Monday, December 30, 2013

Pheaturing Mark Lassiter

Hey there, and welcome to the Phile, the last entry of the year. How are you? Man, the year flew by, didn't it? It did for me.  So, yesterday I told you two stories that happened on Christmas. I hope your Christmas was better than those stories. I have another one that I hope was better than yours as well. A South Carolina woman was arrested and charged with domestic abuse on Christmas day after she used a ceramic squirrel to bludgeon and stab her husband because he apparently failed to return home with the case of beer he was supposed to buy. And while we can certainly blame the wife in this situation, we must ask ourselves what the odds are that this would have happened if the husband were carrying his own rodent figurine. This is why it's so important to protect whichever amendment it is that grants us the right to carry ceramic squirrels.  A herd of wild teenagers stampeded through the Kings Plaza Shopping Center in Brooklyn on Thursday, causing mass chaos for terrified adults, damaging property and "making trouble." Some teen experts believe that the unruly crowd was attempting to migrate to the mall under the mistaken belief that they would see the rapper Fabolous, who is apparently a real thing. France has officially instituted a "millionaire tax" of 50% on any income above 1 million euros ($1.38 million), thus infuriating the nation's top earners, who will now theoretically have no reason to try to make money other than the fact that there's no chance in the world that they're going to stop trying to make money.  It turns out that members of al Qaeda are not only depraved, fundamentalist, murderous monsters, but also nitpicky, penny-pinching, bottom line-driven monsters. According to new reports, the terrorist organization is really into collecting receipts and documenting expenses for even really small things, like a jar of mustard or a canister of mustard gas. And just when you thought you couldn't like them any less. A&E Networks has announced that it will be allowing "Duck Dynasty's" Phil Robertson to return from from the "indefinite hiatus" he's been on for the past several weeks... following some homophobic and racist comments he made during a magazine interview during which time the show was not actually filming any episodes, thus achieving the company's apparent goal of looking weak and silly to people on both side of the controversy. DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed on "Duck Dynasty" are not necessarily those of A&E, unless they are about profiting at any cost.  A federal judge has ruled that the classic detective stories of Arthur Conan Doyle may now enter the public domain. This means that anyone may use Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson and all other characters from the stories for whatever reasons they see fit, without having to pay Doyle's estate. This is great news for fans of terrible, terrible writing writing.  People will go to great lengths to get out of a bad date. Make up a family emergency. Get a friend to call pretending to be work. Fake an illness. But 24 year old Siyah Brown wins the award for most dramatic exit from a bad date. Apparently, Brown was on a date with another man a few days ago and around 4:20 am when their car ran out of gas on the New Jersey Turnpike. But wait! It gets weirder. The reason Brown, a crossdresser who was wearing women's red pants and a sweater at the time, decided to jump ship was that his date had called in a third guy to bring them fuel. For some reason, that weirded Brown out enough to take off. Brown scaled a fence protected by "cameras, sensors, and barbed wire" and crossed over two runways before an airline official caught him. Don't worry: airport officials are investigating the breach in security. Have a good flight home, everyone!  I was just about convinced that all high school students do anymore is cyberbully each other using forms of social media that I will never understand, and then this story popped up. Like it was the freaking '60s or something, students at Eastside Catholic High School in Seattle walked out of class a week or so ago one morning to protest the forced resignation of their vice principal Mark Zmuda. Zmuda has been working as a teacher and administrator at the school... and connected middle school for the last 13 years. When the administration found out he married his same-sex partner Dana Jergens in July, they asked Zmuda to leave. Word of the protest, which involved over 400 students, spread via Twitter at #KeepMrZ2013 and Facebook to other schools, leading students at other Catholic schools in the area to hold sit-ins of their own in solidarity. Luckily, it's the time of year when most teachers are just playing Home Alone on the projector and trying to get through the end of the week, so there was plenty of time for protesting. Students also started a petition on urging the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to reverse the Church's position on gay marriage. It has over 12,000 signatures. Though gay marriage is legal in the state of Washington, Zmuda signed a contract when he began working at Eastside agreeing to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, which even though the pope is super cool and humble and shit, still includes a condemnation of gay marriage. Mike Patterson, a spokesman for the school, says it was ultimately the decision of the Archdiocese of Seattle to let Zmuda go once his same-sex marriage came to light. Of all the tweets of appreciation and support, this one is by far my favorite:

High School, y'all.  Did you see that UFC fight where Anderson Silva broke his leg? Well, I didn't. I know nothing about UFC, or Anderson Silva, so I thought I'd look into this whole thing considering it's news and this is what I found.

I don't know if that's funny or not.  So, my son got "Call of Duty 3" for Christmas and I was looking at the cover and I noticed something...

He's facing the wrong way. Haha. Alright, and now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things I Really Hope Will Happen in 2014
5. Pope Francis changes the priest's uniform to jeans and a blazer, and gives a mass where he hops up on a desk and gets real with the congregation.
4. A light fixture falls in the White House, bumping Obama on the head and making him remember his 2008 campaign promises.
3. The Duck King and Queen return to claim their throne from the Robertson usurpers, ushering in 100 years of peace between man and fowl, even the gay ones. Bestiality still not cool, though. Ducks think we're gross.
2. People start really connecting again without the Internet, forcing the NSA to plant microphones in board games.
And the number one thing I really hope will happen in 2014...
1. The Sochi Olympics breaks out into a massive, spontaneous song-and-dance number filled with feather boas and led by Neil Patrick Harris.

Oh, lord. Hahahaha. I don't know what to say. If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Well, it's that time of year when people start making their New Years resolutions. And here with his is a friend of the Phile, patriot, singer and renaissance man. You know what time it is...

Good morning, humans. Time to do the whole Monday thing once again. Random thought of the day... My New Year's resolution is... to stop making New Year's resolutions. I never stick to them longer than a week or two and it is indeed a waste of time to do so. Besides, how do you improve on perfection?

It's 1:33 am, 58°F and Kelly is starting to show a baby bump. Great, just bloody great.

Today's pheatured guest is a musician and a dentist... yup, you read that right, whose new EP is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Mark Lassiter.

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

Mark: Thanks for having me!! I am great... excited about having a great 2013 and a lot of cool stuff coming in '14.

Me: You're not related to John Lassiter, are you? Do you know who that is?

Mark: I know two John Lassiter's. One is a dentist and one is an orthopedic surgeon and politician. I am not sure if you are speaking of either of those but I am distantly related to the dentist. Or was he the character Tom Selleck played in "Lassiter"?

Me: I wasn't thinking of either of those guys. Mark, where are you from? Where do you live now?

Mark: I am from Smyrna, Georgia born in Atlanta and live in Charlotte, North Carolina now.

Me: Alright, so, you're a musician and a dentist, am I right?

Mark: That is correct.

Me: So, which came first? I am guessing being a dentist is your day job.

Mark: Ha... I became a dentist in 1995 and a musician in 2000. I spend quite a few more hours doing dentistry.

Me: How long have you been a dentist, Mark?

Mark: I was thinking about that yesterday... Not counting the four years in dental school I have been a dentist over 18 years! Unbelievable.

Me: And how did you start being a musician? 

Mark: I started with a $60 beater guitar in the Winter of 2000.

Me: You play guitar I know, do you play any other instruments?

Mark: No. I do mess around with Garageband on iPad and it feels like I can play a string quartet sometimes.

Me: What was the first song you learned to play on the guitar?

Mark: "Polly" by Nirvana.

Me: Do your patients know you are a musician as well?

Mark: Oh yes, I give my albums to my patients daily and they are some of my biggest and best fans. 

Me: I read you are the dentist to the rock stars. Really? Who are your patients, can you say?

Mark: I have their permission to mention it but I have worked with band members of Tonic, The Wallflowers, and Collective Soul.

Me: And what's this story you worked on somebody right before they performed before President Obama? When was this, where and who was it?

Mark: It was actually after the gig at the Democratic National Convention. Rami Jaffee, who played with The Wallflowers AND Foo Fighters, broke his tooth on popcorn. So I drove him an hour to my office in Norwood and fixed him up. I was able to hear the new Wallflower's record that evening before it was widely released. Very cool.

Me: Did you meet the President?

Mark: Nah. I actually didn't even see that show. He just texted me because he works with me on my albums and said, "Aren't you a dentist too?"

Me: You worked also worked along the side of Foo Fighters, The Wallflowers and Collective Soul. When it says you worked along the side of them what does it mean?

Mark: It really means that members of those bands have helped me with my recorded music as session players. But we have really become friends since we all first met on my first record, "Living Past", in 2009. I am working on my second LP with them as we speak.

Me: Okay, I drilled you enough about the dentist thing... get it, drilled... your last album was nominated in the Top 20 Indie Albums of '09. Did you win and what did you win?

Mark: I love puns. This was an award from podcaster Zack Daggy at I was honored. There is some great music on there.

Me: You have a new EP out called "Endlessly" which has two versions of the title song and another song, Mark. Are you planning on releasing a full release?

Mark: No... this was written at several stages of going through a divorce and finding a new love. It's time to move on.

Me: Does songwriting come easy for you?

Mark: Sometimes. I love it when it happens like that because with a dental practice, 7 kids and a new relationship time is literally a commodity. Sometimes it is hard work like anything else worth creating. 

Me: For your last single called "One More Second" you released a short little film for a video. Was that fun to do?

Mark: Yes! My buddy and director John Foutz put that together for me in Charlotte. We did it for a zero dollar budget and volunteers. It was a social event more than anything and a cool way to start into music vids. I think I did pay for pizza.

Me: Where was it filmed, Mark, and did you have your friends take part?

Mark: It was filmed on location at the Sunset Club in Charlotte and around South Charlotte. I had all of my supportive and close friends there. There were also some serious character actors, an OB Gyn, several actors and actresses, at least two strippers, the movie editor for the Charlotte Observer, Divakar (the most supportive DJ's of indie music in Charlotte), and several folks I don't know.

Me: Another song of yours, "Living Past", was used in a documentary. What was the documentary about?

Mark: Again, Rami Jaffee from Wallflowers was playing Hammond B3 on one of my songs. The folks from The Grammy Museum came to him and wanted to film him doing his session player thing in Malibu. He used my song to play to to show him how collaboration works now throughout the world. The video was in the Producers and Session Players video in The Grammy Museum in L.A. about 3 weeks after I wrote the song. I flew out and heard it. It was incredible!

Me: How did you get involved in this?

Mark: Rami thought it was cool what I was doing and saw how the future of music production would look back in 2008. He is a visionary.

Me: I have to ask you about MusiCares... that's your organization, am I right?

Mark: Oh no. This is a philanthropic arm of The Grammy Organization NARAS. It supports music people in need. It is a huge organization and it's mission is that it provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.

Me: Does MusiCares have a website, Mark?


Me: Alright, so, you're coming out with new music under the name Fringe. Is that a band, or a name you're gonna be recording under?

Mark: This was a side project with a colleague, Wes Mauldin. It is an indie rock production.

Me: Why not release the music under your own name?

Mark: I generally do. If I do a side project it may be done as a separate band name as in the case of Fringe.

Me: So, Fringe, when the new music comes out, will you come back on the Phile? Should I call you Fringe then?

Mark: I think I may start going by Fringe anyway. Dr. Fringe that is.

Me: Okay, doctor. On the Phile I am asking random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Are you ready? This is random but kinda fitting. If you could work as an assistant to anyone for a year who would you choose?

Mark: Charlize Theron. Because she is cognizant of the need for global... okay, she is hot.

Me: Yeah, she is. Mark, thanks for being on the Phile. Go ahead and plug your website and I wish you lots of luck and continued success. Take care.

Mark: Thanks, Phile!! My website is My new release "Endlessly" is available at iTunes and Amazon. Thanks for the outlet and great questions!!

Me: You got it. Take care, and come back soon.

Well, that about wraps it up for this entry and another year of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and Mark Lassiter and also everyone else I interviewed this year and who helped out. It was a great year for the Phile which I hope will continue through 2014. Alright, the Phile will be back next Sunday with stand-up comedian Sammy Obeid, and on Monday it's Phile Alum Kevin Coehlo. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Have a safe New Years and I'll see you in 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pheaturing Phile Alum Jim Korkis

Hey there, kids, welcome to the Phile. How are you? How was your Christmas? I hope it was better than this story...  A 34-year-old Colombus, South Carolina woman was arrested on Christmas Day for stabbing her fiancĂ© as he attempted to leave the room after the two argued over the color-theme for their upcoming wedding. It's unknown whether the wedding is still on or not, but you can rest assured that his terrible color preferences will not be included. Or this one... An 18-year-old Massachusetts man was arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on his father after he was unable to find an iPhone 5s waiting for him beneath the tree on Christmas morning. His father was unhurt, but his brother somehow ended up in the hospital, which, if we're not mistaken, mirrors the plot of one of those old O. Henry stories.  Have you heard about this thing called "The Knockout Game"? I just found out about it the other day. I'm always finding out about these things late. Anyway, here's a story about a Texas man who is as dumb as he is racist. A Houston-area white man was arrested and charged with a hate crime after bragging to an off-duty police officer about having punched a 79 year old black man in a "game" of Knockout. Twenty-seven year old Conrad Alvin Barrett supposedly even went so far as to proudly show the officer footage of the crime, which he kept on his cell phone along with a recorded statement about how the "plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?" So, his experiment seems to be going according to plan? I say stop calling it "The Knockout Game" and start calling it "Boys Hitting People In The Face Because They Are So Mad About Their Super Tiny Penis".  In the wake of the devastating blow to institutionalized bigotry that Utah suffered last week when a federal judge effectively legalized marriage equality in the home of the Mormon church, state officials have announced that they're planning to appeal to the Supreme Court to win back their right to discriminate against a subset of their citizens for reasons that have yet to be adaquately expressed in a court room. Dear Utah, sorry Santa didn't get you marriage inequality like you asked for, maybe don't be such a dick next year? Starting January 1st... and much to the chagrin of the kind of people who enjoy being chagrined over this kind of thing, 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs will no longer be produced. Once the supply runs out in mid-2014, Americans will be forced to use the slightly-more-expressive, much-more-energy-efficient and longer-lasting new-fangled curvy bulbs that represent everything they hate in the world.  Hey, I wonder what appeared over Thomas Edison's head the moment he came up with all those pre-light bulb inventions.  In Melbourne, Florida, which is not that far from here, police have begun handing scratch-off lottery tickets, paid for out of their own pockets, to drivers whom they have pulled over for speeding. "We're just doing a little bit of a different technique" one officer said. A good way to get out of a speeding ticket is to confess to a murder.  Christmas is over for another year, but I have to share this story I read about. When Jews and Chinese Restaurant owners come together on December 25th to celebrate food, family, and fellowship in the midst of what is otherwise an eerily abandoned ghost town. It's nice to see that this place really appreciates that relationship... even if they seem to be under the impression that chicken lo mein is mandated in the Torah.

