Friday, June 10, 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Moral Obligation

So right now, I'm working on a group project for Humanities. I know, it's 2 in the morning and I should be sleeping, but 1) SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK, and 2) PROCRASTINATION.

Anyways, I'm on a Skype call with a group member, and he and I have basically carried the group. Sure, there was another group member that did work, but we did the bulk of the heavylifting (academic heavylifting, mind you). But there are four people in our group. So what happened to the fourth person?

Okay, so first, lemme assign names to protect people's identities and such: I'm me; the other responsible group member is Ryan; the group member that worked, but not too much will be called Aiden; and the group member that didn't work at all will be called Lewis. Although Lewis had an excuse not to work (his computer glitched or something, I don't really know the details), he still could've done his work at the library or something, and that's why I'm making this blog post.

As stated previously, it's 2 in the morning, I'm tired, my eyelids are heavy, but fingers are not moving across the keyboard normally, and I wanna go to sleep. However, the aforementioned project still is unfinished. Why you may ask? Because of Lewis? Not all because of Lewis, but he wasn't not the reason. We still have several elements of the project unfinished, and Lewis's part of the Annotated Bibliography is one of them. Sure, we could throw him under the bus, screw over his grade and talk our way out of our grade going down, but that feels... wrong. So now Ryan and I have to do his research, his research questions, his slides in the Powerpoint, everything that he would've normally done. And then we have to do our own part of the project (which we finished, actually, before working on Lewis's stuff).

So. Should we have to do this?

We are all friends in the group, and we know each other pretty well. Ryan and I discussed it at length (at the detriment of our productivity, but at this rate, nothing's getting done, let's be honest), and we decided to do Lewis's work. It's our moral obligation, we said to justify this excess workload. We'd feel like bad people otherwise. But is extra sleep worth that feeling of guilt? As previously stated, we could work our way out of any grade trouble on our end, but Lewis's grade would be screwed. Wouldn't affect us. Would actually be good for us if you think about it in terms of rank-competition. We'd be getting extra sleep.

We'd be guilty of being bad friends. And I think that's what at the root of this "dilemma" (it wasn't really a dilemma; I exaggerated previously; we decided at once to do Lewis's work): the moral obligation for us to cover for our friend. Sure, logically, if we were robots, we would never cover for Lewis, not in a million years. But we're not. We're humans. With emotions, with empathy, with compassion for one another. There's a reason society hasn't completely crumbled into chaos and anarchy yet. We still have humanity within us. We still cover for one another, and make sure the job gets done no matter how much (or how little) sleep we get.

And once we lose that humanity within us, once we succumb to the robots' level, once we stop covering for one another, this all goes down the drain. Once we put our priorities, our pleasure, above someone else's pain that we could solve, if we just sacrificed a little, that's when society starts to fall into disarray. We must always cover for one another, help each other out, and whether that means less sleep or less money, it's enough for a little to go around to everybody. And that's what really matters. That everybody gets something.

Maybe you think that Lewis will do this again. Next group project, he does nothing. But that won't happen. You know why I know that? Because I trust Lewis. I know that this was a series of unfortunate events, not a series of planned frivolity (not sure if I used that word correctly). People by nature want to better themselves. Lewis, by nature, wanted to work on the project, he wanted to earn his grade. So we must trust each other, not just in group projects, but in society as a whole. Humans aren't inherently lazy, idle, complacent. We're workers, we're do-ers, we want to feel validated, and we earn our grade (or money) as best we can. If something comes up, something comes up, and others should be there to cover for you. But nothing comes up that often to compromise this system.

So think about that the next time you watch the news. Think about that the next time you go to a voting booth. Think about that the next time you're up at 2 am working on a group project. You have a moral obligation to cover for people. Maybe they're not in the best of spots, maybe they're just getting by.

So cover for them.

--PRANAV

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tests

Four tests, one week
This was fun, let's
Not do it again

No study
No sleep
No grade

Monday, May 23, 2016

Crowd

I'm surrounded by people
Milling about every which way
Yet I'm isolated

Why am I lonely
I have no excuse
Emotional fragility
Is uncalled for, and
Frustratingly unnecessary

But it exists
It festers within
And to stamp it out
I know not how

It's always been there
Just beneath the surface
Perhaps tomorrow
You'll see

Rhyming

Rhyming poetry is quite hard to create
You have to be exceptionally talented
A bowl of cereal, I just ate
Perhaps this is only fate

But

I feel like I'm on a roll
With these rhymes, like gold
Poetry can be good
Rhymes can be lyrical food

