Monday, July 16, 2018

Pheaturing Shane Speal From Shane Speal & The Snakes

Good afternoon, kids, and welcome to the Phile for a Monday. Two big international events have made headlines here in the U.S. this weekend... the first being that France defeated Croatia 4-2 to win the 2018 World Cup in Sochi, Russia yesterday. France won! Ugh!!! The other is that President Trump is having his first official summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland early this morning. Hillary Clinton decided to marry those two events in one brutal tweet to criticize Trump's close ties with Russia...

Damn, girl. That tea is scalding hot. The tweet came just a few hours after President Trump congratulated Putin and Russia for hosting the tournament...

On July 13th, special counsel Robert Mueller handed down indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers for conspiring to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Robert Mueller is investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia as part of his probe into Moscow's attempts to interfere in the 2016 election where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump won the electoral college. President Trump continues to call the investigation a "witch hunt." Hmmm.
In the latest installment of Whites Behaving Badly, a nightmare miniseries that has been running in America for roughly 500 years, a racist CVS manager in Chicago called the cops on a black woman using a coupon. Yes, you read that right, unfortunately. It all went down when Camilla Hudson tried to use a coupon that CVS manager Morry Matson didn't recognize. Rather than checking the system like a normal human being, or politely asking Hudson how she got the coupon (it was mailed to her as the replacement for a product), Matson made assumptions and called a second manager over. According to Hudson, the second manager said it looked "fraudulent" and refused to answer her questions. "When I pulled out my phone to document what happened and exactly what he’d said to me (AND how he’d said it!) he turned his back and walked away from me. When I followed him and demanded that he answer my question, he ran to the back of the store and slammed a door in my face." Right after the second (unnamed) manager slammed a door in Hudson's face, Matson told her he'd called the cops, and then proceeded to call them again in front of her. "Apparently, they’d hung up on him the first time he called, so he had to call them back a second time, telling the 911 dispatcher that I was harassing them (which I have on video)," Hudson said. Hudson was able to get the second call on tape, which she later posted to her Facebook. The police later confirmed to Buzzfeed News that there were in fact two calls made from the CVS to report an "assault in progress." However, the cops who responded did not write up reports about the calls. After the video went viral, people quickly found out Matson is running for 48th Alderman and has specifically promised to "increase police presence" if he wins. This viral video has energized many to actively vote against him. Following the viral video, CVS posted an apology for both Matson and the other manager's behavior. "We sincerely apologize to Ms. Hudson for her experience in one of our stores. The employees who were involved in the incident will not be working in the store pending the findings of our investigation." Given the bleak stats on how the cops treat black people, having someone call the cops on Hudson for trying to use a coupon is terrifying on multiple levels. Hopefully he gest his comeuppance, both politically and in the workplace.
While the world celebrated the successful rescue of 12 Thai boys who got trapped deep inside a cave, Extremely Online billionaire Elon Musk was pissed that he didn't get to be a part of it. Rather than rejoice over the fact that the kids were freed, union buster extraordinaire Musk tried to make the news cycle about himself, insisting that a "kid-size submarine" could have saved the boys, because don't you dare forget about him for five minutes. British diver and Thai cave expert Vern Unsworth, who was actually involved in the rescue, called Musk's mini submarine a "PR stunt" that had "absolutely no chance of working," because Musk and crew "had no conception of what the cave passage was like." Rather than take a step back and applaud the guy for saving children, Musk decided to accuse Unsworth of being attracted to them. Um, people pointed out that it's not cool to just call someone "pedo guy," so Musk decided to double down. He ultimately deleted the tweets, but not before people took screenshots, and the accused "pedo guy" said he was considering taking legal action. And his company is taking a hit, too. Musk tweeting out vitriol and throwing around immature insults dovetails nicely with the other news of the weekend: that he's a top donor to a Republican PAC. Congratulations to the diver, because like the Republican party, he's gonna score some of Elon Musk's money.
There are few activities the collective Internet loves witnessing more than a good natured trolling. This isn't the kind of trolling that escalates into toxic bullying, doxxing, and mental health issues, this is an artful trolling, the kind of pranking that gets companies to write earnest responses to ridiculous queries. When the Twitter user Benny (@Kung_FuBenny) texted "Fox 10 News" with a hot photo tip about a local fire, it was only natural for the news station to respond. However, his tip was quickly revealed as a troll move when he sent a photo from "Spongebob Squarepants." His sister Steph (@zanoess) knew the Internet would eat up this delightful trolling exchange, especially since "Fox 10" was fully prepared to use Benny's photo.

