In my previous blog post, I introduced my "One at Marquette" project. That assignment was supposed to be my midterm for Journalism 1550. Clearly plans changed. This is due to the timing of our recent MNNS projects. Because of that, I have stuck with this project for more than three months, which is something I've never done before. To understand this whole process, I'll have to break it down by month. Yes, that's how long this thing lasted.

FEBRUARY 
After a couple weeks of pestering my professor, Herbert Lowe, for the go-ahead with my project, I got approval. After a few attempts to contact Andrew Pauly, president of The Studio 013 Refugees, Marquette's improv troupe, I reached him over email. Pauly agreed to let me photograph practices and an upcoming show, with a one-on-one interview to come afterwards. 

Since the Fugees had a show coming up soon, I was working ahead of most of the class. I didn't anticipate what a problem that would be for me. Our class had not yet delved into photography. I attended the Fugees' practice at Humphrey Hall auditorium a few days after I emailed Pauly. I was equipped with my little digital camera, and thought that would be fine. 

I started snapping pictures and, just as Pauly warned me, the lighting absolutely sucked. I was getting nothing. Best of all, my camera died in the middle of practice. Imagine my panic. I ran out of the room as quietly as I could. Leaning against the other side of the door, I called my roommate and begged her to bring my camera charger.. As I was on the phone, I could hear the Fugees talking inside. One member asked, "Guys, did she just leave?" "I was gonna turn around and scream at her, but then she was gone," another one of the Fugees said. Needless to say, that practice was a failure on my part.

I went back to another practice three days later. I thought I was more prepared. My camera was 48-hours charged. I decided not to be afraid to use flash, like I was last time. I thought everything went great, I assumed that would be my last time at their practice. The next day, my journalism class reviewed my pictures with me. My professor ripped my work apart. I was upset at first, but looking back, in what world would this be an acceptable picture? Who knows what I was thinking. 

Picture
Pauly plays Bill Lacy's father in a scene with Aliza McKamey during one of their practices.
Yes, I had to go back for a third practice. This time, I was determined to make it the last practice I would attend. I checked out a nice quality camera from the Wakerly Technology Training Center. I wasn't afraid to run around the room to get some good pictures. I got some really great ones. Their improv show was that Friday, so I photographed that as well. I was incredibly pleased with how my pictures turned out. Read more to see how my remaining months with this assignment progressed. 

 
 
As we wrap up our "One at Marquette projects," I can’t help but reflect back to the beginning of this journey…a long, long, long time ago. During one of our first classes, we were introduced to this project. We had to find a student on campus and profile him or her with an online package consisting of an audio slideshow and a complementary text story.

We were told by our professor to go outside our comfort zone to find a subject for the piece. I decided to do the opposite – I happily stayed within my comfort zone. I’m interested in reading and writing about entertainment related stories, so that’s exactly what I aimed to do.

As soon as I left that class, my mind awoke from its Christmas break slumber and began to work. I searched for inspiration all over campus. I continued to think while I simultaneously pretended to listen to my roommate talk at lunch. I finally settled on the president of Marquette’s improv troupe – The Studio 013 Refugees, also known as the Fugees.

I was the first one in my class to pitch my idea to my professor, earning myself the reputation of class “Eager Beaver.” I emailed the president of the Fugees, Andrew Pauly, who was a complete stranger at the time. Little did I know that I was embarking on the longest-lasting, most frustrating and most fun project I’ve ever done.

My journey with project is too long and tedious to break down in just one blog post, so the rest will be coming in another post. 

 
 
A few weeks ago, our Journalism professor talked about ways to utilize Twitter to attract more readers to our blogs. Fast forward about a week, to me at about 12:45 A.M. on a Wednesday morning. I had completely forgotten about my weekly journalism blog post, which was a little overdue. We were to write about our experience with our recent MNNS projects

I did not expect to have much to write. Maybe a few paragraphs, coupled with some screen shots to make the blog appear to be longer than it actually was. 

I searched for any internet presence of the Cluster II Play & Grow Lot, which was the subject of the piece I did with my partner Tess Quinlan. My Google results gave me a story on Fox 6 News' website – written by Tess and I. I had no idea that our piece made it onto this website, so I tweeted the information to Tess and our professor. 
The two retweeted my tweet to their followers. 
I finished my blog and scanned it the next morning for a few last minute edits. I listened to my professor's advice, and tweeted it out to my followers.  
The Marquette Journalism Department Twitter account found my story, retweeted it... 

 
 
My biggest endeavor in journalism finally made it into the world yesterday. At about 600 words long and 2 minutes in duration, I was more than proud to announce its arrival into the world. 
My partner, Tess Quinlan, and I got our assignment a few months ago, and I will admit that I was a little nervous for this project. Up until this point, I had never done serious journalism. Sure, I have written a hand full of articles for the school magazine, but I did not ever have to leave the comfort of my campus to do so. 

