Monday, February 1, 2016

Pheaturing Phile Alum Alexis Babini

Rabbit. Welcome to the Phile, kids, for a Monday... it's February 1st. Happy Extremely Awkward Black History Month to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Okay, so, today I am gonna do something different which I will never do again. Today's guest Alexis Babini asked me if this entry if it could be an "exclusive" entry with just his interview? "This is so I can easily share it.... I have a few thousand followers across social media and would love if I could share it to them." he said. I thought long and hard about this and agreed that I would start off with his interview and do the rest of the stuff like monologue and everything afterwards. Yeah, I'm too nice. So, here we go... Ugh.

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum whose latest single "Shut up and Kiss Me" is available on iTunes. He also founded a band called The Little Mermen that performs Disney songs. Please welcome back to the Phile... Alexis Babini.

Me: Alexis, welcome back to the Phile, man. How have you been?

Alexis: Doing great, thanks for having me back, Jason!

Me: So, you have been pretty busy, Alexis, since I had you here last. You played with Blues Traveler, Boz Scaggs, The Verve Pipe to name a few. is there a favorite band or musician you have opened for? Anybody you wish you could open for?

Alexis: I've opened for so many folks over the years... From Blues Traveler to Cody Simpson. I've been really lucky and learned a ton about the hard work it takes to put on a large scale show. While I can't wait to collaborate with more major-selling artists I have to admit I don't spend too much time wishing that I could open for people. In my ideal dream show I'm the headliner not the opener. That being said I saw in the news that Amy Schemer opened for Madonna last year... This was right around the time Amy started getting really well-known. What a powerhouse of a show that must have been! To me this was a very interesting concept: a rising comedian opening for a superstar music artist. So let's flip it and have me open for a famous comedian.

Me: You are opening for me right now in a way. Ha! Which comedian would you like to open for?

Alexis: I'd love to open for Louis C.K!

Me: You are from New York I believe, but where do you live now?

Alexis: I'm currently based in NYC.

Me: I love the song and video for "Shut Up and Kiss Me." Was that song written with somebody in mind?

Alexis: Thank you. Yes, it was.

Me: Okay, let's chat about your side project The Little Mermen... So, did you found this band, Alexis?

Alexis: Yes. The Little Mermen are a cover band that I perform with as the front man. We play classic Disney tunes reimagined as rock and roll. The Mermen and I have been selling out the small clubs of NYC. Here's a link to our video from last Halloween: Here's a link to our video that went viral thanks to us getting featured on BuzzFeed, MTV News, and Disney's blog:

Me: Who is in the band with you?

Alexis: I started this band with some close friends that I've played music with since I was a teenager. Two of the folks in the group actually played in my high school band back when I was just a little Babinibaby. I'm in a very lucky position because I went to music school with Berklee alumni that are now full time musicians in NYC. Some of whom play in the pit bands on popular Broadway shows. For example, one of the drummers I collaborated with on my last album is currently the drum sub for "The Lion King." So in addition to selling out shows we have special guests like this in store for the audience. This really takes the excitement factor to another next level.

Me: And who came up with the band name?

Alexis: This is something I can also take credit for... I had a few names bouncing around in my head... All puns... I remember The Lyin' Kings being one of them. Once I thought of The Little Mermen the rest was history!

Me: So, this band you play versions of Disney songs, right? What songs do you play?

Alexis: My new favorite is "Bare Necessities"... That song gets real bluesy. Other popular songs we have done include "Colors of The Wind" re-imagined as 80s rock. Our version of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" sounds it could be a hit for the band Weezer. Most cover bands strive to get their music sounding as close to the original recordings as possible but we have a different task at hand. My job is to take these songs, rearrange them for a band, then The Little Mermen and I transform it into a rock show while still being faithful to the original material. I got really excited when Ryan Adams covered the songs of Taylor Swift's "1989" in his style because that is pretty much the exact approach I'm taking to the Disney canon. I had a similar thought process when I heard that John Mayer had joined the Grateful Dead and is putting his own musical style on their catalogue of songs. 

Me: What has been the reaction from this band, Alexis? And where do you guys play?

Alexis: There are a few Disney meet up groups and popular blogs based in the city that have responded well to us. That has really helped us get the word out. It's been very vindicating to hear that the most loyal of all Disney fans have given us their seal of approval. Halloween is quickly becoming our biggest night of the year. For the second year in a row we packed a venue with folks singing along to every word while dressed as their favorite characters from the movies. Check out some pictures from last Halloween at Santos Party House here:

Me: I have worked for Disney for almost 28 years and can see you guys playing in one of the parks. Has anybody from the Disney corporation contacted or seen you guys?

Alexis: As far as playing the parks goes... That's something we've always talked about. I'm sure there's an opportunity there somewhere and if so I'd love to find out what it is. At the same time, I can see this idea possibly growing into a much larger concept. Did you know that there's a touring orchestra called the Symphony of Goddesses? They play live orchestral music from Nintendo's Zelda video games. They tour globally and the last time they were out here in New York City they sold out Madison Square Garden. As far as people coming from the Disney corporation: The Little Mermen and I were endorsed by Alan Menken, the musical theatre and film composer and pianist best known for his scores for films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. He came to one of our shows and was nice enough to come backstage and say hello! He's since commented on our Facebook saying, "Go Mermen!".

Me: So, are you a big Disney fan, Alexis? Do you come down to Disney World often? The next time you do we need to hang out!

Alexis: If the fact that I just told you I started a Disney themed cover band didn't tell you enough... YES, I am a huge Disney fan. I will be sure to look you up next time I'm down at Disney World.

Me: So, will The Little Mermen be recording an album?

