Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pheaturing Karen Bella

I'll need his eye. Haha. Hello, and welcome to the Phile, how are you? Alright, let's just get into it, shall we? Disney and Marvel Studios's gamble on a big budget, weirdo space opera filled with comic book characters no one's ever heard of ended up paying off, as Guardians of the Galaxy broke August box office records by earning $94.3 million in its domestic opening weekend and propelling its soundtrack full of songs everybody already has to the top of iTunes and Amazon's charts. I saw Guardians last Thursday, and wanted to take my son to see it today but he has no interest in seeing it. He does wanna see that Ninja Turtles movie tomorrow, but not Guardians. Where did I go wrong? Wheeerrrreee? Ahem. Okay, moving on.  It's become pretty predictable. If it got some attention in the 90s, it's inevitable that there's going to be a comeback tour and nostalgia cash-in. While a lot of people were excited by Pixies and Pavement reunions, there are way fewer lining up for the second coming of Ebola. Unfortunately, this mega-virus's comeback jaunt has already made its American debut in Atlanta, and ABC News is now reporting IT MAY HAVE JUST MADE A TOUR STOP IN NEW YORK CITY! Stock up on your fast food meat today. Nobody's making it to 2020. The second American citizen who has contracted the ebola virus arrived at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta earlier this week. Though the 59-year-old infected missionary nurse contracted the deadly disease while working in Africa, now that she has taken it stateside, Americans are waiting in panicked anticipation for the chance to run through the streets screaming in terror. Ebola is most easily spread through misinformed Facebook posts. Hey, "Conan" fans, late night host Conan O'Brien has agreed to perform "The Monorail Song" at a series for a live Simpsons revue at the Hollywood Bowl next month. The song comes from the episode "Marge vs. the Monorail," which he penned as a staff writer for the show two decades ago, when only a roomful of people understood how weird his sense of humor was.  This is something almost cool... Actress Olivia Wilde posed for Glamour magazine while breastfeeding her son Otis Sudeikis. The resulting touching photograph is being hailed as a triumph for mothers everywhere who breastfeed in full make-up and high fashion gowns. I have show you the picture in case you haven't seen it.

Gonna get Olivia Wilde breast-feeding her baby tattooed on my chest. Haha. Just kidding, but she's so fucking hot.  The San Antonio Spurs basketball team somehow, in the year 2014, became the first NBA organization to consider the possibility that a woman might be acceptable for the purpose of coaching. WNBA all-star Becky Hammon has been hired as an assistant coach for the team. Hopefully, over the course of 16 years in basketball, she learned a few things about the game. Now that women are invading the Ghostbusting and running for President industries, we might as well have a female assistant coach in the NBA.  CBS has unofficially announced that it has found the fresh white, male face it's been looking for to replace Craig Ferguson as the host of "The Late Late Show". British comedian James Corden... whom you may know from his work on such cultural phenomenons as "Gavin & Stacey" and "One Man, Two Guvnors", has reportedly been chosen over literally every single woman and black person on the planet. James Corden was also in two episodes of "Doctor Who".  Novelist Ayelet Waldman is bravely bucking the cultural stream and daring to criticize Kim Kardashian and her family members, calling them "vile scumbag pigs," after the "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" apparently tricked her 11-year-old son into spending $120 and making him cry. Hey, but what if it had been "Kardashians of the Galaxy"? I think it would go a little something like this: shoots self in face head. I don't know what "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" is... I think it's an app.  Ricky Gervais is bringing his David Brent character from the original BBC version of "The Office" to movie screens, with a faux-documentary called Life on the Road, in which the former office manager attempts to become a rock star. It is currently unknown how this film will relate to the overall subject of atheist activism. I'm 100% sure Ricky Gervais thinks there will be a movie made about his life within one year of his death.  Have you guys seen "Sesame Street" lately? I haven't as my 14 year old son has grown out of it. But I heard it changed a bit. Check this out...

"Give me your cookies!" It's definitely not how I remember it.  Everybody takes selfies now. You'd think it was a new thing, but selfies have been around for awhile. In fact, here's a screen shot of a movie where a selfie is being taken.

I have no idea what movie that is. I think it's one of them Harry Potter movies. The joke would of been better if the picture won't so dark.  So, a Phile reader in Arizona sent me this picture of a newspaper...

