Sunday, April 8, 2018

Pheaturing Robert Rodriguez

Hi, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? Here'd a fun story to start off with... Global airport security has gotten stricter in recent decades for good reason. However, the result of this sometimes causes innocent people to set off airport scares for fairly harmless mistakes. A grandma, Venkata Lakshmi, accidentally set off a massive scare at the Brisbane airport after she labeled her luggage "Bomb to Brisbane." Due to limited space, she wasn't able to fit her intended label of "Bombay to Brisbane," and those two extra letters made a whole world of difference. In her defense, the airport code for Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is "BOM" which given the climate of airport security, should be changed. People on the Internet immediately had Lakshmi's back. While some pointed out the fact that Bombay is now Mumbai, Lakshmi has lived there for decades and still considers the city Bombay, as do many. Lakshmi's daughter, Devi Jothiraj told Yahoo News how humiliating the experience was for her mother. "My mother told me they thought something was in there and people were panicking. They asked her to open the bag and asked her why it says bomb and she said 'It's for Bombay!" Luckily, after the initial confusion was cleared up, she was able to continue on her journey. And now, she has a whole portion of the Internet ready to defend her honor.
There is a lot of drama in the White House. Many have joked (through streams of desperate tears), that our current administration feels less like a political regime, and more like an installment of a nightmare reality show. While most of the drama in the White House feels pretty in your face, there are some subtler forms of shade going on in the Oval Office. Specifically, the bromance between Vice President Mike Pence and president Donald Trump has taken its fair share of rough patches. Given Trump's dominant position as president, and his tendency to word vomit insults, it's reasonable to wonder if Pence has a built-up resentment towards his coworker and bromantic partner. If you're firmly seated in the camp that believes there's a (not so) secret tension brewing, then Pence's recent Twitter activity may delight you. First, you'll need a bit of context for Twittergate. On Tuesday Trump tweeted his response to the YouTube shooting. "Was just briefed on the shooting at YouTube’s HQ in San Bruno, California. Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved. Thank you to our phenomenal Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders that are currently on the scene," Trump wrote. People had several responses to the president's tweet, one of which roasted Trump's idea to arm teachers as a solution to gun violence. "If only they had armed teachers at YouTube HQ," Logan Heer wrote. Business as usual so far, right?! Well, yes. That is, until Pence "liked" Heer's tweet roasting Trump. The Internet certainly took note of Pence's passive shade towards the president. "Liking" a tweet may seem small, but every hostility starts somewhere. Before we know it, Pence may even be mouthing FULL WORDS that are contrary to the president.
Most of us have at least one horror story of creepy childhood doll that stared into our souls and forever transformed sweet dreams into nightmares. While the aesthetics and branding of current day dolls might appear slightly different, the creepy factor is still very much alive and lurking in a toy store near you. Throughout the decades, Disney movies has inspired and spawned a whole racket of emotive dolls. So, it's only natural that the beloved Disney movie Moana has spurred a whole fleet of themed dolls. While most of them are as cute as the movie, the Internet is currently having a field day roasting a Moana doll that looks like she's been to hell and back. Here it is...

