Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? Let's start off with a story about a guy that's hardly in the news and I never talk about on the Phile... just kidding.
Trump has been hard at work last week signing horrendous executive orders and making the White House feel a little bit more like a White home. With regards to the latter, he decided he wanted to hang up a nice historic picture from his first week in office, since everyone has been so happy with his efforts thus far (not!). And of course, he chose to commemorate his inauguration... you know, the one that he forced Sean Spicer to falsely claim was the most well-attended in history, the one that had a mere third of the attendees of the Women's March on Washington that took place the next day. To forever preserve that moment for posterity, Trump decided to frame a photo of the scene on that rainy day when everyone's nightmares came true. The image even includes some lovely script noting the date of the event, so Trump will never forget the day that he was a whiny little baby who threw a fit when no one came to his party. But wait, look closer. What's that date they have written on there?
Oops, it's January 21st, the date of the largest protest in U.S. history! Hehe, what a funny little mistake. While many people took to Twitter to claim that the picture being used was actually from the Women's March (man, wouldn't that have been amazing), Snopes has dismissed that as a false rumor. Nevertheless, having the wrong date on there feels like a tiny taste of some sweet, sweet karma. History will remember that as the more important date, too.
In the last few days, a quote from legendary astrophysicist Carl Sagan has gone viral because of how accurately it describes the current political climate in the U.S.... despite the fact that Sagan died in 1996. The quote is from his book "Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark," originally published in 1995. Here's the full quote, "Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness." Amazingly, these comments were made during the Clinton administration, when the U.S. economy was stronger than it's been at any point since. But Sagan, who became world famous after he hosted the original "Cosmos" series, was always known as a forward-thinking man. (He could actually see beyond time, through the fourth dimension.) But as eerie as this quote is, many are pointing out that the rest of the chapter has aged less well. Sagan goes on to use the mid-90s popularity of "Beavis and Butt-Head" and Dumb and Dumber as evidence of the dumbing-down of America. And those things are awesome. Imagine if Sagan had lived to see "The Bachelor." He would be horrified. Two decades after his death, Carl Sagan remains an inspiring but mystifying figure.
This weekend, amidst roiling protests of the Muslim ban, Donald Trump decided to host his first movie night in the White House, THR reports. Can you imagine the pressure he must have felt to pick a movie that would help his family and staff members forget the damage he has done to innocent immigrants' and refugees' lives? That's a lot riding on a 90-minute cinematic experience. He could go the comedy route, and choose something to lift their spirits and help them forget that the first detainees under his ruling were Iraqis who said they'd be killed if they returned to Iraq. Or maybe he'd choose a sad but ultimately uplifting drama, to remind him that it's early on in his presidency and perhaps his ratings will improve (unlikely). What a hard call to make! But, you know what Trump picked? It's pretty rich. I couldn't have made up a better choice. He picked Finding Dory. Yes, the sequel to Finding Nemo. Yes, the movie about a separated family who travels the ocean in hopes of finding each other again. HMMM, DOES THIS PLOT SOUND FAMILIAR TO YOU? For example, you might say that the plot of this movie sounds an awful lot like the real life stories of refugees and immigrants who had hoped to come to the U.S. to reunite with their families?? Might you say that? I would. I'm willing to bet his short attention span stopped him from empathizing with any of the characters and their struggles in the movie. Personally, I'd love to know if Ivanka was there and if she was hungover from the party she went to last night.
Oh, you didn't hear about that? Lemme tell you... The other night, as refugees were detained upon arrival to the U.S. and thousands of people flocked to major airports across the country to protest the Muslim ban, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner were having a fancy date night for the 1%. She posted a photo on Twitter of the couple posing in formal outfits for what appears to be a black-tie affair, with no comment, NY Mag reports.
This image serves as a symbol of the massive gulf between the rich and the disenfranchised populations of the world, and the extreme levels of wealth now present in the White House, and why that's problematic. Even though the date for the event they attended was likely set a long time ago, it makes no sense why she would post a photo of the opulent evening, except for the fact that she is clearly incredibly tone-deaf. It's stomach-churning to imagine the two of them enjoying cocktails, eating tiny, meticulously-made hors d'ouevres and making small talk with out soulless elites, while immigrants and refugees are being turned away at the borders, unable to reunite with their friends or visit sick family members. I wonder if it's hard to dance while knowing that your father has just signed an incredibly self-serving, Islamophobic executive order. Ivanka's oblivious response to Saturday's unrest has her in good company with Uber, who also failed to properly acknowledge the protests. Hey, Ivanka, she wore it better...
Moving on... I have to talk about Star Wars... Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you haven't seen it yet, what's wrong with you? Star Wars fever has once again gripped the public, raising body temperatures to dangerous heights and threatening to wipe out an entire generation of frail nerds. The reason? On January 23rd, Disney finally released the title of the next installment... Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As soon as it was announced, this title sparked a wave of speculation among the fans. Who is the last jedi? Luke? Rey? CHEWIE? We won't know for sure until the movie comes out in December. But some eagle-eyed fans have noticed a pattern in the titles of the first two movies in the new trilogy that may provide a clue. Put back-to-back, the titles form a sentence. The Force Awakens The Last Jedi. Could this be a coincidence? Knowing how much thought (and money) Disney is putting into the franchise, that seems unlikely. And what's more, this sentence isn't necessarily finished. The as-yet unannounced title of Episode IX could provide another clause. Disney has proven once again that they're masters of torturing us with anticipation. We already couldn't wait until December 15th; now we can't wait until May 23rd, 2019. They're manipulating us like Palpatine, and we're powerless to resist.
So, there was more protestors this weekend because of the Muslim band. Some people had the best and sassiest signs. I have to show you a few...
And then there was this one...
That made me laugh. And then there was this one that didn't make me laugh at all...
How cute though. Do you kids like video games? There's a brand new one out that is not selling very good.
My son loves "Battlefield 1." I said to him is the sequel gonna be called "Battlefield 2"? Haha. Speaking of video games, I saw this the other day and it reminded me of something...
Then it hit me...
That's so stupid... that's as stupid as this...
So, I mentioned the name of the new Star Wars film is The Last Jedi... well, that's better than the original title they had planned.
It doesn't make sense really. This poster for the movie also doesn't make sense...
I'm so confused. Alright, this just in... Trump just signed what could be a new executive order. Let's see what it says...
Ummm... that's not an executive order. So, there's a lot of Trump products out there and not all are flattering. Like this one...
In a move that seems intentional, high-end fashion house Gucci have put out a slipper made from goat hair that looks just like the mythical mop on top of the president's head. Gucci's Princetown Goat-Hair Mules retail for a whopping $1,800. Despite their uncanny resemblance to what people refer to as Trump's “hair,” it's important to note that Gucci dyed the goat hair in order to achieve its, er... Trumpy... look that Gucci describes as “New Natural.” Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...
Top Phive Groups Who Went To See "A Dog's Purpose" This Past Weekend
5. Three Labradors is a trench coat who fooled the ticket-taker.
4. Buddhists who believe that we will all, at some point, be reincarnated to play frisbee with Dennis Quaid.
3. Seeing-eye dogs who ignored their owner's desire to go to Rogue One.
2. Nearsighted perverts who think it's about a dog coin' it with a porpoise.
And the number one group who went to see "A Dog's Purpose" is...
1. People who loved both the book and the viral dog-abuse video.
Hahaha. That's one of my favorite ones. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. So, my son and I were talking about how we used to watch "Sesame Street" together when he was a kid. It's not quite the same as I remember though.
Big Bird, thunking he is following Jackie Chan, gets involved with the wedding between two Triad families. Somehow he becomes the second-hand man to the clan controlling the heroin trade for thirteen entire nations. Within days Big Bird has increased their profits by eighteen million.
The 56th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
The author and the guy who put it together and Phile Alum Gary Gerani will be the guest on the Phile next Sunday. Alright, the Oscars are around the corner so I thought it'll be fun to talk about some Oscar facts in a pheature I will call simply....
The 82nd Academy Awards winner of Best Picture, The Hurt Locker has broken a new record in the movie industry. The Hurt Locker bagged 6 Oscars out of nine... a remarkable feat considering it is the lowest grossing movie ever to win the Oscars. Word has it that it only earned $21 million, that's less than 2% of what Avatar has made in domestic ticket sales. Woody Allen's Annie Hall, which made $38 million after its 1977 release, or about $130 million when adjusted for inflation, held the previous record.
Alright, today's guest is the writer, co-director and actor in the original show "The Spielers" which will have its debut at the Orlando Fringe Festival in May. Please welcome to the Phile... Bryan Jager.
Me: Hey, Scooby, welcome to the Phile. Hahaha. How are you?
Bryan: Hahaha, I'm doing well, Jason.
Me: I'll leave it up to you of you want to say why I called you, Scooby, my friend.
Bryan: I will leave that to the reader's imagination, hahaha.
Me: I will say in full disclosure I work with you at Disney as your Coordinator and you are one of the best Cast Members at the attraction. How long have you been working with me now?
Bryan: Aw, that's really very sweet of you, Jason. I did my Disney College Program at Star Tours back in fall of 2013 and I've been seasonal there ever since so, three and a half years now.
Me: You're originally from New York, right? New York City or Long Island?
Bryan: Well, I grew up in northern New Jersey, and went to college in the city.
Me: You're now living down here in Orlando, am I right?
Bryan: Yes, I've been living in Orlando on and off for the past three and a half years, but when I graduated this May, I moved down pretty much full time. I'll still go back and forth up to New York for auditions/friends and family, but 2016 was the first year I've spent more time in Orlando than up north.
Me: So, correct me if I am wrong but you went to acting school... where did you go, Bryan?
Bryan: I did! I went to Marymount Manhattan College in New York.
Me: What was your major in?
Bryan: I majored in Theatre Arts with a double concentration in Directing and Playwriting.
Me: As well as working at Disney you also work at the Distinguished Competition... Universal... which one do you like better?
Bryan: Well, I like working entertainment a lot better than working in attractions, I'll admit, hahaha. And I'm lucky enough to have worked for most (if not all) of the theme parks down here in Central Florida. But really, they're all wonderful companies to whom I owe a lot.
Me: Alright, let's talk about "The Spielers." Some people I am sure have no idea what that word means... "spieler." I at Disney over the years had to do many spiels. Not my favorite thing to do. Anyway, explain briefly what a spiel and spieler.
Bryan: So, a spieler is any attractions attendant who is required to deliver a written speech or so to any grouping of guests. Pretty much every attraction has a spieler in some shape or form, but for some (like Great Movie Ride or Jungle Cruise) the spieler is integral to the story of the attraction and almost becomes a part of your ride.
Me: What was the longest and hardest spiel you ever did, Bryan?
Bryan: Oh, that would've been a Halloween costume parade I worked last year. The name of the parade was stupidly long, and repeated multiple times throughout the 20 minute script. So there was a lot of back tracking/ never knowing where in the show I was, hahaha.
Me: Mine is the Sega Dreamcast spiel I had to do at Universal in 1999. I still have nightmares about it. You were just a baby in 1999, right?
Bryan: Well, old enough to remember coming to Disney World multiple times, hahaha.
Me: Okay, so, what is "The Spielers"? Is it a play or a musical?
Bryan: I love this question, because I get it so much. I always go with the words of esteemed character actor Mandy Patinkin and call it "a journey," hahaha. But for real, it's a play with musical elements. So it's mostly spoken, however we have a composer who's writing the underscoring, and (without giving anything away) there are some rather fun moments of music and song.
Me: What is it about?
Bryan: "The Spielers" is an irreverent action adventure parody of classic theme park spieling attractions. It takes place in the ancient Temple of Neptunus, which has been turned into a world class touring attraction thanks to the the Intercontinental Explorers group. But when the Professor goes missing, it's up to a rag-tag band of tour guides, or "Spielers" to rescue him and save the day. So it's Goonies meets "A Very Potter Musical" meets all the classic theme park spieling attractions like Jungle Cruise, The Great Movie Ride, and Poseidon's Fury.
Me: You're the co-director and writer of it, right? Who is the other director?
Bryan: I'm working with Brenna Hughes, who I went to Marymount with. We worked on a production of "EVITA" together my senior year, and have collaborated on this and that ever since. Her background is in dance, so she is more so in charge of a number of larger/ intricate movement sequences throughout the show. But she's also in charge of keeping me sane throughout this whole process, hahaha.
Me: Okay, so, how did you come up with the idea and the concept of the show?
Bryan: Well, a year or so ago, I was talking with some friends about the weird brand of theme park rides turned movies that Disney churned out in the early 2000s. We said that Universal would never do something like that, as all of their rides are based on pre-existing properties/films, except for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Disaster, and Poseidon's Fury. I made the joke that they should make a Poseidon's Fury film, and we all tossed around ideas of what it would consist of: some amalgamation of the two story lines, the water tunnel sequence, a not so bright but well meaning foreign tourist as your "assistant." And a while later, there was this weird little controversy about the upcoming Jungle Cruise film not using actual Jungle Cruise skippers. So, from those two things, the idea for a show about the spielers who made these rides into attractions formed.
Me: How many people in the show with you, Bryan?
Bryan: We're currently in the process of casting, but it's a company of about 10-12 actors.
Me: So, where did you get the cast from?
