The emperor’s new clothes

“What is this?” thought the emperor, “I do not see anything at all. That is terrible! Am I stupid? Am I unfit to be emperor? That would indeed be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me.” “Really,” he said, turning to the weavers, “your cloth has our most gracious approval;” and nodding contentedly he looked at the empty loom, for he did not like to say that he saw nothing.

Hans Christian Andersen (1837)

This must be the earliest recorded case of Impostor Syndrome! The emperor does not even trust his own eyes and walks out naked to meet the crowd. The people around him claiming to see the most beautiful suit even as they see him naked. Only a child on seeing him speaks the truth. The crowd turns on him and points at his naked body. The tale ends, in its original format, with the emperor saying ‘I must bear this till the end’. Even if I know I am naked and the crowd knows I am naked, and I know they know I am naked, I must keep up the pretence of being dressed until the end.

I happen to have loved this tale as a kid. Themes in it echo those of The Prisoner in the next village where I am working at the hospital. Who can tell the most convincing lie? How having hierarchical power does not inoculate you from even the prisoner telling a good tale that can destroy you; the importance of what ‘a majority’ chooses to see and how that majority is easily convinced that white is black and black is now white. Questioning everything constantly and believing nothing.

I guess I will be having lots of sessions with the family this week after such disheartening messages about how humans can behave towards each other. I have my memory machine ready to record and also some tapes to show them memories of the great kindness and trust the family has shown to others now and in past generations.


Behind the scenes

Thank you to the lovely Jonah Stern for allowing me to remix his lovely image for this assignment. Thank you to our retired eminence in the other village for his animated gif that gave me just the right frame to transform and adapt to fit inside the coat. Little questions marks a png file put in place with free transform. Village font for the alternative take on the ‘I am not a number!’ the prisoner constantly repeats. Hoping I can add this to the ‘minimalist book cover’ assignment with a twist!




A lyrics poster for a great song

wakedhersoul So I went to the Assignments Bank to do something for this week on design with a celtic flavour. I loved the image of the woman in the myst and used it as background for the poster. Then the fun started. Searching for celtic fonts I came across on called First order and thought it would make a good basis for my lyrics. I picked the bit of the song I wanted. Which song? The trailer of woe, of course. And set to work. Let us just say that I have spent a long while finding out about fonts and working with the idea of the assignment about how lines from a song can,

be illustrated by using only typography. Consider how the font, color, sizes and placement of the typography can reflect or emphasize the meaning of the words.

I have kept it simple so far, but even simple is hard. Colour, size and placement will be left for the future, I focussed on font choice and how it speaks to a specific word. Only images I allowed myself were Noun Project icons as full stops to a sentence. I have been through far too many fonts to mention but one I want to share with the family as we share a Zombie Heritage, walked_her_soul___zombie_fontI had poor Nana Lou walking her soul with the Zombies! I felt that was just too much pastiche so I did not use it but I did find it great that an elaborate Zombie Font exists. I then talked to Nana Lou on the porch and she said ‘My dear, I love your poster but I have a little problem with it. The song says ‘waked’ not ‘walked’. But I can change the lyrics for you… if it is easier’. I had walked the Internet for a font that would show a soul walking but this soul was waking not walking. Dang. The web gophers (are they elves?) got to work and in the nick of time the faux pas was fixed. This time with a subtle use of outer glow to show a soul waking up. Phew. Then another less controversial font, we have the Good bye cruel world font for ‘cruel wrong’, kind of obvious but does the job. Photoshop used with many layers, multiply blending option rocks, colour picker too. I was going to use Affinity Photo but got too impatient to try new tool. What is really lovely about this when you use it with new lyrics rather than ones you already know is that it is like doing a close reading of poetry. You learn the lines and have to embody them to find something to do with just letters…loving this! [update and sometimes you embody the wrong word ’cause you did not pay good enough attention when you first read it!] drM

The Burgeron Bard Arrives

The children at the Bovine County Fairy Tale festival have been wonderfully entertained with Nanalou and other #Burgeron106 community sharing stories over at Dr. M’s treehouse.  For those at the festival looking for more adult fare I’ve been in charge of programming and advertising the talent line-up over at “The Porch”. This week, in support of our Celtic Fairy Tale theme from the summer long Around The World Workshops, the world renowned bard of Celtic literature and history, JJ MacGif is joining us.

