Monday, April 29, 2013

Pheaturing Rees Shad

Hello, kids, welcome to another entry of the Phile. How are you?  The other day was the NFL draft... did you feel it? The draft. The NFL draft is a huge deal. This is the time when college football players go from being paid under the table to being paid OVER the table. The number one NFL draft name for 2013 is Barkevious Mingo. It sounds like a character from "Game of Thrones."  All five living presidents were in Dallas this week for the opening of the George W. Bush presidential library. President Obama said he was happy to support the opening of the library. He should be. After all, Bush got him elected twice. Blame Bush on that one, sir! In President Bush's high school yearbook, he was voted least likely to have a library named after him. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was in Texas  for the dedication of George W. Bush’s presidential library. The library is already done, but they brought in Christie for a second groundbreaking.  The $100 bill is getting redesigned for the first time since 1996. It has new security features that will make it harder to counterfeit. And this is kind of amazing: Benjamin Franklin's hair is real. You can comb it and everything.  NBC has plans for a new game show called “The Million Second Quiz,” in which contestants will answer trivia questions 24 hours a day for 12 days straight. Does NBC really expect us to pay attention to something that lasts a million seconds? I can barely get through a 45-second cat video on YouTube.  There’s a new iPhone app that tells women where they can buy Michelle Obama’s clothes. Not only that... there's another app that tells men where they can buy Hillary Clinton's clothes.  The stars of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” have a new project in the works. Yeah, they say they're working on a family cookbook. Which sounds good until you find out that the first recipe is just going to McDonald's.  A new study has found that men have a hard time reading women's facial expressions. The main reason? They are not usually looking at her face.  Basketball great Dwight Howard, who reportedly has four children from four different mothers, is expecting a fifth child with a fifth woman. Dwight’s going to be a father again... as opposed to the rest of the Lakers, who are mostly grandfathers.  You know what the worst job in America is? It's newspaper reporter. I guess the pollsters forgot to ask the guy who cleans the toilets at Dodger Stadium how things are going for him. It was dubbed the worst job because it's high stress, low pay, and often requires working in dangerous conditions. This must have been a fun story for the newspaper reporters to report. “Hey guys, guess what? Our lives stink." According to a study, the best job in America is actuary... primarily because no one knows what an actuary is. So they don't have to do much.  The Internet celebrated a major milestone this week. It’s the eighth anniversary of the very first video uploaded to YouTube. YouTube was founded in 2005 by a small group of visionaries who asked the question, “What if nobody in America ever got anything done ever again?”  Have you seen the new warning sign being made? I have no idea what the hell it means.

Where are they gonna put it?  Did you see the ad that the drug companies put out? I am not sure this is a good thing.

My son and I went to Game Stop the other day, as he wanted to get a new video game for his XBox. I swear, they'll release a game about anything.

It might be good. Not exactly "Halo" I know.  One of the things I like to do in my spare time is go on Twitter and look up certain words. One of those words is Foghat, and this is what I recently found.

Is that a compliment? I don't know. Hey, guess who joined me in the Phile's office...

He never hangs out with me when I'm doing the Phile. Griffin is a cool dog. What was I gonna do next? Oh, yeah... Alright, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this week's...

Top Phive Under-Reported Events At The Opening Of The George W. Bush Presidential Library
5. The festivities got started with Bush doing a stirring reading from "My Pet Goat".
4. Donald Rumsfield was heard commenting, "You open a library with the books you have, not the books you want."
3. After the ninth time, people just stopped correcting Bush when he said "li-berry".
2. Al Gore wept during the entire ribbon-cutting ceremony.
And the number one under-reported even at the opening of the Bush presidential library was...
1. Colin Powell arrived very late, claiming he was given "bad intelligence." (Just kidding, Powell didn't go. He still considers Bush a dumb, lying warmonger.)

If you spot it, email me at Alright, well, he was here yesterday, and he is here again today. You know what time it is, kids. Please welcome back to the Phile... singer, patriot, renaissance man, and phriend of the Phile... Laird Jim.

Good morning, humans... time to beat Monday's ass! Just stopped some JAG-OFF from kicking his dog. It was a beautiful Husky/Shep mix puppy... just doing what puppies do. Being a pain in the ass as biting at his leash trying to be playfull. This idiot starts kicking the dog like a soccer ball. I told him that if he didn't stop within 5 minutes, I'd have a video of him up on YouTube with a fat lip and a leash around his neck. He stopped... and the little girl on the corner, holding her mother's hand smiled and blew me a kiss. When life gives you lemons... make certain it also gives you water, sugar and ice or your lemonade is really gonna taste like shit.

Thanks, Laird. Man, I would of got mad at that guy for kicking his dog as well. Alright, the 30th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Chris Hamer, and this is one of his pieces...

Chris will a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.


Today's pheatured guest is a professor and musician whose albums are available on iTunes and could be heard on the Graham Parker tribute album "Piss & Vinegar". Please welcome to the Phile... Rees Shad

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

Rees: I'm doing great, thanks. You?

Me: I could be better. Rees Shad is a cool name, very Star Wars-ish. Does it have a meaning?

Rees: Double last name syndrome... Rees was my grandmother's maiden name. Welsh from enthusiastic. Never thought of it as Star Wars-ish, but I'm cool with that. Actually my whole name is Rees Edward Eric Shad, which makes me an acronym… kinda weird.

Me: I used to write stories and I had a character who was a professor named Professor Rees. But Rees stood for Ready Every Eternal Second. That's pretty lame, right?

Rees: Ah, you were working with acronyms too! Have to give that to my students, who interestingly enough call me "Professor Rees."