Bryan: Well, we had an open call earlier this month for anyone in Central Florida to submit, but we were especially looking for anyone who'd come from a spieling attraction. And I'm really happy to say a large amount of our cast is pulled from people who attended that call.
Me: Was it easy to sell the show and get people to be in it?
Bryan: Surprisingly, yes, hahaha.
Me: So, tell me about "white-HAMILTON." I have no interest in the play "Hamilton." You couldn't pay me enough to see it. Your version is more politically correct than the other version, right?
Bryan: Well, sort of. "(white) HAMILTON" was an Internet short I worked on in my last semester of college.
Me: I have to show a screen shot of it...
Me: You rap in the video.
Bryan: I did, hahaha, not very well.
Me: And you wrote that short?
Bryan: I wrote and directed it.
Me: It's very funny... and I like at the end when she says, "We're Nazis. We're fucking Nazis." Well done, Bryan. Alright, back to "The Spielers"... there's a gofund me pledge to raise money for the show, am I right?
Bryan: You are correct!
Me: How much are you looking to raise, Bryan?
Bryan: Our final goal is $10,000.
Me: So, how much have you raised so far?
Bryan: As of this writing we're just below $2,000.
Me: Why do you need 10,000 dollars for the show?
Bryan: Well, theatre (even for Fringe) is expensive. The budget covers a variety of different purposes from a heightened production budget (sets, costumes, lights, puppets, special effects, animation sequences), lodging for our New York actors/creatives, rehearsal spaces, even stuff like paper goods (printing 20 copies of a 60 page script is not cheap).
Me: Okay, so, if I donated right now a hundred dollars what do I get?
Bryan: Four tickets to the final production and a poster signed by the cast and crew.
Me: What's the highest anyone has pledged?
Bryan: I want to say $200?
Me: The show will be performed in May at the Orlando Fringe Festival... which is something I have never been to but always wanted to go. Maybe I'll go this year and see your show. Have you been to it before?
Bryan: I went just this past year, actually.
Me: What did you have to do to get "The Spielers" into the Festival?
Bryan: Well, the Orlando Fringe Festival operates a randomized lottery drawing to pick who gets slots, divided into categories based upon theatre seating capacity. We were incredibly lucky and were picked as the 13th out of 14 guaranteed slots. I was actually in Disney at Magic Kingdom, playing in the park with a friend, listening to the live stream and when they called our name, my face just dropped and I said "Oh shit... I need to get $1000 in a week." Hahaha.
Me: Will you be filming the show, Bryan?
Bryan: We're hoping to. There's a couple copyright logistics we are working to figure out, but the goal is to have a longer life for this piece.
Me: Do you think they'll be more than one performance of this show or will you be taking this show on the road?
Bryan: We're scheduled 4 performances at Fringe, past that the future is wide open in terms of possibilities.
Me: You'll need a tour manager... hint, hint. Haha.
Bryan: I will keep that in mind, hahaha.
Me: So, one thing about you I didn't know is is that you draw... so do I. How long have you been drawing, Bryan?
Bryan: Oh, forever, hahaha. Like even before starting theatre I've always loved art and drawing.
Me: If someone donates a certain amount they'll get a drawing of themselves?
Bryan: Yes! For $25 you will get a custom pen and ink caricature in whatever pose, clothing/ whatever you want drawn by myself.
Me: Alright, I'm donating a hundred dollars, Bryan. This show better be good. Hahaha.
Bryan: I am holding you to that! Hahaha.
Me: Are you nervous about it?
Bryan: I think you have to be at least a little nervous before anything like this. It's my first show at the Orlando Fringe Festival, the first time any of my writing is getting professionally produced. It's a lot on my shoulders. But I also have a fantastic team working with me to (as I say) bring this nightmare to life, and that alone gives me faith that we're going to produce something incredible.
Me: So, I have to ask.... did you design the logo for the show? It's very Goonies looking.
Bryan: I did! Hahaha.
Me: Okay, so, what's the address of the gofundme page where anyone can pledge?
Me: Do you have a website you wanna plug, Bryan?
Bryan: We have our YouTube channel, where we'll be posting new content weekly: youtube.com/channel/UCYrUzRa9TdhS7pF9L50HoDw. And we have a Facebook page where we'll be posting new content daily: facebook.com/thespielers2017/.
Me: Good luck with this project... if you want I'll have you back here before or after the show is done. What do you think?
Bryan: That sounds great! Another excuse to talk with you! Hahaha.
Me: Take care, be good, and I'm sure I'll see you at the spaceport soon.
Bryan: Fingers crossed!
That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Bryan for a great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with author and Phile Alum Gary Gerani. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.
Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker