Well, Color Me Gold!

Experimenting with image editing software has always been a pleasure of mine. I  enjoy transforming photos from their original form, such as by cropping and applying filters. Given this hobby, the assignment, “Splash The Color” seemed perfect because I had never tried to add color back to only one object in a picture. The assignment states:

Color splash is a technique to emphasize details- you remove all color from a photo, and then restore original color to a single object, e.g. a green apple on a table. Think of the Girl in the red dress from Schindler’s List.

You can do this in a number of ways with photo editing software or using mobile apps. The answer lies in the Google

This assignment is worth 3 points.

My inexperience with the type of photo editing software that creates color splash led me straight to Google, as per instructions in the prompt. I am more comfortable using applications on my iPhone, so I searched for apps that create color splash. I found “Photo Splash”, which is designed for this purpose exactly. The next step, and probably the most difficult, was choosing an image. My immediate reaction was to take a new photo, but I changed my mind because I wanted to highlight a special and meaningful memory for this assignment. My photos took me down memory lane, as I considered my 19th birthday, Christmas, and many, many basketball games before realizing that one of my high school graduation photos would be perfect. The Honor stole provides a vibrant golden color that will stand out in an otherwise colorless photo. It also represents all of my hard work and late nights studying, which earned me the distinct honor of Salutatorian of Stafford High School’s 2014 graduating class.

The process of actually editing the photo was easier than I expected. When I began a new project on the app and chose the photo, the app automatically made the picture black-and-white. All I had to do was use my finger to put color back into the section that I wished to revert to its original hue. The prominence of the gold in the Honor stole proved to be a great choice, since my cap and gown were blue and white. The only challenging part was making a definitive line around the edges of the stole, so as not to revert the blue of the graduation gown. Trial and error allowed me to gain the precise control necessary to accomplish the task!

This assignment was a lot of fun, because it allowed me to relive the emotion associated with my graduation through a different forum. In fact, I actually like the photo better this way!



Jot It Down With “Jewel”

Post it notes visual assignment

When first coming across the “Post-It Notes & Grocery Lists!”, I knew exactly which character to choose, as I had just created the most sultry Femme Fatale to ever grace the noir scene. Julia “Jewel” James has a busy schedule as a legal secretary, so keeping lists and notes is the only way to keep track of it all. Plus, taking notes is part of her job description. The exact prompt states:

Choose a character or characters that you like, or choose a movie, world, whatever! Then, create Post-It notes in an image editor–multi-colored squares with handwritten-looking-text–that the character or characters in your chosen world would leave for themselves around the house. The Notes can be reminders, inside jokes, to-do-lists, grocery lists…whatever you want, write it down, then share it here! Make sure to let us know which universe/story/character you’re referencing, and include outside material (videos/clips/music, etc.) to help us understand the setting/context!

This assignment is worth 4 points.

In order to successfully answer the prompt completely, I utilized an application on my MacBook, called Stickies, that posts them to my desktop, and then I took a screenshot of them and cropped it. Additionally, I chose the font “Bradley Hand” for a handwritten effect. Since Julia James is a personally fabricated character, I was unable to link to outside material about her. Instead, I linked to several posts that I have written about “Jewel”, so that readers will understand the context surrounding her lifestyle.

“Jewel” represents the classic seductive, young, vibrant single woman in the modern age. She brings sexy back, if you will. It was extremely interesting to delve into her home life by completing this assignment. When deciding on what type of notes to write, I tried to cover all areas by including a quote, grocery list, to-do list, personal reminders, and tasks to complete. The quote was fairly easy to choose, because I focused on her personal motto of combining brains with beauty to make a lethal combination. She lives by this saying in order to motivate herself to become an independent woman who does not need a man to run her life. Her mother always stressed this to her, because she was dependent on Julia’s father for so long until they divorced. The grocery list is comprised of a series of items that include her favorite food (capers), the ingredients of her favorite drink (Ruby Red grapefruits, vodka, and sugar), and other healthy choices that help keep her fit. She also needs to get cat food for her black cat, Shadow (her noir cat, if you will). Maintaining her beauty is a crucial part of her job, considering that is why she was hired, so she reminds herself to workout and always smile. Her signature look of low-cut blouses and a pencil skirt makes her the ultimate Femme Fatale; hence why she buys tight clothes for her meetings. The to-do list may seem typical for a single woman, including such tasks as shopping and paying bills. However, one task that should catch a reader’s eye is cleaning her gun. Many of her coworkers speculate that she carries a gun, and this confirms it, along with her scheduled target practice every week. It adds a sense of darkness to her character. Julia’s individual relationships with her mom and dad vary greatly. She admires her mom for being strong enough, finally, to leave her dad. Therefore, she readily stays in contact with her through phone calls. Her dad, on the other hand, treated her mom like property, so Julia understandably does not have respect for him. Plus, he refused to pay for her to go to Harvard after the divorce, reasoning that she would marry quickly anyway and would not need to go to college. Considering this rocky relationship, it is plausible that she still contemplates emailing her dad back. Two of the personal notes highlight her backstory, by revealing her favorite movie as “Gone Girl” and her favorite book as “The Black Dahlia”. The latter post-it branches off of a previous post in which she recommends this book to her “Jewel” Book Club, based on her favorite quote from it. One of the final important post-its includes a list of clients and their phone numbers. These are women who she learns about, by doing some digging into their cases, at the law firm that she works for. She focuses on cases that deal with domestic issues similar to the ones she experienced as a child with her parents. In relation with this list of clients, she has a note to send a limo for one of their husbands. She plans to take him to dinner “discuss the case”.

Completing this assignment provided insight into “Jewel’s” character, and allowed me to further explore the noir world through a Femme Fatale’s eyes. Once I got started with ideas, I did not want to stop making post-it notes. However, I cannot give too much away about her character, yet, so I had to pause for now.


“Jewel’s” Jewel

The Susan Carter Morgan’s Tell me a story prompt states:

 Everything has a story. So, find an item that you have an extreme emotional attachment to, take a picture of it, and tell the story! Convey all the emotion and feeling, and let us know why the item is important to you!

This assignment is worth 2 points.

The first thing that came to mind when I came upon this assignment was to take a picture of the basketball that I shot my 1,000th career point with as a Stafford High School Indian and write about the emotions surrounding the game, which we lost, and the moment they stopped play to award me the game ball. However, then, I became torn because I was also given a pair of pearl earrings from my granddad when I turned nineteen to remember my grandma, whose name was Pearl. She died suddenly upon returning home after coming to one of my high school basketball games in December of 2013. My senior year was bittersweet because we were extremely close and losing her during a year that I was reaping the benefits of four years of hard work, both athletically and academically, was tough. It was almost unbearable! So, I decided to abandon both of my favorite possession stories and tell the story of Julia James’ black onyx ring, which is listed as such on her character dossier. Another reason I went this route is because I was one point shy of completion for writing assignments dedicated to my noir character! I will be assuming the character of Julia James again!

Kendall's 1000th high school career point ball
Kendall’s 1000th high school      career point ball
Kendall's pearl earrings
Kendall’s pearl earrings

When writing this response, I began by fabricating an emotional attachment, which proved easier than I thought, considering that my grandma owned a black onyx ring, and I was able to look at it while writing as Julia. I decided that the ring, given to Julia by her own mother, would represent beauty but also intelligence, since that is what she preached to Julia. Her parents’ marriage destroyed her mother’s individuality and strength, so Julia had to be different in order to uphold the power that is a Femme Fatale. Her favorite possession worked perfectly to act as a catalyst in finding a perfect combination between beauty and intelligence.

