Hey, kids, good morning and welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. Have you written your letter for Santa yet? 'Tis the season to be petty, fa la la la la la la la la! A few days ago was Donald Trump's first annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. And maybe Donald Trump was naughty this year and Santa found out and is punishing him? Cannot confirm or deny. But it looks like not a lot of people showed up to his Christmas tree party. At least, according to this pic circulating on Twitter, the event was quite lightly attended.
"The National Tree Lighting ceremony was beautiful this evening," wrote ABC7 reporter Steve Rudin. "But hard not to notice the empty seats." As this guy pointed out, this sparse attendance wasn't due to inclement weather... Trump is notoriously sensitive about the size of his crowds (so much so that his supporters photoshopped fake crowd pics). So Twitter is lighting up with joy, and jokes, at the sight of such a teeny tiny, itty bitty, little, bitty, very small crowd. And as some pointed out, it has been much, much better attended in the past.... The only thing Trump hates more than jokes about his crowds is being outshined by Obama. So, naturally, Twitter decided to compare the size of the crowd at Trump's tree lighting ceremony to the size of the crowd at Obama's. Someone even compared Trump's tree crowd to his famously small inauguration day crowd. Shots. Fired. OUCH. NO ONE TELL TRUMP. I mean someone please tell him immediately.
According to Page Six, Matt Lauer's wife Annette Roque has left him and possibly returned to her native home of the Netherlands. An unnamed source told Page Six the last time Roque was spotted near her Hamptons home was on Wednesday, the day Lauer was fired from the "Today" show for sexual misconduct. "Annette has taken their two younger kids out of school and is believed to have left the U.S. and gone to her family in her native country," the unnamed Hamptons source told Page Six. The couple has been married twenty years and have three kids together. This marital departure seems obviously tied to Lauer's inappropriate sexual behavior, which includes allegedly using a "lock button" to trap a woman in his office before sexually assaulting her. However, the union has reportedly been fraught for some time. Back in 2006, Roque filed for divorce under claims that she suffered “cruel and inhumane” treatment from Lauer. In the legal documents she also said he was controlling and demonstrated “extreme anger and hostility." She withdrew the request a month after filing. One unnamed source told Page Six that Lauer offered a $5 million dollar deal for her to remain in the marriage. "Matt needed to stay in the marriage to keep his reputation as America’s nicest dad. He is in fact a great, and very doting dad to his kids, but he is also a terrible husband," the source said. Lauer's representatives have declined to comment on the state of his marriage. Hopefully this means she is free at last.
In the early hours of yesterday morning, the Senate passed a sweeping tax bill in a vote that largely fell along party lines. The $1.5 trillion tax bill barely passed at 51-49 votes, and the Tennessee Senator Bob Corker was the only Republican who voted no. While the win marks a huge symbolic victory for the GOP and could potentially mark the biggest tax overhaul since the 1980s, the Senate bill still has to be reconciled with last month's House bill, then passed once more by both chambers before Trump can sign it into law. Given the fact that GOP senators denied the Democrats' request to delay the vote until tomorrow, which would have enabled the lawmakers to thoroughly read the marked up bill, the reconciliation process could involve a lot of catch up for senators who weren't involved in writing the bill. Since the specifics of the House and Senate bill vary, the amended bill in coming days and weeks could look very different than what was passed the other night. However, there's also a possibility the House will adopt the new Senate bill to pass it through faster. We'll have to wait and see. Possible rewrites aside, here are a few of the affects the Senate bill would have on the economy. An estimated 13 million people will lose health insurance by 2027. While Republicans haven't succeeded at repealing and replacing Obamacare, the tax bill would end the requirement that people either buy insurance or face a fine. Because of this, the premiums are estimated to rapidly grow, making insurance even more unaffordable for many. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, scrapping the mandate would lead to 13 million people losing cover by 2027. Deductions will be overhauled across the board. You won't be able to deduct losses from "fire, storm, shipwreck, or other casualty, or from theft," so basically anyone facing huge emergencies will have to eat the costs. The bill also limits deductions for traveling expenses, moving, biking to work, and itemized deductions, which will greatly affect freelancers. The Senate bill doubles teacher deduction from $250 to $500, which means they'll get back more for out of pocket supply costs. However, it's small solace for the next item on the list. The tax bill will deal a huge financial blow to public schools. Public K-12 schools are primarily funded by state and local funding. One of the key reasons schools are able to stay afloat is because the federal government allows taxpayers to deduct their state and local taxes from their federal taxable income. The Senate bill seeks to cut SALT deductions, which would place a higher financial burden on taxpayers. Because of this, it would be far more difficult for states to fundraise and bolster taxes for school funding. The Government Finance Officers Association estimates as much as $125 million in public school funding could be impacted by this change. Corporations get a huge tax break. The bill will lower corporate taxes from 35 to 20 percent starting in 2019. This would put the U.S. corporate tax rate at a lower level than most other nations. The GOP pitched the bill as giving corporate employers the financial leeway to raise employee wages, but most working Americans know better than to expect that. The GOP tax bill puts Alaska communities at risk. The new bill will allow drilling into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and allows the sale of oil and gas leases on Alaska's North Slope. Not only does this have huge environmental affects, but it completely undermines the autonomy and preservation work of the surrounding community. While there are plenty of more potential changes in the 479 page tax bill, these were just a few of the huge takeaways. Given the coming reconciliation process, a lot could happen to the bill in coming days.
The "Star Trek: Discovery" actor Anthony Rapp was the first to accuse Kevin Spacey of sexual misconduct, and because of this, he's received large measures of both support and hostility. At the end of October, Rapp, now 46, told Buzzfeed how Spacey invited him to his Manhattan apartment for a party in 1986. Rapp was only 14-years-old at the time, and alleges that then 26-year-old Spacey made inappropriate sexual advances at the party. In the days following Rapp's admission, over a dozen more accusers came forward against Spacey for sexual misconduct. As a result of these allegations, Netflix fired Spacey from "House of Cards" and production of the sixth season has been put on hold. Despite the seriousness of the allegations, some "House of Cards" fans have apparently been harassing Rapp for coming forward in the first place. Others wish he'd waited until the show was wrapped. On Thursday, Rapp shared some of the hateful messages he's received with his Instagram and Twitter followers. While there were sadly a lot of hostile messages, Rapp also received a lot of support from his followers. He also took the time to thank his supporters share some thoughtful and educational threads about sexual assault. As of yet, Spacey has not issued any public statements since November 1st, when his former representative announced he would “seek evaluation and treatment." So... yeah...
McDonald's is facing new backlash after a viral video showed a London woman being refused service for wearing a hijab. The woman... whose name and face remains anonymous throughout the video, went to grab food at a McDonald's in Holloway, London when she was unexpectedly refused service by both a security guard and cashier. Once they requested she remove her hijab to attain service, she started video taping the incident as evidence. Shortly after the tape started rolling, another customer chimed in to her defense and the cashier eventually offered service. However, by the time they rescinded their bigotry, the damage was already done. When Twitter user Sabrina posted the video of her friend's experience with discrimination, it quickly went viral. Once people caught wind of the video, they were rightfully incensed and alarmed by the overt bigotry. Many of them tagged and called out McDonald's for cultivating such behavior in the first place. Another friend of the woman also spread the word on Twitter and tagged McDonald's in her call out. Eventually, McDonald's came through with an apology and clarified that this type of discrimination does not fit in with their policies. Unsurprisingly, the brand didn't clarify how they'll prevent these types of situations going forward. Whilst grateful for the response I would have expected no other response from a global brand. But what happens now? Here's to hoping McDonald's will be more intentional about creating an environment of inclusion and enforcing zero tolerance for hate crimes. Until then, we'll have to stay vigilante about calling out this type of behavior.
The White House is infested with vermin. In other news, there are new reports that the White House is infested with mice, cockroaches, ants. Hahaha get it? Because Trump and everyone who works for him are vermin! Anyway, NBC 4 Washington recently obtained work orders from the White House, revealing hundreds of requests from 2017, many of which were to control the pests. There were ants in Trump's chief of staff John Kelly's office, at least four reports of cockroach infestation on the White House grounds, and mice in the White House Navy mess food service area. Not to mention, all those jokes about Trump rage-tweeting from his toilet may actually be true. There was one work order requesting a new toilet seat in the Oval Office, a.k.a. Trump's office, shortly after the inauguration. Or maybe he just didn't want to poop where Obama pooped? Rude. Melania Trump has an office in the East Wing, and she reportedly made a request for new curtains in order to create an "overall effect of the room being taller." Boy, those Trumps sure do love to manipulate us, huh! And the First Lady wasn't the only one to request a change in decoration. Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer reportedly asked for new furniture and photos for his office in the weeks following the inauguration. Hopefully Sarah Huckabee Sanders is enjoying his interior design! As you can imagine, all these requests (especially the lavish ones like new curtains and new toilet seats) are expensive. NBC 4 Washington adds that an estimated $100,000 is spent on White House maintenance per year. Although to the Trumps, that's chump change.
It's Sunday, people, and instead of doing this blog I should be listening to this record...
Hmmm... maybe not. Here in Florida some people try to get away with some very creative license plate. Check it out...
You know, if I had a TARDIS I would like to go back and see the Olympics. Maybe I would end up seeing Jesse Owens...
Oh, great, it's in Berlin in 1936. Ugh. So, I was supposed to Google "komodo dragon" and instead Googled "kimono dragon" and this is what I got...
Ha! So, once in awhile I misread a situation but some people do that worse that I do...
Hahahaha. I actually have done that. Ever see some creative wifi names ever? Check this out...
Hey, parents, I hope you don't get a note like this from your kid's teacher...
So, do you kids remember Smokey the Bear? Well, I think is new ad is quite odd...
That would be fun to watch. So, do you know what net neutrality means? This pheature might help explain it to you...
Do you know what's the best? I'll tell you...
What is a toot exactly you might ask? Toots are caused by trapped air, which can come from many sources. Some of it is air that we have swallowed while chewing or drinking. Some air is caused by gas seeping into our intestines from our blood, and some gas is produced by chemical reactions in our intestines or bacteria living in our guts. A typical toot is composed of about 59 percent nitrogen, 21 percent hydrogen, 9 percent carbon dioxide, 7 percent methane and 4 percent oxygen. Only about one percent of a toot contains hydrogen sulfide gas and mercaptans, which contain sulfur, and the sulfur is what makes farts stink. Toots make a sound when they escape due to the vibrations of the rectum. The loudness may vary depending on how much pressure is behind the gas, as well as the tightness of the sphincter muscles. There you have it.
If you spot the Mindpuck let me know. It's kinda of a stupid one. So, a friend of the Phile who was fired from his last job wanted to come on and see if anyone is hiring him. Last time we heard from him he was fixing fences I think. Anyway, please welcome back to the Phile...
Me: Dindo, how have you been? So, you're out of work again?
Dindo: Yes, Jason.
Me: Dindo, did you go to college?
Dindo: Yes, I did, but I failed.
Me: You failed? How did you fail?
Dindo: In my freshman year of college I thought my final exam was at 11:30. It was at 9:30. The exam was 40% of my grade, so I failed. I lost my scholarship, and had to pay to retake the class.
Me: Oh, Dindo... Good luck, come back again soon and let us know how it goes.
Dindo: Thank you, Jason, I will.
Me: Dindo Nuffin, everyone.
And now for some sad news...
June 12th, 1930 — November 30th, 2017
Surprise, surprise, surprise!
Yesterday afternoon, President Trump published a tweet that could potentially give Robert Mueller ammunition in the Russia investigation. In the Twitter post, Trump wrote that he "knew Flynn lied to the FBI" and that's why he fired him back in February. Technically, if this is true, it means Trump admitted to obstruction of justice which is a potentially impeachable offense. "I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!" Trump wrote. Trump's tweet comes just one day after Flynn plead guilty for lying to the FBI about his conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Back in June, the former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate that Trump asked him during a meeting on February 14th to "let go" of the federal investigation into Flynn. Given this development, the Twitter post could be used as part of Mueller's investigation, since Trump's tweet suggests he knew Flynn was lying to Comey all along. Several political experts on Twitter, including former Obama-era Justice Department official Matthew Miller have been commenting on the significance of Trump's admission. This could be a huge and possibly indicting piece of evidence, we'll see how it plays into the investigation.
The 71st book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
Lol will be on the Phile next Monday.
There's a carrot, a tomato, and a penis. The carrot said, "I have the worst life of all. I get chopped up, put in a cake, and eaten." The tomato says, "No, I have the worst life of all. I get chopped up, put in a salad, and eaten." Then the penis said, "I, my friends, have the worst life of all. I get a plastic bag shoved over my head, and then pushed back and forth into a warm tunnel until I choke!"
Today's guest is the lead singer and guitarist for the very cool Canadian band The Retroaction whose latest single "These Things For You" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Keith Moffat.
Me: Hey, Keith, welcome to the Phile. How are you?
Keith: I'm good, a little bit tired. Had a full weekend of playing music. We did on of those live recording sessions with Toronto art group QPWT. Videos should be out in a couple of weeks.
