Where is Shakespeare’s head?

This image is on Flickr, here


The #ds106 daily create for April 23, 2016: It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! “Scientists have scanned Shakespeare’s grave and determined that his head is likely missing! Your mission – show us where Shakespeare’s head is!”

When I saw this daily create I immediately thought of an old #GIFfight from 2013, which used this Vader image. Then I used that image for another daily create in December 2013.

This Vader pose just reminded me of those old iconic images of Hamlet saying “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well ….”

I followed pretty much the same process as described in this blog post, including doing a transformation of the skull so it looked more like it was facing Vader.

Skull image is from here: www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=50580&

Taking my giant cat West

The ds106 daily create for February 19, 2016 was:

But I decided in the end to just use one cat (less work to cut one out of its background than two). I thought I might have to put the cat in the back of a pickup truck with the back door up, so I thought the one of Marco standing up would be better because more of him would be out of the truck bed.

I first tried to put him into this truck:

From pixabay.com, public domain
From pixabay.com, public domain

But when I made him into a giant cat, and put him high enough in the truck behind the back gate so you could see he was a cat, there wasn’t enough room for his head.

Then I found this image on Flickr:

SAAB 99 pickup truck, Flickr photo by John Lloyd, licensed CC BY 2.0
SAAB 99 pickup truck, Flickr photo by John Lloyd, licensed CC BY 2.0

Perfect–I wouldn’t have to put him inside the truck back door, which would require cutting the door out of the image and putting it on a new layer, on top of the cat!

Process steps (using GIMP)

  1. I opened both images (truck and cat) as layers.
  2. Then I used control-click (right-click) on the cat layer and chose “add alpha channel,” which allows it to be transparent if you erase part of it.
  3. Time for the eraser tool on the cat layer:

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 8.54.57 PM

4. After working with the eraser in smaller increments, I ended up with this:

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 9.30.26 PM


I just wasn’t really thrilled with the result. For one thing, it looked like he was listing to the side a bit.

5. I then went to Layer on the top menu and chose Transform -> arbitrary rotation and rotated him a bit so he wasn’t listing so much. But it still looked weird.

6. He needs a cat bed or a pillow, I thought. Otherwise it just looks like he’s sitting strangely on that truck. I found a picture of a pillow on Pixabay. I did the same as in step 2 to add an alpha channel to the pillow layer, and used the eraser tool to get rid of the white background.

7. But the pillow was sitting at a weird angle; it looked like it wasn’t really sitting flat on the truck. This time I used the perspective tool on the left menu of GIMP and moved the layer around with different perspectives until it looked better.

8. I then cleaned up the edges of the cat a bit more. I realized that if you make the eraser tool Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 10.10.14 PMbigger, using the brush that looks like the one with a square around it on the right, it will give you softer edges on your erasing around the image (rather than using a smaller brush, which gives harder edges).


And so, the finished product:




Amazing how he can manage to stay on through all the bumps in the road!


Captioning Frederic Remington

I had hoped to participate in the Western-themed #ds106 this term, and what with teaching a little less than usual I thought I’d have time. Not. Too many grant applications, research, award applications, and lots and lots of committee work. Alas.

But I did do today’s Western-themed #ds106 Daily Create: caption a Frederic Remington painting. The instructions were to “add a caption to the painting to bring the west into the modern age. Make it funny (yet stay respectful).” Well, not sure I brought it into the modern age, but I did try for the rest of those instructions.


The original is “Miners Prospecting,” public domain on Wikimedia Commons.

The one with the pan just looked so guilty…


I used GIMP to add the text to the image. I didn’t have any fonts that looked Western-y enough, so I went to dafont.com and downloaded “Duality.” I felt like it mixed oldish-looking with a kind of sense of joking fun.

Every time I do this I forget how to add fonts to my computer so GIMP can use them. Fortunately, there’s the internet. This page was helpful.

The hardest part was picking a colour for the text that made it stand out and be readable, and yet didn’t just sort of fade into the picture as if it were part of it. The yellowish colour worked best, as it fit the aesthetic of the image better than like blue or something, yet also clearly looks added on (which was the idea!).

