Monday, September 30, 2019

Pheaturing Steve Young

Hello, children, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? It's no secret that the Mormon Church isn't at the forefront of women's rights. Women are denied priesthood and it was huge news last year when female missionaries were granted the right to wear pants (just not to church). But it was still shocking to read this flyer given to girls attending a Mormon youth dance.

It was posted by the Latter Day Lesbian Podcast, which is hosted by two queer women who left the Church. The flyer tells female attendees they shouldn't make boys "feel uncomfortable" with their dress or turn down anyone who's requested a dance. Holy rape culture, Batman! It propagates a confusing double-bind for young girls: be yourself, assuming that self is attractive to members of the opposite sex. Boys aren't armed with similar counsel, and if they were, it wouldn't be about respecting girls' wishes. Girls' agency re: sex and dating aren't important. It's more important to protect boys' feelings and give them what they asked for. Perhaps the least offensive part is the absolute mishmash of fonts. Oof. All in all, a discouraging window into Mormon youth culture. Any Mormons or former Church members willing to weigh in?
Kate Middleton wearing a coat? That's news. Kate Middleton re-wearing a coat for the fourth time? That means she's worn the same coat a whopping FIVE times, and that's BREAKING news! A recent headline on the tabloid Page Six tallied up the number of times the Duchess of Cambridge donned the same Alexander McQueen jacket, and it spawned a write up that's over 200 words. The post was promptly ratioed, as counting the exact number of times a woman wears a coat and framing it as news is quite ridiculous.

Women wear clothes... fashion reporting is fun and a real discipline... but framing the recycling as novel is just funny. The nature of outerwear is to be worn repeatedly. The headline could be interpreted as critcizing Kate, but it can also be seen as humanizing the royal to the masses. Stars: they're just like us! They wear coats! There's also plenty of other important things going on. Climate change is real, and people must recycle. For instance, one can wear a coat multiple times.
On September 20th, over 4 million people marched on the streets in climate strikes across the world to demand leaders and giant corporations recognize and join the fight against climate change, which poses an increasing existential threat. As recently as thirty years ago, it was fairly mainstream to discount the severe threats posed by climate change, a large portion of the general public turned a blind eye and most leaders in power conveniently ignored the science. But now, as the Amazon rainforest burns and climate change fuels migration millions have joined the fight to call out leaders and demand systemic change, while also making personal changes (such as going vegan, biking, and planting trees) to combat a catastrophic future. Still, amidst ample evidence and a growing crisis, there are still deniers... some hold office like Donald Trump, and others spend their time trolling on Twitter (like Trump). When the columnist Lorrie Goldstein went on Twitter to troll "social justice warriors" about their inability to explain climate science, his post quickly backfired. Karen Geier, the writer and producer of On Belief: A Podcast About Cutls and On Grief: A Podcast About Death, was quick to chime in with a series of well laid out facts proving climate change is real. Geier clearly laid out the progression of climate change since the industrial age, and precisely why the earth has been trapping heat. Geier even posted links and referenced the fact that 97 percent of scientists support the research backing climate change, and its very real risks (and current wreckage). Others jumped on the thread to point out the fact that many of us can't describe the science of everyday objects we use... or even gravity itself, but that doesn't negate the reality. It's truly dangerous to deny climate change at this point, and it also logically makes no sense because even in a parallel universe where climate change wasn't real, we'd all still benefit from cleaning up the environment.
What did your president do this month? Mine made fun of a teenage girl who is trying to save the entire planet from extinction. Unfortunately it's real life, although I'm still waiting for someone to jump out of a cake and announce that this has all been one long, dark joke, that Obama is still president and Ashton Kutcher has been punking us this whole time. Just in case you don't know by now, 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg spoke at the U.N.'s summit on climate change, and the President of the United States of America responded by mocking her on Twitter. In a widely-circulating video, the teenager speaks gravely, and often seems to be on the verge of tears, as she talks about the dismal future, and present, of our planet. "People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing," she says. "We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth." Surprise! Trump, whose entire platform is a fairy tale of eternal economic growth (bolstered by racism), did not like it. He responded on Twitter by sarcastically mocking her for not being "happy" enough: "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future," he wrote. "So nice to see!" Many people responded to Trump's petulant tweet, but the best response by far came from Thunberg herself, who played Trump at his own game with a few choice words in her Twitter bio.

The Internet is praising Greta for out-trolling the U.S. President. The hashtag #GretaThunbergOutdidTrump is trending on Twitter as support for the teen activist rolls in from all over the world. Many are quoting the teen's more-pertinent-than-ever words from this past August, when she said, "When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And... given the right circumstances... being different is a superpower."  Greta even got the approval of Twitter's clap-back queen, Miss Christine Teigen. This is Girl Power at it's finest. Maybe the President should focus on the impending impeachment proceedings and not spend his free time picking on teens on Twitter.
The Sun Herald reports that a truck driver and her husband stopped at the Tiger Truck Stop, a Louisiana destination known for housing exotic animals. The couple stepped out with their dog, while not an exotic animal, happens to be deaf, and when he ran away, the woman chased him into a camel's barbed wire pen. WBRZ reported what happened next, and it reads like the synopsis of an "Animaniacs" cartoon, "Authorities say camel was spooked by the wandering dog and woman chasing it, so the camel gave chase to the woman, eventually pinning her against the wall of a building. The camel then sat on top of the woman, nearly crushing her. Authorities said in an attempt to save herself, the woman bit the testicles of the camel so it would jump off of her. The woman then escaped, authorities said." As if being crushed by a camel and having its balls in your mouth isn't bad enough, the woman was issued a ticket for trespassing and not having a dog on a leash. Next time you want to bite a camel's balls, make sure you have its permission to enter its pen.
Instead of doing this blog thing maybe I should be listening to this album...

Maybe not. Do you think Ireland's President looks like Danny DeVito playing Bernie Sanders? Here he is...

I do. If I had a TARDIS I would probably end up going to the set of a movie I have never seen, Gone With the Wind but knowing my luck Vivian Leigh would be sleeping...

This just in, the white House Press Secretary just released a newly discovered hotfoot of Trump's inauguration...

That's a lot of people. Haha. So, if you're thinking of cheating on your loved one you might wanna think twice after seeing this...

Oh, boy. Ten days ago there were some Global Climate Strike signs that gave us hope fore the future...

If you can't read what it says I'll tell you... it says, "[McDonalds, Cargill Inc., Burger King] Don't be chicken, stop burning the Amazon for soy to feed me." Some signs that people had were pretty snarky...

Ha! That's great! Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...

