Monday, April 30, 2012

Pheaturing Lila Rose

Hello, welcome back to the Phile for a Monday, the last entry in April. How are you?  I don't think I mentioned this yet, but after winning five primaries the other day, Mitt Romney has his new campaign slogan. "Well, I guess you're stuck with me." Romney proves with a little hard work and a little luck, even a multimillionaire white guy from Harvard can succeed in this country. Romney gets a lot of criticism because he's kind of stiff. He's sort of aloof. But on the bright side, Mitt Romney is an inspiration to kids all over this country who sadly were born without a personality.  Time magazine is reporting that Lebanon's most wanted Sunni terrorist has blown himself up in Syria. Wow, a lot of these guys have a short fuse.  Not one person was murdered in El Salvador last Saturday in what was the first homicide-free day in nearly three years. The bad news: 50 people got killed during the celebration.  In the wake of the Colombian prostitution scandal, another Secret Service agent has been removed from his position at the White House and demoted to protecting the animatronic presidents at Disney World. You know Metta World Peace, that guy on the Lakers. Well, he has been suspended for seven games after he violently elbowed another player in the head... which explains his new name, Metta Real Housewife.  A new poll found that Michelle Obama has a much higher approval rating than Barack Obama. Which explains Barack’s new slogan, "Vote for Michelle Obama’s Husband.”  While discussing the U.S. policy on Iran, Joe Biden said that President Obama, quote, "has a big stick." In related news, Joe Biden is now banned from the White House steam room.  There’s talk that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will star in a new movie together called The Counselor. The script's really good. In fact, their kids gave it 200 thumbs up.  A new study found that being a vegetarian actually improves your mood... while talking about being a vegetarian just ruins everyone else’s mood.  Alright, as I mentioned in the last few entries there's a new channel called DogTV that is made pretty much just for dogs. The Phile was lucky to get a copy of another great promo poster of a new TV show on DogTV.

The space shuttle Enterprise went to New York City the other day. It looked really cool when it arrived, let me show you.

It looks a little different then I remember. Actually, while the Enterprise was in New York, it hung out with a good friend of his.

So, next week one of the number one movies I am dying to see this year, The Avengers is coming out. And I am lucky enough to get my hands on an exclusive screen shot. Check it out, kids.

Thor is thinking, "I'd hammer that." Get it? Hammer. I would too, Thor. I have no idea what Loki is thinking but I bet it's similar. What confuses me though is, aren't those two supposed to be enemies? Maybe they both fight over The Black Widow. Anyway, one more week til I see this movie.  Talking about movies, starting on Wednesday's entry and all through May it's gonna be Star Wars Month on the Phile. I have lots of Star Wars themed jokes and stuff, and it'll be fun. It's all to celebrate Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios, as well as the anniversary of the original film and most importantly my one year at working at Star Tours. Anyway, it should be a fun filled Star Wars month.  And now, for some sad news...

Amarillo Slim  
Dec 31, 1928 - Apr 29, 2012
And getting slimmer all the time.

Last week on the Phile I had Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the Phile to talk about the Senate possibly voting to reauthorize the Violence Against Woman Act. Well, they voted so I invited Debbie back to the Phile to explain what happened. So, please welcome back to the Phile, Chair of the Democratic National Committee... Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Me: Hello, Debbie, welcome back to the Phile. So, what happened?

Debbie: The Senate voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Me: What? That's nuts. How did the vote go?

Debbie: Sixty-eight in favor, thirty-one against. Each of the 31 senators who voted against it were Republican men. Every time these guys get the chance to put women's health before politics, they fail to.

Me: I had Patrick here on the Phile yesterday, Debbie, and he said Democrats are facing an important FEC fundraising deadline tonight at midnight. That has to help, right?

Debbie: Yes, Jason. I should add that these 31 men are the only senators to ever cast a vote against reauthorizing this act.

Me: So this never happened before, right?

Debbie: The Senate reauthorized it unanimously twice in the last twelve years. The Republican party of today is a different breed altogether.

Me: How so?

Debbie: If it comes down to scoring points with the GOP base or protecting women, they're going to choose the base every time.

Me: Debbie, what happens next?

Debbie: This legislation goes to the House. The House GOP is planning on introducing a bill with the same name, but their version of the Violence Against Women Act will likely strip out the very provisions protecting Native Americans, undocumented immigrants, and LGBT Americans we just fought for.

Me: What are you guys gonna do?

Debbie: Before the House votes on the bill, before the GOP even introduces it, we need to spread the word far and wide on how they're trying to dupe us into thinking they're doing the right thing. From now until November, we're going to call them out on the air, online, and on the ground. The Democratic Party is planning to make sure everyone knows who's really fighting for women this year.

Me: Well, you can use the Phile anytime you want, Debbie.

Debbie: Thank you, Jason, as always.

Me: Debbie, thank you, and good luck. Talk to you soon.

Shit, I forgot to ask her what LGBT Americans stands for. I cannot think. Oh, well. Anyway, the 19th book in the Peverett Phile Book Club is a really good one, kids. Here it is...

Paul Myers will be a guest on the Phile this Thursday.

Okay, today's guest is a talented singer whose new album "Heart Machine" is available on iTunes and other usual places you can download and purchase music. Please welcome to the Phile... Lila Rose.

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

Lila: Thank you for asking. I am so so so so good. Well, honestly I’m pretty tired, but happy to be so busy with amazing creative happenings.

Me: That's good. So, years ago, Lila,  when I started doing interviews on the Phile I was supposed to interview a musician I found on Myspace named Stephani Joanne Angelina Germanotta who recorded under the name Lady Gaga. I put off interviewing her and when I finally got around to it she was performed on "American Idol" and the rest is history. Now there's no chance in hell I can ever interview her. I love your music and didn't want the same to happen with you. You're gonna be big one day, Lila. There's a question here, I promise. How long have you been a musician?

Lila: Haha. Well, thank you. It is so wonderful to have these affirmations, it feels so great and reassuring because you know, it’s a long road and a TON of work. You know, I always made music. I started music classes at 3, started piano soon after violin, cello, steel band, choir etc. I was always involved in music and my parents and brother all made music to some degree also. BUT I would say I started to consider myself a musician about 7 years ago after I gave up acting. It definitely took me by surprise but here I am 7 years later still going at it and it’s starting to look like it’s working.  ;)

Me: You definitely have a Lady Gagaish about you, with your style, Lila. Are you a fan of hers?

Lila: You know, I am. I am a fan of her desire and ability to push the envelope. I admire her creativity and her cutting edge nature. She has given permission to a lot of fans and performers alike to let loose and find their own true selves through being quite true to her own unique flavor. As for the music… well… not a huge fan but you know, she’s a lot more than that at the end of the day and I respect her for the whole package.

Me: Let's talk about your style. You must like dressing up and trying on different looks, am I right?

Lila: I really really do. It brings me a lot of joy to get dressed up and have fun. Although to be honest, I have toned it down A LOT over the years... you should have seen me in high school!!! Now I’m wearing high heels and nail polish (sometimes) and I would never ever have imagined myself to be doing so. I guess I’ve grown up!

Me: Let's talk about your hair... is it dreadlocked? How the hell did you get it to stick out like it is in the promo pictures for the new album?

Lila: Heehee. I love this question, and it’s a good answer. Well, firstly, yes, I have dreadlocks. There are only a handful left on the back side of my head, but I had a full head of dreads for about 11 years. The photos with the flying hair were like this: my amazing makeup artist Joshua Conover is kneeling behind me just below the frame where you can’t see him. The photographer Rus Anson counts, “1, 2, 3” then he tosses my hair up and she snaps. They are both superb artists (clearly) and who would have known that picture ended up on my website and all over the place. It was not even planned!!!

Me: I like tattoo's and have four myself and couldn't help but notice the tattoo's you have on your arms. Are they the only ones you have?

Lila: Nope. I have a few... back of my neck, palms of my hands (ouch), my fingers… that’s about it. More coming soon though.

Me: Do they mean anything, Lila?

Lila: Yes of course. I really don’t do anything without meaning. That’s for a much longer interview though…

Me: Where are you from?

Lila: Toronto, Canada.

Me: You're based in San Francisco now, right? What made you decide to move to there?

