Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pheaturing Drew Michael

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. How are you? Before a polar vortex makes you freeze your little ass off, take some time to stay inside and read the Phile. It's that time of year when you hop in your car and just start screaming "fuck" until you're warm again. It's so cold in most of the United States that it's starting to bother Elsa now. Okay, let's start by talking about the former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, because his presidential aspirations got Venti-sized ratios.
Is running for president just "starting a podcast" for rich people? Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO and self-proclaimed centrist independent, is flirting with a presidential run, and therefore with getting Trump re-elected by splitting by anti-Trump vote. If replies to his tweets are any indication, the people do not want this to happen. They can best be summed up as "please, for the love of god, DON'T DO IT." The Democratic party in Washington state has taken to trolling Schultz.

The Atlantic reports that the constituency his advisors imagine as yearning for a Schultz presidency doesn't even exist. There are only two people who are excited about a Howard Schultz candidacy: Howard Schultz and Donald Trump. Why can't the super rich just be satisfied being super rich?
Donald Trump Jr. has done it again. He has written words on the Internet and accidentally confounded and brought joy to countless people. Per usual, the way he accidentally caused joy is inextricably linked to him failing at owning the libs. Don Jr.'s failed slam dunk came in response to Conservative John Willow's tweet dramatically mocking the 2020 Democratic platform. Naturally, ol' Don Jr. couldn't resist the opportunity to swoop in with a joke, so he searched his brain and made this golden tweet...

This is when the record scratch began, because S&L?! Since there was no indication that Don Jr. was kidding around with that creative renaming of "SNL," the tweet ushered in a lot of questions. And honestly, the idea of Don Jr., a full-grown man who is 41-years-old, living out his entire life mistaking "Saturday Night Live" for "Saturday and Live" is a beautifully absurd thought. I want to know what "Saturday and Live" would look like. Would it be a different format?! Does Don Jr. have a packet he's planning to submit?! Honestly, this failing tweet was an end of week snack for everyone looking for a bit of levity and an opportunity to sharpen their roasting skills. Just imagine, you are 41-years old, you come from money and all the resources to watch and keep up with television, and you just learned the true name of "SNL." This Don Jr. flub was the chef's kiss that Twitter needed for morale today.
Tomi Lahren, who yells at your grandparents for a living, wants sitting congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to know that there's more to life than just social media. The host of a yell-a-thon on Fox News' streaming service Fox Nation appeared on the president's daily briefing, "Fox and Friends," to suggest that people only support Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's platform of Medicare for All and climate action because she's good at Twitter. People were quick to note that Tammy Lasagna knows nothing about "actually being successful in real life," unlike AOC, who won her election and is now the youngest congresswoman in American history. Now that's successful and also real life. Timmy Lerlamet's take is actually a massive self-own. Is Tummy Livingston crying for help? Does Tabitha Lillipad know that when she talks, we can hear her, and that she's speaking from a perch granted to her by corporate overlords rather than her fellow citizens, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? AOC has yet to respond, as she is busy being successful in real life. Run for Congress, Tamela! It's time to show the world what "real success" looks like.
Speaking of AOC... A conservative tried to shame the congresswoman for having been a bartender, and I know that the Internet is full of hyperbole, but I swear that I'm not hyperbolizing when I say that her response is the best. Electoral politics is all about vanquishing trolls... whether in primaries or committee hearings or elections... and AOC is so good at it it's like watching Vincent van Gogh paint. The congresswoman was discussing the double standard America has when billionaires such as the Starbucks guy decide to enter politics. People think that the fact that someone has a lot of money means they are Very Smart, and should therefore be considered Very Serious Candidates. First-term Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez noted that her candidacy didn't receive such treatment. Conservative researcher Alex VanNess decided to respond to the tweet by demonstrating her exact point.

"The bartender" responded with her resume, and the guy deleted his tweet out of fear. Oh, and here's the best part...

VanNess may have deleted his tweet, but the congresswoman keeps receipts. Not only did that dude self-own by publicizing his elitist, classist bias, he opened himself up to being dog walked. Next time you want to shame a member of Congress for their working class background, maybe don't?
When it comes to heated and competitive feelings, awards shows are basically the Super Bowl for pop culture junkies. Regardless of who gets nominated and who wins, there will always be deeply disappointed naysayers trash talking the awards and gloating fans celebrating a win. When it comes to the Grammys, this swirl of intense feelings is normally limited to the night of the show itself. However, this week it came early when the Twitter account Main Pop Data supposedly leaked the Grammy winners ahead of time. According to Main Pop Data's "leak" the winners of the top four categories are Cardi B for Record of the Year ("I Like It"), Lady Gaga for Song of the Year ("Shallow"), H.E.R. for album of the year, and Chloe x Halle for Best New Artist. According to the leak, Beck was slated for Best Pop Solo, The Carters took Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best R&B Performance, and Drake is going to take home Best Rap Song. People on Twitter were thoroughly up in arms, both out of anger and excitement over the Grammy predictions. Luckily, for those upset, a spokesperson for the Recording Academy stepped in and refuted the claims. They told Billboard the leak was false, and that none of the names are revealed until the day of the awards. "There is no legitimacy to this. Grammy Awards results are not shared, even with Recording Academy staff members, until the day of the Grammy Awards ceremony, when names of the recipients are delivered by Deloitte in sealed envelopes." It appears, per usual, we'll have to hold our anger or applause until February 10th, when the actual Grammys take place.
So, it's so cold in Chicago look what was seen walking around...

