Jill "xtingu" Knapp

Traveling musician. Singer. Road warrior in bursts. Dork. Easy to spot. Gauche eyeshadow fan. Unreasonably happy.

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I like watching SNL via YouTube clip a day or two after the show.  I have been loving SNL super-hard since last year (along with the rest of the universe), but last night's Larry David /Miley Cyrus episode left me wanting. Weekend Update was great as usual, though.

I've never seen Curb Your Enthusiasm so I have no feelings either way about Larry David, but I felt like he didn't have much to work with this week.

I heard Miley Cyrus interviewed on Howard Stern and respected her-- she seems to have a good head on her shoulders and a healthy understanding about who she is and where her place is in the universe. I also think she has a powerful voice, and an accurate voice, too-- but the musician in me wishes her songs weren't so contrived and dumb, and I wish she didn't rely so heavily on "faux R-and-B melisma thinly veiled as passion and soul." Just fucking sing the song. (Then again, I wish someone would give her something better to sing... but then again, she is in her early 20s and maybe that's all she has to sing about right now.). 

Everyone's a critic, apparently.

My UPenn consulting gig is going well, though I really don't feel like they need me very much, though they use me a lot. I think they just use me as a sanity check/training wheels, but their own instincts are great and they don't really need my guidance. I'm happy to give them the extra assurance if it makes them feel better, though. 

Hot Breakfast is back in the studio and we've got two songs done; "Giants are Sleeping" which is a dream Matt had, and "Taking Care of Bobby" which is about someone who is taking care of a person ("Bobby") with a mental illness. Bobby was once a famous musician and now decades later he's become unwieldy and unstable and relies on the kindness of others until he wears out his welcome and is foisted on some other unsuspecting fan.  We're about to start recording our Meatloaf-esque epic song "Open Mic Night," which is an 8-minute monstrosity with skits and everything. I'm ridiculously excited about it.

I've been doing a lot of voiceover work lately. My latest project is that I'm the voice of New Mexico's health insurance exchanges (e.g., "don't forget to choose a healthcare plan under Obamacare" since open enrollment is HELLA SHORT this year and ends December 15th and the healthcare.gov website is closed Sundays I shit you not. (Fuck you, Trump.))   I'm also the voice of St. Francis Healthcare, which is a hospital in Wilmington.  It's fun to hear my voice in commercials when I'm listening to the radio in the shower. 

Yesterday Matt and I played in a memorial softball game for our friend Joel who died two years ago. Joel loved softball, so our friend Kevin Regan organized a game so we could do something fun on what would normally be a sad day. It was a gorgeous, crisp fall day, and we had fun.  I played catcher which means I did 73,000 squats, which means I can barely walk today.  But I did hit both righty and lefty which was fun.  Matt pitched really well, and also hit really well, too. A fine day out.

Allrighty, I'm gonna sign off-- got stuff to do.

11/5 '17 17 Comments
Can I ask how you got started doing the voiceover stuff? I have to confess to being a little curious about that myself. Not that I think I have a great voice or anything, but I'm thinking a LOT about side gigs right now, and pretty much any kind of creative work seems like it would be really good.
It really was just a case of being in the right place at the right time, and knowing the right people. I hate to say it, but it's true.

I got that Cream of Wheat voiceover in 7th grade because Nabisco's headquarters was in my town, and they wanted cheap labor, so they sent a guy to the middle school and asked the Broadcasting Club advisor (Mr. Ginsberg!) if he had any club members that had good voices, and Ginsberg recommended me. So I recorded the spot, not really knowing what I was doing, but I guess I came across like I wasn't a total idiot. But that was the first thing on the resume that made me appear "legit."

In high school and college I recorded music in studios with various bands, so I got really comfortable with hearing the sound of my own voice (granted, my singing voice), but I also got comfy with studio equipment, so I looked like I knew what I was doing and sounded like I knew what I was talking about.

Then I had my college radio show for 4 years and earned my FCC radio license and had to do newscasts and commercials for the station, so that also built up my resume. Moving to Arizona helped because it really neutralized my NJ accent.

Then I was working as the head of IT for a huge radiology group in Arizona when Bell was morphing to Lucent, and my company was shopping for a new phone system. So the Bell sales droid said that we could save money on our phone system by recording the phone prompts ourselves, so I said I'd do it. So I first recorded the voice prompts just for our own company's phone system, and when the guy heard that it sounded good, he suggested his bosses dial into our phone system to hear my voice because they were looking for the voice for Lucent's new phone systems to sell to people who didn't want to record their own voice prompts. I honestly think I got that gig because I was... there... and not totally incompetent. Saying I had an FCC Radio License gave me some kind of faux-credibility -- it sounded important to people who didn't know any better. (Fun fact: The year after I got my radio license the FCC decided you didn't need a license anymore to be on the radio... so my license means absolutely nothing. But it sure sounds important!)

Anyway, I got the recent voiceover gigs because we hired George Murphy from Planet Ten to do our CD design/layout of our first CD (39 Summers), and instead of paying him, he asked if I would just barter some free voiceover work... somehow he knew that I had done voiceovers before. And then going forward, whenever he needed a voice he called me... and those turned into paying gigs.

