Category Archives: How To

The Nature of Criticism

John Darnielle recently penned a post on Last Plane to Jakarta which, in turn, was a response to a post Jess Harvell on Idolator which, in its own right, was a response to the multitudinous posts on music blogs praising the glory of the Black Kids, a band that I’ve never heard of. So, just so we know where we stand, the forthcoming post is a response to a response to response to a bunch of statements that I can neither refute nor confirm. Let’s roll.

Both posts deal with criticism–especially music criticism, and most especially online amateur music criticism. Apparently, quite a few blogs (I will not look them up, but I would wager Stereogum and Pitchfork are fine places to start for the more interested), have praised an EP by a band called the Black Kids (maybe The Black Kids, or just Black Kids). I don’t know what they sound like, at all, as the iTunes store doesn’t sell them, and I gave up stealing music once I got a job. They might be great, they might be shit, and it would seem likely that they fall somewhere in between. Given that, to the best of my knowledge, this is their first album, and that the band is composed of fairly young fellows, it’s probably poorly played, poorly produced, and shows that the band has potential to be something special. This makes them very similar to uncounted legions of bands in the US today.

So, music blogs went off about the Black Kids, apparently calling them brilliant or fantastic or the best new band since The Clash, and thus, we have the reaction of Jess Harvell. Harvell astutely points out that the indie music community, in the form of blogs, is insatiable in its appetite for the next big band. Everyone wants to find and declare the genius of “Black Sunrise” before anyone else does. There’s a pride element at work here. Who wouldn’t love to have heard the Beatles before “Please Please Me” was released? Harvell suggests, that, maybe, the music lovin’ online community should slow down with all the hosannas. Not just with the Black Kids, but with all new bands. Most of them aren’t brilliant, and they’re not shit, either, and music reviews should represent that.

Darnielle’s response takes this last idea one step further. Since, after all, reviews are mostly a subjective process, the best reviews shouldn’t aspire to proclaim greatness or inferiority. They should, instead, aspire to accurately describe the music they hear. If that can be done, then the description alone will render the review as positive or negative to the individual reader. No scores or grades, just a clear and appreciate recollection of an album.

Now, this sort of philosophy is at work, to a degree, with the infrequent music reviews done on this site, with the Sine Macula series. The idea behind the series has been to review nothing new–not new to the world, and most certainly not new to me. If had hadn’t owned an album for at least a year, it wasn’t eligible for Sine Macula. This was an effort to curb a misguided enthusiasms for novelties, and for things that declined with repeated experiences–as well as for things that improved with age, so to speak.

This method has been somewhat limiting.  I mostly review music you’ve already heard of because I want to be certain of my reviews, so I take my time listening to the music before I form my opinion.  I like this philosophy though, for not just music crit, but for movies and books and all forms of art.  And so we shall adopt it–farewell to superlatives, and hello to description.  Hopefully, you’ll get a sense of what something is about, what it looks like, what it sounds like, and that alone will be enough to tell you whether to try it for yourself.

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Self-Help: the Trekkie

YOU WANT IT YOU GOT IT!

Because only one reader was gracious enough to send in his input, and because this idea is hilarious, his wish has been granted and here it is…

Hey there all you sci-fi aficionados! This weeks’ (alright months’, back off) self help guide is designed to make you the hardest of hardcore trekkies. So obsessed will you be after studying this, that NOT ONLY will Gene Roddenberry will shudder at the thought of your attending another convention, but you will ALSO be able to tell everyone you know who Gene Roddenberry is, like they care.

My parents (especially father) have been in love with Star Trek since its inception in, I believe, the 1970’s. My father has been watching it for as long as I can remember. The newer versions he finds more distasteful but there was a long stretch [my entire childhood] when i can remember him watching whatever version of Star Trek was running at that given period of time. I was never that big into science fiction. I was never that big into science in general. My sister liked some of it for the same reasons as my dad i suppose. I know you don’t have to be a bio, chem, or physics major to like Star Trek (in fact I’m sure it defies all those three disciplines on a routine basis), and I’m sure a lot of their fan base wasn’t, but something about it really excited my dad. I remember watching a few episodes just to give it a tryout every once in a while, but I never took to it like he did. Still, I can remember a few bits and pieces. Unfortunately that means most of this post is gonna have to be researched, based in fact and hearsay, and not the vague, smoky haze that is my memory and personal experience.  Actually, it is not so much that I care that information is correct, but because I can’t remember terminology. In any event, you can count on me to have a very shaky base of knowledge on the subject, as I saw a few episodes a decade ago or so, but other than that you’ll see that I looked up words and made up whatever I wanted after that.

Due to the potentially self-destructive nature of this post, a more serious disclaimer is certainly necessary.

DISCLAIMER: Mr. Thursday (specifically Paul, if you wanna haul off any of the other writers be my guest) is not responsible for any acts of interstellar warfare, terrorism, or make-up malfunctions that occur while you’re prancing around looking like a freak of nature. It is further denied that Mr. Thursday has ever actually taken any of his own advice on this matter, and any anecdotes or analogies to real life are purely fabricated for the purposes of being informative to you, our reader(s).

Mr. Thursday denies the existence of Vulcans, Klingons, Changlings, Cardassians, Ferengis, Warp Drives, Pon Farr, sexy green aliens, or phasers. However, Mr. Thursday can totally get on board with William Shatner being James T. Kirk (Leonard Nemoy isn’t half bad either). On the subject, Mr. Thursday is very curious about Area 51, the Men in Black, UFO’s, folding space to travel very far in very short periods of time, quantum mechanics, and most most most of all, Mr. Thursday is dying to know why every single alien race is humanoid, why isn’t there a race of intelligent creatures shaped like dogs, or even just 4-legged (MIB aside, we’re talking the Trek here, after all).

Mr. Thursday wholeheartedly admits to having to look up all sorts of data for this post, as he isn’t quite as versed in the realm of Star Trek as one writing such things might be expected to be, but assures you that his research is as sound as Google searches allow and his advice will be grounded in good, solid, cold, hard facts, cyncism, and a general disdain for nerd, birthed from a subconscious fear of their hyper-gallactic intelligence.

After the break, the process.

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Self Help: Your Input

Hello dear readers!

This is your self help guru, if you have interesting jobs or people you wish to be lightly mocked/made fun of please drop a comment or alert Mr. Thursday. If any topics are fun, no matter how challenging, I will write a self-help guide to achieve that status/vocation/level of whatever it is you desire.

For example. Let’s go back a few months, if you’re a staunch democrat/liberal you could’ve said something like “Mr. Guru, why don’t you write a self-help on how to be vice-president?” and i would’ve included things like brainwashing cults/satan worship, optometry, gun ranges, male pattern baldness, quail identification class, cronyism, immoral retribution, lying, and all sorts of other hilarity.

For those of you with the more conservative perspective you could ask, “Mr. Guru, what steps do you have to follow to become an academy award winner?” and I list such things as: use your celebrity status to proliferate your commie views from the stage, botox, be serial monogamists with women/men either far older or far younger than you, writing speeches that thank everyone you’ve known since kindergarten or no one other than your family (but nothing in between), absurdly showcasing wealth while speaking out against America’s greed and commercialism.

Clearly, there does not have to be any sort of political bias (as hopefully indicated by the already posted articles), they can be anything, if you wanna know what it takes to be an astronaut, a clown, a cowboy, a doctor, a judge, a succesful drug dealer, anything you think would make for interesting articles, let me know. And I will consider it, mock you for coming up with such a stupid, preposterous idea, then probably write it anyway.

In the ever-so-likely event that no one responds to this, I will just continue to do what I’ve been doing, and writing on whatever comes to mind 20 minutes before the post is requested to be done.

Peace out

-the GuRu

[Editor’s note: This is only the second time we’ve had the chance to use the “Irony” tag. Can’t say how thrilled we are.  Thanks Paul!]

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Self-Help 4: The Rockstar

The wait is over!

Introduction

Here it is, the how-to guide to becoming a rockstar. Surprisingly enough, being a rockstar has significantly more subtleties than being either a pirate or a ninja, so pay close attention you Slash/Steven Tyler/Gene Simmons wannabe’s.

