A place to indulge an affliction

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Final Project Summary

For the past seven weeks, I’ve struggled with a topic to storify for my final project. My ideas have ranged from randomly simple (Gorillapod) to bewildering (DMV) to complex (Medicaid). Still, when I’ve tried to flush each of these out, nothing was sticking. During weeks 6 and 7, a topic idea started to germinate. I don’t know what triggered it (perhaps a story on NPR? Or, an episode of The Amazing Race?), but the phrase “melting pot” kept popping in my head. As a first-generation immigrant to the U.S., I have not been comfortable with the phrase to describe an end goal for the immigration story. I understand the importance of integrating and assimilating, but I feel it is a disservice to everyone if each of us lost our identity and melted into one indistinguishable blob. I used to prefer the term “salad bowl” over “melting pot,” because each ingredient in a salad retains its own identity, but together they make for a delicious meal. Now I prefer the term “sangria pitcher,” not only because sangria is similar to a salad where each ingredient retains its uniqueness but also because “sangria” is a term derived from “sangre” meaning blood. No matter how different each of us are, we bleed the same. It makes a melting pot of whatever ingredients sound flat, doesn’t it?
So, where am I going with this and what does multiculturalism have to do with my final project? I storified my sangria recipe to serve as a metaphor for how I see multiculturalism. I personified d the strawberry, the main staple ingredient in my recipe, to act as the central character in the story. I named it Strauss Behre. I humanized a strawberry by adding eyes and a nose using bits of a blueberry. I also personified a navel orange and a yellow mango by adding eyes, ears, and a mouth using grapes.

O. Range, Strauss Behre, and Manny Go

O. Range, Strauss Behre, and Manny Go

Strauss Behre

Strauss Behre

Strauss Behre’s story follows him from his farm origins to his last adventure at Assateague Island National Seashore. The story spine of Strauss Behre’s story is as follows:
Once upon a time, there was a berry named Straus Behre. Every day, he lived on a farm, basked in the sunshine, and enjoyed the soil. Until one day, he was picked along with other mature berries. Because of that, he was able to leave the farm, go to a different location, and meet other fruit. Because of that, Strauss became an ingredient in sangria, a portable drink. Because of that, Strauss was taken to a beach camping event. And because of that, Strauss met his demise at the teeth of a wild Assateague pony.

I used Windows Live Movie Maker to create a video of Strauss Behre’s story. I downloaded two videos from YouTube to follow a strawberry’s lifecycle. One video showed the phases a strawberry went through from planting to packing. I split this video to insert a timelapse video of a potted strawberry plan growing. I also created four short videos of me cutting the fruit, marinating it in brandy, and talking about the portability of the libations. However, I only kept the video narration on one of them. I eliminated the audio on the three other videos. I added a newer version of the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” as the soundtrack to the video. I found it appropriate and befitting an adventure/journey story. I found that with Windows Live Movie Maker, I can also split an audio track like I can to a video clip. Below is the screenshot of this work:
WLMM_Sangria Story

I designed the sangria recipe using some of the design elements previously discussed. I used Comic Sans for the font, to convey informality and funb. For the graphic, I used one of the photos I took of the sangria pitcher at a friend’s party. I recolored it using Photoshop, so that only the contents of the pitcher are in color. Below is the screenshot of this effort: Photoshop

I have thoroughly enjoyed myself in this course; the assignments were interesting and challenging, and more importantly, gave me the opportunity to be creative.


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From Soil to Sand: A Sangria Recipe Story

This is the journey of Strauss Behre, from soil to sand:

Strauss Behre

Strauss Behre

Strauss Behre grew up on a farm, surrounded by other berries just like him. In their early years,  after the flower stage, they were all green , but as they matured, they turned red. Strauss enjoyed being out in the sun with other berries. He liked the feel of the soil and the occasional refreshing rain.

One day, when he reached the age of maturity, he was picked. Strauss was very excited; he had yearned to get out of the farm, see other places, meet other fruit, and this was his chance! Everyone in his berry community looked forward to this rite of passage. What Strauss did not expect, however, was that the journey would involve certain discomforts. This included being tossed in a box, the box being stacked, then the box being emptied onto a moving belt, and Strauss being washed along with other berries.  Up to this time, the only washing he got was when it rained! Strauss did not like that at all! It made him quite dizzy and the time in the box made him miss the sunshine.  To add to the indignity, Strauss was picked up and scrutinized, then tossed into another box. He was then packed into a much smaller box, which was stacked along with other boxes in a crate. Luckily for him, there were other berries in the small box with him, so he did not feel alone and the trip was pleasant.  The crates went on a long road trip, but because Strauss ‘s box was neatly stacked with other boxes, Strauss could not see anything throughout the journey.

When he was offloaded from the crate with the other berries, the tiny box he was in was placed on a shelf. From his vantage point, Strauss could see other fruits. Some were in boxes like his; others were free standing on other shelves. He would have wanted to socialize and get to know the other fruits, but they tended to keep to themselves and did not seem very social. Before long, his box was picked up by a female shopper and placed on a rolling card along with another box filled with pineapple slices and blueberries. The shopper also picked up a couple of mangos and a bag of grapes, as well as several glass bottles.  Along with the other fruit and berries, Strauss got a good washing after he was taken out of the box by the shopper. Unlike the washing he received immediately after he was picked, this washing was more thorough and Strauss felt he received more individualized attention.  After the washing, Strauss was laid on a cutting board and cut into three pieces. This did not bother him; instead, being in two other pieces allowed him to see more of his surroundings. He befriended two other fruits, a navel orange and a yellow mango, both of whom were twice as large as Strauss. Because of their size, the mango and the orange were cut in more pieces than Strauss was and to Strauss’s delight, his number of new friends quadrupled in no time.  After she finished cutting all the fruit up, the shopper divided the fruit pieces into a few quart-sized tupperware.  Along with pieces of the mango and orange, Strauss met a few grapes, blueberry and pineapple pieces in his container. Most everyone was friendly and excited for their new adventure. A couple of the blueberries, who were not cut because of their small size, kept to themselves.  As the fruit pieces, including Strauss were settling in, brandy was poured into their Tupperware.  It was unexpected but not unpleasant. Strauss noted that the liquid had a cherry taste to it. He vaguely wondered what a cherry piece might have thought of it, had there been any in the Tupperware.  Strauss and his fruit companions were marinated in the Tupperware  and refrigerated overnight.   The following morning, the Tupperware was transferred to a small cooler and was packed in with several of the bottles purchased by the shopper.  They went on a car ride.  A short time later, they arrived at their destination. Strauss could hear ocean waves and seagulls. When the cooler was offloaded and the Tupperware unpacked on a picnic table, Strauss could see (through a small window created by a blueberry and a pineapple piece) they were at a beach with white sand. There were several people around, busy chatting or setting up their tents.  Strauss had never been at a beach before and this was the first time he’d seen sand! It looked very different from the soil he grew up in.   In the far distance, Strauss could see a couple of ponies. Having grown up on a farm, ponies were nothing new to Strauss, but how come they were at a beach?  Strauss did not have much time to ponder this, as the contents of the Tupperware were emptied into a large pitcher, followed by an entire bottle of white wine and an orange liqueur and finished with cubes of ice.  Along with the other fruit, Strauss was then swirled around. Strauss was now infused not only with the cherry-flavored brandy but also with the dessert wine and the orange liqueur.  The content of the pitcher was poured into small plastic cups; each person holding a full cup seemed very pleased with the drink. Strauss was stuck to the bottom of the pitcher, so he did not get poured out yet. When the liquid in the pitcher became low, someone refilled the pitcher with another bottle of wine and sparkling cider this time, and once again, Strauss was swimming with the other fruit pieces inside the pitcher.  When the pitcher was half-empty, the people decided they would all take a dip in the ocean. They left their snacks as well as the pitcher on the picnic table.  Strauss was just about to settle down with the other fruit inside the half-empty pitcher to enjoy a few minutes of peace when tragedy struck.  Strauss saw a pony approach the picnic table and nose around the snacks abandoned by the campers.  The pony then took notice of the pitcher and sniffed it. Strauss marveled at how large the pony’s nostril seemed through the acrylic wall of the pitcher.  Then, Strauss’s world turned upside down as the pitcher tipped over  and the contents spilled on to the picnic table and down onto the sand.  “Aaah,” thought Strauss, “that’s what sand feels like,” right before he saw the pony’s tongue dart out to grab him. After that, darkness.

Below is my sangria recipe:
Carmel’s Sangria Recipe

As the slideshow below illustrates, sangria ingredients as easily portable:

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Week 6 and 7 Summary

 I’m glad we had two weeks to complete the video assignments, because I need that time (and  more) to not only make sure I had all the necessary tools but that I also knew (or remembered) how to use them.  I did not realize until last week that I never had Windows Live Movie Maker installed in my laptop. Fortunately, it was a quick download from the Microsoft site.

I found the inspiration video, Ken Burns: On Story thought-provoking, particularly, “Truth is, we hope, a byproduct of the best stories, and yet there are many, many different kinds of truths. And emotional truth is something you have to build.”

Until this course, I had not thought much about cinematic techniques. After viewing the various examples of camera angles and techniques, my appreciation for cinematic techniques increased.

Spurred on by Ebert’s How to Read a Movie, I did a comprehensive analysis of a clip from Pearl Harbor (2001). It strikes me that the movie was released a few months before the terrorist events of 9/11/2001. The audio of a foreign-accented male voice talking about sacrificing his life to serve his country  by attacking the United States resonates across generations.  The sentiment expressed was as applicable in 2001 as it was in 1941.  The audio and video in the clip both contributed to effectively telling the story of how America was caught unaware by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

I was initially intimidated by the Chaplin foley assignment, since I could not think of what story to re-imagine the video clip into. As a result, I procrastinated on it. I finally decided on using the Darwin Awards angle, having been inspired by the assignment posted by a former DS106 student.  At first, I was overly concerned about lining up the foley to each segment of the video clip. That took a lot of time. Then the lightbulb came on and I realized that this assignment is for a Digital Storytelling course, not a Sound Editing course.  So, while the foley sounds don’t exactly line up in my assignment, I did come up with a possible, if not anachronistic, explanation for Chaplin’s actions in the clip.

I enjoyed completing the two video assignments because it allowed me to think of new stories. For the first assignment, I picked actors in A Few Good Men (AFGM) who are still active in the entertainment industry to create a “where-are-they-now” story for each of them.   I avoided using the obvious (e.g., Kiefer Sutherland in “24;” Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible,” etc.)  so that their post-AFGM story  was a complete departure from their AFGM role.  I am pleased with the stories I created for these characters. I am less happy with the second assignment, because I imagined it differently than what it turned out to be. Using the video assignment prompt for “Sardonic Tours,” I created a video of a tour of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, from the perspective of an interior decorator working for HGTV. I suppose I could have been more creative in this if I wasn’t under a time crunch. One idea that came to mind is similar to what I did for one of the visual assignments, the historical selfie. I could’ve had one of the Byzantine emperors time travel to the present and marvel at the changes in the Hagia Sophia. Maybe next time…

I’ve enjoyed reading classmates’ blogs. Because most, including me, tend to submit assignments at the end of the week, feedback provided and received also comes later. Feedback provided by classmates are helpful in spotting things I may have missed in the final review process. As you know, when you’ve been looking at something for so long, you tend to miss certain things. It’s always helpful to have someone else’s fresh eyes. The feedback I’ve received from the professor as well as other classmates have been positive and motivating. They are what spurs me on to spend time on each assignment and create a good product.


If the Ayasofya was on HGTV…

Create a video taking us on a tour of somewhere you love or hate, providing commentary that points out the unusual in a tone distinct from most “tourist” videos.

I made a slight modification to the guidelines for the Sardonic Tours video assignment. Instead of narrating the video I made, I inserted captions instead. I must admit that the execution of this assignment was different from how I imagined it to be when I was planning it.  The video clip as well as the still photos included were taken during my 2012 birthday trip to Turkey, during which I visited the Hagia Sophia twice.  I could not tire of taking photographs inside . The 00:38 video clip was my starting point for this assignment and I supplemented it with some of my favorite photos.

Originally, I had thought to do an annoying voiceover of an interior decorator casting a critical eye inside the Hagia Sophia. However, I was in a time crunch and adding captions to the Windows Live Movie Maker project seemed faster. I found instrumental Turkish classical music by conducting a Google search for “Turkish classical music instrumental free download.” I downloaded an MP3 audio file from Stafa Band.  The music video is below:

Completing this assignment has made me realize that I need to review and edit those countless video clips I take during trips. If only I had the time to do it…


Darwin Award Honorable Mention

I repurposed this 02:55 clip from Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 film “The Circus” to create an anachronistic story about a mime who missed the ultimate Darwin Awards top prize. The criterion for the Darwin Awards follows:

“In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”

Darwin Awards Honorable Mentions recognize individuals who survive their misadventures with their reproductive capacity intact.

I used the recommended site to download Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus from YouTube.

One of the challenges of this assignment was finding the appropriate foley for each segment of the clip. My method was to turn down the volume on the Chaplin video clip and then listen on SoundCloud to each of the submitted assignments to see if it married well with the segment.  To find the submitted assignments, I followed the tags listed on the Week 6 & 7 page. However, I found  that some of the SoundCloud submissions were not set to be downloaded. I found the fourth segment, 01:31 – 02:00 to be particularly challenging, as some of the submissions either did not have any sound or were not set to be downloaded.  I also discovered that while I had tagged my WordPress assignment submission, I didn’t apply the correct tag to the SoundCloud file, so that when it came to the fifth segment, I did not see my assignment listed. I immediately applied the correct tag (chaplin-lion-05), so it now shows and can be downloaded.

I saved each downloaded audio file with the segment in the file name (e.g., 0000-0030.mp3)

00:00-00:30 from klasalata

00:31 – 01:00 from mbutlerr

01:01 – 01:30 from dylangott1

01:31 – 02:00 from cbedross1

02:01 – 02:30 from cwyrough

02:31 – 02:55 from Kaitlyn Crotty

I used The Tokens’sThe Lion Sleeps Tonight” as the main soundtrack, which I downloaded from MP3Skull.  Because the entire song was shorter than the video clip, I supplemented it with several  trumpet audio files that I downloaded from FreeSound.  This was a good review exercise for using Audacity and working with the timeline and layers. Below is my Audacity screenshot:


The foley does not match up perfectly with each segment, but given that this is the first time I’ve used this application, I am satisfied with the results.

After finalizing the Audacity project as an mp3 file, I added it to the Windows Live Movie Maker project. I then added captions in select areas of the video clip. Below is a screenshot of the Movie Maker project:

Windows Live Movie Maker  screenshot

Windows Live Movie Maker screenshot

In keeping with the travel theme of this blog, here is a slideshow of my own Darwin Award-worthy lion encounter in southern Africa in 2011:

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You can’t handle the truth…of what happened to these characters!

For one of the video assignments, I thought it would be fun to complete Where are they now?

“Don’t you hate how some movies just leave you hanging!! Do you ever wonder what happens to the characters next? Well this is your chance to let the world know where they are today! Choose a movie and then create some type of video update on the characters current life. Use pictures, video clips, drawings; whatever you want and compile them into a video.”

I chose the end of the courtroom scene of A Few Good Men, although the video clip does not show all of the characters for whom I created a “where-are-they-now?” story.

I used to download the A Few Good Men video clip from YouTube.  Then I searched for photos and videos using Google. I selected the actors that I knew had a diversity of work post-A Few Good Men. This made it easy to make up a “where-are-they-now?” story.  See matrix below:

Actor Character Where are they now? Movie/Video Clip Source
Kevin Bacon CAPT Jack Ross Became an astronaut and flew with Forrest Gump to establish first colony on Saturn Apollo 13
Tom Cruise LT Daniel Kaffee Couldn’t contain his happiness at being exonerated from “..f+++g the wrong Marine” and jumped on Oprah’s couch. Decided to become a rock star Oprah and Rock of Ages
Demi Moore LCDR Joanne Galloway Had an affair with an enlisted sailor and was kicked off the Navy JAG Corps N/A
Jack Nicholson COL Nathan R. Jessup Still in jail and mad for not being able to “piss on [Kaffee’s] dead skull.” The Shining and Batman
Kevin Pollak LT Sam Weinberg Became a professional poker player N/A.
Keifer Sutherland LT Jonathan Kendrick Bitten by a banana rat and became a vampire. Feeds off detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The Lost Boys

Before I went on my first trip to Guantanamo Bay, I kept getting asked whether I had seen A Few Good Men. I had only seen it once before and the first scene that always came to mind is Jack Nicholson yelling, “You can’t handle the truth!” For this assignment, I wanted to pick a different clip, not that one. I’ve seen the movie a few more times and it is inextricably linked to my memories of Guantanamo Bay. Here are a few of my favorite photos:

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