Sunday, August 16, 2015

Pheaturing Self Tort

Hey there, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? I hope you're better than the silly jokester who got a tattoo so hilarious that his wife left him. No, it's not me. Stuart Valentino of Hampshire, England got drunk with his friend and decided to get a tattoo of a six inch penis on his thigh. Just so you know who we're dealing with here, Stuart is a perpetual prankster who once made a video where he ate cat poop. It was fake, but his wife Samantha hated it. She also hated it when her husband, who is a father of four, came home with a penis tattooed on his leg. It would cost £1,000 to remove, and due to the image's obscene nature, he couldn't even take the kids to the pool without offending everyone, especially his wife. Sick of his childish ways, she decided the inked dong was the last straw, and Samantha kicked Stuart out of the house. Stuart said, "I had no idea a joke could ruin my life," and also "I've been a dickhead." At least he's being honest with himself about what he is, which hopefully is the first step to getting his life back, and stop acting like a wanker.  A woman ran a marathon without a tampon to bring attention to... oh fine, here's a photo.

Okay, now can we all just be grown-ups about this? The night before Kiran Gandhi... a Harvard Business School graduate and former drummer for M.I.A. and Thievery Corporation ran the London Marathon back in April, she realized she was going to have the first day of her period during the race. The 26 year old first time marathoner was stressed about cramping and bleeding and the thought of a wad of cotton chafing her lady parts for 26.2 miles. Gandhi was running the race with a few friends to raise money for a charity called Breast Cancer Care. She decided to add another social mission to her run: to fight the stigma of periods and bring attention to the many women around the world without access to feminine hygiene products (a horrible euphemism probably made up by some man afraid to say the phrase "stuff to soak up yer period blood"). She achieved that by "bleeding freely" and letting her period blood run down the inside of her legs. I wasn't really on board with this until she used the phrase "bleed freely"... doesn't that sound fun? And dangerous. Damn, that puts Pheidippides collapsing and dying upon his arrival in Athens to shame... dude wasn't even dripping blood the whole time. Gandhi finished the course in four hours, 49 minutes, and 11 seconds, but I'm guessing her time is not going to be the main thing she remembers from this race.  A Missouri man brought his snake in a restaurant and claimed it was a service animal, which is impossible since service animals can only be dogs. Also, your service animal should not be able to swallow other service animals whole, expanding their belly to accommodate the outlined shape of the dog it just ate. He was surprised when the manager informed him he was not allowed to have it in the restaurant. It would be great to have seen his reaction when someone actually read the ADA guidelines explicitly stating that only dogs qualify as service animals. The winning question would be to ask him how he got his snake to wear that bright little vest telling people it's a service animal. Trick question, sir! Snakes can't wear vests. Allowing snake owners to claim them as service animals would really begin a slippery slope of what helps with depression. He could try to eat in a restaurant that requires coat and tie wearing just a leather vest, or claim that his rusty old Corvette is allowed to park in spaces reserved for those with physical disabilities.  A guy was arrested for giving his ex too many Facebook likes, and for being a complete psycho. This is a good example of a story that seems crazy at first, and then becomes a less fun kind of crazy the more you read. According to Northeastern Pennsylvania's Times Leader, 26-year-old Justin Bellanco was arraigned on Tuesday for violating a no-contact restraining order filed by his ex-girlfriend, April Holland. The form of contact was Facebook, still the best social network for creeping on your ex. Bellanco had clicked "like" on 22 photos and videos on Holland's Facebook page since the restraining order was filed on August 4th. This guy didn't even wait a week! He should have also been charged with looking thirsty. Also, I'm not sure why Holland didn't just block him, especially considering why she got the restraining order in the first place. A judge granted the order, which forbids Bellanco from contacting Holland for a year, after she reported that he had been stalking and harassing her and her friends. He even threatened the shoot her in the kneecap to watch her suffer, which is one of the classic relationship red flags. Holland also reported that she saw Bellanco lurking around City Hall after her hearing. So really, Facebook is the least creepy part of this story. In an ironic twist, court records show that in April 2014, Bellanco obtained a PFA (protection from abuse order) against Holland, claiming that she choked him during a domestic dispute. That PFA expired in April 2015, at which point he wasted no time in abusing her again. I really think both of them need to move on. I recommend Internet dating.  An expert found the 6 words women hate the most, and they're uncomfortably vaginal. I feel like I'm treading on dangerous ground here, but there's a pattern in these words that can't be denied. There are certain words that just make you cringe. Other words are more universally loathed, either because of how they sound or what they represent. In the interest of educating their customer base, underwear maker Knix Wear conducted a study to find the words that women hate the most. With the help of University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman, they surveyed 500 women to find out their most hated words. Speaking as a man, their results made me understand women even less than I do now. Here are the top 6 words in ascending order of revulsion: 6. Flap 5. Curd 4. Chunky 3. Panties 2. Squirt 1. Moist I'm not imagining this, right? There's a strong connection to vaginas in at least four, possibly five of these words. Language psychologist Paul Thibodeau of Oberlin College was more diplomatic about it, telling Yahoo Health, "The common denominator seems to be disgust, either toward bodily functions or sex." But I don't see "prong" on that list. Coming from an outsider's perspective, all these words seem much more closely related to female sexuality. Are women disgusted by their own bodies? Let me be clear: I'm not making a statement here, this is a genuine question. I really don't know what I'm talking about, but this is disturbing to me. If they are, I think they shouldn't be. Women's bodies are great! Every bit of them! Even the flaps. Oh boy, I'm in trouble. Moving on...
Did you see the latest picture of Donald Trump?

What is he thinking?   You know all about that Tom Brady deflate ball business, right? You wouldn't be surprised about it of you saw a pic from his kid's birthday party.

That's so stupid.  Alright, it's summer and all through summer I am showing you different bikinis or bathing suits you might find at the beach or by your local pool. Well, I have the last one to show you here.

Yes! Brilliant!

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know.

Love is a feeling of strong affection, but not that strong, unless that's what you're feeling too.

The 38th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

David will be a guest on the Phile next Friday.

Today's guest is an Australian music legend whose CD "Tortology" is available on iTunes. It's such a pleasure to have him here on the Phile. Please welcome... Self Tort.

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

Self: This is weird, I sound like I am talking to myself. It’s a pleasure to be invited.

Me: I was gonna ask you what is the origin of your name, and then I realized Self Tort, like self taught. Very clever. Your parents must of had a sense of humor. It is your real name, isn't it?

Self: My parents showed their sense of humour by giving me the middle name of Keavil. Actually, Self Tort, strange to relate, is a pseudonym. I am actually a lawyer by day, and a “tort” is in legal terms a “civil wrong." Although I had some piano and guitar lessons I’m far from classically trained so the pun actually works on a number of levels. I wish I’d come up with the idea myself, but it was donated to me by a patron of the pub I played at on my first night as a “one man band."

Me: Self, where are you from, sir? You're Australian, right?

Self: Born and raised in Sydney, Australia.

Me: Have you lived in Australia all your life?

Self: Yes. Although I’ve loved the opportunities I’ve had to travel, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Me: You are the third guest I had here from Australia, but the first male. Congrats. Are you a fan of Keith Urban?

Self: That’s quite an honour. To be honest I’ve never really had the chance to listen to Keith Urban. Not really my style of music.

Me: Has anyone ever told you you look like Kenny Rogers or George Lucas?

Self: I’ve been getting the Kenny Rogers thing for years now. The responses have varied between “Hey, check out Kenny Rogers” to the more subtle approach by a German backpacker who sidled up to me at a bar and said, “You've got to know ven to hold them, know ven to fold them." I have actually written an unpublished article about the plight of being a Kenny Rogers’ lookalike. It’s in the blog section of my website, if anyone’s interested. When Kenny turned his beard into a goatee rather than full beard I was hoping he’d confess that he had done that to stop people asking him if he was Self Tort. I haven’t had any George Lucas comments, but just checked him out on Google and can see where you’re coming from. Of late I’ve been compared to an Australian performer Rolf Harris. He’s better known in England and Australia than in the states, but he had a Christmas song in the sixties about Santa having to use kangaroos to pull his sleigh (“Six White Boomers”) and had a hit in the early 70s with “Two Little Boys." Given that Rolf’s about 25 years older than I am, I think I’d prefer the Kenny or George Lucas lines.

