Holism.

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This place is a freaking mess. No, we still don’t have garbage collection. You have to pay taxes to get that, Mitch, and we’re off the grid – remember? Guess this lot will have to go down the tunnel to the center of the Earth. It’s like having the world’s biggest trash incinerator.

Oh, hi. As you can see, we are making the kind of obvious mistake that protagonists in science fiction movies make all the time – abusing mother nature just to solve some petty human problem, namely, generating too much trash. That goes on for the first couple of reels, then some ungodly creature emerges from the bowels of the Earth and goes on a murderous rampage stopped only by some unexpected intervention by germs or gravity or something – a turnaround that redeems the value of nature in the eyes of middle class moviegoers. Yeah, well … we are asking for that.

The fact is, once there’s a hole in the floor, you have an almost unstoppable urge just to keep dropping things into it. I think Marvin (my personal robot assistant) may have dropped some of our master tapes down into the memory hole. A true digital native like Marvin has no concept of tape recorded sound – God no! Music encoded onto a long ribbon of magnetic film? Impossible! Of course, he himself runs, in part, on vacuum tubes and toggle switches, so one might think he would have some empathy for users of retro Wait. You dropped it where??technologies. In any case, down the memory hole they go … unless I left them in my other pants. Marvin? Have you seen my other pants?

Right, so … that’s not the only thing we’ve been up to. We’re hip-deep in production for our next tranche of Ned Trek songs, about seven or eight of them by last count. This is why our podcast THIS IS BIG GREEN has become, well, kind of infrequent – too many musicals! In any case, we’ve amassed a backlog of about 60 Ned Trek songs thus far, seven of which are included in the podcast I just recently posted on NedTrek.com – episode 24: Whom Gods Deploy, which originally appeared in our August 2015 TIBG podcast. So … it hasn’t all gone down the hole quite yet.

Dig it.

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Well, if we needed storage space, it would be a good thing. Honest, Abe – where are you going to find enough junk to make it worthwhile? We can’t even afford shoes, for chrissake.

Oh, hi. Yeah, I’ve been having a little conversation with Antimatter Lincoln about an idea he cooked up this week. Let me see if I can explain. With the help of Mitch Macaphee’s Particle Beam Generator™, we now have a tunnel to the center of the Earth in our basement. The downside of that, of course, is that it has the potential to act as a volcanic vent, sending an ocean of magma up from the planet’s chewy center and wreaking havoc on our entire community. (Also, it tends to whistle as the world turns.) What’s the upside of having Earth’s biggest hole? We’re still working on that.

Antimatter Lincoln piped up with a suggestion that we put shelving units around the walls of the hole and use it to store nick knacks, junk, souvenirs, and sporting trophies. Capital idea, except that we don’t have any of those things, particularly the trophies. Besides, when that thing blows its stack, it would burn our non-existent valuables to a cinder. And again, we live in an abandoned hammer mill. There’s plenty of room for Antimatter Lincoln’s imaginary possessions. The simple fact that they are imaginary – i.e., mental impressions only, not objects external to his fevered brain – suggests that he can have an infinite number of them and never have to worry about where to keep them all.

Fun!Right, so … what to do with that hole. We did bring Marvin (my personal robot assistant) up from the flames of hell this past week, after having lowered him down the well on an impromptu reconnaissance mission. He had little to report, though apparently he saw openings in the tunnel walls that led to large caverns underground. It’s possible that, for all his trouble, Mitch just built us a back door to Howe Caverns. I suppose NOW we’ll be getting busloads of middle school kids parked out in front of the mill, waiting for a chance to take the underground boat ride or step on the quartz heart-shaped platform where some crazy-ass couples chose to have their weddings.

Ah, memories. If you have a good use for the world’s biggest hole, just email them to us with the subject line: “World’s Biggest Hole”. We’ll know just what you’re talking about.

Cave in.

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Marvin, can you hear me? Marvin? Damn … that’s just the echo of my own voice. I was wondering why Marvin would be calling out to himself. Marvin!?