"Jewel's" black onyx ring
“Jewel’s” black onyx ring


“Jewel’s” Jewel

My favorite possession has to be the black onyx ring that my mother, Claire, handed down to me when I graduated high school. It is very valuable to me, not only because it is beautiful and expensive, but also because it belonged to the strongest woman on this planet. My mom had to put up with a lot of what I call abuse. My father didn’t beat her up or anything, but he disregarded her as a person with thoughts and feelings. To him, she was property, to be appreciated for her beauty but little else. This began the first day she got married and continued until she mustered the strength to finally divorce him. She tried her best to deal with it for at least four to six years more, because she knew that with the pre-nuptial agreement that she was forced to sign, she wouldn’t be able to send me to college and law school. She also knew that he would not pay for it if they divorced. However, my mom just could not take it anymore. She sat me down right before I was to accept Harvard to tell me all about it. She also confided in me that it was because of her marriage that she had always instilled in me the value of education and warned me of the dangers associated with being pretty. I wear the ring, which is also my favorite color, every day as a testament to my mom and a reminder that beauty and brains is a deadly combo.


A Quote By Kay

The “Quote Me on That” assignment that Professor Groom submitted to the Assignment Bank is a perfect one to dedicate to my Femme Fatale character, Julia James! It states:

Share a quote (or quotes) from a reading you’ve done and explain what interests you about it.

This assignment is worth 2 points.

As designated by yours truly in her character dossier, Julia’s favorite book is “The Black Dahlia,” by James Ellroy. Doing this assignment allowed me to develop her character further by picking a quote from her favorite book that would be important to her life. I chose one by Kay Lake. In addition, I was able to expand Julia’s literary interests to crime noir stories in general.

The writing process for this particular assignment began with trying to tap into what would inspire Julia James. I figured that if I was responding to this prompt in the traditional way of my own viewpoint, I would search for a quote from my favorite book that motivated me to be a strong woman. That is when I realized that I created Julia’s character under the influence of my own mindset. She longed to be a strong, independent woman, so the quote that is supposed to be her favorite had to encourage this. I went further to create an even more in-depth backstory for Julia, as I made her founder of a book club, in which she recommends her favorite book, “The Black Dahlia”. It was fun to pretend to do this assignment from the viewpoint of the character that I created.


A Quote By Kay

I am Julia James, legal secretary by day, and reading enthusiast by night! My latest recommendation for the “Jewel” Book Club is “The Black Dahlia,” by James Ellroy. The following quote from the novel is what drives me every day:


“Where’s your sketch pad?” I asked.

…”I gave that up,” Kay said, “I wasn’t very good, so I changed my major.”

“To what?”

“To pre-med, then psychology, then English lit, then history.”

“I like a woman who knows what she wants.”

Kay smiled, “So do I, but I don’t know any.”



Kay Lake’s character is a prime example of the type of woman that I do not want to be. My mom always stressed to me the importance of having brains to go along with my beauty. Not only do I agree with her on that point, I also always want to know exactly what I want and stop at nothing to achieve it! This, I believe, gives a woman infinite power in a world where men often try to treat them as inferiors. So, Kay, get a grip! Figure out what you want and go get it!

“The Black Dahlia,” is a neo-noir crime novel based on the true account of the murder of Elizabeth Short. It is a very dark read, but that is what ensnarled me. The characters are deeply affected by the murder in the story. I give it five stars!

Little poem, big message!

This haiku was inspired from a photo that I took after a summer basketball workout at Pratt Park in Fredericksburg, Virginia, my hometown! I love this image because my goal to play college basketball was realized when I made the UMW women’s basketball team! The hard work that I put in during the off-season helped me greatly toward the achievement of this goal. I chose to compose a poem about this image when I came across the “Haiku It Up” assignment choice this week for ds106. The prompt specifically states:

For the writing assignment, take a random Dailyshoot photograph and create a haiku using that image. Let the image inspire you to create a poetic haiku. Don’t know what a haiku is? The most common form for Haiku is three short lines. The first line usually contains five (5) syllables, the second line seven (7) syllables, and the third line contains five (5) syllables. Haiku doesn’t rhyme.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

Anyone with a goal can relate to this haiku, which gives it universal meaning as well, but it’s specifically for my fellow basketball players!

