Same Old Same Old

Yesterday I talked about the fictional duo in “Once” (although they were a couple at one point and a band in real life!), but today I need to talk about The Civil Wars. This duo is fantastic. I think I was probably introduced to them when they sang with Taylor Swift on “The Hunger Games” soundtrack, and I was hooked. Their harmony is insane and their songs are so dreamy and ethereal (except when they’re screaming hardcore-country-rock-bluegrass blessed madness). Unfortunately, they are currently “separated.” When I heard about that I was so disappointed. Some bands break up and it’s not a huge deal – but these guys are different. This is just my opinion, but I don’t think they sound as good alone as they do together. There’s something that each gives to the other that makes them, them. I’m hopeful they’ll get back together soon and go on tour, because I would love to see them live. But their most recent album, The Civil Wars sort of narrates the dissonance brewing between them in perfect, harmonious, lyrical moments. I really love all the songs on this album. I read an article around the time the album came out from NPR. They did an interview with Joy Williams of The Civil Wars and she said this about the song “Same Old Same Old”: “there’s still magic when we sing; the way that our voices blend…” I think that’s a perfect way to describe the way these two voices sound together: magic.

Once

Can I just write a blog post that is all about my favorite movies? It’d probably be pretty long…and you’d probably get bored of reading it…and I’d probably run out of ways to say “awesome” or “amazing.” But I’m listening to a song from the “Once” soundtrack and thinking about how great this movie is. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s about two people (an unnamed man and woman) who meet on the streets of Dublin and spend a weekend recording music together. It’s about love, life, missed chances, and how music can connect people even in just one moment.

I first watched this movie with my family not that long after it came out, and I watched it again in my Film Studies class in high school. I love movies that talk about music as something universal; so often songs have the ability to connect us to people we’ve never even met – whether it’s the songwriter themselves, or a person halfway across the world who is listening to the same song. I know I’ve read different artists talk about performing in Asia and it’s incredible to them that people who don’t even speak English, can sing along with them at concerts. Even when you don’t understand the language the song is in, the language of the music speaks to us.

This is the song I was listening to. This scene is near the beginning of the movie and it’s pretty incredible what Glen Hansard can do with his voice (and his face).

This song is kind of the theme of the whole movie. This scene in particular is when the two characters first sing together. The first time I saw this, I got goosebumps. (And it won an Oscar!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving!!!!!! The food day of all food days. Today should be pretty fun – the parade, food, family, friends, good times. I’m definitely thankful for everyone in my life. Now you probably thought I would include a video from Snoopy’s Thanksgiving. But I’m not! (It’s not really my favorite Snoopy movie anyways – too much Peppermint Patty) But I am including a video from one of the classic “Friends” Thanksgiving episodes.

This is one of the best Thanksgiving episodes of “Friends.” (But let’s be honest, all the Thanksgiving episodes are fantastic. I particularly like the one with a guest appearance by Brad Pitt)

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I’m not really sure why. I mean, yes, I love all the food, but I don’t think that’s it (I mean, I didn’t even like stuffing until middle school!). Every year when I was younger we would have Thanksgiving at my house (now we alternate with another family member) and I always loved the preparation the day before, especially since my Grandma would come over to help. Thanksgiving is all about togetherness and that is something that is definitely emphasized at our Thanksgiving. It’s that last peaceful moment of fall before the craziness of the holiday season (officially) begins. I hope you’re all with someone you love this Thanksgiving, and I hope you eat just enough turkey and trimmings to fill you up. Happy Thanksgiving!

A Different Perspective

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Today is all about resting up for the big day of eating.

I’ve talked before about how I love traveling and I recently started following Earth Pics on Twitter. I’m not sure who maintains this account, but they post some really cool pictures. Recently I came across this picture:

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This is a picture of the underside of the Eiffel Tower at night. It’s such an incredible photo for so many reasons. I love that it’s an unexpected angle of something really familiar, and I also really like photos that are taken straight up – I think they offer such an interesting perspective. After some Internet searching, I discovered the Flickr account of the woman who took this, CurlGirl1. From her profile, I’ve determined she’s German and that she takes really incredible photos. I encourage you to check out her pictures because they are all truly amazing. She is an extremely talented photographer.

In the mean time, here’s a picture I took in Notre Dame last year. The ceilings in that building are fantastically high and beautiful, and I really wanted to capture the feeling of space above you. (And like I said, I really like pictures taken straight up.)

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Cold

It’s cold. Cold, cold, cold, cold.

