The Writing Process: A Presentation in GIFs

If you couldn’t already tell from my previous posts, I love GIFs.  That being said, I decided to make another one featuring GIFs that highlights the super-fun writing process! *insert sarcastic thumbs-up here* Let’s get started!

One day you’re just sitting there like

When suddenly inspiration hits you like

So you rush to your computer like

And start typing like a crazy person like

Then you lose track of time until you fall asleep and you wake up like

And at work/school you can’t stop thinking about what you’ve written like

So you finally get home all excited and ready to write like

When suddenly writer’s block hits you like

And you sit there staring at the screen and panicking like

So you desperately type out something, anything, like

But when you read it back its bad and you’re just like

You convince yourself that you’re terrible and sit there like

And you brand yourself a failure like

So you don’t write for a while and spend your time procrastinating like

Until one day you buckle down and write something and it’s actually pretty good and you feel like

And you tell yourself that you’re going to stay motivated and keep writing like

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And when you finally finish it looks like

– Julia

My Favorite Episodes Of MST3K (Part 1)

The Daily Suck

You may think you’re a comedy buff.  You may think that you’ve seen all the funniest movies and tv shows out there, and are well acquainted with all of the major comedians.  You may think that you know funny.  But I’m going to tell you right now that you have not seen it all until you’ve watched a little show called Mystery Science Theater 3000.  

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K for short) is not easily explained.  Basically, a mad scientist and his partner are trying to find the best way to take over the world, so they send their temp, Joel (and later, Mike) up into space and force him to watch terrible movies in an effort to break his will.  In the mean time, Joel builds robots Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot to keep him company.  The premise of the show is that we as the audience get to watch the trio watch these horrible films and make fun of (riff on) them.  It sounds silly, I know, but trust me, this show is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  Running from 1989 to 1999, MST3K has a dedicated cult following and a wealth of one hilarious episode after the next.  In no particular order, here’s a list of some of my favorites!

1. Cave Dwellers

This Conan The Barbarian inspired film gives us one of my very favorite episodes of MST3K.  Joel and the bots never miss opportunity to riff on its cast of goofy characters and inexplicable events, from the incompetent villain (the dude with the mustache) to hero Ator’s fight with invisible enemies.  Hilarious from start to finish.

Riff that sums it up: “Tolkien couldn’t follow this plot!”

2. Boggy Creek II: and The Legend Continues…

Boggy Creek II is one of those movies that seems like it was born to be on MST3K.  Following the journey of a researcher and his students and their attempt to find the legendary “Boggy Creek Creature” deep in the south, the MST3K crew (with Mike instead of Joel, who left the show in its fifth season) gives us riff after riff that made me cry with laughter.  I’ve watched this episode a thousand times and it just keeps getting funnier.

Riff that sums it up: (Mike as the movie’s main character) “We’re goin’ camping and you’re gonna watch.”

3. Time Chasers

A nerdy inventor named Nick and his journalist girlfriend go on a trip through time to prevent an evil CEO from using Nick’s time machine to destroy the future.  Their journey involves a trip to a futuristic (?) food court, bonding in the produce isle of a grocery store, and a very poor mixture of plaids.  Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow pull no punches with this one, and their riffing is absolutely top-notch during Time Chasers.                                                                                                                                  

 Riff that sums it up: “The adventures of the average people!”

4. Manos: The Hands Of Fate

 

If you were to look at anyone else’s list of favorite MST3K episodes, I can guarantee that this one will be on that list.  And for good reason.  Manos: The Hands Of Fate is one of the worst movies to ever be featured on MST3K, making it perfect fodder for Joel and the bots.  The only way to watch this film is to watch the MST3K version, and the guys ensure that it is one of the most hilarious experiences you will ever have.

Riff that sums it up: (Tom) “So we’ve gotta be, what, half an hour into this movie by now, right?” (Joel) “No, actually, it’s more like a minute.”  (Tom, appalled) “…No.”

