Sunday, May 3, 2009

Extra Credit Post 1: New Wolverine Movie is Unimpressive

Warning: This blog post contains spoilers for the new X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie.

The extent of my X-Men knowledge was limited to the few episodes of X-Men: Evolution I watched when I was younger. I never read any of the comics or even watched any of the movies in the trilogy so I didn't know what to expect when I went to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine yesterday at the movie theater. I went hoping to be impressed. To see something that would draw me into the Marvel Universe and spark my interest in X-Men. The movie failed to do that completely. The best movies are the ones that draw you in emotionally and keep you on the edge of your seat, but X-Men Origins was one of the most predictable movie I have seen in a while.

Within minutes of the movie's start, Wolverine as a child kills both the man he thinks is his father and his true father. He and his brother, also a mutant, make a pact to stick together and they fight together through all of the major american wars. So begins the life of an anti-hero. After being arrested for killing an officer and failing to be executed, the brothers are offered an alternative to prison by Colonel Stryker who has started a special military unit comprised of mutants. Working for Stryker is a grisly business though, so eventually Wolverine decides he has had enough and leaves not only the unit, but his brother as well. Fast forward to five years later, Wolverine has created a new life for himself complete with a job as a logger, a girlfriend, and a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Then the trouble begins. Wolverine's girlfriend is murdered and, hungry for revenge, he goes back to Stryker for help. The help he offers is in the form of a painful operation that makes Wolverine indestructible.

The rest of the movie is basically a series of action sequences as Wolverine hunts down his brother and Stryker to exact his revenge. I thought all of the dialogue was repetitive, with people either reminding Wolverine he can be good or Wolverine going on about how he's an animal and is out for blood. And surprise! Near the end of the movie it is revealed that not only was his girlfriend not killed but she's also a mutant, something I had guessed the moment of her first appearance in the movie.

Hugh Jackman's portrayal as Wolverine was as lackluster as the rest of the movie. From what I had heard and based on the opening sequence, he was obviously supposed to be a deeply troubled character who yearned for normalcy and contentment. From what his girlfriend had said to him, he was also supposed to be someone who was capable of being a decent person and a complete animal, but if it wasn't for all the times it was said throughout the movie I would never have known. He even failed to seem all that hungry for revenge which is what made up the majority of the movie. To be honest, Jackman just seemed really grumpy.

The ending was quick and fairly anti-climatic. Another action sequence and the two brothers even go so far as to make up, or something like it, which made very little sense to me after the rest of the movie. Overall, X-Men Origins came across as a movie made to milk the X-Men franchise for all it's worth. It isn't one I would want to see again or would recommend to any of my friends.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Course Evaluation

I first signed up for ENG 111 because it is a required course. I chose which section I’d take based on it’s time slot and paid absolutely no attention to the instructor name. Even if I had, it would not have had any impact on my choice. I was new to TCC and college in general, so I really didn’t know much about any of the instructors. I also assumed the course would be incredibly dull with loads of essay writing and so figured the teacher would make little difference. If all else failed, I could switch sections. It turned out I was half right in my assumption. There really has been quite a bit of essay writing in Mr. Gasparo’s class, but it wasn't nearly as boring as I first thought it would be.

Mr. Gasparo catered to numerous learning styles which made it easy to listen, learn and participate in the class. Even someone like me, who is so shy it's almost crippling to speak to anyone unfamiliar, was able to feel comfortable enough to occassionally muster up the courage to contribute to the class. There were many open discussions which could get very lively whenever students were so inclined to participate although they could often veer off topic. The assigned readings were usually interesting enough for me to actually read without complaint, and were always relevant to the day’s lesson. The videos, music, and movies shown ranged from funny to informative and always helped strengthen my understanding in whatever was being taught that day.

My only real problems with the class were ones I created myself. I am a terrible procrastinator, and I was at my worst in this class. I would often wait until the very last moment to write an essay, and ended up missing out on peer reviews because of it. I was constantly stressed, and often had to stay up late to complete an assignment which would leave me cranky and tired the following day. It also left me time for little else. When I wasn't working I was putting off work, which often seemed nearly as bothersome. My memory of the last semester seems to be nothing more than a blur of cramming, staying up late writing, and worrying.