This is more information than you wanted, I'm sure... but the upshot is, I was in the right place at the right time, and I spoke up about what I could offer people. *shrug*
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 11/9 '17edited
Now I have “George Murphy” by Tom Lehrer in my head. Listen to it. It’s a great song, on “That Was The Year that Was.”
You crack me up. “I was just lucky“ and then proceed to list a long set of ways in which you created that ‘luck’.


Very cool though. I don’t think I knew about most of those gigs. I knew about the college radio, but I think that’s about it!
Matt Lichtenwalner 11/13 '17edited
When Weekend Update comes on, I chant "Che! Che! Che" and Houser says, "Johhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhst!"
Yeah, those guys have really nailed it. I really look forward to that segment, and I love how they react to each other.
H loves it when they crack each other up. I love the Michael Che eyeroll that ends up as laughter.

We ended up fast-forwarding Larry David's monologue. Holocaust jokes are in poor taste, but maybe salvageable if the comedian is Jewish ... maybe. But why, why waste the audience's time and emotional energy with Holocaust jokes that are not at all funny, not to the Jews and not to the goyim? UGH.
Shelle Klein Houser 11/5 '17edited
I didn't even get to watch the monologue yet... and now I won't. Thanks for saving me a click!
I've been pretty underwhelmed by SNL for a long time, but I'm with you both - Weekend Update is fantastic and pretty much always makes me lol.
Ooh I'd love to hear those ads! I just started copying all my old voiceover tapes to digital and would love to share (OMG my little baby voice back then!), but have no idea how to share them on FB or here...
Jenn A 11/6 '17
Holy crap - I wanna hear those too! Any chance we can convince you to share with the rest of the class?
I posted one on FB (same as the link above)... I'll put the others up this weekend. :)
Jenn A 11/9 '17
Excellent! I will be checking these out ASAP.
Soundcloud is your friend... or even just save 'em to Dropbox and share the public links. Nuthin' to it! I'd love to hear yours, too!
Didn't know I could use Dropbox, thanks!!! Just posted one to FB, here's the link because I know you're never on there. :) https://www.dropbox.com/s/0r5wwosn8x2b507/Jenn%20Del%20Val%20College%20spot.wav?dl=0
Jenn A 11/7 '17
DOOOOOD! I finally had a chance to listen to this! (I couldn't play it on my phone because crappy phone.) This is awesome!! Is the whole thing your voice-- even at the end with the phone numbers? It sounds like two totally different people! I can't tell either way... on one hand I think it's you, and then I listen again and I'm like "mmmmaybe it is?" Eeeeeeeeeeee!

If you want, I'd be happy to toss your name into the pool if/when my guy needs another female voice, because I absolutely can't do that awesome character you did there. You rocketh mightily!
I would love that!!!! Thanks! It's actually 2 different voices -- the one at the end is Lucy St. James, who was the ad production person at the time (I forget what station she's at now). She did most of the radio spots that the station recorded for clients... but if the client wanted a "character" (like in that one) she'd poke her head into my office and be like, "can I steal you for 15 minutes?" :)
Jenn A 11/9 '17

My friend Anthony Stramaglia (whom I wonder if Thomas Boutell and Jeremy Moskowitz know from the classic computing shows they've gone to?) attended this weekend's house concert, and was kind enough to tape all of the songs.  I am SO grateful to him for doing so, because in all of my prepping for the show, I totally forgot to set up something to record the happenings. Anthony is a life-saver and an all-around awesome guy-- he used to run a local BBS back in the day. (Epsilon Process in the hoouuuuussse!)

So this morning he sent out a link to the second Sunnyvale song of the evening; this one is called "The Enemy."  This song is an old Evelyn Situation song, and we retooled it for one voice, as opposed to the three voices that sang it back in the day.  We dropped the key a step because in the old days Danielle (top voice) sang the melody on the choruses, and now that I'm covering all the parts essentially, we had to drop the key so I could sing the choruses that lay a little higher, as well as the verses (which I always sang because they, like my balls, hung low).  (so classy.)

This song was always my favorite Evelyn Situation song. It was written from the perspective of a person who was left behind as their significant other decided she was leaving the "cold cold northeast."  (In case you're wondering: Yes, Jeremy knows the song was inspired by him, though he wasn't interviewed before the song was written or anything. Durk just sorta imagined that this is how someone in Jeremy's position might feel.)

Once again, I tried to be extra-dictionny with the words so you could catch them all.  In the event you can't, here's a link to the lyrics.  (Click "Lyrics" from the cutting-edge 1996 FRAMES web technology, and then choose "The Enemy."  (Huge apologies to Tom, whom I can hear cringing from over here! lulz))

If you want to hear what the song sounded like in its original Evelyn Situation format, click here.  Cue college-age Jill.  Good lord, how I loved that band like it was my only true, true love.  And daaamn, how I love how the voices end the song with Danielle resolving to the 7th of all places, because why the hell not.

