Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pheaturing Beto Hale

Hey there, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. How are you? It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month... I hope your Halloween costume will make me more aware of your breasts than a pink ribbon did. Ha. Sorry, that was a dick thing to say. I apologize.
His palms sweaty, knees week, arms heavy, Eminem pumped up the crowd at last night's Detroit Pistons opener, which was also the team's first game at their new arena. Fans were psyched to see their hometown hero Slim Shady, fresh off of a viral anti-Trump rap that was more fire than any old boring, written op-ed. Also present at the game was Trump fan and potential senate candidate Kid Rock, who got a less loving reception than Eminem. Detroit is not a Trumpy town. Wayne County, where the city lies, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary. Kid Rock will have to work hard to win them over in his senate campaign, especially if Eminem jumps in, because this is the world we're living in now.
We've all had a few terrible, no good, very bad days. It's pretty much impossible to stay alive and avoid the days where you spill hot coffee all over your freshly washed pants, or accidentally send a sext to a family member because you opened wrong typing window. However, despite the barrage of universally horrible days, most of us can take solace in the fact that we've never set our house on fire while killing a spider. According to a report from the local news station KVOA, a man in Tucson, Arizona set his mobile home on fire when he used a blowtorch to scorch a fleet of spiders and spiderwebs. At the time of the fire, an elderly woman was carried out of the home to safety. Luckily, no one sustained injuries. While The Tucson Fire Department didn't officially pin the blame of the fire on the man's deep hatred of spiders, they did claim it was "under investigation" and that his use of a blowtorch on a series of webs was likely the cause of the flames. Most of our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days couldn't hold a candle (or blowtorch) to this man's story. Honestly, the only thing worse than setting his house on fire, is having people roast you for setting it on fire while trying to kill a spider. While most of us can't say we've flamed our home in this specific way, who among us hasn't dreamed of taking a torch to a spider that startled us?! All I can say is, damn, I hope this man has 800 better days than this in his near future.
During last night's tax debate, Ted Cruz, who likes to think he's funny, made a cringingly awkward "Curb Your Enthusiasm" joke to Bernie Sanders (who, as it turns out, is a distant cousin of Larry David). It seems pretty obvious that Cruz had prepared this joke before the debate and was eager to shoe-horn it into the conversation at the first chance he got, as evidenced by the shit-eating grin on his face as he said it. This wasn't a joke that struck him at the moment, this was a prepared bit, because Cruz, despite his best attempts, is nowhere near funny enough to come up with even something as predictable as a tired Larry David/Bernie Sanders comparison joke. It got a laugh from the audience and even a polite one from Sanders. Cruz, of course, always laughs at his own jokes (ugh). Cruz continued, remarking on how great an impression Larry David does of Bernie Sanders on "SNL," prompting Sanders to comment that one day maybe someone will want to do an impression of Ted Cruz. They might have to, but I guarantee no one will ever want to.
In the last 24 plus hours, Donald Trump said 1. That every president disrespected gold star families, especially Obama. 2. Used his Chief of Staff's deceased son as a political prop. 3. Made a fallen soldier's widow cry by telling her that her husband "knew what he was signing up for... but when it happens, it hurts anyway." Ever the tactful, comforting gentleman, the president proceeded to say that he had proof he didn't say that horrible thing... but the mother of the late Sgt. La David Johnson told the "Washington Post" that yes, he did say that terrible thing, and it hurt more than Sgt. Johnson's widow. Mrs. Cowanda Jones-Johnson that she was riding in the limousine when the president called, and heard the conversation over speakerphone. The "Post" reports, "Johnson's mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told "The Washington Post" on Wednesday that she was in the car during the call from the White House and that "President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband." Jones-Johnson, speaking to "The Post" via Facebook Messenger, declined to elaborate. But asked whether Wilson's account of the conversation between Trump and the family was accurate, she replied, "Yes." The White House did not yet confirm or deny the report. My thoughts go out to the late Sgt. Johnson's family. You can donate to the official GoFundMe to provide scholarships to his children here...
Brace yourself, because the following content might cause your eyes to bleed. At least, it will cause you to squint and question your abilities of perception for a hot minute. On Sunday, the McDonalds U.K. Facebook page posted an optical illusion and the Internet is still reeling. Here it is...

Can you see the meaning?! CAN YOU READ BETWEEN THE LINES?! What is reality?! Is the earth real?! Are you craving the delicious horror of chicken McNuggets yet?! They captioned the image: "Tag a friend who can read between the lines." Understandably, Facebook users and McDonalds lovers across the globe are currently rubbing their eyes in pain. McDonalds has no regrets about the ordeal. Meanwhile, the rest of us are straight up dizzy from the wear and tear of the optical illusion. These can't be good for our long term eye health. Have you been able to decode the hidden message, or are you left weeping in the dark, wondering where all your loved ones have disappeared to?! I can't stop staring at this beautiful piece of torture. PS: It says "Bring McNuggets"... try looking at it sideways.
So, one thing about me is I like to follow the rules... but some people take it just a little bit too far...

That's disgusting. If I had a TARDIS I would like to go back in time and see a president, but knowing my luck I'll probably end up seeing this...

Bill Clinton at 3-years-old. Have you seen the poster for the new Star Wars movie? I didn't know it was a Pixar film...

Speaking of movies, there's a new version of It out.

Haha. So, ever call in sick from work and get busted for lying? This guy did...

Rookie mistake, Kevin. Stay off social media if you're going to fake being sick. Trust me. So, parents, did you ever get a note from your kids' teacher like this?

Haha. So, all this month I am showing you pics of one of my favorite things... side boobs with tattoos. Enjoy, kids...

Halloween is in 12 days and you might still be looking for something to wear. Let me help you... how about a sexy bot?

Be one of the bots that spewed propaganda during the 2016 election and continues to sow division in the country over social media! For extra points, combine it with the Russian costume I showed you on Monday. Man, Halloween is about two weeks away and there's already some costumes I am tired of seeing... like a fidget spinner... Seriously, there already is one.

Haha. Hey, it's Thursday. You know what that means...

John Robert Lind had a real hard-on for his co-worker, Pat Maas. One day, when she was returning to her cubicle, she caught him standing in front of her desk with his hands in front of his genitals. When Lind turned around, Maas said he had the look of a “deer in headlights” and quickly ran away. She then noticed a strange odor coming from fluid on her desk, and looked at her nearby coffee mug, and it all, ahem, came together. Maas had been complaining of funny-tasting coffee, and it turns out that Lind had been jerking off into her mug for six months. Because there was no sexual contact, Lind could not be prosecuted for a felony, so police charged him with indecent exposure and lewd behavior, a misdemeanor to which he pleaded guilty. Sick bastard. He was the cream in her coffee. Haha.

Ha. This is stupid. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. I would be surprised if you don't spot it. Okay, my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was little. That show sure has changed over the years...

Bert and Ernie throw up gang signs and shout racial slurs. hoping to trick a group of black teenagers into throwing their life away fighting two crazy motherfuckers.

Okay, it's Thursday and the reason I post this blog on Thursday's is so my good friend Jeff and I can talk football. Yay!

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome back to the Phile. How are you doing?

Jeff: Always great to be back on the Phile. I'm doing all right. How about yourself?

Me: I'm not too bad. So, did you see the Jaguars WR Marqise Lee was caught on camera yelling a homophobic slur at a referee? He's gonna get fined if he hasn't already I bet.

Jeff: Yeah, I saw what Lee did. I hope he gets fined big time for that. There's no excuse for a grown man to say that because of a game. But hey what do I know?

Me: I thought this was funny... every NFL player to grace the cover of "Sports Illustrated" in 2017 is now injured... with only fucking Brady left. I hope he gets hurt soon. Hahaha.

Jeff: I'm not one to encourage anyone to get hurt. Regardless of how I feel about the player, or the team. It's been a tough year as far as stars getting injured, and we're only in week 7. We have a lot more to go.

Me: This is sickening as well... With his win on Sunday, Tom Brady now has the most regular season wins in NFL history. Ugh! I think Peyton Manning had the prior record. I'm thinking this is is his last year playing, do you?

Jeff: Sadly no, Brady has plans to play well beyond this year and judging by the numbers he's putting up he's far from being done. Think of how many more wins Brady could have had if he didn't miss an entire year due to injury as well missing games last year due to his suspension. Yes, Peyton did have the record prior to this week. Brady can thank the refs in that game for the record.

Me: So, Brock Osweiler has an interesting resume... Super Bowl ring, $72 Million contract, traded to Browns, then cut, star of Twilight, back as starter for the Broncos. What's next for him, Jeff?

Jeff: Considering the number of teams Osweiler has been on in just the past 3 years, I'm surprised he had time to make Twilight. But then again, it looks like those movies were made within a weekend. 

Me: Haha. So, any other NFL news this week, Jeff?

Jeff: Like we talked about earlier, injuries are a big thing this year. Now Aaron Rodgers is injured with a broken collarbone and it could be for the year. That would be a big loss for the Packers and the NFL. Earlier in the year, the Saints traded Adrian Peterson to the Cardinals. Peterson got more yards in one game with Arizona then he had in 5 games with New Orleans. Ezekial Elliot's suspension has been overturned again so he can play this week!

Me: Hey, did you see Disney has yet once again taken over another team?

Me: What do you think?

Jeff: Now that would make an excellent logo. The Detroit Scars!

Me: Hey, have you seen the new Miami Dolphins inspirational poster they have out?

Me: Hahaha. That made me laugh.

Jeff: That is an accurate poster! Another caption could be "Now the Dolphins offense makes more sense."

Me: Ha! Okay, so, the Giants finally won a game! I am so excited. But the Steelers also won... So, how did we do last week? You're still winning I know.

Jeff: Yup, the Giants finally won. The Steelers won. We both went 1-1 in our picks. So I maintain my 9 point lead. The score is 16-7.

Me: Okay, let's pick this weeks picks... I say Jets by 1 and unfortunately I have to say the Patriots will beat the Falcons by 4. I never "betted" against the Falcons before.

Jeff: My picks are Chiefs by 4 and Eagles by 7.

Me: Okay, Jeff, I will see you here next Thursday. Have a good week.

Jeff: See you next Thursday!

Are you a lazy person? I bet you're not as lazy as this guy...

It's 12:39 p.m., 83° and Kelly does it all and then some. Since winning the inaugural season of "American Idol" 15 years ago, she has been awarded multiple Grammys, released 7 albums, became a mother, and, to top it all off, will be a coach on "The Voice" in 2018. But despite all that, there are still people who insist on focusing on Clarkson's weight. WHY!?!? While performing at the historic Rainbow Room in New York City this weekend, Clarkson addressed the obsession with her weight and "all the fat jokes" people have made over the years. Before launching into a new song called "Whole Lotta Woman," Clarkson made this speech, "Too skinny, too fat, too blonde... so much blah. This is who I am and I’m happy. Happy looks different on everyone. The media has always been obsessed with it. And I have felt conflicted over the years. Do you address it? Do you talk about it? Because then you just add to the noise. But people like me to talk about it, so I don’t really mind carrying that flag. I love that people come up to me and say, “Because you are comfortable in your skin, you have made me more comfortable in mine.' That’s the best compliment ever. Hell yeah.

Last night, "the firm behind an explosive dossier," AKA the pee-tape that sent the Internet into hysterics back in January, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee. Once there, they refused to testify about who funded the report's production, arguing that that testifying would "breach their clients' confidentiality," according to "Newsweek." "No American should have to experience today's indignity," stated their lawyer. Indignity? Meet Donald Trump: This morning, Trump weighed in on the pee-tape. "Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th," wrote Trump. "Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?" Twitter was again delighted, as they are with any new mention of the dossier. Mainly, they wanted to know if Trump's tweet meant that, indeed, the pee-pee tape was real. The dossier, published in its entirety by BuzzFeed, alleged that Russian authorities could exploit a video they may have taken of Trump watching prostitutes "perform a 'golden showers' (urination) show in front of him" in a room "he knew President and Mrs. OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed [in] on one of their official trips to Russia." According to "Newsweek," the report "was initially financed by anti-Trump Republicans before being continued by Democrats during the 2016 general election." While most of Trump's detractors on Twitter couldn't help screaming IS THE PEE TAPE REAL, Trump's morning tweet had other implications. The more serious side of the conversation weighed in to put Trump's latest conspiracy theory into context. That's a bit more depressing than screaming pee-pee tape into the ether with a thousand exclamation points, so please allow me this moment of joy so I don't have to question what Donald Trump's wild accusations will do to the country: Ahem, pee tape.

The 68th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Robbie Robertson will be the guest on the Phile next Thursday.

Snapchat is an image messaging application, one of the principal aspects of which is that profits disappear shortly after they are created.

Okay, today's pheatured guest is a singer-songwriter from Mexico City whose new album "Orbs of Light" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Beto Hale.

Me: Hey, Beto, welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you?

Beto: Doing great! Thank you for the interview!

Me: I have to mention your name... it sounds like a character from Star Wars. Haha. Has anybody said that to you before? Are you a Star Wars fan?

Beto: Funny you should ask. My parents actually wanted to name me Chewbacca, but the nurse talked them out of it. I do like Star Wars, but I am more of a Mars Attacks! fan. I especially like the part where the aliens blow up Congress.

