Category Archives: Advice

Cecilia R. Ziko

Dear We Are Scientists,
This is a two part letter.
Part 1: I’d like to make a request to be placed on your mailing list. I lose an unhealthy amount of sleep worrying that you’re playing a show I didn’t know about.
Part 2: I am a college student taking a science class. However, I don’t go to normal college, I go to art school. And this is not just any science class, it is Introduction to Science (yes, that’s its official title). Besides the fact that Science and I were formally introduced in the third grade (my teacher had a poster on the wall that read “Science is much more ‘funner’ than gym.”) I had a healthy, active relationship with Science throughout middle school and into the second semester of my junior year in high school. Therefore, I feel that an Introduction to Science, especially at this point in my life, is rather unnecessary. As a matter of fact, this Introduction to Science class is so similar to my past science class experiences, that I have intense flashbacks to middle school. I would love to drop this class, but for some unexplainable reason, I’m required to have six science credits upon graduation. My art school offers other science classes, but they are equally silly, and require more work.
Every class my professor (an old-ish, balding, smiley man who likes striped polo shirts, dons a fanny pack, and talks as if he has genuine concern for numbers not in proper scientific notation) gives us a break halfway through class. My question is: should I have moral qualms about not returning for the second half of class? If I live by your “safety, fun, and learning (in that order)” law, spending three hours a week being (re)introduced to science is a very realistic safety concern. Such extensive exposure to boredom could potentially lead to craziness. I can name at the very least eight things that are more fun than sitting in science class. (One of them being gym. Another is finding a cute boy to make out with in a closet or secret corner. This make-out urge is a direct result of the previously mentioned middle school flashbacks. Not because that’s what I did in middle school, but because looking back, that’s what I feel I should have been doing.) Which leaves learning. Still very important, yet when juxtaposed with craziness, appears slightly less significant. So, as scientists, do you think it’s ok for me to skip the second half of my class?
Fan of Scientists; not science,
Cecilia R. Ziko
p.s. My roommate and I received your EP after the Phantom Planet concert. Her name is Allison. She’s already on your mailing list. Now you can say that you have at least two fans living within any given ten foot radius of each other, and not be entirely lying.
Cecilia,
Regarding Part II: This is actually a fairly nuanced ethical challenge, Cecilia. We’ll try approaching it from several directions, directions chosen at random, with little thought to how useful they might be.
First, you observe that according to the law of “Safety, Fun, and Learning (In that order)”, you should go ahead and skip the second half of science class, your rationale being that science class makes you crazy, and craziness outranks learning as a determinant. Your logic is superficially compelling, but scrutiny reveals some substantial holes. In this sense your argument is like XXX, the summer blockbuster Vin Diesel picture–sweet on first sight, sugar sweet, but proving to be porous as fucking cheesecloth on a third or fourth or fifth or in our case sixth viewing. The error you’re making, Cecilia, is to confuse safety with sanity. Here the argument bifurcates, so we’ll head down fork one, but be aware that we’ll be coming back to pick up fork two. Fork One to the argument that safety isn’t the same as sanity: Crazy people are safe, basically. Sure, people hanging around crazy people aren’t necessarily safe, because who knows what a crazy person (“fucking nut”) might do, or when they’ll do it; the crazy person himself, though: he’s in little danger. Hard proof can be found when we look at the far end of the fucking nut spectrum: people who’ve been institutionalized. They are closely watched, constantly monitored, relieved of weapons, blades, and nooses, and basically just very carefully looked after to insure that their safety (!) is never compromised.
Now, Fork Two to the argument that safety isn’t the same as sanity: Turns out this isn’t really Fork Two, it’s more like the next stage of the argument that was developed in Fork One. So now that you see how craziness isn’t exclusive of safety, we’ve got to face the hard fact that what it is, what safety is, is a boon to learning. Let’s look at some of our generation�s most learned people: Kant, Ted Kaczynski, Ted Koppel, Russel Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, Winona Ryder. No one would deny that these are some erudite mothers; a similar number of people will tell you that any of these folks is within a Hulk’s-leap of sanity. But–and we’re quoting Michael’s best pickup line here�we don’t want to beat you over the head with numbers, Cecilia; we want you to feel the force of our logic. Look at Kant: he lived in a middle-sized university town his whole life and never once ventured more than 30 miles from his house. Clearly he was crazy as hell, and yet he was also quite learned, and himself a fountainhead of shit to read about and consider at length. And when we think about Kant, as we frequently do, do we imagine someone doing wild things that threatened his safety? Do we imagine him casually flicking a couple pineapple grenades up a couloir then snow-surfing the tumbling glacier for forty harrowing seconds of montage until the frozen wave under his Burton board swallows a half-platoon of enemy footsoldiers? Negative. We picture Vin Diesel doing that, if we’re culturally literate, and Vin Diesel is a man of sub average intelligence, not to mention stone-cold sanity. Kant we picture stuffily trudging along a cobble path toward class after a morning spent musing intelligently and wittily on the subject of categorical imperatives in his dark and woody study. Perhaps, as he trudges, we notice that he has strapped on a boustier under his well-worn jacket, or that he has shaved off his eyelashes. It’s possible some small detail is off, because yes, he’s crazy. The formula we’ve arrived at, though, is that safety is most directly threatened by stupidity (the Diesel premise), not insanity. Crazy people tend to be at very little risk, and, what’s more, they are often quite intelligent. Craziness, then, while not a risk to safety, can be a real boon to learning. All of which would tend to recommend that you not skip the second half of class. If, on the other hand, you were just being theatrical when you said that going to class could make you “crazy”, then you should skip the sucker. Never suffer boredom for boredom�s sake, Cecilia, not in a world featuring ski-ball.
There are a couple of other things we want to comment on. First, making out a lot in middle school isn�t all it’s cracked up to be. Take it from us, each of whom spent almost every minute of seventh and eighth grades on second base. Frankly, it was all pretty forgettable. Making out in middle school is like shopping for retirement plans at 25�at best ahead of schedule, at worst annoyingly precocious. WAS recommends that a person begin sexual experimentation at age 30, and then only with droids.
You also make the dubious implication that fanny packs are not totally in right now. What else, may we ask, should a middle-aged person who�s trying to dress respectably yet hiply use for toting his unmentionables around? His wallet and assorted unmentionables? We�re not being sarcastic; we�d like to know. Women have purses and large hats. Men�? The fanny pack is really the only option. And there�s nothing wrong with your teacher liking striped polo shirts, as long as he doesn�t wear them.
Regarding Part I: You�re now on our mailing list. Congratulations. You�ll have access to up-to-the-minute info about concerts and band functions, first dibs on everything from backstage passes to memorabilia, and you�ll receive special offers from our sponsors, Twizzlers and Michelob. And that�s not all. We�re prepared to send you, free for a 30-day trial period, a yacht. This is a good yacht, a very good yacht, with chrome rope attachment thingers and barnacles on the hull. We will email it to you as an attachment. Be in touch about whether you want to keep it. Note that the aztec carpeting wasn�t our choice and apparently is standard on this size boat for reasons of tradition. We also tried to get it without the boat-shaped bottom�we wanted to get you a flat bottom�but that too, we are told, is not optional. Similarly inflexible are these boat-manufacturers on the question of making the whole thing out of styrofoam, pink styrofoam. Boating is an area positively steeped in tradition, it turns out.
Try Michelob and Twizzlers if you haven’t already,
we are scientists

Cooter

Dear Scientists,

In conjunction to a long tradition of rock and rolls icons such as Jim Morrison, David Lee Roth, and many others, I have a favor to ask of Sunday’s show.

I’ll will be traveling from Washington D.C. to NYC Sunday night and it is impossible for me to arrive before 10pm. Plus I don’t know how much longer it will take me to get to Brownies. As a loyal Claremont supporter, I am asking if you boys could stall the show for a while? Perhaps arrive intoxicated, break a few things, spend extra time tuning, chat up the audience? If that doesn’t work and you’re forced to start, perhaps Keith could systematically break every one of his guitar strings until a solid delay was reached.

Yes, these ideas (and other far more clever time-honored, experience-honed rock and roll tricks) are selfish ploys to keep me from missing the whole of a We Are Scientists show. I would never ask We Are Scientists to compromise the music (everyone knows the rockability of it), but only punctuality.

Yours sincerely,
Cooter “Cootie” Cooterson

Cooter,

Oh, man – this puts us in a tight spot. Tighter than we like, really. Boy, do we ever want to stall the show for you. Things like setting the cuffs of our pants on fire and throwing ourselves through plate glass – these things we would gladly do for you. Unfortunately, they would do none of us any good at all. Brownies is smarter than we, and when we try to pull our patented brand of show-delaying antics, they just nod with derision and tap the face of their watches. I swear on a pack of Twizzlers that the last time we played there, Chris and i stepped out for a slice of pizza a half hour before our set time, and when we returned, Michael was already on the stage, his drum kit fully assembled, waiting for us with a sheepish grin on his face, the biological clock of our set already ticking away. So, sadly, our stalling at the show will do us no good. We can waste all the time that we want, but Brownies will not give in. They are made of tougher stuff.

If you’re not getting into NYC until 10:00, it looks like bad news for the lot of us. There are some options, though:
1) you can come see us at Luxx on the 24th (if you’re still in town, that is).
2) we can play an acoustic set in your home or in the home of your close friends and then we can have a pajama jammy jam with ice cream (ice cream and pajamas not provided by we are scientists).
3) you can go back to claremont and tell everyone that We Are Scientists screwed you in terms of the whole “refusing to push back the set time” thing, and everyone there can join you in an unprecedented display of
unison loathing.

i hope things work out for the best for all of us.

love,
we are scientists

Sleepless in the Suburbs

Dear We Are Scientists,

I’m looking for your advice on a problem I have right now. I’m currently on leave from Pomona College, and ever since I visited my friends there this spring, I’ve been more or less completely miserable at home and wishing to be in California, especially since many of my friends will be graduating this spring. This weekend, several of my
friends are having a big party and performing with their band. Additionally, you will be playing at Pomona this weekend. Unfortunately, since I live in Washington, DC and hadn’t known you were playing until yesterday, the only way I can fly to California would be to pay about $200 for a ticket. Now, technically, I have the money. However, I don’t have a job at the moment, so $200 is a lot to me. But I also really really really want to go to California. So I ask you, as scientists, what do I do? Do I fly to California and have lots of fun, or do I save my money, stay home, and wish I were somewhere else? In other words, how much do you think you’re worth?

