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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An Exhaustively Researched Paper

Here is an excerpt from my "U.S. History after 1870" class final. A final consisting of a grueling three hours to write a 1,000 word essay on "the rise of liberalism in the United States":

A case of liberalism that comes to mind where the government was not actively involved is the rise of the liberated woman, or the flapper. True, the government would be directly involved in giving women the right to vote and equality in the work place, but the government had no real say in the styles of clothing or the mannerisms of these women which developed in the 1920’s. These sexually liberated young women would wear short skirts and more revealing clothing under a philosophy easily summed up as “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” It is no surprise that I was considerably more attentive than usual while we were learning about these women in class (Yowza!).

These women went against what was socially “acceptable” at the time. They would “bob” their hair (a technique which may have influenced later liberal and somewhat controversial works such as the film, “Hairspray” and the popular Beach Boys hit, “Bobber-Ann”). They would wear excessive amounts of makeup as well as drink and smoke like a man. Then later they would drive (possibly drunk) like a man. All of these features of the flapper were unheard of and greatly discouraged among “respectable” women (stick-in-the-mud types). While both the prudent and ugly alike would despise these women, the emergence of these flappers would be a significant step in the feminist women’s liberation and liberalization movement.

I had a lot of inner debate as to whether I should use the onomatopoeia "Yowza" in a college paper. I think I made the right decision.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Talking to High-Falooters in the Mall

The other day I ran into my friend Alex from high school. I was walking out of the theater at the mall when I saw him. Regretfully, after a few exchanged words with him I realized that he had become the sort of person which I like to call a "Yuppie Jerk."

The Yuppie Jerk first appeared in modern times as the children of people who referred to themselves as freethinkers; who were referred to by their fellow citizens as, among many other things, hippies; and were classified by the government as unemployed. The Yuppie Jerks found it very difficult to rebel in the traditional sense against their establishment-hating parents. They also could not understand the cryptic language their parents used, which included phrases such as "Kumbaya," "Mother Earth," and "You's from Squaresville" (Coincidentally, many of said Yuppie Jerks were born in Squarfield, PA, a popular commune and hang-out spot for the Hippies). The Yuppie Jerks did the only thing they could do. They bought suits and cell phones, and became competitive uni-sexual business persons, embracing the very establishment so hated by their parents.

So Alex comes strutting over to me in his black leather jacket, pauses briefly to finish the two-handed text message he's working on and asks me how it's going.

"It's going alright. Just saw No Reservations starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart," I say, "How about yourself?"

"I'm making eight thousand dollars a month."

A bit puzzled by his response, seeing as the last time I saw him, a few months before, he was tearing tickets for the aforementioned movie theater, I ask:

"Working for the movie theater?"

"No, I'm just trying to find people, investors and stuff, around here."

"Did the movie theater ask you to do this?"

"No, no. I'm doing real estate sales."

"Wait a minute. The theater doesn't own any real estate!"

"I'm not working for the (expletive deleted) movie theater!"

This quick loss of temper when being asked basic questions about their work is a classic trait of the Yuppie Jerk.

The conversation cooled down a bit, and I ended up telling him that I'm making $9 an hour doing data-entry/modeling (I consider any job where I'm in view of the opposite sex a modeling job) and also going to school. He immediately told me how much that sucks, while simultaneously handing me a flier and a business card. Thinking this would be the end of it, I continued to walk out to the parking garage of the mall. He let me go for a moment, but then ran out to me in the garage, demanding that I give him a phone number so he could reach me if I had any questions. First of all, why would he call me if I had questions? But who was I to question the logic of one of the followers of those who control companies and oversee billion-dollar business deals and can drain the life out of most any conversation or party in five minutes flat?

Well, the mistake I made was to pull my cell phone out. He now knew I had a cell phone and he could just call the number I'd give him to make sure it is correct (not fake). And I couldn't just tell him my phone is on silent mode because this will always be the time your friend calls you to see what's taking you so long at the movies. In addition to these problems, I also did not have a standard fake number to give out anymore, seeing as the one I used to use now has a message telling the caller my real number, my address, where to buy paper bags and matches, as well as where to find a reasonable supply of dog poop. They really did their homework.

