Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pheaturing Alumni Chris Nelson

Hello, kids, welcome to a Sunday entry of the Phile. How are you? I have to mention this, on Friday I went to Jacksonville to see Elvis Costello in concert. It was great. He performed for three freaking hours. Three hours. I don't like sitting here for two hours doing this blog it wears me out.  What else is going on? At Disney, one of the greatest company's to work for ever they announced they are gonna put Starbucks in the parks. Man, with Disney prices and Starbucks prices, I cannot imagine how much a coffee will be. "That'll be $75.00 for your ice mocha with no whip cream, sir."  Well, some teenagers are reportedly drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk. This explains a lack of sanitizer at work. Damn college kids. Remember when Zima was the most embarrassing thing to drink? Teenagers have been turning up with alcohol poisoning and officials are worried it will become a national trend. Drinking hand sanitizer is of particular concern because Purell is considered to be a gateway soap. Purell could lead to lime cascade or scrubbing bubbles. The kids use salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, which makes a liquid similar to a hard shot of liquor. You know what else is similar to a shot of hard liquor? A shot of hard liquor. Why not just steal a shot of liquor from your parent's liquor cabinet and refill it with iced tea like normal American kids, or pay a homeless guy to buy it for you like our forefathers did?!  I would like to wish those to whom it applies a happy belated Administrative Professionals Day. It used to be called Secretaries Day. You'll know it has caught on if wives start yelling about their husband, "He cheated on me with his administrative professional."  They had a big police chase here L.A. It went on for more than two hours. If you live there, a police chase is kind of a nice way to see your old neighborhoods.  The E! network has announced they have reached a deal with the Kardashian family to bring us three more seasons of their reality show. If you haven't been keeping up with them, I will bring you up to speed. They went shopping. The deal will pay the Kardashian family... get this... $40 million. It's the biggest contract in the history of reality television. It's harder and harder to explain to your kids why it's a bad idea to make a sex tape.  Speaking of TV, there's a new channel called DogTV. The channel features “footage and soundtracks designed for stimulation and relaxation.” Anyway, I got my hands on another ad for a new TV show on DogTV. Check it out.

Do you kids play Words With Friends? I love that game. I have to show you something that could not happen in a million years with that game... or at least a few days. I have been playing for over two years and over 50 different games and this blew me away.

What are the chances we would both start with the same word. By the way, Zyngawf copied me.  Did you see they were selling inspirational posters of Trayvon's funeral? I think it was too soon, but I guess the Martin family needed some money.

Look, I didn't make it, people. Don't get mad at me.  Alright, as I said on Wednesday all through May it's gonna be Star Wars month here on the Phile to celebrate the anniversary of the films, Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios and my one year working at Star Tours. There's gonna be Star Wars themed jokes and stuff, and a few fun things. So, tell your geeky friends, they'll love it. This starts on the Phile on Wednesday, kids. BTW, speaking of movies...


They changed the name in its journey from Gideon Defoe's book to screen. Well, they did in the United States, anyway. Known in the United Kingdom as The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, the more generic Band of Misfits was, I'm guessing, invented to prevent science-phobic American audiences from scaring away at the sight of any word that would suggest smart people were involved in its production. And that's fine. Trick them into seeing it if you have to. Let them panic over the inclusion of Charles Darwin (voiced by "Doctor Who's" David Tennant) as a pivotal character after they've bought their ticket.  Yeah, Charles Darwin. He's after a dodo bird owned by the epically bearded Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant). Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) wants the animal, too. Darwin wants to study it, while Victoria wants an exotic meal. But to the Pirate Captain, his "parrot" is the emotional core of his ship, the mascot beloved by his entire crew. Only in a desperately weak-willed moment of bad judgment would he trade her for a giant pile of gold, which he does in order to clinch his long-denied win in the Pirate of the Year contest.  But plot, as funny and well-constructed as it is, isn't really the point here. You'll want to go because it's from Aardman, the people who delivered Chicken Run, all the Wallace and Gromit films (both short and feature) and the underrated Arthur Christmas. They're the (mostly) stop-motion animation peer of America's Pixar or Japan's Studio Ghibli. And like those, Aardman output is the kind of pitch-perfect fusion of smart and silly, funny and sweet, kid-centric and adult-friendly. You're guaranteed originality, wit, impeccable artistry and attention to detail and, most of all, a plain old good time.  In fact, if there's anything to gripe about here, it's the pirate thing itself. Second only to the vampire glut, pirates have reached a level of pop culture exhaustion that's hard to pretend isn't happening and even harder to manufacture enthusiasm for. But for about 90 minutes these guys pull it off. Maybe it's the lack of rote stumbling around by Johnny Depp, maybe it's the enthusiastic charm, maybe it's the fish in the pirate hat. But whatever it is, it's welcome. Will there be a sequel based on one of Defoe's follow-up books in the series? If so, please let it be The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists. Yes, that's a real thing. And who better to teach your little ones about Karl Marx? Plus, there are kittens in it. From 1 to ten I give it a seven and probably won't buy it when it comes out.

