Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens - Average Joe Review

So, on December 23, 2015, I went to the theater to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. And this is my review of the movie.

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

Also, I will add that I haven't seen any of the prior Star Wars films, prequel or otherwise. GASP! I saw a few snippets on TV when I was little and instantly disliked the franchise. Many years later, I realize that I saw a snippet of the prequels on TV, not the original trilogy.

As my first Star Wars film, I was very pleased for this to be my introduction to the franchise. Even if the movie itself was terrible, the music on its own would bring up its rating by 3! J.J. Abrams pulled off something in this movie that, had it not gone as well as it did, would've had... let me just say bad consequences within the Star Wars fandom (which is basically every adult at this point). Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and every frame was a pleasure.

I am not quite sure if this film lives up to the hype, but The Force Awakens sure does a good job at attempting to. I highly doubt any film could live up to the amount of hype that surrounded Episode 7 (ahem, Age of Ultron, ahem)

When the scrolling text appeared in its iconic yellow font and filled me in on what happened in the 6 movies I missed (although I am very confused as to which movies are canon and which aren't), I was relieved that this movie didn't require the viewer to have watched prior installments episodes to understand it.

The movie is, in essence, the classic fight between good and evil, in this case, between the Resistance and the First Order, basically a new evil organization after Luke Skywalker's whereabouts to kill the last Jedi and to secure their safety & stability as an evil organization. And maybe to take over the galaxy too. Eh, it's not too clear, but then again, I'm not exactly the best at movie comprehension. The protagonists of the story, Rey (I think that's how you spell it?) and Finn are very well portrayed characters. They are relatable, and the actors do a very good job at conveying the ups and downs of their story arcs. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that in The Force Awakens, there was no shortage of acting talent on-screen.

What really enthralled me, and probably most everyone else in the theater, were the brilliant setpieces (IDK if that's the proper terminology or whatever, but neither does the Average Joe (I should think), so IDC: DEAL). Jakku, the desert planet which we saw much of in the trailers, is absolutely astonishing, as are many of the other settings in this film. The forests, the starships, the galaxy itself, everything was to perfection, and this aspect of the film, a mon avis, really brought the whole film together.

Han Solo was ever-so charismatic, and Harrison Ford's portrayal of him is SO GOOD, especially at a certain point in the film (which I won't spoil now). Chewbacca is Chewbacca, which is to say, AWESOME. All the side characters in this film are great.

One gripe that I have about this movie, however, is the lack of character depth. For example, the Resistance pilot we see in the beginning of the film, although we see his incredible loyalty to the Resistance, we don't see much else of him in terms of character development. The same goes for the orange old alien lady voiced by Lupito Nyong'o (whose name I don't know, because y'know, movie comprehension isn't my strong suit), however to a lesser degree.

Another thing: the character development and interactions between Finn and Rey seem rushed and very unrealistic. I understand the attempt at "enemies-turned-allies" and such, and by the end of the film (not a spoiler), they become close, but still, their character development seemed rushed and unrealistic.

The starship fights, ont he other hand, were amazing. Special effects were great in The Force Awakens, and unnecessary CGI was seldom seen. Lightsaber duels (of which there were, sadly, fewer of them than I had anticipated) were awesome, and Kylo Ren's use of the force was accompanied by some great acting and some great sound work (that sentence sounded stupid, I know).

Finally, the villain: Kylo Ren. As someone who had no prior knowledge of the Star Wars Universe, I had no idea who this guy was, other than the stereotypical evil bad guy dude that the audience is supposed to not like and is supposed to want dead. That being said, throughout the movie, the character development for this character is very good. By the end of his story arc, I found his fate befitting of such a character. I won't spoil anything now, but I'm just saying that the villain of The Force Awakens is good (ahem Marvel ahem).

All in all, The Force Awakens was, for me, a very good introduction to the Star Wars Universe, and every frame was a pleasure. From setpiece to setpiece, planet to planet, across the galaxy, it was funny, action-packed, dramatic, and all that other crap. I give The Force Awakens a 4.7/5, because although the action was awesome, laser-gun-fight-light-show-thingies (equivalent to a rave in Zion in terms of how epilepsy-related-seizure inducing they were) were also awesome. a mon avis, character development was somewhat put on the back-burner, and to me, that's a really key component for a fulfilling movie.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 - Average Joe Review

So, on November 23, 2015, I went to the theater to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2. And this is my review of the movie.

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

The pseudo-trilogy that is the Hunger Games has had it's ups (Catching Fire) and downs (ahem, MJ Part 1, ahem), but I think this last installment of the Hunger Games wraps the series quite neatly. Sure, there are still questions, loose ends and the like, but the stories of Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and the others are, in my eyes, complete. However, I think it's important to note that the characters we met in the 74th Annual Hunger Games are far different than the ones who emerge from the war between the Districts and the Capitol.

LOL, that sounded like fan fiction, so formal.

We start out in District 13, right where the first movie left off. A couple hours before the screening, I saw Part 1 to refresh my memory. Where Part 1 finishes, Part 2 begins immediately thereafter. Katniss and her team go on a quest to kill President Snow, and ultimately bring down the Capitol. The acting in this film is quite superb. Some may not care for the dramatic tension that is so essential to MJ Part 2, but I really appreciated it (though it cut into the action, and was a bit too drawn out). If you've read the books, and even if you haven't, you should appreciate the talent of the actors in this movie.

The plot is also well developed, and there are many (familiar, if you've read the books) twists in the film. When Katniss and her team are in the Capitol on their way to kill Snow, they encounter numerous obstacles, pods, the movie calls them, to make "a spectacle out of their deaths". In the books, these were intense, dramatic, nail-biting scenes of action and suspense. In the movie, however, the portrayal of these traps was mediocre, subpar at best. The pseudo-horror genre and feel that these scenes adopt are rather unsettling, but no where near as intense as I felt they should be. Perhaps the filmmakers thought that these scenes should be short and action-packed, but I felt as though there should've been more suspense, and the action could've been drawn out just a bit. Also, there weren't as many of these traps shown in the movie as there could've been, but maybe that might've drawn out the runtime a little too long...

As Katniss and her team (count how many times that phrase has been used in this review!) storm the Capitol and are nearing the President's Mansion, Katniss is overcome by moral dilemma, of right, of wrong, and of justice. I found these an interesting view into the mind of someone whose life had been torn apart by violence and injustice, and the decisions Katniss makes in the end of the film really complete her story arc well.

HOWEVER comma, the ending for MJ Part 2 is dreadfully, snore-inducingly drawn out. Scene after scene rolled by, each one more boring and unnecessary as the last. In the book, if memory serves correctly, it was nowhere near this drawn out. It was a short and bittersweet ending in the print version, but in the movie, unnecessary tying of loose ends led to a meh ending, at BEST.

All in all, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 was a good film, one of the more solid ones of the Hunger Games big-screen adventures (OK, that phrase might've been a little too cliché for this review, LOL), I would think. I give it a 3.7/5, losing out because of the drab ending and a bit too much drama, to put it mildly. Good acting, good plot, all around good movie. However, a lukewarm, un-fulfilling ending to the Hunger Games.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Long Time No See

The two people lock eyes. From across the crowded room, their eyes light up as they exchange glances. One smiles. One pretends to be oblivious. People mill about, talking about their mundane lives. The two people slowly wade through the people until they are face to face.



"Long time, no see."

"Long time, no see."

One blushes. One looks down at their feet.

"How have you been?"


The two smile. They stand there. Motionless. The sea they went through to get there engulfed them once more. The people milled about. They stand there. Motionless. Time passes, but they don't move. They become separated. Other people interrupt their moment. Suddenly, they were back to where they started.

They look for one another in the crowded room. As they search, they find new faces, new people. Time passes, but they stand still. They stay rooted to the spot. Motionless. And the distance between them has never been greater.

Slowly, the other people file out of the room. Hours pass. They stand there. Motionless. And then, one smiles. One finds the other.

And then the two fade, a memory long forgotten.

Friday, October 9, 2015

There's No Reason To Worry #6

The house was dimly lit throughout, a layer of dust choking its visitors. Sanjay coughed as quietly as he could, for fear of disturbing whatever was in the house. “We should split up,” Aaron said.

“That’s a perfectly horrifying idea.”


“You clearly haven’t seen any horror movies in the last millennium.”

“Nope,” Aaron grinned at Sanjay. Sanjay sighed.

“I guess we should start exploring, or whatever,” Sanjay said resignedly, “Lemme remind you that this was your idea, not my suicide wish.”

They ventured into the house cautiously. “Wait, so are we splitting up, or no?”

“No, you idiot.”

“Oh, okay.” Aaron shot another stupid grin at Sanjay. Aaron took out his flashlight and immediately mice scampered from beneath the flashlight’s gaze. Aaron’s grin disappeared. The house seemed to be fairly normal, architecturally at least. Directly opposite the front door was a set of dark wooden stairs which turned to the right and out of sight. On the wall to their left was a painting of water lilies. Sanjay took out his own flashlight from his backpack and shined it on the painting. At the bottom, it said, “Claude Monet 1904.”

Aaron walked up the stairs, producing an eerie creak. Sanjay hesitated to go up with Aaron. Before he knew it, Aaron was out of sight.

“Aaron, I think we should retrace my steps,” Sanjay called, trying to make his voice more confident that he felt. There was no response. “Aaron?” Again, nothing. Sanjay uttered a few of his choicest curses before climbing the stairs. As he turned around the corner, he could hear a faint noise coming from upstairs. Sanjay proceeded to go upstairs, and as the second floor came into view, Sanjay gasped.

The floor was empty. It couldn’t really be called a floor, more like a one-room upstairs. A huge window covered one entire wall, though it was molded to the point that it could barely qualify as translucent. There was a single door leading to a closet on the other side of the room. Sanjay inhaled sharply before walking ever so cautiously toward the closet, the door of which was trembling. Suddenly, a sneezing Aaron erupted from the door, screaming.

“What was that all about?” Sanjay asked as Aaron wiped the sweat and dust off his face.

“I was locked in hell!”

“Closets can be hell, yes. Which shirt to choose, what matches what, oh so many CHOICES!”

“Shut up. I was locked in a closet. You would’ve sissied out too if you were there.” Sanjay ignored Aaron and continued to investigate. “I thought you were scared of this house. Does it also bring out your inner sass?”

“I am just as scared as you are,” Sanjay retorted forcefully.

“Ooooooh snap! Not even using contractions!”

Sanjay suddenly froze. Aaron was confused. “Hey man, what did you die for?” Sanjay lifted a solitary finger and pointed over Aaron’s shoulder. Aaron followed the finger and whipped around, heart racing to see... nothing, just a blank wall. Sanjay burst out laughing.

“Okay, okay, now I really think we should investigate this hellhole.”

“But, but there’s nothing here. You were wrong. This ain’t no Percy Jackson bullcrap, seeing reality through your dreams.”

“We may as well explore the rest of the house--”

“And get scared out of our wits? HAIL NAW!”

“Eh, I guess so. I didn’t really see anything of note in the kitchen.”


Sanjay raised his eyebrows.

“Something I saw on the internet, never mind that. Now let’s GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”

Sanjay nodded, still surprised by Aaron’s pronunciation of the Indian-not-Indian name. Aaron ran to the stairs, grabbing Sanjay along with him. As they ran down the stairs, Sanjay caught a glimpse a boney white hand and the tops of a pair of black sunglasses disappearing under the moldy window.

Aaron sprinted out of the house with Sanjay in tow to be met with multiple wailing police cars. How they didn’t hear the sirens before, Sanjay had no clue, but there they were, the glorified neighborhood crime watch of Clare View Point. One was holding a gun. Heading these police was none other than a haughty Roger Davies. Sanjay glared at him as Aaron pulled Sanjay in front of himself as a human shield, but when Sanjay looked into the old man’s soulless eyes, it occurred to Sanjay that, today, Mr. Davies was looking particularly like the embodiment of evil itself. Maybe that was because his skin was tinted pale yellow. Or maybe because his eyes were black.


The dark figure gazed upon the situation unfolding before the abandoned house. His lips curled into a sinister smile. Perfect. Everything is falling into place. It decided that it would have a name. Yes, a name that people would learn to remember. Even fear it, if necessary. But only if it was necessary. For fear, was a powerful tool, but it had to be used with caution. Otherwise, there was no telling what the fickle, bickering humans would do. Anything better than what they were doing now. Anything more than nothing.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Lean Back

The clouds cleared
A brief glimmer of sunshine
Poked through the clearing
And for a brief moment
All was well

The birds chirped
The kids played
The adults smiled
And I watched

As all was motionless
Time, an inconceivable notion
A figment of worry, and
Of fear

As the darkness
In the back of my eyes
Clears out
And the brief glimmer of sunshine
Last an eternity

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Insert Title Here

The wind is me
And I am the leaves
And the leaves are the tree
And the tree is Jupiter

Red and stormy
Quaint and teal
Like water lilies
Floating in the emptiness
Of the human soul

Blackness, darkness
But you can find the purple
If one only remember
To turn on the sea

Blue and stormy
Quaint and crimson
Like the yellow of
The sun, rising up

Above the rest, the tarred
Bits of wreckage we call
Life, the swirls of snow that
Hold us back, buffeting

Us from the Universe, the
Unaltered form of purity
Of sacred simplicity
Of nonsensical nonexistent

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation - Average Joe Review

So, on August 12, 2015, I went to the theater to see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. And this is my review of the movie.

First off, this review doesn't contain any spoilers for MI 5. You're welcome.

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to review Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation as an Average Joe in an eloquent and entertaining manner."

I accept.

Mission Impossible, one of the better action-film franchises (ahem, Fast and Furious, ahem), and I thoroughly enjoyed this one, if not as much as Ghost Protocol (because, come on, Ghost Protocol was downright epic... Nothing can beat that Burj Khalifa scene).

The movie is a roller coaster following Ethan Hunt, an international fugitive now that the IMF (his... team?) has been disbanded by the Director of the CIA. He has gone rogue, as it were, but he is still trying to bring down the Syndicate, a terrorist organization led by a man named Lane whose main goal is to destroy the IMF. The catch? The CIA doesn't believe the IMF exists, and thus think that apprehending Hunt is their number one priority.

It starts out very intensely with the first scene, (I'm sure you've seen it), with Ethan Hunt hanging on the side of a plane before the actors' names roll. But one main gripe I have with the movie is that it starts out somewhat slow, and the plot takes some time to understand. Dialogue and drama take precedence in the first few minutes, more so than action. However, as the plot progresses and Benji and Ethan are united, the main heist begins. I've noticed that most all the Mission Impossible movies involve a (very well choreographed) heist. Some may say it's beginning to become formulaic, but, as this is an Average Joe review, and not a Super Critical Hyper Movie Critic Review, I don't really care about that.

One thing I may say that I loved is the score, perfectly complimenting the suspense and action with the trademark Mission Impossible theme. As Ethan and his team move around the world to suit their needs, the music changed accordingly, and it greatly impacts the "edge of your seat" nail-biting suspense, especially in the heist sequence. I especially love the fact that Tom Cruise does the majority of his stunts, which, for me at least, added an additional layer of thrill, making it far more real.

