Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Real Way to Ace the ACT

I feel bad for juniors. You juniors are constantly and consistently badgered about stuff concerning the ACT – from practice books, to ACT workshops, to a bouquet of dates you are supposed to write down. And as you already know, the ACT is the single most important event in your whole life. In a nutshell, it is a test of your worth as a human being. As Genesis 4:4-6 states, “A student’s life with a poor ACT score is like a priest’s life without an Escalade: not worth living.”

You may ask, “Matthew, how are you so knowledgeable about the ACT? How can you relate to my personal situation?”

It is difficult for me to talk about, but I will admit that I was a junior at one dark point in my life. I am not proud of it, nor do I encourage bragging about it, but I am man enough to at least address it. And because of this sad fact, I have arcane knowledge about situations that the typical junior will face.

So being the benevolent soul that I sometimes am, I have decided to put together a short list of advice about everything regarding the ACT. I organized this information in a Seventeen Magazine-like fashion, first with a common myth, and then with the cold hard facts.

Myth: Taking practice tests or enrolling in an ACT workshop can help you sharpen rusty skills, and therefore improve your score drastically. Studying and reviewing core subjects is crucial.

Fact: Nonsense. There have been no conclusive studies linking studying with doing well on tests. In my personal experience, I found a combination of watching a Family Guy marathon and eating cashews to be beneficial. Even if you defy my advice, eat some cashews anyways. They are loaded with Omega 3 fats - which are polyunsaturated fatty acids that can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease - and more importantly, are very tasty.

Myth: Get at least 8 hours of sleep the night before the test. In the morning, eat a well-balanced breakfast.

Fact: Sleep is not necessary. Ironically, a recent Harvard study found sleep to be synonymous with things such as headache, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, and death – not to mention absolutely terrible ACT scores. As for breakfast, a few pixie sticks rounded off with a gulp of Nyquil are sure to make you perform at your best. If you don’t believe me…well, it’s your loss.

Myth: Make sure you have two #2 pencils and erasers. Write your name and contact information clearly on your packet. Fill in bubbles fully, but do not cross lines.

Fact: Use a crayon! What, are you chicken? Afraid your ACT will be voided? It won’t be. Using a utensil other than a #2 pencil will show that you are an individual who is not afraid to think for yourself. Don’t be constrained by what society is telling you to write your ACT with! If you want to bust out a feather and ink, more power to you. Also, your name is not necessary on the ACT. I wrote “Morgan Freeman” on mine, and everyone who works at the ACT headquarters got a good laugh when my name, race, and social security number didn’t match up.

I have given this priceless advice to countless friends. Some are now pediatric cardiovascular surgeons, some are successful lawyers, some are entrepreneurs, and a couple work at bowling alleys. Oh, and by some, I mean none. So it goes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What Happened to LFO?

Life is about the decisions we make. We are the governors of our own futures. We dictate what we say, how we act, and the decisions we make. We, and we alone, have the power to choose how we live and what we fill our lives with.

That being said, some of these decisions we make are easier than others. Choosing my favorite band was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made in the past 17 years (give or take 9 months in the womb.)

My favorite band is LFO. You heard correctly – My favorite band is Rich, Devin, and Brad, the Lyte Funky Ones, the exemplar of pre-new-millennium American Pop.

Some claim that the Lyte Funky Ones were preppy, uneducated, and stuck up. And I’m not going to lie; I see where the critics are coming from. Mentioning “Abercrombie and Fitch” in a song can get anyone erroneously labeled as a “stuck up prep.” In addition, the fact that “Chinese food makes [them] sick” could be interpreted as intolerance of distant cultures, or even blatantly racist. Finally, LFO’s laid-back vocabulary (usage of “ain’t”) has stereotyped them as illiterate.

And now my rebuttal - The truth is, LFO’s greatness is a very arcane gift. Obviously, I have realized the true extent of their musical and lyrical genius. Take into consideration the following phrase - “I’ll steal your honey like I stole your bike.” This single line of music has the potential to be analyzed for decades, much like the poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” has been analyzed longer than Dr. Heinbuck has been living.

As for the accusation of LFO being racist, I present this question; does not liking salsa make me hate Hispanics? Is lactose intolerance synonymous with hate for dairy farmers in Wisconsin? Does finding KFC disgusting make me intolerant of African Americans? No, absolutely not. Food preference is a personal choice, and a person shouldn’t be ridiculed for favoring some foods over others.

