Summer Songs

If Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” was last summer’s “song of summer,”

this summer’s tune has to be Icona Pop’s “I Love It.”

To honor that, I made this:

The project stems from the DS106 assignment “Character/Genre Song Mashup” (aka Visual Assignment 733).

The theme of the video clips selected:  Er…. they’re from The Twilight Zone (with the exception of a short clip from “Alcohol is Dynamite“)

The song: “I Love It” by Icona Pop.  It’s catchy and you can dance to it.

The tools:  iMovie ’11

What I did:  I haven’t watched all of the assigned Twilight Zone episodes, so I thought back to the ones I have seen and considered the scenes that would kind-of-sort-of fit the song.  Telly Savales falling down the stairs in “Living Doll” was an obvious choice as was footage from “Midnight Sun.”

I downloaded clips from Youtube using clip converter.  I’ve been using this Firefox add-on since Camp Magic Macguffin, and it works well for me.  Though I’m sure most of these converters have the option to download portions of videos, I found that an especially useful feature for this project.

Settings for clip converter

Settings for clip converter

I opted to save my clips as a .mp4, because that’s what I’ve been doing and it seems to work.  I know very little about codecs.  Am I even using the right terminology?  Is a .wmv a codec or is that just a file type?  I should probably look into that….

I converted and saved all of the clips I wanted to work with to my desktop, because that’s the easiest thing for me to do.  I created a new project in iMovie called Twilight Zone.  Next, I imported all of Twilight Zone .mp4 files in a new event that I called DS106zone.

iMovie process

iMovie process

Most of the clips in the DS106zone event were longer than necessary, so I selected the portions of the clips I wanted, and dragged them to the Twilight Zone project.

I don’t have Icona Pop’s “I Love It” in my music library (because I listen to music through Rdio if I listen to music at all), so I converted the Youtube video to MP3 and then imported that file into my iMovie project.  I only used about a minute of the song, because it’s very hard to too time-consuming to find three minutes worth of clips to match with the song.

Once the soundtrack was in place, I moved the video clips around to fit with the lyrics of the song.  I muted the volume in the video tracks by reducing volume to 0%.  This can be done under “audio adjustment” for each clip.

iMovie screen shot

iMovie screen shot

A lot of folks poo-poo iMovie.  It works fine for the video work that I do.  I’m sure it has limitations for the hardcore video editors out there.  The only problem I’ve encountered is when students try to do a group project at school.  It’s impossible (or at least not easy) for students to work asynchronously on a group project without a lot of network account black magic. 

This project’s biggest time suck is gathering and organizing the footage.  I had a vague mental idea–a mental story board, if you will–of what I wanted the project to look like.  That helped with the efficiency of the clip selection, conversion, and editing process.

Christina Hendricks recently tweeted:

This gave me the idea to create and use several frames of Talky Tina floating through space during the closing credits rather than the space ship.  I’ll add that to my “to do” list.

I also need to add this to my blog:

Official Internet Web Badge

Official Internet Web Badge

So honored!





Was Matthew Weiner a Twilight Zone Fan?

I’m fairly confident that the origins of Don Draper started with Martin Sloan from the Twilight Zone’s “Walking Distance” (S1E5)

Martin Sloan from

Martin Sloan from “Walking Distance” (S1E5 of The Twilight Zone)

Martin Sloan is an ad man in New York City.  Don Draper is an ad man in New York City.  Martin Sloan is cracking under the stress and confused about his past (or nostalgic for it at least).  Don Draper is cracking under the stress and confused about his past.

And then there’s Martin Sloan’s allusion to putting it all to an end.

Yesterday I just got in the car and drove.  I had to get out of New York City.  One more board meeting, phone call, report, or problem, and I would’ve jumped right out the window.

Mad Men's falling man

Mad Men’s falling man from opening credits

The falling man from Mad Men’s opening credits is such an iconic image now.  It’s the first thing that popped into my head when Martin Sloan mentioned jumping out the window.  I’m sure that’s the case because of all of the ad man front loading Rod Serling does at the beginning of “Walking Distance.”

Whatever the case may be, I decided to over-analyze the connections I made.  I also decided to count the connection as an audio assignment.  Specifically assignment #1117 although it doesn’t even fit the description really.

But I’m an open participant, and I do what I want!

Here’s a description of the assignment, which was created by Bowties and Skulls.  “The assignment is to find an audio clip that references the Twilight Zone.”

My interpretation of Audio Assignment #1117:  Find an audio clip from the Twilight Zone that references a TV show that didn’t even exist when the Twilight Zone episode aired.”


Submitted for your approval:

What if Don Draper read feminist literature

Don Draper reads Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Don Draper reads Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This one was for fun.

In “Man with a Plan” (S6E7 of Mad Men), Don Draper leaves his mistress in a hotel rool, and refuses to tell her when he’ll return.  She’s puzzled, but willing to play along in Don’s weirdo fantasy.  And then he takes her book.

Come on, Don Draper.  What the–?

I’m pretty sure they didn’t have television sets in hotel rooms in 1968, so taking Sylvia’s book was a crappy move.

I got to thinking about what Don Draper would be like if he read some feminist literature.

I don’t have much commentary on the series (which is perhaps fodder for another blog post on the way I consume media), but it has been interesting to compare Sylvia to Betty, Megan, and the rest of Don’s women.  She seems to have less patience for his BS.









When ideas don’t turn out

I’m almost embarrassed to write up this post and put it out there.  But I’m trying to practice working in the open even if that work is a total failure.  Process counts, right?  Right.

Like most DS106zoners, I watched “Eye of the Beholder” a few weeks ago.

cartooned still from

image from Kelli Wisbauer (

I was intrigued by several things in the episode: the carefully choreographed scenes that hid the faces of the hospital staff until the very end, the fast-paced chase scene through the hospital hallways.

It was the chase scene that inspired this failed create.  The Leader on the TV added to the frenetic pace of this scene.  I found myself going back to listen to what he was emoting.  And then there was the vision.

How awesome would it be if the Leader’s evangelism appeared on some typography poster like the Holstee manifesto.

Holstee manifesto print

Holstee manifesto print

Yes.  That would be amazing.

Only it wasn’t.

Manifesto based on "Eye of the Beholder"

Manifesto based on “Eye of the Beholder”

I attempted to use Illustrator, which was TOTALLY foreign to me.  I think I could’ve dialed it back on the different fonts too.  I only used two fonts, but the italics and bold and such is overkill.  I’m seeing this now…  a week or so after I worked on it.  I may have been better off not using a new-to-me piece of software.  There’s also the fact–and I think this is the most important piece–that I need to brush up on my design skills.

I was about to write that I don’t think of myself as a visual person, but that’s ridiculous.  To say that I’m not observant is more accurate.  It’s probably why I’m ok living in a house full of Frankenstein furniture (pieces given to me, found, or leftover from college) and toddler toys.

Only occasionally do I wish I lived in some Crate & Barrel fantasy.

Crate & Barrel living room

Design–both the ability to do it and observe it–is something I want to work on this summer.  I think I’m going to give myself a challenge.  I’m going to try to design a really nice typography poster by the summer’s end.

GNR typography poster

GNR typography poster

The trick is remembering this challenge.

1 story / 4 icons

Last year I recommended Zone One for the upper school’s 2012-13 summer reading list.

cover of Zone One

Zone One cover

It did not reappear on the 2013-14 reading list.

“The kids didn’t like it,” I heard.  “Not enough zombies,” they said.  “It’s a thinking wo/man’s zombie novel.”

An owl on barbed wire. Srsly?


I don’t know what to say.  Kids these days.

I’ve been thinking about Zone One even before I realized it was pulled from the summer reading list.   I’ll probably buy my own copy to have on hand just because it’s full of things I want to consider again.  I’d like to have time to study it and annotate it.  To call Colson Whitehead’s Zone One a zombie novel, is a disservice to this book, which beautifully captures a trifecta of nostalgia, wanting, and loss.

Zone One is set a few years after the outbreak of a plague that turns the majority of the world’s population into flesh-eating zombies.  Time has passed, survivors reside in camps with names like “Happy Acres” and “Bubbling Brooks,”  militaries have regrouped, and provisional governments have seeded themselves through the world.

“Mark Spitz,” a character who prides himself on his mediocracy, guides readers through his memories of Last Night, his experiences in the wasteland, the rebranding of survival, and the rebooting of Lower Manhattan.  It’s an insightful, witty, heartbreaking novel.  It’s an existential kick in the balls guts.

To honor Zone One, I created this 4 icon challenge.