Me: I interviewed a few musicians who are also professor's in the last few years. So, what do you teach and where do you teach?

Rees: I taught for several years at my alma mater Parsons, where I focused on usability studies and interactive design, but started developing curricullum for the City University of New York (CUNY) about seven years ago. That led to me developing media programs (graphic design, animation, game design, and music production) for a CUNY community college in the South Bronx called Hostos... a really wonderful place founded on social activism and true community development. Within months I was applying for a full time position there, and shortly thereafter became the coordinator of the programs I had designed. Its an incredible gig with really lovely and dedicated folks making a difference in a community that by and large has been left out of the world of media development.

Me: How long have you been a professor?

Rees: Nine years.

Me: You were a musician first, am I right?

Rees: Yep.

Me: How long have you been a musician, Rees?

Rees: I started writing songs when I was four, and recording them only a couple of years later. Started recording in ernest when I was fourteen, and started my record company Sweetfish when I was still in high school. How long? I guess that would be about 45 years, but working professionally for over thirty years.

Me: I first heard about you when I recently got the reissue of the Graham Parker tribute album "Piss & Vinegar". I love your version of "Long Stem Rose". That's the only song on the whole I like better then the original. Did you decide to make it more uptempo?

Rees: My dear friend and mentor Gary Burke had played on the Parker album with "Long Stem Rose" on it, and when I heard the song for the first time I started working out arrangements in my head that were a bit less chamber based. My band and I had actually jammed the tune up here and there, so when we got the call asking if we'd contribute to the project, it was an easy choice. We didn't listen to the original track, just plugged in and worked it until it felt like us.

Me: Were you aware of Graham before you were asked to take part with the CD?

Rees: Are you kidding? I was a huge fan from early on. "Mercury Poisoning" was a little record industry lesson when it came out. Got me investigating contract negotiations long before I ever had to deal with that stuff. Years later, Graham sang on my debut album "Anderson, Ohio". It was, Graham , Guy Clark, and I singing a cross generational story of young men and the wars of the 20th Century called "Hero's Son." So when the opportunity to express my thanks came along (the "Piss & Vinegar album), I leapt at the chance.

Me: Have you heard from Graham what he thinks of your version of his song?

Rees: We were hanging out back stage at a show in Albany, NY where my band opened up for him and the Figgs. He was very kind and complementary.

Me: Rees, where are you from and where do you live now, sir?

Rees: I grew up in Manhattan, but moved to upstate New York to go to college. I settled there and started a recording studio on an old dairy farm. I toured for years and did the record industry thang, but always went back upstate. After a couple of decades doing that, I went back to grad school and started commuting into NYC to teach. I live now in Putnam County about an hour from the South Bronx where Hostos is.

Me: You work in your own studio, right? How long have you had that studio?

Rees: I ran and operated a studio called Sweetfish according for almost 20 years. We worked with some major label acts and a bunch of folks that should have been but didn't get the support they needed. A few years ago, I began recording more original music for film and theater projects under the name Fester Spunk, and I picked up a hammer and built a new studio that I call Stressless Sound. A little production space where I can record drums and such, but no big console room like in the old days.

Me: Do you rent it out often?

Rees: My son, who grew up in the studio, has since become an incredible audio engineer. Much better than his old man ever was. He and I work with various projects at Stressless, but we don't rent out the space the way we used to at Sweetfish.. Just work on stuff that we're creating or producing.

Me: Fester Spunk. That's another cool name. Where did that name come from?

Rees: Uncle Fester but with more Spunk. It was a persona that just seemed to fit when I was in grad school at Parsons and creating music for other students' projects. Nothing like the old Rees Shad stuff with acoustic guitar and narrative word-smithery. Synths and samples and computer experiments... this music needed another personality on the mast head.

Me: How would you compare Spunk's music to the music you release under your own name?

Rees: Rees Shad is a story teller. Fester Spunk is an experimenter. But Spunk is also a jokester... he's a member of the comedic rock band Scheissfinger. This is a collection of some of my dearest friends who come together periodically and record insane concept records... a rock opera about my 4th grade shop instructor, a musical based on the classic film Deep Throat called "Cumalot"… just weirdness, and not for everyone. So Spunk is about doing something unexpected, while Rees Shad is about getting serious about the issues at hand and uncovering central narratives in the human experience. He's rather full of himself actually. If I had no Fester in my life I'd probably just go to the dentist more often.

Me: What was the last release you had out, Rees?

Rees: As Rees Shad?

Me: Yeah.

Rees: That would be "Life & Times" which my son Dylan recorded up at Dreamland in 2010 with Jay Turner on bass, Rob Kovacs on drums, and the incredible John Platania on guitar. Almost entirely live and working with the huge church space that is Dreamland. Not a single digital reverb was used just natural spacial ambiance… gorgeous… and then there's me sitting there singing my heart out with these great folks covering my ass. I love them all very much.

Me: I have to congratulate you for being the 2012 New York Professor of the Year! That's very cool. How many professor's were nominated and did you win anything?

Rees: That was a big wow moment in my life - for sure. There were cash awards to the four national winners, the rest of us got lunch and lapel pins. Thirty folks in all, it was a huge honor. Really great. I think there's a professor Rashad somewhere at Cornell or somewhere that was the real New York State awardee, but a typo got me the title. Shhhhhhhh.

Me: I won't say a word. Let's talk about the Hive Cooperative. Can you explain what that is?

