Always a Bridesmaid on The New Chitlin Circuit (Episode 4)

This week Syd & Lex reviewed rom-com, ‘Always a Bridesmaid’, written by Yvette Nicole Brown and directed by Trey Haley. Brown is known for her acting roles in television shows like Community and Drake & Josh. But she shows her chops as a film writer in the charming romance flick.

Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride?

Episode 4 of The New Chitlin Circuit, reviewing Always a Bridesmaid

Syd & Lex share their thoughts on modern romance and the anxiety to wed experienced by just about every 29-year-old, successful Romance protagonist. Lex is tired of hetero romances, but also cannot seem to stop watching them.

Syd’s Who Came to Ack Nominee of the Week:

Exclusive: Actress Yvette Nicole Brown Talks About Her ...
Jordan Calloway, as Mark Randall.

Learn more about The New Chitlin Circuit

Tune In Here!

Also find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Podchaser, or Google Podcasts!

Note from Lex: Syd and I are both quarantined in separate cities (DC and NY, respectively.) So we’re unable to record in the studio for a while. Bear with us while we perfect our remote recording.

Join the Discussion

Uncorked on The New Chitlin Circuit (Episode 3)

This week Syd & Lex reviewed the newly released ‘Uncorked’, written, directed, and produced by Prentice Penny. Penny is known for his work on the HBO show ‘Insecure’, but ‘Uncorked’ is his film debut. And what a debut it is!

Which type of White Wine are you?

Syd & Lex share their thoughts on this classic tale of a young man balancing his the pursuit of his dreams with the responsibility to his family. Niecy Nash, Courtney B. Vance, and Mamoudou Athie come together to make ‘Uncorked’ a heart-warming showcase of Black families.

Syd’s Who Came to Ack Nominee of the Week:

Courtney B. Vance Interview: On 'Uncorked,' Wine, And BBQ
Bro. Courtney B. Vance

Learn more about The New Chitlin Circuit

Tune In Here!

Also find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Podchaser, or Google Podcasts!

Note from Lex: Syd and I are both quarantined in separate cities (DC and NY, respectively.) So we’re unable to record in the studio for a while. Bear with us while we perfect our remote recording.

Join the Discussion

The New Chitlin Circuit Podcast is Live!

The New Chitlin Circuit, a podcast reviewing black indie, low-budget, and direct-to-tv black movies, is hosted by Syd and Lex.

What do chitlins have to do with movies?

The ‘Chitlin Circuit’ is a term used to describe a ring of performance venues where black entertainers could perform. Throughout American history this term has mainly referred to theatre and musical venues. But now independent black performers can showcase their work on streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Urban Movie Channel. This is what we call the new Chitlin Circuit. We started The New Chitlin Circuit as a place for independent Black films to receive the spotlight and appreciation they deserve.

What type of movies will we review?

While attending Howard University, Syd and I were roommates. And our favorite way to wind down on a Friday night was a tall glass of cheap Moscato (ahh, college) and the blackest movie we could find.

While many film buffs scoff at the Sister Codes and Boy Byes on the movie world, Syd and I love these feel-good flicks. But after finishing a movie like Plug Love, when I search the web to find the critical reception or the online conversation about the movie…there’s nothing. So The New Chitlin Circuit is our answer to that.

Black independent film comes in many genres and our goal is to highlight all kinds of black indies. So we’ll review the gangster movies, the rom-coms with Marques Houston, the arthouse dramas with Sundance buzz, and everything in between.

The Hosts


Syd is a native of Lithonia, GA and Howard Alum. She’s a proud member of the Beyhive, a Cheetah Girls enthusiast, and your local Black culture expert. While Syd is a professional Marketer, she moonlights as a free-trial scammer. Meet Syd!


Lex grew up in Metro Atlanta, but is (overly) proud of their country, Alabama roots. If Lex is chatting at a party, chances are they’re talking about public transit, a Tyler Perry movie, or some gay sh*t. Meet Lex!

Tune in every Monday to hear our review of the very best of Black independent movies!

