Flashback Friday: “Flood” by They Might Be Giants

they might be giants flood albumLast week, Rosie and I roadtripped down to California. As is a necessity with any long car ride, you have to have a great roadtrip playlist. Since I updated my iPhone to iOS7, the shuffle function is wonky when I connect it to my car’s stereo system. Songs were playing by artist in clusters, and “Particle Man” came on. And “Whistling in the Dark.” And “Minimum Wage.” And “Istanbul – Not Constantinople.”

Even though I got my tonsils removed two weeks prior, it is practically impossible for me to listen to TMBG without singing along. So on this trip, I croaked a little and mostly danced on my seat. I looked across the car to my 13 year old daughter, who knew every word to the songs. She reminded me so much of myself at her age when I started listening to TMBG.

My first introduction to They Might Be Giants was in the fall of 1992. I was in a church production of “Hello Dolly” with my mom. Most of the rehearsals, my mom and I rode together. But when it was just the teens rehearsing, I usually got a ride with my neighbor Danny. I thought Danny was soooo cool. He was cute and mysterious and wore Converse All-Stars and t-shirts for bands I’d never heard of. My favorite part of these car rides was listening to these bands that I never heard of, or never played on the top 40 radio station.

One night we were coming home from rehearsal, and he turned on TMBG’s “Apollo 18” album. From the moment that “the statue got me high,” I was immediately in love. I wanted to listen to the whole album that night, and he let me borrow it. I asked Danny which other albums the band had released, and he said “You have to get Flood.” So I walked to Fred Meyer the next day and bought both albums.

They Might Be Giants 1990It’s crazy to think that it was over twenty years ago from that experience, because TMBG had already been around for a decade. John Flansburgh and John Linnell formed TMBG in 1982. Flansburgh (guitar, black plastic glasses) and Linnell (accordion, keyboards) met as teenagers in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and began writing songs together in high school. They attended different colleges, then later moved into the same apartment building in Brooklyn after college.

The first time that they performed, they went by the name El Grupo De Rock and Roll, and most of the audience members spoke Spanish. They quickly ditched that band name, and switched to a name  based on a passage of the book Don Quixote. Quixote thinks that the windmills look like evil giants. A friend’s ventriloquism act went by the name for a while, and Flansburgh and Linnell adopted it when they were looking for a band name.

After a bike accident that kept John F from performing, and John L’s apartment was burgled, they took a hiatus from performing. They began recording their songs onto an answering machine, and advertised “Dial-a-Song” in the Village Voice newspaper. People called in to listen to their songs, and it eventually led to a record deal. Flood is TMBG’s third studio album, preceded by the self-titled album “They Might Be Giants” in 1986 and “Lincoln” in 1988. Although the mixing process was analog, Flood was the first TMBG album to be digitally recorded.

The track list for Flood is as follows:
they might be giants dial a song

  • Theme from Flood
  • Birdhouse in Your Soul
  • Lucky Ball and Chain
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
  • Dead
  • Your Racist Friend
  • Particle Man
  • Twisting
  • We Want a Rock
  • Someone Keeps Moving My Chair
  • Hearing Aid
  • Minimum Wage
  • Letterbox
  • Whistling in the Dark
  • Hot Cha
  • Women & Men
  • Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love
  • They Might Be Giants
  • Road Movie to Berlin

Flood debuted on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart the week of February 10, 1990, spent 22 weeks on the chart, and peaked at #75. In the UK, the album peaked at #14 and was on the charts for 12 weeks. Flood is TMBG’s most popular and best-selling album, yet when it was released, Rolling Stone only gave the album “2 out of 5 stars.” On the album’s 20th anniversary, Flansburgh and Linnell’s greatest album was again featured in Rolling Stone. It’s a pretty fun recap.

Istanbul they might be giants

“There’s only one thing that I know how to do well
And I’ve often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that’s be you
Be what you’re like
Be like yourself
And so I’m having a wonderful time
But I’d rather be whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark
Whistling in the dark”

When I moved to Utah in 1993, one of the first friends I made was Emily. We met in science class and started about the things we liked. While most if our music tastes didn’t mesh, we both loved and bonded over show tunes and TMBG. In fact, in 9th grade geography class, we did a combined project making up an imaginary land based completely upon They Might Be Giants. We were geeky, TMBG is geeky, and we didn’t care. A few years ago, Emily gave me a blue canary nightlight.