“In ancient times the Bards were the keepers of tradition, of the memory of the tribe – they were the custodians of the sacredness of the Word.”  Learn more…

He had plans to visit the family last summer for our family reunion, but was unable to make it due to finishing his intense training as a master storyteller. We especially appreciate him taking time away this year from his newly appointed government position as the Minister for Education & Culture and his post as Poet Laureate.


Want to hear a preview of this great olam’s work? Click on the PR poster above or use your mobile device to scan and read the QR code. (QRCode App available for download at: There you’ll find his rendition of “The Fairy Oak of Corriewater” from the Scottish folktale “Elphin Irving”.

You might find this summary and analysis interesting as background on the poem.

On a dark night the sound of pipes heralds the coming of the faeries, who emerge shining from the green hills. They have come to dance and celebrate beneath a thousand year old oak that the Queen of Faeries had planted. The Queen is also celebrating her capture of a handsome human named Elph Irving, and intends to seal his service for seven years with a kiss. Before the kiss takes place though, the faeries rush to their steeds as a christian soul interupts. The sister of Elph Irving approaches, and takes hold of her brother, calling on God. He is transformed into a variety of beasts, and she continues to hold him. When he is turned into fire, however, she releases him with a scream and faints. The faeries laugh at her failure, and she is consumed in the blaze.


The small bird’s head is under its wing,
The deer sleeps on the grass;
The moon comes out, and the stars shine down,
The dew gleams like the glass:
There is no sound in the world so wide,
Save the sound of the smitten brass,
With the merry cittern and the pipe
Of the fairies as they pass.
But oh! the fire maun burn and burn,
And the hour is gone, and will never return.

The green hill cleaves, and forth, with a bound,
Comes elf and elfin steed;
The moon dives down in a golden cloud,
The stars grow dim with dread;
But a light is running along the earth,
So of heaven’s they have no need:
O’er moor and moss with a shout they pass,
And the word is spur and speed—
But the fire maun burn, and I maun quake,
And the hour is gone that will never come back.

And when they came to Craigyburnwood,
The Queen of the Fairies spoke:
“Come, bind your steeds to the rushes so green,
And dance by the haunted oak:
I found the acorn on Heshbon Hill,
In the nook of a palmer’s poke,
A thousand years since; here it grows!”
And they danced till the greenwood shook:
But oh! the fire, the burning fire,
The longer it burns, it but blazes the higher.

“I have won me a youth,” the Elf Queen said,
“The fairest that earth may see;
This night I have won young Elph Irving
My cupbearer to be.
His service lasts but seven sweet years,
And his wage is a kiss of me.”
And merrily, merrily, laughed the wild elves
Round Corris’s greenwood tree.
But oh! the fire it glows in my brain,
And the hour is gone, and comes not again.

The Queen she has whispered a secret word,
“Come hither my Elphin sweet,
And bring that cup of the charméd wine,
Thy lips and mine to weet.”
But a brown elf shouted a loud, loud shout,
“Come, leap on your coursers fleet,
For here comes the smell of some baptised flesh,
And the sounding of baptised feet.”
But oh! the fire that burns, and maun burn;
For the time that is gone will never return.

On a steed as white as the new-milked milk,
The Elf Queen leaped with a bound,
And young Elphin a steed like December snow
’Neath him at the word he found.
But a maiden came, and her christened arms
She linked her brother around,
And called on God, and the steed with a snort
Sank into the gaping ground.
But the fire maun burn, and I maun quake,
And the time that is gone will no more come back.

