Jump time.

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Time to crank out another number? Right, then. One … two … one, two, three, fo… What? Wait for what? Oh, right. We need to pick a song. My bad.

Well, obviously we’re a little out of practice. It’s been a while since Big Green performed in these parts, and while we don’t have any plans to set up at the local gin mill and run through the ’93 set list (just like the old days, Steve), we could do with a little rehearsal time. A friend once told me that rehearsal is just a crutch for cats who can’t blow. (No, he didn’t wear sunglasses and a tam.) I like to think he had a point. It makes me feel better about doing nothing, and doing nothing is nothing if it isn’t fun.

Not to say that we’re dead idle – far from it. This week we’re recording the next episode of Ned Trek. We’re also working on the songs for our Christmas Extravaganza, rummaging through our big burlap sack of old Xmas songs that was the genesis of our first album, 2000 Years To Christmas, in 1999. Yessir, I remember back in ’02, when the pump broke down and we had to haul water from the brook all the way uphill to our little log lean-to in Sri Lanka. Then there was the time that old Barney the mule lost a shoe in the middle of winter sowing. Hard times. Yep. (Yep.)

A bit spare.Thankfully, life is a lot simpler now. We have Marvin (my personal robot assistant) haul all of our water from the brook. Except now, unlike then, we have indoor plumbing (our lean-to was very old-school), so Marvin just dumps the water into the cistern and we tap it. Modern conveniences! When Marvin’s batteries run a little low, we ask Anti-Lincoln to do it, and he always says no. We still ask, though. Everybody pulls his own weight around here. Everybody except the mansized tuber, who needs a little help. But what the hell – he’s a freaking plant. Can’t expect him to grow arms and legs and start jumping around anytime soon. (Or can we …. ?)

Well, I’ve wandered a bit. The bottom line is that we’re dusting off a few of the Christmas songs Matt wrote decades ago – ones that didn’t end up on 2000 Years To Christmas – and recording them properly for the first time ever (i.e. not on a borrowed 4-track cassette deck). Again, modern conveniences, utilized for our mutual benefit. It’s a crazy little thing called civilization.

THIS IS BIG GREEN: September 2017

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Big Green returns from its Summer hiatus with a brand new installment of Ned Trek, eight new songs, and some poorly rendered Dalek jokes. Resistance is futile.

This is Big Green – September 2017. Features: 1) Ned Trek 33: The Nimrod Seven; 2) Song: If You’re Listening To This, by Big Green; 3) Song: Commander I’m Dead, by Big Green; 4) Song: Doctor in the House, by Big Green; 5) Song: Wait For You, by Big Green; 6) Song: Nimrod, by Big Green; 7) Song: Neocon Captain, by Big Green; 8) Song: Yo-Ho, by Big Green ; 9) Song: Nixon Is Saving Us All, by Big Green; 10) Put the Phone Down: The cheap hello song; 11) What we did on our Summer vacation; 12) And the racists love you (imagine mechanical Nazi men); 13) Big Green pledge drive; 14) carl Sagan’s homecoming; 15) Gorka in the box; 16) Psycho Batman; 17) Who gets the special bad actor prize; 18) Pay for play Enterprise bridge; 19) Time to go.

Missing pieces.

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This tape recorder has that Leroy Brown kind of problem. You know … it looks like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone. Guess it must have been messin’ with the wife of a jealous dehumidifier.

All right, well, it’s no secret that Big Green has a technology problem or two, even with an in-house mad science advisor like Mitch Macaphee. Our machines are aging, our circuits are frayed, our relays are frosted, and the electric bill’s unpaid. (That was an accidental rhyme, by the way.) Most of our recording devices have at least one tooth missing. I’ve got an Evil Twin direct box that needs surgery. Our VS2480 deck has finally been retired for a system that’s maybe six years newer (i.e. only nine years old).

Hey … if you’re a real band, that shouldn’t matter, right? Got a second-hand guitar and a panama hat? Start busking. Got a broken-down upright piano that’s barely upright? Grab a tin cup and start pounding those dusty keys. That’s the musician’s work ethic. Not super popular around here, I must say. We make music without much of a thought to monetizing it. God no – that’s Anti-Lincoln’s job. We just put our heads down in the studio. Old antimatter Abe sits in the den and moves the numbers around. Occasionally they add up to something edible.

I think I see what the problem is...Speaking of missing pieces, our podcast, THIS IS BIG GREEN, is massively overdue. The reason/excuse? Well … we produced eight songs, mixed seven, and thought we were freaking done. Matt was plugging the show together and, well … there was this gaping hole where a Nixon song should go. So it’s back to the mixing board with us, and the June episode is now turning into the September episode. But people … think of it. Eight new songs, written on the fly and recorded from scratch … on a new (to us) recording system, no less! Add to that some chasing around after falcons and the usual summer distractions, and you’ve got an abysmally late podcast. But, hopefully, it will be one for the books. (Eight new songs, people.)

