Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Pheaturing Killer Mike

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Tuesday. How are you? This is the last day of March. In case you lost track today is March 97th. For a truly immersive film experience watch Avengers: Infinity War and then after the "snap" go out for a drive around town. It really adds to the film in a way not imagined by the producers of the film. So, if you're wondering if you're too close to someone here's a tip: if you can smell their fart you're not far enough apart. So, watching Trump do a press concerned is like watching the kid who didn't read the book give his book report.
As we watch other international governments provide for their citizens, Americans may have been grateful to see movement in ours. However, some businesses seem to be doing the most in making sure they can still squeeze out every channel for more money, even if it’s from their own employees amidst the coronavirus pandemic. And boy, does my heart hurt for the employees of this specific Texas company. Based in Austin, Texas, this company (who will remain unnamed in order to not affect the company’s business), has sent out a form to their employees stating that they will deduct money from paychecks based on how much each employee will receive from the stimulus package. Basically, if you receive any form of stimulus checks from the government, this company will cut 100% of what you receive from your paycheck (half if receiving $500 for those who have children and dependents.) And just to tack on the unfortunate news, this company further explained in the form that these pay cuts will continue as many times as the United States sends government stimulus checks. They expect employees to sign the form, but it’s not clear what will happen if they choose not to. So I guess as long as President Trump signs more coronavirus stimulus deals, this company will not allow it to positively affect its employees. Recently, the latest news report that President Donald Trump had signed a two trillion dollar stimulus bill to help alleviate those whose jobs were gravely affected by COVID-19. The point was to utilize a government relief fund by sending some sort of stimulus checks to all Americans. I’m not too sure how much “economic relief” it will provide these employees if their company is also taking that away from them. According to KXAN, the company had already laid off a quarter of its workforce and also makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profit a year. And now, they are defeating the purpose of a government relief fund by docking the stimulus money amount from their employees’ paychecks. It’s a very interesting coronavirus response by this Texas business. I mean, Americans don’t want bankruptcy to become a pandemic too, do you?
On the flip slide it looks like the top executives at the Walt Disney Company are trying to help employees during this COVID-19 outbreak. According to a post that’s been making the rounds online, the greatest company to work for ever's top executives have decided to sacrifice their salaries to help fund payments to employees suffering from the economic strain caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Issuing a letter to Disney’s employees, like me incoming CEO Bob Chapek tells his workers that executives are going to have their salaries reduced beginning the fifth of April. This includes the executive chairman, Bob Iger, who has decided to take a 100% reduction in his salary. According to Chapek, the VPs of the Walt Disney Company have decided to take salary reductions so that they can “better position” the company in weathering the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brings with it. "effective April 5th, all VPS will have their salaries reduced by 20%, SVPs by 25%, and EVPs and above by 30%. I will be taking a 50% reduction in my salary. This temporary action will remain in effect until we foresee a substantive recovery in our business. Our executive chairman, Bob Iger, has chosen to forgo 100% of his salary,” Chapek tells Disney’s employees. COVID-19 has certainly had a major impact on the economy and the entertainment industry.
An Indiana dentist and his wife accused of locking their child in a cage will not serve any prison time. According to authorities, Aime and Alan Friz are accused of locking their daughter inside a cage at night where she sleeps, and possibly at other times as well. Court documents stated the terrible parents withheld food, water, and other sanitary facilities from her. The official trial was scheduled for March 2020, but it was settled in Crawford Circuit Court with a plea agreement instead. Fifty-nine-year-old Alan Friz was charged with eleven counts of neglect, eleven counts of criminal confinement, and four counts of sexual misconduct with a minor. Aimee Friz was charged with eleven counts of neglect and eleven counts of criminal confinement. All of the charges were felonies. Unfortunately, the charges were dismissed, except two counts of neglect of a dependent on the conviction changed from Level 6 felonies to a Class A misdemeanor. The couple was then sentenced to two years of probation. The couple was originally arrested back in October 2017. Authorities had responded to their Dubois County home on a report that a juvenile was out of control. Along with the prosecutor’s office, authorities interviewed the girl. Police then received a search warrant for the family home and found a closet area of a bedroom that was converted into a large lockable cage. The Indiana couple originally was scheduled to be tried in Dubois County, but argued they “wouldn’t get a fair trial there.” The case was moved to Crawford County. Authorities stated the couple’s first year of probation will need to be surprised, and the remaining time will be unsupervised probation. Dubois Circuit Court Judge Nathan Verkamp accepted the couples plea agreement which will require them to “accept some level of responsibility for their actions and will require the [couple] to be supervised for a period of time.” By the look they have on their mugshot, these psycho’s definitely don’t regret anything. Look...

I bet they don’t even see how messed up this is. Why lock a defenseless child inside a cage like an animal? That’s your kid! Disgusting.
A high school in the United Kingdom is getting some unwanted social media notoriety for handing out a sex education pamphlet to its students that listed activities teens could engage in other than actual intercourse but that were still kind of romantic or sexual in some way... because it suggested, among other things, sucking toes. The pamphlet in question was distributed at Shevington High School in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan in Greater Manchester to year nine students (aka freshmen). One father, Carl Lawrence of Tyldesley, came across his daughter Emma’s sex ed reading and, after taking a gander, said he was “bewildered and shocked.” The pamphlet, entitled “101 Ways To Show Someone You Love Them Without Having Sex” suggested the kids could suck toes along with nibbling ears, tickling them, buying them underwear, and running a bath for them. Lawrence was curious about why the school was encouraging fetish play as a sex deterrent and explained to his daughter that there were other ways of going about not having sex. Emma, for her part, said the kids at her school were laughing at the pamphlet and asked the teacher who would do stuff like that. The teacher, to her surprise, told the kids that they wouldn’t know if they liked it until they tried it. Dad’s right. Telling someone to fellate feet isn’t necessarily going to deter sex. For some it will, but for others it’ll just end up getting other stuff into their mouths quicker, depending on who is awakened by what. The only thing that makes sense about this whole thing is that the pamphlet was designed to, in a broad sense, make sense seem so weird and off-putting that the kids would choose to just ignore it altogether.
Yikes, these parents might want to look into getting a new baby sitter, asap. A 10-year-old boy was accidentally shot by his babysitter when she was taking photos of herself while holding a gun. According to the Texas Sheriff’s office, the boy was immediately taken to the hospital in critical condition but is luckily stable. The incident occurred at an apartment in Houston when the 19-year-old relative, Caitlyn Smith, who was watching the boy found the gun. Harris County Sheriff’s office stated Smith began posing to take pictures with the gun, thinking it was unloaded. That’s when the gun accidentally went off and hit the boy in the stomach. According to CNN, Senior Deputy Thomas Gilliland stated the boy’s condition has improved since taken to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing surgery. Through a Tweet shared by Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, authorities stated Smith was arrested and charged with Injury to a child-serious bodily injury, which is a second-degree felony. Jail records show she was booked on February 26th, 2020, with a bond listed at $20,000. According to the National Safety Council, accidental and preventable gun deaths make up one percent of overall gun-related deaths in the United States. Gilliland would like to remind the public to always remember firearms are not to be played around with. He noted, “Firearms are dangerous weapons so take precautions to make sure things like that don’t happen. Taking selfies was not the best thing to be doing.” Hey parents, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using guns as a method of protecting yourself and your family, but maybe you should hide them somewhere you know your children won’t be able to find it? It’s the responsible thing to do. This could have easily been avoided. This little boy is so lucky.
This story begins with a Texas mom who was having a day. She was out shopping with her young, rambunctious children at Hobby Lobby and, as young, rambunctious kids are wont to do, one of them acted up to the point that the mom had to do something about it. So she took him to the bathroom and made him do pushups. Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. Her son had to get some words in. The mom had no sympathy and no time for her son’s smart mouth. She just kept adding ten more push-ups every time he mouthed off. Simply hauling well-behaved kids with you can be exhausting enough, but the mental and physical toll of dragging around a kid who isn’t particularly interested in cooperating with you that particular day is to parenting what running up a mountain with a backpack full of bricks is to jogging. And also the bricks are telling you they hate you and that you suck. Another mom who witnessed this interaction understood that. Molly Wooden, who was carrying around her own kids with her that day, witnessed this mom’s old school, no-nonsense approach to motherhood and couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Common sense parenting! A mom or dad in the 21st century who doesn’t coddle their kids. She felt compelled to snap a picture and post what she saw to Facebook so she could publicly applaud this mother, who was a complete stranger to her.