It's so cold that Lenny Kravitz is wearing his living room rug...

Hahahaha. He's still so fucking cool. I've been saying all through January some clapbacks at MAGA trolls that made the Internet great again in 2018.

Looks directly at the camera. Some people are so dumb people so dumb they made the entire Internet face palm in 2018.

Interesting take on "strawberries." You know, if I had a TARDIS I would go to Auschwitz Concentration Camp and try to help the Hungarian Jews who were being selected by Nazis to be sent to the gas chamber in Auschwitz...

I think time travel exists and Freddie Mercury did it...

That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...

So, the Super Bowl is this upcoming Sunday and the officials are already training...

Hahahahaha. It's Thursday, kids, you know that that means...

I'm glad I'm not eating... ugh. Now for a new pheature called...

Hahahahahahaha. That makes me laugh. From one bundle of joy to another. Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Ways You Know That You Are Living In 2019 When...
5. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.
4. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
3. You have a list of fifteen phone numbers to reach your family of three.
2. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
And the number one way you know that you are living in 2019 is...
1. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

Finding one of her students making faces at others on the playground, Ms. Smith stopped to gently reprove the child. Smiling sweetly, the teacher said, "Johnny, when I was a child, I was told if that I made ugly faces, it would freeze and I would stay like that." Johnny looked up and replied, "Well, Ms. Smith, you can't say you weren't warned."

This is stupid. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know.

The President of the United States has access to the most sophisticated intelligence in the world and can summon any great mind to revered White House for a briefing. This president, however, likes to get his information from his friends on "Fox and Friends," live-tweeting his favorite show so everyone can see just how ideas are injected into his lizard brain. Trump tweeted about bible classes in public schools on Monday morning after enjoying his TiVo'ed briefing, and with a Tony the Tiger-inspired tweet, called them "Great!"

Separation of church and state be damned: Trump is all about that (religious Right) base. Trump, who famously quoted Second Corinthians as "Two Corinthians." Trump, who likely never touched a bible until his inauguration (barf). Trump, who got caught committing campaign finance violations by paying off the porn star he slept with while his third wife was nursing their child. It's easily to assume that the president isn't genuinely interested in the bible. The only thing Trump truly understands about the bible is the incest.

Can I get an "Amen"?

The 92nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Cathy Rudolph, the author of the book will be on the Phile this coming Monday.

And the guest will be legendary Disney animator Floyd Norman. Now for some Super Bowl...

Phact 1. Deion Sanders is the only man to play in a Super Bowl and World Series. And the first play in two professional league games in the same day. And score a touchdown and hit a home run in the same week.

Phact 2. The idea for YouTube, in part, was conceived when the founders couldn’t find a video of Janet Jackson’s breast popping out during the Super Bowl.

Phact 3. Super Bowl in 2016 used the Arabic numeral 50 instead of Roman Numeral L.

Phact 4. A guy named Dion Rich is the godfather of the Super Bowl gatecrasher.

Phact 5. When the Super Bowl and the Presidential Inauguration conflicted, the President did the coin toss ceremony for the Super Bowl and had his public inauguration the next day.

Today's pheatured guest is a stand up comedian whose self titled special is available on HBO. Please welcome to the Phile... Drew Michael.

Me: Hey there, Drew, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Drew: Hi, I'm good.

Me: Okay, so for your first one hour HBO special you do stand-up with no audience. What made you decide to do that?

Drew: That was a combination of discussions between myself and Jerrod Carmichael who was the director and producer of the special. We were always focused on not only the what the comedian or what I'm saying what the material is etc., also how that is captured for viewers at home. That was sort of the starting point, how can we capture this in an interesting way. What speaks kind of directly to the material, the person involved the intention of the hour. And we were playing back and forth this idea how do we make it feel like there's nobody there and still keep the tension that an audience provides. Ultimately he said, "I think we just do this without an audience present." I thought about it for about five seconds and that was it, there was no going back. It felt so perfect to me.

Me: Okay, so, what's the reason? I have done stand-up before and I can't imagine doing it in front of no one.