Great headline, Arizona Daily Star.  Last Thursday I showed you a radio stations website in Albany was having a contest between two rock songs that you could vote for.

Voting ended on August 3rd, but I wanted to see who won.

Alright! "Slow Ride" won. Thanks for everybody that voted.  Okay, it's Summer and as you know all through Summer I am showing you different bikinis you might find at the beach, or you could buy and wear yourself, ladies. Like this one...

Turn yourself into a time-traveler this summer with a TARDIS swimsuit. Available as a bikini or a monokini, it's made from TARDIS blue swim fabric with a top that's designed to look like the famous blue box's windows. Now, you just have to wait for The Doctor to find you and you'll be all set. She's really cute by the way. I like the way she's holding that sonic screwdriver. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is this week's...

Top Phive Group Of People Who Went To See Guardians Of The Galaxy
5. People who liked The Avengers but felt it wasn't raccoon-y enough.
4. Viewers who've already completely forgotten last week's $170 million action blockbuster.
3. Vin Diesel fans, eager to see him in the part he was born to play: a giant tree.
2. Kind souls who just want to help those scrappy underdogs at Disney to make a few bucks.
And the number one group of people who went to see Guardians of the Galaxy...
1. Moviegoers desperately searching for a story about a ragtag group of unlikely heroes who must reconcile their differences and band together to defeat an evil villain.

If you spot the Mind Phuck email me at It's a pretty easy one. Okay, so, I really wanted to go to San Diego Comic Con this year, but couldn't. A friend of mine did and had  great time. So, I thought it would be cool to invite him to the Phile so he can tell us all about it.

Me: Bryan, welcome to the Phile. I wanted to have you here as you are one of my closet friends who went to SDCC this year, and I wanted to find out how it was. So, in one word, how was it?

Bryan: Awesome.

Me: I have to mention that you invited me to go this year, and I turned it down, and now I'm regretting it. Aggghhhh. So, do you think I would of had a good time?

Bryan: Yes.

Me: You know I'm going with you next year, right?

Bryan: Maybe.

Me: So, did you see any celebrities there?

Bryan: No, but I wasn't looking.

Me: You might've and not know, there were a few celebrities walking around the dealers room and stuff in disguise. Was there a buzz about that when you were there, or did you find out after?

Bryan: I found out after.

Me: So, what are some of the few things you saw there?

Bryan: Lola from "Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.", miner pods from Guardians of the Galaxy, Darth Vader car.

Me: There was a lot of Guardians of the Galalxy stuff going on, right?

Bryan: Just at the Marvel Booth.

Me: Was the con way too crowded, Bryan?

Bryan: Yes.

Me: Did you get to do everything you wanted?

Bryan: No, the line at the Funko Booth was capped whenever I went over.

Me: Not only in the convention center was stuff going on, but also in downtown San Diego. Did you do anything down there?

Bryan: The Homer Simpson Dome.

Me: So, was there anything you didn't like?

Bryan: The crowds.

Me: Would you go back again? Please say yes as I want to go with you next year. I think it'll be cool to do the Phile from there.

Bryan: Yes.

Me: Bryan, thanks for talking about SDCC, and thanks for the t-shirt.

Guardians of the Galaxy, an action-comedy about space war, trades superhero despair for goofiness. The flippant flipside to the anxiety of Dark Knights and Winter Soldiers, it exists easily within the fairly conservative formal requirements of the Marvel universe by staying light on its feet, even as it indulges in grief.  The story, full of hardware: a prized power-orb, one that could be used in the destruction of entire societies, bounces around from villain to mercenary and back again. If it’s not controlled, the civilization presided over by a spectacularly be-wigged Glenn Close will be destroyed. A variety of bad dudes (Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou) are, in one way or another, working to make this happen, but they’ll find resistance in rogue space traveler Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana), angry behemoth Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket the Raccoon (the voice of Bradley Cooper, doing his best Han Solo) and Rocket’s very own Chewbacca in the form of sentient tree, Groot (Vin Diesel). There’s chasing, fighting and shooting, flying and exploding, and all of it looks fantastic, the hallmark of a Marvel adventure. That aspect of this franchise foundation is solid, occasionally even thrilling, but not about to sacrifice its own mercenary intentions by challenging expectation.  Instead, Guardians’ secret weapon and defiant wrench in the machine is its willingness to be silly, to set up running gags, and to feel. Peter, orphaned at a young age and kidnapped into space, swaggers through the galaxy with a vintage Walkman blasting pop hits of the 1960s and 70s, all of which are shorthand for his late mother's love. He's looking for whatever adventure and money he can scrounge, but he still wishes that even one person thought he was cool and valuable enough to be known as “Star-Lord.” What he gets instead is a bickering gang of creatures, all of whom are lost, abandoned or widowed. As the group nurses their individual wounds and mourns the past, they’ll band together and fight as the plot requires, but mostly they will form an adorable family.  That’s a bad word to use when kick-starting a kickass Marvel franchise, maybe, but there’s no getting around what amounts to the film’s competing story. And this makeshift battalion of unhappy travelers, their relationships built on charm, antagonism and mouthy one-liners, even when battling Ultimate Evil, exists happily under the attachment parenting of director James Gunn. In a landscape of superhero narratives meant to tap into collective anxiety, Gunn has built a cuddle machine to soothe the audience’s yearning for connection.  The result, one that rides a wave of absurd humor and sweet Jackson 5 songs, is the most emotionally direct movie to come out of the recent wave of comic book sagas. It taps into what the first three Star Wars films knew and the next three forgot: big heart and a sense of humor are what keep heavy machinery running smoothly.

Jim Brady 
August 29th, 1940 — August 4th, 2014
So maybe a 21-gun salute would be inappropriate here...

Real quick, I once sat at a table next to Jim Brady's table in a restaurant in Washington DC. We were there on a family vacation in the 90s and he was at the next table. I didn't recognize him at first but my mum pointed him out. I wanted to get a picture of him and his autograph but my mum said, "Don't bother the man when he's eating his eggs. He's been through enough." True story. Okay, now to the book club. the 32nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Jeremy will be a guest on the Phile next Thursday.

Today's pheatured guest is a singer-songwriter from New York whose CD "Ordinary Girl" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Karen Bella.

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

Karen: Hello, Jason! Thank you for having me. I am well! I hope you are well too!

Me: Yeah, I'm not bad. I was told about you I think some time last year by a good friend of the Phile who appears here regularly... Laird Jim. He's a friend of yours, right?

Karen: That's lovely to hear. It always is an honor to be introduced to good people like yourself through others. :)

Me: He's a real man, Karen, not like me. Haha. When and how did you first meet him?

Karen: Aw, Jason! You are a real man too! Unless you are bionic! ;) Jim attended my show at The Bellmore Bean Cafe back in October 2013.

Me: You're based in New York, right? Are you you originally from there?

Karen: Yes. I was born and raised in New York. Specifically Long Island.

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

Karen: I used to think that being a musician takes years of practice. As time went on I learned you are born a musician. You just have to polish the diamond in the rough. So I would say: Since birth.

Me: You wrote your first song when you were about 9, am I right? I wrote my first song when I was 44. Haha. What does a 9 year old write about?

Karen: That is wonderful! Any age is a perfect age to write your first song. I may have written songs at age 9, but never put it down on paper. My first official song was written when I was 12. What does a 12 year old write about? It differs from person to person. The first song I wrote was called "The Suffering". Dramatic, yes. It is about a young homeless boy. Lost his parents and is out on the streets barely scrapping by. He is aware of his mortality and expresses a high level of despair in realizing the reality of his life. Being ignored and receiving no help. Hence: The Suffering.

Me: My first song I think was about bicycles and oppression. How many songs have you written, Karen?

Karen: Throughout my entire life... solo and co-writing since the age of 12, I have written over 200 songs. Perhaps more. I would have to really sit down and go through all my tapes, CD's and files to know the exact number.

Me: You not only write your own stuff, you also do a bunch of covers... do you prefer performing your own stuff or a cover?

Karen: That is a very interesting question. Performing your own material is (for me) like giving birth to a child. There is a story and an emotional attachment to each song. Memories and feelings. It's your words. Your creation. Your world coming to life. And I love every song differently. When I perform my own material, it is me baring my soul to the listener. It is me. And it's by far one of the most scary but rewarding experiences to undress yourself through original song. When performing a cover, it is similar to how I process my original writing. The difference is that the song already exists with a specific sound. Any cover song that I connect with is someone else's "child" and so I allow the song to grow with me as I figure out it's energy to develop it stylistically as though it is my own. I want all the covers I do to sound like me. Not like the original artist. It is my homage to the talented writer, performer and creator. My way of showing full respect on such implacable and tasteful art. I love both. It's like asking me. Which do you love better? Coffee or Chocolate? Both!

Me: I have to say, I love your cover of The Beatles song "A Hard Days Night" where you blended it with "Ticket to Ride". Like everybody else, you must be a big Beatles fan, right?

Karen: Correct, Jason! A+. The Beatles have been a major musical influence on me. Till this moment it is mind boggling how they changed music forever. They're iconic. they're legendary. So much so that its almost mythical. Any band that can have such a large quantity of melodic and iconic songs... PLUS, staying number one till this day... I am simply speechless. I also perform a cover of their song "Norwegian Wood."

Me: What other bands did you listen to growing up and who do you listen to now? Any Foghat? Haha.

Karen: Foghat! Yes I am familiar with that band. :) I grew up listening to music my father listened to...  50s, 60s specifically. Lots of Elvis and Elton John. I was enamored with Madonna and Janet Jackson growing up too. My mother introduced me one day to the musical, "Funny Girl" with Barbra Streisand. Little did she know that from that moment my life changed forever. I understood that what Barbra was to me the moment she said (her iconic line) "Hello gorgeous". How she performed and her strength would be the spark that started the fire. I knew my destiny right then and there. As I got older I began listening to everything from Dream Theater to Mozart. Jewel, Alanis Morissette, Billy Joel, Queen, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Broadway and the list goes on and on. It never ends.

Me: Let's talk about your album "Ordinary Girl". Is this your first release?

Karen: "Ordinary Girl" is my baby. My first solo release. Everything about it is me. The music, the instrumentation, the lyrics. It took a lot of pain, time and motivation to get myself to do it all and get it done.

Me: Do you think you're an ordinary girl, Karen?

Karen: To be ordinary is non-existent. We all have our unique-isms. We are all extraordinary. So no. I am not an ordinary girl.

Me: The album is full of all originals, am I right? Any that you wrote when you were a kid?

Karen: Yes. All the songs on "Ordinary Girl", are originals. On this album specifically, the songs are from my twenties.

Me: On the album you play all the instruments... piano, guitar and ukulele. What do you prefer?

Karen: Hands down: My Celebrity Ovation. He's my boyfriend! ;)

Me: Which instrument did you learn first?

Karen: Voice. Yes, the voice is an instrument too. Then at 9 years of age I began piano lessons.

Me: Not only did you record the songs in English, but didn't you record them in Hebrew as well?

Karen: Yes. I recorded a few of my original songs in Hebrew. "Ha Ha Ha" and "Little Bella" have Hebrew versions, however they didn't make the final cut for the album. For those who don't speak the language, it would sound like someone is clearing popcorn from their throat. Haha.

Me: Do you talk fluent in Hebrew?

Karen: Of course! It was my first language since my parents are both Israeli. First generation. I learned English in school.

Me: You have been to Israel, right? I have a picture of you and some friends in Israel.

Karen: This picture took place in Tel-Aviv at a popular pub called Vead HaBiet. Translation: To Home. We were celebrating a birthday party. This was a few weeks before the 2012 Gaza bombings.

Me: Wow. What was it like over there?

Karen: I am proud to say that not only have I been to Israel, but I fell in love with her so much that I actually lived there for about two years. The life there is similar to life in America since it's very Americanized. There is a different energy there though. An energy that is more peaceful and connected to something larger than us. The moment you step on the land, you can feel it. The people are beautiful and accepting. The country is all about love and living life till its fullest. You have a diversity of nationalities and religions. There are parts of the country that are very old fashioned and some are new. Sitting outside, drinking coffee, smoking huka and eating lots of falafel with hummus. The Mediterranean Sea is one of the most beautiful bodies of water I have ever been to. I lived in Bat Yam, which is 15 minutes south of Tel-Aviv. I had a ten minute walk to the sea from my apartment and I must say it was like waking up in paradise every morning. Cars are everywhere and people are running around to go out, get things done, go to work and anything else you can think of. It is a country full of life and a country filled with historical memories and events. It was by far the best two years of my life. I miss it there very much. Unfortunately, the country is in the belly of the beast surrounded by turmoil and conflict of terrorism. I experienced the 2012 Gaza bombings. An incredibly terrifying situation. Hearing the missile sirens out of no where, you have 30 second to a minute to run for shelter. Thankfully, the Iron Dome intercepted many of the missiles. I was shaking with fear while the buildings shook from the explosions.

Me: They are still going through tons of shit now, aren't they? Do you have family or friends over there?

Karen: Shit is an understatement. Israel has gone through hell and back. The country and its people are dealing with large amounts of individuals (Hamas) who are educated to hate and will go to any depth (even die) for the sake of destroying Israel. You're not dealing with normal people. You're dealing with insanity. You're dealing with terrorism. America would not put up with terrorism if the shoe were on the other foot. Innocent people are being affected on both ends. It's sad really. Somehow I believe that this will all end. But lets hope it's not at the cost of loosing many lives. My entire immediate family lives there except for one of three brothers. My parents, two brothers and sister reside in the Holy Land. I also have many dear friends and extended family there as well. I pray for their safety every day.

Me: Karen, you don't have to answer this if you don't want to, but a lot of bands and musicians are boycotting, or don't wanna play in Israel... for example Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam, Stevie Wonder, even one of my favorites Elvis Costello. Do you think this is wrong, or are they making a wise decision? 

Karen: Excellent question, Jason. It is apparent that we are all entitled to our opinions and beliefs. With that said, I can understand why an artist would cancel a performance if there were missile attacks like the war going on in the present. But to refuse to share your music with the people of a country because of Anti-Semitic beliefs, prejudice and or a lack of education on what is REALLY going on in a country is not something I can understand. We are here to unite and help one another. Not to segregate. Artists especially should understand that. But it's their loss and we should focus on the artists who are more than happy to share their gift with everyone.

Me: Let's get back to your music. You have a song on the album called "Little Bella". Is that song about you? You don't have a baby, do you?

Karen: Haha. You know, a few people have asked me if that song is about a baby. No, I am not a mother yet. I would like to have children (other than my songs) when I am good and ready. "Little Bella" is about my JackChi, Bella. My precious little doggie. If you listen to the lyrics and the instrumentation, you'll hear barking. It's a love song. She is the love of my life. I named her after my great aunt. I wrote this song to share with everyone who loves their pet.

Me: Karen, I am sure you played all over Long Island and New York. Ever played in Port Jeff? I grew up in Port Jeff. Is there anywhere to play in that town?

Karen: You're a fellow Long Islander! Super!!!! I haven't had a chance to perform in that town. Surely there must be a music scene there. I will have to do some research and check out some places. 

Me: Ever been to the Port Jeff Co. Brewery?

Karen: No, I haven't.

Me: So, what's next for you? Are you gonna be working on a new album?

Karen: Right now I am focusing on writing (an artist always writes), and performing. It's all about getting out there to be heard. I would like to record more material. Things are in the works.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask questions thanks to Tabletopics. Ready? I hate this one... If you could have another name what would you choose?

Karen: Funny! I have never been asked that! When I was younger I used to hate my name. As I got older I've learned to appreciate my full name. It describes my essence. I would never change it. I love my name. My mother almost named me Shira before I was born. In Hebrew Shira means singing and or poetry. So maybe if I HAD to, I would choose Shira. Shira Bella. Haha. Has a nice twist.

Me: Karen, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back again. Go ahead and mention your website and anything else you wanna mention.

Karen: Jason, thank you! It was wonderful conversing with you. Please keep in touch and of course I'll be checking out your blog! :) I always like to say hello to my parents. Hi, Ema and Aba! "Ordinary Girl" is available on iTunes, and CD Baby. You can always see the latest news, music and tour info on my Facebook page as well as my Twitter and YouTube page.,,

There, that about wraps this entry up. Thanks to Bryan Pantages and Karen Bella. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Phile Alum Abbey Weitz from the band Wise Girl. 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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