You know a ghost story is good when the word “but” can almost make you pee yourself

So I have loved ghost stories since I can remember, although my faith in ghosts themselves have wavered over the years. I decided to listen to Ghost Stories (surprise) and found the back and forth commentary to be very similar to the Radiolab “Detective Stories”. “What happens after you die?” what an opener! This draws in the listeners immediately. How the heck they can go back and forth so fast without hesitation seems like magic to me. In addition, the way Mary Roach’s voice has an echo-y sound effect was cool when she was pretending to be a dead person. Some spooky Ghost Whisperer effects right there. The “gas” turning on was interesting too because it was one of the only hesitations she made, almost to let the listeners hear the “gas” turn on and be able to imagine yourself right there when this is happening. Then there were typewriter clicks as she said New York Times. This is brilliant stuff people. Oh and nothing is worse than “waiting and listening” to a radio silence and just waiting for something creepy than jumping out of your seat over Roach saying the word “but”! I also like the depressing songs between the breaks. Way to keep the mood going.

And again, throughout the whole story there is a back and forth between host and guest or host and a recording that is almost amusing to listen to even if that isn’t the purpose (which is probably just to shove a bunch of interesting info into an hour). I also like how the producers make a bold and weird statement for each story and then they gradually explain how this statement is truth but isn’t as weird as we think. For example: the face of a dead woman for the CPR doll. It isn’t a literal statement (the face is not a corpse) but it is true, the face is structured after a dead woman. Then you can almost feel yourself walking up these “rickety wooden stairs” that are being described as you’re listening to the sound effects of it. Then the sound effects of not only water but the sound of a piano that is almost from a cartoon to help you imagine this woman falling into the river. It is incredible what some imagery and sound can do for a listener.

The third story actually made me cringe with anxiety. A man that sees a face bobbing outside his window? And knocking on his door? Plus the A Haunting sound effects? Creepy. Then I figured out it was a dream and a part of me was relieved and another part was disappointed. I wanted it to be real. How weird.

So I could go on and on about each story but I feel like I am just repeating myself over and over. So here’s a summary: the hosts like their dialogue to be a back and forth dialogue and they like to use sound effects to draw listeners in. Boom! a whole hour worth of producer techniques in one sentence. Another thing, I feel like this audio story is best as that: audio. This is because I don’t think it would have been as creepy on TV because you wouldn’t have the mystery or the suspense or sound effects such as staring as a computer screen and just waiting for something to happen while listening to creepy sound effects. Sure a TV has jump scares, but so can an audio. That’s all a jump scare is anyways: loud music. Then there is the fact that a TV would force an image upon you versus whatever creepy image you can muster from the depths of your mind. Creepy.

I never thought I would cheer on drug smugglers

So for This American Life I chose to listen to “Getting Away With It” simply because I had no clue what they were all about so I chose the one that sounded the most psychological. So at first it almost sounds like Ira and the man are on a plane with the loud/noisy background sound. Then I figure out they are (or at least Ira wants it to seem this way). Also it sounds like a guy is telling a story and Ira is like a narrator AND an interviewer. At first this threw me off because I was hearing the same voice twice but one was giving background while the other was conversational. This ended up being very confusing haha.

The second story was interesting because at first it starts out sounding sunny and happy then turns into this suspenseful, mysterious music when  it came to the fortune-teller lady who did some ritual on whether or not the checkpoint will be open. The sound at the open checkpoint was interesting because it almost sounds like time ticking away (more suspense), I like that the jovial music plays when they are just riding in the car. Then a low background music plays that makes me feel anxious which must be what the producer planned because now there is some serious trouble with the dad heading right to the checkpoint with drugs! This is also interesting because rationally I should be excited, “Yaaay the evil-doers getting caught”. But being caught in the story made me feel a similar fear/anxiety as the narrator. I also really liked how this one narrator was able to portray and speak/think for his parents and the checkpoint guards. I enjoyed how the low, lazy music almost sounded like the sun going down, like it was supposed to tell you it was becoming night time before he even spoke.I was just overall sucked into this story about how this kid got dragged into his parents “career” and the effects on him as a bystander.