Right, so … I think we went a little too far with the archaeological dig, particularly once we got Mitch Macaphee, our mad science advisor, and Marvin (my personal robot assistant) involved. At first it was just a lark – we took a shovel to the floor of the Cheney Hammer Mill’s sub-basement just to see what we could find. Turns out there’s a lot of dirt down there. (Little known fact: the Earth is largely composed of dirt. I suspect that’s why “earth” is a synonym of “dirt”.) Sure, we turned up our share of lost quarters, belt buckles, tie clips and fossilized coelacanths, but that was about it.

Then Mitch decided to get involved, and of course, all hell broke loose. That is to say, he used one of his patented Particle Beam Generators™ to burn a hole through the Earth’s crust, clear down to the molten nickel core, which (as you know from watching television) is in a perpetual state of raging ferment – hell fire from beneath the ground, shall we say. To understand why this may have happened, you have to understand the scientific mind. Once you get that, imagine a diseased version of that same mind and you will have some insight into Mitch’s reasoning.

Say it twice!Well now, this didn’t go over very well, but I suggested to Mitch that his Particle Beam Generator™ had essentially blown the entire archaeological enterprise by incinerating every stratum between the mill floor and the Earth’s core; hence, a thousand potential discoveries may have been irretrievably lost. His answer was to devise a crane-like device and lower someone (not him!) down into the newly-bored hole to have a look at the top layers that had been exposed. How did we decide on Marvin? Well, there’s that ten bucks I owe him … and of course, he is much better qualified for the mission than I am. So sure, we put him in a harness and lowered him down into the hole, like he was on a fishing rod.

Anyone who has seen the movie Crack in the World can picture what comes next: A big flame comes out of the hole ten minutes after Marvin took the plunge. Radio silence thus far, but no worries: it’s Marvin’s nap time right about now, so he would tend to be unresponsive anyway.

Our four bears.

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Did you find any yet? Hmmm … I was sure they’d be here somewhere. How about now? Nothing? Okay. Keep digging. Great hopping organoids, this archaeology business is harder than it looks.

Idle hands do the devil’s work, or so they say. Here at the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill (our squat house), we like to try to keep busy just so that we don’t get into trouble. Sure, you might think being a musician would be enough, and well, it should be. But you can play and play and play until the cows come home. Then what have you got? A whole herd of cows, and no place for them to graze. Who do those cows belong to, anyhow? Right … well, I’ve wandered a bit, but you get the point.

So sure, we make music, but in between all that we like to involve ourselves in scientific endeavors … at least in the social sciences. (We leave the hard sciences to our mad science advisor, Mitch Macaphee.) This week it’s archaeology. Why that field? Well, we spotted an article about Neanderthals or Denisovans finding their way to the Americas more than 100,000 years ago, and that piqued our interest. The evidence seemed a little thin: just some smashed Mastodon bones. So we thought we’d take a look in the dirt and see if we could find some helpful artifacts, buried far below the hammer mill.

Dude ... behind you. Take a look.The fact is, I’m pretty sure those scientists are right about the Neanderthals. Back when we used Trevor James Constable’s patented orgone generating device as a time travel portal, we sent ourselves back in time to a point in American history when large-jawed anthropoids made up the majority of our club audiences. They’re heavy tippers, I understand, but always call out songs you never heard of. And when you start playing, they knock rocks together until you’re all done. Charming.

If you’re wondering whether we’ve come across any remains, well, I hate to disappoint you, but the Neanderthals’ secret still remains safe. It’s basically choose your myth at this point. I choose the one where they follow some wayward bears over from Russia. Others have suggested a cable car of some sort. We may never know.

Audio dynamite.

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Yeah, turn the bass drum up a little in my headphone mix. Yeah, that’s enough. That’s good. Okay, dial it back … Too loud. STOP!! Christ on a bike. Can’t you turn a knob in a direction other than clockwise? No? Okay. Good to know.