And she held her brother, and lo! he grew
A wild bull waked in ire;
And she held her brother, and lo! he changed
To a river roaring higher;
And she held her brother, and he became
A flood of the raging fire;
She shrieked and sank, and the wild elves laughed
Till the mountain rang and mire.
But oh! the fire yet burns in my brain,
And the hour is gone, and comes not again.

“O maiden, why waxed thy faith so faint,
Thy spirit so slack and slaw?
Thy courage kept good till the flame waxed wud,
Then thy might begun to thaw;
Had ye kissed him with thy christened lip,
Ye had wan him frae ’mang us a’.
Now bless the fire, the elfin fire,
That made thee faint and fa’;
Now bless the fire, the elfin fire,
The longer it burns it blazes the higher.”


[NOTE:  I tried to get fancy and use the collapsible “read more” feature to make the post more scanable from here down. To my horror, upon a later preview, all of the supposedly collapsed text had disappeared – leaving only the <!–more–> code. YIKES! Luckily I save often and was able to return to an earlier draft and copy the text I’d lost into the current version. Yet one more reason I want to move our site to a new and fully functional wordpress theme.]

DESIGNING A PR POSTER: DesignAssignments1521 DesignTutorials1521

imageThis week’s trip to the Bank of DS106 Assignments had me researching the design world.  Designing A Promotional Flyer,DesignAssignments1521, caught my attention. I don’t think of myself as a designer, so this was a learning challenge I wanted to take.  The image, fonts, colors, placement of text and other stuff are all important in getting your message across in a clear and inviting way.

Using Photoshop CC 2014 I uploaded my image and began placing the text.I found a couple of celtic related fonts for free and after experimentation decided on UnZialish Regular with the addition of a drop shadow effect. My first attempt at copying and pasting the William Blake quote was awful.  The line spacing was coming over as maybe 4 times more space than I wanted. I tried removing the formatting, but that didn’t help.  Frustrated I went to the web and found out how to fix my line spacing issue. There’s an option called “Leading” that is not readily available in the Options Bar, but hidden in the Character Panel.  Once I found the Character Panel,

which was not easy I can tell you, I was able to play around with both the font size and line spacing until I came up with a look I liked.  I choose the line spacing to be two font sizes larger than font itself.

The placement of the text was simply by feel.  I moved them around until it looked “right” to me.  There were several iterations. Finally, I used the eyedropper tool to pick colors from the poster itself to maintain integrity with the image. Again, I played around, clicking different shades from different locations until I found one that worked.


QRCode_FairyOakSoundCloudThe addition of a QR Code was a flash of brilliance that sort of works by allowing the viewer to use their cell phone camera to access the web for more information. I input the URL that I want the user to follow into the generator.  It generates the QR code image which I then downloaded to my computer. Adding the image to my Photoshop file didn’t work correctly, so I opened it in preview and took a snapshot of the image, which then pasted into a new layer just fine.

This concept works great for a real physical poster that you’d post on a wall- but not so great in the purely digital world unless you are opening the poster on a laptop/desktop computer and have additional access to a mobile device to scan and read the code.  (A work around would be to add a clickable link with the use of an image mapper software like this one from CoffeCup.)


There was one more little glitch. I wasn’t sure on the proper spelling of MacGif. My tweet to @johnjohnston confirmed that I had spelled it incorrectly as “Mac Gif”. It was an easy fix in the Photoshop file. While I was in there I also took the opportunity to adjust the white colored font at the top. The “8pm” text wasn’t as visible as I would like against the white clouds.  I darkened it a bit by using the eyedropper to pick up a hue from his white shirt.

But this tiny change in the original file proved not so easy when I tried to update my announcement of the event/poster in our Google+ community. I thought I’d simply delete the link to the poster image and re-add the new one. Guess what I learned this morning? You can’t do that.