Follow The New Chitlin Circuit on Twitter, Instagram, Apple Podcast, Podchaser, or Stitcher!

I Would Probably Be Great at Divorce

Like many people my age, I grew up laughing at reruns of The Wayans Bros. on MTV. And like many people I grew up with, I was a child of divorce. While casually watching NBC one night, I found a funny intersection of the two.

Marlon is a new sitcom driving Marlon Wayans’ quasi-comeback. In the show, Marlon’s character (bearing the same moniker) and his ex-wife Ashley (played by Essence Atkins) have a friendly divorce. Marlon frequently visits their two children, who both live with Ashley. Ashley and Marlon joke leisurely and co-parent with as much ease as a married couple would. The children seem to be satisfied and even benefiting from the non-traditional arrangement. This reminded me of my childhood.

The fictional family of Marlon: Ashley (ex-wife), Marlon, Zack (son), Marley (daughter) source:IMDb

As a Former Child

My parents were married for a few years before I was born. But their marriage ended when I was two years old. From then on, I lived with my mom and my two sisters (both from my mother’s previous relationships.) My father lived about a 15 minute drive away. He would come over occasionally to bring firewood, cut the grass, or just to eat dinner and make dad jokes. This carried on for most of my childhood. Until his job relocated him to Virginia when I was 14. We held a fairly steady correspondence, until he passed away when I was 18.

My parents were always open about their friendship, their marriage, and their divorce. In fact, the first thing I learned about their divorce was my mom telling they went out to dinner at Red Lobster after it was finalized. Of course there were the not-so-pretty details, like my father’s alcoholism and my mother’s controlling nature.

But, even in my fatherless household, I couldn’t quite relate to the “tragic” narrative TV shows always showed about children of divorce. And still to this day, I just don’t feel like I missed out on anything by not having an in-home father.

Nearly every household in my childhood community was lead by a single mother. That was all I had known as normal. The few lasting marriages I saw between my aunts and uncles were riddled with infidelity and a type of patriarchy that never sat right with me.

Image result for cosby show
The cast of The Cosby Show.

Consequently, as a child, I genuinely thought the happy, traditional two-parent home was just a made-up on TV fantasy. (see: Cosby Show, My Wife and Kids, etc.) Further, I thought the Child of Divorce trope was entirely fabricated as well. I didn’t get why children on TV were so bent out of shape over their parents’ divorce. I say that as a testament to how fulfilling my childhood was, not as a detractor from pain that divorced has caused many people. I would have been grateful to have seen a show like Marlon during my childhood.

As a Future Parent

Just like any other family structure, being raised by divorced parents came with some downsides and struggles too. Marlon doesn’t exactly capture some of those feelings. So, I look to Raven’s Home. In my childhood, Raven Symone was the star of another perfect TV family in her show That’s So Raven. But the actress has returned to Disney Channel in a TV show much more like my own childhood. Raven plays a single mother of two. She and her children live together with Raven’s best friend, Chelsea, and Chelsea’s son.

Image result for raven's home
From Raven’s Home

In episode 4, “The Bearer of Dad News,” Raven’s ex husband has to tell their kids that he’ll be moving to Texas and won’t see them as often anymore. The mood of the episode darkened and the children’s faces got long and sad. While I initially identified with the kid’s angst about the change, my attention shifted to the parents’ reactions.

As I get older and have more frank conversations with my mom, I uncover more of the details in my parents’ divorce. Now I can see how some of my parents’ smiles in front of me had just been tears and disagreements behind closed doors. In the same way, Raven’s Home showed how the adults handled tough times. Raven and the children’s father, Devon, had a heartfelt talk without the children around. They joked about having one last hurrah, then came to a solemn goodbye.

This episode was like peeping behind the veil of “grown folks business.” When I was a kid I didn’t understand how much effort it took for my parents to raise me while living apart and forging new relationships. But now that I’m slipping into adulthood, I recognize how hard my parents worked for my happiness. And I’m thankful that they worked so hard for it, especially my mother. Lastly I hope I have that same strength in raising my children, whether in marriage or divorce.