Don’t get me wrong – I like winter. Hot chocolate, sweaters, scarves, holidays…but I only really like the cold when it snows. And so far, it has not snowed. Unfortunately, yesterday, it was calling for ice and rain today, which would be bad since I’m driving home for Thanksgiving! But the weather seems to have changed and now it will only rain. We’ll see.

But this is how I felt getting ready to go to class today:

Here’s hoping we get some snow soon – not too much. Just enough to delay my morning classes. We don’t need a repeat of the giant snow storm of 2010. Here’s a little snowy reminder:

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I don’t want that much snow. Just a light dusting to remind us all what the season’s about (I’m paraphrasing from “The Ultimate Christmas Present”). But anyways, wish for snow and stay warm!!

How to Make a GIF on a Mac

We learned in class how to make GIFs – but those computers were Windows computers and I have a Mac. I wanted to learn how to make GIFs without downloading all the crazy programs and files we needed on Windows. I also wanted to know how to make GIFs without having to download videos off of YouTube through weird websites (which I feel very wary about using). I figured there must be a way to do all of this on a Mac with the programs that are already installed on it (and there are a lot of speciality programs on Macs, I think). And I did. And now I’m going to share it with you. These are the programs you will need to make a GIF:

-Gimp (this is a free picture manipulation tool that you download from their website. This is the only thing you will probably need to download!)

-QuickTime

-iMovie

That’s it! So to start, find a video clip that you want to make into a GIF. (It could be on YouTube or anywhere, really). And here are the rest of the steps:

1. Open QuickTime and go to File > New Screen Recording. Queue up your video to the moment you want to make into a GIF and start recording. Once your clip finishes, stop the recording.

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2. This will create a .mov file most likely named “Screen Recording.” Open iMovie. From there go to File > New Project and then File > Import > Movies. Find your movie file (it will most likely be in the Movies folder).

3. Select the portion of the clip (adjusting the size of the yellow box on the video) you want to be your GIF (don’t worry too much about the ends of the clip – you can always edit it once you have it in Gimp)

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4. Copy and paste this section into the project section of iMovie.

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5. Go to Share > Export Using QuickTime Choose where you want to save your file. Make sure you select Export:Movie to Image Sequence (this breaks the clip up into image files of each frame).

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6. Open Gimp. Go to File > Open as Layers. Find where you saved the image files of your clip. Select them all and click open.

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7. At any time, if you want to preview what your GIF will look like, go to Filters > Animation > Playback (Make sure you select 12 fps as this is what your GIF will eventually be exported as)

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8. If you decide you want to shorten your GIF, you can delete layers on the right panel. Select the layers (or frames) you don’t like and click the trash can icon.

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9. You can also resize your GIF by going to Image > Scale Image This will allow you to change the size of the picture.

10. If you would like to crop your images, click on the scalpel tool (hover over each tool if you can’t find it) on the left panel. It will allow you to crop your image with a rectangle tool and it will crop every layer.

11. After you decide you’re finished editing your GIF, go to File > Export

Give your GIF a name followed by .gif

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12. When exporting, make sure to check the “As Animation” box and to change the delay between frames to 80 milliseconds (this is roughly equivalent to the 12 fps I discussed earlier – it’s the best rate for easy viewing).

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13. Your GIF is finished! Now all you need to do is publish it on Tumblr or another Internet site and it’s ready for the world to see!

 

Pride & Prejudice Word Clouds

As you’ve probably gathered from my previous post about my final project, I have finished my Pride & Prejudice project! There’s a tab at the top of the page that will take you right to it. I hope you read over it because I’m really proud of it. Making the word clouds wasn’t that challenging – that was kind of the fun part. I eventually found the Tagxedo website I told you about before and from there it was simply making the letters in Word and uploading them as pictures. Sometimes it was kind of tricky to get the right words to show up – for example, there was a particular chapter where Darcy was the fifth most used word, but it wouldn’t show up in the letter. I eventually discovered this was because the shape constricted the places words could go. I had to fiddle with the emphasis on most used words and reject some lesser used words that got a place so that the more important words like Darcy (which, really, is a VERY important word), would show up. In order to choose the colors I took a very scientific poll (read: I texted two of my friends) and asked which colors they associated with Darcy and Elizabeth. Interestingly, both said blue for Darcy, which was my first choice. One said yellow for Elizabeth (which I kind of agreed with, but it would have been too light), and one said green. I started thinking about green for Elizabeth and it made perfect sense to me – Elizabeth is very in tune with nature and she’s not crazy like her sister Lydia (who I definitely think would be pink) or soft-spoken like her sister Jane (I’m thinking probably purple). It’s interesting to think about what colors we associate with characters.