Rees: The Hive Cooperative was developed to create a textbook for a game design program that I started at Hostos. It involved several current and past students who joined my son and me (yeah we do lots of stuff together... he's great) in developing and testing the materials for the book, some of whom also illustrated the book. Its called Einstein and the Honeybee, and it was developed to help high school and early college students understand iterative design, game interaction, and collaborative play. The group of us now have equal ownership (a bit of profit comes in, but more importantly these folks are all now published!) in the book and are on to other projects. This coming summer we'll be doing a textbook for introducing recording technology to folks. Really cool.

Me: I have no idea what you just said. LOL. Man, you're very busy, Rees. Do you have a family? Is Dylan your only son?

Rees: A wife of over thirty years... incredibly wonderful journey still ongoing, and two kids... Dylan and his little sister Lillian who just gave us our first grandchild. Awesome! Family is the root of all this energy for me. without their love and support, I wouldn't care to even try most days.

Me: You started your own record label called Sweetfish. Is that just to release your own music, Rees?

Rees: Sweetfish released several other people's work... a wonderful album by Paul Burlison (from the Rock and Roll trio) stands out as one of the highlights… another, "All the King's Men" actually got a Grammy nomination.

Me: Do you still like writing and working on music?

Rees: For me the creative process is the essence of life, I don't care about performing in public, but creating in the studio is incredibly important to me. I created some chamber music last fall and recorded it with the Macedonian Radio Philharmonic. OVER SKYPE! What a world we live in…

Me: You wrote music for films and animation. Is there anything you did that the the general public might've seen?

Rees: General public, yes... but not a wide swath of it. My work with the Hostos Repertory Theater has been incredible. Our production of "Boom" actually went to the Kennedy American College Theater Festival where it won a couple of awards… actually beat out Yale and Brown! A few of the animated works have gotten into festivals, but no larger audience, yet… not really the point for me anymore.

Me: What medium do you like working in the best?

Rees: Audio, written, film film, installation art, interactive design... if I get to express, I'm happy.

Me: I have to ask you about the album cover for "Carving Away the Clay". How did you stand having all that shit on your face? I know it's not really shit but you know what I mean. I have a picture of that cover here.

Rees: That's a great question. It wasn't shit, but clay slip, which is watered down clay used in creating larger sculptures. It was a very cold experience since the clay drew the heat out of my head when I covered my skull and started carving away the clay to reveal my true form. They put heaters around me to warm my body, and the room was intolerable to all but me. Ebet Roberts, who is a phenomenal photographer, has worked on more record covers than God... was blown away by the experience and effect. As the clay dried, it began to chip and peel and contract causing me to age right in front of her eyes (lens). The interior parts of the album package show that process... weirdly entertaining. But that album was all about me redefining who I was... giving up the chase of stardom, and just settling into being a creative who could be noticed or not noticed without needing validation. It was a symbolic act to re-emerge in front of Ebet's camera like that. My life has been much happier since.

Me: I couldn't have done it, having all that clay on me. Alright, on the Phile I ask random questions from Tabletopics. Are you ready? What are the the most important qualities you look for in friends?

Rees: Kindness, passion, self-awareness, and a willingness to laugh at oneself. Take it all too seriously, and I'm out the door.

Me: Rees, thanks so much for being here on the Phile. I hope it was fun, and please come back soon. Wanna plug your website or anything?

Rees: Thanks for listening. This has been fun. I have nothing to seriously plug of my own... if folks want to hear stuff they can go to iTunes and type in my name, or Fester Spunk, or Scheissfinger (for the weird stuff). They can Google me to find out what I'm doing, but if they want to get involved and make a difference in the lives of young media makers they should check out what we're doing at, and if they want to contribute to our Ravenfox scholarship fund, they can visit That would be really terrific!

Me: Take care and all the best, Rees.

Rees: Big love to all. And thanks for taking the time.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and of course Rees. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Australian singer Sarah D and on Monday singer Carrie Johnson. Next weekend also starts the second annual Star Wars Month on the Phile. I'll leave you with another picture of my Disney career celebrating 25 years working there. They'll will be Star Wars themed pictures through May, but in June we'll continue with more pictures of me working at Disney. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pheaturing Sasha Papernik

Hello, welcome to the Phile, kids. How are you? I have to start with this... recently there has been three tragedies. The Boston bombing, the West, Texas explosion and C.I.S.P.A. passed in the House of Representatives. You will only be told about two of these.  This is old news I am sure, but Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon got arrested for disorderly conduct after she gave police a hard time for arresting her husband for DUI. She admitted that she had been drinking. She kept saying to the cop, “Do you know who I am?” Of course the cops put two and two together: actress, drunk... Lindsay Lohan? Apparently she told the officer she once played Johnny Cash's wife, June Carter. But they didn't believe her... because she couldn't “walk the line.”  There are rumors that Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber are back together. I just want that adorable little girl to be happy again. Maybe Selena can get something out of it, too.  Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries have finalized their divorce, and they did it two weeks before they were scheduled to go to trial. Even their divorce ended before it really started. Kim said it's nice to finally not be married after over a year of sort of not being married.  NBC has canceled its reality dating show “Ready for Love” after just three episodes. Other NBC shows were like, “They made it to three episodes? What’s their secret?” Viewers complained the show was complicated and confusing... marking the first time a dating show has been canceled for being exactly like dating.  U.S. intelligence agencies have put together a psychological profile of Kim Jong Un. They say he's a narcissist, and he is obsessed with Hollywood, obsessed with plastic surgery, and obsessed with the NBA. It’s a condition we know as "Kardashianism."   Computer hackers hacked into The Associated Press Twitter account and they faked reports about an attack on the White House. And I thought, “Wait a minute, the real news isn't bad enough? Now we're making up bad news?”  According to new poll information, Americans now think very strongly positive about George W. Bush. By God, maybe there's hope for me!  Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is back on Twitter. It's like giving Lindsay Lohan the keys to the mini bar.  France legalized same-sex marriage. The next step is legalizing same-sex mistresses.  There is talk that Apple CEO Tim Cook might get fired because of the company's bad performance in the stock market. You can tell Tim Cook is trying to keep his job because he was like, "Have you tried turning the company off and back on again?"  The miniseries "The Bible" was a big hit. Now it's being cut down to three hours so that it can be released in theaters. And apparently theaters will be able to feed an entire audience with just one bucket of popcorn.  A woman in Florida crashed her car into a Target store. But in her defense, the store did have a giant target on it.  I believe in some weird things, kids, and one thing I believe in is the Multiverse theory. so, I was so happy when I discovered an inspirational poster about this.