Me: Yeah, I forgot about Rolf. I know of him very well. Let's talk about your CD "Tortology" which I downloaded from iTunes and really like. This is our second release, right?

Self: Yes, I released my first CD “N.I.C” in 2006. That title actually relates to my legal practice as, when I’m not at work, my clerk fills in the diary with the letters “N.I.C” to signify that I’m “not in Chambers," although most people think it means “not in court." It’s also been confused as a reference to my son, Nick. Thanks for downloading from iTunes, by the way.

Me: You're welcome. Did you write all the songs on it?

Self: I was the sole writer of 11 of the tracks on the "Tortology" CD. The track “Dark Eyes” was co-written with a female lyricist that I’ve become friends with over the Internet, by the name of Mel Barnett. She’s based in the U.K. She had the lyrics written and asked me to provide the music. That track also contains a tenor sax solo from another dear and talented friend, Alexis Van Eeckout from Belgium whom I also met over the net. The other co-write is “A Paris Tale” which was inspired by a short article I read many years ago in part of the Murdoch press. Unfortunately, the song had got to about 5 minutes in length and I was only half way through the story, so decided to call up the services of a “rapper” I’d met (yes, again over the net), to speed things along, so Joey Nickerson from Europe contributed some of the rap section lyrically.

Me: Well done on putting your name in the opening song, "Self Sufficient", Self. Was that done on purpose?

Self: No, the writing of the song’s title was an accident, but I think that the reference to “Self” in the title probably swayed me to make it the first song on the CD.

Me: Where was the album recorded, Self?

Self: I’ve done all of my solo recording with Stewart Havill who has a home studio on the north side of Sydney. I got to meet him as a result of us both being members of the Songwriting Society of Australia. I originally just intended to record about 3 songs that I had completed at that time. But Stewart and I seemed to click pretty well together and after a few sessions I felt I could get an album completed. It’s got to the stage now where I have a regular booking with Stewart every three weeks. That’s an incentive for me to keep writing. Stewart’s got a great ear, and we seem to complement each other. He’s willing to make suggestions, but is by no means pushy, and it’s worked well now for, I guess, about 7-8 years now. The final mastering was done by Don Bartley of Benchmark Mastering. Don is an absolute genius and has worked with some of the great names in the music world. To be honest, by the time the CD had got to the mastering stage I was pretty much sick of listening to the tracks on it, but Don has somehow injected some magic into them and I can now still listen to them without groaning.

Me: How long have you been recording and playing, Self?

Self: There was always music in my family. We had a piano that I used to fiddle around on as a kid. My parents sent me for piano lessons, but by that stage I’d have rather being playing football at the park with my mates so didn’t take it very far. I picked up guitar in the last year or so of school and in my early years of uni set up a band Sirrah with a friend who was a drummer. We played for about 4-5 years. In the 1990s I formed another band Mid Life Crisis in which I played keyboard and did some vocals. We were basically a cover band.

Me: And when did you first start to write music?

Self: In Sirrah, in the 70s I had written or co-written about half a dozen songs which we recorded. I didn’t sing in that band, but played lead guitar. I’ve played around with writing over the years but didn’t get serious about it till the late 90s. I wrote a song called “Mid Life Crisis” for that band and we used to do it live. It ended up being a track on my earlier “N.I.C” CD. I did a couple of songwriting courses in the late 90s and joined the Songwriting Society of Australia with a view to trying to improve my craft. I think though that having access to Stewart’s talent and equipment has been the real catalyst to my getting serious with songwriting.

Me: You perform as a one man band somewhere, right? Where do you perform?

Self: I perform at the Mortdale Hotel which is in the southern suburbs of Sydney. It’s actually my local watering hole. Mid Life Crisis had started to taper off. It was difficult for us to get together to practice, and, as a result when we performed it was always the same old songs. I somehow wangled my may into playing a couple of songs at the Mortdale Hotel one night and the publican liked it and offered me a residency one night per month. That was in, from memory, 2000 and I’m still doing it. Because of my “day work” I don’t actively promote the one-man band concept too much, but generally pick up a couple of other gigs a month, and I also do a fair bit of solo acoustic performances of my original songs in hotels and clubs in the inner city of Sydney.

Me: As a one man band, what instruments do you play, and do you do cover songs or your own songs?

Self: I use midi or mp3 backing tracks and do the vocals either accompanied by guitar or keyboard, depending on the song. On most nights I will do three guitar-based brackets and one keyboard bracket, but that can vary depending on the crowd and on requests. Most people in pubs want to hear what they know, so a large part of my repertoire is covers ranging from the early days of rock and roll, through the 60s and 70s and up to present day material. I do, though, throw in a sprinkling of my original material, and it’s pleasing when someone requests one of my own.

Me: On your albums, do you play all the instruments yourself?

Self: I generally start by working out the structure of the song and use midi to create a basic backing track. In general I leave the programming of the drums to Stewart and either he or I, or a combination of the two will work out the bass lines. I perform the vocals, harmonies, guitar and keyboards in the studio.

Me: I have to ask you about the other project you have called In Cahoots, is that a band or an album? You perform with other people on that, right? Who else is on it or in it with you?

Self: It’s a forthcoming album of co-writes. Since I started recording I have found a number of Internet sites where you can upload your music, receive reviews and provide reviews and responses to other artists. They become quite social communities and I’ve become good friends with a number of musicians on these sites. At one stage an Internet band was formed with a guitarist from Iceland, a keyboard player from the USA and myself on vocals. I’ve also co-written a number of songs with Mel, who wrote the lyrics for "Dark Eyes," with another British lyricist, Carol Douglas, and with a great lyricist Lex Zaleta from Tennessee. Generally these co-writes arise when either Mel, Carol or Lex come up with some lyrics and ask me to write the music. Although in one case I had music already written but had hit a mental block for the lyrics and asked Lex to help me out. I’ve also recorded two instrumentals with Alexis on sax, plus a number of one-off collaborations. I’m planning to put these together on a CD to be called “In Cahoots." With the exception of Alexis on sax, the playing on the CD will be me.

Me: Self, what music did you grow up listening to? Are their any bands you are into now?

Self: As the youngest in my family I had the benefit of soaking up the music that my elder brother and sister were into... early rock and roll and the early British Invasion. I love the music of the late 60s, early 70s particularly from the U.K. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, The Who, Cream, Hendrix etc. were huge influences on me. In terms of writing I was influenced by Jack Bruce of Cream, Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, Ray Davies of the Kinks and Pete Townsend. I also admire the work of Joe Cocker, Van Morrisson, Peter Gabriel, Elvis Costello and Richard Thomson. I really am out of touch with current music trends. Radio in Australia seems to me to consist of greatest hits and classics or music that doesn’t grab me. I enjoy the indie music that I pick up from internet sites rather than listening to commercial radio.

Me: Self, do you ever come to to the States to perform? Any chance you'll play in Florida?

Self: I had my first visit to the States in 2010. There was a get-together of members of an Internet site that I belong to in Atlanta and I had a ball with a pick-up band comprising a Canadian drummer, an ex-pat Aussie now living in the states, and a keyboard player from the U.K. It was a real blast and there is talk of a reprise in 2012. Unfortunately, I was highly disorganised in planning the rest of the trip but had the chance to play a few open-mic nights and got up with some bands in Beale Street. I am hoping to return in 2016 and intend to plan the venture more carefully to get some solid gigging done. I didn’t make Florida in 2010 so would love to make up for that next year, so if you know of some venues that might be interested, please let me know.

Me: I will. Thanks so much for being here on the Phile, sir. I hope it was fun. Do you have a website you'd love to plug?

Self: The pleasure was mine, and I really want to thank you for your support of independent musicians. My website can be found at If people want to join my newsletter they can get access to exclusive free downloads. I’m still in the process of uploading tracks for sale, but the tracks for “N.I.C” and “Tortology” are all available via iTunes, Amazon etc. A physical copy of the CD can be purchased from

Me: All the best, and please come back soon. Take care. 

Self: Thanks again for the opportunity. 

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Self Tort for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Friday with author David Ackert. 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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