Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Pheaturing "Weird Al" Yankovic

Hey there, welcome to the Phile for a Wednesday. Today is my last day as a 48-year-old. I'm too old for Netflix and chill. I want Amazon Prime and commitment. You know you're getting old when a fart throws out your back.
Happy almost Thanksgiving! It appears that this year, the president of the United States is thankful to be compared to Charles Manson. WHAT? After Manson's recent death (R, but not IP), the "New York Times" shared an op-ed arguing that Manson and his race war-fantasizing family ushered in the new far right. In the essay, Baynard Woods argues, "Mr. Manson was not the end point of the counterculture. If anything, he was a backlash against the civil rights movement and a harbinger of white supremacist race warriors like Dylann Roof, the lunatic fringe of the alt-right... In recent months, the far-right media have become fixated on the idea that left-wing 'antifa' activists will spark a new civil war. Gateway Pundit, a far-right website, claimed that 'millions of antifa supersoldiers will behead white parents,' and Alex Jones, the conspiracy enthusiast who runs the website Infowars, predicted that the antifa activists would lose such a war." The far rightist Laura Ingraham decided to pun on the term "right" and seemingly celebrate a comparison to Manson...

...which Trump later retweeted. These people can't resist a pun even if the logic is terrible. Your political movement being compared to the Manson family is not something one should be excited about.
According to The Daily Meal, a couple is planning to name their baby girl after the restaurant chain Olive Garden. You know, that place with the breadsticks. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the child) her name is not Pasta or Bread Sticks. Maybe file away those idea for your next dog. The girl, who is due to be born on December 6th, is going to be named Olivia Garton. The parents, Jordan and Justin Garton, are apparently very fond of Olive Garden. They've gone on many dates there and have even bought a Pasta Pass that allows unlimited pasta for a certain period of time. For the curious, Jordan likes the Ravioli di Portobello and Justin usually goes for the Braised Beef and Tortellini. As a tweet from Justin suggests, the couple did consider naming their baby Olive. Olivia Garton is close enough. It's like the normal person alias for the superhero Olive Garden, whose crime-fighting power is filling villains with so much pasta they pass into a food coma. No word yet on whether Olive Garden plans to sponsor Olivia Garton's life since she is a walking advertisement.
In today's episode of WHY CAN'T WE LEAVE MOMS ALONE, PLEASE?! I introduce you to Brittni Medina, a mother-of-two living in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Medina was recently at Disneyland with her family and was waiting in line, which is what you spend most of your time doing if you visit Disneyland (or World). When her 10-month-old son got hungry, she decided to feed him. Smart choice. But apparently several women at Disneyland weren't on board with her decision to breastfeed her child in a public place. Two of them shot her some seriously judgmental glances, which her husband captured in a photo. Medina then shared the photo in the Facebook group Breastfeeding Mama Talk, with a post defending her right to breastfeed in public. The post soon went viral. ICYMI, here's a pic of her and her haters...

Most people on Facebook are expressing their support for Medina, and calling for the normalization of breastfeeding. Her story also went viral over on Twitter, where she's getting loads of support. And she's being praised as a badass (ACCURATE).
After setting up the camera to capture the once-in-a-lifetime view of a building imploding, the perfect shot was ruined, and the guy's reaction was even more explosive.

"No, bus, get out the way! Bus! Jesus, get out of the way, bus! Are you... you... ARRGHHH. What the fuck... God damn it. Damn, lady!" The city of Atlanta were saying goodbye to the Georgia Dome, the old stadium and bus stop. After people watched the still livestream for forty minutes, the bus rolled up just in time to ruin the cool part. You know what they say: Man plans, bus laughs. Twitter promptly declared this clip the most Atlanta thing to ever Atlanta in Atlanta.
Blackfriars Priory School in Adelaide, Australia was forced to cover up their brand new statue of St. Martin de Porres. Take one wild guess as to why...

Yeah, if you have a dirty mind, you spotted that right away. The statue depicts the saint handing a small child a rather phallic loaf of bread, and the placement is unfortunate at best. God, please forgive me for this, but HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHA. How in hell was this ever approved!? According to The Huffington Post, the statue was made in Vietnam, but the Catholic school has hired local artist to redesign it. Until then, the statue remains hidden behind a black fence. Understandable. Either that Vietnamese artist was a blissfully unaware of what they were doing, or is they just trolled the Catholic church on an impressively high level.
So, I like to follow the rules in life but some people take it just a tad too far...

Disney, the greatest company to work for ever, once in a while likes to experiment with the look of their characters. I have no idea what they were thinking with this one...

That face is not a Disney character I think. So, you know the Rock, right? This is him now...

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

Ha! Parents, I hope  teacher doesn't send a note like this to you about your kid...

So, I was meant to Google "dog breeds" the other day and instead I Googled "dog bread" and this is what I found...

Haha. Some people are just the worse...

Hahaha. So, if I had a TARDIS I would go back in time to the 30s, but knowing my luck I'll end up seeing the last public execution in the U.S....

So, David Cassidy passed away, which you know I will remember in a minute. I don't know if you know this but the Partridge family met Batman in the comics...

Alright, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, Long Island, here is...

Top Phive Thoughts I Had While Watching Trump's Turkey Pardon
5. Trump just called Drumstick the turkey "beautiful."
4. My god please don't let this man hurt Drumstick the beautiful turkey.
3. Melania's coat looks like if you googled "basic Thanksgiving print" and made a coat out of it.
2. Trump described the place where Drumstick and his friend Wishbone are going to retire after the ceremony and it sounded way nicer than my apartment.
And the number one thought I had while watching Trump's turkey pardon was....
1. Of course the turkey is white.

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Alright, it's time to talk football with my good friend Jeff.