And finally, LFO is far from illiterate. Their usage of vernacular language further reiterates the fact that they are just some young men enjoying their summer in a laid back fashion. “But Matt, even if that’s true, why would they use a word like ain’t?” It’s called colloquial language, and it’s the sign of a true genius. Mark Twain wasn’t ridiculed when he pioneered it in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He was praised. He was given free Red Bull for a year from Pepsi Co.

Freshmen and Sophomores, I’m sorry. This probably has no relevance to you. I don’t think you had even been conceived when LFO had the hit “Summer Girls” back in 1999. Still, I urge you to download it on ITunes and marvel at the true genius and originality of their melodies, assonance, and allusion.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

RIP Walk-a-thon: My last entry regarding the fundraiser.

Firstly, I apologize if for the last three weeks it has seemed like the only thing I talk about is walk-a-thon. I feel like I've been constantly nagged by walk-a-thon propaganda for the past three weeks - From Joe Dumars, to the flyers on my lunch table, to the 300 announcements made daily.

Let's put aside the fact that our school attempted to use a celebrity figure to coerece us into donating.

Let's put aside the fact that we're teaching our students that they don't have to work for what they want; they can simply have their parents write them a check, and then go take a walk in the park.

This is about our hypocrisy.

To this day it still infuriates me and frustruates me that we can so insouciantly justify spending almost $100,000 of student-earned money to build a "multi-purpose facility," when there are children 2 miles from our school that wake up hungry, go to sleep hungry, and eat granola bars and canned tuna to keep them fuctioning inbetween.

We do a quarter-hearted (half-hearted would be too generous) food drive for WHRC and believe we've fulfilled our job as "Christian People." I guarantee that we could have collected at least 10x the food for WHRC if our administration addressed the food drive with the same motivation and persistance as they did Walk-a-thon. Walk-a-thon got three weeks of announcements, collection days, rallies, and flyers. The food drive got a 5 second announcement between the "History Trivia" and the person who lost their backpack in the caf.

We didn't have a celebrity come and talk to the whole student body about the importance of rendering service, or our obligation to assist those who are less fortunate than us. We had a celebrity come and speak to us about the importance of donating material wealth, for a material good, so we can in turn look more prestigious with our fancy "all purpose facility."

I am very sorry to say this, but for the first time, I am not proud to be a student at NDP. I am disgusted. I am outraged. We are so quick to say what we do, and so quick to do something else.

So don't worry about the kids who will walk to school hungry. Don't worry about the kids that get their clothes from salvation army because they have to.

Just enjoy your gym.

Oh sorry, "multi purpose facility."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Be Smart: Think About Walk-a-thon

Dear Enemies and Friends Alike,

Yes, you're not mistaken. It's that time of year again, when you pay $100 for lukewarm hot dogs and a king size pack of M&M's. Somehow NDP's infamous "Walk-a-thon" has managed to keep a place on the school calendar, despite various protests from students every year.

But wait, I thought you could go around in your neighborhood and your neighbors and friends can make a donation to NDP? Then you don't actually have to pay the money, right?

"Yes, Hi Sir, I attend a Catholic Prep School, could you please give me some money so we can get a new gym at our school? What? No, we're not building a house or cleaning up trash. What are we doing? We're walking around a park, then eating hot dogs and playing frisbee. You think I have a lot of nerve asking for a donation when there are homeless people living right outside my school's walls?"

I don't know about you, but I would feel like an idiot asking someone to donate their hard earned pay to me so I could take a walk in the park.

All I ask of you, my fellow students, my peers, is for you to think.

Before you ask for those donations, or before your parents write that $100 check so nonchalantly, think about what this money is really being spent on. This year's walk-a-thon funds will be used for an auxiliary gym - basically an additional gym because of the various sports teams that need court time: basketball, volleyball, wrestling, etc.

Does our swim team have a pool? Does the track team have a track to run on? Does it seem right to supply the basketball teams with space so they can practice comfortably, when your fellow students have to go off campus to practice? They have no place to begin with, and our school is preoccupied with providing another gym for teams that already have a gym.

