The season opener of The Walking Dead attempted to satisfy millions of viewers’ six month long hunger for a satisfactory resolution to the cliff hanger at the end of last season. It had one job: show us who Negan kills and make us feel something besides utterly duped. This season opener was supposed to be a turning point for the show; it upped the ante on the savagery of man in the Walker universe and could have sent a message to the audience: no one, not even your fan favorites are safe. If vieweres are comfortable sitting through essentially twenty minutes of narrative foreplay, their approach may have been effective. Blood pressures may have slowly risen the more Negan monologued and the more Rick looked weak and distressed, but for the tolerant and the patient, the tension would have all been worth it with the first whack of Lucille against Abraham’s ginger head. Did they go big enough? Abraham may have not quite been a big enough blow to the Ricktator squad, leaving fans somewhat unsatisfied, but it set up an effective red herring and misdirect to the most painful blow of the night, Glenn. Of course then they had to push it too far and muddle both deaths in the confusion of a hypothetical series of blows to the rest of the gang. The writers did not leave viewers with enough space to grieve- and other than the two deaths, nothing really happened.


I just really like that word. And that place. It’s a fun little hipster bubble of intellect and imagination. Anyhow, the staff suggestions, the memoirs, the pages and pages of topics smashed together in new and inventive ways. I think the most common theme I saw was a “dry” or intellectual topic embedded in a series of somewhat narcissistic anecdotes on the part of the authors. That comes off as a criticism; it’s not necessarily- I saw An Unquiet Mind (read it this summer for my book club, loved it) on the shelf and immediately understood why it was there. It was a really effective memoir about the author’s experience with bipolar disorder that was also incredibly informative. The book, Bonk stood out to me as something that seemed to effectively get at what we’re looking to do with this project- its tagline proclaimed it as a nonfiction tale of science and sex. It seemed to marry a clinical subject with a provocative topic in a way that at least drew a reader to the back cover. Patton Oswalt’s new book, Silver Screen Fiend called to the cinephile in me, and I expected it to be a cut and dry discussion of modern films; but the staff pick description made it sound funny and accessible and rooted in Mr. Oswalt’s own stories. That seems to be the big running theme- something universal with something niche. It could be an effective tool for these projects, especially if we’re really interested in exploring something kind of niche or content-specific. It would be very hard to do it well though I think. It would be very easy for that sort of thing to go badly and to root the entire success of the project in the gimmick of smashing two concepts together. The reason it seemed that these were all effective at this technique is that they were really aware of the reader. All the staff pick descriptions applauded how much the staff connected with these books, how relevant these books seemed to their lives. I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind as well. I couldn’t help but notice that all the books that I saw in the sections I looked at were primarily first person and somewhat autobiographical. This seems like another literary tool to connect more to a reader. I am interested to see how we can translate some of this to our capstone projects.

Capstone Brainstorming: “Is this too weird?” “Good.”

I must admit, the enormity of the capstone project fills me with apprehension. I might even go so far as to say that I am scared completely shitless. But in a good, hopeful way. Now comes the formidable task of narrowing down one possible topic for this project from every conceivable possibility in the universe.

On Content: “So it’s like about Artificial Intelligence (AI), through the context of my absolute fear of things that look like humans and also feminism”. That’s my convoluted, half baked elevator pitch. Let me give that some back story. Last year I watched the indie, sci-fi hit film, Ex Machina. I adored it, and it sent my mind into overdrive with questions about real AI, and what it means to be human. It also left me feeling a bit angry; in a way, this movie was entirely about the male gaze, and man creating “the perfect woman”, etc. It got me thinking about the fact that most examples of AI we see in pop culture and in real life are often modeled after women. To my knowledge, there are few films and books about the subject that actually show human women interacting with female AIs. I got so agitated by this subject that I started a sort of fan fiction piece to explore what it would look like if the AI, Ava, from Ex Machina actually got to interact with a human woman. I know, it’s niche. And it’s weird. Okay I’m a complete nerd. But I think this capstone project could give me a really neat opportunity to learn more about AI and to think about what our depictions of AI in pop culture say about our views on humanity and feminism. I’m not entirely sure what sort of form this would take, or how I could do it without turning it into a feminist rant and/or women’s studies research paper. But it’s the type of thing that would thoroughly entertain me for the semester and that I would have no reason to follow through on in any other context.

