Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pheaturing Felix Silla

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Sunday, how are you doing? Well, unless you've been hiding under an Internet free rock (at which point I'd ask how you're reading this), then you've likely heard the news: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are now officially married. The two disgustingly cute love birds tied the knot at Windsor Castle, where they were surrounded by a throng of well-dressed A-listers. Of course, the world tuned in and wept for the whole elegant fairytale come to life. While most of the buzz around the royal wedding has been of the positive or joking nature, it wouldn't be a truly festive event on the Internet if it wasn't used to make fun of Donald Trump. Whoever is running the Twitter at BBC was feeling sassy enough to post a side-by-side comparing the crowd at Trump's inauguration to the royal wedding crowd.

Needless to say, the joke makes itself. Dare I say, this tweet is the PERFECT MARRIAGE (drum rolls, please) of teasing Trump and celebrating love?! I'll see myself out now. Haha.
Regardless of how amicably you ended a relationship, showing up at any function for an ex can be a deeply awkward experience. This awkwardness is likely multiplied when your ex is a royal and his new wife is an American actress that everyone is obsessed with. So, when Chelsy Davy, Prince Harry's ex-girlfriend from 2004-2011 rolled into the wedding, it's hardly unsurprisingly that she didn't look brimming with enthusiasm. For those unacquainted... aka those who don't pore over Prince Harry's love life, Davy is a millionaire from Zimbabwe who met Harry back when she was studying law. The two had an on-again off-again relationship for seven years, and eventually they called it quits amicably. Prince Harry and Davy still consider each other friends, and one of his other notable exes Cressida Bonas was also present at the wedding. Nonetheless, Davy looked like she was dressed for a funeral. A lot of the Internet had empathy for Davy's position. But honestly, can any of us say we'd look any different at our first love's wedding? Even when you've moved on, that kind of attachment doesn't disappear into nothing, and being televised only magnifies it all.
Starbucks has done it again! I know it's getting hard to keep up with all the times something racist is said or done at a Starbucks, but here's another one. This time it has to do with them including a slur on the coffee order of a Hispanic customer. The customer, Pedro, spoke to a CBS affiliate through his friend Miguel Acosta. Acosta explains, “He went to Starbucks, and they asked for his name, and his name is ‘Peter,’ and they wrote this ‘beaner.'" WOW. Acosta added, “Mi amigo está triste también,” said Acosta. “My friend is also sad.” On Wednesday, Starbucks issued an apology (what seems like it's millionth this year) for this particular incident. "This is not indicative of the type of experience we want our customers to have when they walk into our stores. We have apologized to the customer directly and are working to make things right." This incident came just one month after a black man at another Los Angeles Starbucks was denied use of the bathroom, while a white customer was given access no problem. Then there were the two young black men arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia because they didn't order anything while waiting for someone to show up. Starbucks is set to undergo company-wide racial bias training in two weeks. It really could not come soon enough.
Racist Lawyer Aaron Schlossberg got Internet justice in record time on Wednesday. At lunch, he decided to attack two women for speaking Spanish to each other, threatening to call ICE, and by dinnertime, his name was trending nationwide on Twitter and his law practice's Yelp page hilariously trolled. On Thursday, around lunchtime, reporters tried to catch up with him and see if he still stands behind his statements. Racist Lawyer Aaron Schlossberg ultimately decided to hide under his umbrella up against the wall and appeared to be calling for reinforcements, insisting that he had been accosted. "They're yelling, they're claiming things that aren't true," Schlossberg cried into his phone, cowering behind is big umbrella. "They're grabbing my personal items. Defaming me. I can't even move, because they're blocking me." "You are free to go!" one of the reporters yelled. "We don't have that sort of authority whatsoever... Nobody's within even three feet of you." The irony is frickin' delicious. It turns out that Racist Lawyer Aaron Schlossberg doesn't appreciate being yelled at or grilled about his identity. Reporter Andrew Ramos caught up with him later at a courthouse, and he was considerably more calm. It turns out that being a bigot could have consequences... other than getting elected president. Congressman Adriano Espaillat filed a formal complaint against him, insisting that Schlossberg's "audacity to profile and verbally assault innocent bystanders and customers in a public commercial location is a violation of our civil society." Adiós amigo.
In our era of alternative facts and fake news, it can't help but feel like the deeply divided sides in America are not operating within the same reality. Another pair of candidates are tearing the nation apart, and their names are Yanny and Laurel. YouTuber Cloe Feldman posted on Twitter an audio clip that to me 100% sounds like "Laurel," but apparently some people hear "Yannyl"? We've got ourselves an auditory edition of the notorious DRESS, people! Is it blue and black or white and gold?      According to one wise Twitter commenter (not an oxy moron), it's all about that bass. Redditor Eike_Peace theorizes that the clip is "two different wavelengths and words that blend perfectly but your brain only detects one at a time." Here's how you can access how the other half lives... Turn the volume down. It has to do with the bass frequencies not being perceived as loud at lower volumes. If you turn the volume very low, there will be practically no bass and you will hear Yanny. Turn the volume up and play it on some speakers that have actual bass response (aka not your phone) and you will hear Laurel. What did you hear? And by the way, if you hear "Yanny," you're wrong.
You know, if I had a TARDIS I would go to the early days of Hollywood. Knowing my luck I'll end up seeing some cameramen shooting and recording the lion roar for the MGM logo.

Over the years people have made fun of my name calling me "pervert" instead of "Peverett." Well, some people have lot worst luck with their names than I do.

I've never been arrested but if I was I hope if I ever do I'm not wearing a t-shirt like this...

Did you ever read those Nancy Drew books? There's one in the series that I'm not so sure about...

Hahaha. Do you know Atticus Shaffer from the TV show "The Middle"? This is him now...

Ha. That's not stupid... I apologize, that was so lame. Do you have bad luck? I hope you don't have this kinda bad luck...

What a mess. If you're thinking of cheating on your loved ones you might wanna think twice after seeing this...

Damn. You heard about the Avengers, right? Well, what about the Revengers? There's a set of action figures for these guys just in case you didn't know. Here's one of them...

I like Regular Raccoon. Speaking of the Avengers, when Thanos snapped his fingers in Infinity War he affected more than just the MCU people.

Awe. They tell me at Walmart I would see some odd sights, but I never believed it. Until I saw this...

Nope. That wasn't me. In the last entry I told you about the website, right? Well, some students are really rough and honest when it comes to rating their professors.

Yeesh. Well, because of the royal wedding there are lots of souvenirs you could buy... and some of them I'm not quite sure about. Like The Hairy Harry bathing suit.

Beware of the heir's hair down there. Hahahahaha. I crack myself up sometimes. Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Overheard At The Royal Wedding
5. At this point Harry and Meghan should just fuck all this off and elope. Go to Vegas, get married by Elvis and just post a picture of them shit faced in a Taco Bell with "fuck the Daily Mail" written in mayo on the table.
4. Remember, it’s illegal to sleep on the streets of Windsor if you’re homeless, but absolutely fine if you do it wrapped in a flag.
3. This is amazing. People hear completely different things when they listen to talk about Harry and Meghan’s wedding. What do you hear? Ninety-four percent Yawny six percent Royal.
2. Really hoping Diana’s ghost trips Camilla.
And the number one thing overheard at the royal wedding...
1. This royal wedding really demonstrates how one day you can just be a normal, regular, everyday stunning actress on a hit TV show and the next, you're a princess.

Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, I didn't really get to see the royal wedding as I was working, but I wondered if a friend of the Phile got to see it. Also I wondered what he heard.., Laurel or Yanny. Hmmm. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is.

Good morning, humans. Yanny... Laurel.. Who fucking CARES? You're all retarded. Brief list of things I care more about than the royal wedding... Restoring a 1972 AMC Gremlin. Kajagoogoo reuniting for a world tour. Any movie starring Rob Schneider. Ben Affleck running for office. A remake of Steel Magnolias with an all midget cast. Jimmy Kimmel. The fact that the Blowfish didn’t keep it together after Hootie left. Anything with kale in it. Now, sod off.

Ha. I think I get that. And now for some sad news...

Joseph Campanella 
November 21st, 1924 — May 16th, 2018
He had 7 kids... all boys... and lived to be 93. If you figure out how he pulled that off, let me know. 

Tom Wolfe 
March 2nd, 1931 — May 14th, 2018
He wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and The Right Stuff, which are really all just stories about a bunch of crazy people.

The 80th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author Shelly Ambrose will be on the Phile tomorrow. Now for some...

Phact 1. The second American in space, Gus Grissom, suffered from severe hay fever and was nearly disqualified from the Astronaut Corps until it was discovered that pollen is nonexistent in space.

Phact 2. The University of Oregon’s “O” hand sign is equivalent in American Sign Language to screaming “Vagina."

Phact 3. Twenty-years-ago, someone impaled a 60 pound pumpkin on the top of a spire at Cornell University in the middle of the night. It was over 170 feet off the ground. To this day, no one is really sure how this was accomplished without anyone noticing.