Although TMBG has released many albums since the early 90’s, none of them hold the same appeal for me as Flood. It’s juvenile enough to be appealing for kids, but clever and catchy for adults to love.

What is your favorite TMBG song? Do you have memories you love of listening to Flood? Can you listen to “Minimum Wage” without pretending to crack a whip?

Flashback Friday: “Jump” by Kris Kross

totally krossed out kris krossThe Mac Daddy and the Daddy Mac.

Chris Kelly and Chris Smith were the ultimate trendsetters for the tween crowd in the early 90’s. Discovered in an Atlanta mall in 1990, the signed a recording deal with Ruffhouse Records and released their album “Totally Krossed Out” in 1992. “Jump” was their first, and biggest, hit song. The Mac Daddy and the Daddy Mac’s signature fashion statement was wearing their clothes backwards. How could you not want to try it yourself?

“Jump” was the fastest selling single in America since The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” in 1983. “Jump” jumped to #1 and stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for 8 weeks. Kris Kross’ immediate popularity earned them a spot as opening act for Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” tour.

How high? Real high
Cause I’m just so fly
A young loveable, hugable type of guy
And everything is to the back with a little slack
Cause inside out, it’s wiggida wiggida wiggida wack”

I was hooked on the song as soon as I heard it on Z100 in Portland. I listened intently to the radio so I could record the song onto a cassette tap and replay it like crazy. I loved the beat, I memorized the lyrics, and I loved that these boys were SO cool…and they were my same age! I wanted to be cool too…so I tried to wear my clothes backwards. I put on my stonewashed jeans and Portland Trailblazers button-down jersey on backwards…and it looked terrible. A girl with sprouting curves should NOT try to wear clothing backwards. As much as I wanted to follow a trend, I just couldn’t get the nerve to leave the house like that. But wow…I thought the boys at my school with backwards clothes were so stylin.

kris kross jump video

kris kross jump jumpIt’s a little bit strange to me…because I’ve been planning to publish this blog post all week. “Jump” has been on my list of songs to write about for Flashback Friday for a while. So when I heard the news on Friday that Chris Kelly had died, it felt like such an odd coincidence. “Jump” was a song that really takes me back to a fun time in my life, and I can’t say how many times I’ve listened to the song and jumped along.

So here’s to you, Chris Kelly. Thanks for the fun you gave my early teens with a thumping beat and fun rap to spout out with the song came on.

Ain’t nuthin’ sucker about Kris Kross we all that
So when they ask, “Do they rock?” say “Believe that!”

Spartan Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

During my Junior year at Murray High School, I was a part of the school’s television production crew, SpartanVision (aka SVTV). Each morning we had to be in Mr. Pond’s room at 6:30 am to prepare for the broadcast at the end of 1st period. We had rotating responsibilities each week: camera, editing, script writing, commercials, footage, and talent (aka host, on-camera personality, anchor) My favorite part was when I was on talent, being the bright and smiling face of MHS, before and after Channel 1.

While I was in HS, I was OBSESSED with the Beatles. It was the mid-90’s and The Beatles released their three-part Anthology. I knew all their songs, incorporated song lyrics within my normal daily conversation, watched “Help!” at least once a month, and learned many of their songs on piano and guitar. My nickname was the “Beatles Guru” and I always made sure to request a Beatles song at stomps and stake dances.

In the summer before my Junior year, the SVTV crew spent a week at the school getting acquainted with the production equipment. I had come up with an idea to make a Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club band intro, but to replace the heads of the people in the picture to students and teachers from MHS. I had talked to some other people on the crew about it, but nobody seemed very excited. This was in the very early days of Photoshop, which I had no idea how to make it happen electronically. I was, however, an major scrapbooker. I used my dad’s archaic copy machine, made numerous photo prints at Costco, copied, pasted, and tried to make a replica worth sharing.
It ended up being a big waste of time, and I eventually gave it up (despite my many hours of valiant effort.) My senior year, I decided to become involved in MHS’s handbell choir, which meant that I had to take early morning seminary. Early morning seminary meant no Spartanvision. I was really bummed, but c’est la vie.