Unsurprisingly, "Fox 10" ghosted Benny after he sent the photo of the fire at the Krusty Krab. The rest of the Internet, however, was feeling the joke. One guy weighed in with footage from the actual fire. Apparently, the fire took place at his local grocery store. This text exchange became an instant classic. Apparently he inspired other trolls, which while funny, legitimately sucks for the people trying to do their job at "Fox 10" (which should be noted is a local station, not Bill O'Reilly's homestead). Benny's supreme trolling tactics have officially placed him in the Twitter Hall of Fame, at least, for this week's lineup.
The Rock, aka Dwayne Johnson, aka the patron saint of having a heart as big as his muscles is a pro at remaining humble. While many actors would get defensive or in their feelings about receiving negative reviews, Johnson has taken the negative reviews of his latest film Skyscraper in stride. At the time of writing, Skyscraper has an average 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been criticized for having too thin of a plot, "ripping off Die-hard," and being "disappointing." However, not all of the reviews are so scathing. The film critic Kristen Lopez, who suffers from a disability, penned a review praising the film for its surprisingly nuanced use of a disabled protagonist. She noted that while Johnson's character in the film has a prosthetic leg, his disability isn't the focal point of the plot. He is presented as a full, complex person, and neither fetishized or pitied for his disability. Johnson shared the review with his Twitter followers, praising Lopez' writing and opening up a discussion for disabled representation in Hollywood. Fans of Johnson and Lopez' writing chimed in to point out the importance of disabled visibility, and how far Hollywood has to go. In the future, the hope is that Johnson's character would be played by someone who actually has a prosthetic leg. Lopez was naturally happy to receive the shout out from Johnson, hopefully this will give her an even larger readership. Not long before posting this tweet, Johnson announced that he'd joined forces with the Ruderman Family Foundation, a charity that campaigns for disabled representation in film and media. All of this only intensifies the Rock should run for president.
Instead of doing this blog thing I should be listening to this record...

Ummm... maybe not. That's like the Filipino Justice League. Haha. You know I like the beach, Star Wars and women in bikini's, right? Well, here's a mix of all 3...

You guys know who that is, right? So, I was thinking about getting a new tattoo and someone took my idea...

Damn him. Hahahaha. If there's a God some people sure strayed from his light... not that guy with the tattoo, but this guy...

If I had a TARDIS I would like to go to the 60s and have lunch with JFK... but knowing my luck he would be having lunch with someone else... someone more important.

I have been telling you this for a few weeks now Marvel is very good at matching their actors with stunt people. Check it out...

Told ya. Creepy. There's still Royal Wedding souvenirs left if you want any. This is one I do want...

The sweetest. When I saw this movie poster I thought it looked familiar...

Then it hit me...

Hahahaha. Man, those people in London were so mean with their anti-Trump signs...

Hahaha. ICYMI, here's a pic of Trump meeting Prime Minister Theresa May...

I think it's her... ha. Oh, here is a pic of Putin from the press conference this morning...

I know. I know. That's not really Putin. I'm not that stupid. Here's the real picture from the press conference...

