Writing Snippets from Madelyn


I’ve always loved Issuu as a way to showcase writing or page designs, and now the site has gotten a bit of an update. I thought I’d share a few writing samples via Issuu as well. View them here!

You can view the rest on my Work Samples Page. Enjoy!


The Results Are In: Runners Up in the Biscuitville Brand Your Biscuit Competition!

Photo by Rachel Southmayd

My roommates and I, as mentioned in my last post, formed a team called G.R.I.T.S. (Girl Roommates in the South) to create our very own biscuit, The Southern Sunrise. It was a part of the extremely fun Brand Your Biscuit competition held by Biscuitville.

As finalists in the competition, we were invited to attend this past Monday’s Business and Biscuits Breakfast in a penthouse ballroom in the Center Pointe building in Greensboro. It was STUNNING. Golden walls, gorgeous city views and trays of fresh biscuits awaited us as we anticipated the results of the competition. We also got to speak with local entrepreneurs and business professionals in our fields of interest, which was such a treat and a nice bonus of the breakfast.

When it came time to announce the winners, we were announced as the runners up and winners of Best Video! We attribute the video’s success to the catchy jingle we created on our couch back in March. We had a lot of fun making up the rhymes to that one and putting together the final product.

Along with our runner up status, we received $500 toward Elon. We were pleasantly surprised and can’t wait to donate the money to our wonderful college (and our home for just one more month)!


Fun with G.R.I.T.S. (Girl Roommates in the South) – The Biscuitville Brand Your Biscuit competition

Biscuitville is a North Carolina-based breakfast chain that serves up delicious, homemade Southern classics including many types of scratch-made biscuits, hashbrowns, grits, pancakes, muffins and more. Their coffee is also wonderful.

I got an e-mail from a professor earlier this year about the Biscuitville Brand Your Biscuit competition, a contest open to North Carolina college students to submit a new product for their menu – specifically a product that could appeal to a younger demographic. I immediately sent a mass text to my three other roomies asking if they’d like to form a team. Everyone got on board! Our team name was our favorite part – G.R.I.T.S. (Girl Roommates in the South).

The contest was also appealing to us because it went along with our respective majors. Two of us are studying journalism, and two are studying marketing, and we all love Biscuitville. It seemed like a great fit!

The product we came up with was the Southern Sunrise biscuit, a biscuit with a fried grits patty, bacon and cheese. We did a small-scale Facebook poll to help decide which meat to use, and not surprisingly, bacon came out with a win (quite typical for us college folk)!


We also looked at their current menu and pricing to make sure we weren’t straying too far from the down-home, Southern Biscuitville line-up.

We submitted an online form for the first portion of the contest, and soon came an e-mail that we’d advanced to the semi-finals. We then made a video for round two. We had a BLAST making it, and we even wrote a cheesy yet memorable jingle.

And recently, folks, we were named finalists! We were thrilled and honored to be able to give a presentation at the corporate offices of Biscuitville, and now we await the final decision (to be announced on Monday April 8)! In the mean time, enjoy our video above and our presentation (link below).

Prezi presentation


Go Local! { The North Carolina 10% Campaign }

nc 10 percent

The NC 10% Campaign is an initiative started at North Carolina State University to encourage businesses and residents to buy more locally produced foods.

People can take the pledge on their website to buy roughly 10% of their food locally, and in doing so they join the movement to stimulate their city’s economy and help the hardworking food producers who live a stone’s throw away from them.

Not to mention, local foods are fresher, healthier and haven’t traveled hundreds of miles to get to you. It’s not that much more expensive to buy, and the products are more diverse and in season. What’s not to love?

As a part of our Environmental Communications course, we made a video promoting the NC 10% Campaign’s efforts. It was recently featured on Planet Forward’s website – enjoy!

Movie Review: ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’

A recent movie review for The Pendulum‘s Style Blog, élan:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Quvenzhane Wallis stars as Hushpuppy in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” The film is nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. Photo courtesy of MCT Campus.

Captivating. Moving. Poignant. Emotional.

Beasts of the Southern Wild,” directed by Benh Zeitlin, is a movie infused with passion, both from the actors and the brains behind the film’s production. It debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and it’s gained a spirited and growing fanbase ever since. Its vibrant child star, Quvenzhane Wallis, was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award, and the film itself was recently nominated for an Academy Award in three other categories: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s easy to see why.

The movie is set in a makeshift community in the bayou of Louisiana. It’s called the “Bathtub”, and it’s faced with a constant threat of flooding. This tight-knit cast of characters is mostly neglected by the “civilized” folk who live on the other side of the levee, but they don’t see that as an obstacle to their well-being. What other people call poverty they call everyday life, and they embrace it.