5. Werewolf

Werewolf.  I can remember how horribly my stomach hurt after watching this episode from laughing so hard.  The MST3K cast rip this movie apart like the werewolf does to his victims, except with much more ferocity than the wimpy monster in the film.  Look out for Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo’s musical interlude during this one: it’s a doozy.

Riff that sums it up: (We hear a door slam in the background) “Oh, that was the sound of the director giving up and leaving.”

There are literally SO many hilarious episodes that I could never compile a complete list in one sitting, so stay tuned for part 2 coming soon! In the mean time, you can check out every episode of MST3K right here on this incredible website and fan community: http://www.club-mst3k.com/ Get ready for some serious laughs.

– Julia

Remembering My Great Grandmother On Her Birthday

The Daily Suck

September 21st may not seem like a particularly special day to you, but it is for me.  On this day in 1916, my great grandmother, Mam, was born.  It’s the perfect day to remember not only her life, but her impact on my own, and I’m very excited to share the memories of such a wonderful person on my blog!

Mam was born Helen Marie Fabian in 1916 to an Italian family and lived in Mingo Junction, OH.  She got married to Frank Rogers when she was just fifteen years old and gave birth to her first child, Grace, a year later.

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I love her dress!!!

Anyways, Mam wasn’t just a normal housewife.  During WWII, she got a job working on the railroads: big overalls, grease, and all.  She went on to have two more children, Rich and Donna (my grandma), and ended up with eight grandchildren between her three kids!

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That’s Mam in black on the left, along with her husband, Frank, her son-in-law, Vince, and her daughter, Grace.  Did I mention Mam was a total babe?

On December thirteenth, 1968, Mam’s husband died, which prompted her to move in with her daughter (my grandma), Donna, her husband, John, and sons John (my Dad) and Eric, where she stayed for nearly the rest of her life.   I really can’t overstate the impact that she had on bringing up my Dad and uncle after she moved in.  She was such a joy and a help to the entire family, doing everything from cooking, baking, cleaning, and just loving them all in true Italian housewife style.  She did this for as long as she was able to, even after my dad and uncle had moved out.  I can still taste the warm chocolate cake that she would send over to the house when I was little.  And that’s where Mam really shined.  As a cook and baker, she was almost without equal, with her best dishes being homemade gnocchis, cheese raviolis, marinara sauce, Easter bread, rum cake, and chocolate cake.  Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas dinners were a parade of one delicious food after the other; a tradition that my grandma still keeps going strong, being one mean cook herself.

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Here’s Mam in the middle with her daughter, Grace, and my Dad, John.

After leading a happy and fulfilled life full of love and joy, Mam passed away on January 15, 2005 at the age of eighty-eight.  I was only nine years old at the time, and I always wish that I had known her longer than I did.  The years that I did get to spend with Mam, however, were incredible.  One of the most striking things that I remember about my great-grandmother was her pride in her children and grandchildren.  She was so proud of my father and uncle in everything that they did, and never failed to tell them how she felt and how much she loved them.  It was the same with her grandchildren.  Whenever my cousins, sisters, and I would put on a dance or a sing a song for her, she watched us with a joy and pride that I’ll never forget.  Mam was lively and funny, but she also had one of the most compassionate hearts I’ve ever known.  She would laugh when you would laugh, cry when you would cry, and wanted nothing more than to see everyone happy.  Her tender soul and contagious smile made her loved by all who knew her.  People to this day speak about Mam with such fondness and love, and I can only hope to leave a legacy as wonderful as hers.

I’m typing this not with tears in my eyes, but with a smile on my face, and that perfectly describes Mam’s impact on people.  She was a happy person who made other people happy, and it was impossible to have a frown on your face when she was around.  I know that she would be in the very front row at all of Spinning Jenny’s (my band) shows, cheering us on and making sure that we knew how much she loved us and how proud she was of us.  I do know that she is looking down on us and praying for us always, giving us the same care that she did on earth in Heaven.  Mam was an absolutely incredible woman that I miss dearly but remember with great joy.  Happy birthday, Mam! Until we meet again in eternity.

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I love you!

