Monday, January 2, 2017

Pheaturing Desert Tundra

Hey there, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? Here's to becoming the best possible versions of ourselves in 2017 for the first few weeks. I can't believe it's January 2nd already... this year is going by quick. Alright, let's start off with a story about Trump's cock, shall we?
Donald Trump's campaign yelling included lots of stuff about being respected and feared in the world, and it's certainly working in Gyna, China. A mall in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan is rang in the Year of the Rooster with a 23 feet tall fowl who resembles a certain foul President-elect.

Who you calling a chicken? It even has it's own red power tie. With unmistakable golden hair, angry glare and familiar gestures, Chicken Trump is a hit, with people paying up to $1,739 for their own replicas, becoming a top selfie destination. The statue was commissioned by the N1 ArtWalkMall, and will now serve as its official mascot, assuring that Trump always has a towering presence in China. China has a thing for flipping Trump the bird by comparing him to birds, as covered by the Communist Party's official newspaper. Trump has surprisingly yet to tweet about his rooster doppelgänger, but when he does, he'll probably be calm, measured, and with a sense of humor. Hahaha.
Twenty-six women might have been fertilized with the incorrect sperm due to what a Dutch IVF treatment center is calling a "procedural error." At least half of the 26 women who underwent treatment at the Utrech University Medical Centre are already pregnant or have given birth, BBC reports. How did this happen? It's believed that one of the lab technicians was using a potentially contaminated pipette to inject sperm between April 2015 and and November 2016. The process that was being used differs from IVF; it's called Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and involves a single sperm being injected into a woman's egg with a pipette. The lab technician was using a different pipette for each procedure, but was using the same rubber top. Upon finding traces of sperm in the rubber top (presumably after following the improper procedure 26 times), the technician raised the alarm."Wanting a child is a very delicate thing, especially when it doesn't involve the normal bedroom way. So people need to have 100% confidence in the method they adopt," said Dutch fertility support group, Freya, of the troubling situation. Safe to say everyone's confidence is a bit shaken by this incident, including innocent bystanders like myself. UMC, which conducts up to 700 ICMI fertilizations per year, will be meeting with all of the couples in the following days, and has offered to conduct a DNA test for any couple who is interested. Is this one of those situations where ignorance isn't bliss? Hard to say. One thing is for sure though, there's a lab technician job open at a Dutch IVF treatment center for anyone who's interested and knows a thing or two about sanitizing a pipette.
Just as soon as we were whisked away from 2016, and thrust into the terrifying future that is 2017. Besides Donald Trump taking office in January, there are plenty of other things to be worried about. But, in case you weren't terrified (please, teach me your ways), we've got a irrefutable bad omen for you: dead birds inexplicably falling from the sky in New Jersey. I'm sorry, do we live in a Hitchcock movie? "All of a sudden it was raining dead birds," reported on the incident. The reporter goes on to describe the carnage, "by the time the brief 'shower' was over, as many as 200 red-winged blackbirds littered the ground in a small housing development off Frank Davis Road surrounded by vast farm fields." What's worse is that this was the second time this happened in the same rural area in a span of several weeks. Sorry to everyone who lives near the Frank Davis Road, but y'all are hexed for sure. Beyond this clearly being a warning sign of a doomsday yet to come, it also presents an immediate danger of being bludgeoned in the head by a dead bird, which sounds painful and disgusting. The incidents, which initially occurred in November, led to an investigation by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to attempt to determine what made the birds fall to the ground, but the results were inconclusive. "We did ascertain that the birds suffered trauma and internal bleeding from hitting the ground. But what made them fall from the sky in the first place... we can't say for certain," said DEP spokesman Larry Hajna. They've ruled out causes including toxic pesticides, as well as the compounds found in wheat seeds in the nearby fields. So for now, maybe all that's left to do is embrace that we live in a sci-fi apocalypse. What was it like to wake up and experience the end-of-the-world seeming situation? Resident Debbie Hitchner describes finding the dead birds in her backyard, "Out in the country like this, you find dead stuff lying around all the time... but this was kind of weird. My dog just kept finding them, one after the other." Looks like things are only going to get weirder.
If you didn't know that Bristol Palin is a blogger, buckle up because you're in for a treat. The daughter of former Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, has written some gems for the religion-focused blog Patheos, like a recent post where she slams Salon for discussing the positive effects of talking about abortion in TV and film. Her latest subject? All of the "sissies" who are refusing to perform at Donald Trump's inauguration. In a post titled "11 A-list artists that refused to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration​," Palin describes those who have said "no thanks" to Trump's invite as "mega-celebrities, who would normally drool over an invitation to sing for the president," who now, "want no part of it." And she just can't wrap her head around why that would be. "Isn’t it amazing how 'not cool' it is to be conservative in the public eye?" Palin writes. If Trump was just conservative, I think people would be a lot less terrified about the future of our country. Rather, it's the fact that he has so thoroughly threatened so many groups of people living in the U.S. by doing things like threaten to make a Muslim registry, joke about sexual assault, and condone white supremacy, to name a few. Being conservative is the least of these performers' worries. I wish we could go back to the days when our elections included one candidate who was a bit more fiscally and socially conservative than another, versus having a candidate with no political background who has been compared to Hitler go up against someone considered the most qualified person to run. Those were the days. Palin finds it impossible to believe that none of the pop stars who were asked to to perform aren't secretly conservative, "we have so many sissies we have in the spot light too scared to stand for what they believe in!" While it's difficult to follow her sentence construction, what she seems to be saying is that there are some performers out there who secretly align with Trump's "conservative" values, but are afraid to admit it. She also uses a pejorative term, "sissies" to make her point, which is homophobic and generally demonstrates a narrow understanding of gender. In the post, Palin goes on to call out specific performers who have been allegedly asked to perform and declined. She calls out Garth Brooks saying, "Brooks and his wife, fellow country legend Trisha Yearwood, had no problem singing for President Obama at this year’s Christmas tree lighting celebration." Clearly, Palin doesn't see a difference between performing for Obama versus performing for Trump. It's not that they're afraid to perform at political events, Bristol! It's that they don't want to support someone who might start World War III with a tweet. Ultimately, Palin uses the sales and success of the one singer who is currently locked in to perform, former "America's Got Talent" contestant Jackie Evancho, to make her point. What she doesn't point out is that the success of Evancho's Christmas album, "Someday at Christmas," could also have simply lined up with the 2016 holiday season (versus being a result of her saying "yes" to the inauguration performance). As we all know, correlation doesn't imply causation. Palin describes her beat in her Patheos bio as, "I am Pro Life, Pro God, and Pro Guns. I enjoy using this blog as a platform to talk about issues that are near and dear to my heart." Well I guess writing weak burns of Elton John's outfits is an issue near and dear to Palin's heart. Keep nailing that beat and honing your craft, Palin. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you think working as Carrie Fisher's ​assistant would have been the best job ever in the history of jobs, you are right. According to this tribute posted on Facebook by the late actress' former assistant, Byron Lane, she was even more awesome than we all thought.

