Click, Clack, Crash… the Many Sounds of “Jewel”

The one required audio assignment this week was “Sound Effects Story”, and it had to be completed in relation to our characters. The prompt states:

Tell a story using nothing but sound effects. There can be no verbal communication, only sound effects. Use at least five different sounds hat you find online. The story can be no longer than 90 seconds. Another example (by a UMW student): http://ds106.us/wp-content/audio/audio_story.mp3

This assignment is worth 3.5 points.

I struggled with beginning the thought-process for this assignment because I wasn’t sure which story about “Jewel” would further her character development and give listeners insight into her persona, without giving too much away, too soon. However, after exploring Free Sound and much deliberation, I picked some sound effects that I could combine to tell the story of “Jewel’s” trip to her first client’s home to talk with the woman about her degrading relationship with her husband. The visit does not go as planned.

“Jewel” enters the unlocked home, per the client’s instructions,  and thinks that Mrs. White may have forgotten the meeting, as she is not there to greet her and the house is silent. Suddenly, there is a crash of glass and the spooked “Jewel” runs in her high heels to hide from the apparent conflict in the other room. She tears out a piece of paper and takes notes on what she hears. Anything to help her client’s case is useful to include. The lights suddenly cut out, so “Jewel” clicks on her flashlight and tries to make her way out of the house. She slowly walks towards the door and, around the corner, she spots the husband with his back turned to her. She gasps! Trying to avoid being seen by the man, she takes off to the door and leaves the house. It is important that her client’s husband does not see her, because she has yet to schedule her separate meeting with him. “Jewel” continues running in the rain to her car and speeds away.

I wanted to tell this story because it conveys the essence of “Jewel’s” job away from her job as a legal secretary. She takes on cases to help women get out of degrading relationships, like the one her mother was in with her father. The husbands of these women have no clue about who “Jewel” truly is because she uses her sexuality to manipulate them. This is typical of a Femme Fatale.

Using Audacity for the first time for this assignment, it proved fairly time-consuming to put the sound effects in the order that I wanted them and to cut out parts that need not be included. I had to use the online Audacity manual to research how to use many of the tools. Overall, I am proud of the final product and really enjoyed using only sound effects to tell a story about “Jewel”. I think it adds a sense of eeriness, which is classic noir.

“Jewel’s” Treasures

FullSizeRender-6Julia James is a very mysterious woman, so she does not carry a bag on her person. She likes to leave some things up to the imagination. However, there are essentials that she absolutely needs in her everyday life to keep up appearances and do her “job”. In order to detail these items and add depth to this Femme Fatale, I completed the required “What’s in your bag?” assignment, which states:

Your purse, bag, packpack, murse, whatever, is your constant companion throughout your adult life. What are the essentials in your bag that get you through the day? Take a picture of the items and detail each of them with a description.

This assignment is worth 3 points.

“Jewel”, having not earned enough money to buy one yet, drives a company car in which this bag stays. The matching ID holder contains her company ID and driver’s license. This, along with the single car key on the keychain, rotate between being stored in the bag and on her person because of their small capacity. Julia can easily strap them to her thigh, just like her gun, when walking. Also, inside this bag is an agenda and pen. Crucial to any legal secretary’s work, these items do not seem out of the ordinary. However, upon further investigation, this agenda contains meeting dates with her specific clients and separate meetings with their husbands for her “job” away from the job (More on that later). Although part of her seduction technique is her natural look, every woman knows that “natural” does not come completely natural, hence the beauty products. She constantly carries blush, mascara, lip gloss, a mirror, and a hairbrush to maintain her beauty, as it is crucial to her job (and her character as a Femme Fatale). Julia’s classic look is not complete without her black pencil skirt. Therefore, she carries an extra just in case she gets SOMETHING on her first one. Another item that she carries is a cell phone, which is typical of anyone in the twenty-first century. But, if we examine her call log, we might think a little differently about her, given that most of her calls are made to her clients’ husbands. The flashlight comes in handy for everyday occurrences, such as lighting the way as she walks alone on the cold streets of Chicago at night and to her car when she works late at night when the law office is closed.  The final item that she keeps in her bag is a very, very, very sharp pair of scissors. Scissors can be used for a variety of things, such as trimming her nails and split ends, and cutting tags off of new, tight outfits. And this particular pair’s sharp edge makes it so they can pretty much puncture anything….and I mean anything.

As one can see, these items are all typical of a beautiful, single woman working as a legal secretary. Or are they…?

 

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!

“Jewel” James, A Modern Femme Fatale is Born…

Name: Julia James

Nickname: “Jewel”

Birthdate: March 3, 1989

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

Julia James is completely captivating, as she stands five feet eleven inches tall with ruby-red, shoulder-length wavy locks surrounding her crystal blue, come-hither eyes and perfectly plump lips. “Jewel” is stunning with or without makeup, but usually keeps her look natural with just a little lip gloss, blush, and mascara to accent her fair and flawless complexion. Her measurements are 36-24-36, need I say more. Instead of “Jewel” she could as easily be called “Legs for Days”. Most of her female coworkers wear professional, moderate clothing to work, but not Julia. Heads turn when “Jewel” enters the office in low-cut, sexy blouses tucked into a signature black pencil skirt that hits right above the knee. Natural color, peep-toe pumps complete the look. Ms. James is never without a fresh, french-tip mani-pedi, wears one black onyx ring, and never carries a bag. There is a rumor she straps, but it is not clear where it could fit!

Julia is the only child of a powerful Chicago attorney, Jonathan James, and his “trophy wife”, Claire. From birth, “Jewel” was fed with a  “silver spoon”. She attended one of the best private schools in Chicago from kindergarten through high school. Claire constantly warned Julia of the drawbacks associated with being beautiful and stressed that academics be her priority. The dutiful daughter listened and, as a result, was accepted into Harvard and planned to attend its law school upon graduation, when her life changed drastically. Jonathan and Claire divorced because Claire was tired of being treated as her husband’s property. The pre-nuptial agreement was so iron-clad, though, that Claire received little monetary support and could not afford Harvard, as a result. Jonathan believed that Julia would marry quickly after high school anyway and would have a husband in charge of her life, so he refused to pay for college. He did offer her a position at his law firm as a secretary in the interim because his partner, Mr. Allman, needed, “a pretty face to attract new clients”. Julia accepted the position out of necessity but has made a point to learn a lot about the cases, especially those related to domestic issues.

As a single-by-choice legal secretary with no children, “Jewel” certainly feels free to spend her time knocking back Ruby Red Grapefruit Martinis at the end of a long work day, while snacking on capers and reading her favorite book, “The Black Dahlia”. For such a vibrant and inviting woman, her favorite color is onyx (the color of a ring that her mother gave her) and her favorite movie is the bone chilling, jaw dropping “Gone Girl”. Staying true to her mother’s advice, she lives her life by the motto, “A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, but a beautiful woman with a brain is an absolutely lethal combination”.

Stay tuned for Julia’s future escapades, as the chip on her shoulder left from her parents’ relationship grows too heavy to bear.