This sign has been shared so often that it even got its own Snopes page to figure out whether it's real. Conclusion: Undertermined! Even if it wasn't posted by an actual restaurant, the sentiment is real and deeply felt. I thought it was funny, and it reminded me about the ending of one of the greatest Christmas movies ever... A Christmas Story.  Speaking of, I was gonna make a A Christmas Story joke in the last entry, but discarded it as I had too many things, but I thought it was funny so I'll share it now. Ready? So, I was watching A Christmas Story and was surprised they updated it for the 30th Anniversary. Check it out...

What a great update. Aren't you glad I showed that now?  Did you ever see in magazines where they show celebrities with and without their make-up? I think that's pretty popular, and people like that kinda thing, so once again, I thought I'd do the same.

Haha. That's so stupid.  Have you see that new Ron Burgandy movie? I haven't yet, but I saw this picture that I thought was funny.

That man's job is to brush Ron Burgundy's mustache.  Speaking of movies, that Saving Mr. Banks movie is doing so well, they announced a sequel. There's even a new movie poster.

Brilliant. All right, now let's see who ate it.

Mikhail Kalashnikov
Nov 10, 1919 - Dec 23, 2013
Shot down.

The film based on reality is never real. For better or worse, it flatters its makers and serves the audience's demands for revised histories, since actual events never turn out as satisfyingly as we'd like. Loose ends, lingering resentments, outcomes that lack third act punch or a third act at all, that's how life works. Movies need... to steal a line from the Sherman Brothers, a spoonful of sugar. So here's a five pound bag to the rescue for this re-creation of that time when Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers refused to sell the rights to her book to Walt Disney.  She gave in eventually, resulting in one of Disney's best-loved films. And like an oracle foretelling the liberties this film takes with Hollywood history, that singing, dancing, upbeat Mary Poppins resembled the original book's stern governess about as much as Harry resembles Prince Charles. Saving Mr. Banks adapts something somewhat related to P.L. Travers and turns it into a fantastical retelling of events. You cool with that? No? Sorry, cuteness has to win. Because because.  It's an adorable, falsehood-based venture, one where Travers (Emma Thompson, impeccable from her tightly-coiled matron-hair to her sensible shoes) has unresolved daddy issues. She grew up in Australia with a father (Colin Farrell) who adored her, goofing off from work, and The Drink, not necessarily in that order. Naturally, this informs her writing but doesn’t heal her lingering emotional scars: she’s controlling, difficult, imperious and misanthropic, bad things that can find their only solace and rearrangement in the gentle, magic-making hands of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks, pouring on gallons of Best Dude Ever, something he can do in his sleep). The stubborn author resists everything like the always-on-guard child of an alcoholic she is. Casual Southern California social mores, the music of the Sherman Brothers, the gaudy charms of Disneyland, the endless trays of sweet treats brought into the rehearsal room on the Disney Studios lot, none of it will sway her into allowing her intensely personal creation the chance to sing and dance with cartoon penguins and Dick Van Dyke. But you know where this is going. There’s no other option in a Disney film about how great Disney is. And that’s… all right? Under normal circumstances no, of course not. When real people part company unhappily (as Disney and Travers did) it becomes impossible to make a movie about it, at least one with a warm-hearted resolution. So a new ending is needed, a legend where one never existed, something to match the comfort and joy millions of people have gotten from both Travers’ books and the Julie Andrews-starring adaptation, the ending that would have been if Disney had written it.  As fiction, it’s still problematic. Walt, here (and possibly in person, as well, who knows) is a little too fond of mansplaining the power of art to a lady-artist, bullying a woman not fond of change or being told what to think. But this Walt and the fairy tale he’s part of do their jobs with increasingly powerful and therapeutic results (never happened), the new, improved, malleable Emma Thompson Travers finds herself weeping cathartic tears (nope), and you might reach for a tissue yourself as you give in to this tissue of lies. At one point in the action, Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak), exasperated by Travers’ blunt rejection of every planned plot detail and song note, asks, “Does it matter?” You’ll have to ask yourself the same thing and provide your own answer, based on your needs for accuracy or desires to dance with cartoon penguins. From 1 to 10, Saving Mr. Banks gets an 8.

I still can't wait to see Saving Mr. Banks II: Freezing Mr. Disney. Haha. Alright, it's Sunday, and you know what that means. This is the last week for the regular 2013 NFL season, so we need to talk football with my friends Jeff and Lori.

Me: Hey there, you two, welcome back. So, how was your Christmas?

Jeff: Once again it's always good to be back on the Phile. My Christmas was good. I got to spend it with Lori and my family. There is never a dull moment when my family is concerned. You can ask Lori. How was your Christmas?

Me: My Christmas was okay. Logan opened his presents in the morning and I worked. It was busy, but I had fun. Lori, so, how was Christmas?

Lori: Christmas was interesting! We're still celebrating, in fact. There are a lot more people to see when you're not stranded in Florida.

Me: That's true. This is the last week before the playoffs. Do you have a prediction on who will make it to the Super Bowl, Jeff?

Jeff: It's so hard to say who will be in the Super Bowl. There clearly is no favorite as we have seen the mighty teams fall short and we have seen some teams that shouldn't be as good as they are continue to win. I will say it will be an exciting last game of the season for a lot of teams as two division championships and a wild card spot are still up for grabs.

Me: It's at Giants Stadium... that's a dumb place to have it. It'll be cold there. Don't they normally have the Super Bowl in warm states?

Jeff: This year they wanted to put it in a cold weather place. I mean I suppose it could be worse. It could be in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

Me: Would you ever want to go to a Super Bowl?

Jeff: Of course I would go to a Super Bowl, regardless of who is playing in it.

Me: Alright, so, what's the latest NFL news if there is any?

Jeff: The biggest news is who is in and who is out for the last week of the season. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is out after surgery on his back today while Aaron Rodgers returns for the Packers after missing over a month due to shoulder issues.

Me: Okay, so how did we do? What are our points? Lori with a hundred and me with less than thirty? LOL.

Jeff: It was a rare week that saw the Eagles, the Steelers and the Giants win. We all earned a point for that. You and I both went 1-1 this week while Lori went 2-0. Lori has officially won the season. We can't catch her and her 75 points. Her record is 22-10. I am in second place with a 16-16 with 55 points. Jason, it just wasn't your season. Your record stands at 8-24 with 29 points.

Me: Man, I got a whooping. Congrats, you officially won the season, Lori. Nice job.

Lori: Thank you! Maybe next season you should try to pick teams with winning records once in awhile. It might help you out of last place.

Me: Haha. Yeah, I guess so. But, maybe I let you two beat me... Nah. Who am I fooling? I sucked this year. Okay, this weeks picks... Packers by nine and Broncos by twelve. What do you two say?

Jeff: I tried to convince her she didn't need to make a pick this week. My picks for week 17 are Colts by seven points and Seattle by five points.

Lori: My picks are the Panthers by five points and the Patriots will win by seven points this week.

Me: Okay, I'll see you in 2014. Any plans for New Year's Eve?

Jeff: No big plans for New Year's Eve just yet. What about you?

Me: None yet, but we'll see. Happy New Year, you two.

Jeff: See you in 2014.

That's disgusting! What the hell was I thinking? Anyway, if you spot the Mindphuck email me at And now, from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Startling Similarities Between Phil Robertson And Ron Burgundy
5. Has ludicrous and disturbing facial hair.
4. Surrounded by a group of sycophantic nimrods.
3. Endlessly quoted by idiot fans.
2. All his best lines are pre-scripted.
And the number one startling similarity between Phil and Ron...
1. Worldview is stubbornly stuck in the 1970s.

Today's pheatured guest is the first Phile Alum to have three books pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. His latest book "The Vault of Walt: Volume 2: Unofficial, Unauthorized, Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told" is the 29th book to be pheatured in the Club. Please welcome back to the Phile one of my favorite guests... Jim Korkis!

Me: Hello, Jim, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

Jim: Old, fat and broke. I was once reprimanded by my manager at Epcot for saying that in response to a friend who asked the same question. I pointed out that I was actually old, fat and broke but they felt it was derogatory to other groups.

Me: Well, I'm old, fat and broke as well then. As you know, your new book "The Vault of Walt Volume 2" is part of the Phile's Book Club. We'll get into that in a minute. Let's talk about some of the things happening around Disney and get your insight. First of, let's talk about this whole MyMagic+ deal. First of, explain what that is for the readers that won't know.

Jim: Basically, this is a way for guests to pre-schedule their Walt Disney World vacation trip in advance, sort of reserving rides and restaurants in advance. In addition, there is the opportunity to get some special promotions and discounts not offered to the general public. It is a way for the Disney Company to try and keep guests on property longer and not have them go visiting Harry Potter at Universal.

Me: Have you tried it yet?

Jim: No, I haven’t. I sort of enjoy being more spontaneous and also want some flexibility if I don’t feel well one day or it starts to rain or whatever but I still have to rush to my reservation.

Me: Do you have a Magic Band?

Jim: No, I don’t but I have friends who have used them. Some love them because of the convenience but others feel like they are being tracked about what they buy, where they eat, where they go and when.

Me: I don't have one yet either, and who knows if I'll get one. So, what do you think of this system?

Jim: I think the system was developed at a cost of over one billion dollars for the benefit of the Disney Company and not for the benefit of the guests. For instance, if the Disney Company sees that you haven’t booked Fastpasses for a day, they will assume that you are sneaking off somewhere else so will bombard you with special things like a discount at a restaurant but only on that day at a certain time frame to try to get you to stay. I think, even on a limited visit, guests should be encouraged to discover the parks, not make the experience another job where you have appointments you have to make and keep.

Me: Do you remember when they first bought Fast Passes in the early 2000s? I remember it.

Jim: Yes, I remember it and I think it has damaged the Disney parks. There is a lot of storytelling in the queue lines to set you up for the attraction and Fast Pass has guests avoiding that experience. Also, Fast Passes have generated a mentality that in order to get full value out of your admission price you need to rush to all the high end attractions and also try to repeat them that same day. Smaller attractions and experiences are ignored. I think many guests still don’t understand how Fast Pass works and just don’t do it. Standing in line is not the worst thing in the world, especially if everyone is doing it.

Me: When we first went to Disney World in '74 they had tickets like E and D tickets. Remember those? I betcha still have some?

Jim: Yep, I do still have some and I loved them. For one thing, since you had so many different tickets you tried to use up the lower priced A, B, C tickets and it spread people out more evenly throughout the park and introduced them to things like the horse-drawn trolley or the Main Street Cinema or whatever that you might never have thought of going to but now it became an attractive option.

Me: New at the Magic Kingdom this year is the Talking Mickey. I have not seen this yet, and I'm very scared to. Have you seen Mickey talk yet?

Jim: No, I have not seen the talking Mickey but friends who have told me that it is very natural and not creepy. I grew up with the pantomime Mickey in the park and that seemed to work well for everyone. One thing the Disney Company has forgotten is that guests from around the world have heard Mickey speak foreign languages perfectly. I wonder how a child from another country feels when they talk to Mickey and Mickey can only respond in English.

Me: That's a good point. Remember when Disney was selling those Pal Mickey plushes that gave you hints around the park? "Gosh, the parade is gonna start at 3." That didn't last long, did it? Did you have one of those?

Jim: Yep, I still have one of those Pal Mickeys. It was an interesting idea but again, it makes going to the park seem like work. It was interesting to me how quickly the Disney Company completely abandoned that experiment. I wonder if there were challenges we never knew? Disney is desperately trying to leverage new technology but just doesn’t seem to know how to do it properly. I think they have really fallen behind when it comes to utilizing social media. They just don’t seem to “get it”.

Me: This year they are selling Mouse Ears that light up during different shows. Did you get one of those hats?

Jim: I don’t have light-up ears yet but I do have a healthy collection of mouse ears, including a very battered one from my visits to Disneyland as a kid. It is not in mint condition but it has great sentimental value.

Me: There's rumors that Disney's Hollywood Studios where I work Star Wars Land is coming. I have not heard anything from Disney people about that. Do you think it's a good idea?

Jim: Yes, the rumor is that Echo Park will be torn down to create Mos Eisley, the spaceport in the original Star Wars film with the Backlot Express becoming the Cantina and American Idol becoming an indoor location for the Jedi Training Academy. All of this is still on the drawing boards and no final decisions have been made and probably won’t be until Pandora/Avatar Land is further along. To me, it breaks my heart. I am a big Star Wars fan and think that Disney should leverage that franchise to the max but I love old movies and am so sorry that the concept of the “Hollywood that never was but always will be” has been abandoned for DHS. I guess today’s audience isn’t interested in the Hollywood of the 1940s but I sure am. I will miss the Indiana Jones Stunt Show and Gertie the Dinosaur and the quiet alcove of Echo Park.

Me: What's definitely coming though is Avatar to the Animal Kingdom which you mentioned. Actually it's gonna be called Pandora I think. Great on-line radio station. LOL. What do you think about this expansion?

Jim: Me, personally, I cannot wait. I am excited that there will be a leisurely enclosed night time boat ride through the Pandora Jungle because that is something everyone can enjoy from grandkids to grandparents and that is very much in keeping with Walt’s philosophy. If Universal had built their Harry Potter ride to be friendly to all ages, the lines for the park would have reached to Disney. Everybody is not as excited about thrill rides as some people think. The other ride where you will be able to ride a flying Banshee worries me because it will probably be a motion control simulator ride. I can handle Star Tours but I couldn’t handle Body Wars even though it was the exact same technology and ride vehicle. That’s how subtle programming a motion control simulator can be. Basically, when I walked out of the original movie and couldn’t remember the names of the main characters and didn’t rush out to buy any merchandise, I figured it was a one-shot deal. It will be interesting to see what the next three films that Cameron is doing will do to get that same buy-in that people have with franchises like Star Wars, Twilight, Star Trek, Hunger Games and more.

Me: I have to ask you about this, Jim, as I am dying to get your opinion... Escape to Tomorrow. First of, explain to the readers what that is in case they don't know.

Jim: Esacpe to Tomorrow is an independent film shot at Disney theme parks using technology that is available to everyone. It was done secretly on property without Disney’s permission and tells the story of a father on vacation with his family at WDW and finds out he has been laid off but decides not to tell his family. As a result of the stress, he starts hallucinating all sorts of odd things at WDW.

Me: I'm dying to see it, Jim, as I am curious. Have you seen it?

Jim: I have not seen it but like most people I am very curious to see it.

Me: What do you think about it?

Jim: It's crazy they were able to film a movie in Disney without being noticed. They were very clever filming it. The script was on people’s iPhones so if they looked down it didn’t arouse suspicion. The director could be far away and then use his phone to cue the action to take place. They also removed all the songs in the background (to avoid copyright problems) from the attractions.

Me: Someone asked me at work do I think Disney will sue and I said no, unless the movie makes a lot of money. I don't see that happening though. Do you?

Jim: Disney’s game plan right now is not to bring any further attention to the film and it will just fade away and that has kind of happened. Even if they sued, what could they possibly get? It would cost them much more to pursue legal action than what they could ever recover. That’s the same approach Disney took when the magazine The National Lampoon had a cover of Minnie Mouse flashing her chest. They hoped Disney would sue so the magazine would get some attention. Disney ignored it and people today, probably even you, don’t even remember it ever happened. I think Disney will be instituting new restrictions and policies so this doesn’t happen again but it is a difficult thing because they encourage people to take pictures and videos in the park and many people post their videos on YouTube.

Me: There's a magazine cover with Minnie flashing her chest? What? I never knew about that. Has this kinda thing ever happened at Disney World before?

Jim: No, to the best of my knowledge, this thing has never happened at Walt Disney World or Disneyland before. There was an official non-Disney live action comedy film called 40 Pounds of Trouble starring Tony Curtis that was filmed at Disneyland in the 1960s. There is a good 20 minutes that takes place at Disneyland. Walt decided the filming took up too much time and negatively impacted the guest experience (because areas had to be closed off) so never allowed it again.

Me: Our mutual friend Rich leant me that movie. I liked it, and it was interesting to see Disneyland in the 60s. Okay, Jim, I love having you here as you know so much about Disney and write some fantastic books about the company. When did you first fall in love with Disney as a product?

Jim: Disney as a product? That is an interesting question. I feel in love with Disney characters and the idea of animation first. I guess when I started buying things like Marx playsets or souvenirs from Disneyland or Disney comic books was when that love transferred to products so basically when I was maybe eight or nine years old.

Me: What came first for you? Disney on TV, the books, characters, or the parks?

Jim: The first Disney in my life was watching the weekly Disney television show, especially the episodes devoted to animation or Disneyland. I had no patience for the "True Life Adventure" stuff… "The Cougar Who Thought He Was an Eagle" kind of thing with wild animals coming in and comically messing up somebody’s house while Rex Allen did the narration.

Me: You mentioned when you were here before you had a teacher in California that was married to one of Walt's brothers, am I right?

Jim: Yes, my first grade teacher was Mrs. Margaret Disney, who was the second wife of Herbert Disney (one of Walt’s older brothers) who spent most of his time as a mailman. I remember her being cranky but that was just the impression of a kid.

Me: Did you ever meet her husband or anybody else in the family?

Jim: I did meet Lillian Disney, Walt’s widow, briefly but she was so shy that wasn’t much of an encounter. I have met Diane Disney Miller who I admire greatly and Roy E. Disney who I felt was very nice.

Me: Speaking of Diane, she recently passed away, Jim. She wrote the foreword for your first "Vault of Walt" book. Would you like to share any thoughts about her passing?

Jim: Diane was an amazing woman and so full of life and with so many things left to do that it seems unreal that she is gone. I do not have the skill or the words to tell how much I will miss her as a person and as an active patron of Disney history. She was the last living connection to Walt Disney’s family and, in the last decade was an aggressive advocate for researching and preserving Disney history. She was very much like her father... both simple and complicated and sharing the same curiosity and stubbornness. I thought she would be around forever... she was healthy and her mind was sharp... and I am stunned that a simple accident robbed all of us of the many joys she still had to share.

Me: In 25 years at Disney I was happy to have met Eisner, Dick Nunis, Frank Wells, and I saw Bob Iger briefly... and I also saw Roy Disney Jr. Is there anybody in the company you would love to meet or anybody you did meet and thought, "I can't believe I am talking to so and so."

Jim: On Walt Disney World property, I met Eisner twice and both times he seemed distracted and rushed. I met Iger twice and both times he struck me as a man of integrity and genuine caring. Actually, I can’t think of one person working at the Disney Company today that I am dying to meet. Of course, in the old days, it would be Walt and Roy.

Me: Let's get into the new book, which is great. When did you start writing this book, Jim?

Jim: I started compiling some of the material while I was writing "The Revised Vault of Walt". When the book was released and did so well, I just really jumped into working on the sequel so it took roughly over a year to do the book.

Me: There's a million stories about Walt and the company you can tell, so how did you pick these stories for the book?

Jim: It was tough because so many people liked the first book that I had to find stories that were just as good or better. That really is tough. Once again, I wanted to balance it out so that there were stories just about Walt, about the theme parks, about the films and a section of oddball stories that didn’t fit anywhere else.I also wanted to record stories that don’t appear in all the other Disney books or are only mentioned in passing in a sentence or two.

Me: One of the stories in the book you talk about is the fight between Walt and P.L. Travers over Mary Poppins which is the plot line to the movie Saving Mr. Banks... did you write that chapter because of the movie coming out?

Jim: I wasn’t aware of the Saving Mr. Banks film but was aware that 2014 would be the 50th anniversary of the film Mary Poppins. Growing up in Los Angeles, I heard lots of tales of the making of the film from people who worked on it and the struggle between Travers and Walt was always entertaining and enlightening. You have two stubborn, creative people who have never given up control battling it out. I think the battle resulted in a better film than either of the two could have produced individually.

Me: It's an odd idea for a movie, and I'm not sure how many people have seen it. I know about 65,000 people in Florida saw it. Every Cast Member saw that film. When you first heard Disney was making this movie, what did you think?

Jim: It’s a great story to tell but I wondered how brutally honest the version will be. Also, I know Tom Hanks gets a lot of flak for portraying Walt Disney because we all know how Walt looked and sounded. It is interesting that Emma Thompson is not getting any flak for playing Travers even though she looks nothing like her. I am hoping the film will be fun and capture how difficult it is to make a film.

Me: Why was Walt so persistent in making a movie based on the Poppins book? Was the movie that successful when it came out?

Jim: The movie was the most successful film of the year when it was first released and the most Oscar nominated Disney film of all time. Walt had promised his daughters he would make the film so that influenced him. I think he also realized it was a great story and I think it was just he didn’t like being told “no” by Travers all the time so he fought for it harder than other films.

Me: Your last book was all about Song of the South. Maybe you can write a book all about Mary Poppins. Nah, dumb idea. Do you think they'll ever remake Mary Poppins?

Jim: Actually, I think writing a book about the film Mary Poppins would be a great idea but would take a lot of time. Fortunately, Brian Sibley has written a book covering the original book, the film and the stage musical. It’s called "Mary Poppins: Anything Can Happen If You Let It". I know he has a lot more to say on the subject, especially since in later years he worked with Travers on a sequel screenplay. They seem to remake everything these days, don’t they? And in my opinion these modern remakes even with all the new technology and fine acting never seem to capture the magic of the original. I dread the day someone decides to remake "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

Me: Also in your book you talk about The Shaggy Dog. Me, personally, I like the sequel better... The Shaggy D.A. Anyway, what is the story behind this film you talk about?