For this project, we had to go out into the community for our story. Tess and I ventured to Harambee's Cluster II Play & Grow Lot. We were to interview some people associated with the garden and collect audio and pictures to go along with our story. I was a little worried about finding an angle to base our story on, but a fantastic one presented itself in the form of the garden's co-founders – Roberta Lyles (left) and Donna Handel (right). 
Lyles and Handel have been friends for years and have lived together for many of those years. They were sick of the crime in their neighborhood. Instead of sitting around wishing a change, like many would do, Lyles and Handel made something happen. They teamed up with Groundwork Milwaukee to create a space for children to play safely and adult neighbors to socialize. 

There it was. Tess and I had our great angle. Now it was time to create the whole package. 

 
 
Last week in our Journalism 1550 class, we watched a video from Poynter Institute that talked about ways to improve natural sound stories. We are just wrapping up a project with the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (MNNS) in which each of us paired up with another student and went out into the community to profile a MANDI award-nominated project. My partner, Tess Quinlan, summed up my own thoughts eloquently in her own blog post.

As we learned from Darren Durlach, host of the Poynter "webinar" we viewed, Tess and I needed more of a narrator in our piece. We had four different voices telling the story of our assigned project. Certain people we used had stronger quotes than others, so I wish we would have gotten more quotes from the stronger sources instead. Looking back, I believe it would have added so much more to the story. 
But, the reporting part of that project is over, so there is no point in wishing we could have done something better. I decided instead to take the lessons I learned from that project, and apply it to my current journalism project. While we were watching the Poynter video, we were told by our professor to think about our recently wrapped up MNNS project and our current One at Marquette project.

One at Marquette is a project inspired by the New York Times' "One in Eight Million", in which we were to find an interesting character here at Marquette and profile him or her using audio, picture and text. I've already finished the different parts of this project months ago. And although I didn't realize it at the time, my poorly done audio was really very lucky on my part.

After watching this video, I decided to start my entire project over. Although I had a hard time parting with the pictures I took, I had no problem scratching my current audio and text story. This video inspired me. I am doing a piece on the co-president of an improv troupe, so I realized that I need to get into my story the most natural sound that goes along with improv – laughter. So, at his show this past Friday, I recorded some of my subject's jokes and the laughter from the audience that went with it. 

Poynter's examples of natural sound stories were compelling pieces, as well. This made me realize that my current text was not compelling. At all. I have to get deeper in to what my subject's feelings for his improv troupe and comedy as a whole. I was getting so many ideas at the time of watching this video that I had to fight my urge to jot them down and actually pay attention.

This Poynter video may have been too late for my MNNS story, but it came just in time to save my One at Marquette story, and I cannot wait to see how these tips will pay off.
 
 
Long gone are the days of the damsel in distress movie characters. Today's damsels get themselves out of distress. 
Some of the most recent blockbusters have started a positive trend in female movie characters. Movies are now promoting young women who can take care of themselves. They are tough and can handle what life throws them. 

Take Snow White, for example. Last summer, I got on a bit of a Disney kick and decided to go back and watch a lot of my old Disney VHS's. Snow White sort of appalled me. With her slightly Valley Girl way of talking and weak demeanor, I could not even finish the movie. 
The fairest of them all got a makeover this year. Not once, but twice. First, she is portrayed by Lily Collins in "Mirror, Mirror." In this rendition, Snow White takes on the Wicked Queen to rescue her prince. In "Snow White & The Huntsman," the princess is portrayed by Kristen Stewart, who is trained by the Huntsman to fight for her life. Needless to say, Snow White has come a long way since Disney first debuted her. She now kicks some ass. 
The LA Times' article also discusses some other independent women portrayed in the movies. There's Jennifer Lawrence who  plays Katniss Everdeen in the "Hunger Games." She is a 16-year-old hunter is is forced to fight to the death in a cruel, televised game. Lawrence is also famous for her role in "Winter's Bone," where she portrays a young girl who takes care of her siblings and must track down her dead-beat of a father. 

Even Disney is getting in on the trend. The studio, that is famous for stories about delicate princesses who need a man in their lives. This summer, Disney and Pixar are releasing "Brave" – an animated film about a young Scottish princess who won't conform to her kingdom's expectations of women.

Although women are the heroines of these stories, these films can still appeal to both men and women and have either been successful in the box office, or gotten praise, even before they are released. 
 
 
Hello, blogosphere. It's been a while. 

As soon as "The Hunger Games" opened this weekend, I knew it would be the topic of my blog. Although I am a huge fan of the book series and was pleased with the movie adaptation, I really wish people would not take the story so seriously. It even became a topic of discussion in my Media in Society class today. People actually argued whether or not it was a dystopian or adventure novel. One student even claims that Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games knowingly ripped her story off of a Japanese novel. C'mon, really? 

I mean, I understand why everyone is talking about the series. The LA Times wrote that the film's opening is the third biggest in history and biggest ever for a non sequel movie. LAtimes.com goes on to list some other positive repercussions from the release of this film, such as straying away from the annoyingly popular 3D and casting stars of Indie films. 
The movie's release has also brought about some unnecessarily negative commentary on the film's casting. Apparently, some people were offended to see one of the characters portrayed by a young black girl. Some tweeters claimed that it even "ruined" the movie. I honestly cannot fathom how some people were able to muster up this reaction. The actress's skin color made no difference on her character whatsoever. And, more importantly, the character is identified as being black in the novels. Do your homework if you are going to complain about movie adaptations. 

