No happy endings? Noir you kidding me?

The question of “what is noir?” cannot be answered in just one concrete, full-proof definition. This is evident strictly from the four readings that I explored this week. Although “The Postman Always Rings Twice”“The Killers”“The Shadow”, and “Debris” all vary in form, setting, plot, and many other elements; there are certain commonalities that begin to emerge as characteristics of noir as a whole.


Some tropes that surface in these readings include overall darkness and night time, murder plots, and name calling, sexism, and prejudice. In the first murder attempt of Nick Papadakis in James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, it is already set at night, but on top of it all, the lights go out in the house, due to a cat stepping on the fuse box, followed by a typical gunshot-sounding bang that was the blowing of the fuse. This darkness leads to much ambiguity in the plot, as Cora is unsure of whether Nick sees her strike him and the police officer is initially skeptical of the power going out.  “The Killers”, by Ernest Hemingway, is completely written in a night time urban setting, as Nick walks through the dark streets under arc lights when going to and returning from his visit to Ole Andreson’s house. The presence of darkness is immediately evident in the title of my next reading, “The Shadow”. That title alone is typical of the noir concept of darkness. In addition, the main characters spend the night at a mansion throughout the thick of the plot. Emily’s interaction with the Campbell son is laced with darkness in “Debris”. When the man comes by the house, it is described as almost “entirely dark” inside the kitchen, and at the time when Emily shoots him, it notes her lack of flashlight. Despite the varying methods of creating dimly lit scenes, they are common in each of the four examples that I read this week.

Crime is typical of every noir piece, and in these four in particular, murder seems to be the overwhelming choice of the authors. Cora and Frank make two attempts to murder Nick, the first of which was planned by the infamous Femme Fatale, Cora Papadakis. Femme Fatales are another trope typical in noir pieces, but out of my choices this week, Cora is the only one. Hemingway’s work also contains a murder plot, in which Al and Max plan to kill Ole Andreson when and if he comes into the restaurant to eat, which he typically does. Between the four main characters of “The Shadow”, there are a few murder plans and actual executions. Due to Corvet’s initial death threat towards Dubrille, Martan, and Evans, they attempt to counter it when they think he is coming after them. Dubrille goes on to actually kill who he thinks is Corvet, but who is actually Martan exacting his own personal revenge. In turn, Martan kills Dubrille at the same time. Kevin Hardcastle’s “Debris” also revolves around several murders, including those of two women killed by the Campbell son and the Campbell son’s murder, carried out by Emily. Whether successful or not, murder plots are clearly a recurring trope in noir.

Name calling, sexism, and prejudice command the first two readings that I chose. In “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, Nick Papadakis is commonly referred to as “the Greek” and Cora takes strides to make sure that Frank does not think she is Mexican, because apparently, being a “Mex” is an extreme negative. The dialogue of “The Killers” is covered with sexist and racial slurs. The grown men working in the restaurant, repeatedly called “boy” as a name of inferiority, are also told that they would make a good wife someday and are considered “girl friends”. In addition, Sam, the cook, is constantly referred to as the “n” word by Al and Max.

Writing Style

When reading these examples of noir, one cannot help but notice the enormous amount of dialogue that constitutes this style. It practically makes up majority of every work that I read this week. Within this dialogue, it is becoming apparent that slang is typically used to represent the time period in which the noir piece was written and to give personality to the characters. For the most part, it seems that the sections that were not dialogue were typically made up of in-depth, physical descriptions of everything from the scenery and weather, to the way people dress and their body features. The use of adjectives is abundant in noir, to the point that I could practically see the characters and scenes that the authors were describing in my mind.