During my senior year, a photo showed up on SVTV and my jaw dropped to the floor. A replica had been made of Sgt Peppers with MHS faces. I couldn’t believe my excitement…until I realized that I wasn’t included in the photo. Mathew, a SVTV member, had worked on this tirelessly, and did a pretty awesome job (especially for 1998 photo editing standards) But to be honest…I was really upset with him. Not only had I endured a variety of cruel teasing by Mathew and the rest of the SVTV guys, I was mad that he stole my idea. For 11 years, I’d harbored a grudge against Mathew. With all the teasing, I thought he’d specifically omitted me from the picture. When I uploaded a bunch of high school photos onto Facebook last month, I’d left a snarky comment about Mathew leaving me out. After a few emails, he did agree that the concept had originally been my idea, but he didn’t think I’d taken much interest in the project. I ate my words as he had no idea how much the project had meant to me. Mathew apologized and created a new version of SVTV Peppers, just for me. Can you find me?

Thanks, Mashew. You totally made my decade.

Bonus Photos: Abbey Road

Abbey Road: SVTV Style

2008 Year in Review

I will not lie. 2008 was probably the most difficult of my life, right up there with 2003 (when my ex-husband went psychotic and we got divorced). To save you from reading my 249 blog entries of 2008, I have prepared my longest blog post ever to truncate the insanity of the year. Here’s the rundown on what happened to me in 2008:

Jan 1, 6:00 am – Began driving cross-country to move to Canton, Michigan with my brother Jacob
Jan 4 – Moved in with the Pearce Family for two weeks awaiting our move-in date at our apartment
Jan 9 – While enrolled in 17 credits for school, began searching for full-time work
Jan 11 – Received a call that my father had been in a horrific car crash in Utah. He was taken in to a nine-hour surgery as I packed my bags and non-revved to SLC on the next available flight
Jan 12 – Appointed to by the family representative to make medical decisions for my dad
Jan 13 – Started his accident blog to keep family and friends notified (this link shows the extent of his injuries). Also told by Elder Dickson of the Quorum of the Seventy that the First Presidency of the Church was personally praying for his recovery.Word spread like wildfire and we had people all over the world praying for him.
Jan 14 – Called together a family counsel meeting with all family members, some extended family and our bishop to make a plan to run the family (groceries, paying bills, housework, etc)
Jan 16– Flew back to Detroit to prepare to move into my new apartment. Dad is trached and goes in for his third surgery. Still sedated and on life support
Jan 19 – Dad begins to breathe on his own without the ventilator, comes off much of the sedation. Rosie and I need a break, and go to California for 2 days to attend John and April’s wedding reception.
Jan 21 – Dad’s left leg is amputated just above the knee due to widespread necrosis. His right leg is injured, but not in as critical condition as the left.
Jan 22 – Flew back to SLC and tried to not get depressed with dad’s ICU psychosis
Jan 24 – Dad is transferred out of the ICU to the 11th floor with the amazing mountain view
Jan 25 – I wait in the surgery waiting room for his “full amputation surgery” where the stump was shortened, revised and closed with sutures
Jan 26 – My friend Kathryn, a concert violist from California, gave my dad a personal concert in the hospital, and then we went out for some non-hospital girl time at the Tavernacle and Melting Pot
Jan 27 – My dear prophet, Gordon B Hinckley, passes away from incidents of old age