"To the woman in the Hobby Lobby bathroom. If my hands weren’t full of children I would have applauded you. As your son gave you the back talk of the century, you stayed calm and collected while adding 10 more push ups to his already growing number. We need more parents like you, who aren’t afraid to parent their own children because of what someone else might think. He said “Mama, this is the bathroom floor, grossssss”. She said “maybe you shouldn’t have been acting obnoxious. (They have soap for a reason.) 10 more.” Random woman of Hobby Lobby, I love you. Keep on raisin’ them boys right! I have since found the mom through the power of social media and she promptly thanked me for posting this, says she appreciates the support and positive comments, and we’re hoping to grab coffee sometime… while supervising push ups that is." Granted, the Texas Hobby Lobby crowd is probably going to be a lot more supportive of parenting methods like these than, say, second hand bookstore customers in Portland, Oregon. But still. Rock on, tough moms.
Are you watching that Netflix show "Tiger King"? Well, there's another new Netflix coming out that you might like...

Haha. Speaking of Trump, I don't think drummers will like his executive order on this stimulus package...

That's just mean. The COVID-19 is so bad some paintings are protecting themselves...

I have been mentioning that the late actor Don Knotts used to be everywhere back in the day. Here's some more proof...

Haha. People are using the coronavirus as pickup lines on dating apps, like this one...

Do you  kids like Hot Pockets? Well, there's a brand new flavor that just came out...

Ewe. Hey, future kids, this was blink-182...

Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York here is...

Top Phive Things Said By People Who Can't Handle Another Month Of Social Distancing
5. People think this is going to last ONLY 30 more days?
4. Everybody is gonna have homemade bread, crochet scarfs and DIY wine bottle crafts presents for Christmas this year.
3. Expect August 30th... hope for April 30th.
2. Social distancing extended til April 30th... if I survive this and you see me this summer up 30 points... mind your own business.
And the number one thing said by someone who can't handle another month of social distancing is...
1. Y'all see ya'll did? Now we gotta stay inside 'til April 30th because ya'll jeep having quarantine parties.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, you know I live in Florida, right? Well, there's stuff that happens in Florida that probably doesn't happen anywhere else in the universe. So once again here is...

A Florida woman practicing either misguided passenger safety methods or some extremely public dom/sub sexual humiliation play was pulled over in Polk County, Florida because a Florida man locked in a dog cage was in the bed of the Ford F150 pickup truck she was driving. What was going on here? Fingers crossed for the public dominatrix angle, mostly because putting the man in a dog cage in the back of a giant pickup is one-hundred percent the Florida redneck version of a man being walked on a leash. Nothing screams “treat me like a dog” to that region like being questionably secured and endangered in the back of a speeding pickup truck. But the Florida man and woman had to expect this was coming. It can’t be legal to transport another human being like this, even if they volunteered for it. It’s certainly not legal to parade a grown man, or any person really, around the Polk County’s roads while he’s fully erect, moaning (howling?), and showing off his o-face the whole area. Hopefully part of the arrangement was that the man agreed to pay the ticket. That would also be humiliating so why wouldn’t he? The other options here are, who even knows? The man is being transported to face a trial by the county’s meth dealer tribunal versus a woman pulled over for having man in dog cage? The man was convinced he was a gator and kept trying to bite the woman so she threw him in a cage and is driving him back to the swamp? The man drunkenly confused the cage for his apartment the night before and the woman never saw him in there when she started driving the next day? Everything is on the table and almost assuredly the truth will somehow be stranger than the fiction guessed at here. I am resolutely Team Shame Boner, though.

flappy bug

Meg hosted a COVID-19 party in a lockdown state.

The 118th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The great Booker T. will be the guest on the Phile tomorrow. Okay, wanna laugh?

Three old ladies are sitting in a diner, chatting about various things. One lady says, "You know, I'm getting really forgetful. This morning, I was standing at the top of the stairs, and I couldn't remember whether I had just come up or was about to go down." The second lady says, "You think that's bad? The other day, I was sitting on the edge of my bed, and I couldn't remember whether I was going to bed or had just waken up!" The third lady smiles smugly. "Well, my memory's just as good as it's always been, knock on wood." She raps the table. With a startled look on her face, she asks, "Who's there?!"

Today's guest is is an American rapper, actor, and activist who has a very good documentary series on Netflix called "Trigger Warning With Killer Mike." Please welcome to the Phile... Killer Mike.

Me: Hey, Killer Mike, how are you? Welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you?

Killer Mike: Surviving. Hey, Jason, how are you?

Me: I'm good. So, you have a Netflix show called "Trigger Warning With Killer Mike." What did you want to do with this show? It covers so much.

Killer Mike: I wanted to turn the world's perspective upside down, one individual at a time. People circulated the clip of Steve Jobs saying "we live in a world of possibility within a realm of possibilities you're given." But that's not necessary reality. Reality is what we create. I think we all agree to the rules of standards and realities that we don't have to so it's my job to nudge myself to first and foremost push my perspective in the push growth and just like I do when I argue with my boys and customers in the barber shops on social issues. In the middle of Florida a bunch of guys might not agree and talk smack with each other but at the end of the day we shake hands and all our perspectives have grown some, I wanted to do that through the medium of television.

Me: I see that. Tell the readers what you do in the first episode. It was fascinating.

Killer Mike: I try to go three days living on produce and products made by black people and using businesses owned by black people.

Me: So, how did that work out for you?

Killer Mike: Well, I'm from Atlanta so theoretically it should have worked really well. For people that don't know Atlanta has over a hundred year history of black working and middle class success. From W. E. B. Du Bois to Booker T. Washington having a conference there in the early 1800s, to the 50s and 60s where they had the black political Mecca class able to produce such people as Martin Luther King and Maynard Jackson because of the political and economical success that was enjoyed by people like John Wesley Dobbs. Then forward to people like Andy Young and the mayors since then. All my life I grew up with black leadership, black mayors, and seen black success. Just like any part of America if there's a wealth disparity there's a lot that could be fixed but I grew up with endless possibilities. With that said it's very difficult now, I'm a 40-something-year-old man it's more difficult my age to find black produce meaning fresh fruit and vegetables and black tailors and seamstresses to find black dry cleaners. All the things my grandfather at 40-years-old could go to in their own community.

Me: Do you have any good memories or any memories when it wasn't like that when you were younger?

Killer Mike: Yeah, I remember going to a gas station when I was younger, it was owned by Barbara, a black woman, the restaurants we ate at were black, the builders that built our homes were black, the real estate agents, the lawyers who sold us our land were black and did the deals were black. But today for some reason we don't have the same connectivity we once had. The connectivity we once had was based on something that was innate because every tribe tries to take care of itself. But it was also reenforced by a very evil law, called Segregation or Jim Crowism, which essentially put blacks into a position on the death ground. We had to take care of ourselves because no one else was going to take care of us. Prior to Desegregation the black community was a stronger community and hitched bigger community which was a stronger community because economically we were strong. We provided goods and services for our own community and a bigger community. But since Desegregation something has happened to stop that. If we don't return to that it will be a forgotten community soon. And not one that lends to the bigger community in the country.

Me: You ended up sleeping on a park bench, right?

Killer Mike: I did.

Me: And you were hungry, right? What the hell, man?

Killer Mike: I was. I lost about three or four pounds.

Me: You know, it's just a TV show. You didn't really have to sleep on a park bench.

Killer Mike: I DID have to sleep on a park bench. Luckily I'm an artist and could sleep for only four or five hours anyway. So after four hours I got uncomfortable enough just to move around. I'm an avid marijuana advocate and smoker for medical and recreational use so it was difficult not to smoke for three days. The anxiety kicks in. But with that said I got an opportunity to meet an 83-year-old woman whose been toiling soil and growing her own food since she was a child. And now she's teaching her community, being the black people that live around her, and the greater community because all color and races are coming in to this former black elementary school which is now a farming center in the middle of that community. I got to eat fresh out of her kitchen, fresh out of her garden in the community garden and I got to spread that connectivity. It really is about making a connection. There's a west Georgia black farmers collective, we should make an effort as black people in Georgia to support them. We should make an effort to support them getting their goods in bigger stores. In my neighborhood we don't have a Whole Foods. we should make sure Whole Foods gets our neighborhood but we should not shop at Whole Foods because they won't do it, so that makes it a food desert. For me it's just about pushing for better in my community but not only for my community. My community is a strong community and we economically turn our dollar linger than six hours we'd make our greater community stronger.

Me: All right. So, tell the readers what you do in the second episode.

Killer Mike: In the second episode I go to a little school in Atlanta and I tell this group of first graders not to dream. Not to dream of being President, not to dream about being the scientist who finds the cure for cancer.

Me: What the fuck? Why would you want to give them that message?

Killer Mike: Well, the message wasn't not to dream but don't dream too big. That's what adults do to children all the time. I told my father I wanted to be an artist and he looked at me squarely in my eyes and said, "Son, they call it 'starving artist' for a reason.'" It's our jobs as children to prove adults wrong. Like Chris Rock said, "You over inflate your child's ego." Though is kind of like teasing almost like an older uncle. The irony is the black kid I told can't be President had nothing with the fact he can't be President it's just the United States Constitution doesn't allow him to because he was born in Canada. He's a Canadian citizen. So therefore he CAN'T be president.

