Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pheaturing Phile Alum Chris Nelson

Hello, and welcome to another entry of the Phile, for a Wednesday, how are you? So, I received a few emails about our dog which I showed you in yesterday's 7th Anniversary entry. Most people know I'm not a big fan of animals, or having pets, so having a dog is a bit odd for me. My wife approached me out of the blue last week and said, "I want to get a dog." I was like why, we don't need one. She said Logan should have a dog, all kids should have a pet growing up. He had Hermit crabs and fish, those were his pets. Well, we went to the Humane Society to look and the next thing you know we adopted Griffin Slash. He seems good so far, he only shit in the kitchen once and barked at me as I came down the stairs. But he seems like a cute dog. And yes, occasionally I'll post pictures of him here on the Phile.   Yesterday on the Phile as well it was announced I teamed up with Fogdan and we released a single called "Bicycle of Oppression" under the name Strawberry Blondes Forever that is available on iTunes, Amazing, Bandcamp, CDBaby. I'll give you the websites in a bit. Like Dan said yesterday, I wrote the lyrics and Dan did the rest of the work. Anyway, go buy that single. There'll be an EP coming out later in the year.  Now for the comedy...  Democrats said they want another trillion dollars in taxes. Didn't we just give them $620 billion last Wednesday? Is that gone already? Who is running this, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?  Scientists in China say obesity may be caused by bacteria in your stomach. Three of the most common carriers of the bacteria are pizza, cheeseburgers, and doughnuts.  Police in Brazil have apprehended a cat that has been traveling in and out of a men's prison with various escape tools, like saw blades and drill bits, taped to its body. The judge was pretty harsh. Today, the cat received nine life sentences.  Lance Armstrong now says he may admit that he used performance enhancing drugs. I guess he realized he’s the only person in the world who still wasn’t sure about it. Lance Armstrong’s lawyer is denying reports that he will admit to using performance-enhancing drugs. He said that Lance has been very consistent about his intentions to just keep lying about it. Well, hockey fans, the hockey lockout is over. We had no hockey in October. I knew the NHL lockout would be settled once it was purchased by al-Jazeera.  Lindsay Lohan was in court again. She's been sworn in so many times she has Bible elbow.  Chuck Hagel is the new secretary of defense nominee. They are saying that he may be reluctant to send troops into a war zone needlessly. What kind of a nut job is this guy?  Joe Biden and his wife left D.C. this weekend for a five-day vacation in the Caribbean. Of course, most of that time will be spent telling him that Margaritaville isn’t a real place.  A new study found that our personalities change about once every 10 years. And if you disagree with the study... well, just give it 10 years.  On Friday a passenger on a flight to JFK had to be restrained with duct tape after he got drunk and started yelling at other passengers. Duct tape to hold someone in their seat... or as Southwest Airlines calls that, "a seatbelt."  Who is a "Star Trek" fan? I like "Star Trek", but not the biggest fan. I do like vinyl records though, and that's why I liked this random inspirational poster.

I went to the supermarket yesterday and I saw something I really wanted to try, but was kinda hesitant...

I have to add my own beer? Forget that, Larry.  So, this year is gonna be big on movies, but there's one movie that is coming out that's not getting a lot of attention. Maybe now that the poster is out, things may be different.

Alright, so, as you probably know right now I am trying to get Kelly Clarkson so I have this campaign poster. Copy it, post it on your social network sites, we need to get the word out to her.

And if you wanna make your own Kelly Clarkson campaign poster to try and get her on the Phile email it to me at Alright, lets go to the movies...