Jim: It’s important to remember that historically The Shaggy Dog is very significant in Disney history because its huge success opened the way for a string of family comedies like The Absent Minded Professor. It is a simple family friendly werewolf story inspired by the all the teenage monster movies that were having a huge box office at the time and was a way for Walt to utilize some of his young actors who were under contract to the studio at the time like Tommy Kirk. Also, this sparked Fred MacMurray’s career and led to him starring in "My Three Sons" television show… with another English sheepdog.

Me: There's a story in the book about Walt and Friz Freleng who created Bugs Bunny. Did these guys know each other well? They weren't friends, right?

Jim: Both Freleng and Disney held grudges against each other for the rest of their lives, unfortunately. Again, two strong willed people who just rubbed each other the wrong way all the time. Remember that Yosemite Sam was inspired by Freleng and his behavior.

Me: I always thought Bugs had more of a personality than Mickey. Do you agree?

Jim: I think that Mickey had a deeper, richer personality than Bugs. Mickey had a wide range of emotions and could realistically show sadness, something that Bugs only faked. Most people just think of Mickey as this “nice” guy and Bugs as this clever smart aleck. Actually, there were four significantly different personalities for Bugs depending upon whether he was being directed by Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng or Bob McKimson. Mickey always had the same consistent personality.

Me: The new book has a foreward by Lou Mongello. I have no idea who that is, Jim. Who is he?

Jim: Lou is a criminal mastermind wanted in at least six states. Lou is the host of the WDWRadio podcast and the author of several Walt Disney World trivia books. Just like Mickey Mouse, everybody loves Lou. He has been a good friend and I am honored he accepted my request to write the foreword. I keep asking when he is going to release HIS next book.

Me: I have to ask you about Marty Sklar who I am trying to get on the Phile. Do you know him?

Jim: I know Marty and in fact, he recently sent a very kind e-mail to the editor of Disney Files (the DVC member) magazine. He wrote that my article that appeared there on landscaper Bill Evans truly captured who Bill was. I thanked Marty in person at his recent book signing at Downtown Disney. Years ago, Marty was kind enough to autograph a copy of the Disneyland hardcover guidebook he wrote in 1964.

Me: I used to see him in Epcot all the time. Anyway, if I get to interview him, is there anything I should ask him?

Jim: Marty has so many great stories and didn’t use a quarter of them in his new book. I guess you could ask him about how difficult it was to write Walt’s official obituary on the day Walt died or what it was like directing Walt in the film where Walt talks about Epcot. Or ask him about how he and John Hench finally sold the idea of Space Mountain to RCA. All of those are great stories and Marty loves telling them.

Me: You talk about Epcot in the book, with the Fountain of Nations which I once jumped in, and Spaceship Earth. That ride has changed a little since it opened in '82, Jim.

Jim: That ride has changed A LOT since it opened and not necessarily for the better. It is one of the most ridden attractions at Walt Disney World because it is right in the front of the park so as people enter, they just immediately go up the ramp. Later in the day, when the crowds have dispersed is the better time to ride it. Each time the attraction has changed, Disney has “dumbed down” the narration. I guess that is a commentary on today’s audiences.

Me: Jim, I can ask you millions of questions but you are a busy man. I do have to ask you a random question thanks to Tabletopics... What would you most like to ask God? Man, what a question.

Jim: Like most people, I think I would ask God, “Why?” because we all want to know why things were they way they were, why we had to suffer through some things, what is the meaning of life, etc. I hope that I have grown enough as a person that instead of asking a question, I would have the good common sense to just say “Thanks”.

Me: Jim, thanks for being here on the Phile again. Tell the readers where they can get your books. And I have to ask, will there be a "Volume 3"?

Jim: People can get the book on Amazon or at a number of other booksellers. They should also check out for information on all my books. If enough people vote with their wallets and buy "Volume 2", then there will be a "Volume 3" next fall. I have already started compiling material. Always happy to chat. Please don’t hesitate to invite me again, especially since I have another brand new book available, "The Book of Mouse" covering everything you always wanted to know about Mickey Mouse.

Me: Yes, you will be back on the Phile when "The Book of Mouse" will be in the Phile's Book Club. Thanks again, and take care, sir.

Man, I love interviewing Jim. Anyway, that about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz, Lori Sedlacek and of course Jim Korkis. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the last entry of 2013 pheaturing musician Mark Lassiter. Then next Sunday it's comedian Sammy Obeid and Monday it's Phile Alum Kevin Coehlo. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bue, love you, bye.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Peverett Phile Christmas 5 Pheaturing Zach Davidson And Burke Thomas Overdrive From Vendetta Red

Hello, and welcome to A Peverett Phile Christmas 5. Man, that's a long ass title, right? How many words is that? Fifteen? I think that is the long title ever. Anyway, it's two days to Christmas, and two days 'til we get a new Doctor for you Whovians out there. Alright, I want to start off with very uplifting and inspirational story.  James Gray is an 85-year-old Irish retired butler living in London. He doesn't have any family, many of his friends have passed away, and frailty prevents him from getting out and about like he used to. As a result, though he doesn't like it, Gray has gotten used to being alone most of the time. The hardest time of year is Christmas. Gray told the Irish Post: "This time of year is so hard if you are old and alone because it feels like everybody else around you is enjoying themselves." This would have been Gray's 10th Christmas alone, but he was inspired to try something new. He placed an ad in the Irish Post, asking if any other pensioners would like to get together for Christmas lunch. Sadly, he only got one reply, and that person later canceled. Then, something magical happened. Niall O'Sullivan of the Irish Post ran a piece about Mr. Gray's quest for companionship. Readers were moved, and pretty soon cards, letters, and invitations to spend Christmas Day together were flooding in from all over the U.K. and the world. So far, Mr. Gray has received over 1,000 cards. Gray has also received a few gifts, including a bottle of whiskey and a Quality Street toffee penny that someone tucked into a card... OMG, this is the most British story of all time. And I would know. The Post says they're still arranging a special Christmas dinner for Mr. Gray. But as O'Sullivan reminds readers in an opinion piece for the paper, there are plenty of other lonely people, many elderly, who have nowhere to go for Christmas and no one to turn to the rest of the year. There's probably a lot more we could all be doing. Still, this happy Internet story is a testament to the power of simply asking for help, and the amazing things people can do when they reach out. So, does this mean love actually is everywhere? Sorry, had to.  According to a new Pew poll, whatever that is, approximately half of U.S. citizens no longer view Christmas... the winter solstice celebration filled with traditional pagan iconography such as evergreen trees and yule logs, as a mostly Christian holiday. Meanwhile, one-third of those polled say they see it as more of a cultural holiday which also happens to be a good excuse to get fat and buy a new gaming console.  Researchers at Stanford University have conclusively determined that narcolepsy, the disorder which causes people to suddenly fall asleep with little or no warning, is not just a very easy punchline for comedy writers hoping to bang out a joke with little or no effort, but also an autoimmune disease which can possibly be contracted by zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... What? I'm awake. Where was I?  Conservapedia the conservative version of Wikipedia which replaces uncomfortable facts with more useful right wing talking points, is in the process of rewriting the Bible to remove any gross un-Christian liberal bias which may have crept into the text over the past two millennia. The entire New Testament and several books of the Old Testament have already been translated from the accepted but flawed King James Version to their new and improved edition. Phrases such as "Peace be with you," have been altered to read “Peace of mind be with you,” because obviously Jesus would never have supported a concept that gets in the way of invading Iran. Good thing the Bible doesn't say anything about coveting thy neighbor's Playstation 4.  In a 43-8 vote, the New York City council passed a bill that expands the city's ban on smoking in places such as bars, restaurants and parks to include e-cigarettes, which do not emit smoke and have not yet been shown to have any negative effects on people nearby, other than the pathos-induced revulsion felt toward the ridiculous-looking e-cigarette smoker. Did you see this? There are now mistletoe drones flying around San Francisco, forcing people to kiss. I have a screenshot of it here...

While I'm sure the people behind this idea thought they were being whimsical, I fear this is the beginning of the end. Once robots learn that humans have to kiss when there's mistletoe around, they will exploit that to gain supremacy. Humans will be constantly made to kiss, and they'll be late for their jobs, and then the robots will be like, "I'm never late." They get hired and then they make the employees kiss each other until everyone's been fired by HR (now RR), then they win an election by campaigning against people who collect welfare and kiss all day and then goodbye democracy, hello communism. Robots are huge communists. Brought to you... foolishly by San Francisco artist/weird-projects-like-this person George Zisiadis, and guy who-according-to-his-Facebook-page-partners-up-with-a-giant-boombox-robot-to-start-parties Mustafa Khan, the reason they did this, as George told The Bold Italic, was that "drones have been causing all sorts of paranoia lately and I wanted to reframe them from being something scary and ominous to being fun and human." Dudes, this project is awesome, but drones becoming human is exactly what is terrifying.  I wasn't really feeling the Christmas cheer this year until I saw this magical picture of penguins dressed up as Santa Claus and Christmas trees parading through a theme park in South Korea.

After all, isn't forcing animals to wear adorable red and green costumes what the holiday is all about? Didn't Joseph and Mary look down, see the heavenly glow on their child's face, and feel compelled to throw a jaunty red bow on their camel? It's true. Matthew 11:14. The penguin parade took place at Everland, the largest amusement park in South Korea. The park says the parade was such a success that it will be held every day between now and Christmas. South Korea has a large Christian population... although the penguins consider themselves "spiritual" and plenty of excited onlookers turned out for the first day of the parade. Can you even imagine this kind of thing happening in the United States? Pretty soon someone would put out a documentary called Flightless, and we'd all be forced to learn that penguins really hate costumes because they're humiliating and itchy. I guess we'll just have to keep importing our Christmas cheer from East Asia, along with our Christmas gifts.  Okay, it's two days before Christmas and do you know what Santa is doing right now? I'll bet you'll never guess.

Do you guys like gingerbread houses? I'm not a big fan, but I thought this one was really cool.

Next year there is a new X-Man movie coming out, and I have an exclusive photo from the set of Magneto and Professor X. Wanna see it?

I guess it the movie takes place over Christmas. This movie might be a funnier Christmas movie than Elf.  I love Christmas specials, and do you know what my favorite one is?

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Tauntaun". That's a classic. Speaking of Rudolph, do you know who his dad was? No?

That's so stupid. I think that's the stuipdest thing on the Phile in a long time. Alright, so, all through December I have been showing you some creative Christmas ads. I think I saved the best one for last.

You're welcome fellas. And now, from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Things If The Story Of Christmas Took Place On Facebook Part 4
5. A Bunch Of Sheperds shared a link from The Huffington Post.
4. King Herod shared a link from Upworthy - with Magi.
3. Magi checked into Bethlehem.
2. Magi bought Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold from Mary's Baby Registry on Buy Buy Baby.
And the final number one thing if the story of Christmas took place on Facebook is...
1. Santa wrote: And what do you want for Christmas, Baby Jesus?

If you spot the Mindphuck email me at Okay, Christmas is only two days away like I said, and you might still be trying to figure out what to buy for someone. That's crazy, you're running outta time, but you still might be struggling. Have no fear, I'm here to help with...

Outshine the competition with this futuristic Lighted LED Chess Set.

The ancient game of chess just got a dose of WOW with high tech LED technology. The world's first LED lighted chess set will have everyone fighting to take a turn. This LED glow chess set comes with both a wall adaptor and a car adaptor, so you'll be ready to light up the night with your gamesmanship wherever you go. You can buy it here:
And now a Christmas story from a patriot, singer and renaissance man. You know what time it is, right?

Good morning, humans. My granddaughter Olivia: "Pop-pop... is there a Santa Claus? Coz this mean girl at the playground said he's not real." Me: "Of course there is, sweetie. I bumped into him at work last week. Tell this girl that I said Santa is very busy right now making certain that mean little girls get nothing but a bag of dog poo for Christmas." Olivia: "You're so silly, pop-pop... YOU don't work at the North Pole." Me: "He told me you've been a very good girl this year." Olivia: "Realllllly? You DID meet him!" Pretty clever for a five year old.

Casual Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings viewers, do you exist? Two films into this series... five if you're lumping them into one extra-long, jewelry-based throwdown of impossibly named characters and giant sword impalements... the possibility that there is anyone who would walk into the muddly middle of a three-film, nine-hour prequel to another nine-hour saga and expect to know what's going on at all seems unlikely. By now you're either in or you're out. And you're reading this so that means you're in. Therefore, explaining the entire plot, with its fantastic array of characters, creatures and battles is, at this point, beside the point. It's as you expect it to be. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) still has the ring; the dwarves, led by the heartthrobby Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), want to retrieve the gold from the mountain where Smaug the Dragon (the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch, busiest man in show business) lies sleeping so that they can then restore the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor; there's Gandalf (Ian McKellen) popping in and out to help with wizarding activities and warnings that everybody ignores; and there's a lot of running, chasing and fighting. After that there's more running, chasing and fighting. You came for it. You get it.  Peter Jackson wears this series like an extremely expensive yet well-worn coat, one he's very willing to share with you. His actors feel bonded to their characters, probably due to the sheer amount of time they've spent inhabiting them, and it fills in the blanks when writing turns thin. Details that would be discarded in a one-shot adaptation get a chance to exist on screen whether or not they're necessary. Nobody gives a damn about chopping out one bit. Tolkienists demand more and more and they are given every little moment. And as for that high frame rate situation that made the first installment feel like an eye gouging conducted with a fork, this time around there'll be more opportunity to see it theatrically as though it were just any other old-fashioned 2D, 24 frames-per-second movie instead of a digital torture device.  It's a next chapter that will surprise no one and yet be loved simply for existing. A small thing blown up superlarge, less complicated at its source but made ornately and then further padded for maximum comfort. It's a lot piled on top of a lot, anti-minimalist and indulgent, exactly as fans need it to be. But the hypnotic repetition of endless questing, struggling and fleeing somehow doesn't turn it dull. The effect is, instead, satisfying and warm. It's a smell or sound that triggers longing, the same bedtime story told night after night that you never tire of hearing, the blanket you make into a fort, the eating of the biggest bag of potato chips in the world. You're not casual about it, you're committed. And nobody can tell you you're wrong. From 1 to 10, I give this Hobbit movie an 8

The 29th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Phile Alum and author will be a guest on the Phile next Sunday.

It's 9:52 am, 72°F and Kelly posted this Tweeted this picture saying Merry Christmas from the Blackstocks.

Damn! It should be Merry Christmas from the Peveretts.

Okay, today's pheatured guests are two members from the alternative rock band Vendetta Red whose new EP "Light Year Anniversary" is available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile from Vendetta Red... Zach Davidson and Burke... not Burt as I have been calling him... BURKE Thomas Overdrive.

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

Zach: We're good.

Me: Okay, I have to tell you something... I meet bands and musicians and other people through various ways here. From publicists, managers, the interviewees themselves, recommendations from different people, friends recommendations and so on. You get the idea. With Vendetta Red, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page a picture of iTunes with the song "Fuck Me On Star Tours". You see, we both work at Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando and thought that was funny. I then decided to send you guys an interview request. So, where did that title come from?

Zach: Haha, that's amazing. The title came from the space god of pleasure theme of the song and when we were discussing names it was either going to be "hold my hand on Space Mountain" or "Fuck Me On Star Tours". We all consider Star Tours a better ride.

Burke: Actually, I stole the title from my wife Lian. We both think it's hilarious that everything has to be "sexed up" in today's culture from people singing "The Star Spangled Banner", to dog food commercials to Freddy Kruger costumes. So, we have a voice in a SoCal teenage girl's voice that goes... "Oh my God, fuck me while I'm doing taxes, fuck me in the car wash, fuck me in this garbage can... fuck me in Star Tours". I brought it into the rehearsal room and it inspired.

Me: The song is not really about Star Tours, is it?

Zach: No, the song is about the birth of Slaanesh and the near extinction of the elder race because of it.

Burke: Yup.

Me: Have you been on the Star Tours ride at Disney?

Zach: Yes.

Burke: Yup.

Me: You do know it'll be impossible to have sex on the ride. Now, if you sit in the back row you can do other stuff, but that still might be tricky.

Zach: Where there is a will there is a pinche way.

Burke: I don't know about that. I've been kicked off many a Pirates o' Caribbean.

Me: Is that the Irish version? Haha. The song is on your new EP "Light Year Anniversary". You actually have released two EP's this year... "Scripture" and "Light Year Anniversary". Why release two EPs and not a full length?

Zach: Well half of the songs are about the birth of Slaanesh and the other half are unconnected to each other and about completely random things like my kids, love, racism, Seattle prostitutes who jump off the Aurora bridge.

Burke: High five.

Me: The band was formed back in 1998, but broke up in 2006. What happened?

Zach: We broke up because we couldn't make a career out of it.

Burke: Implode, Explode. Needed a breather, get some wives and other life stuff.

Me: When you guys were originally together you opened up for AC/DC at the New York Roseland Ballroom. I bet that was crazy, and a good show. Was that a great experience for you?

Zach: Yes and no, AC/DC were amazing, fantastic live and really cool people but their crowd didn't like us at all so we spent our set defending ourselves and offending the audience. Still an amazing experience.

Burke: A weird match, but it puts hair on your chest.

Me: What was the best show you guys ever played?

Zach: I think with this lineup our best show has been the December 2010 show at El Corazon. We had a string quintet and Alessandra Rose on keys and back up vocals and my friend Joel on second guitar. It was epic.

Burke: Yeah, our first show at El Corazon with this lineup. I think back in 2005 we had two pits going at a place in Indiana. One pit was on the mezzanine. Also, Endfest 2005 was rad. I don't think Jonah played his guitar that day. He just hung from the rafters the whole set. We also shared a dressing room with Tegan and Sara, but none of us knew who they were.

Me: Where are you guys from and who is in the band?

Zach: Leif and Jonah are from Seattle, Burke and I are from California originally but we have both been here way longer.

Burke: SOCal represent.

Me: When you guys got back together was it with the original members?

Zach: No. I've been the only original member in the band since 2004.

Burke: That's true. I used to tour in the van before the Sony deal when other members couldn't leave town.

Me: How did you guys get back together? Was it a planned thing or just a fluke?

Zach: We planned the show after a fluke email saying we were playing that night. We thought, that's actually not a bad idea.

Burke: Cellphone prank turned out okay, but who was the pranker? No one knows to this day.

Me: And did you start to write new material right away?

Zach: Yeah, we had a bunch of tunes within just a few rehearsals so it all came out very naturally. 

Burke: High five.

Me: You guys were once on Epic Records, back when major record labels meant something. How did signing to a record label like Epic change your lives?

Zach: Well, that was an incredible experience. I was able to do music as my job and tour the country for about four years because of that and see the music industry for what a corrupt and phony entity it was.

Burke: I went from eating 7-11 dinners at home to eating 7-11 dinners in the van and shitty motels. I really have to change my diet plan.

Me: I listened to some of your music and I guess you would be hard rock, but I'm not sure. You're listed as an alternative rock band. What genre of music would you say you were?

Zach: That has always been hard for us because we write some proggy, hardcore, then pop tunes with orchestral movements, then juxtapose that with a little bit of good old fashioned alternative. So I would say we are a rock band. For sure.

Burke: I would say it purely splurge core with a hint of death campfire.

Me: What bands are you guys into?

Zach: I'm gonna tell you everyones favorite bands... Burke: Rush, The Smiths, Jonah: The Misfits, Queen, Me: Echo and the Bunnymen, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Leif: Guns N Roses, U2.

Burke: Good enough for me.

Me: I saw a picture of one of you guys wearing an Anvil tshirt. Are you guys fans of Anvil? I interviewed Steve "Lips" Kudlow here on the Phile a few months ago.


Burke: Sad damn movie. Good for them they got another tour out of it.

Me: What about Foghat? They are a good band, right? Haha.

Zach: Fuck yeah. Foghat is an amazing band... talk about underrated. Dave Peverett is one of the most amazing guitarist, singers in the world. Definitely a band that helped encapsulate the sound of 70s rock.

Burke: All those bands had amazing album covers. Foghat, that was "Jeramiah Was a Bullfrog" right? 

Me: Um... no, Burt. Alright, so, I have to ask you about the cover to "Light Year Anniversary". There's a drawing with a kid in a rabbit suit. That has to have some kinda meaning, am I right?

Zach: Christy is such an awesome artist, I have always loved her work and she really nailed the overall feel of this EP. It just really makes you feel uneasy like something is behind you, following you with ill intent.

Burke: Yes, Christen Shaw is one of Seattle's best artists. I could write many songs inspired by her paintings.

Me: Talk about meaning, what's the deal with scissors? A lot of your die-hard fans get scissor tattoos on their bodies, am I right? I have a picture of one here I have to show.

Zach: Yeah it has become an icon synonymous with our band. It means different things to different people and I'm sure they all get asked if they are hair stylists.

Burke: What happens in scissor club stays in scissor club.

Me: So, are you guys working on any new music now? You're not gonna break up again, right?

Zach: Yes, we are all doing some pretty amazing things right now, Jonah's fronting a band called Trash Fire, Burke and his wife are working on her solo stuff and a new project called The Gossip Choir and Leif and I are doing a band called Crooked Veils. Always working never sleeping, coffee, coffee coffee.

Burke: Always press record.

Me: I didn't ask, where did the name Vendetta Red come from? Who came up with the band name? 

Zach: I thought those two words sounded really well together and it just kinda fell off my tongue way back in like '96.

Burke: More like Vendetta Shred.

Me: Okay, so, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. You ready? What remains undone that you've wanted to get done for years?

Zach: I've always wanted to reach more people through music and build a sustainable fan base with it. Still on the journey you know? 

Burke: My glow in the dark Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings chess set.

Me: Thanks so much for being here, guys. Go ahead and plug your website and I wish you lots of luck. Please come back again.

Zach: Thank you so much.

Burke: Have a great day.

Ta-da. That's about it for this Christmas-filled entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and Zach and Burke from Vendetta Red. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Phile Alum and author Jim Korkis. Then on Monday the last entry of the year with singer Mark Lassiter. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. And have a safe Christmas, kids.