Top Phive Signs You Hired The Wrong Kid To Mow Your Lawn 
5. He shows up with a pair of nail clippers and a Ziploc bag.
4. On the side of his mower you notice the stenciled silhouettes of thirteen cats.
3. Stops frequently to nap inside the grass-catcher.
2. Always trying to impress you by stopping the mower blades with his head.
And the number one sign you hired the wrong kid to mow your lawn is...
1. You notice him shoving the last of his clothes into the mulcher.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, there's this guy who is known as the fanciest man in town. He likes to pop in to the Phile once in a while so please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Samual, welcome back to the Phile. What's going on?

Samual: Hello, Jason. I went to a furniture store the other day and purchased some new furniture.

Me: Oh, yeah? What did you get?

Samual: Matching bedroom furniture. Especially a vanity table set with a little fancy bench.

Me: Ummm... okay. A vanity table?

Samual: Such a status symbol to sit on a little padded stool with three backlit mirrors!

Me: Hmmmm... okay.

Samual: Well, I like it. I have to run, Jason, there's a sale going on for something I want that's really fancy.

Me: What's that?

Samual: Fragrant body powder that came in a little round box with a poof. I'm amazed. Bye for now.

Me: Samual Phancy, the fanciest man in town, kids.

His drinking buddies have changed. Alright, there's this really tough guy who likes to come on to the Phile and tell us something about his life to prove how masculine he is. I don't think he is but I'm not telling him that to his face. Anyway, please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, Martin, how are you?

Martin Masculinity: I'm good, Jason, how are you?

Me: Pretty good. So, what's new?

Martin Masculinity: I saw this one this one guy the other day that got on his tip toes and bowed out his chest like a gorilla and get all in my face.

Me: Huh? Why is that?

Martin Masculinity: Goes she felt threatened. It was such a funny stereotype maneuver.

Me: Hmmm... what did you do?

Martin Masculinity: Nothing. I laughed in his face and walked away.

Me: That's it? You didn;t hit him or push him or anything?

Martin Masculinity: No, I'm more masculine than that.

Me: Okay. Martin Masculinity, the toughest an alive. So he says.

The 106th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club is...

That's a classic book. John Irving will be the guest on the Phile in a few weeks.

Phact 1. In Russia, the Russian word for vodka is in the top 1000 most used words. (#945).

Phact 2. Mountain Dew was made to be mixed with whiskey.

Phact 3. For a short period of time, the Punisher was revived as a Frankenstein’s Monster-like creature, magically reassembled together out of decomposing pieces of the corpse of Frank Castle, who had just been killed by Wolverine’s son.

Phact 4. In the 30s, workers in Costa Rica unearthed almost perfectly round stone spheres. No one is sure exactly when or how they were made, or by whom, or for what reason. The largest is 16 tons.

Phact 5. There are no Walmarts in New York City due to intense opposition from local unions and politicians.

Today's guest was a television writer for "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Night with David Letterman." He stars in the 2018 documentary Bathtubs Over Broadway detailing his discovery and pursuit of Industrial Musicals, which you could currently see on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Please welcome to the Phile... Steve Doing.

Me: Hey, Steve, welcome to the Phile. It's great to have you here. How are you?

Steve: Thanks for having me, Jason, and I'm doing good.

Me: You're welcome. You wrote for David Letterman for a long time, Steve. Are you still writing? I know not for Dave but for anyone else?

Steve: Yeah, I'm still writing. Like I said before I have comedy damage.

Me: Comedy damage? What does that mean? You can say this blog is full of "comedy damage." Hahahaha.

Steve: It means I've spent so much time writing jokes, rewriting jokes, analyzing jokes, hearing other people's jokes, I was up to my eyeballs everyday in jokes. It came to a point where it was more of a practical consideration opposed to whether it was funny anymore. This is not unique to me, I think many, many people in the comedy world react to jokes by going "Hm hmm, yeah, that's good." It's sad but sort of hilarious in a way that I lost the ability to enjoy humor on the most primal level of "Wow! Great! Burst put laughing." I just think analytically yes, that works properly.

Me: Okay, so you have a documentary out called Bathtubs Over Broadway. I had Martin Short on the Phile not long ago and he was in some of these musicals. First of, can you explain what these musicals are?

Steve: Simply lavish musicals... complete with catchy songs, choreographed dances and intricate costumes... that were never intended for the general public. I discovered that companies like Ford, McDonald's and General Electric all had commissioned musicals to entertain clients and investors at corporate meetings. Unable to believe that these secret shows existed.

Me: I think that's kinda cool and crazy at the same time. How did you first find out about these musicals?

Steve: I was just starting at the Letterman show in 1990. The head writer said, "We do this bit called 'Dave's Record Collection.' Maybe you could be the guy scooping up the weird used records for that." It had to be unintentionally funny, it would not work to do something that someone had already prepackaged as funny. So I would look for weird instructional records and celebrities who shouldn't have been singing but were. Any sort of oddball material I would go out and find these records in stores around New York City. There were still more records stores in those days and thrift shops. I started coming back with these record albums and at first I couldn't wrap my mind around what they were. The first one I found was a G.E. one from 1966 was the first one I ever saw. I just thought it was one more weird record in the parade of weird records. Then when I found about four more it dawned on me that is a genre and it thrills me to my core because it is so conceptually improbable these super well produced musicals full of songs I cannot get out of my head. They're all about selling tires, or selling tractors or being a Coca-Cola bottle or whatever, it's just like how can this possibly be true at the same time... with lyrics about how to sell the tires or the tractors and the peppy show tunes. It was better than comedy that I could've written.

Me: This wasn't just a little show like a school's talent show, this was a huge Broadway like musical, right? I have a picture of what one would look like here...

Steve: Yeah, a lot of people think that'll be cute, a little in house thing with the talented girl down the hall in PR singing a little intro. Imagine Radio City Music Hall in New York City packed to the rafters with five or six thousand Ford tractor personnel from all over the world that have been flown in and there on the stage at Radio City Music Hall there was all the Rockettes and professional Broadway singers, dancers, actors and a dozen tractors. It just goes back to how can that have been real and thank god it was because it was better than anything I could have thought up.

Me: Why did the records exist? Was it a souvenir?

Steve: Yes. If you were at the show or in the theater company to help pound home the messages about why it's going to be a great year and here are the facts about the new specifications of the sneakers they were going to be selling it was believed this was a great way to keep the excitement of the conventional live, and I don't find many of the records that show heavy use. Let me tell you I think it'a adorable, it's like, "Why did I get this? No, I'm not going to listen to it again." So I find a lot that don't seem to be played.

Me: Why did these companies make these in the first place?

Steve: They seemed to reach their flowering at the point after World War 2 and several things happened. Broadway musicals had hit their stride and were fully mainstream entertainment in the 50s. I don't know what the exact proportions were but it was assumed that if they were nice middle class people and interested in culture they probably had the soundtrack to My Fair Lady in their house because that was one of the most popular records of the decade. It was not weird or niche to be interested in musicals. Then there were these companies that were juggernauts in this post-war economy with money to burn... I think it was a tax write off in many cases to do these shows. So it was not deeply dangerous to their bottom line. It was protégés, it was fun and when done correctly it actually could have this magic fairy dust of excitement and motivation that really no other activity at one of these meetings could have done. 

Me: Was it hard to choose which songs to out in the film?

Steve: Yeah, there were antagonizing choices that Dave the director had to make. There were thousands and thousands of songs that I provided.

Me: What is one of the most surprising records you found?

Steve: It was the Dominion Road Machinery Company which made motor-graters for road construction. The first time I ever saw this record I bought it from sight unseen from a record dealer who pulled it out of a thrift shop. He had a pretty high price tag on it and I was like, "Ewwwww. Guess you got me over a barrel." Best 75 dollars I ever spent was for this record.

Me: Okay, so, if you played those records now what goes through your head?

Steve: Well, the thrill of this is way better than it should've been or needed to be. What I found out talking to so many people who worked on this stuff the better creative people just had no setting other than maximum. That's one of the ways I really learnt to love this stuff. "I don't care if a hundred people here this once, it's going to be the best musical about motor-graters than could be imagined." I love that about them, I love the wild variety of musical styles I see across the decades. This thing has been quite the education for me. I love the detective work and sometimes I'm frustrated, I still have no idea who wrote to or who performed in it.

Me: Do you know who wrote any of them?

Steve: Yeah, I do know who wrote the General Electric one. Fred Ebb, John Kander, and Walter Marks. Kander and Ebb did this G.E. show right before Cabaret went on Broadway and suddenly they were major players on Broadway. They graduated out of "Industrials."

Me: What do you think you connect with emotionally here?

Steve: Well, it was a long multi-stage process. The weirdness of it and the delight of finding something so well hidden, so off the radar, that seems so enormous. with these shows we'll never know how many were done but I'm sure it's in the thousands. Very few were recorded, and I feel the thrill of rescuing the fragments of history before they go over the edge into the darkness for ever. And once I started talking to people who wrote these things and performed in them and learning about their lives and their attitudes to what they did that sometimes seems eerily like what I had to think about getting up every day going to the Letterman show where I was having a great time generally but most of what I would work on wasn't used or was used and really, who was going to remember it a week later.

Me: Do you think that's normal for a daily talk show?

Steve: Yeah, I had to make peace with a lot of stuff is not going to get used or if it is used it's disposable. This stuff was considered as ultimate disposable.

Me: You said at the start of the interview that comedy doesn't really make you laugh a lot, but in the film you laugh a lot. What is making you laugh there?

Steve: Oh, I suppose it's the fact that it's not trying to be a conventional joke. There are layers of comedy here way of the usual grid but just at the delight of further discovery and when something sounds really good and I think okay, this is one for the hall of fame.

Me: I have to tell you that I am a big Letterman fan. What did you think of him or the show?

Steve: For the Letterman show Dave came along and really got going at a time when a generation had grown up on the birth on television more or less. It had absorbed all these cliches and conventions, internalized them, pondered their absurdities and was ready to regurgitate them upside down and backwards absurd surreal forms. Dave was doing that and there's some of that in this although this is completely sincere.

Me: What makes you laugh the most?

Steve: I find I laugh very hard at what I could not have thought of. For me surprise in comedy is an allusive quality.

Me: Were these musicals supposed to be funny?

Steve: Sometimes there was no laugh point, it was just so hilarious I couldn't find the oxygen around it to get a laugh out.

Me: I watched a clip of you being interviewed by Dave when your book came out and he seemed to enjoy showing the records and talking about it. Am I right? I have a screen shot of it...

Steve: Dave loves certain things generally and I respond to that also.

Me: What was it like meeting the people that worked on these shows? That really must have been cool for you, Steve.

Steve: I was so thrilled when I met the people that worked on this stuff, I could not have imagined that it existed, I could not have imagined that I would meet these people, find a kinship with them, a friendship with them. That is a sort of laughter of delight on a cosmic level.

Me: I love the bathroom song "My Bathroom" from The Bathrooms Are Coming! that you show a clip of, and Dave played on the show when he interviewed you. What do you think of this song? 

Steve: This I often refer to this song as the gateway drug because it's so startling on every level. It's beautifully written, it's beautifully performed, it's beautifully sung by my dear friend Pat who I am now friends with. It has this combination of eerily other worldly bulletproof music and then there's lyric, "well, it's my bathroom." Yes, it's mundane, and then it bursts past mundane into this cosmic... do I keep saying cosmic?

Me: Nope. The bathroom is a nice place to be, right?

Steve: She's not wrong.

Me: What does the person singing about bathrooms think of it now?

Steve: Pat, who I had a great pleasure to talk to and hang out with many times, we've talked about this song and how it seems to rise above all the other ones. She said, "Well, there's great songs in this genre about tractors, but not that many people have tractors." Everybody's got a bathroom, everybody feels that this song is about something they know and they never knew they'd be a song about it, and if there's going to be a song, damn, let's make it this one.

Me: Why did you want to track Pat and these other people down?

Steve: Well, I have to admit I did not know when I started with my detective work where it was going to go. I was just until the somewhat cynical comedy writer who thought 'if I can find this guy whose name is on the back of this record maybe he'll tell me what else he did and maybe he's got stuff in his basement and maybe I can add to my collection.' Many of times that has happened and that's wonderful but I didn't think what was happening that I would makes these lifelong friendships with people from different walks of life. But in many cases people at the far end of their careers who were certain that everything in this genre had disappeared forever and no one was going to ask them about it. No one would ever appreciate what they did. It was thrilling for me to tell someone, "No, I'm a fan of your work. I know I'm not supposed to hear it but I heard it and gone past the feeling that it's a novelty. I want to talk to you about what you did."

Me: Were they touched?

Steve: Sometimes people have been very suspicious of this on the outset. "Very funny, who put you up to this? This is a prank, right? How can anyone be asking a serious question about what is the deal with the '79 BF Goodrich tire show?" They think some friend of theres is pulling one over on them. Then they're surprised, "How did you find this? My god, I never thought someone would ask me about this." Then the follow up is, "You know, after we spoke I went down to the basement and pulled out some stuff and found my old records and listened to them. They were good, weren't they?" They get to reaccess their own work in a way that probably was not going to happen otherwise.

Me: Are the people that wrote Cabaret or other musicals ashamed at all of this work that they did? 

Steve: It's possible some people are. Not everybody I tried to find I've been successful of reaching. I think some people want to forget about this. But it seems to me a vast majority of writers, performers, are unapologetic they say, "Yes, it was a great training ground, we made good money, we met wonderful people." All this stuff was shot through with top level talent with every level. Some people said it was just a wonderful training ground, Sheldon Hernick, the Fiddler on the Roof lyricist actually said when he started to get some real traction on Broadway he felt twinge of regret because he thought he hoped he didn't have to stop doing industrials. He enjoyed the puzzle of it so much, how to combine music that was so good with lyrics that were so improbable but he forced it to work against all odds. He liked that.

Me: Was there a stigma at the time of doing it?

Steve: There could be that feeling that they would get pigeon holed. "Oh, well, he's very good at doing industrials, he's sort of slick and glib and whatever." But too many people proved that that was a joke that they could get forced to stay in. So many people went on to legitimate Broadway careers. A number of Tony Award winners and for god's sake, I talked to Chita Rivera and she showed up for her interview wearing her Presidential Medal of Freedom. I don't think she could be put down as a hack.

Me: Nope. So, I have worked for the Disney company at Walt Disney World for 31 years or so and is considered a "lifer." A lot of people who went to see these industrial shows worked at their companies all their lives as well, as you mentioned in the documentary. Why is that?

Steve: There was great work and honest work done at so many levels. For the person in the audience getting ready to go back out to help the product of Americas progress, the people who are writing it, the people who are singing it, the people who are in the executive suite who say we want these people to feel the pride in this company's mission that will help us all do better. And then my own honest work hopefully in finding these people and giving them credit that they weren't destined to get. But now here we are.

Me: When you play, or if you play, any of these records to other people what do they say about them?

Steve: People who don't know what they're getting into think it's going to be kitschy and shallow and quirky, funny, they'd laugh and move on. There's been songs that people said to me, "I know I'm not a diesel engine dealer but I started to get a little weepy about this song or that song." It's very affective where they could put stuff like this in a song to make someone think something is important here and I want to be part of it.

Me: You even wrote some of your own music for this film, Steve. Would you call them "industrials?"

Steve: They're in the ballpark. They're setting the stage for something we want you to know about. They're "infotainment" perhaps but the closing number I think s in the vein of "Tractor Driving Man" or "My Bathroom," a celebration of why we're all in this together.

Me: Have you written music before?

Steve: Yeah, I wrote music for the Letterman show and I have been writing music for a long time. 

Me: Cool. Now you have written songs who have written music for these industrials... how does that make you feel?

Steve: Well, I'm what you'd consider a "duffer," I'm a decent finger picker on an acoustic guitar and I guess I have some facility with words but I never considered myself a songwriter who cannot himself up to the next to the people who are the top practitioners of this stuff like Hank Beebe, Sid Siegel, Michael Brown and many others we didn't even have a chance to mention in the film. So if I get to sit down next to one of these people as a colleague peer it's gift they might be sort of indulgent. Maybe they see something in me that I don't see in the same way that I saw things in them or their work that they didn't know about.

Me: Steve, this was a cool interview. Thanks for being on the Phile, sir. I have to mention Rob Burnett who I had on the Phile who emailed me recommending I interview you.

Steve: It's my pleasure. This has been my great driving mission for so long, I can't believe this is real, you got to hear this. That's just the genesis of it.

Me: I want to find some of these records. So, do you still talk to Dave?

Steve: Yeah, Dave Letterman is an executive producer of this movie and a great supporter and is in the film which is sort of astonishing also. I got to sit down and interview the man. Not to many people get to do that.

Me: Well, tell him I want to interview him next time you speak to him, Steve. Haha.

Steve: I will. It's great to talk to you, Jason.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Steve Young for a great interview. The Phile will be back on Thursday with musician Dave Bickler. 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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Pheaturing Ben Folds

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. Tuesday was a day that many of us have scream-prayed for over the past couple years while scrolling through an endless abyss of Trump tweets and news stories. Many of us thought this day would come come following Mueller's testimony; others thought the series of sexual assault allegations against Trump would tip the scale. And still, we waited. Well, it looks like the news of Trump pressuring the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election has toppled the camel's back. So, Tuesday, at 5 p.m., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially announced the beginning of impeachment proceedings. Impeachment itself is a complicated process that involves several stages... and starting the inquiry doesn't mean the president will be booted. I'll explain all in a bit...
Greta Thunberg has managed to get the world's attention on the subject of climate change. So naturally, the 16-year-old activist has been mocked, dismissed and bullied online by full-grown adults who don't believe in science or human decency. What's worst than cyber-bullying a teenaged girl for trying to save the world? Calling her a Nazi in the process. That's exactly what right-wing political commentator/full-time troll Dinesh D'Souza did in a recent tweet, in which he used the color of Greta's cheeks and the color and style of her hair to compare her to Nazi propaganda.

Thunberg didn't respond, probably because she was too busy giving a speech to world leaders at the U.N. Climate Action Summit and trying to save the goddamned world. But people on Twitter, most of whom are sitting around in our sweatpants doing absolutely nothing, rose to the task of defending her and dragging D'Souza's very, very, very bad tweet. A decent person would apologize for the tweet, after deleting it. But as many have pointed out, Dinesh D'Souza is not a decent person. But someone who is a decent person is Greta Thunberg. You can watch the speech she gave at the U.N.  here... But finish reading the Phile first.
We live in a golden age of terrible takes, but this is the absolute worst take. A libertarian podcaster is getting ratio'ed and shamed for his thesis that people who support Greta Thunberg's environmental activism then should be on board with child rape. My fingers hurt from typing that, but don't shoot the paraphraser!

You might recall that Jeffrey Epstein is the recently deceased convicted pedophile and sex trafficker whose friends include Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and now Satan. Over 8,000 people have taken to the comments to say "what the absolute fuck is wrong with you, dude." Seriously, what is wrong with you? Murphy, like many libertarian trolls before him, is grateful for the attention and posted a smug video. "I'd like to thank you all for appreciating my content, there's lots more than that came from," he laughed, wearing a shirt with an American eagle. He went on to boast that since going viral for being a pedophile apologist, he sold a whopping $30 worth of books. Good job, guy! "If you're old enough to have an opinion, then you're old enough to fuck" is a great platform on which to launch your career. Congrats on the future contract with Fox News!
Speaking of... Fox News has issued an apology after guest Michael Knowles made fun of Greta Thunberg by calling her a "mentally ill Swedish child." Hours later after her speech on Monday, the speech was the subject of a segment on Fox News' "The Story," where the Conservative host of "The Daily Wire" Michael Knowles sparred with the Democrat podcast host Chris Hahn. The segment quickly got heated and inappropriate when Knowles began railing about how the "climate hysteria movement" isn't led by science (despite the fact that 97 percent of scientists DO back it), but instead fronted by Thunberg. This of course, ignores all of the scientists who have been fighting for climate justice, the Indigenous activists who have been on the front lines for decades, and the fact that Thunberg never asked to be the poster child. All of this, while insulting a teenager who just wants to save the world before it drowns. "The climate hysteria movement is not about science. If it were about science, it would be led by scientists, rather than by politicians and a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left," Knowles said. Knowles' attack on Thunberg, and the climate movement as a whole, was quickly met with fiery derision from Hahn. "Relax, skinny boy. I got this," Hahn said as Knowles began to interrupt. "You're attacking a child. You're a grown man." Knowles continued, claiming that Thunberg is being exploited by her parents and the movement, "She is mentally ill. She has autism. She has obsessive compulsive disorder, she has selective mutism. She had depression." Hahn told Knowles he should "be ashamed" and pointed out how low it was to bring up Thunberg's ASD diagnosis as a way to deflect the real danger of climate change. "The comment made by Michael Knowles who was a guest on 'The Story' tonight was disgraceful... we apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers,” a Fox News spokesperson said. Fox News also made it clear they don't intend to have Knowles back on the show. However, the same fervor has yet to be applied to the nightmare Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who that same night compared Thunberg's speech to The Children of the Corn. Ingraham's immature attack on a teen trying to clean up the planet was so cruel and needless her own brother called her out online. If Fox News is truly sorry about the comments made by Knowles, then firing Ingraham should be a swift and logical follow-up action, there's already a hashtag trending to support that decision: #FireLauraIngraham.
Okay, let's talk about some stupid stuff for a minute and then I'll explain the process of impeachment. Have you heard about the new Antonio Brown and Tom Brady movie that is coming out? I have the poster here...

Man, they're remaking so many movies now. Haha. Ever go to a museum and see a painting that looks like you? It happened to this guy...

He looks the same! Do toy like Hot Pockets? Well, there's a brand new flavor that just came out.

Nailed it! That should be the slogan. I'm a marketing genius. The President was seen walking his new dog today...

he's a full blooded sharpie. Hahahahahahaha. If I had a TARDIS I would go and try to meet the Beatles but knowing my luck I'll get there right when their last photo shoot is ending and they all fo their separate ways.

That really is a pic of their last photo shoot. If you're thinking of cheating on your loved ones you might wanna think twice after seeing this...

Do you remember reading Dr. Seuss books as a kid? Well, there's one book you might not remember...

Dr. Seuss's wacky book of ass whoopin's. My fave! There were some signs from the Global Climate Strike to give you hope for the future...

Some were pretty snarky...

Ha! So, one of the best things about the Internet is you can see porn easily and for free. But if you're at school or work you can get in trouble. So I came up with a solution.

You are welcome. Okay, it's Thursday, people. You know what that means...

Yeesh. That's sick looking and not in a good way. Okay, so let me explain the process of impeachment before we continue.

It's happening. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that the House of Representatives will launch a formal impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, raising the stakes on ongoing investigations and giving the House more homework. With so many impeachable offenses to choose from, Pelosi cited one as her reason for upping the ante: the whistleblower complaint about Trump's call with the president of Ukraine. Trump openly admitted to urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about Joe Biden and his son in order to weaken Biden's presidential campaign. Days before, Trump told his Chief of Staff to withhold military aid to Ukraine setting up a possible quid-pro-quo. Here's what you need to know. What even is "impeachment"? Are there peaches involved? Impeachment has nothing to do with fruit, but everything to do with the Constitution's remedy for holding presidents accountable. The Constitution tasks the Legislative Branch (aka Congress) with oversight of the Executive Branch (aka the president). Article II, Section 4 says, “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Congress has the sole authority to punish the president, but it takes a lot to get there. How does it work? In the past, the House Judiciary Committee has held investigations, and then recommend articles of impeachment... basically a presidential rap sheet... to the whole House. The investigations often involve hearings, broadcasted on TV for everyone to see. Then the House votes on whether or not to kick the alleged criminal out of the White House. Much like how a bill needs to pass both the House and Senate in order to become law, the Senate has to put its stamp on impeachment, through what is known as an impeachment trial. An impeachment trial is like a regular criminal trial, but rather than a judge, its overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court (and the defendant is the frickin' president). Has a president ever been impeached before? You may remember from Bill Clinton in 1998... or Andrew Johnson in 1868 if you're magically that old... that presidents have been impeached in the House, only to be acquitted to be Senate. Richard Nixon decided to resign rather than endure the process, literally peacing out on the White House lawn. What is even the point of going through this process if the Senate is stacked with Republican cronies? Impeachment is not only a process through which to remove a president. There are benefits to the journey... not just the destination. Democrats have the opportunity to control the news cycle, rather than let the national news be determined by whatever Trump tweets on the toilet. As TV critic James Poniewozik notes, impeachment hearings make for must see TV. They give Democrats the opportunity to air out Trump's crimes for everyone to see, making them impossible to ignore going into the 2020 election. There's also something to telling Trump that his behavior is unacceptable, and warning future presidents not to run wild with power. As Pelosi said in her statement, "no one is above the law." Plus, there is still a slight possibility that Republicans will stand up to Trump, even if it's only to save their own asses. Not everybody in the country wears a MAGA hat, and Republicans are up for reelection, too. Oh, and this should hopefully temper Trump's behavior going into 2020. In a piece for, Zack Beauchamp wrote about how the Ukraine scandal makes a better case for impeachment the Russia one. "The goal is no longer retrospective accountability, holding the president responsible for past misdeeds. It is stopping his current behavior. The hope would be that impeachment would bring so much attention and scrutiny to Trump’s Ukraine push that he cannot get away with undermining yet another election." In conclusion, buckle up. It's going to be a crazy year of this...

Okay, it's time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.

Me: Hey, Jeff, welcome back to the Phile. I was gonna start off here by gloating that the Giants finally won, but in reality they were lucky... they only won by one point. How are you?

Jeff: So glad to be back here on the Phile to talk some phootball. I'm doing alright. How's it going for you?

Me: I'm doing good.

Jeff: Yup. The Giants won a single game all season. Which granted is more than I can say about the Steelers. Both teams are struggling both on the field and with injuries off the field. More on that later.