To call Quentin Tarantino's films messy is a sky-blue, water-wet sort of thing. It no longer counts as a problem; it's where the man lives. His films digress and sprawl, they slow down, they explode back to life, they detour into comedy or extreme violence, they court scorn and push boundaries. They pack in details, sometimes extraneous, go-nowhere details, because who knows when he'll ever get the chance to make another film. He buttonholes you, he's gotta get everything out, it's urgent for him. Cinema is waiting to be put in a blender and served up in the biggest glass he can find. And the result is one splattery pop pleasure after another.  Django Unchained is the second in a who-knows-how-many-there'll-be series of revisionist revenge projects from Tarantino. Inglourious Basterds saw the filmmaker imagining a much more satisfyingly fiery resolution to World War II than the one where Hitler just quit. And in the process Tarantino pushed his own agenda, the one where he gets to re-package film history to align it more satisfyingly with his own frenziedly excited fandom and "termite art" scholarship. Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave in pre-Civil War America, has one thing on his mind, reuniting with his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) after the brutal indignities of slavery tear them apart. Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a dentist turned bounty hunter, selects Django to be his assistant in "kill[ing] people and sell[ing] their corpses for cash" in exchange for his freedom. To explain the convoluted plot that takes up the remaining two and a half hours would take about as long, so just know that Django displays an unusual gift for firing guns at his chosen targets, a capacity for never breaking character when it's time to trick unsuspecting bounty marks and a thirst for bloody personal revenge that will leave you cheering his approach to ending the shameful institution of slavery, one redneck and plantation at a time.  It's exactly what you expect from Tarantino, so if this movie finds itself challenged in any way, it's in being expected. It's not only the next provocation in a career devoted to rubbing everything the wrong way, it's also thematically similar to Inglourious Basterds. That film had the privilege of being first in line, prepping audiences for the kind of factual disregard that felt so surprising and thrilling as the director set fire to events as every history class knew them. Django is no less exciting to witness, it's just that you've already been prepped for outlandishness.  Best of all, Tarantino isn't just remixing. He shoots holes in received wisdom. When he grinds up the grindhouse and serves it up fresh again its with an infusion of cultural critique, about history's winners and losers and heroes and villains, about narratives of victimhood and acceptable forms of brutality, about love and hate and violence how it shapes the way we see the world and how we see movies.  I trust this phase, this series, whatever it winds up being. Over the past two decades, this director has not yet succumbed to diminishing returns. He's too smart and full of his own maniacal devotion to his art to give audiences anything less than the kind of film he, himself, would want to watch. And by sneaking in through the side door he gets us every time. From 1 to 10, the movie gets a 9, and yeah, I'll probably buy it when it comes out.

Well, it's Wednesday, and all through football season I have invited my good friend Jeff to the Phile to talk football. So, please welcome back to the Phile... Jeff Trelewicz. It's...

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome back to the Phile for the second day in the row. Thanks for taking part in the 7th anniversary entry. How are you?

Jeff: It's my pleasure to be here two days in a row! I'm doing okay. Hope the new year is treating you well.

Me: Well, we got a new dog, so we'll see. So, what's the NFL news this weekend?

Jeff: The biggest news is teams looking for their new coaches. Andy Reid all ready has a new job in Kansas City. This week we saw two rookie quarterbacks face off in the playoffs. Russell Wilson beat RG3, but mostly due to Griffen's injury. He may have torn his ACL in the game but refused to come out, so it hurt his team.

Me: Let's talk about a non football topic real quick, what do you think of the NHL being back? Whose going on strike next?

Jeff: I'm glad to see NHL come back. Hopefully we are done with striking leagues or a decade.

Me: Golf, I want the golfers to go on strike. LOL. Alright, Jeff, you were ahead by seven. How did we do with the Wild Card Picks?

Jeff: I went 2-2 and you had a perfect week. So now my lead is just 2 points!

Me: What? I did?! Whoo-weee. I am coming back, baby! Okay, four teams left, right? Let's pick em! I say the Ravens will beat the Broncos by 9, the Packers will beat San Francisco by 3, Seattle will win by two and finally Texas will beat New England by 9. God, I hope I do good this week. What do you pick, Jeff?

Jeff: I'm going with Denver by three points, New England over Houston by 9 points. Green Bay will win by 7 and Atlanta beats Seattle by 3 points.

Me: Good deal, Jeff. Alright, so there's not gonna be a Phile entry next Wednesday so I'll see you back here a week from Sunday. Take care.

Jeff: See you next week!

It's back, boys and girls, The Peverett Phile Book Club. The 22nd book to be pheatured in the club is...