The last story was honestly super boring to me compared to the first two because it felt very broken up with Ira’s narration AND the many different interviews AND just the fact it was mostly politics. It is also hard to keep track of who is who and matching the voices to the character (I have never had to learn to deal with this until listening to an audio story!). I did like that he did the background before the story because all he had to do was reference it and I knew exactly what Ira was talking about versus taking out 15 minutes to explain it within the story. I personally thought it was funny that Ira did the whole spiel (in Part one of our assignments) about how you need to forget high school English stories with the topic sentence and then evidence BUT Ira basically set up his last Act in this exact way. He would give background and a statement then have the other characters fill in the blanks and offer more information to explain his statement. For as much as I hate politics I really like the way the legislator (?) for Oklahoma sold his bill. He pointed out what the people wanted to hear and then used logic and numbers to basically say, “You want this bill to pass because this will save us so much money in the long run and it’s good for society.”

This first audio story was pretty hard to reflect on because I was bouncing back and forth between reflecting on the story itself and then the techniques Ira used to make this.

Going out of my comfort zone on this; please scroll past now

So this week is going to be super stressful with the whole recording my voice thing because I either sound like a 50 year old man or a 5 year old. Plus I might have voice fright okay, it’s a real thing I promise. But anyways, here’s my “oh yeah” that kinda feels like “oh no”. Enjoy but not too much please.

Today’s Lesson: be yourself, make a connection, and don’t give up.

So first I listened to Ira Glass’ series and now I just really want to be his friend. I listened to all four parts but I think part one and four were the most educational for me. What I really got out of this, to summarize: be yourself, don’t give up, and practice. Glass basically wants his viewers to have a personality. Don’t try to be like the people on television or the people you hear on the radio. Be yourself because there is only one you, everyone else is already taken. Also, the process will take awhile because we have these expectations of what we want to be but we won’t start out perfect. This ties into the fact we have to practice. If we try a few times, suck at it, and decide to quit then we will never be where we want to be. But if we practice at storytelling every week then we can get there. He even showed us an embarrassing audio story of his own from when he was really far into practicing and how he differs now because he kept working on it.

There were also a few pointers I noted while listening. I noted the few things a story needs: to have an anecdote (sequence of events), raise questions, and reflect on why the story is important. If there is no sequence it won’t draw listeners in. If you don’t raise questions then is it really a story or just listing off facts? If there is no reflection then the whole piece means absolutely nothing. I also noted his two errors: (first of which I already mentioned) one is that people try to mimic the TV/radio, and two, there is only one character (usually themselves). I already explained the first error but the second one was actually more interesting to me so I will explain. If someone is telling a story that is completely about one character then how entertaining will it actually be? If there are no supporting characters then there is no conflict or friends or interactions in general. I never even thought about this! Pretty much everything I have ever read or watched has at least two characters.

Side note: his “boring” story was actually pretty suspenseful just based on how theatrical/low his voice was alone with his hesitation between sequences. I want to know more! What happens next?

What I will look for differently now will definitely be how other people talk or act in their own stories simply because I have never thought about mimicking them until I watched these videos. I would also never have a reason to without this class! So of course now I will be paying close attention to how other people talk or act in real life or on TV. I will also try to implement in my own work the persistence he mentioned, as well as trying to be myself. I’m sure as soon as I start recording myself one day I will start acting like a confused robot because I will have some kind of stage fright. I will try to just relax and be me. I will also try to remember to raise questions in my stories and to reflect. Although, I am still confused on how the reflection works in a story because to me it seems like a conclusion but he mentioned to forget high school story set-ups.

