I've always adored They Might Be Giants. How could I not? Flood was released and my first hangover came shortly thereafter. Even god-awful retching to that CD didn't not dim the musical nightlight turned on inside the birdhouse in my soul. Flood was (and still remains) the source of many positive memories and is a consistent recidivist in my CD changer. But my devotion to TMBG has been placed on the backburner for me in recent years — until I saw this film: Gigantic: A Tale of Two John's. Hooray for SIFF!
They Might Be Giants has always been among my top five 5 favorite bands — even when I hadn't quite latched on the wave-making (among the hard-core fans that is) John Henry album. Nearly too smart for their own good, and honest to goodness nice guys to boot, they can make even that catchy Potsie song seem bland.
You know, the Happy Day's episode where Potsie was about to fail the Biology class and ended up getting an A on the final exam. And then the professor (who totally had it out for Potsie the whole semester) gave him an F because he thought that he must have cheated to get an A on the exam. So, the grand finale of the episode was when Potsie sang the song that he wrote to help him get through the exam and remember the human body's bone structure. Remember?
And it was this really catchy song and he was dancing all over the desks and stuff?
Ok, well anyway, any TMBG song puts that memorable moment in educational music to shame. As a card-carrying member of their fanclub, I kept getting these painful reminders that folks in the big NYC and Boston got the chance to see this "Gigantic" movie. Ugh, the pain. Then, when one of those emails was filled with good news (The movie was coming to Seattle for SIFF!), I marked the calendar and counted the days to the Washington premiere. It did not disappoint. Want to see if the film is coming to your town soon? You can at the official web site for the film. They have awesome movie posters for sale too, as well as trailer for the film!
Director AJ Schnack presents the story of TMBG by detailing the friendship of the band's two founders, John Linnell and John Flansburgh, a friendship that has spanned and endured for nearly thirty years. With the duality of the introspective and subdued, darkly hilarious Linnell, and the gregarious and extroverted, wildly animated Flansburgh, it's no wonder that this band has consistently produced such innovative wacky tunes over the years.
One interesting aspect to the band that the film points out is that their fan base never ages. There's something about their lyrics that's so quirky and genius that seems so hilarious when you're 14 years old. And yet conversely, the appeal endures.
As the film also points out, the band's original fans have grown up enough to assume positions of creative power on their own — and now are coming back to collaborate with the Giants for their own projects (including NPR This American Life's Ira Glass and Sarah Vowell, as well as Malcolm in the Middle director Todd Holland and author/editor David Eggers), leading to all sorts of fascinating side projects for the band.
At the film's conclusion, audience members were in for a special treat; director Schnack and Giant himself John Flansburgh were present for a question and answer session. One audience member questioned John about a scene in the film where a teenager girl is captured sobbing, having just met the two John's. In between her crocodile tears, she manages to blurt in her heavy Long Island accent, "I just… love them… (sob)… so much…" before being reduced to a fit of tears.
John appeared amused and incredibly flattered when asked about the outburst, and relayed another story: an encounter in a parking lot with who he swore was one of Ronnie James Dio's roadies. The most unlikely of TMBG fans approached John and stated, "Dude!! Dec 17, 1991! 120 Minutes! You guys changed my life!!!" Guess you just never know who you're influencing…
The magic of the Giants touches us all.
The Three Imaginary Girls wish it to be publicly known that, should the opportunity arise, we would be honored and delighted to join forces with the Giants in any project of any sort, at any time. And should we be lucky enough to have someone from the band read this review, let it be known that we will take any Giant out for a collosal coffee tour of Seattle while they are in town!
Oh yes — they are coming back to town! TMBG's latest release "NO!" is an album of children's songs, but John Flansburgh assured us that, "This album is for all of you too." TMBG will be gracing Seattle in July, with a show at the Paramount on the 20th, as well as an afternoon family performance at EMP's Sky Church on the 21st…
Imagine approximately this amount of time has passed. Then you will have an idea of how much sleep we got in-between the TMBG movie and the KEXP pledge drive. Yipes! Time for a topic change, and soon — for a nap!
Thank God for free coffee and Top Pot donuts.
As you all may or may not know, two of the three Imaginary Girls know each other as a direct result of volunteering together at KEXP. So every drive, we make a point of answering the phone lines during John in the Morning's show. It's like a reunion. Our awesome friend April even flew up from California just to volunteer. Now that's dedication, and for the nobelist of causes: supporting our awesome local public radio station!
But this time was an exception, for we had a reporter in our midst: the super-cool Melanie McFarland, who writes the weekly Pop Fizz column for the Seattle Times. Nothing like being documented by the press while under the influence of minimal sleep and maximum caffeination.
Somehow the article ended up being… well, all about us. It was flattering nearly to the point of being embarrassing! But we're thrilled to have been associated with such an amazing organization as KEXP. Intrigued? Go ahead and read all about it.
The rest of you — keep on reading…