Two major themes jumped out of these readings. The first, the overwhelming desire to escape or get out of town, is best illustrated by “The Postman Always Rings Twice”. Frank, being a born drifter and gypsy, only settles down in one place because of his love for Cora. However, from the very beginning he begs her to run away with him and just live on the road like he used to do. She likes the idea at first, but soon realizes that she would hate that lifestyle because she is used to the best clothes, the best cars, and wealth in general. Even after Nick is dead, Frank still attempts to get Cora to leave town with him because of the Greek ghost that he sees following him around. Frank wants to leave Cora’s old life behind, including her deceased husband, their business, and their house. Cora cannot stand this idea and that leads Frank to escape on the road for a week with another woman. “The Killers” also features the need for escape through Nick. After talking with Ole Andreson and realizing that he cannot stand the thought of the man just waiting around to be killed and knowing that Al and Max are going to kill him, Nick expresses his need to get out of that town and presumably does so. Escape and the longing for it laces the past of the four main characters of “The Shadow”; Corvet, Dubrille, Martan, and Evans. The main confrontation of the plot revolves around the betrayal between the men over their escape, whether it was over accusations of cheating Corvet out of his water supply during their escape, ratting him out to the police after their escape, or betraying Martan when he tried to escape alone. The desire to escape their past situation on Devil’s Island led to the eventual confrontation that developed throughout “The Shadow”. The second theme, betrayal, is included in a variety of ways depending on the piece of noir. For example, in Cain’s work, Cora and Frank both betray Nick by having an affair and they betray each other when put against one another during the police investigation. Although their betrayal of each other does not have a direct consequence due to the solid lawyer that they had working for them, it leads to mistrust in their relationship. “The Killers” includes the thematic element of betrayal through a more indirect avenue, as Nick and George speculate that Al and Max are trying to kill Ole Andreson because he betrayed, or double-crossed, someone in Chicago. As indicated in the discussion of the previous theme, there is a series of betrayals in “The Shadow”. Corvet thinks that the other men betrayed him by drinking his share of the water during their escape; one of them actually betrays Corvet to the police, sending him back to Devil’s Island after they escape; and Dubrille betrays Martan when Martan attempts to escape the island alone. These themes can and do apply to many different noir plots.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the noir pieces for this week. The only one that was sort of a let-down was “The Killers”, and that is simply because it was rather anticlimactic and did not live up to its title since no one was actually killed. The suspense and dramatic tendencies of the noir style keep me reading and on the edge of my seat. I could not help but get emotionally attached to the characters due to their in-depth descriptions. And that is precisely why I felt utter shock when Cora died, for example. Even though noir comes with the disclaimer of “no happy endings”, I still find myself wanting one, and that is one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading these selections this week.


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:

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.”

A Haiku, a Yodel, and an Eye…Oh My!

The mind is a terrible thing to waste. Thankfully, I have many different avenues to challenge my creativity through ds106 Daily Create assignments. I do not think I have ever expressed myself in so many different ways within a span of three days. From writing poetry,  to yodeling, to modeling (eye modeling that is), my Daily Creates for this week are true masterpieces. :)

My first weapon of choice is the following haiku, which allowed for a short vent about the transition into ds106.

Embark on a Dark Start

Login, type, repeat.

What an overwhelming week!

Noir, such a dark treat!

I suggest you turn your volume all the way up for this next daily create, and I challenge you to try and out-yodel me!


Don’t let this next one scare you, it’s just me myself and eye! ;)

Eye Eye, Captain!


See you next week, with both of my eyes!

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!













“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.

Let’s Get It Started in Noir!

Week one of Digital Storytelling…check! Despite the warnings of the large work load, it was extremely rewarding. At first glance, the list of tasks seemed a tiny bit daunting. However, with a more thorough reading, none of the assignments posed a serious problem, as I have experience with most of the media venues, like Twitter, YouTube, UMW Blogs, and WordPress.

I began the week early on Monday, setting up a subdomain on my blog site that I created last semester for my Freshman Seminar class. That was the easiest part of the week, as my experience with WordPress allowed me to quickly set up my new site and establish my ds106 identity. From there, I tackled the social media network. Although I had never even heard of Gravatar, I fell in love with the idea of a common picture that represents my identity across all social media and email associated accounts. The only time-consuming part about setting up the avatar was choosing the picture. I decided to go the cliche route and simply selected a picture of myself. Although I have a Twitter account set up for personal use, I chose to create a separate account for this class in order to focus on Digital Storytelling news and updates from my peers and professor. Feel free to follow me at my new Twitter handle: @kendall_parker2. I am already ashamed that I have zero followers five days into my new account! The introduction for this venue was carried out with ease, as I utilized a quote to express my mindset towards this class. I am a huge fan of quotes and use them often, so it was an ideal way for me to introduce myself to the ds106 world. Despite inexperience with Flickr, setting up my account and posting a picture did not pose a problem. However, I know that as I explore this site more, I will need to learn how to interact with others within and outside the ds106 community. In order to introduce myself through Flickr, I posted a picture of myself playing basketball for UMW, in addition to five other photos displaying a basketball quote, a glimpse of my dream home, the beach, my hometown of Fredericksburg, and a picture to represent my passion for academics. The next two social media introductions gave me the most trouble during this week’s work. Although it was not difficult to set up the accounts, coming up with ideas for how to introduce myself through video and sound proved more difficult since, I have never had to do so before. After much deliberation, I chose to create a YouTube video chartering my basketball career thus far, through a photo album played to the beat of Kurtis Blow’s “Basketball”. Now for SoundCloud, I am not ashamed to admit, I was a little intimidated by my peers’ posts of them singing perfectly to their favorite songs, especially since I am completely tone deaf. Then an idea popped into my head: if you can’t sing with them, speak with them! That is when I decided to introduce myself by verbalizing a quick introduction, along with a section of lyrics from Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”. Here is a look at my multimodal introductions for this week:



Through these processes, I have learned how to use two social media sites, Flickr and SoundCloud, that were completely new to me. One aspect that I thought would be more difficult, but proved not to be, was embedding the media in my introduction blog post on my website. However, the explicit instructions for embedding, on the boot camp page, walked me through it, and it actually turned out to be fairly easy. On the other hand, I thought that simply sharing my favorite song on SoundCloud would be a perfect way to introduce myself. However, I mistakenly forgot about Copyright Infringement! My alternative idea proved to be a blessing in disguise, as I believe it represents me better. This week was very beneficial from a technological point of view, as I believe it taught me a lot about the different social media options and how to interact creatively through these sites.

Learning about the concept of noir was likely what I enjoyed most about this week. As a completely open-minded student from the beginning, (considering I had no clue what it meant in the first email) I have come a long way over the past week. I have learned that it is not technically a genre but instead the tone, mood, style, or viewpoint of a work. Its classic form developed during and post WWII when America was enveloped by feelings of pessimism. This led to a series of films that exemplified paranoia, bleakness, and despair. Prominent characters in these films included a cynical, disillusioned male and a manipulative, seductive femme fatale. A few visually common elements of noir, present in some capacity in all examples, include spooky shadows, vertical camera angles, dim lighting, rain-slicked streets, and urban night scenes. Noir is certainly not for the happy-go-lucky, always optimistic, rainbows and sunshine type of people. Luckily, I am not one of those people and find noir to one of the best subjects that could have been picked for this semester.

The two readings, Notes on Film Noir and “This is Where I Came In”, guided me in the process of suggesting a piece of noir. When considering all of the common elements of film noir defined in Paul Schrader’s work, I could not help but think of an episode of one of my favorite shows, “Psych”. In Season 8 Episode 6: 1967: A Psych Odyssey, the episode flashes back in time to reenact a cold case that involved the death of a former detective in a car “accident”. These flashbacks contain numerous elements of noir, such as dim lighting and the presence of water in the form of a rain storm, as exemplified in these scenes:

Photo courtesy of Google Images
Photo courtesy of Google Images
Photo courtesy of Google Images
Photo courtesy of Google Images

Watching, listening to, and reading the examples of noir furthered my understanding of all types of the concept, some of which do not even require visuals. The three examples that left a lasting impression of the overall darkness and crime-ridden aspect of noir are the Bugs Bunny episode, the Courageous Cat episode, and the “Ghost Hunt” radio episode. As an aspiring member of the FBI, the crime element and spookiness of film noir make it my first choice in a television show or movie. It is a shame that noir is not as popular as it was in the 40’s and 70’s because it is certainly my kind of style.

This week has prepped, exited, and intrigued me for the following weeks in Digital Storytelling. #ds106 #4life

Please let me introduce myself…

Hello everyone,

My name is Kendall Parker, and I am a freshman at the University of Mary Washington.  I plan to major in political science and represent the University as a student-athlete on the Women’s Basketball team. Professor Groom sealed my decision to take Digital Storytelling when he spoke about it to my Freshman Seminar class last semester. I am extremely excited to begin my first online class and believe that our multimodal introductions will be the perfect way to get to know one another and display our social media lives.

As you can see on my original blog site,, I am a huge fan of quotes, as I truly believe there is a quote for everything. There was no better way for me to introduce myself via my new Twitter account than to share a quote that represents my mindset for this semester and life in general.

I decided to give my “beautiful” singing voice (as I like to believe it is) a rest for my SoundCloud introduction. Using the powerful, and extremely accurate, lyrics of Taylor Swift’s song, “Shake it Off”, I chose to dictate some of my favorite words from one of my favorite artists.

Since basketball is the third priority in my life, only behind family and academics, I decided to introduce myself to YouTube by making a video that documents my basketball career thus far.

My final introduction, or “flicktroduction” if you will, displays me in my element, playing basketball for the University of Mary Washington, surrounded by family, friends, and fans. Although you cannot see my face, playing basketball for me is more about the name on the front of the jersey than my name on the roster.


Well, that’s all folks! I cannot wait to learn about everyone else!