Me: I have to say your Steelers are...

Me: Hahaha. But that's not gonna last long I am thinking.

Jeff: Oh, that's funny. Owen Wilson and a tree. 0-3. Oh... call 911. I'm having a heart attack. I'm laughing so hard...

Me: Hahahaha. So, did you see how fast Daniel Jones ran in Sunday's Giants game? He's fast.

Jeff: Yeah, I saw how fast Jones ran. Eli couldn't run that fast. Then again, Eli had 7 rushing touchdowns in 15 years. Daniel Jones already almost has half that total (2) in one game. Eli never had a season where he rushed for more than a touchdown.

Me: So, what do you think Eli will do now?

Jeff: I honestly think Eli will retire at the end of the season. He had a great career but eventually everyone has to go out.

Me: I agree. As I mentioned on Monday's entry during the second quarter of today’s Bucs-Giants game in Tampa, Giants RB Saquon Barkley suffered what looks like a scary ankle/lower leg injury after landing awkwardly. Do you think he'll be okay?

Jeff: According to doctors, it's a high ankle sprain that will keep him out between 4-8 weeks but most reports are saying it will be closer to 8-10. My fantasy football team just took a hit!

Me: Did you see the Giants TE Evan Engram make that sick one-handed grab? Daniel Jones is making his first career start and if he’s going to have a lot of success in this league, having a WR like Evan Engram is much needed.

Jeff: Luckily I have Engram on my team so of course I saw that catch. It was awesome. Definitely have a target like Engram will help a young QB like Jones. Since you know there's no Barkley to hand the ball off to or Beckham to throw to...

Me: Okay, let's talk about Antonio Brown. Are you surprised he only was with the Patriots for one game and 13 days? If you woke up this morning hoping for no more Antonio Brown drama, I’m afraid I have some bad news. Not only did AB “retire” from NFL but he also called out Robert Kraft on his way out.

Jeff: Here we go with some more Brown talk! No, he tweeted he was done playing in the NFL since contracts can be voided. Because it's much different than when a player requests a trade even though he was signed to play for another team. Brown is a hypocrite. I don't know any team that would want to sign him. Hell, if New England who had a history of taking troubled players and making them work couldn't handle AB, no one will. And then he made attacks against Bob Kraft and Big Ben which he would later delete. I think you said it best, he'd be better off going to the XFL. Vince McMahon loves his colorful characters.

Me: What makes me wonder about him is he was under the radar all this time when he played for the Steelers and now he's the number one player in the news... for bad reasons.

Jeff: He was under the radar for you when he was in Pittsburgh but not for fans of the team. He made circus catches like Beckham did before him. He was our number one receiver for many years, but two years ago he started to crack when Juju Smith-Shuster started to play well. He didn't want to share the spotlight.

Me: The latest with him is he was ordered by a judge to appear in deposition on a civil lawsuit for trashing a condo. What else is gonna go wrong for this guy?

Jeff: I don't even want to know what else he could do to grab headlines. Just ignore him.

Me: Man, those poor Dolphins. Miami Dolphins tickets are so low right now you can stand on the field with the coaches and call two plays for $75. Do you think they will get better?

Jeff: The thing is the Dolphins don't want to seem to get better. If they keep playing poorly they already have two first round picks. Many people think the Dolphins are tanking the season and that's just pathetic.

Me: Okay, another team is back in America with a more patriotic logo and name...

Me: What do you think?

Jeff: Nice! I like that one. Just make sure that plane doesn't go to the Ukraine or Iran for Donnie Trump!

Me: Haha. What NFL news do you have?

Jeff: As messed up as the Antonio Brown saga is, there is another saga going around involving Jalen Ramsey in Jacksonville. He's their star cornerback but he's had issues with the owner so he's asked to be traded. He played in the Thursday night game which everyone said would probably be his last. Monday morning comes along and Ramsey "calls in sick" and "probably won't be there for the rest of the week." Just another prima donna in the NFL

Me: Okay, so how did we do last week? I must be in the lead now, right?

Jeff: Remember your Owen Wilson tree joke from earlier? I went 2-0 with a Steeler loss and you went... Owen and 2 with a Giant win. So no, you're not in the lead. We're not tied. I'M IN THE LEAD, SUCKA!!!!!!! It's 8-5.

Me: UGH!!! Let's do this weeks picks. I say... Chargers by 21 and Panthers by 2. What do you say? 

Jeff: My picks are Chiefs by 7 and Seahawks by 14.

Me: Okay, I will see you here next Thursday, Jeff. Have a good week.

Jeff: See you next week!

If you spot the Mindphuck and you should let me know.

From sex on the beach to dead on her feet! This juxtaposition almost makes me feel bad, but the truth must be told! Also, THE BABY’S MOUTH IS WIDE OPEN TOO... OMG. Haha. There's this local guy who is really fancy and likes to come by the Phile once in a while. He's here again today, so please welcome back...

Me: Hello, Samual, welcome back to the Phile.

Samual: Hello, dear Jason. Good to be here.

Me: So, what's new?

Samual: I just was at the store and wanted to tell your readers about the most wonderful thing I just purchased...

Me: What is it?

Samual: Colored bath oil ball that came in a gold foil box that dissolve in the bath. I can't wait to try them later.

Me: Hmmm... okay...

Samual: Have you ever tried them?

Me: Ummm... nope.

Samual: You should, Jason.

Me: I don't have a bathtub in my new place so I can't.

Samual: That's a shame. I also found some frilly toothpicks. They're fancy!

Me: If you say so.

Samual: I do. Well, I'm going to go off now and have dinner.

Me: Nice. Where are you going to eat?

Samual: The fanciest restaurant in town of course... the Olive Garden!

Me: Alright. Have fun. Samual Phancy, the fanciest man in town, kids.

On Monday's entry I told you this riddle... A man was killed in his office. Before dying, the victim managed to pull out the knife from his abdomen, nail to to a calendar, and write 6,4,9,10,11 with his blood. The suspects were Sophie, Jason, Nick, Julie, and Paul. Who is the killer? A lot of you got the answer right but those that didn't I will tell you. The killer is Jason. The numbers represent the starting letter of the month they stand for in a calendar: 6-June, 4-April, 9-September, 10-October, 11-November. Good job, everyone that got it right. And just for the record... I didn't kill anybody. Haha.

