Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Phorty-Phifth Birthday Special Entry Pheaturing Phile Alum Neara Russell

Good evening, and welcome to the Phile, I am youtr host, Jason, star of the new movie Day of the Phile. Haha. It's my birthday today as you can guess from the title. Not only is it my birthday but it's also the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest TV show's ever... "Doctor Who". Pretty cool, right? Did you know that in "Doctor Who", the Doctor's bow tie is red if the episode takes place in the future, and blue if it's in the past? It's trie for the tenth Doctor too. His suit was blue if they went forward in time and the brown if they went back in time. Crazy, eh?  Speaking of "Doctor Who"... If you are a nerd or a "Doctor Who" fan... and I do realize that one of those two things is a subset of the other because I am one, then you will be very happy to see Google's newest doodle, or Whodle: an 8-bit video game honoring the 50th anniversary of the classic series "Doctor Who", in which the player gets to choose from 11 of the 12 Doctors from the series. Technically, Richard Hurndall was playing the First Doctor in the 1983 episode "The Five Doctors" since William Hartnell had died. Still, the exclusion could be seen as somewhat irksome to a certain type of completist. Hope you like your game, nerds! Check out the Whodle...

I think my logo is cooler looking though. Haha.  The Texas State Board of Education voted yesterday to approve an environmental science textbook despite the fact that it contains some genuinely useful information concerning climate change and at no point makes any claim that Jesus stirs up hurricane winds with His scepter of judgement. Even representatives from the oil and gas industry were unable to stop the board from foisting the blasphemous book upon Texas youths. You know, I don't believe what the government says about the JFK assassination. I mean, no way Texas had a book depository. Hypochondriacs and Axe Body Spray aficionados are striking an unlikely accord these days, attempting to popularize the fist bump... or "terrorist fist jab", and hopefully overtake the much more popular, but dangerously unsanitary, handshake as a form of greeting. Handshakes have been found to expose more than three times as much skin contact to the onslaught of infectious bacteria which will multiply until the microscopic invading force makes its way into your body and wraps itself around your heart, at which point it will strangulate your blood flow until you are but a desiccated husk. Fist bumps have been shown to decrease this risk. It sucks when two dudes fist bump in front of me, and I have to pretend like I don't want one. Crystal Mangum, the woman who falsely accused three members of the Duke University lacrosse team of rape in 2006, was found guilty of second degree murder yesterday for the stabbing death of her boyfriend in 2011. Which means she is back in the market. But probably not for long, fellas. Send your roses to the North Carolina penitentiary system.  Colorado news anchor Kyle Clark really dislikes snow-covered patio photos, especially when his viewers send them in to the station after a big snow storm. Like, if Kyle Clark and a snow-covered patio photo were in the same room at a party, Kyle Clark would totally hand that snow-covered patio photo its ass. He is not playing around. If you or any member of your family are a snow-covered patio photo, you might not want to watch this editorial he delivered the other day. It's quite devistating! Disney, the greatest company to work for ever, and LucasFilm have confirmed that Star Wars: Episode VII screenwriter Lawrence Kasden and director J.J. Abrams will be figuring out some way to shoehorn beloved astromech droid R2-D2 into the highly-anticipated next installment of the popular continually-disappointing sci-fi film series. Probably the ghost of Yoda will possess and control him of some such shit.  Okay, like I said today is the 50th anniversary of "Doctor Who". Also 50 years ago today a band made a debut. I don't know the name of said band, but I have a photo of their first gig.

That might've been their last gig as well come to think of it.  So, today on my birthday I worked, kids. I didn't really do anything fun. This is the most fun I had today. I know, I'm sad. Anyway, do you wanna hear of a really big birthday celebration? In 2011, Gary Lenzner, a Holocaust survivor who escaped a World War II concentration camp, turned his 85th Birthday into an experience that was more than an adrenaline rush; it was a way to prove that Adolf Hitler, nor age itself, have been able to put out his flame. "I'd like to prove the son of a bitch didn't succeed," Lenzner said, as he jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet in the air, free-falling for about 40 seconds before landing safely by parachute on Nichol's Field in Jamul, east of San Diego, USA. Lenzner's skydiving dream has been nearly a decade in the making, and was carefully planned to prevent certain family members from finding out in advance because, as Lenzner put it, they would have "gone crazy" had they known of his daredevil plan. When asked why he wanted to skydive at 85, he replied, with a gleam in his eye, "You only live once. Once you're dead, you're dead." Good point, Lenzner, you're a better man than I am. Here's a picture of the crazy fool.