Me: Jeff, how're you doing? First of... can you believe you are on the same entry as "Weird Al"? I know you're a fan... what is your favorite "Weird Al" song?

Jeff: Always good to be back here on the Phile, especially if I am on the same one as one of my all time favorite musicians, Mr. "Weird Al" Yankovic. Favorite song? Damn, that's a tough one. I'm going to have to pick a classic and say "Eat It," followed by "White-N-Nerdy." Though we both can relate to "Skipper Dan" too. What about you? What's your favorite?

Me: "Skipper Dan" is great... maybe "EBay." So, Thanksgiving is tomorrow... what are your plans? I have to work... but it's my birthday and they are having a pot luck for me... and Thanksgiving. Haha. 

Jeff: I'm working a half day tomorrow, then my family is coming home for a Thanksgiving dinner and some football!

Me: Okay, let's talk about football. So, what do you think of Dak Prescott? His passer rating versus would've been higher of he threw every pass straight into the ground. Haha.

Jeff: It's amazing the difference a year makes. Prescott was one of the hottest QB's in his rookie year, and now he's... well he's not. Part of that is his fault. Part of it has to do with the suspension of Elliott and injuries to his offensive line.

Me: Did you hear Trump demanded Marshawn Lynch be suspended for the season for sitting during the anthem? What do you think of that?

Jeff: Yeah, I read Trump's tweets. I couldn't disagree more. I think Trump needs to worry more about running this country than he needs about Twitter and the actions of a few NFL players. I could certainly say more, but this isn't a political blog so I will refrain.

Me: They blew up the Georgia Dome, Jeff. Look!

Me: There's no bus blocking that pic.

Jeff: Yeah, I saw the Georgia Dome got blown up worse than the Bills secondary did.

Me: Twenty-five years gone up in smoke. Can you believe it? I've seen it but never been in it. Have you?

Jeff: I had never been there, but seen many sporting events on TV there including a Wrestlemania! 

Me: Okay, so, Disney has taken over another team...

Me: What do you think? 

Jeff: Iago certainly seems to be a popular go-to character for Disney logos.

Me: Okay, so, how did we do last week? You still kicking my ass?

Jeff: It's going to take more than one week to change if I'm kicking your ass or not! Last week we both went 1-1 with both our teams winning. I mean the Giants game was ugly but a win is a win regardless. So my points lead didn't change.

Me: Let's do this week's picks then, Jeff. I say your Steelers by 3 and Falcons by 6. By the way, it's nice the Giants are playing on my birthday. Wonder if they'll win.

Jeff: My picks for next week is Titans by 7 and Bengals by 3.

Me: Great job. I'll see you here next Thursday. Have a good Thanksgiving, Jeff. Be good.

Jeff: See you next week and Happy early birthday!

Ummm... I don't get it. Alright, so, a "friend" of the Phile recently wouldn’t let reporters ask questions until they said what they’re thankful for. She wanted to come onto the Phile and talk about that and I have no idea why. Please welcome back to the Phile I guess...

Me: Sarah, on Tuesday you turned the White House briefing room into a kindergarten classroom fit for the president by demanding that every journalist share what they're thankful for before asking a question. WTF?

Sarah: Jason, Senator Bob Corker called the White House an "adult day care center."

Me: Well, it increasingly seems like he was right. I, for one, am thankful that you weren't in the room to see my eyes roll to the back of my head.

Sarah: Jason, the result was having every journalist state that they love their families before asking me about Kellyanne Conway's subtle endorsement of alleged pedophile Roy Moore.

Me: Yeah, the briefing quickly got the vibe of a manners lesson, with you even calling people out if they didn't "follow the rule" and announce what they're thankful for first.

Sarah: I know. It was like Melissa McCarthy's Sean Spicer with the "dollies," but real. Reporters are babies and should be treated as such.

Me: Hmmm... ABC News's Cecilia Vega responded with the right answer, which April Ryan cosigned. If this was indeed a kids' classroom, Vega would get a gold star. And these kids outside the classroom get participation points. May your own Thanksgiving dinner be filled with all of this corniness, but none of the lies! Thanks for coming on here, Sarah. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sarah: You too. Happy birthday, you handsome man.

Me: What the hell? She's crazy!

Phact 1: Up until 1933 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons were released into the air at the conclusion of the parade and would stay airborne above the city for as long as a week. A return address was stitched in and people who returned them received $100 reward.

Phact 2: Canadian Thanksgiving predates American Thanksgiving by 43 years.

Phact 3: It is against the law for supermarkets, department stores, and other big box stores in Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts to be open on Thanksgiving.

Phact 4: Native Americans have been holding a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving since 1970.

Phact 5: Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a National Holiday in 1863 during the Civil War to keep the country together.

Today, the day before Thanksgiving, Trump's pointing around the grand table that is America and asking LaVar Ball to say what he's thankful for, but with a twist. He's telling LaVar what he should be thankful for, and it's him. He should be thankful for Donald Trump. This must be a Thanksgiving tradition around the Trump family table. Earlier in the week, the brash father of Los Angeles Laker Lonzo Ball and two other NBA-bound sons, Liangelo and LeMelo Ball, refuted Trump's claim that it was the president himself who secured Liangelo's release from the Chinese legal system. Ball's middle son, Liangelo, was arrested for shoplifting during a UCLA team trip abroad. "If I was going to thank somebody I'd probably thank President Xi," said the elder Ball on Monday, shamelessly seeking the limelight as he always does. As far as we know, Chinese President Xi is the only one who's actually handling this situation like a normal human being. Yesterday morning, Trump took the bait, if you can call a welcome distraction against all his political misfortune "bait," and slammed Ball on Twitter. Trump mustered more than a 'Lil' for a nickname.

