Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pheaturing Phile Alum Alexis White From Raised On Wilder

Hey there, how are you? Welcome to a Sunday entry of the Phile. How was your week? I hope no one crashed their SUV into the side of your house. That actually happened to a friend of mine. He now has a religious house... it's holy. Anyway, what's going on in the news?  The GOP-controlled Utah state congress passed a piece of legislation that been backed by both gay and Mormon leaders (also probably some closeted gay Mormon leaders). "The Utah compromise," as it's being called, prohibits employment and housing discrimination against gay people and women in pretty much all cases except when it comes to the Mormon Church, which will retain the right to continue its proud tradition of bigotry and suppression.  Palcohol... alcohol that is available to consumers in powdered form for ease of accidental poisoning has been once again approved for sale by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. This is a great day for American commerce and terrible day for humanity as a whole. Powdered alcohol is now legal in the America. Let natural selection begin. Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams' 2013 hit "Blurred Lines" was found by an L.A. jury to be a ripoff of Marvin Gaye's 1977 classic "Got to Give It Up," even though the two songs don't really have all that much in common aside from a ineffable feeling. Unfortunately, you cannot get sued for writing a song that glamorizes date rape and has the creepiest, most-sexist music video in decades.  A new scientific study has found that chameleons may expand and contract nanocrystals in their skin in order to change color to blend in with their surroundings. Because everything has to have nano-something nowadays.  While Gizmodo's Mario Aguilar makes a compelling argument for why none of us should buy this first-generation version of the Apple Watch, we're all in agreement that we're all going to buy the watch eventually, right? I mean, not right away! We'll obviously spend a lot of time mocking it and making fun of the people we see wearing it. But then, in a couple months or a couple years, we'll start quietly eyeballing it online and trying to work its $350 selling price into our budgets. This is just the cycle of things. It's best to accept it.  I was looking at the Apple Watch and I don't think it's what I thought it was.

I'm allergic to apples so I wouldn't like it I don't think.  Here's a story that when I first read I thought no. Nope. No way. No thanks. Bye. This is a screen shot of a video that was posted by Jarred Smith, a 22-year-old resident of Sydney, Australia, who found the six-foot python just hanging out in his corn flakes box.

A few things: No. Hell no. If any snake is going to show up in a corn flakes box, it should be a corn snake. Snakes of the world, you guys are missing a huge opportunity for brand synergy here. Chris McGreal from the New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service came to remove the snake. According to an article in Australia's Independent, "The python was over 2m long and I couldn't ­believe it was jammed into this small cereal box," Mr McGreal said. "When I got there I ­actually had to tear the box to get it out, that's how tightly squeezed in it was. It's likely it was hiding in there to feel secure." Look, snake, I get it. I've curled up in the corner of the room when I was feeling sad plenty of times. But I never did it in somebody's food. Then again, that is probably a good way to get attention. If that's what you were going for, snake, I applaud your ingenuity.  So, have you seen that picture of Obama and Kim Jong-Un shaking hands? No? Well, take a look...

Wait. A. Minute. Something doesn't look right. No, that's not today's Mindphuck. Kim Jong-Un doesn't look like that. He looks like this...

That's so stupid. Haha.  Okay, as you know I live in Florida and some weird stories come out of Florida that wouldn't come out of anywhere else. That's why I started a pheature called...

There's no denying that things shaped like penises are hilarious. Now, one brave pilot in a two-seater has devoted the time, energy, and fuel costs necessary to draw a penis in the sky. Flightradar24 captured the spectacle outside Kissimmee, Florida the other night.

There's no word yet on who the pilot might be, or why he or she took the time to create this important public service announcement. But I sure do appreciate the visual. However, if that yellow L-shaped thing is supposed to be a vagina, I'm not impressed.

Gene Gene the Dancing Machine 
April 25th, 1932 — March 13th, 2015 
He closed "The Gong Show" for years with his crazy, wiggly-footed dancing. Now that, my friends, is a celebrity.

Sam Simon
June 6th, 1955 — March 8th, 2015

Haha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Now, just now I mentioned Sam Simon... well, I have to say something better about him than just "d'oh." At 59, Sam Simon has left the world too soon, but he made an impact. One of the co-creators of "The Simpsons", along with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks, he could easily have sat back and let the accolades roll over him forever. Instead, he dedicated his life to philanthropy and his passionate love of animals, using most of that crazy Simpsons money to create The Sam Simon Foundation, which rescues stray dogs and rehabilitates them to be family pets, service dogs, and companions for soldiers returning from combat. He was also SO FUNNY! I'm not used to thinking of vegan, animal rights activists as people with a sense of humor, but Sam Simon proved it was possible. He pitched the original idea for Homer's Land of Chocolate vision and former Simpsons writer Ken Levine is quoted saying, “I'm here to tell you, the real creative force behind 'The Simpsons' was Sam Simon. The tone, the storytelling, the level of humor... that was all developed on Sam's watch." Let's pour one out for Sam Simon, pet a dog, have a veggie burger and remember him how he wanted to be remembered...

Okay, guess what time it is? He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. It's...

Reason #65,352 of why I have always been an idiot who says as he pleases... and that all THIS is not just some persona I adopted recently. Just after graduating high school, I went to meet a woman I was dating who worked as a DJ at Hammerheads in West Islip. She was there with her best friend who was dating Richie Blackmore. We all stood at the bar with Him while he was scouting Bobby Rondinelli (who was playing that night) for a newly revamped version of Rainbow... Richie was looking for a singer as well. I was 18 years old and I was drinking with one of my idols who was looking for a singer. Perhaps, when he asked what my favorite Deep Purple album was, I shouldn't have said "Come Taste the Band." You know... the one they recorded with Tommy Bolin on guitar. Yeah... right after that, Richie asked Joe Lynn Turner from New Jersey to sing for him. Yyyyyyyyyyep... I'm a dick.

Bobby Rondineli? I interviewed him on the Phile. Anyway, the 36th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Jim will be a guest for the third time in a few weeks.

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum who is a singer, artist and photographer. She has a new music project she's working on with her husband called Raised On Wilder. I'm so excited to have her back on the Phile. Please welcome back... Alexis White.

Me: Hey, Alexis!!!! Welcome back to the Phile! It's been way to long. How have you been?

Alexis: Hey, Jason! It has been a long while. I'm well, thank you.

Me: Last time you were here was for the Phile's 6th anniversary entry, and I just had the Phile's 9th anniversary. Thank you for taking part, Alexis. Was it fun?

Alexis: Wow! Congrats! It was my pleasure to be a part of it, and yes, it was fun!

Me: Can you believe this stupid little blog is still going on?

Alexis: I'm just so impressed that you've been doing this for nine years. I do believe the Phile is still going on because clearly you're a dedicated writer and you have plenty of fans. But it's still an amazing accomplishment.

Me: Before the anniversary entry you were here on January 1st and you were plugging your new album "Unsettled Heart" and your artwork. Have you released any music since then?

Alexis: No, not officially.

Me: "Unsettled Heart" is an album of 31 songs. That's like three albums right there, Alexis. I can't remember, did you plan on releasing so much music at once?

Alexis: I don't think I planned on that. The recording process was (intentionally) kind of lo-fi. So once I had everything set up, I recorded all of my personal favorite songs that I had written during the years prior. That's kind of embarrassing to have 31 personal favorites of my own songs. Maybe I should call them "personal attachments" instead.

Me: Do you perform any of the songs on "Unsettled Heart" still?

Alexis: Yes, Robert and I play some of them in our band Raised On Wilder.

Me: So, are you still doing art and photography?

Alexis: Yes, but mostly for my own enjoyment these days. I'm doing photography more than art, mostly working at improving my technique and capturing photos of all the places I get to visit. I share my photos via Flickr, and I use some of my photos in a travel blog called Sound To Shore that I co-founded with my friend, Sarah.

Me: Okay, you're from Pennsylvania, but lived by Nashville when I first interviewed you about six years ago or so, is that right?

Alexis: That's right. I'm from Punxsutanwy, PA and I lived in Murfreesboro, TN.

Me: Then you moved to Nova Scotia, way up in Canada. Do you still live there?

Alexis: I do.

Me: Do you like living there? I bet it's cold there most of the time.

Alexis: I like it for the most part. I like the landscape and ocean... the hiking and cycling trails are wonderful. It does get much colder here than in Florida, but you get used to it.

Me: And you were working with grey hounds... are you still doing that?

Alexis: Yes, I was. We adopted two greyhounds, Huxley and Lewis. So, I don't have much time to help at the kennel anymore. But at least these two babies have a home!

Me: Your husband... Robert is in the military, am I right? How is he doing?

Alexis: You're right. He's doing really well.

Me: Is he the reason you moved to Nova Scotia?

Alexis: Yes.

Me: Have you visited Pennsylvania or Nashville recently?

Alexis: I haven't visited Nashville since I left in 2011, but I visited Pennsylvania this past December. 

Me: Cool. I'm gonna be there myself in a few weeks. Okay, you released music in the past as Oh, Alexis. Are you still gonna do that?

Alexis: I'm not sure. I kind of doubt it. I prefer to be in a band and try to remain somewhat incognito. 

Me: You know, I have a "band" called Strawberry Blondes Forever. You should check our album out called "How Do You Know My Name?" I'm the songwriter for it, Alexis. I find it hard to write songs, do you find it easy or hard?

Alexis: Yes, I know about Strawberry Blondes Forever. I listened to y'all not too long ago... great stuff! I think you're right about songwriting being hard. I used to think it was easy, but I've come to understand that I enjoy the challenge and the act of creating so much that I don't realize it's difficult. I just finished a song today that I've been writing for 5 years, so I think that was probably a hard song to write.

Me: Do you still do a lot of songwriting?

Alexis: I think so. I used to constantly search for the next song by writing lyrics as often as possible, but these days I do more contemplation and I don't try to finish songs right away. I was never in pursuit of quantity with songwriting, but that seems to be what I was getting (with some decent quality here and there). I guess I'm going for quality over quantity these days, which is a challenge since it's more natural for me to make songs like bunnies make bunnies.

Me: Is Robert into your music?

Alexis: Yeah. He tends to prefer the songs that I don't care for as much, which is strange, but probably a good thing.

Me: So, what does Raised On Wilder mean? Gene Wilder? Or is Wilder a drink? Haha.

Alexis: I'm not sure if Wilder is a drink, but Greyhounds are delicious drinks! Robert and I share a love for the "Little House On The Prairie" books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It's incredible how the books we read have the power to shape our character and influence who we are. We still daydream about living in a log cabin someday, and we suspect it's because we loved those books so much!

Me: I was listening to your music the other day and love the song "I Hate Money." I love that song. Do you really hate money? I wanted to ask you that last time you were here.

Alexis: Man, it seems like so long ago that I wrote that song! Yeah, I really hate money... maybe it's better for me to say that I hate greed, excess, and materialism. But I do hate money. It's gross. You never know where it's been...

Me: I love money myself. Haha. You don't have any music up on iTunes anymore, Alexis. What happened?

Alexis: I hate money.

Me: Of course. Did you know there's a musician named Ryan Cassata who has an album and song called "Oh, Alexis"?

Alexis: I do. I doubt it has anything to do with me, but I could make an album in response called "Orion." That might be fun. I like stars.

Me: That's very funny. You're in another duo called Good Luck Ola. Last time you were here you said you and the other member of that band... Heather, right? You and Heather were gonna do a tour in Nova Scotia. Did you do that, and how was it?

Alexis: Yep, I'm in a duo called Good Luck Ola, although to say I'm "in a duo" might be misleading because it may imply that we live in the same city and play together regularly. We don't. Heather lives in Nashville, and I'm here in Halifax. We keep in touch and we still talk about music that would be great to play together... and when we're able to get together, we do and we play lots of music. We didn't necessarily tour Nova Scotia, but Heather did come visit me in 2012 and we performed in Halifax. It was a nice show... you can find videos of it on YouTube. We also performed at a coal mining memorial concert with some super-talented musicians in my hometown (Punxsutawney, PA) last year.

Me: Are you gonna do more music with Heather?

Alexis: We don't have specific plans for it, but I'm sure that we will make more music together the next time we have the chance. We do have a list of songs that could be used for a new Good Luck Ola album.

Me: Do you like working with other people such as Rob and Heather or your own better?

Alexis: I like working with other musicians a lot. I prefer to perform with other musicians, and I love to jam with others. That being said, I value the times I get to play at home with no one else around. I think I like writing alone and co-writing the same (though they are considerably different processes) ... but I haven't co-written in ages.

Me: You and Robert make a cute couple. I love this picture of you and he in the ocean.

Me: How long have you been together?

Alexis: Thank you! We've been together for five years. 

Me: You really must like working with him, am I right?

Alexis: I do!

Me: Alexis, thank you for being on the Phile again. In the last two years I have been asking random questions thanks to Tabletopics. What one fear would you like to conquer?

Alexis: I suspect I have a subconscious fear of math. So I'd like to conquer that. I would love to be able to do higher level math equations, like beyond calculus.

Me: I suck at math myself. Anyway, thanks so much for coming back. Please come back when your next project comes out, and maybe I can interview both you and Rob. Plug your websites and take care. All the best, keep in touch!

Alexis: You're welcome. Thank you for inviting me back. I look forward to coming back. Yes, a dual interview would be fun. We'll keep in touch! Cheers!,,

Well, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and Alexis White. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Ethan Gold and his brother Phile Alum Ari Gold. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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