Spaghetti (?) Westerns

Both images from pixabay.com
Both images from pixabay.com


The ds106 daily create for Jan. 4, 2016, was to do some research on Spaghetti Westerns. I relished this encouragement to do so because, well, the whole idea has never made sense to me. What does pasta have to do with Westerns? And why specifically spaghetti?

I realize that by saying all this I admit I know nothing about Spaghetti Westerns, which is certainly true. I know next to nothing about Westerns at all. The genre has just never really appealed to me, even though I grew up in what is technically the “West.” Small town Idaho had its share of cowboys and cowgirls, and rodeos were big. But that’s really not the same thing now, is it? We had sheriffs and saloons, but things were mighty tame by the time I was born out there in the wilds of small town Idaho.

I don’t know…something about the aesthetic, or about the over-the-top masculinity and violence, about the sexism…it just has all not been attractive to me.

So I am taking it on as a challenge to find something I like in Westerns, by joining #western106 this term, an open, online #ds106 that was supposed to be taking place with Alan Levine at KSU, but that didn’t have enough students (what were they thinking?). So it’s up to use open online participants to corral the wagons.

And as a start, I’m learning a bit about Spaghetti Westerns.


The daily create site suggested we look at the TV Tropes entry for Spaghetti Westerns. And there is where I discovered the connection:

  • “A sub-genre of the Western films, so called because they were produced by Italian studios (and tended to feature quite a bit of gore).”

Ah, okay, like tomato sauce. I had no idea that the Italians were into the Western genre. Shows you how little I know about Westerns at all.

I found out more from an Introduction on the Spaghetti Westerns database:

  • “The name ‘spaghetti western’ originally was a depreciative term, given by foreign critics to these films because they thought they were inferior to American westerns.”
  • “In the eighties the reputation of the genre grew and today the term is no longer used disparagingly, although some Italians still prefer to call the films western all’italiana (westerns Italian style). In Japan they are called Macaroni westerns, in Germany Italowestern.”

So spaghetti westerns are macaroni westerns too. The pastas multiply! And if that weren’t enough, some Westerns that focused on political topics having to do with Mexican revolutions were, according to the same site, known as “Zapata Westerns,” but sometimes as “Tortilla Westerns.”

I can’t help but wonder what Canadian-made Westerns might be called. Somehow “Maple Syrup Western” just doesn’t have an authentic ring to it.

I also learned from that same site that A Fistful of Dollars (1964) is a remake of a Kurosawa film called Yojimbo (1961), and Wikipedia tells me that Yojimbo was heavily influenced by “the 1942 film noir classic The Glass Key, an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett‘s 1931 novel.” I haven’t heard of any of these except the 1964 Western, and now I’m interested to follow this particular thread (perhaps mainly because, well, I just really like film noir).

From A Beginners Guide to Spaghetti Westerns, I learned that

  • “Initially, the Spaghetti Western protagonist was a loner/outcast in the Eastwood mold — not a traditional John Wayne-style “good guy” in a white hat, but a morally flexible type, more unpredictable and cynical.”

Okay, that sounds intriguing to me. I can get on board with that to some degree, though I’ll have to deal with the sexism and unnecessary violence somehow.

Also, the genre changed later with the political films (late 60s), according to the same site:

  • “The lone hero was out; collectivist themes were in. Many took as their historical basis the border battles between Mexico and the United States (leading to their occasional branding as “Zapata Westerns”).”

Since I haven’t seen these, I can’t comment on whether or not they have racist or xenophobic overtones (that will have to wait until I see one or two).

A number of sites said that one thing that makes Spaghetti Westerns stand out in part because they were much more violent than other Westerns, apparently. And when I learned that Tarantino was a fan of spaghetti westerns, well, after this, I wasn’t surprised. I haven’t seen Django Unchained, but now, at least, after reading all this, I understand the reference to Django (1966).


So after all of this I am more intrigued about Spaghetti Westerns, and will find myself some time to watch a couple (after I’ve finished a lecture on Apocalypse Now that I have to give for a class next week!).