It kind of reminds me of this disorder called synesthesia that we talked about in one of my Psychology classes. One of the side effects of this is that people will see letters of the alphabet as having color. It’s actually pretty fascinating how the brain sort of rearranges its’ sensory pathways. I know there was book written about this called “A Mango Shaped Space”  that I’ve always wanted to read.

But back to my project: I’m really, really, super, amazingly proud of what I’ve done (the coding alone was sometimes super-challenging), so I hope you’ll check it out!

Final Project

I’ve started work on my final project! Here’s the proposal I wrote up for it:

For my final project, I have decided to make Twitter accounts for the characters in the 1985 movie Clue.  The tentative title for this project is “Character Clues.”  This movie is based on the popular board game and is a murder mystery.  The plot of the film takes place over a period of a few hours one night during a dinner party.  There are fourteen characters in all.  I will create accounts for each character and then proceed to tweet as them in the course of the movie.  This will create the effect of the characters “live-tweeting” during the events of the evening.  I intend to use these accounts to enhance the viewing experience of this movie by giving viewers a closer look at the personalities of the characters.  I will collate the accounts either through a public list on my own Twitter account or through the use of Storify which I will then post on my website.  After the project is over, I will write up an essay that reflects on my experience in creating the accounts.

I started making the accounts tonight…until Twitter discovered me. I’ve made 11 accounts so far, and I still need to make accounts for The Motorist, The Cook, and the Chief. These are more minor characters, but they definitely have significance in the overall plot. I’m pretty excited about this project, as it will give me ample opportunity to watch “Clue,” one of my favorite movies, multiple times. But first, I must finish making all the Twitter accounts! And figure out how to work TweetDeck…anyone know anything about it?

Sunday Afternoon

Happy end of Daylight Saving Time! Hopefully everyone turned their clocks back so that they didn’t miss anything important this morning. I love when Daylight Saving Time ends because it means we get an extra hour of sleep…for a couple of days, until we’re used to it.  Of course, it also means that I am now ready for dinner and it is just past 5:00. Maybe I can hold out for another half hour, but we’ll see.

Anyways, not much going on today. But tonight Once Upon a Time is on and it is the premiere of Ariel, aka the Little Mermaid! When I was a kid, The Little Mermaid was not my favorite Disney princess movie because of this scene:

I mean, he destroys all her stuff!! Every time I watched it, I was so angry at Triton and sad about Ariel.  Anyways, rewatching that scene now, I realize how much the movie is about racial tensions between the merpeople and humans.  I guess I haven’t seen that movie in so long, that I kind of forgot about that aspect. Now I definitely have to rewatch the whole movie. But first, dinner, and then Ariel’s debut on Once Upon a Time! So excited!

Fangirling About Fan Art

A while back I made a post about Words as Art.  That post and the pictures in it were partially my inspiration for a project I’m doing in Digital Studies.  We have to take something (Anything – a book, a video game, etc.) and use some sort of computer tool to interpret that text.  I decided to do something with Pride & Prejudice, not only because it is one of my favorite books, but also because it is one I know really well, and because it is in the public domain.  What I decided to do was make various word clouds from chapters of the book.  I’ve already finished all the word clouds, and I will be making a separate page about the project. So for now, I’ll just give you a glimpse:

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I think it’s turning out really well, and I’m excited to post the final product.

At any rate, I recently came upon another piece of words as art and thought I’d share it.  I mentioned before that I watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and I follow most of the actors from that show on Twitter.  While I’m a huge fan of the LBD, I haven’t quite morphed into the fan who makes fan art.  That isn’t to say I have anything against fan art – in a lot of instances, I think it is the coolest thing.  Myself, I have never really wanted to make fan art, but I really appreciate the effort fans put into making something beautiful and creative.  And in all honesty, what is my Digital Studies project if not fan art of Jane Austen’s classic novel?

Anyways, Ashley Clem, who played Lizzie Bennet, recently retweeted a piece of fan art someone (@FearFlannery) had created and tweeted at her.

(Click on the picture to see the original Tweet)

This picture is inspired by Episode 87: “An Understanding.” I won’t go into the details, but it is truly one of the best instances of acting I have ever seen.  The other inspiration for this picture is the song “No One is Alone” from the musical Into the Woods.

The marriage between these two shows is perfectly exemplified in this picture.  The lyrics from the song make up the tree, and in the foreground is Lizzie comforting her younger sister, Lydia, telling her that she is not alone.  This song and this episode both have the same underlying message; no one is alone.  To see them united so perfectly in this interpretation, really illustrates how fan art can add so much to the reading of any text.