I never saw my parents kiss before they left for work in the morning.

Or join a couples’ book club.

Or wear matching outfits to church on Sundays.

But I value what I did see. I saw them calmly set aside their differences to buy the wacky toys on my Christmas lists. I saw them both at my rec-league basketball games, even though I played terribly. And I saw them love and respect each other outside of marriage. Seeing that has taught me things that I could use in my future marriage or, albeit, divorce.

Because I was raised in such a pleasant divorce, I can love and wed without the crippling fear of divorce. Because I know I can raise happy children and have a healthy family without being married. And because I’d probably be great divorce.

Why Do I Bother Her When I Know I Don’t Want Her?

SZA finally dropped her album, CTRL, which was apparently long-awaited by everyone but me. I had never been much of a SZA fan but after listening to CTRL, I am officially hooked.

Per usual, my review will be half musical assessment and half anecdotal narrative, based on the emotions and memories this music evoked.

CTRL had an encompassing effect on me, as if the emotions it stirred up within me came from all directions. While SZA sang about her damaging relationships with men, I thought about the times I’ve been hurt by men and even women in the same ways. But conversely I thought about the times when I was the one inflicting that same hurt on someone else.

On Being Hurt

The album starts with a clear theme, opening with dialogue from SZA’s mom speaking about losing control. Then SZA begins Supermodel with a faux sense power stating she’s leaving her man and his “shit.” But this quickly unravels as she poses a question in aside, “Why am I so easy to forget like that?” This spirals into a complete surrender of that control and deeply vulnerable proclamations:

“Leave me lonely for prettier women,
You know I need too much attention for shit like that.”

“I could be your super model if you’d let me.”

And a repeated, “I need you.”

-SZA, from “Supermodel” on CTRL

Needless to say, I was neck-deep in my feelings after just the first song. The same vulnerability can be heard on Anything when SZA begs the question, “Do you even know I’m alive?” along with a penetrating stomp-and-clap feel.

The tenderness of these lyrics spun me back to my late teens, when most of my love was unrequited and most of my love interests were the type of dirty men SZA mentions on Broken Clocks.

Ironically, the sorest memory I have on being ignored and emotionally manipulated was done by a woman, not the boys I chased in high school. We hit it off during a school visit over the summer leading up to freshman year. In the Fall, we arrived on campus and we both quickly found out she was out of my league. Then she started to govern her actions accordingly. Occasionally she’d play into my funky little feelings to get what she wanted out of me, which was usually small things like weed, a borrowed jacket, a Big Gulp from 7/11.

Once she randomly asked me to hold her hand while we were out with friends. I thought I was #inthere. But I noticed she kept glancing at another girl in the group, a girl she’d been involved with. She only wanted to hold my hand to make the other girl jealous. If only SZA had dropped CTRL for me back then. A little while later I finally let go of that hopeless crush. Then I started dating women who actually liked me, and whom I inadvertently hurt.

On Hurting Others

Already drowning in my feelings after Track 1, silly of me to think SZA would let up on the next song. While I was busy swaying to the melody, SZA snuck in and hit me with the question of the century on Love Galore.

“Why You bother me when you know you don’t want me? Why you bother me when you know you got a woman? Why you hit me when you know you know better?

-SZA, from “Love Galore” on CTRL

Apparently I wasn’t the only one affected by the lyrics (see video below.)

So after listening to the song, I really sat down and wondered: Why do I bother her when I know I don’t want her? The “her” in the question being the women I’ve led on (both intentionally and not.) And the answer to question being, shallow selfishness.

Fast forward 3 years from that embarrassing, freshman year crush. I’ve recently found myself in the pattern of entertaining women I’m hardly compatible with for the sake of it. My last romance was a brief fling of this nature. I knew after the first date I had no romantic interest in her, yet I kept dating and having sex with the girl. That was wrong and immature of me. And now every time I pick up my phone to text an old flame or message a new Tinder match who I know I have no intentions of actually dating, I hear SZA ask me “Why you bothering her?”