This is a fantastic tribute, complete with goofy pics, that will make you fall in love with Carrie Fisher, and mourn her death, all over again. "We rode dog sleds in Canada, swam hot springs in Japan, pet koalas in Australia," he wrote. "That's how she lived. Extraordinary. Brilliant. Hilarious. And generous!" I could've told you that. But it's reassuring to hear it from someone who not only knew her, but worked for her for three years. Fisher also was known for being real and no-bullshit, which Lane confirms. "She was exactly the same in private as in public," he wrote. "Authentic. Honest. Real." He also said that she "embodied aliveness," which is perfect. The Star Wars actress passed away on Tuesday at the age of 60, breaking approximately a bajillion hearts. But thank you to Cock Ring for sharing these sweet memories with us. Even if we never got to swim with her, or pet a koala with her, we are all So! Lucky! to have known her from afar.
So, did you know McDonald's in China has a delivery service?

America is being out Americaned. Wait. Is that even a word? Hmmm. So, I love Ferrero Rocher, but when I think of it I don't think of this...

WTF? That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

No, Chris Rock isn't stupid. That pic is. Never mind. I thought it was funny. Hey, it's 2017 and there's already a new Chips Ahoy flavor cookie out.

I don't think I would like it. I don't like hot cocoa or marshmallows. Okay, I mentioned at the top top of the blog about the giant Trump Rooster in China, right? Well, there's other Trump doppelgängers out there. Like a caterpillar.

The flannel moth caterpillar (Megalopyge opercularis) sports fluffy, orange tufts that look suspiciously similar to Donald Trump's luxurious mane. Researchers have dubbed it the "Trumpapillar," after the President-elect. Hahaha. It's brilliant. Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive New Things You Don't Want To Hear Coming From The Next Bathroom Stall
5. Hey, buddy... you wouldn't happen to have a wet/dry vac and a pair of safety googles over there, wouldja?
4. Jeez, mom, I'm 46-years-old! I can do this myself!
3. Now where the hell did I put my aquarium net?
2. Wait... before you take the picture, lemme plant the toothpick with the American flag in it!
And the number one thing you don't wanna hear coming out the next bathroom stall is...
1. Wow! I wonder what I could get for that on eBay!

Haha. If you spot the Mindphuck, and I'm sure you will, let me know. This is very easy. Okay, so, yesterday when I interviewed singer Melody Federer she mentioned how she ran off to Paris with a French guy. Being English I can't fantom that. In my mind the 100 Year War is still going on. Then I kept thinking, man, those French people... So, here's a brand new pheature I shall call...

It's the new year, when we're remind that "love actually is all around"... including between a woman and a robot she 3D printed herself (Before you judge, c'mon, like you've never found yourself attracted to C-3PO before? So tall! So shiny!). In this modern day, apparently real "Pygmalion," Lilly is a woman in France in a committed relationship with InMoovator, a robot of her creation, and she plans to marry him "when human-robot marriage is legalized in France." (Not if, when.) “I’m really and only attracted by the robots,” she told, “My only two relationships with men have confirmed my love orientation, because I dislike really physical contact with human flesh.” According to "The Daily Mail," Lilly's family and friends are accepting of her relationship, perhaps because it means they won't have in laws of his side of the family to have to deal with. She's training to be a roboticst in order to feel the same passion in her work life, too. "The Daily Mail" reports that at a recent conference in London, Dr. David Levy, author of "Love and Sex with Robots," stay tuned for the HBO drama and/or TLC original series.

Wait. She has a London sheet or something on her couch. What the hell is that?!

The 55th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Dave will be a guest on the Phile this Thursday.

The 34th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Dan Hogan and this is one of his pieces...

Dan will be on the Phile next week.

Today's pheatured guest is a very talented singer whose new single "Virginia" is available on iTunes, and Spotify, and CDBaby. Please welcome to the Phile... Desert Tundra.

Me: Hello, welcome to the Phile, Desert. How are you?

Desert: Hi! Nice to meet you! Thanks for having me on the Phile. I'm stoked to be here.

Me: Cool. Okay, I'm confused... is your name Janet and you changed it to Desert Tundra or is that the band name?

Desert: Oh my god, good question. It actually confuses a lot of people. Sometimes even I get confused. Just kidding! Okay, so I'm a huge X-Men fan and I love how all the characters have their birth name and their mutant name. Like my favorite character is Mystique, but her birth name is Raven Darkholme. So, Desert Tundra is this sort of alter ego that I've taken on.

Me: What shall I call you?

Desert: You can call me Janet... haha. I feel like a split personality disorder is developing.

Me: Okay, now we got that outta the way, where did the name Desert Tundra come from?

Desert: I got the idea for Desert Tundra about five years ago when my boyfriend at the time, Jordan, was going to Iceland for summer break and I was spending the summer in Arizona with my mom. I wanted to go with him badly but couldn't afford it, so I got really obsessed with Iceland and started to Google everything about it. The words "desert tundra" kept popping up, and I learned that desert tundra's actually exist! Iceland being one of them. I loved the polarity so much it stuck in my head.  

Me: So, where are you originally from?

Desert: I'm originally from Herndon, Virginia. It's a suburb of D.C. If you blink you'll miss it.

Me: Ahhh... I was gonna ask you if your song "Virginia" is about a person or the state but I guess it's about the state, am I right?

Desert: Well, it's both in a way. "Virginia" is sort of an ode to my roots, but it's also a symbol of hope, and never giving up. It echoes in the chorus "hold on a little longer, hold on a little stronger." 

Me: What is it about Virginia that you decided to sing about it?

Desert: I knew I was leaving Virginia and moving to Los Angeles to pursue my music, a journey that countless others have made and failed at. So in a way "Virginia" is my battle cry, my mantra.

Me: How different is Virginia compared to California?

Desert: Well, the weather for one thing. I'm the type of girl who likes to wear almost nothing... haha. Nah, seriously though the opportunity is here but you can't wait for it to knock on your door, you have to kick the door open and smash it to pieces!

Me: When you were a kid you told your mom you wanted to be a rock star, am I right? What did she say when you told her that?

Desert: Now that I look back at it it's pretty funny. She nonchalantly said maybe you should be a pebble first. Like, I didn't get it then, but I totally get it now. Paying your dues, hard work, honing your craft and all that stuff.

Me: Now you're doing the rock star thing what does she think?

Desert: Oh, she's all about it. She's my biggest fan and my number one supporter. I miss her a lot actually.

Me: Does she come out to Los Angeles to visit you often?

Desert: Yes, she does and I cherish every second when she comes and visits. We're really close. It's so fun, we'll like go shopping and stuff, but my favorite is when we stay home and watch Netflix. We call it "movie night."

Me: Has she ever seen any of your concerts? What does she think?

Desert: She hasn't been to any of our shows since I moved here but she's seen me in play back in Virginia. She thinks it's pretty cool. I just hope I make her proud.

Me: Do you have any siblings, Janet, or are you the only child?

Desert: Are you ready for this?! I'm the youngest of 11 siblings. My dad was quite a player so there could be more out there who knows...  hahaha.

Me: So, your music is very rock and roll sounding, which surprised me. Everything is so pop nowadays. Did you grow up listening to rock and roll growing up?

Desert: Ohhh yeah! The heavier and faster the better.

Me: What bands were you into?

Desert: I was into Metallica, Megadeth and all girl punk bands like Sleater Kinney, Hole, Le Tigre, Bikini Kill...

Me: What was the first concert you saw?

Desert: It was a Metallica show and it blew my mind, I was like "that's what I wanna do."

Me: So, you have this single "Virginia" out, and two EPs. Are you gonna be releasing a full length CD?

Desert: We're actually hit the studio in December to record our next EP. I'm super stoked to work with the producer we're working with. I don't wanna mention his name just yet, but I cant wait! 

Me: In your concerts do you do all originals, or any covers?

Desert: At our shows we play all original songs, but we usually do one cover song, "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac. It's been re-arranged by our lead guitarist Alex, who's a hottie by the way for all the ladies out there, just sayin'... haha.

Me: Before you were a singer you played guitar, am I right?

Desert: Yes, that's correct, I was a guitarist at first.  

Me: What was the first song you learned to play?

Desert: The first song I learned to play was "Seek and Destroy" by Metallica. I love that riff.

Me: Do you play guitar on this new song "Virginia"?

Desert: Actually I've made a conscious effort to just focus on singing at the moment. However, I do pick up the guitar when I'm writing for sure.

Me: I have to ask you about the cover of the EP "Rain Inside." Who did that drawing, Janet? I have to show it here...

Desert: My friend drew it for me and actually, if you look at it closely you'll see a drop of water that's a teardrop. It's quite depressing actually.

Me: They all look lime teardrops to me. I read that you got to hang out with two of the guys from Imagine Dragons. Where was this and what did you guys talk about?

Desert: Yeah, it was totally random, my friend Matt who lives in Las Vegas flew to Washington D.C. and invited me to go with him to their show at Merriweather Post Pavillion. Matt's friend Angie is friends with Ben and Dan (of Imagine Dragons) so we got to go backstage and hang out on their tour bus. It's funny because I wasn't really familiar with the band, so at first when we were hanging with them I was like "Okay, so these guys are the roadies, where's the band members?" Because they were all sweaty and grizzly. It took me a second to realize they were the band members. It was hilarious. So we hung out again after the show and we started talking about music. I told them I was in a band, and the one thing I remember them telling me is that it's all about the producer. The right producer can make or break a song and I took those words to heart. There's a lot more stuff that happened, but let's not go there... hahaha.

Me: Are you a fan of them now? It's funny, my son was a few years ago but now he does not like their new stuff... I guess it doesn't rock enough.

Desert: I feel bad saying this, and I hope they don't read this, but I wasn't a fan of the band's music. I really didn't know too much about them, Matt just said he was coming to D.C. and invited me to a concert. But I'm glad I went though because I feel like it was a pivotal point in my music career.

Me: Okay, so what is next for you, Janet? Are you gonna go on tour?

Desert: New songs by early 2017, and yeah, definitely touring in 2017 for sure. I'm stoked.

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile. Go ahead and mention your websites and anything else you wanna. Good luck to you. Come back when the album comes out.

Desert: Thank you so much for chatting with me, it was a real pleasure! You can check out Desert Tundra on, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Love you, mom! Oh, and shout out to my boys (in the band) Jesse, Hiram, Alex and Lee. Thanks for putting up with my craziness.

Me: No prob. Keep rockin'.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Desert Tundra for a great interview. The Phile will be back on Sunday with author, singer, podcaser, comedian, actor... Dave Hill. 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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