The reason that it’s so much more difficult to fully engulf oneself into the rockstar mentality/lifestyle/degree of awesome is simple, there is just so much more known about it. Living in our time we know very little of what ninjas are/were really like (except for being totally awesome all the time), only what we read in books. Similarly, we can only read about what pirates really did (except for that one amazing news article that came about 15 months ago that highlighted real life pirates off the coast of Africa who raid Cruise Ships…yeah I remember it, yeah I’m a tool, get off me.) Anyway, rockstars are all around us, they permeate our lives and are easily identifiable, and like it that way. Part of being a rockstar is having everyone know that you are a rockstar and that you have no qualms about being absurd, wreaking havoc on your body, and fighting the proverbial “man” in some abstract fashion that your followers blindly accept but have no real understanding of. And as always, just so Mr. Thursday isn’t legally liable for you trying to pull a John Bonham and drinking 55 shots of whiskey before noon (yes, I will be name dropping all over the post, if you disagree with any of my decisions…well screw you, I’m not getting paid for this, and I can write whatever I want), here is our disclaimer:

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DISCLAIMER

Mr. Thursday (including, but not limited to, all the writers, support staff, office assistants, secretaries, janitors, Facebook friends, lunchtime gossip crew, multilingual translators, and people named Enrico) is not responsible or liable for any bodily harm inflicted upon the self, or others, coming as a result, whether direct or indirect, of any blatantly thoughtless acts, no matter how awesome, performed by the reader. Mr. Thursday denies that any of the following information is adequate justification to neglect personal health or hygiene in pursuit of rockstar status. After consulting our liability insurance lawyers, Mr. Thursday would also like to say that suicide notes blaming the government should be drafted and notarized before any attempts at becoming a rockstar. Should they be necessary, they are a good way to fight against the man, and should they not be necessary…well if you adhere to the following steps, they’ll be necessary.

Mr. Thursday recommends that before practicing on actual instruments, one should play the air guitar and air drums first to get acquainted with the instrument. It worked for Wyld Stallyns. Mr. Thursday cannot be held liable for any hearing defects that occur as a result of either incredibly loud music, or incredibly loud complaints by friends/family/neighbors/cops/animals/extraterrestrials. Mr. Thursday is not liable for any damage done to any cars forced to park in the street to make room for band equipment in the garage.

Mr. Thursday denies the efficaciousness of science and western medicine and only uses acupuncture. Mr. Thursday affirms that whiskey and beer are men’s drinks and fruity drinks are for womenfolk, womenfolk may drink a man’s drink, but the opposite crossover is frowned upon, heavily, there is very little room for exception to this. Mr. Thursday reluctantly denies that robots have been sent back in time to pose as humans, but finds artificial intelligence a very compelling excuse for Paris Hilton. Mr. Thursday denies that the Phillies will post their 10,000th loss this season, we firmly believes in miracles. Mr. Thursday denies that Pearl Jam is as good as they are credited as being, they’re talented, but we don’t see them as musical visionaries or deities or any other such nonsense. Mr. Thursday denies that the last Rage Against The Machine album ever happened, it has been placed in a box with Rocky V, SARS, Chaka Khan, and mini discs. Mr. Thursday would like to take credit for the destruction of the Berlin Wall, but cannot because he had absolutely nothing to do with it.

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Marble? Betelgeuse? Anatomy of a Rock Star.

You need to make sure not to allow yourself to be misled, there are a lot of people out there who want you to think they are rockstars. But real rockstardom is attained by the elite few who are able to willingly sacrifice their health, their bodies, their minds, and their sanity for their craft. Rockstars can be identified by not only their appearance, but what you hear about them. Rockstars do absurd and crazy things, not because they want you to know that they do crazy and absurd things, but because they just wanna know what it feels like. Quite the opposite of the controlled, focused, disciplined lifestyle of the ninja, rockstars rarely think about things before they do them, they are characterized by their lack of control, even in situations where what’s appropriate seems blatantly obvious, and they view discipline as a sign of “selling out to the man”. Many people in the news/tabloids/on the internet do wacky shit so people will hear about it and be impressed, real rockstars don’t give two shits to the wind what you think of them, they do what they want because they want, not because of what some nobody in squaresville might say or do in response to it.