Is this the version of Moana that's deeply aware of all the havoc Trump is wreaking on the world?! Honestly, when it comes to struggle Moana, she doesn't fall into the realm of Creepy Dolls so much as the realm of the rest of us. She's just seen and lived too much, and that's a struggle most of us can get on board with.
Donald Trump's constant lust for his daughter Ivanka is just one of the many things that makes America's First Family a wholesome group with emulating. Huffington Post reporter Ashley Feinberg dug up an old interview with Donald Trump Jr. for more family fun that'll make you throw up in your mouth. Don Jr. compares his junk to his dad’s in nausea-inducing interview at the Playboy Mansion. In 2007, Don Jr. taped an interview at the Playboy Mansion for comedian Adam Carolla's live radio show, and topics range from his penis to his father's penis to what he wishes he could do with his own penis. Don Jr.'s soon-to-be-ex-wife Vanessa Trump was at home and pregnant, and for Jr., it was HELL to be surrounded by bunnies. "Can you believe the hell I’m going through? I’m at the Playboy Mansion with a pregnant wife! It doesn’t get worse than that, does it?" He said. "Now, I love my wife, but that is rough. And I’m going to pay for these statements later on tonight. I’m gonna pay." Pay he did... but not until eleven years later. Don Jr. and Carolla riffed about the fact that his wife and his father's wife are only "five or six" years apart in age. Asked if he was attracted to his stepmom, he answered, "I think she’s a very lovely lady." Much like it did at a presidential debate, the topic of Donald Trump Sr.'s penis size came up. "I got one question, Donald Jr.: When you and your pops are in the shower, who’s got the bigger package? You know what I’m saying," Carolla asked. Don Jr. answered, "You know, and I will get fired for this, but I’m never going to say that I don’t. I will get fired for that. By the way, they’re both pretty substantial I think." Wait... is there a clause in his contract with his father that One Shalt Not Publicly Criticize the Presidential Penis? You know what that means. Read more of the highlights and try not to gag over at The Huffington Post. But finish reading the Phile first.
Welp... the judger has become the judgee. Robert Cicale, a Republican district court judge in Suffolk County, New York, was charged with burglary after he was caught sneaking into a 23-year-old woman's home across the street to steal her panties. The woman was said to be home when Judge Cicale broke in to the house to pillage her panty drawer and/or laundry basket. No, he didn't have a search warrant. According to ABC7, the young underwear wearer lives with her parents, but was the only one home. She ran out of the house and called her mom, who then called the police. "She heard a noise in the house. She saw a male intruder. 911 was called," Acting Suffolk County Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron said. She described the burglar to the cops, who then arrested the judge two blocks away. "Mr. Cicale was found in possession of soiled female undergarments that we believe to be proceeds from the burglary that occurred this morning or a prior burglary at that location," Cameron added. I'm sure there's a perfectly normal, definitely non-perverted reason for this, Your Honor.
So, if I had a TARDIS I would like to see that the Titanic look like but knowing my luck I'll just end up as one of the survivors boarding the Carpathia.

So, remember that Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? If you stop the scene right when the prince is gonna kiss her you might notice something. I will show it you here...

Hahahaha. I have never been arrested but if I ever do I hope I'm not wearing this t-shirt...

Some people sure get some weird tattoos... I like Michael Jackson as well but this is weird...

Hey, parents, are your kids this clever in school?

So, if there is a God some people stray too far from his light...

Shrug. Here's another sign from the March for Our Lives march...

I like that one. So, do you know what's best? I will tell you...

The average person produces about half a liter of farts every single day, and even though many women won't admit it, women do fart just as often as men. In fact, a study has proven that when men and women eat the exact same food, woman tend to have even more concentrated gas than men. If a person were to fart continuously for 6 years and 9 months, they would produce gas with the equivalent energy of an atomic bomb.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. It's time again for...

Mike Pence shows Barron Trump the island he relocated all the gays to.

Hey, here's that really popular new pheature again that people said was bullshit. Haha.

Turtles can breathe through their butts and pee through their mouths.

Donald Trump was slated to speak in West Virginia about tax reform, but he threw that plan out the window. Literally. He took the piece of paper that had his notes on it ("I hear you"?) and threw it because it's boring. He tells it like it is! No longer limited by the tyranny of having to stay on topic, Trump decided to play the hits... namely, calling immigrants rapists. Yes, the President of the United States seemed to reiterate his famous claim that Mexicans are rapists, and was particularly proud of himself for using the R-word. It is not clear who the "they" in this statement are. Trump does, however, appear to be referring to the caravan of asylum seekers and migrants heading to the U.S. border from Honduras. Adolfo Flores, a reporter traveling with the caravan, says that there is no evidence to support Trump's claim of mass rape. Could it be that the president is making an incendiary claim about people seeking humanitarian relief to stoke up fear or to justify his announcement that he's deploying the National Guard to the border? Is it ironic that he's accusing people of rape when he, himself, has been accused of rape and bragged about serial assault? Van Jones's face says it all.

Once again, congratulations on a great tax reform event!

Still trying to get Shania on the Phile. I'll think I'll run this campaign to the Phile's break in the beginning of May. Hopefully I'll hear from her people before that. Fingers and toes crossed.

The Masters
The Masters is one of the four major championships of watch and retirement account advertising.

Susan Anspach 
November 23rd, 1942 — April 2nd, 2018
Everyone remembers Five Easy Pieces, but what about The Last Giraffe? What was wrong with that?