As you may have surmised, we have resorted to using Marvin (my personal robot assistant) as a sound engineer in the makeshift studio we maintain at the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill. Not the optimal choice, I admit, but hey, look – we only have two hands. Actually, between us, we have four, but – and this is important – WE’RE USING ALL FOUR OF THEM. I thought Marvin, being a robot, might be a bit more precise in his manipulations of various sound parameters, but it appears that Mitch Macaphee (our mad science advisor) cut a few corners when he put Marvin together. His wrist joints only turn one way, it turns out. What the fuck.

Hey, did any of you hear something?When you are effectively a pop duo … and I think Matt and I constitute the duo part, at least … you need to rely on others sometimes to do some of the heavy lifting. Marvin can do some stuff. I’ve gotten Antimatter Lincoln to shake a tambourine more than once – that’s about his speed. The man-sized tuber is pretty good at holding things up, like a table.  These are all things we would otherwise have to do ourselves, so it’s not like I’m ungrateful. But man … a shred of musical ability would come in handy right about now.

Then there’s such a thing as too much help. Yes, I’m talking about Mitch. This one song we were working on, we wanted a colossal bass drum sound. Mitch said he could do better than our superannuated effects boxes, so we said go ahead, knock yourself out. The next morning, I’m awakened by this earth-shattering BOOM and the whole mill is shaking like a jello mold. Out in the courtyard, there’s a smoking crater where the tool shed once stood. There were about seven mics set up around the crater. I guess Mitch was thinking surround sound.

It took about a year to live that down. (We still get calls from the codes department.) So hey, now I’m careful when I ask for help.

What ho.

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There’s my pocket watch. And no, it’s not a proper pocket watch, just a wrist watch I keep in my pocket because my wrists get sore when I wear it. As a result, the crystal is scratched to the point where it always looks like 3:54 last Wednesday. So …. happy Wednesday, everybody!

What’s new this week in Big Green land? Well, I’m guessing there’s more news coming out of regular old Greenland (That’s part of Scandinavia!), though they have the advantage of belonging to Denmark. It’s been suggested to us more than once that we should just ask Denmark to annex us, like the even bigger Greenland, so that we would have more to talk about on our blog and podcast. Another good suggestion, people. Keep them rolling in!

In all seriousness, though (and I’m making my most serious face now), we have been working our fingers to the bone on our next raft of Big Green songs. We’ve even worked a few of our toes to the bone as well. (You don’t know hardship until you’ve worn sneakers over bony toes.) All of this is leading up to the next episode of Ned Trek, which promises to be another musical – this time a takeoff on the Galileo 7 episode of the original series. At least I think that’s what the next episode will be. Because you know … shit happens. And it happens fast sometimes. Fast, fast shit.

Lend me a bob 'til TuesdayAs always, Matt has been doing the bulk of the songwriting. He’s a writing machine, people … just pacing through his duties on that nature sanctuary, talking out the lyrics of his various crazy-ass songs like a distinctly non-Scottish Ewan McTeagle. (Though, in the interests of full disclosure, this is probably a good time to point out that Matt’s partner does indeed play the bagpipes.) Matt wrote at a relatively breakneck pace before he spent his days out on the range, as it were, whereas I have always been the kind of songwriter that squeezes one out every once in a while. (If that sounds nauseating, it’s because it kind of is.)

Hey, Matt has his process, I have mine. Drop it into a 3-quart mixing bowl, set the beater on frappé, and voilà (or for you British listeners out there, what ho): Big Green casserole. Help yourself.

Inside April.

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What’s that rattling you hear? Could be the sound of Tomahawk missiles. Or maybe it’s just a loose screen in the upstairs window. Those may be the same exact thing, in effect.

