Monday, January 20, 2014

Pheaturing Lauren McCullough

Hello, and welcome to the Phile and Happy Martin Luther King Day. Is that something you should say today? Anyway, MLK worked his ass off, got stabbed in the chest, was jailed a ton of times, even died... for black rights. And this is what we get...

Alright, moving on...  The post-racial post-gender era of American history officially kicked off Saturday night after Sasheer Zamata made her debut as "Saturday Night Live's" first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007. It's probably much easier for Sasheer Zamata to be funny on "SNL" while being saddled with the pressure of representing an entire race/gender. According to new studies, diabetes, liver cancer and erectile dysfunction are just a few of the newly-discovered dangers that you will be actively ignoring while standing outside in the cold trying inhale a cigarette about 20 minutes from now. Is smoking actually bad for you? COMING UP: A special report that fucks you around for a while before finally confirming that it still is...  In an effort to assuage foreigners that their gay athletes will face no dangers while in Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Vladimir Putin revealed that he is so okay with homosexuals that he even allows a select few to penetrate his ears with their beautifully-crafted piano pop ballads. Haha. Putin revealed that he's totally cool with gay people named "Elton John".  A 77 year old Florida Walmart customer was arrested for beating a disabled 65 year old fellow customer for entering the "20 Items Or Less" express lane with 22 items, a clear betrayal of the social contract.  A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that your child's obesity problem might not be caused by fast food restaurants like McDonald's so much as all the other parenting decisions you made.  Did you hear the story of Madonna calling her son the N-word on Instagram? Well, it did not go well for her. So, this was a bad idea. I don't know exactly how Madonna thought this was a good idea, but I'm pretty sure any common sense she once had has been locked up in an English castle for 20 years now. I will say that when I first read the story, I was somehow relieved that it was one of her white children. Then, I was more confused, and wasn't sure if I should be more upset that it was one of her white children. Then I was mad at myself for not knowing the right answer. Not as mad as other people were, though. I have a feeling that Madonna will get off the hook on this one... not completely unscathed, but less damaged than most celebs would be... because many people are probably as confused as I am. Why did the use of the word enter her mind at all? Did she think that adopting children from Africa somehow gave her slang powers? That would make no sense, but I'm just trying to get inside the Kabbala-lined fortress of her mind. Did she somehow make that stupidest of Caucasian mistakes, thinking converting the -er into an -a would somehow make the word friendly and playful? All I know is that her first response was indignant and defensive...

That is, until her rep Liz Rosenberg woke up Saturday morning and presumably freaked the eff out over this. Madonna issued this statement through Rosenberg: "I am sorry if I offended anyone with my use of the N word on Instagram. It was not meant as a racial slur.. I am not a racist. There's no way to defend the use of the word. It was all about intention... it was used as a term of endearment toward my son who is white. I appreciate that it's a provocative word and I apologize if it game people the wrong impression. Forgive me." Well, that settles it, then. A little of the old "sorry if I offended anyone," a little of the old "there's no way to defend it" followed immediately by "it was all about intention." Ah, celebrity apologies. You just can't get stuff like that anywhere else. Except in Congress, every day. Don't use the N-Word, people. You are very unlikely to come up with a convincing excuse.  I love Jennifer Lawrence, that girl is everywhere. I was watching that Miley Cyrus "Wrecking Ball" video again and I didn't know Jennifer was in it. Take a look...

So, NBC announced that the next musical on TV around Christmas time will be "Peter Pan". And they are gonna use another "American Idol" alum, and I have the exclusive who it's gonna be. No, not Kelly. I wish.

That's gonna be good. Haha. It looks like Stephen Colbert is gonna play John. That does look like him, right.  Today as I said is Martin Luther King Day and they released a special inspirational poster about him today.

Alright, and now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Similarities And Differences Between The Benghazi Attack And The Egg Attack On Justin Bieber's Neighbor
5. Law enforcement officials reacted quickly to investigate the incident.
4. Its perpetrators have a minimal grasp on the English language.
3. It was strongly condemned by the American Egg Board.
2. Those responsible will ultimately get off scot-free.
And the number one similarity and difference between the Benghazi attack and the egg attack is...
1. It's getting waaaay too much media attention. 

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, so last week and the last two days I have been telling you that over at they were running an Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame battle and the first round was Styx versue Foghat. Unfortunately Styx won. Thanks everybody who voted. Alright, it's MLK dDay, and a phriend of the Phile wanted to say something about him. He's a patriot and renaissance man and phriend of the Phile... please welcome back for a record three days in the row... Laird Jim in a pheature we call...

Good morning humans... I am overcome by this thought. I hope you remember why you are off today, why the schools and banks are closed today. I hope you take time out of your busy day off to go on the Internet and look up some quotes by Martin Luther King Jr. This was a man who tirelessly and peacefully fought for the idea that we are all equal regardless of our skin color, religeous beliefs or sexual orientation. That we should love and protect each other (no matter what) because WE are all we've got. This man had much to say... it's a pity he was silenced before he had a chance to see how far we've come... and to have helped us push even further. But you humans never listen to those who wish to better your world... Jesus Christ... JFK... MLK... John Lennon... and so on. You brand them as trouble makers and then you kill them. When will you ever learn?

Well said, Laird, well said. Okay, the 27th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Steven Thomas and this is one of his pieces...

Man, anybody who does a "Thunderbirds" piece is cool with me. Anyway, Steven will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's pheatured guest is someone really special. She is a cancer patient who writes an amazing blog called The Not-Dying Girl. Please welcome to the Phile... Lauren McCullough.