I’ve tried to excuse it to myself by saying that it’s because I’m new to college and not used to the workload. It's not untrue, but I realize it's also not the right way to think about it. Any time over the semester I could have attended a time management or study skills Knowledge is Power session on campus. I could have easily given myself more time for any of the assignments. I have no job and even though I am a full time student, most of my classes don't assign very much homework.

I would definitely not suggest any future students in Mr. Gasparo's ENG 111 class, or any class, use my method of getting work done. Because of my experiences over the last semester, I am definitely going to work on cutting down on procrastination from here on out so I don't have to worry so much.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Diagnostic Essays


As a child I watched a lot of cartoons about superheroes. I used to daydream about what it would be like to swing from building to building like Spiderman or fly above the city like Superman. Back then I would have given anything to have powers like those. Even today I still occasionally catch myself thinking about what it would be like to have some sort of supernatural ability and what it would be like to wake up different than I am now. If I could wake up tomorrow with the power of my choice like in my fantasies, I would want to be able to travel over any distance instantaneously.

Being able to teleport would make my life so much easier. I would no longer have to be in such a rush to learn how to drive or depend on my friends and family for rides. Buying a car could be put off for a while longer or all together. Getting to school would also be so much easier because I would not have to get up as early to get to class on time. An extra half hour in bed would be such a luxury, and not having to depend on car rides would mean that I would not have to risk being late when I could not leave on time. I could travel the world, finally able to see all the ruins I have read about without all the travel expenses. Places like Rome, the Mayan Temples, and the Great Wall would suddenly be minutes away instead of thousands of miles.

When traveling independently, teleportation would be the perfect mode of transportation. The time saved traveling would give me more time for other things and save me a lot of money. I may not end up being much of a superhero, but I definitely would not mind finding myself with such a power.


At the beginning of the semester my English instructor assigned a diagnostic essay that provided several prompts to choose from. I chose the third, which allowed for me to choose a superpower and explain what I would do with it. The ability I chose was for entirely selfish reasons. While I have always loved superheroes, I decided if I was given the chance to have a super ability I wouldn’t want to actually become one. I wanted something that would only serve to improve my own life. I chose teleportation. Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything more convenient. I could slow down on learning how to drive, or forgo it all together. The idea of driving really scares me, and I already try to avoid it at all costs. Being able to travel instantaneously would also mean I could skip the whole buying a car thing which would put quite a bit of money back in my pocket which could go towards other things like household repairs and improvements. I really want a new stove.

I didn’t choose the power with anything other than convenience in mind, so when my instructor assigned a revision of the essay a couple of weeks ago to post on a blog I did what I do best; I procrastinated. How was I supposed to expand on what I already wrote? I said what I wanted to say about teleportation; it would save me money, allow for travel, and let me sleep in. What more was there? I doubted I could take over the world with that sort of power, and I completely lack the desire to do so anyway. At first, I briefly considered writing a narrative on how I might acquire the power based on a nightmare I had when I was six involving aliens, lobsters and a magnet school. That idea fell through fairly quickly when I realized that past the lobsters, I had no real suitable ending for such a story. I couldn’t even fit the lobsters in that well, and I really wanted them in the story.

Then it hit me! If I could just appear and disappear at will then I could easily become an assassin or something else equally worthy of an action movie. It would be impossible to catch me -- even if someone managed to get me into a prison I could always just poof my way out. Of course, it might be a bit of a stretch since I’m a pacifist and would never want to kill anybody. That being only a minor detail, I began to work again.

It, too, fell through when once again I was left drawing a blank at the conclusion. I sank into a spiraling depression as it reminded me of how I always leave everything until the last minute, and rarely finish anything I start.

“Why am I so cursed?” I screamed very dramatically after my second failed attempt, and was answered only by a blank document and a blinking cursor. To me, it was a sign that I should go back to procrastinating. After all, the laundry needed to be folded and the television needed to be watched.

I managed to keep myself thoroughly distracted in such a manner until today, a few days before the revised essay is due and the end of the semester. I have come to accept that I am neither noble enough to be a hero nor evil enough to be a villain, and so any story I wrote involving either would lack the realism I require from fiction. I have also learned, over the course of writing this blog entry, that I have a real tendency towards exaggerating the truth so perhaps my stories would have turned out just fine had I simply stopped watching Doctor Who on BBC and thought up an ending for either of them. I can only hope you leave this blog wondering what a teleporting assassin who acquired her powers from alien lobsters might have been like. Then I hope you decide to write down what you imagine so everyone else can find out. I would really like to see how it ends.