<sidenote> Oh, and Mr. Cruise, I have one suggestion. Could you, perhaps take running lessons so you run like a normal human rather than whatever you run like now? Thanks... (only kidding!) <sidenote>

In the middle of the movie, more towards the end, there is an epic plot twist, and it was just absolutely mind-bogglingly amazing, totally out of the blue unexpected... except that it was exactly what one should expect from a Mission Impossible movie. As the action builds up the epic finale, the dramatic tension increases tenfold, which I absolutely loved.

Performances were great all around, and a mon avis, Simon Pegg's was one that was particular fantastic, playing Benji very well.

All in all, a great movie, however more dramatic than the other Mission Impossible movies (at least, more dramatic than Ghost Protocol). I quite enjoyed this movie, exactly what you would expect out of a movie from the Mission Impossible franchise. I give it a 4.4/5, for it was a great movie, but I would've preferred more "Tom Cruise on a motorcycle" (which I did get, and that bit was AWESOME!) and less "Tom Cruise in heated and intense negotiations with terrorists".


Monday, August 10, 2015

My Movie Bucket List

As I was doing my usual nightly routine of browsing Wikipedia till I fall asleep at the computer (I read somewhere that exposure to information was helpful for being creative.), I came across Rotten Tomatoes's Top 100 Movies of All Time, and after browsing through them (basically reading the synopsis of every single one of the movies I hadn't already watched), I realized that there are a lot of movies that I haven't watched that are apparently(?) good. So here is my movie bucket list... I will be updating, editing, and revising the list.

In no particular order (well, I guess the shortest to longest movies would be the ideal order to watch them, unless they are sequels/prequels to one another):

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Note to self: read the books first. I know you kind of gave up on the Fellowship of the Ring after 200 pages or so, but do it so you can experience the movie(s).

2. Citizen Kane Note to self: Keep in mind that this movie was kind of revolutionary in the art of movie storytelling. Also, don't get annoyed at the old movie quality. DEAL WITH IT.

3. The Wizard of Oz (1939) for obvious reasons

4. All About Eve Old comedies are usually good comedies

5. The Mission Impossible Movies that I haven't already watched

6. The Terminator Movies that I haven't already watched (except Genisys, cuz screw Genisys)

7. E.T : The Extra-Terrestrial for obvious reasons

8. A Hard Day's Night Old comedies are usually good comedies

9. Whiplash because J.K. Simmons

10. Metropolis Note to self: don't get annoyed at it being a silent. DEAL WITH IT.

11. Mad Max and Mad Max: Fury Road because I really wanted to see Fury Road, but I think I should watch the first one before that

12. Inside Out because is it really any good?

13. The Maltese Falcon for obvious reasons

14. TFiOS and Paper Towns for obvious reasons

15. Rear Window old timey mystery? Yes please!

16. Selma for obvious reasons

I've noticed that I've used for obvious reasons a lot, but that should be for obvious reasons.

17. Dr. Strangelove because Stanley Kubrick amongst other reasons

18. The Iron Giant for obvious reasons

19. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it comes out because OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMOMGOMGOMGOMGOGMOGMGOMGOMGOMGOGMGOMG

and finally, 20. Mulan OKAY OKAY DON'T HATE ME FOR NOT HAVING SEEN IT YET, but I can explain: it's on this list because I remember watching it, but I basically have no recollection of the movie whatsoever, other than "You must be swift as a coursing river!"

Strikethrough = I have watched it after writing this movie bucket list

Saturday, August 8, 2015

There's No Reason To Worry #5

Sanjay bolted up, gasping for breath, drenched in sweat, chills all across his body.

"Dude, you okay?" asked Aaron. 

Still gasping, Sanjay replied, "No... not at all..."

"Tell me what happened, lemme get you some water." Aaron walked down to the kitchen and got a glass of water for Sanjay. As he came back upstairs, Sanjay was gone. "What the hell?" Aaron slowly walked downstairs again, and there was Sanjay in his study, pacing furiously. "The hell you think you're doing?!"

"I-I-- I had a dream."

"No shit, Sherlock."

"No, it was important, I've never had this before."

"Why do I care? I've only been your roommate for what, 3 weeks?"

Sanjay vaulted over his desk, blowing papers every which way, and grabbed Aaron's shirt, pushing him against the wall. 

"DAMMIT! What the hell you think you're doing?!"

"If I let you stay here, I can sure as hell kick you out. Now shut the hell up and LISTEN." Aaron had no reply. Sanjay let Aaron go and went back to pacing on the other side of the desk. "I had... a dream. A vision, you might call it. It was of this dark figure, a ghost, like an imprint of a past soul departed."

"Fancy vocabulary, Mister Harvard Scholar," Aaron muttered. Sanjay took no notice. 

"I went to a house. He called it "the Abyss", whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. And then, all I remember is falling, falling into this black hole of sorts. Then, nothing. I could feel the ghosts around me, like I was prey, but then I heard some piano, and then here I am."

Aaron didn't say anything for a while, his face pale-white with fear. "So, you're saying that you saw a ghost, and then you fell into an ethereal black hole?" As Aaron went over the information aloud, the color rushed back into his face, as did the skepticism.


"BS!" Sanjay clenched his fists and twisted his neck in an attempt to control his anger, then sat down at the desk in front of him, motioning for Aaron to do the same. "I'm not sitting down! You explain yourself RIGHT NOW!" 

"I did," Sanjay said with a cold intensity, "I told you everything." Now it was Aaron who was pacing.

After much contemplation (and pacing), Aaron said quietly, "Isn't it obvious then? We have to investigate!" Aaron ran out of the room, up the stairs to his bedroom, and came back down with his brown leather jacket, his iPhone, and a backpack before Sanjay said anything. "I'm not sure about this." Sanjay eyed the bag suspiciously.

"Dude! There's nothing in the bag!"

"Then why the hell do you NEED IT?!"

"Well, I do have some stuff in here." Sanjay motioned for Aaron to empty the backpack. Aaron proceeded to take out a flashlight ("I read somewhere that ghosts hate light"), a metal ring with several large carabiner clips on it ("It'll help us get into the haunted house, trust me"), and a considerable length of rope ("I am not falling into some black hole!"). 

"That's a lot of nothing."

"OK! You got me! Now can we go?!"

"Dude, I was the one who had the dream. If you saw what I saw, you wouldn't be so eager to go."

"But I didn't, so GET A MOVE ON!"

"Fine," Sanjay relented.

In a few minutes, Sanjay had a similar backpack to Aaron, along with a water bottle, his laptop, and kitchen knife.

The two went outside and were met with the biting winter cold. Few stars could be seen in the black expanse of the night sky. Sanjay shuddered. Shivering, Aaron and Sanjay navigated the streets of Clare View Point until they found the house they were looking for. Aaron made a note of the address on his phone. 88 Rory Ln. The two made their way up the concrete steps to the door of the house. Sanjay hesitated as Aaron opened the door and walked in. "Are you sure this is legal?" Sanjay asked.

"Since when did you ever care about the legality of your actions?"

"Ever since I realized that getting killed by ghost-devils in a haunted house would be a bad idea."

"Touche... Well, are you coming or not?"

Sanjay inhaled sharply, then closed his eyes and, with Aaron by his side, stepped across the threshold.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Changing Education

As I was internet-ting today, I came across a very thought-provoking video calling, "Don't Stay In School". It's good. Watch it:

Watched it? Okay. Now here are my thoughts on it. First off, let me say that if you had learned the things mentioned in the video that Dave (that's his name) didn't learn, and you say that it's his fault for not being educated, that is fundamentally wrong, because just because you may have had the opportunity for a better education, that doesn't mean that everybody else does. School is to prepare us for what is to come after it... entering the workforce, getting a job, becoming a functioning member of society. It is to educate us on how to be productive and helpful to society. It allows us to get skills and knowledge useful to use in the future, and along the way, introducing students to new avenues of thought, different perspectives, new things and ideas. And this is how it is a fundamentally flawed system.