It is the mission of Notre Dame Preparatory to build Academic Scholars, Upright Citizens, and Christian People. If we truly wanted to live in conjunction with our so called "Mission Statement," shouldn't we perhaps use the funds to benefit NDP students academically?

The truth is, I don't even think it is even the auxiliary gym portion of walk-a-thon that is the main problem. The root of the problem is walk-a-thon itself. 800 students go on buses, and walk around in a huge circle. In a park. We walk. In a park. NDP, as a catholic institution, commends community service. Why don't we put into action what we talk so much about - helping others, the less fortunate, those that need our assistance. Perhaps cleaning up a park, or renovating a house or a building. This could instill a timeless principle in our students - that you have to work for the things you want. We're not helping anyone by walking five miles in the rain.

I think I would have a much different attitude towards walk-a-thon if it was service based, but the fact is, it is pleasure based. We walk, we please ourselves with all the food we want, and then get a (fill in the blank) for our school.

My intentions are not to get a school-wide boycott of walk-a-thon, or somehow dethrone the administration for continuing this ridiculous fundraiser. All I ask of you, my fellow students, my peers, is for you to think.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Dear Friends,

I made a pact with myself that I would never write an entry about any celebrities that agitate me. It simply stirs up too many emotions, and I get angry and frustrated questioning how some of these celebrities gained their A-List status.

Regardless, I am going to go out on a limb and say that Lindsay Lohan is not attractive at all. I understand that her performance in Mean Girls has been considered "cute" and "bubbly", but it is not grounds to make her the apotheosis of teen movie stars. Her musical endeavors are subpar at best, and her clothing choices are interesting to say the least.

I am by no means a fashion expert, but even I am able to judge when something should be worn or used as a rag to clean up an oil spill. Take into consideration the following photos, and keep in mind that Lindsay Lohan's fashion sense has been considered "funky and spontaneous".

I guess you could consider this "spontaneous" if she aimed to spontaneously look like a dirty hippy about to embark on a journey to a Pink Floyd concert. I renounce everything I've stated about her fashion, it is clearly very spontaneous. FYI Lindsay, you won't be able to get into the concert if you're not wearing shoes. LOL

Out of all seriousness, I will give someone a dollar if they can come up to me with a straight face and say this is stylish. This looks like a mix between something my grandma would quilt in her spare time and something I'd wear to protect myself from a blizzard. Lindsay, you have no business wearing this unless you plan on using it as a tablecloth for a picnic on the beach (even if that's the case, it would make a sketchy tablecloth). If you are using it as a tablecloth, I commend you for using your body so resourcefully.

I could say more, but I won't. I don't want to contribute to Lindsay Lohan's downfall or anything.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

In case you missed the senior meeting...

Here's what the administration discussed at the senior meeting:

Don't do drugs or partake in sexual behavior. Make sure you allow 10 regular school days for us to process your apps. Come to first hour on time, or God will harpoon you.

For everyone who missed it, you're welcome.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Yes, you're a senior, and you're graduating in 2007. I commend you. Do you want a trophy or something?

You know that old philosophical saying "It is okay to make mistakes, just never make the same one twice"? As we are beginning a new school year, I think we ought to taking that saying into consideration, and perhaps use it to guide some of our actions.

We haven't even started up a new year at The Prep, and I already see dozens of AIM profiles graffitied with exclamations of joy that indeed we are seniors, and we are indeed the class of 2007. The vibrant colors and strange fonts I have viewed even further contribute to the outstanding enthusiasm of being a 07' SENIOR!!!

This is where our philosophy comes into play.

Remember when you were in 8th grade? Remember when you made the mistake of thinking you were cool? And you probably went to the movies with your friends and acted in an obnoxious manner? Remember how cool it was to make fun of 5th graders, and how Green Day was the best band ever? Remember how no one understood you, ESPECIALLY your parents, and how the only way you could cope with it was through watching MTV?

Of course you do, because you were an immature 13 year old.

We are faced yet again with the same dilemma this year. We are at the top of the food chain, which can easily result in acts of stupidity. At this point, we ought to recall the stupid things we did as 8th graders. Don't fall victim to the same vices. No one likes your AIM profile. No one likes the poem you wrote about graduating and leaving all your friends behind.

Next year, you will be a freshman once again, and you will realize that you weren't very cool as a senior.

I challenge you, my peers, to be classy. And for God's sake, don't write stupid messages on the windows of your car.