Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pheaturing Phile Alum Jessica Meuse

Hey there, welcome to the Phile on a chilly Thursday evening here in Florida. My fiery rage at teenagers who've never heard of David Bowie is the only thing keeping me warm today. Soeaking of Bowie... If you've listened to David Bowie's final album "Blackstar" (or, as it's properly written, "★"), you know that Bowie tries on one last persona in the vein of the Thin White Duke or Ziggy Stardust: a mysterious, cult-like figure called "Blackstar," from which the album takes its name. Music journalist Michael Azerrad found an unlikely possible source for this name: cancerous lesions. It's another piece of evidence that Bowie intended his most recent album as a good-bye. According to About Health, "radial scars"... also known as black stars... are "a star-shaped breast mass that may be completely benign, or it may be precancerous or contain a mixture of tissue, including hyperplasia, atypia, or cancer." Of course, Bowie reportedly had liver cancer, not breast cancer, so make of this what you will. According to Wikipedia, it's also a nickname for Saturn, what you'd assume is Bowie's home planet. So who knows.
More often than not, people walk right by a homeless person asking for food or money. West Yorkshire resident Claire Varin is not one of those people. She's so kind that she when she noticed a homeless man inside the McDonald's where she was grabbing breakfast, she spontaneously purchased him a meal without even being asked. "I placed it on the table and said, 'This is for you.' I felt fantastic and my heart swelled that in some small way maybe I had helped this man," she told "The Sun." And then Varin realized the guy wasn't homeless. Varin mistook the man as homeless because of his beard, backpack, and the fact he was eating ketchup from the dispenser. Varin only realized her mistake when, after leaving her charitable meal on his table, a McDonald's worker came over and gave the guy the meal he had ordered. "I was mortified. I felt like I was going to die of embarrassment. I wanted a hole to open up underneath me," she said. Varin has no clue if the guy ate his free, second meal because she high-tailed it out of there. Varin's good deed has now left her with one less place to buy breakfast. "I really enjoy a McDonald's breakfast now and again, but I think I'll have to give that store a miss in the mornings in case I see that man again," she said. Luckily for Varin, she can likely find another place with the same morning offerings, like one of the other McDonald's in town. 
Alan Rickman never said that quote you're sharing over and over. Can this week get worse? Actor Alan Rickman has died, and if that's not enough of a bummer, people are also unintentionally lying about him all over the Internet. It's a fairly harmless lie that has a lot more to do with his loving fans from the Harry Potter series than anything malicious. This image of Rickman has gone viral...

Part of the quote is a reference to a Potter scene, in which, yes, Snape says "Always." The line is in reference to his eternal love for Harry's mother, Lily. Very sweet! But it was a fictional character. Rickman the actor died at 69, and lived a very rich full life and would probably not have spent his 80s thinking about Harry Potter or Lily. The "L.A. Times" also reported in 2009 that, allegedly, Rickman had never read any of the books. His co-star, Michael Gambon, who was the second actor to play Dumbledore, explained why not, "You’d get upset about all the scenes it’s missing from the book, wouldn‘t you?... No point in reading the books because you’re playing with [screenwriter] Steve Kloves’ words." Though it is possible, of course, that he eventually did read them and enjoyed them in a non-obsessive way, all signs point to this being FAKE AS HELL. That shouldn't stop anyone from remembering Alan Rickman any way they want to, even if it's as Severus Snape. Always. 
You guys. The instant bread from The Force Awakens wasn't CGI. It was REAL. The bubbling instant bread that Rey makes from her Jakku rations in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was real, people! Or at least, it wasn't CGI! Even though the bread probably falls somewhere below "Did Maz Kanata actually ever fuck Chewbacca" on the list of things you talked about after The Force Awakens, it was one of the coolest special effects in the whole movie. Finding out that it was a practical effect (something director J.J. Abrams prioritized in the film) is just icing on the just-add-water cake. Special effects team Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould, who were nominated for an Oscar for their work in The Force Awakens today, talked to DP/30 about many of the effects in the movie. Now, if you can only get your hands on some inflatable bread, you know how to really freak out (or geek out) your friends.
Disney's shortlist of actors for the Han Solo Star Wars prequel is full of good-looking dudes, but none seem to quite have the persona required to play the wonderfully charming and selfish Han that Harrison Ford created. Can you imagine Dave Franco illegally transporting goods in a galaxy far, far away? Nope. There's been a widespread call for Disney to get real and cast this dude named Anthony Ingruber. There's a very obvious reason why this needs to happen: Ingruber is a dead-ringer for a young, so very attractive Ford.

They are the same person, and everyone agrees Ingruber needs to play Solo. Plus, Ingruber is capable of an excellent Han Solo-impression. And Ingruber even played a young version of Ford in that Blake Lively movie Age of Adaline. Since Disney was all about the unknowns for The Force Awakens, Ingruber is even more ideal than say, Miles Teller, who is too arrogant to play the incredibly arrogant Solo.
On last Friday's 10th anniversary entry I told you about a guy who spent a year of his life building a Millennium Falcon Lego model, fending off babes. Well, someone spent a minute building one and a lot less money...

Ha! This year is the Phile's 10th anniversary and this month I am showing you some actual people reading the Phile. Just go with it. Here's another guy...

Once again like the others why is the computer white, and his mug and short white? Are they saying only borong people read the Phile? And doesn't he look a little like Joseph Gordon-Levitt? This is how he would look if he read the Phile...

So, at work I meet a lot of interesting people and I swear aliens are real and amongst us. Don't believe me?

Arrest my case. So, did you see Trump's new campaign poster?

Don't ask me why it's so blurry. So, one of the things I love to do in my spare time is to go on Twitter and look up certain words and one of those words is "Foghat." This is one tweet I saw awhile ago...

Okay then, Jack. Moving on... So, three people that recently passed away... Lemmy, Bowie and now Alan Rickman are all British, but flip the bird in the American way. Look...

Crazy, right? And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Overheard Between Sean Penn And El Chapo
5. In person, you look even more like Jack Black in Nacho Libre than I expected!
4. After the UVA rape-case debacle, I'm the most reliable reporter "Rolling Stone" can manage!
3. When my biopic comes out, I want 75% of all action-figure sales. That's non-negotiable!
2. I've been hiding in the jungle for six months... how is it that you look more disheveled than me?
And the number one thing heard between Sean Penn and El Chapo was...
1. My English is not so good... how do you say, "Bleeding-heart liberal clown"?

Alan Rickman 
February 21st 1946 —  January 14th 2016
That'll be -1000 points for Gryffindor.

Monte Irvin 
February 25th, 1919 — January 11th, 2016
It was a dark day for the Irvin family.

Okay, so, as you know by now all this month I am showing you Mindphucks that you sent in. So, here we go...

Ugh. I have no idea what I'm looking at. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, as you know I live in Florida and there's some stuff that happens in Florida that happens nowhere else. That's why I have a pheature called...

A woman Periscoped herself while drunk driving and was, thankfully, arrested. Her name is Whitney Beall, and she's a 23-year-old living in Lakeland, Florida. After her friends saw the stream, they started texting her to stop, in addition to calling the police. One of the police officers who was informed of the incident used his personal Periscope account to watch Beall's stream and track down her location. "Officers said they found Beall's 2015 Toyota Corolla with a flat tire on Carpenters Way. Investigators said Beall hit a curb as an officer initiated a traffic stop, and she did not hit the brakes after striking the curb. Officers said they smelled alcohol on Beall and she was disoriented. Officers said Beall's speech was slow and her eyes were bloodshot and glassy." She was arrested on a DUI charge and booked in a local jail. This incident serves as a useful reminder to not be stupid while you're being stupid.

The 43rd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author Jim Korkis will be back on the Phile tomorrow.

A magician is an entertainer who uses elements of misdirection and deception to convince himself he's made a good career decision.

Today's guest is a Phile Alum who who finished in fourth place on the thirteenth season of "American Idol." Since she was here last on the Phile she released two singles which are available on iTunes... "Done" and "Rio Grande." Please welcome back to the Phile, the gorgeous and talented...

Me: Hey, Jess, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Jessica: Hey! I've been hustling! Ready to kick 2016 in the face.

Me: I have to say I love you as a blonde! When did you decide to go blonde?

Jessica: Thank you! I just got bored and wanted to change it to something I could maintain more easily than the thousand colors I used to have.

Me: Do you like it, being blonde? How about going strawberry blonde like me? Haha.

Jessica: Haha! Yes, I like it! It's just hair... it grows back. I am somewhat addicted to changing it, but I think I'm settled this for a while. I've had my hair strawberry blonde in the past, and I liked it too! 

Me: So, I can't remember if I asked you this before... do you like being called Jess or Jessica?

Jessica: Either one is fine! A lot of my friends call me "Jess," and it would sound weird for them to say "Jessica." Then again, there are a lot of people who call me "Jessica" and I am shocked when they call me "Jess" because I'm just not used to it! But either one is totally fine as long as it's not "HEY GUH!"

Me: What did you go by on "American Idol"?

Jessica: I went by Jessica Meuse on "Idol"!

Me: Let's talk about "Idol" for a minute... I know you are sick of talking about it, am I right?

Jessica: Nah, I don't mind! It was a huge part of my life and my musical career that changed everything forever. I don't mind.

Me: Oh, cool. You were on the 13th season... that's 2 seasons ago I think, am I right? I didn't get to see last season. This new season is the last one... are you surprised?

Jessica: Yes, season XIII! It's on the final season XV right now. I was surprised when I initially heard this was going to be the final season, but "Idol" has had a long and amazing run and fifteen seasons is actually a super long time. I'm happy for the show. I grew up watching a lot of the auditions and some of the artists I look up to (like Carrie Underwood) are "Idol" alumni, so now it plays an even bigger role in my life as a person and a musician.

Me: Do you still watch the show, Jess?

Jessica: Not really. But I don't watch much TV as it is. I usually keep up with a few contestants and check them out online on my own time, when I'm not traveling/working.

Me: Before you were on "Idol" you auditioned for "The Voice." Are you a bigger fan of that show?

Jessica: I like "The Voice," but I will always love "Idol." They just treated me so well on "American Idol."

Me: On your seasons finale you did a duet with Jennifer Nettles... what was that like? Are you a fan of hers, Jess?

Jessica: Hell yeah I love me some Jennifer Nettles!

Me: If there's anybody you can do a duet with who would it be?

Jessica: Brent Smith. I just love his voice, his story, how he (and all of the band) handles themselves. They're REAL people with super real talent, and I'd love to work with them one day.

Me: Okay, so, as your fans know you are from Slapout, Alabama. Do you still live there?

Jessica: Kind of. But I don't really live in one place. I bounce between Slapout and Los Angeles the majority of the time.

Me: How has your life been since you got back, Jess?

Jessica: Very busy, and I'm keeping it that way. I know that if you want something in this life, it probably isn't going to throw itself at you. You have to work for it and go get it... that's what I'm doing.

Me: Do you get recognized a lot now?

Jessica: The pink hair used to give me away all the time. I get a lot of double takes now, and I usually smirk and giggle because I know what's going on. I'm like, "Yeah, it's me. Come get a photo!"

Me: Speaking of your fans, they are called the Meuse Mafia... where did that name come from?

Jessica: Muse Mafia! I love them. Initially they were just called "muses," but a street team popped up online, "Muse Mafia," and the "muses" collectively became the "Muse Mafia" from that instant on.

Me: You started playing and performing when you were 10... what was the first song you sang in public, do you remember?

Jessica: It was "Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews! I grew up on 90s country.

Me: How old were you when you started to play guitar?

Jessica: I think I was in 7th grade when I started learning... so... how old are you in 7th grade? I think I was 12 or 13.

Me: You lived in Zephyrhills, Florida for awhile... which is not too far from where I live in Clermont. Do you still have family and friends there?

Jessica: I was kinda just passing through. I met a lot of people and went to about five different schools because of bullying issues, but I don't really have many people I still speak to regularly. My neighbor from down the street was cool, and he's my friend on Facebook. That's about it though! Haha.

Me: Did you go to Disney often when you lived there, Jess?

Jessica: I wish! I went maybe once or twice.

Me: Do you come back to Florida often? When you do next time we need to go to Disney. I take it you like Disney...


Me: Okay, I can take you there as well. Okay, let's talk about one of your newest singles... "Done." It's really good... very country sounding. Do you think your music is more country than rock?

Jessica: "Done" is my first single released 100% independently, fresh off "American Idol." My music is definitely considered country, but it has that alternative and even a southern rock vibe to it... think along the lines of Elle King's "America's Sweetheart" or even "Love Me Just Leave Me Alone" by Jewel back in the day. I wouldn't say "Done" completely belongs on mainstream, 2015/2016 country radio, because let's face it, it's production isn't pop enough for what country music currently is. Then again, newly-discovered artists slam-full with soul are coming out into the light, like Chris Stapleton. 

Me: Okay, so, is "Done" written about anyone in particular?

Jessica: Oh, you know it. It's about an ex, obviously. I was tired of his lying and cheating and I handled it and pulled myself through that immense disappointment by writing a song, "Done."

Me: You sang "Done" on "Idol" as well as your other original which is "Blue-Eyed Lie." Was it hard to convince the producers to let you do your own songs?

Jessica: No, they were actually really, really cool with letting me sing my own stuff. Maybe it's because I went on the show like, "Hey, I write. I'm singing my songs whenever I can." Now, it isn't like I could sing an original every week, because you know I would have if that had been the case, but I was actually relieved to know I could sing my own material during Hollywood week. For me, it took some of the stress off. I knew I would be 100% genuine and into an original... a song I had literally lived.

Me: So, "Done" is your first single you released since you were on "Idol"... and now you have "Rio Grande," right?

Jessica: I just released my second single, "Rio Grande" on 1/5/2016! I figured, what better way to start the new year?

Me: Where did the inspiration behind "Rio Grande" come from?

Jessica: "Rio Grande" is... surprise... about a relationship I experienced hardships in. It's about unconditional love... REAL unconditional love. It's about the fact that, in this life and this world, you can truly, genuinely love someone that is not good for you. Ultimately, you have to decide if you want to endure this forever, if you CAN endure this unhealthy, possibly dysfunctional relationship anymore, or if you want to spend your energy elsewhere and move forward, accepting that this person is toxic and draining and though you may love them, it's time to do what is best and healthiest for you.

Me: Are you gonna make a video for the song, Jess?

Jessica: I'm working on it!!!!

Me: Are you working on an album?

Jessica: That's the idea. I need a product. But it also has to be the best dang thing I can put out there right now, so I'm currently shopping studios (in addition to representation) and brainstorming where I want to record and how to go about putting an album together.

Me: Okay, so, this year is the Phile's tenth anniversary and I am asking my guests where they were ten years ago... so, where were you and what were you doing?

Jessica: If I hadn't moved a thousand times, I might be able to answer this. I think I was in Slapout, probably in high school, being psycho about my grades and playing lots and lots of "Dance, Dance Revolution."

Me: Cool! I used to be pretty good at that game. Thanks so much for coming back on here, Jess. Come back when your next release comes out. Go ahead and mention your websites. 

Jessica: Of course! Always fun to chat with you! I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me. Twitter is @JessMeuse, Instagram is @JessMeuse, Facebook is And my official website is I am literally all over the Internet and usually on it, chatting with my MuseMafia.

Me: All the best, continued success. Hope this was fun.

Jessica: Thank you! It was fun! Happy 2016, and I hope you totally slay this year!

Well, that about does it for a great interview. Thanks to Jessica Meuse for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Phile Alum and author Jim Korkis. 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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