Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Social Network? More Like...

If last weekend’s Harvard-Princeton flashflood of football incompetence had any benefits, it was that the matchup got me seriously thinking about how to best pun on “The Social Network” in order to mock Harvard and its presumably intolerable student body.

For those of you that don’t follow the current cinema (or charitable donations to the New Jersey school system), “The Social Network” is the unrestricted profile (see what I did there?) of Harvard dropout and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and it is just the latest in a long proud line of Hollywood releases to depict Harvard University as an irrepressible douchequarium, a greenhouse which sprouts only the most unpleasant betweeded cockhelmets the Ivy League has to offer.

And with its trifecta of universal recognition, its suggestive wordplayabaility, and its close association with Harvard, a truly smart pun on “The Social Network” has the chance to achieve a quite lofty level of Crimson bashing, perhaps the most public and widespread since the Yale Drama Repertory’s smash of 1975, “The Paper Chase? More Like The Gayfer Face, Am I Right?” (Wendy Wasserstein has since disowned the play).

[Caveat: Unfortunately, I’m not a truly smart person (did you see that Paper Chase pun up there?) and so this is more of a roadmap or gesture towards something rather than an accomplishment. I hope that you real punsters out there help me out in the comments section].

And so let us begin our drive down the long and winding road of puns (our vehicle being, as always, a Beetle), in search of a pun with which to avenge Princeton’s homecoming loss to the Crimson, to turn the tide, to find a bon mot with such bone that it would make those Harvardian’s cheeks turn…a darkish shade of red, I suppose.

The purpose of conceiving this pun (as if conception ever needs a purpose) is to point out what is obvious to every Princeton student and alum: that despite any infinitesimal perceived academic (or athletic) advantage Harvard holds, the social advantage enjoyed by Princetonians is so overwhelming that comparing the two schools holistically is a waste of everyone’s time (even of Harvard students, who have so, so much time on their hands).

Also, I blame Harvard in a very casual way for everything that goes wrong in my life--relationship problems, why I don't get cell reception on the Lower East Side, the reason that trains are so noisy--all of it can be inevitably traced back to a Harvard graduate in a powerful position dicking over the little guys.

And so let us begin. Of course, in order to best appreciate these puns, please do imagine them in the template of The Social Network’s ubiquitous logo, the white text against a blue background of the original Facebook logo:

I would have rendered a few mockups of these puns in Photoshop, except I don’t own Photoshop, don’t know how to use it, have no idea what a “mockup” is, and still haven’t really figured out how to do anything artistic on my computer except crudely spray paint profanity in MS Paint.

Let us begin at the very obvious:

 The Antisocial Network - Describing Harvard as The Antisocial Network isn’t bad, but it’s not insulting enough, it doesn’t have that bite. It seems to suggest that the interpersonal incompetence of the Harvard student body is due to some kind of disorder or lifestyle choice rather than an excruciatingly developed Napoleon complex which gives them all little Pavlovian quarter-chubs whenever they sniff perfume. The phrase “The Antisocial Network” also appears on websites for The Washington Post and, which means that it is just days away from being used on, which will bury it in the same graveyard as “Getting’ jiggy with it” and “Who let the dogs out?”

The Social Regretwork – This is what all Harvard undergraduates experience around November of their first year at around 3 in the morning on a Saturday night, again sitting in their dorm room with their roommate, sipping straight Popov from a glass they stole from the dining hall, listening excitedly for high heels on the floorboards outside before deciding to put back on their headsets and play another seven hours of Warcraft.

The Boba Fettwork – This doesn’t make any sense, but it sure does sound funny. 

Okay. This has been weighing us all down, so let’s do something about it. Let’s dispense with all the juvenile,
hypersexual, broadly homophobic portmanteaus. Let’s just get ‘em all out there and out of the way and never speak of them again, no matter how well they may insult Harvard in a high-school locker room sort of way:

The Facial Network, The Fellatial Network, The Social Frotwork, The Criscocial Network, The Dildocial Network, The Bro-on-Brocial Network, The Camel Toecial Network, The Gloryhocial Network, The Rusty Trombocial Network, and, of course, The Butt Rodeocial Network.

I’m glad that’s over.

The New York Metwork – I’m as big a Harvard basher as the next guy, but even I think associating them with the New York Mets is cruel. I apologize, Harvard.

The New Jersey Network – Ditto.

The Low-Cal Fruitwork – Can’t you just see those Harvardians, carefully inserting an Au Bon Pain Frequent Eaters’ Club Card into their Louis Vuitton wallets, pompously wafting the scent of a Triscuit toward their nose before taking a first bite, dipping grandpapa’s silver absinthe spoon into a Brandy snifter of strawberries and cream whilst summering on Nantucket? This is the low-cal fruitwork.