Me: Would anybody want the job anyway? Hahahahaha.

Killer Mike: Not after the guy we got.

Me: You talk to some first graders about being an ally. For you what does an ally look like? 

Killer Mike: Well, an ally could be any one.

Me: So, tell the readers why you said about being an ally.

Killer Mike: A beautiful little red haired white kid, and a kid who I told should be proud of his bronze skin was a black kid whose white classmate told him his skin looked like poop. That inspiration for me giving that quick lesson fairly and lovingly was to say to both of them I love both of you guys, but if I let you jump in front of him while I'm encouraging him that's wrong for him. This kid that I'm encouraging this lesson is to be proud of himself no matter what. I got that because I used to watch this show called "Kindergarten" on HBO and there was this black kid who accidentally hit his friend in the face and his friend was white. He hit him at the water fountain and he said, "Ooh, I'm sorry." His friend stopped crying and they fixed it, as two 5-year-olds, they fixed it. A teacher came in and asked what happened and the white kid looks rather and through anxiety or panic or just being a kid he starts crying again and says he hit me. Now they had already solved the problem themselves, they already fixed it. Julian, the black kid said he apologized and they fixed it but because an authoritarian figure popped up the white kid went into the mode of now he has to tell, authority is here. With the black kid who could see the confidence and shame drain out of his body. I said he's never going to be the same after that because his friend didn't understand that they've already settled this and the authorities didn't need to be in it. It's kind of like when you see a black girl selling water in Orlando and you decide to call the police. And you own a dogweed dispensary company. We need to learn to interact with other individuals from five and up in a way that's humane and loving and caring. That way when we run into individuals like that versus individuals that point and put authority on one another. So that opportunity I thought was to say to these children you guys are allies, no matter what you look like, no matter what culture you're from you have the opportunity on an individual level to befriend someone that doesn't look like you who is not from your ethnic racial background and to be of help and service to them.

Me: In one episode you say the greatest hindrance black people face is "white Jesus." What do you mean?

Killer Mike: If their deity doesn't look like them how could they see the deity in themselves? It's that simple for me.

Me: You set up your own religion, you have your own Bible, you have your own congregation, what did you see in the people who joined your choice tell you about their lives?

Killer Mike: What it tells me is that we have religion down to a business in my country and I believe the world. In making religion a business in collecting ties and building churches, of spreading the gospels, the spiritual writings as we see them we're losing taking care of people, losing actual love and care and forgiveness for a greater community or a beloved community Doctor King talked about, The character of Jesus in the Bible as a character is an amazing super hero, is an amazing agitator, is an amazing defender of the poor. He's an amazing call to justice, the evils of the church, and the system of that time. We don't present Jesus in that way when we go to colonize places and we put our religion on people. We don't do that. What we do is we take our rules and our laws and we insert them, we hammerhead and we give them the people. That's not good for my community. The image of white Jesus has not been good for my community because it does not show the divinity in us as human beings. What we do know honestly, that the first human beings on Earth were people of color. Life starts essentially in the horn of Africa. It's just that us people are dark. We do know that the first human beings they've seen so far they found in the mother of humanity somewhere found in the continent of Africa and east Africa. So essentially we are made in the image of God, the first person to be made in the image of God was a black woman. As a man a man does not come from a rib, I come from a woman's womb.

Me: Ohhh boy. Let's kick over this can of worms. What do you personally believe?

Killer Mike: I personally believe that God is a woman. But in my religion I have a best friend who is one of the most morally good people I have ever known and yet we ran the streets and stole cars together at 12-years-old. His name is Sleepy and I introduced him as my deity and Sleepy and I set out on a course to introduce people to the religion of Sleep to the bigger world to results that were pretty amazing to me.

Me: You rapped with a barbershop quartet at an old people's home... or assisted living home as they call it now. What do you think when you think of that experience?

Killer Mike: It was amazing! The absurdity of performing with a barbershop quartet just pushes the limits of what is rap. What's a good music and what's not? I wanted old non-black people to understand rap. And I couldn't just play beats or have a band behind me because just the noise would agitate them. I thought for old people what's a really cool music I could get for really cheap and a mariachi band wasn't available that day so we got a barbershop quartet. What we did was put on a hell of a performance for them and they could actually understand my words. Only one person left and I thought he didn't like it but it turns out he's a diabetic and he had to piss.

Me: So, the country is all divided right now, Killer Mike. Can you break it down in your opinion for me?

Killer Mike: Noam Chomsky said something that is very interesting to me. I'm trying to find a away to make it even more plain that he makes it. He talks about we've been given these polar opposite things to argue about. His exact quote is this... "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum..." In America we are given two things to argue about. Either they stream this or stream that then they go on Twitter and think themselves as an activist that day and they yell and scream about it. Or they go out and they match maybe. And then nothing else happens.

Me: Would you say you were an activist?

Killer Mike: I'm not an activist post-music. I didn't become an activist because I've become successful and felt guilty of having money and the pleasures of becoming an artist. I've been an activist since I was a 15-year-old child! Like the former ambassador of the United States and Mayor Andrew Young says, "When I first met this kid he was about to kick down my door saying kids deserved a say in local government." I've been me. I'm telling people that the polls they give people to argue from where they're yelling and screaming at each other they are all serving the same master. There's a class of people that see you as a subject and peasants. If you're not allowing yourselves to community as their own individuals and grow their own perspectives they will all continue to serve the same master. And be unhappy simply screaming at each other all the time on Twitter. We have an opportunity for individuals to meeting and growing perspectives, working together to become something more what we are now. Within and outside the United States. If we do not take that opportunity our children and grand children will continue to suffer.

Me: What did the show teach you about yourself?

Killer Mike: It triggered me. I'm a heterosexual man who grew up with two amazing gay uncles who taught me and groomed me in ways I didn't know I was growing at the time. I learned to accept everyone early. With that said I still brought my prejudices and bigotry, it was hard for me to watch the gay porno's that the girls see all the time. I wanted everyone to be represented so I got a sex positive sex therapist, a black woman, a black gay lesbian woman, she taught me more than I had ever known about people and sexuality, love and empathy. I've grown from that and I appreciate her. Mario, who was one of the behest challengers to my perspective at the end ends up being a hero to me. I grew my perspective because I argued with him constantly. I want people to watch it, I want people to challenge it, I want them to be triggered, but I want them to converse with other people and start to build on themselves, within their community and outside for the greater love of the community.

Me: Cool. Thanks, man, for being on the Phile. Stay well.

Killer Mike: Thanks so much for having me, I will talk to you soon. Love and respect. Peace.

Well, that was a "fun" interview. Hahaha. Check out the series though... you have time. It's so good. Thanks to my guest Killer Mike. The Phile will be back tomorrow with the great Booker T. Jones. 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, March 30, 2020

Pheaturing Phile Alum Pheaturing "Weird Al" Yankovic

Hey there, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you? It seems that everything will be closed until April 30th right now... so you know what means. Five days of the Phile at least for the next few weeks. That's the plan anyway. As Walt Disney World is closed they pledge to use their corporate bailout money for hiring all positions! Food service: robots, custodial: robots, ride ops: robots, merchandise: robots, front gate: robots, princesses: sexy robots. What a strange time to be alive right? Gas is cheapest it's been in thirty years, can't drive. Flights dirt cheap, can't fly. We'r stuck in a fucking Alanis Morisette song. In there months we've gone from Elf on a Shelf to fuck all on the shelf. What does it take to turn a Trump supporter into a socialist? One thousand dollars.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Kidding, it’s not, far from it. With the coronavirus pandemic ruining all our upcoming plans, people have decided to do everything they can to cheer up their neighbors. With the government officially shutting down schools, bars, restaurants, gyms, and pretty any social event, people have been forced to practice social distancing. But fear no more, the lights are still on and strong despite the dark times. By that, I totally mean Christmas lights. Think about it, if you’re stuck at home, the least you can do is decorate your house to cheer people up. It’s brilliant! So yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the middle of spring. Several users on social media have decided to hang up their lights to spread cheer during the ongoing health crisis. The trend first came to light on Twitter after several social media users suggested hanging the decorations to show they were still in good spirits. It then gained attention from Milwaukee Brewer broadcaster, Lane Grindle, suggesting everyone get inside their car and look around their neighborhood. Which totally makes sense. If you think about it, it’s a fair social distancing activity since you’re still isolated… just in your car. So, safe to say their tweets actually worked and people began to share photos of their own mid-March Christmas decorations to add some much-needed cheer. Yes, there is still some sign of hope despite this horrible coronavirus outbreak. You know, the world needs a little bit of light right now, so why not help in any way we can? So… is Christmas dinner also happening? I mean, it’s only fair. You’re not winning this time COVID-19.
Oh my, it looks like somebody didn’t get the memo to wear gloves and clothes at all times to protect ourselves from the coronavirus. Nope, this nude woman decided to go against all odds and risked herself from getting COVID-19, and just go out and about in the open wearing her birthday suit.