For generations of entranced readers, and now a new generation of filmgoers, Tolkien is synonymous with his most famous creation... the hobbit. The beloved characters of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin have been much-adapted for radio, television, film, and stage. Lynette Porter follows the hobbits through these many other lives, from Tolkien's on-page revisions and John Boorman's unmade screenplays, through to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and its musical counterpart. She also reviews over 50 years of "Hobbit Art", including the work of Alan Lee, John Howe, and Ted Nasmith. Journeying through fanzines, videogames, fanfiction, and more, Porter demonstrates how the hobbits, their characters, and their stories continue to introduce new audiences to Tolkien's work, in new and adapted forms. The book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Lynnette, who is a Phile Alum, will be a guest again in a few weeks.

Alright, today's pheatured guest is a third time Phile Alum whose latest CD "Fish Stories 1986 - 2005" is now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Chris Nelson.

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

Chris: I’m good! Thanks for asking.

Me: Okay, before we get into the new album let's talk about Sound Off For Vets. First thing, for readers that don't know what that is, can you explain it?

Chris: Each year, we get a group of local musicians together on Armed Forces Day and put on a benefit concert to generate funds for the Wounded Warrior Project and raise awareness of our wounded veterans. Even though the conflicts that our forces have been involved in are starting to wind down, those who were wounded will be needing support and assistance for a long time yet to come. The Wounded Warrior Project is there to help these people re-integrate into their lives and overcome their disabilities through counseling, job skill training, and family support.

Me: Okay, so, since last time you were here you had had another Sound Off For Vets show in Harrisburg. How did that go, Chris?

Chris: It went very well. We were located in the central part of the Armed Forces Day Celebration event that takes place yearly on City island in Harrisburg. We also had a stage, which attracted people to the show This was something we had a lot of trouble doing in our previous location by the riverside. There were some really great performances by the bands and musicians who were there. I think everyone had a good time.

Me: How much money did you guys make for The Wounded Warriors Project? Was it $5,1912 like I predicted?

Chris: We made close to $1000, which was our goal for the event. This was the first time that we had a goal and that, in itself, is significant.

Me: Speaking off the WWP, I was in Tampa in the Summer and on a store's front window, actually, it might of been a hair saloon, I saw a WWP sticker. I wish I took a picture of it, Chris. And I work at Disney World, and a few months ago saw a guest in a WWP t-shirt. I mentioned Sound Off and he told me to say thank you for everything you have done. So, on behalf of this random stranger, thank you. Do you get a lot of that? Random people thanking you? You should, Chris.

Chris: Not really, but it’s not about me, it’s about these vets who’ve put their lives on the line for our county without question. They’re the ones who should be thanked. The Wounded Warrior Project has a large facility in Jacksonville, so I imagine you’d see quite a few of those in that area.

Me: And have you ever seen a WWP or t-shirt in a random place?

Chris: I just saw a guy wearing a yellow WWP shirt in a television spot for WWP from the local area. I think he was from the PA Hero Walk. They are also selling WWP t-shirts in the Post Exchange on Carlisle Barracks. They seem to be getting popular.

Me: So, in 2013 is there gonna be another Sound Off For Vets concert?

Chris: Of course! It’s a challenging job putting it all together, but I’d like to think that all the work is worth it. Ultimately, I’d like this to become a signature event for the city of Harrisburg, if not the entire central Pennsylvania region. My friend Carmen Magro put on a show in the Philadelphia area based on the Sound Off idea. It would be great to see other Sound Off events start popping up all over the state. 

Me: You live in Lebanon in Pennsylvania, right? Have you lived in Pa. all your life?

Chris: No, I was born in Brooklyn, NY and my family moved to Pennsylvania when I was 9. After I joined the U.S. Air Force, I’ve lived in New Mexico, California, Washington, Germany, and Italy. My family and I have been here for eight years.

Me: Ever been to Aroogas?

Chris: No, but they just opened one in Harrisburg and there’s one on the way into Hershey on Rt 22. I don’t think they feature live music, though. Here, they’re more of a sports bar. I haven’t visited it, yet. 

Me: They have a good nacho and cheese dish, Chris. Okay, let's talk about your latest release, "Fish Stories: 1986-2005". That is almost like a greatest hits album, right?