Alexis: Not yet. But maybe one day if there seems to be a big demand for it. Right now it's really all about the live shows. Each show is it's own special event because we only do it a few times a year. The thing is if you want to sit and listen to Disney you're going to want to hear the songs you know from the movies. But if you want to experience Disney as an interactive rock and roll concert then you need to go see our show for yourself to believe it.

Me: Speaking of albums, you are working on a new one?

Alexis: Yes. I just completed a full EP of all new songs. The upcoming record was just mastered at Sterling Sound (same place that did the new Adele album!). The tracks were done by Joe Laporta known for his Grammy nominated work with Imagine Dragons and Foo Fighters. Joe also mastered David Bowie's last album "Black Star." Ethan Kaufman produced the EP. I met him back in the day doing a college tour with an artist named Ryan Cabrera. Ethan has gone on to work with some amazing artist including Avril Lavigne. He also produced an album for his band called Wild Party that made some waves in the festival circuit. No single has been released yet. But we just shot a music video that I plan to release when my TV appearance airs on TV Land's "Younger." It's really important to me that this all gets released at the right time... I think it helps on the PR side that I'm also on TV.

Me: What is the show about and who do you play?

Alexis: "Younger" is a romantic comedy set in NYC and written by Darren Starr (the creator of "Sex and The City")... I'm the lead banjo player in the featured bluegrass band on the show.

Me: Did you have to audition to get the part?

Alexis: I did not. This is partly in thanks to my relationship with the show's casting agency. Also this was partly because the banjo player from the first season just started doing a show on Broadway and they needed to fill that role fast! Just another example of: "Right place, right time."

Me: Is it a fun show to be in?

Alexis: I had a blast. I only shot for about three days. From what I'm told this is split up into two episodes and that should air in the coming weeks.

Me: Hillary Duff is in the show... what is she like to work with? I met her years ago when she was on "Lizzie McGuire" and they did a shoot at Epcot. She was really cool back then.

Alexis: Hillary Duff wasn't in the scenes that our band performs in. That might have been a blessing in disguise given that I toured with her ex Aaron Carter back in 2013.

Me: I have to ask you about Musicians on Call... I think this is very cool, man. Tell the readers what it is. How can anybody find out more about it?

Alexis: Musicians on Call is a charity I work with that brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities. I'm a frequent volunteer musician at their charity events. I was also the first musician they ever used to broadcast performances from their office into multiple hospitals. Musicians on Call has been growing in the past couple years as well. I was involved with one of their gala events that had performances from Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J, and Shawn Mendes. Right now they are partnering with Bruce Springsteen on ticket packages for his tour... they have a link on their website where you can bid for tickets and the proceeds go to charity!

Me: Okay, so, this year it's the 10th anniversary of the Phile, and I am asking my guests where they were 10 years ago... so, where were you and what were you doing?

Alexis: Let's see... 10 years ago I was still at Berklee College of Music. I had just finished my first batch of songs and played my first ever show as a songwriter with a backing band. A year later Berklee would give me their performing songwriter award which validated the idea maybe I was pretty good at this. Or at the very least I don't totally suck. So 10 years ago I was learning the ropes to get my dream job.

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile. Will you come back when the next CD comes out? 

Alexis: Anytime! Thanks again for having me.

Me: Ha! All the best, Alexis, take care, man.

Okay, now I got that outta the way let's talk about what is going on in the news. In an interview on the "Today" show this morning, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin denied blaming Obama for her son Track's post traumatic stress disorder, proving that her memory is about as bad as her political prowess. Seeming annoyed during the interview when she was asked about the statements she made after her son was arrested on domestic-violence charges, Palin said, "I never blamed President Obama. What did I say that is offensive? I don't regret any comment that I made because I didn't lay PTSD at the foot of the president." To refresh your (and her) memory, here is exactly what Palin said that day at the Donald Trump rally in Oklahoma: “It starts from the top... the question, though, that comes from our own president where they have to look at him and wonder, ‘Do you know what we go through? Do you know what we’re trying to do to secure America and to secure the freedoms that have been bequeathed us?’” She went on: “It makes me realize more than ever, it is now or never for the sake of America’s finest that we’ll have that commander-in-chief who will respect them and honor them." Hmmm. Not to be all "Gotcha!" but it sounds a lot like she's blaming President Obama for her son's PTSD. After the topic was broached on the "Today" show, Palin accused hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie of breaking a promise by bringing it up. The former Alaska governor said they'd invited her on the show to talk about politics and not about her kids. Lauer disagreed that the comments she made (in which she definitely connected President Obama to her son's PTSD) were off-limits, however, saying "there were no specific promises made about the content of the interview." While Palin maintains that she didn't blame the president for her son's issues, she did say that she thinks that Obama could do a lot more to prove that he respects troops. Specifically, "this level of disrespect for the United States military that is made manifest in getting budgets. In not trying to beef it up and let our military do the job that they are trying to do." Ohhh, okay. So, if the military just had more money, soldiers would not come home with PTSD, because, wait. No, that still doesn't make any sense. Oh, Sarah. You go on with your zany self.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are deeply committed to charitable causes around the world, but there's a limit to their compassion. When it comes to the plight of the homeless looking for mansions to pee on in Hollywood, they have no sympathy. Last week, the celebrity couple's security guards spotted somebody lurking in the bushes outside their Hollywood Hills home, so they called the cops. When the cops confronted the man, they realized he was no stalker out to snap photos of one of Brangelina's 80 children... he was just a poor homeless guy looking for a place to wiz. He was quickly released. Although it's easy to focus on the struggles of this unfortunate man who's fallen through the cracks of society, don't forget about the toll this incident must take on Pitt and Jolie themselves. Their home is their temple, and now it is forever tainted by the spectre of a stranger's fluids. They may even lose the will to adopt any more children, which would make the whole world poorer. All for a piddle.
Over the weekend, someone apparently tried to get even with Donald Trump by scrawling a black swastika on his Hollywood Walk of Fame star. The fact that they drew it backwards, likely on accident, means the graffitist might actually be an intellectual match for Trump himself. To date, Trump has asked for a ban on all Muslims traveling to the U.S. and called Latino immigrants "criminals" and "rapists." His rhetoric has resulted in comparisons to Hitler before, including one by Anne Frank's stepsister, Eva Schloss, just last week. Hollywood historians might note several other industry legends that deserve their own swastika-updated star, including John Wayne, who once told "Playboy," "I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility." Or Walt Disney, oft-rumored to hold racist views. But an actor named Austin Franklin, likely delighted to take a break from his day walking Hollywood Boulevard in a Batman costume, told the Wrap, "I've never seen this kind of hate put on a star before, not even Bill Cosby." As the Iowa caucuses begin tonight, Trump hopes to validate his inspirational campaign theme that everyone is a loser but him.
Republican State Senator Tom Patton of Strongsville, OH is getting backlash for comments he made on the America's Work Force radio show on January 18th. On the show, he questioned whether his main opponent for the seat, Jennifer Herold, would be able to handle the duties of a job in the state legislature due to her being a mom with young children. Surprisingly, this didn't go over well with some people, including Herold herself. “The gal that’s running against me is a 30-year-old, you know, mom, mother of two infants,” he said on the show. “I don’t know if anybody explained to her you have to spend three nights a week in Columbus. So, how does that work out for you? I waited until I was 48, until my kids were raised, and at least adults, before we took the opportunity to try.” Ah, nothing like a man calling an adult woman who he barely knows a "gal." Herold, whose "infants" are aged one and three, issued a written response to Patton. She said that her family took her decision to run very seriously and went on: “We realize the sacrifice that is involved in holding such a position. However, Tom Patton has crossed a line by trying to turn the fact that I am a mother of two children into a negative campaign issue. It’s insulting for my opponent to suggest that motherhood is a liability. In fact, my experience as a mom is perhaps my greatest strength." In a statement to the Cleveland "Plain Dealer" Patton apologized (kind of), saying his comments "appear to have been misunderstood" and that he "used a poor choice of words to express what [he knows] first-hand... raising young children and working is tough." 
Alright, so, did you low Lay's is coming out with a new potato chip flavor? 