Speaking of crazy fools, last summer I mentioned that Geraldo Rivera tweeted a nearly-naked selfie, proudly of himself. Here is the photo I showed of Geraldo as a reminder...

Well, I joked maybe on my 45th birthday maybe I will show a similar selfie if someone reminded me. Well... I was reminded. So, true to my word, here we go...

Don't ever say I never gave you anything. LOL. I apologize. Sorry, people. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this weeks...

Top Phive Groups Of People Who Went To See The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
5. Fans who are painfully nostalgic for Jennifer Lawrence's old haircut.
4. Hemophiliacs who didn't want to risk a potentially fatal paper cut by reading the book.
3. Teen girls who see the series as a pointed commentary on our culture's callousness and its dangerous obsession with reality programming and also LIAM HEMSWORTH IS, LIKE, TOTES HOT! OMG!!!!
2. Stanley Tucci fanatics... or, as they call themselves, "Fanleys"
and the number one group of people who went to see Catching Fire...
1. Young females responding to Katniss's message of individuality by standing in line with every other teen in the country to see this movie.

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, before we continue, I have to show you this fun little "Doctor Who" game.

I'll play... first thing on my left is a red solo cup and straw with cream soda, on my right side is a box of Tabletopics cards and I am wearing a Nashville t-shirt. I am pretty screwed. Haha. I cna throw the cup of cream soda at a Dalek perhaps. Anyway, it's time to talk some football...

Me: Hey there, Jeff, welcome to the Phile for my 45th birthday entry.

Jeff: It's always good to be back on the Phile and to help you celebrate your birthday!

Me: Thanks. Okay, let's talk about football and not about me... Haha. So, did you see the story about the guy who fell 300 feet at the Jets/Bills game?

Jeff: Yes, I did hear about the fan who fell in Buffalo. As if being a Bills fan isn't tough enough, now you have to watch out for other fans falling from the rafters.

Me: There was another story about a guy getting his hair pulled out in a game, did you hear that one? What happened?

Jeff: I did hear about Andre Ellington losing his braids during a pile up. I don't know how or why that even needed to happen but he did wind up getting his braids back so I guess you could also say it was a happy ending?

Me: Perhaps. Haha. Alright, what football news do you have?

Jeff: The biggest news of the week comes from two of the biggest games coming down to calls by the referees. The first was on an unsportsmanlike conduct call on a 49ers player who hit Saints QB Drew Brees, which allowed the Saints to get into field goal range and win the game. The second came when the Panthers beat the Patriots. A flag was thrown in the end zone for pass interference but the refs huddled together then picked up the flag and said No penalty occurred. It was the last play of the game and a very odd way to end the game.

Me: Okay, so, the Giants and Steelers won... by the way, what's with the bee outfits?

Jeff: The Steelers Bumble bee jerseys are the team's throwback jerseys. That's what the team wore back in 1934. They seem to win a lot when they wear those so I say they wear them more often.

Me: Whatever works. Jeff, how did we do with last weeks picks?

Jeff: For the second straight week all three of our teams won earning us all a point. Not that it matters because Lori widened her lead with another 2-0 week, while I went 1-1 and you went 0-2. Lori leads by twenty points now!

Me: God, Lori!! I should get another point as it's my birthday! LOL.

Jeff: It doesn't quite work like that. Lori's birthday was opening weekend of the season and yours is in the middle. So if you get a point she would get a birthday point too. And it wouldn't be fair to me! So as commisoner I say no!

Me: Okay, fair enough. So, this weeks picks... I say your Steelers by five and Detroit by nine. What do you say?

Jeff: My picks for the week are Saints by seven and 49ers by three points. Lori picks are Chiefs by three and Lions by five.

Me: Good job, and see ya here next week. Have a good Thanksgiving.

Jeff: See you next week.

The 37th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Tabitha Lyons and she works for a company called Artyfakes. Here's a picture of her and something she helped make...

Tabitha will be a guest on the Phile a week from today.

It's 7:20 pm, 70° F and Kelly is pregnant!!! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

Okay, today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alumni whose album "Noise and Silence" and her latest single "Get Happy" are both available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile, the lovely and talented... Neara Russell!

Me: Hello, Neara, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Neara: Hiya, Jason! Great to be back. Thanks for having me! Lots happening in Nearaland, I’m happy to report :-)

Me: Before we start I have to tell you a friend of yours was on the Phile recently... Jill Krachmer. How long have you known Jill? I figured you met at Berklee, am I right?

