The Perfect Gateway to Cosmic Bliss:
I dreamt I was God, burning CDs of They Might Be Giants songs every segue was perfect no disc space was wasted every mix had 32 tracks then I was visiting God Her apartment looked like mine pizza crusts spelled "TMBG" She had burned two mixes of They Might Be Giants songs the first mix started and God offered me sex we each came 32 times and as I fell from grace the Band knocked on the door They said, "You need some loving arms" but They were talking to God so I waited outside 32 nasal screams later the second mix finished and They had vanished from Her charred and smoking chair. God was trapped in the computer watching me place Her mixes in their cases I was in no hurry but I saw no reason to stay
Around here I'm known as "Flux Capture," but my driver's license reads, "DILLON, KEVIN DANIEL." The difference matters. "Flux Capture" is in your head, while "DILLON, KEVIN DANIEL" is in my wallet. If that's unclear, you should check out the song, XTC Vs. Adam Ant. The struggle it describes is right where you are.
The music of They Might Be Giants appeals on all levels if you're listening right. I suggest you start by looking for ironic tension between the music and the lyrics. For me, this is one of the band's most endearing qualities, but they will of course employ whatever literary devices further the songs. The instrumentation itself is often a factor, and as evidence I refer you to the "saw solo" in James K. Polk, the jackhammer rhythms of They'll Need a Crane, and the low-fidelity of I Can Hear You. If something in the lyrics seems odd to you, try looking for something called an "unreliable narrator." Almost every song is written from the point of view of a fictional character, and sometimes the particular neurosis associated with this character is the whole point of the song. If you do identify an Unreliable Narrator, pat yourself on the back. It means you're getting it.
IMPORTANT: By all means, don't let the question of what They intended--of what They "meant"--interfere with your enjoyment of the music. Although you'll be surprised at just how smart the music can be, the band has made every effort to allow for listener participation in the creation of meaning. In other words, if you hear something in the music which is meaningful to you, run with it. That's the whole point. The band is most definitely aware of this phenomenon and has intentionally structured the songs accordingly. How do I know? If you really want proof, contact me, and I'll hunt up a half-dozen direct quotes from published interviews. They do what they can to make the songs appealing on first exposure, but the heart of what they're about isn't to be found on first listen. It's what you hear during the 10th, 50th or 123rd exposure that matters. The aspect of the music which will forever change your life is that magical insight you get while walking to your car in the parking lot at Wal-Mart, or looking up from your cubicle at work. You may not be listening to the music or even be thinking about Them, but eventually some everyday event will suddenly strike you as a work of art, and then you'll understand why an otherwise intelligent middle-aged man is so obsessed with a band whose media appearances seems to have peaked in the first half of the last decade of the previous century.
BY THE WAY: For those people who find it impossible to like something unless they see an endless sea of strangers also liking it, the fan base has actually steadily increased year-over-year since They first appeared as performance artists in New York City's East Village. They are the most overall downloaded band from the Internet of all time. Think about what that means. As of this writing, They have been giving away music for over two decades, starting with Their avant-guard (at the time) Dial-a-Song service in the early 80's. Nobody knows how many fans are actually out there going to work, raising their kids and mowing their lawns on the weekends. Here's one eery example of just how unknowable the band's influence is: over the course of Their career, the average age of attendees at the live shows hasn't budged. It seems that the kids go to the shows while the adults go online, but no one really knows. If you don't see them much in the "popular" media, it's because media follows money, and the Johns aren't about money. They get plenty of press in literary circles. The Johns have specifically said they have no plans for world domination, because the whole "project" is about the music, not them personally. If it ever came down to it, they would stop doing shows if they saw their fans getting too excited. The Johns are infamously nice as people (also by the way, they are way nicer than I am, and probably a lot smarter, so if I come off arrogant, dumb, petty or overly direct, please don't let it reflect poorly on Them).
For more reasons to be a fan, visit Why We Love TMBG.
As for myself, I grew up on the West Coast of the U.S. and spent three years at the University of T'bingen near Stuttgart, Germany. Until 2004, I was the only fan of the band I knew, but with my purchase of a computer and a broadband subscription, all that has changed. This page has become an entry point to the world of TMBG for people whom I know, and vice versa, so don't be too shy about contacting me.
