Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pheaturing Dr. Demento

Hello, welcome to the Phile, kids. How are you? I am back in Florida again. I had such a good time on Long Island. I wish I can go to a diner today. Speaking of today, today is my 17th wedding anniversary. If you are not married I have to tell you marriage is finding the person who puts up with your shit, admires your weird little ways and still says they love you at the end of the day. Good times... Anyway, enough about me, kids. Let's talk about more important stuff.  When you think of New York, what's the first delicious treat that pops into your head? Okay, what's the second? The third? How about the 19th? That's right! Yogurt! That's why New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo just signed a bill into law making the sour dairy product the "Official New York State Snack."
I ate a lot of different foods hen I was in New York... pizza, a dirty water hot dog, bagels, diner food... but one thing I didn't eat was yogurt. Next time I'll try some of that New York yogurt.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that it has chosen Neil Patrick Harris to be the next dishearteningly disappointing host of the Oscars. The actor/singer/comedian/author joins a long and very prestigious list of performers who have utterly failed to live up to people's expectations for the difficult and thankless job. You know they picked Neil Patrick Harris to host the Oscars since he's the same cummerbund size as Ellen.  Despite the relatively low number of actual Ebola cases in the United States, the virus has been garnering sufficient enough headlines to force President Obama to appoint former Chief of Staff to the Vice President Ron Klain as the nation's first Ebola czar. Hopefully, he'll be a little more successful than the drug czar and the Guantanamo closure czar. I'm worried an Ebola Czar might conflict with the Swine Flu Kaiser and the Premier of Colds, then it will be years of trench foot warfare.  Hey, Harry Potter fans, Warner Bros. has announced that it is somehow adapting J.K. Rowling's 42-page, mostly narrative-free "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" into at least three blockbuster fantasy films based in the Harry Potter universe. On the plus side, Rowling will be writing the screenplays herself, so even if they're bad, they'll at least be canon. Has anyone already come up with a "2 Legit 2 Quidditch" t-shirt for people who don't like magic, Harry Potter, or fun but do like shirts?  Warner Bros. and DC Comics also announced its full slate of scheduled superhero movies that it will be releasing through 2020, including two Justice League movies and stand-alone films for such iconic characters as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Combined with Marvel Studios and Sony Entertainment's full lists, it is now appearing as though moviegoers will hardly ever be lacking for a new comic book movie on which to spend their money. If current trends persist, it is expected that a superhero movie will be released to theaters every 7.3 hours by 2026.  Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison today for "gross negligence" in shooting his fiancée multiple times last Valentine's Day. Speaking of "gross negligence," the South African legal system is expected to spit him back out onto the street within a year.  Character actor Frank Sivero (The Godfather Part II, Goodfellas, Cop and ½) is suing Fox Television Studios for the very reasonable sum of $250,000,000 on the claim that the Simpsons character Louie was modeled after him. "Louie's appearance and mannerisms are strongly evocative of character actor Frank Sivero," according to the lawsuit, which, to be fair, is funnier than anything the character Louie has done in about twelve years. The character of Lenny is clearly based on me but you don't see me suing the Simpsons.  I just mentioned that they are gonna make some more Harry Potter spin-off movies. Well, they are also coming out with a new Harry Potter book and I have the exclusive cover right here.

When I flew to Long Island and back I flew on Southwest, but when I was at the airport I couldn't help but notice Delta's new ad...

Yesterday I went to McDonald's and their new ad blew me away.

Crazy, right?  Okay, with all this Ebola talk, TV networks are cashing in by coming out with new Ebola themed TV shows. Here's a new one coming out soon.

One thing I like to do in my spare time is to go on Twitter and look up different words to see what people are talking about. One of those words I look up is Foghat and this is what I recently found...

Yes! Very cool, Matt.  It's October, and before I went to Long Island I was showing you
some amazing cancer survivors who chose body art instead of reconstructive surgery. Well, here's a new one.

Designed by tattoo artist Pat Fish, this double knot tattoo serves a dual purpose. Breast cancer survivor Mary asked for a round Celtic knot to mitigate the appearance of the scars on her chest left from the surgery. "We consulted about art choices, and then she had the second breast removed also, so we had to wait for her immune system to be ready for this project. Over a period of several months we did the two Celtic circles."

Films set during World War II are a repository for every wish we have about the moral validity of war. They’re perennial, of course, produced regularly whether or not the country is in a good mood. But they exist, in anxious times, as an emotional site, a place where war can be won and made “good.”  Fury isn’t exactly like that. It's not at all like that, in fact. It’s a strange animal, from director David Ayer (End of Watch), who takes his ongoing concerns with men involved in violence for a living... criminals, cops and brings them to the last battlefield in American history that most people still view with fondness. Then he turns it into a gory horror film about the way war turns human beings into monsters. “Ideals are peaceful; history is violent,” says Sgt. Don Collier (Brad Pitt) to young, terrified soldier Norman (Logan Lerman), and he ain’t kidding.  Set in the final months of the war, a tank crew (Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal) led by Collier, rolls slowly through Germany, outgunned every creeping inch of the way, killing as many enemy troops as they can. Added to the mix is inexperienced Norman, trained as a clerk, possibly wrongly routed to tank duty. No matter. Replacing a recently killed soldier, Norman's first assignment from Collier is cleaning his predecessor's shredded body from the inside of the tank. We witness a human face separated from the rest of its original head. And the violent imagery doesn’t get any softer or nicer after that.  Bookended by long sequences of intense battles, Fury takes a detour, mid-film, into a strange, tense lull, as Collier and Norman take temporary rest in a German home where two young women are living. The soldiers eat, clean up, and, in Norman’s case, find unexpected sexual pleasure there. Trying to fit into an approximation of domestic life... if only for a couple hours... is difficult, and then impossible, as the rest of the crew, still high on killing and drunk on alcohol, invade the space and ruin the almost peaceful moment. Back to the tank.  As Lerman’s perpetually shocked, anxiety-wracked Norman assimilates and finds his inner fuck-you, Fury makes its point... to be successful in war requires a displacement of humanity and mercy. To survive allows for nothing else. Norman becomes as brutal as his band of brothers, and his final ironic moments on screen, binding together terror and mercy, distill his cognitive and spiritual dissonance. Ayer's immediate, gut-level filmmaking, less about indelible images than about power and blunt force, is an anguished, down and dirty experience of ugly reflection. More tonally informed by Iraq and Afghanistan than by Nazi Germany’s clear-cut moral imperative, it simultaneously questions and reinforces ideas about martyrdom and heroism, and ultimately makes the case for the idea that there never have been any good wars, not even the ones we liked. I give Fury an 8.

Do you spot the Mindphuck? Email me if you want to if you spot it. Well, it's Thursday and on Thursday's I like talk football with my good friends Jeff and Lori.

Me: Hey, Jeff, Lori, welcome back to Phile. How are you both?

Jeff: It's always good to be back on the Phile regardless if it's out of Florida or Long Island. I hope you enjoyed your trip there and based off the pictures you posted, you did. That's good!

Me: Yes, I had a great time. Before we talk about football, Jeff, I have to mention something called Two Dudes, Brews and Books. What is that exactly?

Jeff: Two Dudes, Brews and Books is an independent book company that will publish books through Amazon. It was started by pheatured Phile guest Jeremy Croston and I. Jeremy's books are now published under that company and mine will be too. We also started a Facebook Group where we can discuss books and beers and anything else that we feel like.

Me: Jeremy Croston who we used to work with years ago was on the Phile a month or so back talking about his book "Power Play" like you said. Was that the start of all this? Should my ego take the credit? Haha.

Jeff: Yes, you pheaturing Jeremy on the Phile is sort of what got it started so feel free to let your ego take credit. Anyone interested in joining the group is more than welcome to. It's an open group.

Me: So, you are writing a book as well, right, Jeff?

Jeff: I am indeed working on my first novel as well. It is an adaption from a screenplay I wrote years ago, with a lot of changes going on to it.

Me: I used to write short stories when I was a kid and I wrote a few books that never got published. One is a novel called "Success" and the other is a biography on my dad and Foghat called "Sneakers and Guitars". I think that was the name. Your book you are writing, is it a novel?

Jeff: You should talk to Jeremy about getting your old novels published as well. And that way you can conquer another medium. Blog? Check. Music? Check. Books? Go for it!

Me: We'll see. Okay, Jeff, when your book comes out I will have you on the Phile as a pheatured guest. Would that be cool?

Jeff: Of course I will gladly be a pheatured guest on the Phile when my book comes out. I will keep you posted and you can fit me into your star studded schedule.

Me: Okay, football... any news this week I should know about? It's been a quiet football week, hasn't it?

Jeff: I don't know that I would call it a quiet week. There has been more season ending injuries this week, and you never want to see that. Bears WR Brandon Marshall threw a fit in the locker room after his team loss, blaming his QB. And there was a rare trade when the Jets sent a conditional draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks for WR Percy Harvin. Oh, and Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre's record of most touchdowns thrown in a career. And he is still going.

Me: You're right, it wasn't a quite week. Okay, so, how did we do with last weeks picks? Am I still in second place?

Jeff: I had my worst week of the season failing to pick a victory. I went 0-2. You and Lori both went 1-1. However the Steelers won, the Eagles on a bye week and Dallas beating the Giants I was the only one to pick a point in team play. So as it stands I am still in first place with 24 points, Jason is in second with 19 points and Lori has 17 points.

Me: Let's do this weeks picks... I say Broncos will win by 8 and the Seattle will win by 4. What do you kids say?

Jeff: This week I pick New England by 3 over the Bears, further frustrating Marshall and Dallas (ugh) over Washington by 7.

Lori: I'll say the Ravens by 3 and the Raiders with the upset by 1. If Jacksonville can get their first win against the Browns, then maybe Oakland can too!

Me: Good job, kids, see you next Thursday.

A few weeks ago I interviewed a singer named Molly Roth who has a single out called "Pin Me Up" and did a whole pin-up shoot. We talked about how much I like the pin-up look, and then I found an artist who does that mina work as his specialty so he is now the 28th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery. His name is Al Abbazia and this is one of his pieces...

Al will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's pheatured guest is an American radio broadcaster and record collector specializing in novelty songs, comedy, and strange or unusual recordings dating from the early days of phonograph records to the present. This is so cool, kids. Please welcome to the Phile... Dr. Demento.

Me: Hello, sir, welcome to the Phile. It's such an honor to have a legend like you here. How are you?

Dr. Demento: Fine. And you?

Me: I'm good. So, should I call you Doctor, sir?

Dr. Demento: If there’s a mic or cameras running, yes. Otherwise Barry is fine.

Me: Doctor, you live in Los Angeles now, but where are you originally from?

Dr. Demento: Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Me: How long have you been a doctor?

Dr. Demento: Since the Dr. Demento Show began, in October 1970.

Me: When I told a few friends I was gonna be interviewing you they couldn't believe it. My dad was a fan and I first heard about you when I was a kid. You have been in the business a long time. How did you first get into radio? Was it a fluke or did you wanna be on radio growing up?

Dr. Demento: Yes, I wanted to be on the radio growing up. As soon as I arrived at Reed College in 1959, I volunteered for the campus FM station.

Me: I used to want to be a radio DJ, but I think I have an annoying voice. So, I'll stick to blogging. Was it challenging at first?

Dr. Demento: When I was a kid I did not enjoy hearing my voice played back. After I got into commercial radio, and realized that people enjoyed hearing me talk, and would pay me for talking, I got used to it.

Me: No one would pay to hear me talk. They would pay to shut me up. Haha. Did you ever meet my dad, Doctor, or see him perform?

Dr. Demento: Saw Foghat perform a couple times in the 1970s. I also saw Savoy Brown once when he was with them. Unfortunately I never had the pleasure of meeting Lonesome Dave, though.

Me: Radio has changed a lot since the 70s, hasn't it? What do you think has been the biggest change?

Dr. Demento: Probably the consolidation of radio ownership in a few large companies. There used to be strict limits on how many stations a company could own; those were phased out in the 1970s and 80s. Also very important: the rise of “narrowcasting,” when station owners began seeking to appeal to a certain demographic target (such as females 15 to 25, males 18 to 30, and/or various cultural or racial groups) rather than seeking to attract as many overall listeners as possible as they had earlier. 

Me: Back then morning radio shows or morning zoos didn't really exist. Do you think you changed radio and people have mimicked you?

Dr. Demento: I can’t take credit for the morning zoo concept, but many morning zoo shows use song parodies and other elements that were most likely inspired by the Dr. Demento Show.

Me: Because of you a lot of novelty songs and acts wouldn't get any kind of play. I interviewed Bermuda Schwartz from Weird Al's band and you pretty much put Weird Al on the map, am I right?

Dr. Demento: Yes.

Me: I have an early picture of Al and you here that I found.

Me: Weird Al is pretty big, bigger than ever, with his last album going to number one. When you found out about that, what did you think?

Dr. Demento: I am very happy for him... though it’s not entirely accurate to say he’s bigger than ever, since several of his earlier albums sold more copies than “Mandatory Fun” is likely to.

Me: Good point. Did you think he'd ever last as long as he has?

Dr. Demento: Throughout his career he’s continued to amaze me and lots of other people by being so resourceful, developing new talents, new ways of reaching and amusing people. I learned long ago not to sell him short, not to expect him to fail. There have been peaks and valleys in his career as with any artist, of course, but he’s always come roaring back.

Me: So, I have to ask, what is your favorite novelty song, and favorite act ever?

Dr. Demento: Novelty is all about newness, so I will perk up at hearing something new and wonderful. Over time, I’ll just go by what the public says...Weird Al is way ahead of everyone else working today as an artist. “Fish Heads” and “Dead Puppies” are neck and neck as the all time most requested songs.

Me: There's so many classic songs that are known because of you... did anybody ever give you grief, say, for making a song like Elmo and Patsy's "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" a success?

Dr. Demento: Not to my face, though there are certainly people who curse me for inflicting that upon them.

Me: People don't write novelty songs much anymore, do they?

Dr. Demento: There may not be many of those on the pop charts aside from Weird Al, but lots of new novelty songs are still showing up on morning radio shows, and on websites like the Funny Music Project ( and of course TV shows like "Saturday Night Live", and most of all on YouTube and iTunes (which maintains a comedy singles Top 30 which is updated frequently).

Me: What do you think of the music business now?

Dr. Demento: I’m kinda glad I’m not depending on it for a livelihood.

Me: I have a 'band' called Strawberry Blondes Forever and someone told me that our album is a novelty album but it wasn't meant to be. Doctor, what makes a good novelty song?

Dr. Demento: If it makes people laugh and makes them want to play it for their friends, I’d say it’s good.

Me: Okay, back to your career... another Doctor, the Doctor from "Doctor Who" said bow ties are cool. I disgree, but you make the bow tie look stylish. When did you first dress the way you do, and how did you one up with that look?

Dr. Demento: My first manager suggested I wear a tux. I bought one, and for awhile would mix it up, putting the tux coat on over a t-shirt, etc. but when I had to wear a respectable tux to go to the Grammys, I had to agree that I looked good in that, especially with the top hat.

Me: I always loved your hat, you pull it off pretty good. How many hats do you have?

Dr. Demento: Thanks. I have two that are in good shape that I wear to gigs, and a couple more older ones I keep for spares or for when they might get rough treatment. I’ve probably owned about eight over time. I’ve given a few old ones away for charity.

Me: You, like my dad did, have a large record collection, right? Do you prefer albums or singles?

Dr. Demento: Having gone through high school when rock & roll mostly came on singles, I’m still partial to those. I don’t often listen to an album all the way through, though I did quite a bit of that in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Me: And what about iTunes and mp3's? Do you like that format?

Dr. Demento: I like iTunes for bringing back the single. I applaud an artist who can make a whole album worth listening to, but I got real tired of spending $16.95 for a CD with only one good song on it... mp3’s can’t match CD’s for sound, but they’re real convenient, especially for sending a sound file to someone else.

Me: I have to ask you about this, you have a degree in Ethnomusicology. What is that and where did you get the degree from? I have a degree in Epcotology... don't ask what that is. Haha.

Dr. Demento: I have a master’s degree in Folk Music Studies from UCLA. I got the degree in 1967. They no longer offer that degree.

Me: I also have to ask about the documentary "Under the Smogberry Trees". What does the name mean, Doctor?

Dr. Demento: I used to say that at the start of every show. In the 1970s smog was still a huge problem in L.A., and one of the things L.A. was best known for.

Me: This documentary is about you, right? I am very surprised it took this long for one to be made.

Dr. Demento: Me too. Yes, it is about me.

Me: It was funded through Kickstarter... which is cool. When you were approached by the filmmakers, what did you think?

Dr. Demento: I was impressed that they got it funded, and didn’t come to me for money as some other filmmakers had. Of course the Kickstarter funding was just enough to get started, we will need more funding to complete it.

Me: In the past you have put out tons of compilation CD's of music and bits from your show. Are those CDs still available? I checked iTunes and they only have one of the CD's up there.

Dr. Demento: Rhino is no longer manufacturing my CD’s; they do have some stock on a couple of them. Regarding iTunes, my CD’s are compilations, and the individual tracks still belong to their original owners... so iTunes has to go to them for licensing.

Me: That's a good point. Doctor, you have lived an amazing career. What has been the biggest highlight so far?

Dr. Demento: Impossible to pick just one, sorry.

Me: Was being on "The Simpson's" fun? That has to be a high honor. I read somewhere they are gonna release a Simpson's action figure of you, have you heard that?

Dr. Demento: Yes, it was. I have heard that rumor about an action figure, but have no confirmation about that.

Me: Man, I can ask you millions of questions, but I know you are busy. On the Phile though I like to ask random questions thanks to table topics. This one sucks. Do you possess any of he qualities of your astrological sign?

Dr. Demento: I’m an Aries. My wife, who believes in astrology more than I do, thinks I fit right in. 

Me: Doctor, tell my readers where they can listen the Dr. Demento Show. Please come back on the Phile again soon, sir. All the best.

Dr. Demento: They can hear it anytime at We upload a new show every Saturday morning, but people can hear that, and all the other over 1,000 shows we have available, anytime they like. There is a small charge for the streaming, so we can pay royalties to composers and artists.

Me: That is brilliant, Doctor. Thanks again and please come back on the Phile soon.

There. That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz, Lori Sedlacek and of course Dr. Demento. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Jess Meuse who was on the last season of "American Idol". So, 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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