The song that struck even deeper with me was 20 Something. It was SZA who begged,

“Why you ain’t say you was getting bored? Why you ain’t say I was falling short?”

-SZA, from “20 Something” on CTRL

But I heard it in the voice of my first love, who cried the same questions to me at the end of our relationship. We were together for about a year. I became overwhelmed and was not emotionally mature enough to know it, let alone communicate it. So I checked out of our relationship mentally. I heard “Why don’t you take me out any more?” and, “When was the last time you touched me?” many times but didn’t take the chance to come clean.

I continued our relationship after having fallen out of love with him, while he laid next to me every night under the assumption I was being honest. It took nearly an entire year post-breakup just to forgive myself for hurting him that badly. SZA went right on ahead and dug all those feelings up too.

The album has a tidy ending, with SZA’s mom wrapping up her sentiments on control and SZA thanking her. CTRL felt like a conversation between mother and daughter, obviously, but also between SZA and her situationship-chasing younger self. I was moved by her vulnerability; I feel like I grew with her through this music.

Master of Coming Out at Waffle House


Master of None is a scripted dramedy on Netflix, created by Aziz Ansari. I wasn’t very moved by the first season, and stopped watching about half-way through. But I was drawn back in by a relatable episode following Denise Watkins, played by Lena Waithe, as she navigates being the only lesbian in her family. Throughout the episode, I noticed just how similar my story was to Denise’s. 

Her story reminded me of the day I came out to my mom at our favorite Waffle House. I always love writing about stories that make me feel less alone in my experiences. But the true reason I wrote this piece is for the people in my life who weren’t there to see me cry over a pecan waffle, unsure of whether I’d still have my family’s love and support after my tears dried. And for anyone who may not be able to come out quite yet. So, let’s begin.


The episode catalogs Thanksgiving dinner in the Watkins’ house through the years. In childhood, Denise was a Regular Kid™. The only visible deviation about her was her preference for sporty clothes and her distaste for the frilly confines of the skirts her mom picked out for her. 

Like my mother, Denise’s mom (played by the amazing Angela Bassett) only gently attempted to correct this behavior, mostly hoping her daughter would outgrow it. Besides, at that point, neither Denise nor I knew we could be gay.

Teenage Years

The episode then jumps to Thanksgiving during Denise’s high school years. Denise and Dev (Aziz’s character) smoke weed in Denise’s bedroom while her mom and aunt were preparing dinner downstairs.

(Sidenote: Now I might be brave enough to come out as a lesbian, but I was never reckless enough to light more than a candle in my mom’s house. I probably wouldn’t be alive to tell that story anyhow.)

As Denise slumps hazily on her bed, she ogles up at a poster of Jennifer Aniston. I guess having a bedroom covered in gorgeous actresses and no male heartthrobs was also something Denise’s mom assumed to be benign. When gazing lustfully at the poster, Denise still doesn’t quite have language for what she feels in the moment.

While I can’t relate to gazing at Jennifer Aniston, I was more of a Nia Long and Sanaa Lathan kinda girl, this is a common experience among lesbians.

I went years having inexplicable fascinations with certain women, before realizing those thinly guised “girl-crushes” were actually just attraction. It finally registered that I liked women during senior year of high school when my fantasies about a girl-crush were no longer platonic-passing. It was an aha moment, “Whoa, I wanna be her girlfriend.” But alas, I stayed in the closet until college.

College and Coming Out

When I went off to College, I was far enough from home to just be out and openly date women. Presumably the same was true for Denise. On a visit back home, Denise is eating at a diner with her mom. Then, her mom casually throws in a,

“At least you’re not pregnant,”

to go along with a,

“Dating any boys, yet?” or my all-time favorite,

“When you get a husband…”

Denise swallows hard and just spits out, “Ma, I’m gay.”

What resonated most with me was that Denise’s mom responded almost exactly like mine. My mom casually asked, “Anything hot on the press?” (which is how we ask each other what’s new.)

I answered like I had rehearsed a million times, “Yeah, I’m dating someone……a girl.”

Almost as if Angela Bassett sat in that very Waffle House, she acted out my mom’s reaction to a tee. She kept her composure, mostly. And rationalized how absurd of an idea having a gay daughter was to her.

Coming out to my mom wasn’t violent or more traumatizing than any other day as a lesbian in this society. She made sure to tell me I was an abomination but she didn’t see me differently, a response that she seemed to only half-believe. I’m still not sure which half.

Bring Her Home to Mama?

The last segment shows the first time Denise brings her girlfriend to Thanksgiving and how her family reacts. Unfortunately I don’t have a personal piece to add to that because I haven’t had the chance to eat Thanksgiving dinner with a woman I love.

By the end of the episode, Denise’s mom comes around to accept her daughter, and even bonds with Denise’s girlfriend. I can only hope for the same outcome.

It’s been two years since I came out to my mother. I’m not ashamed any more. I’m certainly afraid not any more. And I’m not in the closet any more…to anyone. I don’t know if this’ll make my next few Thanksgiving dinners awkward. But I do know, if someone claims they love me I shouldn’t have to meet any more criteria than just being myself.  And I do hope this’ll get me out of some of those, “Got a boyfriend yet?” conversations.

New Lessons Learned: Social Media Videos Redux

Since taking on the video work for The New Chitlin Circuit podcast, my perspective on the must-haves for a social media promotional video have changed slightly. These new lessons are additions to the ones I shared in the first version of this post.


If the TikTok kids have taught me anything, it’s the importance of music in a video, either as a background noise or as part of the narrative itself.

Above: an older, music-free version of my videos. Social media video to promote The New Chitlin Circuit’s review of “Back to the Goode Life”

Right: New version of video with music. Social media video to promote The New Chitlin Circuit’s review of “School Dance”

Forget the Spoken Audio

As stated in the prior post, the lengthiest part of the editing process is finding the right podcast clip. So why not just skip that step all together?

The new goal of the promo videos is not to promote the podcast, but primarily to promote the film being reviewed on the podcast.

Left: New video format, without podcast audio. Social media video to promote The New Chitlin Circuit review of “Farewell Amor”

Add a Progress Bar

For videos longer than 15-20sec, a progress bar helps retain the viewer. Let the viewer know how much of their time you’re asking for.

Left: Example of progress bar use. Social media video to promote The New Chitlin Circuit review of “The Light Between Us”

Splurge on the Graphics

The biggest improvement in my video work has been in the motion graphics and transitions. Along with getting stronger at keyframing out my own graphics, I’ve really learned the value of purchasing motion graphic packs. It gives the video a much more polished look.

The old, endcard graphic simply displayed The New Chitlin Circuit logo. While the new one provides more actionable information for the viewer stream the podcast and watch the movie.

Left: Example of an original graphic endcard, designed by me. Social media video to promote The New Chitlin Circuit review of “Cold, Hard Truth”

And the best part of all the lessons I’ve learned so far is…that I’m still learning! Always will be.

Keep Up with My Video Work

Storytelling Through Editing: Podcast Cold Opens

After setting a standard structure for each episode of The New Chitlin Circuit, we deciced to open each episode with a humorous cold open to introduce the movie we’re reviewing and set the tone of the episode.

While recording, the cold open is loosely tied and might even be mis-timed. But the editing process is where I’m able to tighten these punchlines and deliver an attention-grabbing opener.

The cold open is typically written and performed by my co-host, Sydney. As an editor I’m tempted to push Sydney toward tighter takes, in order save myself time during the editing process. But as co-producer and co-host, I understand the importance of allowing for a more free-flowing creating process; one not weighed down by trying to record the perfect take. Because of this, the edited cold opens on The New Chitlin Circuit are a dramatic difference from the raw, unedited track.

See below for examples.

Editing for Clarity: “One Last Thing”

A simple example of a cold open on The New Chitlin Circuit. The extent of edits required for this episode were cutting out some breaths and gaps in the audio. The purpose of the editing here was to increase clarity and speed, no flair or frills on this take.