For an introduction to my thought, read the lyrics of Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head and then my Interpretation.
The poem at the top of this page is based on a true story. If you're not an established fan, parts will seem strange to you, because they allude to song lyrics. All the allusions will be found in the two playlists outlined below, the same playlists mentioned in the dream from the poem. If you think you might like to construct these mixes yourself, I would be glad to email you the formatted Word documents which align the playlist with the cover art, perfect for cropping with scissors and inserting into CD cases. These documents are comprised purely of material in the public domain. Unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted material is a crime which I in no way condone.
There's a game at the bottom of this page called "Touch the Puppet Head." You don't need to be a fan to play, but you do if you want to win.
The above photo of me was taken February 9, 2004 at my desk under a high-intensity lamp using a Logitech Pro 4000 WebCam. To me it symbolizes a man being disturbed in his grave, wondering whether he welcomes the visit. I believe this fellow will be trapped on the threshold between life and death forever, and if I'm right about a few things, he always has been. The title is from the song Dead, which is track number five on the album, Flood.
Click my name in the heading of this page to see a complete list of my wiki contributions.
If you're nice, and not too long-winded, I'd love to hear from you at email@example.com. If there's something you want to say to me, but don't feel comfortable sending me an email, please post it on the Messages page. If you decide to post a message, remember to un-check the "This is a minor edit" box and write "Message for Flux" in the "Summary" field. When it comes to All Things Wiki, we really need to be on the same page.
Playlists Straight from God
The two CD mixes below are from a poem I wrote, rendered at the top of this page. It's entitled, "I Dreamt I Was God, Burning CDs," and is based on a true story. The first mix, Boat of Car, is named for one of the tracks, a song from TMBG's first, eponymous album, sometimes referred to by fans as the Pink Album. The name of the second mix, Home of Bone, comes from a song on the first mix, Cowtown which was first released on their second album, Lincoln, but was reportedly performed by the band at their first public concert in 1982.
Besides coming straight from God, there are a few points of interest surrounding these mixes. The first mix has cover art (reproduced below) which is a publicity photo of the Boys driving a car through urban traffic. Note that Flansburgh, the clean-cut one in blue, has his gaze fixed firmly out the front window, while Linnell, ostensibly at the wheel, passively checks the rearview mirror. Publicity photos aren't cheap, so I guarantee you that's not an accident.
The cover art for the second mix is a photo with inverted colors of the Boys in the same car dressed as Grim Reapers, complete with scythes, driving through clouds. Now Flansburgh is actually giving directions, and Linnell is dutifully looking where Flansburgh is pointing. The listener must decide whether these photos imply that Flansburgh, who during the band's career has been more intimately involved with performance and publication logistics, is really the brains behind the operation, or whether Linnell, whose musical contributions to the band's repertoire are notoriously better known, is simply tossing Flansburgh a PR bone.
Although every They Might Be Giants song can be said to contain a certain amount of life-affirming irony, one notes immediately the nurturing, playful tone possessed by all the songs in the first mix, Boat of Car. Even the earth-shattering sadness touched upon in songs like They'll Need a Crane, already flipped optimistically by the music, is mitigated further by juxtaposition with songs like Mammal, which puts the pathos in even better perspective. Listening from track to track, one notices that the subjects examined and the emotions elicited seem compelled by logic more Divine than always apparent.
The number of tracks, 32 for each mix, will be meaningful to established fans as one referred to in an enigmatic early piece, 32 Footsteps, which appears exactly half-way through the second mix. As might be expected from Divine Playlists, the number of tracks, it turns out, is not arbitrarily limited. An examination of the storage allotment for standard audio CDs reveals less than 30 seconds of room to spare for each mix. It should be noted that 32 Footsteps was written and recorded before modern compact-disc technology was availiable, and that the inverted digits, 23, form a number which has had special significance to the band since their first public performance.
The second mix, Home of Bone, while still characteristically playful and ironic, is decidedly darker in tone and subject matter. The opening piece, Everything Right Is Wrong Again, is the first track from their first album, the aforementioned Pink Album. This song, together with Welcome To The Jungle and Dinner Bell (two surreal tracks from The Guitar EP and the Apollo 18 album, respectively), moves the listener into an edgier, more tempestous musical landscape than was experienced at the end of Boat of Car. Thus embarks the listener on a trip of increasing aesthetic, moral and philosophical constriction which continues until the listener is released by the final track, Road Movie to Berlin, which by pure coincidence is the closer for Flood, their best-selling album to date.
PLEASE NOTE: The two mixes are designed specifically to complement each other. Successive exposure to the tension of Home of Bone reveals unseen content in the deceptively upbeat Boat of Car, which in turn again provides a springboard for increased discovery. This process can continue indefinitely, or until the listener awakens, joining God in Her divine, blissful understanding of the Mystery. These two mixes, after all, comprise less than 20% of the band's official releases. There is always more to discover and enjoy. Always.
The importance of the lyrics as a roadmap through the wilderness--or a floorplan through the dungeon--cannot be overestimated here. To give a few examples: a lapse of attention during the dreamy poetry of Words Are Like will leave one floundering, confused, during the apparently violent Stomp Box and the pivitol 32 Footsteps. Similarly, the psychology of Where Your Eyes Don't Go and Turn Around is essential for meaningful navigation through the ontology described in The World's Address. These are just a few examples to get you started, but rest assured there is not a word or sound unintended in the songs, and that every transition or position in the mixes has been established for a reason. My personal favorite (as of this writing--it changes) is the visceral transition to Sensurround, which only makes sense if you've understood the moral bankruptcy implied in Reprehensible.
And so on.
TMBG Mix 1 by Flux Capture TMBG Mix 2 by Flux Capture "Boat of Car" "Home of Bone" 1 They Might Be Giants Everything Right Is Wrong Again 1 2 Birdhouse in Your Soul Welcome to the Jungle 2 3 Number Three Dinner Bell 3 4 Don't Let's Start Ana Ng 4 5 Particle Man Older 5 6 Istanbul (Not Constantinople) Cyclops Rock 6 7 Hovering Sombrero Man, It's So Loud in Here 7 8 PutYour Hand InsideThe Puppet Head Spider 8 9 James K. Polk Snail Shell 9 10 Which Describes How You're Feeling Wicked Little Critta 10 11 Hopeless Bleak Despair Robot Parade (Adult Version) 11 12 Twisting The Statue Got Me High 12 13 Bangs Exquisite Dead Guy 13 14 Another First Kiss I Can Hear You 14 15 They'll Need a Crane Words Are Like 15 16 Mammal Stomp Box 16 17 Meet James Ensor 32 Footsteps 17 18 She's an Angel Drink! 18 19 She's Actual Size(Severe Tire Damage) Lie Still, Little Bottle 19 20 Boat of Car Rest Awhile 20 21 Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes S-E-X-X-Y 21 22 I Should Be Allowed to Think Certain People I Could Name 22 23 We Want a Rock Rat Patrol 23 24 Purple Toupee Where Your Eyes Don't Go 24 25 Cowtown Turn Around 25 26 I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die The World's Address 26 27 New York City I Palindrome I 27 28 We've Got a World That Swings Till My Head Falls Off 28 29 The Guitar Dead 29 30 The End of the Tour Reprehensible 30 31 Mr. Me Sensurround 31 32 Kiss Me, Son of God Road Movie to Berlin 32
Initial response to <b>Playlists Straight From God</b> has been uneven. When shown the first mix, <b>Boat of Car</b>, one reviewer (who shall remain anonymous until further notice, out of courtesy) had this to say:
- "Mr. Capture, the awesomeness of the Boat of Car mix threatens to rattle my brain until it is little more than foamy pink pulp. I especially like the Istanbul/Hovering and Hopeless/Twisting transitions. I think perhaps the stringing together of so many major-key, up-tempo, Linnell-heavy tracks (#21-26 stand out) might intimidate the uninitiated in today's gosh-my-mind-was-wandering-I-must-have-ADD culture, but the responsibility to get the most out of each song is one that ultimately rests with the listener. This is a CD that should have the neophyte tapping every toe at their disposal.
- I would be quite interested in seeing that other, darker companion piece of which you speak. One of my favorite things about the sequencing on TMBG albums is the way the music swerves back and forth between moody and heraldic. I must ask: Does Home of Bone begin with either "Critic Intro" or "Kitten Intro," both of which seem tailor-made to kick off a TMBG mix, especially a creepy one? And where are the songs from No!? "Where Do They Make Balloons?" would have fit nicely somewhere on the first mix, I think. Just a thought.
- Anyway, like I said, brain-pulpingly awesome. Sex to "James K. Polk" sounds so pleasurable it should be illegal."
After receiving such positive feedback for <b>Boat of Car</b>, I felt comfortable in sharing the second mix, <b>Home of Bone, with the curious reviewer. Surprisingly, I haven't heard any word back, and I honestly suspect the poor fan had a meltdown. I swear to God Herself, and upon my integrity as a philosopher and an artist, that I am not making this up. I still have the email in my Inbox.
Flux: Thank you for your fandom of my fandom. I felt really honored reading your words. You know, I feel like we could be Wiki-type friends. --My Evil Twin's Twin
Flux: I am left whistling in the dark. This may not mean what I intend it to, so I shall explain: after reading your everything-thing, I feel lost, alone, empty, and ecstatic beyond belief. K, so maybe that wasn't so explanatory of what I meant, but if you are half the freak your words proclaim you to be, you should understand. Thank you for existing. And where's that game? I see a picture, but no game.
I looked up 1Corinthians 11:14 and just about died. Since I myself have quite long hair, it was hard for a moment to believe you were not somehow one of my friends playing a joke on me. I can so see some of them doing that. Also, I notice the guy in the picture has quite short hair, as do you (or perhaps I should say 'as you did'). --Personman
Mr. Capture: What the dilly, yo? I'm the reviewer mentioned above (and flattered that I should be quoted!), and I'm mystified. I remember our correspondence well; I was and still am not a little awed at the careful calibration of these custom CDs, and the devotion to and weighty consideration of the band behind them. I know I sent you a second review, this time of Home of Bone, some days after writing the missive that appears elsewhere on this page; I can only express bewilderment and apologies that it evidently never reached you. Shortly after that, though, I had the misfortune of being hospitalized for a couple of weeks (not because of anything you wrote! Don't worry!), and when I got home my e-mail was in a shambles, as you can imagine. I did my best to reestablish all the lines that had been cut, but some things, shamefully and inevitably, fell between the cracks, and I guess your lack of response escaped my notice. Then I come over to your Wiki page and I'm meant to have had a meltdown! Oh, no, Mr. Capture. Nothing of the sort. The fault is mine, and my computer's. But I'm here, still admiring your enthusiasm, your philosophia, your attention to all things Wiki and unmistakeable warmth toward fellow human beings. Flux Capture, though technology may obstruct and undermine one man's attempts at communication, know that I can hear you -- I can just barely hear you.
Hope springs eternal.
Around this Wiki I'm known as Octofish. Drop me a line if you can find it in yourself to forgive me.
Post-Postlogue: Ten Years After</b>
November 21, 2014. This is Flux Capture, a.k.a. DILLON, KEVIN DANIEL. I still exist, apparently here, but also now in Portland, Oregon, USA. Thanks for taking care of this, everybody. This page was a rare burst of rareness, and God, She knows I couldn't have maintained it myself. I'm not always that smart. Sometimes I'm smarter, ha, but less and less. You know how it goes.
I am alcohol-free now 5 years, 5 months, 14 days, according to the duration calculator at TimeAndDate dot com. I'd like to say the change fixed the world, but all it did was keep me alive, which remains a dubious bargain. I do, however, have advice to offer. For anyone who struggles with alcohol, rather than give up on life, please just stop drinking and try other fun drugs first. If that doesn't fix it, and you haven't done this already, add a healthy diet, regular sleep, daily exercise, and productive socialization. I haven't gone to such extremes myself yet, but I hear it's supposed to be good for you.
My personal email has long since changed. You may reach me now at firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: I learned HTML ten years ago to make this page, then promptly forgot. Somehow I've bolded everything now. Sorry.
19:55, 21 November 2014 (EST)