Feb 2
– Michigan receives a huge dumping of snow and Rosie’s school is canceled. We travel into Ann Arbor for a day of frolicking and for two Fox Elipsus shows
Feb 3 – President Hinckley’s funeral, and a special fast is held for my dad’s recovery
Feb 4 – Thomas S. Monson is appointed the new president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and dad passes his swallow test and celebrates with a chocolate milkshake
Feb 5 – I celebrate my 28th birthday with lunch at Chili’s with Taylor and a homemade cake. As the greatest gift imaginable, my dad was transferred from the hospital to Aspen Ridge Transitional Rehab, which will become his home for the next 4 months. Also have a super-fun birthday with Taylor’s pilot friends and a few neighbors a few days later.
Feb 10 – Rosie and I go back to SLC for 5 days to spend with dad at Aspen Ridge. Dad gets to visit home for the first time since the accident. Taylor’s beloved car, The Silver Bullet (’97 Accord) bites the dust, and he replaces it with a green 2002 Civic
Feb 19 – I go to California for 4 days of ME time. Disneyland with Grant and Hollie, Disneyland with Clint, Liz time, and a lovely day with friends with Nathan McEuen in Ventura
Feb 22 – Dad has his 6th surgery, this time on his right knee. The damage is much worse than originally expected, and the long-term prognosis for the leg’s usefulness is realized.

March 3
– Have two awesome interviews at University of Michigan Medical Center, and we celebrate as a family with Turkey O’Toole’s at Bennigan’s
March 7 – I get offers for both jobs at U of M, and accept the postion in Thoracic Surgery
March 8 – Rosie and I take an impromptu weekend celebratory trip to Providence, Boston, and New Haven to see 3 more Fox Elipsus shows
March 13 – I ship off to Boston for 5 days of Irish fun with my Irish Princess friend Nicole, and we spend the next few days with Terawrizt, Lethal Dialect, The Bawston Strangla, and Shaymin. I come down with a nasty illness that will plague me for the next month
March 18 – Drop Cola off at the airport, and drive to Nantasket Beach to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, before returning to Boston for a few more hours of sightseeing and flight back to Detroit
March 20 – In an impulsive moment, I agree to head up the planning committee for my 10 Year High School Reunion
March 25 – Take one last trip to SLC before taking on the shackles of full-time employment. Nathan McEuen gives my dad a concert at Aspen Ridge
March 31 – I start my job at U of M, and New Kids on the Block officially announce their reunion tour

April 16
– Saw Ben Folds in concert at Adrian College with Mike and Erin
April 20 – Went to the ER for an grapefruit-sized ovarian cyst rupture. Diagnosed with PCOS.
April 25 – Assist Utah does an evaluation of my parents’ home in Murray, and decide that the renovations to the house are too extensive to warrant a renovation. They will need to find a new home.

May 5
– Began my parent-dentist relationship with Dr. Kam, who received thousands from me in the next 7 months. He did a great job, unlike my CA dentist
May 15 – Complete the most difficult school semester of my life, and have to take an incomplete on my first class ever. Flew to California for two days for Chris and Mary‘s wedding, a trip to the Huntington with Liz, and to celebrate Syttende Mai with Brett
May 23 – Take a two-day trip to Palmyra, NY and Niagara Falls, by way of Ontario, Canada. We stayed with Alan, my old HS boyfriend, in Rochester. He treated us to Dinosaur BBQ. Yum!

June
– My summertime slump. Thank you Prozac for fixing me.

July
– Attended Grandpa Dale Bullock’s funeral, dealt with a bad month of Taylor’s schedule, cut 7 inches off my hair, Lissy’s twins Sarah and Phoebe were born, spent a weekend in Northern KY with my old Ricks College roommate Stacey, and I went insane planning my HS reunion. Dad is done with Aspen Ridge My parents move out of their home of 15 year on Green Oaks Drive in Murray, and move into the Brigham Apartments in downtown SLC

Aug 2
– MHS X, the high school reunion, came off much better than all the nightmares that plagued me about it for weeks. I already knew everything going on with the people that attended because I read their blogs. I relinquish the responsibility back to the class officers for the next reunion
Aug 8 – Enjoyed the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I was a total Phelps Phan.
Mid-August – . Grandma Joyce in Portland decides to sell her house and move to SLC. My parents house goes on the market. I also reconnected with a bunch of my old Balmoral ladies through blogging
Aug 30 – My coworker Kay gives me the hook-up through a friend for tickets to the Utah – Michigan football game at the Big House. We wear red. Utah wins.
Aug 31 – Receive a random, smug message from Tim, the guy I dated right after my divorce, that temporarily sends me into an emotional tailspin. (History: I was madly in love with him, we were planning our wedding, and then he suddenly breaks up with me in a email. No contact for almost 5 years, then a message at 3 am after finding my blog) Actually, this is the year that EVERY man I ever dated got in touch with me through my blog or Facebook. Even Niko from Finland. Kinda creepy. Rosie and I drive to Lansing on a whim to meet up with Taylor for the night at his crew hotel.