Sisyphus animated gif

I am going to do an instructional video for one of my philosophy courses, on Albert Camus’ essay “The Myth of Sisyphus.” I spent quite awhile this morning looking around the web for videos or animated gifs of Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain, having it fall down again, and starting over. I wanted to use something like that for my course video. I found a few videos and gifs, but none of them were, so far as I could see, openly licensed.

What’s an instructor to do? Create their own animated gif, of course! Thanks to #ds106, I can.

Adapted from Sisyphus, by Nikolay Necheuhin, from The Noun Project.
Adapted from Sisyphus, by Nikolay Necheuhin, from The Noun Project.


It didn’t turn out exactly as I would have wished (do these things ever?); I would have liked to have had Sisyphus move the boulder in from the left after it falls down, but the icon of the man in the original wasn’t shaped in the right way for that to look good (he would have his hands in the air while pushing the boulder sideways!). And I just don’t have the time right now to change his arms so he is pushing the boulder sideways with them. That wouldn’t be too hard to do, really, with this black-and-white, blocky image, but I am out of time today.

Now, because it’s going into a video, I’ll either have to credit the original icon maker and The Noun Project in the credits, or put that info on the gif itself (I’d rather not), or just buy the icon from the Noun Project itself. Yeah, that’s the easiest thing…and I am getting so much value out of this one it’s way more than worth it!

I love how #ds106 is useful not just for fun (and it certainly is useful for that…we all need fun in our lives!) but also for my work. Excellent.


Two more…

I decided to add to the original by making the “sigh” obvious:




And then, because Camus says at the end of the short essay on Sisyphus that “we must imagine Sisyphus happy” (and my video will talk about this), I made one where he is very happy.


These gifs are all openly licensed, CC BY 4.0


The process for the original

I used GIMP to make this animated gif.

After downloading the original icon from the Noun Project (see link in caption for the gif)…

  • I put a white layer under the transparent black icon.
  • I selected the rock using the circular select tool, did command-x to “cut” it, then created a new, transparent layer and used command-v to paste. In GIMP, that gives you a floating layer that you have to anchor down to the new layer you created.
  • I made a few duplicates of the transparent layer with just the rock.
  • I selected the man using the free select tool, and then pasted him onto one of the layers with just the rock. So then I had a transparent layer with just the man and the rock together, and some with just the rock (important for when the rock rolls down!). I also had a layer with just the mountain, and then the white background.
  • I merged the mountain layer to the white background layer and duplicated many times.
  • I duplicated the man-and-rock transparent layer many times.
  • Then it was just a matter of moving the man-and-rock layers up and up to the right, incrementally in the stack, putting a mountain layer beneath each one. (I keep forgetting to take screen shots while I’m in the process, to help explain!).
  • Similarly, on the top of the stack (GIMP animates from bottom of the stack to the top) I moved the just rock layers down and to the left incrementally in the stack, with mountain layers between each one.
  • At that point, what you should do is test the animation using Filters -> Animation -> Playback. You’ll get a bunch of white mountain layers between the moving man-and-rock layers so it looks a bit weird, but that way you can easily move the man-and-rock transparent layers against the white background if you need to.
    • If you do what I did, and merge the man-and-rock layers down to the white mountain layers before testing this out, then you have to do “undo” a bunch of times to unmerge them so you can move the man-and-rock again. I did this several times over. And if you save in between, I think “undo” only goes back as far as you saved. Because there were a few layers when he’s at the very top that I wanted to change the position of the man-and-rock of, but I couldn’t b/c I couldn’t unmerge them. D’oh.
  • When I was happy with the playback, I merged the man-and-rock and rock layers onto the mountain on white background layers.

Screenshot 2015-09-19 16.21.36

  • Then I added some pauses in the timing; I wanted there to be a pause before the rock rolls back down, and between when it rolls down and he starts over again. I also wanted there to be a pause when he starts up again, facing the mountain with his rock, like there’s a little sigh of here-we-go-again. To do that, I changed the titles of the layers to add millisecond timings: “start (500ms)”, “before rock falls (400ms)”, etc.