This is not to imply that all rockstars are self-mutilating idiots. There are some who use their star power to do good, i.e. Bono, but they do it for the reasons above. People like Bono do what they do, not because they want you to think they’re awesome people and kind and generous and “wow he’s a real humanitarian”. They do it because they think that’s what should be done. Damn you if you disagree, this is what I wanna do and I’m gonna do it. The idea is not that they all act like miscreants and don’t care, it’s rather that their actions reflect solely their own desires and any exterior influence is minimal or negated. This also doesn’t mean to imply that all rockstars are outrageous. Sure, a lot of them do outrageous things, but that isn’t a necessary criteria for rockstardom. Guys like Steve Tyler rarely get interviewed for being over the top, but have a solid history of being rockstars through their attitude and lifestyle, some rockstars are just more extreme in their actions than others.

So without further adieu, Mr. Thursday presents the steps to rockstardom:

1:INSPIRATION

All rockstars at some point in their careers talk about their inspirations, these are the people they credit with instilling in them a desire to become a rockstar. In addition to the bands/music you like, there are certain movies you can watch for inspiration and certain you should stay away from. For example The Doors starring Val Kilmer and Jim Morrison (Yes, Val Kilmer, if I get one comment posted about this I will strike it out and change it) is a good film to watch to gauge what a rockstar should be. Watching Jack Black in School of Rock is a great way to find out what you SHOULDN’T DO. Here is a list of suggested movies Mr. Thursday thinks will aid you should you need help in discerning how a good rockstar icon will appear:

The Doors – Val kilmer as Jim Morrison
The Wall – Pink Floyd being…well…Pink Floyd
Rock Star – show love to Marky Mark
Detroit Rock City – Kiss.
Spinal Tap – this movie goes to 11
Almost Famous – I AM A GOLDEN GOD

Movies you should NOT watch:

School of Rock/the Pic of Destiny – Jack Black is the anti-rockstar
Hard Rock Zombies – take our word on this one
Stuck in the Suburbs – don’t ask, just know that this movie has some terrrrrrible rock icons.

I’m confident if you check out this list even marginally, you’ll get the gist of what we’re talking about here. Even if it is just as a foundation.

2. HAIR

Long, flowing, ragged, nothing says rock like an 80’s Hairband. But this isn’t completely necessary. Although lots of rockers through the ages have donned outrageous hair styles (and lets face it, they’re a lot more fun to watch than close cropped performers), artists like Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel have never had hair that could’ve been put into a pony tail, yet anyone who questions the status of either of these men is a fool and has no place among the intelligent readers of the Curious Mechanism. So in conclusion, to be safe, let that mop grow and if you can make it wavy, that’s a plus. Look at Jimmy Page, Steve Perry, Slash, and the list could go on forever. Long hair wasn’t around at the beginning of rock, the Beatles didn’t sport it until they got really into drug use, and the Stones still have relatively average haircuts, thus it can NEVER be considered an essential criteria, it just helps a lot. Most rockstars view their hair as a badge of pride. They think it gives them character and separates them from the mundane, the average, and the boring. Can’t really argue with that, some of them are just plain incomprehensible. Best to make sure that your hair is an offshoot of your persona, don’t ever let your hair dictate who you are.

3.CLOTHING

This section is gonna be shorter, because it’s the man that makes the clothes, not vice versa. You just need to remember, dear reader, that your clothing has to match your attitude. If you wanna wear tight leather pants with a cheetah print, you better have the ‘tude to back them up. In general, rockstars and leather have always had a fond relationship. But rockstars have worn bellbottoms, they’ve worn skinny jeans, they’ve worn suits, they’ve come close to wearing nothing at all, they’ve been seen casual on stage, they’ve been seen dressed like a circus was in town that morning and they went wardrobe shopping. Just make sure that whatever you decide to wear, it reflects your attitude. Leather says “up for anything”, casual says “whatever man, I’m chillin”, a suit says “damn, i look good”, bellbottoms and loose flowing shirts say “you’ve GOTTA try this punch”. Act accordingly. Some rockstars take clothing to an extreme. Elton John wears a flamboyant pair of sunglasses every concert he puts on. Some bands always dress in white. Johnny Cash wore black. Kiss and Gwar have entire outfits and costumes that they wear on stage (and need we remind you what the village people dressed like?). While for the most part, this is kinda cool, it has to be done right. If done wrong, it will sink your career before it even takes off. You have to do this from the very beginning, you can’t pick up a costume motif after you become popular, it doesn’t work, and you can’t change one if you have one. So if you’re dead set on this, pick something that’s never been done before. Mr. Thursday’s suggestion: perform every concert and show you put on in a garbage bag dress. people will be certainly talk about it, and free publicity is always helpful.