Okay, the draft happened or at least the first day... I don't pay attention to these things. I was too busy going to see Elvis, swimming in my pool, seeing that Pirates movie and putting together this pile of crap. Anyway, I thought I would invite someone to the Phile who did pay attention. Please welcome back my good friend Jeff Trelewicz in a pheature I call...

Me: Jeff, welcome to the Phile again. So, what is the big news with the football draft?

Jeff: Thanks, it's always great to be back on the Phile talking Phootball. I mean football. The draft is clearly the most unpredictable time of the year. My girlfriend and I sat around on Thursday night reading predictions of five people who are experts at football. Their predictions were only for the first round. So 32 picks. The person with the most correct answers had... seven! Seven out of 32 were correct. And the first two were guaranteed! So much for experts!

Me: Didn't one player get fooled or something he was getting drafted? Do you know what I'm talking about?

Jeff: I am not sure what you mean by someone got fooled into thinking he was getting drafted. There are no guarantees in the draft. Some people were expected to be drafted higher (some lower) but there are no guarantees!

Me: It was something to do with Bengals player Mohamed Sanu or something.

Jeff: Oh yeah, no at that point I would Google search the number and show up at

the person's door...  "So, you still think it's funny?"

Me: Okay, lets talk about the real draft. So, where did Andrew Luck go to? Who did the Steelers get and who did the Giants get?

Jeff: Andrew Luck, as expected, was drafted number one to the Colts. Robert Griffen III went to Redskins. Everything else was a guess (even to the experts!). The Steelers spent most of the draft fixing their offense line, using their first two picks to help rebuild. The Giants on the other hand did a good job more for depth then fixing any problem. They recently lost Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs to the 49ers. But they got younger in those positions with their first and second round picks.

Me: Jeff, thanks again as always, it is fun talking to you. Hey, through May it's Star Wars month on the Phile. Can you come back through the month to talk about each film?

Jeff: Of course I would love to come back in May and talk all things Star Wars!

Me: Thanks, Jeff, I will see you then. Well done.


Well, it's political talk time on the Phile. The Democrats are saying this is the worst Presidential campaign can buy. I don't know why, so I thought I would invite a phriend of the Phile back to talk about it. So, please welcome back to the Phile, Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee.

Me: Hello, Patrick, welcome back. So, what's up? Why is this the worst campaign money can buy?

Patrick: Hello, Jason. Remember the mysterious, secretly funded, Koch-brothers-backed group called Americans for Prosperity, which flushed millions into the 2010 election to help Tea Party Republicans take back the House?

Me: Um... actually, no I don't.

Patrick: This is the same group that, along with Sarah Palin, supported and rallied for Scott Walker's fight in Wisconsin to strip union workers of collective bargaining rights.

Me: Oh, yeah, I vaguely remember that. What about it?

Patrick: Well, they're back... with a "multi-million dollar," "massive ad launch" to slam President Obama.

Me: And this is bad, right?

Patrick: We could face some serious damage... unless we fight back right away.

Me: Wow. Is there anything that can be done?

Patrick: Yes, Before tomorrow's critical FEC fundraising deadline, and before the damage is done, fight back against the Koch brothers' ad assault right now.

Me: Wow. So, that's why said this is the worst Presidential campaign in history...

Patrick: Actually, "We are about to have the worst presidential campaign money can buy," a Washington Post columnist recently wrote about super PACs and outside groups' new ability to raise and spend money.

Me: Oh, sorry. I thought you guys said it. What is it about these super PACS?

Patrick: Just look at pro-Romney super PAC spending during the GOP primary to get a glimpse of what we're up against. Outside groups are running millions of dollars in ads right now, with the express purpose of beating us before we even get the chance to fight back. Here's the kicker: This is in addition to Karl Rove's American Crossroads super PAC and Crossroads GPS, which plan to spend as much as $300 million and recently announced that they are already $100 million to their goal. His group is spending $1.7 million on ads right now attacking the president in six swing states critical to winning in November: Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. They also just launched ads in five states to help the GOP take the Senate this year. We're facing a big fundraising deadline at midnight tomorrow... and we're facing Karl Rove and the Koch brothers.

Me: Well, good luck. Keep us posted how it goes, Patrick.

Patrick: Thank you, Jason, being part of defending President Obama's record, our progress, and Democrats up and down the ticket.

Me: Thanks, but I didn't really do anything. Talk to you soon, Patrick.

Patrick: Thanks, Jason.

The 19th book to be pheatured in the P.P.B.C. is...

The author, Paul Myers, will be a guest on the Phile in an extra entry this Thursday. It'll be good.

Today's guest is Phile Alumni who was first on the Phile on November 1st, 2011. His recent album "The Invisible Man" is available on CD Baby and on May 19th his event Sound Off For Veterans will take place in Harrisburg, Pa. Please welcome back to the Phile... Chris Nelson.

Me: Hello, Chris, welcome back to the Phile. So, how have you been?

Chris: I've been recovering from the flu, but other than that, I'm okay.

Me: Since you were here I have had Tish Meeks from 3 Kisses back on the Phile. She's the one who introduced me to you. Have you heard from her recently?

Chris: I've followed her postings on Facebook, but I haven't really communicated with her much. She moved up to Alaska, but I think she wants to move back. I understand she's working on a new band or project or something. I'll have to go read the interview on the Phile.

Me: You're based in Pennsylvania, right? My wife is from the Mechanicsburg area. What part of Pennsylvania are you from?

Chris: Lebanon, which is about 30 miles to the east of Mechanicsburg.

Me: Do you still live there, Chris?

Chris: This will be my home for quite a while, I'm sure.

Me: Last time you were here you were plugging your "The Invisible Man" CD. Have you been working on any new music?

Chris: I've been doing a lot of writing and I have enough material for a new album, but it may be a while until I record anything. I'm currently working on putting together a complilation of recordings that I made from 1986 to 2005. I've gone back into the archives and have been remixing, retooling, and in some cases, re-recording portions of these tracks for the release. I'm about three fourths of the way through it. It will be called "Fish Stories: 1986-2005" and I hope to have it done around the end of the year. I'd also like to mention that "In Praise Of Failure" a songs from "The Invisible Man" was recognized by DAMES of PA as one of the top five songs of 2011.

Me: Nice, well done. Okay, let's talk about Sound Off For Vets. For those that don't know, explain what that is.

Chris: Sound Off for Vets is a free benefit concert put on by local musicians in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. We sell raffle tickets on prizes that have been contributed by community members, clubs, and businesses and we also have some items that sell to raise additional money. There's a 'tip jar' that we have placed near the stage area and two more that are located around the concert site where people can put in whatever they want to. Basically, it's an outdoor party to entice people into making a contribution while giving them something to listen to.

Me: The last benefit Sound Off For Vets was on Nov, 11th, 2011. How much did you raise, Chris?

Chris: About $1,111 before expenses were paid.

Me: That's a helluva coincidence. You must've been surprised and slightly suspicious that was the amount you arranged. Am I right?

Chris: Well, that whole event was a surprise. My friend Ric Albano... who has a thing about numbers... knew the guy who owns Champions Sports Bar and Grill in Highspire, where the event was held. The idea was to do something special for Veterans' Day. I was supposed to play, but I had to back out at the last minute. They drew quite a crowd, from what I heard. They also got a lot of clothing donations to go to the YWCA's homeless veterans program. I'd say it was a huge success, overall.

Me: What exactly is the Wounded Warriors Project, Chris?

Chris: WWP assists those combat-wounded veterans from the recent conflicts to deal with their disabilities. Sometimes its helping with overcoming physical disability, other times it's mental health counseling for deailing with the stress of living in a combat environment, some need assistance with job training and placement. There's a lot of services that they provide our wounded veterans. They have a complex near Jacksonville, Florida where they do most of their training and counseling.

Me: How did you come to be a part of all this? You founded Sound Off For Vets, right?