Yes, basically this blond woman was seen straddling the charging bull statue in NYC totally naked, ignoring all the protection measures that the government and health experts have told to do during the coronavirus pandemic. Because well, she probably wanted some views on social media. I’ll admit it, it’s been some very hard times. I mean being in self-isolation sucks, so this bull rider probably just wanted some attention. Still, super irresponsible of her, because this carefree cowgirl didn’t just expose herself, but others. Also, do you know how dirty that bull is? Basically, you’re exposing yourself, and your private parts, to all the germs you can imagine. That financial district’s bronze icon has been touched by many, and not just New Yorkers, basically everyone who has visited your city. So yeah, you run to your gynecologist and get checked for some herpes or something, because you know you will probably catch an STD. Still, despite the coronavirus warnings, there was the “blond bombshell” straddling the financial district bronze icon. Not only that, but she actually captured her little stunt. A woman was seen taking pictures of her with an iPhone, which makes me think she’s probably an Influencer and has a million followers. Still, so dumb, so unnecessary, and so idiotic. It really scares me knowing people will do anything to get a few likes here and there on social media because they have nothing better to do. Go read a book, lady, that will cure your boredom during the lockdown, avoid all those STD’s. This is why we can’t have nice things. Stay safe, Wall Street.
A Texas man faces federal charges after he made online posts threatening Democrats, including U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, authorities said. Gavin Weslee Blake Perry, 27, of Wichita Falls, was charged Wednesday with transmitting a threatening communication in interstate commerce. According to federal prosecutors, Perry wrote on Facebook that Democrats, including Pelosi, “will be removed at any cost necessary and yes that means by death.” Perry remained jailed Friday and court records do not list an attorney who could speak on his behalf. Federal prosecutors said Perry admitted making the Facebook posts and that he told law enforcement he did so because he wanted to warn Americans to beware of the government. If convicted, Perry faces up to five years in prison.
An Australian teenager is inadvertently proving that his homeland should go back to being a forgotten island prison isolated from the rest of the world after he posted a video to the popular social media platform/Chinese spy tool TikTok that featured himself slapping his mom’s boobs to the beat of “Undercover Martyn” by Two Door Cinema Club. Seventeen-year-old Aiden Ridings, whose name sounds like it was generated by a Buzzfeed quiz that uses food choices to guess your name if you were born in 2003, is Gen Z’s hot new incest Influencer. Aiden and his mom, who would’ve been infinitely better off just buying him weed if she wanted to seem cool to her son this badly, filmed the video with seemingly zero reservations about what they were doing. Aiden then posted the video to TikTok and soon it made its way over to Twitter, where even the most veteran users of that perpetually horrifying platform were taken aback by this particular piece of molest-y content. I’m not pro-bullying, exactly, but Jesus I hope this kid got ridiculed into oblivion at school after he posted this. What other way is there to stop him from doing that again at this point? Clearly, his mom isn’t going to step in.
A Jack in the Box cashier in Yakima, Washington was confronted by a robber looking to score some crumpled small bills and loose car change but instead of complying and praying that the man wasn’t armed the cashier, who had apparently had a long, annoying day/week/month or whatever, very much did not comply. “You’re not robbing shit,” the cashier told the robber, later arrested and identified as 37-year-old Damian McCorkle, after the McCorkle incorrectly informed the cashier that he would be robbing the noted post-20 beer eatery. “Yeah I am. I need the money,” the McCorkle told the cashier. “I will beat your ass. You want to go outside and handle this?” the rankled cashier continued. At that, the McCorkle left the store on North First Street, as defeated as any man who has ever left any Jack in the Box has ever been. Even more so than the guy (me, at least once in my past) who has his card declined trying to pay for a four dollar order of tacos, both because he can’t afford the four dollar order and because he somehow felt the need to order 3,000 calories worth of tacos at 2:00 a.m. in the first place. When asked if he was nervous that McCorkle might be armed, the cashier claimed that it was the potential robber who seemed like the nervous one. After McCorkle was arrested he told police that he had never attempted to rob the store. He claimed that he had simply ordered food but then got into an argument with the cashier when McCorkle informed the worker that he would not be able to pay for the food. Police found a screwdriver in McCorkle’s left coat pocket and entered it into evidence. McCorkle was then booked into the Yakima County Jail on suspicion of second-degree robbery.
Instead of doing this blog thing I should be listening to this CD...

I love puppets so I wonder if it's good. So, there's a new video game you can play while you are at home, kids. Here's a screen shot...

You fail to hoard enough toilet paper! Some people are using the coronavirus as pickup lines on dating apps.

I wonder who that match voted for. The other day I mentioned Don Knotts and how being everywhere back in the day. Here's some more proof...

I wonder how many of my younger readers know who Don Knotts is. If I had a TARDIS I would probably end up in San Francisco in 1979 where gay men smashed the windows of San Francisco City Hall, with thousands rioting after Dan White received a verdict of voluntary manslaughter for the killing of Harvey Milk.

That would not be a fun time. If you need help on how to wash your hands check this out...

That's "Germs" by today's guest, "Weird Al" Yahnkovic. So I was bored and I decided to look up the word "Foghat" on Twitter to see what I could find and I saw this...

That's nice. Now for a brand new pheature called...

This Bridezilla who says people are dead to her if they don't want to risk dying from the virus.

You know I live in Florida, right? Well, there's some weird stuff that happens here...

This Florida man was just trying to help his girlfriend out. Coty Lee Havens, 26, thought Chastity Bodnar, 23, drank too much, and out of his concern for her well-being, told her as much. Well… maybe that’s what happened. Considering how Chastity responded to Coty’s lifestyle critique, it might be just as likely that Coty was tired of Chastity passing out on the couch covered in Doritos and Papa John’s garlic butter sauce and then peeing herself. Why is that generally possible? Because upon hearing that she may have a drinking problem Chastity (who was drinking at the time) became furious and responded to Coty by throwing her phone and hitting him in the throat. Then she followed him out to the garage of their Fort Pierce, Florida home, took two cans of beer, slammed them together to chug them, and proceeded to physically assault Coty. Coty later told police that Chastity had proceeded to “Stone Cold Steve Austin my ass.” Which yes, yes she did. Police later confirmed that there were indeed two crushed beer cans in the garage. Eventually, Coty was able to pin Chastity down and call the police. Chastity was arrested for misdemeanor battery. She was booked into the county jail Saturday night and released Sunday morning, free again to go full rattlesnake on anyone who dared question the way she lives her life. Coty too, however, was arrested after police arrived because for some reason he tried to fight the cops when they got there. There’s a good chance he was also drunk. Here’s hoping these two can work out there differences and fulfill their joint destiny of being that couple fighting viciously in the parking lot of a Bob Evans that other families have to tell their kids not to stare at as they hurry to their own cars and get back on the highway to Disney World.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Haha.