4. LIFESTYLE

This is the hardest part of being a rockstar to wrap your head around, mostly because up till now, anyone can do it. Anyone can grow out their hair, watch a few movies about totally awesome rockstars, and wear leather pants and a tight shirt. This is where you’ve gotta separate yourself from the masses. Because only a handful of people actually have what it takes to unwittingly live their lives as rockstars. Some quick role models:

Keith Richards – the quintessential rockstar, is rumored to have snorted a line a cocaine mixed with the ashes of his father. Been playing music for 40+ years, done more drugs than Colombia exports in an entire year. Amazing musician, loves to party, loves his job, wouldn’t consider anything else, ever.
Billy Joel – completely different sound than Keith Richard but same mentality. Been performing for decades. Been in alcohol rehab more times than Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson. Married a woman younger than his daughter. Amazing musician, loves to party, loves his job.
Paul McCartney – Similar musically to Richards and Joel in different stages of his life. Like Richards, one of the pioneers of rock music, been performing for decades. Mr. Thursday will confess a degree of ignorance into the drug history of McCartney, however, it is assumed that he’s been known to partake in a little narcotic euphoria at some point in his life. Known affinity for booze. Not afraid to put the ex in her place. Amazing musician, loves to party, loves his job.

Are you getting the trend here?

To own this lifestyle, to really assimilate it into your persona, you cannot be normal. Allowing, of course, that no tangible or quantifiable definition of “normal” can ever be made or drafted, normal – for our intents and purposes – means commonplace. You shouldn’t be common, you should be unique, and not in that “my mommy says I’m special” kinda way. People should stare at you, even if it’s just your picture, they should be able to despise you and secretly envy you. Your lack of regard for the rules or conventions should be legendary, bite the head off a bat once in a while, snort a line of coke laced with ashes of a relative, try to drink an entire handle of alcohol before noon, write albums that sync up with old movies, do whatever you want to do without inhibition. Everybody has the urge to be spectacular (and spectacular is not always a positive thing, it merely means deviating from the ordinary), but most people are too insecure and afraid to be extraordinary. Rockstars have no fear, they will get up on stage and dry hump a speaker wearing leather pants and a velvet top hat and nothing else, clearly fear is not an option, whether its a natural aversion to fear or a chemically induced inhibitionless state, which brings us to the next bullet point.

5. ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

Alcohol and drugs do not a rockstar make, but they sure help. I will probably never endorse drug usage, and i will constantly endorse alcohol usage (responsibly) but the two of them mixed together are a pretty common combination for the heavily musically inclined. IF I were to ever espouse drug usage it would be for the sake of being a rockstar, but not all rockstars should take the same drugs, I find this to be self-evident. Different positions in the band require different effects to bring out their rockstar side. Guitarists, for example, often prefer drugs like acid, LSD, or other hallucinogens which bring out their creative side. Drummers, on the other hand, prefer drugs like meth, which amplifies the power they get from beating their drums. And singers/frontmen prefer the uppers like cocaine, because they enjoy running all over stage sweating like pigs, talking a mile a minute, and never getting tired.

BE VERY CAREFUL WHILE EXPERIMENTING WITH NARCOTICS, many of the greats died before their time because of their love of the drug culture. I won’t start naming because I won’t be able to stop. You don’t wanna be put into a category with those people. As wonderful as their music was, and is, it is never cool to die young.