Lila: Oh man… everything! The community, the weather, the ocean, the palm trees, the creativity, the consciousness, the ability to grow amazing food all year round, amazing hiking trails everywhere, hills in the distance, should I go on???

Me: No, you're good, Lila. Anyway, I have to ask every Canadian I interview if they are fan of one of my favorite bands ever who are from Canada... The Barenaked Ladies. I am guessing no, but are you a fan of there's.

Lila:  Ummm… I’m so sorry. Not really. But hey, they were recording an album at a studio I was recording at one time and that was pretty cool!

Me: Who did you listen to growing up? A lot of Madonna?

Lila: Not really. A little bit, it really depends on the time. I started with Billy Joel and The Beach Boys very early on, later was a lot of Ani Difranco, The Cranberries, Alanis Morissette, Ben Harper, Portishead, Bjork Queen. Nothing too out of the ordinary for a teen at that time.

Me: I downloaded your CD "Heart Machine" off from iTunes and really enjoyed it. Did you write all the songs on it?

Lila: Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it! Yes I did, but with a few co-writes on some songs. "Casting Shadows" was co-written with my collaborator (who also sings on the track) Eric Denniston. An amazing artist and very good friend Lynx co-wrote parts of "Heart Machine" the song, and I had a few other helpers on a few words here and there on other songs.

Me: Who plays on the album with you and is in your band, Lila?​

Lila: The album is actually mostly David Earl and I. We produced the album together, and he engineered most of it. We have other producers such as Abai who started the original composition for "Obsession" with me, Garrett Warner, Kyrstyn Pixton, Lynx… these have all been contributors. And amazing ones at that. The band is different all together, besides David Earl who does the electronic production live and of course me. We’ve got bass, a drummer, and two backup singers for the live band.

Me: The title track features Lynx who you've mentioned. Here in Central Florida Lynx is the name of the bus system run. I don't think that's the Lynx who is on the track. Who is your Lynx? By the way, that was the dumbest thing I ever said on the Phile. Lol.

Lila: Check her out: she’s a dang talented singer/producer/songwriter/guitarist/a whole lot of other amazing things. She’s really amazing and we’ve done a bunch of collaborating over the years.

Me: This is not your first release, right? But "Heart Machine" is your first full length?

Lila: You got it. "Osmos Your Sonica" was a short EP released in 2009, and there were a couple singles I also released along the way. "Heart Machine" feels like my first real baby.

Me: Where did the idea come for that to be the album title? Does it mean anything? And, man, you look so white on the album cover. Was that all make up?

Lila: The idea for the album title... I honestly can’t remember exactly… but the image came to me in a day dream before I locked in the actual title. The title definitely means something. It’s to do with the experience of taking in the experiences of life and transforming them within myself and alchemizing them into sound. The Heart Machine is this passionate creature here who feels a whole lot and makes music out of all that passion for the world to transform through the experience of later listening to the music. The album cover is a photograph taken by Rus Anson. It was all makeup, it was not made digitally. She’s amazing, and my makeup artist Joshua Conover is amazing as well obviously!

Me: Lila, I have to ask you about this, you were born with ultra sound sensitivity. Does that mean sounds are louder to you then normal people? My son has the same thing.

Lila: Either louder or the sounds are just more intense for me. There are certain sounds in particular that are difficult... particularly high frequency sounds. Some sounds just drive me absolutely crazy. It’s pretty intense sometimes honestly. I don’t always love it, that’s for sure.

Me: How does that effect with you making music?

Lila: In this regard, it’s cool. I have a very fine tuned ear, to say the least. I hear it all. Ask David Earl… he’ll tell ya, he can’t even get away with a .5 decibel shift without me noticing.

Me: You also did some acting as well am I right? Is that TV and movie acting, or theatre?

Lila: Yeah, acting was my first love until I was about 18. Mostly theater, some commercials and TV stuff.

Me: Is acting something you are gonna be doing again in the future?

Lila: I could see that happening, sure. I'm pretty theatrical as a person, especially on stage. That would be fun!

Me: Speaking of future, you are planning an acoustic album. Will that have songs done on "Heart Machine" or new music?

Lila: Hmmm… I doubt they would be those songs, nut now that you mention it, it’s not a bad idea!

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile, Lila, and please come back when your next release comes out. You are an original and like I said, you are gonna be big. Go ahead and plug all your websites and everything.

Lila: Thanks so much I really appreciate the support and love! My website is the album can be listened to and purchased there or on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon, etc.

Me: Thanks again, and please come back soon.

Well, that about does it for another entry. Thanks to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and of course Lila Rose. The Phile will be back on Wednesday with Lisa Brigantino and then again on Thursday with author Paul Myers. On Sunday it's Ed Valauskas, and don't forget starting this Wednesday it's the start of Star Wars Month here on the Phile. Are you excited? Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pheaturing Alumni Chris Nelson

Hello, kids, welcome to a Sunday entry of the Phile. How are you? I have to mention this, on Friday I went to Jacksonville to see Elvis Costello in concert. It was great. He performed for three freaking hours. Three hours. I don't like sitting here for two hours doing this blog it wears me out.  What else is going on? At Disney, one of the greatest company's to work for ever they announced they are gonna put Starbucks in the parks. Man, with Disney prices and Starbucks prices, I cannot imagine how much a coffee will be. "That'll be $75.00 for your ice mocha with no whip cream, sir."  Well, some teenagers are reportedly drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk. This explains a lack of sanitizer at work. Damn college kids. Remember when Zima was the most embarrassing thing to drink? Teenagers have been turning up with alcohol poisoning and officials are worried it will become a national trend. Drinking hand sanitizer is of particular concern because Purell is considered to be a gateway soap. Purell could lead to lime cascade or scrubbing bubbles. The kids use salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, which makes a liquid similar to a hard shot of liquor. You know what else is similar to a shot of hard liquor? A shot of hard liquor. Why not just steal a shot of liquor from your parent's liquor cabinet and refill it with iced tea like normal American kids, or pay a homeless guy to buy it for you like our forefathers did?!  I would like to wish those to whom it applies a happy belated Administrative Professionals Day. It used to be called Secretaries Day. You'll know it has caught on if wives start yelling about their husband, "He cheated on me with his administrative professional."  They had a big police chase here L.A. It went on for more than two hours. If you live there, a police chase is kind of a nice way to see your old neighborhoods.  The E! network has announced they have reached a deal with the Kardashian family to bring us three more seasons of their reality show. If you haven't been keeping up with them, I will bring you up to speed. They went shopping. The deal will pay the Kardashian family... get this... $40 million. It's the biggest contract in the history of reality television. It's harder and harder to explain to your kids why it's a bad idea to make a sex tape.  Speaking of TV, there's a new channel called DogTV. The channel features “footage and soundtracks designed for stimulation and relaxation.” Anyway, I got my hands on another ad for a new TV show on DogTV. Check it out.

Do you kids play Words With Friends? I love that game. I have to show you something that could not happen in a million years with that game... or at least a few days. I have been playing for over two years and over 50 different games and this blew me away.

What are the chances we would both start with the same word. By the way, Zyngawf copied me.  Did you see they were selling inspirational posters of Trayvon's funeral? I think it was too soon, but I guess the Martin family needed some money.

Look, I didn't make it, people. Don't get mad at me.  Alright, as I said on Wednesday all through May it's gonna be Star Wars month here on the Phile to celebrate the anniversary of the films, Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios and my one year working at Star Tours. There's gonna be Star Wars themed jokes and stuff, and a few fun things. So, tell your geeky friends, they'll love it. This starts on the Phile on Wednesday, kids. BTW, speaking of movies...


