Monday, November 9, 2015

Pheaturing Phile Alum Al Abbazia

Hey there, good afternoon, and welcome to the Phile. How are you? Your sobriety has truly demonstrated to me that people don't need alcohol to be annoying. You know what I'm talking about.
It seems like as long as trick or treating has existed, parents have worried about strangers giving their kids Halloween candy that's been drugged or filled with razor blades or just straight-up poisoned. Just this year, there was a big scare about (pricey, pricey) ecstasy showing up in kids' pillowcases or pumpkins or whatever digital eBags they use to collect candy in these days. So people were ready to believe it when a man in Fort Worth, Texas claimed his son was given a Rice Krispy Treat with a razor blade in it. Parents freaked out. Posts spread all over Facebook warning people to check their kids' candy. And, obviously, the police looked into it. Detectives spoke with the resident who denied any knowledge of the incident and provided evidence contrary to what detectives were told by the child’s father as to what treats were given out. Under questioning, the man admitted that he put the razor blade in the treat himself, which is an awful thing to do both because it scared scores of people and because it ruined a perfectly good Rice Krispy Treat. They've issued a warrant for the man's arrest, but they should have suspected him as the culprit in the first place, because that candy-tampering pretty much never happens. According to the Internet sleuths at Snopes despite long-held beliefs that Halloween candy tampering is both commonplace and regularly results in harm to children, reports of actual attempts to do so are virtually non-existent (or based on half-truths). Hopefully, this man will get caught, because he perpetrated the greatest crime of all... keeping kids from eating their candy.  Hazel Abel, an 86 year old great-grandmother from Washington, was recently kidnapped by her own great-grandson. Abel was getting ready to watch "Dancing with the Stars" on Monday night when she got a knock at the door. It was her 16 year old great-grandson, Dylan, along with his 15 year old friend Billy and a 14 year-old girl. They hit her over the head, bound and gagged her, and stuffed her in the trunk of her own car, which they then stole, along with Abel's purse and a butcher knife from her kitchen. She begged them not to hurt her dog, Tessa, who was placed in the trunk alongside her. She was in the car for six hours, during which time they only stopped once, in order to get gas. According to Abel, they "played some really crappy music" during the trip. They finally parked at a Walmart to get toiletries, leaving her in the trunk. She decided that it was now or never. She undid her bindings (which were poorly applied... according to Abel, the kidnappers "didn't go to Boy Scouts" or anything), reached around, found the emergency trunk release, climbed out, ran into the gardening section of the store, and got the employees to help her. They called the police, and gave her clothing, food, and water while she waited. The teenagers ran from the store when they saw Abel with an employee, but were arrested at a gas station a few hours later. Dylan already had a criminal past before this incident. In 2013, he pled guilty to residential burglary. He also attended a "juvenile justice program" after leaving high school. It was clear that he wanted her car and her money... he had already stolen $60 from her the week before, and he was angry when he later came back for more and only found $2. It wasn't just about money, though; discoveries made after the arrest justify Abel's suspicion that the teens were going to kill her, since they were, uh, planning to kill her. The children are in custody and will be tried as adults for multiple felonies. Abel is shaken by the traumatic incident, and told reporters that she'll "never understand it or accept it." She is thankful to be alive and uninjured, though, and grateful that Tessa is doing okay as well. She'd also like to know if anybody DVR'd that episode of "Dancing with the Stars."  "ABC 13" reports that 11 year old Makayla Fallaw of Tomball, Texas has been kicked off her cheerleading team after refusing to straighten her hair. Even though she's been cheering since she was four and can do back flips, her curly hair is unacceptable at Woodlands Elite Cheer, which is run by Kevin Tonner, a guy with this facial hair. According to Makayla's mom, Jenny, she found out after her daughter joined the team that she'd be required to straighten her hair during competitions. "Just a few weeks ago is the first time I had heard about a special hairstyle. I felt like I might make my daughter feel like her hair is not good enough because she's not like other girls... It would destroy her hair, so I wanted to explain to them my reasoning." Here's the hair mom is taking a stand for...

After Jenny emailed Tonner, they had a meeting to discuss the situation and Tonner didn't like momma's tone. He explained why he gave Makayla the axe, and um, it has nothing to do with her hair, okay? "When you come into the sport, you understand there is make up to it. There's hair to it. We were trying to make the exception. We were trying to find a compromise and a happy medium. And she wasn't willing to have a compromise. She was very defensive... It wasn't about hair. It was about we don't want this negativity on our team." Tonner also noted not all cheer teams actually straighten their hair, but Makayla's had voted on the style for competitions. Makayla must have been out that day.  It's Bieber Week at "Ellen." While that sounds like a middle school spirit committee stunt, it's actually just Justin Bieber singing on the show for five consecutive days. To start things off right, Ellen DeGeneres sat Bieber down and asked the pop start about the hard news that penetrated the internet... the paparazzi photo of his penis. While Biebs was in a bungalow in Bora Bora (say that 10 times fast), a paparazzo in a boat snapped a picture of him naked. His manager, Scooter Braun, called him up and said, "Yo, I hate to tell you this, but... your penis is on the Internet." "Stop, you're making me blush, dude," he says, not about the penis pic, but about the bikini-clad lady who was in the other end of the photo. Bieber kept insisting that they weren't dating. Ellen was confused why he would be naked around someone he wasn't dating. but the Biebs didn't want to be the one to tell her about Friends With Benefits. Meanwhile, his attitude about the penis pic itself was pretty laid-back. I don't care what you say about Justin, he's a Foghat fan...

If you think raising your kids religious makes them nicer, science has bad news for you. A new report has found that children from religious households are meaner than their secular counterparts. These findings were the result of an international study conducted by seven universities across six different nations. They were described in a paper titled "The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism Across the World," published in "Current Biology" last week. The study is meant to challenge the idea that believing in God is necessary for having a sense of morality... which 53% of adults believe to be true. Researchers got to the conclusion by putting children ages 5-12 together in groups and making them participate in two different experiments. The first experiment involved giving them stickers but telling them there were not enough to go around for everyone. Whether or not they shared was then observed. The second experiment involved gauging childrens' reactions to a video of children "pushing and bumping" one another. In both experiments, the students from religious households were "less altruistic than children from non-religious households," while the children who had been exposed to religion the most "exhibit[ed] the greatest negative relations." There are some minor but important clarifications to the study's conclusions. According to the report, "the numbers of Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic and other children [observed] were too small to be statistically valid," so the study really found that secular children are "nicer" than just Christian and Muslim children, not religious children as a whole... Christians and Muslims make up about two thirds of all religious people in the world, however. The countries studied were the U.S., Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, and South Africa, so the findings only hold water if you consider this grouping to be representative of the world's religious population, and if you accept that the experiments represent these children's kindness as a whole, because correlation does not mean causation. Specifically, the study found that children from religious backgrounds were "more judgmental," "more punitive," and "less altruistic," than non-religious kids. Muslim kids considered "interpersonal harm" to be meaner than the Christian kids perceived it. They did, however, exhibit more punitive behavior than their Christian counterparts. On the other hand, the parents of the religious children were more likely than secular parents to consider their children to be "empathetic" and "sensitive." Richard Dawkins is probably having an orgasm right now.  Do you kids like video games? There's a new one that just came out that I'm not too sure about.

I don't get it.  I like Steve Martin, he's one of my favorite celebrities... and this is one of the reasons why.

He looks so serious, doesn't he?  My mum was a big fan of Norman Rockwell, and I have seen many of his paintings over the years. Well, I saw a drawing he did that I have never seen before.

Wait a minute... haha.  So, there's one thing you might not know about me and that is I like to follow rules. Saying that it annoys me when someone breaks the rules. Just like this guy...

Why would he do that? Ugh.  It's fall, kids, and I know you like snacks, so that's why I have a pheature called...

This mind-blowing choco milk recipe.

Haha. If you spot the Mindphuck please let me know. It's a pretty simple one. Alright, it's Monday and time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome. How are you?

Jeff: I'm doing all right, Jason, hope you are as well.

Me: Well, about that... never mind. So, we are more than half way through the season. Any predictions on who is going to the Super Bowl?

Jeff: It's really hard to tell who will go to the Super Bowl with so many streaky teams this year. We still have three teams that are undefeated (New England, Cincinnati and Carolina). But if you're pressing me for a prediction I will say that it will by New England (BOOO) vs Carolina. What do you think?

Me: I think the Falcons have a good show and New England as well. Do you think the Giants or Steelers will make it to the Bowl?

Jeff: No. Unfortunately neither of our teams will make it unless they go on a hot streak which is definitely possible.

Me: That'll save me money on t-shirts then. okay, So, what's the NFL news this week?

Jeff: The Steelers QB came back from injury last week. And now he's injured again with a different injury and will miss several weeks. Last week it was the Giants in an offensive shoot out, this week it was Pittsburgh. Antonio Brown had 17 catches for 284 yards. In one game! Setting a Steeler single game season record. And speaking of records, Peyton Manning is just three yards away and one win away from breaking two more career records. Both records are held by some guy named Brett Favre. This week we saw three OT games. I'd say that's pretty impressive.

Me: Rumor has it a team is going to L.A. What do you think of that?

Jeff: Every year we hear about teams possibly moving to LA. It is one of the top 2 television markets, but for whatever reason it can never hold a football team for very long. Both the Raiders and the Rams have played there and both left. The Raiders left there several times actually.

Me: Yeah, I still call them the L.A. Raiders... or the Tuskan Raiders. Haha. So, how did we do last week?

Jeff: We are pretty consistent. Both of us went 1-1 with our teams winning this week. So your lead remains at 4 points over me.

Me: Yes! Alright, this weeks picks I say Panthers by 6 and Eagles by 6. What do you say?

Jeff: I'm going to say Dallas will in by 7 and Packers by 7 as well.

Me: Okay, so next Monday I have a dentist appointment and s memorial service to go to... Grandpa Gordon's. Do you remember him, Jeff? Any good stories about Gordon? I have one that is very long. 

Jeff: A guy like Grandpa Gordon is not an easy man to forget. He always had a smile and a dirty joke for you. Several years ago he auditioned for "America's Got Talent." So he asked me to film his audition for him. We met along the river of Port Orleans resort. He bought my breakfast and we planned the shoot. Then we went back to the water, me carrying my camera and a stool for him to sit on while he wheeled his oxygen tank. We recorded a few jokes and then I went home and edited it immediately. Three hours later the audition tape was sent in. Unfortunately he didn't get on, but at least he tried. Right?

Me: Right. He told some good dirty jokes, and was a big fan of the Phile. Anyway, there's not gonna be a Phile next Monday but I'll see you back here Tuesday. Is that cool?

Jeff: Of course that's cool. See you on Tuesday!

Me: Have a good week, Jeff.

Veterans Day
Veterans Day is an annual holiday on which veterans of the U.S. military are honored and commemorated because that's cheaper than paying for their health care.

The 41st book in the Phile's Book Club is...

Jeff will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York...

Top Phive Startling Similarities Between The New York Mets And Halloween Candy 
5. The source of much nausea and indigestion.
4. Eagerly devoured by the Kansas City Royals.
3. Can successfully field ground balls and make accurate throws to home plate.
2. Associated with increased risk of hard attacks.
And the number one startling similarity between the Mets and Halloween candy is...
1. Can accurately be described as "Amazin."

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum and a fantastic artist who has his own company called Martini Ave. Please welcome back to the Phile... Al Abbazia.

Me: Al! Welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Al: Doing great. Thank you for having me again.

Me: You're welcome. You are one of my favorite artists I have featured on the Phile. I always liked the pin-up style. How can you not like hot girls dressed up, right?

Al: Absolutely.

Me: Have you been into the pin-up look all your life?

Al: I have, actually. I love all things retro. And who cannot love a beautiful woman all "dolled up?" 

Me: Of course, that's not the only thing you do... pin-up pics. You make really cool looking retro pictures for movies. I love your Force Awakens one. I have to show it here...

Me: How long does it take you to think up and put something like that together, Al?

Al: Well, I first get the image in my head. I admit it does change along the way but the main idea is always present. Doing a retro poster can take anywhere from about five days to a couple of weeks.

Me: You live in Central Florida now, right, but are originally from New York? What part?

Al: I am originally from Brooklyn. Yo.

Me: You're a pretty big Mets fan, right? It sucks they lost the World Series.

Al: Ouch, you brought that up??? Well, my team was not expected to even make the playoffs, so I'm still proud of them. Let's go Mets!

Me: So, when and how did you first move to Florida?

Al: Towards the end of high school.

Me: Do you visit New York often?

Al: I try to go back every two years or so for a visit. Broadway and a Mets game. And family of course.

Me: You do a lot of conventions all over the country. Do you have a favorite convention and a favorite convention experience?

Al: To be honest, I enjoy something about each of them. Whether it was the casino in New Orleans, someone I met in Miami or just a getaway with my daughter, there is usually a special memory from each of them. I especially love going to DragonCon in Atlanta with my daughter every year.

Me: You probably meet a lot of celebrities that you put into your art. Anybody celebrity like your art or has purchased it?

Al: Yes, I received praise from a number of celebrities. I gave Adam West and Burt Ward both a copy of my "Greetings from Gotham" print when they told me how much they liked it. Recently, Ernie Hudson bough several of my Ghostbusters prints to have at his signing table. I am still waiting for Hayley Atwell to come over.

Me: Ha! That would be cool. Your company is called Martini Ave. Where did that name come from, Al?

Al: I did so many pin-ups with girls on Martini glasses, I was started to become known as the Martini guy years ago. So, I decided on some word play and finally came up with Martini Avenue.

Me: Do you like Martini's? You know, I never had one myself. Maybe one day I will.

Al: Yes I do, actually. Shaken, not stirred (in my best Sean Connery Bond voice).

Me: Haha. Okay, let's talk about your Kickstarter campaign to fund The Martini Girls 2016 Calendar. How did you decide to use Kickstarter?

Al: Well, I thought it might be a good way to gauge interest in the calendar and get people interested in it.

Me: With the calendar, are their pictures you released before or new pics?

Al: Four of the Martini girls are brand new, just for the calendar.

Me: I have to show at least one of the pin-up pics, Al.

Me: You have all beautiful girls in the calendar, Al. where do you find these models?

Al: I am proud to have worked with so many talented and wonderful models (and stylists and makeup artists). They sometimes find me. Social media has been the key.

Me: Out of all the pics you have done was it hard to choose 12?

Al: Yes it was. About four or five Martinis did not make the cut sadly.

Me: Okay, so if I pledge what do you get? I am gonna pledge 20 dollars.

Al: You will get a signed 2016 Martini Girls Calendar so you can see a beautiful woman on your wall each month to greet you.

Me: Nice. Do you have a set goal?

Al: I set a goal of $1500. I am a third of the way there, so we'll see.

Me: I have a teenage son who doesn't read the Phile but is semi interested in it. You have a teenage daughter, what does she think of your art?

Al: She likes it. She always gives me critiques and I value her opinion (even when I begrudgingly admit she was right... haha). She come with me to conventions as my assistant when she's able to.

Me: Is she an artist as well?

Al: Not really although I always encourage her. She has other talents, however. A fantastic dancer on her school's dance team and a solid A student.

Me: So, is there any big projects you are working on now?

Al: Just the calendar for now. I did just finish a new Men in Black poster.

Me: yeah, it looks good.

Me: Okay, so, what is the address for the Kickstarter in case my readers want to pledge?


Me: Thanks for being here, Al. When the calendar comes out I'll have you back here again. How does that sound?

Al: Sounds fantastic!

Me: Take care, mention your website and come back again soon.


That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz and Al Abbazia. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Phile Alum Kim Edwards. 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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