Monday, March 27, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Jeremy Croston

Hey, kids, afternoon, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? If you are having a bad Monday... think again. Conservative pundit Tomi Lahren may have ended her own brief career as the face of young furious Republicans, and it's all because she made the grave mistake of having one different opinion. During a March 17th appearance on "The View," Lahren said she is pro-choice, explaining, "I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well." While her supporters had no problem with her saying that Iran is a "terror training ground," or that the DNC paid for violent protests at Trump rallies, this time they decided she'd gone too far. Her bosses at TheBlaze, the conservative outlet started by Glenn Beck where she had been employed, suspended her indefinitely. And if you thought that was just a slap on the wrist to get her to toe the party line, you don't know Beck. Over the weekend, sources confirmed that Lahren has now been permanently banned from TheBlaze. One insider told Page Six, "Glenn is reminding the world of his conservative principles by sidelining Tomi after she insulted conservatives by calling them hypocrites… He just couldn’t sit by and watch as Tomi Lahren said there’s no way for conservatives to justify anything other than being pro-choice." Some feel that this is part of Glenn Beck's attempt to win back fans who feel that he himself has gone soft on his conservative credentials. Readership of TheBlaze is way down since he appeared on "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee." So if you thought this story was a sign of the conservative movement doing some serious soul-searching, don't worry. It's just pundits selling each other out to survive.
United Airlines decided to enforce a nonexistent dress code and refused to allow two girls onto their flight yesterday morning because they were wearing leggings. "The Washington Post" reports that a third girl, who was approximately 10-years-old, was also wearing leggings and was asked to change before she could board her flight from Denver to Minneapolis. She ended up putting a dress on over her leggings. Shannon Watts, a political activist who is well-known for founding the gun safety campaign Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, was at the gate, saw the whole thing go down, and tweeted about the event to her 32.7K followers, bringing the incident to a wider audience. United made a statement in response to her tweet and the ensuing outrage, saying "United shall have the right to refuse passengers who are not properly clothed via our Contract of Carriage." The airline clarified that "this is left to the discretion of the agents," but made no mention of what constitutes being "properly clothed." Watts then tweeted a series of thoughts and salient observations about the obvious sexism of the incident. After Watts took them to task and the ridiculous story started to pick up steam, others, including celebrities Patricia Arquette and Chrissy Teigan, joined in to discuss how outrageous it was that United was trying to police these girls' bodies. In a statement to the "New York Daily News," Watts said "I'd like (United) to understand that leggings are part of a woman's attire in modern day America. It is not inappropriate or sexual." United, please hear us when we tell you it is not sexual, it's just comfortable.
A group of Americans on spring break in Cancun, Mexico brought stupid to a whole new level when they began chanting "build that wall!"... while on the wrong side of the wall. According to Mexican newspaper "The Yucatan Times," the American tourists attended a pirate-themed show on a boat off the port of Puerto Juárez. As the show ended, the Americans started chanting "build that wall!" to the shock and disgust of other passengers. What school are these kids on spring break from, and why don't they teach geography or manners there? Although some Mexican passengers complained to the crew, the tourists persisted with the chant. "The Yucatan Times" noted that this is hardly an isolated incident, and ever since Donald Trump was elected, American tourists have gotten more "offensive, rude and haughty" toward Mexicans... in their own country. On second thought, if the wall bordering Mexico has to be built, the best time to do it is probably when a bunch of drunk, annoying Americans are out of the country.
Hey, how have you been sleeping lately? Good? Cool, well not anymore, because this mugshot of some dude in full Joker makeup will probably keep you up at night.

According to Winchester Police Department spokesperson Commissioner Gordon... I mean Jennifer Hall, several concerned citizens called 911 and reported seeing a man dressed like the Joker carrying a sword. Thirty-one-year-old Jeremy Putman was later arrested and charged with wearing a mask in public, a felony that could result in up to a year in jail. Yeah, that is a thing you can actually be arrested for! Putman is being held on a $2,000 secured bond. Better fire up the bat symbol. You know, just in case.
For now, Trumpcare is dead. The Obama-era health law it was supposed to replace is still the law of the land. Republicans, despite control of the White House and both sides of Congress, and with President Trump acting as party whip, couldn't even pull themselves together to vote on their garbage bill. So if you were watching some college basketball a few nights ago and saw a commercial thanking your Republican representatives for repealing Obamacare, you probably did a double take. Because didn't that... not happen? Several ads tailored to specific markets and representatives, aired courtesy of the conservative American Action Network PAC, which is either wasting its money or really doubling down on the whole "fake news"/"alternative facts" angle. Because the sad thing is, you know at least some people who watched these commercials totally believed them. Even more amazingly, these phony videos have been on American Action Network since March 14th, well before any scheduled vote on Trumpcare. They were just too excited and confident about stripping away insurance for millions! But hey, guys, really... don't worry about keeping your promises. Plenty of people get reelected for decades without doing that.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is many things: a former California governor, a perpetual annoyance to President Trump, and one of the most accomplished movie stars alive. But perhaps above all, he is a big, buff dude who lives for pure sport and athleticism... which is why he's a fan of the Special Olympics. A few days ago, Schwarzenegger was on hand for the Special Olympics World Games 2017, being held in his home country, Austria. He posted a brief video to Snapchat and Facebook with some of the winners, saying that they inspired him. The post garnered many positive comments. But one guy wasn't having it. "The Special Olympics makes no sense," he complained. "The Olympics are for the best athletes in the entire world to compete against each other to determine who is the best. Having retards competing is doing the opposite!" Well, RIP that jerk, whose life was ended by Schwarzenegger's devastating reply.

Dang, that's an ice-cold clap back from the man who played Mr. Freeze. Just no coming back from that, not ever. Unless, of course, that guy does end up changing his ways and quitting the sad, pitiful, jealous troll life. It could happen!
So, the new trailer for Justice League was released and there was one scene I was confused about...

I didn't know Bane was gonna be in the movie. Disney, the greatest company to work for ever, is known once in awhile to change the look of its characters. There's one change I am not so sure about...

That's Meg from Hercules I think. I should know, I only worked for Disney for over 29 years. Hey, did you see what happened to Trump? It was a prank this whole fucking time.

Andy Kauffman lives! Hahaha. That's so stupid. That's almost as stupid as...

Hahahahahahaha. That's funny! So, it's Spring Break for some schools, and some kids are just acting plain stupid. Like this reindeer who got too buck-wild...

Let's hope no one tells Santa about this. Hey, did you see what President Trump was driving the other day?

He looks so mad. Alright, I saw this pic today and it reminded me of something...

I couldn't figure out what and then it hit me.

Hahaha. Uncanny, right? And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things What To Expect When The Raiders Move To Vegas
5. Players will be worried less about concussions and more about heat stroke.
4. Game outcomes will be a source of mystery, due to local "What Happens in Vegas" laws.
3. Suspiciously, the new stadium's concession stands will sell what appear to be casino-buffet leftovers.
2. It could really open the door for people to start betting on professional sporting events.
And the number one thing to what to expect when the Raiders move to Vegas is...
1. Two words: Elvis Refs.

Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, you know I live in Florida... well, there's a lot of strange things that happen in Florida that happens no where else in the Universe. That's why I have a pheature called...