They changed the name in its journey from Gideon Defoe's book to screen. Well, they did in the United States, anyway. Known in the United Kingdom as The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, the more generic Band of Misfits was, I'm guessing, invented to prevent science-phobic American audiences from scaring away at the sight of any word that would suggest smart people were involved in its production. And that's fine. Trick them into seeing it if you have to. Let them panic over the inclusion of Charles Darwin (voiced by "Doctor Who's" David Tennant) as a pivotal character after they've bought their ticket.  Yeah, Charles Darwin. He's after a dodo bird owned by the epically bearded Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant). Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) wants the animal, too. Darwin wants to study it, while Victoria wants an exotic meal. But to the Pirate Captain, his "parrot" is the emotional core of his ship, the mascot beloved by his entire crew. Only in a desperately weak-willed moment of bad judgment would he trade her for a giant pile of gold, which he does in order to clinch his long-denied win in the Pirate of the Year contest.  But plot, as funny and well-constructed as it is, isn't really the point here. You'll want to go because it's from Aardman, the people who delivered Chicken Run, all the Wallace and Gromit films (both short and feature) and the underrated Arthur Christmas. They're the (mostly) stop-motion animation peer of America's Pixar or Japan's Studio Ghibli. And like those, Aardman output is the kind of pitch-perfect fusion of smart and silly, funny and sweet, kid-centric and adult-friendly. You're guaranteed originality, wit, impeccable artistry and attention to detail and, most of all, a plain old good time.  In fact, if there's anything to gripe about here, it's the pirate thing itself. Second only to the vampire glut, pirates have reached a level of pop culture exhaustion that's hard to pretend isn't happening and even harder to manufacture enthusiasm for. But for about 90 minutes these guys pull it off. Maybe it's the lack of rote stumbling around by Johnny Depp, maybe it's the enthusiastic charm, maybe it's the fish in the pirate hat. But whatever it is, it's welcome. Will there be a sequel based on one of Defoe's follow-up books in the series? If so, please let it be The Pirates! In an Adventure with Communists. Yes, that's a real thing. And who better to teach your little ones about Karl Marx? Plus, there are kittens in it. From 1 to ten I give it a seven and probably won't buy it when it comes out.

Okay, the draft happened or at least the first day... I don't pay attention to these things. I was too busy going to see Elvis, swimming in my pool, seeing that Pirates movie and putting together this pile of crap. Anyway, I thought I would invite someone to the Phile who did pay attention. Please welcome back my good friend Jeff Trelewicz in a pheature I call...

Me: Jeff, welcome to the Phile again. So, what is the big news with the football draft?

Jeff: Thanks, it's always great to be back on the Phile talking Phootball. I mean football. The draft is clearly the most unpredictable time of the year. My girlfriend and I sat around on Thursday night reading predictions of five people who are experts at football. Their predictions were only for the first round. So 32 picks. The person with the most correct answers had... seven! Seven out of 32 were correct. And the first two were guaranteed! So much for experts!

Me: Didn't one player get fooled or something he was getting drafted? Do you know what I'm talking about?

Jeff: I am not sure what you mean by someone got fooled into thinking he was getting drafted. There are no guarantees in the draft. Some people were expected to be drafted higher (some lower) but there are no guarantees!

Me: It was something to do with Bengals player Mohamed Sanu or something.

Jeff: Oh yeah, no at that point I would Google search the number and show up at

the person's door...  "So, you still think it's funny?"

Me: Okay, lets talk about the real draft. So, where did Andrew Luck go to? Who did the Steelers get and who did the Giants get?

Jeff: Andrew Luck, as expected, was drafted number one to the Colts. Robert Griffen III went to Redskins. Everything else was a guess (even to the experts!). The Steelers spent most of the draft fixing their offense line, using their first two picks to help rebuild. The Giants on the other hand did a good job more for depth then fixing any problem. They recently lost Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs to the 49ers. But they got younger in those positions with their first and second round picks.

Me: Jeff, thanks again as always, it is fun talking to you. Hey, through May it's Star Wars month on the Phile. Can you come back through the month to talk about each film?

Jeff: Of course I would love to come back in May and talk all things Star Wars!

Me: Thanks, Jeff, I will see you then. Well done.


Well, it's political talk time on the Phile. The Democrats are saying this is the worst Presidential campaign can buy. I don't know why, so I thought I would invite a phriend of the Phile back to talk about it. So, please welcome back to the Phile, Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee.

Me: Hello, Patrick, welcome back. So, what's up? Why is this the worst campaign money can buy?

Patrick: Hello, Jason. Remember the mysterious, secretly funded, Koch-brothers-backed group called Americans for Prosperity, which flushed millions into the 2010 election to help Tea Party Republicans take back the House?

Me: Um... actually, no I don't.

Patrick: This is the same group that, along with Sarah Palin, supported and rallied for Scott Walker's fight in Wisconsin to strip union workers of collective bargaining rights.

Me: Oh, yeah, I vaguely remember that. What about it?

Patrick: Well, they're back... with a "multi-million dollar," "massive ad launch" to slam President Obama.

Me: And this is bad, right?

Patrick: We could face some serious damage... unless we fight back right away.

Me: Wow. Is there anything that can be done?

Patrick: Yes, Before tomorrow's critical FEC fundraising deadline, and before the damage is done, fight back against the Koch brothers' ad assault right now.

Me: Wow. So, that's why said this is the worst Presidential campaign in history...

Patrick: Actually, "We are about to have the worst presidential campaign money can buy," a Washington Post columnist recently wrote about super PACs and outside groups' new ability to raise and spend money.

Me: Oh, sorry. I thought you guys said it. What is it about these super PACS?

Patrick: Just look at pro-Romney super PAC spending during the GOP primary to get a glimpse of what we're up against. Outside groups are running millions of dollars in ads right now, with the express purpose of beating us before we even get the chance to fight back. Here's the kicker: This is in addition to Karl Rove's American Crossroads super PAC and Crossroads GPS, which plan to spend as much as $300 million and recently announced that they are already $100 million to their goal. His group is spending $1.7 million on ads right now attacking the president in six swing states critical to winning in November: Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. They also just launched ads in five states to help the GOP take the Senate this year. We're facing a big fundraising deadline at midnight tomorrow... and we're facing Karl Rove and the Koch brothers.

Me: Well, good luck. Keep us posted how it goes, Patrick.

Patrick: Thank you, Jason, being part of defending President Obama's record, our progress, and Democrats up and down the ticket.

Me: Thanks, but I didn't really do anything. Talk to you soon, Patrick.

Patrick: Thanks, Jason.

The 19th book to be pheatured in the P.P.B.C. is...

The author, Paul Myers, will be a guest on the Phile in an extra entry this Thursday. It'll be good.

Today's guest is Phile Alumni who was first on the Phile on November 1st, 2011. His recent album "The Invisible Man" is available on CD Baby and on May 19th his event Sound Off For Veterans will take place in Harrisburg, Pa. Please welcome back to the Phile... Chris Nelson.

Me: Hello, Chris, welcome back to the Phile. So, how have you been?

Chris: I've been recovering from the flu, but other than that, I'm okay.

Me: Since you were here I have had Tish Meeks from 3 Kisses back on the Phile. She's the one who introduced me to you. Have you heard from her recently?

Chris: I've followed her postings on Facebook, but I haven't really communicated with her much. She moved up to Alaska, but I think she wants to move back. I understand she's working on a new band or project or something. I'll have to go read the interview on the Phile.

Me: You're based in Pennsylvania, right? My wife is from the Mechanicsburg area. What part of Pennsylvania are you from?

Chris: Lebanon, which is about 30 miles to the east of Mechanicsburg.

Me: Do you still live there, Chris?

Chris: This will be my home for quite a while, I'm sure.

Me: Last time you were here you were plugging your "The Invisible Man" CD. Have you been working on any new music?

Chris: I've been doing a lot of writing and I have enough material for a new album, but it may be a while until I record anything. I'm currently working on putting together a complilation of recordings that I made from 1986 to 2005. I've gone back into the archives and have been remixing, retooling, and in some cases, re-recording portions of these tracks for the release. I'm about three fourths of the way through it. It will be called "Fish Stories: 1986-2005" and I hope to have it done around the end of the year. I'd also like to mention that "In Praise Of Failure" a songs from "The Invisible Man" was recognized by DAMES of PA as one of the top five songs of 2011.

Me: Nice, well done. Okay, let's talk about Sound Off For Vets. For those that don't know, explain what that is.

Chris: Sound Off for Vets is a free benefit concert put on by local musicians in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. We sell raffle tickets on prizes that have been contributed by community members, clubs, and businesses and we also have some items that sell to raise additional money. There's a 'tip jar' that we have placed near the stage area and two more that are located around the concert site where people can put in whatever they want to. Basically, it's an outdoor party to entice people into making a contribution while giving them something to listen to.