President Donald Trump is extending the voluntary national shutdown for a month as sickness and death from the coronavirus pandemic rise in the U.S. The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires today and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. But instead he decided to extend them through April 30th, a tacit acknowledgment he’d been too optimistic. Many states and local governments have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings. Trump’s impulse to restore normalcy met a sober reality check Sunday from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, who said the U.S. could experience more than 100,000 deaths and millions of infections from the pandemic. Trump’s decision to extend the guidelines reflected a recognition that the struggle will take place over the longer haul. “I want our life back again,” the president told reporters in the Rose Garden. Brought forward by Trump at the outdoor briefing, Fauci said his projection of a potential 100,000 to 200,000 deaths is “entirely conceivable” if not enough is done to mitigate the crisis. He said that helped shape the extension of the guidelines, “a wise and prudent decision.” The federal guidelines recommend against large group gatherings and urge older people and anyone with existing health problems to stay home. People are urged to work at home when possible and avoid restaurants, bars, non-essential travel and shopping trips. The extension would leave the federal recommendations in place beyond Easter on April 12th, by which time Trump had hoped the country and its economy could start to rev up again. Alarmed public-health officials said Easter was sure to be too soon. The U.S. had more than 137,000 COVID-19 cases reported by late Sunday afternoon, with more than 2,400 deaths. Earlier Fauci told CNN, “I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases,” then corrected himself to say he meant deaths. “We’re going to have millions of cases.” But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.” One in three Americans remain under state or local government orders to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus, with schools and businesses closed and public life upended. Dr. Deborah Birx, head of the White House coronavirus task force, said parts of the country with few cases so far must prepare for what’s to come. “No state, no metro area, will be spared,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. Hospitals in the most afflicted areas are straining to handle patients and some are short of critical supplies. Fauci’s prediction would take the death toll well past that of the average seasonal flu. Trump repeatedly cited the flu’s comparatively much higher cost in lives in playing down the severity of this pandemic. Trump had eyed a “reopening” of the U.S. economy by Easter, April 12th, but in recent days medical professionals have warned that would be far too soon for the nation’s heavily affected urban areas. Just on Saturday, Trump was discussing tightening restrictions, suggesting then backing away from an “enforceable” quarantine of hard-hit New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Instead, the White House task force recommended a travel advisory for residents of those states to limit non-essential travel to slow the spread of the virus to other parts of the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that Trump shouldn’t be so quick to reverse the social distancing guidelines, saying more testing needs to be in place to determine whether areas currently showing fewer infections are truly at lower risk. Trump’s “denial” in the crisis was “deadly,” she told CNN. “As the president fiddles, people are dying, and we have to take every precaution,” she said. She promised a congressional investigation once the pandemic is over to determine whether Trump heeded advice from scientific experts and to answer the question that resonates through U.S. political scandals, “What did he know and when did he know it?” Trump minimized the gravity of the pandemic for weeks. Asked whether she is saying that attitude cost American lives, Pelosi said, “Yes, I am. I’m saying that.” It put Pelosi out of lockstep with former Vice President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, who said he wouldn’t go so far as to lay the blame for deaths on the president. “I think that’s a little too harsh,” he told NBC. Biden faulted Trump for holding back on using his full powers under the recently invoked Defense Production Act to spur the manufacture of the full range of needed medical supplies... and for making erratic statements about the pandemic. “He should stop thinking out loud and start thinking deeply,” Biden said. Meanwhile, governors in other hotspots across the country were raising alarm that the spread of the virus was threatening their health-care systems. “We remain on a trajectory, really, to overwhelm our capacity to deliver health care,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on ABC’s “This Week.” “By the end of the first week in April, we think the first real issue is going to be ventilators. And we think it’s about the fourth or fifth of April before, down in the New Orleans area, we’re unable to put people on ventilators who need them. And then several days later, we will be out of beds.” He said officials have orders out for more than 12,000 ventilators through the national stockpile and private vendors, but so far have only been able to get 192.

The 118th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

I'm so excited. Booker T. Jones will be the guest on the Phile on Wednesday. Now for some...

Phact 1. During the production of Star Wars, Peter Cushing found Grand Moff Tarkin’s boots, furnished by the wardrobe department, to be very uncomfortable. George Lucas agreed to limit shots where Cushing’s feet would be visible, allowing him to wear his own slippers.

Phact 2. In 1930, a goalie named Abie Goldberry caught fire during a game when a puck hit a pack of matches he was carrying in his pocket. He was badly burned before his teammates put out the fire.

Phact 3. There was a massive ancient civilization in Illinois. In 1250 the lost city of Cahokia was larger than London. Today more than 120 massive earthen mounds are still located on the site.

Phact 4. Of the past 14 U.S. presidents, 6 have been left-handed and one ambidextrous. Out of the total general population, only 10% is left-handed. Records of presidential handedness prior to President Hoover are unreliable because up until that point left-handedness was still considered a disability.

Phact 5. Samsung now has 489,000 employees and its revenue is equal to 17% of South Korea’s GDP.

Today's guest is a Phile Alum who is an American musical comedian whose humorous songs make light of popular culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts; original songs that are style pastiches of the work of other acts; and polka medleys of several popular songs, featuring his favored instrument, the accordion. Please welcome back to the Phile... "Weird Al" Yankovic!

Me: Hey, Al, welcome back to the Phile. How are you? 

Al: I am great. It's great to be back, Jason.

Me: So, you have been touring and playing music for such a long time now, Al, do you remember your very first show?

Al: The first show I think there may have been 13 people in the audience. It was just scattered people hanging out going, "Oh, well, I guess that's 'Weird' Al."

Me: So, when did you finally catch on?

Al: It took awhile before we finally caught on. When we first started touring we were the opening act for Doctor Demento, the guy who discovered me as you know. I remember the next year is when "Eat It" hit and right in the middle of that tour it went from me opening for Doctor Memento to Doctor Demento opening for me. All of a sudden I was a big MTV star with a Top 40 hit and the dynamic changed a little bit.

Me: Didn't you open up for the Missing Person's at one point?

Al: Well, just one show. Exactly one show. That was before my first tour, that was in 1982. It was a traumatic experience because I love Missing Persons. They were fun new wave group and I thought their audience would love to hear a whole accordion based song parodies about food. That was not the case. We got pelted with literally anything that wasn't nailed down. Everything got thrown at us for 45 minutes. It wasn't really a positively affirming kind of event.

Me: After that happened did you want to give up? What did you think?

Al: Kinda. I thought maybe I shouldn't be an opening act for a while. Even if there's only 13 people in the audience I want them there to see me. One of the particular things I remember about that night as soon as the curtain went down my whole band was on the floor trying to pick up the spare change that was thrown at us. "I've got two bucks worth of change here!"

Me: So, I have to tell you, I don't think I did last time you were here. I play kazoo and you play the accordion... wouldn't that be a great band?

Al: Those are in the top five most annoying instruments for sure.

Me: So, why the accordion, Al? It helped you get popular with some friends, right?

Al: Yeah, I don't know if I was being calculated about it but I started getting interested in rock and roll after I stopped taking accordion lessons because when I took accordion lessons they taught me classical pieces and polka, that's about it. But I was interested in rock so I would play along to my Elton John albums and learn the rock chord progressions. When I was in college I would belt out rock songs on the accordion. Some people thought it was amusing that I was playing rock and roll on the accordion. Some people honestly were liking the way it sounded. I don't know if it made me popular but who knows for sure.

Me: One of your first recordings was recorded in a bathroom, am I right?

Al: Yes, this would be "My Bologna," we recorded it again for my first album but the original version got released as a single for Capitol Records and this would have been the end of 1979. Holy cow. This was literally recorded in the bathroom across the hall from my campus radio station.

Me: Didn't anybody come in and interrupt the recording?

Al: It was during the summer so the bathroom wasn't really getting used a lot thankfully. I didn't have to push anybody away from the urinals.

Me: I read that the bathroom was called Studio 229. Why is that?

Al: Because the number 229 was above the door. It was a place disc jockeys would sometimes go to to fake like live remotes. "We're out in the hall..." It would have this nice reverb effect.

Me: "My Sharona" was a big hit for the Knack but they were never able to follow up on that hit. You parodied it and then released 14 albums and win a bunch of Grammys. In some ways you have a much longer career than some artists you parodied. Why do you think that is?

Al: It's hard to say. I'm very lucky and very grateful that's the case. There's no telling. It's really pretty ironic because nobody wanted to sign me to a record deal back in the early 80s because I do was is ostensibly novelty music. And the implication there is one hit wonder. People who have funny song hits on the radio you never hear from the again. They're a foot note in rock music history. So people thought "this is really funny, really brilliant stuff, but yeah, we're interested in artists that are going to have longevity and be here for a while. It's really quite odd that I've been able to hang on as long as I have.

Me: When did you realize that everything was beginning to start to work out? Do you remember when things started to get out of control?

Al: I don't know about "out of control," I'll tell you I quit my day job the day that I found out that one of my songs was on the Billboard Hot 100, They signed me to a record deal, and this was at the time a 10-album deal which was sort of like nobody thought I was going to have 10 albums, let alone 14, but it was more like a Draconian thing where in some kind of crazy situation where "Weird Al" Yankovic would have 10 albums, it's like, "we've got you." Nobody thought that was going to happen so of course I signed the deal. It's better than working in the mail room. They didn't give me a big pile of money, it's not like I signed the record deal and "hers's your big pile of cash." It was just sort of okay, now get to work. I was still working in the mail room for minimum wage and at the same time I just put out my first album. It was when my first single hit the charts I thought I'd probably have to get serious about this "Weird Al" thing.

Me: How was that conversation when you told your boss you had to quit because your record is getting big?

Al: They knew that I had the record deal and when I finally gave notice I think they understood and everybody was like, "Well, good luck with that."

Me: Haha. So, you made a movie in 1989 called UHF, which I've never seen as I was living in England at the time and I don't think it played where I was living. Anyway, Siskel and Ebert, who I used to like their show "At the Movies" panned UHF big time. I'm not bringing this up to be rude, Al, but I was wondering if you learnt soemthig through criticism because things like that? I would of been upset if that was me...

Al: Well, one thing I learnt in live is never run over Gene Siskel's or Robert Ebert's dog with a car because that was probably my first mistake. It was a hard lesson to learn. The movie was universally hated by the critics and not a lot of people saw it because it came out in the middle of one of the biggest blockbuster summers in history. UHF really got popular in the later when it started to play on cable TV and people started to discover it. When it came out on DVD ten years later it was a top ten best selling DVD so it took a while to find its audience. But the big lesson there was I would realize my career would have breaks and valleys. I can't get too full of myself at a peak or too depressed at a valley. My wife and I have the same thought, be the climate not the weather. Ride along with it and don't get too caught up in myself and keep an even keel. That was what that taught me.

