Race to the Mansion for a Bowl of Sugar

Today’s Daily Create had us pick three cards, each with a word, and write a story based on the words. This is a great writing prompt, largely because it is random enough to stimulate one’s thinking into unexpected areas. Here is my story.

Race Map, ID, and Sugar

Race Map, ID, and Sugar

Race to the Mansion for a Bowl of Sugar
another episode of The Prisoner

One day Number 6 woke to the sounds of whistles and cheers. No, he wasn’t under arrest (again). It was Race Day in The Village!

Casually, Number 6 walked to the Park where he noticed several Residents in sporting attire lined up at a start line. Nonchalantly, he asked Number 72 where they were racing to. 72 said, “Oh, it’s a marathon! They are racing from here to there and back again. It will be quite wonderful. And such splendid weather!”

Not getting the answer he was looking for, Number 6 wandered until he found the Tally Ho news stand, bought a copy, and saw the headline: RACE TO TWO’S MANSION. The story stated that the goal of the race was to run to Number 2’s Residence, enter, find a bowl of sugar, and return to the start. Points were awarded for running time, bowl-searching time, the number of sugar cubes gathered in the bowl, and the number of sugar cubes still in the bowl at the finish.

Always plotting an escape, Number 6 instantly donned sporting gear, and stood in line with the other contestants. Being in top physical condition, he easily made it to Number 2’s mansion first. In the kitchen were just as many bowls as there were contestants, each identical but for the number painted on the side. Quickly, he found the bowl labeled “6”, reached into the bag of sugar cubes, and filled the bowl. Since he hadn’t had breakfast, he popped several sugar cubes into his mouth to replenish his energy.

On the path back to the finish, Number 6 almost immediately started meandering, spinning, gazing at nothing, and otherwise acting erratic. It was as if some drug had entered his system, probably from the sugar cubes, and he was hallucinating. Next thing he knew, he was waking up in the hospital with the trophy for the race. The trophy featured a large sugar cube!

The doctor, standing nearby, noticed that Number 6 was awake, and told him, “Ah, welcome back Number 6! Thank you for all the information you shared when you were wandering around out of your mind. It will be quite useful to Number 2, and of course even more useful when he reports to Number 1.”

Number 6 immediately began to panic, but only showed a bit of sweat on his forehead. “What could I possibly have said that would be of interest? All I could think of and see were marmalade skies, newspaper taxis, and cellophane flowers. I must have been hallucinating, so whatever I said was not based in reality.”

“Ah” said the doctor, “we each make our own reality here in The Village. And your reality is special to us. Our computers will extract the truth from your hallucinations, and soon we will know whose side you are on!”

Number 6 fell back asleep, confident that his reality would never be probed by this doctor. He knew the computer was programmed badly and would likely self-destruct when his hallucinations were input. And, he had won the race!

In writing this, I tried to keep in mind the times (1960s) and the themes of The Prisoner. Number 6 is often drugged. The other authorities are always trying to get information from Number 6. He is likely to participate in Village functions, but has his ultimate escape motive in mind always. The sugar cube, of course, was used in that decade as a dispenser of LSD, so we also have reference (in his hallucinations) to The Beatle’s song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

Overall, I had fun writing this little story. I did proofread, and made a few grammar edits. Most interestingly, I found that I had subconsciously used the number “2” to identify Number 6 in several occurrences. Is this a sign? In the next episode will Number 6 be promoted to Number 2? Will he be seeking answers from himself, digging deep into his own psyche? Stay tuned to this channel, the only one that matters.

Be seeing you.

Animated The Prisoner Comic Book Cover

For my first project in Design Week, I chose to animate the comic book cover of Jack Kirby’s draft of The Prisoner. It is a Design Assignment (number 306) and worth an unbelievable four credit units.


My main method was to create duplicate layers, erase the text in the speech bubble, and add text. I also selected the head with the free select tool, flipped it, and anchored it back. I touched up a little bit with the pencil to close gaps created by rotating.

If I were to do it over (and I might), I would just have a background layer, with the speech cloud blank, and a right-facing head. Then I could use smaller layers for the wording and the flipped head. This would save file size.

Also, if this were to be a draft of a real cover, color would need to be added.

Week three wrap-up

Tally Ho

This has been visual week. Most of us have visual capabilities; that is, we see with our eyes, we are not blind, we have vision. There are those who lack this capability, so we must not forget that visual is just one aspect of digital storytelling. I am glad we learned and continue to experiment with audio, and will combine with video.

The interested reader can find the posts I made during the week. Since beginning my #4life with ds106 in the spring of 2013, I have learned some of the technical details of making animated GIFs. What I have learned now is a matter of style that I like; namely, to make the loop as seamless as possible. GIFs that abruptly end and replay are fine. GIFs that play then stop are fine. But I’m liking the never-ending action. The repetition can be made to appear natural, or it can be mere repetition. For the observer, the repetition can bring out additional shades of meaning to the story the GIF is telling. Every repetition is different because the observer is different with every repetition. During this week, GIFs were important to all of us. Those who made GIFs out of the hyperbolic tiling generator had really fine results. I did not pursue the GIFs of this due to time constraints.

