Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pheaturing Mark Mekkes

Let's see how this works...

Hello, welcome to another entry of the Phile. I didn't think I was gonna be able to make an entry this week as my iMac committed suicide. I didn't think iMac's could die, but I guess it thought dying was better then having the Phile written on it every week. If you're wondering what computer I am on now, Logan has a computer of his own so I managed to get him off Club Penguin long enough for me to post this entry. Thanks, Logan. ComicCon was this past week. It’s a four-day celebration of science fiction and comics. Every year, an army of geeks descends on San Diego. If you live anywhere other than San Diego and you needed a computer fixed, you were screwed. By the way, Jen is taking my our computer into the Apple Store tomorrow. Violence struck at Comic-Con when an argument between two men resulted in one being arrested for stabbing the other with a pen. Which proved that the pen is mightier than the light saber. There were 80,000 guys dressed as superheroes and no one stepped in to save him. Facebook now has 500 million users. The previous record holder was heroin. Tony Hayward is stepping down as CEO of BP. They weren’t supposed to make the announcement yet, but of course, the news leaked. Speaking of leaked, leaked documents show that Pakistan has been taking American money and using it to fund the Taliban. The Pakistanis are denying it, and they’re like, “The Taliban bought those iPods with their own money.” WikiLeaks has 91,000 secret documents, but who has the time to read that? I can barely get through the instructions on a shampoo bottle. It turns out that our biggest ally in the region is Russia. With all due respect to Russia, it’s not the best place to get advice on how to win in Afghanistan. Justin Bieber will be appearing on “CSI.” Producers said they are going with Bieber because they’re trying to make murder look more adorable. The season finale of “Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman” is on the Science Channel this week. It’s narrated by Morgan Freeman. What a surprise. The show is about the cosmos and philosophical questions like “How did we get here,” “Are we alone in the universe,” and “What the hell is wrong with Mel Gibson.” Aliens are probably watching the show right now. Let me tell you, aliens, if you land in Arizona, you better have your papers. Paris Hilton is in hot water for a picture in which she looks like she’s doing a Nazi salute. Let’s be honest, Paris Hilton has no idea what a Nazi salute is. She probably thinks Nazi is a game you play with dice. Microsoft is getting ready to debut a brand new slogan, a three-word motto: “Control, Alt, Delete.” Okay, as I said, I am using a my son's computer who is ten years old, right? So, I thought I would see if there's any kid like inspirational posters out there, and this is what I found...

Hey, I think I found a replacement computer in case mine can't get fixed. It's an Apple still and pretty cheap. Here's what it looks like...

A crew of dream interlopers want to plant an idea in the brain of a dead tycoon's son... the idea to divest himself of a lot of his super-rich dad's money... so they enter his dreams to get the job done. But they don't stop at one dream; they dive deep down into a dream inside a dream inside a dream, throwing a lot of dream-hijacking rules at the audience along the way (well, actually, to your friendly stand-in, Ellen Page, who plays the team's newcomer). Not that those rules and their accompanying sci-fi jargon names and their underpinned philosophical justifications always help what you see on screen make immediate sense. It's a stern, seriouspants funhouse maze and you get to wander around in it for two-and-a-half hours, marveling at how cool it all is. So, take The Matrix's commitment to techy visual achievements, those trailer moments that make you go "Whoa" all Keanu-style, filter it through Christopher Nolan's Memento-based puzzle aesthetic and you more or less wind up with this film. In spite of the subplot (here comes a mini-spoiler) that involves DiCaprio and his mournful dreams about his dead wife, it's a movie that invests more in the game itself than in the people playing it, but that doesn't make diving into it any less exhilarating. There's two ways to enjoy Inception... There will be some audiences who connect to all the "deep" and trippy ideas about dreams versus reality and they'll watch it over and over trying to figure out all the heavy meaning. (Those people will start to annoy you soon enough, the way all those Fight Club superfans did a while back.) And you can indulge in that practice because the movie bobbleheadedly nods to that stuff every chance it gets. Or you can simply coast along on the spectacle and treat it like a colorfully spinning object to enjoy looking at. That's not only an equally valid approach but it's in keeping with the movie's attention deficit-like dream-hopping, where there'll be several different dream states happening at once, involving all the characters simultaneously, just daring you to keep up. It's not haphazard but it's intentionally, thrillingly, disorienting. What I learned about myself from watching it: My own dreams, which tend to involve being chased by the bagheaded people from The Strangers or falling from an airplane or eating all the cheese cakes in the world at once are sadly mundane, typical and lacking in amazing production design and zero gravity wrestling matches in upside down hotels with rotating hallways. And I think it's unfair. From 1 to 10, it gets a 10 and yes, I will buy it on Blu-ray.

Today's guest is the creator of the long running webcomic "Zortic" and "ETI-PI" as well as the writer of "Abby's Agency". Mark is also the founder of the Web Cartoonists' Choice Awards. His book "Zortic: An Alien Just Like You" is the 10th book to be put in the Peverett Phile Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Mark Mekkes.

Me: Hello, Mark, welcome to the Phile. So, did you have a good time at MegaCon? Was that your first time there?

Mark: Thank you. Yes, I did have a great time. This was a really good year with a great crowd.
I’ve been presenting at Megacon for about 8 years now. I live right near Orlando, so this is my home town convention and it’s always exciting to be a part of it. It was fantastic to get back together with my old Megacon friends and meet lots of great new people, like yourself.

Me: I was only there for one day this year, but had a good time. Anyway, I wanted to interview you for Artist Month when I saw your Zortic artwork, but ran out of days, so your book "Zortic: An Alien Just Like You" is the 10th book in the P.P.B.C. How long ago did you come up with Zortic?

I’ve been sketching and playing around with most of the main characters for a long time. About 20 years ago I really started putting the characters together and building stories with them. Then, a little over 10 years ago, I came up with the idea of presenting it on the internet and finalized the details and began producing it on a regular basis.

Me: Explain to the readers of the Phile what Zortic is about. It's a very original idea and I love the artwork.

Mark: I’ve noticed that most science fiction seems to be very military focused. Where fantasy can follow an ordinary stable boy, blacksmith’s apprentice or hobbit into an epic story; science fiction almost always needs to focus on some highly trained military type. So I wanted to do something with science fiction that focused on a less heroic hero. So Zortic is an ordinary alien who has a fascination with TV shows from Earth. He uses that knowledge to go on a TV trivia game show and wins a space ship. As part of the game show, he meets up with one of his cinematic idols and they end up getting sucked into a variety of action and excitement.

Me: I can almost imagine it as an animated CGI movie. Do you ever think of writing a movie script and shopping the idea?

Mark: I have thought about it. I have to admit that I’m a bit of a frustrated animator. I would love the opportunity to bring these guys to life one way or the other. I haven’t really shopped it out, but I did do an original story as a movie script. I’ve presented it in the format of a movie storyboard and produced it in the book “Zortic: Almost a Motion Picture”.