By now, you are more than likely familiar with the internet proverb: there is an old Trump tweet for everything. Whether it's an old Yankees tweet insulting Obama (what a word salad), a reference to his beef with Rosie O'Donnell, or a creepily relevant political cartoon from five years ago, past Trump was something of a prophet. And for the most part, his 140 character prophesies expose his own hypocrisy. Each time it seems the well of old Trump tweets may have run dry, another relevant one resurfaces from the archives. Yesterday morning, people on Twitter were marveling (and eye-rolling) at an old Trump tweet that perfectly prophesies his own impeachment inquiry. He tweeted, "Are you allowed to impeach a president for gross incompetence?" The 2014 tweet was obviously written as a dig at Obama, but sums up how many of us feel about Trump as president. Naturally, the old Trump tweet has been flooded with fresh mentions after Nancy Pelosi announced the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday afternoon. In the year 2019, there is an old Trump tweet for everything. While his old tweet is making the rounds, Trump is not handling the news of his impeachment inquiry very well. His series of predictably unhinged tweets started with an all caps banger, and have progressed into a series of posts lamenting the "witch hunt" being carried out. In true keeping with his brand, Trump made claims that no president has been treated as badly as him. He also went on to claim his call with the Ukrainian President (the conversation that inspired the impeachment inquiry), was "a perfect call." Technically, Trump's call with the Ukrainian President was "a perfect call" when it came to giving the final kick in the pants needed to launch an impeachment inquiry.

A couple was having dinner at a fancy restaurant and as the food was served the husband said, "The food looks delicious, let's eat." His wife replied, "Honey, you always say prayer before eating at home." He said, "That's a home, sweetheart, here the chef knows how to cook."

This is cool. Today's pheatured guest is an American singer-songwriter and record producer. His new book A Dream About Lightning Bugs: A Life of Music and Cheap Lessons is the 105th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club and is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Please welcome to the Phile... Ben Folds!

Me: Hey, Ben, welcome to the Phile. I have been a fan of yours since I first heard "Underground" in the 90s. How are you?

Ben: Hey. I'm good. Glad to be here.

Me: So, the first thing I have to ask before I forget is the story you wrote in the book is when you were on Letterman in 2005 and you performed your song "Landed" and after you were finished, you grabbed a stool and slammed it into the piano, like a rock star might smash a guitar. Tell the readers what was Letterman's reaction.

Ben: He seemed confused but seemed sort of scolding me which I sort of understood because I was saying in the book the thing about being a rock and roll piano player, there haven't been many of us, is that it's not a rock and roll instrument. It's living room furniture, normally for the middle class. That's the way it was always looked at, if I went to a house in the south and there's a piano in there and it's not really rock and roll. If I was really going to be a rock and roll musician playing the piano seems I always have to sacrifice the instrument to a degree just to show you're in the club.

Me: So, why did you throw the stool?

Ben: Well, that was pretty memorable for me because 1) I hate doing television because it makes me nervous. The overwhelming sentiment I get from playing mid-tempo piano songs on television is that it's valuable air time and I'm eating it up. I do these things and it's very forgettable and I walk off and it was done and I can't walk up for it really and it's just very impersonal. I don't want to complain about it too much because it is good exposure for my music and I'm always happy to do them at the end of the day but they're not comfortable. So I thought at the end of the song no one is going to care about this but if I was to throw the stool at the keyboard at the end like I do joking around live maybe that would make it stick out a little bit.

Me: So, after you did that what did Letterman do?

Ben: Of course that's not the first time I played Letterman, I played on there about six times I think. That's the first time I had met him, he never came across to say hello to anybody, he was pretty focused. He made a bee line to me and I was like oh wow, here comes David Letterman.

Me: Was he coming over to you to stop what you were doing?

Ben: He came over walking towards me, the cameras were off by then, they went to commercial and he said, "Why did you do that?"

Me: Haha. What did you say?

Ben: "Uhhh... show biz, dude." He said, "That doesn't make any sense. Are you upset?" I said, "No." "Well, why would you do that?" "I thought it would punctuate the song at the end, make people remember it or something." And he said, "That doesn't make sense. Did we do something to upset you? Did my producer or somebody or I upset you?" I was like I'm sorry.

Me: I love Letterman stories, Ben, and I love this story. Why did you put this story in the book?

Ben: The reason I put it in the book was to show the perception of the piano it's different. For David Letterman that's plenty irrelevant, that's not the issue, he would understand it from that point of view. But he's a Midwesterner of his era and I'm sure that looks like disrespect to his grandmother's furniture.

Me: Do you think of it was a guitar it would've been fine?

Ben: Yeah, but this just looks like I'm putting a heirloom or something on television and smashing it with a sledgehammer to him. He's definitely opinionated to what's funny and what's not and that's what I figured was comically lewd and unnecessary.

Me: Your book is called A Dream About Lightning Bugs... Did you really have a dream about lightning bugs?

Ben: Yeah, when I was a kid.

Me: So, what happened?

Ben: I remember in the dream being in the backyard with a lot of little kids, probably a birthday party, probably mine... I was the center of the universe when I was 3-years-old. I was able to see all of the lightning bugs. It was a warm night and I remember the dream. The other kids couldn't see them unless I pointed them and then when I pointed them out they were like oh, that's amazing. It made them happy as they were following me and I was bottling them, I put them into little jars and handed them out to people. As soon as I pointed them out they could see them which was the main thing about the dream.

Me: Okay, but why this particular dream? I'm sure you had more exciting dreams in your life than bottling lightning bugs.

Ben: Yeah. I sort of as an adult as it really stuck with me have come to see the dream as an interesting metaphor for art. You see the thing, it glows for me, and I bottle it. It doesn't mean that I'm some chosen lightning bug prophet. What it means is that's the thing I see, because the other kids might've seen clouds rolling in or they might've seen the stars, or they might've seen blades of grease. If they pointed them out to me I might've been really happy about that. I like the bottling part to because it's a life of learning how to bottle my ideas. That's the difficult part. Its easy enough to see them and then I have to do something about it.

Me: Did you talk about the dream with anyone?

Ben: I don't remember that. I don't remember mentioning the dream, no. There maybe some less parent time in that era too. We talk to kids more now. Back then it was, "Here's a stick and a bucket, go in the backyard. Everyone has dreams, Ben, just go back to the backyard."

Me: What was it like when you first started playing piano?

Ben: Well, it was really frustrating. It was exciting at night when my father rolled it in. He was doing some carpentry work on some old house and they paid him with a piano. He rolled the piano in I think with my uncle and they backed the truck up I think up to the porch and pulled it off. I was so excited but it was bed time, I can't touch it and I had to go to bed, I thought in the morning I was going to play a lot of songs on it because I've been listening to the radio and I know a lot of songs. Of course as soon as I sat down at the piano I didn't know what I was doing at all. It began a really frustrating career with the instrument, most of it for the first ten years playing piano it was marked by temper tantrums of things I cannot do.

