Monday, January 30, 2017

Pheaturing Bryan Jager From "The Spielers"

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? Let's start off with a story about a guy that's hardly in the news and I never talk about on the Phile... just kidding.
Trump has been hard at work last week signing horrendous executive orders and making the White House feel a little bit more like a White home. With regards to the latter, he decided he wanted to hang up a nice historic picture from his first week in office, since everyone has been so happy with his efforts thus far (not!). And of course, he chose to commemorate his inauguration... you know, the one that he forced Sean Spicer to falsely claim was the most well-attended in history, the one that had a mere third of the attendees of the Women's March on Washington that took place the next day. To forever preserve that moment for posterity, Trump decided to frame a photo of the scene on that rainy day when everyone's nightmares came true. The image even includes some lovely script noting the date of the event, so Trump will never forget the day that he was a whiny little baby who threw a fit when no one came to his party. But wait, look closer. What's that date they have written on there?

Oops, it's January 21st, the date of the largest protest in U.S. history! Hehe, what a funny little mistake. While many people took to Twitter to claim that the picture being used was actually from the Women's March (man, wouldn't that have been amazing), Snopes has dismissed that as a false rumor. Nevertheless, having the wrong date on there feels like a tiny taste of some sweet, sweet karma. History will remember that as the more important date, too.
In the last few days, a quote from legendary astrophysicist Carl Sagan has gone viral because of how accurately it describes the current political climate in the U.S.... despite the fact that Sagan died in 1996. The quote is from his book "Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," originally published in 1995. Here's the full quote, "Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness." Amazingly, these comments were made during the Clinton administration, when the U.S. economy was stronger than it's been at any point since. But Sagan, who became world famous after he hosted the original "Cosmos" series, was always known as a forward-thinking man. (He could actually see beyond time, through the fourth dimension.) But as eerie as this quote is, many are pointing out that the rest of the chapter has aged less well. Sagan goes on to use the mid-90s popularity of "Beavis and Butt-Head" and Dumb and Dumber as evidence of the dumbing-down of America. And those things are awesome. Imagine if Sagan had lived to see "The Bachelor." He would be horrified. Two decades after his death, Carl Sagan remains an inspiring but mystifying figure.
This weekend, amidst roiling protests of the Muslim ban, Donald Trump decided to host his first movie night in the White House, THR reports. Can you imagine the pressure he must have felt to pick a movie that would help his family and staff members forget the damage he has done to innocent immigrants' and refugees' lives? That's a lot riding on a 90-minute cinematic experience. He could go the comedy route, and choose something to lift their spirits and help them forget that the first detainees under his ruling were Iraqis who said they'd be killed if they returned to Iraq. Or maybe he'd choose a sad but ultimately uplifting drama, to remind him that it's early on in his presidency and perhaps his ratings will improve (unlikely). What a hard call to make! But, you know what Trump picked? It's pretty rich. I couldn't have made up a better choice. He picked Finding Dory. Yes, the sequel to Finding Nemo. Yes, the movie about a separated family who travels the ocean in hopes of finding each other again. HMMM, DOES THIS PLOT SOUND FAMILIAR TO YOU? For example, you might say that the plot of this movie sounds an awful lot like the real life stories of refugees and immigrants who had hoped to come to the U.S. to reunite with their families?? Might you say that? I would. I'm willing to bet his short attention span stopped him from empathizing with any of the characters and their struggles in the movie. Personally, I'd love to know if Ivanka was there and if she was hungover from the party she went to last night.
Oh, you didn't hear about that? Lemme tell you... The other night, as refugees were detained upon arrival to the U.S. and thousands of people flocked to major airports across the country to protest the Muslim ban, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner were having a fancy date night for the 1%. She posted a photo on Twitter of the couple posing in formal outfits for what appears to be a black-tie affair, with no comment, NY Mag reports.

This image serves as a symbol of the massive gulf between the rich and the disenfranchised populations of the world, and the extreme levels of wealth now present in the White House, and why that's problematic. Even though the date for the event they attended was likely set a long time ago, it makes no sense why she would post a photo of the opulent evening, except for the fact that she is clearly incredibly tone-deaf. It's stomach-churning to imagine the two of them enjoying cocktails, eating tiny, meticulously-made hors d'ouevres and making small talk with out soulless elites, while immigrants and refugees are being turned away at the borders, unable to reunite with their friends or visit sick family members. I wonder if it's hard to dance while knowing that your father has just signed an incredibly self-serving, Islamophobic executive order. Ivanka's oblivious response to Saturday's unrest has her in good company with Uber, who also failed to properly acknowledge the protests. Hey, Ivanka, she wore it better...