Me: How long have you been drawing and writing Zortic?

Mark: Just over 10 years. I originally have a theatrical background and was working in professional theater when I decided I really wanted to be an artist and went back to art school to get a degree in illustration. Unfortunately, after art school I ended up getting a job back in theater. So I took on Zortic in an attempt to combine my theatrical and artistic sides and use my illustration degree.

Me: Actually, how long have you been drawing period? You def have your own style.

Mark: Aw, thanks. I’ve been drawing as long as I was able to hold a pencil. I remember my parents had a hard time keeping a blank piece of paper anywhere in the house when I was little. I really had every intention of following an art career; however I was very disappointed with the art program at the college I went to. So instead I ended up with a theater degree, but I never really gave up drawing and eventually went on to get an art degree anyway.

Me: Is there an artist you admired growing up?

Mark: I was really more of an animation fan than anything. I can certainly see a bit of a Flintstones influence on my character design and some Chuck Jones in my directing. But I really had a variety of animated work that I admired; the old Fleischer cartoons, Hanna Barbara, Warner Brothers and Disney.

Me: You also write a series called "Abby's Agency", Mark, am I right? How do you like it working with another artist?

Coming from a theater background, I’m used to collaboration. Of course it can be frustrating when you want to jump in and “fix” something that the other person is doing, but more often you find exciting surprises when the other person finds and expands on something you’ve done that you didn’t realize. Overall there can be something magic in collaborations and I’m really excited to be working with Tiffany, she’s really fantastic for this kind of thing.

Me: Did the artist Tiffany Ross come to you with the idea or did you approach her? How did you two meet?

Mark: Tiffany and I knew each other through the comic collective Keenspot. Keenspot was starting a project and needed some newpaper style strips. Both Tiffany and I were interested, but we didn’t think we had the time to create another entire strip individually. She approached me with the suggestion of doing something together. So we sat down and started brainstorming together and “Abby’s Agency” was the result.

Me: You also have two other projects... "ETI-PI" which I can imagine as a live-action how and "Agent LF". "ET-PI" kinda reminds me of "The X-Files". Were you a fan of that show when it was on?

Mark: Actually, right after Megacon I changed the name of the strip from “ETI-PI” to “Saucer Seekers”. It seems to be a bit catchier. But no, I can’t say that I was a fan of “X Files”. As part of my research I did go back and watch the entire series of “X Files”. What actually inspired the strip was the show “Ghost Hunters”. But I didn’t want to do another ghost hunting comedy because it might be too derivative of Ghostbusters or the old Abbott and Costello comedies. But to my knowledge, no one has really done anything comedic with UFO hunting, so I decided to establish my characters as Ufologists and started building the strip on that.

Me: Your artwork is mostly published online as a webcomic which seems to be coming as popular as blogging. Is it easier for you to post comics up on the internet instead of publishing them as books?

Mark: Oh absolutely. Not only is it cheaper, easier and better for the environment, the internet appeals to my theatrical roots in the way it can deliver relatively instantaneous feedback. I love hearing from fans and getting a sense of community. However there’s still a demand for print books and I’m really enjoying reaching people through those as well. I’m looking forward to getting more of those out.

Me: I am glad to see you did publish some "Zortic" books. Is it the same as what you read online or stories just made to be put in a book?

Mark: It’s the same story, but I do try to put some extras in the book; whether it’s sketches, or notes or side stories.

Me: How often do you put up new stories or chapters?

Mark: “Zortic” updates every Saturday and “Saucer Seekers” updates Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Abby’s Agency updates on Tuesday and Thursday, but it’s currently on a hiatus. And "Agent LF" is complete, although it might return some day.

Me: Are you planning any other books? Is it available to purchase in stores or just on-line?

Mark: I am working on the next book in the Zortic series. I’m hoping it will be ready later this summer. But right now all of the books are only available online and conventions; however, if you’re interested, have your local comic store contact Comic Monkey ( and ask for it.

Me: Mark, are there any new projects you are planning?

Mark: I’m always coming up with new thoughts and ideas so I’m sure something will pop up. But at this point there’s nothing definite set.

Me: Mark, is drawing a hobby of yours or a full time job? You seem pretty busy, sir.

Mark: Somewhere in the middle, actually; I haven’t been able to get up the nerve to give up the security of my day job to devote everything to drawing, but I do try to keep a professional attitude and treat it like a part time job.

Me: Okay, for the Phile readers that want to check out your artwork and everything, where should they go to?

Mark: They can find links to all of the comics over at or

Me: I wish you a lot of luck, and I hope to see Zortic and his friends on the big screen one day.

Mark: Thank you, it’s been fun.

There, I think it worked out okay. Sorry this entry has no "...In History" but there's only so much I can do. Anyway, thanks for reading, and thanks to Mark Mekkes for a great interview and being so patient. Like I said, he was supposed to be on the Phile back in April. The Phile will be back next Thursday as we kick off the second annual Alumni Month with Graham Parker. Graham Parker, people! I am so excited. Hopefully I'll be back on my computer next week as well. Until then, spread the word, not the turd, don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye love you, bye.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pheaturing Mark Edlitz

We be back! Welcome to the Phile. So, did you miss me? I was in New York last week and had a great time. Saw Cheap Trick and Squeeze at Radio City Music Hall, sat in Jimmy Fallon's rehearsal, and the day I went up there George Steinbrenner died and the day I flew back they found a ship at Ground Zero. Steinbrenner turned the New York Yankees from a $10 million franchise to a billion-dollar franchise. His secret was the $9 hot dog. It was so hot in New York City I thought my plane was going to land in the Hudson just to cool off. The YMCA is changing their name to just “The Y” and people are like “What?” And by people, I mean the Village People. Marvel Studios is looking for a new actor to play the Hulk. It’s hard because it has to be a normal person that can change to a scary monster with an anger problem. Mel Gibson is available. Sir Paul McCartney had demanded that a hamburger joint in England remove pictures of The Beatles because he’s a vegetarian. He also demanded that they let Ringo keep his job flipping burgers. A rancher in Texas has apparently captured the mythical Chupacabra. It’s a hairy beast that stalks the night in Texas. It’s like Chuck Norris but less kicky. I don’t know where Chupacabra comes from. I don’t know where chimichangas come from either.
Some people think the Chupacabra originates in Mexico because all of the sightings have been along the border states, except for Arizona, because they don’t carry papers. Rumors are that Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston are going to film a reality show. Sarah Palin says she can’t wait to start shooting, but that’s totally unrelated. Apparently BP’s containment cap is leaking. When asked if the rumors are true, a BP spokesman said, “Aren’t there any more Mel Gibson tapes?” There are reports that Mel Gibson is moving back to Australia and Australians aren’t happy with that. They’re like, “Why do you think we sent him to you in the first place?” If Mel does go to Australia, he better be careful, because a kangaroo will punch him back. Lindsay Lohan has been sent to jail. Hollywood always makes movies about women’s prisons. I bet the real women’s prisons are not like Hollywood’s versions. When the lights go out there probably aren’t pillow fights. I think we should turn Alcatraz into a prison for celebrities. It would be like some sort of pop-culture zoo. Lindsay went to the coolest jail, of course... there’s a line that wraps around the block to get in. When I was in New York I learned they want to build a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center. If you put a mosque there, there’s no way terrorists will blow it up. If I was in charge, I would put a mosque on top of every building in America. There’s a new computer program that can delete all mentions of your ex from your Facebook page. The program is called, “your new girlfriend.” When I was in NYC I saw a weird poster in the subway. It's not an inspirational poster, but I thought it was worth sharing. Check it out.
And now, from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Ten Ways Mel Gibson Can Improve His Image
10. Stop making calls.
9. Join cast of "Glee" as racist with the beautiful voice.
8. Introduce adorable sidekick, Pepe the Koala.
7. Find Bin Laden.
6. Have ESPN special to announce which rehab facility he'll be entering.
5. Give out free gum to everyone in America.
4. Remind people his approval rating is still higher than BP's Tony Hayward.
3. Get named People Magazine's "Sexiest Bigot Alive".
2. Release his racist recordings on iTunes.
And the number one way Mel Gibson can improve his image...
1. He's an Academy Award-winning director... direct himself to be an asshole.

Ralph Houk
August 9, 1919 - July 21, 2010
Totally out.
George Steinbrenner
July 4, 1930 - July 13, 2010
For the duration of the season, Yankee players will all wear a million dollars on their sleeves as a sign of respect.

A bald, Euro supervillain named Gru (Steve Carell impersonating Tommy Wiseau), with his sights set on stealing the moon, finds himself in midlife crisis. A younger, well-connected supervillain named Vector (Jason Segel) just upstaged Gru by stealing an Egyptian pyramid and the aging Gru can't get funding from the Evil Bank to finance his own wrongdoing. Meanwhile three adorable orphan girls further complicate Gru's life by threatening to turn his heart soft like a kitten, which would ruin his misanthropy and potentially kill off his career for good. These are the pitfalls of single parenting. I hope this movie can emerge from the shadow of Toy Story 3 and find its own audience. Because while it's not as rich an experience as you get from the Pixar people, it's pretty great in its own off-kilter way. Instead of a bad guy coming in to intervene in the hero's story, the bad guy is the hero and delivers charmingly wicked Addams Family-inspired lines like this... To his new daughters at bedtime: "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite. There are literally thousands of them. And there's probably something in your closet." To a neighbor who apologizes for dog poop in Gru's yard by telling Gru that dogs go wherever they want to go: "Unless they're dead." In other words, black-clad parents who take their kids to Bats Day at Disneyland are going to love this. I loved the little yellow Minions, those verging-on-annoying marketing hooks are actually hilarious supporting characters, a mashup of the acrobat insects from A Bug's Life and the spacemen from Toy Story. I am not a fan, however, of the promotional gimmick where you download an app to your phone that translates the Minions' credits-roll gibberish into English. We're already on an infuriatingly slippery slope with people wantonly using their phones during movies and this is a bad marketing idea for which someone should be punished, preferably with the Fart Gun invention from this very film. If you can see it in 3D then do so. It's bright and clean and visually aggressive, so it feels meant to be that way, especially for the moment when they all ride a crazy steep rollercoaster. From 1 to 10 it gets a 9, and I can see myself buying this movie on blu-ray. And now for another review.

Nerdo Jay Baruchel finds out he's a sorcerer and has to be trained to use his powers wisely. Also, as usual in movies about this sort of hero's journey, he has to save the world from evil sorcerers bent on destruction. Nicolas Cage is the boss of the good sorcerers and becomes Jay's mentor, but he's actually the kind of crappy mentor who's got jokes and wants to bro it up more than he wants to mentor you. Consequently the kid is always in some kind of danger. Then, on schedule, like an efficient on-time subway, comes the big showdown. It'll mostly make you wonder how brutally the people at Disney are kicking themselves for not watching that old Mickey Mouse-meets-dancing-mops segment in Fantasia and thinking up all this Harry Potter stuff first. As an object to look at and be zoomed along in like an amusement park ride--which is all it's meant to be--this movie is pretty much more of the summery same. All the digital effects, all the stuff transforming into other stuff, all the battles, you've seen them before and you've felt them more urgently. But it's still not a miserable failure, just copycattish. The shoehorned-in scene where Baruchel finds himself overwhelmed by mops, even though it has no narrative reason to exist, is more fun to watch than the rest of the film. Then they go away. but it's enough to make you wish the mops had just been the whole movie, Snow White-style, with names like Soapy and Buckethead. Let's say that, like me, you're a fan of the insane detours Nicolas Cage's career takes, no matter what those detours look like. You'll only get a little of the man you know and love this time around. Not that he's not in the movie a lot; he very much is. But aside from a few nervy line readings, like when he shouts "I CAN READ MINDS!" at Baruchel or cannonballs the word "ILLUUUUUUSIONS" all crazy-like, mostly this is more like a National Treasure movie than it's like, say, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. And he covers up his wildly entertaining hair with a weird ugly hat. Bummer. Anyway, from 1 to 10, it also gets a 9 and I think I will get it on blu-ray.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin makes off with the town's rats and children.
Roanoke, the colony founded by Sir Walter Raleigh, is found to be missing.
John Dillinger is killed by the FBI at the Biograph Cinema in Chicago. After seeing this picture, many people come to believe that he must have possessed an enormous schlong. Actually, it is his arm in rigor mortis. (A competing theory holds that this is not Dillinger at all, but some patsy chosen because of the FBI's inability to capture the gangster.)
91 people are killed in Jerusalem, when the Jewish terror group Irgun bombs the British administrative headquarters, located in the King David Hotel.
Tracy Edwards escapes from Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment, handcuffs still attached. After being summoned to the scene, Milwaukee police encounter the partial remains of 11 previous victims. Dahmer is ultimately charged with 15 murders.
In court, O.J. pleads "absolutely, 100% not guilty" of savagely killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

This is the 10th book in the Peverett Phile Book Club...

It's available from and the author Mark Mekkes will be a guest on the Phile next week.

Today's guest is documentary filmmaker Mark Edlitz whose new film Jedi Junkies just came out on DVD and is available at or you can download it off from iTunes. It's a film about the world's most dedicated Star Wars fans. From lightsaber wielding martial arts academies to a filmmaker who built the world's only life-size Millennium Falcon, from a Monster Garage-esque sculptor whose professional livelihood is building custom lightsabers to metal-bikini wearing dancers who embody Slave Leia, the film offers viewers a rare glimpse into rabid fans' personal and professional self expression that borders on obsession. Please welcome to the Phile... Mark Edlitz.