Are you thinking? Get ready for "Ungrateful Fool LaVar Ball" to catch on.

There's that holiday spirit! It seems like if you're in a Chinese prison the visiting situation might not be that generous. Also worth noting is that LaVar Ball himself was certainly never going to get an NBA contract, despite the fact that he's gone on the record saying he's better than Michael Jordan. See, these are the same two guys. At the very least, we can all be thankful that on an otherwise slow news day before the Thanksgiving break, our current President Trump and our future President Ball gave us something to gawk at that wasn't the horrific sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore. We're all very convinced that's just a coincidence.

The 70th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

Kevin will be the guest on the Phile on Monday.

David Cassidy 
April 12th, 1950 — November 21st, 2017
THAT’S what he was so afraid of.

Della Reese 
July 6th, 1931 — November 20th, 2017
Touching an angel.

Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry sauce is the worst thing to happen to Thanksgiving since your dad found out about Obamacare.

Ack! This is soooo cool. Today's pheatured guest is an American singer, songwriter, parodist, record producer, satirist, actor, voice actor, music video director, film producer, and more. His new box set "Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of 'Weird Al' Yankovic" comes out in 2 days. Please welcome to the Phile the one and only... "Weird Al" Yankovic!

Me: Hello, Al, I am so excited to have you here for my birthday. How are you? Should I call you Weird, Weird Al or just Al?

Al: Happy birthday, Jason! You can call me Al. How are you?

Me: I'm good. I wanted to interview you for so long. As you know I have interviewed your drum Bermuda Schwartz a few times and have been wanting to interview you for a while. This is a big thrill for me. Alright, so did you set out to write comedic parody songs or did you start off wanting to write more serious songs? 

Al: I probably had a brief few weeks where I was maybe 13 or 14-years-old I thought, "hmmm, lets see if I can write some serious music," and I tried to write some very deep profound poetry and set it to music and it was just horrible. I realized very early on that my brain doesn't work that way. I've got a sick and twisted mind and everything I write seriously ends up being distorted and bizarre. I thought I should just go with my muse and just write demented material.

Me: Was any of the first songs you wrote fashioned after any particular musician or band or did you know then you had a kinda voice of your own?

Al: Hahaha. The horrible original stuff I was doing back then wasn't fashioned after anybody. I found I couldn't force myself to write serious poetry, I tried to solicited my friends to write for me. It was kinda a Bernie Taupin/Elton John arrangement where I wrote the lyrics and they wrote the music. Even so it wasn't very good and I realized this is not creatively working out for me.

Me: When you started writing songs did you use the accordion then or did you use the guitar and piano?

Al: Well, I was pretty limited being the accordion was the only thing I knew how to play. I took accordion lessons from ages 7 to 10 and the accordion has always been my main axe, and is what I write on. I play other keyboard instruments as well but feel more comfortable with an accordion. I probably should have at some point in my life but I've never learn how to play the guitar so anytime you see me playing a guitar in a music video it's probably a prop.

Me: So, three years ago I interviewed Dr. Demento who kinda got you your start. Do you think you playing the accordion and not another instrument helped you as well?

Al: Well, in a way it did because it really got me noticed. Dr. Demento played a lot of bizarre novelty music like Frank Zappa, Stan Freberg, Tom Lehrer, Allan Sherman, Spike Jones... just very odd random funny music, that's what expired me to do what I do. I'd send him tapes in the mail that I recorded in my bedroom with a cassette tape recorder. I was told that the only reason he played some of my early material was because I was playing the accordion because my material certainly wasn't very good, it was juvenile and not that clever but he thought there was something novel about a teenage kid playing the accordion he'd want to play it on the radio. I have to think if I was playing the piano, or a guitar or a more conventional instrument I'd probably wouldn't have broken from the pack and got his attention.

Me: I'm such a huge fan of your song parodies, Al. How do you go about writing a parody?

Al: First of, thank you. There's a lot of attention to detail. When I first started out I wasn't quite methodical about it. I would come up with a funny idea and come up with lyrics in 20 minutes and send them to the Dr. Demento show. But now that people really care about what I do, if these songs are gonna live with me for the rest of my life, I do spent a lot of time with it and although they are ridiculous funny songs that doesn't mean they are just hashed out. I will spend weeks, or sometimes months, just working on one song. In terms of the parodies I try to match the meter exactly (I chart it out), I try to match syllable to syllable to make sure it flows correctly. I tried to make it feel natural as well as familiar so it's a bit f a puzzle and game to try to work on humor and still try to be true to the original composition.

Me: How do you go about to pick the songs to parody?

Al: Well, popularity and catchiness. Obviously I try to find songs that are well known and people will be familiar with, and something with a very identifiable musical hook to it. Something that jumps out and makes it distinct. Often it boils down to me finding a song that I can find a clever idea for. I try to narrow it down to songs that I think are good candidates for parody and then I find variations on a theme... different directions I could go, different ways I could make it funny. I could come up with ideas, I just can't always come up with good ideas. That's really what it boils down to... I have to find a clever idea and turn it into a three minute parody song.

Me: You have an amazing band backing you, Al. Do you use them in the writing process or do you do the writing alone?

Al: It's something I do on my own. Obviously they are amazing musicians and they all add their tones to the recorded work, not to the extent that it would be considered songwriting. I'd present them with the demos and the lyrics are already done, and I'd like to say I don't write out guitar solos but I try to have the band add their own musical flair to it but to doesn't involve the actual songwriting.

Me: As well as the parodies, you do some originals that cover the style of an artist... a really great example is "Pancreas," which is a funny homage to "Pet Sounds," "Smile," or any Beach Boys song. How did you come up with that song, Al? It's one of my favorites.