Winnie Mandela
September 26th, 1936 — April 2nd, 2018
Nelson Mandela managed to make it through 27 years in prison, but could only handle 2 years married to Winnie once he was out. Not sure what all that means, but it can't be good.

Today's pheatured guest is a pop culture historian who has written or contributed to nine books. His book "Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock 'n' Roll" is the 78th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Robert Rodriguez.

Me: Hi, Robert, welcome to the Phile. How are you doing, sir?

Robert: I'm good. Thank you, Jason, for having me.

Me: Your book "Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock 'n' Roll" is the 78th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. You have written quite a few books about the Beatles, but what made you decide to write a book about the album "Revolver"?

Robert: Well, it was really having done two books prior... one "The Fab Four FAQ" covering their teen years to their break-up and then "Fab Four FAQ 2.0" which covered the break-up to the death of John Lennon. There's a lot of time and an epic beginning and ending and trying to encompass their entire story and everything in there. I thought it would be a challenge on focusing on a single aspect of their career and tell the story through the prism of one album which took them from being the cuddly mop tops that were considered highly successful and a personality driven pop act and where they changed the rock and roll paradox of what pop acts could be. Transitioning from being a live act to a studio record act.

Me: Why did they stop performing live, Robert?

Robert: They decided they had enough of the road and the future of them as artists was in the studio.

Me: That was when "Revolver" came out, right?

Robert: The gateway to that was "Revolver." They felt that in general public consensus was that "Sgt. Pepper" was the pinnacle of the Beatles achievement but really more knowledgeable critics and fans look at that that it's not really a Beatles album, but a Paul McCartney and George Martin driven project, with the others just going on for the ride. Presentation as stellar, and was an event when it hit the streets in 1967 on the eve of the Summer of Love. Musically as a leap forward what come before it you have to keep going back to "Revolver" that really changed everything.

Me: When you did research for the book what is the one thing you focused on, Robert?

Robert: The attention and its artistry warranted.

Me: Okay. Okay, so, why the sudden change with the Beatles after the '65 concert in Shea Stadium, Robert?

Robert: Well, they reached as far they could take that particular avenue whah basically was being the beat group, playing sets that didn't have a great deal advance of what they've been doing at the Cavern in 1963... playing rock and roll standards and playing their basic listener hits at the time which were a bit old by the time they were cranking them out. It got tiresome for them to be put into a situation that had so little to do with music. Here they were going out on the road and by popular demand they were forced to play stadiums for the first time like Shea Stadium, which opened the 1965 tour of America, they played in front of 65,000 people. To accommodate the demand they did two shows. They were in venues that were not set up to facilitate performing music. They couldn't hear each other and the fans couldn't hear them, and it became like the Emperor has no clothes... they wondered what they were doing there at these events which had nothing to do with music, and everything to do with spectacle and extra music activities. It was more about giving fans the opportunity to scream at them for a half an hour or less. They began to see that grind was hindering their artistry.

 Me: So, what about "Rubber Soul"? That was a different kinda album for them, right?

Robert: Post "Help," that was their current album they went into the studio and made "Rubber Soul," and that was really as songwriters when they became post adolescence in their themes. We had John Lennon at age 25 singing "In My Life," about nostalgia revery and "Girl," and "Norwegian Wood," and "Nowhere Man." This was stuff that was different than the mop top stuff that won over fans in the first place. So, they were getting a little more serious about their art. Especially John and George when they were recognizing Beatles records and Beatles music needed to be not just AM fodder, they could actually be a vehicle for self expression. Paul was the tunesmith that was happy to swing for the fences and write standards, that was fine, but collectively they decoded what if they put down on tape in the studio stuff they didn't have to necessary have to pull off live. So, with the "Rubber Soul" album you had them adding sitar, for that nice bit exotic embellishment on "Norwegian Wood." They were using whatever tools were at their disposal that fulfilled the requirement of the song, not necessarily thinking what they can pull off on stage. Two guitars, bass, drums, maybe a keyboard, what could they do beyond that.

Me: The British LP and the American LP were different, Robert. Why and what was the difference? 

Robert: On the LP in England the song "Yesterday" appeared, which of course was just Paul with an acoustic guitar backed by a string quartet. This was because George Martin, who listened to the tune that Paul brought in and thought no, this really needed a different setting than drum tracks and electric guitars to really get it across. The Beatles kind of were skeptical, Paul in particular saying he didn't want to sound like Mantovani, who was an artist at the time known for his schmaltzy sentimental stuff. So they didn't want it to be put out in England as a single but where they had less control in America Capitol did put it out in 1965 and it went to number one. The lesson learned for them was made the public would be more accepting with the sound they don't normally associate with their Beatles music. That opened the floodgates with at first "Rubber Soul," where "In My Life" had that harpsichord piano, there's a lot more use with organ on that album and other instruments that hadn't really done a lot with.

Me: So, what happened when "Rubber Soul" was released? What did the public say? To me that was the beginning of the Beatles I liked.

Robert: The public thought wow, the Beatles are maturing as artists whereas their own ambitions were further fueled by the competition they were feeling with Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, who at that time was very much using the studio as a tool. He was sort of a Phil Spector disciple, using the Wrecking Crew in L.A. who were session musicians, to put out these fantastic ornate backings to the Beach Boys recordings. Of course he made "Pet Sounds" which was a direct response to "Rubber Soul."

Me: Do you think the Beatles were influenced by other bands?

Robert: The Beatles took cues from Brian Wilson, took cues from Dylan with songwriting. They were taking cues from the Byrds, who in 1966 put out the single "Eight Miles High." That was a direct impression of David Crosby wanting to infuse their sound beyond folk rock, bringing improvisational aspect with a John Coltrane sax solo. The exoticism from Ravi Shankar who he was also a big fan of, who also directly introduced George Harrison with when they crossed paths in '65 when the Beatles were on tour in America, they sat him down and played Ravi Shankar records. All this stuff was going on, they put out "Eight Miles High" that was crafted for top forty radio, that had these improvisational passages in it. It went to number 14 but would probably have done better of it wasn't banned from airplay by radio stations because it had the word "high" in the title.

Me: So, what were they thinking do you think or know when they went in and recorded "Revolver"? 

Robert: When they went in to record "Revolver" in 1966, they were ready to raise their game significantly from the last time out.

Me: At this time they were using mind altering drugs as we know. How did that influence their work, apart from the obvious? Haha.

Robert: It was John and George initially that got the first acid trip in the Beatles, and that was not something they entered into freely, they've been liked by their dentist during an evening out. They took that trip and entered into something they weren't mentally prepared for to maybe throw them off or alienate them and push them away. They were open minded about what they saw as possibilities, to tapping that subconscious mind. If LSD was the gateway into reaching that what they could do with their creativity. It's not a coincidence that Brian Wilson took his first acid trip at the same time in the spring 1965. He later said he wrote the production of "California Girls" under the influence of the drug which was a big of a departure. The Beatles didn't take their second trip, at least John and George didn't until L.A. in 1965 when they were on tour with the Byrds and Peter Fonda. The direct impression of that trip came out with "He Said/She Said" from "Revolver" where John took the line from Peter Fonda... "I know what it's like to be dead," which he literally meant because he had been in a gun shot accident when he was 10-years-old that nearly killed him. He was actually trying to talk George through his anxiety in that second trip. They came away from the LSD experience with there was a lot more to life's purpose beyond the material world. John picked up the book by Timothy Leary, "The Psychedelic Experience," which was based on the Tibetan book of the dead, and Leary repurposed it to the death of the ego when you're taking an acid trip. It was a users manual on how to avoid bad trips. John buys that book and within a week wrote "Tomorrow Never Knows." There he was being pretty avert, not necessarily telling everybody how to see but turn your mind, relax, slow down stream to what mechanism will make you achieve that point. John would say "Rubber Soul" was the pot album and "Revolver" was the acid album. It certainly comes through the songwriting and perhaps their approach to recording. For the first time they were putting on tape sounds that nobody ever heard before, but they were hearing in their own heads.

Me: I took acid once in the early 90s, and I was laying on the floor with my arms and legs spread out, and it felt like the room was spinning around me... clock wise... if that makes sense. Hahaha. In the book you talk about hanging from the ceiling... tell the readers what that is about. It's pretty funny. 

