Sunday, January 27, 2008

America’s Most Recognizable Voice?

You've heard his voice on television, radio, and movie trailers for years.

Somehow his voice manages to communicate humility, unpretentiousness, intelligence and reassurance. He's able to lend a wholesome, Norman Rockwell quality to anything he narrarates.

He's a decorated World War II hero, and works with several charitable organizations.

He's Peter Thomas, now best known for his narration of PBS's Nova.

Listen to his promo mp3 here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Free Market Economy? Really?

Stocks tanked again today on credit default woes. Republicans and Chicago-schoolers will tell you "sorry folks, but you’re witnessing our glorious free market economy at work." But wait -- does the following extract-quote sound like free-market-y?

"...Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who on Thursday made clear in a speech that the central bank is poised to cut interest rates later this month."

So basically, the Fed is going to tinker with interest rates yet again to try to postpone a recession. If it works as planned, John and Jane Consumer will breathe a sigh a relief and resume purchasing poorly-made consumer products using high-interest credit cards at big box stores across the nation.

Of course, this does nothing to solve our root problem: the U.S. economy is based on the middle class buying things they can't afford, on credit terms stacked in the banks favor. It's all going to crash soon, folks, and when it does, guess who will be holding the cards? Answer: financiers in Asia and the Middle East (the same folks currently rescuing our high flying investment banks in New York).

Think the Repubs will fix everything and make it all better? Ha! Remember who sat in the White House in 1929...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


To: All Staff
From: Kyle
Re: Dallas Franks Recovery Fund

Many of you have expressed concern about the massive medical bills being incurred by our V.P. of Client Services, Dallas Franks, as he recovers from his tragic automobile wreck last week.

Regrettably, the agency's Employee Insurance Plan only covers the first $500 of bandages, x-rays and topical ointments in cases of gross bodily catastrophe. As you might imagine, Dallas' medical bills will far exceed that amount.

That's why I've made extraordinary arrangements with Lehigh Regional to help defray Dallas' medical expenses. I'm pleased to announce that the agency will cover a full 80% of his hospital bill for the next 30 days.

How can you help? Here are two ways:

First, you can donate to the Dallas Franks Recovery Fund. As an incentive, the agency will match 2% of your donation, up to the first $100. Please see our Human Resources girl, Sharon Cake, for more details.

Secondly, you can work politically to help fight the mounting costs of health care faced by the hard-working doctors of this nation. As President Bush has explained, frivolous lawsuits have left our doctors paying crushingly high insurance premiums. This crisis drives up the cost of health care for everyone, including good, honest Americans like our friend and colleague, Dallas Franks.

Please support your Republican candidates as they work to reform our crippled national health care system. They're truly concerned about the problems faced by middle-class Americans like you, me, and Dallas Franks.

Ronald Reagan once said, "It seems to me that government puts a monkey wrench in the gears of our Great Republic." Please honor both President Reagan and Dallas Franks by working together for change in '08.


Odd Lang Syne: New Year's Eve With The Flaming Lips

Here's the Oklahoman's story.
From the Local Boys Make Good Dept:

The Flaming Lips played a triumphant show New Year's Eve in their hometown, Oklahoma City, and Cami and I saw the whole thing.

Was there a greater spectacle in the entire nation that evening? It's doubtful.

Since forming around 1983, Wayne Coyne and his bandmates have plugged away far longer than anyone could have expected. In fact, the Lips have charted a strange course to stardom: instead of peaking early, then burning out, the Lips didn't hit their stride until Coyne's hair turned gray. The Lips, lead by a 46-year old man-child, have completely connected with a brand new audience, and are creating work of depth, maturity and naive wonderment that's converted new, young fans in a way bands like U2, R.E.M, and The Cure can only envy. Oh, and by the way, they've won 3 Grammys.

The Lips in 2007 bear just a passing resemblance to the band I used to watch in the early 90's. That band was a noisy, thundering 4 piece with a fondness for trippy soundscapes and obtuse lyrics. Over the years, their songs have simplified into sing-along anthems about love and death and transcendence, and their stage shows have turned into an H.R. Pufnstuf styled orgy of plushies, oversized props, and copious amounts of pure red blood. And somehow Wayne Coyne has become Oklahoma City's own Willy Wonka, gleefully leading the converted into a promised land of things wonderous.

I won't review the entire show, but I must talk about the first 15 minutes: the lights dim, the crowd whoops and hollars, and then a procession of identically dressed Santa Clauses and Elves enter the stage. A large, flashing UFO structure lowers onto the stage, while a man dressed as Captain America props up a simple aluminum ladder. Drummer Kliph Scurlock descends, followed Bassist Michael Ivins (dressed as a skeleton), and finally, multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd. Simultaneously, atop the UFO, a large plastic bubble is inflating. It contains Wayne Coyne, nattily-dressed in a suit. The crowd goes absolutely crazy as the plastic bubble fills to capacity, and Coyne rolls out of the UFO, directly into the audience. As the band plays a Wagnerian style vamp, Coyne floats among the crowd in his bubble to the absolute delight of the audience. It's a stunt I first saw in 2004 at Coachella, and it's clearly become Wayne's trademark entry.

After retaking the stage, Coyne and the band break into "Race For The Prize," probably their finest song. The lyrics, about rival epidemiologists trying to cure a dread disease, are poignant, sensitive, and, well, unusual in our current climate of lyrics about big booties and the way they shake.

Wayne then pleads with the audience to sing along to their next song ("Don't worry, the words will be on the screen"), Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." We all sing along, it's magical, it's wonderful, and I've just witnessed a glorious 15 minutes of rock and roll, and all is well.

I've seen a lot of world-class acts on a huge stage, but I've never seen a performer connect with his audience quite like Wayne Coyne. Whether you're in the front row, or section Z-99, Wayne works incredibly hard to make you feel like you're an essential part of his grand-scale art happening, and you hope the show will never end. He feels like your charismatic best friend, but as he re-enters his UFO to fly off to his next show (perhaps in Madrid?), you realize he belongs to the world now.

Mama Kitty Is Excited About Christmas

She can barely contain her enthusiasm.