Me: Hello, Mark, welcome to the Phile. So, I have to ask, what was your goal of Jedi Junkies?

Mark: The goal of the movie was to find out what made hardcore Star Wars fans tick. To see why they/we/I spend so much time thinking about Star Wars. Why we spend some much time watching the movies, reading the books, buying the toys, dressing up in costumes and going to conventions.

Me: When did you first get the idea you wanted to make Jedi Junkies? That's a great name by the way.

Mark: You want the short answer or the long one? The short answer is that I knew I wanted to make a film about a subject that I both loved and knew a lot about. And that's how Jedi Junkies came about. The longer answer is that 10 years ago I made another film called "The Eden Myth". Had a great experience making it. But it was very hard to get a second film off the ground. Between then and now I did a bunch of jobs in entertainment. Everything from writting for "reality TV" to working as an assistant. I really wanted to make another movie and I wanted it to be fun. And what could be more fun than Star Wars?

Me: How long did it take for you to work on it?

Mark: Me and my buddy Jerry Kolber have been working on it for four years. Four... very... long... years. It took a while to shoot it and then almost as long to edit it. Stephen Walker is the editor of Jedi Junkies and he really gave the movie shape and focus.

Me: Was it hard to get funding, Mark?

Mark: Impossible. Didn't even try. I paid for most of the movie by myself. I have a day job. So, during the day I would work. And at night and on weekends I would make the movie.

Me: I am 41 years old and remmebr seeing Star Wars when it first came out. Were you born when the original movie came out? Did you become a lifelong fan as soon as you saw it?

Mark: I've been a fan of Star Wars since I first saw it in the movie theater in 1977. Ever since then I've been hooked.

Me: Do you have a favorite Star Wars film?

Mark: That's actually one of the questions that we ask in the film. And it's fun to watch people debate it. We also have a section where fans debate "Who Shot First; Han or Greedo" Another question we asked is "Who Would Win in a Fight: Vader vs Mual". Ray Park weighed in on that one! But to answer you questions my favorite Star Wars film is Empire Strikes Back. I've seen all of the films in the original trilogy more times that I care to admit.

Me: I used to be a die-hard fan, but as I got older I grew out of it pretty quick. Do you see that happening to you? There's some REAL die-hard fans out there who will never grow out of loving those films.

Mark: Your question just made me think about the line in Phantom Menace about bringing balance to the force. For me, it's about balance. I'm a die-hard fan. Absolutely. But I know how to balance my love and appreciation of the films with my real life. In Jedi Junkies we tried to show a whole spectrum of fans. Some go a little overboard. Or a lot overboard. One fan we profile in the film had so many toys that he had to get rid of his bed. And I figured that we'd basically tell some version of that story over and over again. Basically extreme fans doing extreme things. But as I met more and more fans I discovered something really important. These fans are taking their love of Star Wars and baesd on their own particular interests, they are creating something new and different. So, filmmakers (like Dennis Ward) are making Star Wars inspired movies. Musicians (like AeroSith) are making Star Wars inspired songs. Crafts people and fine artists (like R.J. Iannaccone at Advance Light Weaponary) are making their own lighsabers. And costume designers (like Candy Keane) are creating their own clothes. By the way, Candy is also a model and she's featured in her Slave Leia outfit on our poster.

Me: You interviewed and have some interesting people on the documentary, Mark. How'd you meet them. How'd you hear about them?

Mark: At first we met people just by using social networking sites like My Space, and even Craig's List. (Now we're on Facebook under JediJunkies.) I'd also go to conventions and just introduce myself to people. Once we got started people would let us know about other Star Wars fans. For example, we were interviewing one fan from Denmark who came to New York to buy Star Wars toys. He told me about this guy who built a life size Millenium Falcon in his backyard. I couldn't believe it. It sounded too incredible to be true. Like an urban myth. Then I found out who it was and reached out to him. And he couldn't have been nicer. It turned out he a great (even practical) reason for building the Falcon. And when you hear the story behind it, it makes absolute sense!

Me: Tell the Phile readers about the other fans you interviewed.

Mark: We interviewed a lot of women who like to dress up as Slave Leia. And we, of course, spoke with Jamin who runs a site devoted exclusively to the cult of Slave Leia. So, there are a lot of interviews with very pretty women dressed up as Slave Leia. We also spoke with a toy collector who has so many Star Wars toys that he doesn't even room for his bed. He had so many toys he had to make a choice -- the bed or his toys. The toys won. And then there's Ed Sanchez -- the director of Blair Witch Project. He shows us his killer collection. Really amazing. He's also good at putting together intricate Lego Star Wars sets -- like the Death Star. What's fun about Ed's collection is that so much of it is out of the box and on display. He hangs his space ships on the ceiling so they look like they are flying and fighting each other. Besides the super-fans we were lucky enough to get a few actors from the movies including Ray Park (Darth Maul), Peter Bulloch (Boba Fett) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca.) Which was a thrill for us. We gave Ray Park a light saber and he demonstrated just how cool he is at handling them!

Me: By the way, I am fucking jealous. How on Earth did you get so lucky and get to interview Olivia Munn? Man oh man. You get props there, my friend. I didn't realize she was such a big Star Wars fan?

Mark: Isn't Olivia Munn great? Everyone knows that how funny and sexy she is. She is. Just a fact. But she's also very sweet and nice and kind. She was so very generous to agree to be in our film. And she's a huge Star Wars fan. In Jedi Junkies she tells a great story about how watching the film with her family was a bonding exerience.

Me: What are people saying about the film?

Mark: I'm really happy with the response we're getting. The two biggest comments are that it's "very funny" and very "respectful" to the fans. That was important to us.

Me: Okay, Mark, go ahead and plug your website.

Mark: People can go to to get the film. They can buy it or rent it on iTunes and Amazon. It's only $2.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy. Which is a pretty good deal if you ask me.

Me: Mark, thanks so much for doing this interview. You are welcome to come onto the Phile any time you want.

Mark: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. We are small little film wihtout any budget for press. So, really the only way to get the word out is for websites like yours to be kind enough to talk with us. The film is made by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans about Star Wars fans.

Me: I wish you a lot of luck with this project and I wish you continued success. May the Force be with you.

Mark: Thanks a lot. Was my pleasure. May the Force be with you too!

Man, that was a long entry. Thanks to Mark Edlitz for a great interview and to Wikipedia and of course you for reading. The Phile will be back next Thursday with Book Club author Mark Mekkes and then in August we kick off the second annual Alumni Month with the one and only Graham Parker. Spread the word, not the turd, don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye love you bye.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pheaturing Bob Ludwig

Hello, and welcome to the Phile, continuing the Most Phantastic Summer Ever. How are you? So, did you have a good July 4th? People always ask where I was for my first Fourth of July and I say, “at home, in diapers.” We don’t really have the Fourth of July in Britain, it goes straight from the third to the fifth. I did hear July 4 in Boston is nuts. It’s basically like Saint Patrick’s Day with explosives. Economists say that a college degree may not be necessary to succeed in life. I didn’t have a degree and here I am, working for a Mouse for 20 plus years. Seriously, kids, go to college. BP executives are saying that Hurricane Alex has rendered their clean-up efforts completely useless. In other words, nothing has changed. Larry King announced his retirement. In my eyes, Larry King really is a king. But I also think Wolf Blitzer is a wolf. So, last week Logan and I went to see The Last Airbender movie and I couldn't believe they were selling inspirational posters about it. Take a look...

With the World Cup going on still, I was thinking the other day what would make the World Cup more interesting... or British football more interesting. And then I came up with it. Check it out.

As I mentioned just now, my son Logan and I went to see The Last Airbender last week. So, here is another movie review.

In a fantasy world consisting of four nations: Earth, Air, Fire and Water, only the Fire people are really doing well. And that's because they set everyone on fire. And the Avatar, who's the only guy who can "bend" and control all the elements, has gone missing for a hundred years. But then, boom, he's back, in the form of a worried-face kid, understandable, since it's sort of his fault that the whole world's gone to hell in his absence, with a tattooed forehead who is also the last person who can bend air, which he does via a kind of silly slow-motion disco tai chi. He has also somehow resurrected that giant horned otter/dog thing from The NeverEnding Story to ride around on too, which was kind of him. So, this is a kid's movie that doesn't seem to realize that it's a kid's movie. It moves slowly and solemnly and only comes alive in the way that kids enjoy in fits and starts. The last bit of this movie is sort of rousing, which will make its target demo happy enough to say they enjoyed themselves. Only later in life will all the little kids in the theater I was at today re-watch this on TV and think, "I used to like this crap?"
How it's different from that other movie M. Night Shyamalan made about air? In this one the air isn't chasing people and killing them, it's just making them doze off. I did. Twice. Thankfully I had Logan to elbow me back into wakefulness. And about that post-racial casting... On the one hand, the original animated TV show is set in a fantasy world where everything is sort of Asian-y yet non-specific, so you might attempt to argue that anyone or any race could be in the movie. On the other hand, they specifically chose white people to be in this and they deserve to be called out for it, even if Shyamalan himself isn't Caucasian. We saw it in 3 D but should of just saw in it 2D as it didn't have any cool effects. And I'm tired of 3D movies. Logan loved it because he's a big fan of the cartoon and me? I hope they don't make a sequel. I give it a 5 out of 10, and won't be getting it on DVD on blu-ray but I bet Logan will get it when it comes out.

Tod Browning's groundbreaking horror movie Freaks, featuring genuine carnival sideshow performers, premieres at the Rialto theater in New York. The film opens to critical outrage, and is later banned by the British government for 30 years.
Former President Richard M. Nixon is disbarred by the New York Bar Association. Nixon attempted to resign voluntarily, as he had from the California and U.S. Supreme Court bars, but New York refused to accept his resignation unless he acknowledged that he had obstructed justice during the Watergate coverup.
Kitty Dukakis, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Governor Michael Dukakis, reveals that she was formerly addicted to amphetamines. Kitty waits until after the November election to acknowledge her raging alcoholism, however.
Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, publicly apologizes to his children's babysitter, with whom he had a five year relationship starting when she was age 14. The local district attorney declines to press charges, but Kennedy winds up dead in an apparent skiing accident five months later.

This is the 10th book in the Peverett Phile Book Club. It's available at and Mark Mekkes will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Today's guest is an American mastering engineer who is a well known and respected figure within the music industry. His craftsmanship is appreciated within the music profession, as testified by his extensive credits and demand for his work. His name is credited on the covers of albums released across the world, and he has won numerous awards. I gather he has worked on over 2000 albums. This is a huge honor, please welcome to the Phile... Mr. Bob Ludwig.

Me: Hello, Bob, welcome to the Phile. As I mentioned you must have worked on thousands of albums. Do you know how many you have worked on and do you actually get to meet the artists whose albums you mastered?

Bob: I usually do an album a day (plus singles, TV tracks, Instrumental tracks etc.) and I would say that one or two days a week are attended on average. Usually it is the producer or engineer who comes, so when an album is produced or co-produced by the artist, they often come. Bruce Springsteen has attended every album he has ever done while some artists never attend, it all depends. When I opened Gateway Mastering Studios in 1993 my business plan called for half the artists who attended in New York coming to Portland, Maine, but up until 9-11 we had many more artists attend then in New York. Since the recession and the collapse of the record industry there isn’t as much money for the travel budget as there used to be.

Me: For the Phile readers who don't know, can you explain what mastering is?

Bob: There are no musicians or microphones at our facility. Mastering is the final step in the record making chain. We determine the final sound of the CD or download you buy. The purpose of mastering is to maximize the musicality inherent in the mix we are given from the mix engineer. The non-classical albums are recorded with many tracks, it is mixed down to 2 or 6 for surround, then the question is asked, does it sound as good as it can possibly sound. Lucky for us there is usually something (or an awful lot) that can be done to add the final touch to the performance. Also, the mastering stage is often the place the editing for the final sequence of songs, the removal of unwanted noises or hiss, final fades determined plus other tasks. Once everything is artistically done and approved we remove our creative hat and put on our technician’s hat for quality controlling what was done and creating the master that will be sent in for CD replication or sent to iTunes for downloads. It is where the barcode and ISRC #s are put on and it is all very exacting.

Me: How did you first become an engineer? Was it something you wanted to do as a kid?

Bob: Ever since I was 8 I had a tape recorder, no biggie today, but unusual when I was young! I always loved pushing the record button, I still love it today. When I was in high school I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go into engineering or music. We had a supurb music program in our school (thank you Sonia, Allan and Walter!). Mr. Bramson, one of my teachers talked me into trying to get into the Eastman School of Music to continue my Trumpet playing and learn to be a music teacher. Of course, as soon as it was allowed I got a gig in the school’s recording department and recorded countless student and faculty recitals

Me: Do you actually play any instruments yourself?

Bob: I don’t think non-musicians should be mastering engineers. I was certainly not the best trumpet player at Eastman, but I did get a job as the Principle Trumpet for the Utica Symphony Orchestra. I accomplished a dream I had for a long time which was to play the high piccolo trumpet part on the incredible Bach B minor Mass. While at the Utica Symphony, the job came up and we played a few performances of it, it was even broadcast on the radio. After I completed my goal I was ready to move into engineering as a career.

Me: Are their any albums you mastered that you thought you couldn't wait for the job to be over? And on the flip side are there any records that you really loved working on?

