.

So this all made me think of the ALA Read poster series, which just happens to be a design assignment. I found a few images of Elmer reading, and played around with one, thinking about the poster series and the weed pun. Some of the posters use an Indiana Jones font, but I think the more classic Schoolbook font is more fitting. I thought about adding a pipe or two, going further with the pun. Since marijuana is becoming more legal, and some books are becoming less, I thought about incorporating that. I thought about using The 1619 Project, but that could be misinterpreted so I went with Maus. At this point I was just playing with ideas visually.

by King & Weeks, from Batman/Elmer Fudd Special 2017

As I thought about it more, it seemed that more subtlety was in order. I don’t need to spell out weed, because anyone who knows their Looney Tunes will get it from read, and anyone who doesn’t know about Elmer’s speech issues won’t get it anyway. With that in mind, the pipes were overkill too. I needed a subheading to highlight the legality issue though. I also need to make it look poster-like. My approach here was to use the Golden Rectangle for the dimensions. I made a new Photoshop image using those proportions, and pasted the Fudd picture in. I scaled it up to fill as much of the space as possible. It was still short, but the READ text filled most of the top part. I did some copy-paste work to extend the image upward. That was a bit sloppy, but it’s in the background so it’s not too distracting. I put in While it’s still legal! as a subhead. There were contrast problem with the image underneath, so I made a white copy of the subhead, applied a bit of blur, and offset it a little to make a white drop shadow, making it more legible. That didn’t fit well with the flatness of the READ headline, so I used an Emboss filter on it to give it some complementary dimensionality. I think it works. Some people won’t get the pot joke, but the right people will.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday’s happy trees

From Tree to Shining Tree

For our second night of #ds106radio listening, we heard the Radiolab episode From Tree to Shining Tree. Instead of drama, this was more pop science. But it made the topic fascinating and kept the story moving through a creative use of background music and sounds and thoughtful editing. The way the voices were woven together is worth analyzing. They brought commentary into conversations, in a way that helped keep the story moving and helped keep it down to its essence. How might we use those techniques in our own stories?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

A night of adventurous listening

Episode One: Three Skeleton Key

For our first live listening session, we listened to Three Skeleton Key, the opening episode from ESC: Sonic Adventure in the Anthropocene by Jacob Smith. This is a fascinating series that uses an old-time radio show, Escape, to tell a new story about man and modern environmental conditions. Smith also does a great job of analyzing and explicating how sound functions in storytelling, so the whole series is worth checking out.

We also had a lot of great observations about the show, which can be seen in the Discord discussion. I hope more people can join us Tuesday for more sound adventures.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Out of their heads

I decided to try a random visual assignment and got The Boone Gorges Parent-Child Headswap. I didn’t have a child handy, but I did have The Tick. This was actually given to me by a child. A friend’s daughter, toddler at the time, walked up and handed it to me, oblivious that I was a fan. I wonder if she’d be impressed that I still have it.

Trying to get this swap to come out well was pretty hopeless. The Tick head was going to be fuzzy no matter what because I had to enlarge it so much. I tried to blur the photo a bit to match but it didn’t help.

The trick here was to copy bits of background and paste it to cover the parts of my head that aren’t covered by The Tick. I think I learned this from the You Suck At Photoshop series.  I did a pretty sloppy job of it though.

That was pretty lame, so I thought I’d try another. I had a picture of myself and the neighbor’s cat. This isn’t going to work too well either because of the cat’s ear, but at least the focus is better. The whiskers will be a problem too.

With both of these I used the Gimp, because Photoshop sucks at being cost-effective for normal people. I used the Polygon Select tool to trace around the heads and copy them onto new layers, then I scaled the layers to sizes that looked about right. The swap of this picture came out like this:

This still looks lame, but at least it has a cat in it. Maybe I could have worked something with the whiskers. I think the big problem is that both of these pictures were pretty lame to start. Maybe the moral of the story is to use better material to get better results.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I’m versed in metal

The 11th anniversary of ds106radio has me waxing nostalgic, I guess. There was some discussion of playing songs we listened to when we were 11. This idea was abandoned as potentially too embarrassing, but I may still have to go for it. Earlier this week one of my FB people posted some photos of us from the 80s, back in our metal years, which also had me looking back.

So when today’s TDC said MetalVerse, the first thing that came to mind was the old Judas Priest song Electric Eye. I barely pay attention to lyrics in songs, and I’m sure I haven’t listened to that one in at least a decade, but somehow I still knew the chorus verbatim. I had the idea to put the lyrics in the periodic table. To do this, I would need to mask the letters already there. Having those two blank spaces made that easy. I just copied and pasted them until I had covered up most of the bottom four rows. I kept all the cover-ups on one layer because I might need to remove some of them later. Then I had to type in the lyrics, 2 letters at a time (mostly). I took some time to tweak the size to match the existing type. I had a separate layer for each bit of 2- or 3-letter text, which was a little unwieldy but it allowed me to align the layers without too much trouble.

At first I had the lyrics start at the left side, but then I slid them over a couple squares. Maybe that wasn’t a good idea, because now it’s perhaps too un-obvious. But an electric spy should know how not to be seen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Not the bees!

The first thing I thought of when I saw today’s prompt was the Wicker Man, because it is meant to be burnt, with appropriate occupants. So then I had to think of buy and steal. I think if I was going to buy artwork I’d go for something local. But then I remember the altered art guy and his Godzilla print, which I’ve almost purchased a couple times. If only the dimensions were a little different… Mostly when I buy art it’s music. That made me think of that Wu Tang CD that they only made one copy of, then sold to that pharma bro. The story is that their sale contract gave them permission to steal the recording back. Them, or Bill Murray.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“the PBS version of Nickelback”

For today’s Daily Create, we had to illustrate the story of a @MagicRealismBot tweet. I scrolled through the list and found this one:

I don’t know much about Stein, other than Picasso did a painting of her. I don’t know much about Milwaukee other than it’s a brand of cheap beer. And I think Cobra was the movie where Rocky cuts his pizza with scissors. But that gives me enough to make something:

I thought the flag in the background was a nice bit of serendipity. The image came out okay for minimal effort. Putting the shadow behind Stallone was a subtle touch, but I think it helps a lot.  And since Picasso is mentioned here, I suppose we should mention as well his feud with Bob:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Bear with me

I think @jaythechou might need to be made an honorary ds106er for dedication to remixing. I thought these two were especially relevant:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Theming theme little themes

The question has come a few times in ds106: What is our theme? We are using The Joy of Painting as theme this semester. What that means as a theme depends on how we decide to interpret it. We may at times take it very superficially and focus on the Bob Ross character. It would be more interesting, and more productive, to consider deeper meanings. What is the show about? On the surface level it is about a style of oil painting, and demonstrating how to do it. Some of us may not care about painting though. We could then look to how he demonstrates, with encouragement and relentless positivity. Or what he shows us, not in technique but in approach, about trying things and seeing where they take us, and accepting that it’s all going to be okay.

And he’s also telling a story at a macro level, with the character or persona he has created for himself on camera. His mannerisms, appearance, the way he speaks and the stories he tells, all work to create an engaging and welcoming personality.

We are also considering how we are all artists, in some way or another. We might use Bob as an inspiration for how we can reflect on our own artistic journeys. How we can demonstrate what we are trying to do, how we can show what we make. Creating digital media and narrating our processes and reflecting on our work is the bulk of this course.

There is no one right way to interpret the theme. We may take several perspectives, both individually and as a group. Each of us has to decide how we want to make it work, and each of us has the power to make it work for ourselves. That’s the joy of ds106.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What about Bob?

I enjoyed reading people’s reactions to The Joy of Painting. I thought I’d share my thoughts on people’s thoughts here.

I fell asleep within five minutes.
I remember reading a newspaper article about Bob’s popularity back in the day when his show was on PBS. It said a lot of people watched his show specifically because the sound of his voice helped them sleep on the couch on weekend afternoons.

all of this seems like simple movements just done in a professional manner
That’s actually one of the things I used to hate about Bob. Having a background in graphic design, I could see that there is a whole lot of color theory behind his work, which he rarely mentioned in his show. The depth and sense of space in his images comes from an expertly managed interaction of hue, chroma and value. Watching it on Youtube now, where I can see it more frequently than once a week, I do see that he gets into it a little bit here and there, and it adds up over time.

we are making this world up as we go and that we have the power to do what we want with it.
This attitude is why I think of Bob as one of ds106’s guiding lights. This class is what we make of it. Our sites are what we make of them. Our education systems sort of train people to try to figure out what the boss wants, and then do that. But really, it should be about what we want to get out of the systems. It’s our world.

anything can be enjoyable as long as one does not view it as an obligation
While there are obligations in ds106 – there is work to do – there is a great deal of freedom in what we do and how we do it. Basically, if it’s not fun, then you’re not doing it right.

It really helps if you’re a little nervous. If you’re nervous it’s an asset here.
This quote surprised me because I see Bob as extremely encouraging. I would expect him to tell us to shrug off nerves, saying “You can do it” or “Here’s your bravery test.” But people will be unsure and nervous in any case, and stepping outside of the comfort zone can be its own reward.

he uses a lot of pronouns like “we” and “us” to make it feel like him and the viewer are painting together
I try to do the same thing. Not sure how well it works though.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment