Monday, July 23, 2018

Pheaturing Brian Volk-Weiss

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? In yet another episode of the ongoing miniseries White People Behaving Badly, a new Indiana Brewery is already coming under fire for tactless beer names before even opening their doors. While the Lakeville Brew Crew isn't set to officially open until fall, the co-owners Jon Duncan and Rodney Cheblek already made horribles waves with their beer names Black Beers Matter, Flint Michigan Tap Water, White Guilt, and Mass Graves, the South Bend Tribune reports. Despite the fact that none of the proceeds will go towards actually helping the Flint water crisis, or bail funds and the fight against police brutality, the founders are claiming the beer names are meant to "raise awareness" and not mock. "The way I look at it, with the 'Flint Michigan Tap Water,' if you’re going to get mad about that beer name, you should focus your anger more toward the people that are letting that happen to Flint," Duncan told the South Bend Tribune. As far as the cringe inducing decision to name the stout Black Beers Matter, Duncan also has an equally uncomfortable reasoning behind that name choice. He says stouts and porters are the least popular of craft beers, "they are good beers and they matter." NOPE, ALL OF THE NOPE. Here's the thing, if the Lakeville Brew Crew really wanted to raise awareness and lend support towards Black Lives Matter and the Flint water crisis, they could donate a percentage of their beer profits. They could also host fundraising events and register people to vote at their bar. These are all palpable ways to do something without bastardizing the very causes they claim to support. But they're not taking any of those actions, and Duncan's defense is classic deflection from being called out for trying to profit off of tragedy in the grossest, most trivializing way. Other craft brewers have taken to Twitter to express their disapproval, as well as pretty much anyone with critical thinking skills and empathy. Given this pre-emptive backlash, I have a feeling business might be on the light side when they finally open their doors.
President Donald Trump didn't exactly receive the warmest of welcomes when he arrived in England recently. Hundreds of protestors greeted the President and First Lady with chants, signs, and a giant balloon that depicts Donald Trump as a baby. At least President Trump and First Lady Melania were greeted warmly when they met Queen Elizabeth II for afternoon tea at Windsor Castle, right? Well, that is up for debate. Basically, their meeting was a bit doomed from the start. After leaving the 92-year-old Queen waiting in the 80 degree heat for ten minutes on live television, Trump finally decided to show up. Then he committed a faux pas by walking in front of the Queen and totally blocking her path. It was awkward. But Queen Elizabeth might have gotten the last laugh here. According to Twitter user @SamuraiKnitter (a.k.a. Julie), the Queen may have been trolling the Trump throughout the visit using nothing but her brooches. She outlined her thoughts in a thread that went viral: In her thread, Julie explained that the Queen amassed a huge collection of brooches after receiving so many as gift throughout the years. The Queen seldom makes a public appearance without a brooch, and according to Julie, the brooches often hold some sort of significance. Over the course of the Trump's visit to the U.K., the Queen wore three different brooches. On day one of the visit, she wore the American State Visit Brooch, which just happened to be a personal gift from Barak and Michelle Obama. The brooch is American-made piece from 1950 crafted from 14-karat yellow gold, diamonds, and moss agate. The next day, the Queen wore the Sapphire Jubilee Brooch, which was a gift from Canada. As many know, tensions between the U.S. and Canada have been high since Trump took office. "Nice way to get in a dig again without having to say a word.​​​​​," writes Julie in a tweet. But Queen Elizabeth reserved the shadiest brooch for her actual meeting with Trump. For their tea, her Majesty opted for a family heirloom... a brooch that became famous after mother wore it to her father's state funeral. Of course, all of these brooch choices could have just been mere coincidence... but that is something we will probably never know. Now that is some hot English tea.
If I saw a pool full of sharks I would probably gaze in complete awe while beholding their full glory from a safe distance. But I would never, ever consider jumping in with them for a photo op. Hell, I think the ocean is beautiful but even dipping my toes near tiny nibbling fish (I am obviously a marine scientist) is intimidating. What if the fish have a contractable disease, or they lay eggs in my leg hair? As you already guessed, most people are not me, and the 19-year-old Instagram model, nursing student and lifestyle blogger Katarina Zarutskie is MUCH FREER than I'll ever be. During a recent trip to the Bahamas, Zarutskie, her boyfriend, and his family spotted a group of nurse sharks swimming in a shallow pool. Since Zarutskie spotted several other people peacefully swimming with the notably sociable nurse sharks, she thought she'd take the leap herself and grab some beautiful photos. Unfortunately for her, the sharks were NOT feeling cute and the Instagram moment soon went the way of blood baths. The first photo is as zen and lovely as she hoped, but the shark-filled tides quickly turned. As you can see here, one of the miffed nurse sharks went straight for her arm meat and took a bite...

This of course, put a quick cap on the wildlife photoshoot. She quickly lifted her freshly bitten arm out of the water to prevent blood from spreading in the pool and attracting more sharks. Luckily for her, Zarutskie didn't lose function in her arm and it's currently healing. She had to go through several rounds of antibiotics due to the myriad of bacteria the shark could have given her. While speaking with Buzzfeed News, Zarutskie admitted that taking photos surrounded by shark home with risks (I am writing this with great restraint). "I would recommend people to do it but be smart about it,” she said, in reference to others who may want to follow suit. “You are in their home."
While watching her daughter’s favorite cartoon, “Maya the Bee,” Chey Robinson saw a disturbing image she couldn’t believe in the background of the show: a penis drawn on a log. So Robinson took video of the offensive phallus and shared it on Facebook. “Please be mindful of what your kids are watching. I did NOT edit any images whatsoever,” Robinson wrote in a post which was later deleted. “There should be no reason my kids have to see something like this. I don’t know if they’re gonna do something about this or what, but there’s no reasons why this should be in this show.” Other mothers took to social media to back Robinson up.

Netflix responded to the controversy by banning the offending episode. The show was created by the Studio 100 Group who issued an apology. "This is indeed unacceptable to the Studio 100 Group as owner of the brand and all its partners and doesn’t reflect the quality of its work and its values," the company's statement continues. "Legal action has already been started. Studio 100 very much regrets this incident and would like to offer its sincere apologies to all 'Maya the Bee' fans. At the same time the company is taking all suitable technical measures to remedy the situation."
Fox News accidentally made a huge scheduling error that resulted in them getting slammed on their own show... live on air. Fox News thought they booked Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democratic from Arizona who was recently booed at a debate for defending her pro-ICE stance. Instead, they actually booked Massachusetts state senator Barbara L’Italien. L'Italien is pro-immigration, anti-Trump, and critical of ICE... so yeah... definitely not what they were going for. As soon as L'Italien got on air, she let "Fox & Friends" hosts Rob Schmitt and Jillian Mele have it. "I’m actually here to speak directly to Donald Trump," said L'Italien. "I feel that what’s happening at the border is wrong. I’m a mother of four, and I believe that separating kids from their parents is illegal and inhumane. I’m actually Barbara L’Italien, I’m a state senator representing a large immigrant community and running for Congress in Massachussets." At first, the frazzled hosts still did not catch that L'Italien was indeed not Ann Kirkpatrick, and attempted to regain control of the situation before they cut away from L'Italien's interview entirely. “That didn’t go as planned,” commented Schmitt. I would say so. Because L'Italien was cut off so early in the segment, she posted her full statement for "Fox & Friends" on YouTube. L’Italien campaign later released a statement saying that "lack of due diligence" led to Fox News' accidentally booking her, and that "this would not have happened to an actual news station."
Instead of doing this blog thing I should be listening to this record...

Ummm... maybe not. She is cute though, right? So, I was thinking of getting a new tattoo but someone had the same idea as me...

Wait... he doesn't have a Chick-fil-A one. Haha. Or Culver's... So, since Trump came back from England he seems to have a brand new look...

Wonder what that brooch means that he's wearing. I think it's the Fuck America brooch. You know I love the beach and Star Wars, right? Well, this pic has it all.

Yup. You're welcome. If I had a TARDIS I would think it'll be cool to go see Elizabeth Taylor back in the day. Knowing my luck though she'll have this guy hanging out with her...

What movie is that from? And who is that guy? There's still a lot of Royal Wedding souvenirs out there if you want any. Like these terrible bobbleheads...

What did Harry and Meghan do to deserve being disrespected like this? This London anytime-Trump protestors were so "mean" a few weeks ago.

Hahahahaha. Do you remember the Garbage Pail Kids? Well there's some new ones out.

Ha! Do you remember that Trump Baby blimp from London? Well, if you wondered what happened to it I'll show you...

Man, I hope they rebuild it. Do you ever see those tip jars at places? They can be really creative sometimes...

How are your kids when they go to school? I hope they're not like this kid...

I hope he got in trouble. Haha.

Oh, fuck. I would be horrified. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, Shark Week started last night on the Discovery Channel. Well, it just so happens that a friend of the Phile is a shark and likes to show up once a year to tell us some jokes. So, please welcome once again to the Phile...

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

Feargal: I'm fin-tactic. I've just read that according to statistics, donkeys kill more people every year than sharks. You'd better watch your ass.

Me: Ha. So, what else has been going on?

Feargal:  I've been watching water polo.

Me: Really? How is it?

Feargal: One shark away from being the greatest sport ever.

Me: Hmmm. Okay, so have any jokes for us?

Feargal: Sure. What did one shark say to the other after eating a clown fish?

Me: Ummm... it tastes funny...?

Feargal: Yes. Not only does it look funny, but it tastes funny too.

Me: Ha! I knew it.

Feargal: What is a shark's favorite smell?

Me: Ummm... I don't know.

Feargal: Human blood.

Me: Ewww. Okay, one more, Feargal.

Feargal: What is a sharks favorite kinda sandwich?

Me: People sandwich? PLT?

Feargal: Nope. Peanut butter and jellyfish!

Me: Ha. Great job, Feargal. See you back here next year.

Feargal: Cool. Back to the ocean I go. Maybe I'll swim to Finland.

Me: Feargal the Sharkey, everyone.

I think I get it. Yeah, I do. So, a friend of the Phile went to see Ant-Man and the Wasp at the movies and wanted to come onto the Phile and give us his review. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is.

Happy Monday, to ME! Got up at the crack of Oh, my GOD, it’s fuckin’ early and I’m still feeling rather poorly... head off to my first job, halfway there... I get a flat... in the rain... get to a lit area (to change the tire)... jack is broken and spare doughnut tire is nearly flat. Really? Change tire with a broken jack (in the mutherphuqin’ rain!) Limp car to a gas station to get air (air pump broken)... get to another gas station, pull in for air... ask to use restroom to wash up and use the toilet... Him: I’m sorry, sir... the restroom is for paying customers only. Me: Really? Listen, dickhead, I just paid $1.75 for air... last time I checked, air is free on this planet. Now, I’m not in the mood for your little power trip... so either give me the key to the bathroom or I’ll take a shit right here at this register. Like I need static from this pimple faced, little shit stick with the day I’m having. Now for Laird’s No Spoiler Movie Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp... No one shrinks a building like Gordon Gekko... Michael Peńa is always funny... Started having Debbie Harry flashbacks when Michelle Pfieffer came on the screen... PEZ? Nice cameo, Stan... Wait... I thought that was the chick from The Pussycat Dolls... I had that same Hot Wheels case... Damn you, Thanos... Great flick, take the kids. 8.4 out of a possible 10.

Last night, President Trump threatened Iran with unspecified "consequences" in this tweet written with all caps...

Ah yes, nothing says "very stable genius" like a late-night temper tantrum on Twitter dot com. The President's tweet comes after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that a war between the U.S. and Iran would be the "mother of all wars" in a speech on Sunday. Rouhani also warned that Trump should not "play with the lion's tail, because you will regret it eternally." And these comments come after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo likened the Iranian regime to the mafia. And, of course, all of this probably comes from Trump scrapping the Obama-negotiated nuclear deal of 2015 back in May. Geez, worst game of telephone ever. Anyway, threatening foreign powers over Twitter is scary for many Americans. Gen. Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar, a commander for Iran's Revolutionary Guard, dismissed Trump's tweet as “psychological warfare” against the regime, and speculated that he would not act on the threats. After all, Trump tweets a lot of things, and if everything he tweeted was taken seriously, we would be at war with Iran, Mexico, North Korea, Canada, Hillary Clinton, CNN, LaVar Ball, covfefe, Obama...

The 84th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

John Carter Cash will be the guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

A lady comes home from her doctor's appointment grinning from ear to ear. Her husband asks, "Why are you so happy?" The wife says, "The doctor told me that for a 45-year-old woman, I have the breasts of an 18-year-old." "Oh, yeah?" quipped her husband, "What did he say about your 45-year-old ass?" She said, "Your name never came up in the conversation."

Today's pheatured guest is the creator of the Netflix series "The Toys That Made Us." I love that series. Please welcome to the Phile... Brian Volk-Weiss.

Me: Hey, Brian, welcome to the Phile. How are you doing, sir?

Bruce: Hey, Jason, how're you doing, man? I'm good.

Me: I'm okay. So, a few months ago I was really sick and stayed home from work and I binged watched your Netflix show "The Toys That Made Us." My friends at work raved about the show and I had to see it. You must be very proud of it, right?

Bruce: I cannot tell you how excited I am that you are aware of the show and liked it, if that sounded cheesy it's entirely accurate. I'm a huge Foghat fan by the way.

Me: That's so cool. Me too. Hahahaha. How long have you been working on it, Brian?

Brian: I feel like I've been working on it for years. We have been working on it for over year so I hope everybody likes it, not just you and your friends.

Me: Did you plan on having four episodes, or eight?

Brian: Yeah, it was always eight episodes. The thing that changed was we broke it into two four section parts, so there's a season one A and a season one B,and how soon season 2 A.

Me: So, where are you from originally, Brian?

Brian: Queens, New York.

Me: Cool. So, are you a collector of toys yourself?

Brian: Well, I used to say I just loved toys but now people say they're collectors so I guess I am a collector. I have a huge toy collection. Part of my collection goes back to when I was 3-years-old. You can say my collection is almost 40-years-old.

Me: Doing the show did you learn a lot about toys yourself?

Brian: I'm also a huge history buff. I have read a lot of books over the years. I knew a lot about the history of Star Wars, and G.I. Joe but I knew very little of the history of He-Man, I knew nothing about Barbie, nothing about Transformers and I knew close to nothing about LEGO.

Me: So, when you came up with the idea for this documentary series what were you thinking?

Brian: I knew that I wanted to do a show that in a very fun and entertaining way. I feel history could be used as a dirty word. I just really got into the story of why did the TIE-Fighters were the size they were had. Why weren't they bigger? Why weren't they smaller? Why did Lucas Film do a deal with Kenner and not a deal with Hasbro? Why did Marvel Comics come up with all the creative characters and not Hasbro for G.I. Joe? Even with this I knew a lot about there were missing pieces, there was no connective tissue between the story. I wanted to tell the whole story in a way when the episode was over people understood from the point of view of the day before there was the day up until the day the show aired what was going on on the history of the toy.

Me: Is there a favorite toy that you found out about or talked about making this series?

Brian: We did a deep dive into the Millennium Falcon. We did a deep dive into the Enterprise from "Star Trek." We really went deep into Castle Grayskull. For me He-Man was to me the blind trust, the placebo as I call it. For me I didn't play with He-Man when I was a kid. I really knew next to nothing about He-Man. I wouldn't say I'm an expert but I have a Ph.D in Star Wars. I didn't even have a high school degree in He-Man.

Me: So, how well did you work with Netflix?

Brian: They were the greatest partners ever. If I had been left to my own devices some of these episodes would have been four hours long. Which would of been good for 1% of the human population and bad for 99%. In G.I. Joe if I was left with my own devices I spent five minutes talking about the Whale. That would not have been productive for 99% of people who watched the show. I want the show to be a huge hit and make a lot more episodes but if I only made this show for the 1% the show would not be a hit.

Me: I would be the 1%, but I get it. So, I knew nothing about He-Man either and G.I. Joe. I couldn't believe this whole U.S.S. Flagg toy. I have to show a picture of this thing.

Me: Did you know about it before?

Brian: Yeah, one of my favorite quotes from all eight episodes was we were talking to the designer at Hasbro who did not work on the Flagg, he was just talking about it. He said, "Do you have any idea how much money G.I. Joe had to be bringing in that not only somebody suggests let's do a seven and a half foot toy, but they did it." They must have been rolling in the dough. They were.

Me: My favorite toy when I was a kid was the Star Wars action figures. I am about ten years older than you, Brian, so I was too old for He-Man and G.I.Joe. What was your favorite toy when you were a kid?

Brian: I loved the Micro Machines. I had every single one from the first three releases. I loved them even before they started doing the Star Wars ones. I don't know why, I'm not a car guy.

Me: You talked to a lot of cool and interesting people in this series. Who are your favorite ones? 

Brian: We talked to a lot of people... over 300 interviews, literally all over the world. We interviewed a fair amount of people that have never done an interview before. One of my favorite people that we interviewed was Mark Pevers. He was the guy that George Lucas went to and said, "I want to make toys. Get me a deal." He's the guy that had the door slammed in his face at Hasbro, Mattel, Parker Brothers, Mego, everybody. He was the guy with the ego that got Kenner to do it. His stories were amazing, he's really funny, and this is true for a lot of the people we interviewed, he was one of these guys that's been around for awhile. He really didn't have anything to lose being pretty blunt with us. He was just really direct, honest and really funny. He pushed really hard for Mego to do Star Wars. Marty at Mego swears that he wasn't in the office, the message didn't get to him or something, and Mark Pevers was like, "Let me tell you something. We were there. We saw Marty! He closed the door in our face." He was someone I never even heard of until I went off and made the show, and that was one of the cool things about making the show. It was like an investigation, like an adventure. We would find a new person that had never been interviewed and he or she would say to us, "Oh, but have you talked to this person?" We were like who the hell is that?

Me: You did a Transformers episode for the second part of the season. What was that like? You had to go to Tokyo, right?

Brian: Yeah, we had to go to Tokyo to talk about Transformers and Hello Kitty. With Transformers we met these guys that basically invented and designed Optimus Prime. Nobody had interviewed them before. I cannot tell you how many times we would be shooting things I would have goose bumps, and even sometimes tear up. For example, a very lucky break we had was we were in Tokyo, and we had two days to shoot all the former designers and engineers and one of the designers that we didn't even know about, we were in Japan, he was supposed to shoot on our second day. We were very, very lucky that he showed up on the first day just to watch and see what was going on. He saw how much we worshiped everything that we saw. He couldn't believe it. This was something he worked on 45 years ago. The next day he comes in and has this giant photo album under his arm. I'm like, "What's that?" He doesn't speak a word of English but he opens it and starts showing it to me. Dude, he had Poloroids of the actual wooden models that would become Optimus Prime, Megatron. No one knows what happened to the originals. They think they were thrown out and destroyed.

Me: You also interviewed Michael Bey, Todd McFarlane, Dolph Lundgren... those are pretty cool people you got, Brian.

Brian: Don't get me wrong, those are pretty good interviews, but seeing the guys that created Optimus Prime who had the legal pad with the notes, I'm telling you, man, I teared up.

Me: What was Dolph like?

Brian: That was the greatest thing ever. He's a super smart guy, really, really, really funny. The guy who created He-Man, one of his things is, "The movie was terrible, that guy they had to paint muscles on him because he wasn't big enough." We said to Dolph Lundgrem, "Hey, man, we've been told they had to paint your muscles on." He was like, "What are you talking about? Look at the movie. You either have muscles or you don't."

Me: So cool. Brian, I hope you come back to the Phile soon, and the series continues after the next four episodes that were just announced.

Brian: This show is the greatest thing to happen to happen to me in my career. The only thing to be able to beat it is to be able to make more.

Me: Cool, Brian. Take care, sir. Continued success, and come back on the Phile again soon.

Brian: I will.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and Brian Volk-Weiss. The Phile will be back next Sunday with the biggest guest I ever had here. Are you ready? Paul Simon. PAUL. SIMON! Paul Simon, people!!! I'm so excited. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Paul Simon next Sunday!!!!!!

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

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