Interpretations:Thinking Machine

From This Might Be A Wiki

Which is which?[edit]

It's an exploration of which is the human, and which is the machine. Or are both human or both machine?--Pittsburghmuggle (talk) 21:39, 13 April 2015 (EDT)

I CONCUR. I think it's basically about the Turing Test. - Rev. Syung Myung Me (talk) 00:54, 14 April 2015 (EDT)
Prettttty sure Turing has a lot of relevance :3 The first makes an implicit reference to Turing machines themselves. Hella cool that they'd do a song about the Turing test! Link title

Finding the Sense in Nonsense[edit]

The meaning is simple: it's a criticism on our constant craving for sense in the chaotic world. In this song one man is hearing a string of completely nonsensical speech that shouldn't have any impact on him, yet he is obsessed with determining what it could possibly mean. When the meaning of something is obscure, be it in the arts or wherever, we as people will always seek a logical answer to it when in reality our interpretations are often completely unrelated to the originator's meaning or there simply is no real truth behind it at all. It is simply human nature to try to make sense out of the nonsensical. - CptNerditude 19:00, 14 April 2015

On a related note, what with the Johns always mentioning people looking too deeply into songs of Theirs that have no meaning beyond face value, I can't help but think it's almost a subtle jab Flans spouts gibberish, which as stated, shouldn't have any impact on Linnell, but Linnell pushes himself to find a meaning in it. Additionally, it might touch on the Johns' practice of simply picking words that fit syllables or melody, as all of Flans's lines have seven syllables.
I agree completely, though I never saw the jab as subtle. It's about over-interpretation of art, more specifically They Might Be Giants songs. The sheer length of this interpretations page proves their point. Time to go home, folks.
Ha! If you think this page is long, check out the ones for "Ana Ng" or "Don't Let's Start"! Those'll really get your blood boiling. :-) --MisterMe (talk) 12:25, 29 November 2017 (EST)

Google as the Thinking Machine[edit]

Through history, the concept of a machine or device that could solve problems quickly has always been appealing. Nowadays, all you have to do is log on to the Internet and go to many people's preferred "thinking machine", Google. Out of curiosity, I decided to see what the Great Googly Moogly has to say about the random lyrics in this song. Following is the most interesting non-TMBG-related link within the top few results from the search.

  • Tape has brightening arm connect [1] - Porom foam tape
  • Self-paint lever itching does [2] - "Why do we even have that lever?" (Emperor's New Groove animated gif)
  • Shaving copter anymore [3] - The Midlife Crisis of Commander Invincible (novel)
  • Weld crat tonsil speep enact [4] - "Toilet-Training Norms Predicting Physical Activity" (article)
  • Uncle fourteen marching flame [5] - "The Official Jewish Songbook"
  • Sleep expensive cloud enjoy [6] - "Paying a king's ransom to sleep like a king on Kingsdown's" (product review)
  • Gurb long trom flom dim fim lim [7] - Full text of "Dialect notes"
  • Dog dog dog dog dog dog dog [8] - (this is pretty funny)
  • Cash fog Ansel Adams mouth [9] - The Visibles (novel that mentions Ansel Adams)
  • Green grape gravy grateful grab [10] - The Kingfisher Children's Illustrated Dictionary and Thesaurus
  • Skele­tele­tele­ton [11] - No unique results!! TMBG broke Google with this lyric!
  • The word for word is word [12] - Synonyms for "word" at

Wasn't that fun? --MisterMe (talk) 09:07, 15 April 2015 (EDT)

"Dog dog dog dog dog dog dog" reminds me of that freaky Google DeepDream thing that hallucinates dog heads all over your JPEGs. -- 21:41, 6 September 2015 (EDT)
Actually, “Skeleteleteleton”is a Twitch user.
-When Cheese Met Chalk

Maybe There Is Meaning[edit]

