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.