I took some time to focus on the visual appeal of the image first; like how the sun’s bright rays light up the top of the basketball, the beauty of the clear blue summer day, and the goal’s position at the top of the photo. The next step was to choose the best sensory words possible, with the exact number of syllables required, to pull the image and poem together. An action verb like “shooting” pairs well with “goal”, which doubles in meaning as a basketball goal or any other goal a person may be striving toward, to show that work is necessary in the process. In the second line of my haiku, I aimed to expand on the work ethic, so I chose the words “sweat” and “day in, day out” to go with the feeling the photo gives of playing basketball on hot summer days. The final line of the haiku was the easiest to write because the focus of the image is the brightness of the sun’s rays and the adjective “bright” is readily used to describe a person’s possible future. I hope that you are willing to put in the hard work necessary to achieve your goals and a bright future! :)


Haiku it up… to the goal!


Shooting for a goal —

hard work, sweat, day in, day out,

see a bright future.

The Killers of My Time…

The ending of “The Killers,” by Ernest Hemingway, was very anti-climactic! When I read a story titled as such, I expect some killing! This probably sounds extremely violent on my part, but let me explain. Sloppy gangsters who hangout in a diner for a couple of hours, only manage to tie up two innocent men, curse, and make sarcastic insults and then just leave without any more information about their target are boring. What makes it worse is that Nick Adams goes to warn their target, Ole Andreson, and finds him in a hopeless state, expecting to be killed and too depressed to even care. What?! A more appropriate title to Hemingway’s work is, “The Quitters.” In order to make the story jive with its title, I decided to change Nick Adams’ character into an undercover hit-man, who was also hired to kill Ole Andreson, but actually gets the job done. This alternative ending is in response to a writing assignment that states:

Write an alternative ending to a novel, movie, short story, poem, etc. What else can I say but make it damn good! Want some examples? Here are 13 alternative endings for various popualr films: http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/films/alternate-movie-endings-better-than-the-real-ones

In order to effectively change the development of the plot, I re-read the story, while concentrating specifically on Nick’s character. He was the only character given a first and last name by Hemingway, which distinguished him from the other characters, and would work perfectly with the new ending I had in mind. Looking back through the story, I noticed that Nick had been talking to George at the onset and basically observed the actions of Al and Max, while asking only a few questions about their plans. It was pointed out that Nick had never had a towel in his mouth before, which would also work because a hired killer should not have ever had the experience of being a victim of a crime. All of Nick’s previous actions in the story would be indicative of an undercover hit-man trying to locate his target. The fact that George asked Nick to go visit Ole Andreson at the end of the original story would give my new and improved character the information he was after, the target’s address. Perfect!

As far composition of my new ending goes, I aimed to stay true to Hemingway’s writing style and the time period. For example, I continued the use of dialogue with the appropriate language for the times and researched specific weapons that were used by criminals in the 1920’s. In addition, I reiterated the noir elements used by the author, such as darkness, a murder plot, desperation, and the desire to leave town to escape.

Please re-read the original story and when you get to page 231, add my ending after the woman who leads Nick Adams to Ole Andreson’s door says, “It’s somebody to see you, Mr. Andreson.” I think you will still feel the desperation of the times in Ole Andreson, but the evilness of the times will be more apparent when Nick’s true character is revealed.


Alternative Ending:

“It’s somebody to see you, Mr. Andreson,” the woman said…   (p 231)

At that very moment, the woman heard a lot of racket behind the door and Mr. Adams became very tense. He pulled a .38 caliber revolver from under his coat and kicked the door down. The woman screamed and took off down the hall, as Ole Andreson dropped to the floor and begged for mercy.

Mr. Adams yelled, “You better have what you owe! If not, you’re gonna get it, see!”

“I have some. It’s in my shoe. Let that cover me for today, okay?”

It seemed ironic that such a large, muscular man, with obvious scars and distortions on his face from fighting, was acting so helpless. Nick, however, put the gun right to Ole Andreson’s temple, forced him to take off his shoe, hand over the little money he had, and then put a bullet straight through his head.

Mr. Andreson had been doing lots of gambling since his days as a heavyweight prizefighter and owed lots of money to lots of really bad people. Adams had been tracking him for weeks. He had posed as a simple country boy, gone into Henry’s for a bite to eat and was trying to find an inconspicuous way to learn where Ole Andreson was rooming.

After the hired hit was complete, Nick casually concealed the revolver. He walked back up the dark side street under the arc-light and back up the street beside the car-tracks toward Henry’s. As he turned to enter, a police car was going by the lunch-room toward Hirsch’s rooming-house.

George said, “Nick! The police looking for them two gangsters, I suppose! Did you get to tell Ole Andreson what it was about?”

“Yes, I warned him of the trouble he was in, and he seemed a little shaken, but then he went silent.”

George shook his head from side to side, looked at the clock, and said, “I hope Old Andreson doesn’t come for dinner at six o’clock anymore!”

“I’m sure he won’t, George! Guess he double-crossed someone in Chicago. I’m getting out of this town as fast as possible!”

“Yes,” said George, “That’s a good thing to do.”

I Can Follow a Chili Nachos Recipe Haiku, Can You?

This is “nacho” normal recipe… (get it??)

Super Bowl Sunday is approaching and a thought popped into my head: I don’t know how to make anything. Sure, I have made a sandwich here and there, but I really want to dazzle my family with something brand new. Chili nachos seem like the perfect fit. There are plenty for everyone, and they are a mobile treat for when the fanatics in my family want to take a few to eat in the middle of their “football fits”. I came upon a wonderful recipe that took me back to the old times of eating nachos with my Dad at various sporting events: baseball, basketball, and football. This recipe inspired my chef-like qualities, and I have never been more excited to make food for my family. Hopefully, everyone will be impressed with my newly acquired skills!

My interest in making Chili Nachos was piqued further while browsing the writing assignments in the Assignment Bank. One caught my eye immediately, as it actually applies to my current life. I was already testing the waters with my creativity in the culinary world, why not expand that creativity into my ds106 world? The recipe I found was, no offense to its creator, rather boring! Rewriting it in the form of a Haiku seems like fun. The prompt specifically reads:

Write an entire recipe only in haiku. Stick to the 5/7/5 syllable pattern as much as possible, but don’t leave out any key instructions!

This assignment is worth 3 points.

I began the process by reading over the recipe a few times. I realized that I could not have picked better reference material because all of the steps were spelled out in short sentences that I could transform in the 5/7/5 syllable pattern that is typical of haikus. Throughout the poem, I focused my attention on using mostly one syllable commands, such as “place”, “set”, and “spread”, in order to save syllables for the rest of the instructions. With that in mind, I set to work structuring my ten stanzas, while looking and sounding ridiculous as I kept track of the syllables by counting on my fingers and enunciating each word aloud.

Being my first Assignment Bank creation, this haiku means a lot because I am already able to see how this class relates to the real world. Incidentally, I was able to intertwine my work with pleasure. There is no doubt in my mind that this haiku will be playing in the back of my head, as I attempt to execute the simple instructions of this recipe on Super Bowl Sunday.

I Can Follow a Chili Nachos Recipe Haiku, Can You?

Place twenty nachos

onto an oven-safe plate.

Set aside for now.

In a small saucepan,

warm up two cups of chili.

Spread one over chips.

Sprinkle one cup of

extra-sharp shredded cheddar

over the chili.

Scoop the last cup of

chili on top of the cheese.

Spread out evenly!

Sprinkle another

cup of the shredded cheddar

onto the chili.

Warm in the oven

set to four hundred degrees,

until the cheese melts!

Remove with a mitt…

oven-safe will prevent you

from burning your hand!

It’s time for toppings!

Add one dollop of sour cream

and guacamole.

One cup of salsa

added all over the top

will make it yummy!

Add jalapeño

if you desire extra heat.

You’re ready to eat!

Below is a visual representation of this recipe (for some extra credit :) )

A picture is worth a thousand haikus!