Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Anna Coogan

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Where there is a bigoted billboard, there is an opportunity for a creative clap back. At least, that is the case in this particular story of pizza-themed valor. When an anti-gay marriage billboard moved in next door, a pizza shop in Launceton got creative and wrote the perfect rebuttal.

Can you imagine being so driven by a creepy obsession with other people's sex lives that you put up billboards against gay marriage?! Maybe if the Coalition for Marriage spent more time enjoying the God-approved sex in their heteronormative marriages they would be happier, and less inclined to put up billboards?! We can only hope and speculate. This was the perfect way to deflate the bigoted message of the billboard while simultaneously getting people in the mood for pizza.10/10 strategy. Needless to say, the pizza shop was wildly successful in subverting an anti-gay marriage billboard into a discussion about Hawaiian pizza. In my opinion, we need more pineapple pizzas and less bigots.
The woman who screamed about a service dog being in a restaurant in the now viral video has made her own video (which you can see on TMZ) telling her side of the story. The original video was recorded at Kathy's Crab House in Delaware. The woman, whose name is Ciara Miller, told TMZ that before the camera started recording her, patrons called her all sorts of racial slurs because she didn't like the dog and was trying to leave the restaurant, and that's why she was so angry. She doesn't, however, mention any of that in the video where she's yelling about the dog. Speaking to TMZ, Miller said that she does have family members who suffer from PTSD from serving in the military, and that she does understand the need for service dogs. She just doesn't like them in restaurants. YES, WE NOTICED. But while Miller wasn't a fan of the dog, she told TMZ that she, her husband, and her daughter were on their way out of the restaurant when they were stopped by the restaurant patrons, and that's when the quarrel began. According to Miller, a woman called her the n-word and told her that the dog had more rights than she did. Her daughter isn't in the video because Miller had already taken her out of the restaurant, rather than have her see the argument. No part of this situation is good. I'll update the post if anyone from the restaurant comments.
Not all heroes wear capes, some of them wear DOGGLES (incredible dog goggles) and routinely slobber all over their owner. In fact, I'd go so far as to argue that some of the BEST heroes among us come in canine form. Among these four-legged warriors is the rescue dog Frida who's saved 52 people in Mexico throughout the course of her career. Frida is breaking glass ceilings for dogs everywhere with her work in the search and rescue division of the Mexican Navy, and will continue to do so one rescue at a time. So naturally, when the devastating 7.1 earthquake hit Mexico City last week (leaving over 230 people dead), she put her paws on the front lines to help save people from the wreckage. Ugh, just look at her. LOOK AT HER.

Frida has quickly graduated to the rank of Twitter's most adorable hero. Can we also talk about how she's killing the game in her doggles?! In another life, she could be a doggie steampunk model. She's become so popular online people have already created adorable fan art for her. I could definitely see an Etsy shop of Frida t-shirts going viral. Who doesn't want to wear clothing emblazoned with a heroic dog?! Luckily, Frida isn't too lonely, since she has two German shepherd colleagues out there on the front lines with her. I wonder if her doggie co-workers are jealous of her instant Internet fame. Hopefully dogs are less petty than humans (it wouldn't take much for that to be true). The world needs more brave heroes like Frida. She's a very, very good girl.
Be careful what you wish for, especially when it comes to the evolution of your gorgeous face. The popular 34-year-old plastic surgery lover and Human Ken doll Rodrigo Alves was apprehended by TSA in Dubai when the facial recognition services were unable to match his face with his ID. While I'd be hard pressed to find anyone who day dreams about spending a day in customs confirming their own identity, it does serve as confirmation that Alves has succeeded in reinventing himself. Despite the inconvenience, Alves told "Daily Mail" that he was treated well during the process, and well, this isn't his first rodeo. If having his identity questioned during travels was a violently bucking horse, he would be the alpha cowboy at the rodeo. Just trying to really lean into the rodeo theme. He was en route to attend the launch of a brand new luxury hotel when he was apprehended, so this was like the opposite of pre-gaming. During his three hour interim in customs, Alves said he was able to at least chill. In fact, his description of the process is vastly different than the assumed dark grey interrogation room I imagine when hearing about TSA hold-ups. "I was set down at a very comfy chair and sipping a lovely Arabic Tea just waiting for then to finish their job. Once it was done I as called and the officer gave me British passport back with a silver stamp on it asking me to go to desk number one, where I was then let into the country," Alves told "Daily Mail." Amidst his globetrotting, Alves has recently revealed that he may want to transition from Human Ken doll to Human Barbie doll in coming years. "I am very happy to be a man for now but I don't want to an old saggy man. I will do what Caitlyn Jenner did. When I reach my late 50s, I would rather be a sexy old lady then a saggy old man," Alves told "Daily Mail." Honestly, if anyone can pull off being BOTH Ken and Barbie, it's Alves. He's got the strut and lifestyle on lock.
If you've ever taken an exam where the professor let the class use tiny cheat sheets, you may kick yourself for not thinking of this genius idea first. Reb Beatty, an Assistant Professor of Business Administration at Anne Arundel Community College, always lets his students cram info onto a 3x5 notecard and use it during tests. However, it turns out he failed to specify the word "inches" this semester, and, well, this happened...

Yup... a student made a 3-by-5 foot cheat sheet instead of a 3-by-3 inch one. "First test day of the semester and as always, I allow a 3x5 notecard. Today, a student shows up with this. Sure enough, it is 3x5... feet," Beatty wrote on Facebook. By the looks of the photo, he let the student get away with it. "As precise as I am, apparently I never specified inches and therefore yes, it was allowed. Well played and lesson learned for me," Beatty added. After the post started to go viral, Beatty edited it to respond to criticism that he shouldn't be letting students use cheat sheets at all. Having a 3x5 notecard in an accounting class is "just as much... if not more... a preparatory tool than a test aid," according to Beatty. In case accounting doesn't work out, it looks like this young loophole-finder may have a future in law.
Shit, it's Sunday... instead of doing this blog thing I should be listening to this album...

Ummm... maybe not. You know I love Star Wars and football, right? Well, some people like both of them a little more than I do...

I don't know if your church has a witty sense of humor, but wherever Trinity Church is sure does... have a sense of humor that is.

Hahaha. I do write a lot. I don't know if you're planning to cheat on your loved one, but you might wan an think twice after seeing this...

One thing you might know about me is that I like to follow the rules. Some people though take that just a little but too far...

Hahaha. Poor doggie. Hey, ever read those "Sweet Valley Twins" books when you were a kid? I never did, because they are written for girls. But this one might of been a fun read...

So, here in Florida some people get very creative with their license plates...

Okay, so, one of the best things about the Internet is you can look at porn easily. But the problem with that is you might stop reading the Phile and go look at porn. Then I had an idea... what if I showed a porn pic here. But then I thought what if you were reading this at work. So, I came up with a ingenious solution...

Hahaha. Those crazy kids. Alright, so, a few days ago I asked you guys if you would send me some pics of dogs in pajamas and I have been getting getting quite a few from you guys, so thank you. Check this one out...

Awe. So freakin' cute! How adorable. Alright, so, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, there's some crazy stud that happens here that happens no where else in the Universe. So, once again here is...

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Likewise, politicians who "like" porn pages on Twitter shouldn't create anti-porn legislation. While these statements might seem painfully obvious, recent news would suggest quite the opposite. According to The Daily Beast, the Florida GOP Rep. Ross Spano shattered his anti-porn image when he "liked" a porno video from Goddess Lesbian Twitter account on Wednesday. While liking and watching porno is perfectly normal for most people, Spano is a man who just proposed a resolution (HR. 157) that would label porn as a public health crisis due to the ways it "objectifies women, normalizes violence and the abuse of women and children." Certainly, there are plenty of issues around objectification, violence, and sexism in the porn industry. But it seems that Spano is merely taking a page out of the GOP playbook. Which is to say, there's a pattern of GOP politicians waging faux concern over the porn industry while secretly watching it (and stripping women's rights in other areas). This is the face of a deeply repressed man.

If there was a scientific study on the correlation between creepy draconian politicans and deep-seeded sexual repression, I have a feeling the correlation level would be 100%. Or at least in the 90s. Spano is certainly not alone with his inner conflict about porn. Just last week Ted Cruz liked a hardcore porn video on Twitter, despite being man who once tried to criminalize the sales of dildos. We need a teen boy to start an outreach program that teaches GOP politicians where to find porn OFF Twitter. According to Spano, the "like" wasn't him, but likely one of his conniving interns. "Obviously, I have a long social media history on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram since I was first elected in 2012. With a thorough examination of my accounts, it will be easy to see that this is not my doing,” Spano told the "Orlando Weekly." “I have since gone back, once notified, and rectified the problem. And I’m now looking into how it occurred in the first place." In Spano's defense, the video showed two women pleasuring each other and involved no violence. So, at least he has good taste in porn.

This is a terrible Mindphuck. If you spot the Mindphuck, and you'd have to be blind not to, let me know.

Are you a lazy person? If so, I bet you are not as lazy as this guy...

That almost looks fun actually.

The 66th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author will be the guest on the Phile on Thursday.

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum whose new CD "The Lonely Cry of Space & Time" is available now on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... Anna Coogan.

Me: Anna! Hi, there! Welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Anna: Hey, thanks for having me back! I’ve been up and down, but coming into fall and all its glory is doing my soul a world of good. So, I’m pretty good right now.

Me: It's been three years since you were here last and since the big things... not all so great happened with me. What has been the biggest thing that happened to you in three years?

Anna: Um... as someone who hasn’t had a kid in my mid-pushing late thirties, I’d say the music is the excitement. Lots of airplanes, lots of shows, lots of practicing. Also, I have a second corgi. Woof. 

Me: Okay, so, I have to tell you that you are one of my favorite singers I met through this stupid little blog. I still play your last CD "Birth of the Stars" a lot. That's a great album! Do people still discover your music through that album, Anna?

Anna: I’m glad you like it, thank you. I still consider "Birth of the Stars" one of my greatest songwriting accomplishments, and working with JD was wonderful. Honestly, I have no idea if people find me through that record, or any records. The Internet is so big and anonymous. People may really dig your music on Spotify, but making them into fans you can connect with is tricky. But every so often, someone really “gets it.” And then it’s all worth it.

Me: On that album you worked with the great JD Foster, who has worked with so many different people and Willie B. Do those two guys play on the new album "The Lonely Cry of Space & Time"?

Anna: "Lonely Cry" is basically myself and Willie B, with engineer Matthew Saccuccimorano at the helm. We were lucky to get JD to play bass on one song though, as well as a few other choice musicians. Mostly, it’s a duo record.

Me: Anna, I am not sure we talked about this the last two times you were on the Phile but you were once a Limnologist... I have no idea what that is. And if I asked you before I forgot. Hahaha. So, what is it?

Anna: The study of inland aquatic systems. I usually worked on lakes.

Me: So, how did you get into that?

Anna: I studied evolutionary biology in college, and my last semester I took a limnology class. Loved the class, loved the professor, ended up working for him for most of five years.

Me: Are you still doing that, Anna?

Anna: No. When I moved from Seattle to Ithaca, I made the transition to being a full time musician. I miss my days on the boat, though.

Me: Okay, so, originally you're from Vermont but living in New York now, right? What part?

Anna: Born in Boston-teenage years in Vermont... young adulthood in Seattle with some time in Austria. Now in Ithaca, New York. It’s a wonderful place filled with waterfalls and musicians and dogs. I love it here. It’s 4 hours from NYC, and I’m actually headed there in a few hours for a show. 

Me: Last time you were here you mentioned Wawa... one of my favorite places. I have been sick and their mashed potatoes are to die for. Haha. You've been to Wawa, right?

Anna: I think I maybe have only seen Wawa. Next time I’m near one, I’m going in, dammit. But in my Facebook days (I’m off for now, sort of) I really enjoyed following your Wawa. Long may she WA.

Me: Haha. You should write a Wawa song. I bet that would kick ass, Anna. Whatcha think?

Anna: Yes. You may need to send me some inspiration for it though. Hot pockets? Gasoline? What does a Wawa do?

Me: Okay, let's talk about "The Lonely Cry of Space & Time." When I heard that title I thought of "Doctor Who." Do you even watch "Doctor Who"?

Anna: No. But my 13-year-old cousin is super into it. He said the same thing though, so maybe you guys are on to something.

Me: What made you chose that song title for the album title?

Anna: This album had a few name incarnations, one of which got terminated because Sylvia Plath’s publisher put the abash on it. But this was such a pretty, hopeful song, and I’m really pleased with the way the song ties into the art and the general sense that humans have done some good things in addition to all the shitty things. I had a bunch of ideas that were shot down because they were just too depressing, and I’m tired of being depressed. Hope! It’s what’s for dinner.

Me: I love this album, Anna. I love all your music. How long did it take you to write and record this album?

Anna: I’m so glad you like the record. I do too, and that’s saying a lot a year after production. This album took several years to write, but only handful of weeks to make from start to finish. (Mad props to Willie for knowing the tunes so well and Matthew for just kicking ass at his job.) That’s the benefit of taking forever to get the concept down: once you finally do, it’s pretty much studio ready.

Me: I did some songwriting in the past for my music project Strawberry Blondes Forever... check it out on iTunes. Anyway, I like to ask writers if writing comes easy to them. Does it come easy for you?

Anna: A most excellent name. I will definitely check it out! Re: songwriting: Not really, it does not come that easily. Not these days anyway. I haven’t written much for the last year, I’ve had my hands full with getting this record to release. When you are not in the zone, it seems impossible, like how did I ever do that, and how will I ever do that again? When I’m in the zone, it’s kind of manic magic: I’m gonna write a million songs and operas and scores and this and that... Right now it’s quiet, but I’m hoping that finishing this record release creates some space for some new songs, even if they are little and simple. I’d give anything for one little song right now.

Me: What is your biggest inspiration when you write, Anna?

Anna: Real life events, or stories? Emotions. Almost always. Occasionally stories (like the story behind "Space and Time"), and occasionally poems, and more recently films. But if I’m feeling longing, or sad, or angry... that usually drives it. Then I try to hide out the emotion in the lyrics so that no one ever knows what I’m actually feeling, or who/what I’m writing about. Tricky!

Me: Alright, so, I have to ask, we have a president who is kinda whacked and could easily blow us all to shit... are you political? Does the current political landscape influence your writing? 

Anna: Honestly, fuck that guy. I’m done being scared. If I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go with my guitar up to 11 and singing poorly executed opera in the back of some dank bar in Buffalo. Much has been made of the political commentary on this record, but right now I want it to be about hope and beauty. 

Me: You have an amazing singing voice... but before you started out as a "pop" singer... I use that term loosely as I don't know what else to call it, you sang opera, am I right?

Anna: Yes.

Me: You sing opera on this album on the song "If You Were the Sun." When you wrote that song, were you planning on singing it opera style?

Anna: This song was part of the original Fall of the House Of Usher film score that we did, and it was written using this voice. This was one of the first songs I ever wrote for the more full, classical approach. I’ve been doing a lot of jazz standards with my students, which has opened up my ears to a whole world of chord changes.

Me: Is regular singing harder than opera singing or vice versa?

Anna: Regular singing is harder. Since I trained as an opera singer, I have a lot more control over that voice, and many more notes are available. I’m often coming up flat in my “pop” voice, which drives me nuts. That being said, singing opera while playing loud guitar over loud drums, that’s tricky. Things get a little out of control, vocally, and when I listen back to live shows I cringe. I’m working on it.