Me: Cool. I have to say I'm a huge fan of the band and wish you his had more music out. There's three songs on iTunes... "Trade Your Lovin'," "Little Strange," and the new single "The Things For You." The first two came out in 2015 and the new one just came out. Why only three songs?
Keith: Well, we only released a couple of songs from the first EP we recorded. It really didn't turn out the way we had wanted. Then we ended up switching our drummer up, wrote a couple albums worth of material and started recording.
Me: Are you the main songwriter, Keith?
Keith: I am not, we have three vocalists, I sing lead on this, but Thomas sings lead on tracks as well. Charles does some mean cover songs in the live set too. Along with harmonies in the live set.
Me: So, when you perform love shows do you perform a lot of covers or originals?
Keith: We mostly play originals, but we'll do a couple of covers to add context to the audience.
Me: I heard your "Gimme Some Lovin'" cover... I loved it. What other covers do you do? I bet you can do a kick ass version of "House of the Rising Sun."
Keith: We've done various different covers through out the years. "Boom Boom," lots of Beatles, Kinks, Rolling Stones. Thomas does one of the best "House of the Rising Sun" covers I've ever heard. Occasionally we'll bring it out.
Me: The band is based in Canada, am I right? What part?
Keith: I live in Toronto, the rest of the band is located in Hamilton.
Me: So, I ask all my Canadian musical guests if they are fans of one of my favorite bands... Barenaked Ladies. Are you a fan?
Keith: Hahaha... they have some fun songs. Charles, our bass player goes to school with the singers son. Dude doesn't seem super fond of his dad so I hear.
Me: Wow. Who are your influences, Keith? Your music is very retro sounding... is that where the band name Retroaction comes in?
Keith: I grew up with British invasion music through my parents and friends. But I listen to lots of different garage rock and indie bands from all over the world. The Retro in the same was supposed to make it obvious about what we were doing. Just be straight forward. People either love it or hate it.
Me: How long have you been playing guitar?
Keith: I've been playing for about 13 years.
Me: What model of guitar do you play?
Keith: I play a Rickenbacker 330 Fireglo.
Me: When you write do you write on electric or acoustic guitar?
Keith: I usually write on my electric. At first unplugged.
Me: So, what is the song "These Things For You" about?
Keith: There was this sexual chemistry between a neighbour and myself. We had never spoken other than the regular hi hellos, but in the hallways there was always something. You could sense. On a stormy night I saw her running from her car to her apartment below mine. Wrote the whole thing about that. The idea of love, or lust.
Me: I LOVE the video for it, Keith, but there's no Foghat albums in the video. Explain to there readers the inspiration and what the video is...
Keith: The video is about the exploration of your parents vinyl collection. Buddies dad just didn't dig Foghat I guess.
Me: Did you four in the band pick out the albums from your own collections?
Keith: We did not... haha.
Me: Do you all collect vinyl?
Keith: I collect vinyl and have a good setup, as does Thomas.
Me: I thought it was cool there's all different genres of music... even some soundtracks... and comedy albums. Was there any album that you guys were gonna use that you didn't?
Keith: I think there was a Bill Cosby album that didn't make it.
Me: I like the way the lyrics go over the album covers and when the cool guitar solo comes up you show a video of the band or you playing. That was clever. Was this video fun to put together?
Keith: The video was originally just going to be footage of us doing "these things" literal takes on the lyrics, but the footage got corrupted. This was the work around.
Me: Ahhh. So, do you guys know Adam Bentley? I think every musician in Hamilton knows him. Hahaha.
Keith: Haha... we do know him, he worked on a release for us in the past.
Me: Keith, are you guys coming out with a full length album? I can't wait of you are. Please come back when the next album or single comes out.
Keith: We are releasing a 5 song EP probably in February, with two more singles. We are also finishing up another 5 song EP in this month. Probably release that next fall.
Me: Cool. Mention your website and anything else and I wish you tons of luck. All the best, keep rocking, and I'm glad you guys are making music. You might be my favorite new band I heard in awhile.
Keith: Theretroaction.bandcamp.com/, instagram.com/the_retroaction/, facebook.com/retroaction. Really glad you liked it, man! We've got a lot more to come. I can send you the live recording session and all the new singles as they come out if you'd like. Best regards.
Me: That would be cool. Thanks, Keith.
That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Keith for a cool interview. I love his band. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Doug Hempstead from Area Resident. 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