Neara: Jill is the sweetest! So talented and awesome. We met in Boston when I was 15, when we both attended the Berklee Summer Songwriting Workshop. We bonded immediately, as vegetarian Midwestern girls. Now she’s one of my longest-running friends and helped me get settled when I first moved to L.A.

Me: She got engaged and was on the Phile in the same weekend. Do you think you'll be going to her wedding?

Neara: Aw Jill... I’m so so happy for her! We haven’t caught up on life since her engagement, but I would be thrilled to join the festivities in any way.

Me: So, what about you? Do you have a boyfriend? You seem to be so busy, who knows if you have the spare time, Neara.

Neara: Oh goodness. Not much time for that, I’m afraid. I’ve dated some wonderful people in my life, but am very focused on my career and self-development at the moment. I’m sure someone will magically appear when I least expect it.

Me: So, since you were last here you got a new tattoo. I have a picture of it here...

Me: What made you get a tattoo there? That is a painful spot I am guessing.

Neara: Surprisingly, it didn't hurt at all! And it's all healed up already, so my mom didn't have to worry :-)

Me: Tattoo's are kinda addicting... I have four myself and sure I'll get another one some time. Do you think'll you be getting another tattoo?

Neara: So addicting! I have more planned out, just saving up for them :-)

Me: That heart one is cute, did you draw it? It has to represent something, right?

Neara: Thanks, yes I did draw it. But I want all of my tattoos to be hand drawn by myself or people I love, and I want them to be in classy, artful places. I felt like the back of the neck was a sensitive, vulnerable place to start. It's one of the few places of the body you can't actually see without a mirror, and I wanted a heart there to remind me that love is always there even when you can't see it.

Me: Very cool. During this time last year I think I saw you on TV a half a dozen times, that is I think I did. You were playing in Bridgit Mendler's band. Are you still playing with her?

Neara: Yes! Bridgit is the coolest. I love performing with her and her band. We’ve had several TV appearances, on "X-Factor", "Good Morning America", and the Disney Channel. We just finished a headlining summer tour, which was a huge success and great work experience.

Me: Was it fun touring with her, Neara?

Neara: We are like a big happy touring family, Bridgit and the band and crew. She really likes to have fun as a team, being silly and having dance parties on the tour bus. It’s a great environment for everyone, which I feel lucky to be a part of.

Me: I am sure Bridgit gets recognized a lot in public, but with you being on TV so much, do you get recognized?

Neara: I never thought I’d have so many cool teenage girls in my fanbase! Bridgit is obviously pretty well known, and her fans are really supportive. They like to get to know the band as well as Bridgit, and I’ve gotten to meet so many awesome folks on the road. Thankfully, I haven’t had any paparazzi incidents yet though ;-)

Me: What was the best show you did with Bridgit or ever?

Neara: Oh gosh. The best show with Bridgit is impossible to say... they have all been so fun! It’s been exciting to be in the middle of an artist’s development, going from small radio shows to arena concerts in just a few months time. I’ve really enjoyed our international trips. Performing for fans in Europe and Singapore and Australia, halfway across the world, is a pretty humbling experience when you realize how important our concerts are for the audiences who waited days, weeks, months for this show.

Me: Who are you working with now?

Neara: I’m still playing shows with Bridgit, and working on my next solo album. I also perform with Dom Liberati, a badass rock artist from Ohio who’s rocking out in L.A. now, as well as violinist Lili Haydn and session musicians The Backliners. There are always cool new artists to perform and record with, and I love getting to know their music from the perspective of a live musician.

Me: You are mostly a keyboardist, right? How long have you been playing keyboards or piano?

Neara: I consider myself primarily a keyboardist, though I have extensive vocal experience as well. And I just love to sing! My dad was my first piano teacher, so I got started early. My first memories at the piano are from when I was a toddler, and I started studying seriously at age 6.

Me: Do you remember what the first song you learned to play was?

Neara: Hm... does my toddler-age atonal interpretation of Chopin count?

Me: Of course.

Neara: I started with a healthy mix of Beethoven and rock music when I first started. My dad wanted me to feel equally comfortable playing rock and classical piano. I remember playing along with Sheryl Crow’s self-titled record for hours when it was first released.

Me: What music or bands did you listen to growing up? Last time you were here you mentioned you were a Backstreet Boys fan. You liked them better then N'Sync?

Neara: Haha yep. My friends in middle school had constant arguments over BSB and N'Sync. Once I heard Incubus and Green Day for the first time, though, I was hooked. I was all about guitar rock after that. There was something visceral and passionate about their music that I couldn’t recreate on piano, but I tried anyway!