Al: Thank you. I love to do songs like "Pancreas," and simulate the style of a particular artist or group, but making the song a little more twisted. That's a lot harder then making a straight original song because I have to study an artists body of work and be familiar with the whole aura and dissect it and try to find out what are the little quirks and idiosyncrasies that make that artist who or they are and play around with it. So, that take a lot of note taking and immersing myself in that artists body of work. It's a challenge and another puzzle but that's one of my favorite things to do as well.

Me: Al, did you study music theory at all? You have recorded so many genres, it's amazing.

Al: Not as such, no. I mean the only formal musical training I had was three years accordion lessons, so basically my only training I had, if you want to call it that, is listening to pop music on the radio and just trying to pull things apart. Same thing with my band, they've been picking apart recordings for 30 years and I think they learnt a lot on the job, what makes a pop song work.

Me: I have to mention the song "Trapped At the Drive-Thru." When I first heard that song I thought, shit, is this song gonna ever end? Was it hard to write that song?

Al: Well, the challenge of that song is where do you go from R. Kelly's "Trapped in a Closet" that's already as ridiculous and over the top to begin with. How do you make that song more bigger, more funny or more crazy? It's hard to do. I figured the way I could go is the other direction and make the story as banal and boring as possible. Basically have an 11 minute epic that is melodramatic but nothing really happens. So I didn't know people would react to it but they seem to enjoy that particular one.

Me: I once drove from my apartment complex's parking lot to work's parking lot and the song was still playing. Hahaha. The production on your music is so bloody authentic, Al. When you listen to a song for the first time do you pay attention to the sound?

Al: Yeah, it's part of what I do. We try to emulate the sounds as close as possible. When I first started out I didn't pay much attention. The gag was I was playing an accordion over some pop song... it wasn't meant to sound so much like the original. From the third album on we really took pain to match exactly where you heard my parody on the radio for the first time you are not exactly sure if you're listening to the original or to me. Again it helps to have a top notch band. Everybody I have been working with knows the drill and knows I have been working on making the song exactly. My guitar player would contact the original artist or the original producer see what kinda pick-ups he used on a guitar and what amps did they use. We really try to match everything as closely as possible.

Me: Wow! What about your original songs? Do you start off with a concept and continue from there?

Al: What I've been doing is I keep some methodical notes and I have a lot of lists. I have a list of song topics that I think would be fun to write about and I also have a list of musical styles. Sometimes I like to put the two lists side by side and draw a line from one thing to another and try to come up with some really random matchings and pair ups. That's how I came up with the idea of "Craig's List," for example. I thought it would be fun to write a song about Craig's List and I always wanted to write a song about the Doors. I thought is it wrong to do a song about Craig's List with the sound of the Doors? It sounds very stupid and I thought well, that's funny to me, I don't know if it's gonna be funny to anybody else but I think it's amusing.

Me: Okay, so, I work at Disney World... by the way, I saw you at Epcot once backstage. Anyway, when I heard "Skipper Dan" I cracked up, as I know sooooo many people that worked at the Great Movie Ride or the Jungle Cruise that can relate to that song. That song HAS to have a story, am I right?

Al: I remember seeing you at Epcot. Hahahaha. That song is my most bittersweet and poignant I've written. That song depressed a lot of people, especially people trying to be actors. That was actually inspired by a real life occurrence. I was at Disneyland with my family and we went on the Jungle Cruise ride and the skipper, whose name I don't think was actually Dan, but he made an off hand reference to his failed acting career. That was a joke but I thought there's a whole back story there. There's a whole song, so I made a little note to write a song about this guys failed acting career.

Me: Are there any songs that you recorded, Al, that you don't play live in concert as it's too hard or complex?

Al: Yes, I have to say "Hardware Store." I like doing a list song and case in point I'm losing everything you find in a hardware store. I have to say that's one of the few hits of mine that I haven't attempted to do live because I'll probably pass out on stage if I had to do that. Thank god for studio magic I could at least make it work in the studio.

Me: Yeah, by time you'd get to matching salt and pepper shakers you'd probably need an oxygen tank. Haha. When you write a song like "The Night Santa Went Crazy" do you write out the storyline first before you actually write the song?

Al: I get a basic concept in mind and see where the story takes me. I had a couple alternate endings on that one because the original lyric had Santa getting shot in the head and I showed that to some of my friends and they said I can't kill Santa and I got talked out of it. The version I put on the album he just gets sent to prison for 700 years. Afterwards I thought people really know how dark I am, I need to have the original version out there, so I released the gory version as a B-side to one of my singles. 

Me: But it's okay to barbecue the reindeer though. Haha. Do you have people you test your songs out on to find put if they are funny or not? Or is it an instinct thing for you?

Al: Well, personally I rely on what I think is funny but what I think about comedy and humor it's good to not work in a vacuum because humor is objective so if I finish writing a set of lyrics I will hand them off to who happens to be next to me and usually it's my wife and kinda get her take on it and usually it's, "Yeah, that's good." I don't get really a lot if insightful feedback but I get some positive reinforcement.

Me: You did so many different things from children's books to albums, movies, TV... do you find it hard to switch off from your creativity?

Al: Do you mean unplug?

Me: Yeah.

Al: Not so much. I mean I'm very good at not working too. Right now I'm on vacation with my family and I feel good at the moment. When I'm not working it's very easy for me to unplug.

Me: Do you think there's any reasons for your long career, Al? I mean a lot of comedy song genre is a hard genre to be in.

