Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pheaturing Mark Baxter

Hello there, good morning. Welcome to the Phile once again. It's a good day to go the beach. What am I talking about, no day is a good day to go to the beach.  San Diego Comic Con is going on right now and I wish I was there. Next year, people, I am going. Anyway, let's start with some potential spoilerish news... According to Internet rumors... ones that are supposedly pretty well-sourced, for whatever that's worth, the events of the new, highly anticipated Star Wars trilogy will begin with the discovery of Luke Skywalker's lightsaber-grasping hand, which has apparently spent several decades falling through space after being severed from its arm by Darth Vader in the final moments of The Empire Strikes Back. That may sound a bit odd, but not every movie can be about the labyrinthine political fallout from a complex trade embargo. And now, for no other reason than it's pretty cool, here's J.J. Abrams and an actual X-Wing fighter. Somewhere, George Lucas is crying a solitary CGI tear...

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are reportedly spending half-a-million dollars to secure a look-alike baby to impersonate their one year old daughter North in the hopes that it "will really throw paps off the scent." Apparently, they're hoping that the child can have somewhat of a normal childhood. Kim defended her parenting skills to critics on Twitter saying she is a devoted parent to both her children, North and Kanye.  For the second consecutive year, Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man star Robert Downey, Jr. has been listed as the actor who's pulling in the most dangerously enormous amount of money. With $75 million funneled into his already-overflowing bank account since last June, the charismatic actor out-earned Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson by about $23 million. 
I love Robert Downey Jr's sexy cocky guy persona. It never gets old. I hope it's not an "act" and that he's an asshole in real life too.  Hey, are you reading this in Wisconsin? If so, I feel sorry for you. Western Wisconsin residents who live along the Mississippi River are currently experiencing a blight of mayflies so massive that clouds of the flying insects are showing up as weather patterns on radar screens and the entire landscape is covered with a buzzing insectoid blanket. Luckily, the little guys live for under a day, so Midwesterners will only have to deal with billions upon billions of mayfly cadavers in the coming weeks. And I thought love bugs here in Florida were bad. Check this out...

That's fucking disgusting.  Texas Gov. Rick Perry has caused some controversy after announcing that he would be sending 1,000 mostly powerless troops from the U.S. National Guard to the border between Texas and Mexico so that they can stand around showing potential voters how serious Rick Perry is about both protecting our borders and being fiscally responsible. I would like to mobilize the Texas National Guard to prevent Rick Perry from migrating to the White House. The U.S. film industry is facing its worst financial slump in eight years, as movie studios seem incapable of getting audiences to come out en masse and see this year's crop of thrown-together sequels of remakes of sequels and adaptations of children's toys. "They still want to go to the movies. They just want to go to really good movies," media analyst Paul Dergarabedian explained. Amazing to think The Expendables 3 is only the third movie in Hollywood history to be written by a piece of beef jerky.  Speaking of movies, You know that television show from the '80s that you can't believe actually existed in real life and wasn't just a sketch from the Phil Hartman years of "SNL"? No, not "Max Headroom". Think weirder. Not "Misfits of Science", either. Go even worse. Yes, "Manimal!" That show about the the guy who could transform into any animal he wanted and somehow used that power to fight crime? Well, Will Ferrell's production company is turning it into an ironic nostalgia-bait comedy movie. Finally, right!? Hopefully, it's as good as Land of the Lost!  I have to talk about a story I just read on AOL News... Teens take selfies everywhere they go, which unfortunately includes many places where taking selfies is probably a bad idea. That said, if you're going to throw decency to the wind and take a selfie while standing at one of history's most gruesome crime scenes, a good rule of thumb is to not to make it look like you're at the premiere of 22 Jump Street standing next to Channing Tatum. And including a smiley face emoticon with the words "Selfie in the Auschwitz concentration camp" will only make matters worse. Some people don't see a problem with that. People like American teen Breanna Mitchell. By every account, Breanna's visit to the Nazi concentration camp was made with the best of intentions. She claims she and her late father studied the Holocaust for years and she was happy to finally make the trip. She clearly wasn't looking to upset people or become famous, but once people began retweeting the picture, that's exactly what happened. Pretty soon the Tweet was being sent around and Breanna started taking heat. She seemed annoyed by the attention at first, and tried to explain herself, tweeting, “Omg I wish people would quit tweeting to, quoting, retweeting, and favoriting my picture of my smiling in Auschwitz Concentration Camp.” For some reason, Business Insider deemed it newsworthy, and Breanna responded the way most self-absorbed American teens would, by announcing, "I'm famous yall." Not surprisingly, that jump-started the Internet outrage machine, with thousands of people jumping in to criticize the shot, and others lending their support with words of encouragement. As of now, Breanna's original tweet is still up. But at this point, it hardly matters, because, regardless of her original intention, or whether she has a change of heart, Breanna's name will forever be linked to inappropriate selfies. And in case you didn't see the Tweet, here it is...

