Over my Head and Down the Rabbit Hole We Go

I had a lot of fun this week! The assignments that I did turned out to be very interesting and I enjoyed making them. {see links and photos at the bottom} I am very proud of what I did, even my ‘Artistic Ambitions post (Dum-Dums are my Marlboros)’, which I thought was going to be more like academic writing. I also had fun coming up with titles, something that has stressed me out since third grade. 

The Daily Creates were fun and kind of silly, a very cool way to just do something out of the box. Truth be told, I like some of them more than others, but they are not my children, so I can have favorites. 

^totally not a favorite

Maybe it was the amount of detail that I put into everything this week, but the workload this week felt like a lot. There were so many tiny moving parts and requirements. Doing daily comments and daily creates and three assignments and customization and an artistic ambitions post and this summary just seemed like a lot. This class, though very enjoyable, takes up way more time every day than my other classes. If I hadn’t started doing a good bit of my homework over the weekend, and then pacing out everything else throughout the week, I wouldn’t have made it. Let’s just say stress levels have been high. 

In terms of customizing my blog, I had an interesting time. If you are a returner to a bird’s string of thoughts, you might see that nothing has changed from the first week. This is because early on I played around with everything I could to get my site to look interesting. When I tried to go in this week and maybe personalize it a little more, I ran into a ditch. Turns out there is a very big gap between how I previously changed my website and what I would have to do to change it more. Unfortunately, I do not have the technical know-how to span this gap, nor the technical know-how to even understand what the other side of the gap really looks like. It’s alright though because I like my blog how it is, and there isn’t much I would do to change it. {But if anyone knows how to get the menu that has the previous blogs linked on it to appear on the side of the page, drop a comment. That’s the one thing I’d change if I knew how.} For this bit, I am in way over my head. 

I commented on nine of the other student’s blog posts, and genuinely had a fun time reading them! A lot of the work was so creative and inspiring, I will most likely turn future comments into my own blog posts in response! I could fall down a rabbit hole of the other student’s posts, but unlike Alice, I might not make it back.

Moose, Monster, and Peanut Butter: the connecting link

What Does a Juvenile Sentient Alien Vegetation Like for Dessert?

Totally Normal Room of a Totally Normal Teenage Boy

Now, I saved the best for last. I had a lot of fun with my three assignments, even though I hit some roadblocks, both creative and technological. I found it surprisingly gratifying to write about the process of creating. The stories in each of them are stories I could see myself continuing and adding to at a later date when I have far more free time. {If you see a new YA novel with a character that looks like a rip-off of Baby Groot who goes on an adventure with a college kid, please do not sue me.}

Stay safe and sleep well,


The Deepest Shallow Creations

The daily creates…

If I could do any one of these over again, I would rename the book “Doorstopper”


Moose, Monsters, and Peanut Butter: the connecting link

Video Assignment #1

So I might have gone a little of the beaten path with this assignment, but blame Bob Ross. As things began to move away from the source material, my only thought was “Let’s get a little crazy,” which is something a very smart man said. That really is what this assignment turned out to be. I leaned into the story as it happened and let it unfold as it wanted to.

“We all know those cooking shows where the TV chef is usually making something that sounds delicious, but by the time we get all the ingredients and actually make the thing they made, it’s not as good as we thought it would be? Or how about those times that you have grand plans for a recipe or meal, but it turns south quickly? What if cooking shows were realistic, and showed how not everything goes as planned, or is fantastic as we want it to be? For this assignment, make a cooking show or highlight a recipe that you can make that is not TV chef worthy, but good enough to eat, and if you’re lucky, enjoy.” 

Well, to start this assignment, I was slightly confined by what foods I could make in my dorm room, and also what foods I could make while low on ingredients. Peanut butter apples were kinda my best (and only) option, and perfect because I wanted a snack! I actually ate it while I edited the video. (insert chef’s kiss here, delicious) I first wanted to try and make the snack backward, then play the video forewards so it would look very strange. Sort of like the red room in Twin Peaks where the characters talk backward, but then the video is played backward so it sounds correct.

^The red room

If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is and I could not find a way to make it work with this cooking video. So I thought I would have to settle for normalcy. It wasn’t until after I filmed the footage that I thought about making it look old, like an early film reel. Then, I thought about the first scene of Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. If you haven’t seen it, watch it, there is a moose involved and it is very funny.

Who said introductory credits had to be boring?

So I started channeling that and once I wrote the subtitle for ‘spending the day in the countryside’, I thought “What strange thing could you do with this food in Ye Olden Days?” Then the monsters popped in. It was a risk, I’ll admit. Trying to be funny in video format is not something I excel at, but then I thought of the wise words of the Patron Saint of Ds106: “What the heck, let’s get crazy.” So I got crazy and went with it. It was kind of scary doing something so new, and I almost scrapped it, but I tried to take Bob Ross’s words to heart and just keep going. I guess you can be the judge of how successful it was. I had fun making it, so I am happy. 

