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Pulp deadline: Eight days and counting…

December 11, 2017

You have one week left to submit your writing to be considered for the 2018 edition of Pulp, Lincoln Park’s award-winning literary journal. Pulp is one of Lincoln Park’s oldest and best-known traditions, and your poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction could be featured in the 12th edition! The deadline for literary submissions is midnight on Monday, Dec. 18. 

Just go to (follow the link above) and sign up for a Submittable account (it’s easy and free) to submit up to four of your pieces for consideration. If you have any questions, contact Managing Editor Olivia Smith or Mr. LeRoy.

Friday, December 8

December 8, 2017

Fiction Workshop: Today: Smith & Hamilton.

I gave out Luke Aloi’s R5 piece for Monday. We’ll begin Monday with Hill, Julia Aloi and maybe Koscinski.

Screenwriting Workshop: Monday is a work day. Liv and Brooke for Wednesday. Hailey/Becca for Friday.

Act One: Worked on your idiom plays or your celebrity death variations. I talked to everyone who was here about which one I thought you should do, and offered some suggestions.

For Monday, generally, you should have the exposition + first couple of variations done (if you’re doing a celebrity death one) or, if you’re doing the idiom play, you should have the exposition + however far I asked you to get. (It varies.)

On Monday we will begin reads of the midterms with Mrs. Serra’s class, probably in the Orchestra Room. The schedule is:


(Not necessarily in that order.)

BatCat: Think about the manuscripts this weekend. Read them again.

Hitchcock: Two ventriloquist-themed Presents episodes:

“And So Died Riabouchinska” (S1, Ep 20) Directed by Robert Stevenson (who also directed Mary Poppins!)

“The Glass Eye” (S3, Ep 1) Directed by Robert Stevens (who also directed “The Motive” and a bunch of other Presents episodes.)

Survey: Submissions. Follow the link at the top of this page to find the stuff we discussed!

Thursday, December 7

December 7, 2017

Professional Writing: Our guest was Nicole Borosky, Lincoln Park’s business manager. She talked about RFPs — preparing them, and what she looks for in responses to an RFP.


  1. There are two crucial mistakes you can make when responding to an RFP: be late, and be vague.
  2. Specificity is the single most important attribute you can bring to RFP writing, and in responses to RFPs. When doing the former, especially, you need to consider all details and communicate them clearly. When do you need this good or service? How many people will be using it, and for how long? How long do you expect this good or service to last? Even small details, like color or the style, need to be included. (Unless you really aren’t sure what you want, and are willing to wade through a bunch of proposals.)
  3. If vendors have questions for the RFP issuer (or vice versa), standard practice is usually to allow clarification questions. If the vendor asks the RFP issuer a question, standard practice is usually to share the clarification(s) with all other bidders.

I divided you into four groups.

Two groups will work on responding to the coffeemaker RFP – download it here: Coffeemaker RFP

and two groups will work on responding to the classroom RFP (by focusing on getting a desk and office chair — download it here: ) RFP Office Furniture

Your group’s job is to meet all specifications, and to provide the lowest possible price by the date requested. These will be due on Tuesday, Dec. 19 in written form; I’ll tell you next Tuesday (the 12th) what that form should look like.

For Tuesday, Dec. 12: everyone should have their quotes from the person you selected from the House of Pop soloist list. These quotes need to be in written form. They should also be, you know, good.

Critical Reading: Today you took a quiz on the reading for today. We then discussed Mulvey, briefly, and the rest of the time was yours to work. Tuesday will primarily be a work day. Presentations begin next Thursday.

Siren: An interesting discussion about controversial stories. You guys planned a Secret Santa.

Publishing: Handmade is done, and now we have a ton of other things to do! Remember, if you find yourself in a lull, MWF BatCat people should be thinking of submissions.

Style: We compiled notes on Charles Dickens

IMG_0580 (1)

For Tuesday: Using Stave 1 which we listened to or Stave 2 which we read, retell either by writing a traditional or more modern Christmas carol in the style of Charles Dickens. You may also use one of the other staves if you choose. Write: One verse + a refrain.

It should be able to be sung to the music of an existing Christmas carol, or you may write original music.

Send me the name of the carol by Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. so I can try to pull the music. Plan to share your Christmas carol with the class.

Hitchcock: Today you got a refresher on Celtx and screenplay formatting, and the rest of the time (what little there was) was work time for the final. The final is due two weeks from today.

Survey: Poetry: Today we started by talking about satire, using an example from The Onion. Satire is a style of humor that has elements of irony — in that it pretends to be serious (like the news story we read, or like a sketch on Saturday Night Live), but intends the opposite. It is also distinguished by the prominence of its targets. Satire takes aim at the well-known — whether that means well-known people, institutions or customs. The example we gave in class would be that if you make fun of one of your peers, that’s not satire. If you make fun of me, on the other hand, that IS satire — because I’m “established,” in a sense.

Then we reviewed, briefly, the stuff we covered in chapters 8, 9 and 10 for a quiz Tuesday. It includes:

Chapter 8: external organizers (free verse organizers you can see/hear):

  1. Anaphora/syntactical rhythms
  2. Deliberate typography
  3. Concrete/shaped poetry
  4. Non-recurrent stanzas
  5. Prose poetry
  6. Non-rhyming sound devices (from Chapter 5 – assonance, consonance, etc.)
  7. Breath units
  8. Numbering (stanzas, for example)

Chapter 9: internal organizers (free verse organizers that are inside the poem):

  1. Narrative
  2. Compare/contrast
  3. Shift in attitude
  4. Image clusters
  5. Repetition/refrain
  6. Overt theme

Chapters 10: Varieties of tone:

  1. Irony (verbal; situational; dramatic)
  2. Paradox
  3. Coincidence
  4. Denotation/connotation
  5. Satire
  6. Mood (which we defined similarly as you did in Fiction: the overall feeling of a piece, as determined by vocabulary, syntax, choice of imagery, distance from the narrator, etc.)


Finally, don’t forget epistolary poetry, which is a poem in the form of a letter (or diary entry). It doesn’t have to begin with “Dear.” But it IS a form that has stayed popular for thousands of years, because it is 1) familiar and 2) indulges our natural curiosity.

Speaking of epistolary poetry, if everyone completes the “Fan Letter” assignment, I will give you a word bank with your quiz Tuesday. If everyone doesn’t do it, no word bank.


Wednesday, Dec. 5

December 6, 2017

Fiction Workshop: Today: Duffy and Giffin.

For Friday we will try to get to Smith, Hamilton, and Hill.

Your assignment for Friday: Julia Aloi and Koscinski.

Screenwriting Workshop: Spencer for Friday. Monday will be a work day. Liv and Brooke for next Wednesday.

Act One: Today I met with as many people as I could to talk about which of the scenarios — the idiom play, or the death variations play — you should pursue.

On Friday, I will try to get to the people I missed. Even if I don’t, your assignment for Monday is to either:

  1. write the exposition and at least two variations (if you’re doing the celebrity death play), or
  2. write the exposition and at least one complication (if you’re doing the idiom play).

These need to be typewritten (because you’re going to build on them) and in SAF.

Remember: whichever scenario you choose, there needs to be a reason to do this. What are you trying to say with the scenario you have chosen?

BatCat: Submission discussions, continued. Please read the top contenders for Friday (all the way through). I’d like to see us come to a preliminary decision, if not a final on, at that time. Given the slips you filled out at the end of class, there is a lot of difference in terms of opinion. Reading these things again and all the way through may help us come to a consensus.

Is this a lot of work? Yes. Do it anyway. We need to get this done. Remind one another.

Hitchcock: A new seating chart, in effect for the rest of the semester. We finished watching Marnie.

Survey: Fiction: Today you took a quiz on “Bullet in the Brain,” and then took notes on characterization (direct and indirect), personification, and anthropomorphism. Here’s the sample sheet we used in class: Fiction 12.6.17 – Characterization Examples.

You got a new writing assignment, which can be found here: Fiction 12.6.15 – Prompt 8, Inanimate Microfiction. If you were absent, please see me for your object. This is due next Wednesday.

For Monday, you need to read “Hills Like White Elephants” from the Norton (pg. 335). There will be a quiz. I didn’t have time to mention this in class, but will try to remind you guys tomorrow/Friday. If you see this – and I hope some of you do – tell your classmates about it. It’s a pretty short story and is fast to read.

Tuesday, Dec. 5

December 5, 2017

Professional Writing: We completed work on two RFPs: one for a coffeemaker, and one for a new classroom (Dr. Butterini’s old office).

We’ve now prepared a response to an RFP, and we’ve written an RFP. On Thursday, our business manager, Ms. Borosky, will visit us to see what we’ve done, and to offer some pointers about what a business manager looks for on both sides of the RFP process.

Please be sure you’ve read Chapter 6, “Proposals and Specifications.” Pay particular attention to the 10 points in the section “Principles of Proposal Writing.” That material will figure into our next on-the-books test.

Then we turned our attention to press releases. We’re going to get releases ready for House of Pop. You were assigned a soloist (see me if you were absent), from whom you are to get a couple of (good) quotes for next Tuesday. Please have them in written form at the beginning of class, and be sure you ask relevant questions (about the song or songs they’re singing in the show; about past HOP performances they’ve been part of; etc., etc.)

Critical Reading: Today you got the guidelines for Short Assignment 10 (Critical Reading 12.5.17 – SA 10, Independent Theory Research) and a reading assignment for this Thursday. See you then.

Siren: Worked on December copy, which is due Thursday.

New folks: we talked briefly about the two other types of story organizers besides inverted pyramid: the martini glass (useful when you are covering a story which has a long chronology, which is the “stem” of the glass) and the kabob (also called the Wall Street Journal organizer, so-called because it humanizes stories filled with numbers by starting and closing with an anecdote).

For next Tuesday: please read “Leads That Succeed” in your packet. This section covers seven other types of leads besides the basic news lead.

Publishing: More HA wrap-up.

Style: EB White style collected. We listened to Stave 1 of A Christmas Carol. You are to read Stave 2. Complete your notes based on A Christmas Carol as well as other works by Dickens.

Hitchcock: Started watching Marnie.

Survey: Poetry:  We talked about epistolary style — there was a handout; see me if you were absent and didn’t get it.

We focused on the Terrance Hayes poem “MJ Fan Letter,” and while we didn’t subject it to a line-by-line analysis, we did comment on the general structure. The poet appears to be using the vehicle of a fan letter (to a person he presumably doesn’t know but feels some kinship with — “Cousin”) to relate a deeply personal experience. This isn’t that much different from a commonly observed phenomenon: we’re often more likely to share secrets with strangers than with those close to us.

I assigned you a “fan letter” poem, in which you will choose a recipient (somewhat widely-known, if not world-famous) and use the letter to divulge some personal situation. (PLEASE NOTE: In keeping with what we have discussed all semester about the “I” in poetry not signalling default autobiography, this revelation should be treated as fictional, even if it’s based on a true story. This is NOT in any way an effort to encourage anyone to share deep, dark, unsettling details. Anyone who tells you that is the key to good poetry or good writing is doing you a grave disservice.)

These “fan letter” poems are due on Thursday, Dec. 15 — the same day as your notecard finals.

Monday, December 4

December 4, 2017

Fiction Workshop: Today: finished Erb-White. Then we did McDanel and McCollough.

For Wednesday: Smith, Hamilton, and Hill. The wheel keeps on turning.

Screenwriting Workshop: Today was a film project workday, and you also got a copy of Liv’s Round 3 screenplay. Slight adjustment to the schedule: we are moving Liv’s workshop date from next Monday to next Wednesday (we will workshop both Liv and Brooke on that day). This way you’ll have an additional workday for the film project.

Henry’s screenplay is for Wednesday, Spencer’s is for Friday.

Act One: Today we watched/read David Ives’s Sure Thing, possibly his best-known one act:

We talked about the dramatic question and answer (Will Bill and Betty get together? Yes.), the use of the bell to signify the sort of do-over we wish we could have in our relationships (think Groundhog Day), and the bigger ideas that are suggested here (the difficulties of meeting someone and figuring out what the right thing to say IS; the possible dishonesty we bring to new encounters — Bill only advances when he says the “right” things: he went to Harvard; had a 4.0; is unaffiliated politically; etc.)

BatCat: Today we had a chat about Handmade Arcade (recap: it went well, we have some new ideas, potentially) and then started talking about submissions. Please go into your Submittable accounts before Wednesday and make sure you look at all of the ALL READS. Also, there are several submissions that need additional readers – don’t forget to take some time for those as well.

Note for moving forward: if you feel passionately about something, read the whole thing. Sometimes we get in the weeds and then realize that no one’s read the entire manuscript – that’s kind of a waste of time. So if you’re going to fight for something, make sure you’ve read it cover to cover.

Also, remember to think about what’s right for the press – it may not necessarily be “right” for you. And keep in mind the context in which you are working – sometimes pieces aren’t meant to be scanned or read all in one shot, and that’s okay. Keep an open mind and think about optimal reading conditions.

See you Wednesday.

Hitchcock: Today we watched an episode of Hitchcock Presents (“The Perfect Murder”) that we didn’t get to discuss because of stuff. We will later this week.

We DID talk about your responses to Friday’s episode, “The Motive.” We watched clips from the first 10 minutes of the episode to establish some Hitchcockian/non-Hitchcockian elements (the opening pan of Richard, Sandra and Tommy instead of the more sedate establishing shot; the canted shot of Tommy on the floor; the possible MacGuffinthe subtle zoom when Tommy and Richard are arguing; the placement of Sandra between Tommy and Richard to foreshadow the love triangle; the possible MacGuffin (the chart); the use of Richard’s shadow across Tommy’s face to indicate that his dark suggestion is taking hold; and the elevator scene, reminiscent of the taunting that occurs in Rope).

The important thing to remember is less about whether Hitchcock did or did not use these devices (I think he did use several of them), or would have used them here (impossible to know), and more about the idea that they are all deliberate choices. The shadows, the shot choices, the angles — they’re not accidental. (And since the director, Robert Stevens, oversaw a ton of Hitchcock Presents and Alfred Hitchcock Hour episodes, I’m going to say that he probably picked up a number of these things from the man himself.)

Survey: Fiction: Today you filled out a character interrogation and got a short story to read for Wednesday (“Bullet in the Brain”). There will be a quiz, as usual.

Friday, December 1

December 1, 2017

Fiction Workshop: Today: Kennedy. We got 3/4 of the way through Mr. Erb-White’s piece — we’ll finish talking about it Monday, when we will also look at Mr. McDanel’s piece.

New packet for Monday: McCollough, Duffy, Giffin.

Screenwriting Workshop: Monday is a work day for the film project. Please remember: while I definitely want you to do your best on this project, don’t get hung up on making it “perfect.” Perfection is not the point; creativity, flexibility, and, above all, actually getting it done are the most important things.

Henry’s screenplay is for Wednesday. It’s on the long side, so don’t wait till the last minute. Spencer’s screenplay is for Friday.

Act One: We worked on the next prompt:

  • Choose a name from the Celebrity Death List 12-1-2017
  • Make sure you know the circumstances of this celebrity’s death.
  • Give me four “alternate” death scenarios. They should be a short paragraph each. You don’t need to change the way the celebrity died — Trotsky’s death happened from the same cause in each variation — but you do need to change the circumstances.
  • Tell me, in a final graf, what it is you’re hoping the takeway will be here. For example, in Trotsky, the protagonist puzzles over why he was killed, worries about his legacy, and wrestles with the impossibility of cheating death. What will you be trying to show in your play?

If you were absent, please have this as homework for Monday.

BatCat: Handmade Arcade is tomorrow! Here is a link that has nearly all of the information you could ever need or want:

See you there!

Hitchcock: Finished the All About the Birds documentary. Then we watched “The Motive,” our first Hitchcock Presents episode NOT directed by the man himself. If you were absent, you will not add this to your notebook; you’ll need to watch it in class on Monday instead and do a response.

Survey: Poetry: Work day for the notecard final. Remember: you only need four slides/cards, not five!