Moving on... I have to talk about Star Wars... Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven't seen it yet, what's wrong with you? Star Wars fever has once again gripped the public, raising body temperatures to dangerous heights and threatening to wipe out an entire generation of frail nerds. The reason? On January 23rd, Disney finally released the title of the next installment... Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As soon as it was announced, this title sparked a wave of speculation among the fans. Who is the last jedi? Luke? Rey? CHEWIE? We won't know for sure until the movie comes out in December. But some eagle-eyed fans have noticed a pattern in the titles of the first two movies in the new trilogy that may provide a clue. Put back-to-back, the titles form a sentence. The Force Awakens The Last Jedi. Could this be a coincidence? Knowing how much thought (and money) Disney is putting into the franchise, that seems unlikely. And what's more, this sentence isn't necessarily finished. The as-yet unannounced title of Episode IX could provide another clause. Disney has proven once again that they're masters of torturing us with anticipation. We already couldn't wait until December 15th; now we can't wait until May 23rd, 2019. They're manipulating us like Palpatine, and we're powerless to resist.
So, there was more protestors this weekend because of the Muslim band. Some people had the best and sassiest signs. I have to show you a few...

And then there was this one...

That made me laugh. And then there was this one that didn't make me laugh at all...

How cute though. Do you kids like video games? There's a brand new one out that is not selling very good.

My son loves "Battlefield 1." I said to him is the sequel gonna be called "Battlefield 2"? Haha. Speaking of video games, I saw this the other day and it reminded me of something...

Then it hit me...

That's so stupid... that's as stupid as this...

So, I mentioned the name of the new Star Wars film is The Last Jedi... well, that's better than the original title they had planned.

It doesn't make sense really. This poster for the movie also doesn't make sense...

I'm so confused. Alright, this just in... Trump just signed what could be a new executive order. Let's see what it says...

Ummm... that's not an executive order. So, there's a lot of Trump products out there and not all are flattering. Like this one...

In a move that seems intentional, high-end fashion house Gucci have put out a slipper made from goat hair that looks just like the mythical mop on top of the president's head. Gucci's Princetown Goat-Hair Mules retail for a whopping $1,800. Despite their uncanny resemblance to what people refer to as Trump's “hair,” it's important to note that Gucci dyed the goat hair in order to achieve its, er... Trumpy... look that Gucci describes as “New Natural.” Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Groups Who Went To See "A Dog's Purpose" This Past Weekend
5. Three Labradors is a trench coat who fooled the ticket-taker.
4. Buddhists who believe that we will all, at some point, be reincarnated to play frisbee with Dennis Quaid.
3. Seeing-eye dogs who ignored their owner's desire to go to Rogue One.
2. Nearsighted perverts who think it's about a dog coin' it with a porpoise.
And the number one group who went to see "A Dog's Purpose" is...
1. People who loved both the book and the viral dog-abuse video.

Hahaha. That's one of my favorite ones. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. So, my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was a kid. It's not quite the same as I remember though.

Big Bird, thunking he is following Jackie Chan, gets involved with the wedding between two Triad families. Somehow he becomes the second-hand man to the clan controlling the heroin trade for thirteen entire nations. Within days Big Bird has increased their profits by eighteen million.

The 56th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The author and the guy who put it together and Phile Alum Gary Gerani will be the guest on the Phile next Sunday. Alright, the Oscars are around the corner so I thought it'll be fun to talk about some Oscar facts in a pheature I will call simply....

The 82nd Academy Awards winner of Best Picture, The Hurt Locker has broken a new record in the movie industry. The Hurt Locker bagged 6 Oscars out of nine... a remarkable feat considering it is the lowest grossing movie ever to win the Oscars. Word has it that it only earned $21 million, that's less than 2% of what Avatar has made in domestic ticket sales. Woody Allen's Annie Hall, which made $38 million after its 1977 release, or about $130 million when adjusted for inflation, held the previous record.

Alright, today's guest is the writer, co-director and actor in the original show "The Spielers" which will have its debut at the Orlando Fringe Festival in May. Please welcome to the Phile... Bryan Jager.

