The Muslim Orange


Today, I am grateful that this ginormous zit on my chin is the biggest problem in my life right now.

The Muslim Orange


Sorry WordPress friends, no actual post, just exploiting my blog for a massive epic to-do list.

  1. File internship packet for Orlando Sentinel (Spring 2012) and Washington Post (Summer 2012)
  2. Procure letters of recommendation
  3. Meet with group at Panera 10 a.m. for Documentary Workshop
  4. Read assigned reading for Documentary Workshop
  5. Read assigned reading for Metro Reporting
  6. Read assigned reading for Art of Cinema
  7. Complete editing for SDS
  8. Edit article for CFF
  9. Adapt excerpts from Foundations of Production blog into a screenplay
  10. Refresh knowledge of how to write a screenplay
  11. Baby-sit four little girls Saturday
  12. Update resume
  13. Revamp MSA general info flier

TO-DO list for near future:

  1. Scan clips on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper
  2. Write autobiographical essay
  3. Fill out application for WP
The Muslim Orange

Directing – Art of Cinema

You can have a director who is a microcontroller.

You may have a director who is very reliant on his DP (Director of Photography)

As a first time director, you are going to be very reliant on your cinematographer. Everything you see in Citizen Kane was credited to the cinematographer. This relationship can be defined in a number of ways.

If you look on the left, you can see how these overlap or don’t. There is a synergistic relationship between the director and the editor. I don’t have a position on sound design.

So the first chapter, you are going to read is called “mise-en-scene.”

It is a very slippery term, very overused.

Yellow: Director

Blue: Cinematographer

Red: Editing

Green: Sound Design

Left: Directing in the Past

Right: Directing in the Present

Mise-en-scene: Staging the scene, The Shot: what is in the frame (composition) A style of long duration shots that places itself in opposition to editing.

Is that what directing means? It depends.

How many editing decisions are built into that relationship. Let’s say a director is loosely responsible for putting something on the camera. Let’s say you don’t have a choice, what decisions do you have to make? You have to decide it’s going to start here and ends here. Two decisions. Closely fused.

The director should be in control of the composition of the shot. 

shot: One uninterrupted run of the camera (on-off)

Don’t confuse with: Take – the number of times a shot is taken Setup – one camera position/movement from which the same shot is shot (may be many)

This raises a question. What kind of frame are we going to use? There are a lot of choices. 1:33:1 “Academy Ratio” This is historically how film was exposed. That was the old standard.

The Shining was shot 1:33:1

Now we have a fusion of possibilities. 16:9 is the standard for HD. It is the de-facto standard. Historically once they broke out of the 1:33:1 mode, you get into really wide screens. Just understand there is a range.

How would you make a choice, what are the aesthetic issues? Why would you shoot in widescreen? My students say it looks cool.

Let’s say our screen looks a 16:9 screen. you are going to have to letterbox it. So who wants to answer the basic question? What do you get? There are a lot of reasons to choose, maybe the character is in an oppressed space. You have to go back to your roots in art theory.

Composition, Principles of Design (from traditional art theory) We are going to borrow from that.

Theory of Thirds – A composition divided into thirds vertically, horizontally, and/or diagonally. Considered by many to be visually pleasing to the eye, with points of emphasis often occurring at the cross section of intersecting thirds.

It means, you don’t just throw up anything on the screen. So let’s see the forms. Some things may be more interesting if they are hovering on a cross. Don’t confine yourself to lines, you could do quadrants. Friezes. So you’ve lines, you’ve got regions, and the hotspots: the intersection points.

See if you can nail one of these hotspots. It is visually pleasing, it makes everyone smile.

We can agree the bulk of this image is occupying one of the thirds. It can be used to show depth. It is helpful, but not entirely. It can break up the frame on the x-y axis and it can show depth.

Isn’t limited to frame:

traditional three act structure (Aristotle)

Comedy “rule of three” (Setup setup, payoff)

Drama: A run of three is a satisfying progression.

(Shows clip from Juno: Abortion Clinic)

Three seems to be a magical number. It seems to play prominently in art, media and film.


In the physical world, objects with identical “visual weight” are balanced.

This type of balance is called symmetry.

Kubrick shot: A composition like this is balanced and symmetric. I do not mean exact. Good enough. For our purposes it is symmetric.

I wish to reject something the text suggests; symmetrical compositions reject theory of thirds. I disagree. I think this is a perfect example of theory of thirds, and they are compatible.

Balance does not mean it has to be symmetric. There can be asymmetrical balance. The balance of unlike objects. Two unlike objects that counterbalance the visual weight of a third.

Theory of Thirds: Balance, Symmetry, Asymmetry. Let’s take this a little further.

How do you define this frame? This is referred to as compositional stress. Some say there is too much on one side, some say the large amount of white balances the black face. Your eyes are drawn.