On Form: All I can think about when it comes to form is some sort of film script. It’s a type of writing I have only dabbled in haphazardly when putting together short films for mental health video competitions. I am not entirely sure what I would “smash it together” with, what any sort of script would be about, or really anything past the form itself. I just know I would absolutely love the space and time to learn proper screenwriting because I’m going to be Wes Anderson or Ava DuVerney someday (no I’m not).

On Interests and Wildcards: Hmm let’s see if I can top the weird and the vague. I guess I’d like to do something really multimodal. I wonder if I could incorporate my artwork into this project in any way. I’ve been studying graffiti a lot over the past few years on my own and this summer I tried to do a bit of my own. I think it would be cool to think of writing in that sense- as a graffiti writer or in the context of that particular movement.

I suppose we’ll see what happens over the course of this semester. To my future December 2016-self: I must sound so innocent and naïve to you- now go get some sleep!

Webmaster Extraordinaire

So I finished my ePortfolio, and I officially know everything there is to know about making a website… In all seriousness, I feel a great sense of accomplishment after hours upon hours of color scheming and reuploading artifacts and playing with all the fun apps that Wix has to offer. I think it is really cool that we get to showcase all of the work we have been doing this semester in these ePortfolios; it feels a lot more meaningful than just receiving grades for our projects and never looking at them again. I think I still want to work on the flow of my blog, it feels like all of the pieces are still really separate, and it doesn’t quite tell the cohesive story that I would like it to. I think my ePortfolio has a running theme that brings it together, but there is still an element that I am looking for to make it showcase who I am as a writer. But I think that will come as I learn more about myself as a writer. It was a long process for sure. I started out with this idea that I wanted my writing to be represented by a tree because of all of the different “branches” or genres of writing I enjoy, but I had to refine that idea to keep in mind that I wanted the ePortfolio to look professional and mature as well. There was a lot of experimenting with general thematic layout, but in the end I’m quite happy with the result. I get to showcase my own photography and still maintain the nature theme I was going for, which adds a personal touch to the website in my eyes. I think all in all, I’m quite pleased with my first real ePortfolio experience. Sad to say this is the last post for the Gateway course, it’s been a great semester!


For your consideration:

So You’re Doing the Minor in Writing…

… well that was a terrible idea. This is going to be the worst semester of your life- kidding, kidding. No, first of all: congratulations, and welcome to the minor! Let me tell you straight off the bat, this semester is not going to be like anything you may have expected coming into this, and it’s going to be absolutely wonderful. You’re going to be surrounded by people who actually enjoy writing; it sounds silly, but it really is a breath of fresh air to work with peers who actually care about editing your work to the best of their abilities and will give you constructive and useful feedback that can inspire you to try new things. Yes, blogging and commenting on other people’s posts is gong to feel a little awkward at first, but it gets to be really helpful, and if you make the effort, it can be a really rewarding experience.

Another big thing to know about the Gateway class: you’re not going to be writing prompted essay after prompted essay for arbitrary grades. This class is about you. This class is about finding out what you want from your writing and experimenting with different ways to share what you want to say. Yeah that didn’t make me feel any better the first time I heard it either- I’m pretty sure my blood pressure spiked a little when I heard we were going to be creating multimedia projects completely on our own,  but it’s going to be okay. Again, this class is about you, and that means, you get to make your projects about the things that are important to you. You are in control, you can do this. As someone eloquently put it in a previous “Advice to Minors” blog post: “YOU DO YOU”.

Strong recommendation: make use of your instructors and your peers. I know everyone goes on and on about the importance of office hours, but in this class, meetings with your professor can be a life saver. The Sweetland office is a magical place where projects suddenly make sense. Peer groups are equally helpful. Coming from someone who was extremely skeptical of the peer group experience, I can tell you that just talking it out with someone who is going through the same thing can make all the difference.

Always keep in mind: NO ONE ELSE KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING EITHER. Everyone’s learning new skills and challenging yourself will only make it more fun. You really can’t fail. Really. If you put in the effort, you will never fall flat on your back.


Here, have some inspirational writing memes:

Comic, guy sitting at computer. Finishes essay at 2:00am and considers it a masterpiece. Rereads essay at 7:00am and cannot understand a word  Dory the blue fish saying "Just keep writing, Just keep writing: Futurama Meme: Not sure if essay makes sense or I'm starting to believe my own bullshit Spongebob holding a piece of paper with the ornate word "The" on it. "After 4 hours of writing an essay"



Bring Me Back My Ink and Parchment! (Kidding)

So we just finished the Remediation Project, WHOO HOO! Who would’ve thought? When we were introduced to this project back in September, I remember wondering how the heck I was going to pull something like this off. I’ve talked about my bewilderment with the new media stuff in a writing class in previous blog posts, so I’ll just fast forward to how I’m feeling about it all post-project. I think working with video a bit this semester has opened a new door in writing for me. I’m still a fan of the traditional “Word Document, on-paper” writing format, but there’s something really cool about actually seeing your words acted out in a video. Writing for a video is much more deliberate than writing just for the sake of writing. You actually have to say what you mean, you can’t just expect a reader to imagine it all. It forces you to be clear and direct about what you are envisioning. But that also means that the viewer sees exactly what you intended them to see. Video gives you a much greater sense of control, which can be daunting, because it means you have a lot more responsibility, but that’s really neat at the same time. Video also changes the way certain lines or scenes are conveyed. The way the actors convey a few lines can make them much funnier than if readers were just to see those lines on a page. It make me wonder if it would be worth it to write much more deliberately and explicitly  in traditional writing- to make the reader to see exactly what you want them to see. Maybe Hemingway had the right idea. I don’t know, but I’ve definitely caught the bug for new media writing since doing this project and it’s made me think more about how I write in general.

It’s All Out There Now

I have to say, this was definitely not what I expected when I filled out the application for the writing minor. Blogs, videos, e-portfolios? I think I was expecting the more archaic essay after essay after essay written with feather quills and ink. I probably wouldn’t have agreed with Clark a few months ago, but now, her points about the age we live in and the versatility that comes with digital writing seem like common sense. It seems silly, but her article really made me think about how big and permanent of a place the internet really is. With the digital age of writing, we have the power to effectively create our identities on the web through our writing. It is so much easier to lay out the exact person we want to be, and to share intimate stories with potentially millions of people. But it’s so easy to forget that what we put out there does actually stay out there forever. Especially with things like blogs, which are usually very informal and reflect the writer’s thoughts and feelings on a particular subject, it’s easy to lose sight of what may or may not be appropriate to post in a class setting.

I also agreed strongly with her points about how online blog posts could facilitate discussion between students. I think it’s much more engaging to be able to have a conversation about a particular reading and get feedback from other students instead of just doing individual assignments. It gives us the chance to learn from our classmates as well and to have our own ideas challenged and reinforced. It gives us the opportunity to voice our own opinions and thoughts about pieces we read instead of regurgitating points we think we should make in order to get a good grade on an essay.

Clark mentioned how she had her students do digital projects about things they were passionate about, similar to our remediation projects, and I think this type of project forces us to expand our ranges as writers to think how to convey our words in different modes and to get a better understanding of what it is that we really want to say with our writing. If we are careful and are mindful of the context of our writing, digital media can help us discover more about our own identities as writers, and I think that is really cool.

While there are issues with using informal modes of writing for professional purposes, I think overall, I would agree with Clark that digital writing creates so many possibilities for us as writers and is a really effective tool in a class setting.