I actually have written a few essays on the subject of how the public schooling system is flawed in more ways than one. This entire blog post will probably be a point in support of that conclusion.

<sidenote> Oh dear, it's already becoming too mechanical and structured isn't it.... <sidenote>

The first of these essays, which I wrote roughly 3 years ago and submitted in as a paper in school was about how I shouldn't have to write that essay in the first place... I got a 100 for it. :D Basically, I was detailing how classes shouldn't have to be taken unless I had an interest in them and they would directly positively impact my education and future in the workforce. I also had a paragraph (or two) for how it was necessary to introduce all kids to everything they possibly could be introduced to to see what they are interested in, instead of taking it out of their life without ever exposing it to the student. I know, very similar to the message of the video at the end.

Another one of these essays, I was talking about how essays, especially ones of the carte blanche variety were infinitely more useful in demonstrating and encouraging creativity and learning than standardization, memorization, and other such mindless tasks. For instance, multiple choice tests often discourage creativity for limiting the answer choices and not allowing you to back up your answers, or to introduce a new perspective on the topic at hand because it is one-sided: right or wrong. What would be more beneficial to learning would be to, say, write an essay about how the rock cycle has affected a specific region (of your choosing) instead of a multiple choice test with questions about the rock cycle. Both would involve learning about the rock cycle, but the essay would force the student to actually learn about the rock cycle and how it interacts with other natural cycles in the Earth, rather than just memorizing the rock cycle and its components.

Dave notes in the video that schools often do not properly prepare students for the real world, and I'm not sure whether or not me being a high-schooler affects the weight my opinion carries on this matter (if any), but I feel as though this is true. I have gone through 8 to 9 years of the public school system, and only one of those years have taxes even been mentioned. Guess which grade? 6th? 8th?

Nope. It was 3rd. Make of that what you will, but there should have been some more lessons throughout my academic ... career? I guess you could call it. Teach me about how to file taxes, teach me where my money goes, teach me what matters in the real world! Sure, there are 4 more years of high school to go, but I get to choose those courses for myself, and due to the way the (flawed) GPA system works, financial literacy and other such courses are not part of my 4-year-plan because of their lower weighted GPA. Other such things are also affected by the flawed GPA system, such as fine arts being only regulars or honors courses, instead of being what might be called AP. Once again, we see how the emphasis on grades affects the education system negatively. 

People will say that if you give students the choice to choose their courses too early on, and without boundaries and limits, the students just won't choose some courses. I mean, what student in their right mind would choose AP Calculus BC? Those people are denying the intrinsic human quality of curiosity within each and every one of us. Especially children. We most definitely would seek out challenges and seek out education were it not so thrust on us, forced upon us in such a way to discourage us from liking it. Perhaps that is the teacher's job, to make sure we love to learn and stay curious. Us kids like to learn new interesting things, things that will help us in the future. If you recommend to me that AP Calculus would help me later down the road majorly, then I would definitely take it! But if you force me to take that course, then I would hate it, because kids don't like to be told what to do. 

Maybe that's what school does to us. It makes us obedient, slaves to society (metaphorically speaking, hold your horses now!), obeying its every whim. School weeds out creativity, makes going against the current against the rules as well, and makes doing something different or off the wall crazy discouraged. But that's what has gotten us so far as a human race! Creative people not backing down from being told that their work is stupid, won't stand a chance, useless, garbage, that is what has improved life so drastically. And unless we start making changes to our education system, to put creativity and self-thought first and grades second, unless we allow students the freedom to choose their courses to fit their future, unless we teach the basic life skills necessary to be functioning members of society, then we will still be in the dark. Change is necessary for progress, whether you like it or not.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

There's No Reason To Worry #4

"Dude, how the hell is this an Abyss?" said Sanjay, "Like, it's on the second floor for crying out loud! I think you and your team of researchers need to go back to the drawing board," he jerked his head to the rest of the wraith-like figures. If Sanjay was going to die, or was going to be kissed by the Dementors over there or whatever, then his snarky comments wouldn't matter... right?

The dark figure motioned for Sanjay to go forward into the room, and all the fear came back to him. Oh shit... this is it, isn't it? As Sanjay and the dark figure glided across the molded floor and through the mass of other dark figures, Sanjay could see a blackness on the floor in front of him.

"Mr. Patel, you know what to do." Sanjay couldn't reply, he was frozen, he couldn't even let himself go into the Abyss. The dark figure whispered once more, "You know what to do."

Falling, falling, into nothingness. Black all around. An indistinct murmur seemed to surround Sanjay, voices overlapping and fading out. In fact, Sanjay wasn't even sure he was hearing anything. The deafening silence gave way to one cohesive whisper, "You know what to do." Sanjay closed his eyes. Suddenly, Sanjay felt an ice-cold something brush his neck. Then another, and another, all different experiences. He tried to turn around, but couldn't. An eternity passed, an eternity of blackness, of silence, of nothing. Then, a piano. The whispers were still there, but a piano, it was there too, like an undertone. It was peaceful enough, but it just made Sanjay more eager to get out of there. Ah, he recognized the melancholy piece, Reverie by Debussy. He was on edge, the dissonance accenting his fright, his mental pleas for help. And then as the piece reverted back to the main melody, Sanjay closed his eyes again. Focus on the music, focus on the music, lose yourself in it. Be the keys, be the pedals, be the piano. And as the final arpeggio resounded around the blackness, and Sanjay shed a tear for such beauty, it was over.

Though his eyes were still closed, the black turned to red and yellow. As his eyes fluttered open, the Debussy was still playing in his head. Sanjay shuddered at what had just happened. Still thinking of the Abyss, he observed his surroundings. What the hell? He was back at home. In fact he could hear Mr. Davies protesting once more. As Sanjay got up from his desk and walked cautiously into the living room, expecting the dark figure to be around every corner, he noticed a dark wisp of smoke swirling about around the house. He continued to search every room of the house, each and every one of which contained the black smoke. When Sanjay finished inspecting his house for unwanted creatures, he sat back down at his desk and started to finish the paperwork strewn every which way. The black smoke was still present, but Sanjay thought nothing. As he started to doze off (paperwork takes a long time!), the black smoke seemed disturbed. It swirled more vigorously, like an insidious cloud of evil. When Sanjay's eyes closed, the black smoke surged into his chest. He sat straight up, wide awake.

When his eyes opened, they were filled with blackness.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

There's No Reason To Worry #3

"What the hell does that mean?"

The dark figure walked over to the kitchen and grabbed the knife block off the island. The house was spacious, contemporary, with modern lights, finishes, and all around metallic design choices. There were two floors, and as Sanjay was clumsily sprinting up the steps to the second floor, the dark figure walked over to the stair case.

"Hey man, we can w-work this out-t-t.... I have money, here, have it all," Sanjay stammered as he dug out a couple dollars from his jeans. The dark figure swatted the bills away, threw the knife block at Sanjay, and continued up the steps. Sanjay instinctively ducked, the knives flying out of the wood and impaling the opposite wall.

The dark figure spoke once more, "Mr. Patel, come with me," before vanishing into thin air. Sanjay stood on the steps, confused, scared, and angry all in one. This is all that Davies fault! The knives remained in the walls as Sanjay walked cautiously down the steps and around to the back door.