Anyway, I ended up giving him my number and later going to a three hour spiel with a whole fleet of Yuppie jerks about how great real estate investment is, how stupid it is to go to school, and that money is the root of all success (all of this done with much hooting and hollering. ie: "Do you guys want to make some money?!" "YEAH!!!" "Do you want to go to school for ten years to get it!?" "NOOOO!!!!" "Then you're in the right place!" "YEAH!!!" etc).

But you know, I can understand the situation of people who want to get into that stuff and it's fine. A lot of the people who went to that introductory seminar were blue-collar workers who had lost their jobs or were fed up with fixing lawn-mowers all day only to be replaced by a machine that eats lawn mowers and converts them into cheap, clean-burning fuel. Not having the stomach to compete with these machines, they are now just looking for a way to make enough money to retire before they turn 90.

But that ain't the life for me. No, I've decided to follow the timeless advice of Rodney Dangerfield in his hit film, Back to School: "It's rough out there. Move back in with your parents. Let them worry about it!"

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Passion for Penguin

So the other day I was talking with my lifelong friend Gretchen Belnap and the subject of penguin-welfare came up. Apparently in the previous 24 hours she had seen both Happy Feet and March of the Penguins (now scientifically proven to be a toxic dose of penguin) and was on a penguin kick that seemed to be developing into a fetish (and this is not the reason I recently invested in 3 tuxes, so don't even bother asking). She tends to ramble on about things, especially fetishes:

"...and then they walk dozens of miles in subzero temperatures just to lay eggs!" she informed me.

I responded, "Mr. Chambers (my old high school German teacher) showed me a video on the internet once of a penguin tripping another penguin. It might have been doctored, but it was still hilarious."

A 2 second pause, and then she was off again.

10 minutes later: "...and then one of the penguin parents has to balance the egg on their toes while the other goes for food. Isn't that awesome? They're like my favorite animal now. Don't you thing they're so cool?"

After a brief moment of pondering and reflection I remarked, "I think one of the funniest things to see would be a penguin dying." She remained silent, a signal for me to elaborate.

"I mean, they would just be waddling along back and forth," indicating with my hands, "and then they would just lean one way too far and fall over. And that would be it."

Appropriately, I began laughing until I realized that Gretchen must've not heard what I had said, for she seemed a little confused and a lot angry. It's pretty frustrating to miss something that funny. I repeated myself this time louder and more gesturing with my arms.

"...and then they would lean too far one way, fall over, and be dead!" I began laughing even harder while reenacting the penguin's death, this time with sound effects.

You know, you just have to be patient with girls sometimes, because often they lose their temper without warning or provocation. Plus some of them have a pretty mean left hook.

On my way home that night I did gain some respect for those determined penguins. We're not so much different than them, you know. Their instinct drives them to walk many miles in the cold, while my instinct that led me to the conclusion that I should get home as soon as possible whether my ride had arrived or not. Did I mention it was snowing that night? Well, the cold was probably good to slow down the swelling at least.

Psh, penguins. What a stupid animal. Why don't they just live somewhere that can support life and not just a giant piece of ice!? This is why I am launching a campaign to increase the amount of greenhouse gases. They're not gonna have that slab of ice to live on for long if I have anything to say about it!

You hear that, penguins? You knew this was coming, and it's gonna take a lot more than some warm toes and mad-awesome tap-dancing skills to save you this time. You have been warned. Your days are numbered.

Aw, who am I kidding? I love penguins.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Nothing gets chocolate out. See?

One of the most alarming things that can happen to someone is that of spilling food on their pants. This is particularly upsetting if the food happens to be of an amorphous nature, which is the case in today's example where the food was mashed potatoes. The pants were my father's.

Before I get into that, I have to explain how mysteriously things can get spilled on their way to one's mouth. It's a dangerous journey. I mean, just the other day at my sister's wedding reception I had a mishap of this type, and it wasn't even with the éclairs if you can believe it. I had been sent out to get chips and salsa from Los Hermanos by my brother Mike. He found me in the food preparation room minding my own business:

"Have you been in here the whole time? And what's that on your face?" he asked. I might add that his tone was a bit pretentious. I would've answered had not my mouth been obstructed by something. Actually two or three somethings to be more precise.