This past week they released a new trailer for the next Thor movie. I am not sure what's going on, but I think Disney is cutting corners.

They are not cutting corners with promotions though. Check out this new monorail they revealed this week. It's cool.

One of the things I love to do in my spare time is go on Twitter and see what people are saying about certain things. One of those words I look up is Foghat. Here's one I found recently.

 No, I don't, Erika. What is "Slow Ride" about? LOL. I remember one day when my dad told me the song wasn't about driving. I was like, what is it about then... ooohhhhh.  Okay, so myself and some other fans of "Doctor Who" have a great idea. Bad Wolf Day which will be on June 3rd, 2013. Here's what you need to do... write "Bad Wolf" on slips of paper, sidewalks, anywhere in public and scatter them around and tag to #badwolfday2013. Let's try and get this global, kids. Okay, and now for some sad news...

George Jones
Sept 12, 1931 - April 26, 2013
He definitely stopped loving her...

Think of the most attractive person you've ever known. If that person was even halfway nice, or at least calculated enough to know that a little charm goes a long way, then she or he probably got a lot of passes when their less attractive qualities reared their less attractive heads. You could call it the Don Draper Dunk: good looks plus a smooth glide through tough situations wins every time. Oblivion, the new one from Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy), has the looks and the smooth thing down cold. Winning is another matter.  As much of the plot as you need to know: the world ended in 2017 and now it's 2077. Jack (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are the last people on (or, rather, near) Earth, living in a glass cube perched high in the clouds over a planet ruined by aliens and nuclear weapons. Their job is to repair drones (robotic, squelchy-noise-making death-orbs that terminate stray alien "Scavengers" with precision; call them KILL-2D2 if you like... I did) and report their effectiveness back to home base contact Melissa Leo, a face seen only on a glitch-ridden, pixelated screen, her twang calling to mind Holly Hunter crossed with HAL-9000. But Jack has strange, impossible memories of a life before, one that he couldn't have known, memories that include a mysterious woman. What he learns from that memory and how he deals with it make up the secret plot twists that dominate the film's second half.  I won't be giving up any more plot details, but know that when this film doesn't live up to its own desires for transcendent soulfulness, it feels like a committee was responsible, the direct result of hiring an up-and-coming director whose contract doesn't give him final cut. From an opening packed with overwhelming exposition via Cruise's voice-over to some stumbling, narrative confusion and a seeming battle between an otherworldly quiet and typical crashing Hollywood space-beats to an ending that pulls punches you wish it wouldn't to a strange remote quality expressed by its star as he struggles to fit himself back into a traditionally heroic role, there's a lot of messiness mucking up the works. More than anything it will make you wish Cruise could unwind a bit more. Here he's impersonating Keir Dullea from 2001: A Space Odyssey... There's even a moment where he more or less demands that pod bay doors be opened. If those bells don't go off in your head then it's because your head lacks bells.  But in spite of all this, Kosinki is no hack. He's made a gorgeous-looking experience, the kind they invented IMAX to accommodate. He's a pastiche artist, cribbing stylishness and building his own beautiful ice sculpture, lifting from Kubrick and The Matrix and Soylent Green-era grim futurism and even his own take on TRON, right down to M83's orchestral, obvious, pretty-pretty score that sounds like thump-less Daft Punk via Hans Zimmer. He also knows what he doesn't want, the kind of stupid heartlessness that infects so much of contemporary event sci-fi, where stuff gets blown up for no reason and heroes are cool customers who can't feel. At one point, Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" pops up on camera. That's the famous American painting of the woman sitting in field, leaning toward a home far away on a hillside, one she might never reach. Used in this movie it's clearly a gesture toward finding love and a home that isn't hovering around in space. Kosinki's aiming for a kind of emotional grandiosity, a new wave robot with a pulse, a spiritual reboot of Giorgio Moroder's shiny 1984 version of Metropolis.  So there's an aesthetic at work here. And I want to see this director keep working it out. In the future, provided Hollywood doesn't grind down his willfulness, he'll make his best film and it'll look impeccable like this one, and it will move like most shock-absorbed space ship ever invented, and it will connect the head and the hands through the heart like he clearly wants. But today isn't quite the future. From 1 to 10, Oblivion gets a 6.

Alright, you know what time it is, kids. Please welcome back to the Phile singer, patriot and renaissance man... Laird Jim!

Waiting on a client at the old New York World's Fairgrounds. And it dawns on me... My generation can remember going when it was open. I almost got my myself, Mom and Dad thrown out at age 3 for jumping into the water and splashing about under the Unisphere. My children only know it as the place where Will Smith beat the alien at the end of Men In Black. Sadly... my grandchildren will probably see it torn down to make way for new apartments and a Walmart. I heard a client of mine the other day on his cell talking about how it's "The greatest waste of prime real estate in New York."