But there is a third possibility, and that is the April THIS IS BIG GREEN podcast. We’ve got another boatload of sound for you this month –  here’s a brief look inside the ship’s hold (just to overextend that little metaphor) …

NED TREK 32: All Our Festeryears. A take-off on the “All Our Yesteryears” episode in the original Star Trek series (I believe their second or third to the last episode ever), Willard, Ned, Pearle, and Sulu pay a visit to a strangely deserted world, the entire population of which has retreated into old B movies on VHS tapes. The caretaker of the library (or Blockbuster Video) and his various doppelgangers are played by Ronald Reagan. Ned and Sulu have to deal with cheap-ass cinematic cowboys, whereas Willard and Pearle face-off against cave men. Kind of lame, but …. whatever.

Put the Phone Down. We start with the cornbread song, then move downhill from there. Some bird talk, some pondering of dialogue from the TV show Kung Fu. I could draw you a picture, but it wouldn’t be pretty. I’m thinking about brewing some coffee before we start talking next time out.

Song: Doc’s Freedom. This was from the very early Ned Trek episode called “Spector’s Grandchildren”, in which telekinetic space aliens forced the crew to sing. One of my favorite Doc Coburn songs, this one comes complete with a funky intro. Look for a version of this on Big Green’s eventual Ned Trek collection.

How 'bout another song? Yeah, okay.Song: Neocon Christmas. This is a Mr. Perle song from another early Ned Trek – “Santorum’s Christmas Planet”, I think. Kind of a jazz trio treatment on this, with backing vocals from the non-sequitur 40’s guys.

Song: Jesus Got A Known Mind. Another Doc song, and again, a particular favorite of mine because of its primitive rock vibe and the backing vocals seemingly borrowed from Helter Skelter. Rock out, people!

Song: Up On The Bridge. Featuring Mr. Sulu, this song from a more recent Ned Trek episode contemplates the volatile fortunes of a certain T.V. actor whose fame was built on a re-run cult following that persists to this day. The vocals on this are kind of hilarious. (We spent more time on that than anything else.)

Technophobia.

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Not running again, eh? Try knocking it upside the head again. Harder. HARDER! Oh, wait … you knocked its head off. That’s probably too hard. Oh well….

Hey, welcome to the house of Big Green – that abandoned hammer mill we call home, because all of the groups live together. Just trying to get down to recording some new material, old material … whatever! If we can just get our technology to work for five minutes. (Actually, three and a half minutes would do, since this is pop music.) Seriously, we’ve got some old gear, folks. It’s almost as old as our asses. I’m not even talking tape recorders …. I’m talking wire recorders. I’m talking those wax record cutting machines they used when John-boy was being interviewed by a radio station on The Waltons after he got swindled by the vanity press dude. (Oh, you thought I forgot, didn’t you? Mr. TV Swindler!)

Ahem. Anyhow, we really are running on three cylinders down in Big Green’s clubhouse recording studio in the basement of the Cheney Hammer Mill. The eight-track DTRS machine we used to record 2000 Years To Christmas is a paperweight. The 16/24 track hard disc workstation we used to record International House and Cowboy Scat: Songs in the Key of Rick is 17 years old and ready for that farm upstate. We’re taping together our headphones and coaxing our pre-amps not to self-destruct. It’s a sad state of affairs, to say the least. Our neighbors keep saying, do a GoFundMe campaign or something, but hell …. that would require the invention of the personal computer. Our gear tells me it’s still 1982.

It was new when I bought it.Marvin (my personal robot assistant) is probably the most sophisticated piece of technology we have at our disposal. In fact, that’s exactly what he is –  a re-purposed garbage disposal. I’m told that our mad science advisor, Mitch Macaphee, added some arms and legs and popped a refurbished Commodore 64 computer in his noggin, then it was off to the races with him. We could probably use HIM as an audio recorder almost as easily as we manage with our antiquated Roland VS-2480, but it would require some modifications, and damn it, we’re Luddites. We just flip the switch and a light goes on – the rest is magic.

So, hey … we’ll get those songs committed to .wav somehow, never fear. Just don’t ask me how they got there afterwards.

Wait a minute.