"That's chocolate! You've been into the éclairs, haven't you!? Those are saved!" My brother's deductive reasoning powers never cease to amaze me. I took the open éclair box off of my lap and put it back on the table to please him, but not before smuggling 2 more into my jacket pocket.

I still hadn't swallowed the last 1 and a quarter éclairs so I remained silent as he continued his somewhat critical speech.

"Alright, here's twenty dollars. Go get us all some chips and salsa. At least that'll keep you away from the éclairs."

By this time I had finished the éclairs hindering my vocal abilities. "Thanks," I said, taking the twenty dollars, "I won't let you down."

"Just don't eat any more éclairs. You can have what's left after the reception. Hey! What did I just say!?"

"I'm just taking half of one and that's it," I said in my defense.

"Okay, that's fine."

As I left for the chips I realized that I neglected to tell him that now we only had 2 boxes of éclairs left. Wait no, just one. I forgot about the one I stowed under the seat in our van. It shouldn't have been a problem though; I only ate about half of that last box anyway.

Later that night, several members of my family (myself included) were eating the chips and salsa in the back room. Although it was pretty crowded, no one seemed to want any chips from the bag I was holding.

"I have plenty of chips left," I offered. They looked at the bag of chips I was holding and then gave me that look you might give someone who has recently sprouted a tennis racquet from their forehead. You know that look.

My brother Dave was the first to respond, "Well, actually I'm getting pretty full. Thanks though." Everyone else then chimed in agreeing that this was a mutual feeling for all of them.

After briefly feeling my forehead for any abnormalities I replied, "Alright, that's fine. More for me, then. But if any of you change your mind there's plenty to go around." I can't say that I wasn't bummed that they hadn't noticed and taken advantage of my newly developed technique of conserving chips. It was actually really simple. I'd just hold the bag of chips under my mouth as I ate and the extra chip pieces would fly back into the bag. For me, this usually yielded at least half a bag of chips that otherwise would have been wasted. It's a shame my family overate and couldn't have some of my extra chips.

For a short while the room was silent except for the periodic crunching of my chip-eating and chip-conservation technique until my brother Dave spoke. "Wasn't there some bread outside?" He asked Mike.

"Yeah, I think so. Let's go, I'm starving." He answered.

The room was cleared except for me in about 15 seconds. Which is impressive because there was only one exit and about 20 people who had to get through it. I was pretty grateful for this because just then I looked down at my shirt and it had several salsa stains running down it. When did it happen? How did it happen? No one knows. And that's the mystery of the food stain.

I was reminded of this whole concept today after dinner when my dad happened to be the victim. Now you may say that this is nothing unique for him, and therefore not worth noting, and you'd be right. However, this time was a little bit different.

We had finished dinner without incident and my mom had gone to her room to take a nap. My dad and I were putting away the dishes when suddenly he started moving very quickly, mostly in a circular fashion.

"If you used some of that speed in doing these dishes we could finish a lot quicker." I commented. He was not amused.

"Get me a napkin, quick! There right behind you!" He can be pushy sometimes.

"Alright, alright." I handed him several napkins. He bent over and began to furiously wipe his left pant leg off. This didn't seem to be anything outside of our regular dinner routine so I thought nothing more of it until I glanced down and saw what he was trying to get off. Actually, it wasn't so much what he was wiping off (which was mashed potatoes as I said earlier) as how much there was.

"I'm going to need more napkins!" he said.

He was right. There must have been at least two or three potatoes in mashed form clinging to his pant leg! Undoubtedly they contained much ranch dressing in them as well (don't ask) which can stain horribly. Hence his desperation and maniacal behavior in trying to clean off his dress pants.

Just then, my mom jumped back into the kitchen with one of those greeting cards that when you open it it plays a low-quality version of some popular song. This one was Wild Thing by The Troggs. One of my mom's favorites. She opened it and began dancing around my father's hunkered body. Yeah, she's weird sometimes.

"I just love this card! This song is on of my favorites!" Told ya.

I must add that someone in my dad's sort of situation tends to lose all of their sense of humor for a short while. At least that's what I interpreted from the look he gave me when I tried to inform him of the humor attached to this experience of his. I didn't stop laughing on the inside.

After it was all over, I think it was a good experience for all of us. For one thing, I found out I have pretty good reflexes. Also, I'm sure my mom will start talking to my father any week now. The mashed potatoes weren't too hard to clean off the wall either. However, my mom's hair is a different story...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Chemistry in Biology

Well, I'm finally done with my first semester at BYU. And what a semester it was! Full of love, lust, deception, and unbridled enthusiasm to name a few of its characteristics. Speaking of love, now that the semester is over, I think it'll be alright if I shared the story of my first college-romance escapade. I must warn you that it ends with my heart being broken. But don't worry, I bounce back every time, usually right after lunch.

You'll get the gist of it from these emails that were exchanged between my Biology Lab teacher and myself. The characters are Wate Nhight (a member of my lab group), Hollie Munt (my lab teacher), and me (me). I've changed all the names for security purposes.

Here's the first email from my lab teacher to the group I'm in. Note that this means she made the first contact with me.


I need to ask you guys about Wate Nhite. On your peer evaluations you all gave him very high scores. Can you give me an honest idea of the amount of work he actually did, specifically for the paper (rough and final drafts) and the poster?

Thanks so much, we are trying to resolve some issues here. Email me back as soon as you can.

Good luck on finals!

Obviously she was totally into me. I was a little shocked that she would use the class as a pretense for emailing me though. "Email me back as soon as you can" she says. Whatever happened to foreplay and being coy? I guess she just couldn't contain herself around me. This deduction was confirmed to me when I saw that she started and ended her email with exclamation points. One date with me and she'd probably go blind with ecstacy. Poor creature. I decided to let her off easy.

Here's my response:


About Wate... I think he did his share of the work on the poster. Plus he supported my idea of putting a picture of the Loch Ness Monster on it (which we later had to take out to make room for real pictures). I think he may have hurt more than helped on the paper, though. Like when he very adamently told us how to do the bibliography, and then it turned out he was completely wrong. Also, whenever we'd work on it he'd just sit in a chair, making obscure references to Simpsons episodes that no one but me recognized, but he kept saying the lines wrong so it wasn't funny. I gave him courtesy laughs though, but that gets old, and just wasted time. I guess his heart was in the right place by trying (unsuccessfully) to increase group morale though. However, this probably wasn't the case when he got in an argument with Clint in one of our overview sessions and found that the best solution would be to flip Clint off and then refuse to participate for the rest of the lab. But maybe I'm seeing the whole thing all wrong. Maybe he was just teaching us patience. Then again, teaching patience hardly gets any work done. Plus, it can get pretty annoying sometimes.

I hate to make it so someone else's grade goes down (especially when the class isn't curved) but since you asked, I told you. Now about my pay. I will require 30 pieces of silver...

Remember to keep the law of justice and mercy in mind when you give him his grade. Also, it would be nice if you didn't tell him that I sold him out. That guy could snap me like a toothpick.


-Matt Karlsven

P.S. Now that class is over, I think it's safe to talk about this. Is it just me, or was there some chemistry between us in those labs? I mean, I understand it would be inappropriate because of the whole student-teacher privilege thing, but you could practically cut the sexual tension in there with a knife! I've spoken with Clint about the matter, and he agrees. However, don't bother asking him because I've instructed him to deny everything. I just wanted you to know that nothing can come from this. I mean, you're much too old for me, and you're married. It just wouldn't work. As a side-note, please feel free to favor my grade as much as you'd like because of our, let's say, "special" relationship.

I thought nothing more of this until a few days later when she emailed me back.


You're a funny one

She didn't even bother ending it with her name or any punctuation at all. Obviously she doesn't take rejection very well. I'm just glad that at the end of our last class she didn't grap onto my leg and start crying. That would have been awkward. Especially since her husband was there.

I decided not to email her back. Some things are better left as they are, I think.
If you're curious as to what happened to all the characters, this is what I know:

I ended up getting a B in the class and decided only after two more affairs with certain teachers that the student-teacher relationship should stay nothing more than a platonic one.

Clint got a job working for a local book-binding company. He's looking forward to a 25 cent raise in 6 months.

I'm not sure if Wate passed Biology or not. I've been trying to avoid him the past few weeks.

Hollie has found happiness with her husband and they are planning on having their first child. They're going to name it "Matt-is-a-jerk Munt." I think it's catchy.

Hollie's husband still enjoys sitting in on her labs and is considering getting a day job soon.