Me: The last benefit Sound Off For Vets was on Nov, 11th, 2011. How much did you raise, Chris?

Chris: About $1,111 before expenses were paid.

Me: That's a helluva coincidence. You must've been surprised and slightly suspicious that was the amount you arranged. Am I right?

Chris: Well, that whole event was a surprise. My friend Ric Albano... who has a thing about numbers... knew the guy who owns Champions Sports Bar and Grill in Highspire, where the event was held. The idea was to do something special for Veterans' Day. I was supposed to play, but I had to back out at the last minute. They drew quite a crowd, from what I heard. They also got a lot of clothing donations to go to the YWCA's homeless veterans program. I'd say it was a huge success, overall.

Me: What exactly is the Wounded Warriors Project, Chris?

Chris: WWP assists those combat-wounded veterans from the recent conflicts to deal with their disabilities. Sometimes its helping with overcoming physical disability, other times it's mental health counseling for deailing with the stress of living in a combat environment, some need assistance with job training and placement. There's a lot of services that they provide our wounded veterans. They have a complex near Jacksonville, Florida where they do most of their training and counseling.

Me: How did you come to be a part of all this? You founded Sound Off For Vets, right?

Chris: Yes. It all started when I was sent to cover a military funeral of an Army Lieutenant out of the Scranton area when I worked for the Pennsylvania Office of Veterans Affairs. He was a victim of a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. As I spoke with those who know him, I found out that he had been a musician and also played all the instruments on his records, although he perferred jazz. The point was, this could have been me a few years ago when I was still in the service. I had wanted to do something to give back to the military ever since I retired, but I didn't know what I could do. After the funeral experience, I really felt motivated to do something and started to explore different options. A friend of mine from Pittsburgh began organizing his "Pennsylvania Hero Walk" where a group of people walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh over the course of a few months to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. I've always wanted to do something like this with my music, since it's something I'm quite passionate about. I decided to make Sound Off an extension of the PA Hero Walk in 2010 and planned to hold it during the week when they were passing through Harrisburg. We held it on the deck of the Pride of the Susquehanna riverboat overlooking the shore. We drew a pretty good size crowd for a Thursday. The following year, we decided to hold it during Armed Forces Day, since it sort of fit with that theme. We raised close to $500 that day.

Me: Were you in the military at all?

Chris: Yes, I was in the U.S. Air Force from 1983 to 2004 and retired as an E-7 after 21 years.

Me: So, how is this years event different from the last one, Chris?

Chris: It's a little shorter since we have to clear out for the Harrisburg Senators baseball game scheduled for later that evening. Everything will have to be done by 4 pm to give time for the Army helicopters to take off. We will, however, be occupying the main stage, so we will be able to get more people's attention that way. This year, we're located in the center of all the activity. In years past, we were near the riverfront area. People didn't always know about us since the acoustics there swallow up the sound.

Me: Will it be at the same place?

Chris: Yes, on City Island in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Me: So, why do another one so soon after the last event?

Chris: The actual Sound Off for Vets happens every Spring. The first one was June 2010 and last year, we did it in May of 2011. The November event, Sound Off for Veterans Day was a special event for the year. Ric was intrigued by the 11.11.11 date and wanted to do something special. I haven't heard from him about if there will be another one for this Veterans Day.

Me:  Hey, maybe one year you can have Foghat play there... or not. LOL. How often are you gonna be doing these benefits, Chris?

Chris: Is Foghat still around?

Me: Yeah, believe it or not.

Chris: I am trying to make this a recognized annual event that will be associated with the city of Harrisburg. Even after all our troops are back home from overseas, many of them are going to be needing assistance with their injuries for years to come... in some cases, for the rest of their lives. We can't forget the sacrifices these people have made. I'm glad we have organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project to help.

Me: Who are some of the bands and acts who will be performing there this year with you this time? If any of them would like to be on the Phile, please let me know. I'd love to have them.

Chris: I'll pass along your information to them. We currently have Rhyne McCormick, Shift Seven, and Michael Anthony Smith and the Dirty, Thieving Gypsies... and me. Mike Smith and Shift Seven have played here before; in fact, Shift Seven was one of the bands in the first show. This year, all the acts have strong military connections. Rhyne McCormick and myself are both U.S. Air Force veterans and both Michael Anthony Smith and Shift Seven have relatives in the military.

Me: Chris, so, what's next for you?

Chris: Besides working on the retrospective album I mentioned earlier, I'm also going to be publishing my first science fiction novel on Amazon in a few weeks. I also plan to start recording, but I'm not sure when that will happen yet.

Me: Thanks for taking time out to do this interview. I know you must be busy getting everything organized, sir. Please come back soon when you are gonna do the next one, or your next album. Where can readers learn more about Sound Off For Vets and the Wounded Warrior Project, Chris?

Chris: The sound Off for Vets web site is; the Wounded Warrior Project site is

Me: And where can they purchase your music?

Chris: Go to my website and click on 'CDs." That will take you to the CD Baby page. They're also available through Apple iTunes, Rhapsody, and a whole bunch of other online distributors.

Me: All the best, good luck and maybe you can raise $5,1912. That would be way too weird, right?

Chris: Weird, but in a cool sort of way! Our goal for this year is to raise $1000. If we exceed that, I will be very, very happy!

Me: Take care and good job.

Chris: Thanks for having me on your blog!

Well, there you have it, another entry of the Phile done. Thanks to my guests Jeff Trelewicz, Patrick Gaspard and of course Chris Nelson. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Lila Rose. Then on Wednesday it's singer, songwriter Lisa Brigantino. There's an extra entry on Thursday with author Paul Myers, then next Sunday it's Ed Valauskas, the bass player for the band Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents. Wednesday also starts Star Wars Month here on the Phile. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pheaturing Pete RG

Hey, kids, welcome to a Wednesday entry of the Phile, how are you? Me? I am still trying to figure out this new Blogger set up. They sure don't make it user friendly anymore. I know... waa waa waa.  Well, what's going on? Newt Gingrich's campaign is something like $5 million in debt. He is now so broke he's no longer attacking the poor because he is one.  Lakers star Ron Artest, also known as Metta World Peace, that's his name now... was ejected from Sunday's game for a vicious elbow to the head of Oklahoma's James Harden. It was such a cheap shot he was offered a contract with the New Orleans Saints. But we live in a society that rewards bad behavior. Metta World Peace just picked up an endorsement for elbow macaroni. I haven't seen an NBA player take an elbow like that since Kris Humphries got between Kim Kardashian and a camera.  A New Mexico company has petitioned the federal government to become the first U.S. business to offer horse meat for human consumption. You can get horse meat on the menu in some restaurants now. So if you're in Albuquerque, avoid the Philly Cheese Steak. Last entry I think it was I said I would try dog. I think I would try horse as well.  I'm enjoying this Secret Service scandal. It turned out to be a frisking that got out of control. One of the Secret Service agents had this woman, and the deal was $300 and he gave her $30. I'm thinking, now wait a minute. I've got no problem with a guy trying to save taxpayer dollars. These are jobs that should've gone to American hookers. It now appears that as many as a dozen members of the Secret Service were involved in that Colombian prostitution scandal. Now six of the agents have been reassigned. The other six are now party planners for the GSA.  In celeb news, Kim Kardashian, who I just mentioned, is dating Kanye West. Her publicist says it's for real. In fact they're already planning the sham wedding.  Time magazine has come out with their 100 most influential people issue, and Newt Gingrich is not on the list. In fact, he's not even on the list of the 100 most influential Newts. The NFL draft is going to be this Thursday. That's a huge night for college players. That's the night they start being paid over the table.  Well, it's official, Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. They've already broken out the non-alcoholic champagne.  Do you guys like Reeses Pieces candy? Well, did you see the latest ad? I think this might turn you off, kids.

Man, I totally apologize. What is wrong with me? Kids read the Phile!  DogTV, a new on-demand channel made specifically for dogs, recently debuted in San Diego and enough suckers there are paying five bucks a month for it that DogTV will soon be offered nationwide. The channel features “footage and soundtracks designed for stimulation and relaxation”... meaning lots of traffic, nature scenes, and, of course, canine-centric twists on human favorites.  Here's a poster for one of the shows on DogTV.

