Mr. Stick Goes To University

So, our very own Mr. Stick has accepted a teaching gig. Once a week, he trucks down from his mountain retreat to mold the young minds of the flailing music students at William Jessup University. Apparently, they’re so desperate for teachers that they overlooked his obvious character flaws and total lack of competence, and let him loose on the topic of “Audio Recording.” Pfffft. Like Stick has any experience to bring to that class. He’ll probably just lecture straight from the book, with no practical application at all. Probably.

So, anyway, congratulations Stick. I believe classes start this week. I thought we could use this post to give the new professor some really, really bad advice to get him started off right! I’ll start:

Most students mistake weird for smart. If you can’t inspire through overwhelming mastery of the subject, inspire through eccentricity. The end result is the same. Mostly.

Best of luck, Stick. Advise on, my fearless roadsters.

85 thoughts on “Mr. Stick Goes To University

  1. aly hawkins

    Congratulations, Stick! Advice: What you’ve heard about boys being WAY better than girls when it comes to technology is totally true. If you have girls in your class, it’s best to be up front about your low expectations and belittle them in front of their classmates.

  2. michael lee Post author

    I like Aly’s advice. You might even go so far as to publish two different syllabi, one on pink paper for the girls that outlines your lowered expectations.

  3. june

    Advice: When you don’t feel like getting out of bed/into the car, have your wife substitute teach for you. She’s been around that audio recording technologically stuff for a long time so she’s as good as it as you are.

  4. harmonicminer

    Stick, we haven’t met in person, though I believe we may have slung mud at one another from time to time (I generally throw purple, if you’re trying to remember), but here’s my advice:

    Think alternate universe Star Trek.

    Advancement by assassination.

    Start with Ruscica. Move into his job. (How do you think HE got it?) Then HIS boss. And so on.

    When you’re president and chairman of the board, you can rename the place.

    University of the Stick
    Stick University
    University of Higher Stickation
    The Stick Institute

    If you pull this off, can I have a job? I was thinking of opening an extension of the Stick Institute in, say, Caspar, Wyoming. I’d like to start by going on sabbatical.

  5. sharolyn

    Actually, I don’t have that much dirt. I guess I should say, it would be really fun to work for Tom. He is one of the most fun and funny people I know.

    This doesn’t have anything to do with you getting hired (and congratulations!), but since Mike’s template for the blog is what we would share at a BBQ…

    The most legendary story between us and the Ruscicas is that their dog playfully broke our dog’s leg. They came over for dinner one night when they just had one small, cute baby. And a dog. Did I mention we had one, too?

    We were aiming to socialize Max. We were very protective of him – he was three months old – and we let the dogs play in our back yard. All of a sudden there was a horrible sound. I didn’t know dogs could scream. Jason scooped Max up and his hind leg was dangling from his body. The sound was so awful our neighbor poked his head over the fence to see if he could be of assistance. My heart was pounding.

    The food was fresh off the grill, but Jason, Tom and Max headed to the Emergency Vet. The poor guys came home four hours later, quite hungry. Max had a shaved leg that had broken two or three different ways – one that was way too high for a cast, and one that had spiraled. If your animal is going to get hurt, I recommend a Monday morning for this to happen, not a Friday night.

    The agony of the next week is unforgettable. (By the way, this dog was my miscarriage therapy. And, I learned, dogs don’t remedy miscarriages.) We had to decide to amputate, euthanize, or spend the big bucks. We spent the big bucks – you couldn’t have told us not to.

    Max was (is?) an Alpha Dog. After 20 obedience classes and (symbolically) 9 months, we decided to give him back to the breeder. It may have had something to do with the way we had to wait on him and nurse him back to health. It may not have. But hopefully he is running around in someone else’s yard, with some really expensive metal in his leg.

    That’s my best Tom Ruscica story.


    Stick, what are you teaching exactly?

  6. Stick

    Dog Obedience.

    No, it’s a basic Recording and Production class. I thinking I’ll do a little “this is how you plug a mic into your computer”, then a little “ride cymbal is of the devil, don’t let the drummer play it ever”, then a little “see that red button on the screen? click it with your mouse and you’re a Recording Engineer!”

  7. Stick

    The serious answer is that I’m not exactly sure yet.

    It’s a blank slate, and I don’t have a good feel for what sort of students I’ll be getting this first time around. I’ll do some basics of signal flow, room acoustics, mics, and general recording stuff. A good bit on actual music production… musical choices that a producer thinks about. And then basic ProTools software fluency.

  8. Chad

    …and the winner of most bizarre and wonderful thread of comments for the month of September is already decided.