6. ONSTAGE ANTICS

We’ve all heard about (and I’ve even previously mentioned) Ozzie biting the head off a bat onstage, Rage Against the Machine starting a riot against their own event security, more riots being started by The Who, Mick Jagger so coked out he actually appears to be on both sides of the stage at once because hes running back and forth so much, countless singers diving into the crowd, spraying water (or something liquid) onto the front rows, or making faces like they’re rapidly approaching an orgasm while singing. A rockstar wants the spotlight, he/she really wants you to focus on them, their bread and butter is the excitement of the crowd. When you are up on stage, you are an icon, a giant, a God. You’ve gotta attract people’s attention like a wounded gazelle attracts lions on the Serengeti, and then you’ve gotta hold it like zombie’s watching fireworks (Mr. Thursday assumes that everyone reading his blog is familiar with sky flowers). You want people to be so into what you’re doing that they don’t even notice they’ve loosened their bladder and urinated on those unfortunate enough to be standing closeby.

Nowadays, there are also those screens and monitors that keep the ever-decreasing attention span of America’s youth focused on all the lights and colors on the stage. While sometimes these are interesting, it is the opinion of Mr. Thursday that these should be done away with. As with baseball, Mr. Thursday is a rock n’ roll purist. Keep the attention on the band, not on technology. Ozzie bit the head off a bat just so you’d watch, there was no cgi involved. Mr. Thursday’s suggestion: always have no less than 8 giant iguanas walking around on stage, they’re slow enough that they can’t all run away fast so you won’t need to constantly refill the stage with them, and it’s just wacky enough to keep people guessing what’s gonna happen next, ESPECIALLY if you’re wearing a garbage bag dress.

7. THE BALLAD

You need to have at least one song, acoustic, that shows your softer, more sensitive side. Of course this is just a ploy to get the ladies, but they don’t know that, so viola! ladies will be lining up to get a chance to see your sweet side, intimately. This will be your put-your-lighter-in-the-air song. The one that defies the genre. It doesn’t have to be a soft rock lullaby, Zeppelin did it with stairway, you can still rock out in your soft song, but a good bit of it has to be melodic and not thrashing, pleasant but not boring, intricate yet subtle, possibly even in major chords yet still sympathetic. Even if it’s a song that in no way reflects your musical career, it will be one of the more remembered. Think of it like this: rockstars…are like onions…they have layers, the only difference is that onions make you cry when you cut them, rockstars make you cry when they pull their limos over and leave you in the middle of the desert for not performing lewd sexual acts. Simple, no?

P.S. anytime someone asks you about the ballad, always answer the same way…
“Yeah, I wrote that when I was going through a really rough time in my life…” SAY NOTHING ELSE. People will eat it up, you haven’t said anything but they’ll assume you were contemplating suicide and on the verge of overdosing or jumping off a tall building, everyone sensationalizes rockstars, use that to your advantage.

8. ROADIES

Pay them in tickets and pork rinds.

9.METHOD OF TRANSPORTATION

Legends are born on the bus. Only take the plane if absolutely necessary. Get a bus or take the train.

The last two points I’m going to address represent such finesse that many wannabes cannot handle them with the grace/poise/ and sheer brilliance required to pull them off. They are delicate matters, and must be addressed appropriately, for fear of mass ridicule – the death of the rock star. Think of attention as your life force, you can only survive while people pay attention to you. Now be careful not to confuse this idea with the fact that you don’t really care what people think of you, you do what you want. But what you want should keep the public interested in you. These last two things you need to perfect will certainly keep you in the public eye, but poor execution of them will make sure that its a burning inferno of attention for a short burst, then you are forgotten for eternity. I am, of course, speaking of the band break up, and the solo album.

10. THE BREAK UP

ALL BANDS WILL BREAK UP, whether it be to differences, death, loss of interest, going away to college, inability to pay the bills, or moving on with life. The Rolling Stones will break up, Aerosmith will break up, Pearl Jam will break up. The Beatles are gone, The Who has passed, and Led Zeppelin is no more. This is a musical eventuality, and preparation is key. A lot of band break-ups are spontaneous, which is why you should know and rehearse what you are going to say when it happens. You need to be in control of the situation. There is a formula here, stay with me:

You’re sitting on the top of the world, ladies are lining up to jump into the sack with you, concerts are sold out all over the world, your first album just hit double platinum. Everyone is drinking dom and snorting yay, the critics love you, you “blend emotion and passion into melodic minors and energetic majors while not betraying the voice of the people who give you your fame. You are truly prophetic in your lyrics and musically beyond your time”. Nothing could get better, your video debuted at #1 on TRL and Jessica Biel just left a message on your cell phone to give her a call back as soon as you can. Life is good. Your tour ends. You relax with the nice big fat bonus check your label gave you for the hard work you’ve been doing having sex with 6 girls at a time, doing lots of narcotics, and doing a 2 hour concert every 3 days for 2 months.

A few months pass and a new band is rising into stardom, sonic death monkey (or whatever you choose to call your band, the name of the band doesn’t really have a TON to do with the making of the rockstar, so it isn’t addressed here) is starting to fade in the public eye. The video is off TRL, Jessica Biel is shagging JT again, the album sales have plateaued and are slipping, the singles aren’t receiving as much radio time. This was inevitable, the passage of time brings new talent. So the label calls you and says it’s time to get back in the studio and come up with album #2, sure to be a hit. A few months later it’s finished and you’re back on top. The critics think you’re “a refreshing oasis in a desert of talentless dribble. A true homage to musical creativity and genius”. Biel is back on speed dial and Carson Daly (does he still do TRL, I feel like he doesn’t but I’ll take a chance here) is singing your praises again.

But the fleeting fame fades again and sure enough new albums come out, monopolize radio time and you’re back on the list of bands to play once the new stuff gets too saturated. So you make a 3rd album, a 4th, a 5th. By now the critics have turned on you, “sonic death monkey seems to have boiled their talent on a spoon and injected it into their arm instead of their hearts and heads. This stagnant, boring album combines all the musical talent of a giraffe and a chainsaw. All their songs sound the same, a once fresh and vibrant band is now struggling to keep up in a genre that is leaving them in the dust, they should do the music community a favor and stop producing albums.” Jess changed her number, Carson tries to make jokes about your band’s poor album sales but fails miserably. The label is pissed off cuz you couldn’t deliver. And now is your chance. As the public starts to forget about this piss poor album you’ve created you seize the moment. While the band is all complaining and grumbling, trying to figure out what happened with the album you start shouting “You’re all holding me back! I’ve surpassed all of you! I’m being suffocated by your mediocrity!” This gives you the upper hand, because you left them. It wasn’t mutual, it wasn’t for the best. It was you who claimed superiority, and that will come in handy later. It is now their incompetence that sunk the band, not your inability. This leads directly into the solo album.

11. THE SOLO ALBUM

If your solo album doesn’t sell, kiss your ass goodbye. You’ll always be an asshat who ditched his band when things got rough and couldn’t cut it on his own. But if you can pull it off, you’ll get the credit for the good albums, you won’t get blamed for the bad ones, the people will adore you again, and you can remain a rock icon. The risk is worth the reward, and you don’t think things through, remember? In this album at least a couple songs have to be significantly different than those played by the band. Some can be similar, but try to establish yourself as superior in anyway you can. Talk incessantly in interviews about how rejuvenated you feel, how fresh and excited you are to be back in action and all that nonsense, the critics will eat it up. Hopefully you’ve saved enough money to buy some critics love and affection (unlikely since you’re a rockstar and haven’t thought that far ahead). So you have to sweet talk the critics a little bit, suck up, and win their love. A good album wouldn’t hurt you either. But if you can pull off the solo album, you will be set. You can tour with other bands, or by yourself, you can invite others to be featured on your album, the horizon is the limit. Just don’t overdose on heroin before you’re 35.

So here it is ladies and gents, this is your guide to becoming a rockstar. It had to be a bit more exhaustive but it is a sure-fire way to get in that hall of fame.

Oh, one last piece of advice, don’t ever take lessons…you know…to learn how to actually play your instrument or sing. Real rockstars don’t need no instructions to know how to rock.

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Self-Help: the Pirate

Yeah, yeah, we all knew it was coming. We did the ninja, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the next one will be the rockstar. It takes some of the fun out of it for me knowing that you readers out there expect these now, so stop harassing me about doing them and lets make it fun again…for me…because who really cares about you anyway? Not me…I don’t give a rat’s teet in heck about you. Anyway.