Next I listened to the short interview with Jad Abumrad. He basically put into words why I always like the book better than the movie. Audio stories are cool because they’re like someone reading you a book so there’s minimum effort like watching TV BUT you get to create your own images versus the TV that forces them onto you. I also thought it was cool how he explains how empathy works with the radio and the listener: there is a co-authorship that basically one is creating the story and the other is making the images. There’s some mutual understanding here that a non-listener would never have.

I think this has implicated me in a way of how I will feel when listening to the radio on a long drive. Having someone speak to me and it sounds personal for such a long amount of time, I will probably feel like I just made a friend! I think this connection that both speakers kind of mentioned will be something I look forward to finding when I turn on the radio (or for future assignments). I also think that Abumrad has influenced the way I will read or listen more than ever: I will not only make my own image but will feel a connection to the author. I have probably felt this before but now I will be searching and attempting to reproduce myself.

 

The bangs are gone but the sass isn’t.

It’s weird to me that I used to have bangs and wear sunglasses allll the time because now I hate both. Also I used to do this cute scrunchy face thing but when I tried to recreate it I looked like I was just in pain so I stuck to something safer.

Week two was five times easier than week one

So week one was super hard because I am not a technology person AT ALL which means setting up a website was quite the challenge. This week I knew more of what to expect so it ran much smoother (plus less work hours equals more time and less rushing). I think what surprised me most was that I was able to reflect and story-tell easily. I say this but I did run into a few rough patches, however the whole reflecting and storytelling processes were much more fluid.

Sadly, the trouble I ran into was with my designblitz. No matter how hard I would try to find ads and signs with the different concepts, most of the concept photos I liked were with objects. Personally, each photo did represent the noted concept but I’m not sure others would agree with me. The subjectivity here gives me anxiety because I wanted to pass the assignment with flying colors while following instruction and being creative about it. I hope my reflections were enough to show my perspective of each photo.

I tried out my first daily create for week two. I wanted to make a collage but I found a picture of a bunch of carrots together already and had the idea for the daily create just pop into my head! I also showed it to some of my friends and my family and they all loved it (mostly the pun) so I was happy with it. I learned here that the twitter daily create page usually has less instruction than the online daily create page. I took note of this and found the next few daily creates on the online page so I was sure to know the full instruction.

The next day I tried out daily create number two. This was a fun one because I had so many puns I wanted to use. I decided to use one in the dialogue and one for the title to satisfy my pun needs. Looking back I wish I did a little more but I didn’t want to edit the photo itself in case it somehow changed the meaning/contents of the original photo.

The same day I tried out the required reading assignment. This was easier to get through than I thought! Well, parts of it. I really learned about timelessness/texture/color/white space and the to-dos and not to-dos about design. I learned that designs are the best when they are timeless because if it is long-lasting then they don’t have to change. I also learned about the effects of texture and color on a photo and how primary colors are the most used (also due to timelessness). I also never knew that the white space of a design was so important! That was probably the most surprising find of the read for me.  I was also really happy to hear from someone that my summary of The Vignelli Canon was a “good write up” and “in depth”! I also learned something interesting about myself from this assignment. I am usually a very logical person, but when it comes to the logical part of art, my mind is like, “What? Art is meant to be creative.” So my brain automatically is thrown off because I am trying to find the rational part of art. But the logical part of me loves the history and challenge and psychology of art. Why primary colors? They’re timeless. Why white space? It’s a frame. These are just a few examples of what I mean but man is that cool.

Next I tried the Are We There Yet? assignment. This is another one of those times where I am so grateful that I actually remember something from my high school computer art class. I figured out how to pull the picture of my sister and me and place it on a new background to make it look somewhat realistic that we weren’t in Virginia anymore. OH and I finally figured out how to take screenshots and make a somewhat okay tutorial. I tried to do the whole narration while doing the assignment thing but I mess up so many times and it makes me nervous to record myself so I mess up even more so I just stuck to screenshots and a typed up narration under it.

The first few daily creates confused me because I thought we were supposed to make a story with them, instead of the assignments, to I struggled with that. But after the first assignment I was able to come up with a story for anything and my old self, the one that tried to make books and was in creative writing club in high school, arose within me and had a great time storytelling! FINALLY!

Then I tried a four star assignment, but I’m guessing I did it wrong because it did not feel like a four star assignment. I had to take out words from a movie poster for Taken 3, changed all the words to something punny, and was finished. I immediately was freaking out because I was confused as to why this was four stars but I couldn’t really figure out why through the comments. But I did it! Maybe this just means I’m super good at this now!! Or not.

Next day I did my third assignment for the week. This one was harder than the four stars! I had to find a good font AND a good picture AND try to select and separate the picture AND had to resize it so it fit AND had to add a pun because they are my favorite. BUT the challenge was what made it fun and plus it was so cute that I almost wanted to make it on Custom Ink or something so I can keep it.

So assignment four was a night assignment which means the creativity and feelings are going full blast. This one took a lot out of me. There was a lot of bravery and courage involved here because I have never made public such a personal story. It was at first just going to be assignment four but when I couldn’t think of a story, I thought, “Well why not the true story? My story?” So after an agonizing, heart wrenching, summary from like 5 years ago, I did it. This is an accomplishment I probably would have never gotten to do if not for this class. Also the fact it was night time when I made the piece also helped the emotions flow.

To make up for the sad post, I made my first GIF a hilarious one. I knew I wanted one involving a cat fail because those are what I watch when I’m feeling down. I also was totally confused at first trying to find a good GIF generator, but once I found https://makeagif.com/ everything ran smooth. I have never made a GIF before this so I learned how through this class, but it was also a lot easier than I imagined! I liked it so much I even made an assignment out of a GIF.

The next day was like a movie day. First I did the third daily create. This involved making hints for a movie for people to guess (sadly no one tried). I used Deadpool for my Daily Create because that’s my current favorite movie, but I just realized how depressing his story is. 🙁 Poor Ryan Reynolds. This one was surprisingly easy for me to do! I wish it was that easy to break down my essays for school.

I also did my second GIF that day, which was also a movie (The Notebook). This was not hard for me (I love making GIFs now) but the story was hard for me to come up with because I couldn’t think of any other story than the actual movie plot. Time to think outside the box. So what I did was use the characters features (the guy’s facial hair and the girl’s facial expression) to come up with the story: a werewolf and a vampire. How cliche.

For assignment number five I also did a GIF since I figured out how to do them AND used a third movie for the day (Spirited Away). As a psych major I would say the availability heuristic is definitely taking place here. I think I am earning back some of my creativity that I used to have because storytelling for the last few assignments has been a cinch! This time was even harder than the last assignment when it came to storytelling! I eventually figured it out but using a movie or a book as a prompt to write a story on is very challenging to do. Like I can’t just summarize what is actually happening so I have to make up something completely different based on what they are doing or what their expressions are.

Friday I made my most frustrating and dissatisfying Daily Create. Making the font and colors match was AWFUL. WORST TIME EVER. I tried sooo many fonts and colors the thing lasted at least an hour to do. It was such a funny idea too. I’m from the very bottom right of Virginia so anything above Richmond is considered NOVA and my friends and I like to call Hampton Roads SOVA to be funny. I’m also from Newport News and sometimes the nicer places around me call us Bad News. So I just put all this together into one postcard to make one very unsatisfying Daily Create.

Last but not least, I made my designblitz. I probably wrote 1000 words of reflection in like 5 minutes because all I had to do was write out all the things I was thinking while taking the specific photos. I’m not even sure what else to talk about for this one because I already reflected sooo much. This was difficult for me because I took pictures of things that I thought reflected the concept but a few pictures definitely needed explanation on exactly how it reflected the concept in my own mind. Because I am sure others would look at them and not see what I see and wonder why the heck I put them in the slideshow to begin with. But generally I was pretty happy with this blitz because it took a lot of creativity and searching in public areas to finally find these photos.

Overall, I feel that I completed the assignments to the best of my ability. Some of them missed the mark that I was going for but that’s to be expected every once in awhile. I mentally picture one thing and then I try it out and it doesn’t translate how I wanted it. I also really enjoyed the fact that storytelling was so much easier this week. And the tutorials weren’t as bad as I thought either! I kind of wished that I didn’t overthink so many assignments. I feel like I overthink things too much and then just mess up my hard work. I also am confused on whether or not I need to add anything to the Daily Create posts when I put them on here??? Looking all the way back, I think Vignelli really highlighted a lot of the societal implications. For example, how companies will use the “long-lasting” primary colors or not following the fads because they will be “uncool” soon enough and need change.

 

 

Yes Mr. Walmart janitor, I am taking a picture of your restroom sign.

So this blitz was definitely more of a challenge than the first one for a few reasons. One, I couldn’t just find everything in my house, I had to actually actively search in public places for my items. Two, I couldn’t just find a picture that could explain itself, I had to find things to photograph that took my own reasoning behind it. My own personal perspective. Three, I couldn’t take a natural looking photo of proportion or unity no matter how hard I looked. I believe this is because when I have an idea of something in mind and I cannot find it, I run into trouble for looking outside the box. Whereas for the pictures I have in my slideshow, I saw an automatically thought this is it. And to me, that is my most important instinct for art, photography and storytelling in general. Otherwise, I have to force a story or edit the photo to death before being okay with it.

So the first photo is for color. It is definitely something I need to explain because it was not what I was going for originally. To me this photo has multiple usage of color. First one is how the tie dye on the left is full of warm colors, the one on the right is full of cold colors, and the one up top is a mixture of both. This of course drew my attention in. Why is it that I put all the warm colors on one and cold colors on the other and I like those better than the mix of the two? I honestly believe this is the perfectionist side of me coming out. I want all the warm colors together to wear when I am wanting to feel happier (exam day?) and then cold colors for pretty much any other day. Why would I ever mix them? But the top shirt is a mix of warm yellow and cold blue? Why does this work for me? My only explanation is that together they make a pretty color. If I tried to mix blue and orange then my shirt would be brown. Ew. When I first saw these shirts together I thought it looked like warm vs cold and the greener shirt was the mediator. This in itself was its own little story. I also analyzed why bright colors are used for tie dye. Well pastels would probably fade and would have more of a preppy style than bright hippy rainbow colors. Black and white is just… what? a cow shirt? Sepia would just be a yellow and brown shirt. So a diaper tie dye. Great. I also liked how the kit came with blue, pink, orange and yellow. No red, but two warm colors similar to red. This made me wonder why but my only explanation was that they could sell more for a price versus just the three primary colors. So the bright and bold rainbow colors it is! The reason I believe this was a bad design is because I really wanted a picture of a romance movie ad that was all pink and girly, or a horror ad that was black and gray and creepy. Then I could talk about how the colors add to the mood and change the meaning of each ad. Not a picture with all the colors combined. And definitely not a picture that had to be explained so much just to share my reasoning of taking it in the first place.

The next picture is a symbol of a women’s restroom in Walmart. I felt SUPER weird for taking this and so my trade off for getting a pretty dull picture was my embarrassment for putting myself in the position of publicly taking a photo of a restroom sign. Did I mention this was public and I had an audience? ANYWAYS yes this photo is a symbol, not too much explaining needed here. Go me. I think this was interesting though because if someone is looking for the restroom, they immediately look for the little stick lady wearing a dress or the stick man. These very basic figures represent a location. How odd. And the handicapped restrooms have a stick man sitting on a C and people understand that the C is a wheelchair. If I was a kid I probably would have no clue. The thing separating each of these rooms is simply a dress and a C. That’s it. No wonder I accidentally used the men’s restroom that one time! I believe I hit the nail on the head here with the whole “symbol” thing, it was just not as fun as the other three. But better than taking a picture of a doorknob for the function picture (but again, embarrassing).

The third picture is for minimalism and again needs more explaining. This photo also receives a love/hate reaction from me (though I am my worst critic). This is from one of my friends houses, who is a huge zen hippy that eats organic and goes to yoga. She does not have much artwork around the house but she has this. This picture is also right next to the door when you walk in. To me this says, “This is who I am, I will let you know that right now. I am zen. My house is zen. Even my dog practices zen (he doesn’t). And I hope you wish to at least accept this idea as you walk into my home.” That is minimalism to me. When you have one picture of something, anything, and it means a whole lot of things. This is not her saying she praises Buddha, and therefore not a symbol. This is a piece that represents her ideals and practices. I am proud of noticing this canvas and for seeing this for what it is, which could not have been possible if not for this class. This class has definitely made me step out of my comfort zone, think out of the box, and notice more of the little things. Thank you ds106. I may not be awesome at this kind of stuff yet but I am trying to catch up to your level! Slowly but surely. This may not be what someone would call minimalism, and maybe I failed at that part, but this is my idea of minimalism and for that I pass myself with this design!

The last photo is of balance, or symmetry to be specific. I tried so hard to find natural symmetry but this was as close as I could get (who knew the flowers around my house could be so painfully unsymmetrical). This was awesome to me because even the trees bend in the same direction and I have half a bench on either side of them. I also love how the background is very unsymmetrical. One side has a tree up close, the other a far away tree with a bright sky. The contrast between the foreground and background throws me for a loop every time! The difference here is that the symmetrical foreground is a man-made set-up while the background is nature being it’s chaotic self. I pass myself for this design as well, even though I wanted a design that was either symmetrical or not.

 

Spirited Away? More like Running Away

Pop Culture .GIF – “Make an animated .gif of something pop-culture centric. This could be animating a celebrity, part of a music video, or a TV show/movie. It doesn’t even have to be from today… head back into the annals of history and pull out something that used to be pop culture back in its day.”

Tutorial:

  1. Figure out what you want to make a GIF of
  2. Find it on YouTube
  3. Go to your favorite GIF maker (mine is https://makeagif.com/ )
  4. Click on Create GIF and make a GIF from YouTube
  5. Paste in URL from video you want
  6. Move sliding bar where you want GIF to start and the second bar to how long you want the GIF
  7. Click CREATE GIF and DONE! SAVE! Make sure it opens and moves on your website!

Chihiro_running_down_stairs

So I personally believe Miyazaki has created some of the most beautiful animation from this time. This film (Spirited Away) was probably one of my favorites that I just so happened to catch on Cartoon Network. I considered myself lucky to have randomly caught this one TV. What amazing themes about saving our world! What beautiful colors and animation! What creativity! And because of these reasons I have picked this hilarious scene from Spirited Away, where Chihiro falls down the steps and breaks out into a run just to smash into a wall. Brilliant work.

So you see this girl running. What is she running from, and to where? I’ll tell you a different version from what a few of you may be acquainted with. This is Chihiro, a homeless beggar girl from town. She just stole the clothes on her back and now she is on the run! Running for her life actually, because that is the price to be paid in her town. If only she had been more cautious. Behind her, at the top of the stairs, is an angry man with a loaded hunting rifle. Below her, at the end of the stairs, ends up being under construction. Her only hope to get away is to jump into the river and try to hide or swim away. Swim Away. A much better name for the story behind this GIF than Spirited Away. Here, there are no spirits. Only thieves and angry men with guns.  Much more realistic. You would be angry too if someone stole from you. But then again you would steal clothes for your back too if you had nothing to exchange them for. It’s all about placing yourself in the shoes of someone else. But in this story, I wouldn’t want to be in her soon-to-be-soggy shoes.