Sunday, June 17, 2018

Pheaturing Joe Satriani

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday and Happy Father's Day! You-hoo! Your boss may be a total jerk, but do they recklessly throw tantrums? Yes? Well, are they constantly shirking their responsibilities and violating the law? Yeah? Okay, but are they President of the United States? A new report in Politico last Monday provides insight into the president's charming, idiosyncratic habits. In a piece appropriately titled "Meet the guys who tape Trump's papers back together," Politico introduces us to the guys who tape Trump's papers back together. Trump apparently has "an odd and enduring habit of ripping up papers when he’s done with them... what some people described as his unofficial 'filing system.'" Unfortunately for Trump and his passion for manual paper shredding, there's a thing called the Presidential Records Act, which requires the White House to preserve any memos, emails, or papers that cross the president's desk to send to the National Archives. To make sure that Trump isn't violating this particular law (don't worry, he's getting away with shirking many others), a team of government employees are tasked with taping the scraps back together. Solomon Lartey was one of the puzzle solvers until he was abruptly fired this spring. He told Politico, “We got Scotch tape, the clear kind,” Lartey recalled in an interview. “You found pieces and taped them back together and then you gave it back to the supervisor.” The restored papers would then be sent to the National Archives to be properly filed away. Lartey said the papers he received included newspaper clips on which Trump had scribbled notes, or circled words; invitations; and letters from constituents or lawmakers on the Hill, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “I had a letter from Schumer... he tore it up,” he said. “It was the craziest thing ever. He ripped papers into tiny pieces.” This is a normal president doing normal things and we live in a very normal time.
A grandmother in Memphis, Tennessee was charged with child endangerment after a video caught her putting her grandchildren in dog kennels went viral. The kids told the police that there were put in dog cages because there was no more room in the back of the car. To get the full dog experience, there were no vents in the trunk and they were likely extremely hot in the 95-degree weather. A neighbor told FOX 13 that Cheeks likely didn't know that she did anything wrong, because they seem like a happy family. "I don’t think she knew because she loves her grandkids," the neighbor told Fox. "They’re always outside playing with the dogs and stuff." Cheeks should have known better. Putting children in cages? Only the government can do that!
Actress Chloe Dykstra has penned an essay detailing her years in an emotionally abusive relationship with an ex-boyfriend who has been revealed as "The Talking Dead" host, Chris Hardwick. Although Hardwick goes unnamed in Dykstra's essay,"Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession," the actress talks about the years of abuse she suffered while dating a "mildly successful podcaster [turned] powerhouse CEO" and man "almost 20 years my senior." It didn't take people long to figure out that the man is Nerdist founder, Chris Hardwick. In the open letter published to on Thursday, Dykstra makes a number of disturbing claims against Hardwick, like saying he did not allow her to drink alcohol, forbade her from speaking to him in public, and did not allow her to have male friends. Dykstra also accused Hardwick of forcing her to engage in sex with him. She alleges that following a major surgery for a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, Hardwick’s first question to the doctor was, "When do you think I can have sex with her again?" Dykstra said she suffered an eating disorder and hair loss during the relationship, and after years of pain, finally left Hardwick for another man. But the abuse still didn't stop. After the breakup, Dykstra said that Hardwick got her blacklisted from working with several different companies by the time she was just 25-years-old. Dykstra and Hardwick announced their split in July 2014 via Twitter. Hardwick married heiress/actress Lydia Hearst in 2016. Shortly after being posted, Dykstra's essay went viral. Employees of Hardwick's soon spoke out against against their boss. On Friday, Chloe Dykstra took to Twitter to thank her numerous supporters. I like Chris Hardwick, so I hope this isn't true... but we'll see.
Although Vanessa Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are no longer a couple, the two still have each other's backs. In March, Vanessa Trump filed for divorce from Donald Trump Jr. after 12 years of marriage. Soon after, Donald Trump Jr. started stepping out with Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle. The new relationship was heavily criticized from the start, and continues to be to this day. On Wednesday, writer Linda Stasi wrote a piece for the New York Daily News titled, "Fox should fire reporter Kimberly Guilfoyle, who can't possibly stay neutral while dating a Trump kid." To put it lightly, eldest Trump son did not take kindly to the column, even going so far as to call it "sexist & racist." In the article, Stasi called Guilfoyle "an otherwise brilliant woman," but "when it comes to picking men, though, she’d be better off picking grapes." Trump Jr. argues that the grape reference offensive given Guilfoyle’s Puerto Rican heritage. Stasi later apologized in this tweet. But Donald Trump Jr. was not done there. On Thursday, he shared an article from Mediaite about the "absurd" Daily News piece. And Vanessa retweeted it and voiced her support for her ex and his new girlfriend. Some speculate that the two are able to remain friendly despite Don Jr.'s abrupt moving-on because they had been living "separate lives" for a number of months before ever filing for divorce. Annnnnd it looks like Vanessa basically confirmed that rumor in her tweet. However, it is clear that Don Jr. appreciated his ex-wife's support, and retweeted this comment from Candace Owens calling the supportive tweet "real feminism." You know what else would be "real feminism"? Closing the pay gap, hiring more women for leadership roles, not supporting a man who brags about sexual assault... but sure! It's nice that Vanessa and can get along with her ex's new girlfriend. Maybe those two will go grab brunch together or something. Girl power, right?
So, did you Betsy Byars books when you were a kid? I never heard of her but when I saw this one I was like what the hell...

I don't get it. You know, if there is a God some people sure strayed from his light...

Haha. So, how's your luck? I hope it's better than this woman's...