Al: Yeah, absolutely, that's been the irony of my career. No one would sign me to a record deal when I came out as they were like "Oh, comedy, novelty, you're gonna be a one hit wonder, you'll be done in six months, we'll never hear from you again. You'll be a footnote." Then apparently I've lasted a lot longer then most people that did parodies over the years. I don't know what to attribute it to... if it's pure tenacity, I refuse to go away. I do what I love, I have a passion about it. I work with some very, very talented people, I've worked with the same guys in my band for three decades... Most of all it's just luck, I don't know what it contributes to ultimately other than I've been blessed so far and I get to do what I want to do for a living.

Me: Well, I'm glad you are, sir. Wanna mention anything that you are doing?

Al: Yeah, on November 24th the box set "Squeeze Box: The Complete Works of 'Weird Al' Yankovic" comes out with all my albums plus a new one called "Medium Rarities." My second "Weird" Al action figure in the NECA Toys line is out now, and I'm the voice of Milo Murphy on Disney XD's "Milo Murphy's Law."

Me: Al, thanks so, so much for being on the Phile, sir. I can't thank you enough.

Al: It was my pleasure. Thank you so much. Keep up the good work, Jason.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Jeff Trelewicz and of course "Weird Al." The Phile will be back on Sunday with Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. Have a good Thanksgiving.

I'm bone weary, I'm bone tired, the wood stove's last spark just expired, dawn's about one hour away and it's almost Thanksgiving Day. - Graham Parker.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pheaturing Phile Alum Chris Nelson

Hey there, welcome to the Phile for a Monday, kids. How are you? So, Kellyanne Conway was determined to defend Donald Trump's tax plan with her friends at "Fox & Friends" today, but the friends weren't being super friendly. The hosts wanted to know if Kellyanne Conway would endorse Roy Moore, the Alabama candidate for Senate facing up to nine allegations of sexual assault, and she... pretty much did. "Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don't be fooled," said Conway, with a smile on her face as she tried to keep the focus on Moore's Democratic opponent. "He will be a vote against tax cuts. He will be weak on crime. Weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners..." "So, vote Roy Moore?" asked Brian Kilmead. "Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal, which is why he is not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him." "So, vote Roy Moore?" he asked again. "I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through." With friends like these, who needs state owned television? (Conway does, probably.) By the way, Conway said this about Moore just last week, "Whatever the facts end up being, the premises, of course, the principle, the incontrovertible principle, is that there is no Senate seat worth more than a child. And we all want to put that forward." Oh, how the mighty have changed their minds for taxes.
Former model Keri Claussen Khalighi says she was just 17-years-old when the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons sexually assaulted her while the film producer Brett Ratner watched, "The Los Angeles Times" reports. According to Khalighi, the casting couch scenario turned south when she accompanied the two men to Simmons' New York home to view a music video they'd been working on. Soon after their arrival, Simmons allegedly began removing Khalighi's clothes against her will, and when she turned to Ratner for help he declined and watched the assault play out. “I looked over at Brett and said ‘help me’ and I'll never forget the look on his face. In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together," Khalighi told "The Los Angeles Times." Allegedly Simmons then tried to force her to have intercourse, and after she fought back, he coerced her into performing intercourse. Following the initial assault, Khalighi said she felt so violated she went up stairs to take a shower. At this point, Simmons allegedly followed her and raped her. Following the allegation, both Simmons and Ratner have vehemently denied the sexual assault. In a statement, 60-year-old Simmons (who would have been 34 at the time), claimed "everything that occurred between Keri and me occurred with her full consent and participation." Ratner, who himself has been accused by six women of sexual harassments and misconduct, also claimed to have no recollection of the incident in 1991. "They are publicly denying these allegations, which implies that the women who come forward are liars,” said Khalighi, following the denial from both men. “So I'm coming out because what I've experienced privately is not matching what they are saying publicly and hypocrisy to me is repugnant and it's time for the truth to come out.” This bombshell report is just one of the many reports of sexual assault in Hollywood reported following the Harvey Weinstein allegations.
A woman named Penny Knutson from Green Bay, Wisconsin, recently posted to Facebook a hilariously graphic photo taken by her daughter at Shopko, a Wisconsin retail chain. The photo, which shows a giant teddy bear orgy in broad daylight, seemingly unnoticed by department store staff, went viral. And that makes sense, because after you see it, you want to scream and then email it to everyone you know. The photo you are about to see is extremely NSFW. So underage humans and bears, please avert your eyes.

"My daughter took this pic at Shopko. Wow," Knutson wrote. "How does this go unnoticed by staff?" That IS a good question. Also: who did this?!?!?!? Because it looks like someone spent a significant amount of time organizing this situation. Almost as if they posed the bears with great precision, love and care. The photo was spotted on Facebook by Huffington Post editor Philip Lewis who shared it to Twitter. So we can expect memes to happen any day now. Speaking of memes, do these bears look familiar to you???? Because I'm 99% sure I recognize them from everywhere on the Internet over the past few weeks. I told the story about them yesterday. These horny Shopko bears sure look a lot like that 6'5" tall teddy bear with disproportionately long legs that went viral last week, after a number of horrified consumers left hilariously brutal Amazon reviews. These disgruntled shoppers who spent $129.99 on the toy would probably be especially horrified to learn that these giant bears not only have disproportionately long legs, but also disproportionately high libidos and a love of exhibitionism.
The U.S. Navy has apologized for the actions of one rogue pilot who on Thursday drew a giant penis in the sky with his plane over Washington.