  • Then when I exported it as a .gif file, I slowed down the animation by putting in the box where it says “delay between frames where unspecified,” and changed that from 100 to 200 ms. Screenshot 2015-09-19 16.17.17





Labyrinth Tales, a #ds106 radio show

Labyrinth Tales promo poster, by Rockylou Productions, licensed CC BY-NC 2.0
Labyrinth Tales promo poster, by Rockylou Productions, licensed CC BY-NC 2.0


There were two open, online versions of #ds106 this summer:

The Burgeron Family Fairy Tale Festival

Though some of us focused on one and others on the other, many of the open, online #ds106 participants came together to create a joint radio show combining themes from both summer #ds106 experiences.

The result is a fairy tale, with some themes from the tv show The Prisoner, which #prisoner106 was based on.

Labyrinth Tales Poster, by Ron Leunissen.
Labyrinth Tales Poster, by Ron Leunissen.

This show was collaboratively written and performed by:
Melanie Barker
Mariana Funes
Christina Hendricks
John Johnston
Ron Leunissen
Rochelle Lockridge
Kathy Onarheim
Vivien Rolfe
Karen Young
plus, a cameo by Christina’s son Sasha as the page who announces the princess


Ron Leunissen & I volunteered to edit all the bits together, but really, Ron did the bulk of the work. I did three scenes and he did all the rest! John Johnston did the whole of scene 7, the one that is only sound effects of the Princess in the labyrinth, with no dialogue.

Here is the show, which was premiered on ds106radio on Sunday, Sept. 6, 8pm UK time, during the ds106 Good Spell show. It is licensed CC BY-NC 4.0. Please credit “DS106 open players” as the creators.


Music credits:

Music by Viv Rolfe:

Motion Picture Plays No. 2A Allegro Agitato, licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Motion Picture Plays No. 4A Misterioso e Lamentoso, licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Motion Picture Plays No. 3 Agitato Misterioso, licensed CC BY-NC-SA 3.0


Music by Kevin Macleod (http://incompetech.com), all licensed CC BY 3.0

“Black Vortex”

“Drums of the Deep”

“Life of Riley”

“Pop Goes the Weasel”

“Suonatore di Liuto”

“Teller of the Tales”

“Unseen Horrors”


Sound effects credits

Many sound effects were used from freesound.org that were licensed CC0, and those are not credited here. Some sound effects were created by the collaborators on this show themselves. The following are credits for sound effects that require attribution.

These are all from http://freesound.org:


“Galloping Horse” by prosounder, licensed with the CC sampling plus 1.0 license

“Fanfare1,” by neonaeon, licensed CC BY 3.0

HighHeelsWendyQuick” by acclivity, licensed CC BY-NC 3.0

sw_mild_surprise” by jppi_Stu, licensed CC BY 3.0

Human-Man-Uh_Oh” by D W, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Royal Sparkle Whoosh Left to Right” by alex@vsi.tv, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Garment Rustle 1” by unreadpages, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Opening_Cardboard_Box,” by Tony Whitmore, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Rummaging through the recycling bin” by daveincamas, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Frantic Searching” by Vedas, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Footsteps 3” by Paul Messier, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Yawn 2,” by lauriesafari, licensed CC BY 3.0

“04099 Magic String Spell,” by Robinhood76, licensed CC BY-NC 3.0

“traditional_bavarian_folk_music2” by reinsamba, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Crowd in a bar (LCR)” by Leandros.Ntounis, licensed CC BY 3.0

“Drinking” by limetoe, licensed CC BY 3.0

“drinking in big gulps,” by mwmarsh, licensed with the CC sampling plus 1.0 license

“Old Man Walking,” by reinsamba, licensed CC BY 3.0

“going down quickly on an inside metal staircase”, by arnaud coutancier, licensed CC BY-NC 3.0

door_slam” by primeval_polypod, licensed CC BY-NC 3.0

Poison Spell Magic,” by qubodup, licensed CC BY 3.0


computer voice:






Campaign video for Number 2

It’s been quite awhile ago, but for week 5 for #prisoner106 one of the assignments was to create a campaign video because we seemed to be missing a Number 2 and we might need to hold an election.

I’m treating this very belated video as a kind of final project, since for it I made:

… all of which were created specifically for this video. Yes, it took me a long time to finally finish the video, but I decided I wanted to follow through on my idea for it even if it’s very late!



The Process

  1. I did screen recordings of several clips of The Prisoner (the episodes are all found on the #prisoner106 site) to use in this video (see credits for which episodes0. Since I didn’t need audio I just used screencast-o-matic, which is a free screen recorder (though with the paid version, which is very cheap, you can avoid the watermark with the company logo on it, which I did). I thought I might want audio with one of the clips, and followed instructions here for how to use Quicktime and Soundflower on my Mac to record the screen and system audio. Problem was that I got a horrendous echo. Actually, the effect was kind of cool, but not really what I was going for. Good thing I decided I didn’t need the audio recorded, but when I do I’ll need to figure out how to do it right.

2. I was a bit stymied by how to get my animated gif into the video. I thought maybe I could just import it into iMovie and it would work, but no go. There are a number of workarounds posted on the web, but they were time consuming and didn’t seem to lead to the result I wanted anyway. So I just did a screen recording of the gif against a white background. Since I had made the gif pretty small in order to reduce the file size, it doesn’t show up very large in the video. I could have scaled it up using GIMP, but in my experience, once I try scaling something up from when it was smaller the quality goes way down.

3. The images were imported directly into iMovie and I used the “Ken Burns” effect to give them a little movement. The one with the campaign poster was a little challenging because it was so long vertically, but hopefully the panning down works okay. Images I didn’t make myself (the question marks and the number 2) were CC0 from Pixabay.

4. I recorded the voiceover audio in Audacity, where it’s much easier to edit than in iMovie, and then imported it. I wasn’t sure how to add the voiceover to the video, but selecting it and dragging it over the video put it in the right place (leaving room for background music below the video). Since the voiceover and the video weren’t synced up well, I had to cut up the imported audio and make space between the parts to sync with the video. I looked online to find out how to do that in iMovie (click on the voiceover, go to “Modify,” then “split clip”).

5. Background music came next (see credits below). I wanted the first part of the video to be a kind of “retrospective” of past Number 2’s, a bit nostalgic and somewhat sad. Then I wanted the second part, where I talk about the Village Philosopher as saving the day, to be rather over the top patriotic or heroic. Kevin MacLeod’s great site, imcompetech.com, has wonderful descriptors to help you find the right thing (the “epic” category was great for finding the second piece of music!).

6. After realizing that I had used many pieces of music from MacLeod, and that I wanted to thank him for providing such great music with a CC BY license, I went to his donate page and donated. I have decided that when I can, I usually prefer to pay for some great service or app or something rather than “paying” in other ways like having lots of data collected about me and used in ways I don’t really understand. Plus, people like him are doing a great thing and I want to say thank you!


Music credits:

“Stages of Grief” by Kevin MacLeod (imcompetech.com) is licensed under CC Attribution 3.0. Direct Link: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100408.


“Hero Down” by Kevin MacLeod (imcompetech.com) is licensed under CC Attribution 3.0. Direct Link: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100880.

Vote philosophy!

The leadership at #prisoner106 has disappeared. Number 2 hasn’t been seen for a couple of weeks. My Super True Friend I am Talky Tina filled in for a week, but now it seems to be a free for all. Participants are still making art, though, because we are #4life.

During one of the recent weeks we were to make a campaign video to run for Number 2’s spot (playing off the “Free for All” episode of The Prisoner). 

I developed an idea for one and started working on it (I made my campaign button), but then . . . I found a way out! I escaped for a week. I’m still not sure how . . . I was out for a swim, flagged down a passing boat, and managed to get away with them. Rover didn’t come after me; maybe the disarray at the top in the Village means Rover is taking a break too.

I’m not sure where we went; I just know there were glaciers! I snapped a couple of pics.



It was a lovely time away, but then they turned on me! I woke up a week later, back in the Village. Someone must still be in charge, somewhere.


When I got back I was even more determined to run for office. We need someone who won’t just follow orders, who will ask questions and demand answers. Who better than a philosopher?


The process

I used the poster design from the “Free for All” episode, adding a couple of new elements such as the button and the tag line at the bottom.

I made this using GIMP.

1. I had the head shot already from the Village information card I made during week 1. I just copied and pasted that layer onto a new image with a white background.

