The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 37.0°F | Partly Cloudy

COLUMN

Adopting Adaptations

Philip Burrowes

One’s first year at a new school is more than just advancing another step, it’s a blind leap into an abyss from which one may never escape. To escape such impending doom, intrepid scholars must steel themselves to wage battle anew against the hordes of professors, TAs, and curve-wrecking peer. No matter how heralded, how lauded, how well accomplished they once were, their slate has been wiped clean, and to rest on their laurels/heralds/accomplishments is therefore tantamount to satisfaction with nothing. A plan is necessary, not some ad hoc, perfunctory push towards a PhD. Why waste time and energy, however, making a new plan when old ones lay ripe for the taking? You just have to know who you are, where you want to end up, and the right place to look.

Take our own Athena system, which recently doubled the default storage space available to a single account and will eventually change the password to the various clusters around campus. Any person who uses computers on a regular basis -- even those NMC weirdos -- should take heed and gain weight as fast healthily possible. Such increased girth will make you exponentially more attractive, however, so be careful to roll out a new set of secret handshakes, esoteric Red Dwarf quotes, and oblique references to your Website. Finally, you’ll be able to separate your real friends from the ones that just want your quota.

Still don’t get? Have a few dozen more examples until the point gets really boring.

Adaptation: Vanilla Coke/Pepsi Blue.

For Whom: People who want to make a big splash despite changing only superficially.

How: The obvious answer is to dye your hair, although there’s always the option of coating yourself in some sort of confectionary gel. Most people will see through either gimmick.

Adaptation: Pop Idol/The Kumars at No 42.

For Whom: Foreigners, especially from (or by way of) the U.K.

How: Yes, some Americans go for the overtly-immigrant type, but deep down they’re xenophobes and they know it. “American Idol” shows us that imports should openly claim to be American (as opposed to the more subtle “Canadian method”). NBC’s plan of turning a South Asian BBC comedy into a “Mexican-American” sitcom suggests that when all else fails, pretend to be Latino.

Adaptation: Halloween: Resurrection.

For Whom: Someone trying to breathe new life into a tried and true concept.

How: Throw several Next Best Things (Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks, the Internet) into the mix and hope something sticks. Unfortunately, acquiring individual people would be difficult given the 13th Amendment and all -- blame the GOP -- but it’s a surefire semi-hit if you do.

Adaptation: WWF/WCW.

For Whom: Former competitors who must now share the same space.

How: Just because that jerk from your Sophomore Spanish class also got into MIT doesn’t mean you have to be great friends. Don’t simply pretend he doesn’t exist, however; mock him mercilessly using all the dirt you learned about him in high school. Internecine competition provides an edge to keep you going without the threat of truancy officers.

Adaptation: Jennifer Love Hewitt/Angie Martinez.

For Whom: Students who have long planned to enter “unscientific” fields.

How: Despite possessing access to world-class faculty in nearly all disciplines, MIT students are all expected to be engineers, and every poet or musician is believed to have put aside artistic aspirations to attend the Institute. Like Jennifer Love Hewitt and Angie Martinez’s continued forays into the recording industry, their “success” in other fields makes them appear as though they’re merely using celebrity to substitute for actual talent (the “Jennifer Lopez” method). Ignore people that cast such aspersions on Course XXI majors -- they’re merely jealous because their classes will be very boring.

Adaptation: Boyz II Men.

For Whom: The Prodigal Son (or Daughter).

How: Tired of being compared to successful relatives, or afraid of not living up to ancestral standards? First of all, stop whining about being rich, you ungrateful brat. Second of all, if you really can’t stand your family, disown them and strike off on your own. Be forewarned that your problems may be independent of blood; Boyz II Men’s album sales since leaving Motown have maintained the disappointment felt when Evolution followed II.

Adaptation: Smallville.

For Whom: Hopefully Nobody.

How: Don’t do anything like this show. It took a silly idea (Superman never made good television, so why should his apocryphal and ambiguous adolescence?), threw in almost campy villains despite pretending the series was “dark,” and then put Metropolis in Kansas, of all states. There’s a reason the comic book Smallville was in Kansas, people. Nor did they ever make good on the rumored Bruce Wayne cameo. Still, people can’t get enough of the fake Matrix effects (i.e., fake Hong Kong wire-action), can they?

Adaptation: Kermit T[he] Frog.

For Whom: Dick Clark.

How: Some characters are ageless. Literally. From the instant the infantile interpretations of the Muppets appeared in 1984’s “Muppets Take Manhattan,” viewers have been treated to an unfathomable paradox in which Kermit, that puppet protagonist nonpareil, has coexisted with himself on the airways at different ages. Recall the episode of Muppet Babies where, although ostensibly a “baby,” (but clearly older than Robin, his tadpole-of-a-nephew) Kermit also appears as an adult in one of Gonzo’s fantasy sequences. Most recently, he has appeared as a juvenile in the new “movie” “Kermit’s Swamp Years,” which mucks with the already questionable continuity of the franchise (is he married to Miss Piggy or not, and why do they eat at Denny’s?). Anyway, this illumes the path for any of us who don’t wish to advance through abyss just yet, instead remaining a Toys “R” Us kid, if you will: be confusing.