Me: Hey, Scooby, welcome to the Phile. Hahaha. How are you?

Bryan: Hahaha, I'm doing well, Jason.

Me: I'll leave it up to you of you want to say why I called you, Scooby, my friend.

Bryan: I will leave that to the reader's imagination, hahaha.

Me: I will say in full disclosure I work with you at Disney as your Coordinator and you are one of the best Cast Members at the attraction. How long have you been working with me now?

Bryan: Aw, that's really very sweet of you, Jason. I did my Disney College Program at Star Tours back in fall of 2013 and I've been seasonal there ever since so, three and a half years now.

Me: You're originally from New York, right? New York City or Long Island?

Bryan: Well, I grew up in northern New Jersey, and went to college in the city.

Me: You're now living down here in Orlando, am I right?

Bryan: Yes, I've been living in Orlando on and off for the past three and a half years, but when I graduated this May, I moved down pretty much full time. I'll still go back and forth up to New York for auditions/friends and family, but 2016 was the first year I've spent more time in Orlando than up north.

Me: So, correct me if I am wrong but you went to acting school... where did you go, Bryan?

Bryan: I did! I went to Marymount Manhattan College in New York.

Me: What was your major in?

Bryan: I majored in Theatre Arts with a double concentration in Directing and Playwriting.

Me: As well as working at Disney you also work at the Distinguished Competition... Universal... which one do you like better?

Bryan: Well, I like working entertainment a lot better than working in attractions, I'll admit, hahaha. And I'm lucky enough to have worked for most (if not all) of the theme parks down here in Central Florida. But really, they're all wonderful companies to whom I owe a lot.

Me: Alright, let's talk about "The Spielers." Some people I am sure have no idea what that word means... "spieler." I at Disney over the years had to do many spiels. Not my favorite thing to do. Anyway, explain briefly what a spiel and spieler.

Bryan: So, a spieler is any attractions attendant who is required to deliver a written speech or so to any grouping of guests. Pretty much every attraction has a spieler in some shape or form, but for some (like Great Movie Ride or Jungle Cruise) the spieler is integral to the story of the attraction and almost becomes a part of your ride.

Me: What was the longest and hardest spiel you ever did, Bryan?

Bryan: Oh, that would've been a Halloween costume parade I worked last year. The name of the parade was stupidly long, and repeated multiple times throughout the 20 minute script. So there was a lot of back tracking/ never knowing where in the show I was, hahaha.

Me: Mine is the Sega Dreamcast spiel I had to do at Universal in 1999. I still have nightmares about it. You were just a baby in 1999, right?

Bryan: Well, old enough to remember coming to Disney World multiple times, hahaha.

Me: Okay, so, what is "The Spielers"? Is it a play or a musical?

Bryan: I love this question, because I get it so much. I always go with the words of esteemed character actor Mandy Patinkin and call it "a journey," hahaha. But for real, it's a play with musical elements. So it's mostly spoken, however we have a composer who's writing the underscoring, and (without giving anything away) there are some rather fun moments of music and song.

Me: What is it about?

Bryan: "The Spielers" is an irreverent action adventure parody of classic theme park spieling attractions. It takes place in the ancient Temple of Neptunus, which has been turned into a world class touring attraction thanks to the the Intercontinental Explorers group. But when the Professor goes missing, it's up to a rag-tag band of tour guides, or "Spielers" to rescue him and save the day. So it's Goonies meets "A Very Potter Musical" meets all the classic theme park spieling attractions like Jungle Cruise, The Great Movie Ride, and Poseidon's Fury.

Me: You're the co-director and writer of it, right? Who is the other director?

Bryan: I'm working with Brenna Hughes, who I went to Marymount with. We worked on a production of "EVITA" together my senior year, and have collaborated on this and that ever since. Her background is in dance, so she is more so in charge of a number of larger/ intricate movement sequences throughout the show. But she's also in charge of keeping me sane throughout this whole process, hahaha.

Me: Okay, so, how did you come up with the idea and the concept of the show?

Bryan: Well, a year or so ago, I was talking with some friends about the weird brand of theme park rides turned movies that Disney churned out in the early 2000s. We said that Universal would never do something like that, as all of their rides are based on pre-existing properties/films, except for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Disaster, and Poseidon's Fury. I made the joke that they should make a Poseidon's Fury film, and we all tossed around ideas of what it would consist of: some amalgamation of the two story lines, the water tunnel sequence, a not so bright but well meaning foreign tourist as your "assistant." And a while later, there was this weird little controversy about the upcoming Jungle Cruise film not using actual Jungle Cruise skippers. So, from those two things, the idea for a show about the spielers who made these rides into attractions formed.

Me: How many people in the show with you, Bryan?

Bryan: We're currently in the process of casting, but it's a company of about 10-12 actors.

Me: So, where did you get the cast from?

Bryan: Well, we had an open call earlier this month for anyone in Central Florida to submit, but we were especially looking for anyone who'd come from a spieling attraction. And I'm really happy to say a large amount of our cast is pulled from people who attended that call.

Me: Was it easy to sell the show and get people to be in it?

Bryan: Surprisingly, yes, hahaha.

Me: So, tell me about "white-HAMILTON." I have no interest in the play "Hamilton." You couldn't pay me enough to see it. Your version is more politically correct than the other version, right?

Bryan: Well, sort of. "(white) HAMILTON" was an Internet short I worked on in my last semester of college.

Me: I have to show a screen shot of it...

Me: You rap in the video.

Bryan: I did, hahaha, not very well.

Me: And you wrote that short?

Bryan: I wrote and directed it.

Me: It's very funny... and I like at the end when she says, "We're Nazis. We're fucking Nazis." Well done, Bryan. Alright, back to "The Spielers"... there's a gofund me pledge to raise money for the show, am I right?

Bryan: You are correct!

Me: How much are you looking to raise, Bryan?

Bryan: Our final goal is $10,000.

Me: So, how much have you raised so far?

Bryan: As of this writing we're just below $2,000.

Me: Why do you need 10,000 dollars for the show?

Bryan: Well, theatre (even for Fringe) is expensive. The budget covers a variety of different purposes from a heightened production budget (sets, costumes, lights, puppets, special effects, animation sequences), lodging for our New York actors/creatives, rehearsal spaces, even stuff like paper goods (printing 20 copies of a 60 page script is not cheap).

Me: Okay, so, if I donated right now a hundred dollars what do I get?

Bryan: Four tickets to the final production and a poster signed by the cast and crew.

Me: What's the highest anyone has pledged?

Bryan: I want to say $200?

Me: The show will be performed in May at the Orlando Fringe Festival... which is something I have never been to but always wanted to go. Maybe I'll go this year and see your show. Have you been to it before?

Bryan: I went just this past year, actually.

Me: What did you have to do to get "The Spielers" into the Festival?

Bryan: Well, the Orlando Fringe Festival operates a randomized lottery drawing to pick who gets slots, divided into categories based upon theatre seating capacity. We were incredibly lucky and were picked as the 13th out of 14 guaranteed slots. I was actually in Disney at Magic Kingdom, playing in the park with a friend, listening to the live stream and when they called our name, my face just dropped and I said "Oh shit... I need to get $1000 in a week." Hahaha.

Me: Will you be filming the show, Bryan?

Bryan: We're hoping to. There's a couple copyright logistics we are working to figure out, but the goal is to have a longer life for this piece.

Me: Do you think they'll be more than one performance of this show or will you be taking this show on the road?

Bryan: We're scheduled 4 performances at Fringe, past that the future is wide open in terms of possibilities.

Me: You'll need a tour manager... hint, hint. Haha.

Bryan: I will keep that in mind, hahaha.

Me: So, one thing about you I didn't know is is that you draw... so do I. How long have you been drawing, Bryan?

Bryan: Oh, forever, hahaha. Like even before starting theatre I've always loved art and drawing.

Me: If someone donates a certain amount they'll get a drawing of themselves?

Bryan: Yes! For $25 you will get a custom pen and ink caricature in whatever pose, clothing/ whatever you want drawn by myself.

Me: Alright, I'm donating a hundred dollars, Bryan. This show better be good. Hahaha.

Bryan: I am holding you to that! Hahaha.

Me: Are you nervous about it?

Bryan: I think you have to be at least a little nervous before anything like this. It's my first show at the Orlando Fringe Festival, the first time any of my writing is getting professionally produced. It's a lot on my shoulders. But I also have a fantastic team working with me to (as I say) bring this nightmare to life, and that alone gives me faith that we're going to produce something incredible.

Me: So, I have to ask.... did you design the logo for the show? It's very Goonies looking.