That is fitting I think. Oh, I have to show you this... Gentlemen, the president of Croatia...

Nice, eh? You're welcome! Do you remember this poster for the Green Lantern movie? 

Well, Ryan Reynolds is gonna be in the Deadpool and they came out with this very clever movie poster...

Ingenius! So, Alexis and I talked about Disney and I had a great idea... Disney Princess Hot Dogs! Check this out!

The Pocahontas Dog. I think Disney should sell them in the park. What do you think, kids? Alright, and now for some people actually reading the Phile...

I wonder which entry they are looking at? Okay, I have been showing you some photos that show why presidential candidates really shouldn't pose with kids. Like this one of Carly Fiorina​ knowing how to approach young people.

"Stand back, I've got a spoon!" One other thing, yesterday I showed you a picture from eBay of an autographed pic of the heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch but was listed as Foghat. well, right next to it on eBay with the same seller is an actual autographed pic of Foghat.

Guess the seller is somewhat confused. Me too, actually. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Startling Similarities Between The Iowa Caucus And Groundhog Day
5. Is an accurate predictor of what's to come.
4. Make the middle of nowhere seem like the center of the Universe.
3. Is a great American tradition well worth continuing.
2. Brings shadowy creatures out of their burrows and into the ugly light of day. 
And the number one similarity between the Iowa Caucus and Groundhog Day is...
1. Cable news will have insightful things to say about it.

There's a classroom decorated with most confusing observance of Black History Month I've seen yet.

Ay ay ay ay, canta y no llores para el mes de la historia Afroamericana. There are two choices here, one is terrible and the other is delightful. The first scenario is that the creator of this wall display is unaware of the differences between African Americans and stereotypical Mexicans. The second, more enjoyable scenario is that at this school, Black History Month lessons are delivered via educational mariachi band. Because who wouldn't remember the Harlem Renaissance better with finger-picked guitar riffs and the occasional high-pitched "Ah ha!" thrown in? One thing is for sure, though, those decal Mexicans look properly excited to learn an invaluable part of history.

Sir Terry Wogan 
August 3rd 1938 — January 31st 2016
Now his whole body is as stiff as his upper lip.

Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson ith a profethinal boxther.

I am all confused this entry thanks to Alexis. Haha. Okay, last month I showed you Mindphucks sent on by some of my readers and they were all pretty much too hard to figure out so this month I will be showing you some real easy ones. Here we go.

If you spot it, and I am sure you will, let me know. Okay, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Alexis Babini. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Phile Alumni Burning Jet Black. So, 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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pheaturing Phile Alum Jeremy Croston

Hey there, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Let's start off with a story on
Pharma bro Martin Shkreli who decided you don't hate him enough so he released a video threatening Ghostface Killah. Martin Shkreli is tired of being known as the a-hole who raised the price of AIDS medicine. Now he wants to be known as the d-bag who threatened a member of the Wu-Tang Clan while drinking red wine from a stemless wine glass. In an unintentionally hilarious video obtained by TMZ, Shkreli, dressed in a blazer and surrounded by masked "goons," threatens rapper Ghostface Killah and demands he gives him a written apology. "Not in crayons, either," suggests a thug, and Shkreli agrees that's a good idea. An apology for what you may ask? Shkreli is pissed that Ghostface referred to him as the "Michael Jackson nose​ kid." Which isn't really an insult if you think about it, since Jackson paid a lot for that nose. The comment came after Shkreli dropped $2 million for Wu-Tang's one-of-a-kind album. The low-budget diss video looks like something your high school friends would make in their mom's basement for an "SNL" audition tape. Basically: it's both awful and the best. Shkreli even gets a pretty sick diss in there when he called Ghostface by "his government name" Dennis. "You're old, Dennis" is the best insult since #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch tweet from Amber Rose to Kanye. Hopefully 2016 will have a beef-a-day, because it's the saddest/most funny thing "celebrities" do.
Oh Barbie, you thought you were so progressive making dolls in a variety of skin tones and body shapes, didn't you? Well guess what: now Lego is hot on your (w)heels, making its first minifigures in wheelchairs. The new mini figure, spotted at two toy fairs in London and Nuremberg, is part of an upcoming Fun in the Park set that even comes with a helper dog. Of course, we also know from The Lego Movie that in the Lego universe, some disabled Lego mini figures instead choose to build themselves a super-suit with a shark for an arm. Apparently, Barbie also had a wheelchair once, but ironically the wheelchair wouldn't fit in the Barbie Dream House's elevator. That's less of a problem when you can just move a few bricks to make a toy building accessible to people with disabilities. If only it was that simple in real life.
This woman believes she's a cat trapped in a human's body and makes a pretty compelling case...

Nano is a 20-year-old woman from Norway who thinks she's a cat. She meows, purrs, and hisses at dogs. She wears a plush tail and ears and says she hates water. She claims to be able to hear things that others can't, like keys jingling in pockets and suitcases rolling by (no word on how well she can hear a can of cat food being opened). She states that she often walks on "four legs" and sleeps in the sink (hey, a lot of people like sleeping in sinks, that doesn't make us cats). Sometimes she stalks and chases mice in the shadows, but she admits she's never managed to catch anything. Hang in there, lil' kitty, it'll happen! Nano's best friend Svein has multiple personalities, one of which is a cat. They meow at each other, and they swear that they can communicate using "cat language." According to Nano, it's possible to get used to living with cat instincts, but it's "exhausting," which must be why cats sleep so much. Nano claims to have felt this way since birth, but it wasn't until she was 16 that doctors found a "birth defect" that explained it. She stops there, though, without going into any further details about what that defect is. There is a phenomenon known as "species dysmorphia"... a disorder wherein people believe they were born into the wrong species. However, there is no mention of Nano having been diagnosed with that condition. Her psychologist told her she could grow out of it, but she thinks it's unlikely (you know what they say: once you go cat, you never go back). This brings up a lot of questions though, like: what does a cat even talk to a psychologist about? How much money does she have to spend each month on string? Can she get high from catnip? And if you drop Nano, does she always land on her feet? Not to be skeptical, but the only way she could ever prove that she really is a cat is by licking her own butthole. Your move, Nano.
Hey, this is a story for you, Sam... Lauren Graham officially confirmed that "Gilmore Girls" is returning to television (or Netflix, anyway). You haven't been this excited since Lorelei finally kissed Luke. According to "Time" magazine, most of the major actors are returning, including Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Sean Gunn, and Keiko Agena (noticeably absent so far is huge movie star Melissa McCarthy, perhaps for reasons of being a big movie star). Netflix hasn't given out a premiere date or an episode count for the show yet, so stay tuned to find out how Rory Gilmore’s newspaper coverage of a then-obscure politician named Barack Obama turned out.
Everyone knows that Disney princess movies are usually at least a little sexist... Snow White is a brainless dope whose biggest joy is cleaning up after seven men... but now there's a new reason to be suspicious of these movies: even though in all of them, women have the lead role, in many of them men have way more lines of dialogue than women, a new study found. Believe it or not, this trend didn't begin with movies like Snow White and Cinderella, with their decidedly retro gender politics; it began with The Little Mermaid, which was praised at the time for its spunky, rebellious heroine. In The Little Mermaid, of course, Ariel literally gives up her voice in exchange for legs, but women speak even less in the five princess movies that came after the 1989 classic. This may be because most supporting characters are made male by default. “There's one isolated princess trying to get someone to marry her, but there are no women doing any other things,” one of the researchers said. “There are no women leading the townspeople to go against the Beast, no women bonding in the tavern together singing drinking songs, women giving each other directions, or women inventing things. Everybody who’s doing anything else, other than finding a husband in the movie, pretty much, is a male." "My best guess is that it's carelessness, because we're so trained to think that male is the norm,” another researcher on the study added. “So when you want to add a shopkeeper, that shopkeeper is a man. Or you add a guard, that guard is a man. I think that's just really ingrained in our culture.” So, it turns out Disney princess movies are sexist in an entirely different way than you thought.
So, I told you the other day that Adam Driver resembles a cat, or vice versa... well, there's other people from Star Wars that resembles animals as well. Check it out...

By the way, Han lives... he was caught shopping at Target.

I think that's Target. I don't know about you, but love the news... especially when they make mistakes...

That's snot right. A fan of the Phile and Foghat found something that was on eBay and wanted to share it. It should be a Mindphuck...

That's not Foghat, people. That's Five Finger Death Punch I think. Technically, the band should be called Four Fingers and a Thumb Death Punch. Am I right? So, I have been showing you some pictures of why presidential candidates really shouldn't pose with kids. Like this one...

"Is this a better fake smile?" Also, for the Phile's 10th anniversary I have been showing you pics of people what they look like when they are reading the Phile.

How nice, they are having a picnic and looking at the Phile. Very nice. The other day I told you the story of the people behind this health campaign really should have consulted Urban Dictionary first. Well, here's another one of their ads I thought I had to share...

It's never too late to try new things. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York...

Top Phive Reasons Why We'd Like To Have Melania Trump As First Lady
5. Well, there's the whole "former swimsuit model" thing.
4. She's a great example to girls that a super-hot woman can accomplish anything her gazillionaire husband out her mind to.
3. Anyone who has skincare product line called Caviar Complexe C6 has to be a woman of the people.
2. She's still young enough to have more children, which will produce the kind of delightful media frenzy beloved by the British Royal Family.
And he number one reason why we'd like to have Melania Trump as First lady is...
1. Her April 26th birthday is shared by both William Shakespeare and Jet Li. Try telling me that's a coincidence.

Okay, so, all through January I have been showing you Mindphucks sent in by some of my readers. I know how you guys feel now, when you can't figure them out. Anyway, here's the last one sent in by a reader. If you spot it, let me know...

Okay, real quick, a lot of you asked how Laird Jim was doing. He apparently is still in the hospital but is doing better. Laird, we are thinking of you, my friend. Okay, so, there's doe stories that definitely deserve to be put under their own pheature. That pheature is known as...

No, a woman stranded on a desert island was not saved by Google Earth. A quick glance at this story, posted on some bedbug-infested, back alley flophouse of a website called (come on, at least try to look legit) makes immediately clear that, no, a woman named Gemma Sheridan was not rescued by Google Earth after being stranded on a desert island for 7 years. Not that anyone cares, since it's already been shared on Facebook and Twitter enough times to be depressing. In an apparent exclusive, a non-existent person named Gemma Sheridan was boating with two friends across the globe to Hawaii when "there was a huge storm that took out the boats [sic] electronics and washed her 2 friends overboard and seriously damaged her boat." The piece doesn't dwell too much on the apparent death at sea of Ms. Sheridan's two friends, since none of this ever happened. Long story short, her damaged boat drifted ashore to a desert island, at which point the article switches to first-person so Gemma can use her own words to recount a bunch of details that read like they were plagiarized from the treatment for the movie Cast Away. Here's the pic that's supposedly the Google Earth image that fake-saved a woman's fake life...

Duh! You've probably already seen it in your Facebook feed with a bunch of comments like "Incredible!" and "Hooray for technology!" and "Remember me from high school? I'm even more stupid now." Snopes has already debunked the pic as having been published in 2010 by "Amnesty International" in an article about violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. The photo was cropped to remove surrounding buildings.

Further, Snopes finds that much of the text was lifted from a 2013 article in the "Daily Mail." But you don't need to be an Internet sleuth to know this is bullshit. Nothing in the article is sourced, and appears to be one of those news sites that hasn't raised the capital to afford things like quotation marks or spell-check yet. This is 2002-era hoax quality. "The Daily Currant" staff are shaking their heads at the amateurs who put this thing together. But still, it's everywhere. We need to reset. Start from the assumption that everything you see on the Internet is a lie or, at the very least, a Jimmy Kimmel "prank." The burden of proof is on the content, and no one can share it until all reasonable doubt has been removed. Until then, it's lies.

Paul Kantner 
March 17th, 1941 — January 28th, 2016
Guy was in a rock band for five decades, advocated the use of LSD and marijuana, opposed the use of cocaine and alcohol, and had 3 kids. Someone please send me an obit for this weirdo, please?

Today's guest is a Phile Alum and author whose novel "The Negative Man: City of Chaos (Pacific Station Vigilante Book 1)" is the 44nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome back to the Phile... Jeremy Croston.

Me: Hey, there, Jeremy, welcome back to the Phile. How are you?

Jeremy: Thanks for having me again! I’m not too bad, Mr. Peverett, how the heck are you?

Me: Ugh. You don't wanna know. Okay, first of, what's the deal with you hair in the pic, Alfalfa? Haha.

Jeremy: Don’t bash the power of the ‘hawk, my friend. It is my secret weapon.

Me: Ha! Alright, so, I have interviewed Jeff Trelewicz on the Phile twice... as well as have him on the Phile as a guest to talk football so many times and we talked about how because of me and this blog you guys are talking and now have the podcast and Two Dudes, Brews, and Books. How is the podcast doing?

Jeremy: The podcast is going great. It’s a fun 18-22 minute show each week where we talk about everything from books and beer (obviously) to sports, music, and movies. We try to avoid "real" topics like politics and world news. I mean, who wants to listen to that nonsense?

Me: Do you give me credit as well? If it wasn't for me and this blog you guys wouldn't have your podcast. Haha.

Jeremy: Oh sure... Two Dudes, Brews, & Books, Power by JP – My name’s Jeremy… whoa, was that a Mission: Space flashback?!

Me: How do you guys do the podcast? On the phone? Jeff invited me as a guest to be on it sometime.

Jeremy: We do it through Google Chats, so basically like a phone call. Jeff records and edits it then on his end with a podcasting program. It’s actually quite easy and a great way to get to even more people.

Me: You guys now have a website, right?

Jeremy: Yeah, last year we decided to really embrace the digital age and get a website. Wix offers free ones to poor authors (which we qualify as!) and was born.

Me: Alright, so, let's talk about your latest book "The Negative Man: City of Chaos (Pacific Station Vigilante Book 1). Shit, that's a long ass title, Jeremy. So, this book is not part of the hockey/Norse series I take it.

Jeremy: Nope, this is a totally new and separate series. The "Ragnarok on Ice" series is finished, spanning three volumes, "Power Play," "Penalty Kill," and "Game Over."

Me: How many books have you written now?

Jeremy: "The Negative Man" makes book number 6. Whoa, I can’t believe I’ve published six books so far.

Me: I love the premise of this book. I love super hero movies and comics, so I think this is great. It kinda reminds me of George R.R. Martin's series from the 90s called "Wild Cards." Have you heard of that series?

Jeremy: I have not but now you got me curious. I like Martin’s writing style, so this sounds like something I need to check out after the interview.

Me: I wish "Wild Cards" was a TV show instead of "Game of Thrones" but we are not here to talk about thats series. Are you a comic book fan and a fan of super hero movies, Jeremy?

Jeremy: I love comics. My wife probably wishes I didn’t as much as I did, but those be the breaks. One thing we can agree on in comic inspired movies for the most part of five shades of awesome.

Me: What is your favorite super hero and super hero movie? I am a HUGE Watchmen fan myself. 

Jeremy: Favorite super hero… that’s a tough one. If I had to pick, I’d say Michaelango from "TMNT."  As for my favorite movie, I could watch Captain America: The First Avenger all day. That was one of the best.

Me: Okay, so, where did the idea for this book come from, Jeremy?

Jeremy: A lot of comics these days are pretty vivid and I wanted to bring that to the novel realm. At the same time, I wanted to create a world that was a bit of a throwback... gritty, corrupt, and dangerous. Pacific Station (where the novel takes place) is not a good place to live. The theme of the book is the city is at war and there is this aura of suspense hanging over like a dark cloud.

Me: The Negative Man is me, right? LOL. Actually, I'm more like Worst Case Scenario Man. Seriously, who is the Negative Man?

Jeremy: That’s a really good question. I guess somewhere in that book of mine the answer pops out! 

Me: The good guy in the series is The Dark Lion? Do you have an idea in your head what these characters look like? Have you drawn them at all?

Jeremy: I know what each character looks like in my head. Unfortunately I’m a crappy artist and can’t draw them. If any of your readers are artists and would like to collaborate, I’d be all about that. 

Me: Could you see this book being a TV show or comic, Jeremy? It's cool that it is a novel. 

Jeremy: Definitely a comic. I mean after all, the idea came from my love of comic books so it would only be natural for it to jump to that format one day.

Me: So, the book does;t take place in the real world, right? Where is Pacific Station supposed to be? 

Jeremy: No, it’s a fictionalized version of the U.S. Pacific Station is the San Diego of that world (for "Flash" fans, think of this as Earth-2).

Me: This is volume one... how many volumes are you planning in this series?

Jeremy: Three main volumes with a ton of supplemental on various websites (my blog, our main website, WattPad, etc…). All the supplemental stories will be free, just to expand the universe I’ve created.

Me: If it was gonna be made into a movie do you have an idea who you would want to be in it? Which actor to play certain roles?

Jeremy: That is a good question. I don’t know that I can answer that right now. Heath Ledger might’ve been an amazing Negative Man just based on his performance as the Joker a few years back. Tough question there, Jason…

Me: Okay, so, I talk a lot about Star Wars on the Phile so I have to ask, what do you think of the latest movie? How many times did you see it? I saw it twice so far and I loved it.

Jeremy: Yeah, it was a throwback to A New Hope, but every story needs a starting place. For those who thought it was bad or a rip off, this is a movie that I think can only be judged properly after the next release.

Me: Good point. The cover of "Negative Man" has a city scape, why not pictures of the characters? 

Jeremy: Pacific Station is as much as character as anything. Plus, in my writing, I want the reader to have a chance to form their own versions of the characters. Everyone’s perception of a character will be different and that’s really cool.

Me: So, what's your next book gonna be about, Jeremy?

Jeremy: I think every great story needs a sequel. We’ll be coming back to Pacific Station later this year.

Me: This year it is the Phile's 10th year so I am asking my Alum guests what they were doing in 2006. So, what were you doing?

Jeremy: That was my last year at Innoventions, so I was probably making fun of random guests with you!

Me: Thanks for being back here on the Phile. Go ahead and mention your website and where a reader can purchase the book. Take care, and I'll have you back on the Phile soon.

Jeremy: Yeah, check out Jeff and I’s work at! Plus you can find all my latest goings on at my blog... Thanks for having me again, Jason, these interviews are always a blast!

That about does it for this entry. Thanks to Jeremy for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Phile Alum Alexis Bambini. 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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pheaturing Phile Alum Holly Elle

Hey there, welcome to the Phile for a Wednesday. How are you? Let's start with a story about a teen being in the hospital after the Duct Tape Challenge went horribly wrong. A 14-year-old boy may lose vision in one eye after playing the Duct Tape Challenge... a "game" in which someone is tightly wrapped in duct tape and then filmed trying to escape as fast as possible... giving parents of teens everywhere another fucking thing to worry about. After Washington teen Skylar Fish was wrapped in duct tape by his so-called friends earlier this month, Fish lost his balance and slammed his head into a window, causing a brain aneurysm, severe head injuries, and damage to his left eye socket. And why would anyone do this, you're wondering? For the most important reason of all: Internet stardom. Videos of the duct tape challenge are racking up millions of views on YouTube, because it's that easy to become moderately famous these days. Just think... you too can become an Internet celebrity and all you have to do is combine the optics of being kidnapped with the threat of physical harm that comes with being kidnapped.
The Game: rapper, actor, Dr. Dre protégé, philanthropist, and shameless humble bragger. In an Instagram post announcing his $500,000 donation towards the relief effort in Flint, Michigan, Game not-so-subtly, probably-not-on-accident included the available balance in his charity's checking account. Just a casual $13,274,585. The Game AKA Jayceon Taylor also fired some shots at the paltry $10,000 donations of the not-an-alcoholic Jimmy Fallon and the still-exciting Madonna. Game donated $1 million worth of water bottles to go along with the $500,000. Good for him. And bravo to anyone who's not embarrassed to show their bank account numbers, but kudos to everyone who averts their eyes from the bank statement at the end of a $40 ATM transaction, too.
More than a dozen Tulsa, OK high school students smuggled a banner painted with the words "Trump Makes America Hate Again" into a Donald Trump rally last Wednesday and managed to snap a picture before Trump had them removed. One of the teenagers hid the banner in his shoe before entering the Mabee Center rally. Trump noticed the protest banner and had security remove the teens, as his supporters booed them, ripped the banner out of their hands, and then stomped on it. That'll take care of those pesky teenagers with their liberal, non-racist views! Kieran King-Sellars, a sophomore at Booker T. Washington High School, was one of the students who came up with the idea to protest at the rally. His parents told him he wasn't allowed to miss school, but he went to the rally anyway, because he sees Trump as a racist and was upset he was coming to Tulsa. He got grounded for two weeks (not because his parents support Trump but because he disobeyed them) but he thinks it was worth it. Noah Miracle, a Booker T. Washington High School junior, said the group went to the rally because they've learned that it's important to stand up for their beliefs. He told "Tulsa World," “We’ve really had the idea of freedom of speech drilled into our heads in school since a young age, so this was really an opportunity to apply these things to the real world." "Get him out of here," Trump told security guards. "Get outta here, kid. See, he wants to be politically correct. This isn't the old days… But I like it, I like it, I hope they do a couple more today, because the only way those cameras, which are crooked as hell, will ever turn to show this packed arena, with 15,000 people, is if we have a protestor, right? So I love protestors." There you have it... Trump loves protestors! Do with that information what you will.
Actor Joseph Fiennes, a white guy, was tapped to play King of Pop Michael Jackson in an upcoming movie, something that is causing many heads to get scratched today because Fiennes is a white British guy and Michael Jackson is African-American (albeit, yes, a pale African-American because Jackson had a skin disorder). It's like they saw a picture of Fiennes' brother Ralph dressed as Lord Voldemort and were like, "Oh yeah, that looks right, does this guy have any relatives with hair?" The movie is based on the near-legendary road trip that Jackson supposedly took to "escape from New York" after 9/11 with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando, which, mind you, is an amazing concept for a movie... something that makes this tone-deaf casting all the sadder. Here's hoping producers make this right in the best possible way: by casting a black actress as Elizabeth Taylor.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted a picture of him swimming with his infant daughter, and while she is an adorable billionaire baby, you know why you're really here: to check out Mark Zuckerberg's shirtless, pale, freckly, patchy-haired chest. Well, here you go, you sick freak...

Yes, Zuckerberg can be topless on Facebook but your breastfeeding photos might get flagged for nudity. Sorry.
Yesterday I told the story of the people behind this health campaign that really should have consulted Urban Dictionary first. Here's another one of their ad campaign posters...

The fish makes it even grosser. There is a new movie that came out last Friday called Dirty Grandpa... I didn't wanna see it until I saw this poster for it...

Now I really wanna see it. Speaking of Star Wars, yesterday I told you the story of how Adam Driver looks like a cat... or vice versa. And then I showed you a picture of a monkey of some sort looking Mark Hamill. Well, there's another animal that looks like someone from Star Wars...

Hahahaha. That's so stupid. That as stupid as this...

Get it? Okay, so, all this month I have been showing you pictures of what people look like reading the Phile as it's the 10th anniversary. Here we go...

Bet they're trying to figure out a Mindphuck. For the next few weeks I am also showing you pictures showing you why presidential candidates really shouldn't pose with kids. Like this one of Jeb holding  baby for the first time...

"Is this how you do it?!" Haha. Good job, Jeb. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Donald Trump Will be Doing During Tomorrow's Debate
5. Binge-watching "House of Cards" to pick up a few governing tips.
4. Prank-calling George Pataki to ask of he'd be his running mate.
3. Reviewing "Re-elect Trump in 2020" bumper stickers.
2. Giving his hair a much-needed night off.
And the number one thing Trump will be doing during the debate tomorrow is...
1. Spouting empty rhetoric and lowest-common-denominator insults from the comfort of his own home.

Okay, all this month for the Phile's 10th anniversary I have been showing you some Mindphucks you readers have sent in, and I have to say, they have not been popular. Have of them we can't figure out. Let's see if today's is any better...

I have no idea what I am looking at. Some kinda video game apparently but I don't get it. Alright, so, as you know, I live in Florida and there's some strange things that happen here in this state that happen no where else in the world. That's why I have a pheature called...

Twitter user Zealot may have left his job at a Florida Burger King, but he still loves the fast food chain's offerings. When he left work for the last time, Zealot took with him all the chicken nuggets he could grab.

Twitter quickly rallied around the "hero," who has rightly earned a place in the pantheon of those who quit their jobs in epic fashion. In response to claims that Zealot stole from BK, he pointed out that he only swiped a few dollars' worth of nuggets. "I took $5 worth of chicken nuggets / let that sink in," he tweeted. If that's the case, were those really all the chicken nuggets at that Burger King? Zealot's stash looks more like the amount a few people would order. Or one very hungry/stoned person. Zealot hasn't shared the exact number of nuggets he has. He's too busy basking in his Internet success. "I'm a god," he tweeted. At least as long as the chicken nugget supply lasts.

The 44th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author will be a guest on the Phile on Sunday.

Okay, today's guest is a Phile Alum whose new single "How A Heart Breaks" is available on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile, one of my favorite guests... Holly Elle!

Me: Holly, welcome back to the Phile. How are you?

Holly: It's great to be back thank you! I'm doing very well, I hope you are too.

Me: I'm okay. Okay, so, this month is the Phile's 10th anniversary... actually all year, but this month I want to have some of my favorite guests back on the Phile. And yes, you are one of them! Do you do a lot interviews, Holly?

Holly: Congratulations again that's very exciting! I do a fair amount of interviews and you are one of my favorite interviewers as well. I love the elements of humor and fun, those are a few of my favorite things. 

Me: That's good. What is the craziest interview question any one has asked you?

Holly: There hasn't been anything too crazy, but I like it when the questions are inventive and different, it makes it more enjoyable for me and more interesting for everyone.

Me: I have to be honest and tell you that your interviews are very popular here and I get emails from guys asking about you. Do you get lots of emails like that?

Holly: That's awesome to hear that they're popular. You seriously get emails from guys? What are they asking? Now I'm very curious...