  9. Brandy Ruscica

    I’m not all about throwing my husband (the boss man) under the bus…but, for the right price I can dish some dirt!

  10. Tom Ruscica

    Hey everybody, my turn:
    Stick – welcome aboard.
    It’s true, our dog remembers Max as “that dude that wouldn’t stop whining”. Our students are very excited about the class.

  11. june

    Something nice, something nice……hmmm……Stick is…um…he…uh…oh, I know!…he rarely snores!

    How’s that?!

  12. harmonicminer

    Should’ve added the #5. That really mellows it out. When one blue note is too much, just add another.

    It’s a yin/yang thing.

    Just remember, Stick, you have to stick it to Tom in order to move up in the hierarchy.

  13. harmonicminer

    He should ask Ruscica how to do it, and while Ruscica is trying to convince Stick that he remembers, Stick should stick it to him.

    “university of the stuck #9 with no #5″

    Hmmm… still needs work.

  14. harmonicminer

    Good man! Here’s how you can do this:

    Just play lots of #5s for an hour or so each day. Get Ruscica used to you playing them. Then, record yourself playing them, and play the recording in a room to which you’ve invited Ruscica to teach you how to play #9 and #5 at the same time. When he goes in to look for you, you can sneak up on him and throw him in the agonizer chamber, just to be merciful. Maybe he’ll just resign, and then you can have his job.

  15. Brandy Ruscica

    As I read this, Brandy is also reading over my shoulder, as she asks in a very sweet innocent voice…What’s a …”Number 5″?…-So cute…so sad.
    – Tom (logged in as Brandy)

  16. june

    It’s ok Brandy…I just said to Brian, “Yeah, I didn’t know what the heck you guys were talking about….number fives?!”

    And I only have two kids. I plead…… major/general ignorance. (No, those two things are not related. All of you just shut up!)

  17. june

    Phil honey, does your torso ever tire of carrying around that extra-large, overly-informed noggin’ of yours?

    Just askin’.

    Us art majors are pretty light on our feet.

  18. harmonicminer

    Don’t confuse being a former Trekkie with being informed. Did I ever tell you about the time I had dinner with William Shatner AND Leonard Nimoy? I won a raffle at a Star Trek convention. Nimoy is nice. Shatner isn’t… or wasn’t then.

    Some people look really funny in Klingon costumes.

    I don’t know impressionist art from apple sauce…. which it resembles, to my untutored eyes…. well, eye.

  19. Chad


    1st of all, welcome.

    2nd of all, around here, Mike always gives me endless grief when I comment on my wife’s laptop without remembering to change the login. Your comment here reveals his flagrant anti-male sexism against me.

    Thank you.

  20. Chad

    Whatever. Sharloyn’s up to 3, Tom’s at 1. We’re a scant 14 and 16 away from open mockery of both of them.

  21. harmonicminer

    He was talking to me and just doesn’t want to admit it.

    Come to think of it, I’d better start watching my back.

  22. michael lee Post author

    Phil, I already have your job. Remember that whole meeting with Duane?

    Your job is now to sit around in your enormous office, not teach classes, belittle the students, and start shouting matches at committee meetings. It’s the closest thing we have to tenure.

  23. harmonicminer

    I’ll be really good at that. Especially the shouting matches. Maybe Stick should make a similar offer to Tom, if Tom would like to survive the school year.

  24. Tom Ruscica

    Stick I wanted to let you know I’m writing this on my standard issue WJU iPhone. Don’t forget to pick yours up next time you’re at the school. Phil, you’ll have to apply like everyone else. (and I’m the search committee). Kind of sorry you gave that crappy grade in orchestration back in ’91 aren’t you? HA!

  25. harmonicminer

    My 1969 volkswagen bus had CVs… two of them. Pretty much the only joints I ever smoked.

    Tom: I’ll just wait a couple of months before I apply to the University of Stickle Studies… I’m sure the personnel of the search committee will have changed by then….

  26. Tom Ruscica

    Phil – If you only knew my life the last couple of months you would understand why your comments make me flinch, along with this wierd creepy eye flutter.

  27. Tom Ruscica

    Is the definition of pain watching your students struggle with one of your midterms, or is it worse to actually take the midterm yourself? I choose the former. Am I a bad person if I enjoy it…just a little?? Not that I do…Kind of…because I don’’t.

  28. Tom Ruscica

    True, but I think they were kind of freaked out when I rubbed my hands together and let a diabolical laugh escape my lips.

  29. Chad

    I directed a HS choir at our church for the past six years. (I’m on a bit of a sabbatical this year) One of the sponsors told me that one of the senior boys gave this big speech about how at least once on the weeklong tour, I would get enraged at them and dress them down, and that this was all a part of the Agape experience and they should just go with it, as it always made the choir better.

    I was :

    A – Touched that he understood that they needed a verbal beat down from time to time.


    B – Determined to prove the little punk wrong just to mess with them. I was all sugar and sweet last June. It really kept them off balance. I love messing with children.

  30. Stick

    So, I am supposed to have a lesson plan or something?

    I think I’ll have them show me how to use Reason.

    I gotta say, I am looking forward to having a quiz on ProTools key commands. [snicker] It’ll be just like back in the old days when I had to know what EVERY button and knob on the analog console did.

    Also, I’m thinking I’ll have them call me Brian, or Supreme Commander, perhaps grade dependent.

  31. june

    I’m thinking you should wear black eyeliner and black nail polish for the first day of class. Just for funsies.

  32. Tom Ruscica

    Ok, here’s the feedback straight from the students:

    TJ Guardino: “He was really cool, no matter what he was talking about, I just kept asking about how to mic my tub amp – and he didn’t even care…”

    Jeff Aulich: “No WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He’s the “Errrr” in the bud commercial!!!!!!! – I’m SERIoussssss…”

    Tyler De Young: “I was impressed. I guess he’s a real musician too.”

    Chris True: Huh?

    Roger Heu: ________________(insert cricket sound here.)

    By normal WJU standards this is a very positive review. Congratulations Stick – It’s great to have you on board.

  33. june

    Now, if only your wife wasn’t so offensive, insulting and degrading!

    (Nope, still haven’t let it go. I blame you, Mike.)

  34. june

    Everyone should know, the Stick still has no voice tonight. (He went completely hoarse after talking/teaching for three hours.)

    hee hee hee!

    I mean…oh man, I’m so sorry babe!

  35. Stick

    Yeah, it was pretty fun. Until my voice gave out. I really do sound like a frog today. I don’t know how you full time teachers do it. 3 hours is a long time to talk. Can you say, “lab time!”

    The guys are pretty cool. Tom’s characterizations are pretty right on. In the first class I was able to inform them that analog recording is dumb and old, and that micing TJ’s tube amp isn’t going to sound as good as going direct through Eleven. Even if he does put that cardioid patterened SM57 off-axis (see, they’re getting some good stuff here!).

    Not only that, but I’m not even going to show them where things are in the ProTools menus. KEY COMMANDS! The mix may sound lame, but at least they’re going to get there fast! HA HA!

    Just think, 6 more little Sticks running around the audio world! Mwah ha ha ha!

  36. Tom Ruscica

    Good evening everyone. For the first hour tonight you’ll be journaling.

    Students: “but this is Recording Class”

    Answer: “shut up and start writing. You just cost yourself 50 points. ”

    Student: “but Sti…Mr. Steckler…”

    Answer: “Get out TJ”

    = Fresh Voice

    = Fresh voice. Really, I use it all the time.

  37. june

    I never thought I’d see the day where a phrase such as “drowning in the sound of your own voice” was directed in any way towards my husband.

  38. michael lee

    Oh, you’ve never listened in on one of our 3 a.m. mocha-chip ice-cream and trash talk marathon phone calls. He just goes oooon and ooooon about what so and so was wearing, and about how he thinks Brad might ask him to prom, but he doesn’t know if he should say yes, because he really wants to go with Kevin, but should he hold out, because what if Kevin never asks, and then he has NOBODY to go with?

    Most of the time i just put the phone on mute and watch The Daily Show.

  39. harmonicminer

    Stick, just remember that the basic role of a professor is to aggrandize himself at the expense of his students, and you’ll be fine.

    If you start actually teaching, and creating competition for the rest of us, we’ll hunt you down without mercy.

  40. michael lee

    Remember, if your students master your content, they will take away your gigs. Gotta keep those youngsters in their place!

    Do you think any of them have found the blog yet? heh heh.

  41. harmonicminer

    Yeah, I’ve been noticing that for some time now….

    Maybe I’ll take up carpentry or something.

  42. Leonard

    If every once in a while you look off to the right and shout… “I like shiny things” people will add to your title Savant. For you sucky Angel Fans the first part of the joke would be idiot… WJU is five minutes from my house, congrats on the job. In teaching people it is essential that you make them believe you know how to hide the bodies of dissenters. This god-like fear you create in them keeps them from turning you into the authorities.

  43. michael lee Post author

    Also, at a place WJU, you’ve got a good two years of built-up fear and obedience from their church background, before they start to question authority and demand “reasons” for your “ideas”.

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