Bryan: I did! Hahaha.

Me: Okay, so, what's the address of the gofundme page where anyone can pledge?


Me: Do you have a website you wanna plug, Bryan?

Bryan: We have our YouTube channel, where we'll be posting new content weekly: And we have a Facebook page where we'll be posting new content daily:

Me: Good luck with this project... if you want I'll have you back here before or after the show is done. What do you think?

Bryan: That sounds great! Another excuse to talk with you! Hahaha.

Me: Take care, be good, and I'm sure I'll see you at the spaceport soon.

Bryan: Fingers crossed!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Bryan for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with author and Phile Alum Gary Gerani. 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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Pheaturing Thom Solo

Welcome, kids, to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Man, this weather sucks. Sorry you can't make the rain go away no matter how many weather apps you check. Don't bother going outside, I have a lot of stuff for you to read.
In the wake of Donald Trump's election, there has been a spike in incidents of racist and xenophobic harassment across the country. Racial and anti-Semitic graffiti has especially been prevalent, much of which is drawn from the rhetoric and proposals of the president himself. At a time when our country seems irreversibly fractured, reaching out to show kindness and generosity to someone who does not agree with you politically is not only refreshing but especially valuable. Rosalind Harris, a 25-year-old waitress at Busboys and Poets, a local Washington, D.C., restaurant with a social justice mission, served three white men in cowboy hats on the morning January 23rd. The friends, wearing "Make America Great Again" merchandise, were in town from West Texas for Donald Trump's inauguration. Harris is a black woman who identifies as liberal and opposes Donald Trump. In fact, she partook in the Women's March in the nation's capitol the previous Saturday. Despite their obvious differences, "The Daily Wire" reports that the men and Harris remained warm and cordial, were chatty and had a good time. The men had already left the restaurant by the time that Harris came to pick up the check. That is when she discovered that she was given a $450 tip on the $72.60 bill, making that a 625% tip. They also left her a touching note. "We may come from different cultures and may disagree on certain issues, but if everyone would share their smile and kindness like your beautiful smile, our country will come together as one people. Not race. Not gender. Just American." According to "The Washington Post," the tip was left by Jason White, a dentist from Texas, who chose $450 as the amount as a symbol because Donald Trump is the 45th President of the United States. He told the "Post," "We have to think about being better Americans, we have to look into ourselves and how we treat one another. If everyone did a little something to show respect… we can love one another." Harris was obviously shocked and moved by the generous tip, admitting that she prejudged the men as soon as they stepped into the ultra liberal restaurant with their "MAGA" gear on. "You automatically assume if someone supports Trump that they have ideas about you,” she told the "Post," “but [the customer was] more embracing than even some of my more liberal friends, and there was a real authenticity in our exchange." She also said that timing was impeccable, since she is planning on moving and wasn't sure that she could afford the upfront costs. Harris added, "This definitely reshaped my perspective. Republican, Democrat, liberal are all subcategories to what we are experiencing. It instills a lot of hope."
On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that has closed the U.S. borders to refugees from around the world, as well as placed a temporary suspension on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the "New York Times" reports. President Trump said the action intends to keep out "radical Islamic terrorists," when in actuality, it's a xenophobic and bigoted law that sends a message of hate, intolerance and fear to the rest of the world. One of the recent realizations of the ban's effect is that Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will not be able to attend this year's ceremony. According to "The Telegraph," Farhadi was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman, which tells the story of a man seeking revenge on an intruder who attacked his wife while she was alone in their apartment. This isn't Farhadi's first trip to the Academy Awards, either. His film A Separation won two awards in 2012: Best Foreign Language Film (which made it the first Iranian movie to win the award) as well as Best Original Screenplay. In his 2012 speech he spoke of what the award meant to his country, saying that Iranians were celebrating a moment when their rich culture was not shrouded in politics, and war, as it so often is. In the wake of last year's #OscarsSoWhite outrage, many people are hoping that The Academy to speak out on the incident, but knowing that the dusty old elites that comprise The Academy generally hate to make waves, it's hard to predict what will happen, if anything. Farhadi's story is a case in which it makes obvious that this ban reduces other countries to stereotypes and deepening the divides between the Middle East and the U.S. Unfortunately in our world, it's easier to feel upset over an acclaimed artist being denied entry into the U.S. than a regular person, because we value celebrity. But hopefully Farhadi will serve as an example that will resonate, even though a human life should not be measured or made valid by its contribution to society. When we assume that people who are Muslims are threats, we ignore the vast amount of humanity that exists within these countries and assume the worst of places that are teeming with life that is no more or less valuable than the Christian lives that the ruling gives precedent to. It makes clear that when you attempt to ban terrorists by making blanket assumptions about a culture or religion, you stop many other things in their tracks as well. Consider this one of many wake up calls that hopefully celebrities and Hollywood can use to stand up to President Trump.
With President Trump's far-reaching executive order suspending immigration from seven Muslim countries and blocking refugees' entrance to the U.S., people are being detained in airports across the country. New York's JFK Airport in particular has become ground zero for the ban's chilling effects, with one woman attempting suicide for fear of being sent back to Chile and two Iraqi war heroes filing a lawsuit against Trump over being held there despite their visas. These headlines prompted the quick assembly of a protest at JFK's Terminal 4, where a number of such travelers have been detained. As the ranks of the protest swelled, even members of congress turned out to demand an immediate end to Trump's unconstitutional order. As of this writing, the protest is still going strong, with no end in sight. By and large, Trump voters seemed pretty sure that none of his terrible policy proposals would affect them personally. But they may change their tune when the sheer chaos of implementing those bad ideas causes them to miss their flight.
During these tense political times, many Americans feel like we could really use a hero right now. Enter Lan Diep, a civil Legal Aid attorney and city councilman from San Jose, California. According to the Huffington Post, Diep, 32, took the oath of office for San Jose City Council on Tuesday while holding a Captain America shield. Diep, a Republican, told HuffPo that he decided to wield the unique accessory because he believes government can be fun, and the stunt may get some more people to pay attention to local government. "I’m willing to entertain them if they sit through all the policy discussions," he said. Fair enough! The new councilman insists he was not trying to make a metaphorical political statement by carrying the shield, but did admit that it "represents America’s ideals and I do hope to aspire to those ideals of fair play, equal justice, and democracy during my term." He then added, "But really, I just had this awesome shield and I wanted a chance to show it off." Okay, so maybe Diep can't swoop in like an Avenger and save us all from ourselves, but he is a political figure that can make people smile. And that is pretty heroic in times like these.