Thanks, Laird. Good job as always. Alright, and now for the 30th artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. His name is Chris Hamer, and this is one of his pieces...

Chris will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks or so.

Today's pheatured guest is a gorgeous Russian singer, pianist and songwriter whose new album "Victory" is available on iTunes. She will be appearing next tonight at Garden City Hotel Polo Club in New York City. Please welcome to the Phile... Sasha Papernik.

Me: Hello, Sasha, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Sasha: Thank you! I’m well and very happy to be on the Phile.

Me: Thank you. Papernik is a very unusual name. Does it translate to anything?

Sasha: No, but my father still gets very excited that in British English my last name sounds like “paper – nick”,  meaning a paper cut. I have no idea why he likes that!

Me: That's what I thought when I first read your name. You have a Russian background, right? Are your parents Russian?

Sasha: Yes, they are!

Me: Whereabouts in Russia are they from?

Sasha: They are both from Moscow.

Me: Were you born in Russia or here in the States?

Sasha: I am the first of my family to be born here.

Me: I don't know much about Russia, have you been back there, Sasha?

Sasha: Yes, I’ve been there many times to visit family in Moscow. I’ve also been to dachas in the vicinity of Moscow and to St. Petersburg.

Me: Do you talk Russian as well?

Sasha: I do!

Me: The actress Mila Kunis is also from Russia, but was born there. That's two very beautiful women Russian's I know of. Do you have any siblings or any family back in Russia, Sasha?

Sasha: Haha, well thank you! Honored to be in her company. I like Mila... beautiful, and very talented. Yes, I have one older sister who immigrated with my parents. My aunt and cousins all still live in Moscow.

Me: Where do you live now?

Sasha: I live in Manhattan... uptown near 125th Street.

Me: Alright, I think we talked about Russia enough. I downloaded your new album "Victory" from iTunes and really liked it. You have a great singing voice. Did you take voice or singing lessons, Sasha?

Sasha: Thanks so much! So glad you like it. I’ve been singing in acapella groups all through high school and college and started taking formal singing lessons a few years ago. I always wanted to take singing lessons when I was a kid but piano took up all my free time.

Me: You also play piano, right? How old were you when you started to play piano?

Sasha: I sure do! I started playing when I was four and a half.

Me: That's way to young to play piano. What were you learning, classical?

Sasha: Haha, Jason. Yes, I studied classical piano all the way through a Masters in Piano Performance.

Me: Do you play on the new album?

Sasha: Yes. I’m playing piano, singing lead, and singing some of the background vocals.

Me: What do your parents think of your music and what did they think when you told them you wanted to be a musician?

Sasha: Oh boy, my mom still sends me articles about other professions she thinks I would be good at! Every good Russian-Jewish child takes piano lessons on their way to becoming an engineer, a mathematician, or a doctor. I think they were both horrified when I kept going with music! They are slowly coming around.

Me: I asked if you speak Russian, but you sure do sing it. You sing on the album a song called "Tonkaya Ryabina" in Russian. What does "Tonkaya Ryabina" mean?

Sasha: “Tonkaya Ryabin” means “Thin Mountain Ash Tree.” It is an unrequited love story about a Mountain Ash that is in love with an Oak treebut will never be able to reach him (because she is… a tree). It is one of the most beautiful songs and ideas I have ever come across. My original song on the album called “Whispering Tree” is an English version of this old folk tale. The song is called “Whispering Tree” because I discovered that one of the folk names for the Mountain Ash is Whispering Tree. One of the best lines in the Russian text is that she wished to be close to him so that she could “whisper with his leaves”... so “Whispering Tree” was perfect. If you want to learn the story, listen to “Whispering Tree.”

Me: On the title track you sing, "you sold me your heart for all my kisses". Is that do wrong song based on any one in particular? If so, what an ass.

Sasha: Hahaha. Jason, of course, that song is too honest not be based on someone in particular. In this case, I took a thought and embellished it a little. He wasn’t necessarily such an ass. His answer to “Was I just a victory?” was “Of course not! Are you nuts?” but I wanted to write a song that Dusty Springfield could sing... and therefore the lyrics really had to go for it.

Me: Sasha, who are your influences music wise? I hear a lot of 60's style music in your music.

Sasha: Yes, I love 60s pop music. I love the orchestration and lineage to jazz and classical that you can hear... and I love the clear form and strong hook. Right now I’m really into 20s and 30s stride piano and especially the great Russian-American songwriter, Irving Berlin.

Me: "Victory" is your third CD, right? In the past you had a band called The Indulgents. What happened to those guys? Are they still your band?

Sasha: Yes, "Victory" is my third... and first in many ways! I still play with my Indulgents, Jason. My bassist and guitarist have been with me since the beginning, and my drummer has been my go to guy for almost three years. But, as I have been exploring a more acoustic sound, I sometimes play solo and I’ve had lots of fun playing with different musicians. I like the freedom of using different people to curate a certain sound that I am hearing for a show or a recording. New York is amazing like that... the musical community here is small and extremely talented.

Me: Next year you're gonna be playing Carnegie Hall in New York. That's really cool. Are you doing a whole concert there? Not many people play in Carnegie Hall, Sasha.