– Julia (aka Chickie Number One)

A Poem For Writer’s Block By Sir Philip Sydney

The Daily Suck

It’s been one of those days.  Those inevitable days when absolutely nothing comes to mind as a writer.  Frustrating? Unbelievably so.  As I sat here searching for something halfway decent to write, I remembered a poem I had read in my poetry class last semester (in case you haven’t been able to tell so far, I really liked that class).  Written by Sir Philip Sydney, the poem is about someone trying to write a love letter but is unable to do so because of writer’s block.  It’s one of the most relatable poems as a writer and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

“Loving In Truth”

Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,

That she (dear she) might take some pleasure of my pain,

Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,

Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain,

I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe:

Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain,

Oft turning others’ leaves, to see if thence would flow

Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburned brain.

But words came halting forth, wanting Invention’s stay;

Invention, Nature’s child, fled stepdame Study’s blows;

And others’ feet still seemed but strangers in my way.

Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,

Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:

“Fool,” said my Muse to me, “look in thy heart, and write.”

 

– Julia

My Poetry: The Lonely

The Daily Suck

I thought that I would share another of my poems with you guys today.  Yay for you! Just kidding.  Anyways, it’s called “The Lonely” and it’s one of my favorite poems that I’ve written.  It’s a bit on the depressing side, but before you suggest that I be heavily medicated, relax.  It’s not written from my point of view.  I’m not sure why, but my poems usually tend to not be about me.  Maybe I need to get the whole “tortured artist” thing going on before I can be interesting enough to base a poem off of? Whatever the reason, here is “The Lonely” and I hope that I can hear the sound of your virtual snapping once you’re finished. 

“The Lonely”

In his house
my tiny house
on my street
this broken song
goes through my head again and again
starting over
just like me
but both of us play out the same
and all I’ve ever known and am
repeats
a tired encore that never ends

– Julia

Happy Birthday To My Sisters!

The Daily Suck

There’s been a lot of surprises in my seventeen years, but one of the biggest by far was finding out that my mother was pregnant with twins! Eight years ago today my family was blessed with two special little girls: Maria and Marcella! They’re fraternal, not identical, but even though they’re twins they couldn’t be more different! Each of the girls has their own personality and look, but they love each other all the same.  I’ve learned a lot from the twins as they’ve grown up, and one of the most important things I’ve picked up on is how your sisters can be your best friends.  Maria and Marcella always treat each other like best buddies (even when that extends to partners in crime!) and are quick to make up if they fight.  Even though I’m nearly ten years older then they are, I can remember countless times when we’ve laughed and played together like best friends.  Maria and Marcella truly keep my life full of fun, laughter, and happiness, and I hope that I can be a good role model for them both.  Happy 8th birthday to my favorite set of twins! I love you!

– Julia

Why I Love Being A Night Owl

The Daily Suck

I am not a morning person.  Night time is where it’s at! There’s lots of reasons why I love being a night owl, including the feeling that I can be more productive at night.  Like writing this post at 11:00 pm…

1. The day’s stresses are behind me.
I don’t know about you, but as soon as I wake up I tend to go through a mental checklist of the things I need to get done that day.  Obviously, there’s an amount of stress that goes into our daily lives and that’s not necessarily bad, but who likes stress? At night, you can usually just unwind after getting your work or homework finished for the day.  You can curl up with a good book, watch a movie or a tv show, or play a video game to give your brain a little break. It’s the most refreshing part of my day, and where I can take the time to relax and play Disney Infinity even though the SAT is looming on the horizon…

2. It’s the most reflective and introspective part of day. 
Whether you had a good day or a bad day, going over it mentally at night is always an excellent habit.  Why? Because we can ask ourselves honest questions (Did I do something good for someone else today? Was I impatient or short with people?), examine our behavior, and then go from there.  For example, if you remember snapping at your little brother or sister, you can get a picture of the areas that you need a little more work in.  If you remember calling your grandmother and asking how she was doing, you might try to make a good habit out of it.  Praying and making the Act of Contrition at night is an essential part of my day and reminds me of God’s mercy for all my mistakes!

3. Night time is when I feel most productive.
Almost everything I’ve ever written (besides this blog), I’ve written at night.  Daytime just does not work for me.  There’s too many things going on and too many things that I could be doing to distract me from writing.  Night is when you can collect any inspiration you may have found during the day and jot it down.  It’s quiet, peaceful, and other than the internet there isn’t much to distract you.  Trying to stay awake while writing at night, however, is a different story…

4. It allows you to spend some time alone.
This one may sound odd, and I’m not trying to advocate the ever-annoying “me-time” thing, but being comfortable just being by yourself is an imperative lesson to learn.  I love my friends so much, but that doesn’t mean that I have no idea what to do with myself when they’re not around.  I don’t have to be texting somebody all of the time.  I’m also not saying that you should just lie in bed and analyze your entire life down to the smallest detail (I have a teensy-tiny overthinking problem…it happens), but sometimes the alone time you get at night is a great opportunity to get to know yourself a little better.  You can keep a journal to collect all of your thoughts, take some time to pray, or even blog like I do.  It goes hand in hand with the second item on the list, and can do wonders for your sense of self and peace of mind. 

Night time is awesome, even for people like me who don’t party all night like every single person on the radio.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go do everything I procrastinated about doing during the day — oh, I mean relax. 

– Julia

A Beautiful Quote For Readers And Writers

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The Daily Suck

Just a little mini-post today, but I thought I would share this quote with you all.  It’s so beautiful, and anyone who has a favorite book can say the same.  Heck, if you’re not reader, then I don’t know what else could make you want to become one more.  Enjoy the quote, make a cup of tea, and go grab your favorite book!

– Julia

Friday Movie Night: Poltergeist

The Daily Suck

Since today is Friday the 13th, I picked a scary movie to feature on this week’s Friday Movie Night: Poltergeist!

Poltergeist!!

They just don’t make posters like that anymore.  Anyway, Poltergeist was pretty much my first scary movie and man, did it deliver! The movie tells the story of the Freelings, your average, suburban family, who must deal with an evil spirit that possesses their home and kidnaps their daughter, Carol Anne.  Even though that particular narrative is now pretty much the benchmark for every horror movie ever, Poltergeist stands out from all the other wannabes.  I admire how the love and strength of the family is portrayed in the face of all the terrible things that they go through without sacrificing the scare factor.  Cuz Poltergeist is scary.

      

That’s just creepy stuff right there.  Especially the scene when Carol Anne starts to answer questions from the tv set, even though all we hear is static (“Hello? What do you look like?…I can’t hear you! Five.  Yes.  Yes.  I don’t know.  I don’t know”).  Or, more famously, the part when *spoiler* one of the parapsychologists hired by the Freelings goes into the restroom AND PEELS OFF HIS FACE.  It turns out to be just a hallucination, but you’re pretty much already scarred for life by that point.  My favorite scene in the whole movie is towards the end, though, when Mrs. Freeling is sprinting down the hallway towards Carol Anne’s room to save the kids from the poltergeist — and the hallway s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s out farther and farther until the door seems miles away.  It’s a great effect and totally creepy.  So, yeah, Poltergeist tells a great story filled with chilling scares and touching family moments, and is one of the greatest scary movies of all time.  But who am I kidding? We all know who the real star of the movie is.

Forget the Ghostbusters.  The person I want on my side in the event of a poltergeist haunting is psychic Tangina Barrons for sure.  Who can forget her treasury of quotes, ranging from “Ya’ll mind hanging back? You’re jammin’ the frequencies” to “Now, clear your minds.  It knows what scares you.  It has from the very beginning.  Don’t give it any help, it knows too much already”? Um, hello? Gosh, Tangina, save some awesome for the rest of the cast.

This movie is definitely one of my all-time favorites.  If you haven’t seen it already, go watch Poltergeist and let me know what you thought in the comments!

P.S. Don’t go into the light!

– Julia

My First Writing Assignment For Class: My Favorite Book

The Daily Suck

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I’ve said before that I’m taking a college English class, and yesterday I received my first writing assignment: What is your favorite book and why? Not to be a school nerd or anything (book nerd would be more accurate), but that’s a fun assignment right there.  But how did I possibly pick my favorite book of all time? It was impossible to choose, so I just went with one of my favorites.  After considering Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction by former BioWare writer and genius behind Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic and Mass Effect Drew Karpyshyn, I went with a classic that I read for the first time in the spring.  It was The Great Gatsby, old sport! Here’s what I came up with, and hopefully it’s good!

Chasing The Green Light: Why The Great Gatsby Is One Of My Favorite Books

There are many books that have to do with the chasing of a dream, but none other have hit me as powerfully as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby always comes first to mind when I’m asked which book is my favorite and, as a writer, I have rarely seen any other writing that I find more striking than Fitzgerald’s in the novel. I am continuously blown away with lines like, “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars”, “No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart”, and “He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God”. These grand descriptions create powerful imagery in my mind, and add to the dreamy quality of the novel. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s equally powerful usage of metaphors like the green light that symbolizes Gatsby’s dreams, and the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg painted on a billboard that penetrate through the facades the characters build around themselves, give depth to the novel that made me think about it long after I had turned the last page. Aside from the masterful word choices, imagery, and metaphors, however, is the story of a man with a dream: Jay Gatsby himself, who quickly became one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. Never before in literature has there been a hero with such corrupt methods or a villain with such pure ideals. Gatsby is enigmatic, ruthless, child-like, optimistic, and utterly compelling, and it is his story that serves as the beating heart of the novel. One of the most interesting parts of his character is that, while everything he does to obtain his dream is corrupt and immoral, the dream itself that drives him to take those actions is poignantly innocent. Gatsby desires a life with the woman he loves passionately and to the point of obsession, Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby is a poor soldier from a poor background when he first meets Daisy, a wealthy, upper-class girl, and after falling in love with her, makes it his life goal to become rich so that he can marry Daisy and give her a life of happiness and comfort. Unfortunately, Gatsby is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, and becomes fabulously wealthy through the business of bootlegging, or illegally selling alcohol, during the American Prohibition era. When rereading the novel, I realized and found intriguing the fact that Gatsby’s corruption does not bring about his downfall. Rather, it is Daisy. When she accidentally kills her husband, Tom’s, mistress, Myrtle, while driving Gatsby’s car, Myrtle’s husband takes revenge and murders Gatsby at the end of the novel. By using Daisy as the instrument of Gatsby’s death instead of his corruption, Fitzgerald manages to make him a tragic character who is destroyed by his greatest dream. Even more tragically, however, is the fact that Daisy herself is not deserving of Gatsby’s love. Though beautiful and charming, Daisy is also selfish, shallow, and cynical, thus rendering her incapable of truly committing herself to anyone. F. Scott Fitzgerald describes her and her husband, Tom, best in this quotation from the novel: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” Daisy, the one person Gatsby loved more than anything in the world, leaves town at the end of the novel without even attending Gatsby’s funeral, proving her true nature to everyone except Gatsby, who dies with his dream optimistically intact. If Daisy has one redeeming quality by the end of the book, however, it is that Gatsby’s vision of her, while pure, is unrealistic and impossible for anyone to fulfill. Gatsby is so obsessed with his perfect vision of Daisy that he is unable to see her flaws or accept the person that she really is. Gatsby has an idealistic dream of what his and Daisy’s life should be, and even when he sees his life’s work crumble around him after Daisy admits that she loves Tom as well, Gatsby cannot let go of that vision. His relentless optimism makes him child-like both in his innocence and his sad naivete. When looking for a new book to read, I am always attracted to incredible characters, and The Great Gatsby delivers in the fullest possible way. Its story and characters are vibrant, tragic, and poignantly portrayed with larger-than-life descriptions that make them appear both grand in their importance and shattered in their personal lives. The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels of all time, and leaves me with the hope of preserving my own dreams in a world of corruption and “vast carelessness”.