Monday, May 16, 2016

Pheaturing Jillian Valentine

Hi there, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday, how are you? Mondays are even harder now that I have to stay up until 3 am to finish watching Sunday TV. Okay, let's start off with story about a new report confirming your chicken meat is handled by people in diapers. Odds are, if there's breaking news concerning the meat industry, it's going to be horrific. Like, for example, this breaking Oxfam America report about poultry factory workers wearing diapers so bathroom breaks don't get in the way of making chicken as cheap as possible for American carnivores. The report, titled "No Relief," reveals degrading conditions for workers at company plants that supply chicken to over 60% of the U.S. market. Tyson, Pilgrim’s, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms were four poultry producers named in the report. Oxfam's using Twitter to spread awareness about this issue via #GiveThemABreak. Oxfam America summarizes the indefensible practice, "Chicken is the most popular meat in America, and the poultry industry is booming. But workers on the processing line do not share in the bounty. Poultry workers 1) earn low wages of diminishing value, 2) suffer elevated rates of injury and illness, and 3) often experience a climate of fear in the workplace. Despite this, though, workers themselves say that the thing that offends their dignity most is simple: lack of adequate bathroom breaks, and the suffering that entails, especially for women." Quartz's Debbie Berkowitz, who also contributed an inside look at these factory conditions, highlights just a few of the grim experiences these workers endure so consumers can save a few bucks on what KFC sells as food. "In my work at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, I witnessed the dangers: poultry workers stand shoulder to shoulder on both sides of long conveyor belts, most using scissors or knives, in cold, damp, loud conditions, making the same forceful movements thousands upon thousands of times a day, as they skin, pull, cut, debone and pack the chickens. The typical plant processes 180,000 birds a day. A typical worker handles 40 birds a minute... ...Too many workers tell stories about urinating on themselves or witnessing coworkers do the same. Not only is it embarrassing and degrading, it’s also extremely uncomfortable to feel the warm urine in the frigid environment and to wear wet clothing in 40 degree temperatures. Hanson, one of the workers featured in the report, works at a Tyson plant in Arkansas and had the disheartening experience of seeing his own mother urinate on the line; she now wears diapers to work to avoid it happening again... ...a recent survey of workers in Minnesota found that 86% of respondents said they get only two bathroom breaks in a week." Halfway decent dental coverage is a privilege. Not bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, Tyson twitters on with a fun hashtag campaign to promote their "miracle" product.

In the wake of news that Posh Spice deceived audiences with her posh looks and lip-syncing, a few members of the glorious 90s band are recording new music that probably still makes no sense, just like "Wannabe." British paper "The Mirror" snapped pics of three of the ladies heading into the studio: Mel B, Emma Bunton, and Geri Halliwell. If you don't know which of these Spice Girls is which, then get outta here. Scary Spice spoke with "The Mirror," more or less confirming the great news that new music is happening. "Everything always comes from us, and to do something for our 20-year anniversary is the ultimate dream," she said. "If we do anything, we will be writing everything from scratch. We are all group texting and speak a lot.” She was also very clear about the fact that the ladies themselves author their own works, "It’s funny, because back in the day people thought we had everything written for us but we’ve always written all our own songs." There have previously been rumors regarding a reunion tour (sans Vicky B). "Talks between the girls have been on-running for the past 12 months. It’s an incredibly exciting time and they are loving being back together," a mysterious source told "The Mirror." “The only person throwing a spanner in the works is Victoria, who has been a bit of a Debbie Downer about the whole thing." At this point, a tour is all but confirmed. "To be serious," Scary said late last year, "it is our twentieth anniversary this year and it would be rude not to celebrate so hopefully something will be happening pretty soon." Whether Sporty/Mel C. will be involved isn't clear. One's things for sure though: time to start saving up for a new pair of platforms, ladies.
Over at Jezebel, writer Bobby Finger uncovered something fascinating and a bit sad: that even though Margot Robbie, actress from The Wolf of Wall Street and the upcoming Suicide Squad, now says in interviews that she is 25 years old, was once referred to in an article from 2008 as 23, which would make her now 30. If Robbie is indeed lying about her age, she would join a long line of Hollywood stars to have done the same. For "stars," please read "women and Michael Jackson," because that's mostly it. Recently, Rebel Wilson said she was 29 when she was actually 36, Jessica Chastain said she was 30 when she was actually several years older, and Beyoncé insists she's 34 when she's actually the ageless goddess Coyolxauhqui. But there's a twist! Later in the day, Finger updated the article because a Twitter user sent him articles from around the same time referring to Robbie as a 17-year-old, which means... everything checks out? Unless it's still a conspiracy? Can the U.N. launch some kind of investigation here? One thing we can all agree on... Margot Robbie is one of those women who men think look really attractive and women think look kind of mean. Right???
Researchers from Ohio State University found that acetaminophen, a common ingredient used in popular pain relief medications like Tylenol, may be making you less empathetic towards other people's pain, in addition to dulling your own. In comparison to participants who didn't take the drug, participants in the study who consumed acetaminophen believed individuals experienced significantly lesser degrees of pain when they were told about the physical and social misfortunes of others. Baldwin Way, an assistant professor of psychology and the senior author of this study, explains why sympathizing with crybabies complaining about their problems is in fact important. "We don’t know why acetaminophen is having these effects, but it is concerning. Empathy is important. If you are having an argument with your spouse and you just took acetaminophen, this research suggests you might be less understanding of what you did to hurt your spouse’s feelings." The Consumer Health Products Association (CHPA) alleges that over 600 medicines use acetaminophen, and that each week around 23% of all Americans consume a medication containing the ingredient. The details of the experiments used in this study show how a lack of empathy can be pretty disturbing. In one experiment, all participants were given eight short scenarios where someone suffered physically or emotionally. The scenarios included "a person who suffered a knife cut that went down to the bone" and "a person experiencing the death of his father." Participants who ingested acetaminophen rated the suffering of these people as notably less severe than those who didn't ingest the drug. Another related study on acetaminophen​ by Baldwin Way also saw that it "blunts positive emotions like joy," meaning you can't revel in the pain of your enemies as the Tylenol relieves your own suffering. If you're the type to pop Tylenol like candy for all those inner and outer aches, it may be time for you to start seeking alternative sources of pain relief.
Recently, bigots found a new thing to be mad about after clothing store Old Navy posted the following ad featuring an interracial family on their Twitter page.

Despite it being 2016, it turns out that some people still can't handle the thought of a mixed race couple. If you are one of the few people who still have faith in humanity, it will probably be all gone after reading this story. To most, the only thing wrong with this ad is that the people in it are freakishly beautiful and that that's unfair to the rest of us. Those who spoke out against the ad cited reasons of miscegenation (the marriage of two different racial types) and "white genocide," which isn't really a thing. If there's any good to come from this, it'd be that all these people boycotting Old Navy and Target and wherever else would soon be boycotting so many places that they never leave their homes ever again. Unfortunately, that won't solve the issue that they all have internet. Luckily, for every person who spoke out against the ad... There were many more who spoke out in favor of it. Old Navy spokesperson Debbie Felix, who probably can't even believe that she has to address this, said in a statement to "Fortune" that they are proud of their message of “diversity and inclusion," and went on to say, "We are a brand with a proud history of championing diversity and inclusion. At Old Navy, everyone is welcome." Grace Mahary, the female model in the ad, even commented on the controversy surrounding the photo on her personal Instagram page. "In light of the controversy revolving around my pretend family... I am proud to be representing interracial love, multiculturalism, and most importantly, a mentality that supports opportunity for all ethnicities. Thanks @oldnavy #lovewins#hatefreezone." Seriously, if you're going to be mad at Old Navy for anything, let it be because of their clothes, not their cute advertising.
Alright, did you hear that Budweiser is changing its name to America? Well, I wondered what the label would look like and I happen to get a sneak preview. Wanna see?

For those that don't think Donald Trump is gonna be President, I think we all might be wrong...

There's a new movie out called Money Monster, which is not to be confused with this movie...

So, some stores are just so damn creative with their names, it just kills me. I love puns, and I love this...

Okay, so, there are a lot of different blogs out there... millions and millions... but not all have almost 900 entries and are not updated regularly. Anyway, now and then I like to pheature a random blog and put it not the...

Today's random blog is a blog I would never read... haha. It's and this is what it looks like.

Go visit the blog if you like and tell them the Phile sent you.

Oh, Target. If you figure it out let me know.

Today's pheatured guest is a gorgeous singer whose CD "Rebelle" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Jillian Valantine.

Me: Hello, Jillian, welcome to the Phile. So, how are you?

Jillian: Thanks! Life has been really great lately. How are YOU?

Me: I am good. Did you know there's a character in "Resident Evil" named Jillian Valentine? That is a great stage name, is it real?

Jillian: I found that out pretty recently, actually. Friends would look for me on Facebook and would complain about having to sort through hundreds of fake "Resident Evil" Jill Valentine's. It’s actually my first and middle name. My real last name will have to remain a mystery...

Me: Jillian, where are you from originally?

Jillian: I’m a Jersey Girl, born and raised. I lived there until I left for college.

Me: You went and graduated from Berklee in Boston, right? Was that a hard school to go to?

Jillian: Yep! I transferred to Berklee after spending a year at Monmouth University, which is on the Jersey Shore. Monmouth was a really great school, but I needed to immerse myself in music... there just wasn’t enough musical opportunities or classes there for me. And yes, Berklee was very hard at times. Subjects like Counterpoint, History of Western Music, Traditional Harmony... they can be very demanding, difficult classes. On the other hand, there are courses like Lyric Writing and Songwriting, as well as many performance classes, that allow students the freedom to be very creative... and when you’re writing from a very organic and honest place, it’s the easiest thing you can do.

Me: What was your major and how well did you do?

Jillian: I majored in Songwriting! I did really well, and it definitely taught me so much. People might wonder how you can “teach” songwriting... but they don’t teach you magical formulas to come up with a hit song. Instead, they teach you the right tools to get you through the writing process (and especially writer’s block!). Before I came to Berklee, I had a lot of random lyrics, melodies, and chords, but none that really made a complete song. Berklee taught me how to piece them all together and eventually how to write them collectively.

Me: You live in New York now right? What part? I grew up in Port Jefferson, Long island. Have you ever been there?

Jillian: Right now, I’m kind of a Tri-State gypsy... I live half of the week in Jersey, the other in New York City. I’ve never been to Port Jefferson, is it on the coast? What I’ve seen of Long Island is beautiful.

Me: It is on the coast. How old were you when you wrote your first song?

Jillian: I’ve written the majority of my songs by myself, and the rest have been co-written with some really talented writers and musicians. I was about 12 or 13 when I wrote my first song. It was just lyrics and melody, and it was about soul-searching in a canoe with candles in the water. I’m pretty sure it stemmed from some dream I was having at the time. It was a really odd song, but I just remember waking up in the middle of the night with it in my head and feeling the need to write it down. And that’s when it all started.

Me: Do you play any instruments as well? The publicity pic you are holding a guitar.

Jillian: I play guitar and piano. I’m definitely not exceptional at either, but they’re amazing songwriting tools and I can get by on both of them to play my songs. I'll definitely be working hard at improving my instrumental skills.

Me: I love your album, Jillian. What can you tell the readers about it?

Jillian: I love every single song on it... but they’re all very different. I know it’s almost standard these days for artists to release albums with songs that sound virtually identical to each other to define their "style," but that’s just not me. I write from my heart as a release of emotions and experiences, and I never feel the same exact way every day. My songs range from falling in love to getting my heart shattered, a happy pop tune to a bluesy, minor ballad... THAT’s me. Listeners will get to experience 10 different parts of me instead of just one... and I think in the end, that will be more gratifying to them AND to myself. I also grew up listening to artists like Ryan Adams and Sheryl Crow, who pumped out numerous records, all with songs that never sounded the same. They’d go from a country song to a rock anthem to a pop tune, all in one record, and I never got bored with them. No matter where I went, I could take just one of their albums along (back when we only had tape and CD players...) and no matter what mood I was in, there was a song on it that would sing to me the right way. I’ve always believed that’s how it should be.

Me: Do you have a band you are working with, and a producer?

Jillian: I have some really great, talented guys that will be playing with me once we get the record complete. I’m lucky to have amazing musicians, who double as friends, to play music with. I do have a producer as well... I’ve worked on this album with Anthony Krizan. He’s unbelievably talented and we work really well together... he always seems to be on the same page when we’re working on a song. I think that you can’t ask for much more in a producer than someone who can understand who you are as an artist, bring out the best in you and then push you beyond your normal comfort zone to really go above and beyond.

Me: You have a wide range of influences, don't you? Have you met any of them?

Jillian: I do. I think it makes you a much better musician when you listen to a variety of artists... you really soak up different aspects of every genre of music. I’ve met a few of my favorites... Jonny Lang, Tristan Prettyman, Gavin DeGraw. They’ve all inspired me greatly in their own way, and meeting them only made me admire them more. They were all really great people.

Me: I am just starting to listen to Ray LaMontange. I know you like him.

Jillian: He’s so talented... his voice is just unreal. If I was stranded on a desert island, he would definitely be a top contender for people I’d like to be stranded there with me... I’d be content listening to him play on our little beach for our entire isolation period. Seriously.

Me: Jillian, I was looking at your photos on your web page and noticed you have a tattoo on your wrist. I have to show the pic here...

Me: What is it and is that the only one you have?

Jillian: I do! I actually have two tattoos... one on each wrist. My left wrist says “fearless," my right says “faith." I never realized that they went together perfectly side by side, as well as individually, until months after I got “faith." When people ask what they mean, I simply say, “A reminder to be, and to have."

Me: Jillian, go ahead and plug your website and tell the Phile readers what you want.


Me: I wish you a lot of luck, and thanks for taking part.

Jillian: Thanks so much for the interview! Your site is a really great read, I'll definitely be visiting often to learn about the great artists you discover on here.

Me: Cool, and come back anytime.

That about does it for this entry. Thanks to Jillian for a great interview. The Phile will be off next Sunday but will be back on Monday with British singer Steve Mccormick. 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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