I think that brings our Ned Trek catalog up to about 70 tracks. Christ on a bike. There’s got to be an album in there somewhere, right?

Words worth.

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I’m still not sure this is a good idea. The memory of the last time we tried this still haunts me. And that Morlock with the sandals never answers my postcards. And yes, I’ve been dropping them down the hole. Jesus!

Okay, so someone, I won’t say who (Mitch), thought it would be a great idea to do a second subterranean tour, since we now have the equivalent of a superhighway to the chewy nougat center of the Earth. Mitch plans to fashion some kind of urban gondola (very popular in small post-industrial cities these days) that will allow us to treat the mega-hole in our floor like a kind of futuristic cargo elevator. I don’t remember where I heard this, but it seems like this mode of transportation might be problematic, to say the least, particularly when you’re dealing with magma and other natural hazards.

Mitch isn’t worried, of course. In his world, there’s a mad scientific fix for everything. That must be a nice feeling. When stuff goes wrong for the rest of us, we have little to fall back on other than playing instruments and/or writing songs, and maybe playing a few rounds of mumbly peg. (That doesn’t usually help, but it does give us something to strive for, since none of us knows how to play mumbly peg.) Everyone needs some kind of solution. For Marvin (my personal robot assistant), it’s a seven percent solution of machine oil and antifreeze.

Yeah, that looks like a maybe.Why does songwriting help? Don’t know, exactly. Ask Matt – he’s more prolific than me by a mile. As I’ve said before, he comes up with songs while walking the length and breadth of his rural domain, composing them out loud like a latter-day Ewan MacTeagle. Me, I take forever to crank out a few lines. My muse is like an old, rusty typewriter with an even older ribbon, very parsimonious and begrudging of every line. Even so, if we do undertake this underground tour, we should have plenty of material that hasn’t been heard down there before. Nothing the middle-Earth denizens hate more than old, recycled material.

So, yeah, we’ll consider it. Though God only knows why.

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 February.

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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.

THIS IS BIG GREEN: February 2017

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Big Green celebrates the holidays two months late, with a new Ned Trek Christmas Special, five new Big Green songs, and some uncontrollable silliness. Hot holiday leftovers, coming right up.

This is Big Green – February 2017.

Features: 1) Ned Trek 31: It’s A Profitable Life – A Big Green Holiday Special, featuring 5 new Big Green Songs; 2) Song: You Can’t Do Anything, by Big Green; 3) Song: You Asked Me How, by Big Green; 4) Song: Fountainhead, by Big Green; 5) Song: Christmas Without You, by Big Green; 6) Song: Christmas Pearls, by Big Green; 7) Put The Phone Down: Serial apologies for the lateness of the holiday; 8) Lamenting the passing of John Hurt and others; 9) Which Jane Eyre?; 10) Life in the Turkey House; 11) Special kind of exit.

Song farm.

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Where’s Matt this morning? Where he always is – trudging across the landscape like Ewan McTeagle, writing crazy-ass song poems in his head and putting them to music … also in his head. And feeding the beavers. Curious fellow!

As we’re patching together the next episode of THIS IS BIG GREEN, featuring our holiday (yes, holiday!) installment of Ned Trek, it’s beginning to dawn on me just how many Ned Trek songs we have recorded over the last three years. If you piled them up, the resulting stack would be taller than the Empire State Building. (That’s assuming, of course, each song is about 1/50th the height of the Empire State Building.) But spacial relationships aside, we’ve got a big backlog of songs that are just screaming “Put me in an album!” Marvin (my personal robot assistant) tried to be helpful by picking up a photo album down at the corner drug store, but of course, that kind of album is a whole ‘nother thing. But semantic considerations aside …

Yep. About that tall, man.Okay, well … 50 songs is a lot for an album, even one of ours. Here’s where both the spacial and the semantic relationships actually come into play. What the hell is an album, right? It used to be an LP with a limited capacity; then a cassette, same deal; CD, same deal. In the digital music age, those limitations have vanished. No more four-disc box sets, right? It’s just a big virtual bag of MP3 or .wav files. So both the semantic and the spacial constraints are history, man. That means the only constraints on what to include in our next album are those pertaining to aesthetics and good judgment. (In our world, that means no freaking constraints at all!)