Drew: There's a lot of reasons to do it, there's atheistic advantages but also more importantly it stays true to who I am. And to the types of themes that I talk about in terms of isolation and kind of being wrapped up in my own thoughts and that kind of thing. I think we found an interesting way to portray that and communicate that visual.

Me: Technically, Drew, you say it's a stand-up special without an audience but people are watching it... from their homes. Haha.

Drew: Exactly. But there's no live audience, there's no stage, there's no mic, no stool, no untouched glass of water and there's silence.

Me: You've been doing stand-up for a long time, was there an instinct you had to work against to be okay with silence after your jokes? Normally it's not good if there's silence after a comedian does a joke.

Drew: It's interesting because one of the things I think that when I've been performing the last ten years on stage and touring the country and doing it in the sort of conventional way silence was always something that for whatever reason I was very capable of handling. I enjoyed, I leaned into it. Even if there is a crowd there there's obviously moments that are going to be more tense or where there's tension inside the crowd because of what I said, because I haven't released it yet. Rather than use that as an impetuous to get out of it or cower to that and say how to I get out of this, whether it's a self-deprecating line or a punch line to release this tension I was okay with that being the case. And so to take the extreme leap of immersing myself in nothing but that yeah, it was definitely challenging but it wasn't like I was starting from zero in that respect. I definitely had something I would say oddly I was comfortable with.

Me: This is crazy to me. You talk about suicide in the special, which everyone is not going to find funny. Was there any intention of doing that? Not suicide but saying stuff that you know people wouldn't think was a joke, or you trying to be funny.

Drew: Well, I think also because of the suicide bit you pointed out it's a very visual special as well. So I don't know if I would have done, if this was only audio I don't know I would have done it that way. That said it's obvious what you're saying is true to the sense that if people are laughing around me... look, I go back and forth, I've done enough shows to know what a crowd should sound like. What doing well sounds like and what not doing well sounds like. There are many times I'm doing great and one person who didn't like it will talk about it or come to me and say, "Yeah, nobody was laughing." And I'm like, "Yeah, YOU weren't laughing. In your head everybody wasn't also." We do have this way of kind of being somewhat solecistic about our responses. Obviously this is an extreme example where I don't hear laughter that's because nobody is laughing, I am the only person who could change that.

Me: I wonder if you played the film to an audience how they would laugh, or if they would. Did you think of that?

Drew: Yeah. We screened the special at a premier a few days before it aired and it was in front of 200 or so people and it was getting those house laughs I would get in a comedy club.

Me: Oh, cool. What was that like?

Drew: It's interesting, because obviously they're experiencing it with the crowd there, and so that obviously changes it. As I said before it really zeroes in on my surroundings and the situation I'm in. That's a pivot, we could talk about whatever you want but it's interesting to me because to me shooting without an audience that to me that's just one component. The majority of it in my opinion is what's written. Obviously with playing with the audience dynamic is playing experimenting with form as much as the material and the script is experimenting with the content.

Me: I don't have HBO and haven't seen the special, just the trailer. There's a girl in the trailer who it looks like you speak to her. Who is that, Drew?

Drew: She's a British actress named Suki Waterhouse. The jokes are interspersed with this woman who I'm "dating" over FaceTime.

Me: What made you decide to include her and that bit into the special?

Drew: Well, my material is all on the focus of all my issues personally and how they relate to or how they impact relationships and things like. And so you're getting a very thorough sort of mining of those issues and what's underneath them and what causes them. For me that's what I always liked about stand-up comedy was hearing somebody kind of go that far into themselves and really reach down deep and pull out something then use that ability to turn that into jokes or comedy or a piece of a four minute bit. Oh my God, I cannot believe they took this one thought and spun it into gold like that. That's always what I inspired to do in my own way. I feel like I've done that throughout my career and I got better at doing that more and more personals and less and less about how everything in the world is messed up. I sort of realized that doing so it's done under the guise of honesty, right, whereas this is I'm just being so honest because I'm just ripping so far into myself but there's a certain inherent dishonesty with that because I think no matter how much I'm saying, how confessional I am, how much I am revealing it still is me who is in total control. I am in 100% control, I can decide to reveal or not reveal, how it's portrayed, the confidence with which I say it is somewhat fake because I've rehearsed this and so. Primarily it exists solely in my mind and any sort of counter balance from the actual world. And so there were a couple, and the two biggest reasons to include the relationship with Suki's character was to give a little flavor of moments of how these things of what exists on top of subcutaneous inner monologue what I'm experiencing. Not only what's existing in the material world but also how these things impact that and the sort of damage that they could cause and not let me off the hook for it, but also this sort of counterpoint that could be provided by reality.

