Monday, August 14, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Gary Gerani

Hey there, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. So, there are a lot of summer trends happening this year. I decided to not dye the little hair I have charcoal but maybe I'll go out and get a coffee caviar. You don't know what that is? Well, caviar is essentially little blobs of coffee added to desserts and savory dishes and it has taken over Instagram as the next big food "thing." Coffee giant Lavetta makes it "using a syringe and small drops of the coffee. Alginate mixture is added to the diluted calcium chloride." It sounds good, right? Okay, let's get on with the news...
A bag of scum masquerading as a human being was riding the train in NYC last week when he launched into a xenophobic, racist tirade directed at a fellow passenger, who recorded the incident on her phone. "Get the fuck out my country before I murder your whole fucking nation," he says in his anti-Asian rant, directed at a 21-year-old Brooklyn woman who says she's not actually Asian (she's white). "I myself am a little bit of an anxious person and I was getting weird vibes from him," the woman told Gothamist anonymously. "He wasn't giving me a dirty look per se, but he was staring." She said she asked him politely, "can you please stop staring at me you are making me uncomfortable" and that's when his "look turned sour" and he "started asking the surrounding people if I had a right to tell him to stop staring, and said I had less of a right because I was Asian." This is when things "escalated," said the woman, who recorded the encounter and had a friend post it on Facebook. She said she hoped it would highlight anti-Asian racism. "I think they are a minority group that is being targeted as much as other groups," she said. In the video, she keeps telling the man she's white. "I'm not Chinese! I'm not Chinese!" she says. "This is my country too. I'm white." He then makes offensive comments about her "fucking Chinese eyes" and threatens to "murder your whole fucking nation, motherfucker." He also says, multiple times, "you are my property." If you see this man, please kick him in the nuts for me.

Sadly, incidents like this are not uncommon, and reports of racially-biased and xenophobic hate crimes have risen since you-know-who became president. Fuck.
In wonderful news for Prince Harry and awful news for Prince Harry fans, reports claim that Britain's favorite royal is engaged. Harry has been dating the activist (and, um, "Suits" star) Meghan Markle for just over a year. The couple has been on vacation in Botswana, and reports suggest that Harry flew Markle to a private island and proposed. Recent unconfirmed reports claim that Harry supposedly had a ring made from a piece of his mother Princess Diana's jewelry. But instead of a piece of royal swag, "The Sun" reports that the couple is "wearing Zulu betrothal bracelets." The pattern of the bracelets allegedly signifies marriage. If any royal has it in him to elope, it's Prince Harry. What would Kate Middleton think?! If he did propose, Harry would have been taking a page out of Prince William's book. William proposed to Kate Middleton in Kenya in 2010, although he claims he "didn't really plan it that far in advance." Until Queen Elizabeth gives her blessing, we won't get a confirmation out of Buckingham Palace. But a pal of Harry's couldn't resist but share the story with the U.K. press. The source also claims that Harry had the help of the Zulu king and queen to create the traditional betrothal bracelet. It's all a bit hard to believe until we see that bling. "The world is watching, so the royal red tape needs to be adhered to," said the source. "Meghan won’t be landing at Heathrow with a giant rock on her finger."
Sometimes even good people have bad ideas. So I'll try to give this clothing company the benefit of the doubt, even if they DID try to "reclaim the swastika" by putting the universal symbol on shirts against a rainbow backdrop. Reeeeeeeeeally, clothing company? Really???

Yup, really. A small clothing company called KA Designs apparently attempted to take what has become a Nazi symbol of hate ever since World War II, and "rebrand" it as a symbol of "love." Their intentions may have been pure, especially since the swastika was originally an East Asian symbol of "life," "love," and "peace" before the Nazis claimed it for their reign of terror. But given its history, can the swastika be "reclaimed"? "The swastika is coming back, together with peace, together with love, together with respect, together with Freedom," the company said in a video shared on Facebook last month. In an interview with "Dazed and Confused" magazine last Sunday, the company said, "We really like the symbol in its shape and aesthetics, and we would love to share the beauty of this symbol detached from the Hatred associated with it. This project only represents the first step of our 'master plan,' and we are excited about what the future will give us." You have to admire their optimism, I guess? But... surprise... people are not on board with the "new swastika." Even against a rainbow backdrop, it's still a swastika. And that's just not something you want on your shirt. No matter how brightly colored the rainbow or how "rebranded" the meaning, that's a no thank you, please. Since the internet backlash, the shirts have been removed from the website Teespring where they were being sold, and the company that designed them has sort of apologized, while sort of defending the design. In a statement to the "Jerusalem Post," they said, "This project was intended to be innocent and peaceful. We were sincerely trying to convey an extremely positive message. But as soon as people saw the Swastika, they became violent and aggressive. That's why we want to forgive and ask forgiveness. Thank you and sorry."
If you've ever lurked around the Mildly Penis subreddit you've probably come across the Christian Science Society Church in Dixon, Illinois, because, well, it looks mildly like a dick. Last week the Christian Science Society Church was in the "news" (if that's what you call stories about giant dick churches) once again, this time because allegedly a water main had broken right on the corner of the street, making it look like, you know...

It's one of those stories you see on the Internet and pray is true, but unfortunately, it's not. The part about the Church being a dick, now that is 100% true. It's just that "too good to be true" part about the water main that's, well, too good to be true. Turns out it's from a Tweet in 2013. And of course, true to Internet form, the Daily Dot points out that someone went WAY too deep in analyzing the photo and made the case that unless every single car was in the same location during the water main break as they were when Google’s satellites passed by, this was a hoax. In fairness, it's a great story and you could totally see "Fox & Friends" covering something dumb like this. Or at least falling for the fake story. So don't feel bad if you bought in when you first saw it.
It turns out if you mess with Jonah Hill, you mess with the entire Internet. A video of Hill talking to local reporters at a university in 2014 has resurfaced. It's now going viral because of one particularly dumb question a reporter asked him about his weight. At the beginning of the video, Hill appears to be discussing his recent weight loss, when the reporter asks him this, "Are you still considered the fat guy, when you go to a party or anything?" When Hill doesn't respond right away, the reporter presses on. "Are you the fat guy in Hollywood still?" Um... WHAT?! I'm not sure exactly what made the reporter think that was an okay question to ask Jonah or any human being for that matter, but here we are. That kind of question could make anyone lose their cool, but not Jonah Hill. Instead, he had this to say, "Do you have any other questions... that are smart?" The footage of the interview has resurfaced, and people on Twitter love Hill's response, but they are NOT HAPPY that that reporter had the gall to mess with their precious Jonah. Here's a life tip for everyone: don't ever ask anyone if they're considered "the fat guy."
Speaking of Jonah Hill, did you know he has a brand new movie that just came out? I have the exclusive poster here to show you...

I bet it is gonna be funny. So, you know about the whole Trump/Kim Jong Un pissing war, right? Well, if I was Trump I would watch out... Kim Jong Un is ready to fight...

So, you know the Disney movie Hercules? Well, before that movie came out some of the characters had a completely different look...

That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

Mark Hamill is one of the most wittiest celebrities when it comes to signing autographs. Check this out...

Hahaha. Have you ever been arrested and had a mug shot taken? I haven't, but if I did I wouldn't want to be wearing a t-shirt like this woman wore...

I hate to say it but she looks kinda cute though. One thing you might not know about me is I like to do what I am told, and take things literally. Some people take that a bit too far though...

I should try that with my cell phone. Haha. So, back in the day do you know they used to be ads for drugs? Don't believe me? Check it out...

Here in Florida people try to get away with some crazy license plates like this one...

That should actually be my license plate. Haha. Do you watch "Game of Thrones"? I don't as I don't have HBO. Anyway, I didn't know the show took place on present day earth. Look at what one of the characters was wearing on last night's episode...

She looks like a Trump fan, right? It's football preseason and some football fans are like me, they also like Star Wars. Some take it a bit too far though...

Speaking of Star Wars, did you know Big Bird was supposed to be in the first movie? I wonder of Gary Gerani knows that. If you don't believe me check out this rare scene from A New Hope.

Told ya. Hahahaha. So, ladies, are you looking for a new different kinda bra to wear? How about this one?

The cool Chopstick Bra was created by lingerie-maker Triumph International Japan to promote the use of reusable chopsticks. That's right, you can enhance your cleavage and save the planet at the same time. That's stupid. Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Ways To Convince Trump That Climate Change Is Real
5. Warn him that higher, drier temperatures would make his hair a prime target for wildfires.
4. Explain that, while it may not affect him in his lifetime, it will affect Barron's children... and then explain who Barron is.
3. Tell him that it'll cause widespread animal die-offs long before Donald Jr. gets a chance to kill everything himself.
2. Put the central air in Trump Tower on "low," but tell him it's on "high."
And the number one way to convince Trump that climate change is real is...
1. Have climate-change believers donate more money to his re-election campaign than climate-change deniers.

Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, wanna sound cool around your offices water cooler? Well, I am here to help. Once again here is a pheature simply titled...

Phact 1: Serial killer Dennis Rader a.k.a. BTK asked the cops if it was safe to communicate via  floppy disk. In the "properties" section of the document, police found that the file has last been saved by someone named Dennis and the MS-Word was registered in the name of a church to which he belonged. After getting caught he couldn't believe that the cops had lied to him.
Phact 2: After scientists discovered that deep-sea dragonfish had chlorophyll in their eyes, the U.S. Pentagon began funding research for inexpensive night-vision eye drops.
Phact 3: At the end of cleaning up Chernobyl, three men were forced to travel to the top of reactor 3's chimney to hang a red flag. Due to high radiation levels, the entire operation had to be timed to last no more than 9 minutes. Their reward was a bottle of Pepsi (a luxury at the time) and a day off.
Phact 4: Chipotle uses 97,000 pounds of avocados per day and they use about 60 avocados to make a single batch of guacamole.
Phact 5: Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were drunk in the scene where Leia and Solo arrive at Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back due to partying all night into the morning with the Rolling Stones and Eric Idle.

Are you a lazy person? I bet you are not as lazy as the person who did this...

That's pretty clever I have to admit.

It has been an ugly couple of days in Charlottesville, Virginia. On Friday night, hundreds of tiki torch-wielding white supremacists descended on the University of Virginia's campus for a rally and clashed with counter-protesters. The violence continued on Saturday, and escalated to the point where a car was driven by a white supremacist into a crowd of anti-racism protesters. One woman was killed in the car crash. Two police officers also lost their lives in a helicopter crash related to the white supremacist rally, "The Washington Post" reports. In a statement about the incident on Saturday, Donald Trump condemned violence and hatred "on many sides," but failed to explicitly condemn white supremacy. Of course, the president's failure to mention that white supremacy is bad sparked a widespread backlash. After the outrage, an unnamed White House spokesperson provided an update to Trump's remarks on Saturday. The new statement reads, "The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white Supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together." Translation: "Wait, you want us to say that the president doesn't approve of Nazis out loud? So people can hear it? Ugh, FINE." At least they updated it?

Today's guest is a Phile Alum and author of "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Three," the 64th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome back to the Phile... Gary Gerani.

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

Gary: Very well, thank you.

Me: Last time you were here it was Super Bowl Sunday... did you watch the game? Are you a football fan? I am a Giants fan.

Gary: I’m not really into football, although I did watch some of the game on my giant plasma screen. Baseball’s a little different. Being a kid from Brooklyn, I grew up a Mets fan… nothing like those once-in-a-while miracles. Most of my fellow Toppers were Yankees guys.

Me: I have to tell you that you are one of the most popular guests I get to interview for this blog. Do you do a lot of interviews generally?

Gary: Wow… that’s a cool compliment. Thanks! I’ve done interviews and video commentaries for various projects over the years, so I guess I’ve become pretty comfortable with public chatting.

Me: What about conventions? Ever go to conventions as a guest or just to show up and walk around? I go to conventions like the Tampa Bay Comic Con, Clermont Comic Con and MegaCon once in awhile and I kinda like it. I have been going to cons pretty much off and off since my first one in New York in ’83.

Gary: Yep, I’ve been going to conventions since the late ‘60s. Lately I’ve been doing signings for IDW and Abrams at the San Diego and New York Comic Cons.

Me: I did get to go to Star Wars Celebration this year which was pretty cool. Have you ever been to one of those?

Gary: Not yet, sorry to say. I did write a public essay about Topps’ history with Star Wars for Charles Lippincott, but I forget which convention it was intended for.

Me: Okay, so as well as the Topps Trading Cards series of books which have been pheatured on the Phile you have been writing and putting together some other books... "Top 100 Horror Movies," "Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies," "Top 100 Fantasy Movies," and recently "Top 100 Comic Book Movies." That book I will pheature in the Phile's Book club soon... anyway, how did these series of books come about?

Gary: Back in 1976 I wrote a book called "Fantastic Television," which was the first book to deal with sci-fi, fantasy and horror on TV. It was very successful, and, several years later, IDW asked me to create a brand new book division of my own, which we dubbed “Fantastic Press.” The idea was to carry over the flavor and style of my original creation into the 21st Century, with a colorful new line of trade paperbacks. I came up with the “Top 100” gimmick as a way to make these movie genre overviews more entertaining. Hopefully I succeeded!

Me: Do you pick them for the most popularity of them, or how well they did at the box office or are they your personal favorite movies?

Gary: I suppose it was sort of an arcane combination of all three factors. Ranking aside, all of the movies covered are essential entries in their genre. I’m especially fond of some of the more obscure titles.

Me: It would be hard to come up with a 100 best anything myself, so I give you 100% kudos on this, Gary. Are these series of books fun to put together?

Gary: It can drive you a little crazy at times, but mostly it’s an enjoyable task.

Me: Okay, so I am not a big horror fan at all... I think the only horror movie I ever saw in my life is Poltergeist. I do not like to be scared. Hahaha. Is Poltergeist on the list?

Gary: Ha! I don’t remember. Probably… it was a significant horror film, one that made the genre “safe” for the whole family.

Me: As the co-writer for Pumpkinhead I gather you do like horror movies, am I right?

Gary: Oh, sure.

Me: Speaking of Pumpkinhead that could be the name of the Donald Trump movie. Hahaha. How many times has anyone made that joke to to?

Gary: You’re the first, actually. But hell, it fits.

Me: Okay. What's the scariest movie you have ever seen, Gary?

Gary: Polanski’s Repulsion.

Me: By the way, the last book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club "The Fly King" by Karling Abbeygate. I say check out out... I could only read it in the day time. Do you do a lot of reading yourself or are you always writing? 

Gary: I’m doing very little fiction reading these days, sorry to say. Haven’t had the time… which is a shame.

Me: Okay, so with the top 100 sci-fi movies Star Wars had better come first, am I right? Or Empire... hahaha. What is your favorite sci-fi film?

Gary: Forbidden Planet was #1, with Five Million Years to Earth (Quatermass and the Pit), 2001 and Star Wars right up there.

Me: Is Westworld on the list? I love that movie! I was told to check out the new series on HBO but I don't have HBO so I have to wait. Have you seen it?

Gary: Nope. And I don’t think Westworld made the main line-up. That said, it is a fun movie, with Yul’s Mag7 Terminator a memorable screen villain.

Me: What about Logan's Run? That's a great movie.

Gary: No comment!

Me: Okay. Oh, back to the horror movies... Solent Green... I saw that one but I don't think it counts as horror, does it? It wasn't that scary.

Gary: It’s a legitimate science fiction movie, though, with its overpopulation theme and all. The early ‘70s were bursting with socially aware sci-fi flicks (Silent Running, Damnation Alley, No Blade Of Grass, etc.). Star Wars ’77 transformed the genre into spectacular, roller coaster fun, and the rest is history.

Me: With the fantasy movies I say Labyrinth has to be on it and I don't know if Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Bedknobs and Broomsticks counts as fantasy... I am sure they do but being on the list might be a stretch. What's your favorite fantasy movie, Gary?

Gary: Lord of the Rings. But there are many, many great fantasy films, of all different kinds and from all different countries. Donkey Skin and The Miracle of Marcelino are right up there with The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Wizard of Oz.

Me: Recently I started watching the Harry Potter movies but stopped half way through the fifth one. I take it you are in those movies. I am surprised that there are no card series for the Potter movies... maybe they are, I don't know. Hahaha.

Gary: ArtBox hired me to launch their Harry Potter trading card line a decade or so ago. It was successful, and I believe they continued on for some time. I have no idea who has the trading card license now (Rittenhouse?).

Me: Okay, let's talk about the latest book to be pheatured in the book club... "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume Three" which came out last summer (even thug back in February I didn't realize it was out) but I wanted to pheature all three of your Star Wars books in this series. I love this book and I have to say somewhere I still have the whole collection of this card series. It was the first series I completed I think. When you were writing this book was it as much fun as writing the first two?

Gary: To be honest, probably not. Writing the first book was a blast, because I jumped head-first into the memory pool. The world really did change in 1977, and we were at the heart of all that excitement. Star Wars was always an exciting proposition, but by the time the third film came along, a lot of us were awfully tired!

Me: What about when you were originally putting these cards together back in the early 80s... was it pretty much the same as it was when you started out?

Gary: Like I said, Star Wars started off as a world-changer… by the time Jedi was released, we were already living in a changed world, so the impact wasn’t quite as striking. Still, we found things to be inspired about.

Me: How did you make this series different from the other series of cards, Gary? The stickers were different, right? 

Gary: We were a well-oiled machine by the time Return of the Jedi came along. Maybe just a little too slick for our own good. The stickers were a bit different, and kind of cool. It wound up being a nice, commercial card product.

Me: Back when this movie came out the whole Vader being Luke's dad was revealed... so you must of found out before you saw the movie. Did that ruin to for you?

Gary: Actually, I found out the same time everyone else did… at the movie’s premiere! George Lucas and company really managed to keep it a secret… the script I had read, which I had based the card set on, made no mention of it. Quite a surprise, right?!

Me: Yeah, that's cool. What is your favorite card in the series, Gary?

Gary: It’s got to be the notorious "Threepio having an erection" shot, the most famous trading card I ever edited. Read all about it in the Star Wars ’77 Abrams book.

Me: Yeah, we talked about it the first time you were here on the Phile. Back then did you ever think they would make any more Star Wars movies?

Gary: Yeah… we at Topps were told to expect sequels by our contacts at Fox and Lucasfilm. That first movie seemed clearly designed for follow-ups.

Me: Did the marketing for cards change since you started doing them? I think the Star Wars cards were the hottest property that Topps had, am I right?

Gary: It’s fair to say that Star Wars is Topps’ most successful tie-in property, if you don’t count Baseball. "Charlies Angels" tied with Star Wars for multiple series during this late ‘70s period, by the way… five series each.

Me: Hey, did you work on the Superman: The Movie cards and "The Mork and Mindy" cards? I had those as well. Any plans on those books?

Gary: Yes, yes, and who knows? Abrams has done many of these Topps tie-in books, although they seem to be slowing down now. We shall see...

Me: Okay, so, as well as writing and putting together some really cool books you are a screen writer. Last time you were here you mentioned you were writing a screenplay with a Hollywood legend in the lead. Can you say what that movie is now and who that legend is?

Gary: It’s John Travolta, and the movie’s a racing drama called Trading Paint, which has finally been officially announced for filming in ’17. 

Me: Wow! That's cool! Is it a comedy? It's a NASCAR movie?

Gary: It’s about the dirt track racing scene, small town stuff. Like Pumpkinhead, we have a city-country culture clash (our heroine is an outsider) and an emotional father-and-son family drama, in addition to all those screeching tires and roaring engines. No Stan Winston monsters this time, however!

Me: Did you know Travolta beforehand, Gary?

Gary: My writing partner knew him, in Florida. I’ve been doing on-and-off screenwriting work in Hollywood for years, mostly for projects that never got made.

Me: When the movie was being written did you have Travolta in mind of the part?

Gary: Absolutely! It was written specifically for him.

Me: You know... I think Foghat's "Slow Ride" should be in the movie... wink wink. Whatcha think? By the way, my dad was Lonesome Dave, lead singer in Foghat.

Gary: Wow. Impressive! Kinda fits, too...

Me: Gary, can you come back when this movie comes out?

Gary: Sure, of course.

Me: I have you back and pheature the "Top 100 Comic Book Movies" book soon.

Gary: That’ll be MY pleasure, Jason!

Me: So, you're always working... any new projects coming out, Gary?

Gary: Let’s see… trading cards, books, movie scripts… and a documentary! I’m producing one right now about a great TV composer, Billy Goldenberg, who did all of Steven Spielberg’s early TV work (including the score for Duel). Should be finished sometime in 2018. What can I say… I like to keep busy!

Me: That's cool. Take care, and I will have you back on the Phile soon.

Gary: Looking forward to it, my friend.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Gary Gerani for another great interview. The Phile will be back on Thursday with Phile Alum and singer Lio Nicol. 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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