Sept 2
– Rosie begins 2nd grade
Sept 13 – We spend Rosie’s birthday in SLC, and have a wonderful family turn out for her
baptism
Sept 21 – After months of deliberation, Taylor decides to take the CRJ-900 upgrade in Atlanta. He puts in his bid for January, he gets assigned for training in October.
Sept 22 – Taylor turns 29. One more year till 30!

Early October
– Begin revising resume and applying for jobs, and enjoy the most beautiful autumn that I’ve ever remembered
Oct 8 – Taylor and I celebrate our Four Year Anniversary We spend the weekend in Atlanta checking out neighborhoods and apartments, and prepare for Taylor’s move to ATL.
Oct 17 – Spend a family day in HELL, MICHIGAN and go to the Christmas Store in Frankenmuth
Oct 22 – Taylor leaves for Memphis and Montreal for 10 days of upgrade training. The pilot widow lifestyle resumes…
Oct 25 – Rosie and I attend the New Kids on the Block reunion concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Best concert of the year
Oct 31 – Rosie and I fly to LAX to spend a warm Halloween Holiday in Cali.

Nov 7
– Have a phone interview with Emory for a position type-cast for me. A few days later I go to Altanta to have an in-person interview. Best one I’ve ever had.
Mid-November – I give my notice at work for mid December, and everything goes downhill fast
Nov 21 – Have a Girls Night Out with Hillary and Erin to see Twilight
Nov 25 – Start a Twitter account. Post 211 tweets in the next 5 weeks.
Thanksgiving – Road trip to Atlanta. A feast at Golden Corral, and a late dinner at Waffle House

Dec 1
– Accidentally inhaled an industrial chemical at work, and am sent to the ER for breathing treatments. Two weeks of asthma follow.
Dec 5 – I receive the job offer from Emory. Also, I blog about other significant December 5ths in my life
Dec 12 – Last day of work at University of Misery. Begin packing for 16 day trip in carry-on bags
Dec 13-15 – Snowy visit in Portland with Grandma Joyce
Dec 16-21 – Visit with family in SLC. Another ER visit. Attended Grandma Mary Taylor’s funeral in Spanish Fork. Get upgraded to First Class while non-revving to LAX
Dec 22-28 – Visit with family and friends in Cali
Dec 29 – Pack up my apartment in Michigan
Dec 30-31 – Drive with a loaded car from Detroit to Atlanta, overnighting in Knoxville
Dec 31 – Ring in the new year with Taylor, Rosie, Hank, and Marissa in Atlanta

Breakfast with Thomas

Last Saturday, I met up with my cousin Thomas for breakfast in Orange County. He was the winner of my blog giveaway…which gave me a great opportunity to get “caught” up with him. He’s a few years younger than me, and I don’t know him as well as his older sisters Alaina and Jillian. When I lived in Oregon, he lived in Arizona. Then he moved to Oregon, and I moved to Utah. He recently graduated from BYU and moved to California with his wife this summer. His wife’s parents live in Michigan, but we missed them on their trip here a few months ago. So this breakfast was my chance to “catch” the infamous Thomas.

A funny story about Thomas: I was at the SLC Olympics Medals Plaza for the Barenaked Ladies concert in 2002. I went with my sister, and a guy caught my eye…smiled really big….and ran over and gave me a hug. He was obviously very excited to see me. He looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t place him. So I played along and chatted for a few minutes, racking my brain with recognition for who I was talking to. Then Mary said, “Aren’t my cousin from Oregon?” and it hit me! It was Thomas! I hadn’t seen him since a trip to Oregon in 1998. In those 4 years, he’d gotten so tall and good looking. I can’t remember if I told him at the time that I didn’t recognize him right off, but the memory makes me laugh.

Can you tell we’ve both got the Watson baby blues?