Queen Elizabeth visited the University of East Anglia on Friday to see an exhibition on Fijian culture. It was meant to be a joint engagement with her and her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. But due to a scheduling mixup by Buckingham Palace, the 95-year-old Philip was nowhere to be found. As a result, Her Majesty went stag. But when she saw the hot Fijian beefcake that was on display, she didn't seem to mind.

Despite the 40°F temperature, these proud warriors waited patiently for the Queen to arrive, their spines and nipples proudly erect. And the 90-year-old clearly appreciated their sacrifice. She's like a Corgi looking at a treat.
Okay, Trump has been pretty busy as the President this past week... signing executive orders like crazy. He is also writing some things that don't make sense.

I have a lot of friends that might freak out about this. So, the line of accession looks pretty odd now that Trump is president. Take a look...

See what I mean? Do you kids like video games? I think there's a new one out that might be fun.

Never mind... I mentioned the Queen just now... well, she recently has been sporting a new hat with an interesting saying on it...

I agree, Your Majesty. Hey, good news, CNN reported who is gonna pay for that wall Trump wants to build.

So, I saw this pic the other day...

And it reminded me of something. And then it hit me...

The out-going president both look so happy. George W. Bush meanwhile has opened up a new theme park...

Hahahaha. That's so stupid... that's as stupid as this...

That makes me laugh. Hahahaha. Man, now that Trump is president there's so many Trump inspired products... and not all are flattering. Like this Trump piñata...

Mexicans have found a way to hit back at Donald Trump... literally. Piñatas, bearing Trump's likeness with “a flange of blonde hair and a big mouth,” have hit store shelves in Mexico and are proving popular with customers eager to protest the billionaire's recent remarks about immigrants. President Trump drew criticism after declaring that Mexico was bringing “drugs, crime, and rapists” to the United States. The Donald's comments prompted piñata maker Dalton Ramirez to design a piñata bearing Trump's visage. The candy-filled sculpture retails for about $40, and Ramirez says it has been flying off shelves. Haha. And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Things El Chapo Has Learned Since Arriving In New York City
5. It's hard to get a good chalupa south of Houston Street.
4. 98 years to finish the 2nd Avenue Subway? His team could've dug that in 3 months!
3. New York City water is the best for making toilet wine.
2. After all the hype, The Naked Cowboy is wearin' freakin' underwear!
And the number one thing El Chapo learned since arriving in New York City is...
1. Uber does not provide "escape vehicles."

Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck please let me know. Alright, so, my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was little. That show has changed quite a but than it used to be.

Grover and Kermit realize their disguises are inadequate as they run into each other at the gay bathhouse.

There's some great stories about farting out there, which you may find hard to believe. I think I talked about this one on the Phile before but... It may not be seen as the most mature way of blowing off steam, but one Swede apparently chose to use his flatulence as "revenge" on a woman who refused to have sex with him. The pair had discussed having sex, but when the woman declined, her male acquaintance left in a huff... literally. Before he exited the apartment, he let a big one rip. The woman allegedly told police in Laholm, Sweden, that she had found the smell of the fart disturbing. Yes, tooting is the best.

John Hurt
January 22nd, 1940 — January 27th, 2017
I am not an animal! I am a human be... oh, wait. Never mind.

Barbara Hale 
April 18th, 1922 — January 27th, 2017
She was in movies for 35 years and on TV for 48 years. And she'll still be remembered as Perry Mason's secretary. Raymond Burr can suck it.

Mike Connors 
August 15th, 1925 — January 26th, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore 
December 29th, 1936 — January 25th, 2017
Looks like she didn't make it, after all.

In an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday, President Donald Trump called Madonna "disgusting" (after her comments about blowing up the White House at the D.C. Women's March) and "SNL" a "disgrace" after one of the writers mocked his son, Barron, on Twitter. It's a good thing the man doesn't hold a grudge. Just kidding! You look at how tight, how tremendously tight he holds onto that grudge with his tiny fingers, believe me. He has great grudges, the best grudges! Speaking to Hannity on his show (the creatively named "Hannity") from the White House, the president said of Madonna, "Honestly, she's disgusting. I think she hurt herself very badly. I think she hurt that whole cause. I thought what she said was disgraceful to our country." And of one of his other enemies, "SNL," Trump said, "I don’t mind some humor, but it’s terrible. For them to attack, for NBC to attack my 10-year-old son, it’s a disgrace. He’s a great boy and it’s not an easy thing for him. Believe me." Although it wasn't technically "SNL" who joked about Barron Trump, it was an employee of "SNL" and therefore an employee of NBC, so fair enough. But for the record, I think Donald Trump does mind some humor, and actually all humor.

The 56th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The author and the guy who put it together and Phile Alum Gary Gerani will be the guest on the Phile  a week from today.

Today's guest is the 35th artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery. Please welcome to the Phile... Thom Solo.

Me: Hey there, Thom, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Thom: Thank you for having me, I’m doing great, thank you!

Me: It was great to meet you at Clermont Comic Con back in November. Did you have a good time there?

Thom: Thank you, yeah, I had a great time at Clermont Comic Con. It’s always fun to do local convention and meet fellow artists and creators.

Me: Do yo do many conventions, Thom?

Thom: Yes, I do a lot of local conventions in the Central Florida area. I’ve recently been adding a few more larger shows to my calendar. This past year I did MegaCon and the year before that I did Geeky Con.

Me: You live locally, right? Whereabouts?

Thom: Yes, I live in Davenport, just 20 from the Disney area.

Me: I live just a few minutes from Davenport. So, ever been to that newish movie theatre there? I haven't. What about Books-A-Million? I've been there many of times.

Thom: Yes, the Cineopolis is a great theater. I saw The Force Awakens there, you get to reserve your seat ahead of time so no rushing to get a good seat at the theater.

Me: So, how long have you been an artist, Thom?

Thom: I’ve been an artist since I was about nine-years-old.

Me: So you been drawing pretty much all your life?

Thom: Yeah, it all started with the 1989 Batman movie, ever since that I’ve been drawing anything I can.

Me: One thing I noticed about your artwork is that it's just not one style... so, what was your firststyle you have done and what is your favorite?

Thom: My favorite style would be a mixed of comic book and cartoon style.

Me: I noticed as well that your work is all over the map... Star Wars, horror, superheroes and more... do you have a favorite genre?

Thom: I couldn’t pick a particular genre, I usually go with whatever I’m in to at the time or will focus on something I haven’t illustrated before.

Me: I think you have done more DC characters than Marvel but I am not 100% sure. Do you read comics?

Thom: Yes, I haven’t been up to date on current comics, but I still keep up with comic news.

Me: What do you prefer? DC or Marvel?

Thom: I do prefer DC over Marvel, just because it was what I was first exposed to, but as I got older I starting reading more Marvel comics.

Me: I love your pin-up pieces... I as you know purchased the Batgirl one. You took a pic of me when I posted it and put it on Facebook.

Me: Have you ever met or heard of another Central Florida artist named Al Albazzia? Pin-ups are his most popular genre and he's been on the Phile a few times.

Thom: No, I don’t think I’ve met Al yet, but I can’t wait to! 

Me: Anyway, are you a big fan of the pin-up style?

Thom: Yeah, it’s always been an eye catching visual, my wife decorated our garage to be a 50s car garage complete with pin-ups all through the garage.

Me: I have to mention your He-Man pin-up I showed on the Phile last week. I don't know a lot about He-Man but I used to have an action figure of the little red guy from that cartoon, whatever his name was. Anyway, how did you come up with the He-Man piece?

Thom: I was trying to figure out what I wanted to submit for Nude Nite 2014, I had done the DC pin-up girls and the female body is always used in the nude medium, so to stand out a little bit I thought I would do a male beefcake pin-up, but I wanted it to be kind of comedic as well, Then I thought of the Burt Reynolds centerfold from "Cosmo" magazine and thought, what if He-Man was in that centerfold.

Me: Do many people buy it?

Thom: Yeah, it always gets a lot of attention. It always makes people laugh!

Me: Do you have a favorite piece that you made?

Thom: That would have to be my Disney/Star Wars poster.

Me: Yeah, that one is cool. I have to show it here...

Me: What was the hardest thing or person you have drawn and what was the easiest?

Thom: The hardest would have to be the Disney/Star Wars poster and the easiest I would say The Blaster Buddies piece with Han Solo and Chewbacca.

Me: Hmmm. Let me look at that one...

Me: That's cool. What tools do you use to do your work?

Thom: I use pencil and pen and paper for my line work then scan that image to either my computer to digitally color with photoshop or I’ll scan it into my iPad and digitally color it in with the Procreate app.

Me: I liked your "Stranger Things" Eleven piece I have shown on here. I thought at the convention I would see a whole lot more "Stranger Things" pieces from different artists but I didn't. Are you gonna make any other pieces from that show?

Thom: Maybe, especially since there’s going to be season two!

Me: Where you a fan of the show? I thought it was pretty good.

Thom: I thought it was great, from episode one I was hooked! I’m went to Spooky Empire in Dec. and gave Millie Bobby Brown a copy of that Eleven piece!

Me: Yeah, I saw this pic of you two...

Me: That's a great pic! So, when you were in school you drew a one page comic strip for the school paper? That's cool. What was it called and what was it about?

Thom: I don’t remember the name of the comic itself, it was kind of like the "Far Side" comic strip. I would kind of pick out some silly or comedic happenings at our school.

Me: I have to ask you about your t-shirt... "Roomies." What is that, Thom? Is that a creation of yours?

Thom: Yes, that’s from a web comic I produced at Two other friends of mine helped me write it and I penciled, inked and colored the comic. The cover was penciled and inked by Garry Roth and I colored the cover as well. Joey Martinez also helped with the writing of the comic. 

Me: I should of asked you to draw me when I saw you at the convention. Do a lot of people ask you to draw themselves?

Thom: I do, sometimes I have people ask me to draw someone they know. Which I can always do, as long as there’s a photograph to go by.

Me: I do that as well. So, I like to ask artists on the Phile what they think of of my logo... I didn't do it, but I still like to know what people think. So?

Thom: Haha. It looks great I like it!

Me: Thom, thanks so much for being on the Phile. I hope it was fun and I hope you'll come back soon. Go ahead and mention your websites and whatever else you wanna mention.

Thom: Sure, my online store is at, Facebook is, Twitter is, Instagram is @thom_solo and my web comic is at

Me: All the best, continued success and I'll see you at a convention soon I'm sure and will have you back on the Phile again soon if you want.

Thom: Sounds great, thank you!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Thom Solo for a great interview. He's such a nice guy. The Phile will be back tomorrow with actor Bryan Jager. 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