Raw Track
Edited Track

Editing for the Punchline: “School Dance”

For the review of this outrageous comedy, this cold open needed the same humor and whimsy. These edits include the same cuts for clarity, but also some audio effects and sound bytes to land the punchline.

Raw Track
Edited Track

Editing for Spoof: “I’m in Love with a Church Girl”

Because this film starred 2000s music stars, Ja Rule and Adrienne Bailon, my co-host spoofed an old radio ad for a concert. After digging up some of those old radio ads, I was able to isolate the sounds and pacing that create that sound. The raw take was nearly perfect, save for some giggling. But adding some reverb to the vocal track, lacing in the songs, and adding transitions sounds really stuck the spoof.

Raw Track
Edited Track

Editing and Producing: “Lone Star Deception”

Another fun example of ad spoofing. Like the last example, I had to research radio ads to understand the sound design. This edit is inspired by Texas-based ads for gun shops or rodeos; with fast-paced banjos, eagle squawks, and a well-placed “Yeehaw!”

I choose this example, also, to showcase the need for some producing and direction. To faciliate a relaxed creative environment, I typically refrain from over-instructing my co-host. But in this instance, I could envision the finished product and a second take was needed to achieve it.

Raw Track
Edited Track

20sec Storytelling: Social Media Videos

Each week after recording and releasing The New Chitlin Circuit, we’re still tasked with promoting that content. This requires finding the right 20 seconds out of nearly an hour long review.

Audiograms are commonplace for podcast promotion, but in truth, when is the last time you actually listened to a full audiogram? Or shared one on your own feed?

So a visual component is needed. Luckily for The New Chitlin Circuit, the topic of our content is inherently visual: movies. And with our mission to uplift and engage Black indie filmmakers, what better way to do so than using the promotional trailers from the Black indies we cover?

My challenge each week is to find an engaging <20sec sound bite, and pair it with an interesting edit of the film’s trailer. The challenge keeps me busy, but it is quite rewarding to see a video contribute to a spike in listenership or spark a discussion online.

Lessons Learned in Video Editing for Social Media

  1. Always create content with a goal and target viewer in mind.
  2. Captions, always.
    • For Twitter: Larger captions, placed higher in frame work best.
  3. Keep it simple. Make one point with each video. One thing the viewer is supposed to remember.
  4. Square (1×1) sizing is optimal for most platforms, but best for Instagram.

Above: Social media video to promote The New Chitlin Circuit’s review of “Back to the Goode Life”

Right: Social media video to promote The New Chitlin Circuit’s review of “Angrily Ever After”

More Videos

Learning Design: Concept Rendering

“Do not seek praise, seek criticism.”

-Paul Arden

Left: 1st Attempt at rendering this product / Right: About 10th attempt at rendering

There is nothing quite satisfying as completing a project! My journey with sketching and rendering has been fun, and equally frustrating. But through so many online tutorials and harsh Reddit (r/IndustrialDesign) criticism, I’ve progressed faster at this set of skills than I ever have at anything else.

Hence this post’s quote up top. Seeking criticism, no matter how harsh is truly a difference maker. This rendering isn’t perfect; the glass could be smoother, the staging and photography of the products could be much more engaging and communicative. But it is complete!

Inspiration for my Blender render

This design is a trend I’ve noticed on Pinterest, and served as good rendering practice. The next set of products I render will be an original design.

Learn with me.

Learning Design: Finish the Sketch

Left: Concept sketches I only spent 15min on. Right: 3D model of the concept, I’ve spent 2 weeks on.

Like many creatives, I am easily excited by shiny, new toys. I came up a bright wine glass design to solve a common problem. So I quickly sketched a few concepts, none of them quite capturing the vision.

I then skipped every other step in the design process, and jumped straight to modeling a prototype. I began learning Blender, a 3D modeling software. I made about a dozen unsatisfactory models. I got hung up on small kinks and learning to navigate the software.

But the actual reason none of the models rendered the way I wanted them to is because my vision wasn’t clear. And I should have stuck to my pen/paper until the sketches accurately captured my vision.

The entire effort wasn’t a waste, however. I did learn the basics of modeling and rendering photo-realistic designs in Blender. I’ll just be sure to flush out my design before attempting to prototype.

Learn with me.

Learning: The Design Process

In this time at home, I completed a 6 week course on product design. The course was a perfect introduction to idea-generation, user research, sketching, and prototyping for product design. Over the 6 weeks, I developed a product solution for a problem I identified in my own user experience. See my journey through the design process below!

The Problem Statement

Create a durable, yet simple way to attach bike locks to bike frames.

I’m an avid cyclist, as such I have owned many U-Locks. The mechanism which attaches the lock to the frame has always been a hassle for me. It slips over time. It’s a pain to attach. It can be better.

Defining User Needs

The primary needs for the attachment mechanism are as follows:

The attachment is durable.

The attachment is more convenient than that permanently attaching items to the bike frame.

The attachment is aesthetically pleasing.

The attachment is installed easily.

The attachment is sturdy.

! The attachment can be locked to avoid theft of the attached item.

The attachment does not wear or damage the item which it is attaching.

The attachment is compatible with U-locks.

Each of the listed needs break out into more specific needs, totaling over 30 individual needs that the end product should meet. This formatting is quite useful for organizing needs after conducting user research. Click here for the full list of needs.

Weighing Alternatives

There are many different ways to do this part of the design process. The way that was taught in the course was to decompose the problem into individual parts. Then brainstorm many different solutions for each small part. So coming up with alternatives is just a matter of combining the small ideas into one. Click here to see how I weighted alternatives.

Pencil Sketch to Digital Render

Final Prototype

Admittedly, this infographic isn’t perfect. But the focus was to clearly show the digital sketch of the prototype, and clearly describe the problem and the needs. The subpar infographic is a great segue into my next frontier of design; visual/digital design! Applying the lessons from this course, on how to conduct a full design process will certainly help in my next phase.

Beginning in Design

“Every great design begins with an even greater story.”

-Lorinda Mamo, Designer

Drawing a water bottle.

Left: My first sketch, Day 1. Right: Sketch of the same object, Week 5.

This post marks the start of my formal Design journey. Those words were chosen carefully, to avoid conflating my start on this journey with my start at designing. I’ve been designing for as long as I can remember.

Now, I’m following my own curriculum to polish my innate design capabilities with design fundamentals. The first step in that coursework is designing the tangible, and designing for function. And the first part of designing tangible objects is sketching. I’ve always titled myself, “Bad at Drawing.” But after learning a few principles, such as 2-point perspective, I’ve been able to create clear sketches of basic objects!

While I’m positive I can pick up these concepts and strengthen my design skills, the most important portion of my curriculum is sharing my designs publicly. I’m looking forward to the criticism I’ll (hopefully) receive from more experienced designers and non-designers alike. This running portfolio is a way to share my designs, hold myself accountable, and easily compare my growth over time.

If all goes well, my future self will find these sketches embarrassing and un-recognizable.

‘John Henry’ on The New Chitlin Circuit (Episode 9)

This week Syd & Lex reviewed the highly discussed action movie ‘John Henry’, written and directed by newcomer Will Forbes. The movie stars Terry Crews and Ludacris, who play two cousins slash nemeses.

The movie is loosely based on the African American folk tale by the same name, about a hard-working, hammer-swinging man named John Henry.

Like a 90s Ganagsta movie…but with a hammer


Syd & Lex share their thoughts on their childhood memories of this folktale. Lex gives credit to Director Forbes for the quality direction, despite the weakness of the story.

Syd’s Who Came to Ack Nominee of the Week:


This is not a typo, Sydney nominated herself for the Who Came to Ack award this week. Tune in to hear this unprecedented event.

Learn more about The New Chitlin Circuit!

Tune In Here!

Also find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Podchaser, or Google Podcasts!

Note from Lex: Syd and I are both quarantined in separate cities (DC and NY, respectively.) So we’re unable to record in the studio for a while. Bear with us while we perfect our remote recording.

Join the Discussion