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Friday, January 1, 2016

Inside the Xmas Podcast.

Back to Earth with us, in a manner of speaking. Gravity always brings you home, right? Stupid ass gravity! Oh, well ... where would we be without it? (In space, perhaps.)

While we were away on our interstellar trip to nowhere-ville, we dropped another THIS IS BIG GREEN podcast - our annual Holiday Extravaganza, as it were. (And it were ... oh, it were!) If you've listened to it already, then you are among the few who truly understand Christmas cheer, let alone Christmas pride, Christmas joy, and all those other seasonal soap products. (We were sponsored by P&G this year. The really took a gamble!)

Anywho, without any further ado, here's what's inside the Holiday podcast:

Ned Trek 26: A Very Neddy Christmas. The Ned Trek crew re-enacts Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with a more modern sensibility. Unprecedented? Certainly not. Nor is it un-presidented. It in fact features cameos by no less than two ex presidents and probably at least one future president. Introduced as always by Lee Majors, who doesn't even attempt a British accent.

Ned Trek 26 is a musical episode, featuring four new recordings by Big Green. They are:

Christmas Past. Apropos of its name, this is a song Matt wrote in the very late 1980s, back when the sky was black with flocks of pterodactyls. This new recording includes choral parts in a little-known extraterrestrial tongue, with helpful translations by other choral singers who attempt to imitate David Bowie.

McBridy. Another number from the old days, this one from Matt's 1990 Christmas cassette. A song about the troubles in Ireland, which were still going on back then. Eye for an eye, and an island of blind men. Pretty thumpy little number.

Put the decorations away now, Marvin.Romney in Reserve. Kind of a country swing song about Willard standing by his phone, waiting for a call from a desperate GOP chair pleading for him to jump in and save the party for 2016. Dream on, Willard, dream on.

40s Guys Christmas. Our best approximation of a big band, which is not too great, but nevertheless. The 40s guys get their chance to shine, singing about working on Christmas.

Put The Phone Down. Matt and I talk about a whole bunch of stuff, from George Washington Carver, to George Washington's wooden teeth, to the war of the Cuban conservatives, and more. Easy listening here in Big Green land.

Enjoy and keep those comments coming. (Don't forget to check out the special encore Holiday Special at NedTrek.com. )

New year, old bottle.

Here we go headlong into 2016. It feels as if we've already had the year, since pop culture obsesses over the horse-race aspect of elections even if it rarely delves into the substance of what's at issue. Truth be told, the talk shows have been talking about 2016 since 2012, the day after election day. Evidently, it's an eyeball magnet for them, so they'll never stop talking about it, particularly now that we've entered the age of Trump. Good television will always trump (no pun intended) good politics, hands down.

So, what are the substantive issues that we should be grappling with in this election year? Same ones as in practically every other year, and you can name them as credibly as I can. Here's my list:

Cheap eyeball magnetCapitalism's Failure. This is an issue that touches on everyone, young and old, working and unemployed or retired, poor and not-so-poor. The internal contradictions of American and, by extension, global capitalism came to a head in the crash of 2008, and we are still living in the aftermath of that disaster. Yes, the government can point to select data points that indicated a modest level of recovery, but the fact remains that an economic system that has consistently failed the vast majority of the population over the past 30 years has entered into an entirely new phase of failure. Most working Americans are toiling at the only job they can find, earning an inadequate rate of compensation. Our major cities are choked with legions of homeless people. This system is broken; it only serves the top one percent. We need to take a hard look at this, sooner rather than later.

Phony Wars. Our military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq are entering a new year with no end in sight, and we're building up presences in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. These conflicts spawn other conflicts, inspire retail terrorists, and generally create havoc. I'm not hearing a lot of meaningful discussion about this from the current herd of presidential candidates. Let's hold their feet to the fire this year.

Climate Change. While it is snowing like hell today, this has been the warmest and most snowless late fall - early winter in upstate New York in my experience. And while we have the Paris accord, very little is being done to reduce emissions and prevent this ongoing climate disaster from becoming an unmitigated catastrophe and a threat to human survival in the decades ahead. We have the means to move the needle on this; now we just need the will. That's totally up to us.

Black Lives Matter. With the failure to indict the Cleveland PD officers who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice last year, it is clear that we need to set new standards for law enforcement methods and accountability. That said, the problem evident in these deadly interactions runs much deeper than what can be corrected through police reform. Law enforcement methodology reflects the values of the society it serves; namely, white society in America. There are deep historical, economic, and cultural reasons for this, and we need to address these at their root, not simply prune the unsightly branches.

The list goes on, but we would do well to inject these issues into the election year discussion, preferably in a manner that draws connections between all three.

luv u,

jp