Me: Hello, Lauren, welcome to the Phile. I am so glad you are here. How are you?

Lauren: Hey! I am doing pretty well.

Me: Okay, I have to admit, this is slightly a different interview than I have done in the past. I have interviewed a lot of musicians, authors, artists, a talking rat, a talking gnu and a super hero... all true, but this is the first interview with someone as inspirational and amazing as you are. And I mean that. Anyway, I first learnt about you when someone on Facebook posted a news story on you on their page. Have you been doing a lot of interviews, Lauren?

Lauren: I have been doing a few interviews lately, mostly asking about how I manage to stay so positive throughout my second diagnosis of cancer.

Me: I started to read your blog The Not-Dying Girl, and let me tell you, a few times you made me cry. I have been doing this stupid little blog for eight years and I have no idea why. I am kinda addicted to it. When I started it was for shits and giggles. You, on the other hand, have a blog which will give a lot of people hope. For the readers that don't know, can you tell them what The Not-Dying Girl blog is about?

Lauren: Well, I guess I needed to get my feelings out about my situation one way or another! I am not the most vocal about my worries or pains, and my blog is the medium for it. The blog then kind of blossomed into speaking my mind (because I guess you kinda have to when you are given a horrible prognosis), trying to change people's perspectives on life, and raising childhood cancer awareness.

Me: When did you first start to write it, Lauren, and what was the reason you wanted to write it? 

Lauren: I started writing my blog in May or June of 2013, after my cancer, Ewing's Sarcoma, relapsed and was worse than ever. I felt the need to write about how I was feeling so I could kind of leave something behind and it was a way to relieve the stress about being told that I would not be living for too much longer.

Me: You put a lot of work into it, does it take you long to do one entry?

Lauren: Oh my goodness it takes forever to write each entry! Normally, it takes about three hours to write one entry. I always write my blog entries in one sitting and just let the words flow. I never look at what I have written and sometimes forget exactly what I had just written. Kind of like how some actors simply cannot watch their movies because they are their worst critics.

Me: You are VERY honest on what you write, which is amazing. Have you ever written anything, posted it and regret saying what you said?

Lauren: Um, I don't really regret what I say in any of my entries because everything comes from the heart and from spur-of-the-moment feelings. I think that is what makes everything so real.

Me: Does your family read it? What do they think?

Lauren: My family does read my blog! They really enjoy reading things from my perspective and sometimes get slightly embarrassed about how blunt I am, but they laugh about it.

Me: I was thinking all your entries should be put into a book and be sold. Did you ever think of that? Your book would sell, Lauren.

Lauren: I have thought about writing a book! I want to reach out to as many people as possible. Soon enough I am sure I will put a lot more effort into starting one, well I have a few pages right now. I write a whole lot more in the hospital because there aren't as many things for me to do!

Me: Lauren, where are you from?

Lauren: I am from Elk Grove, California! I have lived here basically my whole life!

Me: You're in college, right? Where do you go to school?

Lauren: I am not currently enrolled in college due to how unpredictable my health is, and that every month I have one week of chemotherapy. But I went to Diablo Valley College, a junior college in the Bay Area, for the swim team.

Me: Swimming...? Is that something you want to do professionally? Would you want to be a swimmer in the Olympics?

Lauren: I am a swimmer and I have been swimming since I was 12. I have been swimming almost all of the time since I started, minus the year of my first diagnosis and I have not been able to really compete since May 2013. I would definitely love to swim at a University, but it is not something that I would get any farther in than college. Oh, and I would be doing masters swimming after the college years are over (or now, just at my own pace). It is incredibly hard to get any money out of swim, but coaching is something I like to do! As for the Olympics, I will be honest, I would have to devote my entire life to swim and my body and mind cannot handle it. Even then, I would not be good enough for the Olympics, although I might make Olympic Trials given that I were to dedicate every waking hour to swimming, eating right, and sleeping. That just isn't going to happen!

Me: Do you have a favorite swimmer or inspiration?

Lauren: I would have to say the swimmers whom I look up to the most are Summer Sanders, Natalie Coughlin, and Missy Franklin.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your cancer, Lauren. Both of my parents passed away from cancer in 2000, so it has been a big part of my life. Not as big as yours though. Tell the readers what kind of cancer do you have?

Lauren: I have Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare pediatric bone/ soft tissue cancer. It is super aggressive and unpredictable, is not passed down through genetics, and only about 250 people are diagnosed each year. I am one of those unlucky few!

Me: You were just 18 when you found out you had cancer, am I right? You're 21 now, so you have been fighting for a few years. When you were first diagnosed, what was the first thing you thought? Do you remember?

Lauren: I have to say, when I was 18 and was still getting my tests done, my freakout moment was when I was told that my biopsy was going to be scheduled in a specialty center and that my original biopsy had been canceled (I did not have to go to the hospital that specialized in the leg surgery) and that I had "a long road ahead of me". Yeah, that did not sit well with me. I started crying and was then told by my mom that my tumor in the leg was 10 inches long instead of being the size of a walnut like she had originally told me. So after my biopsy, I kind of knew that I had cancer. I know my body well and this was no injury that I had caused. Something did not feel right, I did not cry when I was diagnosed officially because I was prepared for what I was going to feel.

Me: I am sure your family has been a big support. How are they, and how did they the news?

Lauren: My family has been so good to me! I think they are handling it the same way that I am... they aren't thinking about it. We just go with the flow and make the most of the time we get to spend together.

Me: Do you still swim, Lauren? I am guessing it's really hard to do now, am I right?

Lauren: I have not been in the pool recently, unfortunately. I am hoping that after my next chemo I will feel well enough to soak for a while!

Me: Before your hair fell out, you dyed it green. I have a picture of you with green hair I have to show.

Me: Did you always want green hair?

Lauren: I actually just dyed my hair teal just because I could! I knew it was going to fall out so I decided to have fun with it.

Me: You have a long bucket list, and have been going through it. On your bucket list you said you wanted tattoos, and now you have them. You have a giant scorpion on your back that looks 3D. I have to show a picture of that as well...

Me: You also have a lock on your ankle, right? Do those two mean anything?

Lauren: I got the scorpion on my back because it represents me. Tough on the outside, but soft on the inside. They survive in the harshest of conditions. Pretty to look at, but if you mess with me you will get "stung". They also glow in the dark, which is pretty cool. My mom got the locket and keys on her ankle to represent that my brother and I are the keys to her heart.

Me: I have four tattoos, and they didn't really hurt getting them. When you got yours, did they hurt? 

Lauren: My tattoo did not hurt too bad at first, but when you are like four hours in, your body gets a little tired of having the same spot opened up over and over again. I also have a high pain tolerance so I am sure that helped a little!

Me: Another thing you wanted to do that is on the list is fall in love... and eventually get married. Well, you did that and got married. I saw the wedding video and let me tell you I cried. Man, you did warn the reader they should have their Kleenex ready. And I have to say, you made a beautiful bride.

Me: What's your husband's name?

Lauren: Haha... well I haven't fallen in love but I had a beautiful ceremony! I feel so uncomfortable watching that video because I hate seeing myself so emotional! So many people have told me that they were moved by the video. And my "husband" is in the Navy and his name is Egor.

Me: Was it a big wedding?

Lauren: The wedding had over 200 people there, so I guess you could say it was fairly large! It was everything that I could have wanted, minus it being on the beach. Other than that it was perfect!

Me: Another thing on your list is learn bar tending. That's an usual one. You got to do that for your 21st birthday, am I right? Was that fun?

Lauren: Learning to bar-tend was so much fun! I think it is a cool skill to know and is fun to show off, it was the best way to spend my 21st!

Me: What other stuff do you have on your list, Lauren?

Lauren: I do have a lot of things on my bucket list that I still have to accomplish, I am just taking things in stride and when I can fit things in given my health. Most of my items on the list revolve around food somehow. I am still working on adding more random things to the list.

Me: Recently you hosted an UFC fight. How did that come about? Are you an UFC fan?

Lauren: I didn't host the UFC event, but I got awesome seats and a great experience! It just so happens that one of the vice-presidents of the UFC has a brother who reads my blog and read that I have taken a liking to MMA. That was that! I was able to present the championship belt for the world flyweight championship. That was unexpected and really amazing.

Me: That wasn't on your bucket list, was it? Haha.

Lauren: It was not on my bucket list! But it was so cool either way!

Me: Lauren, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? This is 100% random... what's the last thing you cried about? Man, that's a dumb one. You can answer it if you want, but here's another one... when did your family come to this country and from where? I wanna say Scotland for you. I'm from England and my family first came to this country in 1974.

Lauren: I will answer both questions! The last time I cried was actually on my birthday when my blood draw did not go well and I got poked four times before I finally left without the sample. No fun! Um, gosh... My grandma knows all about my ancestry! But my grandma on my dad's side is originally from Denmark, although my last name is indeed Scottish, from my dad's dad's side of the family. I THINK on my mom's side we had someone come over on one of the three original ships that came to America and that he owned a store.

Me: That's cool. Lauren, I know you're busy, and probably very tired. Thank you so much for being on the Phile. Your story is amazing, and everybody should read your blog. I'd rather them read your blog than this one. I have to say, I'm a pretty miserable person and complain and whine quite a bit, about the smallest things in my life. In your photos, with everything you've been through, you are always smiling and you are so positive. Have you always been this way, even before you got sick?

Lauren: Honestly, I have never been much of a complainer. But now I am even more critical of people who complain about aches and pains than ever. I think that when you get diagnosed with cancer you have to just go along with what life throws at you.

Me: I bet you were a happy girl growing up. Am I right?

Lauren: I was an extremely happy girl growing up! I realize now that I have grown up that I was super lucky to have the family that I have.

Me: Lauren, I know you have tons of websites and stuff to plug. Go ahead and mention them all, and anything else you wanna.

Lauren: Alright, here are some of the links to organizations that I like:,,,

Me: You're in my prayers, Lauren, good luck and please come back in a few months to give us an update on how you are doing. Will you do that?

Lauren: I would love to give you an update a few months from now to see what I have been up to and how I have been doing! Thank you for interviewing me! Let's spread childhood cancer awareness and spread around positive energy (although the two don't go together very well!)

Me: I agree, Lauren. Take care, and stay strong. You are truly an inspiration!

There. That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and of course Lauren McCullough. Please go to her blog and grab a box of tissues. Okay, there's not gonna be an entry of the Phile next weekend as I'll be on vacation. So, the next entry will be on February 1st with the Howe Twins and then on the 2nd it's singer Carly Pearce and on the 3rd musician Jonathan Burks. That's the plan anyway. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pheaturing Aradia

Hello, and welcome to the Phile. How are you? It's so cold right now here in Central Florida, I wish I had a cup of warm tea. That's me complaining. How are you? Right now here in Central Florida it's 39°F just in case you're wondering.  A federal judge on Friday struck down as unconstitutional a North Carolina law that requires female state residents to both receive an ultrasound and then listen to somebody describe the image to her, preferably with one of those really sad Sarah McLaughlin songs playing in the background.  A Texas man was arrested and charged with "waving a homemade sign" for standing on the highway and holding a board reading "Police Ahead" to alert drivers of a speed trap a short distance up the road. The man claims that he was simply acting as a human sign post: "I'm the same thing as a speed limit sign, just reminding people that there is a limit here." You know, I always thought before a cop gives you a speeding ticket, they should at least have to listen to the song you had on.  A feminist website called Jezebel is feminist-ically offering a $10,000 reward for anybody who can produce un-Photoshopped images from actor-writer-director Lena Dunham's recent spread in Vogue so that they can show the world what she really looks like... despite the fact that she shows the world what she really looks like when she gets naked every week on "Girls"... thus improving life for women everywhere. Reactions are mixed. Wait a minute. I want to see this spread in Vogue. At least ons picture.

There we go. Moving on...  A 66 year old California woman lost more than $500,000 of her retirement money to a Nigerian scammer that she met through the Christian Mingle website. So, people are using religious institutions to steal money from people nowadays? When did this start happening?!  Hey, I didn't talk Oscars yet this weekend, did I? American Hustle and Nebraska are among the several dozen Oscar nominees for Best Picture of 2013. The exclusive list... which also includes 12 Years a Slave, Philomena and Captain Phillips was announced to much industry excitement. The Wolf of Wall Street and Gravity are among the other films that may take home the iconic golden statuette in March. Several movies were not nominated. Easiest way to make the 2014 Oscars sound interesting: "It's pirates versus astronauts versus sideboob!"  According to a recent study out of the University of Melbourne, magical bullshit like psychic powers and fortune telling hoohah are not real and likely the result of people's brains playing tricks on them. But you probably knew they were going to say that, didn't you? Subpoenas will likely be issued to many members of Chris Christie's staff for their roles in, and the knowledge they may have of, the politically motivated traffic nightmare that occurred on the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey back in September. Just imagine the size of the traffic jam they're gonna cause in retaliation for this.  Two Ohio pot dealers were arrested after calling the police to report that a gang of teenagers with whom they'd met to play-fight with swords in a Taco Bell parking lot... had assaulted them with pepper spray and run off with their stash. This is the life they chose to live.  J.C. Penney will be closing 33 of its department stores around the nation, which will probably only affect you if you're one of the 2,000 people losing their jobs or if you happen to need to buy a cheap turtle neck sweater. Actually, I like J.C. Penney... they sell some cool t-shirts there. There's one here in Clermont, I wonder if that's closing down.  Yesterday I mentioned that the Professor from "Gilligan's Island" passed away. His name was Russell Johnson... anyway, I didn't know they released an inspirational poster with the Professor on it.

Haha. Didn't Laird Jim make a comment about the Professor last Saturday on the Phile's 8th anniversary entry? I think Laird said "if the Professor on "Gilligan's Island" was so fucking smart, how come he couldn't fix a three foot hole in the boat on an island full of trees? Ha! Maybe Laid wrote the text on the inspirational poster.  So, there's a new band coming out that I am sure Gene Simmons has something to do with.

That's so dumb.  One of the things I like to do in my spare time is to go on Twitter and see what people are talking about on certain things. One of the words I look up is Foghat and this is a Tweet I saw recently...

Was that a real "Futurama" episode? I think Tim is lying. Alright, speaking of Foghat, the folks over at are running an Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame battle. This week it's Styx versus Foghat...

Let's see how Foghat is doing.

There doesn't seem much of a change. Anyway, today is the last day to vote and you have until 11:59pm ET to vote. So, go to and rock the vote! And now, from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Alex Rodriguez's Stats On His 2014 Baseball Card
5. Seasons of "Breaking Bad" binged-watched... 4.
4. Amount of money saved, not having to buy PEDs this year... $15,000.
3. Tosistos eaten, despite haven fallen on the floor... 19.
2. Pizza guys who have awkwardly accepted unwanted autograph... 9.
And the number one stat on A-Rod's 2014 baseball card is...
1. Prank calls made to Bud Selig... 48.

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, so, who cries a lot? I cry once in awhile... I'm a man, I admit it. Anyway, over the eight years on the Phile I hopefully made you laugh and I know sometimes I made you angry or mad, but I thought I never made you cry. So, people, I don't really want to make you cry, but I need to get some kind of emotion out of you. So, here's a new pheature I call...

When some kids left this note to track down the owner of a forgotten skateboard that they could’ve easily stolen.

Are you crying? Shit. I'm such a wuss. Haha. Okay, so, do you know what time it is? He's a patriot and renaissance man. Please welcome back to the Phile Laird Jim because it's...

Good morning humans... Laying in bed, letting my mind wander on this Sunday morn. Here's the random path my mind chose today. They say that God created the heavens and earth in six days and on the seventh day he rested. Well... I'm just picturing God doing bong hits on the couch in his sweats and Led Zeppelin t-shirt, playing XBox "Call Of Duty", surrounded by empty Dominos pizza boxes and cans of Dr. Pepper. And if you think THAT'S the only reason I'm going to hell, you obviously haven't been paying attention to the rest of my antics since my divorce four years ago. Enjoy your "day of rest", my twisted little meat puppets.

Today's pheatured guest is a talented singer whose two latest releases "Possibilities:Dark" and "Possibilities:Light" are now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Aradia.

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

Aradia: Hello, thanks for having me! I’m doing well... busy, but good.

Me: That's a pretty name, Aradia. What does it mean?

Aradia: Thank you! I honestly don’t know for sure, but it’s been referenced as the name of the Goddess Diana’s Daughter (from Roman mythology).

Me: I have to tell you, you are beautiful and gorgeous, you don't have to dress up and put all that make up on. I saw this picture of you to prove it.

Me: Do you like dressing up and trying different styles?

Aradia: Wow, well thank you! I dress up and put makeup on because it’s fun, and lets me be whoever I want to be that day or moment. I’ve always been into futuristic, sci-fi, and fantasy dress & makeup... it’s a way to become what we imagine and I often feel more at home in the fantasy world. I also believe that self-adornment is a very basic human practice, and should be done from a place of positivity and love for one’s self... to highlight beauty, not to artificially create it.

Me: Have you always been into dressing up?

Aradia: Pretty much! Since childhood I’ve been making my own clothing and costumes, buying odd pieces in thrift stores and sometimes altering them into new things, and dressing up for fun and for performances.

Me: Aradia, where are you from?

Aradia: I grew up in New York, mostly in Long Island and Brooklyn.

Me: I grew up on Long Island as well. Where do you live now, Aradia?

Aradia: I live in Seattle. I miss New York a lot, but Seattle’s a pretty special place.

Me: Have you always been a solo artist or did you spend time in different bands?

Aradia: When I was a teenager I was in a few bands, and then I was in a band called Twelfth Planet. I’ve been solo on and off for a while, but it’s become a permanent thing over the last couple of years. 

Me: Your music has been described as roktronika. If I had to guess I'd say that is a combination of rock and electronica music. Am I right?

Aradia: Yep! You’re exactly right.

Me: Did you come up with that yourself?

Aradia: I did. It’s shorter than the description!

Me: Who are your influences, Aradia? I hear a little of Bjork in your music, but very little.

Aradia: Good ear! I’m definitely influenced by Bjork, as well as others. My darker album "Possibilities:Dark" has more of that flavor. Other influences for me are Blondie, Goldfrapp, Annie Lennox and Cocteau Twins.

Me: Did you grow up listening to Madonna?

Aradia: Oh absolutely, and she’s a powerful influence for me, too.

Me: I interviewed a singer a few times here named Lila Rose. Do you know her? You two are pretty similar and would make some great music together. Anyway, I will tell you the same thing I told her once... years ago I could of interviewed Lady Gaga but somehow it slipped away. She got too big. Anyway, your music is a lot better than hers and I think you should be making Christmas specials with the Muppets and become bigger. Do you like Lady Gaga?

Aradia: Haha... that’s AWESOME. You must be psychic, because I’m an insane maniac Muppets fan. In fact, that’s one of my nicknames!! I really appreciate that compliment. I think Lady Gaga’s fascinating and her music is catchy, but I wouldn’t call myself a fan. I haven’t heard of Lila Rose, but I’ll be looking her up now!

Me: I asked Lila what she thought of Miley Cyrus and she said something like she was the trouble with music today. What do you think of Miley?

Aradia: Ah, the inevitable question. Miley’s fascinating, too. I’d love to have a conversation with her to hear what she really thinks and what she’s doing. I’ve read some really interesting quotes from her, like one where she mentions that the “industry” does things like bleep out when she said “molly” or the “f” word, but did nothing when she was on stage in her underwear acting like a sex maniac. It makes me curious, since this implies she’s aware of what she’s doing. Maybe she’s not exploiting herself, but the weaknesses of the masses.

Me: I agree. Okay, let's talk about your music. You have two EP's out... "Possibilities:Light" and "Possibilities:Dark". Which one came first?

Aradia: "Dark". I released that in December 2012.

Me: How would you compare them? Light and dark I'm guessing. Haha.

Aradia: Precisely. "Dark" is a collection of songs that reflect my more pensive moments and darker reflections on people, loneliness, and life in general. "Light" is really just that... it’s happy and while it’s still reflective it’s much more lighthearted and dancy.

Me: Were they recorded at the same time?

Aradia: Largely yes. I wrote & recorded "Trouble" & "Keep On" weeks before the "Light" release, but the others were recorded earlier.

Me: Are these your first releases, Aradia?

Aradia: They’re my first solo releases.

Me: I love the song "Today" and the video. Where was it filmed, Aradia?

Aradia: I’m so glad you like it! I filmed it at the school yard across the street from my house, as well as inside my house.

Me: You play two characters in it, am I right?

Aradia: That’s right, the me from the 80s and the sort of jaded me of the 21st century that needs to be reminded to have fun & be in “the now.”

Me: Aradia, you play a few instruments, am I right? Did you start playing young?

Aradia: Yes, I play piano, flute and guitar. I’m so pathetically rusty on piano though, it’s depressing. 

Me: What was the first instrument you learned to play?

Aradia: Piano was my first instrument. I started playing when I was 3, and flute when I was 8.

Me: Do you remember what the first song you ever wrote was?

Aradia: Haha, yes I actually do. It was the “Green Song.” I apparently have synesthesia, so colors always meant tunes to me.

Me: I have to ask you about this, you opened for Muse? When and where was this and was this the biggest show you have ever played?

Aradia: Yes, when I was with Twelfth Planet, we played a small “unplugged” show in Atlanta when Muse was playing. This wasn’t very publicized, so it wasn’t a very big show. My biggest show so far was the Chicago Auto Show in front of about 100,000 people. I almost died.

Me: I also have to ask you about the beautiful dog on the "Possibilities:Light" cover. Is that your husky?

Aradia: Yes! He’s actually a husky-wolf hybrid and he controls my household. Thanks for asking about him... he’s very special to me and in general.

Me: What is his name?

Aradia: His name is Khan as in, The Wrath of.

Me: Clever. He also has a brief cameo in the "Today" video as well I think, doesn't he?

Aradia: Yep! He was a little overwhelmed by all the people and action but he was determined to get on camera.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready?

Aradia: Ready as I’ll ever be!

Me: Good. Is it more essential to develop beliefs or gain knowledge?

Aradia: Gain knowledge, definitely. Beliefs can become convictions, which can prevent us from learning and growing. Knowledge generally leads to more curiosity which drives us to learn more. A beautiful “vicious cycle!”

Me: Nice answer. Thanks for being on the Phile. Go ahead and mention your website or anything else you want to. Continued success and please come back soon.

Aradia: I’m honored to be here, thanks so much for inviting me to talk with you! My website is Join me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter where I don’t tweet about myself all day! and listen to my tunes on Soundcloud Lastly, you can find my albums on iTunes, Amazon, and most other online channels. Thanks again!

Me: Anytime, Aradia.

There you go, another entry of the Phile done. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and Aradia. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Lauren McCullough who has an amazing story you can read on her blog at Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pheaturing Gary Conness

Hello, and welcome to the Phile for a Saturday, thanks for stopping by. I feel I don't thank you readers enough. So, thank you!  Let's start with a story about the President. Barack Obama yesterday said that he would be introducing a number of reforms to hinder the government's ability to electronically survey U.S. citizens... such as implementing a public advocate on the FISA court and not allowing the NSA to control metadata so you can all stop your complaining now and let those guys get back to combing through your Gmail. I like Obama, but let's face it, his Nobel Peace Prize is the equivalent of Crash winning the Best Picture Oscar.  A new Japanese study has revealed that babies sometimes cry without actually being upset in an effort to manipulate their parents into giving them what they want. The study did not reveal how many husbands have been using the same tactics.  Tired of seeing its markers for Mile 420 of I-70 stolen by marijuana enthusiasts, Colorado decided to replace them with special edition Mile 419.99 markers to apparently give collecting-obsessed nerds a chance to get involved. This is real, not a joke. Check it out.

A federal judge ended net neutrality by ruling that Internet service providers don't need to follow FCC non-discrimination rules, so your cable company will now be allowed to turn off the steady stream of Netflix, YouTube and other websites that keep you sane. Do you think they'll turn off the Phile?
Low-rent celebrities and sad people with nothing useful to do with their time are for some reason now fixating on a picture that actress Christina Ricci tweeted out months ago, and photographing themselves crammed into small-ish spaces. And thus #Riccing, the lamest Internet meme, was born. I have to show you the picture.

I was gonna try and do a Riccing but I'm too big. I have to find somewhere I can fit. But... if you take a Riccing picture email it to and I'll post it here on the Phile.  A group of old Korean people have staked their claim over a whole section of a McDonald's in Queens, New York, entering the store when it opens in the morning and not leaving until after dark, sometimes only sharing a single order of french fries. When ordered by the police to leave, they simply go around the corner and come right back in.  A new app called "Quit Your Job" will quit your job for you, so that the company you're working for won't even be sad to see you leave once they discover that you used an app to quit your job.  New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez accidentally... or perhaps on purpose for some reason handed Major League Baseball an exhaustive list of all the steroids he took over the years, while filing a lawsuit against the organization for having been suspended after getting caught taking an exhausting amount of steroids over the years.  According to a new study from Britain's Open University, married couples who do not have screaming naked maniacs running around their homes and trying to poop in the flower pot if you turn your head for one goddamned second were shown to be somewhat happier than their married friends who do.  So, you know there's a Miss Universe, Miss America and such, right? Well, there's a new one out now which I didn't know about.

So, a few week's ago at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World they held a parade for the University of Florida Knights who won the Fiesta Bowl, or something like that. Well, Mickey wasn't feeling it in the parade. Take a look.

Maybe he was feeling it. Haha.  Okay, I have to get something off my chest... Here's what we know so far: Justin Bieber is a prick. That was established long ago for lots of well-known reasons, but the latest one is that he's 20 years old and still pulling shit like egging his neighbor's house. What's almost as bad is that it appears he's not even smart enough to pull it off without being caught, because the Calabasas police raided Bieber's house. In the process, they arrested Justin's pal Lil Za for drug possession. And while you'd think that the police would have more important things to do (like pummeling Shia LaBeouf) than send eleven patrol cars to search the home of a suspected egg-thrower, the egg attack did cost an estimated 20 thousand dollars in damage making it a felony offense. That may sound like a lot to the non-gated community, but this is a gated community in Calabasas where kids probably ride bicycles worth twice that. Personally, I don't care if they wind up using helicopters, dogs and the world's best forensics team to put Bieber behind bars for one night. It's not like they're dealing with limited resources. They probably spend more on their annual Christmas party than most police departments do on salary. And even if egging a house isn't that big of a deal, Bieber has been thumbing his nose at the cops for months, so a serious run-in with authorities was bound to happen sooner or later. And better to have it happen over an egging incident than a few months from now after he's killed a dozen people while joy-riding his Bugatti around a roller skating rink. There. I said it. Alright, let's see who is pushing up daisies, shall we?

Dave Madden
Dec 17, 1931 - Jan 16, 2014
Played the manager of "The Partridge Family", then a diner patron on "Alice". We thought he was either a football guy or someone to do with women's shoes. Either way... somehow he's a celebrity. 

Russell Johnson
Nov 10, 1924 - Jan 16, 2014
And now we'll never know the answer to the question that only the Professor can answer. Ginger? Or Mary Ann?

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, before we move on I have to mention a few things. First of, on last Saturday's entry which was the 8th Anniversary entry I mentioned I saw Chris Pine who played Captain America at work. It was actually Chris Evan's I saw. I get those Chris's mixed up. Last week I mentioned that over at they are having an Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame and in the first week it's Styx versus Foghat.

Let's take a look and see who is winning.

Damn it! Styx is winning! You have until the poll closes tomorrow at 11:59 pm ET. So, go to and vote. A few minutes ago I mentioned Alex Rodriguez and I was wondering what a phriend of the Phile who is from New York thinks of him. He's a patriot and renaissance man... you know what time it is.

Just so I'm clear on this... A-Rod is filing suit against major league baseball and the players union because, and I quote, "I was treated unfairly and not protected under their structure." So... you knew P.E.D.'s were not legal for use... that you would be punished if caught... you took them anyway... lied about it when caught... suspended as laid out by due process... annnnnnnnd you feel you were done wrong? Ya know what? Fuck you, pal! You screwed up, end of story. Shut up... take your lumps... quit in a huff and take a job as a bouncer in Key West. In the words of the great Melvin Udall... "Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here."

It's 4:47 pm, 56°F and Kelly tweeted: "Didn't throw up once from pregnancy while walking my dogs #smallvictory #TMI #hashtag". That's great, Kelly, that's great.

Lucky fucking dog whatever his name is. Grrrr. Alright, it's time to talk football with my friend's Jeff and Lori.

Me: Jeff and Lori, welcome back to the Phile. First of, Jeff, thanks for being on the panel again for the 8th anniversary... It means a lot. Did you have fun?

Jeff: Of course It was my pleasure to be on the 8th anniversary of the Phile. I had a lot of fun asking you questions this time.

Me: Did you like the answers to my questions?

Jeff: Good answers to all the questions you got this time around.

Me: Lori, did you have a question for me?

Lori: Are you excited about coming to New Jersey for our wedding?

Me: Of course! It's gonna be a fun time. Okay, so, I know you, Lori, kicked my ass and beat you a bit, Jeff, how did we do last week?

Jeff: I went 2-0 in last week's games while you and Lori both went 0-2. Not that I have a chance to catch up, but that's fine. It just means we all have to do this again next year and see who the true champion will be. Lori is beating me by 11 points, which means I am officially eliminated from beating her. I am sorry to say you were eliminated too. A long time ago.

Me: In a galaxy far, far away. I sucked this year! So, there's two games this weekend so all three of us should just pick one game. I say the 49ers by 3. What do you say?

Lori: I'm picking Seattle by two points for the NFC championship game.

Jeff: I am going to go with the Denver by four points. 

Me: Okay, cool. Jeff, Laird just talked about A-Rod and I mentioned him in the monologue. I know you're a Red Sox fan so you gotta be laughing at this whole A-Rod deal. What do you think about it? 

Jeff: As far as the A Rod thing goes, there is a part of me that does want to laugh. But as I have always said, I am a fan of baseball first, not a fan of the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. Had to say it. And all these steroid allegations are a huge black eye on the sport, especially with a big name like A-Roid, I mean A-Rod. I would not like if he was on any other team. But like I said, there is a part of me that enjoys it thoroughly that a prominent New York Yankee is in the headlines for it. But it could just as easily been a Red Sox player. But it's not!

Me: Good point. Okay, there's not gonna be any entries next weekend as I'll be on vacation so I will see you in February. Good job, you guys.

Jeff: See you next month!

Today's pheatured guest is the author of "Employee Retention and the 21st Century Leader", the 30th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Gary Conness.

Me: Hey there, Gary, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Gary: Doing great. I've been very busy on several projects.

Me: Okay, I have to disclose this, you and I worked together years ago at Disney. When was that, Gary?

Gary: I started working at Epcot in July 1995. I remember you from day one. You helped me out a lot.

Me: I was looking for a photo of both of us together but I don't think I have one. You worked at Innoventions with me. What venues did you work at?

Gary: I was on what was called the Fly Team. Our job was to know all the exhibits, both the spiels and the information. So, I can say that I worked in every venue at Innoventions up to 1998.

Me: How long were you there, Gary?

Gary: I left there in 2000 and went over to the Norway Pavilion as the Coordinator of Training.

Me: Do you have any good stories about working with me you can share? Anything that stands out?

Gary: I especially liked listening to your Foghat stories.

Me: That's cool. You're originally from Wisconsin if I remember, am I right?

Gary: Close, I lived and got married to my lovely wife of 23 years there. I actually grew up in the East Bay Area of San Francisco area. I left there in in '87 after graduating.

Me: What made you move to Florida, Gary?

Gary: Too many vacations. Just in case you're not aware, Wisconsin full of great people and terrible weather. After vacationing in Florida a few times my wife and I decided to move to Florida.

Me: I remember you had like eight children. Haha. How many kids do you really have?

Gary: I have one beautiful daughter that is 21 years old. She's going to school to become a graphic designer.

Me: One daughter? I dunno why I thought you had a whole slew of kids. You left working with me and went to be a manager in foods, am I right? Working with food in restaurants is your background I think.

Gary: Yeah, I started with my mom when I was about eight with catering. Then I was a dish washer for a great corporation in high school. Food is in my blood.

Me: Me too, but for a different reason. I love to eat. Didn't you open your own restaurant? I should visit it. What is it called and where is it, Gary?

Gary: It WAS called Crescent's Coffee and Tea; named after my wife. It was very successful, but the hours took their toll on me. We were a coffee shop by day and an entertainment bar by night. Four bands actually got their start at Crescent's and many others played there.

Me: Man, I guess I waited too late. Will you open up another restaurant?

Gary: Not my own, but I'd run someone else's restaurant in an instant.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your book "Employee Retention and the 21st Century Leader" which is in the Phile's Book Club so you are sure to sell a few more copies. Haha. Anyway, what is a 21st century leader?

Gary: It's a new philosophy in leadership. Instead of bossing others around or looking for the worst in others and trying to fix those problems, you look for people's best points and use them to your advantage. I have weaknesses too and the last thing I want is my leader to harp on those. Instead I want him or her to see what I do great, give me a little praise, and utilize my strengths. I've raised the moral in many restaurants using this technique.

Me: What made you decide to write a book, Gary?

Gary: I know there are lots of leaders out there that have one of two problems; high turn over or they just don't know haw to motivate their staff. This book gives you the details on how to fix both problems at the same time.

Me: Was it a hard book to write and put together?

Gary: It was time consuming to start, but once I got the basic outline created I actually finished it in a couple of weeks.

Me: So, what kinda helpful hints are in the book?

Gary: The main idea of the book is to remember that we all are equals as humans, but we just have different jobs within our companies. If you can remember this, the Zagat ratings will start flowing your way in no time at all. I've worked at four myself.

Me: Who is the book aimed for?

Gary: Those who really want to stop being a manager and change into a leader. You see a manager gives out rules, but a leader people follow. Alexander the Great is one example. His men would die for him because he truly believed in his men.

Me: I have to mention the book cover... it is you and a bunch of Norweigans. Smart move. Do they know they are on a book cover?

Gary: I personally contacted all of them and asked for permission. My Norwegians mean a lot to me. This cover photo was taken on my last day working there at restaurant. I cried a lot that day, but also had a very special day full of memories that I will never forget.

Me: Did you send them all a copy? If they had a Kendal they all received a free copy.

Me: That was when you managed the restaurant at Epcot... I can't think of the name of it. I worked at Epcot for 23 years and I can't think of that restaurants name. Anyway, what made you choose that picture?

Gary: Restaurant Akershus.

Me: Yeah, that's it! Thanks.

Gary: It has so many great many great memories. As I mentioned before, this particular picture means so much to me.

Me: Did you have to get permission from Disney at all?

Gary: Not directly, but I did talk to all those mentioned in the book. This is not meant for just Disney leaders but for leaders everywhere. I've worked for for several chains in my lifetime.

Me: You are not at Epcot anymore, Gary, right? What made you leave?

Gary: I was sent to Cosmic Rays over at Magic Kingdom. At time my grandmother started living with us so I needed to spend more time with her, so I needed to quit. Now she lives near my mom in Wisconsin and is doing great.

Me: That's good. So, apart from writing a book, what else have you been up to? Where are you working now?

Gary: I started an internet brokerage company that is doing well. Also, I again work for Disney over at monorails which I love.

Me: Do you think you'll write another book, Gary?

Gary: I'm actually working on three books right now, but can't tell the details right now. The first one should be out in January and has nothing to do with leadership.

Me: What does your wife think of the book?

Gary: She likes it. She especially likes that writing keeps me busy.

Me: I just found out something else about you I didn't know about, you play bass and sing. How come we didn't talk about this before?

Gary: Not sure why not. I've never been in a band, but I have played with many bands. I especially just like to sit and jam for hours on end.

Me: What kinda music do you do, Gary?

Gary: My favorite is classic rock, but I can play most anything but good jazz.

Me: Were you in a band?

Gary: No.

Me: Did you release any music?

Gary: I've been in the background on YouTube a lot if that counts.

Me: Not really, but I did find this picture of you jamming...

Me: Gary, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Tell the readers where they can purchase the book.

Gary: Right now they can only purchase it for Kindles, but soon it will be available for all tablets on Just type in Gary Conness.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? What's the one thing you've done that you'd like to erase?

Gary: None really, life has treated me well. I've done well and I've lived in poverty and still had a bright outlook on life.

Me: You're a better person than I am then. Gary, thanks again. I hope this was fun. Go ahead and plug anything you want to, and take care. All the best.

Gary: Thanks again for the interview. Please look in January and later this years for my other books, they are all different styles. Viva la Phile.

Me: Viva la Phile. "Employee Retention and the 21st Century Leader" by Gary Conness is available right now.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim, Jeff Trelewicz, Lori Sedlacek, and of course Gary Conness. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Aradia and then on Monday Lauren McCullough who has an amazing blog called The Not Dying Girl. Check it out at Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Strawberry Blondes Forever!