^Can we get these to commemorate the class?

I filmed the video on my phone using a state-of-the-art tripod made out of an old Ikea box. Then I used iMovie to edit the video. I wasn’t super happy with the subtitle options that the program had, so I made my own. I found the background image of old-timey subtitles and put it on a google doc.

The blank subtitle card

Then I just put the words on top of it and took a screenshot for every subtitle card. I had to redo them a lot cause I made some formatting and spelling mistakes, but it worked.

A deleted card, I fixed it so that the words were more centered.

I then used the ‘Silent Era’ clip filter on everything. I sped up the video clips because frankly they were kind of slow and it worked with the black-and-white vibe. For the finishing touch, I googled “Upbeat Orchestral Music” and picked something that I thought fit.

I chose Viola Concerto in G Major

Strive to be like the cat above, very cool and also asleep.


What Does Juvenile Sentient Alien Vegetation Like for Dessert?

Visual Assignment #1

Ok, ok, ok, I know it sounds crazy, but Baby Groot was in my room! Look, that’s totally him! (my photo is on the right, reference on the left) And it makes sense right? It’s snowing outside right now so he probably came in to get out of the cold. He ran off after I took the picture, but I’m gonna try to lure him out with some plant food as soon as I can google what juvenile sentient alien vegetation likes for dessert. Maybe Oreos? 

Visual Assignment: It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane

“Have you ever seen that picture that *might* be the loch ness monster, but it’s probably just a floating log? Well, now it’s your turn to perpetuate a myth – the myth of superheroes. Go out and take a picture of something that you know isn’t a superhero, but could be. Is that Superman, or just a bird? Is that Antman, or do you need to do a better job cleaning the kitchen? Who’s to say?”

Just to forward, this whole thing is very very silly. It doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but I like it. I like the idea that a little alien tree found its way into a UMW dorm room and is avoiding the resident who is trying to befriend him with human cookies. I think it’s rather cute. It could be the beginning of a great comedy about two very different people (and tree) becoming best friends getting into all sorts of trouble. Just imagine when the student goes to school and Baby Groot tries to tag along. No one can see him, he’s an alien! If the government found out, he’d get taken away and experimented on! The student must distract the class while Baby Groot dances on the window sill, has to smuggle him into the UC to get food, the possibilities are endless! So I think it’s kind of a funny story. It makes me smile and that’s all I will ask it to do. 

Now, making this little story was rather easy. After finding the assignment, I started daydreaming about what superhero I could do. I thought about trying to catch a photo of Jack Frost because it was snowing outside, but when I started thinking about the plants in my room and what superhero they could be, I had it. Once Baby Groot was a possibility, I was not going back. I used the camera on my phone to take the picture. Believe it or not, it took a minute for me to take an appropriately shaky picture. My first few tries were way too static and clean-looking. This was going to be best if the alleged sighting of Baby Groot was suspect at best. Imperfection really is an art. I couldn’t figure out how to make the two photos appear side by side on the blog page, so I just took a screenshot of them in a google doc and used that. If the wall is too high, dig underneath it.

You know me, chief investor of shovels,


Dum-Dums are my Marlboros. 

I am the kind of artist that doesn’t smoke. I know that might sound strange but for some reason, my mental image of an artist always has a cigarette in the frame. Just a plain nicotine cigarette, probably bought at the closest gas station or drug store, hanging on the lips or fingers of the writer, or painter, or sculpture, or photographer. I suppose for me, writing being my main artistic output, I think of Allan Ginsburg, bent over a typewriter, ashtray at the elbow, not stopping for food or drink, besides alcohol if he can get it, needing only the sustenance that dried leaves in rolled paper can give him with each inhale. And me, I am a pale initiation. Sitting under my lofted bed, head bent to a computer screen, music blasting if only in my own ears, typing words but not with ink. Sometimes, just to complete the picture, a similarly rolled piece of paper might slip between my lips, but it is not hollow and a sphere of hardened sugar rests on the end of it. Dum-dums are my Marlboros. 

^Allan Ginsburg

I am the kind of artist that was raised on five-paragraph essays and scientific diagrams but held steady until they turned into creative writing and abstract impressionists.

I am the kind of artist that doesn’t really think of myself as an artist, but other people catch whiffs of the paint on me, the graphite and ink stains on my fingers all too visible and tend to find me out.

I am the kind of artist, person, who gets bored easily but does not succumb to the state of boredom, inventing imagined anythings and everything to stay mildly intrigued, and usually getting in trouble after the fact.