Wallis, who plays Hushpuppy, lives in the Bathtub with her father Wink, played by newcomer Dwight Henry. She’s motherless, her father’s health is declining and he verges on being abusive. But Hushpuppy has a brilliantly curious and strong mind, and she’s determined to make sense of her seemingly small life and find where she connects to the big world outside.

And boy, does she face some obstacles. There are situations I could never imagine being put in — mega storms, accidental house fires, a constantly shifting home life — but Hushpuppy’s resilience is always there as a cornerstone of the movie. She finds connections between people and the universe that most kids would overlook, and it’s truly inspiring. The movie even toys with the idea of mythical creatures that seem to be created straight from Hushpuppy’s 5-year-old mind. This was one portion of the movie that wasn’t as clear to me, but maybe that means it deserves a second look.

Wallis and Henry do a phenomenal job in their roles. They were both newcomers from Louisiana before being cast in the film. Henry, specifically, was recruited while he still worked in a mom-and-pop restaurant near New Orleans. He had a spark the director was looking for, and he brought a certain rawness to every scene he was in. It’s quite impressive. His acting undoubtedly drew on his own experience in Hurricane Katrina — he was there in neck-high waters, and he felt the emotional toll of that disaster. And Wallis is spunky and fearless. She is someone you can’t help but root for.

The film is also shot beautifully, with energy and whimsical imagery packed into each sequence. It’s certainly not a comedy, and it’s not a feel-good flick, but it has elements of both woven into the plot. You feel like you’re dipping your toes in something a little deeper, like you’re in Hushpuppy’s young but wise shoes trying to figure out the world. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is refreshing, daring, heartbreaking and magnificent.

The Pendulum‘s rating: 4/5 stars

[View original post here]

Dowd of The New York Times talks daddy issues and the human side of politics

  1. In the Elon University Baird Pultizer Prize Lecture just one day after the elections, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd shared a witty account of her political observations as a journalist and Washington, D.C. native. 
  2. Since her start at Times in 1983 and the launch of her Op-Ed column in 1995, Dowd has become known for weaving humor and on-point analysis of political figures in her pieces.
  3. J_Black13
    “Her analysis about power cuts across partisan lines” – Prof. Barnett #DowdatElon #COM110elon
  4. KyraGemberling
    “Ms. Dowd is very careful with her words, but she has a critical and irreverent approach to talking about those in power.” #DowdatElon
  5. MadelynS
    A snapshot of @NYTimesDowd ‘s Sunday column. Search through her past pieces to find some gems http://pic.twitter.com/BNZmlst5
  6. Dowd says her column, featured in the Sunday Review of the Times’ Opinion Pages, is often hard to write.

    “I never feel it’s good enough,” she said. And she stressed that more often than not, it’s a terrifying process. She said she has to double check any references she makes or puns she dreams up, for fear that her idea has already been used online.
    because of blogging and tweets, it’s like the French Revolution,” she said. “The people
    have taken over. You have to think, how can you think of something that a 20 year-old in San Diego hasn’t already said better, and faster?”

  7. rebeccaiannucci
    Maureen Dowd says it takes “sheer fear” to write a good column. #DowdAtElon
  8. Just how does Dowd hone in on those original ideas – of which she estimates she has two per year – to peak readers’ interest? 
    She said she focuses on the personal. The nuances and underlying factors of political leaders’ actions and the more hidden parts of their personas. For example, the concept of “daddy issues.”
    “I have daddy issues,” she says. “But they’re not my own. Presidential
    campaigns have an underlying paternal theme. Voters look for father figures of
  9. rebeccaiannucci
    Maureen Dowd’s lecture examines the patriarchal nature of the U.S. presidency. #DowdAtElon
  10. Dowd says the nation’s male political leaders are also the ones who look for approval from father figures or, in the case of President Barack Obama, a way to potentially make up for their father’s shortcomings. Dowd mentioned her closeness to George Bush, Sr. during his term as president and how his son and future president George W. Bush had a loving but competitive relationship with him.

    “W felt he
    had to outshine his father,” she said. “He used his
    father as a reverse playbook: if he avoided all his father’s moves, he would
    get the second term his father never had.”

    Obama’s own lack of a paternal presence in his life and Romney’s credit to his father for inspiring his political career pointed to an underlying theme of paternal impact on politicians, Dowd said.

  11. Elizabeth_CMN
    RT @caitlinod319: #DowdAtElon: Before every debate, Mitt Romney placed a paper simply saying”dad” on his podium, as a reminder of his father’s influence.
  12. “Obama grew up in the shadow of his father’s absence,” she said.

    But she added Obama’s election to the presidency in 2008 and his subsequent re-election last night prove that he overcame what many would consider great odds to be able to call 1006 Pennsylvania Ave. his home. 

    “That’s why the president sometimes get faulted for not thanking donors as much,” she said. “He fiercely clings to the narrative that he made it on his own.”

    Dowd said appreciates the opportunity to dig deeper into “what makes presidents tick,” even though she is occasionally called out for it. 

  13. Obama once spoke to her on a plane from Paris to Berlin and told her, “You’re irritating.”

    “That wasn’t the answer I was looking for,” she said.

    Even with resistance from politicians past and present to Dowd’s “psychoanalysis” of their lives, as she puts it, she continues to pry, bringing necessary, critical and often amusing looks at the political figures people think they know.

    “It’s very hard to understand who a President really is,” she says, “Given all of the image shapers today. Trying to get into the heads of powerful narcissistic leaders is a bit like being a president’s shrink.”

In 2011 ‘Summer of Superheroes,’ box office has a lot to prove

by Madelyn Smith
May 14, 2011
An opinions article written for The Pendulum.

Whether your summer plans involve babysitting eight hours a day, vacationing with friends or racking up valuable experiences at an internship, everyone will be sure to find just what they’re looking for at this summer’s box office.

And superhero and science fiction movie fans, you’re in luck.

The May to August season of summer movies, dubbed the “Summer of Superheroes” by Entertainment Weekly Magazine, is largely made up of sci-fi and action-packed plots, supernatural storylines and comic-based tales.

But there’s not a ton of originality as far as movie concepts are concerned.

There are several sequels of mega-successful movie series —”Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Cars 2,” “The Hangover 2,” “Transformers 3″— and many of the other action films are based on long-running Marvel and DC comics.

Movie makers are creating countless sequels and bringing comic characters to life because they know these movies will sell.

Take “Thor,” the new movie based on the ripped superhero who thrives in thunderstorms and who made his mainstream debut in comic books in the early 1960s. Fans will have the opportunity to feast their eyes on the epic, blond and broody action hero in the coming weeks as the movie opened Friday, May 6. As of Monday, “Thor” had already raked in $242 million worldwide.

And the remaining summer months will also have their fair share of comic book film adaptations “X-Men: First Class,” “Green Lantern,” “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Conan the Barbarian” will all be released before Aug. 19. The 2012 year has even more hero movies lined up, including “The Avengers” and “The Dark Night Rises.”

There are undoubtedly tons of comic book characters filling up the silver screen this summer, as they have for many summers. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The sci-fi and superhero fanbase is a very visible one, with massive conventions like Comic-Con held each year to bring hardcore fans together. Box office sales for past superhero movies are impressive. In 2002, the first “Spider-Man” grossed $403,706,375 in the U.S., and in 2010, “Iron Man” racked up $312,433,331.

Our society has proven that it loves larger-than-life, heroic figures who, while often dressed in ridiculous costumes, are fighting for a worthy cause.

Many of the hardcore fans first loved the comic book versions of their favorite heroes’ adventures. These film fanatics will be at the heart of this summer of superheroes, but the rest of the movie-going population may not be as impressed.

Not everyone wants to see movies filled with 3-D, CGI and lightning-fast edits designed to make the heart race. And not everyone wants to see remake after remake of old films. But moderation is the key to making summer movie fans happy.

Entertainment Weekly suggests balancing the slew of action-packed superhero films with more “modestly budgeted dramas or comedies,” which have included movies like “Juno” and “The King’s Speech.” These movies may not have been instant hits, but they certainly developed devoted followings with gradual box office success.

If studios are continuing to produce prequels, sequels and remakes, they should carefully consider which movies they plan to remake. It will be interesting to see if this summer’s “The Smurfs” or “Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World” — yes, they’re still making those — experience much success.


For many, summer is a much-needed break to recharge, or at least a period of three months when moviegoers have more free time. Filmmakers recognize the surge from May to August, and have always designed summer movies to impress and to serve as a nice getaway.

That’s why so many superhero movies, fluffier animated films, romantic comedies and epic action flicks are packed into a three-month period. On a sweltering day in mid-July, a group of high school students looking for a good time is not going to opt for a heavy historical drama, especially if they have to pay $9 for it.

Big-name studios, here is a suggestion: mix in a few other kinds of films and more original scripts to cater to quality film lovers, because, while they’re a much smaller group, they’re your customers, too.