Me: Yeah, I do. Next time you're here I'll ask you some questions sent in. At your shows do you get guys hitting on you?

Holly: I'm noticing a theme here... no I actually don't, I don't get hit on a lot in general. Discuss.

Me: Haha. we'll discuss at a later time. Okay, you have a new single out called "How a Heart Breaks." Did you write that song?

Holly: Yes, I did. And that next level you're hearing is production superhuman Isaac Hasson.

Me: Will you be doing a video for it?

Holly: Right now there are no plans in the works for a video, but never say never!

Me: So, have you had your heart broken recently?

Holly: Wow, we're just cutting right to the good stuff aren't we? I hate to get all mysterious artist on you, but I don't like to directly reveal the meaning of my songs. I want people to listen to the music and draw their own conclusions about what it means to them.

Me: That's fair enough. You're originally from Canada, right? What part again?

Holly: I am! I'm from Calgary, Alberta. Yeehaw!

Me: You live in Nashville now, right? How are both places different? I guess in a lot of ways.

Holly: Yes, I've lived in Nashville for a while now and I love it. The weather is more mild and it's a lower cost of living. Not to perpetuate the odd stereotype of Canadians living in igloos, but yeah it's warmer in general here. I think most of the differences in people I notice are northern vs southern, as opposed to Canadian vs American. But southern people are cool as hell. I'm working on converting to Southernism.

Me: Do you get to go back to Canada often?

Holly: I used to barely get back there once a year but now I've been heading back more often. I'm so glad because I get to see my niece and nephew more. 

Me: How long have you been in Nashville now?

Holly: I've been here 8 years. The awesomeness of Nashville is no longer our little secret, a lot of people figured it out and are moving here.

Me: Okay, back to your music... are you working on an album or EP? It's better just to do singles, right?

Holly: Yeah, I'm all about that single life right now. That's not to say I'll never put out a project again, but I'm feeling singles for a while. I think it makes more sense for the way people are consuming music right now. Especially as an independent artist, it's freed me up to focus on the music more.

Me: You do a lot of shows; do you like recording or performing better?

Holly: You have the best questions, no fluff, I dig that. I love both but there is something about being in the studio that really gets me buzzing. If I'm in the zone in the studio 12 hours could feel like the blink of an eye, and I'm having so much FUN. Those are the indicators that you're really where you're supposed to be.

Me: You are very, very photogenic, which I am sure I told you before. I love the pic on the singles cover... how many pics did you go through to pick out that one, Holly?

Holly: Thank you, you're very kind. I did a photo shoot with a local guy named Brandon Oursler, what you're seeing is the evidence that he does great work. I got about 600 photos from the shoot, and I set out to pick out 20 that I loved, which was tough because there were so many I wanted. From that 20, I chose this album cover. I've done a lot of shoots with a lot of different people, sometimes you struggle to come out with one good shot.

Me: Oh, by the way, when is the "Holy Hell" EP coming out? Hahahaha. Explain the story about that, Holly. I'm a genius, right?

Holly: You will never forget about that will you? LOL. I recall you liked the way Holly Elle/Holy Hell sounded. It just has a nice ring. You're obviously a genius. But we can't force these things. Maybe it's not even an album name... that sounds like a great byline for my "Rolling Stone" cover story...

Me: Don't give them credit. You went to Belmont University in Nashville, right? How was that? What did you study there?

Holly: Belmont is a great school with a gorgeous campus. I studied music business there. I didn't spend a lot of time on campus because it was my second degree so I was kind of over college life, I really came to Nashville to further my career.

Me: I re-read your bio and saw that you played poker... and I don't remember ever asking you about you playing poker before. So, I'll ask you. How long have you been playing?

Holly: I've been playing for many years. My brother and mother (she's the ultimate card shark) taught me how to play Texas Hold'em, and then I taught my sorority sisters in college back in Canada, and we would play.

Me: Do you play for money?

Holly: Now, now, Jason, gambling is illegal in Tennessee. When I'm home or in Vegas? Hell yeah.  

Me: Ever play strip poker? I would lose in a heartbeat!

Holly: That's what I would play with my sorority sisters! Right before the pillow fight. Dear "Penthouse"... No, I don't think I have actually. You know I'm really very shy and demure. 

Me: Hahaha. Me too. So, have you been doing many shows recently, Holly?

Holly: Lately I have, I'm focusing on performing more and setting up some tour dates soon.

Me: You know you still gotta come down to Florida to visit. It's not far from Nashville you know. 

Holly: Where in Florida are you again? Please say Key West, that's one of my favorite places.

Me: Right outside Orlando. Okay, so, I'm asking my Alum guests what they were doing 10 years ago... what were you doing? Do you have a pic of yourself back then?

Holly: Hmm let me think. I was in college in Winnipeg, Manitoba freezing my ass off and singing opera. No, there were no cameras back then.

Me: Smart ass. Ha! You were making music then, right? Was that when you did the Klatuu tribute album?

Holly: Hell, yeah, I was making music. Klaatu tribute was 2004 I think. Around that time I had just finished my first EP. I was also in a country cover band. Which was so weird because I'm not a country singer and I had to learn a lot of the songs. At the time I had no idea I would end up in Nashville. Neat, huh?

Me: Yeah. Alright, so, you know the more music you make the more I wanna interview you and pheature you, right?

Holly: I'm cool with that. Always leave 'em wanting more.

Me: Okay, so, go ahead and mention your website, Holly.

Holly: HEARHOLLY.COM!!!!!!

Me: You will come back on the Phile when the next release comes out, right?

Holly: Totally. Don't get bored of me now. 

Me: Alright, take care and continued success. And visit me!!!! LOL. 

Holly: Thank you so much, same to you. Who knows where the upcoming tour will take me...

That about wraps this entry up. Thanks to Holly for another great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with author and Phile Alum Jeremy Croston. 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