The poetic, playful and prophetic musings of quintessential voices trying to keep up with life

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Iron Man 3 and How to Survive Graduate School Finals

I just finished finals, which consisted for two fifteenish page papers, two ten page papers, and two classes.  Needless to say, I have very little to offer in the intellect department this week, but I wanted to post something anyway as a kind of brain detox.  So between this and countless episodes of Boy Meets World, I am letting my brain relax a little bit and not think about the apocalyptic components of Biblical texts and about how people in Victorian America adapted the Gothic style of architecture to Protestant values so it could become a part of their domestic Christianity.  I got mini-headache just typing that sentence.  Anyway, the following post is a two-parter, and neither section has really anything to do with the other.  Why?  Because I said so, that’s why.  The first part is a short little review of Iron Man 3.  It’s short because I can’t make it long without giving away spoilers, and it’s still so new that I am less confident that everyone has seen it.  The second part of this post is a survival guide of sorts.  It’s a list of things to remember/do in order to survive graduate school finals (though most of the list could be applied to any level of finals-taking-torment).  So, let us begin.

Part One: Iron Man 3 Review

I’m not going to lie…I freaking loved this movie.  I’ve heard that it’s been getting kind of mixed reviews, but I was blown away by it.  Not only was it epic, action-packed, with a bit of romance, but it was also HILARIOUS!  There are so many zingers in this movie (that Robert Downey Jr. delivers perfectly, by the way), that I was laughing about as much as I was thinking, “Holy shit, that’s awesome!” (in regards to explosive fight scenes, high-tech badassness, and Downey Jr. getting thrown into various walls).
The movie has a different feel to it than the first two and The Avengers.  Tony Stark is dealing with a lot of deep, personal stuff throughout the whole thing, and I think he is actually in the suit less than the first two (but when he is in the suit, epicness ensues).  Not only does Tony have to deal with his own issues, but he has to balance being a superhero with his relationship with Pepper Potts, as well as track down an enemy he doesn’t even know where to begin to find.  Ben Kingsley as the villain of the movie, the Mandarin, is wonderful, and he’s a bad guy whose terror lies in what he represents…fear in something that you don’t fully understand and can’t know what to expect from.  The gadgets that Tony has in this movie are also really, really cool.  They range from an electrified garden-glove, to the seemingly boundary-less J.A.R.V.I.S. we have all come to know and love.  And of course, there is the Hall of Armor, displaying all of the previous models of the suit from the first two Iron Man movies as well as The Avengers, which is just plain nostalgic-cool. 

There is a lot of symbolism in this movie, playing into the deeper issues for the characters.  Again, I can’t really go into detail without giving away significant moments in the movie, so you’re just going to have to trust me on this one.  Overall, though, Iron Man 3 is less “look at all of the neat stuff I can do because I’m a superhero” and more “what are some of the consequences of this hero-stuff?”  Granted, I think The Avengers is still the best movie Marvel has put out so far, but really, how do you beat something that’s pretty much every Marvel movie (literally) rolled into one sweet package?  There are also a lot of references in Iron Man 3 to the events of The Avengers (some of those events being the cause of Tony’s inner turmoil), so it’s a really smooth transition between the films and continuation of the overarching storyline shared by all of these movies of a larger universe with extraordinary individuals existing within it.  In summary, go see Iron Man 3, or don’t be cool.

Part II: Erin B.’s Tips to Surviving Graduate School Finals (Or Other Levels of Finals-Taking-Torment)

1.      Plan ahead.  I know, I know, you’ve heard it before, and it’s easier said than done, but seriously…if you are staring down a week in which you have more than forty pages of paper-writing due, you need to plan that week out.  There are only so many hours in a day, and only so much time you can consecutively spend staring at a computer screen before your eyes cross or you pass out.

2.      Go where you can be productive.  If, when studying at home, you are at risk of easily giving into temptation and watching four episodes of Boy Meets World back-to-back as a “study break,” then you need to get the hell out of your house.  Personally, I found I could put up a better fight surrounded by my studious peers who could make me feel guilty enough to actually focus on my work.

3.      Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine.  This one is pretty self-explanatory.  If you try to avoid drinking caffeinated anything in your everyday life, good for you…but all bets are off during finals.

4.      Nap in public places.  If you need a nap, I suggest taking one in the library lobby or somewhere equally accessible to anybody.  Why?  Because then you won’t be tempted to keep sleeping after your 20 minutes are up.  Every time I try to take just a 30 minute nap at home, I’m lucky to be up after two hours.  Avoid naps where no one can find you.

5.      Don’t let your social life die.  This one may surprise some people, because it might make more sense if I said do let your social life die.  But no, your social life doesn’t have to die, it just has to get mono and not make out or swap water bottles with anyone for a little while.  Interacting with people is fine, healthy even, so that you don’t become a zombie-shut-in who forgets how to actually talk out-loud.

6.      Watch what you eat.  Try to consume a least one thing during the day that isn’t going to leave you hyped-up on sugar and caffeine.  Remember, your body still has to be able to function once the week is over.

7.      Don’t listen to the Les Miserables soundtrack while trying to write a paper.  Just don’t.

8.      Protect your space.  If there are undergrads filling up the space in your library, don’t feed them or they’ll come back.

9.      Take dance party study breaks.  Just do.

10.  All’s fair in love and war…and finals week.  Finals weeks are not like any other time of the year, so don’t think that you will be able to function like they are.  Writing quality can plummet, friends can turn into enemies, and harmless undergrads can seem like the most annoying things in the world.  But no worries…it will all balance back out once that final exam or paper is done.                    

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