Me: Did you ever get depressed over the years about stuff, Al?

Al: I never got seriously depressed but that was definitely a low point for me. Ebert said in his written review of the movie something like "these days we have to treasure the early amused."

Me: I got the quote here as a matter of fact... "But this is the dreariest comedy in many a month, a depressing slog through recycled comic formulas. Those who laugh at UHF should inspire our admiration; in these dreary times we must treasure the easily amused." You were very close. Did you ever run into any of them afterwards?

Al: Ummmmm. I don't believe so. I don't think I met either one of them face to face.

Me: Okay, I want to give you a positive review or comment about you. Sasha Frere-Jones, who writes for The New Yorker wrote, “'Weird Al' has been cool for so long because pop makes everybody feel uncool; that he is the only one to admit it has made him a pop star.” What do you make of that? 

Al: That's an interesting take, I'll go along with that. I've always been the guy on the outside of the inner circle, kind of poking fun at the people on the inside. I think maybe not everybody, but I think a lot of people kind of feel that way. The pop people or the cool kids, I'm just this nerdy geeky guy, this is not a part of me, these are not my people. There's always something fun taking people down a notch.

Me: Is it odd for you to feel like an outsider?

Al: It becomes a little more odd when I'm going to the same award shows or having out at the same party as the people I'm poking fun at. So yeah, it does, the guys get a little gray after a while.

Me: So, have you ever had to speak to the performer or singer and were nervous they would say no if you wanted to parody their song?

Al: I always try to do it through the normal route which is usually my manager talk to the bands manager, or publicist or agent whatever. We try to get clearance that way. But there was one band my manager said, "They're not returning any of my phone calls, I know you want to do this, your dead lines are approaching, so if you really want this it's on you." He doesn't do that often but on occasion he's like "I tried, it's not working, you got to do it." Basically then I have to stalk somebody. It turns out a friend of mine was on "Saturday Night Live" and I said, "If you ever get in a room alone with Kurt Cobain put him on the phone because I got to talk to him." That's what happened, I got to talk directly to Kurt, the first time he was on "Saturday Night Live" and I said, "Hey, Kurt, it's 'Weird Al' Yankovic and I'd love to do a parody of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.' His first line was, "Is it gonna be about food?" I was sort of known of doing the food parody thing. "Why, actually it's going to be a song about why nobody can understand your lyrics." There was this pause at the end of the line and he said, "Yeah, okay, that's funny." That was it.

Me: He did have a point, Al, what's with all the food songs?

Al: I don't know. I guess I was obsessed with food in the early 80s. I just came off being a starving artist so maybe food was on my mind. I don't know.

Me: I like "Rye or the Kaiser" myself. I recently had Dave Bickler on the Phile, who was in Survivor and sang "Eye of the Tiger." I should have asked him what his thought of your parody of that song. Do you know?

Al: I think he liked it. People say I predicted the Rocky sequels because at some point Rocky winds ups actually owning and working in a restaurant. So it was kind of prophetic in a way.

Me: You should get credit, right?

Al: I should. I should get royalties.

Me: I was thinking, you didn't have to ask Cobain for permission. Parodies are protected by law so why do you feel you have to get "permission"?

Al: I could get away with it, the courts tend to protect parody in courts of law, but I just don't want people to be upset with me, I don't want writers or artists to feel that I have taken advantage of them. Also from a practical anybody could sue anybody for any reason at any time, whether they have legal reason to do so or not. I just don't want to be put in a position where I'm going to be worried if somebody is gonna come after me. I'd rather people be in on the joke and it's a poke in the ribs, not a kick in the butt was I like to call it.

Me: Do you ever feel nervousness about if they would say yes or no to you?

Al: Well, always, because if they say no then I'm done, I'll back away and I am not going to do that parody. Obviously I wouldn't be asking if it wasn't something I really, really wanted to do. I kind of feel in instances like that my career is sort of in someone's hand. It's a very powerless kind of moment, it's not very pleasant.

Me: Do people still say no?

Al: It happens very rarely, it happened on occasion. I'm trying to think of a recent example. The most recent example, and this was not the artist, but the record company... back when I did "White and Nerdy" I also wanted to do a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" called "You're Pitiful." I think James Blunt signed off on it early on but then his record label at the time had problems for it whatever reason and they said, "We don't want you to do this." That was unusual because usually when I do a parody the original artist actually sells more copies of their record because it's cross promotion. Whatever reason they said no and my record label didn't want to get into a big war with his record label so I walked away from it. That was one of those rare instances.

Me: Are their any parodies you regret doing?

Al: Well, there's some parodies I like more than others. The one that jumps to mind is a song on my third album which I was basically forced to do by my record label. I did it under a sort of duress. I had "Like A Surgeon" on that album and I thought that's going to be the hit single on my record. The label was like, "Maybe, Madonna's pretty big, but we're not gonna put out this album unless you do a Cyndi Lauper parody." Okay. What? Really? They wanted me to do "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." I loved the song but really didn't want to do a parody and again under duress I did, "Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch." Which was really just by the book a really dumb food parody song. You can hear it in my voice, "I just really don't want to do this song but they're making me do this song." That's on the album and the label went, "Maybe you're right."

Me: Al, thanks so much for being back on the Phile. Please come back again. Stay safe.

Al: Oh, my pleasure, thank you.

That's about it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guest "Weird Al." The Phile will be back tomorrow with Killer Mike. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Stay indoors.

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

Friday, March 27, 2020

Pheaturing LeVar Burton

How many Republicans does it take to change a light bulb? None, Trump just says it's fixed and the rest of them sit in the dark and applaud. Haha. Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Friday. Five entries in a row for the second week running. This is a record. If I don't have to go back to my job at Disney next week then it'll be another five entries. A teenager who left a 16-year-old disabled for life after smashing his skull with a homemade baseball bat has been jailed for eight years. Eighteeen-year-old John Callis-Woolsey bludgeoned his victims with the bat, which was emblazoned with the word "Lucille" and had 24 sharp nails protruding from it. The attack was said to be inspired by “The Walking Dead.” One of the main characters portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Negan, used the bat wrapped in barbed wire to kill zombies in the series. Not only did the teen beat the defenseless 16-year-old boy, but he then celebrated by doing the floss dance from the popular computer game "Fortnite." The victim, named Oscar, suffered a major bleed on the brain and was hospitalized for a total of nine months. During his time in intensive care, medical experts believed the boy would not survive the attack. Fortunately, he pulled through but now requires full-time care due to a lifelong brain injury, leaving him only able to walk with the aid of a frame. The victim’s mother is now a warning of the impact of violent games and TV shows on teenagers. “The assault has changed our lives forever,” she said, according to the report. “This was a mindless and unprovoked act of extreme violence. I was shocked when I saw the hideous-looking weapon that was used. I would like the producers and creators of such programs to know the influence the content has on immature minds. My son is serving a life sentence and doctors have advised that he will remain disabled for the rest of his life.” Callis-Woolsey was ordered to serve an eight-year sentence in connection to the attack and plead guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent. Callis-Woosley’s accomplice, Kyle Cullan, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and was given a 12-month sentence. Detective Constable Derek Ellis stated the brutal assault was of extreme violence and was planned and orchestrated by a teenager for “a somewhat trivial matter.” He noted, “His actions that night have dramatically altered the course of two young and bright promising lives, one of which was his own. The victim and his immediate family have had to come to terms with the consequences of that night.”
You just can’t make these things up. I swear it’s like robbers aren’t even trying to get away with their crimes anymore. I’m serious, just ask this dummy from Texas who decided to escape by using a scooter. Anyways, this one is way better. A 47-year-old bank robber from Scotland was arrested for a bank robbery that ultimately went terribly wrong. Apparently, Matthew Davies took a pillowcase to use as a mask… but realized he had simply forgotten to cut eye holes out before actually trying it on. Womp, womp, womp. A for effort bud, I can tell you really planned this one out. So, obviously, this man had to take his pillowcase off to be able to see during the robbery, which made it very very easy to identify him. He allegedly threatened staff with a meat cleaver, got his money and left. But, what this dummy didn’t realize was that a witness apparently followed Davis from the Bank of Scotland Branch to his Dunfermline home. After an inspection, authorities found the pillowcase mask “consistent with what he put over his head,” So, to jail, he went. Seeing as there was probably no way out of this one, he pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and robbery. Yes, heist gone terribly bad, he’s definitely on Scotland’s most terrible bank robbers list. Now, I know I am in no position to make fun of this man, let alone say that I could have done this better because I would never do this, but come on. How do you forget something as crucial as this? My man Matt over here must have been so nervous to skip a step as simple as this. Props for trying and sticking out with the plan even though he knew he was screwed. Hey, to any bank robbers out there, here’s some advice... Don’t rob a bank, that’s stupid. If you do decide to rob a bank, maybe make sure you have everything ready to go. Make sure there are no witnesses. Don’t rob a bank, that’s stupid.
A routine road closure for a transportation worker in Mississippi turned into the quick delivery of a baby on the interstate. Wayne Evans, Superintendent II with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, was getting ready to shut down a lane on February 24th in morning on I-20 near Brandon. That’s when a car pulled up with its emergency lights flashing, and two women got out of the car. “They were in desperate need for something,” Evans said in an interview shared online by MDOT. When Evans approached the car, he found a third woman in labor in the backseat. “It was going to happen pretty quick and I knew they weren’t gonna make it to the hospital,” he said. So, Evans got a first aid kit from his truck, put on a pair of gloves and helped deliver the baby boy. “He put his gloves on, and got his umbilical cord from around his neck, and he helped me deliver,” new mom Desire’e Thomas told WAPT-TV. “I do want to tell him thank you and I’m glad he didn’t panic or nothing, he was so calm and nice.” Evans said he believes his Marine Corps training kicked in. “I was never trained to do anything like that, but still the calmness of it and trying to keep the others calm and trying to make this thing happen,” he said.
Life alert, I would like to report a fall! Believe it or not, a grandmother was knocked out cold when a stripper pole snapped and fell on the ground in the middle of the show! Yes, poor grandma will probably never step inside a strip club in her life in fear that she might be hit again. According to Metro, not only did the grandmother suffer injuries, but a Dreamboys stripper also broke his leg. Thirty-two-year-old Lewis Riches was performing a special routine at the For Your Eyes Only club in Shoreditch, London when the 20-foot pole broke and struck the 75-year-old woman in the head. Riches managed to break his leg and in two places. As for the woman, who was there as part of a bachelor party watching from the second row, was immediately taken to the hospital. According to her granddaughter Gemma Louise, the staff at the venue handled the situation terribly wrong. She stated, “For a pole like that to be knocked down by somebody when they use it on a regular basis... they should be checking them to make sure it isn’t going to fall off.” Louise explained that she noticed the floor also had water and several drinks spilled, which were a potential hazard for anyone entering the club. She also noted that following the incident, a staff member told her friend than an ambulance was on its way, but when she called for one a few minutes later, the operator told her no one had called to report the incident. As far as the stripper, well the staff quickly tended to the dancer’s head injuries, but did nothing about his leg which was reportedly twisted and out-of-place. A nurse was reportedly in the audience, thank god, but unfortunately no one “truly trained was on the scene nor called.” It was only until a member of the bridal party called 911. “I don’t think the staff truly took on the extent of the damage.” Louise stated, “Eventually, people started moving the chairs to clear the room as we were told to go behind the bar area but it was so dangerous as there were drinks and glasses all over the floor. None of the staff seemed to know what to do or how to handle the situation. It was pretty traumatic to see both the old lady and dancer in such a way.” A London Ambulance Service spokesperson revealed that they did receive a call for an emergency incident and that the 75-year-old woman received a head injury before being rushed to the hospital. She was immediately put in a neck brace by advanced paramedics after suffering a concussion. As far as the elderly woman’s condition now, well, they haven’t released any information yet, but I sure hope this woman is okay. One thing’s for sure, if the family decided to sue, they will be getting a big hefty check.
Today's guest, LeVar Burton might appreciate this next story... An African-American man willing to risk it all to eradicate racism one terrified hostage at a time has been arrested for kidnapping a woman and forcing her to watch the acclaimed 1970s mini-series "Roots" so that she could better understand her racism. Fifty-two-year-old ironic name haver Robert Lee Noye is accused of kidnapping an unnamed woman whose race has not been specified and then taking her to a property on the 700 block of Second Avenue SW in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and forcing her to watch all nine hours of "Roots" “so she could better understand her racism,” according to authorities. For those unfamiliar, "Roots" is based on Alex Haley’s novel and stars LeVar Burton. The series follows generations of Kunta Kinte’s family from the patriarch’s capture and enslavement in Africa prior to the American Revolution to the family’s eventual emancipation after the U.S. Civil War. The show was nominated for a record-breaking 37 Emmys and is still a cherished series today, though it’s unclear if the show and its lessons hold up as well when you’re trying to watch it while a raving lunatic is keeping you as his prisoner. Noye made sure his captive was a captive audience as well, telling the woman that if she did not remain seated through the entirety of "Roots"‘ nine-hour run he would murder her, cut her body into pieces, and then spread her body parts along Interstate 380 from there to Chicago. No word on if, in between threats of dismemberment and murder, Noye offered commentary on what the series meant to him or how its lessons applied to what short time potentially remained in the woman’s life. Woke Buffalo Bill was arrested and faces charges of first-degree harassment and false imprisonment. Maybe LeVar won't appreciate that story.
I was at Target yesterday and I saw there's a new LEGO set that just came out that I almost got...

Maybe next time. Not only was LeVar Burton in "Roots" but I know him from the series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Before that show aired it had a different title...

Hahaha. LeVar is NOT even in that pic! I'm so lame! He's in this next pic though... this was the original uniforms they were supposed to wear on the show...

Haha. I've mentioned this before, people are using the coronavirus as pickup lines on dating apps like Utkarsh here...

Did you see the movie 1917? Well, they added something to it for the home release...

If I had a TARDIS I would go to Thomas J. Semmes school in New Orleans during recess on Sept. 7th, 1962, which was the second day of integrated classes and watch a white girl following a black girl down the slide...

Yesterday I told you that Don Knotts was everywhere back in the day. Here's more proof...

I wonder how many of you know who that band is. Email me if you know. And yes, I know who they are. No... it's not Foghat. Man, did you see that rocket go up yesterday? I missed it as I was doing this blog when it went up. Glad we have a Space Force instead of a pandemic response team. Kidding! Trump must love "Star Trek" though...

Hahaha. Here's something that should make you smile...

I think it's funny. Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York here is...

Top Phive Things Said By People Who Witnessed Their Partner's Office Mode While Watching Them Work Remote
5. A funny thing about quarantining is hearing your partner in full work mode for the first time. Like, I'm married to a "let's circle back" guy... who knew?
4. My wife works from home full time, but I remember the day I realized she was the "one more question" person at the end of the meetings. I was shook.

3. Mine said, "Why don't we table that and revisit it in a couple days?" Who the fuck is he? We've never tabled a damn thing and revisited anything in our entire 36 year marriage!
2. My husband is pleasant and PATIENT on the phone. It's like an invasion of the body snatchers. I know him as the guy who can't sit still at red lights and won't buy more than three groceries at a time, WTF? Why can't I have the patient guy?
And the number one thing said by people who witnessed their partners's office mode while watching them work remote is...
1. The first time I saw Work Husband I was thrilled to find he was a "I don't think Laura was done speaking" guy.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. A friend of the Phile has something to say, so you people better listen. He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. You know what time it is...

As much as I try, I’ll never quite understand you humans. All you’ve been asked to do is stay at home and do nothing. Stay with your loved ones and stay away from other people and public gatherings. You’d think that task would be relatively easy. You’d think staying home from your job and being lazy with loved ones would be appealing to nearly all. But no... you have to be a rebel, a non-conformist, a devil may care anarchist... you’re going to spread the virus to those you love and get many around you killed... all because you had to be a fucking moron.

Ugh! Laird is right. See? It's people like Katie Williams here. We are all fucking doomed. Okay, you know I love in Florida... well, things happen in this state that probably won't happen anywhere else. So here we are again with...

A Florida man took matters (and scissors and his neighbor’s penis) into his own hands after he could no longer stand the thought the man living next to him going unpunished for sleeping with his wife. Alex Bonilla of Gainesville, Florida walked next door, held his neighbor at gunpoint and threatened to kill him if he resisted, tied the man who slept with his wife up, cut off his penis, and ran out of the house with his neighbor’s penis in hand. The man’s children were in the house while it happened. According to Bonilla, he caught his neighbor sleeping with his wife last May and, apparently, his frustration with that knowledge reached a point of no return. Police charged Bonilla with aggravated assault, cruelty toward a child, and burglary. Maybe just get a divorce next time. Or move. Or do literally anything other than cut a man’s penis off while his terrified kids are in the other room. Move on. Put on your Maui Jim shades and your best Margaritaville flip flops, head down to the dock bar, and find a replacement for Tammy. A new Florida woman who will love you and be loyal. How about Patty over there smoking a Virginia Slim 100 and sipping a Mai Tai at the bar? She’s nice. She has a good job at the Publix, her hobbies include painting seagulls and watching amateur motorcycle races. Heck her brother owns a jet ski. You could’ve had some real fun with her. But no. You cut off a guy’s penis. Pride really is the most destructive sin of all. According to the New York Post, there is no word on if doctors were able to attach Bonilla’s victim’s penis but, man, hopefully they were able to. But really that shouldn’t even be an issue. It’s 2020. Why are we not growing this man a bigger, shinier penis with stem cells? Ridiculous.

If you know anyone who is experiencing substance abuse, call the National Drug Helpline at 1-844-289-0879.

A proud and confident genius makes a bet with an idiot. The genius says, "Hey idiot, every question I ask you that you don't know the answer, you have to give me five dollars. And if you ask me a question and I can't answer yours I will give you $5,000." The idiot says, "Okay." The genius then asks, "How many continents are there in the world?" The idiot doesn't know and hands over the five dollars. The idiot says, "Now me ask: what animal stands with two legs but sleeps with three?" The genius tries and searches very hard for the answer but gives up and hands over the $5,000. The genius says, "Dang it, I lost. By the way, what was the answer to your question?" The idiot hands over five dollars.

The 118th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Hopefully Booker will be on the Phile next week. I hope I don't have to go back to work next week.

Today's pheatured guest is an American actor, presenter, director, and author, and podcaster. He is known mostly for his role in "Roots" and as Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." In 2017, he began a podcast titled "LeVar Burton Reads" where each episode features him reading a short story. Please welcome to the Phile... LeVar Burton.

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

LeVar: Hello, Jason, I'm gad to be here. Your blog is an interesting read.

Me: Thank you... I think. Hahaha. Okay, so, you have said it's important to read, but why is it important for us to listen to stories?

LeVar: First of I think everybody loves being read to. It's a very elemental part of our childhood experience. It just takes us back to a period in our lives when things were so much simpler. It's a real shortcut to stress relief. Just surrendering in your imagination to the power of the written word. Lord knows we all need some additional measures for stress relief these days. Don't you think?

Me: I think so. I never saw "Reading Rainbow" but saw a clip of you from the show with the book called The Robbery of the Diamond Dog Diner. Do you remember that book?

LeVar: Yeah, I do. I love that book.

Me: How does it feel that you're an outlet for so many people for storytelling?

LeVar: My mom was an English teacher, Jason, and when she passed over a year ago now and everything I've ever done in the field of literacy especially for children is in honor of Irma Jean. She was my first teacher, she was an avid reader herself, she always had two or three books going for her own personal enjoyment. We took two daily newspapers when I was a kid. I grew up in a household where it was clear to me reading was as important to the human as breathing. I'm totally away of the impact of literacy had in my own life. For some reason I have this passion where I want to share that joy with folks.

Me: I'm a grammar nazi, sir. You must be too having your mom being an English teacher, am I right? 

LeVar: Yeah. When my grammar is right at home then I have this superpower I go out in the world and correct everybody else's grammar.

Me: Yup. I have a habit of doing that. You wouldn't believe how many people I interview here for the Phile have terrible grammar. And people hardly ever say something like, "LeVar and I went to the store." They'd say "LeVar and me went to the store." Am I right?

LeVar: Yes, indeed.

Me: Ha. Your podcast "LeVar Burton Reads" has nothing to do with the Diamond Dog diner, right? 

LeVar: It does not. No.

Me: I listened to a little bit of one of the podcasts, LeVar, and you sound so relaxed and calm, it made me feel calm. You took a breath, why is that?

LeVar: I take a breath and encourage the audience at the beginning of every story for a couple of reasons. Again taking a deep breath is a great tool for stress relief. The deep breath at the beginning of each story creates a portal, a threshold really, between that became before the story and the story itself. It's a way of entering that world of receptivity and imagination and story.

Me: Do you change your reading techniques based on adults and children?

LeVar: No. I don't think I do. It's the material that dictates the voice, and the energy required for the story. I think children's books really require a lot of voices and engagement and energy. But it's the same princess for me, no matter the audience it's all about delivering the story, putting myself simultaneously the head of the writer and the reader. And trying to deliver on the potential of the moments that are laid out for me.

Me: I'm jealous, I wouldn't be able to read a book and people listen... they'd turn it off in a second. What's the secret to being able to read out loud and getting people to listen and being drawn in? 

LeVar: It's the constant communication What's great about it and what's freeing about it for me that it's not my communication... I'm the interpreter. That's what story tellers are. I get to lose myself in the imaginings of the writer. I'm just trying to interpret what they laid down. Following the bread crumbs, I'm just walking down the trail that they already forged. It's very freeing for me.

Me: Did you want to be an actor because you listened to stories when you were a kid?

LeVar: That's actually a good question because I never made that correlation before. From my point of view my entry to the theater arts really came out of my decision to not enter the priesthood. I entered the seminary when I was thirteen. I was pretty young. But I was committed, I had the vocation. At least I felt I did.

Me: So, you had this "calling," is that what it's called?

LeVar: Right. So when I decided not to become a priest I was really searching for I was going to spend my life and theater arts was there and was becoming a very special pursuit for me and that's the connection I made. I get it, Jason, that looking back throughout the trajectory of my life it was my destiny to become a story teller. My mother was hugely instrumental in that first step.

Me: Wherever most people learned your name was "Roots," which was based on a book. I never saw it but I know my parents did. When that series aired it had such an impact. Did you feel that?

LeVar: Did I feel what?

Me: Did you see the cultural impact, did you see that it was getting a big reaction?

LeVar: Obviously there was a lot of people watching. Nobody knew that "Roots" would have the social cultural impact that it did. Not when we were making it, not the it started airing. It was sort of this snowball that gathered momentum and it became the conversation happening in North America. 

Me: What was it like walking down the street back then after you got famous?

LeVar: Confusing. One day I was obscure, the next day I was recognized. There was a period of adjustment.

Me: Was it a positive recognition all the time?

LeVar: All the time? No, not necessarily. Black people in America have a reeeeaaalllyyy complex relationship with identity. Anytime the slave narrative enters the public consciousness there is push back. Some people think it's the only story about us that only gets told and so it's tired and played out. I am of the opinion that America has never reconciled itself with the original sin of slavery until and unless we do. We'll never get over it, we'll never be post racial. Everything that happens in America is based on a dynamic that includes and involves race. Period. Full stop. Our denial of that just continues too perpetuate problems that aren't going to go away. Obviously they haven't in a couple of hundred years.

Me: So, how did you feel back then about that show?

LeVar: Back in the day Kunta became simultaneously the symbol for some people the adorability of the human spirit and the desire for freedom. For other people he became a symbol that only reminded them of the shame of having been enslaved.

Me: You had to deal with all that, right?

LeVar: I had no choice.

Me: Was it easy?

LeVar: Eh. Ha ha ha.

Me: Hahahaha. That's my favorite answer to a question I ever had on this blog. Okay, so I have to mention "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as the "Star Trek" themed logo would be otherwise pointless in this entry. Here's a pic of you from this show...

Me: Did you feel the pressure of that show before it came out as it was the first "Star Trek" thing since the movies?

LeVar: I felt a responsibility having been an enormous fan of the original series. I'm a huge fan of the science fiction genre. Always have been. Science fiction has always been my go to literature for my pure enjoyment when I want to read something for me. Really all science fiction and fantasy.

Me: Were you into "Star Trek" when you were a kid?

LeVar: "Star Trek" was one of the few representations of the future I encountered when I was a kid, where people who looked like me were represented. So in an era in my life, in America it was rare to see black people on TV except for on the nightly news during the Vietnam War era where most of the soldiers we were sending to the theater of war were black kids. "Star Trek" was huge. Gene Roddenberry as a storyteller was saying to me when the future comes there's a place for me. It's hard to underestimate the power of seeing one self reflected in the popular culture what impact it has. It validates me. Absent seeing myself represented or people who are like me being represented in popular culture are sent a very dangerous message. A message that says I don't matter, I'm not important. So quite naturally I clung on to that example of black people in the future.

Me: Okay, do you think science fiction shows or other shows showed people of color in the future? 

LeVar: Until very recently. Certainly in literature. There's an explosion now of African futurism or Afrofuturism. Diverse voices from people of color have really begun to infiltrate the speculative fiction realm in a very powerful and dynamic way. It's so exciting for a kid coming from Sacramento, California that read science fiction in his bed in the summer time to where we are now with all these great new voices coming to the forefront. It's really exciting.

Me: So, your new podcast is just audible. What does that do for you?

LeVar: It takes them where images always originate. In the mind's eye. It's how we first experienced stories as human beings around the fire. And radio, I grew up listening to the radio. t's always been my favorite form of storytelling. Reading allowed or being read allowed to.

Me: So cool. LeVar, sir, thanks for being on the Phile. I really enjoyed this, I hope you did and I hope you'll come back again soon. Stay safe.

LeVar: Thank you, Jason, I enjoyed this as well.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile, Thanks to my guests Laird Jim and of course LeVar Burton. The Phile will be back on Monday with Phile Alum "Weird Al" Yankovic. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Wash your hands.

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