So, the football players are starting to go back and practice and do what they do before the pre-season. Did you see what Tom Brady looks nowadays? 

That's a good look for him. Haha.  So, as I said San Diego Comic Con is going on right now, and they revealed a new poster for the new Batman vs Superman film. Here it is...

I don't like the direction it's going.  A lot of you have still been asking where I was for 5 months when I wasn't doing the blog. I'll show you...

It was a good knight.  Alright, if you go the beach you might notice there's a few new beach warning signs out there... like this one.

I don't mind Jason Mraz. Well, it is Summer and all through Summer I am showing you different kinds of bikinis you might find at the beach. Here's one... Geek gals are always looking for cool apparel, especially when it comes to comfortable swimwear. So, here's some good news: Now, there's an Evil Dead-inspired Necronomicon bikini that's supposedly “super comfortable,” according to its makers.

The made-to-order Brazilian-cut silicone bikini, available through Etsy by Bloodlust Productions, is styled after the human flesh-bound "Book Of The Dead", the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis from Sam Raimi's original Evil Dead movies. I have never seen those movies so I have no idea what they are talking about. Oh, well. Anyway, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this week's...

Top Phive Startling Similarities And Differences Between Putin's Presidency And Sharknado 2
5. Is an unwanted sequel to a surprisingly popular first installment.
4. Is repellent to anyone with half a brain.
3. Is terrible, but good for cable ratings.
2. Seems aware of its own stupidity.
And the number one startling and difference between Putin's presidency and Sharknado 2...
1. Has really boosted Tara Reid's career.

That might be a hard one to figure out. So, as San Diego Comic Con is going on, and I didn't get to do a Star Wars Month this year on the Phile I thought it would be appropriate to invite back one of the Phile's most popular characters. He's a bounty hunter by night and a stand up comedian by day, or the other way around. Straight from doing a comedy tour in the Outland's please welcome back to the Phile...

Tractor: Thank you, thank you. So, how did Darth Vader cheat at poker?

Me: I'm not sure.

Tractor: He kept altering the deal.

Me: Ha. That's really bad, Tractor.

Tractor: Here's another then...  What happened when Luke left a spoon in the oven?

Me: I don't know, it became luke warm?

Tractor: No. He got a ladle cooked but he's okay. Haha.

Me: Haha. That was pretty good, if I don't say so myself. Last year when you were here, Tractor, you gave us a few limericks. Do you have one today for us?

Tractor: Of course, womp rat. When being placed in carbon-freeze Han Solo was filled with unease. A slight itch arose, inside his nose, but they froze him right in mid-sneeze.

Me: Very good. Tractor Beam, everybody!

Tractor: Thank you, don't eat the bantha.

James Garner
April 7th, 1928 — July 19th, 2014
At the tone, leave your name and message. I'll never get back to you.

Today's pheatured guest is the author of "Elizabeth, Peter & Me", the 31st book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile, the handsomely dressed... Mark Baxter.

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

Mark: I'm good, Jason. Tired after a busy year, so I have enjoyed the last couple of weeks doing as little as possible. Re-charging the batteries for another busy year in front of me.

Me: Your friends call you Bax, right? Do you want me to call you Mark or Bax?

Mark: Most people call me Bax, only my mum calls me Mark! So Bax is fine.

Me: Bax, you're from London, England I believe. What part?

Mark: I'm from Camberwell, South East London... which is about four miles from the centre of London.

Me: I live in Florida now but was born in Balham: Gateway to the South. Do you go to Balham often?

Mark: Ah. A fellow South Londoner, good lad. I remember that Peter Sellers monologue well. To be honest, no I'm rarely in Balham. Most of my work and social life is in the West End or City of London.

Me: Have you lived in London all your life?

Mark: Yeah, born and bred in SE5 and still live there. So handy for everything, why move? My missus is from nearby Kennington, so a lot of our families are local too.

Me: Ever been to the States before?

Mark: Yeah. New York in 1988 and 2008. Florida... Disney and all that in 2000 and Memphis in 2002 for the Tyson/Lewis heavyweight fight. Also took in Graceland, had to be done.

Me: Your book "Elizabeth, Peter & Me" is the newest book in the Phile's Book Club. Before we talk about that one, let's talk about some other books you wrote. You have co-written a book or two with another author named Paolo Hewitt, am I right?

Mark: Thats right. Our first book was 'The Fashion of Football' in 2004 and that looked at the fashions within football (soccer) worn by both the players off the pitch and the fans on the terraces. We also examined the classic UK clothing labels like Fred Perry and Ben Sherman.

Me: I should have Paolo on the Phile as well. If I did, what should be the one question I should ask him?

Mark: Ask him the title of his favorite book.

Me: When and how did you first meet Paolo, Bax?

Mark: I knew of him through his writing for the NME music paper and I had bought a couple of his books. One day he called me out of the blue, looking for some photos from the 60s ( I used to trade in these) and we hooked up to do the deal and I pitched him my book ideas.

Me: Do you like working with him or someone else or by yourself better?

Mark: I find writing very tough, so working with someone to bounce the ideas off is easier, but really I just go with the flow.

Mark: What was the first book you came out with, Bax?

Mark: The first book I thought of was "The Fashion of Football" in 2004 and my first attempt at writing was in 2007 with a book called "The Mumper".

Me: When I was little I used to loved the football player George Best. My grandmother gave me a biography on him when I was little. I probably still have it somewhere in storage. You are a big football fan, right?

Mark: I'm a massive football fan, and watch 3 games a week at least. George was up there with the greats in the game.

Me: What team do you follow, Bax?

Mark: I support my local team Millwall. They are a couple of miles from where I live. I think everyone should support the club closest to where you were born.

Me: George is on the cover of your book "The Fashion of Football". I have  a picture of it here...

Me: Is he your favorite footballer of all time?

Mark: No, my favourite player is a guy called Terry Hurlock. Not very skilful, more industrial, but he had the heart of a lion.

Me: Have you ever met George? What does he do now?

Mark: Sadly no, he died in 2005, due to alcohol problems.

Me: Oh, man. I did not know. That sucks. I follow The New York Giants, an American football team. Do you watch or like American football?

Mark: I used to watch a lot of it in the 80s/90s, but rarely get the time to squeeze a full game in now. I really like the NFL documentaries I see from time to time. Great footage on those.

Me: Since I moved to Florida in 1987 American football has become really popular in England I think. Why do you think that is, Bax?

Mark: Basically I would put it down to TV exposure and our general love of sport over here in the UK.

Me: Another book you wrote is "Mumper" which you just mentioned. Mumper is a horse, am I right?

Mark: The Mumper is indeed a real horse, named after the book and the subsequent film of the book.

Me: Was that your first novel?

Mark: Yes it was. I would write a chapter and then send it to Paolo for him to add to and rework if needs be. It was published in 2007.

Me: What does Mumper mean?

Mark: It is a 19th century word for a beggar or scrounger. That got corrupted to the word ponce in my area, which basically means the same thing.

Me: "Mumper" was turned into film called Outside Bet starring Bob Hoskins who just does this year. When did that film come out and why did they change the name?

Mark: It came out in the UK in 2012 and why the name change? Good question, not really sure, think you need to speak to Universal Films really.

Me: Does the movie stay true to the book, Bax?

Mark: Pretty much... there are a couple of changes I would have made, mainly in casting, but once we sold, we had very little we could do or say with it really.

Me: Did you get to meet the actors and visit the set?

Mark: I did. I went down on the first day and met all the actors and crew and really enjoyed the experience, good people.

Me: How did they approach you about making a movie based on the book?

Mark: I was told to send a copy of the book to a TV producer called Tony Humphreys, who was looking for projects. He liked the story and then set about raising the funds to make a film.

Me: Did you agree to it right away? 

Mark: Once we had consulted our book/film agent, pretty much yes.

Me: Were you happy with it?

Mark: Ninety percent of it yes. Couple of tweaks here and there would make it better, but I'm very proud of it.

Me: Another book I'll mention you co-wrote is "The A to Z of Mod". I know what a mod is, I love The Who, Style Council and Madness as well. But I am sure there are a lot of readers of the Phile who have no idea what a mod is. I am sure no one in middle America knows what a mod is. Haha. So, how you you describe a mod?

Mark: I'm not sure I know anymore! Mod is short for Modernist and these were a group of very young men in the late 50s, who loved hand made clothes and foreign films. Their influences appear to be Miles Davis and Jean Paul Belmondo... Anyway, they strut their stuff and gradually were joined by more like minds, until they had their own movement going on. Within a few years, the media caught on and we ended up with Carnaby Street, Swinging London and great music from bands like The Small Faces and The Action.

Me: Are you or were you a mod growing up, Bax?

Mark: I got into it in the late 70s, through the film Quadrophenia and the band The Jam. I then discovered Blue Note jazz as a result of being involved with good people and I was hooked. I was 17 then, and I'm 51 now. A lifetime of Mod really.

Me: They wear certain clothes, don't they? Are their any modern mods out there right now?

Mark: It is basically a very smart look. Sharp, hard, clean, stylish! Here in the UK, the biggest names involved are Paul Weller... The Modfather, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and Hobbit actor Martin Freeman. All very nice chaps.

Me: Are you a fan of the bands I mentioned? Who is your favorite band or musician?

Mark: I have seen all those bands live at concerts, so yes, great choices. My fave musician however is Tubby Hayes, a London born sax player who sadly died in 1973. I hope to finish a film project on Tubby this year.

Me: Do you play anything yourself, or sing?

Mark: I used to play the drums and sax as a kid (not at the same time I hasten to add) but now I just whistle!

Me: On the Phile I was lucky enough to interview Graham Parker a few times and Eddie Reader and Martin Stephenson. I'm sure you heard of those people, right?

Mark: Yeah, sure. I know more about Parker than the other two if I'm honest.

Me: Ever heard of the band Foghat or Savoy Brown?

Mark: Savoy Brown rings a distant bell, but not a lot of knowledge on them I'm afraid.

Me: Alright, you're here to talk about your book "Elizabeth, Peter & Me". The 'me' in the title is not you, right?

Mark: Thats right. The 'me' in the book is our hero, one time villain, now reformed character Vinny Hawkins.

Me: This is a novel... tell the readers what it's about.

Mark: Thanks. Vinny commits a massive burglary from actress Elizabeth Taylor in 1962, but ends up in prison though, the result of another job going wrong, a few weeks later. Fifty years later in 2012, he has need to revisit the Taylor crime, though by now he is in his 70s and living in a old peoples home! It is the story of that journey, full of laughs, sadness and plenty of twists and turns.

Me: There's a great video on YouTube of a guy talking in a chair that advertises the book. I have a screen shot of it here...

Me: Who is that actor, I seem to recognize him. Was it you who wrote that piece?

Mark: Glad you like it. The actor is a great friend of mine, a guy named Eugene Manzi, same fella on the book cover. Yes, I wrote the script for the YouTube film.

Me: How long it take you to write this novel, Mark, and where did you come up with the idea for it? 

Mark: Overall it took about three months time wise, but that was spread over eighteen months due to my other work. The idea just popped in my head one day, and kept coming back, so I decided I had better start writing it down!

Me: Do you think this book would be or could be turned into a movie?

Mark: I think so, but you can never tell. A lot of people who have read it,  have said it would make good cinema, We'll see I suppose.

Me: I saw there are pictures of people holding your book, and one of those people is Paul Weller. Did you see him on the street and asked him if he would get a picture with it?

Mark: No, I now know Paul pretty well, so we arranged to hook up and he kindly did the photo for me.

Me: That's cool! I have to mention as well Neil Sheasby, who was a guest on the Phile last year. He is the bass player for the band Stone Foundation. How do you know Neil?

Mark: I met Neil at a gig a few years ago now and really liked what he and the band were doing . A year or so later, my wife and me spent a weekend with Sheas and his wife Claire up in their town in Atherstone, becoming good mates as a result.

Me: Are you a fan of his band?

Mark: Certainly. I booked them to play at my 50th birthday in 2012 at The 100 Club in London. Wait til you hear the new album.

Me: So, have you come up with an idea for your next book yet, Mark?

Mark: I have two more books that I am contracted to write. One for 2014 and one for 2015, so plenty to come. Can't really say too much about them yet as we are still finalising details. I have another idea for a novel brewing, I just need to invent 8 days a week to finish it all!

Me: Do you like writing?

Mark: Honestly, it''s a perverse pleasure. I genuinely find it hard and difficult, but keep going back to it, so I must like it!

Me: When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

Mark: It sort just happened. I think I am more of an ideas man really and now I have an outlet for these projects, which is great.

Mark: So, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Ready? What got you in the most trouble for when you were young?

Mark: Impatience. Even to this day, I don't like waiting around. Lets just get on with it, and crack on shall we.

Me: Mark, thanks for being on the Phile, I hope it was fun. Was this your first American interview? 

Mark: Enjoyed it, Jason, many thanks for asking and yes, I think you are the first US interview I have done.

Me: Would you come back when your next book comes out?

Mark: It will be my pleasure.

Me: Tell the readers where they can purchase your books, and plug whatever you want. Take care, and please come back soon. All the best.

Mark: The easiest place to get the book is through under the title "Elizabeth, Peter and Me". Cheers.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile.  Thanks to Mark Baxter for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with New Age piano player Pete Calandra. I have to say New Age is my least favorite kinda music. Anyway, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker.

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