Me: We talked about "X-Factor" and "Idol" last time you were here, Neara, and I mentioned Kelly Clarkson. You said you have not met here yet, have you now?

Neara: Nope, not yet. Still waiting for that duet opportunity!

Me: Was there anybody you did meet and you were star struck?

Neara: I played a series of shows with Bridgit last winter that were sponsored by radio stations, where we shared the bill with other top hit artists in arena shows. That was amazing! We were backstage with Fun and One Direction and Taylor Swift. I got to hang with the boys from Walk the Moon, who are now some of my favorite people. I’ll admit, I stalked The Wanted a little bit ;-)

Me: Unfortunately I was out of it last year, but you played at the House of Blues at Disney with Bridgit. How was that show, and did you get to do anything fun while you were here? Did you hang out at Disney?

Neara: Yeah, that was a fun show! We have performed a few times at Disneyland in Anaheim, and got to go on the VIP rides. My first time at Disney World AND Disneyland was last year! We also had some great shows at Six Flags and Busch Gardens, so we’ve had some quality rollercoaster time this summer.

Me: You know you need to come back to Orlando soon, right?

Neara: You betcha! Didn’t get enough time on our last visit.

Me: Last time you were here you were plugging your album "Noise and Silence". Is that album still doing well?

Neara: Yes it is, thanks for asking! I’m actually in the process of mixing my next album, collecting songs and producing them for an evolved sound. Will keep you posted.

Me: By the way, did you play on Bridgit's album or did you just tour with her?

Neara: No, the album was already mixed when she hired the band. I love studio work, though. That is a whole different world from touring, with a different set of skills. I really enjoy the precision and creativity needed for studio work.

Me: This year you have a new single out called "Get Happy". I love that song, and I feel like you're singing to me. I'm a pretty miserable person... Haha. Who are you singing to actually, Neara?

Neara: Aw, I hope “Get Happy” helps you get happy when you listen to it! I have my moments of feeling down, like anyone does, and this song helps me when I need it. I kind of wrote it as a song to myself, to remind myself to lighten up :-)

Me: So, you wrote the song?

Neara: Did you write the song? Yes, I did. I typically write and produce my songs 100% on my own. 

Me: Will you be making a video for "Get Happy", apart from the lyric video that is out?

Neara: Maybe in the future! For now, that lyric video was a huge labor of love that will last me awhile. Someday I’d like to create videos for every one of my songs. I love the idea of audiovisual interaction to enhance a song.

Me: You, my dear, always seem happy. Every picture I ever saw of you have an amazing smile. There is one picture of you soaked from the rain where you are making an Elvis snarl. What happened here?

Neara: Ha! I’m a bit goofy in my photos, as you know from my Instagram. That was an amazing night in Florida, actually ... We were on tour, walking to see a movie, and got caught in a rainstorm. Kind of scary at the time, but makes for a great story afterwards.

Me: So, are you recording a new album?

Neara: Yes, I’m writing and demoing new songs as we speak. Still designing the vision of this album and deciding how to release it, but many of the songs are ready to share already.

Me: And you still playing with the Backliners?

Neara: The Backliners are my boys! I’ll work with them til they kick me out, haha. We just wrapped a music video with pop/rock artist Savannah Phillips. What a terrific group of musicians, I’ve learned so much from with them and can’t wait for more Backliners adventures this fall!

Me: Neara, okay, this year on the Phile I am asking random questions... are you ready? This is thanks to Tabletopics... What's the most beautiful place you have ever seen? You have been all around the world so this might be hard.

Neara: Oh my. Thanks Tabletopics for the great question! I love so many destinations in the US of A, especially in the mountains. We just played a show in Salt Lake City in the midst of the most beautiful mountains. I felt like such a rock star. Australia was an amazing place to explore. The cliff walks in Sydney were magical. So were the Botanic Gardens in Singapore, with these spectacular orchid and ginger flowers. And a segment of real rainforest! I was entranced. Hope to visit again soon, and find more beautiful places.

Me: Neara, thanks for being on the Phile. Please come back soon, I am a fan, and you are fun to chat to. Go ahead and plug your website and continued success.

Neara: Of course, I’d love to join you anytime! Thanks for having me back on the Phile! You can keep up with my whereabouts on Instagram and Twitter, as well as my website: Thanks, Jason and all your readers... hope to chat with you again soon :-)

Me: Thanks, Neara.

That about does it for this entry. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz and Neara Russell. The Phile will be back Monday with Will Thomas, lead singer for the band Grand Old Grizzly. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. And now to watch "Doctor Who"...

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