Sasha: Thank you, yes, I am beyond excited. When I was 16, I won a piano competition in Boston (where I grew up) and the prize was to play a piece in a recital at Carnegie Hall. My whole family (and my best friend’s family) came to the big city to hear me play. I remember my piano teacher telling me before the recital that I might never play there again so I better make it good... and I remember thinking to myself that I’m going to come back someday! I’m going to make it happen! So this was really incredible that it actually happened. I’m playing as part of a concert with two other international musicians in Carnegie’s popular educational series, Musical Explorers. Kids from all over New York City are going to study some of the Russian tunes I perform and then hear them live at Carnegie Hall. 

Me: Up to date, what has been the biggest and best show you have ever played?

Sasha: This past November, I played a Meet The Artist show at Lincoln Center. It was amazing because I was able to present my bilingual concert, I Speak Music, to a great audience and at a wonderful venue with the best sound team I’ve ever worked with. I rounded out the band with two violinists and a banjo player. I also worked with two dancers who choreographed new pieces to several of my original tunes. It was so fulfilling to be given the chance to fully realize what I saw and heard in my imagination. Also, I almost fell through the floor at the moment when a friend told me that my picture was on Lincoln Center’s website! The show was a great success, and I’m excited to be playing a few more of them next year.

Me: I have to ask you about the album's cover. What is that you are holding on your head and whose idea was it? Does it have meaning?

Sasha: It’s a beehive! Like the ‘60’s hairstyle... but real.I found it in a forest while hiking in my favorite park near my hometown in Massachusetts. It was so perfect (and huge) that I had to take it home... to Manhattan. When the photographer came over for the photo shoot, I asked her to photograph me with it. Months later... after I tried to make the hive into a table centerpiece, my boyfriend insisted that we had to throw it away. I saved it from the trash at least twice and finally drove it all the way back to the park where I left it pretty much in the same spotwhere I had found it. I sometimes get weirdly superstitious about things.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions to my guests thanks to a game called Tabletopics. Are you ready? What life experience has strengthened you the most?

Sasha: The first that comes to mind is living abroad in Paris. At 20, I didn’t have any money but I soaked up as much art and music as I could. I got as many student tickets to music as possible and I spent much of the year sitting in the bleacher seats under the ceilings of many of the most beautiful concert houses that were ever built. Good thing that some of the most beautiful paintings are up there because that’s all I could see. We live in a global world... and I believe that living abroad is very useful and really fun!. I would recommend the experience to anyone.

Me: Sasha, thanks for being on the Phile. I hope it was fun. Do you wanna plug your websites?

Sasha: Thanks so much, Jason! This was so much fun. Yes, please find me on Facebook at My official site is and my Twitter handle is sashapapernik.

Me: Take care, okay, and please come back sometime, Sasha.

Sasha: Thanks and you too! I would love to! Have an excellent day.

Me: I'll try.

There you go, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and Sasha. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer, and professor Rees Shad then next Sunday... singer Sarah D. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Pheaturing Ellen Reid From Crash Test Dummies

Man, that's some bright green. Holy shit. Welcome to the Phile, kids, and Happy Earth Day. I thought I'll make the logo green today in honor of Earth Day, but didn't think it'll be that bright. Anyway, what are you doing reading this? You should be outside. I don't know where you live, but here in Clermont it is raining. I am gonna celebrate Earth Day by going number 2 outside. You know, Nigerians are perfect when it comes to celebrating Earth Day.  It was revealed that someone sent President Obama a suspicious letter containing the poison ricin. It's a deadly poison made from beans. They said it's the third worst substance you can send in the mail behind anthrax and packing peanuts. Federal law enforcement agencies say they believe it's from the same person who sent ricin to a Republican senator. At least he's bipartisan.  A man in New York City is convicted of stealing more than $376,000 worth of copy machine toner from the law firm he worked for. They're known for their work with big corporations and investment banks, and also for not ever having any toner in their copier.  Did you hear this? Adrian Rodriguez pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny. They caught him black handed.    Reese Witherspoon was arrested for disorderly conduct. Her mug shot is the best picture she's done in years. Legally Blonde? Legally bombed is more like it.  Star magazine had a poll. They named Gwyneth Paltrow the most hated celebrity in America. I said, “That is not fair. Come on! I'm sure other countries hate her too.”  Have you heard about cupping? Cupping is an ancient form of medicine. You put cups on the skin, heat them up, and it creates a suction. I'd never do the cupping thing. If someone approached me with a hot cup, it had better be full of hot soup... because I'm old, you see. Cupping therapy is very popular in Hollywood. It has been around for thousands of years so it must be very good. It is practically illegal to get old there.  The second and final week of Coachella started... all in celebration of White History Month. For those of you who aren't familiar with Coachella, it's a big music festival in the California desert. If you didn't get tickets or if you're too far away, just get high and pass out in a dumpster behind Trader Joe’s. Just like being there.  Disney, the greatest company to work for ever, announced starting in 2015 that they're going to put out a new Star Wars movie every summer for the foreseeable future. Next up is Star Wars Episode 7, followed by Darth Vader, Mall Cop. After that will be It's a Star Wars Movie, Just Give Us Your Money.  I have to mention this, now that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been arrested, there is talks about if he will get the death penalty. There is no death penalty in the People's Republic of Massachusetts, so they'll have to make a federal case if they want to snuff the bastard.  Have you heard of the organization Moms Deserve Action? Me neither, but they have a poster out. This is 100% real, kids. Check it out.

It must be a European organization, as American's don't know what a Kinder egg is. Anyway, speaking of guns, the NRA has revealed where their new headquarters are. The building might look familiar to you.

That's a big ass NRA flag there.  In lighter news, Michael Jordan is shlocking Rayvac batteries, I think he's been doing that for years. Anyway, I thought the ad was kinda odd.

In yesterday's Phile I mentioned how I get a kick out of magazines and TV shows that show pictures of celebrities with makeup and without makeup, so I thought I would do the same here on the Phile. SO, this is Larry King with makeup and without makeup.

That's so dumb.  Alright, so one of the things I like to do in my spare time is to go on Twitter and type in certain words to see what people are talking about. One of those words is Foghat, and this is what I recently saw.

How do you pronounce Foghat in a French way? Hmmmm.

If you see it email me at So, there's a lot of blogs on the web. Not all have over 600 entries, and not all are as entertaining as this one... HA! But there's a lot, so I thought it should be time again for...

Today's award goes to... Slipjack's Nautical Living. Man, I have to stop picking these randomly. Anyway, here is a taste of Slipjack's Nautical Living.

Go to and tell them the Phile sent you.

 Okay, so, the other day there was a Senate vote about gun control. I missed what happened, so I thought I would invite someone to the Phile to explain it. So, please welcome to the Phile, Executive Director of Organizing for Action, Jon Carson.

Me: Hello, Jon, welcome to the Phile. So, did I get it right? Senators voted on the gun control bill?

Jon: Yes, Jason.

Me: And how did it go?

Jon: Forty-five senators chose to ignore their constituents and stand with the gun lobby.

Me: What does this mean now?

Jon: Because of Senate rules, this minority was able to stand in the way of a bipartisan measure to expand background checks for gun sales.

Me: How did those senators have the balls to get right up there...?

Jon: Right in front of victims' families from Newtown...

Me: Yeah, they are more ballsy then I would be.

Jon: They cast that vote against something that more than 90 percent of Americans support.

Me: And I'm guessing you are one of them. What were those senators thinking?

Jon: Those senators made a cynical calculation that, at the end of the day, the gun lobby would be louder and stronger than we are.

Me: So, what now?

Jon: That was just round one. We will keep fighting. If your readers are any of the millions of Americans who care deeply about preventing gun violence, they need to show it.

Me: Congress needs to pass a common-sense gun violence prevention bill. Where do you go from here?

Jon: The senators on both sides of the aisle who stood up to the pressure and cast tough votes to do the right thing... they're going to know that OFA supporters are going to get their backs.

Me: And those 45 senators?

Jon: Those senators who decided that not crossing the gun lobby was more important than making our kids and communities safer... OFA supporters will call them out and hold them accountable to their constituents. The special interests have been at this longer, and they can do a real good job at scaring people by distorting the facts.

Me: They are probably thinking you'll go away quietly.

Jon: Yeah, but there are so many more of us than there are of them. And as long as you don't give up, we're going to keep fighting, and someday soon, we will win.

Me: You really want to win this, don't you?

Jon: For the families of Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Chicago, and the thousands of other communities that have been torn apart by gun violence.

Me: Well, good luck, please come back on the Phile, Jon, and keep us posted.

Jon: Thank you for what you're doing. More soon.

Me: Thanks, Jon.

It is Earth Day, right? Today's pheatured guest provides backing vocals, piano, keyboards and accordion for the Canadian rock band Crash Test Dummies, whose latest album "Oooh La La!" is available on iTunes. She also is the 29th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery. Please welcome to the Phile... Ellen Reid.

Me: Hello, Ellen! Welcome to the Phile. So, how are you?

Ellen: I am well, Jason, thank you.

Me: Recently I interviewed Brad Roberts on the Phile. Did you read that interview? If so, what did you think?

Ellen: I did read the interview. There wasn't enough talk about me, so I kinda got bored.

Me: I think Brad did as well. Before we get into everything, let's get this over with. I asked him about the nude photo of him and asked to him and I quote myself, "Why can't Ellen Reid have a naked picture on her site" and he replied I would have to ask you. Well?

Ellen: I do not have naked pictures of myself on my site because I am actually a man-bear-pig and the stigma has been tough enough already.

Me: Okay, that's good then. I'm married anyway. Let's talk about Brad while we are on that subject, Ellen. I asked him where the band name Crash Test Dummies came from and he couldn't believe I asked that question. Where did the name come from, do you know?

Ellen: We had three weeks of intense brainstorming and then sent the idea to some focus groups and marketing specialists before we agreed on the name. Seriously, Jason. We were kids playing in a fun band. It was a funny name. We used it. It stuck.

Me: Where and when did you first meet Brad?

Ellen: University of Winnipeg, 1985.

Me: He said the other guys had kids and left the band, but he doesn't have any children. Do you, Ellen?

Ellen: Nope. I'm going to be in real trouble when I'm old. Ha, she says "when".

Me: You're not old, Ellen. While most of the guys left CTD, you stayed with him. You are very... I cannot think of the word. It's great you stayed with him as I told him when you and he were the main people in CTD anyway. You must like songwriting and recording with him, Ellen. Who does most of the songwriting, you or Brad?

Ellen: I do enjoy recording with Brad. After 20 years it's pretty intuitive. Brad does all of the songwriting. The only exceptions were on our fourth album where I did a little co-writing.

Me: I love the songs you sing lead on, especially "Get You In the Morning" from "Give Yourself A Hand". Who decides which song you are gonna sing lead on?

Ellen: Brad takes it to a council of Wizards who write the names of the songs down on magical stones and then throw the stones into a vat of dragon blood. The stone that floats will reveal the song I sing. Brad picks the songs I sing.

Me: That was a very different song for you to sing, right?

Ellen: It was. I'm more yell-y.

Me: And you were the main focus in the video. No wonder I liked it. Did you like being up front like that?