Me: I love the guitar sound on the new album. Do you still prefer to play electric?

Anna: Yes, yes, a million times yes. I’m so in love with the electric. What can’t it do?

Me: Do you write with an acoustic guitar or electric guitar, Anna?

Anna: Generally the electric. Sometimes I want to chill it out a bit, I’ll pick up the acoustic and strum away. But I’m pretty stuck in my patterns there, and I’ve got tendonitis so most of my acoustic guitars cause me pain. I write on the piano sometimes, too, and occasionally just with vocals and drum machine.

Me: Another song I wanna ask about is "Sylvia." Is that song about anyone in particular?

Anna: Sylvia Plath! I followed her down a rabbit hole a few years ago after stumbling upon “The Bell Jar” and a book of poetry. The lyrics to this song came all at once, and I have no idea what they mean on a deeper level. But it’s a joyous song to sing, and it feels right. So.

Me: Last time you were here we talked about you teaching. Do you still teach, Anna? If so, where? 

Anna: Oh, yes. Teaching makes up the bulk of my income. I teach voice, guitar, and when I’m lucky, songwriting. I like teaching quite a bit, although I need to be careful of falling into ruts with it. I teach at several schools in the region, and at home. It’s perfect for me because there are days at a time when I never have to leave the house, and my work comes to ME.

Me: You have performed in the states and Europe... what do you prefer?

Anna: People ask that all the time, but it’s not a fair question. I like to play where I feel respected, where I can earn a bit of money and maybe even get a decent meal and a place to sleep. It’s almost impossible to do that in the U.S.A. anymore. So, overall, Europe. But I do love my home, I love a good dive bar with hotdogs and beer, I love finding new, cool spaces around the U.S.A., and I love American audiences, when there is one. So really, any playing is good playing, most of the time.

Me: Have you ever done a show in Florida? Where?

Anna: No. Let’s do one. You tell me where.

Me: I'll think of a place. I love live albums and think a live album from you would be great. Did you ever think of doing one?

Anna: In 2015 we put out “Anna Coogan and Willie B Live at the Triple Door.” I pressed 150, only have a few left. It was a great show and a good capture... a lucky combination.

Me: Oh, man. I missed it. I was thinking, you have never released a cover, right? Do you perform covers in concert?

Anna: Only covers I have ever done are “The Crucifixion” (Phil Ochs) and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” (Gordon Lightfoot). They are probably my most sold songs, too. But I’m too lazy to do more. Covers take time that I’d rather be spending learning new scales, or messing around with film scores, or walking the dogs.

Me: My number one favorite singer apart from my dad of course, is Graham Parker. He's my idol. Anyway, in 2007 on his album "Don't Tell Columbus" he has a song called "All Being Well" which I want played at my funeral. I was thinking today that I bet you could do a kick ass version of it. Maybe on your next album... Anyway, if you could record any song what would it be?

Anna: I’ll definitely check it out! Any song... any song… lemme think… refer to previous answer... Maybe a Foghat song!? Tell me the best one.

Me: You'll do a great version of "Third Time Lucky" I am sure. I have to mention the cover artwork of this album... who did the artwork and what does it represent?

Anna: Q. Cassetti did the art for this record and my last record. She is an incredible artist (she’s done work for the U.S. postal service and IKEA!) She is also an incredibly generous soul who regularly works with struggling artists like myself. The art represents all the things that will survive the “long haul” here on earth. Right now, I look at it as sort of a positive. All these tough, beautiful creatures that will outlive us and carry on, Paris accord or no.

Me: Are those butterflies or moths? I'm such an idiot. Haha.

Anna: Moths. Luna moths, I believe.

Me: Anna, thanks so much for being back on the Phile. I hope this was as fun as your other two times being here. Go ahead and mention your websites and anything else you wanna. All the best.

Anna: Yay! All I’d say is please take a listen to the new record. Share it. I’ll have vinyl in the fall. Buy it! THANKS!,,,

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Anna for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Canadian musician Friendly Rich. 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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