Can Wes Anderson Just Hire Me Now? (Storyboarding)

So I story boarded for the first time the other day for my remediation project video, and I’m pretty sure I can officially call myself a professional TV/movie screenwriting master (or not, yeah definitely not.) I haven’t really done a video for a class project before, and when I came up with this idea, I think I kind of expected to just wing it with a general script or outline of some of things I wanted my video to cover. Actually sitting down to storyboard my ideas for the first time was like the first time I actually learned to plan an essay. It definitely made me panic a bit to realize all of the details I hadn’t considered, but it was really helpful in getting my vision organized in my own head. As a self-proclaimed artist, I’m definitely a little bit embarrassed by the quality of the visual images, but they still helped me set up the scenes more easily in my head, and made me think about the best way to plan camera angles and locations for shooting. I was also forced to go back to models of videos similar to mine to get a better feel of what kinds of shots to set up and how to transition between scenes. It’s been really helpful to have a rough sketch of my ideas to reference for my script, which I can now write with clear ideas and add a lot of detail to. Maybe I should just switch majors to Screenwriting. Somebody hand me my Oscar. Kidding aside, even my rudimentary, pathetic, basic attempt at organizing my ideas has been quite helpful for tackling this project, and I’m looking forward to see it all translate to camera.

Storyboard for Remediation Project, six panels, stick figure drawings in each with captions at the bottom

Tech Challenge: Hitting the Panic Button

You know that moment when you suddenly realize just how much work you’ve gotten yourself into? That moment when your blood pressure spikes a bit and all seems futile- yeah that pretty much sums up any project I take on that involves working with unfamiliar technology. I tried to reacquaint myself with iMovie today, (I say “reacquaint”, but the first time doesn’t even really count because I was just watching someone else make physical edits on the program.). I was able to play around with it, and luckily, it does seem relatively user friendly, even for an analog lover like myself. I think the hardest part of my project will be transitioning between clips, because my video will involve a lot of short clips that will need to flow together quickly. I also feel like I still need to explore iMovie more to get a good grasp on intertwining video and audio. I know I can’t just use the audio straight off the camera to get proper sound quality, so figuring out the best way to record clear audio and sync it up with the video is going to be tough. At this point, I have just been learning by playing with the program a bit, but I have found a few tutorials that have also been helpful including the MSU Tutorial.

I have also been trying to get more comfortable using the movie mode on my DSLR, so I perused YouTube for tutorials on how to get the best footage off of the camera I own. DSLRs are not specifically designed for video, but they produce decent quality footage from what I can tell. I am still debating whether it would be better to use a camera that I am comfortable and familiar with (my own), or whether it would be better to borrow a camera from ISS that would be tailored to video. Both require a bit of a learning curve, so I suppose it’s just a matter of weighing which camera seems easiest for me to use and which will give me the optimal quality for my skill level. Oh technology, what a wonderful world.

Digital Rhetoric: MentalFloss

For my example of digital rhetoric, I am turning to the web-based magazine, Mental Floss. This site provides readers with interesting facts, Buzzfeed-esque articles on historical information, and  up to date news about pop culture (such as the new Marcel the Shell video, hehe). MentalFloss is the perfect example of digital rhetoric because it uses a wide variety of media including video, images, and text articles to inform readers about the world around them in a fun and engaging manner. By using different media, it gets readers interested in information they could potentially get bored by in a standard paper format. The addition of interesting images, GIFs and videos makes history topics a lot more accessible and interesting to get readers engaged in a quick and concise manner. The addition of hyperlinks is especially useful because it allows the main text to be concise and easy to read, but still provides additional background information if readers are really interested by a particular topic. There are also many interesting video demonstrations for certain topics that illustrate many of the points in the articles. The primary reason this website is such a good example of digital rhetoric is that it involves so many other sources on the web and in print to make knowledge entertaining in a way that a textbook couldn’t. Quizzes make the site interactive, getting readers to challenge themselves on basic knowledge about a variety of topics. The topics are not limited and you can read about everything from science to literature, and you can even get “life hack” tips to make your life generally easier. The best part of digital rhetoric is making things that would normally be too esoteric or boring to engage in actually fun and accessible, and I think Mental Floss does a great job of this.