2. I used the Filters menu, chose Distort (I think) and then Noise Generator to add some noise to the image. I wanted it to looks a little like it had been badly photocopied and blown up. I also used the smudge tool on my hair because the edges were too stark.

3. I used the eraser tool with a “smoke” brush to do the effect of the image fading out at the bottom and on the left side (this is what the images on the posters in the episode looked like, approximately). I also did some erasing at the top of the image.

4. I added a layer with the button I made earlier.

5. Then it was just text layers with the Village font and finis.

Number 2 as anvil

In the episode of The Prisoner called “Hammer into Anvil,” Number 2 pretty much loses it by the end. One part that really intrigued me was when he was shown towards the end stroking the penny farthing. I’ve seen some suggestions online about what the penny farthing is all about in the series, and in an interview McGoohan talks about the problems with progress…it seems to maybe have something to do with an ironic statement about the progress we have achieved (not much, really, despite our advances in technology). Maybe we haven’t progressed very far morally, for example.

So with that in mind, I find it very interesting that when Number 2 loses it he ends up stroking this ironic symbol of progress, as if he thinks it’s going to be his saviour. It’s what he believes in; it comforts him.

It’s also just a creepy sequence, as I tried to capture in this gif.


the process

I made this in GIMP.

1. I used screencast-o-matic to do a screen capture of this part of the episode while it was playing on my computer.

2. I opened it in MPEG streamclip to capture just the frames I wanted, and then used “export other formats” and “as image sequence.” I exported to jpg with 8 frames per sec I think.

3. In GIMP, I had 32 layers, and I had to repeat some of them to get him to close his eyes again after he opens them. I just reversed those layers. So by the time I was done I had many, many layers, and I wanted to reduce the file size.

4. I cut out some of the layers, every other one, for part of the sequence. When I did it for all of it then parts were too choppy.

5. I resized the image to be 400px wide.

6. I tried changing the colour mode to “indexed” before saving, but that made the finished gif even bigger than it was before. Even when I set the max colours on indexed to 100!


So it’s 1.5 MB as is, which isn’t too bad.


And just for fun…

I created two more out of this sequence.

Eyes closed:




Now, just the eyes opening and closing:




Village Philosopher Badge

This week in #prisoner106 we are to make a campaign video for running for office (the position of Number 2 seems to be unoccupied right now).

In preparation for campaigning I created a special badge for the Village Philosopher–that’s me! I need a special way to identify myself so you know whom to vote for.

I am not a number, I am a … Greek letter.


The process

I made this in GIMP.

1. Images used, each on separate layer:

2. Scale and order layers so the phi is on top of the penny farthing. I had it under the penny farthing for awhile and was scratching my head trying to figure out how to get the Phi image to not be transparent because the wheel spokes were showing through. Oh my gosh…unbelievable…complete brain freeze not realizing it was just a matter of layer order. Yikes.

3. Add a white background layer under both image layers. Add alpha channel to that layer. Use the ellipse select tool to select a circle on the white background layer, then go to Select->invert to select everything but the circle.

4. Go to Edit -> clear to get rid of the white stuff outside the selected circle on the white layer.

5. Add bevel. Use ellipse select tool to select around the white circle on the background layer (the following will only work if something is selected, I think).

  • Use filters -> decor -> add bevel
  • I used the max size for the bevel, 30px




1. When I uploaded to Flickr it had a red background:
The Village Philosopher

This was very puzzling, until I learned that when an image has a transparent background, not all file types will preserve that. png does (what I saved it as), but jpeg doesn’t. Not sure what happens on Flickr, but it doesn’t show the original image in the view window. The red disappears if you go to the Flickr page and download “original.”

2. I couldn’t get the bevel to look as nice as the one on the badge on the right side of this site. There is a way to make a bevel manually, but it’s more complicated. This auto-bevel script has little in the way of customizing choices. I think there might be another GIMP script that has more.

3. I don’t know why the bevel only shows up on the right and bottom sides. Must be something built into the script?



I tried playing with the “light and shadow” filter on GIMP, and got this one. Still not sure what to do to make the top left look like it’s standing out a bit from the background.