Me: You are from Mexico City, am I right? As you probably know there was a devastating earthquake there recently. Do you still have family and friends there? Are they okay?

Beto: Thank you for asking. Every family member and friend I have contacted is okay, but very traumatized. It was a terrible experience. Many people died, many left without a home. If I may, I’d like to share a site that is taking donations to help the victims. It was started by actors Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal: Any donation helps.

Me: Do you still live there or go back often?

Beto: Very often. It’s an incredible place; full of culture, incredible food, amazing people.

Me: I was watching your video for the title track of the album... "Orbs of Light" and it looks like the video was partly filmed there, am I right?

Beto: It was. In fact, the tall building you see the main character in at the beginning had to be evacuated and thoroughly checked to make sure it was still habitable. I believe people were able to go back to live there, though.

Me: Was the video filmed after the earthquake?

Beto: No, way before.

Me: When you wrote that song and it was way before the earthquake, so how did you chose that song to be that video, Beto?

Beto: I played different songs from the album for the video’s director and producer, Gregory Allen and Andrew Donaldson of Plural Films, and they chose “Orbs of Light."

Me: Did you come up with the concept of the video? What is the concept and what was the original story line of the song?

Beto: The concept was completely from the mind of the director. The video reflects a lot of the main message of the song, which is hope in the face of hardship. The video and the song lyrics are somewhat related, but the video is in no way a literal interpretation of every lyric line I wrote.

Me: You have been making music for a long time, sir. Your first album "American Mythology" which came out eleven years ago is half Spanish and half English, am I right? Is it harder to sing in English or Spanish?

Beto: Actually, that was my second album. My first album is called "Sube" (which means “rise”). Yes; "American Mythology" has songs in both languages. I think Spanish is harder to write in, because you have so many more syllables, and I think it’s harder to not sound corny. Singing in Spanish or English is similarly challenging.

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

Beto: About 10. I took classical guitar lessons for around a year, then decided to learn on my own because I was mostly interested in learning to play and sing Beatles songs.

Me: On the new album, you play pretty much all the instruments. Which instrument did you learn first and what is your favorite instrument to play? Do you play kazoo?

Beto: My first instrument was the drum set. I taught myself, then took lessons many years later. And yes, I am a mean kazooist.

Me: When you write do you use guitar? I am guessing you do.

Beto: Yes, the songs on this album in particular were mostly written on guitar. I also write on piano, and sometimes on kazoo.

Me: Haha. How long did it take you to write and record the album, Beto?

Beto: All in all, around two years.

Me: You have your own studio in Los Angeles. I am sure it has a cool name, does it?

Beto: Yes, it’s called Los Olivos Recording Studios. The studio is lined by some gorgeous olive trees, hence the name.

Me: Do you just use it or do you rent it out?

Beto: It is available for outside projects, but I am very selective as to who comes in.

Me: Is that something you wanted to do for a long time? Have your own studio?

Beto: Yes, my whole life. It's a dream come true.

Me: In your music I hear the Police, Beatles, and some new wave. A bunch of different influences actually, and your songs are all very catchy. Growing up in Mexico what bands did you listen to? 

Beto: Those bands for sure, as well as Rush, Genesis, Yes, and of course a lot of different Mexican music.

Me: You went to Berklee in Boston... what was that experience like? What did you study there?

Beto: It was a great experience in a very competitive environment. I majored in performance (drum set) and songwriting.

Me: Boston is so different than Mexico City... what was the biggest "culture shock" for you living there?

Beto: On the one hand, the coldness of the local population. Not the friendliest bunch around (not everyone, of course, I had some incredible teachers who are still friend of mine today). On the other, the coldness of the weather.

Me: I love the song "Share Your Joy." It's such an uplifting tune that makes me smile. Were you in a really good mood when you wrote and recorded that song, Beto?

Beto: Yes, I was! A very special aspect of that recording is the participation of L.A.’s Musyca Children’s Choir, which includes my 12-year old son.

Me: Cool. I have to mention the video for "Closer to You," which was filmed 360 degrees. Was that your idea? Where was it filmed?

Beto: It was also the idea of the director, Gregory Allen. It was filmed in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, a beachside neighborhood of Tijuana.

Me: I think your video was the first to be filmed that way. Unfortunately, on my computer for some reason it's not in 360 but still looks very cool.

Beto: One of the first, for sure! On the computer, you need to watch it on Facebook or on YouTube, using the YouTube app on a mobile device.

Me: You were in a few bands back when you lived in Mexico City, and one of those bands was El Gru-Po... first off, what does that mean?

Beto: Yes, I played in several bands. El Gru-Po is a silly pun, a play on words. In Spanish, “pope” means “poop” so, if you say “El Gru-po pó” it means “The Poop Band”… Very silly middle school humor!

Me: Haha. Second, did you do covers or originals? If you did covers what are some of the covers you did?

Beto: Mostly covers. We did “Hotel California," Stairway to Heaven," “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and others.

Me: Beto, thanks so much for being on the Phile. My heart goes out to everyone in Mexico City, sir. Go ahead and mention your website and anything else you want. Take care, and continued success. Please come back on the Phile again soon.

Beto: That is very kind of you. Thank you for having me! I appreciate it very much. Here are my sites:,, Twitter: @betohale, Instagram: @betohale.

Me: Great job. Take care, Beto, and I will make a donation to that charity.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz and of course Beto Hale. The Phile will be back on Sunday with singer-songwriters Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones. 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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pheaturing Joe Negri

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you doing? It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, kids. Please get a breast exam and pleas call me if you need a second opinion. Haha.
Alright, Al Michaels has been one of the most prominent voices in sports announcing for decades but yesterday, he learned a simple lesson. If you want to joke about Harvey Weinstein the same week that years and years of the Hollywood producer's alleged sexual assault and harassment came to light, it better be fucking hilarious... I mean you just shouldn't. "I mean let's face it, the Giants are coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein, and they're up 14 points!" said Michaels, to instantaneous fury from the Internet. After a commercial break, according to the "Washington Post," Michaels gave his apologies for the lapse in judgment."Sorry I made a reference earlier, I was trying to be a little flip about somebody obviously very much in the news all over the country, and it was not meant in that manner. So, my apologies, and, um, we'll just leave it at that." Of course, Michaels did have his Twitter defenders after the ad-lib went wrong. But like James Corden learned on Friday night, it's simply smarter to avoid any Weinstein jokes unless you've got something insightful and empathetic to say. Scratch that. Ha!
One of the toughest challenges in comedy is figuring out when it's right to make a joke about a tragedy, and when you should just shut up and listen. Oftentimes, the answer directly correlates with how well you empathize with the tragedy's victims. Basically, if you're going to joke about rape and sexual assault, the joke will be 800% more funny, effective and tasteful if you understand how serious and traumatic sexual abuse is. Otherwise, even the most well-intentioned joke feels like it's mocking victims of sexual assault. For example, on Friday night James Corden made jokes about Harvey Weinstein while hosting the AmfAR Gala to benefit AIDS research. To make matters worse, his hosting set didn't merely mention Weinstein in passing, but fully buckled in to roast the alleged abuser. The results, came off as deeply cringe inducing, to say the least. The British comic kicked off his set by greeting audience members with a reference to the abuse allegations against Weinstein. From there, he really dug in."This is a beautiful room. It’s a beautiful night here in L.A. So beautiful, Harvey Weinstein has already asked tonight up to his hotel to give him a massage. It has been weird this week though, watching Harvey Weinstein in hot water. Ask any of the women who watched him take a bath. Harvey Weinstein wanted to come tonight, but sadly he’ll settle for whatever potted plant is closest." Yikes. Unsurprisingly, people on Twitter felt Corden's jokes trivialized the seriousness of the Weinstein allegations. The actress Rose McGowan, who has been particularly outspoken in the past few weeks about Weinstein and Hollywood's sexual assault problem, minced no words when she expressed her disapproval of the hosting bit. McGowan certainly wasn't alone in her disgust towards the tone, content and timing of the Weinstein jokes. It wasn't just women on Twitter who disapproved of the bit, men spoke up in disapproval as well. In fact, a lot of Twitter users in England revealed a longstanding distaste for the comedian. Following the backlash, Corden posted an apology on Twitter. "To be clear, sexual assault is no laughing matter. I was not trying to make light of Harvey’s inexcusable behavior.​​, but to shame him, the abuser, not his victims. I am truly sorry for anyone offended, that was never my intention," Corden wrote. Hopefully, some of Corden's peers are paying attention, so we can avoid more bad "takes" on the Weinstein allegations.
The man most widely known as the publisher of "Hustler," Larry Flynt, posted a full page ad in the Sunday edition of "The Washington Post" offering $10 million dollars to anyone who can get Trump impeached. He's not kidding, either. The full page bold print ad features an eye-catching all caps header offering cash in exchange for dirt that could enable impeachment,

The advertisement also lays out six key reasons Flynt feels Trump is unfit for office, and why it's crucial to get him out as soon as possible. Once his grievances with Trump are laid out, Flynt turns the mic towards the reader, imploring anyone who might have dirt or a "smoking gun" that could get Trump impeached to come forward and claim $10 million. "Did he make some financial quid pro quo with the Russians? Has the business of the United States been compromised to protect the business of the Trump empire? We need to flush everything out into the open," the ad states. The ad ends with a toll-free number, an email address and the explicit promise that Flynt will fully reward anyone who comes forward. The hotline will be staffed between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. PST, for the next two weeks. "I feel it is my patriotic duty, and the duty of all Americans, to dump Trump before it’s too late," Flynt wrote.
Last weekend, certain locations of McDonald's brought back their Szechuan sauce (which came out as a promotion for the Disney movie Mulan) after sci-fi cartoon "Rick and Morty" fans demanded it, based on an episode of the show. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned, and most of the fans who wanted the McNuggets dipping sauce weren't able to get it. Lines were long, supply was low, and people ended up scalping packets of the sauce for as much as $700 on eBay, according to "EW." McDonald's apologized, but irate fans of the show really let them have it on Twitter. Well, buck up, campers, because it turns out that McDonald's IS bringing back the Szechuan sauce, and this time for more than a day. McDonald's issued a statement on Twitter saying, in part, Szechuan sauce is coming back once again this winter. And instead of being one-day-only and limited to certain restaurants, we’re bringing back more... a lot more... so that any fan who’s willing to do whatever it takes for Szechuan sauce will only have to ask for it at a nearby McDonald’s. I guess all that complaining paid off!
Halloween is just around the corner, and you know what that means... it is finally time to turn up your favorite spooky bop, "The Monster Mash." It's practically impossible not to put on your best spooky voice and sing along to this banger that is, no joke, scientifically proven to be the single best Halloween song in existence. But get this... you've never heard the actual "Monster Mash" song. Confused? Allow me to explain. The 1962 song "The Monster Mash" by Bobby Pickett is merely a song ABOUT a song called "The Monster Mash." The narrator is describing the scene as an observer, and therefore you never actually get to hear the music all those monsters and ghouls were jamming to. Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking that "The Monster Mash" was a dance and not a song at all. But a lyrical fact-check proved that untrue. So yeah, everything you know is a lie! But hey, don't let that stop you from doing the "Transylvania twist" at all the Halloween parties you attend.
Hey, do you like Bugles? I do, but prefer Pringles. Anyway, I do like Bugles' ad slogan...

The Giants finally won yesterday! Yay! I have an exclusive pic of Giants fans after the game ended...

Hahahahaha. I crack myself up. So, ever see those tip jars at restaurants? Some times businesses get really creative with them...

Why?! Ever go into a public restroom and see something you wish you hadn't? Like this...

What the hell? Hey, do you remember Mini Me from the Austin Powers movies? This is him now...

Do you feel old yet? Hahaha. That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

Did you see the trailer for the new Star Wars movie? I learnt something from it... R2-D2 finally revealed himself as a diabolical arsonist.

So, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and through this month I am showing you pics of one of my favorite things... side boobs with tattoos.

You. Are. Welcome. Fellas... and ladies if you are into that sort of thing. So, Halloween is in fifteen days away and you might still be looking for a Halloween costume. Well, I can help... how about a sexy Russian?

I, for one, welcome our new Russian overlords. There's some costumes I am already tired of seeing already. Like a sexy Wonder Woman... Hey... there is nothing wrong with dressing sexy or with being Wonder Woman this Halloween. But let's be real... it's not exactly original. I get it! The movie was cool and Wonder Woman is a total BAMF... but the thought of crowds of Wonder Women hobbling around on a chilly autumn night in tiny body suits and 6 inch heels is enough to make me want to dress up as Ares. Alright, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things You Don't Want To Hear Coming From The Next Restroom Stall Again
5. This is gonna be a water landing worthy of Sully Sullenberger!
4. I don't remember eating that! Or that! Those, I remember!
3. U-oh... maybe sidesaddles wasn't such a good idea!
2. Another white linen suit, RUINED!
And the number one thing you don't wanna hear coming from the next restroom stall is...
1. Darling, you know I can't afford a motel room on my salary!

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, my son and I were talking about when we used to watch "Sesame Street" when he was a kid. That show is slightly different now, and I'm glad it wasn;t like that years ago.

After his third failed attempt to spell his own name, Grover realizes that he should have waited at least until 1st grade before dropping out to sell cocaine.

Are you a lazy person? I bet you are not this lazy...

Hahaha. I might have or might not have done that exact thing when I lived at the house. Now I just put the trash on the hood of my car and drive it to the dumpster. Ugh. Donald Trump reportedly joked that Mike Pence wants to hang all gay people. Jesus fucking Christ.

A lengthy October piece in the "New Yorker" called "The Danger of President Pence" has gone viral for a single quote attributed to President Trump. You can imagine that people have strong opinions about the exchange, relayed to a reporter by "a staff member from Trump's campaign." He said that, when people met with Trump after stopping by Pence’s office, Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?” Two sources also recalled Trump needling Pence about his views on abortion and homosexuality. During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy... he wants to hang them all!” In one paragraph, we see that Trump mocks Mike Pence, catnip for anyone who hates the administration... but that he does so with such flippant disregard for a vulnerable community that it negates any goodwill you might instinctively award him. After all, the guy who Trump says "wants to hang them all" is also the guy Trump chose to succeed him. No matter how you spin it, the fact that an exchange like this could happen at any moment in the Oval Office is, to put it mildly, terrifying. Then you remember the title of the "New Yorker" piece is "The Danger of President Pence" and it dawns on you that while one of these guy's is the president, the other is a heartbeat/impeachment away. What a choice. The piece... which paints Pence as the more competent of the two psychopaths... goes on to say that while the White House has had "other evangelical Christians" there before, "Pence's fundamentalism exceeds theirs." This is a guy who wants evolution taught as a "theory." A guy who's been repeatedly linked to gay conversion therapy. A guy who doesn't trust himself to be alone with any woman other than his wife. So, yeah.

This is really, really cool... the 68th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The one and only Robbie Robertson will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks. So freaking cool!

A man came home to find his house in flames. In a panic, he rushed to his neighbor's house to use the phone to call 911. He dialed and the dispatcher quickly answered. "Help!" he said to the dispatcher. "My house is on fire!" "Okay sir, we can help. How do we get there?" the dispather calmly asked. "What? Don't you still have those big red trucks?"

Today's guest is a jazz guitarist whose CD "Uptown Elegance" is available on iTunes. Also, for years he was known as Handyman Joe on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Please welcome to the Phile... Joe Negri.

Me: Hey, there, Joe. Welcome to the Phile. How are you doing, sir?

Joe: I'm okay, Jason.

Me: You've been a musician and an educator for a long time, Joe. What came first, musician or educator?

Joe: About forty years but I have been in show business since I was a kid. I really started when I was very small, about three or four years old I was appearing on children's radio shows. They were called "The Uncles Shows." Uncle Harry and Uncle Harry. There was all kids back then and I did them. They had Jackie Cooper and Shirley Temple and people like that. It was the Depression so people were hoping their kids would make it to California and make it to Hollywood. I kept performing when I was in my early teens and I had a serious voice change and I didn't particularly want to sing anymore as my voice was cracking. I kind of cooled it for year or two but then I got seriously into guitar. I use to accompany myself on guitar but mainly for singing. When I got serious on guitar my dad took me to a rather good local teacher. His name was Dick Lawrence. He instroduced me to some early pioneers of the jazz guitar. You know, people like Eddie Lang and Carl Kress, Django Reinhardt. I personally discovered Charlie Christian and Charlie was a fellow out of Oklahoma that joined the Benny Goodman band and did a lot of wonderful recordings with the Benny Goodman Sextuplet. Gene Cooper was in that group. A lot of wonderful guys. Charlie died very young from turboclious. He wasn't even 26 I don't think. He also had a little hand in starting the be-bop trend. He was a very big influence to me and was seriously into music. From my early show biz days I became a full fledge musician.

Me: Did you go to school to study music, Joe?

Joe: I went to Carnegie Mellon to study composition because at the time I don't know if you were aware of it, Jason, but they didn't recognize guitar at the colleges. So I had to go in there as a composition major. Johnny Costa from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" was a friend of mine and we were both WWII vets and Johnny had gone into Carnegie Mellon two years before me. He highly recommended it so I kind of went in and they accepted me a composition major. While I was there about 2 years in I got the call to start on this local television show and I remember going to the comp teacher and saying, "Jeez, I don't know what to do." He said, "What do you want to do with your life?" And I said, "I just want to be a musician." He said, "Then go ahead." So I took the gig on the TV show which was the start of it.

Me: When you started on TV what kinda stuff were you doing?

Joe: You are not going to believe it. They were like a Bob Hope and Crosby duo. One was a comedy guy and the other sang and played a little piano. I had the trio that backed them up and was featured on a number or two in a half hour show. So from there about year or two later they offered me a job on an afternoon kind of like a talk show like a Johnny Carson show with guests and then led me getting a staff job at the ABC station here in Pittsburgh which was called WTAE. I was doing shows at the station backing up the children's program. I don't know if you remember but back in the 50s or early 60s there was a lot of afternoon children's shows. You probably grew up in the 70s though. Anyway, we had one here called "Adventure Time" I used to host. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts would be guests and then there'd be cartoons and stuff. 

Me: When you went into TV was it to play music or be on TV, Joe?

Joe: It was a means to make a decent living. That was appealing to me because in the evenings I was still going out and playing jazz gigs. Jamming and doing stuff like that. When I became teaching I guess I began to take up a few guitar students. It was also that time that I met Fred Rogers. He called me one day and said, "Hey, Joe, I'm going to start a new show. Would you like to play the handyman on the show?"

Me: So, why do you think he asked you to be a handyman, Joe?

Joe: I don't know. I said you got to be kidding me. You're asking the wrong man to be the handyman. He said you'll be terrific, then we started that show.

Me: Okay, so, what did you think of Fred Rogers back then? Did you ever think his show would be so legendary?

Joe: I was very impressed by him. He was the head writer and did all that. I don't think Fred knew where we were going. Little by little the show picked up on the public broadcasting network and one day he said you're not going to believe this but they are going to begin to broadcast our show overseas to the armed services. We went to Europe and they say us in the Phiilipines. It was the time when our competitors was "Sesame Street." Fred was always critical of "Sesame Street."

Me: Okay, so, people made fun of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" show for years. Did you guys take it seriously or was it a joke to you behind the scenes?

Joe: I don't think we were passionately involved with the children's thing although we were all aware what his purpose was. He worked with the educators of Pittsburgh University and they would look over his scripts and make suggestions to him so they were very much involved with the education of kids. He was also a minister so he was a well rounded guy. He was a lot of fun and he could be humorous. When we would finish watching the tapes for the day he would go to the piano and he would play that theme from the movie... that's all folks. He would break us up. He was very demanding. He wrote his scripts and he wanted them to the letter. You couldn't go in there and ad lib, you had to do what he wrote.

Me: Alright. I have never watched the show so really know nothing about it. I know there was a puppet king of some sort and a train and he took off his sweater and shoes in the beginning of the show. What exactly was your role in the show, Joe?

Joe: I would occasionally go into the recording studio with the combo for post and stuff like that. The only time I really got to play we would being guests into Negri's Music Shop.

Me: Ahhh. Okay. So, you had guests on the show then? Did you have famous people guest on the show? If so, any favorites? Any good stories?

Joe: One of the best was Yo-Yo Ma, he was just cool. I was kind of edgy to play with him. He wanted to something classical so he took something Fred wrote called "Tree, Tree, Tree" and we played it and it was absolutely spectacular. It was beautiful. It was just simple and nice and ideal. It couldn't be better.

Me: I have a screen shot from that moment, Joe...

Me: So, was being on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" your full time job?

Joe: No, no, no. I was still working at TAE. Then when TAE dropped me in the late 80s that's when I really got into education and started testing at Carnegie Mellon and Duquesne. I'm still there but I'm not at Carnegie Mellon anymore, Jason. They have decided to drop their jazz program.

Me: Okay, so, I have a question that you might not want to answer... but I will ask it. Haha. I hope this is not stepping out of line but "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" is still shown to this day on PBS and I'm sure other stations, so, do you get royalties for that, Joe?

Joe: Yes, we do. But just to put it simply there's so problems with the royalties. For some reason we got them early and then they stopped. We have been in touch with the Sag-Aftra union. I brought you up to date. I'm still playing guitar and still writing.

Me: That's great. Real quick, I have to ask you about your recording career and CDs. How did you come to work with Michael Feinstein?

Joe: Oh, he called me. I used to work with him with the Pittsburgh Symphony for parks concert and he and I hit of off well so he called me to do it so we went up to New York and did that album. Listen, there are somethings up on YouTube that my granddaughter did if me playing solos. You need to check them out.

Me: I definitely will and I'll post the links here so my readers can check them out as well. Thanks, Joe, for being on the Phile. Now I wanna go watch an episode or two of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

Joe: Good, it is wonderful that I can get across to you. Wonderful to talk to you, Jason.

Me: Thank you, Joe. Take care.

Hmmm. That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guest Joe Negri. I hope he had fun being here on the Phile. You can check his videos on YouTube at The Phile will be back on Thursday with New Mexican singer Beto Hale. So, 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