The Kosher Schlepwork – This one combines two great pastimes of the Ivy League Jew: Harvard-bashing and self-loathing. Look: we all know that the Jewish cabal controls all sectors of the non-Chinese world economy. That’s obvious. We also know that, because the rest of were busy drinking hooch and getting laid, the only kids who study enough to get into Harvard are Jews and Asians.  Do I need to spell this out for you?

The Essential Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express, The Man-Machine, and Autobbahn obviously. I’d throw in the second self-titled and “Computer Love” off Computer World, too, though I suppose a definition of “essential” is needed here—wait, what were we talking about?

The Circle Wetjerk – Not only is attending Harvard like attending a big circle jerk—it’s like attending a big WET circle jerk. And if there's anything worse than attending a circle jerk (see the video from my wedding night for proof), it's when that circle jerk gets wet.

Uh oh. I think we're drifting back towards juvenilia again...

The Fecal Crotchwork – ...yeah, now we're really getting far too close to just outright juvenile potty humor. Also, these are barely even puns anymore…

The Flaccid Titspork – …and we’re gone

I'm sorry that I lost control toward the end here. 

I blame Harvard, always dicking over my thought processes. The Social Network? More like The Mental Dickwork, am I right?

Monday, October 18, 2010

ATTN: Application for Employment at WorkSmart Labs, Inc.

As some of you know, I recently became "unemployed," a sure misnomer given how much of my time is indeed meaningfully employed with commenting on crossword puzzle forums and keeping my head perfectly horizontal while my ear medicine settles. I suppose I am more technically "employed" as an "artist," a term I've always hated, as it conjures up images of me in a barren studio apartment listening to carnival music and twirling around in rainbow leggings and a "THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE" T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. And though I can assure you that this -----> :/ (that's my face) is indeed what a feminist looks like, that is not, indeed, what any of my days are like, nor what kind of "art" I am practicing. (cf. Lucille Bluth's skepticism of her son Buster's "scholarly pursuits").

Though I am not currently employed, nor searching for a job, nor living in New York City, I am subscribed to the Princeton in New York listserv, and my interest was piqued by an email I received this morning for a job posting in NYC. It seems that one "Charlie Sneath '09" (probably some nose-in-the-air Connecticut Cottage College Republican I never met (CoCoCoRep)) and his employer WorkSmart Labs have posted a job opening for a "Customer Support and Publicity Specialist" for their program CardioTrainer, which is, with over 1.6 million downloads, "the most popular fitness program on the Android smartphone platform," outperforming the second most popular Android fitness app, "The Larry Page and Sergey Brin ShakeWeight Extravaganza."

I decided to apply for this job, not because I was necessarily interested in it, or because I was any more qualified for it than I would be for, say, American Apparel greeter, but rather because the initial screening process includes a questionnaire, which I love to fill out. 

1) A copy of your resume [Attached - J.G.] with an explanation of your relevant experiences. We're not looking for a formal cover letter, just some guidance on how to understand what you've done, and how it applies to this opportunity.

Fitness has always been a great passion of mine; not in the sense that I stay fit, or have ever been fit, but in the sense that when I was younger, I always loved watching fitness infomercials, especially after my parents went to sleep. One could say that, along with Patty Mayonnaise on Doug and the four-month period that my parents subscribed to Cinemax, fitness played a larger part in my development into adulthood than any other televised programming during my pubescent years, which I think we can all agree is quite important in this Television Age.

Besides my cultivated appreciation for fitness, I believe my life experience uniquely qualifies me for this position, a Phone Application Customer Support and Publicity Specialist. Let me break this down word-by-word, since this is almost certainly what this question is asking me to do:

1) Phone: I am a phone-owner.
2) Application: This is an application, and I'm nailing it.
3) Customer: I have frequently been, and continue to be, a customer of many products, include groceries, clothings, and ear medicines.
4) Support: I am an expert in both receiving support, as I am prone to total mental breakdowns, and giving support, as my older frat brother once made me dress up as his jock strap for Halloween.
5) Publicity: As a Human Jock Strap for Pi Epsilon's Halloween Bitches and Witches '06 Eve, I was periodically required to, at the request of my bro (who was dressed as two giant testicles), stand up on a table, get the attention of everyone on the dance floor, and announce "My name is Gonzo Jay, and if you want me to protect your baby raisins, throw your hands in the air!!" My bro Yanker told me that he had never seen a human jock strap protect so many baby raisins on one Halloween (and he totally blacked out around 10:30, which was even before I did most of my baby raisin protection)
6) Specialist: I am an exceptionally fast learner and work extremely well in a fast-paced environment.

2) A few paragraphs explaining why you think you would be awesome for this job. What makes you the perfect candidate? Why are fitness and technology important to you? 

The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said to his quarterback Bart Starr, "All that dandruff means you're not shampooing hard enough, queer." I agree with this one hundred percent. 

Fitness and technology are super important to me, and not just because porn stars need to be in good shape. It might shock you to learn that I once weighed more than I do right now. I once weighed 173 pounds. My cheeks were fatter, my gut bulged out, and I couldn't even squeeze into a Size 2 dress. I had become so physically unattractive to women, I considered becoming an intellectual in order to talk to girls.

Luckily, I discovered Happy House Chinese Kitchen, which, on my first visit there, gave me a nasty bout of trichinosis. By the time I had vomited the final intestinal worms from my system, I weighed 159 pounds and I looked better than ever. My confidence was way up, and I was able to fit into the jeans I had stolen from a high school locker room.

Wait, what was the question?

3) At least two writing samples that show off your style and skills. These could be anything from older essay excerpts to blog posts to something brand new. Each piece should demonstrate your ability to clearly communicate ideas to a specific audience, and least one should demonstrate how you're able to understand and explain technical concepts (this is a really important part of user support).

I describe below my three writing samples, one more than you have asked for. I hope this is permissible, as I thought the extra sample would be beneficial, given that one of my samples is a full-length novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
1) A profile of Theodore Roosevelt that I wrote for a third grade project on U.S. Presidents. Information has mostly been culled from the Microsoft Encarta suite. The document has been scanned in from the original; please excuse my handwriting, as this assignment was mostly an exercise for us to practice our cursive.
2) A humorous text message I sent my mother last weekend. Please note that what prompted my response was her question, "Are you awake yet?" and that I normally do not use the C-word in everyday conversation.
3) Tender Is the Night

4) What kinds of creative projects have you been a part of? How were you involved, what did you get out of it?

I wrote Inception. I didn't get anything out of it except a bunch of grumpy-ass fanboys asking whether or not Leo Dicaprio died at the end or not. And then they start offering me all these theories, and I'm like--whoa! Spoiler alert! I realize that you're the editor of, or whatever; but it did it ever cross your mind that maybe the writer of Inception was a ten-day peyote-fueled vision quest when he wrote the script, and he has no idea how it ends, because his stupid Bit Torrent has  been, like, freezing halfway through downloads for the past three months and he hasn't even seen that fucking Sherlock Holmes movie with Bob Downey Jr., much less Inception which he fucking wrote, for God's sake. Jesus.

Thank you for taking your time to read my CV and application. If you have any questions, or if you need anything more from me, just shoot me an email or call my cell phone (I own one!) and I will get back to you quickly, probably quicker than you're used to, if I'm being honest. I want to reiterate my interest in this company, as it has money to pay me, and I don't have money to pay my peyote dealer.

Thank you for this opportunity, and happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Introducing "The Official Obnoxious Tower Alumni Mooch-Off Ladder"

When I was an undergraduate member there, the Tower Eating Club was different. Today it is known for attracting the Triangle Club, Woodrow Wilson School Majors, and other dramatic types; back in my day the Club mostly consisted of the Jai Alai team, members of the Gentlemen Hat-Maker’s Society, and Jingo!, a now-defunct dance troupe specializing in the Lindy Hop. Tower—or “Touwre,” as it was spelled back then—wasn’t even at 13 Prospect Avenue; that site was Dr. Rockefeller’s leech farm, and the Tower that I knew was located at the building that has since been converted into the Public Safety guard box that stops all incoming cars on Faculty Road. Back then we didn’t have Masquerade, or the Franzia Olympics, Houseparties, or even very many meals; Tower existed mostly as a place where a fellow could get his shoes shined or his mustache waxed, and also as the rendezvous point where Hat-Makers would meet to plot against William Jennings Bryan.

Yes, times have changed at Touwre—oops, I mean Tower! Old habits die hard!—but one tradition still remains: the alumnus visit and meal mooch. When I was an undergraduate, whenever I saw an alum in the dining room more than once during the academic school year, I would think indignantly, “My God! What kind of bottom-feeding, unemployed, friendless ragamuffin not only has the free time and pathetic, non-existent social life necessary to schlep over to Princeton for a meal, but also imagines that he is still well-liked—if not idolized—by his younger, un-graduated clubmates, even though most of the club has no idea who he is, and, even if they did, would certainly not like him anyway, being that he is a huge, huge egomaniacal turd statue of a man.”

Now that I am a year-and-a-half out of college, however, I would be lying to myself if I thought I wasn’t a bottom-feeding, unemployed friendless ragamuffin turd statue. Yes, that’s right, I freely admit this label: I, Jason Gilbert, am a bottom-feeding, unemployed, friendless ragamuffin turd statue man. I accept it; it’s my eHarmony username. I would make it my vanity license plate if they printed license plates with that many characters, and also if I could afford a car.

And so now that I recognize myself in the alums I so use to mock and despise, I want my due. I want to be the most bottom-feedingest, most unemployediest, friendlessest ragamuffin turd monument the Tower Club has ever seen in her glorious history. I find myself at a unique moment to claim this crown: I live in New Jersey, with easy access to Princeton; I have no job, nor am I “employable” in even the broadest sense of the word; among my top 5 friends I count both of my parents, the takeout lady at Foo Ho Kitchen, and a beautiful white goose that I sometimes see during my evening walks; and, as always, I have no shame about upsetting social mores, even in the face of explicit condemnation.

AND SO, without further ado, I am proud to announce the inaugural competition of what I hope will become an annual Tower event, on par with the Franzia Olympics, Masquerade, and the dining room being almost completely empty on Yom Kippur: I hereby challenge my fellow Tower (and Touwre) alumni to compete against me on The Official Obnoxious Tower Alumni Mooch-Off Ladder (TOOTAMOL).
All Tower alumni, dead or alive, are eligible to participate in TOOTAMOL, and it will work just like a Robo or Squash Ladder, with standings to be posted regularly at the entrance to the dining room and online for all to see and follow. All you have to do is visit Tower Club, act like a self-important buffoon who owns the place while being totally oblivious to your surroundings. I’ve drawn up a rudimentary points list for how the winner will be chosen:

  • Stop by Tower to say hello: 1 point
  • Stop by Tower for a meal: 2 points
  • Stop by Tower on the weekend for a drink: 3 points
  • Stop by Tower on the weekend for a drink and end up evacuating your bodily fluids anywhere but the toilet: 5 points
  • Spend a night at Tower: 1 point
  • Spend a night with a Tower member: 2 points
  • Spend a night with a Tower officer: 3 points
  • Spend a night with a future Tower bickeree while claiming to be a current officer: 4 points
  • Spend a night with a future Tower bickeree while claiming to be a current officer named Zach Zimmerman: 5 points
  • Tell a story about the time you were in Tower: 1 point
  • Tell a story about the time you were in Tower and were so, so drunk: 2 points
  • Tell a story about the time you were in Tower involving a room in the club that never existed ("The Observatory" "The Chimpanzee Lab"): 3 points
  • Tell a story about the time you were in Tower that doesn't end with a wistful sigh, forced corporate boardroom laughter, or the phrase, "Yeah, we had fun back then": 5 points
  • Play a game of Beirut, Beer Pong, or Robo: 1 point
  • Play a game of Beirut, Beer Pong, or Robo without remarking about how good you used to be or how you're "out of practice": 2 points
  • Play a game of Beirut, Beer Pong, or Robo while discussing your industry, area of expertise, or corporate interests: 3 points
  • Convince the punk undergrad who beat you five times in a row in Beirut, Beer Pong, or Robo that he will never work in investment banking so long as you live, and then storming out of the building, never to return: 5 points
  • Introducing yourself to a current member: 1 point
  • Having a conversation with this member about their major, where they're from, what student activities they are involved in, or what they want to do when they graduate: 1 point
  • Holding a five-minute conversation with a current member without once asking about their major, where they're from, what student activities they are involved in, or what they want to do when they graduate: 2 points
  • Holding a five-minute conversation with a current member solely about what you might look like with a mustache: 3 points
  • Starting this conversation by sidling up to the person and saying, "Excuse me, ma'am, but I must-ache you a very important question": 5 points
The list, I would note, is still in flux, and I am open to suggestions. There are many obnoxious Tower alumni behaviors I did not mention--sitting at dinner for longer than an hour and a half, for example; ordering the officers to turn on the tap for you; making an officer explain how to turn on a piece of electrical equipment, etc. etc.--though I could not assign points, because I don't know how common they are having never "officially" been in an officer (I was, like, totally best friends with all of the officers though, and I ate every meal with them; I was basically the eleventh(?) officer, ask anyone).

Until then, however, this list will have to suffice. I look forward to many more meals, drinks, and telling wide-eyed sophomores totally invented tales about what working at Goldman is really like. Until then (and by then, I mean next week, when I will be staying at Tower for approximately four nights--ready my bedroom, Scheeler!--I wish all of my fellow alumni the best of luck in topping me in the TOOTAMOL. And remember, at the end of the day, we are all True Blue, so let us be civil no matter the results; this is all I must-ache of you.