Me: Hmmm, so how do you continue on after this special? Do you continue on talking about personal stuff and understanding the hypocrisy in doing so or does this make you change your act? 

Drew: I haven't done stand-up in over four months. Since we wrapped up, I've been on stage twice since then.

Me: Is that because what I'm asking about?

Drew: A 100%. Well, it's not because people would think that, but because I felt this until the end of my last tour and most of going through it out of respect of putting the material together the way that I intended. That was what got me through the last leg of the tour, and that's what got me through the filming of it. I was able to summon the emotions that were present there. But I already knew the punchline, I already knew the ending. So I had to play true to the character rather than play true to the special, if that makes sense. I had to stay in the moment of the guy who is convicted in this. Which is I think how good stand-up is usually presented... with conviction. I have to believe that in what I'm saying or had believed at one point and be able to access that point. And also believe the way I am saying is is valid, and is worth it. And so, yeah, if I completely undermine that I find this sort of inherent subversion of my own art form. Which is really a part of my identity after awhile. Its not like this is some hobby I picked up, this has been my whole life for over ten years now. It gives purpose to sort of every moment that I've lived over these last decade, because almost everything I do, I'm working towards something, Yes I'm going through all these things but there's sort of a nobility to sacrifice, right. When I start to realize there's not it definitely makes me give pause. I'm not going to lie to you, your question is right on the money.

Me: So, do you have the answer to this?

Drew: No, I don't have the answer, and I knew that going in when making this I would be setting myself up to be completely severed from what had gotten me to this point. I can't just go back and do something lateral or do something that feels underneath what we put out. And so I knew by doing this I knew I'd force myself to wither adapt and find and new way in presenting ideas or I would not do that any more. Both of those I accepted going into it because I can't deny something just because it's convenient.

Me: How are you dealing with it?

Drew: It's a process. It's weird because traditionally someone shoots their first hour for HBO and it gets the kind of response that this has gotten, they're off to the races, they're booking a forty city tour, they're going X, Y and Z but it would be weird for me to do that. I don't even mean that from a PR stand point, but for me as an artist and as a person. And so I'm trying to find the way forward that most accurately represents that, that growth and that change and what have you.

Me: I don't know what to say to that. Do you think a lot of people could relate to that?

Drew: Yeah, there's something fundamentally difficult about pulling the rug out from under myself. This might get too involved but I attach so myself of my identity and also the motivation is tied to these things. For example, if you take this special at face value with all these issues with relationships and so on and so forth in order to change that I have to let go of certain things in order to grow, right, I have to let go of old habits and old mindsets and old emotions, etc, etc. But inside of those sometimes are the motivation to do the thing that got me to the place where I could sort of ask that question. So I'm finding that inside of the bad habits is the desire to do sand-up and the justification to do it and motivation to do it I have to be compelled. The lifestyle is so terrible that the only reason I would do it is because I HAVE to. If I remove that I realize I am no longer have to and if I feel like I have to that's because I'm acting on a bad impulse. That changes a lot, that changes how I move about my day, how I navigate my life. Truthfully it's been very interesting but it's difficult for sure. I can't deny that.

Me: Drew, thanks for being on the Phile. This was such a deep interview. Haha. Please come back on the Phile again soon.

Drew: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it, Jason.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Drew Michael for the interview. Half the time it was hard to understand what he was talking about. He's pretty deep and smart... more than I am. Haha. The Phile will be back on Monday with author Cathy Rudolph. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

I don't want you, cook my bread, I don't want you, make my bed, I don't want your money too, I just want to make love to you. - Willie Dixon

Monday, January 28, 2019

Pheaturing Phile Alum Brian Volk-Weiss

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you doing? This is funny... Daniel Radcliffe made a move even bolder than dueling Lord Voldemort by talking about football and politics in one sentence. Considering he's British and probably doesn't fully grasp the rage of our divided nation on both Trump and Tom Brady, he might just be the fearless leader we all need. In an interview with Variety, Radcliffe challenged the Patriots' winning streak (despite losing last year to the Philadelphia Eagles) and Brady's political beliefs.

Damn, Daniel! While he's right that Brady has been pretty open about his support of President Trump, the MAGA hat in his locker is a reference to 2015. Apparently Brady was gifted the hat by Trump for judging one of Trump's beauty pageants which is a real eye-roll of an image. When asked about the hat in 2015, Brady said, "So, I’ve known him for a long time and he always gives me a call on different types of motivational speeches at different times. Now that he’s running for president he sent me a hat and he gave it to RKK a couple of weeks ago so it found its way to my locker.’’ Since 2015, a lot has obviously changed for Trump. Brady has still been a supporter, although he did openly disagree with Trump's stance on kneeling during the National Anthem. When the president called the players' silent protest of police brutality against people of color "unpatriotic," Brady said, "I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive. Like I said, I just want to support my teammates." Despite Radcliffe's risky opinion, fans were there for him. Brave man, Radcliffe. Please do yourself a favor and stay out of Boston for a long time...
Longtime Trump advisor, Nixon fanboy, and Mr. Peanut cosplayer Roger Stone has been indicted in the Mueller investigation. He was charged with seven counts: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering, all in an effort to allegedly hide his foreknowledge of WikiLeaks releasing Hillary Clinton's hacked emails. The indictment cites interaction with what may sound kind of dry, but it's not. This is a big fuckin' deal. As you may recall, FBI agents currently aren't getting paid because of the government shutdown, but a whole bunch of them volunteered because they knew how fun this would be. The always calm, cool, and collected President Trump responded to the news with his classic mix of catchphrases, implying that all immigrants are criminals, and a conspiracy theory about the Mainstream Media.
Here is Roger Stone with the infamous Proud Boys throwing up a White Power sign....

Have fun in Federal Prison prick, maybe the Aryan groups will let you shine their shoes.
At the moment of writing this, it's safe to way that Ann Coulter is none too happy with president Trump. Basically, Trump shut down the government for 35 days in order to secure funding for a border wall, a wall that Coulter is very emotionally attached to (at least in concept). But then, on Friday afternoon Trump made a speech in the White House garden claiming he reached a short-term deal to end the shut down, a bill that doesn't include the original wall funding he desired. While it should be noted, this is a stop-gap solution, and Trump threatened to shut down the government again on February 15th if he doesn't somehow secure funding. Nonetheless, Coulter is very, very disappointed the wall hasn't been funded yet, and considers this move a major cave on Trump's part. This disappointment has translated to a series of disparaging tweets towards the current administration, and honestly, it's a wild ride. To kick things off, Coulter came for the recently deceased former president George HW Bush. She then followed up with some classic shade towards the FBI. Of course, this wouldn't be a proper Coulter meltdown without a reference to MS-13. But then she promptly refocused her ire towards the real villain, Trump. Her most recent tweet is a personal favorite, a shining piece of Internet art bashing none other than Jared Kushner. Needless to say, the Internet has been delightedly slurping up Coulter's angst about the wall. And many anti-Trump people find ourselves agreeing with her for the first time on something. That is, her insults against Trump, not a desire for a wall.
Trolls are lurking everywhere. They hide out in the darkest corners of the Internet with bundles insults in tow, and they run rampant on the sunniest parts of Instagram defecating on people's happiness. Most people who spend a sizable are likely to encounter a few trolls here and there, and these encounters grow exponentially if you're famous. The comedian Patton Oswalt is a veteran at dealing with Internet trolls. Through time and experience he has learned the art of ignoring them when healthy, and also engaging bitter trolls when the time is right. Last week, after Trump posted a rhyming tweet fit for a fascist version of Dr. Seuss, Oswalt did what any profession comedian does: he chimed in with his own poem. 

I truly believe Oswalt could sell whole chapbooks full of anti-Trump prose at his comedy shows. While many of Oswalt's followers were loving the exchange with the president, one man chimed in particularly hard with his hate for the comedian. Michael Beatty said, "I just realized why I was so happy you died in Blade Trinity!" And "And you shoot basketball ike the sawed off little man you are." I think he meant to say "like" instead of "ike." While normally these types of comments get lost by the wayside, this time Oswalt went to Michael Beatty's page before deciding to respond. He quickly discovered that Beatty was a Vietnam veteran who had recently been hospitalized for two weeks. During that time Beatty was in a coma due to diabetes and sepsis, so, rather than engaging with the negativity, Oswalt flipped the dynamic on its head by responding with compassion. Oswalt shared a link to Beatty's health-related GoFundMe, and kicked it off with a $2,000 donation. After that, other donations quickly started pouring in, and Beatty's tone immediately changed. He was completely flabbergasted and touched by the comedian's act of kindness. When Beatty thanked the Internet for their compassion, Oswalt made sure to keep it light by teasing him. Beatty's GoFundMe quickly reached over $30,000, and the donations are still rolling in. People were quick to share how this speaks to Oswalt's character, since most people would (rightfully) insult Beatty or move along. Beatty shared that this exchange, and the outpouring of love profoundly affected him, and he's going to reflect on the ways he engages with people in the future.
NBC Bay Area reports that Akiah Hasan, 26, of East Palo Alto, "walked into a house, then grabbed the resident's cellphone and started live-streaming her burglary over social media." "She was inviting people over (to that house) for a party," Detective Rosemerry Blankswade said. "We didn't get a good explanation." NBC adds that "Hasan stripped to her underwear, and then carried the cellphone into the backyard" and the continued the live-stream, which likely picked up more viewers at that point. Like Bradley Cooper, she was also snubbed of an Oscar nomination for best director.
Instead of doing this blog thing I should be listening to this record...

