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Friday, March 3, 2017

Inside February.

I know I dropped it around here somewhere. Marvin, have you seen it? What's that? Oh, right ... I dropped it on the internets. How could I forget? Yes, well ... we FINALLY got around to dropping a new episode of THIS IS BIG GREEN, featuring Ned Trek 31: It's a Profitable Life. Yes, it's a Christmas special, so think of it as that fruitcake you never opened in December, shoved to the back of the fridge, and you happen upon it one cold February morning - a happy accident! Except that, well ... it's a fruitcake. So, like it or not, here's what you'll find alongside the pecans and candied fruit:

Ned Trek 31: It's a Profitable Life - Our parody of "It's a Wonderful Life" as played by your favorite Ned Trek characters: Captain Willard Mittilius Romney in the James Stewart role; Peter Lorre as the angel- (or, rather, devil- )in-training (Gladston Goodstein); Paul Ryan sitting in for the main character's younger brother; Bernie Sanders as the bank examiner who ends up running the bank as a worker-owned enterprise, and so on. It even features Thomas Malthus, the 18th-19th Century political economist, as the boss fallen angel. An hour of cheap laughs and satirical tirades fit for no man.

Ned Trek 31 also includes 5 new Big Green songs:
  • You Can't Do Anything - Straight rock number sung by Sulu that asks the question, "Are you having fun?" then talks about fascists on the couch at Christmas. What more can you ask?
  • You Asked Me How - A 6/8, fifties-sounding song sung by Ned himself. Hear me, Android!It's a profitable life
  • Fountainhead - Another rock number, sung in the "voice" of Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan, about his favorite subject .... him, and his bankrupt philosophy.
  • Christmas Without You - Doc Coburn song. If you listen carefully, you can hear a bad imitation of his colleague, Dr. John, in the background vocals.
  • Christmas Pearls - A jaunty little Christmas Carol sung by Mr. Perle, in which he makes the case for his return as a top White House advisor on foreign policy, defense, and getting us into endless (but highly profitable) wars. In other words, a different version of the same song he always sings on Ned Trek.
Put The Phone Down - Our stranger than usual conversation opens with something like a song, ranges into some apologizing, lamenting the loss of John Hurt (whose resonant Shakespearean voice is often badly imitated on our podcast), a look back at my turkey house apartment in the 1980s, and wrap up with an impromptu version of Special Kind of Blood.

So, hey ... Happy Holidays. Belated.

The king's speech.

How did you spend that prime time hour this past Tuesday night? I will admit to watching the entire Trump address to a Joint Session of Congress, and I have to say ... it's evident he hired a speechwriter sometime over the past six weeks. His inaugural was a patchwork hodgepodge of paranoid tropes and random utterances, crudely constructed by the likes of Miller and Bannon with some input, most likely, form Trump's demon spawn. Wednesday's speech was full of craven ideas and scapegoating, but it was comparatively well-crafted. Someone massaged the prose a bit, inserted some lofty rhetoric and clever turns of phrase. I think that accounts in large measure for the "tone" difference TV commentators have been crowing about ever since.

Maytag Repairman-in-ChiefAnd the substance of the king's speech? Nauseating, in my humble opinion. The truly low points for me were the jingoistic celebration of the widow of that Navy Seal killed in that botched Yemen raid, the announcement of a special Homeland Security office tracking victims of immigrant crimes, the promise to raise the already bloated military budget by 10% ... I could go on. Of those three, the first one was strange in that Trump had previously (that day, I believe) thrown his generals under the bus for that failed mission, on Fox News. (Plus, the Navy Seal's father is hopping mad about it, and rightfully so.) But point to a war widow, and politicians will always stand up and cheer. It's their way of channeling our relief that we are no longer called upon to fight wars or to pay for them up front. Cynical in the extreme.

That extended riff on the victims of immigrant crime was particularly disturbing. They are setting up an office (with the acronym VOICE, no less) to do something like what Der Sturmer used to do to German Jews - namely, front page any violent crimes committed by individuals in that group as a means of stoking outrage against the entire group. It's an effective tactic, and the Trump bots are embracing it wholeheartedly. (I got into some mini-Twitter wars with a couple of them after the speech.) It's up to us to push back on this and to encourage our representatives to do the same.

Let's face it - it's going to be a long, long four years. Perhaps even longer. So we need to start building now.

luv u,

jp