I definitely recommend this movie, but I really wish people could let it be what it is – a movie. 
 
 
Remember that Saturday Night Live sketch with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler on Weekend Update called "Really?! With Seth and Amy?" Well, I think one is needed for the most recent choice in SNL host. 
On March 3, Lindsay Lohan returned to "Saturday Night Live" for her fourth go as host. The Thursday before the show aired, Lohan stopped by "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Fallon asked the question that was on everyone's mind (in a nicer way than I was thinking): Why was Lohan hosting again? Apparently, it was Lohan who approached SNL creator Lorne Michaels about a potential hosting gig. Michaels, whether it was out of a sense of loyalty or pity to then three-time host, agreed. 

The show started off with potential. Lohan's monologue poked fun at her "bad girl" reputation. Because Lohan requested while on his show, Fallon made an appearance on her monologue. I am a huge Jimmy Fallon fan (and I even write this blog while wearing a "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" shirt), his appearance was totally out of place. He even asked Lohan what he should do on the show, and Lohan responded with a non-commital, "Whatever!" So, what we received was an awkward, "You can do it, Lindsay!" from Fallon. I will say that John Hamm's surprise appearance was pretty great. Check out the monologue here.

For the rest of the show, Lohan looked so out of place. She spent the majority of sketches looking at cue cards. For a four-time host and an actress with over a decade of experience, that is pretty sad. Lohan also had a hard time getting lines out in some scenes and looked so very uncomfortable.

LAtimes.com ran an article the following morning that included fans and critics bashing Lohan's hosting job. Apparently, EW.com thinks Lohan's hosting job should be in the running for "Worst Host of the Year." The article also included a great use of reactions from Twitter. One joked that the only reason SNL had Lohan host was to give NBC News fresh footage for the next time she was arrested. Clearly, this did not jumpstart the comeback that Lohan was hoping for. 

 
 
Just like the photography section of the LA Times, I had a hard time finding the multimedia packages within the website. Once I finally found them, I learned that it was a part of the elusive photography section... of course. The few audio slide shows that I found reminded me a lot of the "One at Marquette" projects that my Journalism 1550 class is currently working on. 

The multimedia packages range from the story of a determined boxer, to one about prison hospice. I really enjoyed the editing in these stories, no story was quite the same as the other. One included an on-screen interview with the subject. Another included interview's with the subject's family. The other package I saw made a really cool use of natural sound. 


The stories are full of hope and heartache. A story about a man's neurological disease showed the toll that it took on his family. In another one, viewers learned from an insider what prison hospice was like (and it was almost too much to watch at certain points). The story about the boxer used the sound of a gloved fist colliding with an opponent's body to amp up viewers. 

Once again, I am pleased with what I have found on latimes.com

 
 
On Saturday night, a part of me that I thought was completely dead was awoken. That would be the 14-year-old Green Day fan that I once was. I am even listening to Green Day as I write this post. 

The reason for getting in touch with my inner-Green Day fan is due to the fact that I saw "American Idiot" on Saturday night. "American Idiot" is a rock musical based on the 2004 Green Day album of the same name. The musical recently finished up its Broadway run and is now in the middle of its national tour. I was lucky enough to catch one of the final shows in Chicago while I was home for the weekend. 

The musical follows the story of Johnny and his friends Will and Tunny. The trio is stuck in the fictional suburban town "Jingletown," and they are dying for a way out. Johnny secures money for bus tickets, but Will finds out that his girlfriend Heather is pregnant, so he must stay. Tunny and Johnny go on to the city, where Johnny delves into drugs, finds love with a girl called Whatsername and discovers a dangerous alter-ego of himself called St. Jimmy. Tunny quickly tires of city life and joins the Army. He loses a leg, but falls in love with a girl called the Extraordinary Girl while he is in the hospital. 

After coming home from the musical on Saturday night, I dug up the LA Times' review of the show from 2009. I was drawn into the article from the first few words of the lead:

"Attention, everyone. We have a theatrical bulletin coming in: Music videos have just made an artistic breakthrough. And the form has gone live." 

This lead captured the attitude of the show, and I was awed by the LA Times' ability to do this. The article kept up this, kind of, edgy vocabulary throughout the whole article. Terms like "aesthetically dazzling and socio-politically stark," and "cable pundits were jawing about Saddam Hussein" are words choices that I normally do not see in articles, but I aspire to write this way. 

This article has also helped me to look at Green Day's lyrics in a new way. The album "American Idiot" is really a modern day concept album. "American Idiot" is a tale of rebellion, heartbreak and growing up. The words in the songs are full of emotion and brought to life in a stunning way through the musical. 

If you couldn't tell from my post, I am a huge fan of this musical. Go see it. I don't care that it is traveling across the country. Make like an old rock band groupie and follow the tour. It's worth it, I swear. 
 

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    This blog was created for my Journalism 1550 class at Marquette University. I am a sophomore majoring in journalism and minoring in film.

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