August 13th, 2017


Saturday in the Park with John and John

Yesterday, Beth and I went to Central Park for a free They Might Be Giants concert. We've seen them quite often, but not much recently. I've never had the best luck at the park as far as finding things goes. I usually blame the curving paths, but Rumsey Playfield where the concert was being held was actually pretty much straight east from where we entered the park, and it still took us a while to find it. Why do you have to be so disorienting, Central Park? We got there by way of Strawberry Fields, a good place to go if you ever wanted to see, like, ten different people selling the same pictures of John Lennon. The show was geared toward kids, but I didn't see all that many children there. There were some, certainly, including the baby behind us who kept falling on the back of my feet; but not as many as I would have thought. Really, it surprised me that we got there not long after the gate opened and could still stand pretty close to the stage, as TMBG fans are notorious for showing up super-early. Anyway, the opener was Bill Childs, who I guess was a kids' DJ, playing various science-related songs. He referred to one of them as the happiest song you'd hear about climate change, but I still think that award can probably go to this:

TMBG did a pretty good mix of songs, many from their kids' albums, but some other stuff as well. The set included "Why Does the Sun Shine?" and "Mammal," which were both educational science songs they performed long before they did a science album for kids. John Linnell played keyboard most of the time as per usual, but he did pick up an accordion for "Particle Man," "The Famous Polka," and "Doctor Worm."

I kind of wonder why "Particle Man" is still a regular part of their show; I figure its initial popularity had to do with its being played on Tiny Toon Adventures, but I would think modern audiences are much less likely to have seen that. I think overexposure has kind of hurt that song. Oh, well. At least it's short. "Istanbul" was also on that same Tiny Toons episode, but it's been played enough other places are associated enough with them that I can understand why they still play it at pretty much every concert, even though I personally don't need it. Curt Ramm showed up to play trumpet on "Istanbul," "I Never Go to Work" (AKA "Seven Days of the Week"), and "Birdhouse in Your Soul."

Linnell included sticks in the list of items that were gases on the Sun, and claimed that the heat and light of the Sun came from the nuclear reactions between S'mores, "those cupcakes that are red," and dulce de leche ice cream. He later did a callback to these items in "I Am a Paleontologist." And for "Meet the Elements," the four elements that made up all living things were carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and arsenic. John Flansburgh came out at one point wearing a necklace lined with pom-poms or something, and then put it on the neck of his guitar.

Robin Goldwasser, Flansburgh's wife and a singer and performer in her own right, came on stage to sing "Electric Car" and "Oh You Did." She was wearing overalls and a floral crown, and Flans called her "Mountain Girl." Unfortunately, that automatically made Beth and me think of a character of that name in the Coen Brothers' "The Ladykillers" whose defining characteristic was that she had really bad irritable bowel syndrome. I doubt Flans was referring to that, though.

Robin seems really cool, the kind of person I could imagine hanging out with Beth and me if she weren't married to one of our favorite musicians. When we met her several years ago after a show, she liked Beth's Chococat purse and asked us if we had any cats. It is funny that there was such a positive song about electric cars in the set when Flans earlier made a joke about how Tesla had a two-year waiting list to go broke. Marty Beller played the bongo drums during that song.

On the way into the park, I noticed signs saying that the Alice in Wonderland statue was nearby, so I decided we should see that. Once again, I got confused trying to reach it, but that makes sense when you're dealing with Wonderland. I took some pictures of it, but you can't see it as well as I might have hoped as there were kids climbing on it.

Less populated was the nearby statue of Hans Christian Andersen.

Also nearby was Bethesda Terrace, which is famous in TMBG lore as the place where the "They'll Need a Crane" video was filmed.

Wow, it's crazy seeing how young they were back then.

There was an accordion player inside the tunnel where they had the instruments set up in the video, which I assume was totally unrelated to TMBG, but still appropriate.

All we really did after leaving the park was have dinner at Shake Shack and do some shopping at Target, but for some reason it was after 10 when we got back, and the concert had ended at 5. I suppose time is still marching on, occasionally faster than usual. It was fun, but I feel that my time for sitting around the house was greatly diminished. I've recently started working a temporary job that's mostly just entering stuff on the computer, the sort of work that probably best suits me. I'm apparently pretty fast at it, too, although that means frequently having to look for more work.