Hahahahahaha. I just cracked myself up. Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things Overheard At Trump And Putin's Press Conference
5. I just saw a U.S. Secret Service agent put the soccer ball Putin gave Trump through a security scanner outside the Pres. Palace.
4. It seems crazy that Trump would share the evidence our intelligence agencies has collected against Russia with Vladimir Putin, but I'm sure he has his treasons.
3. Making gay jokes about Putin and Trump implies there are genuine human emotions behind their corruption. I wish they were in love with each other, because that would be easier to contend with than pure unstoppable ego and greed.
2. Trump: Say it.  Translator [sighing deeply]: President Putin, the pundits were saying there was no path to 270. But if you look at this electoral map...
And the number 1 thing overheard at Trump and Putin's press conference was...
1. Trump basically said "fuck America" while sucking Putin’s dick.

Yeesh. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. You know, a majority of the modern world has progressed to the fact that women are not only funny, but they're also terrifying human beings who are capable of great violence if you don't laugh at their jokes.

Ladies, I'm laughing... ahem. So, a friend of the Phile recently purchased a car if you remember. I thought I'd invite him back to see how it's going. Please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hey, Dindo, my friend, welcome back. How are you doing?

Dindo: Okay, I guess. It's raining out there.

Me: Yup. I hear the thunder. So, how's the new car?

Dindo: Well, I was driving down the street and a woman blew a kiss at me from a bus passing by. I leaned over to my friends to say, "Hey guys! Did you just see that? She blew me a..." Then CRASH, I ran into the little Volkswagon Fox in front of me and then he rammed the Audi in front of him.

Me: Oh, man, what happened then?

Dindo: That sucked. I totally destroyed the VW.

Me: Did you learn anything form this, Dindo?

Dindo: Yeah, never kiss and tell. Can I go now? I have to get a ride.

Me: Sure. Dindo Nuffin, everyone.

Night towels are more likely to be single.

Oh, you thought that the President of the United States was going to side with the American intelligence agencies that concluded that Russia interfered with the 2016 election when Vladimir Putin denied it? That's cute. Today in Helsinki, Finland, President Donald Trump met privately with Russian president Vladimir Putin for two hours before hosting a press conference. Trump stood next to the former KGB agent and smiled as he blew anti-Semitic dog whistles, and the dude supposedly representing the United States accepted the Russian dictator's denials when his own Justice Department says otherwise. He might have thrown American law enforcement agencies under the bus, but at least he stands for the national anthem! The overwhelming conclusion from people who prefer America to Trumpistan was that it's a sad day for the superpower. Even Fox News was disgusted. FOX NEWS!!! Even if Republicans in Congress don't care that the president appears to be a Russian asset, history might.

The 83rd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Chris will be on the Phile next Sunday. Okay, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, there's stuff that happens in Florida that happens nowhere else in the universe. So, once again here is...

A drunk dude in Orlando, Florida made three stupid decisions that got him and his buddy knocked out. 1. Don’t kick a man’s motorcycle. 2. Don’t get into a fight with a guy in a helmet. 3. Don’t go bare knuckle against a person wearing riding gloves In a viral video, a man riding a Yamaha R1 is passing through a crosswalk when a bald guy approaches him and kicks his bike. The biker gets off and lays a left hook squarely on his jaw knocking him to the pavement. Then, with zero hesitation, the southpaw cyclist knocks the guy’s buddy out cold, too. The biker then drives off like a hero. What’s interesting is that both men go down hard after what looks like a pretty soft punch. It appears as though the biker is wearing carbon fiber or Kevlar knuckle guards which is just like wearing brass knuckles. While the guys who got knocked out were clearly intoxicated it’s hard to know who started the fight. In a second video, there's an altercation in the crosswalk that preceeds the fight. Regardless of what caused the fight in the first place, when you kick someone’s motorcycle you deserve what comes next.

Phact 1. A Chernobyl fireman who claimed they didn’t know that the Chernobyl meltdown flames were radioactive, 20 years later said, “Of course we knew! If we had followed regulations, we would never have gone near the reactor. It was a moral obligation, our duty. We were like kamikaze.”

Phact 2. Netherlands and France share a land border. It’s in the Caribbean on Saint Martin... the smallest inhabited island divided between two countries.

Phact 3. Clint Eastwood ran for mayor in the city of Carmel in California, campaigning against an ordinance banning the sale of ice cream and he actually won.

Phact 4. Charcoal beetles fly into still-burning forest fires to mate and lay eggs because competition and predators will be low. They sense distant fires using infrared armpit sensors.

Phact 5. A guide dog calmly led her owner and 30 other people down 1,463 steps out of the World Trade Center on 9/11 despite the confusion, smoke, and noise around them. After descending over half the distance, they passed the firemen who were heading up, who the dog stopped to greet. Once safe, the dog then helped a woman who was blinded by the debris.

Today's guest is an American musician, historian and instrument builder who calls himself the King of the Cigar Box Guitar. His latest CD with his band the Snakes titled "Stay Primal," is available on his website. Please welcome to the Phile... Shane Speal.

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

Shane: I'm doing great, how are you?

Me: Not too bad. Hoping my power doesn't go out because of the storm. So, where are you from, Shane?

Shane: I grew up in western Pennsylvania and now living in the central part of the state in York, Pennsylvania.

Me: Cool, my son lives not far from you I think. So, what got you into the cigar box guitar playing opposed to a regular guitar?

Shane: Ha ha. You gotta understand, I started out like any red blooded Pennsylvania guy as a heavy metal freak. Back in the 80s I had the mullet, I was listening to thrash metal and all that stuff. When I went to college I heard Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" and that changed my life. Everything became blues for me, and even though I had guitars and "normal" instruments like that around me I kept going back in time searching for music that deeper blues. I listened to Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" then I went to Hound Dog Taylor and Muddy Waters. Then I took that step back to the Delta guys. For me this was back in 1993, this was before the Internet and it wasn't like I could punch something up. I saw these interviews with guys talking about when they started out they were so poor they couldn't even afford guitar from the Sears catalogue so they made one out of a cigar box guitar. For me I'm into that gritty primal one step deeper from the Delta blues sound. That's when I said I got to make my own so in 1993 I made my first string cigar box guitar.

Me: For people that don't know can you explain what a cigar box guitar is, Shane?

Shane: Okay, going back into blues history... the cigar box guitar for the most part was nothing but a broom stick through a box with one or two pieces of bailing wire put onto it and played with a broken bottle neck as a slide. These are the most primitive prime blues instruments you could find.

Me: So, what's the difference between that and a Fender Strat? Haha.

Shane: Hmmm... light years. If I play a Fender guitar I sound like everyone else. If I play a cigar box guitar I sound like Shane Speal. It's the one instrument that makes me sound completely unique because number 1. there's no rules to it. It's a pleasant instrument. Its something made by people that were desperate for music. Number 2. there's no rules for playing it. You approach it how you approach it.

Me: Okay, so, tell me about the ones you play, Shane. What are they like?

Shane: They have three or four strings and no frets, played with a slide. In the middle of a song it could go a little bit out of tune but that's kinda what I'm looking for. A blues that's so nasty and so rugged that you can't get it from a Strat. The last thing I wanna do is play a Strat in a concert any more.

Me: When did you start to amplify it? Was that common for people to amplify these?

Shane: My band is an absurd thing, Cigar box guitars were a front porch instrument back in the day. When I first started to build them myself they were all acoustic. Back in the 1990s I used to perform at a coffee shop and I would take like a tie tack microphone that interviewers use and shove it into the sound hole so the people could hear what I'm doing. Electrifying cigar box guitars is a new rules idea. You can use whatever you want as a pick-up. I have some cigar box guitars that were taken out of old guitars. There's absolute freedom making your own homemade instrument.

Me: So, when and how did you start playing with your band Shane Speal & the Snakes, Shane? 

Shane: Well, as it progressed I put together my band and our goal was to sound like a mixture of jug band and Black Sabbath. Now I still do acoustic shows as well, I like to go back and forth.

Me: What kind of tunings are you playing?

Shane: For me it's a slide open G.

Me: Do you do a lot of experimenting with it?

Shane: Absolutely. In fact I actually started my own guitar slide company. It's, but every slide that I sell on that site I include a tuning guide because that's kind of the cool fun of this thing is to try jazz tunings, Hawaiian tunings, mutant weird things. In concert I'm always using my tuner or I at least have seven guitars besides me per show because they're all tuned differently. I can just grab another one and do a different song. Have fun with the tunings. I even have a YouTube channel where I teach playing and tunings are a big part of it.

Me: I was looking at the videos, Shane. You teach AC/DC and Depeche Mode and blues staples as well, but no Foghat. So, how many do you have, Shane? Cigar box guitars... not videos. Haha.

Shane: Ha ha. Maybe I'll do "Slow Ride" soon. You have musicians reading this, right?

Me: I think so.

Shane: Okay, so, here's my tip for you musicians... when you buy a guitar have it sent to your office. Then when you'll sneak it home she'll never realize. If you have more than 40 guitars in your house she'll never notice another one. Hahahaha. Just kidding. But cigar box guitars, with my collection is over 200. Those are ones that I have made, that I've traded with people throughout the world or I bought. In fact when my father took over Speals Tavern in New Alexandria and I proposed to him we would have a cigar box museum inside of it one of the reasons was I was running out of room in my house. I wanted these guitars to be seen. The next thing is every time I go back to Speals to perform I always bring some more with me and I take a couple of the walls so I can perform with them. I just swap them around. The museum itself I just bought in 39 new guitars about a month and a half ago. We're running outta space on the walls. It's a beautiful thing.

Me: So, tell the readers about Speal's Tavern, and the museum, Shane. I think it's pretty cool.

Shane: The bar has been in my family since the middle of the prohibition. My great uncle started it and that was repealed legally. In fact Speal's Tavern has one of the oldest liquor licenses in Pennsylvania. Its been in my family the whole time. My father is a retired special-ed school teacher, his brother ran the bar for many, many years and finally said to my dad he was too old to take care of the bar, and did my dad want it because my uncle wanted to sell it. My dad was retired from teaching so he took it over. He called me up and and said, "I don't know what to do about this. There's nobody here." I said to him, "I have an extra P.A. system and I have my cigar box guitar collection. Let's bring live blues in there and make the place look like the Hard Rock Cafe of old time blues." The walls are just covered in cigar box guitars from all over the world. There's live blues music there every Thursday night, Friday and Saturday night. Here's a picture of the Tavern, Jason.

Me: So, what's the Guitar-B-Que?

Shane: Once a year they have the Guitar-B-Que which is a two day event of live music. It is not held on site, it is actually held in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania at the Sportsmen Club there. Typically it's so big and it gets so many people. The majority of the bands that perform at Speal's Tavern throughout the year all get together and it's a one big music festival of some of the best blues, roots and rock music in the area.

Me: Cool. If someone wanted to build a cigar box guitar, what kind of advice can you give them?

Shane: Oh my God, just build one. We have free plans on a website called That website is basically the hub of all cigar box activity. I started it years ago, and yes I did name it after Steelers Nation. Hahahaha. If you want the kit and don't want to collect the pieces you can go to and that has free plans to download and you can buy all the parts.

Me: I have to talk about your new CD "Stay Primal." What can you tell us about the CD?

Shane: We were talking about how loud my band can get... "Stay Primal" is a step back. It's more acoustic. Basically I forced my band to listen to "Led Zeppelin III" before going into the studio. On "Led Zeppelin III" is where they went acoustic so it's like this hard rock band playing folk music on acoustic. We're a hard rock jug band that goes back to Memphis and St. Louis jug band but still with the rock attitude. There's some rockers in there but it's still step back in time. I'm very, very proud of the album.

Me: Cool. Shane, thanks so much for being here on the Phile. Mention your website and I wish you continued success. If I am ever up in Pennsylvania I will stop by Speals Tavern.

Shane:, thank you, Jason.

Me: Cool, don't forget to do the "Slow Ride" video. Haha.

Shane: I won't. Thanks for having me.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Shane for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Chris Difford. In a few weeks as well is one of the biggest guests I ever had on the Phile. It's gonna be so cool. 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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