A Response to Unit 1: Digital Stories

For me the first unit was about more than learning about digital stories – it was about creating the el170 space. The digital story then gave me a chance to dive in and get my proverbial hands dirty, truly experiencing the multidimensionality of writing. They helped me break through the assumptions I carry about how writing should be, by turning it completely inside out. Actually, it was more than just the digital stories. The whole process of playing writing games, creating-then-using our PUD’s, workshopping, reading and discussing, and of course blogging allowed my brain soak in the creative juices and loosen up. I’ve found it much easier to withhold judgment while writing, and allow the ideas to flow out and take whatever shape they need to. This has allowed me to create pieces that I never could have consciously forced myself to do.

I feel like now I am creating organically and producing spontaneous pieces that grow on their own without my stifling them. Our process has acted as a foundation for me, providing a sturdy base upon which to build. Like a form of self-hypnosis, I end up tricking my mind into disengaging from its traditional vigilance, and averting its ominous gaze. No longer under such pressure, the ideas are able to flourish unhindered. Then, I can feel good for having accomplished something, even if it is only filling a page of my notebook with words that are pure and natural rather than forced and over-processed.

Digital Story v3: My destruction

Digital Story v3
In my hands I see my Dad. I lay sprawled out, , the the living room floor’s soft carpet burns, rough on my elblows. I see how I have it, his love to build, to press together, to feel the order of meshing gears.

Until the gears slip, the joints crack, and the base slips away. My blood sizzles, and with a swipe the neat lines and angles are crumbled, dissolved to sand, and swept away a sudden gust of wind. I shiver, and pick up what is left of my creation. My destruction

To Do Someday…

A quick link posting page, where links can be left for later discussion, creating a newsfeed of sorts… basically what del.icio.us does, but automated. Not sure how the tags would enter into it…

Though this would be more for things like interesting blog posts, and news articles, which I’ve found difficult to have any sort of repository for. So far I’ve been blogging them, but I’m usually on the run and don’t have time to do much of a post. And often there are just too many! A kind of linkroll might work…

So, yeah… basically just wanted to throw that out there…

Digital Story v2

Buzzing with anticipation, I drag my bin of legos into the center of the living room floor. I tip the bin up, unleashing a sea of pieces, little yellow men bobbing with the waves. The empty carpet calling to be covered is barely audible over the plastic rush.

So I build, fashion, fit. Deconstruct, retrofit, reassemble. My face contorted, I press harder, something won’t work. (“SHIT!” The release.)

These are two things I’ve inherited from my Dad: his building, and his short fuse. A spark of irritation sets the wick burning, hiss… BOOM. (“SHIT!” The release.)

Chunks fly, meet the carpet and dissolve into pieces again. I look around bewildered. Who said that? I did? Did I even know what it meant? Shit. But somehow I knew it was wrong, You’re not supposed to. But why not…? Back to my legos… Take a deep breath, try again.

Posting With 3rd Party Clients

So, if you don’t have to deal only with the annoying web interface… using so-called “third-party clients” (made by other software companies other than Six Apart, who make Movable Type) can make blogger a much more pleasant experience. It also allows you to author entries offline, then post them later, as well as a host of other features. (I’ve only tried SharpMT so far, but it works great!)

EDIT: update! I’d now recommend you try MTClient. It’s light and easy to use, and is the only one so far that actually lets you post drafts to the server…
Here are two pages to read for more info…

This link is a list of several clients known to work with Movable Type blogs. I’ll try out a few and then post which one I think is best, probably by tomorrow or maybe this weekend. I’m using SharpMT right now and it’s great, just a little hard to install.

BUT, you must first go here and follow the instructions to create a separate password to use with third-party clients for added security. (Basically, just log into mt, then click your name at the very top right where it says “Welcome ____”. Then, scroll down and enter an “API Password”, you may have to enter a password hint as well (though I think this hint is supposed to be for your regular password, not the API one.)

Then, when you get around to setting up the software, enter “http://mt.middlebury.edu/mt/mt-xmlrpc.cgi” in the application settings where needed. (or if it asks for the cgi-bin directory, only enter “http://mt.middlebury.edu/mt/”)

Review: Beyond Twilight – Section X

Band: Beyond Twilight
Country: Denmark
Album: Section X, released June 15, 2005 in the USA
Label: Nightmare Records
Genre: Sci-Fi themed Progressive Metal

Section X is, to put it bluntly, a masterpiece. With Finn Zierler on Keyboards and as producer and the driving creative force behind the band, they have brushed aside all conventions and created a truly unique piece of dark, brooding progressive metal. With that said, it must be noted that this is a “concept album”, complete with cheesy intro, “Log Entry 2004-Z Nucleic extraction sucessful…” The lyrics themselves are nothing to write home about, pretty much standard “sci-fi” fare, but when combined with the atmosphere and force of Section X’s brilliant songwriting and orchestration, they take on a life of their own. Much like a somewhat flimsy script can be transformed into a truly bone-rattling movie by a skilled director, Section X is transformed into an errily forboding piece of Sci-Fi metal.

The Beyond Twilight sound really must be heard to be understood. They combine unique rhythms, 5/4 waltz you say? with melodic passages and tearing riffs. The vocals come in to provide the emotional glue, and I must say despite any personality quirks, Kelly really delivers on this release. More importantly though, is the band’s versatility as a whole. Able to switch effortlessly from quiet piano passages to mad guitar and keyboard riff-fests that make you feel the terror of imminent mad-scientist-induced destruction.

The production is flawless, the songwriting masterful and original and never boring or repetitive. At times the keyboards sound a bit fake, they would have been better suited to finding a real wooden piano for some of the parts, but this is only a minor problem. This album is worth shelling out the money for, and worth telling your friends about. It has already gone down as one of the best releases of 2005, and has allowed Beyond Twilight to get the metal community’s attention through sheer musical ability, a feat practically unheard of in this age of absolute media saturation and control.

Production: 5/5
Musicianship: 5/5
Lyrics: 3.5/5
Overall: A-

Digital Storyness, Maybe?

Ever since I was little I’ve loved working with my hands — pushing buttons, touching, breaking things, drawing, writing… One of my early memories is of building things with legos. I’d haul out the blue bin full of an endless assortment of pieces: straight, thin, thick, long, clear, curved, 3×6’s, 2×2’s, sheets, wings, jet engines, wheels, half-built motorcars; the ruins of civilizations gone by. Downstairs in the living room, safe from the dogs we still only wished for, out spilled the sea of plastic; little yellow men bobbing with the waves. The empty carpet calling to be covered.

So I built, and fashioned and fit. Deconstructed retrofitted, upgraded, disassembled. Tight fit, fragile joint come on… Almost there, what’s missing? Ah, these two fit together, they need to… so close — come on… no, not now! Ugh… Nothing, fumbling, “SHIT!”. Chunks fly, meet the carpet and dissolve into pieces again. I look around bewildered. Who said that? I did? Did I even know what it meant? Who cares, it felt good! Shit. Shiiiiit. Wait, I shouldn’t be saying this, but I don’t know why… back to my legos… take a deep breath, try again.

Two things I’ve inherited from my Dad: his hands, and his temper. He callls it “having a short fuse”, which isn’t a bad metaphor. The spark sets the wick burning, and after a few short seconds of oxygen to feed the fizz, BOOM. The stick of dynamite has blown itself to bits, self-destructed, taking whoever is nearby right along for the ride. Sure it feels good, it feels great. To be filled with that rage is like controlling your own thunderstorm, except the storm is inside you. The lighting hits you first, and those you love. And the things you hold most dear. Your lego creations. Or your laptop. (Woops).

Worse is the paralyzing rage, it builds and builds, growing out of frustration. Each second of inaction feeds it, but never satiates it. Its favorite snacks include the empty page, the blank screen, or even an extra dry journal article. Poorly written, overly cliché, too obvious, not original enough. All sweet treats to this different beast. Not borne out of trauma, or sudden events, but gradually (it’s all relative, of course). Then BOOM. And the pages flit about the room.


From The Digital Storycenter Cookbook

If I can get more attention for the kind of shoes I
wear or the style of my hair at one-tenth the conscious effort of explaining what the
heck is wrong or right about my life in a way that moves you, why bother being a storyteller? Status and recognition, in our consumer culture, is an off-the-rack item.

Hooray for the boob-tube generation 😀

:-/ …

p.s. Why are the times for all these entries off by 5 hours? setting the timezone to GMT (+5 hours from us) doesn’t seem to make a difference…

Response… and Words

Thanks for your wonderful comments guys/girls. Before I take the time to really respond, I want to say one thing about my last sentence… I realized after how I left a piece of it out.

“Writing to me is usually not about words, or letters, or periods or predicates. It’s about memories that fade, and ideas that float away.”

That is to say, that the challenge in writing, for me, has always been about finding the right moment, or any moment for that matter, to write about. It seems when I finally do pick something and get ready to begin, I am overwhelmed with second thoughts and decide to choose something else… ad infinitum… The choosing of words, and the shaping of sentences has always been the part of writing I found easiest, and enjoyed most… perhaps that is why I tend to like writing about abstract things, and poetry, since those seem to circumvent my problem areas.

Hopefully, though, I’ll be able to work more on confronting my demons as the semester progresses 🙂





  1. rays of light beam, shaft, streak, stream.
  2. a ray of hope glimmer, flicker, spark, hint, suggestion, sign.

(Oxford American Writers Thesaurus, 1st Ed.)

This was shot between two of the movable bookshelves in the new library.
I dunno why, but I found it very striking. I’d love to hear what people think…

T-Max 400 taken during J-Term.
Negative scanned, then touched up in Photoshop

UPDATE: Now also posted to my gallery at DeviantArt