Ellen: I am not what one would call camera shy.

Me: Brad says he is not gonna tour anymore. What do you think of that? Do you wanna tour?

Ellen: Touring is hard. I am elderly.

Me: You are not old, Ellen Are you gonna be playing on the next CTD album?

Ellen: That's up to Brad. If he needs yell-y vocals, I'm sure he'd give me a call.

Me: Let's talk about the album "Oooh La La". That's a great album, Ellen. Is that one of your favorites?

Ellen: It is a great album. But I like all of the children.

Me: You play piano, accordion and keyboards. Which one came first and what do you prefer?

Ellen: I don't really play the accordion... I only play the keyboard side of it. I took piano lessons as a kid. I prefer piano. Keyboards require reading manuals and I don't do manuals.

Me: You sing on the last track of the album "Put a Face" with an orchestra. That's a beautiful song. Where did the orchestra come from?

Ellen: I flew in to New York in the morning, sung and left that afternoon. I have no idea about the orchestra. It is a beautiful song and I'm glad Brad asked me to sing it.

Me: And on the "Demo-Litions" album, on the song "After My Dinner", are you playing piano?

Ellen: Oh God, I can't remember. That was over 15 years ago. I can't remember where I am most times.

Me: A few years ago, actually it was more then a few years ago, you released a solo album called "Cinderellen". That song is not on iTunes, which it should be. Did you like recording your own album?

Ellen: I loved writing and recording my own record. It was an excellent learning process for me and I'm glad I did it. It's not on iTunes because the legal fees I'd have to incur to ensure that all my collaborators had their rights secured would be more than I could ever hope to get from album/single sales.

Me: That's a shame. Who plays on that album with you, Ellen?

Ellen: I had so many very talented musicians. Greg Wells, Chris Fudurich, Chris Brown, Stuart Cameron, Scott Harding, just to name a few.

Me: On your website you describe it as whiney vagina music. What the hell? Do you still refer it to that?

Ellen: I calls it as I sees it.

Me: Ellen, you're from Canada, like the rest of CTD, right? What part and where do you live now?

Ellen: I'm from Selkirk, Manitoba. I currently live in Toronto.

Me: I ask all my Canadian guests if they are fans of one of my favorite bands ever... Barenaked Ladies. I know you toured with them, but are you a fan of there's?

Ellen: They are a great bunch of guys and write notoriously catchy tunes. I just heard them sing acapella National Anthems on TV the other night before the hockey game. It was the only time I have not muted the TV during a national anthem. This is high praise.

Me: CTD was one of my favorite bands from the 90's, even before "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" became a big hit. When that song became big, what did you think?

Ellen: I thought "Hurray!" We were lucky kids and Brad's a great songwriter.

Me: How did it change your life? Big time, right?

Ellen: It changed my life in that I was hardly ever at home and people wanted to give us gym bags for free. Seriously. I will never have to buy another gym bag in my life. It was kind of a whirlwind at the time. But it was very exciting. It didn't change who I was or who my friends were. Although I did stop colouring my hair at home and I upgraded to the fancy toilet paper. You can't go back once you've started with that stuff.

Me: Were you surprised it became such a hit and caught on?

Ellen: I was surprised. And delighted!

Me: Let's talk about your art work. You make needlepoint bookmarks with sayings like "There's a lot of sex in this book" and "children are just awful". LOL. You sell this book marks, right?

Ellen: I do, but it's more just for fun. It's basically selling them for the price of the materials. I don't have many left.

Me: Have you been doing needlepoint for a long time?

Ellen: Since 1996.

Me: I don't know if you know, but I featured your needlepoint in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. That's cool, right?

Ellen: As long as you're using it for good, and not evil, I'm cool with it.

Me: You did a whole series of pillow dedicated to the movie Anchorman. With the new movie coming out, you need to make more. Is that your favorite film?

Ellen: Anchorman in the best series of hilarious lines ever strung together. There is no situation that can not be made better by quoting from Anchorman. My cat peed on my Anchorman pillows. She's more into film noir, and wanted to let me know.

Me: You didn't do any CTD themed needlepoint, Ellen.

Ellen: That would sell. Needlepoint costs so much to make that no one would ever pay me what it actually costs to make the pillows. For example, just supplies and assembly costs for one of the Anchorman pillows would be around $100. That does not take into consideration that one pillow took me about 75 hours of work. If anyone wants to buy a series of pee-smelling Anchorman pillows, let me know. :-) I did a pillow of KISS for Dan.

Me: Yeah, I showed that on the Phile as well. Anyway, I love your blog. Go ahead and tell the readers what it's called.

Ellen: Mycompletelackofboundaries/ It's where my ego goes to feed.

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile. Tell Brad I said hello. Before I let you go, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. What was the most fun you ever had at a party?

Ellen: I generally don't like parties. Groups of more than 6 people make me itchy. I had a great time at my 40th birthday party. My friend Ryan decorated my living room with dozens and dozens of red helium filled balloons. I like any party where I am the focus and I get presents. I am not very mature. Also, if there is cake, I am happy.

Me: Cool. Ellen, thanks again, and please come back soon. Will you? All the best.

Ellen: If you provide the cake, I will be here. Thanks, Jason. All the best to you, too.

There you go, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jon Carson and of course the lovely Ellen Reid. She still looks good. The Phile will be back next Sunday with singer Sasha Papernik and then on Monday with musician and professor Rees Shad, who has such a cool name. Also, I have to tell you, May is just around the corner and once again all throughout May it will be 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. Strawberry Blondes Forever!