A young man in Lakeland, Florida is facing his day in court after the local police saw photos of him sitting shirtless in the middle of an intersection, eating pancakes off a small TV tray. Baffled police officers posted the story on Facebook as a deterrent against anyone else who might be thinking about committing this very specific crime. After a concerned citizen shared a video of the suspect and his flapjacks on the Lakeland PD Facebook page, some of his friends immediately outed him as 21-year-old Kiaron Thomas, who lives 100 yards from that very intersection. Police interviewed him, and he admitted he pulled the stunt as a prank (ON WHO?). Thomas was charged with Placing an Obstruction in the Roadway and Disrupting the Free Flow of Traffic. His court date has been set for April 25th. Some Facebook commenters complained, stating that eating pancakes is a victimless crime. The police responded with another photo to prove them wrong.

When will people learn that eating pancakes is a privilege, not a right?

Dallas Green 
August 4th, 1934 — March 22nd, 2017
More of a greenish-black, actually.

Chuck Barris 
June 3rd, 1929 — March 21st, 2017
He joins Gene Gene The Dancing Machine in that great green room in the sky.

David Rockefeller
June 12th, 1915 — March 20th, 2017
A shining example that you can have all the money in the world and you're still going to end up on this shitty blog.

Three old maids die and arrive in heaven at the same time. When they get there, St. Peter says, "We only have one rule here in heaven: don't step on the ducks!" So they enter heaven, and sure enough, there are ducks all over the place. It is almost impossible not to step on a duck, and although they try their best to avoid them, the first woman accidentally steps on one. Along comes St. Peter with the ugliest man she ever saw. St. Peter chains them together and says, "Your punishment for stepping on a duck is to spend eternity chained to this ugly man!" The next day, the second woman accidentally steps on a duck and along comes St. Peter, who doesn't miss a thing. With him is another extremely ugly man. He chains them together with the same admonishment as for the first woman. The third woman has observed all this and, not wanting to be chained for all eternity to an ugly man, is very, VERY careful where she steps. She manages to go months without stepping on any ducks, then one day St. Peter comes up to her with the most handsome man she has ever laid eyes on... very tall, dark hair, and muscular. St. Peter chains them together without saying a word and walks away. The happy woman says, "I wonder what I did to deserve being chained to you for all of eternity?" The guy says, "I don't know about you, but I stepped on a duck!"

Alright, today's guest is a Phile Alum and author of "Hat Trick: A Ragnarok on Ice Story (Volume 4)," the 58th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome back to the Phile... Jeremy Croston.

Me: Jeremy! Hey, there, welcome back to the Phile. Hi, Jak? How have you been, Jeremy?

Jeremy: Not too bad, Mr. Peverett. How the hell are you?

Me: Not bad. First of, congratulations, you are now a father. I never thought I'd see Jeremy Croston as a dad... but then again people said the same thing about me when I became a dad 18 years ago. How old us your son now, Jeremy?

Jeremy: Thanks, man, and trust me, there was a time in my life I didn’t think I’d be a dad. But here we are. Jak is 7-months-old. Holy crap, it’s been 7 months already.

Me: Did you forget the "c" on purpose? Who came up with his name, you or your wife?

Jeremy: I did. Steph wanted to go with Jaxon but I wasn’t a giant fan of the "x." So I said how about Jakson with no "c" and she said we can do that.

Me: My sons name is Logan and being a geek I was coming up with names like Anakin, and Han and Luke, and other Star Wars names. My wife said, "ye who carries baby gets to name baby" and she didn't want a geeky name. So, it was down to Liam and Logan. I thought Liam was cool, as Qui-Gon would never work. Then she named him Logan. Ha! Wolverine's name. And now there's a movie with that name. So, he got a geek name. Anyway, looking at you both in your Turtles hats I am surprised he's not named Leonardo. Haha. You're a big Turtles fan, right?

Jeremy: LOL... I’ll let you all in on a secret. I was tempted to name him Atari but that was quickly vetoed. As were all four of the Ninja Turtle names. I was angling for Jakson Raphael Oroku Saki Croston.

Me: Which Turtle is your favorite?

Jeremy: It’s always been a toss-up between Mikey and Raph but I’ll go with Mikey today. Non turtles... Casey Jones is the man. Stephen Amell did an amazing job playing him in the 2nd movie.

Me: So, what's your favorite thing about being a dad?

Jeremy: Seeing Jak’s face light up when he sees stuff for the first time. One of the things about being a geek is that I love stupid stuff. Sometimes we forget the wonderment and excitement that comes with seeing something so cool for the very first time. As a dad and seeing Jak laugh and clap his hands when he sees something cool, you remember that’s what it was all about.

Me: Okay, you didn't come here to talk about fatherhood... you came here to talk about your book "Hat Trick: A Ragnarok on Ice Story (Volume 4)." Holy shit, that's a long ass title, man. Couldn't you come up with a shorter title?

Jeremy: Probably but as Steph would tell you, I’m a wordy kinda guy. Also, the more words you use, the better your chances of Amazon picking up the title when someone does a search. That’s what we in the biz call playing the system, LOL.

Me: Good idea. Hey, so, what do you think about the new Thor movie being called Ragnarok? They stole the idea from you. Hahaha.

Jeremy: Funny thing about that movie is it looks more "Planet Hulk" storyline than Ragnarok storyline. I guess that’s a good thing if we get to see more of Ruffalo as the Hulk/Banner. To be fair, we both stole the ideas from the vikings. Of course, those guys were badass, so can you blame anyone for stealing their ideas?

Me: So, is Norse mythology something you have been into your whole life?

Jeremy: Yeah. I’m not sure who, but when I was young, a relative of mine gave me a Nordic myth book along with a simplified version of "Beowulf." I read those things so many times the pages began to fall out. There was always something so mystical about the tales, featured in this wintery-like climate with these larger than life figures. Plus, all the connections to the stories (including "Beowulf") to early Christian teachings. Unless you know to look for it, you’d never see how the two were connected.

Me: I don't know too much about Norse stories, except Thor is an alien and an Avenger. Ha. I was more into Greek mythology. Anyway, one of the books that was pheatured in the Phile's Book Club was "Power Play: Ragnarok on Ice." Is this book a prequel or sequel to that book?

Jeremy: A sequel. This book takes place twenty or so years after the main story. Plus it also follows the kids of the main characters from the first go around, so new faces, similar places. "Hat Trick" is probably my favorite book that I’ve written.

Me: How many in this series, Jeremy?

Jeremy: This is numero 4. "Power Play," "Penalty Kill," and "Game Over" make up the original trilogy and "Hat Trick" starts a new part to the series.

Me: So, what is the book about? Does it have the same characters?

Jeremy: So yeah, the kids of the main characters take over this time. Their parents have been kidnapped by a pretty powerful historical figure (teaser, it’s someone I’ve mentioned previously) and they go on this journey to save them. There is way more Norse mythology weaved in, plus some pretty awesome cameos, and, as one critic put it, some of the best action scenes that she’s read in this genre. I take pride in my ability to write some unique scenarios for my action scenes.

Me: How long did it take to write this book?

Jeremy: From first word to final edit... 6 months. I’ve streamlined my process and it makes it a lot easier on me, Steph, and our editor, Becki.

Me: It seems you're coming out with some kinda book all the time... is your mind always creating and thinking of stories?