As he opened it, he realized that it had suddenly turned dark, bugs were out and about, and Mr. Davies and gone back inside. Sanjay ran to the other side of the backyard and vaulted over the fence into the opposite house's backyard. He squatted low to the ground, and he could here the normality of the family within the house. "So, Jacob, how was school today? What did you learn?" said the mother, almost pleading her teenage boy to answer anything other than "Nothing." But alas, that did not happen. Sanjay tuned out their extraneous noise and focused on what was at hand. The dark figure. Right. Now where did he go? Sanjay looked over his shoulder at the fence. Nothing. Nobody.

Suddenly, a hand grabbed Sanjay's neck. He whipped around, heart racing, to find nothing. "Hey, if you want me to follow, maybe show yourself," he said contemptuously. And there he was, the dark figure, barely visible in the darkness.

"Follow me, Mr. Patel."

The dark figure drifted across the grass and through the fence. What the--

"Mr. Patel, if you hope to follow me, you'll have to move." And then Sanjay was moving, but not by his own will. He too was drifting across the grass and through the fence. The neighboring house seemed abandoned, the paint peeling, the grass thick and unruly, the wood rotting.

Wisely, Sanjay adopted a respectful tone before speaking, "Sir, I don't understand what you want with me." The figure knuckles became white, but that was just for an instant before he turned around and responded.

"You'll see."

"No! I don't see anything. It's dark, and there are bugs, and I have work tomorrow! Let me go!" Sanjay said desperately.

"You'll see." The dark figure drifted over to the back door, bringing Sanjay with him despite Sanjay wanting desperately to flee. The door opened of its own accord, and as they stepped inside, Sanjay gagged from the smell. The kitchen still had a pot with some indistinguishable liquid(s), and the fridge had streaks of the same liquid(s). As they went through the living room to the second floor, Sanjay pleaded

"Sir, I have to GO HOME!" No response. The dark figure went up the stairs with his prisoner, and as they went up, the colder it got. On the top step, ice had formed, and Sanjay tried to resist going up.

"Resistance is futile, Mr. Patel," the dark figure said in a different voice. His voice seemed to be the collection of many. And then Sanjay was unable to utter a sound. As they went up the steps, Sanjay closed his eyes. "Seeing is believing, Mr. Patel." His eyes were opened, without the dark figure even touching him. When they reached the landing, Sanjay couldn't believe his eyes.

"Welcome, to the Abyss."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

There's No Reason To Worry #2

The murders had been going on for a while now. Citizens were starting to get scared. All along Beache Road, Roger Davies, the old man that used to be on city council, had started petitioning the government to call for the National Guard. Signs lined the sidewalks on people's front lawns. "Mr. Stuart has done NOTHING! CALL IN THE GUARD!" Davies wasn't the only one. Mr. Locke from Douglass Street had also riled up his neighbors. He could be seen going about in the evenings door-to-door, asking people to sign some petition or other. Rumor had it that there was going to be a (hopefully peaceful, but who knows?) protest in the town square Sunday afternoon. The pressure was piling up on Mr. Stuart and the rest of the city's police force. The sheriff was constantly getting notifications from his deputy about the situation of unrest in Clare View Point. "Mr. Stuart, you might want to see this." Each instance of protest more unruly and savage than the last.

And throughout the fiasco in the town, the dark figure continued to seemingly bring about these deaths, and now, the victims were identifiable. Of course, the dark figure remained out of sight, his clandestine outings to the crime scenes as discreet as ever. Or was he? He had already been spotted once, an over-enthusiastic police man's 5 block perimeter had seen to that, though they didn't recognize him. Soon enough, he melted into he shadows, escaping with his wits about him. Still, either he was getting reckless or the police were getting more diligent, more likely the former.


"Mrs. Edna, Mr. McCullum, bless their souls! These murders are getting out of hand, Mr. Stuart, and you better do something about it before we do!" Ugh, it was that fool, Roger. What was it with him? His signs were nightmarishly ugly as well, a dark purple with bright yellow text ruining the entirety of Beach Road!!! Sanjay Patel was getting sick and tired of it. In fact, he was going out there right now to end this madness! Sanjay opened the door and walked out to the sidewalk.

"Davies! What on earth do you think you're doing?"

"Isn't it obvious, young man?"

Sanjay blurted out the first thing that came to mind, dripping with sarcasm... probably not the best thing to do when dealing with an old guy who was already riled up.

"Yeah! You're going to save the city! You keep at it, and you might even LOSE A FEW POUNDS!"

"What. Did. You. Say. To. Me," Mr. Davies said with his jaw set.

"I said, 'YOU MIGHT EVEN LOSE A FEW POUNDS!'" Sanjay retorted, Mr. Davies "better-than-you" attitude spurring him on.



Oops... that probably wasn't the best thing to say with a murderer on the loose. Sanjay froze as Mr. Davies jaw dropped. After what felt like an hour, Sanjay made a rude gesture to Mr. Davies and sprinted back to his house. After he slammed the door shut and locked it (who knows what the crabby old man might do to him?!), Sanjay rested against the door, panting.

"I've been waiting for you, Mr. Patel."

A dark figure stood before Sanjay. Though there was sunlight streaming through the blinds in the living room, the figure still seemed to be indistinct. He was wearing a long black trench coat and sunglasses, his features blurred by the mysterious haze.

"Who the hell are you?" Sanjay whispered.

"You'll see."

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Minions - Average Joe Review

So, on July 25, 2015, I went to the theater to see another movie (I forgot what it was called), but because it was really boring, I moved to the theater to the right and saw Minions, start to finish. Hey, movies cost a lot these days, you gotta get your money's worth! And this is my (spoiler-free) review of the movie.

First off, if you hate the Minions and how they have taken over pop culture (one, how can you LIVE WITH YOURSELF?!), this review isn't for you (well, it is for you, but you probably won't share my opinions about the movie). Okay? Okay. OOOPS, I forgot that that's from TFiOS, oops, I hope this isn't like sued or anything. No copied right in fridge mint in tent dead!

A surprisingly funny movie, Minions is an interesting way to go about expanding the Despicable Me brand. In all their lovable banana loving goodness, people seem to be kind of binary towards them. Either you love 'em, or you think they're despicable. Get it? Because Despicable Me and Minions..... I'll show myself out. 

I feel the need for a new paragraph to distance myself from the pun. This movie highlighted why people love these yellow pills so much (that did not come out right) but it also showed me why people hate them so much. They're just too much sometimes. Sure, most of the jokes and humor in this movie were great, but some were just off the mark, too childish. I remember vividly once that a joke was made, and then nobody laughed. It wasn't very funny, it was just there to be a joke, to remind you that it's a comedy movie.

<sidenote> I won't be going over the plot of the movie in this, so you can just read this plot summary by Rotten Tomatoes <sidenote>

The beginning of the movie was very Stanley-Parable-esque, with the narrator showing us the entire history of the Minions, from them being single-celled organisms to their adventures (or should I say mishaps) with dinosaurs, cavemen, and big bears (that Agnes would probably say, "HE'S SO FWUFFY!!!!") The humor is spot on, but I felt some of it was a bit... much? There's this one scene involving a bank robbery, but guns are shown (revolvers) and it seemed out of place, at least to me, in a kids movie. As were several other jokes that I won't elaborate upon... you can watch the trailers.

The characters were great too! I bet there will be those few in the crowd that say, "THE MINIONS DON'T GROW OR CHANGE AT ALL!!!" and they would be right. But that's not to say that it's not a bad thing. Minions, a mon avis, are already fleshed out in the other movies, and that cute, playful personality is the star of the show here. Scarlet (why do I think it should be spelled with two t's?) is pure evil. A backstabbing traitor who takes advantage of the Minions' innocence. I thoroughly despised (I know, I know, that was bad) her by the end of the movie, which is a good thing!

The action was great too, with the sequences feeling natural and right at home with the rest of the movie, highlighting the villain's shortcomings and the Minions' unwitting skill for saving the day. Something to note: the main characters can barely communicate in English (Minionese being their first language... for the dictionary, click here), yet the movie still told a story. That itself is something to be applauded (not really, but just putting it out there...

That mismatched parentheses is really annoying you isn't it? I'll keep it just 'cuz. (^_^)

All in all, this movie was OKAY. Often times humor fell short of the mark, but it made up for it at other parts. In the end, the rollercoaster of Minions is worth a 3.7/5. Some parts were downright hysterical, but others had crickets chirping in the audience. Watch it if you love the Minions and can't get enough of their adventures!

That is all


Monday, July 20, 2015

Ant-Man - Average Joe Review

So, on July 18-19, 2015, I went to the theater to see Ant-Man. And this is my review of the movie.
(July 18-19 because it started at about 10:20 and lasted until 12:30 at night)

First off, this review doesn't contain any spoilers for Ant-Man. You're welcome.
Ah, another year, another pair of Marvel movies. Last year was probably the best year of Marvel movies yet, a mon avis. (2012 being the second best because of the Avengers, but come on, two movies are better than one!... I know some of you might not share the same thoughts.) and I still stand by that. 2015 was great, sure, with Age of Ultron and Ant-Man broadening up (or should I say SHRINKING up... get it? Oh wait... it doesn't make sense. I feel the need for a facepalm emoji), but The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy? It doesn't get much better than that.

Anyways, back to Ant-Man (which is what this post is supposed to be about). The movie is primarily a heist film, like TWS was a thriller/action-y type film and GOTG was... sci-fi? I guess so. Meet Scott Lang, ex con that just got out of jail and needs to get a job to reconnect with his daughter... I think? Eh, it's a long story. So, he heard from his boy Luis who heard it from Carlos who heard it from this chick that got some money to spread the rumor from a certain prominent character, I won't say who (gasps for air) that there is a job (a burglary. What do you expect? They're ex cons!) for them to break into a safe. Some stuff happens, Scott Lang becomes Ant-Man, yadayadayada(Stuff that I can't touch upon here for fear of spoilers)yadayadayadayada. The science of the Ant-Man suit is that it uses a particle called the Pym Particle that moves atoms closer together. The Pym Particle, however, was hidden away by Hank Pym. Darren Cross is trying to recreate that, and that's where Scott comes in. (For more information without spoilers, read the first 3 paragraphs of this).

Ant-Man definitely brought something new to the table in terms of how the action was presented. TWS was great at this, but the shrinking aspect of the Ant-Man (and Yellow Jacket) suit was... interesting. I feel as though they could've done a little more with this, as usually when Scott shrinks, we don't see him as a tiny person, instead we see the person he's beating up. (YAY! for run on sentences!) Also, the effects on this shrinking aspect, a mon avis could've been done better, for there was always a wispy white afterimage that detracted from the effect.

Throughout all the action, Ant-Man managed to not take itself too seriously, something that was definitely important for a movie named Ant-Man. Humor was apparent throughout, a lot of which was spoiler with the clips posted on YouTube and the trailer(s). However, the characters were also very memorable. Luis in particular was hilarious, his ramblings being intercut with different (relatively minor) characters speaking in his voice being particularly amusing. Michael Pena and Scott Lang did a very good job at incorporating such humor.

Now for the final heist (DON'T WORRY I'M NOT GOING TO SPOIL IT!). There is a subplot involving Scott and Scott's ex-wife's fiancee, Scott being an escaped-criminal and whatever. Anyways, the way the incorporated the subplot in with the heist scene(s) was quite hilarious as well, most of the characters involved having a humor about them as it were.

I give Ant-Man a 4.4/5 on this arbitrary scale of my opinionated statements that you may or may not agree with. The movie was hilarious and action-packed, but the way the shrinking aspect was carried out detracted from it, thus the 0.7 being knocked off. Oh, and it got an extra 0.1 for being one of the few movies that my dad did not fall asleep during. This is definitely a welcome edition to the already huge Marvel Cinematic Universe.


PS Stay till the very end, there is a mid-credits and an post-credits scene.

PPS I'm pretty sure that the credits said nothing like "No ants were harmed in the making of this film." Make of that what you will.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What Is Art?

Because I was bored, and had nothing better to do (actually I do have better stuff to do, but that involves me doing something useful, so... yeah... no.) I started watching old Idea Channel videos and the first few deal with what is art (but you already knew what this was going to be about because of the title)?

In one of the videos, he states a very striking quote by Leo Tolstoy (author of War and Peace and AKA LOLstoy):

To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling - this is the activity of art.” 

And I agree wholeheartedly with the quote. Art must make you feel something or make you think about something or make an impact on you in some way. Otherwise, it isn't art, it's just background noise that you take in and throw out. Art may be incomprehensible, but it can still impact you. That's why, despite what other people out there say, movies and video games are art (more on that in this video). The Last of Us made me feel something, emotions, about loss, desperation, the feeling of inevitable doom that came with it. Sadness, happiness, triumph. However, a mon avis, Pac-Man didn't make me feel anything, anything lasting anyways. As one of the comments in that video says, art makes a lasting impression on you, one that stays with you for however long. A mon avis, good art makes a lasting impression on you, and you remember it.

However, bear in mind that people may not interpret art the way you do. It (most likely) won't make them feel the same way you do, it won't make them conjure up the same emotions, memories, as you do. Art, in that sense is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. Some may not be able to feel things that others may be deeply impacted by. For instance, me not understanding how people see Pac-Man as art is probably because I can't understand how other people think. After all, we're different people, and emotions are one of those things that are pretty much indescribable in the same way that pain is. (For more on that, watch this video.) That's why, I think, that abstract art was severely discouraged hundreds of years ago. People didn't have an open mind, they weren't, I think, ready to understand, they didn't want to. People back then were much less accepting than we are today. But we still are close-minded, as a people. That's how art can move people. I think (I might be wrong) art was a huge contributor in the the movements of acceptance seen in history. Women's rights (I dunno if that was punctuated properly), abolitionism, and in recent times, gay rights. Art has given us a different perspective on things, a way to see things from different angles, to feel others' feelings, to understand. As LOLSTOY said, art is supposed to evoke feelings in the hope that others can feel it too. The distinction between good art and bad art is completely in the hands eyes mind of who is absorbing the art.

Ultimately art is completely subjective. What you think is art may not be what I think is art. But all art must make an impact on you. Music, literature, film, video games, videos, all these things move you. Books, they take you on a journey, through the ups and downs. Music evokes emotion, happiness, sadness, intensity (if that even qualifies as an emotion). All these things make an impact on you, and that's what I think separates art from the background noise, the stuff you filter out, the stuff that is virtually useless. Just keep in mind that one person's background noise can be another's Monet.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Jurassic World - Average Joe Review

So, on June 27, 2015, I went to the theater to see Jurassic World. And this is my review of the movie.

Before I enter the review itself, lemme just say that I wonder how many people will spot the similarities between this AJR and my last one (technically also my first one). By the way, I wanted to put an emoji in that set of parentheses, but please refer to this web comic for more information on that subject.

First off, this review doesn't contain any spoilers for Jurassic World. So don't fear. HOWEVER comma there may be some spoilers for those who haven't watched the trailer. (^u^) WHOA I came up with that emoji on the spot... my emoji skills have leveled up!