God damn, I love music.

ps: I wrote this while getting my iron infusion today. It went well. I can already feel the difference. Tomorrow I will be really cooking with gas. I go for a second infusion next week because MOAR MOAR MOAR.

8/15 '17 5 Comments
I love all of this. Especially that you are getting infüzd. I love your voice and your good health.
Thanks! Eeee!

Also: This magical spelling pleases me. :-)
GORGEOUS song! And you sound amazing, I love hearing before-I-met-her Jill. :)
Jenn A 8/18 '17
Frames don't really matter, good user experience matters OH MY GOD I CLICKED A BACK LINK AND THE FRAMES ARE FRAMING THE FRAMES FRAMECEPTION it's fine
Thomas Boutell 8/15 '17

I figure the band was from the 90s, so should the web-t'knology. Written in Notepad, like someone intended. (?)
Jill "xtingu" Knapp 8/16 '17edited

I've decided that when I die, my headstone should make mention of the fact that I could sing pretty okay, and that I really like socks. 

Matt bought me a pair of new socks the other day called "Heat Holders." I think I may have heard them advertised on the radio, but maybe not. But either way, Matt bought them for me and SWEET HOLY GOD LORDT ABOVE THESE SOCKS ARE THE MOST MAGICAL THINGS I HAVE EVER PUT ON MY FEET ALL CAPS. I have incredibly sexy cankles that swell up, and by 3pm pretty much every pair of socks that I own are digging into my shins and then they roll down an inch, and then they dig in there, and they roll down an inch, and by 6:30pm my lower legs look like a hand grenade. Very sexy. But these socks are big enough where they don't dig into my legs, but they don't fall down either. 

The inside of these socks are like brushed soft yarn... like long yarn... I don't know how to describe it, but it's like having your foot engulfed in the virgin baby hair of Scandinavian angels. And if your feet sweat, somehow these socks keep your feet reaaaaaaallly warm, but never damp. They are pretty much the perfect thing. I have the feeling they weren't made to be worn with shoes/boots, but maybe just worn as slippers around the house maybe... they're really thick. But I threw on a pair of boots over them today and when I took my first step I squeeeeeed audibly and started making up songs in dumb voices about how I was walking on magical clouds. So put these effers on your holiday gift list, and ask for nothing else, because no gift you get will be better than these. I got the fuschia/cerise striped ones. They make me stupidly happy.

What else is going on...

If you haven't watched John Oliver's final 2016 clip of Last Week Tonight, it is very much worth the 25 minute investment. If your 2016 has sucked as much as everyone else's has, then you will especially like the final five minutes of it. 

What else is going on...

I have pretty big and not very funny confession to make, but I will make that confession in a friends-locked post because it's not for public consumption... so if you're not logged into LJ or if you don't have an account on OPW, you're outta luck.

What else is going on...

Matt and I have been recording a Christmas EP, and so far we've got four songs done out of the five. The song titles so far are "Everyone's a Child When it Snows," which is not particularly "Hot Breakfasty" in that it's not funny or dorky, but quite sweet and a touch precious even... but we're OK with it. Next is "Don't Get Me Anything," which is an upbeat fun thing which parrots my anti-noun stance on gift giving... and please for the love of God, no more gifts for my damn inner child... I'm forty-fucking-five and I don't need toys. Up next is "Christmas is for Believers," which is also not particularly funny, but has Matt's clever wordplay and also a very honest, even-handed and kind way of approaching what could be a controversial topic: non-Christians who celebrate Christmas. The song we recorded tonight is called "Clean Blank Slate" which starts off saying something like "It's January 1st and everything magically resets and all the bullshit that was going on last year just disappears," and then the rest of the song is saying, "Yeah, wouldn't it be nice if it was like that, but it isn't." When we were recording the backing vocals, we got the idea of burying a subliminal message in there... so we added some lyrics waaaay low down in the mix, and I'm really proud of what we did and how it came out. We have one song left to record called "The Holiday Shift" which has a similar feel to our 2013 hit "An Idiot for Christmas", and is about a person who has to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day for the sales, and how they feel about it. (Spoiler: You might think it's a horrible thing, but our hero actually likes the extra hours and overtime pay, and is happy to have an excuse not to hang with his family.) We're releasing this new Christmas EP on December 17th at a show at World Café Live at the Queen at our "Hot Breakfast! & Friends Present: A Very Dorky Christmas." It should be super-fun!

Allrighty, that's all I got for now. Tune in soon, true-believers, to an LJ post near you for my big ol' secret confession. 


x-posted from xtingu.livejournal.com/

11/24 '16 6 Comments
I am excited. Ted will also be excited. Having worked on holidays for many years, I am particularly excited, and my heart is warmed.
Lindsay Harris Friel 11/24 '16edited
Yaaaaaay! I like Friel-sibling excitement. :)
Christmas doesn't excite me, but I love socks and I love you!
Two outta three? I'll take it!

Love you right back, babycakes. :)
The new ep sounds like my kinda thing.
Thomas Boutell 11/24 '16
I think you'll like it... especially once I point out the seekrit Easter eggs in "Clean Blank Slate." :-)