Chris: More like a “greatest misses.” At the time most of those recordings were made, I didn’t really have a lot of the opportunity for exposure that I do now. My recording equipment wasn’t as good, either. I started in 1986 with a Tascam PortaOne Ministudio that used cassette tapes, which I used until the recording head wore out. Interesting side note here: On the liner notes of the Foo Fighter’s "Greatest Hits" album, Dave Grohl says he used a Tascam Midistudio, which was the next generation of that same recording deck, which came out in 1994. That one has a few more bells and whistles on it. The songs are good songs, in my opinion, and I wanted them to be heard by more people. It also surprised me how long I’ve actually been doing this. Nineteen years is a long time. One or two did get some attention for a while, but it really was short-lived. For example, “Stormcloud” wound up getting played on a goth station for a while in 2002 and “Into A Dream” was used on a military wife support web site in 2003. There were a lot more songs that I would’ve liked to include, but I didn’t think there’d be enough support for a double album right now.

Me: For readers that don't know, before you were a solo artist you were in a band called Fishkill. I don't know if I ever asked you before, but where did the band name Fishkill come from?

Chris: I was looking for something with a punk attitude, but slightly silly. I saw this news story about a fish kill that had happened as the result of some sort of spill and it just struck a chord with me. Fish, to me have always seemed a little silly. So, you have something silly and violence included in the same phrase. It’s my Monty Python style of humor at work here. I was recording under that name for a long time. When I left Washington, I wanted to turn the project into a full band, since I always thought of the project as a band with me just filling in for the missing members. When I was still recording under that name someone from Fishkill, NY emailed me and asked if I’d play up there. It was a bit far to drive from Washington state, but that’s how I found out there’s a town out there with the same name! That would’ve been cool, if I could’ve done it.

Me: Some of the tracks you redid the vocals and guitars, right?

Chris: Yes. In some cases, everything had to be redone. On “Stormcloud,” one of the original guitar tracks somehow got corrupted, so I had to re-do them. On “Threats, Lies, and Empty Gestures,” I wanted a stronger guitar presence than the original. “Make It Shine” was supposed to have live drums on the original version, but I kept getting lost in the song when I tried to record it. It was actually easier to add live drums after everything else was finished. Many of the vocal tracks were in bad shape or they lacked the tonal quality that I was looking for. The song “What You Think” was supposed to have live drums, but I didn’t have access to anywhere where I could record them. The version on this disk is the original concept I had for the song. I really went through and overhauled almost every one of the recordings, taking them completely apart and rebuilding them from the ground up. This gave me a chance to fix many of the things that had bothered me about the original versions.

Me: All of the tracks are just you, Chris, but one track has your original band Fishkill members. Is there a Fishkill reunion in the future?

Chris: I floated that possibility to Jack Hawk, who’s still a good friend of mine, but he’s pretty busy and Mike Williams is in another band, so I don’t think he’s available right now. I miss those guys; we had a good time together and I think we were very creative, both in arranging the songs and performing them onstage. We could jam on a moment’s notice on pretty much any song we did and still be entertaining. Unfortunately, the band couldn’t establish much of an audience, so we called it quits. I would like to hold a reunion during one of the Sound Off concerts. It isn’t in the cards as of right now, but it would be nice.

Me: Do you like playing solo and doing your own stuff, or being in a band, better?

Chris: I like to play my own music. Covers are okay, but I really want people to hear what I have to say. I loved being in a band because the sound is intense and I think people react stronger to a band than they do to a solo performance. Unfortunately, unless you’re a cover band or want to make frequent trips to Philadelphia and New Jersey, there’s no audience support in this area. With gas prices the way they are, I can’t see driving all that distance to perform as being profitable. All the profits from the gig would go in the gas tank. At least I sort of get to play in a band when I record.

Me: I downloaded your Christmas single "Coming Home For Christmas" from iTunes. That's dedicated to the people in the military, right?

Chris: Thanks for doing that! It’s about those who didn’t come home from the war, so to speak. All the proceeds from that song are going to Honor and Remember, a group seeking to establish a national symbol for those armed forces members killed in battle. I can’t take credit for the whole song, however, since I co-wrote that with my long-time e-pal, Col. Walt Johnson, of Turtle Pond Music in Florida. He’s a Vietnam veteran, and he sent out a poem he’d written just before Christmas last year about the ghosts of fallen soldiers visiting their homes for the holidays. I read it and immediately asked him if this was a song he was working on. He told me that he hadn’t thought of it that way, but if I had an idea, I should run with it. I came up with the music and sent him a demo. I had originally wanted him to play on the record, but he thought our musical styles weren’t compatible. I re-recorded the full version that you have and the rest, as they say, is history. I’d like to make a video for this someday, but time and opportunity aren’t on my side, lately.

Me: Have you been recording any new music for a new album?

Chris: Yes. I have one track complete and I’m working on others for a brand new album. It should be done around this time next year, if life doesn’t get in the way again. It will be a slightly different sound from what you’re used to, but still familiar enough to identify who’s playing. I’ll start working on those recordings after the holidays are over. I’m also writing music for a very special project that is a novel written with music. Developing the material for this has been very challenging, since you can’t just put down the first lyric that fits into your head. You’re conveying a storyline and everything must fit into the overall structure of the story. It will be some time before this gets to the studio production phase. In addition, I’ve been working with a few other songwriters either recording their music or helping develop songs. It keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. Q: Apart from being a musician you are also a sci-fi author. You have a book published, right?

Me: I do, actually, I wrote it back in 1998, but it has been languishing here and there in the few places that I had it posted. I tried the traditional route, but most of the publisher representatives wanted to turn it into their own style of writing. It is currently on as a self-published work. I had some limited success with some "Star Trek" fan fiction and a handful of science fiction short stories that have been electronically published onlne.

Me: Was is it called, Chris?

Chris: “Through the Darkest Depths of Space”.

Me: How long did it take you to write?

Chris: About a year. That’s an odd situation since the book evolved from a short story which kept growing. I usually like to know where I’m going when I write a story.

Me: Is that something you see yourself doing more in the future, writing?

Chris: I plan to begin work on a new science fiction novel that I will try to get published the traditional way. I’m not really happy with self-publishing, since in order to get anywhere you wind up buying your own books, selling them at tables, and basically supporting your own book tour. That winds up costing a lot of money. If I’m already doing that with music, I just don’t see any value in it.

Me: I have to add that book to the Peverett Phile Book Club. Maybe I will have you back to talk about just the book, what do you think?

Chris: Sounds good to me, I think those who like that sort of thing will like the book. It’s full of action and adventure as well as intrigue and mystery.

Me: Chris, did I ever ask you your music influences? If not, who are your musical influences?

Chris: It’s a very long list: · Steve Miller Band, The Jam, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Blur,  The Smithereens, The Who, REM, Genesis, Various 60s pop bands, Clutch, old blues artists.

Me: Before you go, I have to ask you about a singer named Mycenea Worley. She's really cute... she performed at the Sounds Off show, right? Do you think she'll wanna be interviewed here on the Phile?

Chris: I’ll send her an email, and ask her to contact you. You can also reach her through her Reverbnation site.

Me: I am doing extra random questions this year, so here is yours... Q: What's the hardest thing you've ever done?

Chris: I would have to say transitioning from the military has been the hardest thing I've ever done. You have to understand that for over 20 years, I know pretty much the ins and outs of the Air Force and I had gathered a little experience and seniority. Then, one day, it was all gone and I had to start back at the beginning again. I relocated back to Pennsylvania and went looking for another job thinking I had all this experience and know-how only to find out that the skills were not in demand as I had originally thought. I wound up working for less money than I had made while in the service and working in an entry-level job where essentially, I was being taken advantage of. I also had to get used to the way things were done in the civilian world, where there were not as many protections as there are within. It was a major adjustment to which i do not believe i've fully adjusted. in fact, I'm sure that I will never fully adjust to it as I always seem more comforatble around the military environment than I do in the civilian one. i honestly didn't think that was the way that it would be when I first retired. You just have to go through it to understand. Trivia note: the song "Through That Door" off of the Nightfall album is in anticipation of the upcoming retirement from the military.

Me: Chris, thanks for coming back. Go ahead and plug all your websites and please come back, okay?

Chris: Thanks for having me back! You can find me at:,,,,,,, and

Me: That's a lot of websites. Take care, Chris.

That's it for this entry, kids. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz and Chris Nelson. The Phile will be back on Saturday with Phile Alum Martin Belmont from Graham Parker and the Rumour. Don't forget you can download Strawberry Blondes Forever's new single "Bicycle of Oppression" which is a song I wrote at,, Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

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