Well, would you look at that! I knew that wasn't just a weird cloud (I saw one that looked like a dog, once). The pilot responsible for the big peen is from the Whidbey Island naval station, according to TMZ. They report that the pilot's superiors said, "We find this absolutely unacceptable, of zero training value and we are holding the crew accountable." There might have been some training value in it... those do look like some pretty sweet balls; that's gotta be a tricky maneuver. But it was still a dick move. Hahaha.
Cult leader and serial killer Charles Manson died yesterday, which makes this day a holiday if you ask some. It's almost as celebratory as the day after Harry Potter stopped Voldemort as a baby. What a joyous day that was. Manson and his cult the Manson Family are most famous for murdering the pregnant actress Sharon Tate, along with four other people, in 1969. Because the world works in funny (read: terrible) ways, Sharon Tate died at 26 and Charles Manson lived to the age of 83. Manson was convicted of nine murders and imprisoned in 1971. His cause of death was natural causes... and not Mephistopheles dragging him to hell... according to the "New York Times." It seems that a decent number of people wishing that Manson RIP are confusing him with the living musician Marilyn Manson. Guys. Guys. We don't like Charles Manson, okay? He's the murderer. No good. And very dead compared to Marilyn Manson.
So, once in a while I have been known to misread a situation. But at least I'm not as bad as this person...

I've never been arrested but if I ever do I hope I'm not wearing this t-shirt...

She looks so fucking miserable, right? There's a new Pokémon movie that's out. I think I wanna see this one...

Yep. Def wanna see it. So, parents, I hope your kid doesn't bring  a note home from school like this one...

Hanzo Main? I don't know what that is either. So, this whole sexual allegations thing is getting outta hand. Apparently it's happening in the U.K. as well.

Points if you know who those two are. If I had a TARDIS I would go back to the 50s and try to meet Elvis Presley. But knowing my luck I'll end up meeting him like this...

I don't wanna go to Germany. By the way, my dad always said Elvis "died" in the army. So, at the con yesterday I saw a brand new Star Wars action figure I thought was kinda sad...

Poor Jyn. You know... some people are just the worst...

Who would do such a bloody thing?

Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, so, not long ago I had a magician who came on the Phile and was very upset and wanted to tell me what happened. Well, he wanted to come back and talk about something else. So, I said why not... please welcome back to the Phile...

Me: Hello, David, welcome back. So, what did you wanna talk about now?

David: I'm so upset. I was doing a show on Saturday and I asked for a volunteer...

Me: And?

David: Well, aside from the classic zero response to the ask for volunteers I didn't get any.

Me: Oh. So, what did you do?

David: I finally got an audience member  on stage but she got scared and frustrated and threw the cloth I had had her hold at me and run away.

Me: Well, you made her disappear. Good job, David. Is that it?

David: Yes, that is it.

Me: Okay, that was a waste of time. David Coppafeel, the world's worst magician everybody.

Somethings on the Phile are just not funny. It's 11:44 am, 71° and Kelly's gown looks more suited for the Kennedy Center Honors than the AMA's last night...

But she still looked good. Now for a pheature simply called...

Phact 1: Nirvana played a concert in Beunos Aires where the crowd threw mud and trash at the all-girl opening act. Kurt Cobain was so upset that he sabotaged the show by playing mostly lesser known songs and teasing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" without ever playing it.

Phact 2: When Thomas Edison was confined to a wheelchair in the last years of his life, his friend Henry Ford bought one too, so that they could have wheelchair races.

Phact 3: Shavarsh Karapetyan, a retired Professional Swimmer, saved 20 people that got trapped in frigid, sewage infested waters. His career as a professional swimmer ended after this heroic act due to 2 sided pneumonia and blood contamination that put him in a coma. Now he sells shoes for a living.

Phact 4: During the California Gold Rush a Chinese laundry man named John-John washed enough gold dust out of pants cuffs and shirttails of miners to set himself up for life.

Phact 5: Paul McCartney dreamed the melody of “Yesterday” one night and immediately wrote the music the next morning. He then looked around for a month to find out whether he subconsciously plagiarized it from someone else.

The 70th book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...

The great Kevin Godley will be the first on the Phile a week from today.

Mel Tillis 
August 8th, 1932 — November 19th, 2017
M-M-M-M-Mel's D-D-D-D-D-Dead.

Charles Manson 
November 12th, 1934 — November 19th, 2017
Stick a fork in him.

Today's pheatured guest is a talented musician and friend whose latest CD "Story of a Young Couple" is available on Bandcamp. Please welcome back to the Phile... Chris Nelson.

Me: Hey, Chris, welcome back to the Phile. How are you doing, sir?

Chris: Quite well, thanks! It's always great to be here.

Me: So, you were living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania last time we chatted... are you still living there?

Chris: Actually, it's Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Approximately 30 miles east of Harrisburg.

Me: Ahh... You have lived in Pennsylvania all your life, am I right? What's your favorite thing about living there?

Chris: I grew up in northeast Pennsylvania near a town called Towanda. It was really remote. I lived there until I joined the U.S. Air Force, then I was all over the place. When I left the military, I settled down in this area with my family. My wife is from Pine Grove, which is only about 20 miles north of here. I would have to say that it's my home and I'm familiar with the area. It is the first place that I've been able to put down any roots for a very long time. We have all the seasons, and although it gets cold in winter, there's a certain comfort to the changing seasons. Where we live, we are close to several cities offering shopping and activities, but it still rural enough to be comfortable.

Me: I am glad you are making music still... I thought you quit at one time. Did you quit or just take a break?

Chris: Ha! No, I have been working on this last project during the last four years! I didn't know how big this project was until it was all finished. I'd never attempted anything like this before. In fact, there were a few times when I thought it would never get finished. I kept thinking about the Who's "Lifehouse" project and the Beach Boys' "Smile" album. I worked so hard on this that I think I burned myself out.

Me: Well, like I said I'm glad you are back. I love the new album "Story of a Young Couple." It's described as a novel with music, am I right?

Chris: Yes. It's a blend of literary fiction and music. It has two pieces to it; one of them being a full album of new music and a booklet giving you a deeper understanding of the story and the lyrics to the songs. It tells the story of a family who's kids are almost grown and everyone is getting ready to go their own way. I think of it as a series of emotional photographs. There are a lot of different emotions that everyone experiences such as the parents have difficulty relating to each other, since they always had the kids in the past; the kids all have their own ideas about how their life will turn out. The mother and father are forced to re-acquaint themselves with each other now that the kids are no longer constantly between them. There is a point where they start to think the other one is holding him or her back, but it's only their frustration with change that caused the argument in the first place. There is a recurring theme of disagreement with the choices the kids are making. The father disagrees, but mother believes that they're all good people and will make the right decisions in the end. The oldest child is convinced she's going to be an entertainer, but has no clue how to get to her goal. The middle daughter, who is doing well in school is praised for her achievements only to berate her father about putting too much pressure on her to succeed. The youngest child believes that work is for suckers and crime is the best career path. Obviously, the father has something to say about that. The kids are all convicted that the father doesn't know what he's talking about when he tries to give them advice about the way things are. At one point, all the kids gang up on him, telling him they no longer need him. This, in turn, sends him into an emotional nose dive where he begins to question everything about his life and where he's going. All during this time, the mother still insists that the kids are going to be all right, even if they make a few mistakes when they're starting out. It's only his love for his wife that keeps him together, as you find out in Chapter 13. There's a part at the climax in Chapter 17, where after the oldest kid leaves the house, she's declaring her independence, then after she gets it, she realizes that leaving home wasn't going to be as easy as she thought it would. She still needed to know that her parents would be there when she needed them.

Me: Was that your plan going into the album... writing an album that tells one story?

Chris: Sort of...I had written a song called "Story of A Young Couple" which was basically a musical autobiography of me and my wife. One day, the story idea came to me and I began writing some other "chapters" that filled out the story. Later on, I decided that this would be more than a concept album; I was actually interested in breaking some new ground. That's when I decided there should be a book that goes with the music.

Me: Who are the characters on the album, Chris? Are they based on real people?

Chris: As the introduction says, these people could be anybody. I chose to keep them faceless and nameless to let the listener/reader be able to more fully identify with the characters. While they do have individual characteristics, I thought that listeners would be able to fill out these shells with people from their own life, giving them a much more personal listening and reading experience. I did borrow a few things from my own experiences both as a parent and as a child. Other things were from listening to other people and their experience with their children and parents. There are also things in there I picked up from either television shows, movies, or books I read.

Me: The album has seventeen chapters, or songs as it were, was that the number you planned? Altogether there's 18 as there's a prologue.

Chris: The prologue introduces you to the story, sort of a "once upon a time" introduction catching you up to where the story actually begins. Ironically enough, this was the kernel that led to the rest of the project, so I thought it would be fitting to use that as an introduction. I approached the length of this the way I would approach writing a novel. The length is as long as it takes to tell the story. I didn't know how many songs it would take to fill the album, I just know one I had covered all the topics I wanted, that I would be finished with it.

Me: In the 90s Squeeze did something similar with the album "Play" which was a play. I can easily see this album put on an a musical... or play. Did you ever think of that?

Chris: Absolutely! I would love to see this as a musical, although I don't know a thing about how make that happen. If any of you reading this know how and would like to help me, please contact me through this blog, I'd be interested in your ideas. I will have to find that Squeeze album. They're a favorite of mine.

Me: How long did the album take to write altogether, Chris?

Chris: Well, it felt like forever. I want to say approximately two years... that's just writing the songs. I started writing this when I was still working on the "Once in a Blue Mood" album. I would take turns between writing the songs for this and finishing the recordings for the "Blue Mood" album. It was a little intense. I thought I had the thing finished about three years ago, but when I went back to it, I'd forgotten some of the songs and some of the melodies, so I had to start all over again, writing about four or five more songs. Then, when I was getting ready to record, I found that I had used the same melody for two different songs on the project, so I had to go back and fix that. There were also a few outtakes, that is, songs which didn't contribute as much to the story as I thought they would have. From start to finish, I worked on it for about four years, but that was just with the recording. The book portion took about two days from start to finish. I actually felt the momentum to continue working on it when everything was finally done.

Me: So, you have a family of your own... what do they think of it, or your music in general?

Chris: They like some of my songs, but I don't play a lot of my recordings at home unless I'm working on them. If they hear my music, it's probably when I'm playing live during a practice session. I know that they like "The Invisible Man" and "Circles" gets stuck in people's heads. My wife has asked me make CD versions of all my albums for a permanent record. I think of it as leaving a memento of me for when I am no longer in the world. That's still a long way away, however, but I'm thinking ahead a little there.

Me: I know you have a daughter... do you have any other kids? Are they into playing music, Chris?

Chris: I have two daughters and a son. Both of my daughters sang backup for me on a track from my last album. My son is a good drummer, but he lost interest as he got older. He tried playing guitar for a while, but I don't think that it spoke to him. He also is a very good freestyle rapper. My younger daughter has expressed an interest in piano, but until recently, she's been focusing on other things. She's a great singer and I think she has some ideas for songs she'd like to write.

Me: So, when you write do you write with an acoustic guitar? Did you make a bunch of demos first?

Chris: Mostly I write music with an acoustic guitar, however I have written songs using a bass guitar and one song I composed entirely in my head before I was able to play it on anything. If the songs has a heavier sound, I'll use an electric guitar so I can get the feel for the song. For this project, I wrote two songs on the piano. To me, that's an accomplishment, considering I can't play the piano very well. My usual method is to get a tune idea, play it on the guitar, then come up with words for it after I've played the tune a few times. In some cases, a phrase or a word will stick out and everything just wraps around it. That was the case with Chapters 2, 7 and 13. That also was the case with some of the songs on the "Blue Mood" album, too.