She looks miserable. On the last entry of the Phile I interviewed Martin Grams Jr. who wrote a book on the TV show "The Twilight Zone." Well, there was one episode of the show I wish I mentioned to him...

"Picture if you will an idiot with weapons..." Ha. Have you heard of Oral Roberts? Well, he had a magazine called Ministries that I would never think of reading until I saw this one...

Hmmm. If I had a TARDIS I would go back in time to the 70s and hang out with this guy...

And ask him if he'd like to write some songs with me. Hahahaha. "Born in the U.K.," "Dancing With the Dork." I'm so stupid. Here's another "stop weight bigotry" poster...

So, I have been telling you about the Rate My Professor website, and showing you some of the things students say about their professors. Look at this one...

I kinda want to meet this Jennifer professor. Haha. Man, those Marvel move making people sure do a good job matching the stunt men with the actors. Take a look at this...

Cool, right? So, if you are still looking for Royal Wedding souvenirs there's still some out there. Like this squad tee...

The new fab four? Some high school seniors are getting so creative with their year book quotes this year...

If you're thinking about cheating on your loved one you might think twice after you see this...

Hahahahahaha. Damn. Did you see the new IHOP poster?

That's sad. Did you ever meet a celebrity and what you're wearing is kind of a coincidence? Like this guy...

Okay, so, my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was a little kid. That show is slightly different now than it was back then... I hope.

Kermit asks Dr. Nucleus if his new robot will have an advanced A.I. The good doctor informs Kermit that wasn't what he had in mind when he created the Fuckbot 3000.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, there's this scientist who likes to come onto the Phile now and then and reveal some of his inventions he has been working on. None of them would be successful and work, but he says he has some more good ones now. I invited him back to tell us what they are. So, once again, please welcome to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Mak, welcome back to the Phile. So, what have you invented recently?

Mak: Hi, Jason, okay... are you ready?

Me: Nope, not really.

Mak: Well, you're gonna like this one... Inflatable dartboard.

Me: Ummm... I don't think that will really work, Mak, the game will be over real quick.

Mak: True, true. Okay, how about waterproof towels? You can take them to the beach.

Me: Ahhh... I had to think twice about that one. Hahaha. Nope, that would not work either.

Mak: Oh, okay, her's one for the ladies... A tampon which tells you if you're pregnant or not.

Me: I almost laughed out loud. That's sick. Do you have any more?

Mak: Yeah, I got one more... a glow in the dark pillow.

Me: Ha. Mak, good try. Come back again when you have other inventions that might be good.

Mak: Sure, Jason. Thank you.

Me: The world'd greatest inventor, Mak Asterborus everyone. Tampons that tell if you're pregnant or not. Hahahahaha. That is pretty funny, you have to admit.

Hahaha. Now for the pheature that is called for no particular reason...

In just one minute around the world, 4 Beatrix Potter books are sold, a termite queen lays up to 20 eggs, 64,583 selfies are taken by Android users, 83,300 people have sex, and about 7,150,000,000 human hearts will beat 500,500,000,000 times as their bodies create 858,282,240,000,000,000 new red blood cells.

You don't have to be British to laugh at this, but it will bloody well help.

I'm laughing just a little bit.

It was the meet-cute the world was waiting for. Two men known for their bizarre haircuts, ill-fitting suits, dynastic wealth, and presiding over the deaths of thousands of their own citizens met up at a swanky Singaporean hotel to discuss nukes. President Donald Trump met with the Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in what has already become a propaganda sizzle reel for the authoritarian Kim regime. Once your eyes have adjusted to the fact that this is real life and not a live action remake of Team America: World Police, coat your stomach with Pepto Bismol and behold the most bonkers moments. 1. When Kim Jong Un made a Jim Halpert after Trump asked the photographers, "Getting a good picture, everybody, so we look nice and handsome and thin and perfect?" 2. When Trump showed Kim the interior of the "presidential limousine," which no, is not a euphemism. It's almost as cool as a truck. 3. When someone in Kim's entourage had to make sure a pen was safe for Kim to touch. 4. When Trump showed Kim Jong Un an absolutely bonkers FAKE MOVIE TRAILER complete with a Hollywood voiceover, pitching the story of "two men, two leaders, one destiny." Trump personally showed it to his new friend, and the White House played it before the president's press conference. “We had it made up," Trump said. "I showed it to him today, actually during the meeting, toward the end of the meeting and I think he loved it." 5. When Trump was noticeably friendlier towards a dictator than he was towards America's allies. 6. When Trump complimented Kim Jong Un as "talented" (his talents include killing people). 7. When Trump seemed to pitch Kim a Trump Tower Pyongyang. 8. When Trump said that they're starting denuclearization quickly, but also that it takes a long time, "scientifically." 9. When Trump said that they "ran out of time" to actually discuss dismantling missile launch sites. 10. When Trump insisted that the summit will be good for the approximately 200,000 people Kim has in labor camps, even though they never came up. 11. When Trump spoke very, very highly of the new bromance. 12. When Trump was reminded that Kim Jong Un is a dictator who runs labor camps, starves his people and assassinates members of his own family and said, "I'm given what I'm given, okay?" 13. When Trump said that the summit would not have happened had the Kim regime not tortured American college student Otto Warmbier to death.

The 82nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Comedy legend and author Kip Addotta will be the guest on the Phile in a few weeks. Now for some...

Phact 1. The band blink-182 officially named their holding company Poo Poo Butt Inc. “We did it because it was the most immature, dumbest thing ever,” DeLonge said. “We thought it would be funny to have our accountants, managers, and attorneys having to say that over the phone every day.”