Robert: Yeah, John wrote "Tomorrow Never Knows," and he has this vision of wanting to sound like the Dalai Lama on top of Tibet singing from far away. George Martin got what John was trying to convey, a very strong visual. John's suggestion was why don't they hang him by a rope from the ceiling and they could push him back and forth and catch him by the mike and that would get that sound of distance. Of course they didn't try that but it shows that they were completely abandoning by everything that they knew about record making at that point and go in uncharted waters. It was a tremendous gamble that paid off.

Me: When "Revolver" first came out what was the public's perception of it?

Robert: Well, when it hit you have to recognize that this was such a big departure from even "Rubber Soul," which was the tentative foray into crafting a studio bound release. Much of that album could've been reproduced on stage, songs they actually did play, the more guitar based ones. But with "Revolver," the very first song they record "Tomorrow Never Knows," with electronica pieces, tape loops, special effects and not a whole lot of chord changes, it was a very different record than anything they ever done before. You got that on the album and the Indian suite of "Love You Too," and "Eleanor Rigby," and this lovely song sung by Ringo... "Yellow Submarine," not a lot that was on there was very conventional. Nearly all of it was very adult, like "Taxman" and "For No One," this really haunting break up song, ""Doctor Robert," while that was not on in America but it was very market maturity. There was no "I Want to Hold Your Hand" type songs on "Revolver." There was some very odd, semi-experimental work coming out, same time their message they were bigger than Jesus quote, and the response was muted. Certainly because it was Beatle product it did reach number 1, maybe not as long as some of their other works had, but it only came out six weeks after that thrown together U.S. only "Yesterday & Today" album. It had it's own problems when it came out with the pop art cover that had the Beatles in butcher smocks with baby doll parts and slabs of meat. So, it was definitely the year of the Beatles when they stopped being cute as Bob Dylan put it. With the public, they certainly had their millions of fans but they must of been bewildered by what was going on with these guys.

Me: You mentioned "Eleanor Rigby," one of my favorite Beatles songs. I read or heard somewhere she was a real person. Was she?

Robert: She's buried at St. Peters church cemetery, at the very church cemetery where John and Paul met in '57, when John was playing with the Quarrymen. Now, Paul had gone on defense through the years explaining the inspiration for the name. Originally he came up with when he had the lick in his head Ola Na Tungee, which I talk about in the book, then he changed it to Miss Daisy Hawkins. He thought that sounded so contrived, something out of a bad novel. He wanted something that sounded more authentic, and that's when he came up with the name Eleanor Bron, the actress in Help! and Rigby was from an alcohol distributor that happened to be outside the theater where Jane Asher, his girlfriend was doing some stage work. He said that's how he put the name together. It wasn't unto the 1980s or so someone uncovered the monument in St. Peter's cemetery Eleanor Rigby who died October 10th, 1939. Like nearly a year before John Lennon was born, and surely subconsciously at least, whenever they laid eyes on the grave marker they might've registered foe safekeeping in their conscious, the same way George Harrison wrote "My Sweet Lord," knowing the chords to "He's So Fine" worked just fine. You can't understand where inspiration comes from but he always denied there was a gravestone there with her name on it.

Me: In 1967 when "Sgt. Pepper" came out George Harrison said something like, "suddenly we find all the people thought they were beyond the Beatles are fans." Robert, what the hell did he mean by that comment?

Robert: I think that there were certain segments of the fan base, not really the screaming girls that would lap up anything Beatles, more the people that have come of age at the same time the Beatles had made the transition from "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to "Strawberry Fields," were now in high school and were looking at that teenage thing that was beneath them and getting more into stuff like Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, or Frank Zappa, something like that. When "Sgt. Pepper" arrives and being embraced by the establishment media as the face of counter-culture. Here are the Beatles, now they are grown up and have mustaches, now they are using an entire LP as their template, not just cranking out a collection of hit singles. It was something that could not be ignored as very consciously crafted to be a piece of art. I think what George meant was there were people that were too cool because the Beatles weren't art to that point, but were now like wow, I guess we have to give them props, because now look, they're doing mysterious stuff now.

Me: Robert, I could talk about the Beatles all day with you. I know you have to go. Thanks so much for being on the Phile.

Robert: Thank you, I love talking about this and I had a great time.

Me: Well, come back on the Phile again sometime. Take care, Robert.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Robert for a great interview. The Phile will be back tomorrow with actress and singer Margot Bingham. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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