Chris: Yes. It all started when I was sent to cover a military funeral of an Army Lieutenant out of the Scranton area when I worked for the Pennsylvania Office of Veterans Affairs. He was a victim of a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. As I spoke with those who know him, I found out that he had been a musician and also played all the instruments on his records, although he perferred jazz. The point was, this could have been me a few years ago when I was still in the service. I had wanted to do something to give back to the military ever since I retired, but I didn't know what I could do. After the funeral experience, I really felt motivated to do something and started to explore different options. A friend of mine from Pittsburgh began organizing his "Pennsylvania Hero Walk" where a group of people walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh over the course of a few months to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. I've always wanted to do something like this with my music, since it's something I'm quite passionate about. I decided to make Sound Off an extension of the PA Hero Walk in 2010 and planned to hold it during the week when they were passing through Harrisburg. We held it on the deck of the Pride of the Susquehanna riverboat overlooking the shore. We drew a pretty good size crowd for a Thursday. The following year, we decided to hold it during Armed Forces Day, since it sort of fit with that theme. We raised close to $500 that day.

Me: Were you in the military at all?

Chris: Yes, I was in the U.S. Air Force from 1983 to 2004 and retired as an E-7 after 21 years.

Me: So, how is this years event different from the last one, Chris?

Chris: It's a little shorter since we have to clear out for the Harrisburg Senators baseball game scheduled for later that evening. Everything will have to be done by 4 pm to give time for the Army helicopters to take off. We will, however, be occupying the main stage, so we will be able to get more people's attention that way. This year, we're located in the center of all the activity. In years past, we were near the riverfront area. People didn't always know about us since the acoustics there swallow up the sound.

Me: Will it be at the same place?

Chris: Yes, on City Island in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Me: So, why do another one so soon after the last event?

Chris: The actual Sound Off for Vets happens every Spring. The first one was June 2010 and last year, we did it in May of 2011. The November event, Sound Off for Veterans Day was a special event for the year. Ric was intrigued by the 11.11.11 date and wanted to do something special. I haven't heard from him about if there will be another one for this Veterans Day.

Me:  Hey, maybe one year you can have Foghat play there... or not. LOL. How often are you gonna be doing these benefits, Chris?

Chris: Is Foghat still around?

Me: Yeah, believe it or not.

Chris: I am trying to make this a recognized annual event that will be associated with the city of Harrisburg. Even after all our troops are back home from overseas, many of them are going to be needing assistance with their injuries for years to come... in some cases, for the rest of their lives. We can't forget the sacrifices these people have made. I'm glad we have organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project to help.

Me: Who are some of the bands and acts who will be performing there this year with you this time? If any of them would like to be on the Phile, please let me know. I'd love to have them.

Chris: I'll pass along your information to them. We currently have Rhyne McCormick, Shift Seven, and Michael Anthony Smith and the Dirty, Thieving Gypsies... and me. Mike Smith and Shift Seven have played here before; in fact, Shift Seven was one of the bands in the first show. This year, all the acts have strong military connections. Rhyne McCormick and myself are both U.S. Air Force veterans and both Michael Anthony Smith and Shift Seven have relatives in the military.

Me: Chris, so, what's next for you?

Chris: Besides working on the retrospective album I mentioned earlier, I'm also going to be publishing my first science fiction novel on Amazon in a few weeks. I also plan to start recording, but I'm not sure when that will happen yet.

Me: Thanks for taking time out to do this interview. I know you must be busy getting everything organized, sir. Please come back soon when you are gonna do the next one, or your next album. Where can readers learn more about Sound Off For Vets and the Wounded Warrior Project, Chris?

Chris: The sound Off for Vets web site is; the Wounded Warrior Project site is

Me: And where can they purchase your music?

Chris: Go to my website and click on 'CDs." That will take you to the CD Baby page. They're also available through Apple iTunes, Rhapsody, and a whole bunch of other online distributors.

Me: All the best, good luck and maybe you can raise $5,1912. That would be way too weird, right?

Chris: Weird, but in a cool sort of way! Our goal for this year is to raise $1000. If we exceed that, I will be very, very happy!

Me: Take care and good job.

Chris: Thanks for having me on your blog!

Well, there you have it, another entry of the Phile done. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz, Patrick Gaspard and of course Chris Nelson. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Lila Rose. Then on Wednesday it's singer, songwriter Lisa Brigantino. There's an extra entry on Thursday with author Paul Myers, then next Sunday it's Ed Valauskas, the bass player for the band Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents. Wednesday also starts Star Wars Month here on the Phile. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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