Jeremy: I’ve been a storyteller my whole life. As a kid, a teacher once told me that my wild imagination would lead to my downfall if I didn’t get it under control. Now look at me, my wild imagination has created so many interesting worlds for people to explore. I should send him a signed copy of one of my books with “asshole” secretly written on a hidden page.

Me: Another series of your is the "Negative Man" series. How many in this series now?

Jeremy: Two main books and a short story. Plus I got a crap ton of companion material on my blog and such. "The Negative Man" world has turned pretty expansive.

Me: So, do you write one Ragnarok book and then one Negative Man book?

Jeremy: Pretty much. I take a few months of to recharge, but when the bug hits to get the next one written, it’s off to the races.

Me: Which series do you prefer?

Jeremy: My favorite is the "Ragnarok on Ice" world but I’d be a fool not to realize that "The Negative Man" series isn’t by far more successful. There’s something special about the characters that people can really relate to.

Me: Are they set in the same universe?

Jeremy: Nope, one is set in real places and the other is all fictional settings.

Me: Okay, so, I have to tell you a story... I was at Clermont Comic Con (I did an entry of the Phile there) and I was walking around and on one table for sale I saw your books on sale. I thought you were gonna be there but you weren't. Did you go to the Con?

Jeremy: I was supposed to be there but at the last minute I got called out of town for my real job, Camping World. It made me quite sad not to be there since I was invited.

Me: Do you ever go to cons?

Jeremy: Yes. I’ve been at the Osceola Library Comic Con two years in a row and this year, I’ll be at the Trinity Prep Book Show.

Me: Did you know your books was being sold there? I wish I knew who was selling them.

Jeremy: I do. I have a deal with a local comic shop, Krum’s World, to be the exclusive "Negative Man" dealer in Orlando. They are right off 50 in Winter Garden, beside the Publix.

Me: You recently did a book signing, am I right?

Jeremy: Yes I did. I love doing those.

Me: Where was that and did a lot of people show up?

Jeremy: At Krum’s World, again. And we had a lot of people show up. It was a lot more than I even anticipated. We were selling books, t-shirts, and even bookmarks. It was a great day.

Me: I have to congratulate you on something... didn't one of your books win an award of some sort? 

Jeremy: "The Negative Man: City of Chaos" won the Summer Independent Authors’ Book Award for Science Fiction. Yeah, talk about something that completely blew my mind. To be a published author is one thing. To be an award winning author, yeah, that’s next level kinda stuff. Months later, even thinking about it, I’m at a loss.

Me: What was the award, and who gave to you?

Jeremy: Basically it was given to me by the Independent Authors Committee (ie, authors not with the big six publishing house like Random, Scholastic, etc…). The award symbolizes excellence in writing and storytelling.

Me: How did you find out you won?

Jeremy: A congratulations email from the head of the committee and a very sweet prize package that included doing some interviews and getting "City of Chaos" featured in a few publications.

Me: You must be thrilled your book carer is taken off, Jeremy. Your books could be the next Harry Potter or "Twilight" series if you keep going down this route.

Jeremy: Thrilled doesn’t begin to describe it. To think what just started off with me writing some crazy ass story down has turned into something like this, yeah. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.

Me: Do you have a favorite author who you wish you could be?

Jeremy: I love Rick Riordan’s stuff, "Percy Jackson" and "Magnus Chase." He’s another author who does justice when it comes to writing modern stories based on the old mythological tales. He’d be the guy I’d want to sit down with and pique his brain.

Me: So, I am thinking of writing a book... if I ever get time around to it. Any advice you can give me?

Jeremy: If you have a story to tell, tell it. Writing the story is the easy part. Once that is done, that’s when the real work kicks in (marketing, editing, picking the right cover). Stay true to your vision and run with it. A second piece of advice is to not be afraid to fail, but then change what didn’t work. "Power Play" when it first came out was an epic bomb. I had a poor editor, a terrible cover, the whole nine yards. But, as I kept going and learning, I went back and made the necessary changes. Part of failing is learning what didn’t work and changing that. Too many authors out there are stuck in their ways and fail over and over again without ever changing.

Me: How did you first start to write, Jeremy? Were you hesitant at first?

Jeremy: I started in college and just kinda gave up on it. Steph found my stuff and encouraged me to pick it back up. I was quite hesitant at first, but something felt right about it all. And here we are today, on the cusp of this becoming something a lot larger than I think anyone imagined.

Me: How many hours a day do you write?

Jeremy: With a child, it becomes harder, but I try to do a few hours a day when possible.

Me: Alright, so, what's next for you? Another "Negative Man" book?

Jeremy: Yep. In a Phile exclusive, I’m going to plug the release date a week early before anyone else will know. "Legends Can Die," book 3 of the series, will be released on Independence Day, 2017. Happy Fourth of July everyone! Preorders will be hitting Amazon soon and, like always, during that stage, the book will be at the cheap price of 99 cents before jumping to $3.99 at release.

Me: Cool! Is there a website you'd like to plug or anything?

Jeremy: Sure... my blog is and my publisher’s page is You can also find me on Amazon at

Me: Any more book signings lined up?

Jeremy: Friday, April 7th, I’ll be at Trinity Prep for their author showcase. In late April, my publisher is thinking about doing a reader appreciation pizza party, so I can keep you posted about that. And finally, at Krum’s World on June 24th, I’ll be releasing limited edition copies of "Legends Can Die" a week early. Come on by to any event and say hi.

Me: Jeremy, thanks so much foe being back on the Phile. Please come back again soon and congrats on being a dad once again. All the best, take care.

Jeremy: A pleasure as always, Jason. I can’t wait to see what crazy book you come up with!

Me: Ha. Don't hold your breath.

That about does it for another entry of the Phile. The Phile will be back next Monday with musician Nozart. 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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Pheaturing Veronica Swift and Phile Alum Stephanie Nakasian

Hey, everyone, good morning and welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? Happy technical first day of spring. If you don't already have a fear of flying, you definitely will after hearing this story. Comedian Nicole Byer was not laughing when she got a disgusting surprise while on a recent Delta flight. As Byer unwrapped a blanket provided by the airline, she discover that it has definitely been used before... as toilet paper. Yes. Byer literally discovered human feces in her Delta Airlines-provided blanket. And before you ask... yes, it was one of the blankets that comes pre-wrapped in a bag that is supposed to signify that the linens inside have been properly cleaned and folded. Jokes aside, this is truly so unsanitary. Sure, people often talk about how airplanes are flying tin cans full of germs, but this is next level. Delta did end up responding, but Nicole wasn't buying it. Looks like Delta has some shit to sort out... literally.
During an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," comedian and actor Tim Allen said that being conservative in Hollywood was a lot like living in Germany during the 1930s, "Time" reports. "You’ve gotta be real careful around here," he said, acknowledging his own sheepishness to admit that he attended the inauguration. "You get beat up if don’t believe what everybody believes. This is like ’30s Germany. I don’t know what happened. If you’re not part of the group, 'you know what we believe is right,' I go, 'Well, I might have a problem with that.'" So, in this analogy, as an outsider is Allen saying that he's a persecuted Jew and liberals are Nazis because they're the prevailing majority in Hollywood? Because that is a pretty bad analogy considering that the right harbors a faction of actual Nazis (the Alt Right). Additionally, throwing around references to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust should be avoided for the most part, especially when you're a rich person living in Hollywood. His defensiveness cropped up after giving a meandering answer to whether or not he attended the inauguration. "I was invited, we did a VIP thing for the vets, and went to a veterans ball, so I went to go see Democrats and Republicans," he said, before finally adding, "yeah I went to the inauguration." Well, if you're really ashamed to admit something, maybe that's a sign that what you did was a less-than-honorable thing. Allen currently plays an outspoken conservative on the sitcom "Last Man Standing" and is generally comfortable admitting his right-wing political leanings. But when talking with Kimmel, he seemed a bit nervous and defensive. "I'm not attacking you," Kimmel said, laughing at Allen's long-winded explanation. "I'm a comedian, I like going on both sides," said Allen. But it sounds like he's already determined which side he's on.
Mulan is the next Disney movie in line to get the live-action treatment, but the new version probably won't include everyone's favorite part of the movie: the very badass "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" song and montage. That's because the director, Niki Caro, doesn't plan to include any songs in the updated movie. In an interview with Moviefone she confirmed this update, saying "from what I understand, no songs right now, much to the horror of my children." Beauty and the Beast, the entertainment giant's most recent live-action remake which premiered on March 16th, is a full-fledged musical, but io9 points out that the Cinderella remake from a few years ago didn't include any songs, so this decision isn't entirely earth-shattering. And while this could still change, maybe it's best to not get our hopes up. For now, just pour one out and add "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" to your gym playlist.
A Tennesee woman named Deshania Ferguson posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that pissed her off in a nail salon. The sign read, "Sorry, but if you are overweight, pedicures will be $45 due to service fees for pedicurists. Thank you!" Along with the picture Deshania Ferguson wrote, "Went to get my nails done on Overton Crossing and Frayser Blvd and this is what they have up… so rude," followed by a bunch of angry face emojis. Who even determines who's "overweight"? It's such an arbitrary judgment! Is the salon planning on figuring out the BMIs of its customers? Local news station WREG went to the salon, but the sign had reportedly already been taken down. The owner of the nail salon, Son Nguyen, denied that the Facebook picture had been taken in his salon, even though the walls and floor allegedly matched, saying "[the salon in the photograph] could be anywhere."Nguyen did say, however, that he denies service to anyone "severely overweight," citing the extra work for the manicurists and damage to his chairs. He admits that customers have gotten upset with him over his policy. Really, you don't say.
J.K. Rowling has won numerous awards for the Harry Potter series, but maybe we should consider giving her an award for her sick Twitter burns. Rowling has a history of putting Donald Trump in his place, and now she's done it again. On Friday, a video of Donald Trump meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel went viral after he awkwardly refused to shake her hand. The video quickly went viral, because let's face it, it's awkward AF. Many people on the internet quickly chimed in with commentary on the non-handshake seen 'round the world, but master-of-Twitter-shade J.K. Rowling's caption may have been the winner.

Stay tuned for Donald Trump's 3am tweet storm about the "failing Harry Potter books." ("Boy wizard? SAD!")
Speaking of J.K. Rowling, she has a new Harry Potter book coming out and I have the exclusive title and book cover here.

I bet it's a very good one. I'll wait for the movie. You know, over the years people have made fun of my name calling me "Pervert." Well, there's a lot worse names to have, people.

See what I mean? Hahahaha. CNN has reported what President's Trump next executive order is...

Not the Jedi! Noooo!!! So, have you guys seen the movie Arrival? I haven't yet, but after seeing this pic from it I kinda want to.

A lot of people are on spring break right now and sometimes those times end in compete failure.
Like the guy who trusted someone to rub sunscreen on his back...

It should say "I suck at choosing friends." And now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Startling Similarities And Differences Between Donald Trump And The Beast 
5. His shirt temper and erratic behavior tend to alienate others.
4. Though physically hideous, he possesses a kind heart and a good soul.
3. His massive head is matted with an unruly tangle of fur.
2. His only friends are members of his staff, who live in perpetual fear of him.
And the number one similarity or difference between Trump and the Beast is..,
1. He is on a quest for one true love to last a lifetime.

This is a pretty lame Mindphuck. If you spot it let me know. Alright, so, my son and I were recently talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was little. That show has changed quite a bit since he was a kid. Again here's the pheature called...

Bert is starting to regret accommodating Middle East war refugees.

SHOCKING NEWS: Donald Trump is still pissed at Alec Baldwin for playing him on "Saturday Night Live," according to "Entertainment Weekly." In a Fox News interview that previewed the other night, the president was asked to choose from three of his nemeses which one he would "fire." Get it? Because he used to "fire" people on his show "The Apprentice" and now he is the president and has a lot of power and we should all be afraid! LOL! “Chuck Schumer, the president of CNN [Jeff Zucker], and Alec Baldwin. If you had to fire one person right now, who would you fire?” Fox host Jesse Watters asked the president of the United States of America. Trump of course put some serious thought into answering this monumentally important hypothetical question. And... surprise! He wants to fire all three of them. "I think the Alec Baldwin situation is not good," he said. "Chuck I’m very disappointed in, because he’s a guy who should make deals for the people... instead he’s just an obstructionist. So, I’m disappointed in him. And Jeff Zucker, I mean, I got him the job. And CNN is just, you know, fake news." He continued: "who would I say? I just, I don’t want to say, but I will say I’m disappointed in all three. I think the portrayal of me is ridiculous." Trump has made no secret of the fact that he has a huge chip on his shoulder over Alec Baldwin's portrayal of him on "Saturday Night Live." But luckily for Donald Trump, Baldwin might not be doing the impression for much longer. Because as they say in comedy, you only roast the ones you love. And Alec Baldwin loves Donald Trump like I love going to Wawa craving their mashed potatoes and they are out.

The 58th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author will be a guest on the Phile a week from today... next Monday.

Bracketology refers to the rigorous scientific process of "throwing some upsets" into your otherwise cookie-cutter NCAA tournament bracket.

This is pretty cool... today's pheatured guest is a jazz singer who has a new CD out called "Lonely Woman." She is joined by her mom, and Phile Alum here and I think it's pretty cool. Please welcome to the Phile Veronica Swift and back to the Phile... Stephanie Nakasian.

Me: Hello, ladies. Steph, welcome back to the Phile... Veronica, welcome to the Phile. How are you both?

Stephanie: As well as can be expected trying to re-define our lives without Hod.

Me: So, I have to mention Hod O'Brien... your husband and father who I was honored to interview for the Phile. I was so sorry to hear he passed away back in November. He was an amazing talent and I am sure even a better family man. I lost both of my parents from cancer in 2000 so I know what you went through and are going through. My dad was a musician but I have no musical ability except the kazoo but you two both have amazing talent as well and got to perform with Hod and record with him. Those are memories you both will share forever, right?

Stephanie: So many great performance moments. Hod and I went to 13 countries, 10 islands, 33 states... amazing especially all the touring with Veronica with us... as a family on stage... since she was 9. He was a humble, sweet, caring man... never made a call for a gig... just practiced and honed his craft and composed great music.

Me: And you're doing okay, Veronica?

Veronica: It’s been a whirlwind of ups and downs after having graduated and lost my father, and now moving to NYC and starting my string of steady gigs. I’d say all in all I'm in a good place.
Me: Stephanie, you met Hod in the 80s... it was jazz music that brought you guys together, right? 

Stephanie: Well, both our families lived in Charlottesville, Virginia... I was a banker at the time in New York... I went to hear him play at Gregory's not far from where I lived in New York. He taught me jazz.

Me: When you had Veronica did you know she was gonna have an amazing talent in her own right? 

Stephanie: Pretty soon... she was hearing sounds... all sorts of sounds and picked up language and music right away... was composing songs at a young age. Two songs she wrote at 3 or 4-years-old Hod recorded... "Kingdom Song" and "Good Guy Bad Guy." Amazing she was on stage with us and on her own at 9... recorded first CD at 9 with Richie Cole then 13 with Harry Allen, etc.

Me: Veronica, how old were you when you started to sing?

Veronica: I was 9-years-old when I started appearing professionally on major stages and festivals. I toured not only with my parents but a youth jazz band I played trumpet in as well called the Young Razzcals Jazz Project led by Dave Adams. He gave me the opportunity to record, tour, and perform with revered artists at the Telluride Jazz Festival which yielded many other opportunities to come.

Me: Do you remember your first album when you were nine? What was it called?

Veronica: Yes, that album is called “Veronica’s House of Jazz” and there is a collection of vocals classics like "Twisted" as well as a couple tunes that fit a child of that age like “I Like to Fuss” from the childrens’ comedic song compilation album by Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford. This album not only is really hip I feel, but is perfect when introducing jazz to children and I still use these albums when teaching young children to sing and scat.

Me: I actually found the cover of the CD on-line but didn't know it was your first one... or what it was.

Me: Awe. Stephanie, you are a teacher, right? At University of Virginia? What do you teach again?

Stephanie: I am a voice instructor at UVA in Charlottesville near where we live and at the college of William and Mary in Williamsburg... teaching non-classical voice students... about 40 per semester... mostly astrophysicists, lawyers, doctors etc, not music majors. They're great young people and a lot of good singers... also have two books I wrote... one on jazz and one on singing... and do workshops around the world and at music conferences (20 states).

Me: The first time you were where was when one of your books was on the Phile's Book Club I believe. Veronica, did your mom teach you or did you go to other classes?

Veronica: When it comes to jazz voice I never took lessons from my parents or anyone else. Really as a singer the more important skills are harmony and ear training. This I got form my trumpet lessons with John D’Earth. There was also opera training in my high school years which I thank for my ability to sing for days on end without fatigue. But in all honesty, listening to and transcribing the great instrumentalists is the best form of lessons, as this is how the great singers (such as Anita O’Day and Ella) learned.

Me: What music did you listen to growing up? I am sure you were surrounded by jazz growing up. 

Veronica: I believe the mere exposure as a baby was largely responsible for my picking up bebop language very much how you learn to speak your first language (copying the sounds you hear and listening to your family speaking to you). But my own interests in jazz didn't appear till much later, as a child I was mostly listening to classical music. To me, Bach Debussy and Stravinsky were most other kids’ Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.

Me: Did you both like the same music? Is there anybody either of you like but the other doesn't?

Stephanie: Ha... we do like the same music... DNA maybe. I'm not as into the heavy metal stuff but i'm an old fart now... it's pretty good stuff she's doing in that genre... very musical... just loud. I'm actually not an opera person... she adores it we pick the same tunes alot and she has decided to perform many songs I have recorded.

Me: You like heavy metal, Veronica?

Veronica: As I went through my years at University of Miami, I started to gravitate towards the dramatics and theatrical genre of Hard Rock (ala Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson). I would say that even though my mother understands how I would love this style, she herself is not a fan, just because of the screaming. But to me, jazz is an art of subtlety and I don’t get to let out my dramatic side when performing jazz. So I wrote a rock opera which mixes the styles of metal and opera (both very dramatic musical styles). This allows me to stay sane and balanced, and I would like this opera to be performed on stage or in film.

Me: My son is a big Alice Cooper fan. It's cool you like rock music.

Veronica: I idolize the theatrical finesse and heaviness of Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson. Luckily, I had a manager interested in my rock project who managed Manson in the 90s when he lived in Miami. Thanks to John Tovar I got to meet Manson and hang with him for a night and all we did was talk about metaphysics, romantic poets, and he really showed interest in my project. I hope to have him as part of my opera.

Me: Veronica, did you read the interviews I did with your parents for the Phile? Your mom always talked about you.

Veronica: No, I haven’t, why don't you send them to me, I would love to read them!

Me: I will. Steph, you're very proud of your daughter, right?

Stephanie: Of course... she's amazing... talented and grounded... kind to people and wise for her years she's always creating... that's what I love and she's a great storyteller. That's what makes her strong on stage.

Me: Veronica, you mentioned you went to University of Miami which your mom told me. Go Canes! It's all about the U!! Did you have a good time time?

Veronica: Well, I had a mixed experience. Without going into detail I was very lucky to have some of the best teachers like John Hart, Larry Lapin, and Whit Sidener. I was placed in instrumental ensembles where I got to use my voice not just as a singer would use the voice. I was a horn, and that's where I really got to challenge myself. Through the University Shelly Berg brought such amazing opportunities and I feel extremely blessed to have had him as a part of my education, and now professional career. But it was extremely difficult to manage my career and school life, this brought tension amongst other professors. Not to mention I lacked a social life.

Me: Did you graduate? What was your major?

Veronica: I graduated December 2016 with a Bachelor of Music.

Me: So, where are you living now?

Veronica: After I graduated I moved in with my mom to support her at this hard time without dad, while at the same time also looking for NYC apartments (a daunting task). But I found one, the perfect spot on 157 and Broadway and I move in March 26th.

Me: Very cool!!! I think it's cool you both perform shows together... you both seem so close. Is there anything you ever disagree with?

Veronica: I don’t think so. We just play our tunes and swing hard. What else is there? Stephanie: Sure... she's 22... ha! But we have a great relationship I treasure it... especially now that Hod is gone. She is his legacy and I get him through her.

Me: Okay, let's talk about "Lonely Woman." First of, I don't think you are lonely. Why that album title?

Veronica: Well, the life of a touring musician is very much lonely. Half the time I'm in a hotel room by myself and working on charts (if I’m not already working on charts at my home). And as I mentioned before, I sort of lack a social life. Each minute I am actively seeking my next goal and thinking about the hustle, booking, practicing, and more and more it seems there’s no time for anything social.

Me: Are their all originals on the album?

Veronica: There is one original. The tune is called "Bisky," and it was my first jazz original. I like to include an original on each record of mine. 

Me: How did you chose which songs to record? 

Veronica: Since this was my first record as a more mature young musician (compared to my first two... age nine and thirteen, I wanted to include a plethora of jazz styles. I included my favorite vocalese “Room 608/The Opener” (Horace Sivler/Jon Hendricks). I wanted to pay homage to my favorite Composer... Cole Porter, and had a number of his tunes on there. Also I wanted to honor one of my favorite singers- June Christy... and sing a couple numbers she liked to do, with my own flair. “Lonely Woman” (the title track) is probably the most intimate song and Emmet Cohen really sings on the keys on that number. 

Me: So, did you hand pick the band for the album?

Veronica: Yes, and these were cats I played with as a high school Veronica. Daryl and Matt especially have been there from the beginning. It was like having my family (and I didn't have my family on this record). 

Me: It's cool both your parents are on the album with you. Was that our idea? 

Veronica: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Me: Steph, your last album was "If I Ruled the World"? 

Stephanie: My last album was "Show Me the Way to Get Out of This World" recorded with a great pianist from Williamsburg, Harris Simon, Chris Bridge on bass and the wonderful Billy Williams on drums... it's a very good CD if I do say so myself.

Me: Are you working on another album?

Stephanie: No, busy producing for Veronica... she's going to record a funk CD in June. I'll do another when the spirit moves me. Right now i'm just trying to regain my footing after being caregiver for Hod for 1 1/2 years... helping him through cancer, touring, writing his book, seeing his old friends. My my turn now... I'll figure it out... when I do I'll tell you. I am working in Charlottesville with guitarist Randy Johnston who now lives there... he's great and is taking me in new directions.

Me: Do you have a lot of recordings that Hod did that weren't released?

Stephanie: Possibly... our friend Joop in Holland says he has some. That 1986 recording was one Hod loved and hoped it could be on CD... so I was helping to help him realize that dream before he died.

Me: Veronica, so you have a boyfriend? What does he think of your music?

Veronica: I don't date.

Me: So, what's next for you two?

Veronica: Well, I can’t speak for my mother, but at this time it is important that we sort of reset our professional clocks since so much of our career had centered around the family band. But I need to focus on my weekly gig at Birdland and start to think as a professional adult and merely survive. 

Stephanie: Kitano March 25th as Double Vision... can't wait with Tardo Hammer Trio... Paul Gill and Andy Watson.

Me: Veronica, did you do a lot of musical theater in the school?

Veronica: I didn't in high school, but in college it was very difficult to fit it in my schedule. I hope to take part in musical theater in my professional endeavors as well.

Me: What musicals did you do?

Veronica: I was in "Seussical," "West Side Story," "Beauty and the Beast," "Phantom of the Opera," "Avenue Q." As one of the few dancers in high school I was mainly cast in the featured dance roles. Never a singing role. HA! Can you believe that?

Me: Didn't you do "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"? Who did you play?

Veronica: I did take part in the annual "Rocky Horror Picture Show" shadow cast production, and I was cast as Dr. Frank N. Furter four years in a row. Man, how I will miss that! My claim to fame.

Me: I am so glad to have you both on the Phile. Will you both come back again soon?

Stephanie: Anytime.

Veronica: Of course, whenever you’ll have us! I’m sure that by next year, a LOT will transpire and that it would be interesting to document the change.

Me: Cool. Mention your website and anything else you want. All the best, continued success, you two. Don't ever stop singing!!!

Stephanie: Never!

Veronica: Besides jazz singing, I also write musicals and one particular one I will bring into my jazz show and record the songs form that. Keep a look out! You can see what I'm up to and where I’m playing and reserve tickets to my shows at and make sure to check out my Twitter VSwiftjazz, and Instagram @VeronicaSwift. It’s not in the cards to stop singing.

Me: Great! It's so great to have you both here, ladies.

Stephanie: Thank you, Jason. Hope some of your readers will come to Kitano to hear our mother-daughter act or check out other performances scheduled on websites and Veronica will be at Birdland in NYC every Saturday in April except the 15th at 6pm... come and hang and introduce yourselves to us. Ciao, keep swinging!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Veronica and Stephanie for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Monday with Phile Alum and author Jeremy Croston. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't 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, March 19, 2017

Pheaturing Neil Sheasby From Stone Foundation

Hey, everybody, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? If you just haven't spent enough time learning about Princess Diana. In a letter back to the Royal household while on her honeymoon, she wrote that "the honeymoon was a perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep," "The Telegraph" reports. The royals, they're just like us! She wrote the letter while aboard the Royal Yacht Brittania, which honestly sounds like a great place to get some z's in, as boats are very boring and there's not much to do on them except eat, sleep and do the pose from Titanic off the bow. And you gotta respect a woman who prioritizes getting those requisite eight hours of shut-eye in. That's self care at it's finest. As things unfortunately did not work out with Prince Charles (the two separated 11 years later in 1991, and then divorced in 1996), I'm glad she was at least looking after herself and getting some rest while on that godforsaken boat. The letter was addressed to her personal secretary, Jane Parsons, who I like to imagine was a close gal pal of the princess, and was one of 25 correspondences, all of which are auctioned set to be auctioned off next month in Gloucestershire. Other letters further enforce that Princess Diana was a lovely person. She wrote letters to "everyone in the office" thanking them for her 21st birthday present, as well as offering her sincere "gratitude at having such a wonderful collection of people looking after us." After she had her first baby, she wrote to the staff saying that she hoped they were not "exhausted, overworked and underpaid." What a gem. Hopefully more sweet anecdotes will be revealed as the letters are sifted through.
Love her or hate her, you've got to admit that there's never a dull moment with top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway. Whether she's talking about microwaves spying on you or fabricating events of mass violence, you can always count on her to be as unhinged and absurd as the man who hired her to get him elected. And it turns out that even a humanizing profile of Conway in "New York" this month doesn't skimp on the details of her enduring weirdness. In particular, people were fixated on an account of how she conducted herself at a fancy Washington, D.C. restaurant in the presence of the reporter writing about her. "Conway was definitely enjoying herself at Lupo Verde, an Italian restaurant on 14th and T, where she and Cypher found their way to a table I was sharing with a friend and sat down across from us. I’d invited Conway on a whim and didn’t expect her to show, so by the time she arrived with her entourage, the entrée we had ordered to share, a steak, was sitting on the table. Conway gestured to the plate and asked if she could have some. 'Sure,' we said, 'of course.' She then reached her hand across the table and, rather than the steak, picked up the roughly seven-inch-long decorative scallion resting on top. Then she tilted her head back and put it in her mouth, like a sword swallower on Coney Island or a snake eating a mouse. About ten minutes later she remarked that she thought it was a piece of asparagus." What in the world... how do you... why would she... WHAT? Maybe this is just because she hadn't had a full night's sleep in the past nine months. Maybe she'd never seen a vegetable before. Or maybe she's from a different planet. In any case, she's basically in charge of the country. Wheeee!
As if he could get any grosser, Paul Ryan discussed his fantasy about cutting Medicaid as if it were a lofty career aspiration at an event hosted by conservative magazine "National Review" on Friday, Vox reports."We’ve been dreaming of this since I’ve been around," Ryan said to the magazine's editor Rich Lowry, of the unbelievable opportunity they currently have for cutting a social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources." He then went on to further confirm just how much of a frat bro he was during college by clarifying with, "since you and I were drinking out of kegs." Wow, Paul Ryan drank out of kegs? Very cool. Very relatable. Not. I think if I overheard that conversation as I walked over to a keg during college I would have promptly screamed and left. Other things Paul Ryan has been trying to make cool since he was sipping out of solo cups include: the idea that social programs hurt people instead of helping them. In a 2014 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ryan warned his listeners of the dangers of social assistance programs, because it makes joblessness too comfortable. "The left thinks this is a good thing. They say, ‘hey, this is a new freedom... the freedom not to work.’” But they’re “making a big mistake here. What they're offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul." Sorry, Paul Ryan, but who are you to talk about empty souls? The American Health Care Act (that's TrumpCare) would make Medicaid cuts that cost 14 million people their healthcare coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It would also make the quality of healthcare offered by Medicaid worse, Vox adds, as it would limit the per capita spending on the millions that do rely on Medicaid. Just your daily reminder that very wealthy and self-interested people are currently running the country.
As a graduating triplet, you know you've got an opportunity to tell a story in your senior quote. And even though twins, and to a greater extent triplets, are genetic freaks who should scare everyone who encounters them, the Durham triplets are merely endearing. They used their senior quote to tell a knock knock joke. The Durhams are a decidedly benign trinity. They had every opportunity to write a coded political message. Something like, say, "Fight" "The" "Power." But not everyone's a yearbook activist. They just went with...

Really makes you wonder how you'd use this opportunity yourself, if you also had two genetic replicas to help you tell a parting story to the rest of the senior class. Maybe "I" "Like" "Turtles"... if your triumvirate was especially hilarious. On second thought, maybe the Durhams' joke was fine. So just appreciate the Durham triplets for their simple use of the quote section. They didn't aim for the moon and land in the stars, they just sorta aimed somewhere in the general vicinity of a tree and hit the branch. These kids are going somewhere average.
It's not just the intoxicating nostalgia that's got us thinking the 90s were way better than the twenty-teens (?). A new study shows that adults are having sex fewer times per year on average than we were 20 years ago, "The Guardian" reports. After surveying nearly 27,000 individuals, researchers found that adults "were having sex seven fewer times annually in the early 2010s compared to the early 1990s, and nine fewer times compared to the late 1990s." I want to unpack this for a moment, because what this means is that the late 90s were peak season for trips to Bone Town, USA. Yes, even though the early 90s were still better for sex than the 2010s, the late 90s were even better. Now, this is mere speculation, but is it possible that the dawning of Y2K made people wanna freak all the time because they figured they were all gonna die anyway? I am no scientists but I think I could be onto something. Now, if we are indeed having less sex, does that mean we're less horny, less attractive, or less social? Maybe. But is that so bad? "It is very possible that for young people this is a conscious life choice," said Ryne Sherman, co-author of the study from Florida Atlantic University. The study also noted that millennials use social media and online streaming more than previous generations, but if you're trying to tell me people would rather scroll through Instagram than screw, I'd say it sounds like you're comparing apples and oranges. That being said, millennials are getting married later, and the study pointed out that being single longer can lead to having less sex, and that those in committed relationships have sex more frequently. The study also offered up some expected though depressing news about the correlation between having sex and aging: "for each year after the age of 25, adults, on average, had sex 1.18 fewer times a year, corresponding to a fall from about 80 times a year for those in their mid twenties to about 20 times a year for those in their mid sixties." It's all downhill from here, folks!
Hey, so I just told you about the Durham's yearbook quote... well, it reminded me of another story. This is not a set of quadruplets, but they had the same opportunity as the Durham's.

So, once in awhile Disney... the greatest company to work for ever... changes their looks of their characters to keep up with the times. I kinda like the new look for Pocahontas, even though I don't think he real Indian princess looked like this.

President Trump has yet written a new executive order... I wonder what this one says.

Hey, that's a good one. So, I have been telling you that "The Washington Post" added a slogan to their masthead and it says, "Democracy Dies in Darkness." Well, the original masthead was supposed to be this...

I started off this entry talking about Princess Diana, which reminded me of this pic I saw of the Queen holding a product that I do. Not. Like. At. All.

One word: ugh! Everybody is so excited about that new movie Beauty and the Beast. I'd rather go see this movie...

Those crazy people at Fox. Hahaha. Well, as you may know, Rachel Maddow revealed Trump's 2005 tax returns the others day. If you don't see it, it looks like this...

Well, it kinda gets to the point. It's Sunday... I wish I had this album to listen to...

Hahahaha. Alright, so, as you know by now I live in Florida and there's some crazy shit that happens hear that happens nowhere else in the Universe. That's why I have this pheature called...

Well. Here's some nightmare fuel for you. Florida resident Monica Dorsett was going about her business recently, driving her car, probably listening to her favorite playlist, when all of a sudden a snake started to emerge from her car's air vents. Yes, a live snake. Monica's daughter Kristina posted photos of her mom's vehicle invader to Twitter. Her tweet quickly went viral. "I was on a four-lane highway and I all of a sudden see the snake coming out of the vent near my left hand," Monica told Buzzfeed News. "It took me a second to realize... that is real." Uh. What? WHERE DID IT COME FROM?! Monica exited the highway and pulled over to deal with the snake. She accidentally captured a video of herself fighting it off and posted it to Facebook. It's hard to tell what's really happening, but it sounds like she's totally keeping her composure. Or maybe not. WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO KEEP YOUR COMPOSURE? She ended up slamming the door on the snake, and her husband came to help her deal with the situation. The story had people on Twitter vowing never to drive again. Even Monica herself says she still feels on edge every time she gets in her car. “I’m not opening those vents for a long time,” she told Buzzfeed. Her daughter Kristina, who tweeted the photos like this one..

said the incident didn't shock her too much. "Florida is just weird, it would happen,” she told Buzzfeed. Can't argue there. Don't you think live snakes mysteriously appearing in people's air vents is taking it a little too far, Florida? Off you go.

Hahahahahaha. That's the stupidest Mindphuck I think I ever posted here. What the hell? It is funny though. But still. If you spot it, and if you don't you are blind, please let me know. Okay, so my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when we were kids and how much that show has changed now. So, once again, here is...

Ernie learns the hard way to not be late on drug money.

Chuck Berry 
October 18th, 1926 — March 18th, 2017
Johnny B. Dead.

The 58th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author will be the guest on the Phile next Monday.

Today's guest is a Phile Alum and bass player for a fantastic band from England called Stone Foundation whose new album "Street Rituals" comes out on CD on March 31st. Please welcome to the Phile... Neil Sheasby.

Me: Hey, Neil, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Neil: Okay. Thanks. Like most, I am looking forward to brighter times ahead.

Me: I have to say, Stone Foundation is one of my favorite bands I discovered since I started interviewing people on this blog 9 years ago. Your band is very unique and cool, and have come a long way since you guys formed. You must be very proud of the band, right?

Neil: I am proud of all we have achieved thus far and also what Stone Foundation seems to mean to people, there appears to be a genuine appreciation for what we do which is humbling and heartening. 

Me: You and the bands lead singer Neil Jones formed the band, am I right?

Neil: Correct, almost 20 years ago now, it’s been a long trip.

Me: Did you two know each other prior?

Neil: Only through being in different bands, Neil’s previous group supported mine at a gig in London and that’s how we first met up.

Me: How long has Stone Foundation been a band?

Neil: As I said, we formed the idea for the band and started writing songs together around 1997 but it took us several very long years to find a settled line up and one that could share our vision for our ideas.

Me: Neil, you play bass in the band. I don't know if I asked you this before but how did you chose that instrument?

Neil: Yes, I’m that rare breed that actually wanted to play bass!! I was a massive Jam fan and Bruce Foxton was an early influence, as kids (still at school) we started a band and everyone put their hand up for the cool instruments, bass was left and I didn’t mind giving it a crack...

Me: Do you remember what the first song you learnt was?

Neil: A guy who still to this day lives on the estate where I was bought up had a Rickenbacker bass (as I did too only difference was he could actually play his!), he was a punk kid called Cooky and he was good enough to take me under his wing and show me a few Jam bass lines, the first one I can remember mastering properly was “Start.”