I essentially agree that the idea behind the song is about the Turing Test as it was also my first impression, but as I look at the lyrics I think it might be slightly deeper than that. I feel like maybe these are actual things they plugged into an actual program taking the turing test to see what sort of responses they would get. So Flansy is singing the actual human and Linnell would be singing the part of the machine response. However I think they are designed to convey certain ideas which real humans might pick up on but a computer would not. I'm gonig to try to interpret all the input as the ideas that come across to me:

  • Tape has brightening arm connect - I'm typing this on my phone (my hand is gripping the shiny thing)
  • Self-paint lever itching does - I'm all sweaty and my clothes are sticking to me. (sweaty clothes itch and are tools for self expression)
  • Shaving copter anymore - I've stopped shaving (copter = blades = razor and anymore means not doing)
  • Weld crat tonsil speep enact - I need to go to bed, going to brush my teeth (speep and crat are typos which are common with real humans especially in the condition described by the next verses, weld craft tonsil would mean need to do the work on my mouth, sleep enact = so I can go to bed)
  • Uncle fourteen marching flame - My mind keeps thinking of the Mexican-American war (Where president Franklin Pierce, or the 14th Uncle Sam, was a general. Tangential and circular thoughts about stuff like this also fit the condition about to be described)
  • Sleep expensive cloud enjoy - I'm depressed and sleep deprived
  • Gurb long trom flom dim fim lim - Gurb long trom flom dim fim lim (Is gibberish but typing gibberish is also another sign of sleep deprivation/intoxication)
  • Dog dog dog dog dog dog dog - Trying to think happy thoughts. Going to look at puppy pictures to try to distract myself
  • Cash fog Ansel Adams mouth - My needing to work for a living is keeping me from doing other things like experiencing nature (cash is fogging what Ansel Adams produced which is nature photographs)
  • Green grape gravy grateful grab - Glad I have wine to drink (obviously)
  • Skele­tele­tele­ton - Feeling suicidal (huge side effect of sleep deprivation especially when combined with alcohol)
  • The word for word is word - Nono, I actually mean what I'm saying (this is the lyric that makes me think these things must actually mean something)

--Dysfunkt (talk) 100:06, 05 November 2016 (MST)

Maybe There Isn't Meaning[edit]

ok so this one i thought was clever because i saw two ways of reading it:

  • JF is a machine intelligence that JL is trying to train. JF spouts slightly discernable nonsense as JL attempts to communicate with it like a person for the sake of training, until a while has passed and clearly no progress has been made at which point he just shouts "whaaaaaat!" in frustration
  • JL is a machine intelligence that JF is trying to break (bugtest). JF intentionally types nonsense, and JL mostly manages to realistically act like a confused human being yelled nonsense at, up until JF finds a particular phrase that's confusing in just the right way such that JL breaks down and is only able to repeat "what?" over and over.

--Ncrecc (talk) 22:04, 20 June 2022 (EDT)

Okay, what if it's both? Maybe this is an experiment in which two people are told that the other is a machine intelligence. JL is told that the machine intelligence in buggy and spouting nonsense, so he needs to bugtest it. Meanwhile, JF is told to try and break the machine intelligence by inputting word salad. Neither is aware that they are talking to a real person
ButterBee (talk) 13:54, 13 July 2022 (EDT)


I like to think the “thinking machine” is an online translator being used to find out what someone is saying in another language. The things that John F says sound super random and weird, but this could represent ‘false friends’ (words in a different language that sound like a word you know, but really mean something else) from the perspective of John L. The “what does it mean?” part shows that they’re going to try to figure out what the other is trying to say; they’re putting it a “thinking machine” (a computer/translator). “The word for word is word” line could represent the translation finally happening, like in Google translate where it shows the arrows between the other language and the one you know. Understanding and learning something new is a theme I think can be applied to this song! Bass00n goon (talk) 01:11, 11 September 2022 (EDT)

Computer Science[edit]

(this one's short and sweet) This is going with the theme of the Johns being scientists. In my mind, JF is a computer/robot/AI and JL is a confused computer programmer who has no clue what JF is doing/saying. Mrs.Xcitement (talk) 11:15, 27 February 2023 (EST)