Sincerely,
Sleepless in the Suburbs

Sleepless-

First of all, how the hell did you find $200 tickets to California on such short notice? We are paying over $250 each, and that’s with the stupid “buddy” fare. This makes us angry, so angry that we almost don’t want to help you, you who have so much that we desire (the cheap tickets, the cheap tickets!).

Second of all, you must never leave college voluntarily. We Are Scientists was kicked out (graduation), and we’ve spent all of our time since then trying to sneak back in. Michael was clever enough to trick his school into giving him a fifth year. When he began angling for a sixth year and submitted a prospectus that set his graduation date in 2008, they put him in a catapult and launched him off campus. So, no more taking leaves from school, you. By the fall, we want to hear that you’ve re-enrolled and are taking classes and living in a dorm and sniffing paint thinner almost all the time.

As far as the vacation goes, here’s a little secret: we are losing our shirts with this trip. When you consider air fare and rental cars and Chris’s diapers, there is no way that one show at the Motley and a couple of CDs sold will bring us anywhere close to breaking even. But, we’re going – because we have friends there, and because it’s California, and because when we’re on our deathbeds in the year 2343, we will never ever regret having spent that $300 measly dollars on something as splendid and life-affirming as a trip to California to visit friends (unless, of course, this trip sucks, in which case we’ll be kicking ourselves that we didn’t buy a shitload of Otter Pops with that cash).

So, damn, my vote is that you go to California. Perhaps that is terrible advice. Maybe in three weeks you’ll need to buy new teeth or something and you’ll come up $200 short, and the oral surgeon will put a lead pipe to your knees. I know many things, but I can’t see the future. I will say that should you not go, you will still be able to see WAS when we play DC on April 27th (we think!). Does that mean that you’re excused from our Motley show? No, young lady, it most certainly does not! But if you don’t go, please be sure to have fun at home. Surely, they sell paint thinner in DC.

Love,
we are scientists

PS. We are worth it all.

Reginald W. Lexington

Dear We Are Scientists,

While I recognize that your genius usually lies in the
fields of astronomy, biology, chemistry, and other
hard sciences, I am seeking celebrity opinions on a
conundrum. Hopefully you can shed some light on this
hypothetical predicament.

A few months ago, I woke up from a rather traumatic
dream with deep implications. I had fallen in love
with a very average-looking (in fact, possibly
unattractive) girl. Said girl was something of a
classical “Siren”, given her ability to woo me with
her gorgeous speaking voice. As I fell in love with
her voice, consummating the relationship was
impossible, since I was not in love with her when she
wasn’t talking. What to do? I panicked and didn’t do
anything, ruining the relationship.

How would a veritable rock star such as yourselves
have handled the situation? Note that holding hands
is still possible, but kissing is not.

By the way, when are you going to play in my basement
again?

Love,
Reginald W. Lexington

(note: name has been changed. we are not monsters here.)

Dear Mr. Lexington,

You are a silly little boy, but we love you. We love you like you are a pet. Like, a dog, or something. Or, like any animal that we would feed out of a bowl, and then let outside, so it could poop in the yard. Damn, we love you, you stupid thing.

First of all, as classically-trained rock stars, we would handle this sticky situation by romantically engaging this girl’s sister, and then all of her friends from the sorority. Then, we would commence to loving many random female strangers (though the choice of stranger would not appear to be totally “random,” as mere chance would dictate that the percentage of our lady-friends who are stunningly, just mind-blowingly gorgeous (we’re talking, like, model-grade, here) should be much, much lower than it actually is. Clearly, the sexual magnetism exuded by We Are Scientists defies statistics.).

Then, we might put the moves on our associates who happen to be big-time movie starlets.

Sadly, as “the common man,” you do not have this option. So, our advice to you is this: Do not kiss this girl! Girls carry disease germs in their mouths, just as you carry the latest issue of McSweeney’s in your knapsack. Do us all a favor and keep your mouth away from the girls.

Finally, I feel that it would behoove us to point out that the consummation of your relationship need not exclude vocalization on the part of your female friend. Quite the contrary. Chris encourages his dates (many of whom can be seen in various trade magazines and on full-sized posters featuring ferraris and cougars and baby oil) to speak aloud during trysts. Specifically, he requests that they speak in exotic tongues, discuss Beckett, and/or “call [him] Keith.”

Hope this helps.

Love,
we are scientists

p.s. – We are playing in your basement at this very moment. Go check.