Friday, August 29, 2014

Pheaturing Lonnie Burr

Hey there, welcome back to the Phile. Labor Day, people, is just around the corner.  This Labor Day, try not to think about how your next holiday isn't until Thanksgiving.  Nine years into their much-paparazzied and gossip-magazined relationship, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were officially wed last week at their wine castle estate in the French countryside. I'm assuming that they did it so that one of them could get one the other's health insurance. That's what put most of my friends over the edge. 
Thank goodness they finally tied the knot and their billionaire adoptees no longer have to live in shame.  It was revealed recently that the iconic Hello Kitty cartoon figure is not who, or what, we thought she was. "Hello Kitty is not a cat," a curator of an upcoming retrospective exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles explained. "She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature." So, I suppose that means she's either some kind of a weird cat-like monster or a regular little human girl with a terrible facial disfiguration. Choose whichever one you think is less horrifying.  In an obvious attempt to shut people up and get them to stop asking whether or not Tony Soprano died at the end of the series finale seven years ago, an exasperated "Sopranos"-creator David Chase gave an answer of sorts an interviewer from Vox, who asked if Tony was dead: "He shook his head 'no.' And he said simply, 'No he isn't.' That was all." Now, can we all please move on with our lives? Can't believe David Chase finally revealed Tony Soprano isn't a cat.  Residents of the St. John the Baptist Parish of Louisiana have been warned that their water supply has tested positive for Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba that can cause "devastating infection" that usually results in death or the election of Rep. Bill Cassidy to office.  The United States Copyright Office has just overhauled copyright law so that photographs taken by monkeys and other animals, which apparently is a thing worthy of consideration, cannot be copyrighted. "The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants," according to the government office. "Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office may register a work where the application or the deposit copy state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit." So, any tasteful nudes taken by spooky ghosts are fair game. You know, if you put one monkey at one typewriter for one hour, it will write a Bud Light commercial... or this blog.  Florida Man sure has had his share of adventures, but he's about to enter into the most exciting adventure of all: true love. This week, a federal judge declared the Sunshine State's ban on same sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Florida's gay marriage ban has been ruled unconstitutional. Hanging Chads will finally be able to wed Daytona Dans.  So, I mentioned that Hello Kitty is not a cat, right? Well, I don't know if Lonnie Burr knows this or not, but did you know that Mickey originally wasn't a mouse? Check out this rare Walt Disney drawing of what Mickey originally looked like.

Haha. That is so stupid.  Keeping with the Disney theme, Disney and Pixar are making their own Avengers movie. Don't believe me? Take a look...

It might be good.  Hey, do you guys drink Sprite? I don't, it gives me a headache. Anyway, Sprite has a new ad which I thought was weird... and to me does not make sense.

Skittles taste like Sprite? Hey, did you know what the original name of Sprite was? Spit. No one would buy a drink could Spit though.  As you know, one thing I do when I'm bored is to go on Twitter and look up certain words. One of those words I look up is Foghat, and here is a Tweet I recently found.

Arcade Fire is a pretty good band. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is this weeks...

Top Phive Reasons Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Would Divorce
5. Affair with Clooney 9though unclear who was having the affair).
4. Brad wanted more kids, Angelina wanted to cap it at 20.
3. While couch-shopping at IKEA, argument over whether to go with the Knopparp or Ektorp finally pushes them over the edge. 
2. Brad never, ever putting the bloody toilet seat down. 
And the number one reason Brad and Angelina would divorce is...
1. Every time he's mention his Oscar, she's always quickly point out that it was for "producing"

You want the bad news first? I think getting it out of the way is the preferred course of action. Then we can all focus on making the best of a glass that’s half-full.  Sylvester Stallone’s career-rejuvenating franchise chugs along, adding fresh young faces to the gang in the form of Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey and boxer Victor Ortiz. Their cartoon mission is to hunt down former Expendable Mel Gibson, now a black market arms dealer. The kids, though, they’re green and easily subdued by bad people, so they’re going to need help from the olds. You get the rest. This time around the on-again-off-again relationship the first two R-rated movies had with violence has been moved squarely into the PG-13 friend-zone. Plenty of guns are brandished and plenty of anonymous victims are mowed down by the prop department's big, bad arsenal. But point-of-contact brutality and bloodshed are dialed way, way down. You can see crazier gut-spilling on most TV cop shows.  The bigger problem remains its creator. Stallone, in attempting to capture a bit of 80s lightning and sell it to people born during that decade, has relied on his own calcified understanding of how action audiences respond to the genre. For better or worse, we live in a cinematic moment of increased self-awareness, and the film's attempt at straddling old and new turns weird and off-putting. The jokes (thankfully fewer than last time) are still stale, the beats are still awkward, the boilerplate machismo still suffers from a sort of conceptual erectile dysfunction. It's all been satirized elsewhere for so long now that simply pretending otherwise makes you wonder if the writers have been asleep for twenty years. And the inclusion of Rousey, at first providing the film with a chance to mock the idea of women fighting in high heels (and it does, sort of), becomes an opportunity for the film to then go gender-dumb and strip the warrior woman of the same protective battle gear that, say, Jason Statham is wearing, putting her in something to better show off her cleavage. Seriously.  The gloom, then, is an identity crisis, one that won’t sink the series, but may water it down to the point of even lesser relevance than the already barely-important cultural niche it occupies. To provide its veteran stars with fresh job opportunities is enough for them, sure, but thoughtful action fans who refuse to kid themselves know that any single vintage film from any one of these screen personalities is most likely going to be more fun than the combined (and too frequently underused) efforts of the assembled cast. Now the good news. What Expendables 3 lacks in mayhem or fresh understanding of the world in which it lives, it compensates for with the most competently directed action sequences of the series. The stunts are impressive, the explosions are big, the flying bodies outlandishly lucky when they land on this or that impossible target. It's not impossible to tell who is fighting whom and where they are in relation to other people in the same battle sequence.  And while the new cast members struggle to find individual voices, while Terry Crews and Jet Li remain mostly sidelined, and the husk of Schwarzenegger lives in a perpertual state of checked-out boredom, appearing a couple times to walk from point A to point B with a cigar permanently stuck in his face, a few of the old-timers are having real fun. Statham remains in command of his brand; Antonio Banderas zips around the screen fake parkouring and talking a mile a minute like a live-action Puss In Boots; Gibson clearly enjoys his new direction playing characters who are tormented (Edge of Darkness), crazy (The Beaver), and now evil; and best of all, Wesley Snipes is loose and relaxed, crazy eyes flashing every time he steals a scene. Having him back is almost worth putting up with the rest.

This is a really hard one, kids. If you spot the Mindphuck email me at I'll be surprised if anyone gets it. Well, last week there was a really bad earthquake in California, and a friend of the Phile wanted to say something about it. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is.

Random thought of the day... We can figure out a way to have drones deliver champagne to us at a swanky party, we can develop a missile that can hit a mosquito on a yak's ass from a thousand miles away... but we can't come up with a functional early earthquake warning system that gives more than a 10 seconds in advance warning ? Sad news is... my freaky little darlings? We CAN... we DID... we HAVE it. But the state of California can't foot the 80 million dollar tab for it's purchase and startup. Same state where Hollywood can churn out a 495 million dollar box office smash about a fucking RACCOON that saves the galaxy. 

Hey, I love that raccoon. But, you do have a point, Laird. 

Today's pheatured guest is not only one of the original Mousekeeters on the "Mickey Mouse Club", but is the author of "The Accidental Mousekeeter", the 33rd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Lonnie Burr!

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

Lonnie: Not well. Injured my back, pain for a few days, recovering and almost back to normal so that I may go back to exercise schedule: 1) two aerobic three mile hikes a week and 2) one advanced ballet and jazz dance, head to toes, exercises with a little weight work, push ups and two sets of crunches (110). 

Me: Well, I am sorry to hear you're in pain. I have to say congrats! You just recently received the Disneyana Legends Award, am I right? It was last month?

Lonnie: Yes. On the 18th. 

Me: That must of been a big honor for you, Lonnie. Do you do a lot of events for Disney, and conventions and stuff? 

Lonnie: Not really. I do some events but it is not common for me but with my new memoir out, the 2014 update from 2009 and retitled as "The Accidental Mouseketeer" that might change. 

Me: Better than the Disneyana Legends Award, your new book "The Accicental Mousekeeter" is the latest book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. When did you decide to write a autobiography, Lonnie? 

Lonnie: Although it is a memoir, many call it what Annie wrote in 1994 and Bobby more recently, although his is only 140 pages, an autobiography. I began writing it in 2007, put it away for a while, and finished it in 2008. 

Me: You're very honest in the book, was there anything you put in the book you regret or is there anything you wished you put in the book but didn't? 

Lonnie: I would not change what I wrote but two or three Mouseketeers have objected because telling the truth is what people say they want but it is not WHAT they want. I first realized this by their action at the Disneyana celebration but I managed to retain my dignity and rise above their childishness. People in their late 60s and early 70s should have learned how to act prior to becoming that "mature". There are MANY things I could have included which I did not that would embarrass other Mice but I decided they were private. 

Me: How long did it take you to write, Lonnie? 

Lonnie: Altogether about ten months. 

Me: How many original Mousekeeters were there altogether, Lonnie? About 30, right? 

Lonnie: Thirty-nine precisely. 

Me: Do you still keep in touch with any of them? 

Lonnie: I did with the late Don Grady from the third season and Tommy and I were close friends for a long period but I had to exit from that relationship to keep from being injured further. 

Me: What did they think of the book? 

Lonnie: Not one of them has had the decency to tell me they liked it or hated it EXCEPT for Don, near the end of his fight with cancer. He did not finish more than the first chapter but he was quite impressed.

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

Lonnie: Born in Kentucky, left for California at three, grew up there, started in showbiz at five, high school graduate at fourteen, AB & MA before twenty. Later, two semesters to PhD, different major; first degrees in theatre arts, PhD in English Literature. Later, in my late 30s two semesters of my favorite subject Philosophy. 

Me: Did your family move to California because of the "Mickey Mouse Club"? 

Lonnie: No. Moved so I could get into showbiz, my mom's hope, in 1946, first professional job... doing radio drama and local TV dancing with female partner without pay at 5 in 1948. 

Me: Your parents were entertainers as well, so it must of been in your blood to be an entertainer. My dad was an entertainer but I never became an entertainer myself, unless you count this stupid little blog. 

Lonnie: Parents were dance team Dot and Dash in night clubs and vaudeville. 

Me: How old were you when you realized you wanted ti perform? 

Lonnie: I performed stuff around the house before I left Kentucky at three. 

Me: Okay, let's get into this, as I was so surprised and happy for you when I found out... You dated Annette Funicello in your time on the Club. I have a picture of you two here...

Me: How did that start out? 

Lonnie: We fell in love, not just "dated", and pretty early on. She writes about it in her 1994 autobiography and I do in my memoir. Given the '50s, we lasted a long time: April, 1955 to January 1956 after the Mickey Mouse Club Circus at Disneyland. I turned 12 in May, she turned 13 in October... a slightly older young lady. 

Me: Was there a lot of inter-dating on the Club? 

Lonnie: Some inter-dating but nothing that lasted more than a few weeks. 

Me: Did Walt Disney and the executives approve? I'm guessing they did. 

Lonnie: I have no way of knowing because it was never mentioned. IT WAS NOT a publicity event so it did not concern them, which I preferred. 

Me: I wish I could interview Annette, Lonnie. How did you find out she passed? 

Lonnie: I kept in touch with Annie and Glen and I was contacted. My mom had MS, too, but not the horrid form of the disease that Annie had and only hits about 15% of the disease's victims. 

Me: Did you get to keep in contact with her for many years? 

Lonnie: Yes. 

Me: What did you think of those beach movies she made?

Lonnie: Glad for her but not my style. 

Me: Is it fair to say she's the most popular Mousekeeter? 

Lonnie: Unequivocally. She was the only star that came away from 39 kids. The great thing is she did not change and become a diva. 

Me: Before the "MMC", you did a lot of TV work already, and some radio work and had a career. How did you learn about the "MMC" and what was your audition like? 

Lonnie: Reading the book best answers this: I was a veteran of film, TV, radio, theatre, commercials and live performance BEFORE the "MMC". After finishing my last year of high school, my early degrees and some time to think, I came back into performing with a life minor in writing. 

Me: You didn't want to do the show at first, am I right? Why not and what made you change your mind? 

Lonnie: I didn't want to do the show at first because I was up against Johnny Washbrook for the lead in "My Friend Flicka", a TV western about a boy, his parents and his horse. The "MMC" was 23 other kids plus me and who knew what Mouseketeers were or what they would do. I had already owned my own horse and won ribbons in gymkhana; I rode a horse while being chased on "The Range Rider". 

Me: Gymkhana? I don't know what that is. Is that like gymnastics?

Lonnie: No ribbons in gymnastics, never applied myself. It is about my owning a horse and competing at nine and winning ribbons in a gymkhana with my second horse, Blue Boy, which is more skill than scary like a rodeo.

Me: Ahhh. I see. The "MMC" as supposed to last about seven years and lasted three years, Lonnie. How were you told the show was ending and how did you take it? 

Lonnie: Contract was seven years, shows run as long as they run. We were all told at the same time. Frankly, I was glad. I did not want to do the third, last year for many reasons. I would be going to college in a year and the show was for "kids"; I was never given the chance to read for any acting roles and I was the ONLY Mouse who was an actor. I had originally read for Marty on "Spin and Marty" and did not get the role. We made SAG minimum, they made about twice that amount. 

Me: I am guessing their were a lot of tears on set. 

Lonnie: Many of the girls cried. 

Me: Were you surprised when it came to an end? 

Lonnie: No. I knew enough about show business and life that things end. It may not be happy but you have to learn to live with it. 

Me: You were and I am sure still are very talented with singing, acting and dancing. Which came first, Lonnie, and which do you prefer? 

Lonnie: I prefer acting slightly, but I danced and sang first to player pianos and the radio. 

Me: Your cast mates gave you a nickname... The Velvet Smog. Who first came up with that nickname and did you like it? It's a compliment, right? 

Lonnie: One of the rare white, jazz singers, Mel Torme, was called the Velvet Fog for the breathy quality of the sound. I had not lost all my "baby fat' the first season so I resembled a very young Mel, too. Yes, it is a compliment. I have an autograph from Mel that reads: "From the Velvet Fog to the Velvet Smog - Mel Torme". 

Me: Is there a favorite skit or routine you have done on the show? 

Lonnie: There is a year two dance where Larry, our eldest, 2nd season only, Bobby and I do a jazz dance dressed in Navy whites that is very cool for our ages. We even do knee turns! 

Me: You kids got to go to Disneyland in the very beginning. When was the first time you went to and what did you think of it when you went? 

Lonnie: We were there opening day and it was overwhelming over and above our doing a parade down Main Street then a number and full roll call from the MMC Theatre in Fantasyland. There had never been anything like it in the world. 

Me: Lonnie, I have worked for Disney for 26 years, working at Disney World. It's a great company to work for, isn't it? 

Lonnie: It can be there are variances. It depends on what you do and what boss you have. 

Me: True. When was the first time you went to Disney World? 

Lonnie: I really don't remember but I believe it was to do a talk show. 

Me: So, what do you like better, Disneyland or Disney World? 

Lonnie: I prefer Disneyland because there WAS a feeling of small town, intimacy. WDW was always huge. Now as of this last visit in July Disneyland has become a lot like a smaller WDW. 

Me: Okay, back to "MMC"... you were par of the Red Team, roll-call and Alma Mater. I am not sure exactly what that means. 

Lonnie: We sand a song at the beginning of the five days and we sang goodbye; the Alma Mater was goodbye. If you listen it is the same melody, slowed down to a ballad with different words. 

Me: Can you explain it? 

Lonnie: Meredith Wilson did the same thing in The Music Man

Me: Was it during the third season you were injured on set? 

Lonnie: In the rehearsal hall. Fell from a hand stand and took a lot of skin off by cheek. 

Me: In the three years the show was on air are you the only one that was injured? 

Lonnie: No, but they were all minor injuries. Mine just kept me out of roll call and Alma Mater for that year because they could not cover my injury and realized I would have the same look every repeats of the opening and closings while I healed and it was gone within a few weeks. 

Me: I was looking at pictures for research for this interview and there was this picture of you pushing a woman into a pool. I'll show it here...

Me: First of, who was this woman, and where was this? 

Lonnie: It is a Mouseketeer, not working pool party and the girl I LOOK LIKE I AM PUSHING into the pool is Doreen, 1 of the 2 girls I dated later in my teens; the other was the late Cheryl. 

Me: So, you didn't really push her in? 

Lonnie: No. Just a photo op. 

Me: Was there a lot of horse playing and pranking on the "MMC" set? 

Lonnie: Some but not while shooting. 

Me: Lonnie, you got to meet Walt Disney, which not many people can say they have. Well, a lot of people can say they have, but no one I interviewed. I did meet Roy Disney Jr. myself once. Anyway, when you met him what was the first thought that went through your head? 

Lonnie: You have got to read my book. On my site, which you have not gone to either, there is a picture on the first page with me and the late Roy Disney Jr. Walt was on the lot when he remembered my name... you have to buy the book to find out he remembered my name. 

Me: I did go through your website. Here's the picture of you and Roy Jr.

Me: Did you see the movie Saving Mr. Banks? How do you think Tom Hanks did playing Walt? 

Lonnie: He has done better work but the movie did not have much dramatic tension. 

Me: After "MMC" ended you continued acting, which I am sure you ere glad to. You got to work with Elvis. Was he cool, Lonnie? 

Lonnie: I did not work professionally until after my MA degree. Elvis was cool, very unaffected by his fame, or at least acted that way when we talked off camera. 

Me: What movie did you work on with him? 

Lonnie: Live a Little, Love a Little... 1968, which sometimes goes by a different title.

Me: You acted on shows like "The Beverly Hillbillies", "Hill Street Blues", "Murder, She Wrote." A lot of cop shows. Do you like acting on shows like that? 

Lonnie: Not especially, it just depends on the role. "Homocide - Life on the Streets" is more recent. 

Me: You also have a few degrees... You must really like learning. 

Lonnie: I do but only subjects I am interested in and that are well taught. 

Me: In the 70s and 90s the "MMC" was revived. Did you get to see any of those shows? I'm guessing you didn't, but of you did what did you think? 

Lonnie: Pleased that other kids could find something wholesome to watch rather than insulting rap lyrics, cable TV XX-films and so on. First the sixties, seventies, eighties for Disney Channel, 1997 - 2002 in the U.S. Other dates in about 30 countries, some beginning in '80s & '90s Russia & Warsaw countries. 

Me: Disney should release the old original shows again on Blu-ray or show them on TV. I doubt they will though. Do you have copies on tape of he show? Do you ever go back and watch them? 

Lonnie: They made tapes and then reissued DVDs of SOME of the shows, so I have those but many of them are not on those 10 discs. It is interesting and bizarre to see yourself that young with a very high voice but interesting. It is not something I do often at all. 

Me: I mentioned your book, but this is your second book, right? When did your first book come out? 

Lonnie: You mean the memoir, "Confessions of an Accidental Mouseketeer" just after Cheryl's death in Feb. 2009. This update, "The Accidental Mouseketeer " was my original title but threw in Confessions and got the chance to drop it was issued Feb. 2014. 

Me: I was thinking of your book about comedy...

Lonnie: If you mean "Two For the Show: Great Comedy Teams", it is about comedy teams... first in hard back, updated in paper 2000, and to be updated again by Theme Park Press, my publisher, later this year as "Great Comedy Teams: 1898-2014". 

Me: Yeah, that's it. Who is your all time favorite comedian? 

Lonnie: There is no way I can my favorite play, or film or comedian etcetera. George Carlin was the most recent comedian in the Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Shelley Berman area but Mel Brooks and Woody Allen are both amazing and hilarious. Of the teams: Laurel & Hardy. 

Me: You got to meet some cool people over the years... Robin Williams, Elvis, Steven Speilberg, Jimmy Stewart, Roy Rogers, Abbott and Costello... is there anybody who you met that you were really star struck? 

Lonnie: When you work with stars from the age of 6 it is hard to get star struck but the only thing that came to mind was one of my great heroes Cary Grant, along with Fred Astaire. Cary came to Cheryl's wedding to Lance Reventlow in the '60s and then when I was doing the L.A. company of "42nd Street" he came backstage to talk to us after bows. He always looked and dressed swell. 

Me: Is there anybody you met and worked with that you thought was disappointing and an asshole? 

Lonnie: Yes. 

Me: And is there anybody you haven't met that you would love to, Lonnie? 

Lonnie: No one comes to mind because meeting an actor or a dancer/choreographer or singer or author is an uncomfortable situation for both people and I have found often enough that someone's WORK may be fantastic but they may be amazingly unpleasant. Why spoil the magic? 

Me: Not only do you write a book but you also write poems and plays. What do you prefer to write the most, Lonnie? 

Lonnie: Poetry, plays, books, newspaper/mag/online theatre/film reviews, humor and anything else that makes money, although poetry does not make money even if you are John Donne or Shakespeare. 

Me: Oh, one thing I really wanted to ask you was the movie the "MMC" cast were supposed to make Rainbow to Oz. Why do you think that movie never happened? 

Lonnie: Not a clue. 

Me: Who were you gonna play in it, do you remember? 

Lonnie: I have heard different accounts. I danced with Darlene, who was to do Judy's role, in the show we did about getting Walt to make the movie for the fourth anniversary year of Disneyland which premiered in 1954, a plus year before us. 

Me: Lonnie, I have a million more questions to ask you, but I know you are very busy. I have to ask you this though, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Here we go... what does your perfect day look like? 

Lonnie: Yes, this is a bit like being interviewed by Tolstoy, known for the length of his works. If I had to conceive of what a perfect day looked like it would not be a perfect day. 

Me: Haha. Lonnie, thanks again for being here. Will you come back again one day for another interview? Maybe when your next book comes out? 

Lonnie: Maybe. Start thinking "Catcher in the Rye" length versus "Anna Karenina" and we will see. 

Me: Go ahead and mention where a Phile reader can get your books. 

Lonnie: My website offers a comparable price AND THE ONLY PLACE TO GET AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY. I do not have a Kindle, though, so go to Amazon. Try Theme Park Press for they have both, too. 

Me: And one last question, Lonnie, if you could go back in time to meet yourself right before you got the part in the "MMC", would you say do it, or don't do it? 

Lonnie: Do it... because it has become something fantastic to millions of kids and no one thought it was going to be a big deal. However, if I had done the horse drama instead of Johnny, maybe it would have lasted and led me to other roles that I have not achieved. Still do it! Take care. I squeek, therefore I am!

Me: Thanks, Lonnie, you were great. Tell the readers where they can purchase the book.

Me: Good job. See ya real soon.

That about does it for another entry of the Phile. I do have to agree with Lonnie, that was a long interview. Haha. Anyway, thanks to Laird Jim and Lonnie Burr. The Phile will be back next Thursday with singer Sonali and then next Friday Phile Alum Mike Gent. 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.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pheaturing Phile Alum Lee Negin

Hi there, welcome to the Peverett Phile Challenge. Haha. The Phile Challenge is to see if you can sit and red this thing in one sitting.  Let's start with some news about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. You may think that you're doing good for the world by dumping a bucket of ice water on your head and uploading a video of it to YouTube. However, the Cincinnati Archdiocese has pointed out that if your trendy viral video inspires people to donate money to the ALS Association, then they are unwittingly supporting research via stem cells. And, as the life of a poor, innocent stem cell is roughly equivalent to that of a person with Lou Gehrig's Disease, this may cause a moral conundrum. Speaking of the IBC, as the kids are calling it, did you see there's now an Ice Bucket Challenge Halloween Costume, presumably to raise awareness about ruthless capitalism? It's real, look.

You need to jump on this fantastic opportunity to buy an Ice Bucket Challenge costume for Halloween. Not to mention all the many Halloweens to come. You'll be getting a lot of use out of this purchase. I guarantee it. Just think about what you're getting for your $39.99. You're getting a plastic bucket. That's gotta be worth $27 dollars right there. And then there's the body-length mesh fabric cascade. I defy you to go to the hobby shop and come back with that much mesh fabric for less than $34 dollars. And that's not even considering the fake ice cubes. Can we even put a price on those fake ice cubes? I can't. And ten of the dollars you're spending is going toward whatever charity this Ice Bucket thing is supporting. Look, just take my advice and go buy this costume now! Just think about how popular this Internet trend will be by the time Halloween rolls around! If we've got movie stars and former presidents participating in it now, just think how huge this will be in two months! We'll probably have Bigfoots and space aliens dumping water on their heads. It's gonna be so L33T!  Did ou guys see The Emmys the other night? I didn't. But apparently several shows that were not AMC's "Breaking Bad"... including "Game of Thones", "Sherlock" and "True Detective" were able to collect a small number of awards at this years Emmys ceremony. "Breaking Bad" just won enough Emmys to qualify for a presidential bid.  Officials at NASA are denying that an object photographed by the Mars Rover is, in fact, the thigh bone of some sort of possibly intelligent, potentially malicious Martian creature. What appears to be definitive proof of a race of alien beings that may one day invade our planet and enslave the human race is actually just a rock, they would have us believe. The truth is out there, people! Did you see the picture of this thing?

Stupid scientists. If you want to find an alien thigh bone you check Ebay & Craigslist, not Mars. According to the findings of a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, three-fourths of all white people have zero black friends. And, while an average white person with 100 friends in total typically has just one black friend, a black person with 100 friends has eight white friends. "I have a lot of black friends!" said the white guy with one black friend.  According to a new study, couples in which one or both parties regularly smoke pot together report fewer incidences of domestic violence. Though this is likely attributable to the mellowing effects of marijuana, it could also be that they were too lazy to pick up the phone. If marijuana made you violent and aggressive then the murder rate in California would be holding steady at 10,000%.  So, most kids in America are starting to go back to school... kids in Florida are all back to school. There's some great Back to School Sales going on if you didn't know. Check it out.

Free? Why are those kids so bloody spoiled?  I mentioned the Ice Bucket Challenge... well, everyone is doing to, even Superman. Here's a screen shot of his YouTube video.

Some of you might know by now that when I'm bored I look up certain words on Twitter to see what people are talking about. One of those words I look up is Foghat. I found this Tweet recently...

I have know idea what Juicy J is. I'll look that up later.  I have to mention this, last Friday I interviewed a gentlemen named Michael Mantlo, who is the brother of Bill Mantlo who co-created Rocket Raccoon. We spent the whole interview talking about Guardians of the Galaxy, which is number one on the box office again, and Bill's career. We didn't talk about Michael's life at all. Well, Michael commented afterwards he is is a big Graham Parker fan like myself, and liked how I put a quote of a GP song at the end of each entry. It turns out that Michael helped produce the Don't Ask Me Questions GP documentary film. Here's a picture of Michael, Graham and Michael's wife Liz at the screening.

Damn it, man, I am jealous. And now for some sad news...

Richard Attenborough 
August 29th, 1923 — August 24th, 2014
Great funeral. Spared no expense.

This is a hard one. If you can spot the Mindphuck email me at Last week on the Phile our good friend Laird Jim talked about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and some people didn't like what he had to say. So, I invited him back for a rebuttal. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man... you know what time it is.

I give up... I mean it... I really give up. Earlier in the week I railed against the Ice Water Challenge. It would seem that it raised nearly 70 million vs. LAST year's 4 million for ALS research. I will say AGAIN that I was not speaking ill of those who do it because they're trying to help. I smacked those who don't care, don't even KNOW that ALS is Lou Gehrig's Disease. The ones who just wanted a new selfie and nothing more. I also feel that dumping a bucket of fresh, drinkable, ice water on the ground when there are parts of the world where people would kill one another for that same bucket of ice water is just STUPID. But hey... guess I'm an idiot. I feel very bad for the nine year old girl who accidently shot and killed the man who was teaching her how to shoot an Uzi machine gun in New Jersey. First reason is because she'll have to live with that for the rest of her life... Secondly, because she'll also have to live with the fact that... HER PARENTS ARE FUCKING MORONS FOR TAKING HER TO A PLACE CALLED BURGERS & BULLETS! What the fuck ? Is this place Chuck E. Cheese for the NRA crowd?

New Jersey? I thought it was Nevada... never mind, Laird, you do have a point. Oh, I found out who Juicy J is... he's a rapper. Okay, the 33rd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Lonnie Burr will be a guest on the Phile tomorrow. That's pretty cool, right?

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum whose new album “The Cheeze Chronicles: Volume V” is now available on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... Lee Negin.

Me: Lee! Welcome back to the Phile. It's been awhile, I don't remember the last time you were here, do you?

Lee: Thank you for having me back. The last time I was here is now! Actually, it’s somewhat of a blur.

Me: How have you been?

Lee: Trying to surf the ceaseless waves… at times getting pulled under, and at times able to ‘hang ten’ and enjoy the ride. I hope you’ve been well, old friend.

Me: I am. Are you still living in Seoul? How long have you been living there now?

Lee: Yes, I’ve been in South Korea for eight years now, seven of them in Seoul.

Me: You are a professor at a University, right? Remind us what you teach.

Lee: Yes, I am. I teach nothing of consequence.

Me: Okay... Don't you miss America?

Lee: Yes, I am Miss America! I didn’t fare well in the swimsuit competition (my bikini wax missed a few stray clumps), but my patriotic baton-twirling routine in the talent show, with live AK-47s while rapping about our God-given right to bare arms was a real crowd pleaser! I received a sitting ovation (standing ovations have been banned due to the health hazards of so many ‘weight-challenged’ people straining themselves and cellulite tsunami precautions), with many people firing their weapons in the air in appreciation, chanting “USA, USA, USA.” With my scholarship money I plan to attend Thelma Lou’s Cosmetology and Liposculpture Academy in Texas... the M.I.T. of beauty schools to major in Nail Art and minor in Bible Studies. Of course, I want to be a positive role model for American youth, like Miley and Justin Beaver.

Me: Good luck with that... haha. If I remember correctly you are from San Francisco originally. Am I correct?

Lee: S.F. was the last place I lived before leaving the USA (Marin County, to be exact). “Originally” I grew up in the mid-waste.

Me: Your specialty or the kind of music you make is techno, and your newest album "The Cheeze Chronicles, Volume V" has been labeled Technopera. Who called it that?

Lee: Actually, I wouldn’t say and never said that. I am a composer/musician. “Techno” is one type of music I create... and what that term has come to mean has little connection to what I create. My work includes electronica-techno-psychedelic-experimental-ambient-Western Classical-jazz-world-funk-musique concrète-rock-pop-‘acousto-electric,’ etc., often in the same track. I don’t want to be pigeonholed (sounds like avian bestiality).

Me: So, what does Technopera mean?

Lee: Technopera is the label I affixed to my new album. It is an opera in the sense that there is a libretto (a story), with characters, etc. Techno because I used synthesizers, samplers, processors and computers (technology) and some of the tracks hearken back to the music I made in the 1980s (techno... techno-funk, techno-pop) and have continued to make.

Me: Okay, so the new album is an opera... what is the story behind it, Lee?

Lee: It is one opera in an epic cycle of Technoperas... patterned after Wagner’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (‘The Ring Cycle’). “Volume V” is the latest installment, however the story arc does not follow or exist in linear time or a historical perspective.

Me: I am glad it's all about Cheeze. Explain to the readers who Cheeze is.

Lee: Cheeze is a recurring character in my work, since returning to recording and releasing music  four years ago. Cheeze was a jazz trumpet player from the American Midwest who found himself playing in an American jazz club in Shanghai in the late 1930s. It was there that he met his consort, the Chinese singer Wei Lei. In his late teens, he was exposed to THC, and this significantly altered his view of reality. After a set one night, Cheeze and Wei Lei retired to an alley behind the club to have a bit of reefer and exchange bodily fluids, when a UFO appeared and abducted them. After the aliens performed several examinations, they inserted anal probes into the pair and turned them into avatars, sending them out into the galaxy to gather and transmit information with a focus on planet Earth.

Me: We never see him, so do you have an idea on what he looks like?

Lee: Actually, his likeness can be seen in some of my videos and on the new album cover. In particular, a teenaged Cheeze can be seen in the documentary videos “Cheeze Takes Off” and “Cheeze Turns On”    

Me: Oh, that's Cheeze. I have a screen shot of one of those videos here.

Lee: He will also appear in a new video I am releasing soon from a track from the new album called "Loan Me a Paradigm.."

Me: Have you been planning this opera for a long time, Lee?

Lee: A few years. I actually wrote a 2-CD opera a couple of years ago, but lost interest (long story). Many of the tracks from the opera appeared on subsequent albums, like “The Lunar Collection”, “Technodelic Transmissions”,  etc.

Me: Some of your stuff has lyrics... do you one up with the lyrics first or the music?

Lee: Always music first.

Me: Did you do everything on "The Cheeze Chronicles, Volume V" by yourself?

Lee: Yes, I wrote, played, produced and mixed it all. The only steps I farmed out this time were mastering and cover art. I was fortunate to obtain the services of Pete Maher, one of the leading mastering engineers in the world, based in London. Pete has mastered Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, U2, Patti Smith, etc. so this was quite a coup for me. The album’s sonics are great. Too bad most will miss that... listening with earbuds on MP3 players. Progress. The other aspect I had help with was the cover and disc art. I worked with a very cool young Korean artist here in Seoul, Juyong Lee. He did an outstanding job of realizing my concepts!

Me: Okay, V means five in Roman numerals, right? Was there a 1 through 4 Cheeze Chronicles? Why did you go straight to five?

Lee: Linear time has no relevance in the Cheeze universe.

Me: I watched some of your videos on YouTube and in the video for the song "(Let's Join) The Twit Parade" there's a group of woman marching.

Me: What army is this?

Lee: Primarily North Korean. Nothing like women in uniforms carrying weapons to get the juices flowing, eh!

Me: So, what is the twit parade?

Lee: A parade of twits! Mindless people marching lockstep in obeisance to the military-industrial masters. Also a play on the old hit parade shows and movie shorts.

Me: Another video for the song "Just Sayin'" has a warning before it plays... is that because it features the pope?

Lee: The warning is from YouTube. I chose to rate this video, as well as “Twit Parade” as containing adult content. Two of my videos were removed by YouTube in the past, and I wanted to prevent that from happening again.

Me: I take it you're not Catholic then? Haha.

Lee: Correct.

Me: Lee, there's tons of videos you have done on YouTube. How many have you made?

Lee: In the past four years I have released/been involved with over 30 videos. I have released two from the new album already, with a few more pending. I released two new videos... One is “Loan Me a Paradigm” and the other,“The Cheeze Spreadz.” Both can be seen at

Me: Why were the other ones pulled from YouTube? Nudity?

Lee: Funny. There is literally porn on YouTube and graphically violent, salacious and misogynist videos are the norm for some music genres, but the brain-police at YouTube (Google) deemed two of my videos unsuitable and removed them for briefly showing a woman’s breasts in one, or some vintage burlesque show dancing in the other. What bizarre, arbitrary morality. The videos can be seen on Vimeo and other sites. I’ll let your readers be the judge: “Virtual Realty” “From Whence it Came”

Me: You were once part of something called Detroit Techno... what was that and how is Detroit techno different from say, Orlando techno?

Lee: Back in the early 1980s, I was living near Detroit and releasing my first solo records. I was an early adopter of synthesizers... starting in the late 70s and was fortunate enough to have some very cool gear. Back then, synth gear was very expensive, which I used in my compositions and recordings... and I knew how to use modular gear requiring sounds to be made from scratch... no loops and no presets, which required knowledge of waveforms, filters, etc. Detroit was already a major center for rock and funk, and when synths were introduced into the mix, techno was born grossly oversimplified. I used to do a lot of work in a great recording studio near Detroit, and occasionally I did some session work, synthesizer programming, producing and playing with some local bands. Some broke out and got major label deals. One band I became friendly with was called Cybotron, which featured Juan Atkins, people call him the godfather of Detroit Techno and Richard Davis. Rick and I became great friends and mutual admirers, and used to talk a lot about making a band together, fusing rock and techno... Jimi Hendrix meets Kraftwerk was our basic premise. We (Rick and I) collaborated on some tracks. With his advance from Cybotron’s major-label record deal, he built an 8-track Tascam reel to reel studio in his basement and he invited me to join the band as the touring drummer, on synth drums... Simmons, which were the state-of-the-art then. However, the band was screwed by the label (Fantasy, who screwed everyone) and Juan and Rick fell-out over the direction of the band. Rick wanted to go more in the rock direction, adding a guitar player, etc. and I think Juan didn’t care for that idea. The band broke up before I joined, but my solo career continued. There was a highly influential Detroit radio DJ at the time called The Electrifyin’ Mojo... I seem to recall whose playlists crossed genres and introduced a generation of Detroit kids to European synth music (Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Krautrock, etc.). George Clinton and his crowd were around and about in Detroit at that time, too. Difference between Detroit Techno and Orlando Techno? Detroit: Rust belt, factories, assembly lines, industrial hub, metal, center of the automobile industry, blue-collar, steel, engines, motors, iron, smoke stacks, long cold-harsh winters, Motown, MC5, Iggy and The Stooges. Orlando: Disney, KC and the Sunshine Band, Beach Blanket Bingo.

Me: Are you into any other kinds of genres?

Lee: Many. If you listen to my work, you can hear the answer. Some of my music I like to call Technodelic, as it fuses techno and psychedelic... music from the late-1960s and 1980s, two of my favorite periods for pop music. I am a trained classical musician, starting formal trumpet lessons at about age 7, and studying music theory, percussion and trumpet with members of the Cleveland Orchestra. My mother was a pianist and I grew up with a grand piano in my living room... great fun to bang on as a toddler. My first forays into prepared piano pieces. I have played jazz, went to Berklee College of Music 3 different times... when it was a jazz school... the first time when I was 15 years old. I studied drums there with Alan Dawson, rock of course... I started my first band at age 12, and by high school was playing on weekends in bars and clubs, blues, fusion, etc. I studied tabla drums in India with a music master from AIR (All India Radio). I lived in India three times. I have many influences: music, visual arts, architecture, philosophy, traditional Japanese/Chinese arts... I lived in Japan for fifteen years and have traveled around mainland China two times, as well as hanging out in Hong Kong, Singapore and my almost daily Buddhist vegetarian lunches in San Francisco’s Chinatown when I lived there... drama, literature, martial arts, tea ceremony, flower arranging, Taoism, Zen, etc. And, of course, to paraphrase Shakespeare, the art that is above all others: Nature. I have been in about 45 countries and been an expatriate for over two decades… so, my influences and creations have many elements and my work has a wide-range of instrumentation from many cultures.

Me: I know you play keyboards, Lee, as a lot of your music is done with keyboards, but do you play any other instruments? I believe you play guitar, and drums?

Lee: I play percussion, brass instruments, keyboards, guitars, bass guitars, synthesizers and whatever I can get my hands on.

Me: You have your own home studio... do you rent it out, or are you always in there?

Lee: It’s my man cave. Basically, I live in it... literally.

Me: Apart from the latest album since you were here last you had a few other releases... how many and what were they?

Lee: Hard to say, since we don’t remember the last time we chatted! Since returning to making music four years ago, I have released eight full albums, some EPs, several singles, as well as appearing on some international compilations and the afore mentioned videos. Last week I re-released an old album, “Balance” in honor of its 20th anniversary... original release 1994. I remastered it for the occasion. For a complete discography go to      

Me: I am sorry you weren't on the Phile with these, Lee, did you miss being here?

Lee: Of course. I thought thou had forsaken me!

Me: No way, just lost touch. So, are you working on anything now?

Lee: I am working on a new album, possibly to be released in December or early next year. I have several projects-ideas in the planning stage, rolling around between my ears, and I am now researching the gear I’ll need to embark on a solo tour next year in Europe... quite an undertaking.

Me: Yeah, that would be. Alright, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. This is new for you I think... This is good. what's the one thing you've done that you'd like to erase?

Lee: A bit of a twist... I didn’t do it, more like it was done to me, but I’d like to erase my socialization or enculturation. The brainwashing that made me lose my childlike consciousness, equipoise and bliss, and start to label things and see myself as separate and apart from the universe, subject to death. Losing the natural state of being here in the moment, with no fear or neurosis. Why we choose to perpetuate the madness is an interesting question. For more on this, check out my new CD, “The Cheeze Chronicles: Volume V”.

Me: Lee, go ahead and mention your websites and please come back soon. I hope there won't be as big as a gap next time. Oh, I forgot to say congrats... your music is number one experimental/electronic music in Korea, or something like that, am I right?

Lee: Considering I’m the only experimental/electronic musician in Korea, well…You are referring to,,,, My material is available at iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, etc. It’s also available at the streaming sites, but I make almost nothing from streaming... appallingly low amount. Better than illegal downloading, but only a bit.

Me: Man, that sucks, Lee.

Lee: I’d feel better if some people would buy a CD or two. Being number 1 does not pay for my tofu.

Me: I take it you are number one in South Korea...

Lee: Actually my music is in heavy rotation on Kim Jong Un’s iPod and he makes all of his comrades listen to my work daily to keep them in line. Dennis Rodman told me about this.

Me: Haha. Lee, thanks again, and take care.

Lee: My pleasure, sir. Stay in touch!

There you go, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and of course Lee Negin. The Phil will be back tomorrow with original Mousekeeter and author Lonnie Burr. So, spread the word, no 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.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pheaturing Michael Mantlo

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake I shake it off, I shake it off. Haha. Hi there, welcome to another entry of the Phile. How's it going? I can't get that bloody Taylor Swift song outta my head. Let's talk about something more serious, like Ferguson. No, not Craig Ferguson. Ferguson city officials say that the officer who was caught on camera threatening to kill protesters while pointing his loaded, semi-automatic rifle at them has been suspended from duty. Probably until he learns not to pull shit when you're so obviously going to get caught. Come on, man. Learn how to harass civilians like a professional! Ferguson police will use hoses next and claim the protestors were having a wet t-shirt contest.  A new study from King’s College London suggests that you might be able to get some insight into just how dim-witted your kid will grow up to be, based upon the crappy, half-considered scrawls that you stuck up on your refrigerator. Parents shouldn't put too much stock in their children's artistic abilities, however. "Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life," according to study author Dr. Rosalind Arden. In other words, your kid can be good at drawing and still wind up profoundly dumb.  Research performed by a political scientist at the University of Vermont claims to have found empirical evidence that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of books had a political influence upon its readers. "Reading the books correlated with greater levels of acceptance for out-groups, higher political tolerance, less predisposition to authoritarianism, greater support for equality, and greater opposition to the use of violence and torture," researcher Anthony Gierzynski wrote in The Conversation. I wonder what percentage of American parents didn't let their kids watch Harry Potter because they didn't understand the accents? Speaking of Harry Potter, there's a new Harry Potter book coming out, did you know that? I have the cover of it right here...

Can you read that title? "Harry Potter and the Wingardium Leviosa Spell That's Lasted More Than 4 Hours".  I have no idea what that means.  A recent study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine finds that lesbians are having better sex and more orgasms than their heterosexual counterparts. Seems like an unfair comparison though. Heterosexual women are forced to have sex with men, and, as any straight woman will tell you, those guys really have no idea what they're doing down there. Hollywood actress and notable attractive person Emma Stone will be making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in the currently running Broadway revival of "Cabaret". Stone... whom relatively few people seem to view as a below-par actress, is expected to do an acceptable-enough job replacing the respected performer Michelle Williams. I love Emma Stone, she's cute.  Okay, yesterday I told you the story about some guy who had his mugshot taken while wearing a t-shirt featuring his last mugshot. I showed you a picture of what his next mugshot will look like, well, here's what Burt's next-next mugshot might look like...

Unfortunately, that's where we reach the limits of modern technology. There is currently no way to guess at what his next-next-next mugshot might look like. Maybe one day, but sadly not today.  No matter what your opinion is of President George "Mission Accomplished" Bush, whether you voted for him for both terms or swore he would make you move to Canada, there is definitely something special about getting to watch the former leader of the free world take freezing water to the face. After completing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge herself on the "Today" show, presidential spawn Jenna Bush Hager nominated mom and dad to complete the challenge as well. Of course she wanted to raise money and awareness for the cause, but really it was an opportunity to see what mom Laura Bush would look like without the "helmet hair" she's been wearing since 1991. In response, daddy President Bush made a video that at first seems like a rare moment where he and President Obama agree, claiming that "it would be un-presidential" for him to complete the challenge and that he will just make out a check. That's when Laura Bush dumps a bucket of water on his head and declares the check is for her so that she can spare her perfect coif. I'm assuming she means that she will donate the check for ALS, but I wouldn't be surprised if that money ended up in the hands of Texas's hardest hair-spraying stylist. To keep the challenge moving forward, Bush nominated his "good friend" Bill Clinton to complete the challenge next. What a sweetheart. Here's a picture of Bush getting the bucket dumped over his head...

I was wondering where I saw that look before and then it hit me.

Haha. It's the same bloody look!  Speaking of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which I have done by the way, there's a scene in the new Star Wars movie where someone is doing the challenge.

So, I went to the store yesterday and saw an ad for Purell which I thought was kinda weird.

That's very true.  Okay, so on Facebook they have been known to ban certain pictures. Some of them they should ban and pull off, but others it's confusing why. I'm not afraid to show these pictures on the Phile, so that's why I created a feature called...

A mother was been banned from Facebook after she uploaded a photo of her children showing one of them pretending to breastfeed. Lauren Ferrari of Seattle,WA published the controversial photo on the social networking site. It displays her five-year-old daughter and her younger sister.

In a few hours, the photo disappeared and Facebook told her it violated the company's community standards. She is currently banned for a week. US police say it is an example of "poor parenting."

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, before we move on, yesterday I showed you this picture that a Phile reader sent me...

I had no idea what it meant, but a lot of you readers did. Apparently this happened months ago... a Florida State quarterback and Heisman trophy winner had been at the center of controversy for the better part of his career. First their were rape allegations and then the stealing of crab legs from Publix. Their was camera footage that showed him nonchalantly walking up to the seafood counter at Publix grocery store in Tallahassee … grabbing $32.17 worth of crab legs and crawfish … and walking out of the store without paying for it. I didn't understand why he was carrying a cat, but it's not a cat he's carrying, it's crab legs. Thanks, Phile readers, mystery solved.  Okay, a few years ago I interviewed a gentlemen on the Phile named Lee Abramson who is a musician and has ALS. Well, ALS has been all over the news lately because of this Ice Bucket Challenge. I wondered what Lee thought about this so I invited him onto the Phile to tell us his view. So, please welcome back to the Phile, Lee Abramson.

The awareness by the Ice Bucket Challenge raised so far is superficial. Jimmy Fallon didn't go to the Outpatient Neurology lobby during ALS Clinic day and see the horror show I'm going to see when I go on Wednesday. Drooling, asphyxiating, patients slumped over in wheelchairs, lucid... but unable to speak... crying out loud. And everyone else in the room knowing that it's only a matter of time until they end up the same way. That is unless they go on a ventilator, and, eventually, lose control of every muscle except their eyes. AND that Congress just cut Medicare funding to pay for (pretty cheap) eye gaze computer equivalent that could help patients express themselves to caregivers and the Internet, leaving them with locked-in syndrome. Congress also cut funding for ModelTalker and other voice banking systems, which would allow patients with children to grow up hearing their natural voice, instead of a robot's. Let's make sure that some of this new awareness is directed at lawmakers who are deliberately increasing the level of hopelessness among ALS patients in the name of fiscal discipline.

Wow. There you have it, kids. Thanks, Lee. Alright, the 33rd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Lonnie Burr, an original Mouseketeer will be a guest on the Phile a week from today.

It's 9:54 am, 83°F and Kelly did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

I'd like to think it was because I nominated her, and not Reba McEntire. Haha. It doesn't make a difference who did, she did it. Man, I wish I could get a better screen grab than that.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is the brother of Bill Mantlo who is an American comic-book writer, primarily at Marvel Comics, and who co-created Rocket Raccoon. Please welcome to the Phile... Michael Mantlo.

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

Michael: I'm fine, and feeling mighty proud these days!

Me: I have to say that your brother Bill co-created one of my favorite Marvel characters ever... Rocket Raccoon. I first learnt about Rocket and heard of him in '85 when I read his four issue mini series. When did you first hear of Rocket?

Michael: Bill tipped me off to his creation back in 1982, just before he appeared in "The Incrdeible Hulk" # 271.

Me: When you first found out about him what did you think?

Michael: I thought it was a pretty cool thing to do!

Me: Rocket's name and aspects of the character come from The Beatles song "Rocket Raccoon". Was Bill a big Beatles fan?

Michael: Bill was a HUGE Beatles fan, and "The Ballad of Rocky Raccoon", being a complete story, lent itself very easily to being adapted to a comic re-telling. Bill turning it into a "space opera" was his own pure genius!

Me: Someone might ask themselves why I am interviewing you and not Bill himself. Tell the readers that don't know what happened to Bill.

Michael: For those unaware, Bill was struck by a car while rollerblading home from work (at that time, he was a Legal Aid attorney working in the Bronx, NY). It was a hit-and-run, and the driver was never apprehended. Bill, who was NOT wearing a helmet at the time, suffered irreparable brain damage when his head struck the windshield of the car, and additionally when his head struck the pavement after being thrown over the car's hood.

Me: So accident in New York City?

Michael: Yes, four blocks from the apartment he was living in at the time.

Me: How did you first find out about the accident?

Michael: Bill's girlfriend called me from the hospital. I lived about ten blocks away from them, in the same area of Upper Manhattan.

Me: You and Bill are from New York, right? Where do you guys live now?

Michael: Correct, we were born in Brooklyn, NY. I currently live in Delaware, while Bill is still in a nursing home in New York.

Me: You also have a sister, am I right?

Michael: No, no, no... the Mantlo's are ALL boys! There are three of us. 

Me: So, are you the oldest? No, Bill is the oldest... I am in the middle... our younger brother is Art Mantlo.

Me: It's very cool that you are taking care of Bill's welfare and financial stuff. You and he must be very close. Were you always close growing up?

Michael: Throughout our pre-teen years, we were extremely close. Once Bill hit his teens (and discovered girls, wink-wink) we drifted a little bit apart.

Me: I love this picture of both of you, you look really close.

Me: Bill started doing art for Marvel Comics before he became a writer. Was he into comics growing up?

Michael: Absolutely. We were weaned on the Sunday funnies newspaper comics by our father, Classics Illustrated by our mom, and Bill discovered "superhero" comics (primarily DC... his first love was The Flash) around the time he was preparing to enter kindergarten.

Me: What about you, Michael? Were you into comics as well?

Michael: I was more into the pictures. We were both avid readers, but I never got into the written aspect of comics when I was a kid. Bill had much more patience... haha.

Me: Did you do any writing as well?

Michael: Yes, but in a far less imaginative vein.

Me: During his time as a writer he also got a law degree, is that right? Why did he do so? Did he want to stop writing comics? You know, he had my dream job. I wanted to be a comic book writer growing up.

Michael: In reality, Bill's dream job was to be a comic ARTIST... that was his first love. He earned scholarships to the High School of Art & Design, and later Cooper Union college based on his artistic talents. He earned his BA in photography, but became frustrated after graduation when not able to find any kind of meaningful work in that field... he was languishing as a studio portrait photographer at at local department store! A friend got his foot in the door at Marvel, working in the paste up/production department, and one day, just like Lana Turner being "found" at Schwab's Drug Store, Marvel editor Tony Isabella burst into the production room flustered that another writer had missed the deadline to submit a story for "Sons of the Tiger", and Bill piped up: "I can write that!" Tony gave him a shot, and as legend has it, Bill wrote the story on his lunch hour, and his writing career was born. Now, progressing quickly, in the early 1980s Bill was running into some battles with his then editor-in-chief, and was subsequently seeing his assignments cut back. He was also very much involved with the handful of Marvel creators that were striving to get control over the rights to their own creations, as Marvel was in the practice of listing EVERYONE (except Stan Lee) as being merely a "work for hire" employee. Bill managed to secure funding through Marvel's scholarship program, and got admitted to Brooklyn Law School. He never wanted to stop writing, and in fact, continued to write throughout his school years, and after, albeit not always for Marvel, and not as frequently.

Me: Okay, let's talk about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I loved it!!! What did you think? 

Michael: Aside from what I considered the needless 3D gimmick, I though the movie was SPECTACULAR!

Me: Marvel and Disney... who I have worked for for 26 years gave a private viewing for Bill and his family, am I right?

Michael: The private viewing was for Bill. My wife and cousin were there to assist. My wife, Liz, and I were invited to, and attended Marvel's advance screening for employees/family a few days earlier.

Me: I was glad to see his name was in the credits along with Rockets other creator Keith Giffen. Have you heard from Keith?

Michael: No, I haven't had any direct contact with Keith, but I was very pleased to see his & Bill's name on the big screen! The credit for creating a character as rich as Rocket Raccoon was long overdue for both!

Me: What was Bill's reaction to the movie, and his name in the credits?

Michael: He loved the movie, and seeing his name in the credits was the culmination of all of his efforts, and his dreams come true!

Me: Rocket has also been in a number of cartoons and video games recently as well... has Bill seen those, or have you?

Michael: Neither, although I have seen Internet postings & articles about them.

Me: You know if someone would of told me in '85 Rocket would one day be in a live action movie I would never believe it. I bet you guys feel the same way, am I right?

Michael: You are 100% correct! Out of ALL the many characters Bill created, none of us would ever have thought that furry little critter would one day be the BIGGEST STAR IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!

Me: Bill and yourself have received quite a bit of press lately thanks to the movie Guardians of the Galaxy. I read that Marvel hasn't helped Bill or his family financially, but that's not true, is it?

Michael: That is most definitely NOT true. Marvel has been wonderful, and Bill has been treated very well! We are thrilled to be a such a big part of Marvel/Disney's success, and we are hopeful that this will continue far into the future.

Me: Are you surprised at all the press Bill has been getting lately?

Michael: In a way, yes, but in a different way, no. I'm afraid I'm slightly biased, but I've always thought Bill deserved these kind of accolades!

Me: Michael, tell me about the book "Mantlo: A Life In Comics".

Me: When did this book originally came out?

Michael: Wow.... believe it or not, it's been nearly ten years since David Yurkovich first contacted me with the idea to write a book saluting Bill. We first discussed it in 2005, with David generously offering to write a semi-biographical history of Bill's career at Marvel as a tribute to the man, he said, inspired him to become a writer. It took us nearly two years to get the project completed, and the book was published in 2007. We did a very limited print run... I believe no more than 500 copies, and those books were sort of the beginnings of the Bill Mantlo Support Fund efforts that I've been running to raise funds to help improve Bill's quality of life, and perhaps give hope to the dream of him making whatever further recovery he can from this nightmare injury.

Me: Did you help write it?

Michael: I wrote the introduction.

Me: Do you think David Yurkovich would want to be interviewed for the Phile? Do you still keep in touch with him?

Michael: I don't have any idea how David would feel about being interviewed, but yes, I have stayed in touch with him through the years, and ironically, he has just relocated to the next town over from me here in Delaware!

Me: There's a lot of Rocket merch out now and even new Cloak and Dagger action figures which Bill also created... are you or anybody in the family collecting them?

Michael: I have a huge collection of my own, and am planning eventually to dedicate a room in my house to Bill, and all the amazing things he's done.

Me: Bill needs a Rocket bobble head next to his bed. If Marvel doesn't send him one do you want me to?

Michael: Not necessary... Marvel has given Bill many, many things.

Me: Michael, thanks so much for being on the Phile talking about your brother. On the Phile these last few years I have a tradition where I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. I was gonna skip this, but decided I'll ask you. Here goes... If you could be brilliant in one subject which would you choose?

Michael: Does it have to be a "subject"... hahaha? I would have loved to be talented enough to play Major League Baseball!

Me: Michael, thanks again, give Bill a huge hug from myself and all my readers, and please come back on the Phile again soon. Is there a website you'd like to mention?

Michael: Sure... Greg Pak's Pakbuzz site is up there at the top of my list (as Greg has been such a big supporter of Bill's), the Bill Mantlo Facebook page (set up by Bill's fans), for those Spanish speaking fans out there, there's always Admiradores De Bill Mantlo on Spain's (I think) Facebook, Javier Hernandez' page, Rocket Raccon's page, Marvel Cinematic Universe page, Marvel Cosmic Junkies page ... uhhhh, I'm running out of room here... LOL!

Me: Michael, thanks again for being here, and take care.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Lee Abramson and of course Michael Mantlo. And thanks to Bill Mantlo for co-creating one of my favorite Marvel characters ever... Rocket. The Phile will be back next Thursday with Phile Alum Lee Negin. Then on Friday it's author Lonnie Burr. 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.