Actually I bet it's not bad. There was some clapbacks at MAGA trolls that made the Internet great again in 2018.

An A+ in historical revisionism. Some people people so dumb they made the entire Internet face palm in 2018.

Sorry, got a busy day full of aarons. Hahaha. If I had a TARDIS I would probably end up in France or somewhere to see the last public execution by guillotine.

By the way, Eugène Weidmann became the last person to be publicly executed by guillotine. He had brutally killed six people. Just in case you were wondering. If you are thinking about cheating on your loved one you might wanna think twice after seeing this...

Damn. The best thing about the Internet is you can see porn for free and so easily. I'd rather you read the Phile though, but I came up with an idea to keep you here... what if I showed a porn pic? Then I thought you might be at school or work, and I don't want you to get in trouble. But I came up with a solution...

You're welcome. Wanna laugh?

One day a cat dies of natural causes and goes to heaven. There he meets the Lord himself. The Lord says to the cat, "You lived a good life and if there is any way I can make your stay in Heaven more comfortable, please let me know." The cat thinks for a moment and says, "Lord, all my life I have lived with a poor family and had to sleep on a hard wooden floor." The Lord stops the cat and says, "Say no more." and a wonderful fluffy pillow appears. Several days later six mice are killed in a tragic farming accident and go to heaven. Again there is the Lord there to greet them with the same offer. The mice answer, "All of our lives we have been chased. We have had to run from cats, dogs and even women with brooms. Running, running, running; we're tired of running. Do you think we could have roller skates so we don't have to run anymore?" The Lord says, "Say no more." and fits each mouse with beautiful new roller skates. About a week later the Lord stops by to see the cat and finds him snoozing on the pillow. The Lord gently wakes the cat and asks him, "How are things since you are here?" The cat stretches and yawns and replies, "It is wonderful here. Better than I could have ever expected. And those Meals On Wheels you've been sending by are the best!"

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. So, there's this magician that likes to come on to the Phile now and then and talk about his shows. Somehow I don't think he's that successful, but who am I to say. Anyway, I wondered how he's doing so I invited him back. Please welcome back to the Phile...

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

David: Not to bad, Jason.

Me: So, any shows recently? How did they go?

David: I did a show this past Saturday.

Me: How did it go?

David: Well, I was doing some card tricks for my little audience and I pulled forward a little kid. He couldn't have been more than about 5-years-old. So I have him pick a card, and without really thinking I ask him to remember it and start shuffling. After some more patter and cuts and whatnot I'm ready for the big reveal. I kneel down next to the kid and I ask him, "Okay, so what was your card?" And he says, "Red."

Me: Hahahaha. What did you think?

David: That was the day I learned that you always show the card to the whole audience and you don't ask little kids who might not know how to count to remember a card.

Me: You just learnt that? Actually, David, he made that trick like twenty-six times easier for you. Hahaha.

David: True.

Me: David Coppafeel, the world's worst magician, kids. Book him now for your children's birthday party.

After 34 days of needless suffering, President Donald Trump announced that he plans to sign a bill to temporarily open the government even though it doesn't provide funding for his precious contiguous fence. After sickouts and threats of strikes from the aviation industry (and perhaps a desire to shift cable news coverage away from the indictment of Roger Stone), the White House has finally calmed down its tantrum. People are celebrating not only because it means 800,000 people will finally get paid, but also because Trump looks like a big dumb loser. Even conservatives think so. One of the Pizzagate guys has officially jumped off the Trump train. Some are convinced that Trump will declare a national emergency in three weeks to use the military to build the wall, but waiting three weeks (and a month and two years before that!) kind of undercuts the whole "emergency" part. People are celebrating Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for not being the ones who caved, for once. Remember when Roger Stone was indicted?

The 92nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The author, Cathy Rudolph, will be the guest on the Phile next Monday... a week from today. So, there's this guy who wants to stop by and say hello. Apparently he's really fancy. We'll see. Please welcome to the Phile for the first time...

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

Samuel: Splendid, Mr. Peverett, just splendid.

Me: That's good. So, what's up? Have you been "fancy" all your life?

Samuel: Well, Mr. Peverett, my mom would buy hazelnut coffee from Gloria Jean’s in the mall for when the neighbor ladies would come over, and I thought it was an ABSOLUTE luxury!

Me: Gloria Jean's? Never heard of it.

Samuel: No? Look... it's real.

Me: Okay, I believe you.

Samuel: Well, I would stay and chat more but I'm going to go to Bartles and James. It's sooo expensive. Bye-bye for now.

Me: Ummm... bye, Samuel. Samuel Phancy, the fanciest man in town, everybody. Really don't know what to say. That was so stupid. Moving on...

Phact 1. Curiously, every instance of the word “Russian” was made inaudible in the Chinese version. No explanation was given for why, although theories abound in the comments ranging from China thinking viewers would be distressed by a Russian villain, trying lend a courtesy to their longtime ally nation, or instead trying to distance themselves from Russia by obscuring all mention of it.

Phact 2. The GPS satellites were programmed to introduce timing jitters into the signals until it was abolished by a Presidential decree in 2000.

Phact 3. Clowns paint their faces onto eggs to copyright them so other clowns can’t use the same face. There is a registry of egg faces in both Europe and in the United States.

Phact 4. Back in May 2016, in order to show the absurdities of software EULAs, the Norwegian Consumer Council did a live, word-by-word, non-stop reading of all of the Apples and 3rd party EULAs on an “average” iPhone. It took them over 32 hours.

Phact 5. Despite the infamous history of the Vietnam War, Vietnam today is one of the most pro-American countries in Asia, with 71% of Vietnamese people viewing the U.S. favorably in 2002.

Yeah, the Phile will be at Walt Disney World again on February 11th and I'll tell you who the guest is gonna be... legendary Disney animator Floyd Norman. Disney fans will love this.

Today's pheatured guest is a Phile Alum and He is the creator and producer of the current Netflix series, "The Toys That Made Us." He has a brand new show on the CW called "Discontinued."  Please welcome back to the Phile... Brian Volk-Weiss.

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

Brian: I have been great, Jason, good to be back.

Me: So, first of I have to say congratulations on "The Toys That Made Us" being so successful and having a second season.

Brian: Thank you. Thank you so much. It's still surreal what the reaction has been so it never gets old hearing what you just said so thank you very much.

Me: You are not here to talk about "The Toys That Made Us" though, let's talk about your new show called "Discontinued." Tell us what that is about, Brian.

Brian: So "Discontinued": a lot of people have been saying to me, "Oh, 'Toys' was successful did you try and come up wit the next thing?" and that's "Discontinued." Truth is actually the opposite. I came up with "Discontinued" conservatively for years before "The Toys That Made Us."

Me: Is the show similar to "Toys That Made Us"?

Brian: In many ways there's somethings the shows have in common and there's things they don't have in common.

Me: So, how did you come up with the idea for "Discontinued"?

Brian: So for a weird reason I've always been like this and I can't tell you why. I've always been fascinated with failure. I've always been really drawn to why would something work for 35 years and then all of the sudden no ones buying it or no one is going there. Like even as a little kid I was interesting in that. I was in a regular vintage store five or six years ago and they had that robot that Nintendo made for two years. R.O.B., do you remember R.O.B.?

Me: No, I don't.

Brian: Well, I've never had one and I actually never seen one and I was just looking at it and was like huh, I forgot about this thing. So I did a deep dive when I got home, I Googled it and everything. I learned that I knew what it was, I knew the name but it only been around for a year and a half and they only made two games. And it just got me thinking it's amazing to me in our culture that something can permeate like that and it was only around for a year and a half and they only made two games? That seemed so weird to me. So that was what my original inspiration was, and then I just started researching all these products, places, companies, even animals that had gone extinct. So that was the idea and that's really how the show came about and why we did what we did.

Me: Can you give me two examples of things that were discontinued. I am trying to think of a few... 

Brian: Yeah. The whole premise of 23 years going to a Blockbuster whenever you wanted and then one day you couldn't! For 30 years almost every kid had one Speak & Spell then nobody did. 

Me: Haha. What's one of the most obscure thing in one of the episodes that you can talk about? 

Brian: Well, that goes into something similar with "The Toys That Made Us," is that as much as I want to dig into obscurity... if I had done what I wanted with no rules and regulations caring about eyeballs and profitability for "Toys That Made Us" I would have done a whole episode about the toys about David Lynch's Dune. But believe it or not Netflix cares about the money they spend and how many people watch and I want to make more episodes so that's why I chose icons. I did the same thing with "Discontinued." We really, maybe of we're blessed enough, to get a fifth or sixth season we'll get a little more obscure. But we really didn't do anything obscure on purpose. We found icons that hopefully everybody knows from 15 to 60 but maybe they don't know why it's gone. That's what we tried to do.

Me: I am still trying to figure out what from my childhood is no longer around. I thought of Familia cereal, Commodore 64... hahaha. Do you enjoy making these shows? I think you do, as I could tell you put a lot of work into them with the way they look and feel.

Brian: The other thing I'll say about the show is every time we do a show I want there to be in common with everything we do with real sense of quality and a real sense of research and comedy. I really want that to be our trademark but I always try to find inspiration so that nine of our stuff all feels the same.