Me: You play all the instruments on the album which is great... what instrument was the hardest for you to play, Chris?

Chris: The piano. That is one tough instrument. I think of that as 44 unrelenting keys... scary! I won't say that I play the piano, rather, I elicit piano-like sounds from the instrument. It all sounds good in the recording, but I don't think it would go all that well in a live environment. However, when I was a kid, I had taken trumpet lessons at school and that didn't go really well either.

Me: What is your favorite instrument altogether?

Chris: It's a tie between drums and guitar. I started my musical life as a drummer, so I will always have a soft spot for that instrument. I also love playing guitar, especially in a band. There's a feeling I get that I can't really describe during a live performance. It brings me back to the guitar every time. I'd really like to play in another band, but I don't want to play covers of the same material I played in high school! There really aren't a lot of venues here that support original music and I don't want to have to drive to Philadelphia all the time just to find an receptive audience.

Me: Was this a fun album to record, Chris?

Chris: I think its fun to record, bringing something from the imaginary into the physical world. This project was different from others in that it is actually one large piece and everything has to fit together, so there was no margin for error. That put a lot more pressure on me to succeed. I also felt that I was way out of my comfort zone, so that also contributed to the pressure. A lot of the songs on my last album were well-received by a lot of folks, so although I wanted to do something new, I was afraid I'd drive away some of the newer fans. I was working in some styles that I had never worked with before, like Chapter 4, which has a gospel-like feel to it, or Chapter 16, which is traditional rhythm and blues. I went out on a limb and then climbed off the branch, altogether! There were also a lot of setbacks during these sessions. My 8 track recorder broke and I had to figure about a new way to record the live drums. I wound up getting some new equipment and re-learning how to multitrack record on the computer! That was rough. The last thing you want to do during a recording session is learn how to use new equipment and software! I began to feel better once I was in the mixdown and mastering phase. That's when I had time to listen to the whole project and what I'd intended to do. I made a point to listen to the album while I was reading the book to get the same experience that I would expect other listeners to have. I felt positive about was I was doing at that point. I'm reluctant to use the "A" word here, but I think this is a work of art more than it is a rock album.

Me: Being a novel or some sort, would you ever write a real novel? I bet it'll be good.

Chris: I have written several science fiction novels and a bunch of short stories, some of which had been published at one time or another throughout the 1990s. I also have another novel that I started three years ago and I hope to finish sometime this year. Here is another place where I stepped out of my comfort zone. I have never written any literary fiction and didn't really desire to do so until this project. I thought that music would be a great way to explore this story. Since it is an emotional story, music is a great way to convey those emotions within the confines of the story. I used different musical styles to illustrate who was saying what as well as how they were saying it. After I began working on this, that's when I thought a book would heighten the listener's experience. This is a story that isn't told very often and I thought this would be a unique way to do it.

Me: So, in the past we talked about working on a project together... can't remember if we talked about that on the Phile or off-line. Anyway, if you still wanna do that I have a "band" name... and no, it's not Strawberry Blondes Forever. It's... are you ready? This will be great. Moisture Rocket! It could either be Chris Nelson and the Moisture Rockets. What do you think? I love it myself. Hahahaha.

Chris: Ha ha! Moisture Rocket it is, then! I have the other two sets of lyrics and I'll begin working on them soon. I also have a few more musical ideas that I will record and send you. Since I put many things off to get this album completed, I have to catch up on everything that I had put off. I also think I have an idea for a graphic to use for the project.

Me: Cool. So, do you have any other projects you are working on? Have you been playing live?

Chris: I haven't played live for about five years, now. I got tired of playing to people who were only marginally aware that I was actually in the room and not on a radio somewhere. I am, however, working on putting together a live show with another local musician here named Jayme Jack, but scheduling is a little challenging. He's the former lead singer for Melancholics, an indie band out of Las Vegas. I'm also working on recording some of his songs, too. He's planning to record a solo album. I am also looking into the ability of performing a live show on the Internet for some of my fans that are not close by. I think they'd appreciate that. Right now, it's the availability and capability of my equipment that I have to check into first. I'll announce something on social media once I get all the details worked out. I'm also working with an Australian country music singer named J. Crew. I'm recording a backing track of one of his songs, so it will be countrified alternative when it's done. I heard his acoustic version and I asked him about doing a full studio version of the song. I am about ready to begin recording another one of Jack Trudel's songs, too. Jack is a songwriter out in southern California that writes songs and asks others to perform or record them. I have been recording his songs for about ten years now. I also have plans to release more of my own material. I am planning on doing a mostly-instrumental album in the style of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" album next. I'm going to take my time and relax a little, first.

Me: So, I have to ask who did the artwork for the album? It's cute.

Chris: I was looking for simple, childlike drawings to use for the cover. I searched the clip art section of MS Publisher to find what I needed and rearranged some of the items and combined others using Adobe Photoshop. I added the text and laid out the book in MS Publisher.

Me: Thanks, Chris, for being back on the Phile... it's been too long. Mention your website and anything else and I wish you continued success. Keep making music and come back on the Phile soon. Remember... Moisture Rocket. Hahaha.

Chris: I have no plans to retire anytime soon. I think I have at least two more albums in me and I'd like to do some more collaborative work with other musicians. I'd also like to produce some other local artists' projects, too. There are a few people I have been pestering to make solo albums and I would love to be a part of their projects. I have learned a lot since I've been recording my own material and I am ready to share that knowledge and experience with others. Here are the links: My web site:, Facebook:

Me: Fantastic! I'll have you back on the Phile again soon. Take care, and have a good Thanksgiving.

That about does to for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Chris Nelson for a great interview. The Phile will be back on Wednesday with "Weird Al" Yankovic! I'm so fucking excited! Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker