Author Archives: Lindsey Wotanis

Composing is messy

I spent a good portion of today writing. I spent a good portion of yesterday doing video editing.

What a mess!

What feels even messier is that I’m drafting part of an article Laurie and I are working on about writing (and digital composing) being messy. Here’s just how messy my draft is looking right now:

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 8.35.36 PM

OMG. My head is spinning just looking at the mess.

And, as I write, I keep thinking to myself,

Yep, this is how it goes. Be one with it. Own it. Go with the flow. Embrace the mess.

But it’s making me nuts! I can’t stand when my house is messy. The same goes for my writing. I even tweeted this earlier today:

Writing is messy. Like a tornado. I can practically see the Wicked Witch’s shoes peeking out from beneath my draft. #scholarlyprobs

It’s true, though, that writing and composing isn’t a neat process. And it is a frustrating process. Hence, why I’ve abandoned my draft to write a blog post. The messier the writing, the more breaks I seem to need to clear my head from all the clutter.

Video editing has proven to be equally messy. Given its non-linear nature, plopping in footage here, sound there, cropping this, don’t-forget-to-go-back-and-fix-that-part-at-the-beginning, it’s a time-consuming process. And, in some sick way, like writing, it’s also enjoyable.

If you asked Laurie, she would confirm that I said to her just yesterday,

I’m actually looking forward to doing some writing.

Yeah, until I actually started writing, that was. It’s such a love-hate thing. Can you relate? Share some of your writing secrets in the comments below. What helps you break through the clutter? (Seriously, please. I could use some good advice.)

Well, better get back to it. This paper isn’t going to draft itself … and I’m only on the first draft. Oh, the road that lies ahead … (or is it lays? I had to Google it. Ugh. Writing is so much work!) 😉

things I’ve learned about filming

So, today was our second day of filming for WinkyFace. It was my turn in front of the camera, and yes, I was nervous. I thought I would be most nervous about the acting (and I was pretty nervous about that; I’m type-A and self-conscious to boot!).

But as the process continued, I realized that the part that freaked me out even more than being on camera was not having control over what was happening. I couldn’t see the shots through the camera view finder. I didn’t know if things were level, framed properly, conforming to “my vision.” (Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I am a control freak. Yes. Yes, I am.) It was hard to cede control of the situation to Laurie, Brig & Mac. But, I learned a couple of valuable lessons in the process.

1) I need to be learn to be more trusting of my partners. They can handle things.

2) It’s OK to be a little un-trusting, too. It means your head is in the game and that you’re thinking about all that’s happening around you in a critical way.

3) We all needed to be a little more prepared. Day 1 we were really on top of things. Day 2 got a little lax, it seemed. I didn’t have key props ready. There was a LOT happening in my small office space. And, there were too many distractions (people, phones, equipment, etc.)

I spent the last few nights looking back over the footage we’ve accumulated so far. We’ve done some really neat, creative things. But, it’s clear that we’re novices at this. That’s OK. This is a learning process, and I honestly can’t believe how much I’ve already learned in such a short time. There’s stuff we’ll need to re-do, re-think, re-imagine. But, that’s where the good #learningcurving happens. I’m excited about Day 3.

Until then, I’ll leave you with some of the outtakes of our first two days of filming. If nothing else, we had some fun.

And so … it begins!

We had our first official WinkyFace video shoot yesterday!

I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. The night beforehand, I had so much nervous energy. I didn’t know how far we’d get with filming, so I wanted to make sure I was ready just in case we got to any of my scenes. (The plan was to start with Laurie’s.) Laurie, who worked on finalizing the filming schedule, said I should plan two outfits. I packed six. I had equipment strewn all over my house, cords occupying every electrical outlet.

We met a couple of hours before our scheduled WF shoot to go over scripts and last minute stuff. We had some lunch to try to relax ourselves. Then, we met up with our new production assistants, Brigid and Mackenzie, at Laurie’s office. As soon as I saw them, I felt at ease!

We’re lucky to be working with such great students this semester. We’re lucky that, when we said, ‘Hey, do you wanna spend the semester helping with WinkyFace,” they said yes! As part of the deal, they’ll earn three credits via an independent study with me. And so, the four of us will learn together just what it takes to get a YouTube channel off the ground.

Before we wrapped today’s session, we did a quick shoot with Brig & Kenz so you could meet them! Check it out!

now panic and freak out!


OMG! Just six days until the spring semester starts!

That pretty much sums up where I’m at right now. The spring semester starts in fewer than six days, and I’m nowhere near ready! I’ve got syllabi to revise, assignments to prep, reading to do.

I’m expecting the semi-annual nightmares to begin soon… You know, the ones where you walk into the classroom on the first day only to realize that you’ve forgotten to prep your syllabus and have no lesson prepared. The students revolt (not sure where that comes from, cause students would not revolt; they’d just be jazzed about getting out of class early). It only gets worse from there.

Hey, I think there might be a video there! (Not saying any more!)

But, I’m really excited to be getting started with the production of EIGHT, yes, EIGHT, WinkyFace videos this spring! If all goes according to plan, our first video will go live in mid-February, so stay tuned! We’ll be working with two awesome production assistants, Brigid and Mackenzie, and I have no doubt they’re going to keep Laurie and I on task. Don’t worry, we’ll introduce them soon!

In the meantime, if you’re looking for me, I’m somewhere at a computer panicking and freaking out! 😉

judgment day

Earlier this week, Laurie blogged about the brainstorming we’ve been doing with regard to our interview set design for our parody interviews with literary characters. I think we’ve come up with a good, albeit goofy, design, but I suppose you all will be the judge of that.

You, and viewers like you, will also be the judge of us, the performers. To be honest, I’m far more worried about how harshly Laurie and I will be judged on a long list of things including, but I’m sure not limited to our:

  • Acting
  • Age
  • Costume/Style of dress
  • Hair
  • Makeup
  • Body language
  • Bodies

Clearly, YouTube performers, especially female ones, are not immune to criticism, though research shows (even our own on Jenna Marbles, which is soon-to-be published in Feminist Media Studies) that women on YouTube are often subjected to critical and hostile comments, as Laurie wrote about here.

So, I’ve been particularly thoughtful with regard to how I want to portray my interviewer character. What should I wear? How should I act? Should I be:

  • Serious?
  • Funny?
  • Nerdy?
  • Sexy?
  • Conservative?
  • Casual?
  • Feminine?
  • Masculine?

Obviously, there’s no way to anticipate all of the critical feedback I might receive given the choices I make, but certainly one could guess. And, if looking at how people treat some of the most powerful women on television is any indication, I don’t even want to try to imagine what’s coming our way.

As I was doing some research on how some of the most well-known female interviewers portray themselves, I decided to log onto Facebook. I began reading some of the comments people posted on some of the women’s profile photographs. I guess what I found was not all that surprising.

Below, I’ve captured the recent Facebook profile pictures of some of the most popular (and by extension, powerful) women on television. Below each photograph is just a sampling of the kinds of sexist, demeaning, and offensive feedback these women received on their photos. (The comments are from either the photo displayed here or any of their other photos used as profile pictures.) Almost always, the comments are focused on their looks. On the whole, the women receive many of what you’d likely consider to be  positive comments, even if they are focused solely on their looks. But there are several negative comments, for sure.

(Note: I’ve not edited the comments in any way, simply copied and pasted them as I found them on FB.)

Oprah Winfrey. Needs no bio.

Oprah Winfrey. Needs no bio.

Paula Stevens Oprah, I think there is more than a resembalance to you and your dogs on your Cover photo of them
Austine Pepperest Big mama I like u pic
James DrRock Farmer You KNOW You’re Sexy Right Oprah ??? …. Hips, Boobs, Smile !!!
Dusan Radevic i hope you burn in hell
Cindy Lapierre getting skinny!!! way the go!
Katie Couric

Katie Couric, former co-host of Today Show, host of CBS Evening News, and star of “Katie” on NBC.

Richard Grzywacz wreaking of purity !

Pedro Matias She looks fucking scary

Daejohn Brown Call me crazy but I am in love with this lady! Age ain’t nothing but a number;)

Cliff Kealey Looks so young Katie

Jake Decker the only thing that would have this better would have been you in a bikini!

Quincy LaGrande The Prettiest Anchor in the World !!!!!!!!!!!!!


Barbara Walters, journalist/celebrity interviewer with ABC news, co-host of “The View”

Orlando Arroyo wonder how much hours of photoshop the poor designer had to do…

Hyewon Jin I guess barbara, the junkie, walters is useless garbage and noboy would remember this trash motor mouth right after passing away, which she deserves

Charlotte Sunzuoye hi barbara u look sexy

Kelly Ripa

Kelly Ripa, co-host of “Live with Kelly and Michael”

Eli Terebey way toooo much botox

Dolores Gergely Mylen you need to put some weight on. you are too thin.

Jean Kittle Daniel Kelly, why on earth did you cut your beautiful long hair? Long hair is a lot
more flattering to you than short, plus, it is a lot more versatile.

William Alan Watson You are so totally a MILF

Eddie Sanchez Your man is so happy to have a beautiful women like you.

Thomas Pelto omg ur so insanely sexy!!! make a porn movie!!

Alkimista Tincito you are a beautiful lady w my respect nice day cup cake

Erin Andrews ... a trend forming?

Erin Andrews, sports reporter, Fox News

Robert Schneider such a doll she is.

Nahu Manya X Siempre TITS! *-*

Craig Devereese miss hottie love that ass

John DeSalvo You dudes smoke a lot of crack. Girl is a 7 at best. Must be tough to live near you if that’s a 10. Wow.

Mike Metz suck a cock whore

Kristen Davis Martin Kinda manly if you ask me

Craig Devereese come on show that sexy ass more it,s beautiful like you erin

Kalai Kartik i whant fuck whit u baby….

Neekheel Maharjan r u virgin

... or Rachel Maddow.

Rachel Maddow, host of “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC

Daniel K. Griffith maddow ? man or woman ?

Matt Hinz SHe has the same haircut as a 10 year old boy

Kevin Immortal CR she looks like Sean Hannity’s son

Jacob Jeter lol this bitch is nasty. i didnt even know who she was until she attacked alex jones. lmao she says the dumbest shit while trying to make a mockery of the fact we should be carefully monitoring and gaurding our rights. fuck you nasty hag.

Libertarian Revenge As silly as your beliefs are, your a pretty sexy lady!

Bridgette Anne what handsome gentleman!

So, many of these women choose to highlight their femininity, and those that do receive demeaning comments about their bodies, hairstyles, etc. Rachel Maddow, who has chosen a more conservative look, is also lambasted for her appearance. She talked about it on the Ellen Show.

Women in politics don’t have it any better. Think back to ’08 when Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin where being scrutinized for their appearance. SNL captured it well.

The way women are represented by media is also the subject of a good documentary, called “MissRepresentation.” If you haven’t done so, you should check it out.

It seems that there are no good choices for women when it comes to representation. Top cut too low? You’re a slut. Turtleneck? You’re a prude. (Ask Laurie about the turtlenecks!)

Is there any good choice for my WinkyFace interview persona?? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Blogging well takes work

So, as you may or may not have noticed, I’m late with my weekly blog post this week.

The short answer to explain this is that it was finals week. I was pulled in a number of directions with giving and grading final exams and wrapping up the semester with parties and whatnot. ‘Hard work,’ you’re thinking. I know. Excuses.

But, the more thoughtful answer is that blogging well takes work. The truth is, I knew that I needed to write a post for some time. And, I had all kinds of thoughts on what to write about. First, I thought about writing about hash tagging after I saw this video.

Laurie and I were talking about creating unique-to-us hash tags that we could use on our Twitter feed. I thought initially that this would be something neat to blog about, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t have anything really profound to write about it.

Then I saw this YouTube Rewind 2013 vid…

… and I got to thinking:

1) how cool it was to see some of our fav YouTubers (Jenna Marbles, Ryan Higa, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon) featured in the vid.

2) how cool it would be to someday see WinkyFace in a YouTube Rewind vid. I mean, come on. If the Prancersize lady can make the vid, surely Laurie and I can create something that will capture attention in the YouTube community.

But, neither of those initial thoughts were good enough to warrant a whole blog post.

In the past week, Laurie and I have been doing a lot of projecting and planning to make sure that as we move forward, we have a clear sense of direction and purpose for this work. We’ve been thinking about everything from a video production schedule to a scholarship schedule. We’ve been making plans for future production assistants, research assistants, and even possible conference and book proposals. All are longer-term goals. But, I guess we haven’t been doing a lot of thinking about the immediate, outside of worrying that our grading is completed on deadline and the Christmas presents are bought and wrapped before Dec. 25.

The pressure to produce a thoughtful blog post really made me realize that I need to do a bit more thinking and planning for the short term, especially for Margin Notes. Great blog posts don’t always just materialize. When they do, it’s completely awesome. But when they’d don’t, well, it’s rough.

So, note to self: Make a monthly blog plan. If the plans change and one of those amazing blog posts does materialize from an interesting conversation or happening, then so be it. But if not, then at least I’ll have something in place to prevent the panic. As a communication professional, I know that planning is good practice. I guess I need to practice what I preach! 😉


So, yesterday, Laurie and I decided to do a little bit of experimentation with cameras, tripods, and acting abilities. We knew we weren’t quite ready to make our first official WinkyFace video, but we get that practice is essential to success.

We met in my office at about 9 a.m. We set up our tripods (that was pretty easy), powered up the cameras (also manageable), and began “rehearsing” (another story!) with the cameras rolling.

If having fun = success, we hit it out of the park. We had a great time, and we laughed … a lot. But we also learned a lot, too. Here’s a short list of some of the things we learned while practicing.

1. We need to practice.

2. Our camera skills could use some work.

3. We probably need an assistant (or two).

4. We’ve got to find a way to improve the quality of our videos (lighting, sound, etc.).

5. We’ve got to have a more solid plan for filming so as not to waste precious time.

So, we’re going to work on all of those things. We’ve already conned (OK, they agreed willingly) two awesome students into being our production assistants in the spring, so we can check #3 off the list.

I had so much fun working on editing this video. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy the process.  I stayed up until 2 a.m. last night working. Then, I dreamt about video editing in the short five hours of sleep I did get. And, I even woke up before my alarm wondering if my video had finished exporting! I’m a nut. But, I’m a storyteller at heart. Web video is just another cool medium for telling stories, and I’m excited to experiment more with it.

Until then, check out our video and let us know what you think by either commenting here or on YouTube. We’re not gonna lie. We’re a bit anxious about how this and any other videos we produce will be received and about the types of comments we’ll get. Laurie’s working on a post with more on that, so stay tuned.

😉 Linds

Feeling thankful

It’s Thanksgiving!

So, in lieu of a very serious and thought-provoking post (yeah, like I’m capable of those!), I’m just going to share why I’m thankful for WinkyFace. (BTW, I am thankful for many other blessings in my life, but here I’m just going to focus on WF, and really, since WF is me + Laurie, I’ll just tell you why I’m thankful that we’re friends!)

1) Laurie can always make me laugh.

Laurie: Are we good to meet and start filming next Thursday?

Me: Well, next Thursday is Thanksgiving.

Laurie: What, you mean you’re going to be busy?

2) She can laugh at herself.

Laurie laughing out loud, in the library, after we just finished reading aloud one of our WF video scripts: I love how we crack ourselves up!

3) She’s game for just about anything, like when a couple of years ago I said, “Hey, why don’t you come to Ireland with me on a Study Abroad trip?” (While riding those horses in Ireland, we had the wackiest conversation–about what life would be like in 2012 if we didn’t have cars and had to use horses to commute. You would not longer need gas stations, only apple stations. And where would you charge your iPhone or plug in your GPS?)


4) She’s rarely embarrassed to be goofy. (Yes, that’s her wearing a sandwich board … in Ireland.)


5) She’s always willing to help. Here she is being interviewed for my COMM 418: Electronic Storytelling and Documentary Production class’s major project on Marywood’s Centennial.


6) She’s never afraid (or at least she doesn’t show it when she is) to stand up for what she believes in. That’s inspiring. I want to be just like Laurie when I “grow up.”

I could go on. I’m thankful to work with Laurie and to count her as a friend. And, I’m thankful to be collaborating with her to bring you, our readers and viewers, WinkyFace. I’m thankful for all she does to help make WinkyFace a success.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with blessings and love. In the comments below, let us know what you’re thankful for!

😉 Lindsey

WinkyFace in perspective

I’ve been thinking about WinkyFace a lot this week. I’ve been thinking about:

–Laurie’s most recent post on the role of WinkyFace on the planet, a planet that frequently must deal with much more important things than silly YouTube videos

–My seemingly always-growing/never-ending to-do list, which includes many, many non-WinkyFace tasks

–Recent references to The Winky Face, or just winking, in popular culture that have made me laugh or smile

Examples of the latter:

  • “Are you kidding me, a winky face? That’s like Emoji porn!” –Morgan from The Mindy Project in the episode “You’ve Got Sext.” I have been searching to no avail to find you a clip. It just doesn’t exist on the Internets. I’m losing the faith. I did find this…


  • Elizabeth Banks, who plays Effie Trinket in “The Hunger Games,” was interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday night, and she spent a significant portion of her interview discussing winking and how she’s not very good at it (neither am I!). She and Jimmy laughed throughout the entire conversation.

How do all of these seemingly disconnected ideas come together to inspire this post? Well, I guess I’ve been thinking about the role of WinkyFace not only in the broader world (how it might impact YOU, our viewers), but also in my own personal world (how will this impact me?).

Laurie’s right about the role that humor plays in our lives, even in times of tragedy. If we don’t laugh, we’re likely to cry about some of the really crappy things that happen in our lives day in and day out. Having fun and laughing are important, and I’m certainly guilty of not taking enough time to do more of both.

From the start, I thought that tackling this project would be something that would challenge me and help me to learn new things. But, what I’ve been discovering is that it’s also been something that’s really, really fun and energizing.

As Laurie also mentioned, we’re both working professionals. WinkyFace certainly isn’t priority #1 on the to-do list, though it’s definitely in the top 10. And, as time has gone on, I find myself moving it closer and closer to the top of the list because it’s something that I look forward to working on.

A lot of my teacher work is time-consuming. Much of it causes me stress (even if it is stress I bring upon myself!).  WinkyFace is a project I really look forward to working on every week because it’s a change of pace from my everyday routine. Laurie and I have a designated “WinkyFace” meeting time–Thursday mornings in the library. And, every Wednesday night, I find myself anxiously anticipating Thursday morning. I feel so energized by this project.

They say that when you do what you love, it’s not work. Well, that’s only half true. I love teaching, but it’s a LOT of work. I love WinkyFace, but the reality is, a lot of what is required to take this from an idea into a reality is work–work that requires time, effort, and some serious thinking. But, I’m determined to keep WinkyFace in perspective and never to lose sight of why we began the project–to learn and to have fun in the process. When WinkyFace stops being fun, it’ll be time for us to call it quits.

In the meantime, I look forward to having fun with WinkyFace. I can’t wait to get started on producing our first videos. I’ve got the energy. Now I just need someone to add about 10 hours to the day so I can spend more time working on WinkyFace.

Tell us: If you had 10 extra hours in the day, how would you spend them?

😉 Lindsey

inspirations, pt 2.

Last spring, Laurie and I were sitting together at an Honor’s Program reception, and we got to talking with other faculty members about our research on Jenna Marbles, who is one of the most successful women on YouTube. Suddenly, Laurie turned to me with That Look in her eyes. Having worked with Laurie on projects now for the past three years, I knew That Look.

“I have a crazy idea.”

That’s what That Look said. What came out of her mouth was, “We should start our own YouTube channel!”

After thinking about it for a solid 10 seconds, I said, “OK.”

And so, WinkyFace was set in motion. We met several times over the summer to begin brainstorming what kind of channel we wanted to have, what kind of videos could we make, and whether pursuing this project was even a good idea.

After several cups of Zummo’s coffee on a not-too-warm early summer day, we had in front of us a list of video ideas and a timeline. Our channel would include vids that served as parodies on prof and college life, as well as parodies of interviews with literary characters. In both cases, we agreed that playing with stereotypes using parody and humor could be both fun and thought-provoking, even if goofy.

Our channel still didn’t have a name, so we went our separate ways with a singular task: brainstorm as many names as possible, share the ideas, and see if something stuck.

Nothing stuck.

Until Laurie suggested WinkyFace.

Rewind.  A few semesters earlier, I was telling Laurie a story about a conversation I had with students in my Communication Theory class. We were discussing Social Information Processing Theory–a theory that deals with the way people develop relationships both on and offline.The students and I got to talking, tangentially, about communicating via text messages. We were talking specifically about the use of emoticons. One of the students said, “Well, it’s never appropriate to use The WinkyFace. That’s way too suggestive.”

“Really??” I thought to myself? Standing there in front of the class, I started to sweat as I  almost immediately rethought every text message I’d ever sent, no doubt the 100s that included The Winky Face. Was it possible that people were mistaking my sarcastic or jokingly-intended Winky Faces for flirting? Could the students be right??

I did what any academic would do. I decided to research it.  I turned to one of the most trusted and credible sources on the Internets–The Urban Dictionary. Here’s just a sampling of the “definitions” I found there:

1. The secret code that means a girl wants your BLANK inside her, used mainly in text messages and Facebook chat.

2. Dirty dirty things.

3. Specific flirting mechanism never to be used by: family, old people, clergy members, uggos, etc. (Uggos?? I need a definition for my definition!)

Holy crap! Was this thing written by my students?

I needed a second, more credible source.


She agreed that when used in a rhetorical context, including texting, The Winky Face didn’t necessarily mean flirting, though it could.

That’s what I thought.


Clearly, The Winky Face is polysemic. But, the nature of this simple emoticon, the semi-colon + close parens, remained both intriguing and concerning.

Fast forward a couple of years, to our search for a YouTube channel name. What better way to sum up our goal–provoking thought about “professor life”  and popular literature using humor, sarcasm, and parody–than the very polysemic Winky Face. Like Monty Python’s “Nudge nudge, wink wink,” you know? We’re winking at you, the readers and viewers, giving you that elbow nudge and hoping that you’re in on the joke with us.

And, the name really sums us up as a duo. We’re doing this project to learn more about what it takes to launch a successful YouTube channel, but we intend to have a good time while doing it. So, The Winky Face is as much about our content as it is about us. The “X2” that we’ve added on our various addresses has made us distinct from other WinkyFace labels, and it reflects the collaboration that has been part of our project from the start.

Tell us what you think about The Winky Face in the comments below. How do you use it? Has it ever gotten you in trouble? Keep it clean, please!

Lindsey 😉

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