So, the Pirate.

For as long as pirates and ninjas have existed there has been the argument about who would win in a fight, the pirate, or the ninja. I am not here today to answer that question. It’s not my concern if your pathetic life hinges that far on nerddom that you seriously have arguments about this. I’m here to coach you into becoming the best pirate you can be, not feed into your anti-social awkward behavior. If you get into serious discussions about who would win these hypothetical conflicts, then you are neither a ninja, nor a pirate, and thus not interesting to me and I don’t care to speak to you. For those of you interested in becoming a pirate, read on.

You can just skip the next paragraph, it’s legally mandated but of no use to anyone…

DISCLAIMER: Mr. Thursday and any and all of his affiliates, writers, editors, friends, countrymen, Romans, imaginary friends, luck dragons, ligers, entourage, pets, or habitual line steppers are not in anyway/shape/ or form liable for any acts of piracy, lunacy, idiosyncrasy, or any other cy words that might stem from reading this passage. Mr. Thursday disavows any real, firsthand knowledge of such things as pirates, the following came to him in a comatose dream after hitting his head in the bathroom, directly after discovering the flux capacitor. Mr. Thursday denies that pirates even actually exist, which sucks for you because should you follow the following steps and become a pirate, you will surely become lonely. Mr. Thursday denies that he once held a habenero eating contest in his friends kitchen that sent 3 boys crying to the freezer to eat as much ice cream and chug as much milk as they could. Mr. Thursday also denies ever intentionally wearing a zap collar through an electric fence to see how far he could get. Mr. Thursday denies the moon landing. Mr. Thursday believes in ghosts, but believes they are merely still here because they have unfinished business. Mr. Thursday believes heartily in zombies, and you should to, before it’s too late. Mr. Thursday does not, however, believe in pixies, fairies (except for…the other kind), nymphs, goblins, trolls, dryads, or man-eating cicadas. Finally, Mr. Thursday denies that everyone and everything is anything more than a figment of his imagination and wholeheartedly affirms that the Earth sits on the back of a giant sea-turtle.

On to the looting and pillaging and whatnot.

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Self-Help: the Ninja

Alright ladies and gentlemen, this week we’re going to explore the ins and outs of becoming one of the most feared warriors in history: the ninja. What makes a ninja a ninja? Who can become a ninja? What are the steps to becoming a ninja? Which ninja myths can be trusted and which are malarkey? and so on. By the time you’re finished reading, you will have the wherewithall to embark on your own spirit quest for enlightenment and stealthy assassination missions.

I know you’re salivating, I know you can’t wait to get to the meat, but bear with me while I’m legally bound to make the following disclaimer:

DISCLAIMER: Neither Mr. Thursday nor any of his affiliates, friends, writers, acquaintances, family members, pets, co-workers, or aliens within his gates can be held in anyway liable for any malicious, devious, ill-conceived, harmful, dangerous, illegal, malfeasant, or idiotic actions which any reader may attempt following appraisal and evaluation of the data contained below. This data is for personal use and is not, under any condition, to be shared with anyone who has a penchant for violence, a chemical imbalance, exaggerated testosterone levels, an overactive adrenal gland, a mean-spirited disposition, or scowls a lot. There is no 100% guarantee on the effectiveness of following the steps as any particular reader may fit the exclusion criteria and not even fully be aware of it at any given time. The author also disavows any personal knowledge or interaction with any ninjas themselves, or anyone who has ever claimed to have been at any time or even known at any time a real ninja, plenty of posers though. The following are all creations from the mind of a being far superior in intellect to you (me), and that is why the reader should read, attempt to comprehend as best he or she can, and meditate on the following teachings for years before actually ever attempting to complete any of the steps. The author also disavows any belief in the occult, magic, love-at-first-sight, bigfoot, million dollar bills, happily-ever-after, and the loch ness monster. Continue reading

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Self-Help: The Rap Album

Today, boys and girls, we’re going to explore what it is that makes a successful rap album.  Clearly, not every rap album is the same but recently, they all seem to have a few common threads which we shall delve into in hopes that, should you ever be consumed with the desire to release a rap album, you’ll have the know-how to make it a hit.

The steps, after the break.

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