Friday, September 19, 2014

Pheaturing Jason Torchinsky

Hello, and welcome to the Phile, kids. How are you? Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day to all you pirates who have never sailed  a boat, shot a gun, or robbed people at sea. Not only is it Talk Like A Pirate Day today but it's also No Texting Day. I am unclear about whether we can text as a pirate.
According to Apple, the newly released io8 operating system will make it impossible for the company to share customer information with government agencies, a practice that Apple says never ever happens. It also apparently shores up the non-existent holes that did not lead to a bunch of celebrities having their naked pictures not stolen by hackers.  Darrell Hammond, who spent 14 years as a cast member of "Saturday Night Live" before leaving the show in 2009 has agreed to replace the recently deceased Don Pardo as the show's announcer so that he may live out his remaining years in Studio 8H of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where things make sense and you never have to sleep under a park bench.  In order to protest an Orange County, Florida court's decision that religious materials can be given to children in public schools, a Satanic organization has decided to pass out their own Devil-themed coloring and activity book. I suppose sacrificing virgins in the pale moonlight gets old after a while. This is true and here is a page from that activity book...

"Parks & Recreation's"Aubrey Plaza will provide the voice for the Internet's favorite disaffected feline in the Lifetime Channel's upcoming holiday movie Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever. It's nice to see that her management people are really looking out for her.  On yesterday's entry I told you about Urban Outfitters tries to make dead college kids cool by selling "vintage" blood-spattered Kent State sweatshirt. Here is the shirt in case you didn't see it...

Well, the company sent out an apology... "Urban Outfitters sincerely apologizes for any offense our Vintage Kent State Sweatshirt may have caused. It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such. The one-of-a-kind item was purchased as part of our sun-faded vintage collection. There is no blood on this shirt nor has this item been altered in any way. The red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray. Again, we deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively and we have removed it immediately from our website to avoid further upset."  I hate when "sun-fade" causes my entire shirt to fade in color except for what looks like fresh drips of blood just around the heart. Double-bummer when it's a shirt for a school that, over 40 years later, remains synonymous with our military opening fire on its own civilians. How unlucky! It's nice of UO to every once in a while pop up with one of these brain-dead stunts. It lets us olds feel glad to have long ago aged out of being able to shop there.  So, in my spare time I like to go on Twitter and look up certain words to see what people are saying. One of those words I look up is Foghat and this is a Tweet I recently saw...

Ever been to Popeyes the restaurant? I haven't been to one in years. I don't know if there's even one around where I live. Anyway, I wouldn't go there now if there was. Look what they serve...

I don't think the restaurant has anything to do with the cartoon character Popeye anymore... it used to.  Yesterday I told you I thought Pokemon came from Japan but actually it originated in England. Readers of the Phile sent me email's saying I was wrong, Pokemon is Japanese. Well, if it was, would it have a character named...

No, I don't think so. Pokemon is definitely British.  By the way, if you need help getting that U2 album off your iTunes I think I know somebody that can help...

Okay, so, Facebook has been known to ban a picture or two...but here on the Phile I would not ban anything... well, I would ban a fee things, I was hesitant in showing that page from the Satanic coloring book... but I am not afraid to show the pictures Facebook banned, So, here is a feature I call...

This is something that has been happening for ages. When a 4 year old boy and his friend decide to drop their pants and pee on the backyard fence, one can only hope that they have a camera handy to capture the priceless shot. So, that is exactly what a mother did. This was hands down the best picture she had captured during the entire summer so naturally she uploaded it to Facebook... well Instagram, but that went to Facebook. You may be wondering why there is a Censored sign over their tushes? Well, Facebook contacted the woman and requested that she remove the photo because it was a violation of their terms of service.

I think this one of my favorite Mindphuck's ever. If you spot it email me at As I have been mentioning on October 14th to the 16th the Phile will be coming to you from Long Island. I thought it would be cool to have some of my Long Island readers take a picture of something on Long Island and email it to me. I would pick out the three best ones and show them here on the Phile. I have received some cool pictures and some other pictures of the Long Island Sound that could be any water anywhere, a tree, a boat dock, flowers, the sky... stuff that could be anywhere. I want photos that are obviously from L.I. Okay, so, as you probably know one of my favorite movies recently is Guardians of the Galaxy. A friend of the Phile saw it and I'm interested to see what he thinks. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is...

I wanted to hate this.. but I didn't. I didn't love it either. I found it fairly entertaining... Howwwwwwever, I had certain "issues" with it... 1. Chris Pratt gets pumped up in the gym, looking all buff and shit, JUST so he can do a cut rate rip off of Han Solo. 2. Zoe Saldana plays the same role she's played in every movie. The badass hot chick that fights for deeply personal reasons... only she's painted green... like that bitch Captain Kirk screwed on "Star Trek". 3. Vin Diesel was paid a small fortune to repeat the words "I Am Groot." over... and over... and over. Must have been MURDER to memorize your lines, Vin. 4. The Raccoon should've been voiced by Joe Pesci. 5. That big bald guy reminded me of Hellboy... only with cooler tattoos and minus the shaved horns. 6. The soundtrack was awesome. Lots of great '70s songs. 7. The main villain should have been played by a well known actor. For some reason I kept thinking of Sting in this role. Anyway... to sum up. I "liked it" but won't be buying the DVD when it comes out.

Good job, Laird. I will be buying in on Blu-ray the day it comes out.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is an artist, writer, and author of "Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture", the 34th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile the very creative... Jason Torchinsky.

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

Jason: Hi, other Jason! Thanks for having me. I'm great.

Me: Okay, before we talk about your book "Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture", which is in the Phile's Book Club I have to talk to you about a certain Atari/8-track racing game called "Slow Ride". Your ad not only fooled Cracked the magazine in thinking it was a real ad, but it fooled me. Here is the ad in question... exhibit A. Haha.

Me: When did you first create this ad, Jason?

Jason: I made that quite a while ago, back in 2003, when I was in LA with my comedy group, the Van Gogh-Goghs. We were doing a whole Atari-oriented feature on our site... and I made that fake ad for that. The original ad I based it on was for some cartridge-switching thing, but I really loved the insanely ecstatic expression on that guy's face. I'd sort of love to know a guy who could get that delighted over a cartridge-switcher. So, the original ad got my attention, and the similarity in size and form of Atari cartridges and 8-tracks was something I'd noticed as a kid. I'm not exactly sure why we picked Foghat for the ad, but it seemed period-correct and there's just something funny about the name.

Me: Okay, so, over the years people have posted this ad on my Facebook page, and someone even sent me a printed out copy of it. Somehow in my fucked up brain I thought I remembered seeing this in the 70s, but obviously I didn't. I told friends I did, so apparently you made a liar out of me. Haha. And Cracked thought it was real. Anybody else you know of thought it was real?

Jason: The fact that anyone thought it may have been real delights me, to be honest. I have seen it on the Internet in various places presented as though it was real, though I can't think of where off the top of my head. I like artwork that sort of rides that line of hoax, and I've explored this again with some later work, including a fake Kyrgyz arcade machine that plays a dead-goat polo game.

Me: So, Cracked mentioned it in an article on their website talking about the people in the ad mostly. How did you first discover they thought it was real, Jas, and what did you think?

Jason: I'm not sure if someone sent it to me or if I chanced upon it on my own. I know right before I saw it on Cracked an acquaintance posted it on Facebook as real. Like I said, any time anyone gets fooled by this, I get a little more delighted.

Me: So, how did you come up with this idea?

Jason: I think it came from the combination of the similarity of form factors of the Atari carts and 8 tracks, and the thinking that, really, someone should have done something like this, right? I mean, why not?

Me: Who are those people in the ad?

Jason: Man, I wish I knew. There was a trend in 70s and 80s ads to have people in them making these absurdly, improbably ecstatic faces and expressions. Whoever that guy was in the background, he's a master. Here's the original ad...

Me: I love the description about the fake game how you described Foghat being "most gifted and savvy group." My dad, who was Lonesome Dave from Foghat, would of loved this whole thing. So, I have to ask, are you a Foghat fan?

Jason: I do believe Foghat was gifted and savvy! I'm not sure I would actually say I was a real fan, but I respected them. I was more of a new wave/early punk kid back in the day.

Me: I just had a thought, I never had Atari, I was more of an Intellivision fan. My sister in fact still owns our old Intellivision and is still works. Anyway, I would of known they came out with a game and 8-track. You were more of an Atari fan I take it, right?

Jason: I have an Intellivision, too! And an Atari. But, back in the day, I was an Atari kid. Still, I really like Intellivisions, too, especially technically, since they were so weird. Where most computers are based on memory units of 8 bits called bytes, Intellivisions used a 10-bit unit called a 'decle,' for example. They're really interesting machines, and the Inty version of "Burgertime" kicks ass.

Me: Didn't you design and build a giant Atari joystick?

Jason: I did! 15x scale, and it actually works! Here's some pictures of it...

Me: What was this for, and how long did it take youth build?

Jason: This was for the i am 8 bit art show in LA, run by my friend Jon Gibson. We wanted something big and interactive for the show, and the giant joystick seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I am 8 bit ( is still doing great stuff.

Me: I was gonna ask if it worked but that would be stupid. Did it move at least? Where is it now?

Jason: It's not stupid! It does work! It plugs right into any normal Atari. The electronics are really pretty simple. When I exhibit it, I usually try to have a nice big projection of an Atari game to play so everything is scaled up. People climb all over it and do their best to try and play the game. It's pretty cumbersome. Currently, it's dismantled in a moving truck! It'll be with me very soon.

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

Jason: I grew up in Greensboro, NC, but have lived in LA for the past 17 or so years... until now. I just moved back to Chapel Hill, NC this past week, mostly for family reasons. That's why the joystick is still in transit.

Me: You are a car enthusiast, right, writing articles about cars?

Jason: Oh yes. My day job is as an auto journalist for the website It's a fantastic job. 

Me: What kinda car do you drive? What do you think of the PT Cruiser?

Jason: I have a number of cars: my daily driver is a 1973 VW Beetle, I have a project car... a British 1973 Reliant Scimitar, and I just bought a 1977 Dodge RV for my cross-country trip. I also have a 2006 Scion xB for my wife and kid. I'm not a huge PT Cruiser fan, but I do like the general category of retro-inspired cars, and I'm quite glad the PT Cruiser exists. It's a pretty successful design for what it does.

Me: You are also a big Star Wars fan as well I think, am I right? You have a life-sized Artoo? Did you build that?

Jason: I am a big fan, mostly of the droids. I actually don't have that R2, but I hunted down a guy around LA that builds movie-accurate R2 droids and took my son, Otto to see it... actually, two, as there was an R5 as well.

Me: We talked about video games, and you have worked on a few. Didn't you work on a Monty Python video game, or this that fake as well? Haha.

Jason: That was real! It was one of the first jobs I had in LA, doing animation and art for the Monty Python Meaning of Life game.

Me: Who approached you for this, Jason?

Jason: Honestly, that I don't remember!

Me: So, you are a writer, artist and designer. What came first and what do you like to do better?

Jason: Artist probably came first, since I've been drawing since I was a little kid. Designer was a direct offshoot of that, a way of making a living from my love of art. Writing came later, but I love that, too. I think I still like the art stuff the best, but I love doing all the things I do.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your book, "Ad Nauseam..." which you wrote with some other people. Who are those people, Jason?

Jason: The book was edited by Carrie McLaren and myself, along with a number of great contributors. Carrie had started a zine called Stay Free! that I worked on with her for years. The book was like a final culmination of that work.

Me: Who came up with the idea for the book?

Jason: We both decided we wanted to do something big to wrap up Stay Free! and this was the way to do it. Media and advertising has always been interesting to me as well, since it's so powerful in our society.

Me: How long did it take you to write?

Jason: I think we worked on the book for about 8-10 months or so. But a lot of it was collecting articles we'd run in the zine before.

Me: Tell the readers what the book is about?

Jason: It's a collection of articles and essays about consumer culture, advertising, and how it interacts with society. We tried to make it funny and engaging, too.

Me: Who came out with the books title?

Jason: That I can't remember. We were originally going to call the book "Consume!", but I like "Ad Nauseam" better.

Me: What do you think of commercials and ads on TV? Do you have a favorite one?

Jason: I have a real love/hate relationship with them. As far as TV ads go, I'm not sure if I have a favorite as such, though early VW ads were pretty fantastic. 

Me: The book is just not about ads, is it?

Jason: Not just ads... it's more about how the entire American consumer culture affects us all. I'm actually starting a new book now, about cars prior to 1880.

Me: Hey, didn't you create some videos for the Onion? The one about Obama's home teleprompter is my favorite. Did you write this whole fake news story?

Jason: I was an idea writer for the Onion News Network (the video part of the Onion) for years. That home teleprompter one was one of my ideas, as well as a number of other segments, including one about the first openly gay racehorse and Joe Biden having to give up doing ads for Hennessey. I didn't write entire segments, I just came up with lists of 20 or so ideas every week, with descriptions.

Me: You're very creative, Jason. Have you always been creative?

Jason: Thanks! And, yes, I think I have been. I can't imagine not working on some creative project at any given time. I go nuts when I'm not making something.

Me: I used to be creative, but not anymore. I don't know what happened. Is Otto your son creative?

Jason: I bet you're still creative. I think he is quite imaginative and creative, though right now that creativity is used mostly to turn things he finds on the ground into pretend spaceships.

Me: Jason, thanks so much for being on the Phile. I hope this was fun, and I hope you an come back soon. Is there anything else you are working on right now?

Jason: Thanks for having me! I'm always writing about interesting stuff on, and I've got that pre-1880s car book. I also have a couple new video game-related art projects I'm starting on. I hope to have them ready for the anniversary i am 8 bit show next year.

Me: Go ahead and mention your website and I wish you continued success, and thanks for making a great ad featuring Foghat... real or fake. And please come back.

Jason: The website is and thank you!

Well, that about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and of course Jason Torchinsky. The Phile will be back next Thursday with actress, writer and hostess Stephanie Pressman and then on Friday it's Phile Alum Neil Sheasby from the band Stone Foundation. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let alligators and snakes 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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