Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Tuesday. How are you? I'm in a very good mood so let's start with a nice story about a photo of an old couple helping a young man that reminded the Internet that things can be nice. In Atlanta's Lindbergh Center train station last week, a man named Redd Desmond Thomas snapped this photograph of a Norman Rockwell painting happening in real life, as an older couple took time out of their day to help a young man starting out in the world.
It's since been shared over 201,000 times on Facebook. Too often, it's the stories about spiteful people, mean people, jerks and even hateful people that go viral online. There are a lot of those people, and the world is tough enough without them. Everyone would be living out nasty, brutish and short Hobbesian lives if someone like this didn't stop to help... and judging by the hundreds of thousands of people who shared this post, it reminded a lot of people of those helpers and moments. Many want to read politics or social trends into this photo, but it just is what it is. It's a story about three people on a train platform. A lot of men will tell you that learning to tie a tie was actually a stressful moment in their lives, and those who had to learn themselves would have really appreciated this gesture from someone. Keep up the good work, humans. Actor Charlie Sheen announced on the "TODAY Show" this morning that he is HIV positive. According to Sheen, he was diagnosed about 4 years ago, which puts his public freakouts from the time into context, though Sheen claims they were triggered by steroids he was taking. The former "Two-and-a-Half Men" star says, "It's a hard three letters to absorb. It's a turning point in one's life." One of Sheen's main motivations in admitting he is HIV positive is to beat back the many people who have been blackmailing him by threatening to expose his diagnosis to the world. He says he's paid out almost $10 million to people he trusted with the info (among them, prostitutes without hearts of gold), one of whom had a pic of his anti-retroviral drugs. In general, Sheen is in good health, and since he has a lot of money, he can afford the treatment that will potentially keep him that way for a long time. Best of luck to him. Oxford Dictionaries has announced their word of the year for 2015, except this time it's not a word. Ten years ago, words such as "sudoku" and "podcast" topped their list. Not bad, as those are two activities that can help you learn. But more recent words may be indicative of how everyone's brains are melting. In 2013, Oxford chose the word "selfie," and last year's word was "vape." If words of the year are any indication of where society is headed, we might be doomed. This year's word is an emoji. Yes, those little images that have come to dominate text messages and social media posts. Emojis have become such an important part of flirting that some companies have created sexually-charged emojis specifically for that purpose. But this emoji is "Face with Tears of Joy," the innocent, laughing emoji that's safe for the whole family.
It's worth noting that Oxford Dictionaries considered some words that would indicate society has not given up on learning or real words; "refugee" and "sharing economy" were on the short list. But so were "on fleek" and "lumbersexual." Society is back to being doomed! Doomed! Americans (and anyone else deeply invested in Christopher Robin and friends) can't get over the fact that Winnie the Pooh is actually... gasp... a girl bear! Does that make you feel differently about the no-pants situation? It's weird that this is suddenly making waves, because it is a matter of public record that the character of Winnie the Pooh was based on author A.A. Milne's son Christopher Robin's teddy bear. That teddy bear was named after an actual female black bear purchased by Lt. Harry Colebourne, who brought the bear to London from Canada during World War I, naming her "Winnie," after Winnipeg. So, she's also technically Canadian, eh. Canadians have known that the gluttonous honey-muncher is a woman for years. Of course, the character in the books is referred to as he. Almost all of the characters in A.A. Milne's books are, except for Kanga... she's a mom. This is like The Berenstain bears all over again. Are no fictional bears to be trusted? You know about the Berenstain story, right? Sigh. Okay, I'm not gonna go into it here, but if you wanna know go to this website... avclub.com/article/how-you-spell-berenstain-bears-could-be-proof-para-223615. But finish this entry first, people. The Green Bay Packers went up against the Detroit Lions on Sunday and lost, but before the game even began things were going downhill for everybody. After the Paris terror attacks on Friday, the NFL teams decided to have a moment of silence honoring the people killed. One fan appeared to misunderstood the concept of "silence," because they decided to shout out something pretty hideous from the stands. At a press conference after his team's loss, quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke out against the fan's hateful interruption. He said, "Yeah, I think it's important to do things like that [moment of silence]. We're connected, a connected world, ya know, six degrees of separation. I must admit, I was very disappointed with whoever the fan was who made a comment that I thought was really inappropriate during the moment of silence. It’s that kind of prejudicial ideology that puts us in the position that we’re in today. As a world." Good for Rodgers for standing up for 1.6 billions Muslims in the world who have nothing to do with these attacks. Almost makes you want to shout, "Go Packers!"Almost. Okay, I work with the public every day and in my job I swear aliens are real. Really. I mean, take a look at this guy...
I arrest my case. You know about the whole big Starbucks cup controversy, right. Well, they just released these new white and gold cups to shut everyone up...
Haha. SeaWorld if you haven't heard is doing away with its killer whale show at its park in San Diego. If you are wondering what they are doing with those whales I will show you...
Big plastic bags. Do you kids like Pepsi? I don't, but I think they have the best marketing gig going right now.
They must of spent millions on that. Ha. I wonder how many people are gonna complain about that. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...
Top Phive Things Overheard At The Ronda Rousey Knockout.
5. That's so sweet... a young fan in the upper deck just caught one of her molars!
4. I can't believe she fell for the ol' "Is there something on my foot?" trick!
3. First the Mayweather fight, now THIS. From now on, it's strictly basement cockfighting for me!
2. She should've paid attention to her horoscope when it said "You will be kicked in the neck today."
And the number not thing heard at the Rousey knockout...
1. Her aura of invincibility has been shattered... also, the right side of her jawbone!
Haha. This is not a hard one. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, it's time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.
Me: Hey there, Jeff, welcome to the Phile for a Tuesday. How are you?
Jeff: Always good to be back on the Phile. Doing all right. How about you?
Me: I'm doing pretty good. Okay, so, Bob Iger from Disney says he wants to help LA get a football team. Are you surprised?
Jeff: LOL. Oh, Bob Iger. Worry about fixing your parks before you bring a football team to LA. Lots of other people want to do the same thing. Besides, there's not a Disney movie that they could name a team after like they did with the Mighty Ducks before they got tired of it and distanced themselves from sports again.
Me: Any other NFL news?
Jeff: The biggest news is more injuries. Somehow Ben Roethlisberger was injured last week, they said he would miss 1-2 weeks but he led the Steelers to victory this week after our 3rd string QB got hurt. Somehow Pittsburgh has survived Ben getting hurt twice, Michael Vick getting hurt and Landry Jones getting hurt. I'm not going to argue with it though. The Patriots won a nailbiter against your Giants this week. They are still perfect. So are the Bengals. So are the Panthers. There's a funny meme out there. All the undefeated teams in the NFL are named after big cats.
Jeff: A bengal tiger (for Cincinnati), a panther (Carolina) and a cheetah (New England, Cheater with a Boston accent).
Me: That's funny. So, what's this Peyton Manning story?
Jeff: Peyton Manning got benched after he broke the record for most yards thrown in his career. The rest of the game went down hill. There are some reports that we may have seen Peyton's last start. I truly hope that is not true.
Me: As long as it's not Eli... In the monologue I told the story of NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers shaming a fan who yelled out a hateful comment about Muslims at the game. What do you think of that? Did you hear this story?
Jeff: I say good for Aaron Rodgers for commenting about the disrespectful fan. You can't blame all for the actions of a few. What happened in Paris should never happen, but it did. But you can't blame every single Muslim for the actions of ISIS. That's just close minded.
Me: You're right. So, how did we do last week? Am I still winning?
Jeff: Yes, you're still winning. In fact you went 1-1 last week and I went 0-2. I did get a point with a Steeler win though. So as it stands you're lead grew now to five points over me. I don't like this. I feel like I'm cursed...
Me: That's funny. So, let's pick this week... I say Texans by 1 and Falcons by 3. What do you pick?
Jeff: My picks are Bears by three and Chiefs by 5.
Me: Alright, I will see you back here next Sunday when you're a pheatured guest on the Phile. It's my birthday on Monday but this year there's not gonna be a special birthday entry as I have plans.
Jeff: Sounds good! Happy early birthday to you by the way.
Me: Thanks, Jeff.
After pompous arseholes, the Eiffel Tower is what you think of when you think of Paris.
The 41st book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
Me: Hey, Vinnie, welcome back to the Phile. It's been awhile. So, what do you think of this story about your brother Winnie being a girl?
Vinnie: Ha! The world just discovered Winnie is a girl and I and Canada is like duh.
Me: So, you knew it?
Vinnie: Yeah, but I preferred Winnie the Pooh when they were genderless.
Me: Ummm... okay. Thanks, Vinnie.
Alright, today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum who has a new single and video out called "Dance With Nobody." She's one of my favorite guests I met doing this blog. Please welcome back to the Phile the beautiful and talented... Neara Russell.
Me: Neara!!!!! Welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?
Neara: Hiya, Jason! Great to be back. I’ve been well, learning about the world and writing songs about it! How are you?
Me: I'm good. Last time you were here was on a birthday entry in 2013 on November 23rd. When is your birthday?
Neara: I hear you have a big birthday coming up. Congrats on the tenacity! My birthday is July 11th. That’s right, free Slurpees at 7-Eleven for me.
Me: Haha. I have to be honest, I have met and interviewed so many cool people since I started this stupid little blog and you, Neara, are one of my favorite guests. You are good looking, talented and fun. Anyway, what have you been up to since last time you were here?
Neara: Whee thank you so much! Well, I’ve been working as a touring and session keyboardist. I was honored with a Nord keyboard endorsement last year, and played some big festivals this year with British DJ Duke Dumont. I also released a music video for my new song “Dance With Nobody” this month!
Me: You're originally from Wisconsin. Do you visit home often?
Neara: I am a Cheesehead through the heart. I sadly don’t get home so often, though my parents are holding down the home front. Nobody ever tours through Wisconsin, which needs to change! I want a working vacation back to Madison, please!
Me: Have you been touring with anybody lately? Do you still perform with Bridgit Mendler?
Neara: Yep, Bridgit is still my girl. She’s focusing on writing and acting at the moment, but I’ve been playing shows with Duke Dumont, including Coachella and T in the Park music festivals. His shows were huge. We were up in front of 40,000 people and a stage full of lighting production, everybody having a good time. I’ve also joined the dance-rock band Magic Man for some U.S. dates this fall, finally living the dream as an indie rocker! They have been super fun to jam with.
Me: You are one of the most photogenic people I know. I love this pic!
Me: Ever think of modeling or acting, Neara?
Neara: Why thanks, Jay! I’ve been approached with that question before. Lots of my peers have gotten into acting and modeling since moving to LA. Some have even switched over from music and made acting their careers. I don’t consider myself a looker, and would rather stay focused on what matters to me: the music. Geeking out over a passionate interest is the sexiest thing to me.
Me: I have to ask you about the cover pic for your new single "Dance With Nobody." Whose idea was for you to wear all that make up? They're an idiot! Haha.
Neara: Ha! All my idea! I’ve encountered different opinions of what is "attractive" while working in LA, many of which involve lots of makeup and posturing and imposed feminine ideals. When the time came for a photoshoot, I grabbed face paint at the local art store and said, you know what, if this industry wants me to paint my face to look all sweet and feminine, I’ll take it to the extreme and have fun with it.
Me: Let's talk about your new song and video. I looked for the song on iTunes and it isn't there. Will it be? I love the song and want a copy.
Neara: It’s on iTunes right now! My artist name for this release is NEARA. Here’s the link: itunes.apple.com/us/album/dance-with-nobody-single/id1040758014. I’m so happy you like the song!
Me: "Dance With Nobody."? Neara, I find it very hard to believe you can't find anybody to dance with. Haha. What was the inspiration behind the song?
Neara: Haha... well, my first heartbreak inspired this. I was infatuated with this guy and got dumped hard. This song came from the aftermath of that experience, learning to find joy within myself and feeling secure with my independence. As much as the emotional pain was not fun, I’m thankful for the challenge of learning to stand on my own without seeking constant affirmation from others. Besides, dancing alone is the best! No competition!
Me: Someone dumped you? What an idiot! Is the song gonna be on a new album you are working on?
Neara: Yes, the plan is to release an EP next year. I’m collaborating with producer Max Mitchell on more songs.
Me: So, what came first, the music or the lyrics?
Neara: Spontaneously simultaneous! Max lent me his Prophet 08 keyboard, and the first thing I wrote were the synth riffs in this song. I have a rough voice memo of the song from my rehearsal space, improvising the lyrics in real time.
Me: I love the video. Where was it filmed, Neara?
Neara: Thanks! I love it too! This video was also a collaboration, between myself and a team of wonderful and generous talents. Kelly Elaine Garthwaite was our director. Jamie-Lynn Fincham co-produced. Jonathan Barrera Ortiz edited. We filmed this as guerrilla-style as possible in Los Angeles. I wanted the video to showcase my freedom of expression, with a twist of self-discovery.
Me: You always look like you are having fun with whatever you're doing. Is that true?
Neara: I do! Filming day for this video was one of the best days of my life. There is nothing more joyous for me than expressing myself in a creative and honest way.
Me: Is there something career wise you haven't done that you would love to?
Neara: I’m excited to release more new music in upcoming years, and produce more videos. I’d like to continue traveling, and spend some time on a bus with a touring project that I’m creatively invested in. Also looking forward to co-writing with more producers and artists.
Me: So, is there any new bands or musicians out there that you are listening to now?
Neara: Best album of 2015 was "Talking is Hard" by Walk the Moon. I’m indulging in some musical geekery lately and listening to Vulfpeck, and finally getting around to the "20/20 Experience" by Justin Timberlake. I tend to get super invested in popular albums about two years after they were released, haha.
Me: What was the last CD you purchased?
Neara: "1989" by Taylor Swift! So much romance. I swoon.
Me: I don't think I ever mentioned this in a prior interview with you, and if I did let's talk about it again. You graduated from Berklee... what was our major, Neara?
Neara: I did. I double majored in classical composition and piano/voice performance.
Me: You mentioned before the band you were apart of... The Backliners. Are you still with them?
Neara: Yes! The Backliners are my boys. They adopted me when I first moved to LA, and I’ve been working on countless projects with them ever since. We have done live shows, recording sessions, and music videos together with various local artists. I’m honored to play with musicians of their caliber, no matter what the situation.
Me: You also got a heart tattoo on the back of your neck we mentioned before. Any other tattoos?
Neara: That’s it! I had a brief moment where I thought I might need tattoos to be cool. Gave up on being cool shortly afterwards. Happy about my tattoo though. I drew the heart myself.
Me: Neara, in January this stupid little blog will be celebrating 10 years. I am having a bunch of Alumni coming back throughout January. Would you wanna come back to the Phile then?
Neara: Woohoo! Of course! Will be my honor.
Me: Cool! Thanks so much for being here again. Mention your website and I'll see you back here in January.
Neara: Thanks for hosting me, Jason! See you soon: neararussell.com and nearamusic.tumblr.com.
Me: Thanks, Neara.
That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz and Neara Russell. The Phile will be back next Sunday with author, friend and Phile Alum Jeff Trelewicz. Haha. 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