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Got this song running through my head. It’s one of Matt’s from some time ago. I get that a lot, actually. Our entertainment center hasn’t worked in ages, so when we’re not playing I have to rely upon the jukebox in my mind for my entertainment. And just now it’s playing Big Green circa 1989, maybe. Couple weeks ago. The lyric goes like this:

Thought we were madly in love
but we were just plain mad
I always thought we were in love
But we were mad, just mad

Under a Gothic sky
we heard an ancient choir
In an amphitheater
we compiled notes and prayed aloud

We held our breath and heard the voice
of uncommon sense
We dropped our eyes and saw the floor mosaic move
We were in need of uncommon sense
We met the face of foolishness

In the torrential rain
we still open the mail
We still shake the pieces
Still building boats unsafe to sail

We were badly in need of some
uncommon law
We were sadly in need of some corrective lens
We were in need of uncommon sense
We met the face of foolishness

We weren’t in love
We were mad

That song is called “Uncommon Sense” and I literally haven’t heard it in years. So why is it bouncing around in my bean? No freaking clue. Stuff just bobs up like an inflatable horse in a swimming pool. Or something else that bobs up … maybe somebody named Bob who comes up for the weekend. Not that that’s ever likely to happen. And what if he has special dietary restrictions? Okay … where was I?

Eight-tracks are just fab, man.I think I’m hearing music because my mind is wandering. It’s like hold music – something has to fill the void, and since my psyche is out on vacation, someone fired up the old juke box. Sometimes it’s junk-ass radio pop music from the 1970s. I won’t even name some of the ear-worms I get because then you will have them to grapple with for the rest of the day, and you will end up hating me until the end of time. You know, songs like “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero”, for instance, or “The Night Chicago Died”. Oh, God damnit!

Fortunately for me, my brother and collaborator in the musical collective enterprise known as Big Green has written a smoking ton of music over the past three decades. I can run his song list end-to-end in my head literally non-stop for about three weeks and never play the same song twice. Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of control over what I’m hearing with my mind’s ear – not like Marvin (my personal robot assistant), who actually has an 8-track cartridge deck built into the side of his brass head. All he has to do is hit the channel button and it hops over to the middle of another song. Welcome to the future, friends.

Note to cognitive scientists: if you figure out how to change earworm songs, let me the fuck know. Thanks mucho.

Yardstick.

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Yeah, it’s up there. How can I tell? I just look out the window, dude. I look out and I see exactly nothing. That’s how you know it’s Snowmageddon. Simple, right? Trouble is … I’m on the third floor.

Yeah, the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill (our squat house) was buried in snow this past Tuesday night, and Mitch is responsible. I know it seems like I blame everything on our mad science advisor, but that’s only because he’s behind everything that happens, at least in some measure. Like that full moon we had last week. Did you see it? It was kind of ghostly, like the clouds had wrapped around it, but you could still see the full disc. Mitch’s part in that? Not certain, but my guess is that he was working the cloud machine that night. (He should really be advising a 1970s arena rock band, but I digress.)

The sad thing is that his cloud invention could be a boon to mankind and animal kind alike … if he would only use it for good instead of evil. That’s a bit unfair, actually – Mitch is amoral, not immoral. Madness has no reason, but it can have a goal … and this week, I suspect the goal may have been snow and more snow. And as I believe I mentioned earlier, he has a cloud machine. Not good.

Hey ... I think it might have snowed.There is one other piece of incriminating evidence. The big nor’easter was named Stella, and that was the name of Mitch’s old girlfriend from back in the day. He doesn’t talk about her much, but Marvin (my personal robot assistant) has dished a bit of back story on Mitch’s wild years. Now I know that doesn’t sound like Marvin, but you would be surprised what’s stored in those creaky, tape-medium databases he holds inside that brass hide of his. (Before you ask, no, there are no audio recordings – just metadata of phone calls, that sort of thing.) Folks: never date a mad scientist. Seriously.

So, let me be the first to apologize about the storm. I’ll probably also be the last to apologize, since Mitch never apologizes for any of the catastrophes he causes. Crazy as fuck means not having to say you’re sorry.