The truth is, we haven’t completed a new album because we’ve been taken up with writing and recording new songs for the podcast. When we finish a bunch, we start on the next one. And when I say “finish”, I mean our typical fast-mixdown …. not finished in any kind of releasable way. That takes time and care, much care. Marvin has to lay down a coat of shellac. Then we get Anti-Lincoln started on the hand-carved details. And that’s just for the box it comes in!

Many’s the time I’ve thought, there must be an easier way. But even thinking about that seems way too hard.

 

 

It’s about time.

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I don’t know, I’m thinking it’s time. What do you think? Not sure? Okay. When do you think you’ll have an answer? I don’t know about you, but … I’m thinking it’s time.

Okay, well … I’ll be frank with you. (Just call me “Frank” from now on.) We are grasping at straws here in Big Green land, now that our interstellar tour has been scuttled. And here it is, the holidays. We were thinking that we’d be traversing interstellar space when Christmas week came, but no dice. Trouble is, that was going to be our excuse for not getting anyone presents – sorry folks, we’re headed to a big gig on planet KIC 8462852. No time to shop! Well, THAT’S out the window. Any other good ideas for cheapskates?

Marvin (my personal robot assistant) humbly suggested we hand out signed copies of our first album, 2000 Years To Christmas, which appropriately follows a theme somewhat tangentially related to the holidays. Of course, we’ve resorted to that tactic before – it’s been a full 17 years since we put the sucker out, so everyone we know (and quite a few people we don’t know) has a copy. By this point, they’re stacking them under broken table legs and using them for drink coasters. I saw one of our friends re-purposing the jewel cases. Talk about a post-apocalyptic music hell-scape – people are mining our album like it’s a natural resource. (And it’s anything but natural.)

Give them discsThe gift of music is always an early resort for us. That’s basically how 2000 Years To Christmas was born – Matt writing songs as holiday gifts, back in the day. Then there’s the gift of podcasting. There, we have some good news and some bad news. The GOOD news is that we are working on another Christmas pageant as we speak – a Ned Trek holiday classic that will have some new songs embedded in it. The BAD news is that … at the rate we’re going, it likely won’t be finished until AFTER Christmas, so … hot holiday leftovers are coming your way.

For the holiday week itself, we may put out a rerun podcast with some additional “members only” elements. (Oh, right – we don’t have membership levels. Scratch that.) Back to the grind, boys!

Inside November.

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Drat. Scuttled by a solar flare. That was a serious oversight on the part of that person we put in charge of planning our interstellar tour. Who was that again? Let’s see …. oh, right. It was me. Well … no ice cream for me tonight.

Okay, well … looks like we’re having the interstellar version of a rainy-day schedule today, but instead of coloring books and tunafish sandwiches, let’s break open the November episode of our THIS IS BIG GREEN podcast and see what’s crawling around inside.

Ned Trek 30: “The Deadly Queers”. This thirtieth episode of our Star Trek parody is based on the classic episode “The Deadly Years“, in which the Enterprise command crew is affected by radiation that quickly turns them all into raving geezers. In our version, radiation causes the Free Enterprise crew to become progressively more gay – a fate worse than death for our hyper-conservative, free market, confederate flag-waving heroes. There’s a lot of tasteless swanning about and gay sex references that none of us are proud of, but hey …. satire. Extra special appearances by Senators Lindsay Graham, Roy (aka “Roy-toy”) Blunt, and Bernie Sanders.

Songs: Embedded in Ned Trek 30 are seven new Big Green songs. These, as always, are rough mixes of recordings that will, in some version, appear on a future album or albums yet to be determined. Here’s what we’ve got:


Tinkerbell Neocon – Medium tempo guitar-driven rock duet sung by Perle and Doc Coburn. This one gets stuck in my head, quite frankly, so beware!

Seven songs?Fairy Dust – Another dirge by Sulu (the one original cast member that is somehow part of this “next degeneration” version of Star Trek). Very moody little number.

Oklahoma Mo – A slightly gay Doc Coburn nod to his cow town oil-patch upbringing.

Space Fandango – Romney song that should have been a tango (and may still be one day), all about Stephanie O (the captain’s Don Ho). Ummm … hilarious.

Let Me Go – The android Nixon does this over-the-top sixties rock ballad about needing to go to the can. I don’t think we’re breaking new ground here, but it’s certainly the first song I’ve ever done that places having to take a piss in the context of mid 20th century presidential history.

Potato Salad – Ned song with kind of a sixties vibe. No, it doesn’t make any sense, even in the context of this ridiculous and borderline offensive episode of Ned Trek, but here it is anyhow.

Spanking Machine – Pop song, sung by Willard, that harkens back to his boarding school days.


Put The Phone Down: Matt and I kvetch about the Trump election, rail at a useless media and an even more useless Democratic party, and look ahead in dread at what outrages lie before us. Laugh a minute.