Zone One in 4 icons

Zone One in 4 icons

The iPod (designer unknown) plays prominently (I think) into Mark Spitz’s Last Night story.  The zombie (by designer Stephen Peluso)….  well, that’s obvious.  The city (by designer Juan Pablo Bravo) represents the primary setting–Manhattan.  The swimmer (designer unknown) is Mark Spitz.

All images are from The Noun Project.



Conform to the norm

Conform to the norm bumber sticker

Follow the Leader

A single purpose.  A single norm.  A single approach.  A single entity of people.  A single virtue.  A single morality.  A single frame of reference.  A single philosophy of government.

“The State” sounds like an awful place to live.  The above bumper sticker would probably land you in some work camp too.  I don’t think they have a sense of humor there.  The state’s doctors are also super creepy, and their creepiness has nothing to do with their faces.  Did you notice how touchy feely doctor was with his patients and nurses?

Doctor from 'Eye of the Beholder'

Touchy feely doctor

The ghettos for the disfigured can’t be too bad.  Mr. Smith looks healthy and handsome.  I’m sure Janet Tyler will be just fine.

Mr. Smith and Ms. Tyler

Mr. Smith and Ms. Tyler

I stayed up way too late watching “Eye of the Beholder” (S2E6).  I’m pretty sure it’s one of the definitive episodes.  I don’t remember seeing the episode before, but it’s made its way into my collection of pop culture references at some point or another.  I wasn’t shocked by the big reveal.  I did thoroughly enjoy how the episode was directed though.  I loved how the faces of the “normals” were hidden in the shadows, behind props, or behind each other.

But on to the bumper sticker.

I used GIMP.  And a little bit of Photoshop.  I found a picture of “the leader” and opened it in Photoshop.  I applied the film grain artistic filters to it.  I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to go with this project, so I just exported the image as a .jpg to work with later.  I created several layers in GIMP.  Probably more than I needed.

Gimp screenshot

Gimp screenshot

I created and placed a black box.  I opened up the .jpg that I altered in Photoshop and placed that.  Then I created a layer of text.  I changed the color of the text when necessary so that it would show up on the white and black parts of the bumper sticker.  The ‘m’ in ‘norm’ was hard to see over the image, so I ended up going into the text layer, selecting the area around the ‘m’ and then filling it in with white.

I think that’s all there was to it.



Collector’s Item: Talky Tina Trading Card

I got up early this morning to catch up on some DS106zone readings.  Inspired by some great projects like Andy Forgrave’s DS106zone trading card, I decided that the laundry could wait.  It’s time to attempt some art, dammit.

At 5:30 this morning, the project seemed very doable.  Most of the tutorial made sense.  It seemed easy.  It didn’t go as well as I thought it would, but that’s ok.  That’s how it goes sometimes.

Things that stumped me:

1.  My image of Talky Tina was small, so I spent time trying to figure out how to make her fit in the hole in the trading card.  I’m still not proficient in GIMP (or PhotoShop), so I’m still trying to wrap my head around the differences between layers and images and why things like ‘layer to image size,’ ‘layer to boundary size,’ ‘scale layer,’ etc. wouldn’t work for me.  After much failed experimentation, I discovered that the scale tool (tools > transform tools > scale) was all I needed.  Easy enough and intuitive once I knew it existed.  I really need to sit down with a GIMP or PhotoShop manual.  I think it would save me a lot of time in the end.

2.  I also had trouble editing the text from Andy’s template.  After some frustration and swearing, I discovered that I probably couldn’t edit the text, because it was a .psd file and I was in GIMP.  I am an idiot.  No matter.  I opened the template in PhotoShop and edited the necessary text.  I then saved the template, which was now a Talky Tina card and moved back into GIMP.  After all, I had spent all of that time trying to figure out how to scale Tina to fit in the card.  I didn’t want to grope my way around PhotoShop trying to solve the same problem.

3.  Oh, and I wasn’t sure how to make Tina sit comfy and snug behind the DS106zone logo.

trying to solve a GIMP problem

Gimp conundrum

I ended up just erasing part of the Tina layer, which is why it looks a little rough.  I feel like there’s a more professional way though.

Anyhoo….  Here’s my Talky Tina trading card.

Talky Tina trading card

I’ll trade you my Talky Tina for your Alien Woman

It’ll do.