Jurassic World is about the Indominus Rex (dun dun DUUUN!!), a product of gene splicing that scientists at the Jurassic World theme park, uh,.... I'll use the movie's phrasing: "cooked up in that lab" due to the CEO (I think, his accent was kind of annoying, but it wasn't just for comic relief) realizing that kids in the present day no longer were scared by the current dinosaurs at the park and wanting even bigger, scarier, epic-er, bigger dinosaurs. Thus, the Indominus Rex was born. And now you know the premise of the movie... guess what happens next? 

<sidenote> I'm not going to tell you, because some people may consider it a "major spoiler". <sidenote>

Two boys, Zach and Gray, enter the park at the beginning of the movie, given VIP passes because their mother is the sister of Claire Dearing, a main scientist person. The bits with the boys at the beginning were a bit slow, but as the story progressed and the boys interacted with (or rather, ran away from) the dinos, I started to like them. One thing to note is that there was some exposition about the boys' parents getting a divorce, but I think that was to exemplify the boys' characters: the younger one, Gray, is fragile and excited at everything... innocent? I think is the right word. And Zach is pretty much the opposite, with a (sorta) tough attitude towards everything. I feel as though the characters were pretty original, but I'll get to that later.

Owen Grady, a Velociraptor trainer who has a particularly good relationship with the raptors and played by Chris Pratt (excuse me, Starlord) is constantly being approached by Vic Hoskins about how the raptors could be used as weapons in war, but Owen has a definite "No," in response. Alas, Hoskins keeps pushing. The whole concept of two storylines intertwining as a result of one character that bridges the two together, often seen in books, really resonates with me, and here, it's done very well.

The score was ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT, and it perfectly complimented the scene. The entire movie kept me on edge, either from sheer nervousness (WHERE IS THAT FREAKING DINOSAUR?!?!?!) or from my admiration for the pure and stunning beauty of the setting of the park. The visuals were absolutely astounding, dinosaurs looking scarily realistic. The Indominus was genuinely frightening, especially when it roared (so basically every single scene it was in). I really appreciate how the movie made me scared WITHOUT using stupid jumpscares, even though it wasn't even a horror movie. I felt as though I was there with the characters in the park... pretty awesome CG!

Everything culminates into ONE HUGE FINALE at the end (no duh, would it be at the beginning?) which I won't spoil in this. Needless to say, it was EPIC!!!!!! A Mon Avis, though, the film could've easily done without the second-to-last scene, and just ended at the very end of the huge battle. I understand that some people might've hated the lack of closure, but each to his (or her) own opinion. Chris Pratt's character is a TOTAL BAWS at the end (and throughout the movie as well). I definitely enjoyed seeing the chemistry between the brothers develop, as before, they weren't too close. I could see the characters grow throughout the movie, which is (almost) always important, to me at least.

I give Jurassic World a 4.8/5, the .2 knocked off for the (kinda sorta) boring exposition at the beginning. It was a worthy addition to the Jurassic Park franchise. The sheer wonder of it all, the scary dinos, the beauty of the island, and the intensity and pace of the plot progression all culminated into one of my favorite movies, probably ever!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Frighteningly Chaotic

As a young child, in elementary school, white noise on the TV scared the crap out of me. Those chaotic pixels dancing around in some morbid display of randomness, that was frightening. I don't know why, but randomness is scary to me. To not know what is coming, to be unsure of myself, and to put my faith in others when I don't know if they will do their job, that's scary. (If you want to know more about randomness in general, watch these two videos:

I guess I'm kind of a control freak over everything, everything needs to be exactly the way I want it, or else I feel like I'm not in control (which I wouldn't be), I would feel rejected, like I'm just some annoying fly buzzing around everyone, and they just disregard the noise. I used to have dreams of absolutely everything, and of nothing. The dreams of nothing, just a blank black background, was soothing, and whenever I had these dreams, I didn't get disturbed by anything in reality. I was calmed by the order of nothing, of something that contained no information. In contrast, the randomness of daily life, whether or not something important will happen, is scary. The mundane nature of life has got me stuck in this rut of wake up, go to school, come home, do homework, practice violin, do chess, eat dinner, go to sleep. The same thing, day in, day out. The thing is, I don't want to be a person that does that for the rest of their life. I want to do something fun, something interesting, something impactful on the world, and I bet that a simple desk job with the same routine until I die won't fulfill this need to leave the world a significantly better place than I left it. Some people might say that to leave the world a better place, you just have to spread happiness and love to others, and that is possible to do no matter your circumstances (unless you're in solitude, in which case, hope you have a good book!), and I agree with those people, but I want to make a mark, to do something awesome, to be the next Elon Musk or Steve Jobs of the world. I want to change the world for the better. I want to be remembered.

I feel as though there is a set path for modern life. You go to school, get good grades, go to a good college or university, get a good job, get married, have kids, retire, and die. And that is a pretty good life, I'm not saying that it isn't. But I don't want to be another brick in the wall, just another person that lived a life and died a death. I feel as though I'm being redundant, but I want to get my point across. I don't want to leave this Earth until I feel as though I have achieved what I feel is the most I can achieve, until I have spread the most happiness and love that I possibly could. And that's why I feel like dying limits us so much. Life is so small, and death is eternal, so we must cherish every last moment, for in the years we live, we will leave 1,000 times that in solitude (probably, I don't really know, and I don't want to be that guy that forces his beliefs on others, but I'm a pessimist, so I think that death is just like an empty dream.... forever), without the ability to interact with others. A lonely, cold world without a thought to be thought. Before I die, I want to do something.

Oh, and by the way, all of you guys are invited to my funeral. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


The voice
The face
The person
Faded from existence

Dead forever
Never to come back
They will sleep
An eternal slumber

The paint peels, albeit
Slowly over time
But when it's gone
The beauty is gone

Some may choose
To look at the blank canvas
To see what could be
But, what isn't really there

Everything exists
For fractions of time
To lead a life, to
Do something


Yet those too
Will fade from existence
Merely a memory, lost and
Forgotten, floating on the wind

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


It's scary
To say the least
To venture into the dark
Where nobody else has gone

Into the future
Away from the known
To the places of discovery
And regret

Change can cause
Great things
It can be embraced
With open arms

But change can cause
Great things
It can be feared
Causing regret and loss

All around us
It swirls, a great storm
Of cold, and of warmth
Of uncertainty

Change is the
Driving force of us all
Though we may
Not welcome it
Into our lives
It causes revelation
And it causes loss

But more than
Anything else

Monday, June 8, 2015

4th Grade Me

AS I was rummaging through my school stuff from forever ago, I found my 4th grade PACE (the gifted and talented program) binder underneath a heap of loose papers and pencils, amongst... other things. My thoughts:

RIGHT off the bat, the front cover of the binder is bent horribly out of shape, and the crease is still there. Scrawled onto the front cover (presumably before it was bent) in my (surprisingly legible) 4th grade handwriting, it says, "P A C E," circled in very faint pencil. Right beneath that, in the dead center of the cover, is a random rectangle (quite exact, I probably traced something when I was bored in class) with curved corners (also presumably drawn/traced before the "bend"). In the top left hand corner is my name, this time in Sharpie... Might I note that the way I wrote my name back then is the same way I wrote my name last year. (-_-) There are some other random pencil markings on the front, but now for the.... WAIT. I just found my name (again) written in barely distinguishable pencil in the top right hand corner. I don't know why I wrote my name there, and then again in the other corner (probably because... no, I don't have a clue), but I did. DEAL WITH IT.

NOW, for the inside of the binder. I am met with a (very Illuminati-esque) drawing/sketch/something-very-ugly on half a sheet of green construction paper. Y'know what, I'll take a picture of it:

YEAH, I'll let you decide for yourself what it is. My interpretation of it is that someone else in the class  taught me how to draw cubes, and I just went crazy with it. I DON'T EVEN KNOW. (-_-)

NEXT up, a worksheet titled Science "Fiction" Can Become Science "Fact" (all in horribly ugly Comic Sans, might I add). 20,000 Leagues, Jules Verne, 1870, yadayadayadaydadaya. The excerpt is about how the captain of the Nautilus got electricity, not unlike how we get it today. Note that basically EVERYTHING is highlighted. NEXT PAGE

THERE'S a page with a black and white image titled "Pranav's Constellation" with a bunch of white stars everywhere, all labeled with something that applied to me (in one way or another):

Family; Mom and Dad; Video Games (the only one that was printed, the rest were pencilled in); Life; Argue in the Supreme Court; Chess; My Dream House; Education. Interesting list, considering that this was 4 years ago. 

OOOOH, AN INTERESTING ONE THIS TIME. "Characteristics of an Effective Leader" is the title of this worksheet, and it lists about 20 characteristics, asking me to rank my top 5 most important characteristics of a leader. Here are all the options: Ambitious, Honest, Broadminded, Imaginative, Caring, Independent, Competent, Inspiring, Courageous, Intelligent, Dependable, Loyal, Determined, Mature, Fair-Minded, Self-Controlled, Forward-Looking, Straightforward, Supportive. Each adjective has a brief list of synonyms to help my 4th-grade self comprehend such big words (not that I needed them, mind you).

My 4th grade list: 1. Ambitious (hardworking, aspiring), 2. Honest (truthful, has integrity, trustworthy, has character), 3. Caring (sensitive, appreciative, concerned, loving), 4. Intelligent (bright, thoughtful, intellectual, reflective, logical), 5. Mature (experienced, wise, has depth). 
My 8th grade list: 1. Competent (capable, productive, effective, efficient, thorough), 2. Broadminded (open-minded, flexible, receptive), 3. Dependable (reliable, conscientious, responsible), 4. Supportive (understanding, helpful), 5. Forward-Looking (visionary, foresighted, concerned about the future, sense of direction). 
I find it interesting how my list changed over time from things concerning how the leader IS to how the leader INTERACTS with others.

NEXT PAGE: Robotic type stuff. There's a calendar with everything we needed to do and when we needed to do it... basic stuff.

ON the following page are "Uses of Robots". I didn't do anything on the front, but on the back is a list of industries in which I was interested in applying robotics to. Medicine, Military, Household, Space (with a star next to it), Mining, Polar, Volcanoes, Search & Rescue, Chemical & Nuclear, Underwater/Oceanic. I remember that I wanted to do space, but my other group members, (we'll call them Anne and Dave) convinced me that military would be better. In hindsight, I think space would've been better because our military project was really lame, compared to MK's space project (which was EPIC, with a GAZILLION TURNS AND MANEUVERS). (-_-) whatever.

NEXT page, more boring planning/rubric type stuff for the robot project.
The following page is a completely highlighted page of AI Information. At the top, I just wrote out the alphabet (a b c d... CUZ WHY NOT?) and then on the back is an interesting diagram that I drew about the relationship between  "nearalogists" (neurologists) and scientists, with a bunch of indecipherable arrows pointing every which way. 

NOW, there is a manilla divider labeled "MM" for who knows what. Inside is a really complicated looking logic puzzle made up of 4x4 squares. Imagine a 3x3 grid, but each square in that 3x3 grid is also a 4x4 grid. Confused yet? Well you will be now... now take away the center, middle-right, and bottom-right square from the 3x3 grid. BOOM. That's what this logic puzzle looks like. It looks really complicated, but somehow I managed to get a 3 on a scale of 4 on the assignment. (-_-) That's technically a 75.

NEXT page... another worksheet, this time where there are a series of numbers and you have to put in an arithmetic sign to make the equation equal to the number at the end. For example, one of the problems is:

6 4 1 2 6 2 = 15
Answer: 6+4-1+2+6-2=15
Basic stuff. 

OK, so this next page is kind of (really) HILARIOUS. I dunno why, but whenever I tried to name something, or give it a tagline, I tried to alliterate it as best I could. This next page is about marketing a product. Firstly, at the top, I had to market a product that I came up with... I came up with...  wait for it.... "THE ROMANIAN RACER". (-_-) There's a really sad drawing of what appears to be a drag racer (I think that's what it's called), and around the car are some phrases: "AWESOME MPG!" and "THE FASTEST CAR AROUND!" On top of this, in the bottom right corner, in a speech bubble (the source of which is off the page) it says, "I WANT THAT CAR!"

NOW onto the good part of this page: the worksheet asks the following: 
"What would be a good 'sales pitch' for each of these products? For each product, tell what quality or benefit you would stress when designing an advertising campaign."
Here's what I came up with (the quality first, then the sales pitch):
Bread: fat free; Light Loaf is Bright!
Two things: 1) if someone is going to eat bread, they're probably not going to care whether it's fat-free or not, because if they DID care about that kind of thing, then they would be health-conscious, and then they most likely would NOT be eating bread. 2) WTF IS LIGHT LOAF?!?!?!

Margarine: non-hydrogenated oils; Better Butter is Better!
Two things: 1) the "good quality" would actually be a good thing if it were in margarine. And 2) About the tagline... actually, the tagline is PURE GOLD. 

Soda Pop: diet; Dashing Drink Makes You Dash!
2) Diet soda/pop would actually be a bad thing cuz artificial stuff and other things.
3) With "Dashing Drink" am I saying that the drink is handsome/good looking? WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!?!?!?!

Automobile: high MPG; Romanian Racer, it Rocks!
1) I think Greg (one of my friends who's Romanian) was in my PACE class or something, WHY WAS I SO OBSESSED WITH ROMANIA?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!(I'm genuinely concerned at the amount of interrobangs in this post)?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Not that that's a bad thing. (-_-)
2) If I did this kind of thing today, instead of "high MPG", I would probably put "200 MILE RANGE!" because it would probably be an electric car... oh, how times change.

Rock Group: free food; Crazy Rockers, We're Crazy About Music!
1) Wouldn't free food be up to the venue, not the performers? I'm just sayin'.....
2) Free food... I agree with my 4th-grade self... Mmmmmmmm, free food = good.

Banana: doesn't easily get bruised; Fresh Bananas, Perfectly Yellow!
Uhhhhhhhh..... "Perfectly Yellow".... HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!??!

Sweat Shirt: elastic; Stretchy Sale, the Elastic Shirts' Top Seller!
1) Can sweat shirts even be elastic?

Cereal: whole grain; Whole Grain Wonders, Makes You Wonder How We Made It
1) Finally, a legitimate claim, whole grain.

Magazine: recycled paper; Cool Cars, the Best Magazine!
Pranav, just saying that your product is the best isn't marketing... it's false-advertising.

AND that's the end of that... worksheet.

ANOTHER palindrome paper, yadayadaya, another "Fill in the blank with arithmetic operations" worksheet, something about "Houdini's Hidden Letters", another (less complicated) logic puzzle.

OH, here's something interesting... on the worksheet where we had to brainstorm environment for our robot and what its task would be in that environment, half the time I just said, "Gather data." I like the way you think, 4th-grade-Me. I like the way you think.

AND at the very back is a letter to the principal (IN CURSIVE, I MIGHT ADD!) about how we should have electric whiteboards that would save whatever was written on them to the computer, and I quote, "because people have so many brilliant ideas which have to be erased and lost forever." That's not necessarily true though... there's the memory, and if that idea is particularly outstanding, brilliant, and/or creative, then people will remember, and it won't be lost. Also, there are books, movies, blogs, paintings, sketches, and blueprints chock full of ideas that people didn't want to forget. They penned it, or drew it, or put it to memory, and that memory is now preserved indefinitely.

Hopefully like my 4th grade self is...