I am the kind of artist who does not always know how to show their work. I second guess myself, worry about failure, and can only be truly impulsive when there is no danger. And in my mind, there is always danger. 

I want to be the kind of artist who cares less about the reception of the masses, and more about the journey of the work. The kind of artist that, when painting landscapes, can fold in kindness, stories, gentleness, spontaneity, and the best kinds of philosophy. 

^Bob Ross

But for all these intangible things, I give you a simple one. I want to be the kind of artist who is creative. And one of the specific ways I want to grow in this throughout the semester is titles. Titles have long been the thorn in my side, and despite the sometimes interesting ramble of nonsense within my work, giving it one phrase, one word, to describe it has always been difficult. From critical essays to powerpoints to short stories and poetry, having to think of a title freezes my brain like naught else. So how to overcome this inability? Practice! I want to practice coming up with good, interesting, creative titles for my blog posts. I want to be the strange on the ds106 page. Please expect and forgive while I surf the learning curve.

Hang ten, dudes,


Totally Normal Room of a Totally Normal Teenage Boy

Written Assignment #1

There is a page on Wikipedia, called Wikipedia:Random, where you can click the link and get brought to a random page on Wikipedia. For this assignment, go to the link and then click on the words Special:Random. Whatever page you get, somehow incorporate it into a short story involving whatever theme your class has…

Submitted by: Francesca Maisano

The room looked about how you’d expect the room of a teenage boy to look. Grubby carpet on the floor, walls painted a basic neutral tone hardly visible behind the scores of posters taped to it, a bed never made, piles of clothes littered everywhere, mixed in with books and bits of technology and wires, plates of half-eaten food on the desk, cups in places no cup should venture. The stacks of canvases leaned up against the desk might not be so stereotypical, but not strange for an art student. In any case, the room was almost normal, but the thing about this room was that it did not have a door. All the walls were solid, with windows on every side, but no door. 

A hatch in the floor opened inward, the hand pushing it up pulled with it the body of the teenage boy who resided in this room. He climbed the last stairs and sat on his floor, turning to lower the hatch back down, its carpeted top blending in almost imperceptibly. Standing, he put his backpack down on his desk, the old burlap of it bulging with the early morning findings. Mostly filled with cans to refurbish his dwindling stockpile, but also several tubes of paint, scavenged by grateful townies who knew he painted. Before he let himself investigate his newest colors, he crossed the room to stand in front of the record player, kicking a pile of clothes under his bed as he did so. He bent, the movement smoothed by routine, selecting the vinyl from the shelves below the player. The paper album cover of Schizophrenia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined was worn on the sides, the yellow paper showing through. He placed the disk on the turning point and gently placed the needle down. As the general dissonance began before the instruments kicked in, Hastur opened the curtains. 

The sky was gray like always, a hint of the lightest blue at the edges. In another time, the center of the sky might have been white, but here it was tainted with smoky wisps of gray, the remains of a polluted world. There was no sun to see, but light seeped into the landscape anyway. Hastur had come home just in time. Nothing stirred on the deserted landscape, the dusty brown ground harboring few plants but the odd tree or particularly hardy grass. He knew that the outpost-town was just behind his own room, but from this vantage point, nothing living could be seen. He wished it would stay like that, but he knew it would not be so. The vocalist began singing, and like so many of Hastur’s music, he did not know the language they spoke. But the message was clear, in tone and melody and lyric, it was clear. And it matched the desolation of the world very well indeed. 

Keeping the smaller details of the landscape in his mind, he turned his attention to his desk, unpacking the paint. He had been running out of a lot of his normal pallet, and the tones of today’s work would be heavily impacted by whatever colors the townspeople had found. He had long divorced realism, though he sometimes slipped back for certain pieces. Hastur had come to the conclusion that he could only work with what he had, and if he was given a tube of green, he might as well use it despite the pointed lack of it in the actual landscape. The tubes were covered in names he did not know, and he was about to begin swatching when the shadow on the horizon stole his attention. 

Though his heart began to beat a faster rhythm, outpacing the music, he willed it slower, knowing that it would only interfere. Moving quickly, he opened the case under the window, his hands assembling the machine from memory. It clicked into place on the window sill, the barrel pointing outward, a single, black finger, straighted into a warning. The approaching flock paid it no mind. Hastur fitted his eye into the sight, tucking the butt under his arm, taking stock of the Mephistos. 

The mess of leathery wings and scraggly hairs was still difficult to discern even with the added magnification. But as they neared, the individual creatures could be seen. Hastur wished they weren’t. He had seen enough to be familiar with the bulbous faces, bony limbs, and putrefied skin. 

He wanted to look away, but he kept his eye unblinking on the Mephistos, waiting for them to come in range, choosing which one he was gonna get first. It didn’t take long. 

He held his breath and fired in between his heartbeats. The head of the monster exploded and dropped out of sight before Hastur could see much of the gore. He could tell that the other Mephistos were crying out for their fallen companion, their tooth-filled mouths open, but the percussion-heavy music reverberating around in his room drowned them out. He fired again and again, taking aim at whichever beast was in front. Then as they got closer, picking out those about to run into his own abode. He counted in his head, every bullet found its mark. 

Hastur estimated he had killed nearly a third of the pack before they screeched retreat and fled. He did not fire at their retreating forms in the vain hope that one day they would realize that the quicker they turned around, the quicker he stopped shooting. He disassembled his gun, careful to position his fingers around the parts still scorching hot, and sealed the case back up. He turned back to his desk, ready to see exactly which shade was phthalo blue.

When I saw this assignment, I was like, “Yes! A short story assignment with a random prompt, sound like great weird potential, I’m in.” I didn’t have many expectations because, obviously, it was random, lack of expectations is the point, but this was quite out of left field in the best way possible. The page I got was Yoshie Fruchter – Wikipedia. I decided to listen to some of his music and see what kind of story it brought up. I really love creative writing, especially as I find that my inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere, with a huge variety in results, themes, tones, subjects, and yes, quality. I am always down to try something new and see what happens. I suppose you just read the result, and I would encourage you to give it a listen to the album Schizophrenia: Cantorial Recordings Reimagined as well, so you can understand the source material. (the whole album is on Spotify, but I left a short youtube video below) I think it’s very good music, even though it’s not what I would normally listen to. For incorporating the theme, that was a little harder. Our theme is The Joy of Painting by Bob Ross and it took me a little bit to figure out how to get it to fit in with the strange world that the album had summoned. But then I thought of Hastur. What better way than to make the main character a fellow creative mind, and a landscape painter no less! And of course, I had to add in a little easter egg in the form of name-dropping phthalo blue, one of Bob Ross’s own colors.

For help, when the words wouldn’t come, I employed butterscotch lollipops, donated by a person whose picky tongue would not have them.

May the road rise up to meet you,


musings, on ‘goals’

  • by bird

I am not always the best at thinking up goals. Often, I find that once I actually begin an endeavor and spend some time actually doing it, my understanding not only of the task ahead but my understanding of my own abilities, change drastically. So here I will set down some vague goals and take the time later to specify them as the understanding arises. 

I would like to have a better ability to use social media and internet things, as that has not historically been my strong point. I’d like to learn.

I want to tell stories. Whether that be my own story or more fictional happenings, or just befuddling the audience with some nonsensical scenario, I’d like to tell stories.

I’d like to treat this as an opportunity to be more creative in, what are to me, new mediums. Up until this point, my ‘artistic’ activities have largely been off-line and I think the possibilities of the internet is something I don’t understand quite yet but could be a very fun place to play around.

Above all, I strive to not be boring.

Eating a cupcake as a celebration of your being alive is properly good.

Fare-thee-well and, if you wish, go eat a cake of the cup variety.


Sir Bob of Ross, the painter

“We can have any size stone we want in our world”

-Bob Ross

One of the repeated themes in this episode was the idea of ‘our world’ and ‘his world’. Bob Ross is very aware that we are making this world up as we go and that we have the power to do what we want with it. We can add more stones in places he didn’t, he might put in another tree that we might not, and that is the beauty of it. He recognizes that our world, our work, is going to be different than his and that is what makes it so special. 

“Nothing worse than an angry tree”

-Bob Ross

It’s true. There isn’t anything worse. Have you ever seen a crazy tree? No? That’s because if you did, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

“I like to get a little crazy here”

followed later by—

“Let’s get a little crazier”

and then—

“Let’s get crazy, what the heck.”

-Bob Ross

One of the many things I admire about Bob Ross is that whenever an idea pops into his head that he deems as ‘crazy’, or risky or not exactly expected, he never backs down. He doesn’t say ‘let’s get crazy and put a big old rock here, well, actually no, let’s not’. He just goes for it and tries it out. The results are often surprising and fantastic. 

“Maybe right in here lives just a great big old tree.”

-Bob Ross

This is the sort of small detail that nonetheless impacts the overall energy of Bob Ross. Nothing just is. He doesn’t say ‘there is a big tree right here’. It lives. The tree lives, the boulder lives, the river lives, everything is alive and thriving. {can you tell I am a fan?}


Bob Ross leans into his stories. He gives personality to the things he paints with little sayings and comments, but he doesn’t just say one quick phrase and move on. He continues the narratives that he begins and lets them inform his work. I would like that to be how I approach this class, to lean into the stories.

{i very much enjoyed the special appearance from peapod}