Me: What was the inspiration you used for the new show?

Brian: The inspiration I used here waste of my favorite shows of all time "Mystery Science Theater 3000," and we really had a fun time making this because we really embraced the goofy whacky nature of what our show is about. Nothing drives me crazier than a kind of silly goofy premise that the show takes itself so seriously. I hate that so we really found what I think is kind of a fun and I fully admit I would use the word "silly" or even "campy" way to tell these stories. So it's fun and you don't feel like you're in a classroom being lectured to.

Me: Andre the Black Nerd is the host of the show. I have no idea who he is, but how did you get and chose him and not me? Hahaha.

Brian: Because he's a gift from God. I was excited that we got him but after we worked together as cheesy as it sounds, cannot imagine anyone else you could've and would've done it. He is so funny, he's got a great work ethic, he's the nicest guy ever but a lot of people who do this kind of hosting work they're really phony. It's so hard to trust them because they're always excited, they're always "Oh my god, this is the greatest thing ever!!" It's like they've been doing this show for eight years, five days a week, there's no way every single thing on the show they've been excited about.

Me: What do you love about Andre?

Brian: What I love about Andre is he's enthusiastic and he's got great energy but that's what everybody always says about him. "Andre's got great energy, he's got great energy." It's true, he does, but he also got great taste and he's also very discernible. He knows what's what, and there are a couple of items that we wanted to film and he was like, "Y'know, I get it, and I'll say what you want me to say, you hired me to be your host, but..." And then he suggested better than what we have come up with and that's what we ended up doing. That is very unusual for this process.

Me: Can you tell me what the items maybe were?

Brian: I don't want to get in trouble, I don't want to be that dude, because everybody is going to be mad at me. I have learned to the hard way to say this as the response to that question... you should ask Andre.

Me: If I get him on the Phile I will.

Brian: I don't want to get a text in the morning that now so and so is mad at me. Ask Andre.

Me: So, what are somethings from your childhood that are gone now that you miss?

Brian: Well, it doesn't have to be from my childhood... the number one thing I miss and I refer it in EVERY single email that I write is Blackberry. You can argue that Blackberry still exists... no it doesn't. When I mean Blackberry, when anybody in a restaurant had a Blackberry and I can write a 800 page book from a train: Blackberry. So I miss that very much. Every email I sent says "Sent from an iPhone while I'm waiting for Blackberry to get it's act together." Every email I sent for about four years, so that's how I feel about Blackberry. So it's not just about childhood... like I said one of the things we cover is Blockbuster, we actually cover Toys "R" Us which is from my childhood and adult. One of my favorite things we got into I have always been so fascinated by the Humvee, the H1, the story of how it went to market, a military machine becoming a civilian car. It's not just childhood stuff.

Me: What about clothing?

Brian: We don't have clothing in the pilot. But there definitely are a lot of clothings and brands that we're very close to getting green lit for this one. Listen, I probably could've made a hundred episodes all at once.

Me: What about food?

Brian: We didn't get into food this time unfortunately, I wanted to do a whole thing on Zima, which I know is technically back but it's not back... 

Me: The new show is on CW, not Netflix, why is that?

Brian: I don't even remember if we took this to Netflix. There's a great executive at the CW who I had known for a long time, I don't want to say his name because I learned I used to give out people's names, give them props, and they ask me not to give their names because then they get phone calls and emails. We'll call him John Doe. So John Doe at the CW, meet and him have been getting lunch once or twice a year for the last three or four years, we have a lot in common and we sat down for lunch and he was like, "Hey, man, I love 'Toys That Made Us.' Do you have anything else like it?" I was like, "Well, you know, I created a show that I took out about four years ago, if I'm being honest with you, and nobody bought it, I love it, it's one of my favorite ideas I've ever had. Do you want to see that? It's all about discontinued things." He was like, "I'd love to see it." I sent him the tape, by the way the tape was so old there is this section in the tape that said, "Our predictions for what will be discontinued" and all of those are already gone. Radio Shack, Blackberry, that's how old the tape was. But anyway he loved the tape and showed it to his boss and everybody loved it and backdoor pilot. To be honest with you when I took this out the first time Netlfix was not even making original programming. In fact, I'm sure that's the case.

Me: I can't wait to see the new show, Brian, and I hope you'll come back on the Phile. So, what's going to be on season 3 of "Toys"?

Brian: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, My Little Pony, wrestling toys.

Me: Cool. Thanks again for being on the Phile again, Brian.

Brian: Cool. It was fun. Bye.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guest Brian Volk-Weiss for a another great interview. The Phile will be back on Thursday with comedian Drew Michael. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

I don't want you, cook my bread, I don't want you, make my bed, I don't want your money too, I just want to make love to you. - Willie Dixon