Me: Ha. Did you ever take a stool to the piano back then?

Ben: No, that didn't occur to me until later. That's more theatrical. Honestly the stool doesn't really do anything to the piano normally, I took it out on myself more. I tried punching holes in the wall and twice broke my hand. I would throw things across the room. I was a total idiot. I was just a pain in the ass.

Me: So, what did you need back then to fix this attitude?

Ben: What I could've used is maybe a little better musical instruction probably at the time, I had really great teachers but one on one, that probably would've helped.

Me: You gave a lot of teachers a mention in the book. Who was the one that called you "dumb head"?

Ben: That was John "Chick" Shelton. Great man.

Me: Great man? He called you "dumb head," Ben. Why did he call you that?

Ben: He just talked to everyone like that.

Me: Were you offended when he did that?

Ben: He did it to everybody and we all laughed. He really loved us, he was awesome. That was his way. He was jazzer which was good for me because in 7th grade to start being around that kind of person. He came from an Army field band and he toured with big jazz bands and stuff so he was all rough and tumble that way and I learned a lot.

Me: Okay, I have to mention the song "Brick." What is that song about?

Ben: This is a story about high school abortion. And a true one.

Me: Do you think back to that time sometimes?

Ben: Well, I certainly did when I wrote the book. I did again when we got through the editing to track down my girlfriend from high school and made sure she saw it first.

Me: So, you took it to her? How was that?

Ben: Yeah, we did a brief talking about it. It was interesting to me to see her memory of it is, or what she took away from it, was she couldn't handle it. That she should've been able to handle the situation better and not lean on me, which I thought was an incredible thing to say. I thought she handled it amazingly. I think we were leaning on each other. A couple of kids get into that kind of trouble, just 16-years-old. Sixteen and seventeen, and just a few years before we were drawing things with crayons. Going outside for playtime. We were so young I don't know how she thinks she could've handled it.

Me: Apart from the book do you think about it often?

Ben: Yeah, I do occasionally. I think about it when I see the ever raging debate over it and the way people handle it. Kids in the situation so get caught in the middle. The poor thing had to go to school by the route of Planned Parenthood, people are always out with dead fetus posters and stuff, pointing at the road. Pretty rough thing for a kid to go through without that, then add that it's even worse.

Me: I think it seems that you both were really lucky to have each other, am I right?

Ben: Yeah, I suppose. I feel really lucky. Gosh, at 16-years-old I could've ended up with any kind of girlfriend or boyfriend. It's rather random. Yeah, what a cool person. We connected with each again recently, had a quick chat, not digging into anything too deep. It was the two of us and her husband, her husband was fantastic. Years later it was very interesting. Kind of sealed something up for the both of us which I think was special.

Me: So, I love your songs, Ben, your writing is always so clever and original. How do you do it? 

Ben: I'm a student of observation. I take things in what I see, what I've experienced and then I take all that stuff that I observed and repackage it to a song. 

Me: Hmmm. How do you explain that process?

Ben: Well, when I think about it in the way I just said it I think it makes it sound pretty impossible. Especially when I think of the restrictions of the space we have with lyrics and music. But I think what it is the beauty of songwriting or any art is heading to what glows and keep going. Because I'm getting to something I know anyway. It's not clear to me yet completely. Eventually if I keep doing things that make me feel right I get somewhere for me which is something I have described. But if I said to myself I have to write a song about this, it needs to capture these observations, it needs to be done in a certain methodical way I would find that impossible and the maze would be too great.

Me: Okay, so, if I dropped a pencil and wanted to write a song about it I would just say, "I dropped a Number 2, dropped some lead" or something lame like that. But if you wrote lyrics about a pencil dropping it'll be way more deep. Am I right?

Ben: Well, things occur to me about a pencil dropping. First of all you have a no brainer with gravity, that's it. The floor's in the way... where's it going? I'll think about yoga instructor that suggests you don't bend over too fast, you wish you hadn't done it to pick up a pencil so you hurt your back, you're getting old. Any image I see it's fun to play with a story around it. When one of the resonates then I go with it. Especially if it's catchy music in a way that I'll realize... the pencil falling on the floor is fantastic because I have a melody and for some reason that image is associated with that part of the melody. Where does that lead? So I try to find a couple of places where that would occur really quickly but that depends on the melody.

Me: See what I mean? You have worked with a lot of cool people, like William Shatner who was on the Phile once. What did you learn from working with him?

Ben: I leaned that... two big things come to mind. 1) It's not in the book, but why do the same take twice? All of us musicians do the same take twice. Why? We say could we do that again and we do the same thing. Because we think we almost had it, they want me to do it again and it was just missing some accuracy or something so we'd do it again. Bill doesn't do it the same way at all twice. Never. he refused to do that, doesn't know why we would do that. It's dangerous and I can't edit him. I can't screw with his timing, I cannot put two takes together, we just have to go for it. I just thought when the moment is right I'm passing him HIS lyrics. He wrote 50 pieces for me for that record. I would just find one, the musicians were assembled and I just started throwing instructions to the musicians.

Me: Ben, now that you're a musician what would you tell your younger self about becoming a rock musician?

Ben: I would tell my younger self, and this is a cop out, but I would tell them to read the book.

Me: Ha! Why is that?

Ben: Because it takes me that long to think to get there which is why I chose a book and not a song and not something shorter. What I did do at the end, because we all think what advice can I give my younger self, and that's always been a tough one for me because I don't want my younger self to skip any steps. So it's hard. I can tell certain individual things that come along. But even with kids I cringe with the advice I might be inclined to give them.

Me: Why is that?

Ben: Because it's been my experience. I think there's certain things I could simplify for sure but there're very specific. If my daughter said, "I've got this little G chord that I've been trying to play on the guitar." And I said, "No, no, no do to this way." Or "I think of dropping out of college." "Well, you got things to consider..." I make things too complicated so it's hard for me to say what I would tell my younger self. However, what I did try to do in the book is to see what my younger selves could tell me which is more useful. So I made a classroom full of all the different iterations of me on the way and I quizzed them about what music taught them in their life. That was really about the teacher getting the information for himself. My brain works that way, I have a hard time answering that. I would tell my kid to get some sleep. I would say, "You want to be a rock star? Make sure you get some sleep. And floss. You don't want to lose your teeth."

Me: Hahahaha. Ben, thanks for being on the Phile, Please come back again. You rock.

Ben: Thank you.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz and of course Ben Folds. I've been wanting him on the Phile for such a long time now. The Phile will be back on Monday with television writer Steve Young, who wrote for Letterman funny enough. 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