Me: Last time you were here was in 2014 when "To Find a Spirit" came out. Since then you released "A Life Unlimited." I have no idea why I didn't have you on the Phile then. I apologize. Anyway, on that album there's a sing called "Beverley." I have to ask, who is Beverley?

Neil: Beverley is the title of a film produced by Cass Pennant. Cass approached us to do the theme title for the film, after reading the script we agreed and so the song is based around the movie, in particular it’s lead character “Beverley”... It was a welcome challenge for us to write that way, I enjoyed it.

Me: Ahhh. Neil, how has the band changed since the founded it until now? A few different members, right?

Neil: Yes, I think it’s inevitable with such a big line up that the personnel will change slightly over the years and different records require different moods, etc. In saying that the core members of the band... Myself, Neil, Phil Ford, Ian Arnold and Rob Newton have been together for quite a number of years now, it’s mainly been the horns that have changed, a bit like Time Lords we have to re-generate them every so often! These new boys seem fairly settled though so we are hoping to have a steady line up for the foreseeable future ahead.

Me: How many people are in the band now, Neil?

Neil: Eight in the live band.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your new album... first of I think it's so fucking cool that Paul Weller produced it and plays on the album. I have to show this pic of you and Paul in the studio...

Me: Was that a high thrill for you?

Neil: Absolutely, it’s kind of surreal to end up working and collaborating with someone who was the core reason you started a band in the first place. We soon got past that though, I think you have to in order for the sessions to work. We soon found a musical bond.

Me: Did you know Paul prior, Neil? I think you did as he is friends with another Phile Alum Mark Baxter who you also know.

Neil: Not really, not personally. Bax made that connection for us really, he’d been giving Paul our last couple of albums and obviously he thankfully liked them which lead to us working together.

Me: How did Paul get to be the producer of "Street Rituals"?

Neil: It wasn’t anything that was pre planned it just kind of worked out that way. Initially the sessions started because Paul approached us about finishing a song he had that was destined for another project but once he heard the results of what we did with it he invited us down to his studio to work on more ideas which before we knew it transcended into a complete album, I think he enjoyed the whole experience as much as we did, there was certainly a mutual respect and we really enjoyed the experience of creating new music together.

Me: Where was the album recorded, Neil?

Neil: Paul’s place, Black Barn Studios.

Me: Did you and the other band members write the songs on the album? I am guessing Paul contributed to some of the writing.

Neil: Paul co-wrote two songs with us ("The Limit of a Man" and "The Colour Of...) all the other songs myself and Neil Jones composed.

Me: Okay, I know you are a fan of Paul Weller... but I have to ask what do you prefer... The Jam, Style Council or his solo stuff? I think personally The Style Council is my favorite band he was in.

Neil: I love(d) them both in equal measures. I was lucky to see The Jam live a few times and I never missed a Style Council tour, I was a massive fan. If it wasn’t for The Jam I’m not sure I would have picked up an instrument or formed a band but I came to the Jam as a kid halfway through around 79’/ 1980 whereas I was with the Style Council from day one, they felt like my band!! I have amazing memories from both periods.

Me: Apart from Paul Weller, there's two more guests on the album... William Bell and Bette LaVette. I heard of William Bell but not LaVette. Tell the readers who these two are and how did they get to be a part of the album.

Neil: Well, both artists are soul/rhythm and blues legends, voices that we grew up in awe of and certainly not ones that we ever thought we would one day have singing on our records. William is synonymous with the great Stax Records label and Bettye cut records for Atlantic/Atco label recording many hits in the Muscle Shoals sound studio, they are both steeped in musical history. William just recently won a Grammy award. We just approached them via their respective managers, sent them the ideas we had for them to sing and thankfully they liked what they heard, understood what we were after and accepted our invitation to be part of the "Street Rituals" record.

Me: How long did it take for the album to be recorded, Neil?

Neil: Not that long to be honest, although we took a year to finish it, most of the songs were recorded over a few days at a time, in total it probably only took us 6 or 7 days to record the bulk of the songs, very fast. Most of what you hear is no more than 2 or 3 takes with the backline all playing live together then we recorded horns and strings separately.

Me: I love the cover of the album... where was it taken?

Neil: Thanks. Electric Avenue in Brixton.

Me: Brixton! My dad lived there when he was a kid. I have to tell you a story about Electric Avenue sometime. Was the camera man on top of a very tall ladder or a building?

Neil: A train bridge that looked down at the market.

Me: You guys are touring behind the album which is cool. I know you have done a lot of shows with Stone Foundation. Do you have a favorite?

Neil: Fuji Rock festival in Japan was fairly wild, It’s all there on YouTube, that was a very special gig. I always love playing in Scotland and London too, great audiences...

Me: Any plans on touring America?

Neil: We are trying to sort that situation out at the moment, hopefully soon.

Me: Neil, you're a dad of two boys, am I right? My dad as you know was a musician and when I was a kid I paid attention to his career and asked a lot of questions and loved Foghat's music... I still listen to his music now. Are your boys interested in your band and career?

Neil: I have three boys. Yes, they seem to appreciate what I do and are very proud of me, they all have a keen interest in music themselves, we all fight for stereo time in the house now days.

Me: I unfortunately have no musical skills but I play a mean kazoo... are the boys learning any instruments?

Neil: Lowell is a good drummer and he can sing too, he’s always singing actually. My eldest, Mason, was very involved in the drum and bass scene over here, he’s an MC but I think his tastes are mellowing now he’s in his twenties.

Me: By the way, on the next Stone Foundation album if you guys need a kazoo player... just saying. LOL.

Neil: I will bare it in mind.

Me: Okay, one of my favorite musicians of all time is Graham Parker... did I read he recorded with you guys? Or am I imagining that?

Neil: No, that’s correct, Graham featured on a tune called "The Night Teller" from our previous album "A Life Unlimited." Me and Neil are big fans so that was a buzz too and he is a lovely geezer too.

Me: I remember seeing this pic of you, Neil and Graham now...

Me: So fucking jealous. Doing this blog I get to once in awhile interview my favorite people, such as Graham Parker and Chas Hodges who will be on the Phile again real soon. Are you a fan of Chas & Dave?

Neil: I don’t actually know anyone who doesn’t like Chas & Dave... a national institution!

Me: Last time I interviewed Chas, which was a month ago or so, I mentioned Graham and he said he didn't know who he was. Do you think he was joking?

Neil: I’ve no idea, it’s possible I suppose.

Me: Next time I interview Chas what is something I should ask him, Neil?

Neil: Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers or Heads, Hands & Feet??

Me: Okay, cool. I'll write that down. Stone Foundation has been putting out a lot of music every few years, which I love. Are you guys already planning what's next?

Neil: Yes.

Me: Do you see Stone Foundation being around for a long time?

Neil: I can’t see why not, as long as we remain relevant and have an audience then we’ll keep on keepin’ on.  

Me: Neil, I always enjoy it when you are on the Phile. Go ahead and mention your website, sir.


Me: Will you come back when the next release comes out?

Neil: Of course, always a pleasure.

Me: Thanks again, and keep making great music. All the best!

Neil: Best wishes.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Neil Sheasby for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with jazz singer Veronica Swift and her mom who is a Phile Alum... Stephanie Nakasian. 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