I watched four episodes of The Prisoner. In addition to those on the archives, I found episode 14 “Living in Harmony” to be very interesting (especially considering its history of initially being banned in the USA). For being trapped in The Village, Number 6 manages to leave often enough, in physical reality or in his mental reality.

I completed four Daily Creates this week, all photographic in nature. And, since I am playing along in the We’re Here! group on Flickr, I made one of them (with the missing rabbit) to fit their assignment also. I enjoy mixing up the two realms of my photographic efforts. I have invited them to add photos to my prisoner106 group on Flickr Friday, so keep your eyes open and make some friendly comments when you see something interesting.

I think I’ve earned over eleven credit units this week. It would be more but I did not include some of the creations into assignments in the assignment bank. Plus, there aren’t points assigned to the Daily Creates. I am wondering about some Village residents on the tax rolls who don’t seem to be participating. Has their electricity been cut off? Are they trapped in their bungalows? Or have they escaped?

By the way, being trapped in your bungalow is a very real possibility. The other day, when I wanted to go on a photo safari, my automatic door wouldn’t open (you know how it opens too many times, letting people in without warning or invitation?) and I was stuck inside. I saw this happen to Number 6 once, and he managed to exit through his window, but I’m not so spry anymore. This is why my photo safari was of pictures taken from the television instead of really outside with my own Canon Dial 35 camera (available in The Village Store).

Coming up: design and then video and then making a radio show and then a multimedia project. I bet I slow down with the video and then not do the radio show and then maybe have a project. Maybe I’ll do my own radio show. I warn of my history of petering out (wait, what’s Peter got to do with this?). Plus, more importantly, I have a real-life business trip to attend to and also a real-life family wedding-event to attend to. These events will take up a bit of time and energy, as well as detract from time in The Village. I’ll do what I can, but remember: #4Life!

Surreal Closing Credits Image

If you watch the episodes of The Prisoner to the end, you will see very surreal scene. The penny farthing bicycle is standing in a desert with classical columns and statues with an ethereal atmosphere. What better canvas to merge in the skyful of men in bowlers from Magritte’s Golconda?

Prisoner of Golconde

Prisoner of Golconda

Process using GIMP: I captured the scene from the episode by stopping the playback and clipping with the snipping tool. The Magritte image was opened as a layer, but had to crop to just the sky portion to eliminate buildings and other parts. I selected the sky by color and deleted to transparent. Once placed over the background, this layer still needed some careful erasing where the men were in front of objects. Once satisfied, merge visible layers and export. I had to go back and touch up a bit with the clone tool, but otherwise I like the result.

This is a second go at Visual Assignment 17, and is worth three credit units.

I think we’re all prisoners on this bus.

Hyperbolic Tiling of the Prisoner for The Daily Create

Today’s Daily Create tdc1285 asks us to create a hyperbolic tiling of an image, using the website Make Hyperbolic Tilings of Images.

I chose to use a prisoner106 theme. I took my previous Mao Number 6 image, and selected just one facial image of Number 6. I used this as the “seed” for the hyperbolic tiling generator.

First Tiling

First Tiling

But I couldn’t resist further iterations.

Second Tiling

Second Tiling

Third Tiling

Third Tiling

Fourth Tiling

Fourth Tiling

This may bear further study, especially for the mathematically inclined. Reminds me of the Sierpinski triangle, a little bit.

Keep on Experimenting!

Prisoner106 Photo Safari



Week Three (Visual) includes a requirement for a photo safari:

Complete a Photo Safari
Take a series of pictures this week and attempt to capture at least five of the following themes (tag:prisonersafari):
Bonus points (no not really) if you can evoke these concepts within photos that have an everyday “village” setting or somehow make reference to The Prisoner or The Prisoner’s various dilemmas.

Due to technical difficulties, I am unable to leave my cell residence today, so I looked through some photo albums instead. In the one documenting a winter trip to Copenhagen and Brussels (trying to settle interpretation and economics issues) I found several Kodachromes that might be useful. Rather than waste valuable Village bandwidth on this blog, I merely provide the LINK.

Have fun viewing!

Visual Assignment Adapt an Artist’s Work

Visual Assignment 17 asks us to “Adapt a famous artist’s work to change or reinforce its possible message.” There are a lot of artists out there, but Warhol is always fun to work with. (There is another assignment to “Warhol something”, but I did that in the past, plus it’s only one point). I have chosen to work with his portraits of Mao, but to add Number 6 into the mix.

Mao Number 6

Mao Number 6

The method was relatively trivial. Using GIMP, I opened as layers the pair of photos I wanted to merge. After resizing Number 6’s image to fit the face to Mao, I added transparency to the layer and I then erased everything not of the head. Some Mao imagery remained visible, so I had to use the clone tool to better hide those. Merge down so it is one picture. Repeat for the other three pair. Then take the four, adjust sizes and locations, crop to image, and export as jpg. Oh, and add some posterization to the faces.

Within the Prisoner universe, these images speak to the question of identity. We don’t know Number 6’s name (but I think I heard him called “Gary” in episode 3, “A. B. and C.), but I bet it isn’t Mao. While Number 6 strives for individual identity and freedom from constraint, Mao worked for collective identity and suppressed individual freedom. In Warhol’s art, particularly his portraits and multiples, individual identity is stressed and distorted, yet replicated into multiple new identities.

Three Credit Units!
Be Seeing You