Phact 2. An 86-year-old wrote an upbeat review for her local paper about a new Olive Garden. She was mercilessly mocked by the Internet. Anthony Bourdain thought she had a valuable POV on small-town dining. So he published a book of her reviews.

Phact 3. Phyllis from “The Office” would pay bills and do Christmas shopping online from the office computers in the background.

Phact 4. Danny Trejo was addicted to heroin by age 12 and served time in San Quentin prison until he was 25. He’s now been over 70 films and has a brand of restaurants, bars, and donuts shops valued around $100 million. All his businesses hire what he calls “second chancers” like he was.

Phact 5. Raccoons in an experiment were able to open 11 of 13 locks in fewer than 10 tries and had no problems repeating the action when the locks were rearranged or turned upside down. They could also remember the solutions to tasks for 3 years.

This is so cool... today's pheatured guest is an is an instrumental rock guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. His latest album "What Happens Next" is available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. Please welcome to the Phile, the great... Joe Satriani.

Me: Hey, Joe, welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you? 

Joe: Very good today. Thanks for having me.

Me: I didn't know you were from Long Island, Joe. What part of the Island are you from?

Joe: Westbury, Long Island.

Me: I grew up in Port Jefferson, ever go out there?

Joe: Yeah, all the time. Great town.

Me: Cool! Let's talk about the documentary Beyond the Supernova first. How did this project start and tell us what it's about.

Joe: Yeah, it was in a film festival and was a fantastic weekend. These things take a long time and it was a year in the making. I invited my son ZZ to film some background footage that I thought would be an end of tour concert DVD. It was good moment for him as well to take a break from the work he was doing and just hang out with the crew, me and my wife and have some fun in Europe on tour. We started to catch some really interesting footage and as the months followed after that particular leg of the tour I started to feel like I didn't want to do a live concert DVD. I've done so many and they're extremely expensive and they don't really move in the marketplace like they used to. Even the biggest bands and artists out there sell very few and from the artists point of view it's a huge expense. I think I should be spending that on making another album instead of documenting old stuff. Plus everybody films every concert anyway so I know people go home and got their own stuff filmed on their phones. As we keep looking at this footage ZZ and I started to brain storm the idea that there was something else going on here that would make a much better film than us playing some greatest hits and some new songs. What he ended up was discovering there was this narrative that was coming out that had me coming to the end of a creative cycle and the then current release, the "Shockwave Supernova" album, which had it's own narrative of me facing up this alter ego that had been growing since my semi overnight success, and how I was trying to get rid of it. When I was making that album I revved up that whole observation and sort of fictionalized it in a way, almost like it was about an artist whose alter ego becomes so real it takes over the real personality and they sort of have a battle internally. A battle of wits. The real artist wins out and convinces the alter ego that they had to surrender. It was an interesting device to organize a big group of instrumentals that would have some kind of narrative thread.

Me: Were you surprised how the documentary turned out?

Joe: Yeah, I was a little surprised on how true what I had thought and that the artistic turmoil wasn't problem, it's what we call fun. It became obvious to ZZ that there was this turmoil going on and I was widening towards trying to shed or at least come to grips with that alter ego enough so I could move forward wit the new record and take another left turn with my career which is exciting. That became the narrative of the film.

Me: Did your son come up with the title, Joe?

Joe: Yeah, he came up with the title and this approach to capturing what really happens on tour 'cause he's been following us around since he was 4-years-old. The shows and comradery behind the scenes long with this external struggle that I carry with me while all this other stuff is happening.

Me: When you first saw the film what did you think?

Joe: I was so happy sitting in the audience at the theater listening to all the theater goers around me laughing and charring at the right moments in the film. They were really picking up the stuff in the heart and soul of the movie. It confirmed the fact that ZZ found the real story and brought that narrative out. It's not easy because we are not actors or anything, we're just a bunch of goofy musicians.

Me: You must be very proud of your son, Joe. I would be. So, was it awkward watching yourself on the screen?

Joe: Yes, extremely awkward. I don't like hearing the sound of my voice coming back at me and certainly the image is really hard to take. This goes back a year when ZZ started to show me the footage he was getting. I know he was wondering if I was going to let him show me like this. I looked at it and thought I can't put on an act on front of my own son so this is what it has to be, I have to let him get on film what he's actually seeing, and he's seeing the truth. I had to take a deep breath and say yep, that's me.

Me: Did you get used to it by now?

Joe: Yeah, I had 12 months to get used to it but its still a bit tough. I will tell you what was exciting in the film, walking on stage in little theater being interviewed by one the film festival journalists standing there with my son. I was nervous standing on stage without a guitar and without my band with me. It wasn't lost on me that was is captured in the film is this struggle of a really shy person that's got an extraverted side of him that I use to allow me to play music. When I don't have my guitar on I'm a fish out of water.

Me: Joe, that reminds me of my dad and his stage alter ego. At home he was always just dad or Dave and very shy and reserved, but on stage he was Lonesome Dave. Two very different people. Let's talk about your new album "What Happens Next," which is a great title. You recorded it with Glen Hughes and one of my favorite drummers from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chad Smith who you work with Chickenfoot. How did you get to work with these guys on this album?

Joe: I think this goes back to the last two Chickenfoot shows that we did up in Lake Tahoe. They were the usual out of control Chickenfoot events. No rehearsal, everybody flies in from what they're doing, and we agree to try to be as awesome as possible for the fans. It's kind of a celebration of the idea of Chickenfoot more than it is a professional show. There's always cameras around and it's always a bit if a circus, but once we start playing there is a connection of the four of us that is really strong and I notice it right away. I remember thinking as I was on this last half of the Surfing the Shockwave tour the memory of those gigs as it happened right in the middle of the tour was really strong. I felt it like I walked away from a great party and my body still feels great, like I still have the party in me. I kept thinking I want that to continue somehow but I know Chickenfoot is one of the hardest bands to tie down and be organized. We can't be organized. It's part of our charm. I was thinking maybe this is what I'm trying to do next because I keep asking myself "what are you going to do next, Joe?" I was thinking of that's what I'm feeling the natural inclination is to relive that somehow but with new material. Maybe it's with Chad, maybe that's the thing. The last 3 albums had three different drummers on them, and I've been searching for something. Each time I made an album I felt very complete, like okay, I've done that with that group, now let me move on to the next. I just sort of sent a random text to Chad, I knew he was out in Europe with the Chili Peppers and I said, "How about this? You, me..." and it just popped in my head "Glen Hughes rock and soul, all instrumental, no weird time signatures, have lots of fun and make a rock record?" He sent me a positive response right away. "Yeah, let's do it it, let's figure out how and when." Then I had to reach out to Glen and ask him to do it. He was ready to do it right away at the drop of there hat. We had the Chili Pepper touring schedule, Black Country Communion and Glen's solo stuff to deal with. As it happened 2 weeks off from doing the tour in April I had to fly down to L.A. and record with those guys. It took a week because it was the time in 2017 I was going to get them in the same room together. Instead if waiting a few months I just had to make it happen right away. It added to the excitement of the sessions.

Me: Did you write the songs before hand or did you all write together when you were in the studio? 

Joe: No, I brought them material. I actually sent them all 12 songs that I recorded at home. The real work came when I returned from Singapore at the end of Surfing the Shockwave tour. I just got so busy. I literally took a day off to recover from the jet lag. I went into my little study and just started cranking out these pieces. I had tons of half songs written, I had a few that were completely written but not sure if they would fit the overall group but within a week I had to pull all that together and send them the demos so they could get prepared. They were also as I mentioned before in the middle of gigs.

Me: How did you write these songs, Joe? Did you write them with their styles in mind?

Joe: Yeah, I love the mental image of the actual band that I'm going to be recording with to help bring out special performances. If I had a song like "Energy" that leads off the new record to start to arrange it and I have a drummer whose very timid, I might think this isn't going to work with this. The arrangement of the song depends so much not only on the drummer but the bass player. All being super stars, with guitar bass and drums it just seems like everyone is going for it all at once. If I had a band that really didn't shine that way then I think I would definitely arrange the song so as not to expose that and try to being out what is their better attributes. The songs remains the song but my question begs the answer leads to the arrangement.

Me: What did you feel like in the studio with these guys? It must of been cool.

Joe: I felt like it came to cart blanche when it came to super high energy outrageous rockstar performances. Soul groove, which again Chad is one of those drummers that is equally super rock as he is super funky. He's the kind of guy that can create total mayhem on he drum kit. At the same time he realizes some songs need the deepest groove ever. He makes everything sound so human and natural. It's never over technical sounding. Although he has complete command of what he's doing he always make it sound like the drummer you want to hang out with. Glen is the same way. His singing voice, his musical heart and the way he plays bass they're all one. I never met a bass player like that before, where they're just completely unified in all aspects of musical being.

Me: Believe it or not I don't know a lot about Glen, Joe. I know he might be on the Phile soon. Is there anything you can tell me about him that's cool?

Joe: There's one little anecdote about Glen that's important... it's the first album he has done where he doesn't sing. He couldn't help himself, we'll be sitting there going over arrangements and he'd just be singing. He'd just be making up melody lines or answering my melody lines by harmonizing. All was great and there were many times I thought this should be a vocal record, we just need like a month to rewrite everything, I started jotting down everything he was scat singing, and I thought all these ideas are really great and I know he's not playing that because he doesn't want to crowd me. He was being respectful. So, I wrote them down and one afternoon we were just reviewing all the bass performance I would bring up that piece of paper and say, "Glen, you know the other day when we were doing the song you were singing this line in between my melody and I thought it was beautiful. "Can you play that?" He goes, "What did I sing?" I sang the line to him and he just played it like instantly and it sounded like his voice, just on the bass guitar. So freaky. So we decided we got to record all this stuff. I thought he was amused we had him record all his vocal tidbits. We said go crazy, go Glen Hughes over the whole thing. That was fun, and I would never have done that with other musicians.

Me: You should of had him sing and call the band Chickensoup, Okay, so, tell me about this G3 tour thing. You've been doing these tours for a long time. Are these tours fun to do?

Joe: Physically they're a lot less strenuous because I'm not required to be on stage for 2 and half hours, which has always been the most difficult part of those shows, I just have to play so much guitar every night. The G3 shows are just a little bit shorter and you'll be surprised, I shave 20 minutes off a show and my left band really appreciates it. We'll do 6 shows a week and we'll play 8 weeks straight. It piles up after awhile. That part is kind of cool. The other thing is we generally get to play cover songs on the G3 shows which we never do during the regular concerts. We really try to bring as much of my catalogue to the fans, that's what they like to hear. We don't get to celebrate by playing all those crazy cover songs we love to play. G3 is more of a celebration of the guitar, less about the career that's happening of the person at the moment. Which is liberating for all three of us. We get to relax a little bit. Once in awhile one of us will have an album that's coming out at the same time which is interesting. It moves around, I've done so many G3's only are times I had a new record. I get very excited each night that I'm going to show up and in some way like I know it's going to be Phil or John, I know they are going to do something on a random Tuesday night that's going to make my head turn. I'm going to go wow, I love that, I'm going to ask him how he did that when the shows over. That's just the kid in me that just wants to play the guitar better no matter what.

Me: I'm going to be interviewing Phil Collin tomorrow, Joe. I know him from Def Leppard obviously but nothing about his new band Delta Deep, or the man himself. What do you know about him?

Joe: I don't know Phil that well. I know he's an amazing player and a great human being and seems to really love music.

Me: Okay, so, I first discovered or heard about you when I saw the album "Surfing With the Alien" at Peaches record shop. That must of been like 30 years ago. Does it still surprise you that you are one of the first of that generation to make a living of doing instrumental music? I said it before here on the Phile I am not a big instrumental fan, but you are a legend, sir.

Joe: Yeah, it's amazing, not for a second do I take it for granted. I wake up every day just thinking wow. I'm still excited about making music for an art and that's exactly what everyone is letting me do. I've had great relationships with the two labels that I've dealt with. I've been with the Sony group for a very long time since late '95. They've been a great help to me because they've always come to the table asking what do I want to do, they want to help me do it and that's great. I always tried when I was just able to work on it on my own, and reach out when I needed help on getting things done. That's what big labels are great at. They're a group of talented people that have so much experience that if you have technical question someone at Legacy/Sony can answer your question. They also sit there and listen to me throw out crazy ideas.

Me: Has your career gone by quick? I've been working at Disney for 30 years and that went by quick.

Joe: There are times where it went agonizly slow and then there are moments where I say slow down, this is actual fun. The bad moments are always those technical moments where stuff goes wrong. No matter what business you're in stuff goes wrong. There's always problem solving every day that we all go through. Those tend to drag out the moments. I think when it comes to making the music I still really love everything about that. The traveling part that's when I sort of question my very existence. When I'm stuck on the tarmac somewhere like Russia or something... and I've been there for 4 hours. When I'm stuck in Mumbai and I got to get off the plane and stay in a hotel for 2 days. I don't have any luggage and I'm like why am I here? That kind of stuff just comes with the territory. I've always found salvation comes from the people around me. It's always the case where they are interesting people around me where I can share the experience with. That's all we got. We are only here for a very short amount of time, life is short and we are all in it together. It's during those moments where I feel it's important to reach out to whoever you are with, share the experience. It's not so bad.

Me: Joe, thanks so much for being on the Phile, I hope this was fun and you'll come back on the Phile. Take care, sir.

Joe: Great. Thank you so much.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Joe Satriani for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Phil Collin from Deal Deep and... Def Leppard. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Have a great Father's Day.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

Monday, June 11, 2018

Pheaturing Martin Grams Jr.

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you doing? Man, IHOP is rebranding in a big way. Earlier this month, the International House of Pancakes announced their plans to scrub the 'P' from their abbreviated title and replace it with a 'B.' However, the restaurant chain did not reveal what the 'B' would stand for until this morning. Of course, everyone assumed that the 'B' would stand for 'breakfast,' but everyone who assumed that was dead wrong.

Yep. IHOB stands for the International House of Burgers. Vegetarians everywhere are shaking right now. IHOP changes its name to IHOB. Along with the name change, IHOB also announced their new, burger-centric menu, which includes seven new varieties of steak burgers including a Jalapeno Kick burger, a Mushroom Swiss burger and a Mega Monster burger.  What to do you think of the new International House of Burgers? Will the name stick or is this all one elaborate marketing ploy? Will they finally come up with a hamburger patty between two pancakes!? I just made that up, but if you decide to use that, please pay me IHOB. 
Catching a solid Freudian slip is fun no matter what. But catching a Freudian slip that shades Trump coming from the mouth of a "Fox and Friends" host?! That, my friends, is a priceless moment to both witness and savor. On June 10th, during a "Fox and Friends" segment discussing the president's upcoming summit meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, host Abby Huntsman had a beautiful slip of the tongue when she called Trump a dictator. "This is history. Regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators, what we are seeing right now... this is history," Huntsman said. The shady and deeply accurate Freudian slip went without comment or correction, since Huntsman's guest was the former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. It's likely that The Mooch was too busy fantasizing about photoshopping Steve Bannon into the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and thus, didn't even notice Trump was called a dictator on national Conservative television. "He’s a disruptive risk taker. He’s willing to break what would be the usual bonds of not going to a meeting like this," Scaramucci responded, blissfully unmoved by the moment. While Scaramucci didn't seem to give a nod to Huntsman's accidental shade, a whole lot of people on noticed the moment. You know it's gotten dark when even Fox is calling a spade a spade, or in this case, a dictator a dictator. 
Chris Mau was out on a walk with his 8-month-old daughter, Kali, when he realized she needed her diaper changed. He popped into a McDonald's in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and was greeted by an all-too-familiar sight for dads... a men's bathroom without a changing table in it. Frustrated, Mau took to Facebook to air his grievances. "I'm getting pretty sick of having to change my daughter on a disgusting floor because the only changing table in the place is located in the women's bathroom. It's crazy to imagine I know but there are guys who take care of their kids too you asshats," wrote the 33-year-old father of four. "If it's a public place with public restrooms in the generation of equality among genders and races then how about making sure us fathers can change our children's diapers on a goddamn changing table like the mother's can. Am I asking too much?" In his post, Mau also explained that he walked to the McDonald's with his family, so he could not change Kali's diaper in the car. There was also no counter space in the men's bathroom. Parents everywhere commented to commiserate with Mau. At time of publication, Chris Mau's Facebook post went completely viral and has been shared over 144,000 times. Mau elaborated on the incident by creating a post on Love What Matters, "Almost everyone who has reached out to me has agreed that this problem is a stupid problem to have, but a problem all the same. It’s solution is simple to install and rather cheap, so in this day and age there is no excuse to why there isn’t a changing station in every public place with public restrooms," added Mau. "After all, being a parent is the most challenging and rewarding job you’ll ever have, and with the good will come the bad, but to have to form a last second plan for a diaper change in a public bathroom that decided not to install a changing station is unnecessarily unacceptable. It takes an entire village to raise a child. I honestly hope this post will reach all the right people and good things come of it for all parents and children alike." 
It's one hundred percent true that racism is a huge problem in this country. But recently a picture of a group of teen girls went viral because people thought it was racist even though it really wasn't. In this case, it was important to know the whole story before getting outraged. 

The teen girls were a group of Santa Fe students who'd been given tickets to a Houston Rockets game. All the girls (all white) were holding hands, but one girl stood alone, and she was black. And some people assumed it was because the other girls were racist and didn't want to touch her. One person tweeted...

And that tweet went viral, receiving over 100,000 likes. And other people were quick to point to racism, too. Other folks on Twitter advised that people not jump to conclusions. The whole thing got so out of hand that the girl's mother stepped in and tried to set the record straight. She tweeted,...

Of course, that wasn't enough for some people, like this person who asked if the girls were here friends, then why weren't they holding her hand? And once again, mom took the time to explain, "My daughter didn't want to cry before she had to sing [the national anthem] and holding hands would have caused her to start crying that's the story nothing about race." And THEN someone had the audacity to ask for proof that the girl was even her daughter (because her mother is white). And even though she didn't have to, the girl's mother tweeted a picture of the whole family together. She slyly added that she would not be sharing her daughter's birth certificate. Someone else wondered how the girl would learn about being black if she was in a white family, with all the attendant privilege that affords them. Her mom had the perfect comeback, "I let her read these posts. Y'all are doing a damn good job." Finally, the girl, named Nicole, posted a video of her own, using her mom's Twitter account. In it, she says, "I'm the one who was singing the national anthem. This IS my mother. And no, not the whole town is racist. So please stop calling my friends 'racist assholes.'" Her sister, who is also white, appears briefly in the video, and jokingly holds her hand. But some people still just wouldn't let it go, saying the image looked like a case of racism. That one got a reply from someone who pointed out that the picture cropped out other girls not holding hands. Lots of people supported the family. Someone posted a picture of his own family and told Nicole's mom, "Keep being an example." Despite all the hubbub, Nicole's mom tweeted that the post had shown her that were "some awesome people out there." 
Most of us, at some point or another, have had the uncomfortable experience of having to fend off the advances of someone we're definitely not interested in. Especially if you're a woman... but also if you're a man. Feminism!!!!!!! Sometime, no matter how many times you call someone "buddy!" or curve away their advances, they still feels entitled to your phone number at the end of the night. So now you're in the uncomfortable position of having to give your phone number to someone you've been trying to avoid all evening like HPV in your 20's!? And much like HPV, creeps often prevail. Which is why this woman's "solution" to the problem went viral. Someone who goes by @tricookingqueen on Twitter shared four fake "hotline" numbers to give to creeps who ask. Her tweet was retweeted over 100,000 times (before you get your hopes up, like I did, only the first number actually works as promised)...  

Except for the first one, the numbers aren't real. The Internet is a garbage heap full of shiny lies. But the rejection hotline works! And if you need backup, there is also a real phone number, the Feminist Phone Intervention Line, that you can give to the next creep who tries to get your digits. That number is: 669-221-6251 If you call or text, you get an automatically-generated message with a quote from bell hooks, the pen name of feminist author and activist Gloria Jean Watkins. If you want to help a lot of people, share this number with every woman (and man! and non-binary person!) you know. Trust me, they're going to need it one day. 
I was thinking, instead of doing this blog thing I should be listening to this album...

Ummm... maybe not. You know, some people just strayed too far from "Gods" light... 

Ummm... moving on... Okay, I've said this before, there's one thing about the Internet that rocks is you can see porn for free. But the problem with that is someone might go look at porn and forget about reading the Phile. So, I thought what if I showed a porn pic here. Then I thought what about if you are at work or school... I don't want you to get in trouble. So, I came up with a solution...

You're welcome. Here's another "stop weight bigotry" poster...

Man, those Marvel people sure do a good job with their stunt man doubles...

Maybe. So, there's still some Royal Wedding souvenirs if you are interested. Like these Harry and Meghan handmade earrings...

It looks just like them! Some high school seniors are really killing it with their high school year books this year.

Hmmm... I don't quite get it. Hey, are you a fan of the movie Solo? Well, there's a new Mexican version coming out...

Hahahahaha. If you're thinking of cheating on your loved one you might want to think twice after seeing this...

Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Things Heard At A Pride Celebration
5. Happy Pride month! Don't forget to draw a rainbow on your doorpost before sundown so Mike Pence passes over your house.
4. Can't believe no one has said this yet... HAPPY PRIDE MONTH to the Loch Ness Monster, who is a lesbian.
3. Ariana Grande let her ponytail down and Reese Witherspoon is coming back for Legally Blonde 3? Pride Month is LIT it really is over for the heteros.
2. It's Pride Month which means every time I utter the phrase "I'm gay" you have to stand up and clap.
And the number one thing heard at a Pride celebration is...
1. I hope that Frog and Toad are having a great Pride Month.

Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, now for a pheature titled for no particular reason...

It rains diamonds on Saturn. Lightning storms turn methane into soot that hardens into chunks of falling diamonds. This could be the most popular form of precipitation in the solar system, because scientists think it also happens on Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune.

Why don't toothpaste companies make a drowsy toothpaste wo when you brush before bed it helps you sleep?

Despite having the best words, President Donald Trump sure doesn't know what a lot of them mean. On June 7th's morning tweetstorm covering topics from Debbie Wasserman Schultz's email server to wishing Kim Kardashian's friend Alice Johnson "a wonderful life!" Trump pulled an Alanis Morissette and misused the word "ironic."

Um, couple of things. Trump decided to emphasize the fact that he misused the words by also defying the laws of capitalization and writing "ironic" with a capital I. As the dictionary so generously pointed out, the definition of "ironic" is not whatever you want it to mean, Mr. President. It's just like that time Alanis Morissette sang a whole song called "Ironic" listing circumstances that were merely unfortunate but not ironic, the misuse of "ironic" actually being ironic. The tweet also begs another question. Who is America's enemy: dictator King Jong Un or the neighbors to the north?

A blind guy on a bar stool shouts to the bartender, "Wanna hear a blonde joke?" In a hushed voice, the guy next to him says, “Before you tell that joke, you should know something. Our bartender is blonde, the bouncer is blonde. I’m a 6 foot tall, 200 pound black belt. The guy sitting next to me is 6 foot 2, weighs 225, and he’s a rugby player. The fella to your right is 6 foot 5, pushing 300, and he’s a wrestler. Each one of us is blonde. Think about it, mister. Do you still wanna tell that joke?" The blind guy says, “Nah, not if I’m gonna have to explain it five times."

Today's guest is the author of "The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic," the 81st book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Martin Grams Jr.

Me: Hey, Martin, welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you?

Martin: Thanks, I've read this blog a lot so it's fun to be a guest on it now.

Me: Cool. You have authored sooooo many books about TV shows and such. Your book "The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic" is the 81st book to be pheatured on the Phile's Book Club. What led you to write about "The Twilight Zone"?

Martin: Actually I've written books on a number of subjects from "The Green Hornet" to "The Shadow" and "The Time Tunnel." "The Twilight Zone" I just came across a bunch of material about Rod Serling that had never been published and was not open to the public. I realized wow, there's enough material here that should go public. So, it's kind of what any researcher does, go on an archeological dig and publish the findings and viola. I didn't realize the book was going to take off the way it did.

Me: What kind of access did you have researching the book?

Martin: Letters, different archive items. The records that I was going through were like his corporate financial records, day to day production sheets so they knew exactly where to film on location. Critics by Serling in later years, there's stuff he toyed out for "TV Guide" he never published like ideas he came up for the stories.

Me: How long did it take you to put the book together?

Martin: The time I decided to do the book until the time it got published... about 8 months.

Me: What was the process like?

Martin: The process was kind of simple, anything was pretty much organized by file, date, years. But of course I had to review and read everything. It was kind of like data entry, I typed it all into a computer, put it into a date base. I had grammatical proofreaders go through to make me look like an English professor.

Me: What is some of the information you discovered, Martin?

Martin: There's so much material. If someone wanted to know where a microphone was on screen, and it shouldn't of happened, but it accidentally happened twice. Right down to why they have two different titles for one episode and two episodes why they were filmed twice and footage from both production were edited together to make one episode. There was so much trivia.

Me: What was one of the coolest things you discovered?

Martin: If you're familiar with "The Mighty Casey" from the first season hey actually filmed it not with Jack Warden but with Paul Douglas. Douglas passed away and Serling said, "We can't air this, not with Douglas being his last TV appearance." The network said, "No, you can air it. He signed on to do it, he played it good, it's just good enough." Serling said it just didn't feel right. Out of his own expense, not out of CBS's expense he had the entire film done a second time with Jack Warden playing the role.

Me: You studied the music from the TV show as well. What was it about the music that made it stand out?

Martin: Rod Serling was blessed with a number of musicians like Bernard Herrmann who were very gifted musicians and who one out of three episodes strike a chord and it really goes deep. Many times people who were on a cheaper budget for TV shows would generally out together a music score that was just good enough and it was used. Most people don't know it but in the 1950s CBS had built up a stock library of music. Originally they started using the music from that and the musicians said, "You got to give us a job here. You can't just use music you saved up in a library for your productions." So a bunch of lawsuits occurred and the result was the judge said fine. Thirteen episodes for every television show ever made had to have original music scores. The rest could be stock library. If you look at it, anything from "I Love Lucy," to "The Andy Griffith Show," to this case "The Twilight Zone" if you do the math and check into it 13 episodes of a season of a show had an original score composed the rest is all stock music that they were using over and over. A lot of times you might notice the same music cues from one episode would be used for another episode because it was a strong emphasis on one scene and you might think that sounds familiar. Of course CBS built up such a stock library in the 1970s when Himan Brown did "CBS Radio Mystery Theater" the radio program he used the CBS stock library and you can hear a lot of the same music cues he used in those episodes.

Me: Okay, there's so many episodes we can talk about, Martin, and I haven't seen a whole lot. Pick an episode and tell us a little tidbit about it that most people wouldn't know.

Martin: Okay. "The Invaders." That episode was basically an all music episode. Some of those music cues pop up later third, fourth, and fifth season episodes but only cues. I don't know why they didn't recycle so much more of it because it it was a great score. I know Agnes Moorehead, she was hired to play the role only because he had done a radio drama in the the 40s called "Sorry Wrong Number" which is almost a one woman performance and the producer talked to the director and said, "It'll be funny if we had the woman who was known for talking for most of the role play the role of the silent woman. No dialogue whatsoever." The trick part she was supposed to be an alien at the end, and the whole time you watch the episode you think she was from Earth. They said, "That's half the confusion. If she doesn't say a word like it says in the script you'll never suspect anything. When she speaks English you'll go wait a second, she speaks English too." Th trickier part was how do they create little aliens to invade and at the end to be human. They said, "The only way we can do this is with space suits. It'll be realistic enough." Apparently the director, Douglas Hayes, he's driving to the studio one day and he passes a Michelin and sees the Michelin Tire Man. He goes, "Bingo. I know what to make it look like." He goes to do the little conceptual sketches, they make the little hand puppets and it was exactly how they sketched it and that's how they came about having those little suits.

Me: Did they ever reuse props like they did music?

Martin: Funny enough in "The Invaders" the saucer was originally created as a prop for Forbidden Planet, in 1956 on MGM. If you notice with a lot of the props you'll see a lot of stuff from The Time Machine and Forbidden Planet recycled on that. This was the case where they took the model and slapped the U.S. Air Force sticker on the side of it and they said good enough, that will represent the United States of America on planet Earth. They used that prop a number of times.

Me: So many guest stars appeared throughout the show. What are some of the most memorable ones?

Martin: Well, Burgess Meredith did 4 and Jack Klugman did 4, so they both are tied for the most number of appearances. Klugman told me personally the one thing he always admired was he you got to do a Rod Serling script for "The Twilight Zone" you had a really meaty role. You weren't in there to do like most 50s television dramas. With those shows you were the guest appearance on screen for 5 minutes of a 25 minute episode. If you look at it he's got a point. Burgess Meredith was basically the lead star, Roddy McDowall is pretty much the lead star, Anges Moorehead was the lead star. That's why Klugman said every time he got the phone call for "The Twilight Zone" he said he'll take it, he never read the script in advance. It was one of the roles with everybody in Hollywood wanted to do that show.

Me: How popular was the show back then?

Martin: It wasn't as big as a name as you think it is today, it was at 10:30 on Friday night on CBS so it really didn't have the ratings it could have if CBS had given it a better time slot. But it gained cult status over the years and when the stars became famous for other programs like Peter Falk did the episode "The Mirror" and eventually became Columbo. If he hadn't gotten "Columbo" he would of been one of those support actors that you don't know today but you see a lot.

Me: How did Rod Serling create "The Twilight Zone"?

Martin: Well, he liked science fiction and he always liked fantasy. He wanted his own weekly anthology but he also wanted to tell the stories like on "Playhouse 90" and "Kraft Theater." The censors and networks would go through and clean the scripts up to a point he said they were unrecognizable. He figured if he could be the producer of his own show, he was called the associate producer on this, he had a say of what would and not be on the program. It was a little bit unusual at the time but is now standard today. In 1959 it wasn't and CBS did not want to spend a lot of money on the show. A situation comedy would have cost about $45,000 and that is recycling the same living room set over and over. For "The Twilight Zone" they had to have a different set each time. They couldn't use the same living room set week after week so the budget had to go up. He fought with CBS and I think the first season the average cost per episode was about 95,000. CBS owned 50% of the show and Rod Serling owned 50%. He paid for half of it which was the cost of a regular program. Serling did make a profit as a result and it made him quite a wealthy person in the long run. He sold out in '64 but no one knew reruns were going to be profitable. He had a larger budget than most programs, he was blessed with that. Being associate producer he had a say with story, production, cost, and when CBS put their foot down on the ground and said look, if you can't do it for less than 80,000 and they paid 40,000 he could still pay the difference and not harm the quality of production. So he basically got a gift horse in the mouth.

Me: Is it true that the show was shot on video?

Martin: Long story short there are 6 episodes on the second season that are video taped. The purpose of the video tape was it cost budget decision. Basically CBS at that time had opened up Television City in Los Angeles. They created a studio to film indoors and they could tape a scene and rerecord over them and that is what they would do. I said normally 45,000 spent on a comedy CBS thought that was a good profit, and when they were spending that money themselves they were only getting 50% of the profits for "The Twilight Zone" they kept pushing Rod Serling to doing one man performances. Which is why you see "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room" and "The Invaders" and so on. Then they convinced him to do a half a dozen episodes on video which Rod Serling always said was a horrible decision but he went with them because he wanted to keep them happy. At the end of the half dozen they thought it worked out well, he said no, he didn't like it and there was a little dispute. He eventually said, "Fine, whatever you guys want, I'm leaving and we're not going to do anymore on video tape and I'll pay the difference if necessary." Apparently he won that decision but that's why you see some episodes that look like they were shot on video tape.

Me: You have a blogspot, Martin. What are some things you out on it?

Martin: I try to put stuff that is interesting. I like your blog a lot.

Me: Thanks. What's the story of the film fest you put on, Martin? This is kinda cool.

Martin: My wife and I put it on every year in September to support the St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Me: That is cool. Martin, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back and I'll put one of your other books in the Phile's Book Club.

Martin: Thank you, Jason.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Martin Grams Jr. for an interesting interview. The Phile will back next Sunday with the Father's Day entry pheaturing legendary guitarist Joe Satriani. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker