There is a vast ocean of shit you people don’t know shit about. Rick knows every grain of said shit and then some.
– Abraham, The Walking Dead
Story of my life, Rick. Story of my life.
PREVIOUSLY ON TRUE MUSIC STORIES:
Longtime friends Bookshelf Q. Battler aka Read N. Plenty and Bernie Plotznik aka MC Plotz travel to Hollywood in search of fame and fortune as a rap duo called “The Funky Hunks.” They sign with Reuben Torkilsen, who, at the time, was considered the worst agent in Hollywood, his only client list being a sub-par magician and a dog.
At Reuben’s behest, they hold auditions for a third member, and pass on an up-and-coming Curtis “50-Cent” Jackson.
REUBEN: Look boys. I get it. I’m new in the biz. I have an office in a strip mall between a Shakey’s Pizza and a discount orthodontist. But I’m one thing the other agents in this town are not. I’m hungry. I want to taste success as much as you two do. I’m willing to work, I’ve got some great ideas, and I think you should listen to me.
BQB: You suck, Reuben.
BERNIE: Big time. We want Dr. Dre.
REUBEN: No offense, but Dr. Dre wouldn’t pee on you if you were on fire. Now, listen, I really feel your group needs a third member. Someone with street cred…someone with style and pizazz, someone with some star power that will rub off on you two…
BQB: We’re lousy with star power.
BERNIE: We’ve got street cred out the wazoo.
BQB: Just the other day my Aunt Gertie told me I have copious amounts of street cred.
REUBEN: You passed on 50-Cent. Passed on that nice young man Busta Rhymes. And what about that about Marshall Mathers guy? He seemed very talented.
BQB: Please, Reuben. We’re already two white guys. The rap game only has so much room for us.
BERNIE: Hell will freeze over before everyone in America pays attention to a song about a guy who calls himself “Slim Shady.”
REUBEN: Alright. Here’s my next idea. You change your name from “Funky Hunks” to “Funky People” and add a female rapper.
BQB: Reub, I think you’re missing out on the cleverness of our name.
BERNIE: “Funk” rhymes with “Hunk.”
BQB: We spent hours on that shit.
(A young Missy Elliot walks into the room)
REUBEN: Boys, this is Missy Elliot.
BQB: Chicks can’t rap.
REUBEN: Ignore them, Missy. Let’s hear what you’ve got.
MISSY ELLIOT 1999 FUNKY HUNK AUDITION
Thank you for seeing me today. I call this ‘Work It.’
Is it worth it? Let me work it.
I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it…
BQB: Whoa, whoa, whoa!!!!
BERNIE: Time out! Stop the clock!
BQB: “I put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it?”
BQB: So basically, you do nothing?
BQB: Try to follow me on this. If you put your thing down…flip it…then reverse it…you have essentially done nothing. Your thing is back in its original position. You might as well have not moved your thing at all.
MISSY: It’s just a catchy lyric…
(BQB slaps his forehead. Bernie pinches the bridge of his nose as if he is suffering from a tremendous headache).
BERNIE: Alright, let’s do a little experiment here.
(Bernie takes out a piece of paper, writes “X” on one side and “Y” on the other)
BERNIE: We have a paper. We have “Side X” and “Side Y.” In its default position, the paper has Side X facing up. This paper is, by its very definition, “a thing.” I take this thing, I flip it. Side Y is now facing up. I now reverse that action by flipping the paper over so that Side X is once again facing up. In summation, I might as well have done nothing at all. That’s science. Your song is an affront to science.
(Missy turns to Reuben)
MISSY: Are these dudes for real?
REUBEN: Yes, unfortunately.
BQB: I don’t think we’re asking for much for our third member to have a grasp of the basic principles of engineering and aerodynamics, do you?
REUBEN: You’re making a big mistake here fellas…
BQB: Please. This dame won’t make a dime off that song.
ANNOUNCER: By 2002, Missy Elliot became richer than an old timey gold prospector and you couldn’t drive a car five feet without listening to “Work It” on the radio.
BQB: All that proves is that we live in a nation of dunces, people too ignorant to understand science.
BERNIE: It’s basic science! She might as well have said, “I’m going to do nothing at all because to do something only to revert said something to its original state is to essentially do nothing at all!
ANNOUNCER: The duo auditioned every aspiring rapper in the game, passing over one future success after another. Finally, Carl McGillicuddy, the Shakey’s janitor poked his head in the room.
CARL: Reuben, I’m mopping out Shakey’s shitter. Want me to do yours while I’m at it?
REUBEN: Sure. Thanks.
BQB: Whoa! Who’s that?!
REUBEN: He’s the Janitor.
BERNIE: Hey! Janitor! Can you sing?
CARL: Not a note.
BQB: Can you stand in the background, hold a mic, pretend like you’re singing, and take home a paycheck that will be smaller than ours but still more than you make mopping out pizza joint shitters?
CARL: Hell yeah.
BERNIE: You’re hired!
TOMORROW ON TRUE MUSIC STORIES: THE FUNKY HUNKS DEVELOP A BAD BOY IMAGE
As a lover of action movies who will be there opening night for Fast 7, this was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time:
“I’m always thumpin…”
“Yeah, it’s always somethin'”
Nothing in my life has ever been easy.
At times, I get down about that.
Imagine success is a castle. For some people, the drawbridge just opens and in they go. They are welcomed with rainbows, unicorns, leprechauns, fuzzy bunny rabbits, and juggling clowns. Nice clowns, not scary ones. The ones who make you balloon animals.
I’m not knocking them. I’m sure they’re good people. I’m sure they were all qualified for entry into the castle. Even if they’re not, I believe success is something that everyone should have. Them being less successful does not cause me to become more successful, so there’s no point to being displeased with them. I just wish them a happy journey and tell them to say hi to the leprechauns for me.
Then there’s me. When I knock on the door to the Castle of Success, out come the orcs, the dragons, the flame sword wielding dark knights, the zombies, the bow men, the pike men, the pointy stick men, the pots of boiling oil and the catapults.
As I stare out in the sea of evil that stands between me and the Castle of Success, I can’t help but think, “What is wrong with me?”
And then the questions pour in:
“Where did I go wrong?”
“What could I have done differently?”
“Was there a point in my life where I was blind? Did I miss a nice, clear path to success? One that did not involve orcs, dragons, et al? What mistake did I make to cause me to veer from this path?”
“Look at all these damn orcs, dragons, monsters, and so on. Is it too much? Should I just give up and walk away?”
“Surely, as tough as things are, there are many people who have it worse than I do. They wish they had a chance to fight the orcs, the dragons, the monsters, et al. They’re still stuck in the countryside, wishing they were in the general vicinity of the Castle of Success.”
Inside the Castle of Success, there is a book I have written.
I miss the days when I was young and able to stay up 48 hours straight writing term papers fueled by nothing but Monster Energy Drinks and feel fine. Doing that today would leave me feeling like I got hit by a Mac Truck.
There’s no more “I’ll leave it till the last minute then stay up all night.” There’s only “be responsible and do a little bit every day.”
The burdens of life settle in. The Castle of Success is right there within walking distance. The orcs and dragons are waiting to fight me. They’re getting impatient, checking their watches and wondering if they should just give up. Maybe I’ll never manage to take them on.
I could stop and lie down. This spot on the grass seems comfy. Yes, I could fight the orcs and win, or I could become an orc’s lunch and end up losing my nice comfy spot on the grass. Decisions, decisions.
One orc gives up and cracks open a book. Another watches “The Walking Dead Orcs” on his Orc-Pad.
I hate Orcs. More than Yetis.
And so I sit down and wait. And I stare at the orcs, dragons, knights with fire swords, zombies, bow men, hot oil droppers, etc etc and I wonder if things will ever click in my life so that I can find a way to take them all on…i.e. a strategy for working on a book in small increments every day that will eventually pay off.
I get up one morning and decide “Today is the day I’ll work hard on my book.” By nightfall, 500 unexpected occurrences happen that draw my attention away from anything having remotely to do with writing.
And then when I do get a chance to write…I criticize myself like I’m a super-charged Robert Ebert.
Will I ever get over my perfectionism? Will I ever realize that not every TV, movie, book, piece of entertainment is 100 percent perfect? That I just need to get my ideas on paper the best I can, get them proofread, edited, into a book, and then swing for the fences?
I look to my left and my right. People are just strolling all carefree into their respective Castles of Success. Part of me assumes everything is so easy for them. Another part, a better part, reminds me that inside every person is a battle we know nothing about – that inside people who seem to have it all together there might, in fact, be a struggle we’ve never seen, nor do we want to.
Maybe it only looks like they’re being greeted by leprechauns and bunnies. Maybe the leprechauns are crazy. Maybe the bunnies have sharp teeth. We only see successful people in the best possible light. We have no idea what they went through. We shouldn’t bash them. Bringing other people down will never raise us up. “I’m doing so poorly because others are doing so well” is an illogical fallacy.
I need to disregard them. Whether its easy for them or not is not my concern. My concern is the fact that every accomplishment I’ve ever made has not come easy. It has come by fighting orcs, dragons, and zombies for what I do have.
Knowledge is power and knowing that the orcs and dragons must be fought to reach the Castle makes me stronger. I must stop lamenting my lot in life, quit playing the “woe is me game,” and stop hoping that the Castle of Success will magically come to me.
I know I never get anywhere without a fight and I must fight my way to the Castle. Worse, I must fight myself, which is no easy feat, for I am harder on myself than the orcs and so on.
So I forget all that and focus on my personal orcs. And dragons. And monsters, zombies, flame sword nights, guys with boiling pots of oil, and also the purple purple Indian arm burn rubbers. I hate those guys the most.
I may never leave my comfy spot on the grass. Part of me says forget these orcs. The other part says if dreaming about fighting the orcs is what gets you through the day then so be it, even if you never leave the grass.
I’ve run out of things to say. I must fight these orcs and find my way into..the Castle of Success.
I am Bookshelf Q. Battler. I read books. I try to write novels. I fight Yetis. I have 3.5 readers. And I hate orcs.
Wow! What a finale!
And an extra Walking Dead spin-off coming next year!
What say you?
Alien Jones was hit by a space bus on his way to buy nutrition cubes. He’s fine but he’s skipping his column this week to focus on his recovery.
In the meantime, help a blogger out with #YetiMovies and #ReplaceSongLyricWithYeti
4000 follows gets the smelly Yeti out of my crib.
BQB here. I hate the Yeti for sharing this transcript.
ANNOUNCER: From the Learning Center Annex of East Randomtown to Hollywood, the Funky Hunks were on their way to a career in showbiz. They signed up with Reuben Torkilsen, whose other clients included “The Mysterious Lenny” aka “Mr. Guesses Your Card within Seven Tries or You Get a Coupon to the Sizzler” and Twinkles the Tap-dancing Poodle.
REUBEN: Boys, we need a third fellow to round out your group. The more hunks, the better!
BQB (whispers to Bernie): Um, can we bust on him for saying that?
BERNIE: I don’t know. I mean, we’re still in the 90’s but it’s almost 2000 so…
(CUT TO A GRAPHIC THAT READS “FUNKY HUNK AUDITIONS”)
ANNOUNCER: Reuben, BQB, and Bernie spent the next three days auditioning every aspiring rapper they could find.
REUBEN: What did you say your name was again, sonny boy?
ASPIRING RAPPER: Curtis. Curtis Jackson, Sir.
BQB: You’re going to need a rap name.
CURTIS: Well, my friends call me 50-Cent.
BERNIE: No offense, but that’s the worst rapper name I’ve ever heard.
BQB: What about “MC Rappy Rap” or “Doctor Rhymey?”
REUBEN: Boys! We’ll talk about names later! Let’s hear what Curtis has to lay down. Go ahead Curtis!
ANNOUNCER: There in Reuben’s office, Curtis Jackson laid down the lyrics from the song that would one day make his career:
PARTY IN DA CLUB
Go, go, go, go, go, go
Go shorty, it’s your birthday
We gonna party like it’s your birthday
We gonna sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday
And you know we don’t give a f#$k it’s not your birthday
Party in the club, bottle full of bub…
(BQB and Bernie look at each other, dumbfounded expressions on their face)
BQB: Dude, seriously?
BERNIE: You’ve got a lady friend and you don’t care whether or not it’s her birthday?
CURTIS: We’re partyin’ like it’s her birthday.
BQB: But this woman is supposedly your friend and yet you clearly state “We do not give a f%$k it’s not your birthday.”
REUBEN: Now, hold on, boys. I think I see the picture here. The song is not so much about the woman’s birthday as it is an expression of the level at which Curtis and his friends are going to party. They’re going to party at a level which correlates to the amount of glee one would have if it were the birthday of a female friend.
BQB: I’m sorry. The song’s total crap. Sorry Curtis, I don’t think it’s going to work.
ANNOUNCER: Curtis Jackson aka “50-Cent” went on to dominate the rap game in the early 2000’s, “In Da Club” being blared over the loudspeakers of every sweat dance joint from LA to New York. Meanwhile, Read N. Plenty went on to become Bookshelf Q. Battler, the proprietor of a book blog with only 3.5 readers.
And Bernie? He sells oranges on the side of a freeway offramp.
BQB: I stand by our decision. Party in the club? Please. That song’s going to fizzle out any day now. By 2030 it will probably only get played on the radio like 20 times a day.
BERNIE: I don’t stand by our decision at all. I haven’t sold an orange in years! Come back to me, Curtis! I’ll sip all the Bacardi you want and I won’t give a f%$k about anyone’s birthday I swear!
TOMMORROW ON TRUE MUSIC STORIES: THE AUDITIONS FOR THE THIRD FUNKY HUNK CONTINUE!
THE YETI: Hello, insignificant 3.5 readers. Perhaps given the mild success of #ReplaceSongLyricWithYeti you may have developed the foolish notion that BQB and I have, how you say, “buried the hatchet.” LIES! Bookshelf Q. Battler is my mortal enemy and I will never relinquish control of his Headquarters!
Further, I will now embarrass him by sharing the transcript of a tape I found hidden in his closet.
Yes, the rumors are true. Bookshelf Q. Battler was once in a boy band.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome to another edition of True Music Stories. The year was 1999. The band? A duo of dudes who called themselves, “The Funky Hunks.” From their meteoric rise to their stupendous downfall, we’ll peel back the curtain and see it all.
BQB: What can I say? We were young with stars in our eyes and wanted to be famous.
ANNOUNCER: A year before the dawn of the new millennium, Bookshelf Q. Battler and his long time friend, Bernie Plotznik took the stage of the Greater Randomtown Learning Center Annex and made their debut performance.
CUT TO: Shaky hand shot camcorder footage stamped March 1999. Bookshelf and Bernie on stage – three old people in the crowd watching. BQB wearing a backwards hat, shades, a golden clock on a chain around his neck. Bernie wears a track suit with a backwards Kangol hat.
BQB: Yo yo yo, I’m Read N. Plenty!
BERNIE: And I’m MC Plotz!
BQB AND BERNIE TOGETHER: AND WE ARE THE FUNKY HUNKS!
(An old woman raises her hand).
BQB: Um, we’re not really taking questions but ok, what is it?
OLD LADY: Is this Swan Lake? I thought this was my granddaughter’s dance recital.
BQB: That’s tomorrow night, lady.
ANNOUNCER (VOICEOVER): And with that, the Funky Hunks introduced themselves to the world with their first song, “Be Nice and Stuff” off their debut album, “Non-Threatening White Boys.”
BE NICE AND STUFF
By: The Funky Hunks
Yo. 1999. It’s singin’ time!
Let’s kick it!
Funky Hunks are on the scene,
Always polite and never mean!
Brush your teeth and say your prayers,
Ladies at dinner? Pull out their chairs!
Funky Hunks, don’t disrespect!
Or a stern rebuke, is what you can expect!
Carry an umbrella, in case there’s sleet!
Look both ways before crossin’ the street!
Funky hunks, we’re on a mission.
Tellin’ you to turn off the television.
Read a book.
Grab a friend, and a casserole you’ll cook!
Give that food to a homeless man!
Then sing a funky hunk jam!
‘Cuz you know deep down in your heart
Doin’ good is where to start!
Ugh…ugh…yeah….break it down…
(The Funky Hunks drop their mics, fold their arms, and desperately await the critics’ incoming reviews).
OLD LADY: Um, it was ok, I guess?
ANNOUNCER: On a whim, the dudes dubbed copies of their performance and sent them to every Hollywood producer listed in the phonebook. Um, kids, do you know what a phonebook is? Before the Internet got really popular and allowed everyone to know everything at any time, people had these big yellow books that had everybody’s phone numbers and addresses printed in them? I know. It sounds tedious.
REUBEN TORKILSEN, BIG TIME MUSIC AGENT: I get this horribly produced tape in the mail. Two of the flabbiest, pudgiest, dorkiest white kids I’ve ever seen. I mean, they look like they’ve never lifted a dumbbell in their lives and yet here they are calling themselves “The Funky Hunks.”
BQB: Yeah, we were pretty ripped back in the day.
REUBEN: And their rap – all about “helping people” and “doing good deeds” and so on. But then it dawns on me. These guys are being facetious! They’re a couple of youngsters poking fun at what “the Man” thinks they should be doing!
BQB: We were totally serious.
BERNIE: I would bake a casserole big enough to feed the entire world if I could.
ANNOUNCER: Reuben signed the boys instantly and flew them out to Hollywood…with two coach class tickets…the cost of which they were required to reimburse. As it turns out, Reuben was the cover boy of Sucky Hollywood Agents Magazine every month.
(Cut to grainy security camera footage of Reuben’s office)
REUBEN: Boys, so nice to meet you! Do you know the big celebrity I’m going to introduce you to?
BQB and BERNIE look excited.
REUBEN: No, seriously. Do you know any celebrities? Any celebrities at all? Because I hear that knowing a celebrity could help in this town.
ANNOUNCER: And so the Funky Hunks began their new life in Hollywood. First on their agenda? They needed a third hunk to turn their duo into a trio…
TOMMORROW ON TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORIES: THE FUNKY HUNKS HOLD AUDITIONS!
Kind of amazed that #ReplaceSongLyricWithYeti is taking off…keep it going, 3.5 readers!
ANNOUNCER: This Fall, there’s a new duo of law men in town:
BQB: Yeti! Where did you put the evidence from the Coopatelli Murder investigation?
YETI: Um, you mean I wasn’t supposed to eat it?
BQB: (Arms folded in a stern manner) Yeti!
(Cue canned laughtrack)
ANNOUNCER: You’ve heard of good cop, bad cop? Try bad cop, hairy cop!
BQB: Start squealing, stool pigeon, or we’ll run ya’ in downtown, see?
SUSPECT: I’ll talk! I’ll talk! :::Sneezes uncontrollably::: Just get that big white dog man away from me! He’s shedding like crazy and I feel like every breathe I take I’m consuming 5 pounds of hair!
YETI: 10 pounds, but who’s counting, comrade?
ANNOUNCER: They threw out the rule book a long time ago. These two play by their own set of rules.
CAPTAIN: (pounds fist on desk) – Damn it, BQB and the Yeti! Ever since that stunt you two…
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An interesting perspective from an author who went from traditional to self publishing…