Note: This post is an example of the world’s most egregious case of burying the lead, but it couldn’t be helped. Skip to the third and fourth paragraphs to bypass the wanking for some actual pertinent information.
When I was a sophomore in college, I applied for my school’s only selective major, public policy, and didn’t get in. The reasons were fairly straightforward—I was a B+-ish student in a school full of wiz-kids, and I hadn’t put in the effort to get to know any professors well enough to get a standout recommendation letter. I believe I asked my Spanish teacher, and she only drew the short straw because it was one of my better subjects and I’d had her for two semesters, which meant I was reasonably certain she knew my name. There was absolutely nothing about my application worthy of rising above the mid-point in the stack of hundreds. I knew the rejection was completely just, even if my disappointment was fierce (and even that wouldn’t have been as bad if, on the same day, I hadn’t also lost out on the solo to Depeche Mode’s “Somebody” in my a cappella group–just call me endlessly ambitious). Anyway, between the audition and the arrival of the decision letters, I went around yapping to anyone who would listen that that day would be either the best day of my year, the worst day, or somewhere in between. I had a real flair for nuance. And priorities.
At the same time, I had a friend who also applied to the public policy major, only I didn’t know this. He told everyone he was majoring in religion or economics or something, and only after he was accepted did he admit that he’d applied. This was mystifying to me. It never would have occurred to me to hide my hopes and dreams in order to protect myself from the potential of public failure. I needed moral support during the wait, and I sure as hell would need it if I failed, and if people were going to point and laugh and think less of me then what the hell was that about. Or maybe (probably), in addition to genuinely wanting the prize, I also wanted the attention of being in a contest, even if it meant losing.
The point is, I’ve always been a gambler with my pride, for reasons that are a mixture of ego, insecurity, and flat-out life’s-too-short-ness. So with that in mind, I figure there’s no reason not to tell you that on New Years Eve I submitted a proposal to Continuum’s 33 1/3 series on seminal albums to write a book about They Might Be Giants’ 1990 major label debut, “Flood”. If you know me at all, you probably know that I’ve written about the band multiple times, interviewed both Johns, quote them regularly, blah blah blah. While the band isn’t for everyone, I’m one of the millions of nerdy kids who found something special in their free-association brand of rock, and now they’ve expanded to yet another generation with their children’s music empire. I have some fun ideas to tell the story of the album in both words and pictures, and while the odds are way long (there are 597 proposals this time around for maybe 20 books—that’s about a 3% chance), I’m not too proud to fantasize about getting the opportunity.
Another reason I’m sharing this is that the series editors are very open about the process, and have a blog where they provide regular updates about proposals and titles. Yesterday editor David Barker published a list of all 597 proposals, and invites comments. I’m not campaigning—no amount of “We want Flood!!” is going to make my proposal any better. But I do encourage you to head over there and take a look at the list, which I think you will find intriguing, amazing and appalling at turns (but even the appalling bits could make flat-out amazing books). Put in your two cents about which books you’d like to read (and order a couple of the already published titles, some written by or pending from some incredibly talented friends), and if one of them genuinely happens to be “Flood,” then wonderful. You’ll notice there are three (possibly only two, confirmation pending) proposals for the album, so whether mine is the best, middling or dead worst I have no way of knowing. But it’s a wonderful series, and at the very least I hope I’ve introduced you to a new source of birthday presents for music-loving loved ones.