That looks kinda creepy.  Well, over the last two weeks, collisions with birds have forced two planes to make emergency returns to New York City area airports. It's a problem that stretches back to 2009, when Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger famously ditched the Airbus he was piloting into the Hudson River after a birdstrike disabled the plane's engines. Is it a coincidence? I dug deep to find the real cause of this dangerous phenomenon.

Okay, kids, before we continue I have to tell you something... no, the Phile is not ending yet. But it is about the Phile. All through May it's gonna be Star Wars Month here on the Phile. No, I am not gonna have Star Wars themed guests, but there's gonna be lotsa Star Wars stuff. It's to celebrate the movies and myself working one whole year at Star Tours in Disney's Hollywood Studios. So, let your nerd and geek friends know. It'll be fun. Alright, now from the home office in Phulfortha City, New York, here is this weeks...

Top Ten Other Warren Buffett Rules
10. Surround yourself with lackeys and yes-men.
9. Never eat sushi at a strip club.
8. To impress a lady, buy her roses... or tell her you're worth $44 billion.
7. Why pay for wi-fi when you can steal it from your neighbor.
6. Allergies are a character flaw.
5. Don't be afraid to try a little "manscaping".
4. For the last time, it's especially not exspecially.
3. There's no such thing as too much eyeliner.
2. Pineapple on pizza? That's nonsense.
And the number one other Warren Buffett rule is...
1. Bacon goes with everything.

Alright, so, this week the Senate may not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. I don't know to much about it so I thought I would invite a friend and a woman to the Phile to explain everything. Please welcome back to the Phile, Chair of the Democratic National Committee... Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Me: Debbie, welcome back to the Phile. So, is this unusual the Violence Against Woman Act might be reauthorized?

Debbie: Jason, since this bipartisan legislation first passed in 1994, it's been reauthorized twice without a hitch. And it's been tremendously successful in helping to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Me: So it should be a no-brainer, right?

Debbie: Not to the Senate GOP, not in an election year, apparently. Republicans are willing to throw away the entire law now that it helps protect lesbians, gay men, undocumented immigrants, and Native Americans.

Jason: Do they believe acts of violence committed against these groups don't matter as much?

Debbie: The Senate's voting on the Act any moment now, and we need to put pressure on the GOP to pass it.

Me: What should we do, Debbie?

Debbie: Before the vote, stand with me for all victims of domestic violence... no matter who they are:

Me: Has it been a good law, Debbie? Has it helped or worked?

Debbie: Since this law passed, it has helped reduce the annual rate of domestic violence by an astounding 53 percent. The rate of women killed by an intimate partner has dropped 34 percent. Its programs, including violence prevention programs, shelters and rape crisis centers, and funding for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes have made a world of difference in giving victims of violence a safe place to turn. It has without a doubt saved thousands of lives. And Senate Republicans are ready to roll back all our progress. This year's Act would make sure that LGBT Americans receive equal treatment for services, it would make it easier for undocumented immigrants to come forward as victims and provide temporary visas in certain cases, and let Native Americans on reservations go to tribal courts for abuse cases. With these additional protections, the GOP has promised to fight it every step of the way.

Me: What would happen if Congress votes against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act?

Debbie: All of these programs could grind to a halt, and the hundreds of thousands of women who rely on them will once again be left on their own.

Me: And the GOP resistance? Why do you think they are doing this?

Debbie: The GOP's resistance is just another example of putting women's health and well-being on the line in order to score a few cheap, political points with their base. We can't stand by and let them take away this critical legislation.

Me: Thanks for informing us, Debbie. Keep the pressure on.

Debbie: We will, and thanks for your help, Jason.

The 19th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club is...

This is what Amazon says about the book: Few record producers possess the musical facility to back up such a bold promise but in over 40 years behind the glass Todd Rundgren has willed himself into becoming a not only a rock guitar virtuoso an accomplished lead vocalist and a serviceable drummer vocal arranger and keyboard player but also a master of perhaps his greatest instrument of all the recording studio. Throughout his career Rundgren has ping-ponged between the worlds of producer and recording artist with varying degrees of critical and commercial success. After learning his craft as a songwriter and arranger with Nazz Rundgren gained attention by engineering recordings by The Band. His reputation was cemented by a string of noteworthy productions beginning in 1971 with Sparks and continuing with classic albums for Grand Funk, The New York Dolls, Badfinger, Hall & Oates, Meat Loaf, Patti Smith Group, Psychedelic Furs and XTC. All of this alongside his own solo albums Researched and written with the cooperation of Rundgren himself "A Wizard A True Star" is a fascinating authoritative account of four decades of making magic in the recording studio. Paul Myers will be a guest on the Phile next week, kids.


Okay, today's guest is a singer-songwriter whose new album "New Eyes" is now available on iTunes and Bandcamp. Please welcome to the Phile, the very talented... Pete RG.

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

Pete: I’m great, thanks. How are you?

Me: Tired, but not bad. Okay, I have to ask you about your name. RG is a very unusual last name. What's the origin?

Pete: It’s Irish. My family dropped the “O” (as in O’ RG) when they came to the US. Haha!... No, seriously, my last name is Argyropoulos. A good ol‘ Greek name. But, since it’s a mouthful, I went with my childhood nickname, RG. Also, I like the simplicity of the RG logo. I wasn’t able to come up with an elegant solution for Argyropoulos.

Me: Before you were a solo artist you were in the band Last December. That band broke up, right?

Pete: Last December  is on indefinite hiatus. We’ve considered recording some new songs and doing some shows. But, we’re more happy than ever working together on my solo stuff. Scotty and Adam have performed on nearly every Pete RG song and other projects that come my way to produce. Plus, I’ve been including some Last December songs in my shows and Scotty and Adam will join me on stage this year.

Me: What made you decide to go solo instead of starting a new band?

Pete: A couple of things. First, many of the new songs I’d written didn’t seem suited for L.D. They’re folky and somewhat introverted. More importantly, the band had been beaten up a bit by the music industry and hadn’t worked together in a few years. Collectively, we were a little out of gas and lacking direction. Singularly, we were all very active. Ultimately, it was more inspiring, as well as somewhat liberating, to move forward as a solo artist.

Me: Do you have a regular band that plays with you, Pete?

Pete: So far, I’ve been performing solo or as a duet, joined by Brina Kabler, my co-producer and engineer. But, I’ll begin performing some shows with a band this spring. After that, I’ll mix it up between solo/duet shows and band shows.

Me: You have been putting singles up on Bandcamp and your website to download for free. You know, you cannot make money giving your stuff away, Pete.

Pete: Actually, I think you can. Recorded music’s always been more of a calling card than a money maker for the artist. And, what do you want to do with calling cards? You want to get as many of them out there as possible to bring in more clients (ie, fans)! In the past, the record labels took most of the money from sales of the recordings. Today, the public takes most of the recordings for free via file sharing. So, nothing’s really changed for the artist. Throughout, though, one revenue stream’s solidly remained in the hands of the artist: the live show. Tough to take that one away. Plus, for most every artist I know, myself included, there’s nothing more rewarding than playing live. Nothing. It’s worth nearly all the money in the world. Keyword to that last sentence is nearly, :).

Me: You came out with a new album as well. Does this have the singles or brand new songs?

Pete: It’ll have all six of the singles and four new songs. Of the six songs already released, two will receive notable changes. Frankly, I was fine with just releasing singles. But, the world still wants albums.

Me: How long have you been writing and playing, Pete?

Pete: Since I was a kid. I was writing before I knew I was writing. Always making things up with each new instrument I learned. Recorder, clarinet, viola, drums; typical stuff you dabble in as a kid. I got serious about it, the writing and playing, that is, once I began playing guitar. In fact, my dad (he’s a guitarist and songwriter, too) was the one who suggested I put more attention to songwriting, in particular.

Me: Growing up, I am guessing you were influenced by Bruce Springsteen, am I right? Who are your main influences?

Pete: Ha, you found me out! Is his influence that obvious? Yeah, I’m a pretty big Bruce fan. Again, my dad was a big influence here. He was taking me to Bruce shows when I was a really little kid. I guess he wanted to make sure I was properly raised. He’s still making sure to do so: he took me to a Leonard Cohen concert a few years ago. Amazing! As far as my other main influences go, like most artists, there are too many to list. But, if I had to narrow it down to just a handful, I’d add U2, Radiohead, Chopin, George Dalaras (incredible Greek singer), Frank Sinatra (another really great singer, if you haven’t heard of him ;) ), Gordon Lightfoot and the Beatles. That said, I’m already feeling ill thinking about the artists I’ve left off that list. Oh, BTW, U2’s at the top. They’re my desert island band.

Me: Pete, where are you from?

Pete: Born and raised in Los Angeles. Venice Beach, more specifically, for the most part.

Me: Is that where you still live?

Pete: Yeppers! Though, in Santa Monica now. No longer in Venice.

Me: I take it you have been playing a lot of shows, Pete. What has been your favorite gig you have ever played? I am sure you played some great shows with Last December.

Pete: Hmmm, that’s a good question. I’ve never reflected on what was my favorite gig. Yeah, I’ve had some great shows with L.D. While we did get up to playing 1,000-1,500 seat venues, the early ones in packed, sweaty clubs were the best. Audience pressed up against the stage. Nothing like that. In fact, as I’m thinking about it, it was probably a specific one of those gigs that was most memorable. I’m not very good with quick stories... My roommate, at the time, worked in the lounge at a posh hotel. AC/DC was staying there for a while. She befriended the band and eventually gave the lead singer, Brian Johnson, one of L.D.’s demo CDs. A few days later, he came back to her and asked to go to our next show. She invited him to one the following week and asked me to add him (as well as a couple others from the AC/DC crew) to my guest list. In the meantime, she’d already mentioned to me that she’d gotten to know the AC/DC guys and given them one of my CD’s. But, I didn’t think anything of it until she came to me about the show. That’s when I thought, if they do show up, Jason,  lead guitarist, will die! He’s a huge AC/DC fan! I had strong doubts they’d show up. But, I did mention it in passing to Jason as we were sitting backstage before our show. He gave me a big, rolling eyes smile in total disbelief. Anyway, we hit the stage to a full and enthusiastic audience. We play the first song and segue into the second. As we finish the opening two songs, there’s this loud voice that rises above the cheering of the audience and screams with an Australian snarl, “Fuckin’ right, Last December! Real songs!” We couldn’t miss it, even from the stage. Jason looked at me, jaw somewhat dropped. But, still in disbelief. We continued with the show. Another song finishes and we hear it again. Keep in mind, we’re in a small club (200 people). So, we can hear everything. But, the stage lights are right in our faces and we can’t see past the first row. That said, the voice is unmistakable. It’s Brian Johnson. Jason staggers. Seriously, he staggered. He could bare keep himself up. I thought he was gonna faint. I almost died of laughter watching him. Once he regained himself, we carried on with the set and Brian Johnson carried on with his outbursts of support between each song. But, the best is yet to come. As we begin breaking down our gear once we finish our set, Brian Johnson jumps on stage and grabs a guitar amp and takes it off stage. He’s helping us load out our gear! LOL! Hilarious! I was ready to call an ambulance for Jason. He was thoroughly stunned. Could barely move. We stayed up til dawn at the club (the manager kindly let us stay), hanging out and drinking beer with Brian Johnson, the AC/DC bassist and a member from their crew. They were great guys... What a night.

Me: What a great story. I have to tell my son, he's a big AC/DC fan. As well as music, you are also a pretty good photographer. That one of the hot chick smoking in the jacket is really cool. I have a picture of it here.

Me: Where was that taken, and do you know her?

Pete: So, you’ve downloaded a picture of a smoking hot chick and you have it right in front of you. Hmmm, maybe I should be selling those pics. LOL. I got a new lens... Canon 70-300, a couple of weeks ago and was out in my neighborhood, Santa Monica, testing it. I saw this girl step into an alley nearby the shop she was working in for a cigarette break. I asked if I could take her pic. She said sure and I snapped off a dozen pics. It was that simple. I didn’t even get her name. But, I knew right away I had some good pics. Haha! That probably reads pretty bad.

Me: Is this like the normal stuff you take photos of?

Pete: In the sense that the subject is something/someone I stumble upon and find interesting to shoot, yes, it’s normal. But, in the sense of shooting pretty girls or people, no. In fact, I didn’t think I had a normal or a style of my own until several fans recently pointed out that, to them, my style is that of a unique observer; one who sees the world from an angle less noticed. I found that to be quite the compliment and quite accurate. I am somewhat the voyeur to whatever situation I’m in.

Me: So, if you could only choose one, which one would it be? Photography or music?

Pete: Oh, music. No question. It’s my lifelong passion and profession as well as an integral part of who I am. Photography’s a nice compliment and welcome distraction.

Me: My wife is into photography as well, so I have to ask, what kinda camera do you use?

Pete: Nice! I use a Canon 5D Mk II with a few nice Canon lenses and a couple cool filters. Good gear helps me to get the shot right so that I have little or nothing to do in post.

Me: Pete, I am a fan of your music and wish you lots of luck. Can you come back onto the Phile again soon?

Pete: Thanks so much! I really appreciate the time you’ve given me. I’ll come back to the Phile any time!

Me: Great! Go ahead and mention your website, Facebook and everything else and please come down to Florida to play sometime. All the best, and continued success, Pete.

Pete: Again, thank-you very much! The pleasure was mine. Best to you!

Well, kids, that about wraps it up for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Debbie Wasserman Schultz and of course Pete RG. His album is great. The Phile will be back on Sunday with Alumni Chris Nelson, then on Monday with singer Lila Rose. Next Wednesday it's musician Lisa Brigantino and there's gonna be a special entry next Thursday with author Pete Myers. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. I will leave you with another piece of Logan art.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pheaturing Jerry Scott

Hello, welcome to a Sunday entry of the Phile, I am your host, Jason Peverett, the world's oldest teenager now that Dick Clark has died. With Dick Clark dead, we can no longer ring in the New year. Well played Mayans. Well played.  So, did you survive the Storm of the Century. We went out for dinner last night just before the storm came. I took this great fantastic photo before the storm got here in Clermont. Check it out, kids.

Congratulations are in order for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who just got engaged. You know what, I knew there was something going on between those two.  At the St. Louis Zoo, Newt Gingrich got too close to one of the animals and was bit on the hand by a penguin. If you're named after a lizard, you have to assume birds are going to try to eat you.  President Obama, in his memoir, talked about his childhood in Indonesia living with his stepfather. He said when he was 8 years old, his stepfather introduced him to a number of unusual meats, including dog. Our president ate dog. Not only that, according to the book, he also ate snake. And his mother was looking for tiger. He was eating through Noah's Ark. But the dog thing... maybe that is where the floppy ears come from. This is not something that someone dug up on him. This was in a book the president wrote himself. How did we miss this? If Ryan Seacrest wrote a book and said he ate dog, we would know about it. Would you eat dog? I would try it. Why not?  Reporters are in Colombia digging up anything on the Secret Service prostitution scandal. There was a dispute in the hotel. The escort said they made an agreement the night before to pay her $800, which is a lot for an escort. For that, you could get a Ford Escort. After they promised $800, they only gave her $30. That's what you call a trade deficit. The escort claims the agents said they did not remember agreeing to pay $800 because they were drunk the night before and she refused to leave the room until she got paid. Eventually they settled for $225. These are the guys we should put in charge of negotiating our foreign debt. Eleven Secret Service agents are being investigated. So far one has been fired, one resigned, one retired, and the rest are thinking about leaving just because the party is over.  Listen, everybody likes to make friends… and nobody more so than the Secret Service when they’re in a country that has legalized prostitution! 
I think the lesson from all this is simple: be careful who you poke.

Well, in Orlando the Zimmerman bail hearings took place and Phile reader Aaron Carlson sent me this picture of what he saw on TV.

Way to go graphic artist, way to go. Well, today is Earth Day. I wonder if the next planet we destroy will get its own holiday. Today Disney released their new annual Earth Day film, and this years one is called Chimpanzee. I didn't want to see it until I saw this screen shot. Now I wanna see it.

And now for some very sad news...

Levon Helm
May 26, 1940 - Apr 19, 2012
His two big hit albums were Electric Dirt and Dirt Farmer. 'Nuff said.

Okay, so, apparently I have and other blogs and TV chat shows have been giving Mitt Romney a hard time. And some people want to set the record straight on Mitt. When I say some people I mean mostly one man. So, I thought I would invite him to the Phile to say what he wants to say... man, this is a long winded intro to introduce a brand new Phile character. Lets get on with it. Please welcome to the Phile...

Thank you, Jason. In July 1996, the 14-year-old daughter of Robert Gay, a partner at Bain Capital, had disappeared. She had attended a rave party in New York City and gotten high on ecstasy. Three days later, her distraught father had no idea where she was. Romney took immediate action. He closed down the entire firm and asked all 30 partners and employees to fly to New York to help find Gay’s daughter. Romney set up a command center at the LaGuardia Marriott and hired a private detective firm to assist with the search. He established a toll-free number for tips, coordinating the effort with the NYPD, and went through his Rolodex and called everyone Bain did business with in New York, and asked them to help find his friend’s missing daughter. Romney’s accountants at Price Waterhouse Cooper put up posters on street poles, while cashiers at a pharmacy owned by Bain put fliers in the bag of every shopper. Romney and the other Bain employees scoured every part of New York and talked with everyone they could... prostitutes, drug addicts... anyone. That day, their hunt made the evening news, which featured photos of the girl and the Bain employees searching for her. As a result, a teenage boy phoned in, asked if there was a reward, and then hung up abruptly. The NYPD traced the call to a home in New Jersey, where they found the girl in the basement, shivering and experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a massive ecstasy dose. Doctors later said the girl might not have survived another day. Romney’s former partner credits Mitt Romney with saving his daughter’s life, saying, “It was the most amazing thing, and I’ll never forget this to the day I die.” So, here’s my epiphany: Mitt Romney simply can’t help himself. He sees a problem, and his mind immediately sets to work solving it, sometimes consciously, and sometimes not-so-consciously. He doesn’t do it for self-aggrandizement, or for personal gain. He does it because that’s just how he’s wired. Many people are unaware of the fact that when Romney was asked by his old employer, Bill Bain, to come back to Bain & Company as CEO to rescue the firm from bankruptcy, Romney left Bain Capital to work at Bain & Company for an annual salary of one dollar. When Romney went to the rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, he accepted no salary for three years, and wouldn’t use an expense account. He also accepted no salary as Governor of Massachusetts. Character counts! In terms of integrity, Romney is 100 times better than Obama and his Chicago Regime. Any American that says they will not vote for Romney isn’t thinking straight. If "Silent America" doesn't vote in 2012 – Obama wins. That would NOT be good for America. America has been seriously damaged since Obama took over in Jan. 2009! The Chicago “Radicals” have done must damage from Foreign Affairs to Energy non-management! We cannot all work for or depend on government or we will quickly become another Greece. Wake up your family, your neighbors, your friends, your church, your work-place, and your social contacts! If the America we all know and love isn't voted FOR in 2012, it may well disappear. Multiculturalists, Progressives and Liberals are destroying America with little to no opposition. Apathy could quickly destroy the greatest Country planet Earth has ever known! That's all.

Ummm... thank you, Mike Rotch: Republican Extraordinaire. What a name. Also he could of came up with a better sign to hold. Alright, there's a new Jim Henson graphic novel out and I thought I would invite my good friend Jim Mello, who knows everything about comics, to the Phile to give a review. So, please welcome Jim again in a pheature we call...

Jim Henson's "A Tale of Sand", adapted from the original screenplay by Ramon Perez. Boys and girls,  there comes a time when you view something that supersedes entertainment, supersedes story, supersedes character, and elevates itself into some quasi-Buddhist zen type place where quality and sheer talent sing through the cosmos and tap dance in the halls of glory. That may sound like hyperbole, but then again, you probably haven't picked up "Tale of Sand", recently, huh? In the beginning, before Henson said, "Let there be Muppets", he was a struggling artist and screenwriter experimenting with his own new brand of creation. "Tale of Sand' is not something that should you'd expect from the creator who coined the phrase "Woka woka". It opens in the desert, as a man stumbles into a town finding a veritable ticker tape parade in front of him. He's hoisted on their shoulders, as they smile and sing. A band plays. A woman tears him away from the crowd to dance. The Sheriff takes him aside, hands him a map, and says two things: "Trust the map." and then "Don't trust the map." Oh, and then a third thing: "You'll have a ten minute head start." So, the man starts running. And then someone starts chasing him. If you think that was confusing... It was. The book is a surrealistic chase story, the likes that would have Dali trying to melt as many clocks as possible to keep up. It's themes and ideas are covered in the sand of the nonsensical. Oh, and Ramon Perez? I don't care if you've never read a non-superhero comic in your life, and you hate all good art. You will love this. Each page is so well crafted, using a myriad of tricks and techniques to get the story across. He's also lucky, because this story is a fever dream of imagination and his playground was as big as a metaphorical universe. Every single page is beautiful. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. You've heard the phrase 'We stand on the shoulders of giants', right? Well, between Henson, and Perez, it's giants standing on top of giants. I consider myself lucky for having a chance to look at these pages. The writing itself is straight from the original screenplay, but the lettering was actually based of Jim Henson's own handwriting which I thought was just another touch that put this book above and beyond. That all said I don't think this book is for everyone. It lacks a cognitive story, and it's main character never says more than a few words. It's just a piece of fine art, and sequential storytelling. Even if you hate The Muppets, you'll find something to love in the art. If I could, I'd lend it to each and every one of you.

Alright, today's guest is someone who I wanted on the Phile for a long time. He is an American cartoonist, and co-creator of "Baby Blues" and co-creator of "Zits". His book "Zombie Parents and Other Hopes for a More Perfect World: Zits Sketchbook No. 15" is the 18th book to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Jerry Scott.

Me: Hello, Jerry, welcome to the Phile. Congrats, your new book "Zombie Parents and Other Hopes For A More Perfect World" is part of the Peverett Phile Book Club. Anyway, how are you?

Jerry: Great, thanks.

Me: Okay, let me ask you this right way, recently there was a Foghat reference in "Zits", Jerry. My dad was Lonesome Dave from Foghat, and I was excited about the reference. Then when I read it, and posted it on the Phile. I saw that you were kinda making fun of Foghat. Here is the strip in case no one remembers it.

Me: What the hell? Please tell me you're a Foghat fan really. Are you a Foghat fan?

Jerry: I graduated from high school in 1973, so yeah. Foghat was a part of my musical education, for sure. I can't say that I ever owned an album, though. We had a hi-fi stereo in the living room filled with my folk's albums of (ugh) their music, so I didn't buy many records. I lived in a very small town in Arizona and relied on a tinny, weak radio signal from an Oklahoma City superstation that could be picked up on top of a few hills after 10 p.m. for my music. And one of my buddies had a crummy 8-track player in his car, so we listened to the parts of songs that still worked on his tapes. "Slow ride... take it ea... 'Cause I'm a fool for the cit... she make love like a wildca..." You know what I'm talking about if you ever rode in my buddy's car.

Me: I thought it was funny, even though some people I know, but won't mention, didn't. Anyway, that strip was printed originally a few years ago, am I right?

Jerry: Yes, it was from a few years ago. The strip has reruns whenever we take a week or two off for vacation.

Me: Anyway, Jerry, I have to say, I am a big fan, and this is a great thrill for me to have you here. "Zits" is my all time favorite comic strip ever. You are the writer, right, and Jim Borgman is the artist. You are also an artist as well, right?

Jerry: Yup. We're both writers and both artists.

Me:  How did you meet Jim originally and how did you two decide that Jim would be the artist behind "Zits"?

Jerry:  We knew each other casually when serving together on the National Cartoonists Society's Board of Directors, but we really didn't get to know each other until an airplane we were on blew a tire before takeoff. It took a couple of hours for the pilot to find the spare, I guess, so Jim and I sat and talked. Years later, when I asked Jim for advice about the look of the strip (I was originally going to write and draw it myself), he drew a sketch of a teenager, and that was it. Jim is a Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, if everybody didn't already know that.