Bob: Usually the music I work on is of very high quality and I can always admire a great performance or great production values. Of course there is some music I don’t like but I always give those projects 120% so I am positive I haven’t short-changed anyone. Our company slogan is “perfect is good enough”. So I seldom have a problem mastering a record, but there are some projects I have done with about 14 sets of revisions where one wishes the artist and producer would just get organized and make up their minds!! A project like that they just keep changing their minds and it costs them way more than it should have if they were origanized and willing to commit to a decision. I love a big selection of records I work on, I am extremely privileged. Who couldn’t love, Peter Wolf, The Band, Led Zeppelin, Steve Reich, Jimi Hendrix, Hall & Oates, Rush, The Rolling Stones, it goes on and on!

Me: Did you ever turn down a project?

Bob: I’ve turned down a lot of projects simply because my schedule is so full I’m working on weekends already which is a crime in the summertime in Maine.

Me: You're originally from New York, right? Where abouts and do you live there still?

Bob: I was born in Savannah, Georgia but grew up on a lake in beautiful Westchester County north of NY City. When I was an employee at A&R Recording, Sterling Sound and Masterdisk I lived in Riverdale, NY, then Englewood, NJ for a long time, then near Lincoln Center, then near the Ed Sullivan Theater and finally in Mount Vernon, NY before I moved to Portland, Maine. I visit NY whenever I need to go to the opera or some other great performance only found in New York City (as Boston has it’s own amazing symphony and other great concerts).

Me: My dad passed away when mp3's started to come out, so he never got to see iTunes. What do you think of the music industry now where CD's are hard to come by, and most people can just download music?

Bob: Of course CDs are still easy to come by especially when ordered on the net. We have Bullmoose Music in Portland and in other Maine cities. It is a fantastic independent music store that carries lots of music at often better than internet prices (and no shipping charges!) As someone who enjoys very contemporary classical music, the internet has been a fantastic boon, for the first time in my life I can order almost anything I want to hear. Having mastered most all of the original Foghat catalog as well as being a one time co-owner of the ill fated “Boogie Hotel” studio in Long Island that Foghat used to own, I miss your dad. Definitely a one-of-a-kind artist. I am sorry that culturally it became acceptable to steal, mostly through ignorance. However, now I don’t think there are many people who think it is legal to do it. People don’t realize that it is almost impossible to make a living as a producer, engineer or as an artist who does not tour. Even touring is hard to make money for most artists. In short, it is difficult for most artists to make a living in music which is a shame. Records used to have $250,000 budgets, now it is more like $50,000 if that. The days of the incredibly produced million dollar Steely Dan records is gone.

Me: You co-owned Boogie Motel Studios? Did you co-own it with Foghat? Did you go there often? The last time I was there was in '04 and it was some sort of museum or something.

Bob: In 1980-ish Ron, Don, Steve, Jeff and I bought Boogie Hotel in Port Jeff from Foghat and Tony Outeda. I was doing producing at the time as well as mastering and I did this fabulous Long Island Group named Vōg. They were signed to Radmus Productions which was part of radio Luxembourg and their album came out on RCA in Germany. I listen to live tapes of them today and I am still amazed especially by their bass player, Rennie Xosa (a true maniac)... in a good way!!! We were on a limited budget and I thought it might be a good idea to be part of
a studio where I could work for a long while with them fairly cheaply. I found out that owning a business where one is, not only just a partner, but not there 95% of the time and not in any sort of control is a very bad idea. I am the sole owner of Gateway Mastering Studios partially as a result of that!

Me: I know you're a very busy man, and I promised I wouldn't ask you a lot of questions, sir. Before I let you go are you currently working on anything at the moment?

Bob: I’m ALWAYS working on tons of stuff, I’m very lucky. The recent Peter Wolf and Natalie Merchant albums I did and the to-be-released Brian Wilson “Reimagines Gershwin” album are all not to be missed. Mastering engineers are the keepers of artists and record companies secrets. Often we get caught in between the two! So generally, unlike many studios, it isn’t wise for me to talk about unannounced and unreleased material.

Me: Do you have a website or anything you would like to plug?

Bob: is our site. Also check out the Producers and Engineers Wing of The Recording Academy:
Anybody who has been professionally involved with making records should join the Academy. Not only to vote on the Grammy Awards, but they do lots of philanthropic activities and they are VERY concerned with education. A wonderful organization. I confess I was co-chair of the P&E Wing for 5 years!

Me: Any advice you can give to a Phile reader who would love to get into recording?

Bob: Find a local band and find out how to get them to agree you let you record them. Interning at a studio is wonderful if you can find it. At Gateway we can’t allow interns or job shadowing due to security reasons. There are LOTS of BAD recording schools. Find a really good one like the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University, Berklee College, Boston, NESCOM, Bangor, Maine, McGill University, Montreal, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA, University of Miami, just to name a FEW,

Me: Thanks so much, I hope you enjoyed doing this, and thanks for all the hard work you have done. Bob, take care, and I hope to have you on the Phile again one day.

Bob: Thank you, I hope to come back!!

There you go, another entry of the Phile. I will be on vacation next week, I am going to New York City to see Squeeze and Cheap Trick at Radio City Music Hall, so the next entry of the Phile will be in two weeks on July 22nd with film maker Mark Edlitz who has a new documentary out called Jedi Junkies. Then in August we continue the Most Phantastic Summer Ever with the second annual Alumni Month. The first Alumni coming back to the Phile is the one and only Graham Parker. Wait, Graham is here. Graham, do you have anything to plug?

Graham: I guess I'll plug my next gig on July 11th, an open air event in Middletown, NY. It's a benefit for Mental Health. This was booked earlier in the year and despite knowing by then that the World Cup was to begin in June, I did not look down the line a bit to see when the final was. It is of course on July 11th! I'm supposed to be onstage at 5PM, which means I'll be driving to the venue in Orange County Park, Middletown as the final is being played. What a fucking idiot! Despite trying to get the horror of this concept over to my agent nothing seems to have been done and I may well take the stage to one clueless family and a mentally challenge Native American woman who will chant throughout my performance. Come to think of it, last time I played this benefit that was what my audience consisted of, so it's pretty much the same thing except I'll be missing the BLOODY WORLD CUP!!! GRRRRR! So, if you don't care about football, please come and cheers this idiot on.

Um, thanks, Graham. Well, that about wraps it up for another week. Like I said, the Phile will be back in two weeks. Thanks to Bob Ludwig for a great interview, Wikipedia, and of course Graham Parker. Spread the word, not the turd, don't like alligators and snakes bite you. Bye love you, bye.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pheaturing Wishnefsky

Rabbit. It's the first of July and my Grandmother used to say "Rabbit" should be the first thing you say on the first of the month for good luck. Anyway, welcome to the Phile, where we're having the most phantastic Summer ever. Are you still watching the World Cup? I gave up after Germany beat England 4-1. You can't spell FUCK without UK. By the way, they're playing football... not soccer. Anyway, a lot of people asked me what do the color cards mean in the game? A yellow card is a warning, a red card means you have to leave the game, and a green card means you can move to the United States. Tom Cruise’s underpants dancing scene in Risky Business was voted the single greatest scene in film history according to a recent survey of Ricky Martin. I didn’t see Valkyrie because Cruise was playing a Nazi. A heroic Nazi, but still a Nazi. By the way, a heroic Nazi is like an environmentally friendly BP executive. People make fun of Tom Cruise’s height. He’s actually 5-foot-7-inches, which is a reasonable size... for a girl.
Last Friday was the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death and it was also the one-year anniversary of people forgetting that Farrah Fawcett also died on this day. So, a new study found that children are more likely to choose food that comes in packaging with a cartoon on it than without. I never would have figured that. Thanks, Yale. A woman in Colorado crashed her car and claimed that it was because she had hallucinations of vampires. I think that vampire is probably “Count Crackula.” Vice President Joe Biden went down to the Gulf to see the oil spill. Haven’t the people down there suffered enough? Larry King announced via Twitter that after 25 years, he will step away from “Larry King Live.” He said he wants to spend more time with his wife and kids. That’ll fix her. Sunday is July 4, the day America declared independence from the British and their petroleum. If you’re planning to use fireworks this year, it’s important to check local laws and figure out how you can get around them. The third Twilight movie opened. They were predicting it to be the most successful vampire movie since Love at First Bite 2. As I said July 4th is this Sunday and there's already an inspirational poster for it. But I don't get it. Do you?

Okay, I have to admit, the 10th book in the Book Club wasn't supposed to be in the Book Club at all. The author Mark Mekkes was supposed to be on the Phile in April for Artist Month but I ran out of days, and he never made it. Luckily he wrote a book which I will now officially make it the 10th book in the Book Club. It's available at and it's...

Mark will be a guest on the Phile in a few weeks as well.

Permanently disfigured by the terrorist (Malkovich, and yes that's the word they use in this movie set in 1876... more about that in a bit) who also killed his wife and child, Jonah Hex is an antihero who can't seem to die like he's supposed to. Instead he can re-animate the dead and speak to them, employing them as helpful information delivery systems unless he just feels like breathing life into them for a second to remind them that they're dead before he kills them twice. Anyway, as he embarks on a violent quest for revenge he also winds up saving the United States capitol, with help from prostitute pal Megan Fox, from Malkovich's proto-nuclear weapon. That there isn't a giant mechanical spider in this one like they had in Wild Wild West seems like a missed opportunity to pay tribute to another crappy contemporary comic-book-like Western. At 80 minutes long but feeling like 160, you can tell in every frame of this movie that something went horribly wrong. At every turn. With every element. Even my favorite thing, the crushingly heavy score co-created by metal band Mastodon, seems like it was chopped up and removed of all elements that would have made for a unique experience and then left to limp along on its own. Worse, this film was written by the guys who created the awesome Crank movies. You can feel it straining to be wild, to be irreverent, to be bold and gut-kicking, but someone with the power to do so muzzled and ruined it. Bummer. It had a horrible animated opening, cheap effects, stupid attempts at analogous Al Qaeda and contemporary terrorism references, inconsistent scar makeup on Josh Brolin, an onslaught of bloodless PG-13 deaths, hatefully boring chemistry between Brolin and Megan Fox (who wanders through the entire film sweaty and half-asleep), joyless jokes followed by references to earlier joyless jokes in which Brolin says stuff like, "I'm all outta wise-ass [comments]," which will in turn make you think to yourself, "Somebody said something wise-assy before this? Was I napping? Getting popcorn?" It's enough to make you want to kill the film reels, bring them back to life and then kill them again. What I did like was Megan Fox breaking through the surface of the water even thought it was like 3 seconds and where a crow living in Jonah Hex's throat pops out and flies away. It makes no sense, but it looks cool. Who would want tos ee it, apart from myself and Logan? Comic book nerds spoiling for a fight, Civil War re-enactors, vintage men's facial hair enthusiasts and anyone who wonders if Will Arnett can keep a straight face while saying his lines. He does. There, I just saved you guys the price of a ticket. Logan loved it, I give it a four and I will probably refrain from buying it when it comes out.

Robert Byrd
November 20, 1917 - June 28, 2010
Now, the early worm can get the Byrd.

Feast of the Most Precious Blood, celebrating the blood shed during Christ's Passion and reassumed into His body at Resurrection. Yum!
The date proposed by Churchill for the start of WWIII, where U.S. and British forces were to meet Russian forces in Poland with a two pronged attack, using 47 divisions. It would have been a terrible mistake to attempt what both Napoleon and Adolf Hitler failed to accomplish.
Atomic Bomb testing begins, using the Nagasaki-type implosion bomb, at Bikini Atoll.
Mary Reeser spontaneously combusts in St. Petersburg, Florida, after taking a couple of sleeping pills and settling down with a lit cigarette.
Michael Landon, star of I Was a Teenage Werewolf, dies of pancreatic cancer just three months after its initial diagnosis.
Gian Luigi Ferri steps into the San Francisco law offices of Pettit & Martin at 101 California Street with two full-auto TEC-DC9s and a .45 semiauto pistol. In the span of four minutes, Ferri kills 8 and wounds 6 others before blowing his brains out. Almost as quickly, the victims' families file suit against Intratec, the manufacturer of the TEC-9, as well as the owner of the Las Vegas pawn shop where he bought one of them.
The body of Margeaux Hemingway is found in her Santa Monica, California apartment after the actress apparently overdosed on Phenobarbital.

Today's guest is a composer/musician/singer who founded the alternative band Jabberwock in the early 90s. Now he is going solo and making some damned pretty good music. His new album "Idiot Proof" is now available at iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Wishnefsky.

Me: Hello, welcome to the Peverett Phile. So, is Wishnefsky your first or last name?

Wishnefsky: Many thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here. Wishnefsky was the original surname of my father’s family in Russia. When my great-grandparents came through Ellis Island, the name was changed and Americanized – a common story in those times, especially for Jews. I learned of the name around the time my old band Jabberwock was formed and adopted it as my music pseudonym. My great-grandfather, by the way, was the Czar’s pastry chef and ended up baking at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC. Unfortunately, however, none of that culinary talent was passed down - unless you count burning toast, for which I have a prodigious talent.

Me: It sounded Russian. Where are you from?

Wishnefsky: I’m your basic American mutt. As you now know, my father is of Russian descent. My maternal grandpa was a tall blue-eyed Irishman and my maternal grandma was a short blue-eyed German. My Irish grandfather’s family is the genetic source of my musical inclinations. His aunt used to improvise organ music in movie theatres over silent films. I would LOVE to do that, especially if I had never seen the movie. I was born and raised in LA, though we lived in Pennsylvania for a few years when I was a kid. My parents were divorced and remarried, so I was moved around a lot – kind of like an army brat, except the war was between my parents. I’m overselling that – they never tried to kill each other, at least not outside of the courtroom. They actually get along swimmingly now and have for years. I’m still trying to get over it, nonetheless. Years of psychotherapy and songwriting have helped, though not necessarily in that order.

Me: How is it living in South Pasadena? Do you get a lot of fires in your area?

Wishnefsky: South Pas is like a small mid west town stuck in the middle of the greater LA metropolitan area. Perfect for kids. Lots of smart people live here and work at nearby Cal Tech and JPL. Our next door neighbor leads the Mars lander mission. My younger daughter is in the same elementary school class with his genius son. She throws unsolved Rubic’s Cubes over the fence and he throws them back - solved - two minutes later. I’m basically the village idiot.
No fires in South Pas (unless you count burning toast). However, lots of fires in other parts of LA and they’re a huge problem. Besides the obvious tragic stuff, like people losing their house and all their possessions, there are terrible mudslides as soon as it rains on the burned out hills. For such a beautiful place, it’s essentially disaster central.

Me: Tell me about your first band Jabberwock. You must be a Lewis Carrol fan. When did Jabberwock form and split up?

Wishnefsky: Jabberwock was born in the early 90s when I started working on material with drummer Dave Rodgers, bassist Rod Clark, and keyboardist Todd Jameson. Rod is an incredible musician, but we ended up splitting apart from him. I played bass on our recordings and we would bring in a guest bassist for live shows. The idea was to combine our eclectic tastes into something original. During the early days, we discovered that Rod and Todd could both recite the Jabberwocky poem by heart, and because we couldn’t think up anything else better, that became our name. Yes, I am a fan of Lewis Carroll – absolutely brilliant stuff.
Bob Ezrin, the guy who produced the Wall and a bunch of other great records, loved our band but absolutely detested the name Jabberwock. He begged us to change it. We had a studio set up in a friend’s garage in Van Nuys and recorded a ton of songs from around 1991 until 1997, many of which were never released. Michael James mixed almost all of our stuff and was a great sonic mentor for the band. We released the CD "Southland" in 1994. We released an EP called "Wishful Sinking" in 1996. We were about to release our second CD "Letterbomb" when we broke up in 1997 or so. Even though we are not back together, we released "Letterbomb" in 2007 and posted a bunch of unreleased songs on the Lost Dog website. There’s a lot more info about Jabberwock (and my other work) at Was that a shameless plug? Most likely it was.

Me: You play everything in the band, right? Do you have a band for the road though?

Wishnefsky: Yes, it’s just me in my studio at present. I’m a bit of a control freak. I like being stranded on my little artistic island. I am joined by guest artists on occasion. I was lucky enough to have Eric Sands play a great fretless part on a song on "SinTax". Michael James played guitar on a few tracks on "SinTax". He is playing a lot of guitar on the next record. I’ll tell you more about Sophie Wellen in a second. I do not have a live band at the moment. I do want to start playing live again. I’m thinking of doing an acoustic album next, so I may play some solo acoustic gigs. Obviously the logistics and finances are easier. If the demand and fiscal wherewithal materialize, I’d love to do a more elaborate show.

Me: Who is Sophie Warren? She does backing vocals for you, which are nice. Does she have her own band?

Wishnefsky: Thanks! Sophie is my daughter and has a great voice, he said with fatherly pride. She is also a good songwriter and we have been working on some songs together. She is in the Children’s Choir at the Colburn School of Performing Arts and is performing with the LA Opera next month. She is 13 and, like every kid, has a zillion things going on. So she’s not in a band. She’s not quite ready for that level of insanity.

Me: I purchased both your albums on iTunes... "Sin Tax" and "Use Your Words". Are you working on an album this year?

Wishnefsky: Thank you! I really appreciate your support. I hope you enjoy the records.
Michael James and I mixed the next Wishnefsky record, entitled "Idiot Proof". I’m quite excited about it. It’s more guitar driven and organic than the first two records, but there are still synths and electronic parts going on. Mike did some killer guitar parts.

Me: Who did the fish cover for "Use Your Words"? I don't like fish but like that album cover.

Wishnefsky: You and me both. I don’t have any particular affinity for slimy things that breathe through gills, but I do love great visual art. The cover is a painting done by a very talented student at a local art school. My wife bought the painting and unfortunately lost the artist’s name! I really wish I knew because the Unknown Artist deserve kudos and I’d love to see more of his/her work.

Me: You worked with Michael James who also worked with Hole, Jane's Addiction and the New Radicals. Did he have any good stories for you?

Wishnefsky: Oh yes, he has stories which, unfortunately, I can’t repeat for fear of violating a host of privacy and obscenity laws, not to mention getting Mike in deep shit. Courtney Love is really something and we’ll leave it at that. That answer kind of sucked. I’ll ask Mike if anything can be shared publicly.

Me: What ever happened to the New Radicals anyway?

Wishnefsky: No idea. I’ll ask Mike.

Me: Tell me about Veneer. What does that mean, and who is in that band with you? What do you like better, being in a band or being solo?

Wishnefsky: Veneer is the name for my piano based projects. According to (great website), one definition of “veneer” is “a superficially valuable or pleasing appearance: a cruel person with a veneer of kindliness.” In my book, that is quite an apt name for a band based in LA. After Jabberwock broke up, I wanted to do something that sounded a lot different. So I wrote a bunch of songs on the piano. I recorded a few of them with some of the Jabberwock musicians (Dave, our live bassist Archie Frugone, and our live guitarist Steve Bock). That was the first Veneer project. In 06-07, I recorded a second batch of Veneer songs, which became the album On That Note. I have another batch of piano songs that will turn into another Veneer album when I get sick of doing Wishnefsky projects. I would also like to record a piano-based, 90 minute, rock opera entitled "The Traitor" which I wrote when I was a teenager.

Me: Okay, sir, go ahead and plug your website or anything else. I enjoy your music and wish you all the luck. Peace.

Wishnefsky: First, thank you very much for taking the time to interview me. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Great questions. Many thanks for your support and best of luck to you. Okay, plug time. Please check out and www.myspace. com/wishnefsky. There is plenty of free music to stream and lots of info about my projects. Please feel free to join my email list. I enjoy corresponding with music fans and striking up new cyber-friendships. Peace and love.

That just about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Wikipedia and of course Wishnefsky. Next week's guest is someone who has a name you might've read a thousand times. If you have a CD or an album, chances are his name is on the back of the sleeve somewhere. Mastering engineer Bob Ludwig will be next week's guest. And like I said, chances are he mastered some of your favorite albums. I am now gonna go gave lunch, and Logan and I are going to go see The Last Airbender. Airbender... that's what I call my farts. Anyway, thanks for reading, spread the word not the turd, don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye love you bye.