Sometimes similar spellings don't rhyme
Those rhymes are like enzymes
Speeding up the rate at which
A reader will want to ditch

Rhymes are interesting and fun
This poem has meaning like mud
But it is an attempt, nonetheless
But this poem will, for sure, not impress

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Maze of Life

It's dark in here
The maze is scary
But I know my way around

That's what you think
But really, I'm bleeding,
A gaping wound in my side

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Admiration

People around me
Are better than me
More talented

I look up to them
I admire them
I want to be them

Friday, May 20, 2016

Lexical Gap

Words are flawed
Such a limited medium
Of self expression

What is a color
What is a sound
What is pain

But at least words can
Make you feel

Turn That Down

Your music is so loud
Turn it down please
I can't think

But it helps me think
I don't want to turn it down
Go away

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Choice

Obligations are obligatory
Unless you say that
They aren't

Choices are powerful
Unless you say that
They aren't



Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Want To Come In

Tapping away
On the window
The tree branch is

Allow me to come in
Allow me to visit you
Just open the window

Yawning In Misery

My binder is over there
Across the room
But I'm here

Don't force me to work
Don't force me to think
Don't force me to be

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Captain America: Civil War - Average Joe Review

So, on May 7-8, 2015, I went to the theater to see Ant-Man. And this is my review of the movie.
(May 7-8 because it started at about 10:30 and lasted until 1:10 at night)

First off, this review is spoiler free if you've watched the trailers for Civil War. Assuming you have, you have the go-ahead to read the following review.

Civil War. Easily my most anticipated movie of the year. Sure, Batman v Superman was up there, but I had a nagging feeling that that movie would bomb (which it did), but Civil War had me hyped since I heard about plans for such a movie. Captain America versus Iron Man? Of course I would love it! Although going into this movie I had knowledge of the comic book story arc by the same name, I tried to distance myself from most of the promotional material (except the trailers, of course). Clips on the Marvel Entertainment Youtube Channel, I neglected, TV spots, I fast-forwarded, actor interviews, I skipped over. I think part of the reason I disliked BvS so much was that the marketing was so horribly managed: it was as if I had already seen the entire movie through the promotional material. So yeah, I distanced myself from Civil War marketing best I could.

Now for the actual movie. Wow, what a movie. It was dramatic, action-packed, thought-provoking (or as thought-provoking a superhero film can be), well-acted, all around a great movie. Directed by the Russo brothers, Civil War was an all around stellar film. The Russo brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a movie in the MCU many regarded, at the time, as one of the best installments yet, earning such high praise almost solely because of it's amazing action sequences. Such great choreography and action really shine through in Captain America: Civil War as well. 

The general premise of the movie is that the Avengers have been split into two teams, led by Captain America/Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, and Iron Man/Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr.. 

<sidenote> Are there supposed to be two periods there or only one? K thx. <sidenote>

The cause for such a rift in the Avengers is over the Sokovia Accords, a documents that makes the Avengers a public organization controlled by UN. Basically, the superheroes will have to act according to the UN and only the UN. Tony Stark is all for this: after all, his endeavors have resulted in mass destruction in the past, and a surprising number of villains were of Stark's creation. However, Captain America wasn't having it. What if the Avengers needed to go someplace that the UN didn't green-light? What if the UN itself was/were the bad guys? After the HYDRA fiasco of the Winter Soldier, Captain America wasn't so ready to let the government tell him what to do when, and understandably so. The proposal of the Sokovia Accords was, as the name suggests, after the Battle of Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but also because of a battle in the beginning of Civil War (which I won't go into now because SPOILERS). One thing leads to another and everybody takes matters into their own hands. And then it all goes to hell. (In a good way)

As always, I'm a little bit skeptical of movies like Civil War which are jam packed with characters, wondering if each character will shine on their own amidst all the chaos. In Civil War, I feel that each character did shine, although characters such as Hawkeye and others that were introduced later on in the film didn't have as much going for them. I know in the past I've said I was a huge fan of Hawkeye, but that has kind of reversed into a begrudging acceptance of his presence in the MCU. I don't know why, but he's definitely not in my top 10 favorites any more. Anyways, back to the point: the characters in Civil War do shine, even if it's just for a brief few moments. After all, with so many characters in the MCU crammed into this film, you can't get everything. Welcome additions were Black Panther, the Wakandan prince with his own agenda (which I won't get into here because SPOILERS), and... drumroll please...

SPIDER MAN!!! Tom Holland positively stole the show as Spidey, and finally all our prayer's have been answered: we have a great Peter Parker and great Spider Man!  Tobey Maguire was a good Peter Parker and an okay Spider Man, and Andrew Garfield was a bad Peter Parker and a good Spider Man, but this guy Tom Holland, he's the complete package. Finally, an actor who portrays Spider Man, in my opinion, the way he was always meant to be portrayed. I think part of the reason I loved his performance is my nostalgia towards Spider Man 2, the best Spider Man prior to Civil War. Of course, Spider Man 3 made me lose all respect for that franchise, but yeah Tom Holland is great. If you've seen any of the promotional material, you know what I'm talking. A teenaged snarky genius with superpowers is a welcome addition to the cast of adult superheroes doing super serious (hahahaha see what I did there?) superheroing, and in the main battle scene at the climax of the movie, Spider Man truly shines. 

Of course, RDJ does a wonderful job with Tony Stark, and although there was a lot less quipping from him than in past films, RDJ brought out the dark side of Tony, the side necessary for Tony to fight Cap. The action was quite compelling, and really made the Iron Man - Captain America interactions electrifyingly tense with anticipation. Chris Evans also had a stand-out performance, bringing out the dark side of Cap that Steve Rogers warned of in Age of Ultron. Both performances made for dramatic interactions between the two, and made the plot so much more riveting. All the other performances were great too: Anthony Mackie as Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Bucky/Winter Soldier, Don Cheadle as Rhodey/War Machine, Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa/Black Panther, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Elizabeth Olson as Scarlet Witch, you get the idea.

The CGI was also great, which can't hurt, although it was to be expected with such a huge budget. The action sequences were where Civil War really shines. Amidst all the chaos, the tension and rift in the Avengers is non-stop action that the Average Joe came to see. The Average Joe came to see Captain America beat up Iron Man and Iron Man to beat up Captain America, and Civil War delivered. Intertwined with dramatic, sometimes witty dialogue, the choreography and cinematography of the action sequences is characteristic of the Russo brothers: less shaky-cam, more storytelling. I could actually follow along with the punches, who was beating up who how. Other films, take notes.

There was also actually character development. I saw Captain America and Iron Man grow on screen, diverging from the norm of "good guy" to rivals, enemies to the end. Although having several years of the MCU to become attached to these characters might've aided the film, it's to the film's credit that I was still so invested in these characters whose stories I walked alongside. I could empathize with Captain America feelings towards the government, I could respect Iron Man's logic, but in the end, I didn't want either character to go away. Scarlet Witch and Falcon and Bucky especially also grew. In Age of Ultron, I barely got attached to the telekinetic mutant, but in this film, I see her struggle with the magnitude of her actions, and see her overcome that struggle for the greater good of what she thinks is right. Falcon also became so much cooler in this film, for lack of better words. In Winter Soldier, I wasn't the biggest fan of Falcon, but he's gotten much more interesting than a simple Captain-America-follower since that film, having his own thoughts and opinions on the Sokovia Accords, amongst other matters. Bucky however, stood out. In Winter Soldier, I was a bit worried of how he would be portrayed in the future in the MCU, but Civil War erased those worries completely. His story arc really came fully circle (get it, arcs and circles and stuff, hahaha), and I believe in Bucky as a  character now. As you know, character development is what I love to see most in a film, and this film, it delivered.

Now for the villain, the bad guy, whatever you call it. I feel like telling you the villain's motives and stuff is pretty SPOILER-RIFIC, so I won't go in depth at all, but all I will say is this: I felt as though the villain's driving force for doing what he did was pretty un-dramatic, and not of huge weight. He goes into his motives in the latter half of the movie, but such a brief scene didn't quite resonate with me. In other words, it was predictable from the very start. I really wish that Marvel could've done something out of the blue for this character, but they went the easy route, which was probably necessary to make the movie as good as it was. 

All in all, Captain America: Civil War was an absolutely stellar film in almost every way. Great acting, great action, great plot, it would be an understatement to call it awesome. I give it a 4.9/5, for even though everything was freaking awesome, amazing, spectacular, stupendous, the less-than-convincing villain doesn't give it a perfect score. However, this movie replaces The Edge of Tomorrow for the title of My Favorite Movie. Good job.

--PRANAV

PS #TEAMCAP ALWAYS AND FOREVER

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice - Average Joe Review

So, on April 24, 2016, I went to the theatre to see Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. And this is my review of the movie.

First off, this review is spoiler-free. You're welcome.

Also, lemme just say that I haven't seen any of the DCCU movies up to this point. Basically, I haven't seen Man of Steel. So perhaps that may influence my experience of this movie. However, I knew what happened in that movie. So yeah.

Batman vs. Superman, perhaps that most anticipated movie of 2016 (The Force Awakens came out 2015, right? Right?! Ok). Of course, nothing could live up to the amount of hype that surrounded the film. Every trailer was picked apart, frame by frame by ultra-fans. All the promotional content, all the TV spots and clips on Youtube, they too were analyzed beyond a shadow of doubt as to what their role was in the movie. Personally, I distanced myself from such theorizing, from such speculation. I usually try to go into a movie without knowing what it's about. However comma, I was exposed to the horrible word of mouth that accompanied the release of the film. I heard from friends that critics were bashing it, that it was horrible, that it would waste my time

And to be honest, I kind of agree. Performances were overall pretty okay, with Ben Affleck being the stand out cast member. His portrayal of Batman echoed that of Christian Bale's, which is always a good thing. Nevertheless, it didn't' my save the movie. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was an interesting decision, but I felt that he didn't portray the character very well, despite a good performance. On the other hand, Henry Cavill's Superman, to me at least, was quite unconvincing. However bad or good the performances were, much worse so was the plot.

The plot was rather atrocious. Basically, Lex Luthor tries to put Batman and Superman against each other in "the greatest gladiator match" ever, his philosophy being that no power is innocent, thus Superman had malicious intentions. Batman's motivation to fight Superman was basically,"If he's so strong and we can't control him, then he's a threat [not a direct quote]." This resolve was further strengthened by Luthor's actions, which [SPOILER], and by Superman's battle with General Xod in Man of Steel, of which we see Batman's perspective. Superman fought Batman because you know, vigilante and hero don't really mix. However, the plot gets convoluted and hard-to-follow when Luthor gets a bunch of privileges and authority from this authority-figure guy that I forget what's his name. Luthor's interactions with Senator Finch, someone who believes that they can make Superman obey laws and stuff, are boring, albeit pretty important to the story. Perhaps the plot itself wasn't bad, but the story told was. Overall, the non-action elements of the story were quite boring. I fell asleep during one part for about a short period, to find that I hadn't missed anything from my friend.

Snyder's bleak colors, and dark brooding atmosphere are of course present, and the mood it sets is quite fitting. However, at times, humor is mixed in with this, and, to me at least, resulting in a few confusing moments. "Wait, am I supposed to be laughing or on the edge of my seat right now?" went through my head a few times at least. 

And now for the action. It's good. It's at times incomprehensible noises, accompanied by a cacophony of CGI, dark-costumed characters fighting other dark-costumed characters, and a whole lotta jump cuts. The final action scene against [SPOILER] was pretty awesome though. However, because Superman and Batman are conveyed more as ideas than as people (Superman being the "you-don't-understand-me, I-actually-have-you're-best-interests-at-heart" guy and Batman being the counter to Superman, the protector of the masses), emotional attachment to the characters is all but gone. I didn't feel any sadness when [MAJOR SPOILER], which made me less emotionally invested in the overall film. Basically, I was pretty pathetic and indifferent towards most characters (except for Luthor, whose motivations were weaved into his peculiar personality quite well). However, the Batman vs Superman scenes were PRETTY FREAKING AWESOME. I didn't care who won or lost or whatever, but as an Average Joe, the excitement of Superman flicking Batman aside or Batman using the element of surprise to his advantage resulted in a pseudo-adrenaline rush. A good thing.

One thing I will add is that the shoehorning in of characters that will be additions to the DCCU was not appreciated, resulting in unnecessary tangents about Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash. DC, we get it. You want to rival the MCU. However, rushing your cinematic universe to catch up is not the way to go about doing so. Instead, DC should've had a Batman solo movie and maybe a Wonder Woman solo movie in preparation. It just feels too rushed.

All in all, the action scenes that the Average Joe came to see were few and far between, being separated by boring exposition, plot development (which neglects character development), and boredom. I give it a 2.9/5 stars, for the action scenes somewhat made up for the messy plot.

--
PRANAV

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Oneself

What is being?
What is your's?
What is mine?

To be, is that to live?
To be, is that to love?
To be, is that to 
Do something extraordinary?
To be is that to 
Do something ordinary?

Oneself is not
The mere sum of one's parts
But, the collection
Of words
Of feelings, of emotions
Of actions, of intentions, of life

Actions aren't the mere
Sums of one's parts
But the collection of 
Thought, of feeling
To exact an impact on
Something
Or someone

For life is what one does,
Is it not?
Should one do or do not, 
That is up to oneself
But should they live, 
That is up to something more than 
The sum of their parts