Phact 4. Jupiters Giant Red Spot is expected to disappear within the next 10 to 20 years despite lasting for an estimated 400 years so far.

Phact 5. Saddam Hussein commissioned a calligrapher to write a copy of the Quran using his blood as ink. The 605-page book contains roughly 27 liters of his blood and is kept in a mosque in Iraq behind 3 vault doors.

Today's pheatured guest is an Italian-born American film and television actor and stuntman, known for his role as the costumed character of Cousin Itt on television's "The Addams Family," as well as other costumed roles. Please welcome to the Phile... Felix Silla.

Me: Hello, Felix, welcome to the Phile. How are you, sir?

Felix: I'm good. You're welcome.

Me: So, I have a small disclaimer... I met you at the MegaCon convention years ago and you were smoking a cigarette inside and I approached you and said to you, "You can't smoke here, we are inside." You replied, "Fuck off." Do you remember that?

Felix: No, I don't. I believe you though, I would of said that to you if you approached me. It was none of your business.

Me: You're right, but still... Where are you from, sir?

Felix: Roccacasale, L'Aquila in Italy.

Me: So, how and when did you first come to America?

Felix: When I came from Italy in 1955 I arrived here in November the 24th, I think it was the day before Thanksgiving and it was cold in New York. We came here on a big ship, we left Naples, and arrived in New York fourteen days later. It was a terrible voyage. In April I told my brother that was already in New York, "Mike, I want to go back home. I don't like it here. It's cold and I don't understand what you guys are talking about." I didn't speak a word of English.

Me: Okay, you are mostly known as Cousin Itt from "The Addams Family," but you started out in the circus. How did you get from being in a circus to being on TV?

Felix: Around April my brother took me to see Ringing Brothers Circus, they were playing at Madison Square Garden. I got a job with them and I traveled with the circus for about 6 or 7 years, not only with Ringling Brothers, but different circuses. In 1962 we were playing in Los Angeles, California I decided I had enough circus and thought I'm going to stay in California and I went to work with a family that used to do publicity when the circus came to town.

Me: What was the first acting gig you did, and how did you get it?

Felix: A friend of my boss he worked at MGM Studio and they were looking for some little people to do stunt work and I got picked to do stunt work for the movie.

Me: Felix, are you still acting now?

Felix: No. I started out in 1962 and I retired in 1995 and I make a living doing conventions.

Me: So, what was the audition process like for Cousin Itt? Anybody could of put on that long hair and bowler hat and moved about.

Felix: Actually the audition wasn't really that much. My agent sent me to the office there right on Santa Monica Blvd. I can't remember the name of the studio, but anyway, he sent me over to one of the offices in the evening about 6 o'clock. I went into the studio and there were two couple of guys talking to each other. I came in and they looked at me, they looked at each other, they said, "That's it. You got the job." Come back on Monday and you start working. They didn't tell me hardly anything of what was supposed to be going on on Monday. I arrived on Monday at 8 o'clock in the morning, they put the wig on my head and a pair of sunglasses and a derby and I was Cousin Itt.

Me: I have to show a pic of Cousin Itt just in case I have one or two readers who don't know who that is...

Me: So, what was it like being Cousin Itt? Did you know what Itt was?

Felix: The director told me, "Don't do anything, just walk natural." He didn't say of we were recording the dialogue or what. I didn't do any talking, I just did the movement and reacted with the other actors. Then 30 years later I met the gentlemen that did my voice.

Me: You didn't do the voice?

Felix: No, no, I didn't do the voice. I think what it was was a prerecorded speech and that's what they did, they speed it up, or whatever. I don't know. Thirty years later I met the man who did my voice and he says, "My name is Tony and I did your voice." He used to work at a sound department.

Me: I was going through YouTube looking at some "Addams Family" clips and one made me laugh. You had marbles in your mouth and spoke in a very refined voice. Do you remember that?

Felix: Yeah, yes I do. Yes, I do! Caroline Jones was teaching me, we were doing acting like "rain in Spain falls mostly on the plane," or whatever.

Me: Did you have fun on that show, Felix?

Felix: Yeah, I had a lot of fun on that show. "The Addams Family" was a family. To me it felt like a real family. I felt like when I went to work I went home to my mother, my father, my cousin, or whatever they were. It felt like a family. We really got along, and were nice to each other. The director was really nice.

Me: What is your favorite story about any of the other people on the show, Felix?

Felix: Jackie Coogan used to fall asleep a lot. When he was not involved in a scene he just sat in his director chair and all of a sudden we'd hear snoring. He ruined so many takes. While we were filming he was like 30 feet from the set and was snoring away. He just sat on the chair and fell asleep. The director kept telling him, "Come on, Jackie, go to your room. Go to your dressing room and we'll call you when we need you." He would've snored all day off he wasn't involved in a scene.

Me: Haha. Guess it was hard work playing Uncle Fester. What's this I read that they had to give you a synthetic costume in case you catch on fire?

Felix: Yeah, yes, sir. What it was when we started out they used real human hair for the costume. Not only was it real flammable but it was heavy. I used to put it on and about 10 minutes later I couldn't keep it any longer. It was heavy and so hot. As soon as I put it on I would drip like I just came out of the shower. So, what they did was they decided to use a synthetic material because when we filmed some of the crew liked to smoke. They were involved but were eon the other side of the camera. They were just sitting there, smoking a cigarette and then decided to go get a cup of coffee on the other side of the stage about a 100 feet away. But when they walked away they walked towards the coffee and having a cigarette. They would drop ashes on the floor and step on it but sometimes they would miss it. The director would say, "Can you imagine if Felix walked by?" I was like a broom, every time I got up I would sweep the floor. Can you imagine if the guy that flew the cigarette on the floor, stepped on it and missed it, and I walked by? I would go up in flames. That's why they decided to come up with synthetic material which was a lot better, lot lighter, not very heavy and I could keep it on longer.

Me: I didn't know this but Cousin Itt wasn't in the TV show originally, right?

Felix: Cousin Itt was brought into the TV show by one of the producers, David Levy. He was the one that got the idea to being another character on the show. Cousin Itt was never a Charles Addams cartoon.

Me: Ahhh. Did you ever meet Charles Addams?

Felix: No, he came over one time but I wasn't lucky enough to meet him because I came into "The Addams Family" with number 17 or 18 episode. They already started producing the show. I came in later on when the producers decided to bring another character into the show.

Me: Felix, you also played Twiki in the Buck Rogers TV show and an Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Do you think it's cool you played so many different iconic characters?

Felix: You know what? When I go to conventions the fans come to my table, look at my photo and say, "Oh my God, were you Cousin Itt? Were you Twiki? Did you do this?" I'd say, "Yes, I am." My photos were right there and they couldn't believe it. I'm talking about the older generation, that are old enough to remember. The younger generation kind of don't know but some of the family come to the table and say, "This is what Felix did 40 years ago. He played this character." A lot of people teach their own kids to watch the old shows. You know, the good old days are gone. We no longer going to have them because the 60s and the 70s, even the 80s, they were good old days. We had lot of fun working. It was a lot of work, we didn't get paid a lot of money. No way. According to what the price of living was it was okay, we got along. So, like I said, when they come to my table I can't believe some of these people's faces when they see who was inside the costume.

Me: And some people come up and scold you for smoking inside. Okay, so, Phile readers know I'm a huge Star Wars fan so I have to ask what was it like working on Return of the Jedi, Felix? Were you a Star Wars fan?

Felix: Well, I don't remember anything because I don't really watch any other shows but when I got to work on Return of the Jedi I had lots and lots of fun.

Me: How did you get to be in Jedi?

Felix: The way it came I was working on a movie called Poltergeist, I was dubbing for a little kid. The stunt coordinator told me and said, "Felix, I have something coming, a big project, and I need for you to help me find a bunch of little people to work with me. Little people that do stunts. I know a lot of little people in California but he wanted quite a few more. Anyway, he new the name of the project, it was top secret because Lucas kept everything quiet. He didn't want anybody to spill the word around. When the time came he told me what it was and I got to travel to London and put on a special suit and costume because I did a lot of stunts. I had to help my friend the stunt coordinator to get a bunch of three or four little people to do some stunts. It was only about five of us doing the flying and things like that. The rest were in the background and my costume were a little more foam and a little more flexible because I had to do a lot of flying around. Then when I got to meet R2-D2, Kenny Baker, we got to be very good friends. It was a really wonderful show, we got to do a lot, go to London, fly first class on Pan Am on a huge 747. We got into the cockpit and talked to the Captain. He showed us how he was flying the airplane. It was great old days, we had so much fun.

Me: Which Ewok were you, Felix, do you know?

Felix: I was the Ewok who dropped the rocks on the Stormtrooper. I was the guy with the glider.

Me: Of course. That's cool. Felix, thank you so much for being on the Phile, No more smoking inside in non-smoking areas. Please come back on the Phile again soon.

Felix: You're welcome and I won't. Thanks, Jason.

He won't come back on the Phile or he won't smoke inside again? Hmmm. Well, that about does it for  this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and of course Felix Silla. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Phile Alum Shelly Ambrose. 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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