Monday, November 30, 2015

Pheaturing Mary Jennings

Hi there, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. Not just any Monday... but Cyber Monday. You know who hates Cyber Monday? Cyber Garfield. I hope the hype of Cyber Monday helps you forget it's Monday. You know, I wish there was a holiday deal on hiring someone to delete all the emails I receive about holiday deals. I hope shopping on Cyber Monday doesn't take too much time away from your regular schedule of wasting the day on the Internet... like reading this blog. Anyway, enjoy your one day of non-violent holiday sale shopping. What else is going on?  Ahmed Mohamed, the 14 year old Texas high school student who was arrested after teachers mistook his homemade clock for a bomb, is asking for $15 million in damages. His attorney wrote two letters... one asking the city for $10 million and another asking the school district for $5 million... and in both letters, threatened a civil suit if the demands are not met. As with most of these types of suits, they are probably not expecting to get the full $15 million, but still, that's a lot of moolah. The letters lay out all the different (and illegal) ways school administrators and police mistreated Ahmed before and after he was arrested. They note the lasting psychological damage the whole ordeal has had on him, in addition to the negative effects it has had on the family, which has faced a lot of Islamophobia and public abuse since the incident and now fears for its security. The school district and city are aware of the letters, but have not responded to them yet. They have 60 days to do so, at which the civil suit will commence.  Kobe Bryant, a man from Philadelphia currently working in Los Angeles, has announced that he is retiring from his job at the age of 37, after 20 years. His job just so happens to be as shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he announced his retirement in a way just as dramatic as scoring 81 points against the Raptors in 2006. Bryant wrote a touching poem, that was distributed to fans and posted online. In "The Players' Tribune," he writes in verse his heroic origin story. Starting as a little boy in Philly, taking shots with his dad's tube socks at the age of six, into a relationship with basketball in which "[they] gave each other all that they have." The poem is very heartfelt and well-written, and Bryant truly might have a career in poetry and literature ahead of him. Brontë, Byron, Bryant: These are the poets' names to remember.  Sometimes it's just so hard to figure out what kids really want for Christmas... you ask them and ask them, but they never give you something clear, like a list with one gift request in 16 different languages. Not one little girl, who got straight to the point... over and over and over.

She wants a pony. Right?  This is a crazy story... A 19 year old boy has figured out how to manipulate women through their periods. And Twitter. Luke Buchy, a 19 year old college student/entrepreneur from Ohio, started a delivery service that sends women comfort items when they get their period, and it's weirdly successful. The service is called The PMS Package and here's how it works: Customers sign up online, giving the company their credit card number and a rough estimate of their menstrual cycle. They then choose between three different box types. The Mini Package is $13 a month, the Featured Package is $25 a month, and the Executive Box (Oooohhh! Ahhhh!) is $35 a month. Whenever a customer's period is on the horizon, they are shipped a box filled with fun, "girly" items such as stuffed animals, nail polish, candy, and snacks. While the company isn't making a profit yet, they're doing pretty well. They have four employees... all under 20 years of age and 111,000 Twitter followers. So far, they've shipped out 4,000 boxes, and plan to keep expanding. Right now, they work out of Buchy's dorm room and his parents' basement, a few hours away from campus. According to "Cosmopolitan,' the reason the business is successful is because Buchy was bestowed with a very strange, specific talent by the social media gods: The ability to appeal to young women on Twitter. Buchy's explanation of his service is basically that the box serves as a subscription boyfriend. s he an unlikely ally to women? Or is this a patronizing attempt to exploit them for profit? More importantly, can you sign up for a free trial box, get free snacks, and then cancel your subscription? Even if you're a dude? I mean, I already get Loot Crate and the new Star Wars Smuggler's Bounty so one more bix shouldn't make a difference.  There is a new video challenge on the Internet, and it is the condom challenge. It's a little bit like the ice bucket challenge, in that it requires assistance from a friend and a shower to avoid making a mess. And that's where the similarities end. A condom full of water is dropped onto someone's head, and it then sits there as if the recipient had a fish bowl on their head. That's it. No one donates money to researching cures for a disease. Nothing good comes from this. This is NOT SAFE and you should NOT try it. Just sit back and watch other reckless adventurers try it instead. Here's what it kinda looks like...

And there you have it. Once this trend is over, everyone can go back to watching water balloon tricks in which people have their heads safely exposed, or watch dogs pop giant water balloons instead.  So, this past Friday was Black Friday and there were some weird and strange ads this year...

Hot gifts for centaurs? Huh? And then there was this one...

I think Target is losing their mind. I love that bloody store though.  So, did you hear Disney is making Toy Story 4? I have an exclusive screen shot from it, kids.

I heard it's gonna be a love story this time.  Hey, the Phile has a new sponsor I forgot to tell you about.

That is a real product, people.  Have you seen the movie poster for the new Captain America: Civil War movie? If you haven't, here it is...

When I saw it for the first time I thought it looked vaguely familiar. And then it hit me...

Haha. That's a great album by the way. Well, it's Cyber Monday so I think it's time once again or the pheature...

This way, the cashier won't judge you for being a single, childless 31 year old who buys frozen chicken nuggets in bulk.

Hahaha. This is an easy one. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay,  it's Monday so it's time to talk football with my friend Jeff.

Me: Jeff, welcome back. It's been awhile since we talked football. Last time you were here we talked about your book. Anyway, did you have a good Thanksgiving?

Jeff: Always good to be back here on the Phile. It is a shame that when I was on, there wasn't Phootball Talk too. It would have been like "Saturday Night Live" when the host is also the musical act. My Thanksgiving was interesting, to put it mildly. I had a good one though. Hope you did too.

Me: I did. So, have you heard about this whole color thing that blind people get confused with who is playing?

Jeff: Yeah, the Thursday Night game last week had color blind people going crazy because the jerseys were different and it affected how the viewers saw it.

Me: Okay, so, any other NFL news? Romo was hurt pretty bad, but Eli is indestructible. Haha.

Jeff: Romo came back and got hurt again. He's now out for the season, taking Dallas's chance at the playoffs with him. The Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham is hurt for the season as well. This season we have seen a lot of top players getting injured. Eli can definitely take a beating. That's for sure.

Me: Alright, how did we do two weeks ago, Jeff?

Jeff: Last week both the Steelers and the Giants had bye weeks, so neither of us were able to gain with a victory point there. In fact we both went 1-1, so your lead is still five points over me.

Me: Yay! Let's do this weeks picks. By the way, there's not gonna be an entry next Monday as I'll be on vacation. I say Dolphins by one and Saints by six.

Jeff: We should find a way to make up last week and next week since we will have lost 2 weeks. Two weeks opportunity for me to gain on you! Or two weeks for you to stretch your lead. It works both ways.

Me: That's a good point. So, what do you pick?

Jeff: My picks are Chiefs by three points and the Cardinals by five points.

Me: Okay, I'll see you back here in two weeks, Jeff.

Jeff: See you in two weeks!

Terms and Conditions
I could write literally anything here and you wouldn't read it so I decided not to bother.

Today's pheatured guest is a fantastic singer and musician whose latest CD "Metamorphosis" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Mary Jennings.

Me: Hi, Mary, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Mary: Thanks so much for having me! I am doing great!

Me: You're from Nashville, am I right? Have you lived there all your life?

Mary: I was born in Nashville but moved to Gainesville, GA with my mom when I was in second grade. I moved back to Nashville for a couple of years after college in South Carolina, then lived in NYC for about 7 years. Now I am back home again in Nashville.

Me: I thought your new CD "Metamorphosis" was your first, but you have been recording for a few years. How many releases do you have out?

Mary: Oh, I have been recording music since 2001! I have 6 albums and 1 EP.

Me: How has your music changed over the years, Mary?

Mary: My music has evolved with me. My first two albums are what I consider to be therapy albums. They helped me get through the loss of my mom and taught me how to express myself in a healthy way. Since then, my albums have evolved with my musical tastes, my knowledge of songwriting and have simply followed my life. With every album, my music has grown with me.

Me: Did you wanna be a singer all your life?

Mary: I have wanted to be many things throughout my life but the one thing that always stuck was being a musician. It gives me more joy than any other job I have ever had.

Me: Before you were a musician you were a teacher, an aerobics instructor and a paranormal investigator. Out of all the jobs, is being a musician your favorite or do you miss the other jobs you had?

Mary: As I stated before, music is where my heart is. I loved teaching and have done a lot of mentoring through the years. I taught aerobics in college for a little extra money. The paranormal investigating is more of a hobby than a job and I still do it today in my spare time. With every job I have had throughout the years, music has always been there too. It is my absolute passion.

Me: I have to talk about the paranormal thing for a minute. You have to read my friend Jeff Trelewicz's books about the paranormal. Have you been into that scary shit for a long time?

Mary: I haven't read Jeff's book but now I want to!! And yes, I have always been into scary shit. I have been watching scary movies since I was 7 and the paranormal has always fascinated me. The paranormal research isn't about being scared for me though, even though it does scare me often. It is more about curiosity of the mysteries of our universe. Wow, that sounded super hokey but it's true!

Me: Do you like scary movies? I don't. What is your favorite horror movie, Mary?

Mary: YES!! Times a MILLION! I LOOOOOOVE horror movies. I have about 400 in my collection. I have been watching them as a kid and in high school, I would often host horror movie marathons at my house. In fact, it is a tradition that I still carry on today. You say you don't like horror movies but I feel sure I could find at least one that you might enjoy! I love a good challenge. Choosing a favorite horror movie for me is almost impossible. I love so many for different reasons. Some of my tops would be The Exorcist, Suspiria, The Ring, Insidious, and Amityville Horror. However, if you asked me tomorrow I may have a whole other list.

Me: Didn't you have a song in a horror movie? What was that movie?

Mary: I did! My song "The Darkness" plays in the end credits of Devil Seed. It can be seen on Netflix.

Me: That must of been a big deal for you, am I right?

Mary: That was a big day for me! I mean my song in a horror movie?! WINNING!

Me: And didn't you have a song in the TV show "Dance Moms"? That is scary in itself. Haha. How did your song get to be in that show?

Mary: I actually have had two songs in "Dance Moms." The Candy Apple team danced to "Move" and Maddie Ziegler did her solo to "Loose Cannon." As much as I don't like the behavior of some of the adults in that show, the kids are incredible dancers and it is really inspiring to see them put their art to mine. I have loved it!

Me: Okay, let's talk about your new album "Metamorphosis." How did that song get to be the album title?

Mary: This entire album was inspired by a lot of change in my life. Since "Collapse, Collide," I got married, moved, went from my 20s into my 30s, suffered a lot of losses in my family and so on. Every song on the album has to do with some major change in my life or in the lives of those around me that helped me grow into the person I am now. It seemed appropriate to call it "Metamorphosis" since the whole album was born from change and evolution.

Me: You have a beautiful smile but your look so serious on the album cover. You are still photogenic though. Do you like having your pic taken?

Mary: Thanks for the smile comment! I don't like having my photo taken at all. I don't mind candids so much but I feel awkward when I have to pose. My friend and album art designer, Allie Oliver-Burns, knows this very well about me as she has taken tons of pictures for my music. She suggested I just take the picture myself and let her edit it. That's exactly what I did. I took my camera, a remote, and went to the only white wall in my house which happens to be a closet and did my own little photo shoot. I couldn't be happier with what she did with it.

Me: So, your music is very dark... the lyrics and everything. Are you in a dark place when you write?

Mary: I think every person has dark moments in life and I am certainly no exception to the rule. My music has always been an outlet for me. It is my way of untangling any discomfort, sadness, or any melancholic moment in my life so that I can be a happy and functioning person day to day. It is my therapy.

Me: I lost my parents in 2000 from cancer... you lost your mom in 2001, right? How did that change your attitude on life?

Mary: I'm so sorry to hear that. Yes, I lost my mom in 2001. She was my first real loss. I even had all of my grandparents up until two years ago. It's tough to lose the most important person in your life first. No one can prepare you for that. It happened so suddenly and it made me realize that, as cliched as it sounds, life can be short and you shouldn't waste your days doing something you hate. That jumpstarted my musical path for sure.

Me: What would she think of your music? What does your dad think?

Mary: My mom was always supportive of my music before she passed so I am sure she would be into it now. My dad is great and very supportive of my music. He is the one that helped record my very first album. He is a cardiologist now but he played bass in a band in high school and has the same musical love that I have. He even played bass with me for several shows. I would say that makes him pretty supportive.

Me: You come from a musical family, am I right? Who in your family is musical like you?

Mary: My dad's side of the family is very musical. As I mentioned before, my dad plays bass. My grandfather is a wonderful singer and his father was too! I actually have recordings of both of them which is pretty impressive considering the technology back them. My grandmom was an amazing pianist. In fact, the piano I write on everyday belonged to her.

Me: You started to play piano at a young age. How old were you and did you choose the piano?

Mary: I started playing the piano when I was big enough to crawl up on the stool. Everyone in my family seemed to have a piano. It didn't matter if I was with my mom or my dad or either set of grandparents, there was always a piano around. To me, it was as normal to me as a sofa or a coffee table. And no matter which house I was in, the piano was never off limits. That's what got me hooked on piano.

Me: Who did you listen to growing up?

Mary: I listened to all kinds of music growing up. At a young age, I got really into celtic and new age music but also loved Michael Jackson, The Pointer Sisters, and Madonna. By the time I hit middle school, I learned about Tori Amos and I was hooked. That got me on the path to other female powerhouses like Sarah McLachlan, Fiona Apple, Beth Orton, etc. By the time I hit college, it was all about Jump Little Children, Travis, and Imogen Heap.

Me: You have been compared to Florence and the Machine. I can see you opening for her. Are you a fan of hers?

Mary: I am a huge fan of Florence and the Machine. She is one of the newer female powerhouses that I admire so much! I love her music and theatrics!

Me: I have to ask you about the video for "Home." Where was it filmed?

Mary: It was filmed at Percy Priest Lake in Nashville, Tennessee on October 28th of 2014.

Me: You went into that lake. I have a screen shot of the video here...

Me: The water looked cold, was it?

Mary: I did indeed! Luckily it wasn't too cold at that point. It was a very overcast and drizzly day so that helped it look a lot colder than it was.

Me: Was it your idea to go in there?

Mary: My director, Anna Haas, had the idea to do that. We knew that was going to be part of the story from the very beginning.

Me: Did you choreograph the dancers in the video, Mary?

Mary: All I did was tell Anna that I wanted the video to have an apocalyptic vibe. She did all the choreography and came up with the story.

Me: I have to ask you about No Sass Creations. You design and sell bolos, am I right?

Mary: I sure do!

Me: How did you get into that, Mary? Do you wear bolos yourself?

Mary: Well, my great grandfather wore bolo ties a lot and I have always found them to be a unique accessory. I found one at a garage sale about 2 years ago, and decided to incorporate it into my wardrobe. Shortly thereafter, I started making my own out of antique pieces of jewelry. My manager, Nick, at the time told me I should start selling them at shows instead t-shirts or stickers. So I did, and I was really surprised by the response. By February of 2014, I set up my Etsy shop and created No Sass Creations.

Me: I used to wear bolos in the 90s. I thought I was hip. Haha. I'll try to find a pic of me wearing one.

Mary: I would LOVE to see that! They are definitely hip accessories!

Me: Where do you sell them? On Etsy you said, right?

Mary: I sell them on my website (, Etsy, at shows, and will even do booths at festivals.

Me: Okay, so, what is next for you? Any tours planned or new recordings?

Mary: I have done a fair amount of touring this year and will continue to do shows as they come up. I will be releasing "Metamorphose" in January which is a remix album of four songs from "Metamorphosis." Two different producers did remixing to show how even these songs can metamorphose. I am also going into the studio to work on a live in the studio looping album.

Me: Cool. Thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back again soon and continued success. Go ahead and mention your website.

Mary: Thank you so much for having me and for all of the great questions! I really enjoyed this! My website is

Me: All the best, Mary, I hope this was fun.

Mary: This was a ton of fun and thank you again so much!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz and of course Mary Jennings. Like I said earlier I'll be on vacation up on Long Island next weekend so the Phile will be back on December 13th with Phile Alum Mark Baxter. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

You can't tell but I'm wearing a bolo here. Haha.

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

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