Monday, July 30, 2007


That's the name of the film. Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns.

Yes, it's the They Might Be Giants documentary.

I find it enjoyable, although since I'm blogging while watching it suggests I'm not totally engrossed. But, the point I wanted to make is that all the celebrity talking heads -- Frank Black, Sarah Vowell, Ira Glass, Dave Eggers, Andy Richter, etc. -- are, frankly, not that famous. I mean, if you know who those people are, you already know who They Might Be Giants are. It's a weird sort of C-list cult celebrity log rolling circle.

Oh, and Syd Straw is the weirdest.

And, I'm sorry, but thank goodness I haven't seen the This American Life tv show -- it's very disturbing to see Ira Glass talk and, especially, laugh. Sorry, Ira.


slushy said...

oh my god. that sounds about as annoying as living in brooklyn sometimes can be. it's all so incestuous and self-congratulatory. and you know what? i was a big tmbg fan about 20 years ago. but they do nothing new. then i took my nephews to a kids rock show they did some yrs ago in support of a kids record they released and i realized their music is really for the kids. plus one time in an indian restaurant where we were, friends and i for my birthday, we saw one of the johns from tmbg (the taller one) and asked him to sing happy birthday to me and refused. which i thought was sort of like spitting at your fan base. and now i write this note. but i do it with a heavy heart.

Baldwin said...

I'd seen "Gigantic" back when it was first released. The hipster social circle was more relevant back then, so that wasn't as annoying. I remember the constant exclamations that "these guys are GENIUSES" got to me after the third or fourth iteration.

After listening to it end-to-end approximately 10,000 times in the car, I have to say that the kids' albums are the best work TMBG has done in the last 10 years. We've given copies of "ABC's" to many friends with sub-6 year olds and they all love it, adults and kids alike. It's been a little frustrating that every time they've played in our area the last few tours have been 21+ shows (and tellingly, the crowd is mostly 35+).

Comment #2: This American Life on TV is actually pretty good. Thanks primarily to the director and cinematographer they hired, who kept it from becoming "radio with pictures". The style is Errol Morris-like. And, Episode 4 opens with an awesome Chris Ware animated short.

We went to the live LA performance of "What I Learned From TV" and Ira showed some awesome clips of rough cuts that Chris Wilcha, the director, had made to prove to Ira that "if we did it that way, it would suck." There was a really funny one featuring Ira doing the "20/20 brow-furrowed- knowing-nod" reaction shot that never made it to a final cut.

It's got the same soul as Radio TAL, but it grew up distinctly different. And the stories (except one) are all new, not duplicated from the radio stories, so for that reason alone, it's worth watching. I was sorry they only produced six episodes.

You can download the episodes from iTunes now, or see clips on the website. Or, email me w/your address(es) and I'd be happy to burn you a DVD of the episodes still sitting on our Tivo. But if you like it, you should download from iTunes, so they get their $.10 of revenue, as well as the credit for more paying audience.

sandy said...

baldwin always seems to get his comments to you before i do, so i won't bother repeating all the widsom he just shared. but what i'd like to add is that i actually still love TMBG -- probably as much as i did years ago when i first started listening to them in NYC courtesy of my friend gretchen. I actually own the "gigantic" DVD, and when baldwin and i were planning our wedding i wanted very much to have them be our band. he said he'd consider trying to get them if that was the only task he'd have to do. (needless to say, we hired joel the dj.) but what i need to stress is you really should watch TAL on tv - we were aprehenisve at first as well, for all the reasons you listed and more. but it was wonderful. we signed up for showtime just because of it. and i am sad it's over.

jc said...

Didn't mean to leave the impression that I hate TMBG -- I quite enjoy their music, and like the kiddie cds, too. I just thought the film was a little overbearing. The worst part, which I don't think I mentioned, was that it kept flashing portentous titles of the dates of their various doings: Conan O'Brian show: September 9, 2001. Tower Records in store appearance: September 10, 2001. They kept playing their cover (a song I love) of a tune about living in New York City and then....


No mention of 9/11, the movie just ends. What was the point of that?