Me: Did you both come up with the look for Jeremy, his parents and everybody?

Jerry: Sort of, but Jim did most of the steering.

Me: Where did the character's come from, people you know? Were you like Jeremy when you were a kid?

Jerry: Yes, and yes... or at least I like to think I was like Jeremy. All of the characters are amalgams of people we know, or wish we knew.

Me:  I have to ask, where did the name "Zits" come from, Jerry.

Jerry:  Our editor, the late, great Jay Kennedy had Jim and me on the phone several months before the strip was to launch. We had a working title for the strip... we called it "Working Title". Jay says, "We need a title that will be short, punchy, and says teenager." So I fire back, "Why don't we just call it "Zits?" Laughter all around (nervous laughter from Jay). "Yeah, but we can't call it Zits", says Jay. "It's rude, abrupt and sort of offensive." Jim and I knew we had our title.

Me: Charles Schulz once said that "Zits" is the worst name for a comic strip since "Peanuts". What did you think when you first heard that quote?

Jerry: Huge honor to be criticized by Schulz. He was a friend. Jim had gone to visit him and Schulz had seen the strip. He wasn't afraid to tell people what he thought of their work, especially cartoonists. I think it's a wonderful quote.

Me: Most comic strip characters don't age at all. Those "Peanut" kids never aged, and neither did those kids in "Family Circus". Jeremy had aged though, right? He started off as a 15 year old and is now 16 year old. That's not a whole lot of 'growing up' since '97 when "Zits" first came out, but he did get older. Anyway, what I am trying to ask is Jeremy gonna get older?

Jerry: Don't know. Probably not. We've nudged him forward so that we could open up his world with a driver's license, but that's about as far as the poor kid is likely to age.

Me: I have lots of international readers... okay, not lots, but some. Is "Zits" published overseas as well? What do they call it elsewhere? "Pimples?" LOL. "Acne"?

Jerry: The strip runs in around 45 countries and 12 or 14 languages. It's called "Jeremi", "Jere", "Acne"... mostly Zits, though.

Me: Okay, for the few readers that dunno what "Zits" is about, can you explain it briefly?

Jerry: Here's what the web site ( says: Sixteen-year-old Jeremy Duncan is a high school freshman and an aspiring musician. He daydreams about the day when his band, Goat Cheese Pizza, records their first monster hit single and they all pile into his van for their cross-country, sold-out concert tour. Between naps, study hall and band practice, Jeremy still manages to find time to be the star of the hugely popular comic strip, "Zits". Jeremy is a good kid. He is intelligent and kind, yet he still has the attitude that one would expect from a teenager. His unpredictable mood swings and monosyllabic answers to his parents’ mild-mannered questions often leave them baffled and bemused. Created in 1997 by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Jim Borgman and Reuben Award-winning cartoonist/writer Jerry Scott, "Zits" appears in more 1,600 newspapers worldwide in 45 countries and is translated into 15 different languages. The comic has an estimated daily readership of more than 200 million readers. "Zits" is the only strip in comics history to achieve that milestone in the short span of nine years. The creators, who are parents themselves, have a keen insight into the many physical and emotional changes that teens go through during adolescence, and they have the gift of addressing these common dilemmas with compassion and humor.

Me: Nice explanation, Jerry. Do you ever see "Zits" as a cartoon, or film? I definitely can see it as a film, Jerry. Has there been any talk of that?

Jerry: We've been approached for a film and television show. Neither has worked out for one reason or another. 

Me: What about "Zits" merch? I wanna a "Zits" XXL large t-shirt. I'll send you a Foghat t-shirt for a "Zits" shirt. Whatcha think?

Jerry: Check out the web site. There's a small store there. And yeah, I'll make that trade.

Me: Okay, as I said, you write "Zits" but you are also an artist. When did you first start to draw, Jerry?

Jerry: Like most cartoonists, I started really early decorating text books and notebook covers in elementary school.

Me: You used to draw the "Nancy" strip, right? When did you start to do that? Was that your first professional art job? I think I have a drawing of Nancy here.

Jerry: It wasn't my first professional art job. I worked as an advertising artist. I did the Nancy strip from 1983 - 1995. 

Me: Apart from working on comic strips, what other kinda of work did you do?

Jerry: Commercial art mostly.

Me: Jerry, where are you from, and where do you live now?

Jerry: Born in South Bend, Indiana, moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona when I was 13. I'm not on the central coast of California near the town of San Luis Obispo.

Me: The "Zits" cast live in Ohio, right? How did you pick Ohio to be the place they live?

Jerry: Jim lives there, and the scenery is native to his soul. It was an easy choice, given that we both are from the midwest.

Me: Okay, apart from "Zits" you also work on a strip called "Baby Blues". That strip I am not aware of, Jerry. Do you still work on that one?

Jerry: Yes. Rick Kirkman and I have worked together on Baby Blues for 22 years. It's syndicated in over 1200 newspapers worldwide in 24 countries and 14 languages. Where have you been, Jason?

Me: I dunno. It's not in the Orlando Sentinel I know that. So, who draws that strip?

Jerry: Rick.

Me: What do you like better, drawing or writing?

Jerry: I have the best of both worlds. Writing is often fun for me, and I draw the rough sketches for Zits. I'm a painter, also.

Me: You must be into different comic strips as well. Who are your favorite strips, and who are your influences?

Jerry: Charles Schulz ("Peanuts"), Bill Watterson ("Calvin & Hobbes"), Lynn Johnston ("For Better or for Worse"), Jim Borgman (editorial cartooning, "Zits" and plain old good conversation), John Irving (so many great novels), Lucian Freud (painter), Ed Mell (painter), The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Carole King and lots more. And Foghat, of course.

Me: Okay, let's talk about the new book. That's the 15th sketchbook, right? The new one has 'zombie' in the titles, and zombie are a big thing right now. Who came up with the book's name?

Jerry: Probably me. Jim and I spent a week in upstate New York a couple of years ago and watched a couple of zombie movies with his daughter. She explained the cultural significance of zombies to us, and it seemed like a funny idea. We did a couple of weeks worth of strips with Jeremy's parents as zombies, and liked them so well that we titled the book after the series.

Me: How far back do the strips go that are in the book?

Jerry: The strips in this book go from late December of '09 thru early September of '10.

Me: When you write the strip do you think then what Sketchbook the strips will be in?

Jerry: The Sketchbooks have historically been chronological collections, so. no. They just end up in whatever book they end up in by date.

Me: Is there anything in the book we haven't seen before?

Jerry: Not if you read the funnies every day.

Me: How many strips do you write a day, Jerry? How far ahead are you?

Jerry: As many as I can, which is anywhere from 0 to 6 or 7 when I'm hot. We work about 8 weeks ahead of publication.

Me: How is the comic created? Do you just write the dialogue and Jon draws what he wants around it? Or are you very descriptive?

Jerry: I give Jim pretty tight sketches of what I'm thinking. Then he does his own version. Sometimes they look just like mine, but often they're way better. The beauty of this partnership is that the product is greater than the sum of its parts.

Me: Jerry, thanks so much for being here on the Phile, sir. It was a huge pleasure and I hope this was fun. I am a huge fan like I said, so this was a big deal for me to have you here. I wanna see more Foghat references by the way. Tell Jim I would love to interview him on the Phile and pheature his artwork and please, please come back when sketchbook 16 comes out. All the best, and don't pull a Bill Watterson and end "Zits". Not for awhile anyway. Take care.

Jerry: Thanks, Jason. My pleasure. I'll be looking for that t-shirt in the mail.

Well, that about does it for another entry. Blogger once again changed how you update the entries once again giving me another excuse to ask myself why do I bother? I bother because I get to interview cool people like Jerry Scott and all the others I interview. Anyway, thanks to my guests Jim Mello, check out his Facebook page Comics Will Make You Stronger or visit him at Coliseum of Comics in Orlando, and of course Jerry Scott. I have to work tomorrow so there's not gonna be a Monday entry this week but on Wednesday the Phile will be back with singer Pete RG. Then Sunday it's Alumni Chris Nelson and on Monday singer Lila Rose. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.