Deep-space composition – a total visual composition that can place significant information or subjects on all three planes of the frame and thus creates an illusion of depth.

Deep-focus cinematography – using a short-focal length lens, keeps all three planes in sharp focus.

what do we mean by focus versus blurry? Focused is crisp. Out of focus, it is blurry. We will give a defined meaning.

Here is an image from Notorious. This is deep space composition. Notice the size of the coffee cup. Is it actually the size of the actress?

So that is deep space. Let’s watch a clip here.

Watch as he walks into the background. It is almost all in focus. This is an astounding shot. If you play with cameras and attempted to pull off a shot like this. This is shot when film was relatively insensitive to light, not like your digital films. In order to get a shot in focus like this, there must be about 25 feet. They must be drenched in light. There is an incredible glare of big lamps. This is deep focus and space.

Subtle, comprehensive. For legal reasons, they cannot show running film. We are actually going to watch cinema.

A different interpretation of balance and nose room.

A shot of a guy running who is pushing against the edge of the frame. Little nose room because we want it to seem like he is dying to burst out of it.


Primary function:

“Eye” of the camera. Brings light that emanates from the subjects in front of the camera into a focused image.

Basic Properties: Focal length: Distance from lens to focul plane on film/sensor (technical definiton) Who cares? Here is what you really care about. What is the relative angle of the shot? If you are looking at an image down a walkway at a university, you can see what different focal lengths remain. As we go down toward 55, I cannot read the bottom, it is beyond 400.

You have a sense of what happens when you zoom in hard. Designated in millimeters.

4 ranges: Short (12.5mm-35mm)

Medium (50mm-85mm)

Long (120mm-?mm)

Variable (zoom)

Each has its own characteristics.

Short lenses, what are the characteristics?

Wide angle view (fisheye at extreme)

depth exaggerated, z-axis speed increased. Can distort at the edges. Visible camera motion reduced (smoother)

Wide lens exaggerates forward/backward motion.


“Neutral” angle of view

“approximates human eyesight

What meanings might these suggest?


Narrow angle of view

Depth compressed/flattered

Aparent x-axis speed slowed

Visible camera motion amplified

Need solid support

Everything coming at us is going to appear to move very slowly. If you are on a long lens, it better be bolted to something solid. If you so much as breathe on it it will show.

Cars going 60 mph seem to be moving through molasses.


Light rays converge as much as possible on film/sensor

Focus can be used as a creative tool. I blurred the image of the boxer. So the crisp one, waiting for the final blow, the blurry one is from the POV of a guy that is about to go down because he’s punch-drunk,

Focus can mean different things.

Lenses Basic Properties: Depth-of-field

Range of distance in front of lens that is in focus. Crisp squirrels (example on powerpoint)

a home movie, everything is in focus. When you limit your depth of field it seems fancier.

As a general rule, the shorter your focal length the wider your depth of field

long focal length lens = narrow depth of field

Aperture: Adjustable iris controls the amount of light passing through.

Another way to control DOF (depth of field)

The rack focus can shift attention in depth. Rack focus is a term you need to know. split-diopter shot.  Two lenses that are cut in half and meet in the middle? You see this fuzzy edge? This is where the two lenses are meeting.

Shot types:

Relative size of the framing. Labeled with a fairly loose nomenclature that suggests how close the camera is to the subject.

Ranges from Extreme Long Shot (XLS)

to Extreme CU (Close up)

AKA “wide” to “tight”

Full shot, closeup, extreme close up, long shot, extreme long shot

Camera angles: high angles may be subtle or extreme (aerial) is it condescending? probably not. probably a little more benevolent. There is something God-like about it. Just know that when you’re on top what is below you is not worthy. That is the way that scene plays out, it is very sweet.

It may be outside our normal experience, Superior POV

What is the purpose of the angle in the spiral staircase shot? If the normal eyelevel is everyday experience, what could you say about high angle? Is that part of our normal experience? How often have you been hovering? Yes, it is an unusual perspective. Hitchcock was known for doing it. Spielberg did it more recently.

Let’s start with the low angle. childlike, inferior POV. Not at knee-level.


Intimidating. We are intimidated by the man in the shot. In this extreme shot, we get this sense of stumbling motion.

Dutch angle, canted. any deviation from horizontal would be Dutch. The expressionists in the 20s used it. Here is Uma Thurman, here is Denzel Washington. These shots are the essence of the Dutch angle.

Camera Movement

Stationary Platform

Pan shot/tilt shot

Mobile platform

-Dolly shot/zoom

XYZ axis

-Crane shot



muslim women fitness, The Muslim Orange

Fake it ’til you make it

It’s true when they say 90 percent of life is in showing up. Lately the amount of effort it takes to go from fast asleep in bed to ready and out the door is increasing exponentially. My girly six-pack is disappearing, I don’t have as much energy, and I have been slaaaacking on exfoliation. Then there is the whole spiritual malaise thing. That is troubling all by itself.

So, another LIST. Yes, I’m a fan.

  • Pray, on time, everyday insha Allah.
  • Exfoliate like it’s going out of style…use that body scrub woman!
  • Ab work everyday with Mr. Stuck in the 90s YouTube man
  • Walk three times around the block before maghrib (equivalent to one mile)
I can’t believe it, I walked three times around the neighborhood block with my sister tonight and my legs are actually a little sore. Three times. Around the block. I’m so out of it!
The Muslim Orange, Uncategorized

Dunya Depression

I want to be that girl again.

I want to be that girl who wakes up with light in her steps and a supplication on her lips, who effortlessly slips into running shoes and hits the pavement and flies over excuses, misgivings and ghosts of the past. The girl who has enough sense of self to touch the ground with her forehead and submit five times a day, who can trade in her chai latte for a page of the Quran during Ramadan.

I want to be that girl who edits entire sequences in her head at night, who sleeps with one arm outstretched to a notebook and pen so she’s ready the moment inspiration strikes. I want to be that girl who can copy edit in four languages. I want to be that girl who doesn’t let a moment slip by, wasted.

I want to be good again. I want to be me again. I want to be me, instead of simply wanting to be wanted.

The Muslim Orange

The Hirsute of Happiness: The Care and Feeding of a Single Muslim Woman

I just got divorced today.

That being said, let’s talk about marriage. And girly stuff. 😀

It sucks being alone, I get it. The crying yourself to sleep at night, the daydreams of hand-holding and long walks, waking up alone, eating alone, being alone, driving alone. You are awoooone. Got it.

Girls, let’s pretend I’m your fairy godmother (shirk? biddah? Is this hypothetical even halal? Who knows, ask your mom) and I’m about to grant you your wish. I appear to you in a sparkly puff of garam masala as you finally slip under the covers in your pajamas (after several hours of Facebook-stalking all the MSA brothers, wondering if any of them are husband material. Hint: They’re not. Let the poor dears finish school and find a job, for crying out loud.) and you gaze at me, amazed!

Before you can call the cops, I tell you I’ve found you the man of your dreams. Better yet, you’ve already been nikkah-fied. You’re married! We’re fast-forwarding all that ceremonial hooplah because he’s going to appear right next to you, in this very bed, right now!

Your reaction? Languorously arranging your perfect tresses upon the pillow with a smile of contentment? Yeah, right. Instantaneous. You whip up outta that bed and make a beeline for the bathroom. You don’t know whether to reach for the razor, or the toothbrush, or the hairbrush, or those waxing strips, or squeeze in a few crunches on the bathroom floor. So you make a desperate grab for the toilet brush to knock yourself over the head with and end your misery.

You may laugh, but to some extent, that would be all of us single sisters as a whole.

Single Muslim ladies, admit it: We slum it big time. We can get away with it because the world doesn’t see our bodies. But don’t WE see our bodies? Isn’t that enough of a reason to get pretty? And one day, that man you’re going to marry?

It’s part of our deen!

Truly, God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” (Quran 2:222)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “From the acts of nature are five: circumcision (for men), removing pubic hairs, trimming the mustache, cutting the nails and plucking the hair from under the armpits.”(Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Narrated by Anas ibn Malik: A time limit has been prescribed for us for clipping the moustache, cutting the nails, plucking hair under the armpits, shaving the pubic region: that it should not be neglected for more than forty nights. (Sahih Muslim Hadith 497)

Nowhere does it say, do all these things ONLY when you FINALLY get married. Whenever that may be. And how hard would it be if you found yourself married, never having implemented a set hair removal routine, or exercise schedule, or nutrition plan? Pretty overwhelming, right?

Purification isn’t just an outward set of hygiene habits, you have to be reverent about what you put into your body as well. All those walks that you dream of taking with your beloved, how often do you walk by yourself? Get a hobby, woman! Have something to offer when you do get married, insha Allah.

I present to you, and myself, a List.

  • Pray. Turn that pretty face to Allah. Thank Him for making you so pretty. Ask God to help you.
  • Educate yourself. Brush up on your Quran and tajweed and try to learn the meaning of what you are reciting. Read good Islamic books and articles (NOT just the ones about marriage!)
  • Walk. Move. Do yoga. Play frisbee. Get out of the house and do something physical. Plant a flower. It’s up to you. It’s addicting. Once you start, you can’t stop. You will look and feel better.
  • Go TSA on your food. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. You think that grizzled TSA agent is going to let you through security with that heartstopping  yogurt container of nihari? I think not. Eat pure foods that mostly grow out of the ground, not another animal. View sugar and caffeine as the poison they are. If you’re tired and have the luxury, take a nap. If not, at least substitute your caffeinated beverage of choice with pure honey. If you drink soda regularly you are going to get a lumpy butt and no one will want to marry you. Don’t do it. Soda is so-dumb. (ba dum dum!)
  •  If you follow the above steps, your skin is going to be glowing. Or it would be, if it wasn’t hidden underneath all that hair! Save the whining about your south Asian/Arab/Iranian blessed pileousness and invest in a good waxing, shaving or depilatory kit. I tend to favor waxing and if you’re a little more financially secure you can invest in going to a licensed esthetician who will save you a lot of work. Make sure she is a stickler for cleanliness: using brand new strips and no double dipping the wax stick. Thus, emphasis on the licensed. The advantage of going to someone who works out of their home is usually flexibility on payment. Talk to her and see if you can set up something monthly at a discounted rate.
  • Floss.
  • Wear nice clothes. That includes underwear.

I know we’ve all heard it, even from our own mouths: “When I get married, I’ll…” Don’t make your life an if-then statement. There is only now and what you do with it. Are you going to slum it forever with the hope, I’ll start taking care of myself when I’m married. That is super unfair. What are you going to contribute if you can’t be happy, content, and self-fulfilled on your own first?
Live like you’re already married. You may find it could lead to just that, insha Allah.

i'm lost, islam, The Muslim Orange

Let go.

Time to let go of trivial things. Time to turn my face up to the sky morning and evening to praise and beseech the One who put me here for a reason. Time to emerge from the cocoon of my bed and hit the ground running, literally. Time to let go of what doesn’t matter.

You were here before him. You were able to laugh, smile, talk and breathe before you knew he existed. You’re still here. You’ve honestly been through worse. You’re one tough laddu. You don’t look like one, and you’re not going to, because you know no one is worth that.

You will be okay. You will be okay. God doesn’t abandon the ones He loves. He thinks you’re worth it. You know the people who have it easy in this life? The people who can’t handle anything but fluff. The people who are getting their test at a deferred time. You’re not like the others. God knows you can handle it. God knows you can handle it. He doesn’t put a burden on you greater than you can bear.

He knows you need to be purified. He knows you forget. He knows you need the reminder. Allah wants you to come back to Him.

One day, you’ll be with the one who deserves you. One day, you’ll be with the one who appreciates you. They’ll still be a human.

Until then, you’re gonna be right with the One who made you and made that human being who you want to wake up next to every morning. You’re going to be happy with yourself and content with the decree of the One who is testing you now.

i'm lost, The Muslim Orange

Another Facebook event we bore, and the hearts break a little more.

The venues are booked. The speakers are listed. The program is online. The event photo is up. The attending list: public.


Slowly they scroll and scan, their eyes hoping to land on the familiar, or perhaps unfamiliar, visage of the man or woman of their dreams. The days creep closer, the tagged notifications swell, and everyone swallows their guilt that their thoughts are more preoccupied with the sister or brother they sometimes catch out of the corner of their eye than any morsels of knowledge that might be gleaned.

The rituals begin.

Her neck is bent at an uncomfortable angle, fingers of one hand pulling her skin taut above her zygomatic arch while the other  hand does the same in the opposite direction, allowing the threader to close in with her spools of floss and unceremoniously rip away any unsightly hairs that could divert a marriage proposal.

He runs the razor under the faucet, wicking away any excess water and carefully returns the blade to tend to the edges of his artfully cropped goatee. He inspects the results of his handiwork.  It doesn’t scream mullah. He’s going more for well-adjusted son-in-law.

Hours before the event, closets are thrown open. Their contents are inspected, considered, rejected. Kohl is applied. Hair is painstakingly, casually gelled and tousled. A panoply of hijabs beckon, one of which will be chosen to adorn the head of its owner.

Moments before heading out the door, a hasty grab for paper and pen.

The day begins. The moving anecdotes are relayed, and the sympathetic tears are shed. The heads are dutifully bent over notebooks and laptop screens, scribbling away.

The freshness of morning stales into the afternoon. The perfect line of kohl smears. An in-grown hair chafes. A sigh is suppressed.

This was all so much better in my head, she thinks, heart sinking as she picks at a fraying tassel.

I don’t have a dime to my name, he thinks, heart sinking as he spares a glance at a row of vigilant aunties.

The show must go on. Pens are reluctantly pressed to paper, with the sinking suspicion–no, the certainty--that these notes will never see the light of day again.

Evening arrives, and the shine of the day has evaporated. Salaams are exchanged all around, and all the lonely children go home.

Depressed and discouraged, no longer covered in clothes and cosmetics, but only in themselves, they weep.